Monthly Archives: September 2013

Come The Day And Come The Hour

51199Those of you familiar with rugby will recognise the opening lines from the Irish anthem for the International World Cup of rugby.  We could add here to it by saying “come the day and come the hour; come the man and the country”.

What an amazing month September 2013 has been in the history of mankind. It would be hard to go past the events unfolding in Syria or the peripheral politicking that has taken place surrounding events in Syria.

But to isolate Syria in such a myopic view of the world would be to miss much of what has been the driving factors and influencing motives of the unseen players in this frightful drama being played out in the centre of the Middle East.

Certainly, there will be many with apocalyptic views regarding the prophecies in Daniel and Revelation, who will spin a story around their interpretation of Scripture and how this is going to pan out.

I am not claiming to be so gifted and well connected with God that He has enlightened me with wisdom and understanding of these two books of Scripture, so I will refrain from obvious deductions and to parallels to Scripture. Ok, I can hear a collective sigh of relief – not another religious kook going to tell me the end is here.

What I want to do is to look at the events and explore, more in debth, what is behind the events and perhaps, point to where all this is taking us.

With one statement, the whole pretext for going to war was removed and people were asking what was the US/Saudi end game, if they didn’t accept the offer.  Kerry had to accept; he was proverbially between a rock and a hard place. Sergey Viktorovich Lavrov, the Russian Foreign Minister was all over John Kerry, who had degraded himself and that of his office by following the path of Collin Powel with the Iraqi ruse – Weapons of Mass Destruction lie. So much attention was placed on this aspect, that he left himself no wriggle room at all and the Russians simply cut it off.

But does a leopard change it’s spots? No, and sadly, one would have expected the Russians to have anticipated the weaselling out of the accord by the Americans which followed. History is there – Dmitry Medvedev found out to his eternal consternation and Russia’s ultimate embarrassment that American agreements are not worth the paper they are written on. Medvedev had an agreement on Libya with the US that Gaddafi would not be touched and Libya would not be attacked, if Russia supported their UN resolution – yet, as soon as the US had the resolution, they twisted the interpretation of the wording on the UN resolution to allow the illegal bombing and ultimate assassination of Gaddafi.  From that, we saw the demise of Medvedev and the rise of Putin AND a more resolute Russia. The US/Saudi regime had awoken the bear!

Putin has learnt from that! This time, Russia is standing firm with Syria, regardless and Putin will veto any resolution which will later allow an attack upon Syria. Who should have the Nobel Peace Prize? [That’s another issue, as it is politically motivated by certain players].

When this happened – around that time, it was astounding to see that the UK Parliament refused to follow the US/Saudi war drums! I saw an interview with Putin wherein even he stated that “they were surprised by the UK move – as they always just do as they are told”. Certainly, the suave and greasy David Cameroon was surprised too and had to eat humble pie in Parliament when he said, “I hear you and I have listened”. America was reduced to citing France as it’s only supporter of an illegal military strike. French will do anything to keep their banks from closing. Saudi money there helps that.

When the war drums were beaten for the Iraqi war, the internet and social media was very much still in their infancy – the MSM was the main source of news and propaganda for the masses. Of course people would believe their government and of course Saddie had WMD. Isn’t it amazing how 20 years of internet growth and social media networking has help spread truth to counter the MSM lies?  Powel had to admit to the UN that he lied! Now people remember the story of the little boy who cried wolf and can identify the same story in MSM as they heard years before, and more recently, similar themes.

When I saw the build-up of Russian warships [supported by China – supposedly there to observe], I had a daja vu moment; “we were eyeball to eyeball and they blinked first”.  Some of you might remember the 1962 Cuban missile crisis?  So commonsense had prevailed and the US/Saudis had listened to public opinion, tested the mettle of Russia; and decided not to push it?

It wasn’t until a couple of days ago, towards the end of the month that I started reading reports of a most bizarre “secret” meeting that took place early in the month in Putin’s private dacha, between Putin and Prince Bandar [often called Bandar Bush because of his close ties with the Bush regime of skull and bones] of Saudi Arabia.  It took recognised MSM a day or two to run the story and even then, when they did – it was quite a sanitised version. The Telegraph ran it on 25th Sept and while not telling lies, they omitted substantial parts of the meeting transcript and so, effectively construed the event which is akin to telling a lie.  All of you can Google the story – look up Saudi Arabia threatens Russia: so I will pick the guts out of the transcript.

Essentially, Bandar Bush went to Putin – purportedly with the full backing of the US, and offered to cut a secret deal to carve up the oil profits if Russia would back off on Syria and allow a regime change. Putin quietly and politely offered a nyet. He was not for sale and neither were his principles. Bandar went on to then threaten Russia by turning loose Chechen terrorists to cause havoc in the Winter Sochi Olympics.  Saying that all terrorists groups are under their control and that they can turn them on or off as they like. Just pause for a moment and consider the magnitude and monumental brassiness of this statement. Firstly, he admits that all terrorists acts around the world are controlled by Saudi Arabia and secondly, they are prepared to commit to a horrendous death, innocent civilians and sports people from around the world, as a show of force in the completion of an act of blackmail. Can you ever not wonder at the brutality of these terrorist controllers?  Who do you think is controlling the 90,000 odd foreign terrorists in Syria??  Who do you think committed countless acts of terrorism around the world and who do you think the cartel consists off? Certainly the Bush’s are in there.

Well, it appears that at this stage, the negotiations moved from being polite – Putin warned Bandar that if Syria is attacked, Russia would bomb Saudi Arabia. At last, someone with balls. This threat was communicated to senior members of the Armed Forces with instructions to prepare to strike Saudi Arabia. Obviously, this was leaked.

This direct threat was what stopped the immediate attack on Syria – not some reasoned sensible, logical persuasion. The language the Saudi’s understand, death and destruction, but this time, close to home; this is what stopped the attack.

America was faced with a dilemma, and as we have seen previously, Obomber vacillates considerably on such issues.  From saying that he had all authority to press home a strike, to asking Congress to approve it [wise move as a unilateral strike like he planned was definitely a war crime for which he was personally responsible] to actually now putting it off. The issue for him now was how to sell an attack on and the defence of Saudi Arabia, all on the pretext of going to save Syrians? He also has terrific mounting public opposition to US/Saudi involvement in Syria, in the UK it is over 72% oppose it and in the US it is some 66% oppose.  Coupled with the involvement now of other nations. China is there, Iran has always pledged support, North Korea sniffing and Western nations distancing themselves from it.

Are we finally seeing the power of social media changing political events??

The issue with the WMD lie is quiet clear – who in their right mind, on the eve of a UN delegation to inspect WMD’s,  would go and lobe a shell of Sarin gas among the population??  Why would Assad, when the Syrian Army was winning on all fronts, resort to a desperate action of lobbing a canister of Sarin Gas, and then, only one!? The area where it occurred was terrorist controlled and the inspectors obviously had to grapple with the consequences of that as well as being confronted with planted evidence.  The children supposedly killed by this gas were children from a mountainous region of Assad supporters, who were kidnapped andtaken there by the terrorists to be used as grotesque mannequins in their false flag operation which has been widely reported as being carried out by Israelis. A 100 page detailed report produced by Russia on the use of chemicals weapons in Syria has been brushed aside and Kerry and the West; steadfastly holding to the WMD lie.  The first reported use of Sarin in the MSM was of a shell supposedly being dropped by alone Syria helicopter –  this died a very quick death when it was discovered it was an own goal by the terrorists as they tried to set up a device with Sarin. [Hence the Israelis had to help them with this one].

The Terrorists have gone on Youtube and admitted using Sarin gas.

Why is no one looking to find and punish who actually carried out these attacks [yes, there are more than two].  Why are they all interested in just establishing gas was used? Because they believe that they can lie about it and you will believe it. When Obomber made is Red Line in the Sand comment – that was all the terrorists needed to make it happen. To get major support for their cause. A cause that is foundering.

Remember last month, the Israelis carried out an air strike on a Syria Army convoy? Well, after Syria made it public the Zionists had to come up with an excuse – the excuse was that the convoy was taking weapons to Hezbolla in Lebanon. [even that is no excuse to invade a sovereign country and bomb it – that was a war crime; an act of war]. The truth is, in Jordan there is a major training camp for the terrorists; trained by America and the Israelis, funded by the Saudis.  This is a large camp and the terrorists have been in training for a long time. These were to be “élite troops” among the terrorists.  They were released, and sent over the border with the aim of reaching Damascus, overthrowing the government and assassinating Assad. The goal was an attack at the heart of the regime and finish the war.

When they crossed the border, Russian satellites and intel sources informed the Syrian Army and they ambushed the terrorists, inflicting huge casualties and sending then running like rats back to Jordan. The Syrian Army was in the process of out-flanking them, to cut off their escape back into Jordan, when the terrorists called the Israeli air strike.  Did MSM ever report this?

What has amazed me, and I am sure many of you have wrestled with this as well; is how can the Zionists be in bed with the Saudi Arabs. In fact, how come there appear to be several seemingly dissimilar parties in the NWO cabal? The answer is found in the various interests of the apparently dissimilar groups. The seeming unity is there while the interests suit the various party’s goals. We see this in the rag-tail band of terrorists operating in Syria. While the war appeared to be progressing along their route to regime change, there was unity in the group. When Syrian national forces started to win – [actually, very notably, when the US postponed it’s strike on Syria], the various groups operating there began to schism and show their true agendas.  The adroit move by Assad to offer forgiveness and reconciliation to Syrians who took up the terrorist campaign against him, has resulted in many of the terrorists renouncing the terrorists cause on account of being totally disillusioned by the actions and ideology of the various splinter groups.

This amalgam of ideologies is exemplified in the Zionist/Saudi Arab de facto marriage – rather like a gay wedding; it’s not a real one. For the Zionists, they can live with it because of their old saying – “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. The Zionists aim in the Middle East is to destroy unity in the neighbouring Arab states and in so doing, create  a defence against attack. A weak and fractionalised government/country will not act decisively or forcefully militarily, so by destroying the fabric of these states, Israel protects itself from attack.  For the Saudi Arabs, Israeli expertise and connections with the US in terrorist activates and their intel makes for a very attractive partner.  Drink enough and you will sleep with anything!

However, the Saudi Arabs have a much greater aim here – they are holding huge amounts of US dollars – the Petro Dollar has fuelled [pardon the pun] the rise of the Saudis as a major world player and this has been done very cleverly in conjunction with the US for guarantee of protection for the sale of oil and the Saudi position. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when the Yanks got the Saudi’s to agree for all oil transactions to be in US Dollars. Certainly this move alone, firmly established the US Dollar as the undisputed world reserve currency. The petro dollar has allowed the FED to literally, print money – money without any backing, save people’s faith in it. Challenging this regime [the FED and the Saudi’s] has resulted in the demise of states like Iraq and Libya. However, with the FED’s preparing to crash the dollar, the Saudi’s are getting very jumpy.

Saudis wanted to cash-in on the European market by circumventing the strangle hold of the Straits of Hormuz. Kuwait, Iraq, Saudi Arabia and UEA all ship their oil through the Straits of Hormuz – something like 45% of the world’s oil is shipped via this passage. Whether the West like it or not, Iran can close the Straits to oil passage – actually, the threat of a closure will dissuade oil tankers from using it and if they did force a passage and were convoyed etc, the cost of oil would skyrocket! This fact alone, puts Iran as public enemy number one in the West; all thanks to the Saudi oil cartel. The Saudi solution was to put a pipeline from Iraq, through Syria and into the Mediterranean, thus connecting Europe’s underbelly.  Of course, Zionist Israel benefits from this as well.

Such a move smacks against Russia’s dominant position as the energy supplier to Europe and would undermine the Russian economy, right at a time it least needed it – perhaps torpedoing the move to replace the Dollar and Euro as the Word trade currency and the reserve currency; both of which are controlled by the Banksters and the FED/IMF/World Bank. [More on this later].

Now, perhaps you see the interested parties siding up; those who have to gain and those who have to loose.

Syria, loyal to Russia, would not accept the oil pipeline and so this pipeline – like the one proposed via Georgia, was torpedoed. Russia, now reciprocating the loyalty to Syria.

Because of the failing effort of the terrorist war in Syria and the urgent need of the Saudis to shore up their position before the collapse of the petro dollar, precipitated the desperate offer of an alliance on oil control and the subsequent attempt at blackmailing Russia over the Sochi games, by Bandar Bush.

The other factor pushing this conflagration in the Middle East is the impending collapse of the US Dollar and what will replace it. It is no new news, that America cannot hope to pay it’s debts. It cannot now even hope to pay the interest burden. What will happen when the US Dollar falls to the floor?

Like any banker, the bank holding the debt calls up the loan – and if it cannot be repaid, takes Real Estate in return – that which was provided as security for the loan. This is exactly what Obomber has secretly negotiated with Xi Jinping, the Chinese President.  Because China is holding so much of American debt, the plan is to trade land – US land, for US Debt.  Ever wondered what all the internment camps are being built in the US are for? The “secret” depots of Army transport vehicles etc? These are for those who will resist Chinese ownership when Obomber declares Martial Law when the Dollar drops and he implements the secret debt exchange agreement.

The path is well and truly set for the FED to destroy the dollar; but the fight at the moment is over the replacement of the dollar. The current NWO is facing a real challenge from Russia and China to replace the IMF/World Bank with a truly social and equitable banking system, free from the IMF usury.  The fight now is about fait currency or gold back currency. The IMF/FED/World Bank has grown fat on the false value of fait money – forcing sale of real value on sovereign states for their monopoly money. Any new banking system introduced by them, would seek to preserve the status quo – 85% of the world’s wealth in the hands of 10%.

On the other hand, China has been buying up huge quantities of gold and is backing the Yuan with gold value. In this way, money will have a finite value – it cannot be artificially manufactured. Prices will stabilise, true value will enter the marketplace and a fair and equitable distribution of wealth ensured. No longer will wealth be generated by the petro dollar and the printing of monopoly money.

Some of you will remember the incident last year when China repatriated gold debt from Fort Knox, only to find that it was tungsten laced!  The London Bullion Exchange and IMF/FED went to extraordinarily lengths to quieten this down, but the Chinese response has been inspirational.  China is accepting payment in gold but rather than having traditional imperial weight [troy ounces], they are having all gold cast in Kilogram ingots.  By doing so, they eliminate the tungsten laced bars that Clinton had cast and they symbolically sever the Imperial control of gold – a new epoch bacons.

China now has agreements in place to trade in existing currencies – that is, they agreed to exchange Yuan/Yen, they have agreed to exchange Rouble/Yuan, Aus Dollar/Yuan and probably some others I haven’t caught up on. All of this by-passes the US reserve currency and further erodes the position and faith in the US Dollar.

The establishment of the BRIIICS Group [Brazil, Russia, Indonesia, Iran, India, China and South Africa] and an agreement between them to open currency trade is the death knell for the current NWO. BRIIICS group will establish the Yuan as the standard unit of trade and the Rouble will be the reserve.  Already, they are laying fibre optic between their countries and will by-pass the SWIFT banking system of the international Central Banksters.  The success of this group – no, just the sheer size of it and market potential, will attract other countries just as a large planetary object attracts a smaller one as it passes. It will be a magnet, impossible to resist for the world. Syria will be on-board, but watch for the African continent to join in – already full of discontent at centuries of imperial miss-management and raping of their countries by the ruling élite.  The advent of continent Africa to this group would definitely spell the end of the existing NWO.

Expect a total revaluation of all that we own as the existing monetary value system adjusts to the new BRIIICS monetary system. As the West has forced living standards that are substandard upon the “Third World”, we can expect a similar re-adjustment process to happen as the two standards look for equilibrium. Then we can have a new future to look forward to. One free from the exploitation that has plagued the plant for the last couple of centuries – perhaps even a world with less wars and turmoil.

The one person who has championed this campaign against the NWO, to remove their power base [the control of money] with a vision to destroy the unipolar world system – the have and have nots, is the person currently vilified in the West.

Stand, raise your glasses and toast;  Putin, Vladimir Vladimirovich.

Jim Jones

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/30-09-2013/125768-come_the_day_come_the_hour-0/

Britons Fighting with Syria’s Jihadi ‘Band of Brothers’


Video

In this Channel 4 News exclusive, British and other western jihadi fighters are shown in Syria as never before – fighting and killing, shopping and preparing for a wedding.

The exclusive footage focuses on recruits from a hardline Sunni militia of more than 700 foreign fighters in the Katiba al-Muhajireen (the battalion of migrants) and follows Ibrahim al-Mazwagi, the first British fighter to die in Syria. He was killed in February this year, aged just 21.

The video is the first intimate access to the previously unseen lives of this band of jihadi brothers.

Posted – September 30, 3013

http://bcove.me/2ys9lidi

http://www.channel4.com/news/syria-war-rebels-jihadi-ibrahim-al-mazwagi

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36396.htm

The Sarin Mysteries

Syria, Sarin, and Casus Belli

By Michael Parenti

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry announced that on August 21 the Assad government slaughtered 1,429 people, including 426 children, in a sarin chemical attack in Ghouta, a Damascus suburb. (Doctors Without Borders put the total at about 300.) Secretary Kerry insisted that now the United States had no choice but to launch U.S. bombing attacks against President Bashar al-Assad, devolving into another of America’s “humanitarian wars.”

The Sarin Mysteries
Following Kerry, President Obama announced that the situation in Syria had changed irredeemably since August 21. The United States would have to attack. But, on second thought, Obama decided to leave the decision up to (a seemingly reluctant) Congress.
A few weeks later, Turkish prosecutors issued a lengthy court indictment charging the Syrian rebels with seeking to use chemical weapons. The indictment suggested that sarin gas and other “weapons for a terrorist organization” were utilized by the opposition and not by the Assad government.
The “Syrian freedom fighters” include men who are not even Syrian, much like the many mujahedeen who fought the Soviets in Afghanistan but who were not Afghani. As reported in the Wall Street Journal (September 19, 2013), the ISIS, an Iraqi al Qaeda outfit operating in Syria, “has become a magnet for foreign jihadists” who view the war in Syria not primarily as a means to overthrow Assad “but rather as a historic battleground for a larger Sunni holy war. According to centuries-old Islamic prophecy they espouse, they must establish an Islamic state in Syria as a step to achieving a global one.”

Wrong Hands
Meanwhile, a Mint Press News story quoted residents in Ghouta who asserted that Saudi Arabia gave chemical weapons to an al Qaeda-linked group. Residents blamed this terrorist group for the deadly explosions of August 21. They claimed that some of the rebels handled the weapons improperly and thereby set off the explosions. Anti-government forces, interviewed in the article, said they had not been informed about the nature of the weapons nor how to use them. “When Saudi Prince Bandar gives such weapons to people, he must give them to those who know how to handle them,” complained one rebel militant.

At the same time, the Russian government submitted a 100-page report to the United Nations in early September, regarding an attack upon the Syrian city of Aleppo in March 2013. It concludes that the rebels—not the Syrian government—used the nerve agent sarin. According to a member of the U.N. independent commission of inquiry, Carla Del Ponte, there were “strong, concrete suspicions . . . of the use of sarin gas.” Del Ponte added: “This was used on the part of the opposition, the rebels, not the government authorities.” Many of those killed by the gas attack were Syrian soldiers, according to the report.

If true, then we might wonder why are chemical weapons and other weaponry and supplies being supplied to various al Qaeda-type groups? Is not al Qaeda a secret terrorist organization that delivers death and destruction upon people everywhere? Are we Americans not locked in a global struggle with the demonic jihadists who supposedly hate us because we are rich, successful, and secular, while they are impoverished failures? That certainly is the scenario the U.S. public has been fed for over a decade.

The United States claims it provides military assistance only to “vetted” rebel groups, “free ones” that are friendly toward America and are not Islamic fanatics. (Although, as Senator Croker, Republican from Tennessee, admitted: we sometimes make “mistakes” and give weapons to the wrong rebels.) On September 17, President Obama waived a provision in the federal law that prohibits supplying arms to terrorist groups. To many of us this was an unspoken admission that Washington was giving aid to extremist Islamic groups, of which al Qaeda was only the best advertised.

Remember the Casus Belli
It is difficult for me to accept the charge that on August 21 the Syrian government waged a chemical onslaught in Ghouta against its own people in a situation that was bound to backfire in the worst possible way—by handing over to the U.S. war hawks a casus belli, a perfect excuse to wreak retaliatory “humanitarian” death and destruction upon Syria. This is the last thing the Assad government wants.

Remember how the Spaniards asked the Americans not to send the USS Maine to Havana Harbor in 1898. They feared that something might happen to the ship and the U.S. would use that mishap as a casus belli, putting the blame on Spain. Sure enough, the Maine blew up while sitting in the harbor, sending U.S. public opinion into a jingoistic fury against the Spaniards. But why would Spaniards perpetrate the very act that would give the Americans an excuse and an inducement to wage a war that Spain most certainly did not want and could not win?

And let us not forget the hundreds of imaginary Kuwaiti babies torn from incubators and dashed upon hospital floors by snarling, maniacal Iraqi soldiers. And remember the never-to-be-found weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) that Saddam supposedly was preparing to use but never got around to doing so. And then there’s that Serbian general—never identified or located—who purportedly told his troops (also never identified) to “go forth and rape.” And Qaddafi who reportedly handed out Viagra to his Libyan troops so they could go forth and rape with a drug-driven vigor, a story so obviously fabricated that it was dropped after two days.

Choice: Satellite or Enemy
Why do (some) U.S. leaders seek war against Syria? Like Yugoslavia, Iraq, Libya and dozens of other countries that have felt America’s terrible swift sword—Syria has been committing economic nationalism, trying to chart its own course rather than putting itself in service to the western plutocracy. Like Iran, China, Russia and some other nations, Syria has currency controls and other restrictions on foreign investments. Like those other nations, Syria lacks the proper submissiveness. It is not a satellite to the U.S. imperium. And any nation that is not under the politico-economic sway of the U.S. global plutocracy is considered an enemy or a potential enemy.

The Assad government had social programs for its people, far from perfect services but still better than what might be found in many U.S. satellite countries. When Iraqi refugees fled to Syria to escape U.S. military destruction, the Assad government gave them full benefits. So with the Libyan refugees who crossed over a few years later. Generally Damascus presided over a multi-ethnic society, relatively free of sectarian intolerance and violence.

Syria has been ruled by the Ba’ath Party which has dominated the country’s parliament and military for half a century. The party’s slogan is “Unity, Freedom, Socialism.” Socialism? Now that gets us closer to why the trigger-happy boys in Washington will continue to pursue a “humanitarian war” of attrition and a prolonged campaign of demonization against Assad and his “regime.”

Weapons of Mass Destruction Redux
On September 10, the Syrian government welcomed a Russian proposal calling for Syria to place all of its chemical weapons under international control and for the weapons to be destroyed. Here was a chance to avoid false charges of mass murder by sarin. If Assad no longer had such an arsenal, no one could accuse him of using it. (In any case, the Syrian government’s campaign against the rebels was going well enough using just conventional weapons.)

Instead of winning approval from the humanitarian warriors of the West, Syria’s eager agreement to surrender its chemical arsenal set off a newly framed barrage of threats from U.S. and French leaders, with the irrepressible Secretary Kerry leading the charge. Was this a ploy on Syria’s part or a genuine offer? Kerry asked in a scoffing tone. How can we be certain that Assad would not sequester its enormous stock of chemical weapons? Kerry issued a whole barrage of tough-guy threats. Syria will be treated most harshly if it pursued a path of deception. French President François Hollande called for a United Nations Security resolution that would authorize the use of force if Syria failed to hand over its chemical weapons. One would think that Syria had refused to do so.

The August charge had been that Syria had used chemical weapons , a claim that might be refuted. Now the new charge was that Syria possessed such weapons—which was true. And possession itself was suddenly being treated as a crime deserving of swift and severe retaliation.

Now Assad would have to demonstrate the indemonstrable. He would have to convince the western aggressors that he has handed over his entire stockpile of chemical weapons. At the same time, he asserts that a thorough inspection must not come at the expense of disclosing Syrian military sites or causing a threat to its national security.

Recall how the Saddam government in Iraq, hoping to avoid war, cooperated fully with U.N. inspectors hunting for WMDs. Every facility in the country was opened to investigation. Even after all of Iraq was occupied, the hunt continued. We were told that the WMDs could be anywhere, maybe out in some remote part of the desert. It was impossible to be sure.

I fear that the Syrian population is facing more years of painful attrition. The one faintly positive development is that the FSA and the ISIS and all the murderous, Allah-is-great grouplets continue to attack not only the government forces but each other. Dozens of rebels have been killed in clashes with each other within the last few months.

Meanwhile young Syrian children, now living in refugee camps in Lebanon, go every morning to work long days in the fields, earning the few dollars a day upon which their families depend for survival. Some are as young as 5. When asked what they miss most about Syria, the children say, “school.”

Michael Parenti is the author of “The Face of Imperialism” and “Waiting for Yesterday:Pages from a Street Kid’s Life.” See his website for more information: www.michaelparenti.org

More by Michael Parenti

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36395.htm

A World in Which No One Is Listening to the Planet’s Sole Superpower

The Greater Middle East’s Greatest Rebuff to Uncle Sam

By Dilip Hiro

September 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  What if the sole superpower on the planet makes its will known — repeatedly — and finds that no one is listening?  Barely a decade ago, that would have seemed like a conundrum from some fantasy Earth in an alternate dimension.  Now, it is increasingly a plain description of political life on our globe, especially in the Greater Middle East.

In the future, the indecent haste with which Barack Obama sought cover under the umbrella unfurled by his Russian counterpart, Vladimir Putin, in the Syrian chemical weapons crisis will be viewed as a watershed moment when it comes to America’s waning power in that region.  In the aptly named “arc of instability,” the lands from the Chinese border to northern Africa that President George W. Bush and his neocon acolytes dreamed of thoroughly pacifying, turmoil is on the rise. Ever fewer countries, allies, or enemies, are paying attention, much less kowtowing, to the once-formidable power of the world’s last superpower.  The list of defiant figures — from Egyptian generals to Saudi princes, Iraqi Shiite leaders to Israeli politicians — is lengthening.

The signs of this loss of clout have been legion in recent years.  In August 2011, for instance, Syrian President Bashar al-Assad ignored Obama’s unambiguous call for him “to step aside.” Nothing happened even after an unnamed senior administration official insisted, “We are certain Assad is on the way out.” As the saying goes, if wishes were horses, beggars would ride.

Similarly, in March 2010, Obama personally delivered a half-hour-long chewing out of Afghan President Hamid Karzai, a politician Washington installed in office, on the corruption and administrative ineptitude of his government.  It was coupled with a warning that, if he failed to act, a cut in U.S. aid would follow. Instead, the next month the Obama administration gave him the red carpet treatment on a visit to Washington with scarcely a whisper about the graft and ill-governance that continues to this day.

In May 2009, during his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, President Obama demanded a halt to the expansion of Jewish settlements on the West Bank and in occupied East Jerusalem. In the tussle that followed, the sole superpower lost out and settlement expansion continued.

These are among the many examples of America’s slumping authority in the Greater Middle East, a process well underway even before Obama entered the Oval Office in January 2009.  It had, for years, been increasingly apparent that Washington’s wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, along with several lesser campaigns in the Global War on Terror, were doomed. In his inaugural address, Obama swore that the United States was now “ready to lead the world.” It was a prediction that would be proven disastrously wrong in the Greater Middle East.

Afghanistan and Pakistan

Invaded and occupied Afghanistan was to be the starting point for phase two in the triumphant singular supremacy of Uncle Sam.  The first phase had ended in December 1991 with the titanic collapse of its partner in a MAD — that is, mutually assured destruction — world, the Soviet Union.  A decade later, Washington was poised to banish assorted “terror” constellations from nearly 80 countries and to bring about regime change for the “Axis of Evil” (Iraq, Iran, and North Korea). Having defeated the “Evil Empire” of the Soviets, Washington couldn’t have felt more confident when it came to achieving this comparatively modest aim.

Priority was initially given to sometime ally and client state Pakistan, the main player in creating the Afghan Taliban in the 1990s. Much to the chagrin of policymakers in Washington, however, the rulers of Pakistan, military and civilian, turned out to be masters at squeezing the most out of the United States (which found itself inescapably dependent on their country to prosecute its Afghan war), while delivering the least in return.

Today, the crumbling economy of Pakistan is in such a dire state that its government can keep going only by receiving handouts from the U.S. and regular rollover loans from the International Monetary Fund (IMF). Since the IMF arrangement is subject to Washington’s say-so, it seemed logical that the Obama administration could bend Islamabad to its diktats. Yet Pakistani leaders seldom let a chance pass to highlight American diplomatic impotence, if only to garner some respect from their own citizens, most of whom harbor an unfavorable view of the U.S.

A case in point has been the daredevil actions of Hafiz Muhammad Saeed, the founder-leader of the Lashkar-e Taiba (Army of the Pure, or LeT), listed as a terrorist organization by the U.S. State Department and the United Nations following its involvement in the 2008 attacks in Mumbai, which killed 166 people, including six Americans. In April 2012, the State Department announced a $10 million reward for information leading to Saeed’s arrest and conviction. The bearded 62-year-old militant leader promptly called a press conference and declared, “I am here. America should give that reward money to me.”

He continues to operate from a fortified compound in Lahore, the capital of Punjab. “I move about like an ordinary person — that’s my style,” he told the New York Times’s Declan Walsh in February. He addresses large rallies throughout the country and is a much sought-after guest on Pakistani TV. According to intelligence officials based in the country, the militants of his organization participate in attacks on NATO forces and Indian diplomatic facilities in Afghanistan.

In August, when Saeed led a widely publicized parade on the nation’s Independence Day, protected by local police, all that a spokeswoman at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad could helplessly say was: “We remain concerned about the movements and activities of this person. We encourage the government of Pakistan to enforce sanctions against this person.”

Far more worrisome for Washington was the critical role that the al Qaeda-affiliated Pakistani Taliban, also listed as a terrorist organization by the State Department, played in determining the outcome of the country’s general election in May. It threatened to attack the public rallies and candidates of the ruling Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) because its membership was open to non-Muslims. This tied the party’s hands in a predominantly rural society where, in the absence of reliable opinion polls, the size and frequency of public rallies is considered a crucial indicator of party strength. The outcome: a landslide victory by the opposition Pakistan Muslim League led by Nawaz Sharif, which drastically reduced the strength of the PPP in the National Assembly.

In mid-September, Prime Minister Sharif returned the favor by securing an all-party consensus in the National Assembly to negotiate peace with the Pakistani Taliban without conditions. Militant leaders then raised the stakes by insisting that his government first devise a policy to halt the ongoing U.S. drone campaign against them in the country’s tribal borderlands.

This compelled the Sharif government to announce that it would raise the issue of the American drone campaign at the United Nations General Assembly. Its move is likely to coincide with a report by Ben Emmerson, the UN special rapporteur on human rights and counterterrorism, on U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia to be presented to the General Assembly in October. Emmerson has already described Washington’s drone campaign as a violation of Pakistan’s sovereignty.

In addition, ignoring Washington’s reported disapproval, Sharif’s government has started releasing Afghan Taliban prisoners — one of them “of high value” in the lexicon of the White House — from its jails to facilitate what it calls “reconciliation” in Afghanistan.  As yet, however, there is no sign that Mullah Muhammad Omar, the supreme leader of the Afghan Taliban (widely believed to be under surreptitious Pakistani protection), is ready to negotiate with the government of Karzai whom he regularly denounces as an American puppet.

In early August, in his annual Eid al Fitr (Festival of Breaking the Fast) message, Omar was unmistakably hawkish. “As to the deceiving drama under the name of elections 2014, our pious people will not tire themselves out, nor will they participate in it,” he said. He then called for continued struggle against U.S.-led NATO troops and their Afghan allies, and urged Kabul’s security forces to direct their guns at foreign solders, government officials, and Afghans cooperating with the U.S.-led troops.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has been pressuring Karzai to sign an agreement that, among other things, would allow the Pentagon to maintain a significant “footprint” in Afghanistan under the rubric of “training Afghan forces” after the withdrawal of U.S. and other NATO combat troops by December 2014.  So far, despite his dependence on Washington for his political survival, Karzai has been playing hardball.

In this, Washington is heading down a familiar path.  In Iraq, both the Bush and Obama administrations tried to reach an agreement with a government the U.S. had helped install to leave behind 10,000-20,000 military trainers and special operations troops. It failed when the pro-Tehran, Shiite Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki doggedly refused.

These days, despite the repeated U.S. complaints and requests, the Maliki government continues to allow Iranian arms to be sent overland and through its air space to the Syrian regime of President Bashar al-Assad. In late August, during the Syrian chemical weapons crisis, Iraq even declared that it wouldn’t allow its airspace to be used for military strikes on Syria.

The Diminishing “Coalition of the Willing”

In a controversial New York Times op-ed on September 11th, Russian President Putin wrote of President Obama’s plan to launch a military strike against Damascus, “It is alarming that military intervention in internal conflicts has become commonplace for the United States… Millions around the world increasingly see America not as a model of democracy but as relying solely on brute force, cobbling coalitions together under the slogan, ‘you’re either with us or against us.’”

Only days earlier, however, President Obama had failed to form a “coalition of the willing” on the Syrian issue at the G20 summit in St. Petersburg, managing to rally only 10 members. Those who opposed military strikes against Syria without a U.N. Security Council mandate included the five-strong BRICS powers — Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa — along with Indonesia, the world’s most populous Muslim nation, and Argentina.

A week earlier, the British parliament defeated a motion to join a U.S.-led operation against Syria. With the British “poodle” slipping Washington’s leash — an unprecedented act in recent memory — Obama was lost.

In desperation, he turned to Congress, where, thousands of miles from the Greater Middle East, only a minority tuned in. Responding to the overwhelming sentiments of their constituents and opinion polls showing that remarkably few Americans believed an attack on Syria in national interest, the lawmakers started lining up to give Obama a resounding thumbs-down. It was only then, after an offhand remark by his Secretary of State John Kerry was taken up by Moscow, that Obama went on television and accepted the outlines of Putin’s proposed plan for Syria’s chemical weapons.

A Landmark Deal Underscores U.S. Decline

Undoubtedly, the Syrian deal struck in Geneva between Kerry and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov favored the Kremlin. It put any American attack firmly on the back burner. It brought the U.N. Security Council, earlier skirted by the Obama White House, center-stage as the primary agency to implement and supervise the deal. In the process, it underscored the continuing influence of Russia as a permanent member of the Council with a veto. Moscow also managed to spare the Assad regime the degradation of its military capabilities that would have resulted from the Pentagon’s strikes. In so doing, it enabled the Syrian leader to maintain the current battlefield superiority of his forces. Overall, the Syrian rebels and Washington were unmitigated losers.

Among other losers were Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Jordan. On the opposite side of the equation were Iran and the military rulers of Egypt, albeit for diametrically contrary reasons. For Tehran, a Syria governed by Assad, a member of the Alawi sub-sect within Shiite Islam, is a linchpin in the axis of resistance against Israel. For the generals in Cairo, the demon is the Muslim Brotherhood, whose Syrian branch is the foremost foe of Assad.

Having overthrown Muhammad Morsi, the first democratically elected ruler in Egypt’s long history, the generals are now busily attempting to eradicate the Brotherhood itself, the oldest political party in the region. Following their July 3rd coup, they were reassured when Obama, though perturbed by their actions, meticulously avoided using that word “coup,” which would have resulted in a suspension of aid as mandated by the U.S. Foreign Assistance Act.  In contrast, his administration did suspend aid to the African state of Mali in March 2012 when, in a bloodless coup, the military toppled democratically elected President Amadou Toure.

If Obama was having second thoughts on his Egyptian policy, “marathon phone calls” from Jerusalem evidently ensured that no significant action would be taken against the military junta.

Israel’s prime minister and foreign minister Benjamin Netanyahu, defense minister Moshe Yaalon, and national security adviser Yaakov Amidror engaged their American counterparts — Kerry, Chuck Hagel, and Susan Rice — in telephone conversations urging them not to freeze the $1.3 billion in military aid to the post-Morsi regime.

To the delight of the generals in Cairo, Israel’s lobbying continued unabated in Washington. Among others, Michael B. Oren, Israel’s ambassador in Washington, argued forcefully for an uninterrupted flow of U.S. aid. “Israel has been waging an almost desperate diplomatic battle in Washington,” wrote Alex Fishman, a leading Israeli columnist, in Yediot Aharonoton August 25. That was just 10 days after Egypt’s Interior Ministry troops had massacred nearly 1,000 Brotherhood supporters while clearing two protest sites in Cairo where pro-Morsi partisans had been staging peaceful open air sit-ins. Obama responded by saying, “Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back.” But all he did was to cancel an upcoming annual joint military exercise with Egypt.

The evident impotence of Washington before yet another client state with an economy in freefall was highlighted by therevelation that since the ouster of Morsi, Secretary of Defense Hagel had 15 telephone conversations with Egyptian Defense Minister General Abdul Fattah el-Sisi, the coup leader, pleading with him to “change course” — but in vain — a repeat of Washington’s experience with Karzai, the Pakistani leaders, and Assad.

The threat that Washington might cut-off its military aid to Egypt was promptly countered by its long-standing ally in the region: Saudi Arabia. In a gesture of undisguised defiance of U.S. wishes, Saudi foreign minister Saud al Faisal pledged publicly that his country would fill any financial gaps left if the U.S. and the European Union withdrew aid to Cairo. With Riyadh’s budget surplus of $103 billion last year, his words carried weight.

Within a week of the coup in Cairo, the three oil-rich states of Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates — each dependent on the Pentagon for its external security — poured $12 billion into the bankrupt Egyptian treasury. In this way, these autocratic monarchies encouraged the military junta to defy Washington’s pleas for a return to democracy.

Launching a blitz of jingoistic propaganda and pumping up Egyptian xenophobia, the generals have gone beyond thumbing their noses at Uncle Sam. They have even concocted wild theories about how Washington has colluded with the Muslim Brotherhood.  These are now being assiduously peddled through the state-controlled media and its compliant private sector counterpart.

In late August, for instance, the state-owned newspaper, Al Ahram, citing “security sources,” published a sensational front-page story by its editor-in-chief Abdel Nasser Salama. It claimed the authorities had foiled a plot involving U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson, Brotherhood leader Kharat El Shater (by then under arrest), “37 terrorists,” and 200 Gaza-based jihadists to infiltrate the Sinai Peninsula through clandestine tunnels between the two territories, and create chaos.  This was to be a preamble to isolating Upper Egypt and declaring it independent of Cairo. In response, Ambassador Patterson did no more than send a note of protest to Salama. Such stories have become grist for the Egyptian rumor mill and are transforming fantasies into facts in the popular psyche.

At the turn of the century, who could have imagined that barely a decade later an official mouthpiece for an emergent military dictator in Egypt, a client state of Uncle Sam for a quarter of a century, would have the audacity to malign Washington in this way while its generous aid package continued to flow in uninterrupted? If you need a marker for the waning of American power in the Greater Middle East, look no further.

Dilip Hiro, a TomDispatch regular, has written 34 books, including After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World. His latest book is A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Middle East (Interlink Publishing Group).

Copyright 2013 Dilip Hiro

This article was originally published at TomDispatch

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36383.htm

The NSA Deserves a Permanent Shutdown

By Norman Solomon

September 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  To the people in control of the Executive Branch, violating our civil liberties is an essential government service. So — to ensure total fulfillment of Big Brother’s vast responsibilities — the National Security Agency is insulated from any fiscal disruption.

The NSA’s surveillance programs are exempt from a government shutdown. With typical understatement, an unnamed official told The Hill that “a shutdown would be unlikely to affect core NSA operations.”

At the top of the federal government, even a brief shutdown of “core NSA operations” is unthinkable. But at the grassroots, a permanent shutdown of the NSA should be more than thinkable; we should strive to make it achievable.

NSA documents, revealed by intrepid whistleblower Edward Snowden, make clear what’s at stake. In a word: democracy.

Wielded under the authority of the president, the NSA is the main surveillance tool of the U.S. government. For a dozen years, it has functioned to wreck our civil liberties. It’s a tool that should not exist.

In this century, the institutional momentum of the NSA — now fueled by a $10.8 billion annual budget — has been moving so fast in such a wrong direction that the agency seems unsalvageable from the standpoint of civil liberties. Its core is lethal to democracy.

A big step toward shutting down the National Security Agency would be to mobilize political pressure for closure of the new NSA complex that has been under construction in Bluffdale, Utah: a gargantuan repository for ostensibly private communications.

During a PBS “NewsHour” interview that aired on August 1, NSA whistleblower William Binney pointed out that the Bluffdale facility has a “massive amount of storage that could store all these recordings and all the data being passed along the fiberoptic networks of the world.” He added: “I mean, you could store 100 years of the world’s communications here. That’s for content storage. That’s not for metadata.”

The NSA’s vacuum-cleaner collection of metadata is highly intrusive, providing government snoops with vast information about people’s lives. That’s bad enough. But the NSA, using the latest digital technology, is able to squirrel away the content of telephone, e-mail and text communications — in effect, “TiVo-ing” it all, available for later retrieval.

“Metadata, if you were doing it and putting it into the systems we built, you could do it in a 12-by-20-foot room for the world,” Binney explained. “That’s all the space you need. You don’t need 100,000 square feet of space that they have in Bluffdale to do that. You need that kind of storage for content.”

Already the NSA’s Bluffdale complex in a remote area of Utah — seven times the size of the Pentagon — is serving as an archive repository for humungous quantities of “private” conversations that the agency has recorded and digitized.

Organizing sufficient political power to shut down the entire National Security Agency may or may not be possible. But in any event, we should demand closure of the agency’s mega-Orwellian center in Bluffdale. If you’d like to e-mail that message to your senators and representative in Congress, click here.

“The U.S. government has gone further than any previous government … in setting up machinery that satisfies certain tendencies that are in the genetic code of totalitarianism,” Jonathan Schell wrote in The Nation as this fall began. “One is the ambition to invade personal privacy without check or possibility of individual protection. This was impossible in the era of mere phone wiretapping, before the recent explosion of electronic communications — before the cellphones that disclose the whereabouts of their owners, the personal computers with their masses of personal data and easily penetrated defenses, the e-mails that flow through readily tapped cables and servers, the biometrics, the street-corner surveillance cameras.”

“But now,” Schell continued, “to borrow the name of an intelligence program from the Bush years, ‘Total Information Awareness’ is technologically within reach. The Bush and Obama administrations have taken giant strides in this direction.”

Those giant strides have stomped all over the Fourth Amendment, leaving it gasping for oxygen. That amendment now reads like a profound articulation of opposition to present-day government surveillance — a declaration of principle that balks at the lockstep of perpetual war mentality and rote surrender of precious civil liberties. To acceptance of the NSA and what it stands for, we must say and say and say: No way. No way. No way.

Norman Solomon is co-founder of RootsAction.org and founding director of the Institute for Public Accuracy. His books include “War Made Easy: How Presidents and Pundits Keep Spinning Us to Death.” Information about the documentary based on the book is at www.WarMadeEasyTheMovie.org.

NSA stores metadata of millions of web users for up to a year, secret files show: Vast amounts of data kept in repository codenamed Marina – Data retained regardless of whether person is NSA target – Material used to build ‘pattern-of-life’ profiles of individuals

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36386.htm

Government Shutdown Approaches

What a Way to Run a Country

By Stephen Lendman

September 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  Americans get the best democracy money can buy. The best, brightest and most honorable are excluded. Rare exceptions prove the rule.

Washington is dysfunctional, out-of-control, corrupt, lawless and self-serving. Both parties represent two sides of the same coin.

At the same time, each one jousts with the other. They do it for political advantage. Self-interest is the coin of the realm.

Ordinary Americans lose out. No one in Washington represents them. America is a democracy in name only.

Calling it that is a convenient illusion. Numerous examples explain. A looming government shutdown approaches. What a way to run a country. More on what doing it means below.

The last one occurred in late 1995/early 1996. Most people don’t remember. The world didn’t come to an end.

Government shut down after Clinton vetoed a Republican-sponsored spending bill.

Non-essential federal workers were furloughed. They were out from November 14 through November 19 and from December 16 until January 6.

A temporary spending bill resumed normal operations from November 20 through December 15.

Twenty-eight days were adversely affected. Republicans wanted deeper budget cuts than Democrats.

A 2010 Congressional Research Service report explained what happened. Several hundred thousand federal workers were furloughed.

According to the White House Office of Management and Budget, the cost was at least $1.4 billion.

Economically it hardly mattered. Ordinary people felt it most. Payments to veterans were suspended. National parks were closed.

An estimated 200,000 passport applications weren’t processed. Visa application processing was suspended.

Airlines and other tourism related businesses lost millions of dollars. About 20% of Washington area contracts were impacted.

So were health services, environmental cleanup, law enforcement and public safety.

A September 2013 Congressional Research Service (CRS) report is titled “Shutdown of the Federal Government: Causes, Processes and Effects.”

The Antideficiency Act (ADA) dates from 1884. Updating amendments followed. The legislation prohibits Congress from incurring obligations or appropriating funds in excess of amounts available.

Federal agencies must stop operating when budgeted dollars run out. So-called “exempted activities” aren’t affected. They include the military and other sectors affecting national security.

Some consequences of shutting down government remain unclear. According to CRS:

“Programs that are funded by laws other than annual appropriations acts – for example, some entitlement programs – may, or may not, be affected by a funding gap.”

“Specific circumstances appear to be significant. For example, although the funds needed to make payments to beneficiaries may be available automatically pursuant to permanent appropriations, the payments may be processed by employees who are paid with funds provided in annual appropriations acts.”

On or around October 17, America reaches its debt limit. If Congress fails to raise it, the Treasury runs out of money. According to CRS:

“In a debt limit impasse the government no longer has an ability to borrow to finance its obligations.”

“As a result, the federal government would need to rely solely on incoming revenues to” do so.

“If this occurred during a period when the federal government was running a deficit, the dollar amount of newly incurred federal obligations would exceed the dollar amount of newly incoming revenues.”

“In such a situation, an agency may continue to obligate funds, because it has budget authority available for obligation, provided that appropriations are in place.”

“However, the Treasury Department may not be able to liquidate all obligations that result in federal outlays, due to a shortage of cash, which may result in delays in federal payments and disruptions in government operations.”

On September 20, the Washington Post headlined “Wondering about a government shutdown? First thing to know: It all won’t disappear.”

If Capitol Hill and Obama don’t agree by midnight September 30, “much of the federal government is set to run out of money (by mid-October), and large functions of the federal world could shut down Oct. 1.”

WaPo discussed “basics of what a government shutdown might look like.”

(1) Who’s at fault? It depends on your political persuasion.

America’s fiscal year ends on September 30. Under current budget law, Congress must approve 12 appropriations bills.

“It almost never happens” on time. Over the past 17 years, “Congress did not meet its statutory deadline for approving the spending bills.”

Confrontation today is over Obama’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). On Friday, the Republican controlled House approved a stopgap funding bill.

It excludes ACA funding. Democrats control the Senate. They passed legislation including it.

Unless one side blinks, nonessential government operations will cease on midnight Monday night. They’ll remain nonoperative until both parties resolve budget impasse disagreements.

(2) Has Washington prepared to shut down?

“Yes. The Obama administration told agencies this week to begin planning for a partial shutdown.”

“A memo issued to agencies said that ‘prudent management requires that agencies be prepared for the possibility of a lapse.’ “

“Federal managers must review which of their employees would be essential and required to come to work, and which would be non-essential and sent home during a shutdown.”

Hundreds of thousands of federal employees will be furloughed. They’ll remain out until budget impasse squabbles are resolved.

(3) “Does the entire government close?” Exempted activities aren’t affected. Certain agencies will continue operating with unpaid staff.

According to the Office of Management and Budget, they include employees who:

  • “Provide for national security, including the conduct of foreign relations essential to the national security or the safety of life and property.

  • Provide for benefit payments and the performance of obligations under no-year or multi-year contract or other funds remaining available for those purposes.

  • Conduct essential activities to the extent that they protect life and property.”

Agency managers must decide who works and who doesn’t. Borders will still be patrolled. VA hospitals will keep providing healthcare services. They’re skimpy during normal times.

Mail will be delivered.

(4) What about Social Security payments and safety net protections?

They’re mandatory obligations. At worst, payments will slow. They’ll still be made. Beneficiaries won’t lose out.

(5) Will federal workers and contractors be paid? Working staff will receive retroactive salaries once normal operations resume.

Congress must decide if furloughed employees will get lost pay. In past shutdowns they did. It’s no guarantee they will this time.

They can’t substitute vacation time or other paid leave. They can’t work voluntarily. Doing so is prohibited.

(6) What about past shutdowns? Between 1977 and 1980, six occurred. From 1981 – 1996, nine followed.

Current budget battles suggest more to come. Things may get uglier than earlier. In 2013, no appropriation bills were enacted.

As of midnight September 30, the entire federal government will be unfunded. For how long remains to be seen.

A greater issue is the looming debt ceiling. If it’s not raised, the Treasury runs out of money. It’s usually routine to fund it.

Perhaps this year will be different. By mid-October we’ll know. It bears repeating. What a way to run a country. Given the bipartisan criminal class running things, it doesn’t surprise.

(7) Weren’t many federal employees furloughed earlier this year?

Almost half of them were for short periods. Doing so followed automatic sequestration cuts. The Defense Department furloughed about 650,000 civilian employees. They were out for six days.

Pay for federal workers was frozen three years ago. They’ve been cheated out of what they rightfully deserve.

Obama ordered it. He wants social America destroyed. He’s going all out to assure it. He prioritizes neoliberal harshness.

He supports capital’s divine right. He supplied trillions of dollars of public money to make more of it. He’s done it at the public’s expense.

He’s dismissive of vital safety net protections. Let ‘em eat cake is official administration policy.

Limitless funding for monied interests and imperial wars alone matter. Ordinary Americans lose out. They’re increasingly on their own sink or swim.

(8) Will Obama, Congress and political appointees keep working?

Yes. They’re exempt from furloughs. Some White House and congressional staffers aren’t. It’s up to their bosses to decide.

In past shutdowns, America’s judiciary had enough funding for two weeks. If Washington shuts down longer this time, federal courts won’t resume operations until budget impasse disputes are resolved.

(9) How do shutdowns end?

Congress and the White House must decide. No legal time limit is mandated. Public pressure works best.

When politicians feel heat, they react. It remains to be seen what happens this time.

Perhaps voters one day will catch on. Throwing out bums for new ones doesn’t work.

Voting Republican or Democrat is like choosing between death by hanging or electrocution. Either way you’re dead.

Each party replicates the other. Disputes are solely for political advantage. Public interests don’t matter.

Democracy in America is a convenient illusion. It’s more hypocrisy than real. Rogues, scalawags, and criminals run things. Ordinary people lose out altogether.

Things are worse now than ever. America’s on a fast track toward tyranny and ruin. It’s being thirdworldized. Bipartisan complicity assures it.

Change more than ever is needed. Regime change begins at home. Electoral politics doesn’t work. Washington is too pernicious, corrupt and dysfunctional to fix.

It’s way too late for scattered reforms. Change requires bottom up action. Ordinary people have enormous power.

Key is using it. It takes more than marches, rallies, slogans or violence. It takes sustained commitment.

It takes withdrawing cooperation. It takes breaking entrenched rules. It takes challenging reprisals. It takes resolve.

It takes ordinary people deciding enough’s enough. Same old, same won’t be tolerated.

Hardship and discontent motivate people to act. Doing so disruptively works.

What better time than now to say no more. What better time to stay the course. What better time to demand real change. Nothing less is acceptable.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html – Visit his blog site atsjlendman.blogspot.com. Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network. It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening. http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour – http://www.dailycensored.com/way-run-country/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36394.htm

People Across America Are Waking Up to the Effects of ‘Disaster Capitalism’ — a Much Better Way of Life Is Possible

People are taking initiative rather than waiting for leaders.

By Kevin Zeese, Margaret Flowers

September 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Alternet” –   In her book Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism, Naomi Klein explains how crises are used by governments to distract and frighten people so that unpopular and exploitative policies can be pushed through

It seems that now there is a different reaction disaster capitalism. Rather than disasters providing cover for the implementation of dangerous capitalist policies that lower wages and increase the wealth divide, the disasters being caused by these dangerous policies have woken the public and are leading to a more active and empowered people.

We face a triple threat of the “e”crises – in the economy, environment and energy – which are all connected, says journalist and academic Nafeez Ahmed, but rather than allowing them to overwhelm and weaken us, people are rising to the challenge of solving these crises through direct confrontation with the forces that created them and by building alternative solutions. People are taking initiative rather than waiting for leaders.

Ahmed states, “People are really hungry actually for answers, hungry for solutions, hungry for alternatives, so really this is actually an unprecedented opportunity. It’s an unprecedented crisis but it’s also an opportunity to dream-weave and say ‘well actually everything is going to go to pot over the next 20-30 years if we don’t change, so here’s an opportunity to think outside the box.’”

Enough people appear to recognize that the political system is dysfunctional and does not serve the public’s needs or interests. We saw this recently with the President’s call for an attack on Syria. Instead of falling for the media propaganda telling us that we must intervene to save Syrians from more chemical attacks, the public demanded that the President go to Congress, that there be an investigation into the facts and that the rule of law be followed.  The attack was averted.

US foreign policy is rarely attacked but stopping the war on Syria shows that something may be changing.  There were numerous critical reviews of President Obama’s speech to the United Nations.  One of the most important was Jeremy Scahill’s analysis of a portion of the president’s speech where he openly talked about the US using military force to protect our “core interests,” a virtual admission of imperialism.  Another was David Swanson’s review of the speech were he listed the top 45 lies in Obama’s speech at the UN.

But the article that was most relevant to the building of the resistance movement was by David Lindorff who focused on the president telling the world that the US opposes violence to suppress dissent.  Lindroff pointed to the coordinated attack on the Occupy Movement, where Homeland Security and other federal agencies worked with local police to arrest more than 8,000 protesters, use pepper spray, flashbangs, clubs and fists as well as infiltration and creating internal dissension in an attempt to destroy the movement.  The hypocrisy of President Obama in making this statement to the world was astounding.

Speaking of extreme reactions to protest, we continue to see examples in the US.  Last week a Modesto Junior Collegestudent was prevented from handing out free copies of the Constitution.  And in Maryland a parent who tried to ask a question about the Common Core curriculum was arrested.  He tried to speak because the authorities were only taking questions from index cards and had not asked any questions about the curriculum that many parents were concerned about.  These types of actions show the power structure is very insecure about Americans speaking up and taking action.

General David Petraeus has been a target of people opposed to war. On the way to his first class the retired General and former CIA director was chased down the street by people calling him a war criminal and threatening to protest at every class he taught at CUNY.  Then he was protested at a fundraiser. The protests keep growing. This week, when veterans announced they would protest a luncheonin Los Angeles, Petraeus cancelled his appearance. This is a major change as it is rare to see a former general called a war criminal in the United States.

This week, we are being told that there is a budget crisis and that we must accept more cuts, more austerity measures. But many Americans understand that austerity actually causes more economic decline rather than recovery. In response, nurses and health care workers in 13 countries had a global day of action against austerity, cuts to healthcare and for a tax on stock transactions. And there have been some victories. This week in New York City, nurses won a series of battles in the courts and electoral arena that will keep community hospitals open.

We know that the economy is rigged so that the working class is subsidizing the richest, that our wealth is trickling up.  An analysis published this week found the average U.S. family subsidizes Big Business by $6,000 annually.  This is outrageous at a time when most Americans are struggling to survive.

Instead of accepting cuts and declining wages, workers are fighting back. We’ve been reporting on the striking Walmart and fast food workers. Now people are realizing that they are fighting for all of us. And, in North Carolina where teachers are not allowed to unionize or strike, there is talk of a teacher walk-out.

Labor unrest is building and big labor needs to change to catch-up to American workers anger. There is lots of criticism of big labor for its ties to the Democratic Party and cautious lack of activism, but there are some good signs in labor as well.  United Students Against Sweatshops which has been winning victories, is allying with the AFL-CIO.  Our hope is the students pull the AFL-CIO toward more activism.

People are seeing that the Democratic Party is behind the neo-liberal economic agenda. Democrats are joining the GOP to privatize and log national forests and cut education funding.  And the husband of Senator Feinstein is selling our commons, in this case publicly-owned Post Office buildings, to his friends cheap in order to line his family’s pockets with our commonwealth.

On the bright side, as people speak-up, mobilize and take action not only is there a growing movement but the power structure is being divided. Divisions are occurring in the Democratic Party where some are being pulled away from Obama’s pro-Wall Street, market-based policies that undermine the social infrastructure.

We hope that trend will continue, especially with regard to the mother of all neo-liberal policies, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) that has been negotiated in secret for more than three years. This is a rigged corporate trade agreement (falsely called “free trade” for marketing purposes) that will do very little to get the economy going but will add to many of the mistaken market policies that hinder the economy and make it unfair. A study published by the Center for Economic and Policy Research made some amazing findings about the TPP: (1) the impact on economic growth will be almost nothing, only a .1% increase in the GDP, but (2) the impact on most Americans will be negative with 90% of workers seeing their wages decline.  The TPP will add to the decline of the middle class, race to the bottom in wages and continue the expansion of the wealth divide.

As it comes down to the wire – we expect a push by the President for Congress to grant him Fast Track (Trade Promotion Authority) so that he can sign it before Congressional review – resistance to the TPP is growing. In Maine, where the state House of Representatives unanimously passed a resolution opposing “Fast Track,” Rep. Sharon Anglin Treat sees the a broad, bi-partisan opposition developing. The OWS made the TPP a focus of its anniversary protest with Adam Weissman of Occupy Trade Justice describing it as the “anti-Occupy” agreement, “a 1% power grab.”

In Washington, DC, a coalition of unions, environmentalists and Public Citizen organized a protest against the TPP on Friday, while lead negotiators were inside discussing the agreement. Over the weekend as part of a TPP Training organized by Flush The TPP (which includes both authors), activists produced light projections on a federal building.  And, then on Monday, protests escalated as activists  scaled the US Trade Rep’s building and covered it with four massive banners in order to expose their secret negotiations, as captured in this video.  The Washington Post said the “guerrilla theater . . . demonstration could rank among the best ever.” On Tuesday the activists celebrated with a “Don’t Fast Track a Train Wreck” March that began at the White House went to the US Trade Rep, World Bank, US Chamber of Commerce, through the business district, and ended at Congress. You can see a video of the Fast Track train march at the end of this article summarizing the spectacle protests.

Opposition to the TPP is going to continue to grow as more of the secret agreement becomes public knowledge.  This week information about the impact of the TPP on two of the hottest environmental issues – hydro-fracking and tar sands – came out. The TPP could allow an end run by the oil and gas industry around local opposition to fracking and gas exports. And, the US Trade Rep, Mike Froman, is pushing less regulation of the already inadequately regulated tar sands industry.

As environmental justice activists realize the TPP could undo all of their good work to stop extreme energy extraction, they will join the effort to stop the TPP.  Already 75,000 have threatened civil disobedience if Obama approves the KXL pipeline, and they reiterated that threat in letters to President Obama this week.

Activism for environmental justice has been constantly building in recent years, especially this summer.  There were protests across the country in recent weeks. Here are a few examples to highlight some of the diverse tactics used:  a renewable energy barn was built in path of Keystone XL Pipeline in Nebraska, activists in Montana stopped a coal trainstudent artists, activists are aiming for fossil-free investment at Washington University. This is a global movement as can be seen from the protests in Russia with an extreme reactionfrom the Russian government and in Ecuador this week.

A strong environmental movement that is independent of the corporate political parties is critical to addressing climate change effectively. Naomi Klein is seeing divisions between the Big Green environmental groups and the grassroots environmental groups; indeed, she says the Big Greens may be more damaging than the climate deniers.  And, the corrupt linkage between some Green groups and the Democrats can be seen in the Blue Green Alliance that is giving the environmentally-damaging governor of California an award, at which there will be protests.  In fact, the Big Greens and the Democratic Party are critical parts of the power structure that keeps the status quo in place.  For the popular resistance movement to be successful we need to divide those groups and pull people from them into the movement.

This video produced by the Post Carbon Institute explains why our current way of life cannot continue. Access to fossil fuels is declining and their extraction increasingly destructive. It requires us to change our way of living but this can be a positive transformation. The current crises are activating more of us and are forcing us to work together to create new solutions, such as the ones described by Gar Alperovitz in Ten things You Can Do to Democratize the Economy. In fact, it is already happening.Cooperatives employ more people than multinational corporations.  Join us.  People are taking up the challenge. It is time for the people to lead and create the kind of world we want to live in.

Kevin Zeese, JD and Margaret Flowers, MD are participants in PopularResistance.org; they co-direct  It’s Our Economy  and co-host  Clearing the FOG  shown on UStream TV and heard on radio. Their twitters are @KBZeese and MFlowers8.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36391.htm

Lavrov Says Syrias Rebels Have Chemical Arms, Proof Mounting

By Interfax

September 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “Interfax” – Russia has collected sufficient evidence to implicate Syrian rebels in using chemical weapons near Aleppo on March 19. According to Foreign Minister Lavrov, sarin gas, that was unleashed against civilians outside the northern city was crudely-made, as the Russian investigation confirms.

The Russian foreign chief added the results of the probe were available to all member states of the UN Security Council.

“We have information that the tragic incident on August 21, where chemical weapons were used according to confirmed reports, involved sarin of the same origin as the chemical toxin fired on March 19, although it was far stronger. We have submitted these findings to our US partners and to the UN Secretariat,” Lavrov told Russia’s Channel One.

The minister also reminded journalists about a phone call between two rebel fighters that was caught on tape and subsequently covered by the Kommersant newspaper.

Lavrov said Moscow made the incident known to the US and other proponents of the Syrian opposition, calling on them “to make sure that their ‘charges’ kept their hands off any chemical weapons or their components, to say nothing of using them”.

“We are certain that militants have more than once attempted such provocations. Therefore, the direct sponsors of opposition forces, who offer them support, must also see to it that they give up on further provocations,” the minister underscored, adding that Syria’s security agenda must be tackled only with help from its government.

“The main idea is to let the OPCW experts play the first fiddle, while the UN plays a supporting role by providing additional personnel if needed and, first and foremost, by protecting watchdogs that are to inspect Syrian chemical arms depots as listed by the country’s government”.

“Of course, we are still to agree the details of this plan. In this sense, the UN Security Council’s resolution will entitle the UN secretary general to come forth with his recommendations during consultations with the OPCW’s chief.”

Mr. Lavrov stressed that there was a duty on the opposition, as well as on the government, to guarantee the security of UN inspectors.

Lavrov urges Syria neighbors to bar opposition from obtaining chemical arms

UN member countries, especially Syria’s neighbors, should not allow their territories to be used for providing Syrian opposition groups with chemical armaments or their components, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told Channel One on Saturday.

The resolution stresses chemical weapons must not fall into the hands of non-governmental entities, which the opposition is.

The UN Security Council has passed a resolution concerning the disposal of Syrian chemical weapons and the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons has approved the scrapping plan.

Voice of Russia, Interfax

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36389.htm

Qatar and Saudi Arabia are Client States, Their Master is the United States: President Al Assad

Video

President Al Assad’s interview with Italian Rai News 24 – 29 September 2013

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad discussed the UN Security Council Resolution on dismantling Syria’s chemical weapons, the possibility of a political solution to the conflict, and the August 21 chemical weapons attacks.

Posted September 30, 2013

Transcript
Rai News: Mr. President, thanks for having us here. It’s a very important moment, because the UN Security Council just approved with unanimity a resolution asking Syria to eliminate completely its chemical weapons. Are you going to comply with this?
President al-Assad: Actually, we joined the international agreement for preventing the use and acquirement of chemical weapons before that resolution came to light. The main part of the Russian initiative is based on our will to do so. So, it’s not the resolution. Actually, it’s about our will. Of course, we have the will, because in 2003 we had a proposal in the United Nations Security Council, to get rid of those weapons in the Middle East, to have a chemical weapons free zone in the Middle East. So, of course we have to comply; this is our history: to comply with every treaty we sign.
Rai News: So, with no limit to any extent?
President al-Assad: According to every chapter in the agreement. We don’t have any reservations. That’s why we decided to join the agreement.
Rai News: How do you think you will organize this kind of dismantling, which is very complicated?
President al-Assad: This question should be directed to the organization itself. Of course our role is to offer the data and to facilitate their procedures, which is available so far. But I think it’s about the technical side or aspect of the implementation, about how to reach those places, especially when you have terrorists who could put any obstacle, and about how to dismantle and get rid of those materials.
Rai News: Let me just speculate on this. It means you’re going to help them and protect them. Because now security is a very important issue here in Syria.
President al-Assad: Of course. That’s self-evident, yes.
Rai News: Let’s go forward, Mr. President, trying to understand what’s going on in Syria in the next few days, weeks and months, because now the attack which was very close a few weeks ago looks to be a little more distant. How are you going to work in this time? What is your personal roadmap?
President al-Assad: I’m sorry, for what?
Rai News: For political activities. I mean, how do you think you’re going to use this time?
President al-Assad: Since the beginning of the crisis, we said political activity or solution, whatever you call it, is a very important part of the crisis. But when you have terrorism, you cannot expect the political solution to solve everything. In spite of that, you have to continue the political action, but there’s no process yet. It’s about the Syrians meeting around the table, discussing the political system that they want, the future of Syria, and whatever they agree upon, you’ll have a referendum in order to have the endorsement of the Syrian people regarding whatever part of the future of Syria, whether it’s the constitution, or laws, or whatever. That’s what we’ve been doing since the beginning of the crisis, and this is the same action that we’re going to continue with in the meantime.
We discuss with every party of opposition but not armed groups
Rai News: We’ll go back later to the beginning of the crisis, but let us stay for a second on this. It means you’re going to discuss with the opposition as well? Even with the armed opposition?
President al-Assad: No, when they are armed you don’t call them opposition, you call them terrorists. Opposition is a political entity, is a political program, is a political vision; this is opposition. If you have arms and destroy and kill and assassinate, this is not opposition. This is what you call terrorism all over the world and in every other country. So, we can discuss with every party in the opposition. Regarding the militants, if they give up their arms, we’ll be ready to discuss with them anything like any other citizen.
Rai News: So, we arrive close to Geneva 2, the peace talks, because Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, said that it’s very likely in November there will be a second Geneva meeting. Are you planning to attend it personally?
President al-Assad: That depends on the framework of the Geneva meeting. So far, that conference is not clear: what kind of conference, who’s going to attend, what the criteria are for this conference. So, we have to be ready as government, but we cannot decide who’s going to head the delegation until we have, let’s say, the framework, the clear framework and the criteria.
Rai News: So, let me just ask you: which kind of framework would convince you to go there?
President al-Assad: As I said, any political party could attend that conference, but we cannot discuss, for example, al-Qaeda and its offshoots and organizations that are affiliated to al-Qaeda, for example, terrorists. We cannot negotiate with the people who ask for foreign intervention and military intervention in Syria.
Rai News: May I just name Qatar and Saudi Arabia?
President al-Assad: Let me be frank with you; they are client states, so I’m talking about states now. If you want to talk about states, they are client states; their master is the United States. We all know that. So, if the United States is attending, this is the main partner, and the others are accessories. If you want to talk about Syrian parties, regardless of their names, I’m talking about their behavior during the crisis. That’s what we can discuss – their behavior.
Rai News: Since the situation on the ground is very complicated, could you also accept the idea of some international forces, like interposition on the ground, to try to stabilize in a way the situation?
President al-Assad: It doesn’t work, because we’re not talking about two countries fighting each other, like, for example, Syria and Israel, where you have a frontline, a clear frontline, where you can have the United Nations forces on both sides of the borders or the frontier, let’s say, or the armistice line. It’s completely different. You are talking about gangs; they could exist everywhere in Syria, within any city, where you don’t have a frontier or clear lines. So, even if you want to suppose that you can accept that idea – which is not acceptable for us – but if you want to accept it, where can you position those troops? No-one can draw a map. You need a clear map. There is no clear map. There are gangs coming from everywhere, and they are terrorists who should be fought, not isolated from the Syrian troops.
We support any country that would like to help the Syrians 
Rai News:We were talking about Geneva 2, and I was thinking about Europe and the role of Italy in this kind of process. Do you see any role for Italy in this?
President al-Assad: Again, let me be very bold here, very blunt. If we want to discuss the role of Italy, we should see it in the light of the European role. Is Italy independent from the European role? If not, who’s leading the European role? And, we have to discuss the relation between the European role and the American. Is Europe independent from the American policies today? I heard from many European officials that they are convinced about what we are saying, but they cannot announce it. This is not the first time, not only during this crisis. So, any role should be looked at in the light of two things: the credibility of that role, and second, the relation between the individual or the country or the government, let’s say, with the different parties. Now, our reality today is that most of the European countries adopted the American, let’s say, practice in dealing with different countries since George Bush came to his position more than ten years ago. When they have a problem or disagreement with any other country, they cut off all kinds of relations. So, if you want to play a role, how can you play a role where you don’t have relations? How can you build credibility when you don’t have relations? Regarding the credibility, how can you talk about the credibility of any European country now when they talk about humanitarian aid and at the same time they establish the worst embargo we’ve ever seen since the existence of Syria after the independence? Many things have to be discussed before asking for a role. We welcome any role. We support any country that would like to help the Syrians in their endeavor, but we cannot just ask for a role without having the foundation of that role. So, to be frank, most of the European countries today, they don’t have the ability to play that role because they don’t have the different factors that could make them succeed and could make them efficient and effective in playing that role.
We trust the Iranians and they, like the Syrians and many other countries, don’t trust the Americans 
Rai News: But things look to change quite quickly these days, because just this phone call between President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani, and so it looks like the balance in the region in some way is changing. Isn’t it going to affect in some way what is happening in Syria?
President al-Assad: I think it’s going to affect positively for many reasons. First of all, Iran is our ally. Second, because we trust the Iranians. Third, because the Iranians, like the Syrians, like many countries in the world, don’t trust the Americans, and I think many of the American allies don’t trust the American administrations. So, for the Iranians to move closer to the Americans is not just a naïve move; it’s a well-studied step that’s based on the experience of the Iranians with the United States since the revolution in 1979. But if the Americans are honest about this rapprochement, I think the results will be positive regarding the different issues, not only the Syrian crisis, including every problem in the region.
Rai News: You know that in the day of the crisis and I mentioned the attack was so close. An important action was taken by Papa Francesco, Pope Francis, against the war. And now, speaking to the Christian minority here, they are all very scared. What is going to be your attitude towards minorities like Christians in the next few years?
The crisis is not only a regional issue but should be international issue especially for Italy and the Vatican
President al-Assad: Syria is a melting pot. It existed like this, like it is today because it is a melting pot with multifarious cultures for centuries, before Christianity and after Christianity, before Islam and after Islam. If you have any change, dramatic change, in the demographic and social fabric of the Syrian society, you’re going to have a big problem in the future regarding the future of Syria. I don’t know what kind of problem, because it’s more complicated than anyone would think, and that will affect the other countries in the region. So, Syria is a secular country and the Syrian society is a secular society. Secular means to deal with every citizen, regardless of their religion, sect and ethnicity. So, I think technically these minorities in Syria, especially Christians, in light of what is happening recently – burning churches, attacking Christian villages, expelling Christians form their houses and homes – in light of this, dealing with this crisis is not a Syrian issue, it’s not only a regional issue, it should be an international issue, especially for Italy and for the Vatican.
Syrian Army didn’t use chemical weapons at all, we have every evidence that the armed groups have used them
Rai News: So, Mr. President, these have been very complicated weeks. The escalation has started with the infamous 21st August attack. Can we go back to that allegation about the chemical attack; which is your version, because you were speaking about having different evidence. UN inspectors are here working, can you help us understanding your version about this?
President al-Assad: Let me tell in you in brief. First, let’s start by saying the Syrian Army didn’t use it at all. It never arranged to use chemical weapons during the crisis, and we have every evidence that the gangs have used this.
Now, why the Syrian Army didn’t use it? Logically and realistically, you don’t use it when you’re in advancement. The army was advancing. Why to use it? You didn’t use it for two and a half years while you had many difficult situations in different areas in Syria, you had much more terrorists facing you in other places more than Damascus. Why didn’t we use it? Why only in that place?
Second, the story now, or the American narrative; we invited the delegation to come to Syria, which is responsible for investigating the use of chemical weapons, before that incident, and the day they arrived, the second day, the Syrian Army used chemical weapons. Is that plausible? You cannot believe this story. Why, when we invited the delegation to come in March, why did the Americans put obstacles, and why did they accept that recently before the incident, and when they arrived, the attack happened? You cannot use it in a city where you can have tens of thousands of casualties including the army. The most important thing is that nobody verified the veracity of the videos and the photos, no-one, because in many places, the same pictures of the same children were used in different photos in different places, and you can find those pictures on the internet, they’ve been circulating on the internet.
On the other side, we have complete evidence, like the materials, containers that the terrorists used, we have the confessions of some of the terrorists that conveyed chemical materials from neighboring countries, and you have the indication that the interest of whoever committed this crime wasn’t the Syrian Army; it was the terrorists. So, that’s the whole story.
Rai News:Is there even the slightest chance or possibility that someone inside your circle or the army did it against your permission, against you, and then maybe see him defect in a few months? It’s a very complicated crisis, so we’re allowed to use speculations.
President al-Assad: It’s a weapon of mass destruction, it’s chemical. It’s like if you say that somebody in a nuclear country wanted to use nuclear weapons without the authority of his master. You cannot believe this. This is a very naïve story. This could be a children’s story. It’s not a grenade ;you put it in your pocket and throw it on everyone. The process of using the chemical weapons if you have a war with any enemy and if you want to use it is very complicated, it’s under strict procedure because it’s complicated technically first of all to activate the material itself. This is first. Second, not a single unit in the Syrian Army has chemical weapons anyway; you have specialized units, and if you want to use it, these specialized units should join the army in order to use the chemical weapons. So, again, this is a children’s narrative.
We dealt with the situation from the beginning according to the constitution
Rai News: So, since we’re going back in time, let’s go to the beginning of the crisis. At the time, you acted in a tough way against any sign of opposition. Do you have any kind of regret of the way everything began?
President al-Assad: We have to define the word “tough” because we dealt with the situation according to the constitution. It’s like, if you say, the Americans sent the army to Los Angeles in 1995. Do you call it tough, or do you call it that they sent the army to fight the rebels? So, according to the constitution we should have fought the terrorists, because from the very first week, we had many victims from the army and the police, from the very first few weeks. So, that’s normal, what we did, according to the constitution. This is the job of the government. If you talk about mistakes committed on the ground that could happen anywhere in the world. In the UK a few years ago, they shot a Brazilian guy by mistake, so that could happen anywhere. So, policy is different from the practice in many places in the world.
Rai News: But, just remaining on the political field, don’t you think that you had the chance to do something more at the time? Like doing something more, maybe change, even politicians sometimes can admit some mistakes.
President al-Assad: Even if you want to look at your mistakes when you do it, and every human will do mistakes every day, that’s normal, but how can you judge your mistake? After the end of the event, not during the event. So, we are still in the middle of the crisis. You can judge that at the end of the crisis. This is where we can revise our action, this is where the people can criticize us on, let’s say, objective and methodical basis, not in an arbitrary way.
Rai News: Did you ever think to leave the power for the sake of your country? Did you ever consider the chance to leave your country just if the exchange was peace and stability for your people?
President al-Assad: It depends on the “if.” If my quitting of my position would make the situation better, the answer would be very simply, without reluctance, yes. But there is the other question; would the situation be better? So, for me as president, so far, I have to be in my position because when you have a storm, you don’t give up your position. You don’t quit your position and leave your country in the middle of the storm. Your mission is to take your country to the shore, not to abandon the ship and the Syrian people.
Rai News: What would be the scenario in which you could decide that it’s the right way for your ship to go to the shore, and then you decide to do something else?
I should obey whatever the Syrian people want 
President al-Assad: The first part, two things. As I said earlier, the political dialogue is very important to discuss the future of Syria and the political system. The second one is to stop the violence by stopping the smuggling and sending the terrorist form outside Syria, stopping the financial support, stopping sending them armaments and every logistical support, because if we don’t succeed here, we cannot in the political part of solving the problem. Second, after solving this problem, regarding me, my position, the only way is the ballot box, because this is where the Syrian people can tell whoever they want. And for me, I should obey whatever the Syrian people want. There’s no other way in any country. I mean, it’s not the decision of any group in Syria; it’s the decision of every Syrian citizen.
Rai News: Are you going to be in the elections of 2014?
President al-Assad: Before the elections right away, if I feel that the Syrian people want me to be in that position, I will run. If not, I will not.
Bad ideologies invaded the region, including Syria
Rai News: Mr. President, I do remember the beginning of your presidency, and you were looked to as a symbol of hope for Syria, because everybody knew that you knew the world, and you came here to give it a more modern and open society. Young people, intellectuals were looking at you in this way. Then, something happened in between. Do you think there’s a chance you could do something so dramatically different to be seen again in that position, and not in the one in which you’re seen in the very last days?
President al-Assad: You have to talk about the internal factors and the external factors, because you are part of a very complicated region in the world, so we’ll be affected, and there’s daily interaction with our periphery. The internal factor which is that when you talk about reform, it’s not the reform of the president or the government; the government and the president should lead the reform, because it’s about the whole society, because it’s a matter of culture. It’s not only laws and constitution. The laws and constitution are means for change, but the real change happens by the people themselves. So, according to our reality, when you talk about thousands of years of civilization, you are talking about mores, and customs, and traditions, and ethos, and folkways, and different things that are related to every society, and our society is very complicated because of this multifarious culture that we’ve had. So, it was moving forward. You cannot say that we didn’t say anything. Some people say that it was false, some people say that it was too slow; this is subjective. Each one sees it in his own way. But in the end, no-one can say that we are in our position, because we moved forward, could be slowly, but surely. This is the first part.
Second, you have to talk about external obstacles. When I became president, two months later, the Intifada in Palestine started that influenced every country in the Arab world. The peace process actually had failed just a few months before I became president, and there was a stalemate. Third, eleventh of September happened, and we had to pay the price, one of the countries that had to pay the price. They invaded Afghanistan; we were against. They invaded Iraq; we were against. And after 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, Syria had to pay the price, and there was an embargo by the Europeans and the West, and so on. There was only an artificial period of conciliation, let’s say between Syria – which could be not the very precise word – but kind of rapprochement between Syria and the West and especially Europeans between 2008 and 2011. Why artificial? Because it was under the supervision of the Americans; it wasn’t genuine, because they weren’t independent. And now we have the crisis. When we talk about reform, especially when we talk about dramatic reform, you need a different atmosphere. You have to be comfortable economically, politically and ideologically. Don’t forget in that regard one of the external and internal factors at the same time is the invasion of the bad ideologies to the region, including Syria, and I mean the ideology of al-Qaeda that invaded many communities in our region, including part of the Syrian society. You cannot talk about reform and democracy while the ideologies are single-minded ideologies that don’t accept any other one, because democracy, real democracy, is about accepting the others. Start by accepting the other, first of all, especially in a diverse society. So, I can say that we are still having the same will to move forward in that regard according to our reality. So, the scope of the reform will be limited by our reality.
The only option that’s left for us is to defend our country 
Rai News: Very last question; if now the major threat looks to be over or a little lessened, what would you tell your people in terms of promise and pattern?
President al-Assad: I think the only thing that I can say now is one option that’s left for us; which is to defend our country. So, first of all, we have to focus on getting rid of the terrorists, their terrorism and their ideology. Second, even if we get over this crisis, we have so many things to manage after the crisis, the leftover of this crisis, especially the ideological, the psychological and the social consequences on thissociety, so we have a lot of work. But, I can say with confidence that we can make Syria much better than before the crisis.
Rai News: Even with reforms?
President al-Assad: Yeah, of course. We need the reform. Without reform, we cannot. The reform is a very part of what I’m talking about. Actually, it’s the major axis of making Syria better, that’s for sure, but doesn’t mean to be the hope in that regard of foreign countries or foreign people; I could be the hope of the Syrians, not any other one.
Rai News: I wish you all the best. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you for your time and for hosting us here.
President al-Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria.

Was Obama Planning on Striking Syria or Working to Gain Traction in Talks With Iran?

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, September 30, 2013
Strategic Culture Foundation 30 September 2013

Syria-Crisis-LeadersThere are several ways to interpret the Obama Administration’s August 31, 2013 decision to ask the US Congress to vote on a so-called «limited strike» against Syria. These interpretations need to be analyzed to see what the intentions of the US were when it threatened to engage Syria in a direct war. 

The first interpretation is that President Obama did not want to be solely responsible for an illegal and unilateral US attack on the Syrians. His aim was to get the backing of the US Congress to claim to have a democratic mandate from the elected representatives of the American people and to make sure that any backlash and legal blame would not target him alone. By making sure that the US Congress was his presidential administration’s accomplice, Obama could share the blame with the US House of Representatives and the US Senate. In other words, Obama wanted to ensure that he would have some type of protection before embarking on a blatant violation of international law by hiding behind US legislature and formulating some type of argument through it. With an approval from the US Congress, the Obama Administration could claim it followed the wishes of the representatives of the American people and that it is not accountable for any war crimes. The US Congress would also support this position and oppose any calls by different world powers and the international community to hold US officials legally accountable.

Obama’s «redline» against the use of chemical weapons figures prominently in a debate on the nature of the US threats. Some believe that President Obama was merely embarrassed and trying to save face by enforcing the Syria redline that he made. This view, however, overlooks the fact that the US government has repeatedly been trying to indict Syria with the employment of chemical weapons for almost an entire year before the chemical attack in Ghouta. Before backing down, the Obama Administration was actually not reluctant to say that the chemical weapons redline was passed, but looking for every opportunity to try and say that the redline was passed.

Despite the fact that the Obama Administration falsely claimed that it did not need the authorization of the US Congress for initiating aggression and although John Kerry appeared very enthusiastic about attacking Syria, another interpretation is that President Obama and US Secretary of State Kerry wanted to back down from ordering the Pentagon to attack the Syrians. Those that believe this interpretation think that the US government was either bluffing about attacking Syria or wanted to back down from an attack by means of using a no vote in the US Congress to save face.

Other views are that the US was getting involved directly, because the insurgents were losing the war. Washington’s intervention was aimed at equalizing the playing field either to prolong the fighting or to ultimately open the door for eventual regime change in Damascus. The emphases on the limited nature of the attacks by the Obama Administration could have not only been a means to sell the war to the US population and international public opinion, but also a way of trying to get Syria’s allies not to react. This point leads to the next view.

Another interpretation is that Obama and Kerry were reading the signs and wanted flexibility of action and that they put out feelers to see how Syria’s main allies in Iran, Russia, and China would react to US military threats. The threats of military intervention in Syria seem to be testing the resolve of Russia, Iran, and China. Envoys and messages were dispatched to these Eurasian powers, with careful consideration of Moscow and Tehran, to see what their reactions would be.

Obama Tested the Reaction of the Eurasian Axis

It has long been understood that Iran, Hezbollah, and their Iraqi and Palestinian allies would militarily react to a US attack on Syria. It has also been understood that Washington’s posturing against Syria has been a show of force against Syria’s allies, particularly Tehran. According to Walter Posch, an expert on Iran at the German Institute for International and Security Affairs (SWP), the Iranians are not intimidated by US military posturing. Posch puts it like this: «If you come with a show of force to the Iranians, they usually call your bluff.»

According to Posch, Tehran had been informed by Washington either directly or through indirect lines of communication about US preparation to attack Syria. During his visit to Tehran, Sultan Qaboos of Oman could have possibly carried a message of some sort from Obama to Iran about Syria. The Sultanate of Oman has been known to act as an intermediary between Tehran and Washington before.

The visit of Sultan Qaboos to Tehran took place in the same window of time that Jeffry Feltman, Ban Ki-moon’s Undersecretary for Political Affairs at the United Nations, arrived in Tehran. Before his entry into the United Nations, Feltman served as a US diplomat in Israel, Anglo-American occupied Iraq, and Lebanon before he was appointed as the US assistant secretary responsible for the Middle East and North Africa.

The official reason for Jeffery Feltman’s visit to Iran was holding bilateral meetings with Iranian officials about the Syrian conflict. His visit to Tehran was formally for the United Nations, but his visit was also tied to the US government. In some form or another, he was sending a message from Washington to Tehran about Syria that essentially wanted to see what Tehran would do about a limited US-led attack on the Syrians.

The responses that the Obama Administration got from Iran and Syria’s other allies may have not been the ones that US officials expected. It was reported immediately after the US said it would attack Syria that Lebanon’s Hezbollah began mobilizing its forces for a general war against the US. In Iraq various militias threatened to attack American targets and to damage the economic interests of the United States. The Kremlin sent the SSV-201 intelligence ship Priazovye to the Syrian coastline to collect information on US military movements and to augment the Russian naval armada in the Eastern Mediterranean. A Russian military leader also told the Russian news agency Interfax that the characteristics of the naval force in the Eastern Mediterranean were being amended to adjust Russia’s military position to the changing situation in the region. Vladimir Putin also promised to help Syria against the United States and called John Kerry a liar publicly. China joined Russia by dispatching its Jinggangshan landing ship to the area too. Moreover, the US government would face formidable opposition at the G20 summit held in Russia, where Beijing and Moscow would be supported by Argentina, Brazil, India, Indonesia, and South Africa in their opposition to a US attack on Syria.

War: America’s Worse Option

The US government knows that an attack on Syria is a receipt for real disaster with unpredictable consequences. If Syria is attacked, at the very minimum the US government can forget about any settlement with Iran or an easing of relations with the Russian Federation. Add China’s opposition at the United Nations and Beijing’s agitation about Obama’s so-called «Pacific Pivot» to the picture. If the Obama Administration did attack Syria, it would have led to a larger confrontation and resulted in American political, economic, diplomatic, strategic, and military losses.

Syria would not be a sitting duck in a direct US attack either. The Syrians could use an entire arsenal of military hardware that is impractical and inapplicable in guerilla combat. Syrian Tishreen missiles would inflect damage to any US naval units in the Eastern Mediterranean that get too close to the Syrian coast and Syria’s anti-aircraft units would prevent the US from establishing aerial dominance in Syrian skies. Damascus would fight back and there would be escalation and a regional expansion of the fighting that would draw in Lebanon, Israel, Jordan, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran right away.

Additionally, when Obama threatened to attack Syria the US was not really in the proper position to attack Syria. Both the US and NATO did not even have enough military units near Syria to safely bomb Syria without being repelled by Damascus. The best that a Pentagon assault could have done under the configuration that the Pentagon had in place was to try changing the balance of power in Syria between the combating sides. The US government may also have been planning on assassinating President Bashar Al-Assad and key Syrian military and civilian officials as part of the so-called «limited strike.»

What Was the United States Government Planning?

What was the US trying to do if it knew that it could not start a war against Syria? Regardless of whichever one of the mentioned views is correct, the outcome of President Obama’s threats against Syria has been that Iran and the US are holding direct talks and Syria has agreed to destroy its chemical weapons arsenal.

Syria is essentially being disarmed of its strategic deterrent against Israel’s biological, chemical, and nuclear weapons, which would figure importantly in a Syrian war against Israel or a wider US-Iranian regional war. At the same time the Obama Administration seems to be edging towards a grand bargain and diplomatic breakthrough with Iran in what could possibly be compared to Richard Nixon’s reestablished of ties with the People’s Republic of China or a new «Nixon-Mao moment.»

What is known now is that President Obama had sent a secret letter to Tehran to open up dialogue and negotiations with his counterpart Hassan Rouhani, the new president of Iran, while he was threatening to attack Syria. Rouahani’s administration has actually begun talking about «win-win» outcomes for the US and Iran and the Iranian government also helped make the proposal with Russia that Syria destroy its chemical weapon stocks to neutralize US threats. John Kerry and Mohammed Javad Zarif, the new foreign minister of Iran, held a bilateral meeting in New York City on September 26, 2013. The next day, Obama and Rouhani had a direct telephone conversation in the first direct talk between US and Iranian leaders since 1979.

Are the talks with Tehran and Syrian chemical disarmament the result of Obama’s threats to attack Syria or all along the calculated objective of Obama’s threats to attack Syria? If Russia, Iran, and China formed a formidable opposition that would have prevented US attacks on Syria and if Syria would have been able to protect itself, it sure looks this way.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/was-obama-planning-on-striking-syria-or-working-to-gain-traction-in-talks-with-iran/5352211

USA should push regime change in Saudi Arabia

30.09.2013

by John Stanton

USA should push regime change in Saudi Arabia. 51197.jpeg

According to Dave Ottoway, writing for the Foreign Policy Research Institute, “There is practically no civil society in Saudi Arabia. The country is run by the al-Saud royal family in partnership with a highly conservative religious establishment espousing a fundamentalist theology known as Wahhabism. The alliance goes back to the mid-eighteenth century. Both the House of al-Saud and the Wahhabi religious leadership are against freedom of religion, democracy, a free press, and the public mixing of unmarried men and women. Wahhabi clerics are also against movie houses; public dancing; drinking, women’s sports centers; girls exercising in schools, and women driving. We could not have a conference like this in Saudi Arabia. The women would be in another room listening on a TV monitor or, if it was an international meeting, there might be a barrier down the center. Neither the royal family nor the Wahhabi religious establishment is interested in elections. Only the chambers of commerce are allowed to have elections-businessmen who are absolutely no threat to the establishment.”

In short, Saudi Arabia’s rulers are more ruthless than those in North Korea or anywhere else on the planet. Why aren’t members of the US Congress championing sanctions against Saudi Arabia instead of Russia, Cuba and Iran? Why does the world’s most powerful nation bow down before the House of Saud even as it becomes less dependent on Persian Gulf and Saudi oil? Where and when did the special relationship with Saudi Arabia begin?

The Saudi Kingdom’s leaders were not concerned with communism but reprisals by other tribes in the region. According to Ottoway “the primary concern…was an imminent attack by the forces of the Hashemite royal families ruling in Jordan and, at the time, also in Iraq. They had a grudge to settle after being driven out of the holy cities of Mecca and Medina by the al-Sauds in the 1920s. To deal with the Hashemite threat, the king wanted to enter a formal military alliance with the U.S. and obtain arms urgently on a grant basis… Roosevelt’s Secretary of the Navy, William Knox, told Congress in March 1944 that the war had made the U.S. government extremely anxious about oil. He pronounced what was to become America’s postwar oil policy, namely ‘to provide for acquisition of oil resources outside the limits of the United States for the safety and security of the country.’ That was the rationale for our becoming more and more involved with Saudi Arabia….

In February 1945, Roosevelt met Abdulaziz [the Saudi King] in person aboard the USS Quincy in Egypt’s Great Bitter Lake. The two countries date their special relationship to this meeting. As far as anybody knows, they did not talk about oil, but about Palestine. The king was concerned about what the U.S. was going to do regarding the establishment of a Jewish state and whether the Palestinians would have a state. This issue goes right back to the beginning of our relationship, and it continues right up until today.”

So nearly 70 years later, American leadership feels the need to maintain what should be called a “monstrous relationship” with the world’s preeminent totalitarian regime. Then again, the US intelligence community knows exactly what the Saudi’s are up to, even supporting their funding of cannibals fighting in Syria.

Saudi’s Fund Hannibal Lector Insurgent Group: USA Thrilled

Saudi Arabia is the primary sponsor of the cannibalistic insurgent groups in Syria led by Abdul Samad Issa and Abu Sakkar. These groups are linked to Al Qaida groups that the US supports: Nusra Front and Islamic State in Iraq/Syria. Issa and Sakkar were seen in video footage executing Syrian soldiers, beheading a Catholic priest, and eating a human liver after hacking it out of a dead Syrian soldier. According to the Telegraph UK during a meeting between Prince Bandar and Russian President Vladimir Putin-in which Prince Bandar bin Sultan, Saudi intelligence chief,  said he spoke for the USA–the Bandar tried to bribe the Russian President into letting go of his support for the President of Syria, Bashir Assad (or what remains of Syria) in exchange for Saudi manipulation of regional oil and gas markets to bolster Russian prices for energy resources. In the meeting the Saudi’s claimed that they control the Chechen insurgents whether they are fighting against Russia or Syrian troops. The Saudi’s told Putin that they would make sure the Winter Olympic Games at Sochi in 2014 would not be attacked by the Saudi-backed Chechens if he accepted the Saudi offer.

The Telegraph UK reported that Putin was quite blunt in his response. American leaders should take note: “‘Our stance on Assad will never change. We believe that the Syrian regime is the best speaker on behalf of the Syrian people, and not those liver eaters,'” he said, referring to footage showing a Jihadist rebel eating the heart and liver of a Syrian soldier.”

Over at the Economist (owned, in part by Pearson PLC), there is news of great rejoicing over the results of Saudi Arabia’s anti-Arab Spring/Democracy projects. To wit: “Yet things may be tilting nicely back in the Saudis’ favour. Post-uprising messes in Bahrain, Egypt, Libya, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen have all served to dampen the general enthusiasm for revolution. The toppling of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Muhammad Morsi as Egypt’s president in July was especially gratifying. Egypt’s generals, many with close ties to the Saudis, are back at the helm. Qatar, the small but punchy Gulf emirate that had annoyingly backed the Brothers, has been put back in its box. And for now at least, Mr Mubarak is out of prison. Small wonder the kingdom is showering Egypt with aid, and loudly voices diplomatic support in the face of criticism for the new regime’s ruthless suppression of its opponents…The turnaround has been particularly satisfying for Prince Bandar bin Sultan, who served for two decades as ambassador to America but now runs Saudi intelligence. Back in the old days, he played a quiet but crucial role in America’s covert cold-war forays, providing funds, when the CIA could not, to Afghan mujahideen, Nicaraguan Contras and the Iraqi army then fighting Iran.”

Saudi and US Intelligence: Making the World Safe for Dictatorships

The pattern is mercenary and capitalist. Those base values allow the two countries to find common ground.  Since 1945 US and Saudi Arabian government/intelligence organizations have worked together to skirt oversight in the USA and subsequently engage in bloodthirsty operations to maintain the status quo.

The status quo, in this instance, means the purchase of enormous amount of armaments from US defense contractors that are not needed for the internal defense of the Kingdom. At one point in the late 1990’s the Saudi’s did not have enough qualified pilots to operate all the aircraft they were sold.  It is a jobs agreement between the US and Saudi’s to keep US weapons manufacturing lines open. Such an arrangement was likely reached long ago. With the US providing a security umbrella for Saudi Arabia since 1945, such large weapons purchases are hardly necessary.

It means the USA keeping its mouth shut and not commenting too loudly on the wicked internal matters of Saudi Arabian life and the lives of foreign laborers there. It is turning a blind eye to suppression in Bahrain, the millions displaced in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria (thanks to US policies/interventions), and the destruction of Christian communities. This makes a mockery of the USA as a beacon of human rights.

It means the Cold War has not ended and the long term goal remains: weaken and destabilize Russia, Iran and China.

The status quo also means that democracy/socialist movements of today are viewed as the communism of yesteryear.

Iran is looking pretty good these days.

John Stanton

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at captainkong22@gmail.com

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/30-09-2013/125766-usa_saudi_arabia-0/

Crackdown on Golden Dawn in Greece

By Christoph Dreier 

30 September 2013

Over the weekend, the Greek government took concerted action against leaders of the fascist Golden Dawn party, the first time such measures have been taken against a political party since the end of the military dictatorship in 1974.

Eighteen leading members of Golden Dawn, including the chairman of the party, Nikos Michaloliakos, were arrested and charged with forming a criminal association. In a raid on Michaloliakos’ house, three illegal firearms were confiscated as well as 40,000 euros ($54,000) in cash. Thirty other Golden Dawn members were also arrested.

The charges follow the murder of the anti-fascist hip hop artist Pavlos Fyssas by a Golden Dawn thug. Two high-ranking police officials resigned last week because of their cooperation with the fascists, and others were suspended from service until further notice or removed to other posts. Also on Saturday, a law was passed to withdraw state financing from parties whose deputies are being prosecuted.

Golden Dawn’s 18 parliamentary deputies have threatened to resign en masse, which would trigger new elections in the affected districts and further increase political tensions. Hundreds of Golden Dawn supporters gathered at the party’s offices to protest the raids. The well-connected Elite Soldiers Reserve Association (KEED) called for a military coup last Wednesday, implicitly supporting the fascists.

The action against Golden Dawn takes place in the midst of a deep political crisis. The government is finding it increasingly difficult to impose the cuts and mass layoffs dictated by the European Union against the resistance of the population, and there is deep popular anger at Golden Dawn after the murder of Fyssas.

Thousands are demonstrating daily against fascist terror and social attacks. Nine universities have closed their doors in protest against the elimination of 37 percent of all administrative staff. School pupils have occupied 200 schools. The unions are finding it more difficult to limit strikes or sell them out.

On Saturday, the Greek daily Kathimerini reported that most of Greece’s mayors are refusing to send their budget plans to the central government, as stipulated in a new law.

The “troika”—the European Union (EU), the European Central Bank (ECB), and the International Monetary Fund (IMF)—are currently back in Athens, demanding more austerity measures and layoffs. In ruling circles, the fear is growing that mass resistance to social cuts and opposition to fascist violence will have revolutionary implications.

A debate is raging inside the ruling elite over whether to curb Golden Dawn’s activities in an attempt to calm the situation. Sections of the army and of the police—which have financed and built up Golden Dawn over the last five years as a spearhead in the struggle against the working class—are discussing a military coup.

Another section is concerned about the risk of destabilising the situation by openly using the fascists at the present time. The mass protests after Fyssas’ murder indicated that an overt alliance with Golden Dawn would intensify social conflicts.

The government has therefore decided to “rein in” Golden Dawn, as security minister Nikos Dendias of the conservative New Democracy (ND) put it. Some leading figures will be put behind bars, for a time at least, though wider networks of leading officials in the police and security services that are sympathetic to Golden Dawn will remain.

This manoeuvre has nothing to do with defending democracy. On the contrary, the state will seize upon the precedent set by measures against Golden Dawn, including a possible ban on the party, to prepare stepped-up attacks on the democratic rights of the entire population, above all, the working class.

Representatives of ND have repeatedly insisted that state action is directed against “both extremes,” meaning that it will also ultimately apply to left-wing organisations.

Several anti-fascist demonstrations have been brutally attacked or forbidden by the police in recent weeks.

The ruling class is united on the use of state repression to suppress the social opposition of the workers. Striking workers have already been placed under martial law and forced back to work three times this year by means of police violence. Bans on the right to assembly and attacks on demonstrations are part of daily life.

The largest opposition party, the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA), is playing the central role in seeking to stabilise the situation while in practice supporting austerity measures. The party supports the EU and has pledged support for repaying state debts to the banks, while calling for renegotiation of Greece’s bailout terms.

The party has responded to the state action against Golden Dawn by placing itself fully behind the state apparatus and the government. In an interview with the television channel Skai, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras praised the police, with its close ties to Golden Dawn, as a democratic force.

“The intervention shows that our democracy is standing firm and it is healthy,” he said. “Even if some are trying to take us back again to the 1960s, there is opposition which will prevent this.”

Tsipras also renewed his appeal to New Democracy to sit down with SYRIZA to discuss joint action against Golden Dawn.

The party has already shown itself to be a force for “stability” and indicated that it is ready to enter the government in order to help impose the austerity measures. A government involving SYRIZA would continue the social attacks and implement them through state attacks on the working class. It would serve as a transition to more brutal forms of authoritarian forms of rule.

In order to defend their social and democratic rights, workers must intervene in political events independently of all the bourgeois parties and the state apparatus. They must fight the fascists as well as the attacks of the government with their own methods. Independent defence committees should be formed and preparations made for a general strike.

Above all, what is required is the political independence of the working class from all bourgeois parties and politicians, including the pseudo-left tendencies such as SYRIZA, which do everything in their power to disarm the workers and subordinate them to the state and the political representatives of the ruling class.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/30/gree-s30.html

New government crisis in Italy after resignation of five ministers

By Marianne Arens 

30 September 2013

Just five months after taking office, the Italian government is set to collapse. On Saturday, the coalition led by Enrico Letta, comprising the Democratic Party (PD) and the People of Freedom (PDL), broke apart when all five PDL ministers resigned, following a call from PDL leader and ex-Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi to bring down the government.

Shortly beforehand, Prime Minister Letta (PD) had called a vote of confidence for Tuesday, to establish a clear majority, as he said. He was responding to the threat of the PDL to leave the government if Berlusconi was excluded from the Senate.

To justify its decision to pull out of the Letta government, the right-wing PDL cited its opposition to Letta’s tax increases, which the PDL had criticized during the election campaign. Berlusconi published a letter calling on the PDL ministers to resign, “so that they and the People of Freedom are not complicit in measures with which the left oppresses Italians.”

Besides manoeuvring to make a populist appeal to discontent with the Letta government’s reactionary social agenda, Berlusconi aims to evade the political fallout from his sentencing to one year of suspension from political activity and house arrest in August, for tax evasion. In mid-September, he also lost his trial on charges of bribing judges. Further trials for having sex with minors and for bribing parliamentary deputies are also due to conclude shortly.

In mid-September, the Senate Immunity Committee ruled against him, and on Friday, the chamber of deputies will make the final decision as to whether he can conserve his parliamentary immunity. Last Thursday, several PDL deputies resigned to protest Berlusconi’s exclusion from the Senate.

Letta, who last week participated in the UN General Assembly in New York, announced a vote of confidence immediately after his return. Then on Saturday, his deputy, Berlusconi confidante Angelino Alfano (PDL), announced the resignation of all five PDL ministers.

The government crisis takes place amid a deep economic and political crisis. Italy is in the longest recession in its history and has fallen deeply into debt. The IMF forecasts that the Italian economy will contract by 1.8 percent this year. The national debt amounted to over €2 trillion, or over 130 percent of gross domestic product (GDP).The new debt is expected to rise above the Maastricht limit of 3 percent of GDP.

Letta threatened that the political crisis will continue to drive up the cost of borrowing for the Italian government, plunging Italy into chaos. The interest rates for ten-year government bonds have recently risen to 4.5 percent.

The government needs to raise €84 billion a year just to make interest payments on the debt, which consume over 10 percent of total government expenditure (€808 billion). The government must present a so-called stability budget for 2014 by October 15, and which must meet the requirements of the EU.

The new 2014 budget faces a gaping hole of €6 billion. The Letta government is therefore planning new attacks on working people. From Tuesday 1 October, VAT (sales tax) will be raised from 21 to 22 percent, bringing in €1 billion. Two and a half billion more will come from real estate tax on a first house, which Berlusconi’s party has previously blocked.

The government now wants to partially privatize state firms; Letta used the visit to New York to win over foreign investors. Spanish company Telefonica wants to come on board at Telecom Italia, and Air France wants to increase its share of Alitalia to 50 percent. Both sales will be tied to deep job cuts, with an estimated 16,500 jobs lost at Telecom Italia and 2,000 at Alitalia.

These measures will further drive up unemployment. Officially, it stands at 12.5 percent, having risen by 1.5 percent over the last year—though this massively understates the extent of unemployment, as anyone who has worked at least one hour in the last week is counted as “employed.” Unemployment is about twice the official figure.

Nonetheless, youth unemployment is at a staggering 39.5 percent, 10 percent more than two years ago. Nearly 600,000 people have lost their jobs over the last year.

All this has raised tensions to breaking point. For this reason, most leading politicians are opposed to new elections.

President Giorgio Napolitano sharply criticized the PDL, and called on the government to close ranks. The country needs a stable government, Napolitano said. New elections were only “the last resort”. He continued, “We need a parliament that debates and works, but that does not keep dissolving itself. We do not need this constant election campaign. The government needs continuity.”

One exception is Beppe Grillo, who wrote that Napolitano was to blame for the crisis and should not oppose new elections.

Grillo’s Five Star Movement is, if anything, even further to the right politically than the government parties. He has long called for drastic cuts in the state budget. In a recent interview with Germany’s Zeit, Grillo defined Italy’s problem as follows: “Our problem is that we have nine or10 million pensioners and nearly five million state employees, some of them vote for Berlusconi, another part for the Left Democrats (PD).”

All the others would vote for him, Grillo, and he is ready to form a government alone, using the old undemocratic electoral law. This law awards a “majority bonus” to the party that wins the most votes, even if it did not achieve an absolute majority. The electoral law is “absolutely unfair”, Grillo said, “I want to abolish it and introduce proportional representation—but only after I have triumphed under the current election law.”

Guglielmo Epifani, leader of the Democrats and former CGIL (General Confederation of Italian Labor) union leader, called the resignation of the PDL ministers the last act in the collapse of a fractious government. He was sitting with Nichi Vendola and other centre-left politicians on the podium of a colloquium in Torre del Greco near Naples when the government crisis broke out.

Epifani also warned against new elections, which would only bring fresh instability. Together with Vendola, he supports the regrouping of the “left” to enable the formation of a government without Berlusconi. The Democratic Party could no longer participate in a government that can be paralyzed by threats and blackmail, Epifani said.

Vendola, head of SEL, the successor to Rifondazione Comunista, and State President of Apulia, called on the PD to give “a strong response”. He said, “I appeal to the PD to end the alliance with the crocodile [i.e., Berlusconi]. In parliament, a majority must be found both for the new electoral law and for the stability pact.”

In the House of Representatives, the Democrats have a large majority, but in the Senate they need the votes of representatives from the PDL, or from the opposition, to form a ruling coalition. They could hope to win a layer of renegades from the PDL, which is badly divided.

At the weekend, Berlusconi renamed his party Forza Italia—the name of the populist party with which he won the 1994 elections, and which joined with the “post-fascists” to form the PDL in 2009—manifestly hoping to make a similar populist appeal. Napolitano and Letta hope to win PDL members and deputies who do not want to join the new Forza Italia for a change of sides.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/30/ital-s30.html

Spanish government approves pension “reform” and freezes public-sector pay

By Alejandro López 

30 September 2013

The Spanish Popular Party (PP) government passed a new pension reform and approved the draft state budget Friday which consists of more austerity measures. The day before, the Ministry of Finance reported to the civil servants’ unions that their salaries would be frozen this year.

Deputy Prime Minister Soraya Sáenz de Santamaría said the “budget is reasonable and realistic” and aims “to contain spending and drive the recovery.”

The 2014-2015 budget is based on a growth forecast of 0.7 percent, a figure which, according to the government, will create jobs. However, taking into account that unemployment now stands at 26 percent, this minimal growth would not scratch the surface even if it materialised. Economy Minister Luis de Guindos was forced to admit “there will be net creation of jobs, small, insufficient, but still the first creation of jobs of the crisis.”

The new budget cuts 7 percent from the estimated amount of unemployment benefits and programs to get people back to work for this year, even when they project that the average jobless rate will be 25.9 percent.

The budget includes €250 million for educational grants for the poorest students and families. This is a miserly sum taking into account the hikes in university fees, the elimination of free subsidised meals in schools and textbooks, and other austerity measures passed over the years affecting the majority of the population.

On the other side, €36,590 billion will be paid in interest payments on the public debt compared to €34,584 billion to finance the activities and expenditure of all the ministries. The current national debt is expected to rise to over 96 percent of GDP.

On the same day, the PP approved a draft pension reform to be approved in parliament. This was one of the conditions imposed by the European Union last April on Madrid in exchange for a prolongation of another two years to bring its deficit down to the 3 percent target.

The reform will slash €32,939 billion in the period 2014-2024 in pensions by introducing a new mechanism in the way they are valued annually, according to the Economic and Social Council (CES) consultative body. The current method is linked to the consumer price index (CPI) which measures changes in the price level of consumer goods and services purchased by households, thus compensating pensioners for the loss of purchasing power as a result of inflation.

The new mechanism will mean that pensions will rise by a minimum of 0.25 percent every year, well below inflation rates expected to rise by up to 2 percent, while maximum increases will be capped at inflation rates plus a 0.25 percent top up.

The new formula to calculate annual pensions will be based not on inflation, but on variables such as the number of pensioners, the financial situation of the social security system or the level of pension payments over many years.

The so-called sustainability factor will start in 2019, eight years earlier than the previous reform under the Socialist Party (PSOE), which will limit pension rises by linking the pensions to the evolution of life expectancy.

According to a report by the Economic and Social Council, the new law will “cause a loss of purchasing power in contexts of [economic] crisis, which would not be recovered.”

The analysis warns that this rate would apply to all contributory pensions, “without differentiating by types or amounts”, with the poorest pensioners being the worst off. It notes that 50 percent of contributory pensions are below €650 per month.

With 26 percent unemployment and 56 percent among youth, the report concludes with a warning to the government that 4.6 million households depend on the pensioners who are “having a decisive role in the Spanish economy and the maintenance of social cohesion, helping to alleviate the economic difficulties of the families.”

The government has announced that 2.8 million civil servants will have their salaries frozen for the fourth consecutive year. In 2010, the previous PSOE government slashed their wages between 5 to 15 percent depending on their income and they were deprived of their Christmas bonus, equivalent to 7 percent of their wages.

According to the Union General de Trabajadores (UGT) and Comisiones Obreras (CCOO), public sector workers have lost 20 percent of their purchasing power due to the austerity attacks of the government. Overall wages from both public and private sector, discounting inflation, have fallen by 6.3 percent.

If the government has been able to proceed in imposing a new wave of attacks on public civil servants and public pensions, it is due to the collaboration of the trade unions.

Miguel Angel Garcia, head of the CCOO’s Economic Cabinet, participated in a 12 “wise men” committee last June set up by the government to produce proposals to change the pension system. In it, the CCOO representative voted in favour of a report which has now become the template for the current legislation. The CCOO executive was forced to issue a face-saving statement saying it was a “mistake”, but that Garcia had “contributed to stopping the more extreme reforms proposed”—which in the end amounted to a simple delay of the final year of implementation.

In 2011, the UGT and CCOO signed a “social pact” with the PSOE government and the employers’ association, which included a pension reform that increased the age of retirement by two years, from 65 to 67.

The unions have dealt similar betrayals to public sector workers, who have repeatedly shown their readiness to fight the austerity measures. For a whole year, education, health care and public administration workers have marched in ineffectual one-day protests and one-day strikes called by the unions, who have been forced to action only because it was becoming impossible for them to oppose any struggle against the government.

The CCOO and UGT have also played an important part in the attack on wages, agreeing to wage-cutting. A quick glance at this month’s agreements signed between the unions and different companies is illustrative of their role:

In Globalia, a travel agency, the company and the unions agreed that its 2,200 workers will have a salary cut of 25 percent and a reduction of working hours.

In Uminsa, a mining company, unions agreed to a 15 percent reduction affecting 367 workers.

In EVO Banco, the unions agreed to an average 7.2 percent wage cut, and in Bridgestone, the unions are in the process of negotiating a five percent reduction.

The ruling class, aware that the unions’ suppression of the class struggle will reach its limits, is preparing a mass crackdown on protests. The PP government has recently increased the anti-riot budget from €173,670 in 2012 to more than €10 million in 2016, which includes new weaponry such as laser rifles, sound cannons, microwave guns, electromagnetic guns and foam launchers.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/30/spai-s30.html

UNHRC threatens international probe of Sri Lankan war crimes

By K. Ratnayake 

30 September 2013

UN Human Rights Commissioner Navanethem Pillay warned last week that unless the Sri Lankan government took “comprehensive measures” to address human rights violations committed during the war against the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) it could face an international investigation.

Pillay issued the warning on September 25 in an oral report to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) that reviewed human rights in several countries. Pillay visited Sri Lanka in August to assess steps taken by Colombo to address a US-sponsored resolution passed in March by the UNHRC. The resolution called for the implementation of the limited recommendations of the Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission (LLRC), a body established by Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapakse to cover-up the war crimes committed during the final military offensive against the LTTE in 2009.

Pillay told the UNHCR that there had been “no new or comprehensive effort [by Colombo] to independently or credibly investigate the [war crimes] allegations” and called on the Sri Lankan government to “engage in a credible national process with tangible results, including the successful prosecution of individual perpetrators.” Unless this was done by March 2014, she continued, “the international community will have a duty to establish its own inquiry mechanisms.”

A UN expert commission has estimated that at least 40,000 people were killed during the final offensives against the LTTE. Sri Lankan security forces are implicated in other crimes, including abductions and disappearances carried out in association with various paramilitary groups.

Pillay also referred to other attacks on democratic rights in Sri Lanka, including the massive military presence in the North, surveillance of released political prisoners, sexual harassment of women and girls, the increasing role of security forces in civil administration and economic activities, and attacks on media freedom.

The Sri Lankan delegation to the UNHRC immediately rejected the report, declaring that Pillay had no mandate to issue a deadline for investigating the 2009 war crimes. Colombo continues to deny any human rights violations and claims that the military was engaged in a “humanitarian operation” in its final offensives against the LTTE.

The US delegate to the UNHCR, Eileen Donahoe, backed Pillay’s report, stating that “absent meaningful progress on accountability, calls for an international inquiry will persist.” Donahoe also called on the Rajapakse government to establish an “independent and credible investigation into allegations of violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law.”

These calls are entirely cynical. US imperialism continuously violates international law and human rights in pursuit of its geo-political strategic interests. Just three weeks ago, the Obama administration was about to launch a massive and unprovoked military assault on Syria, on the pretext that Bashar al-Assad’s government had used chemical weapons on civilians. Washington is arming and training Al Qaeda militia and other Islamic terrorist groups as part of its regime-change operations in Syria.

The US and other imperialist powers supporting Pillay’s statements have no interest in exposing war crimes and defending democratic rights in Sri Lanka. Rather, Washington is attempting to exert political pressure on the Rajapakse government to weaken its close relations with Beijing. The Obama administration is demanding Sri Lanka fall into the line with its “pivot to Asia”, which involves a military encirclement of China.

While Washington fully backed the Rajapakse government’s war, it became increasingly concerned as China emerged as the principal provider of arms and weapons for Colombo’s war against the LTTE. Beijing, moreover, remains a major source of loans and investment in Sri Lanka. Along with Russia, China provides important political support for the Rajapakse government in the UNHRC.

Although India backed the US resolution on Sri Lanka, its response to Pillay’s report was less forthright, calling for Sri Lanka to continue working with the UNHCR. India wants Sri Lanka to distance itself from China, but is cautious that too much political pressure on Colombo will only push it closer to Beijing.

Two days before Pillay’s statement, Rajapakse spoke at the UN General Assembly claiming that though there had been “visible progress made [on human rights]”, Sri Lanka was being subjected to “unequal treatment.”

He also blamed the “unilateral actions” of some countries and declared that the “world needs no policing by a few states, particularly when the UN is mandated to ensure international security.” Embargoes and economic sanctions on various countries, he added, were “disturbing.”

Rajapakse’s speech was featured prominently in the Sri Lankan media. An editorial in the Island claimed that the president had shown “courage” in delivering “some home truths at the UN General Assembly, even at the risk of ruffling the feathers of the world powers.”

Rajapakse’s fear of sanctions and “policing” by a few countries has nothing to do with challenging the major powers. His routine claims of an “international conspiracy” against Sri Lanka and his posturing as an anti-westerner are in order to hoodwink the people. Like the previous government, the Rajapakse administration has backed the bogus US “war on terror” and the invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. Rajapakse had no problems in appealing for support from the US, the EU, Japan and India, for his war against the LTTE.

Last month, Sri Lankan defence secretary Gotabhaya Rajapakse, the president’s brother, revealed to the Australian newspaper aspects of the crucial support provided by Washington during the war. “Between 2006 and 2008 we destroyed 12 of these floating armouries [for the LTTE]. What made this possible? The Americans were very, very helpful. Most of the locations of these ships were given to us by the Americans,” he explained.

US Pacific Command provided satellite information on ships allegedly carrying arms for the LTTE, including some weapons that the Sri Lanka military did not possess. Destroying these arms, the defence secretary said, was a “turning point” in the war. US allies, Israel and Pakistan, also provided arms to Sri Lanka without any restrictions, he added.

Caught up in the rising tensions between the major powers, the Rajapakse government’s ability to balance between the US and India on one hand, and China on the other, has become increasingly difficult. Pillay’s threat of a possible international investigation into Sri Lankan war crimes, applying pressure to Colombo on behalf of the US, highlights this situation.

 http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/30/sril-s30.html

Australian government accused of ignoring refugee boat emergency calls

By Patrick O’Connor 

30 September 2013

Survivors of another horrific refugee boat disaster in the waters between Australia and Indonesia have accused the Australian government of ignoring their emergency distress calls. The accounts again raise the question as to whether Canberra allowed the drownings in order to bolster its “hard line” anti-refugee regime and deter other asylum seekers.

After spending five days at sea, the vessel attempted to return to Indonesia and sank just 50 metres off the west Javanese coast on Friday morning, at around 10.30 a.m. It is believed that about 80 asylum seekers were on board. The 26 survivors, almost all men, were able to swim to shore in rough seas, while 21 women and children are confirmed to have drowned and at least another 33 people are believed missing.

The deceased reportedly include people from Eritrea, Jordan, Iraq, and Iran, though most of those on board were from the northern Lebanese region of Akkar. This area has been badly affected by the US-led regime change operation in Syria, with heightened sectarian tensions in Lebanon and a large influx of Syrian refugees creating an economic crisis. Among the survivors was a Lebanese man who lost his wife and eight children.

The refugee boat disaster is the first under the Liberal-National coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott, and its military-run “Operation Sovereign Borders” anti-refugee regime. It came on the eve of Abbott’s meeting today with Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. This discussion is being held amid sharp tensions over Canberra’s anti-refugee policies, including having the Australian navy forcibly return refugee boats back to Indonesian waters (see: “Australian ‘border protection’ regime fuels dispute with Indonesia”).

Details of Friday’s refugee disaster remain scanty. In line with the Abbott government’s policy of not disclosing asylum seeker boat arrivals, not a single statement have been issued by the customs and border protection department, the immigration department, or the head of Operation Sovereign Borders, Lieutenant General Angus Campbell. Prime Minister Tony Abbott on Saturday brushed aside questions from reporters about the incident.

Two statements issued by immigration minister Scott Morrison denied reports that Australian authorities had advance knowledge of the stricken refugee vessel, saying they first knew about the boat on Friday morning. No details were provided. Morrison claimed that border protection authorities issued an all-ship alert and also mobilised a surveillance aircraft to the reported area of the vessel, 25 nautical miles off the Indonesian coast, but the refugees could not be located.

Serious questions remain unanswered. There is a glaring contradiction between Morrison’s claims and the account provided by one of the survivors, Jordanian Abdullah al-Qisi. The refugee, who speaks near fluent English, said that he used a satellite phone and an iPhone to make multiple emergency distress calls to Canberra on Thursday. By that stage, the boat was badly leaking and had severe motor problems. Those on board had also run out of food and water.

“I called the Australian embassy,” Al-Qisi told Fairfax reporters. “For 24 hours we were calling them. They told us, ‘just send us the position on GPS, where are you?’. We did, and they told us, ‘OK, we know where you are.’ And they said, ‘We’ll come for you in two hours.’ And we wait two hours. We wait 24 hours, and we kept calling them, [saying] ‘We don’t have food, we don’t have water for three days, we have children, just rescue us.’ And nobody come. Sixty person dead now because of Australian government.”

The Australian government has flatly denied receiving a rescue emergency alert 24 hours before the boat sank.

According to Morrison, authorities learned about the vessel on Friday morning, i.e., sometime after midnight and before the boat sank at around 10.30 a.m. If this is correct, it means that no attempt was made to issue a distress call from the stricken vessel during its four and a half days at sea, until it was forced to turn back to Indonesia.

In all likelihood Australian authorities knew about the boat much earlier. The waters between Australia and Indonesia are closely monitored by Australian military, intelligence, and border protection personnel. Moreover, Australian Federal Police and Australian Secret Intelligence Service agents actively work in Indonesia to prevent and detect refugee boats leaving for Australia.

Reports have emerged that Australian naval and border protection personnel were involved in two other refugee boat incidents. According to theAustralian, Indonesian officials said that at the time of the disaster on Friday morning, Australian customs vessel Triton was about 25 nautical miles south of Indonesia’s Rote Island, off West Timor, intercepting a disabled refugee vessel that had been en route for Ashmore Island, and which was later returned to Indonesia. Earlier, on Thursday, Australia’s HMAS Ballarat reportedly entered Indonesia’s Sunda Strait to assist an Indonesian coast guard vessel intercept another refugee boat and return those on board to Indonesia. The Australian government, emergency rescue authorities, and customs and border protection department have refused to comment on these two operations.

Were Australian navy and customs vessels simply too overstretched to mount another search and rescue operation? Or is the explanation more sinister?

There is ample evidence indicating that in 2001, the Liberal-National government of Prime Minister John Howard deliberately did nothing while a refugee vessel known as SIEV X sank, resulting in the drowning of 353 people. Afterwards, immigration minister Philip Ruddock notoriously declared that the incident “may have an upside in the sense that some people may see the dangers inherent in [seeking asylum in Australia].” The SIEV X catastrophe was used by the Howard government, in the immediate aftermath of the September 11 terrorist attacks, to promote nationalism and xenophobia, conflating Middle Eastern asylum seekers with terrorists and “border protection” with the so-called war on terror.

Under the Gillard-Rudd Labor governments, there were also a series of refugee boat disasters in which serious questions were raised about the Australian authorities’ foreknowledge and culpability (see: “Australian government’s culpability in refugee boat disaster”). The government cynically used these sinkings to justify its draconian measures aimed at stripping people of the basic democratic and legal right to claim asylum in Australia as necessary to “save lives”.

Abbott has retained all of the draconian and illegal measures introduced under the former Gillard-Rudd Labor governments, including the permanent deportation of refugees to Papua New Guinea, overseen by a more highly militarised and secretive command structure. Before winning the September 7 election, Abbott placed the reactionary slogan of “stopping the boats” at the centre of his election campaign. There is no question that the newly installed government will use the latest deaths at sea to bolster its “deterrent” measures.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/30/refu-s30.html

The Obama administration and the Detroit bankruptcy

30 September 2013

Top Obama administration officials visited Detroit, Michigan Friday to give their benediction to Emergency Manager Kevyn Orr’s plans to use bankruptcy proceedings to slash city workers’ pensions and health care and sell off art from the Detroit Institute of Arts.

The administration delegation, headed by Attorney General Eric Holder and Obama’s chief economic adviser, Gene Sperling, came bearing gifts, albeit paltry ones. Of the headline figure of $300 million to be allocated to Detroit, itself a token sum, a mere $100 million is to come from the federal government.

This will mainly take the form of previously allocated aid for the demolition of buildings and “blighted” homes—the chief request of multibillionaire developer and Quicken Loans owner Dan Gilbert, who is heavily invested in Detroit land and buildings and aims to transform the city center into a haven for the wealthy. Tens of millions more will be made available for hiring police officers and installing security cameras throughout the city.

Orr, the unelected front man for Wall Street, announced that none other than Gilbert himself will head a new panel on “blight elimination,” presumably overseeing the distribution of the federal funds.

Friday’s “Detroit Summit” was aimed primarily at providing political cover for local and state officials, Democrats and Republicans, and an assortment of “community organizations” and trade union officials who are collaborating in the bankruptcy scheme. It was a photo op intended to endow the plundering of the city and its working-class residents for the benefit of the banks and bondholders with a veneer of “renewal” and “progress.”

Meanwhile, the United Auto Workers, the city unions and the AFL-CIO are lobbying behind the scenes for a share of the spoils from impoverishing workers and retirees, gutting city services, and selling off public assets from DIA masterworks to the city water department and Belle Isle.

Friday’s event underscores the fact that the Obama administration sees the Detroit bankruptcy as a model for similar attacks throughout the country, just as its 2009 restructuring of the auto industry sounded a national tocsin for wage- and benefit-cutting.

Among the topics not mentioned during the summit, at least publicly, was Orr’s announcement the day before of plans to scrap the pension plans for city workers, turning them into 401(k) stock market investment schemes, while slashing benefits for retirees. Cost-of-living adjustments are to be eliminated for pensions that currently average only $19,000 a year for non-uniformed workers and $30,000 a year for firefighters and police.

Nor was there any reference to Orr’s plans to eliminate the retiree health care program, sending retirees onto Medicare (if they are over 65) or Obama’s private insurance markets (if they are under 65). With enrollment in Obama’s insurance exchanges set to begin tomorrow, the anti-working class essence of his health care overhaul is evident from the fact that Detroit officials see it as an opportunity to slash health care expenditures by $120 million a year.

The looting of Detroit is epitomized by plans to sell works from the Detroit Institute of Arts, located across the street from Wayne State University, the site of Friday’s “summit.”

In a column appearing in the Detroit News on Sunday, Nolan Findley, the newspaper’s editorial page editor, declared categorically, and enthusiastically, that DIA masterpieces will be sold off to private investors. The well-paid editor, channeling the cultural backwardness of his even wealthier financial patrons, denounced DIA Director Graham Beal for opposing the sale of art, even though Beal has accepted the framework of the bankruptcy process. “He should polish his walking shoes,” Findley wrote. “Art from the DIA’s treasure chest is going to be taken.”

Findley reported that he had spoken to “three people at the top of the decision-making in the bankruptcy process” and that “all said, without question, that at least part of the collection will have to be—their word—‘monetized’ before the bankruptcy is resolved.” Orr is said to be looking for at least $500 million from the sale of DIA works.

The Detroit News editor mocked defenders of the DIA for believing they were living in the “museum world.” He wrote: “They’re living in the bankruptcy world. And some very unsavory things are done in the bankruptcy world.”

One can almost hear the lips smacking in anticipation at the prospect of turning priceless artistic works into cash. For Findley and the social forces for whom he speaks, the “bankruptcy world” provides the framework for dispensing with all democratic pretenses. It is a world in which everything—from pensions and health care to artistic treasures and the cultural heritage of mankind—can be seized and liquidated to funnel even more money into the coffers of the banks and bondholders.

Findley repeated the claim, echoed by trade union and Democratic Party officials, that liquidating the DIA’s art is necessary to avoid even deeper cuts in pensions. Such lies should be treated with contempt! Not a penny from the legal theft of DIA art will go to workers.

Meanwhile, the Detroit Free Press on Sunday published a report showing that Orr has already allocated $62 million for consultants and advisers, including $18 million for his former law firm Jones Day.

The defense of the right to culture is a class question. It is inextricably linked to the defense of pensions, health care and all of the social rights of the working class.

The Socialist Equality Party calls on workers and youth to reject all demands for cuts and sacrifices. We have suggestions for where the money can be found to save the art of the DIA, resolve the city’s budget problems, fully fund workers’ pensions and health care, and develop a public works program to rebuild the city in the interests of the working class.

The first step should be the expropriation of the wealth of speculators like Gilbert (net worth $3.5 billion) and his co-conspirators. Amidst the claims that there is “no money,” US corporate profits are at a record $1.83 trillion a year. The wealth of the richest 400 Americans exceeds $2 trillion.

Next are the repudiation of the city debt to the bankers and the nationalization of the banks and their transformation into public institutions under the democratic control of the working class.

The outcome will be determined in struggle. If the plans of Orr in Detroit and the ruling class throughout the country are to be opposed, the working class is going to have to fight. In this fight, workers are pitted against the entire political establishment, Democratic and Republican, their flunkies in the trade unions, and all the defenders of the capitalist system, from the Obama administration on down.

A stand must be taken and a line drawn from which a counteroffensive of the working class can be launched. The SEP has initiated a campaign to defend the DIA, beginning with a demonstration this coming Friday, October 4, outside the DIA. We call for the broadest support for this campaign, from workers and young people in the region and throughout the country and internationally.

For more information on the campaign to defend the DIA, visit defendthedia.org

Joseph Kishore

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/30/pers-s30.html

President al-Assad Interview: “We Focus Today on Getting Rid of Terrorists and their Ideology”

“We can make Syria much better than before the crisis”

By Bashar al Assad

Global Research, September 29, 2013
SANA AND Rai News 24

AssadPresident Bashar al-Assad has given an interview to the Italian Rai News 24 TV channel in which he stressed Syria’s commitment to the international agreement on the prohibition of chemical weapons and its determination to go ahead with the political solution and halting violence.

The following is the full text of the interview:

Rai News: Mr. President, thanks for having us here. It’s a very important moment, because the UN Security Council just approved with unanimity a resolution asking Syria to eliminate completely its chemical weapons. Are you going to comply with this?

President al-Assad: Actually, we joined the international agreement for preventing the use and acquirement of chemical weapons before that resolution came to light. The main part of the Russian initiative is based on our will to do so. So, it’s not the resolution. Actually, it’s about our will. Of course, we have the will, because in 2003 we had a proposal in the United Nations Security Council, to get rid of those weapons in the Middle East, to have a chemical weapons free zone in the Middle East. So, of course we have to comply; this is our history: to comply with every treaty we sign.

Rai News: So, with no limit to any extent?

President al-Assad: According to every chapter in the agreement. We don’t have any reservations. That’s why we decided to join the agreement.

Rai News: How do you think you will organize this kind of dismantling, which is very complicated?

President al-Assad: This question should be directed to the organization itself. Of course our role is to offer the data and to facilitate their procedures, which is available so far. But I think it’s about the technical side or aspect of the implementation, about how to reach those places, especially when you have terrorists who could put any obstacle, and about how to dismantle and get rid of those materials.

Rai News: Let me just speculate on this. It means you’re going to help them and protect them. Because now security is a very important issue here in Syria.

President al-Assad: Of course. That’s self-evident, yes.

Rai News: Let’s go forward, Mr. President, trying to understand what’s going on in Syria in the next few days, weeks and months, because now the attack which was very close a few weeks ago looks to be a little more distant. How are you going to work in this time? What is your personal roadmap?

President al-Assad: I’m sorry, for what?

Rai News: For political activities. I mean, how do you think you’re going to use this time?

President al-Assad: Since the beginning of the crisis, we said political activity or solution, whatever you call it, is a very important part of the crisis. But when you have terrorism, you cannot expect the political solution to solve everything. In spite of that, you have to continue the political action, but there’s no process yet. It’s about the Syrians meeting around the table, discussing the political system that they want, the future of Syria, and whatever they agree upon, you’ll have a referendum in order to have the endorsement of the Syrian people regarding whatever part of the future of Syria, whether it’s the constitution, or laws, or whatever. That’s what we’ve been doing since the beginning of the crisis, and this is the same action that we’re going to continue with in the meantime.

                            We discuss with every party of opposition but not armed groups

Rai News: We’ll go back later to the beginning of the crisis, but let us stay for a second on this. It means you’re going to discuss with the opposition as well? Even with the armed opposition?

President al-Assad: No, when they are armed you don’t call them opposition, you call them terrorists. Opposition is a political entity, is a political program, is a political vision; this is opposition. If you have arms and destroy and kill and assassinate, this is not opposition. This is what you call terrorism all over the world and in every other country. So, we can discuss with every party in the opposition. Regarding the militants, if they give up their arms, we’ll be ready to discuss with them anything like any other citizen.

Rai News: So, we arrive close to Geneva 2, the peace talks, because Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the UN, said that it’s very likely in November there will be a second Geneva meeting. Are you planning to attend it personally?

President al-Assad: That depends on the framework of the Geneva meeting. So far, that conference is not clear: what kind of conference, who’s going to attend, what the criteria are for this conference. So, we have to be ready as government, but we cannot decide who’s going to head the delegation until we have, let’s say, the framework, the clear framework and the criteria.

Rai News: So, let me just ask you: which kind of framework would convince you to go there?

President al-Assad: As I said, any political party could attend that conference, but we cannot discuss, for example, al-Qaeda and its offshoots and organizations that are affiliated to al-Qaeda, for example, terrorists. We cannot negotiate with the people who ask for foreign intervention and military intervention in Syria.

Rai News: May I just name Qatar and Saudi Arabia?

President al-Assad: Let me be frank with you; they are client states, so I’m talking about states now. If you want to talk about states, they are client states; their master is the United States. We all know that. So, if the United States is attending, this is the main partner, and the others are accessories. If you want to talk about Syrian parties, regardless of their names, I’m talking about their behavior during the crisis. That’s what we can discuss – their behavior.

Rai News: Since the situation on the ground is very complicated, could you also accept the idea of some international forces, like interposition on the ground, to try to stabilize in a way the situation?

President al-Assad: It doesn’t work, because we’re not talking about two countries fighting each other, like, for example, Syria and Israel, where you have a frontline, a clear frontline, where you can have the United Nations forces on both sides of the borders or the frontier, let’s say, or the armistice line. It’s completely different. You are talking about gangs; they could exist everywhere in Syria, within any city, where you don’t have a frontier or clear lines. So, even if you want to suppose that you can accept that idea – which is not acceptable for us – but if you want to accept it, where can you position those troops? No-one can draw a map. You need a clear map. There is no clear map. There are gangs coming from everywhere, and they are terrorists who should be fought, not isolated from the Syrian troops.

     We support any country that would like to help the Syrians       

 Rai News:We were talking about Geneva 2, and I was thinking about Europe and the role of Italy in this kind of process. Do you see any role for Italy in this?

President al-Assad: Again, let me be very bold here, very blunt. If we want to discuss the role of Italy, we should see it in the light of the European role. Is Italy independent from the European role? If not, who’s leading the European role? And, we have to discuss the relation between the European role and the American. Is Europe independent from the American policies today? I heard from many European officials that they are convinced about what we are saying, but they cannot announce it. This is not the first time, not only during this crisis. So, any role should be looked at in the light of two things: the credibility of that role, and second, the relation between the individual or the country or the government, let’s say, with the different parties. Now, our reality today is that most of the European countries adopted the American, let’s say, practice in dealing with different countries since George Bush came to his position more than ten years ago. When they have a problem or disagreement with any other country, they cut off all kinds of relations. So, if you want to play a role, how can you play a role where you don’t have relations? How can you build credibility when you don’t have relations? Regarding the credibility, how can you talk about the credibility of any European country now when they talk about humanitarian aid and at the same time they establish the worst embargo we’ve ever seen since the existence of Syria after the independence? Many things have to be discussed before asking for a role. We welcome any role. We support any country that would like to help the Syrians in their endeavor, but we cannot just ask for a role without having the foundation of that role. So, to be frank, most of the European countries today, they don’t have the ability to play that role because they don’t have the different factors that could make them succeed and could make them efficient and effective in playing that role.

    We trust the Iranians and they, like the Syrians and many other countries, don’t trust the Americans

Rai News: But things look to change quite quickly these days, because just this phone call between President Obama and Iranian President Rouhani, and so it looks like the balance in the region in some way is changing. Isn’t it going to affect in some way what is happening in Syria?

President al-Assad: I think it’s going to affect positively for many reasons. First of all, Iran is our ally. Second, because we trust the Iranians. Third, because the Iranians, like the Syrians, like many countries in the world, don’t trust the Americans, and I think many of the American allies don’t trust the American administrations. So, for the Iranians to move closer to the Americans is not just a naïve move; it’s a well-studied step that’s based on the experience of the Iranians with the United States since the revolution in 1979. But if the Americans are honest about this rapprochement, I think the results will be positive regarding the different issues, not only the Syrian crisis, including every problem in the region.

20130929-162854.jpg

Rai News: You know that in the day of the crisis and I mentioned the attack was so close. An important action was taken by Papa Francesco, Pope Francis, against the war. And now, speaking to the Christian minority here, they are all very scared. What is going to be your attitude towards minorities like Christians in the next few years?

The crisis is not only a regional issue but should be international issue especially for Italy and the Vatican

President al-Assad: Syria is a melting pot. It existed like this, like it is today because it is a melting pot with multifarious cultures for centuries, before Christianity and after Christianity, before Islam and after Islam. If you have any change, dramatic change, in the demographic and social fabric of the Syrian society, you’re going to have a big problem in the future regarding the future of Syria. I don’t know what kind of problem, because it’s more complicated than anyone would think, and that will affect the other countries in the region. So, Syria is a secular country and the Syrian society is a secular society. Secular means to deal with every citizen, regardless of their religion, sect and ethnicity. So, I think technically these minorities in Syria, especially Christians, in light of what is happening recently – burning churches, attacking Christian villages, expelling Christians form their houses and homes – in light of this, dealing with this crisis is not a Syrian issue, it’s not only a regional issue, it should be an international issue, especially for Italy and for the Vatican.

Syrian Army didn’t use chemical weapons at all, we have every evidence that the armed groups have used them

Rai News: So, Mr. President, these have been very complicated weeks. The escalation has started with the infamous 21st August attack. Can we go back to that allegation about the chemical attack; which is your version, because you were speaking about having different evidence. UN inspectors are here working, can you help us understanding your version about this?

President al-Assad: Let me tell in you in brief. First, let’s start by saying the Syrian Army didn’t use it at all. It never arranged to use chemical weapons during the crisis, and we have every evidence that the gangs have used this.

Now, why the Syrian Army didn’t use it? Logically and realistically, you don’t use it when you’re in advancement. The army was advancing. Why to use it? You didn’t use it for two and a half years while you had many difficult situations in different areas in Syria, you had much more terrorists facing you in other places more than Damascus. Why didn’t we use it? Why only in that place?

Second, the story now, or the American narrative; we invited the delegation to come to Syria, which is responsible for investigating the use of chemical weapons, before that incident, and the day they arrived, the second day, the Syrian Army used chemical weapons. Is that plausible? You cannot believe this story. Why, when we invited the delegation to come in March, why did the Americans put obstacles, and why did they accept that recently before the incident, and when they arrived, the attack happened? You cannot use it in a city where you can have tens of thousands of casualties including the army. The most important thing is that nobody verified the veracity of the videos and the photos, no-one, because in many places, the same pictures of the same children were used in different photos in different places, and you can find those pictures on the internet, they’ve been circulating on the internet.

On the other side, we have complete evidence, like the materials, containers that the terrorists used, we have the confessions of some of the terrorists that conveyed chemical materials from neighboring countries, and you have the indication that the interest of whoever committed this crime wasn’t the Syrian Army; it was the terrorists. So, that’s the whole story.

Rai News:Is there even the slightest chance or possibility that someone inside your circle or the army did it against your permission, against you, and then maybe see him defect in a few months? It’s a very complicated crisis, so we’re allowed to use speculations.

President al-Assad: It’s a weapon of mass destruction, it’s chemical. It’s like if you say that somebody in a nuclear country wanted to use nuclear weapons without the authority of his master. You cannot believe this. This is a very naïve story. This could be a children’s story. It’s not a grenade ;you put it in your pocket and throw it on everyone. The process of using the chemical weapons if you have a war with any enemy and if you want to use it is very complicated, it’s under strict procedure because it’s complicated technically first of all to activate the material itself. This is first. Second, not a single unit in the Syrian Army has chemical weapons anyway; you have specialized units, and if you want to use it, these specialized units should join the army in order to use the chemical weapons. So, again, this is a children’s narrative.

We dealt with the situation from the beginning according to the constitution

Rai News: So, since we’re going back in time, let’s go to the beginning of the crisis. At the time, you acted in a tough way against any sign of opposition. Do you have any kind of regret of the way everything began?

President al-Assad: We have to define the word “tough” because we dealt with the situation according to the constitution. It’s like, if you say, the Americans sent the army to Los Angeles in 1995. Do you call it tough, or do you call it that they sent the army to fight the rebels? So, according to the constitution we should have fought the terrorists, because from the very first week, we had many victims from the army and the police, from the very first few weeks. So, that’s normal, what we did, according to the constitution. This is the job of the government. If you talk about mistakes committed on the ground that could happen anywhere in the world. In the UK a few years ago, they shot a Brazilian guy by mistake, so that could happen anywhere. So, policy is different from the practice in many places in the world.

Rai News: But, just remaining on the political field, don’t you think that you had the chance to do something more at the time? Like doing something more, maybe change, even politicians sometimes can admit some mistakes.

President al-Assad: Even if you want to look at your mistakes when you do it, and every human will do mistakes every day, that’s normal, but how can you judge your mistake? After the end of the event, not during the event. So, we are still in the middle of the crisis. You can judge that at the end of the crisis. This is where we can revise our action, this is where the people can criticize us on, let’s say, objective and methodical basis, not in an arbitrary way.

Rai News: Did you ever think to leave the power for the sake of your country? Did you ever consider the chance to leave your country just if the exchange was peace and stability for your people?

President al-Assad: It depends on the “if.” If my quitting of my position would make the situation better, the answer would be very simply, without reluctance, yes. But there is the other question; would the situation be better? So, for me as president, so far, I have to be in my position because when you have a storm, you don’t give up your position. You don’t quit your position and leave your country in the middle of the storm. Your mission is to take your country to the shore, not to abandon the ship and the Syrian people.

Rai News: What would be the scenario in which you could decide that it’s the right way for your ship to go to the shore, and then you decide to do something else?

I should obey whatever the Syrian people want

President al-Assad: The first part, two things. As I said earlier, the political dialogue is very important to discuss the future of Syria and the political system. The second one is to stop the violence by stopping the smuggling and sending the terrorist form outside Syria, stopping the financial support, stopping sending them armaments and every logistical support, because if we don’t succeed here, we cannot in the political part of solving the problem. Second, after solving this problem, regarding me, my position, the only way is the ballot box, because this is where the Syrian people can tell whoever they want. And for me, I should obey whatever the Syrian people want. There’s no other way in any country. I mean, it’s not the decision of any group in Syria; it’s the decision of every Syrian citizen.

Rai News: Are you going to be in the elections of 2014?

President al-Assad: Before the elections right away, if I feel that the Syrian people want me to be in that position, I will run. If not, I will not.

Bad ideologies invaded the region, including Syria

Rai News: Mr. President, I do remember the beginning of your presidency, and you were looked to as a symbol of hope for Syria, because everybody knew that you knew the world, and you came here to give it a more modern and open society. Young people, intellectuals were looking at you in this way. Then, something happened in between. Do you think there’s a chance you could do something so dramatically different to be seen again in that position, and not in the one in which you’re seen in the very last days?

President al-Assad: You have to talk about the internal factors and the external factors, because you are part of a very complicated region in the world, so we’ll be affected, and there’s daily interaction with our periphery. The internal factor which is that when you talk about reform, it’s not the reform of the president or the government; the government and the president should lead the reform, because it’s about the whole society, because it’s a matter of culture. It’s not only laws and constitution. The laws and constitution are means for change, but the real change happens by the people themselves. So, according to our reality, when you talk about thousands of years of civilization, you are talking about mores, and customs, and traditions, and ethos, and folkways, and different things that are related to every society, and our society is very complicated because of this multifarious culture that we’ve had. So, it was moving forward. You cannot say that we didn’t say anything. Some people say that it was false, some people say that it was too slow; this is subjective. Each one sees it in his own way. But in the end, no-one can say that we are in our position, because we moved forward, could be slowly, but surely. This is the first part.

Second, you have to talk about external obstacles. When I became president, two months later, the Intifada in Palestine started that influenced every country in the Arab world. The peace process actually had failed just a few months before I became president, and there was a stalemate. Third, eleventh of September happened, and we had to pay the price, one of the countries that had to pay the price. They invaded Afghanistan; we were against. They invaded Iraq; we were against. And after 2003, after the invasion of Iraq, Syria had to pay the price, and there was an embargo by the Europeans and the West, and so on. There was only an artificial period of conciliation, let’s say between Syria – which could be not the very precise word – but kind of rapprochement between Syria and the West and especially Europeans between 2008 and 2011. Why artificial? Because it was under the supervision of the Americans; it wasn’t genuine, because they weren’t independent. And now we have the crisis. When we talk about reform, especially when we talk about dramatic reform, you need a different atmosphere. You have to be comfortable economically, politically and ideologically. Don’t forget in that regard one of the external and internal factors at the same time is the invasion of the bad ideologies to the region, including Syria, and I mean the ideology of al-Qaeda that invaded many communities in our region, including part of the Syrian society. You cannot talk about reform and democracy while the ideologies are single-minded ideologies that don’t accept any other one, because democracy, real democracy, is about accepting the others. Start by accepting the other, first of all, especially in a diverse society. So, I can say that we are still having the same will to move forward in that regard according to our reality. So, the scope of the reform will be limited by our reality.

The only option that’s left for us is to defend our country

Rai News: Very last question; if now the major threat looks to be over or a little lessened, what would you tell your people in terms of promise and pattern?

President al-Assad: I think the only thing that I can say now is one option that’s left for us; which is to defend our country. So, first of all, we have to focus on getting rid of the terrorists, their terrorism and their ideology. Second, even if we get over this crisis, we have so many things to manage after the crisis, the leftover of this crisis, especially the ideological, the psychological and the social consequences on this society, so we have a lot of work. But, I can say with confidence that we can make Syria much better than before the crisis.

Rai News: Even with reforms?

President al-Assad: Yeah, of course. We need the reform. Without reform, we cannot. The reform is a very part of what I’m talking about. Actually, it’s the major axis of making Syria better, that’s for sure, but doesn’t mean to be the hope in that regard of foreign countries or foreign people; I could be the hope of the Syrians, not any other one.

Rai News: I wish you all the best. Thank you very much, Mr. President. Thank you for your time and for hosting us here.

President al-Assad: Thank you for coming to Syria.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/president-al-assad-interview-we-focus-today-on-getting-rid-of-terrorists-and-their-ideology/5352063

The Israeli Lobby Sets Out To Defeat Obama on Iran

By MJ Rosenberg

September 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  The two presidents have spoken: Barack Obama and Hassan Rouhani. And they are on the same page. By that I mean not they agree about the issues dividing the two countries but that they are both ready to move forward, to test each other and see if agreement is possible.

As tentative as this is, it is also huge — as anyone who has paid even a little attention over the past 34 years knows.

However, I do not see this process leading anywhere because the Netanyahu government and its lobby, the American Israel Public  Affairs Committee (AIPAC), are both determined to end the process and have the ability to do it.

They intend to use the United States Congress to pass resolutions that will cause Rouhani to walk away by making clear that Congress will accept nothing short of an Iranian surrender on nuclear issues. Although President Obama wants to negotiate with Iran about ensuring that Iran’s nuclear program not be used to produce weapons, the lobby, which writes the laws imposing sanctions on Iran, insists that Iran give up its nuclear program entirely.

AIPAC listed its demands in a statement last week.

The bottom line is this: Congress must not consider lifting economic  sanctions until the Iranians stop uranium enrichment, stop work on installing new centrifuges, allow international inspection of nuclear sites, and move out of the country its stockpile of highly enriched uranium.  In contrast to the administration which, recognizing that Iran (like every other country) has the right to nuclear power for peaceful purposes, AIPAC says that Iran has no such right. (Israel, of course, has a large stockpile of nuclear weapons but, hey, that’s different).

Not only that, if Iran does not agree to total nuclear surrender, “The United States must support Israel’s right to act against Iran if it feels compelled—in its own legitimate self-defense—to act.”

 In other words: the only way for Iran to avoid a military attack is by totally dismantling all its nuclear facilities and potential (to address the “potential,” Israel has repeatedly assassinated Iranian nuclear scientists on Iranian soil). This contrasts with the U.S. view that each step toward compliance by Iran would result in the lifting of some sanctions.

AIPAC is already preparing legislation that will send a clear message to Rouhani: don’t bother reaching out to the west because you will achieve nothing.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who with Robert Menendez (D-NJ), is AIPAC’s top lieutenant in the Senate says that “if nothing changes in Iran, come September or October, “ he will introduce a bill “to authorize the use of military force to prevent Iran from developing a nuclear bomb.” He says that the “only way to convince Iran to halt their nuclear program is to make it clear that we will take it out.”

Senators Menendez, Chuck Schumer (D-NY, John McCain and Graham also sent letters to President Obama urging “full compliance” by Iran before the United States offers anything.  In short, led by AIPAC, the senators want “unconditional surrender” by Iran to avoid attack. This is diplomacy? It sounds more like the way the Germans and later the Russians addressed Czechoslovakia.

But why would anyone think the Senate will pass AIPAC’s war bills. The answer is simply that the midterm elections are coming up and that means Members of Congress need campaign cash. And AIPAC helps provide it.

Remember what AIPAC’s former #2 guy, Steve Rosen (later indicted under the Espionage Act) told New Yorker writer Jeff Goldberg in 2005. Goldberg asked Rosen just how powerful AIPAC is. Goldberg described Rosen’s response.

A half smile appeared on his face, and he pushed a napkin across the table. “You see this napkin?” he said. “In twenty-four hours, we could have the signatures of seventy senators on this napkin.”

Obama better be prepared. AIPAC has been pushing war with Iran for a decade. Its bills to achieve it won’t be written on napkins.

M.J. Rosenberg is Special Correspondent for The Washington Spectator. Previously he served as a Senior Foreign Policy Fellow with Media Matters Action Network, and prior to that worked on Capitol Hill for various Democratic members of the House and Senate for 15 years. He was also a Clinton political appointee at USAID. In the early 1980s, he was editor of AIPACs weekly newsletter Near East Report. From 1998-2009, he was director of policy at Israel Policy Forum.

Israel was informed of Obama-Rohani call in advance, briefed after: White House National Security Advisor Susan Rice informed her Israeli counterpart Yaakov Amidror Friday of the planned telephone conversation U.S. President Barack Obama was to hold with Iranian President Hassan Rohani and then informed him of its contents after it had taken place.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36377.htm

Hypocrisy of the Paranoid

By Paul Balles

“The true hypocrite is the one who ceases to perceive his deception, the one who lies with sincerity.” – Andre Gide

September 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  Hypocritical behaviour is to carry fire in one hand and water in the other.

It is defined as being duplicitous, engaging in double-dealing, being two-faced or speaking with forked tongue.

The expression comes from Plautus and indicates a person is prepared to act in totally contradictory ways to achieve their purpose.

The expression is also applied to someone who makes a great commotion about an insignificant matter, while accepting grave faults and injustices without a murmur – or who complains vociferously about minor transgressions while committing deplorable offences.

Mental Health America describes paranoia as something that “involves feelings of persecution and an exaggerated sense of self-importance”.

“Symptoms of paranoia and paranoid disorders include intense and irrational mistrust or suspicion, which can bring on a sense of rage, hatred, and betrayal.”

But how do they fit together to make paranoid hypocrisy?

As a simple illustration, think of millions of American gun owners who believe it’s necessary to own guns (paranoia), but also refuse to pass laws requiring background checks for would-be gun owners (hypocrisy).

Americans carry a tremendous amount of guilt around with them (paranoia) as they preach moral behaviour (hypocrisy).

Constant reminders of the holocaust during the Second World War are designed to keep six million victims of German camps firmly in the minds of all.

Here’s a fitting scene from Joseph Heller’s Catch-22:

“Who’s they?” He wanted to know. “Who, specifically, do you think is trying to murder you?”

“Every one of them,” Yossarian told him.

“Every one of whom?”

“Every one of whom do you think?”

“I haven’t any idea.”

“Then how do you know they aren’t?”

“Because…” Clevinger sputtered, and turned speechless with frustration.

Clevinger really thought he was right, but Yossarian had proof, because strangers he didn’t know shot at him with cannons every time he flew up into the air to drop bombs on them, and it wasn’t funny at all.”

And so it was when I was a pre-teen, going to bed after watching a cowboys and Indians film.

But my Indians are now the Palestinians who haunt Israeli nights.

The Israelis have played very effectively on American guilt over the colonization of Indian territory.

How could an American honestly criticize Israeli settlements?

How could Americans forget or bury their colonial history?

It’s a similar problem with the recent kerfuffle over sarin gas.

Syrian President Bashar Al Assad’s government only developed chemical weapons in response to Israeli nuclear bombs.

Who was responsible for the yet unidentified use of sarin gas in Syria? Who benefits? Certainly not the Syrian government.

Give a moment’s thought to the absurdity of America taking a holier-than-thou stance on the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction of any kind.

The US is the only country in the world to use nuclear weapons against another country when it destroyed Nagasaki and Hiroshima in Japan.

The US used enough napalm in Vietnam to murder 4.8 million Vietnamese.

In Iraq, it was America again that gave Iraq banned gas to use against Iranians and their own people.

America’s use of depleted uranium has left hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children with deformities.

The only other country to use horrible weapons has been Israel, using phosphorous bombs that burn holes through women, children and elderly civilians.

Tacitus said: “If you would know who controls you see who you may not criticize.”

You may not criticize the US military, arms manufacturers or Israel.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36379.htm

N.S.A. Gathers Data on Social Connections of U.S. Citizens

By JAMES RISEN and LAURA POITRAS

September 29, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “NY Times” –  WASHINGTON — Since 2010, the National Security Agency has been exploiting its huge collections of data to create sophisticated graphs of some Americans’ social connections that can identify their associates, their locations at certain times, their traveling companions and other personal information, according to newly disclosed documents and interviews with officials.

The spy agency began allowing the analysis of phone call and e-mail logs in November 2010 to examine Americans’ networks of associations for foreign intelligence purposes after N.S.A. officials lifted restrictions on the practice, according to documents provided by Edward J. Snowden, the former N.S.A. contractor.

The policy shift was intended to help the agency “discover and track” connections between intelligence targets overseas and people in the United States, according to an N.S.A. memorandum from January 2011. The agency was authorized to conduct “large-scale graph analysis on very large sets of communications metadata without having to check foreignness” of every e-mail address, phone number or other identifier, the document said. Because of concerns about infringing on the privacy of American citizens, the computer analysis of such data had previously been permitted only for foreigners.

The agency can augment the communications data with material from public, commercial and other sources, including bank codes, insurance information, Facebook profiles, passenger manifests, voter registration rolls and GPS location information, as well as property records and unspecified tax data, according to the documents. They do not indicate any restrictions on the use of such “enrichment” data, and several former senior Obama administration officials said the agency drew on it for both Americans and foreigners.

N.S.A. officials declined to say how many Americans have been caught up in the effort, including people involved in no wrongdoing. The documents do not describe what has resulted from the scrutiny, which links phone numbers and e-mails in a “contact chain” tied directly or indirectly to a person or organization overseas that is of foreign intelligence interest.

The new disclosures add to the growing body of knowledge in recent months about the N.S.A.’s access to and use of private information concerning Americans, prompting lawmakers in Washington to call for reining in the agency and President Obama to order an examination of its surveillance policies. Almost everything about the agency’s operations is hidden, and the decision to revise the limits concerning Americans was made in secret, without review by the nation’s intelligence court or any public debate. As far back as 2006, a Justice Department memo warned of the potential for the “misuse” of such information without adequate safeguards.

An agency spokeswoman, asked about the analyses of Americans’ data, said, “All data queries must include a foreign intelligence justification, period.”

“All of N.S.A.’s work has a foreign intelligence purpose,” the spokeswoman added. “Our activities are centered on counterterrorism, counterproliferation and cybersecurity.”

The legal underpinning of the policy change, she said, was a 1979 Supreme Court ruling that Americans could have no expectation of privacy about what numbers they had called. Based on that ruling, the Justice Department and the Pentagon decided that it was permissible to create contact chains using Americans’ “metadata,” which includes the timing, location and other details of calls and e-mails, but not their content. The agency is not required to seek warrants for the analyses from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court.

N.S.A. officials declined to identify which phone and e-mail databases are used to create the social network diagrams, and the documents provided by Mr. Snowden do not specify them. The agency did say that the large database of Americans’ domestic phone call records, which was revealed by Mr. Snowden in June and caused bipartisan alarm in Washington, was excluded. (N.S.A. officials have previously acknowledged that the agency has done limited analysis in that database, collected under provisions of the Patriot Act, exclusively for people who might be linked to terrorism suspects.)

But the agency has multiple collection programs and databases, the former officials said, adding that the social networking analyses relied on both domestic and international metadata. They spoke only on the condition of anonymity because the information was classified.

The concerns in the United States since Mr. Snowden’s revelations have largely focused on the scope of the agency’s collection of the private data of Americans and the potential for abuse. But the new documents provide a rare window into what the N.S.A. actually does with the information it gathers.

A series of agency PowerPoint presentations and memos describe how the N.S.A. has been able to develop software and other tools — one document cited a new generation of programs that “revolutionize” data collection and analysis — to unlock as many secrets about individuals as possible.

The spy agency, led by Gen. Keith B. Alexander, an unabashed advocate for more weapons in the hunt for information about the nation’s adversaries, clearly views its collections of metadata as one of its most powerful resources. N.S.A. analysts can exploit that information to develop a portrait of an individual, one that is perhaps more complete and predictive of behavior than could be obtained by listening to phone conversations or reading e-mails, experts say.

Phone and e-mail logs, for example, allow analysts to identify people’s friends and associates, detect where they were at a certain time, acquire clues to religious or political affiliations, and pick up sensitive information like regular calls to a psychiatrist’s office, late-night messages to an extramarital partner or exchanges with a fellow plotter.

“Metadata can be very revealing,” said Orin S. Kerr, a law professor at George Washington University. “Knowing things like the number someone just dialed or the location of the person’s cellphone is going to allow them to assemble a picture of what someone is up to. It’s the digital equivalent of tailing a suspect.”

The N.S.A. had been pushing for more than a decade to obtain the rule change allowing the analysis of Americans’ phone and e-mail data. Intelligence officials had been frustrated that they had to stop when a contact chain hit a telephone number or e-mail address believed to be used by an American, even though it might yield valuable intelligence primarily concerning a foreigner who was overseas, according to documents previously disclosed by Mr. Snowden. N.S.A. officials also wanted to employ the agency’s advanced computer analysis tools to sift through its huge databases with much greater efficiency.

The agency had asked for the new power as early as 1999, the documents show, but had been initially rebuffed because it was not permitted under rules of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court that were intended to protect the privacy of Americans.

A 2009 draft of an N.S.A. inspector general’s report suggests that contact chaining and analysis may have been done on Americans’ communications data under the Bush administration’s program of wiretapping without warrants, which began after the Sept. 11 attacks to detect terrorist activities and skirted the existing laws governing electronic surveillance.

In 2006, months after the wiretapping program was disclosed by The New York Times, the N.S.A.’s acting general counsel wrote a letter to a senior Justice Department official, which was also leaked by Mr. Snowden, formally asking for permission to perform the analysis on American phone and e-mail data. A Justice Department memo to the attorney general noted that the “misuse” of such information “could raise serious concerns,” and said the N.S.A. promised to impose safeguards, including regular audits, on the metadata program. In 2008, the Bush administration gave its approval.

A new policy that year, detailed in “Defense Supplemental Procedures Governing Communications Metadata Analysis,” authorized by Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates and Attorney General Michael B. Mukasey, said that since the Supreme Court had ruled that metadata was not constitutionally protected, N.S.A. analysts could use such information “without regard to the nationality or location of the communicants,” according to an internal N.S.A. description of the policy.

After that decision, which was previously reported by The Guardian, the N.S.A. performed the social network graphing in a pilot project for 1 ½ years “to great benefit,” according to the 2011 memo. It was put in place in November 2010 in “Sigint Management Directive 424” (sigint refers to signals intelligence).

In the 2011 memo explaining the shift, N.S.A. analysts were told that they could trace the contacts of Americans as long as they cited a foreign intelligence justification. That could include anything from ties to terrorism, weapons proliferation or international drug smuggling to spying on conversations of foreign politicians, business figures or activists.

Analysts were warned to follow existing “minimization rules,” which prohibit the N.S.A. from sharing with other agencies names and other details of Americans whose communications are collected, unless they are necessary to understand foreign intelligence reports or there is evidence of a crime. The agency is required to obtain a warrant from the intelligence court to target a “U.S. person” — a citizen or legal resident — for actual eavesdropping.

The N.S.A. documents show that one of the main tools used for chaining phone numbers and e-mail addresses has the code name Mainway. It is a repository into which vast amounts of data flow daily from the agency’s fiber-optic cables, corporate partners and foreign computer networks that have been hacked.

The documents show that significant amounts of information from the United States go into Mainway. An internal N.S.A. bulletin, for example, noted that in 2011 Mainway was taking in 700 million phone records per day. In August 2011, it began receiving an additional 1.1 billion cellphone records daily from an unnamed American service provider under Section 702 of the 2008 FISA Amendments Act, which allows for the collection of the data of Americans if at least one end of the communication is believed to be foreign.

The overall volume of metadata collected by the N.S.A. is reflected in the agency’s secret 2013 budget request to Congress. The budget document, disclosed by Mr. Snowden, shows that the agency is pouring money and manpower into creating a metadata repository capable of taking in 20 billion “record events” daily and making them available to N.S.A. analysts within 60 minutes.

The spending includes support for the “Enterprise Knowledge System,” which has a $394 million multiyear budget and is designed to “rapidly discover and correlate complex relationships and patterns across diverse data sources on a massive scale,” according to a 2008 document. The data is automatically computed to speed queries and discover new targets for surveillance.

A top-secret document titled “Better Person Centric Analysis” describes how the agency looks for 94 “entity types,” including phone numbers, e-mail addresses and IP addresses. In addition, the N.S.A. correlates 164 “relationship types” to build social networks and what the agency calls “community of interest” profiles, using queries like “travelsWith, hasFather, sentForumMessage, employs.”

A 2009 PowerPoint presentation provided more examples of data sources available in the “enrichment” process, including location-based services like GPS and TomTom, online social networks, billing records and bank codes for transactions in the United States and overseas.

At a Senate Intelligence Committee hearing on Thursday, General Alexander was asked if the agency ever collected or planned to collect bulk records about Americans’ locations based on cellphone tower data. He replied that it was not doing so as part of the call log program authorized by the Patriot Act, but said a fuller response would be classified.

If the N.S.A. does not immediately use the phone and e-mail logging data of an American, it can be stored for later use, at least under certain circumstances, according to several documents.

One 2011 memo, for example, said that after a court ruling narrowed the scope of the agency’s collection, the data in question was “being buffered for possible ingest” later. A year earlier, an internal briefing paper from the N.S.A. Office of Legal Counsel showed that the agency was allowed to collect and retain raw traffic, which includes both metadata and content, about “U.S. persons” for up to five years online and for an additional 10 years offline for “historical searches.”

James Risen reported from Washington and New York. Laura Poitras, a freelance journalist, reported from Berlin.

© 2013 The New York Times Company

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36381.htm

American exceptionalism an ‘outdated’ concept

Eric Draitser is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City and the founder ofStopImperialism.com.

The longstanding notion of US exceptionalism has deep roots in the American psyche, but as the world experiences a “tectonic shift in global geopolitics” the very idea of Washington’s superiority is being challenged, analyst Eric Draitser told RT.

Earlier this week, President Barack Obama reaffirmed Washington’s desire to engage in the affairs of other states, particularly in the Middle East.

“I believe America must remain engaged for our own security. But I also believe the world is better for it. Some may disagree, but I believe that America is exceptional – in part because we have shown a willingness, through the sacrifice of blood and treasure, to stand up not only for our own narrow self-interest, but for the interests of all,” Obama said in his address to the UN General Assembly in New York.

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013 (Reuters / Mike Segar)

U.S. President Barack Obama addresses the 68th United Nations General Assembly at UN headquarters in New York, September 24, 2013 (Reuters / Mike Segar)

Analyst Eric Draitser believes Obama’s statement has nothing to do with the situation in Syria, but rather is about US-Russia political rivalry and a direct response to Russian President Vladimir Putin, who recently addressed the American nation through one of the most respected US media outlets, The New York Times.

RT: Obama says the US “has a responsibility to act,” but does that guarantee it will act responsibly?

Eric Draitser: No, of course it doesn’t. I think we should be very cautious about this so-called “American exceptionalism.” I think that what Obama was really pointing to, this was clearly a rhetorical response to Russian President [Vladimir] Putin’s OpEd in The New York Times, in which he questioned the very notion of American exceptionalism.

You see, here in the US, within our collective consciousness and within our sort of national mythology, this notion that the US stands somehow above and beyond all other countries of the world; that we represent not only certain abstract ideals, but certain political principals that somehow are not reflected by other states.

So what Obama is in fact saying with regard to American exceptionalism is nothing to do with the moral character or ethical makeup of the country. It has everything to do with the United States asserting its right to dominate politically, economically, militarily and otherwise anywhere that it sees fit.

And Syria really has become a sort of battleground between the US and Russia – not over chemical weapons, but over influence and over how geopolitics will look like in the US in the 21st century.

RT: So, bluntly as you say, this is not about the situation in Syria?

ED: Syria is sort of the pretext for this. What Obama is asserting a longstanding principle not only within the political establishment of the US, but within the very psyche of the American people: that somehow we’re better, that somehow we’re exceptional. And Obama is attempting to use that rhetoric as a way of putting himself on a moral high ground above Putin, above the Chinese, above any of the so-called “troublemakers” in the UN Security Council.

So, while it looks to the rest of the world that the US is a belligerent actor when it comes to Syria, Obama is essentially asserting, “No, no, we’re moral, we’re just and we’re righteous.”

RT: Eric, there is nothing wrong with national pride, no one is going to argue against that, but this is where it is crossing the danger line, right?

ED: Exactly right. Essentially, what we should understand is that the language that Obama is using is not only just to make the case that somehow the US is above other countries – it’s that the US is above international law, that the US is above the very institutions that the United Nations represents, and that it is above everything that has happened since WWII.

In other words, it’s the principle “might is right.” You don’t want to reduce it down to such a simplistic concept, but unfortunately that is the reality of international relations when it comes to the United States.

AFP Photo/ Pool / Mario Tama AFP Photo/ Pool / Mario Tama

Of course the anger with the Russians, the anger with Putin is his and Russia’s inability to accept this principle and what we see is a tectonic shift in global geopolitics, as countries who even 10 years ago would not even dare to question the notion of American exceptionalism and America’s ability and… right to assert its military authority around the world. Now this is being questioned.

This is, of course, due to a combination of many different factors, not the least of which is America’s global prestige in decline.

RT: And how this has been accepted internally? You’ve highlighted there what America is thought of externally. After all, Russia has been saying for a while that there should be a collective global leadership. How is that going down with the average American?

ED: It’s a bit complex, because on the one hand Americans tend to have this sort of patriotic fever that you’ve been referring to earlier, believing in some of the issues of national pride, believing in the country. This is all well and good, but this has sort of blended with the growing discontent among regular ordinary Americans with US foreign policy: tired of the Afghan war, disgusted by the experience in Iraq and America’s adventurism all over the world. So, while that is not necessarily the vast majority of [American] people, a solid percentage of this country is so tired of war that they are not really willing to listen to whatever justifications are going to be made by the political leaders.

Reuters / Michael NagleReuters / Michael Nagle

On the other hand, there are so many people burdened by debt, so burdened by the other economic problems that exist in this country, that they are sort of allowing the international angle to sort of go by the wayside. Unfortunately, when you allow things like this to happen regional conflicts and world conflicts develop very quickly.

RT: So collective global leadership is a nice idea, but is it realistic?

ED: It is realistic only insofar as all actors are willing to accept the basic principle of equal responsibility and equal authority. And of course the United States is unwilling to do that, as we’ve seen with the example of the UN Security Council. Notice the language of the policymakers in the US when it comes to the Security Council. It is not working exactly as was intended to, that the veto is working precisely as it was intended to. No, to describe the institution itself as dysfunctional, they describe the institution as – quote “lacking leadership” – something that [Russia’s] Foreign Minister [Sergey] Lavrov highlighted in his speech.

And I think that is couched as rhetoric, as a way for the US to say “we will talk the talk [about] shared responsibility and shared global leadership, but when it comes down to it – we’re the US and everyone either falls in behind us, or stands against us.”

RT: I guess you’ve got to look at the track record of what America has been involved in. Is this really bad for the experience, generally speaking?

ED: Sure, what we’ve also seen in recent years that the US for its war-making ability, for all of its vast military-industrial complex, it is unable to win wars. Because what we’ve learnt that wars are no longer simply won on the battlefield, they are won in a diplomatic sphere, they are won with counter-insurgency tactics, they are won over decades, they are not simply won in conventional wars.

The US would do well to rethink its global posture and to look to leaders such as Putin, the Chinese and to other actors around the world who have preached caution and preached international law and respect for the international law, because only through those positions we are going to actually move forward and create some kind of a lasting peace in Syria and beyond.

http://rt.com/op-edge/american-exceptionalism-obama-politics-469/

War crimes: Penal sanctions against Tony Blair

29.09.2013

War crimes: Penal sanctions against Tony Blair. 51194.jpeg

Secretary of Blair War Crimes Foundation asks UK Secretary of State for Justice to initiate penal sanctions against Blair for war crimes. The use of depleted uranium (DU), white phosphorous, mercury, napalm equivalents and other  toxins against  a civilian population penned up in Fallujah in November 2004, were a significant war crime.

The Rt.Hon.,Chris Grayling,

The Secretary of State for Justice 

Ministry of Justice

102 Petty France

SW1H 9AJ

23.9.2013

Dear Sir,

Re:  Obligations of the UK High Contracting Party to the 1949 Geneva Conventions IV Article 146 

I assume that, since you have not replied to my letters, dated 18 March and 29th April 2013, asking for your implementation of The 1949 Geneva Conventions IV Article 146, I have finally found the identity of The Representative  of The UK High Contracting Party to those Conventions.

All Departments in Whitehall, that could have been the Representative, have, like servants in  Kafka’s Castle,  sent immediate replies to my requests, saying that it is not their Department and that I should try another.

The Attorney General directed me to the Home Secretary;  The Home Secretary  directed me to  the Crown Prosecution Service;  The Crown Prosecution  Service  directed me to yourself. Replies surely composed by gate keepers  anxious to absolve  their superiors of difficulties – because difficulties there are a plenty.

My tutor, Sir Harry Hinsley, met Hitler in Munich in 1937, I followed his footsteps, but to Munich and Nuremberg.  As a historian you will know that adjacent to Courtroom 600 at Nuremberg is a museum of the 1945 – 6 trials and a collection of the 40 Blue Books which recorded all the proceedings.

The museum pays tribute to the 2,000 idealistic American, Russian, and British men and women who spent two years recording these trials and composing the 1946 Nuremberg Protocols, which formed the basis of 1949 Geneva Conventions IV.  Their idealistic aim was to make it impossible for such a war of aggression again.

Vladimir Putin, writing in the New York Times (13 September 2013) referred to the importance of The Geneva Conventions, that Nations must support the United Nations, not letting disintegrate as did the League of Nations.  He continued: ” the preservation of law and order in today’s complex and turbulent world  is one of the few ways to keep international relations from sliding into chaos.” Fortunately, in the case of Syria, his words, so far, hold the day, and further violence by the USA, UK and France in the Middle East is delayed.

I have pointed out to you the strong evidence that Anthony Blair and our ally, the USA, have, in the conduct of the Iraq war, committed gravest breaches of the Geneva Conventions. The use of depleted uranium (DU), white phosphorous, mercury, napalm equivalents and other  toxins against  a civilian population penned up in Fallujah in November 2004, were a significant war crime.

Long term damage to the natural environment and disastrous effects on the genetic material of the Iraqi population, have been linked to a massive increase in horrendous birth defects, and grotesque cancers on childrens’ faces and bodies, which you will surely have observed  on CNN, Sky News and on You Tube.

The agonised look of a Fallujah mother staring at her otherwise beautiful child, marred by a grotesque growth on her face – and the hatred and despair on that mother’s face, is of hauntings..

Yet Whitehall continues to deny that DU is harmful, stating that its use is perfectly legitimate under international law. The then Defence Secretary Geoffrey Hoon said of the use of “Storm Shadow” missiles in the initial “Shock and Awe” attack, and use of cluster bombs over Hilla, “I will not compromise the safety of our armed forces by restraint.” (As you will know, pure military expediency was not accepted as a defense in the trial of Hermann Goering).

The perpetrators of these actions, Tony Blair and others, require – under the 1949 Geneva Conventions IV, article 146 – investigation by the High Contracting Party to examine grounds for prosecution and penal sanctions against the perpetrators of these breaches.

Your Ministry of Justice is required to act, lest it become an Orwellian Ministry of Injustice by inaction. Inaction in itself is breach of The Geneva Conventions.  As, by default, allowing the continuation of effects of toxins and radiation on the genetic material of future generations to continue. The radioactive ‘half life” of depleted uranium, is 4.6 Billion years.

Another effect referred to by Vladimir Putin, is that inaction under international law encourages continuous wars, death and chaos.

The judgement of future generations, may find inaction itself a war crime. Indeed, Article 146 asks for suppression of those breaches of the Convention IV.

If international law is disregarded, the Ministry of Defence will continue to claim that DU is benign. Such weapons will continue in use in “humanitarian” wars as Afghanistan, Libya and elsewhere. Wider UK sales of this weaponry will continue, citing  depleted uranium’s unique penetrating power and incineration properties.

However DU dust respects neither boundaries, or time. In the future, your  grand children, may, like Kenny Duncan or Jenny Moore, join the army develop genetic damage as a result, or, say,  work in Iran, and drinking coffee in Tehran, on one shallow breath, absorb an  alpha particle carried on the wind, resulting in an agonising cancer or leukaemia. Neither is inaction an option in the face of lethal, unending damage for future generations where ever these weapons are used, for the population and our own and coalition forces.

In  further support of Vladimir Putin’s call to respect the Geneva Conventions I refer to my letter of 1st March 2013, Indictment No.1, on the conspiracy by Blair and others to go to war by: “wrong footing Saddam on the Inspectors”.

At Nuremberg, in 1945-46, conspiracy to go to war was regarded  as: ” the supreme international crime.” In my letter to you I pointed out that Tony Blair, was fully aware, in March 2003, that there were no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, yet in Parliament at the crucial debate of 18 March 2003 he pretended that there were. I quote from my letter of 1st March 2013  to you :

Unfortunately Hans Blix’s report on the absence of weapons conflicted with the conspiracy between Downing Street and the USA to wrong foot Saddam  in order  to justify  waging  a war in March 2003.  Sir David  Manning reported in  a secret memo, that on 31 January 2003 Tony Blair met George W. Bush in the US and they discussed the fact that probably no weapons would be found.

Bush was reported by Manning at this meeting to suggest three alternatives.  One was to “fly U2 Reconnaissance aircraft with fighter cover painted in UN colours. If Saddam fired on them he would be in breach.” 

Instead  Hans Blix  was  recalled and instructed to abandon his inspection  on 28 Feb 2003. War was declared 2 weeks later. Blair, however said, on 18th March 2003, that the idea that Saddam Hussein had indeed destroyed these weapons was” palpably absurd. ” I suggest that Blair was lying and knew he was lying .

If there is a failure by the UK High Contracting Party to investigate this then it will be failing its obligations under the Geneva Conventions and future generations will know that the UK finally abandoned the Geneva Conventions with all the sorry consequences that President Putin pointed out.

If Sir John Chilcot’s legal Advisor, Ms Sara Goom’s  letter of 8th March 2011 is taken seriously ( copy enclosed ) Sir John has relied upon me to report to “the appropriate authority ” evidence of criminal offences that have emerged from his Inquiry. If the report of Sir John’s concern regarding the possibility that there was a conspiracy to go to war between Blair and Bush, as reported in The Times of July 20th 2013, is correct,  then Sir John  may be concerned at my failure to alert you to an  implementation of Article 146. I am therefore sending Sir John Chilcot a copy of this letter.

Finally you will surely have read Blair’s biography “A Journey”, which states on page 571:

“I had a vision for Britain. All the way I had believed I could and would persuade the country it  was the right choice, the modern way, bigger than Iraq, bigger than the American Alliance, bigger than any one thing; a complete vision  of where we should be in the early twenty first century; about how we finally overcome the greatness of our history to discover the full potential of our future.”

I suggest to you, as Secretary of State for Justice, that such a  vision should be  restrained before it is emulated and allowed free rein.

I shall be grateful if you will confirm that you are indeed the Representative of the High Contracting Party to The 1949 Geneva Conventions IV.

Yours faithfully,

 Nicholas Wood,

 

Secretary Blair War Crimes Foundation;

Secretary to 19 November 2009 Submission to Chilcot Inquiry.

Copy to:

Sir John Chilcot,

Ms Glenda Jackson MP

Elfin Llwyd, MP

The most reverend Desmond Tutu

Dr. Yakovenko , the Russian Ambassador to the U.K.

His Excellency Mohammad Khazaee, the Iranian Ambassador to the U.N.

His Excellency Bernard Emié, the French Ambassador to the U.K

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/29-09-2013/125763-war_crimes_blair-0/

Deal Reached on Syrian Chemical Weapons

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, September 28, 2013

chemical-weapons-mask-400x245Give credit where it’s deserved. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov earned it. He bested John Kerry. So far at least, he made him eat crow.

The five permanent Security Council members agreed on “binding and enforceable” wording to eliminate Syria’s chemical weapons.

Security Council resolution language excludes military force. Russia wants all Syrian conflict issues resolved diplomatically.

So far, things are proceeding that way. It remains to be seen what happens going forward. Obama’s regime change plans remain firm.

War is his bottom line option to achieve them. Implementing it is delayed. It’s not deterred. Another storm may follow today’s calm.

On Friday, Lavrov said:

“We have fully agreed upon draft decisions that will be forwarded to the headquarters of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) in the Hague within the next few minutes.”

“We have also agreed upon a Russian-American draft resolution that will be submitted to the UNSC today in order to support the decision that I hope will be adopted by the OPCW.”

“There will be no enforcement in line with Chapter VII,” he stressed.

Draft resolution language fully complies with provisions he and Kerry agreed on in Geneva weeks earlier.

According to Lavrov:

“[It] includes the agreement reached in Geneva that if there are any violations of (OPCW) procedures by any side, or if chemical weapons are used by any side, only then will the Security Council revisit these instances and may be prepared to adopt decisions under Chapter 7 proportionate to the gravity of these violations.”

Eliminating Syria’s CWs appears easier than first thought. They’re largely “unweaponized.” They’re liquid precursors. Neutralizing them involves a simpler process.

Destroying them can proceed more quickly. According to a US/Russian assessment, they can be eliminated in about nine months.

On September 20, Syria provided OPCW officials with a comprehensive CW list.

From the Hague, the OPCW said the “expected disclosure from the Syrian government” was received.

It’s being reviewed by its “technical secretariat.” US officials assessed what was submitted. A senior State Department official called it “quite good.”

Resolution language is legally binding. At the same time, it excludes automatic enforcement.

Security Council members will assess violations if they occur. Further action requires agreeing on a separate resolution.

A State Department official called agreed on Security Council language “a breakthrough arrived at through hard-fought diplomacy.”

“Just two weeks ago, no one thought this was in the vicinity of possible.”

“After close consultation with the P3, the Russians have agreed to support a strong, binding and enforceable resolution that unites the pressure and focus of the international community on the Syrian regime to ensure the elimination of Syria’s chemical weapons.”

“This is historic and unprecedented because it puts oversight of the Assad regime’s compliance under international control and it’s the first (Security Council resolution) to declare that the use of chemical weapons is a threat to peace and security.”

“Equally as important, it makes absolutely clear that failure of the Assad regime to comply will have consequences. Later this evening there will be a full consultation with the UNSC to discuss text.”

Resolution language holds all sides equally accountable. It excludes the use of force.

It’s in strict compliance with Geneva agreed on terms. Previous articles discussed them. They bear repeating. They include six points as follows:

(1) Syria will place its chemical weapons under international control.

(2) In one week, it will provide a “comprehensive” CW list.

(3) Extraordinary Chemical Weapons Convention procedures will be implemented to destroy them.

(4) Syria will give international inspectors full, “unfettered access” to all chemical weapons sites.

(5) All CWs must be destroyed by mid-2014. No precise date was stipulated.

(6) The UN will provide logistical support and compliance assurance with what’s agreed on.

Agreed on Security Council provisions are as follows:

“1. Determines that the use of chemical weapons anywhere constitutes a threat to international peace and security;

2. Condemns in the strongest terms any use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic, in particular the attack on 21 August 2013, in violation of international law;

3. Endorses the decision of the OPCW Executive Council (XX September 2013), which contains special procedures for the expeditious destruction of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program and stringent verification thereof and calls for its full implementation in the most expedient and safest manner;

4. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall not use, develop, produce, otherwise acquire, stockpile or retain chemical weapons, or transfer, directly or indirectly, chemical weapons to other States or non-State actors;

5. Underscores that no party in Syria should use, develop, produce, acquire, stockpile, retain, or transfer chemical weapons;

6. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall comply with all aspects of the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of (XX September 2013) (Annex I);

7. Decides that the Syrian Arab Republic shall cooperate fully with the OPCW and the United Nations, including by complying with their relevant recommendations, by accepting personnel designated by the OPCW or the United Nations, by providing for and ensuring the security of activities undertaken by these personnel, by providing these personnel with immediate and unfettered access to and the right to inspect, in discharging their functions, any and all sites, and by allowing immediate and unfettered access to individuals that the OPCW has grounds to believe to be of importance for the purpose of its mandate, and decides that all parties in Syria shall cooperate fully in this regard;

8. Decides to authorize an advance team of United Nations personnel to provide early assistance to OPCW activities in Syria, requests the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General to closely cooperate in the implementation of the Executive Council decision of (XX September 2013) and this resolution, including through their operational activities on the ground, and further requests the Secretary-General, in consultation with the Director-General of the OPCW and, where appropriate, the Director-General of the World Health Organization, to submit to the Council within 10 days of the adoption of this resolution recommendations regarding the role of the United Nations in eliminating the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program;

9. Notes that the Syrian Arab Republic is a party to the Convention on the Privileges and Immunities of the United Nations, decides that OPCW-designated personnel undertaking activities provided for in this resolution or the decision of the OPCW Executive Council of (XX September 2013) shall enjoy the privileges and immunities contained in the Verification Annex, Part II(B) of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and calls on the Syrian Arab Republic to conclude modalities agreements with the United Nations and the OPCW;

10. Encourages Member States to provide support, including personnel, technical expertise, information, equipment, and financial and other resources and assistance, in coordination with the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General, to enable the OPCW and the United Nations to implement the elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program, and decides to authorize Member States to acquire, control, transport, transfer and destroy chemical weapons identified by the Director-General of the OPCW, consistent with the objective of the Chemical Weapons Convention, to ensure the elimination of the Syrian Arab Republic’s chemical weapons program in the soonest and safest manner;

11. Urges all Syrian parties and interested Member States with relevant capabilities to work closely together and with the OPCW and the United Nations to arrange for the security of the monitoring and destruction mission, recognizing the primary responsibility of the Syrian government in this regard;

12. Decides to review on a regular basis the implementation in the Syrian Arab Republic of the decision of the OPCW Executive Council (XX September 2013) and this resolution, and requests the Director-General of the OPCW to report to the Security Council, through the Secretary-General, who shall include relevant information on United Nations activities related to the implementation of this resolution, within 30 days and every month thereafter, and requests further the Director-General of the OPCW and the Secretary-General to report in a coordinated manner, as needed, to the Security Council, non-compliance with this resolution or the OPCW Executive Council decision of (XX September 2013);

13. Reaffirms its readiness to consider promptly any reports of the OPCW under Article VIII of the Chemical Weapons Convention, which provides for the referral of cases of non-compliance to the United Nations Security Council;

14. Decides that Member States shall inform immediately the Security Council of any violation of resolution 1540 (2004), including acquisition by non-State actors of chemical weapons, their means of delivery and related materials in order to take necessary measures therefore; Accountability

15. Expresses its strong conviction that those individuals responsible for the use of chemical weapons in the Syrian Arab Republic should be held accountable; Political transition

16. Endorses fully the Geneva Communique of 30 June 2012 (Annex II), which sets out a number of key steps beginning with the establishment of a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers, which could include members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent;

17. Calls for the convening, as soon as possible, of an international conference on Syria to implement the Geneva Communique, and calls upon all Syrian parties to engage seriously and constructively at the Geneva Conference on Syria, and underscores that they should be fully representative of the Syrian people and committed to the implementation of the Geneva Communique and to the achievement of stability and reconciliation; Non-Proliferation

18. Reaffirms that all Member States shall refrain from providing any form of support to non-State actors that attempt to develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any violations of this paragraph to the Security Council immediately;

19. Demands that non-State actors not develop, acquire, manufacture, possess, transport, transfer, or use nuclear, chemical or biological weapons and their means of delivery, and calls upon all Member States, in particular Member States neighbouring the Syrian Arab Republic, to report any actions inconsistent with this paragraph to the Security Council immediately;

20. Decides that all Member States shall prohibit the procurement of chemical weapons, related equipment, goods and technology or assistance from the Syrian Arab Republic by their nationals, or using their flagged vessels or aircraft, whether or not originating in the territory of the Syrian Arab Republic; Compliance

21. Decides, in the event of non-compliance with this resolution, including unauthorized transfer of chemical weapons, or any use of chemical weapons by anyone in the Syrian Arab Republic, to impose measures under Chapter VII of the United Nations Charter;

22. Decides to remain actively seized of the matter.”

It bears repeating. Security Council resolution language holds all sides equally accountable.

Condemning Ghouta’s attack stopped short of assigning blame. Syria had nothing to do with it. Insurgents bear full responsibility. Previous articles explained in detail.

Geneva I (June 2012) “agreed on guidelines and principles for a political transition that meets the legitimate aspirations of the Syrian people.”

In other words, Syrians alone will decide who’ll lead them. Other nations, groups or elements have no say.

Efforts going forward require “facilitat(ing) a Syrian-led political process” representing all its citizens.

Transitional government must be “genuinely democratic and pluralistic.”

It must comply with “international standards on human rights.”

It must include an independent judiciary respecting rule of law principles.

It must offer “equal opportunities and chances for all.”

Ending conflict depends on establishing “a transitional governing body” with “full executive powers.”

“It could include members of the present government and the opposition and other groups and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.”

Syrians alone must “determine the future of the country.”

All groups and segments of society must be able “to participate in a National Dialogue” process. Outcomes achieved “must be implemented.”

“The result of the constitutional drafting would be subject to popular approval.”

Once established, “free and fair multi-party elections” must be held. Women must be “represented in all aspects of the transition.”

“The sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity of Syria must be respected.”

Conflict resolution must be achieved through peaceful dialogue and negotiation. Force is ruled out.

Washington ignored Geneva provisions. It systematically violated them repeatedly. It still does so.

It remains to be seen what follows passage of the first Security Council resolution on Syria. Its binding language may not matter.

US duplicity is longstanding. Washington policymakers can’t be trusted. There’s great reason for concern going forward.

Events require close monitoring. Obama may get the war he wants. Odds strongly favor it. Preventing it matters most.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/deal-reached-syrian-chemical-weapons/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/deal-reached-on-syrian-chemical-weapons/5351969

White House officials visit Detroit to support “restructuring” plans

By Shannon Jones 

28 September 2013

Top figures in the Obama administration travelled to Detroit Friday for a meeting with state and local officials, presenting proposals for token federal aid to the city, which is in the midst of the largest city bankruptcy filing in US history.

The White House delegation included several cabinet secretaries—Attorney General Eric Holder; Shaun Donovan, secretary of housing and urban development; and Anthony Foxx, secretary of transportation. Gene Sperling, Obama’s chief economic advisor, led the team. The meeting followed a series of discussions between the White House and corporate and trade union leaders over the Detroit bankruptcy, which is being used as a precedent for an assault on working people across the United States.

The intervention by the White House comes as the city’s unelected emergency manager prepares to implement savage cuts directed against workers and retirees, along with the selling off of city assets, including masterpieces from the Detroit Institute of Arts. It follows the repeated insistence by the Obama administration that there will be no federal bailout of the city.

The money being allocated for Detroit, some $300 million in all, consists largely of existing federal and private foundation grants, which had already been earmarked for the city in previous years. They are being repackaged by the Obama administration in a public relations move to cover the complicity of the White House in the looting of the city by its Wall Street creditors.

The derisory sums made available will be channeled into projects that are part of the corporate-driven “restricting” of Detroit.

An article published in the September 26 edition of the New York Timescharacterized the efforts of the Obama administration as “the fiscal equivalent of looking under sofa cushions for spare change.”

None of the funds will go to safeguard the pensions of city workers, which Emergency Manger Kevyn Orr is proposing to slash. Nor is money being allocated to protect the health benefits of retirees, who face being forced onto Medicare or dumped into the health care exchanges being set up under Obama’s Affordable Heath Care Act.

Indeed, the day before White House officials arrived in Detroit Orr announced that he wants to freeze the city’s pension system for public workers. The freeze would close the city’s defined pensions benefit plan to new members as of December 31. It would also terminate cost of living adjustments for current retirees and shift current workers into new defined contribution plans.

Officials arriving at the meeting

Belying claims of “openness” by the Obama administration, the meeting was held at Wayne State University under conditions of secrecy, with police and FBI keeping the press and public away. The invited guests included businessmen, union leaders and city and state officials, including Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, Detroit Mayor David Bing and Orr.

At a press conference following the meeting, White House officials barred reporters from the WSWS, allowing in only pre-selected members of the establishment media.

Orr announced at the press conference the appointment of Detroit billionaire Dan Gilbert to an advisory panel on blight elimination. Roy Roberts, the former emergency manager for the Detroit Public Schools, was appointed to a task force overseeing the use of vacant land in the city.

Gilbert, the founder of Quicken Loans, is involved in buying up properties on the cheap throughout the downtown area. He hopes to capitalize on the creation of an entertainment district for the wealthy, partially subsidized with millions in public money. The project has involved the eviction of tenants from low rent buildings to make way for upscale apartments.

Roberts for his part oversaw the dismantling of public education in Detroit, slashing the budget, laying off teachers, closing scores of schools and promoting the spread of for-profit charters.

American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten

One of those present at the summit was Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers. In remarks to the WSWS, Weingarten defended the Obama administration, which has overseen a huge attack on public education, overseeing the elimination of the jobs of hundreds of thousands of teachers and promoting the spread of charter schools.

Referring to the visit of White House officials to Detroit, Weingarten said, “You have to give the administration a great amount of credit that we went to them and pushed our issues, and they have come here in force to do what they think they can do as a first step.”

The unions are collaborating closely with the Obama administration, which is using Detroit as a test case for using the bankruptcy courts to rob public sector workers of their pensions and health benefits. The attempt by union executives such as Weingarten to dress up the cosmetic measures advanced by the White House in relation to Detroit as significant initiatives shows the complicity of the unions in the assault being carried out on working people in the city.

In exchange for their collaboration, well-heeled executives like Weingarten hope to retain the continued flow of dues income into their union treasuries to maintain their lavish salaries and expense accounts.

The Socialist Equality Party and International Youth and Students for Social Equality are organizing a demonstration on October 4 to oppose the selloff of the art at the Detroit Institute of Arts and the attack on Detroit workers. To learn more, visit defendthedia.org .

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/summ-s28.html

UN Security Council backs US-Russia deal on Syrian chemical disarmament

By Alex Lantier 

28 September 2013

On Thursday night, the five permanent members of the UN Security Council approved a resolution negotiated between the United States and Russia, laying the basis for the destruction of Syria’s chemical weapons program.

The deal, first proposed by Russia two weeks ago in an attempt to prevent the United States and its allies from going to war with Syria to support Al Qaeda-linked opposition militias, marks a definite pause in the US threat of war with Syria. Only two weeks ago, the Obama administration was threatening to go to war, like the Bush administration in Iraq in 2003, without UN Security Council approval and in defiance of international law.

For now, Washington is negotiating in the context of the UN. This places definite obstacles to a US war with Syria. The resolution to which it has agreed does not authorize the use of force against Syria, even if it is found to be in non-compliance with disarmament plans.

Should Washington or its allies accuse Syria of non-compliance, they would have to return to the UN Security Council to ask for a separate Chapter 7 authorization for military force, which would likely face a veto from Russia, as well as China.

The Obama administration is signaling its support for the negotiations and disarmament proceedings proposed by Moscow and Damascus. US State Department officials have termed Syria’s declaration of its chemical inventory as “quite good,” after initially voicing concerns that the Assad regime would seek to hide its weapons. Syria reportedly has 300 tons of sulfur mustard, and several hundred tons of liquid chemical precursors of nerve agents, which are described as “un-weaponized” and relatively easy to destroy.

The Kremlin has offered to dispatch troops to Syria to guard the chemicals prior to their destruction. White House officials praised this gesture as “serious and sincere,” and praised Russian negotiators as “even more prepared” than their US counterparts to discuss the legal and technical issues involved in Syria’s disarmament program.

US officials and their international counterparts all tried to present this situation as a triumph for peace and for their various diplomatic agendas.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power said, “Just two weeks ago, tonight’s outcome seemed utterly unimaginable. Two weeks ago, the Syrian regime had not even acknowledged the existence of its chemical weapons stockpiles. But tonight, we have a shared draft resolution that was the outcome of intense diplomacy and negotiations over the last two weeks.”

After talks with US Secretary of State John Kerry, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi said: “The major concerns of all the parties, including China’s concerns, have basically been resolved.”

If Washington has returned to the negotiating table, this is due not to a triumph of diplomacy, but to the overwhelming opposition to a US-NATO war of aggression against Syria in the American and European working class. Stunned by mass public anger at its war plans, and unable to orchestrate a shift in public opinion through the media, the Obama administration also faced the threat of war with Syria’s backers, Russia and Iran. It therefore accepted the Russian offer of talks as the best way to pursue its strategic interests against Syria, Russia, and Iran.

The UN resolution leaves open a number of avenues for the Obama administration and its NATO and Persian Gulf allies to bring pressure to bear on the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.

In one unusual and stringent provision, the resolution demands that the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) have access to any site it suspects could be of relevance to chemical weapons, even if it has not been declared by the Syrian regime.

It demands that Syria grant officials “immediate and unfettered access to and the right to inspect, in discharging their functions, any and all sites.” It also demands “immediate and unfettered access to individuals the OPCW has grounds to believe to be of importance for the purpose of its mandate.”

It also demands that the Assad regime integrate sections of the US-backed opposition into its ranks. It calls for “the establishment of a transitional governing body exercising full executive powers, which could include members of the present Government and the opposition and other groups, and shall be formed on the basis of mutual consent.”

Far from ending the threat of war, these negotiations over Syria’s chemical weapons tie the Syrian conflict to a much broader, even tenser regional confrontation laid bare by the Syrian war scare—between the US and its allies, on the one hand, and Iran and Russia on the other. These countries are now pressing Syria to appease the United States, as they prepare for negotiations with Washington on a range of regional issues, most prominently Iran’s nuclear program.

The outcome of such negotiations is entirely uncertain, as Washington is poised to demand deep concessions not only on Iran’s nuclear program, but on its broader foreign policy and on Western ownership of portions of its oil industry. It is unclear whether the deeply divided Iranian regime can agree to such terms. Above all, they will face deep opposition in the Iranian working class, for whom they would spell deep social cuts and the re-establishment of US influence in Iran on a scale unseen since the 1979 Iranian Revolution toppled the US-backed Shah of Iran.

The Obama administration has repeatedly and consistently stated that all options are “on the table” should talks on Iran’s nuclear program fail, including the use of military force. Despite the talks on Syrian chemical weapons, the region remains on the verge of the type of major conflict that almost broke out earlier this month.

In an article for Iran’s state-run English-language media outlet Press TV, Zaher Mahruqi said, “Bashar al-Assad is an intelligent man who at the very least understands that betraying Russia and Iran, who have been supporting his efforts in the past two years, would be a serious mistake. Therefore, any big decision Syria makes has to have been consulted with its main backers and has been given some sort of guarantees that giving up chemical weapons is not as risky as it might appear, and that a credible backup plan is in place.”

Mahruqi suggested that Iran’s strategy is based on the expectation that Russia would intervene in a future US war with Syria, having already dispatched Russian warships to the Mediterranean to monitor NATO warships that stand ready to launch missile strikes on Syria.

“Syria will comply albeit at a calculated pace and will give America and Israel no legitimate pretext to attack it, and as such Russia will have no choice but to stand its ground. If an attack takes place, Russia’s response is likely to be far stronger than the recent showdown in the Mediterranean,” he wrote.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/syri-s28.html

Britain uses anti-terror powers to detain Yemeni activist

By Jordan Shilton 

28 September 2013

Baraa Shiban, a Yemeni activist who has campaigned against the use of drones, was detained by British authorities on Monday and questioned under anti-terror legislation.

Shiban’s detention comes just one month after police detained David Miranda, the partner of Guardianjournalist Glenn Greenwald, who collaborated with former National Security Agency whistle-blower Edward Snowden in exposing mass surveillance by US and UK spy agencies.

Miranda’s, and now Shiban’s detention confirms the increasing use of anti-terrorist legislation to target political opponents.

Shiban was detained at Gatwick airport by border agents under Schedule 7 of the Terrorism Act 2000, which permits the holding of an individual for up to nine hours without access to a lawyer. Shiban was held for over an hour, during which time he was questioned on his political views and activities. He was threatened with a longer period of detention if he did not cooperate by answering questions as to the nature of his political work in Yemen.

Shiban works for the legal charity Reprieve, which is based in London and campaigns for human rights and the rule of law. As head of the organisation’s operations in Yemen, he has led investigations into the impact of drone killings on civilians in that country, something which has become a regular occurrence under the Obama administration. The US government has stepped up its use of drones in Yemen, killing a US citizen, Anwar al-Alawki, in 2011. Shiban’s organisation supports the victims of drone attacks, including with legal proceedings.

According to a Guardian article, Reprieve had recently discovered evidence revealing the complicity of British authorities in US drone strikes in Yemen. Britain provided the intelligence and communications infrastructure to facilitate the attacks. Shiban was questioned on this by his interrogators, stating to the Guardian that he was told, “Your organisation has obviously been causing a lot of problems to your country. The relations between your government and the UK are vital for us.”

In a further exchange, he was asked, “What if your organisation did something bad to your government, and you are here because of the bad things your organisation has done to your government? I want to know, because the relations between Yemen and the UK are important. I want to know that your organisation is not disrupting that.”

The targeting of Shiban is an attempt by the UK government to intimidate all opposition to its imperialist military operations abroad in alliance with the US. To this end, all political opponents face being designated as terrorists in order to deny them the most basic legal and democratic rights. As Shiban put it in his Guardian piece, “Even we in Yemen heard of David Miranda’s nine hours in custody. Then I was stopped. Who will be the next human rights worker caught in the net of schedule 7?”

The extensive powers at the disposal of the state not only to detain individuals, but also to examine any of their possessions, were demonstrated by the detention of Miranda last month. Abetted by the courts, the police have been granted virtually unhindered access to his personal belongings on the grounds of “national security” considerations.

Miranda had been travelling back from Berlin to Brazil, and was carrying leaked documents on the UK’s intelligence operations. He faces the prospect of having criminal charges brought against him.

Following Shiban’s detention, Greenwald revealed internal US intelligence documents leaked by Snowden which illustrate the hostility with which opponents of the use of drones are viewed. In one of the documents, part of a posting on an internal web site, the authors list a series of “threats” to drone use, including weather conditions, air defence systems and electronic warfare. In addition, there is what the document refers to as “propaganda campaigns which target UAV (drone) use.” Any such activity is considered by the spy agencies as “adversary propaganda themes.”

The document contains a blunt justification for the undermining of basic legal principles by the Obama administration and its allies in the UK and other countries, above all on the right of due process. The intelligence document states, under the heading “nationality of target vs. due process,” that “Attacks against American and European persons who have become violent extremists are often criticized by propagandists, arguing that lethal action against these individuals deprives them of due process.”

As Greenwald states, “In the eyes of the US government, ‘due process’—the idea that the US government should not deprive people of life away from a battlefield without presenting evidence of guilt is no longer a basic staple of the American political system, but rather a malicious weapon of propagandists.”

In a related development, Greenwald reported on the case of Shahzad Akbar, a lawyer with Reprieve based in Pakistan who is currently suing the US government over its drone killings of civilians there. The Obama administration refused to grant Akbar a visa this week to enter the US, where the lawyer was to have testified before Congress on the US government’s drone programme.

The Reprieve activists were portrayed as supporters of terrorism. In his questioning by border agents, Shiban reported that he was accused of aiding terrorists because he had dared to criticise the “counterterrorism” operations of the western powers.

The presentation of opponents of drone strikes as supporters of terrorism is particularly dishonest, coming from the very governments who are not only committing terrorist acts by using drones, but also collaborating so intimately with terrorist groups with close links to Al Qaeda in a proxy war in Syria.

Evidence exists showing that British intelligence played a key role in fomenting the “rebels” in their war against the Assad regime. Although it was forced to temporarily pull back from a military strike, the US has stepped up its funding of these organisations, including by supplying arms.

Moreover, if the British and American authorities are suggesting that any opposition to drone strikes automatically equates to support for “terrorism” and places individuals in the “enemy” camp, this must be their view of the vast majority of the population. In a 2012 survey, the Pew research centre found that more than half of the population in 17 of the 20 countries surveyed was opposed to drone strikes. In Greece, 90 percent were opposed, in Egypt 89 percent, Jordan (85 percent), Turkey (81 percent), Spain (76 percent), Brazil (76 percent) and Japan (75 percent). Even in countries where support was higher, such as Britain, 47 percent of people still rejected drone killings.

The increasingly authoritarian methods being employed by the state against activists and human rights campaigners are ultimately aimed at the widespread opposition in the working class to their policies of imperialist war abroad and devastating social cuts at home.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/dete-s28.html

CSEC’s spying: What Canada’s elite don’t want the public to know

By Ed Patrick 

28 September 2013

Even as documents leaked by whistle-blower Edward Snowden continue to surface, further revealing the massive scope and scale of the US National Security Agency’s (NSA) surveillance of the world’s electronic communications, the Canadian political and media establishment have closed ranks and draped a cloak of deafening silence around the activities of Canada’s own NSA—the Communications Security Establishment Canada or CSEC.

The politicians and corporate media would have Canadians believe that they have only “moved on” from discussing CSEC’s activities because there is nothing for Canadians to worry about.

In fact, the elite’s silence about the CSEC is only the follow-up to the concerted disinformation campaign that Canada’s Conservative government mounted after the Globe and Mail revealed in early June that CSEC has been mining the metadata of Canadian electronic communications —including telephone and cell phone calls, e-mails, and text-messages—since at least 2005.

The corporate media and the opposition parties, including the trade union-supported New Democratic Party (NDP), abetted this cover-up, refusing to challenge the lies, half-truths, and obfuscation of the government.

Recently the NDP held several press conferences to discuss the issues it intends to raise in the coming parliamentary session. Not once did it make any reference to the undemocratic, clandestine operations of CSEC.

Government spokespeople, including the Defence Ministers responsible for overseeing CSEC’s operations, have sought to counter the evidence that CSEC is spying on Canadians by asserting that the agency is only concerned with “foreign threats”—no matter that it is specifically mandated to support the Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS), the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and other police agencies in countering “domestic subversion.”

Furthermore, the government has disingenuously implied that the CSEC’s activities are largely, if not almost exclusively, devoted to tapping into the communications of Islamist terrorists, such as Al Qaeda, in order to prevent terrorist attacks on Canadian soil.

In reality, the CSEC is a vital tool of the Canadian ruling class that plays an important role in the pursuit of its imperialist foreign policy and in the surveillance and suppression of opposition at home. The size of CSEC’s staff—it employs almost 2,000 people and a further thousand military personnel assist its work—give an inkling of the scale of its activities.

These include everything from supporting the overseas operations of the Canadian military, to spying on governments that are reputed allies of Canada and assisting CSIS and the RCMP in conducting a vast program of domestic surveillance. Of especial importance is the CSEC’s partnership with the NSA. According to former NSA technical director William Binney, the two organizations “have integrated personnel”—i.e. swap personnel to improve seamless collaboration. They also share Internet surveillance programs.

The extensive and intimate relationship between CSEC and NSA dates back to the end of the Second World War when they joined with the signals intelligence agencies of Britain, Australia and New Zealand to create the “Five Eyes” alliance. The group was created with the explicit purpose of sharing signals intelligence with each member taking on a part of the globe and Canada assuming the major responsibility–from the perspective of Cold War-era capitalism–of monitoring Russia.

These relationships continue unabated. For instance, the US agency shares information on Canadians’ communications with Canada’s national security apparatus in exchange for information that CSEC gathers on Americans. According to former Liberal Party MP Wayne Easter, who was Canada’s Solicitor-General from 2002 to 2003, the cabinet minister responsible for CSIS and the RCMP, it was “common” for the NSA “to pass on information about Canadians.”

At that time, Canada’s allied security agencies would scan global intelligence signals and would be “looking for key words on Canadians … and they’d give it to the Canadian agencies,” said Easter.

Easter’s comments are confirmed in some of the Edward Snowden-leaked documents on the NSA spying tool xKeyscore, which show multiple show headers that read  TOPSECRET/COMINT [Communications Intelligence]/REL [Relay] to USA, AUS, CAN, GBR, NZL .” Since almost all Canadian internet traffic passes through the United States–an email from Montreal or Toronto could pass through several American locations before being returned to Canada–Canadian communications are inevitably intercepted en masse by the NSA, which has no legal-constitutional restrictions on eavesdropping on Canadians. In response to direct questions on the subject, the Canadian government has systemically refused to deny that the NSA passes on information to Canada’s national-security apparatus.

As a further element of its collaboration with the Five Eyes alliance, CSEC was relied on in the project of spying on diplomats and officials during the 2009 London G20 meeting according to a report in the British newspaperThe Guardian, which was based on documents supplied by Snowden. The highly sensitive operation involved the penetration of delegates’ smartphones to monitor their email messages and calls.

This operation would be far from the first time that CSEC has spied on supposed allies. In the mid-1990s a former linguist for the organization, Jane Shorten, explained that since 1990 Canada had spied on Japan and South Korea for economic reasons. During this period, CSEC is also known to have monitored the Mexican government regarding the negotiation and ratification of the 1992 North American Free Trade Agreement between Canada, Mexico, and the United States.

Other documents leaked by Snowden point to the key role CSEC played in the NSA’s years-long efforts to crack encrypted data on the internet.

According to a recent New York Times story, CSEC had been tasked with working on the standards process for the International Organization for Standardization. During this time, the NSA “finessed” CSEC into handing over control of the standards process, allowing the US agency to construct a “backdoor” to secretly decrypt data that millions regarded as safe.

A classified NSA memo reads: “After some behind-the-scenes finessing with the head of the Canadian national delegation and with [CSEC], the stage was set for NSA to submit a rewrite of the draft … Eventually, NSA became the sole editor.”

When Maclean’s journalist Jesse Brown posed a direct question to CSEC on the content of the NSA memos, the agency’s Director of Public Affairs and Communications Andy McLaughlin only offered an obtuse response that avoided denying that CSEC assisted the NSA in its secret anti-encryption campaign.

If CSEC’s own propaganda is to be believed, a large part of its operations are directed towards tactical and other assistance to the Canadian Armed Forces. During the Canadian military’s most intense involvement in the occupation of Afghanistan, CSEC reportedly contributed intelligence in nearly every major battle or operation involving Canadian troops.

The 2002 Anti-Terrorism Act stipulates that the third of CSES’s three core mandates is “to provide technical and operational assistance to federal law enforcement agencies and security agencies”—most importantly CSIS, the RCMP, and the Canadian Border Agency (CBA).

The collaboration between CSIS and CSEC, which has effectively no parliamentary, let alone public, oversight (see http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/07/22/csec-j22.html), allows the Canadian state to ruthlessly pursue domestic groups and even private citizens who are perceived as threats to the predatory interests of the ruling elite. The rules that reputedly protect Canadians from CSEC surveillance fall-off when the CSEC is working with CSIS and the RCMP.

Moreover, CSEC has insisted and the government has endorsed in its ministerial directives to CSEC the anti-democratic claim that the meta-data of Canadians electronic communications is not constitutionally protected communication and therefore can be “mined”, i.e. collected and scrutinized, at will.

Documents released under freedom of information laws and published byThe Guardian show that the RCMP and CSIS are deliberately blurring the distinctions between “terrorism” and civil disobedience and other forms of peaceful protest, so as to justify widespread surveillance of anti-government groups. According to the Guardian, Canada’s national-security apparatus defines activities such as blocking roads and buildings as “forms of assault,” while everything from sit-ins to marches can be considered “threats” or “attacks.”

CSIS and the RCMP have employed this spurious catch-all definition of terrorism to justify surveillance of environmentalist groups, opponents of the Vancouver Olympic Games, the Idle No More movement, and the opposition to the 2010 Toronto G-20 summit. A secret RCMP intelligence assessment asserts that, “Multi-issue extremists and aboriginal extremists … have demonstrated the intent and capability to carry out attacks against critical infrastructure in Canada.”

“Security and police agencies have been increasingly conflating terrorism and extremism with peaceful citizens exercising their democratic rights to organise petitions, protest and question government policies,” explains Jeffery Monaghan of the Surveillance Studies Centre at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario

Under conditions of the greatest crisis of capitalism since the Great Depression and mounting popular anger over poverty, economic insecurity, and increasing social inequality, it is no rhetorical flourish to insist that the Canadian ruling elite views the mass of the Canadian population as a domestic threat.

As more and more Canadian workers and young people enter into direct conflict with big business and their political hirelings in mass demonstrations, strikes, and occupations, they must anticipate and politically prepare for the police state-apparatus that has been constructed in recent decades to be employed to criminalize and ruthlessly suppress opposition to the capitalist status quo.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/csec-s28.html

South Africa’s police concealed evidence, lied to cover up Marikana massacre

By Chris Marsden 

28 September 2013

South African police face accusations this week at the Marikana Commission of Inquiry that they doctored and concealed evidence in order to whitewash their massacre of striking miners.

The inquiry was set up by President Jacob Zuma of the African National Congress (ANC) after 34 miners were killed and 78 others wounded in a bloody assault by police at Lonmin’s Marikana Platinum Mine on August 16, 2012. The commission is also investigating the deaths of another 10 people, including two police officers and two security guards, in the preceding week.

Last week, it emerged that a computer hard drive belonging to an officer was not handed over in its entirety. Evidence leaders asked for a postponement of a week to go through files amounting to thousands of pages that were discovered on South African Police Service hard drives. They accused the SAPS of tampering with evidence and withholding documents that officers had said did not exist.

Police witness Lieutenant Colonel Duncan Scott was questioned about footage found in the recycle bin of his computer. Scott had been asked to say what pages of the plan supposedly used to disperse and arrest miners on the koppie near Marikana and then handed over to the Independent Police Investigative Directorate (IPID) last year were created later. The evidence leaders believe the documents were actually written at a nine-day meeting in Potchefstroom where the SAPS prepared its case ahead of the commission. Among the lies concocted there was a reversal of the order of speakers in a video of strike leaders to give the appearance that they called for an attack on the police.

Senior evidence leader, Advocate Geoff Budlender, accused the SAPS of concealing documents that should have been previously disclosed and of doctoring documents so that they could give the impression of being in chronological order when they were not. “Some documents have been added and some files we haven’t seen before,” Budlender said.

A statement issued September 19 said the documents showed that the SAPS version of events “is in material respects not the truth.”

“We do not make this statement lightly,” the statement continued. “We recognise that it is important that the SAPS should have the opportunity to explain the matters which have raised our concern. However, we have to say that … the material which we have found has serious consequences for the further conduct of the work of this commission.”

Among the police called to give evidence in addition to Scott is Brigadier Adriaan Calitz, who infamously gave the “engage, engage” order prior to the massacre. Video evidence presented to the inquiry shows him telling police officers the day after the shooting that the plan was executed “110 percent.”

The police response so far has been to stonewall. National Police Commissioner Riah Phiyega said a very unfortunate statement had been issued by the commission and, “Our lawyers are looking into that matter.”

Advocate Ishmael Semenya, representing the SAPS, has requested the evidence leaders to show on which documents they based their assertions that the “SAPS version of the events at Marikana, is in material respects not the truth,” and said the police would respond in writing at some unspecified time.

The allegations of evidence tampering are devastating for the police. They have already occasioned public expressions of public outrage.

Citizens4Marikana, an umbrella organisation formed on the first anniversary of the massacre and fighting for the rights of the miners injured and arrested during the shooting, said of the revelations, “The fact that the police, at the expense of the taxpayer, has for over a year deemed it appropriate to withhold evidence from the Commission is a clear indictment of the officers involved.”

Johan Burger, a senior researcher at the Institute for Security Studies, commented, “The police’s image is already in tatters. More and more people are looking at the police as dishonest.”

The media has reported that if the allegations were to be proved, Budlender would have the power to ask commission chairman, Judge Ian Farlam, to consider criminal charges. But it would be naïve to believe that the inquiry will ever bring the guilty to justice. The Marikana Commission is not a criminal court and can only make findings of fact and recommendations of how to avoid a similar outrage in future. Nothing it may issue is legally binding on President Zuma or South Africa’s Prosecuting Authority.

The next day, in response to these highly damaging developments, a statement was issued by the commission stressing that the views on police evidence expressed in a statement are not those of the Farlam Commission of Inquiry, but had contained the submissions made to the commission by Budlender.

Farlam said, “I think it appropriate to place on record these are at the moment only concerns.”

The Farlam inquiry was conceived from the outset as a means of channelling popular anger at the worst police atrocity committed since the end of Apartheid into a dead end.

Marikana happened because platinum miners disgusted by the constant betrayals of the National Union of Mineworkers struck out in wildcat action, with many joining the rival Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (AMCU). The massacre was the response of the NUM, the ANC and its governmental partners, the Congress of South African Trade Unions and the South African Communist Party, to what they saw as a challenge to their role as representatives and business partners of the mining corporations.

Cyril Ramaphosa sits on Lonmin’s board of directors, owns 9 percent of Marikana and a controlling stake in Lonmin’s Black Economic Empowerment partner, Incwala Resources, pocketing US$18 million a year. Prior to the massacre he sent emails to Lonmin executives calling for “concomitant action” against protests he described as “plainly dastardly criminal acts.” Four months later, he was elected as deputy leader of the ANC alongside Zuma.

Even as an inquiry was being prepared, a strike wave rocked the country’s extraction industries and civil war-type conditions were imposed in Rustenberg where Marikana is located. The 276 miners arrested by the police on the day of the massacre and in its aftermath were beaten and tortured.

Since then the Farlam inquiry has heard evidence, given month after month, at the end of which nothing will happen. As a result, the past months have seen repeated and angry protests against the authors of Marikana accompanied by bitter recriminations directed against the inquiry.

On the occasion of the anniversary of Marikana, the ANC North West announced it would not be participating in the commemoration. That day miners chanted, “How can we get rid of NUM?”

On September 11, Ramaphosa was heckled while speaking at the University of Witswatersrand, when he boasted that workers could now strike legally instead of being bussed away from industrial action. “They now get shot instead,” a protester shouted.

Particular anger has been generated by the refusal of the government to provide funding towards the legal expenses of the families of the 34 miners killed and those miners arrested and shot. The main counsel for the miners, Dali Mpofu, recently withdrew from the inquiry to spend time seeking funding. Other lawyers for the AMCU and some families withdrew in solidarity. This prompted an extraordinary ruling by Farlam that the inquiry could proceed as the absence of counsel would not be prejudicial to Mpofu’s clients.

In Pretoria on September 12, a protest march to the government seat at the Union Buildings was organised by Citizens4Marikana and backed by the main bourgeois opposition parties.

But even as the police were giving evidence to the inquiry, lawyers acting for Zuma and Justice Minister Jeff Radebe argued in the North Gauteng High Court in Pretoria for the dismissal of the application by the miners.

Advocate Marius Oosthuizen gave a clear description of the true character of the commission established by his clients. Legal aid was not mandated, he argued, because Zuma did not have to accept the commission’s findings or recommendations as it operated within the executive branch of government.

“For the applicants it is a simple comparison between poor ‘us’ and rich ‘them’ before the Marikana Commission, but that is an over-simplification”, he declared, adding, “Their own subjective perspective and the blatant attempts to gain the sympathy of the court are not a key to the national purse, which has been entrusted by the Constitution to the elected holders of high public office.”

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/mari-s28.html

Austria on the eve of parliamentary elections

By Marcus Salzmann 

28 September 2013

National parliamentary elections take place in Austria tomorrow. The Social Democrats (SPÖ) have governed in a coalition with the conservative Austrian Peoples’ Party (ÖVP) since 2007, first under Chancellor Alfred Gusenbauer, and since December 2008 under Werner Faymann (both SPÖ). Both parties could see their share of the vote drop below 50 percent for the first time since 1945. It is therefore questionable whether the grand coalition will be able to continue.

The Greens are expected to profit, having increased their support in regional elections this year. Currently they have representatives in five regional governments and are the strongest party in cities such as Salzburg, Innsbruck and Klagenfurt. In the latest polls their support stood at 16 percent.

Along with the Social Democrats, Conservatives and Greens, there are several explicitly right-wing parties that expect to surpass the 4 percent barrier for parliamentary representation.

Team Stronach is taking part in national elections for the first time. Its founder, Canadian-Austrian billionaire Peter Stronach, stands for a mixture of neo-liberal economics and right-wing populist rhetoric. Although the party was only founded a year ago, it already has five representatives in parliament. The 81-year-old Stronach won one SPÖ parliamentarian and four from the right-wing BZÖ to his party. Other deputies have reported that Stronach offered them large sums of money to join his party’s fraction.

Stronach is likely to take votes from the Austrian Freedom Party (FPÖ) and the Alliance for Austria’s Future (BZÖ). Both of these parties had ties with the right-wing populist Jörg Haidar. The FPÖ has stabilised in recent years and could become the third strongest group in parliament. The BZÖ, a split-off from the FPÖ, could, by contrast, find it difficult to surpass the 4 percent hurdle.

The right-wing liberal New Austria (NEOS) is another new party. Similar to the Five Star Movement of Beppe Grillo in Italy, it is standing against the “established cadre parties” and their “blind obedience”, and organises mainly over the Internet. Its chairman Matthias Stolz was previously active around the ÖVP. NEOS have also presented themselves as a liberal party. Along with calls for better education, the party stands for a reduction of pensions.

It is unclear if NEOS and the Pirate Party, which is also running, will make it into parliament.

Like the federal election in Germany, the programmes of the competing parties are very similar. They represent the interests of business and the privileged middle class, while the needs of workers, the unemployed, youth and pensioners find no expression.

In the election campaign, the established parties have formed a conspiracy of silence. Important issues have been left out. Instead, the television debates of the leading candidates gave the impression that coalition discussions had begun prematurely. The SPÖ and ÖVP exchanged compliments about their “successful” five years of cooperation.

By contrast, the European crisis, the massive debts of Austrian banks due to their investments in Eastern Europe and the war preparations against Syria did not feature in the public debate. Instead, much more time was spent discussing the demand by Stronach for the introduction of the death penalty for “serial killers.”

If the Social Democrats and Conservatives lose their current majority, almost any of the parties could form a coalition with each other. A coalition of the SPÖ and Greens, as in the capital Vienna, would be just as likely as a coalition between the ÖVP and extreme right-wing FPÖ, as there was from 2000 to 2007. A coalition of the SPÖ and BZÖ, which governed in the state of Kärnten for years, or an alliance between the ÖVP, Greens and Team Stronach, is also conceivable. The latter coalition has ruled Salzburg since the middle of this year.

The new government will differ clearly from its predecessors, regardless of its composition. It will sharply intensify the austerity policies of recent years. All parties are united on this issue.

“The country faces great challenges in austerity policy”, noted euractiv.de. It is the declared aim of the governing parties to eliminate the budget deficit by 2016, meaning massive spending cuts must be implemented.

The ÖVP and SPÖ have already announced an assault on pensions. Both parties argue that the retirement age in Austria is below the EU (European Union) average and that by lengthening the working life of the population by one year, €1 billion could be saved. Further cuts are also planned in education through the amalgamation of schools, in the budget for universities and in the health sector.

The example of the Hypo/Alpe/Adria bank makes clear where the money that is saved will be directed. To date, €3.1 billion of taxpayers’ money has flowed into the bank, which was saved from bankruptcy by an “emergency nationalisation” in 2009, having been formerly owned by the Bavarian state bank. There is no end in sight to the assistance required. At the beginning of September, the EU commission authorised up to a further €8.6 billion in state aid.

The FPÖ and its leader Heinz-Christian Strache have been relying on anti-immigrant and openly racist slogans. Strache is pictured on their election placards with the declaration, “Love your neighbours, for me that means us Austrians.” Like the FPÖ, the BZÖ argues against further assistance to Greece and other European states.

The governing parties are also encouraging anti-immigrant sentiments. Both parties have explicitly distanced themselves from the use of election material in the Turkish language, which had been produced by their own members with immigrant roots at their own initiative to support the campaign.

The ÖVP and SPÖ have dominated the Alpine republic for decades in close collaboration with the trade unions. One of the two parties has provided the head of government since 1945, and they have governed together in a grand coalition for a total of 38 years.

Their right-wing, anti-working class politics have undermined their status and created fertile ground for chauvinist parties of the extreme right. Above all since 2009, when the global economic crisis hit Austria and Eastern Europe, Chancellor Faymann adopted budget cuts and savings in social spending. At the same time, his government increased taxes that fell most heavily on those with low and middle incomes.

The Social Democrats suffered historic losses as a consequence. The Social Democratic stronghold of Vienna is a prime example. The SPÖ had governed alone for 16 years in the city where a quarter of all Austrians live. In 2010, support for the SPÖ dropped by 5 percent and they are now reliant on the backing of the Greens.

This is the only explanation for the strengthening of the far right. After their participation in government, the FPÖ lost all support and showed signs of breaking up. Due to the decline of the SPÖ, they have now been able to win back support. Stronach’s emergence on the political stage is also bound up with the rightward shift of the SPÖ, and the absence of any political alternative for broad sections of the population.

In spite of this, the Social Democrats and Peoples’ Party are striving for a continuation of their right-wing policies. Representatives of both parties welcomed the victory of Angela Merkel in Germany last Sunday. They drew parallels between their government’s policies and those of Merkel, explaining that Merkel had achieved victory by campaigning on the same issues as Austrian Chancellor Faymann and Vice Chancellor Michael Spindelegger.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/aust-s28.html

Australian “border protection” regime fuels dispute with Indonesia

By Peter Symonds 

28 September 2013

A diplomatic row has erupted between Indonesia and Australia over the punitive asylum seeker policy being implemented by the new Liberal-National Coalition government in Canberra. During the campaign for the September 7 election, the Coalition and Labor Party engaged in a reactionary bidding war over “border protection” policies to block refugees arriving in Australia by boat.

After less than two weeks in office, Prime Minister Tony Abbott is due to fly to Indonesia on Monday—his first overseas trip as government leader—amid sharp criticisms from Jakarta of Canberra’s plans to use the Australian navy to turn refugee boats back to Indonesia, buy up Indonesian fishing boats, and pay informants inside Indonesia.

Tensions flared publicly this week after Indonesian Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa met with his Australian counterpart Julie Bishop in New York on Monday. Following that meeting, Natalegawa declared that he had conveyed “loud and clear” to Bishop that Indonesia could not “accept any Australian policy that would, in nature, violate Indonesia’s sovereignty.”

When Bishop dismissed his comment as a misunderstanding, Natalegawa, normally a model of restraint, delivered what amounted to a diplomatic slap in the face. He released minutes of the private meeting, which confirmed that he had warned of a potential breach in relations. In the discussion, he declared that “unilateral steps by Australia may constitute a risk to the close cooperation and trust” built through previous multilateral negotiations.

Natalegawa’s comments reflect mounting anger in Jakarta over the Abbott government’s anti-refugee plans, which involve an expanding Australian air and naval presence in sensitive strategic waters between the two countries. The military character of Canberra’s plans, named Operation Sovereign Borders, was highlighted by installation of Australian army deputy chief Angus Campbell last week to oversee all related activities, military and civilian, including those of intelligence agencies, police, immigration and foreign affairs.

Last week, Mahfudz Siddiq, head of Indonesia’s parliamentary commission for foreign affairs, warned Canberra to “be more careful when it comes to another country’s sovereignty,” saying the issue could “damage the Indonesia-Australia bilateral relationship.” This week, Indonesian naval spokesman Major Andy Apriyanto called on Canberra to revise its policy, warning that lives could be lost if the Australian navy turned refugee boats “commonly in poor condition and overcapacity” back to Indonesia.

Former Australian foreign minister Alexander Downer fuelled the dispute on Thursday by criticising Natalegawa. Drawing an absurd equation between Australian warships and small privately-owned Indonesian fishing vessels, he declared: “Instead of a lot of pious rhetoric about the Australian government threatening their [Indonesian] sovereignty, their people, their boats, their crews are breaching our sovereignty.”

While both governments took steps yesterday to the lower the temperature, there is no doubt that next week’s meeting between Abbott and Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will be tense. Abbott dismissed the issue as a “passing irritant,” while Indonesia’s foreign ministry issued a statement saying that the publication of the Natalegawa-Bishop meeting minutes had been an unintentional error.

In today’s Australian, editor-at-large Paul Kelly criticised Natalegawa’s “extraordinarily inept decision” to release the minutes and insisted that Abbott could not back down on his refugee policy, but warned: “The future of Australia-Indonesia ties, perhaps for years, will be determined in Jakarta early next week. The stakes for Abbott are huge… This test overall goes to Abbott’s ability to be a successful PM.”

Successive Australian governments maintained the closest relations with the Suharto dictatorship before its fall in 1998, and subsequently with its successors. Canberra has forged close military ties, and relied on Jakarta as an advocate for Australian imperialist interests in South East Asia. In 1995, former Labor Prime Minister Paul Keating declared that “the emergence of President Suharto’s New Order government in the 1960s was the event of most positive strategic significance to Australia in the post-war years.” During the US-backed 1965–66 coup that brought Suharto to power, military-backed death squads slaughtered at least 500,000 workers, peasants and members of the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI).

Both Indonesia and Australia, facing increased economic instability and slowing growth rates, are looking to lay a framework next week to boost trade and investment. Abbott will be accompanied by a delegation of 20 business leaders, including the CEOs of major banks, construction companies and the Australian Agricultural Company, which is seeking to revive beef exports.

Yet the talks could unravel over the Australian refugee policy, which is bound up with wider strategic questions. As well as whipping up anti-refugee xenophobia at home, Coalition and Labor governments have exploited asylum seekers arriving on boats as a pretext to establish a substantial naval and air presence in waters off northern Australia. Under the guise of “border protection,” Australian military forces conduct extensive surveillance adjacent to key shipping lanes through South East Asia, including Indonesia’s Sunda and Lombok straits.

The strategic importance of such operations has been brought into sharper relief by the Obama administration’s aggressive “pivot” to Asia, aimed at undermining Chinese influence and interests throughout the region. The US is strengthening military alliances and building up its forces, including in Australia with the basing of US Marines in Darwin and greater use of Australian air and naval bases. A key aspect of the Pentagon’s war plans is the ability to mount an economic blockade by controlling sea lanes through South East Asia that China depends upon to import energy and raw materials from Africa and the Middle East.

Like its counterparts throughout the region, the Indonesian government has been attempting to balance between its economic dependence on trade with China and its longstanding military ties with the US. Jakarta is concerned that the Obama administration’s efforts to undercut China are fuelling regional disputes, including in the South China Sea. The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), which Indonesia has long regarded as a means to exert its regional influence, has become increasingly polarised.

These rising regional tensions have led to unease in Jakarta over the US military build-up in Australia and the threat posed to Indonesia by a confrontation between the US and China. In November 2011, Foreign Minister Natalegawa publicly warned that stationing US Marines in Darwin could “provoke reaction and counter reaction… a vicious cycle of mistrust and distrust” within the region.

While Australia-Indonesian relations were smoothed over, partly by inviting Indonesian troops to participate in joint exercises in Australia, the underlying distrust and concern remains, now compounded by the prospect of Australian warships escorting refugees boats back to Indonesian territorial waters. University of Melbourne law professor Tim Lindsay noted in the Australiantoday: “Apart from what happens on the seas, this issue goes to one of Indonesia’s greatest political sensitivities. Indonesia’s problem is that it has a weak air force and navy and it cannot actually defend its own borders and its own maritime boundaries.”

These sentiments were underlined by comments yesterday by Indonesian vice-presidential adviser Dewi Fortuna Anwar, who said the entry of the Australian navy into Indonesian waters would be “totally unacceptable.” She continued: “I can just imagine that the Indonesian navy will not take kindly to that. Let’s not be hypothetical about it. Any act by a foreign navy that infringes on a neighbouring country’s territorial waters… could cause incidents at sea.”

The diplomatic row over Australia’s refugee policy is another indication of the dangerous tensions being fanned throughout Asia by the Obama administration’s military build-up against China.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/indo-s28.html

China protests British and US interference in Hong Kong

By John Chan 

28 September 2013

A British government minister ignited a diplomatic firestorm on September 14 after he published an article in the South China Morning Post declaring that “Britain stands ready to support in any way we can” to hold the first direct election of Hong Kong’s chief executive in 2017. At present, a 1,200-men election committee, composed of the most powerful businesspeople and elite professionals handed-picked by Beijing, elects Hong Kong’s chief executive.

The comment by Hugo Swire, British Minister of State at the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, represents London’s attempt to exploit the issue of democratic rights in Hong Kong to put pressure on China. Beijing has been wary of the demand for direct elections of the head of the Hong Kong government and the Legislative Council fearing that it could become the focus for broader political and social discontent both in the former British colony and mainland China itself.

The Chinese foreign ministry immediately issued a protest, stating: “Hong Kong’s internal affairs will not brook any interference by outside forces.” Beijing’s representative in Hong Kong, Zhang Xiaoming, ruled out any public nomination of chief executive candidates for 2017, insisting that a “broadly representative nominating committee” must select them.

Leading opposition Democratic Party figures in Hong Kong, such as Martin Lee, welcomed the British statement. Lee insisted that Britain, as a signatory to the 1984 “Sino-British Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong,” under which Britain handed rule in China in 1997, had the right to raise concerns about Hong Kong.

Swire’s article has been seized on by the Chinese government, which recently accused the opposition parties of being tools of the US and UK governments. The Chinese state-run media pointed to British intelligence networks in Hong Kong, claiming that they penetrated deep into the political establishment and implying that opposition leaders could be agents.

Hong Kong’s official opposition suffered a blow recently when former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden fled to the territory after exposing the massive illegal Internet and phone surveillance on the American and world population. Snowden’s revelations expose the illusion cultivated by the Democrats that the US is the model of democracy. Leading oppositional figures were silent over Snowden’s stay in Hong Kong during June.

Beijing, which used the exposure of the NSA to counter US accusations of Chinese cyber warfare, gave the green light for Hong Kong authorities to release Snowden, ignoring US demands to arrest him. Just weeks later, in what appears to be a tit for tat, the Obama administration sent Clifford Hart as the new US general consul to Hong Kong. His first intervention was to make a provocative statement that he was looking forward to “genuine democratic suffrage” in the city.

Amid the current Sino-British row over Hong Kong, Hart declared on Tuesday at a lunch hosted by the American Chamber of Commerce that Washington supported Hong Kong’s progress toward universal suffrage. “The United States will always stand for our core democratic values,” he said. His speech came a month after Chinese Foreign Ministry Commissioner Song Zhe warned him to stay out of Hong Kong’s affairs.

Hart has spent years dealing with Taiwan, including as Director of Taiwan Coordination at the State Department under the administration of President George W. Bush.

The hawkish Chinese newspaper Global Times claims that Hart had long advocated a “Quiet Revolution” in Taiwan, promoting “democracy” as the basis to oppose any reunification with mainland China. The Global Timesaccused him of now making a similar push in Hong Kong, seeking to establish “a pro-US regime” without engaging in a “large-scale war.”

Hart’s appointment as the top US official in Hong Kong is part of Obama’s “rebalance to Asia” to undermine China’s position. As well as building up military alliances and partnerships in the region to encircle China, the US has encouraged disputes between China and its neighbours. However, Hart’s activities in Hong Kong are an obvious attempt to stir up dissent within Chinese territory.

Washington passed a United States-Hong Kong Policy Act in 1992 specifying that Hong Kong would continue to be treated as a separate entity from China after 1997. Concerns have emerged in China over “pro-independence” sentiment in Hong Kong, based on a supposedly unique history of British colonial rule and Cantonese language, against the predominantly Mandarin-speaking “mainlanders.”

Britain annexed Hong Kong via the Opium War in the early 1840s and the territory became one of its principal colonial outposts in Asia. Many Chinese capitalists and landlords fled to the territory after the 1949 Chinese Revolution. Behind the negotiations for its return to Chinese rule in the 1980s, Britain and the US calculated that it would encourage the restoration of capitalism in China. Under Deng Xiaoping’s “one country, two systems” formula, the enclave functioned as a gateway for foreign capital, transforming southern China into a cheap labour workshop for world capitalism.

The Basic Law, the city’s mini-constitution negotiated between London and Beijing, calls for eventual universal suffrage, but it has been repeatedly postponed. The Hong Kong tycoons have also grown ever wealthier by integrating themselves into the new Chinese bourgeoisie, giving the city the third highest number of billionaires in the world after New York and Moscow. Of the seven million residents, however, more than a million live under the poverty line, producing intense social tensions.

The opposition Democratic Party and its allies, which represent business layers marginalised by the wealthy pro-Beijing elite, have organised protests each July 1, the anniversary of the return to Chinese rule, in some cases involving hundreds of thousands of people. Next July, the opposition is planning an “Occupy Central” campaign in Hong Kong’s business centre as a means of pressuring Beijing to grant “one-man, one vote” in 2017.

Chan Kin-man of the Chinese University of Hong Kong told the New York Times in August that the “Occupy Central” campaign did not seek to “overthrow the government.” He insisted: “We just want a democratic system in Hong Kong. We are not interested in ending Communist rule in China.” Chan warned that Hong Kong could become “ungovernable” amid rising social tensions, as the unelected administration was widely viewed as illegitimate. Chan urged Beijing to allow elections quickly, saying “we are in deep trouble if we wait.”

Chan’s comments underscore the dilemma facing Beijing. If it makes concessions on universal suffrage in Hong Kong, the same demand will arise across China. The provocative intrusion of the US and Britain into the debate only compounds the intensifying political difficulties confronting Beijing in Hong Kong.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/hong-s28.html

Political issues in the struggle against the threat of fascism and dictatorship in Greece

28 September 2013

The murder last week of hip-hop musician Pavlos Fyssas by fascist thugs has intensified class tensions in Greece. Thousands have taken to the streets on a daily basis to demonstrate against fascist terror and government attacks on social programs, jobs, wages and pensions. The police have responded with violence, attacking demonstrations and protecting the offices of the fascist Golden Dawn organization. There are open discussions in ruling circles of a possible military coup.

Fascism and dictatorship can be prevented only if the working class intervenes into the crisis as a politically independent force on the basis of a genuinely democratic and socialist program. Only on the basis of such a program can the working class mobilize behind it all of the oppressed layers of society. Such a movement cannot permit itself to be subordinated to the state or the bourgeois parties, which ever more aggressively attack the democratic rights and social interests of the workers. It must link the struggle against dictatorship with resistance to social attacks and be directed against the capitalist system itself.

It is necessary to form self-defense committees in neighborhoods and factories to protect workers and immigrants from the fascist gangs and their police accomplices, and prepare strike action.

Golden Dawn, which denies the Holocaust and employs a modified swastika as its symbol, has been deliberately built up by the ruling class. Forces within the state apparatus, the political establishment and big business set up the party to spearhead the fight against the working class. Funded by layers of the super-rich, the party has established paramilitary units, trained by the Army and supported by the police.

The same circles are now discussing plans to establish a military dictatorship. On Wednesday, the Federation of Greek Reservist elite soldiers (KEED) demanded a government of “national necessity” under the “guarantee” of the armed forces. The demands of this association largely coincide with those of the Golden Dawn, including calls for the expulsion of all immigrants and the seizure of German assets in Greece.

The aim of such dictatorial measures is to suppress the continuing resistance by workers to austerity. Class struggles in Greece are reaching the point where the ruling class can no longer impose social attacks by traditional means. To implement the latest dictates of the “troika”—the European Union, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank—against workers’ opposition, the ruling elite increasingly relies on the army, police and fascist gangs.

Greece poses most starkly the question posed across Europe and internationally. Either the working class breaks politically from all sections of the bourgeoisie, intervenes independently in political life, expropriates the big banks and major corporations, and establishes a workers’ government, or the ruling class will reduce society to barbarism. The crucial question is now the independent mobilization of the working class in political struggle.

Opposing this perspective are the various pseudo-left groups, such as the Coalition of the Radical Left (SYRIZA) and the Communist Party (KKE). Together with the trade unions, they are sabotaging the struggles of workers and subordinating them to the state and the so-called “democratic” parties of the ruling class, chiefly the social democratic PASOK. By politically paralyzing the working class, they create favorable conditions for the most right-wing elements, using nationalist and pseudo-populist demagogy, to gain a hearing among desperate layers of the middle class and sections of the working class itself.

SYRIZA supports the European Union—the bankers’ conspiracy against the European working class—and presents itself as a force for “stability” in alliance with “democratic” forces in the ruling parties, including the right-wing New Democracy. It opposes any independent mobilization of the working class against the bourgeois parties and the system they defend. In this way, it lends its support to the brutal austerity measures directed against the working population.

It has responded to Fyssas’ murder and the subsequent mass protests by stepping up its efforts to present itself to the ruling elite as a reliable defender of the status quo, while seeking to politically disarm the working class in the face of ruling class preparations for dictatorship. At a recent meeting in Vienna, SYRIZA leader Alexis Tsipras declared that the armed forces and the police “are democratized and pose no threat to democracy.” A few days later, plans for a military coup and further evidence of the cooperation between Golden Dawn and the police came to light.

Calls for a state ban of Golden Dawn have essentially the same content. Such a ban would not weaken the fascists, but ultimately strengthen them. It would give the state apparatus, which is profoundly compromised by its relations with the neo-Nazis, greater powers to act against political organizations and against the working class.

SYRIZA’s main concern is to stabilize Greek capitalism and preserve its relations with the European Union. Tsipras recently called for an alliance against the fascists with the ruling New Democracy, which has innumerable links to Golden Dawn.

Similar policies are being advanced by the other pseudo-left organizations in Greece, which speak for the same privileged middle-class milieu and differ only on details. The Communist Party (KKE) seeks to stir up illusions that the trade unions can lead the fight against the fascists and calls for a “popular front”. The state capitalist SEK has joined the chorus of those demanding the banning of Golden Dawn.

All these groups speak for wealthy layers of the petty-bourgeoisie, such as the trade union bureaucracy, which fear an independent movement of workers far more than state repression and fascist terror. By sabotaging the struggles of workers and subordinating them to the state, however, they are paving the way for the rise of fascism.

The political mobilization of the working class against the threat of fascism and dictatorship requires a struggle to expose the reactionary role of the pseudo-left tendencies. This is essential for establishing the political independence of the working class from all sections of the bourgeoisie and developing the struggle for workers’ power and socialism.

Christoph Dreier

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/28/pers-s28.html

Chemical Weapons, Syria and American Exceptionalism

The Rogue Empire

By Elizabeth O’Shea

September 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House – It may be that we have inched back from the precipice of war in Syria, if for no other reason than a hefty gust of sheer luck. Russia’s intervention and neutralisation of the escalating tension between the US and the Assad regime has saved Obama from near certain defeat in Congress, with the UK government already rebuked and the Security Council never a viable option. The project was going soak up significant political capital for Obama and the well is nearly already dry. This political lacuna, or hopefully ongoing calm, presents a useful moment for reflection on the way war is propagated.

There are, of course, plenty of obvious and practical reasons to oppose a military intervention into Syria. The first is that we know so very little about the chemical weapons attacks of late August: how they transpired, who was responsible, even how many people died.  The UN has only made limited findings and declined to apportion blame. It appears to be very difficult to work out who was responsible – a task that is unlikely to get easier. It is reasonable to think that even if Assad’s regime was responsible, it may be that both sides have chemical weapon capabilities.

We know about such capabilities partly because Britain kept the receipts. It is true: such an allegation is probably more spin than substance – the origins of the weapons have not been identified and the chemicals exported could be used for other purposes. But the brazen hypocrisy of the West in claiming to uphold principles it happily profits from violating never ceases to amaze.

Moreover, for even the more pragmatic amongst us, the lesser of two evils here is not clear cut. A direct attack on the Assad regime would necessarily result in a military and political advantage to oppositional forces. The beneficiaries of such a move include some nefarious characters, with little regard for human life or dignity.

Indeed the only certainty that arising from a military intervention into Syria is that nothing would be certain. A ‘limited and tailored’ intervention is a thinly disguised Pandora ’s Box. No fly zones can easily become regime change, the distinction marked by grainy phone camera footage of the extrajudicial killing of Muammar Gaddafi. Libya is the perfectly instructive example, yet it has also been conveniently banished from the public consciousness. Two years after the imposition of a no fly zone in very similar circumstances, enforced militarily by the US and NATO, the country remains an economic, political and social disaster.

And yet this ahistorical approach to international affairs persists, which sees the conflict in binary terms of intervention and abstention, certain death and saving lives. It is so typical, so repetitive; the serious lack of imagination matched only by the gravity of the lethal project being proposed. The hawks circle, their hopes are still soaring well above the vigilance of doves. ‘At some point,’ they claim, ‘pacifism becomes part of the machinery of death, and isolationism becomes a form of genocide.’ Quite literally then, war is peace.

Yet despite these familiar refrains, the prospect of a war in Syria is in fact remarkably different to those of recent memory. The factual and rhetorical justification already feels far more flimsy, the political classes in a number of countries remain fractured on the question generally and the vast majority of everyday people are steadfastly opposed to intervention. This is undoubtedly a step forward.

What is also laid bare in breathtaking terms by the advocates for war is how little regard they have for basic liberal democratic values. The US treats international law with disdain: it is a set of rules that applies to everyone but never to itself. Cheerleaders for the diplomatic strategy that Obama appears to have stumbled into almost by accident seem oblivious to the criminality of such conduct. Article 2 of the UN Charter prohibits the ‘threat or use of force’ – threat, not just use – for all members, not just when such conduct is carried out by suspicious Middle Eastern dictators. The criminality of Obama’s diplomatic genius is barely noted.

The irony of such attitudes to international law intensifies in respect of chemical weapons. The situation in Syria, as Professor Chomsky has identified, is a perfect moment to call for a ban on all chemical weapons in the Middle East (let alone elsewhere). The chemical weapons convention, surely the starting point for any reasonable discussion on such an issue, remains persistently unratified by not only Syria, but crucially also Israel. So chemical weapons are not okay, unless it is our man in the Middle East who has them.

So the biggest barrier to ridding the Middle East of chemical weapons is not Syria or Russia, or even technically Israel, it is actually the US. That is not a rhetorical flourish, it is literally the outcome of a resolution proposed by Syria in 2003 when it was a non-permanent member of the Security Council, but ultimately abandoned at the threat of the US exercising its veto. American exceptionalism continues to justify even more American exceptionalism.

Anne Orford, writing on Libya, observed that ‘the bombing of Libya in the name of revolution may be legal, but the international law that authorises such action has surely lost its claim to be universal.’ In respect to Syria, we see this legacy gaining momentum. International law appears to have become something to be enforced but not abided by. This may seem grandiose, but the truth is hard to deny: one of the greatest menaces in the world today remains the US Government. The aspiration of peace, good governance and respect for human rights are regularly jeopardised by this ultimate rogue state.

Elizabeth O’Shea is a lawyer in Melbourne, Australia. – This article was originally published at Counterpunch

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36369.htm

End This Occupation!: Mahmoud Abbas

Video

Our people want to have freedom, God’s gift to humanity, and to enjoy the grace of living an ordinary life.

History teaches us – and it is the best teacher – that waging war, occupation, settlements and walls may provide temporary quiet and a momentary domination, but they certainly do not ensure real security nor guarantee a sustainable peace.

This is an official transcript of Mahmoud Abbas’s speech to the United Nations General Assembly today. PDF here. Abbas was introduced as president of the state of Palestine.

Mr. President of the General Assembly of the United Nations,

Excellencies,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

At the outset, I extend my congratulations to H.E. Mr. Vuk Jeremid on his outstandingly successful presidency of the previous session of the General Assembly, and I congratulate Mr. John Ashe upon his

assumption of this session’s Presidency and wish him all success.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am honored to address you today, and for the first time in the name of the State of Palestine, before the United Nations General Assembly, after your historic decision last 29 November to raise

Palestine’s status to that of an observer State. As representatives of your Governments and of your peoples, you have championed justice, right, and peace, and thereby affirmed your refusal of

occupation, and stood for principles and ethics and on the side of peoples yearning for freedom. For this, I present you again today with my deepest thanks and gratitude, in the name of Palestine and of its

people. The Palestinian people celebrated this resolution, because they rightly felt that they did not stand alone in the world, but that the world stands with them, and because they realized that the result of your overwhelming vote meant that justice is still possible and that there still is room for hope.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I assured you last year that our quest to raise Palestine’s status does not aim to delegitimize an existing State – Israel, but to consecrate the legitimacy of a State that must exist, which is Palestine. I have also affirmed in front of you that our quest does not aim to affect the peace process, nor is it a substitute for serious negotiations. To the contrary, our quest is supportive of the path of peace and has revived a comatose process. As we have repeatedly affirmed, and as we have proven in practice, the State of Palestine, which abides by the United Nations Charter, by international humanitarian law and by the resolutions of international legitimacy, will exercise its role and uphold its responsibilities in the intemational system in a positive and constructive manner, and in a way that reinforces peace.

A new round of negotiations began a few weeks ago thanks to the appreciated, tireless efforts of the President of the United States, Mr. Barack Obama, and of the US Secretary of State, Mr. John Kerry. I

affirm before you that we have begun these negotiations and that we shall continue them in good faith and with open minds, strong determination and an insistence on success. I assure you that we shall

respect all of our commitments and foster the most conducive atmosphere for the continuation of these negotiations in a serious, intensive manner and provide the guarantees for its success, aimed at reaching

a peace accord within nine months.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

As we engage in this new round of negotiations, we must recall and remind that we do not start in a vacuum or from point zero, nor are we lost in a labyrinth without a map, nor do we lack a compass so as to lose sight of the finish line and of the destination. The goal of peace that we seek is defined and the objective of these negotiations is clear to all, and the terms of reference, basis and foundations of the peace process and of the agreement we seek are longstanding and are within reach. As for the goal of peace, it is embodied in redressing the historic, unprecedented injustice that has befallen the Palestinian people in Al-Nakba of 1948, and the realization of a just peace, the fruits of which can be enjoyed by the Palestinian and Israeli peoples, as well as by all the peoples of our region.

The objective of the negotiations is to secure a lasting peace accord that leads immediately to the establishment of the independence of a fully sovereign State of Palestine, with East Jerusalem as its capital, on all of the Palestinian lands occupied in 1967, so that it may live in peace and security alongside the State of Israel, and the resolution of the plight of Palestine refugees in a just agreed upon solution, according to United Nations resolution 194, as called for by the Arab Peace Initiative. Here, we reaffirm that we refuse to enter into a vortex of a new interim agreement that becomes eternalized, or to enter into transitional arrangements that will become a fixed rule rather than an urgent exception. Our objective is to achieve a permanent and comprehensive agreement and a peace treaty between the States of Palestine and Israel that resolves all outstanding issues and answers all questions, which allows us to officially declare an end of conflict and claims.

The terms of reference and parameters of these negotiations, its goals, and the basis of the agreement we seek are found in your historic decision to raise Palestine’s status, as well as in the countless resolutions of this august body and the resolutions of the Security Council, and in those of the Arab League, of the European Union, of the Non-Aligned Movement, the African Union, and the Organization of Islamic Cooperation. In fact, over the years, these parameters have come to form an international consensus.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Twenty years ago, precisely on 13 September 1993, the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO), the sole and legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, signed with the Government of Israel a

Declaration of Principles Agreement (Oslo Accords), in the presence of our departed leader, Yasser Ararat, and Yitzhak Rabin, the late Israeli Prime Minister, and of former President Bill Clinton on the

White House lawn in Washington.

On 15 November 1988, the Palestinian National Council adopted our program for the achievement of peace, thereby taking an extremely difficult decision and making a historical and painful concession.

However, as representatives of the Palestinian people, we have long been aware of our responsibilities towards our people and had the necessary courage to accept a two-State solution: Palestine and Israel

on the borders of 4 June 1967, establishing a Palestinian State on 22% of the land of historic Palestine. Thus, we did our part to realize a historic settlement, uphold our obligations, and fulfill all that the

international community set as requirements from the Palestinian side in order to attain peace. At the same time that the PLO affirmed its choice of peace as a strategic option and of a solution resulting from negotiations, it firmly repudiated violence and affirmed an ethical, principled rejection of terrorism in all its forms, especially State terrorism, and affirmed our respect of international humanitarian law and United Nations resolutions. As a genuine historical breakthrough, the signature of the Oslo Accords caused an unprecedented political dynamism, fostered great hopes and generated high expectations. The PLO worked with dedication to implement it in order to end the occupation and to realize a just peace.

But after the passage of twenty years, the picture appears dispiriting and bleak, the great dreams shattered, and the goals more modest. As much as we felt in those days that peace was at hand, we realize today how far we are away from it. For the goal of the Accords was not achieved, its provisions not implemented, and its deadlines not respected. And, all the while, the continuation of intense settlement construction, which aims to change the facts on the ground in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, has violated the spirit of the agreement, struck at the core of the peace process, and caused a deep fracture in its cornerstone – that of the two-State solution.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The start of a new round of negotiations is good news, but it cannot be sufficient grounds for relaxing vigilance or give the international community an exaggerated sense of tranquility. The negotiations we are undertaking with the Israeli Government under the auspices of the United States require that the international community exert every effort to make them succeed, namely by international and regional organizations, as well as by individual States upholding the international consensus on the goal of peace, the objectives of the negotiations, the terms of reference and the basis for a permanent peace agreement. At the same time, the international community is asked to remain alert to condemn and stop any actions on the ground that would undermine negotiations – and I refer here, above all, to the continuation of settlement construction on our Palestinian land, particularly in Jerusalem. There is an international consensus – among the countries of the world, international and regional organizations and

the International Court of Justice – on the illegality and illegitimacy of these settlements. The position of the European Union with regard to settlement products is a positive model of what is possible to be

done in order to ensure an environment supportive of the negotiations and the peace process. At the same time, it is imperative that the near-daily attacks on the religious sites in Occupied Jerusalem, at the forefront of which is A1-Aqsa Mosque, where the continuation of such attacks will have dire consequences.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

History teaches us – and it is the best teacher – that waging war, occupation, settlements and walls may provide temporary quiet and a momentary domination, but they certainly do not ensure real security nor guarantee a sustainable peace. Such policies may create a specific reality on the ground, but they certainly do not create a right, nor do they provide legitimacy. Such policies may impose a weak stability, but they cannot prevent an inevitable explosion, because such polices in fact fuel inflamed situations to explosion. But above all, such policies are incapable of extinguishing the aspiration of a people for freedom and cannot eradicate their living memory or eradicate their narrative. Therefore, what is required is to heed the lesson of history, to abandon the mentality of force and occupation, to recognize the rights of others, and to deal on an equal footing and parity to make peace. What is required is to stop relying on exaggerated security pretexts and obsessions in order to consecrate occupation, and to stop contriving demands that push the conflict from its defined political terrain towards the abyss of religious conflict in a region burdened with such sensitivities – a matter that we categorically refuse.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am confident that the Israeli people want peace, and that its majority supports a two-State solution. We have always expressed our firm positions and have always explained them at the negotiations table

with the Israeli Government and in the meetings and contacts we have intensified in the recent years with a wide spectrum of actors in Israeli society. Our message stems from the idea that the two peoples, the Palestinian and the Israeli, are partners in the task of peacemaking. This is why we keep reaching out to the Israeli side saying: let us work to make the culture of peace reign, to tear down walls, to build bridges instead of walls, to open wide roads for connection and communication. Let us sow the seeds of good neighborliness. Let us envision another future that the children of Palestine and of Israel enjoy with peace and security, and where they can dream and realize their dreams, a future that allows Muslims, Christians and Jews to freely reach places of worship; and a future in which Israel will gain the recognition of 57 Arab and Muslim countries and where the States of Palestine and Israel will coexist in peace, in order to realize each people’s hopes for progress and prosperity.

Ladies and Gentlemen,

While we discuss the realization of peace between Palestine and Israel as an imperative to achieve a comprehensive peace between the Arab countries and Israel, according to the resolutions of the United

Nations; we bear in mind the current volatile reality and unprecedented dynamics gripping our region. Palestine does not interfere in the internal affairs of Arab countries, but we have clearly affirmed our

stance beside the demands of the peoples, their choices, and their peaceful popular movements to achieve these demands, along with the programs and roadmaps they have adopted to reach their goals.

Further, while we condemned the crime of the use of chemical weapons in Syria, we have affirmed our rejection of a military solution and the need to find a peaceful political solution to fulfill the aspirations

of the Syrian people.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The overwhelming majority of the Palestinian people were born in Palestine and in exile after the 1948 Al-Nakba. But after the passage of 65 years, they are still its direct victims. Since the start of this

year, 27 Palestinian citizens have been killed and 951 have been wounded by the bullets of the occupation, and 5000 fighters for freedom and peace are held captive in occupation prisons. So, does

anyone deserve more than the Palestinian people ending this occupation and realizing a just and immediate peace?

This year and in the last few years, Palestine refugees continue to pay – despite their neutrality – the price of conflict and instability in our region. Tens of thousands are forced to abandon their camps and

to flee in another exodus searching for new places of exile. So, is there anyone more deserving than the Palestinian people to obtain justice, like the rest of the peoples of the world? 4 Since the beginning of the year, construction continues on thousands of settlement units and construction tenders have been issued for thousands of others on our occupied land, while yet more, large areas of land are expropriated or declared off limits, and 850 homes and structures have been demolished.

Palestinians are forbidden from planting their own land and from using the majority of the area of our country. They are prevented from using the water of their own country to irrigate their crops. The

wall and checkpoints continue to tear apart the lives of the Palestinian people and to destroy the economy. The siege grows tighter, along with attacks and oppressive discriminating measures against

Occupied Jerusalem, its holy places and its citizens. In Gaza, an unjust blockade continues to be imposed on our people. So, is there anyone more deserving than the Palestinian people to gain freedom and independence now?

Since the beginning of the year, 708 terrorist attacks have been perpetrated by settlers against our mosques and churches, and against olive trees, farming fields and homes and property of Palestinians.

Is there any doubt in anyone’s mind that the Palestinian people are the most in need of security? Is there a nobler mission on the international community’s agenda than realizing just peace in the

land of the monotheistic faiths, the nativity of Jesus Christ – peace be upon him, the ascent of the Prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him, and the resting place of Abraham, the father of the prophets,

peace be upon him?

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The Palestinian people, as they continue to be steadfast on their land, also continue to build their institutions, to strengthen internal unity, to achieve reconciliation by returning to the ballot box, to wage peaceful, popular resistance to counter the oppression of occupation and settlements and settler terrorism, and continue to adhere to their rights. The Palestinian people do not want to remain “out of

place” in the words of Edward Said. Our people wait for a day when its cause ceases to be a fixed item on the agenda of the United Nations. Our people want to have freedom, God’s gift to humanity, and to

enjoy the grace of living an ordinary life. For we – as Mahmoud Darwish wrote – “cultivate hope”, and we “shall one day be what we want”: a free sovereign people on the land of the State of Palestine.

Mr. President,

I am personally one of the victims of Al-Nakba, among the hundreds of thousands of my people uprooted in 1948 from our beautiful world and thrown into exile. Like hundreds of thousands of Palestine refugees, I have known as a youth the pain of exile and the tragedy of the loss of loved ones in massacres and wars, and the difficulties of building a new life from zero. And we tasted in refugee  camps in exile the bitter taste of poverty, hunger, illness and humiliation, as well as rising to the challenge of affirming one’s identity. Our people have walked the path of armed revolution and rose from the ashes of Al-Nakba and collected the shards of its soul and its identity to present its cause to the world and consecrate the recognition of its rights. We have walked a long, difficult path and sacrificed dearly, and yet we

affirmed at all times our active quest for peacemaking.

I have signed, in the name of the PLO twenty years ago, the Declaration of Principles Agreement, and we have worked faithfully and diligently to implement it, affirming our respect for our commitments and the credibility of our positions. The successive setbacks did not shake our strong faith in the objective of a just peace, and we shall continue tirelessly and unwaveringly to see it realized. My own hope is to see the day where a just peace reigns so that the generation of Al-Nakba can pass on to its children and grandchildren the flag of an independent State of Palestine.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Time is running out, and the window of peace is narrowing and the opportunities are diminishing. The current round of negotiations appears to be a last chance to realize a just peace. Merely thinking of the catastrophic and frightening consequences of failure must compel the international community to intensify efforts to seize upon this chance.

Mr. President, Ladies and Gentlemen,

The hour of freedom for the Palestinian people has rung. The hour of the independence of Palestine has rung. The hour of peace has rung.

Threat Inflation 6.0: Does al-Shabab Really Threaten the U.S.?

By Stephen M. Walt 

September 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “FP” –  Sometimes you read a news story that brilliantly illuminates just what is wrong with the basic U.S. approach to national security these days. Case in point: today’s New York Times story headlined “U.S. Sees Direct Threat in Attack at Kenya Mall.” Of course we do. When was the last time something bad happened somewhere and the U.S. government didn’t see it as a threat?

The article goes on to describe how the FBI has already sent more than 20 agents to investigate the bombing, and it quotes various government officials and think-tank pundits about the need to respond lest al-Shabab (the Somali extremist group that conducted the attacks) turn its attention to America.

For instance, here’s former counterterrorism official Daniel Benjamin: “You never know when a terrorist attack in a faraway place could be a harbinger of something that could strike at the United States.” Of course, we also never know when such an attack is a harbinger of nothing at all. The article also quotes Katherine Zimmerman of the right-wing American Enterprise Institute: “One of the misconceptions is that we can let al Qaeda or other terrorist groups stay abroad and not fight them there, and that we would be safe at home.” The Times’ reporters adopt this same line themselves, writing that “the American government has learned the hard way what happens if it does not contain groups responsible for faraway attacks,” a point they illustrate by referring to al Qaeda’s attacks on the U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in the 1990s.

Got it? For Americans to be 100 percent safe on American soil, the U.S. government has to get more deeply involved in the local politics and national security problems of this troubled East African region — using the FBI, CIA, special operations forces, drones, whatever — in order to root out bad guys wherever they might be.

There are two obvious problems with this line of reasoning. First, it fails to ask whether America’s repeated interference in this and other parts of the world is one of the reasons groups like al Qaeda and al-Shabab sometimes decide to come after us. Indeed, to the extent that the United States might face a threat from al-Shabab, it might be because Washington has been blundering around in Somali politics since the early 1990s and usually making things worse. The same goes for Kenya too. Al-Shabab attacked the mall because Kenya sent troops into Somalia in 2011 and their intervention had undermined al-Shabab’s position in that troubled country. Kenya may have had its own good reasons for intervening; my point is simply that the tragic attack it suffered wasn’t a random act. On the contrary, it was a direct consequence of Kenya’s own policy decisions. To say that in no way justifies this heinous attack — it merely identifies cause and effect.

Ditto al Qaeda. Osama bin Laden didn’t get up one day and decide he wanted to launch a few terrorist attacks, pull out his atlas, and pick the United States at random. His decision to attack U.S. military forces and government installations, and then to attack the United States directly, was reprehensible and an obvious threat, but it didn’t come out of nowhere. On the contrary, the emergence of al Qaeda was a direct response to various aspects of America’s Middle East policy (e.g., blanket support for Israel, Egypt, and Saudi Arabia and the U.S. military presence in the Persian Gulf through the 1990s). As I’ve noted before, the United States has devoted most of its energy and effort since then to chasing down bad guys and killing them, but hardly any time trying to act in ways that would make the terrorists’ message less appealing to potential recruits.

So before we declare the Kenyan bombing a direct threat to the United States and get more directly involved in a set of regional dynamics that we don’t understand very well, we ought to ask ourselves if this will make the terrorism danger that we face worse or better.

The second problem is that the rather breathless language of the Times’ story exaggerates the actual danger. One cannot completely rule out the possibility that al-Shabab might try to send a few of the Americans it has recruited back to the United States, with orders to try something similar here. It is also possible — though unlikely — that they will succeed in doing something reprehensible, if not on the scale of the recent attack in Kenya. It would be bad if they succeeded — even in just a small way — or if other terrorists managed to shoot American tourists or business people over in Kenya. But is that possibility really so scary, especially relative to other dangers?

Back here in the United States, we’ve already seen several mass killings of innocent people in the past year: 27 slain in the Newtown school shooting and 12 killed in the recent Navy Yard attack. Here in Boston, there were 51 murders in 2012, and there have been more than 30 already this year. Nationwide, over 30,000 Americans are killed by guns each year (about two-thirds are suicides, but those deaths are still tragic and that still leaves more than 10,000 victims of gun violence). Yet there doesn’t seem to be a groundswell of public clamor to declare this obvious danger to American well-being a “national security threat” or to actually do anything about it.

I am not arguing for a retreat to Fortress America or saying that the United States should not devote some of its vast intelligence and national security budget to monitoring possible terrorist groups. But we really do need to ask ourselves if chasing every terrorist group that might have some reason to target the United States (or U.S. citizens abroad) is going to make the problem bigger or smaller. And that is especially the case when these groups emerged largely or entirely in response to local political developments, as was the case with al-Shabab. We have no reason to like such groups at all, but getting in their face is probably the best way to get them in ours.

As the Times article shows, the view expressed here doesn’t seem to be very common in the U.S. national security establishment, which never saw a threat that it didn’t want to go after (or exaggerate). But it would have been nice if the Times had found space for this view in its article on the subject, instead of making it sound like the U.S. government’s view is the only one worth hearing.

Stephen M. Walt is the Robert and Renée Belfer professor of international relations at Harvard University.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36363.htm

Cutting the Cord: Brazil’s Bold Plan to Combat the NSA

President Dilma Rousseff wants to route internet traffic away from the US, but experts say it will do little to deter American espionage

By Amar Toor

September 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Revelations about the American government’s ongoing electronic surveillance have sent shockwaves across the globe, but few countries have reacted as boldly as Brazil, where lawmakers are currently considering a plan to cut ties — quite literally — with the US.

Earlier this month, Brazilian president Dilma Rousseff announced plans to create an undersea fiber-optic cable that would funnel internet traffic between South America and Europe, bypassing the US entirely. Rousseff also urged legislators to pass an amendment that would force Google, Microsoft, and other US web companies to store data for Brazilian users on servers located within Brazil, while the country’s postal service has already begun developing an encrypted domestic email system.

The moves come as a direct response to allegations that the National Security Agency (NSA) has been eavesdropping on Rousseff’s phone calls and emails, according to classified documents leaked by whistleblower Edward Snowden. The reports, published earlier this year, have escalated diplomatic tensions between the Obama administration and Rousseff, who yesterday accused the US of violating international law in a scathing speech to the United Nations General Assembly.

Rousseff’s proposals rest upon the premise that by routing web traffic away from American soil and keeping data within Brazil, the Brazilian government could more easily control and secure citizens’ online information. But experts say the plans would do little to stop the NSA from spying on Brazilian communications, and some worry that they could lead to a more fractured internet.

“Just because you take steps to make it more difficult for the NSA doesn’t mean the NSA packs up their stuff and goes home,” says Christopher Soghoian, principal technologist and senior policy analyst at the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).

The majority of internet traffic to Central and South America flows through a single building in Miami, known as the Network Access Point of the Americas. Bypassing that route with a new cable would require years of work and billions of dollars, and likely would have little effect on NSA surveillance, Soghoian says. The US already has a nuclear submarine explicitly dedicated to tapping undersea internet cables, and has proven its ability to hack into the computer networks of foreign governments.

Forcing companies to store data locally would make it easier for Brazilian authorities to access information held by US-owned corporations, but Soghoian warns that it wouldn’t make things much harder for the NSA; because both companies are based in the US, American officials could still force Google or Facebook to hand over that data through subpoena or court order, regardless of where their servers are located. Brazil could implement encryption techniques to make it harder for the NSA to access emails, he notes, but the strongest measures could make it difficult for Brazilian authorities to access data, too.

“It’s not just about having servers in Brazil, it’s about storing data on servers that are not run by US companies,” Soghoian tells The Verge. “Unless you’re going to make it illegal to use Google, which would be a very high bar, you need to build domestic services that are equally compelling.”

Others acknowledge that Brazil’s plans may not completely safeguard the country from foreign surveillance, though routing traffic away from the US is still safer than sending it through Miami.

“You’re asking to lose if you send your data through the US in any way,” says Richard Stallman, founder of the GNU Project and Free Software Foundation. Stallman sees local storage requirements as a positive development, though he suggests Brazil could go further by prohibiting domestic companies and government agencies from remotely storing data on foreign-hosted computers.

“There is no surefire solution against spying, but that doesn’t mean it’s silly to even try.”

Brazilian officials say they have no plans to ban users from accessing US-owned sites, as China and Iran have, and there’s no sign that the country wants to wall itself off from the rest of the world. Still, some fear that Brazil’s plans to circumvent the US could result in a more fractured landscape that would impinge on the free flow of information.

“The real danger [from] the publicity about [NSA surveillance] is that other countries will begin to put very serious encryption – we use the term ‘Balkanization’ in general – to essentially split the internet and that the internet’s going to be much more country specific,” Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt said at an event in New York this month. “That would be a very bad thing, it would really break the way the internet works, and I think that’s what I worry about.”

Some leaders have already begun pushing for greater control over domestic networks. Russia, China, and some Middle East countries made headlines at last year’s World Conference on International Telecommunications (WCIT) in Dubai, calling for measures that would give countries greater sovereignty over their own networks. Activists worry that such proposals would make it easier for countries to repress online freedoms, though others see potential for a paradigm shift in Brazil — an emerging economic power that could shift the internet away from its American nucleus.

“This is potentially a major step for Brazil and hopefully more countries will follow,” says Geert Lovink, founding director of the Institute of Network Cultures research center in Amsterdam. In Lovink’s view, Rousseff’s proposals could offer a way to counteract the “dotcom-NGO-libertarian” doctrine that has sought to minimize state influence over the web — to the benefit of Google and other private sector companies.

“From a postcolonial perspective, we need to break open the old boys network consensus that has so far ‘governed’ the internet,” he explained in an email to The Verge.

It’s not clear whether Brazil’s efforts will encourage similar action from other nations, but her calls to action have been generally well received within Brazil.

“For many on the Brazilian left, the NSA program harkens back to the [1964–1985] military dictatorship and the US support that brought the military to power,” says Robert Muggah, research director at the Igarapé Institute, a Rio de Janeiro-based think-tank devoted to security and development. “Meanwhile, on the right, the suggestion that commercial and energy interests were being clandestinely monitored has inflamed economic nationalism.”

As Muggah argued in a recent piece for the Globe and Mail, Rousseff’s proposals are at least partially rooted in domestic politics. Her approval ratings plummeted after widespread protests broke out in Brazil this summer, and she is currently gearing up for next year’s presidential elections.

The NSA controversy has allowed Rousseff to shift the conversation away from Brazil’s social unrest, and she’s certainly seized upon the opportunity. Last week, Rousseff cancelled an October state dinner with President Obama — the first for a Brazilian president in nearly two decades — saying a state visit cannot occur without a “timely investigation” into the NSA’s practices. Last week, she urged Congress to vote on the legislation on domestic data centers — part of a broader “Internet Constitution” that includes a host of other privacy protections — within 45 days, describing it as an emergency measure.

There’s an economic component to Brazil’s plan, as well. The country has spent years nurturing a domestic information technology sector, protecting homegrown industries with high import tariffs and tax breaks. The policies have dramatically raised prices of smartphones and other electronics in Brazil, though they’ve also spawned thousands of startups and some major manufacturing plants. Friendly tax policies have lured global companies like Microsoft and Lenovo, while the government’s recently launched Startup Brasilprogram aims to lure foreign entrepreneurs with visas and seed money.

It’s not entirely surprising that the country would take a similar approach to the internet. As Bloomberg News reported last week, the NSA controversy may provide a boost to domestic telecom companies in particular, as the Brazilian government has begun working more closely to develop safeguards to protect national networks. The government is also considering a law that would require all Brazil-based phone companies to use domestically manufactured equipment.

Yet there are concerns that Rousseff’s political optics may obscure more substantive debates about international surveillance, and that whatever action the country takes may be too weak to effectively ward off American agencies.

“Cancelling a state visit is fine,” says Soghoian, the ACLU analyst. “But when your citizens are using unencrypted emails and unencrypted telephone calls, you’re not actually doing anything practical to stop the NSA.”

© 2013 Vox Media, Inc.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36371.htm

American Workers: Hanging on by the Skin of Their Teeth

By Mike Whitney

September 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House – After five years of Obama’s economic recovery, the American people are as gloomy as ever.  According to a Bloomberg National Poll that was released this week, fewer people “are optimistic about the job market” or “the housing market” or “anticipate improvement in the economy’s strength over the next year.” Also, only 38 percent think that President Obama is doing enough “to make people feel more economically secure.”  Worst of all,  Bloomberg pollsters found that 68 percent of interviewees thought the country was  “headed in the wrong direction”.

So why is everyone so miserable?  Are things really that bad or have we turned into a nation of crybabies?

The reason people are so pessimistic is because the economy is still in the doldrums and no one’s doing anything about it. That’s it in a nutshell. Survey after survey have shown that what people really care about is jobs, but no one in Washington is listening. In fact, jobs aren’t even on Obama’s radar.  Just look at his record. He’s worse than any president in modern times. Take a look at this graph.

More than 600,000 good-paying public sector jobs have been slashed during Obama’s tenure as president. That’s worse than Bush, worse than Clinton, worse than Reagan, worse than anyone, except maybe Hoover. Is that Obama’s goal, to one-up Herbert Hoover?

Obama has done everything he could to make the lives of working people as wretched as possible.  Do you remember the Card Check sellout or the Wisconsin “flyover” when Governor Scott Walker was eviscerating collective bargaining rights for public sector unions and Obama blew kisses from Airforce One on his way to a campaign speech in Minnesota?  Nice touch, Barry. Or what about the “Job’s Czar” fiasco, when Obama appointed GE’s outsourcing mandarin Jeffrey Immelt to the new position just in time for GE to lay off another 950 workers at their locomotive plant in Pennsylvania.  That’s tells you what Obama really thinks about labor.

What Obama cares about is trimming the deficits and keeping Wall Street happy. That’s it.  But the people who elected him don’t want him to cut the deficits, because cutting the deficits prolongs the slump and costs jobs. What they want is more stimulus, so people can find work, feed their families, and have some basic security. That’s what they want, but they’re not going to get it from Obama because he doesn’t work for them. He works for the stuffed shirts who flank him on the golf course at Martha’s Vineyard or the big shots who chow down with him at  his $100,000-per-plate campaign jamborees. That’s his real constituency.  Everyone else can take a flying fu** for all he cares.

Then there’s the Fed. Most people don’t think the Fed’s goofy programs work at all. They think it’s all a big ruse. They think Bernanke is just printing money and giving it to his criminal friends on Wall Street (which he is, of course.) Have you seen this in the New York Times:

“Only one in three Americans has confidence in the Federal Reserve’s ability to promote economic growth, while little more than a third think the Fed is spinning its wheels, according to a New York Times/CBS News poll….

The Fed has been trying for five years to speed the nation’s recovery from the Great Recession by reducing borrowing costs to the lowest levels on record….

Most Americans, it would appear, remain either unaware or unpersuaded.” (“Majority of Americans Doubt Benefits of Fed Stimulus“, New York Times)

“Unpersuaded”? Are you kidding me? Most Americans think they’re getting fleeced; unpersuaded has nothing to do with it.  They’re not taken in by the QE-mumbo jumbo. They may not grasp the finer-points, but they get the gist of it, which is that the Fed has run up a big $3 trillion bill every penny of which has gone to chiseling shysters on Wall Street. They get that! Everyone gets that! Sure, if you want to get into the weeds about POMO or the byzantine aspects of the asset-purchase program, you might detect a bit of confusion, but –I assure you–the average Joe knows what’s going on. He knows all this quantitative jabberwocky is pure bunkum and that he’s getting schtooped bigtime. You don’t need a sheepskin from Princeton to know when you’ve been had.

And that’s why everyone is so pessimistic, because they know that the Fed, the administration and the media are all lying to them 24-7. That’s why–as Bloomberg discovered–”Americans are losing faith in the nation’s economic recovery.” Because they don’t see any recovery. As far as they’re concerned, the economy is still in recession. After all, they’re still underwater on their mortgages, Grandpa Jack just took a job at a fast-food joint to pay for his wife’s heart medication, and junior is camped out in the basement until he can get a handle on his $45,000 heap of college loans. So where’s the recovery?

Nobody needs Bloomberg to point out how grim things are for the ordinary people. They see it firsthand every damn day.

Did you catch the news on Wal-Mart this week? It’s another story that helps explain why everyone’s so down-in-the-mouth. Here’s what happened:  Wal-Mart’s stock tanked shortly after they announced that their “inventory growth …had outstripped sales gains in the second quarter…. Merchandise has been piling up because consumers have been spending less freely than Wal-Mart projected….” (Bloomberg)

Okay, so the video games and Barbie dolls are piling up to the rafters because part-time wage slaves who typically shop at Wal-Mart  are too broke to buy anything but the basic necessities. Is that what we’re hearing?

Indeed. “We are managing our inventory appropriately,” David Tovar, a Wal-Mart spokesman, said today in a telephone interview. “We feel good about our inventory position.”

Sure, you do, Dave. Here’s more from Bloomberg:

“US. chains are already bracing for a tough holiday season, when sales are projected to rise 2.4 percent, the smallest gain since 2009, according to ShopperTrak, a Chicago-based firm. Wal-Mart cut its annual profit forecast after same-store sales fell 0.3 percent in the second quarter. …

Wal-Mart’s order pullback is affecting suppliers in various categories, including general merchandise and apparel, said the supplier, who has worked with Wal-Mart for almost two decades and asked not to be named to protect his relationship with the company. He said he couldn’t recall the retailer ever planning ordering reductions two quarters in advance.” (“Wal-Mart Cutting Orders as Unsold Merchandise Piles Up”, Bloomberg

So we’re back to 2009?

Looks like it. When the nation’s biggest retailer starts trimming its sails, it ripples through the whole industry. It means softer demand, shorter hours, and more layoffs. Get ready for a lean Christmas.

The Walmart story just shows that people are at the end of their rope. For the most part, these are the working poor, the people the Democratic Party threw overboard a couple decades ago when they decided to hop in bed with Wall Street. Now their hardscrabble existence is becoming unbearable; they can’t even scrape together enough cash to shop the discount stores. That means we’re about one step from becoming a nation of dumpster divers.   Don’t believe it? Then check out this clip from CNN Money:

“Roughly three-quarters of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck, with little to no emergency savings, according to a survey released by Bankrate.com Monday.  Fewer than one in four Americans have enough money in their savings account to cover at least six months of expenses, enough to help cushion the blow of a job loss, medical emergency or some other unexpected event, according to the survey of 1,000 adults. Meanwhile, 50% of those surveyed have less than a three-month cushion and 27% had no savings at all..

Last week, online lender CashNetUSA said 22% of the 1,000 people it recently surveyed had less than $100 in savings to cover an emergency, while 46% had less than $800. After paying debts and taking care of housing, car and child care-related expenses, the respondents said there just isn’t enough money left over for saving more.” (“76% of Americans are living paycheck-to-paycheck“, CNN Money)

Savings? What’s that? Do you really think people can save money on $30,000 or $40,000 a year feeding a family of four?

Dream on. Even an unexpected trip to the vet with pet Fido is enough to push the family budget into the red for months to come. Savings? Don’t make me laugh.

The truth is, most people are hanging on by the skin of their teeth.  They can’t make ends meet on their crappy wages and they’re too broke to quit. There’s no way out. It’s obvious in all the data. And it’s hurting the economy, too, because spending drives growth, but  you can’t spend when you’re busted. Economist Stephen Roach made a good point in a recent article at Project Syndicate. He said, “In the 22 quarters since early 2008, real personal-consumption expenditure, which accounts for about 70% of US GDP, has grown at an average annual rate of just 1.1%, easily the weakest period of consumer demand in the post-World War II era.” (It’s also a) “massive slowdown from the pre-crisis pace of 3.6% annual real consumption growth from 1996 to 2007.” (“Occupy QE“, Stephen S. Roach, Project Syndicate)

So the economy is getting hammered because consumption is down. And working people are getting hammered because jobs are scarce and wages are flat. But we live in the richest country in the world, right?

Right. So what’s wrong with this picture?

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. Whitney’s story on declining wages for working class Americans appears in the June issue of CounterPunch magazine. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36370.htm

President al-Assad interview with TeleSUR TV

Video and Transcript

US Policy Has Been Based on Lies Since the Beginning

Damascus, SANA – President Bashar al-Assad gave an interview to Latin America TeleSUR TV channel.

Posted September 27, 2013

Following is the full text of the interview:

TeleSUR: Welcome TeleSUR viewers to this special program covering the events in Syria. Our distinguished guest has managed to capture the attention of the whole world – President Bashar al-Assad. Mr. President, thank you for giving this interview to TeleSUR, which we hope will provide an opportunity for our viewers in Latin America to understand your perspective and your views. Welcome to the program.

President Assad: I would like to welcome you and TeleSUR in Syria and to extend my good wishes to you on your recovery from your leg injury. I believe that my interview with a journalist who has witnessed terrorism first hand will be pragmatic and rich. Once again, I welcome you as a journalist whose blood has been mixed with the blood of soldiers from the Syrian Arab Army.

TeleSUR: Thank you. Indeed, there are many common factors between us, including this blood. You mentioned terrorism – a car bomb exploded in Damascus yesterday, killing and injuring many civilians. What is the terrorist’s message particularly in these circumstances facing Syria and the world? And how do you see the current efforts to confront terrorism in Syria?

President Assad: These terrorists have only one message, which is the dark ideology they carry in their minds; for them, all those who do not think like them do not deserve to live. Every so often, they carry out these acts of terror to either attract people to their cause or to frustrate them. In other words, they want people to lose hope – and when you lose hope, life has no meaning. So in one way or another you become closer to them. From another perspective, these terrorist operations are financed, planned and instigated by people outside Syria with the aim of pushing Syrians towards complete despair, making them believe that there is no hope in their homeland and that the Syria which has existed for centuries no longer exists. Loss of hope pushes people towards defeat, which in turn makes them stop defending their country. What you saw yesterday was only one of hundreds of attempts in that direction; in fact they have all had the opposite effect – Syrians today are more committed than ever before to defending their country.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis the US policy has been based on lies

TeleSUR: Mr. President, yesterday we heard US President Barack Obama speech reflecting on what the United States has done in different parts of the world, he spoke specifically about the situation in Syria; Syria was also a major issue at the United Nations. President Obama, more or less agreed on the need for a political solution in Syria, however, he called on the United Nations or the Security Council to pass a tough resolution against Syria and against your government if you do not continue to fulfill requirements of the chemical weapons agreement. He also stressed that, as far as the United States is concerned, your government was responsible for the chemical weapons attack against civilians.

President Assad: His speech yesterday was more of the same – full of allegations based on fabrications and lies. In general, most statements made by American officials, whether in the current or previous administrations, do not have the least bit of credibility. Their statements are often similar and repetitive, and as such we do not feel it is necessary to comment.

Since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, American policy, whether knowingly or unknowingly, has been based on lies. I believe that they were aware of most of these lies, which increased in intensity, and the administration played a direct role in these fabrications after the chemical weapons issue was raised on August 21st. The administration has not provided any evidence to support its claims, which implies that it was lying to the American people. From the beginning, we challenged them to present their evidence, which they didn’t; when they failed to convince the American people of their allegations, they couldn’t retreat and so became more determined.

As for their talk about invoking Chapter Seven, this does not concern us in Syria. First since independence, it is well known that Syria has always committed to all agreements it signs. Second, today there is balance in the Security Council which prevents the United States – as was the case in the past, from using the Security Council as an instrument to achieve its special agendas, including toppling regimes and destroying states as was the case in 1990s. As I said, these American allegations are nonsense and have no realistic or logical foundation.

The actions of the US, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests

TeleSUR: Back to President Obama’s speech, we saw that he was confused and didn’t know what he wanted. Sometimes he speaks about the use of force and sometimes he speaks about a political solution. He says that the Israeli aggression against Syria is in defense of American interests in the region. What are America’s interests in the region, and what is it looking for in Syria? Taking into account what’s happening at the Security Council concerning Syria, are you able to rule out an American aggression against Syria?

President Assad: With regards to the contradiction you mentioned, this has become the hallmark of every statement made by every American official, be it the President, his Secretary of State or others. For instance, they say that Syria’s military capabilities do not pose any concern to the American army should it decide to carry out any military action or aggression against Syria; however, at the same time, they say that Syria is a threat to American national security. This is just one of many examples in this regard.

As for the possibility of an American aggression, if you look back at the wars waged by the United States and American policies – at least since the early 1950s, you find that it has always been a policy of one aggression after another – starting with Korea, then Vietnam, Lebanon, Somalia, Afghanistan and Iraq; this is the American policy. We also cannot forget American policy in South America where it instigated military coups and caused the deaths of millions; tens of governments were toppled as a result of American policy. For decades this has been their policy, which continues today – unchanged, it is also unlikely to change in light of the current American domestic situation. So the possibility of aggression is always there, this time the pretext is chemical weapons, next time it will be something else.

The more important element in all of this is that for decades, the United States has been superseding the Security Council, superseding the UN Charter, superseding the sovereignty of states and superseding all human and moral conventions. So, maybe all of us in the world need to keep this possibility in our minds – and this what we are doing in Syria. Is there a possibility of aggression? It might not be now, but nobody knows when it could happen. It remains a possibility, and we shouldn’t rule it out.

As for the interests of the United States, I believe that for decades, the actions of the United States, through wars and interventions, completely contradict their interests. It is a superpower and as such has political, economic, military and other interests. It can achieve these interests through mutual respect, good relations, trust, credibility and promoting science and knowledge instead of spreading terrorism, destruction and fear. There’s no doubt that as a superpower it has interests. Most of the big powers have interests around the world, but these interests need to be based on achieving stability in the world first. You cannot have any interests in an unstable region full of wars and terrorism. So yes, it has interests, but everything the United States is doing and all its policies, contradict its interests and the interests of the American people.

Violence destroys any chance for political action

TeleSUR: As Your Excellency said, the speech of the American President is in line with this great degree of contradiction, which characterizes the American empire. Yesterday he talked about a political and peaceful solution for the Syrian crisis; nevertheless he left the door open for you to step down. He literally said that the time has come for Russia and Iran to know that President Assad remaining in power means giving extremist groups a wider space to step up their activities. What do you think of what Obama said, and do you consider it likely that you will step down?

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President Assad: As for your first point, this is another example of American contradictions; it’s like saying that we are seeking war and peace on the same issue and we are using the same roadmap to resolve the matter. This logic means promoting violence in the world and legitimizing violence as a means to reach a political solution. This is illogical. There is nothing in common between violence and political action. Violence destroys any chance for political action. We reject this logic, which the United States has recently tried to promote in order to justify aggression on Syria.

As to the question of stepping down, American officials – or some of their European allies, have been raising this issue for over a year. It doesn’t concern us for a simple reason: Syria has been independent for generations – for more than five decades, the United States has not toppled a president in Syria and has not brought any official to a position of power. So the United States cannot presume now that it has the right to decide, on behalf of the Syrian people who is in power and who isn’t. This issue is decided upon one hundred percent by the wishes of the Syrian people; even friendly countries have no say in this matter. This is determined by the desires of the Syrian people, which are solely expressed through the ballot box. When the Syrian people don’t want you, you should leave immediately; and the opposite is true. Regardless of what the United States says or does in this regard, it has no role whatsoever. That’s why these statements are of no significance to us.

The world is better when the United States stops interfering

TeleSUR: Let’s finish this discussion about Obama with what he said: “the world is better now thanks to the United States.” How do you think that the world is better thanks to the United States?

President Assad: Let’s talk about facts. Has Iraq become better with the American presence? Has Afghanistan become better? Is the situation in Libya better? Is the situation in Tunisia better? Is the situation in Syria better? In which country is the situation better? Was Vietnam better when the Americans interfered or when it was left alone to become independent and develop on its own? Look at the situation in South America: is it better now or when the United States used to interfere? The truth is that the world is better when the United States stops interfering – we don’t want it to help anyone. He (Obama) said yesterday “we cannot solve the problems of the whole world” – well, I say that it is better if the United States does not solve the problems of the world. In every place it tried to do something, the situation went from bad to worse. What we want from the United States is for it not to interfere in the affairs of other countries, then, the world will certainly be better.

However, if he meant that the spread of terrorism everywhere is better, this confirms what some Americans are saying in the American media – that the Obama policy is based on supporting extremism and terrorism. If this is the case, then what he said in this regard was accurate – that the world is better because of the spread of terrorism throughout the world.

The Iranian position towards the Syrian crisis is very objective

TeleSUR: Did you found anything new in Obama’s position towards President Rohani when he quoted President Rohani as saying that there is no military solution to the Syrian crisis, and that the chemical weapons were passed to the armed groups fighting in Syria by Western countries? And how do you see President Rohani’s position when he calls for the cessation of financing and arming of the opposition?

President Assad: The Iranian position towards the Syrian crisis is very objective because they know the reality of what is happening in Syria. At the same time, they understand that this is one region, and consequently if there is a fire in Syria, it is bound to spread to neighboring countries and later to countries further away, including Iran. Iran bases its policies on these foundations and also on the grounds that it is the Syrian people’s right to solve their own problems.

As to American remarks on the Iranian position: first, as I said before, regardless of whether American statements are positive or negative, whether they praise, criticize, condemn or denounce – nobody believes them. In the same token, the Iranians are not naive to be deceived by the American position; Iran’s experience is similar to Syria’s experience with successive American administrations, at least since the Islamic Revolution in Iran. That’s why what concerns us is not the American remarks, what is important for us is the essence of Iranian policy towards Syria; and once again I stress that in essence it is objective and achieves stability for our region, if different parties in Syria have adopted the Iranian vision.

TeleSUR: In fact, in Iranian statements at the United Nations, there was a proposal about Iran’s relations with the United States to the effect that a meeting will be held between the Iranian president and the American administration. Such meetings have not taken place for a long time. How do you see the rapprochement? Is the United States really engaging Iran, or is it just an attempt to push Syria’s friends away from it? Or is this position another way of saying that the United States has no choice but negotiations rather than the use of force to protect its interests?

President Assad: First, unfortunately even the United States’ closest allies do not trust them; so the Iranian-American rapprochement does not mean that Iran trusts the United States. Our relations with the United States have been through various stages of ups and downs, but trust has never existed at any of these stages. However, in politics, you need to try all methods and means and to knock on all doors in order to reduce tension in the world. So, communication and dialogue are necessary in relations between states. We believe that the rapprochement between Iran and the United States, whether regarding the Iranian nuclear program or regarding anything else, is positive and good for the region, if the United States has a real and genuine desire to deal with mutual respect with Iran, not to interfere in its domestic affairs, and not to prevent it from acquiring nuclear technology.

On the other hand, I can’t imagine that the United States has abandoned its principle of resorting to military force. I think the opposite is true; when the United States saw that it had competitors on the international arena – or let’s say partners, if not competitors, in the form of great and emerging powers in the world, – it started to resort more to the principle of force, although this same administration was elected on the basis of rejecting the Bush doctrine of using force; now, it returns to the same doctrine. I believe that they are trying to co-opt the Iranian position as they tried to do with Syria a few years ago, but the Iranians are fully aware of this game.

TeleSUR: Mr. President, going back to Syria and the chemical weapons issue. What are the real guarantees provided by your government that the list you submitted on your chemical arsenal is truly representative of the weapons you possess? And what are the guarantees you provide to the UN investigators in order that they do their job, inspect the sites and put the chemical weapons under international control?

President Assad: Our relationship on this issue will be with the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW). Syria is not required to provide guarantees to the world or to the organization, it is required to deal with specific mechanisms or to abide by specific mechanisms stipulated in the chemical weapons convention. And as I said before, Syria is committed to all agreements it signs.

Syria has recently sent the required data to the OPCW. Shortly, OPCW’s experts will visit Syria to familiarize themselves with the status of these weapons. As a government, we do not have any serious obstacles. However, there is always the possibility that the terrorists will obstruct the work of the investigators in order to prevent them from reaching the identified sites, either because they have their own motives or because they are acting on instructions from the states that support and finance them. Either way, we expect that their objective is to blame the Syrian government for not cooperating with the investigators. But as far as we are concerned as a government, we have no problem with agreeing to the mechanisms provided by in this agreement.

 It was the Syrian government who invited the investigators to come to Syria last March

TeleSUR: The international investigators will return to Damascus today to identify other places where there were allegations that chemical weapons were used, in addition to the August 21st incident. What are your government’s guarantees that the investigators will do their job freely and independently?

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President Assad: This group hasn’t come to Syria on the initiative of the United Nations or any other country. It was the Syrian government who invited the investigators to come to Syria last March, when the terrorists used toxic gases in an Aleppo suburb in the north. In fact, it was the United States that created obstacles in order to prevent them from coming. We invited them, since we have an interest in their visit in order to determine the truth about the use of chemical agents in Syria. So, it is illogical for us to invite them and create obstacles to prevent them from doing their work. Even when the mission left Syria a few weeks ago, we had wanted them to complete their visits to the areas where chemical weapons had allegedly been used; it was the United States that insisted on them leaving before they had completed their mission. Now that they have returned, the Syrian government certainly supports their mission. And as I already mentioned, there are no obstacles except when the terrorists obstruct the work of the mission, particularly in the places where terrorists exist in large numbers.

TeleSUR: Despite the allegations that it was the Syrian government who used chemical weapons, the Russian government provided the United Nations with evidence that it was the armed groups who used the chemical weapons. What evidence do you have? And what is the Russian and Syrian government doing in order to prove that it was the terrorist groups and not the Syrian government who used chemical weapons?

President Assad: Of course we have both evidence and indicators. As for the evidence, when toxic gasses were used in Khan al-Assal, we took samples from the soil, blood samples from the victims, and also pieces from the projectiles used to carry the toxic material to that region. Later on, during operations carried out by the Syrian Army, a number of hiding places were discovered housing different sized containers filled with chemical agents – and in some cases toxic materials, as well as the instruments required to manufacture them. We provided the evidence to the Russian government before the UN mission came to Syria. We also have the confessions of the terrorists who brought some chemical agents from neighboring countries into Syria. These confessions were broadcast on television about a week ago.

Why the Syrian government did not use these materials?. First, the Syrian forces were making progress: they did not use them a year ago, when the terrorists were much stronger, so why should they use them now? The Syrian forces did not use them in remote areas where there are a much larger number of terrorists than in Damascus suburbs, so why should they use them here? You can’t use these materials in residential areas where they likely to kill tens of thousands and not only several hundreds or a thousand. You cannot use them in places close to your own forces – Syrian soldiers, because the soldiers themselves will be killed. So, logically, practically, militarily, they can’t be used in such conditions.

In any case, when you have a crime, one of the first questions a detective asks is who has an interest in using these weapons, or who has an interest in this crime. It is very clear that the terrorists have an interest in this crime, particularly when these allegations coincide with the investigating team’s mission to Syria. Can you really believe that the Syrian government invites an investigation mission, only to use chemical weapons so that the mission can investigate their use? This is unbelievable, totally illogical. All the indicators show that the Syrian government did not use them, and all tangible evidence shows that it was the terrorists who used the chemical weapons near Damascus.

TeleSUR: In this context, what was the role of Saudi Arabia and Qatar in bringing these chemical weapons to the armed groups?

President Assad: To be precise, we have no evidence that they passed chemical weapons to these groups. But it is well-known that these countries have been supporting the terrorists since the beginning of the crisis in Syria. They have, without exception, provided them with all kinds of sophisticated weapons; this is certain and well-documented. So, it is to be expected – that when these countries openly and publically support these groups and provide them with all kinds of weaponry, it is to be expected – that they are accused, especially Saudi Arabia, of delivering these types of materials to the terrorists to be used against the Syrian Army.

This is all the more so, since these terrorist groups have failed to present to their masters outside Syria with any real achievements militarily on the ground. Of course, they have been able to destroy a lot in Syria; they have destroyed the infrastructure, they have affected the economy, and they have affected the life of civilians in a very negative way. We have no doubt that these terrorist groups have caused a great deal of suffering, but I’m referring here to military achievement in line with the objectives that were given to them. In this regard, they failed miserably, so they had to resort to a different kind of weapon. By using these weapons, they would either defeat the Syrian Army or apply political pressure to reach an agreement on foreign intervention so that the United States and its allies can launch an aggression against Syria and weaken the Syrian Army. Of course, the second option is the more likely scenario.

Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion

TeleSUR: There is a chessboard under the table. It’s known that there are agreements done under the table, and someone is moving the pieces under the table, and that someone is Israel. Israel has a role in what is happening in Syria. Why are they talking about chemical weapons in Syria and nuclear weapons in Iran while not talking about the Israeli nuclear weapons?

President Assad: Israel is an aggressive state. It was created based on expansion. It occupies other people’s land and kills the people surrounding it. It has killed numerous Palestinians for over six decades. It killed numerous Lebanese and many Egyptians, Syrians and others using assassinations, bombing, terrorism and other methods. Today it plays the same role by supporting the terrorists directly in the areas adjacent to the Syrian front, i.e. near the occupied Golan, where it provides them with logistic and medical support and also with information, weapons and ammunition.

TeleSUR: There are also reports that Israel has oil interests in some Syrian regions?

President Assad: This has been reported, particularly concerning oil on the Eastern Mediterranean coast, but these are mere analysis and we have no concrete information. As for Israeli nuclear weapons, as you said, nobody talks about them because Israel, the aggressive state, the rogue state, enjoys full support from the United States in all its policies. It covers up all its crimes. As long as this process of covering up continues inside the United States, in the Security Council and the United Nations, in the international organizations, including the IAEA, it’s no longer surprising that any weapon anywhere in the world can be discussed, but not Israeli weapons. This is the prevailing logic in the world, the logic of hegemony, of colonialism, the logic of force.

Dialogue is inevitable among Syrians, all Syrian parties about the future of Syria

TeleSUR: Mr. President, while they are trying to reach a political solution for the crisis at an international level, what are you doing inside Syria in order to reduce the tension? Are there any attempts to engage the different parties in Syria? Is there any hope of an internal solution in Syria leading to the Geneva conference?

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President Assad: No matter how intense the terrorist operations become, and how bad the situation is, we should continue to initiate political action to solve any problem. We believe in this and have pursued it from the very beginning, despite the recent escalation of terrorist acts. Political action requires, first of all, putting an end to smuggling terrorists from neighboring countries and stopping the support for these terrorists with weapons, money, and all the logistical support necessary to help them carry out their terrorist operations.

At the same time, dialogue is inevitable among Syrians, all Syrian parties about the future of Syria. This dialogue should start with the political system in the country: which system do the Syrians want, and consequently address the laws and regulations that stem from that system. There are many other elements and details: when the Syrians at the table reach a certain conclusion, it should be presented to the Syrian people for approval through a popular referendum. Now, the Geneva conference is an important venue, and it provides an opportunity for dialogue among the different Syrian constituents. Of course, we do not assume that the terrorists who carried out acts of killing will attend, neither do we accept that dialogue can be conducted with entities which called for foreign intervention. By law, and judging by the popular sentiment in Syria, those who called for foreign intervention are traitors and cannot be accepted by anyone.

As for the principle of the Geneva conference, it is an important and necessary step towards paving the way for dialogue between Syrian constituents. But the Geneva conference cannot replace internal Syrian dialogue, and certainly it does not replace the opinion of the people, which should be determined through a referendum. These are the broad lines of our vision for political action to solve the Syrian crisis; all these elements will not achieve any real results on the ground if support for terrorism is not stopped.

TeleSUR: You stressed that you’ll not negotiate with the armed groups and the terrorists in Geneva. Who are the parties with whom you will negotiate? How can this dialogue be achieved on the international level, and what is the timeframe for achieving a political solution for the Syrian crisis?

The parties outside Syria do not represent the Syrian people

President Assad: I can answer the part of the question that is related to the parties inside Syria, which represent the Syrian people. There are different types of parties – opposition parties, parties in the middle, or parties supporting the state. With regards to the parties outside Syria, we need to ask the states that support them because these states, – the United States, France, the United Kingdom, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and others – have propped up these individuals who do not represent the Syrian people. If these states tell them to go to Geneva, they will go; they will say and do as they are told. If we want to have an answer to this part of the question, we need to ask those states whether they intend to send these individuals or not, because they do not represent the Syrian people, neither the Syrian people nor the Syrian government will be sending them. This is why I have said that by dialogue, I mean engaging with the various opposition groups, basically, based in Syria as well as other influencers and movements that do not necessarily belong to the opposition.

TeleSUR: I cannot finish this interview without mentioning the leader Hugo Chavez who visited Syria and went with you to Maaloula, which only a few days ago suffered an attack carried out by extremists. When he was in Maaloula, President Chavez said “Nothing human or humanitarian can be used to justify an attack and an aggression against Syria. How can we not support the Syrian government? How can we not support the government of President Bashar al-Assad?” How can they support armed groups?” Could you please give us your impressions and your recollections of President Chavez’s visit to Syria? And what do you think of the position of Venezuela and the ALBA countries in defending freedom and defending Syria and the rights of the Syrian people?

President Assad: We have always said that the developing world, of which we are both a part of, has been through a number of stages in its pursuit of independence. The first stage was with the evacuation of foreign forces from our occupied countries, which most countries have been able to achieve through their independence. The second stage, which is more important, is the independence of political, economic and military decisions – the independence of national decision-making so to speak. This was achieved in Latin and Central America in the past two decades. There were two symbols for this independence: President Castro – five decades ago, and President Chavez. When we remember President Chavez, we remember this second stage because the endeavors we are facing in our region, in the Middle East, are similar to those that you went through earlier in Latin America.

When you achieved independent national decision-making, the situation in South America, and even Central America, became much better and political stability started to yield economic benefits. When you started economic development, some countries emerged as industrial powers and have become important economic powers. This is the natural outcome of independence. To date in the Arab region, we have barely achieved minimum independent political decision-making and in a limited number of countries. The conflict with the West now is in part related to this point, in other words, gaining independent national decision-making. I believe that South America in general, Venezuela and President Chavez, and before him President Castro, are important role models to be followed on the road towards independence and freedom sought by nations trying to shrug off Western hegemony in the form of long decades of direct colonization and, today, indirect colonization.

There are many similarities in temperament, in emotions and in the warmth felt by citizens of the same nation in your country and in ours. There are also similarities in our histories. President Chavez and President Castro aside, there are many presidents in Latin America today walking the same line of President Chavez.

But, I would also like to especially mention my friend and brother President Maduro whom I know through a number of meetings, during my visit to Venezuela and his visits to Syria. We are very happy that the Venezuelan people decided to choose this person to represent and enforce the political line taken by the President Chavez. He is a resilient and proud leader who has a clear understanding of our region; I am sure that he will continue to lead Venezuela to the path of independence. We all know that the United States and some of its allies had great hopes that Venezuela will return to America’s embrace in the absence of President Chavez. With President Maduro at the helm, these dreams have evaporated. I believe that as Arab states, we should follow the path of Latin America if we want to make a mark in the world, to be independent and advanced.

We are defending the future of our children and the future of the whole region

TeleSUR: Thank you very much, Mr. President for everything you have said, give us one last message to Latin America: will Syria remain steadfast? Will she triumph?

President Assad: Had we had other choices but to stand fast, I would have shared them with you, but we have no other choice but to stand fast because the political future of this region is tied to what is happening in Syria. We are not only defending Syria, or just our interests and principles, we are defending the future of our children and the future of the whole region – and this region is the heart of the world. An unstable Middle East undermines the stability of the world, even remote parts of the world. We cannot refer today far away regions like Latin America, North America or East Asia; the world today is a small village, and what’s happening in Syria will affect the surrounding region. What happens in this region will affect the remotest part of the world. I don’t want to say that we want the peoples of Latin America to support our causes, because they always support Arab causes with no less warmth and objectivity than our own people who live in this region and belong to these causes. We hope to enhance this relationship between us in order to enlarge the space of independence and reduce the space of colonization represented by the West and the United States in particular.

TeleSUR: Thank you very much, Mr. President. This was a special interview with His Excellency President Bashar al-Assad. Thank you to our friends in TeleSUR and in Latin America for staying with us. Be sure that our objective at TeleSUR is to bring people together.

President Assad: Thank you.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36367.htm

Seymour Hersh on Death of Osama bin Laden:‘It’s One Big Lie, Not One Word Of It Is True’

By Lisa O’Carroll

September 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” –  Seymour Hersh has got some extreme ideas on how to fix journalism – close down the news bureaus of NBC and ABC, sack 90% of editors in publishing and get back to the fundamental job of journalists which, he says, is to be an outsider.

It doesn’t take much to fire up Hersh, the investigative journalist who has been the nemesis of US presidents since the 1960s and who was once described by the Republican party as “the closest thing American journalism has to a terrorist”.

He is angry about the timidity of journalists in America, their failure to challenge the White House and be an unpopular messenger of truth.

Don’t even get him started on the New York Times which, he says, spends “so much more time carrying water for Obama than I ever thought they would” – or the death of Osama bin Laden. “Nothing’s been done about that story, it’s one big lie, not one word of it is true,” he says of the dramatic US Navy Seals raid in 2011.

Hersh is writing a book about national security and has devoted a chapter to the bin Laden killing. He says a recent report put out by an “independent” Pakistani commission about life in the Abottabad compound in which Bin Laden was holed up would not stand up to scrutiny. “The Pakistanis put out a report, don’t get me going on it. Let’s put it this way, it was done with considerable American input. It’s a bullshit report,” he says hinting of revelations to come in his book.

The Obama administration lies systematically, he claims, yet none of the leviathans of American media, the TV networks or big print titles, challenge him.

“It’s pathetic, they are more than obsequious, they are afraid to pick on this guy [Obama],” he declares in an interview with the Guardian.

“It used to be when you were in a situation when something very dramatic happened, the president and the minions around the president had control of the narrative, you would pretty much know they would do the best they could to tell the story straight. Now that doesn’t happen any more. Now they take advantage of something like that and they work out how to re-elect the president.

He isn’t even sure if the recent revelations about the depth and breadth of surveillance by the National Security Agency will have a lasting effect.

Snowden changed the debate on surveillance

He is certain that NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden “changed the whole nature of the debate” about surveillance. Hersh says he and other journalists had written about surveillance, but Snowden was significant because he provided documentary evidence – although he is sceptical about whether the revelations will change the US government’s policy.

“Duncan Campbell [the British investigative journalist who broke the Zircon cover-up story], James Bamford [US journalist] and Julian Assange and me and the New Yorker, we’ve all written the notion there’s constant surveillance, but he [Snowden] produced a document and that changed the whole nature of the debate, it’s real now,” Hersh says.

“Editors love documents. Chicken-shit editors who wouldn’t touch stories like that, they love documents, so he changed the whole ball game,” he adds, before qualifying his remarks.

“But I don’t know if it’s going to mean anything in the long [run] because the polls I see in America – the president can still say to voters ‘al-Qaida, al-Qaida’ and the public will vote two to one for this kind of surveillance, which is so idiotic,” he says.

Holding court to a packed audience at City University in London’s summer school on investigative journalism, 76-year-old Hersh is on full throttle, a whirlwind of amazing stories of how journalism used to be; how he exposed the My Lai massacre in Vietnam, how he got the Abu Ghraib pictures of American soldiers brutalising Iraqi prisoners, and what he thinks of Edward Snowden.

Hope of redemption

Despite his concern about the temerity of journalism he believes the trade still offers hope of redemption.

“I have this sort of heuristic view that journalism, we possibly offer hope because the world is clearly run by total nincompoops more than ever … Not that journalism is always wonderful, it’s not, but at least we offer some way out, some integrity.”

His story of how he uncovered the My Lai atrocity is one of old-fashioned shoe-leather journalism and doggedness. Back in 1969, he got a tip about a 26-year-old platoon leader, William Calley, who had been charged by the army with alleged mass murder.

Instead of picking up the phone to a press officer, he got into his car and started looking for him in the army camp of Fort Benning in Georgia, where he heard he had been detained. From door to door he searched the vast compound, sometimes blagging his way, marching up to the reception, slamming his fist on the table and shouting: “Sergeant, I want Calley out now.”

Eventually his efforts paid off with his first story appearing in the St Louis Post-Despatch, which was then syndicated across America and eventually earned him the Pulitzer Prize. “I did five stories. I charged $100 for the first, by the end the [New York] Times were paying $5,000.”

He was hired by the New York Times to follow up the Watergate scandal and ended up hounding Nixon over Cambodia. Almost 30 years later, Hersh made global headlines all over again with his exposure of the abuse of Iraqi prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

Put in the hours

For students of journalism his message is put the miles and the hours in. He knew about Abu Ghraib five months before he could write about it, having been tipped off by a senior Iraqi army officer who risked his own life by coming out of Baghdad to Damascus to tell him how prisoners had been writing to their families asking them to come and kill them because they had been “despoiled”.

“I went five months looking for a document, because without a document, there’s nothing there, it doesn’t go anywhere.”

Hersh returns to US president Barack Obama. He has said before that the confidence of the US press to challenge the US government collapsed post 9/11, but he is adamant that Obama is worse than Bush.

“Do you think Obama’s been judged by any rational standards? Has Guantanamo closed? Is a war over? Is anyone paying any attention to Iraq? Is he seriously talking about going into Syria? We are not doing so well in the 80 wars we are in right now, what the hell does he want to go into another one for. What’s going on [with journalists]?” he asks.

He says investigative journalism in the US is being killed by the crisis of confidence, lack of resources and a misguided notion of what the job entails.

“Too much of it seems to me is looking for prizes. It’s journalism looking for the Pulitzer Prize,” he adds. “It’s a packaged journalism, so you pick a target like – I don’t mean to diminish because anyone who does it works hard – but are railway crossings safe and stuff like that, that’s a serious issue but there are other issues too.

“Like killing people, how does [Obama] get away with the drone programme, why aren’t we doing more? How does he justify it? What’s the intelligence? Why don’t we find out how good or bad this policy is? Why do newspapers constantly cite the two or three groups that monitor drone killings. Why don’t we do our own work?

“Our job is to find out ourselves, our job is not just to say – here’s a debate’ our job is to go beyond the debate and find out who’s right and who’s wrong about issues. That doesn’t happen enough. It costs money, it costs time, it jeopardises, it raises risks. There are some people – the New York Times still has investigative journalists but they do much more of carrying water for the president than I ever thought they would … it’s like you don’t dare be an outsider any more.”

He says in some ways President George Bush’s administration was easier to write about. “The Bush era, I felt it was much easier to be critical than it is [of] Obama. Much more difficult in the Obama era,” he said.

Asked what the solution is Hersh warms to his theme that most editors are pusillanimous and should be fired.

“I’ll tell you the solution, get rid of 90% of the editors that now exist and start promoting editors that you can’t control,” he says. I saw it in the New York Times, I see people who get promoted are the ones on the desk who are more amenable to the publisher and what the senior editors want and the trouble makers don’t get promoted. Start promoting better people who look you in the eye and say ‘I don’t care what you say’.

Nor does he understand why the Washington Post held back on the Snowden files until it learned the Guardian was about to publish.

If Hersh was in charge of US Media Inc, his scorched earth policy wouldn’t stop with newspapers.

“I would close down the news bureaus of the networks and let’s start all over, tabula rasa. The majors, NBCs, ABCs, they won’t like this – just do something different, do something that gets people mad at you, that’s what we’re supposed to be doing,” he says.

Hersh is currently on a break from reporting, working on a book which undoubtedly will make for uncomfortable reading for both Bush and Obama.

“The republic’s in trouble, we lie about everything, lying has become the staple.” And he implores journalists to do something about it.

Guardian.co.uk © Guardian News and Media 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36364.htm

Another Fake US Terror Alert

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, September 27, 2013

CIA-Hollywood-400x301Here we go again. Another fake alert. They’re strategically time. They’re wearing thin. They lack credibility. They repeat with disturbing regularity.

No terror threat exists. Washington lied claiming one. It’s not the first time. More on that below.

On September 25, the State Department headlined “Worldwide Caution,” saying:

“The Department of State has issued this Worldwide Caution to update information on the continuing threat of terrorist actions and violence against US citizens and interests throughout the world.”

“This replaces the Worldwide Caution dated February 19, 2013, to provide updated information on security threats and terrorist activities worldwide.”

“The Department of State remains concerned about the continued threat of terrorist attacks, demonstrations, and other violent actions against US citizens and interests overseas.”

“Current information suggests that al-Qa’ida, its affiliated organizations, and other terrorist groups continue to plan terrorist attacks against US interests in multiple regions, including Europe, Asia, Africa, and the Middle East.”

“These attacks may employ a wide variety of tactics including suicide operations, assassinations, kidnappings, hijackings, and bombings.”

“Extremists may elect to use conventional or non-conventional weapons, and target both official and private interests. Examples of such targets include high-profile sporting events, residential areas, business offices, hotels, clubs, restaurants, places of worship, schools, public areas, shopping malls, and other tourist destinations both in the United States and abroad where US citizens gather in large numbers, including during holidays.”

US sponsored state terrorism globally represents a real threat. Don’t expect the State Department to explain.

Its dirty hands are involved in waging war on humanity. Many tactics are used.

They include involvement in subversion, sabotage, targeted assassinations, cyber attacks, and lawless aggression among others.

Alleged Al Qaeda/affiliated groups planned terror attacks against US and Western interests abroad don’t wash.

They’re fake. Whatever happens, if anything, will be another US/Western/Israeli provocation.

They’ll be false flags used as justification for planned crackdowns and other aggressive acts.

These schemes are wearing thin. They change the subject. They divert attention from pressing domestic issues.

They justify wrongdoing. At times, they precede false flags.

Bush officials used color-coded alerts. They ranged from Green (low), Blue (guarded), Yellow (elevated), Orange (high) to Red (severe).

On April 26, 2011, a National Terrorism Advisory System (NTAS) replaced them. Then Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said:

“Today I announce the end of the old system of color-coded alerts. In its place, we will implement a new system that’s built on a clear and simple premise: When a threat develops that could impact you – the public – we will tell you.”

“We will provide whatever information we can so you know how to protect yourselves, your families, and your communities.”

Every post-9/11 terror alert was fake. Alleged threats didn’t exist. This time is no different. So-called intelligence, chatter or other claimed information doesn’t exist.

In early August, a fake terror warning followed alleged Al Qaeda intercepted electronic communications. None whatever existed. It didn’t matter.

The State Department headlined “Temporary Post Closures and Worldwide Travel Alert.” It affected over 20 US embassies and consulates.

Despite no reason to do so, they were shut because of “increased security concerns.”

Orders came at Ramadan’s close. They followed Russia granting Edward Snowden asylum. They came three days after fake Israeli/Palestinian peace talks began.

They’re during worsening economic crisis conditions. They affect growing millions. They’re when Washington plans more austerity. They divert attention from what concerns ordinary people most.

The initial August 3 and 4 closure was extended throughout the week. A White House statement said:

“Early this week, the President instructed his National Security team to take all appropriate steps to protect the American people in light of a potential threat occurring in or emanating from the Arabian Peninsula.”

“Given the nature of the potential threat, throughout the week, Assistant to the President for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism Lisa Monaco has held regular meetings with relevant members of the interagency to ensure the US Government is taking those appropriate steps.”

“This afternoon, National Security Advisor Rice chaired a meeting with the Principals Committee to further review the situation and follow-up actions.”

“The President has received frequent briefings over the last week on all aspects of the potential threat and our preparedness measures. After today’s Principals meeting, the President was again briefed by Amb. Rice and Ms. Monaco.”

On August 4, the State Department issued an update on embassy and consulate closures, saying:

“Given that a number of our embassies and consulates were going to be closed in accordance with local custom and practice for the bulk of the week for the Eid celebration at the end of Ramadan, and out of an abundance of caution, we’ve decided to extend the closure of several embassies and consulates including a small number of additional posts.”

“This is not an indication of a new threat stream, merely an indication of our commitment to exercise caution and take appropriate steps to protect our employees including local employees and visitors to our facilities.”

All so-called terror alerts, warning, cautions, and related announcements are fake. They’re issued for political advantage. They generate fear.

They justify wrongdoing. What’s planned remains to be seen. Post-September 30, a potential government shutdown looms.

On October 17, America’s debt ceiling is reached. If Congress doesn’t raise it, the Treasury runs out of money.

Syria remains on the boil. Efforts continue to discredit Iranian President Hassan Rohani.

separate article called his September 25 General Assembly address eloquent, straightforward, honest and important. He spoke truth to power. He did so sincerely and candidly.

He’s falsely accused of being a holocaust denier. CNN interviewed him.

FARS News headlined “CNN, Amanpour Should Account for Fabrication of President Rouhani’s Remarks,” saying:

“The American news channel CNN fabricated the Iranian President’s remarks in response to the network’s question about the Holocaust in an interview which was aired on Tuesday and Wednesday.”

“During the interview, CNN aired an English translation of President Rouhani’s remarks which were totally inaccurate and untrustworthy, and in some parts contained sentences which were not at all uttered by the president.”

His correctly translated remarks were:

“I have said before that I am not a historian and historians should specify, state and explain the aspects of historical events, but generally we fully condemn any kind of crime committed against humanity throughout the history, including the crime committed by the Nazis both against the Jews and non-Jews, the same way that if today any crime is committed against any nation or any religion or any people or any belief, we condemn that crime and genocide.”

“Therefore, what the Nazis did is condemned, (but) the aspects that you talk about, clarification of these aspects is a duty of the historians and researchers. I am not a history scholar.”

CNN’s Translation: “I’ve said before that I am not a historian and then, when it comes to speaking of the dimensions of the Holocaust, it is the historians that should reflect on it.”

“But in general I can tell you that any crime that happens in history against humanity, including the crime that Nazis committed towards the Jews as well as non-Jews is reprehensible and condemnable.”

“Whatever criminality they committed against the Jews, we condemn, the taking of human life is contemptible, it makes no difference whether that life is Jewish life, Christian or Muslim, for us it is the same, but taking the human life is something our religion rejects but this doesn’t mean that on the other hand you can say Nazis committed crime against a group now therefore, they must usurp the land of another group and occupy it.”

“This too is an act that should be condemned. There should be an even-handed discussion.”

FARS News said most of CNN’s last paragraph translation was deceptively added, fabricated, or completely altered. Doing so shows willful intent.

Headlines followed. They called Rohani a holocaust denier. Haaretz headlined “Rohani says Nazis committed ‘reprehensible” crime against Jews, but did he disavow Holocaust denial?”

According to the Holocaust History Project, deniers claim three things:

(1) “First, they contend that, while mass murders of Jews did occur there was no official Nazi policy to murder Jews.”

(2) “Second they contend that there were no homicidal gas chambers, particularly at Auschwitz-Birkenau, where mainstream historians believe over 1 million Jews were murdered, primarily in gas chambers.”

(3) “And third they contend that the death toll of European Jews during World War II was well below 6 million. Deniers float numbers anywhere between 300,000 and 1.5 million, as a general rule.”

According to Haaretz, “Rohani might still be considered a Holocaust-denier, albeit a much smoother one than” his predecessor.

previous article quoted Ahmadinejad’s comments. He was often misquoted. He’s no holocaust denier. Claims otherwise are lies.

In September 2007, he spoke at Columbia University. “I’m not saying (the holocaust) didn’t happen at all,” he said. This is not the judgment that I’m passing here.”

He said this and related issues are politicized. It’s part of Washington’s longstanding anti-Iranian hostility.

It’s unchanged. Rohani feels its sting. He’s no holocaust denier. Whatever he says, does or plans will be held against him.

Expect it no matter how well intended. Expect Washington to take full advantage. Longstanding anti-Iranian hostility remains fixed.

So does America’s war on humanity. Fake terror alerts are tactics used to wage it. Advancing imperial priorities matter most.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled “Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity.”

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

http://www.dailycensored.com/another-fake-us-terror-alert/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/another-fake-us-terror-alert/5351809

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