Monthly Archives: November 2013

Richard Stallman on good things and bad things about Bitcoin

Keiser Report: Drilling for Fraud (E530, ft. Red Pepper of Nonsense)

Congratulations, Ukraine!

29.11.2013

Congratulations, Ukraine!. 51654.jpeg

A wise decision by the Ukraine not to fall into the European Union’s web, not to fall for the siren’s song, not to believe the false promises of prosperity, not to follow the starry-eyed misguidedness of some of Ukraine’s young population who see the EU as some sort of Nirvana. Viktor Yanukovich just saved Ukraine, and them, from a terrible fate.

Let me tell you a story. Once upon a time there was a farmer, the Big Farmer, who worked hard, so hard in fact that every square inch of his land was productive. One day he decided he needed some extra space for his workers to produce more, so gradually he invaded the land of the neighboring farms, some less productive than others. The Big Farmer made allies with some, massacred others and became most unpopular, so much so that the other farmers gathered together and formed an alliance against him. Collectively, they won and the Big Farmer was crushed in the Great Conflict.

Crushed, but not destroyed. Shortly after the end of the Great Conflict, the other farmers and their friend on the other side of the Ocean decided that they needed the strength of the Big Farmer to protect them and to be a part of a strong economy so they financed the Big Farmer to make his lands productive again.

It took just a few years before the Big Farmer was as strong as he was before. This time he knew that by physical invasion of territories outside his lands, he would incur the wrath of the other farmers, so he devised the Great Plan.

The Great Plan was conceived with the connivance of the Fat Cow farm lying to his west, a large piece of fertile agricultural land which the Big Farmer had invaded twice already before the Great Conflict. The Great Plan was to sign an agreement which would produce a Union of farms, an agreement drawn up with such beautiful language that all those that read it would fall into a trance, become hypnotized and strive obediently towards the Plan.

As the Big Farmer grew stronger and more powerful, he also became richer and was able to pay the other signatory members of the agreement sums of money, convincing them that it would be more comfortable for them to sit on their backsides in the sun, playing cards and dominoes, to destroy all their agriculture so that their farmers could rest and get drunk, to destroy their industries so that their factory workers could lie around at home on their backs zapping between TV channels, to sink the fishing fleet so that the fishermen would spend more time with their wives than with the, erm…mermaids.

“Being paid not to work? Why, what a wonderful idea!” said the eager new signatory members of the Plan, which appeared so attractive in fact that more and more members lined up to join, including the Eccentric Islanders off the west coast of Europe, long suspicious of their continental garlic-eating, mustachioed  neighbors.

Suddenly, the spell wore off, but too late. One fine day the signatory members awoke with a thumping headache as it suddenly dawned upon them that they had no means to fish, produce machines or farm and if they wanted these products they had to buy them…from the Big Farmer. The signatory members suddenly realized that their children had no jobs to go to because the factories had been destroyed, their fishing fleets had been sunk, the apple trees had been ploughed into the ground and their pigs and chickens had been slaughtered.

There was not enough money in their economies because their States were facing ever-increasing social welfare bills, increasing unemployment benefit pay-offs and decreasing revenue from taxation. Families were torn apart because the second and third generations were pouring out of the Farms looking for work elsewhere, because there was none at home.

Workers from poorer lands outside the Farms were drafted in to make up the shortfall and soon the entire social and economic fabric of the Farms changed drastically. Coupled with this, many of the farmers made the mistake of adopting a common currency, denying them any little leverage they had in supporting their economies or at least playing a part in their management, while at the same time the Big Farmer imposed constraints upon them in a top-down approach which made more sense to Him (now written with a capital H after a special edict) than it did to them.

So Viktor Yanukovich, many congratulations on your stance not to sign a trade agreement with the European Union. In so doing, you have protected your people, you have protected their jobs, you have protected your farmers, you have protected your industry, you have protected your fisheries, you have protected your agriculture, you have protected your education system and you have protected Ukraine’s future.

For those Ukrainians who wish to join the EU, go and see for yourselves. Take your pick. In the UK there are 80,000 homeless children, in some areas of the EU there is 40% youth unemployment, in many cities you dare not venture out at night for fear of being attacked by drunkards or drug addicts, home invasions are rife, you come out of a hospital more ill than before you went in, education systems struggle to cope with under-funding, the banks do not lend you enough money to buy a house, rents are skyrocketing, unemployment is the norm, keeping a job depends on working in slave-like conditions in return for less and less and a super-class of countless political echelons costs more and more to fund, like a gluttonous monster, a flesh-eating bacterium devouring all around it.

Welcome to the European Union. For those Ukrainians taking to the streets in protest, you don’t know what you are missing.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/29-11-2013/126282-congratulations_ukraine-0/

Australian government blocks US takeover of key agribusiness

By Patrick O’Connor 

30 November 2013

Treasurer Joe Hockey announced yesterday he was blocking, on “national interest” grounds, an attempted takeover of Australia’s largest agribusiness, GrainCorp, by US giant Archer Daniels Midland (ADM). The decision, which was denounced by big business in Australia and finance capital in the US, highlights the sharp divisions wracking the unstable Liberal-National coalition government of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

The coalition’s rural-based junior partner, the National Party, representing farming and rival agribusiness interests, threatened a revolt within the government if the sell-off was allowed to proceed. Abbott won a federal election less than three months ago, yet his government is in disarray amid continued diplomatic crises with Indonesia and China, and domestic conflict with state governments over the gutting of school funding.

ADM’s takeover bid was widely regarded as the first litmus test for the Abbott government’s pro-business credentials, after the new prime minister repeatedly declared Australia “open for business.”

GrainCorp is the only publicly traded grain merchant in Australia. Its 280 wheat storage sites, and control of seven of the ten ports that ship grain from the east coast of the country, means the company handles 75 percent of annual grain production and 90 percent of exports from eastern Australia. ADM, an Illinois-based S&P 500 listed company with revenues of $89 billion last year, already has a 20 percent stake in GrainCorp but wanted to move to 100 percent ownership with a $3.4 billion takeover. The company was believed to be targeting the Australian market as a way of boosting its presence in Asian markets, especially China, which is a major purchaser of Australian wheat exports.

The National Party mounted a campaign from within the government to block the takeover. ADM offered a three-year cap on charges for grain handling and storage at GrainCorp’s network of silos and ports, but farmers in eastern Australia feared the company would use its virtual monopoly position to hike prices after that, driving less efficient growers into bankruptcy. National Party leader, Deputy Prime Minister Warren Truss and the National’s deputy leader, Agriculture Minister Barnaby Joyce, publicly campaigned against the sell-off, fearing the party’s standing in economically hard-hit rural communities would plummet. They were joined by sections of the Liberal Party, including Senator Bill Heffernan.

The GrainCorp-ADM decision underscores Abbott’s political dependence on these forces. He became Liberal Party leader in December 2009, after defeating Malcolm Turnbull in a caucus ballot by just one vote. Turnbull, a former merchant banker, was backed by the most strident “free market” advocates within the Liberal Party.

Treasurer Hockey, who had the final say on the takeover bid, yesterday declared there had been “a high level of concern from stakeholders and the broader community.” Allowing the sale “could risk undermining public support for the foreign investment regime and ongoing foreign investment more generally.” He suggested ADM would be permitted to increase its stake in GrainCorp to 25 percent, and could make another takeover bid in the future. Abbott endorsed Hockey’s announcement, declaring: “The treasurer has been the guardian of our national interest today, as always.”

Members of the government have spoken out against the decision. Liberal backbencher Rick Wilson told the West Australian he was “disappointed.” WA Liberal Senator Dean Smith said: “Poor old [trade minister] Andrew Robb—he’s out there in Asia saying we’re open for business. Well, we’re sort of open for business.”

Corporate lobby groups accused the government of endangering the continued influx of foreign investment, on which Australian capitalism is heavily dependent. Jennifer Westacott, chief executive of the Business Council of Australia, representing the country’s largest 100 corporations, said the blocked sale “risks undermining the federal government’s statement that Australia is open for business.”

The Murdoch and financial press were scathing. Writing in today’s Australian, long-time pro-market advocate Judith Sloan summarily dismissed Hockey’s arguments as “simply pathetic.” After dismissing his reference to the concerns of stakeholders and the broader community as “simply code for the Treasurer’s inability to stand the heat,” Sloan witheringly declared: “This was your big test, Joe, and you failed.”

Equally critical were those sections of the American media reporting on the ADM takeover bid. The Wall Street Journal Online reported that Hockey made a “surprise decision” that “pokes holes in the freshly elected government’s commitment to welcome foreign investment.” It added: “[F]oreign investors will surely keep a closer eye on the next few deals to launch Down Under.”

ADM’s unsuccessful bid marks the first time that a US company has been barred in Australia on “national interest” grounds since the current foreign investment rules were enacted in 1974. Two days before the public announcement, Australia’s ambassador in Washington, Kim Beazley, informed Obama administration officials, in accordance with a clause in the US-Australia free trade agreement that requires Washington to be consulted on the blocking of any US investment proposal.

Several Wall Street hedge funds wagered on the Australian government approving the GrainCorp sell-off. Hockey’s announcement, which was due next month but apparently brought forward to coincide with the holiday closure of US share markets, caught them by surprise. The Australian Financial Review reported that “several US hedge funds had their thanksgiving dinners interrupted by phone calls to inform them that their Australian trade had gone sour.”

John Corr, of hedge fund Aurora Fortitude, which invested 1 percent of its portfolio on an ADM takeover, declared the Abbott government’s decision “would elevate the perception of political risk in Australia among international funds and companies.”

The coalition government is now under pressure to approve a series of major proposed Chinese investments currently being considered by the Foreign Investment Review Board. These include China’s State Grid Corp’s attempted $7.4 billion purchase of local utility assets, and Yanzhou Coal Mining’s bid for full ownership of Yancoal Australia.

The opposition Labor Party and the trade unions condemned the government for blocking ADM’s buy-out of GrainCorp. Australian Workers Union secretary Paul Howes said Hockey had “buckled” to the National Party and sent “a message to the rest of the world that Australia isn’t interested in becoming the food bowl for Asia.”

Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen boasted that the Labor Party was the most effective advocate of the interests of corporate Australia as a whole. Hockey, Bowen declared, was too “weak” to oppose those within the coalition government opposed to the sale, and showed he was unable to “make the tough decisions.”

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/30/hock-n30.html

British PM Cameron’s attack on immigrants

30 November 2013

British Prime Minister David Cameron’s attack this week on Bulgarian and Romanian migrants is only the latest anti-immigrant diatribe delivered for the purpose of polluting the political atmosphere in Britain and Europe.

Cameron announced measures against migrants to the UK (See: “UK Prime Minister Cameron plays the anti-immigrant card”), which he claimed were aimed against “benefit tourism.” Under new rules, migrants will not be entitled, as a right, to out-of-work benefits. They will also be subject to deportation if they are found begging or sleeping rough.

The prime minister’s intervention came as European Union (EU) rules placing restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians working in the UK were about to expire. The same restrictions are set to lapse as well in Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Luxembourg, Malta, Spain and the Netherlands.

The lapsing of the EU restrictions has unleashed a hysterical press campaign in the UK, with dire warnings that Britain is about to be swamped by Eastern Europeans. The press has centred on the fact that Britain’s paltry welfare benefit levels are still twice the average wage in Bulgaria.

On the same day that he announced the new anti-immigrant measures, Cameron published a column in the Financial Times entitled “Free movement within Europe needs to be less free”. He wrote: “It is time for a new settlement which recognises that free movement is a central principle of the EU, but it cannot be a completely unqualified one… We need to do the same with welfare. For example, free movement should not be about exporting child benefit.”

Cameron’s statements evoked a mild rebuke from European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who said he told Cameron that “free movement is a fundamental treaty principle that must be upheld.”

Coming from such a figure, this is rank hypocrisy. There is little of substance separating Cameron’s approach to immigration from that of any other major European leader.

Cameron’s proposal to bar migrants from receiving benefits until they have been resident in the UK for three months is already in place in the Netherlands. The new Christian Democratic/Social Democratic grand coalition government in Germany is committed to a crackdown on migrants for “unjust claims of social security benefits.” The French Socialist Party government is proposing repressive controls on temporary cross-border migrant workers.

There are already countless restrictions in place throughout Europe on migrant labour. However, due to the European Union’s raison d’etre as a free trade area, free movement of labour is enshrined in the EU’s treaties. It is beneficial for major corporations seeking access to either specialised skilled labour or cheap unskilled labour.

That is why Cameron’s focus has been on restricting access to welfare benefit entitlement, rather than the right of residency. Citing this, Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg, the leader of the Conservative Party’s coalition partner, the Liberal Democrats, insisted that the government’s proposals were compatible with EU law.

Cameron’s scare-mongering is echoed across the official political spectrum. On the right, anti-immigrant rhetoric is the staple of the United Kingdom Independence Party and similar tendencies throughout Europe. But the unanimity of all sections of the ruling elite in scape-goating immigrants for the consequences of cuts that are destroying social services and driving millions into poverty is epitomised by the opposition British Labour Party.

Leading Labour politicians have moved to outflank the government in making an appeal to anti-immigrant sentiment. Former Labour Home Secretary Jack Straw said that Labour’s decision in 2004 not to impose restrictions on Eastern European migrants was a “spectacular mistake.”

Another former Labour Home Secretary, David Blunkett, recently insisted that “We have got to change the behaviour and the culture” of the Roma community in the UK if a violent backlash against them is to be avoided.

David Goodhart, the founder of the pro-Labour Prospect magazine and a director of the Demos think tank, has asserted, without foundation, that 1.5 million migrants have entered the UK labour market—a figure 50 percent higher than that cited by Cameron. He has proposed that Britain take immigrants only from countries that have an income per head that is 75 percent of the EU average—a proposal that would exclude Greece, Poland, Portugal, Lithuania, Latvia and, of course, Bulgaria and Romania.

Not to be outdone, Labour’s Shadow Home Secretary Yvette Cooper responded to Cameron’s diatribe by declaring that the prime minister was still “playing catch-up” with her party, which had made the same proposals eight months ago.

Official political discourse is being shifted ever further to the right, not because the far right are capturing the public mood, but because they are blazing a trail that the main political parties are more than ready to follow.

The major impulse for both international migration and migration within the EU—especially from Southern and Eastern Europe—is the devastating decline in social conditions. The EU has played a decisive role in this process, through its imposition of austerity measures and through various moves by the major European governments and corporations to drive down wages and to gut social provision.

Maria Damanaki, a Greek European commissioner, said earlier this year: “The strategy of the European Commission over the past year-and-a-half or two has been to reduce the labour costs in all European countries in order to improve the competitiveness of European companies over the rivals from Eastern Europe and Asia.”

Damanaki is a leading figure and parliamentary deputy for PASOK, the Greek social democratic party, which has played a critical role in imposing the dictates of Greece’s banking creditors over the past four years.

As a result of years of brutal austerity, the wages of workers in Eastern Europe have been driven down to starvation levels. Bulgaria is the poorest country in the EU, with an official monthly average wage of just €350.

But this is not a purely Eastern European phenomenon. The unrelenting attacks on British workers since the 2008 global financial crash by both the Labour government and the current coalition have seen living standards falling for a longer period than at any time since 1870.

The Socialist Equality Party stands for the right of workers to live and work wherever they please and for their free movement throughout the continent and internationally. The precondition for the defence of the rights of workers in any country is their solidarity and unity in struggle with the workers of all other countries. At the heart of the anti-immigrant agitation is a calculated drive by the ruling classes to divert social anger away from them and split the working class along national, racial, ethnic and religious lines.

The EU is not an instrument for defending the democratic and social rights of any workers, whether native-born or immigrant. It exists solely to facilitate whatever big business demands to reap profits at the expense of the wages, jobs and livelihoods of working people. The defence of workers’ living standards and social rights requires the launching of a continent-wide mass movement of working people against the European Union and for the overthrow of capitalism and establishment of workers’ governments within the framework of a United Socialist States of Europe.

Robert Stevens

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/30/pers-n30.html

Lies and Dirty Politics Canadian MP Smears Greenwald/CBC

Video

November 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House –  Mr. Paul Calandra (Parliamentary Secretary to the Prime Minister and for Intergovernmental Affairs, CPC):

Mr. Speaker, the CBC’s Journalistic Standards and Practices make clear that:

To ensure we maintain our independence, we do not pay for information from a source in a story.

When CBC’s The National aired a report about U.S. activities during the G8 and G20, neither Peter Mansbridge nor Greg Weston disclosed that they had paid their source, Glenn Greenwald.

Greenwald is a Brazilian based former porn industry executive, now assisting Edward Snowden leak national security information.

CBC only admitted to its cash for news scheme after The Wall Street Journal forced it out. CBC is trying to justify the violation of its own ethical standards by claiming that Greenwald is a freelancer.

Greenwald has strong and controversial opinions about national security. Of course, that is his right, but when CBC pays for news, we have to ask why furthering Glenn Greenwald’s agenda and lining his Brazilian bank account more important than maintaining the public broadcaster’s journalistic integrity?

Wall Street Journal’s Alistair MacDonald “reports” an outright lie

By Glenn Greenwald

The Wall Street Journal’s Toronto-based reporter, Alistair MacDonald, last night published what can only be described as an outright lie. Here’s what he claimed:

@CBC admits it paid taxpayer’s money to @ggreenwald for access to Snowden’s documents but won’t say how much.#NSA #NSAFiles #cdnpoli
— Alistair MacDonald (@macdonaldajm) November 29, 2013

And this:

Interesting that @cbc admission it paid Glen Greenwald for access to #NSA docs only came after we enquired, not last night when aired
— Alistair MacDonald (@macdonaldajm) November 29, 2013

Not only is it patently false to say that the CBC paid me for “access to Snowden’s documents” – more on that in a minute – but MacDonald must know that his claim about what CBC “admits” is also patently false. Here’s what the CBC’s Director of News Content, David Walmsley, actually wrote about our relationship:

For those of you wondering, CBC News is currently in a freelance relationship with Glenn Greenwald. As both a journalist and a commentator, Greenwald has written for many prestigious media outlets in recent years, ranging from The Guardian to the New York Times to Salon.com.

He will write and report for CBC News and will help provide context and analysis on the documents from the NSA. Greenwald knows these files well. He has spent months exploring the global role of the NSA working with material taken by a former National Security Agency employee, Edward Snowden.

As with all CBC News content, stories generated by CBC reporters and Mr. Greenwald that are connected to these documents will be held to CBC journalistic standards.

Indeed, that is exactly what the contract provides and is exactly what I’m doing for CBC: writing news stories for them as a freelance journalist, alongside CBC staff journalists and editors. What is particularly laughable is MacDonald’s self-praising boast that he was the one who uncovered this relationship: in fact, the very first (and so far only) article we published at the CBC on this story featured my byline right at the very top of the article:

So the breaking discovery from this intrepid, fearless Wall Street Journal investigative reporter is that the freelance journalists who reported on a big story for a large media outlet with a byline were paid for their work. Is that ever not the case?

Does MacDonald write his articles for free for the Wall Street Journal, or is he paid for his work? How much is he paid? Why has he not disclosed this? What is he hiding? Let the journalists who write articles for big media outlets without being paid for their work step up and be the first to support this attack.

MacDonald’s claim that CBC paid for “access to Snowden’s documents” is equally false. The CBC does not have “access to Snowden’s documents”. They only have access to the specific, carefully selected documents that we are reporting on together. What they’re paying for – under a standard joint freelance contract with both me and my freelance colleague Ryan Gallagher – is the work that freelance reporters always do: selecting and analyzing the material to be reported and then participating in the drafting and finalizing of the article and reporting (for both TV and print): extensive work we all did together.

Aside from being completely standard, having a genuine freelance contract with media outlets is the only way to report on these documents. If we did not have such a contract, then the US government and its apologists (the very same people now criticizing us for having these contracts), would claim (dubiously but aggressively) that we were acting as a “source” or a distributor of documents, rather than as journalists in reporting them, and thus should lose the legal protections accorded to the process of journalism. As a result, we ensure that we negotiate a standard freelance contract so that nobody other than charlatans (such as those employed by the Wall Street Journal) could contest their authenticity and normalcy (for the extensive work we did in reporting and writing this story – one that broke news all over Canada and then the world – Ryan Gallagher and I were paid a joint freelance fee of $1,500).

This is, yet again, nothing more than the standard tactic of distraction we see over and over. Just as was true of the Manning war crimes disclosures: there is a small cottage industry of pundits, bloggers, and journalists who evince zero interest in the substance of the revelations about NSA and GCHQ spying which we’re reporting on around the world. The people I’m referencing literally almost never mention any of the actual revelations, but are instead obsessed with spending their time personally attacking the journalists, whistleblowers, and other messengers who enable the world to know about what is being done.

Everyone having any sort of public impact merits critical scrutiny, and that certainly includes me. But when that scrutiny comes in the form of blatantly absurd and false attacks like the one from the Wall Street Journal – and from people who devote no time or attention to the substance of the revelations – then it seems clear that the attacks are little more than means of doing the NSA’s dirty work for it: trying to discredit the journalists reporting on the story to ensure attention is shifted away from the spying revelations.

As I said from the start, I’ll answer these kinds of attacks now and then but it won’t succeed in distracting attention from what matters. In the last six weeks alone, we’ve reported on NSA and GCHQ documents in Germany, France, Spain, Norway, Holland, the U.S., the UK, and now Canada. More stories are coming in these and other countries in the next two weeks. Nothing is going to stop or even impede our reporting the newsworthy stories around the world that show what is being done to internet freedom and individual privacy by the world’s most powerful factions operating in the dark and with no real accountability.

UPDATE (Sat.): On Twitter yesterday, MacDonald acknowledged that his accusations were fundamentally false, but tried to pass it off as merely a “clarification” of his defamatory claims:

Clarifying, @CBC tells me it paid @ggreenwald as freelancer not paid for access to NSA documents
— Alistair MacDonald (@macdonaldajm) November 29, 2013

Those, evidently, are the ethics of The Wall Street Journal: if you publish radically inaccurate but incendiary accusations that are then proven totally false, don’t retract them or apologize for them: just pretend you’re “clarifying”.

Moreover, after devoting numerous tweets to publicly demanding that I disclose my compensation arrangement for the story I worked on with CBC, MacDonald acknowledged that I fully answered his questions, but repeatedly refused to disclose his own compensation. He first tried to justify that double standard this way:

@ggreenwald you campaign on transparency. I don’t. Again, my questions on you pay are valid given that and over moral positions you take
— Alistair MacDonald (@macdonaldajm) November 29, 2013

Apparently, MacDonald, though claiming to be a journalist, does not campaign for transparency. Isn’t that rather elemental to the job? He then justified his refusal to adhere to his own disclosure demands this way:

@ggreenwald all night, a few tweets? My salary has no bearing on my work, because my positioning is different to yours. All the best
— Alistair MacDonald (@macdonaldajm) November 29, 2013

The idea that journalists should be forced to disclose their compensation arrangements is moronic, but if you’re going to impose that demand on others, you don’t get to exempt yourself. So add that to the journalistic ethics of the Wall Street Journal: disclosure of compensation is for other journalists, but not for themselves.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37018.htm

George Galloway Talks to Syrian Nun, Mother Agnes

Video

Mother Agnes was invited to speak at a Stop the War conference in London on November 30. However after hearing that two other speakers scheduled to speak at the event – Owen Jones and Jeremy Scahill – were threatening to withdraw unless her invitation was rescinded by the organisers, Mother Agnes took the decision to withdraw from the conference of her own volition.

She has been demonized by her detractors as a ‘pro regime stooge’.

Posted November 30, 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37019.htm

Republicans Will Embrace Iran Diplomacy—If They’re Smart

By Patrick J. Buchanan

November 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – When, after the massacres at Newtown and the Washington Navy Yard, Republicans refused to outlaw the AR-15 rifle or require background checks for gun purchasers, we were told the party had committed suicide by defying 90 percent of the nation.

When Republicans rejected amnesty and a path to citizenship for illegal aliens, we were told the GOP had just forfeited its future.

When House Republicans refused to fund Obamacare, the government was shut down and the Tea Party was blamed, word went forth: The GOP has destroyed its brand. Republicans face a wipeout in 2014. It will take a generation to remove this mark of Cain.

Eight weeks later, Obama’s approval is below 40 percent. Most Americans find him untrustworthy. And the GOP is favored to hold the seats it has in the House while making gains in the Senate.

For this reversal of fortunes, Republicans can thank the rollout of Obamacare—the website that does not work, the revelation that, contrary to Obama’s promise, millions are losing health care plans that they liked, and the reports of soaring premiums and sinking benefits.

Democrats, however, might take comfort in the old maxim: If you don’t like the weather here, just wait a while.

For, egged on by Bibi Netanyahu and the Israeli Lobby AIPAC, the neocons are anticipating the return of Congress to start work on new sanctions on Iran. Should they succeed, they just might abort the Geneva talks or even torpedo the six-month deal with Iran.

While shaking a fist in the face of the Ayatollah will rally the Republican base, it does not appear to be a formula for winning the nation.

According to a Reuters/Ipsos poll from Tuesday, by 44-22 Americans approve of the deal NATO, Russia, and China cut with Tehran to freeze its nuclear program.

While two-thirds do not trust Iran when it says its program is not designed to build nuclear weapons, fully 65 percent believe “the United States should not become involved in any military action in the Middle East unless America is directly threatened.”

Only 21 percent disagree.

This is the nation that rose up last summer and told Obama it did not want to get involved in Syria’s civil war, and told Congress to deny Obama the authority to order air strikes—red line or no red line.

Even if the Iran deal collapses, 80 percent of Americans would favor a return to the sanctions regime and negotiations. Only 20 percent would support military action against Iran.

In summary, while Americans do not trust Iran, they do not want war with Iran. They want to test Iran. On this issue, Obama is in sync with his countrymen.

Why, looking at these numbers, would Republicans return to Washington with a full-metal-jacket ,”axis-of-evil” attitude, with John McCain becoming again the face of the party?

Why would Republicans return to Washington and throw away the winning hand that is Obamacare? It is ravaging the president’s reputation for competence and his credibility, and calling into question the core philosophy of the Democratic Party—that Big Government is America’s salvation.

Why would Republicans return to the bellicosity that cost the party both Houses in 2006 and the White House in 2008?

That 20 percent of the nation which favors war with Iran, in the event of a deal collapse or breakdown in the talks, is already in the GOP corral. If Republicans seek to broaden their base, why abandon Obamacare, where a majority agrees with them, for an issue, renewed hostility to Iran, where a majority disagrees?

Would it not be playing into Obama’s hand to allow him to assume the role of statesman, who, with “all options on the table,” is willing to negotiate with an enemy rather than take us to war with him?

Did not Eisenhower, Nixon and Reagan all go this same route?

If Bibi, AIPAC, the neocons, and their congressional allies should sabotage the negotiations or scuttle the existing or future deal with Iran, maneuvering us into a another war in the Middle East that America does not want, how do they think this will sit with the voters in 2016?

If Iran is deceiving us and is hell-bent on breaking out of this deal and making a dash to a bomb, we will know about it months if not years before Iran ever tests a device, let alone builds a bomb, miniaturizes it and marries it to a delivery system.

We would have more than enough notice to abort any test and neutralize Iran’s nuclear program. And the nation would unite behind action, were it seen that Iran had lied to us to buy time to build and test a bomb.

But if the Republican Party leads Congress in imposing new sanctions, and the Iranians walk out, and the NATO-Russia-China coalition breaks up, and a chance for peace in the Persian Gulf seems to have been thrown away, the GOP will pay the price. And rightly so.

Patrick J. Buchanan is the author of “Suicide of a Superpower: Will America Survive to 2025?” Copyright 2013 Creators.com.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37016.htm

François Hollande, Zionist Always

François Hollande was elected president by cultivating ambiguity. Yet it was easy enough to read his previous statements to see full support for the State of Israel. The change he had announced to his constituents has not occurred. On the contrary there has been continuity with his predecessor. We cannot but note that France has gradually abandoned its policy of independence to stand alongside the United States and the last colonial state.

By Thierry Meyssan

November 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – Some commentators have explained the French position in 5 +1 negotiations with Iran as dictated by Saudi Arabia, or through reference to the Jewishness of Hollande’s Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius. This ignores that French policy in the Middle East has profoundly changed in nine years.

It all started in 2004 with the break between Jacques Chirac and Bashar al-Assad. The Syrian President had promised his French counterpart to favour Total’s tender. But when the French proposal reached the palace, it was so disadvantageous for the country that the president changed his mind. Furious, Jacques Chirac broke with Syria and presented Resolution 1559 to the Security Council .

Then, the French elected Nicolas Sarkozy without knowing that he had been partially raised by one of the principal leaders of the CIA, Frank Wisner Jr. Not content with having been fabricated ​​by the United States, he discovered Jewish roots and cultivated his Israeli relations. International policy was dictated by Washington but because at the time there was no difference between Israel and the United States, he appeared only as being at one with them.

François Hollande had, for 10 years, been designated secretary general of his party because of his mediocrity: directing no current and not being vassal to any leader, he could keep house while maintaining a balance between the contenders at the Elysee. He devoted himself to never having a personal opinion, to remaining as transparent as possible. So much so that during his presidential election campaign each saw him as a moderate man who could surround himself with experienced personalities. His supporters have been the first to be hurt by this.

The reality of François Hollande emerged only once he arrived at the Elysee. Expert in domestic policy, he does not know much about international relations. In this area, his convictions come to him from illustrious socialist personalities.

Thus, he had placed his nomination under the auspices of Jules Ferry, colonization theorist. In Le Figaro, his friend, Israeli President Shimon Peres glowingly compared him to Léon Blum and to Guy Mollet, although the latter is no longer popular in France. In 1936, the former had proposed to surpass the UK by creating the State of Israel in Lebanon, which was then under French mandate. In 1956 the latter attempted to seize the Suez Canal with the help of the Israeli army.

During his ten years at the head of the Socialist Party, François Hollande limited his interventions on the Middle East, of which here is a brief anthology:
• In 2000, when southern Lebanon was occupied, he along with Bertrand Delanoe prepared plans for Prime Minister Lionel Jospin to travel to Palestine. His speech includes a condemnation of Hezbollah which he likens to a terrorist group.
• In 2001, he demanded the resignation of geopolitician Pascal Boniface, guilty of having written an internal memo criticizing blind Party support for Israel.
• In 2004, he wrote to the Superior Audiovisual Council to challenge the authorization given to broadcast Al -Manar. He continued pressure until the channel of resistance was censored.
• In 2005, he was hosted in camera by the Representative Council of Jewish Institutions in France (CRIF). According to the minutes of the meeting, he supported Ariel Sharon and strongly criticized Gaullist Arab policy. He stated: “There is a trend that goes way back, this is called the Arab policy of France and it is not acceptable that the government have an ideology. There is a recruitment problem at the Quai d’Orsay and at the ENA and this recruitment should be reorganized.”
• In 2006, he took a stand against President Ahmadinejad who invited rabbis and historians, including Holocaust deniers, to Tehran. It feins ignorance about the direction of the conference, which was to show that Europeans had replaced their Christian culture with the religion of the Holocaust. And against the grain, he explained that the Iranian president intended to deny the right of Israel to exist and was poised to continue the Holocaust.
• He mobilized for the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, on the grounds that he had French dual citizenship. No matter that the young man was captured while serving in an army of occupation at war against the Palestinian Authority, also an ally of France.
• In 2010, he, along with Bertrand Delanoe and Bernard-Henri Lévy, published an open forum in Le Monde to oppose the boycott of Israeli products. According to him, the boycott would amount to collective punishment imposed also on Israelis working for peace with the Palestinians. This is a line of reasoning that he had not held during the similar campaign against apartheid in South Africa.

Finally, before the Franco-Saudi rapprochement and even before being President, François Hollande had already expressed his support for the Israeli colonial state. And he had already condemned the Axis of Resistance (Iran , Syria, Hezbollah). The truth is thus the opposite: applying the Quincy Agreement, Saudi Arabia became closer to France because of its pro-Israel policy.

The policy of the Socialist Party in general and that of François Hollande in particular has its roots in nineteenth century colonialism, of which Jules Ferry was a herald and Theodor Herzl a promoter. Today , Zionists in the party have come together at the initiative of Dominique Strauss-Kahn in the discrete and powerful Léon Blum Circle… whose honorary president, Jean- Marc Ayrault has become Francois Hollande’s Prime Minister.

Thierry Meyssan : French intellectual, founder and chairman of Voltaire Network and the Axis for Peace Conference. His columns specializing in international relations feature in daily newspapers and weekly magazines in Arabic, Spanish and Russian. His last two books published in English : 9/11 the Big Lie and Pentagate.

Translation – Roger Lagassé – Source – Al-Watan (Syria)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37008.htm

‘The Near Future Of Iraq Is Dark’

Warning From Muqtada Al-Sadr – The Shia Cleric Whose Word Is Law To Millions Of His Countrymen 

In a rare interview at his headquarters in Najaf, he tells Patrick Cockburn of his fears for a nation growing ever more divided on sectarian lines.

By Patrick Cockburn

November 30, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Independent” – The future of Iraq as a united and independent country is endangered by sectarian Shia-Sunni hostility says Muqtada al-Sadr, the Shia religious leader whose Mehdi Army militia fought the US and British armies and who remains a powerful figure in Iraqi politics. He warns of the danger that “the Iraqi people will disintegrate, its government will disintegrate, and it will be easy for external powers to control the country”.

In an interview with The Independent in the holy city of Najaf, 100 miles south-west of Baghdad – the first interview Mr Sadr has given face-to-face with a Western journalist for almost 10 years – he expressed pessimism about the immediate prospects for Iraq, saying: “The near future is dark.”

Mr Sadr said he is most worried about sectarianism affecting Iraqis at street level, believing that “if it spreads among the people it will be difficult to fight”. He says he believes that standing against sectarianism has made him lose support among his followers.

Mr Sadr’s moderate stance is key at a moment when sectarian strife has been increasing in Iraq – some 200 Shia were killed in the past week alone. For 40 years, Mr Sadr and religious leaders from his family have set the political trend within the Shia community in Iraq. Their long-term resistance to Saddam Hussein and, later, their opposition to the US-led occupation had a crucial impact.

Mr Sadr has remained a leading influence in Iraq after an extraordinary career in which he has often come close to being killed. Several times, it appeared that the political movement he leads, the Sadrist Movement, would be crushed.

He was 25 in 1999 when his father, Mohammed Sadiq al-Sadr, a revered Shia leader, and Mr Sadr’s two brothers were assassinated by Saddam Hussein’s gunmen in Najaf. He just survived sharing a similar fate, remaining under house arrest in Najaf until 2003 when Saddam was overthrown by the US invasion. He and his followers became the most powerful force in many Shia parts of Iraq as enemies of the old regime, but also opposing the occupation. In 2004, his Mehdi Army fought two savage battles against American troops in Najaf, and in Basra it engaged in a prolonged guerrilla war against the British Army which saw the Mehdi Army take control of the city.

The Mehdi Army was seen by the Sunni community as playing a central role in the sectarian murder campaign that reached its height in 2006-7. Mr Sadr says that “people infiltrated the Mehdi Army and carried out these killings”, adding that if his militiamen were involved in the murder of Sunnis he would be the first person to denounce them.

For much of this period, Mr Sadr did not appear to have had full control of forces acting in his name; ultimately he stood them down. At the same time, the Mehdi Army was being driven from its old strongholds in Basra and Sadr City by the US Army and resurgent Iraqi government armed forces. Asked about the status of the Mehdi Army today, Mr Sadr says: “It is still there but it is frozen because the occupation is apparently over. If it comes back, they [the Mehdi Army militiamen] will come back.”

In the past five years, Mr Sadr has rebuilt his movement as one of the main players in Iraqi politics with a programme that is a mixture of Shia religion, populism and Iraqi nationalism. After a strong showing in the general election in 2010, it became part of the present government, with six seats in the cabinet. But Mr Sadr is highly critical of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki’s performance during his two terms in office, accusing his administration of being sectarian, corrupt and incompetent.

Speaking of Mr Maliki, with whom his relations are increasingly sour, Mr Sadr said that “maybe he is not the only person responsible for what is happening in Iraq, but he is the person in charge”. Asked if he expected Mr Maliki to continue as Prime Minister, he said: “I expect he is going to run for a third term, but I don’t want him to.”

Mr Sadr said he and other Iraqi leaders had tried to replace him in the past, but Mr Maliki had survived in office because of his support from foreign powers, notably the US and Iran. “What is really surprising is that America and Iran should decide on one person,” he said. “Maliki is strong because he is supported by the United States, Britain and Iran.”

Mr Sadr is particularly critical of the government’s handling of the Sunni minority, which lost power in 2003, implying they had been marginalised and their demands ignored. He thinks that the Iraqi government lost its chance to conciliate Sunni protesters in Iraq who started demonstrating last December, asking for greater civil rights and an end to persecution.

“My personal opinion is that it is too late now to address these [Sunni] demands when the government, which is seen as a Shia government by the demonstrators, failed to meet their demands,” he said. Asked how ordinary Shia, who make up the great majority of the thousand people a month being killed by al-Qa’ida bombs, should react, Mr Sadr said: “They should understand that they are not being attacked by Sunnis. They are being attacked by extremists, they are being attacked by external powers.”

As Mr Sadr sees it, the problem in Iraq is that Iraqis as a whole are traumatised by almost half a century in which there has been a “constant cycle of violence: Saddam, occupation, war after war, first Gulf war, then second Gulf war, then the occupation war, then the resistance – this would lead to a change in the psychology of Iraqis”. He explained that Iraqis make the mistake of trying to solve one problem by creating a worse one, such as getting the Americans to topple Saddam Hussein but then having the problem of the US occupation. He compared Iraqis to “somebody who found a mouse in his house, then he kept a cat, then he wanted to get the cat out of the house so he kept a dog, then to get the dog out of his house he bought an elephant, so he bought a mouse again”.

Asked about the best way for Iraqis to deal with the mouse, Mr Sadr said: “By using neither the cat nor the dog, but instead national unity, rejection of sectarianism, open-mindedness, having open ideas, rejection of extremism.”

A main theme of Mr Sadr’s approach is to bolster Iraq as an independent nation state, able to make decisions in its own interests. Hence his abiding hostility to the American and British occupation, holding this responsible for many of Iraq’s present ills. To this day, neither he nor anybody from his movement will meet American or British officials. But he is equally hostile to intervention by Iran in Iraqi affairs saying: “We refuse all kinds of interventions from external forces, whether such an intervention was in the interests of Iraqis or against their interests. The destiny of Iraqis should be decided by Iraqis themselves.”

This is a change of stance for a man who was once demonised by the US and Britain as a pawn of Iran. The strength of the Sadrist movement under Mr Sadr and his father – and its ability to withstand powerful enemies and shattering defeats – owes much to the fact it that it blends Shia revivalism with social activism and Iraqi nationalism.

Why are Iraqi government members so ineffective and corrupt? Mr Sadr believes that “they compete to take a share of the cake, rather than competing to serve their people”

Asked why the Kurdistan Regional Government had been more successful in terms of security and economic development than the rest of Iraq, Mr Sadr thought there was less stealing and corruption among the Kurds and maybe because “they love their ethnicity and their region”. If the government tried to marginalise them, they might ask for independence: “Mr Massoud Barzani [the KRG President] told me that ‘if Maliki pushes on me harder, we are going to ask for independence’.”

At the end of the interview Mr Sadr asked me if I was not frightened of interviewing him and would not this make the British Government consider me a terrorist? Secondly, he wondered if the British Government still considered that it had liberated the Iraqi people, and wondered if he should sue the Government on behalf of the casualties caused by the British occupation.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37012.htm

Obama Regime Kills More Children In Afghanistan

Another Proud Day For The USA

Video

Furious Afghan president says US drones have struck a home in Helmand, killing a small child and wounding two women.

President Hamid Karzai has condemned the drone strike as yet another example of US disregard for civilian life. The strike comes in the midst of a standoff between the Afghan government and the US over a security deal.

Posted November 29, 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37009.htm

Carl Sagan: The Earth Is Where We Make Our Stand

A sense of wonder

Video

“In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves. It is up to us.”

Look again at that dot. That’s here. That’s home. That’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there – on a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Posted November 30, 2013

The Earth is a very small stage in a vast cosmic arena. Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that, in glory and triumph, they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner, how frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds.

Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the Universe, are challenged by this point of pale light. Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity, in all this vastness, there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.

The Earth is the only world known so far to harbor life. There is nowhere else, at least in the near future, to which our species could migrate. Visit, yes. Settle, not yet. Like it or not, for the moment the Earth is where we make our stand.

It has been said that astronomy is a humbling and character-building experience. There is perhaps no better demonstration of the folly of human conceits than this distant image of our tiny world. To me, it underscores our responsibility to deal more kindly with one another, and to preserve and cherish only home we’ve ever known. The pale blue dot.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37015.htm

US Flyover in China-Japan Island Row – Will the Real Provocateur Please Stand Up?

By Nile Bowie

Global Research, November 29, 2013
RT Op-Edge 28 November 2013

Washington’s move to fly nuclear-capable bombers over China’s eastern air defense zone as a forceful endorsement of Japan’s claims over disputed islands is both needlessly confrontational and totally counterproductive.

The territorial dispute over an uninhabited chain of islands in the East China Sea – referred to as the Senkaku Islands by Japan and the Diaoyu Islands by China – has been a highly contentious issue in Sino-Japanese relations for decades, and the issue has resurfaced in recent times as both sides assert their sovereignty over the area.

Mass protests were seen in China targeting Japan’s embassy and Japanese products, shops and restaurants when Tokyo’s far-right former Governor Shintaro Ishihara called on Japan to use public money to buy the islands from private Japanese owners in 2012.

The issue stirs passions in Chinese society because Tokyo’s claims are seen as an extension of the brutal legacy of the Japanese occupation and a direct challenge to strong historical evidence that has legitimized Chinese sovereignty over the area since ancient times.

Moreover, the official stance of the government in Beijing is that Japan’s invalid claims over the islands were facilitated and legitimized by a backdoor-deal between Tokyo and Washington that directly challenges international law and post-World War II international treaties.

The right-wing government of Shinzo Abe in Japan has abandoned the passive approach to the issue taken by previous governments and has played on nationalist sentiments by asserting Tokyo’s firm position over the islands, which are internationally administered by Japan.

Chinese and Korean societies see Abe’s administration as whitewashing Japan’s history as a ruthless occupier and imperial power, and have lodged angry protests over his calls to revise Japan’s 1995 war apology and amend Article 9 of its pacifist constitution, which forbids Japan from having a standing army. China’s recent moves to introduce an air defense zone over the disputed islands have come as a response to months of aggressive Japanese military exercises in the area.

Beijing has denounced the presence of the Japanese navy in the region and Japan’s numerous threats to fire warning shots against Chinese planes that violate Japan’s air defense zone, which defiantly stretches only 130km from China’s mainland and includes the disputed islands. In addition to claims by Taiwan, both China and Japan have strengthened their rights over the islands due to significant oil and mineral resources that have yet to be exploited there.

Let history be the judge

Given legacies of both China and Japan as neighboring civilizations that morphed in modern nation-states, ancient history is sewn into conflicts like the Senkaku-Diaoyu dispute. The earliest historical records of the island being under China’s maritime jurisdiction date back to 1403 in texts prepared by imperial envoys of the Ming Dynasty; during the Qing Dynasty, the islands were placed under the jurisdiction of the local government of Taiwan province. Maps published throughout the 1800s in France, Britain, and the United States all recognize the Diaoyu Islands as a territory of China.

Japan eventually defeated the Qing Dynasty in the late 1800s during its expansionary campaigns in the region and strong-armed China into signing the humiliating Treaty of Shimonoseki that officially ceded Taiwan and surrounding islands, including the Diaoyu, which the Japanese renamed to ‘Senkaku Islands’in 1900. Following the defeat and surrender of Japan in World War II, international treaties such as the Cairo Declaration and the Potsdam Proclamation legally returned all territories stolen by Japan to pre-revolutionary China.

Beijing accuses US forces in post-war Japan of unilaterally and arbitrarily expanding its jurisdiction to include the Diaoyu Islands shortly after the Chinese revolution in the early 1950s, which were ‘returned’to Japan in the 1970s in the Okinawa Reversion Agreement, a move condemned by China and the US-allied Taiwan authorities.

Japan has argued since the 1970s that the Diaoyu was not part of the affiliated islands that were ceded to Japan by the Qing Dynasty (despite strong evidence to the contrary), and that the islands were placed under the administration of the United States following World War II and ‘returned’ to Japan. The view from Beijing, and especially from within the Xi Jinping administration, is that this case constitutes an illegal occupation of Chinese territory that seriously violates the obligations Japan should undertake according to international law.

Tokyo’s position on the issue really doesn’t hold water considering that 19th-century Japanese government documents available for viewing in Japan’s National Archives suggest that Japan clearly knew and recognized the Diaoyu Islands as Chinese territory.

Washington’s B-52 diplomacy

Beijing’s announcement of an air defense zone over the Diaoyu Islands would naturally be seen as controversial due to the dispute with Japan, and because Washington implicitly backs Tokyo’s claims, the US administration has taken to framing the issue so as to portray China as the hostile actor and principal belligerent.

China has defended its air defense declaration as an extension of its entitlement to uphold its national sovereignty and territorial integrity; Beijing has also pointed out how the US and Japan have established their own zones decades ago, which extend to the frontline borders of other countries in some cases. Beijing’s air defense declaration essentially asserts the right to identify, monitor and possibly take military action against any aircraft that enters the area, and despite the US backing Japan’s right to uphold a similar zone, the White House declared China’s moves “unnecessarily inflammatory.”

Just days after the Chinese government issued its defense declaration, the US military deployed two unarmed (nuclear-capable) B-52 bombers from its airbase in Guam that embarked on a 1500-mile flight into the Chinese air defense umbrella before turning back. The symbolic but forceful display by Washington is essentially the equivalent of the Pentagon giving the middle finger to the Chinese government.

The maneuver was apparently part of a ‘long-planned’ exercise, but the timing and the message sent a clearly hostile and deeply arrogant message to Beijing. China claims that it monitored the US bombers in the zone and took no action, and as Beijing exercises restraint, Tokyo and Washington openly stoke tensions and practice hypocritical double standards.

The United States and Japan both operate vast unilateral air defense zones, and yet Washington has the cheek to childishly reject the legitimate defensive claims of others.

To quote Xinhua columnist Wu Liming’s characterization of US-Japan policy, “Their logic is simple: they can do it while China cannot, which could be described with a Chinese saying, ‘the magistrates are free to burn down houses while the common people are forbidden even to light lamps.’”

The message derived from Washington’s actions perfectly illustrates the nature of the so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’, that even though America’s political representatives cannot be relied on to fulfill their long-planned appointments to visit the region, the Pentagon can always be relied on to deliver reminders that the US seeks hegemony in Asia.

The truth is that China and Japan have too much to lose as the second- and third-largest economies in the world to allow this issue to slide into a military confrontation, and cooler heads will likely prevent the latter scenario.

Given the contention around this dispute and the destabilizing effects it could have on the global economy if the situation were to deteriorate into a military conflict, it would be fundamental for the US to instead remain neutral and promote a peaceful compromise and settlement to this issue.

Beijing and Tokyo should both take their claims to the UN to settle this issue indefinitely if a mutual compromise to jointly develop the disputed region cannot be agreed upon.

Nile Bowie is a political analyst and photographer currently residing in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached on Twitter or at nilebowie@gmail.com 

http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-flyover-in-china-japan-island-row-will-the-real-provocateur-please-stand-up/5359848

The Story of Malala, and its Misuse for the Western Culture War

29.11.2013

 by Peter Baofu, Ph.D.

The Story of Malala, and its Misuse for the Western Culture War. 51647.png

The story of Malala Yousafzai, the 16 years old Pakistani activist for girls’ education, is tragic, not because she endured the assassination attempt by the Taliban in 2012, but because her historical narrative has been “misused” for the Western culture war around the world, especially (though not exclusively) as a propaganda tool of the West for the “war on terror” in the Muslim World (and beyond).

Right from its early beginning, the story of Malala was “framed” to promote Western soft power, especially in the Islamic world where innocent civilians die daily or weekly over the years (due to chronic Western military strikes) and authoritarian regimes remain in place (often with the ruthless support of Western powers).

For example, back in 2009, when Malala was only 12 years old, the BBC in the U.K. used the story of her life in the Swat Valley in Pakistan to depict the “oppressive” Taliban rule (in a blog under a pseudonym), at a time when the Western “war on terror” in the region killed a lot of people, often at a ratio of so many more innocent civilians for a few radical militants. Then, in 2010, the New York Times in the U.S. made a documentary about her life to further spread her story.

But this spread of her story against the Taliban led to the assassination attempt on her life by some Taliban gunmen on October 09, 2012, which encouraged the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle to call her “the most famous teenager in the world” (in January of 2013). Shortly after, the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown used his position as the United Nations Special Envoy for Global Education to launch a UN petition, using the slogan “I am Malala.” On April 29 of 2013, Time magazine in the U.S. featured her on the magazine’s front cover as one of “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.” On July 16 of 2013, Davis Guggenheim, the Oscar-winning director of Al Gore environmental documentary “An Inconvenient Truth,” announced his intention to make a film about Malala. In September of 2013, the Library of Birmingham in the UK invited her to officially open the library. On 16 October 2013, the Parliament of Canada offered Honorary Canadian citizenship to Malala. And her Western advocates nominated her for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize.

The list of Western hands above is solely illustrative, not exhaustive, of course. But the question here is: Why does the West promote her narrative in this zealous way? There are three main reasons for the narrative of Malala to increasingly become a propaganda tool of the West in the contemporary “war on terror” in the Muslim World (and beyond), as explained below.

(1) The Propagation of the Western Ideology of the Right to Education

In regard to the first reason, Malala is too young to understand the historical genealogy of human rights, especially in the context of the “right to education,” The very idea of the “right to education” is connected with the value of “equality” which became fashionable after World War II, when rights related to equality were covered by “the Universal Declaration of Human Rights,” “the International Covenant on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights,” and so on.

Precisely here, the discourse on the “right to education” is highly problematic (ideological). Since I already explain this in my new book “Beyond Human Resources to Post-Human Resources” (2013, forthcoming), let me introduce two main examples below for illustration.

First, these international documents were originally based on three Western legal constructions like “the United States Bill of Rights” (in the U.S.), “the Declaration of the Rights of Man and of the Citizen” (in France), and “the Magna Carta of 1215 and the Rights of Englishmen” (in the U.K.). But Faisal Kutty aptly reminded us that “the current formulation of international human rights constitutes a cultural structure in which Western society finds itself easily at home….It is important to acknowledge and appreciate that other societies may have equally valid alternative conceptions of human rights.”

Second, the “right to education” is not really a “right” at all (and is politically contingent on the financial resources of a community), because the critics like Maurice Cranston argued that “if one person has a right, others have a duty to respect that right, but governments lack the resources necessary to fulfill the duties” implied by these so-called “rights.” It is not surprising, therefore, that poor countries often have difficulties to provide free education for all.

In light of these criticisms, the Encyclopedia of Philosophy points out two main types of problems with the discourse on “human rights,” namely, “the one questioning universality of human rights and the one denying them objective ground.” Indeed, the contentious  debate on “the clash of civilizations” among American academics (and others elsewhere) since the 1990s further accentuates this cultural disagreement.

(2) The Glorification of Western Liberal Education

In regard to the second reason, Malala is also too young to understand the dual faces of Western liberal education. After all, the Western framing of the story of Malala is to portray the Taliban as “ignorant,” “backward,” “dogmatic,” and “provincial,” which is to contrast with the “superior” Western liberal style of learning for “free thinking,” which is presumed to be “progressive,” “non-dogmatic,” “liberating,” “cosmopolitan,” etc.

For instance, the American Association for the Advancement of Science defined “a liberal education” in this way: “Ideally, a liberal education produces persons who are open-minded and free from provincialism, dogma, preconception, and ideology….”

But Western liberal education for “free thinking” has its dark side often unsaid in Western mainstream media, in that, while Western liberal education is “liberating,” it is ruthlessly “deconstructive” in contributing to the profound spiritual crisis in the Western world of our time. The German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche once wrote the catchy words “God is dead” in the modern Western world, but with “the death of God” in the modern Western world, everything is now permitted, be it good or evil, in the intoxicating name of “freedom,” figuratively speaking of course. This may sound “liberating,” but to those cultures which are deeply religious (say, in the Muslim World), the very discourse on the “death of God” is deemed as spiritually “decadent” and secularly “offensive.”

In my two-volume book titled “The Future of Civilization” (2000) or FHC in short, I already showed that “what stands behind the formal rationalizing process is the critical spirit of science whose questioning, deconstructive power has undermined all human ideals (e.g., of the Enlightenment and its enemies alike, and perhaps most self-reflexively, its own ideal of scientific objectivity as well). Indeed, this is so,…for all human ideals of the different forces in the pre-moderns…, the moderns…,” and now the post-moderns too.

When put into the service of what I called “capitalist modernity” (in FHC) at the social level, “free thinking” in Western liberal education has actually created an intensely troublesome spiritual disquietude, and in the last few centuries, there were different versions of “capitalist modernity” within which different forces had further fought themselves out in the Western world, and it mattered little whether or not the ideals for which they fought stood for the Enlightenment or against it.

In fact, it is on this basis that there is a nascent debate on “the decline of Western civilization” in our time.

(3) The Justification of Western Killing in the Non-West

And in regard to the third reason, Malala is also too young to understand how much her story is increasingly “misused” as a justification of Western killing in the Non-West, like the “war on terror” in the Muslim world (and beyond).

The dark (destructive) side of Western liberal education shows up in the inhumane Western justification of killing innocent civilians in the Non-West (like all those endless drone strikes in Pakistan and elsewhere over the years) as the necessary “casualties of war” (or “collateral damages”) in the “war on terror” (against the “tyranny” of the Taliban and other “terrorists”), with neither moral outrage nor political protests among many ordinary Western citizens at home.

The very fact that many in Western societies show no moral outrage against drone strikes (with the subsequent death of so many innocent civilians in the Non-West during all these years) really reveals how much the system of Western liberal education has failed those it is supposed to educate; that is, it indicts the system of Western liberal education for failing to teach what the Association of American Colleges and Universities once referred to as “a philosophy of education that empowers individuals with broad knowledge and transferable skills, and a stronger sense of values, ethics, and civic engagement.”

But the continued use, with neither moral outrage nor political protests among many in the Western world, of drone strikes which have killed so many innocent civilians in Pakistan, or the use of military strikes which have killed so many ordinary folks in Iraq and Afghanistan in all these years, raises the thorny question concerning the extent to which there is something fundamentally wrong with the very foundation of Western liberal education.

This indictment remains, regardless of whether reason is argued to be “universal” or “relative.” On the one hand, if reason is “universal,” then the West cannot be immune from the moral outrage among many of those in the Non-West who have suffered from Western killing. On the other hand, if reason is “relative” instead, then the West cannot claim any objectivity of its so-called “moral high ground” when compared with the Non-West like the Taliban.

In any event, it is all the more disturbing for someone like President Barack Obama, who received his law degree from Harvard University and a Nobel Peace Prize laureate, to say about drone strikes in this cruel way: “I am really good at killing people,” as cited in a new book titled “Double Down: Game Change 2012” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, because President Obama told his aides that “he’s ‘really good at killing people,'” in a way to boast “about his proficiency in targeted assassinations,” as reported by CBS on November 03, 2013 (and also by other news networks in America).

After all, so many more drone strike deaths have occurred since Obama came to power, and therefore he now rightly earns the infamous title of the “drone strike” president, to the point that even “Christof Heyns, U.N. special rapporteur on extrajudicial summary or arbitrary executions,…has called on the Obama administration to justify its policy of assassinating…al Qaeda or Taliban suspects, increasingly with the use of unmanned drone aircraft that also take civilian lives,” especially “in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Somalia and Yemen, in addition to conventional raids and air strikes,” as reported by Stephanie Nebehay for Reuters on June 19, 2012.

Whether Malala herself enjoys all the attention given to her in the West or not, or whether she and her family are glad to receive all the prizes and money from her Western supporters or not (such that she will be free from poverty for the rest of her life in a way that many of her contemporaries cannot), is besides the point here. The more important point to remember is how much the life story of a young girl can be so tragically framed for the service of the Western culture war, while its consequences in the human world have yet to be properly understood in the broader historical perspective of countless deaths, unspoken sufferings, and spiritual disquietude hidden from public view.

In the end, it is not surprising that her recently released (polemic) book “I am Malala” (written on her behalf by the British journalist Christina Lamb, using the propagandistic slogan “I am Malala” advocated by the former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown) is now banned in her own country, or more correctly, by the All Pakistan Private Schools Federation in its 152,000 member institutions, by reason of its problematic hidden Western agendas.

Perhaps a nice way to end the story here is to remind us all that propaganda can smell good like perfume, but it is a mistake to swallow it.

Peter Baofu

__________

Dr. Peter Baofu is the author of 64 books, all of which provide a visionary challenge to all conventional wisdom in the social sciences, the formal sciences, the natural sciences, and the humanities, with the aim for a unified theory of everything-together with numerous visions of the mind, nature, society, and culture in future history. For more info about his vision about the future of education, see his books titled “Beyond Human Resources to Post-Human Resources” (2013, forthcoming), “The Future of Post-Human Education” (2011), “The Future of Capitalism and Democracy” (2002), and “The Future of Human Civilization” (2000). His email is.

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/29-11-2013/126274-malala_stroy-0/

Vast waste, profiteering in Pentagon operations

By Patrick Martin 

29 November 2013

According to reports by two major news organizations, the main payroll and accounting office of the Pentagon doles out tens of billions of dollars to contractors without any rigorous auditing or other financial controls, fueling a system of waste and profiteering.

Under conditions where politicians of both the Democratic and Republican parties claim there is “no money” to maintain even the inadequate level of social services currently provided by the federal government, the US military squanders vast sums in support of the global operations of American imperialism.

Reuters and McClatchy News Service both investigated the functioning of the Defense Finance and Accounting Service (DFAS), an agency created in its present form in 1991, when Dick Cheney was secretary of defense in the George H. W. Bush administration. This followed the decade-long buildup of military spending under Reagan and Bush, which culminated in embarrassing reports about $435 hammers and $37 screws, among other symbols of Pentagon waste.

The McClatchy account focuses mainly on a high-level overview of DFAS, noting that outside audits of its books were “shoddy,” according to internal reviews, while top officials at the Pentagon “pressured their accountants to suppress their findings, then backdated documents in what appears to have been an effort to conceal the critiques.”

The Pentagon’s Office of the Inspector General operated not as a watchdog, but as an accomplice, helping suppress internal criticism by its own accountants and authorizing payment of the outside auditor whose work was being questioned.

Citing emails and other documents, McClatchy reports a January 27, 2010 meeting at which Patricia A. Marsh, then the Pentagon’s assistant inspector general for financial management, told DFAS officials that her office was going to formally reject the 2009 outside audit.

Three months later, retaliation came. The two lead accountants for the inspector general’s review of the audit received letters terminating their assignments, retroactive to January 27, 2010. As McClatchy noted, this was “the precise point when the inspector general’s office had informed the Defense Finance and Accounting Service that it would not endorse the 2009 audit.”

In its investigative report, Reuters profiles the operation of the Cleveland office of DFAS, where accountants prepared monthly reports that amounted to “inserting phony numbers in the US Department of Defense’s accounts.”

Each month, the military services were required to square their books with accounts maintained by the US Treasury—in effect, balancing their checkbooks—regardless of whether the numbers actually coincided. The regular practice was to take “unsubstantiated change actions,” also called “plugs,” to make the books match up.

In 2010, the Cleveland office alone made more than $1 billion in such “plugs,” while in 2012, the Pentagon as a whole reported $9.22 billion in “reconciling amounts”—bookkeeping entries inserted to make military accounts match the Treasury’s—up from $7.41 billion in 2011.

According to a December 2011 Pentagon inspector general’s report, a DFAS office in Columbus, Ohio made at least $1.59 trillion in errors, including $538 billion in plugs, in financial reports for the Air Force in 2009. The nominal amount of the accounting errors far exceeded the total Pentagon budget.

While many of these errors were accounting entries only, some had significant real-world consequences. Reuters reported that the Army lost track of $5.8 billion in supplies during the eight years (2003-2011) when US troops were deployed in Iraq. Consequently, it continued to buy supplies from vendors that were already in stock, and could not monitor the depletion of supplies through theft or other diversion.

A key issue in this mismanagement is an information-processing system that almost makes the Obama administration’s healthcare.gov web site look state-of-the-art. There are at least 5,000 separate accounting and business systems in use throughout the US military and its supply chain, many of them running only on mainframe computers using languages like COBOL, which are obsolete and hardly understood by today’s programmers.

In recent years, the Pentagon has spent heavily on software and management systems in an attempt to overcome these systemic problems. These sums dwarf those expended for the implementation of the Obama administration’s health care web site, to even less effect. Many of the new systems have not been brought on line because they are incompatible with older systems or do not work as projected.

Overall, more than half a trillion dollars in contracts with outside vendors are unaudited out of $3 trillion issued over the past 10 years. There is no final accounting for $8.5 trillion in total military authorizations dating as far back as 1996.

Each year, top Pentagon officials, including the secretary of defense, certify the accuracy of financial reports to Congress and the Treasury that are so dubious that the CEO of a corporation would face prosecution under the Sarbanes-Oxley Act.

Unable to correct the problems, the Pentagon has simply shut its eyes, last year raising the threshold value for auditing contracts from $15 million to $250 million. This means a company can take a military contract for nearly a quarter of a billion dollars without being subject to an audit. This amounts to a license to steal for Corporate America

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/29/pent-n29.html

Spanish government strengthens anti-migrant border fence

By Vicky Short 

29 November 2013

The right wing Popular Party (PP) government of Spain has taken the decision to strengthen the border fence separating its enclave port city of Melilla from the rest of Morocco in North Africa. It will be covered with an anti-climbing mesh and topped with a new concertina razor-wire, designed to rip and grab onto clothing and flesh.

The original border fence was erected around Melilla and Ceuta—the other Spanish enclave in Morocco—in 2005 by the Socialist Party (PSOE) government. It consisted of 11 kilometres (6.8 miles) of parallel three-meter (10 feet) high fences with razor-wire, regular watch posts, CCTV, spotlights, noise and movement sensors, and a road running between them for police patrols. Over the years it has been heightened to six meters and satellites and unmanned drones introduced.

A year after its construction PSOE Prime Minister José Luis Zapatero promised to remove the razor-wire after scores of people suffered horrific injuries trying to climb over the fence. It was finally removed in 2007.

The PP government has decided to reinstate the razor-wire, regardless of the consequences. The stated intention is only to install it in vulnerable areas, but the government delegate in Melilla, Abdelmalik El Barkani, has made clear that if the police decide it is necessary, it will be installed along the whole 11 kilometres. El Barkani cynically stated, “I do not like that the concertina is there, I do not like that the fence is there, I do not like to have problems with illegal immigration, but what is clear is that there is a mandate that must be met by the Forces of State Security, and that is that the SSA [Sub-Saharan Africans] must fail to get in.”

Further horrific methods are being prepared. As the fence gets more dangerous to climb, migrant workers are attempting to reach Ceuta and Melilla by swimming along the coast. In order to prevent this, the Spanish government is planning to build a floating dock and fence that extends 200 meters into the sea with an underwater net to catch anyone attempting to dive under.

The reinstatement of the razor wire is being justified by the government on the basis that the number of people attempting to cross the border has doubled to 3,000 between January and mid-September this year, compared to 1,610 during the same period last year. A Moroccan NGO, the Rif Association of Human Rights, reports that about 40 migrants have been killed over the past two years.

The rise in migrant workers attempting the deadly crossing into Ceuta and Melilla is the result of the terrible conditions being created by the imperialist countries through intensification of predatory wars, repression, ethnic cleansing, civil wars, hunger and poverty. There has been a marked increase in the number of migrants from Syria, Egypt, Tunisia and Mali.

More and more people are forced to risk their lives in a struggle to survive. Hundreds have died of thirst in the desert that surrounds the enclaves, drowning in the sea after their overcrowded, rickety boats capsize and being shot at by border guards. Most of those who successfully cross the borders are then apprehended, put in overcrowded detention centres and eventually deported back to their places of origin where they are often detained again and tortured.

Melilla and Ceuta are the European Union’s only land borders with Africa. It relies on the Spanish government to ensure it patrols effectively to prevent people from immigrating to the rest of Europe. For this purpose Spain works in close collaboration with the European Agency for the Management of Operational Cooperation at the External Borders of the Member States of the European Union (Frontex), which was established in 2004.

Frontex held a conference this October in Warsaw that gathered 200 people and speakers from all over the world. In addition to the EU member nations, speakers came from countries as diverse as Israel, Australia, New Zealand, Hong Kong, Canada, United States, United Kingdom, Georgia and Rwanda. The conference also included a Biometric Examiner from the Police Forensics of Interpol.

The Frontex conference is just one example of how immigration controls and the search for ever-more sophisticated and repressive measures to enforce them have become a global business, as well as a global operation. The main purpose is to divide the working class at a time when the internationalisation of their struggles becomes an essential question. It is used to blame workers from other countries for the crisis of capitalism as it is expressed in each country.

The response by the PSOE and the Stalinist Communist Party-aligned Izquierda Unida (IU) to the PP government restoration of the razor-wire has been to say that what is needed are more patrol agents instead.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/29/morr-n29.html

UK Prime Minister Cameron plays the anti-immigrant card

By Robert Stevens 

29 November 2013

Prime Minister David Cameron announced a raft of anti-immigrant measures this week in advance of new European Union rules coming into effect that will end restrictions on Bulgarians and Romanians entering the UK.

New migrants will not receive unemployment benefits for the first three months of their stay, and out-of-work welfare payments will end after six months, unless the claimant can prove he or she has a “genuine prospect” of a job.

New migrants will not be allowed to claim housing benefits immediately, and any migrant caught begging or sleeping rough will be deported and not allowed to return to the UK for a year.

Migrants wishing to claim benefits will be subjected to more restrictions, including a new minimum earnings threshold. Failure to meet the requirements will result in the removal of welfare benefits, including Income Support.

The Liberal Democrats, the coalition partners of the Conservatives, are signed up to Cameron’s proposals. Liberal leader and Deputy Prime Mister Nick Clegg said he was a “whole hearted supporter” of the measures. Clegg added that the freedom to move and work in the EU “isn’t a freedom to receive benefits, no questions asked.” He added, “The right to work is not an automatic right to claim [benefits].”

To coincide with his announcement, Cameron published an article in theFinancial Times entitled “Free movement within Europe needs to be less free.” In the piece, he denounced the then-Labour government for committing a “monumental mistake” in 2004 by deciding that “the UK should opt out completely of transitional controls on the new EU member states.” He continued: “They had the right to impose a seven-year ban before new citizens could come and work here, but—almost alone in Europe—Labour refused it.”

Cameron is kicking at an open door. Jack Straw, Labour’s former home secretary, has already stated that his 1997-2010 government had made a “spectacular mistake” by allowing migrants into the UK from new EU countries such as Poland.

Cameron was also able to cynically exploit comments by another former Labour Party home secretary, David Blunkett, who stated: “We have got to change the behaviour and the culture of the incoming community, the Roma community, because there’s going to be an explosion otherwise. We all know that.”

In response to Cameron, Labour’s current shadow home secretary, Yvette Cooper, declared that the prime minister was merely “playing catch-up.”

“Why has it taken him eight months to copy Labour’s proposal to make the habitual residence test stronger and clearer,” she asked?

“After Labour proposed this change in March,” she continued, “the government said it was all fine and nothing needed to change. Yet now, rather than following a coherent plan, they are flailing around.”

Cameron suffered a mild rebuke from European Commission President José Manuel Barroso, who said the two had spoken by telephone. “I had the occasion to underline to [him] that free movement is a fundamental treaty principle that must be upheld,” he said.

However, Cameron was able to advance his proposals as a continuation and elaboration on measures carried out or proposed by other EU states. This week, Germany’s new Christian Democratic/Social Democratic coalition committed to a crackdown on migrants for “unjust claims of social security benefits.” The French Socialist Party government also called for tighter controls on temporary cross-border workers.

In his Financial Times article, Cameron declared, “It is time for a new settlement which recognises that free movement is a central principle of the EU, but it cannot be a completely unqualified one. We are not the only country to see free movement as a qualified right: interior ministers from Austria, Germany and the Netherlands have also said this to the European Commission.”

“Britain is not acting alone in taking these steps,” he continued. “Other countries such as the Netherlands already impose a three-month residence requirement before you can access benefits such as job seekers’ allowance.”

Saying he would work with other EU states “to return the concept of free movement to a more sensible basis,” he added, “We need to do the same with welfare. For example, free movement should not be about exporting child benefit.”

Cameron’s measures were greeted with rapture by the most right-wing sections of the British media, with the Daily Express stating, “At last, David Cameron reveals a crackdown on new EU migrants.”

“Britain cannot take a new wave of EU immigration,” the newspaper declared, hailing the “excellent turnout of Conservative MPs who are backing our objective with an amendment to the Immigration Bill currently before the House of Commons. That amendment would ensure controls remain in place at least until 2018.”

United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) leader Nigel Farage goaded Cameron, saying his proposals did not go far enough. “It doesn’t sound very tough to me,” he said. “Under his proposal somebody can come here on January 1 from Romania and within 12 weeks be entitled to unemployment benefit. I think that’s outrageous.”

Cameron’s announcements were in no small part aimed at appeasing supporters of the anti-immigrant, anti-European Union UKIP among Conservative backbenchers and the Tory Party at large. In recent elections, the Conservatives have haemorrhaged support to UKIP.

It is inevitable that further anti-immigrant measures will be announced. Following a government statement on immigration Thursday from Home Secretary Teresa May, a succession of Conservative MPs demanded that restrictions on immigration, as demanded by Farage, be imposed.

Tory MP Philip Hollobone stated, “This country is full,” adding, “Yes, this country will be taken to court, but it will be a signal of firm intent about our renegotiation of the EU treaties, and by the time it comes to court, hopefully, we will have had our referendum [on exiting the EU] and left this wretched organisation altogether.”

An amendment to extend the controls on Bulgarian and Romanian entry to the UK has been put forward by Tory MP Peter Bone. Some 40 Tory MPs are estimated to be in favour of the measure. Bone said in the debate that followed May’s statement: “The only way you will deal with this problem of stopping thousands and thousands of people coming from Romania and Bulgaria is extended transitional arrangements.”

Another Tory, Charles Walker, demanded of May, “I ask you to find your inner lion or tiger and extend transitional controls until 2019. You should take the hit and not pay the EU fine.”

The pronouncements of the Tories, the Liberal Democrats and Labour, echoed in the front page and comment sections of an increasingly hysterical media, are designed to whip up anti-immigrant sentiment and foist the blame on them for the consequences of cuts that are destroying essential social services and welfare and driving millions into poverty.

The BBC published figures Thursday showing that of 5.5 million people who claimed out-of-work benefits this February, just 120,000 were nationals of other EU countries.

According to a Guardian report, between 2004 and 2011, 1.32 million migrants arrived in the UK, but 644,000 people who were born in the EU left in those years. In 2011, the UK took in 566,044 EU nationals, but 350,703 EU nationals emigrated.

There are almost twice as many migrants to the UK from non-EU countries as from the EU, and the vast majority of these work or study. Most migrants want to work and leave if they cannot find work.

In contrast to the claim that Britain will be flooded by migrants from Romania and Bulgaria, the Home Office predicts that just 5,000 to 13,000 nationals will arrive annually from all of the European Union’s new member-states after enlargement.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/29/came-n29.html

German grand coalition to intensify austerity policies in Europe

29 November 2013

An important political lesson must be drawn from the coalition agreement struck after two months of negotiations between Germany’s conservative parties (the Christian Democratic Union and the Christian Social Union) and the Social Democratic Party: It is impossible for working people to defend their interests within the framework of the existing parties and political system.

Key passages of the agreement, to be found in its “Strong Europe” section, have barely been discussed by the media, largely because the coalition partners were agreed on them from the outset. These passages confirm that the coalition parties are committed to continuing a course that has led to a social disaster virtually without precedent in peacetime.

The Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Christian Social Union (CSU) and Social Democratic Party (SPD) have agreed to drive ahead with austerity policies that have wrought indescribable misery in Greece, Spain, Portugal and other countries, with unemployment soaring to record levels, an entire generation of youth robbed of a future, and millions of livelihoods destroyed.

Most of the 185-page coalition agreement is characterized by vague formulations, but on this issue the document is crystal clear. “The policy of fiscal consolidation must be continued,” it states. The agreement goes on to declare that “structural reforms to increase competitiveness” and “strict, sustained fiscal consolidation” are indispensable preconditions for “exiting the crisis.”

The agreement rejects “any form of pooling sovereign debt” and rules out joint government bonds (euro bonds) and other mechanisms that could reduce the interest burden of indebted countries. Emergency loans from European financial funds must continue to be tied to draconian austerity measures. They must be granted only “as a last resort,” and in “exchange for strict conditions, i.e., reforms and consolidation measures, by the recipient countries.”

To ensure that there be no let-up in the pressure on indebted countries, the deal calls for an expansion of the “surveillance of national budgetary planning by the EU Commission.”

In plain English, this means intensifying the policy of social impoverishment with which the German chancellor is associated across large swathes of Europe, including in Germany itself.

Big business will use the fall of incomes in southern and eastern Europe as a lever to further cut wages in Germany, which already has a huge low-wage sector.

The legal minimum wage agreed between the coalition partners will do nothing to change this. On the contrary, fixed at a level of just 8.50 euros and due to come fully into force only in 2017 and not increase until 2018, the minimum wage will depress the general level of wages.

The representatives of the incoming government are well aware that their policies will provoke intense social conflict. In preparation for this, the conservative parties and the SPD have not limited themselves to a grand coalition controlling four-fifths of parliamentary seats. They have also brought the trade unions, the Greens and the Left Party on board.

The unions support the coalition agreement unconditionally. The chairman of the Federation of German Trade Unions (DGB), Michael Sommer, called it “extremely positive.” The head of the EVG rail union, Alexander Kirchner, declared that he would vote in favor.

Last weekend, 500 delegates at a congress of the IG Metall engineering union cheered CDU leader Angela Merkel and SPD leader Sigmar Gabriel. The latter assured the meeting that he would not sign anything with which the unions were dissatisfied.

The Green Party had already made clear in preliminary talks that it was prepared to form a ruling coalition with the conservative “union” parties. By opting to form a coalition with the CDU in the state of Hesse, the Greens have signaled that they are ready to step in as a replacement if the alliance with the SPD falls apart. The party’s criticism of the coalition agreement comes from the right: it complains that too much money is being allotted for benefits for retired mothers. The coalition document stipulates that the retirement income of women who bore a child before 1992 be increased by 28 euros a month.

The Left Party backs the coalition agreement as well, only not as transparently as the Greens. It has its own close links with the trade unions and used its election campaign to argue for its inclusion in a coalition with the SPD and the Greens. It justified this line by declaring that the SPD could realize its own program only in an alliance with the Left Party. Even now, Left Party leader Gregor Gysi complains that the SPD election program can be found in the coalition agreement “at best as a side note.”

The reality is that the coalition agreement is the SPD’s program. There can be no doubt on this score since the introduction of the anti-welfare Agenda 2010 program by SPD Chancellor Gerhard Schröder over a decade ago.

The choice of Peer Steinbrück, finance minister in the previous grand coalition government (2005 to 2009), as the SPD’s lead candidate in the 2013 election confirmed that the SPD unconditionally represents the interests of big business and finance. It was the figure of Steinbrück, rather than hollow campaign promises, that embodied the SPD’s electoral program.

The offer of the Left Party to enter a coalition with the SPD makes clear that it has no fundamental differences with the social democrats’ right-wing policies. It is significant that while the Left Party’s initial comment on the coalition agreement criticizes some of its secondary aspects, it does not mention the continuation of austerity in Europe. In a number of state governments and local councils, the Left Party has proven in practice that it fully supports such policies by ruthlessly imposing them on the people.

In the coming social conflicts, workers will face not only the grand coalition, but a conspiratorial clique consisting of all of the parliamentary parties and the trade unions. These forces will do everything they can to neutralize and suppress any and all social resistance.

In the struggles ahead, the working class needs its own party—one that unconditionally defends its interests and unites the working class throughout Europe in the struggle for a socialist society. That party is the Socialist Equality Party (Partei für Soziale Gleichheit—PSG), the German section of the International Committee of the Fourth International.

Peter Schwarz

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/29/pers-n29.html

9/11 – Investigating The Role of the Saudi Government

Video – TheRealNews

Paul Jay asks Senator Graham if a culture of “not wanting to know” was created to prevent the conspiracy from being uncovered and to protect the role of the Saudi government.

Posted November 28, 2013

http://therealnews.com/t2/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=731

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37006.htm

John Perkins : The Economic Hitmen

Video

A great illustration on how corporations take control of countries, and how capitalism drives the expansion of the Military Industrial Complex. Made by Studio Joho who have allowed me to upload their video. Check out their website – http://www.studiojoho.com

Posted November 28, 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36999.htm

Discovering the Power of People’s History – and Why it is Feared Today

By John Pilger

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – England is two countries. One is dominated by London, the other remains in its shadow. When I first arrived from Australia, it seemed no one went north of Watford and those who had emigrated from the north worked hard to change their accents and obscure their origins and learn the mannerisms and codes of the southern comfortable classes. Some would mock the life they had left behind. They were changing classes, or so they thought.

When the Daily Mirror sent me to report from the north in the 1960s, my colleagues in London had fun with my naïve antipodean banishment to their equivalent of Siberia. True, it was the worst winter for 200 years and I had never worn a scarf or owned a coat. Try to imagine what it is like in darkest Leeds and Hull, they warned.

This was a time when working people in England were said to be “speaking out”, even “taking over”. Realist films were being made, and  accents that had not been welcome in the broadcast media and sections of the entertainment business were now apparently in demand, though often as caricatures.

During that first drive north, when I stopped for petrol, I failed to understand what the man said; within weeks, what the people were seemed perfectly clear. They were another nation with a different history, different loyalties, different humour, even different values. At the heart of this was the politics of class. Crossing the Pennines, the Empire dropped away. The imperial passions of the south barely flickered. On Merseyside and Tyneside, apart from the usual notables, no one gave a damn for royalty. There was the all-for-one-and-one-for-all of a wagons-drawn working class society – unless, as was made painfully clear in later years, you happened to be black or brown. That solidarity was, for me, the story, as if it was the missing chapter in England’s political heritage, a people’s history of modern times, suppressed by Thatcher and Blair and still feared by their echoes.

I had already glimpsed the power of this solidarity in the place where my parents had grown up and I knew as a boy: the mining region of the Hunter Valley in New South Wales. Here, whole collieries had shipped out from Yorkshire, Tyneside and Durham. “Watch them; they’re communists,” I heard someone say. They were fighters for working class decency: proper pay, safety and solidarity. The Welsh were the same. They brought with them the pain and suffering and anger of those who had industralised the world and gained little but the resilient comfort of each other.

The Mirror published my reports of working lives: miners working in three foot shafts, steelworkers in unimaginable heat. I would find a street, virtually any street, and knock on doors. What intrigued me then was that such human warmth and forbearance could survive the treadmill of northern cities. Moreover, the great radical tradition of resistance in the north – from the cotton workers of the 19th century to the Great Miners’ Strike of 1984-5 – always threatened the game known in London as “the consensus”.

This was the nod-and-wink arrangement between Labour and Tory governments and the five per cent who owned half the wealth of all of the United Kingdom. The Labour MP turned media man, Brian Walden, described how it worked. “The two front benches [in Parliament] liked each other and disliked their back benches,” he wrote. “We were children of the famous consensus… turning the opposition into government made little difference, for we believed much the same things.”

My second film for television, made for Granada TV in Manchester, was called ‘Conversations with a Working Man‘.. It was the story of Jack Walker, a dyehouse worker from Keighley in Yorkshire whose job was monotonous, filthy and injurious to his health, yet he derived a pride from “doing it well”. Jack believed passionately that working people should stand together. That an articulate trade unionist was allowed to express his views without intrusion by those who often claimed to speak for him, and to worry out loud about the stitched-up democracy in Westminster, was beyond the pale. The term “working class”, I was told, had “political implications” and would not be acceptable to the Independent Television Authority. It would have to be changed to “working heritage”. Then there was the problem of the term “the people”. This was a “Marxist expression” and also had to go. And what was this “consensus”? Surely, Britain had a vibrant two-party system.

When I read recently that 600,000 Greater Manchester residents were “experiencing the effects of extreme poverty” and that 1.6 million were slipping into penury, I was reminded how the political consensus was unchanged. Now led by the southern squirearchy of David Cameron, George Osborne and their fellow Etonians, the only change is the rise of Labour’s corporate management class, exemplified by Ed Miliband’s support for “austerity” – the new jargon for imposed poverty.

In Clara Street in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, in the wintry dark of early morning, I walked down the hill with people who worked more than sixty hours a week for a pittance. They described their “gains” as the Health Service. They had seen only one politician in the street, a Liberal who came and put up posters and said something inaudible from his Land Rover and sped away. The Westminster mantra then was “paying our way as a nation” and “productivity”. Today, their places of work, and their trade union protection, always tenuous, have gone. “What’s wrong,” a Clara Street man told me, “is the thing the politicians don’t want to talk about any more. It’s governments not caring how we live, because we’re not part of their country.”

This article was first published in the New Statesman, UK – Follow John Pilger on twitter @johnpilger

John Pilger – Conversations with a Working Man [1971]

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36998.htm

The 1% Are The Very Best Destroyers Of Wealth The World Has Ever Seen

Our common treasury in the last 30 years has been captured by industrial psychopaths. That’s why we’re nearly bankrupt

By George Monbiot

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” – If wealth was the inevitable result of hard work and enterprise, every woman in Africa would be a millionaire. The claims that the ultra-rich 1% make for themselves – that they are possessed of unique intelligence or creativity or drive – are examples of the self-attribution fallacy. This means crediting yourself with outcomes for which you weren’t responsible. Many of those who are rich today got there because they were able to capture certain jobs. This capture owes less to talent and intelligence than to a combination of the ruthless exploitation of others and accidents of birth, as such jobs are taken disproportionately by people born in certain places and into certain classes.

The findings of the psychologist Daniel Kahneman, winner of a Nobel economics prize, are devastating to the beliefs that financial high-fliers entertain about themselves. He discovered that their apparent success is a cognitive illusion. For example, he studied the results achieved by 25 wealth advisers across eight years. He found that the consistency of their performance was zero. “The results resembled what you would expect from a dice-rolling contest, not a game of skill.” Those who received the biggest bonuses had simply got lucky.

Such results have been widely replicated. They show that traders and fund managers throughout Wall Street receive their massive remuneration for doing no better than would a chimpanzee flipping a coin. When Kahneman tried to point this out, they blanked him. “The illusion of skill … is deeply ingrained in their culture.”

So much for the financial sector and its super-educated analysts. As for other kinds of business, you tell me. Is your boss possessed of judgment, vision and management skills superior to those of anyone else in the firm, or did he or she get there through bluff, bullshit and bullying?

In a study published by the journal Psychology, Crime and Law, Belinda Board and Katarina Fritzon tested 39 senior managers and chief executives from leading British businesses. They compared the results to the same tests on patients at Broadmoor special hospital, where people who have been convicted of serious crimes are incarcerated. On certain indicators of psychopathy, the bosses’s scores either matched or exceeded those of the patients. In fact, on these criteria, they beat even the subset of patients who had been diagnosed with psychopathic personality disorders.

The psychopathic traits on which the bosses scored so highly, Board and Fritzon point out, closely resemble the characteristics that companies look for. Those who have these traits often possess great skill in flattering and manipulating powerful people. Egocentricity, a strong sense of entitlement, a readiness to exploit others and a lack of empathy and conscience are also unlikely to damage their prospects in many corporations.

In their book Snakes in Suits, Paul Babiak and Robert Hare point out that as the old corporate bureaucracies have been replaced by flexible, ever-changing structures, and as team players are deemed less valuable than competitive risk-takers, psychopathic traits are more likely to be selected and rewarded. Reading their work, it seems to me that if you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a poor family, you’re likely to go to prison. If you have psychopathic tendencies and are born to a rich family, you’re likely to go to business school.

This is not to suggest that all executives are psychopaths. It is to suggest that the economy has been rewarding the wrong skills. As the bosses have shaken off the trade unions and captured both regulators and tax authorities, the distinction between the productive and rentier upper classes has broken down. Chief executives now behave like dukes, extracting from their financial estates sums out of all proportion to the work they do or the value they generate, sums that sometimes exhaust the businesses they parasitise. They are no more deserving of the share of wealth they’ve captured than oil sheikhs.

The rest of us are invited, by governments and by fawning interviews in the press, to subscribe to their myth of election: the belief that they are possessed of superhuman talents. The very rich are often described as wealth creators. But they have preyed on the earth’s natural wealth and their workers’ labour and creativity, impoverishing both people and planet. Now they have almost bankrupted us. The wealth creators of neoliberal mythology are some of the most effective wealth destroyers the world has ever seen.

What has happened over the past 30 years is the capture of the world’s common treasury by a handful of people, assisted by neoliberal policies which were first imposed on rich nations by Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan. I am now going to bombard you with figures. I’m sorry about that, but these numbers need to be tattooed on our minds. Between 1947 and 1979, productivity in the US rose by 119%, while the income of the bottom fifth of the population rose by 122%. But from 1979 to 2009, productivity rose by 80%, while the income of the bottom fifth fell by 4%. In roughly the same period, the income of the top 1% rose by 270%.

In the UK, the money earned by the poorest tenth fell by 12% between 1999 and 2009, while the money made by the richest 10th rose by 37%. The Gini coefficient, which measures income inequality, climbed in this country from 26 in 1979 to 40 in 2009.

In his book The Haves and the Have Nots, Branko Milanovic tries to discover who was the richest person who has ever lived. Beginning with the loaded Roman triumvir Marcus Crassus, he measures wealth according to the quantity of his compatriots’ labour a rich man could buy. It appears that the richest man to have lived in the past 2,000 years is alive today. Carlos Slim could buy the labour of 440,000 average Mexicans. This makes him 14 times as rich as Crassus, nine times as rich as Carnegie and four times as rich as Rockefeller.

Until recently, we were mesmerised by the bosses’ self-attribution. Their acolytes, in academia, the media, thinktanks and government, created an extensive infrastructure of junk economics and flattery to justify their seizure of other people’s wealth. So immersed in this nonsense did we become that we seldom challenged its veracity.

This is now changing. On Sunday evening I witnessed a remarkable thing: a debate on the steps of St Paul’s Cathedral between Stuart Fraser, chairman of the Corporation of the City of London, another official from the corporation, the turbulent priest Father William Taylor, John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network and the people of Occupy London. It had something of the flavour of the Putney debates of 1647. For the first time in decades – and all credit to the corporation officials for turning up – financial power was obliged to answer directly to the people.

It felt like history being made. The undeserving rich are now in the frame, and the rest of us want our money back.

A fully referenced version of this article can be found at http://www.monbiot.com/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37003.htm

The End of American Thanksgivings: A Cause for Universal Rejoicing

“The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human…. The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own depravity, and savagery in their most helpless victims, who can only redeem themselves by accepting the inherent goodness of white Americans.”

By Glen Ford

“It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.”

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “BAR” – Nobody but Americans celebrates Thanksgiving. (Canadians have a holiday by the same name, but an entirely different history and political import.) It is reserved by history and the intent of “the founders” as the supremely white American holiday, the most ghoulish event on the national calendar. No Halloween of the imagination can rival the exterminationist reality that was the genesis, and remains the legacy, of the American Thanksgiving. It is the most loathsome, humanity-insulting day of the year – a pure glorification of racist barbarity.

We are thankful that the day grows nearer when the almost four centuries-old abomination will be deprived of its reason for being: white supremacy. Then we may all eat and drink in peace and gratitude for the blessings of humanity’s deliverance from the rule of evil men.

Thanksgiving is much more than a lie – if it were that simple, an historical correction of the record of events in 1600s Massachusetts would suffice to purge the “flaw” in the national mythology. But Thanksgiving is not just a twisted fable, and the mythology it nurtures is itself inherently evil. The real-life events – subsequently revised – were perfectly understood at the time as the first, definitive triumphs of the genocidal European project in New England. The near-erasure of Native Americans in Massachusetts and, soon thereafter, from most of the remainder of the northern English colonial seaboard was the true mission of the Pilgrim enterprise – Act One of the American Dream. African Slavery commenced contemporaneously – an overlapping and ultimately inseparable Act Two.

The last Act in the American drama must be the “root and branch” eradication of all vestiges of Act One and Two – America’s seminal crimes and formative projects. Thanksgiving as presently celebrated – that is, as a national political event – is an affront to civilization.

Celebrating the unspeakable

White America embraced Thanksgiving because a majority of that population glories in the fruits, if not the unpleasant details, of genocide and slavery and feels, on the whole, good about their heritage: a cornucopia of privilege and national power. Children are taught to identify with the good fortune of the Pilgrims. It does not much matter that the Native American and African holocausts that flowed from the feast at Plymouth are hidden from the children’s version of the story – kids learn soon enough that Indians were made scarce and Africans became enslaved. But they will also never forget the core message of the holiday: that the Pilgrims were good people, who could not have purposely set such evil in motion. Just as the first Thanksgivings marked the consolidation of the English toehold in what became the United States, the core ideological content of the holiday serves to validate all that has since occurred on these shores – a national consecration of the unspeakable, a balm and benediction for the victors, a blessing of the fruits of murder and kidnapping, and an implicit obligation to continue the seamless historical project in the present day.

The Thanksgiving story is an absolution of the Pilgrims, whose brutal quest for absolute power in the New World is made to seem both religiously motivated and eminently human. Most importantly, the Pilgrims are depicted as victims – of harsh weather and their own naïve yet wholesome visions of a new beginning. In light of this carefully nurtured fable, whatever happened to the Indians, from Plymouth to California and beyond, in the aftermath of the 1621 dinner must be considered a mistake, the result of misunderstandings – at worst, a series of lamentable tragedies. The story provides the essential first frame of the American saga. It is unalloyed racist propaganda, a tale that endures because it served the purposes of a succession of the Pilgrims’ political heirs, in much the same way that Nazi-enhanced mythology of a glorious Aryan/German past advanced another murderous, expansionist mission.

Thanksgiving is quite dangerous – as were the Pilgrims.

Rejoicing in a cemetery

The English settlers, their ostensibly religious venture backed by a trading company, were glad to discover that they had landed in a virtual cemetery in 1620. Corn still sprouted in the abandoned fields of the Wampanoags [2], but only a remnant of the local population remained around the fabled Rock. In a letter to England, Massachusetts Bay colony founder John Winthrop wrote, “But for the natives in these parts, God hath so pursued them, as for 300 miles space the greatest part of them are swept away by smallpox which still continues among them. So as God hath thereby cleared our title to this place, those who remain in these parts, being in all not 50, have put themselves under our protection.”

Ever diligent to claim their own advantages as God’s will, the Pilgrims thanked their deity for having “pursued” the Indians to mass death. However, it was not divine intervention that wiped out most of the natives around the village of Patuxet but, most likely, smallpox-embedded blankets planted during an English visit or slave raid. Six years before the Pilgrim landing, a ship sailed into Patuxet’s harbor, captained by none other than the famous seaman and mercenary soldier John Smith [3], former leader of the first successful English colony in the New World, at Jamestown, Virginia. Epidemic and slavery followed in his wake, as Debra Glidden described in IMDiversity.com [4]:

In 1614 the Plymouth Company of England, a joint stock company, hired Captain John Smith to explore land in its behalf. Along what is now the coast of Massachusetts in the territory of the Wampanoag, Smith visited the town of Patuxet according to “The Colonial Horizon,” a 1969 book edited by William Goetzinan. Smith renamed the town Plymouth in honor of his employers, but the Wampanoag who inhabited the town continued to call it Patuxet.

The following year Captain Hunt, an English slave trader, arrived at Patuxet. It was common practice for explorers to capture Indians, take them to Europe and sell them into slavery for 220 shillings apiece. That practice was described in a 1622 account of happenings entitled “A Declaration of the State of the Colony and Affairs in Virginia,” written by Edward Waterhouse. True to the explorer tradition, Hunt kidnapped a number of Wampanoags to sell into slavery.

Another common practice among European explorers was to give “smallpox blankets” to the Indians. Since smallpox was unknown on this continent prior to the arrival of the Europeans, Native Americans did not have any natural immunity to the disease so smallpox would effectively wipe out entire villages with very little effort required by the Europeans. William Fenton describes how Europeans decimated Native American villages in his 1957 work “American Indian and White relations to 1830.” From 1615 to 1619 smallpox ran rampant among the Wampanoags and their neighbors to the north. The Wampanoag lost 70 percent of their population to the epidemic and the Massachusetts lost 90 percent.

Most of the Wampanoag had died from the smallpox epidemic so when the Pilgrims arrived they found well-cleared fields which they claimed for their own. A Puritan colonist, quoted by Harvard University’s Perry Miller, praised the plague that had wiped out the Indians for it was “the wonderful preparation of the Lord Jesus Christ, by his providence for his people’s abode in the Western world.” Historians have since speculated endlessly on why the woods in the region resembled a park to the disembarking Pilgrims in 1620. The reason should have been obvious: hundreds, if not thousands, of people had lived there just five years before.

In less than three generations the settlers would turn all of New England into a charnel house for Native Americans, and fire the economic engines of slavery throughout English-speaking America. Plymouth Rock is the place where the nightmare truly began.

The uninvited?

It is not at all clear what happened at the first – and only – “integrated” Thanksgiving feast. Only two written accounts of the three-day event exist, and one of them, by Governor William Bradford, was written 20 years after the fact. Was Chief Massasoit invited to bring 90 Indians with him to dine with 52 colonists, most of them women and children? This seems unlikely. A good harvest had provided the settlers with plenty of food, according to their accounts, so the whites didn’t really need the Wampanoag’s offering of five deer. What we do know is that there had been lots of tension between the two groups that fall.  John Two-Hawks, who runs the Native Circle [5] web site, gives a sketch of the facts:

“Thanksgiving’ did not begin as a great loving relationship between the pilgrims and the Wampanoag, Pequot and Narragansett people.  In fact, in October of 1621 when the pilgrim survivors of their first winter in Turtle Island sat down to share the first unofficial ‘Thanksgiving’ meal, the Indians who were there were not even invited!  There was no turkey, squash, cranberry sauce or pumpkin pie.  A few days before this alleged feast took place, a company of ‘pilgrims’ led by Miles Standish actively sought the head of a local Indian chief, and an 11 foot high wall was erected around the entire Plymouth settlement for the very purpose of keeping Indians out!”

It is much more likely that Chief Massasoit either crashed the party, or brought enough men to ensure that he was not kidnapped or harmed by the Pilgrims. Dr. Tingba Apidta, in his “Black Folks’ Guide to Understanding Thanksgiving [6],” surmises that the settlers “brandished their weaponry” early and got drunk soon thereafter. He notes that “each Pilgrim drank at least a half gallon of beer a day, which they preferred even to water. This daily inebriation led their governor, William Bradford, to comment on his people’s ‘notorious sin,’ which included their ‘drunkenness and uncleanliness’ and rampant ‘sodomy.'”

Soon after the feast the brutish Miles Standish “got his bloody prize,” Dr. Apidta writes:

“He went to the Indians, pretended to be a trader, then beheaded an Indian man named Wituwamat. He brought the head to Plymouth, where it was displayed on a wooden spike for many years, according to Gary B. Nash, ‘as a symbol of white power.’ Standish had the Indian man’s young brother hanged from the rafters for good measure. From that time on, the whites were known to the Indians of Massachusetts by the name ‘Wotowquenange,’ which in their tongue meant cutthroats and stabbers.”

What is certain is that the first feast was not called a “Thanksgiving” at the time; no further integrated dining occasions were scheduled; and the first, official all-Pilgrim “Thanksgiving” had to wait until 1637, when the whites of New England celebrated the massacre of the Wampanoag’s southern neighbors, the Pequots.

The real Thanksgiving Day Massacre

The Pequots today own the Foxwood Casino and Hotel [7], in Ledyard, Connecticut, with gross gaming revenues of over $9 billion in 2000. This is truly a (very belated) miracle, since the real first Pilgrim Thanksgiving was intended as the Pequot’s epitaph. Sixteen years after the problematical Plymouth feast, the English tried mightily to erase the Pequots from the face of the Earth, and thanked God for the blessing.

Having subdued, intimidated or made mercenaries of most of the tribes of Massachusetts, the English turned their growing force southward, toward the rich Connecticut valley, the Pequot’s sphere of influence. At the point where the Mystic River meets the sea, the combined force of English and allied Indians bypassed the Pequot fort to attack and set ablaze a town full of women, children and old people.

William Bradford, the former Governor of Plymouth and one of the chroniclers of the 1621 feast, was also on hand for the great massacre of 1637:

“Those that escaped the fire were slain with the sword; some hewed to pieces, others run through with their rapiers, so that they were quickly dispatched and very few escaped. It was conceived they thus destroyed about 400 at this time. It was a fearful sight to see them thus frying in the fire…horrible was the stink and scent thereof, but the victory seemed a sweet sacrifice, and they gave the prayers thereof to God, who had wrought so wonderfully for them, thus to enclose their enemies in their hands, and give them so speedy a victory over so proud and insulting an enemy.”

The rest of the white folks thought so, too. “This day forth shall be a day of celebration and thanksgiving for subduing the Pequots,” read Governor John Winthrop’s proclamation. The authentic Thanksgiving Day was born.

Most historians believe about 700 Pequots were slaughtered at Mystic. Many prisoners were executed, and surviving women and children sold into slavery in the West Indies. Pequot prisoners that escaped execution were parceled out to Indian tribes allied with the English. The Pequot were thought to have been extinguished as a people. According to IndyMedia [8], “The Pequot tribe numbered 8,000 when the Pilgrims arrived, but disease had brought their numbers down to 1,500 by 1637. The Pequot ‘War’ killed all but a handful of remaining members of the tribe.”

But there were still too many Indians around to suit the whites of New England, who bided their time while their own numbers increased to critical, murderous mass.

Guest’s head on a pole

By the 1670s the colonists, with 8,000 men under arms, felt strong enough to demand that the Pilgrims’ former dinner guests the Wampanoags disarm and submit to the authority of the Crown. After a series of settler provocations in 1675, the Wampanoag struck back, under the leadership of Chief Metacomet, son of Massasoit, called King Philip by the English. Metacomet/Philip, whose wife and son were captured and sold into West Indian slavery, wiped out 13 settlements and killed 600 adult white men before the tide of battle turned. A 1996 issue [9] of the Revolutionary Worker provides an excellent narrative.

In their victory, the settlers launched an all-out genocide against the remaining Native people. The Massachusetts government offered 20 shillings bounty for every Indian scalp, and 40 shillings for every prisoner who could be sold into slavery. Soldiers were allowed to enslave any Indian woman or child under 14 they could capture. The “Praying Indians” who had converted to Christianity and fought on the side of the European troops were accused of shooting into the treetops during battles with “hostiles.” They were enslaved or killed. Other “peaceful” Indians of Dartmouth and Dover were invited to negotiate or seek refuge at trading posts – and were sold onto slave ships.

It is not known how many Indians were sold into slavery, but in this campaign, 500 enslaved Indians were shipped from Plymouth alone. Of the 12,000 Indians in the surrounding tribes, probably about half died from battle, massacre and starvation.

After King Philip’s War, there were almost no Indians left free in the northern British colonies. A colonist wrote from Manhattan’s New York colony: “There is now but few Indians upon the island and those few no ways hurtful. It is to be admired how strangely they have decreased by the hand of God, since the English first settled in these parts.” In Massachusetts, the colonists declared a “day of public thanksgiving” in 1676, saying, “there now scarce remains a name or family of them [the Indians] but are either slain, captivated or fled.”

Fifty-five years after the original Thanksgiving Day, the Puritans had destroyed the generous Wampanoag and all other neighboring tribes. The Wampanoag chief King Philip was beheaded. His head was stuck on a pole in Plymouth, where the skull still hung on display 24 years later.

This is not thought to be a fit Thanksgiving tale for the children of today, but it’s the real story, well-known to the settler children of New England at the time – the white kids who saw the Wampanoag head on the pole year after year and knew for certain that God loved them best of all, and that every atrocity they might ever commit against a heathen, non-white was blessed.

There’s a good term for the process thus set in motion: nation-building.

Roots of the slave trade

The British North American colonists’ practice of enslaving Indians for labor or direct sale to the West Indies preceded the appearance of the first chained Africans at the dock in Jamestown, Virginia, in 1619. The Jamestown colonists’ human transaction with the Dutch vessel was an unscheduled occurrence. However, once the African slave trade became commercially established, the fates of Indians and Africans in the colonies became inextricably entwined. New England, born of up-close-and-personal, burn-them-in-the-fires-of-hell genocide, led the political and commercial development of the English colonies. The region also led the nascent nation’s descent into a slavery-based society and economy.

Ironically, an apologist for Virginian slavery made one of the best, early cases for the indictment of New England as the engine of the American slave trade. Unreconstructed secessionist Lewis Dabney’s 1867 book “A Defense of Virginia” [10] traced the slave trade’s origins all the way back to Plymouth Rock:

“The planting of the commercial States of North America began with the colony of Puritan Independents at Plymouth, in 1620, which was subsequently enlarged into the State of Massachusetts. The other trading colonies, Rhode Island and Connecticut, as well as New Hampshire (which never had an extensive shipping interest), were offshoots of Massachusetts. They partook of the same characteristics and pursuits; and hence, the example of the parent colony is taken here as a fair representation of them.

“The first ship from America, which embarked in the African slave trade, was the Desire, Captain Pierce, of Salem; and this was among the first vessels ever built in the colony. The promptitude with which the “Puritan Fathers” embarked in this business may be comprehended, when it is stated that the Desire sailed upon her voyage in June, 1637. [Note: the year they massacred the Pequots.] The first feeble and dubious foothold was gained by the white man at Plymouth less than seventeen years before; and as is well known, many years were expended by the struggle of the handful of settlers for existence. So that it may be correctly said, that the commerce of New England was born of the slave trade; as its subsequent prosperity was largely founded upon it. The Desire, proceeding to the Bahamas, with a cargo of ‘dry fish and strong liquors, the only commodities for those parts,’ obtained the negroes from two British men-of-war, which had captured them from a Spanish slaver.

“Thus, the trade of which the good ship Desire, of Salem, was the harbinger, grew into grand proportions; and for nearly two centuries poured a flood of wealth into New England, as well as no inconsiderable number of slaves. Meanwhile, the other maritime colonies of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations, and Connecticut, followed the example of their elder sister emulously; and their commercial history is but a repetition of that of Massachusetts. The towns of Providence, Newport, and New Haven became famous slave trading ports. The magnificent harbor of the second, especially, was the favorite starting-place of the slave ships; and its commerce rivaled, or even exceeded, that of the present commercial metropolis, New York. All the four original States, of course, became slaveholding.”

The Revolution that exploded in 1770s New England was undertaken by men thoroughly imbued with the worldview of the Indian-killer and slave-holder. How could they not be? The “country” they claimed as their own was fathered by genocide and mothered by slavery – its true distinction among the commercial nations of the world. And these men were not ashamed, but proud, with vast ambition to spread their exceptional characteristics West and South and wherever their so-far successful project in nation-building might take them – and by the same bloody, savage methods that had served them so well in the past.

At the moment of deepest national crisis following the battle of Gettysburg in 1863, President Abraham Lincoln invoked the national fable that is far more central to the white American personality than Lincoln’s battlefield “Address.” Lincoln seized upon the 1621 feast as the historic “Thanksgiving” – bypassing the official and authentic 1637 precedent – and assigned the dateless, murky event the fourth Thursday in November. Lincoln surveyed a broken nation, and attempted nation-rebuilding, based on the purest white myth. The same year that he issued the Emancipation Proclamation, he renewed the national commitment to a white manifest destiny that began at Plymouth Rock. Lincoln sought to rekindle a shared national mission that former Confederates and Unionists and white immigrants from Europe could collectively embrace. It was and remains a barbaric and racist national unifier, by definition. Only the most fantastic lies can sanitize the history of the Plymouth Colony of Massachusetts.

“Like a rock”

The Thanksgiving holiday fable is at once a window on the way that many, if not most, white Americans view the world and their place in it, and a pollutant that leaches barbarism into the modern era. The fable attempts to glorify the indefensible, to enshrine an era and mission that represent the nation’s lowest moral denominators. Thanksgiving as framed in the mythology is, consequently, a drag on that which is potentially civilizing in the national character, a crippling, atavistic deformity. Defenders of the holiday will claim that the politically-corrected children’s version promotes brotherhood, but that is an impossibility – a bald excuse to prolong the worship of colonial “forefathers” and to erase the crimes they committed. Those bastards burned the Pequot women and children, and ushered in the multinational business of slavery. These are facts. The myth is an insidious diversion – and worse.

Humanity cannot tolerate a 21st Century superpower, much of whose population perceives the world through the eyes of 17th Century land and flesh bandits. Yet that is the trick that fate has played on the globe. We described the roots of the planetary dilemma in our March 13 commentary, “Racism & War, Perfect Together. [11]”

The English arrived with criminal intent – and brought wives and children to form new societies predicated on successful plunder. To justify the murderous enterprise, Indians who had initially cooperated with the squatters were transmogrified into “savages” deserving displacement and death. The relentlessly refreshed lie of Indian savagery became a truth in the minds of white Americans, a fact to be acted upon by every succeeding generation of whites. The settlers became a singular people confronting the great “frontier” – a euphemism for centuries of genocidal campaigns against a darker, “savage” people marked for extinction.

The necessity of genocide was the operative, working assumption of the expanding American nation. “Manifest Destiny” was born at Plymouth Rock and Jamestown, later to fall (to paraphrase Malcolm) like a rock on Mexico, the Philippines, Haiti, Nicaragua, etc. Little children were taught that the American project was inherently good, Godly, and that those who got in the way were “evil-doers” or just plain subhuman, to be gloriously eliminated. The lie is central to white American identity, embraced by waves of European settlers who never saw a red person.

Only a century ago, American soldiers caused the deaths of possibly a million Filipinos whom they had been sent to “liberate” from Spanish rule. They didn’t even know who they were killing, and so rationalized their behavior by substituting the usual American victims. Colonel Funston [12], of the Twentieth Kansas Volunteers, explained what got him motivated in the Philippines:

“Our fighting blood was up and we all wanted to kill ‘niggers.’ This shooting human beings is a ‘hot game,’ and beats rabbit hunting all to pieces.” Another wrote that “the boys go for the enemy as if they were chasing jack-rabbits …. I, for one, hope that Uncle Sam will apply the chastening rod, good, hard, and plenty, and lay it on until they come into the reservation and promise to be good ‘Injuns.'”

Last week in northern Iraq another American colonel, Joe Anderson of the 101st Airborne (Assault) Division, revealed that he is incapable of perceiving Arabs as human beings. Colonel Anderson, who doubles as a commander and host of a radio call-in program and a TV show designed to win the hearts and minds of the people of Mosul, had learned that someone was out to assassinate him. In the wild mood swing common to racists, Anderson decided that Iraqis are all alike – and of a different breed. He said as much to theLos Angeles Times [13].

“They don’t understand being nice,” said Anderson, who helps oversee the military zone that includes Mosul and environs. He doesn’t hide his irritation after months dedicated to restoring the city: “We spent so long here working with kid gloves, but the average Iraqi guy will tell you, ‘The only thing people respect here is violence…. They only understand being shot at, being killed. That’s the culture.’ … Nice guys do finish last here.”

Col. Anderson personifies the unfitness of Americans to play a major role in the world, much less rule it. “We poured a lot of our heart and soul into trying to help the people,” he bitched, as if Americans were God’s gift to the planet. “But it can be frustrating when you hear stupid people still saying, ‘You’re occupiers. You want our oil. You’re turning our country over to Israel.'” He cannot fathom that other people – non-whites – aspire to run their own affairs, and will kill and die to achieve that basic right.

What does this have to do with the Mayflower? Everything. Although possibly against their wishes, the Pilgrims hosted the Wampanoag for three no doubt anxious days. The same men killed and enslaved Wampanoags immediately before and after the feast. They, their newly arrived English comrades and their children roasted hundreds of neighboring Indians alive just 16 years later, and two generations afterwards cleared nearly the whole of New England of its indigenous “savages,” while enthusiastically enriching themselves through the invention of transoceanic, sophisticated means of enslaving millions. The Mayflower’s cultural heirs are programmed to find glory in their own depravity, and savagery in their most helpless victims, who can only redeem themselves by accepting the inherent goodness of white Americans.

Thanksgiving encourages these cognitive cripples in their madness, just as it is designed to do.

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

 This article was originally published on November 27, 2003, when Glen Ford was co-publisher of The Black Commentator.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37004.htm

New Snowden Docs Show U.S. Spied During G20 in Toronto

Surveillance during 2010 summit ‘closely co-ordinated with Canadian partner’ CSEC

By Greg Weston, Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “CBC News –Top secret documents retrieved by U.S. whistleblower Edward Snowden show that Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government allowed the largest American spy agency to conduct widespread surveillance in Canada during the 2010 G8 and G20 summits.

The documents are being reported exclusively by CBC News.

The briefing notes, stamped “Top Secret,” show the U.S. turned its Ottawa embassy into a security command post during a six-day spying operation by the National Security Agency while U.S. President Barack Obama and 25 other foreign heads of government were on Canadian soil in June of 2010.

The covert U.S. operation was no secret to Canadian authorities.

An NSA briefing note describes the American agency’s operational plans at the Toronto summit meeting and notes they were “closely co-ordinated with the Canadian partner.”

The NSA and its Canadian “partner,” the Communications Security Establishment Canada, gather foreign intelligence for their respective governments by covertly intercepting phone calls and hacking into computer systems around the world.

The secret documents do not reveal the precise targets of so much espionage by the NSA — and possibly its Canadian partner — during the Toronto summit.

But both the U.S. and Canadian intelligence agencies have been implicated with their British counterpart in hacking the phone calls and emails of foreign politicians and diplomats attending the G20 summit in London in 2009 — a scant few months before the Toronto gathering of the same world leaders.

Notably, the secret NSA briefing document describes part of the U.S. eavesdropping agency’s mandate at the Toronto summit as “providing support to policymakers.”

Documents previously released by Snowden, a former NSA contractor who has sought and received asylum in Russia, suggested that support at other international gatherings included spying on the foreign delegations to get an unfair advantage in any negotiations or policy debates at the summit.

It was those documents that first exposed the spying on world leaders at the London summit.

More recently, Snowden’s trove of classified information revealed Canada’s eavesdropping agency had hacked into phones and computers in the Brazilian government’s department of mines, a story that touched off a political firestorm both in that country and in Ottawa.

The documents have rocked political capitals around the world. NSA spies on everyone from leaders of U.S. allies to millions of Americans. Personal information has been scooped up by the agency’s penetration of major internet and phone companies.

Economic and political espionage

The spying at the Toronto summit in 2010 fits a pattern of economic and political espionage by the powerful U.S. intelligence agency and its partners such as Canada.

That espionage was conducted to secure meeting sites and protect leaders against terrorist threats posed by al-Qaeda but also to forward the policy goals of the United States and Canada.

The G20 summit in Toronto had a lot on its agenda that would have been of acute interest to the NSA and Canada.

The world was still struggling to climb out of the great recession of 2008. Leaders were debating a wide array of possible measures including a global tax on banks, an idea strongly opposed by both the U.S. and Canadian governments. That notion was eventually scotched.

The secret NSA documents list all the main agenda items for the G20 in Toronto — international development, banking reform, countering trade protectionism, and so on — with the U.S. snooping agency promising to support “U.S. policy goals.”

Whatever the intelligence goals of the NSA during the Toronto summit, international security experts question whether the NSA spying operation at the G20 in Toronto was even legal.

“If CSEC tasked NSA to conduct spying activities on Canadians within Canada that CSEC itself was not authorized to take, then I am comfortable saying that would be an unlawful undertaking by CSEC,” says Craig Forcese, an expert in national security at University of Ottawa’s faculty of law.

By law, CSEC cannot target anyone in Canada without a warrant, including world leaders and foreign diplomats at a G20 summit.

But, the Canadian eavesdropping agency is also prohibited by international agreement from getting the NSA to do the spying or anything that would be illegal for CSEC.

Canada’s ‘Five Eyes’ partners

The NSA isn’t Canada’s only partner in the covert surveillance business.

They are part of a multinational partnership that includes sister organizations in the U.K., Australia and New Zealand — the so-called “Five Eyes.”

CSEC has roughly 2,000 employees and an annual budget of about $450 million. It will soon move into a new Ottawa headquarters costing taxpayers more than $1.2 billion, the most expensive federal government building ever constructed.

By comparison, the NSA is the largest intelligence agency in the U.S., with a budget of over $40 billion and employing about 40,000 people. It is currently building what is believed to be one of the largest and most powerful computers in the world.

CSEC is comparatively much smaller but has become a formidable and sophisticated surveillance outlet. Canadian eavesdroppers are also integral to the Five Eyes partnership around the world.

The documents obtained by the CBC do not indicate what, if any, role CSEC played in spying at the G20 in Toronto.

But the briefing notes make it clear that the agency’s co-operation would be absolutely vital to ensuring access to the telecommunications systems that would have been used by espionage targets during the summits.

Much of the secret G20 document is devoted to security details at the summit, although it notes: “The intelligence community assesses there is no specific, credible information that al-Qa’ida or other Islamic extremists are targeting” the event.

No matter. The NSA warns the more likely security threat would come from “issue-based extremists” conducting acts of vandalism.

They got that right.

Protest marches by about 10,000 turned the Toronto G20 into an historic melee of arrests by more than 20,000 police in what would become one of the largest and most expensive security operations in Canadian history.

By the time the tear gas had cleared and the investigations were complete, law enforcement agencies stood accused of mass-violations of civil rights.

Add to that dubious legacy illegal spying by an American intelligence agency with the blessing of the Canadian government.

CBC contacted the Canadian and U.S. governments for comment, and answers to specific questions.

U.S. State Department officials would not comment directly on the spying issue. Instead they pointed to the fact President Obama has ordered a review of all NSA operations in the wake of the Snowden revelations.

In Canada, officials at CSEC offered no comment .

Copyright © CBC 2013

Tony Blair Asked Me To ‘Help Invade Zimbabwe’, Says Thabo Mbeki

South Africa’s former president claims that his country was asked to help Britain topple Robert Mugabe.

By David Blair

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Telegraph” – – Tony Blair’s Government asked South Africa to help Britain invadeZimbabwe and topple Robert Mugabe by force, Thabo Mbeki, the former president, has disclosed.

When Zimbabwe began sinking into economic collapse and political repression in 2000, South Africa and Britain held starkly different views over how to respond to the crisis. Mr Mbeki favoured a negotiated settlement; Mr Blair wanted Mr Mugabe to go, by force if necessary.

“The problem was, we were speaking from different positions,” said Mr Mbeki, who served as South Africa’s president from 1999 until 2008. “There were other people saying ‘yes indeed there are political problems, economic problems, the best way to solve them is regime change. So Mugabe must go’. This was the difference. So they said ‘Mugabe must go’. But we said ‘Mugabe is part of the solution to this problem’.”

Mr Mbeki recalled an interview given by Lord Guthrie, who was Chief of the Defence Staff and Britain’s most senior soldier throughout Mr Blair’s first government. In 2007, Lord Guthrie disclosed that “people were always trying to get me to look at” toppling Mr Mugabe by force.

He did not say whether these requests had come from the Prime Minister himself. In any event, Lord Guthrie said that his advice was: “Hold hard, you’ll make it worse”, suggesting that the idea was never a serious proposition.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36995.htm

Obama’s Ludicrous Afghanistan Declarations – Killer Teams Redefined as “Advisors”

By Glen Ford

Global Research, November 28, 2013
Black Agenda Report 26 November 2013

SpecialForcesAfghanistanPresident Obama thinks he can make war appear to be peace with a wave of “his semantic magic wand.” U.S. troops in Afghanistan, including elite killer teams, are to be redefined as mere “advisors” to Afghan forces so that America’s “combat” role can be declared ended – to be followed by ten more years of mass killing and occupation.

The most ridiculous actor in the fictitious U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is not President Hamid Karzai, the hustler the U.S. installed as its puppet after the American invasion in 2001. The real clowns in this charade are those Americans that pretend to believe President Obama when he says the U.S. war in Afghanistan will end on the last day of next year. Obama is, of course, lying through his teeth. The United States and its NATO allies plan to keep 10,000 to 16,000 troops in the country, occupying nine bases, some of them set aside for exclusive American use – and would remain there at least ten years, through 2024. Shamelessly, Obama claims these troops – including thousands from the Special Operations killer elite – will have no “combat” role. It’s the same lie President Kennedy told in 1963, when he called the 16,000 U.S. troops then stationed in Vietnam “advisors,” and the same bald-faced deception that Obama, himself, tried to pull off, unsuccessfully, in Iraq – until the Iraqis kicked the Americans out.

Barack Obama has arrogated to himself the right to redefine the very meaning of war, having two years ago declared that the 7-month U.S. bombing campaign against Libya was not really a war because no Americans were killed. In Afghanistan, Obama waves his semantic magic wand to transform the past 12 years of war into 10 more years of not-war, simply by changing the nomenclature. This is hucksterism from Hell.

If there was a Devil, he would be laughing his butt off at Susan Rice, Obama’s National Security Advisor and raving Banshee of War, whose assignment is to pretend that the U.S. might choose the so-called “Zero Option” if President Karzai doesn’t immediately sign away his country to the Americans for the next ten years. By “Zero Option,” Washington means it might just pick up its killer soldiers and weapons and leave Afghanistan. But that’s an empty bluff. Since when has the U.S. voluntarily left anyplace it has forcibly occupied? There is zero chance of a zero option. But, I am reminded of the events in 1963 Vietnam, when the Vietnamese president Ngo Dinh Diem and his brother were overthrown and executed in a U.S.-backed coup. Sending the homicidal Susan Rice to get in President Karzai’s face is definitely some kind of threat.

Far from ending U.S. imperial wars, Barack Obama has expanded the theaters of armed conflict. He tried to keep U.S. troops in Iraq, but the Iraqis insisted on the withdrawal terms and timetable they had negotiated with President George Bush. Iraq is now paying a heavy price, as the U.S. and its allies arm Iraqi Al Qaida and other jihadist elements fighting to overthrow the government of neighboring Syria. These U.S.-backed jihadists – the same ones the Americans fought against in Iraq for eight years – now wage war against Shiites on both sides of the border.

If there is any hope for an eventual peace in the region, it is that Washington might finally begin to understand that it can no longer control events through brute force, or by using jihadists as surrogates in the Middle East and South Asia. Maybe that’s why the Americans have tried to strike a deal with Iran. Maybe President Karzai thinks the winds of change will be sweeping through his neighborhood, soon, and he doesn’t want to go out like the puppet he came in.

Executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted atGlen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/obamas-ludicrous-afghanistan-declarations-killer-teams-redefined-as-advisors/5359706

This is a war against the whole world, not against Russia alone

By A I Adam

51637Conference Of the Parties (COP) 19 ended a day late without anything substantial but the customary acrimonies and blame game. Two weeks passed with usual blah blah – and junketing at tax-payers’ expense – leaving everything for the last minutes, then time runs out. This is a new game but every nation, particularly the developing nations, should be concerned and seriously contemplate where they are indeed heading to, and to what end.

COP 17 at Durban prescribed for working out a universally agreeable and enforceable emission reduction scheme by 2015, but implementation would not be effected until 2020. It is indeed surprising that no one questioned the strangeness of this timetable and the intrigue of delaying implementation. But with a little hindsight, it is not hard to figure out the game plan. Two COPs ended achieving nothing, two more to go and the game planners know these would end in the same way. One does not have to be a prophet to foresee that no agreement would be reached by 2015, and that has been factored into the five years implementation delay to allow for continuing COPs for another five years. Will there be an agreement by 2020? No one knows, and it seems unlikely as ever. These COPs are like the softening-up shelling at a battle front to wear down the “enemy” slowly and to submission at the end, whenever that “victory” may arrive. Like the yearly last-minute sweep-up agreements, the final victory may be thrust in a hurry upon the wearied nations tired of haggling and waiting and delaying. Perseverance would pay at the end.

Let us cite an incident that reflects a similar picture. In 2004, Andrei Illarionov, Economic Adviser to the Russian President, held a press conference at the end of a 2-day Moscow Seminar on Climate Change and Kyoto Protocol. Illarionov deliberated that the Kyoto Protocol was one of the biggest, if not the biggest, international adventure of all times and nations. Assertions made in the Kyoto Protocol and the scientific theory on which it is based are not borne out by actual data. The insignificant global warming was not anthropogenic but natural. There is no evidence of positive linkage between level of carbon dioxide and temperature changes. Solar activity causes temperature fluctuation and that in turn affects carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere. The IPCC distorted and falsified the data as shown in the so-called hockey-stick graph.

He continued: Russia had to deal with National Socialism, Marxism, Eugenics, Lysenkoism and many more. All methods of distorting information have been committed to prove the alleged validity of these theories. Misinformation,falsification, fabrication, mythology, propaganda. Because what is offered cannot be qualified in any other way than myth, nonsense and absurdity. One of the biggest international adventure based on man-hating totalitarian ideology manifests itself in totalitarian actions and tries to defend itself using misinformation and falsified facts. There is no other word than “war” to describe it. Russia would be a colony as soon as it signs the Kyoto Protocol.

He went on: This is a war against the whole world, not against Russia alone. Signing Kyoto for Russia would mean only one thing, complete capitulation to the dangerous and harmful ideology and practice that are being imposed with the help of international diplomacy. Russia is not a banana republic or a colony, but she is about to become one as soon as she ratifies the document.

The veracity of the comments Illarionov made at that press conference is undeniable. The thrust of the truth therein should not be taken lightly either. But Russia capitulated within months and joined the Kyoto Protocol as a trade off for joining the WTO under favourable terms. She however, abstained from joining the Kyoto Mark II along with several other countries. If the COPs conclude in a similar way by 2020, it would indeed be an apocalyptic calamity, particularly for the developing nations. These nations have already been won over with the lure of mitigation fund that is yet to materialise, and no one can guarantee that it will. But the poorer nations are staying put with hopes alive. At the last few COPs, China and India have vocally stood by poorer weaker nations safeguarding their own national interests and theirs against what went on in closed-door meetings, and that turned out to be the main stumbling blocks that prevented any agreement to materialise. Allegedly, all COPs from and including Copenhagen 2009 failed due to alleged attempts of abusing and breaching WTO rules to use it as the instrument of coercive force in imposing mitigation measures upon nations. Russia has not been heard much as a protesting voice in these probably for safeguarding her favourable terms of joining the WTO. The “softening-up” gunning seems to be working already.

The above may not be an accurate account of what goes on in secrecy but the participants know or should know what goes on and why COPs are failing one after another. It particularly burdens the BASIC/BRIC nations with additional responsibility to stand together as a bulwark to assure fairness and protect weaker poorer nations from hegemonic subjugation by the powers-that-be. Better even that they should ask why this silly game must still be played and for how long? Why play at all?

Lot of waters have flowed down the Volga and the Danube during the years since, lot of secrets have come to light, falsehoods and fabrications have unravelled to open everyone’s eyes. Illarionov’s prognoses have only stood starkly truer – scientific evidence do not support the climate change claims. Therefore, the paradigm must change.

That greenhouse gases, particularly carbon dioxide (CO2), man-made or not, is the driver of global warming has never been proved. The IPCC cannot explain the pause/decline in global warming since 1998 despite steadily rising atmospheric COthat has now passed 400ppm. Proxy data from the Antarctica and Greenland ice cores have shown temperature’s control over CO2, not the other way around. The atmospheric CO2 records at Mauna Loa, Hawaii, also show annual fluctuation rising during autumn and winter and falling during spring and summer. This issue should now be put to rest as unproven.

Global warming has occurred, and that is natural too. The IPCC ignored that we are in a post-glacial period and also recovering from the Little Ice Age, therefore, warming is the only natural trend we must expect. Total warming since industrialisation (1750), despite accelerating increase in fossil fuel burning, has been no more than 1oC. In the Summary of the 5th Assessment Report, the IPCC came up only with childish excuses to explain the pause/decline in warming but admitted “internal variability”, after denying it for 15 years, and without saying how it relates to “natural variability”. All the so-called “observed changes” the IPCC documented in its reports are nothing more than natural variability anomalies. It has happened all the time, and not something happening now, or since 1998. The British met Office too has admitted it lately that periodic cooling and warming is not unusual. So, the global warming issue is settled as a non-issue.

That brings the drive to cut greenhouse gas emissions to question. It is on this question that the COPs allegedly failed. Virtually no country that signed the Kyoto fulfilled her commitment to cut emissions, or cut a little only to put up a PR face. Kyoto Mark II is unlikely to end up any better. Developed nations seem to be more interested in emission trading than cutting. Trading would allow them to play all market tricks and most would try that to avoid cutting al all – like the US, the instigator of Kyoto, abstained from signing it. The big players would trade and prosper, the small would get smaller, developing nations would dwindle and gasp to survive on mitigation doles. The EU introduction of carbon tax has been a disaster, but still trying to save it at the expense of their national economies. Why cut emissions at all when it is proven before your eyes that greenhouse gases are not main drivers of global warming? The national leaderships are on an inertia momentum, the facts are yet to sink into their dulled psyche. Well, emission causes smog, such as in China and India; smog causes respiratory illnesses. Right. Nations should turn to technology. London, Liverpool, Chicago, Tokyo, Loy Yang have resolved smog problems by technology – by filtering out the particulate emissions. China and India can do the same, and they surely will do succeed one day. Respiratory problems are health issues, therefore, emissions should be treated as a public health problem, not a climate problem. With this shift of focus, the paradigm must change too. Carbon dioxide is an inert benevolent gas, it does not add to global warming but fertilize vegetative growth, it does not pollute, and it is a minuscule component of the atmosphere – one-twenty-fifth of one percent.

And finally, the mitigation. Mitigation of what, when the climate is not changing? IPCC has three working groups. Working Group I (WG I) deals with the science of climate change, WG II finds out the effects of climate change based on that science, and WG III prescribes the mitigation measures, based on the science and the effects. Well, that was the idea, but it never worked that way. The truth is, climate has not changed, and is not changing. That meant that there was no job for WG II and III. It has been well documented that WG II and III never waited for the WG I science, they invented the effects and prescribed mitigation pre-emptively to any findings by the WG I. WG I science has been nothing more than a PR show-piece as the mitigation measures are not based on their science, not on WG I report at all, but on a Special Report on emission scenarios prepared by WG III. Emission scenarios are admittedly speculative, and constitute a spectrum of scenarios. These are not projections of or extrapolation from any finding, measurement or observation, and are called storylines. First a storyline is chosen, and then the future climate is “estimated” from that storyline. It is a fairy tale woven from other fairy tales and has nothing to do with the climate or the reality, and is unlinked even to the IPCC science report. This is not a secret. Kevin Trenberth, one of the high priests and a lead author of IPCC reports confided in the Climate Feedback Blog of science magazine Nature that IPCC never predicts future climate; it only offers “what if” projections of future climate that correspond to certain emission scenarios. These emission scenarios are admittedly speculative, as we just said above. So, what bugbear are we cowering at?

Now, in view of the above, every nation and every person must ask what the COP businesses are for? The Parties, particularly the developing nations, should seriously question the meaning, necessity and justification of these annual rituals. Where is it going to lead them? Many scandals have rocked the IPCC, each one of them should have been an aye opener. It is high time to take the blinkers off and cast a hard look at the IPCC business as a whole. Here, the BASIC/BRIK nations’ joint leadership is called for, for themselves as well as for the developing nations, to put a halt to the slow slide to economic apocalypse for the benefit of a clever few. This is not a hard task, what requires is mere non-participation, if withdrawal from the IPCC and UNFCCC is impossible, in the greater National Interest of each and all nations. No nation is in bondage to any other nations. BASIC/BRIC nations should consider putting their heads together on this crisis without delay. This is a question of economic survival of all nations other than the rich and very rich.

BASIC/BRIC nations should take heart and feel encouraged by the recent developments: Australia axed its carbon tax, Canada supported it, Australia and Japan significantly reduced their emission commitments, Poland held global coal summit concurrently with COP 19 in Warsaw and “endorsed” it, developing nations at COP 19 blamed developed nations for scaling down on their ambition on emission reduction and refusing to engage. These are signs that nations who are little more than pawns at these  rhetoric-fests are beginning to realise the hollowness of it all – the absence of trust, transparency, equity and equality, good faith, and veracity.

Meanwhile the inability to explain the pause/decline in global warming for the last 15 years and its probable continuation for another 15 to 30 years shook the confidence of its financiers, the carbon finance money market in London. J P Morgan scaled down its carbon trading team, Morgan Stanley went trading part-time, Barclays sold theirs last year, Deutsche Bank closed their office, USB shut its climate change advisory panel, not to mention the small players such as EcoSecurities that barely survived by cutting back. Financiers around the globe are waking up from their Green and renewable energy dreams and counting the costs.

Every nations’ time and money will be saved by the realisation that the use-by date of the IPCC has expired, and BASIC/BRIC nations should extend their helping hands to put it out of its misery as an act of mercy. Sooner the Piltdown Man of our time is put to eternal rest the better.

A I Adam

____________________________________

A I Adam is the author of New Emperors’ Novel Clothes: Climate Change Analysed

published by The Publishers Apprentice, a Connor Court Publishing imprint.

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/28-11-2013/126264-war_against_russia-0/

German Greens negotiate coalition state government with conservatives

By Helmut Arens and Ulrich Rippert 

28 November 2013

Last Saturday, the Green Party in the state of Hesse voted by a large majority to enter into coalition negotiations with the conservative Christian Democratic Union (CDU). Following two months of exploratory talks, Hesse state premier Volker Bouffier (CDU) decided on the Greens and not, as many had expected, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) as a coalition partner.

According to media reports, Bouffier paid tribute to the SPD but had finally decided in favor of the Greens because they were a better partner to impose strict budget cuts and mass sackings in public services across the state. While pledging its support for Bouffier’s anti-social program, the Green Party was also prepared to accept fewer leading posts in the new administration than the social democrats.

The Greens’ state party council debated the CDU’s offer for about three hours. Then 51 leading Green members voted on a proposal of the so-called exploratory group, which is led by state and parliamentary faction chairman Tarek Al-Wazir. Only six members voted against it.

For the first time in the party’s history, the Greens are conducting coalition negotiations with the CDU aimed at forming a joint government in a full-sized German state. Apart from a number of CDU-Green Party alliances at a local level, up to now there has only been a CDU-Green state government in the city-state of Hamburg (2008-2010).

The decision reached by the Greens was discussed at the highest level of the party. National chairman Cem Özdemir said on Monday that he regarded a possible CDU-Green coalition in Hesse as a very positive step. “I think it’s always good when the Greens are in the government”, Özdemir said on Bavarian Radio.

The Sunday edition of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung reported at the weekend that Green Party state leader Al-Wazir not only had close connections with the national leadership, but was also assured of the backing of former Green foreign minister Joschka Fischer. “Have courage! Grab it [the offer]!” wrote Fischer in an SMS to Al-Wazir after a telephone conversation.

Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who had earlier advocated collaboration between Greens and the CDU, applauded the move. Writing in the supposedly left-leaning taz daily newspaper, he declared that the Greens were now in a position to prove “what significance they have for this republic”. Cohn-Bendit said he considered the CDU a better coalition partner than the SPD, adding: “My experience is that negotiations with the CDU are difficult, but it then sticks to the contract. Bargaining with the SPD is easier, but then begins the interpretation of the contract”. He argued that the arrangement in Hesse is to be welcomed because it clearly demonstrates “that there are alternatives to the (CDU/CSU-SPD) grand coalition”.

The decision to enter into coalition talks with the CDU is a deliberate move to strengthen Chancellor Angela Merkel in her coalition negotiations with the SPD at a federal level. Two weeks ago, the SPD announced its willingness to work with the Left Party, thus signaling to the CDU that the SPD could form an alternative alliance with the Left Party and the Greens if the Union remained stubborn in the coalition negotiations. Now the Greens are responding by strengthening the bargaining position of the CDU/CSU and thus making clear their willingness to cooperate with the Union.

Apart from these tactical considerations, the Hesse CDU-Green Party coalition negotiations demonstrate one thing in particular: all the parties agree on the basic issues and are ready to cooperate with each other. There are no fundamental differences among them. The CDU/CSU seeks an alliance with the social democrats at a federal level and with the Greens in Hesse; the Greens fill the post of state premier in a coalition with the SPD in Baden-Württemberg, enabling the passage of policies that are no different from those in neighbouring Bavaria, which is led by a notoriously conservative CSU single-party government.

The Left Party is part of the same process, forming an additional flank in an unofficial and unelected grand coalition of all parties aimed at implementing policies dictated by the banks and business associations.

The Greens’ decision to seek coalition with the CDU in Hesse refutes the Left Party’s propaganda claim that an SPD-Left Party-Green government would amount to some sort of left-wing alternative to the grand coalition. Instead, the Left Party’s declared aim of cooperating with the SPD and the Greens to form a governing alliance—while both of these parties are negotiating a coalition with the CDU—underlines the fact that there are no fundamental differences between the conservatives and the Left Party.

The Hessian CDU has always constituted the far-right, German-nationalist wing of the Union. For 35 years, Volker Bouffier has made his career in the state organization that is notorious for its past associations with former Nazis. He became state secretary in the Hesse justice ministry in 1987 and was thereafter appointed interior minister in three state governments under Roland Koch.

During this time, he introduced dragnet investigation procedures and intensive telecommunications monitoring to upgrade the state’s surveillance system to a level higher than in any other state. This earned him the nickname of the “Black (CDU) Sheriff”. When the Frankfurt chief of police threatened to torture the kidnapper in the case of Jakob von Metzler in 2002, Bouffier publicly pledged the former his full support.

Both Volker Bouffier and his predecessor, Roland Koch, have openly acknowledged Alfred Dregger and Manfred Kanther as their political mentors. Dregger was a figurehead of the national conservatives for decades. He commanded a German army battalion in World War II and, after 1945, relentlessly continued to campaign against the Soviet Union as a fanatical Cold War warrior. A passionate anti-communist, he tirelessly opposed the Stalinist German Democratic Republic and advocated an honourable reinstatement of Hitler’s wartime army.

Recent studies show that the number of former NSDAP (Nazi party) members in the Hesse CDU state parliamentary faction increased rather than decreased in the first two post-war decades. During the first Hesse state parliament after the war (1946-50), there were only two proven former NSDAP members; the number had risen to ten by the fifth legislature (1962-1966).

The Hesse CDU has also always stood on the right wing of the Union with respect to social policy, and turned against employee co-management and workers’ rights in the 1970s. Manfred Kanther was known nationwide as the epitome of the law-and-order politician.

This is the tradition and the nature of the party with which the Hesse Greens have now begun coalition negotiations.

It is not that the CDU has changed; it is the Greens who are revealing their true political colours. The Greens constitute a right-wing party that is doing all it can to defend the capitalist system against the growing opposition of the population. This includes striving for a governing alliance with the most reactionary political forces.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/28/hess-n28.html

Wales: Hospital waiting times double

By Ben Trent 

28 November 2013

Latest figures from the National Health Service in Wales (Welsh NHS) reveal that the number of patients having to wait over nine months for hospital treatment has more than doubled—from 5,414 to 11,672—in the last six months. Only 88.4 percent were seen within 26 weeks—well below the 95 percent target figure.

In response to public opposition to the crisis in the health service, Jane Hutt, finance minister in the Labour Party minority-run Welsh Assembly, announced a new budget last month in which NHS Wales is set to get an extra £570 million over the next three years.

Labour’s highlighting of the relatively small increase—1.7 percent in real terms—of funding for the NHS was to veil the continued attacks on other public services. At the same time local government is set to have an almost 6 percent real cut in funding—some £175 million.

The increase in funding to NHS Wales will in any case barely touch the surface of the mounting crisis across all areas of health care in Wales. The new figures also highlight that in the month of September the number of people waiting less than four hours in Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments was five percent below the government target, while 802 people were left waiting for over 12 hours. This is despite a fall of more than 4,000 attendances to A&E departments between August and September.

Over a period of 16 months, the ambulance service failed to hit the target of answering 65 percent of life-endangered calls within the targeted eight minutes, while a phenomenal 95 percent of urgent cancer patients go without treatment within 62 days of their initial diagnosis.

Figures also show that in 2012 the number of hospital beds in Wales fell by 313 to 11,495. Over the past 10 years, the number has fallen by nearly 20 percent.

The decrease has been blamed for helping to bring A&E department to the verge of what consultants described as “meltdown” last winter. Some 2,600 non-emergency operations had to be postponed in the first three months of this year because of bed shortages.

Dr. Phil Banfield, chair of the British Medical Association’s Welsh council, said, “This is of great concern to our members… There have been too many beds cut. We are getting reports that this is not about winter—this is about now. Several hospitals are already cutting operations and we’re not even into winter. In principle, we would encourage patients to be treated in the community, but the support services need to be there, otherwise the ability to admit patients becomes compromised.”

Last year’s experience is likely to be repeated with Health Minister Mark Drakeford warning that the pressure on health services will be “real and inescapable” this winter, before claiming that health boards were putting in precautions to prevent a repeat. An example of one such precaution was the announcement this month by Hywel Dda Health Board, which provides services to 370,000 people in west Wales, that it is proposing to cancel some elective procedures such as hip and knee operations during the winter.

The paltry increase in the NHS Wales budget is more than offset by the reduction in other local services. In addition, cuts to local council care services could place additional demands on the health service.

The first services predicted to fall under the new budget include libraries, museums and street lighting. While Hutt continued to make hollow apologies for the cuts to local government, claiming that it would be impossible to “shield” all services from the austerity measures, Leanne Wood, of the nationalist Plaid Cymru claimed that the budget, which her party and the Liberal Democrats worked with Labour on, would secure help for “people in the short term—a deal that will make a practical difference to peoples’ lives, now, today.”

The trade unions are lining up to prevent opposition developing to the cuts. Public sector union, Unison Cymru/Wales, claims the budget is “responsible” and states that “we want to work with the Welsh government and employers to cushion the blow to the public as much as possible.”

The union’s defence of the austerity measures being implemented by the minority Labour government, with the assistance of Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats, highlights their naked apologetics for the continued ravaging of public services.

While the trade unions talk of “cushioning the blow”, in reality they have overseen three years of pay freezes for public sector workers in Wales and throughout the UK, reducing real pay by 13 percent, and slashing pensions. Some 17,000 public sector workers in Wales have lost their jobs.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/28/wale-n28.html

Australia: Tens of thousands of public sector jobs axed

By Terry Cook 

28 November 2013

Tens of thousands of public sector jobs are being slashed across Australia as governments at both federal and state levels, Liberal and Labor alike, implement sharp spending cuts.

Public servants are being flung into a rapidly shrinking jobs market, in which more than 700,000 people are officially looking for work. The mass layoffs are also undermining the delivery of vital services on which millions of people rely, including many of society’s most severely disadvantaged, such as the aged, disabled and children at risk.

A federal finance department report this month revealed that more than 14,000 jobs will be axed across Commonwealth government departments over the next four years. The layoffs were set in motion by the former Labor government’s decision to raise the public service “efficiency dividend” from 1.5 to 4 percent. The efficiency dividend is a mechanism used by governments at both federal and state levels to downsize by stealth—forcing department heads to cut costs by axing jobs, services and working conditions.

Signalling the job losses to come as department heads scramble to meet Labor’s efficiency quota, the Australian Tax Office (ATO) last week announced it will axe more than 900 jobs by the end of the financial year. This is aimed at reducing costs by $50 million, while driving up “productivity” by increasing the workloads for the remaining staff.

The ATO cuts will badly affect regional towns, including Wollongong in New South Wales and Townsville in northern Queensland. These areas are already experiencing official unemployment rates of more than 7 percent, well above the national figure of 5.7 percent.

At the same time, the Liberal-National Coalition government of Tony Abbott is proceeding with plans to axe another 12,000 public sector jobs over the next three years, with the aim of slashing spending by $5.2 billion. The government has admitted that compulsory redundancies will be likely, declaring that the extent of Labor’s cuts has made it difficult to reach the target through “natural attrition,” as the Coalition pledged before the September 7 federal election.

Already, a jobs freeze has been imposed and hundreds of contractual workers and temporary staff across several departments in Canberra have been told their contracts will not be renewed, throwing them out of work before the end of the year. This is in line with a directive by the government’s Australian Public Service Commission, instructing agency heads to ensure that “existing non-ongoing employment arrangements cease at the end of the current term and refrain from entering new arrangements.”

Among the biggest users of contract arrangements are the ATO, the Australian Electoral Commission, and the Department of Human Services (DHS), which provides frontline social and health services, including to the unemployed, disabled and child support agencies. DHS operations are already severely affected by Labor’s plan to shed 1,340 full-time jobs over 2013-14, on top of the 1,078 jobs axed in the last six months of 2012.

Also this month, the federal Health Department announced it will destroy 350 jobs, cutting one third of the staff across a number of divisions that provide health services for thousands of people.

The department’s Primary and Ambulatory Care Division—which provides access to community-based health care, such as first-point-of-call services for prevention, diagnosis and treatment of ill-health, including in remote areas—will suffer a 25 percent staff cut. The Population Health Division that works to reduce preventable mortality and morbidity caused by chronic disease, including through the early detection of cancer, will be slashed by 30 percent.

Hundreds more jobs are under threat following the Abbott government’s decision to merge AusAID, which employed 6,670 people, into the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT). The move follows the announcement that foreign aid will be slashed by $4.5 billion. Already, offers of employment have been withdrawn from dozens of young successful applicants to AusAID’s graduate program.

At the state level, more than 50,000 public sector jobs have been axed in the past four years.

* In Queensland, the Liberal National Party (LNP) has slashed 14,000 public sector jobs since being elected in March last year, including over 5,000 from the state’s health and hospital system and nearly 400 from Communities, Child Safety and Disability Services.

* The New South Wales Liberal government has axed over 15,000 jobs, including almost 2,400 from schools and TAFE colleges and 3,600 from hospitals.

* In Victoria, close to 5,000 jobs have been shed, including 648 from Department of Education and Early Childhood Development and 657 from the Department of Human Services.

* Western Australia’s Liberal government announced in June that it will eliminate 1,200 public sector positions and halve the value of severance packages from next July to save $37.9 million.

State Labor governments are implementing the same underlying agenda as their Liberal counterparts.

* In South Australia, the Labor Party plans to slash a further 450 public sector jobs in addition to the 5,000 targeted in last year’s budget. The cuts include the elimination of 200 nursing positions.

* In Tasmania, a coalition Labor-Greens government is eliminating 1,100 jobs, including 600 from the Health Department.

The entire political establishment, Labor, Liberal and Greens, is determined to proceed with the austerity measures demanded by the corporate and financial elite and the international credit rating agencies. Further cuts to public sector jobs and basic social services will be imposed as the economic crisis deepens.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/28/jobs-n28.html

Shakespeare and the Defeat of the Swiss Referendum on Compensations

By Jimmie Moglia

“Do they all deny her? An they were sons of mine, I’d have them whipped; or I would send them to the Turk, to make eunuchs of.“

(All’s Well That Ends Well, act 2, sc. 5)

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – When it became known that Switzerland would hold a referendum – limiting the spread between the lowest and the highest paid employees of the same company – many across the world felt that it was about time.

Here is (was) an intelligent people, living in a highly civilized country, finally realizing the absurd consequences of runaway capitalism. Namely, that the extreme concentration of wealth leads – among other things – to the wanton destruction of the environment and to the state of perpetual war, required to fatten the minions of death and the profit of banks.

The defeat of the referendum gained remarkably little or no coverage in the American media.

Of course, the onepercenters will claim that those among the Swiss who proposed the measure were afflicted by “class envy” – or maybe they were Marxists. Whereas, as we all know, the problem is that extreme wealth leads to extreme political control. Which converts into a runaway feedback loop, for the creation of privilege for a few and misery for the others, with the Earth as the final victim.

Apparently, the defenders of extreme capitalism in Switzerland spent as much money as required to defeat the measure, and employed all that can impress awe upon the mind of man.

What is extraordinary is that the Swiss voters believed the tale of doom that supposedly would affect the country had the measure been approved. Nor did they realize that the intoxication of dominion knows no bound to its own externations – and that political power acquired through money (as today almost always is), is corrupted beyond the common degree of wickedness. Or that the power of wealth makes the ruled-over citizen the sport of caprice, the scoff of insolence, the slave of meanness, and the pupil of ignorance.

The episode proves – as if it were necessary – that, just as in the US, money and money alone makes the law, rules the parties and controls the electorate.

Once more, here are the words of two masterminds of propaganda, one a Nazi, the other an American.

Here is the Nazi,

“If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it… In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” (Joseph Goebbels)

And here is the American,

“If we understand the mechanisms and motives of the group mind, it is now possible to control and regiment the masses according to our will without their knowing it… In almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons … who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind.” – Edward Bernays

I am convinced that if the elites promoted legislation to turn people into eunuchs they would succeed, provided they funded the campaign with an adequate number of billions of dollars.

“….commanded always by the greater gust, such is the lightness of you common men.”

Jimmie Moglia – Visit yourdailyshakespeare.com

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36990.htm

America, Want Freedom of Choice? Try Public Healthcare Like Canada

Our system ensures the right to care without considering ability to pay or profit margins. No one gets betweens us and our doctors

By Adrienne Silnicki

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Guardian” – Canadians are following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act with the hope that it will lead to better healthcare for all Americans. But that hope is tempered by feelings of disappointment and confusion that America still has not progressed to a single-payer universal healthcare system.

For Canadians, the value of public healthcare is self-evident.

We spend roughly 60% of what the United States does on healthcare (pdf), and manage to cover everyone (10.6% of GDP in Canada vs. 17% in the US). In a public system, spending less does not mean worse healthcare outcomes. Measured by life expectancy, infant mortality, cancer survival rates and many other measures, Canadians enjoy the same or better levels of care than Americans. Public healthcare costs less, delivers more and is there for everyone, regardless of their ability to pay.

How is it possible for a public healthcare system to deliver more and better care at a lower cost? The secret is in the two major differences between the Canadian and American health care systems. First, in Canada, core hospital services can only be non-profit. Eliminating the need to funnel profits to shareholders represents a 10-15% savings right off the bat.

Second, the Canadian single-payer system – when expanded across the entire country – is simply the most efficient way to run a healthcare system. Risk is pooled across the largest possible population. And a large, single system means that the share of health spending that goes towards administrative costs is 16.7% in Canada, compared to a whopping 31% in the US. In a public system the emphasis is no longer on itemizing, invoicing and collecting payment from individuals, and resources can be shifted to where they are needed: patient care.

While for-profit health corporations and big pharmaceutical companies are fighting to privatize more of Canada’s health care, polls consistently show that Canadians strongly oppose this. A survey in December 2011, found that 94% of Canadians are in favour of public over for-profit healthcare (pdf).

Public healthcare is funded out of general taxation, so Canadians never get a medical bill in the mail. The only plastic card we need to take to the hospital is our government issued health card. From there, the bill is settled between the hospital and the provincial government.

Freedom from medical bills leaves Canadians with many more care options. Depending on the size of the city we live in (bigger cities have more options), we choose the doctors we want, the type of practice we’re comfortable with (single-doctor, team based, community), or how we want to birth our children (with a midwife, a doctor, at home, in a birthing centre, or at a hospital).

If it is decided between a patient and their health professional that a procedure is medically necessary, we are referred for the service. There is no insurance provider coming between a patient and their doctor, deciding what services we can and cannot have done. As long as the procedure is not purely cosmetic, it is covered by public medical insurance.

We do not have to pass a medical exam to be covered by public insurance. Pre-existing conditions require future monitoring and additional care or services; they are never something that disqualifies us from coverage.

In a single-payer system you also are not locked in to your current job to keep health coverage. Public health insurance allows Canadians more freedom to change jobs and careers knowing that their healthcare coverage will follow them.

It is true that we do sometimes have to wait for care in Canada. How much time varies by procedure and province. The system is guided by triage; if you have a medical reason to get the procedure done immediately, you get it right away. If your condition isn’t as serious, you might have to wait. But just because someone is wealthy does not mean they can pay and bump you down the list. We determine care solely by need.

Canada’s public healthcare system reflects our belief in the right of every person to access care when they need it, regardless of their ability to pay. We believe that people should have the freedom to make decisions on health matters with their doctors and not have their choice invalidated by a large corporation looking out for their bottom line.

Canadians believe in a public, single-tiered, healthcare system that puts people first. We also believe that if Americans knew what they were truly missing, they would demand nothing less than the same for themselves.

NSA Spied On Porn Habits As Part Of Plan To Discredit ‘Radicalizers’

By Glenn Greenwald, Ryan Gallagher and Ryan Grim

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House – “The Huffington Post” – –  WASHINGTON — The National Security Agency has been gathering records of online sexual activity and evidence of visits to pornographic websites as part of a proposed plan to harm the reputations of those whom the agency believes are radicalizing others through incendiary speeches, according to a top-secret NSA document. The document, provided by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, identifies six targets, all Muslims, as “exemplars” of how “personal vulnerabilities” can be learned through electronic surveillance, and then exploited to undermine a target’s credibility, reputation and authority.

The NSA document, dated Oct. 3, 2012, repeatedly refers to the power of charges of hypocrisy to undermine such a messenger. “A previous SIGINT” — or signals intelligence, the interception of communications — “assessment report on radicalization indicated that radicalizers appear to be particularly vulnerable in the area of authority when their private and public behaviors are not consistent,” the document argues.

Among the vulnerabilities listed by the NSA that can be effectively exploited are “viewing sexually explicit material online” and “using sexually explicit persuasive language when communicating with inexperienced young girls.”

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The Director of the National Security Agency — described as “DIRNSA” — is listed as the “originator” of the document. Beyond the NSA itself, the listed recipients include officials with the Departments of Justice and Commerce and the Drug Enforcement Administration.

“Without discussing specific individuals, it should not be surprising that the US Government uses all of the lawful tools at our disposal to impede the efforts of valid terrorist targets who seek to harm the nation and radicalize others to violence,” Shawn Turner, director of public affairs for National Intelligence, told The Huffington Post in an email Tuesday.

Yet Jameel Jaffer, deputy legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union, said these revelations give rise to serious concerns about abuse. “It’s important to remember that the NSA’s surveillance activities are anything but narrowly focused — the agency is collecting massive amounts of sensitive information about virtually everyone,” he said.

“Wherever you are, the NSA’s databases store information about your political views, your medical history, your intimate relationships and your activities online,” he added. “The NSA says this personal information won’t be abused, but these documents show that the NSA probably defines ‘abuse’ very narrowly.”

None of the six individuals targeted by the NSA is accused in the document of being involved in terror plots. The agency believes they all currently reside outside the United States. It identifies one of them, however, as a “U.S. person,” which means he is either a U.S. citizen or a permanent resident. A U.S. person is entitled to greater legal protections against NSA surveillance than foreigners are.

Stewart Baker, a one-time general counsel for the NSA and a top Homeland Security official in the Bush administration, said that the idea of using potentially embarrassing information to undermine targets is a sound one. “If people are engaged in trying to recruit folks to kill Americans and we can discredit them, we ought to,” said Baker. “On the whole, it’s fairer and maybe more humane” than bombing a target, he said, describing the tactic as “dropping the truth on them.”

Any system can be abused, Baker allowed, but he said fears of the policy drifting to domestic political opponents don’t justify rejecting it. “On that ground you could question almost any tactic we use in a war, and at some point you have to say we’re counting on our officials to know the difference,” he said.

In addition to analyzing the content of their internet activities, the NSA also examined the targets’ contact lists. The NSA accuses two of the targets of promoting al Qaeda propaganda, but states that surveillance of the three English-speakers’ communications revealed that they have “minimal terrorist contacts.”

In particular, “only seven (1 percent) of the contacts in the study of the three English-speaking radicalizers were characterized in SIGINT as affiliated with an extremist group or a Pakistani militant group. An earlier communications profile of [one of the targets] reveals that 3 of the 213 distinct individuals he was in contact with between 4 August and 2 November 2010 were known or suspected of being associated with terrorism,” the document reads.

The document contends that the three Arabic-speaking targets have more contacts with affiliates of extremist groups, but does not suggest they themselves are involved in any terror plots.

Instead, the NSA believes the targeted individuals radicalize people through the expression of controversial ideas via YouTube, Facebook and other social media websites. Their audience, both English and Arabic speakers, “includes individuals who do not yet hold extremist views but who are susceptible to the extremist message,” the document states. The NSA says the speeches and writings of the six individuals resonate most in countries including the United Kingdom, Germany, Sweden, Kenya, Pakistan, India and Saudi Arabia.

The NSA possesses embarrassing sexually explicit information about at least two of the targets by virtue of electronic surveillance of their online activity. The report states that some of the data was gleaned through FBI surveillance programs carried out under the Foreign Intelligence and Surveillance Act. The document adds, “Information herein is based largely on Sunni extremist communications.” It further states that “the SIGINT information is from primary sources with direct access and is generally considered reliable.”

According to the document, the NSA believes that exploiting electronic surveillance to publicly reveal online sexual activities can make it harder for these “radicalizers” to maintain their credibility. “Focusing on access reveals potential vulnerabilities that could be even more effectively exploited when used in combination with vulnerabilities of character or credibility, or both, of the message in order to shape the perception of the messenger as well as that of his followers,” the document argues.

An attached appendix lists the “argument” each surveillance target has made that the NSA says constitutes radicalism, as well the personal “vulnerabilities” the agency believes would leave the targets “open to credibility challenges” if exposed.

One target’s offending argument is that “Non-Muslims are a threat to Islam,” and a vulnerability listed against him is “online promiscuity.” Another target, a foreign citizen the NSA describes as a “respected academic,” holds the offending view that “offensive jihad is justified,” and his vulnerabilities are listed as “online promiscuity” and “publishes articles without checking facts.” A third targeted radical is described as a “well-known media celebrity” based in the Middle East who argues that “the U.S perpetrated the 9/11 attack.” Under vulnerabilities, he is said to lead “a glamorous lifestyle.” A fourth target, who argues that “the U.S. brought the 9/11 attacks on itself” is said to be vulnerable to accusations of “deceitful use of funds.” The document expresses the hope that revealing damaging information about the individuals could undermine their perceived “devotion to the jihadist cause.”

The Huffington Post is withholding the names and locations of the six targeted individuals; the allegations made by the NSA about their online activities in this document cannot be verified.

The document does not indicate whether the NSA carried out its plan to discredit these six individuals, either by communicating with them privately about the acquired information or leaking it publicly. There is also no discussion in the document of any legal or ethical constraints on exploiting electronic surveillance in this manner.

While Baker and others support using surveillance to tarnish the reputation of people the NSA considers “radicalizers,” U.S. officials have in the past used similar tactics against civil rights leaders, labor movement activists and others.

Under J. Edgar Hoover, the FBI harassed activists and compiled secret files on political leaders, most notably Martin Luther King, Jr. The extent of the FBI’s surveillance of political figures is still being revealed to this day, as the bureau releases the long dossiers it compiled on certain people in response to Freedom of Information Act requests following their deaths. The information collected by the FBI often centered on sex — homosexuality was an ongoing obsession on Hoover’s watch — and information about extramarital affairs was reportedly used to blackmail politicians into fulfilling the bureau’s needs.

Current FBI Director James Comey recently ordered new FBI agents to visit the Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial in Washington to understand “the dangers in becoming untethered to oversight and accountability.”

James Bamford, a journalist who has been covering the NSA since the early 1980s, said the use of surveillance to exploit embarrassing private behavior is precisely what led to past U.S. surveillance scandals. “The NSA’s operation is eerily similar to the FBI’s operations under J. Edgar Hoover in the 1960s where the bureau used wiretapping to discover vulnerabilities, such as sexual activity, to ‘neutralize’ their targets,” he said. “Back then, the idea was developed by the longest serving FBI chief in U.S. history, today it was suggested by the longest serving NSA chief in U.S. history.”

That controversy, Bamford said, also involved the NSA. “And back then, the NSA was also used to do the eavesdropping on King and others through its Operation Minaret. A later review declared the NSA’s program ‘disreputable if not outright illegal,'” he said.

Baker said that until there is evidence the tactic is being abused, the NSA should be trusted to use its discretion. “The abuses that involved Martin Luther King occurred before Edward Snowden was born,” he said. “I think we can describe them as historical rather than current scandals. Before I say, ‘Yeah, we’ve gotta worry about that,’ I’d like to see evidence of that happening, or is even contemplated today, and I don’t see it.”

Jaffer, however, warned that the lessons of history ought to compel serious concern that a “president will ask the NSA to use the fruits of surveillance to discredit a political opponent, journalist or human rights activist.”

“The NSA has used its power that way in the past and it would be naïve to think it couldn’t use its power that way in the future,” he said.

Arguments for which radicalizers are being targeted:

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Where the report was sent:

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Intelligence gleaned from electronic surveillance:

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 http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36983.htm

Netanyahu’s Peace Gesture is Meant to Extract Concessions

By Jonathan Cook

November 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House –   Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu made what was presumably intended to sound like a historic peace gesture towards the Palestinians last week.

He invited Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, to Jerusalem to address the Israeli parliament, echoing Menachem Begin’s invitation to Egypt’s president, Anwar Sadat, in 1977. That visit was the prelude to a peace agreement concluded the following year between Israel and Egypt.

Should Mr Abbas accept, it would pose a dilemma for his host. According to Israeli law, the right of foreigners to address the parliament is reserved to visiting heads of state.

As one Israeli commentator pointedly observed, Mr Netanyahu would have either to hurriedly change the law or to recognise Mr Abbas as the head of a Palestinian state. We can assume he is about to do neither.

In reality, Mr Netanyahu’s offer was as hollow as his previous utterances about Palestinian statehood.

Begin, a rightwing hawk too, welcomed Sadat to the parliament, where Israeli legislators listened intently to the Egyptian leader’s vision of peace.

More than 35 years later, Mr Netanyahu and his cohorts are not in the least interested in Mr Abbas’s terms for an end to the conflict, even in the midst of the current nine-month peace talks. They want him to come only if he is ready to concede terms of surrender – recognising as a Jewish state whatever enlarged borders Israel demands.

Coincidentally, the Israeli prime minister made his insincere offer while French president Francois Hollande was in the parliament calling for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Mr Hollande was wildly feted during his three-day visit to Israel, if less so during his half-day meeting with Mr Abbas in Ramallah, but his public statements offered little more than platitudes.

Saying he favoured “two states for two peoples”, Mr Hollande warned each leader that they would have to make sacrifices: the Palestinians by abandoning the dream of the refugees’ return, and Israel by ending settlement-building.

The problem is that Mr Netanyahu is not listening even to his friends. This month his housing minister, Uri Ariel, unveiled plans for 24,000 new homes in the occupied territories, the largest spike in construction in more than a decade.

The proposals include 1,200 homes in the so-called E1 area of the West Bank, a strategic strip of land next to Jerusalem that would further erode the territorial contiguity of a future Palestinian state. Washington views Israeli development there as a stake through the heart of the peace process.

Facing pressure from the White House, Mr Netanyahu put the plans on ice but has not cancelled them. On Sunday, a new batch of more than 800 settler homes was approved.

The serial humiliation has proved too much for Palestinian negotiators, who have proffered their resignations. Mr Abbas, however, has promised the United States that he will participate to the bitter end of the talks, due in April.

Strangely, Mr Netanyahu’s offer to Mr Abbas to follow in Sadat’s footsteps came as the CIA declassified documents from the 1978 Camp David agreement between Israel and Egypt. They provide an illuminating window on the current negotiations.

The then-US national security adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, privately warned that Israel had less interest in reaching a deal than either Sadat or the US president of the time, Jimmy Carter. “The risk,” he wrote to Mr Carter, “is that you could lose control of the talks and be diverted from the central issues either by Begin’s legalisms or Sadat’s imprecision.”

An almost-verbatim memo should have been sent to Barack Obama and his secretary of state, John Kerry, before these peace talks began last July. Instead the White House has kept its distance, leaving Israel to dictate both the agenda – Israel’s security – and the molluscular pace.

Aware that no progress has been made, the US is finally preparing to put forward a “framework proposal” in January in the hope of extracting a deal by the April deadline.

There has been speculation that, following the deal struck between the world’s main powers and Iran at the weekend over its nuclear programme, Mr Obama will finally be emboldened to stand strong against Israel and Mr Netanyahu’s intransigence towards the Palestinians.

Any optimism is likely to prove misplaced. It emerged last week that Martin Indyk, US envoy to the talks, had quietly recruited to his team David Makovsky. His roots, like Mr Indyk’s, lie in the hawkish pro-Israel political lobbies that have dominated Washington for decades.

In the summer, Mr Makovsky used a column in the New York Times to berate the European Union for failing to “talk tough” to the Palestinians and dispel their hopes of return for the refugees.

Mr Makovsky has probably been chosen because of his expected usefulness in the talks’ impending endgame. Specialising in the kind of detail valued by Mr Brzezinski, he has drawn up precise maps designed to provide the basis for a final agreement, one premised on extensive land swaps.

Israeli leaders have shied away from setting down on paper their vision of a Palestinian state precisely because they know it would not look much like any kind of state. Mr Makovsky is not so reticent.

His maps annex to Israel the vast majority of the illegal settlements in the West Bank, leaving a series of fingers of Israeli territory throttling a future Palestinian state and compensating the Palestinians with areas of desert, mostly near Gaza.

As the Israeli analyst Noam Sheizaf has observed, Mr Makovsky’s guiding principle in drafting these maps has been “to satiate Israel’s growing appetite for land”.

Washington has learnt nothing from its past success with the Egyptians nor from its more recent failures with the Palestinians. Mr Makovsky may add some necessary clarity, but it is exactly the kind of detail no credible Palestinian leader can ever be persuaded to accept.

Jonathan Cook is an award-winning British journalist based in Nazareth, Israel, since 2001. He is the author of three books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. www.jonathan-cook.net

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36984.htm

Ben Griffin – We Will NOT Fight For Queen and Country

Video

The vile religion of Patriotism.

Benjamin Griffin (born 1977) is a former British SAS soldier who refused to return to Iraq and left the Army, citing not only the “illegal” tactics of United States troops and the policies of coalition forces but also that the invasion itself was contrary to international law. He expected to be court-martialled, but was instead let go with a glowing testimonial from his commanding officer. He spoke to an anti-war rally in 2008 about UK involvement in extraordinary rendition the day before he was served with an injunction preventing him from speaking publicly and from publishing material about his time in the SAS.
He is the founder of Veterans for Peace in the UK – http://veteransforpeace.org.uk/

ABOUT THE OXFORD UNION SOCIETY:
The Union is the world’s most prestigious debating society, with an unparalleled reputation for bringing international guests and speakers to Oxford. It has been established for 189 years, aiming to promote debate and discussion not just in Oxford University, but across the globe.

 

Posted November 28, 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36993.htm

The Only Thing That Matters To Any Of Us Is Love

Russell Brand “I’m Awake Now”

Video

“The dead human ape has fulfilled its potential, the dead human ape has not evolved in the last 10,000 years, these are the achievements of the dead human ape; now we must transform, become enlightened, so that we can access the next realm of consciousness necessary for evolution.”

More Russell Brand

Posted November 27, 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36986.htm

The Art of War: Here is ‘a More Secure World’

By Manlio Dinucci

Global Research, November 27, 2013

129843Finally, “diplomacy opened up a new path toward a world that is more secure — a future in which we can verify that Iran’s nuclear program is peaceful and that it cannot build a nuclear weapon.” The good news was announced a month before Christmas by Nobel Peace Prize winner President Barack Obama that he had just made the world a safer place — so he could proceed with improving the hundreds of nuclear bombs that the United States still keeps in Europe: the B61 -11 have been transformed into B61 -12, which can be also used as bunker-busting bombs in a nuclear first strike.

This falls under the Obama administration’s “roadmap” for maintaining U.S. nuclear supremacy. The U.S. has about 2,150 nuclear warheads deployed, that is, ready to launch using missiles and bombers, plus a further 2,500 stockpiled in warehouses, but which can be quickly activated and an additional 3,000 that were withdrawn but not dismantled that can be reactivated: in total about 8,000 nuclear warheads.

Russia’s arsenal is comparable, but has fewer warheads ready to launch, only about 1,800. The new START treaty between the U.S. and Russia does not restrict the number of operational nuclear warheads in the two arsenals, but only those ready to launch on strategic carriers with a range greater than 5,500 km (3,418 miles): the ceiling was established at 1,550 warheads each, but is actually higher because each heavy bomber is counted as a single warhead, even if it carries twenty or more bombs. The treaty leaves open the possibility of improving the quality of nuclear forces.

To this end the U.S. is installing an anti-missile “shield” in Europe, ostensibly to neutralize an Iranian attack (something impossible at present), in reality in order to achieve a strategic advantage over Russia, which is taking countermeasures. In addition to the U.S. warheads, NATO has about 300 French and 225 British nuclear warheads, almost all ready to launch.

Israel — which is the only nuclear power in the Middle East and, unlike Iran, does not adhere to the Non-Proliferation Treaty — has an estimated 100 to 300 warheads with their vectors and produces enough plutonium to manufacture 10 -15 bombs each year like the one used in Nagasaki; it also produces tritium, a radioactive gas used to manufacture neutron warheads, which cause minor radioactive contamination but a more lethal dose.

At the same time the nuclear confrontation is developing in the Asia/Pacific region, where the United States is carrying out a military escalation. China has a nuclear arsenal, estimated at about 250 warheads, and about 60 intercontinental ballistic missiles. India has about 110 nuclear warheads, Pakistan 120, North Korea probably a few warheads.

In addition to the nine countries in possession of nuclear weapons, there are at least 40 others in a position to build them. In fact there is no clear separation between civilian and military use of nuclear energy and highly enriched uranium and plutonium suitable for the manufacture of nuclear weapons can be obtained from reactors. It is estimated that the world has accumulated enough of such materials to produce more than 100,000 nuclear weapons, and it continues to produce these materials in increasing amounts: there are over 130 “civilian” nuclear reactors that produce highly enriched uranium, suitable for the manufacture of nuclear weapons.

This is the world that “became more secure” because the five major nuclear powers plus Germany (which has provided Israel with nuclear attack submarines), have concluded an agreement according to which “Iran’s nuclear program will be exclusively peaceful.”

 Translation: John Catalinotto

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-art-of-war-here-is-a-more-secure-world/5359575

Market Euphoria During Troubled Times

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, November 27, 2013

wallstreetMajor equity markets approach nosebleed levels. Experts disagree on whether bubble extremes approach. They’re not unusual. They happen often.

The myth about markets reflecting reality is hokum. Keynes once warned about “enterprise becom(ing) the bubble on a whirlpool of (destructive) speculation.” Hard times usually follows.

Easy credit fuels speculation. Euphoria follows. Greed trumps good sense. Folly pays a big price. This time is different talk proliferates. Momentum drives prices higher.

Stories of easy riches abound. Why miss out. Overvaluation leads to more of it. Fraudsters sell at the top. Greater fools buy at the wrong time. Hindsight is the best insight. Excess ends badly every time.

Downward momentum happens faster than market upswings. Years of gains are wiped out in months. Valuations evaporate rapidly.

Goldilocks economies turn rancid without warnings. Lenders remember how to say no. Reality arrives with a bang. Animal spirits disappear. Angst becomes pervasive.

This time IS different. Market appreciation is supposed to reflect good times. They go hand in hand. Ordinary people are fighting for the soul of the American dream.

It’s fast disappearing. It’s dying. Main Street Depression conditions are killing it. They’re at levels last seen in the 1930s.

Spin hides them. Fed governors say QE and low interest rates stimulate economic growth. It’s cover for what’s been ongoing since late 2008.

It artificially inflates markets. It keeps too-big-to fail banks from collapsing. It’s failed to stimulate economic growth. It weakened the dollar. It created bond and equity market bubbles.

Offshoring manufacturing and professional high-pay/good benefit jobs to low wage countries prevents growth. Replacing them with low pay/poor or no benefits ones doesn’t compensate.

Money printing madness isn’t forever. Reality has final say. The greater the excess, the bigger the bang when it arrives. America is in decline. It’s on a collision course with trouble.

Weakness defines current conditions. Markets astonishingly defy gravity. They’re rising during economic decline.

It’s practically unheard of during hard times. Market declines nearly always accompany them. Not this time. Fed/Wall Street manipulation elevates them higher.

Imagine doing so during protracted economic weakness. Short-term recoveries punctuate it. Fundamental problems are unresolved.

Real investment is weak. Western unemployment and poverty remain disturbingly high. Banks aren’t lending. Major ones are insolvent. Consumers are spending less. Government debt levels are rising. They’re dangerously high.

In the past two decades, Japan experienced multiple recessions. Doing so reflects classic stagnation. It reflects longterm decline.

Money printing madness hasn’t stimulated sustained economic growth. Since 2008, Japan experienced a triple-dip recession. Expect a fourth to follow.

Eurozone economies and Britain remain extremely troubled. Greece, Spain, Portugal, Ireland and Italy are basket cases.

Austerity is force fed when stimulus is needed. Hard times for ordinary people go from bad to worse. Troubled banks assure continued economic weakness.

Markets are addicted to free money. Providing it comes at the expense of Main Street. Communities are wrecked. Economic growth is sacrificed. Offshoring jobs America most needs exacerbates things.

Fragility, weakness and instability characterizes economic conditions. Hard times keep getting harder.

Markets are oblivious to what’s happening. Free money keeps party time going. Perhaps another banking crash will change things. Maybe it’ll be worse than before. Cassandras predict it. Maybe they’re right. Hindsight explains best.

Ben Inker co-heads GMO investments Asset Allocation team. He’s a GMO Board of Directors member. He believes US equity markets are about 40% overvalued.

He calls fair S&P fair value 1,100. It currently exceeds 1,800. It’s in nosebleed territory. It could go much higher before topping out. Markets work that way.

Irrational exuberance characterizes them in times like these. There’s never been anything like them before in memory. Coinciding with hard times is unheard of. For how long remains to be seen.

Small cap overvaluation is even more extreme than large cap S&P equities.

“The US stock market is trading at levels that do not seem capable of supporting the type of returns that investors have gotten used to receiving from equities,” said Inker.

“Our additional work does nothing but confirm our prior beliefs about the current attractiveness – or rather lack of attractiveness – of the US stock market.”

Legendary investor Jeremy Grantham co-founded GMO. Admirers call him the philosopher king of Wall Street. He operates north in Boston.

What’s ongoing reflects another bubble/bust scenario. According to Grantham:

“One of the more painful lessons in investing is that the prudent investor almost invariably must forego plenty of fun at the top end of markets.”

“This market is already no exception, but speculation can hurt prudence much more and probably will.”

“Ah, that’s life. Be prudent and you’ll probably forego gains. Be risky and you’ll probably make some more money, but you may be bushwhacked and, if you are, your excuses will look thin.”

Robert Shiller popularized the Shiller P/E ratio. It’s 50% above its longterm average. The US equity market is way overvalued.

Shiller’s S&P ratio uses a 10-year inflation-adjusted earnings average to calculate valuation. Historically, it averaged 16.5 longterm.

Shiller’s current ratio slightly exceeds 25. It’s worrisome. At 28.8, it’s bubble territory,” he says.

Warren Buffett has his own favorite metric. He calculates market value of all publicly traded securities based on a percentage of Gross National Product (GNP). He calls it the best single valuations measure.

GNP values goods and services produced at home and abroad. According to Buffett:

“If the percentage relationship falls to the 70% or 80% area, buying stocks is likely to work very well for you.”

“If the ratio approaches 200% – as it did in 1999 and (early) 2000 – you are playing with fire.”

In late November, it was 134%. It’s in the 94th percentile of results over the past six decades. It’s well above the 60-year average.

It’s way overvalued. It perhaps heading for 1999 levels. The fullness of time will tell.

Economic conditions then were strong. Weakness followed. Protracted hard times reflects what’s ongoing now.

Markets may go higher before peaking. Or maybe not. Betting on continued advances is a fool’s game.

Winning makes investors look smart. Losing extracts pain when bubbles pop. Is this time different? We heard it lots of times before.

It bears repeating. Hindsight is the best insight. Forewarned is forearmed.

A Final Comment

On November 25, the Washington Post headlined “Among American workers, poll finds unprecedented anxiety about jobs, economy.”

John Stewart is typical of others. He’s middle-aged. His job pays too little to live on. “I can’t save any money,” he said. He can’t “buy the things (he) need(s) to live as a human being.”

Over four years into so-called recovery, “American workers are living with unprecedented economic anxiety,” said WaPo. Low income workers feel it most.

A recent WaPo-Miller Center poll showed over six in 10 workers fear losing their jobs. Concerns are greater than found in previous surveys dating from the 1970s.

Low income workers worry most. At the same time, angst today affects “all levels of the income ladder.

“Once you control for economic and demographic factors, there is no partisan divide,” said WaPo.

“There’s no racial divide, either, and no gender gap. It also doesn’t matter where you live.”

At issue is protracted Main Street Depression level economic conditions. Millions of Americans are unemployed. Millions more are underemployed.

Incomes don’t keep up with inflation. Job insecurity is unprecedented in modern times.

Conditions go from bad to worse. Every day reflects a struggle to survive. It’s the new normal. It shows no signs of ending.

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/iran-nuclear-deal-bashing/

http://www.dailycensored.com/market-euphoria-troubled-times/

http://www.globalresearch.ca/market-euphoria-during-troubled-times/5359589

Obama’s web portal contractor runs Army Human Terrain System

27.11.2013

by John Stanton

Who knew?

Obama's web portal contractor runs Army Human Terrain System. 51628.jpeg

President Obama should have made sure that his staff checked out the performance credentials of CGI Federal before awarding it millions of dollars to push out a key element of the President’s signature healthcare initiative. The Washington Post, Daily Caller, New York Times, Probublica, Wall Street Journal and, well, hell!, all of the legacy and non-legacy media, have now reported widely on the flaky technical work of CGI Federal and the journey that led to the healthcare’s website flop.  That of course refers to the debacle that is Obama’s Affordable Care Act web portal which was to have allowed hundreds of thousands of Americans to register for various health care plans.

CGI Federal has a bumpy performance track record that also includes US Army Human Terrain System (HTS) which remains a controversial and troubled program with ongoing allegations of time card fraud and employee harassment.

PolicMic has listed the US Army’s HTS program as number four in its top five list of most wasteful government programs. One of the comments attached to that piece by “Beau” implies that the HTS troubles date only to the launch of the that program and a year or so after that. That is wildly incorrect as articles reporting on the continued woes of the Human Terrain program-as late as 2013-have appeared in publications in the United States and abroad.

In an intriguing twist it seems that the Affordable Care Act web portal and the Army Human Terrain System were awarded to CGI Federal based, in large part, on having friends in high places. According to the The Daily Caller, “Toni Townes-Whitley, who worked alongside her classmate Michelle Obama in multiple Princeton University student groups, became senior vice president of CGI Federal in May 2010. CGI was the only eligible company considered for the contract to build the disastrous HealthCare.gov Obamacare enrollment site.

Over at the Army’s HTS, there is a nagging belief that CGI Federal received the HTS award largely thanks to a friendship between former HTS head Colonel Sharon Hamilton, USA (Ret.) and one of the founders of Oberon Associates, a subsidiary of CGI Federal (earlier Oberon was a division of Stanley which itself was purchased by CGI). Some also hold the view that some personnel in BAE (former HTS contractor) conspired to steer the contract towards CGI.

The saddest element in both these cases is that the personnel who work in the weeds each and every day–and those citizens/foreigners who are suppose to be the beneficiaries of these efforts-get screwed: there is no polite way to put it.  The exact same thing is happening over at the US Army’s Center for Substance Abuse Programs. And these days, no one in these programs dare speak out about corruption or program flaws as that is now treated as a security breach.

John Stanton 

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

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/27-11-2013/126253-army_human_terrain_system-0/

Cost of UK home ownership pushing people over the edge

By Jean Shaoul 

27 November 2013

Millions of people in Britain are struggling under the weight of mortgage debt and are on the brink of financial collapse.

A report by the Centre for Social Justice think tank, entitled MaxedOut: serious personal debt in Britain, warned that millions of families do not have enough money to cover their rent or mortgage for more than a month, while thousands are being made homeless every year because they cannot meet their payments.

Household debt in Britain has reached its highest level ever. At more than £1.5 trillion, it is roughly equal to the nation’s GDP. This means that the average household debt across the country is £56,000, which is 60 percent more than average household income and 50 percent higher than a decade ago.

Made up of mortgage debt, credit card, student, and personal loans, by far the largest component is home loans at £1.27 trillion. It reflects the exorbitant increase in the already high cost of buying a home and means that a raft of social indices, devastating though they are, fail to capture the hardship and distress in which so many families find themselves as they struggle and fail to make ends meet.

According to figures released by the Office for National Statistics, the average cost of a home in Britain has climbed to £247,000, a sum nearly 10 times the average wage—and up to £437,000 in London—following a 3.8 percent rise over the past year. Prices are now the highest on record, rising even faster than the previous peak months before the global financial collapse in 2008.

The Council of Mortgage Lenders (CML) reported that gross mortgage lending rose to £17.6 billion in October, its highest level in five years and up by more than a third on the same month last year. These figures have only just begun to reflect the government’s controversial £12 billion “Help to Buy” policy, which is stoking the demand for homes at a time when the number of properties for sale in the parts of the country where there are jobs is in short supply.

The scheme, designed to increase the availability of 95 percent mortgages but in reality another subvention to the banks, enables people to buy a home of up to £600,000 on a deposit of only five percent, with the government providing a guarantee to the lender of up to 15 percent of the loan. Most of the high street banks have begun offering loans under the initiative.

The CML said gross lending had increased by 9 percent in October alone, and that it expected the figures to increase in the coming months as the Help to Buy scheme kicked in.

According to the National Institute for Economic and Social Research, more than one in four private sector workers have been hit by at least one annual pay cut or pay freeze, rising to 48 percent in the public sector, while income per hour has fallen by 6 percent in real terms since 2010. Falling wages, unemployment, underemployment and rising prices have all taken their toll on incomes and people’s ability to manage their mortgages, which now average £112,727. The results have been catastrophic.

Three hundred thousand people were in arrears on their mortgages in 2012, with 34,000 homes being repossessed. While this is a reduction of 30 percent from the peak of the recession, it is a 60 percent overall increase since 2006.

The Centre for Social Justice found that almost half of households in the lowest income decile spent more than a quarter of their income on debt repayments in 2011. The real figure is far higher than that. It is not unusual for one wage in a two-wage household to go on mortgage repayment; indeed it is the norm. More than 26,000 households were accepted by local councils as homeless in the last five years, including more than 5,000 last year, because of mortgage and rent arrears.

The financial situation is likely to get far worse as today many households are able to keep the heads above water because interest rates are relatively low. The Bank of England indicated in August that it would raise interest rates from its historic low of 0.5 percent should unemployment fall below 7 percent or inflation gather speed. Since then unemployment has fallen faster than the BoE expected, to 7.6 percent in the three months to September.

When interest rates increase, many people will enter a debt spiral, with the prospect of losing their homes as they struggle to keep up their mortgage repayments. As the Financial Times reported recently, up to 650,000 households in the UK face “debt peril” if mortgage rates were to rise.

As well as mortgage debt, consumer debt has trebled since 1993 and now stands at £158 billion, or £3,183 per adult in September, down from a few years ago as people have cut back on spending. Credit card debt rose to £55.6 billion in 2012.

With the cost of food having gone up by 33 percent between 2007 and 2013, and the cost of butter, meat, and fruit having increased by more than that, spending on food rose by at least £14 a month across all families in the first six months of this year, equivalent to £168 per year. They have cut back on a range of non-essential items, including satellite TV subscriptions and entertainment activities, to compensate.

Maxing out said that those most vulnerable to debt problems were the unemployed, older people, single parents and the poorest. It reported that 1.1 million people over the age of 50 had debt problems, 87 percent of Citizens Advice Bureau’s debt clients had annual incomes of less than £18,000, that 41 percent of StepChange’s debt clients lived in social housing, and three quarters of Christians against Poverty’s clients receive some form of state benefit, with more than one in five being single mothers.

The high street banks’ refusal to provide credit to the less well off has led to a huge increase in the demand for short-term credit—from payday lenders, pawnbrokers and doorstop lenders—which is now worth £4.8 billion a year. More than 1.4 million people have no access to a bank account and “are effectively excluded from the entire financial sector” and pushed into the arms of the moneylenders.

One in 20 families relies on payday loans to get by. With essential bills having risen by 25 percent since 2007, one in six payday loans are used to pay outstanding household bills. Payday lenders have more than doubled their business, from £900 million in 2008-09 to just over £2 billion—around eight million loans—in 2011-12. Their interest rates are usurious, and can be as much as 5,000 percent APR.

A further three percent of families make use of pawnbrokers, while the number of people resorting to loan sharks has almost doubled to 310,000 since 2008. In Britain’s most deprived areas, one in 12 families borrows from illegal money lenders, compared to just one in 200 in the general population. These criminals use all sorts of illegal means to extort money from their victims, including the arbitrary raising of interest rates, demanding payments or charging penalties, and the use of violence and intimidation to terrorise and silence people and communities.

Taken together, this means that the poor pay a “poverty premium”, a £1,280 annual surcharge on everyday goods and services, further driving down their disposable income.

The total amount of interest paid on total interest payments in the last twelve months is about £60 billion, or £163 million day. That equates to an average £2,262 per household per year that is going to the banks, financial institutions, payday lenders, pawnbrokers, and loan sharks. Families are working to enrich these financial parasites.

There has been an increase in the demand by business for debt collection agencies to recover debts on their behalf, with an increased use of the courts—1,655 County Court judgements are now issued every day, with an average value of £2,383. So desperate are they that 285 people are declared insolvent or bankrupt every day.

Debt advice agencies have seen an average 30 percent increase in enquiries. The Citizens Advice Bureaux in England and Wales alone dealt with 7,420 new debt cases every working day during the year ending June 2013. Many agencies have been overwhelmed with new customers calling each and every day, building up a backlog of work, with some people waiting up to six weeks for an appointment. Some have refused to take on new customers.

Despite this demand, funding for free debt advice is at risk.

The Centre for Social Justice warned that debt is wreaking havoc on people’s mental health and well-being, and is a major factor leading to family breakdown and addiction.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/27/debt-n27.html

Australian government moves to gut public education funding

By Patrick O’Connor 

27 November 2013

Education Minister Christopher Pyne yesterday announced that the Liberal-National Coalition government is junking existing four-year school funding arrangements, breaking repeated pre-election promises not to do so. The government will next year unveil a new funding model that will retain all the former Labor government’s standardised testing and “pay for performance” mechanisms, while being even more heavily skewed in favour of wealthy private schools and against the public education system.

During the campaign for the September 7 election, then opposition leader Tony Abbott declared a “unity ticket” with the Labor government on school funding. “We will honour the agreements that Labor has entered into,” he declared in August. “We will make sure that no school is worse off.”

This has now been jettisoned as the Coalition government prepares to implement the demands of finance capital and big business for sweeping austerity measures. Pyne seized on an alleged $1.2 billion funding shortfall inherited from the Labor government as the pretext for scrapping the funding model, called the Better Schools or “Gonski” plan. “The cupboard is very bare,” the education minister said, insisting that “the treasurer and the finance minister are very short of funds [and] it’s not possible to simply find that money.”

This was another barefaced lie from the government. There are vast resources, controlled by the ultra-wealthy at the top of society, available to fund a high quality, freely accessible public education for the entire population. The government, however, aims to accelerate the shift of students from the public system into private schools by funnelling even more public funds to elite schools, accessible only to children whose parents can afford the enormous annual fees, up to $30,000 a year. Public schools, especially those in working class areas, will be deprived of essential funding and be under constant threat of amalgamation or closure.

Pyne yesterday declared that he would devise a new funding model for 2015, explaining that “a good starting point” is the former Liberal-National Howard government’s Socio-Economic Status (SES) scheme, under which the wealthiest schools were each allocated millions of dollars in federal funding every year. This funding model, which the Rudd and Gillard governments maintained until just before Labor lost office in September, helped create one of the world’s most segregated school systems, with children from working class and rich families concentrated in different institutions.

The Abbott government is only able to proceed with its assault on public education because of the former Labor government’s record. There is bipartisan agreement on the goal of education “reform,” with Labor and Liberal both promoting a privatised, “user pays” system within which schools and teachers are assessed on the outcomes of standardised literacy and numeracy tests, and students subjected to the narrowest curricula in line with corporate demands for a more productive workforce.

Julia Gillard, first as education minister and then prime minister under the 2007-2013 Labor government, went far further than the previous Howard government in advancing this agenda. In partnership with the education trade unions, Gillard introduced the NAPLAN (National Assessment Program―Literacy and Numeracy) testing regime and MySchool web site, which publishes schools’ test results.

The Labor government’s “Gonski” funding model was developed to advance further standardised testing and tie teachers’ salaries to the results. Funding promised to the state governments, which run public schools, depended on them signing up to a “National Plan for School Improvement” that included imposing new annual performance reviews on teachers and making school principals develop annual plans on how they intended to boost students’ test scores.

“Business leaders tell me about skill shortages today and how the future will demand higher and higher skill levels,” Gillard declared in September 2012 when she announced the “Gonski” model. “Put bluntly, our businesses will be unable to compete if our children’s education keeps falling behind.”

The Labor Party, the Greens, and the trade unions promoted the “Gonski” scheme as a major progressive reform. In reality, every aspect was designed to undermine the public education system. Initial additional funding—which was grossly inadequate given the systematic starving of public schools of resources by successive Labor and Liberal governments—was to partly come from multi-billion dollar cuts to the university sector. Moreover, the Gonski model was based on funding schools based on a flat rate per student, with additional “loadings” calculated on the basis of socio-economic or other disadvantage. This marked a step toward a “free market” voucher system, where under the guise of parental “choice,” families are provided a set amount of money to enrol their children in either a public or private school.

The Abbott government now plans to retain all the regressive features of the Gonski model, with even less funding.

This has triggered ructions with the states, including those with Liberal governments, which signed funding agreements with the former Labor government. These states now confront budgetary shortfalls, which will likely trigger further spending cuts at the state level. New South Wales Liberal Premier Barry O’Farrell declared that Pyne needed to learn to “have respectful discussions and consultations in private, not through the media.”

The Abbott government has dismissed the criticisms, with education minister Pyne insisting that “what one government does, another government can undo.” On ABC television last night Pyne declared that no “social equity” issue existed in Australian schools, an unmistakable indication of the government’s intention to favour elite private schools.

More broadly, the government is using the schools’ funding decision to send a clear signal to the ruling class at home, and the credit rating agencies and investors abroad—that notwithstanding Abbott’s declarations of a “no surprises” government, it is prepared to take whatever measures required to advance the ruthless austerity measures demanded by big business.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/11/27/gons-n27.html

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