Monthly Archives: January 2014

Israel’s Secret Nuclear Program

By Stephen Lendman

Global Research, January 31, 2014

israelflagIt’s an open secret. It’s been known for years. Mainstream media suppress it. They pretend none exists.

It’s real. It’s menacing. Imagine ignoring what threatens humanity. Imagine pretending Iran’s peaceful nuclear program does so. Imagine risking regional or global war by doing it.

London’s Guardian is an establishment broadsheet. It’s usually conformist. Once in a while it’s not.

It wrote many times about Edward’s Snowden’s revelations. It told readers what they need to know. On January 15, it headlined ”The Truth about Israel’s secret nuclear arsenal.”

Rarely ever would US establishment publications suggest one. Or Israel’s chemical and biological weapons.

They’re used freely against Palestinians and other adversaries. Doctors discover injuries never saw before seen. Mainstream media ignore them.

Israel’s nuclear program is one of the world’s best known open secrets. It’s still not publicly acknowledged. It’s hard refuting indisputable evidence.

Israel began developing nuclear technology decades ago. It did so “deep beneath desert sands,” said the Guardian.

It “us(ed) technology and materials provided by friendly powers…” It did it the old-fashioned way. A “clandestine network of agents” stole it.

It’s the “stuff of pulp thrillers and the sort of narrative often used to characterise the worst fears about” Iran’s nuclear program. One’s military, the other entirely peaceful.

“In reality…neither US or British intelligence believes Tehran has decided to build a bomb…” Its program is the world’s most closely monitored.

Israel’s is entirely clandestine. It’s illegal. Iran’s fully complies with NPT provisions. Israel won’t sign the landmark treaty. It wants nothing about its program revealed. It wants freedom to enhance it.

Its open secret reflects “an extraordinary feat of subterfuge,” said the Guardian. It produced a powerful arsenal. It’s enhanced by long-range delivery systems.

Israel threatens to use all its weapons if threatened. It’s used chemical, biological and radiological ones against Gaza and Lebanon. It’ll do it again in future conflicts.

Despite open knowledge of its nuclear program, Israel’s position is never confirm or deny. In December, former Knesset speaker, Avraham Burg, broke the taboo.

He said Israel has nuclear and chemical weapons. He called official non-disclosure “outdated and childish.” He called for “open and brave public discussion.”

He said only “regional dialogue, including with Iran” could create a nuclear-free Middle East. Burg is a former Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee member.

He has direct knowledge of Israel’s nuclear program. The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel is a right-wing group. It wants Burg investigated. It accused him of “treason.”

He revealed a key national security secret, it said. He disclosed what’s increasingly common knowledge. Israel’s nondisclosure policy is nonsensical.

Western governments play along with Israeli “opacity.” Obama won’t discuss it. Nor other US officials. Nor mainstream media. They pretend none exists.

Britain is largely silent. In November, Baroness Sayeeda Warsi was asked about it in the House of Lords. She tried being circumspect.

She said what’s rarely heard. “Israel has not declared a nuclear weapons programme. We have regular discussions with the government of Israel on a range of nuclear-related issues,” she said.

“The government of Israel is in no doubt as to our views. We encourage Israel to become a state party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.”

According to the Guardian, countries conspiring with Israel’s nuclear program include America, France, Germany, Britain and Norway. It omitted South Africa.

Israeli agents were involved. So was a Hollywood billionaire. Arnon Milchan admitted his role. He did so last month.

He was born in Israel. He supported Israel’s nuclear program decades ago, saying:

“Do you know what it’s like to be a 20-something-year-old kid (and your) country lets (you) be James Bond? Wow! The action! That was exiting.”

He operated in 17 countries. He worked with 30 companies. He brokered deals worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

It was a challenge overcoming his arms dealing reputation, he said. He had to convince people he didn’t “live off selling machine guns and killing.”

He risked his life aiding Israel. Israeli President Shimon Peres was its unacknowledged nuclear weapons architect.

He recruited Milchan. Actor Ben Affleck calls him “a very mysterious, exotic figure in Hollywood.” Actor Robert De Niro asked about his clandestine activities for Israel.

“He (said) he was an Israeli and that of course he would do these things for his country,” De Niro said.

He had no qualms about being a secret agent. He wasn’t concerned about its illegal nuclear program.

He didn’t consider its potential harm. He ignored its destructiveness. Israel’s first prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, secretly ordered developmental activities.

It began after Israel’s creation. Ehud Avriel was a European operative. He was a later MK. He recruited East European Jewish scientists.

Avraham Marcus Klingberg was enlisted. He later became an Israeli chemical and biological weapons (CBW) expert. He was Israel Institute of Biological Research deputy director.

Ernst David Bergmann was the father of Israel’s bomb. He later headed the Israeli Atomic Energy Commission (IAEC).

In his farewell address to the Israeli Armaments Development Authority (RAFAEL), Ben-Gurion defended his agenda, saying:

“I am confident, based not only on what I heard today, that our science can provide us with the weapons that are needed to deter our enemies from waging war against us.”

He and Peres were the leading forces behind Israel’s nuclear and CBW programs.

By the early 1970s, Israel had advanced nuclear technology. It had world class scientists. It had several dozen ready to launch bombs. It had delivery systems able to hit distant targets.

France and South Africa were Israel’s main collaborators. Washington supplied a five-megawatt research reactor.

It was part of Eisenhower’s “Atoms for Peace” program. Washington became complicit in Israel’s illicit development.

Israeli scientists were trained at US universities. They had access to domestic weapons labs.

They got advanced technology transfers. They included supercomputers able to design sophisticated nuclear weapons and delivery systems.

Mordechai Vanunu became a heroic whistleblower. He did so long before term gained prominence. He exposed Israeli nuclear secrets. He revealed what everyone has a right to know.

He was unjustly punished. Israel dispenses it ruthlessly. He spent 18 years imprisoned. He was isolated brutally in solitary confinement.

He’s been harassed ever since. His fundamental civil and human rights are denied. He’s prevented from leaving Israel. He wants to do so to live free.

Daniel Ellsberg once called him “the preeminent hero of the nuclear era.” Vanunu says he’s neither traitor nor spy. “I only wanted the world to know what was happening,” he said.

From 1988 – 2004, he was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize each year. His heroism is recognized worldwide.

Israel has destructive chemical and biological weapons arsenals. In 1993, it signed the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

It refused to ratify it. It did so for spurious reasons. It wrongfully claims it’s surrounded by hostile neighbors. Israel’s only enemies are ones it invents.

It never signed the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention (BWC). Its policy is CBW ambiguity. It uses banned weapons in all its conflicts.

They include chemical, biological, and radiological ones. Monstrous new weapons are tested. Victims attest to their potency.

Corpses bear witness to hideous wounds, malformations and toxicity. Official policy prohibits discussing anything related to Israel’s nuclear, chemical or biological programs. Doing so is considered treason.

Israel’s destructive weapons threaten world peace. So do America’s. Both countries partner in crime.

Daily events should scare everyone. Warmakers win peace prizes. Peacemakers are vilified. Criminality is rewarded.

Permanent war is official US policy. Israel is a warrior state. Both countries threaten humanity. It may not survive Obama’s second term.

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

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

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.globalresearch.ca/israels-secret-nuclear-program/5366851

Why Is The Fed Tapering?

By Paul Craig Roberts and Dave Kranzler

January 31 2014 “Information Clearing House –  On January 17, 2014, we explained “The Hows and Whys of Gold Price Manipulation.” In former times, the rise in the gold price was held down by central banks selling gold or leasing gold to bullion dealers who sold the gold. The supply added in this way to the market absorbed some of the demand, thus holding down the rise in the gold price.

As the supply of physical gold on hand diminished, increasingly recourse was taken to selling gold short in the paper futures market. We illustrated a recent episode in our article. Below we illustrate the uncovered short-selling that took the gold price down today (January 30, 2014).

When the Comex trading floor opened January 30 at 8:20AM NY time, the price of gold inexplicably plunged $17 over the next 30 minutes. The price plunge was triggered when sell orders flooded the Comex trading floor. Over the course of the previous 23 hours of trading, an average of 202 gold contracts per minute had traded. But starting at the 8:20AM Comex, there were four 1-minute windows of trading here’s what happened:

8:21AM: 1766 contracts sold
8:22AM: 5172 contracts sold
8:31AM: 3242 contracts sold
8:47AM: 3515 contracts sold

image

Over those four minutes of trading, an average of 3,424 contracts per minute traded, or 17 times the average per minute volume of the previous 23 hours, including yesterday’s Comex trading session.

The yellow arrow indicates when the Comex floor opened for gold futures trading. There was not any news events or related market events that would have triggered a sell-off like this in gold. If an entity holding many contracts wanted to sell down its position, it would accomplish this by slowly feeding its position to the market over the course of the entire trading day in order to avoid disturbing the price or “telegraphing” its intent to sell to the market.

Instead, today’s selling was designed to flood the Comex trading floor with a high volume of sell orders in rapid succession in order to drive the price of gold as low as possible before buyers stepped in.

The reason for this is two-fold: Driving down the price of gold assists the Fed in its efforts to support the dollar, and the Comex is running out of physical gold available to be delivered to those who decide to take delivery of gold instead of cash settlement.

The February gold contract is subject to delivery starting on January 31st. As of January 29th, 2 days before the delivery period starts, there were 2,223,000 ounces of gold futures open against 375,000 ounces of gold available to be delivered. The primary banks who trade Comex gold (JP Morgan, HSBC, Bank Nova Scotia) are the primary entities who are short those Comex contracts. Typically toward the end of a delivery month, these banks drive the price of gold lower for the purpose of coercing holders of the contracts to sell. This avoids the problem of having a shortage of gold available to deliver to the entities who decide to take delivery. With an enormous amount of physical gold moving from the western bank vaults to the large Asian buyers of gold, the Comex ultimately does not have enough gold to honor delivery obligations should the day arrive when a fifth or a fourth of the contracts are presented for delivery. Prior to a delivery period or due date on the contracts, manipulation is used to drive the Comex price of gold as low as possible in order to induce enough selling to avoid a possible default on gold delivery.

Following the taper announcement on January 29, the gold price rose $14 to $1270, and the Dow Jones Index dropped 100 points, closing down 74 points from its trading level at the time the tapering was announced. These reactions might have surprised the Fed, leading to the stock market support and gold price suppression on January 30.

Manipulation of the gold price is a foregone conclusion. The question is: why is the Fed tapering? The official reason is that the recovery is now strong enough not to need the stimulus. There are two problems with the official explanation. One is that the purpose of QE has always been to support the prices of the debt-related derivatives on the balance sheets of the banks too big to fail. The other is that the Fed has enough economists and statisticians to know that the recovery is a statistical artifact of deflating GDP with an understated measure of inflation. No other indicator–employment, labor force participation, real median family income, real retail sales, or new construction–indicates economic recovery. Moreover, if in fact the economy has been in recovery since June 2009, after 4.5 years of recovery it is time for a new recession.

One possible explanation for the tapering is that the Fed has created enough new dollars with which to purchase the worst part of the banks’ balance sheet problems and transfer them to the Fed’s balance sheet, while in other ways enhancing the banks’ profits. With the job done, the Fed can slowly back off.

The problem with this explanation is that the liquidity that the Fed has created found its way into the stock and bond markets and into emerging economies. Curtailing the flow of liquidity crashes the markets, bringing on a new financial crisis.

We offer two explanations for the tapering. One is technical, and one is strategic.

First the technical explanation. The Fed’s bond purchases and the banks’ interest rate swap derivatives have made a dent in the supply of Treasuries. With income tax payments starting to flow in, fewer Treasuries are being issued to put pressure on interest rates. This permits the Fed to make a show of doing the right thing and reduce bond purchases. As a weakening economy becomes apparent as the year progresses, calls for the Fed to support the economy will permit the Fed to broaden the array of instruments that it purchases.

A strategic explanation for tapering is that the growth of US debt and money creation is causing the world to turn a jaundiced eye toward the US dollar and toward its role as world reserve currency.

Currently the Russian Duma is discussing legislation that would eliminate the dollar’s use and presence in Russia. Other countries are moving away from the dollar. Recently the Nigerian central bank reduced its dollar reserves and increased its holdings of Chinese yuan. Zimbabwe, which was using the US dollar as its own currency, switched to Chinese yuan. The former chief economist of the World Bank recently called for terminating the use of the dollar as world reserve currency. He said that “the dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises.” Moreover, the Federal Reserve is very much aware of the flight away from the dollar into gold, because it is this flight that causes the Fed to manipulate the gold price in order to hold it down and in order to be able to free up gold for delivery.

The Fed knows that the ability of the US to pay its bills in its own currency is the reason it can stand its large trade imbalance and is the basis for US power. If the dollar loses the reserve currency role, the US becomes just another country with balance of payments and currency problems and an inability to sell its bonds in order to finance its budget deficits.

In other words, perhaps the Fed understands that a dollar crisis is a bigger crisis than a bank crisis and that its bailout of the banks is undermining the dollar. The question is: will the Fed let the banks go in order to save the dollar?

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy.

Dave Kranzler traded high yield bonds for Bankers Trust for a decade. As a co-founder and principal of Golden Returns Capital LLC, he manages the Precious Metals Opportunity Fund.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37513.htm

Obama and Kerry Jeopardize Peace with Iran

By Sheldon Richman

January 31 2014 “Information Clearing House –  Barack Obama and John Kerry should make up their minds: Do they want war or peace with Iran?

We should hope for peace, but Obama and Kerry make optimism difficult.

Ideally, the Obama administration would simply exit the Middle East, taking all its military and economic aid with it. The U.S. government cannot micromanage events there, especially when it is no honest, neutral broker. Shamefully, it is firmly in the Israeli camp against the Palestinians (who, let us remember, are the occupied, not the occupiers), and generally in the Sunni Muslim camp against the Shi’ites, led by Iran. (Iraq is the anomaly.)

As welcome as a U.S. exit would be, alas, it won’t happen anytime soon, so the best we can hope for is rapprochement with Iran. The U.S.-led economic sanctions impose an unconscionable hardship on Iranians — for example, depriving the elderly and children of medicines and nourishment. Clearly, a war would be catastrophic on many levels for nearly all concerned, including Americans. (I say “nearly all” because opportunistic rulers in Israel and Saudi Arabia could benefit.)

Given the circumstances, one might expect signs of wholehearted American support for rapprochement, but we’re not seeing them. The U.S. government, along with the four other permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany, reached an interim agreement with Iran aimed at demonstrating the peaceful nature of the Islamic Republic’s nuclear facilities. Of course, we already knew the intentions are peaceful. Iran is a party to the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) and is routinely inspected by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which has certified that no uranium has been diverted to weapons production. Moreover, U.S. and Israeli intelligence say that Iran has not decided to build a nuclear bomb, and its Supreme Leader long ago condemned weapons of mass destruction as sinful.

Under the interim agreement, which is to be a bridge to a permanent accord, Iran will take additional measures to reassure the world, including converting its enriched uranium to a form unsuitable for weapons but appropriate for power generation and medical purposes.

This should cheer all peace-minded people. So why do Obama and Kerry say things that make us doubt their sincerity about seeking a diplomatic resolution?

For example, Kerry recently said that “the military option that is available to the United States is ready and prepared to do what it would have to do.” Threatening war hardly demonstrates the spirit of peace-making.

Further, investigative reporter Gareth Porter points out that Kerry repeatedly says the agreement obligates Iran to “dismantle” nuclear equipment, such as centrifuges used to enrich uranium. Iranian President Hassan Rouhani protests that this is incorrect. Porter writes that the “tough U.S. rhetoric may be adding new obstacles to the search for a comprehensive nuclear agreement.”

Is the administration moving the goal posts?

“In fact,” Porter continues, drawing on CNN interviews, “[Iranian foreign minister Javad] Zarif has put on the table proposals for resolving the remaining enrichment issues that the Barack Obama administration has recognized as serious and realistic.… Zarif observed that the actual agreement said nothing about ‘dismantling’ any equipment.… So Iran was not required by the interim agreement to ‘dismantle’ anything.” Instead, Iran agreed not to enrich over 5 percent, far below weapons grade, “and not increase enrichment capacity.” Kerry’s use of the word “dismantle” when discussing the future permanent agreement also disturbs Iran’s leaders.

The NPT does not prohibit parties from enriching uranium for electricity and medical treatments.

“The Obama administration’s rhetoric of ‘dismantlement,’ however, has created a new political reality: the US news media has accepted the idea that Iran must ‘dismantle’ at least some of its nuclear program to prove that it is not seeking nuclear weapons,” Porter writes.

Thus, Kerry’s deception could inflame the public against Iran and jeopardize the chance of a settlement.

Obama himself told the New Yorker’s David Remnick there’s less than an even chance of a permanent agreement, which is worse than the odds he gave late last year. And while he reminded Americans that it was the United States that overthrew a democratic Iranian government in 1953, he called on Israel and Saudi Arabia to focus on their common bond against Iran.

That doesn’t sound like a man seeking peace.

Sheldon Richman is vice president of The Future of Freedom Foundation and editor of FFF’s monthly journal, Future of Freedom. For 15 years he was editor of The Freeman, published by the Foundation for Economic Education in Irvington, New York. He is the author of FFF’s award-winning book Separating School & State: How to Liberate America’s Families; Your Money or Your Life: Why We Must Abolish the Income Tax; and Tethered Citizens: Time to Repeal the Welfare State.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37509.htm

Abolishing War, Resurrecting Fallujah

By Robert Koehler

January 31 2014 “Information Clearing House –  Iraq vet Ross Caputi’s film opens with a fleeting synopsis of the American heartbreak — and the bandage we tape across it.

His documentary, Fear Not the Path of Truth, is about the U.S. devastation of Fallujah, in which he participated as part of Operation Phantom Fury in November 2004, but the first couple minutes give us an overview of his hometown, the “former industrial city” of Fitchburg, Mass.:

“But the factory jobs are long gone, so there’s really only two types of people that live here. They’re the people with good-paying jobs in Boston or Worcester who come out here to build big houses at relatively cheap prices. Everyone else gets by doing work on those houses, doing their lawns, putting additions on them, painting them.

“If there was a point of unity among all the racial and economic divisions in this little city, it had to be the troops. Everyone respected the troops.”

I was struck especially hard by this small moment because it encapsulates the lie of militarism where it is most invulnerable: at the humanity of the men and women who protect us, putting their lives on the line. When all else goes wrong, the troops remain sacred. In a broken economy, the troops are sacred. Militarism is the god we can manipulate.

And yet the moment to expel this lie from human society has never been riper. The trans-national cost of militarism is some $2 trillion a year, according to an ambitious new website called World Beyond War. The insanity of war not only squanders our resources, ravages the environment and slaughters the innocent, it perpetuates a global culture of violence, which is the very thing we honor our troops for protecting us from.

“Unless we want to risk catastrophic loss or even extinction, we must abolish war,” according to the site’s introductory statement. This puts it in the biggest context possible. We cannot settle for less.

“Every war brings with it both massive destruction and the risk of uncontrolled escalation. We are facing a world of greater weapons proliferation, resource shortages, environmental pressures, and the largest human population the earth has seen. In such a turbulent world, we must abolish sustained and coordinated militarized combat between groups (primarily governments) known as war, because its continuation puts all life on the planet at risk.”

And yet . . . the next war we enjoin will be fully funded and garner the support of most of the public. The current military budget keeps growing even as the country reels from the consequences of its most recent military rampages. The government continues to develop new generations of weapons to perfect and perpetuate its ability to eliminate all life on Earth in a context of almost complete acquiescence. The interests of continued war permeate the highest levels of political and economic power and control the mainstream media. How do war’s abolitionists stand a chance?

Ross Caputi, who came home a hero, begins to answer this question, or at least brings hope to those who ask it.

“It didn’t feel right to me, but I couldn’t put it into words,” he said. This was post-Phantom Fury, when he was back home, being applauded by his friends and by the media.

He’d been part of the most devastating carnage of the Iraq war. The city of Fallujah — “center of resistance” to the American occupation — was taught a big, bad lesson. Thousands were killed. The city was destroyed and, for good measure, saturated with depleted uranium dust, the equivalent of nuclear fallout. Yet the “we’re number one!” mentality was everywhere. A video game about the siege of Fallujah was in the works.

“Afterward it was rubble. The whole country said we were heroes, but it was a confusing experience. I decided I was not going to let Fallujah be a skeleton in my closet for the rest of my life.”

He told me: “I started to do a lot of reading. I was also drinking and doing drugs. Eventually the books won out.” These included Howard Zinn’s A Peoples History of the United States. “That was a game changer,” he said.

Caputi’s “confusion” over the devastation of Fallujah eventually turned into informed political activism. He joined with others to create a website called Justice for Fallujah and began spreading the word that the siege of the city was a war crime. A donation allowed him to make Fear Not the Path of Truth, his journey beyond the military mindset. One of the documentary’s appealing features is its honest inquiry into the psychology of war, beginning with his own manipulation.

“I struggle to even explain how something like Fallujah, so obviously wrong, seemed acceptable at the time,” he says to Kathleen Malley-Morrison, a psychology professor. “Even obvious things like kicking women and children out of their homes, forcing them to flee into the desert, then destroying their homes. I managed to believe what our command was telling us, that we were doing this for their own good. How is that possible?”

The question is an open wound, so utterly basic to war and its abolition. Malley-Morrison discusses the cognitive tricks that allow good people to behave inhumanely: dehumanizing the enemy, ignoring or minimizing the consequences of one’s actions.

Later Caputi asks another professor, Sohail Hashmi, about the differences between “insurgent,” “terrorist” and “jihadist” — terms the U.S. military used as casually interchangeable epithets for the enemy — and absorbs Hashmi’s discussion of the meaning of “jihad”: a Muslim’s struggle to be true to his faith and do the right thing.

The interviewees also include Noam Chomsky, who makes the point that the GIs, caught in the middle of the vortex of war, are far less to blame for their confusion over the wrong that was occurring than the politicians and editors at a comfortable remove from the hellish action, who also saw nothing wrong with the devastation of Fallujah.

At one point, Chomsky expresses wonderment that, on day one of Phantom Fury, the New York Times gleefully reported on the U.S. seizure of Fallujah General Hospital, deemed a “propaganda center” for the insurgents because it was reporting casualty figures. The paper even ran a photo on the front page of doctors and patients lying shackled on the floor of the hospital. How could they manage not to notice, Chomsky wanted to know, that this was a war crime in progress?

In February, Caputi’s documentary screens in Fitchburg. And the abolition movement takes another step forward.

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound (Xenos Press), is still available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at www.commonwonders.com .

© 2014 TRIBUNE CONTENT AGENCY, INC.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37508.htm

The Plan for Iraq

By John Mesler   

January 31 2014 “Information Clearing House – As I’ve watched the events unfold in the mid-east over the past 24 years it has become alarmingly clear to me that we didn’t invade Iraq in 2003 because we thought they had weapons of mass destruction. We lied. We knew they did NOT have them. Well, at least 6 or 7 “decision and policy makers” knew they didn’t. I will explain this the best I can but we now know that mostly every other nation in the world (including the United Nations weapons investigative team which included Scott Ritter) knew it back then. But Still we invaded. The US, the UK, Saudi Arabia and Israel were in on the plan. The plan I’m speaking of is called thePlan for the New American Century (PNAC) and to understand exactly what it is I would suggest that you google General Wesley Clark’s 9 minute speech in which he mentions 2 meetings he had in 2002 with a liaison from then Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld office. Generally speaking that plan (which was laid out in about 1997) called for the US to control 7 countries including Libya, Syria ,Iraq and Iran.

I believe that the architects of the plan (Dick Cheney, Paul Wolfowitz and others)  were so sure that the anti-Muslim, anti-Mid-east feelings among Americans brought on by media lies over the past 25 years would allow them to get away with almost anything.  If they created a big enough lie they could get the American people to “go along” with their plan. They had to act fast and they did. 9/11 served as the perfect “incentive” to begin their plan.I also believe that they had the perfect president to “sell” this plan to the people. I may be wrong but I believe President George W. Bush believed the lie. He simply doesn’t have the intellect or talent to lie so convincingly to the American public. He was the perfect president at the perfect time for the real “evil doers”, Cheney and company. In1953 when we were involved with over-throwing the democratically elected leader  of Iran, Mossadegh, it was easier to get away with the covert actions that our CIA carried out. The only surprise there was that it took 26 years for the Iranians to over-throw our puppet, the Shah of Iran and begin their own Islamic revolution. Today we have become much craftier .We use the corporate owned (and controlled) media to garner popular support. You may come to the same conclusion as to what’s  really been going on in Iraq from 2003  to this day. I believe we attacked Iraq hoping that it would bring about exactly what is occurring there now.

Chaos. Rumsfeld had to know we wouldn’t be “showered with flowers” from thankful Iraqi’s, as he stated in 2003.Our plan, in my opinion, was to create more turmoil in the mid-east so we could “install” yet another puppet regime. We had to know that Maliki would do what-ever we asked and that he would need our help in doing so. I wont get into the complicated issues now of ideological analysis and the imperialist-capitalist nature of the use and its rulers neoconservatives, neo-liberals, and Zionists who plan these wars and stand behind them , all driven by greed. Or will I get into what is the comprador nature of Arab reaction such as Kuwait and Saudi Arabia who place themselves willingly in the service of imperialism against the interest of their own people and of the Arab nation. 
The help I speak of  comes in the form of selling more weapons to Maliki’s sectarian government and in return we get protection for the “green zone” (the largest area of it’s kind in the world which is home to the US Embassy, private military contractors and major US consulting companies. It’s size is 3.9 sq. miles) ,a guarantee of keeping the oil flowing to us from the worlds second largest oil reserve and Israel benefits by keeping these countries weak and in constant turmoil, thereby “distracted”. In a way, what we’ve created in the mid-east is like a 5 ring circus. As all your attention is on one act you have little or no idea what’s going on in the other 4 rings.

MEDIA LIES AND HALF-TRUTHS

Before I get to the events unfolding in Iraq today let me give an example of how the role of the corporate controlled media plays on public opinion and therefore on how it makes it easier for governments pass laws and execute policy for war. I’ll very briefly go back to the first invasion of Iraq by the US in 1991. Many of us were “on board” because of the following 4 lies.

Lie number 1)           The first rule of getting the American public to agree to go to war is to de-humanize or demonize the enemy. We all heard about how Saddam Hussein deliberately gassed his own people (the Kurds) in the north of Iraq. Truth is ,he didn’t. In 1988 the 8 year war between Iraq and Iran was raging, taking a serious toll on both sides with no one winning. War seldom ever has any winners. The town of Halebja, Iraq, was attacked and over-taken by the Iranians. According to Steven C. Pelletier, who was the CIA’s Senior Political Analyst on Iraq during the 8 year war and was also a professor at the Army War College from  1988 to 2000, the gassing came about in the course of a fierce Iranian-Iraqi battle. At first he thought it was the Iraqi’s who used chemical weapons to try to kill Iranians who had seized the town and that the Kurdish civilians who died had been in the wrong place at the wrong time. Collateral damage, as they say.  They WERE NOT the targets as we had all been told! But as time went by the story changes. The US Defense Intelligence Agency investigated and found that it was IRANIAN GAS that killed the Kurds…not the Iraqi’s! Some dispute this but at the very least all experts agree that the Kurds were collateral damage and not the targets.

Lie number 2)       Time to pull at our heart strings. Remember the young girl who came forward and told stories of Iraqi soldiers raping women in the Al-Adan hospital? The same girl who was brought before congress by Congressman Lantos . She then claimed that the Iraqi soldiers took more than 40 new born babies out of the incubators and tossed them onto the cold, cement floor. Well, it turned out that Kuwait had hired a  US public relations firm, Hill and Knowlton, paid them 1 Million dollars a month and trained the girl to lie. That 15 year old girl ,named Nayirah, turned out to be Nayirah-al-Sabah. The daughter of the Kuwait’s  ambassador to the United States.

Before I get into lie number 3 I’d like to try and explain why Saudi Arabia, an Arab country and part of OPEC, would allow our military bases to be built there.After the OPEC oil embargo of 1973 a company called Chas T. Main sent someone to Saudi Arabia to negotiate a plan that would guarantee that Saudi oil would never stop flowing into the United States. According to John Perkins (“Confessions of an Economic Hit Man”) he landed in the KSA sometime in 1974.  A secret deal was worked out. The KSA would deposit billions of it’s dollars into a US bank. We would use only the interest to build a modern infra-structure and energy grids. At that time Saudi Arabia had no garbage collection system so Perkins set up Waste Management (a garbage collection company based in Texas)  to collect and dispose of Saudi Arabia’s garbage. In exchange ,Saudi Arabia agreed to never stop the flow of oil into the United States. Because the surrounding countries were furious over the KSA breaking away from OPEC (as far as the US is concerned) they quickly recognized the need for protection and almost as a last thought allowed us to build military bases with American troops stationed there.Those troops didn’t leave until 2003.

Lie number 3)      President Bush claimed that as many as 120,000 Iraqi troops and 850 tanks were in the south of Kuwait and poised to attack  Saudi Arabia. Then the Defense Department upped that number to 250,000 troops and 1,500 tanks! According to Peter Zimmerman these numbers were greatly exaggerated and Iraq had no intentions of invading Saudi Arabia but Bush’s lies may have been told to scare Saudi Arabia into letting us send as many as 500,000 US troops into the KSA to lunch our massive attack. It worked as Saudi Arabia didn’t blink an eye.

I feel I must say again at this point that I love my country but I sometimes have problems with our government. Before I get into the 4th and final lie lets consider the time line., In December of 1989the United States invaded Panama. A sovereign country. Why? It wasn’t because Noriega used or sold drugs, as we had claimed. God, we knew that about him for years and years. In fact, Noriega most likely even worked for the CIA for a time. After Jimmy Carter had worked out a deal to return the Panama Canal with beloved Panamanian leader ,Omar Torrijos, many were furious. None more than the Reagan administration and when Torrijos began entertaining thoughts of letting Japan upgrade the canal to shorten the waiting time it meant US companies like Halliburton, Bechtel, Root and Brown, Stone and Webster and other hugh contractors might be missing out on an opportunity to make big money.It is widely suspected that the CIA had Noriega plant a bomb in the plane that took Torrijo’s life on July 31st ,1981.Then when Noriega began those same talks with Japan it was the last straw. In December ,1989 we invaded Panama. Defense Secretary Richard Cheney (who was a chairman at Halliburton) put the death toll between 500 and 600 innocent Panamanians but independent human rights groups put the number much higher. Their number of dead was between 3,000 and 5,000 and 25,000 left homeless. We will never know as the US did not allow media into the area until it was cleaned up. For us to claim that Iraq invaded Kuwait 6 months later to take it back was a little hypocritical,in my opinion.

Lie number 4) We were all told by President Bush and his administration that Iraq was aiming to take back the territory it lost in 1947. We were told Saddam was intent to have Kuwait once again be a part of Iraq . It simply wasn’t true. During it’s 8 year war with Iran, as I’ve said before, both those countries were weakened in many ways .Kuwait was  helping Iraq by paying them large amounts of money throughout this period to support Iraq’s war efforts.. When the war ended Kuwait wanted that money repaid immediately. Iraq asked for some time a it needed to “get back to normal”. Kuwait refused to wait and began extracting oil from Iraqi wells. Iraq warned them to stop but still did NOT invade,. Instead Iraq lodged complaints to the UN Security Council and to the United Nations. Then Iraq requested a meeting with the US ambassador. The US indicated it would NOT interfere with what Iraq “Had to do” , and added it would not interfere in Arab issues. Saddam understood this to be a green light. Remember now, Saddam had already warned Kuwait. The “Trap” had been set. All wars are started by lies, myths, propaganda and de-humanizing the so-called enemy. As you now know ,all 4 tactics were swallowed hook, line and sinker by the American public.

There were many atrocities committed by the US in the 1991 invasion but none worse than the bombing of the Amiriya shelter in Baghdad. Early in the morning on February 13th, 1991 the US dropped (2) 2,000 pound laser guided bombs (Bunker busters) onto (then into) the shelter.400 Iraqi civilians were killed. Mostly women and children and another 200 were severely injured.How much more pain and suffering could we cause? Unfortunately Iraqi’s are still suffering. Now that I’ve established our lack of credibility when it comes to reporting the truth lets move on. You’ve read the 4 lies which led to gaining the American publics support for the 1991 invasion. We now know there were never any weapons of mass destruction that led us to support the 2003 invasion. Now our media is lying about who the (so-called) Iraqi-Iranian government is really fighting.

IRAQ TODAY (2014)

It’s bad enough that so many Iraqi’s in the Fallujah area are suffering from Maliki’s(the current Prime Minister of Iraq) regime and his Iranian militia’s today but let me take us back to june and November of 2004 for a moment.Back then ,Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld told out troops (and the British troops) that we had to  clear out foreign fighters from Fallujah. That’s the very same lie we are still using in Fallujah and through-out al-Anbar (Ramadi) Province today.Back then we launched operation”Shake and Bake” against the entire city of Fallujah where Iraq citizens (who wanted simply free Iraq of it’s occupiers) were fighting . Most Fallujah residents were simply trying to get by day to day.We used white phosphorus and depleted uranium in both battles (April and November, 2004) and by December the slaughter had been complete. Today the birth defect rate is alarming. Prior to 2004 there was an average of 4 or 5 birth defects a month. Today there are 2 to 3 per day because of the WP and DU used by US troops. To find a complete report on the atrocities committed and how we wouldn’t even allow those Iraqi’s who survived bury their  dead  I would suggest finding a report written by Dr. Muhamad Taqeq al-Darraji. He now lives in Italy but at the time he served on the city council of Fallujah and served as a defender of human rights.. He left prior to the November massacre.

Between 2006 and today Nouri al-Maliki has been letting Iranian fighters enter Iraq without visa’s. There are even Iranians serving in his current government. Among the first to enter and serve was Ali al Adeeb. He entered and was given Iraqi citizenship almost over night. His real name is Al Yazdi and he is from Yazd City in Iraq. Maliki’s long range plan is to “Persian-ize ” (Iran ins are Persian, not arab.There is a long history of bitter rivalry between these two cultures) Iraq .There are now thousands of Iranians fighting for Maliki throughout Iraq .Most are in the western areas and Anbar fighting. In 2006 Farsi was often heard (the language spoken by Iranians) in the prisons where torture of Iraqi citizens was rampant. Qassem Soleimani (Commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guard) was often seen in Iraq and he continues to travel back and forth between Iran and Iraq to this day A friend of mine (Hayfaa Hussain)) was a refugee in Ashraf City. She has personally seen these Iranian militias in the refugee camp. As soon as the US forces left (late 2011) ,these Iranians would enter the camp and randomly kill the elderly men and women. She was lucky to escape with her daughters and is now living in Germany. She longs to return to Iraq one day and I pray she can.

The pre-2003 Iraq is now considered to have been paradise by most Iraqi’s compared to the fighting that is now increasing by the day.Between US sanctions (in the early 1990’s) and all the fighting, nearly 3 million Iraqi citizens have perished. 3 MILLION!! The Iraqi’s are now united in their fight to finally free Iraq from it’s US/Iranian puppet, Nouri al-Maliki.However ,now the media is continuing to either lie or report only half-truths by stating that the “Iraqi army” and Maliki are fighting mostly “terrorists”. Yes, there are some terrorists but they are mostly Iranian militia .The fight by the Iraqi’s is particularly united in the western parts of the country where Maliki is currently using weapon’s bought rom the US government to kill Iraqi citizens now ,under the pretext of fighting al-Qaeda  and it’s followers.The fighting has increased from around September ,2013, when the Iraqi people announced the establishment of areas to join the uprising against this corrupt government. They are determined to stand their ground.Speaking from the European Parliament in Brussels,Straun Stevensen recently said: “Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki is waging war on his own people. His Shia led government,with the backing and encouragement of his puppet-masters in neighboring Iran,is engaged in a genocidal military campaign against the Sunni population whom Maliki has branded as terrorists. Men, women sand children are being massacred in cities like Fallujah and Ramadi in relentless bombing raids,rocket attacts and tank battles, under the pretext that these people are all members or supporters of Al Qaeda. The americans have fallen for this ruse hook, line and sinker and are rushing in supplies of automatic weapons ,tasks, aircraft and rockets to help Maliki’s killing machine” Where I differ is the “Americans have fallen for this ruse” line. Our government (and media) know exactly what is going on!!!

A few weeks ago (January ,2014), soon after Maliki’s visit to America  it was announced that the start of military operations against terrorism and al-Qaeda in the western region would intensify. All of the involved parties (The US, Israel, Iran, Iraq ,Saudi Arabia to name a few) know that al-Qaeda is not stationed in any cities (big or small) but rather in remote areas in the vast desert of Anbar. Specifically, these operations were directed against the people in the cities of Fallujah and Anbar.

Another friend of mine living in Baghdad(I’ll call him Akkadian) tells me that al-Maliki’s government has been desperately looking to draft more people into’s it’s the so-called “Iraqi army”. That has so far proven to be unsuccessful. 2 weeks ago he witnessed the bussing in of Iranians who are not required to obtain visa’s. Once in, they stay in Iraq and offer tactical support to the small number of al-Aqaeda in Anbar and then join the fight against Iraqi’s.He also noticed something he found to be strange. In the northern part of Baghdad ,workers are demolishing the Shirine of el Kadhimaian. The “official” reason is that they want to enlarge it but he has discovered that that’s only partially true. Yes, they want to enlarge it but the reason is to house many of these illegal Iranians flooding in.Then ,on January 25th ,Maliki’s forces bombed a children’s orphanage in al-Karma. It goes on and on.

IN CONCLUSION

I don’t think anybody really knows with certainty what our “end game” is in Iraq. Or in Libya, Lebanon and other surrounding countries for that matter. The Israeli government no longer has  strong presidents (Saddam Hussein and Kadhafi)) who refused to be subservient to the west. What I do know is that the chaos we created is killing more and more innocent Iraqi citizens every single day and somehow we have converged our interests there with the interests of Iran. Something else I know is that most Iraqi people like Americans. Somehow they are able to differentiate between our government and the American citizens. I’m not sure we’d have that capacity had we been invaded by a foreign country but I hope we can use that fact to secure a healthy relationship with them in the future. It’s supposed to be a government by and for the people but that is now a far cry from what we have here in the US these days. My hope is that more Americans will eventually discover the truth about what we did and what is continuing to happen to the Iraqi people. If enough of us can reach out to our representatives in Washington perhaps we can make a real difference. We don’t need to send in troops. Iraq doesn’t want that. But if we can stop selling weapons to the al-Maliki government and stay completely out of Iraq there might be hope. Not just for Iraq but for the US  and Iraq to actually work out some kind of a normal, supportive   long lasting relationship. Let the Iraqi’s free them selfs of al-Maliki and the Iranians. Then, and only then, can we hope for a fresh start. But we must discover the truth first and we’ll never find that on main stream media. I will continue to give updates as often as I can.

There are many Iraqi citizens I need to thank. Many are still in Iraq and you all know how much I respect and appreciate you. I must thank Dr. Muhamad Tareq al-Darraji, Akkadian, Sama Hussein and Al-Waleed Khalid for their continued help and friendship. If anyone would like to contact me for more info my e-mail address is: meslerjohn@yahoo.com

This article was originally published at War Is A Crime

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37511.htm

Is Syrian “Peace” Conference Laying the Foundation for War?

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers

January 31 2014 “Information Clearing House – The Geneva II “peace” conference has all the indicia of a sham. Those opposed to war in Syria better get ready to prevent war again.

The Geneva II conference, which claims to be seeking to end the war in Syria, seems designed to fail and instead to provide an excuse for military intervention by the United States and its allies. Human rights activist Ajamu Baraka describes the negotiations as an “Orwellian subterfuge” designed to provide justification for war and a lot of facts support his view.

The negotiations are destined to fail because of the way they have been set up and the preconditions the United States and its allies in the Syrian opposition have made – demanding that President Bashar al-Assad agree to leave government before negotiations go forward.

The set-up for failure begins with the limited participation. The rigged nature of the negotiations was demonstrated when, at the demand of the United States and the Syrian opposition, the UN had to rescind an invitation to Iran to participate. Iran is a close ally of Syria, and keeping Iran out of the negotiations is an effort to weaken and isolate Syria. It is an indication of a desire by the United States for a preordained conclusion rather than a fair negotiation between the parties.

The exclusion of Syrian civil society from these negotiations, beyond the militant fighters, is especially egregious. Many of these groups were working for transformation of Syria before the terrorism and war began. One example is the exclusion of women, although women from across Syria have been meeting and put together a Syrian Women’s Charter for Peace, their request to be included in the talks has been denied. Women and children make up the majority of the millions who have been internally displaced or forced to flee the country. And they have suffered in horrible ways.

Only one opposition group is included, the Syrian National Coalition, one favored by the United States but rejected by 13 key rebel groups in Syria. There are scores of others involved in the bloodshed in Syria, but these on-the-ground fighters are not included. How can peace, even a partial peace like a cease-fire, be negotiated if those involved in the fighting are not participating?

In fact, an agreement by the participants to stop fighting would entrap Assad. Groups not included in the negotiations will continue to fight, and Assad will respond. When Assad responds to attacks, he will be accused of violating the peace agreement. This will provide an excuse for outside military intervention. The United States and its allies will claim: “Assad is violating the peace agreement; there is no other choice than to enforce the agreement with military force.”

The second and most important problem with the negotiations is the precondition of the United States and the Syrian National Coalition that Assad must agree to step down before negotiations can begin. The United States and its allies falsely claim that the removal of Assad already has been agreed to the “Geneva communiqué” signed by Syria’s ally, Russia. As Shamus Cooke points out, the communiqué does indeed call for a negotiated political transition, but nowhere does it state that such a transition must exclude Assad.

Secretary of State John Kerry kicked off the conference by demanding the removal of Assad from power. And this has become the central issue in the discussions so far, leading to a stalemate. Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem accused the United States and its Middle East allies, particularly Turkey and Saudi Arabia, of supporting terrorist groups seeking to destabilize Syria and working to put forward their own plans for a new government. The Syrians put forward their own plan that would begin with ridding the nation of foreign terrorists. They argue it is up to the Syrian people to decide who their leaders are and what type of government they want.

The kickoff of the conference coincided with a propaganda campaign. A report funded by Qatar claimed the Assad government had tortured and killed 11,000 prisoners. There has been a history of torture in Syria; in fact, the United States sent people to be tortured in Syria as part of its rendition program, so on its face the claim does not seem far-fetched. But did they prove the case?

Reporter Dan Murphy of the Christian Science Monitor points out some of the problems with the report. He writes it is “a single source report, from an unidentified man, who is related by marriage to a similarly unidentified member of the ‘Syrian National Movement.’ ” The Syrian National Movement is an opposition group funded by Qatar that has been trying to remove Assad since 2011. Further, the report was rushed to publication; the source was “interviewed on Jan. 12, 13 and 18 of this year. The report was provided to reporters yesterday, Jan. 20.” This resulted in no thorough examination of the photographs. Further, Murphy reports the document actually indicates 835 individual cases were examined, not all of the purported victims were shown to have been killed or tortured, and the 11,000 figure that made headlines was an extrapolation.

Yet, this has been trumpeted in the media as fact. A Washington Post editorial published January 22, 2014, treated the 11,000 killed and tortured by Saddam without any doubt. It quotes Kerry saying the report shows Syria conducting “systematic torture and execution of thousands of prisoners.” The editorial revealed how the peace process could lead to war: “Mr. Obama probably could force the measures Mr. Brahimi is seeking [i.e. Assad resigning] by presenting Mr. Assad with the choice of accepting them or enduring U.S. airstrikes.” It is notable that The Post is putting military strikes on the agenda now – even before the negotiations fail or a peace agreement is violated.

The US media had been pushing for war with Syria during the last run-up to war, when Obama decided to send the decision to Congress. Thanks to opposition across the political spectrum in Congress and among the American people, the war was prevented. Russia’s intervention, which put forward a compromise that rid the Syrian government of chemical weapons, provided a face-saving escape for the Obama administration.

Since then, doubt about the claims that Sarin gas was used by the Syrian government from Syrian-held territory has intensified. The New York Times, Human Rights Watch and others who favored a US attack had claimed the rockets came from Syrian territory, based on a vector analysis of the angle of the rockets. But this fell apart when experts concluded the rockets did not have the range to reach the targets. The Times was forced to quietly distance itself from a front-page story making these claims.

We already are seeing a media drum beat for war. The media is consistent in repeating several liesabout the Syrian negotiations and constantly blaming Assad for refusing to abide by nonexistent requirements of the Geneva communiqué. We can expect the hawkish US media to escalate the drumbeat and put forward war propaganda as the failure of the peace negotiations continues.

And Reuters reports that weapons aid to Syrian “rebels” has been “secretly” approved by Congress. Weapons approved include anti-tank weapons and small arms. Reuters writes “The weapons deliveries have been funded by the U.S. Congress, in votes behind closed doors, through the end of government fiscal year 2014, which ends on September 30. … ” How does Congress have secret votes to approve war-making actions? According to Reuters, “Congress approved funding for weapons deliveries to the Syrian rebels in classified sections of defense appropriations legislation, two sources familiar with the matter said.”

So, on one hand the United States claims to be seeking peace, and with the other it is fueling war with weapons. In public, the Congress opposed war with Syria. But in secret votes, it provides funding for weapons for the Syrian war.

Americans who oppose war better get prepared now. There has been a long-term agenda to remove the Assad family from power in Syria and the US foreign policy establishment has not given up on that goal, nor have US allies Israel and Saudi Arabia. This seems to be one more time when peace negotiations are a likely prelude to war unless the people of the United States see through these actions and prevent it.

Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers are participants in PopularResistance.org; they direct It’s Our Economy and co-host “Clearing the FOG.” Their twitters are @KBZeese and @MFlowers8.

This article was originally published at Truthout

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37514.htm

Climate Change and the Magnificent Achievements of Eco-Propaganda

By James F. Tracy

Global Research, January 31, 2014

climatechange21Today a good deal of what qualifies as propaganda is much more subtle than overt. When an entire civilization or way of life is to be significantly altered the tried-and-true method of “repeating a lie until it becomes truth” needs to be done over a period of many years and in a multitude of varying ways to take hold and change the very assumptions and beliefs of a people.

This process is especially vital for reaching a given society’s more elite demographic—the opinion leaders who perceive themselves as “smarter than the average bear” and thus impervious to simple appeals and indoctrination.

A case in point is the agenda backed by powerful global elites and recognizable under names such as “climate change” and “sustainability.” The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Fifth Assessment Report, released on September 27, 2013, came replete with an assemblage of legitimizing features along these lines (“scientific,” “scholarly,” “authoritative,” “peer reviewed,”). Also termed the “Climate Bible,” journalists and policymakers alike regard it as “authoritative” and “the gold standard” of climate science. The public is told that the official body’s findings are now clearer than ever: “human influence has been the dominant cause of the observed warming since the mid-20th century.”[1]

Among the most vociferous agitators for the IPCC’s climate change orthodoxy are the foundation-funded, tax-exempt, progressive-left media that sit alongside the bevy of similarly tax-exempt, foundation-funded environmental organizations that together uphold and publicize the theory of CO2-based anthropogenic (human-caused) climate change (ACC).[2] Self-professed as “independent,” “investigative,” even “educational,” the so-called “alternative media” turn a blind eye to seriously scrutinizing the highly questionable IPCC’s “scientific” review of the climatological literature and its implications for the array of ambitious programs and policies stealthily introduced throughout the industrialized world, many of which are seldom subject to popular plebiscite. Think “smart grid” and “smart growth.”

Logical questions from such apparently independent organs might include, “How does the IPCC produce its findings?” and “Who benefits?” Instead, there is an almost knee-jerk response on behalf of progressive-left editors and readerships to trust and support the UN group’s purportedly objective and meticulous review of the peer-reviewed climatological literature.

Between August and December 2013 such progressive outlets published dozens of articles and commentaries whole-heartedly touting the IPCC report. For example, Truthout.org posted 25 articles, Alternet.org ran 40, MotherJones.com circulated 38, and DemocracyNow.org featured 11.

These were often presented with bleak headlines accenting the urgent appeals found in the IPCC publicity. For example, “International Scientists Warn Climate Deniers Are Enabling Earth’s Suicide” (Truthout, 9/13/13), “6 Scary Conclusions in the UN’s New Climate Report” (Mother Jones, 9/27/13), “Greenhouse Gas in Atmosphere Hits New Record: UN,” (Alternet, 11/1/13), and “’Africa is Being Pushed Closer to the Fire’: Africans Say Continent Can’t Wait for Climate Action” (Democracy Now! 11/22/13).

Uncritical advocacy of the IPCC’s anthropogenic (human-caused) global warming extended beyond headlines to media criticism. In December, for example, the progressive Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) observed that corporate controlled network newscasts routinely failed to link “extreme weather” to “global warming.” “In the first nine months of 2013,” FAIR observes,

there were 450 segments of 200 words or more that covered extreme weather: flooding, forest fires, tornadoes, blizzards, hurricanes and heat waves. But of that total, just a tiny fraction–16 segments, or 4 percent of the total–so much as mentioned the words “climate change,” “global warming” or “greenhouse gases.[3]

What is left unmentioned is that fact that all of these “extreme weather” incidents have one common denominator that FAIR and corporate and progressive media alike consistently overlook: the sun. As University of Winnipeg climatologist Dr. Tim Ball explains (here at 35:00), the IPCC’s “terms of reference” through which the body proceeds to generate its findings exclude the sun and its many demonstrable atmospheric effects as factors in the warming and cooling of the earth’s climate. It is thus no wonder that at best fringe or nonexistent causes of “climate change”–such as minuscule alterations in atmospheric gases–are pointed to with great alarm by the IPCC and its proponents.

Despite far more unambiguous and compelling scientific explanations the notion that “carbon emissions” are the foremost cause of natural climactic events has become something of a religion, and this is especially the case on the progressive-left, where adherents mechanically accept the curious agenda and its ostensibly “scientific” basis while vehemently condemning non-believers as “climate deniers.”

As Canadian journalist Donna LaFramboise has documented in her important 2011 exposé, the IPCC’s scholarly personnel is in fact heavily weighted toward what are often third-or-fourth-rate scientific talent whose eco-political stances are strictly in accord with the IPCC’s “research” agenda pushing anthropogenic climate change. IPCC authors often include climatology graduate students and even environmental activists from organizations such as Greenpeace and the World Wildlife Fund—indeed, figures with little-if-any scientific training but with clear agendas to promote.

LaFramboise further found that one third of the literature reviewed and cited by the IPCC in its 2007 report was–contrary to IPCC chief publicist Ragendra Pachauri’s pronouncements–not even peer-reviewed, and in many cases included citations of promotional literature devised and distributed by environmental activist organizations.

These unethical and compromising relationships are not difficult to explain if one is to recognize the IPCC for what it in fact is—a powerful political organization with the overarching objective of manufacturing consent and achieving transnational policy harmonization around the largely discursive construct of anthropogenic carbon-centric climate change.

The fact that the IPCC is capable of forthrightly carrying out one of the greatest scientific frauds in human history, setting long range governmental policies while enlisting allegedly intellectual sophisticates and “progressive” news media as its most devoted foot soldiers, is no small-scale feat. It is, rather, an immense achievement in modern propaganda and thought control that only hints at the powerful forces behind a much more far-reaching agenda.

Notes

[1] Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, “Human Influence on Climate Clear: IPCC Says,” Geneva Switzerland: World Meteorological Organization. The notion of “a 97% consensus” has itself become a common mantra for climate change fear mongering and grounds for labeling someone a “climate denier.” Yet there is limited evidence of any such consensus concerning ACC among climatologists. The oft-cited 2009 American Geophysical Union survey alleging a 98% consensus among scientists on ACC cannot sustain even modest scrutiny. See Larry Bell, “That Scientific Global Warming Consensus … Not!” Forbes.com, July 7, 2012. Another study held up as “proof” of scientific consensus, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change,” asserts only carefully qualified claims along these lines. “A broad analysis of the climate scientist community itself,” the authors point out, “the distribution of credibility of dissenting researchers relative to agreeing researchers, and the level of agreement among top climate experts has not been conducted and would inform future ACC discussions.” The brief paper assesses “an extensive data set of 1,372 climate researchers” to conclude that the scientific expertise and prominence of those who accept the IPCC’s ACC tenets surpass those who remain “unconvinced.” This begs the question, To what degree are the requisites of foundation funding related to espousing IPCC/ACC opinion? William R. L. Anderegg, James W. Prall, Jacob Harold, and Stephen H. Schneider, “Expert Credibility in Climate Change,” Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 2010.

[2] James F. Tracy, “The Forces Behind Carbon-Centric Environmentalism,” Global Research, November 12, 2013.

[3] “TV News and Extreme Weather: Don’t Mention Climate Change,” Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting, December 18, 2013. It might be added that corporate media and progressive-left counterparts uniformly fail to consider other possible causes of such unusual weather events, such as geoengineering and similar “environmental modification techniques” acknowledged by the US military and undertaken in many industrialized countries. See, for example, Michel Chossudovsky, “Climate Change, Geoengineering, and Environmental Modification Techniques,” Global Research, November 24, 2013.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/climate-change-and-the-magnificent-achievements-of-eco-propaganda/5363369

Why is the Federal Reserve Tapering the Gold Market?

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and David Kranzler

Global Research, January 31, 2014

goldOn January 17, 2014, we explained “The Hows and Whys of Gold Price Manipulation.”

Naked Gold Shorts: The Inside Story of Gold Price Manipulation By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts and David Kranzler,

In former times, the rise in the gold price was held down by central banks selling gold or leasing gold to bullion dealers who sold the gold. The supply added in this way to the market absorbed some of the demand, thus holding down the rise in the gold price.

As the supply of physical gold on hand diminished, increasingly recourse was taken to selling gold short in the paper futures market. We illustrated a recent episode in our article. Below we illustrate the uncovered short-selling that took the gold price down today (January 30, 2014).

When the Comex trading floor opened January 30 at 8:20AM NY time, the price of gold inexplicably plunged $17 over the next 30 minutes. The price plunge was triggered when sell orders flooded the Comex trading floor. Over the course of the previous 23 hours of trading, an average of 202 gold contracts per minute had traded. But starting at the 8:20AM Comex, there were four 1-minute windows of trading here’s what happened:

8:21AM: 1766 contracts sold
8:22AM: 5172 contracts sold
8:31AM: 3242 contracts sold
8:47AM: 3515 contracts sold

image

Over those four minutes of trading, an average of 3,424 contracts per minute traded, or 17 times the average per minute volume of the previous 23 hours, including yesterday’s Comex trading session.

The yellow arrow indicates when the Comex floor opened for gold futures trading. There was not any news events or related market events that would have triggered a sell-off like this in gold. If an entity holding many contracts wanted to sell down its position, it would accomplish this by slowly feeding its position to the market over the course of the entire trading day in order to avoid disturbing the price or “telegraphing” its intent to sell to the market.

Instead, today’s selling was designed to flood the Comex trading floor with a high volume of sell orders in rapid succession in order to drive the price of gold as low as possible before buyers stepped in.

The reason for this is two-fold: Driving down the price of gold assists the Fed in its efforts to support the dollar, and the Comex is running out of physical gold available to be delivered to those who decide to take delivery of gold instead of cash settlement.

The February gold contract is subject to delivery starting on January 31st. As of January 29th, 2 days before the delivery period starts, there were 2,223,000 ounces of gold futures open against 375,000 ounces of gold available to be to be delivered. The primary banks who trade Comex gold (JP Morgan, HSBC, Bank Nova Scotia) are the primary entities who are short those Comex contracts.

Typically toward the end of a delivery month, these banks drive the price of gold lower for the purpose of coercing holders of the contracts to sell. This avoids the problem of having a shortage of gold available to deliver to the entities who decide to take delivery. With an enormous amount of physical gold moving from the western bank vaults to the large Asian buyers of gold, the Comex ultimately does not have enough gold to honor delivery obligations should the day arrive when a fifth or a fourth of the contracts are presented for delivery. Prior to a delivery period or due date on the contracts, manipulation is used to drive the Comex price of gold as low as possible in order to induce enough selling to avoid a possible default on gold delivery.

Following the taper announcement on January 29, the gold price rose $14 to $1270, and the Dow Jones Index dropped 100 points, closing down 74 points from its trading level at the time the tapering was announced. These reactions might have surprised the Fed, leading to the stock market support and gold price suppression on January 30.

Manipulation of the gold price is a foregone conclusion. The question is: why is the Fed tapering?

The official reason is that the recovery is now strong enough not to need the stimulus. There are two problems with the official explanation. One is that the purpose of QE has always been to support the prices of the debt-related derivatives on the balance sheets of the banks too big to fail. The other is that the Fed has enough economists and statisticians to know that the recovery is a statistical artifact of deflating GDP with an understated measure of inflation. No other indicator–employment, labor force participation, real median family income, real retail sales, or new construction–indicates economic recovery. Moreover, if in fact the economy has been in recovery since June 2009, after 4.5 years of recovery it is time for a new recession.

One possible explanation for the tapering is that the Fed has created enough new dollars with which to purchase the worst part of the banks’ balance sheet problems and transfer them to the Fed’s balance sheet, while in other ways enhancing the banks’ profits. With the job done, the Fed can slowly back off.

The problem with this explanation is that the liquidity that the Fed has created found its way into the stock and bond markets and into emerging economies. Curtailing the flow of liquidity crashes the markets, bringing on a new financial crisis.

We offer two explanations for the tapering. One is technical, and one is strategic.

First the technical explanation. The Fed’s bond purchases and the banks’ interest rate swap derivatives have made a dent in the supply of Treasuries. With income tax payments starting to flow in, fewer Treasuries are being issued to put pressure on interest rates. This permits the Fed to make a show of doing the right thing and reduce bond purchases. As a weakening economy becomes apparent as the year progresses, calls for the Fed to support the economy will permit the Fed to broaden the array of instruments that it purchases.

A strategic explanation for tapering is that the growth of US debt and money creation is causing the world to turn a jaundiced eye toward the US dollar and toward its role as world reserve currency.

Currently the Russian Duma is discussing legislation that would eliminate the dollar’s use and presence in Russia. Other countries are moving away from the dollar. Recently the Nigerian central bank reduced its dollar reserves and increased its holdings of Chinese yuan. Zimbabwe, which was using the US dollar as its own currency, switched to Chinese yuan. The former chief economist of the World Bank recently called for terminating the use of the dollar as world reserve currency. He said that “the dominance of the greenback is the root cause of global financial and economic crises.” Moreover, the Federal Reserve is very much aware of the flight away from the dollar into gold, because it is this flight that causes the Fed to manipulate the gold price in order to hold it down and in order to be able to free up gold for delivery.

The Fed knows that the ability of the US to pay its bills in its own currency is the reason it can stand its large trade imbalance and is the basis for US power. If the dollar loses the reserve currency role, the US becomes just another country with balance of payments and currency problems and an inability to sell its bonds in order to finance its budget deficits.

In other words, perhaps the Fed understands that a dollar crisis is a bigger crisis than a bank crisis and that its bailout of the banks is undermining the dollar. The question is: will the Fed let the banks go in order to save the dollar?

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury for Economic Policy.

Dave Kranzler traded high yield bonds for Bankers Trust for a decade. As a co-founder and principal of Golden Returns Capital LLC, he manages the Precious Metals Opportunity Fund.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/why-is-the-federal-reserve-tapering-the-gold-market/5366834

USA: The way to Sesame Street but no way out from Leavenworth jail?

31.01.2014

By Joanna Rosamond

USA: The way to Sesame Street but no way out from Leavenworth jail?. 52054.jpeg

According to Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of opinion”. There is no clause as an exception to the ruleno exclusion policy for soldiers …Self-defense is not only a fundamental human right, but also the most basic human instinct. It seems that the Obama administration has the ambition to demean soldiers by robbing them of human rights and even of human reactions to danger. SROE has been morphing into an exercise in absurdity, self-preservation into premeditated murder. Since when “acting reasonably in pressure situations” means getting killed? Can a soldier be charged for having the hypothalamus? What is the next stage of the straightjacketing: a maximum behavioural disruption?  Army Ranger 1st Lieutenant Michael Behenna and Sgt. Derrick Miller “dared” to react in self-defense. If they got killed, “geniuses” of political correctness would find fault with them anyway, and offend their memory with a debate about merciful treatment for their murderers. Both Miller and Behenna are described by those who know them as excellent soldiers. Their potential and their time are being currently wasted in Leavenworth jail.

Should an Obama’s bodyguard react if a “freedom fighter” went for his gun? As a commander -in- chief, Obama owes soldiers a good example, so the guard must not commit “premeditated murder”; let’s just adopt the “see what happens” attitude… The eerie administration is very concerned with the quality of treatment for the enemy combatants but it seems that solitary confinement, temperature extremes or use of forced positions are not considered a torture if used against “own” soldiers. Torture is not only inhuman treatment during detention (PFC Corey Clagett); an unjust arrest induces multiple traumatic stressors and psychological suffering. U.S.Army Master Sergeant John Hatley was treated to a Kafkaesque trial and his conviction is entirely based on a …testimony. Did John win” Let’s jail the best soldier” lottery?  It’s clear that CID proved one more time that they have both the carte blanche and mala fide. What is Leavenworth? A detention camp for above average soldiers? Violation of human rights of soldiers is blatant. Shouldn’t the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff be raising an alarm?

During the Distinguished Civilian Service Award Ceremony for Hillary Clinton, (JCS, Washington, D.C.Thursday, Ferbuary 14, 2013) General Dempsey calls her “enormous champion of military servicemen and women and their families”. He continues: “Maybe you can add a Tony or an Oscar to your Grammy award. (Laughter)But before you go, I’d be honoured if you would allow me to add to the list of your distinctions with the award of this Joint Staff Medal”. An Oscar for…Benghazi? The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff undoubtedly loves Hollywood style, which results in nicknames like “Marty-Boo-Boo” and “General Kardashian”. On April, 20, 2012 the nation’s highest ranking military officer “joined forces with Rosita the Muppet” and sang “Can you tell me how to get, How to get to Sesame Street…”Meanwhile, the tune of jailed soldiers remains:” Can you tell me how to get out, How to get out of Leavenworth prison?”

Pentagon Channel wanted to know Gen.Dempsey’s definition of leadership (Washington, D.C. Thursday, October 25, 2012).He stated that “/…/clearly, leadership is the acceptance of responsibility for an outcome.” Who can be satisfied with such an outcome? The enemy combatants?

Joanna Rosamond

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/feedback/31-01-2014/126729-usa_sesame_street-0/

US Supreme Court lifts stay, allows Missouri execution to proceed

By Kate Randall 

31 January 2014

The state of Missouri executed Herbert Smulls late Wednesday evening after the US Supreme Court lifted a stay in his case. It was the third execution in the state since November, and the third since Missouri switched to the drug pentobarbital in lethal injections in response to a shortage of previously-used drugs.

Smulls, 56, was sentenced to death for the 1991 fatal shooting of Stephen Honickman in the course of a jewelry store robbery. Smulls, who did not make a final statement, mouthed a few words to two unidentified witnesses, then breathed heavily before succumbing at the state prison in Bonne Terre. He was pronounced dead at 10:20 p.m., about nine minutes after being administered the lethal drug.

Cheryl Pilate, lawyer for the condemned prisoner, had sought to block the execution, arguing that the drug to be used, pentobarbital, carried a substantial risk of causing severe pain, therefore constituting cruel and unusual punishment under the Eighth Amendment. Pentobarbital is a short-acting barbiturate used in the euthanasia of animals.

Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito granted a temporary stay Tuesday night, following the State of the Union address, blocking the imminent execution. But the high court then lifted the stay late Wednesday afternoon and denied two other petitions in Smulls’s case, allowing Missouri authorities to proceed with the execution. The court provided no explanation for why it lifted the stay.

Smull’s defense team had sought a court order to identify the compounding pharmacy where the lethal chemical was mixed, as well as the laboratory where it was tested. Ms. Pilate argued that there were no safeguards in place to guarantee that the drug would not cause undue pain during the execution procedure.

Despite a federal judge’s order that Missouri officials turn over the information on the drug’s source to Smulls’s attorneys, state officials refused to provide it, arguing that since the compounding pharmacy is part of the execution team they were not required to disclose its identity. The officials were also reportedly concerned that the supplier would be subject to protests by opponents of the death penalty.

In a 7-to-3 ruling last Friday, the full Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the federal judge’s decision on releasing the information on the drug and dismissed the appeal. The majority judges stated that Smulls’s attorneys would have to show that the state possessed a more humane method of execution, but had decided against using it.

The court placed Smulls and his defense in the untenable position of showing that alternative, more humane protocols were available to the execution team. “The plaintiffs do not allege that the [Missouri Department of Corrections] director, in the exercise of his discretion, has employed anything other than the most human method of execution available,” the judges stated.

The court added, “That a former method of execution is no longer available does not mean that adoption of the next best method is an unconstitutional increase in punishment. The punishment—death—has not changed.” In other words, as with the US Supreme Court’s decision to lift the stay, the judges of the Eighth Circuit’s majority were motivated primarily by upholding the constitutionality of the death penalty itself.

Ms. Pilate and the defense team named the Apothecary Shoppe of Tulsa Oklahoma as the compounding pharmacy that provided the pentobarbital on the basis of information obtained through open-records requests on publicly available documents. Compounding pharmacies are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration but are overseen by state authorities.

The use of pentobarbital and other new lethal chemicals has been prompted by a shortage of previously-used drugs after companies in Europe blocked the export of drugs to be used to execute prisoners in the United States.

Two recent executions with pentobarbital have raised concerns about suffering endured by prisoners undergoing lethal injections with the drug. On January 9, Michael Lee Wilson was put to death in Oklahoma’s death chamber utilizing a three-drug cocktail including pentobarbital. Witnesses reported that Wilson cried out, “I feel my whole body burning,” following injection of the toxic chemicals.

Another Oklahoma death row inmate, Kenneth Eugene Hogan, executed January 23, stated, “There’s a chemical taste in my mouth,” according to witnesses, and “I’m going, I’m going, I’m going,” after a similar three-drug mixture was injected into his veins.

The State of Ohio used a two-drug protocol of midazolam and hydromorphone to execute Dennis McGuire on January 16. The condemned prisoner’s botched execution took over 25 minutes to complete, during which he was reported to have made “several loud snorting or snoring sounds” and strained against the straps on the gurney as the toxins took effect.

With traditional lethal drugs in short supply, and negative publicity about the apparent suffering of prisoners put to death by the use of new, unregulated chemical mixtures, some of the 32 US states that continue to practice capital punishment are looking to gruesome methods of the past to keep the state killing machine in operation. These include the firing squad, electrocution and the gas chamber.

In fact, many states still authorize some of these methods as options, while others are considering reviving them. In Wyoming, a lawmaker introduced a bill this month to allow the use of the firing squad, saying this would be far less costly than rebuilding the gas chamber. Oklahoma maintains the use of firing squads, but only if lethal injection and electrocution are deemed unconstitutional.

Earlier this month, Missouri state Representative Rick Brattin, a Republican, proposed making firing squads an option. “This isn’t an attempt to time warp back into the 1850s or the wild, wild west or anything like that,” he said. “It’s just that I foresee a problem, and I’m trying to come up with a solution that will be the most humane yet economical for our state.”

Condemned prisoners may choose the electric chair in Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia, while Delaware, New Hampshire and Washington state still allow death row inmates to choose hanging. In Virginia, legislation is afoot that would make electrocution an option if lethal-injection drugs are not available.

The Missouri attorney general has broached the subject of rebuilding the state’s gas chamber. Gas chamber executions are presently allowed in Arizona, Missouri and Wyoming.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/31/exec-j31.html

Obama’s low-wage “recovery”

31 January 2014

President Obama’s State of the Union address this week coincided with the release of several year-end profit reports. Profits for the firms listed on the S&P 500 stock market index jumped 11 percent in 2013, in large part because of declining wages and the increased exploitation of American workers.

In his national address Tuesday night, Obama acknowledged that “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better. But average wages have barely budged. Inequality has deepened.” The “cold, hard fact,” he added, “is that even in the midst of recovery, too many Americans are working more than ever just to get by—let alone get ahead.”

As is his wont, the president posed as an innocent bystander, suggesting that some sections of the population had unfortunately missed out on “four years of economic growth.” In fact, the explosion of social inequality the president paid lip service to is the product of quite deliberate polices spearheaded by his administration.

Obama’s principal task on coming to office was to initiate the largest transfer of wealth—from the working class to the corporate and financial elite—in US history. This began with the bailout of the financial system. It continued through the 2009 restructuring of GM and Chrysler, premised on the halving of wages for new hires and a shift in the burden of health care expenses from employers to workers.

Billions have been slashed from social programs, including the cut-off of long-term unemployment benefits and cuts in food stamps, and the administration has backed the bankruptcy of Detroit, which is seen as a national model for forcing through pension cuts and other measures.

The surge in corporate profits is one consequence of these policies. According to Bloomberg, US corporations’ after-tax profits have grown by more than 170 percent under Obama, more than any president since World War II. They have reached their highest level relative to the size of the economy since the government began keeping records in 1947. Profits are more than twice as high than their peak during the Reagan administration, which, beginning with the smashing of the PATCO air traffic controllers strike in 1981, initiated a class war against workers.

Since Reagan, the American ruling class has waged an unrelenting campaign, utilizing the services of the trade unions, which abandoned any defense of the working class. Deindustrialization and financialization has been accompanied by the destruction of millions of jobs and the decimation of entire industries. To the extent that any jobs are created, it is on the basis of poverty level wages.

Labor’s share of the Gross Domestic Product has now fallen to 57 percent, the lowest portion of the country’s output since 1950. Since the recession officially ended in January 2009, wages for auto workers have fallen by 10 percent in real terms, and for manufacturing as a whole they have fallen by 2.4 percent.

Although the global economic crisis resulted in losses or slower profits in Europe, China and the so-called emerging markets, multinational manufacturing firms reaped huge profits in the US. Aircraft manufacturer Boeing saw its profits rise 18 percent to $4.6 billion last year, while Ford saw profits rise 26 percent to $7.2 billion. Caterpillar beat analyst expectations with a 44 percent jump in fourth quarter profits, due primarily to “aggressive cost-cutting,” i.e., mass layoffs and wage cuts, which its CEO promised would accelerate in 2014.

US corporations are holding on to a record $1.5 trillion in cash reserves, according to Moody’s credit rating agency. Rather than investing in new plants or hiring, let alone raising wages and benefits, corporations are chiefly spending this stockpile of cash on dividend payouts to their investors and stock buybacks to drive up share values, like Caterpillar’s $10 billion program.

Talk of a manufacturing “renaissance” is largely a fraud. Only 568,000 manufacturing positions have been added since January 2010, a small fraction of the nearly six million lost between 2000 and 2009, according to aNew York Times column published last week by Obama’s former “car czar,” Steven Rattner.

Employers that have moved production to the US have been lured through wage reductions and massive tax cuts, like the $280,000 a job credit given to Volkswagen for its Chattanooga, Tennessee plant. Pointing to the German auto company, Rattner noted that it “moved production from a high-wage country (Germany) to a low-wage country (the United States).”

As Obama boasted in his address, “for the first time in over a decade, business leaders around the world have declared that China is no longer the world’s number one place to invest; America is.” The president added that, “over half of big manufacturers say they’re thinking of in-sourcing jobs from abroad.”

As a model of success, the president pointed to Detroit Manufacturing Systems, a business that hires welfare recipients and the long-term unemployed to produce components for Ford. A Washington Post article noted that the workers, who are members of the United Auto Workers union, are hired “at far lower wages than many had been earning in their previous jobs.”

The Obama administration and the ruling class have counted on the UAW, the International Association of Machinists (IAM) and other trade unions, whose executives and their financial advisors see “in-sourcing” as a growth strategy. Manufacturers making some of the largest profits have relied on the treachery of the unions to impose wage-cutting contracts and suppress struggles when they did erupt.

This included the UAW’s collaboration in the restructuring of the auto industry, which reduced wages of new hires to the equivalent, in real terms, of what was earned by workers in 1914, when Henry Ford first established the $5 day. The UAW was rewarded with corporate shares and millions more in dues money from newly hired workers, who, on top of suffering the indignation of poverty wages, are soon to be hit with a 25 percent dues increase.

Most recently at Boeing, the IAM rammed through a contract extension originally defeated by rank-and-file workers that allowed the jet manufacturer to end company paid pensions, won in 1947, and ban strikes for the next decade.

The experience of the Obama administration, which has overseen the greatest explosion of social inequality in US history, while accelerating the attack on democratic rights and war-mongering policies of his Republican predecessor, has provoked widespread disgust and anger. The president’s election-year rhetoric about “equality” and his proposals for token “reforms” is largely falling on deaf ears.

The historic reversal in living standards for the working class in the United States and around the world is producing enormous levels of social anger, which the capitalist parties, the trade unions and their apologists will not be able to contain. It is only a matter of time for these tensions to erupt into massive struggles. When they do, however, they must be guided by a new leadership and political program, based on the international unity of the working class, its political independence from the corporate-backed parties and the fight to replace the capitalist profit system with socialism, that is genuine social equality.

Jerry White

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/31/pers-j31.html

Hate the Super Rich?

By Joel S. Hirschhorn

January 29, 2014 “Information Clearing House – There are times when hatred is a needed, logical and moral stance to take. Evil, injustice and corruption are fine examples of what to appropriately hate. For the overwhelming majority of people it is now rational to hate the super rich, notably the thousands of billionaires holding most of the world’s wealth and wielding power over political and economic systems. They have been successfully raping the global economy and while doing that have kept increasing their wealth as well as economic inequality afflicting ordinary people. One dollar, one vote describes the new reality.

Before discussing some basic reasons to hate the super rich consider some facts about them.

How many billionaires are there? According to the inaugural Wealth-X and UBS Billionaire Census 2013, the global billionaire population reached a record 2,170 individuals in 2013, with a combined net worth of $6.5 trillion. What happened after the most recent global economic meltdown? Some 810 individuals became billionaires since the 2009 global financial crisis. In other words, plain millionaires moved up to billionaire status.

But the super rich include many more than the billionaires, because the top one percent on the economic scale have monster size wealth, according to a new report Working for the Few. The one percent of the richest people in the world have $110 trillion. That equates to some 65 times the total wealth of the bottom half of the world’s population. But among the millions of the top one percent, the richest 85 people, true billionaires, have wealth equal to the bottom half of the world’s population. As to the US, the wealthiest one percent captured 95 percent of post-financial crisis growth since 2009, while the bottom 90 percent became poorer. That leaves 9 percent, about 30 million Americans, in the upper class that did very well as they strive to make it into the top one percent.

When people talk about economic, wealth or income inequality they are really talking about the incredibly small fraction of the richest people relative to the larger population that still are not sharing in the global jackpot, no matter how hard they work. Inequality means that money is not being fairly distributed. There have been times in history when prosperity was shared, as in the several decades after World War II.

No surprise that only 7 percent of Americans, according to a Gallup report, currently feel “very satisfied” with our nation’s distribution of income and wealth. Similarly, a new NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 81 percent of Americans believe the economy is working very or fairly well for the wealthy, compared to 22 percent for the middle class.

Why hate the super rich and the rising economic inequality that benefits them?

This distorted economic system means that democracy is more delusional than real. Consider this: Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis once said, “We must make our choice. We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.” Truly wise words.

The near total lack of public confidence in Congress, both major political parties and the whole political system by Americans goes hand-in-hand with the perverted economic system. You have every right to hate the super rich because for a long time in many visible and invisible ways they have intentionally manipulated the political system to create and maintain the unjust economic system. Their economic power gives them political power. Rather than one person one vote, think in terms of one dollar one vote.

Hate the super rich because their degree of wealth and power is obscene.

Hate the super rich because they persecute the vast majority of people worldwide. Some of the super rich play up their charitable activities, but that does not negate all the evil consequences of economic inequality on the daily lives of billions of people.

Hate the super rich because their greed is ungodly. If true democracy is to be restored, then Americans need to be much more than dissatisfied. They need to get more emotional. They need to hate. Then they must convert that hatred into political demands and actions.

Contact Joel S. Hirschhorn through http://articlev.wix.com/statusquobuster

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37502.htm

American State of the Union: A Festival of Lies

By Glen Ford

January 29, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “Black Agenda Report ” – “Believe it,” said the current Prevaricator-in-Chief, in the conclusion to his annual litany lies. President Obama’s specialty, honed to theatrical near-perfection over five disastrous years, is in crafting the sympathetic lie, designed to suspend disbelief among those targeted for oblivion, through displays of empathy for the victims. In contrast to the aggressive insults and bluster employed by Republican political actors, whose goal is to incite racist passions against the Other, the sympathetic Democratic liar disarms those who are about to be sacrificed by pretending to feel their pain.

Barack Obama, who has presided over the sharpest increases in economic inequality in U.S. history, adopts the persona of public advocate, reciting wrongs inflicted by unseen and unknown forces that have “deepened” the gap between the rich and the rest of us and “stalled” upward mobility. Having spent half a decade stuffing tens of trillions of dollars into the accounts of an ever shrinking gaggle of financial capitalists, Obama declares this to be “a year of action” in the opposite direction. “Believe it.” And if you do believe it, then crown him the Most Effective Liar of the young century.

Lies of omission are even more despicable than the overt variety, because they hide. The potentially most devastating Obama contribution to economic inequality is being crafted in secret by hundreds of corporate lobbyists and lawyers and their revolving-door counterparts in government. The Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal, described as “NAFTA on steroids,” would accelerate the global Race to the Bottom that has made a wasteland of American manufacturing, plunging the working class into levels of poverty and insecurity without parallel in most people’s lifetimes, and totally eviscerating the meager gains of three generations of African Americans. Yet, the closest Obama came to even an oblique allusion to his great crime-in-the-making, was to announce that “new trade partnerships with Europe and the Asia-Pacific will help [small businesses] create even more jobs. We need to work together on tools like bipartisan trade promotion authority to protect our workers, protect our environment and open new markets to new goods stamped ‘Made in the USA.’” Like NAFTA twenty years ago – only far bigger and more diabolically destructive – TPP will have the opposite effect, destroying millions more jobs and further deepening worker insecurity. The Trans Pacific Partnership expands the legal basis for global economic inequalities – which is why the negotiations are secret, and why the treaty’s name could not be spoken in the State of the Union address. It is a lie of omission of global proportions. Give Obama his crown.

The president who promised in his 2008 campaign to support a hike in the minimum wage to $9.50 by 2011, and then did nothing at all to make it happen, says this is the “year of action” when he’ll move heaven and earth to get a $10.10 minimum. He will start, Obama told the Congress and the nation, by issuing “an executive order requiring federal contractors to pay their federally-funded employees a fair wage of at least $10.10 an hour because if you cook our troops’ meals or wash their dishes, you should not have to live in poverty.” Obama neglected to mention that only new hires – a small fraction, beginning with zero, of the two million federal contract workers – will get the wage boost; a huge and conscious lie of omission. The fact that the president does not even propose a gradual, mandated increase for the rest of the two million shows he has no intention of using his full powers to ameliorate taxpayer-financed poverty. We can also expect Obama to issue waivers to every firm that claims a hardship, as is always his practice.

What is Obama’s jobs program? It is the same as laid out at last year’s State of the Union, and elaborated on last summer: lower business taxes and higher business subsidies. When you say “jobs,” he says tax cuts – just like the Republicans, only Obama first cites the pain of the unemployed, so that you know he cares. “Both Democrats and Republicans have argued that our tax code is riddled with wasteful, complicated loopholes that punish businesses investing here, and reward companies that keep profits abroad. Let’s flip that equation. Let’s work together to close those loopholes, end those incentives to ship jobs overseas, and lower tax rates for businesses that create jobs right here at home.” Actually, Obama wants to lower tax rates for all corporations to 28 percent, from 35 percent, as part of his ongoing quest for a Grand Bargain with Republicans. For Obama, the way to bring jobs back to the U.S. is to make American taxes and wages more “competitive” in the “global marketplace” – the Race to the Bottom.

In the final analysis, the sympathetic corporate Democrat and the arrogant corporate Republican offer only small variations on the same menu: ever increasing austerity. Obama bragged about reducing the deficit, never acknowledging that this has been accomplished on the backs of the poor, contributing mightily to economic inequality and social insecurity.

Obama offers nothing of substance, because he is not authorized by his corporate masters to do so. He takes his general orders from the same people as do the Republicans. That’s why Obama only speaks of minimum wage hikes while Republicans are in power, rather than when his own party controlled both houses of Congress. Grand Bargains are preferred, because they are the result of consensus between the two corporate parties. In effect, the Grand Bargain is the distilled political will of Wall Street, which feeds the donkey and the elephant. Wall Street – the 1 percent – believes the world is theirs for the taking, and they want all of it. Given this overarching truth, Obama has no choice but to stage a festival of lies.

Glen Ford can be contacted at Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37501.htm

Dirty War

Award-Winning Documentary

Video – Full Movie

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill chases down the hidden truth behind America’s expanding covert wars.

Official Trailer

Posted January 28, 2014

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37499.htm

The Danger of War in Asia

By Peter Symonds

January 30, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “WSWS” – An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”

The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.

The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.

While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.

Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch—the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.

The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.

Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance. The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.

Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.

In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead—a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.

Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking. The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive—thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”

By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power. Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.

Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other. The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.

While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Times editorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.

However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production—that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown. The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite. The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.

Copyright © 1998-2014 World Socialist Web Site – All rights reserved

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37505.htm

Political Doublespeak: State of the Union Or State Of Obama?

By Danny Schechter

Global Research, January 30, 2014

obamadoublespeak2The political classes in our country seem to relish moments of high ritual and symbolic occasions with TV news routinely bringing these events to a country more engaged with awards shows and sporting contests.

The State of the Union, the annual presidential projection of power enjoys a special status because it showcases the prowess of the incumbent to weave a self-congratulatory narrative before what is in effect a peanut galley to cheer him on. Widely understood is that the Congress is at a new low in public approval.

Even when half the office holders, cabinet members, Supreme Court Judges (minus 3) and military brass is sitting on its hands, with some glowering hostility, the acoustics make it seem as if the Speechifier-in-chief’s every word is receiving a standing ovation. His guests joined in to make it appear as if it was a pep rally or he had won the lottery.

Obama may not be a brilliant politician or program implementer, but he is a good speaker and his speech was crafted like a Hollywood script, sprinkled with humor and closing with a crescendo of bi-partisan patriotic adulation for an injured soldier—the modern equivalent of manipulative flag waving. With wife Michelle beaming love for the obsessive and sicklywarrior with his l0 “deployments,” the goal was to reinforce the halo that Obama was hoping would turn around his low approval ratings.

He knew going in that he was doing it as much for his own morale and that of his posse in suits. He read the Washington Post: “Amid the avalanche of coverage of President Obama’s fifth State of the Union — he’s reading the speech! — it’s important to remember one simple fact: The State of the Union’s ability to shape public perception of a president and his agenda is, um, way overrated.”

The newspaper reporting this reality sandwich to the White House hopesters carried 5,069 items containing the phrase “State of the Union” appearing on its website , hyping an event that they clearly cared more about than the public.

And that’s not just for this year. The Huffington Post reported, “Public Opinion And History Agree: The State Of The Union Won’t Change Anything.”

Their political analysts write, “The pattern of State of the Union addresses failing to make much of a dent in public opinion isn’t new, or unique to Obama’s presidency. It’s held largely true for the past five presidents’ addresses.

A new HuffPost/YouGov poll shows the State of the Union may be of minor importance to most Americans. Only 35 percent said that they watched last year’s address, and even fewer — 6 percent — said that they could recall its contents “very well.” Another 23 percent said they remembered it “somewhat well,” while a combined 70 percent said they didn’t remember it very well (28 percent) or didn’t remember it well at all (42 percent).”

So much for the impact of this political uber-coverage!

And what of the speech itself? The New York Times was blistering in its assessment

“A man who entered the White House yearning for sweeping achievements finds himself five years later threatening an end run around gridlock on Capitol Hill by using executive orders, essentially acknowledging both the limits of his ability to push an agenda through Congress and the likelihood that future accomplishments would be narrow.”

The National Journal was equally sarcastic, “It was a good speech about a modest agenda delivered by a diminished leader, a man who famously promised to reject the politics of ‘small things’ and aim big—to change the culture of Washington, to restore the public’s faith in government, and to tackle enduring national problems with bold solutions. … “

Was that was he was doing? Quite the opposite, writes Ron Fournier who began his report with a question, “Is that all there is?”

He added,

“Tuesday night was no such moment. It was, instead, a moment in miniature: an executive order to raise the minimum wage for future federal contractors, and another to create ‘starter’ retirement accounts; summits on long-term unemployment and working families; and scores of promises to ‘continue’ existing administration programs.”

William Deane, formerly of CBS and now editor of Our Missing News.com wrote:

“I can’t remember a State of the Union message–and I’ve heard or read about 50 of them– that has declared a go-it-alone policy-if-you-Congress-don’t-do-it-my-way …We understand President Obama’s frustration over a “just say no,” Congress, but the Congress has that right.  The president’s unprecedented: Come along with me or else I’ll do it on my own is bound to anger the GOP majority and invite some form of retaliation.“

There was no love in media land either. Wrap, the Hollywood website reported that one Republican Congressman audibly threatened a reporter to knock him off the balcony. For all the show of unity, many in the audience were seething with disgust.

The Tea Party was in the end furious, not with Obama who is their perennial target, but House Speaker Boehner who they denounced in the speech’s aftermath as a traitor and sell-out. They issued a declaration of war on the Speaker, claiming he is warring on them.,

Fom their official statement issued after the big speech,

“John Boehner declared war against the Tea Party. Publicly and privately, Speaker of the House, John Boehner is waging war on the Tea Party, conservative Republicans, and our values.”

Obama may not have won much support but it seems clear that the main conflict in Washington has moved from the Republican-Democratic axis to a food fight among Republicans. This development must be dismaying to GOP strategists who believed that they had a chance to take over the Senate because of all the discontent with Obamacare.

Liberals must be dismayed too, especially when Obama embraced drones and spying, justified as necessary to stop terrorist and cyber attacks. His call to close Guantanamo has been echoing for five years with the White House opposed and the Congressional Torture Caucus still wedded to punishing terrorists who in many cases never have been.

Writing in the Globalist published in Europe, Editor Stephen Richer asked about the President, “Why has he been so captured by the apparatus? The bubble in the White House is one reason. Relative youth and inexperience another. Fear of being held accountable “in case something happens” a third. But let’s keep personality traits and political considerations to the side.Obama’s hesitation to stand up for democratic controls of the intelligence machinery is indicative of a fundamental misconception of American freedom.”

Maura Stephens, an anti-fracking activist in upstate New York, was aghast at Obama’s stance on extracting natural gas, writing:

“It was very ironic that the day we were honoring Pete Seeger — a hero of peace and the environment — that President Obama would double down on fracking claims. Seeger has been one of our champions in the fight against fracking in New York State, coming to virtually all of our rallies.”

No one in the media pointed out that Seeger sang with Bruce Springsteen at Obama’s 2009 inauguration. On the day that every newspaper carried heroic obits, Obama said nothing.

There were other criticisms of his unwillingness to challenge the over reliance on tests in schools and new standards to close the unequal gap between wages for women and men. That issue woke the audience up, but no new initiatives were floated.

These critics forget that what Obama was ultimately selling was himself.

My sense: we are back to square one.

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net, and edits Mediachannel.org. His new book is Madiba AtoZ: The Many Faces of Nelson Mandela (Mandelabook.com.) Comments todissector@mediachannel.org.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/political-doublespeak-state-of-the-union-or-state-of-obama/5366744

Ukraine: Foreign Engineered Regime Change Operation

By Rick Rozoff and John Robles

Global Research, January 30, 2014

The situation in Ukraine is a fluid one and changing by the hour. Although it had appeared that there was a resolution to the protests that had broken out after the government of Ukraine had made the sovereign decision of sticking with Russia and saying no to closer European Union integration, excessive violence from the western backed opposition has spread like a wave throughout the country.

The so called Ukrainian “opposition” now resembles something more akin to armed insurgents in Syria involved in a coup d’état than opposition protestors.

The situation in Ukraine once again underlines US hypocrisy. The US, which prides itself on protecting its police, supports an “opposition” which is threatening, attacking, kidnapping and setting young police officers on fire. The scene currently playing out in Ukraine has all of the signs of a foreign engineered regime change operation and with the taking of government buildings, has unarguably moved  into a scenario where the continuity of the state is in question.

Voice of Russia regular and NATO expert Rick Rozoff discussed all of these issues and more as the situation threatens to spin out of control.

Robles: Thanks a lot. I was wondering if we can get your views on what is going on in Maidan or Independence Square in Ukraine. It seems like the level of violence is escalating with … looks like no end in sight, I don’t know. What do you think?

Rozoff: No, you are absolutely correct. Ukraine has become, you know, the center of attention I think , globally, right now, the cynosure. People are focused on it with good reason. In a way it’s replaced Syria as the, how would I put it, proxy conflict between the East and West with the West once again on the offensive. That is, in an attempt to do something, nothing short of toppling an elected government of a nation that has close state-to-state relationships with Russia.

And what is happening is fluid, of course, but it is also tense and it is also fraught with not only dangerous but potentially catastrophic consequences if the violence that exists in Kiev in and around Independence Square and now by recent reports spreading into parts of Western Ukraine where the hotbeds of nationalist and even fascistic extremism are…

So I think what you are seeing is well-coordinated series of activities that began in Kiev and may very well spread to the Western part of Ukraine.

Robles: I see. What are your views on who is behind all this, and the reasons for it? Now at first they came up with that there was the EU integration, then they were protesting the government, and then they were calling for early elections, then they were protesting against Russia.

Now one of the objects of the protesters&# 39; actions is something about some students that were beat several weeks ago. It just seems like they are finding any reason whatsoever to keep escalating and continuing their violence.

During the night there were negotiations and the opposition said they had agreed to the conditions set by the government to stop their violent activities, and then they went out and announced this to their supporters. Their supporters weren’t happy about it and they went back on their word, they said: ‘No, we are not going to agree to any cease in our violence’ .

And they are continuing with their violence which, they’re throwing Molotov cocktails at Police. All of the Police and the security forces they are suffering severe burns and the violence against the police is escalating.

And of we look at who the leaders are, it brings a lot of questions to my mind – as who is actually running all of this? I mean they’ve got this ex-boxer, he is promoting all this violence.

Can you give us some comments on him and on the resolution by the Russian State Duma yesterday, if you could, regarding the violence?

Rozoff: Yes, the opposition, and again we have to keep in mind in a fluid situation like this, and what we are looking at is really not only a destabilization but ultimately a regime change technique or scenario. But what we see is the boxer, the heavyweight boxer Vitali Klichko, and two other nationalists emerging as what is a typical color revolution scenario where there is a triumvirate or triad of political leaders.

This was true by the way during the Orange Revolution, so-called, in 2004 and 2005. We had Viktor Yanukovich (Yushchenko) , Yulia Tymoshenko and Alexander Moroz as being the triumvirate, modeled after that in Georgia, incidentally, the preceding year, in 2003.

So, the question is begged of course, about whether the public or nominal leadership is really anything more than figureheads, or are anything more than figureheads, and whether in fact there is not something more substantive behind it both internally and of course externally.

So what we are looking at is a degree of violence against police officers that would not be tolerated in any other European country, I can assure you, certainly not in the West. But being cheered on and supported unequivocally by Western political leaders in the European Union, in the United States, in NATO I might add.

Yesterday Secretary General of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, said, “Violence can never be used for political means.” You know, a lightening bolt should come from the heavens and strike anyone making a statement like that when they’re the head of NATO which has used violence for political means uninterruptedly since 1995 in several countries on three continents.

Robles: Well that’s their only tactic. How could you say that?

Rozoff: But of course. But I mean there is a difference between official use of force by a government to maintain peace in a country – there could be abuses, there could be excessive use of that force, but at least it is legally sanctioned – as opposed to people who are a little bit better than gangsters at times, hitting police officers with hammers or throwing petrol bombs at them.

You don’t see much of it here in the West, but luckily with the Internet we can see a television broadcasts around the world. And we’ve seen the horrifying pictures of the results of the use of so-called Molotov cocktails in Kiev. Seeing your young police officers’ heads and arms are on fire and so forth and you can only imagine the degree of, third-degree I’m sure, of burns that they suffer as a result of gasoline bombs.

But I think rather than focusing on the mechanics of what is going on, which will be debated ad nauseam in the Western press of course, what is important to again come back to you, and you and I have had occasion to talk about this before, John, is the regional and ultimately the global context within which the battle for Ukraine, and I would term it exactly that the battle for Ukraine, is occurring.

One factor which is very significant but didnot receive the attention it certainly warranted was in the middle of last month, the middle of December, now former US Congressman Dennis Kucinich, he had served in the US House of Representatives for eight terms, for 16 years- he is a native of my home state of Ohio, incidentally – wrote a very revealing article stating that the so-called European Union Association Agreement with – initiative rather – with Ukraine was simply NATO’s Trojan Horse in Ukraine. This is precisely how former Congressman Kucinich put it. And what he did indicate and he shows a fairly good degree of familiarity with how all these things are done that Ukraine would first to join NATO and then join the European Union because traditionally that is how it has occurred, with the newer members, with the exception of tiny island nations of Cyprus and Malta.

So that what we are looking at is Ukraine is a geo-strategically pivotal nation; it clearly is that nation that separates what geopoliticians or -strategists would talk about from East to the West. It borders, of course, Poland and other nations that are now considered to be in Central Europe for that matter and Russia to its East which of course is in Eastern Europe and even in Eurasia. I mean, in fact, the greater part of Russia being in Asia itself.

What we are seeing is something almost evocative of formal struggles, and there is a history of Ukraine being pivotal in that sense. Many of your listeners may be acquainted either with the 19th century novel Taras Bulba, by the Russian novelist Nikolai Gogol, who is from Ukraine, or the movie adaptation at the end of the last century, more people might know.

It is a fact that Ukraine is a bone of contention between the Westernized Slavic part of Europe, if you will, those with the Latin alphabet and the Roman Catholic religion and those with the Cyrillic alphabet and the Orthodox religion which Ukraine for the most part is. And that we’ve seen similar situations after World War 1, during World War 2.

In World War 1 Germany, in the first instance, tried to wean Ukraine away from Russia; in World War 2 Stepan Bandera and other Nazi collaborators, who are heroes incidentally to the modern nationalists in Ukraine, who under the Yushchenko government rehabilitated members of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and others who had collaborated with the Nazi Germany, so we are looking at very extremist elements..

Probably the most visible and prominent of the so-called youth activista are members of the so-called Svoboda or Freedom party, which up until a few years ago had as its logo a variant of the Nazi swastika. So let’s be very clear about what we are dealing with. There are may be any number of innocent youth who want, going out for a dare, much as Orange Revolution in 2004-2005, but behind it there are some very hardcore nationalists, and Russo-phobic extremists, who whether be known to themselves or not are serving the purpose of turning yet another country into a battle zone in a renewed post-Cold War East-West conflict.

Robles: Can you give us your views on the statement by the Crimean parliament and by the Russian Duma yesterday? The Russian Duma is calling for foreign actors, foreign players -we know who we are talking about: the West, the US – to refrain from interfering in Ukraine.

The Crimean parliament, they adopted a statement with a vote of 78-81 deputies in favor of it. The statement reads: ‘The political crisis, the formal pretext for which was a pause in Ukraine’ s European integration has developed into armed resistance and street fights. Hundreds of people have been hurt and, unfortunately, some people have been killed. The price for the power ambitions of a bunch of political saboteurs – Klichko, Yatsenyuk and Tyagnibok- is too high. They have crossed the line by provoking bloodshed using the interests of the people of Ukraine as cover and pretending to act on their own behalf.’

And they finish up by saying:’ The people of Crimea will never engage in illegitimate elections, will never recognize their results. And will not live in Bandera Ukraine.’ – they say. So, can you comment on that and on the Russian resolution, if you would?

Rozoff: First of all I want to commend you, as of I think yesterday or perhaps today, of compiling a list of I think significant statements by the Russian State Duma, the duma or the parliament in Crimea and others and putting them into a very condensed form that has been very useful to me.

A couple of things: the trio of opposition figures is exactly the triumvirate I alluded to earlier with Vitali Klichko playing what could only be described as a sort of Rocky Balboa-meets- Rambo Sylvester Stallone compilation of pseudo-populist, right-wing, dangerous and ultimately violent sort of activity.

The Bandera allusion we’ve talked about earlier; he was a leader during World War 2 of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army and fought against the legitimate political authorities in what was then Nazi-occupied Soviet Union, but often times in conjunction with the Third Reich, with the Nazis. So they are using the same language you and I had used.

Now, what we are talking about here in Crimea is of the upmost importance. The US has for several years now been waging, in conjunction with its NATO allies, annual fairly large-scale naval war games called Sea Breeze, and they are conducted in the Crimea dangerously close to where the Russian Black Sea fleet is stationed at Sevastopol. And even though a public outcry led to, or resulted in, a Sea Breeze exercise I think three years ago, perhaps four, being called off, they have been resumed and what has happened over the last two or three years, this is very significant, and I hope your listeners pick up on this, the US as a matter of course has been sending missile cruisers into the Black Sea to go to Crimea, to dock there.

These are what are called the Ticonderoga- class guided missile cruisers, of the sort that are part of the US international missile, so-called missile shield, that is they are to be equipped with Standard Missile-3 interceptor missiles, and these ships are visiting Ukraine on a regular basis.

As the US continues its military takeover of the Black Sea, they’ve already done this with Bulgaria and Rumania, where they’ve acquired eight major military basses in those two countries. Turkey of course is a NATO ally and Ukraine then becomes a very significant factor in the US military takeover of the Black Sea largely through NATO expansion. But what is even I think of more concern, a WikiLeaks document of in the last couple of years revealed that in 2006 the then-head of the US Missile Defense Agency, he’s now retired, General Henry, or Trey, Obering, met with Ukrainian officials, this was during the Yushchenko [administration] , to recruit Ukraine into the European missile shield.

And in the subsequent year, 2007, General Obering, head the Missile Defense Agency, visited to Ukraine during the Yushchenko years, administration years, and met with the defense minister and other key officials in Ukraine in an effort to bring Ukraine into that. If Ukraine were to join, along with Poland, Romania, Turkey and other countries, the beginning stages of the so-called European Phased Adaptive Approach for the interceptor missile system, this would be extremely dangerous. This would be such an open provocation to Russia that I don’t see how Russia could not take some fairly dramatic action in response to it.
So when we talk about the factors that are involved we have to keep several significant ones in mind.

First of all, Ukraine is strategically vital, it is indispensable. In the energy wars that the US and its European Union allies, which is to say NATO allies, have been waging over the past decade to try to curtail Russian exports of natural gas and oil to Europe, ultimately perhaps to cut them off altogether in favor of natural gas and oil projects bringing Caspian Sea energy into Europe via the Caucasus, Azerbaijan and Georgia, but of course from there to Ukraine, from Ukraine into the Western Europe. So Ukraine is significant in that sense.

Ukraine is also one of four countries that NATO has announced, four non-NATO countries, that are to join the NATO Response Force, that is the international strike force that NATO has developed. The other three are Georgia, Finland and Sweden. Of course three of those four countries, all except Sweden, have lengthy borders with Russia.

And that Ukraine has been gradually, I think unbeknownst to most people in Ukraine, and certainly outside, has been dragged into the NATO net deeper and deeper and deeper.

Ukraine is, and these are significant facts, so I hope you don’t mind my emphasizing them. Ukrainet became the first, and to date only, non-NATO country to supply a naval vessel to what is now NATO’s permanent surveillance and interdiction naval operation in the Mediterranean Sea – Operation Active Endeavor. Ukraine’s second to that became the first, and to date only, non-NATO country to supply a ship to NATO’s Arabian Sea – Operation Ocean Shield. Ukraine, during the Kuchma government, supplied 2,000 troops to the United States, NATO in Iraq. They have a small contingent of troops serving under NATO’s International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan.

Part 1 of an interview with Rick Rozoff, the owner and manager of the Stop NATO website and international mailing list. You can find the rest of this interview on our website at http://voiceofrussia. com.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/ukraine-foreign-engineered-regime-change-operation/5366760

Obama, don’t make me puke!

29.01.2014

Obama, don't make me puke!. 52042.jpeg

The face of US foreign policy

Why can’t President Obama, or any President of the USA, nay, Corporate States of North America for that matter, tell the people the truth, the whole truth and nothing but? Why is the State of the Union speech used to pull the wool over their eyes, an attempt to rubber-stamp the policies of the corporations that pull the strings of the Presidents they close ranks behind?

The State of the Union lies…

President Barack Obama started his State of the Union Speech reeling off a string of American success stories, stating how great the United States of America is and how hard its Government is trying to find solutions for its citizens. Translation: Washington could not give a two-penny hoot about the citizens of the United States of America, except for a window the forward side of election day when promises are made to support the sham that policies are directed by political manifestos elected by the people.

Translation: it makes not one iota of difference which way the people vote anyway because by the time the election takes place, the mechanisms are in full swing, AIPAC has decided who is going to win and the corporate machinery which is going to dictate policy for the next four years has closed ranks behind the candidate, ready to neuter any great ideas or castrate anyone with socially progressive ideals.

Translation: the USA is in fact a Corporate States of North America, ruled by the banking, weapons, pharmaceutical and energy lobbies, whose policies have brought American cities to a standstill, whose policies have destroyed millions of jobs, whose policies have led millions of Americans into endemic poverty, whose policies have left millions of youngsters without a shred of hope for the future. Worse, whose policies are doing the same overseas.

But there is Barack Obama the orator, talking about this woman who worked hard all her life (then lost her job), going round in circles trying desperately and pathetically to deny that Washington’s policies have a gigantic F-word painted over them: FAILURE, oblivious to the fact that he swept into Washington with a bill called CHANGE fluttering in his right hand before he fluffed his lines, oblivious to the fact that he has been shamefully assimilated by the corporate machine which pulls his strings and tells him how high to jump.

As we scroll down the speech, more of the same, more of the same, yadder, yadder, yadder and ah! here it is, the foreign policy bit at the end, stand by for the buzz words, freedom, democracy, dictatorship…

Here we go…it starts with the paragraph about the Afghan war ending. Did he mention that Washington has been negotiating with the Taleban behind the scenes, did he mention that the Taleban were paid not to attack in many instances? Did he mention the Afghan opium trade blossoming under US supervision?

As for “setting an example for the rest of the world”, what, Guantanamo Bay? You know, the place where detainees are held without any semblance of due process? Is that what the Corporate States of North America stands for, a torture and concentration camp, holding persons without accusation or trial? And why, instead of claiming that “American diplomacy, backed by the threat of force, is why Syria’s chemical weapons are being eliminated”, doesn’t President Obama tell the truth?

Why doesn’t he admit that the terrorist elements the west has supported and which have now spun out of control, were using chemical weapons to incriminate the Syrian government, why does he not admit that his own administration made wild and irresponsible claims – barefaced lies – without a shred of evidence, blaming “Assad” for the atrocities when elements within the Washington regime were well aware that the Syrian Government was not responsible for the attacks and could not have used such weaponry in an area packed with its own troops on the eve of an inspection?

As for “a Jewish state that knows America will always be at their side”, pardon me, but let me puke, noisily. So Washington is going to stand by a state which builds a wall to divide Palestinian communities, which steals their lands, desecrates their cemeteries, shoots kids in the eye with rubber bullets, imprisons people who try to protect their lands from settler-thieves, and carries on blowing raspberries in the face of the international community? Figures.

And what’s this about “American diplomacy”? Sterling job in Benghazi, what? Diplomacy, excluding democratically elected HAMAS from the negotiating table, excluding major player Iran from the Syrian peace process…diplomacy indeed. Napalm diplomacy, strafing screaming kids with chemical agents, nuclear diplomacy, silencing Japanese cities with atomic terrorist attacks, terrorist diplomacy, aiding, arming and training marauding gangs of Islamist fanatics in Libya and now Syria. As Hillary 2016 might say, “despicable”.

When speaking about Iran’s nuclear weapon plans (which it never had) why does President Obama fail to mention Israel’s nuclear stockpile and under what international covenant does such a stockpile legally exist? Or is he too much of a sniveling coward to face up to the truth?

Moving down the alphabet of US disaster stories abroad, we reach the U for Ukraine, where dozens of buses are active ferrying thugs, vandals and hooligans from every corner of the country to Kiev, so that they can hurl missiles at the police force, break the law and create mayhem, just like their predecessors OTPOR did in Serbia. So Obama has no respect at all for his own police force, ambulance or fire service, because the policies he supports abroad see terrorists and thugs targeting these women and men as they sacrifice their lives for their communities?

However, ladies and gentlemen, there was one word of truth in Obama’s state of the union lies, this gem: “My fellow Americans, no other country in the world does what we do”. Hmmm, maybe he isn’t such a liar after all. No other country has dropped atomic bombs on cities full of civilians – twice, no other country has strafed kids with Napalm, no other country has been involved in so many wars overseas, so many acts of treachery, so much support for Fascist regimes, so many murder attempts, so many blows, coups and putsches against democracy or democratically elected governments, so much support for terrorism.

In short, in a nutshell, in the history of humankind never has so much harm been done to so many by just one country.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/columnists/29-01-2014/126717-obama_union-0/

Canadian NDP MP harassed by Sri Lankan authorities

By Athiyan Silva 

30 January 2014

New Democratic Party MP (Member of Parliament) Rathika Sitsabaiesan has claimed that Sri Lankan authorities harassed and sought to politically intimidate her during a recent private visit to Sri Lanka, the country of her birth.

Shortly after arriving in Sri Lanka last December 28, Sitsabaiesan complained to the press that she had been followed, then “warned, I could be subject to arrest and deportation.” For a time, she was confined to her hotel by Sri Lankan “terrorism” investigators. Later Sitsabaiesan reported, “I have received word from the Canadian High Commission in Colombo that the Sri Lankan authorities have confirmed that their previous claim of an arrest warrant in my name does not exist.”

Sitsabaiesan—who fled Sri Lanka with her family in the midst of the three-decades-long communal civil war that the Sri Lankan state mounted against the island’s Tamil minority—has been the New Democratic Party (NDP) MP for Scarborough-Rouge River, a Toronto-area constituency, since 2011. Prior to her election, she served as an advisor to Jack Layton, the party’s late leader.

The trade union-supported NDP is a pro-imperialist, pro-austerity party. It has supported Canada’s participation in a series of US-led wars, including NATO’s 2011war for “regime change” in Libya and the leading role that the Canadian Armed Forces played in the Afghan counterinsurgency war. An ostensibly “left” party, the NDP openly boasts about its affinity with US President Barack Obama’s Democratic Party.

Like the US government and Canada’s ruling elite, the NDP lent support to the Sri Lankan government’s scuttling of peace talks and prosecution of all-out war against the separatist Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) from 2005 on. When tens of thousands of Tamils took to the streets of Toronto in 2009 to demand an immediate halt to the war, the NDP remained silent.

During her Sri Lanka trip, Sitsabaiesan travelled to the predominantly Tamil-speaking Northern Province. There, in addition to being reunited with family members, she met representatives of the Tamil National Alliance (TNA)—a rightwing, ethnically based party of the Tamil bourgeois elite—and religious and “civil society” leaders. She also visited Jaffna District’s Valikamam North refugee camp, where displaced Tamils continue to live in squalid conditions almost five years after the war’s end.

The Sri Lankan government’s intimidation of Sitsabaiesan is part of its concerted campaign to cover up the war crimes it organized and sanctioned during the war and its continuing oppression of the Tamil minority.

According to the UN, in the final phase of the war in 2009, the Sri Lankan military, egged on by President Mahinda Rajapakse, killed a minimum of 40,000 people. The majority were civilians who perished as a result of the military’s deliberate policy of indiscriminate shelling and bombing. The Sri Lankan military also summarily executed surrendered LTTE fighters.

The Sri Lankan government’s boasts of restoring “peace” to the island are a transparent lie. The North and the East remain under military occupation. The government also continues to use the Terrorism Investigation Department (TID), notorious for its use of torture and arbitrary detentions, to intimidate government opponents, Tamil and Sinhalese.

The TID has also been involved in government efforts to prevent citizens of foreign countries, including journalists and elected officials like Sitsabaiesan, from travelling freely in Sri Lanka so as to learn first-hand of the military’s conduct in the final stages of the war and the continuing plight of the Tamil minority. Last year, New Zealand Green Party MP Jan Logie and Australian Green Party Senator Lee Rhiannon were deported on charges of violating the stipulations of their tourist visas and engaging in antigovernment activity.

While opposing the Rajapakse government’s harassment of Sitsabaiesan and, more importantly, the Sri Lankan state’s continuing mistreatment of the Tamil minority, workers must beware of the efforts of the NDP and of the TNA and other Tamil bourgeois groupings in Sri Lanka and Canada to tie them to the reactionary geopolitical agenda of the US and Canadian governments and ruling elites.

US imperialism and its Canadian partner fully supported the Sri Lankan state in its war against the Tamil people. Recently, however, Washington and Ottawa have been demanding that the Rajapakse government probe some of the war crimes committed in 2009. In response to the Sri Lankan government’s refusal to implement the tepid recommendations of its own Lessons Learnt and Reconciliation Commission, Washington has indicated it might sponsor a resolution at the United Nations Human Rights Commission calling for an international investigation into the crimes of the Sri Lankan military and government-supported paramilitaries.

The Obama administration’s change in attitude has nothing to do with concern about the democratic rights of the Tamils. Washington and Canada’s Conservative government are cynically raising the Rajapakse government’s treatment of the Tamils as a means of pressuring Colombo to distance itself from China. Beijing has made significant investments in Sri Lankan, including in the development of port facilities and other infrastructure projects.

With its “pivot to Asia,” the Obama administration has placed isolating China strategically and preparing for possible war against it at the center of US world strategy. While the US is seeking to limit and roll back Chinese influence across the Indo-Pacific region, Sri Lanka—because of its location in the center of the Indian Ocean, across which much of China’s trade, including most of its oil imports, flows—is seen as especially strategically significant.

The US and Canada have a long and infamous history of selectively raising and manipulating human rights violations of countries whose governments are viewed as obstacles or insufficiently pliant, while supporting and arming bloody rightwing dictatorships subservient to the US and the west and waging aggressive wars in the name of human rights.

Thus Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Conservative government rails against “authoritarian” Iran, while it supported the Mubarak dictatorship in Egypt and hailed the July 2012 coup that restored the Egyptian military to power. And Canada’s Prime Minister never tires of boasting that Canada is the “staunchest ally” of the Israeli state that has dispossessed the Palestinian people.

Workers cannot fight for the democratic rights of the Tamils through the governments of the imperialist rulers of the US and Canada, but only in opposition to them. Yet the NDP and the parties and organizations of the Tamil bourgeoisie are claiming working people should put their faith and hopes in these governments’ hypocritical posturing as opponents of the Sri Lankan government’s repression and war crimes.

Last fall, when Harper refused to attend the Commonwealth summit in Colombo, ostensibly to protest Rajapakse’s failure to investigate the military’s human rights violations, the NDP, the Canadian Tamil Congress and groups like the Transitional Government of Tamil Eelam that have emerged from the ashes of the LTTE rushed to praise him.

On October 28, they organized a demonstration outside the parliament buildings in Ottawa to “thank” Harper, and a similar rally was organized in Toronto on November 14, as the Commonwealth heads of government meeting convened in Colombo. At the Ottawa rally, Sitsabaiesan rubbed shoulders with Liberal MPs as well as prominent Conservatives, including Justice and former Defence Minister Peter MacKay and Immigration Minister Chris Alexander. Although the Canadian Tamil community is 300,000-strong, the combined attendance at the two rallies was only about 500.

The offshoots of the LTTE are active in all of the parties of the Canadian establishment. In 2011 Sitsabaiesan’s candidacy was promoted by the Tamil nationalists, but many are now backing a challenge to her by Logan Kanapathi, a Markham Ward 7 Councilor of Tamil origin. Kanapathi has been chosen by the Liberals to be their candidate against Sitsabaiesan at the next election in the newly created electoral district of Scarborough North.

While the LTTE remnants in Canada maneuver with the parties of the Canadian ruling class and lend support to the Harper government’s and Obama administration’s attempts to exploit the Tamil issue to further their aggressive anti-China strategy, the TNA has formed an alliance with pro-US United National Party (UNP). The traditional rightwing party of the Sri Lankan bourgeoisie, the UNP launched the communal civil war against the Tamils in 1983.

The Tamil nationalists are thus continuing the reactionary bourgeois class orientation that led the Tamil masses to defeat. They are seeking to tie them to the imperialist powers and to sections of the Sinhalese bourgeoisie, the very forces that supported the Sri Lankan state’s communal war, while vehemently opposing the socialist perspective of basing the fight for the democratic rights of the Tamil workers and peasants on the struggle to unite them with their class brothers and sisters in Sri Lanka, India and around the world.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/30/sril-j30.html

Popular support for Spain’s monarchy plummets

By Alejandro López 

30 January 2014

According to recent polls, nearly two thirds of the Spanish population are in favour of King Juan Carlos abdicating. One poll in the daily El Mundo shows that, for the first time, fewer than half of the Spanish people (49.9 percent) want Spain to remain a constitutional monarchy—a drop of 4 percent since last year. Close to 70 percent said they thought the king was unable to restore the monarchy’s prestige.

The record-low support for Juan Carlos and the monarchy as an institution signifies the fact that the legitimacy of one of the key pillars in the post-Franco capitalist order is crumbling. Revolutionary changes are on the horizon.

Juan Carlos owes his position as head of state to the fascist dictator General Francisco Franco. His grandfather, King Alfonso XIII, was forced into exile following the start of the Spanish Revolution and the overthrow of the 1923-1930 dictatorship of General Miguel Primo de Rivera, with which Alfonso was closely associated.

The Second Republic, proclaimed in 1931, introduced modest democratic measures, but even these threatened the existence of capitalist private property. The Spanish ruling class reacted by conspiring to overthrow it, culminating in the July 18, 1936, coup d’état by Franco. The victorious fascist regime re-established the monarchy in Spain in 1947, and Franco appointed Juan Carlos as his heir apparent in 1969, closely supervising his training.

When Franco died in 1975, the Socialist Workers Party (PSOE) and Communist Party (PCE) connived with sections of the fascist National Movement to ensure Juan Carlos remained on the throne. They worked together to resuscitate the discredited monarchy and prevent a revolutionary reckoning with fascism during the transition to democracy.

The PCE and its trade union organisation, the Workers Commissions (Comisiones Obreras, CCOO), which had widespread influence in the working class, worked to demobilise the revolutionary sentiments of the working class in return for limited concessions laid out in the 1978 Moncloa Accords and Worker’s Statute. The newly installed monarch, Juan Carlos, was deemed “inviolable” and “not subject to any responsibility”—provisions enshrined in articles 56 and 64 of the current constitution.

Within a few years of the transition, on February 23, 1981, sections of the military attempted a coup d’état, during which Congress and the cabinet were held hostage for 18 hours. It failed, but a myth was propagated that Juan Carlos had personally intervened to prevent it. For more than 30 years, all the main political parties, the trade unions, the media, school textbooks and a number of historians have insisted that Juan Carlos “brought democracy” to Spain and “saved it.”

In February 2012, the German magazine Der Spiegel published communiqué 524, sent by the then German ambassador to Spain, revealing the “understanding if not even sympathy” of Juan Carlos for the coup organisers. The historian Julián Casanova described these revelations as “extraordinarily important” because “it is the only written proof to date that Juan Carlos might have secretly been nostalgic for the kind of military rule that Franco had taught him to appreciate.”

In April 2012, a couple of months after these revelations, the king was photographed in hunting gear beside an elephant he had shot on an €8,000-a-day safari trip in Botswana—refuting the official story that he had fallen and broken his hip while working hard in his office. The episode exposed the lies that everyone was “pulling together” as a result of the austerity measures imposed following the 2008 economic crisis.

The king has also been affected by the Nóos corruption case involving his daughter, Princess Cristina Federica de Borbón. Her husband, Iñaki Urdangarin, is accused along with his former business partner, Diego Torres, of tax fraud and siphoning money into offshore bank accounts and family companies, including the real estate agency Aizoon, co-owned by his wife.

Defence lawyers led by Miquel Roca—one of the architects of the 1978 Constitution—are claiming that Cristina had no knowledge of the goings-on and that Urdangarin is solely responsible.

Last week, the princess was named as a formal suspect in the case. Judge José Castro noted that she spent nearly €700,000 of Aizoon money on items such as dinnerware, trips, private dance lessons and the redecoration of a mansion in Barcelona.

The case is damaging the monarchy so much that every state institution has intervened in an attempt to protect the princess.

Last April, the Provincial Court of Palma de Mallorca blocked Castro’s attempts to summon the princess, arguing that there was no legal basis to call a daughter of the Spanish king into court. In November, the Treasury sent the judge a report on Aizoon arguing that the amount owed was only €281,109 in four years and below the threshold for prosecution. In December, the anti-corruption attorney Pedro Horrach published a written document stating that “he did not see any elements to implicate Cristina de Borbón.” The Royal Household has also put pressure on Castro, demanding he bring proceedings “to a timely conclusion.”

Such is the importance of the monarchy’s role as political “cement” holding together the Spanish state that the publicly funded Centre of Sociological Research (CIS) ended questions related to the king’s popularity in its regular surveys once the monarchy’s popularity fell below 5 out of 10 in 2011. After much pressure, the CIS reinstated the question in the May 2013 survey, only to find his popularity had plummeted to 3.7 out of 10. Since then, the question has, once again, been omitted.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/30/spai-j30.html

State of the Union: A bankrupt ruling class talking to itself

30 January 2014

President Barack Obama’s State of the Union speech was a cynical propaganda piece, filled with fraudulent claims and promises that no one, least of all his audience at the US Capitol, believes in the slightest.

The annual address has long since become an ossified ritual, a kind of national pep rally into which social and political reality seldom intrudes.

With Obama’s speech Tuesday night one had more than ever the sense of the president as chief representative of the financial aristocracy that rules America, speaking to a house filled with millionaire congress members and bought-and-paid-for representatives of big business.

It has more and more come to resemble a political echo chamber, in which the ruling establishment celebrates and talks to itself in utter indifference to the needs and concerns of the country’s working people, the overwhelming majority of the population.

In the run-up to the speech, the media had worked to build up expectations with wild predictions that Obama would use it to launch war on social inequality or, as the Washington Post put it, a “sustained assault on Republicans over a populist economic agenda.” The day after, the old adage, “the mountain labored and brought forth a mouse” came to mind.

According to some accounts, Obama’s speechwriters were instructed to tone down references to social inequality and emphasize the concept of “opportunity”—the old Horatio Alger myth that with perseverance anyone can become a millionaire. This was combined with a reassurance to the Wall Street criminals that “Americans understand that some people will earn more than others, and we don’t resent those who, by virtue of their efforts, achieve incredible success.”

On Wednesday, the New York Times published an editorial entitled “The Diminished State of the Union,” and the Washington Post’s was headlined “Obama’s muted call.” There was no denying that the days of the “audacity of hope” are long gone.

Among the exceptions to this reaction was that of the official trade union apparatus. Richard Trumka, the president of the AFL-CIO tweeted at the end of the State of the Union speech, “Best #SOTU to date for @BarackObama. All the right points to lift up middle class but one: collective bargaining.”

Trumka was in the gallery Tuesday night and was shown on national television beaming with joy as Obama congratulated one of his wife Michelle’s “guests”—all of them used as political props for the president’s phony rhetoric—a pizza parlor owner who had raised the salary of his employee from minimum wage to $10 an hour. No doubt Trumka sees this as good for business, salivating over the prospect of benevolent employers allowing him to collect union dues from such workers, pushing their take-home pay back toward the old minimum.

Obama’s move to require federal contractors to pay a minimum wage of $10.10 to employees under new or renewed contracts—not existing ones—was promoted as the boldest of his initiatives. Expected to affect around 250,000 workers—a tiny handful of the nearly 50 million Americans classified as “working poor”—while still leaving them poor, the proposal is the clearest proof that no section of the ruling establishment has any intention of addressing the scourges of inequality, poverty and mass unemployment.

The reality is that, if the minimum wage had risen apace with the compensation of America’s CEOs, the top 1 percent, the poorest paid worker in the US would now be making more than $33 an hour. If it just kept pace with the increase in productivity, it would be over $22.

The speech included the obligatory reference to the state of the union being “strong” along with an assertion that 2014 can become “a breakthrough year for America.” Who does he think he is kidding? Poll after poll shows that some two-thirds of the population believe the economy is anything but strong, with their well-being declining, the phony indicators cited by Obama notwithstanding. A poll conducted at the end of last month found that over half the population is being forced to reduce their spending, and fully 36 percent are cutting back on food and medicine.

One of the few true statements Obama included in his speech was the observation that “corporate profits and stock prices have rarely been higher, and those at the top have never done better.”

That the president felt compelled to note in the same breath the stagnation of wages, deepening inequality and continuing unemployment is an expression of the growing unease within the ruling establishment that the present conditions are unsustainable and must give rise, sooner rather than later, to social upheavals.

The charity Oxfam issued a report just last week noting that the world’s richest 85 individuals have amassed more wealth than the poorest 3.5 billion. In the United States, the most unequal of all the advanced capitalist countries, the 20 wealthiest people possess as much wealth as the poorest 150 million. Under Obama’s presidency, the top 1 percent has monopolized 95 percent of the growth in income, while the bottom 90 percent of the population has only been further impoverished.

To cast the hodgepodge of micro-initiatives and empty promises cobbled together in Obama’s speech as an attempt to confront these staggering levels of inequality would be ludicrous.

More substantive preparations are being made to deal with the political consequences of unprecedented social inequality through the buildup of a totalitarian police-state apparatus, parts of which have been exposed in Edward Snowden’s revelations of massive domestics spying by the National Security Agency. Preparations are being made to counter a challenge from below.

In the final analysis, Obama’s fifth State of the Union address has exposed his presidency as a politically spent force. He will be remembered first as a president who was able to exploit illusions in his phony promises of change to carry out the biggest swindle in history, the Wall Street bailout, which has seen the transfer of trillions of dollars in social wealth from the majority of the population to the banks and the super-rich. Secondly, his legacy will be the buildup of a police state and the shredding of the most basic democratic and constitutional rights.

Obama’s attempt at this late date, in the run-up to the 2014 midterm elections, to cast himself and the Democratic Party as the champions of the poor and crusaders against social inequality will be embraced only by a thin and privileged layer that includes the trade union officialdom and the pseudo-left elements whose personal fortunes are bound up with the fate of the Democrats.

Today’s malignant levels of social inequality are inextricably bound up with the capitalist profit system and the unceasing growth of financial parasitism to which it has given rise. The struggle against it can be mounted only by the working class. It must mobilize its independent strength in an offensive aimed at impounding the ill-gotten fortunes of the Wall Street and corporate oligarchs and reorganizing society on socialist foundations to meet the social needs of the vast majority rather than the profit interests of the few.

Bill Van Auken

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/30/pers-j30.html

Syria sends letters to the United Nations and the UNSC about Saudi Arabia’s Terrorist Operations

By Global Research News

Global Research, January 29, 2014
Syrian Arab News Agency 29 January 2014

Syria_UNThe Foreign and Expatriates Ministry on Wednesday sent two identical letters to the Head of the UN Security Council and the UN Secretary-General on the terrorist acts of the armed terrorist groups and the Saudi involvement in supporting these acts.

The Ministry said that Saudi Arabia has sponsored an armistice among the armed terrorist groups of the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham, al-Mujahiden Army, Jabhet al-Nusra and others in an attempt to foil the political solution to the crisis in Syria.

The Ministry stressed that this act reveals Saudi Arabia’s insistence on adherence to violence and terrorism, adding that Saudi Arabia has sought to provide all financial, military and logistic capabilities as to unify the armed terrorist groups against the Syrian state.

The statement stipulated that the Saudi regime has tasked Saudi Sheikh Abdullah Bin Sulieman al- Mohaisany, who is one of the religious reference which the “jihadist” groups respond to, with launching an initiative called “nation’s initiative” on reaching an immediate armistice among all terrorist groups in all the Syrian areas.

The initiative was based on consultations with many of so-called “nation’s scholars”, including Ayman al-Zawahiri, who was called by Sheikh al- Mohaisany’s initiative as the “wise man of the nation”.

The Ministry said that the “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham” responded to the initiative, which was planned by the Saudi authorities, along with Abu Mohammad al- Joulani, leader of “Jabhet al-Nusra” and the terrorist groups of “al-Mujahiden Army” and the “Islamic Front”.

The Ministry stressed that the patronage of the Saudi authorities to this initiative and its harmony with the calls of leader of Al Qaeda for unifying the terrorist groups which are supported and backed by KSA and the Al Qaeda-linked terrorist groups in Syria indicates that the role of Saudi Arabia has moved from the stage of secret support to public support to Al Qaeda and its affiliated terrorist groups, which constitutes a flagrant and unprecedented violation of the relevant UN Security Council resolutions, particularly resolution No 1373 for the year 2001 that prevents any kind of covert or public support to any entity or persons that are involved in terrorist acts.

The Ministry said that the Syrian government calls on the UN Security Council’s sub-committees charged with combating terrorism to list the “Islamic front” and “al-Mujahiden Army” as terrorist entities with links to Al Qaeda as with the “Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham” and “Jabhet al-Nusra, whihc are listed as terrorist organizations.

The Ministry highlighted that Syria also asks for activating the relevant UN Security Council resolution regarding the importance of international cooperation in combating terrorism in all means through preventing KSA from providing any kind of overt or covert support to the groups which are involved in terrorist acts that endanger the lives of Syrians across the country, adding that Al Qaeda-linked groups are committing terrorist acts in Syria with overt or covert support by some countries in the region and abroad, on top of which is Saudi Arabia.

The Ministry concluded its messages by saying that Syria highlights that “Not confronting terrorism could foil the ongoing efforts to achieve a political solution and will cause terrorism to spread to other countries, particularly the neighboring countries that are providing training, havens and safe crossing for terrorists to enter Syria through their lands.”

http://www.globalresearch.ca/syria-sends-letters-to-the-united-nations-and-the-unsc-about-saudi-arabias-terrorist-operations/5366707

The real State of the Union

By Pepe Escobar

US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address was a somewhat surrealist spectacle. Way beyond avalanches of PR spin, the US government for a long time has not exactly done wonders for the public good. So as it advertises itself in front of a dysfunctional US Congress dismissed as repellent by an overwhelming majority of Americans – including, and expanding, on those 76% who are living paycheck to paycheck – what’s left is a grand, old Hollywood production.

And Obama, of course, is a decent actor who can deliver a decent speech – certainly better than Ronnie Reagan, whom Gore Vidal used to describe as “the acting president”.

The key theme of SOTU 2014 was the appalling income inequality in the US. Call it an appendix of this past week at the World Economic Forum in Davos – that snowy Vegas for the 0.00001% – in which the Masters of the Universe finally “discovered” inequality. So much inequality, in fact, that 2014 was instantly tagged by the Masters – and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – as the new 1914, all that furiously tweeted to all corporate boardrooms of the liquid modernity elite.

As Obama got into his groove, he proclaimed that Obamacare had won; that he would resort to ruling by executive order to get things done; and that a mixed salad of platitudes and vague proposals/generalities attested to the imminent success of his agenda of improving “opportunity” as the only answer to fighting inequality. Oh yes; and that the American Dream was not in a coma.

No word, of course, about the “gentle”, progressive dismantling of what’s left of US democracy, via the Orwellian/Panopticon complex, through which 0.00001% elite rule is painfully achieved in a sanitized Total Information Awareness (TIA) environment. With the US government in total control of the Internet, that once-upon-a-time dream – the revolution will be televised – won’t happen even on the web.

Neoliberalism or death
In the absence of the late, great Howard Zinn, Americans now have to put up with historic Clintonista Robert Reich. Reich may be correct on two of his reasons for the American malaise.

With the US working class paralyzed and fearful of losing their jobs (labor unions have been virtually destroyed), and with students mired in horrendous debt (even as the average starting salary for graduates has been dropping steadily), two key vectors of protest are neutralized.

But Reich is wrong on his third reason – that over 80% of US public opinion distrusts government so much that they have given up on any possibility of reform.

The key point would be to examine how American turbo-financial capitalism has been drifting since the mid-1970s. The point is not that a cabal of medievalist Republicans, evil corporate CEOs (and their handpicked pols), plus Wall Street is in charge. The point is to examine how demented financial asset speculation plus a demented inflation of dodgy financial securities have been the defining features of the US and global system.

This would imply a hardcore critique of advanced capitalism – which in fact is neither “advanced” nor really capitalism – that is absolute taboo in US corporate media. And the whole thing started even before the prophet Ronnie Reagan, then through Bubba Clinton and all the way to the Dubya/Obama continuum.

The latest graphic illustration is a system in which 85 people – packable in a London double-decker – own as much wealth as the bottom 50% of humanity. How’s that possible? A cursory examination of David Harvey’s groundbreaking A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005) would answer most questions – all related to such tricks as trickle-down economics, slashing taxes for the wealthy and corporations, the destruction of labor unions, lower real wages, job outsourcing, the disenfranchising of just about anyone who’s not part of the 0.00001%, and a free for all in the 0.00001% banking and finance casino. End result; a vortex of wealth concentration – which has absolutely nothing to do with democracy in a republic.

Good ol’ Uncle Marx would tell it for what it is: a class war. And the 0.00001% has won, hands down, fast and loose.

It’s easy to forget that Dubya inherited a sizable budget surplus. He then slashed taxes for the wealthy; presided over two horrendously expensive wars, one because he “had to bomb somebody” and the other a war of choice; and then he was the MC of the biggest Wall Street crash since the Great Depression.

And yes, it’s all about the Bush-Obama continuum. In Obama’s “recovery” era, asset values for the wealthiest 7% of Americans has shot up 28% while declining 4% for the rest.

At least 80% of US voters don’t want social programs to be cut so the budget can be balanced; they want more taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Obama instead cut from social security.

Then there’s the destruction of American cities; this study details how Detroit was screwed while the state of Michigan was spending a fortune on “business incentives”.

And to top it off, there’s the Jamie Dimon syndrome, as in the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, aka Obama’s “one of the smartest bankers we’ve got”. Even if the US’s number one bank has lost billions in dodgy toxic mortgage-backed securities, manipulated energy prices and even defrauded credit card customers, your CEO still gets a hefty bonus as the bank’s stock were up 21% in 2013.

Whether Obama played ball – small or otherwise – at the SOTU is irrelevant. Apart from flagrant absurdities on Iran, Syria and Israel-Palestine, and not a word on Russia and China, no wonder the climatic Hollywood tear-jerker sequence involved an Army Ranger almost killed by an improvized explosive device in Afghanistan. He was Obama’s living metaphor of “Yes We Can”, the 2014 remix.

Curiously, just before SOTU, the US government and the Pentagon leaked to the New York Times that if “a small number” (Obama) of US troops actually remain in Afghanistan, the CIA will continue to drone the tribal areas of Pakistan to oblivion, and will continue to use Afghan bases to spy on Pakistan.

So it’s all about the CIA’s dirty wars. Obviously none of the AfPak components want this state of affairs – so it looks like Obama’s heroes will have to beat the hell out of Dodge for good. Good for them, as they will be exchanging lethal IEDs for a new shot at the ultimate land of “opportunity.” Is that a fact? Yes, because POTUS said so.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge (Nimble Books, 2007), and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).

He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

(Copyright 2013 Asia Times Online (Holdings) Ltd. All rights reserved. Please contact us about sales, syndication and republishing.)

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-290114.html

Not All Lives are Equal-According to the Inhabitants of the Barbarically Civilized Nation

 | January 29, 2014

0128_BarbarianI rarely accept invitations for speaking arrangements. It is not my cup of tea. When I rarely do I insist in dividing my allocated time into 1/3 for speaking and 2/3 for Q & A. I don’t like canned speeches, but I happen to truly like lengthy Q & A sessions. Why? Because: It enables me to talk about what my audience really wants to hear about, it gives me a chance to get to know others’ points of view and perceptions, and let’s face it, it just makes the whole process less boring, more interactive, less predictable, thus more fun.

Two months ago, during one of my very rare speaking arrangements, the topics of discussion took many spontaneous turns and twists and ended up in the area of our wars- our never-ending, perpetual wars. Of course you know where I stand on that. And most likely you won’t be surprised to hear that not many people share my stand; at least not as bold and vehemently.  Most public figures who engage in public speaking know how to frame their talking points and answers very diplomatically so that they will get uniformed nods from their audience; at least most of them. And they do. I know the trick, and I know how it is done. But I never use it. Meaning, I do not engage in public speaking for the purpose of being liked and admired uniformly, and to play it safe. It is not me. In fact I do exactly the opposite, meaning, I actually try to push buttons, and as a result bring out the real inner thinking of my audiences.  So what if that makes me not-so-popular and not likely to be invited again? I ain’t running for public office!

Now that we have established my modus operandi when it comes to public speaking, let’s go back to my Q & A session from my latest ‘engagement.’

We began discussing our latest wars-our wars since September 11, 2001. One lady raised her hand and proposed that these wars were highly justified based on what took place on 9/11. After all, she said, we were attacked, thus, we had to defend ourselves.

I provided her with the conservative estimate of our civilian casualties in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen. She responded to that: ‘Don’t take me wrong. I am sorry that these innocent people had to die, but we had to do what we had to do, and the loss of innocent people does not change this reality.’

I asked her: ‘Would you see the reverse as justified? Meaning, would you see it as justified when those people attack us in defending against our perpetual attacks on them, and as a result kill tens of thousands of our innocent people?’ She said: ‘But that is not the same. They are terrorists. We are not. Wars are not the same as terrorism.’

Basically, she was entering the many-times-argued ‘One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter’ area. So I kept pushing, respectfully, until the real her began surfacing. She said: ‘What we are seeing is an inevitable clash. It is the clash of civilized democratic people with the barbaric third world countries’ inhabitants.’

And that, my friends, brings me to one of the macro topics we frequently discuss here at Boiling Frogs Post: Why don’t we see major backlash and protests in the face of our atrocious wars waged around the globe?

Sure. We can talk about how awful the media has been in framing, thus justifying our unjustifiable wars. We can discuss the fear-mongering factor being played by all our politicians and media outlets. We can talk about all that, but let’s talk about another factor that is rarely discussed: The Us versus them. The civilized vs the barbaric. The White vs Yellow or Olive or Black. The Christians vs the Muslims. The Superior  Westerners vs the Inferior Easterners or Southerners. The superiority complex that says not all lives are equal. The Exceptionalism that says we are far more superior, valuable and worthy of life and liberties.

I usually don’t cover the highly polarizing, and frequently misused notions of racism, sexism, religion-ism, classism, etc. Not because these factors and notions are not highly prevalent in our daily lives, including in our media, politics, education, and yes, foreign policy. But because there are only so many topics and areas I can possibly cover, it is due to not wanting to get into one of those highly polarized discussion areas where tempers and biases and hatred easily boil to the top, and also it is due to not considering myself an expert in sociology and or psychology. All that said, this topic keeps coming up. In one form or another. It ends up being one of those gigantic elephants in the room. So, let’s go ahead and discuss it, and then, face it.

The over a million deaths caused by our Vietnam War did not mean anything compared to 50,000+ deaths of our soldiers. Was that war in self-defense? No. But, that doesn’t matter. Was it a justified war? Surely not, but that doesn’t matter. Who were those people anyway? They were not like us. They didn’t look like us. They didn’t eat like us, and didn’t talk like us.

The estimates of killed and wounded in Hiroshima (150,000) and Nagasaki (75,000) are overly conservative. The atomic bomb we dropped in Hiroshima alone was the equivalent of 20,000 tons of TNT. Was it justified to use the worst kind of weapons of mass destructions and killing hundreds of thousands of civilians, and affecting their offspring to come? No. Should it be categorized as a type of genocide and war atrocity? Yes. Do most people in our nation see it as such? No. We can go around the world and point fingers at nations who may or may not possess WMD, and begin bombing the hell out of them. On the other hand, it is perfectly okay for us to have the world’s biggest WMD cache, and be the only nation that has repeatedly used WMD, and atrociously killed hundreds of thousands using them. Why? Because we consider ourselves civilized. However barbarically. Even when we engage in the most barbaric atrocities, we are still civilized- barbarically civilized, that is.

Here is an example of how we can be Barbarically Civilized, or Civilized Barbarically:

The Volume of American bombing in Vietnam exceeded the 2.7 million tons of bombs dropped by the Allied Forces in all theaters during World War II. The estimated war casualties range from 195,000 to 430,000 civilian war deaths. The lowest total estimate is 1,234,000 military and civilian deaths from 1965 to 1974.

It is a fact that we, the world civilized super power nation, have been the world’s most atrocious WMD possessor and user:

In Korea over a three-year period, U.S./UN forces flew 1,040,708 sorties and dropped 386,037 tons of bombs and 32,357 tons of napalm. If one counts all types of airborne ordnance, including rockets and machine-gun ammunition, the total tonnage comes to 698,000 tons

For South Vietnam, the figure is 19 million gallons of defoliant dropped on an area comprising 20 percent of South Vietnam—some 6 million acres. In an even briefer period, between 1969 and 1973, 539,129 tons of bombs were dropped in Cambodia, largely by B-52s, of which 257,465 tons fell in the last six months of the war (as compared to 160,771 tons on Japan from 1942–1945). The estimated toll of the dead, the majority civilian, is equally difficult to absorb: 2 to 3 million in Korea; 2 to 4 million in Vietnam.

Three million tons were dropped on Laos, exceeding the total for Germany and Japan by both the U.S. and Great Britain.

Did Vietnam or Laos attack our nation, or even threaten to attack our nation? No. Does it matter? No. Why not? Because our super government of our super civilized nation knows best. Because let’s face it: who are these people anyway? They are yellow, and most of them are Buddhist or something like that, they eat too much rice …and they are not civilized like us. As simple as that. So the massive civilian casualty number doesn’t bother us; it doesn’t move us. We may be ‘sorry,’ and that is, later, a little sorry, that is, but that’s all.

That brings us to olive colored people. The barbaric Muslims. The Arabic speaking third world Easterners. The Middle Easterners. We have killed massive numbers of them as well, and we continue killing:

The first household survey that appeared was published in The Lancet in October 2004, measuring the war-related mortality in the war’s first 18 months. The researchers–mainly epidemiologists from Johns Hopkins School of Public Health and medical personnel in Iraq–estimated 98,000 “excess deaths” due to war.

The second household survey, conducted by the Hopkins scientists again, was completed in June 2006 and published four months later in The Lancet. Its findings: 650,000 people (civilians and fighters) died as a result of the war in Iraq.

More conservative (biased?) reports estimate that Afghanistan and Iraq wars have killed 132,000 Civilians.

Did Iraq have anything to do with 9/11? Of course not. Did Iraq in any way threaten us? Nope. Then, why did we go invade them a few months after 9/11? Who cares! They are olive colored, most of them have beards, they speak a language that sounds like a terrorist language, they are Muslims … and all that make them: Barbaric. Not civilized like us. Why should we be moved by tens of thousands of their children and women being blown to bits? Really? As that woman said during my last speaking event: ‘Let’s face it, they are not like us. They are barbaric terrorists.

A few days ago, as I was researching, I came across a very-well written editorial on this topic. To my shock the source was none other than the awful Washington Post. As you know I do not cite anything from propaganda publications such as the Washington Post. In fact, we even call it a boycott here at Boiling Frogs Post. Maybe it was one of those rarities buried in the back pages somewhere. Maybe an aberration? Whatever it was, I was impressed, and I am going to quote a few excerpts:

Even civilian atrocities tend to fade quickly from view, or else become rallying points for the accused troops. My Lai, where about 400 Vietnamese were murdered by a U.S. Army unit in 1968, at first shocked the nation, but Americans quickly came to support Lt. William L. Calley Jr. — who was later found guilty of killing 22villagers — and the others involved. More recently, eight Marines were charged in the 2005 Haditha massacre in Iraq, and none has been convicted. (The last defendant’s trial started this past week.) Indeed, each atrocity that fails to alter public opinion piles on to further prove American indifference.

Why the American silence on our wars’ main victims? Our self-image, based on what cultural historian Richard Slotkin calls “the frontier myth” — in which righteous violence is used to subdue or annihilate the savages of whatever land we’re trying to conquer — plays a large role. For hundreds of years, the frontier myth has been one of America’s sturdiest national narratives.

When the challenges from communism in Korea and Vietnam appeared, we called on these cultural tropes to understand the U.S. mission overseas. The same was true for Iraq and Afghanistan, with the news media and politicians frequently portraying Islamic terrorists as frontier savages. By framing each of these wars as a battle to civilize a lawless culture, we essentially typecast the local populations as the Indians of our North American conquest. As the foreign policy maven Robert D. Kaplanwrote on the Wall Street Journal op-ed page in 2004, “The red Indian metaphor is one with which a liberal policy nomenklatura may be uncomfortable, but Army and Marine field officers have embraced it because it captures perfectly the combat challenge of the early 21st century.”

Politicians tend to speak in broader terms, such as defending Western values, or simply refer to resistance fighters as terrorists, the 21st-century word for savages. Remember the military’s code name for the raid of Osama bin Laden’s compound? It was Geronimo.

This well-written editorial piece makes a very troubling and reality-based point: Our apathy towards mass civilian casualties and atrocities caused by our nation is mainly due to a strong sense of Superiority and Exceptionalism. We see it with our aggression and atrocities around the world. It is the barbaric tribal black people in Africa. Or it is the yellow savage communist Asians. Or the bearded olive terrorist Muslim Arabs. We see it in our domestic events as well. Does the media cover a murdered black child as extensively and dramatically as a blue-eyed blond one like Jan Benet Ramsey? Of course not. Not all murdered or abused children are equal. Does our media cover the Palestinian children killed by Israeli terrorism as in-depth and extensively as the Israeli children who fall victim to the terrorism by the other side? Of course not. Not all destructions and deaths caused by terrorism and savagery are equal.

That lady whose button I pushed is not alone. Unfortunately many, even if subconsciously, share this arrogant sense of superiority. Our majority believes our nation to be a civilized one, even if barbarically civilized. We see our barbarism justified, and do not consider all lives and liberties equal. And as long as this remains the case we shall not see the needed logical reaction and opposition to the atrocities committed around the globe and at home in our name, and in our behalf.

# # # #

Sibel Edmonds is the Publisher & Editor of Boiling Frogs Post and the author of the Memoir Classified Woman: The Sibel Edmonds Story. She is the recipient of the 2006 PEN Newman’s Own First Amendment Award for her “commitment to preserving the free flow of information in the United States in a time of growing international isolation and increasing government secrecy” Ms. Edmonds has a MA in Public Policy and International Commerce from George Mason University, a BA in Criminal Justice and Psychology from George Washington University.

http://www.boilingfrogspost.com/2014/01/29/not-all-lives-are-equal-according-to-the-inhabitants-of-the-barbarically-civilized-nation/

US Congress Secretly Approves Sending Small Arms to ‘Moderate’ Syrian Rebels

By Russia Today

Global Research, January 29, 2014

capitol4Congressional lawmakers have quietly authorized sending small arms, an assorted variety of rockets, and financial backing to so-called “moderate” rebels fighting in Syria’s civil war, according to a new report.

American and European security officials told Reuters that the US will provide anti-tank rockets, but nothing as deadly as shoulder-launched surface-to-air missiles (known as MANPADs), which can be used to bring down military or civilian aircraft.

Legislators voted in closed-door meetings to fund the opposition forces through September 30, the end of the US government’s fiscal year. The decision is an about-face from congressional debates last year, in which the same committees were reluctant to supply arms over concerns that American weapons would wind up in the hands of radical Islamists fighting in the region, the Al-Qaeda-backed Al-Nusra being the most well known.

A destroyed street is seen in the Salaheddin neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as clashes continue between forces loyal to Syria's President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters on January 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Shahba Press) A destroyed street is seen in the Salaheddin neighbourhood of the northern Syrian city of Aleppo as clashes continue between forces loyal to Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and opposition fighters on January 27, 2014. (AFP Photo / Shahba Press)

Now, though, those concerns appear to have lessened. Exactly when Congress approved the funding is not known, yet the sources speculated that it was signed in a classified section of a defense appropriations bill that was approved in December.

The Syrian war is a stalemate,” said Bruce Riedel, a former CIA analyst and current foreign policy advisor to US President Obama with the Brookings Institution. “The rebels lack the organization and weapons to defeat Assad; the regime lacks to loyal manpower to suppress the rebellion. Both sides’ external allies…are ready to supply enough money and arms to fuel the stalemate for the foreseeable future.”

A boy rides on a tricycle along a damaged street in the besieged area of Homs (Reuters / Yazan Homsy)A boy rides on a tricycle along a damaged street in the besieged area of Homs (Reuters / Yazan Homsy)

Despite the uncertainty remaining around the conflict, Western officials have asserted in recent weeks that “moderate” rebels have strengthened their positions in the south of Syria and have begun excluding Al-Qaeda sympathizers. Extremists are known to be in control of rebel forces in the north and east, however.

US and British officials temporarily suspended “non-lethal aid” (a category that includes communications equipment and transportation vehicles) in December, although officials now say they hope to resume providing assistance to the Supreme Military Council (SMC), which oversees rebel forces favored by the West.

We hope to be able to resume assistance to the SMC shortly, pending security and logistics considerations,” one source told Reuters. “But we have no announcement at this time.”

News of the funding comes as the Syrian government and the external opposition in Geneva have reached an agreement that would see humanitarian aid enter the besieged city of Homs, and would allow women and children to leave its war-ravaged areas.

What makes the deal dubious, however, is that it’s not yet clear how it will be implemented on the ground. Currently, the Syrian government is promising – voiced on Sunday by Deputy Foreign Minister Faisal Mekdad – that women and children can leave Homs safely. Another question is how rebels inside the city besieged by the army will react.

If the armed terrorists in Homs allow women and children to leave the old city of Homs, we will allow them every access. Not only that, we will provide them with shelter, medicines and all that is needed,” he said, as cited by Reuters. “We are ready to allow any humanitarian aid to enter into the city through the arrangements made with the UN.”

US State Department spokesman Edgar Vasquez said that an evacuation is not a legitimate option because of how dire the need for aid is.

We firmly believe that the Syrian regime must approve the convoys to deliver badly needed humanitarian assistance into the Old City of Homs now,” Vasquez said. “The situation is desperate and the people are starving.”

The results of a meeting in Geneva, Switzerland – where government officials sat across the negotiating table from representatives of the opposition on Monday – is so far unclear. Each side pledged its willingness to continue discussions, though progress so far has been nearly nonexistent.

United Nations envoy Lakhdar Brahimi told reporters after the meeting Monday that even though the talks “haven’t produced much,” another session was scheduled for Tuesday.

Once again, I tell you we never expected any miracle, there are no miracles here,” he said in a news conference. “My expectation from this conference is that the unjust war will stop. But I know this is not going to happen today or tomorrow or next week.”

http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-congress-secretly-approves-sending-small-arms-to-moderate-syrian-rebels/5366620

Euromaidan: It’s not black and white

29.01.2014

By Katherine Romanova

Euromaidan: It's not black and white. 52032.jpeg

AP photo

With pressure mounting from all sides, Ukraine has once again found itself in the international limelightSo many factors exert their influence over the riots going on in Kiev that any observer would be baffled by the increasing complexities that underpin the protests, referred to under the hashtag banner of #Euromaidan. Unfortunately, Western media neglects to tell much of what is really going on behind the scenes, opting for a simplistic approach that misses the point entirely.

What started as a peaceful movement over Yanukovych’s decision to halt negotiations with the European Union over the signing of an ‘association agreement’ has taken a turn for the worst last week, when the movement registered its first casualties. Back in November, the situation was more clear-cut, pitting two different worldviews against each other: on one hand a pro-European platform, influenced by opposition figures, and on the other the government headed by M. Azarov.

But the narrative behind the protests is not as straightforward as the media would have you believe. To find answers, we need to take a step back and look to the protests’ inception.  November 2013 was supposed to mark Ukraine’s overture to closer European ties, in the form of an Association Agreement signed with the European Union. But President Yanukovych, worried about mounting pressure from Russia in the form of export bans that threatened to bankrupt Ukraine, decided against it. The streets quickly reacted with the most powerful demonstrations seen since the Orange Revolution of 2004.

The movement was largely peaceful in the beginning, at least before Euromaidan was galvanized by Ukraine’s polarizing opposition figures, the most controversial being Oleg Tyahnybok, leader of the far-right party Svoboda. These activists scored several early symbolic victories, notably toppling and smashing with hammers Lenin’s statute in Kiev. Svoboda is Ukraine’s fourth largest party, despite having proven neo-Nazi links. It gained some 11% of seats in the 2012 Parliamentary elections.

On December 18th, the government signed a financial aid package with Russia, which included a $15 billion loan and also reduced the gas price paid by Ukraine by a third. One can assume that the protests played a big part in Moscow’s decision to go ahead with this deal. Yanukovych has repeatedly stressed that he has no wish of joining the Kremlin backed Customs Union, which would commit his country to being part of Russia’s sphere of influence.

Following the signing of the deal, the protests simmered for a while, enough for Western media to hear disquieting stories about the way the Ukrainian opposition intends to handle internal conflict. Anatoly Hrytsenko, a prominent member of the Batkivshchyna party, was forced to resign over a blog post in which he observed that the Kiev protests had been thinning out. In the same week, a fistfight erupted in the Parliament, when opposition figures assaulted MPs from Yanukovych’s Party of Regions.

The violent turn of events taken by the protests in the past week has been blamed on a sub movement called Right Sector. According to the BBC, they are a diffuse organization, lacking unified leadership, a clear agenda or a steady membership base. The backbone of this far-right movement is made up of football hooligans that want to tear down Ukraine and start building a new state. What unites them is their prevalent negative attitudes towards both Russia and the European Union. They are heavily armed and have generally undergone some form of battle training in the past, or at least enough to know how to swing an axe at riot police.

Richard Youngs correctly observed in a recent piece that most protest movements are not ostensibly cosmopolitan or profoundly democratic in essence. Protestors often cloak themselves in progressive values, but are in reality staunchly nationalistic, and have almost never managed to form a stable political movement. Moreover, as past protests have shown, successful movements haven’t led to consolidated democratic societies. For instance, few can argue that Egypt is more democratic following the Arab Spring.

In the case of Euromaidan, coming to a definitive conclusion is not as easy as it may seem. The movement has lost much of its idealistic character because of betrayed ambitions and shoddy leaders. The opposition has started showing its true colors, to the disappointment of many. At the same time, violent elements have infiltrated the protest, prompting harsher reactions from the Ukrainian police.

What can be safely said though is that having high hopes for protest movements to yield healthy democracies has often led to disappointment in recent years, across the world, from the Arab Spring to Turkey. Yes, Ukraine is not Egypt, but there is no denying that popular demonstrations of anger around the world can lead to transformations that are far from democratic.

The media would have you believe that this is a standard good versus evil situation. The narrative is quite seductive: citizens cry out in frustration, demanding closer ties to the European Union while the oppressive government sends riot police to quash any dissent and reinforce its rule over society. But this simplistic approach misses the undercurrents of this protest movement and the worrying signals coming in from the holier-than-thou opposition. Take the story with a pinch of salt and a raised eyebrow, because absolute truths are often just fairytales.

Katherine Romanova

http://english.pravda.ru/opinion/feedback/29-01-2014/126706-euromaidan-0/

 

European Union demands more austerity in Greece

By Robert Stevens 

29 January 2014

The “troika” of the European Commission, International Monetary Fund (IMF) and European Central Bank is stepping up its demands that Greece impose devastating austerity measures already agreed and to carry out even more.

The penalty for not doing so is the withdrawal of a further loan tranche of €4.9 billion. Without the loan, Greece will default on its overall €240 billion loan agreement with the troika, as it must pay back bonds worth about €10 billion in May.

The €4.9 billion was originally scheduled to be released to Greece last year, if Greece passed a regular review of its austerity agenda. The review began last September, but has been interrupted three times by the troika. Their inspection team was due to return to Athens on January 15 and then on January 23.

In a January 23 press briefing, Deputy Spokesman of the IMF Communications Department William Murray said there was now no specific mission date set, and that the troika would only return when differences over “a number of issues, fiscal, structural” are resolved.

There is still no agreement between the New Democracy/PASOK government and the troika on the size of budget cuts required to close an estimated €4.5 billion gap in the 2013-14 budget. This is despite Greece passing its 2014 budget in December, which included more than €3 billion in additional cuts.

The troika is demanding that previously-agreed cuts in the public sector be maintained, including at least 11,000 job losses this year, and that privatisations be speeded up.

The IMF is also at odds with the government’s decision to cut from 23 percent to 13 percent a Value Added Tax for restaurant and food services. It wants the government to specify austerity measures to fund a shortfall in a new property tax, estimated at €400 million by the troika and €200 million by the Greek finance ministry.

A major factor in the delay of the troika’s review is its insistence the government push through hundreds of deregulation measures aimed at removing all barriers to the operations of global capital. All told 329 recommendations were made by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development after it conducted an 11-month study. It declared that 555 regulatory restrictions were in place which should be amended or repealed.

Citing an e-mail from the troika to the Development Minister Costis Hatzidakis, Kathemerini reported, “The troika says that these reforms are of ‘central importance’ to improving the competitiveness of Greek businesses, reducing prices for local consumers and creating jobs. The country’s lenders also note that adoption of the OECD’s recommendations would send an ‘important message’ about the government’s appetite for reforms.”

According to sources the government has agreed to around 80 percent of the OECD recommendations, but this may not be enough to sway the troika.

Another major troika concern is the news earlier this month that the Greek Council of State has ruled as “unconstitutional” previous cuts in wages to members of the armed forces, police, coast guard, and firemen.

The judgement was made after a legal challenge was taken out in January 2013 by federations representing the armed forces and other uniformed groups, in opposition to the imposition of the wage cuts. The cuts included the retroactive return of “unnecessarily paid out wages”, effective from August 1, 2012. The legal challenge emphasised that the cuts went against the constitutional principle of proportionality and ran counter to the European Convention of Human Rights provisions on fair pay.

The Ministry of Finance calculated that reversing just these wage cuts alone would cost around €500 million, but admitted that this was just an initial estimate. It could be as much as €1 billion. The Council also indicated it was considering legal appeals from social security fund bodies and other civil servants in the same “special salary grid” as the armed forces, such as the judiciary and university teachers, who have also faced drastic wage cuts.

Wage cuts in the public sector constitute around a tenth of all austerity imposed since 2010. Civil servants earning more than €1,500 a month have had their wages slashed cut by between 20 and 35 percent.

Greece estimates a 2013 primary budget surplus at €830 million, before debt servicing. It is expected that as a result of the Council ruling, any surplus will be wiped out, throwing Greece’s agreed targets with the troika into turmoil.

Senior government figures warned that paying back the wages would lead to other spending cuts being necessitated by the bankrupt state. Greek Health Minister Adonis Georgiadis said, “No matter how many court decisions there are, we won’t suddenly be able to generate money.”

Christos Staikouras, deputy finance minister said, “It’s an additional headache, even though we’ve outperformed budget targets for 2013… We’ll do it if we’re obliged to, but we will have to find fiscal equivalents on a permanent basis.”

Since 2010 the troika has imposed mass austerity in Greece, pauperising the population, in order to use this small nation as a test bed to impose austerity throughout Europe. With the full collaboration of successive governments and the trade union bureaucracy, six austerity packages have been imposed. Regular threats have been made by the troika to withdraw funding to Greece, without which it would soon default on its total debt, which still remains well above €300 billion.

Leading up to and during this week’s meeting of Eurogroup leaders, further threats were made by the troika and other senior EU officials. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, the chairman of the Eurogroup of euro zone finance ministers, complained that the review of Greece’s position has, “been going on since September-October,” and had to be finalised, “as soon as possible.”

He added “far too little” progress had been made and “further work is needed in Greece before the troika can return to Athens.”

At the meeting German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble said despite measures already taken, “Greece still has a lot to do,” and “More efforts are required.”

Following the summit, Greek Finance Minister Yannis Stournaris said it was now unlikely that Greece would receive any funding from the troika before March. This acknowledgement was made under conditions whereby a director for Europe at the Eurasia Group, a consulting firm that evaluates political crisis, recently observed that Greece was “slipping on all of its fiscal and structural targets.”

Despite the fact that Greece has drawn down around €200 billion of €240 billion in loans from the troika, it is no closer to ending its crisis. Greece’s GDP has fallen by 25 percent since the onset of the global economic crisis in 2008—a steeper fall than during the Greek Civil War—with the economy mired in its sixth year of recession.

According to a number of economists, Greece will require a further bailout next year of between €7 billion to €11 billion.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/29/gree-j29.html

Democrats, Republicans reach deal to slash $8.7 billion from food stamp program

By Andre Damon 

29 January 2014

US House and Senate negotiators announced a deal Monday to slash $8.7 billion from food stamps, the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides food assistance to 48 million people in the United States.

The cuts are part of the so-called farm bill, a five-year omnibus measure that deals with programs administered by the US Department of Agriculture. A vote on the bill is scheduled in the House on Wednesday, and the lead negotiators for both parties said it is likely to sail through both houses of congress and be quickly signed by President Obama.

For the second time in two weeks, Congress will vote on a sweeping and draconian austerity bill that most of its members will not have had time to read, and of which the public will have even less understanding. Earlier this month, Congress voted on a budget deal that within days of its official release made permanent most of last year’s sequester cuts.

The bill’s $8.7 billion in food stamp cuts will slash these benefits by $90 a month for 850,000 of the nation’s poorest families over the course of 10 years. Most of these cuts will be implemented by eliminating what the deal’s supporters call, in Orwellian language, a “loophole,” through which families eligible for home heating aid received extra food assistance.

“They’re calling it a loophole, but it’s taking away real money from real families,” Joel Berg, executive director of the New York City Coalition Against Hunger, told CNN. He added, “They are gutting a program to provide food for hungry people.”

Congressional Democrats could barely contain their enthusiasm in praising a bill that will throw almost a million poor families into destitution. “This bill proves that by working across party lines we can reform programs to save taxpayer money while strengthening efforts to grow our economy,” said Michigan Democrat Debbie Stabenow, who chairs the Senate Agriculture Committee.

She added that the deal “puts us on the verge of enacting a five-year farm bill that saves taxpayers billions, eliminates unnecessary subsidies, creates a more effective farm safety net and helps farmers and businesses create jobs.”

Democrat Steny Hoyer, the house Minority Whip, said that the party would line up behind the bill, telling the Hill newspaper, “We think there will be a significant number of Democrats [voting yes].”

The agribusiness lobby likewise signaled its support for the proposal, with Ray Gaesser, president of the American Soybean Association, saying that the deal “ensures the continued success of American agriculture.” He added, “We encourage both the House and the Senate to pass it quickly.”

One in seven Americans receives food stamp assistance, up from 9 percent of the population in 2008 to nearly 15 percent in 2012. The program helps feed 48 million people, up from 26 million in 2007. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), three quarters of households who receive SNAP benefits “included a child, a person age 60 or older, or a disabled person.”

The bill comes on top of a previous cut to food stamp benefits in November, which slashed food assistance by $319 per year for a typical family of three, totaling $11 billion through 2016.

In addition to cutting food aid for recipients of home heating assistance, the deal further tightens food stamp eligibility restrictions and prohibits the US Department of Agriculture from publicizing the food stamp program to poor families who may not know of its existence.

Currently, people convicted for drug-related felonies are permanently barred from receiving food stamp benefits. The bill expands the ban to a broader range of felonies, including murder and sexual assault. Additionally, the deal would launch pilot programs in ten states that would require food stamp recipients to be actively looking for work. According to some newspaper reports, the proposal would also prevent college students from receiving food stamp aid.

In addition to food stamp cuts, the bill slashes $6 billion in spending by cutting almost in half the number of environmental conservation programs run by the Department of Agriculture. The deal also cuts about $19 billion in farm programs, including ending direct payments to farmers, in favor of expanded crop insurance programs.

Over 80 percent of SNAP benefits go to households with incomes below the federal poverty line, an abysmally low $19,530 annually for a family of three, and 40 percent of recipients live in deep poverty, defined as below $9,765 annually for a family of three.

The share of food stamp recipients who are working has risen significantly. Nearly one third of SNAP recipients were working in 2010, up from less than 20 percent two decades ago. Moreover, for the first time in history, more than half of US households receiving food stamps have been headed by working age adults, between the ages of 18 to 59, according to figures reported this week by the Associated Press.

The vast majority of food stamp recipients who do not work are disabled, elderly or underage. The number of people who receive food stamps will continue to rise through 2014, according to CBO projections.

Over 21 million children—more than one in four—live in a household that receives food stamp benefits, according to a Center on Budget and Policy Priorities report, and 9 million people with disabilities receive food stamps.

The support given to these draconian cuts to food assistance by both the White House and Congressional Democrats gives the lie to the Obama administration’s recent campaign to present itself as an opponent of social inequality. In reality, this administration is carrying out the most sweeping assault on anti-poverty programs in history, spelling destitution for millions of people.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/29/food-j29.html

The danger of war in Asia

29 January 2014

An editorial in the Financial Times last week, entitled “End drift to war in the East China Sea,” highlighted the growing alarm in ruling circles about the prospect of a conflict between Japan and China. “The possibility of war,” it declared, “is rapidly emerging as one of the biggest security risks facing the world,” and the two governments “are doing nothing to make conflict less likely.”

The FT focussed on comments by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, in which he explicitly drew the comparison between the current rivalry in East Asia and that between Britain and Germany prior to World War I. “For Japan’s prime minister to allow any comparison with 1914 in Europe is chilling and inflammatory,” it stated.

The immediate source of tensions is the territorial dispute over rocky outcrops in the East China Sea, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China. However, the chief responsibility for inflaming this dangerous flashpoint, along with others throughout the region, lies with the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia”—a strategy aimed at isolating China economically and diplomatically, and encircling it militarily.

While hypocritically claiming to be “neutral” on the territorial dispute, Washington has repeatedly declared that, in the event of a war over the islands, the US would support its ally Japan. Moreover, as part of the “pivot,” the Obama administration has been restructuring its military bases in Japan and encouraging Japan to remilitarise.

Asia in 2014 does bear a chilling resemblance to Europe in 1914. World War I arose over the intractable competition for spheres of influence between the major powers. As Lenin and Trotsky, the great Marxists of that period explained, it marked the opening of the imperialist epoch—the epoch of the death agony of capitalism.

The global financial crisis that erupted in 2008, the worsening world economic slump and rising geo-political tensions make clear that capitalism has resolved none of the fundamental contradictions that produced the horrors of a century ago.

Over the past decade, US imperialism has plunged into one war of aggression after another—Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya—as well as numerous intrigues and provocations, in a desperate bid to offset its relative economic decline through its military predominance. The installation of Obama as president and his “pivot” to Asia reflected deep concerns in the American establishment that the Bush administration’s focus on the Middle East undermined US hegemony in Asia, including over its cheap labour platforms, above all China, that had become central to corporate profit.

Under Obama, the US has encouraged allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a more assertive stance in their disputes with China; begun to “rebalance” 60 percent of US air and naval forces to the Indo-Pacific; and is establishing new basing arrangements with Australia and other Asia-Pacific countries as part of its war preparations.

In Japan, the US “pivot” has helped foster the emergence of the right-wing Abe government that, in the space of a year, has increased military spending for the first time in a decade and moved to end constitutional restrictions on the Japanese armed forces. Last month, Abe provocatively visited the notorious Yasukuni Shrine to the country’s war dead—a potent symbol of Japanese militarism in the 1930s and 1940s.

Abe is being driven by the interests of Japanese imperialism, which is not prepared to relinquish its position as a leading power in Asia. In his speech at Davos, Abe dismissed pundits who “called Japan the land of the setting sun” and declared that “a new dawn” was breaking. The two themes of his speech were equally aggressive—thinly-disguised criticisms of China, alongside cut-throat economic measures designed to undermine rivals and turn Japan into one of the “most business-friendly places in the world.”

By likening China to Germany in 1914, Abe is seeking to portray Beijing as a dangerous new menace. Unlike Germany, however, China is not an imperialist power. Despite the size of its economy, it continues to function as a cheap labour platform, completely dependent on foreign corporate investment and technology, as well as the existing centres of finance capital. In the military sphere, the US has an overwhelming preponderance, and a global network of bases and alliances that can threaten Chinese interests anywhere in the world.

Backed into a corner by the US over the past four years, the Chinese leadership has responded by offering further economic concessions to the major powers, on the one hand, while boosting military spending and asserting its claims in waters immediately adjacent to the Chinese mainland, on the other. The Beijing regime is whipping up anti-Japanese chauvinism both to justify its military build-up and to divert attention from the extreme social tensions produced by three decades of capitalist restoration.

While drawing attention to the rising danger of war, the Financial Timeseditorial offered no solution, other than an impotent appeal for “both sides to stop rattling sabres and start talking to one another.” Ignoring the fact that the US “pivot” has stoked the present confrontation, the editorial appealed for Washington to intervene as the voice of peace and reason. Both Abe and Chinese President Xi Jinping “should look for a route away from Armageddon before it is too late,” it concluded.

However, as in 1914, the drive to war is being fuelled by the inherent contradictions of capitalism—between global economy and the outmoded nation state system, and private ownership of the means of production and socialised production—that have erupted with full force in the wake of the 2008 global breakdown. The only means of averting the catastrophe being prepared for humanity is the abolition of the bankrupt profit system and the socialist reorganisation of society to meet the social needs of vast majority, not the super-profits of a tiny wealthy elite. The dangers of another world war underscore the necessity of rejecting all forms of nationalism and patriotism and building a unified international anti-war movement of workers and youth in China, Japan, the US and around the world to carry out this urgent task.

Peter Symonds

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/29/pers-j29.html

R.I.P. Pete Seeger – 1919 – 2014 Bring ’em Home

– Video –

Renowned for his protest songs, Seeger was blacklisted by the US Government in the 1950s for his leftist stance.

Denied broadcast exposure, Seeger toured US college campuses spreading his music and ethos, later calling this the “most important job of my career”.

He was quizzed by the Un-American Activities Committee in 1955 over whether he had sung for Communists, replying that he “greatly resented” the implication that his work made him any less American.

Seeger was charged with contempt of Congress, but the sentence was overturned on appeal.

Posted January 28, 2014

He returned to TV in the late 1960s but had a protest song about the Vietnam War cut from broadcast.

British singer and left-wing activist Billy Bragg who performed with Seeger on several occasions called the singer “hugely encouraging”.

“He was a very gentle man and intensely optimistic,” he told the BBC. “He believed in humanity and the power of music to make a difference, not to change to the world.

“I performed at his 90th birthday and the fire was still there.”

Pete Seeger (l) in 1975Seeger (l) performed at a rally for detente in 1975

Seeger became a standard bearer for political causes from nuclear disarmament to the Occupy Wall Street movement in 2011.

In 2009, he was at a gala concert in the US capital ahead of Barack Obama’s inauguration as president.

His predecessor Bill Clinton hailed the musician as “an inconvenient artist who dared to sing things as he saw them.”

Other songs that he co-wrote included Where Have All The Flowers Gone, while he was credited with making We Shall Overcome an anthem of resistance.

Turn! Turn! Turn! was made into a number one hit by The Byrds in 1965, and covered by a multitude of other artists including Dolly Parton and Chris de Burgh.

Joan Baez, Bruce Springsteen and Pete SeegerJoan Baez and Bruce Springsteen honoured Seeger on his 90th birthday

Seeger’s influence continued down the decades, with his induction into the US Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996, and he won a Grammy award in 1997 for best traditional folk album, Pete.

He won a further two Grammys – another for best traditional folk album in 2008 for At 89 and best children’s album in 2010.

He was a nominee at Sunday night’s ceremony in the spoken word category.

He was due to be honoured with the first Woody Guthrie Prize next month, given to an artist emulating the spirit of the musician’s work.

Mark Radcliffe, host of BBC Radio 2’s Folk show, paid tribute, saying: “Pete Seeger repeatedly put his career, his reputation and his personal security on the line so that he could play his significant musical part in campaigns for civil rights, environmental awareness and peace.

“He leaves behind a canon of songs that are both essential and true, and his contribution to folk music will be felt far into the future.”

Seeger performed with Guthrie in his early years, and went on to have an effect on the protest music of later artists including Bruce Springsteen and Joan Baez.

In 2006, Springsteen recorded an album of songs originally sung by Seeger.

On his 90th birthday, Seeger was feted by artists including Springsteen, Eddie Vedder and Dave Matthews in New York’s Madison Square Garden.

Springsteen called him “a living archive of America’s music and conscience, a testament of the power of song and culture to nudge history along”.

His other musical output included albums for children, while appeared on screen several times as well.

A reunion concert with The Weavers in 1980 was made into a documentary, while an early appearance was in To hear My Banjo Play in 1946.

The band, who had a number one hit with Good Night, Irene in the early 1950s, went their separate ways soon afterwards.

Seeger’s wife Toshi, a film-maker and activist, died aged 91 in July 2013. They leave three children.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37494.htm

Inequality For All

Video Documentary

A passionate argument on behalf of the middle class, “Inequality For All” features Robert Reich—professor, as he demonstrates how the widening income gap has a devastating impact on the American economy. Reich explains how the massive consolidation of wealth by a precious few threatens the viability of the American workforce and the foundation of democracy itself.

Posted January 28, 2014

(Note- For some reason the video begins 38 minutes into the documentary. Please move the time bar at base of the video to restart the video from the beginning)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37491.htm

Is This the Big One? The New Wave of Financial Instability

By Mike Whitney

January 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – Global stocks were hammered on Friday for a second straight day on news of a slowdown in China and turbulence in emerging markets. The Dow Jones Industrials suffered its worse drubbing in more than two years, tumbling 318 points on Friday to end a 490 point two-day rout. Emerging markets currencies were whipsawed by capital flight as foreign investors fled to the safety of U.S. Treasuries. Turkey’s lira and the Argentine peso were particularly hard hit setting record lows in the 48 hour period. The scaling back of the Fed’s $85 billion per month asset purchase program, called QE, has altered the dynamic that made emerging markets the “engines for global growth”. The policy reversal has triggered a selloff in risk assets and sent EM currencies plunging. Here’s a summary from Bloomberg:

“The worst selloff in emerging-market currencies in five years is beginning to reveal the extent of the fallout from the Federal Reserve’s tapering of monetary stimulus, compounded by political and financial instability.

Investors are losing confidence in some of the biggest developing nations, extending the currency-market rout triggered last year when the Fed first signaled it would scale back stimulus. While Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa were the engines of global growth following the financial crisis in 2008, emerging markets now pose a threat to world financial stability.” (“Contagion Spreads in Emerging Markets as Crises Grow,” Bloomberg)

Paradoxically, Bloomberg editors blame the victims of the Fed’s failed policy for the current ructions in the markets. In an article titled, “What’s Behind the Emerging-Market Meltdown” the editors say,”emerging-market governments … should recognize that this week’s financial-market turmoil was, to varying degrees, their own fault.” … “the best way for emerging-market governments to restore confidence would be to improve their policies.”

Logically, one would assume that the editors would throw their support behind capital controls or other means of stemming the destructive flow of speculative capital into domestic markets. But that’s not the case. What the editors really want, is policies that trim deficits, slash public spending, and allow foreign investors to continue to wreak havoc on vulnerable economies that follow their free market diktats. The article is a defense of the status quo, of maintaining the same ruinous policies so that profit-taking can continue apace.

The Fed was warned early on that its uber-accommodative monetary policy was spilling over into emerging markets and creating conditions for another financial crisis. Take a look at this excerpt from an article in Bloomberg back in 2010 where Nobel prize winning economist, Joseph Stiglitz, explicitly warns the Fed of the dangers of QE.

Bloomberg:

“The U.S. Federal Reserve’s plan to boost purchases of bonds poses “considerable” risks by increasing capital inflows to emerging markets, Nobel Prize- winning economist Joseph Stiglitz said in Santiago today.

“All this liquidity that they’re creating is not going back to grow the American economy and is going to Asia and other emerging markets where it’s not wanted,” Stiglitz said…..Increased capital inflows could cause emerging market currencies to appreciate and could create asset bubbles, he said.” (“Stiglitz Says Fed Stimulus Poses `Considerable’ Risks for Emerging Markets,” Bloomberg, Dec 2010)

Events have unfolded exactly as Stiglitz predicted they would, which means the Fed is 100% responsible the carnage in the stock and currencies markets.

The policy has pumped nearly “$7 trillion of foreign funds” into EMs since QE was first launched in 2009. According to the Telegraph’s Ambrose Evans-Pritchard, “much of it “hot money” going into bonds, equities and liquid instruments that can be sold quickly….Officials are concerned that this footloose capital could leave fast in a crisis, setting off a cascade effect,” Pritchard adds ominously.

Whether last week’s bloodbath was just a prelude to a bigger crash is impossible to say, but it is worth noting that the Fed has only reduced its purchases by a mere $10 billion per month while still providing $75 billion every 30 days. That suggests that markets will probably face greater turmoil in the months ahead. Check out this clip from USA Today:

“Emerging markets need the hot money but capital is exiting now,” says (Blackrock’s Russ) Koesterich. “What you have is people saying, ‘I don’t want to own emerging markets.’…

The bigger fear is if the current crisis in currency markets morphs into a full-blown economic crisis and leads to financial contagion, says Matthias Kuhlmey, managing director of HighTower’s Global Investment Solutions.

“The currency story is fascinating and can be a slippery slope – be cautious,” says Kuhlmey, adding that the Asian crisis in the summer of 1997 that started with a sharp drop in the value of Thailand’s baht, turned into a broader economic crisis that engulfed Indonesian, South Korea and a handful of other countries. It also rocked financial markets.” (“Why emerging markets worry Wall Street,” USA Today)

So, is this the Big One, the beginning of the next financial crisis?

It’s too early to say, but investors and analysts are worried. Fed tightening (via “taper”) will be felt in markets around the world. The trouble in emerging markets will intensify deflationary pressures in the Eurozone and put a damper on China’s growth. Slower global growth, in turn, will create balance sheets problems for undercapitalized and over-leveraged banks and other financial institutions which will increase the probability of another Lehman Brothers-type default.

According to Reuters, a normalizing of interest rates in the US, (which most analysts expect) “could cut financial inflows to developing countries by as much as 80 percent for several months. In such a case, nearly a quarter of developing countries could experience sudden stops in their access to global capital, throwing some economies into a balance of payments or financial crisis, the Bank said.” (“Rout in emerging markets may only be in Phase One,” Reuters)

Clearly, the potential for another financial meltdown is quite real.

For more than four years, the Fed has buoyed stock prices and increased corporate margins through massive injections of free cash into the financial markets. Now the Central Bank wants to change the policy and ease its foot off the gas pedal. That’s causing investors to rethink their positions and take more money off the table. What started as a selloff in emerging markets could snowball into a broader panic that could wipe out the gains of the last four years.

The Federal Reserve is entirely responsible for this new wave of financial instability.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at fergiewhitney@msn.com.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37493.htm

Edward Snowden-Interview in English

Video – German Television 01/26/2014

Posted January 28, 2014

US Media Blacks Out Snowden Interview Exposing Death Threats

By Bill Van Auken

January 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House – “WSWS” – The former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden appeared Sunday night in his first extended television interview. Citing published statements by unnamed US intelligence and military operatives calling for his assassination, he warned that he faces “significant threats” to his life and that US “government officials want to kill me.”

The interview, broadcast by the German television network ARD, was largely blacked out by the US media. The New York Times carried not a word of what Snowden said, while the cable and broadcast news programs treated the interview with near total silence.

The American media’s reaction stood in stark contrast to that of both broadcast and print media in Germany, where the interview conducted with Snowden in Russia was treated as a major political event.

The interview itself was preceded by a segment dedicated to Snowden on Germany’s most popular news talk show, with commentary delivered before a sizable live television audience. Those who spoke out in Snowden’s defense received enthusiastic applause, while the defenders of Washington’s spying operations, including a right-wing German journalist and a former US ambassador to Germany, were treated coolly or with outright derision.

Polls conducted in Germany have shown six out of ten surveyed expressing admiration for Snowden, with only 14 percent regarding him as a criminal. The public is evenly divided over whether he should be granted asylum in Germany. Anger over NSA spying on German telephone and Internet communications—including Chancellor Angela Merkel’s personal cell phone—is widespread.

In the interview, Snowden eloquently laid out the core questions of basic democratic rights posed by the massive NSA spying programs exposed in the documents he has made public.

“Every time you pick up the phone, dial a number, write an email, make a purchase, travel on the bus carrying a cell phone, swipe a card somewhere, you leave a trace and the government has decided that it’s a good idea to collect it all, everything, even if you’ve never been suspected of any crime,” he said.

Snowden went on to note that, while in the past intelligence agencies would identify a suspect through an investigation and then obtain a warrant for surveillance, “Nowadays what we see is they want to apply the totality of their powers in advance—prior to an investigation.”

The former NSA contractor told his interviewer that his “breaking point” in terms of deciding to make the NSA documents public came in March of last year, “seeing the Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, directly lie under oath to Congress” when he denied the existence of any programs gathering intelligence on millions of Americans. “Beyond that, it was the creeping realization that no one else was going to do this,” he added. “The public had a right to know about these programs. The public had a right to know that which the government is doing in its name, and that which the government is doing against the public.”

While Snowden stuck to his position of allowing journalists to determine what material to make public out of the estimated 1.7 million secret documents he took from the NSA, he did indicate that the agency was spying both on a wide range of German officials as well as carrying out industrial espionage against German corporations.

“If there’s information at Siemens [the German engineering and electronics conglomerate] that they think would be beneficial to the national interests, not the national security of the United States, they’ll go after that information and they’ll take it,” he said.

Snowden also answered the McCarthyite smears spread by politicians of both major parties and the media in attempting to brand him as a “traitor” or even a Russian spy.

Insisting that he acted alone and neither accepted nor required help from any foreign government, he stated: “If I am a traitor, who did I betray? I gave all of my information to the American public, to American journalists who are reporting on American issues. If they see that as treason I think people really need to consider who do they think they’re working for. The public is supposed to be their boss, not their enemy. Beyond that as far as my personal safety, I’ll never be fully safe until these systems have changed.”

Snowden insisted that what he had done was right, even though the government claims it was a crime, and that what the government is doing is a crime, even though it claims it is legal. He told his interviewer: “I think it’s clear that there are times where what is lawful is distinct from what is rightful. There are times throughout history and it doesn’t take long for either an American or a German to think about times in the history of their country where the law provided the government to do things which were not right.”

He added that, while he would welcome an opportunity to defend himself in open court, the Obama administration had no intention of allowing him to do so. Rather, it has charged him under the Espionage Act, whose terms would preclude his making any case to a jury that his actions were in the interest of the American people. “So it’s I would say illustrative that the president would choose to say someone should face the music, when he knows that the music is a show trial,” he said.

The near blackout of this interview by the US media is deliberate and highly conscious. From the outset of Snowden’s revelations last June, the media has lined up squarely behind the Obama administration, peddling the official lie that the mass domestic surveillance programs are justified by the “war on terror,” while joining in the vilification of Snowden as a traitor and possible Russian spy.

Prominent TV announcers like ABC’s George Stephanopoulos and NBC’s David Gregory have devoted airtime to arguing that not only Snowden, but even journalists reporting on the documents he has released, like Glenn Greenwald, should be jailed.

This form of “journalism” reflects the class interests of the giant corporations that control the mass media and of the capitalist system as a whole. Its coverage of the NSA revelations themselves has been abysmal, minimizing the significance of the mass domestic spying operations. It is significant that in the face of this media manipulation, Snowden enjoys powerful support within the American public, and hostility to the NSA spying has continued to grow since his revelations.

The media’s silencing of the German television interview has another, even more sinister implication. It wants to silence Snowden’s warnings about the threats against his life in order to facilitate the work of any death squad formed by the US government to make good on these threats.

Copyright © 1998-2014 World Socialist Web Site – All rights reserved

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37496.htm

“Checkpoint”

Video by Jasiri X Shot in Palestine

“Checkpoint” is based on the oppression and discrimination Jasiri X witnessed firsthand during his recent trip to Palestine and Israel “Checkpoint” is produced by Agent of Change, and directed by Haute Muslim.

Posted January 28, 2014

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37490.htm

Is Netanyahu Certifiable?

By Alan Hart

January 28, 2014 “Information Clearing House –   The expanded and most explicit form of my headline question is this. Is Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu of sound mind and knowingly talking propaganda nonsense about threats to Israel’s security in order to fool the world including most of its Jews, or, is he unbalanced, mentally disturbed, even clinically insane? I ask because his rubbishing in Davos of the most important speech any Iranian leader has made since the revolution which brought the mullahs to power 35 years ago sent me to bed recalling something my father said to me when I was a very young boy. “There are none so blind as those who don’t want to see.”

What was there in President Rouhani’s address to the World Economic Forum’s Annual Meeting for Netanyahu to see if he was of sound mind?

Rouhani’s main message to the region, and probably Saudi Arabia in particular, was that his government is fully prepared “to engage with all neighbouring countries to achieve shared practical solutions on a range of issues.”

His main message to the world, and probably President Obama in particular, was this.

“In recent years a dominant voice has been repeatedly heard. ‘The military option is on the table.’ Against the backdrop of this illegal and ineffective contention, let me say loud and clear that peace is within reach. So, in the name of the Republic of Iran, I propose, as a starting step, consideration by the United Nations of the project The World Against Violence and Extremism, WAVE. Let us all join in this WAVE. I invite all states, international organizations and civil institutions to undertake a new effort to guide the world in this direction… We should start thinking about a Coalition for Enduring Peace across the globe instead of the ineffective Coalitions for War in various parts of the world.”

Of course he was on a charm offensive and taking full advantage of being at the Davos meeting to appeal to the major investors present, but in my view that did not dilute the integrity of his vision of the new politics needed to create a better world. He was surely speaking for most citizens everywhere when he said: “People all over the world are tired of war, violence and extremism. They hope for change in the status quo.”

His message on nuclear matters was unambiguous.

“The Iranian people, in a judiciously sober choice in the recent elections, voted for the discourse of hope, foresight and prudent moderation – both at home and abroad. In foreign policy, the combination of these elements means that the Islamic Republic of Iran, as a regional power, will act responsibly with regard to regional and international security, and is willing and prepared to cooperate in these fields, bilaterally as well as multilaterally, with other responsible actors… Iran’s nuclear program – and for that matter, that of all other countries – must pursue exclusively peaceful purposes. I declare here, openly and unambiguously, that, notwithstanding the positions of others, this has been, and will always be, the objective of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction have no place in Iran’s security and defense doctrine, and contradict our fundamental religious and ethical convictions. Our national interests make it imperative that we remove any and all reasonable concerns about Iran’s peaceful nuclear program.”

What was Netanyahu’s response?

President Rouhani’s speech was, he said, “A change of words without a change of deeds… Rouhani is continuing with the Iranian show of deception.” With an engaging smile and giving the impression that he was authorised to speak for the rest of the world, Zionism’s Grand Master of Deception added, “We all know that.”

So as Netanyahu says he sees it, Iran is hell bent on developing nuclear weapons for the purpose of wiping the Zionist (not Jewish) state off the face of the earth. As I have pointed out in the past, the real madness of Netanyahu’s assertion is that even if Iran did posses a few nuclear bombs and the missiles to deliver them, it would not launch a first strike on Israel because to do so would guarantee its own complete destruction. All Iranians know that.

IF Netanyahu was of sound mind he would not only have given Rouhani’s Davos speech the consideration it deserved, he would take full account of Israel’s growing isolation in the world and, also, the fact that an increasing number of American Jews are no longer sympathetic to what one Jewish-American has called “the blood-and-soil nationalism of Zionism”. The conclusion such introspection would invite in a sound Netanyahu mind is that if he doesn’t want to go down in history as the leader who approved Israel’s suicide plan and confirmed that Zionism is (as the title of my book asserts) the real enemy of the Jews, he had better be serious about peace on terms the vast majority of Palestinians could accept.

As to Netanyahu’s actual state of mind… He is obviously deluded (my dictionary tells me that means he is “holding or acting under false beliefs”), but that doesn’t necessarily mean he is certifiable. What it does most probably mean is contained in a truth revealed to me way back in 1980 by then retired Major General Shlomo Gazit, the best and the brightest of Israel’s Directors of Military Intelligence. I put it to him that Israel’s existence had never, ever, been in danger from any combination of Arab military force. Through a sad smile he replied, “The trouble with us Israelis is that we have become the victims of our own propaganda.”

Though I am not an expert on the subject, it seems to me that what Netanyahu needs most of all is some psychiatric help.

President Obama recently said in an interview with the New Yorker that the chances of getting a real Israel-Palestine peace process going were “less than 50-50“. Perhaps he should take Secretary of State Kerry off the case a put a leading psychiatrist on it.

Alan Hart has been engaged with events in the Middle East and their global consequences and terrifying implications – the possibility of a Clash of Civilisations, Judeo-Christian v Islamic, and, along the way, another great turning against the Jews – for nearly 40 years… Morehttp://www.alanhart.net/about-alan-hart/

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37495.htm

The Next Phase of North American Integration. NAFTA to be Swallowed up by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP)?

By Dana Gabriel

Global Research, January 28, 2014

naftaIn preparation for the upcoming North American Leaders Summit which will be held in Toluca, Mexico on February 19, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry recently held a meeting with his Canadian and Mexican counterparts. Over the last number of years, not as much attention has been given to the trilateral relationship. Instead, the U.S. has essentially pursued a dual-bilateral approach with both Canada and Mexico on key issues including border and continental perimeter security, as well as regulatory and energy cooperation. On the heels of its 20th anniversary, there once again appears to be renewed interest in broadening and deepening the NAFTA partnership as part of the next phase of North American integration.

On January 17, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hosted the North American Ministerial with Canadian Foreign Minister John Baird and Mexican Foreign Secretary Jose Antonio Meade. The discussions centered around topics such as regulatory, energy and trade relations, along with border infrastructure and management. The meeting was used to lay the groundwork for next month’s North American Leaders Summit which will include the participation of U.S. President Barack Obama, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto.

During a press conference, a reporter asked about reopening NAFTA in order to update it. Secretary Kerry answered, “the TPP, is a very critical component of sort of moving to the next tier, post-NAFTA. So I don’t think you have to open up NAFTA, per se, in order to achieve what we’re trying to achieve.” Minister Baird added, “we believe that NAFTA’s been an unqualified success, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade negotiations, which all three of us are in, offer us the opportunity to strengthen the trilateral partnership.” Secretary Meade also chimed in, “We do not think it is necessary to reopen NAFTA, but we think we have to build on it to construct and revitalize the idea of a dynamic North America.”

In December 2013, the Miami Herald reported that the Obama administration, “is exploring a regional trade plan for the Americas that would be the most ambitious hemispheric initiative in years.” It went on to say that Secretary of State John Kerry, “would like to first seek an agreement to deepen the existing North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) with Mexico and Canada, and to expand it afterward to the rest of Latin America.” According to some of Kerry’s top aides, “the plan to relaunch NAFTA could come as early as February, when President Barack Obama is scheduled to meet with his Mexican and Canadian counterparts at a North American Leaders’ Summit in Mexico.” The recent article, U.S. lays out goals for NAFTA cautioned that, “the shared goal of a NAFTA 2.0 that wins fresh, sustainable gains for Canada, Mexico and the U.S., the Americans warn, is unlikely to come in a single, dramatic and easily digestible sound byte.” It further noted that, “Instead, the Americans are urging a more realistic approach aimed at reviving trilateral momentum, with a dogged diplomatic effort that aggressively fine-tunes, streamlines and expands the trade pact.”

Last year, business leaders from across North America released a set of policy recommendations designed to increase continental economic integration and competitiveness. In a letter issued to President Barack Obama, Prime Minister Stephen Harper and President Enrique Pena Nieto, the Business Roundtable, the Canadian Council of Chief Executives and the Consejo Mexicano de Hombres de Negocios called for greater trilateral government action in the areas of intelligent border systems, regulatory standards and practices, as well as North American energy security and sustainability. The business organizations explained that, “More can and should be done to promote regulatory cooperation between our three countries, to facilitate the legitimate movement of people, goods and services.” They emphasized that the time to act was now and that their specific proposals would, “help deepen our economic ties, strengthen the international competitiveness of Canadian, Mexican, and U.S. companies and their workers, and realize North American energy self-reliance.” Their goal is to create a seamless North American market.

At the third annual North American Competitiveness and Innovation Conference in October 2013, government officials, trade experts and leaders representing the private and academic sectors from all three countries gathered to discuss strategies aimed at boosting NAFTA ties. Among the attendees were U.S. Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, Canadian Minister of International Trade Edward Fast, and Mexican Secretary of Economy Ildefonso Guajardo. In a joint statement, they agreed to strengthen their trade and economic relationship. The ministers, “committed to crafting a roadmap that both promotes prosperity across the NAFTA region for the next 20 years and maintains our position as the most competitive region in the world.” They also pledged to enhance, “regulatory cooperation, and coordinated efforts to facilitate increased trade through many initiatives, including the ongoing Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) negotiations.” With NAFTA as the foundation, the U.S., Canada and Mexico are working towards taking their trilateral partnership to the next level.

In the report North American Competitiveness: The San Diego Agenda, Laura Dawson, Christopher Sands, and Duncan Wood examine the evolution of the NAFTA and provide a blueprint for deepening trilateral integration. This includes a host of recommendations dealing with harmonized regional trade policy, regulatory alignment, border and infrastructure, as well as human capital and energy. As far as a regulatory strategy goes, the paper called for the U.S.-Canada Regulatory Cooperation Council and the U.S.-Mexico High-Level Regulatory Cooperation Council to be coordinated within a trilateral framework. In the area of border security and efficiency, it also recommended that Mexico be included in the U.S.-Canada Beyond the Border initiative.

The report stated that, “North America’s future demands deeper integration of our economies and streamlined cross-border processes. Essential elements in ensuring long-term competitiveness include infrastructure spending, energy cooperation, investing in human capital formation, increasing labor mobility and labor market flexibility, regulatory cooperation and more efficient border management.”

When it comes to further advancing North American integration, the extensive policy paper reinforced the message that, “Trilateralism is about the long game. Bilateralism may move faster but cannot move as far.” It also stressed now that, “NAFTA has been institutionalized, it is sustained by working-level incrementalism, and its benefits are eroding. It is time for a new leap of faith.”

With respects to a shared North American Vision, Laura Dawson described how, “A window of opportunity for important policy change is rare and actions involving multiple governments, interests and stakeholders are difficult. I am convinced that it is time for action and that it will be a long while before there is a similar convergence of opportunity and interest.” The report that Dawson helped put together concluded that, “the biggest impediment to progress is a lack of political leadership.” That is why many who are pushing this agenda are hoping that the upcoming North American Leaders Summit will help revive the NAFTA spirit and be used as launching pad for greater trilateral collaboration.

After 20 years of NAFTA, there is a growing sense from proponents of the deal that the time is right to take new steps towards North American economic integration. Beyond all those who view NAFTA as a success, there is a dark side and a legacy of broken promises. When NAFTA was introduced, it represented the architecture for a new international system. It became the template for future trade agreements which have been used to promote even greater corporate control. The TPP negotiations which are currently underway would expand the failed NAFTA model to even more countries. Furthermore, with the U.S., Canada and Mexico all a part of the massive trade talks, it also provides an opportunity to upgrade NAFTA without having to reopen it.

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, security, as well as other issues. Contact: beyourownleader@hotmail.com. Visit his blog at Be Your Own Leader

The Barriers to Iranian–American Rapprochement: Israel and Saudi Arabia

PART II

By Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

Global Research, January 28, 2014

Israeli-Saudi-AllianceAmong US clients and allies in the Middle East there are fears that the security of their regimes had been compromised or that the US has secretly sold them off during its bilateral and multilateral negotiations with Iran. The Saudi-controlled media and its propagandists went into overdrive frantically deriding and lamenting Washington’s decision to engage Tehran in direct and public high-level diplomatic dialogue whereas Israeli leaders said that the agreement should be rescinded…

As a result both the US and Iranian government have sought to reassure some of the different players in the Middle East to calm down.

Washington has had to repeatedly assure Israeli leaders and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) regimes about the deal with Iran. US Secretary of State John Kerry has visited Israel several times. Kerry has promised that Tel Aviv will be consulted about the negotiations with Tehran and has re-emphasize that the strategic alliance between the US and Israel is «unbreakable.»

The Iranian government began to reach out to the Arab petro-sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf. Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammed Javad Zarif started visiting Arab capitals in December 2013 for this purpose. He visited Kuwait followed by Oman, then Qatar, and finally the United Arab Emirates, where the head of the UAE was invited to visit Tehran.

Zarif let it be known publicly while he was in Qatar that the goal of his government was to assure the Arab regimes of the Persian Gulf that the interim nuclear agreement between Iran and Britain, China, France, Germany, Russia, and the United States (the «Permanent/P 5+1» or «EU3+3») was in their best interests. Rouhani’s administration even began asserting that it wanted to work with Saudi Arabia and that Riyadh was an important regional player in the Middle East. Zarif was clearly trying to reassure the House of Saud and keep it calm about the steps towards rapprochement that the US and Iran had taken.

Al-Saud and Israeli Opposition to Iranian-US Rapprochement

Even though Saudi Arabia was tied to the terrorist attacks targeting the Iranian Embassy in Beirut and has launched a series of terrorist attacks against Iranian interests across the Middle East, Zarif visited Lebanon in mid-January 2014 and signaled that Tehran was willing to facilitate compromises with the House of Saud and its clients in Lebanon. Just before Zarif’s visit to Lebanon, Hezbollah softened its stance on the formation of a new government in Beirut, giving some leeway to the March 14 Alliance. Saudi Arabia’s Lebanese client Saad Hariri announced afterwards that he would return to Lebanon and even form a government that included Hezbollah ministers. Hariri’s remarks were followed by an announcement by Lebanese President Michel Sleiman that there no longer existed any obstacles to the formation of a new Lebanese government.

Together with Israel, the Saudi regime is viciously opposed to any rapprochement between Tehran and Washington. In this context, Israel’s Arutz 2 (Channel 2) reported that Israeli senior officials held secret meetings with certain senior officials from some of the Arab regimes and that one senior Arab official from the Persian Gulf had visited Israel for coordination work.

The Jerusalem Post reported on the Israeli-Saudi alliance too in an article published on September 22, 2013. Michael Oren, Tel Aviv’s ambassador to the US, told Herb Keinon that because of Syria and Iran that «there has probably never been a greater confluence of interest between» Israel and the Arab petro-sheikhdoms of the Persian Gulf. Oren also explained that Israel had mutual agreements with these Arab regimes not only on Iran and Syria, but also on Egypt and Palestine.

As a result of its fears, Saudi Arabia has tried to assimilate the other Arab petro-sheikhdoms by pushing for the amalgamation of the GCC into a full-fledged union with a united military force. The idea was put forward in 2011 and even earlier, but Saudi fears about the thawing of relations between Tehran and Washington has reinvigorated the House of Saud to pursue the objective much more rapidly.

Not wishing to lose its sovereignty or fall under the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s control and to become embroiled in a Saudi-Israeli regional conflict against Iran, the Sultanate of Oman has politely refused to get involved with Riyadh’s plans. Omani officials have said that they will not rock the boat by obstructing the Saudi amalgamation plans for the Arab states of the Persian Gulf. Instead Oman will withdraw silently from the GCC. On the other hand, the leaders of the United Arab Emirates have been ambivalent about the Saudi idea, whereas the regimes of Bahrain, Kuwait, and Qatar have accepted the plan.

Furthermore, Saudi Arabia and the GCC have made demands to have oversight on the negotiations between Iran and the P5+1 to protect their own interests. During a security gathering in Bahrain for the Manama Dialogue, they argued that they should have been consulted on the interim agreement that the P5+1 made with Tehran and even that Saudi Arabia or the entire GCC should have been included in a P5+2 formula. This argument was specifically voiced through Qatar by Doha’s Foreign Minister Khaled Al-Attiyah. The aim of the GCC demands to be included in the negotiations with Iran is very clearly aimed at imposing additional demands on Iran, which like the talks in Geneva have nothing to do with the Iranian nuclear program itself.

The foreign-backed sham Syrian National Coalition (SNC) has also involved itself in the interim nuclear agreement. It has been against the sanctions relief that Iran gets under the agreement. The SNC has declared that the deal struck with Iran in Geneva would benefit the Syrian government, because it would allow the Iranians to divert a portion of the amount of money that is scheduled to be unlocked from the over 100 billion dollar frozen Iranian funds to the Syrian government.

The Motivations for the Opposition to Iranian-US Rapprochement

In regards to hostility of some of the regional regimes towards any rapprochement between Iran and the US, it should be remembered that Tehran was once one of Washington’s most important and prized allies before the Iranian Revolution. The United States strategically valued Iran much higher than all the other states in the broader Middle East. The regional headquarters of almost all American and Western European companies in the Middle East were almost always located inside Iran. Tehran was even a candidate for consideration into entry into NATO when the alliance was being formed and considered a vital member of the Western Bloc.

It was the monarchy in Iran that would intervene on behalf of the US to protect American allies and clients in the region. Just like how the Saudi Arabian military intervened in Bahrain to keep the undemocratic Bahraini regime in power, the Iranian military intervened in the Sultanate of Oman in the 1970s to keep Oman’s absolute monarchy in place against the revolt that started with the Dhofar Rebelion and ultimately intended to create a socialist republic. The US also used Iran to engage the Kurdish peoples because of the ethnic and linguistic links between the peoples of Iran and the Kurds in Iraq, Syria, and Turkey. Iran was also the second Muslim country to formally recognize Israel and the Iranians even sent UN peacekeepers to stand between the Israelis and the Arabs.

When the US and Iran cut ties, many of the less important US allies and clients in the region benefited due to the gap or vacuum that was created by the cutting of Iran-US ties. The United Arab Emirates benefited because Dubai was allowed to grow through all the diverted shipping and trade that would have normally gone to Bandar Abbas and other Iranian ports in the Persian Gulf. The energy infrastructure in the rest of the Persian Gulf received more resources for development.

Washington was forced to divert its military support to the Arab petro-sheikhdoms and to place greater weight on its ties with Israel, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia. President Saddam Hussein’s regime also benefited, albeit temporarily, because Washington’s unwavering support for Tehran against Baghdad was gone and the US began looking to Iraq to contain Iranian regional influence.

Many of America’s allies that benefited from the dissociation of Washington and Tehran are now fearful that what they gained due to the absence of Iran can be reversed. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Israel have been startled most of all. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu angrily denounced the interim nuclear agreement as a «historic mistake» when he heard about it. On the other hand, the House of Saud began threatening to do something that it is actually incapable of doing: form its own «independent» foreign policy,

Syria and Other Considerations

All in all, the US sanctions regime against the Iranian economy was barely holding, albeit it was hurting the Iranian economy. India was in the process of finding a way to circumvent the sanctions and Turkey was continuing business with Iran. It was uncertain how much longer and further the sanctions could go. They had virtually reached a limit.

The sanctions relief comes at a time when Libyan energy supplies have become disrupted and insecurity is on the rise in Iraq. An increase in Iranian hydrocarbon exports can offset this. The opening up of Iranian trade will also help the ailing economies of the European Union and Turkey, which have been negatively affected by the trade cutoff with Iran too.

What has probably made US allies and clients the most nervous about rapprochement between Iran and the US are the secret negotiations both sides were having before the Syrian chemical weapons incident in Ghouta. The US had been secretly negotiating with Russia and Iran for a political settlement in Syria.

The threats to attack Syria due to the chemical attack in Ghouta were aimed at giving the US leverage in these negotiations with Moscow and Tehran. As soon as an American-Iranian-Russian agreement to reduce tensions was reached, the Saudis became scared because they were probably kept in the dark about what was happening in the backchannels. Even the Israeli media has insinuated that the Iranians persuaded their Syrian allies to give up their chemical weapons in exchange for a broader US bargain with Tehran and Damascus as a result of an initial secret deal between the US and Iran.

Throughout the negotiation process there has been pressure on Iran from US allies. Parallel to Wendy Sherman’s request in October 2013 that the drive to write new sanctions against the Iranians be halted, the Israeli military publicized a «special long-range flight exercise» and showed its footage as a veiled threat to the Iranians. This could have been a sign that Israel was against US negotiations or a move meant to help the US by pressuring Tehran into making a deal with Washington.

The French engaged in some underhanded moves in November 2013. Not only did Paris want to preserve its influence over the medical nuclear isotope market, but it was also bribed. French President Francois Hollande told the Israelis and the Saudis that he would oppose any easing of sanctions against the Iranian economy and as a result the French stonewalled the negotiations. France was repaid through lucrative arms contracts in the Middle East.

Even though France was responsible for disrupting the negotiations in Geneva, the US publicly blamed the Iranian side. This prompted Foreign Minister Zarif into rhetorically asking Secretary Kerry the following on Twitter: «Mr. Secretary, was it Iran that gutted over half of US draft Thursday night? [A]nd publicly commented against it Friday morning?»

If it was not apparent right away, it became apparent afterwards that the US was coordinating with the French too. Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov would explain later that the US had actually prepared a draft that included all the French demands and circulated to all the other negotiating teams «literally at the last moment, when we were about to leave Geneva.»

Even while headway was being made on the diplomatic front, the US and the EU refused to loosen the noose. The General Court of the European Union (EGC), which deals with legal proceedings involving the European Union and its different bodies, ruled on September 6, 2013 that the EU sanctions against several Iranian companies were illegal and annulled the EU asset freezes placed on these companies. The European Commission, however, decided to ignore the court’s legal rulings and continue with the sanctions against Iran and the same Iranian companies that the EGC ruled in support of in the legal case.

So many domestic and international interests are involved in the nuclear negotiations. The negotiations have little to do with Iranians nuclear energy program and more to do with the international system and order. It will surely take almost an entire year before a proper appraisal can be made what the outcomes will be and if Tehran and Washington will restore their ties fully.

The first part of this text from the Strategic Culture Foundation (SCF) can be accessed hereon Global Research.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-barriers-to-iranian-american-rapprochement-israel-and-saudi-arabia/5366513

Chinese Internet shutdown linked to right-wing groups, US shell corporations

By Kevin Reed 

28 January 2014

Last Tuesday, the Internet in China was rendered virtually inoperable for eight hours. According to news reports, nearly all of China’s Internet users—600 million people—were unable to access web sites including the popular search engine Baidu and the social media site Sina Weibo.

At approximately 3:00 p.m. Beijing time on January 21, the domain name root servers in China began rerouting all Internet traffic within the country to the web servers of two Internet companies in the US, Sophidea and Dynamic Internet Technology (DIT). Web monitoring experts also said that .com, .net and .org Internet addresses failed to load in Chinese browsers during the outage.

The US media was quick to report unsubstantiated claims that the breakdown was caused by Chinese Internet censors who made a mistake and, instead of blocking access to the Sophidea and DIT web sites, accidentally redirected all of China’s Internet traffic to their servers. Aside from the fact that the theory that Chinese authorities mistakenly sent the entire Internet to two IP addresses in the US is on its face implausible, no information has yet been produced to prove this claim.

It is far more likely—based on information available in news reports—that the top-level Chinese Internet servers were hacked by right-wing opponents of the Chinese government and other cyber criminals operating within the US corporate-intelligence community.

On Wednesday, Reuters reported the comments of Xiao Qiang, an adjunct professor of UC Berkeley School of Information and expert on China’s Internet controls. Confirming that the breakdown emanated from within the Chinese Internet infrastructure, Qiang said, “Our investigation shows very clearly that DNS exclusion happened at servers inside of China.” He added, “But how that happened or why that happened we’re not sure. It’s definitely not the Great Firewall’s normal behavior.”

The New York Times and Washington Post reported on Wednesday that the traffic from China’s domain name system servers was being rerouted to web servers owned by Sophidea and DIT. Sophidea is an Internet services firm located in Cheyenne, Wyoming and specializes in rerouting Internet traffic from one web site to another to mask domain server locations. There is very little public information available about the company or the physical location of its servers. Its director is Mark Chen.

Sophidea is connected to a firm called Wyoming Corporate Services that utilizes Wyoming’s lax business laws to host shell companies in a small office in downtown Cheyenne. According to a Reuters report in 2011, Wyoming Corporate Services is the registered home of thousands of companies from all over the world, including enterprises engaged in criminal and fraudulent activities.

The Reuters report documented that the businesses operating out of Wyoming Corporate Services included: a US Department of Defense contractor who was convicted in 2007 of wire fraud in connection with selling counterfeit parts to the US military; the former Ukrainian Prime Minister Pavlo Lazarenko, who is now serving an eight-year jail term in California on money-laundering and extortion charges; and Ira N. Rubin, who created 18 different firms in connection with an illegal online gambling operation and fled to Costa Rica to avoid arrest.

The other firm that received a massive stream of Chinese Internet traffic last Tuesday, Dynamic Internet Technologies, is also a software business that offers tools for accessing web sites censored by governments in China, Syria, Iran Vietnam and UAE. Among DIT’s clients are Voice of America, Radio Free Asia, Human Rights of China and Epoch Times (a right-wing Chinese publication affiliated to Falun Gong).

One source of the theory that the breakdown was caused by Chinese censors was an email message from Bill Xia, a Falun Gong supporter and the man who founded DIT after immigrating to the United States in the 1990s. Xia wrote that the shutdown could have been caused by a “misconfiguration” in the Chinese firewall.

“Only the Great Firewall has this capability ready,” Xia wrote. Other US technology experts and media spokespeople then backed up Xia’s claim, saying government censorship of the web was bound to “backfire.”

A similar shutdown of the Internet in China occurred in April 2012 when web browsers were unable to access both Chinese and foreign web sites. That outage, which was never fully explained, also impacted users in Hong Kong and Japan. And last August a denial-of-service attack caused large portions of the Chinese Internet to go in what was undoubtedly a hacking operation.

While speculation continues as to the specific cause of last Tuesday’s shutdown, it is not out of the question that the outage was the result of a sophisticated malware operation sponsored by the US government or one of its private contractors. As revealed by Edward Snowden in November, the NSA and its Office of Tailored Access Operations (TAO) are the number one purveyor of cyber crime and distributor of malware in the world. These operations rely upon IP address switching and domain name server tricks to lure users into unknowingly loading harmful software onto their systems.

In June, intelligence expert Matthew Aid reported that the NSA and TAO have been engaged for 15 years in a large-scale hacking operation aimed at Chinese computer and telecommunications networks.

The background and activities of DIT are of particular interest in this regard. The Wikipedia entry on DIT’s flagship product, called Freegate—software that uses proxy servers to bypass Internet firewalls—contains information regarding the close association of DIT with US government agencies and NGOs since it was founded in 2001. Freegate was developed with financing from the Broadcasting Board of Governors, the government agency responsible for US imperialist propaganda through broadcasting services such Voice of America and Radio and Television Marti.

The primary function of DIT has been the penetration of China’s Great Firewall, and there is evidence that Freegate has built-in capabilities for that purpose. In 2004, the anti-virus and security firm Symantec identified Freegate as a “Trojan horse,” i.e., malware that is non-self-replicating and, when executed, causes data loss, theft or system harm. Shortly thereafter Symantec publicly dropped the designation, stating that it had “mislabeled” the software. In 2013, Freegate was reported as a pro-Syrian government tool of cyber warfare designed to steal information from user’s computer instead of circumventing government censorship.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/28/chin-j28.html

As Ukrainian regime totters, oligarchs call for talks with right-wing opposition

By Alex Lantier 

28 January 2014

Amid spreading protests and occupations of state buildings in Ukraine, the country’s business oligarchs met and called on President Viktor Yanukovych to negotiate with leaders of the right-wing opposition backed by the European Union (EU) and the United States. The call came in the lead-up to an extraordinary session of the Ukrainian parliament and EU-Russia talks in Brussels, expected to focus on Ukraine, that are both occurring today.

With protests continuing in Kiev, centered on Independence Square, the Yanukovych regime is dissolving in the traditionally more pro-European western Ukraine. Thousands of protesters have seized nine regional administrations in western Ukraine, with three—Lviv, Lutsk, and Ternopil—declaring allegiance to a new “People’s Rada” government based in Lviv.

Protests have also spread to southern and eastern Ukraine, traditionally loyal to Yanukovych’s ruling Party of the Regions, in the Zaporizhzhiya, Dnipropetrovsk, and Kherson regions.

Most of the street battles around Independence Square, like the takeovers of regional administrations, were waged by only a few thousand protesters, mobilized by the fascistic, anti-Semitic Svoboda party and Right Sector group. The ability of such forces to destabilize Ukraine testifies to the unpopularity and the narrow social base of Yanukovych’s reactionary regime.

Broader social layers have also attended opposition protests to express anger at killings by the notorious Berkut riot police and opposition to the regime’s new, draconian anti-protest law. On Sunday, thousands attended the funeral in Kiev of Mikhail Zhizvensky, 25, a Right Sector member killed in clashes with police. Videos have also appeared showing riot police stripping protesters naked.

While the Yanukovych regime is teetering on the brink of collapse, the opposition cannot easily take power. It faces broad hostility in Russian-speaking parts of southern and eastern Ukraine. Pro-government protests were reported in recent days in Donetsk, eastern Ukraine’s industrial heartland, and in the Crimea, Kharkiv, Uzhgorod and Luhansk regions.

The Council of Ministers met yesterday to discuss the feasibility of resolving the crisis with a mass crackdown. It proposed increasing the number of riot troops six-fold, to 30,000, and buying more ammunition for Berkut and Griffon police units.

According to the BBC, however, the Council concluded that for now, “Nobody knows where the sympathies lie of each and every one of the country’s soldiers, interior troops, riot police…If authorities do choose to crack down, and they don’t have enough forces on their side, then, instead of restoring order to the country, it would very likely spell the end of Mr. Yanukovych.”

Under these conditions, a group of Ukrainian oligarchs met yesterday to call for reconciliation between the opposition and the regime. The leader—Rinat Akhmetov, a Yanukovych backer whose $12 billion fortune makes him Ukraine’s richest man—then issued a statement on the web site of his System Capital Management (SCM) group.

It read, “It is only by peaceful action that the political crisis can be resolved. Any use of force and weapons is unacceptable. With this scenario, there will be no winners in Ukraine, only victims and losers. But most importantly, the use of force will not help to find a way out.”

The regime and the opposition obeyed the oligarchs. In the evening, top Yanukovych staff met with opposition leaders: Vitali Klitschko of the Udar Party, Fatherland Party leader Arseniy Yatseniuk, and Svoboda’s Oleh Tyahnibok.

Speaking to the Guardian, Klitschko praised the oligarchs and boasted of his close ties to them. “In private conversations, all the oligarchs support the idea of the rule of law,” he said. “The leaders change, the rules change, and the lack of set rules means business groups can’t be sure they will keep their assets.” This statement points to the anti-worker agenda driving both the Western-backed opposition and the regime. Both are dedicated to defending the reactionary capitalist oligarchy that emerged from the restoration of capitalism in the USSR in 1991. The conflict between Yanukovych and the opposition is only over which geo-strategic orientation—to Moscow or, for the opposition, to the EU—will more reliably preserve the “assets” monopolized by the oligarchs.

The current political crisis and opposition protests emerged last year, when Ukraine faced the possibility of state bankruptcy over a $15 billion debt to international banks. Yanukovych first negotiated deep austerity measures as part of a deal to establish closer ties to the EU. His decision to back away from the deal and seek financial aid from Russia—fearing the social explosion that mass cuts to energy subsidies and social programs would create in the working class—triggered opposition protests.

Both the pro-EU opposition and the Yanukovych regime are united, however, in their insistence that the international banks will be repaid, and that the costs will be borne not by billionaire oligarchs, but by working people. As different factions of the ruling elite plan for violence and crackdowns—by the opposition’s fascistic goon squads or the regime’s security forces—they are united in their hostility to the working class, and fear of its opposition to their austerity agenda.

This situation is an indictment of the restoration of capitalism in the USSR in 1991 and of the reactionary impact of Stalinism on the political consciousness of the population.

Capitalist restoration has led to a social disaster in the Ukraine. From 1990 to 2000, the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP) fell from $90 billion (4 percent of the world economy) to $31 billion (1 percent of the world economy). The fruits of what economic growth has taken place since then have gone overwhelmingly to a layer of super-rich, parasitic oligarchs who looted Ukrainian state assets during capitalist restoration.

In 2008, the net worth of Ukraine’s top 50 oligarchs was $112.7 billion, or two-thirds of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP). Their personal holdings gave them controlling stakes in businesses amounting to 85 percent of the country’s economy.

Popular anger with the exorbitant wealth of the oligarchs and their dictatorship over public life is a constant feature of post-Soviet Ukraine. However, due to the Stalinist Soviet bureaucracy’s suppression of the Left Opposition led by Trotsky and of all independent political activity to the working class, there is no organized opposition from the left, based in the working class, to this gangster oligarchy. No political organization inside Ukraine fights for the impounding of the oligarchs’ ill-gotten wealth by the workers in a struggle for socialism.

In the absence of any political representation of the working class, popular opposition has been manipulated by a series of right-wing political operatives. Thus, a rallying cry of the US-backed “Orange Revolution” that toppled Yanukovych in 2004 was to “get money out of politics.”

When the “Orange” regime was discredited by its right-wing policies, and Yanukovych returned to power, he cynically pledged that he would address social inequality in Ukraine. In 2012, he said: “We need to reduce the enormous gap that exists between rich and poor. We should reach out to the poor. We must create conditions to give the opportunity of working to healthy people and provide a reliable social protection for those disabled.”

The central issue facing the working class is developing its own, independent struggle against the Yanukovych regime and also the fascistic, Western-backed opposition forces, whose program is utterly reactionary. The support of US and EU politicians for the opposition reflects their hopes that, if the opposition rules Ukraine or a rump state in western Ukraine, it will enable them to step up operations against Russia and the Middle East.

In seeking to control Ukraine, US and European imperialism are pursuing broad geo-strategic aims. The country controls two of the three major gas pipelines connecting Russian gas fields to European markets—the Transgas and Soyuz pipelines, accounting for approximately 80 percent of Russian exports to Europe. Ukraine also hosts key naval bases used by the Russian navy during its deployments last September to oppose US plans for an attack on Syria.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/28/ukra-j28.html

NSA, GCHQ mapping “political alignment” of cellphone users

New report reveals

By Eric London 

28 January 2014

New information made public by Edward Snowden reveals that the governments of the United States and United Kingdom are trawling data from cellphone “apps” to accumulate dossiers on the “political alignments” of millions of smartphone users worldwide.

According to a 2012 internal UK Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) document, the National Security Agency (NSA) and GCHQ have been accumulating and storing hundreds of millions of user “cookies” —the digital footprints left on a cellphone or computer each time a user visits a web site—in order to accumulate detailed personal information about users’ private lives.

This confirms that the main purpose of the programs is not to protect the population from “terrorism,” but to facilitate the state repression of working class opposition to widening social inequality and social counterrevolution. The programs do not primarily target “terrorists,” but workers, intellectuals, and students.

The collection of data regarding the “political alignment” of cellphone users also suggests that the governments of the US and UK are keeping lists of those whose “political alignments” are of concern to the government. Previous revelations have shown how the NSA and GCHQ “flag” certain “suspects” for additional surveillance: the most recent revelation indicates that suspects are “flagged” at least in part based on their “political alignment.”

The legal rationale behind this process points to a growing movement to criminalize political thought in the US and UK.

If, as the revelations indicate, determining a user’s “political alignment” is a primary goal of this program, then it is also likely a factor in determining whether the government has a “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that the user is a “terrorist suspect.” If this is the case, the web sites a user visits may raise the government’s level of suspicion that the user is engaged in criminal activity, and may thereby provide the government with the pseudo-legal pretext required to unlock the content of all his or her phone calls, emails, text messages, etc.

Such a rationale would amount to a flagrant violation of both the First and Fourth Amendments to the United States Constitution. Not only does the Fourth Amendment protect against “unreasonable searches and seizures,” but the First Amendment also proscribes the government from monitoring individuals based on their political beliefs. The elimination of such a fundamental democratic right would be a dangerous step towards the imposition of a police state dictatorship.

The new report also details the depth of the mobile-app spying operation.

A 2009 “brute-force” analysis test performed by the NSA and GCHQ of what the New York Times describes as a “tiny sliver of their cellphone databases” revealed that in one month, the NSA collected cellphone data of 8,615,650 cellphone users. Data from the GCHQ test revealed that in three months, the British had spied on 24,760,289 users. Expanded to a full year, this data shows that in 2009, the NSA collected data from over 103,000,000 users, while GCHQ collected data from over 99,000,000 users: and this coming from only a “tiny sliver” of a month’s data!

“They are gathered in bulk, and are currently our single largest type of events,” one leaked document reads.

The program—referred to in one NSA document as “Golden Nugget!”—also allows the governments to receive a log of users’ Google Maps application use. Such information allows the intelligence apparatus to track the exact whereabouts of surveillance victims worldwide. One chart from an internal NSA slideshow asks: “Where was my target when they did this?” and “Where is my target going?”

An NSA report from 2007 bragged that so much geo-data could be gathered that the intelligence agencies would “be able to clone Google’s database” of all searches for directions made via Google Maps.

“It effectively means that anyone using Google Maps on a smartphone is working in support of a GCHQ system,” a 2008 GCHQ report noted.

Additional presentation material leaked by Snowden shows that in 2010 the NSA explained that its “perfect scenario” was to “target uploading photo to a social media site taken with a mobile device.” The same slide asks, “What can we get?” The answer, according to the same presentation, includes the photographs of the user, buddy lists, emails, phone contacts, and “a host of other social networking data as well as location.”

The agencies also use information provided by mobile apps to paint a clear picture of the victim’s current location, sexual orientation, marital status, income, ethnicity, education level, and number of children.

GCHQ has an internal code-name system for grading their ability to snoop on a particular cellphone user. The codes are based on the television show “The Smurfs.” If the agencies can tap the phone’s microphone to listen to conversations, the codename “Nosey Smurf” is employed. If the agencies can track the precise location of the user as he or she moves, the codename “Tracker Smurf” is used. The ability to track a phone that is powered off is named “Dreamy Smurf,” and the ability to hide the spy software is coded “Paranoid Smurf.”

That the intelligence agencies have cheekily nicknamed codes in an Orwellian surveillance program after animated characters from a children’s show is a telling indication of the contempt with which the ruling class views the democratic rights of the population of the world.

Additionally, the agencies have been tracking and storing data from a series of cellphone game applications, including the popular “Angry Birds” game, which has been downloaded over 1.7 billion times.

The tracking of data from online games like “Angry Birds” further reveals that these programs are not intended to protect the population from “terrorism.” It would be indefensible for the NSA and GCHQ to explain that they suspected to glean information about looming Al Qaeda plots from a mindless cellphone game.

Yet this is precisely how the NSA has attempted to justify these programs.

“The communications of people who are not valid foreign intelligence targets are not of interest to the National Security Agency,” an agency spokeswoman said. “Any implication that NSA’s foreign intelligence collection is focused on the smartphone or social media communications of everyday Americans is not true. Moreover, NSA does not profile everyday Americans as it carries out its foreign intelligence mission.”

In an added indication of its anti-democratic character, the US government is therefore employing the technique of the “Big Lie” by denying what has just been proven true.

In reality, the revelations have further exposed President Barack Obama’s January 17 speech as a celebration of lies.

The president told the nation that the spying programs do “not involve the NSA examining the phone records of ordinary Americans.” He also said that the US “is not abusing authorities to listen to your private phone calls or read your emails,” and that “the United States is not spying on ordinary people who don’t threaten our national security.”

He added in reference to the “folks” at the NSA that “nothing I have learned [about the programs] indicated that our intelligence community has sought to violate the law or is cavalier about the civil liberties of their fellow citizens.”

But the evidence is mounting that the governments of the US and UK are compiling information regarding the “political alignments” of hundreds of millions across the globe. All those responsible for carrying out such a facially anti-democratic campaign—including President Obama, David Cameron, their aides, and the leaders of the security apparatus—must face criminal charges and immediate removal from office.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/01/28/nsar-j28.html

Why There’s No Outcry

By Robert Reich

January 26, 2014 “Information Clearing House – People ask me all the time why we don’t have a revolution in America, or at least a major wave of reform similar to that of the Progressive Era or the New Deal or the Great Society.

Middle incomes are sinking, the ranks of the poor are swelling, almost all the economic gains are going to the top, and big money is corrupting our democracy. So why isn’t there more of a ruckus?

The answer is complex, but three reasons stand out.

First, the working class is paralyzed with fear it will lose the jobs and wages it already has.

In earlier decades, the working class fomented reform. The labor movement led the charge for a minimum wage, 40-hour workweek, unemployment insurance, and Social Security.

No longer. Working people don’t dare. The share of working-age Americans holding jobs is now lower than at any time in the last three decades and 76 percent of them are living paycheck to paycheck.

No one has any job security. The last thing they want to do is make a fuss and risk losing the little they have.

Besides, their major means of organizing themselves — labor unions — have been decimated. Four decades ago more than a third of private-sector workers were unionized. Now, fewer than 7 percent belong to a union.

Second, students don’t dare rock the boat.

In prior decades students were a major force for social change. They played an active role in the Civil Rights movement, the Free Speech movement, and against the Vietnam War.

But today’s students don’t want to make a ruckus. They’re laden with debt. Since 1999, student debt has increased more than 500 percent, yet the average starting salary for graduates has dropped 10 percent, adjusted for inflation. Student debts can’t be cancelled in bankruptcy. A default brings penalties and ruins a credit rating.

To make matters worse, the job market for new graduates remains lousy. Which is why record numbers are still living at home.

Reformers and revolutionaries don’t look forward to living with mom and dad or worrying about credit ratings and job recommendations.

Third and finally, the American public has become so cynical about government that many no longer think reform is possible.

When asked if they believe government will do the right thing most of the time, fewer than 20 percent of Americans agree. Fifty years ago, when that question was first asked on standard surveys, more than 75 percent agreed.

It’s hard to get people worked up to change society or even to change a few laws when they don’t believe government can possibly work.

You’d have to believe in a giant conspiracy to think this was all the doing of the forces in America most resistant to positive social change.

It’s possible. of course, that they intentionally cut jobs and wages so much as to cow average workers, buried students under so much debt they’d never take to the streets, and made most Americans so cynical about government they wouldn’t even try to for change.

But it’s more likely they merely allowed all this to unfold, like a giant wet blanket over the outrage and indignation most Americans feel but don’t express.

Change is coming anyway. We cannot abide an ever-greater share of the nation’s income and wealth going to the top while median household incomes continue too drop, one out of five of our children living in dire poverty, and big money taking over our democracy.

At some point, working people, students, and the broad public will have had enough. They will reclaim our economy and our democracy. This has been the central lesson of American history.

Reform is less risky than revolution, but the longer we wait the more likely it will be the latter.

ROBERT B. REICH’s film “Inequality for All” is now available on DVD and blu-ray, and on Netflix in late February. Watch the trailer below:

Robert Reich – Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy, University of California at Berkeley; Author, Beyond Outrage

Follow Robert Reich on Twitter: www.twitter.com/RBReich

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37482.htm

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