Category Archives: World

The Jones Plantation

Video by Larken Rose

One cannot change reality by changing the words you use to describe reality. Look beneath the rhetoric, and glimpse the truth.

Posted April 10, 2014

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article38197.htm

 

Western Spy Agencies Build ‘Cyber Magicians’ to Manipulate Online Discourse

By RT

February 25, 2014 “Information Clearing House - “RT” -   Secret units within the ‘Five Eyes” global spying network engage in covert online operations that aim to invade, deceive, and control online communities and individuals through the spread of false information and use of ingenious social-science tactics.

Such teams of highly trained professionals have several main objectives, such as “to inject all sorts of false material onto the internet” and “to use social sciences and other techniques to manipulate online discourse and activism to generate outcomes it considers desirable,” The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald reported based on intelligence documents leaked by former NSA contractor EdwardSnowden.

The new information comes via a document from the Joint Threat Research Intelligence Group (JTRIG) of Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), entitled ‘The Art of Deception: Training for Online Covert Operations,’ which is top secret and only for dissemination within the Five Eyes intelligence partnership that includes Britain, the US, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand.

The document outlines what tactics are used to achieve JTRIG’s main objectives. Among those tactics that seek to “discredit a target” include “false flag operations” (posting material online that is falsely attributed to a target), fake victim blog posts (writing as a victim of a target to disseminate false information), and posting “negative information” wherever pertinent online.

Other discrediting tactics used against individuals include setting a “honey-trap” (using sex to lure targets into compromising situations), changing a target’s photo on a social media site, and emailing or texting “colleagues, neighbours, friends etc.”

To “discredit a company,” GCHQ may “leak confidential information to companies/the press via blog…post negative information on appropriate forums [or] stop deals/ruin business relationships.”

JTRIG’s ultimate purpose, as defined by GCHQ in the document, is to use “online techniques to make something happen in the real world or cyber world.” These online covert actions follow the “4 D’s:” deny, disrupt, degrade, deceive.

Image from firstlook.org

Image from firstlook.org

As Greenwald pointed out, the tactics employed by JTRIG are not used for spying on other nations, militaries, or intelligence services, but for “traditional law enforcement” against those merely suspected of crimes. These targets can include members of Anonymous, “hacktivists,” or really any person or entity GCHQ deems worthy of antagonizing.

“[I]t is not difficult to see how dangerous it is to have secret government agencies being able to target any individuals they want – who have never been charged with, let alone convicted of, any crimes – with these sorts of online, deception-based tactics of reputation destruction and disruption,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition, the targets do not need to have ties to terror activity or pose any national security threat. More likely, targets seem to fall closer to political activists that may have, for instance, used “denial of service” tactics, popular with Anonymous and hacktivists, which usually do only a limited amount of damage to a target.

Image from firstlook.org

Image from firstlook.org

  “These surveillance agencies have vested themselves with the power to deliberately ruin people’s reputations and disrupt their online political activity even though they’ve been charged with no crimes, and even though their actions have no conceivable connection to terrorism or even national security threats,” Greenwald wrote.

In addition to the personal attacks on targets, JTRIG also involves the use of psychological and social-science tactics to steer online activism and discourse. The document details GCHQ’s “Human Science Operations Cell,” which focuses on “online human intelligence” and “strategic influence and disruption” that are used to dissect how targets can be manipulated using “leaders,” “trust,” “obedience,” and “compliance.”

Using tested manipulation tactics, JTRIG attempts to influence discourse and ultimately sow discord through deception.

When reached for comment by The Intercept, GCHQ avoided answering pointed questions on JTRIG while insisting its methods were legal.

“It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorized, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position,” GCHQ stated.

 

85 Billionaires and the Better Half

By Michael Parenti

February 18 2014 “Information Clearing House - “Dandelion Salad!” - The world’s 85 richest individuals possess as much wealth as the 3.5 billion souls who compose the poorer half of the world’s population, or so it was announced in a report by Oxfam International. The assertion sounds implausible to me. I think the 85 richest individuals, who together are worth many hundreds of billions of dollars, must have far more wealth than the poorest half of our global population.

How could these two cohorts, the 85 richest and 3.5 billion poorest, have the same amount of wealth? The great majority of the 3.5 billion have no net wealth at all. Hundreds of millions of them have jobs that hardly pay enough to feed their families. Millions of them rely on supplements from private charity and public assistance when they can. Hundreds of millions are undernourished, suffer food insecurity, or go hungry each month, including many among the very poorest in the United States.

Most of the 3.5 billion earn an average of $2.50 a day. The poorest 40 percent of the world population accounts for just 5 percent of all global income. About 80 percent of all humanity live on less than $10 a day. And the poorest 50 percent maintain only 7.2 percent of the world’s private consumption. How exactly could they have accumulated an amount of surplus wealth comparable to the 85 filthy richest?

Hundreds of millions live in debt even in “affluent” countries like the United States. They face health care debts, credit card debts, college tuition debts, and so on. Many, probably most who own homes— and don’t live in shacks or under bridges or in old vans— are still straddled with mortgages. This means their net family wealth is negative, minus-zero. They have no propertied wealth; they live in debt.

Millions among the poorest 50 percent in the world may have cars but most of them also have car payments. They are driving in debt. In countries like Indonesia, for the millions without private vehicles, there are the overloaded, battered buses, poorly maintained vehicles that specialize in breakdowns and ravine plunges. Among the lowest rungs of the 50 percent are the many who pick through garbage dumps and send their kids off to work in grim, soul-destroying sweatshops.

The 85 richest in the world probably include the four members of the Walton family (owners of Wal-Mart, among the top ten superrich in the USA) who together are worth over $100 billion. Rich families like the DuPonts have controlling interests in giant corporations like General Motors, Coca-Cola, and United Brands. They own about forty manorial estates and private museums in Delaware alone and have set up 31 tax-exempt foundations. The superrich in America and in many other countries find ways, legal and illegal, to shelter much of their wealth in secret accounts. We don’t really know how very rich the very rich really are.

Regarding the poorest portion of the world population— whom I would call the valiant, struggling “better half”—what mass configuration of wealth could we possibly be talking about? The aggregate wealth possessed by the 85 super-richest individuals, and the aggregate wealth owned by the world’s 3.5 billion poorest, are of different dimensions and different natures. Can we really compare private jets, mansions, landed estates, super luxury vacation retreats, luxury apartments, luxury condos, and luxury cars, not to mention hundreds of billions of dollars in equities, bonds, commercial properties, art works, antiques, etc.— can we really compare all that enormous wealth against some millions of used cars, used furniture, and used television sets, many of which are ready to break down? Of what resale value if any, are such minor durable-use commodities? especially in communities of high unemployment, dismal health and housing conditions, no running water, no decent sanitation facilities, etc. We don’t really know how poor the very poor really are.

Millions of children who number in the lower 50 percent never see the inside of a school. Instead they labor in mills, mines and on farms, under conditions of peonage. Nearly a billion people are unable to read or write. The number of people living in poverty is growing at a faster rate than the world’s population. So poverty is spreading even as wealth accumulates. It is not enough to bemoan this enormous inequality, we must also explain why it is happening.

But for now, let me repeat: the world’s richest 85 individuals do not have the same amount of accumulated wealth as the world’s poorest 50 percent. They have vastly more. The multitude on the lower rungs—even taken as a totality—have next to nothing.

Michael Parenti is an award winning, internationally known author. His two most recent books are The Face of Imperialism (a critique of the U.S. global empire; 2011) and Waiting for Yesterday: Pages from a Street Kid’s Life (an ethnic memoir about his early life in Italian Harlem; 2013). For further information about his work, visit his website:www.michaelparenti.org.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37683.htm

US-Backed Islamic Terrorism: Dividing the Arab World, Weakening Russia and China

By Olga Shedrova

Global Research, January 15, 2014

bin-laden-brzezinskiPhoto: Zbignew Brzezinski and Osama Bin Laden in 1981.

Terrorism came into being as soon as humanity appeared, but the US special services turned it into a threat of global scale. The end of the 1970s can be considered as the starting point. Back then the Central Intelligence Agency launched a training program for «Islamic brigades» to entangle the Union of Soviet Socialist Republic into the war in Afghanistan. In 1998 Zbigniew Brzezinski wrote«According to the official version of history, CIA aid to the Mujahedeen began during 1980, that is to say, after the Soviet army invaded Afghanistan, 24 Dec 1979. But the reality, secretly guarded until now, is completely otherwise. Indeed, it was July 3, 1979 that President Carter signed the first directive for secret aid to the opponents of the pro-Soviet regime in Kabul. And that very day, I wrote a note to the president in which I explained to him that in my opinion this aid was going to induce a Soviet military intervention». That was the time Osama bin Laden was recruited.

According to Shamseddin Yusef, one of Chechen leaders, the former Foreign Secretary in Dudaev’s government, bin Laden visited Chechnya in 1992 holding a US passport. He said it was later when bin Laden fell out with the United States government. No surprise the family of George Bush has rubbed shoulders with the «terrorist N 1». The US supported Afghan mujahedeen to embroil all the Muslim countries into the war against the USSR. In 1982-1992 citizens of approximately 40 Muslim states fought in Afghanistan. In March 1985 US President Ronald Reagan signed National Security Decision Directive 166, which authorized stepped-up covert military aid to the mujahedeen and it made clear that the secret Afghan war had a new goal: to defeat Soviet troops in Afghanistan through covert action and encourage a Soviet withdrawal. The new covert U.S. assistance began with a dramatic increase in arms supplies – a steady rise to 65,000 tons annually by 1987,… as well as a ‘ceaseless stream’ of CIA and Pentagon specialists who traveled to the secret headquarters of Pakistan’s ISI on the main road near Rawalpindi, Pakistan. According to Abdel Monam Saidali, of the Al-Aram Center for Strategic Studies in Cairo, bin Laden and the «Afghan Arabs» had been imparted «with very sophisticated types of training that was allowed to them by the CIA». 

As «the foreign legion of the West» Al Qaeda militants were involved in the war in Yugoslavia. In 1997 the US Senate Republican Policy Committeemade no bones about it accusing the Clinton administration for «helping to turn Bosnia into an Islamic militants base».

The «Bosnian pattern» described in the 1997 Congressional RPC report was replicated in Kosovo with the complicity of NATO and the US State Department. Mujahedeen mercenaries from the Middle East and Central Asia were recruited to fight in the ranks of the KLA in 1998-99, largely supporting NATO’s war effort. Confirmed by British military sources, the task of arming and training of the KLA had been entrusted in 1998 to the US Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) and Britain’s Secret Intelligence Services MI6. Washington who provided support for the international terrorist networks diplomatic recognition. It was nobody else but Madeleine Albright who forced the pace of international diplomacy: the KLA had been spearheaded intoplaying a central role in the failed «peace negotiations» at Rambouillet in early 1999.

9/11 – no reason to refuse support for terrorists

The war on terror declared by the United States on September 11 only made international terrorist groups stronger and even made them come to power in some countries. Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria became victims of US anti-terror fight. In particular, the United States arms Sunni groups to allegedly fight Al Qaeda. American officers who take part in these «bridges building» program say many of Sunnis had been close to the Mesopotamia’s branch of Al Qaeda. (8) According to John F. Sopko, the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction, the United States has paid more than $150 million to companies in Afghanistan that are accused of helping to finance terrorist attacks on American soldiers and facilities. Independent journalist and historian Doug Wissing has published the book calledFunding the enemy: How US taxpayers bankroll the Taliban. According to him, « Security firms commonly contract with Afghan insurgents to protect U.S.-funded development projects. The notoriously wasteful 64-mile-long Khost-Gardez road project is expected to cost taxpayers $176 million. Over $43 million went to a security firm, which then hired an insurgent leader who was on the U.S. JPEL «kill or capture» list. They paid the jihadi $160,000 a month to provide security against himself». But these are separate cases. There are much more interesting ways the US employs to allow terrorists take the reins of power. In his Islam and the Arab Awakening Tariq Ramadan adduces examples of professional training received by Arab youth in special facilities at the expense of US budget. As far back as 2007 such training facilities appeared in the Caucasus and Serbia. Actually the unrest in all the countries affected was spurred by Facebook, Twitter, Hotmail, Yahoo и Gmail e-mails and posts to spark a «flash-mob» effect. The headquarters of the above mentioned companies are located in the Unites States. As a result, in all cases radicals Islamists have come to power. Today Al-Nusra Front, an Al Qaeda affiliated armed group, formally listed as a terrorist organization by US State Department, is a United States leading partner in Syria. No surprise the White House policy evoked protest among US military making Congress bombarded with e-mail protests «Obama, I will not deploy to fight for your al-Qaida rebels in Syria»…

US terror war against Russia

These are the words repeated after former FBI translator Cybil Edmonds, which precisely reflect the scale of the terror war unleashed by the United States against Russia. According to CIA agent Abu Bakr, (3) he was assigned to deal with the Chechen issue as far back as the 1960s. Right after the USSR dismemberment, the Al Qaeda emissaries, including bin Laden, and US instructors under the guise of «servants of Islam» came into Chechnya in droves. Together with their partners from Pakistan, Saudi Arabia and Turkey Americans provided training for Chechen militants. Shamil Basaev and some other Chechen warlords have gone through an intensive course of ideological inculcation and combat training in the camp located in the Afghan Province of Khost. The training facility was built in the early 1980s by the US Central Intelligence Agency and Pakistani intelligence service ISI. Later Basayev was transferred to Markaz-i-Dawar camp in Pakistan to hone his guerilla warfare skills. (2) Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused of perpetrating a terrorist act in Boston, was affiliated with the FBI and went through a CIA-sponsored seminar training course in Georgia held under the auspices of the Jamestown Foundation as part of policy aimed at destabilizing the North Caucasus.

The United States hosts hundreds of organizations which support terrorism in Russia. According to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, over 60 international extremist organizations, about 100 foreign companies and 10 banking groups participate in providing financial, material and other assistance to the terrorists «touring» the Northern Caucasus. In the U.S. alone, almost 50 organizations are raising funds for North Caucasian extremists.

Their offices are predominantly based in the United States and Europe. In the US only around fifty organizations are involved in collecting funds for North Caucasian extremists, including the Muslim American Bar Association; the Islamic American Center, the Muslim American Bar Association; the Islamic American Center, the Muslim American Council; Islamic Relief/Chechnya appeal, Islamic City Relief; the Islamic-American Zakat Foundation, the Islamic Action Center, the Chechen-Ingush Society of America, also known as Chechen relief expenses, with a division called Chechen Relief, the international Muslim organization Al-Ehsan Charitable Relief Organization, the International Relief Association, Islamic Relief Worldwide, Mercy International and the Benevolence International Foundation.

They are not just underground communities. The role of the organization American Muslim Assistance (AMA) deserves special mention. It is registered with the U.S. State Department, and its main task is «helping our Muslim brothers throughout the world». The director of AMA, Sheikh Hisham Muhammad Kabbani, who is also the chairman of the influential Islamic Supreme Council of America, chairman of the As-Sunna Foundation of America, and the founder and chairman of the Haqqani Islamic Trust for New Muslims, is known as the author of many works on Islam. AMA operates in the Northern Caucasus and conducts active propaganda to discredit the actions of the Russian authorities. AMA often acts under the cover of other Muslim organizations, in particular, the Islamic Supreme Council of America, which unites 15 million Muslims living in the U.S.

In 1999 the American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus came into being co-chaired by: by Zbigniew Brzezinski, Alexander M. Haig, former US State Secretary, James Wolsey, former Central Intelligence Agency director, Richard Perle, former Assistant Secretary of State, Kenneth Adelman, deputy U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, Bruce Jackson, former Vice President for Strategy and Planning at Lockheed Martin, the founder and President of the non-government Project on Transitional Democracies, former President of the US Committee on NATO, a non-profit organization that promoted NATO expansion and strengthening the US-European Relationship, Caspar Weinberger, former Secretary of Defense, Robert McFarlane, National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan, Elliot Abrams, a well-known American diplomat, lawyer and political scientist who served in foreign policy positions for both U.S. Presidents, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. (13) The American Committee for Peace in the Caucasus is a Freedom House initiative that bills itself as the»only private, nongovernmental organization in North America exclusively dedicated to promoting the peaceful resolution of the Russo-Chechen war.

The activities aimed at instigating terrorist activities in Russia enjoy impressive amount of funding. Estimates of the funds which belong to the institutions «inspired» by Islamic preacher Fethullah Gülen, whose headquarters are located in Pennsylvania, vary widely. Those based on American court records have ranged from $20 billion to $50 billion. Hundreds of madrasahs and mosques built by his organization in Central Asia and Russia have become a breeding ground for extremists and serve as a cover for CIA clandestine activities. Gülen owes the giddy career promotion in the United States to Graham E. Fuller, an American author and political analyst, specializing in Islamic extremism, who also served as Station Chief in Kabul for the CIA, and Morton Isaac Abramowitz, an American diplomat and former State Department official, a member of Chechen Committee. The both are prominent figures taking part in shady activities of the United States and NATO. As an expert on Orient, Graham Fuller advocates reliance on political Islam in foreign policy. In Russia his name became known after the Boston terrorist acts. Ruslan Tsarnaev, the outspoken uncle of the brothers was married to Samantha A. Fuller until 2004. Tsarnaev headed an Islamic organization which funnels funds to the Caucasian branch of Al Qaeda. Doku Umarov is suspected of having relation to the Volgograd terrorist acts committed before the 2014 New Year. He owns the Kavkaz Center website and the calls himself the «emir of Russia’s North Caucasus». The website had been funded by the US Central Intelligence Agency till 2011 when the United Nations listed Umarov as a terrorist affiliated with Al Qaeda. Citing US intelligence sources, the Washington Times wrote then that, «Two suicide bombings targeting Russian civilians just weeks from the opening of Winter Olympics have renewed fears that a Chechen terrorist known as the «Russian bin Laden« may be bent on committing or inspiring more attacks on so-called soft targets, and possibly major international sporting events. Such concerns reared their head in April amid evidence that one of the two young Chechen immigrants who executed two deadly bombings at the Boston Marathon drew inspiration from Doku Umarov, the 49-year-old leader of the regional terrorist network known as the Caucasus Emirate whose stated goal is to establish an Islamic state inside Russia. U.S. and Russian intelligence are attempting to discern how much more of an active role Umarov, whom the U.S. listed as a «specially designated global terrorist» in 2010, may have played in plotting and ordering the two suicide bombings in Volgograd that killed 29 people».

What does US need terrorists for?

At first glance there is no reason to foster international terrorism which results in great human death toll, including US citizens. But the likes of Brzezinski think differently. Asked if he regretted the United States fostered Islamic fundamentalism, he said, «Regret what? That secret operation was an excellent idea. It had the effect of drawing the Russians into the Afghan trap and you want me to regret it? The day that the Soviets officially crossed the border, I wrote to President Carter. We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War. Indeed, for almost 10 years, Moscow had to carry on a war unsupportable by the government, a conflict that brought about the demoralization and finally the breakup of the Soviet empire».That’s why a recent Gallup poll shows the United States is seen globally as the main supporter of terrorists. The «Western foreign legion» represented by terrorists allows the United States to achieve a number of objectives, including weakening the chief competitors – Russia and China.

The spread of terrorism under the banner of Islam hinders the process of Islamic world unification. Divided, warring and weakened, the Arab world directly benefits the economy of the United States. It’s not an occasion that the Arab Spring set in immediately after Muammar Gaddafi started to take practical steps to introduce gold dinar. The myth of «fight against terrorism» creates a pretext for United States intervention against any other state having accused it of supporting terrorists. At that, the critical state of US economy makes international terrorism an effective instrument of intimidating Americans and introducing police state.

Under the guise of preventing terrorist acts, the United States government and Congress have adopted a string of laws since 2001 which practically have eliminated civil liberties in the country. The current «anti-terrorist» legislature allows eavesdropping. Today private phone calls are tapped, private correspondence is intercepted, the suspicious persons, who from time to time even dare to criticize the US policy, are put behind bars without trial, new jails are built to accommodate millions, property is expropriated…

* * *

The foreign policy achievements Russia reached last year, the progressive implementation of Eurasian integration, gradual rise of Russia to the status of world power – it all has made Washington talk about the need for joint fight against terrorism. No doubt, this battle should be waged with no mercy for the enemy but not according to the instructions issued by those who have fostered the terrorism to be fought. Russia with millions of its Muslim citizens is able to pursue its own way of countering the terrorism, which exists under the guise of defending Islam, and facilitate the emergence of new geopolitical reality…

http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-backed-islamic-terrorism-dividing-the-arab-world-weakening-russia-and-china/5365020

Building a Global Movement to End All War

By David Swanson

January 14, 2014 “Information Clearing House - “WarIsACrime” – - - I’ve been involved in starting enough activist campaigns and coalitions to know when one has more potential than any other I’ve seen.  When hundreds of people and organizations are signing up on the website before you’ve announced it anywhere, and nine months before you plan to officially launch, and when a large percentage of the people signing on ask how they can donate funding, and when people from other countries volunteer to translate your declaration into other languages, and when committees form of volunteer women and men to work on a dozen different aspects of the planning — and they actually get to work in a serious way, and when none of this is due to anything in the news or any statement from anyone in government or any contrast between one political party and another, then it’s time to start thinking about what you’re going to help build as a movement.

In this case I’m talking about a movement to end, not this war or that war, but the institution of war as an acceptable enterprise for the human species. The declaration of peace that people and groups are signing reads, in its entirety:

“I understand that wars and militarism make us less safe rather than protect us, that they kill, injure and traumatize adults, children and infants, severely damage the natural environment, erode civil liberties, and drain our economies, siphoning resources from life-affirming activities. I commit to engage in and support nonviolent efforts to end all war and preparations for war and to create a sustainable and just peace.”

This can be signed at http://WorldBeyondWar.org – and we fully expect a million people to sign it in short order. There’s a great weariness in resisting militarism piecemeal, in reforming or refining war, in banning a weapon or exposing a tactic. All of that is a necessary part of the work. This will be a campaign of numerous partial victories, and we’ll be directing our efforts toward various strategic weaknesses in the military-industrial complex. But there is enthusiasm right now for stopping not just missile strikes into Syria, not just deadly sanctions and threats to Iran, but stopping also — as part of these actions — the thinking that assumes war must always be with us, the casual discussions of how “the next war” will be fought.

So, we’ve set up an online center for addressing the concerns of the anyone who thinks we might need to keep war around or who thinks war will stay around regardless of what we do. We address a number of myths, including the myths that war is inevitable, and war is necessary, and war is beneficial.  Then we provide a number of reasons for ending war, including these:

War is immoral.

War endangers us.

War threatens our environment.

War erodes our liberties.

War impoverishes us.

We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

We’ve also provided an explanation of how nonviolent tools are more effective in resisting tyranny and oppression and resolving conflicts and achieving security than violence is, in other words how we can be more secure without war and without preparations for war.

This movement to abolish war, will be a movement to create a better world in which we are better able to address real crises, such as those in the earth’s natural environment, rather than manufactured crises, such as the urgent need to drop missiles on Syria — which vanishes the moment we block that proposal.

Our plan is to announce on the International Day of Peace, September 21, 2014, a broader, wider, more mainstream and more international movement for peace and nonviolence than we’ve seen in a while, and a coalition capable of better uniting those doing good work toward that end in various corners of the globe and of our societies.

But we’ve only just begun to work out our plans, and we’d like everyone’s input. If you go tohttp://WorldBeyondWar.org and sign the declaration, it will ask you to indicate how you might like to be involved beyond that. You can check any of a number of ways or invent your own.  You can get involved in shaping our thinking and our plans and activities.  You can also enter a brief statement of your own.  Here are a few of the many entered already:

“I support this proposal and agree with this great and important initiative to abolish militarism and war.  I will continue to speak out for an end to the institution of militarism and war and for institutions built on international law and human rights and nonviolent conflict resolution.” — Mairead Maguire, Nobel Peace Laureate

“As a 29 year veteran of the US Army/Army Reserves, retiring as a Colonel and having served as a U.S. diplomat for 16 years and resigning in 2003 in opposition to the Iraq war, I firmly believe war does not resolve political issues.  We must work diligently to force the governments of our nations to use diplomacy, not weapons.” —Ann Wright

“Everybody’s worried about stopping terrorism. Well, there’s a really easy way: stop participating in it.” — Noam Chomsky

“It is so inspiring to see a new group coming together not to focus on a particular war or weapons system, but on all war–everywhere. And it’s great to have such beautifully crafted arguments about why war is not inevitable and how war contributes to so many other global ills. This coalition is worthy of Martin Luther King’s call to end violence and instead put our energies and resources into ‘life-affirming activities.’ Bravo!” —Medea Benjamin

“We must work to end all war because: 1. In war there are no winners, only losers. 2. To thrive, humans need peace, which cannot be created by war. 3. We need all our ingenuity, creativity, technology and will to find a solution to runaway climate change. We cannot afford the military-industrial complex.” — Sally Reynolds, Abingdon Peace Group

“The abolition of war is an idea whose time has come. We are at a transformative moment in history. Our Mother Earth is under siege from destructive global warming and industrialization. It is essential that we mobilize to save our planet. War is a cruel and untenable distraction, draining trillions of dollars and incalculable losses of intellectual firepower away from the essential work that needs to be done to create a livable future for humanity.” — Alice Slater, Global Council of Abolition 2000

“War is a crime against humanity. When 90% of the casualties of war are civilians including children, its time to End ALL WARS! The world badly needs the resources to meet human and environmental needs. Wars are not making us more secure, but creating more enemies. There are more effective means of achieving security than war and killing other people’s children. As former President Eisenhower said, ‘I like to believe that the people of the world will want peace so much that governments will have to get out of the way and let them have it.’ When the people of the world decide to end war, we can end it. At least 99% of the world’s people do not benefit at all from all the wars our governments are waging. The time is NOW. Please join us.” —David Hartsough

http://WorldBeyondWar.org

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37372.htm

Oligarchs, Demagogues, and Mass Revolts against Democracy

By James Petras

December 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House - In ancient Rome, especially during the late Republic, oligarchs resorted to mob violence to block, intimidate, assassinate or drive from power the dominant faction in the Senate. While neither the ruling or opposing factions represented the interests of the plebeians, wage workers, small farmers or slaves, the use of the ‘mob’ against the elected Senate, the principle of representative government and the republican form of government laid the groundwork for the rise of authoritarian “Caesars” (military rulers) and the transformation of the Roman republic into an imperial state.

Demagogues, in the pay of aspiring emperors, aroused the passions of a motley array of disaffected slum dwellers, loafers and petty thieves (ladrones) with promises, pay-offs and positions in a New Order. Professional mob organizers cultivated their ties with the oligarchs ‘above’ and with professional demonstrators ‘below’. They voiced ‘popular grievances’ and articulated demands questioning the legitimacy of the incumbent rulers, while laying the groundwork for the rule by the few. Usually, when the pay-master oligarchs came to power on a wave of demagogue-led mob violence, they quickly suppressed the demonstrations, paid off the demagogues with patronage jobs in the new regime or resorted to a discrete assassination for ‘street leaders’ unwilling to recognize the new order’. The new rulers purged the old Senators into exile, expulsion and dispossession, rigged new elections and proclaimed themselves ‘saviors of the republic’. They proceeded to drive peasants from their land, renounce social obligations and stop food subsidies for poor urban families and funds for public works.

The use of mob violence and “mass revolts” to serve the interests of oligarchical and imperial powers against democratically-elected governments has been a common strategy in recent times.

Throughout the ages, the choreographed “mass revolt” played many roles: (1) it served to destabilize an electoral regime; (2) it provided a platform for its oligarch funders to depose an incumbent regime; (3) it disguised the fact that the oligarchic opposition had lost democratic elections; (4) it provided a political minority with a ‘fig-leaf of legitimacy’ when it was otherwise incapable of acting within a constitutional framework and (5) it allowed for the illegitimate seizure of power in the name of a pseudo ‘majority’, namely the “crowds in the central plaza”.

Some leftist commentators have argued two contradictory positions: One the one hand, some simply reduce the oligarchy’s power grab to an ‘inter-elite struggle’ which has nothing to do with the ‘interests of the working class’, while others maintain the ‘masses’ in the street are protesting against an “elitist regime”. A few even argue that with popular, democratic demands, these revolts are progressive, should be supported as “terrain for class struggle”. In other words, the ‘left’ should join the uprising and contest the oligarchs for leadership within the stage-managed revolts!

What progressives are unwilling to recognize is that the oligarchs orchestrating the mass revolt are authoritarians who completely reject democratic procedures and electoral processes. Their aim is to establish a ‘junta’, which will eliminate all democratic political and social institutions and freedoms and impose harsher, more repressive and regressive policies and institutions than those they replace. Some leftists support the ‘masses in revolt’ simply because of their ‘militancy’, their numbers and street courage, without examining the underlying leaders, their interests and links to the elite beneficiaries of a ‘regime change’.

All the color-coded “mass revolts” in Eastern Europe and the ex-USSR featured popular leaders who exhorted the masses in the name of ‘independence and democracy’ but were pro-NATO, pro-(Western) imperialists and linked to neo-liberal elites. Upon the fall of communism, the new oligarchs privatized and sold off the most lucrative sectors of the economy throwing millions out of work, dismantled the welfare state and handed over their military bases to NATO for the stationing of foreign troops and the placement of missiles aimed at Russia.

The entire ‘anti-Stalinist’ left in the US and Western Europe, with a few notable exceptions, celebrated these oligarch-controlled revolts in Eastern Europe and some even participated as minor accomplices in the post-revolt neo-liberal regimes. One clear reason for the demise of “Western Marxism” arose from its inability to distinguish a genuine popular democratic revolt from a mass uprising funded and stage-managed by rival oligarchs!

One of the clearest recent example of a manipulated ‘people’s power’ revolution in the streets to replace an elected representative of one sector of the elite with an even more brutal, authoritarian ‘president’ occurred in early 2001 in the Philippines. The more popular and independent (but notoriously corrupt) President Joseph Estrada, who had challenged sectors of the Philippine elite and current US foreign policy (infuriating Washington by embracing Venezuela’s Hugo Chavez), was replaced through street demonstrations of middle-class matrons with soldiers in civvies by Gloria Makapagal-Arroyo. Mrs. Makapagal-Arroyo, who had close links to the US and the Philippine military, unleashed a horrific wave of brutality dubbed the ‘death-squad democracy’. The overthrow of Estrada was actively supported by the left, including sectors of the revolutionary left, who quickly found themselves the target of an unprecedented campaign of assassinations, disappearances, torture and imprisonment by their newly empowered ‘Madame President’.

Past and Present Mass Revolts Against Democracy: Guatemala, Iran, and Chile

The use of mobs and mass uprisings by oligarchs and empire builders has a long and notorious history. Three of the bloodiest cases, which scarred their societies for decades, took place in Guatemala in 1954, Iran in 1953, and Chile in 1973.

Democratically-elected Jacobo Árbenz was the first Guatemalan President to initiate agrarian reform and legalize trade unions, especially among landless farm workers. Árbenz’s reforms included the expropriation of unused, fallow land owned by the United Fruit Company, a giant US agro-business conglomerate. The CIA used its ties to local oligarchs and right-wing generals and colonels to instigate and finance mass-protests against a phony ‘communist-takeover’ of Guatemala under President Arbenz. The military used the manipulated mob violence and the ‘threat’ of Guatemala becoming a “Soviet satellite”, to stage a bloody coup. The coup leaders received air support from the CIA and slaughtered thousands of Arbenz supporters and turned the countryside into ‘killing fields’. For the next 50 years political parties, trade unions and peasant organizations were banned, an estimated 200,000 Guatemalans were murdered and millions were displaced.

In 1952 Mohammed Mossadegh was elected president of Iran on a moderate nationalist platform, after the overthrow of the brutal monarch. Mossadegh announced the nationalization of the petroleum industry. The CIA, with the collaboration of the local oligarchs, monarchists and demagogues organized ‘anti-communist’ street mobs to stage violent demonstrations providing the pretext for a monarchist- military coup. The CIA-control Iranian generals brought Shah Reza Pahlavi back from Switzerland and for the next 26 years Iran was a monarchist-military dictatorship, whose population was terrorized by the Savak, the murderous secret police.

The US oil companies received the richest oil concessions; the Shah joined Israel and the US in an unholy alliance against progressive nationalist dissidents and worked hand-in-hand to undermine independent Arab states. Tens of thousands of Iranians were killed, tortured and driven into exile. In 1979, a mass popular uprising led by Islamic movements, nationalist and socialist parties and trade unions drove out the Shah-Savak dictatorship. The Islamists installed a radical nationalist clerical regime, which retains power to this day despite decades of a US-CIA-funded destabilization campaign which has funded both terrorist groups and dissident liberal movements.

Chile is the best-known case of CIA-financed mob violence leading to a military coup. In 1970, the democratic socialist Dr. Salvador Allende was elected president of Chile. Despite CIA efforts to buy votes to block Congressional approval of the electoral results and its manipulation of violent demonstrations and an assassination campaign to precipitate a military coup, Allende took office.

During Allende’s tenure as president the CIA financed a variety of “direct actions” –from paying the corrupt leaders of a copper workers union to stage strikes and the truck owners associations to refuse to transport goods to the cities, to manipulating right-wing terrorist groups like the Patria y Libertad (Fatherland and Liberty) in their assassination campaigns. The CIA’s destabilization program was specifically designed to provoke economic instability through artificial shortages and rationing, in order to incite middle class discontent. This was made notorious by the street demonstrations of pot-banging housewives. The CIA sought to incite a military coup through economic chaos. Thousands of truck owners were paid not to drive their trucks leading to shortages in the cities, while right-wing terrorists blew up power stations plunging neighborhoods into darkness and shop owners who refused to join the ‘strike’ against Allende were vandalized. On September 11, 1973, to the chants of ‘Jakarta’ (in celebration of a 1964 CIA coup in Indonesia), a junta of US-backed Chilean generals grabbed power from an elected government. Tens of thousands of activists and government supporters were arrested, killed, tortured and forced into exile. The dictatorship denationalized and privatized its mining, banking and manufacturing sectors, following the free market dictates of Milton Friedman-trained economists (the so-call “Chicago Boys”). The dictatorship overturned 40 years of welfare, labor and land-reform legislation which had made Chile the most socially advanced country in Latin America. With the generals in power, Chile became the ‘neo-liberal model’ for Latin America. Mob violence and the so-called “middle class revolt”, led to the consolidation of oligarchic and imperial rule and a 17-year reign of terror under General Augusto Pinochet dictatorship. The whole society was brutalized and with the return of electoral politics, even former ‘leftist’ parties retained the dictatorship’s neo-liberal economic policies, its authoritarian constitution and the military high command. The ‘revolt of the middle class’ in Chile resulted in the greatest concentration of wealth in the hands of the oligarchs in Latin America to this day!

The Contemporary Use and Abuse of “Mass Revolts”: Egypt, Ukraine, Venezuela, Thailand, and Argentina

In recent years “mass revolt” has become the instrument of choice when oligarchs, generals and other empire builders seeking ‘regime change’. By enlisting an assortment of nationalist demagogues and imperial-funded NGO ‘leaders’, they set the conditions for the overthrow of democratically elected governments and stage-managed the installment of their own “free market” regimes with dubious “democratic” credentials.

Not all the elected regimes under siege are progressive. Many ‘democracies’, like the Ukraine, are ruled by one set of oligarchs. In Ukraine, the elite supporting President Viktor Yanukovich, decided that entering into a deep client-state relationship with the European Union was not in their interests, and sought to diversify their international trade partners while maintaining lucrative ties with Russia. Their opponents, who are currently behind the street demonstrations in Kiev, advocate a client relationship with the EU, stationing of NATO troops, and cutting ties with Russia. In Thailand, the democratically-elected Prime Minister, Yingluck Shinawatra, represents a section of the economic elite with ties and support in the rural areas, especially the North-East, as well as deep trade relations with China. The opponents are urban-based, closer to the military-monarchists and favor a straight neo-liberal agenda linked to the US against the rural patronage-populist agenda of Ms. Shinawatra.

Egypt’s democratically-elected Mohamed Morsi government pursued a moderate Islamist policy with some constraints on the military and a loosening of ties with Israel in support of the Palestinians in Gaza. In terms of the IMF, Morsi sought compromise. The Morsi regime was in flux when it was overthrown: not Islamist nor secular, not pro-worker but also not pro-military. Despite all of its different pressure groups and contradictions, the Morsi regime permitted labor strikes, demonstrations, opposition parties, freedom of the press and assembly. All of these democratic freedoms have disappeared after waves of ‘mass street revolts’, choreographed by the military, set the conditions for the generals to take power and establish their brutal dictatorship – jailing and torturing tens of thousands and outlawing all opposition parties.

Mass demonstrations and demagogue-led direct actions also actively target democratically elected progressive governments, like Venezuela and Argentina, in addition to the actions against conservative democracies cited above. Venezuela, under Presidents Hugo Chavez and Vicente Maduro advance an anti-imperialist, pro-socialist program. ‘Mob revolts’ are combined with waves of assassinations, sabotage of public utilities, artificial shortages of essential commodities, vicious media slander and opposition election campaigns funded from the outside. In 2002, Washington teamed up with its collaborator politicians, Miami and Caracas-based oligarchs and local armed gangs, to mount a “protest movement” as the pretext for a planned business-military coup. The generals and members of the elite seized power and deposed and arrested the democratically-elected President Chavez. All avenues of democratic expression and representation were closed and the constitution annulled. In response to the kidnapping of ‘their president’, over a million Venezuelans spontaneously mobilized and marched upon the Presidential palace to demand the restoration of democracy and Hugo Chavez to the presidency. Backed by the large pro-democracy and pro-constitution sectors of the Venezuelan armed forces, the mass protests led to the coup’s defeat and the return of Chavez and democracy. All democratic governments facing manipulated imperial-oligarchic financed mob revolts should study the example of Venezuela’s defeat of the US-oligarch-generals’ coup. The best defense for democracy is found in the organization, mobilization and political education of the electoral majority. It is not enough to participate in free elections; an educated and politicized majority must also know how to defend their democracy in the streets as well as at the ballot box.

The lessons of the 2002 coup-debacle were very slowly absorbed by the Venezuelan oligarchy and their US patrons who continued to destabilize the economy in an attempt to undermine democracy and seize power. Between December 2002 and February 2003, corrupt senior oil executives of the nominally ‘public’ oil company PDVSA (Petróleos de Venezuela) organized a ‘bosses’ lockout stopping production, export and local distribution of oil and refined petroleum produces. ,Corrupt trade union officials, linked to the US National Endowment for Democracy, mobilized oil workers and other employees to support the lock-out, in their attempt to paralyze the economy. The government responded by mobilizing the other half of the oil workers who, together with a significant minority of middle management, engineers and technologists, called on the entire Venezuelan working class to take the oil fields and installations from the ‘bosses’. To counter the acute shortage of gasoline, President Chavez secured supplies from neighboring countries and overseas allies. The lockout was defeated. Several thousand supporters of the executive power grab were fired and replaced by pro-democracy managers and workers.

Having failed to overthrow the democratic government via “mass revolts”, the oligarchs turned toward a plebiscite on Chavez rule and later called for a nation-wide electoral boycott, both of which were defeated. These defeats served to strengthen Venezuela’s democratic institutions and decreased the presence of opposition legislators in the Congress. The repeated failures of the elite to grab power led to a new multi-pronged strategy using: (1) US-funded NGO’s to exploit local grievances and mobilize residents around community issues; (2) clandestine thugs to sabotage utilities, especially power, assassinate peasant recipients of land reform titles, as well as prominent officials and activists; (3) mass electoral campaign marches, and (4) economic destabilization via financial speculation, illegal foreign exchange trading, price gouging and hoarding of basic consumer commodities. The purpose of these measures is to incite mass discontent, using their control of the mass media to provoke another ‘mass revolt’ to set the stage for another US-backed ‘power grab’. Violent street protests by middle class students from the elite Central University were organized by oligarch-financed demagogues. ‘Demonstrations’ included sectors of the middle class and urban poor angered by the artificial shortages and power outages. The sources of popular discontent were rapidly and effectively addressed at the top by energetic government measures: business owners engaged in hoarding and price gouging were jailed; prices of essential staples were reduced; hoarded goods were seized from warehouses and distributed to the poor; the import of essential goods were increased and saboteurs were pursued. The Government’s effective intervention resonated with the mass of the working class, the lower-middle class and the rural and urban poor and restored their support. Government supporters took to the streets and lined up at the ballot box to defeat the campaign of destabilization. The government won a resounding electoral mandate allowing it to move decisively against the oligarchs and their backers in Washington.

The Venezuelan experience shows how energetic government counter-measures can restore support and deepen progressive social changes for the majority. This is because forceful progressive government intervention against anti-democratic oligarchs, combined with the organization, political education and mobilization of the majority of voters can decisively defeat these stage-managed mass revolts.

Argentina is an example of a weakened democratic regime trying to straddle the fence between the oligarchs and the workers, between the combined force of the agro-business and mining elites and working and middle class constituencies dependent on social policies. The elected-Kirchner-Fernandez government has faced “mass revolts” in the a series of street demonstrations whipped up by conservative agricultural exporters over taxes; the Buenos Aires upper-middle class angered at ‘crime, disorder and insecurity’, a nationwide strike by police officials over ‘salaries’ who ‘looked the other way’ while gangs of ‘lumpen’ street thugs pillaged and destroyed stores. Taken altogether, these waves of mob action in Argentina appear to be part of a politically-directed destabilization campaign by the authoritarian Right who have instigated or, at least, exploited these events. Apart from calling on the military to restore order and conceding to the ‘salary’ demands of the striking police, the Fernandez government has been unable or unwilling to mobilize the democratic electorate in defense of democracy. The democratic regime remains in power but it is under siege and vulnerable to attack by domestic and imperial opponents.

Conclusion

Mass revolts are two-edged swords: they can be a positive force when they occur against military dictatorships like Pinochet or Mubarak, against authoritarian absolutist monarchies like Saudi Arabia, a colonial-racist state like Israel, and imperial occupations like against the US in Afghanistan. But they have to be directed and controlled by popular local leaders seeking to restore democratic majority rule.

History, from ancient times to the present, teaches us that not all ‘mass revolts’ achieve, or are even motivated by, democratic objectives. Many have served oligarchs seeking to overthrow democratic governments, totalitarian leaders seeking to install fascist and pro-imperial regimes, demagogues and authoritarians seeking to weaken shaky democratic regimes and militarists seeking to start wars for imperial ambitions.

Today, “mass revolts” against democracy have become standard operational procedure for Western European and US rulers who seek to circumvent democratic procedures and install pro-imperial clients. The practice of democracy is denigrated while the mob is extolled in the imperial Western media. This is why armed Islamist terrorists and mercenaries are called “rebels” in Syria and the mobs in the streets of Kiev (Ukraine) attempting to forcibly depose a democratically-elected government are labeled “pro-Western democrats”.

The ideology informing the “mass revolts” varies from “anti-communist” and “anti-authoritarian” in democratic Venezuela, to “pro-democracy” in Libya (even as tribal bands and mercenaries slaughter whole communities), Egypt and the Ukraine.

Imperial strategists have systematized, codified and made operational “mass revolts” in favor of oligarchic rule. International experts, consultants, demagogues and NGO officials have carved out lucrative careers as they travel to ‘hot spots’ and organize ‘mass revolts’ dragging the target countries into deeper ‘colonization’ via European or US-centered ‘integration’. Most local leaders and demagogues accept the double agenda: ‘protest today and submit to new masters tomorrow’. The masses in the street are fooled and then sacrificed. They believe in a ‘New Dawn’ of Western consumerism, higher paid jobs and greater personal freedom … only to be disillusioned when their new rulers fill the jails with opponents and many former protestors, raise prices, cut salaries, privatize state companies, sell off the most lucrative firms to foreigners and double the unemployment rate.

When the oligarchs ‘stage-manage’ mass revolts and takeover the regime, the big losers include the democratic electorate and most of the protestors. Leftists and progressives, in the West or in exile, who had mindlessly supported the ‘mass revolts’ will publish their scholarly essays on ‘the revolution (sic) betrayed” without admitting to their own betrayal of democratic principles.

If and when the Ukraine enters into the European Union, the exuberant street demonstrators will join the millions of jobless workers in Greece, Portugal, and Spain, as well as millions of pensioners brutalized by “austerity programs” imposed by their new rulers, the ‘Troika’ in Brussels. If these former demonstrators take to the streets once more, in disillusionment at their leaders’ “betrayal”, they can enjoy their ‘victory’ under the batons of “NATO and European Union-trained police” while the Western mass media will have moved elsewhere in support of ‘democracy’.

James Petras, a former Professor of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, owns a 50-year membership in the class struggle, is an adviser to the landless and jobless in Brazil and Argentina, and is co-author of Globalization Unmasked (Zed Books).

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37235.htm

Carl Sagan: The Earth Is Where We Make Our Stand

A sense of wonder

Video

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

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

Posted November 30, 2013

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

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

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

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

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

Halliburton pleads guilty to charges stemming from BP oil spill

By Tom Hall 

23 September 2013

Oil services company Halliburton pled guilty Thursday to federal charges of destroying evidence in the aftermath of the 2010 BP oil spill, agreeing to a paltry $200,000 fine and a three-year probation period.

This is the maximum statutory fine associated with the charge of “intentionally causing damage without authorization to a protected computer,” a misdemeanor. Meanwhile, felony proceedings on charges of tampering with evidence began against the former Halliburton manager, Anthony Badalamenti, who ordered the cover-up. If convicted, Badalamenti faces fines and up to 20 years in prison.

The 2010 oil spill, which stemmed from a fire on the Deepwater Horizon oil rig resulting in 11 deaths, lasted for months and led to around 5 million barrels of oil being released into the Gulf of Mexico over a surface area of as much as 68,000 square miles. The most serious environmental catastrophe in American history, the effects are still being felt along the Gulf Coast, compounded by a cleanup effort concerned more with protecting the profits and public image of BP than making the residents of the area whole.

Halliburton’s own involvement stems from its contract work on the Deepwater Horizon rig, where it provided cementing services. Those services included plugs called “centralizers,” which keep the drill pipe centered in the well as cement is poured. Halliburton recommended that BP use 21 centralizers; BP ended up using only 6. Halliburton later alleged that the well would have been more stable had BP used 21.

After oil began pouring into the Gulf, Badalamenti ordered computer simulations to be run comparing the performance of the rig with 21 centralizers as opposed to 6, first in May, then in June of that year. Badalementi, according to prosecutors, later ordered both simulations deleted from the computers. BP has alleged that faulty cement work by Halliburton contributed to the disaster, and that the deleted simulations would have demonstrated those errors.

When the details of the plea deal were unveiled in late July, they drew the ire of public officials. Senator John McCain, ranking Republican on the Senate Permanent Committee on Investigations, sent a letter to Attorney General Eric Holder in which he argued, “I worry that such paltry fines fail to discourage defendants from destroying evidence,” and that, “If the fines do not adequately deter companies, they may begin routinely destroying unfavorable evidence as an acceptable cost of doing business.” Garret Graves, chairman of Louisiana’s Coastal Protection and Restoration Authority, also complained about the plea deal.

Judge Jane Milazzo agreed to the misdemeanor plea in Halliburton’s case because, according to the New Orleans Times-Picayune, “Halliburton self-reported it, the company tried to recover the data, and it lacks a history of similar actions.”

As a matter of fact, Halliburton’s history, particularly over the past 20 years, is steeped in corruption. As far back as 1991, then-defense secretary Dick Cheney spent $8.5 million on a Halliburton subsidiary to explore the use of military contracting. When Cheney became CEO in 1995, he presided over an orgy of profiteering, providing through Halliburton subsidiaries everything from laundry to kitchen services for the US military. When Cheney re-entered the executive branch under the George W. Bush administration, Halliburton and its then-subsidiary, Kellogg Brown & Root, made tens of billions of dollars off of the rape of Iraq.

In 2010, the same year as the oil spill, charges against Halliburton and KBR emerged from Nigeria, which alleged that they had spent nearly $200 million in bribes in order to secure $6 billion in contracts. Halliburton eventually agreed to pay a paltry $32.5 million fine.

https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2013/09/23/hali-s23.html

WHO Refuses to Publish Report on Cancers in Iraq Caused by Depleted Uranium

By Denis Halliday

September 13, 2013 “Information Clearing House -  The World Health Organisation (WHO)  has categorically refused in defiance of its own mandate to share evidence uncovered in Iraq that US military use of Depleted Uranium and other weapons have not only killed many civilians, but continue to result in the birth of deformed babies.

This issue was first brought to light in 2004 in a WHO expert report “on the long-term health of Iraq’s civilian population resulting from depleted uranium (DU) weapons”. This earlier report was “held secret”, namely suppressed by the WHO:

The study by three leading radiation scientists cautioned that children and adults could contract cancer after breathing in dust containing DU, which is radioactive and chemically toxic. But it was blocked from publication by the World Health Organization (WHO), which employed the main author, Dr Keith Baverstock, as a senior radiation advisor. He alleges that it was deliberately suppressed, though this is denied by WHO. (See Rob Edwards, WHO ‘Suppressed’ Scientific Study Into Depleted Uranium Cancer Fears in Iraq,  The Sunday Herald, February 24, 2004)

Almost nine years later,  a joint WHO- Iraqi Ministry of Health Report on cancers and birth defect in Iraq was to be released in November 2012. “It has been delayed repeatedly and now has no release date whatsoever.”

To this date the WHO study remains “classified”.

According to Hans von Sponeck, former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations,

“The US government sought to prevent the WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers.” (quoted in Mozhgan Savabieasfahani Rise of Cancers and Birth Defects in Iraq: World Health Organization Refuses to Release Data, Global Research, July 31, 2013

This tragedy in Iraq reminds one of US Chemical Weapons used in Vietnam. And that the US has failed to acknowledge or pay compensation or provide medical assistance to thousands of deformed children born and still being born due to American military use of Agent Orange throughout the country.

The millions of gallons of this chemical dumped on rural Vietnam were eagerly manufactured and sold to the Pentagon by companies Dupont, Monsanto and others greedy for huge profits.

Given the US record of failing to acknowledge its atrocities in warfare, I fear those mothers in Najaf and other Iraqi cities and towns advised not to attempt the birth of more children will never receive solace or help.

A United Nations that is no longer corrupted by the five Permanent Members of the Security Council is what is needed.

Denis Halliday – Former UN Assistant Secretary-General, was the United Nations Humanitarian Coordinator in Iraq from 1 September 1997 until 1998. He is Irish and holds an M.A. in Economics, Geography and Public Administration from Trinity College, Dublin.

Copyright © Denis Halliday, Global Research, 2013

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article36220.htm

Humanity Is Drowning In Washington’s Criminality

Edward Snowden’s Fear of Flying is Justified

Snowden is a refugee, not a spy. But America has history when it comes to forcing down planes in defiance of international law

By Geoffrey Robertson

July 26 2013 “Information Clearing House - “The Guardian” -  As Edward Snowden sits in an airside hotel, awaiting confirmation ofRussia’s offer of asylum, it is clear that he has already revealed enough to prove that European privacy protections are a delusion: underPrism and other programmes, the US National Security Agency and Britain’s GCHQ can, without much legal hindrance, scoop up any electronic communication whenever one of 70,000 “keywords” or “search terms” are mentioned. These revelations are of obvious public interest: even President Obama has conceded that they invite a necessary debate. But the US treats Snowden as a spy and hascharged him under the Espionage Act, which has no public interest defence.

That is despite the fact that Snowden has exposed secret rulings from a secret US court, where pliant judges have turned down only 10 surveillance warrant requests between 2001 and 2012 (while granting 20,909) and have issued clandestine rulings which erode first amendment protection of freedom of speech and fourth amendment protection of privacy. Revelations about interception of European communications (many leaked through servers in the US) and the bugging of EU offices in Washington have infuriated officials in Brussels. In Germany, with its memories of the Gestapo and the Stasi, the protests are loudest, and opposition parties, gearing up for an election in September, want him to tell more.

So far Snowden has had three offers of asylum from Latin America, but to travel there means dangerous hours in the air. International law (and the Chicago Convention regulating air traffic) emphatically asserts freedom to traverse international airspace, but America tends to treat international law as binding on everyone except America (and Israel). Thus when Egypt did a deal with the Achille Lauro hijackers and sent them on a commercial flight to Tunis, US F-14 jets intercepted the plane in international airspace and forced it to land in Italy, where the hijackers were tried and jailed. President Mubarak condemned the action as “air piracy contrary to international law” and demanded an apology, to which Reagan replied: “Never.” The UK supported the action as designed to bring terrorists to trial.

In 1986 Israel forced down a Libyan commercial plane in the mistaken belief that PLO leaders were among its passengers, and the US vetoed UN security council condemnation. So there must be a real concern, particularly after Nato allies collaborated in forcing down the Bolivian president’s jet, that the US will intercept any plane believed to be carrying Snowden to asylum, either because he is tantamount to a terrorist (Vice-President Biden has described Julian Assange as a “hi-tech terrorist“) or simply because they want to put him on trial as a spy.

That, no doubt, is why Snowden cancelled his ticket to Cuba a few weeks ago, fearing the flight would end in Florida. Russia has, in effect, provided him with temporary asylum (there is no legal magic about staying airside – he is in Russia) so he might be best advised to accept the gag and enjoy Moscow’s hospitality. Until, perhaps, a new government in Germany after its September elections offers him a platform if he turns up as a refugee, whereupon he could take a tramp steamer to Hamburg.

In the meantime, states should start considering the impact of the information he has revealed so far. It was, ironically, the White House that last year called for an international convention to regularise “consumer data privacy in a networked world”. There is no international standard for permissible periods of data retention, for what data can be retained or to whom data can be released. Western democracies differ in modes of protection. Canada, Germany and Australia require warrants from independent judges; the US from judges in a secret security court whose record shows them to be rubber stamps. In Britain ministers lack the time or ability to assess the warrants they routinely sign. France is even worse – the prime minister’s office can authorise “national security” interceptions with no oversight.

Does this mean that the possibility intelligence services might find a terrorist needle in a data haystack justifies abandoning any hope of effective privacy regulation? Foreign secretary William Hague, who is in political charge of GCHQ, seems to think so: “Law-abiding citizens have nothing to fear.” But it is precisely law-abiding citizens who have had careers ended by dissemination of secret state surveillance. Ironically, it has been suggested that one victim of the NSA’s metadata search machine was none other than the CIA director General Petraeus – guilty, at least in American eyes, of adultery.

Snowden is not a “traitor”, and nor does he deserve to be prosecuted as a “spy”. These laws have no public interest defence, and until they do any European country that surrenders him to end his life in an American supermax prison would be in breach of the free speech guarantee of the European convention of human rights, which is meant to protect those who release information of importance to democratic debate.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35656.htm

Bankers Own the World

And are ultimately destroying it

By Chris Martenson

July 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House -  In every era, there are certain people and institutions that are held in the highest public regard as they embody the prevailing values of society. Not that long ago, Albert Einstein was a major public figure and was widely revered. Can you name a scientist that commands a similar presence today?

Today, some of the most celebrated individuals and institutions are ensconced within the financial industry; in banks, hedge funds, and private equity firms. Which is odd because none of these firms or individuals actually make anything, which society might point to as additive to our living standards. Instead, these financial magicians harvest value from the rest of society that has to work hard to produce real things of real value.

While the work they do is quite sophisticated and takes a lot of skill, very few of these firms direct capital to new efforts, new products, and new innovations. Instead they either trade in the secondary markets for equities, bonds, derivatives, and the like, which perform the ‘service’ of moving paper from one location to another while generating ‘profits.’ Or, in the case of banks, they create money out of thin air and lend it out – at interest of course.

Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create money, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take away from them the power to create money, and all the great fortunes like mine will disappear, and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money.

~ Josiah Stamp – Bank of England Chairman, 1920s

Because these institutions and individuals accumulate vast sums of money for their less-than-back-breaking efforts, they are well respected if not idolized by most. Many of the most successful paper-accumulators are household names. They get invited to the best parties, are lured by major networks to appear on their shows, speak at the biggest conferences, and their views and words find an easy path to the ears of millions.

But this is more than just an idle set of observations for the curious. It’s actually a critically important phenomenon to be aware of. For the current configuration of financially powerful entities has, at the tail end of a decades-long debt-based money experiment, achieved an astonishing concentration of power, money, and influence.

We raise this topic because our work centers on changing the conversation towards the things that really matter while there is still time to engineer a better outcome, and that requires illuminating the status quo and having a conversation about whether it needs to be modified. Unfortunately, those at the center of the status quo are not at all interested in having any such conversation, because all of their accumulated power depends on maintaining things as they are.

Money is power.

And history has shown that power is never ceded spontaneously or willingly.

The Network That Runs the World

A couple of years ago, I came across a study that has stuck with me ever since and I want to share it with you. It’s really important if we want to understand the likelihood of a graceful transition for our current society into a future of prosperity.

Unlike prior studies seeking to quantify the degree of concentration of wealth and influence, this study simply pored through all of the available public data to build an empirical map of the network of power. Its findings are quite startling and deserve a bit of pondering:

Revealed – the capitalist network that runs the world

Oct 2011

AS PROTESTS against financial power sweep the world this week, science may have confirmed the protesters’ worst fears. An analysis of the relationships between 43,000 transnational corporations (TNCs) has identified a relatively small group of companies, mainly banks, withdisproportionate power over the global economy.

(…)

Previous studies have found that a few TNCs own large chunks of the world’s economy, but they included only a limited number of companies and omitted indirect ownerships, so could not say how this affected the global economy – whether it made it more or less stable, for instance.

The Zurich team can. From Orbis 2007, a database listing 37 million companies and investors worldwide, they pulled out all 43,060 TNCs and theshare ownerships linking them. Then they constructed a model of which companies controlled others through shareholding networks, coupled with each company’s operating revenues, to map the structure of economic power.

The work, to be published in PLoS One, revealed a core of 1318 companies with interlocking ownerships (see image). Each of the 1318 had ties to two or more other companies, and on average they were connected to 20.

What’s more, although they represented 20 per cent of global operating revenues, the 1318 appeared to collectively own through their shares the majority of the world’s large blue chip and manufacturing firms – the “real” economy - representing a further 60 per cent of global revenues.

When the team further untangled the web of ownership, it found much of it tracked back to a “super-entity” of 147 even more tightly knit companies - all of their ownership was held by other members of the super-entity - that controlled 40 per cent of the total wealth in the network.”In effect, less than 1 per cent of the companies were able to control 40 per cent of the entire network,” says Glattfelder. Most were financial institutions. The top 20 included Barclays Bank, JPMorgan Chase & Co, and The Goldman Sachs Group.

Just 147 companies control over 40% of the wealth of the entire network of companies. It should be pointed out that such a network does not have any borders and operates on a global basis, meaning that regional analyses – such as how Germany compares with the U.S. – might be less relevant than typically portrayed.

After all, if decisions being made by a tightly knit group of companies are being made to benefit a network that has no borders, then actions by the German or U.S. governments are only a part of the story. And perhaps a minor one, compared to those made the entities that actually control the real wealth of each nation.

It wasn’t that many decades ago that a list of the top companies with the most wealth and influence would have been dominated by companies that produced real, tangible products – that is, those that created wealth by adding value to goods by transforming resources into products. Companies like GE, GM, IBM, Exxon, and other industrial giants would have been the wealthiest, because, well, they create actual wealth.

Today the top fifty companies in the ‘super-entity’ list of 147 from the above study is concerning. Out of the fifty, 17 are banks, 31 are an assortment of investment, insurance, and financial services companies, and only 2 are non-financial companies (Walmart and China Petrochemical)

The top 50 of the 147 superconnected companies

1. Barclays plc
2. Capital Group Companies Inc (Investment Management)
3. FMR Corporation (Financial Services)
4. AXA (Investments & Life Insurance)
5. State Street Corporation (Investment Management)
6. JP Morgan Chase & Co (Bank)
7. Legal & General Group plc (Investments & Life Insurance)
8. Vanguard Group Inc (Investment Management)
9. UBS AG (Bank)
10. Merrill Lynch & Co Inc (Bank)
11. Wellington Management Co LLP (Investment Management)
12. Deutsche Bank AG (Bank)
13. Franklin Resources Inc (Investment Management)
14. Credit Suisse Group (Bank)
15. Walton Enterprises LLC
16. Bank of New York Mellon Corp (Bank)
17. Natixis (Investment Management)
18. Goldman Sachs Group Inc (Bank)
19. T Rowe Price Group Inc (Investment Management)
20. Legg Mason Inc (Investment Management)
21. Morgan Stanley (Bank)
22. Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group Inc (Bank)
23. Northern Trust Corporation (Investment Management)
24. Société Générale (Bank)
25. Bank of America Corporation (Bank)
26. Lloyds TSB Group plc (Bank)
27. Invesco plc (Investment mgmt) 28. Allianz SE 29. TIAA (Investments & Insurance)
30. Old Mutual Public Limited Company (Investments & Insurance)
31. Aviva plc (Insurance)
32. Schroders plc (Investment Management)
33. Dodge & Cox (Investment Management)
34. Lehman Brothers Holdings Inc* (Bank)
35. Sun Life Financial Inc (Investments & Insurance)
36. Standard Life plc (Investments & Insurance)
37. CNCE
38. Nomura Holdings Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
39. The Depository Trust Company (Securities Depository)
40. Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance
41. ING Groep NV (Bank, Investments & Insurance)
42. Brandes Investment Partners LP (Financial Services)
43. Unicredito Italiano SPA (Bank)
44. Deposit Insurance Corporation of Japan (Owns a lot of banks’ shares in Japan)
45. Vereniging Aegon (Investments & Insurance)
46. BNP Paribas (Bank)
47. Affiliated Managers Group Inc (Owns stakes in 27 money management firms)
48. Resona Holdings Inc (Banking Group in Japan)
49. Capital Group International Inc (Investments and Financial Services)
50. China Petrochemical Group Company

(Source)

How is it that companies that produce nothing and only move digital representations of money from point to point now control far more wealth than the companies that actually produce the things that makes money useful at all?

Well, that’s just how the system works. And this is something that nobody in power wants to talk about.

While we may decide that such as system is just, or unjust, or evil, or good, such judgments are merely the emotionally laden descriptors we might assign to a system that – by its very design – accumulates wealth from the many to the few.

This is why compound money systems have been tried and tried again, yet have never proved sustainable. Even ancient religious texts described them as requiring a Jubilee every 7 periods of 7, or 49 years. The Jubilee, of course, was a reset mechanism that wiped out the inevitable concentration of wealth so that things could start all over again with a fresh slate.

An imbalance between rich and poor is the oldest and most fatal ailment of all republics.

~ Plutarch

So it really should not be any surprise that banks, in particular – with their extraordinary power to lend money out of thin air (that’s what ‘fractional reserve’ allows) and their unlimited-duration corporate lives – are able over time to accumulate, accumulate some more, and finally end up owning everything.

While we’re not quite there yet, we are well on the way.

A few are beginning to notice the seeming unfairness of it all, such as the author of this recent article in The New Yorker:

The Problem with Record Bank Profits

July 16, 2013

What do these large dollar numbers have in common: $6.5 billion, $5.5 billion, $4.2 billion, and $1.9 billion? They represent the latest quarterly net profits made by too-big-to-fail banks—in order, JPMorgan Chase, Wells Fargo, Citigroup, and Goldman Sachs, the last of which reported its second-quarter figures before the market opened on Tuesday.

Five years after being bailed out by the federal government, the U.S. banking system hasn’t merely recovered from the financial crisis that brought it to the brink of collapse. It is generating record profits—the sorts of figures usually associated with oil giants like ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell. During the past twelve months, for example, JPMorgan, the country’s biggest bank, has earned $24.4 billion in net income.

Let’s begin with trading. In the aftermath of 2008, there was much talk of banks getting back to basics, which meant concentrating on lending to businesses and households, and jettisoning many of their investment bankers, whose generously remunerated antics had helped to bring on the financial crisis. (…) In the latest quarter, Citigroup’s investment-banking arm generated more than sixty per cent of the bank’s net profits, and JPMorgan’s investment bank generated more than forty per cent of the firm’s net profits.

What exactly did JPM do to ‘earn’ more than $24 billion over the past 12 months? Did they build millions of appliances? Install thousands of critical power systems? Build and install high-definition CT scanners?

In fact they did none of these things, which are just three out of hundreds of accomplishments of GE, which reported a 12-month net profit of just $17 billion  while employing over 300,000 workers.

What JPM did was: trade on the markets, lend to speculators, and use its inside advantage to skim what it could off of the Fed’s monthly $85 billion of free money. Not that there’s anything illegal with that, but perhaps we should really be asking ourselves if this truly serves our society to anoint financial players with the privilege of walking off with the vast majority of our total national and global income.

This article was originally published at Peak Prosperity

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35650.htm

Poverty as a Weapon of Mass Destruction and the Economic Policies That Loaded the Chamber

By Dylan Charles

July 12, 2013 “Information Clearing House -  80% of the entire world population lives on less than $10 a day. Even if you live in a country where a gallon of gasoline doesn’t cost around $3.50, and a McDonald’s ‘Happy’ Meal – one of the worst and most nutritionally deficient, but arguably, cheapest meals around – costs about $5, that leaves you $2 and some change to eat another meal, pay rent and medical expenses, or perhaps buy your seven year old a birthday present. That small amount of money might leave your pockets feeling a little empty – in truth it’s the recipe for poverty, and it hasn’t happened by accident. To the majority of people in the world, it was planned and executed with steely perfection by the 2% at the top of the corporate food chain.

Some top-down economists will blame the poor in the US, as if they are a class of their own, for being lazy, or that the single moms are to blame for having so many children out of wedlock that they have to apply for help from the state, draining tax payer funds. Still others will say that world populations are just used to being ‘working-class’ and aren’t intelligent enough to garner jobs which pay higher wages. You would think that with the invention of the Internet, someone in Bangladesh or Laos would be able to make what a middle manager in the US earns, as long as they had similar skills. This simply is not the case.

“Behind the increasing interconnectedness promised by globalization are global decisions, policies and practices. These are typically influenced, driven, or formulated by the rich and powerful. These can be leaders of rich countries or other global actors, such as multinational corporations, institutions, and influential people.

In the face of such enormous external influence, the governments of poor nations and their people are often powerless. As a result, in the global context, a few get wealthy while the majority struggle.” (GlobalIssues.org)

This doesn’t even take into consideration the cost of wars, which are waged over illusory issues to control natural resources, and the poverty that ensues in countries that are damaged by war’s effects.

Global poverty is highlighted in our own country and explained well in the Senate-issued Levin–Coburn Report. It states that:

“The ’07/’08 [financial] crisis [which we are still recovering from] was not a natural disaster, but the result of high risk, complex financial products; undisclosed conflicts of interest; and the failure of regulators, the credit rating agencies, and the market itself to rein in the excesses of Wall Street.”

In 2007, more than 91% of AAA-rated mortgage securities were down-graded to junk status. This means an investment that was once thought to be right as rain was now as sound as a drunken night in Vegas at the roulette tables. This security went from AAA to –Z overnight. The sad truth is that the market makers knew they were ‘junk’ investments all along. Levin says, “Looking back, if any single event can be identified as the immediate trigger of the 2007 financial crisis, it would be the mass downgrades. . . those downgrades hit the market like a hammer, making it clear that [they] had been a colossal mistake.” Credit raters and banks knew all along those investments would tank. An interesting study from Stanford University on a Sovereign (National) Fiscal Responsibility Index collaborates Levin’s assertions, saying banks and brokers are “deliberately misrepresented by the players.”

The Stanford study compared 34 nations that belong to the Organization of Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and the so-called ‘BRIC’ nations – the emerging financial powers of Brazil, Russia, India and China. Fiscal responsibility was measured in the study by various factors including revenue rules (tax law), international and national debt, and so forth. All 34 nations, as well as the BRIC nations, were shown to participate in the methodical stripping away of a middle class and the wide-spread creation of poverty.

What is even more disheartening is that the more a person struggles with poverty, the more they are often marginalized from society and given little voice or representation in larger political debates and the law-making that affect their state of wealth. This can make the ‘American dream’ the impossible hog-wash for many and, as far as international poverty standards are concerned, extraordinarily difficult to rise above the mayhem on less than $2 a day.

In the US, the more poor there are, the easier it is for lawmakers to pass bills that promote corporate greed and million dollar bonuses, while ignoring gross negligence when it comes to fiscal responsibility. The same is true in other nations. If a CEO gets paid an average of $7000 an hour, or 350 times his or her workers, it could be said that those running our corporations are more like slave owners than fair, contributing members of society. For example, the CEO of Google, Eric Schmidt has a total annual compensation of just under $101 million, which breaks down to about $48,548 per hour, or about $809 per minute.

It isn’t laziness that has caused worldwide poverty, it is the disenfranchisement of millions through the perpetuation of corporate greed. Even the mega-corporation of Ben & Jerry’s, makers of the popular ice cream, once had a 5 to 1 board member ruling that the CEO would be limited to a 5 to 1 ratio of earnings over his lowest paid worker, but the company ditched this practice when they couldn’t find anyone to replace Ben Cohen, the CEO that worked for just $81,000 a year. At $2 a day, that’s still $80,270 more than billions of people earn every year, and only the poor die young.

“People who are lower on the socioeconomic ladder (indicated by their level of education, occupation, or income) have shorter and less healthy lives, on average, than those on higher rungs. Indeed, life expectancy at birth often varies by 5-10 years, depending on social and economic well-being, with poorer people spending 10-20 more years of life suffering from illness or disability than their wealthier counterparts.” (Project Syndicate)

Poverty is in fact, quite a weapon of mass destruction.

About the Author

Christina Sarich is a musician, yogi, humanitarian and freelance writer who channels many hours of studying Lao TzuParamahansa YoganandaRob Brezny,  Miles Davis, and Tom Robbins into interesting tidbits to help you Wake up Your Sleepy Little Head, and See the Big Picture. Her blog is Yoga for the New World. Her latest book is Pharma Sutra: Healing the Body And Mind Through the Art of Yoga.

This article was originally published at Waking Times

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article35530.htm

Pharmaceutical companies sign contracts for vaccine sales to poorer countries to maximise profits

By Joan Smith 
24 June 2013
Pharmaceutical companies Merck and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have won the contract from the Global Alliance on Vaccines and Immunisations (GAVI) to sell their human papilloma virus (HPV) cancer vaccines to some of the world’s poorest countries.
Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer in women worldwide, and 99 percent of cases are linked to the HPV genital infection. HPV can cause genital warts, but often has no symptoms. The vaccines, Cervarix and Gardasil, prevent infection types 1, 6, 16 and 18, which cause 70 percent of the world’s cervical cancer.
The vaccine will be made available in Kenya, Ghana, Madagascar, Malawi, Niger, Sierra Leone, Tanzania, Rwanda and Laos. Three vaccines have to be taken over a six-month period for an individual to be fully protected. It will be given to girls aged 9 to 13 years.
The contract runs until 2017, by which point it is hoped that 30 million children will have been vaccinated. Merck and GSK will initially sell 2.4 million doses of Gardasil and 180,000 doses of Cervarix to GAVI at a price of US$4.50-US$4.60 each. The average wage for a labourer working in Kenya is US$1.37 to US$2.00 a day. The three vaccinations work out as nearly US$14.00 per child.
Katie Elder of the Doctors Without Borders/Medecins sans Frontieres charity criticised the deal, commenting, “It’s really disappointing that pharmaceutical companies haven’t offered GAVI a much better deal on the HPV vaccine. The price is unjustifiably high and will add to the already spiralling vaccination costs faced by low-income countries.”
“It’s appalling to see these companies seeking to maximise their profits on the backs of developing countries by charging such a high price for this vital vaccine,” she added. “It’s a lost opportunity to negotiate for a truly low price.”
Merck and GSK currently sell their cancer vaccines at US$100 a dose in developed countries and last year recorded sales of US$1.6 billion (Merck) and US$416 million (GSK) for just this one vaccine.
There has been a slight dip in sales recently in developed countries, so pharmaceutical companies have been turning towards poorer countries to maximise their profits. To be able to effectively sell their products in these areas, they need to sell to charities like those that make up GAVI. This means that the donations that people are making to these charities are going straight into the pockets of Merck and GSK. The UNICEF charity will be carrying out the actual vaccination programme, so Merck and GSK won’t even have to pay distribution costs.
GSK has previously been fined US$3 billion for mispromoting two anti-depressant drugs in the United States between 1998 and 2003 and failing to report all necessary safety data to the US concerning its diabetes drug (Avandia) between 2001 and 2007. In 2009, it was criticised for selling a swine flu vaccine to the National Health Service in Britain at £6 a dose when it had only cost £1 to produce.
GSK chief executive Andrew Witty had declared that swine flu would be “a significant financial event for the company.” The company reported a 10 percent rise in profits in the first three months after the virus was identified.
This begs the question of how much it cost both companies to produce the HPV vaccine. As cervical cancer is not one of the biggest killers in the targeted regions, it suggests that the HPV vaccine must be very cheap to produce, compared to drugs that treat HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis and diarrhoea.
Public health sectors are being slashed globally. It is worth noting that the Kenyan government has recently withdrawn government aid to all sectors of society to give the market free reign. The private sector is only interested in producing drugs and treatments that will see a good return in profits, with no regard for human needs.
Greece has been effectively boycotted by these companies, condemning many to a death sentence. Across the globe, millions are being pushed into poverty, which means that health care will become ever more the exclusive property of the wealthy.

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Understanding the Latest Leaks Is Understanding the Rise of a New Fascism

By John Pilger
June 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House – In his book, Propaganda, published in 1928, Edward Bernays wrote: “The conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country.”
The American nephew of Sigmund Freud, Bernays invented the term “public relations” as a euphemism for state propaganda. He warned that an enduring threat to the invisible government was the truth-teller and an enlightened public.
In 1971, whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg leaked US government files known as The Pentagon Papers, revealing that the invasion of Vietnam was based on systematic lying. Four years later, Frank Church conducted sensational hearings in the US Senate: one of the last flickers of American democracy. These laid bare the full extent of the invisible government: the domestic spying and subversion and warmongering by intelligence and “security” agencies and the backing they received from big business and the media, both conservative and liberal.
Speaking about the National Security Agency (NSA), Senator Church said: “I know that the capacity that there is to make tyranny in America, and we must see to it that this agency and all agencies that possess this technology operate within the law … so that we never cross over that abyss. That is the abyss from which there is no return.”
On 11 June, following the revelations in the Guardian by NSA contractor Edward Snowden, Daniel Ellsberg wrote that the US had now “that abyss”.
Snowden’s revelation that Washington has used Google, Facebook, Apple and other giants of consumer technology to spy on almost everyone, is further evidence of modern form of fascism – that is the “abyss”. Having nurtured old-fashioned fascists around the world – from Latin America to Africa and Indonesia – the genie has risen at home. Understanding this is as important as understanding the criminal abuse of technology.
Fred Branfman, who exposed the “secret” destruction of tiny Laos by the US Air Force in the 1960s and 70s, provides an answer to those who still wonder how a liberal African-American president, a professor of constitutional law, can command such lawlessness. “Under Mr. Obama,” he wrote, “no president has done more to create the infrastructure for a possible future police state.” Why? Because Obama, like George W Bush, understands that his role is not to indulge those who voted for him but to expand “the most powerful institution in the history of the world, one that has killed, wounded or made homeless well over 20 million human beings, mostly civilians, since 1962.”
In the new American cyber-power, only the revolving doors have changed. The director of Google Ideas, Jared Cohen, was adviser to Condoleezza Rice, the former secretary of state in the Bush administration who lied that Saddam Hussein could attack the US with nuclear weapons. Cohen and Google’s executive chairman, Eric Schmidt – they met in the ruins of Iraq – have co-authored a book, The New Digital Age, endorsed as visionary by the former CIA director Michael Hayden and the war criminals Henry Kissinger and Tony Blair. The authors make no mention of the Prism spying program, revealed by Edward Snowden, that provides the NSA access to all of us who use Google.
Control and dominance are the two words that make sense of this. These are exercised by political, economic and military designs, of which mass surveillance is an essential part, but also by insinuating propaganda in the public consciousness. This was Edward Bernays’s point. His two most successful PR campaigns were convincing Americans they should go to war in 1917 and persuading women to smoke in public; cigarettes were “torches of freedom” that would hasten women’s liberation.
It is in popular culture that the fraudulent “ideal” of America as morally superior, a “leader of the free world”, has been most effective. Yet, even during Hollywood’s most jingoistic periods there were exceptional films, like those of the exile Stanley Kubrick, and adventurous European films would have US distributors. These days, there is no Kubrick, no Strangelove, and the US market is almost closed to foreign films.
When I showed my own film, The War on Democracy, to a major, liberally-minded US distributor, I was handed a laundry list of changes required, to “ensure the movie is acceptable”. His memorable sop to me was: “OK, maybe we could drop in Sean Penn as narrator. Would that satisfy you?” Lately, Katherine Bigelow’s torture-apologizing Zero Dark Thirty and Alex Gibney’s We Steal Secrets, a cinematic hatchet job on Julian Assange, were made with generous backing by Universal Studios, whose parent company until recently was General Electric. GE manufactures weapons, components for fighter aircraft and advance surveillance technology. The company also has lucrative interests in “liberated” Iraq.
The power of truth-tellers like Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, and Edward Snowden is that they dispel a whole mythology carefully constructed by the corporate cinema, the corporate academy and the corporate media. WikiLeaks is especially dangerous because it provides truth-tellers with a means to get the truth out. This was achieved by Collateral Damage, the cockpit video of an US Apache helicopter allegedly leaked by Bradley Manning. The impact of this one video marked Manning and Assange for state vengeance. Here were US airmen murdering journalists and maiming children in a Baghdad street, clearly enjoying it, and describing their atrocity as “nice”. Yet, in one vital sense, they did not get away with it; we are witnesses now, and the rest is up to us.

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Another Truth-Teller Steps Forward

Dead In The Water

There is a War on Ordinary People and Feminists are Needed at the Front

165 million children malnourished worldwide

By Jake Dean 
1 June 2013
There are currently 165 million children globally who are chronically malnourished. This preventable condition has affected one in every four children at some point in their lives. A new report by Save the Children, Food for Thought, highlights the extraordinary impact that malnutrition has upon a child’s cognitive development.
With studies conducted in India, Peru, Guatemala, Ethiopia and Vietnam, the report details the dire consequence that malnutrition has upon children’s ability to learn. The study focuses on malnutrition within the first thousand days of life, beginning during the mother’s pregnancy, leading up to the child’s second birthday, which is a critical time for brain development.
Malnutrition is the underlying cause of death for 2.3 million children per year, an average of one death every 15 seconds.
Carolyn Miles, president and chief executive of Save the Children, stated, “A quarter of the world’s children are suffering the effects of chronic malnutrition. Poor nutrition in the early years is driving a literacy and numeracy crisis in developing countries and is also a huge barrier to further progress in tackling child deaths.”
A poor diet leads to stunted growth, which contributes to significant cognitive deficiencies. One study cited by the report states that children stunted at age five are 19 percent less likely to read the sentence, “The sun is hot.” They are also 12.5 percent less likely to write such a sentence. Children at age eight who are malnourished are 20 percent less literate than their counterparts who have access to a nutritious diet.
The findings in the report are an indictment of the economic system and world governments which have created appalling social conditions for the majority of the world’s population. The report found:
• 38 percent of children from the least developed countries have had their growth stunted by malnutrition.
• Malnourished children score 7 percent lower on math tests and are 19 percent less likely to be able to read by age eight.
• The poorest 40 percent are 2.8 times more likely to suffer long-term effects of malnutrition than the richest 10 percent.
Beyond cognitive problems, other consequences of child malnutrition can include lower self-esteem, self-confidence, and career aspirations. The report noted that children who are malnourished make 20 percent less as adults, amounting to a collective financial loss of $125 billion.
A separate report released by the International Energy Agency found that many families living in developing countries lack access to any modern form of energy services. Over 1.3 billion people globally have no access to electricity and 2.6 billion do not have clean cooking facilities. Of these people, 95 percent live either in sub-Saharan Africa or developing countries of Asia; 84 percent live in rural areas.
Though much more prevalent in developing countries, industrialized countries have witnessed a staggering growth in poverty and food insecurity in recent years.
In Greece, the impact of ruthless austerity has left the country’s working class in ruins. The unemployment rate stands at 27 percent, and youth unemployment stands at an astronomical 62 percent. Impoverished families are struggling with hunger and malnutrition.
UNICEF reported in 2012 that 439,000 Greek children lived below the poverty line, and 26 percent of Greek households with children had an “economically weak diet.” Of those children, 37 percent lacked adequate heating, and one in five families were living in “poor environmental conditions.” An estimated 10 percent of elementary and middle school students suffer from food insecurity.
“When it comes to food insecurity, Greece has now fallen to the level of some African countries,” Dr. Athena Linos, a professor at the University of Athens Medical School, told the New York Times.
In the United States, a similar social disaster is unfolding. Data released by the US Department of Agriculture this month indicates that in 2011, 21 percent of US households with children were not “food secure,” meaning they did not always have access to adequate food over the course of the year.
Nearly 6 percent of households had “very low food security” in 2011. “In households with very low food security among children,” the USDA report states, “caregivers had reported that children were hungry, skipped a meal, or did not eat for a whole day because there was not enough money for food.”
Masses of people have turned to government assistance programs and charities to fill the gap. The nationwide food pantry provider Feeding America serves 3 million people under the age of five. In public schools, 64 percent of students now receive federally subsidized lunches.
A record 47.8 million Americans are now on food stamps, or one in seven Americans. As need grows, the response of the political establishment is to cut emergency food assistance and other social safety net programs.

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From Yemen to Pakistan to Laos Jeremy Scahill & Noam Chomsky on Secret U.S. Dirty Wars

The Long March Towards Abolition of War

The Growing Global Challenge to Monsanto’s Monopolistic Greed

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers
May 25, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The common problem we face is the power of concentrated wealth and monopolistic corporate interests. This has created a crony capitalist economy that uses government to further enrich the wealthy at the expense of the people, often threatening our basic necessities for life.A clear example of this is found in the behavior of the chemical and seed corporation, Monsanto.Monsanto threatens the world’s food supply; this is a major challenge of our era. This struggle is central to the global ecosystem, economy and energy crises. Monsanto also pushes poisonous chemicals into the environment and promotes agricultural practices that exacerbate climate change.
Monsanto’s actions truly affect each of us. They put their profits over the need for healthy foods, diverse seed supplies and the stability of the agricultural economy. They employ a variety of tools to control access to seeds and aggressively push genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and toxic chemicals despite serious safety concerns about them. And they accomplish this with great help from the US government.
When President Obama appointed a Monsanto lobbyist, Michael Taylor, as the “food czar” (officially the deputy commissioner for foods) – avoiding the Senate confirmation process, which would have brought public attention to the appointment – it was one more example of how corrupted both parties have become by corporate influence.
A global grassroots movement is building to challenge Monsanto as more people realize that we are in a struggle for our survival. May 25 is a global day of action against Monsanto taking place in hundreds of cities and 41 countries. Monsanto must be stopped before its unfettered greed destroys our health and environment. We urge you to join the effort to stop Monsanto.
Monsanto: A Threat to Public Health and the Environment 
Monsanto’s products increase the use of fertilizers, pesticides, herbicides, water and energy. At a time when the world needs to be making a transition away from the destructive impacts of energy and chemical-intensive agriculture toward local and organic food and farming, Monsanto is pulling the world in the opposite direction.
Monsanto began as a chemical company in 1901. In the 1930s, it was responsible for some of the most damaging chemicals in our history – polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB’s, and dioxin. According to a Food & Water Watch corporate profile, a single Monsanto plant in Sauget, Illinois, produced 99 percent of PCB’s until they were banned in 1976. PCBs are carcinogenic and harmful to multiple organs and systems. They are still illegally dumped into waterways, where they accumulate in plants and food crops, as well as fish and other aquatic organisms, which enter the human food supply. The Sauget plant is now the home of two Superfund sites.
Dioxin is the defoliant used in Vietnam known as Agent Orange. It is one of the most dangerous chemicals known, a highly toxic carcinogen linked to 50 illnesses and 20 birth defects. Between 1962 and 1971, 19 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam. A class action lawsuit filed by Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange was settled for $180 million. And a Monsanto plant that made dioxin in Times Beach, Missouri, poisoned the area so greatly that the town has been wiped from the map. Thousands of people had to be relocated and it is now also a superfund site. Consistent with their method of operation, Monsanto has denied responsibility for the harm these chemicals have caused.
Their biggest selling chemical worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate, sold under the name RoundUp. Monsanto markets it as a safe herbicide and has made a fortune from it. Sales of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides accounted for 27 percent of Monsanto’s total 2011 net sales. Monsanto engineers genetically modified seeds, branded as “Roundup Ready,” to resist Roundup so that the herbicide is absolutely necessary for those who buy these seeds. Roundup Ready seeds have been Monsanto’s most successful genetically modified product line and have made Roundup the most widely used herbicide in the history of the world.
Roundup is toxic, known to cause cancer, Parkinson’s Disease, birth defects and infertility. A 2012 European Report found that the, “Industry has known from its own studies since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses” and that industry has known “since 1993 that these effects also occur at lower and mid doses.” This information was not made public, and both Monsanto and the European government misled people by telling them glyphosate was safe – as did the US government.
In response to Monsanto’s denial of this toxicity, Earth Open Source explicitly pointed to studies, including some funded by Monsanto, that showed “glyphosate causes birth defects in experimental animals” and also causes “cancer, genetic damage, endocrine disruption and other serious health effects. Many of these effects are found at very low, physiologically relevant doses.”
Before the use of glyphosate-resistant seeds, farmers used lower quantities of Roundup for fear of killing their own plants (since the herbicide kills anything green). But, a 2012 report found that with resistant seeds, “the herbicide can be sprayed in massive amounts, often from planes, near homes, schools and villages, resulting in massive increases in cancer and birth defects.” 
In addition, farmers are discovering Roundup resistant “super weeds” that are not killed by the herbicide. An Arkansas farmer tells US News “This is not a science fiction thing, this is happening right now. We’re creating super weeds.” Indeed, there are now 24 Roundup resistant weeds that have been reported. In response to the appearance of these weeds, a report found: “farmers … use progressively more glyphosate as well as mixtures of other even more toxic herbicides.” In fact, farmers who grow genetically modified crops use about 25 percent more herbicides than farmers who use traditional seeds.
Monsanto produces a variety of pesticides that are less well known. Author Jill Richardson reports that these include “a number of chemicals named as Bad Actors by Pesticide Action Network.” They include known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other toxins such as Alachlor, Acetochlor, Atrazine, Clopyralid, Dicamba and Thiodicarb.
Not only does Monsanto never take responsibility for the impact of its poisonous chemicals, but they do their best to prevent research showing toxic effects. For example, in 2011, Monsanto acquired Beeologics, a company dedicated to restoring the health of the bee population, amid scientific and media speculation that an overuse of pesticides was to blame for dwindling bee populations.
Monsanto also threatens the sustainability of agriculture because its products require the use of larger quantities of water and fossil fuels in farming. While genetically engineered crops are supposed to be more drought resistant, the opposite turns out to be true. Don Huber, a science expert, notes “It takes twice as much water to produce a pound of a Roundup-ready crop soybean plant treated with glyphosate, as it does with soybean plant that’s not treated with glyphosate.” 
Monsanto is a major threat to climate change due to its energy-intensive agricultural model and promotion of ethanol as a fuel source. The Organic Consumers Association adds it all up: “All told, the production and processing of Monsanto’s GMO crops, from deforestation to fossil-fuel-based pesticides and fertilizers, polluting factory farms, and fuel-intensive food processing and distribution, is estimated to produce up to 51% of global greenhouse gas emissions.”
As a result of Monsanto’s marketing, there are a lot of myths about GMOs. The truth is that GMO foods are different from traditional foods and are neither more nutritious – nor have they been proven to be safe to eat. Limited studies so far indicate that GMO foods may cause kidney and liver damage. GMO crops do not produce larger crop yields or make farmers’ lives easier, nor are they a key to feeding the world. The use of GMO seeds does environmental damage by increasing the use of pesticides, fossil fuels and water. And they make the world’s biggest environmental problem, climate change, worse.
Monsanto: A Threat to Biodiversity and Independent Agriculture
One of the keys to sustainability and durability in times of environmental stress is biodiversity. This means the existence of many varieties of plants and the insects, fungi and bacteria they require for survival so that food can be produced under different conditions. With climate change upon us, the environment is in a state of great stress: more extreme weather, new varieties of insects moving from south to north and new weeds are becoming common. This is a time when biodiversity is more important than ever.
Yet years of chemical-based agriculture have poisoned the air, water, soil and food supplies, which has killed many living things and decreased biodiversity. In addition to causing disease in humans, the use of herbicides and pesticides is contributing to a rapid species extinction of beneficial plants, insects and animals.
Monsanto is pushing agriculture toward less biodiversity by concentrating the world’s seed supply under its control. Through promotion of their genetically altered crops, contamination of traditional seeds and the practice of monopolization, Monsanto is rapidly dominating our global food system.
Monsanto’s genes are currently found in 40 percent of the crops grown in the United States. A March 2013 report found 86 percent of corn, 88 percent of cotton and 93 percent of soybeans farmed in the US are now genetically engineered (GE) varieties, making the option of farming non-GE crops increasingly difficult. As GE crops spread and infect or mix with traditional crops, it is becoming harder to preserve traditional seeds. This creates a great problem because, as we discussed above, GE crops are unsustainable for a variety of reasons.
Monsanto’s efforts to dominate the market began with buying up the competition as early as 1982. In the decade after the mid-90s,Monsanto spent more than $12 billion to buy at least 30 businesses contributing to the decline of independent seed companies. One of the big purchases that consolidated the market was a 1997 purchase of Holden Foundation Seeds and two Holden seed distributors for $1.02 billion. Holden was the country’s last big independent producer of foundation seed. The company was in the Holden family for three generations. They produced seed that was planted on about 35 percent of the acreage set aside for corn and were the biggest American producer of foundation corn, the parent seed from which hybrids are made.
Jill Richardson describes how aggressively Monsanto uses their market power “to get seed dealers to not stock many of their competitors’ products … they restrict the seed companies’ ability to combine Monsanto’s traits with those of their competitors. And, famously, farmers who plant Monsanto’s patented seeds sign contracts prohibiting them from saving and replanting their seeds.” Theypromised rebates to farmers who ensured that Monsanto products made up at least 70 percent of their inventory to keep competitors out of the market. As a result of this, through either purchases or forcing competitors into bankruptcy, the number of independent seed producers has dropped from 300 to under 100 since the mid-90s. Monsanto also required that their Roundup Ready seeds be used only with Roundup, thereby keeping generic, less expensive competitors out of the market.
The result has been increased prices for farmers and consumers. Since 2001, Monsanto has more than doubled the price of soybean and corn seeds and farmers have been told to expect prices to keep increasing. According to a March 2013 report, from 1995 to 2011, the average cost to plant one acre of soybeans has risen 325 percent; cotton prices spiked 516 percent and corn seed prices are up by 259 percent. The rising cost has had a deadly effect in India, where more than 270,000 farmers who grew Monsanto’s Bt Cotton committed suicide, many by drinking pesticides, because of endless growing debt. Nonetheless, the greatest threat from the loss of biodiversity in the seed markets is the ability to adapt to increasingly unpredictable climate changes. As Salon reports: “Many of the seed breeders and retailers Monsanto purchased were regional experts, familiar with the soil and adept at breeding crops suited to the vagaries of local pests and climate. That sprawling network of local knowledge and experimentation has been severely thinned.” Richardson adds, when crops are “too genetically homogenous, then they are vulnerable to a single disease or pest that can wipe them out.”
A March 2013 report, Seed Giants vs. US Farmers, found that Monsanto’s seed dominance is also shrinking the number of independent farmers. According to the report, as of January 2013, Monsanto, alleging seed patent infringement, had filed 144 lawsuits involving 410 farmers and 56 small farm businesses in at least 27 different states. Some of these farmers are sued because pollen brings Monsanto products onto their farms. There are so many cases it is impossible to summarize them in this article, but the Organic Consumers Association has an excellent web site for more information on this and other Monsanto controversies. 
Monsanto: Leading Example of Corrupted Government Unable to Operate in the Public Interest
You would think this concentration of industry would lead to antitrust litigation. In fact, shortly after taking office, the Obama administration began an antitrust investigation, taking over from several states that were looking into the market practices of Monsanto. The investigation was announced with much fanfare, but last November, without even a press release, the Department of Justice closed the investigation, leaving us to conclude that it may have been a tactic to thwart state efforts.
At the beginning of the antitrust investigation, there was hope that a marketplace with more diverse seed sources and competition could exist in the future, but with the Obama administration’s decision to drop the investigation, Monsanto domination of the market has been given the imprimatur of legality and the abusive practices Monsanto uses to buy or destroy competition have been ratified.
Monsanto exemplifies political connections, the revolving door, bought-and-paid-for corporatist governance and so much that is wrong with the way the US government operates. Open Secrets reports Monsanto is one of the biggest spenders in Washington. It spent $6 million lobbying in DC in 2012, the biggest agribusiness spender. The next was Archer Daniel Midlands, spending just over $1 million.
Monsanto epitomizes the revolving door between industry and government. At least seven Monsanto officials have served in government positions. Michael Taylor left the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1984 to join King & Spalding, a law firm that lobbies for Monsanto. He returned to the FDA in 1991 and then left again to return to Monsanto in 1994 as their vice president for public policy, only to return to the FDA again as the current “food czar,” where he has led major advances for genetically modified foods. Taylor played the lead role in introducing rBGH (bovine growth hormone), which was used to increase cows’ milk production, into the US market in the early 90s along with two other Monsanto-FDA door revolvers, Dr. Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen, both from the Office of New Animal Drugs.
Other door revolvers include high level officials: Arthur Hayes, commissioner of the FDA from 1981 to 1983 and consultant to Searle’s public relations firm, which later merged with Monsanto; Michael A. Friedman, former acting commissioner of the FDA, who later went on to become senior vice president for clinical affairs at Searle; and Virginia Weldon, a member of the FDA’s Endocrinologic and Metabolic Drugs Advisory Committee, after retiring as vice president for public policy at Monsanto.
It is not only the FDA where the Monsanto revolving door has influence. On the Supreme Court, Justice Clarence Thomas used to be a lawyer for Monsanto. Recently, the Supreme Court ruled against a farmer who was sued by Monsanto, ordering the farmer to pay $84,000 in damages.
But it is not only the revolving door that is the problem. It is also that some top government officials “work” for Monsanto while they are in office. One example took place during the Clinton administration when the French government was reluctant to allow Monsanto’s seeds on French soil. First the US Trade Representative Charlene Barschefsky urged the French government to allow the seeds. When that did not work, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright lobbied for Monsanto in France. When that failed, President Clinton himself took up the task of giving Prime Minister Lionel Jospin “an earful” about Monsanto. Even that did not work. Finally, Vice President Gore pushed Jospin – who finally gave in.
This is just one example of many in which the US government foreign policy apparatus operated on behalf of Monsanto. Five years of WikiLeaks diplomatic cables during the Bush and Obama administrations reveal that the State Department lobbied for Monsanto products worldwide and pushed genetically modified foods wherever it could. It is almost like the US government is a marketing arm for Monsanto and genetically modified foods. Indeed, in August 2011, WikiLeaks exposed that American diplomats requested funding to send lobbyists for the biotech industry to hold talks with politicians and agricultural officials in “target countries” in areas like Africa and Latin America.
There is no doubt that in the new massive trade agreements, the Trans-Pacific Partnership and the trade agreement being negotiated with Europe, the United States will seek to include protections for Monsanto and GMOs. Europeans involved in every aspect of agriculture or food safety are very concerned that lowered trade barriers will allow GMOs into Europe. In Europe, GMOs are currently grown on less than 1 percent of farmland.
When people try to use democratic tools to change Monsanto’s behavior, Monsanto and its allies spend millions to confuse voters and create fear. That was clear in the California initiative in November 2012 in which tens of millions were spent to prevent the requirement that foods be labeled so consumers would know whether they contained GMOs or not. Consumer groups continue to push for labeling. Another vote will be held in 2013 in Washington State, and Vermont may become the first state to pass a law requiring labeling.
Although labeling of foods that contain GMOs is required in Europe and US corporations such as Walmart and McDonald’s comply with these rules in Europe, Monsanto and its allies are taking the fight to prevent labeling in the United States to new levels. As more state-level battles and an energized grass roots develop, Ronnie Cummins of the Organic Consumers Association reports Monsanto and allies are trying to subvert these efforts by getting the corrupt federal government to pass a law forbidding states to pass labeling laws.
Impossible, you think? Well, Monsanto has done the seemingly impossible before. Most recently, one legislative victory that enraged people was the Monsanto Protection Act (actually misleadingly named the Farmer Assurance Provision) which was buried in a spending bill earlier this year and which protects Monsanto from the courts. For example, under the new law, federal courts are not allowed to stop the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. There are now efforts to add a rider to the farm bill to repeal this measure.
Stopping Monsanto and Moving to Sensible Agricultural Policy
The first step to stopping the entrenchment of genetically modified foods in our food supply is labeling. As noted above, states are moving forward on that front, despite the efforts of Monsanto to stop them. This is the big battle because when foods are labeled, consumers have the power of knowledge and can choose not to buy them. Cummins reports that in Europe, the labeling of foods was the key to stopping the development of genetically modified foods.
One of the tools we must use is the boycott. Large food and beverage corporations that sell billions of dollars of organic and natural foods bankrolled the industry opposition to GMO labeling in California. Brand names like Kashi, Cascadian Farms, Bear Naked, Honest Tea, Odwalla, Naked Juice and others need to be told that we will not buy their products if they continue to fund ignorance by blocking GMO labeling.
To protect our food and health, the United States needs to adopt the precautionary principle, which means products must be proven to be safe before they are allowed on the market. The US applies a sham standard of “substantial equivalence” which avoids the need to test for safety. Applying the precautionary principle to Monsanto’s products would mean a moratorium on them until their safety can be demonstrated by independent (non-corporate-funded), long-term tests for food safety as well as safety for agriculture. Our health should come before Monsanto’s profits.
People need to be empowered not just with credible information about genetically modified foods and how to avoid them – that is, buy organic and non-processed foods – but also with access to courts to sue if agriculture, the environment or their health is damaged by GMOs. The repeal of the “Monsanto Protection Act” is a first step in that direction, but people also need to have a greater ability to sue corporations that harm them.
We advocate a two-path approach – protest what you do not like and build what you want. That means that while we encourage community-supported agriculture, organic and local gardening, preparing your own non-processed foods and working to change laws, we also urge protest. This May 25, nearly 300 protests are being held all over the world against Monsanto in the March Against Monsanto organized by Occupy Monsanto. Join these protests.
As it is with many other issues, the future of the world’s food supply boils down to the people vs. concentrated wealth and corporate power. It highlights the corruption of government and the need for a real democracy in which people are allowed to make choices for themselves on basic issues like what kind of food they eat and what kind of plants they want to grow. Popular resistance to concentrated wealth is growing as more people demand the right to control their own lives.
You can learn more and hear our interview with Ronnie Cummins, Patty Lovera and Adam Eidinger, “Reasons to Protest Monsanto” atClearing The FOG
This article was first published on Truthout.

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Mushroom Clouds Over Texas, 500 Deaths in Bangladesh — THAT’S Why We Need Unions

By Richard Eskow
May 05, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -”CFAF” – News reports tell us that more than 500 people have now died and more than 2,500 were injured in Savar, Bangladesh, while the toll in West, Texas stands at 15 dead and over 200 injured. Behind these two disasters is a common thread of greed – and a common need for unionized resistance.
“It was like a nuclear bomb went off,” said the mayor as a mushroom cloud soared above his tiny Texas town. The explosion “ripped through three feet of concrete floor slab and then tore apart 10 additional feet of earth,” scattering the wreckage more than 1,000 feet and leaving a blast crater 93 feet wide.
This was the second mushroom cloud to be seen over Texas in recent years. The first was also a workplace explosion, at an oil refinery.
Bystanders weren’t safe in Bangladesh, either. The Savar building collapsed during rush hour, hurling debris through the air while crushing and killing hundreds of the workers inside.
The Whole Story
News reports offer information, but don’t tell the whole story. There’s an underlying theme behind the barrage of words and images from the fertilizer plant explosion and the collapse of a textile factory, and it’s this: When one worker is unsafe anywhere, we’re all unsafe everywhere.
One word that’s conspicuously absent from these news account is “union.” Without it this story of death and disaster will be repeated, again and again and again.
These aren’t just stories about strangers. The Texas plant endangered us all with lax security which failed to safeguard highly explosive materials used by terrorists like Tim McVeigh, and permitted the repeated theft of chemicals used to make methamphetamines.
The Texas plant was surrounded by a school, a retirement home, and private residences. The explosion ripped the roofs from some of those homes and the elementary school, and lawsuits are already being filed by the plant’s newly-homeless neighbors.
And the Savar story is as close to us as the clothes on our backs. The factory manufactured clothing for American distributors that included Benetton, Joe Fresh, The Children’s Place, Primark, Monsoon, and DressBarn.
Godless
The Texas Attorney General’s Office brags about its “Right to Work” laws, which became “Right to Die” laws last week. Union membership in Texas is roughly half the national average, and the national figure has been declining precipitously for far too long.
Trade union activity in Bangladesh was suspended for two years in 2006 when the government declared a “state of emergency,” and its unions are frequently cozy with political parties. They possess neither the strength nor the independence to fight for workplace wages and safety.
The workers in Savar weren’t just endangered. They were underpaid, working 14 or more hours a day and yet still living in deprivation. As “War On Want” documents, 3.5 million garment workers in Bangladesh subsist on poverty wages while laboring in 4,825 factories. More than 85 percent of them are women.
Pope Francis correctly described their condition as “slavery,” adding that their employer’s behavior “goes against God.”
A Pattern of Death
Their deaths weren’t random or unpredictable, no matter what the politicians want you to believe.
Texas Governor Rick Perry denied that lax oversight caused the West explosion, while the Bangladeshi Finance Minister who outragedthe world by saying the accident “wasn’t really serious” added that “These are individual cases of … accidents. It happens everywhere.”
That’s a lie. It’s the lie they tell to hide the underlying pattern behind these deaths – a pattern of under-represented workers and unrestrained greed.
And they endanger us all. As the AFL-CIO notes, the West plant hadn’t been inspected by OSHA for twenty-eight years. The plant did not report the fact that it was storing 270 tons of ammonium nitrate to the Department of Homeland Security as required by law, even though that’s more than 200 times the amount Timothy McVeigh used to blow up the Federal building in Oklahoma City. We’re expected to suspend our civil liberties in the name of national security, but businesses aren’t even being asked to follow safety regulations.
And, absurdly, the deficit debate in Washington is still centered around how much to cut from vital regulatory agencies, rather than on how much to should increase to their budgets.
A Story That Changed the World
There was a time when such a tragedy changed the world.
Like that workplace in Savar, the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory primarily employed women. And like their Bangladeshi counterparts, those women worked seven days a week for at least 13 hours each day. In 1911, 146 garment workers burned to death in that factory during a half-hour of horror. Their deaths led to a public outcry, gave new momentum to the union movement, and triggered a wave of new worker safety laws.
Their deaths weren’t unexpected. Union organizers had been fighting for better working conditions at the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory for years. The 1909 Shirtwaist Strike, also called “the Uprising of the Twenty Thousand,” led to marginal improvements in hours and pay. But even after a 1910 factory fire killed 25 people in nearby Hackensack, New Jersey, it took the Triangle tragedy to galvanize a movement.
A documentary called “Heaven Will Protect the Working Girl” tells the story of the 1909 strike. But heaven alone couldn’t protect the working girls at the Triangle factory, any more than it can protect workers in Savar or Texas.
Sometimes heaven needs human help.
People Protect the Working Person
Organizers stepped up their efforts after the 1911 tragedy. Support and membership increased dramatically. With the help of local newspapers, the National Women’s Trade Union League of America sent out questionnaires and documented working conditions in a number of factories. Twenty-five public figures were recruited into a Citizens Committee for Public Safety. They organized “mass meeting at the Metropolitan Opera House, which was attended by thousands of citizens, including a variety of public figures, reformists, clergymen, union people, and politicians.”
They got results. A “Bureau of Fire Prevention” was created and the Municipal Fire Code was amended to prevent future disasters. The state organized a Factory Investigating Commission whose findings led to the passage of thirty-six new labor laws in the following three years. Those laws became a national model.
We saw similar responses as recently as 1968, when a West Virginia mining disaster led to a general coal miners’ strike. That led to the passage of the Federal Coal Mine Safety and Health Act, and shortly afterward to the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
As American as a Union Contract
There was a time when American unionism was considered one of our most valuable exports. It was even used as a Cold War tool, providing other countries with a humane and democratic alternative to totalitarian Soviet-led Communism. Unions were an essential part of the process of democratizing Soviet Europe.
I worked with union organizers on State Department education missions to provide working people with information on union-supported benefits. We spoke to coal miners in the Silesian mountains, dock workers from Gdansk, and factory workers in Hungary and Czechoslovakia.
The President and Secretary of State were Republicans in those days. But they understood that unionism was as American as apple pie, and that a strong global union movement benefits all of us.
One Big Oligarchy
The IWW – the “Wobblies” – used to talk about “One Big Union” for the “workers of the world.” But it’s corporations, not workers, who have globalized in the 21st Century. Multinationals span the globe, bypassing sovereign rights and local economies, collaborating with one another at the expense of consumers and workers everywhere.
They’ve formed “One Big Oligarchy” to control the price of labor and restrict the rights of consumers. We all pay the price – with our wallets, and our lives.
Apple is warned of deadly fire dangers in its China suppliers’ factories, and Steve Jobs does nothing. Government officials are warned of imminent building collapse in Bangladesh, but they protect their cronies as they too decide to do nothing. Company owners in Texas criminally falsify safety records and they, too, do nothing.
In each case, those endangered workers needed independent unions to fight that One Big Oligarchy for their rights – and their lives.
A Disaster Speaks
The politicians came to give their eulogies in West, Texas. But even the President’s moving and eloquent remarks said nothing about ensuring that government will do more to protect the people of that town. Neither the President nor any of the other speakers promised to provide more funding and stronger laws to protect other people from experiencing a tragedy like the one that scarred that little Texas tow
What about us? What should we do?
They’re counting us to become numbed by the sheer numbers of the lost. People were galvanized by the Triangle Shirtwaist tragedy because they saw the humanity in the fallen. The One Big Oligarchy is relying on Stalin’s dictum that “One death is a tragedy, but a million is a statistic.”
To resist them, we must tell of the tragedy. Poet Nicole Cooley quotes the French writer Maurice Blanchot in a moving essay about disasters and poetry. “It is not you who will speak,” said Blanchot. “Let the disaster speak in you.”
The disaster speaks first with the faces of the dead. Then it speaks with the words of loss. Then it speaks with action.
Union Starlight
And action, in this case, means union.
Cooley also quotes from Rebecca Solnit’s powerful book, A Paradise Made in Hell, in which Solnit notes that “the word emergency comes from emerge, to rise out of,” and that “disaster” is derived from “the Latin compound of dis-, or away, without, and astro, star or planet; literally without a star.”
Unions can be one such star. Without them we’ll remain locked in a global race toward the bottom on wages, benefits, and even the sanctity of our own lives. The blight of globalization doesn’t just reveal itself in the loss of American jobs, nor is it best fought with a crude “us against them” mentality.
What’s needed is a recognition that every life is worth fighting for, in every field and factory and mine on the planet. It’s fought with the understanding that better-paid workers buy more goods and raise the global standard of living, no matter where they live.
The stories from Texas and Bangladesh shouldn’t just horrify us. They should galvanize us into action. They aren’t complete until we choose to live them ourselves. As union hero Mary “Mother” Jones once said, “Mourn the dead, but fight like hell for the living.”
Richard (RJ) Eskow is a well-known blogger and writer, a former Wall Street executive, an experienced consultant, and a former musician. He has experience in health insurance and economics, occupational health, benefits, risk management, finance, and information technology.

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Google’s Spymasters Are Now Worried About Your Secrets

By Robert Scheer
May 02, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -”Truthdig” – A recent article in The Wall Street Journal by Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, “The Dark Side of the Digital Revolution,” makes for very scary reading. It is not so much because of what he and co-author Jared Cohen, the director of Google Ideas, have to say about how dictators can use new information technology to suppress dissent; we know those guys are evil. What is truly frightening is that the techniques of the totalitarian state are the same ones pioneered by so-called democracies where commercial companies, like Google, have made a hash of the individual’s constitutionally guaranteed right to be secure in his or her private space.
The dictators, mired in more technologically primitive societies, didn’t develop the fearsome new implements of control of the National Security State. Google and other leaders in this field of massively mined and shared information did. As the authors concede and expand on in their new book:
“Despite the expense, everything a regime would need to build an incredibly intimidating digital police state—including software that facilitates data mining and real-time monitoring of citizens—is commercially available right now. … Companies that sell data-mining software, surveillance cameras and other products will flaunt their work with one government to attract new business. It’s the digital analog to arms sales. …”
The Google execs have inadvertently let us in on the world that they inhabit, where the data mining of individual preferences—for such interests as sex and politics—can be cross filed and tabulated by supercomputers to be exploited for commercial gain. The drive for ever more detailed information on individual behavior is on with a vengeance in the profit-driven world of data mining, as anyone who observes the ads that mysteriously pop up during Internet browsing sessions well knows. But that invasive technology is now undergoing a massive revolutionary upgrade provided by the collection of vast numbers of biometric markers. 
“Don’t think the data being collected by autocracies is limited to Facebook posts or Twitter comments,” Schmidt and Cohen warn. “The most important data they will collect in the future is biometric information, which can be used to identify individuals through their unique physical and biological attributes. Fingerprints, photographs and DNA testing are all familiar biometric data types today. … With cloud computing, it takes just seconds to compare millions of faces. … By indexing our biometric signatures, some governments will try to track our every move and word, both physically and digitally.”
What if one of those governments is our own?
National Security Presidential Directive 59 issued by George W. Bush during his last year in office remains in effect today. Its instruction to government agencies reads: “Through integrated processes and interoperable systems, agencies shall, to the fullest extent permitted by law, make available to other agencies all biometric and associated biographic and contextual information associated with persons for whom there is an articulable and reasonable basis for suspicion that they pose a threat to national security.”
Every time there is a so-called terrorist attack on American soil, pressure to ramp up the reach of our increasingly omnipresent surveillance state spikes, sweeping ever-larger numbers of people and more intimate information concerning their lives into national databases. As with the hunt for the perps of the Boston bombings, there is a growing acceptance and indeed a demand for additional surveillance cameras, cellphone eavesdropping, location checks and biometric identifiers.
The debate over immigration has similarly propelled a call for increased use of biometric markers to track the undocumented, but the proposals require expanded use of such markers to trace all those applying for jobs, housing and benefits.
These technological invasions of our privacy serve to undermine the bold assertion of the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution that the protection of personal, private space is essential to the freedom of the individual. 
The authors of that text knew well the dangers posed by enemies, foreign and domestic, yet insisted “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
Schmidt and Cohen should ponder those sacred words when considering their own complicity in violating the security of persons protected from searches of their habits, locations, thoughts and the endless bits of formerly off-limits information. Google has turned once private data into a commodity routinely exploited for profit. No wonder these executives are now made uncomfortable when old-fashioned dictators appropriate the snooper culture of the new technology.
Robert Scheer, editor in chief of Truthdig, has built a reputation for strong social and political writing over his 30 years as a journalist.
© 2013 TruthDig.com

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Everything Is Rigged: The Biggest Price-Fixing Scandal Ever

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By Nick Beams 
22 April 2013
Last weekend’s meetings of the International Monetary Fund and the G-20 saw further calls for policies to stimulate global economic growth. There were no concrete measures advanced to implement such a program, however, amid deepening divisions among the major powers.
While the discussions were not characterised by the air of crisis that accompanied some recent meetings, they were nonetheless dominated by the realisation that there is no economic recovery in sight and, instead, a deepening trend of stagnation and slump.
Fears of an immediate financial crisis had receded somewhat, but there were growing concerns that the policies of “quantitative easing” pursued by the major central banks could produce one in the near future.
The G-20 communiqué claimed that while progress had been made, “much more is needed to fulfil our commitment to address the ongoing weakness in the global economy.”
However, the official words were a thin cover for deepening conflicts that erupted during the discussions. The Financial Times reported that there had been an “acrimonious standoff” between Germany and the US over the question of hard commitments to stabilise the level of public debt.
In a shot at the austerity agenda being implemented in Europe, US Treasury Secretary Jack Lew said “stronger demand in Europe is critical to global growth.” The reference to “global growth” is a smokescreen. The Obama administration wants some easing of the austerity agenda in Europe in order to benefit American exports, while it continues to cut spending at home.
Similar self-serving positions were reflected in Lew’s pronouncements on trade issues. In a criticism of Germany and Japan, he said countries with large trade surpluses had to make a greater effort. “Much more needs to be done to promote effective global rebalancing, which requires stronger demand in surplus countries and continued progress towards greater exchange rate flexibility.”
In a counter-attack, German Finance Minister Wolfgang Schäuble directed his fire against the US and Japan over their high levels of government debt. “Fiscal and financial sector adjustments remain crucial to regain lost credibility and strengthen confidence. International cooperation remains crucial. At the current juncture, it is particularly the responsibility of the advanced economies, including Japan and the US, to follow through with ambitious fiscal consolidation over the medium term to reduce public debt ratios which in several cases have reached unsustainable levels,” he said.
Delaying the necessary adjustments, Schäuble insisted, would “further aggravate the risks for the prospects of a lasting and fundamentally sound global recovery.” He warned that “nobody should expect that Europe will deliver high growth rates in the coming years.”
As is the case with the US, the German position is motivated by its national interests. The German government is resisting US demands for greater stimulus because it fears this will mean the commitment of more funds and that further increases in debt could adversely impact on German banks, to the benefit of their US competitors.
Schäuble was joined in his criticisms by Swedish Finance Minister Anders Borg. “The unsustainable fiscal situation in the US and Japan is a source of concern and uncertainty. Credible medium-term fiscal plans should be promptly developed,” he said.
On the other side, Australian Treasurer Wayne Swan lined up behind the US position, condemning the policy of “mindless austerity” being carried out in Europe.
In its semi-annual report on the world economy, the IMF advanced a positive outlook. While pointing to a “bumpy” road ahead and warning of a “three speed recovery”—the US and some economies on the mend, others doing well, and others, principally in Europe, in trouble—the IMF claimed that “global economic prospects have improved again.”
Nobody took much notice, however, because similar hopes have been raised at each of the spring meetings over the past several years, only to see the eruption of a new financial crisis or markedly slower than predicted growth by the end of the year.
The IMF forecast was already being declared outdated as it was delivered, with evidence of a worsening economic position in the US and slower than expected growth in China.
The divergences over so-called fiscal consolidation and debt reduction were also reflected in discussions on quantitative easing—the policy initiated by the US Federal Reserve—in which the major banks undertake purchases in bond markets to increase the supply of money. The policy featured prominently both in the public statements by central bankers and finance ministers and in their private discussions, because of the Bank of Japan’s recent decision to double the country’s money supply over the next two years in a bid to overcome deflation.
The G-20 communiqué sought to paper over the differences. It reiterated its position of last February that countries should seek to move to market-determined rates for their currencies, “refrain from competitive devaluation” and not target exchange rates for competitive purposes.
Whatever the stated public positions, the effect of quantitative easing is to push down the value of the targeted currency. This is seen most clearly in the case of the Japanese yen, which has fallen by more than 20 percent in recent months.
While the Japanese escaped official criticism—Finance Minister Taro Aso was eager to tell reporters that Japan had met with no objections at the meeting—there are growing criticisms.
South Korean Finance Minister Hyun Oh Seok said the falling yen was a “concern” and called for an orderly exit from the loose monetary policy regime.
Chinese central bank head Zhou Xiachuan, warned: “It is necessary to re-evaluate the marginal benefits and costs of such policies after multiple rounds of monetary easing. Prolonged easing could exacerbate the financial vulnerabilities and affect the stability of the international monetary system.”
German Bundesbank head Jens Weidmann, a member of the European Central Bank governing council, said: “It is clear that the longer an ultra-expansionary monetary policy is pursued, the more the risks increase.”
Commenting on the fears about where quantitative easing was heading, IMF managing director Christine Lagarde said: “We certainly heard from the entire membership [of the IMF] that it is unconventional that central bankers … jumped into an unknown landscape.”
One major concern is the effect of a withdrawal of the monetary stimulus on financial markets. Ending the bond-buying program could produce a sharp drop in the value of these financial assets, prompting a rush for the exits and a rise in interest rates that could spark a further financial crisis, this time embroiling the central banks themselves.

Bombs from Boston to Baghdad: What Is the Value of a Human Life?:

Judged by the media coverage, it is hard not to conclude that western lives are valued much more highly than those of people in Afghanistan, Iraq or the Middle East.
By Lindsey German
April 16, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -”Stop The War” – The bombing in Boston is a tragedy, and everyone should condemn the actions of people who have destroyed the lives of people enjoying themselves watching the marathon.
But last week in Afghanistan a US airstrike killed eleven children and several women. This Afghan bombing is only one of many that are killing civilians every week.
In Iraq bombs go off in crowded areas regularly. A wave of bombings across the country yesterday left at least 75 Iraqis dead.
And in Syria too, there is a daily repetition of carnage that is killing countless civilians.
Judged by the media coverage, it is hard not to conclude that western lives are valued much more highly than those of people in Afghanistan or the Middle East, and that bombs in the middle of major US cities are regarded as more newsworthy than those in the Afghan countryside or in Baghdad.
When commentators and journalists empathise with the victims of the Boston bomb, many will wonder why they give hardly a passing thought for those other victims who were also caught in the middle of their everyday lives, enjoying themselves in the sunshine, shopping in markets or celebrating weddings.
The general rule seems to be ‘out of sight, out of mind’.
But the mayhem wreaked by western intervention in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and elsewhere is not out of the minds of the millions who witness it and live with it every day. Nor is it forgotten by those in the west who opposed these policies and predicted they would create more terrorism, not less.
It is unclear who was responsible for the Boston bombs, with the reports suggesting either a group from the Middle East, or home grown right wing extremists marking Patriot Day.
That hasn’t stopped right wing commentators (step forward Fox News’ commentator) from blaming the Muslims and from Muslims worldwide expressing fears that this new attack would lead to further scapegoating and racism towards them.
Terrorism is now routinely blamed on Muslims even though most Muslims are as horrified by such attacks as anyone else. And even though the most serious terror attack in Europe in recent years was from a right wing extremist in Norway trying to advance his anti immigration and anti Muslim agenda.
Whatever the truth about this latest bombing, the continued refusal to acknowledge the widespread grievances against the US and its allies caused by the wars and US policies in the Middle East will lead to turmoil until political solutions are found.
That solution includes getting all foreign troops out of Afghanistan and the Middle East, ending discrimination against Muslims and supporting justice for the Palestinians.
Not coming any time soon, then?

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The Five Stages Of Collapse, By Dmitry Orlov, Reviewed

By Carolyn Baker

April 08, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -”Carolyn Baker” – Many of us who have been researching collapse for a decade or more repeatedly use the word in writing, speaking, and daily conversation, but few of us have the opportunity to define it with such precision or personal experience as one finds in Dmitry Orlov’s forthcoming book Five Stages of Collapse: A Survivor’s Toolkit (New Society Publishers, 281 pages). I first heard of Dmitry when I was writing for From The Wilderness in 2005 after FTW published “Post-Soviet Lessons For A Post-American Century,” one of Orlov’s first articles in the United States naming our predicament and likely outcome.

Since then I have been a huge fan of Dmitry’s work, and I must concur with Richard Heinberg who says, “Even if I believed collapse were impossible I’d still read everything Dmitry Orlov writes: he’s that entertaining.” Incisive articulation of reality tempered with irrepressible humor and sarcasm define his writing style and not only compel us to stay with what some describe as a “dark Russian perspective,” but reveal a man who has found a way to live with what is so and navigate it with buoyant humanity.

The Five Stages of Collapse is nothing less than a definitive textbook for a hypothetical course entitled “The Collapse Of Industrial Civilization 101” or perhaps a bible of sorts for an imaginary “Institute of Collapse Studies.” While to my knowledge no such courses or organizations presently exist, this book would be an essential aspect of any such entity’s credibility.

Early on, Orlov clearly and cogently defines collapse in general then proceeds to demonstrate the five stages or aspects of civilization in which it is almost certain to unfold: Finance, commerce, politics, society, and culture. In addition, he provides a variety of options for how these aspects of collapse might be navigated, attended by an actual case history relevant to each one. His intention in writing the book can best be summarized by a statement made in the book’s Afterword: “There is no agenda here — just the assumption that collapse will happen, the conjecture that it can be analyzed as unfolding in five distinct phases and, based on quite a bit of research, the conclusion that each phase will require a different set of adaptations from those who wish to survive it.”

Prior to launching into the Five Stages, Orlov states that before arguing for imminent collapse, we must be convinced of the finitude of fossil fuels and other resources, and we must understand that as resources become increasingly scarce, the capacity for global industrial growth ultimately vanishes. And while coming to terms with these two realities overwhelmingly advances the certainty of collapse, nothing persuades us like our own personal experience.

Once we have realized the extent of our predicament and the compelling likelihood of the collapse of industrial civilization, we exit exclusively mental territory and enter the psychological realm, for as Orlov says, “the main impediment to grasping its significance is not intellectual but psychological.”

Enter then the Five Stages of Grief as articulated by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross or the Five Stages of Peak Oil explained by John Michael Greer in his recent book Not The Future We Ordered: Peak Oil, Psychology, And The Myth of Progress or the stages outlined by Linda Buzzell and Sarah Edwards in “The Waking Up Syndrome.” However, Orlov makes clear that what he wishes to provide in this book is not another list of emotional stages but a taxonomy or “mental milestones.” In other words, “Rather than tying each phase to a particular emotion, as in the Kübler-Ross model, the proposed taxonomy ties each of the five stages to the breaching of a specific level of trust, or faith, in the status quo.” His intention is to help us gauge our own collapse preparedness by knowing the Five Stages and how they are likely to play out, then acting accordingly.

I believe that Orlov’s taxonomy is essential, and at the same time, I do not believe enough has yet been articulated about the emotional stages of collapse. I have provided an extensive toolkit of emotional and spiritual preparation in my 2011 book Navigating The Coming Chaos: A Handbook For Inner Transition, but as collapse unfolds, much more work needs to be done on the emotional stages of it, and two of my forthcoming books Collapsing Consciously:Transformative Truths For Turbulent Times and Love In The Long Emergencywill endeavor to offer even more comprehensive insights. I cannot overstate the fact that every stage of collapse is and will be fraught with myriad emotions, and assuming that one can weather them without an enormous commitment to emotional and spiritual preparation is naïve at best and foolhardy at worst.

Financial Collapse

This is a time when “faith in ‘business as usual’ is lost. The future is no longer assumed to resemble the past in any way that allows risk to be assessed and financial assets to be guaranteed. Financial institutions become insolvent; savings are wiped out and access to capital is lost.” Essentially, says Orlov, the way in which the financial aspect of collapse has been dealt with is through “extend and pretend” which does not address the root of the problem, usury. Yet, as he does with all of the stages of collapse, Orlov presents options for cashing out and at the end of the section on financial collapse, offers a vignette of his own family weathering the collapse of the Soviet Union in the late 1980s as well as a case history related to the financial collapse of Iceland.

Certainly, whether it be in financial markets or the loss of one’s employment or the vanishing of one’s retirement pension, the undermining of trust is ubiquitous. Of this Orlov says:

A cultural flip is needed to change from impersonal, commercial relationships to personal relationships based on trust, and the first hurdle, for many people, is in understanding what trust actually is,because there is no innate human quality called trustworthiness, possessed by some people, lacking in others. Rather, it is more along the lines of a generalization concerning a given individual’s behavior over time, within a given relationship. Trust is transactional: a person needs a reason to trust you, and you need a reason to trust that person. There is, however, such a quality as trustfulness: this is the property of small children, tame animals and, most unfortunately for them, many regular, salt-of-the-earth, mainstream Americans. It is of negative survival value in the context of financial collapse.

Referring to the writing of Russian scientist and anarchist, Peter Kropotkin, Orlov emphasizes that humans are social creatures who “thrive through cooperation,” and it seems that the smaller the scale, the more likely that trust will actually function without major conflict.

Ultimately, in financial collapse, decisions must be made about the viability of larger players and who benefits by continually propping them up. According to Orlov, “Iceland’s approach was to let financial companies go bankrupt rather than prop them up with public funds….But a further case can be made that the failure of financial institutions can be a good thing, because it frees up resources for productive activities that benefit the entire society rather than just the rentier class and the über-rich.”

Commercial Collapse

Financial collapse leads to commercial collapse which then leads to political collapse, and the effect of each shock is to make the system as a whole less resilient. In this section Orlov distinguishes the three kinds of commerce that function in the current commercial milieu: trade, barter/tribute, and gift. As financial, commercial, and political collapse exacerbate, Orlov sees trade, the dominant function in industrial societies, being superseded by gift. Whereas “barter involves an external conflict between two conflicting sets of interests that is resolved through negotiation, gift internalizes this conflict in each person. Explicitly and publicly one never gives gifts expecting to get something back. But gift also presupposes a debt of gratitude that is discharged through reciprocity. Nevertheless, with gifts one’s social status is based on one’s generosity and is destroyed by any explicit expectation of reciprocation.”

Orlov’s perspective on gift echoes Charles Eisenstein’s “gift economy” as explained in his groundbreaking book, Sacred Economics. In a video published by The Guardian, Eisenstein argues that, “such a model aims to bring about a workforce driven by passion rather than coerced by money and profit, and he highlights certain co-operative schemes already proving the ideal can be made real.” Eisenstein’swork offers one model for how communities and individuals might respond to financial and commercial collapse and provides an opportunity to begin practicing this strategy in current time.

Most importantly in preparing for commercial collapse, according to Orlov, “you can work on reducing your dependence on impersonal relationships and institutions. You can learn to avoid relying on money and monetary equivalents, and instead learn to rely on gifts and the various extensions and generalizations of gifts. You can create new custom and ritual, laying the foundation for a new culture that is right side up.”

Political Collapse

Following on the heels of financial and commercial collapse is political collapse which is a different animal altogether, and leaves the society open to chaos.

Realistically, however, the police, the military, and the bureaucrats will not quietly go away and “allow the people to self-organize, experiment and come together as autonomous new groups adapted to the new environment in their composition and patterns of self-governance.” The greatest fear of the hierarchy, and of the general population who are terrified of anarchy, is the lack of order. And of course, eventually the nation state itself will vanish. According to Orlov:

In its stead will come a myriad of tiny polities, some squabbling with their neighbors, some living side by side peaceably, but all incapable of launching a single aircraft carrier, never mind starting a world war. But they might be able to build some beautiful cathedrals and opera houses, lavish resources on the arts and on schools of philosophy and use artisanal methods to produce everyday items that will put to shame the mass-produced plastic rubbish of today.

Much of this depends, however, on the issue of scale. The smaller the scale, the greater the likelihood of sustained success. As political collapse exacerbates, state services go away, and we have only to consider some dramatic examples in the United States such as Flint, Michigan, Camden, New Jersey, and Fall River, Massachusetts to see what wider-spread collapse will look like.

What is certain is that law and order will disappear. “Once central authority does collapse,” says Orlov, “an area may lapse into chaos and warlordism for a time, disrupting both licit and illicit trade. Eventually new forms of governance begin to emerge.” Certainly, we can then expect to see mini-mafias proliferate which will opportunistically provide some kind of societal structure and do so with a certain amount of appearance of honesty and fairness without which they could not succeed.

For Orlov, attempting to effect political change in a collapsing society is more than futile. Not only is political collapse unavoidable, but as resources further deplete, the methods of communication on which we have relied for so long will eventually vanish. He suggests that we could make better use of our time by learning some effective ways of communication that do not rely on the Internet. Of this he says: “And so, if you want to achieve a serious political effect, my suggestion is that you sit back Buddha-like, fold your arms, and do some deep breathing exercises. Then you should work on developing someinterpersonal skills that don’t need to be mediated by electronics.”

This contention also reinforces mine, namely that emotional preparation/inner work/communication skills are every bit as urgent as the logistical preparations we are making in terms of food, water, shelter, security, and health maintenance.

Social Collapse

For Orlov, in social collapse: “Faith that ‘your people will take care of you’ is lost, as local social institutions, be they charities or other groups that rush in to fill the power vacuum, run out of resources or fail through internal conflict.” For this reason, community organizing is futile because “the central problem with community organizing is that the sort of community that stands a chance post-collapse is simply unacceptable pre-collapse: it is illegal, it is uncomfortable and it is unsafe. No reasonable person would want any part of it.”

The old rules must be supplanted by new ones. There will be no time or resources for the rules by which society currently operates to be changed through lobbying, deliberation, legislation, and litigation. Again, one can anticipate obstacles from the vested interests:

By default, the procedure for those who wish to survive will be to universally disregard the old rules and to make up new rules as they go along, but this is bound to cause mayhem and much loss of life. The best-case scenario is that the old rules are consigned to oblivion quickly and decisively. The public at large will not be the major impediment to making the necessary changes. Rather, it will be the vested interests at every level — the political class, the financial elite, professional associations, property and business owners and, last but not least, the lawyers — who will try to block them at every turn. They will not release their grip on society voluntarily, so it is best to make plans to forestall and thwart their efforts….The old rules will not work, but the new ones might, depending on what they are. You might want to give the new rules some thought ahead of time, perhaps even test themout under the guise of emergency preparation training.

Here Orlov reminds us that as jobs and services go away, people will have much more time on their hands, and people will begin engaging with others who are in a similar situation so that the spontaneous regeneration of the community will automatically be engendered by the construction of new rules made by ordinary people who are no longer invested in the consumeristic system.

Some help can come from religious groups or communities and charitable organizations (many of which are religious). Historically, many of them have weathered extremely troubled times and have ensured the survival of their own and surrounding communities. In a disintegrating, corrupt, and unreformable political system, why fight battles that have already been won? Working with religious institutions or communities could prove extremely useful in making new rules and regenerating communities.

Like Orlov, I believe that collapse will not unfold in a monolithic, standardized manner. I am fond of saying that it will play out in a “lumpy” fashion with some regions looking very different from others. In some communities, people will come together and cooperate, and in other communities they will not.

Cultural Collapse

Orlov defines cultural collapse in this way: “Faith in the goodness of humanity is lost. People lose their capacity for ‘kindness, generosity, consideration, affection, honesty, hospitality, compassion, charity.’ Families disband and compete as individuals for scarce resources. The new motto becomes ‘May you die today so that I can die tomorrow’.”

He suggests that we must consciously widen our circle of trust by beginning to trust people outside it in small ways and then deepening that trust when they prove trustworthy. To accomplish this, we need to swim upstream against the culture’s prevailing attitude of not recognizing or not seeing others. Let other know that you see them, and begin trusting in small ways.

Additionally, we must also preserve the knowledge we deem worth preserving by speaking it orally to each other and to our children. This is especially important in a collapsing world where electronic information, libraries, and many forms of written information may disappear. The second-best means of preserving this knowledge is by writing it down and teaching it to children.

In societal collapse, the family will become increasingly important. Orlov argues that “the family can be viewed as a microcosm of society — or society as a meta-family. This line of reasoning leads to a radical conclusion: that family is society, while larger groups are illusory. At the rock bottom of human survival, there is no individual and there is no state; there is only the family, or, if there isn’t, there is something that’s not quite human — or there is nothing at all.”

Orlov ends the book with an invitation to his readers to allow their absorption of collapse information to give them a “secret post-collapse identity” that will profoundly alter how they live their lives. Eventually, the reader will meet others who have adapted their own post-collapse identities, and very rich conversations might ensue. But of course, that will be all about trust, and trust, as Orlov reminds us, is built on actions, not words. Moreover, he cautions the reader not even to trust him “just because,” but rather he asserts, “you should think for yourself, act on your thoughts and, if that works for you, learn to trust yourself. All I want to do is give you a gentle nudge in that direction.”

Most importantly, Dmitry Orlov leaves us with perhaps the most profound and pivotal sentence of the book: “Collapse is not a nightmare scenario to be avoided at all costs but part of the normal, unalterable ebb and flow of human history, and the widespread tendency to block it out of our worldview is, to put it very mildly, maladaptive.” The Five Stages of Collapse, I believe, is required reading for long-term, strategic collapse preparation.

CAROLYN BAKER, Ph.D., was an adjunct professor of history and psychology for 11 years and a psychotherapist in private practice for 17 years. (She is not, and never has been, a licensed psychologist.)

Her latest book Sacred Demise: Walking The Spiritual Path of Industrial Civilization’s Collapse, is unique in its offering of emotional and spiritual tools for preparing for living in a post-industrial world. Carolyn’s forthcoming book is Navigating The Coming Chaos: A Handbook For Inner Transition. Her other books include: Coming Out From Christian Fundamentalism: Affirming Sensuality, Social Justice, and The Sacred (2007) , U.S. History Uncensored: What Your High School Textbook Didn’t Tell You (2006) and The Journey of Forgiveness, (2000) All may be purchased at this site. She is available for speaking engagements and author events and can be contacted at carolyn@carolynbaker.net.

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The South also rises

By Pepe Escobar

The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South
by Vijay Prashad

It is not so far-fetched to imagine Walter Benjamin’s Angel of History succumbing to the temptation, and stressing that the time of the Global South has finally come.

Oh yes, it will be a long, arduous and winding road. But would the Google/Facebook generation need only one textbook detailing the stuff of dreams, trials and tribulations of the developing world in the early 21st century, this would be it, Vijay Prashad’s just published The Poorer Nations.

Call it the post-modern, digital follow-up to Frantz Fanon’s classicThe Wretched of the Earth.

This is an absolutely essential book to be read alongside another delight written by a global Asian, Pankaj Mishra’s From the Ruins of Empire: The Revolt Against the West and the Remaking of Asia, which uses key figures such as Jamal al-Din al-Afghani, Liang Qichao and Rabindranath Tagore to tell an extraordinary story.

Prashad, director of international studies at Trinity College, Connecticut, and author of the splendid The Darker Nations, which should be read as a preamble to this book, sets the scene right from the start – using the requisite Fanon quote; by 1961, what was configured was a fight between the Third World Project (“for peace, for bread and for justice”) and the Atlantic Project. Key actors: the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM), the de facto secretariat of the Third World Project, and the Group of 77 developing nations, created in 1964 to act on behalf of NAM in the United Nations.

The founders of the NAM enjoyed iconic status in the post-colonial world; Jawaharlal Nehru in India, Gamal Abdel Nasser in Egypt, Sukarno in Indonesia, Josip Broz Tito in Yugoslavia. Yet they knew this was an uphill battle. As Prashad notes, “the UN had been hijacked by the five permanent members of the Security Council. The IMF [International Monetary Fund] and the World Bank had been captured by the Atlantic powers, and the GATT [General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade, precursor to the World Trade Organization] was designed to undermine any attempt by the new nations to revise the international economic order”.

As for the Atlantic Project, a 1969 quote from Henry Kissinger – co-destructor of Cambodia, Pinochet enabler, disgusted Saudi ally (the “most feckless and gutless of the Arabs”) and praiser-in-chief of the Iranian Shah (“a tough, mean guy”) – would suffice: “Nothing important can come from the South. The axis of history starts in Moscow, goes to Bonn, crosses over to Washington, and then goes to Tokyo. What happens in the South is of no importance.”

Atlanticists were fiercely against the “no importance” Third World Project, but also against social democracy and communism. Their Holy Grail was to wallow in easy profits provided by a new global geography of production, “technological shifts that enabled firms to take advantage of differential wage rates” – most of all, those very low wages paid all across East Asia.

So the stage was set for the emergence of neoliberalism. Here Prashad moves in parallel with the indispensable David Harvey, detailing how the Global South became ripe to be fully (re)exploited; bye bye national liberation ideas of collective good.

Keep the barbarians out 
With the IMF currently part of the troika dictating austerity to most of Western Europe (alongside the European Commission and the European Central Bank), it’s easy to forget that in 1944 things were already pretty warped. The developing world had no say whatsoever in Bretton Woods, not to mention any sort of control over the UN’s five-member Security Council. It was the silence of the lambs; the wolves prevailed, and inequality was set in stone.

Prashad proceeds with the indispensable details of how the US dollar became the effective world currency, with the US swinging the price of the dollar globally, regardless of any consequences; the formation of the Group of Seven as essentially an anti-developing world mechanism (and not anti-Soviet); and of course the much-dreaded Trilateral Commission, set up by Chase Manhattan’s David Rockefeller to impose the will of the North against the South.

And guess who was the Trilateral’s intellectual architect? The ineffable Zbigniew Brzezinski, later president Jimmy Carter’s consigliere. Dr Zbig wanted to “contain the “contagious threat of global anarchy”. Divide and rule, once again; the periphery needed to be put in its place.

By the way, one should always remember that in his 1997 epicThe Grand Chessboard, Dr Zbig, who became the foreign policy adviser to Barack Obama in 2008, wrote, “The three grand imperatives of imperial geo-strategy are to prevent collusion and maintain security dependence among the vassals, to keep tributaries pliant and protected, and to keep the barbarians from coming together.” For a long while the “vassals” were easily contained; but Dr Zbig, one step ahead of Kissinger, was already planning how to contain the two key “barbarians”, ascending Eurasian powers Russia and China.

The Group of Seven anyway was a roaring success, pushing its “theory of governance” everywhere, implemented by – who else – the Bretton Woods mafia. Prashad neatly defines it: “What went by the name of neoliberalism was less a coherent economic doctrine than a fairly straightforward campaign by the propertied classes to maintain or restore their position of dominance”, via the David Harvey-coined “accumulation by dispossession”, now also known by millions of Europeans under the codename “austerity”.

The numbers tell the story. In 1981, the net flow of capital to the Third World was $35.2 billion. In 1987, $30.7 billion left the Third World for Western banks. Praise the Lord and his law set in stone, also known as Structural Adjustment, based on “conditionality” (savage privatization, deregulation, destruction of social services, financial “liberalization”).

Paraphrasing Dylan, when you got nothing, you still got this nothing to lose. There was never any political strategy by the North to deal with the debt crisis of the 1980s. The Global South lambs were only allowed in a sorry procession to receive their structural adjustment consecrated host one by one.

But still that was not enough. With the fall of the USSR, Washington was free to develop Full Spectrum Dominance. Those who did not fully abide were branded “rogue states” – as in Cuba, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and even, for a while, Malaysia (because it would not bow to the IMF).

But then, slowly but surely, the Global South began to rise. Prashad details the reasons – the commodity boom driven by China; commodity profits improving Latin American finances; more foreign direct investment roaming the world. The Global South started trading more within itself.

Then, in June 2003, at the margins of the Group of Eight gathering in Evian, France, emerged something called IBSA (the India-Brazil-South Africa Dialogue). IBSA was keen to “maximize the benefits of globalization” and promote sustained economic growth. Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim defined it at the time as “an ideology in the best sense of the word – an ideology of democracy, diversity, tolerance, a search for cooperation”.

In parallel, China was – what else – booming. It’s essential to remind anyone at this point of that fateful November 1978 trip by Deng Xiaoping to Singapore, where he was hosted by Lee Kuan Yew; Prashad could have built a whole chapter around it. This was the clincher. Deng knew right away that he would milk the guanxi (“connections”) of the Chinese diaspora for all it’s worth. I’ll never forget my very own first visit to Shenzhen only one month after Deng’s fabled Southern Tour of January 1992. That’s when the boom really started. At the time, I felt I was mostly neck-deep in Maoist China.

Fast forward to China now helping to develop Africa. Vast swathes of the developing world would not consider blindly adopting a zhongguo moshi - the Chinese Model. It’s more like Prashad introducing this wonderful quote from Donald Kaberuka, a former minister of finance in Rwanda and now president of the African Development Bank: “We can learn from [the Chinese] how to organize our trade policy, to move from low to middle income status, to educate our children in skills and areas that pay off in just a couple of years.”

BRIC by BRIC
Which brings us to the BRICS, created as a group in 2009 out of the BRIC-IBSA union – and now the top locomotive of the Global South.

By then, inevitably, Blame China had already become an established fine art in Washington; the Chinese must imperatively become consumers. They are, and they will – but in their own rhythm, and following their own political model.

Even the IMF already admits that by 2016 the US may cease to be the world’s largest economy. So the great Fernand Braudel was already right when he wrote The Perspective of the World: Civilization and Capitalism, Fifteenth- Eighteenth Century, stressing this would be the “sign of autumn” for Atlantic hegemony.

Of course there are huge problems with the BRICS, as Prashad details. Their domestic policies can indeed be interpreted as a sort of “neoliberalism with Southern characteristics”. They are far from being an ideological alternative to neoliberalism. They have been helpless to counteract the overwhelming military hegemony of the US and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (see, for instance, the Libya fiasco). And they are not the embryo of a revolutionary shift in the world order.

But at least they are “allowing a breath of fresh air to oxygenate the stagnant world of neoliberal imperialism”.

The fresh air will circulate in the form of a new development bank, a BRICS Bank of the South version of the South American Banco del Sur, founded in 2009 (here’s Prashad’s critical take. China and Brazil have set up a $30 billion currency swap deal to pay for trade, bypassing the US dollar. Beijing and Moscow are deepening their strategic partnership. (See BRICS go over the wall, Asia Times Online, March 26, 2013.)

The BRICS as they stand – three major commodities producers plus two major commodities consumers trying to find a way out of a Western-conducted disaster – are just a start. They are already evolving as a powerful geopolitical actor stressing multi-polarity. They are bound to be joined by the next BRICS – the MIST (Mexico, Indonesia, South Korea and Turkey). And don’t forget Iran. Time for BRICS MIIST?

What’s graphically obvious is that the Global South has had enough – from the ravages of casino turbo-capitalism to NATO playing Robocop from North Africa to Southwest Asia, not to mention Eurasia being encircled by that Dr Strangelove chimera – a missile shield.

The Global South remains fraught with absurdities; one just has to think of the oil and gas GCC petro-monarchies – those paragons of “democracy” – now configured as an annex to NATO. Few developments lately have been so appalling as the Arab League licking their NATO master’s boots, breaking international law to install dodgy Syrian “rebels” in the chair of a sovereign state, one of its very own founding members.

Weird scenes inside the goldmine 
The fall of neoliberalism will be bloody – and it will take time. Prashad attempts an objective analysis in terms of the unity of the Global South, drawing on the work of Indian Marxist Prabhat Patnaik.

Patnaik is a sound fellow. He knows that “a coordinated global resistance is not on the horizon”. Instead, “he emphasizes the centrality of building resistance within the nation-state, and his analysis can easily be extended to regions (he writes mainly of India, but the analysis he provides is equally applicable to the Bolivarian experiments in Latin America)”.

So the road map spells tackling the “peasant question”, which is essentially about land and rights; and to concentrate on the immediate struggles of improving people’s living and working conditions. Inevitably Prashad has to refer to Bolivian vice president Alvaro Garcia Linera, one of Latin America’s top contemporary intellectuals.

In many aspects, where the emancipation of the Global South is more advanced is in parts of South America; I was hugely impressed when I was in Bolivia in early 2008. Prashad neatly summarizes Linera’s analysis of how the process develops:

It begins with a crisis of the state that enables a ”dissident social bloc” to mobilize the people into a political project. A ”catastrophic stand-off” develops between the bloc of power and the bloc of the people, which in the case of Latin America was able to be resolved for the moment on the side of the people. The new government must then ”convert opposition demands into acts of state,” and build a deeper and broader hegemony by ”combining the ideas of mobilized society with material resources provided by or via the state.” The turning point (”point of bifurcation”), for Garcia Linera, comes through a ”series of confrontations” between the blocs that are resolved in unexpected ways, with either the consolidation of the new situation or the reconstitution of the old. We are at or near the point of bifurcation. What will come next cannot be predicted.

What is definitely known by now by the best minds in Asia, Africa and Latin America, is that there was never an end of history, as parroted by pathetic orphans of Hegel; and there was never an end of geography, as parroted by “world is flat” globalization dancing fools. The Global South’s intellectual liberation from the North is finally on. And it’s irreversible. There’s no turning back to the old order. If this was a movie, it would be 1968 replayed all over again – full time, all the time; let’s be realists, and demand, and implement, the impossible.

The Poorer Nations: A Possible History of the Global South by Vijay Prashad. Verso, March 2013. ISBN-10: 1844679527. Price US$26. 300 pages.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is 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.)

Posted Apr 5, ’13

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/World/WOR-01-050413.html

Global Paradox: Peace Not Wars

By Mahboob A. Khawaja, PhD.
“Lies of the Iraq War” the 10th anniversary of the Iraq’s genocide approximately 3 million human beings massacred and human habitats destroyed under the false pretext of WMD. This week, the global news media hurriedly doing the damage control of its complacent image and showing the belated facts of the bogus “War on Terror.” The facts were facts in March 2003, when George Bush, the Congress and Tony Blair planned aggression against the innocent people of Iraq, the Western news media served as a weapon to launch the cruel war. Now it wants to distance itself and perhaps repair the self-inflicted and well sponsored atrocities carried out against the mankind.
April 03, 2013 “Information Clearing House” – The Western warriors with small wisdom and big thinking are looking for an escape route from the facts of life. “Lies of the Iraq War” would simply reaffirm, not change human perceptions and forcefully depict on screen how cruel they are like the Russian Ivan the Terrible who roasted innocent people and burnt alive citizens to entertain the psycho pathetic mindset. Likewise, George Bush and his neo-conservative accomplice and Tony Blair – the leaders who claim to lead some of the top most Western democracies. Leaders and their public institutions failed miserably to offer fiction instead of facts. They lied and deceived the people and perpetuated heinous crimes against the mankind. The then German Foreign Minister and Chair of the UN Security Council session made it clear, he knew the facts that Colin Powell was lying to the world. No one is remorseful for the loss of millions and destructions of the life and habitats in Iraq. They simply attribute all reasoning to the “intelligence failure” without any accountability of those who were in power and architect of the Iraq war. The Western nations under NATO waging the bogus “War on Terrorism” used the mass media as a weapon to misinform and deceive the public of a possible threat to their life and security. There exists a wide gulf between the aspirations of the masses in the Western nations and thinking of the few warmongering leaders they have in the ruling elite. People want peace not celebration of bogus wars on the innocent humanity.
Tom Engelhardt (“The 12th Anniversary of American Cowardice What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You.” Information Clearing House: 3.28.2013), co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of many publications including The United States of Fear offers a penetrating insight to the US war culture:
It’s true that, last week, few in Congress cared to discuss, no less memorialize, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. Nonetheless, two anniversaries of American disasters and crimes abroad — the “mission accomplished” debacleof 2003 and the 45th anniversaryof the My Lai massacre — were at least noted in passing in our world. …..Or what about celebrating the 12th anniversary of Congress’s Authorization for Use of Military Force, the joint resolution that a panicked and cowed body passed on September 14, 2001? It wasn’t a declaration of war — there was no one to declare war on — but an open-ended grant to the president of the unfettered power to use “all necessary and appropriate force” in what would become a never-ending (and still expanding) “Global War on Terror.
Still, in our post-9/11 world, there are so many other anniversaries from hell whose silver linings don’t get noticed. Take this April. It will be the ninth anniversary of the widespread release of the now infamous photos of torture, abuse, and humiliation from Abu Ghraib. In case you’ve forgotten, that was Saddam Hussein’s old prison where the U.S. military taught the fallen Iraqi dictator a trick or two about the destruction of human beings. Shouldn’t there be an anniversary of some note there? I mean, how many cultures have turneddog collars(and the dogsthat go with them),thumbs-up signsover dead bodies, and a mockeryof the crucified Christ into screensavers?
Wars and aggressions kill people and do not produce peace and harmony but resentment and degeneration. History illustrates when a nation or its leaders challenge the limits of the Laws of God and approach near the end of their lifespan, insanity takes-over common sense and they tend to ignore warnings and reject all voices of reason. Most of the conscientiously responsible Western scholars and political intellectuals are getting increasingly concerned, not to identify their interests with the minority ruling elite of the United States and Britain as these war criminals Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair and their role in large scale massacres of the civilians and using uranium powered missile for destruction of human habitats in Fulljah, Iraq, and killings of civilians by drone attacks in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Professor John Esposito of Georgetown University – a distinguish scholar of Western-Islamic civilizations (author of Unholy War and What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam), makes a candid observation: “in many parts of the Muslim world the war against global terrorism has come to be viewed as a war against Islam and Muslims. The image of America has become that of a neo-imperial power that has sought to redraw the map of the Middle East and the Muslim world, influenced by an unholy alliance of neoconservatives and the militant Christian right.”
Once again, humanity appears to have been pushed back to the shameful annals of the European Dark Ages. In search of new animosity, few utopian scholars wanted to distract the humanity after the end of the Cold War to keep the liberal democracy working and ensure electoral voters active participation. In early 90’s, Samuel Huntington reinvented and re-ignited the old cliché – “a clash of civilizations” between the West and Islam – a new age of confrontation between the predominantly technologically advanced culture of the West and the subdued interdependent societal religious culture of the Muslim world. The powerful mass media and the official policy makers throughout the West, fuel the insane imagery that the Arabs and Muslims are “fundamentalists” and “terrorists.” Every day, the corporate run media outlets organize massive propaganda campaign alleging Al-Qaeda involvement virtually in all conflict situations across the Middle East, West Africa and Asia and elsewhere. The facts remain unchallenged that al-Qaeda was planned and created by the CIA and they know well it does not exist anymore as an active body of political activists pursuing any strategic goals against the Western highly sophisticated war machines, be it in Afghanistan, Pakistan or other locations.
Analyzing the contemporary global affairs, the image of a single most World Power is fixed and unquestionable, be it fair or foul. The net outcome shows the manufactured imagery of Muslims as the alleged terrorists and the sole inheritor of the 21st century political ideology. With massive corporate sponsorships and the Western mass media collaborative alliances, Islamic civilization is the only targeted client of this emerging business. What about the Arabs and Muslims, have they done anything to challenge the absurdity of the so called “war on terrorism” and to safeguard their political interests and human survivability?
There are no educated, conscientious or publicly chosen leaders in the Arab- Muslim world except the recent President Morsi of Egypt and political leaders inTunisia. The authoritarian ruling elite are the outcome of neo-colonialism. There are no Muslim institutions to provide honest analyses on the global political affairs or reflect on the possible remedies. Throughout the Arab-Muslim world, there is not a single established university teaching global peace, security and conflict management – the institutions dealing with the present and envisioning the future that the Western nations are built upon for change and development. Leaderless Muslim masses appear desperate to look for a visionary and intelligent leader to offer some consolence and intellectual security. Not so, in the Arabs or Muslim countries, leaders live in palaces, not with people. All the leaders are pre-screened by the CIA and the World Bank before taking a shape and form to move into a palace. Accordingly, Saddam Hussein, Shah of Iran, General Musharaf, Zardari and Karzai fit into that facilitated image and governance.
The neo-colonial rulers have helped the Colonial Masters to make the Muslim masses helpless victim of their warmongering and inhuman atrocities being carried out at Gutanamo Bay, Abu Ghraib Prison, and Massacre at Fullajah, Haditah, Bughdad, Kandhar, South-North Waziristan-Pakistan and elsewhere. There is no Sultan Salahuddin Ayoubi that the European would fear for centuries to come, there are no Sultan Babyar and Sheikh Izzuddin to give blowing defeats to Halaqu Khan – the Mongol warlord, and no Allama Iqbal or Ali Shariati to awake the sleeping folks and guide the believers to success.
If there were educated and intelligent leaders in the Muslim world, one could reason the unreason. But the oil exporting Arab leaders operate from a position of political weakness, not strength to play any useful role in international politics. They have built palaces over moving sand, not institutions to educate and protect the interest of the Muslim Ummah. Imagine the dichotomy of the living history, the Christian Crusaders came, ransacked and killed 170, 000 Muslims just in one day to occupy Jerusalem. Despite assurances of peace and religious sanctity, the Crusaders moved horses in blood-flown streets to capture Jerusalem. When Sultan Salahuddin Ayoubi reconquered Jerusalem, the visionary leader allowed and escorted all the Christian Crusaders to safety with human dignity, honor and material wealth. History shall describe a corporate world run by greed and animalistic savagery, preoccupied to influence and control the destinies of the living human beings under the guise of economic feasibility and market interests.
Zbigniew Brzezinski (The Grand Chessboard, 1997), former Security Advisor to President Carter, makes an historical reference: “American primacy and its geostrategic imperatives describe American priorities as the economic subjugation of the Soviet Union and the control of Central Asia and the Middle East.” With the continued wars of aggressions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, the international institutions overwhelmingly controlled and managed by the Western Powers have become irrelevant to the 21st century needs of the global humanity. Across the Western world, masses vigorously oppose the on-going deadly wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. In wars people are killed, leaders are not. None of the Western leaders have ever fought a war on the real front. Simply put, there are politicians lacking reason and honesty of purpose, and are engaged in time killing discussions. The continued wars serve the interest of the corporate establishments and the Western economies. The image of deliberately dismantled system of global governance is meant to appease the economically influential and politically smart Western elite. Hitler and Mussolini were Europeans, not Arabs or Muslims, and they did not rule alone on their own, as there were millions to cheer them up and support their leadership egos with galvanized news media alignment of the time, and their personal ideologies as law and order of the day. At the initial stages of the 21st century, the replica is exactly the same from the pages of history, only the names and titles have been changed and adjusted – a small minority of ‘sick puppies’ are determined to occupy the oil and gas resources and to wipe out the Arabs and Islamic civilization under the guise of terrorism.
Changing the names of Hitler and Mussolini, now historian and prosecutors responsible for conducting the war crimes will mention Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Blair and many more. Britain knows what it lost, cannot regain in colonial history, but the American empire has yet to learn the hard lessons. It is more fearful that soon it could be replaced by China in combination of another economically viable power or group of nations from the emerging rival economies of Asia. Professor John Esposito (Unholy War and What Everyone Needs to Know about Islam). provides us the History Lessons in a rational context:
“An important lesson of history is that rulers and nations do rise and fall. Unforeseen circumstances can bring up unanticipated change. Few expected the breakup of the Soviet Union and the liberation of Eastern Europe to occur when they did ……now is the time for those in all walks of life (political, economic, military, media and academic) who wish to see a new order not to be silenced but to speak out, organize, vote and be willing when necessary to make sacrifices in promoting a new global order.”
On the 10th anniversary of the Iraqi genocide, there were no statements issued by the Obama administration or apologies by British politicians. Even the BBC broadcast simply offered visual facts and commentaries but no remorse for the dreadful crimes against the living mankind. Tom Ingelhardt (“The 12th Anniversary of American Cowardice What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You.” Information Clearing House: 3.28.2013), sums up the paradox of contemporary global affairs – how the history will judge the warmongers by their actions or claims:
“We should already know more than enough to be horrified by the state of our American world. It should disturb us deeply that a government of, by, and for the war-makers, intelligence operatives, bureaucrats, privatizing mercenary corporations, surveillers, torturers, and assassins is thriving in Washington. As for the people — that’s us — in these last years, we largely weren’t there, even as the very idea of a government of, by, and for us bit the dust, and our leaders felt increasingly unconstrained when committing acts of shame in our name. So perhaps the last overlooked anniversary of these years might be the 12th anniversary of American cowardice. You can choose the exact date yourself; anytime this fall will do. At that moment, Americans should feel free to celebrate a time when, for our “safety,” and in a state of anger and paralyzing fear, we gave up the democratic ghost.”
“Among the many truths in that still-to-be-written secret history of our American world would be this: we the people have no idea just how, in these years, we’ve hurt ourselves.”
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(Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution, and comparative Western-Islamic cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest one: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, May 2012)

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Crises of Capitalism


Video

David Harvey looks beyond capitalism towards a new social order. Can we find a more responsible, just, and humane economic system?

This RSA Animate was taken from a lecture given as part of the RSA’s free public lecture programme. The RSA is a 258 year-old charity devoted to driving social progress and spreading world-changing ideas. For more information, visit http://www.thersa.org

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34459.htm

Man and Humanity in Search of Peace and New Future

By Mahboob A. Khawaja

March 28, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -  “The hell of human suffering, evil and oppression is paved with good intentions. The men who have most injured and oppressed humanity, who have most deeply sinned against it, were according to their standards and their conscience good men; what was bad in them, what wrought moral evil and cruelty, treason to truth and progress, was not at all in their intentions, in their purpose, in their personal character, but in their opinions.” – (Robert Briffault. The Making of Humanity, London, 1918)

Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of Mankind is Man. – (Alexander Pope “An Essay on Man”)

The mankind stands at its most tormenting crossroads – a time fraught with insane tragedies, man seeing man as a wild beast to be haunted and sadistic leaders and decadent superpowers forging bogus wars, planned massacres and environmental disasters all in a knowledge-driven, information age global culture of citizenry participation and political activism wanting to co-exist in peace and harmony within the encompassed and Living Universe. Throughout history men of power and influence commit horrible crimes against the humanity of which they are an essential part. Why? The answer rests with their individualistic absolutism and mindset. Is it part of the human nature that man should be cruel to man? The primitive scope is now enlarged to encompass crimes against all the living things, the universe and whatever it contains. We are at a RISK of Extinction.

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Global warriors are the elite class born to rule – the men of king, who are most often hated and feared and always dream of glory and triumph to achieve at a cost of ruthlessness, triviality and success leading to degeneration and viciousness across the human societies. They are influential to defy accountability for their crimes. George Bush and Tony Blair both despite being indicted by an International Tribunal for crimes against the humanity in Iraq are free and untouchable. Greg Felton (“1936 and the illusion of progress — Part I”: Mediamonitors.net: 3/31/2011) takes us to an historical insight – the aggression by a fascist regime against a helpless neighbor – a viewpoint very much intact in the contemporary global peace and security context:

“The lessons of history are lost because we are careful to compartmentalize them to the time they happened and treat them as museum pieces. Our governing myths of progress and the perfectibility of man instill in us the conceit that whatever happened “back then” could not have any meaning today because we know so much more and the world is so much different……..The criminals and victims may have changed in 75 years, but the polite rationalizations we offer up to appease international crime today are pretty much the same.”

Recently, a global Think-Tank gathering at Davos, Switzerland showed the organizing muscles of affluent bankers, politicians and billionaires and some ruling elite taken from the painful tragedies of the poor and left-over human beings in other parts of the world. It is unknown who invites who and what criterion is implied to select the rich and 1% affluent ruling elite under questioning in functional Western democracies. They have no legitimacy from the democratic masses to talk about their future. Does this mean only rich and most powerful entities are presumed intelligent and capable of change and future-making? This is naive historical thinking lingering on to this day. If so, it will undermine Reason and defy the logic of moral and intellectual advancements up to the 21st century. Bankers and few ruling elite are part of the problems, not solutions. Bankers would be obliged to save the banks, not the humanity as appears to be the case of Cyprus financial bankruptcy under the EU 10 billion Euro emergency loan. Bankers will deprive the common Cypriot folks of their lifelong savings and assets to impose the EU dictates. To them mankind is just numbers and digits and the same is viewed by the warmongers. Time and history have articulated new paradigms of change and future-making. Nobody is sure, how to imagine the future except some assumptions of the few affluent whose business will be at stake if future turns out to be problematic and uncertain. Charles A Kupchan (“From the American Century to the Competition Century- Problem of Grand Strategy” ISN- International Security Network: 11/19/2012) attempts to imagine the contextual framework:

While most emerging powers agree that we are entering a post-Western world, there is little consensus on what this world will actually look like. As a result, the grand strategies they develop will confront alternative and competing visions of what constitutes the new international order. “If the world’s emerging powers enjoyed a consensus among themselves about the nature of the post-Western world, they could drive the debate about the shape of the coming era. But rising powers are far from arriving at a shared view of the rules of the next order….. They know what they do not want — a world under the continued hegemony of the West. But they do not have a coherent vision of what should replace the Western order. Indeed, with the exception of China, which has well-funded ministries and think tanks tasked with mapping out the country’s grand strategy, other rising powers are just getting in the game. “

To many conscientious scholars, there are serious problems amongst the most powerful nations and political leaders about the future-making. They are bankrupt in ideas and practices and failure in the present, how could they be a guiding force for the future? It is no longer the world of 1945 after the German defeat that allied will be unchallenged. The new emerging powers and viable trading nations such as China, India, Brazil, Japan, South Korea, Turkey, Iran, Pakistan, Taiwan and Indonesia and few other could well be active participants in making a promising future irrespective of the former big powers. There is no end game in dealing with the challenges of future. One could imagine of increasing interactive inputs from the thoughts and priorities of the informed global citizenry to be a decisive force in future-making. It is the future of humanity, not of the 1% ruling and exploitative class.

Many theoreticians focus on competitive market strategies to change and societal development. Free markets and stock exchanges do not change human thinking and behavior nor do they create anew moral and intellectual future for the mankind. Markets are subservient to the will of the 1% whereas 99 % are outsiders – the oppressed species. Global bankers and financial strategists work in curves- patchwork – the work of hourly paid media jockeys to convince human conscience that something good will benefit the deprived and denied 99% out of the economy of the few- 1%. Those accumulating massive wealth and material resources will never share it with the neglected ones. If past and present are any reference point, a different future is highly contentious.

Adam W. Parsons (“Why We Should All Be Talking About Global Sharing.” Dissident Voice: 11/7/2012) attempts to outline a new foresight to make sharing – a global phenomenon:

It’s as if the age-old practice of sharing is being recollected, re-learned and re-invented in innovative new ways to deal with the multiple crises of the 21st Century. Far from being a primitive behaviour practised only in traditional societies, sharing presents a new field of study and a new way of life as well as being a simple, everyday practice among families and friends. There is much talk now of the exciting promise of the gift economy, barter systems, mutual aid societies, time banks and many other modes of exchange that are outside of the mainstream monetary system……… a wealth of literature has recently emerged that emphasises how human beings are hardwired to cooperate and share, with far-reaching implications for how we organise our political and economic systems. Together, these findings challenge many of the core assumptions of classical economic theory, in particular, the firmly-held notion that people are inherently selfish, competitive, acquisitive and individualistic by nature – assumptions that have long been used to justify an unfair economic system. Meanwhile, the resurgence of scholarly and public interest in ‘the commons’ is helping to design new systems for sharing and conserving the resources of both society and nature, including natural resources, cultural traditions and knowledge. As many people from all of these diverse fields are saying, the principle of sharing is a concept around which we can restructure our societies and use to help guide us in the urgent process of world rehabilitation.

Shamefully to many leading Western leaders, the concept of “Sharing” and “Hope” are not the practical economic-political manifestations for people-oriented change and globalization. One wonders, how would the so called militarily powerful but financially bankrupt nations – the Europeans, America and Asian and Africans-the poorest ones surviving on borrowed time and money could be equal partners in sharing with the rest of the world. Everywhere nationalism and national political interests are the corner stones of policies and practices. The 21st century age of knowledge and human expectations offer a grim picture of the present and future in-waiting. The so called civilized nations failed to produce intelligent and responsible leaders to serve the mankind. Many hourly paid intellectuals aligned with the mainstream news apparatus would not dare to touch such vital societal issues. Most politicians embracing leadership role are inept, greedy, self-centered who heavily rely on hired advisors and strategists to win the election campaigns, but not to lead the nation. Once in power, they become irrelevant, problematic and paranoid to see the people’s interests. They lose sense of reality and awareness and most importantly, consciousness of the self and the environment around them. People who become psychopath and who baffle with time and tides of political mismanagement and destroy culture and civilizations to overrun those who challenge obsessed ignorance and viciousness.

Charles A Kupchan (“From the American Century to the Competition Century- Problem of Grand Strategy” ISN- International Security Network: 11/19/2012) explains the contextual synthesis:

“As power becomes more broadly distributed across the globe, the diverging interests and strategic visions of emerging powers will ensure that the next world will be “no one’s world.” The global turn will bring to an end the era of the West’s material and ideological dominance. But what comes next will not be the Chinese century, the Asian century, or anyone else’s century. Rather, “no one’s world” will exhibit striking diversity. Alternative conceptions of domestic and international order will compete and coexist on the global stage. For the first time in history, an interdependent world will be without a center of gravity or global guardian. Previous eras were, of course, home to a multipolar landscape and a broad array of approaches to governance and commerce. But prior to the advance of globalization during the 19th century, centers of power rarely interacted with one another.”

Peace is an integral part of Man – the Chief Creation of God on Earth. Man, the embodiment of moral, intellectual faculties and reasoning synchronizing ideas and ideals within the physical construct to feel, think, live and flourish. Man will be disconnected with the Nature of Things if he fails to establish and maintain a balanced relationships within the Universe in which he exits. Man is humanity, humanity is Man- the organized grand network of natural processes which facilitate us to co-exist with the Nature of Things – the revealed enriched moral-spiritual Universe and of the inseparable natural bonds that the most hated and most feared contemporary political warlords of the globe are set to undermine for the self aggrandizement of the few. Those who violate the sanctity of this natural relationship, ultimately become egomaniac, fearful of the self to rundown others. How to safeguard the interests of the mankind and to ensure its survival from the known and unknown conspiracies, onslaught, and extinction of life and be able to live in harmonized global culture of peace, understanding and civilizations? Japan’s tsunami, Fukushima nuclear disasters and the global greenhouse effects and increasing pollutions and destruction of the living environment are ready-made time bombs to remind the mankind of ultimate extinction. The immense challenge and its on-going emerging critical implications deserve serious Thinking and moral and intellectual pondering role and responsibilities from the Thinking HUBS of the concerned global mankind.

The planet Earth is not created or built by the Nation States claiming membership at the UN. The comprehensive system of splendid and encompassed Universe and its resources on the planet Earth are God-given gift to mankind, and its violation and exploitation will be checked by God as it happened to many in the past only to be found as artifacts in museums and history books. History offers a learning role but nations and people denying the role of history ultimately cannot escape the wrath of history. Winning the wars was not part of the American aims and strategies but killing and destabilizing the poor nation was, and it has achieved that aim. All actions have reactions. The consequences are yet to come.

The Nation State is an abstract phenomenon existing on the 20th century rotten paper now on visible screen, words filled with dry ink to ensure governance of the few – the 1%. The net outcomes are political agents managing politics – a game of pretension but humanity is real and so are its rights, dignity, liberty and stance for justice. The gulf between the two is widening into conflicting time zones separating the rulers and the ruled being at odds. As if this political treason was not enough, the humanity is wired by man-made weapons of mass destruction from Planet Earth beyond to space. Nobody wants to talk about it to maintain indifference and pretension of the unknown. The ultimate aims appear to be to drive the most intellectual creation of God on the Planet Earth- the human being to a dogmatic outlook of life – into the lasting darkness of ignorant and absurd, evicting the moral conscience out of the mind and soul, torturing the body and intellect by sophisticated means of lies and deception, exhausting moral and spiritual values that distinctively characterize the human makeup and existence and coercing them to THINK and ACT in animalistic behavior. The military build-ups, sophisticated war machines and the on-going global wars in Iraq and Afghanistan expanded onward to Pakistan are the net products of this imposed tyranny. Where do you draw the defining pulse between rationality, and political tyranny surging into insanity all over the globe? Rick Rozoff (“Global Grandiosity: America’s 21st Century International Architecture” MediaMonitors.net: 9/16/2010), out of the composite dictionary provides a context to the afflictions in question, ones which are symptomatic of the two most severe forms of mental illness: Bipolar disorder and schizophrenia: Rozoff further explains that: “Delusions of grandeur are associated with the manic phase of bipolar disorder and frequently with other delusional content typical of schizophrenics, especially delusions of persecution – paranoia. …….The reason the two are frequently linked and mutually reinforcing ….A normal person – or nation – doesn’t entertain that degree of self-importance in either respect.”

Fran Scott (“Who are we?” Mediamonitors.net 09/1/2010): Wonders – Who Are We? A real identity crisis the US political psyche faces but often denies its implication:

“Under assault by a consciousness control system that insists we are doing quite well even when evidence shows we’re on the critical list………If we, the people of these United States, are ever to be a united nation we have to penetrate the lead curtain of misinformation………. We have a serious social identity crisis and cannot save ourselves by making war against ourselves. But if we want a peaceful world and safe environment, we need to break out of the mental prison in which we’ll remain as long as we are kept separate, and unequal, by the controllers of what goes into our minds under the false label of information.”

To introduce Abb Pierre (1912-2007), French founder of Emmaus International, Ita Marguet wrote (Diva International):

“Acknowledging this Man of Humanity, Abb? Pierre received the Balzan Prize for Humanity, Peace and Brotherhood amongst peoples … “For having fought throughout his life for the defence of human rights, democracy and peace, For having entirely dedicated himself to helping relieve spiritual and physical suffering, For having inspired – regardless of nationality, race or religion – universal solidarity with the Emmaus communities”

Surely, he was not a politician to perform staged pretension but a moral and spiritual being dedicated to the cause of mankind. Politics is increasing becoming a self-centered cycle of orchestrated cynicism of need and greed, implying civic norms and wickedness to rob off the people from their inborn rights, dignity and power to harmonize the socio –political culture of the society. But Ita Marguet points out that Abb Pierre had a unique character: “As social activist and militant, he was vociferous in his rebellion against political and social injustice and openly disagreed with the Church and Vatican on some issues. He was received by many of the world’s political, social and spiritual leaders, including three Popes.” But in the 21st knowledge-driven century there are no leaders- role models of political imagination for peace and the future. Likewise, the global institutions controlled by the FEW are a failure in offering a credible sense of intellectual security to the mankind. If Dr. Martin Luher King Jr. was alive, he would have been an excellent role model for the humanity and so is Professor Noam Chomsky of the MIT- a man of vision for peace and future-making, and so was late Professor Edward W. Said of Columbia University – a Palestinian, an embodiment of moral and intellectual hope for the mankind.

One wonders about the moving time span and recorded history in which people of conscience lived, shared imagination and reasoned. Why and what Shakespeare must have entailed and expressed his ingenuity to stage the politics “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players.” But is it a spring of our discontent or as to Shakespeare “Now is the winter of our discontent.” The global snapshot appears terribly cruel, horrifying and dehumanized, there is no man or the humanity co-existing with sense of originality, passion for the self- actualization – self awareness and realization who we are and our role and responsibility in the bigger picture of the globe, knowing oneself knows the mankind. Ones own forgetfulness with body and soul (the real person – Man) is to discord the value and bonds to the humanity.

Alexander Pope (“An Essay on Man”) it seems, had an in-depth knowledge, vision, and understanding of the human nature, spiritual values and search for truth and peace in quest for Change and Reason:

Of Man what see we, but his station here, From which to reason, or to which refer? Thro’ worlds unnumber’d tho’ the God be known, ‘Tis ours to trace him only in our own. Then, in the scale of reas’ning life, ’tis plain There must be, somewhere, such rank as Man; Know then thyself, presume not God to scan; The proper study of Mankind is Man.

Wars kill people and destroy the human habitats. Yet, the paranoid and most hated maniacs put up the show of war celebrations – a success achieved by strangulating the humanity – cost of ruthlessness, human degeneration and lack of imagination. So what is there to celebrate for the tragedies of the WW1 and WW2? Not so, the modern genius , no matter how wicked and ignorant it is, camouflaged the scene by pumps and parades as if the wars were the blessings in disguise to manage the ever growing human herd by the few sadistic and egomaniac Draculas. Felicity Arbuthnot (“Remembrance Day: Let this Silence be a Scream for Peace” Dissident Voice: 11/14/2011) traces out the glued wrong thinking of the warmongers celebrating the acts of savagery by man against man and points out that:

“…Hypocrisy does not come more astounding than this. There has not been a single bloodless year since. More often than not, the US, Britain and European countries has been involved. …..the pain of others should surely be, and have been, of concern, distress and subject of mediation and conflict resolve.”

Those who dream of glory and triumph by having invincible armed forces are not new to the history. They live in a cycle of self-ingrained deceit and ultimate destruction. They use vicious strategies to poison the human mind with fear and hatred against others. George Bush and Tony Blair and their accomplice were masters of lies and deceptions using the 9/11 events to wage bogus wars on terror. Robert C. Koehler (“Soul Poison” Common Dreams : 3/22/2013) is well known Chicago-based journalist, author of Courage Grows Strong at the Wound and nationally syndicated writer, attempts to put the focal issue in a rational context:

“We’ve lost a war without being able to surrender — and thus divest ourselves of the consciousness that got us into it. We are unable to look honestly at what we did and why, and determine not to do it again……How do we get the poison out of our system? As long as it’s present, we’ll go to war again. The shame and remorse that should be borne collectively are scattered among a million isolated souls: the soldiers and vets who bear, alone, the moral consequences of what they did and what they were a part of. Some of them speak out, and many of us hear, but their voices don’t reach the centers of political power, where future wars are being plotted.”

The knowledge-driven intellect and civilizations know-how to make the Man perform better for change and unto a promising future. But prevalent ignorance and systematic arrogance of the 1% FEW needs formidable intellectual and political challenge to make them RETHINK for a Navigational Change. The global humanity must RISE to challenge the few ignorant and egomaniacs –the modern Ivan the Terrible to stop blood lusted passion against the mankind. It is just these FEW have no sense of humanity or accountability even in Western people’s democracies. The pulse of time and highly sophisticated sense of Man and humanity look for men of new ideas, rational visions and enriched moral- spiritual leadership to lead the people out of the forced economic and political bondage of the few. The failure of the Western industrialized democracies is observable.

The passion and instinct of Man in search of Humanity does not pause nor end here. But despite living in a knowledge-driven global culture of the 21st century and widespread awareness and active participation of the global citizenry, be it through the internet, cell phones, facebook, twitter or other means of know-how and social networks, the human instinct of killing goes unabated. How to THINK to stop and change this perpetuated animosity and political vindictiveness of the few warlords and to start living as Chief Creation of God – the Man and Humanity – equipped to be rational being and interacting in a universe revealed as moral, spiritual and living entity, pursuing objective values and adaptation to the world of Reason, Human Dignity, Freedom of Thinking, Justice and Equality, not in a utopian construct but a proactive visionary world of CHANGE for MAN and the HUMANITY to be different and optimistic from the coerced, broken and sadistic present.

Eric Bogle wrote “The Green Fields of France” and it was sung by Fureys:

Did you really believe, when they told you the cause, Did you really believe that this war would end wars? Well, the suffering, the sorrow, the glory, the shame, The killing and dying it was all done in vain Oh Willy McBride it all happened again – And again, and again, and again, and again.

Dr. Mahboob A. Khawaja specializes in global security, peace and conflict resolution, and comparative Western-Islamic cultures and civilizations, and author of several publications including the latest one: Global Peace and Conflict Management: Man and Humanity in Search of New Thinking. Lambert Academic Publishing, Germany, May 2012.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34447.htm

If I Ruled the World

By Antony Loewenstein

March 27, 2013 “Information Clearing House -Tharunka” - The role of the US hegemony is over. Washington no longer controls the world by charm and force. It’s a multipolar planet with countless centres of power. Wouldn’t this be something to celebrate?

In theory, yes. But then, all of a sudden, in a long session of the United Nations Security Council, an Australian from Sydney is appointed to the new position of head chief to manage an unruly earth. Unlike the Secretary General, this individual wields real power to bring change.

That person is me. After thanking my parents and atheist deities, I give the following speech:

“Ladies and gentlemen, I thank you for your belief in me. It is an honor to assume this position and I pledge to use it responsibly.

At this time in world history, it’s vital to speak truths that many of you will find unpalatable. The vision for a better world is easy to convey. Who doesn’t want a cleaner and safer planet for our children? But getting there is the challenge and, from today onwards, the following policies will be implemented with your generous consent.

The last centuries have seen countless countries commit genocide and gross human rights abuses. Without serious reparations for the crimes committed, from Britain in the Congo in the late 1800s, America through slavery and Australia’s treatment of its indigenous population, we will continue living in the shadow of these outrages. Without proper compensation for today’s generations, it is impossible to properly progress as a community.

All too often, our leaders talk about human rights as an abstract notion, without realising their populations recognise the hypocrisy at the heart of the pledge. Sales of deadly weapons to the world’s most despotic regimes have never been higher and this will stop. Today. Israel, America, Europe and other leading arms manufacturers will have to find new ways of making money, while nations such as Bahrain and Saudi Arabia will no longer be able to repress their own people with guns assembled in the United States.

We have a responsibility as a connected world to not tolerate and enable injustice in one state while opposing it elsewhere. Applying international law and holding power to account, whether these officials or governments are sitting in Washington, London, Canberra, Tel Aviv, Kigali or Beijing, must be central in the 21st century. Accountability will be served if Syria’s Bashar al-Assad appears in the Hague alongside George W. Bush and Tony Blair.

A just planet also means a sustainable earth. Climate change is real and worsening. Renewable energy sources will be used in all nations as soon as is humanely position. This will, once and for all, reduce the reliance on dirty fossil fuels that are already causing severe health problems in China and extreme weather patterns in Australia, Antarctica, Africa and South America.

Closer to home, Australia’s two-party system is crumbling under its own internal contradictions. With minor differences between Labor and Liberal, and the Greens struggling to assume a larger political role, we should encourage smaller groups, such as the Wikileaks Party and Pirate Party, to oppose the growing surveillance state.

Tackling the world’s most serious issues requires a robust and diverse media. No one media owner will be allowed to own more than 50 per cent of newspapers, television, online or other sources. Tax breaks will be given to assist new ventures get heard above the often toxic and belligerent mainstream press.

I have only touched on some subjects that I believe must be addressed for the 21st century to avoid the human catastrophes that befall the 20th century. Undoubtedly, you will all have other ideas. My door is always open.

As an atheist Jew, I wish you all the best in your endeavours.”

Antony Loewenstein is a Sydney-based independent freelance journalist, author, documentarian, photographer and blogger. He is the author of My Israel Question and The Blogging Revolutionhttp://antonyloewenstein.com/ 

WWIII Is Coming Soon & Here’s Why !?!?!

WWIII Is Coming Soon & Here’s Why !

Video

We are on a road that leads straight to the World War 3, but in order to see that and to fully understand what is at stake you have to look at the big picture and connect the dots. This video examines the history of the dollar, its relation to oil, and the real motives behind the wars of the past two decades. – The Road To WW3.

Posted March 24, 2013

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Three (more) Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism

By Jules Peck
March 24, 2013 “Information Clearing House” -”Citizenrenaissance” – Professor Ha-Joon Chang has two things in common with Karl Marx. Firstly he’s right in much of his economic analysis of the ills of capitalism and secondly his prescriptions of the solutions to these ills are lacking.
Chang’s best-selling book 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism is a timely and important addition to the most crucial debate of our age. I recommend it as both a good read and helpful resource. But I think his analysis missed out three final and far more crucial ‘things’ to his 23.
Aside from giving an incomplete analysis of the ills of capitalism, Chang’s work fails in that the ‘things’ he misses out (my ‘things’ 24, 25 and 26) are the ones which show both that capitalism is fatally flawed and ireformable and that an alternative is indeed both possible and viable.
So Chang’s book is both an incomplete picture of the problematique and a flawed vision of the future. It fails to take us beyond the desperate attempts to shoehorn the needs of people and planet into the fundamentally broken and misconceived economics of capitalism.
What’s supposedly so great about capitalism?
Whilst Chang is not arguing for an overthrow of capitalism he is scathing of our current neo-liberal version of it. For each of the 23 ‘things’ he starts with a short ‘What they tell you’ section laying out myths he then debunks. These myths are the sales-pitches whose combined narrative persuade us that we can’t possibly live without capitalism.
We are told that society does best where the interests of shareholders, not wider stakeholders’ are born in mind. But Chang refutes this in ‘thing 2’. We are told that capitalism is the best system because it rewards those who are most productive. But in ‘thing 3’ Chang clearly debunks this myth. We are told that capitalism is the only system capable of producing the kinds of things we so badly need – like yet another version of the ipad. Again Chang debunks this in ‘thing 4’. We are told that individuals are inherently self-seeking and cannot co-operate (‘thing 5’) and so we need the market to ensure the highest wellbeing for society. Again this is debunked well and truly by Chang and numerous others.
Another common rationale for capitalism’s value are that only through continuing ‘creative destruction’ and economic ‘progress’, as defined as never ending growth, can we hope to satisfy human needs. The red-in-tooth-and-claw, ever competitive, ever striving for ‘more’ which is key to capitalism’s accumulation drive, is vital to ensure our wellbeing. Otherwise life would sink into a morass of Leviathan-esque life “solitary, poor, nasty, brutish and short”.
But these things are not true. Man can be co-operative and live in reciprocal manners. We are not rational, but we are not entirely irrational either. And the roles which the capitalist mode of production has given us, of labourer and capitalist, are far from the only natural order of things. Perhaps we no longer need to be dictated by the booms and busts of ever-striving profit and accumulation? Perhaps we can all be worker and boss? Perhaps we can plan our economies to serve the interests of all, not just of the 1%?
What Chang got right with his 23 things
Chang is correct about many of his ‘’things’. There is no such thing as a free market (thing 1), and so called ‘free-market’ policies cause far more harm than good, creating huge public bad and few public goods (things 6 and 7).
Companies should not be run in the interests of shareholders (thing 2). We are not smart enough to leave things to the market (thing 16), in any case our best markets are already very much planned economies (thing 19) and indeed more state-led markets give the best outcomes (things 12 and 21).
All of these challenge the underpinning narratives that keep capitalism ‘credible’ (to some). The next three ‘Things they don’t tell you about capitalism’ suggest that an alternative to capitalism is both needed and possible.
Thing 24 – Growth does not equal happiness
Ever increasing economic growth (the rational for capitalism) long since ceased to bring increasing marginal returns to wellbeing. In the ‘rich world’ wellbeing has flat-lined since the 1970s. So in fact, all the extra growth and wealth we have accumulated since the 1970s could be distributed more fairly and could arguably satisfy all the basic needs of the worlds 7bn.
A few facts might help to make this point. The combined wealth of the world’s 500 wealthiest people is equal to that of the bottom 60% of the world’s population. The top 1% in the US have more wealth than the entire bottom 90%. Just one of these individuals’ wealth – say Warren Buffett’s – could increase the wealth of 1bn of the world’s poorest people by around 20%.
So the key rationale and driver of capitalism, the ‘treadmill of accumulation’ makes no sense any more. We don’t need to keep accumulating and transforming the natural world into yet more ‘stuff’. We can share out what we have already and merely replace that in a sustainable manner as needs be. So whatever form of economics we might need, we don’t need capitalism and all its ills.
Thing 25 – Limits to growth
We have reached the limits to economic growth on which Capitalism depends. Just in terms of climate change, as we show in this blog, we need to halt, and in the rich world find a reverse gear for, any further expansion of the global economy.
Chang does touch on issues of environmental limits in his book. But he fails to understand how fundamental these challenges are to capitalism’s expansionary dynamics and urgently we need to respond if we are to save humanity from unliveable conditions.
Combine these two things, ‘thing 24’ and ‘thing 25’, and you start to see that there is no real need for capitalism anymore. It is neither necessary for satisfying our wellbeing needs, nor is it possible without plunging our one and only planet into a state which would fundamentally undermine the needs of our children and future generations. So capitalism comes with numerous attendant ills and yet it is not even necessary.
What is missed by ignoring ‘things’ 24 and 25
What Chang misses is that the downsides to capitalism and its myths are in fact the inevitable outcome of the dynamics of the ‘treadmill of accumulation’ and the ‘capital surplus absorption problem’. These negative effects of capitalism are not just unfortunate by-products of a misfiring engine. In many ways they are the engine.
Inequality and poverty, consumerism, deb-tonation, polluted values, the rollercoaster of boom and busts economics the creation of dangerous financial products. All of these ills and more are the direct and inescapable outcomes of capitalism on a finite planet.
Chang is either unaware of what we now know about wellbeing and natural limits or he ignored these factors because they would not have fitted with his desire to find a way to save capitalism. In ignoring ‘things’ 24 and 25 it is possible to assume that we might ‘make capitalism nicer’. If all that extra growth and ‘stuff’ fulfilled our lives and if we lived on an infinite planet then maybe ‘nicer/greener’ capitalism would be possible.
This badly underestimates just how non-negotiable are the core characteristics of capitalism. It is these core characteristics of the absolute and never-ending requirement for capital-accumulation and profit which cause the many ‘things’ he lists. But he assumes that these 23 ills can be assuaged by tinkering with the operating system, a patch here and a patch there. What he misses is that these patches will do nothing to confront the reality of ‘thing 25’ – absolute limits to growth.
And because he is not aware of the alternatives to capitalism, (thing 26) and how much better they can deliver prosperity and ‘good lives for all’, his thinking and horizons have been self-limited and constrained. We should not let our own horizons be so constrained.
Thing 26 – There are alternatives to Capitalism.
So what of the alternatives?
Time and time again we are told by otherwise thoughtful people that ‘there are no alternatives’. But this is wrong. There are many alternative visions and forms of economics around. They might not be as well PR’ed as capitalism. But then that’s hardly surprising since capitalism works well for the world’s most powerful men – who happen to own much of the world’s media.
Beyond-capitalism economics already exists in pockets of experimentation around the world. The most obvious of this is perhaps the co-operative movement which, along with State Owned Enterprises (SOEs), already makes up a significant proportion of the economy.
You could call this new economics ‘Sustainable Wellbeing Economics’ or, as Professor David Schweickart calls it in After Capitalism, ‘economic democracy’ and ‘democratic socialism’. Or, as Professor Erik Olin Wright calls it In Envisioning Real Utopias, ‘participatory democracy’. The name does not matter. What does matter is that it is built around the principles of the need for a democratic and sustainable model of economic ‘progress’ or ‘development’, which most equitably satisfies the human needs (not wants) of all 7bn of us.
Whilst there are no blueprints for such an economics there is a huge amount of work which as been done by people like Schweickart and Olin Wright as well as others like Professor David Harvey (his Enigma of Capital is another must-read). All three of these are distinguished academics at leading US Universities. And their work is far from just academic. It is based on extensive examination of real, existing and emergent elements of this new form of economics.
Time for change
“Capitalism is not beautiful”, said John Maynard Keynes. “It is not intelligent, it is not virtuous and it not just. But when we wonder what to put in its place, we are extremely perplexed.”
We can no longer stand by in a perplexed manner as capitalism causes civilization to nosedive into the ground. Allowing capitalism to continue to collapse in an unplanned way will be painful. As Thomas Carlyle put it, “If something be not done, something will do itself one day, and in a fashion that will please nobody.”
In fact we no longer need to stand by perplexed. We know far more than was known in Marx’s or Keynes’ day. We have the benefit of years of experimentation with capitalism, markets, state planning, co-operative and ‘commoning’ movements. From the work of countless Nobel Laureates we know far more about the bounds of human rationality, about reciprocity, behavioral economics and game-theory, about welfare and wellbeing economics, about the possibilities and limits of human ingenuity and technology.
Its time for us to set aside our fears of going beyond capitalism, a system we have got so used to and so mesmerized by, that we have become blind to its faults and its alternatives.
As Einstein put ”Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.” Or, as Professor Tim Jackson has said “that ecological damage should be the result of a series of consumption practices which clearly fail to increase wellbeing has all the characteristics of a social pathology.”
It is time we proved ourselves sane and dared to dream of, and develop an alternative.
I’ll finish on a quote from Professor Chang’s conclusion in ‘The 23 Things They Don’t Tell You About Capitalism’,
“Nothing short of a total re-envisioning of the way we organise our economy and society will do.”
Jules Peck is a Founding Partner at strategy and innovation consultancy Flourishing Enterprise which works to engage the corporate world with beyond-growth economics and to help them innovate through the lens of wellbeing..

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Social Engineering and the 21st Century Truth Emergency

By James F. Tracy

March 20, 2013 “Information Clearing House -  On March 9, 1995 Edward Bernays died at the age of 103. His professional endeavors involved seeking to change popular attitudes and behavior by fundamentally altering social reality.[1] Since he laid the modern groundwork for deceiving the public we are for better or worse living out his legacy today.

Several years ago Project Censored directors Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff identified and explained the “truth emergency” that is among the greatest threats to civil society and human existence. This crisis is manifest in flawed (or non-existent) investigations into 9/11 and other potential false flag events, fraudulent elections, and illegal wars vis-à-vis a corporate-controlled news media that fail to adequately inform the public on such matters. While neglecting or obscuring inquiry into such events and phenomena major media disparage independent and often uncredentialed researchers as “conspiracy theorists” or, more revealingly, “truthers.”[2]

The truth emergency continues today, and social engineers like Bernays long understood the significance of undermining the use of reason, for it is only through reason that truth may be determined and evaluated. To be sure, individuals and institutions that have successfully achieved legitimacy in the public mind are recognized as having a monopoly on the capacity to reason and are thus perceived as the foremost bearers of truth and knowledge. Through the endorsement of “experts”—figures perceived as authoritative in their field—the public could easily be persuaded on anything from tobacco use and water fluoridation to military intervention abroad.

Today reason is defined one dimensionally; its relationship to truth largely taken-for-granted. Yet as Leibniz observed, reason marks our humanity, suggesting a portion of the soul capable of a priori recognition of truth. With this in mind the modern individual in the mass has been rendered at least partially soulless through her everyday deferral to the powerfully persuasive notion and representation of expertise. However narrowly focused, under the guise of objectivity the institutionally-affiliated journalist, academic, bureaucrat, and corporate spokesperson have in many instances become the portals of reason through which the public is summoned to observe “truth.”

These agents of reason are largely bereft of emotion, moderate in temperament, and speak or write in an unsurprisingly formulaic tone. The narratives they relate and play out present tragedy with the expectation of certain closure. And with a century of commercial media programming the mass mind has come to not only accept but anticipate such regulation and control under the regime of institutionally-sanctioned expertise.

The selection and arrangement of experts by corporate media guarantees a continued monopoly on “truth,” particularly when presented to an uninquisitive and politically dormant public. Yet this phenomenon extends to ostensibly more trustworthy media outlets such as public broadcasting, where a heightened utilization of credentialed expertise is required to ensure the consensus of those who perceive themselves as more refined than the Average Joe.

This preservation of what passes for reason and truth cannot be sustained without a frequent dialectical struggle with unreason and falsity. Since many individuals have unconsciously placed their genuine reasoning faculties in abeyance and often lack a valid knowledge of politics and history, their unspoken faith in government and the broader political economy to protect and further their interests is groundless. Against this milieu those genuinely capable of utilizing their reasoning capacities in the pursuit of truth are often held up as heretical for their failure to accept what is presented as reality, with the requisite “conspiracy theory” label wielded in Orwellian fashion to denote such abnormal intellectual activity.

Lacking the autonomous use of reason to recognize truth, form often trumps substance. For example, a seemingly obscure news website with unconventional graphics or an emotional news presenter purporting to discuss the day’s affairs is typically perceived as untrustworthy and illegitimate by a public conditioned to accept forms of news and information where objectivity and professionalism often camouflage disinformation.

In 2013 the truth emergency is greater than ever, and in the era of seemingly never-ending pseudo-events and Potemkin villages presented by major media as the reality with which we must contend, the application of independent reason in pursuit of truth has all too frequently been replaced with an unthinking obeisance toward the smokescreen of expertise disguising corporate power and control.

James F. Tracy PhD, teaches classes on journalism and media at Florida Atlantic University. His work on media history, politics and culture has appeared in a wide variety of academic journals, edited volumes, and alternative news and opinion outlets.http://memoryholeblog.com

Notes

[1] Peter Phillips and Mickey Huff, “Truth Emergency and Media Reform,” Daily Censored, March 31, 2009.

[2] “Edward Bernays, ‘Father of Public Relations’ and Leader in Opinion Making, Dies at 103,” New York Times, March 10, 1995.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34358.htm

Why Food Riots are Likely to Become the New Normal

The link between intensifying inequality, debt, climate change, fossil fuel dependency and the global food crisis is undeniable

By Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed

March 13, 2013 “Information Clearing House -Guardian -  Just over two years since Egypt’s dictator President Hosni Mubarak resigned , little has changed. Cairo’s infamous Tahrir Square has remained a continual site of clashes between demonstrators and security forces, despite a newly elected president. It’s the same story in Tunisia, and Libya where protests and civil unrest have persisted under now ostensibly democratic governments.

The problem is that the political changes brought about by the Arab spring were largely cosmetic. Scratch beneath the surface, and one finds the same deadly combination of environmental, energy and economic crises.

We now know that the fundamental triggers for the Arab spring were unprecedented food price rises. The first sign things were unravelling hit in 2008, when a global rice shortage coincided with dramatic increases in staple food prices, triggering food riots across the middle east, north Africa and south Asia. A month before the fall of the Egyptian and Tunisian regimes, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) reported record high food prices for dairy, meat, sugar and cereals.

Since 2008, global food prices have been consistently higher than in preceding decades, despite wild fluctuations. This year, even with prices stabilising, the food price index remains at 210 – which some experts believe is the threshold beyond which civil unrest becomes probable. The FAO warns that 2013 could see prices increase later owing to tight grain stocks from last year’s adverse crop weather.

Whether or not those prices materialise this year, food price volatility is only a symptom of deeper systemic problems – namely, that the global industrial food system is increasingly unsustainable. Last year, the world produced 2,241m tonnes of grain, down 75m tonnes or 3%from the 2011 record harvest.

The key issue, of course, is climate change. Droughts exacerbated by global warming in key food-basket regions have already led to a 10-20% drop in rice yields over the past decade. Last year, four-fifths of the US experienced a heatwave, there were prolonged droughts in Russia and Africa, a lighter monsoon in India and floods in Pakistan – extreme weather events that were likely linked to climate changeafflicting the world’s major food basket regions.

The US Department of Agriculture predicts a 3-4% food price rise this year – a warning that is seconded in the UK. Make no mistake: on a business-as-usual scenario, this is the new normal. Overall, global grain consumption has exceeded production in eight of the past 13 years. By mid-century, world crop yields could fall as much as 20-40% because of climate change alone.

But climate is not the only problem. Industrial farming methods are breaching the biophysical limits of the soil. World agricultural land productivity between 1990 and 2007 was 1.2% a year, nearly half compared with 1950-90 levels of 2.1%.

2008 also saw a shift to a new era of volatile, but consistently higher, oil prices. Regardless of where one stands on the prospects for unconventional oil and gas for ameliorating “peak oil”, the truth is that we will never return to the heyday of cheap petroleum.

High oil prices will continue to debilitate the global economy, particularly in Europe – but they will also continue to feed into the oil-dependent industrial food system. Currently, every major point in industrial food production is heavily dependent on fossil fuels. To make matters worse, predatory speculation on food and other commodities by banks drives prices higher, increasing profits at the expense of millions of the world’s poor.

In the context of economies wracked by debt, this creates a perfect storm of problems which will guarantee high prices – eventually triggering civil unrest – for the foreseeable future.

It’s only a matter of time before this fatal cocktail of climate, energy and economic challenges hits the Gulf kingdoms – where Saudi Arabia is struggling with an average total oil depletion rate of about 29%. If oil revenues reduce in coming years, this would lower subsidies for food and fuel. We’ve already seen how this can play out, for instance, in Egypt, whose domestic oil production peaked back in 1996, reducing government spending on services amid mounting debt.

The link between intensifying inequality, debt, climate change, fossil fuel dependency and the global food crisis is now undeniable. As population and industrial growth continue, the food crisis will only get worse. If we don’t do something about it, according to an astounding new Royal Society paper, we may face the prospect of civilisational collapse within this century.

The Arab spring is merely a taste of things to come.

Nafeez Ahmed – Bestselling Author, International Security Scholar, Investigative Journalist on the Deep Politics of the “War on Terror” in the context of the Crisis of Civilization - Nafeez Mosaddeq Ahmed writes at The Cutting Edge

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34284.htm

Lady Justice, Humiliation And John Brennan’s Heavy Baggage

By Ray McGovern

March 12, 2013 “Information Clearing House -Consortium News - John Brennan brings heavy baggage to his new job as CIA Director – legal as well as moral – arguably making it risky for him to travel to more than 150 countries that are party to the United Nations Convention Against Torture.
It must be hard for Brennan to recognize that he cannot land in Europe, for example, without fear of being arrested and arraigned for kidnapping (also known as “extraordinary rendition”) and torture (now antiseptically called “EIT” for “enhanced interrogation techniques,” which, by the way, is a direct translation of verschaerfte Vernehmungright out of the Gestapo handbook).
For a freshly confirmed CIA Director it is de rigueur to pay an early call on European counterparts. I remember preparing a briefing book for that purpose just before a new CIA Director named George H. W. Bush took off for the UK, Germany and France in the early spring of 1976. Unfortunately for Brennan, there may be complications to enjoying April in Paris – like a possible knock on the door from a French prosecutor and the gendarmes.
Given Brennan’s role as a senior CIA official during President George W. Bush’s “dark side” days of waterboarding detainees, renditioning suspects to Mideast torture centers and making up intelligence to invade Iraq, Brennan’s advisers are sure to remind him that he may be in as much jeopardy of being arrested as former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
After leaving the Pentagon in late 2006, Rumsfeld had his own close call with Lady Justice. In October 2007, Rumsfeld was in an auditorium in Paris preparing to deliver a lecture when he learned that the Paris Prosecutor was mulling over what to do after being served a formal complaint against Rumsfeld for ordering and authorizing torture.
The charges against Rumsfeld were brought under the 1984 UN Convention Against Torture (CAT), ratified by both the United States and France. The complaint was brought in France under the concept of universal jurisdiction.
The criminal complaint stated that because the authorities in the United States and Iraq had failed to launch any independent investigation into the responsibility of Rumsfeld and other high-level U.S. officials for torture – despite a documented paper trail and government memos implicating them in direct as well as command responsibility for torture – it was the legal obligation of states such as France to take up the case. The complaint also noted that the U.S. had refused to join the International Criminal Court, which might have had more routine jurisdiction.
In an attempt to avoid a major diplomatic headache, U.S. embassy officers advised: “Run, Rummy, Run,” before the Paris authorities decided what to do. Rumsfeld went out a side door, slipped into the embassy, and then got out of Dodge tout suite.
Rumsfeld’s skedaddle from Paris thus spared him the possible humiliation that befell Gen. Augusto Pinochet, who had been head of Chile’s military dictatorship from 1973 to 1990. While on a trip to the United Kingdom in 1998, Pinochet was arrested on a Spanish judicial warrant and was held under house arrest until 2000. The Spanish judge cited the same principle of universal jurisdiction. Pinochet was freed only after the intervention of high-powered friends, including former President George H.W. Bush and former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.
That was only the first of several times when European judges applied that principle, declaring themselves competent to judge crimes committed by former heads of state, despite local amnesty laws. If former heads of state are vulnerable, it seemed to follow that former defense secretaries and other senior subordinates must be as well.
If the Rumsfeld precedent were not enough to make Brennan think twice about travel to Europe, he has surely been told of the criminal complaints lodged in Switzerland (also a CAT signatory) against George W. Bush in early 2011. When the former president learned of it, he decided not to take any chances and abruptly nixed longstanding plans to address a Jewish charity dinner in Geneva on Feb. 12, 2011.
The Goods on Brennan
Brennan’s checkered past has been an open secret. On Dec. 5, 2005, after finishing a stint as acting director of the National Counterterrorism Center, Brennan told Margaret Warner of the NewsHour that “rendition” (also known as kidnapping) is “an absolutely vital tool … producing intelligence that has saved lives.” (In his Feb. 7, 2013, testimony to the Senate Intelligence Committee on his nomination to be CIA Director, Brennan backed off the “saved lives” claim, since the committee had just completed its own comprehensive study disproving it.)
On the NewsHour, Brennan described rendition as “the practice or the process of rendering somebody from one place to another place. It is moving them, and the U.S. Government will frequently facilitate that movement from one country to another.”
Brennan’s co-panelist, another former CIA operations officer, objected to turning prisoners over to foreign intelligence services, insisting that, “It would be far better if the United States retained control of that terror suspect and did the interrogation itself.”
This drew a sharp rejoinder from Brennan: “Quite frankly I think it’s rather arrogant to think that we are the best in every case in terms of eliciting information from terror suspects.” Right. In the decades since World War II, many “friendly” intelligence services have acquired a lot more experience with verschaerfte Vernehmungthan the CIA, though it often served as the tutor.
(The term verschaerfte Vernehmung was not only coined by the Nazis, but the techniques were indistinguishable from those used during the presidency of George W. Bush, according to a 2007 article in the Atlantic. The major difference, so far, is that after WWII the torturers were punished as war crimes, with the penalty often death by hanging.)
NewsHour’s Warner asked Brennan if the U.S. employs rendition “because we want another country to do the dirty work?” Brennan replied: “It’s rather arrogant to think that we’re the only country that respects human rights.”
A comprehensive study just published by the Open Society Justice Initiative reveals that, under President George W. Bush, Brennan and his counter-terrorist team suborned the officials of 54 other countries to cooperate in the rendition program, providing help of various kinds, including transiting their land, airports or airspace, or accepting secret prisons in their countries.
It is no secret that the purpose of “rendition” is to move detainees secretly to countries with experience/expertise in “enhanced interrogation techniques” or to the infamous CIA “black sites” abroad where waterboarding and other abuses took place. Such activities violate the Convention Against Torture and, often, national laws.
Some Accountability
What is new is that some governments in both “old” and “new” Europe – a distinction that Donald Rumsfeld would make derisively against France and other parts of “old” Europe – are now showing a common commitment to justice by prosecuting former heads of their own intelligence services.
Italy’s former chief of military intelligence, Nicolo Pollari, just got ten years in prison for helping the CIA abduct Egyptian cleric Osama Hassan Mustafa Nasr (aka Abu Omar) from the streets of Milan in early 2003 and send him to Egypt for more “enhanced” interrogation.
More than two dozen Americans have been tried and convicted in absentia for this case of truly extraordinary rendition, in which they exhibited notoriously adolescent tradecraft. If any of them travel to Europe, they risk arrest. John Brennan should remember that highly embarrassing flap quite well, since it came on the eve of his appointment to head a newly created Terrorist Threat Integration Center.
And in “new” Europe, in January 2013, Zbigniew Siemiatkowski, former head of Poland’s secret service and former minister of internal affairs, was indicted for his role in cooperating with the CIA renditioners and torturers. Siemiatkowski facilitated CIA renditions and the establishment of a CIA “black prison” in Poland, where the U.S. arranged interrogation and torture of terrorist suspects snatched from their home countries.
It is no overstatement that for the first time since World War II, many foreign intelligence chiefs are likely to have very mixed reactions to being seen, even in Washington, with a freshly minted CIA Director with the heavy baggage that Brennan carries.
So where might these intelligence counterparts get together without too many risks. What about the Bahamas?  It has signed CAT but has not yet ratified it. So, with adequate security forces deployed, there may be a measure of safety there. For the time being at least, Bahamas could offer one of the few feasible ways that Brennan would be able to schmooze with key foreign counterparts – perhaps by offering as a bonus a timeshare week there. A short flight for travelers from Washington, DC, Bahamas would have another cost-saving advantage in saving on jet fuel.
Things to Do at Home, Like Iran
Besides worries about arrest, Brennan has other compelling reasons to stay at home for a while. Iran’s nuclear program remains on the front burner as it has since early 2008 when the Director of National Intelligence revealed the National Intelligence Estimate completed in November 2007 concluding, unanimously and “with high confidence,” that Iran had stopped working on nuclear weaponization in 2003 and had not resumed that work – a judgment revalidated every year since by the DNI.
That assessment has not prevented neocons and their favorite media personalities from trying to make Iran’s nuclear program seem more menacing. On “Meet the Press” on Feb. 3, for example, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta was the subject of attempted mousetrapping by NBC’s Chuck Todd, who clearly was hoping Panetta could be maneuvered into contradicting the NIE.
It was awkward for Panetta, but – to his credit – rather than apologize when Todd pointed his finger accusing him of believing “the Iranians were not pursuing nuclear weapons,” Panetta held firm under the goading. Finally, after conferring with co-panelist Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman, Gen. Martin Dempsey, Panetta said, with some exasperation:  “I – no, I can’t tell you because – I can’t tell you they’re in fact pursuing a weapon because that’s not what intelligence says we – we – we’re – they’re doing right now. …” (emphasis added)
John Brennan, when appearing before his Senate Intelligence Committee confirmation hearing on Feb. 7, chose to deviate from the 2007 NIE by including the following in his prepared written testimony: “And regimes in Tehran and Pyongyang remain bent on pursuing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missile delivery systems.” (emphasis added)
Never mind Brennan’s disingenuousness in conflating Iran with North Korea. The question is how could he diverge so markedly both from what Panetta said just four days before, as well as from the unanimous assessment of the entire U.S. intelligence community that Iran stopped working on a nuclear weapon in 2003 and has not resumed that work. In no way does that continuing assessment support his claim that Tehran remains “bent on pursuing nuclear weapons” and ICBMs to deliver them.
There are, of course, reasonable grounds to suspect that Iran might be seeking a capability that eventually would allow it to rapidly break out of Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT) constraints on building a nuclear weapon. That, of course, is why U.S. intelligence is riveted on monitoring related activity in Iran, as are the UN inspectors in Iran.
But “bent on pursuing” ICBMs? Really? Iran has not flight-tested a ballistic missile with ranges in excess of its 2200-kilometer-range Sajjil MRBM. Nor has it launched a space rocket that might conceivably be a suitable model for an ICBM. Has Brennan found someone – perhaps an analyst left over from the notorious 2002 NIE on WMD in Iraq – to tell him the Iranians are testing ICBMs in their hardened underground sites?
I doubt that Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, who observed at close hand the concocting of fraudulent “intelligence” on Iraq, will cave in to the likes of Brennan “fixing” the intelligence on Iran. However, there is no word yet this year on when the DNI will present the annual worldwide threat briefing – traditionally given in sworn testimony to Congress in January or February.
So the battle is joined. Assuming Congress, in its wisdom, does not altogether cancel the worldwide threat briefing this year, and assuming I’m right about Clapper, Brennan has his work cut out for him in squaring that circle about how “bent” Iran seems to be on “pursuing nuclear weapons.”
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, a publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. During his 27 years as a CIA analyst, he chaired NIEs and prepared and briefed the President’s Daily Brief. He now serves on the Steering Group of Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).  He covered some of these issues during an interview Sunday for PressTV.
  

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Child Marriages: 39,000 Every Day

By UN Women

Joint press release by UNFPA, UNICEF, WHO, UN Women, the United Nations Foundation, World Vision, Girls Not Brides, Every Woman Every Child, World YWCA and The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn and Child Health.

———- NEW YORK, 7 March 2013 – Between 2011 and 2020, more than 140 million girls will become child brides, according to United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

If current levels of child marriages hold, 14.2 million girls annually or 39,000 daily will marry too young.

Furthermore, of the 140 million girls who will marry before the age of 18, 50 million will be under the age of 15.

Despite the physical damage and the persistent discrimination to young girls, little progress has been made toward ending the practice of child marriage. In fact, the problem threatens to increase with the expanding youth population in the developing world.

Child marriage is an appalling violation of human rights and robs girls of their education, health and long-term prospects,” says Babatunde Osotimehin, M.D, Executive Director, UNFPA. “A girl who is married as a child is one whose potential will not be fulfilled. Since many parents and communities also want the very best for their daughters, we must work together and end child marriage.”

Girls married young are more vulnerable to intimate partner violence and sexual abuse than those who marry later.

“Complications of pregnancy and childbirth are the leading cause of death in young women aged 15-19. Young girls who marry later and delay pregnancy beyond their adolescence have more chances to stay healthier, to better their education and build a better life for themselves and their families,” says Flavia Bustreo, M.D., Assistant Director-General for Family, Women’s and Children’s Health at the World Health Organization. “We have the means at our disposal to work together to stop child marriage.”

On 7 March, a special session of the UN Commission on the Status of Women (CSW) will focus on child marriage. The Governments of Bangladesh, Malawi and Canada will jointly sponsor the session. It is held in support of Every Woman Every Child, a movement spearheaded by U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon that aims to save the lives of 16 million women and children by 2015.

The session will address the problems created by early marriages and ways to prevent them. Mereso Kiluso, a Tanzanian mother of five now in her 20s, who was married at 14 to an abusive man in his 70s, will describe her experience.

If child marriage is not properly addressed, UN Millennium Development Goals 4 & 5 – calling for a two-thirds reduction in the under-five mortality rate and a three-fourths reduction in the maternal deaths by 2015 – will not be met.

Child marriage – defined as marriage before the age of 18 – applies to both boys and girls, but the practice is far more common among young girls.

Child marriage is a global issue but rates vary dramatically, both within and between countries. In both proportions and numbers, most child marriages take place in rural sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

In South Asia, nearly half of young women and in sub-Saharan Africa more than one third of young women are married by their 18th birthday.

The 10 countries with the highest rates of child marriage are: Niger, 75 per cent; Chad and Central African Republic, 68 per cent; Bangladesh, 66 per cent; Guinea, 63 per cent; Mozambique, 56 per cent; Mali, 55 per cent; Burkina Faso and South Sudan, 52 per cent; and Malawi, 50 per cent.

In terms of absolute numbers, because of the size of its population, India has the most child marriages.

What progress has been made to stop the practice has been in urban areas where families see greater work and education opportunities for young girls.

A violation of the rights of girls

“No girl should be robbed of her childhood, her education and health, and her aspirations. Yet today millions of girls are denied their rights each year when they are married as child brides,” says Michelle Bachelet, M.D., Executive Director of UN Women.

Child marriage is increasingly recognized as a violation of the rights of girls for the following reasons:

  • Effectively ending their education
  • Blocking any opportunity to gain vocational and life skills
  • Exposing them to the risks of too-early pregnancy, child bearing, and motherhood before they are physically and psychologically ready
  • Increasing their risk of intimate partner sexual violence and HIV infection

“Child marriage is a huge problem in poor communities,” says Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary of the World YWCA. “Early marriage and child marriage robs the future. Girls lose the opportunity for education. They lose the opportunity to choose their partner and must live with that pain for the rest of their lives.”

The World YWCA will present a petition to CSW urging the group to pass a special resolution calling for an end child marriage. Signatories believe that by working collaboratively, member states and concerned groups can end child marriage by 2030.

Despite the fact that 158 countries have set the legal age for marriage at 18 years, laws are rarely enforced since the practice of marrying young children is upheld by tradition and social norms.

The detrimental effects of early child marriage

“Child marriage is not only wrong, it is dangerous. It exposes a young girl to profound health risks from early pregnancy and difficult childbirth and it exposes her baby to complications of premature birth,” says Anthony Lake, Executive Director of UNICEF.

According to the UN, complications from pregnancy and childbirth are the leading causes of death for girls aged 15-19 years in developing countries. Of the16 million adolescent girls who give birth every year, about 90 per cent are already married. UNICEF estimates some 50,000 die, almost all in low- and middle-income countries. Stillbirths and newborn deaths are 50 per cent higher among mothers under the age of 20 than in women who get pregnant in their 20s.

In many poor countries, most young girls, regardless of age, are forced to demonstrate their fertility once they are married.

“These children, because that’s what they are, are discouraged from using contraceptives or might have to ask their husbands’ permission, or they have no knowledge of or access to what they need,” says Carole Presern, PhD, Executive Director of The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health and a midwife.

Violence common in child marriages

Loss of girlhood and health problems related to early pregnancy are not the only hazards confronting young brides.

Even though some parents believe early marriage will protect their daughters from sexual violence, the reverse is often true, according to UN studies.

Young girls who marry before the age of 18 have a greater risk of becoming victims of intimate partner violence than those who marry at an older age. This is especially true when the age gap between the child bride and spouse is large.

“Child marriage marks an abrupt and often violent introduction to sexual relations,” says Claudia Garcia Moreno, M.D., of WHO, a leading expert in violence against women. “The young girls are powerless to refuse sex and lack the resources or legal and social support to leave an abusive marriage.”

A complex issue with deep roots

Child marriage, which has existed for centuries, is a complex issue, rooted deeply in gender inequality, tradition and poverty. The practice is most common in rural and impoverished areas, where prospects for girls can be limited. In many cases, parents arrange these marriages and young girls have no choice.

Poor families marry off young daughters to reduce the number of children they need to feed, clothe and educate. In some cultures, a major incentive is the price prospective husbands will pay for young brides.

Social pressures within a community can lead families to wed young children. For example, some cultures believe marrying girls before they reach puberty will bring blessings on families. Some societies believe that early marriage will protect young girls from sexual attacks and violence and see it as a way to insure that their daughter will not become pregnant out of wedlock and bring dishonour to the family.

Too, many families marry their daughters simply because early marriage is the only option they know.

“Many faith leaders and their communities are already working to end child marriage and other forms of violence against children. Changing stubborn behavior is immensely challenging, so we must go further to positively influence beliefs and actions,” says Tim Costello, Chief Executive of World Vision Australia.

Malawi’s work to end child marriage

In Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, at least half of young women are married before the age of 18. The country is working to end the practice “to allow the girl child to continue with education, to become a learned citizen who can contribute to the development and economy of the country,” says Ms. Catherine Gotani Hara, Malawi’s Minister of Health.

Another reason for Malawi’s effort is the high teenage pregnancy rate and the fact that teen pregnancies contribute to 20-30 per cent of maternal deaths in the country. “By ending early marriages we can avert up to 30 per cent of maternal deaths and also reduce the neonatal mortality rate,” she says.

The Minister reports that Malawi has taken a number of steps aimed at ending the practice of child marriage. These include:

  • Providing free universal access to primary education;
  • Working with chiefs to sensitize their communities on the importance of sending children to school, with an emphasis on the girl child;
  • Implementing a policy that allows girls who become pregnant during school to go back to school after delivery to continue their education;
  • Working with parliamentarians to raise the age at marriage to 18 years by 2014; and
  • Providing Youth Friendly Health Services. This outreach empowers youths with the information that would enable them to make informed choices about their reproductive health.

UN Millennium Development Goals

Ending child marriage is closely related to UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Every Woman Every Child initiative and to efforts to reach Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) 3, 4 and 5 to promote gender equality, to reduce child mortality and to improve maternal health.

The continued occurrence of child marriage has hindered the achievement of these MDGs, especially in sub-Saharan Africa and south Asia.

“I urge governments, community and religious leaders, civil society, the private sector, and families—especially men and boys—to do their part to let girls be girls, not brides,” says the Secretary-General.

Ending child marriage would also help countries achieve other MDGs aimed at eradicating poverty, achieving universal education and combating HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases, and should also figure within a renewed development agenda.

“The needs of adolescent girls were overlooked in the Millennium Development Goals; they must have a central place in any new goals set by the international community,” said Lakshmi Sundaram, Global Coordinator of Girls Not Brides. “By using the rate of child marriage as an indicator to monitor progress against new goals, we can make sure that governments address the practice and focus on ensuring the welfare of their girls.”

Strategies for ending child marriage recommended to the Commission on the Status of Women include:

  • Supporting and enforcing legislation to increase the minimum age of marriage for girls to 18 years;
  • Providing equal access to quality primary and secondary education for both girls and boys;
  • Mobilizing girls, boys, parents and leaders to change practices that discriminate against girls and to create social, economic, and civic opportunities for girls and young women;
  • Providing girls who are already married with options for schooling, employment and livelihood skills, sexual and reproductive health information and services (including HIV prevention), and offering recourse from violence in the home;
  • Addressing the root causes of child marriage, including poverty, gender inequality and discrimination, the low value placed on girls and violence against girls.

Participants at the special session on child marriage will include: Margaret Mensah-Williams, Deputy Speaker of Parliament, Namibia; Michelle Bachelet, M.D., Executive Director of UN Women; Babatunde Osotimehin, M.D., Executive Director of UNFPA, Lakshmi Sundaram, Global Coordinator of Girls Not Brides; and Tim Costello, CEO, World Vision Australia. Nyaradzayi Gumbonzvanda, General Secretary of the World YWCA, will moderate the session. Comments will be provided by government co-hosts of the event: H.E. Catherine Gotani Hara, Minister of Health of Malawi; H.E. Dr. A. K. Abdul Momen, Permanent Representative to the UN, Bangladesh, and Guillermo Rishchynski, Permanent Representative to the UN, Canada, Carole Presern, Executive Director, The Partnership for Maternal, Newborn & Child Health will introduce government representatives.

Contacts:
Fadéla Chaib, WHO:  +41 22 791 3228 ,  +41 79 475 5556  (mob); chaibf@who.int
Mandy Kibel, UNFPA:  +1 212 297-5293 ;  + 1 917 310-8219  (mob); kibel@unfpa.org
Sarah Crowe, UNICEF:  +1 212 326-7206 ,  +1 646 209-1590  (mob); scrowe@unicef.org
Marshall Hoffman, H&H:  +1 703 533-3535 ,  +1 703 801 8602  (mob); marshall@hoffmanpr.com
Nils Hoffman, H&H Video:  +1 703 967-1490  (mob); nils@hoffmanpr.com

See also -

Child brides beaten up, killed in South Sudan: The 17-year-old beaten to death for refusing to marry a man old enough to be her grandfather. The teen dragged by her family to be raped to force her into marrying an elderly man.

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article34229.htm

The Corporation

I believe this is one of the best and most important documentary films to be made in many years. 
This is an extraordinary film about the creation of the American corporation, its legal organizational model, its global economic dominance and its psychopathic tendencies, and its incredible ambition to influence every aspect of culture in its unrelenting pursuit of profit.

After viewing this film, it becomes all too evident that these large corporations have too much power, whose mandate is not the common good of the people, and who will go to any lengths, legally and otherwise, in the pursuit of profit and the bottom line. Reviewer: C. Middleton (Australia)

http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article12998.htm

Daniel Gauntlett 35 Frozen to Death All Alone Last Saturday

Posted March 05, 2013

Frozen To Death

Homeless man Daniel Gauntlett dies frozen on doorstep of empty bungalow in Aylesford

By Chris Hunter
Kent Online - A tarpaulin, a pillow, a dirty old jacket, a carrier bag and a few worthless items strewn over the veranda of a boarded-up bungalow.
This is where homeless Daniel Gauntlett tried to find shelter through a bitterly cold winter and where, on a freezing night on Saturday, he finally succumbed to the cold.
Mr Gauntlett, 35, was found the next morning by a passer-by who spotted his body from the pavement.
His belongings still left where he died, residents in Hermitage Lane, Aylesford, reacted with sadness to the news and said Mr Gauntlett had become a familiar sight in the street.Homesless Daniel Gauntlett died outside a bungalow in Hermitage Lane, Aylesford
And they said the sadness was compounded by the fact he died outside an empty bungalow due to be bulldozed.
Police had reportedly been called previously after he tried to break into the bungalow. And so Mr Gauntlett, had taken the fatal decision to abide by the law.
Derek Bailey, 80, who lives next door, said Mr Gauntlett had not appeared to be in ill health.
“They took him up to the hospital about a fortnight before when they’d found him and social workers got involved,” said Mr Bailey.
“It was just the bitter weather. I know a lot about cold weather because I was in the Canadian army. I’ve known it drop to minus 70 but the trouble with this country is the dampness.”
Bitter conditions saw snowfall across the county on Saturday night, with temperatures of -2C exacerbated by windchill.
Another resident said: “He was a very nice man apparently. He used to ask for money but not for drink. He used to buy pasties from the supermarket.
“It was so sad. Especially when the houses are empty.”
An inquest was opened and adjourned on yesterday and confirmed the cause of death was hypothermia.
Mr Gauntlett was the second homeless man to die in Aylesford last weekend.
Douglas Poynton, 45, of no fixed address, died at Forstal Cottages in Forstal Road, on Saturday. The precise medical cause of death is yet to be established.

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