Jan 292014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* IS THE WORLD REBALANCING?

By Yanis Varoufakis

WideModern_Rebalance_062813620x413

Before the Crash of 2008, the dominant view amongst the world’s policy-making elites was that global imbalances were not a problem. The great and the good in Washington and in London, in Paris and in Frankfurt, at Davos and on the golf courses where deals of note are struck, dismissed as economically-illiterate moaning-minnies all those who dared warn against large current account imbalances. Caught up in the soothing fiction of the ‘Great Moderation’, and the toxic fantasy that finance had invented ‘riskless risk’, the powers-that-be were adamant that we were living in a ‘new paradigm’. In this ‘new paradigm’ of their over-excited imagination, risk was being dispersed (through financialisation) from the global financial centres to the rest of the world, net capital was flowing the other way (from the Periphery to the capitalism’s Metropoles), and the result was sustainably unbalanced current and capital accounts. In short, from the gilded perspective of the true believers in some fictional ‘Great Moderation’, untrammelled markets had produced, at a planetary scale, a virtuous, sustainable, and highly lucrative ‘equilibrium imbalance’.

After the Crash of 2008, their tune changed. And it changed even more radically when, two years later, the Eurozone’s never-ending crisis followed suit. Suddenly, it became fashionable to blame, retrospectively, the hitherto benign global imbalances for the crisis. America’s pre-crisis gargantuan current account deficit, amounting to 6% of the planet’s largest national income, as well as China’s 10% of GDP current account surplus, were no longer thought of as innocuous. Similarly, within the Eurozone, Germany’s and Holland’s pre-2008 combined €35 billion-plus current account surplus, juxtaposed against Portugal’s, Greece’s and Spain’s combined current account deficit of €31 billion, metamorphosed from ‘natural’ repercussions of creating a common currency area to sources of local and global instability. In short, the crisis of 2008 turned imbalances from symptoms of the neoliberal ‘Great Moderation’ to the villains of the piece.

Six years have passed since those heady days and it is now clear that the global imbalances are waning. America’s current account deficit has fallen from 6% to less than 3% of GDP while China’s current account surplus has diminished from a breathtaking 10% to a reasonable 2.5%. Even within the long suffering Eurozone, quasi-insolvent nations like Spain and Italy are eliminating their current account deficits, despite the rise and rise of Germany’s surplus. Perused from a planetary perspective, German surpluses and Turkey’s or India’s deficits seem like minor problems that should perhaps be of concern to Europeans or Asians though not to the world at large. From this perspective, the world seems better balanced now than at any time since the 1980s. But is it so? […]

READ @ http://yanisvaroufakis.eu/2014/01/28/is-the-world-re-balancing/

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* THE EUROPEAN PERIPHERY AS A POLITICAL LABORATORY

By Ricardo Campos, roarmag

The austerity imposed on the EU periphery is part of a wider and more ambitious experiment to suspend democracy and commodify all aspects of social life.

The austerity imposed on the EU periphery is part of a wider and more ambitious experiment to suspend democracy and commodify all aspects of social life.

The periphery of the Eurozone has been in the spotlights since 2010, when the Greek government requested a bailout by the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the European Central Bank (ECB) and the European Commission (EC) — or the ‘Troika’, as these three powers are collectively known. It has become a familiar story, with Ireland, Portugal and Cyprus eventually following, while Slovenia seems to be next and both Spain and Italy remain under stress. This sovereign debt crisis has been presented from its very start as the mere sum of distinct national macroeconomic performances, with some countries failing to be competitive enough (or, according to a less sophisticated formula, showing themselves to be ‘lazy’) and some governments failing to control the budget deficit appropriately (or, according to a less sophisticated formula, showing themselves to be ‘big spenders’).

The dominant narrative of the political economy of the Eurozone is neither innocent nor accurate and plays a deliberate strategic role. It is rather obvious that the specific economic and social backgrounds of each country — including different intensities of social conflict and forms of resistance — explain the different pace of the austerity measures applied and the capacity of each government to negotiate distinct conditions for loans. But there is no such thing as an independent national context within the Eurozone, as becomes clearer every time a mission of the Troika lands in a country under intervention. The alleged purpose of the policies imposed on these countries — controlling public debt by reforming the state and regaining external competitiveness in order to lower the trade balance deficit — are further from being achieved now than they were before the bailouts. The ECB is now studying how to keep the “adjustment” in these countries beyond the previously agreed schedule, even though all the austerity measures included in its recessive arsenal have been applied. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/01/austerity-europe-neoliberal-laboratory/

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* ESCAPED MARXIST GUERRILLA CHRISTODOULOS XIROS ALARMS GREECE WITH PLEDGE TO RETURN TO ARMS

By Helena Smith, Guardian

Christodoulos Xiros of the 17 November guerrilla group delivering his video message. He escaped from prison less than a month ago. Photograph: AP

Christodoulos Xiros of the 17 November guerrilla group delivering his video message. He escaped from prison less than a month ago. Photograph: AP

A video threat by a member of the disbanded 17 November terror group creates a new crisis for a weakened state

Up close, Christodoulos Xiros does not come across as a menacing man – in many ways he still resembles the soft-spoken craftsman he once was. But this weekend, barely three weeks after absconding from the high-security Korydallos prison in Athens, the dark-eyed 56-year-old, a key member of the defunct 17 November terror group, has struck fear into the hearts of many across crisis-hit Greece.

In the space of five days, panic-stricken authorities have launched the biggest manhunt in modern times, placed a €4m bounty on his head – dead or alive – and thrown a security cordon around the capital not seen since the 2004 Olympics.

On Friday, as European justice ministers gathered in the country that currently holds the EU’s rotating presidency, there were sharpshooters on the roofs, sniffer dogs roaming the streets and more than 2,000 riot police outside government offices and hotels.

“I am worried that soon there will be an attack,” said former foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis, giving voice to the fears stalking Greece after Xiros failed to report to authorities while visiting his family during a nine-day leave from prison earlier this month.

It was 15 days before the self-described “free member of 17 November” re-emerged, with a video message vowing a return to armed action. “It’s time for battle,” Xiros said against a background of images depicting resistance fighters and a second world war communist hero. “I have decided to thunder the guerrilla shotgun against those who stole our lives and sold our dreams for profit.” […]

READ @ http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/jan/26/marxist-guerrilla-christodoulos-xiros-17-november-greece

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* ‘ONE BIG PROJECT’: ITALY’S BURGEONING MOVEMENT FOR HOUSING AND INCOME

By Alfredo Mazzamauro, roarmag

In the context of a deepening housing crisis, Italy’s movements are becoming increasingly united in their opposition to neoliberalism and austerity.

In the context of a deepening housing crisis, Italy’s movements are becoming increasingly united in their opposition to neoliberalism and austerity.

If there is one day that can symbolically represent the current struggle against austerity and neoliberalism in Italy it must be the 19th of October 2013 — the day of the General Uprising (“sollevazione generale”) against austerity. On that date, behind a banner that read “Only One Big Project: Income and Houses for Everyone!” around one hundred thousand people took the streets of Rome in what could be considered the most successful demonstration by the Italian social movements since the economic crisis began in 2007.

The demonstration was the last day of a week of struggle structured around four national events. The first was the day of struggle against the environmental devastation caused by capitalism on October 12. The second was the European social strike on October 15, launched during the Hub meeting in Barcelona. The third day was the general strike of the rank-and-file unions with a national demonstration in Rome and many local marches across the country on October 18. The final day was the national demonstration against austerity in Rome on October 19.

This agenda was set up and promoted by the Living in the Crisis Network (“rete abitare nella crisi”) — a network of Italian housing action movements — along with many grassroots movements and autonomous groups such as student movements, rank-and-file unions, precarious workers and migrants following a series of assemblies organized by the No-TAV movement in Val Susa over the last summer. The purpose of the October week of struggle was to bring together in a few big national events all the grassroots movements and the local groups who work every day in their neighborhoods to oppose and resist the neoliberal attempt to make workers and the lower classes pay for the crisis of capitalism. In particular, the October 19 demonstration aimed to make visible the housing emergency which is affecting ever more families and low-income earners in Italy. […]

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/01/italy-movement-housing-income/

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* THE WORKERS’ SCORECARD ON NAFTA

By David Bacon, Truthout

NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO - 05JUNE09 - The settlement of Blanca Navidad, on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, just south of the U.S. border.  Blanca Navidad was created by workers looking for land to build a place to live, and is part of a network of radical communities on the border, and throughout Mexico, sympathetic with the Zapatista movement.  Most residents work in the maquiladoras. Photo by David Bacon

NUEVO LAREDO, MEXICO – 05 JUNE 09 – The settlement of Blanca Navidad, on the outskirts of Nuevo Laredo, just south of the U.S. border. Blanca Navidad was created by workers looking for land to build a place to live, and is part of a network of radical communities on the border, and throughout Mexico, sympathetic with the Zapatista movement. Most residents work in the maquiladoras. Photo by David Bacon

Sold by its promoters as a migration-preventing device that ultimately would produce more and better-paid jobs in all three countries, the North American Free Trade Agreement has displaced jobs and people, weakened unions and ravaged US cities and rural Mexico. But worker solidarity may prove to be its most important product.

In 1986, a provision of the Immigration Reform and Control Act created a commission to investigate the causes of Mexican migration to the United States. When it made its report to Congress in 1992, it found, unsurprisingly, that the biggest was poverty. It recommended the negotiation of a free trade agreement, modeled on the one that had been implemented a few years before between the United States and Canada. The commission argued that opening the border to the flow of goods and capital (but not people) would, in the long run, produce jobs and rising income in Mexico, even if, in the short run, it led to some job loss and displacement.

The negotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement began within months. When completed, it was sold to the public by its promoters on both sides of the border as a migration-preventing device. During the debate, executives of companies belonging to USA-NAFTA, the agreement’s corporate lobbyist, walked the halls of Congress wearing red, white and blue neckties. They made extravagant claims that US exports to Mexico would account for 100,000 jobs in the agreement’s first year alone.

Some skeptics warned that the agreement would put downward pressure on wages and encourage attacks on unions, because its purpose was to create an environment encouraging investment and free markets. Their warnings were met with another promise – that a parallel labor side agreement would establish a mechanism for protecting workers’ rights.

Twenty years later, workers have a scorecard. The promises of profits from increased investment and freer markets were kept. But the promises of jobs and benefits for working people were not. As the commission predicted, NAFTA did lead to increasing unemployment, displacement and poverty. Workers in all three countries are still living with these devastating consequences, while the predicted long-range benefits never materialized. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/21370-the-workers-scorecard-on-naftaf

Jan 232014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

Ariel Sharon, the war criminals, dies without being proscuted for his war crimes, January 11, 2014 pic.gif

Introduction

Ariel Sharon was a serial mass murderer, engaged in massacres of unarmed victims in four countries, of all ages and conditions.  He was a “hero” for hundreds of thousands of Israeli Jews who settled on land and in houses seized from Palestinians in the West Bank.  He was praised by Western leaders at his funeral for his violent, lifelong opposition to Arab nationalist movements throughout the Middle East.  That he was a fanatical upholder of Jewish supremacist policies and practices did not go unnoticed by wealthy Zionist donors in the US.  During his tenure as a senior official in numerous Israeli regimes, they contributed hundreds of millions of dollars for Greater Israel and extracted nearly a $100 billion more from the US Treasury.  Israeli leaders praise of Sharon as a valiant, brilliant and legendary military leader is echoed in the US mass media and repeated by most Western leaders.  He was, in the view of his US adulators, a powerful leader who defied world public opinion in his defense of Israel, who seized Palestinian and Syrian territory and who was willing to strike an independent policy even against Israel’s main benefactors in Europe and North America.

This essay does not simply recount Sharon’s lifelong criminal record.  The story we will relate has more to do with (1)the crimes that continue to live after him; (2) the political and military context which allowed him to butcher non-Jewish populations with impunity; (3)the psychological core of Sharonist impudence and arrogance which is so deeply etched in the political psyche of all of Israel’s contemporary leaders.

This paper will critically address several issues regarding the Sharon cult (in Israel and abroad) which presents him as a fearless and successful military leader; a formidable world political statesman, who successfully imposed Israel’s will throughout the Middle East and beyond.

Genocide at the Service of Nationhood

Sharon’s record as a serial genocider is beyond dispute.  As early as the ‘founding years’ of Israel in 1947 – 1948 Sharon was commander of the murderous Alexandroni and then the Golani Brigade which murdered, uprooted and terrorized thousands of lifelong Palestinian residents.  He later was the commander of Unit 101, an Orwellian Death Squad, which reduced villages to rubble, blowing up homes, where mostly women and children were hiding.  In October 1953, Sharon assaulted the Jordanian village of Qibya blowing up forty-five houses and killing sixty-nine civilians, the vast majority women and children.  In the early 1950’s Sharon ruled over Palestinian settlements with an iron fist, murdering dissidents, arresting and torturing protestors on a mass scale.  On October 29, 1956 Israeli, British and French troops invaded Egypt to seize the Suez Canal and recolonize the country.  Colonel Sharon led the 202th Paratroop Brigade which seized the Mitla Pass and covered himself with gore – murdering all the Egyptian military and civilian prisoners.  The Israeli military advance was stopped cold despite its military alliance and supply from Britain and France.  President Eisenhower told the Israelis and their French and English allies to end their aggression and proceeded to cut off all military and economic aid to Israel; shut off IMF funding for England and France’s post WW II bankrupt economies.  US Zionists using their leverage in the Democratic party especially over Lyndon Johnson, House Minority Leader, to block Eisenhower’s economic sanctions and to support Israel’s invasion.  Eisenhower rejected Zionist pressure and went to the UN Security Council where his armistice and withdrawal proposal was vetoed by France and Britain.   Eisenhower then called a special session of the General Assembly where he triumphed by a 12 to 1 margin.  France, Britain and Israel were defeated and forced to retreat.  No other President before or since Eisenhower ever took a forthright stand against Israeli colonial wars and territorial seizures.

During the Egyptian invasion, Sharon’s military leadership was severely questioned by his Israeli superiors.  His troops suffered the highest casualties of any unit because of his order to attack heavily fortified Egyptian emplacements when Israeli air power could have done more with less.

During the so-called Six Day War (June 5 -10, 1967), Israel’s sneak attack on Jordan, Syria and Egypt, resulted in the seizure and occupation of vast areas and the conquest of millions of Palestinians.  Sharon’s military achievements included the wholesale massacre of Egyptian prisoners of war.. President Lyndon Johnson, totally under the thumb of his Zionist fundraisers, not only supported Israel’s war of aggression but acquiesced in Israel’s bombing of the US intelligence ship the Liberty and the killing and maiming of over 200 US sailors.  In the 1973 Yom Kipper War, Sharon and the Israeli high command were on the verge of military defeat by the Egyptian and Syrian armed forced intent on liberating occupied territories, until Kissinger airlifted 22,395 tons of weapons to Israel, including scores of fighter planes, helicopters and transport planes to turn the tide.

From the Yon Kipper debacle onward, Israel never lacked for US military and political backing and diplomatic protection in its military invasions, colonial settlements and air assaults on Arab countries and inhabitants.

Upward Advance:  Master of Massacres and Mediocrity

Sharon’s political career was aided by his leading role in massacring Palestinians in Lebanon and in the Occupied Territories.  In Lebanon, Sharon slaughtered  2000 children and women at the Sabra and Shatila refugee camp.  He certainly did not rise to political power for his mediocre performance during the Suez crises and Yon Kippur war.  In fact, when Sharon faced well-trained and well-armed military forces, as was the case during the Hezbollah war in 2006, he was even less than a mediocre commander.  Only against civilians and poorly trained irregulars did he “succeed”.  Only where he could murder and dispossess hundreds of thousands of unarmed civilians and settle Israeli Jews was he glorified as the “King of the Jews” by the Israeli settler population.

World leaders praise Sharon because of his power and usefulness in smashing nationalist Arab-dissent.  Sharon’s ascent to the Pantheon of world statesman was greased by the western mass media, who to no small extent, sup at the table of his main Zionist benefactors.  Sharon’s “legendary history” is media manufactured to fit the requirements of his western Zionist power brokers.

The Context of Sharon’s and Israeli Ascendancy

Israel cannot and does not wield power on the bases of its military capability or performance – it operates on borrowed power.  When the US was ruled by a President who rejected Zionist influenced Congressional pressure and used available economic and political leverage, Israel retreated, surrendered captured territory and abided by UN sanctions.  In other words, Israel’s war aims and its bellicose behavior, is dependent on the power of the Zionist power configuration in the US to turn Washington in its favor.

The Israeli leaders and most, especially Sharon, learned the lesson of the Eisenhower experience.  The key to regional power lies in the capacity of American Zionists to control Washington’s decision-makers.  In the blunt language of Sharon, in reply to Shimon Peres on Koi Yisrael radio (October 3, 2001) “Every time we do something, you (Peres) tell me, Americans will do this and that.  I want to tell you something very clear.  Don’t worry about American pressure on Israel.  We the Jewish people control America and the Americans know it”.

In this, his comment on the relations of power between Israel and the United States, Sharon is also providing an insight into his own importance and influence.  Sharon the “legendary military leader” is a complete artifact of the real power that the Zionists wield in the US on behalf of Israel.

Sharon is, in a sense, a “cardboard general” who has lost or nearly lost the most important battles in his career – beginning with Suez in 1956, Yom Kippur in 1973 and Lebanon in 2006.  Israel has prospered economically and become a major military power largely through over $130 billion dollar transfers from the US Treasury over the past half century; plus tens of billions in favorable trade concessions; plus ‘imports’ of highly trained professionals from the US and Russia (educated by the tax payers of those countries); and more recently billions more in “venture capital” by overseas speculators.  In other words, Israel is an artifact of the ‘power of extraction and transfer’ by its overseas acolytes embedded in the US political and economic power structure.

Without the influence and material privileges which have accumulated over four decades, Sharon would have ended his mediocre military career as a crabby second rate politician, barking “blood libels” at his adversaries in the Knesset.

But as circumstances dictated Sharon was not an insignificant figure.  His brutal colonial policies reflected the Israel-Jewish political tradition and shaped what has become a dangerous ethno-supremacist ideology, which unfortunately has traversed across borders and entered into the consciousness of many Zionists.

It was one thing to joke, as many of us did in our university days, about the ghetto expression “Is it good for Jews?.  It is another for leaders in positions of power to apply this ethnocentric criteria to American foreign policy, personnel recruitment and professional appointments.  That is the real legacy of Ariel Sharon:  the legacy of an Israel -centered world built on ideology of ethno-religious supremacy which displays superiority and disdain for non-Jews.  For the ethnic supremacists like Sharon, most Americans exist to pay tribute and fight wars for Israel and to keep a tight lip about it.

A Final Word on the Sharon Legacy

Let it be said, here and now, that Sharon’s presumption to speak for “the Jewish people” confused his rabid electoral supporters in Israel and blind adherents among US Zionist leaders, with a growing number of Jews and ex-Jews who detested him and scorn his legacy.  His boast that “Jews control America” has dangerous implications, especially in the context of growing popular malaise in these United States.  Sharon’s claim that Americans knowingly submit to a foreign tyranny, is very provocative especially if and when Americans begin to wake up— and it will be the majority of Jews, who neither abide by Sharon’s legacy nor share his naked contempt for non-Jews, who will pay a painful price.

The Sharon legacy lives on, among his epigones at the prestigious universities and with the billionaires who bankroll the Democratic Party.   Sharon’s Israel First legacy lives on with the government officials who betray the trust of the American people and prostrate themselves before his present-day disciples (Klansmen with yarmulkes), the Avigdor Lieberman’s, Naftali Bennett’s and Netanyahu’s who execute the Sharon legacy of dispossession and assassination of unarmed Palestinian people. Ariel Sharon is dead but his crimes will not be buried.  They live on in the policies of the Netanyahu regime but also in the collective memory of humanity in its struggle for freedom and self-determination.

Jan 222014
 

By J. Iddhis Bing, 99GetSmart

Chronicle of the Time When We All Went Mad: The Bankers Grab The Prosecutors By The Cojones, The Coward Who Could Have Saved Greece, The Economist’s Nightmare, And A Shameless Promo For Myself

 Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General and one of Bill Clinton’s Merry Pranksters.


Lanny Breuer, Assistant Attorney General and one of Bill Clinton’s Merry Pranksters.

And so, like the revolving mechanisms of an old mantelpiece clock, each playing his part without a clue how the whole gizmo works, we tumble into yet another new year. It’s way past midnight, the empty bottles of champagne are scattered around the floor and we begin again, full of resolution that things will be different this time.  The old music, however, continues to play on and so, like the inebriated gangsters they are, the bankers continue at their folly, which is nothing less than pushing the world over the cliff, leaving us behind, as a friend put it, on “the scorched earth of their stampede to Mammogeddon.” Someone is tugging on our sleeve and telling us it’s time to go home. But we’re lost, the streets are a maze and we have no idea where the subway is.

Could we live in a world in a world without banks? Heretical idea. A few years ago the legendary French footballer Eric Cantona  – he who once said that a striker’s goal ought to be as beautiful as a poem by Rimbaud – suggested a solution to our problem: everyone should just withdraw their money from the banks. What came next, he didn’t say. And in any case, compliant governments would rescue their pals by printing more money and delivering it in dump trucks to HQ at high speed. And yet…

The game will go on for a while yet, even if economists tell us it can’t. They have their own night-thoughts, and I’ll get to that, too. Meanwhile the small countries are pulverized, raped of their resources, strangled. Business as usual. For a few details on that, see my columns onGreece and the fundraiser on Indiegogo . My friend François Fleury spent months in and near the Congolese diamond mines, and as good as his photographs are, it’s this quote from a Congolese miner that comes to mind now: “We are cursed because of our gold. All we do is suffer. There is no benefit to us.”

A miner in the Congo, photo copyright François Fleury.

A miner in the Congo, photo copyright François Fleury.

Shall we check in to see how our banker brethren are doing? On Wednesday December 4th the European Union leveled penalties of €1.7bn on seven banks in the Libor-Euribor-Yen rate fix. The banks named were Barclays, UBS, the Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsche Bank, Société Générale and two American banks, Citigroup and JP Morgan. Morgan plans to fight the charges. According to their regulatory filings, they’ve set aside $23 billionfor just such occasions.

At nearly the same moment in the U.S., the Justice Department stepped forward to announce that they had “reached settlement” in a different case, reaching settlement being a fancy way of saying, No Trial. Everyone wants to avoid going to trial; not only does it cost you thousands of billable hours in legal fees but all sorts of unpleasant things can come out when prosecutors start asking questions. And yet there’s something very strange about this “settlement.”

Lanny Breuer is now Assistant Attorney General, and he made the announcement in the HSBC case, specifically the laundering Mexican and Colombian drug money. Lanny Breuer… the name rings a bell, doesn’t it? Longtime Clinton pal. How’d he get to be Assistant AG in charge of criminal activities? But let’s stay with the case.

English HSBC, frequently referred to as a “banking giant,” or simply “venerable,” has confessed to accepting billions of dollars of deposits from Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others), which, as you’ve probably already guessed, violates a few minor inconveniences they choose to overlook, the Bank Secrecy Act and Trading With the Enemy Act among them.

The Justice Department heralded the settlement as a record. $1.9 billion. One analyst took out his pencil and calculated that that equals five weeks income for the bank.

How did they do it? Breuer admitted that drug dealers would “deposit hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, in a single day, into a single account, using boxes designed to fit the precise dimensions of the teller windows.” No one noticed. Maybe all the tellers at that Mexico City branch should be fired.

There will be no prosecutions. But Breuer did mention that, “As a result of the government’s investigation, HSBC has . . . “clawed back” deferred compensation bonuses given to some of its most senior U.S. anti-money laundering and compliance officers, and agreed to partially defer bonus compensation for its most senior officials during the five-year period of the deferred prosecution agreement.”

It gets better. America’s very own Pravda, the New York Times, reported that “Federal and state authorities have chosen not to indict HSBC, the London-based bank, on charges of vast and prolonged money laundering, for fear that criminal prosecution would topple the bank and, in theprocess, endanger the financial system.” HSBC has already had to clean house: most of its senior management has been replaced. Or rather, they ran out the back door at high speed, hoping no one ever remembers their name.

Matt Taibbi, in his column, argues that, while thousands languish in jail on minor drug charges, this settlement reveals just how hollow America’s massive War Against Selected Illicit Substances really is. But it reveals something else as well: just how close the connections are between the banks and our governments. We’ve all watched as Morgan CEO Jamie Dimon gets the kid-glove treatment in Congress. But here the government had the banks within their grasp on the most serious charges, ones that relate not only to drugs and trading with the enemy but which, if pursued, might lead to the cash nexus of terrorism, the illegal weapons industry… and they backed off, for reasons we are left to surmise: “For surely the bankers would have talked.” Instead they gave up five week’s pay and shuffled the board room. Would the world have ceased to exist if HSBC was no more? No one apart from the U.S. Justice Department thinks so. One is left to wonder just what all this has to do with Hillary Clinton’s chances in 2016.

Beppe Grillo called our current politicos “zombies.” You may or may not agree.

In the next Chronique I’ll take a close look at the incredible exchange between the IMF and the finance ministers of Greece and Germany, a chess move that not only determined the short-term fate of Greece but which almost no one has written about. It’s an eye-opening episode that reveals the human reality behind the politics and to be perfectly shameless about it, I’ll post the story here on Ground Report as soon as I have 700 in the kitty on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site. Over 7,000 people read my last piece on the banks, for which I’m grateful and not a little amazed. If each of you kicked in 1 big fat dollar, I’d be writing this column from Athens. So go toIndiegogo, toss in a fiver and you can read the inside story about the finance ministers here in a few day’s time. Let’s just call this an experiment in interactive livelihood.

For now I leave you with this, courtesy of an economist who not only has a heart but writes coherently about the world, too. (I’ll leave him unnamed for now.) After a long exegesis on the state of things, he broke down and told me what goes on his head after the lights go out: “I honestly think the revolutions on a grand scale will be sparked this spring and the summer will be a hot one.” It’s not something to look forward to but there it is. He crunched the numbers, analyzed the ratio of debt to GDP and when he laid his head on the pillow, that’s what he saw. Maybe we all do, maybe the bankers do, too, maybe they’re thinking, “Why the hell doesn’t anyone stop us?” when they turn out the lights.

See you then.

J Iddhis Bing

Jan 212014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* THE WAR ON THE PLANET

By Kirkpatrick Sale

Climate-change-a-moral-issue1

Some recent evidence in the contest between capitalism and the earth:

In October, the U.S. officially edged past Russia as the world’s largest producer of oil and gas, an achievement largely due to the great increase in natural gas production through hydraulic fracturing of shale (fracking). Inasmuch as the process puts into the ground (and groundwater) 40 gallons of up to 600 chemicals in every well, no one doubts that it is one of the dirtiest and most polluting industries ever created.

Capitalism 1, Earth 0.

In December, the New England shrimp fishery was officially shut down for at least a year, maybe three, to allow a restoration of vastly depleted shrimp stocks, now at historic lows due to overfishing and warmer waters. Shrimpers made $10 million two years ago, just $1.2 million this year, and it is uncertain if or when the stocks will come back.

Capitalism 2, Earth 0.

According to a UN report in December , climate-change gasses in the atmospthere set a record high in 2012. The U.N. World Meteorological Organization said warming gasses increased 32 per cent 1990 to 2012, with Co2, industrialization’s chief byproduct, accounting for 80 per cent of that. […]

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/01/16/the-war-on-the-planet/

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* TRUTH BEHIND FREEDOM INDUSTRIES BANKRUPTCY

Source: MSNBC

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JykxZxps5Jk

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* FIFTY STATES OF FEAR

By Peter Ludlow, NYTimes

072407_fear_poster

The British philosopher Bertrand Russell, writing as World War II was drawing to a close in Europe, observed that “neither a man nor a crowd nor a nation can be trusted to act humanely or to think sanely under the influence of a great fear.” Russell’s point was that irrational fear can propel us into counterproductive activities, ranging from unjust wars and the inhumane treatment of others to more mundane cases like our failure to seize opportunities to improve our everyday lives.

It is hard to dispute Russell’s claim. We all know that fear can impair our judgment. We have passed up opportunities in our personal lives and we have also seen groups and nations do great harm and unravel because of their irrational fears. The 20th century was littered with wars and ethnic cleansings that were propelled in large measure by fear of a neighboring state or political or ethnic group. Given this obvious truth, one might suppose that modern democratic states, with the lessons of history at hand, would seek to minimize fear — or at least minimize its effect on deliberative decision-making in both foreign and domestic policy.

But today the opposite is frequently true. Even democracies founded in the principles of liberty and the common good often take the path of more authoritarian states. They don’t work to minimize fear, but use it to exert control over the populace and serve the government’s principal aim: consolidating power. […]

READ @ http://opinionator.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/01/19/fifty-states-of-fear/?_php=true&_type=blogs&_php=true&_type=blogs&hp&rref=opinion&_r=1&

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* THE WORLD OF SURVEILLANCE, PRIVATE AND PUBLIC

By Phil Ebersole

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Senator Jay Rockefeller is rightly indignant that somebody has compiled lists of rape victims, which are sold to marketing companies for who-knows-what purpose.

But the fact is that we all provide information to private businesses that, when shared, enables them to know all about us. Short of never using a store discount card, never buying anything over the Internet and never using a credit card, there is no realistic way to get around it.

What I worry about is not so much what people in these companies know, or think they know, as what they do with the information. If the information is used by marketing companies to guess what products I might buy, this may be annoying, but it does me no great harm.

If it is turned over to lenders or employers and affects my chances of getting credit or a job, this would be a serious problem.  If it is turned over to government agencies to determine whether I am a potential terrorist or even a troublemaker, this would be an even more serious problem.

Knowledge is power, and there is a lack of balance of power. These people know, or think they know, a lot about me. I ought to be able to know who they are and what they know, or think they know, about me. If my life is an open book to them, I ought to be able to read that book. […]

READ @ http://philebersole.wordpress.com/tag/civil-liberties/

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* VICE MEETS GLENN GREENWALD

Source: VICE

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hoCPdLh_FiQ

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* THE BIGGEST THREAT TO DEMOCRACY SINCE WORLD WAR II – AND THEY TRIED TO KEEP IT SECRET

By Mike Sivier, Vox Political

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the ‘little’ people – the populations they are treading on – are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Corporate trade a-greed-ment: Notice that this image of the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership has mighty corporations straddling the Atlantic while the ‘little’ people – the populations they are treading on – are nowhere to be seen. [Picture: FT]

Editorial comment: TTIP (The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership), is the latest one of the heinous trade agreements that are already destroying the lives of people to enrich the corporations. George Monbiot in the Guardian is speaking freely about this new attempt to make the multinational corporations even more powerful and to take away any possibilities for the people to make themselves heard that might still exist. But where are the other media? Silenced by a down and out publication ban or by self-censorship? Is George Monbiot the only one who manages to speak out in the mass media? We need to hear masses of loud voices fighting tooth and nail against this horrible threat, the last straw in the killing of democracy, the killing of the people. If this latest trade agreement becomes a reality which is currently being negotiated and which is destined exclusively to enrich the corporations that are already rolling in money, then governments will officially be nothing but the puppets of Big Business.  – SON

 

The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership is bitter pill for anyone to swallow, if they have spent any time defending Britain’s membership of the European Union.

The partnership between the EU and the United States would open America to the kind of free trade deals that have been going on in Europe ever since the original Economic Community was formed – but there is a problem.

It isn’t a problem for businesses; they are in line to get a deal better than anything ever experienced in the world of trade. Citizens and national governments, on the other hand – you, me, and the people who represent us – will be railroaded.

This is because the agreement includes a device called ‘investor-state dispute settlement’, which allows corporate entities to sue governments, overruling domestic courts and the will of Parliaments.

In other words, this could be the biggest threat to democracy since World War II. […]

READ @ http://axisoflogic.com/artman/publish/Article_66339.shtml

 

Jan 202014
 

Posted by SnakeArbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

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A handful of Internetophiles had called for a protest meeting all across Turkey against the reform of the already heavily criticized Internet Regulations Law 5651. The law, stressful enough as it is, brings new, further and more advanced methods of government surveillance and censorship of the Internet, limiting citizens’ (and foreign visitors’) freedom of speech as well as their right to information. The people against further limitation of their rights took to the streets on 18 January at 6 p.m.

Before the protest dozens of buses full of riot police, undercover police agents, dozens of water cannon, and riot control vehicles were deployed to Taksim Square. The area resembled a battlefield when police laid siege to Gezi Park and Republic Monument as they marched from the Ataturk Cultural Center (which has now been turned into a police fortress as civilians are not allowed within 25 meters).

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When one rushes down from Istiklal to make it to the protest venue – in front of Galatasaray Lyceum – it is possible that he/she will be stopped several times by the undercover policemen to have his/her smartphone checked for any kind of photos, Facebook posts or tweets. Finally at 6 p.m., as agreed days ago online, the protest began with a thousand people. Passersby keep joining in and only seconds after the protest began, riot police and water cannon blockaded the streets, surrounding protesters. The protesting crowd kept moving back and forth within the same 20-meter area, while a few police officers shouted to the crowd: “Unless you disperse this illegal activity, we will have to use force!”

There were dozens of tourists in the area, sipping their drinks; some families were enjoying a surprisingly warm winter night; people had brought their children and even families with baby-trolleys were around. Suddenly, water cannons started shooting and just a few seconds later blast bombs started going off to scare the crowds. Once again the police department have shown the intolerant face of government regarding voices other than the Prime Minister’s.

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In the meantime, most media portals started giving the news with the headlines “Protest Causes Clashes in Taksim,” failing to report that it was indeed the police that disturbed the crowds and a completely peaceful protest.

Meanwhile, the government started a new campaign against “too much freedom.” Next to an image of a beaten woman is a line that translates “Violence is a crime. What about the Internet? Absence of rules does not mean liberty!”, equating surfing the Internet freely and expressing opinions with using violence against someone. The once allegedly liberal AKP seems to have declared war on liberties and freedoms, now defending more regulations in every aspect of life and censorship of the media, literature and the Internet.

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The worst part of this story is not the revealing of the true spirit of the AKP’s censorship attempts, but the fact that the bulk of the people who support the party think they will not be affected by these draconian laws at some point.

The result of the night was hours of clashes after the police attacks, dozens arrested, many people gassed, beaten, dragged to police stations, shot in the eyes with rubber bullets, and many severely wounded. Inhaling that gas makes one cough from the depth of one’s lungs. Yet the stink of oppression against liberty is even worse.

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More stories by Gürkan Özturan @ http://theradicaldemocrat.wordpress.com

More stories about Turkey @ http://99getsmart.com/category/turkey/

Jan 172014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

israeli-flag-barbed-wire

Introduction

During the first half of the 20th century, socially conscious Jews in the United States organized a large network of solidarity and charity associations financed mostly through small donations, raffles and dues by working and lower middle class supporters.  Many of these associations dealt with the everyday needs of Jewish workers, immigrants and families in need.  Some were linked to labor unions, social democratic and leftist parties.  Their leaders were, in many cases, individuals who worked long hours engaged in resolving problems and intervening in local crises. They drew a modest paycheck – (when funding was available) – comparable to that of a skilled worker.  A few women’s groups like the Hadassah went door to door in predominantly Jewish commercial districts, hitting up Jewish and non-Jewish storekeepers with raffle tickets to purchase beds in Hebrew hospitals in Palestine/Israel.  The predominant ethic was improving the livelihood of Jews in America, joining with the America left and labor groups in united fronts against fascism and domestic, ethnic and racial supremacist organizations.  Up until the establishment of Israel, Zionist organizations were a small minority in the Jewish community, especially among working class Jews.

Growing up in a multi-ethnic working class community (Lynn, Massachusetts) most of our Jewish friends and neighbors were workers and small shopkeepers:  house painters, bookkeepers, carpenters, truck drivers (Gatso Feldman), window repairers (a long white bearded rabbi), junk collectors (Mr. Stone) on a horse drawn wagon calling for business with his whiskey hoarse voice (“Rax, Rax, Rax”! (Rags!)), butchers, bakers, drug store owners, tailors (“Sam, you made the pants too long”), fur and leather workers (Goldie Goldstein), warehousemen and a few owners. On the shady side there were poolroom hustlers (Marty Z), prostitutes (Sophie K) and gangsters (Louie F).  In the mid-1950’s, Jews and non-Jews were engaged in a punch-out with the reactionary, anti-Semitic Feeneyites on Boston Common.

But by the late 1940’s changes began to take place under the pressure of events.  As my Jewish college friend Paul L tells it, “One day the photo of Karl Marx, at the front of his Yiddish classroom, was taken down and replaced by one of Theodore Herzl, the founder of Zionism”.  The reasons were two-fold:  Joseph McCarthy the anti-communist was coming to town to interrogate and blacklist the leaders of United Electrical Workers at the local giant General Electric plant in Lynn.  Secondly, the founding of Israel converted the Yiddish social democratic directors from leftists to Zionists – and Zionists were not on McCarthy’s agenda.  By the mid-1950’s, the right turn among the Jewish labor associations was visible – literally!  One night after our studies, I met up with two Jewish friends and we walked to Peter’s bar (10-cent beers with a rancid after-taste).  On our way, my friends argued leftwing politics – Paul was for social democracy, Lenny for Trotskyism – I was the audience and potential adherent.  As we passed the store window of the Workingman’s Circle (a Yiddish pro-labor organization) Lenny stopped and triumphantly pointed to a sign in the window – a US Marine recruitment poster!  Paul was crushed.

At 14 years of age, I went to work at my father’s fish store in neighboring town of Revere, where the vast majority of our customers were Jews, many immigrants from Vilnius.  Though there were several fish markets with Jewish owners – my father competed successfully because of his daily trek to the Atlantic Avenue piers in Boston to provide his customers with the freshest fish, caught the night before by Italian fishermen from the North End.

Of the thousands of customers, I recall only a couple of cases of Jewish supremacy:  One well-known “yenta” (disagreeable woman) came in the store, saw our prices and then announced, “For those prices I could buy from a Jew!” Needless to say, she was sent on her way with a shower of Greek and Yiddish invectives from my father and his part-time fish-cutter Julius, ‘the Bolshevik from Vilnius’!

The Great Transformation

Over the past fifty years a far-reaching transformation has taken place within Jewish organizations, among its leaders and their practices and policies.  Currently Jewish leaders have converted charities, social aid-societies and overseas programs for working class Jews into money machines for self-enrichment; converted charities funding health programs for Jewish refugees fleeing Nazism into the funding of colonial settlements for armed Zionist zealots intent on uprooting Palestinians; and organized a powerful political machine which buys US Congress people and penetrates the Executive in order to serve Israeli military aims.  From defending human rights and fighting fascism, the leaders of the principle Jewish organizations defend each and every Israeli violation of Palestinian human rights – from arbitrary arrests of non-violent dissidents to the detention of children in ‘cages’.  Israel’s Kafkaesque prolonged administration detention without trial is approved by contemporary leaders.  In the past Jewish leaders, especially labor and socially-engaged activists had joined forces with Leftists in opposition to political bigots, McCarthyite purges and blacklists.  Today’s leaders practice the very same bully, blackmail and blacklist politics against critics of Israel and its Zionist appendages.

Big Bucks:  The Israel First Industry

In the past Jewish leaders of social aid organizations received modest salaries, not any more than those of skilled workers.  Today the leaders of the major Jewish “non-profit” organizations are millionaires drawing between $200,000 and $800,000 a year plus lucrative allowances for “business expenses” (travel, housing, meals, etc.) which add another 30% to their income.

The moderately social liberal Jewish weekly, The Forward, recently completed a survey of the salaries of Jewish “not-for profits” leaders, with the aid of a professor from the Wharton School of Business (University of Pennsylvania).  Among the leading profiteers was Abraham Foxman of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) earning $688,280, Howard Kohr of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) – $556,232, David Harris of the American Jewish Committee (AJC)- $504,445, Morton Klein of the Zionist Organization of America (ZOA)- $435,050, Janice Weinman of Hadassah- $410,000, Malcolm Hoenlein of the Presidents of Major Jewish Organizations (PMJO)- $400,815, Mark Helfield of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society – $268,834 and Ann Toback of the Workmen’s Circle/Arbeter Ring – $185,712.  These salaries and perks put the Jewish leaders of non-profits in the upper 10% of US incomes — a far cry from the not-too-distant past.  According to the analysis by the Forward and the Wharton team,  ‘most leaders (CEOs) are vastly overpaid – earning more than twice what the head of an organization of their size would be expected to make”.

While the membership has declined in many organizations, especially among working and lower middle class Jews, the funding has increased and most important the plutocratic leaders have embraced a virulent militarist foreign policy and repressive domestic policies.  Forward describes Abraham Foxman as “diverting the ADL from its self-described mission of fighting all forms of bigotry in the US and abroad to putting the ADL firmly on the side of bigotry and intolerance”.  We can add that the ADL was convicted of spying on political groups in the US and has been active in bullying academic institutions to fire professors and civic organizations to cancel events critical of Israel and the “Israel First Industry” in the US.

The overwhelming response of the Jewish readers to the Forward’s survey was one of indignation, disgust and anger.  As one reader commented, “The economic disconnect between their (CEOs) salaries and the average incomes of those who contribute to their charities is unacceptable”.  Another indignant reader remarked succinctly: “Gonifs! (Thieves!)”.  Many announced they could cut off future donations.  One formerly orthodox reader stated, “I would rather give to a street beggar than to any of these”.

The drop-off of donations from lower-middle class Jews, however, will have little effect in reducing the salaries of the ‘non-profit’ CEO’s or changing the politics of their ‘non-profits; because they increasingly depend on six and seven digit contributions from Jewish millionaires and billionaires.  Moreover, the contributions by big donors are linked to the politics of repression at home and securing multi-billion dollar military aid and trade programs for Israel from the US Treasury.  The billion- dollar donors have no objection to funding the millionaire leaders – as long as they concentrate their efforts on buying the votes of US Congress members and aligning their politics with Israel’s war aims.   Foxman will continue to be “overpaid” for running an organization with a rapidly declining membership, which does not fight bigotry, so long as he secures big bucks from rightwing Zionist donors who value his success in sabotaging the White House – Iran interim agreement and securing new Senate sanctions against Iran.

Likewise in 2013, AIPAC Executive Director Howard Kohr pocketed $556,232 in salary plus $184,410 for “expenses”, ($740,647 in total) for dedicating most of his budget and lobbyists to fighting for US sanctions against Iran, supporting US wars for Israel in the Middle East, funding Jews only settlements in Palestine and securing US vetoes of UN resolutions critical of Israeli war crimes.

David Harris, Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee ($504,445 plus expenses) has devoted most of the AJC’s time and resources to pressuring Congress and the Executive to follow Netanyahu’s demand for harsher sanctions on Iran.  Harris is an inveterate liar and slanderer.  According to the Forward, “On July 1 (2013), a few weeks after Hassan Rohani was elected as Iran’s new President, Harris charged that Rohani was implicated in the 1994 bombing of the AMIA Jewish Center in Buenos Aires.  This was a week after Alberto Nisman, the Argentine prosecutor (and an ardent Jewish Zionist) had informed the Times of Israel editor, David Horvitz, that Rohani was neither under indictment nor accused of any involvement”.

Conclusion

The Great Transformation among American Jewish charitable organizations is evidenced by the shift (1) from social aid for working Jews, poor immigrants and elderly Holocaust victims to political influence peddling at the service of the highly militarized state of Israel, (2) from engaging in social welfare for American Jews to political lobbying for military transfers to Israel, (3) from grassroots leaders sharing life styles and struggles with their rank and file donors to millionaire CEO’s entertaining Zionist billionaires and banging tables for Israel at the White House while paying off Congressional influential and (4) from reaching out and aligning with Americans working for peace with justice in the Middle East to embracing every tin horn monarch and dictator who signs off on Israeli annexation of Palestinian land.

The key to the transformation is located in the ideological and structural transformation among the leaders of the Jewish organizations.  The rise to prominence – indeed the centrality – of billionaire/millionaire Zionist donors has put in place leaders who mirror their Israel-First outlook and who have similarly enriched themselves.  Secondly, the Great Transformation of Jewish charitable organizations has resulted from the ascendancy of an ethnic supremacist ideology which views ‘others’ as inferior subjects to be ruled by the superior intelligence of Jewish political and business leaders and which orders that the ‘disobedient’ and ‘dissident’ be castigated as ‘anti-Semites’ and punished by jail, media ostracism, censorship, overt threats and, most commonly, loss of employment.  A key consequence of the rise to political power of the once socially conscious Jewish organizations is the shedding of their popular mass base.  Members have resigned in protest over the CEO’s manipulative authoritarian leadership style.  Expulsions and harassment have forced others to retire. But most of all the leadership’s blind political submission to Israeli state policy and self-enrichment has alienated growing numbers of young socially active, as well as, middle age Jews who are disenchanted with their Gonif leaders.

As disenchantment grows, the organized groups and leaders act with greater discipline and aggression to preserve their false image as “representatives of the Jewish community”.  Jewish dissidents are silenced or isolated.  The CEO “leaders” and their rabbinical allies fuse ethno-supremacy, the menorah, the Israeli flag and the politics of Israel-First into a powerful instrument of internal control.  Lucrative salaries and personal enrichment at the service of Israel are not a crime: They are viewed as virtues, at least among respectable … gonifs.

I remember the older brother of a boyhood friend, a Jew who joined the Lincoln Brigade and fought on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War.  More recently I recall a young student at Binghamton University telling me he was going to Israel to serve with the Israeli Defense Forces after graduation.  No doubt this young American’s Zionist “militancy” will translate into breaking the legs of protesting Palestinian school children.  Yes, a ‘transformation’ has taken place but I must confess that I prefer Izzy Levine’s  candy and comic book store where  neighborhood school kids socialized, including the descendants of Sicilians, Odessa Jews, Afro-Americans and Spartan Greeks, over the current Judeo-centric CEO’s who run the ‘Israel-First’ industry.  Izzy was a far greater American than Abe Foxman, political blackmailer, police informer and millionaire gonif.

Jan 162014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* AMERICA IS PLUNGING INTO KAFKA’S NIGHTMARE

By Brandon Smith, Alt-Market

There is a certain level of dishonesty in the common study of history. We look back at the tyrannies of the past, the monstrous governments, the devastating wars and the unimaginable crimes, and we wonder how it could have been possible. How could the people of that particular generation let such atrocities come to pass? Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they protest? Why didn’t they fight back?

We wonder all of this as we absorb the lists of dates, names and actions in books written by other men who memorized other lists of dates, names and actions. We are taught to study and wonder without ever actually applying the lessons of the past to the developments of today. We are conditioned to assert our own narrow spin on yesterday, instead of placing ourselves in the shoes of our ancestors or recognizing that their struggles remain our struggles. The modern method of viewing history detaches us from it, making it seem distant, alien or surreal.

Perhaps many societies fail to prepare or act in the face of tyranny because they had forgotten their own histories, making the demise of their culture appear so schizophrenic they would not believe what their eyes were telling them.

Often, the only way to grasp the more complete truth of the present is to examine it through the lens of the absurd. Sadly, our Nation, our culture and most of the world around us have become so backward, ugly, feeble and twisted that the only adequate comparison is to the nightmares of surrealists.

When I examine recent U.S. legislation, the exposure of classified documents, and the openly admitted criminality of political leadership, I am consistently reminded of Franz Kafka’s The Trial. […]

[…] In the U.S. today, the kind of establishment terror Kafka imagined is indeed a reality. We are not on the verge of a total surveillance state, we are there. It exists. And if we do not accept that this is our social condition, there may be no historians tomorrow to look back on our era and wonder: “Why didn’t they do something? Why didn’t they fight back?” […]

[…] The Web cannot be made free or private from within; our courts cannot be made fair and just from within; neither political party can be forced to represent the common man from within; and our government cannot be made honest or transparent from within. To play games of activism within establishment dominated systems is to play make-believe within a surrealist nightmare; a piece of “Alice in Wonderland” political quackery. Like the audience at Josef’s trial, the elites simply laugh at such activists, or feign applause, while continuing forever with the same corruption and the criminal status quo. […]

READ @ http://www.alt-market.com/articles/1939-america-is-plunging-into-kafkas-nightmare

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* THIS IS WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU WATCH MAINSTREAM MEDIA TV NEWS

Source: The Onion

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=guaLbl_WmVw&feature=youtu.be

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* TPP: POISON OF LOCAL COMMUNITY RESILIENCE

By Richard Heinberg

DonkeyHotey-Flickr-Carver-TPP-300x300

The past couple of decades of globalization have been a disaster for planetary ecosystems, indigenous peoples, and most middle-class citizens, but a gravy train for big investors, investment bankers, and managers of transnational corporations. This unprecedented expansion of international trade was driven by the convergence of key resources, developments, and inventions: cheap oil, satellite communications, container ships, computerized monitoring of inventories, the flourishing of multinational corporations, the proliferation of liberal trade treaties (including NAFTA), and the emergence of transnational bodies such as the World Trade Organization.

Economists said everyone would eventually benefit, but casualties quickly mounted. Inflation-adjusted wages for American workers stagnated. Manufacturing towns throughout the Northeast and Midwest withered. Meanwhile, China began burning immense amounts of coal to make mountains of toys, furniture, clothing, tools, appliances, and consumer electronics, cloaking its cities in a pall of toxic fumes and driving its greenhouse gas emissions to world record-setting levels. In effect, the United States has been importing cheap consumer goods while exporting jobs and polluting industries. In both China and the US, levels of economic inequality have soared.

Now comes the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a new trade deal negotiated in secret (only corporations get to contribute to, and look at, the draft language). The point of the Treaty: to double down on globalization at precisely the moment in time when the entire enterprise is beginning to fail as a result of stubbornly high oil prices, worsening climate change impacts (floods, droughts, wildfires), debt deflation, and middle-class fears of losing even more ground. […]

[…] Educate yourself on the issue (see this fact sheet) and let your congressional representatives know what you think by contacting them here. […]

READ @ http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/15-0

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* FTA EU-MERCOSUR: WHY DO ONLY THE NEGOTIATORS WANT TO SIGN IT?

By Aram Aharonian, CADTM

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A Free Trade Agreement (FTA), under the conditions posed by the European Union (EU) for other countries (such as Colombia and Peru), is totally in contradiction with the goal of independent economic development that governments of Mercosur (the Common Market of the South) have repeatedly put forward, having rejected the proposal of a similar agreement, the ALCA, with the United States in 2005.

Even without designating it as a “Free Trade” agreement, but rather as one of “economic cooperation”, as the European Union has done in other cases, what is proposed is similar, and perhaps even more negative, than many Free Trade Agreements that have encountered strong resistance in Argentina and Venezuela, and important opposition in Brazil.

Among the predicted impacts of a Free Trade Agreement are a significant increase in unemployment, due to the liberalization of trade in industrial and agricultural products, the fall in salaries associated with unemployment; and in addition, a fall in tax revenue, along with serious impacts in the reduction of expenses in health, education and social programmes.

But the most serious problem is in the secrecy with which such public affairs are being conducted. Given the possible consequences for the peoples concerned, these negotiations cannot be left in the hands of a group of “specialists” and the pressures of interest groups or sectarian or biased media. There must be consultation with the people, opening all the conditions to debate, eliminating the levels of confidentiality demanded by European negotiators. There is a need for real transparency. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/FTA-EU-MERCOSUR-Why-do-only-the

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* MAPPING LI(E)BORGATE – PRESENTING THE OCTOPUS IN THE LIBOR-RIGGING SCANDAL

By Tyler Durden, zerohedge

What is the LIBOR?

The Libor manipulation scandal has, as WSJ reports, ensnared at least 17 financial institutions and 22 individuals in a wide-ranging investigation spanning 11 countries and four continents. So far, it has netted at least $5 billion in penalties, with more on the way. The Wall Street Journal has taken the most complete list of allegedly involved parties and mapped an extensive web of 298 reported connections that reveals the depth of the alleged conspiracy from the ‘alleged’ ringleader Tom Hayes and involving practically ever major bank in the world.

Full Interactive “Spider-Web” here.

The alleged ringleader… Tom Hayes…

Former UBS and Citigroup trader, criminally charged with fraud in U.S. and U.K. Pleaded not guilty to U.K. charges; hasn’t entered a plea to U.S. charges. Told WSJ that “this goes much much higher than me.” The institutions and individuals in the web allegedly worked with him to manipulate rates or previously employed him when he was allegedly manipulating rates, according to the U.S. Justice Department, U.K. Serious Fraud Office and people familiar with the investigation. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-01-15/mapping-lieborgate-presenting-octopus-libor-rigging-scandal

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* WIKILEAKS: DEFEATING THE CONSPIRACY OF GOVERNANCE

By Nozomi Hayase, RoarMag

The contagious courage of the whistleblowers — from Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden — is helping to defeat the conspiracy of illegitimate governance. Illustration by Latuff

The contagious courage of the whistleblowers — from Chelsea Manning to Edward Snowden — is helping to defeat the conspiracy of illegitimate governance.
Illustration by Latuff

In 2010, ongoing wars and government corruption spread through a fog of apathy. The world appeared to be reaching a tipping point for either global crisis or transformation. In this climate, WikiLeaks emerged into the limelight like a call to the conscience of humanity. Over the last few years, they released secret documents revealing Kenyan government corruption, Iceland’s financial collapse, the criminality of US wars in the Middle East and more. Their very existence and what they revealed called into question the legitimacy of imperial power structures around the world.

Ever since its initial public insurrection, WikiLeaks kept making the headlines. In spite of founder Julian Assange being immobilized — first under house arrest and then confined in the Ecuadorian embassy in London — the stateless organization has continued to publish documents, shedding light on corruption and abuse of power. One might well have thought the life of this transparency advocacy group would be over after the massive US government retaliation and financial blockades by PayPal, Visa and other US financial giants. Yet, in the year 2013, WikiLeaks showed itself to be resilient and relevant as ever by releasing a secretive draft of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) treaty and aiding the world’s most wanted whistle-blower, Edward Snowden, in his quest for asylum.

The inception of the WikiLeaks whistle-blowing website goes all the way back to late 2006. At that time, Assange wrote a kind of Manifesto called Conspiracy as Governance. In analyzing how corruption and secrecy are tied together, he described how “illegitimate governance is by definition conspiratorial—the product of functionaries working in collaborative secrecy … to the detriment of a population.” […

READ @ http://roarmag.org/2014/01/wikileaks-conspiracy-of-governance/

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* GREECE AND THE FUTURE OF THE EUROPEAN UNION

By Iddhis Bing, indiegogo

“We have it in our power to begin the world over again.” – Tom Paine

Most people are unaware of what’s going on in Greece. If you have read anything it’s on the order of, “Greece is going through economic difficulties while it restructures its economy, forcing it to make painful adjustments.”

The reality is far more devastating and has implications for the rest of the world. And yet reliable, in-depth reporting is hard to come by. As an independent journalist, I’m going to Greece to investigate the truth behind the news.

The New York Times said recently that Greece’s “blighted economy” was “plunging further towards the Abyss.” Public services have been cut in half, unemployment is 30% or worse (3 youths out of 5 under 24 unemployed), suicide is at an all-time high, and an openly Nazi party has 18 seats in the Greek Parliament and rampages through the streets. You didn’t read any of that wrong. The IMF and the banks meanwhile demand ever more concessions. All of this passes under the radar of the mainstream media. That’s why I’m going to see and write about it.

The Greeks protest on a daily basis, villages wage low-intensity battles against mining operations in the countryside, and those who can choose exile. A new political party is contesting the old dinosaurs in local spring elections and the European Union. It’s a serious matter when Nazis are back on the playing field.

Greece, one of Europe’s oldest cultures, is its new reality. Even the conservative Katheramini newspaper recently admitted that the country “may cease to be a viable nation state.” It’s time English-language readers had a chance to see that culture and its current impasse up-close.

Since everything we read about the splendid progress being made in Greece comes courtesy of politicians and the IMF, this writer has decided to report from the other side of the mirror: I’m going to Greece to record the stories of what people are going through, about survival in difficult times, people’s reflections on the society they live in, its conflicts and contradictions.

If it can happen in Greece, it can happen where you live. The economic model being imposed on the Greeks is already being exported to other countries in the European Union and has plenty of adherents in the United States.

Right now we have a chance to be participants. But we can only do that if we know what’s happening, and for that we need reports from the real world. You can help me get the real story out. You can give a human face to what is happening in Greece. Awareness is power. […]

READ / VIDEO @ http://www.indiegogo.com/projects/greece-and-the-future-of-the-european-union

Jan 142014
 

By Iddhis Bing, 99GetSmart

I’ve been writing and reading about European politics, and Greece in particular, for a while now. Long enough, in any case, to call myself reasonably informed. But Greece is a special case. We stay up on the news and know about the Shadow Cabinet in Westminister in great detail; about Angela Merkel’s telephone and her fall on the ski slopes; about François Hollande’s midnight rides on a scooter across Paris to visit his new girlfriend – and yet, apart from sites like 99GetSmart, there’s a kind of news blackout concerning Greece. Maybe people don’t want to know. They can’t bear it. They suspect they might be next.

But Greece really is an exception, isn’t it? So the argument runs. Its ancient culture, its oligarchs, its Mediterreanan dependence on agriculture, its subterreanean ties to the ancient cults in the Near East, all of these things added together… therein lies the contradiction at the heart of what I am going to propose to you: that Greece is different culturally, that many other European states were opposed to its entry into the Union and it only got in through with the help of some imaginative book-keeping, and yet its fate and ours are now inextricably linked. The only meaningful difference being that Greece is ahead of us on line to the scaffold.

And so I got the crazy idea that I would go to Greece and report what I saw. The proposed trip is now up on Indiegogo, the crowdfunding site. The goal is to write a book which gives us a sense of the human reality in a country trapped between the Scylla and Carybdis of the financiers and the politicos.

This idea is a reality because Linda Ross encouraged me, badgered me, supplied me with endless contacts in Greece – which resulted in articles here on 99 and elsewhere – and essentially wouldn’t give up until I said I was going.

I’ve been writing for 99 since it picked up one of my pieces. Actually, Linda lifted an article from another site and reposted it and I wrote her to ask her who the hell did she think she was. (Little did I know back then. I was a newbie.) I was lucky – theft is the sincerest form of flattery. And thus began a conversation that’s still chugging along fruitfully.

The economy of internet journalism is the pits. Everybody knows that. And if you’re not in the business of taking cheesy ads or innovating your way to the next time-saver app, it hurts on the publishing side as well. Nobody knows what’s coming next but Linda meanwhile plugs away and keeps a terrifically informative site currant. Hats off, says I.

You, the reader, can help out. You read 99GetSmart on a regular basis so you know better than most what’s going on in Greece and maybe you feel we should get the word out to a larger public, especially among the Anglos (as the world calls us when they aren’t inventing much kinder names). You can visit Greece and the Future of the European Union and chip in a few dollars or euros or whatever you have laying around. And you can spread the word, both about 99 and the crowdfunding project. Pass it around, post it, repost it, tweet it, let your friends know that a writer is going to Greece and will report back what he sees and hears.

Merci en avance, as they say in these parts.

Bing

Jan 122014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

George H. W. Bush and Bandar "Bush"

George H. W. Bush and Bandar “Bush”

Introduction

Saudi Arabia has all the vices and none of the virtues of an oil rich state like Venezuela.  The country is governed by a family dictatorship which tolerates no opposition and severely punishes human rights advocates and political dissidents.  Hundreds of billions in oil revenues are controlled by the royal despotism and fuel speculative investments the world over.  The ruling elite relies on the purchase of Western arms and US military bases for protection.  The wealth of productive nations is syphoned to enrich the conspicuous consumption of the Saudi ruling family.  The ruling elite finances the most fanatical, retrograde, misogynist version of Islam, “Wahhabi” a sect of Sunni Islam.

Faced with internal dissent from repressed subjects and religious minorities, the Saudi dictatorship perceives threats and dangers from all sides:  overseas, secular, nationalists and Shia ruling governments; internally, moderate Sunni nationalists, democrats and feminists; within the royalist cliques, traditionalists and modernizers.  In response it has turned toward financing, training and arming an international network of Islamic terrorists who are directed toward attacking, invading and destroying regimes opposed to the Saudi clerical-dictatorial regime.

The mastermind of the Saudi terror network is Bandar bin Sultan, who has longstanding and deep ties to high level US political, military and intelligence officials.  Bandar was trained and indoctrinated at Maxwell Air Force Base and Johns Hopkins University and served as Saudi Ambassador to the US for over two decades (1983 – 2005).  Between 2005 – 2011 he was Secretary of the National Security Council and in 2012 he was appointed as Director General of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.  Early on Bandar became deeply immersed in clandestine terror operations working in liaison with the CIA.  Among his numerous “dirty operations” with the CIA during the 1980s, Bandar channeled $32 million dollars to the Nicaragua Contra’s engaged in a terror campaign to overthrow the revolutionary Sandinista government in Nicaragua.  During his tenure as ambassador he was actively engaged in protecting Saudi royalty with ties to the 9/11/01 bombing of the Triple Towers and the Pentagon.  Suspicion that Bandar and his allies in the Royal family had prior knowledge of the bombings by Saudi terrorists (11 of the 19), is suggested by the sudden flight of Saudi Royalty following the terrorist act.  US intelligence documents regarding the Saudi-Bandar connection are under Congressional review.

With a wealth of experience and training in running clandestine terrorist operations, derived from his two decades of collaboration with the US intelligence agencies, Bandar was in a position to organize his own global terror network in defense of the isolated retrograde and vulnerable Saudi despotic monarchy.

Bandar’s Terror Network

Bandar bin Sultan has transformed Saudi Arabia from an inward-looking, tribal based regime totally dependent on US military power for its survival, to a major regional center of a vast terror network, an active financial backer of rightwing military dictatorships (Egypt) and client regimes (Yemen) and military interventor in the Gulf region (Bahrain).  Bandar has financed and armed a vast array of clandestine terror operations, utilizing Islamic affiliates of Al Qaeda, the Saudi controlled Wahhabi sect as well as numerous other Sunni armed groups.  Bandar is a “pragmatic” terrorist operator:  repressing Al Qaeda adversaries in Saudi Arabia and financing Al Qaeda terrorists in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and elsewhere.,  While Bandar was a long-term asset of the US intelligence services, he has, more recently, taken an ‘independent course’ where the regional interests of the despotic state diverge  from those of the US.  In the same vein, while Saudi Arabia has a longstanding enmity toward Israel, Bandar has developed a “covert understanding” and working relation with the Netanyahu regime, around their common enmity toward Iran and more specifically in opposition to the interim agreement between the Obama-Rohani regime.

Bandar has intervened directly or via proxies in reshaping political alignments, destabilizing adversaries and bolstering and expanding the political reach of the Saudi dictatorship from North Africa to South Asia, from the Russian Caucuses to the Horn of Africa, sometimes in concert with Western imperialism, other times projecting Saudi hegemonic aspirations.

North Africa:  Tunisia, Morocco, Libya and Egypt

Bandar has poured billions of dollars to bolster the rightwing pro-Islamic regimes in Tunisia and Morocco, ensuring that the mass pro-democracy movements would be repressed, marginalized and demobilized.. Islamic extremists receiving Saudi financial support are encouraged to back the “moderate” Islamists in government by assassinating secular democratic leaders and socialist trade union leaders in opposition.  Bandar’s policies largely coincide with those of the US and France in Tunisia and Morocco; but not in Libya and Egypt.

Saudi financial backing for Islamist terrorists and Al Qaeda affiliates against Libyan President Gadhafi were in-line with the NATO air war.  However divergences emerged in the aftermath:  the NATO backed client regime made up of neo-liberal ex-pat’s faced off against Saudi backed Al Qaeda and Islamist terror gangs and assorted tribal gunmen and marauders.  Bandar funded Islamic extremists in Libya were bankrolled  to extend their military operations to Syria, where the Saudi regime was organizing a vast military operation to overthrow the Assad regime.  The internecine conflict between NATO and Saudi armed groups in Libya, spilled over and led to the Islamist murder of the US Ambassador and CIA operatives in Benghazi.  Having overthrown Gadhafi, Bandar virtually abandoned interest in the ensuing blood bath and chaos provoked by his armed assets.  They in turn, became self-financing – robbing banks, pilfering oil and emptying local treasuries – relatively “independent” of Bandar’s control.

In Egypt, Bandar developed, in coordination with Israel (but for different reasons), a strategy of undermining the relatively independent, democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood regime of Mohammed Morsi.  Bandar and the Saudi dictatorship financially backed the military coup and dictatorship of General Sisi.  The US strategy of a power-sharing agreement between the Moslem Brotherhood and the military regime, combining popular electoral legitimacy and the pro-Israel-pro NATO military was sabotaged.  With a $15 billion aid package and promises of more to come, Bandar provided the Egyptian military a financial lifeline and economic immunity from any international financial reprisals.  None were taken of any consequences.  The military crushed the Brotherhood, jailed and threatened to execute its elected leaders.  It outlawed sectors of the liberal-left opposition which it had used as cannon fodder to justify its seizure of power.  In backing the military coup, Bandar eliminated a rival, democratically elected Islamic regime which stood in contrast to the Saudi despotism.  He secured a like-minded dictatorial regime in a key Arab country, even though the military rulers are more secular, pro-Western, pro-Israel and less anti-Assad than the Brotherhood regime.  Bandar’s success in greasing the wheels for the Egyptian coup secured a political ally but faces an uncertain future.

The revival of a new anti-dictatorial mass movement would also target the Saudi connection.  Moreover Bandar undercut and weakened Gulf State unity:  Qatar had financed the Morsi regime and was out $5 billion dollars it had extended to the previous regime.

Bandar’s terror network is most evident in his long-term large scale financing, arming, training and transport of tens of thousands of Islamic terrorist “volunteers” from the US, Europe, the Middle East, the Caucuses, North Africa and elsewhere.. Al Qaeda terrorists in Saudi Arabia became “martyrs of Islam” in Syria.  Dozens of Islamic armed gangs in Syria competed for Saudi arms and funds.  Training bases with US and European instructors and Saudi financing were established in Jordan, Pakistan and Turkey.  Bandar financed the major ‘rebel’ Islamic terrorist armed group, the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, for cross border operations.

With Hezbollah supporting Assad, Bandar directed money and arms to the Abdullah Azzam Brigades in Lebanon to bomb South Beirut, the Iranian embassy and Tripoli.  Bandar directed $3 billion to the Lebanese military with the idea of fomenting a new civil war between it and Hezbollah.  In co-ordination with France and the US, but with far greater funding and greater latitude to recruit Islamic terrorist, Bandar assumed the leading role and became the principle director of a three front military and diplomatic offensive against Syria, Hezbollah and Iran.  For Bandar, an Islamic takeover in Syria would lead to an Islamic Syrian invasion in support of Al Qaeda in Lebanon to defeat Hezbollah in hopes of isolating Iran.  Teheran would then become the target of a Saudi-Israeli-US offensive.  Bandar’s strategy is more fantasy then reality.

Bandar Diverges from Washington:  the Offensive in Iraq and Iran

Saudi Arabia has been an extremely useful but sometimes out of control client of Washington.  This is especially the case since Bandar has taken over as Intelligence chief:  a long-time asset of the CIA he has also, at times, taken the liberty to extract “favors” for his services, especially when those “favors” enhance his upward advance within the Saudi power structure.  Hence, for example, his ability to secure AWACs despite AIPAC opposition earned him merit points.  As did Bandar’s ability to secure the departure of several hundred Saudi ‘royalty’ with ties to the 9/11 bombers, despite a high level national security lockdown in the aftermath of the bombing.

While there were episodic transgressions in the past, Bandar moved on to more serious divergences from US policy.  He went ahead, building his own terror network, directed toward maximizing Saudi hegemony – even where it conflicted with US proxies, clients and clandestine operatives.

While the US is committed to backing the rightwing Malicki regime in Iraq, Bandar is providing political, military and financial backing to the Sunni terrorist “Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”. When the US negotiated the “interim agreement” with Iran Bandar voiced his opposition and “bought” support.  Saudi signed off on a billion dollar arms agreement during French President Hollande’s visit, in exchange for greater sanctions on Iran.  Bandar also expressed support for Israel’s use of the Zionist power configuration to influence the Congress, to sabotage US negotiations with Iran.

Bandar has moved beyond his original submission to US intelligence handlers.  His close ties with past and present US and EU presidents and political influentials have encouraged him to engage in “Big Power adventures”.  He met with Russian President Putin to convince him to drop his support for Syria, offering a carrot or a stick: a multi-billion dollar arms sale for compliance and a threat to unleash Chechnyian terrorists to undermine the Sochi Olympics.  He has turned Erdogan from a NATO ally supporting ‘moderate’ armed opponents to Bashar Assad, into embracing the Saudi backed ‘Islamic State of Iraq and Syria”, a terrorist Al Qaeda affiliate.  Bandar has “overlooked” Erdogan’s “opportunist” efforts to sign off oil deals with Iran and Iraq, his continuing military arrangements with NATO and his past backing of the defunct Morsi regime in Egypt, in order to secure Erdogan’s support for the easy transit of large numbers of Saudi trained terrorists to Syria and probably Lebanon.

Bandar has strengthened ties with the armed Taliban in Afghanistan and Pakistan, arming and financing their armed resistance against the US, as well as offering the US a site for a ‘negotiated departure’.

Bandar is probably supporting and arming Uighur Muslim terrorists in western China, and Chechens and Caucasian Islamic terrorists in Russia, even as the Saudi’s expand their oil agreements with China and cooperate with Russia’s Gazprom.

The only region where the Saudi’s have exercised direct military intervention is in the Gulf min-state of Bahrain, where Saudi troops crushed the pro-democracy movement challenging the local despot.

Bandar:  Global Terror on Dubious Domestic Foundations

Bandar has embarked on an extraordinary transformation of Saudi foreign policy and enhanced its global influence.  All to the worst.  Like Israel, when a reactionary ruler comes to power and overturns the democratic order, Saudi arrives on the scene with bags of dollars to buttress the regime.  Whenever an Islamic terror network emerges to subvert a nationalist, secular or Shia regime, it can count on Saudi funds and arms.  What some Western scribes euphemistically describe as “tenuous effort to liberalize and modernize” the retrograde Saudi regime, is really a military upgrade of its overseas terrorist activity.  Bandar uses modern techniques of terror to impose the Saudi model of reactionary rule on neighboring and distant regimes with Muslim populations.

The problem is that Bandar’s “adventurous” large scale overseas operations conflict with some of the ruling Royal family’s “introspective” style of rulership.  They want to be left alone to accrue hundreds of billions collecting petrol rents, to invest in high-end properties around the world, and to quietly patronize high end call girls in Washington, London and Beirut –while posing as pious guardians of Medina, Mecca and the Holy sites.  So far Bandar has not been challenged, because he has been careful to pay his respects to the ruling monarch and his inner circle.  He has bought and brought Western and Eastern prime ministers, presidents and other respectable notable to Riyadh to sign deals and pay compliments to the delight of the reigning despot.  Yet his solicitous behavior to overseas Al Qaeda operations, his encouraging Saudi extremists to go overseas and engage in terrorist wars, disturbs monarchical circles.   They worry that Saudis trained, armed and knowledgeable terrorists – dubbed as “holy warriors” – may return from Syria, Russia and Iraq and bomb the Kings palaces.  Moreover, oversea regimes targeted by Bandar’s terror network may retaliate:  Russia or Iran, Syrians, Egyptians, Pakistanis, Iraqis may just sponsor their own instruments of retaliation.  Despite the hundreds of billions spent on arms purchases, the Saudi regime is very vulnerable on all levels.  Apart from tribal legions, the billionaire elite have little popular support and even less legitimacy.  It depends on overseas migrant labor, foreign “experts” and US military forces.  The Saudi elite is also despised by the most religious of the Wahhabi clergy for allowing “infidels” on sacred terrain.  While Bandar extends Saudi power abroad, the domestic foundations of rule are narrowing.  While he defies US policymakers in Syria, Iran and Afghanistan, the regime depends on the US Air Force and Seventh Fleet to protect it from a growing array of adversarial regimes.

Bandar, with his inflated ego, may believe that he is a “Saladin” building a new Islamic empire, but in reality, by waving one finger his patron monarch can lead to his rapid dismissal.  One too many provocative civilian bombings by his Islamic terrorist beneficiaries can lead to an international crises leading to Saudi Arabia becoming the target of world opprobrium.

In reality, Bandar bin Sultan is the protégé and successor of Bin Laden; he has deepened and systematized global terrorism.  Bandar’s terror network has murdered far more innocent victims than Bin Laden.  That, of course, is to be expected; after all he has billions of dollars from the Saudi treasury, training from the CIA and the handshake of Netanyahu!

Jan 102014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

americacowers

“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” – President Woodrow Wilson, Paris Peace Conference, 1919

The horrors reported each day from Syria and Iraq are enough to make one cry; in particular, the atrocities carried out by the al-Qaeda types: floggings; beheadings; playing soccer with the heads; cutting open dead bodies to remove organs just for mockery; suicide bombers, car bombs, the ground littered with human body parts; countless young children traumatized for life; the imposition of sharia law, including bans on music … What century are we living in? What millennium? What world?

People occasionally write to me that my unwavering antagonism toward American foreign policy is misplaced; that as awful as Washington’s Museum of Horrors is, al-Qaeda is worse and the world needs the United States to combat the awful jihadists.

“Let me tell you about the very rich,” F. Scott Fitzgerald famously wrote. “They are different from you and me.”

And let me tell you about American leaders. In power, they don’t think the way you and I do. They don’t feel the way you and I do. They have supported “awful jihadists” and their moral equivalents for decades. Let’s begin in 1979 in Afghanistan, where the Moujahedeen (“holy warriors”) were in battle against a secular, progressive government supported by the Soviet Union; a “favorite tactic” of the Moujahedeen was “to torture victims [often Russians] by first cutting off their nose, ears, and genitals, then removing one slice of skin after another”, producing “a slow, very painful death”. 1

With America’s massive and indispensable military backing in the 1980s, Afghanistan’s last secular government (bringing women into the 20th century) was overthrown, and out of the victorious Moujahedeen arose al Qaeda.

During this same period the United States was supporting the infamous Khmer Rouge of Cambodia; yes, the same charming lads of Pol Pot and The Killing Fields. 2

President Carter’s National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, was a leading force behind the US support of both the Moujahedeen and the Khmer Rouge. What does that tell you about that American leader? Or Jimmy Carter – an inspiration out of office, but a rather different person in the White House? Or Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama, who chose Brzezinski as one of his advisers?

Another proud example of the United States fighting the awful jihadists is Kosovo, an overwhelmingly Muslim province of Serbia. The Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) began an armed conflict with Belgrade in the early 1990s to split Kosovo from Serbia. The KLA was considered a terrorist organization by the US, the UK and France for years, with numerous reports of the KLA having contact with al-Qaeda, getting arms from them, having its militants trained in al-Qaeda camps in Pakistan, and even having members of al-Qaeda in KLA ranks fighting against Serbia. 3 But Washington’s imperialists, more concerned about dealing a blow to Serbia, “the last communist government in Europe”, supported the KLA.

The KLA have been known for their torture and trafficking in women, heroin, and human body parts (sic). 4 The United States has naturally been pushing for Kosovo’s membership in NATO and the European Union.

More recently the US has supported awful jihadists in Libya and Syria, with awful consequences.

It would, moreover, be difficult to name a single brutal dictatorship of the second half of the 20th Century that was not supported by the United States; not only supported, but often put into power and kept in power against the wishes of the population. And in recent years as well, Washington has supported very repressive governments, such as Saudi Arabia, Honduras, Indonesia, Egypt, Colombia, Qatar, and Israel.

Not exactly the grand savior our sad old world is yearning for. (Oh, did I mention that Washington’s policies create a never-ending supply of terrorists?)

And what do American leaders think of their own record? Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was probably speaking for the whole private club when she wrote that in the pursuit of its national security the United States no longer needed to be guided by “notions of international law and norms” or “institutions like the United Nations” because America was “on the right side of history.” 5

If you’ve never done anything you wouldn’t want the government to know about, you should re-examine your life choices.

“The idea is to build an antiterrorist global environment,” a senior American defense official said in 2003, “so that in 20 to 30 years, terrorism will be like slave-trading, completely discredited.” 6

One must wonder: When will the dropping of bombs on innocent civilians by the United States, and invading and occupying their country become completely discredited? When will the use of depleted uranium, cluster bombs, CIA torture renditions, and round-the-world, round-the-clock surveillance become things that even men like George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Barack Obama, and John Brennan will be too embarrassed to defend?

Last month, a former National Security Agency official told the Washington Post that the Agency’s workers are polishing up their résumés and asking that they be cleared – removing any material linked to classified programs – so they can be sent out to potential employers. He noted that one employee who processes the résumés said, “I’ve never seen so many résumés that people want to have cleared in my life.” 7

Morale is “bad overall”, said another former official. “The news – the Snowden disclosures – it questions the integrity of the NSA workforce,” he said. “It’s become very public and very personal. Literally, neighbors are asking people, ‘Why are you spying on Grandma?’ And we aren’t. People are feeling bad, beaten down.” 8

President Obama was recently moved to declare that he would be proposing “some self-restraint on the NSA” and “some reforms that can give people more confidence.” He also said “In some ways, the technology and the budgets and the capacity [at NSA] have outstripped the constraints. And we’ve got to rebuild those in the same way that we’re having to do on a whole series of capacities … [such as] drone operations.” 9

Well, dear readers and comrades, we shall see. But if you’re looking for a glimmer of hope to begin a new year, you may as well try grabbing onto these little offerings. When the American Empire crumbles, abroad and at home, as one day it must, Edward Snowden’s courageous actions may well be seen as one of the key steps along that road. I’ve long maintained that only the American people have the power to stop The Imperial Machine – the monster that eats the world’s environment, screws up its economies, and spews violence on every continent. And for that to happen the American people have to lose their deep-seated, quasi-religious belief in “American Exceptionalism”. For many, what they’ve been forced to learn the past six months has undoubtedly worn deep holes into the protective armor that has surrounded their hearts and minds since childhood.

A surprising and exhilarating example of one of these holes in the armor is the New Year’s day editorial in the New York Times that is now well known. Entitled “Edward Snowden, Whistle-blower” – itself a legitimation of his actions – its key part says: “Considering the enormous value of the information he has revealed, and the abuses he has exposed, Mr. Snowden deserves better than a life of permanent exile, fear and flight. He may have committed a crime to do so, but he has done his country a great service.”

The president has been moved to appoint a committee to study NSA abuses. This of course is a standard bureaucratic maneuver to keep critics at bay. But the committee – Review Group on Intelligence and Communications Technologies – did come up with a few unexpected recommendations in its report presented December 13, the most interesting of which perhaps are these two:

“Governments should not use surveillance to steal industry secrets to advantage their domestic industry.”

“Governments should not use their offensive cyber capabilities to change the amounts held in financial accounts or otherwise manipulate the financial systems.” 10

The first recommendation refers to a practice, though certainly despicable, that is something the United States has been doing, and lying about, for decades. 11 Just this past September, James Clapper, Director of US National Intelligence, declared: “What we do not do, as we have said many times, is use our foreign intelligence capabilities to steal the trade secrets of foreign companies.” 12

Clapper is the same gentleman who told Congress in March that the NSA does not intentionally collect any kind of data on millions of Americans; and, when subsequently challenged on this remark, declared: “I responded in what I thought was the most truthful, or least untruthful, manner by saying ‘no’.” 13

The second recommendation had not been revealed before, in a Snowden document or from any other source.

“That was a strangely specific recommendation for something nobody was talking about,” observed the director of a government transparency group. 14

ABC News reported that “A spokesperson for the NSA declined to comment on the issue of bank account hacking, and a representative for U.S. Cyber Command did not immediately return an emailed request for comment.” 15

Manipulating bank records is about as petty and dishonorable as a superpower can behave, and could conceivably, eventually, lead to the end of the NSA as we’ve all come to know and love it. On the other hand, the Agency no doubt holds some very embarrassing information about anyone in a position to do them harm.

The bombing of Flight 103 – Case closed?

When the 25th anniversary of the 1988 bombing of PanAm Flight 103 occurred on December 21 I was fully expecting the usual repetitions of the false accusation against Libya and Moammar Gaddafi as being responsible for the act which took the lives of 270 people over and in Lockerbie, Scotland. But much to my surprise, mingled with such, there were a rash of comments skeptical of the official British-US version, made by various people in Scotland and elsewhere, including by the governments of the United States, the United Kingdom and Libya.

In a joint statement the three governments said they were determined to unearth the truth behind the attack. “We want all those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism brought to justice, and to understand why it was committed”, they declared. 16

Remarkable. In 1991, the United States indicted a Libyan named Adelbaset al-Megrahi. He was eventually found guilty of being the sole perpetrator of the crime, kept in prison for many years, and finally released in 2009 when he had terminal cancer, allegedly for humanitarian reasons, although an acute smell of oil could be detected. And now they speak of bringing to justice “those responsible for this brutal act of terrorism”.

The 1988 crime was actually organized by Iran in retaliation for the American shooting down of an Iranian passenger plane in July of the same year, which took the lives of 290 people. It was carried out by the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine – General Command (PFLP-GC), a 1968 breakaway from a component of the Palestine Liberation Organization, with some help from Syria. And this version was very widely accepted in the Western world, in government and media circles. Until the US buildup to the Gulf War came along in 1990 and the support of Iran and Syria was needed. Then, suddenly, we were told that it was Libya behind the crime.

If the US and UK now wish to return to Iran, and perhaps Syria, as the culprits, they will have a lot of explaining to do about their previous lie. But these two governments always have a lot of explaining to do. They’re good at it. And the great bulk of their indoctrinated citizens, with little resistance, will accept the new/old party line, and their mainstream media will effortlessly switch back to the old/new official version, since Iran and Syria are at the top of the current list of Bad Guys. (The PFLP-GC has been quiescent for some time and may scarcely exist.)

If you’re confused by all this, I suggest that you start by reading my detailed article on the history of this case, written in 2001 but still very informative and relevant. You may be rather surprised.

The UK, US and Libyan governments have now announced that they will co-operate to reveal “the full facts” of the Lockerbie bombing. And Robert Mueller, the former head of the FBI, said he believes more people will be charged. This could be very interesting.

Notes

  1. Washington Post May 11, 1979; New York Times, April 13 1979
  2. William Blum, “Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower” (2005), chapter 10
  3. RT TV (Russia Today, Moscow), May 4, 2012
  4. Associated Press, December 14, 2010
  5. Foreign Affairs (Council on Foreign Relations), January/February 2000 issue
  6. New York Times, January 17, 2003
  7. Washington Post, December 7, 2013
  8. Washington Post, December 18, 2013
  9. Washington Post, December 7, 2013
  10. “Liberty and Security in a Changing World”, p.221
  11. See Anti-Empire Report, #118, June 26, 2013, second part
  12. Statement by Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper on Allegations of Economic Espionage, September 8, 2013
  13. NBC News, June 9, 2013
  14. Kel McLanahan, executive director of National Security Counselors, speaking toABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
  15. ABC News Radio, December 23, 2013
  16. Reuters news agency, December 22, 2013