Apr 292014
 

El análisis de James Petras, 99GetSmart

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“Estados Unidos están moviendo fuerzas en todos lados para -tal vez- provocar una guerra con Rusia” dijo advirtiendo que lo hacía “con mucha precaución”, el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras en CX36. Petras dedicó casi todo su espacio semanal por Radio Centenario (*) a analizar la escalada conflictiva provocada por Estados Unidos y la OTAN en Ucrania. “El señor Obama está creando una situación de máxima tensión, empujando a Rusia cada vez más a responder”, afirmó y agregó que “el otro factor que influye sobre esta situación son los medios de comunicación de masas que están bombardeando al público tanto en Europa como en EEUU, demonizando a Rusia, como si la situación en Crimea fuera la punta de lanza del conflicto y no el golpe de Estado y las medidas represivas de la junta de gobierno de Kiev”. Transcribimos el análisis de la coyuntura internacional realizado por James Petras en CX36 este lunes 28 de abril de 2014 que Usted puede volver a escuchar ingresando en el siguiente link: http://www.ivoox.com/james-petras-28-abril-audios-mp3_rf_3064977_1.html

Efraín Chury Iribarne: Buenos días, James Petras, bienvenido a Radio Centenario.

James Petras: Buenos días, todo bien por aquí.

EChI: ¿Qué tema preocupa hoy a James Petras?

JP: Podríamos empezar con la más peligrosa que es la situación en Ucrania, donde los Estados Unidos están moviendo fuerzas en todos lados para -tal vez- provocar una guerra con Rusia.

Digo esto con mucha precaución, porque hoy hablar de guerra significa una guerra nuclear. Pero aparentemente, dados los datos que tenemos Barack Obama quiere imponer nuevas sanciones, está apoyando la militarización del Este de Ucrania; está mandando tropas norteamericanas a Polonia y a los países bálticos, está movilizando la flota al Mar Negro. A la vez se ha indicado que Estados Unidos tiene preparadas otras medidas más agresivas para fortalecer por ejemplo a los sectores más militarizados en Ucrania; se habla de una confrontación entre fuerzas rusas y ucranianas pendientes.  En otras palabras, el señor Obama está creando una situación de máxima tensión y empujando a Rusia cada vez más a responder.

Por ejemplo ayer, las fuerzas respaldadas por  EEUU asesinaron al Alcalde de Járkov, Guennadi Kernes, que era un apoyante de la política autonomista, es decir era un Alcalde electo que apoyaba una mayor autonomía para el Este de Ucrania.

Ahora, el otro factor que influye sobre esta situación son los medios de comunicación de masas que están bombardeando al público tanto en Europa como en EEUU, demonizando a Rusia, como si la situación en Crimea fuera la punta de lanza del conflicto y no el golpe de Estado y las medidas represivas de la Junta de Gobierno de Kiev. Siguiendo esta línea, la prensa supuestamente progresista como el diario La Jornada de México, está tomando partido por los golpistas; así hablan “del gobierno de Kiev” y de “la oposición pro rusa”. Es decir, los demócratas que piden autonomía y un referéndum, simplemente se presentan como piezas movidas por el gobierno ruso.

El diario argentino Página/12, tal vez en menos grado, pero sigue también en esta línea de demonizar a Putin, habla de los dos demonios, tanto del imperialismo occidental como el imperialismo ruso, como si fuera un conflicto entre grandes poderes; en vez de ver el conflicto entre los clientes de OTAN –designados por la OTAN- contra un pueblo que busca mayor autonomía, un gobierno federal, a partir de procesos electorales.

Hay poca oposición en los medios más allá de la prensa alternativa –como Radio Centenario- hay una propaganda muy peligrosa actualmente porque no existe ningún movimiento contra la guerra, contra la guerra nuclear, contra las amenazas y movidas militaristas  de OTAN, por eso creo que la ausencia de oposición y la complicidad de los Parlamentos y Congresos occidentales, deja a Obama y a los militaristas con manos libres para provocar una confrontación nuclear.

Esto está pendiente y uno puede ver un proceso avanzando a saltos, cada semana, cada día, hay nuevas provocaciones. Lo que quieren hacer es un cerco sobre Rusia, tomar el control completo con purgas en Ucrania, eliminando cualquier oposición autonomista democrática, para usar a Ucrania como trampolín para ingresar directamente en la Federación Rusa. Y también, a partir de la toma del control de la economía ucraniana, paralizar las empresas militares e industriales que están funcionando entre Rusia y Ucrania. Muchos de los motores de la Fuerza Aérea rusa dependen de los repuestos y partes que vienen de empresas ucranianas. Y desde el golpe de Estado y la toma de poder por parte de la Junta pro norteamericana no hay  ninguna exportación de materiales o partes de aviones de combate rusos. Esto es parte del plan de debilitar cualquier comercio entre Rusia y Ucrania.

Obviamente esto va a perjudicar la economía en Ucrania porque ellos no pueden exportar estos motores a otro país del mundo, por las especificaciones tan particulares con Rusia; entonces van a cerrar más industrias, van a perder más mercados lucrativos, van a perder el gas subvencionado, etc. En todo caso, es un desastre para Ucrania, no le importa al imperio, porque ellos sólo ven en Ucrania a un instrumento para desarticular  a Rusia, y por eso fortalecen la parte militar de la Junta, porque se están anticipando a las protestas del Oeste, del Norte y del Sur, que se suman a las del Este ucraniano, y no tienen nada que ofrecer con esta agresión más allá de cumplir con la misión que les ha asignado la Casa Blanca.

EChI: ¿Es posible que estemos ante un ataque atómico sobre Rusia?

JP: Bueno, es lo que estoy diciendo.

Cada vez están montando más fuerzas militares, están extendiendo cada vez más el cerco sobre Rusia, están limitando cada vez más la sobrevivencia y el desarrollo de Rusia. Es decir, han sacado el cuchillo y lo han puesto en la garganta de Rusia, que en algún momento puede responder. Por ejemplo, mandar tropas para ayudar a los demócratas en Ucrania y conseguir alguna sobrevivencia en contra del asalto y masacre de la población en las ciudades de Este. Si Rusia manda tropas va a enfrentar mayores presiones económicas y militares desde occidente. En esta situación, quién sabe si en algún momento Obama no aprieta el gatillo y ordena atacar militarmente las tropas rusas en Ucrania, empezando tal vez con armas no nucleares; pero al responder Rusia estaremos en una guerra y nadie sabe qué tipo de armas se van a usar.

En eso estamos en este momento.

E pueblo libre del este   va a sufrir una masacre en Ucrania que está planificada y organizada en este momento; han asesinado milicianos en el Este, han asesinado a un Alcalde, han montado una fuerte caravana de armas y camiones blindados.

Estamos en una escalada de agresiones occidentales que pueden provocar una contra respuesta de Rusia.

EChI: ¿Cómo es el equilibrio armamentístico en este momento, particularmente el atómico?

JP: Tanto Rusia como Estados Unidos tienen suficientes armas nucleares para la destrucción mutua. Pero tal vez los cálculos occidentales es que ellos tienen más lugares para lanzar ataques con misiles y es una política ciega, porque Rusia también tiene misiles que pueden llegar a Nueva York o cualquier otra ciudad en los Estados Unidos.

Durante la Guerra Fría había un entendimiento respecto a algunas esferas de influencia –tanto rusas como occidentales- pero eso ya se rompió. Washington cree que son los dueños del mundo, desde los países bálticos, los Balcanes, los del Cáucaso, e incluso están extendiendo el cerco sobre China.

Estamos en una fase muy extremista y la gente debe entender que hemos tenido presidentes como Clinton, Bush y ahora Obama que han apretado las fronteras con Rusia, ahora no hay ningún cinturón de neutralidad o cinturón de protección. Bajo Obama la política está apuntando como un cuchillo al corazón de Rusia.

EChI: ¿Qué otros temas te ocupan?

JP: Tengo varios temas.

El primero, es el caso de Brasil, donde tienen una Comisión para la Verdad en la que uno de los testigos, un ex coronel brasileño llamado Paulo Malhães, un auto confeso torturador, incluso orgulloso, dijo que torturó hasta la muerte a los opositores al régimen militar; fue asesinado. La Policía dice que tal vez fue por venganza de la izquierda, de quienes sufrieron la tortura. Pero yo tengo otra idea, el hecho de que el tipo tenía información sobre sus cómplices, los oficiales que ahora han alcanzado altos puestos  como generales y otros influyentes, podrían estar involucrados para silenciarlo y robar la información, los archivos que este señor tenía.

No creo que la izquierda si quisiera eliminar a alguien lo estrangule. Esa es la táctica de los Servicios Especiales, las fuerzas Especiales de los boinas verdes que están practicando este estilo, con un hilo estrangular a una víctima, silenciarlo. Pero además hay un interés que va más allá a los testigos, porque es un aviso a otros militares que se están preparando para dar su testimonio, si van pueden sufrir el mismo fin.

Todavía hay muchos oficiales –militares, de Inteligencia- en Brasil que estuvieron involucrados en la tortura pero no están presentes en los testimonios. Este señor fue allá dio su testimonio, abiertamente defendiendo las torturas y todo lo demás; para los oficiales ‘respetables’ implicados una persona así es una gran peligro.

El otro tema es sobre lo que está pasando en Asia, donde Obama pactó con Filipinas para montar una enorme Base Militar allá, otra vez después de ser expulsados hace 10 años por un gran movimiento popular antiimperialista. Ahora vuelven, montando una Base Marítima y una Base Aérea dirigida contra China.. Estados Unidos está fomentando conflictos marítimos con China y utilizándolos como pretexto para montar todo un cerco como en Europa utilizan la toma de control de Ucrania, ahora montan, extienden y profundizan las Bases militares contra China.

No hay límites en el militarismo que conforma la política de la Casa Blanca. El hecho de desarrollar el cerco contra China me parece otro indicio de que la política imperialista ha tomado un camino más agresivo y militarista.

Lo mismo está pasando con el nuevo gobierno militar en Egipto, donde ayer se anunció que 683 defensores del gobierno derrocado, el gobierno electo de Mohamed Morsi, recibieron la sentencia de muerte. Estos 683 se suman a los 529 que ya estaban condenados y tenían pendiente la sentencia de muerte. Al mismo tiempo un oficial anunció que de los anteriormente sentenciados a muerte, es decir los 529, a 422 le conmutaron la pena por cadena perpetua. Es decir le cambiaron el asesinato inmediato por el asesinato gradual. Pero en todo caso ese gobierno militar, la Junta Militar, recibe más de mil millones de dólares en ayuda militar de los EEUU para fortalecer ese gobierno que está trabajando mano a mano con Israel en el bloqueo a los palestinos.

Este es otro aspecto del militarismo norteamericano.

EChI: ¿Qué pasa con la Alianza del Pacífico que no está funcionando?

JP: El proyecto norteamericano militar tiene complemento en lo comercial, tratando de imponer tratados de libre comercio que baja las barreras para las exportaciones estadounidenses y facilita el desplazamiento de China. Y eso encuentra muchos problemas porque China es más competitivo económicamente y los países van a perder un socio confiable. Por otro lado Washington quiere exportar productos agrícolas que van a llevar a la quiebra a un sector importante de la economía, particularmente en Japón, ese sector agrario que es el principal apoyo del gobierno conservador.Entonces si el gobierno acepta el libre comercio en la agricultura va a perder buena parte de sus senadores y congresistas y por eso no lo quiere hacer. Pero en todo caso, debemos entender que esta Alianza del Pacífico, transpacífico que le llaman, favorece a los sectores poderosos de la economía estadounidense y perjudica a los pequeños y medianos productores en Asia.

EChI: Muy bien Petras, muchas gracias por el valor de este análisis. Nos reencontramos el lunes.

JP: Bueno, espero que si.

Un gran abrazo para todos los oyentes.

(*) Escuche en vivo los lunes a las 11:30 horas (hora local) la audición de James Petras por CX36, Radio Centenario desde Montevideo (Uruguay) para todo el mundo a través de  http://www.radio36.com.uy/

Apr 282014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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Introduction

American living standards are plunging and it’s not simply because they are paid less, work longer (or shorter hours) under highly stressful workplace conditions and pay a higher percentage of their income for health and pension coverage.  The ‘workplace’ is only one of several locations where American working people are experiencing a sharp decline in living standards.  The new oligarchical Kleptocrats and political elites have elaborated new ways to fleece Americans.  These include:

(1)   Increased costs and declining quality of internet, cable and other communication systems.

(2)   Intensive pervasive and perpetual surveillance by punitive espionage agencies eroding personal freedoms and violating the confidentiality of personal, political and business decisions affecting everyday life.

(3)   Large scale, repeated financial swindles by the most active and influential private and publicly trading investment companies resulting in the loss of hundreds of billions of dollars in pensions and savings for tens of millions of middle and working class investors.

(4)   Increases in taxes and charges, including sales taxes, social security deductions, medical co-payments and reductions in social services …  This is a result of the government’s commitment to finance US corporate investments and bail-outs.  Big business hoards their cash holdings abroad to avoid taxes on overseas profits.  To pay dividends they borrow.  The growth of corporate debt, concentrated in a few large corporations, holds the US taxpayer liable for any present or future collapse of the financial markets.  This corporate-induced ‘hoarding of capital’ compromises present and future living standards.  It plays a major role in the deterioration of employment, wages, social services and public infrastructure.

(5)   The astronomical growth of state spending on wars of conquest, financial giveaways propping up right-wing dictatorships and building a vast network of global military bases, proxy wars and other empire building measures reduce living standards of Americans.  By militarizing everyday life, citizens are subject to mindless repetitive propaganda designed to lower their mental capacity.  State terror-mongering propagandists in the mass media distract citizens from their declining living standards.  Political elites bully citizens to continue ‘sacrificing’ basic living standards.  Video games reproduce the worlds of war and terror, reflecting the real world policies of the ruling class.

Video games allow Americans who know they no longer have influence on political decisions and whose living standards are in decline, to vicariously exercise power and realize favorable outcomes on their mobiles.  Purchasing mobiles, video games and other gadgets enrich billionaires’— so-called “high tech” capitalists – and convert citizens into impoverished consumers.  They inhabit a bubble of illusions and passivity in the face of growing economic inequalities and political-cultural impoverishment.

The Political Bases of Declining Living Standards

The case of Comcast, the communication monopoly’s seizure of internet, is illustrative of how politics and plunder converge.  Comcast TWC, the largest communications company, presently will control 40% of the US broadband and one-third of the US cable television market.  By controlling the internet, Comcast will monopolize the principal means of communication of most Americans.  The Federal Communications Commissions (FCC), which is supposed to regulate the industry and prevent price gouging monopolies, is “dominated by senior former industry officials” (Financial Times, (FT) 4/14/, pg. 9).  Almost every elected national politician from Obama down has received substantial campaign funds from Comcast.  During Senate hearings on Comcast’s bid to monopolize the internet through the take-over of Time Warner Cable, Comcast CEO David Cohen smirked and brushed off the Senators puff-questions.  FCC complicity, Senatorial whitewashing of the private monopoly, is only part of the story.  The internet was developed largely by public funds as was Google’s search engine:  the public sector took  the risk and the private monopolists , in this case Comcast, harvest the profits.

Comcast charges Americans several times greater then what it costs to use the internet in Sweden, South Korea, Singapore and elsewhere.  Yet, US average internet speed is as little as a tenth as fast as that in Japan.  In other words the hundreds of millions of US citizens who rely on the internet spend more money for less internet quality in their work day and everyday life.  Their work life is intensified, their free time is reduced and their living standards are diminished.  With greater concentration of ownership, come greater inequalities in power and income, and a greater disparity of living standards.  All of which is obscured by the main beneficiaries – the communication barons and their political cronies.

Declining Living Standards in the Era of the Police State

‘Living’ in the deepest and most intimate sense of the term, means the ability to share ideas, feelings and experiences with individuals, families, friends and citizens  without the intrusive and pervasive presence of a punitive state apparatus.  When a state spy apparatus intercepts, collects, files, analyzes and makes a police evaluation of citizen’s communications, scientists refer to it as a police-state.  The gigantic growth of a police state and its permeation of civil society has dramatically changed for the worse the fundamental bases of inter-personal life and communications.  Police state rule, has sharply deteriorated cultural, social, political and economic living conditions.  The ‘standards’ for living have been harshly reduced.  The ‘legal’, but arbitrary, executive prerogatives of the state have been enhanced.  The parameters of the basic rights of citizens have shrunk.  As police state expenditures grow and the subjects of surveillance increase, so do budgets and taxes.

Kleptocracy:  The Highest Stage of Capitalism

Marx and Marxists for the greater part of the 20th century, focused on capital’s exploitation of labor and the resources of overseas colonies and neo-colonies.  In the 21st century a new more dynamic and totally parasitic form of economy has emerged based in the dominant financial sector.  Kleptocrats engaged in large-scale, perpetual financial swindles and the pillage of the public treasury greatly impoverish  small  investors, and the pension funds of  employees and workers.

For the better part of two decades, major financial institutions have been engaged in systematic large scale swindles, involving the sale of fraudulent financial packets (dubbed ironically “securities”), profiteering based on insider trading and other illicit activity which is prejudicial to productive activity, investors, tax payers, salary, and wage workers.

Every major investment banks in the US and Europe has been repeatedly investigated, fined and rarely prosecuted.  They pay a relatively light fine and return to criminal activity.  Looking only at the mega-swindles, involving hundreds of billions of dollars, we would include Enron, the Information Tech “bubble” of the 1990’s to 2000, the Home Mortgage fraud, the Barron, Lehman and Bear Sterns scam. In the run-up to the 2008-9 financial crash , Goldman Sachs, JP Morgan, Wells Fargo, Bank of America were part of the “pump and dump” of low grade home mortgage bonds and equities.  The swindlers are recidivists and are so because of the complicity of top Government officials at every moment.  State officials design the rules promoting Kleptocracy (deregulation), suspend safeguards, provide tax incentives, and eliminate risk via trillion dollar bailouts of the biggest investment kleptocrats when the swindlers cannibalize their assets and run out of new victims to swindle.

Under kleptocratic capitalism the apex of the system is occupied by the top fifty investment banks, hedge funds and speculators who ‘make markets’.  They determine what ‘stocks or investment objects are targeted, to be pumped or dumped, at what rate and for what period of time.  The entire activity of the kleptocratic elite has nothing to do with financing the ‘real economy’.  Kleptocrats creates paper ‘values’ – paper assets at paper prices, for real victims and huge profits.  The kleptocratic system operates like a chain.  Kleptocratic speculators extract the savings and investments of a second tier of financial houses. They draw on real resources:  savings, trust and pension funds.  The second tier speculators are the ‘bag men’ for the dominant kleptocrats and they receive a minor share of the booty in exchange for conning the savings of producers.  They write the prospectus to entice investment funds; they formulate the promise of lucrative returns. They send progress reports to clients in exchange for ‘commissions. They also ‘take the rap”, when the crises hits and bankruptcies, foreclosures and scams unfold.

The pension funds, the individual trusts and savings of workers and employees, resulting from decades of creating value in the real economy, forms the base of the pyramid.  They have no influence on the political officials who promote, protect and bailout the kleptocrats.  Under the kleptocratic elite ideology of “too big to fail”, the state eliminates all the risk for the klepto’s and imposes the losses on the second tier, who pass the losses on to the wage and salaried workers as taxpayers, via trillion dollar transfers from Treasury. Investors suffer  via the loss of equity;  workers via the loss of jobs, homes, income and social services.  Given the vast chasm between the perpetual fraudulent transactions in the mega paper economy and the daily work routines at the bottom, there is great uncertainty, volatility, and insecurity in the work-life of the wage and salaried classes.  The uncertainty and capriciousness of the ‘normal’ capitalist economic cycle, is vastly exacerbated by the turbulence caused by the mega-swindles, endless frauds and crooked trades, endemic to the kleptocratic stage of capital.

Kleptocrats and Militarists Together:  They Shall Overcome

Just as kleptocrats rule the paper economy, political confidence men and women engage in imperial wars prejudicing the real economy.  Imperial militarists extract wealth from the Treasury (the taxpayer) via perpetual political swindles.  Imperial invasions and interventions of sovereign countries are ‘sold’ to the taxpayers as “wars on terror”; non-nuclear Iran is sold as a nuclear threat; the violent overthrow of the democratically elected Ukraine government by a pro Washington junta is sold as a “democratic transition”.  Just as the kleptocracy’s “driving force” is repeated, large scale swindles, so the governing militarist elite’s “driving force” is the perpetual need to engage in warfare.

The ‘bridge’ between the kleptocrats and the militarists is the respectable financial press (Financial Times (FT), the Wall Street Journal(WSJ).  They publicize and praise high level paper transactions (buy outs and mergers) and encourage imperial warfare everywhere and all the time.  They editorialize in favor of wars which destroys lucrative trade and investment markets in the real economy because they are aligned with the kleptocrats   linked to the paper economy.  The Financial Times should change its name to the Military Times.  The editors and columnists have supported wars destroying the Libyan, Iraq, Syrian and Ukrainian economies and back sanctions prejudicing trade with Iran.  The financial press no longer promotes market relations of the real economy; it is embedded in the paper economy of the kleptos.

Kleptocratic activities have become ‘routinized’ and based on advanced technology and have created highly respected billionaires.  Even as I write today (4/14/14) the FT reports that ‘insiders at some of the hottest private and publically traded web companies sold big personal stakes before the slump in stock companies’ (my emphasis) taking advantage of a bubble of their own creation (“pump”) to reap billions at the expense of small investors.  Tell it to Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and Sheryl Sandberg, CEO of Facebook, who sold at the pre-slump peak, prior to the tech bubble bursting

Domestic Corporate Debt and Overseas Corporate Tax Havens

According to Standards and Poor (S and P), the rating agency, “the biggest US companies have added significantly to their debts during the past three years, at the same time as corporate cash piles have increased” (FT 4/14/14).  The total cash holding of the 1,100 companies rated by S and P rose by $204 billion to 1.23 trillion between 2010-13.  However, during the same time span their gross debts grew fivefold, rising from $748 billion to $4 trillion.  Their net debt (gross debt minus cash holdings) rose 24 percent to $2.78 trillion.  By holding cash overseas, US corporations avoid domestic taxes – increasing fiscal pressures, the tax burden on domestic producers and workers, heightening the regressive nature of the tax system  Secondly, by loading up on domestic debt, the corporate elite crowds out local borrowers.  Piling up debt increases corporate vulnerability to bankruptcy if and when interest rates rise.  The corporate elite evading taxes via overseas cash piles include Apple, Microsoft, Cisco Systems, Chevron, and Merck among others.  All told the top 25 multi nationals account for 43 percent of the total debt (FT 4/14/14).

Hoarding profits overseas avoids taxes.  High domestic indebtedness results from the need to pay dividends and inflate returns to big shareholders.  In other words, corporate elites escape taxes and increase economic insecurity for domestic job holders, both of which contribute to a decline in the material and psychological dimensions of ‘living standards’.

Kleptocracy and Militarism:  Declining Living Standards

The rise of a powerful kleptocratic economic elite which ‘interpenetrates’ and shares power with a militarist political elite have joined forces to pillage the productive economy and the US Treasury.  Their powerful links are the main reason for heightening class inequalities, political and social insecurities.  They have driven American society into a permanent state of crises and wars. Over the past quarter century, Americans have lived through two major economic crashes, prolonged periods of stagnation and declining income, three major wars and a multitude of overt and covert military operations – all of which have eroded living standards.

Military propaganda saturates the mass media and permeates all mass spectacles. Stock reports, dominate the economic news.  Investment speculators and swindlers are presented as cultural heroes.  The gap between elite opinion and interests and those of the majority of citizens widens.

This leads politicians to greater dependence on billionaire campaign funders.  The electoral process is unabashedly and totally controlled by the economic oligarchy. The vast majority of Americans recognizes and publically admit their total lack of political influence on all public issues of interest including those privileging the kleptocrats and the warlords.

The deeply felt and pervasive malaise resulting from social impotence in vital spheres of life is the clearest expression of the decline of political living standards.  The shrinking of public involvement, the narrow focus of isolated individuals manipulating computerized gadgets , the replacement of face to face public engagement by impersonal electronic communications, are an expression of the decline of social living standards.  The rise of ethno-religious chauvinism among klepto-elites is matched by the political warlords’ reliance on systematic deception and espionage of American citizens. Warlords and kleptocrats are enclosed in privileged living enclaves, including the private appropriation of former public spaces, but their  intrusion into private communications define the diminished world of everyday life for the most Americans.  Life expectancy may have increased but human life has decreased, drastically, over the past quarter of a century.

Conclusion

Blood and gore does not drip off the Saville suited clever inside trader.  They never see or hear their victims, nor do they have an interest in them, except to fleece them collectively and anonymously.

America is ruled by a division of labor. The financial speculators, corporate tax evaders, investment bankers – the kleptocratic ruling class– pillage the treasury and productive economy.  Their political counterparts manipulate, distract and police their exploited victims – to ensure that they submit or are intimidated if they protest.

When they political elites come up short, there are the new “opiums of the people’ videos, painkillers, terror threats, entertainment and sports spectacles.

But citizens are restless– as living standards continue to decline.  Nobody believes in bailing out speculators because they are ‘too big to fail”.  Nobody trusts the political leaders who lied their way to twelve year wars, adding others along the way.  No one follows media pundit extremists in defense of kleptocrats and warlords.  Passive resistance is widespread because it is clear to most Americans that living standards are in a free fall.  Time awaits a popular backlash. Will it happen in our lifetime?

Apr 262014
 

Posted by snakearbusto and greydogg, 99GetSmart

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Written by Turkish political analyst / blogger, Gürkan Özturan:

Turkey’s Minister of Transportation, Maritime and Communications, Lutfi Elvan, has stated that there is now a possibility of replacing the global www standard with a nationally locked ttt protocol. He has claimed that this is not only happening in Turkey but is a widely discussed issue among EU authorities as well.

The minister has stated that due to lack of infrastructure Turkey has been experiencing several misunderstandings with Twitter management over the past year, and evoked the possibility of creating a national Internet protocol as a possible solution.

Elvan also referred to the United Nations and said “the Internet should have a constitution much like the UN charter, declaring all rights and responsibilities and not rely only on the American laws which cover the majority of these social media companies. We need a one and united law regulating the Internet globally, otherwise states can create their national Internet protocols to sustain their safety. This has been discussed for a long time; we can create a protocol of ttt and separate Turkish users from the others, make it impossible for them to reach other systems.”

Isolationism

This attitude of creating a national Internet protocol aims to isolate a country from the rest of the world and block access to platforms which serve as a virtual public space where one can express feelings and opinions, and be heard globally. This blocking access to the global village of the Internet will initially create discontent among users, but the problem would begin when people start getting used to it. On the other hand this statement by the minister also reminds us all of the Vice-Prime Minister’s statement during the Gezi Park protests: “We could have shut down all access to the Internet if we wanted… but we didn’t, so you can see that we had good will.”

Would it really work?

Serhat Ayan of the TKNLJ and Pirate Party of Turkey has evaluated this statement and explained the facts behind the creation of a national restricted Internet protocol.

He states that the world has never ever discussed the creation of a new Internet; on the other hand there have been discussions focusing on the diversification of the present one. In doing this the main demand is for ICANN – the institution that manages Web site domain names – to listen to comments more and become more transparent.

There is absolutely no talk of changing the system as a whole because there is disrespect of international legal norms. Because Internet surveillance is being carried out – unlike the Turkish attempt – through international law. In order for all these laws to be understood in the same manner throughout the world, they are coded as widely as possible, including all international norms.

Establishing a national protocol would not actually mean that these social-media platforms would care more for the national legislation. The norm followed for managing social media, freedom of speech and access to information is the international law that is much wider than national legislation, which might sometimes be over-protective or restrictive.

It would not really matter which country a company may be established in; it would have to follow international law in order to succeed in the global market. However this attempt to create a closed-border Internet protocol on a national scale has been tried out by Iran, and it would be quite easy to see the results of Iran’s experiences of isolationism, censorship, and surveillance.

The creation of a national Internet protocol could in fact be seen as synonymous with saying that the state is terrified of its citizens and knows of no other way of forcing them to not express their opinion freely. As the self-censorship agenda seems to have failed and more and more people are becoming critical of their government and do not refrain from openly criticizing it, states such as AKP’s Turkey will need to take a look in the mirror and decide whether they wish to go against democratic principles in defiance of a large part of the society that demands them.

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

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

Apr 252014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* LAVROV: AMERICANS ARE NOT READY TO ADMIT THEY CANNOT RUN THE SHOW

Source: RT

Ukraine’s foreign ministry has given Russia a 48-hour ultimatum to explain its military exercises near the nation’s border; or, as foreign minister Andriy Deshschytisa warns “we will now fight with Russia troops.”

As AP reports:

Ukraine’s foreign minister has blasted the Russian decision to start military maneuvers along Ukraine’s border and said his country will fight any invading troops.

 Andriy Deshchytisa said Russia’s decision Thursday to launch the military exercises “very much escalates the situation in the region.”

Talking to The Associated Press in Prague, Deshchytisa says his country has been taught a lesson by Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean Peninsula. He says “having this experience, we will now fight with Russian troops if … they invade Ukraine.”

He says “Ukrainian people and Ukrainian army are ready to do this.”

Deshchytisa says the new Russian military exercises are taking place “even closer to the Ukrainian border than it was planned earlier” and demanded the withdrawal of Russian troops. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-24/ukraine-gives-russia-48-hr-ultimatum-or-we-will-fight

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* SHILLING FOR WALL STREET

By Mike Krauss, TheGreanvillePost

What is at stake in the Ukraine?

The barricades outside the Donetsk regional administration building are plastered with anti-fascist posters. Not everybody swallows Western propaganda. Meanwhile Kiev calls pro-Russia occupiers “terrorists” to justify lethal assaults on the entrenched demonstrators. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

The barricades outside the Donetsk regional administration building are plastered with anti-fascist posters. Not everybody swallows Western propaganda. Meanwhile Kiev calls pro-Russia occupiers “terrorists” to justify lethal assaults on the entrenched demonstrators. Photograph: Scott Olson/Getty Images

Paul Craig Roberts is a former senior member of the Reagan administration and former editor of the Wall Street Journal who fearlessly exposes the continuing corruption of the government in Washington. He coined a phrase to describe the U.S. corporate dominated media: “presstitute media.” New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman recently provided a good example of what Roberts is talking about.

In his column, Friedman explained the crisis in the Ukraine as the failure of the “West” (the U.S. and its European allies) to confront “Putanism” — meaning those Russian “bullies” who Washington says decided to invade and annex parts of the Ukraine when the former and thoroughly corrupt Ukrainian president was, as Friedman put it, “overthrown.”

The implication is that the Ukrainian people were making progress to freedom and democracy which Russia wanted to prevent.

That is a total distortion.  And Friedman knows it. […]

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/04/23/shilling-for-wall-street/

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* DE-ESCALATION IN UKRAINE AS SEEN BY JOE BIDEN

By Nikolai Bobkin, Voltaire

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The Vice-President of the United States, Joe Biden, travelled to Kiev to preach appeasement with Russia. Indeed, the pro-US coup government clearly lacks enough popular support to safeguard Washington’s interests. Moreover, his use of the term “de-escalation” smacks of a Freudian slip: he recognizes that the policy of the Obama administration has been geared so far towards escalation and that the time has come to reverse it.

According to the White House statement, the Vice-President Joe Biden’s visit to Ukraine was to demonstrate the support of Ukraine by the United States. Washington realizes the interim government in Kiev is on the verge of collapse. But its fall would be tantamount to a defeat suffered by the United States. Biden landed in Kiev to make the US save face and define the ways to retreat if need be. Under the pretext of global commitments, the White House is focused on the local-scale mission to maintain power in Ukraine in the hands of its puppets… The country is in disarray; the plan to convert it into an anti-Russian springboard has failed. Here is another US global failure and Biden had to cover it up by statements calling for «defense of Ukraine’s unity and independence and the restoration of its national honor and pride». But the results of the visit tell a different story.

* First, nobody has any doubts now that the impostors in Kiev fully depend on Washington. The crisis in Ukraine is spreading around to encompass the whole nation. The situation needs urgent measures to be taken. The Americans make another mistake trying to substitute the comprehensive management of the national crisis with the stated «de-escalation» in the East.

* Second, it is becoming clear for Washington that the Kiev rulers cannot defend US interests in Ukraine as expected. The American influence spreads only on a limited number of individual Ukrainian politicians with rather low rating of popularity. The US frustration was demonstrated by the way the would-be election slated for May was discussed by the parties. No pre-election campaign is possible when the central powers have occupied the whole regions using force. The whole election process boiled down to a long list of candidates, but there is no one there the United States could rely on. How could a «democratic» victory be guaranteed when the majority of population has no wish to express its will at all? But Vice-President Biden told Kiev to go on with the mission. […]

READ @ http://www.voltairenet.org/article183456.html

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* U.S. REJECTED OFFERS BY AFGHANISTAN, IRAQ, AND LIBYA TO SURRENDER … AND PROCEEDED TO WAGE WAR

Source: WashingtonsBlog

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America Wanted War … Not a Negotiated Peace

The Daily Mail reported yesterday:

A self-selected group of former top military officers, CIA insiders and think-tankers, declared Tuesday in Washington that a seven-month review of the deadly 2012 terrorist attack has determined that [Gaddafi offered to abdicate as leader of Libya.]

‘Gaddafi wasn’t a good guy, but he was being marginalized,’ [Retired Rear Admiral Chuck ] Kubic recalled. ‘Gaddafi actually offered to abdicate’ shortly after the beginning of a 2011 rebellion.

‘But the U.S. ignored his calls for a truce,’ the commission wrote, ultimately backing the horse that would later help kill a U.S. ambassador.

Kubic said that the effort at truce talks fell apart when the White House declined to let the Pentagon pursue it seriously.

‘We had a leader who had won the Nobel Peace Prize,’ Kubic said, ‘but who was unwilling to give peace a chance for 72 hours.’

Similarly, Saddam Hussein allegedly offered to let weapons inspectors in the country and to hold new elections:

In the few weeks before its fall, Iraq’s Ba’athist regime made a series of increasingly desperate peace offers to Washington, promising to hold elections and even to allow US troops to search for banned weapons. But the advances were all rejected by the Bush administration, according to intermediaries involved in the talks. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/04/u-s-rejected-offers-afghanistan-iraq-libya-surrender-leaders-proceeded-wage-war.html

Apr 232014
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

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During the beginning of his first term in office President Obama promised “to remake the Middle East into a region of prosperity and freedom”. Six years later the reality is totally the contrary: the Middle East is ruled by despotic regimes whose jails are overflowing with political prisoners.  The vast majority of pro-democracy activists who have been incarcerated, have been subject to harsh torture and are serving long prison sentences.  The rulers lack legitimacy, having seized power and maintained their rule through a centralized police state and military repression. Direct  US military and CIA intervention, massive shipments of arms,military  bases, training missions and Special Forces are decisive in the construction of the Gulag chain from North Africa to the Gulf States.

We will proceed by documenting the scale and scope of political repression in each US backed police state. We will then describe the scale and scope of US military aid buttressing the “remaking of the Middle East” into a chain of political prisons run by and for the US Empire.

The countries and regimes include Egypt, Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq, Yemen, Jordan and Turkey . . . all of which promote and defend US imperial interests against the pro-democracy majority, represented by their independent social-political movements.

Egypt:  Strategic Vassal State

Chuck Hagel, Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi

A longtime vassal state and the largest Arab country in the Middle East, Egypt’s current military dictatorship, product of a coup in July 2013, launched a savage wave of repression

subsequent to seizing power. According to the Egyptian Center for Social and Economic Rights, between July and December 2013, 21,317 pro-democracy demonstrators were arrested.  As of April 2014, over 16,000 political prisoners are incarcerated.  Most have been tortured.  The summary trials, by kangaroo courts, have resulted in death sentences for hundreds and long prison terms for most.  The Obama regime has refused to call the military’s overthrow of the democratically elected Morsi government a coup in order to continue providing military aid to the junta.In exchange the military dictatorship continues to back the Israeli blockade of Gaza and support US military operations throughout the Middle East.

Israel:  The Region’s Biggest Jailer

Palestinian-prisoners

Israel, whose supporters in the US dub it the “only democracy in the Middle East”, is in fact the largest jailer in the region.

According to the Israeli human rights group B’Tselm, between 1967 and December 2012, 800,000 Palestinians have been imprisoned at some point, over 20% of the population. Over 100,000 have been  held in “administrative detention” without charges or trial.  Almost all have been tortured and brutalized.  Currently Israel has 4,881 political prisoners in jail.  What makes the Jewish state God’s chosen… premier jailer, however, is the holding of 1.82 million Palestinians living in Gaza in a virtual open air prison. Israel restricts travel, trade, fishing, building , manufacturing and farming through air, sea and ground policing and blockades.  In addition, 2.7 million Palestinians in the Occupied Territories (West Bank) are surrounded by prison-like walls, subject to daily military incursions, arbitrary arrests and violent assaults by the Israeli armed forces and Jewish vigilante settlers engaged in perpetual dispossession of Palestinian inhabitants.

Saudi Arabia:  Absolutist Monarchy

Barack Obama, King Abdullah

According to President Obama’s ‘remaking of Middle East’ Saudi Arabia stands as Washington’s “staunchest ally in the Arab world”.  As a loyal vassal state, its jails overflow with pro-democracy dissidents incarcerated for seeking free elections, civil liberties and an end to misogynist policies.  According to the Islamic Human Rights Commission the Saudis are holding 30,000 political prisoners, most arbitrarily detained without charges or trial.

The Saudi dictatorship plays a major role bankrolling police state regimes throughout the region.  They have poured $15 billion into the coffers of the Egyptian junta subsequent to the military coup, as a reward for its massive bloody purge of elected officials and their pro-democracy supporters.  Saudi Arabia plays a big role in sustaining Washington’s dominance, by financing and arming ‘jailer-regimes’ in Pakistan, Yemen, Bahrain, Jordan and Egypt.

Bahrain:  Small Country – Many Jails

Bahrain

According to the local respected Center for Human Rights, Bahrain has the dubious distinction of being the “top country globally in the number of political prisoners per capita”.  According to the Economist (4/2/14) Bahrain has 4,000 political prisoners out of a population of 750,000.  According to the Pentagon, Bahrain’s absolutist dictatorship plays a vital role in providing the US with air and maritime bases, for attacking Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan.  The majority of pro-democracy dissidents are jailed for seeking to end vassalage , autocracy, and servility to US imperial interest and the Saudi dictatorship.

Iraq:  Abu Ghraib with Arab Characters

Barack Obama, Nouri al-Maliki

Beginning with the US invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 and continuing under its proxy vassal Prime Minister Nouri Al-Maliki, tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens have been tortured, jailed and murdered.  Iraq’s ruling junta, has continued to rely on US military and Special Forces and to engage in the same kinds of military and police ‘sweeps’ which eviscerate any democratic pretensions. Al-Maliki relies on special branches of his secret police, the notorious Brigade 56, to assault opposition communities and dissident strongholds. Both the Shi’a  regime and Sunni opposition engage in ongoing terror-warfare.  Both have served as close collaborators with Washington at different moments.

The weekly death toll runs in the hundreds.  The Al-Maliki regime has taken over the torture centers (including Abu Ghraib), techniques and jails previously headed and run by the US and have retained US ‘Special Forces’ advisers, overseeing the round-up of human rights critics, trade unionists and democratic dissidents.

Yemen:  A  Joint US-Saudi Satellite

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Yemen has been ruled by US-Saudi client dictators for decades.  The autocratic rule of Ali Abdullah Saleh was accompanied by the jailing and torture of thousands of pro-democracy activists, secular and religious, as well as serving as a clandestine torture center for political dissidents kidnapped and transported by the CIA under its  so-called “rendition” program.  In 2011 despite prolonged and violent repression by the US backed Saleh regime, a mass rebellion exploded threatening the existence of the state and its ties to the US and Saudi regimes.  In order to preserve their dominance and ties to the military, Washington and Saudi orchestrated a ‘reshuffle’ of the regime: rigged elections were held and one Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi, a loyal crony of Saleh and servant of Washington, took power.  Hadi continued where Saleh left off:  kidnapping, torturing, killing pro-democracy protestors… Washington chose to call Hadi’s rule “a transition to democracy”.  According to the Yemen Times (4/5/14) over 3,000 political prisoners fill the Yemen prisons.  “Jailhouse democracy” serves to consolidate the US military presence in the Arabian Peninsula.

Jordan:  A Client Police State of Longstanding Duration

Supporters of Jordan's opposition parties shout slogans during a demonstration after Friday prayers in Amman

For over a half century, three generations of reigning Jordanian absolutist monarchs have been on the CIA payroll and have served US interests in the Middle East.  Jordan’s vassal rulers savage Arab nationalists and Palestinian resistance movements; signed off on a so-called “peace agreement” with Israel to repress any cross-border support for Palestine; provide military bases in support of US, Saudi and EU training, arming and financing of mercenaries invading Syria.

The corrupt monarchy and its crony oligarchy oversee an economy perpetually dependent on foreign subsidies to keep it afloat: unemployment is running over 25% and half the population is subsisting in poverty.  The regime has jailed thousands of peaceful protestors.  According to a recent  Amnesty International Report (Jordan 2013), King Abdullah’s dictatorship “has detained thousands without charges”.  The jailhouse monarchy plays a central role in buttressing US empire-building in the Middle East and facilitating Israeli land grabbing in Palestine.

Turkey:  NATO Bulwark and Jailhouse Democracy

Under the reign of the self-styled “Justice and Development Party” led by Tayyip Erdoğan, Turkey has evolved into a major military operational base for the NATO backed invasion of Syria.  Erdoğan has had his differences with the US; especially Turkey’s cooling relations with Israel over the latters’ seizure of a Turkish ship in international waters and the slaughter of nine unarmed Turkish humanitarian activists.  But as Turkey has turned toward greater dependence on international capital flows and integration into NATO’s international wars, Erdoğan has become more authoritarian.  Facing large scale public challenges to his arbitrary privatization of public spaces and dispossession of households in working class neighborhoods, Erdoğan launched a purge of civil society ,class based movements and  state institutions.  In the face of large scale pro-democracy demonstrations in the summer of 2013, Erdoğan launched a savage assault on the dissidents.  According to human rights groups over 5,000 were arrested and 8,000 were injured during the Gezi Park protests.

Earlier Erdoğan established “Special Authorized Courts” which organized political show trials based on falsified evidence which facilitated the arrest and imprisonment of hundreds of military officers, party activists, trade unionists, human rights lawyers and journalists, particularly those critical of his support for the war against Syria.  Despite conciliatory rhetoric, Erdogan’s jails contain several thousand Kurdish dissidents, including electoral activists and legislators (Global Views 10/17/12).

While Erdoğan has served as an able and loyal Islamist anchor against popular democratic and nationalist movements in the Middle East, his pursuit of greater Turkish influence in the region, has led the US to deepen its political ties with the more submissive and pro-Washington , pro-Israel Gulenist movement embedded in the state apparatus ,business and education.  The latter has adopted a permeationist-strategy: purging adversaries in its  quiet march to power from within the state.  The US still relies on Erdoğan’s “jailhouse democracy” to repress anti-imperialist movements in Turkey; to serve as a military anchor for the war against Syria; to back sanctions against Iran and to support the pro-NATO Maliki regime in Iraq.

The Middle East Gulag and US Military Aid

The police state regimes and the long-term authoritarian political culture in the Arab world is a product of long-term US military support for despotic rulers.  The absence of democracy is a necessary condition for expanding and advancing the US imperial military presence in the region.

A small army of US Islamophobic academics, “experts”, journalists and media pundits totally ignore the role of the US in promoting, sustaining and strengthening the ruling dictators and repressing the profoundly democratic mass movements which have erupted over a prolonged period of time.  Spearheaded by long-time pro-Israel Middle East scribes and scholars, in Ivy League universities, these propagandists, claim that Arab dictatorships are a product of “Islamic culture”,or  the “authoritarian personality of Arabs” in search of a ‘strongman’ to guide and rule them.  Ignoring or distorting the history of working class struggles, pro-democracy protests and affirmations, in all of the major Arab countries, these scholars justify the US ties to the dictatorships as “realistic policies” given the “available options”.

Wherever real democracy begins to emerge, where political rights begin to be exercised, Washington provokes coups and intervenes to bolster the repressive apparatus of the state (Bahrain 2011-14, Yemen 2011 to 2014, Egypt 2013, Jordan 2012 among numerous other cases). While the bulk of the Middle East “experts” blame the Arab citizens for authoritarian rule, they completely ignore and cover-up Israel’s racist majority which solidly backs the incarceration and torture of hundreds of thousands of pro-democracy Palestinians.

To understand the Middle East gulag requires a discussion of US ‘aid policy’ which is central to sustaining the ‘jailhouse regimes’.

US Aid to Egypt:  Billions for Dictators

The Egyptian police state anchors the US ‘arc of empire’ from North Africa to the Middle East.  Egypt has been actively engaged in destabilizing Libya, Sudan, Lebanon, Syria and collaborating with Israel’s dispossession of Palestinians.  The Mubarak dictatorship received $2 billion dollars a year from Washington – nearly $65 billion for its imperial services.  US aid strengthened its capacity to jail, and torture pro-democracy and trade union activists.  Washington continued its military support of dictatorial rule after the military coup against Egypt’s first democratically elected government, to the tune of $1.55 billion dollars for 2014 .

Despite “expressions of concern” over the murder of thousands of pro-democracy protestors by the new military strongman General Abdul Fattah al-Sisi, there was no cut in funding for so-called “counter-terrorism” and “security”.  To continue funding the dictatorship under US Congressional legislation, Washington refused to characterize the violent seizure of power as a coup . . . referring to it as a “transition to democracy”.  The key role of Egypt in US foreign policy is to protect Israel’s ‘eastern flank’. US aid to Egypt is product of the pressure and influence of the Zionist power configuration in Congress and the White House:  US aid is conditioned on Egypt’s ‘policing’ of the Gaza border, ensuring that Israel’s blockade is effective.  The White House supports Cairo’s repression of the majority of nationalist, anti-colonial Egyptians opposed to Tel Aviv’s dispossession of the Palestinians.  Insofar as Israel’s interests’define US Middle East policy, Washington’s financing of Egypt’s jailhouse dictatorship is in accord with Zionist Washington’s strategy.

Israel:  The US “Pivot” in the Middle East

Most independent and knowledgeable experts agree that US Middle East policy is largely dictated by a multitude of Zionist loyalists occupying key policymaking positions in Treasury, State Department, the Pentagon and Commerce as well as Congressional dominance by the Presidents of the 52 Major American Jewish Organizations and their 171,000 full time paid activists.  While there is some truth in what some critics cite as the divergence of the ‘real’ US ‘national interest’ from Israel’s colonial ambitions, the fact is that US leaders in Washington perceive a convergence between imperial dominance and Israeli militarism.  In point of fact a submissive Egypt serves wider US imperial and Israeli colonial interests.

Israel’s war on Lebanon against the anti-imperialist Hezbollah movement served US efforts to install a docile client as well as Israeli’s effort to destroy a partisan of Palestinian self-determination.  Washington’s divergence with Israel over Israel’s dispossession of all Palestine does run counter to Washington’s interest in a Palestinian mini-state run by neo-colonial Arab officials.  As a result of Zionist influence, Israel is the biggest per-capita US aid recipient in the world, despite having a higher standard of living than 60% of US citizens.  Between 1985-2014, Israel received over $100 billion dollars, of which 70% was military, including the most advance high technology weaponry.  Israel ,the country which has the world record for political prisoners and military attacks on its neighbors over the past forty years, holds the record for US military aid.  Israel as the premier ‘jailhouse democracy’ is a key link in the chain of gulags extending from North Africa to the Gulf States.

Saudi Arabia

Saudi Arabia competes with Israel as an incarceration center of pro-democracy dissidents; the Saudi’s recycle hundreds of billions of petro-rents through Wall Street, enriching local Saudi despots and overseas pro-Israel investment bankers.  The Saudi-US-Israeli convergence is more than incidental.  They share military interests in warring against pro-independence, pro-democracy Arab movements throughout the Middle East. Saudi houses the major US military base and the biggest intelligence operations in the Gulf.  It backed the US invasion of Iraq.  It finances thousands of Islamic mercenaries in the US-NATO proxy war against Syria.  It invaded Bahrain to smash the pro-democracy movement.  It intervenes with Washington in support of the Yemen police state.  It is the biggest and most lucrative market for the US military-industrial complex.  US military sales between 1951 – 2006 totaled $80 billion.  In October 2010 it signed off on a $60.5 billion purchase of US arms and services.

Bahrain:  A US Aircraft Carrier called a Country

Bahrain serves as the naval base for the US Fifth fleet – and an operative base for attacking Iran.  It has been servicing the occupation of Afghanistan and US control of oil shipping routes.  The Al-Khalifa dictatorship is extremely isolated, highly unpopular and faces constant pressure from the pro-democracy majority.  To bolster their vassal rulers, Washington has increased its military sales to the tiny statelet from $400 million between 1993-2000 to $1.4 billion in the subsequent decade.  Washington has increased its sales and military training program in direct proportion to the growth of democratic discontent, resulting in the geometrical growth of political prisoners.

Iraq:  War, Occupation,and the Killing Fields of a Jailhouse Democracy

The US invasion and occupation of Iraq led to the slaughter of nearly 1.5 million Iraqis (mostly civilians, non-combatants) at a cost of $1.5 trillion dollars and 4,801 US military deaths.  In 2006 the US engineered ‘elections’ led to the installation of the Maliki regime, buttressed by US arms, mercenaries, advisers and bases.  According to a recent study for the Congressional Research Office (February 2014), by Kenneth Kilzman, there are 16,000 US military personnel and “contractors” currently in Iraq.  Over 3,500 US military contractors in the Office of Security Cooperation bolster the corrupt Maliki police state.  The jailhouse democracy has been supplied with US missiles and drones and over $10 billion dollars in military assistance :this includes $2.5 billion in aid and $7.9 billion sales between 2005 – 2013.  For 2014 -2015 Malaki has requested $15 billion in weapons, including 36 US F-16 combat aircraft and scores of Apache attack helicopters.  In 2013 the Malaki regime registered 8,000 political deaths resulting from its internal war.

Iraq is a crucial center for US control of oil, the Gulf and as a launch pad to attack Iran.  While Maliki makes ‘gestures’ toward Iran, its role as an advanced link in the US imperial gulag defines its real ‘function’ in the Gulf region.

Yemen:  The Desert Military Outpost for the American Gulag

Yemen is a costly military outpost for Saudi despotism and US power on the Arabian Peninsula.  According to a study, Yemen: Background and US Relations by Jeremy Sharp for the Congressional Research Service (2014), the US has supplied $1.3 billion in military aid to Yemen between 2009-2014.  Saudi Arabia donated $3.2 billion in 2012 to bolster the Saleh dictatorship in the face of a mass popular anti-dictatorial uprising.  Washington engineered a transfer of power from Saleh to “President” Hadi and ensured his continuity by doubling military aid to keep the jails full and the resistance in check. According to the New York Times (6/31/13) Hadi was “a carry-over of dictator Saleh”.  The continuity of a jailhouse democracy in Yemen is a crucial link between the Egypt-Israel-Jordan axis and the Saudi-Bahrain imperial gulag.

Jordan:  Eternal Vassal and Mendicant Monarchy

Jordan’s despotic monarchy has been on the US payroll for over a half century.  Recently it has served as a torture center for kidnapped victims seized by US Special Forces engaged in the “rendition” program.  Jordan has collaborated with Israel in assaulting and arresting Palestinians in Jordan engaged in the freedom struggle.  Currently Jordan along with Turkey serves as a training and weapons depot for NATO backed mercenary terrorists invading Syria.  For its collaboration with Israel, Washington and NATO, the corrupt jailhouse monarchy receives large scale long-term military and economic aid.  The monarchy and its extended network of cronies, jailers and family, skim tens of millions of dollars in foreign aid, laundered in overseas accounts in London, Switzerland, Dubai and New York.  According to a Congressional Research Service Report (January 27, 2014), US aid to the Jordanian royal dictatorship amounts to $660 million per year.  An additional $150 million for military aid was channeled to the regime with the onset of the NATO intervention in Syria.  The fund was directed to build-up the infrastructure around the Jordan-Syria border.  In addition, Jordan serves as a major conduit for arms to terrorists attacking Syria: $340 million destined for “overseas contingencies” probably is channeled through Amman to arm the terrorists invading Syria.  In October 2012, Jordan signed agreements with the US allowing a large contingent of Special Forces to establish airfields and bases to supply and train terrorists.

Turkey:  A Loyal Vassal State with Regional Ambitions

As the southern military bulwark of NATO, on Russia’s frontier, Turkey has been on the US payroll for over 66 years.  According to a recent study by James Zanotti Turkey – US Defense Co-Operation:  Prospects and Challenges (Congressional Research Service, April 8, 2011) in exchange for bolstering the military power of Turkey’s “jailhouse democracy”, the US secured a major military presence including a huge air base in Incirlik a major operational center housing 1,800 US military personnel.  Turkey collaborated with the US invasion and occupation of Afghanistan and supported the NATO bombing of Libya.  Today Turkey is the most important military operational center for jihadist terrorists invading Syria. Despite President Erdoğan’s periodic demagogic nationalist bombast, the US empire builders continue to have access to Turkish bases and transport corridors for its wars, occupations and interventions in the Middle East and  South and Central Asia.  In exchange the US has stationed missile defense systems and vastly increased arms sales, so-called “security assistance”. Between 2006 – 2009 US military sales exceeded $22 billion dollars.  In 2013-14, tensions between Turkey and the US increased as Erdoğan moved to purge the state of the Gulenists, a US backed fifth column, which permeated the Turkish state and used its position to support closer collaboration with Israel and US military interests.

Conclusion

The expansion of the US Empire throughout North Africa and the Middle East has been built around arming and financing vassal states to serve as military outposts of the empire.  These vassal regimes, ruled by dictatorial monarchies, and authoritarian military and civilian rulers, rely on force and violence to sustain their rule.  The US has supplied the weapons, advisers, and financing allowing them to rule.  The US arc of imperial military bases stretching from Egypt through Israel, Turkey, Jordan, Yemen, Iraq , Bahrain and Saudi Arabia, is protected by a chain of prison camps containing tens of thousands of political prisoners.

The US engagement, its pervasive presence throughout the region, is accompanied by a chain of jailhouse democracies and dictatorships.  Contrary to liberal and conservative policy pundits and academics, US policy for over 50 years has actively sought out, installed and protected bloody tyrants who have pillaged the public treasury, concentrated wealth, surrendered sovereignty and underdeveloped their economies.

Pro-Israel academics at  prestigious US universities have systematically distorted the structural bases of violence, authoritarianism and corruption in the Islamic world:  blaming the victims, the Turkish and Arab people, and ignoring the role of US empire builders in financing and arming the authoritarian civilian and military rulers and absolutist monarchies and their corrupt military, judicial and police officials.

Contrary to the mendacious tomes published by the prestigious University presses and written mostly by highly respected pro-Israel political propagandists, the remaking of the Middle East depends on the strength of the democratic currents in Islamic society.  They are found in the student movements, among the trade unionists and unemployed, the nationalist intellectuals and Islamic and secular forces who oppose the US Empire for very practical and obvious reasons.  Along with Israel the US is the main organizer of the vast chain of political prison camps that destroy the most creative and dynamic forces in the region.  Greater Arab vassalage provokes the periodic explosion of a vibrant democratic culture and movement; unfortunately it also results in  greater US military aid and presence.  The real clash of civilizations is between the democratic aspirations of the Eastern popular classes and the deeply embedded authoritarianism of Euro-American- Israeli  imperialism.

Apr 222014
 

El análisis de James Petras, 99GetSmart

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“El acuerdo sobre Ucrania no tiene sentido. Porque las condiciones para firmar el acuerdo ya fueron violadas y sin pedir disculpas. Es decir, los países occidentales van a continuar violando los acuerdos, no tienen ninguna intención de respetar acuerdos”, dijo el sociólogo norteamericano James Petras en su columna de análisis de la coyuntura internacional por CX36, Radio Centenario. Además, Petras destacó el llamado a elecciones realizado por el gobierno sirio y repudió las acciones terroristas en ese país, incluso recordó que contra lo que dicen los grandes medios pro imperialistas, “el mensaje del Papa (del día de Pascuas) está directamente atacando a las fuerzas apoyadas por la OTAN” y añadió que “todas las autoridades morales han tomado partido en favor de las elecciones de junio y  contra el terrorismo de quienes tiran bombas en la ciudad frente al Parlamento”. Ante la muerte de Gabriel García Márquez, Petras cuestionó que ningún documental sobre su vida, destaque “al hombre político, al luchador profundamente antimperialista”. Transcribimos a continuación el análisis de James Petras que Usted puede volver a escuchar aquí: http://www.ivoox.com/james-petras-21-abril-audios-mp3_rf_3042330_1.html

Efraín Chury Iribarne: Le estamos dando la bienvenida en Radio Centenario a James Petras. Buen día, Petras, ¿cómo estás?

James Petras: Excelente. Después de haber pasado un buen fin de semana que incluyó un asado de cordero por la Pascua, acompañados de amigos y vecinos, estamos con un día soleado de Primavera. Y prontos para comenzar este encuentro semanal.

EChI: Mucho me alegra Petras, comencemos.

Para empezar debo insistir con la situación en Ucrania. ¿Qué está pasando allí? ¿Cuál es el papel de la Unión Europea,  la OTAN y los Estados Unidos en todo eso?

JP: Bien. Es una situación bastante clara y definitiva, que los países occidentales -principalmente Canadá, Estados Unidos y la Unión Europea- buscan demonizar a Rusia y facilitar la toma de toda la Ucrania a partir de las agresiones de los paramilitares vinculados con el gobierno títere en Kiev.

Sabemos que este fin de semana en Ginebra, firmaron un acuerdo con Rusia supuestamente como una forma de buscar un acuerdo que podría dar los derechos a los ciudadanos del Este de Ucrania, derechos lingüísticos y de mayor autonomía.

Pero en vez de eso, en momentos en que se esta formando el acuerdo, el gobierno fascista de Kiev manda un grupo de asesinos neofascista, que atacaron los pueblos del Este, matando al menos a tres personas. Esto hace que pueda surgir algún grupo de autodefensa apara aplastarlos.

Pero de todos modos, esto indica en primer lugar que los países occidentales no tienen ningún interés ni capacidad para controlar a los neofascistas, ya que les permitieron utilizar las rutas, las armas y los respaldos políticos, para tratar de desarmar y aplastar a los pueblos del Este.

En segundo lugar, la prensa burguesa -por ejemplo el New York Times hoy y la BBC todo el fin de semana- no comentaban sobre la agresión, simplemente hablaban de un conflicto, sin poner en  contexto que el conflicto en el Este producto de un invasión de fuerzas armadas desde occidente, que están presentes en el gabinete. No son un grupo suelto de paramilitares, son partidarios de representantes que están en el gobierno.

En otras palabras, ya el acuerdo no tiene sentido. Porque las condiciones para firmar el acuerdo ya fueron violadas y sin pedir disculpas. Es decir, los países occidentales van a continuar violando los acuerdos, no tienen ninguna intención de respetar acuerdos.

Es más, cuando Rusia firma el acuerdo, ellos imponen condiciones que no son aceptables para los ucranianos del Este, incluso los ruso parlantes, que no tienen nada que ver con los golpistas de Kiev, no tienen ningún interés de desarmar a los neofascistas que vienen atacando y más aún, ya tienen el respaldo de las tropas que están presentes allá. Tienen en otras palabras, una mayoría, tienen presencia en el gobierno, tienen su propio gobierno, y están dispuestos a negociar un acuerdo que de todas las libertades que piden. Y Rusia no tiene derecho a desarmarlos o pedir que se desarmen frente a esta agresión. Yo creo que Rusia puede estar bien intencionada, pero ellos confiaban demasiado en firmar acuerdos con (Barack) Obama, (Francois) Hollande y los golpistas. Y no tienen ninguna razón para confiar en estos porque Obama tiene toda una historia de violar acuerdo en cualquier parte del mundo.

Los pueblos del oriente de Ucrania tienen todo el derecho a separarse y formar su propio país, formar su propio gobierno, convocar a sus propias elecciones y referéndum. Y Rusia no debe intervenir en eso con acuerdos de cúpulas, porque los acuerdos que Rusia firmó este fin de semana ya están violados y los países occidentales no tienen ninguna intención de rectificar ni auto criticar su conducta.

EChI: ¿Podríamos suponer que Rusia se siente débil por eso se sienta a negociar? ¿Cuál es la correlación de fuerzas?

JP: Obviamente las sanciones, las amenazas de nuevas sanciones, podrían influir en Rusia. Pero también la presencia de bases militares es un cerco contra Rusia,. Ucrania dentro de la OTAN es peor que sufrir algunas sanciones y algunas presiones desde Occidente. Porque uno, es una presión coyuntural y Rusia tiene posibilidades de romper eso, porque grandes empresas occidentales como las petroleras Shell y British Petroleum, o Siemens de Alemania; todas tienen enormes intereses en Rusia y no tienen ninguna razón para romper relaciones.

En segundo lugar, existe la posibilidad real y efectiva de efectuar grandes acuerdos en Asia, con China y otros países, para compensar cualquier pérdida en el Oeste. El  único gobierno que esta empujando mayores sanciones es el menos afectado, que es Estados Unidos, porque tiene menos comercio, menos inversiones y menos dependencia del petróleo y del gas ruso. Por eso para ellos no cuesta nada perder eso.

Pero en todo caso, creo que Rusia si puede sentirlo, a partir de los oligarcas. Es decir, los mas afectados por las sanciones son los oligarcas y mejor que se vayan, que se bajen.

EChI: Si nos remitimos a los antecedentes recientes, la democracia o los gobiernos democráticamente electos están en peligro -lo pudimos ver en Libia, en Afganistán , Siria, etc. y hasta en Venezuela o Ucrania- ¿podría pasar en Rusia?

JP: Si, tienen una quinta columna que se llaman los liberales y la prensa occidental siempre está destacando su importancia Cualquier comentario, cualquier manifestación por minoritaria que sea, cualquier declaración de un experto o un autodenominado experto, que sirva para demonizar a (Vladimir) Putin. Es cierto que existe esta quinta columna también en Rusia, autodenominados demócratas liberales, pero no tienen capacidad electoral, no controlan el ejército, no tienen capacidad de movilizarse a nivel nacional.Están debilitados electoralmente, divididos entre sí. Yo no creo que estén en este momento, en situación de lanzarse. Pero la política occidental es  apretar a partir de golpes de Estado como en Ucrania: con ejercicios militares en todas las regiones fronterizas -Polonia, Letonia, hacia el sur- ..Es una política de desgastar Rusia y fortalecer la quinta columna rusa, a los demócratas liberales, creando condiciones más favorables para que ellos puedan avanzar en una coyuntura más adelante. En la actualidad, Putin es mucho mas fuerte.Las encuestas muestran un gran salto en su popularidad frente a la agresión occidental y la quinta columna está bastante decaída en este momento porque si se ponen en contra, aparecen como lo que son, como traidores de su país y simples agentes de occidente.

En este sentido, esta confrontación con Occidente ha fortalecido el sentido patriótico y anti agresor de Rusia.

EChI: ¿Qué te ha parecido la convocatoria a elecciones en Siria para junio?

JP: Bueno, ahí hay dos cosas a considerar.

El mismo día, este domingo, cuando el gobierno de Bashar Al Assad anunció elecciones presidenciales para el 3 de junio, los terroristas pro occidentales respaldados por los Estados Unidos pusieron una bomba y mataron a cinco personas frente al Parlamento sirio. Dos tipos de  respuestas completamente divergentes: uno, la iniciativa democrática del Presidente de Siria y dos, las bombas terroristas por parte de la oposición.

Y uno debe anotar una cosa que la prensa occidental trata de esconder: Cuando el Papa desde El Vaticano pide paz y el fin de la violencia, está dirigido contra la oposición; la prensa occidental trata de decir que está contra la “violencia de todos”, pero “todos” no incluye a los que están defendiendo el derecho a la libre creencia incluso protegiendo a los cristianos de los terroristas islámicos que están invadiendo el país. En este sentido, el mensaje del Papa está directamente atacando a las fuerzas apoyadas por la OTAN.

Lo mismo pasa con otra figura religiosa, como el patriarca de la Iglesia Cristiana Ortodoxa, que ha condenado a la oposición tanto por la violación de los derechos religiosos y la violación de todos los lugares sagrados. Incluso hay sectores musulmanes, no solamente los chiíes, sino los suníes que supuestamente están en contra de Bashar Al Assad, han atacado a los terroristas porque no respetan nada de los lugares religiosos

Entonces, el día de Pascua coincidió con la denuncia casi unánime de las grandes religiones en el mundo occidental, menos los rabinos judíos en Israel que siguen apoyando a los terroristas islámicos como aliados de Israel. Pero más allá de eso, debemos decir que todas las autoridades morales han tomado partido en favor de las elecciones de junio y  contra el terrorismo de quienes tiran bombas en la ciudad frente al Parlamento.

EChI: Bien, Petras, como siempre el último tramo es para que abordes los temas de tu interés.

JP: Bueno, quiero verter dos cosas más que nada, porque ya tocamos temas que tenia algunos apuntes.

El primer tema tiene que ver con la hipocresía occidental. Tres periodistas secuestrados por los terroristas en Siria, vuelven a casa en Francia. Fueron encarcelados y torturados por los terroristas apoyados por el gobierno francés. Y este hipócrita de Hollande fue a abrazar y apoyar a los periodistas. Es decir, por una parte apoya, financia y arma a los terroristas que secuestraron a los periodistas y cuando vuelven los secuestrados él va a recibirlos y saludarlos. Esto indica la hipocresía que domina la política occidental, por un lado están fomentando el terrorismo y por otro lado, supuestamente, están apoyando a los liberados.

El segundo punto que quiero exponer, es sobre la muerte de Gabriel García Márquez. En muchos reportajes, testimonios, hablan de la gran figura literaria, de la gran persona, de sus amistades incluso con Fidel Castro; pero no hablan del Gabriel García Márquez como político, como luchador, como partidario activo por los derechos humanos. Yo trabajé diez años con Gabriel García Márquez, entre 1973 y 1982, nos conocimos porque trabajamos casi mano a mano en el Tribunal (Bertrand) Russell contra la represión en América Latina.

Gabriel García Márquez era muy activo en las deliberaciones, lo recuerdo junto a Julio Cortázar pasando la noche entera preparando un Manifiesto en Defensa de los procesos revolucionarios en América Latina, fomentando un llamado a los intelectuales. Recuerdo las conversaciones con Gabo sobre como podíamos promover el Tribunal para recibir más publicidad, y García Márquez propuso invitar al ex agente de la CIA, Philip Agee, a una Sesión. Y le pagó el pasaje, Philip Agee estaba en Inglaterra y nosotros en Bruselas, Gabo lo llamó y en la misma tarde Agee llegó y dio su testimonio a Aula llena.

Es decir, Gabriel García Márquez tenia una imaginación política de cómo levantar la atención del público frente a lo que estaba pasando en el mundo, porque la violación de los derechos humanos no era producto simplemente de los dictadores en América Latina porque atrás de ellos estaba la actividad de la CIA.

Gabriel García Márquez era profundamente antiimperialista y eso no aparece en las memorias.

La hipocresía de los gobernadores en América Latina principalmente en Colombia, donde Gabriel García Márquez me contaba las amenazas que recibía del terrorismo. Incluso en una sesión del Tribunal , Gabriel García Márquez invitó a representantes de la comunidad indígena a dar su testimonio sobre cómo los grandes ganaderos colombianos, respaldados por el gobierno, no pensaban que matar indígenas era un crimen; para ellos era como matar a un lobo, una amenaza a la ganadería. Fue muy chocante oír cuando un indígena contó como un campesino entró a la comunidad a los balazos y cuando lo pararon dijo que su patrón le aseguraba que no era un crimen matar indígenas.

Este tipo de intervención de Gabriel García Márquez, muestra varias cosas. Primero, un profundo compromiso con el pueblo colombiano y no con los gobernadores que amenazaban con matarlo por esos testimonios.

Segundo, era un político de gran imaginación, capaz de promover actividades que llamaran la atención de los medios, incluso los medios burgueses.

Y tercero, Gabriel García Márquez, a pesar de ser un Premio Nobel, siempre mantuvo vínculos con las luchas populares, en todas las dimensiones no solamente humanitarias, sino activamente político contra las oligarquías en América Latina y contra la política imperialista.

Hasta ahora, los documentales que se vieron ahora no muestran estas dimensiones. Yo se que por lo menos por diez años García Márquez trabajó de forma muy consciente en el Tribunal Russell, después en la Organización por los Derechos de los Pueblos y en la fundación de Argelia en 1976.

EChI: Muy bien Petras, muchas gracias por esta aclaración.

Nos reencontramos el lunes.

JP: Así es, un abrazo.

Apr 172014
 

By Shari Foster and Sue Schumann, 99GetSmart

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As the country entered what the mainstream media termed the “Polar Vortex,” we entered into an emotional vortex of concern and dread. While running our errands, struggling with the frigid temperatures it struck us: What would we do if we couldn’t? What if the oil tanks in our homes were empty, what if we didn’t have access to transportation or use of a personal vehicle to purchase groceries? Volunteering with the local Food Not Bombs LI Chapter, we knew first hand that poverty and hunger are ever present in Long Island. The stereotypical version of what Eastern Long Island is – wealth and luxury, beachfront properties with driveways filled with fast and fancy cars – is far from accurate. As temperatures dipped we grew more alarmed, knowing that many houseless were facing the worst weather elements and survival would come at a high price.

Inspired by the work of #OpSafeWinter-NYC, we embarked on our two-woman journey. Since we recognized our limited finances we quickly became both frugal and inventive. SouperSistas started serving soup on January 7, 2014. We went to local grocery stores and scoured the reduced-produce racks for fresh produce and scoped out sales to prepare tasty and healthy food. We were aware of small houseless communities that gather cans and bottles that are redeemed for the five-cent deposit money. Once redeemed, resources are collectively shared in an effort to provide and care for each other. Every Tuesday and Thursday we choose to share our hot soup and fresh bread with these communities. We also served soup in the local Department of Social Services (DSS) parking, lot where we witnessed people with garbage bags and shopping carts filled with their belongings seeking emergency shelter. Recently we were escorted off of DSS property by two police cars that informed us we were on “private property.” We explained that our taxes pay for the parking lot; we decided to leave to avoid arrest. We are trying to decipher the bureaucratic process so we may return to DSS, but in the interim we continue to serve in areas that welcome us.

Marginalized populations face a bureaucratic system that is very complex, one that imposes too many requirements for people to fulfill. In the beginning we were often met with distrust, a certain “what’s in it for you?” reluctance, and deservedly so. When the system fails, contempt and distrust prevail. Over time we can honestly say that the barriers we faced initially have slowly dissipated. The newly formed friendships have been the ultimate gift that we continue to receive. Our respect for the community is overwhelming; the strength, the commitment to each other serve as a constant reminder to us that we must take care of each other. We can’t rely on a compassionless government who creates victims and then blames them for their circumstances. It’s such a simple, basic principle, one that we teach our children at a very young age: the importance of sharing. Sadly, certain cities in the US have made it illegal to share one’s food with homeless people. What kind of lessons are we teaching our young?

We are pleased that others, both on Long Island and in other states, have joined with SouperSistas and share food as well.

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You can follow us on Facebook at #SouperSistas and on twitter @SouperSistas.

Apr 152014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Vassilis Papadopoulos, Linda Ross (aka greydogg) and Theodosis Temzelidis

Vassilis Papadopoulos, Linda Ross (aka greydogg) and Theodosis Temzelidis

A delegation from the Den Plirono (“I Won’t Pay”) Movement in Greece met Friday, April 4, 2014, in Barcelona with Linda Ross and other activist comrades to deepen relations between the civil disobedience movements of the two countries.

Vassilis Papadopoulos, president of the Movement, and Theodossis Temzelidis, member of the political secretariat of the Movement, represented Den Plirono in Barcelona.

Linda Ross is a well-known activist who has supported the Den Plirono Movement in many ways and is now living in Barcelona.

During the meeting, they exchanged experiences between the movements of the two countries and laid the foundations for the further deepening of relations. 

The delegation of the Movement will meet with other political forces in the region.

Greece and Spain are in the midst of the storm of the capitalist crisis. Common problems include the closing of stores in Barcelona as in Athens and in other cities of the two countries.

The solution to the problems of 99% of the people can be found in the common struggle of the peoples of Europe and the overthrow of the system of exploitation through the assertion of human rights.

The people united will never be defeated.

Den Plirono movement
Apr 142014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* THE RED LINE AND THE RAT LINE

By Seymour M. Hersh, London Review of Books

ERDOGAN-OBAMA GORUSMESI

In 2011 Barack Obama led an allied military intervention in Libya without consulting the US Congress. Last August, after the sarin attack on the Damascus suburb of Ghouta, he was ready to launch an allied air strike, this time to punish the Syrian government for allegedly crossing the ‘red line’ he had set in 2012 on the use of chemical weapons. * Then with less than two days to go before the planned strike, he announced that he would seek congressional approval for the intervention. The strike was postponed as Congress prepared for hearings, and subsequently cancelled when Obama accepted Assad’s offer to relinquish his chemical arsenal in a deal brokered by Russia. Why did Obama delay and then relent on Syria when he was not shy about rushing into Libya? The answer lies in a clash between those in the administration who were committed to enforcing the red line, and military leaders who thought that going to war was both unjustified and potentially disastrous.

Obama’s change of mind had its origins at Porton Down, the defence laboratory in Wiltshire. British intelligence had obtained a sample of the sarin used in the 21 August attack and analysis demonstrated that the gas used didn’t match the batches known to exist in the Syrian army’s chemical weapons arsenal. The message that the case against Syria wouldn’t hold up was quickly relayed to the US joint chiefs of staff. The British report heightened doubts inside the Pentagon; the joint chiefs were already preparing to warn Obama that his plans for a far-reaching bomb and missile attack on Syria’s infrastructure could lead to a wider war in the Middle East. As a consequence the American officers delivered a last-minute caution to the president, which, in their view, eventually led to his cancelling the attack.

For months there had been acute concern among senior military leaders and the intelligence community about the role in the war of Syria’s neighbours, especially Turkey. Prime Minister Recep Erdoğan was known to be supporting the al-Nusra Front, a jihadist faction among the rebel opposition, as well as other Islamist rebel groups. ‘We knew there were some in the Turkish government,’ a former senior US intelligence official, who has access to current intelligence, told me, ‘who believed they could get Assad’s nuts in a vice by dabbling with a sarin attack inside Syria – and forcing Obama to make good on his red line threat.’ […]

READ @ http://www.lrb.co.uk/v36/n08/seymour-m-hersh/the-red-line-and-the-rat-line

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* ALL THE PRESIDENTS’ BANKERS: THE WORLD BANK AND THE IMF

By Nomi Prins, zerohedge

Lloyd Blankfein, James Dimon, John Mack, Brian Moynihan

The following is an excerpt from ALL THE PRESIDENTS’ BANKERS: The Hidden Alliances that Drive American Power by Nomi Prins (on sale April 8, 2014). Nomi Prins is a former managing director at Goldman Sachs.

The World Bank and the IMF: Expanding Wall Street’s Reach Worldwide

Just after the United States entered World War II, two simultaneous initiatives unfolded that would dictate elements of financing after the war, through the joint initiatives of foreign policy measures and private banking whims. Plans were already being formulated to navigate the postwar peace, especially its international power implications for finance and politics, in the background. American political leaders and scholars began considering the concept of “one world” from an economic perspective, void of divisions and imbalances. Or so the theory went.

The original plans to create a set of multinational entities that would finance one-world reconstruction and development (and ostensibly balance the world’s various economies) were conceived by two academics: John Maynard Keynes, an adviser for the British Treasury, and Harry Dexter White, an economist in the Division of Monetary Research of the US Treasury under Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau.

By the spring of 1942, White had drafted plans for a “stabilization fund” and a “Bank for Reconstruction and Development.” His concept for the fund became the seed for the International Monetary Fund. The other idea became the World Bank. But before those entities would come to life through the Bretton Woods conferences, many arguments about their makeup would take place, and millions of lives would be lost. […]

READ @ http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2014-04-12/all-presidents-bankers-world-bank-and-imf

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* EURODAD REPORT SHOWS HOW IMF LENDING OFTEN MAKES CRISIS COUNTRIES’ SITUATION WORSE

Source: Eurodad, CADTM

IMF_2012-04-22

IMF loans come with conditions which are often highly controversial, for example influencing taxes and cutting spending; freezing or reducing public sector wages; and mandating cutbacks in welfare programmes, including pensions. There are also conditions on the restructuring and privatisation of public enterprises, and conditions that reduce minimum wage levels.

Although the IMF has said it has tried to “streamline” its conditional lending, Eurodad counted an average of 19.5 structural conditions per programme – a sharp increase since 2005-7 when Eurodad found an average of 13.7 conditions. The biggest loans had the heaviest conditions, with exceptionally high numbers in Cyprus, Greece and Jamaica – which totalled an average of 35 structural conditions per programme.

Almost all the countries were repeat borrowers from the IMF, suggesting that it is propping up governments with unsustainable debt levels, not lending for a temporary balance of payments problems – its true mandate. Developing countries have a limited voice and minority vote at the IMF, and so these developments are especially worrying for them.

The Ukraine is the latest country to have been in negotiations with the IMF, with conditions attached to their proposed loan reported to include a cut in energy subsidies for consumers and a rise in gas prices by 50 per cent. […]

READ @ http://cadtm.org/Eurodad-report-shows-how-IMF

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* WHITEWASHING THE UGLY FACE OF CAPITALISM

By Patrice Greanville, Greanville Post

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(NOTE: This essay is a revised version of the original first published in the fall of 1982 in the premiere edition of Cyrano’s Journal, America’s First Radical Media Review. )

GLOSSARY OF MAJOR DISTORTIONS

1 Capitalism = human nature

This propaganda equation is one of the oldest and most effective ideological weapons utilized in defense of capitalism. It pays off handsomely in a number of important ways. First, if capitalism is congruent with “human nature,” then the capitalist system must be the most “natural” and “logical” form of social organization, as people will have a built-in tendency to observe its basic rules. Second, “human nature,” as defined in bourgeois terms (which the press of course follows) is characterized by two significant traits: immutability and unalterable egoism.

The first “fact” automatically discourages most efforts at seriously reforming, let alone revolutionizing, society. Why should anyone bother if in the end the stubborn intractability of human nature will render all schemes for change and improvement of social conditions worthless and utopian? It’s evident that when sufficient numbers of people are made to believe that an eternal, immutable and invincible “human nature” will time and again scuttle the best-laid plans and the costliest sacrifices for change, then most threats to the status quo will be defanged at the outset.

The second “fact,” addressing the supposed individualistic nature of people, provides a convenient justification for the harsh, dog-eat-dog conditions that prevail under the so-called free-enterprise system. In this vision, all human motivation is supposed to flow from the desire for pecuniary gain and self-aggrandisement. Individuals are perceived uni-dimensionally as simple atoms of unrelenting hedonism, constantly pursuing the calculus of profit and loss, pain and pleasure, as they irrepressibly “maximize” their options to fulfill the dictates of hopelessly greedy natures. This is the fabled “homo economicus” of free market literature; the heroic “rugged individualist” so dear to conservatives, and supposedly the creature on which all human progress and wealth depend. But why do the media–and especially the wilier corporate apologists– embrace this tack with so much fervor? As suggested above, the very possibility of changing things is a highly contested ideological area. Radicals argue that society can and should be drastically changed. Conservatives (and the media, which incorporates the mildly reformist liberal viewpoint) contend that nothing basic can or should be changed because our behavior is rooted in an unchanging human nature true for all epochs, systems, and states of human evolution, and, besides, the system is quite sound as it is. History, however, when properly read, is not very kind to conservative social science. As economists E.K. Hunt and Howard Sherman have pointed out, “human nature” seems quite adept at changing to reflect each new set of prevailing social circumstances.

Thus, “it’s no coincidence that the dominant view or ideology under slavery supports slavery; that under serfdom [it] supports serfdom; and that under capitalism [it] supports capitalism. (…) Since our ideology is determined by our social environment, radical economists contend that a change in our socioeconomic structure will eventually change the dominant ideology. Before the Civil War most Southerners (including their social scientists and religious leaders) believed firmly that slavery, an essentially pre-capitalist, agricultural system, was natural and good; but after 100 years of dominance by capitalist socioeconomic institutions, most Southerners (including their social scientists and religious ministers) now declare that capitalism is “natural and good”. So the dominant ideas of any epoch are not determined by “human nature” but by socioeconomic relations and can be changed by changes in these underlying relationships. There is thus hope for a completely new and better society with new and better views by most people.” (F.K. Hunt and Howard J. Sherman, Economics, Harper & Row, 1978, p. xxviii.)

Further, if “human nature” is inherently greedy, competitive and egoist, how do we explain altruism, sharing, selflessness and social cooperation, which can be readily observed to this day in many human institutions and societies throughout the world? It should be borne in mind that class-divided societies and private property made their appearance barely 10,000 years ago, roughly congruent with the rise of agriculture, food surpluses, sedentarism and animal-domestication, while the bulk of our time on earth as a species has been spent under tribal or primitive communitarianism which stressed familial bonds and a sharing of the commonwealth.Question for our pro-capitalist theoreticians: Did native Americans have a human nature?

READ @ http://www.greanvillepost.com/2014/04/11/whitewashing-capitalism-the-medias-false-propaganda-equations-and-assertions/

Apr 102014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

Source: ECO Media

Despite the blocking of YouTube in Turkey – ECO Media shows YouTube documentary “My Life under Erdoğan — Video Diary from Istanbul”

Weeks before the blocking of YouTube ECO Media started contacting video bloggers in Istanbul. They have filmed the protests in Gezi Park and other places from the beginning on. And they published their videos on YouTube — until the government stopped them.

But this could not prevent ECO Media´s project. The cooperation between the German production company and the Turkish video bloggers was finished. And ECO Media made many interviews with video bloggers and other eye witnesses via Skype. They talk frankly about Erdoğan´s corruptions scandals, the death of a 15 year old boy, their fear after the local elections. A very intense and personal film — unimpressed by Erdoğan´s censorship.

VIDEO @ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d82cRXAFXNM