Oct 192016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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During most of the past two decades Washington has aggressively launched military and economic wars against at least nine countries, either directly or through its military aid to regional allies and proxies. US air and ground troops have bombed or invaded Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia, Syria, Yemen, and Lebanon.

More recently Washington has escalated its global economic war against major economic rivals as well as against weaker countries. The US no longer confines its aggressive impulses to peripheral economic countries in the Middle East, Latin America and Southern Asia: It has declared trade wars against world powers in Asia, Eastern and Central Europe and the Gulf states.

The targets of the US economic aggression include economic powerhouses like Russia, China, Germany, Iran and Saudi Arabia, as well as Syria, Yemen, Venezuela, Cuba, and the Donbas region of Ukraine.

There is an increasingly thinner distinction between military and economic warfare, as the US has frequently moved from one to the other, particularly when economic aggression has not resulted in ‘regime change’ – as in the case of the sanctions campaign against Iraq leading up to the devastating invasion and destruction.

In this essay, we propose to examine the strategies and tactics underlying Washington’s economic warfare, their successes and failures, and the political and economic consequences to target nations and to world stability.

Washington’s Economic Warfare and Global Power

The US has used different tactical weapons as it pursues its economic campaigns against targeted adversaries and even against its long-time allies.

Two supposed allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia, have been attacked by the Obama Administration and US Congress via ‘legal’ manipulations aimed at their financial systems and overseas holdings. This level of aggression against sovereign powers is remarkable and reckless. In 2016 the US Justice Department slapped a $14 billion dollar penalty on Germany’s leading international bank, Deutsche Bank, throwing the German stock market into chaos, driving the bank’s shares down 40% and destabilizing Germany’s financial system. This unprecedented attack on an ally’s major bank was in direct retaliation for Germany’s support of the European Commission’s $13 billion tax levy against the US-tax evading Apple Corporation for its notorious financial shenanigans in Ireland. German political and business leaders immediately dismissed Washington’s legalistic rhetoric for what it was: the Obama Administration’s retaliation in order to protect America’s tax evading and money laundering multinationals.

The chairman of the German parliament’s economic committee stated that the gross US attempt to extort Deutsche Bank had all the elements of an economic war. He noted that Washington had a “long tradition of using every available opportunity to wage what amounted to a trade war if it benefits their own economy” and the “extortionate damages claim” against Deutsche Bank were a punitive example. US economic sanctions against some of Germany’s major trade partners, like Russia, China and Iran, constitute another tactic to undermine Germany’s huge export economy. Ironically, Germany is still considered “a valued ally” when it comes to the US wars against Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq, which have driven millions of refugees to Europe creating havoc with Germany’s political, economic and social system and threatening to overthrow the government of ‘ally’ Angela Merkel.

The US Congress launched an economic-judicial war against its closest ally in the Gulf region when it approved legislation granting US victims of Islamist terrorism, especially related to the attacks on September 11, 2001 the right to sue the government of Saudi Arabia and seize its overseas assets. This included the Kingdom’s immense ‘sovereign funds’ and constitutes an arbitrary and blatant violation of Saudi sovereignty. This opens the Pandora’s Box of economic warfare by allowing victims to sue any government for sponsoring terrorism, including the United States! Saudi leaders immediately reacted by threatening to withdraw billions of dollars of assets in US Treasuries and investments.

The US economic sanctions against Russia are designed to strengthen its stranglehold on the economies of Europe which rely on trade with Russia. These have especially weakened German and Polish trade relations with Russia, a major market for German industrial exports and Polish agriculture products. Originally, the US-imposed economic sanctions against Moscow were supposed to harm Russian consumers, provoke political unrest and lead to ‘regime change’. In reality, the unrest it provoked has been mainly among European exporters, whose contracts with Russia were shredded and billions of Euros were lost. Furthermore, the political and diplomatic climate between Europe and Russia has deteriorated while Washington has ‘pivoted’ toward a more militaristic approach.

Results in Asia have been even more questionable: Washington’s economic campaign against China has moved awkwardly in two directions: Prejudicial trade deals with Asian-Pacific countries and a growing US military encirclement of China’s maritime trade routes.

The Obama regime dispatched Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to promote the Trans- Pacific Partnership (TPP) among a dozen regional governments, which would blatantly exclude China, Asia’s largest economic power. In a slap to the outgoing Obama Administration, the US Congress rejected his showpiece economic weapon against China, the TPP.

Meanwhile, Obama ‘encouraged’ his erstwhile ‘allies’ in the Philippines and Vietnam to sue China for maritime violations over the disputed ‘Spratly Islands’ before the Permanent Court of Arbitration. Japan and Australia signed military pacts and base agreements with the Pentagon aimed at disrupting China’s trade routes. Obama’s so-called ‘Pivot to Asia’ is a transparent campaign to block China from its markets and trading partners in Southeast Asia and Pacific countries of Latin American. Washington’s flagrant economic warfare resulted in slapping harsh import tariffs on Chinese industrial exports, especially steel and tires. The US also sent a ‘beefed up’ air and sea armada for ‘joint exercises’ along China’s regional trade routes and its access to critical Persian Gulf oil, setting off a ‘war of tension’.

In response to Washington’s ham-fisted aggression, the Chinese government deftly rolled out the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) with over fifty countries eagerly signing on for lucrative trade and investment deals with Beijing. The AIIB’s startling success does not bode well for Obama’s ‘Pivot to Pacific Hegemony’.

The so-called US-EU-Iran accord did not end Washington’s trade war against Tehran. Despite Iran’s agreement to dismantle its peaceful uranium enrichment and nuclear research programs, Washington has blocked investors and tried to undermine trade relations, while still holding billions of dollars of Iranian state assets, frozen since the overthrow of the Shah in 1979. Nevertheless, a German trade mission signed on a three billion trade agreement with Iran in early October 2016 and called on the US to fulfill its side of the agreement with Tehran – so far to no avail.

The US stands alone in sending its nuclear naval armada to the Persian Gulf and threatens commercial relations. Even the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the longstanding enemy of the Iranian Islamic Republic, has agreed to a cooperative oil production arrangement at a recent OPEC meeting.

Washington’s declaration of economic warfare against two of its most strategic powerful allies, Germany and Saudi Arabia and three rising competitor world powers, has eroded US economic competitiveness, undermined its access to lucrative markets and increased its reliance on aggressive military strategies over diplomacy.

What is striking and perplexing about Washington’s style of economic warfare is how costly this has been for the US economy and for US allies, with so little concrete benefit.

US oil companies have lost billions in joint exploitation deals with Russia because of Obama’s sanctions. US bankers, agro-exporters, high-tech companies are missing out on lucrative sales just to ‘punish’ Russia over the incredibly corrupt and bankrupt US coup regime in Ukraine.

US multi-national corporations, especially those involved in Pacific Coast transport and shipyards, Silicon Valley high tech industry and Washington State’s agro-export producers are threatened by the US trade agreements that exclude China.

Iran’s billion dollar market is looking for everything from commercial airplanes to mining machinery. Huge trade deals have has been lost to US companies because Obama continues to impose de facto sanctions. Meanwhile, European and Asian competitors are signing contracts.

Despite Washington’s dependence on German technical knowhow and Saudi petro-dollar investments as key to its global ambitions, Obama’s irrational policies continue to undermine US trade.

Washington has engaged in economic warfare against ‘lesser economic powers’ that nevertheless play significant political roles in their regions. The US retains the economic boycott of Cuba; it wages economic aggression against Venezuela and imposes economic sanctions against Syria, Yemen and the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine. While these countries are not costly in terms of economic loss to US business interests, they exercise significant political and ideological influence in their regions, which undermine US ambitions.

Conclusion

Washington’s resort to economic warfare complements its military fueled empire building.

But economic and military warfare are losing propositions. While the US may extract a few billion dollars from Deutsch Bank, it will have lost much more in long-term, large-scale relations with German industrialists, politicians and financiers. This is critical because Germany plays the key role in shaping economic policy in the European Union. The practice of US multi-national corporations seeking off-shore tax havens in the EU may come to a grinding halt when the European Commission finishes its current investigations. The Germans may not be too sympathetic to their American competitors.

Obama’s Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) has not only collapsed, it has compelled China to open new avenues for trade and cooperation with Asian-Pacific nations – exactly the opposite of its original goal of isolating Beijing. China’s Asia Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB) has attracted 4 time more participants than Washington’s TPP and massive infrastructure projects are being financed to further bind ASEAN countries to China. China’s economic growth at 6.7% more than three times that of the US at 2%. Worse, for the Obama Administration, Washington has alienated its historically most reliable allies, as China, deepens economic ties and cooperation agreements with Thailand, Philippines, Pakistan, Cambodia and Laos.

Iran, despite US sanctions, is gaining markets and trade with Germany, Russia, China and the EU.

The Saudi-US conflict has yet to play-out, but any escalation of law suits against the kingdom will result in the flight of hundreds of billions of investment dollars from the US.

In effect, Obama’s campaign of economic warfare may lead to the infinitely more costly military warfare and the massive loss of jobs and profits for the US economy. Washington is increasingly isolated. The only allies supporting its campaign of economic sanctions are second and third rate powers, like Poland and current corrupt parasites in Ukraine. As long as the Poles and Ukrainians can ‘mooch’ off of the IMF and grab EU and US ‘loans’, they will cheerlead Obama’s charge against Russia. Israel, as long as it can gobble up an additional $38 billion dollars in ‘aid’ from Washington, remains the biggest advocate for war against Iran.

Washington spends billions of US tax-payer dollars on its military bases in Japan, Philippines and Australia to maintain its hegemony in the Asia-Pacific region. Its allies, though, are salivating at the prospect for greater trade and infrastructure investment deals with China.

Economic warfare doesn’t work for the Washington because the US economy cannot compete, especially when it attacks its own allies and traditional partners. Its regional allies are keen to join the ‘forbidden’ markets and share in major investment projects funded by China. Asian leaders increasingly view Washington, with its ‘pivot to militarism’ as politically unreliable, unstable and dangerous. After the Philippine government economic mission to China, expect more to ‘jump ship’.

Economic warfare against declared adversaries can only succeed if the US is committed to free trade with its allies, ends punitive sanctions and stops pushing for exclusive trade treaties that undermine its allies’ economies. Furthermore, Washington should stop catering to the whims of special domestic interests. Absent these changes, its losing campaign of economic warfare can only turn into military warfare – a prospect devastating to the US economy and to world peace.

James Petras is author of  The End of the Republic and the Delusion of EmpireExtractive Imperialism in the Americas: Capitalism’s New Frontier (with Henry Veltmeyer), and The Politics of Empire: The US, Israel and the Middle EastRead other articles by James, or visit James’s website.

Oct 052016
 

By James Petras99GetSmart

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“What Russia is sponsoring and doing [in Syria] is not counter-terrorism it is barbarism” – Samantha Power, US Representative to the United Nations

Introduction

The US representative to the United Nations, Ambassador ‘Ranting Sam’ Samantha Power, accused the Russian and Syrian governments of ‘barbarism’, claiming Moscow or Damascus had attacked an unarmed United Nations humanitarian convoy delivering aid to civilians in Aleppo. No evidence was presented. Rants and threats do not require facts or proof; they only require vehement emotional ejaculations and compliant mass propaganda organs.

‘Barbarians’, to be clear, evoke images of leaders and groups, which abjure all civilized norms and laws. They only respond to armed force.

In the present context Power’s charges of barbarism against Russia and Syria was used to justify the US aerial bombardment of a Syrian army outpost, which killed and maimed almost 200 government troops engaged in combating ISIS terrorists and jihadi invaders.

In other words, accusing Syrian soldiers of ‘barbarism’ was Ambassador Power’s cynical way of dehumanizing the young victims of an earlier and deliberate US war crime.

Let’s analyze the appropriate context for the use and abuse of the language of ‘barbarism’ – and its rightful application.

Barbarism: The Deed

Over the past decade and a half, the US and its allies have invaded, occupied, killed, wounded and dispossessed over ten million people, in countries from Afghanistan, Iraq, Somalia, Libya, Syria, Yemen and Lebanon. Military and civilian officials have systematically destroyed entire economies, fostered ethno-religious wars, undermined ancient community and family ties and placed corrupt political puppets in power.

Promoted by the US, torture, arbitrary arrest and incarceration have become the norm creating lawless and chaotic societies, which had once been productive and stable. The shredding of  social structures has provokes massive population flight, with millions of desperate refugees fleeing invasions, wars and total society breakdown. The result of these deliberate imperial policy decisions has been emptied cities and neighborhoods, broken families, destroyed lives and futures for many millions of young Arabs and Muslims.

As the human toll mounts and Western Europe is flooded with the results of US aggressive wars, the imperialists have sharpened their shrill rhetoric, labeling all of their adversaries and critics as ‘accomplices in war crimes’, and ‘barbarians’.

The greater and more sustained the policy of wanton imperial pillage, the more intense the frustration of its leaders over its ultimate failures, and the greater the recourse of its ‘diplomats’ to vituperative language.

Barbarism in Search of Barbarians

The barbarism underlying the US and EU imperial wars of conquest in the Middle East is unmatched. The principal adversaries to US aggression, Russia, China and Iran, have not invaded any sovereign countries, nor have they provoked the desperate flight of millions of refugees. Russia was invited to aid its Syrian government ally confronting an invasion of terrorist mercenaries who are intent on dividing the country. Crimea peacefully re-joined Russia via elections. Moscow rejected playing any military role in support of Western wars against Iraq, Yemen and Libya. None of this rose to the level of US-EU barbarism.

In Asia, the West has invaded and devastated Viet Nam, the Philippines and Afghanistan. Japan, now a US ally, had invaded China, Korea and Southeast Asia. China for its part has not engaged in any imperial war of conquest for centuries.

Iran has not invaded any country in modern times. On the contrary, Iraq invaded Tehran in the 1980’s with US support and waged a decade-long war which caused millions of casualties.

In truth, if waging wars, staging invasions, destroying whole societies and causing millions of deaths are the measure of barbarism, then the US, Europe and Japan have been clearly barbaric.

To claim otherwise and follow the ranting script of Ambassador Samantha Power is to enter into a tunnel of hallucinations where the language of liberal values embellishes truly barbarian acts.

The entire language of politics has been perverted and converted into an artifice of self-delusion. Terrorist militias are re-packaged as ‘rebels’ and ‘moderates’, spreading barbarism from the imperial Western center to the periphery. The deliberate spread of terrorism is itself a barbaric deed, which degrades the status of Western powers.

Conclusion

In ancient Greece, the barbarians were those outside of the empire who did not speak the language of civilization. They were savage invaders seeking to pillage the wealth and culture of the empire. Today the barbarians emerge from inside the empire and spread outward. The imperial leaders have engaged in serial wars of destruction and pillage, even as their own societies and economies wallow in ignorance, misery, debt, addiction and criminality. Imperial barbarians devastate whole cultures, erasing the great historical legacy of ancient civilizations like Iraq and Syria, while imposing their culture of morons, drugs and electronic gadgets, which has already infantilized its own population.

The empire of barbarians is infested with moneychangers and corrupt speculators. They have debased the entire legal system and legislative bodies. The public space has become a private latrine for the elite, closed to any real public discourse and debate.

Electoral spectacles, rather than reasoned debates, undermine republican principles. Imperial conquerors, enmeshed in a military metaphysic, cannot reconstruct a devastated society into a productive colony, nor can they learn or benefit from the best and brightest among its captives, as Rome did with Greece, because it has sown such destruction and salted the very soil under the feet of its conquered peoples.

The barbarian-imperial world order is constantly at war with ‘others’ and can never assimilate and learn from the precious human treasures it has so wantonly destroyed. It rules by terror abroad and deceit at home. As so crudely displayed by the imperial rants of Ambassador Samantha Power, its oratory at international forums reflect the hysteria of mediocre functionaries: mindless barbarians raving among themselves in marbled echo chambers.

In the end, the imperial barbarians will be besieged by their own fleeing vassals and puppets. When they finally confront their own decay and internal dissolution they have to decide whether to engage in a last global conflagration or dismantle the imperial barbaric order and choose justice, law and civilization.

Jan 212015
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

EvilYanks

After Paris, condemnation of religious fanaticism is at its height. I’d guess that even many progressives fantasize about wringing the necks of jihadists, bashing into their heads some thoughts about the intellect, about satire, humor, freedom of speech. We’re talking here, after all, about young men raised in France, not Saudi Arabia.

Where has all this Islamic fundamentalism come from in this modern age? Most of it comes – trained, armed, financed, indoctrinated – from Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Syria. During various periods from the 1970s to the present, these four countries had been the most secular, modern, educated, welfare states in the Middle East region. And what had happened to these secular, modern, educated, welfare states?

In the 1980s, the United States overthrew the Afghan government that was progressive, with full rights for women, believe it or not 1, leading to the creation of the Taliban and their taking power.

In the 2000s, the United States overthrew the Iraqi government, destroying not only the secular state, but the civilized state as well, leaving a failed state.

In 2011, the United States and its NATO military machine overthrew the secular Libyan government of Muammar Gaddafi, leaving behind a lawless state and unleashing many hundreds of jihadists and tons of weaponry across the Middle East.

And for the past few years the United States has been engaged in overthrowing the secular Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad. This, along with the US occupation of Iraq having triggered widespread Sunni-Shia warfare, led to the creation of The Islamic State with all its beheadings and other charming practices.

However, despite it all, the world was made safe for capitalism, imperialism, anti-communism, oil, Israel, and jihadists. God is Great!

Starting with the Cold War, and with the above interventions building upon that, we have 70 years of American foreign policy, without which – as Russian/American writer Andre Vltchek has observed – “almost all Muslim countries, including Iran, Egypt and Indonesia, would now most likely be socialist, under a group of very moderate and mostly secular leaders”. 2 Even the ultra-oppressive Saudi Arabia – without Washington’s protection – would probably be a very different place.

On January 11, Paris was the site of a March of National Unity in honor of the magazine Charlie Hebdo, whose journalists had been assassinated by terrorists. The march was rather touching, but it was also an orgy of Western hypocrisy, with the French TV broadcasters and the assembled crowd extolling without end the NATO world’s reverence for journalists and freedom of speech; an ocean of signs declaring Je suis Charlie … Nous Sommes Tous Charlie; and flaunting giant pencils, as if pencils – not bombs, invasions, overthrows, torture, and drone attacks – have been the West’s weapons of choice in the Middle East during the past century.

No reference was made to the fact that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades in the Middle East and elsewhere, had been responsible for the deliberate deaths of dozens of journalists. In Iraq, among other incidents, see Wikileaks’ 2007 video of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 US air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign cameramen.

Moreover, on October 8, 2001, the second day of the US bombing of Afghanistan, the transmitters for the Taliban government’s Radio Shari were bombed and shortly after this the US bombed some 20 regional radio sites. US Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld defended the targeting of these facilities, saying: “Naturally, they cannot be considered to be free media outlets. They are mouthpieces of the Taliban and those harboring terrorists.” 3

And in Yugoslavia, in 1999, during the infamous 78-day bombing of a country which posed no threat at all to the United States or any other country, state-owned Radio Television Serbia (RTS) was targeted because it was broadcasting things which the United States and NATO did not like (like how much horror the bombing was causing). The bombs took the lives of many of the station’s staff, and both legs of one of the survivors, which had to be amputated to free him from the wreckage. 4

I present here some views on Charlie Hebdo sent to me by a friend in Paris who has long had a close familiarity with the publication and its staff:

“On international politics Charlie Hebdo was neoconservative. It supported every single NATO intervention from Yugoslavia to the present. They were anti-Muslim, anti-Hamas (or any Palestinian organization), anti-Russian, anti-Cuban (with the exception of one cartoonist), anti-Hugo Chávez, anti-Iran, anti-Syria, pro-Pussy Riot, pro-Kiev … Do I need to continue?

“Strangely enough, the magazine was considered to be ‘leftist’. It’s difficult for me to criticize them now because they weren’t ‘bad people’, just a bunch of funny cartoonists, yes, but intellectual freewheelers without any particular agenda and who actually didn’t give a fuck about any form of ‘correctness’ – political, religious, or whatever; just having fun and trying to sell a ‘subversive’ magazine (with the notable exception of the former editor, Philippe Val, who is, I think, a true-blooded neocon).”

Dumb and Dumber

Remember Arseniy Yatsenuk? The Ukrainian whom US State Department officials adopted as one of their own in early 2014 and guided into the position of Prime Minister so he could lead the Ukrainian Forces of Good against Russia in the new Cold War?

In an interview on German television on January 7, 2015 Yatsenuk allowed the following words to cross his lips: “We all remember well the Soviet invasion of Ukraine and Germany. We will not allow that, and nobody has the right to rewrite the results of World War Two”.  5

The Ukrainian Forces of Good, it should be kept in mind, also include several neo-Nazis in high government positions and many more partaking in the fight against Ukrainian pro-Russians in the south-east of the country. Last June, Yatsenuk referred to these pro-Russians as “sub-humans” 6, directly equivalent to the Nazi term “untermenschen”.

So the next time you shake your head at some stupid remark made by a member of the US government, try to find some consolation in the thought that high American officials are not necessarily the dumbest, except of course in their choice of who is worthy of being one of the empire’s partners.

The type of rally held in Paris this month to condemn an act of terror by jihadists could as well have been held for the victims of Odessa in Ukraine last May. The same neo-Nazi types referred to above took time off from parading around with their swastika-like symbols and calling for the death of Russians, Communists and Jews, and burned down a trade-union building in Odessa, killing scores of people and sending hundreds to hospital; many of the victims were beaten or shot when they tried to flee the flames and smoke; ambulances were blocked from reaching the wounded … Try and find a single American mainstream media entity that has made even a slightly serious attempt to capture the horror. You would have to go to the Russian station in Washington, DC, RT.com, search “Odessa fire” for many stories, images and videos. Also see the Wikipedia entry on the 2 May 2014 Odessa clashes.

If the American people were forced to watch, listen, and read all the stories of neo-Nazi behavior in Ukraine the past few years, I think they – yes, even the American people and their less-than-intellectual Congressional representatives – would start to wonder why their government was so closely allied with such people. The United States may even go to war with Russia on the side of such people.

L’Occident n’est pas Charlie pour Odessa. Il n’y a pas de défilé à Paris pour Odessa.

Some thoughts about this thing called ideology

Norman Finkelstein, the fiery American critic of Israel, was interviewed recently by Paul Jay on The Real News Network. Finkelstein related how he had been a Maoist in his youth and had been devastated by the exposure and downfall of the Gang of Four in 1976 in China. “It came out there was just an awful lot of corruption. The people who we thought were absolutely selfless were very self-absorbed. And it was clear. The overthrow of the Gang of Four had huge popular support.”

Many other Maoists were torn apart by the event. “Everything was overthrown overnight, the whole Maoist system, which we thought [were] new socialist men, they all believed in putting self second, fighting self. And then overnight the whole thing was reversed.”

“You know, many people think it was McCarthy that destroyed the Communist Party,” Finkelstein continued. “That’s absolutely not true. You know, when you were a communist back then, you had the inner strength to withstand McCarthyism, because it was the cause. What destroyed the Communist Party was Khrushchev’s speech,” a reference to Soviet premier Nikita Khrushchev’s 1956 exposure of the crimes of Joseph Stalin and his dictatorial rule.

Although I was old enough, and interested enough, to be influenced by the Chinese and Russian revolutions, I was not. I remained an admirer of capitalism and a good loyal anti-communist. It was the war in Vietnam that was my Gang of Four and my Nikita Khrushchev. Day after day during 1964 and early 1965 I followed the news carefully, catching up on the day’s statistics of American firepower, bombing sorties, and body counts. I was filled with patriotic pride at our massive power to shape history. Words like those of Winston Churchill, upon America’s entry into the Second World War, came easily to mind again – “England would live; Britain would live; the Commonwealth of Nations would live.” Then, one day – a day like any other day – it suddenly and inexplicably hit me. In those villages with the strange names there were people under those falling bombs, people running in total desperation from that god-awful machine-gun strafing.

This pattern took hold. The news reports would stir in me a self-righteous satisfaction that we were teaching those damn commies that they couldn’t get away with whatever it was they were trying to get away with. The very next moment I would be struck by a wave of repulsion at the horror of it all. Eventually, the repulsion won out over the patriotic pride, never to go back to where I had been; but dooming me to experience the despair of American foreign policy again and again, decade after decade. 7

The human brain is an amazing organ. It keeps working 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and 52 weeks a year, from before you leave the womb, right up until the day you find nationalism. And that day can come very early. Here’s a recent headline from the Washington Post: “In the United States the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.”

Oh, my mistake. It actually said “In N. Korea the brainwashing starts in kindergarten.” 8

Let Cuba Live! The Devil’s List of what the United States has done to Cuba

On May 31, 1999, a lawsuit for $181 billion in wrongful death, personal injury, and economic damages was filed in a Havana court against the government of the United States. It was subsequently filed with the United Nations. Since that time its fate is somewhat of a mystery.

The lawsuit covered the 40 years since the country’s 1959 revolution and described, in considerable detail taken from personal testimony of victims, US acts of aggression against Cuba; specifying, often by name, date, and particular circumstances, each person known to have been killed or seriously wounded. In all, 3,478 people were killed and an additional 2,099 seriously injured. (These figures do not include the many indirect victims of Washington’s economic pressures and blockade, which caused difficulties in obtaining medicine and food, in addition to creating other hardships.)

The case was, in legal terms, very narrowly drawn. It was for the wrongful death of individuals, on behalf of their survivors, and for personal injuries to those who survived serious wounds, on their own behalf. No unsuccessful American attacks were deemed relevant, and consequently there was no testimony regarding the many hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts against Cuban President Fidel Castro and other high officials, or even of bombings in which no one was killed or injured. Damages to crops, livestock, or the Cuban economy in general were also excluded, so there was no testimony about the introduction into the island of swine fever or tobacco mold.

However, those aspects of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare waged against Cuba that involved human victims were described in detail, most significantly the creation of an epidemic of hemorrhagic dengue fever in 1981, during which some 340,000 people were infected and 116,000 hospitalized; this in a country which had never before experienced a single case of the disease. In the end, 158 people, including 101 children, died. 9 That only 158 people died, out of some 116,000 who were hospitalized, was an eloquent testimony to the remarkable Cuban public health sector.

The complaint describes the campaign of air and naval attacks against Cuba that commenced in October 1959, when US president Dwight Eisenhower approved a program that included bombings of sugar mills, the burning of sugar fields, machine-gun attacks on Havana, even on passenger trains.

Another section of the complaint described the armed terrorist groups, los banditos, who ravaged the island for five years, from 1960 to 1965, when the last group was located and defeated. These bands terrorized small farmers, torturing and killing those considered (often erroneously) active supporters of the Revolution; men, women, and children. Several young volunteer literacy-campaign teachers were among the victims of the bandits.

There was also of course the notorious Bay of Pigs invasion, in April 1961. Although the entire incident lasted less than 72 hours, 176 Cubans were killed and 300 more wounded, 50 of them permanently disabled.

The complaint also described the unending campaign of major acts of sabotage and terrorism that included the bombing of ships and planes as well as stores and offices. The most horrific example of sabotage was of course the 1976 bombing of a Cubana airliner off Barbados in which all 73 people on board were killed. There were as well as the murder of Cuban diplomats and officials around the world, including one such murder on the streets of New York City in 1980. This campaign continued to the 1990s, with the murders of Cuban policemen, soldiers, and sailors in 1992 and 1994, and the 1997 hotel bombing campaign, which took the life of a foreigner; the bombing campaign was aimed at discouraging tourism and led to the sending of Cuban intelligence officers to the US in an attempt to put an end to the bombings; from their ranks rose the Cuban Five.

To the above can be added the many acts of financial extortion, violence and sabotage carried out by the United States and its agents in the 16 years since the lawsuit was filed. In sum total, the deep-seated injury and trauma inflicted upon on the Cuban people can be regarded as the island’s own 9-11. 10

Notes

  1. US Department of the Army, Afghanistan, A Country Study (1986), pp.121, 128, 130, 223, 232
  2. Counterpunch, January 10, 2015
  3. Index on Censorship, the UK’s leading organization promoting freedom of expression, October 18, 2001
  4. The Independent (London), April 24, 1999
  5. Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk talking to Pinar Atalay”, Tagesschau (Germany), January 7, 2015 (in Ukrainian with German voice-over)
  6. CNN, June 15, 2014
  7. See William Blum, West-Bloc Dissident: A Cold War Memoir, chapter 3
  8. Washington Post, January 17, 2015, page A6
  9. William Blum, Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II, chapter 30, for a capsule summary of Washington’s chemical and biological warfare against Havana.
  10. For further information, see William Schaap, Covert Action Quarterly magazine (Washington, DC), Fall/Winter 1999, pp.26-29
Sep 242014
 

Posted by greydogg, 99GetSmart

* BREAD, CIRCUSES AND BOMBS – THE DECLINE OF THE AMERICAN EMPIRE

By JimQ, Washington’s Blog

imperium

“Already long ago, from when we sold our vote to no man, the People have abdicated our duties; for the People who once upon a time handed out military command, high civil office, legions — everything, now restrains itself and anxiously hopes for just two things: Bread and Circuses.”Juvenal – Satire (100 A.D.)

Roman satirist and poet Juvenal was displaying contempt for a degraded Roman citizenry that had shunned civic responsibility, shirked their duties of citizenship within a republic, and had chosen to sell their votes to feckless politicians for assurances of bread and circuses. Rather than govern according to noble principles based upon reason, striving for public policies that led to long term sustainability and benefitting the majority of citizens, politicians chose superficial displays and appeasing the masses utilizing the lowest common denominator of “free” food and bountiful spectacles, pageants, and ceremonies in order to retain power.

The Roman Empire’s decline stretched across centuries as the gradual loss of civic virtue among its citizenry allowed demagogues to gain power and barbarians to eventually overrun the weakened empire. While the peasants were distracted with shallow exhibitions of palliative pleasures, those in power were debasing the currency, enriching themselves, and living pampered lives of luxury. The Roman leaders bought public approval and support, not through exemplary public service, but through diversion, distraction, and the satisfaction of base immediate needs and desires of the populace. Satisfying the crude motivations of the ignorant peasants (cheap food and entertainment) is how Roman politicians bought votes and retained power. Free wheat, circus games, and feeding Christians to lions kept the commoners from focusing on politicians pillaging and wasting the empire’s wealth.

History may not repeat exactly because technology, resource discoveries, and political dynamics change the nature of society, but it does rhyme because the human foibles of greed, lust for power, arrogance, and desire for conquest do not vary across the ages. The corruption, arrogance, hubris, currency debasement, materialism, imperialism, and civic decay that led to the ultimate downfall of the Roman Empire is being repeated on an even far greater scale today as the American Empire flames out after only two centuries. The pillars of western society are crumbling under the sustained pressure of an immense mountain of debt, created by crooked bankers and utilized by corrupt politicians to sustain and expand their welfare/warfare state. Recklessness, myopia, greed, willful ignorance, and selfish disregard for unborn generations are the earmarks of decline in this modern day empire of debt, delusion and decay. […]

READ @ http://www.washingtonsblog.com/2014/09/bread-circuses-bombs-decline-american-empire.html

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* SPEAKING THE TRUTH: JOE ROGAN “THE AMERICAN WAR MACHINE”

Source: youtube

VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/w-TDwtt013I

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* WHO PROFITS FROM OUR NEW WAR? INSIDE NSA AND PRIVATE CONTRACTORS’ SECRET PLANS

By Tim Shorrock, Salon

Dave Lorenz, Bruce McFadden

A massive, $7.2 billion Army intelligence contract signed just 10 days ago underscores the central role to be played by the National Security Agency and its army of private contractors in the unfolding air war being carried out by the United States and its Gulf States allies against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.

That war was greatly expanded Monday night when U.S. forces launched a “mix of fighter, bomber, remotely-piloted aircraft and Tomahawk” cruise missiles against ISIS targets in Syria. The Central Command said the strikes were led by the United States with support from Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

INSCOM’s “global intelligence support” contract will place the contractors at the center of this fight. It was unveiled on Sept. 12 by the U.S. Army’s Intelligence and Security Command (INSCOM), one of the largest military units that collects signals intelligence for the NSA.

Under its terms, 21 companies, led by Booz Allen Hamilton, BAE Systems, Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, will compete over the next five years to provide “fully integrated intelligence, security and information operations” in Afghanistan and “future contingency operations” around the world. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2014/09/24/heres_who_profits_from_our_new_war_inside_nsa_and_an_army_of_private_contractors_plans/?source=newsletter

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* CUBA SEES A CRISIS, AND SENDS DOCS; THE US SEES AN OPPORTUNITY AND SENDS TROOPS

By Dave Llindorff, Nation of Change

ebola91814

How’s this for a juxtaposition on how nations respond to a global health catastrophe. Check out these two headlines from yesterday’s news:

Cuba to Send Doctors to Ebola Areas

US to Deploy 3000 Troops as Ebola Crisis Worsens

Reading these stories, which ran in, respectively, the BBC and Reuters, one learns that the Cuban government, which runs a small financially hobbled island nation of 11 million people, with a national budget of $50 billion, Gross Domestic Product of 121 billion and per capita GDP of just over $10,000, is dispatching 165 medical personnel to Africa to regions where there are ebola outbreaks, while the US, the world’s wealthiest nation, with a population of close to 320 million, a national budget of $3.77 trillion, GDP of $17 trillion, and per capita GDP of over $53,000, is sending troops — 3000 of them– to “fight” the ebola epidemic. […]

READ @ http://www.nationofchange.org/cuba-sees-crisis-and-sends-docs-us-sees-opportunity-and-sends-troops-1411139654

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* SNOWDEN DOCUMENTS REVEALED: ISIS CALIPHATE WORKING FOR AMERICA AND ISRAEL

By Anas Chihab, MorroccanTimes

LiveLeak-dot-com-76b_1406255768-10478165_10203437163264005_1659256337688_1406255770.jpg.resized

The former NSA and CIA agent Edward Snowden revealed that the leader of the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi was trained in Israel, various Iranien sources reported.

Snowden added that the American CIA and the British Intelligence collaborated with the Israeli Mossad to create a terrorist organization that is able to attract all extremists of the world to one place, using a strategy called “the hornet’s nest”.

The “Hornet’s nest’’ strategy aims to bring all the major threats to one place in order to track them, and mostly to shake the stability of the Arab countries. The NSA agent revealed that the ISIS “Calif”,  Abu Bakr Al Baghdadi went trough intense military training in the Israeli intelligence “Mossad”. […]

READ @ http://moroccantimes.com/2014/07/nsa-documents-reveal-isis-leaderabu-bakr-al-baghdadi-trained-israeli-mossad/

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* OBAMA BOMBS 7th COUNTRY IN 6 YEARS

Source: RT

American jets hit targets in Syria on Tuesday in the US-led fight against Islamic State. Although the US has not declared war since 1942, this is the seventh country that Barack Obama, the holder of the Nobel Peace Prize, has bombed in as many years.

Syria has become the latest country to have been openly targeted by the US, with Washington predictably not seeking the approval of Syrian President Bashar Assad.

The US and NATO started a bombing campaign in the north of the country on Tuesday against Islamic State militants, who have taken over parts of the north and east of the country. The death toll from Tuesday’s campaign was put at 120, though this figure could rise, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, who also said that eight civilians had lost their lives. […]

READ @ http://rt.com/usa/190048-usa-bombing-six-country/

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* KEN O’KEEFE ON THE SYRIAN CONFLICT. HARD TRUTHS.

Source: youtube

 VIDEO @ http://youtu.be/st05PWCypLQ

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* RAPTORS, BOMBERS AND DRONES: HOW US-LED ISIS STRIKES CAUSED CARNAGE IN SYRIA

Source: RT

syria-map

The US and five Arab states launched airstrikes in eastern Syria for the first time, targeting Islamic State militants. Around two dozen sites were targeted, with more than 200 airstrikes conducted. Reuters say 70 IS fighters were killed in the attacks.

Washington was aided by Bahrain, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates in carrying out the airstrikes, with Qatar in a supporting role. The US-led coalition used a wide array of methods of attack, which included launching guided missiles from cruisers and destroyers in the Red Sea and the Persian Gulf.

The US and its allies had previously conducted airstrikes in Iraq to try and halt the gains made by IS, as well as providing support to Kurdish and Iraqi government forces. However, Tuesday’s attacks in Syria were the first time the US-led forces had bombed Syria. Washington went ahead with the plan despite not consulting with Syrian President Bashar Assad beforehand. […]

READ / VIDEOS @ http://rt.com/news/190188-video-airstrikes-syria-islamicstate/

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

biden222way-7cc5cb64a4a006b0de8aa7f1ecdc5ba57ad5f400-s6-c30

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

tumblr_mli7qqdTS01rne15eo1_500

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

Jan 102014
 

By William Blum, 99GetSmart

americacowers

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The bombing of Flight 103 – Case closed?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Notes

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

 

Aug 142013
 

By James Petras, 99GetSmart

middle-east11-1

Introduction

Representative democracies and autocratic dictatorships respond to profound internal crises in very distinctive ways: the former attempts to reason with citizens, explaining the causes, consequences and alternatives; dictatorships attempt to terrorize, intimidate and distract the public by evoking bogus external threats, to perpetuate and justify rule by police state methods and avoid facing up to the self-inflicted crises.

Such a bogus fabrication is evident in the Obama regime’s current announcements of an imminent global “terrorist threat”[1] in the face of multiple crises, policy failures and defeats throughout the Middle East, North Africa and Southwest Asia.

Internet ‘Chatter’ Evokes a Global Conspiracy and Revives the Global War on Terror

The entire terror conspiracy propaganda blitz, launched by the Obama regime and propagated by the mass media, is based on the flimsiest sources imaginable, the most laughable pretext. According to White House sources, the National Security Agency, the CIA and other spy agencies claimed to have monitored and intercepted unspecified Al-Qaeda threats, conversations by two Al Qaeda figures including Ayman al Zawahiri[2].

Most damaging, the Obama regime’s claim of a global threat by al-Qaeda, necessitating the shutdown of 19 embassies and consuls and a world-wide travelers alert, flies in the face of repeated public assertions over the past five years that Washington has dealt ‘mortal blows’ to the terrorist organization crippling its operative capacity[3] and citing the US “military successes” in Afghanistan and Iraq, its assassination of Bin Laden, the drone attacks in Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia and the US-backed invasion of Libya.  Either the Obama regime was lying in the past or its current terror alert is a fabrication. If, as Obama and the NSA currently claim, Al Qaeda has re-emerged as a global terrorist threat, then twelve years of warfare in Afghanistan and eleven years of war in Iraq, the spending of $1.46 trillion dollars, the loss of over seven thousand US soldiers[4] and the physical and psychological maiming of over a hundred thousand US combatants has been a total and unmitigated disaster and the so-called war on terror is a failure.

The claim of a global terror threat, based on NSA surveillance of two Yemen-based Al Qaeda leaders, is as shallow as it is implausible. Every day throughout cyberspace one or another Islamist terrorist group or individual discuss terror plots, fantasies and plans of no great consequence.

The Obama regime fails to explain why, out of thousands of daily internet ‘conversations’, this particular one, at this particular moment, represents an ongoing viable terrorist operation. One does not need a million spies to pick up jihadist chatter about “attacking Satan”.

For over a decade, Al Qaeda operatives in Yemen have been engaging in a proxy war with Washington-backed regimes and over the same time the Obama regime has been engaged in drone and Special Forces assassination mission against Yemeni militants and opposition figures[5]. In other words, the Obama regime has magnified commonplace events, related to an ongoing conflict known to the public, into a new global terrorist threat as revealed by his spymasters because of their high powered espionage prowess!

It is more than obvious that the Obama regime is engaged in a global fabrication designed to distract world public opinion and, in particular, the majority of US citizens, from police state spying and violations of basic constitutional freedoms.

By evoking a phony “terrorist threat” and its detection by the NSA, Obama hopes to re-legitimate his discredited police state apparatus.

More important, by raising the specter of a global terrorist threat, the Obama regime seeks to cover-up the most disreputable policies, despicable “show trials” and harsh imprisonment of government whistle blowers and political, diplomatic and military defeats and failures which have befallen the empire in the present period.

The Timing of the Fabrication of the Global Terror Threat

In recent years the US public has grown weary of the cost and inconclusive nature of the ‘global war on terror’, or GWOT.  Public opinion polls support the withdrawal of troops from overseas wars and back domestic social programs over military spending and new invasions. Yet the Obama regime, aided and abetted by the pro-Israel power configuration, in and out of the government, engages in constant pursuit of war policies aimed at Iran, Syria, Lebanon and any other Moslem country opposed to Israel’s erasure of Arab Palestine. The “brilliant” pro-war strategists and advisers in the Obama regime have pursued military and diplomatic policies which have led to political disasters, monstrous human rights violations and the gutting of US constitutional protections guaranteed to its citizens. To continue the pursuit of repeated failed policies, a gargantuan police state has been erected to spy, control and represses US citizens and overseas countries, allies and adversaries.

The “terror threat” fabrication occurs at a time and in response to the deepening international crisis and the political impasse facing the Obama regime – a time of deepening disenchantment among domestic and overseas public opinion and increasing pressure from the Israel Firsters to continue to press forward with the military agenda.

The single most devastating blow to the police state buildup are the documents made public by the NSA contractor, Edward Snowden, which revealed the vast worldwide network of NSA spying in violation of US constitutional freedoms and the sovereignty of countries. The revelations have discredited the Obama regime, provoked conflicts within and between allies, and strengthened the position of adversaries and critics of the US Empire.

Leading regional organizations, like MERCOSUR in Latin America, have attacked ‘cyber-imperialism’; the EU countries have questioned the notion of ‘intelligence cooperation’. Even dozens of US Congress people have called for reform and cutbacks in NSA funding.

The “terror threats” are timed by Obama to neutralize the Snowden revelations and justify the spy agency and its vast operations.

The Bradley Manning “show trial”, in which a soldier is tortured, often with forced nudity, in solitary confinement for almost a year, imprisoned for three years before his trial and publically prejudged by President Obama, numerous legislators and mass media (precluding any semblance of ‘fairness’), for revealing US war crimes against Iraqi and Afghan civilians, evoked mass protests the world over. Obama’s “terror threat” is trotted out to coincide with the pre-determined conviction of Manning in this discredited judicial farce and to buttress the argument that his exposure of gross US war crimes “served the enemy” (rather than the American public who Manning repeatedly has said deserve to know about the atrocities committed in its name). By re-launching the “war on terror” and intimidating the US public, the Obama regime is trying to discredit Bradley Manning’s heroic revelations of documented US war crimes in Iraq and Afghanistan by focusing on nebulous Al Qaeda terror threats over the internet!

In the international political arena, Obama has suffered a series of repeated political and diplomatic defeats with far-reaching implications for his fanatical empire building project.  The Obama-backed and Al Qaeda-led Islamist mercenary invasion of the sovereign nation of Syria has suffered a series of military defeats and his proxy jihadist ‘freedom-fighters’ have been denounced by most prestigious human rights groups for their massacres and ethnic cleansing of civilian populations in Syria (especially Christians, Kurds, Alevis and secular Syrians). Obama’s Syrian ‘adventure’ has backfired, and is clearly unleashing a new generation of Islamist terrorists, armed by the Gulf States – especially Saudi Arabia and Qatar, trained by Turkish and NATO Special Forces and now available for global terrorist “assignments” against US client states, Europe and the US itself. In turn the Syrian debacle has had a major impact on Obama’s NATO ally, Turkey, where mass protests are challenging Prime Minister Erdogan’s military support for Islamist mercenaries, based along the Turkish border with Syria. Erdogan’s savage repression of hundreds of thousands of peaceful protestors, the arbitrary arrest of thousands of pro-democracy activists and his own “show trials” of hundreds of journalists, military officials, students, intellectuals and trade unionists, has certainly discredited Obama’s main “democratic Islamist” ally and undermined Washington’s attempt to anchor its dominance via a triangular alliance of Israel, Turkey and the Gulf monarchies.

Further discredit of Obama’s foreign policy of co-opting Islamist “electoral regimes” has occurred in Egypt and is pending in Tunisia. Obama’s post-Mubarak policy in Egypt looked to a “power sharing” arrangement between the democratically elected President Morsi of the Moslem Brotherhood, the Mubarak-era military and neo-liberal politicians, like Mohamed El Baradei. Instead, General Sistani grabbed power via the army, overthrowing and jailing the civilian President Morsi. The Egyptian army under Sistani has massacred peaceful pro-democracy Muslim protestors and purged the parliament, press and   independent voices. Forced to choose between the military dictatorship composed of the henchman of the former Mubarak dictatorship and the mass-based Muslim Brotherhood, US Secretary of State John Kerry backed the military take-over as a “transition to democracy” (steadfastly refusing to use the term ‘coup d’état’). This has opened wide the door to a period of mass repression and resistance in Egypt and severely weakened a key link in the “axis of reaction” in North Africa (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya and Egypt).

Obama’s incapacity to deal with the new peace overtures by the recently elected President Rouhani in Iran was evident in the Administrations capitulation to a Congressional vote (420 – 20) in favor of further and more severe sanctions designed, according to the bill’s AIPAC authors, to “strangle the Iranian oil economy”. Secretary of State Kerry’s offer to “negotiate” with Iran, under a US-imposed blockade and economic sanctions, was seen in Teheran, and by most independent observers, as an empty theatrical gesture, of little consequence. Obama’s failure to check the Israeli-Zionist stranglehold on US foreign policy toward Iran and to strike a deal ensuring a nuclear-weapon-free Iran, ensures that the region will continue to be a political and military powder keg. Obama’s appointments of prominent Zionist zealots to strategic Middle East policy positions ensures that the US and the Obama regime have no options for Iran, Palestine, Syria or Lebanon– except to follow the options dictated by Tel Aviv directly to its US agents, the 52 Presidents of the Major American Jewish Organizations, who along with their insider Zionist collaborators, co-author the Middle East policy script for the US Congress and the White House.

The Obama regime’s Israeli-Palestine peace negotiations are seen by most observers as the most distorted and bizarre efforts to date in that cruel farce.  Washington has purchased the leaders of the Palestinian ‘Authority’ with multi-million dollar handouts and gave way to Israel’s accelerated land grabbing in the occupied West Bank and ‘Jews only’ settlement construction, as well as the mass eviction of 40,000 Bedouins within Israel itself.

To ensure the desired result – a total fiasco, Obama appointed one of the most fanatical of pro-Israeli zealots in Washington as its “mediator”, the tri-national Martin Indyk, known in diplomatic circles as “Israel’s lawyer” (and the first US Ambassador to be stripped of security clearance for mishandling documents.)

The breakdown of the negotiations is foretold.  Obama, caught in the web of his own long-term reactionary alliances and loyalties and obsessed with military solutions, has developed a knack for engaging in prolonged losing wars, multiplying enemies and alienating allies.

Conclusion

The result of prolonged unpopular wars of aggression has been the massive built-up of a monstrous domestic police state, pervasive spying around the world and the commission of egregious violations of the US Constitution. This, in turn, has led to crudely concocted “terror plots” to cover-up the repeated foreign policy failures and to slander and persecute courageous whistle blowers and threaten other decent American patriots. The recent declaration of another vast ‘terror plot’, which served to justify the illegal activities of US spy agencies and ‘unify Congress’, produced hysteria lasting less than a week. Subsequently, reports began to trickle in, even in the obedient US mass media, discrediting the basis of the alleged global terror conspiracy. According to one report, the much-ballyhooed ‘Al Qaeda plot’ turned out to be a failed effort to blow-up an oil terminal and oil pipeline in Yemen. According to regional observers: “Pipelines are attacked nearly weekly in Yemen”[6] And so an unsuccessful jihadist attack against a pipeline in a marginal part of the poorest Arab state morphed into President Obama’s breathless announcement of a global terrorist threat! An outrageous joke has been played on the President, his Administration and his Congressional followers. But during this great orchestrated ‘joke’, Obama unleashed a dozen drone assassination attacks against human targets of his own choosing, killing dozens of Yemeni citizens, including many innocent bystanders.

What is even less jocular is that Obama, the Master of Deceit, just moves on. His proposed “reforms” are aimed to retrench NSA activities; he insists on continuing the “bulk collection” (hundreds of millions) of US citizens’ telephone communications (FT 8/12/13 p2). He retains intact the massive police state spy apparatus, keeps his pro-Israel policymakers in strategic positions, reaffirms his policy of confrontation with Iran and escalates tensions with Russia, China and Venezuela. Obama embraces a new wave of military dictatorships, starting, but not ending, with Egypt.

In the face of diminishing support at home and abroad and the declining credibility of  his crude “terror” threats, one wonders if the ever-active clandestine apparatus would actually stage its own real-life bloody act of terror, a secret state supported ‘false-flag’ bombing, to convince an increasingly disenchanted and skeptical public? Such would be a desperate act for the State, but these are desperate times facing a failed Administration, pursuing losing wars in which the Masters of Defeat can now only rely on the Masters of Deceit.

The Obama regime is infested with the “toxic politics of terrorism” and this addiction has driven him to persecute, torture and imprison truth seekers, whistle blowers and true patriots who strive (and will continue to strive) to awaken the sleeping giant, in hopes that the people of America will arise again.

Reposted with permission from the author, James Petras.

NOTES:

[1] BBC News 8/16/13; Al Jazeera 9/16/13

[2] La Jornada (Mexico City) 8/16/13, p. 22;FINANCIAL TIMES 8/10-11/13”T he exact threat to US missions has yet to be made public..”

[3] Financial Times 8/8/13, p. 2  and Financial Times 8/10-11 2013 p 2; McClatchy Washington Bureau 8/5/13

[4] Information Clearing House Web Page

[5] Financial Times 8/8/13, p. 2.

[6] Financial Times, 8/8/13, p. 2.

Jan 262012
 

 

* IS SCHNEIDERMAN SELLING OUT? JOINS FEDERAL COMMITTEE THAT LOOKS DESIGNED TO UNDERMINE AGs AGAINST MORTGAGE SETTLEMENT DEAL

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

[…] A lot of soi-disant liberal groups have fallen in line with Obama messaging, which was the plan (I already have the predictable congratulatory Move On e-mail in my inbox). Let’s get real. The wee problem is that this committee looks like yet another bit of theater for the Administration to pretend, yet again, that it is Doing Something, while scoring a twofer by getting Schneiderman, who has been a pretty effective opponent, hobbled.

If you wanted a real investigation, you get a real independent investigator, with a real budget and staffing, and turn him loose. We had the FCIC which had a lot of hearings and produced a readable book that said everyone was responsible for the mortgage crisis, which was tantamount to saying no one was responsible. We even had an eleven-regulator Foreclosure Task Force that looked at 2800 loan files (and a mere 100 foreclosures) and found nothing very much wrong.

Now we have a committee full of people who have made numerous statements in the media and to Congressional committee minimizing the severity of the mortgage mess. Are were to believe they all had a conversion experience on the eve of the State of the Union address? But apparently the members of what passes for the left are prepared to take “investigation” at face value since it would be unpleasant to consider the possibility that they are being snookered again.

And it seems awfully plausible that the aim of getting Schneiderman on board with an Administration “investigation” is to undermine the effort by 15 Democrat attorneys general to devise their own strategy for dealing with mortgage abuses. We’ve heard reports privately that some of the defecting AGs are in a panic. […]

READ @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/01/is-schneiderman-selling-out-signs-up-to-co-chair-committee-designed-to-undermine-defectors-to-mortgage-settlement-deal.html

MORE HERE: 

• The Schneiderman Gambit: Financial Fraud Unit Appears Designed to Fail, and Grease Skids for Foreclosure Fraud Settlement (Firedoglake)

• Obama To Announce Mortgage Crisis Unit Chaired By New York Attorney General Schneiderman (HuffPo)

• California calls $25-billion mortgage settlement ‘inadequate’ (L.A. Times)

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* MORE CAUTION AND SKEPTICISM ABOUT FEDERAL MORTGAGE “INVESTIGATION”

By Yves Smith, NakedCapitalism

While a large number of “liberal” groups, ranging from the official Democratic party outlets (the Center for American Progress) to ones that sometimes cross swords with the Administration (MoveOn, the Working Families Party) praised the Tuesday evening announcement of mortgage “investigations” with Schneiderman co-chairing the effort, others who have been watching the mortgage legal fight closely were far more ambivalent about the creation of a new unit in an initiative …which has done pretty much nothing since its creation in 2009 (boldface mine):

Attorney General Eric Holder, Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner, Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, and Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Chairwoman Mary Schapiro today announced that President Barack Obama has established by Executive Order an interagency Financial Fraud Enforcement Task Force to strengthen efforts to combat financial crime. The Department of Justice will lead the task force and the Department of Treasury, HUD and the SEC will serve on the steering committee. The task force’s leadership, along with representatives from a broad range of federal agencies, regulatory authorities and inspectors general, will work with state and local partners to investigate and prosecute significant financial crimes, ensure just and effective punishment for those who perpetrate financial crimes, address discrimination in the lending and financial markets and recover proceeds for victims.

The task force, which replaces the Corporate Fraud Task Force established in 2002, will build upon efforts already underway to combat mortgage, securities and corporate fraud by increasing coordination and fully utilizing the resources and expertise of the government’s law enforcement and regulatory apparatus. The attorney general will convene the first meeting of the Task Force in the next 30 days. […]

READ and VIDEO @ http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2012/01/more-caution-and-skepticism-about-federal-mortgage-investigation.html

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* CONGRESS DOESN’T WANT TO GIVE UP ITS INSIDER TRADING PRIVILEGES

By John Hudson, The Atlantic Wire

President Obama’s plea to ban Congressional insider trading may poll well and have bipartisan support, but it’s already facing stiff resistance from lawmakers the morning after his State of the Union address.

On Tuesday night, the president spoke in no uncertain terms: “Send me a bill that bans insider trading by Members of Congress, and I will sign it tomorrow,” he said. “Let’s limit any elected official from owning stock in industries they impact.” The remarks were cause for celebration for Breitbart editor Peter Schweizer, who authored a 2011 book exposing Congressional insider trading, and 60 Minutes, which ran a widely-viewed segment based on his book (CBS quickly uploaded the portion of the speech last night). But early reactions from Congress (Republicans and Democrats) shouldn’t encourage much optimism.

“Easier said than done is my reaction,” Democratic Rep. Jim Moran tells Politico‘s Manu Raju on the subject of restricting officials from owning stock they could impact. “Unless you are fairly precise about it, you can conceivably influence almost any corporation.” […]

READ @ http://www.theatlanticwire.com/politics/2012/01/congress-doesnt-want-give-its-insider-trading-privileges/47836/

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* OBAMA’S FAILED STATE OF THE UNION

Obama and those around him should be in prison, not the White House

By Stephen Lendman, SteveLendmanBlog

It was typical Obama, taking credit for what should be condemned. He’s a fraud, a crime boss, a war criminal multiple times over, a moral coward, and serial liar.

His State of the Union address was beginning-to-end doublespeak, duplicity, coverup, and denial of failed policies complicit with Wall Street crooks, war profiteers, and other corporate favorites while popular needs go begging.

Not according to fawning New York Times writers, however. Suppressing truth and full disclosure, Helene Cooper headlined, Obama Speech Makes Pitch for Economic Fairness,” saying:

Obama “pledged on Tuesday night to use government power to balance the scale between America’s rich and the rest of the public….toward an economy ‘built to last’ and what he called irresponsible policies of the past that caused economic collapse.”

Fact check

Throughout his tenure, Obama transferred trillions of dollars to Wall Street, other corporate favorites, and America’s rich already with too much. In the process, he deepened a Main Street Depression. As a result, half of US households are impoverished or bordering on it. Hunger and homelessness grow. Nothing’s done to help. Unaddressed human need is incalculable.

Over 25 million remain unemployed. Job creation is nil except for low wage/no benefit temp or part-time ones. Inequality in America is unprecedented. Obama supports austerity when massive stimulus is needed. Rich elites never had it so good at the expense of ordinary people left out.

Obama’s Failed State isn’t fit to live in for growing millions. […]

READ @ http://sjlendman.blogspot.com/

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* SENATOR SANDERS REACTS TO PRES. OBAMA’S STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS

Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=82NMkSxm6L4

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* WHITE HOUSE PRESSURED SCIENTISTS TO UNDERESTIMATE BP SPILL SIZE

By Kate Sheppard, MotherJones

Back at the height of the massive Gulf oil spill in 2010, there was quite a bit of controversy about just how much crude was blasting out of the well. According to new documents that a watchdog group released on Monday, there was heated debate among the scientists who evaluated the flow rate as well.

For the first few weeks after the spill began in April 2010, BP misled the public about how big it was, and the government repeated BP’s estimate without question. And when the government released its own estimate in late May of up to 25,000 barrels per day, that too was controversial—and proved to be far lower than the actual size, which was more like 53,000 barrels of oil per day.

Now, an email released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER) traces efforts to downplay the spill size in the initial weeks back to the White House. The group released a May 29, 2010 email from Dr. Marcia McNutt, the director of the US Geologic Survey and head of the government’s Flow Rate Technical Group (FRTG), that was released in response to a Freedom of Information Act request. The email came after scientists on the flow-rate team complained to McNutt about how the spill figures were conveyed to the press, and in response she cited pressure from the White House as the reason the numbers were low-balled. […]

READ @ http://motherjones.com/blue-marble/2012/01/report-white-house-pressured-scientists-underestimate-bp-spill-size

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* APPLE DRIVING WORKERS TO THREATEN MASS SUICIDE? THE PATHOLOGIES OF THE MODERN CORPORATION

By Robert Cruickshank, AlterNet

[…] In the last year or two, it’s become increasingly clear that the way Apple makes its products is deeply flawed. Working conditions at the factory which makes most of their products – Foxconn in Shenzhen, China – are so appalling that workers engaged in a rash of suicides in 2010 to ameliorate their own suffering. Earlier this year workers threatened mass suicide over pay and working conditions. And of course, there’s the fact that Apple makes these products overseas rather than in the United States, where unemployment remains at some of the highest levels we’ve seen since the Great Depression.

Here in the 21st century, it should be clear to us that better technology is not sufficient to build the kind of better lives and society that we want. If it were, we wouldn’t be in a position of mass unemployment, widespread suffering, and a democracy in decay. Social institutions, including workplaces and corporations, have to be full partners in building a democratic, empowered, and equal society.

Most corporations, however, don’t see themselves that way – including Apple. Today’s New York Times took a look at Apple, America And A Squeezed Middle Class, curious to see why Apple no longer manufactures its products in the US and what the impact is on our prosperity. They found that Apple builds in China in large part because they have a narrow focus on their products and their profits, and disdain wider concerns for the good of society. When an unnamed Apple executive was asked about their role in addressing America’s economic problems, their response was revealing:

They say Apple’s success has benefited the economy by empowering entrepreneurs and creating jobs at companies like cellular providers and businesses shipping Apple products. And, ultimately, they say curing unemployment is not their job.

“We sell iPhones in over a hundred countries,” a current Apple executive said. “We don’t have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Our only obligation is making the best product possible.”

That quote is perhaps the best encapsulation of the pathologies of the modern American corporation. In fact, Apple does have an obligation to solve America’s problems. Everyone who lives in this country has that obligation. And corporations have that obligation too. If they don’t want to help make things better, then they shouldn’t exist. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/module/printversion/153873

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* MONSANTO HIRED MERCENARY BLACKWATER TO INFILTRATE ANTI-GMO GROUPS

By Stephanie Dearing, Digital Journal

Documents reveal that Blackwater has been busy expanding its corporate reach by providing intelligence services for agencies such as the Canadian Military, Netherlands Police and corporations like Monsanto.

Blackwater is a private, mercenary army. They’ve been called the ‘shadow army,’ and most notoriously worked for the United States in Iraq, where the company courted controversy. Journalist Jeremy Scahill, who wrote a book about Blackwater, wrote an exclusive for The Nation, revealing general details of the extent of the Blackwater business operations. Scahill managed to obtain documents that, according to Scahill, show:

“… entities closely linked to the private security firm Blackwater have provided intelligence, training and security services to US and foreign governments as well as several multinational corporations, including Monsanto, Chevron, the Walt Disney Company, Royal Caribbean Cruise Lines and banking giants Deutsche Bank and Barclays, according to documents obtained by The Nation. Blackwater’s work for corporations and government agencies was contracted using two companies owned by Blackwater’s owner and founder, Erik Prince: Total Intelligence Solutions and the Terrorism Research Center (TRC). Prince is listed as the chairman of both companies in internal company documents, which show how the web of companies functions as a highly coordinated operation.”

[…]

The news that Monsanto hired a Blackwater company for intelligence reports is rocketing around the world via anti-GMO activists. Blogger Rady Ananda summed up the relationship between Monsanto and Blackwater as:

“… A death-tech firm weds a hit squad.”

[…]

READ @ http://www.digitaljournal.com/article/297701#ixzz1jNunca98

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* HUMAN CARCINOGEN FOUND IN DRINKING WATER NEAR GAS DRILLING OPS

Source: EcoWatch

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) detection of arsenic, a known human carcinogen, barium and other contaminants in the well water of homes near natural gas drilling operations in Dimock Township, Pa., should prompt a nationwide investigation of drilling-linked water pollution.

“EPA and other officials must move quickly to ensure these families have an adequate source of clean water,” said Dusty Horwitt, senior counsel with Environmental Working Group (EWG). “This finding confirms what Dimock residents have said for months—that the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection should have never allowed Cabot to end deliveries of clean water.”

Last month, EWG published a report called Gas Drilling Doublespeak that found that Dimock residents, among other people in gas-rich areas, were not warned of risks to their water supplies when they were approached to lease their land for drilling. […]

READ @ http://ecowatch.org/2012/human-carcinogen-found-in-drinking-water-near-gas-drilling-ops/

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* INDEPENDENT FACT-FINDING LIBYAN MISSION

By Stephen Lendman, OpEdNews

Joint report exposed NATO crimes but still fell far short.

A joint report was released by the Arab Organization for Human Rights (AOHR), Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR), and International Legal Assistance Consortium (ILAC).

Their mission investigated alleged widespread international law violations since mid-February 2011. Its mandate included investigating those committed by:

  • the former government;
  • NATO; and
  • insurgents.

It also sought to identify human rights issues, requiring Lybian and international attention.

Investigators included “leading international jurists and lawyers with expertise in international human rights law, international humanitarian law, international criminal law, transitional justice, and the development of legal systems in post-conflict environments.”

Information obtained from witnesses, victims, and other parties were kept confidential unless already revealed and available.

Investigations weren’t meant to be comprehensive. Rather, the mission tried “to convey the considered observations of its members, in order to facilitate, and prompt, the work of other bodies and authorities.”

[…]

From November 15 – 22, investigations and interviews were conducted in Western Libya alone, in and around Tripoli, Zawiya, Sibrata, Khoms, Zliten, Misrata, Tawergha, and Sirte. Significantly, Benghazi was omitted, an area plagued by insurgent crimes.

Findings revealed “significant” international law violations. However, imposed constraints prevented investigators from reaching “definitive legal conclusions regarding individual incidents.” Nonetheless, they believe crimes of war and against humanity were committed.

Evidence suggests NATO classified civilian sites as military ones for attacks, including homes, schools, colleges, food distribution centers, hospitals, mosques, and others. In addition, civilians were targeted, notably in Sirte.

In fact, one incident there killed 47 or more non-combatants. This and other incidents raise “significant questions,” requiring further inquiry and disclosure.

Insurgents also violated international law, including civilian killings; torture and other abuses; wrongful detentions; mistreatment of foreign workers, and forced “displacement of suspected enemies of the Revolution.” […]

READhttp://www.opednews.com/articles/Independent-Fact-Finding-L-by-Stephen-Lendman-120126-184.html

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* THE HUMAN RIGHTS “SUCCESS” IN LIBYA

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

It quickly became ossified conventional wisdom that NATO’s war in Libya to aid rebel factions in overthrowing Moammar Gaddafi was a clear human rights victory. But the reality in post-Gaddafi Libya has long been in tension with that claim, and that’s true today more so than ever:

Doctors Without Borders is halting work in detention centers in the Libyan city of Misrata because detainees are “tortured and denied urgent medical care,” the international aid agency said Thursday.

The agency known by its French acronym MSF said it has treated 115 people with torture-related wounds from interrogation sessions.

Some of the patients treated were tortured again after they were returned to detention centers, according to the agency.

“Some officials have sought to exploit and obstruct MSF’s medical work,” said Christopher Stokes, the agency general director.

“Patients were brought to us for medical care between interrogation sessions, so that they would be fit for further interrogation. This is unacceptable. Our role is to provide medical care to war casualties and sick detainees, not to repeatedly treat the same patients between torture sessions”. . . .

Navi Pillay, the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights, voiced similar concerns about torture in Libya. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/01/26/the_human_rights_success_in_libya/singleton

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* PUPS ON PARADE: EU OBEDIENTLY PUSHES TOWARD WAR WITH IRAN

By Chris Floyd, Information Clearing House

This week, the warlords of the West took yet another step toward their long-desired war against Iran. (Open war, that is; their covert war has been going on for decades — via subversion, terrorism, and proxies like Saddam Hussein.) On Monday, the European Union obediently followed the dictates of its Washington masters by agreeing to impose an embargo on Iranian oil.

The embargo bans all new oil contracts with Iran, and cuts off all existing deals after July. The embargo is accompanied by a freeze on all European assets of the Iranian central bank. In imposing these draconian measures on a country which is not at war with any nation, which has not invaded or attacked another nation in centuries, and which is developing a nuclear energy program that is not only entirely legal under international law but is also subject to the most stringent international inspection regime ever seen, the EU is “targeting the economic lifeline of the regime,” as one of its diplomats put it, with admirable candor.

The embargo will have serious, perhaps disastrous effects on many of Europe’s sinking economies, which are heavy users of Iranian oil. This is particularly true in Greece, the poster boy for our modern “Shock Doctrine über alles” global economic system. For even as Greece writhes beneath the blows of European bankers determined to bleed the country dry to avoid the consequences of their own knowingly corrupt loan policies, the Iranians have been giving the Greeks substantial discounts on oil, which has helped ease — at least in some measure — the economic ruin being imposed on the “birthplace of democracy.” […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30353.htm

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* FALSE FLAG USS ENTERPRISE – VIDEO

Source: youtube.com

VIDEO @ http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=5Uf-6HrH_fE#!

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* DEADLY BLASTS HIT SHIITE NEIGHBORHOODS IN BAGHDAD

By Yasir Ghazi and Duraid Adnan, NYTimes

BAGHDAD — A series of explosions in Shiite neighborhoods here killed nine people and wounded dozens more on Tuesday, the latest in a wave of sectarian attacks.

No group claimed responsibility, but the bombings bore the hallmarks of others by the insurgent group Al Qaeda in Iraq, which says it has shifted its attention to Shiites and sources of Iranian influence since the withdrawal of the American military.

The group says Iran has destroyed Iraq over the past several years by “killing the best families, the elite, the educated.” […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/25/world/middleeast/deadly-explosions-rattle-baghdad.html?hp

Jan 172012
 

 

* 13 QUOTES FROM SOCIAL JUSTICE CRUSADER MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. 

By Stephen D. Foster, Addicting Information

Martin Luther King was a social justice crusader whose life was cut short. Had he lived, our country would have been a much better place to live for everyone. King didn’t just fight for social justice for African-Americans. He fought on behalf of all Americans who were struggling to get by in an economy that favors the wealthy and powerful. He also fought for civil rights, which led to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. Two landmark pieces of legislation that stand as a monument to his legacy. However, it is his words that stand brighter and are longer lasting than any sculpture or legislation. Here are 13 of my favorite Martin Luther King quotes.

1. “I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

2. “Philanthropy is commendable, but it must not cause the philanthropist to overlook the circumstances of economic injustice which make philanthropy necessary.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

3. “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter.”
~Martin Luther King, Jr.

[…]

READ @ http://www.addictinginfo.org/2012/01/16/13-quotes-from-social-justice-crusader-martin-luther-king/

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* DEFENDING HUMAN RIGHTS: THE HAVEL EXAMPLE

By Aurel Braun and David Matas, OpEdNews

Those who defend human rights victims in repressive states run the risk of becoming victims themselves.   One reason we should stand up in Canada for human rights abroad is that we are safe in doing this.   Human rights defenders in repressive states are not.

In spite of those risks, there are people of extraordinary courage and unrelenting commitment even in the most repressive states who at great personal risk to themselves and their families, respect human rights, call for others to do so and decry violations.   These human rights defenders give us yet another reason to raise our voices.   If they can risk so much, we who have nothing to lose should do our part.

Nelson Mandela in the days of apartheid South Africa, Aung San Suu Kyi in Burma and Gao Zhisheng in China are shining examples to all of us.   So was Vaclav Havel.

Havel, who passed away on December 18 th , was one of the world’s most inspiring and effective dissidents. He never gave up, even in the bleakest and most dangerous moments; through his courage and insight, he came to symbolize the nobility of the struggle for human rights. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=144181

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* AYN RAND OR MLK: PICK ONE

By David Atkins, Hullabaloo

MLK:

“Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: ‘What are you doing for others?'”

Ayn Rand:

If any civilization is to survive, it is the morality of altruism that men have to reject.

[…]

READ @ http://www.digbysblog.blogspot.com/2012/01/ayn-rand-or-mlk-pick-one-by.html

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* WHO ARE THE VICTIMS OF CIVIL LIBERTIES ASSAULTS AND ENDLESS WAR?

By Glenn Greenwald, Salon

In The Washington Post yesterday, Law Professor Jonathan Turley has an Op-Ed in which he identifies ten major, ongoing assaults on core civil liberties in the U.S. Many of these abuses were accelerated during the Bush administration in the wake of 9/11, but all have been vigorously continued and/or expanded by President Obama.  Turley points out that these powers have long been deemed (by the U.S.) as the hallmark of tyranny, and argues that their seizure by the U.S. Government has seriously called into question America’s status as a free nation: “They form a mosaic of powers under which our country could be considered, at least in part, authoritarian.” All ten of these powers are ones very familiar to readers here: Assassination of U.S. citizens; Indefinite detention; Arbitrary justice; Warrantless searches; Secret evidence; War crimes; Secret court; Immunity from judicial review; Continual monitoring of citizens; and Extraordinary renditions.

I’ve written volumes on all of those powers over the last several years, but — especially today — I want to focus on one narrow but vital question: who are generally the victims of these civil liberties assaults? The answer is the same as the one for this related question: who are the prime victims of America’s posture of Endless War? Overwhelmingly, the victims are racial, ethnic and religious minorities: specifically, Muslims (both American Muslims and foreign nationals). And that is a major factor in why these abuses flourish: because those who dominate American political debates perceive, more or less accurately, that they are not directly endangered (at least for now) by this assault on core freedoms and Endless War (all civil liberties abuses in fact endanger all citizens, as they inevitably spread beyond their original targets, but they generally become institutionalized precisely because those outside the originally targeted minority groups react with indifference).

To see how central a role this sort of selfish provincialism plays in shaping political priorities, just compare (a) the general indifference to Endless War and the massive civil liberties assaults described by Turley (ones largely confined to Muslims)  to (b) the intense outrage and media orgy generated when a much milder form of invasiveness — TSA searches — affected Americans of all backgrounds. The success of Endless War and civil liberties attacks depends on ensuring that the prime victims, at least in the first instance, are marginalized and easily demonizable minorities. […]

READ @ http://www.salon.com/2012/01/16/who_are_the_victims_of_civil_liberties_assaults_and_endless_war/singleton/

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* U.S. RANKS 27th IN SOCIAL JUSTICE

By Jim Hightower, Truthout

Being at the bottom of the heap in terms of social justice confirms the reality of both economic and political inequality that the Occupy movement is protesting.

“USA: We’re No. 1!”

Oh, wait — Iceland is No. 1. But we did beat out Poland and Slovakia, right? Uh…no. But go on down the rankings and there we are! No. 27, fifth from the bottom. So our new national chant is, “USA: At Least We’re Not Last!”

A foundation in Germany has analyzed the social justice records of all 31 members of the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), ranking each nation in such categories as health care, income inequality, pre-school education, and child poverty. The overall performance by the United States — which boasts of being an egalitarian society — outranks only Greece, Chile, Mexico, and Turkey. Actually, three of those countries performed better than ours in the education of pre-schoolers, and Greece did better than the United States on the prevention of poverty. […]

READ @ http://www.truth-out.org/us-ranks-27th-social-justice/1326737822#.TxVmw2QVWId.facebook

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* FLEXING MUSCLE, BAGHDAD DETAINS U.S. CONTRACTORS

By Michael S. Schmidt and Eric Schmitt, NYTimes

BAGHDAD — Iraqi authorities have detained a few hundred foreign contractors in recent weeks, industry officials say, including many Americans who work for the United States Embassy, in one of the first major signs of the Iraqi government’s asserting its sovereignty after the American troop withdrawal last month.

The detentions have occurred largely at the airport in Baghdad and at checkpoints around the capital after the Iraqi authorities raised questions about the contractors’ documents, including visas, weapons permits and authorizations to drive certain routes. Although no formal charges have been filed, the detentions have lasted from a few hours to nearly three weeks.

The crackdown comes amid other moves by the Iraqi government to take over functions that had been performed by the United States military and to claim areas of the country it had controlled. In the final weeks of the military withdrawal, the son of Iraq’s prime minister began evicting Western companies and contractors from the heavily fortified Green Zone, which had been the heart of the United States military operation for much of the war. […]

READ @ http://www.nytimes.com/2012/01/16/world/middleeast/asserting-its-sovereignty-iraq-detains-american-contractors.html

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* INSIDE MOSSAD’S WAR ON TEHRAN

By Marie Colvin and Uzi Mahnaimi, Sunday Times

EARLY in Tehran’s grey wintry morning last Wednesday, Mustafa Ahmadi Roshan, a young scientist in Iran’s controversial nuclear program, got dressed at his home in the northern suburbs. The events of this last hour of his life could have come out of a spy film.
Small groups of Israeli agents were watching key points in the Iranian capital. Their target was Roshan. They would be dead themselves if they were caught.

For Israel it was a classic assassination mission. “What is seen in espionage films as a simple operation is a result of hard work, many months of intelligence gathering and a well trained team,” said a source who released details, impossible to verify, to The Sunday Times.

“There is zero tolerance for mistakes. By nature, every failure not only risks the neck of the agents but also risks turning into an international scandal.”

Since its foundation in 1948, Israel has used assassination as a national weapon, striking targets abroad ranging from Palestinians who killed Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympic Games in Munich, to enemies on the streets of Amman and a Hamas leader in a Dubai hotel room in 2010. […]

READ @ http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article30254.htm

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* U.S., NOT IRAN, IS TO BLAME

As America escalates tension with Iran, the world should stand by Tehran and the UN must cease to behave like the handmaiden of the West.

By Sandhya Jain, The Pioneer

The Government of India has moved with commendable alacrity to clarify that it has not asked oil firms to reduce crude imports from Tehran. Iran remains this country’s second largest crude oil supplier despite India twice voting that the International Atomic Energy Commission refer Iran’s nuclear issue to the US Security Council in February 2006 and November 2009. Both times India could have abstained; the mindless quest for a strategic partnership with America nearly compromised our national interest.

The need for caution has doubled. As Washington, DC escalates tension with Tehran, US Defence Secretary Leon Panetta admitted on CBS’s Face the Nation programme on January 8 that despite the rhetoric, America is aware that Iran is not developing nuclear weapons but is only pursuing “a nuclear capability”.

Yet the Obama Administration last December enacted a law under which the US can impose sanctions on any financial institution dealing with Iran’s central bank, its main clearing house for oil payments. This could jeopardise India’s oil payment system which is currently routed through Turkey’s Halkbank; a delegation to Tehran is expected to take up the matter.

The Washington-Tehran face-off is causing unease in world capitals as the Iranian resistance is likely to be superior to what America and its allies faced in Iraq, Libya, and Afghanistan. In all these theatres, the Western allies bludgeoned the states with brute military force, but had no strategy to hold the ground thereafter. Hence America ran from Iraq and is trying to quit Afghanistan; the Libya story has yet to unfold. […]

READ @ http://mail.dailypioneer.com/columnists/item/50881-us-not-iran-is-to-blame.html

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* WAR PLAN IRAN: DISPELLING THE LIES, TELLING THE TRUTH ABOUT WESTERN AGGRESSION IN THE PERSIAN GULF

By Finian Cunningham and Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research

The year 2012 may become known as a watershed for humanity – the year when mankind was precipitated into a global conflagration involving nuclear weapons. The signs are indeed grimly ominous as formidable military forces converge on the Persian Gulf in the long-running stand-off between the United States and Iran.

On side with the US are its European allies in NATO, primarily Britain, Washington’s Middle East client states: Israel and the Arab monarchies of the Persian Gulf – all bristling with weapons of mass destruction. Recent naval exercises by Iran in the Strait of Hormuz have also displayed a fierce arsenal of missiles and military capability, and Iran has strategic alliances with Russia and China, both of whom will not stand idly by if their Persian partner is attacked.

As we have consistently analysed on Global Research, the conflict between the US-led powers and Iran has wider ramifications. It is part and parcel of Washington’s bid to engineer the social and political upheavals across the Arab World in order to redraw the region in its strategic interests. It is no coincidence that fresh from NATO’s conquest of and regime change in Libya, the focus has quickly shifted to Syria – a key regional ally of Iran. As Michel Chossudovsky has pointed out “the road to Tehran goes through to Damascus”. Regime change in Syria would serve to isolate Iran. Subjugating Iran and returning it to Western tutelage is the prize that Washington and its allies have been seeking for the past 33 years ever since their client the Shah, Mohammad Rezā Pahlavi, was deposed by the Islamic Revolution in 1979.

Iran is an energy-rich colossus, with oil and, more importantly, natural gas reserves that put it, with approximately 10% of global reserves, in the world’s top three oil economies alongside Washington’s client states of Saudi Arabia and Iraq.  In sharp contrast, the US has less than  2% of global oil reserves.

The conquest of Iran’s oil riches is the driving force behind America’s military agenda. […]

READ @ http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=28675

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* U.S. CORPORATIONS: CLOSELY ALLIED WITH CHINA, SELLING OUT AMERICA

By Michael Payne, OpEdNews

U.S. Corporations, supposedly the bedrock of America’s system of capitalism, have decided that their best bet for the future is to closely ally themselves with China, its manufacturing industry and cheap labor to maximize their profits. In doing so, they have sold out America, its manufacturing sector and its workers. These economic predators have sold themselves to the highest bidder and have now proven, without any doubt, that they have no loyalty to the nation they call their home.

Their policies and actions have been a major contributing cause of this country’s ongoing economic problems over this past decade. Since the beginning of this new century more than 42,000 U.S. plants have been closed and 15 million American workers have lost their jobs. This has greatly reduced the purchasing power of consumers and has dealt a huge blow to this nation’s faltering economy.

What a terrific partnership this has been for these corporations and China; it’s like a marriage made in heaven. Those very clever Chinese, with the help of their U.S. corporate facilitators, have been given the ability to directly tap into the massive American consumer economy. These two partners have been able to pull off an economic coup and now the largest portions of the U.S. retail sector, as well as the American people, are hooked on imported Chinese products.

Yes, this is a perfect partnership. China provides the cheap slave labor to manufacture the products that are then exported to the world’s largest market, one that Corporate America controls. What a great arrangement! U.S. corporations’ profits soar, CEO incomes and bonuses skyrocket, Chinese corporations, their workers and the Chinese economy all benefit greatly. Of course, when we speak of this transfer of economic wealth, while China is the primary beneficiary, Japan, India, Taiwan, South Korea, and others are also major recipients. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/articles/U-S-Corporations-Closely-by-michael-payne-120116-375.html

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* SO IS SOPA DEAD? NOT EXACTLY 

By Paul Tassi, Forbes

[…] So is it dead? Did we win? No, and here’s why:

– In that same statement, the White House also said “While we believe that online piracy by foreign websites is a serious problem that requires a serious legislative response…” followed later by ““That is why the Administration calls on all sides to work together to pass sound legislation this year that provides prosecutors and rights holders new legal tools to combat online piracy originating beyond U.S. borders.” They still want to pass anti-piracy legislation this year.

– SOPA is not dead, it’s been “shelved” and won’t return “until a consensus is reached.”

– Protect IP (PIPA), the Senate version of the House bill, is still very much alive, and has not even been shelved, much less killed. It is equally as bad of an idea as SOPA, even if most protests are being directed at SOPA recently.

So what does this mean? Though the battle is won, the war is not. SOPA could easily make a resurgence if it sculpts itself to whatever the White House’s unspecified specifications are, and PIPA could also pass, as even with recent changes to it (courts can’t force ISPs to block websites), it’s still harmful. […]

READ @ http://www.forbes.com/sites/insertcoin/2012/01/16/so-is-sopa-dead-not-exactly/

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* INTERNET ACCESS FOR ALL: 3 WAYS THE FCC IS TRYING TO CLOSE THE DIGITAL DIVIDE

Here are a few of the FCC’s efforts to deal with the digital divide—the good and the bad of each.

By Jamilah King, AlterNet

The Federal Communications Commission doesn’t always communicate very well. This much became obvious earlier this week when Chair Julius Genachowski announced important changes to the country’s Lifeline program, a service that’s historically offered low-cost phone service to poor and working class households.

The underlying principle of the Lifeline program is that phone service is a necessity, and that the government should ensure that everyone has access to it. Genachowski said on Monday that the same principle should apply to broadband Internet, since about 40 percent of the country remains without it, mostly because it’s too expensive. That doesn’t change the fact that important parts of broadband Internet are still not classified as essential communication services—which makes it hard for the FCC to fully regulate it. Still, the FCC is launching a new pilot programs to offer low-cost service, help teach people about the Internet and connect them to it. That’s big.

Funny thing is, though, this new pilot program isn’t the first time the FCC has tried to offer low-cost alternatives to help bridge the digital divide. A handful of programs already exist and have had varying amounts of success. And it’s very likely that you’ve never heard of them. […]

READ @ http://www.alternet.org/story/153785/internet_access_for_all%3A_3_ways_the_fcc_is_trying_to_close_the_digital_divide/

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* WISCONSIN DEMOCRATS SUBMITTING RECALL-WALKER PETITIONS TODAY

By Eric Kleefeld, TPM

It’s the big day in Wisconsin: After two months of collecting petitions, state Democrats will officially turn in a vast number of signatures collected in order to trigger a recall election against Gov. Scott Walker.

In December, the Democrats announced that they had collected over 507,000 signatures in 30 days, getting very close to the legal threshold of just over 540,000 signatures in 60 days. (The party also told TPM at the time that this 507,000 figure takes into account also own efforts to weed out bad signatures.) They also said that they were working towards an even greater goal of 720,000 total, in order to have an absolute buffer against disqualifications.

State Democratic party spokesman Graeme Zielinski told TPM on Monday: “We’re confident that we will hit that mark.” […]

READ @ http://tpmdc.talkingpointsmemo.com/2012/01/wisconsin-democrats-turning-in-recall-walker-petitions.php?ref=fpnewsfeed

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* MORE OPPOSITION TO EMANUEL PROTEST ORDINANCE

Source: Progress Illinois

It’s not just Occupy protesters against Rahm Emanuel’s proposed ordinance that imposes harsher fines and rules for protests and demonstrations. This week’s edition of Crain’s Chicago Business editorializes against the ordinance as it, “reinforces the very stereotypes that Chicago is trying to shed.” Crain’s argues that increased fines for resisting arrest are “driven by fear of reliving” the violent 1968 Democratic National Convention.

Crain’s critical focus is actually on a less reported part of Emanuel’s plan: The mayor has the power to hand out no-bid contracts for summit-related matters … like the $16 million no-bid deal already provided to Motorola,allowing the company can provide emergency radios for the May summits.

Emanuel said last week that the city will rely on private companies to provide both security and services – and for private donors to raise up to $60 million to supplement security costs. Henry Bayer, head of AFSCME-Local 31, is upset by this request: Bayer wonders why these same private donors couldn’t also give to other causes, such as money to keep Chicago’s libraries open on Mondays. […]

READ @ http://progressillinois.com/news/content/2012/01/16/business-pub-opposes-emanuel-protest-ordinance

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* OCCUPY CONGRESS TUESDAY JANUARY 17: DETAILS FOR ATTENDEES

By Brett, Redmayne-Titley, OpEdNews

New tents are popping up in the nation’s capital and there is talk of expanding to a new park.

The two Washington, D.C. Occupation camps – at McPherson Park and Freedom Plaza – are calling to action all Occupy camps and persons interested in making their opinions heard by Congress, to gather on Tuesday, January 17, 2012.

This call has gone out nationally and is being answered.

More than a dozen occupiers have just arrived from San Diego, and another 8 or 9 from Chattanooga.

Occupiers representing camps from Los Angeles, Dallas, Winston-Salem N.C., Greenville S.C., Wall Street, and Pittsburgh have already arrived. Other camps have already announced their planned arrivals. Throughout the past week many people passing through the camps have said that they will be at the protest as well. Expectations are high. […]

READ @ http://www.opednews.com/populum/printer_friendly.php?content=a&id=144189

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* OCCUPY MOVEMENT TURNS ATTENTION TO CONGRESS

By Ambreen Ali, Roll Call

For many in the Occupy movement, Wall Street was so last year.

Congress is the new target as Occupy activists try to channel the populist energy of “the 99 percent” into tangible results.

More than 30 Occupy groups and 10,000 Facebook users are backing Tuesday’s Occupy Congress rally outside the Capitol, and they represent a growing faction within the liberal movement that says the path to reining in Wall Street runs through Capitol Hill.

“Congress is the place that we should focus,” said Natalia Abrams, a California-based activist. “I don’t think we’re ever going to get Wall Street to control its greed, but maybe we can get Congress to control their greed for them.” […]

READ @ http://www.rollcall.com/news/occupy_movement_turns_attention_to_congress-211484-1.html?pos=hbtxt