2013 page facts(hopefully) and comment
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Obama and the Usual American 'DAM' Exceptionalism – Delusion, Arrogance and Mendacity

By Finian Cunningham

September 25, 2013 "Information Clearing House -  President Barack Obama addressed the opening of the 68th General Assembly of the United Nations with his usual oratorical formula. Admittedly, the man is a good speaker with flawless technical delivery. But by now this has become a tiresome act of grandiloquence and lofty idealism with no substance. What makes the bottom fall out of the Obama act is the cloying disconnect in his words with harsh reality. It is like listening to a conman whose initially charming words begin to grate on your sense of reason, truth and forbearance as he fumbles in your pockets.

This is the Commander-in-Chief who has vowed to launch unilateral military strikes against Syria without a mandate from the UN Security Council, in contravention of the UN Charter and international law. In other words, he is willing and self-justified to commit the crime of aggression and possibly plunge a volatile region into a conflagration. And yet this reckless politician has the brass neck to stand in front of the world’s nations in New York to lecture on the founding principles of the UN.

Obama made the usual preposterous claims about the beneficence of American leadership in the world, denying that it had any imperialist ambitions. To listen to him, one would think that the US is the world’s largest charitable organization, bringing human rights, democracy and freedom to the oppressed. No wonder Americans can be so confused about the state of the real world when they espouse such arrant nonsense and vain notions of exceptionalism, as Russian President Vladimir Putin discreetly pointed out earlier this month in a column for the New York Times. Unbowed by that reality check, Obama persisted with the conceited American belief in its supposed virtuous exceptionalism as he addressed the UN General Assembly.

What amazes is that his performance received a resounding applause and not one delegate walked out of the assembly. Perhaps this was due to normal human politeness shared by most nations to listen to others even when they don’t agree. American exceptionalism has in the past seen its own delegates storming out of the assembly whenever their ears cannot bear the sound of some other world leader who has a differing, critical point of view.

And there was plenty to find disagreeable about Obama’s speech to the UN this week. With regard to US-led wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, he glibly claimed with a congratulatory tone “those wars are at an end”. It is a deeply troubling measure of arrogance that an American leader can stand in front of the world and talk tritely about wars coming to an end whenever over one million people have been killed in those American aggressions, which were based on flagrant lies and baseless pretexts.

Yet in Obama’s view of the world, we can move swiftly on, and somehow believe that what America is proposing to do in Syria is a completely different prospect, where it has learnt from past mistakes. In Syria, Obama claimed, the US would be using its military might to protect citizens from a tyrant. He denied that US motives were about regime change and vowed that America sought to help the people of Syria choose their own government.

This is what Obama, and American presidents do best, excel in rhetoric over reality. Bereft from his speech was an acknowledgement of the fact that Washington has been harboring plans for regime change in Syria since at least 2001, as disclosed by former US General Wesley Clark. Bereft from Obama’s fine words were details of American weapons and logistics being funneled into Syria for the past two years to drive a campaign of terrorism to destabilize a sovereign government.

Provocatively, the American president reiterated unfounded allegations that the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad was guilty of massacring its citizens and in particular in the use of chemical weapons on 21 August. Obama mendaciously claimed that the recent UN chemical weapons report, led by Ake Sellstrom, proved his allegations. The UN report does nothing of the sort, and a range of evidence elsewhere contends much more convincingly that the perpetrators of the chemical attacks were the Western-backed mercenaries.

Again this attitude of apparent certitude and sanctimony by the US president testifies to the arrogant belief of American exceptionalism. Evidently, American presidents presume to know everything and the rest of the world must accept their viewpoint, even though that viewpoint has on countless occasions been shown to be barefaced deception. Never chastened or shamed, American leaders feel entitled to just keep regurgitating the same self-important rhetoric.

On Iran, Obama, again glibly, acknowledged that the US had engaged in a coup against a democratically elected government (in 1953) and then quickly went on to say that since the founding of the Islamic Republic in 1979 that Iranians have viewed America as an enemy. The rhetorical inference was that Iranians have “an attitude problem” in their view of America, not a humble admission of guilt from criminal interference in the affairs of Iran by the US.

Obama did allude to a possible dialogue to resolve the nuclear issue, especially in the light of Iran’s election of President Hassan Rouhani. But he repeated the tired calumny of the US seeking to prevent Iran developing nuclear weapons, even though all American intelligence agencies have consistently said that Iran does not have or is near obtaining such a weapon, and in spite of the fact that Iranian leaders – most recently Ayatollah Sayyed Ali Khamanei – have decreed such armaments to be immoral and unwanted.

There was not a word or hint from Obama that the decades-old economic sanctions that Washington and its Western allies have imposed on Iran were in any way immoral or illegal and must be rescinded. As usual, Obama assumed that such draconian impediments to a country’s humane development were America’s God-given right to impose. Indeed, as Obama lectured, it was up to Iran to show signs of sincerity and transparency if it wanted avail of a successful dialogue with the US.

On other matters, there was more cant rhetoric about how the US was supporting the creation of “a Palestinian sovereign state” predicated on a “secure Israel”. In other words, as long as the US-backed Israeli regime continues waging war on neighboring states and stealing other people’s land – and thus always feeling insecure as a result of such criminality – then the Palestinians can forget about their rights.

All in all, Obama’s performance at the UN was another triumph of arrogance and delusion in the face of outrageous American lawlessness – a lawlessness that has become chronic and incorrigible, infused with even more exceptionalism. The ultimate exception is that the US leaders obviously view their country as above and beyond the law…

Obama had the cheek to call US predatory relations with other countries as “engagement with the world” and he warned that international relations would deteriorate if the US were to become less engaged.

It may come as something of a shock to such people, but somebody needs to tell Obama and the Washington elite that that is exactly what the world wants and needs for the sake of peace and balanced development – for the US to disengage from imperialist warmongering. And instead to engage much more in its own internal affairs, like rolling back record levels of poverty, unemployment, hunger, homelessness and social decay. Now that would be a welcome American exception.

© Strategic Culture Foundation

"Think for yourselves and let others enjoy the privilege to do so, too" - Voltaire

"The important thing is not to stop questioning." - Albert Einstein

‘Sometimes You Have to Pay a Heavy Price to Live in a Free Society’

By Bradley Manning

August 21, 2013 The following is a transcript of the statement made by Pfc. Bradley Manning as read by David Coombs at a press conference on Wednesday:

The decisions that I made in 2010 were made out of a concern for my country and the world that we live in. Since the tragic events of 9/11, our country has been at war. We’ve been at war with an enemy that chooses not to meet us on any traditional battlefield, and due to this fact we’ve had to alter our methods of combating the risks posed to us and our way of life.

I initially agreed with these methods and chose to volunteer to help defend my country. It was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. It was at this time I realized in our efforts to meet this risk posed to us by the enemy, we have forgotten our humanity. We consciously elected to devalue human life both in Iraq and Afghanistan. When we engaged those that we perceived were the enemy, we sometimes killed innocent civilians. Whenever we killed innocent civilians, instead of accepting responsibility for our conduct, we elected to hide behind the veil of national security and classified information in order to avoid any public accountability.

In our zeal to kill the enemy, we internally debated the definition of torture. We held individuals at Guantanamo for years without due process. We inexplicably turned a blind eye to torture and executions by the Iraqi government. And we stomached countless other acts in the name of our war on terror.

Patriotism is often the cry extolled when morally questionable acts are advocated by those in power. When these cries of patriotism drown our any logically based intentions [unclear], it is usually an American soldier that is ordered to carry out some ill-conceived mission.

Our nation has had similar dark moments for the virtues of democracy—the Trail of Tears, the Dred Scott decision, McCarthyism, the Japanese-American internment camps—to name a few. I am confident that many of our actions since 9/11 will one day be viewed in a similar light.

As the late Howard Zinn once said, “There is not a flag large enough to cover the shame of killing innocent people.”

I understand that my actions violated the law, and I regret if my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intention to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people. When I chose to disclose classified information, I did so out of a love for my country and a sense of duty to others.

If you deny my request for a pardon, I will serve my time knowing that sometimes you have to pay a heavy price to live in a free society. I will gladly pay that price if it means we could have country that is truly conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all women and men are created equal.

Brave New World  News Item 3,180



Comment: Prometheus, of course, was the first human being, who with a little female help, stole fire from the gods for the benefit of all mankind. The gods were outraged and took revenge by sentencing him to eterrnal torment. Something familiar here? As BNWhas been saying for some time, if we allow the hidden state to secretly 'surveille' us, the time will very soon come that they will identify the sources of opposition to them and declare us enemies (as, of course, we are of their illegalities) and act accordingly. Solnit (below) says it clearly:


"They say you [Snowden], like Bradley Manning, gave secrets to their enemies.  It’s clear who those enemies are: you, me, us. It was clear on September 12, 2001, that the Bush administration feared the American people more than al-Qaeda.  Not much has changed on that front since, and this almost infinitely broad information harvest criminalizes all of us. This metadata -- the patterns and connections of communications rather than their content -- is particularly useful, as my friend Chris Carlsson pointed out, at mapping the clusters of communications behind popular movements, uprisings, political organizing: in other words, those moments when civil society rises to shape history, to make a better future in the open world of the streets andsquares.


"The goal of gathering all this metadata, Chris speculates, "is to be able to identify where the ‘hubs’ are, who the people are who sit at key points in networks, helping pass news and messages along, but especially, who the people are who spread ideas and information from one network of people to the next, who help connect small networks into larger ones, and thus facilitate the unpredictable and rapid spread of dissent when it appears.”


We've been warned.







                Prometheus Among the Cannibals 
                A Letter to Edward Snowden 

By Rebecca Solnit

July 19, 2013 "Information Clearing House -  

  Dear Edward Snowden,


Billions of us, from prime ministers to hackers, are watching a live espionage movie in which you are the protagonist and perhaps the sacrifice. Your way forward is clear to no one, least of all, I’m sure, you.


I fear for you; I think of you with a heavy heart. I imagine hiding you like Anne Frank. I imagine Hollywood movie magic in which a young lookalike would swap places with you and let you flee to safety -- if there is any safety in this world of extreme rendition and extrajudicial execution by the government that you and I were born under and that you, until recently, served. I fear you may pay, if not with your death, with your life -- with a life that can have no conventional outcome anytime soon, if ever. “Truth is coming, and it cannot be stopped,” you told us, and they are trying to stop you instead.


I am moved by your choice of our future over yours, the world over yourself.  You know what few do nowadays: that the self is not the same as self-interest. You are someone who is smart enough, idealistic enough, bold enough to know that living with yourself in a system of utter corruption would destroy that self as an ideal, as something worth being.  Doing what you’ve done, on the other hand, would give you a self you could live with, even if it gave you nowhere to live or no life. Which is to say, you have become a hero.


Pity the country that requires a hero, Bertolt Brecht once remarked, but pity the heroes too. They are the other homeless, the people who don’t fit in.  They are the ones who see the hardest work and do it, and pay the price we charge those who do what we can’t or won’t. If the old stories were about heroes who saved us from others, modern heroes -- Nelson Mandela, Cesar Chavez, Rachel Carson, Ella Baker, Martin Luther King, Aung San Suu Kyi -- endeavored to save us from ourselves, from our own governments and systems of power.


The rest of us so often sacrifice that self and those ideals to fit in, to be part of a cannibal system, a system that eats souls and defiles truths and serves only power. Or we negotiate quietly to maintain an uneasy distance from it and then go about our own business. Though in my world quite a few of us strike our small blows against empire, you, young man, you were situated where you could run a dagger through the dragon’s eye, and that dragon is writhing in agony now; in that agony it has lost its magic: an arrangement whereby it remains invisible while making the rest of us ever more naked to its glaring eye.


Private Eyes and Public Rights

Privacy is a kind of power as well as a right, one that public librarians fought to protect against the Bush administration and the PATRIOT Act and that online companies violate in every way that’s profitable and expedient. Our lack of privacy, their monstrous privacy -- even their invasion of our privacy must, by law, remain classified -- is what you made visible. The agony of a monster with nowhere to stand -- you are accused of spying on the spies, of invading the privacy of their invasion of privacy -- is a truly curious thing. And it is changing the world. Europe and South Americaare in an uproar, and attempts to contain you and your damage are putting out fire with gasoline.


You yourself said it so well on July 12th:

“A little over one month ago, I had family, a home in paradise, and I lived in great comfort. I also had the capability without any warrant to search for, seize, and read your communications. Anyone's communications at any time. That is the power to change people's fates. It is also a serious violation of the law. The 4th and 5th Amendments to the Constitution of my country, Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and numerous statutes and treaties forbid such systems of massive, pervasive surveillance. While the U.S. Constitution marks these programs as illegal, my government argues that secret court rulings, which the world is not permitted to see, somehow legitimize an illegal affair. These rulings simply corrupt the most basic notion of justice -- that it must be seen to be done.”


They say you, like Bradley Manning, gave secrets to their en emies.  It’s clear who those enemies are: you, me, us. It was clear on September 12, 2001, that the Bush administration feared the American people more than al-Qaeda.  Not much has changed on that front since, and this almost infinitely broad information harvest criminalizes all of us. This metadata -- the patterns and connections of communications rather than their content -- is particularly useful, as my friend Chris Carlsson pointed out, at mapping the clusters of communications behind popular movements, uprisings, political organizing: in other words, those moments when civil society rises to shape history, to make a better future in the open world of the streets and squares.


The goal of gathering all this metadata, Chris speculates, "is to be able to identify where the ‘hubs’ are, who the people are who sit at key points in networks, helping pass news and messages along, but especially, who the people are who spread ideas and information from one network of people to the next, who help connect small networks into larger ones, and thus facilitate the unpredictable and rapid spread of dissent when it appears.”


Metadata can map the circulatory system of civil society, toward what ends you can certainly imagine. When governments fear their people you can be sure they are not serving their people. This has always been the minefield of patriotism: loyalty to our government often means hostility to our country and vice-versa. Edward Snowden, loyalist to country, you have made this clear as day.


Those who demonize you show, as David Bromwich pointed out in a fine essay in the London Review of Books, their submission to the power you exposed. Who stood where, he writes,“was an infallible marker of the anti-authoritarian instinct against the authoritarian. What was distressing and impossible to predict was the evidence of the way the last few years have worn deep channels of authoritarian acceptance in the mind of the liberal establishment. Every public figure who is psychologically identified with the ways of power in America has condemned Snowden as a traitor, or deplored his actions as merely those of a criminal, someone about whom the judgment ‘he must be prosecuted’ obviates any further judgment and any need for thought.”


You said, "I know the media likes to personalize political debates, and I know the government will demonize me." Who you are is fascinating, but what you’ve exposed is what matters. It is upending the world. It is damagingWashington’s relations with many Latin American and some European countries, with Russia and China as well as with its own people -- those, at least, who bother to read or listen to the news and care about what they find there. “Edward Snowden Single-Handedly Forces Tech Companies To Come Forward With Government Data Request Stats,” said a headline in Forbes. Your act is rearranging our world.  How much no one yet knows.  


What You Love

What’s striking about your words on video, Edward Snowden, the ones I hear as your young, pale, thoughtful face speaks with clarity and incisiveness in response to Glenn Greenwald’s questions, is that you’re not talking much about what you hate, though it’s clear that you hate the secret network you were part of. You hate it because it poisons what you love. You told us, "I understand that I will be made to suffer for my actions... [but] I will be satisfied if the federation of secret law, unequal pardon, and irresistible executive powers that rule the world that I love are revealed even for an instant." You love our world, our country -- not its government, clearly, but its old ideals and living idealists, its possibilities, its dreamers, and its dreams (not the stale, stuffed American dream of individual affluence, but the other dreams of a better world for all of us, a world of principle).


You told us where we now live and that you refuse to live there anymore:

"I don't want to live in a world where everything that I say, everything I do, everyone I talk to, every expression of creativity or love or friendship is recorded. And that's not something I'm willing to support, it's not something I'm willing to build, and it's not something I'm willing to live under. America is a fundamentally good country. We have good people with good values who want to do the right thing. But the structures of power that exist are working to their own ends to extend their capability at the expense of the freedom of all publics."


Which is to say you acted from love, from all the things the new surveillance state imperils: privacy, democracy, accountability, decency, honor. The rest of us, what would we do for love?


What is terrifying to the politicians at the top is that you may be our truest patriot at the moment. Which makes all of them, with their marble buildings and illustrious titles, their security details and all the pomp, the flags, the saluting soldiers, so many traitors. The government is the enemy of the people; the state is the enemy of the country. I love that country, too. I fear that state and this new information age as they spread and twine like a poison vine around everything and everyone. You held up a mirror and fools hate the mirror for it; they shoot the messenger, but the message has been delivered.


“This country is worth dying for,” you said in explanation of your great risks. You were trained as a soldier, but a soldier’s courage with a thinker’s independence of mind is a dangerous thing; a hero is a dangerous thing. That’s why the U.S. military has made the Guardian, the British newspaper that has done the key reporting on your leaks, off limits to our soldiers overseas. Whoever made that cynical censorship decision understands that those soldiers may be defending a set of interests at odds with this country and its Constitution, and they need to be kept in the dark about that. The dark from which you emerged.


When the United States forced the airplane of Evo Morales, Bolivia’s democratically elected head of state, to land in Austria, after compliant France, Spain, Portugal, and Italy denied him the right to travel through their airspace, all South America took it as an insult and a violation of Bolivia’s sovereignty and international law. The allied president of Argentina, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner, tracked the incident in a series of tweets that demonstrated an openness, a principledness, and a strong friendship between Morales, Equadoran president Rafael Correa, and her. It was a little window onto a really foreign continent: one in which countries are sometimes headed by genuinely popular leaders who are genuinely transparent and governed by rule of law. It’s a reminder that things in our own blighted, corrupted, corporate-dominated country could be different. 


Building a Bridge to the Nineteenth Century

How did we get here? In 1996, President Bill Clinton and Vice President Al Gore pushed the dreadful slogan “building a bridge to the twenty-first century.” It was a celebration of Silicon Valley-style technological innovation and corporate globalization, among other things. At the time, I put “building a bridge to the nineteenth century” on my letterhead. It turned out that we were doing both at once: erecting a massive electronic infrastructure that outpaces our ability to democratically manage it and shifting our economy backward to recreate the chasms of class divide that marked the nineteenth century. The two goals intertwined like serpents making love.


The new technologies made a surveillance state that much more powerful and far-reaching; the new technologiesreplaced many jobs with few; the new technologies created new billionaires without principles; the new technologies made us all into commodities to be sold to advertisers; the new technologies turned our every move into something that could be tracked; the new technologies kept us distracted and busy. Meanwhile, almost everyone got poorer.


What the neoliberals amassing mountains of wealth for the already super-wealthy forgot, what the tax-cutters and child-starvers never learned in school, is that desperate people do not necessary simply lie down and obey. Often enough, they rebel. There is no one as dangerous as he or she who has nothing to lose. The twentieth century’s welfare states, their pumped-up, plumped-up middle classes, their relative egalitarianism and graduated tax plans pacified the once-insurrectionary classes by meeting, at least in part, their needs and demands. The comfortable don’t revolt much. Out of sheer greed, however, the wealthiest and most powerful decided to make so many of the rest of us at least increasingly uncomfortable and often far worse.


Edward Snowden, you rebelled because you were outraged; so many others are rebelling because their lives are impossible now. These days when we revolt, the new technologies become our friends as well as our enemies. If you imagine those technologies as the fire Prometheus stole from the gods, then it works both ways, for us and for them, to create and to destroy.


Those new technologies are key to the latest rounds of global organizing, from the World Trade Organization actionsof 1999, put together by email and epochal in their impact, to the Arab Spring, which used email, cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, and other means, to Occupy Wall Street. The technologies are double-edged: populist networks for creating global resistance are vulnerable to surveillance; classified reams of data are breachable by information saved to thumb drives or burned onto CDs by whistleblowers and hackers. They can spy in private; we can organize in public, and maybe the two actions are true opposites.


Meanwhile there is massive upheaval in Egypt and in Brazil, and in recent years there have been popular rebellions in many parts of the Arab world, Turkey, Iceland, Greece, Spain, Britain, Chile, and the U.S. itself with Occupy. The globe is on fire with popular outrage, with fury over economic injustice and, among other things, climate change spurred by the profits a few are piling up to the detriment of the rest of us, generations to come, other species, and the planet itself. It seems that, surveillance or not, people are not about to go quietly into the nineteenth century or accept the devil’s bargains of the twenty-first either.


Prometheus and Being Burned

I think of a man even younger than you, Edward Snowden, who unlike you acted without knowing what he did: 26-year-old Mohammed Bouazizi, whose December 2010 self-immolation to protest his humiliation and hopelessness triggered what became the still-blooming, still-burning Arab Spring. Sometimes one person changes the world. This should make most of us hopeful and some of them fearful, because what I am also saying is that we now live in a world of us and them, a binary world.  It’s not the old world of capitalism versus communism, but of the big versus the little, of oligarchy versus democracy, of hierarchies versus swarms, of corporations versus public interest and civil society. 


It seems nearly worldwide now, which is why revolts all over the planet have so much in common these days, why Occupy activists last month held up signs in New York’s Liberty Plaza in solidarity with the uprising in Taksim Square in Turkey; why Arab Spring activists phoned in pizza orders to the uprising in Wisconsin in early 2011; why Occupy spread around the world, and Greek insurrectionaries learned from the successes of Argentina in the face of austerity and economic collapse. We know our fate is common and that we live it out together and change it together, only together.


There were rumblings that you had defected, or would defect, to China or Russia, but you had already defected when we became aware of your existence: you had defected from them to us, using the power you had gained deep within the bowels of their infernal machines to empower us. What will we do with what you’ve taught us? That’s up to us, but for anyone who thinks what you did was not threatening to those in power, just look at how furious, how upset, how naked our emperors now are.


And you, Prometheus, you stole their fire, and you know it. You said, "Being called a traitor by Dick Cheney is the highest honor you can give an American, and the more panicked talk we hear from people like him, [Senator Dianne] Feinstein, and [Congressman Peter] King, the better off we all are. If they had taught a class on how to be the kind of citizen Dick Cheney worries about, I would have finished high school."


Someday you may be regarded as a Mandela of sorts for the information age, or perhaps a John Brown, someone who refused to fit in, to bow down, to make a system work that shouldn’t work, that should explode. And perhaps we’re watching it explode.

The match is sacrificed to start the fire. So maybe, Edward Snowden, you’re a sacrifice.  In the process, you’ve lit a bonfire out of their secrecy and spying, a call to action.


I fear for you, but your gift gives us hope and your courage, an example. Our loyalty should be to our ideals, because they are a threat to the secret system you’ve exposed, because we have to choose between the two. Right now you embody that threat, just as you embody those ideals. For which I am grateful, for which everyone who is not embedded in that system should be grateful.





Like Edward Snowden, Rebecca Solnit has a GED, not a high-school diploma. She lives in Silicon Valley’s shadow, in a city where billionaires race $10 million yachts and austerity is closing the community college.  Her newest book isThe Faraway Nearby.


Copyright 2013 Rebecca Solnit

Recommended Websites:  Voices for Creative www.fpif.org


Brave New World is a Chiang Mai-based, internationally-distributed e-news and opinion exchange initiative. Started in January 2003, when the US-led invasion of the Middle East was in the offing, its objectives have been to gather and disseminate print news that offers a more accurate picture of the new world situation than is available from any other daily news source, and also provide opportunity for comment on and reaction to the momentous and far-reaching changes taking place globally. BNW depends for its disseminated materials on items sent in by the individuals on its mailing list. 'Members' are encouraged to disseminate the news / opinions found here as widely as possible. Anyone wishing to be put on the mailing list ( bcc), or taken off it, should contact JC . Originally a daily service, BNW now goes out whenever the news sent in warrants it.

history from an icelandic blog

It´s recent events here in Iceland which might give us a clue to why Israel is allowed to behave the way it does.

In 2003 the Icelandic government under Prime Minister David Oddson privatized the Icelandic Banks. He had been persuaded to do so by his advisers from the third largest banking corporation in the world the British bank HSBC (The HSBC by the way has the sordid history of having once been the bank which financed the Opium trade from India to China after the Chinese had lost the Opium war. The Chinese government had tried to stop the British East India Company to dump Opium into China. The Opium was destroying the Chinese middle class and the Brits received Chinese resources and goods from the addicts under value.)

The Icelandic government had been promised that by privatising their banking system, foreign investors would pour their money into the Iceland economy. This would help the country to better diversify it´s export industry so it would no longer be solely depended on the fluctuating export value of  fish and fish-products on the international markets. These British and other foreign consultants also persuaded the Icelandic government not to put any limits on the private banks with any laws beyond the very liberal laws of the European Union. The Icelandic banks were then encouraged by their foreign consultants” to expand without limits. Their “strong business concepts” were hailed endlessly and they were told that since they had such a diverse investment strategy that there would be no danger whatsoever for a possible bankruptcy.

It was the British banker Mark Sismey-Durrant, who had started his career at the HSBC, who became the managing director of Landsbanki´s British branch. Sismey-Durrant, who is a committee member of the “Guild of International Bankers”, rubbing shoulders with some of the most powerful bankers in Britain, started the Icesave saving accounts in Britain and then in other European countries.

At first foreign money did stream in and the economy started to boom and the housing prices went through the roof. The Icelandic central tried to keep the economy from overheating by increasing the interest rates. But the banks undercut all those efforts by offering Icelanders loans in foreign currencies. And then in the beginning of 2008 foreign hedge funds began betting against the Icelandic currency and more and foreign investors pulled out of the Icelandic banks. This let to a cash shortage in the Icelandic banking system.The Icelandic banks then had no choice  than taking short time loans from other banks and the Icelandic central bank tried to get loans from other central banks to back up the banks. But the European and American central banks and other financial institutes which before had enthusiastically encouraged the expansion of the Icelandic banks now refused any loans whatsoever. With the crash of Lehman Brothers all inter-bank loans dried up and the Icelandic central bank only had enough foreign money to save one bank.
For a while now, the Icelandic government and leaders of the central bank had realized that they had been tricked into a situation where the whole Icelandic economy would be victim to a hostile take-over by the British banks, who had been the “consultants” that had tricked the Icelandic government into the privatisation of their country´s banking system. John Perkins who once worked as such a “consultant” in South America tells us that they usually call themselves “Economic Hitmen”.
So the government decided to renationalize the banks and cut the foreign businesses of those banks from the domestic businesses. This action was supposed to protect the domestic financial system and make the foreign parts of the banks with their large assets responsible for their foreign debts. It was assumed that these assets (since the Icelandic banks had no American sub-prime loan derivatives on their balance sheets) would, if they were sold in a regular manner and not under fire-sale conditions, be able to cover most of those foreign debts.

However, when the government tried to save the Icelandic economy from certain collapse, this was the moment, when Iceland,together with Landsbanki and the Icelandic central bank were set on the list of “terrorism supporting countries and terrorist organisations” by the British government.   Others on this list are Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran.
Icelandic assets where frozen abroad and the country was for a whole months completely cut off from the international trading markets, neither exports not imports by Icelandic could be paid for. This financial siege ended only when Iceland conceded to the financial control of the IMF and to take over the debts made be the private banks onto the Icelandic public.The assets which had some value before their frozen by the British government have now practically lost most of their value and will no longer be able to cover the debts.  Like developing countries before, Iceland is now encumbered by debts, which the small population of the country will never be able to repay.

The series of events, which led to Iceland having ended up on the “supporters of terrorism” list, makes it quite clear what “terrorism” and the “war against terrorism” is all about. It has nothing whatsoever to do with any acts of violence  performed or supported by the countries or organisations on this list, instead those people and countries are considered “terrorists or supporters of terrorism”  whose protective actions are considered to go against the interests of the largest western banking corporations and their main share-holders.

Many political writers have  already come to the conclusion that the “war against terrorism” is in reality a war against the religion and the people of Islam.
The western banking corporations see the whole religion of Islam as a danger to their interests.
Because the Islamic banking and financial system according to Sharia law does not allow the taking of interest for the lending of money.

Interest-free money is an idea that is shared by Christian, humanist and environmental organisations in the west as well. The idea of interest-free money has been developed and promoted in western countries since the 1920s. However, the organizations which support this alternative money concept in the western world are small and without much influence.
In the Islamic world, however, interest-free money is part of the obligatory religious rule for a sovereign Islamic country with a constitution based on Islamic law.

While we in the western world disagree with Islamic culture on several issues, there is this one part in which Islamic culture is far more progressive than our western: the Islamic banking and financial system.
Some South-American countries are already taking lessons from the Iranian financial and banking system trying to develop a similar system for their own region.

If the Islamic financial system would become  a good example for developing countries and even western industrial countries, today’s western financial elites would loose their power over the political system of the western world.

And this is exactly the reason why the Islamic peoples of the world are portrayed as the “enemy of the west” and why Israel is supported and encouraged in it´s criminal behavior. The helpless anger Israel´s neighbours feel about the injustice that is being done to the Palestinian and to themselves is being used by western intelligence agencies to create patsies for false flag attacks on western targets.
These “Islamic terrorist-attacks” attacks are then in turn being used to create anger among the western population against the Islamic countries of the Middle East. Young westerners can now be turned into anti-Islamic crusaders, and WWIII can start.

Telling the truth about Israel´s crimes and the boycott of Israel are the most important preventions against a general war.
Of course, in order for the world to have a chance for more justice and peace, other lies, than those the mainline media tells us about Israel, must be debunked and other truths must be told.
For instance the lies told about 9/11 must be debunked, as well as the lies about “global warming”. And the truth must be told about what really happened in Bosnia, Kosovo for these events effect European policy still today. And the truth about Ruanda must be told, for the lies are now killing the people in the Congo.

We have a long way ahead of us to set the record straight in the mind of the western public against all those deadly lies. But wise men have said, that every journey starts with the first step. And stopping Israel´s crimes against humanity now is the first step on the way to peace,the first step we have to take.

interview with Edward Snowden
Jocelyn BraddellThis is an extraordinary interview. Here is the third young man active in the world who has changed the world - Assange, Manning and now Snowden. We may see no change at this point in time but the sensation is that thousands of people, millions can now know what is oppressing us all. A national Government that figures it has a world power through violence, and only violence. The massive inertia of civilisation is quite natural as all live with a certain understanding, until violence breaks out as War, that your life is your own and you handle it as you wish despite adverse circumstances. You manage it with the co-operation of your family, your friends, your social services etc etc. This massive Government idea that calls itself the tool of History has been revealed to us thanks to that other tool of history, just as powerful but seldom used: our curiosity, our newspapers and internet surveillence of news. There is an entirely new spirit of belief available to mankind, with knowledge we may begin to seek trust, evaluate for trust, and begin to seek a life of trust , with a clear separation from malignance. conflict and violence. Will we dare to try it? Will we bring to and end the history of war and national conflict?13 minutes ago

Cover Story: How the NSA Targets Germany and Europe

By Laura Poitras, Marcel Rosenbach, Fidelius Schmid, Holger Stark and Jonathan Stock

Spying on the European Union

An NSA table (see graphic), published for the first time here by SPIEGEL, documents the massive amount of information captured from the monitored data traffic. According to the graph, on an average day last December, the agency gathered metadata from some 15 million telephone connections and 10 million Internet datasets. On Dec. 24, it collected data on around 13 million phone calls and about half as many Internet connections.

On the busiest days, such as Jan. 7 of this year, the information gathered spiked to nearly 60 million communications processes under surveillance. The Americans are collecting metadata from up to half a billion communications a month in Germany -- making the country one of the biggest sources of streams of information flowing into the agency's gigantic sea of data.

Another look at the NSA's data hoard shows how much less information the NSA is taking from countries like France and Italy. In the same period, the agency recorded data from an average of around 2 million connections, and about 7 million on Christmas Eve. In Poland, which is also under surveillance, the numbers varied between 2 million and 4 million in the first three weeks of December.

But the NSA's work has little to do with classic eavesdropping. Instead, it's closer to a complete structural acquisition of data. Believing that less can be extrapolated from such metadata than from intercepted communication content would be a mistake, though. It's a gold mine for investigators, because it shows not only contact networks, but also enables the creation of movement profiles and even predictions about the possible behavior of the people participating in the communication under surveillance.

According to insiders familiar with the German portion of the NSA program, the main interest is in a number of large Internet hubs in western and southern Germany. The secret NSA documents show that Frankfurt plays an important role in the global network, and the city is named as a central base in the country. From there, the NSA has access to Internet connections that run not only to countries like Mali or Syria, but also to ones in Eastern Europe. Much suggests that the NSA gathers this data partly with and without Germany's knowledge, although the individual settings by which the data is filtered and sorted have apparently been discussed. By comparison, the "Garlick" system, with which the NSA monitored satellite communication out of the Bavarian town of Bad Aibling for years, seems modest. The NSA listening station at Bad Aibling was at the center of the German debate over America's controversial Echelon program and alleged industrial espionage during the 1990s.

"The US relationship with Germany has been about as close as you can get,"American journalist and NSA expert James Bamford recently told German weekly Die Zeit. "We probably put more listening posts in Germany than anyplace because of its proximity to the Soviet Union."

Such foreign partnerships, one document states, provide "unique target access."

'Privacy of Telecommunications' Is 'Inviolable'

But the US does not share the results of the surveillance with all of these foreign partners, the document continues. In many cases, equipment and technical support are offered in exchange for the signals accessed. Often the agency will offer equipment, training and technical support to gain access to its desired targets. These "arrangements" are typically bilateral and made outside of any military and civil relationships the US might have with these countries, one top secret document shows. This international division of labor seems to violate Article 10 of Germany's constitution, the Basic Law, which guarantees that "the privacy of correspondence, posts and telecommunications shall be inviolable" and can only be suspended in narrowly defined exceptions.

"Any analyst can target anyone anytime," Edward Snowden said in his video interview, and that includes a federal judge or the president, if an email address is available, he added.

Just how unscrupulously the US government allows its intelligence agencies to act is documented by a number of surveillance operations that targeted the European Union in Brussels and Washington, for which it has now become clear that the NSA was responsible.

A little over five years ago, security experts discovered that a number of odd, aborted phone calls had been made around a certain extension within the Justus Lipsius building, the headquarters of the European Council, the powerful body representing the leaders of the EU's 27 member states. The calls were all made to numbers close to the one used as the remote servicing line of the Siemens telephone system used in the building. Officials in Brussels asked the question: How likely is it that a technician or service computer would narrowly misdial the service extension a number of times? They traced the origin of the calls -- and were greatly surprised by what they found. It had come from a connection just a few kilometers away in the direction of the Brussels airport, in the suburb of Evere, where NATO headquarters is located.

The EU security experts managed to pinpoint the line's exact location -- a building complex separated from the rest of the headquarters. From the street, it looks like a flat-roofed building with a brick facade and a large antenna on top. The structure is separated from the street by a high fence and a privacy shield, with security cameras placed all around. NATO telecommunications experts -- and a whole troop of NSA agents -- work inside. Within the intelligence community, this place is known as a sort of European headquarters for the NSA.

A review of calls made to the remote servicing line showed that it was reached several times from exactly this NATO complex -- with potentially serious consequences. Every EU member state has rooms at the Justus Lipsius building for use by ministers, complete with telephone and Internet connections.

Unscrupulous in Washington

The NSA appears to be even more unscrupulous on its home turf. The EU's diplomatic delegation to the United States is located in an elegant office building on Washington's K Street. But the EU's diplomatic protection apparently doesn't apply in this case. As parts of one NSA document seen by SPIEGEL indicate, the NSA not only bugged the building, but also infiltrated its internal computer network. The same goes for the EU mission at the United Nations in New York. The Europeans are a "location target," a document from Sept. 2010 states. Requests to discuss these matters with both the NSA and the White House went unanswered.

Now a high-level commission of experts, agreed upon by European Justice Commissioner Viviane Reding and US Attorney General Eric Holder, is to determine the full scope of the routine data snooping and discuss the legal protection possibilities for EU citizens. A final report is expected to be released in October.

The extent of the NSA's systematic global surveillance network is highlighted in an overview from Fort Meade, the agency's headquarters. It describes a number of secret operations involving the surveillance of Internet and international data traffic. "In the Information Age, (the) NSA aggressively exploits foreign signals traveling complex global networks," an internal description states.

Details in a further, previously unpublished document reveal exactly what takes place there. It describes how the NSA received access to an entire bundle of fiber-optic cables, which have a data-transfer capacity of several gigabytes per second. It is one of the Internet's larger superhighways. The paper indicates that access to the cables is a relatively recent development and includes Internet backbone circuits, "including several that service the Russian market." Technicians in Fort Meade are able to access "thousands of trunk groups connected worldwide," according to the document. In a further operation, the intelligence organization is able to monitor a cable that collects data flows from the Middle East, Europe, South America and Asia (see graphic).

But it is not just intelligence agencies from allied nations that have willingly aided the NSA. Revelations related to the Prism program make it clear that agents likewise access vast quantity of data from US Internet companies.

The price of truth

by Thierry Meyssan

While the international press plays up the information leaked by Edward Snowden as a revelation concerning the PRISM surveillance program, feigning to have discovered what everyone should already have known for a long time, Thierry Meyssan is particularly curious about the meaning of this rebellion. From this perspective, he attaches more importance to the case of General Cartwright, who has also been indicted for espionage.

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Former commander of the U.S. Strategic Command, former Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a former military adviser to President Obama, General James Cartwright is accused of spying: leaking to the New York Times information about the secret war against Iran in order to prevent an unnecessary war.

Are American public servants, civilian or military, who face a minimum of 30 years in prison for revealing U.S. state secrets to the press, "whistleblowers" exercising power in a democratic system or are they "resistors to oppression" at the hands of a military-police dictatorship? The answer to this question does not depend on our own political opinions, but on the nature of the U.S. government. The answer completely changes if we focus on the case of Bradley Manning, the young leftist Wikileaks soldier, or if we consider that of General Cartwright, military adviser to President Obama, indicted Thursday, 27 June 2013, for spying.

Here, a look back is needed to understand how one shifts from "espionage" in favor of a foreign power to "disloyalty" to a criminal organization that employs you.

Worse than censorship: the criminalization of sources

The President of the United States and Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Woodrow Wilson, tried to confer on the Executive branch the power to censor the press when "national security" or "the reputation of the government" are in play. In his speech on State of the Union (7th of December 1915), he said: "There are citizens of the United States ... who have poured the poison of disloyalty into the very arteries of our national life, who tried to drag the authority and reputation of our government in contempt ... to destroy our industries ... and degrade our policy in favor of foreign intrigue .... We are without adequate federal laws .... I urge you to do nothing less than save the honor and self-respect of the nation. Such creatures of passion, disloyalty, and anarchy must be crushed."

However, Congress did not heed him immediately. After the U.S. entry into the war, it passed the Espionage Act, taking in most of the British Official Secrets Act. It was no longer a matter of censoring the press, but of cutting off access to information by muzzling the custodians of state secrets. This device allows the Anglo-Saxons to present themselves as "defenders of freedom of expression", though they are the worst violators of the democratic right to information, constitutionally defended by the Scandinavian countries.

Silence, not secrecy

Thus, the Anglo-Americans are less informed about what is happening at home than are foreigners. For example, during World War II, the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada managed to keep under wraps something as big as the Manhattan Project, that created the first nuclear bomb, while it employed 130,000 people for 4 years and it was widely penetrated by foreign intelligence services. Why? Because Washington did not prepare the weapon for this war, but for the next, against the Soviet Union. As shown by Russian historians, the abdication of Japan was postponed until after Hiroshima and Nagasaki were destroyed as a warning to the USSR. If Americans had known that their country possessed such a weapon, their leaders would have had to use it to finish with Germany and not to threaten the Soviet ally at the expense of the Japanese. In reality, the Cold War began before the end of World War II [1].

In terms of secrecy, it should be noted that Stalin and Hitler were informed of the Manhattan Project from its inception. They indeed had inside agents. Meanwhile Truman was informed in his capacity as vice president, but only at the last moment, after the death of President Roosevelt.

The Espionage Act deals only secondarily with espionage as shown by its jurisprudence.In wartime, it is used to punish dissent. Thus, in 1919, the Supreme Court recognized in Schrenck v. United States and Abrams v. United States that calling for insubordination or non-intervention against the Russian Revolution fell under the Espionage Act.In peacetime, the same law serves to prevent public officials from exposing a system of fraud or crimes committed by the state, even if their revelations are already known, but not yet proven.

Under the administration of Barack Obama, the Espionage Act has been invoked 8 times, a peacetime record.

Let’s put aside the case of John Kiriakou, a CIA officer who revealed the detention and torture of Abu Zubaydah. Far from being a hero, Kiriakou is actually an agent provocateur funded by the Agency, whose role it was to delude the public regarding pseudo-confessions extorted from Zubaydah to justify, a posteriori, the "fight against terrorism" [2].Let’s also eliminate the case of Shamal Leibowitz, since his revelations were never released to the public. There remain six cases instructing us about the U.S. military-police system.

Stephen Jin-Woo Kim confirmed to Fox News that North Korea was preparing a nuclear test regardless of U.S. threats; a confirmation that caused no harm to the USA other than pointing out their inability to be obeyed by North Korea. In another context, this information had already been released by Bob Woodward without provoking reactions.

Andrew Thomas Drake revealed the mismanagement of the Trailblazer program to a member of the U.S. House of Representatives Intelligence Committee. He was alleged to have informed those congressmen tasked with keeping an eye on the intelligence agencies with regard to the billions that the NSA was secretly throwing out the window. Trailblazer sought to find a way to plant viruses on any computer or mobile phone. It has never worked.

In a similar vein, Edward Snowden, an employee of the Booz Allen Hamilton technology consulting firm, published various NSA documents attesting to U.S. spying in China as well as on the guests of the British G20. Above all, he has revealed the scope of the military phone tapping and internet spy system, which no one can escape, not even the President of the United States. U.S. politicians described Snowden as "a traitor to kill" only because his documents prevent the NSA from continuing to deny before Congress activities long known to all.

Bradley Manning, a simple soldier, sent to Wikileaks videos of two blunders by the army, 500,000 intelligence reports on military bases in Afghanistan and Iraq, and 250,000 cables on the information gathered by U.S. diplomats in conversations with foreign politicians. None of this is of paramount importance, but the documentation projects a poor image of ??the gossip collected by the State Department to serve as the basis for its "diplomacy."

Jeffrey Alexander Sterling is a CIA employee who revealed "Operation Merlin" to the New York Times. More surprisingly, General James Cartwright was number two man in the military, in his capacity as Vice-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and so close an advisor to the President as to be dubbed "Obama’s general". He supposedly revealed "Operation Olympic Games" to the New York Times last year and has been placed under investigation, according to CNN.

Sterling and Cartwright don’t buy into the Israeli myth of "the atomic bomb of the mullahs." So they tried to defuse the war into which Tel Aviv is trying to plunge their country. "Operation Merlin" consisted in sending to Iran false information about the manufacture of the bomb. In reality, it was supposed to push Iran to engage in a military nuclear program to justify a posteriori the Israeli accusation [3]. As for "Operation Olympic Games," it was meant to implant the Stuxnet and Flame viruses in the Natanz plant, to disrupt its operation, notably that of its centrifuges [4]. It was therefore intended to block Iran’s civilian nuclear program. None of these revelations damaged U.S. interests.

Resistance heroes

A salon opposition presents the men indicted under the Espionage Act as "whistleblowers", as if the United States today were a real democracy and they were alerting citizens to the need to correct some errors. In fact, what they show us is that in the United States, from a common soldier (Bradley Manning) to the second in command (General Cartwright), men are trying as best they can to fight against the dictatorial system in which they discover themselves. Faced with a monstrous system, they ought to be celebrated as major resistance figures such as Admiral Canaris or Count Stauffenberg.

One in six in usa have insufficient food
Tanis Fletcher·

members of my family have food stamps now because of their hideous job situations. they say the foods they are able to buy in this system are not nutritious. Outrageous! Anything that can be done in their favor and the survival of all the others is most welcome!


We have to do something as a people with heart. Noone can afford to live when making minimum or inadequate wage that is the jobs you can find in the paper. Housing is ridiculously expensive along with food prices. I hear alot of people talking about how its socialist to have food stamps, do they even know how broken the social nets are in this country? Its really broken and letting people slip through the nets to become homeless, mentally ill go without medication, kids to go hungry. If you don't know this is going on then you are out of touch. Single moms can't make it on their own, they can't make that much money. Everything needs to become cheaper but prices are constantly rising. I want corporate welfare to be in the crosshairs not the poorest among us. Perhaps drop fewer bombs on other countries poor people. You have to have nothing to get aid. Not only that but the system is designed to keep a person down, when you get a job you lose your food budget, how can anyone get a hand up or get ahead with this broken system. No matter which way we turn the lower and middle class are screwed this system is designed by and for the rich.

rgl 2 hours ago

Good idea. Starve the li'l kiddies that are going to be fighting Amerikkka's ongoing wars. Army eats. Haha, maybe I won't say 'good', but it eats. Make 'em hungry enough, and they will enlist just for the food they can't afford now, and a cot to replace their bedroom in the family home that some too-big-to-fail-or-apparently-jail bank has foreclosed on. 

The Army needs kids. Soon these kid's'll need the army ... 

Hell of a world we live in, eh?

OpEdNews Op Eds 5/26/2013 at 20:44:34

The Only Way To Bring Peace to Syria

By Mairead Maguire (about the author)

After a 10-day (1-11 May, 2013) visit to Lebanon and Syria, leading a 16-person delegation from eight countries, invited by Mussalaha Reconciliation Movement, I have returned hopeful that peace is possible in Syria, if all outside interference is stopped and the Syrians are allowed to solve their own problems upholding their right to self-determination. 

An appeal to end all violence and for Syrians to be left alone from outside interference was made by all those we met during our visit to Syria. We have tried to forward it to the International community in our Concluding Declaration.

During our visit we went to refugee camps, affected communities, and met religious leaders, combatants, government representatives, opposition delegations and many others, perpetrators and victims, in Lebanon and Syria.

1. Visits to refugee camps: In Lebanon we visited several refugee camps, hosted by Lebanese or Palestinian communities. One woman said: "before this conflict started we were happy and had a good life (there is free education, free healthcare, subsidies for fuel, in Syria,) and now we live in poverty." Her daughter and son-in-law (a pharmacist and engineer) standing on a cement floor in a Palestinian refugee camp, with not even a mattress, told us that this violence had erupted to everyone's surprise and spread so quickly they were all still in shock, but when well-armed, foreign fighters came to Homs, they took over their homes, raped their women, and killed young males who refused to join their ranks, so the people fled in terror. They said that these foreign fighters were from many countries -- Libyans, Saudis, Tunisians, Chechens, Afghanis, Pakistanis, Emiratis, Lebanese, Jordanians, Turkish, Europeans, Australian -- and these gangs are financed and trained by foreign governments. They attach suicide vests around peoples' bodies and threaten to explode them if they don't do what they are told. One refugee woman asked me "when can we go home?" (To my great delight a few days later in Damascus I met a woman working on a government program which is helping refugees to return to Syria and over 200 have returned to date).

Religious and government leaders have called upon people not to flee Syria and it is to be hoped many will heed this call, as after seeing so many Syrian refugees living in tents and being exploited in so many ways, including sexually, I believe the best solution is the stability of Syria so its people feel safe enough to stay in Syria. If refugees continue to flee Syria then surrounding countries could be destabilized, causing the domino effect and destabilizing the entire Middle East.

Many people have fled into camps in surrounding countries like Turkey, Jordan, or Lebanon, all of which are trying to manage the huge influx of Syrian refugees. Although the host countries are doing their best to cope they are overwhelmed by refugee numbers. (UNHCR's official figure of refugees is one million). Through our meetings we have been informed that Turkey invites Syrian refugees into the country and forbids them to go back home. It is documented that Syrian refugees in Turkey and Jordan are mistreated. Some young Syrian refugee girls are sold for forced marriage in Jordan. From OHCHR reports we know that more than 4 million Syrians are displaced inside their own country, living in great need.

A representative from Red Cross, told us that there is freedom to do their work throughout Syria for all NGO and the Syrian Red crescent in co-ordination with the Ministry of Social affairs and under such dire circumstances, they are doing their best, providing services to as many people as possible. However there is a great shortage of funds for them to cope with this humanitarian tragedy of refugees and internally displaced population. The economic sanctions, as in Iraq, are causing great hardship to many people and all those whom we met called for them to be lifted. Our delegation called for the lifting of these illegal US-led sanctions that target the Syrian Population for purely political reasons in order to achieve regime change.

2. Hospitals: We visited the hospitals and saw many people injured by shootings, bombings, and armed attacks. A moderate Sunni Imam told me how he was abducted by jihadists, who tortured him, cut off his ear, tried to cut his throat, sliced his legs, and left him for dead. He said when he goes back to his mosque they will slaughter him. He told us, "these men are foreign fighters, jihadists from foreign countries, well-armed, well trained, with money, they are in our country to destroy it. They are not true Muslims but are religious extremist/fundamentalists terrorizing, abducting, killing our people." The government spokesman also confirmed that they have in detention captured foreign fighters from 29 countries, including Chechens, Iraqis, and many others. The Ministry of Health showed us a documentary on the terrible killings by Jihadists and the terror caused by these foreigners with the killing of medics and destruction of medical infrastructure of the Syrian State which has made it difficult to answer the needs of the population.

3. Meeting with Opposition: Our delegation participated in an open forum with many representatives of internal opposition's parties. One political opponent who was in prison 24 years under the Assad regime, and has been out for 11 years, wants political change with more than 20 other internal opposition components, but without outside interference and the use of violence. We met with "armed' opposition people in a local community who said they had accepted the government's offer of amnesty and were working for a peaceful way forward. One man told me he had accepted money from Jihadists to fight, but had been shocked by their cruelty and the way they treated fellow Syrian Muslims considering them as not real Muslims. He said foreign Jihadists wanted to take over Syria, not save it.

On May 10, a part of our delegation headed to Homs, invited by the opposition community of Al Waar city where displaced families from Baba Amro, Khalidiyeh and other rebel's strongholds seek refuge. The Delegation saw all the conditions of this city and is studying a Pilot Project for Reconciliation and peaceful reintegration between this community and the surrounded non-rebel communities (Shia and Alaouites) with whom 15 days ago an agreement of non-belligerence has been signed through the auspices of Mussalaha.

4. Meeting with Officials: Our Delegation met, and spoke, at the Parliament, and also with the Governor, Prime Minister and seven other Ministries. We were given details of the new Constitution and political reforms being put in place, and plans for elections in 2014. Government Ministers admitted that they had made mistakes in being slow to respond to legitimate demands for change from civil community but these were now being implemented. They told us when the conflict started it was peaceful for change but quickly turned into bloodshed when armed men killed many soldiers.

In the first days soldiers were unarmed but when people started asking for protection the government and military responded to defend the people and in self-defence.

When we questioned the Prime Minister regarding the allegation that the Syrian Government had used Sarin gas, he told us that as soon as news came from Aleppo that allegedly gas had been used, his government invited immediately the UN to come in to investigate, but heard nothing from them. Most recently however, a UN investigator, High Commissioner Carla Del Ponte, has confirmed that it was rebels, not the Syrian government, who used Sarin gas. 

During a meeting with the Justice Minister, we requested that a list of 72 non-violent political dissidents currently detained be released. The Justice Minister said after checking to see if those listed were indeed non-violent political dissidents, he would, in principal, agree to the release of these nonviolent detainees. He also informed us they do not implement the death penalty and it is hoped that when things settle in Syria they will move to have the death penalty abolished. We also asked the Justice Minister (an international lawyer) about the Syrian Government's Human rights abuses, namely the artillery shelling into no-go areas being held by jihadists and armed opposition. The Minister accepted those facts but alleged that the Government had a duty to clear these areas. We suggested there was a better way to deal with the problem than artillery shelling, but he insisted that the government had a responsibility to clear the areas of rebel forces and this was the way in which they were doing it.

The Ministers and Governor said that President Assad was their President and has their support. There were many people we spoke to who expressed such sentiments. However, some young people said they support the opposition but in order to protect the Unity of Syria from outside destruction, they will support the government and President Assad, until the election next year and then they will vote for the opposition. They said the Doha Coalition in Qatar does not represent them and that no one outside Syria has a right to remove President Assad but the Syrian people through the elections next year. The journalists in Syria are in great danger from the religious extremist/fundamentalists, and during my visit to a television station a young journalist told me how his mother was killed by jihadists and he showed me his arm where he had been shot and almost killed.

5. Meeting with religious leaders: We attended in the Omayyad Mosque in Damascus a prayer gathering led by the Grand Mufti of the Syrian Arab Republic, Dr. Ahmad Badr Al-Din Hassoun and the Greek Catholic Patriarch Gregory III Laham with the delegate of Greek Orthodox Patriarch John X Yazigi, and clerics of all traditions. The Assembly prayed for the peace and unity of Syria and the non-interference of outsiders in their country. They stressed the conflict in Syria is not a religious conflict, as Muslims and Christians have always lived together in Syria, and they are, (in spite of living with suffering and violence much of which is not of their own making), unified in their wish to be a light of peace and reconciliation to the world. The Patriarch said that from the Mosque and Christian churches goes out a great movement of peace and reconciliation and asked both those inside and outside Syria, to reject all violence and support the people of Syria in this work of dialogue, reconciliation and peacemaking.

The Muslim and Christian Spiritual Leaders are very conscious if the religious extremist/fundamentalists gain momentum and control Syria, the future of those who are not supportive of fundamentalists like moderate Muslims, Christians, minorities, and other Syrians is in great danger. Indeed the Middle East could lose its precious pluralistic social fabric with the Christians, like in Iraq, being the first to flee the country. This would be a tragedy for all concerned in this multi-religious, multi-cultural secular Syria, once a light of peaceful conviviality in the Arab world.


Following many authorized reports in the mainstream Media and our own evidence, I can stress that the Syrian State and its population are under a proxy war led by foreign countries and directly financed and backed mainly by Qatar which has imposed its views on the Arab League. Turkey, a part of the Lebanese opposition, and some of the Jordan authorities offer a safe haven to a diversity of jihadist groups, each with its own agenda, recruited from many countries. Bands of jihadists armed and financed from foreign countries invade Syria through Turkey, Jordan, and Lebanon, crossing porous frontiers in an effort to destabilize Syria. There are an estimated 50,000 foreign jihadist fighters terrorizing Syria. Those death squads are destroying systematically the Syrian State infrastructures (Electricity, Oil, Gas and water plants, High Tension Pylons, hospitals, schools, public buildings, cultural heritage sites and even religious sanctuaries). 

Moreover, the country is submerged by snipers, bombers, agitators, bandits. They use aggression and Sharia rules to hijack the freedom and dignity of the Syrian population. They torture and kill those who refuse to join them. They have strange religious beliefs which make them feel comfortable even perpetrating the cruelest acts like killing and torturing their opponents. It is well documented that many of those terrorists are permanently under stimulants like Captagon. The general lack of security unleashes the terrible phenomenon of abduction for ransoms or for political pressure. Thousands of innocents are missing, among them the two Bishops, Youhanna Ibrahim and Paul Yazigi, as well as many priests and Imams.

UN and EU economic sanctions, as well as a severe embargo, are pushing Syria to the edge of social collapse. Unfortunately the international media network is ignoring those realities and is bent on demonizing, lying, destabilizing the country and fueling more violence and contradiction.

In summary: the war in Syria is not a civil war  as depicted  but a proxy war with serious breaches of International laws and Humanitarian International laws. The protection of the foreign fighters by some foreign countries among the most powerful gives them a kind of an unaccountability that pushes them with impunity to all kind of cruel deeds against innocent civilians. Even war conventions are not respected, resulting in many war crimes and even crimes against Humanity.  


During our visit to Syria, our delegation was met with great kindness by everyone and I offer to each one who facilitated or hosted our Delegation my most sincere feelings of gratitude. We witnessed that the Syrian people have suffered very deeply and continue to do so. The entire population of 23 million people are under tremendous threat of continued infiltration by foreign terrorists. Many are still stunned by the horrors and suddenness of all this violence and worried their country will be attacked and divided by outside forces, and are all too aware that geopolitical forces are at work to destabilize Syria for political control, oil and resources. One Druze leader said "if westerns want our Oil -- both Lebanon and Syria have oil reserves -- let us negotiate for it, but do not destroy our country to take it." In Syria memories of next door Iraq's destruction by US-UK-NATO forces are fresh in people's minds, including in the minds of the one and a half million Iraqis who fled Iraqi's conflict, including many Christians, and were given refuge in Syria by the Syrian Government.

The greatest hope we took was from Mussalaha, a non-political movement from all sections of Syrian society, which has working teams throughout Syria and is proceeding through dialogue to building peace and reconciliation. Mussalaha mediates between armed gunmen and security forces, helps get release of many people who have been abducted, and brings together all parties to the conflict for dialogue and practical solutions. It was this movement which hosted us, under the leadership of Mother Agnes-Mariam, Superior of Saint James' Monastery, supported by the Patriarch Gregory III Laham, head of the Catholic Hierarchy of Syria.

This great civil community movement building a peace process and National Reconciliation from the ground up, will, if given space, time, and non-interference from outside, help bring Peace to Syria. They recognize that there must be an unconditional, all inclusive political solution, with compromises and they are confident this is happening at many levels of society and is the only way forward for Syrian peace.

I support this National Reconciliation process which, many Syrian believe, is the only way to bring Peace to SYRIA and the entire Middle East. I am myself committed to this peaceful process and hope that the International Community, the Religious and Political Leaders, as well as any person of good will, will help Syria to bypass violence and prejudice and anchor in a new era of Social peace and prosperity. 

This cradle of civilizations where Syria occupies the heart is an enormous spiritual heritage for humanity, let us strive to establish a non-war zone and proclaim it an OASIS of Peace for the Human Family.

Nobel Peace Laureate

Iraq: Depleted Uranium effects. John Pilger

The dust in Iraq rolls down the long roads that are the desert's fingers. It gets in your eyes and nose and throat; it swirls in markets and school playgrounds, consuming children kicking a ball; and it carries, according to Dr Jawad Al-Ali, "the seeds of our death". An internationally respected cancer specialist at the Sadr teaching hospital in Basra, Dr Ali told me that in 1999, and today his warning is irrefutable. "Before the Gulf war," he said, "we had two or three cancer patients a month. Now we have 30 to 35 dying every month. Our studies indicate that 40 to 48% of the population in this area will get cancer: in five years' time to begin with, then long after. That's almost half the population. Most of my own family have it, and we have no history of the disease. It is like Chernobyl here; the genetic effects are new to us; the mushrooms grow huge; even the grapes in my garden have mutated and can't be eaten."

Along the corridor, Dr Ginan Ghalib Hassen, a paediatrician, kept a photo album of the children she was trying to save. Many hadneuroblastoma. "Before the war, we saw only one case of this unusual tumour in two years," she said. "Now we have many cases, mostly with no family history. I have studied what happened in Hiroshima. The sudden increase of such congenital malformations is the same."

Among the doctors I interviewed, there was little doubt that depleted uranium shells used by the Americans and British in the Gulf war were the cause. A US military physicist assigned to clean up the Gulf war battlefield across the border in Kuwait said, "Each round fired by an A-10 Warhog attack aircraft carried over 4,500 grams of solid uranium. Well over 300 tons of DU was used. It was a form of nuclear warfare."
The British oncologist Karol Sikora, chief of the World Health Organisation's cancer programme in the 1990s, wrote in the British Medical Journal: "Requested radiotherapy equipment, chemotherapy drugs and analgesics are consistently blocked by United States and British advisers [to the Iraq sanctions committee]." He told me, "We were specifically told [by the WHO] not to talk about the whole Iraq business. The WHO is not an organisation that likes to get involved in politics."Recently, Hans von Sponeck, former assistant secretary general of the United Nations and senior UN humanitarian official in Iraq, wrote to me: "The US government sought to prevent WHO from surveying areas in southern Iraq where depleted uranium had been used and caused serious health and environmental dangers." A WHO report, the result of a landmark study conducted with the Iraqi ministry of health, has been "delayed". Covering 10,800 households, it contains "damning evidence", says a ministry official and, according to one of its researchers, remains "top secret". The report says birth defects have risen to a "crisis" right across Iraqi society where depleted uranium and other toxic heavy metals were used by the US and Britain. Fourteen years after he sounded the alarm, Dr Jawad Al-Ali reports "phenomenal" multiple cancers in entire families.

In her book 
Dispatches from the Dark Side, Gareth Peirce, Britain's greatest human rights lawyer, applies the rule of law to Blair, his propagandist Alastair Campbell and his colluding cabinet. For Blair, she wrote, "human beings presumed to hold [Islamist] views, were to be disabled by any means possible, and permanently … in Blair's language a 'virus' to be 'eliminated' and requiring 'a myriad of interventions [sic] deep into the affairs of other nations.' The very concept of war was mutated to 'our values versus theirs'." And yet, says Peirce, "the threads of emails, internal government communiques, reveal no dissent". For foreign secretary Jack Straw, sending innocent British citizens to Guantánamo was "the best way to meet our counter-terrorism objective".

These crimes, their iniquity on a par with Woolwich, await prosecution. But who will demand it? In the kabuki theatre of Westminster politics, the faraway violence of "our values" is of no interest. Do the rest of us also turn our backs?

'Obama Must be Taken Before ICC for the War on Terror' - Noam Chomsky


May 23, 2013

RT: As someone who was living in the aftermath of the Boston bombings, the chaos, what did you think of the police and media response to them?

Noam Chomsky: I hate to second guess police tactics, but my impression was that it was kind of overdone. There didn’t have to be that degree of militarization of the area. Maybe there did, maybe not. It is kind of striking that the suspect they were looking for was found by a civilian after they lifted the curfew. They just noticed some blood on the street. But I have nothing to say about police tactics. As far as media was concerned, there was 24 hour coverage on television on all the channels.

RT: Also zeroing in on one tragedy while ignoring others, across the Muslim world, for example...

NC: Two days after the Boston bombing there was a drone strike in Yemen, one of many, but this one we happen to know about because the young man from the village that was hit testified before the Senate a couple of days later and described it. It was right at the same time. And what he said is interesting and relevant. He said that they were trying to kill someone in his village, he said that the man was perfectly well known and they could have apprehended him if they wanted.

A tribesman walks near a building damaged last year by a U.S. drone air strike targeting suspected al Qaeda militants in Azan of the southeastern Yemeni province of Shabwa (Reuters / Khaled Abdullah)

A drone strike was a terror weapon, we don’t talk about it that way. It is, just imagine you are walking down the street and you don’t know whether in 5 minutes there is going to be an explosion across the street from some place up in the sky that you can’t see. Somebody will be killed, and whoever is around will be killed, maybe you’ll be injured if you’re there. That is a terror weapon. It terrorizes villages, regions, huge areas. In fact it’s the most massive terror campaign going on by a longshot.

What happened in the village according to the Senate testimony, he said that the jihadists had been trying to turn over the villagers against the Americans and had not succeeded. He said in one drone strike they’ve turned the entire village against the Americans. That is a couple of hundred new people who will be called terrorists if they take revenge. It’s a terrorist operation and a terrorist generating machine. It goes on and on, it’s not just the drone strikes, also the Special Forces and so on. It was right at the time of the Boston marathon and it was one of innumerable cases.

It is more than that. The man who was targeted, for whatever reason they had to target him, that’s just murder. There are principles going back 800 years to Magna Carta holding that people cannot be punished by the state without being sentenced by a trial of peers. That’s only 800 years old. There are various excuses, but I don’t think they apply.

But beyond that there are other cases which come to mind right away, where a person is murdered, who could easily be apprehended, with severe consequences. And the most famous one is Bin Laden. There were eight years of special forces highly trained, navy seals, they invaded Pakistan , broke into his compound, killed a couple people. When they captured him he was defenseless, I think his wife was with him. Under instructions they murdered him and threw his body into the ocean without autopsy. That’s only the beginning.

RT: The apprehension of bin Laden and the assassination and dumping his body into the ocean, of course the narrative completely fell apart. You’ve said that in the aftermath of 9-11 the Taliban said that we will give you Bin Laden if you present us with evidence, which we didn’t do…

NC: Their proposal was a little vague.

RT: But why are people so easy to accept conventional wisdom of government narratives, there is virtually no questioning…

NC: That’s all they hear. They hear a drumbeat of conventional propaganda, in my view. And it takes a research project to find other things.

RT: And of course at the same time of the Boston bombings, Iraq saw almost the deadliest week in 5 years, it was the deadliest month in a long time. Atrocities going on every day, suicide bombings. At the same time our foreign policy is causing these effects in Iraq…

NC: I did mention the Magna Carta, which is 800 years old, but there is also something else which is about 70 years. It’s called the Nurnberg tribunal, which is part of foundation of modern international law. It defines aggression as the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it encompasses all of the evil it follows. The US and British invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression, no questions about it. Which means that we were responsible for all the evil that follows like the bombings. Serious conflict arose, it spread all over the region. In fact the region is being torn to shreds by this conflict. That’s part of the evil that follows.

RT: The media’s lack of coverage of everything that you are speaking about, I know that America runs on nationalism, but is America’s lack of empathy unique? Or do we see that in every country? Or as we grew up in America we are isolated with this viewpoint? 

Every great power that I can think of… Britain was the same, France was the same, unless the country is defeated. Like when Germany was defeated after the WWII, it was compelled to pay attention to the atrocities that it carried out. But others don’t. In fact there was an interesting case this morning, which I was glad to see. There are trials going on in Guatemala for Efrain Rios Montt who is basically responsible for the virtual genocide of the Mayans. The US was involved in it every step of the way. Finally this morning there was an article about it saying that there was something missing from the trials, the US’s role. I was glad to see the article.

RT: Do you think that we will ever see white war criminals from imperial nations stand trial the way that  Rios Montt did?

NC: It’s almost impossible. Take a look at the International criminal court (ICC) - black Africans or other people the West doesn’t like. Bush and Blair ought to be up there. There is no recent crime worse than the invasion of Iraq. Obama’s got to be there for the terror war. But that is just inconceivable. In fact there is a legislation in the US which in Europe is called the ‘Netherlands invasion act’, Congressional legislation signed by the president, which authorizes the president to use force to rescue an American brought to the Hague for trial.

RT: Speaking of the drone wars I can’t help but think of John Bellinger, the chief architect of the drone policy, speaking to a think-tank recently saying that Obama has ramped up the drone killings as something to avoid bad press of Gitmo, capturing the suspects alive and trying them at Gitmo. When you hear things like this what is your response to people saying that ‘his hands are tied, he wants to do well’?

NC: That was pointed out some time ago by a Wall Street journal military correspondent. What he pointed out is that Bush’s technique was to capture people and torture them, Obama has improved – you just kill them and anybody else who is around. It’s not that his hands are tied. It’s bad enough to capture them and torture them. But it’s just murder on executive whim, and as I say it’s not just murdering the suspects, it’s a terror weapon, it terrorizes everyone else. It’s not that his hands are tied, it’s what he wants to do.

RT: I would rather be detained then blown up and my family with me… NC: And that terrorizes everyone else. There are recent polls which show the Arab public opinion. The results are kind of interesting. Arabs don’t particularly like Iran, but they don’t regard it as a threat. Its rank is rather low. They do see threats in Egypt and Iraq and Yemen, the US is a major threat, Yemen is slightly above the US, but basically they regard the US as a major threat. Why is that? Why would Egyptians, Iraqi and Yemeni regard the US as the greatest threat they face? It’s worth knowing.

RT: The controversial Obama policy, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which you are plaintiff on the case, you’ve also said that the humanitarian laws are actually worse, providing material support for terrorism. Do you think that all these policies are quantifying what has been in place for decades?

NC: The NDAA is pretty much quantifying practices that have been employed, it went a little bit beyond , and the court case is narrow, it’s about the part that went beyond -  authorization to imprison American citizens indefinitely without trial. That is a radical violation of principles that go back as I said 800 years ago. I don’t frankly see much difference between imprisoning American citizens and imprisoning anyone else. They are all persons.

But we make a distinction. And that distinction was extended by the NDAA. The humanitarian law project broke no ground. There was a concept of material support for terrorism, already sort of a dubious concept, because of how to decide what is terrorism?

Well that’s an executive whim again. There is a terrorist list created by the executive branch without review, without having any right to test it. And if you look at that terrorist list it really tells you something.

So for example Nelson Mandela was on the terrorist list until three or four years ago. The reason was that in 1988 when the Regan administration was strongly supporting the apartheid regime in South Africa, in fact ruling congressional legislation in order to aid it, they declared that the African national Congress was one the most notorious terrorist groups of the world – that’s Mandela, that’s 1988, barely before apartheid collapsed. He was on the terrorist list.

We can take another case: 1982 when Iraq invaded Iran, the US was supporting Iraq and wanted to aid the Iraqi invasion, so Saddam Hussein was taken off the terrorist list…Its executive whim to begin with, we shouldn’t take it seriously. Putting that aside, material assistance meant you give him a gun or something like that. Under the Obama administration it’s you give them advice.

RT: Let’s talk about the linguistics and language of the war on terror. What did Obama’s rebranding of Bush’s policies to do consciousness?

NC: The policy of murdering people instead of capturing them and torturing them can be presented to the public in a way that makes it look clean. It is presented and I think many people see it like that as a kind of surgical strike which goes after the people who are planning to do us harm. And this is a very frightened country, terrified country, has been for a long time. So if anybody is going to do us harm it is fine for us to kill them.

How this is interpreted is quite interesting.

For example there was a case a year or two ago, when a drone attack in Yemen killed a couple little girls. There was a discussion with a well-known liberal columnist Joe Klein, he writes for the Time, he was asked what he thought about this and he said something like – it’s better that four of them are killed than four little girls here.

The logic is mind-boggling. But if we have to kill people elsewhere who might conceivably have aimed to harm us and it happens that a couple little girls get killed too, that’s fine. We are entitled to do that. Well, suppose that any country was doing it to us or to anyone we regard as human. It’s incredible! This is very common.

I remember once right after the invasion of Iraq, Thomas Friedman, the New York Times, Middle East specialist, columnist, was interviewed on the Charlie Rose show, a sort of intellectuals show. Rose asked him ‘what we ought to be doing in Iraq?’ You have to hear the actual words to grasp it, but basically what he said is something like this: ‘American troops have to smash into houses in Iraq and make those people understand that we are not going to allow terrorism. Suck on this, we are not going to allow terrorism in our society! You’d better understand that.

So those terrorized women and children in Baghdad have to be humiliated, degraded and frightened so that Osama Bin Laden won’t attack us.’  It’s mind-boggling. That is the peak of liberal intellectual culture supposedly.

RT: Famous atheists like Richard Dawkins saying that Islam is one of the greatest threats facing humanity, that is a whole another form of propaganda…

NC: Christianity right now is in much greater threat.

RT: The media is obviously instrumental in manufacturing consent for these policies. Your book ‘Media control’ was written a decade before 9-11 and it outlines exactly how sophisticated the media propaganda model is. When you wrote that book did you see how far it would come and where do you see it in 10 years?

NC: I’m afraid that it didn’t take any foresight because it has been going along a long time. Take the US invasion of South Vietnam. Did you ever see that phrase in the media? We invaded South Vietnam, when John F. Kennedy in 1962 authorized bombing of South Vietnam by the US air force, authorized napalm, authorized chemical warfare to destroy crops, started driving peasants into what we called strategic hamlets - it’s basically concentration camps where they were surrounded by barbwire to protect them from the guerrillas who the government knew very well they were supporting. What we would have called that if someone else did it.

But it’s now over 50 years. I doubt that the phrase ‘invasion of South Vietnam’ has ever appeared in the press.  I think that a totalitarian state would barely be able or in fact wouldn’t be able to achieve such conformity. And this is at the critical end. I’m not talking about the ones who said there was a noble cause and we were stabbed in the back. Which generally Obama now says.

RT: It’s become so sophisticated, but I don’t know maybe be?ause I am younger and I’ve seen it only in the last 10 years in the post 9-11 world. With the internet do you see the reversal of this trend when people are going to be making this form of media propaganda irrelevant? Or do you see a worsening?

NC: The internet gives options, which is good, but the print media gave plenty of options, you could read illicit journals if you wanted to. The internet gives you the opportunity to read them faster, that’s good. But if you think back over the shift from say of the invention of the printing press there was a much greater step then the invention of the internet.

That was a huge change, the internet is another change, a smaller one. It has multiple characteristics. So on the one hand it does give access to a broader range of commentary, information if you know what to look for. You have to know what to look for, however. On the other hand it provides a lot of material, well let’s put it politely, off the wall. And how a person without background, framework, understanding, isolated, alone supposed to decide?

RT: Another form of propaganda is education. You’ve said that the more educated you are the more indoctrinated you are and that propaganda is largely directed towards the educated. How dangerous is it to have an elite ruling class with the illusion of knowledge advancing their own world view on humanity?

NC: It’s old as the hills. Every form of society had some kind of privileged elite, who claimed to be the repositories of the understanding and knowledge and wanted control of what they called the rebel. To make sure that the people don’t have thoughts like ‘we want to be ruled by countrymen like ourselves, not by knights and gentlemen’.

So therefore there are major propaganda systems. It is quite striking that propaganda is most developed and sophisticated in the more free societies. The public relations industry, which is the advertising industry is mostly propaganda, a lot of it is commercial propaganda but also thought control.

That developed in Britain and the US – two of the freest societies. And for a good reason. It was understood roughly a century ago that people have won enough freedom so you just can’t control them by force.

Therefore you have to control beliefs and attitudes, it’s the next best thing. It has always been done, but it took a leap forward about a century ago with the development of these huge industries devoted to, as their leaders put it, to the engineering of content. If you read the founding documents of the PR industry, they say: ‘We have to make sure that the general public are incompetent, they are like children, if you let them run their own affairs they will get into all kind of trouble.

The world has to be run by the intelligent minority, and that’s us, therefore we have to regiment their minds, the way the army regiments its soldiers, for their own good. Because you don’t let a three-year-old run into the street, you can’t let people run their own affairs.’ And that’s a standard idea, it has taken one or another form over the centuries. And in the US it has institutionalized into major industries. 

evil monsanto

Monsanto's actions truly affect each of us. They put their profits over the need for healthy foods, diverse seed supplies and the stability of the agricultural economy. They employ a variety of tools to control access to seeds and aggressively push genetically modified organisms (GMOs) and toxic chemicals despite serious safety concerns about them. And they accomplish this with great help from the US government.

When President Obama appointed a Monsanto lobbyist, Michael Taylor, as the "food czar" (officially the deputy commissioner for foods) - avoiding the Senate confirmation process, which would have brought public attention to the appointment - it was one more example of how corrupted both parties have become by corporate influence.

A global grassroots movement is building to challenge Monsanto as more people realize that we are in a struggle for our survival. May 25 is a global day of action against Monsanto taking place in hundreds of cities and 41 countries. Monsanto must be stopped before its unfettered greed destroys our health and environment. We urge you to join the effort to stop Monsanto.

Monsanto began as a chemical company in 1901. In the 1930s, it was responsible for some of the most damaging chemicals in our history - polychlorinated biphenyls, or PCB's, and dioxin. According to a Food & Water Watch corporate profile, a single Monsanto plant in Sauget, Illinois, produced 99 percent of PCB's until they were banned in 1976. PCBs are carcinogenic and harmful to multiple organs and systems. They are still illegally dumped into waterways, where they accumulate in plants and food crops, as well as fish and other aquatic organisms, which enter the human food supply. The Sauget plant is now the home of two Superfund sites.

Dioxin is the defoliant used in Vietnam known as Agent Orange. It is one of the most dangerous chemicals known, a highly toxic carcinogen linked to 50 illnesses and 20 birth defects. Between 1962 and 1971, 19 million gallons of Agent Orange were sprayed in Vietnam. A class action lawsuit filed by Vietnam veterans exposed to Agent Orange was settled for $180 million. And a Monsanto plant that made dioxin in Times Beach, Missouri, poisoned the area so greatly that the town has been wiped from the map. Thousands of people had to be relocated and it is now also a superfund site. Consistent with their method of operation, Monsanto has denied responsibility for the harm these chemicals have caused.

Their biggest selling chemical worldwide is the herbicide glyphosate, sold under the name RoundUp. Monsanto markets it as a safe herbicide and has made a fortune from it. Sales of Roundup and other glyphosate-based herbicides accounted for 27 percent of Monsanto's total 2011 net sales. Monsanto engineers genetically modified seeds, branded as "Roundup Ready," to resist Roundup so that the herbicide is absolutely necessary for those who buy these seeds. Roundup Ready seeds have been Monsanto's most successful genetically modified product line and have made Roundup the most widely used herbicide in the history of the world.

Roundup is toxic, known to cause cancer, Parkinson's Disease, birth defects and infertility. A 2012 European Report found that the, "Industry has known from its own studies since the 1980s that glyphosate causes malformations in experimental animals at high doses" and that industry has known "since 1993 that these effects also occur at lower and mid doses." This information was not made public, and both Monsanto and the European government misled people by telling them glyphosate was safe - as did the US government.

In response to Monsanto's denial of this toxicity, Earth Open Source explicitly pointed to studies, including some funded by Monsanto, that showed "glyphosate causes birth defects in experimental animals" and also causes "cancer, genetic damage, endocrine disruption and other serious health effects. Many of these effects are found at very low, physiologically relevant doses."

In addition, farmers are discovering Roundup resistant "super weeds" that are not killed by the herbicide. AnArkansas farmer tells US News "This is not a science fiction thing, this is happening right now. We're creating super weeds." Indeed, there are now 24 Roundup resistant weeds that have been reported. In response to the appearance of these weeds, a report found: "farmers ... use progressively more glyphosate as well as mixtures of other even more toxic herbicides." In fact, farmers who grow genetically modified crops use about 25 percent more herbicides than farmers who use traditional seeds.

Monsanto produces a variety of pesticides that are less well known. Author Jill Richardson reports that these include "a number of chemicals named as Bad Actors by Pesticide Action Network." They include known carcinogens, endocrine disruptors and other toxins such as Alachlor, Acetochlor, Atrazine, Clopyralid, Dicamba and Thiodicarb.

Not only does Monsanto never take responsibility for the impact of its poisonous chemicals, but they do their best to prevent research showing toxic effects. For example, in 2011, Monsanto acquired Beeologics, a company dedicated to restoring the health of the bee population, amid scientific and media speculation that an overuse of pesticides was to blame for dwindling bee populations.

Monsanto also threatens the sustainability of agriculture because its products require the use of larger quantities of water and fossil fuels in farming. While genetically engineered crops are supposed to be more drought resistant, the opposite turns out to be true. Don Huber, a science expert, notes "It takes twice as much water to produce a pound of a Roundup-ready crop soybean plant treated with glyphosate, as it does with soybean plant that's not treated with glyphosate." 

Monsanto's efforts to dominate the market began with buying up the competition as early as 1982. In the decade after the mid-90s, 
Monsanto spent more than $12 billion to buy at least 30 businesses contributing to the decline of independent seed companies. One of the big purchases that consolidated the market was a 1997 purchase of Holden Foundation Seeds and two Holden seed distributors for $1.02 billion. Holden was the country's last big independent producer of foundation seed. The company was in the Holden family for three generations. They produced seed that was planted on about 35 percent of the acreage set aside for corn and were the biggest American producer of foundation corn, the parent seed from which hybrids are made.

Jill Richardson describes how aggressively Monsanto uses their market power "to get seed dealers to not stock many of their competitors' products ... they restrict the seed companies' ability to combine Monsanto's traits with those of their competitors. And, famously, farmers who plant Monsanto's patented seeds sign contracts prohibiting them from saving and replanting their seeds." They promised rebates to farmers who ensured that Monsanto products made up at least 70 percent of their inventory to keep competitors out of the market. As a result of this, through either purchases or forcing competitors into bankruptcy, the number of independent seed producers has dropped from 300 to under 100 since the mid-90s. Monsanto also required that their Roundup Ready seeds be used only with Roundup, thereby keeping generic, less expensive competitors out of the market.

You would think this concentration of industry would lead to antitrust litigation. In fact, shortly after taking office, the Obama administration began an antitrust investigation, taking over from several states that were looking into the market practices of Monsanto. The investigation was announced with much fanfare, but last November,without even a press release, the Department of Justice closed the investigation, leaving us to conclude that it may have been a tactic to thwart state efforts.

At the beginning of the antitrust investigation, there was hope that a marketplace with more diverse seed sources and competition could exist in the future, but with the Obama administration's decision to drop the investigation, Monsanto domination of the market has been given the imprimatur of legality and the abusive practices Monsanto uses to buy or destroy competition have been ratified.At least seven Monsanto officialshave served in government positions. Michael Taylor left the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in 1984 to join King & Spalding, a law firm that lobbies for Monsanto. He returned to the FDA in 1991 and then left again to return to Monsanto in 1994 as their vice president for public policy, only to return to the FDA again as the current "food czar," where he has led major advances for genetically modified foods. Taylor played the lead role in introducing rBGH (bovine growth hormone), which was used to increase cows' milk production, into the US market in the early 90s along with two other Monsanto-FDA door revolvers, Dr. Margaret Miller and Susan Sechen, both from the Office of New Animal Drugs.

But it is not only the revolving door that is the problem. It is also that some top government officials "work" for Monsanto while they are in office. One example took place during the Clinton administration 
when the French government was reluctant to allow Monsanto's seeds on French soil. First the US Trade Representative Charlene Barschefsky urged the French government to allow the seeds. When that did not work, Secretary of State Madeleine Albright lobbied for Monsanto in France. When that failed, President Clinton himself took up the task of giving Prime Minister Lionel Jospin "an earful" about Monsanto. Even that did not work. Finally, Vice President Gore pushed Jospin - who finally gave in.

Monsanto and the Law Courts: Most recently, one legislative victory that enraged people was the Monsanto Protection Act (actually misleadingly named the Farmer Assurance Provision) which was buried in a spending bill earlier this year and which protects Monsanto from the courts. For example, under the new law, federal courts are not allowed to stop the sale or planting of controversial genetically modified seeds, no matter what health issues may arise concerning GMOs in the future. 
UPDATE: Putin Outraged

Even worse, after Russia suspended the import and use of an Monsanto genetically modified cornfollowing a study suggesting a link to breast cancer and organ damage this past September, theRussia Today News Service reported on the Obama regimes response:

“The US House of Representatives quietly passed a last-minute addition to the Agricultural Appropriations Bill for 2013 last week – including a provision protecting genetically modified seeds from litigation in the face of health risks.

The rider, which is officially known as the Farmer Assurance Provision, has been derided by opponents of biotech lobbying as the “Monsanto Protection Act,” as it would strip federal courts of the authority to immediately halt the planting and sale of genetically modified (GMO) seed crop regardless of any consumer health concerns.

The provision, also decried as a “biotech rider,” should have gone through the Agricultural or Judiciary Committees for review. Instead, no hearings were held, and the piece was evidently unknown to most Democrats (who hold the majority in the Senate) prior to its approval as part of HR 993, the short-term funding bill that was approved to avoid a federal government shutdown.”

On 26 March,2013 Obama quietly signed this “Monsanto Protection Act” into law thus ensuring the American people have no recourse against this bio-tech giant as they fall ill by the tens of millions, and many millions will surely end up dying in what this MRNE report calls the greatest agricultural apocalypse in human history as over 90% of feral (wild) bee population in the US has already died out, and up to 80% of domestic bees have died out too.



Read the French and Italian studies on GMOs. 

They are dangerous, toxic, and deadly. 

They cause neurological problems as well as mobility issues. 

Nobody should eat GMOs as it is like playing Russian roulette with your health. 

Many countries in Africa have rejected GMOs, the same with the EU, and Russia. 

China recently burned three ship loads of GM corn. 

French cattle were dying from eating genetically modified grass. Surely that should tell us something??????? 

Wake up. Some in Congress are considering repealing the Monsanto Protection Act. 

Citizens must KNOW that the Act would prevent a class action lawsuit because of health problems created by GMO foods. 


They also cause neurological and mobility issues. AVOID if you value your life. 

No one should want to become part of the growing culture of SICKNESS in our world. 

Haiti, much of Africa, the EU, and Russia are against GMOs. 

China recently burned three ship loads of GMO corn. Fantastic. 

Monsanto officials are CRIMINALS and their behaviour is repugnant. 

Every activist must warn others about these changes in our food system. 

250 000 Indian farmers have committed suicide in the last year. Dreadful. 

Our world needs to wake up and realize franken foods are DANGEROUS, TOXIC and DEADLY. 

Lobby all elected representatives.

The Palestine Liberation Movement is not about Anti-Semitism

By Paul Larudee

May 24, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" - - I don’t disagree that the cowardly removal by Aljazeera ofeverything written by Joseph Massad is a travesty of justice and journalism and that their reinstatement is justified.  But why was Massad trying to defend Palestinian rights based upon them being “the last of the Semites?”

The term “Semite” was born of the assumption that all the languages of the world are the result of the sons of Noah – Shem, Ham and Japheth – going to different parts of the globe after the flood and creating different language groups: Semitic, Hamitic and Japhetic.  The sons of Noah?  Are we seriously entertaining such nonsense?

To make matters worse, this absurdity was extended to fictitious “races,” not just languages.  “Anti-Semitic” therefore is descriptive of the Hamitic and Japhetic races turning on the descendents of Shem, the third brother.  No one seriously speaks of Hamitic and Japhetic races.  Is it not time to recognize the absurdity of the Semitic “race” as well?

Even more absurd is the attempt to use such mythological concepts to measure the virtue of the Palestinian cause.  The Palestinian cause has nothing to do with Jews, Semites, anti-Semitism, God, Abraham, Jesus, Mohammed, Moses, Noah, Jacob, Ishmael, Shem, Ham and Japheth, whether you believe in them or not.  It has nothing to do with the Holocaust, colonialism, the Romans, the Byzantines, the Arabs, the Crusaders, the Turks or the British.

It has everything to do with the expulsion of Palestinians from their land and with denial of their right to sovereignty, to self-determination and above all their Right to Return.  It does not matter who expelled them.  It is their land and they have the right to return.  It does not matter who denies their existence.  They have a right to return.

It does not even matter if they are nice people or despicable, whether they are racists or humanists, whether they are Muslims, Christians, Jews, Buddhist or Shinto, whether they are clean or dirty, educated or ignorant, rich or poor, democrats or monarchists.  They have the right to return to their homes and to reclaim their country.

Their rights cannot be held hostage to the rights of others.  If justice for Palestinians cannot be bought at the price of injustice for others, neither can justice for others be bought at the price of injustice to Palestinians.  Justice may be indivisible, but we need not wait for justice to happen everywhere in order for it to happen in Palestine.

Palestinians cannot wait for CO2 levels to drop below 350 parts per million, nor for the population of blue whales to rise, nor for the persecution of Rohingyas to end in Myanmar, nor even for ethnic cleansing to end in Congo, nor for the European victims of World War II and their descendants to be made whole, nor for indigenous peoples everywhere to regain their rights and heritage.

Justice may be indivisible, but the restoration of justice anywhere raises the level of justice everywhere.  The restoration of justice in Palestine benefits the entire world and gives hope to justice that is still struggling to restore itself in other places and to other peoples.

Anti-Semitism is no more relevant to Palestinian liberation than anti-Hamitism or Anti-Japhetism or any other attempt to gauge the worthiness of the Palestinian cause by its endorsement or rejection of someone else’s values. 

Please remove such irrelevance from the discussion of Palestinian rights.

Paul Larudee is one of the founders of the Free Gaza and Free Palestine Movements and an organizer in the International Solidarity Movement.

j. saba·Comment on Information Clearing House site:

I am a Palestinian whose parents and elder siblings were forced out of their home in 1948. In my humble opinion this is by far the best possible article (above) I have ever read that sets forth the Palestinian problem simply, clearly concisely and most of all morally and truthfully. Unfortunately, in this corrupt world of ours complications are artificially produced to obscure and tragically, many Palestinian writers unwittingly took the bait and further complicated a very simple and tragic situation. God bless you Mr. Larudee. If this world had more people like you we wouldn't have any problems. I'm sure of that.

Here follows one of the very best of Irish journalists, Finian Cunningham and Frank Scott's among others and the most recent of Gilad Atzmon's superb articles


A Post-Racial Anthology?

Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry


Angles of Ascent: A Norton Anthology of Contemporary African American Poetry, ed. by Charles Henry Rowell.?
W.W. Norton. $24.95.

This is a bizarre collection. It seems that it has been pulled together as a relentless “anti” to one thing: the Black Arts Movement. Charles Henry Rowell’s introduction and many of the quotes he gleans are aimed at rendering the Black Arts Movement as old school, backward, fundamentally artless. He calls his poets “literary,” i.e., Black Literary poets.

The blurb from the publisher W.W. Norton says that the book

is not just another poetry anthology. It is a gathering of poems that demonstrate what happens when writers in a marginalized community collectively turn from dedicating their writing to political, social, and economic struggles, and instead devote themselves, as artists, to the art of their poems and to the ideas they embody. These poets bear witness to the interior landscape of their own individual selves or examine the private or personal worlds of? invented personae and, therefore, of? human beings living in our modern and postmodern worlds.

My God, what imbecilic garbage! You mean, forget the actual world, have nothing to do with the real world and real people????...????invent it all! You can see how that would be some far-right instruction for “a marginalized community,” especially one with the history of the Afro-American people: We don’t want to hear all that stuff????...????make up a pleasanter group of beings with pleasanter, more literary lives than yourselves and then we will perhaps consider it art!

This embarrassing gobbledygook was probably a paraphrase of the editor’s personal gobble. But the copywriters might be given a temporary pass because they know nothing about Afro-American literature; ?it is the Norton “suits” that could be looked at askance because of their ignorant hiring practices.

To get a closer view of where Rowell comes in, look at the quote that he gives from the poet he constantly cites as poetic mentor and as an example of what great poetry should be. The quote is where Rowell got the title of the book, Angles of Ascent:

He strains, an awk-
ward patsy, sweating strains
        leaping falling. Then?—?

        silken rustling in the air, 
the angle of ascent
                         —?From For a Young Artist, by Robert Hayden

Rowell says this is an image for the poet’s struggle and transcendence. But Lord, I never did see myself or the poets I admired and learned from as awkward patsies! In 1985, Rowell had Larry Neal on the cover of his literary magazine Callaloo, after Larry’s death from a heart attack at forty-three. You can look in the magazine and see that Larry Neal was no “awkward patsy.” Or that after leaping?/?falling we would not be glorified by some unidentified “silken rustling in the air,?/?the angle of ascent?/?achieved.” Actually it sounds like some kind of social climbing. Ascent to where, a tenured faculty position?

Rowell’s attempt to analyze and even compartmentalize Afro-American poetry is flawed from the jump. He has long lived as the continuing would-be yelp of a Robert Hayden canonization. Back in 1966 I was invited to Fisk University, where Hayden and Rowell taught. I had been invited by Nikki Giovanni, who was still a student at Fisk.Gwen Brooks was there. Hayden and I got into it when he said he was first an artist and then he was Black. I challenged that with the newly-emerging ideas that we had raised at the Black Arts Repertory Theatre School in Harlem in 1965, just after Malcolm X’s assassination. We said the art we wanted to create should be identifiably, culturally Black?—?like Duke Ellington’s or Billie Holiday’s. We wanted it to be a mass art, not hidden away on university campuses. We wanted an art that could function in the ghettos where we lived. And we wanted an art that would help liberate Black people. ?I remember that was really a hot debate, and probably helped put an ideological chip on Rowell’s shoulder.

I find the list of what Rowell calls “Precursors” quite flawed, but it predicts and even prefaces his explanations and choices. He lists Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Hayden, andMelvin B. Tolson. But how can one exclude Langston Hughes, Sterling Brown, andMargaret Walker, who are the major poets of the period after the Harlem Renaissance? This kind of cherry-picking reveals all too clearly what Rowell means by “literary” poets.

Brooks’s most penetrating works illuminate Black life and the “hood.” Langston, most people know, is the major voice of that period and what we mean when we talk about Afro-American poetry. What is distinctive about Rowell’s introduction is that just about every page mentions the “Black Arts Movement,” “the Black Aesthetic poets,” “the Black Power Movement”?—?all like some menacing ?political institutions. But that poetry was created in a different time, place, and condition from the verse that Rowell presents here as new ?revelation.

Rowell goes on:

In other words, the works of these new poets are the direct results of what such poets as Yusef Komunyakaa, Ai, Cyrus Cassells, Rita Dove, Thylias Moss, Toi Derricotte, Harryette Mullen, Nathaniel Mackey?—?the first wave?—?dared write, which is whatever they wanted and in whatever forms and styles they desired, as the influence of the Black Arts Movement was first entering its decline.

But this is simply a list of poets Rowell likes. I cannot see any stylistic tendency that would render them a “movement” or a coherent aesthetic. Perhaps their only commonality is their “resistance” to the Black Arts Movement. Komunyakaa says:

Growing up in the South, having closely observed what hatred does to the human spirit, how it corrupts and diminishes????...?????I unconsciously disavowed any direct association with the Black Arts Movement.

Are we being faulted for “hating” slavery, white supremacy, and racism? For trying to fight back, just as the Deacons for Defense and Justice did by routing the Klan in Komunyakaa’s own hometown of Bogalusa, Louisiana?

(Ironically, one of Komunyakaa’s early books was sent to me by a university publisher to ask my opinion if should it be published. My colored patriotism bade me recommend it, though in truth I found it dull and academic.)

But Rita Dove does go on to say something that seems true:

By the time I started to write seriously, when I was I was eighteen or nineteen years old, the Black Arts Movement had gained momentum; notice had been taken. The time was ripe; all one had to do was walk up to the door they had been battering at and squeeze through the breech.


Dove spells out her separation from the Black Arts Movement very honestly, in revealing class terms:

As I wrote more and more????...????I realized that the blighted urban world inhabited by the poems of the Black Arts Movement was not mine. I had grown up in Ohio????...????I enjoyed the gamut of middle class experience, in a comfy house with picket fences and rose bushes on a tree-lined street in West Akron.

But that is not the actual life of the Black majority, who have felt the direct torture and pain of national oppression, and that is what the Black Arts Movement was focusing on, transforming the lives of the Black majority! We wanted to aid in the liberation of the Afro-American people with our art, with our poetry. But the deeper we got into the reality of this task, the more overtly political we became.

The lynching of Emmett Till, Rosa Parks’s resistance, Dr. King and the Montgomery Bus Boycott (the peoples’ resistance), the bombing of ?Dr. King’s home in Montgomery. The sit-ins, sclc, the Civil Rights Movement. The emergence of Robert F. Williams and his direct attack on the Klan. The emergence of Malcolm X. I went to Cuba on the first anniversary of the Cuban revolution. The rise and murder of Patrice Lumumba, the African Liberation Movement. I met poets like Askia M. Touré and Larry Neal in front of the un screaming our condemnation of the us, the un, Belgium, Rockefeller for murdering Lumumba and our support for Maya Angelou, Louise Meriwether, Rosa Guy, Abbey Lincoln (all great artists), running up into the un to defy Ralph Bunche. The March on Washington, the bombing 0f 16th St. Baptist Church and the murder of four little girls. JFK’s assassination, Watts, Malcolm’s assassination, Dr. King’s ?assassination, rebellions across America!

All those major events we lived through. If we responded to them as conscious Black intellectuals, we had to try to become soldiers ?ourselves. That is why we wrote the way we did, because we wanted to. We wanted to get away from the faux English academic straitjackets ?passed down to us by the Anglo-American literary world.

Rowell thinks the majority of Afro-American poets are MFA recipients or professors. Wrong again! Obviously the unity and struggle in the civil rights and Black Liberation movements have resulted in a slight wiggle of “integration” among the narrowest sector of the Afro-American people. Rowell gives us a generous helping of these ?university types, many co-sanctioned by the Cave Canem group, which has energized us poetry by claiming a space for Afro-American poetry, but at the same time presents a group portrait of Afro-American poets as mfa recipients.

Rowell organizes his view of Afro-American poetry like this:precursors, Modernists, 1940s–1960s; the black arts movement, The 1960s and Beyond. There’s me, Mari Evans, Nikki Giovanni, Bobb Hamilton, David Henderson, Calvin C. Hernton, Haki Madhubuti, Larry Neal, Carolyn Rodgers, Sonia Sanchez, A.B. Spellman, and Edward S. Spriggs. Where is the great Henry Dumas or Amus Mor, who inspired a whole generation of us? Where are the Last Poets, whether the originals Gylan Kain, David Nelson, Felipe Luciano or the later incarnation Abiodun Oyewole, or Umar Bin Hassan? Most of the poets in the ground-shaking anthology that tried to sum up the Black Arts breakthrough, Black Fire, are nixed.

Of the group “Outside the Black Arts Movement,” Bob Kaufman and LeRoi Jones(Rowell omits Ted Joans) were called “the Black Beats” and had already formed, under the influence of William Carlos Williams, Langston Hughes, and the surrealists, a united front against academic poetry with Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, the San Francisco school, O’Hara and the New York School, Charles Olson and the Black Mountain poets. It was the murder of Malcolm X that sent me and other Black artists screaming out of the various Greenwich Villages to a variety of Harlems!

We saw poets like June Jordan as allies. Check her statement in this anthology: “Poetry is a political act because it involves telling the truth.” Lucille Clifton and I were classmates at Howard, taught by the great Sterling Brown, as were Toni Morrison and A.B. Spellman. Brown’s fundamental insight on America flows through our works.

That Rowell can disconnect Etheridge Knight from the deep spirit of the Black Arts Movement is fraudulent. Sherley Anne Williams says in her blurb, “I remain, more firmly now than then, a proponent of Black consciousness, of ‘The Black Aesthetic’ and so I am a political writer.” You ever read Alice Walker’s marvelous poem “Each One Pull One”?

Because when we show what we see,
they will discern the inevitable:
We do not worship them

We do not worship them.
We do not worship what they have made.
We do not trust them
we do not believe what they say.

It is this spirit that aligns both of ?them with the Black Arts Movement. And certainly it is this same spirit of self-conscious resistance to American racial or gender craziness that puts Ntozake Shange in that number. The Black Arts spirit is old, it is historical, psychological, ?intellectual, cultural. It is the same as Black Abolitionist Henry Highland Garnet’s call in 1843 in his “Address to the Slaves of the United States”: “resistance, resistance, resistance.”

Jayne Cortez is obviously close to the spirit of the Black Arts Movement, in the content and force of her poetry, although Rowell stays away from her best known works.Lorenzo Thomas, who ?actually identified with the Black Arts Movement, is likewise dissed. It is the spirit of resistance, of unity and struggle that connects us. And where is the mighty Sekou Sundiata, whom I first met when he was sixteen at a meeting for those getting ready to go to the 6th Pan African Congress in Dar es Salaam? One of the finest poets of his generation, and not even a mention. Plus no mention of Marvin X, who founded Black Arts West in 1966 with Ed Bullins.

Gaston Neal, criminally underknown, was also director of the New School for Afro-American Thought in dc. His work has yet to be published in its collected version. If you don’t know Sun Ra’s music, it’s doubtful you know his own powerful verse. Other missing significant: Arthur Pfister. Tom Mitchelson, Kalamu ya Salaam, Amina Baraka, Brian Gilmore, Mervyn Taylor, Lamont Steptoe, John Watusi Branch, Everett Hoagland, Devorah Major, Kenneth Carroll, DJ Renegade, Safiya Henderson-Holmes, Charlie Braxton. Where is Nikki Finney? Or the bard of ?Trenton, Doc Long?

Outside the Black Arts Movement” (italics mine)? What the Black Arts Movement did was to set a paradigm for the Black artist to be an artist and a soldier. This is what I said at Louis Reyes Rivera’s funeral:

We must urge our artists and scholars????...????our most advanced folks fighting for equal rights and self-determination????...????to create ?an art and scholarship that is historically and culturally authentic, ?that is public and for the people, that is revolutionary.

A sharp class distinction has arisen, producing a mini-class of Blacks who benefited most by the civil rights and Black Liberation movements, thinking and acting as if our historic struggle has been won so that they can become as arrogant and ignorant as the worst examples of white America.

It is obvious, as well, looking through this book, that it has been little touched by the last twenty years of Afro-American life, since it shows little evidence of the appearance of spoken word and rap. ?E.G. Bailey, Jessica Care Moore, Ras Baraka, Ewuare X. Osayande, Zayid Muhammad, Taalam Acey, Rasim Allah, Black Thought, Daniel Beatty, Saul Williams, and Staceyann Chin are all missing. This “new American poetry” is mostly dull as a stick.

Rowell’s icy epilogue is too comic to be tragic, though it is both. It is a cold class dismissal by would-be mainstream Negroes on the path to mediocrity:

Without the fetters of narrow political and social demands that have nothing to do with the production of artistic texts, black American poets, since the Civil Rights Movement and Black Power Movement, have created an extraordinary number of ?aesthetically deft poems that both challenge the concept of “the American poem” and extend the dimensions of American poetry.

This is poppycock at its poppiest and cockiest. You mean the struggle for our humanity is a fetter (to whom? Negroes seeking tenure in these white schools who dare not mumble a cross word?). Why is the struggle for equal rights and self-determination narrow? To whom? Racists? You think Fred Douglass was not one of the greatest artists of the nineteenth century because he kept demanding an end to slavery? Bah, Humbug!

As for the Black Power movement’s “death,” last I heard we have an Afro-American president who has taught the Republicans the value of community organizing twice. But what Rowell proves is that the old Black-White dichotomy is in the past, at least on the surface. The struggle, as my wife Amina always says, is about whose side you’re on. Romney and them lost because they don’t even know what country they’re in. Neither does Charles Rowell.

Originally Published: May 1, 2013

VideoGlenda Jackson and George Galloway on Thatcher -" tramp down the dirt."

"Glenda Jackson let rip with an attack on Thatcher and her "heinous" legacy that had the Tories gasping as if a drunk had gate-crashed their wake."


An analyst says the Taliban had eradicated poppy fields prior to 2001 and now Washington plans permanent occupation of Afghanistan to maintain control of its opium empire?

In the background of this the United Nations has advised that opium cultivation in Afghanistan has increased for the third year in a row. The report said poppy cultivation was highest in regions where US-led troops had been stationed over the past years, which is mostly in the southern parts. Last year Afghanistan supplied about 75 percent of the global supply of heroin, a derivative of opium, which is expected to jump to 90 percent this year due to the increased cultivation.

Press TV has interviewed Stephen Lendman, writer and radio host, Chicago about this issue and who is behind it all. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.
Press TV: The issue here is who is responsible for this increased poppy cultivation. Is it the Taliban militants; is it the foreign forces; is it the weak Afghan government?
Lendman: There is no question who has responsibility for what’s going on. Washington has responsibility; the major banks in New York, Wall Street banks have responsibility. The US government conspires with them. The banks launder the money. America reinstituted the planting of poppy fields. The CIA is deeply involved. It uses drug money to finance its operations. This is the dark side of the heroin trade, the opium replantings. It has nothing to do with the Taliban. It wanted it eradicated, but you’ll never hear this type of report in the US media.
Press TV: We know the date for withdrawal is nearing for foreign forces, although not all of them are expected to withdraw, but do you think that with this withdrawal we are going to see a change with these figures in poppy cultivation at least in the near future?
Lendman: America came to Afghanistan to stay. It will draw down its forces, but permanent occupation is planned. As far as the opium plantings, absolutely not, they will keep going as long as America has any control of the country.
And the ordinary Afghan people and other people in other countries around the world will suffer most.

UM Coach: Bomb Sniffing Dogs, Spotters on Roofs Before Boston Marathon Explosions

By Local 15

University of Mobile’s Cross Country Coach, who was near the finish line of the Boston Marathon when a series of explosions went off, said he thought it was odd there were bomb sniffing dogs at the start and finish lines.

"They kept making announcements to the participants do not worry, it's just a training exercise," Coach Ali Stevenson told Local 15.

Has the FBI ever presided over "sting operations" that were actually carried out? The answer is yes. The FBI in fact was presiding over the terrorists who carried out the 1993 World Trade Center bombing. The role of the FBI leading up to the deadly attack would most likely have gone unreported had an FBI informant not taped his conversations with FBI agents after growing suspicious during the uncover operation. The New York Times in their article, "Tapes Depict Proposal to Thwart Bomb Used in Trade Center Blast," reported: 

Law-enforcement officials were told that terrorists were building a bomb that was eventually used to blow up the World Trade Center, and they planned to thwart the plotters by secretly substituting harmless powder for the explosives, an informer said after the blast.

The informer was to have helped the plotters build the bomb and supply the fake powder, but the plan was called off by an F.B.I. supervisor who had other ideas about how the informer, Emad A. Salem, should be used, the informer said.

The account, which is given in the transcript of hundreds of hours of tape recordings Mr. Salem secretly made of his talks with law-enforcement agents, portrays the authorities as in a far better position than previously known to foil the Feb. 26 bombing of New York City's tallest towers. The explosion left six people dead, more than 1,000 injured and damages in excess of half a billion dollars.

What takes shape is an FBI at the center of perpetuating America's terror menace, not at the forefront of fighting it. 

Robert Rogers
 ·  Top CommenterAnother strange thing, is that yesterday the one doctor who was giving a press conference was saying that all they were removing from the victims was "environmental debris," and today it is "BB's and Nails." I think it should be pretty obvious from the beginning what you are removing from the victims. So what is it with that BS misdirect?

Miracles of the Market: Social Insecurity

During the twentieth century near collapse of capitalism - the Great Depression - relatively enlightened forces of wealth initiated programs to prevent total breakdown and possible revolution. Among these was the origin in America of what already existed in Europe: a proposal to help elders from entering the poorhouse when they were no longer able to work. Known as “social security” it became one of the most popular of the New Deal programs of the FDR administration.
These programs all helped free market capitalism survive by humanizing its most obvious forms of economic savagery and placing the expense for what was called social democracy on the great body of taxpayers, with slight tax increases for the richest americans who could easily afford them. Only the most slack-jawed reactionaries opposed these policies but even some critics grudgingly accepted that older people dropping dead in the streets wouldn’t look good and might even cost private insurers far more than would make it a profitable investment for venture capital of the day. That support from the past has been fading in the present as everything that tried to humanize capitalism is under attack in a revival of fundamentalist free market policies. Worse, the supposed representative of the common people, a corporate hype called the Democratic Party, has a leader even more gutless than the usual occupant of subsidized housing at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. This purveyor of twisted tongue speeches that sound good until analysis reveals their hollow rhetoric and whose practice amounts to no material substance has turned against that program. As in all present assaults on capitalism’s really anti-social safety net, he professes to improve the program by cutting it, the way a hospital life support system is improved by cutting off the air supply of the patient. Not only does the social security system have none of the problems alleged by panic mongering billionaires and their political and media servants, it would remain solvent for generations if the tax system were adjusted to become progressive instead of harshly regressive. At present, income is taxed only up to 113 thousand dollars, which means a person making 226 thousand pays half the rate of someone earning that figure, and far less than someone earning only ten thousand. Billionaires and their servant millionaires pay a rate infuriatingly lower than that paid by laborers, service workers, and almost all of the professional class.Frank Scott.



By Gilad Atzmon

Jewish power is the unique capacity to stop us from discussing or even contemplating Jewish power. It is the capacity to determine the boundaries of the political discourse and criticism in particular.

In his new book, “The Invention Of The Land of Israel”, Israeli academic Shlomo Sand, manages to present conclusive evidence of the far fetched nature of the Zionist historical narrative - that the Jewish Exile is a myth as is the Jewish people and even the Land of Israel.

Yet, Sand and many others fail to address the most important question: If Zionism is based on myth, how do the Zionists manage to get a way with their lies, and for so long?

If the Jewish ‘homecoming’ and the demand for a Jewish national homeland cannot be historically substantiated, why has it been supported by both Jews and the West for so long? How does the Jewish state manage for so long to celebrate its racist expansionist ideology and at the expense of the Palestinian and Arab peoples?

Jewish power is obviously one answer, but, what is Jewish power? Can we ask this question without being accused of being Anti Semitic? Can we ever discuss its meaning and scrutinize its politics? Is Jewish Power a dark force, managed and maneuvered by some conspiratorial power? Is it something of which Jews themselves are shy? Quite the opposite - Jewish power, in most cases, is celebrated right in front of our eyes. As we know, AIPAC is far from being quiet about its agenda, its practices or its achievements. AIPAC, CFI in the UK and CRIF in France are operating in the most open manner and often openly brag about their success.

Furthermore, we are by now accustomed to watch our democratically elected leaders shamelessly queuing to kneel before their pay-masters. Neocons certainly didn’t seem to feel the need to hide their close Zionist affiliations. Abe Foxman’s Anti Defamation League (ADL) works openly towards the Judification of the Western discourse, chasing and harassing anyone who dares voice any kind of criticism of Israel or even of Jewish choseness. And of course, the same applies to the media, banking and Hollywood. We know about the many powerful Jews who are not in the slightest bit shy about their bond with Israel and their commitment to Israeli security, the Zionist ideology, the primacy of Jewish suffering, Israeli expansionism and even outright Jewish exceptionalism.

But, as ubiquitous as they are, AIPAC, CFI, ADL, Bernie Madoff,‘liberator’ Bernard Henri Levy, war-advocate David Aaronovitch, free market prophet Milton Friedman, Steven Spielberg, Haim Saban, Lord Levy and many other Zionist enthusiasts and Hasbara advocates are not necessarily the core or the driving force behind Jewish Power, but are merely symptoms. Jewish power is actually far more sophisticated than simply a list of Jewish lobbies or individuals performing highly developed manipulative skills.Jewish power is the unique capacity to stop us from discussing or even contemplating Jewish power. It is the capacity to determine the boundaries of the political discourse and criticism in particular.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not ‘right wing’ Zionists who facilitate Jewish power, It is actually the ‘good’, the ‘enlightened’ and the ‘progressive’ who make Jewish power the most effective and forceful power in the land. It is the ‘progressives’ who confound our ability to identify the Judeocentric tribal politics at the heart of Neoconservatism, American contemporary imperialism and foreign policy. It is the so-called ‘anti’ Zionist who goes out of his or her way to divert our attention from the fact that Israel defines itself as the Jewish State and blinds us to the fact that its tanks are decorated with Jewish symbols. It was the Jewish Left intellectuals who rushed to denounce Professors Mearsheimer and Walt, Jeff Blankfort and James Petras’ work on the Jewish Lobby. And it is no secret that Occupy AIPAC, the campaign against the most dangerous political Lobby in America, is dominated by a few righteous members of the chosen tribe. We need to face up to the fact that our dissident voice is far from being free. Quite the opposite, we are dealing here with an institutional case of controlled opposition.

In George Orwell’s 1984, it is perhaps Emmanuel Goldstein who is the pivotal character. Orwell’s Goldstein is a Jewish revolutionary, a fictional Leon Trotsky. He is depicted as the head of a mysterious anti-party organization called “The Brotherhood” and is also the author of the most subversive revolutionary text (The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism). Goldstein is the ‘dissenting voice’, the one who actually tells the truth. Yet, as we delve into Orwell’s text, we find out from Party’s ‘Inner Circle’ O’Brien that Goldstein was actually invented by Big Brother in a clear attempt to control the opposition and the possible boundaries of dissidence.

Orwell’s personal account of the Spanish Civil War “Homage To Catalonia” clearly presaged the creation of Emmanuel Goldstein. It was what Orwell witnessed in Spain that, a decade later, matured into a profound understanding of dissent as a form of controlled opposition. My guess is that, by the late 1940’s, Orwell had understood the depth of intolerance, and tyrannical and conspiratorial tendencies that lay at the heart of ‘Big Brother-ish’ Left politics and praxis.

Surprisingly enough, an attempt to examine our contemporaneous controlled opposition within the Left and the Progressive reveal that it is far from being a conspiratorial. Like in the case of the Jewish Lobby, the so-called ‘opposition’ hardly attempts to disguise its ethno-centric tribal interests, spiritual and ideological orientation and affiliation.

A brief examination of the list of organisations founded by George Soros’ Open Society Institute (OSI) presents a grim picture – pretty much the entire American progressive network is funded, partially or largely by a liberal Zionist, philanthropic billionaire who supports very many good and important causes that are also very good for the Jews. And yet, like staunch Zionist Haim Saban, Soros does not operate clandestinely. His Open Society Institute proudly provides all the necessary information regarding the vast amount of shekels it spreads on its good and important causes.

So one can’t accuse Soros or the Open Society Institute of any sinister vetting the political discourse, stifling of free speech or even to ‘controlling the opposition’. All Soros does is to support a wide variety of ‘humanitarian causes’: Human Rights, Women’s Rights. Gay Rights, equality, democracy, Arab ‘Spring’, Arab Winter, the oppressed, the oppressor, tolerance, intolerance, Palestine, Israel, anti war, pro-war (only when really needed), and so on.

As with Orwell’s Big Brother that frames the boundaries of dissent by means of control opposition, Soros’ Open Society also determines, either consciously or unconsciously, the limits of critical thought. Yet, unlike in 1984, where it is the Party that invents its own opposition and write its texts, within our ‘progressive’ discourse, it is our own voices of dissent, willingly and consciously, that are compromising their principles.

Soros may have read Orwell - he clearly believes his message – because from time to time he even supports opposing forces. For instance, he funds the Zionist-lite J Street as well as Palestinian NGO organisations. And guess what? It never takes long for the Palestinian beneficiaries to, compromise their own, most precious principles so they fit nicely into their paymaster’s worldview.

The Visible Hand

The invisible hand of the market is a metaphor coined by Adam Smith to describe the self-regulating behaviour of the marketplace. In contemporary politics. The visible hand is a similar metaphor which describes the self-regulating tendency of the political-fund beneficiary, to fully integrate the world view of its benefactor into its political agenda.

Democracy Now, the most important American dissident outlet has never discussed the Jewish Lobby with Mearsheimer, Walt, Petras or Blankfort - the four leading experts who could have informed the American people about the USA’s foreign policy domination by the Jewish Lobby. For the same reasons, Democracy Now wouldn’t explore the Neocon’s Judeo-centric agenda nor would it ever discuss Jewish Identity politics with yours truly. Democracy Now will host Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein, it may even let Finkelstein chew up Zionist caricature Alan Dershowitz – all very good, but not good enough.

Is the fact that Democracy Now is heavily funded by Soros relevant? I’ll let you judge.

If I’m correct (and I think I am) we have a serious problem here. As things stand, it is actually the progressive discourse, or at least large part of it.  that sustains Jewish Power. If this is indeed the case, and I am convinced it is, then the occupied progressive discourse, rather than Zionism, is the primary obstacle that must be confronted.

It is no coincidence that the ‘progressive’ take on ‘antisemitism’ is suspiciously similar to the Zionist one. Like Zionists, many progressive institutes and activists adhere to the bizarre suggestion that opposition to Jewish power is ‘racially motivated’ and embedded in some ‘reactionary’ Goyish tendency. Consequently, Zionists are often supported by some ‘progressives’ in their crusade against critics of Israel and Jewish power. Is this peculiar alliance between these allegedly opposing schools of thoughts, the outcome of a possible ideological continuum between these two seemingly opposed political ideologies? Maybe, after all, progressiveness like Zionism is driven by a peculiar inclination towards ‘choseness’. After all, being progressive somehow implies that someone else must be ‘reactionary’. It is those self-centric elements of exceptionalism and choseness that have made progressiveness so attractive to secular and emancipated Jews. But the main reason the ‘progressive’ adopted the Zionist take on antisemitism, may well be because of the work of that visible hand that miraculously shapes the progressive take on race, racism and the primacy of Jewish suffering.

We may have to face up to the fact that the progressive discourse effectively operates as Israel’s longest arm - it certainly acts as a gatekeeper and as protection for Zionism and Jewish tribal interests. If Israel and its supporters would ever be confronted with real opposition it might lead to some long-overdue self-reflection. But at the moment, Israel and Zionist lobbies meet only insipid, watered-down, progressively-vetted resistance that, in practice, sustains Israeli occupation, oppression and an endless list of human rights abuses.

Instead of mass opposition to the Jewish State and its aggressive lobby, our ‘resistance’ is reduced into a chain of badge-wearing, keffiyeh-clad, placard-waving mini-gatherings with the occasional tantrum from some neurotic Jewess while being videoed by another good Jew. If anyone believes that a few badges, a load of amateur Youtube clips celebrating Jewish righteousness are going to evolve into a mass anti-Israel global movement, they are either naďve or stupid.

In fact, a recent Gallup poll revealed that current Americans' sympathy for Israel has reached an All-Time High. 64% of Americans sympathise with the Jewish State, while only 12% feel for the Palestinians. This is no surprise and our conclusion should be clear. As far as Palestine is concerned,  ‘progressive’ ideology and praxis have led us precisely nowhere. Rather than advance the Palestinian cause, it only locates the ‘good’ Jew at the centre of the solidarity discourse.

When was the last time a Palestinian freedom fighter appeared on your TV screen? Twenty years ago the Palestinian were set to become the new Che Guevaras. Okay, so the Palestinian freedom fighter didn’t necessarily speak perfect English and wasn’t a graduate of an English public school, but he was free, authentic and determined. He or she spoke about their land being taken and of their willingness to give what it takes to get it back. But now, the Palestinian has been ‘saved’, he or she doesn’t have to fight for his or her their land, the ‘progressive’ is taking care of it all.

This ‘progressive’ voice speaks on behalf of the Palestinian and, at the same time, takes the opportunity to also push marginal politics, fight ‘Islamism’ and ‘religious radicalisation’ and occasionally even supports the odd interventionst war and, of course, always, always, always fights antisemitism. The controlled opposition has turned the Palestinian plight into just one more ‘progressive’ commodity, lying on the back shelf of its ever-growing ‘good-cause’ campaign store.

For the Jewish progressive discourse, the purpose behind pro-Palestinian support is clear. It is to present an impression of pluralism within the Jewish community. It is there to suggest that not all Jews are bad Zionists. Philip Weiss, the founder of the most popular progressive pro-Palestinian blog was even brave enough to admit to me that it is Jewish self -interests that stood at the core of his pro Palestinian activity.

Jewish self-love is a fascinating topic. But even more fascinating is Jewish progressives loving themselves at the expense of the Palestinians. With billionaires such as Soros maintaining the discourse, solidarity is now an industry, concerned with profit and power rather than ethics or values and it is a spectacle both amusing and tragic as the Palestinians become a side issue within their own solidarity discourse.

So, perhaps before we discuss the ‘liberation of Palestine’, we first may have to liberate ourselves.



The oil war: Jean-Pierre Séréni

Thursday, 07 March 2013 20:55 | Image removed by sender. PDF|

The Iraq war was about oil. Recently declassified US government documents confirm this (1), however much US president George W Bush, vice-president Dick Cheney, defence secretary Donald Rumsfeld and their ally, the British prime minister Tony Blair, denied it at the time.

When Bush moved into the White House in January 2001, he faced the familiar problem of the imbalance between oil supply and demand. Supply was unable to keep up with demand, which was increasing rapidly because of the growth of emerging economies such as China and India. The only possible solution lay in the Gulf, where the giant oil-producing countries of Saudi Arabia, Iran and Iraq, and the lesser producing states of Kuwait and Abu Dhabi, commanded 60% of the world’s reserves.

For financial or political reasons, production growth was slow. In Saudi Arabia, the ultra-rich ruling families of the Al-Saud, the Al-Sabah and the Zayed Al-Nayan were content with a comfortable level of income, given their small populations, and preferred to leave their oil underground. Iran and Iraq hold around 25% of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves and could have filled the gap, but were subject to sanctions — imposed solely by the US on Iran, internationally on Iraq — that deprived them of essential oil equipment and services. Washington saw them as rogue states and was unwilling to end the sanctions.

How could the US get more oil from the Gulf without endangering its supremacy in the region? Influential US neoconservatives, led by Paul Wolfowitz, who had gone over to uninhibited imperialism after the fall of the Soviet Union, thought they had found a solution. They had never understood George Bush senior’s decision not to overthrow Saddam Hussein in the first Gulf war in 1991. An open letter to President Bill Clinton, inspired by the Statement of Principles of the Project for the New American Century, a non-profit organisation founded by William Kristol and Robert Kagan, had called for a regime change in Iraq as early as 1998: Saddam must be ousted and big US oil companies must gain access to Iraq. Several signatories to the Statement of Principles became members of the new Republican administration in 2001.

In 2002, one of them, Douglas Feith, a lawyer who was undersecretary of defense to Rumsfeld, supervised the work of experts planning the future of Iraq’s oil industry. His first decision was to entrust its management after the expected US victory to Kellog, Brown & Root, a subsidiary of US oil giant Halliburton, of which Cheney had been chairman and CEO. Feith’s plan, formulated at the start of 2003, was to keep Iraq’s oil production at its current level of 2,840 mbpd (million barrels per day), to avoid a collapse that would cause chaos in the world market.

Privatising oil

Experts were divided on the privatisation of the Iraqi oil industry. The Iraqi government had excluded foreign companies and successfully managed the sector itself since 1972. By 2003, despite wars with Iran (1980-88) and in Kuwait (1990-91) and more than 15 years of sanctions, Iraq had managed to equal the record production levels achieved in 1979-1980.

The experts had a choice — bring back the concession regime that had operated before nationalisation in 1972, or sell shares in the Iraqi National Oil Company (INOC) on the Russian model, issuing transferrable vouchers to the Iraqi population. In Russia, this approach had very quickly led to the oil sector falling into the hands of a few super-rich oligarchs.

Bush approved the plan drawn up by the Pentagon and State Department in January 2003. The much-decorated retired lieutenant general Jay Gardner, was appointed director of the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance, the military administration set up to govern post-Saddam Iraq. Out of his depth, he stuck to short-term measures and avoided choosing between the options put forward by his technical advisers.

Reassuring the oil giants

The international oil companies were not idle. Lee Raymond, CEO of America’s biggest oil company ExxonMobil, was an old friend of Dick Cheney. But where the politicians were daring, he was cautious. The project was a tempting opportunity to replenish the company’s reserves, which had been stagnant for several years, but Raymond had doubts: would Bush really be able to assure conditions that would allow the company to operate safely in Iraq? Nobody at ExxonMobil was willing to die for oil. (Its well-paid engineers do not dream of life in a blockhouse in Iraq.) The company would also have to be sure of its legal position: what would contracts signed by a de facto authority be worth when it would be investing billions of dollars that would take years to recover?

In the UK, BP was anxious to secure its own share of the spoils. As early as 2002 the company had confided in the UK Department of Trade and Industry its fears that the US might give away too much to French, Russian and Chinese oil companies in return for their governments agreeing not to use their veto at the UN Security Council (2). In February 2003 those fears were removed: France’s president Jacques Chirac vetoed a resolution put forward by the US, and the third Iraq war began without UN backing. There was no longer any question of respecting the agreements Saddam had signed with Total and other companies (which had never been put into practice because of sanctions).

To reassure the British and US oil giants, the US government appointed to the management team Gary Vogler of ExxonMobil and Philip J Carrol of Shell. They were replaced in October 2003 by Rob McKee of ConocoPhilips and Terry Adams of BP. The idea was to counter the dominance of the Pentagon, and the influential neocon approach (which faced opposition from within the administration). The neocon ideologues, still on the scene, had bizarre ideas: they wanted to build a pipeline to transport Iraq’s crude oil to Israel, dismantle OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) and even use “liberated” Iraq as a guinea pig for a new oil business model to be applied to all of the Middle East. The engineers and businessmen, whose priorities were profits and results, were more down-to-earth.

In any event, the invasion had a devastating impact on Iraq’s oil production, less because of the bombing by the US air force than because of the widespread looting of government agencies, schools, universities, archives, libraries, banks, hospitals, museums and state-owned enterprises. Drilling rigs were dismantled for the copper parts they were believed to contain. The looting continued from March to May 2003. Only a third of the damage to the oil industry was caused during the invasion; the rest happened after the fighting was over, despite the presence of the RIO Task Force and the US Corps of Engineers with its 500 contractors, specially prepared and trained to protect oil installations. Saddam’s supporters were prevented from blowing up the oil wells by the speed of the invasion, but the saboteurs set to work in June 2003.

Iraq’s one real asset

The only buildings protected were the gigantic oil ministry, where 15,000 civil servants managed 22 subsidiaries of the Iraq National Oil Company. The State Oil Marketing Organisation and the infrastructure were abandoned. The occupiers regarded the oil under the ground as Iraq’s one real asset. They were not interested in installations or personnel. The oil ministry was only saved at the last minute because it housed geological and seismic data on Iraq’s 80 known deposits, estimated to contain 115bn barrels of crude oil. The rest could always be replaced with more modern US-made equipment and the knowhow of the international oil companies, made indispensible by the sabotage.

Thamir Abbas Ghadban, director-general of planning at the oil ministry, turned up at the office three days after the invasion was over, and, in the absence of a minister for oil (since Iraq had no government), was appointed second in command under Micheal Mobbs, a neocon who enjoyed the confidence of the Pentagon. Paul Bremer, the US proconsul who headed Iraq’s provisional government from May 2003 to June 2004, presided over the worst 12 months in the oil sector in 70 years. Production fell by 1 mbpd — more than $13bn of lost income.

The oil installations, watched over by 3,500 underequipped guards, suffered 140 sabotage attacks between May 2003 and September 2004, estimated to have caused $7bn of damage. “There was widespread looting,” said Ghadban. “Equipment was stolen and in most cases the buildings were set on fire.” The Daura refinery, near Baghdad, only received oil intermittently, because of damage to the pipeline network. “We had to let all the oil in the damaged sections of the pipeline burn before we could repair them.” Yet the refinery continued to operate, no mean achievement considering that the workers were no longer being paid.

The senior management of the national oil company also suffered. Until 1952 almost all senior managers of the Iraq Petroleum Company (IPC) were foreigners, who occupied villas in gated and guarded compounds while the local workforce lived in shantytowns. In 1952 tension between Iraq and Muhammad Mossadegh’s Iran led the IPC to review its relations with Baghdad, and a clause of the new treaty concerned the training of Iraqi managers. By 1972, 75% of the thousand skilled jobs were filled by Iraqis, which helped to ensure the success of the IPC’s nationalisation. The new Iraq National Oil Company gained control of the oilfields and production reached unprecedented levels.

Purge of the Ba’ath

After the invasion, the US purged Ba’athist elements from INOC’s management. Simply belonging to the Ba’ath, Iraq’s single political party, which had been in power since 1968, was grounds for dismissal, compulsory retirement or worse. Seventeen of INOC’s 24 directors were forced out, along with several hundred engineers, who had kept production high through wars and foreign sanctions. The founding fathers of INOC were ousted by the Deba’athification Commission, led by former exiles including Iraq’s prime minister Nuri al-Maliki, who replaced them with his own supporters, as incompetent as they were partisan.

Rob McKee, who succeeded Philip J Carrol as oil adviser to the US proconsul, observed in autumn 2003: “The people themselves are patently unqualified and are apparently being placed in the ministry for religious, political or personal reasons... the people who nursed the industry through Saddam’s years and who brought it back to life after the liberation, as well as many trained professionals, are all systematically being pushed to the sidelines” (3).

This purge opened the door to advisers, mostly from the US, who bombarded the oil ministry with notes, circulars and reports directly inspired by the practices of the international oil industry, without much concern for their applicability to Iraq.

The drafting of Iraq’s new constitution and an oil law provided an opportunity to change the rules. Washington had decided in advance to do away with the centralised state, partly because of its crimes against the Kurds under Saddam and partly because centralisation favours totalitarianism. The new federal, or even confederal, regime was decentralised to the point of being de-structured. A two-thirds majority in one of the three provinces allows opposition to veto central government decisions.

Baghdad-Irbil rivalry

Only Kurdistan had the means and the motivation to do so. Where oil was concerned, power was effectively divided between Baghdad and Irbil, seat of the Kurdistan Regional Government (KRG), which imposed its own interpretation of the constitution: deposits already being exploited would remain under federal government control, but new licenses would be granted by the provincial governments. A fierce dispute arose between the two capitals, partly because the KRG granted licenses to foreign oil companies under far more favourable conditions than those offered by Baghdad.

The quarrel related to the production sharing agreements. The usual practice is for foreign companies that provide financial backing to get a share of the oil produced, which can be very significant in the first few years. This was the formula US politicians and oil companies wanted to impose. They were unable to do so.

Iraq’s parliament, so often criticised in other matters, opposed this system; it was supported by public opinion, which had not forgotten the former IPC. Tariq Shafiq, founding father of the INOC, explained to the US Congress the technical reasons for the refusal (4). Iraq’s oil deposits were known and mapped out. There was therefore little risk to foreign companies: there would be no prospecting costs and exploitation costs would be among the lowest in the world. From 2008 onwards, Baghdad started offering major oil companies far less attractive contracts — $2/barrel for the bigger oilfields, and no rights to the deposits.

ExxonMobil, BP, Shell, Total, and Russian, Chinese, Angolan, Pakistani and Turkish oil companies nevertheless rushed to accept, hoping that things would turn to their advantage. Newsweek (24 May 2010) claimed Iraq had the potential to become “the next Saudi Arabia.” But although production is up (over 3 mbpd in 2012), the oil companies are irritated by the conditions imposed on them: investment costs are high, profits are mediocre and the oil still underground is not counted as part of their reserves, which affects their share price.

ExxonMobil and Total disregarded the federal government edict that threatened to strip rights from oil companies that signed production-sharing agreements relating to oilfields in Kurdistan. Worse, ExxonMobil sold its services contract relating to Iraq’s largest oilfield, West Qurna, where it had been due to invest $50bn and double the country’s current production. Baghdad is now under pressure: if it continues to refuse the conditions requested by the foreign oil companies, it will lose out to Irbil, even if Kurdistan’s deposits are only a third of the size of those in the south. Meanwhile, Turkey has done nothing to improve its relations with Iraq by offering to build a direct pipeline from Kurdistan to the Mediterranean. Without the war, would the oil companies have been able to make the Iraqis and Kurds compete? One thing is certain: the US is far from achieving its goals in the oil sector, and in this sense the war was a failure.

Alan Greenspan, who as chairman of the US Federal Reserve from 1987 to 2006 was well placed to understand the importance of oil, came up with the best summary of the conflict: “I am saddened that it is politically inconvenient to acknowledge what everyone knows: the Iraq war is largely about oil” (5).

Source: Le Monde Diplomatique

US Protection Racket Root of Korea Conflict

By Finian Cunningham

April 03, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" -"PTV" - The best way to understand the seemingly reckless, recurring threat of nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula is this: the East Asian region is being run like a Mafia protection racket. And the criminal Mafia is the US.

The conflict emanates from Washington and is perpetuated by Washington. Why? To justify what would otherwise be seen as simply outrageous US militarism in the Asia Pacific hemisphere, and in particular a criminally aggressive agenda towards the main geopolitical targets of Washington - China and Russia. 

Korea’s conflict is not primarily about North and South “enemy states”. It is, as it has been for the past 68 years since the end of World War II, about Washington using military force to criminally assert its hegemony on the global stage.

But you wouldn’t know this from a casual reading of the Western news media. No, we are told over and over again that the US is “protecting” South Korea and its other Asian allies. The military presence of the US is “serving” as a “deterrent” to aggression from a “sinister” North Korea. In this depiction, the US is the good guy, while North Korea is the menacing reprobate that is a scourge on everybody’s well-being and security. Kim Jong-un is the embodiment of the Axis of Evil.

That so-called “quality” news media such as the BBC, New York Times and Guardian can get away with seriously presenting this situation in terms portraying the US as a benevolent force is an astounding feat of reality inversion and brainwashed mind control. The irony is that such media implicitly mock North Korea as a Stalinist “Big Brother” state, where critical thought and expression are forbidden. Yet, these media display the very same habit of mental conformity that they disparage North Korea for. 

As noted above, the only way of properly interpreting the recent weeks of threat and counter-threat of all-out war in Korea is to recall scenes from the classic Mafia movie, The Godfather. You know the drill. The mobster goes around the neighborhood demanding loyalty, respect and tributes “for protection”. If the residents don’t conform to the racket, then the boss arranges self-fulfilling violence to rain down on those who dare to reject his magnanimous “protection”. 

The exact same arrangement applies in Korea under the tutelage of the US. The Peninsula was unilaterally partitioned in 1945 by Washington into North and South statelets because the US could not abide the fact that the Korean population at that time was strongly anti-imperialist and yearning for socialist democracy. That egalitarian sentiment helped the Koreans resist the occupying Japanese imperialists prior to and during World War II. 

Tellingly, in order to assert its hegemony over Korea and the Asia Pacific, the US worked the neighborhood over assiduously in order to defeat the popular movement for independence and democracy that the Korean people exhibited so boldly. Washington achieved this by installing pro-Japanese collaborators as the rulers of newly formed South Korea. Think about that one. The US fought a war allegedly to defeat fascism and imperialism, only to immediately collude with the same political forces to defeat Korean democracy.

The dropping of the atomic bombs by Washington on Hiroshima and Nagasaki was part and parcel of American efforts to demarcate a postwar hegemony in the Asia Pacific to the Soviet Union and China - and this is why Korea was also fractured into two alien states that were then precipitated into war between 1950-53.

That war - in which a third of the northern Korean population were exterminated by American indiscriminate carpet-bombing and napalm incineration - has never officially ended. The armistice signed in 1953 under Washington’s dictate is technically only a ceasefire. For decades, North Korea’s demand for a full peace treaty has been repeatedly rejected by Washington and its South Korean client state. In other words, Washington has retained the implicit prerogative to resume its aerial bombardment of the North Korean population at any time it chooses. That constitutes a constant threat, or a policy of state terrorism by Washington. 

The threat from the US towards the Korean population has and continues to include nuclear annihilation. During the Korean War, the US air force would regularly fly nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over the Peninsula. People on the ground would recognize the aircraft, but they did not know what the operational intent was. Can you imagine the terrorism that this conveyed? - barely five years after the US vaporized the civilian populations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and at the same time that US military were compelling Koreans to live in caves as the only way of escaping mass destruction from conventional bombing. 

This same thuggish behaviour by the US government is consistent with its authorization during this past week for the flying of nuclear-capable B-2 and B-52 bombers over the Korean Peninsula. The dropping of “inert bombs” by these aerial monsters has to be seen as a heinous calculation in Washington aimed at heightening the terrorism. 

Yet, absurdly, the Western propaganda organs, otherwise called news, portray this American state terrorism as “protection”. 

The New York Times, for example, quoted one so-called “expert” as explaining North Korea’s response to the latest American provocation by saying: “The North Korean populace has to be regularly reminded that their country is surrounded by scheming enemies. Otherwise, they might start asking politically dangerous questions.” 

The laugh about this brain-washed expert thinking, and the New York 
 promoting it, is that the people of Korea are indeed surrounded by a scheming enemy - the US - and if the wider international public and media were to start thinking about that fact then there would be “politically dangerous questions” such as: what gives the US the right to conduct annual military “war games” off and on the Korean Peninsula for the past six decades, including the deployment of nuclear annihilation? 

The people of Korea, North and South, deserve and desire peace. Despite the antagonism and belligerence highlighted in the Western propaganda media, the majority of people of North and South Korea have in fact no wish for war. The consensus among ordinary Koreans is for peace and a democratic resolution to decades of conflict imposed on their homeland from outside. But they won’t obtain that reasonable condition as long as Washington continues to run its “protection racket”. 

And, unfortunately, the American government will not, cannot stop its criminal behaviour - because domination, aggression and terrorism are the hallmarks of Washington’s Mafia regime.

Monsanto Protection Act put GM companies above the federal courts

Campaigners say that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed

Genetically modified corn tested at MonsantoA seed corn kernel is held in position near the blade of a chipping machine, which will remove a small piece of the seed for testing, inside a Monsanto lab in St Louis, Missouri, US. Photograph: Daniel Acker/Getty Images

Monsanto and the US farm biotech industry wield legendary power. A revolving door allows corporate chiefs to switch to top posts in the Foodand Drug Administration and other agencies; US embassies around the world push GM technology onto dissenting countries; government subsidies back corporate research; federal regulators do largely as the industry wants; the companies pay millions of dollars a year to lobby politicians; conservative thinktanks combat any political opposition; thecourts enforce corporate patents on seeds; and the consumer is denied labels or information.

But even people used to the closeness of the US administration and food giants like Monsanto have been shocked by the latest demonstration of the GM industry's political muscle. Little-noticed in Europe or outside the US, President Barack Obama last week signed off what has become widely known as "the Monsanto Protection Act", technically the Farmer Assurance Provision rider in HR 933: Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act 2013

The key phrases are a mouthful of legal mumbo jumbo but are widely thought to have been added to the bill by the Missouri republican senator Roy Blunt who is Monsanto's chief recipient of political funds. For the record, they read:

"In the event that a determination of nonregulated status made pursuant to section 411 of Plant Protection Act is or has been invalidated or vacated, the secretary of agriculture shall, notwithstanding any other provision of law upon request by a farmer, grower, farm operator, or producer, immediately grant temporary permit(s) or temporary deregulation in part, subject to necessary and appropriate conditions consistent with section 411(a) or 412c of the Plant Protection Act, which interim conditions shall authorise the movement, introduction, continued cultivation, commercialisation and other specifically enumerated activities and requirements, including measures designed to mitigate or minimise potential adverse environmental effects, if any, relevant to the secretary's evaluation of the petition for nonregulated status, while ensuring that growers or other users are able to move, plant, cultivate, introduce into commerce and carry out other authorised activities in a time manner …"

According to an array of food and consumer groups, organic farmers, civil liberty and trade unions and others, this hijacks the constitution, sets a legal precedent and puts Monsanto and other biotech companies above the federal courts. It means, they say, that not even the US government can now stop the sale, planting, harvest or distribution of any GM seed, even if it is linked to illness or environmental problems.

The backlash has been furious. Senator Barbara Mikulski, chair of the powerful Senate appropriations committee which was ultimately responsible for the bill, has apologised. A Food Democracy Now petition has attracted 250,000 names and sections of the liberal press and blogosphere are outraged. "This provision is simply an industry ploy to continue to sell genetically engineered seeds even when a court of law has found they were approved by US department of agriculture illegally,"says one petition. "It is unnecessary and an unprecedented attack on US judicial review. Congress should not be meddling with the judicial review process based solely on the special interest of a handful of companies."

Remarkably, though, it has also offended the Conservative right and libertarians. FreedomWorks, the conservative thinktank that helped launch the Tea Party, says corporations should "play by the rules of the free market like everyone else, instead of hiring insider lobbyists to rewrite the rules for them in Washington". Dustin Siggins, a blogger for the Tea Party patriots has called it a "special interest loophole" for friends of Congress. "We are used to subsidies, which give your tax dollars to companies to give them advantages over competitors. We are used to special interest tax loopholes and tax credits, which provide competitive and financial benefits to those with friends in Congress. And we are familiar with regulatory burden increases, which often prevent smaller companies from competing against larger ones because of the cost of compliance. This is a different kind of special interest giveaway altogether. This is a situation in which a company is given the ability to ignore court orders, in what boils down to a deregulation scheme for a particular set of industries," he writes.

Even Monsanto appears a touch embarrassed. The company whose seeds make up 93% of US soybeans, 88% of cotton and 86% of maize and which on Wednesday announced a 22% increase in earnings, has sought to align itself with others in the industry, even though it is far and away the main beneficiary. In a statement, it says: "As a member of the Biotechnology Industry Organisation (BIO), we were pleased to join major grower groups in supporting the Farmer Assurance Provision, including the American Farm Bureau Federation, the American Seed Trade Association, the American Soybean Association, the American Sugarbeet Growers Association, the National Corn Growers Association, the National Cotton Council, and several others."

The company's friends are now on the defensive, seeking to blame "activists". Here is John Entine, director of the Genetic Literacy Project, and a visiting fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, the pro-business, anti-regulation think tank: "The legislation does not, as critics allege, allow farmers or Monsanto to sell seeds proven to be harmful. Rather, it provides legal consistency for farmers and businesses so that they will not be jerked around by temporary findings by competing court systems as activist challenges make their way up the legal food chain."

The only good news, say the opponents, is that because the "Monsanto Protection Act" was part of the much wider spending bill, it will formally expire in September. The bad news however is that the precedent has been set and it is unlikely that the world's largest seed company and the main driver of the divisive GM technology will ever agree to give up its new legal protection. The company, in effect, now rules.


Guantanamo Exposes Reality of US Fascism

By Finian Cunningham

March 26, 2013"
Press TV" -  They are essentially dead men who just happen to breathe. That is the grim assessment of the legal representative for the inmates in the American concentration camp, otherwise known as Guantanamo Bay.

More than 11 years after this penal colony was opened on the American-occupied territory of Cuba, there remains some 166 prisoners who live in a nightmarish world of indefinite detention. 

Hundreds of others have been ground through the machine, spewed out like human waste. Denial of human freedom is torture; denial of any sense of when that torture ends adds a whole new barbarous dimension of cruelty. 

American vanity likes to indulge in berating other countries for human rights violations: Russia, China, North Korea and Iran are paraded in the American media as pariah states, accused of failing international legal standards. In the past, the Soviet Union and its system of gulags was a particular favourite feature for Americans to contrast their supposed freedoms. How the ‘high and mighty’ self-proclaimed moral titans now stand exposed as hypocrites, charlatans and low-life perverts. 

Thanks to the suffering of prisoners at Guantanamo, the world is seeing some shocking home truths about the real nature of American government and its formerly grandiose pretensions. Without Guantanamo, the world may have been duped a little longer by the American art of deception. But not anymore. The American style of dictatorship has everything that the old Soviet system had, but with an added insidious trait - the American delusion of exceptionalism. 

Think about it. In Guantanamo, they have been rendered from all over the world by their captors like so much wild animals, physically and mentally tortured, humiliated and defiled. Most of them are Muslim, coming from Africa, the Middle East and Asia, where the US has been waging its permanent charade ‘War on Terror’ since 2001. 

Such is the cruel vindictiveness of their captor country that these men’s only freedom - to read their holy Korans in the solitude of their cells - has been denied to them. More. Their sacred beliefs have been stamped on. Not only have their captors incarcerated their bodies; their tormentors want to hunt down their victims’ inner-most thoughts. This is taking human barbarity to scientific levels of depravity where the human spirit is sought out to be murdered. 

Ninety percent of the Guantanamo hostages - a more appropriate description than ‘inmate’ - have never been charged with any offence. They are being held merely on the basis of suspicion by an American government that has lost all credibility and moral bearing in the eyes of the world. 

For nearly 50 days now, 26 of the men at Guantanamo have been on a hunger strike. It is the only freedom left to these men. To refuse the most basic means of subsistence. That length of time without food is pushing the human body into a fatal condition. The muscles have been eaten away now by the body’s own metabolism to survive against deprivation; at this stage, the last vital organ of the brain becomes internally digested. 

‘These men have figured out that probably the only way for them to go home - cleared or not - is in a wooden box,’ said their American-military appointed defence lawyer, Lt Col Barry Wingard, in a recent interview with Russia Today. 

Wingard, who has been granted only limited access to consult with the prisoners said that he was shocked by the ‘animal cage’ conditions of the men when he last saw them three weeks ago. ‘They will never get a trial based upon the evidence that is against them,’ adds Wingard. 

Let’s recap. Hundreds of men - in all probability innocent of suspected wrongdoing - are held for up to 11 years without charge, tortured and denied proper legal support - all perpetrated by the government of the US that proclaims to be the world’s standard bearer of democratic and human rights and international law. This is the same government that has overseen the invasion and illegal occupation of Afghanistan and Iraq, murdering millions of innocents, in the name of establishing democracy and international law. 

But don’t confuse. Guantanamo is not a vile contradiction of America’s lofty claims. It is in fact a microcosm of the reality of how truly barbaric the American government has become. 

Five years ago, when Barack Obama was running for the US presidency, the closure of Guantanamo was a central promise. To the credit of the American people, they voted him into the White House in order to tear down this abomination of human rights and international law and all the associated torture that it represented under Bush and the neocons. 

Into his second administration, Obama has reiterated that Guantanamo is here to stay. How is that for a brazen betrayal and snub to democratic demand of the people? Appropriately, Obama has outdone Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Co. The imperialist permanent war on the world is being stepped and expanded to target Syria, Iran, China and Russia and whomever else dares to stand in the way of American hegemony. Obama’s wielding of secretive executive powers to execute any one, any time, any place in the world exceeds the fantasies of the Bush neocons. 

The abomination that is Guantanamo is therefore an important moment of truth as to how far America has gone down the road to all-out fascism. 

Ironically, it is men who have been deprived of everything even to the point of death who are exposing this powerful truth.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime.

Cyprus Has the Global Money Elite's Fingerprints All Over It 

By Richard (RJ) Eskow 

March 26, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" -"Huffington Post" - The debacle in Cyprus is far from over, but it's already taught us some very important lessons. We've seen, for example, that the world's financial leaders insist on clinging to the principles of austerity economics even after they've failed over and over again. They don't seem very interested in learning from experience.

They don't seem to be all that interested in principles of national sovereignty, either.

The world's economy isn't run by some secret organization - unless it's very secret - but its financial leaders do form a loosely affiliated elite of banking executives, elected officials, influential advisors, and power brokers.

The Cyprus mess has their fingerprints all over it.

Cyprus 101

First a quick summary for anyone who's not up to speed on Cyprus (feel free to skip ahead if you are): The tiny island nation was a tax and banking haven for lots of people, including billionaire Russian oligarchs who parked their money in that nation's high-interest-bearing bank accounts, and its banks became extremely over-leveraged. The banks gambled anyway - on Greece, mostly - and failed.

This happened, incidentally, under the approving eye of the same European banking authorities who are now scolding Cyprus.

When the banks collapsed they were rescued. (No surprise there.) But Cyprus couldn't afford those bailouts, so the "troika" (the European Union, the European Central Bank, and the International Monetary Fund) imposed strict austerity measures on its citizens in return for its help. Then they decided to "tax" a chunk out of every savings account in Cyprus' banks.

That provoked a huge (and justified) backlash. Now they plan to tax larger accounts -by forty percent. That'll stick it to some Russian oligarchs - and lots of other people too, like Cypriots saving up for their retirements. Or local businesses that buy raw materials, hire people, and keep the Cypriot economy moving.

What does all this tell us about the financial powers-that-be, the "elites," the decision makers?

Their operating principle is "Bankers, Bankers über alles ..."

Once again our austerity-minded financial leaders have placed the interests of the banking sector over those of the general population. The banks of Cyprus were managed recklessly. But, although one bank's being restructured into "toxic assets," policymakers have focused on bank customers - and on the people of Cyprus - rather than on the bankers who behaved badly.

In fact, they seem to have forgotten about the bankers - and about the international community's role in the crisis. The EU admitted Cyprus, banks and all. Billionaires and multinational corporations from around the world benefited from their Cyprus bank accounts. Bank malfeasance in the United States precipitated the global crisis which brought down Cyprus' economy.

But the burden's not being placed on bankers in the US, Western Europe, or even within Cyprus. There, as in the US, the motto seems to be "Rescue them and then pretend they don't exist."

They're a law unto themselves.

Cypriot bank accounts under €100,000- the ones they tried to raid until all hell broke loose - were guaranteed. In fact, all European bank accounts of €100,000 and under are guaranteed under EU law. But the austerity architects were prepared to take almost seven percent out of them anyway.

It's true that deposit insurance can gives banks a perverse incentive to gamble with investors' money, as an IMF economist pointed out (and as we've learned here in the US). But the financial decision-makers were prepared to penalize ordinary Cyprus depositors - the victims of their banks' gambling - for the misdeeds of their banks.

At no point in the process did anyone in the European Central Bank or EU administration say "Wait a minute. We can't do this. Those deposits are guaranteed." Apparently it never crossed their mind.

That's frightening. It suggests that Germany and the IMF have the power to overrule the European Parliament, which voted that €100,000 guarantee into law. Speaking of which:

"It's springtime for Merkel and Germany ..."

"... exports are rising once more ...

Forgive the reference to that musical number from Mel Brooks' The Producers, but there's no question: Germany's in command. Chancellor Angela Merkel and her pro-austerity colleagues still dominate the world financial scene, despite the proven failure of their approach throughout Europe.

The Cypriot deal couldn't be finalized until it was approved by both the EU and the German Bundestag. Germany now has veto power over the EU's deals with other sovereign states. That makes those states something ... less than sovereign.

The EU's been great for Germany, which benefits from (among other things) a market for its manufactured goods. German exports took a hit as the EU economy tanked - the direct result of Chancellor Angela Merkel's austerity obsession - but were rising again at last report.

They'll probably fall again as continued austerity hammers the Zone, but the lucky Germans are still being buffered from the full impact of their own government's disastrous policies.

Austerity is still crazy after all these years

The financial decision-makers initial plan to use the savings accounts of ordinary, austerity-battered Cypriots for their government's bank bailout was bound to create public panic, and to reduce the availability of cash for goods and services among ordinary Cypriots.

That means that once again the "elites" were prepared to make an economic crisis much worse in the guise of making it better. That's classic austerity behavior: It at first you don't succeed - if, in fact, you wreak havoc instead - change nothing. Which also proves that ...

The world is not a meritocracy.

The cat's finally out of the bag: The people in charge don't know what they're doing.

The latest proof of that is the enormous flap created by Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem, who panicked European markets by saying that the raid on Cyprus' savings accounts was a model for future bailouts.

Ssshhh, Jeroen! You're not supposed to say that out loud. That panics people by .. well, perhaps by giving them a glimpse of reality. Truth is, Dijsselbloem was probably talking out of turn. In all likelihood, nobody knows if Cyprus is a model or not - because they don't have their act together enough to even have a model.

But some people were clearly considering doing the same thing again in countries like Spain or Italy - and that's frightening.

Here's the reality: The world's financial leaders have misplaced priorities, are unscrupulous and undemocratic about financial matters - and are frequently just making it up as they go along.

They don't really care about "job creators."

If they did, why would they raid the bank accounts of job-creating Cypriot businesses?

Nobody but a banker deserves a decent return.

The old definition of a "prude" was "a person who lived in fear that somebody, somewhere was having a good time." A "member of the global financial elite" is somebody who hates the idea that anybody but a banker is getting a decent return on their money - even if, unlike bankers, they've done nothing wrong to earn it.

Foreigners who parked their money in Cyprus bank accounts weren't doing anything illegal. It's true that they were getting much better interest rates than they could in most other places. But that's not a "moral hazard," to use the economic term. That's just a good deal.

The world's financial elites apparently think that a getting a good rate of return if you're not in their club is reason enough to retrospectively take some of your money. And remember, this isn't a "tax" in the usual sense. They're not taking forty percent of depositors' income. They're taking forty percent of their savings.

That's confiscation, not taxation - and their rationale seems to be that these depositors had a really, really good interest rate.

That, and the fact that they weren't bankers.

They'll shaft 100 innocent people to get one person they don't like.

Sure, some Cypriot depositors are Russian oligarchs. But this tax applies to everybody. How many innocent people is it worth shafting to get at one shady character - 10? 100? 1,000?

They won't say. But apparently it's a lot.

Chief Red Cloud was right.

There is a Native American tribe named the Oglagla Lakota. Like all Native American tribes, they made numerous treaties with the US government, most of which the US government promptly broke.

One of the tribe's chiefs was called Makhpia-sha - in English, "Red Cloud." The Dakota-Lakota-Nakota Nation's Human Rights Advocacy Coalition reminds us of the famous quote attributed to Red Cloud:

They made us many promises, more than I can remember. But they kept but one - They promised to take our land...and they took it.

An EU-guaranteed savings account, like its American counterpart, is a promise. The idea of sovereignty among nations is a promise. Economic self-determination is a promise. A well-regulated banking system that protects your livelihood is a promise.

But the global financial sector's implicit promise, one that was made explicit by events in Cyprus, is this: Whenever they need or want your money, they consider it theirs to take - and sovereignty be damned.

The people of Cyprus are learning some of the same lessons we've been learning in the United States - about wealth redistribution to the top 1 percent, undeserved bailouts, and unjust applications of the law. The global financial elite has made many promises, regulatory and economic, but only one of them has consistently been kept.

They promised to take our money - and they took it.

olde reb:The IMF and WB have economically devastated under-developed nations and now they have up-graded to Europe. They are headquartered in DC run by Wall Streeters. They have undoubtedly been funded by money that is hidden from congress by the FRBNY’s exclusive handling of funds from auction accounts of Treasury securities. It is a crime to hide money from the government. Their “austerity program” has already been introduced into the U.S. Documentation is posted at
bunkwheat:Only one comment? I don't believe it. This site is getting hacked. 
What if they've created a hack that lets you see what you've posted, and maybe one or two other posts, that are visible only to you. They edit out all of the other posts to make what you see on your screen look like only you and a couple of other fools are paying attention. Maybe they want you to think that you're all ALONE... 
Maybe somebody should ask Tom why comments are way down.

Dangerous crossroads: Threat of pre-emptive nuclear war directed against Iran

By Michel Chossudovsky

March 26, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" -"RT" -  For more than a decade, Iran has been doggedly accused without evidence of developing nuclear weapons. The Islamic Republic is relentlessly portrayed by Western media as a threat to the security of Israel and of the Western World.

In a bitter irony, the assessment of America's Intelligence Community concerning Iran's alleged nuclear weapons capabilities refutes the barrage of media disinformation as well as the bellicose statements emanating from the White House. The 2007 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE): "judges with high confidence that in fall 2003, Tehran halted its nuclear weapons program.” (2007 National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities; November 2007, See also Office of the Director of National Intelligence (ODNI))

"We assess with moderate confidence Tehran had not restarted its nuclear weapons program as of mid-2007, but we do not know whether it currently intends to develop nuclear weapons.

 - We continue to assess with moderate-to-high confidence that Iran does not currently have a nuclear weapon.

 - Tehran’s decision to halt its nuclear weapons program suggests it is less determined to develop nuclear weapons than we have been judging since 2005. Our assessment that the program probably was halted primarily in response to international pressure suggests Iran may be more vulnerable to influence on the issue than we judged previously.
” (
2007 National Intelligence Estimate Iran: Nuclear Intentions and Capabilities; November 2007)

In February 2011, The Director of National Intelligence James R. Clapper - while presenting the 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) to the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence - intimated - with some hesitation - that the Islamic Republic was not seeking to develop nuclear weapons capabilities:

“we do not know if Iran will eventually decide to build nuclear weapons.” The 2011 NIE largely confirms the findings undertaken by the US intelligence community in the 2007 NIE, which remains, according to The New York Times, "the consensus view of America's 16 intelligence agencies."

Post 9/11 pre-emptive nuclear war doctrine

First formulated in the Bush administration's 2002 ‘Nuclear Posture Review’, the pre-emptive nuclear war doctrine - integrated into the Global War on Terrorism - started to take shape in the immediate wake of the war on Iraq. A pre-emptive ‘defensive’ nuclear attack on Iran using tactical nuclear weapons was envisaged to annihilate the Islamic Republic's non-existent nuclear weapons program.

So-called ‘mini nukes’ were identified as the ‘deal weapon’ to conduct a pre-emptive nuclear attack.

In 2003, the mini nukes, consisting of bunker-buster bombs with nuclear warheads, were re-categorized by the US Senate as bona fide conventional weapons. The new definition of a nuclear warhead has blurred the distinction between conventional and nuclear weapons.

Senator Edward Kennedy, at the time, accused the Bush Administration for having developed “a generation of more useable nuclear weapons.”

Through a propaganda campaign which enlisted the support of ‘authoritative’ nuclear scientists, the mini-nukes were upheld as an instrument of peace rather than war.

“Administration officials argue that low-yield nuclear weapons are needed as a credible deterrent against rogue states [Iran, North Korea]. Their logic is that existing nuclear weapons are too destructive to be used except in a full-scale nuclear war. Potential enemies realize this, thus they do not consider the threat of nuclear retaliation to be credible. However, low-yield nuclear weapons are less destructive, thus might conceivably be used. That would make them more effective as a deterrent.” (Opponents Surprised By Elimination of Nuke Research Funds, Defense News November 29, 2004)

In an utterly twisted piece of logic, nuclear weapons are presented as a means to building peace and preventing ‘collateral damage’. The Pentagon had intimated, in this regard, that the mini-nukes are‘harmless to civilians’ because the explosions ‘take place underground’. Each of these mini-nukes, nonetheless, constitutes – in terms of explosion and potential radioactive fallout – a significant fraction of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

Estimates of yield for Nagasaki and Hiroshima indicate that they were respectively of 21,000 and 15,000 tons. Mini-nukes have a yield (explosive capacity) between one third and six times a Hiroshima bomb.

Following the 2003 Senate Green Light, which upheld mini nukes as ‘humanitarian bombs’, a major shift in nuclear weapons doctrine has unfolded. The low-yield nukes had been cleared for ‘battlefield use’. In contrast to the warning on a packet of cigarettes (see the proposed Food and Drug Administration label below), the ‘advisory’ on the ‘dangers of nuclear weapons to human health’ is no longer included in military manuals. The latter have been revised. This‘new’ generation of tactical nuclear weapons is considered ‘safe’. The dangers of nuclear radiation are no longer acknowledged. There are no impediments or political obstacles to the use of low yield thermonuclear bombs.

The ‘international community’ has endorsed nuclear war in the name of World Peace.

Mini-nukes: Preferred weapons system of ‘pre-emptive nuclear war’

While reports tend to depict the tactical B61 bombs as a relic of the Cold War era, the realities are otherwise: mini-nukes are the chosen weapons system under the doctrine of pre-emptive nuclear war, to be used in the conventional war theater against terrorists and ‘state sponsors of terrorism’, including the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Jim Siergey plans to wage a pre-emptive nuclear attack on Iran have been on the Pentagon drawing board since 2004. A pre-emptive nuclear attack would consist in the deployment of B-61 tactical nuclear weapons directed against Iran. The attacks would be activated from military bases in Western Europe, Turkey and Israel.

In 2007, NATO confirmed its support for America's nuclear pre-emption doctrine in a report entitled ‘Towards a Grand Strategy for an Uncertain World: Renewing Transatlantic Partnership’. The report (authored by former defense chiefs of staff of the US, UK, Germany, France and the Netherlands, and sponsored by the Dutch Noaber Foundation) calls for a pre-emptive ‘first strike’ use of nuclear weapons, against non-nuclear states as "the ultimateinstrument of an asymmetric response – and at the same time the ultimate tool of escalation.  Yet they are also more than an instrument, since they transform the nature of any conflict and widen its scope from the regional to the global. Regrettably, nuclear weapons – and with them the option of first use – are indispensable, since there is simply no realistic prospect of a nuclear-free world." (Ibid, p.96-97, emphasis added).

According to the authors, Iran constitutes a major strategic threat – not only to Israel, "which it has threatened to destroy, but also to the region as a whole." (Ibid, p.45) What is required is for the Atlantic Alliance to “restore deterrence through [military] escalation.”

In this context, the Report, endorsed both by NATO and the Pentagon, contemplates the notion of“escalation dominance, the use of a full bag of both carrots and sticks—and indeed all instruments of soft and hard power, ranging from the diplomatic protest to nuclear weapons.” (Report, p.96. emphasis added)

In December 2011,  less than a year following the publication of the 2011 National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), which underscored that Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program, a ‘no options off the table’agenda directed against Iran was put forth by the Obama administration. What was envisaged was a planned and coordinated US-NATO Israel military posture with regard to Iran. It was understood, as intimated by former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, that Israel would not act unilaterally against Iran. In the case of an attack on Iran, the green light would be granted by Washington.

“Any military operation against Iran by Israel must be coordinated with the United States and have its backing,“ said Panetta.

The various components of the military operation would be firmly under US Command, coordinated by the Pentagon and US Strategic Command Headquarters (USSTRATCOM) at the Offutt Air Force base in Nebraska.

Military actions by Israel would be carried out in close coordination with the Pentagon. The command structure of the operation is centralized and ultimately Washington decides if and when to launch the military operation.

In March 2013, the ‘all options’ resolution in relation to Iran was on the agenda during the president's official visit to Israel. While an integrated US-NATO-Israel approach in response to ‘the perils of a nuclear-armed Iran’ war was reasserted, the tone of the discussions was in the direction of military action against Iran.

Obama's visit to Israel was preceded by high-level bilateral consultations, including the visit of  IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz to Washington in February for discussions with the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey pertaining to Iran and Syria. Benny Gantz was accompanied by Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi, director of IDF Military Intelligence, at the meeting with his US counterparts. The new head of the Pentagon Chuck Hagel will be visiting Israel in April in a follow-up meeting.

In the course of Obama's visit, Prime Minister Netanyahu reiterated the need for “a clear and credible threat of military action [against Iran],” while intimating that Israel could act unilaterally. In this regard, it is worth noting that in August 2012, a few months prior to the US presidential elections, a leaked IDF briefing document (translated from Hebrew) revealed the details of Netanyahu's proposed “shock and awe attack” on Iran.

“The Israeli attack will open with a coordinated strike, including an unprecedented cyber-attack ... A barrage of tens of ballistic missiles would be launched from Israel toward Iran ... from Israeli submarines in the vicinity of the Persian Gulf. The missiles would be armed with ... high-explosive ordnance equipped with reinforced tips designed specially to penetrate hardened targets. ... A barrage of hundreds of cruise missiles will pound command and control systems, research and development facilities, ... among the targets approved for attack— Shihab 3 and Sejil ballistic missile silos, storage tanks for chemical components of rocket fuel, industrial facilities for producing missile control systems, centrifuge production plants and more.” (Quoted in Richard Silverstein, Netanyahu’s Secret War Plan: Leaked Document Outlines Israel’s ‘Shock and Awe’ Plan to Attack Iran, Tikun Olam and Global Research, August 16, 2012). 

The strike details mentioned in the leaked IDF briefing above pertain solely to the use of conventional weapons systems.

Michel Chossudovsky is an award-winning author, professor of economics (emeritus) at the University of Ottawa, founder and director of the Center for Research on Globalization (CRG), Montreal and editor of the website.

Obama Unleashes Dogs of War in Syria

By Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR 

March 26, 2013 "Information Clearing House" -  The smoke screen given to the United States President Barack Obama’s visit to Israel has lifted. But then, no one really bought the thesis that it was a mere kiss-and-make-up visit aimed at improving Obama’s personal chemistry with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that prompted the US president to jet down to the Middle East in a rare overseas trip. 

The expose came dramatically at the fag end of the visit just as Obama was about to get into the presidential jet at Tel Aviv airport on Friday. Right on the tarmac, from a makeshift trailer, he dialed up Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and after a brief exchange of pleasantries, he handed the phone to Netanyahu who thereupon went on to do what he had adamantly refused to do for the past two years – render a formal apology to Turkey over the killing of nine of its nationals in 2010 who were travelling in a flotilla on a humanitarian mission to help the beleaguered Palestinians in the Gaza enclave. 

The Gaza incident had ripped apart Turkish-Israeli relations and things deteriorated sharply when Tel Aviv point blank refused to render an apology and pay compensation, as Ankara demanded. This is probably the first time in its entire diplomatic history that Israel, which pays much attention to its «macho» image, went down on its knees to render a national apology to a foreign country for sins committed. But then, the breakdown in ties left Israel stranded and helpless in the region, reduced to the role of a mere spectator at a historic juncture when the region is going through an upheaval. 

The alliance with Turkey is vital to Israel to safeguard its core interests. In his statement welcoming the Turkish-Israeli reconciliation, US secretary of state pointedly said that the development "will help Israel meet the many challenges it faces in the region" and a full normalization between the two counties will enable them to "work together to advance their common interests". The telephone conversation at Tel Aviv airport didn’t happen all of a sudden. In a background story, senior Turkish editor Murat Yetkin who is a well-informed commentator in Ankara disclosed that according to "high-ranking sources", Washington had approached Ankara a few weeks ago with the demarche that Obama wished to work on a rapprochement between Erdogan and Netanyahu and hoped to utilize his Israeli visit as a mediatory mission.

The big question is why has Turkish-Israeli normalization become so terribly important for Obama who has his hands full with so many problem areas – and, equally, for Erdogan and Netanyahu as well? The answer is to be found in the testimony given by the head of US European Command and NATO’s top military commander Adm. James Stavridis before the US Senate Armed Services Committee last Monday on the eve of Obama’s departure from Washington for Israel. Stavridis advised the US lawmakers that a more aggressive posture by the US and its allies could help break the stalemate in Syria. As he put it, "My personal opinion is that would be helpful in breaking the deadlock and bringing down the [Syrian] regime." The influential US senator John McCain pointedly queried Stavridis about the possible role of NATO in an intervention in Syria. Stavridis replied that the NATO is preparing for a range of contingencies. "We [NATO] are looking at a wide range of operations and we are prepared if called upon to be engaged we were in Libya," he said. Stavridis went on to explain that the NATO Patriot missiles now deployed in Turkey ostensibly for the sake of defending Turkish airspace has the capability also to attack Syrian air force in that country’s air space and that any such a NATO operation would be a "powerful disincentive" for the Syrian regime. 

Equally significant is that the NATO warships of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 1 [SNMGI], which arrived in the Eastern Mediterranean in late February, visited the Turkish naval base of Aksaz (where Turkey’s Southern Task Group maintains special units such as «underwater attack») recently, en route to joining last week the US Strike Group consisting of the Aircraft Carrier USS Dwight D. Eisenhower and escorts. The SNMGI forms part of the NATO Response Force, which is permanently activated and is held at high readiness in order to respond to security challenges. 

The western powers would focus on eliminating President Bashar al-Assad rather than display shock and awe and physically occupy the country, as George W. Bush unwisely did in the Iraq war. However, after degrading the regime comprehensively, if ground forces need to be deployed inside Syria, Turkey can always undertake such a mission. In fact, Turkey is uniquely placed undertake that mission, being a Muslim country belonging to NATO. Turkey of course has strong motivations – historical, political, military and economic – to invade Syria with which it has ancient scores to settle. The Baa’thist regime in Damascus never accepted Turkish hegemony in the Levant and a strong and assertive Syria has been a thorn in the Turkish flesh. Besides, there are simmering territorial claims. 

For Israel too, the comprehensive destruction of Syria as a major military power in the Middle East means that all three major Arab powers which could offer defiance to Israel in the past and have been the repositories of "Arabism" at one time or another – Iraq, Egypt and Syria – have been dispatched to the Stone Age. 

But the revival of Turkish-Israeli strategic axis has other major implications as well for regional security. ......The point is, Erdogan is currently pushing for a negotiated deal with the Kurdish militants belonging to the PKK. Last week, it appeared that his efforts may have met with some success. The PKK leader who is incarcerated in Turkey, Abdullah Ocalan, has called for the vacation of the Kurdish militia from Turkish soil, which brings an end to the heavy bloodletting in Turkey’s eastern provinces for the past year and more. 

A curious detail that cannot be lost sight of is that Ocalan always kept contacts with the US operatives, while Israeli intelligence always kept a strong presence in the Kurdistan region of northern Iraq. Quite obviously, there could be a back-to-back arrangement on the PKK problem between Washington, Ankara and Tel Aviv, which would work well for all three protagonists. .....

At a broader level, Turkish-Israeli reconciliation will help NATO’s future role in the Middle East. The US hopes to introduce NATO on a long-term basis as the peacekeeper in the Levant – massive energy reserves have been discovered in the Levant Basin in recent years – and a prerequisite for this would be close coordination with Israel. 

Equally, Turkish-Israeli collaboration at the security and military level has profound implications for the Iran question. Turkey sees Iran as a rival in the Middle East while Israel regards Iran as an existential threat. Both Turkey and Israel estimate that Iran’s surge as regional power poses challenge to their own long-term regional ambitions. Thus, there is a Turkish-Israeli congruence of interests at work with regard to containing Iran in the region.  In the process, the Palestinian problem has been relegated to the backburner; Obama didn’t even bother to hide that he feels no particular sense of urgency about the Middle East peace process. The resuscitation of the Turkish-Israeli strategic axis gives the unmistakable signal that the Obama administration is shifting gear for an outright intervention in Syria to force «regime change». Thereupon, the strong likelihood is that Iran will come in the US-Israeli-Turkish crosshairs... 

Turbulent times indeed lie ahead for the Middle East and Obama’s Israel visit will be looked upon in retrospect as a defining moment in his presidency when he cast aside conclusively and openly even his residual pretensions of being a pacifist. Indeed, he can be sure of a rare consensus in the Congress applauding his mission to Israel, which could have interesting fallouts for his domestic agenda as well. Netanyahu can help ensure that.

Melkulangara BHADRAKUMAR, Former career diplomat in the Indian Foreign Service. Devoted much of his 3-decade long career to the Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iran desks in the Ministry of External Affairs and in assignments on the territory of the former Soviet Union.  After leaving the diplomatic service, took to writing and contribute to The Asia Times, The Hindu and Deccan Herald. Lives in New Delhi.

Iraq: War's Legacy of Cancer

Two US-led wars in Iraq have left behind hundreds of tonnes of depleted uranium munitions and other toxic wastes.

By Dahr Jamail

This report contains photos of a graphic nature.

March 19, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" -"Al Jazeera" - Fallujah, Iraq - Contamination fromDepleted Uranium (DU) munitions and other military-related pollution is suspected of causing a sharp rises in congenital birth defects, cancer cases, and other illnesses throughout much of Iraq.

Many prominent doctors and scientists contend that DU contamination is also connected to the recent emergence of diseases that were not previously seen in Iraq, such as new illnesses in the kidney, lungs, and liver, as well as total immune system collapse. DU contamination may also be connected to the steep rise in leukaemia, renal, and anaemia cases, especially among children, being reported throughout many Iraqi governorates.

There has also been a dramatic jump in miscarriages and premature births among Iraqi women, particularly in areas where heavy US military operations occurred, such as Fallujah.

Official Iraqi government statistics show that, prior to the outbreak of the First Gulf War in 1991, the rate of cancer cases in Iraq was 40 out of 100,000 people. By 1995, it had increased to 800 out of 100,000 people, and, by 2005, it had doubled to at least 1,600 out of 100,000 people. Current estimates show the increasing trend continuing.

As shocking as these statistics are, due to a lack of adequate documentation, research, and reporting of cases, the actual rate of cancer and other diseases is likely to be much higher than even these figures suggest.

"Cancer statistics are hard to come by, since only 50 per cent of the healthcare in Iraq is public," Dr Salah Haddad of the Iraqi Society for Health Administration and Promotion told Al Jazeera. "The other half of our healthcare is provided by the private sector, and that sector is deficient in their reporting of statistics. Hence, all of our statistics in Iraq must be multiplied by two. Any official numbers are likely only half of the real number."

Toxic environments

Dr Haddad believes there is a direct correlation between increasing cancer rates and the amount of bombings carried out by US forces in particular areas.

"My colleagues and I have all noticed an increase in Fallujah of congenital malformations, sterility, and infertility," he said. "In Fallujah, we have the problem of toxics introduced by American bombardments and the weapons they used, like DU."

During 2004, the US military carried out two massive military sieges of the city of Fallujah, using large quantities of DU ammunition, as well as white phosphorous.

"We are concerned about the future of our children being exposed to radiation and other toxic materials the US military have introduced into our environment," Dr Haddad added.

A frequently cited epidemiological study titled Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005-2009 involved a door-to-door survey of more than 700 Fallujah households.

The research team interviewed Fallujans about abnormally high rates of cancer and birth defects.

One of the authors of the study, Chemist Chris Busby, said that the Fallujah health crisis represented "the highest rate of genetic damage in any population ever studied".

Dr Mozghan Savabieasfahani is an environmental toxicologist based in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She is the author of more than two dozen peer reviewed articles, most of which deal with the health impact of toxicants and war pollutants. Her research now focuses on war pollution and the rising epidemic of birth defects in Iraqi cities.

"After bombardment, the targeted population will often remain in the ruins of their contaminated homes, or in buildings where metal exposure will continue," Dr Savabieasfahani told Al Jazeera.

"Our research in Fallujah indicated that the majority of families returned to their bombarded homes and lived there, or otherwise rebuilt on top of the contaminated rubble of their old homes. When possible, they also used building materials that were salvaged from the bombarded sites. Such common practices will contribute to the public's continuous exposure to toxic metals years after the bombardment of their area has ended."  

She pointed out how large quantities of DU bullets, as well as other munitions, were released into the Iraqi environment.

"Between 2002 and 2005, the US armed forces expended six billion bullets - according to the figures of the US General Accounting Office," she added.

According to Dr Savabieasfahani, metal contaminants in war zones originate from bombs and bullets, as well as from other explosive devices. Metals, most importantly lead, uranium, and mercury, are used in the manufacture of munitions, and all of these contribute to birth defects, immunological disorders, and other illnesses.

"Our study in two Iraqi cities, Fallujah and Basra, focused on congenital birth defects," she said.

Her research showed that both studies found increasing numbers of birth defects, especially neural tube defects and congenital heart defects. It also revealed public contamination with two major neurotoxic metals, lead and mercury.

"The Iraq birth defects epidemic is, however, surfacing in the context of many more public health problems in bombarded cities," she said. "Childhood leukemia, and other types of cancers, are increasing in Iraq."

Fallujah babies

Doctors in Fallujah are continuing to witness the aforementioned steep rise in severe congenital birth defects, including children being born with two heads, children born with only one eye, multiple tumours, disfiguring facial and body deformities, and complex nervous system problems.

Doctors in Fallujah are registering hundreds of babies with
severe birth defects, which they attribute to DU munitions
and other war toxins [Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera]

Today in Fallujah, residents are reporting to Al Jazeera that many families are too scared to have children, as an alarming number of women are experiencing consecutive miscarriages and deaths with critically deformed and ill newborns.

Dr Samira Alani, a pediatric specialist at Fallujah General Hospital, has taken a personal interest in investigating an explosion of congenital abnormalities that have mushroomed in the wake of the US sieges since 2005.

"We have all kinds of defects now, ranging from congenital heart disease to severe physical abnormalities, both in numbers you cannot imagine," Alani told Al Jazeera at her office in the hospital last year, while showing countless photos of shocking birth defects.

Alani also co-authored a study in 2010 that showed the rate of heart defects in Fallujah to be 13 times the rate found in Europe. And, for birth defects involving the nervous system, the rate was calculated to be 33 times that found in Europe for the same number of births.

As of December 21, 2011, Alani, who has worked at the hospital since 1997, told Al Jazeera she had personally logged 677 cases of birth defects since October 2009. Just eight days later, when Al Jazeera visited the city on December 29, that number had already risen to 699.

Alani showed Al Jazeera hundreds of photos of babies born with cleft pallets, elongated heads, a baby born with one eye in the centre of its face, overgrown limbs, short limbs, and malformed ears, noses and spines.

Multiple birth defects, many as severe as this, have
become common with babies born in the aftermath of
US assaults on the city [Dr Samira Alani/Al Jazeera]

She told Al Jazeera of cases of "thanatophoric displacia", an abnormality in bones and the rib cage that "render the newborn incompatible with life".

"It's been found by a coroner's court that cancer was caused by an exposure to depleted uranium," Busby told Al Jazeera.

"In the last ten years, research has emerged that has made it quite clear that uranium is one of the most dangerous substances known to man, certainly in the form that it takes when used in these wars."

In July 2010, Busby released a study that showed a 12-fold increase in childhood cancer in Fallujah since the 2004 attacks. The report also showed the sex ratio had become skewed to 86 boys born to every 100 girls, together with a spread of diseases indicative of genetic damage - similar to, but of far greater incidence than Hiroshima.

Dr Alani has visited Japan where she met with Japanese doctors who study birth defect rates they believe related to radiation from the US nuclear bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

She was told birth defect incidence rates there are between one and two per cent. Alani's log of cases of birth defects amounts to a rate of 14.7 per cent of all babies born in Fallujah, more than 14 times the rate in the effected areas of Japan.

In March 2013, Dr Alani informed Al Jazeera that the incident rates of congenital malformations remained around 14 percent.

As staggering as these statistics are, Dr Alani points to the same problem of under-reporting that Dr Haddad mentioned, and said that the crisis is even worse than these statistics indicate.

"We have no system to register all of them, so we have so many cases we are missing," she said. "I think I only know of 40-50 percent of the cases because so many families have their babies at home and we never know of these, and other clinics are not registering them either."

Additionally, Dr Alani remains the only person in Fallujah registering cases, and reported that she was still seeing the same severe defects.

"We have so many cases of babies with multiple system defects in one baby," she explained. "Multiple abnormalities in one baby. For example, we just had one baby with central nervous system problems, skeletal defects, and heart abnormalities. This is common in Fallujah today."

Disconcertingly, Dr Alani mentioned something that Dr Savabieasfahani's research warned of.

The hospital where Alani does her work was constructed in the Dhubadh district of Fallujah in 2008. According to Alani, the district was bombed heavily during the November 2004 siege.

Dr Savabieasfahani explained that her research proves areas of Fallujah, as well as Basra, "are contaminated with lead and mercury, two highly toxic heavy metals", from US bombings in 1991 and during the 2003 invasion. "Exposure to metals, as well as to ionizing radiation, can lead to cancer," she added.

She said that, when the DU munitions explode or strike their targets, they generate "fine metal-containing dust particles as well as DU-containing particles that persist in the environment. These particles can enter the food chain and enter the human body via contaminated food. Toxic particles can also become airborne with the wind and be inhaled by the public. Iraq is prone to frequent sand and dust storms. Continuous public inhalation of toxic materials can lead to cancer. Ingested or inhaled particles that emit alpha radiation can cause cancer."

Basra and Southern Iraq

In Babil Province in southern Iraq, cancer rates have been escalating at alarming rates since 2003. Dr Sharif al-Alwachi, the head of the Babil Cancer Centre, blames the use of depleted uranium weapons by US forces during and following the 2003 invasion. 

"The environment could be contaminated by chemical weapons and depleted uranium from the aftermath of the war on Iraq," Dr Alwachi told Al Jazeera. "The air, soil and water are all polluted by these weapons, and as they come into contact with human beings they become poisonous. This is new to our region, and people are suffering here."

According to a study published in the Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology, a professional journal based in the southwestern German city of Heidelberg, there was a sevenfold increase in the number of birth defects in Basra between 1994 and 2003.

According to the Heidelberg study, the concentration of lead in the milk teeth of sick children from Basra was almost three times as high as comparable values in areas where there was no fighting.

In addition, never before has such a high rate of neural tube defects ("open back") been recorded in babies as in Basra, and the rate continues to rise. According to the study, the number of hydrocephalus ("water on the brain") cases among new-borns is six times as high in Basra as it is in the United States.

Abdulhaq Al-Ani, author of Uranium in Iraq, has been researching the effects of depleted uranium on Iraqis since 1991. He told Al Jazeera he personally measured radiation levels in the city of Kerbala, as well as in Basra, and his geiger counter was "screaming" because "the indicator went beyond the range".

Dr Savabieasfahani pointed out that childhood leukemia rates in Basra more than doubled between 1993 and 2007.

"Multiple cancers in patients - patients with simultaneous tumours on both kidneys and in the stomach, for example - an extremely rare occurrence, have also been reported there," she said. "These observations collectively suggest an extraordinary public health emergency in Iraq. Such a crisis requires urgent multifaceted international action to prevent further damage to public health."

International law and the future

There are clear international laws addressing the use of munitions such as Depleted Uranium.

Article 35 of Protocol I, a 1977 amendment of the Geneva Conventions, prohibits any means or methods of warfare that cause superfluous injuries or unnecessary suffering. Article 35 also prohibits those nations from resorting to means of war that could inflict extensive and long-term damage on human health and the environment.

The observed impacts of DU in Iraq suggest that these weapons fall under Article 35 as being prohibited, by the very nature of their suspected long-lasting effects on human health and the environment.

Article 36 (of Protocol I) also obliges any state studying, developing, or acquiring a new weapon to hold a legal review of that weapon.

Thus far, Belgium (2007) and Costa Rica (2011) have passed domestic laws prohibiting uranium weapons within their territories. In 2008, the European Parliament adopted a resolution that stated that "the use of DU in warfare 
runs counter to the basic rules and principles enshrined in written and customary international, humanitarian and environmental law".

Nevertheless, DNA mutations caused by DU can, of course, be passed from parent to child. Hence, DU contamination from the US-led wars against Iraq in 1990 and 2003 appear to likely continue to cause a persistent national health crisis for future generations of Iraqis.
The remaining traces of DU in Iraq represent a formidable long-term environmental hazard, as they will remain radioactive for more than 4.5 billion years.

Dr Savabieasfahani feels that more research and studies need to be carried out in Iraq in order to obtain the full scope of damage caused by the weapons of war used in that country since 1990.

"We need large scale environmental testing to find out the extent of environmental contamination by metals and DU, and other weapons in Iraq," she concluded.

"There are not even medical terms to describe some of these conditions because we've never seen them until now," Dr Alani said. "So when I describe it, all I can do is describe the physical defects, but am unable to provide a medical term."

Dr Haddad shared his deep concern about the future of his own, and other, Iraqi children.

"I feel fear for them," he said, sadly. "They are encircled by so many problems like health issues, toxins, and we must work to spare them from disease, radiation, and chemical toxins. These are the silent killers, because you can't see them until the problem grows very large. Too many Iraqis have suffered from these, and I can't see how that suffering will not continue."

Dr Alani simply wanted people, especially those in the United States, to know of the crisis in Fallujah, and asked one thing from them.

"I ask them to ask their government not to hurt people outside of their country," she said. "Especially the people of Iraq."

Follow Dahr Jamail on Twitter: @DahrJamail

Obama’s Endgame: War with Iran?


March 15, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" -"RT" -  Will launching a catastrophic military offensive against the Islamic Republic of Iran be the defining moment of US President Obama’s two-term presidency?Against all common sense and uncommon wisdom, it looks increasingly possible that Barack Obama, the Democratic leader who once-upon-a-campaign seduced the world by pledging to “sit down and talk with America’s enemies,” will resort to armed conflict to stamp out Tehran’s nascent nuclear program.

Or were Obama’s comments on Iran this week the latest bluff in the geopolitical poker game known as the Middle East?"I have been crystal clear about my position on Iran possessing a nuclear weapon. That is a red line for us. It is not only something that would be dangerous for Israel. It would be dangerous for the world,"Obama told Israeli Channel 2 ahead of a scheduled visit next week with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu."Right now, we think that it would take over a year or so for Iran to actually develop a nuclear weapon,"Obama said, while not neglecting to add the “all options remain on the table” caveat.

For all the talk of a disconnect, Obama and Netanyahu are beginning to display some strong parallels in their position on Iran – despite what the US intelligence community thinks on the subject.

Rewind to December 2007 when the United States released its National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) on Iran, which represents the consensus view of all 16 American spy agencies. That assessment unequivocally concluded that Iran halted its nuclear weapons program in 2003.

The estimate declared with “high confidence” that an Iranian program intended to transform raw material into a nuclear weapon “has been dismantled since 2003,” adding that the halt “was directed primarily in response to increasing international scrutiny and pressure.”The NIE estimate stated matter-of-factly that Iran’s enrichment program could still provide Tehran with enough raw materials to produce a nuclear weapon “sometime by the middle of next decade”  – a timetable that was essentially consistent with previous estimates.Rather than portraying Iran as a rogue country hell-bent on acquiring nuclear weapons, the 2007 NIE estimate stated that Iran’s “decisions are guided by a cost-benefit approach rather than a rush to a weapon irrespective of the political, economic and military costs.”That is certainly not the usual image of Iran that we have seen in the Western media.It needs to be remembered that this very un-apocalyptic version of Iran’s nuclear capacities was released in the hyper-hawkish Bush years, a period when the US war machine was in high gear in the War on Terror. In fact, the tepid conclusions of the Bush-era assessment eventually forced the Obama administration to tone down its missile defense plans in Western Europe, which had been devised specifically with roguish Iran in mind.

This week, US National Intelligence Director James Clapper said Tehran has made progress in its nuclear program, but "we assess Iran could not divert safeguarded material and produce a weapon-worth of WGU [weapons-grade uranium] before this activity is discovered.”

Iran's nuclear sites are subject to monitoring from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), as well as secret surveillance from US and other intelligence services.(it has also been conjectured recently that the IAEA inspector is a puppet of the USA. JB,editor)Meanwhile, Obama’s threat of imposing a “red line” with regards to Iran’s nuclear program carried unmistakable echoes of Netanyahu’s UN speech in September where the Israeli PM,  armed with a cartoon of a bomb complete with burning fuse, spoke of drawing a “clear red line” that Iran should not be permitted to pass in terms of producing weapons-grade uranium.

Netanyahu warned that Iran could acquire “enough enriched uranium for its first bomb” as early as the spring-summer 2013 – a prediction that has not been revised despite recent UN reports that show Tehran has decreased its stockpiles of 20-percent fissile material.The fissile material in nuclear weapons usually contains at least 85 percent of weapons-grade Uranium-235, which is far beyond Iran’s present enrichment levels of 20 percent.Given the crippling effects of sanctions aimed at Iran, together with less diplomatic means of halting Tehran’s nuclear ambitions, as witnessed by the Stuxnet computer virus that attacked a uranium enrichment facility at Natanz, it seems that Netanyahu and Obama’s prediction for a nuclear weapon falls far short of reality.In the meantime, the world is forced to contemplate whether Obama is simply playing up to the home crowd ahead of next week’s visit to Israel, or if the US leader is attempting to exert pressure on Tehran to give up on its nuclear research.

Finally, there is the possibility that Barack Obama really believes his own rhetoric and – as was the case with former Iraqi President Saddam Hussein, who was accused in 2003 of harboring weapons of mass destruction and paid with his life for the erroneous intelligence – the chances of a military misadventure in Iran seem to have increased dramatically.With a domestic economy in shambles, the budget strained and the nation cracked politically down the middle between the haves and have-nots, will Barack Obama be tempted to drag the United States into a war with Iran as a memorable final act of his sagging presidency?

Obama turns deaf ear to rights violations at Guantanamo Bay prison:
By Kamel Wazne
Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:55PM Interview with Kamel Wazne

Obviously, in the past 40 days it has been a headache because there is blatant violation of every international human rights aspect because these people whether they are detainees or prisoners or whatever you want to call them, they should have rights and they should have the right to a lawyer and to due process, a trial and to know their future and the amount of time that they should be serving if that is a prison."

An analyst says 14 Guantanamo inmates have passed day 40 of hunger strikes yet Obama is running away from this issue, human rights and broken promises.

In the background of this a hunger strike among 14 inmates at America’s infamous Guantanamo Bay prison in Cuba has now entered its 41st day as the US continues to violate human rights and international law. Some of the detainees all held without due process are said to be in critical condition. One of the first promises President Obama made in his first term was to close Guantanamo, which became famous for its application of officially approved torture particularly water boarding. Not only has that promise been broken, but now the Obama administration is turning a deaf ear to the hunger strikers and corporate media has ensured the plight of the hunger strikes is not reaching the American public in any detail.

Press TV has interviewed Kamel Wazne, political analyst, Beirut about this issue. The following is an approximate transcription of the interview.

Press TV: How much of a nightmare is this hunger strike turning into for the US government especially when it comes obviously to Obama’s promise to close down Guantanamo?

Wazne: Obviously America is turning a deaf ear to this issue because it has been violating international law and international human rights when it comes to these prisoners.
The Obama administration on the first day of his first term he actually promised the American people and promised the world that he will close this Guantanamo Bay prison and he promised that he will deal with the detainees and he will give them due process. Obviously, in the past 40 days it has been a headache because there is blatant violation of every international human rights aspect because these people whether they are detainees or prisoners or whatever you want to call them, they should have rights and they should have the right to a lawyer and to due process, a trial and to know their future and the amount of time that they should be serving if that is a prison.
Ultimately what is happening here you find out that 80 of those detainees have been cleared to be released, but so far because the State Department closed that office that allows them to negotiate their release to a third country or to their home country.

And so far these detainees have been in limbo and that’s not justice when it comes to these detainees regardless of what they were accused of.


Money for the People: Comedian Grillo’s Populist Plan for Italy

By Ellen Brown, Web of Debt

This piece first appeared at Web of Debt.

Comedian Beppe Grillo was surprised himself when his Five Star Movement got 8.7 million votes in the Italian general election of February 24-25th.  His movement is now the biggest single party in the chamber of deputies, says The Guardian, which makes him “a kingmaker in a hung parliament.” 

Grillo’s is the party of “no.” In a candidacy based on satire, he organized an annual “V Day Celebration,” the “V” standing for vaffanculo (“f—k off”).  He rejects the status quo—all the existing parties and their monopoly control of politics, jobs, and financing—and seeks a referendum on all international treaties, including NATO membership, free trade agreements and the Euro.

“If we get into parliament,” says Grillo, “we would bring the old system down, not because we would enjoy doing so but because the system is rotten.” Critics fear, and supporters hope, that if his party succeeds, it could break the Euro system.

But being against everything, says Mike Whitney in Counterpunch, is not a platform:

To govern, one needs ideas and a strategy for implementing those ideas. Grillo’s team has neither. They are defined more in terms of the things they are against than things they are for. It’s fine to want to “throw the bums out”, but that won’t put people back to work or boost growth or end the slump. Without a coherent plan to govern, M5S could end up in the political trash heap, along with their right-wing predecessors, the Tea Party.

Steve Colatrella, who lives in Italy and also has an article in Counterpunch on the Grillo phenomenon, has a different take on the surprise win. He says Grillo does have a platform of positive proposals. Besides rejecting all the existing parties and treaties, Grillo’s program includes the following:

• unilateral default on the public debt;
• nationalization of the banks; and
• a guaranteed “citizenship” income of 1000 euros a month.

It is a platform that could actually work. Austerity has been tested for a decade in the Eurozone and has failed, while the proposals in Grillo’s plan have been tested in other countries and have succeeded.

Default: Lessons from Iceland and South America

Default on the public debt has been pulled off quite successfully in Iceland, Argentina, Ecuador, and Russia, among other countries.  Whitney cites a clip from Grillo’s blog suggesting that this is also the way out for Italy:

The public debt has not been growing in recent years because of too much expenditure . . . Between 1980 and 2011, spending was lower than the tax revenue by 484 billion (thus we have been really virtuous) but the interest payments (on the debt of 2,141 billion) that we had to pay in that period have made us poor. In the last 20 years, GDP has been growing slowly, while the debt has exploded.

. . . [S]peculators . . . are contributing to price falls so as to bring about higher interest rates. It’s the usurer’s technique. Thus the debt becomes an opportunity to maximize earnings in the market at the expense of the nation. . . . If financial powerbrokers use speculation to increase their earnings and force governments to pay the highest possible interest rates, the result is recession for the State that’s in debt as well as their loss of sovereignty.

. . . There are alternatives. These are being put into effect by some countries in South America and by Iceland. . . . The risk is that we are going to reach default in any case with the devaluation of the debt, and the Nation impoverished and on its knees. [Beppe Grillo blog]

China actively countering Western influence across Africa

Mon Mar 11, 2013 By Nile Bowie

During an AFRICOM in 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller cited AFRICOM’s guiding principle of protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market,” before emphasizing how the increasing presence of China is a major challenge to US interests in the region. Washington recently announced that US Army teams will be deployed to as many as 35 African countries in early 2013 for training programs and other operations as part of an increased Pentagon role in Africa - primarily to countries with groups allegedly linked to al-Qaeda."

At a recently held meeting of the National People’s Congress in Beijing, China’s leaders unveiled a dramatic long-term plan to integrate some 400 million countryside dwellers into urban environments by concentrating growth-promoting development in small and medium sized cities.

In stark contrast to the neglected emphasis placed on infrastructure development in the United States and Europe, China spends around $500 billion annually on infrastructural projects, with $6.4 trillion set-aside for its 10-year mass urbanization scheme, making it the largest rural-to-urban migration project in human history. China’s leaders have mega-development in focus, and realizing such epic undertakings not only requires the utilization of time-efficient high-volume production methods, but also resources - lots and lots of resources. It should come as no surprise that incoming Chinese president Xi Jinping’s first trip as head of state will take him to Africa, to deepen the mutually beneficial trade and energy relationships maintained throughout the continent that have long irked policy makers in Washington.

The new guy in charge - who some analysts have suggested could be a populist reformer that empathizes with the poor - will visit several African nations with whom China has expressed a desire to expand ties with, the most prominent being South Africa. Since establishing relations in 1998, bilateral trade between the two jumped from $1.5 billion to 16 billion as of 2012.

Following a relationship that has consisted predominately of economic exchanges, China and South Africa have now announced plans to enhance military ties in a show of increasing political and security cooperation. During 2012’s Forum on China-Africa Cooperation meeting, incumbent President Hu Jintao served up $20 billion in loans to African countries, which were designated for the construction of vital infrastructure such as new roads, railways and ports to enable higher volumes of trade and export. In his address to the forum, South African President Jacob Zuma spoke of the long-term unsustainability of the current model of Sino-African trade, whereby raw materials are sent out and manufactured commodities are sent in.

Zuma also stated, "Africa's past economic experience with Europe dictates a need to be cautious when entering into partnerships with other economies. We certainly are convinced that China's intention is different to that of Europe, which to date continues to attempt to influence African countries for their sole benefit." Xi’s visit highlights the importance China attaches to Sino-African ties, and during his stay, he will attend the fifth meeting of the BRICS, the first summit held on the African continent to accommodate leaders of the world’s most prominent emerging economies, namely Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa. The BRICS group, which accounts for around 43% of the world's population and 17% of global trade, is set to increase investments in Africa’s industrial sector threefold, from $150-billion in 2010 to $530- billion in 2015, under the theme "BRICS and Africa: partnership for development, integration, and industrialization".

With focus shifting toward building up the continent’s industrial sector, South Africa is no doubt seen as a springboard into Africa and a key development partner on the continent for other BRICS members. Analysts have likened the BRICS group to represent yet another significant step away from a unipolar global economic order, and it comes as no surprise. As Eurozone countries languish with austerity cuts, record unemployment and major demand contraction, the European Union in South Africa's total trade has declined from 36% in 2005 to 26.5% in 2011, while the BRIC countries total trade increased from 10% in 2005 to 18.6% in 2011. The value and significance of the BRICS platform comes in its ability to proliferate South-South political and economic ties, and one should expect the reduction of trade barriers and the gradual adoption of economic exchanges using local currencies. China’s ICBC paid $5.5 billion for a 20% stake in Standard Bank of South Africa in 2007, and the move has played out well for Beijing - Standard has over 500 branches across 17 African countries which has drastically increased availability of the Chinese currency, offering yuan accounts to expatriate traders.

It looks like the love story that has become of China and Africa will gradually begin shifting its emphasis toward building up a viable large-scale industrial base. Surveys out of Beijing cite 1,600 companies tapping into the use of Africa as an industrial base with manufacturing's share of total Chinese investment (22%) fast gaining on that meted out to the mining sector (29%). Gavin du Venage, writing for the Asia Times Online, highlights how Beijing’s policy toward Africa aims to be mutually beneficial and growth-promoting, “Chinese energy firm Sinopec teamed up with South African counterpart PetroSA to explore building a US$11 billion oil refinery on the country's west coast. Refineries are notoriously unprofitable, with razor-thin margins. Since South Africa has no significant oil or proven gas reserves itself, the proposed plant would depend on imports, and would have to serve the local market to be viable. The plant will therefore serve the South African market and not be used to process exports to China. This is only the latest of such investments that demonstrate a willingness by Chinese investors to put down roots and infrastructure in Africa. It also shows that China's dragon safari is about more than just sourcing commodities for export.”

Indeed, and Beijing’s dragon safari is loaded with a packed itinerary, with Mao-bucks flying everywhere from Tanzania and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to Nigeria and Angola. Xi Jinping will also grace the Angolan capital of Luanda, where China had provided the oil-rich nation with some $4.5 billion in loans since 2002. Following Angola’s 27-year civil war that began in 1975, Beijing played a major role in Angola's reconstruction process, with 50 large-scale and state-owned companies and over 400 private companies operating in the country; it has since become China's largest trading partner in Africa with a bilateral trade volume at some $20 billion dollars annually. Chinese Ambassador Zhang Bolun was quoted as saying how he saw great potential in further developing Sino-Angolan relations and assisting the nation in reducing its dependence on oil revenues while giving priority to the development of farming, service industries, renewable energies, transport and other basic infrastructure.

Chinese commercial activities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have significantly increased not only in the mining sector, but also considerably in the telecommunications field. In 2000, the Chinese ZTE Corporation finalized a $12.6 million deal with the Congolese government to establish the first Sino-Congolese telecommunications company, while the Kinshasa exported $1.4 billion worth of cobalt to Beijing between 2007 and 2008. The majority of Congolese raw materials like cobalt, copper ore and a variety of hard woods are exported to China for further processing and 90% of the processing plants in resource-rich southeastern Katanga province are owned by Chinese nationals. In 2008, a consortium of Chinese companies were granted the rights to mining operations in Katanga in exchange for $6 billion in infrastructure investments, including the construction of two hospitals, four universities and a hydroelectric power project, but the International Monetary Fund intervened and blocked the deal, arguing that the agreement between violated the foreign debt relief program for so-called HIPC (Highly Indebted Poor Countries) nations.

China has made significant investments in manufacturing zones in non-resource-rich economies such as Zambia and Tanzania and as Africa’s largest trading partner, China imports 1.5 million barrels of oil from Africa per day, approximately accounting for 30 percent of its total imports. In Ghana, China has invested in Ghanaian national airlines that serve primarily domestic routes, in addition to partnering with the Ghanaian government on a major infrastructural project to build the Bui Hydroelectric Dam. China-Africa trade rose from $10.6 billion in 2000 to $106.8 billion in 2008 with an annual growth rate of over 30 percent. By the end of 2009, China had canceled out more than 300 zero-interest loans owed by 35 heavily indebted needy countries and least developed countries in Africa. China is by far the largest financier on the entire continent, and Beijing’s economic influence in Africa is nowhere more apparent than the $200 million African Union headquarters situated in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia - which was funded solely by China.

China’s deepening economic engagement in Africa and its crucial role in developing the mineral sector, telecommunications industry and much needed infrastructural projects is creating "deep nervousness" in the West, according to David Shinn, the former US ambassador to Burkina Faso and Ethiopia. During a diplomatic tour of Africa in 2011, former US Secretary of State Hilary Clinton insinuated China’s guilt in perpetuating a creeping “new colonialism”. When it comes to Africa, the significant differences in these two powers' key economic, foreign policy strategies and worldviews are nowhere more apparent. Washington has evidently launched its efforts to counter China's influence throughout the African continent, and where Beijing focuses on economic development, the United States has sought to legitimize its presence through counterterrorism operations and the expansion of the United States Africa Command, better known as AFRICOM - a outpost of the US military designated solely for operations on the African continent.

During an AFRICOM in 2008, Vice Admiral Robert T. Moeller cited AFRICOM’s guiding principle of protecting “the free flow of natural resources from Africa to the global market,” before emphasizing how the increasing presence of China is a major challenge to US interests in the region. Washington recently announced that US Army teams will be deployed to as many as 35 African countries in early 2013 for training programs and other operations as part of an increased Pentagon role in Africa - primarily to countries with groups allegedly linked to al-Qaeda. Given Mr. Obama’s proclivity toward the proliferation of UAV drone technology, one could imagine these moves as laying the groundwork for future US military interventions using such technology in Africa on a wider scale than that already seen in Somalia and Mali. Here lays the deep hypocrisy in accusations of Beijing’s purported “new colonialism” - China is focused on building industries, increasing development, and improving administrative and well as physical infrastructure - the propagation of force, which one would historically associate with a colonizer, is entirely absent from the Chinese approach.

Obviously, the same cannot be said of the United States, whose firepower-heavy tactics have in recent times have enabled militancy and lawlessness, as seen in the fallout of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization's 2011 bombing campaign in Libya with notable civilian causalities. As Xi Jingping positions himself in power over a nation undertaking some of the grandest development projects the world has ever known, Beijing’s relationship with the African continent will be a crucial one. While everything looks good on paper, Xi’s administration must earn the trust of their African constituents by keeping a closer eye on operations happening on the ground. The incoming administration must do more to scrutinize the conduct of Chinese conglomerates and business practices with a genuine focus on adhering to local environmental regulations, safety standards and sound construction methods. The current trajectory China has set itself upon will do much to enable mutually beneficial economic development, in addition to bolstering an independent Global South - a little less red then how Mao wanted it, but close enough.


The Power to Assassinate a Compliant and Submissive People
(UPDATED: “I will speak until I can no longer speak,” Paul, who vehemently opposed Brennan’s nomination, said on the Senate floor shortly before noon Eastern time Wednesday as he began his old-school style talking filibuster. “I will speak as long as it takes, until the alarm is sounded from coast to coast that our Constitution is important, that your rights to trial by jury are precious, that no American should be killed by a drone on American soil without first being charged with a crime, without first being found to be guilty by a court.”

By its end, nearly 13 hours later, Paul had indeed sounded the alarm bells over the administration’s deeply troubling policy.

His talking filibuster was a rarity in the Senate, which nowadays allows its members to “filibuster” by refusing to end debate or proceed with a nomination unless a majority 60-vote threshold is met. The last time the kind of talking filibuster that Paul mounted happened was more than two years ago when Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders took to the Senate floor to stall a tax cut deal. By using the procedural tactic the way it was intended, Paul pressed his case against the administration’s controversial drone strike policy, which potentially allows the government to target American citizens on U.S. soil in “extraordinary circumstances.”

This policy itself represents nothing short of an egregious violation of the U.S. Constitution’s Fifth Amendment guarantee that no person shall “be deprived of life ... without due process of law,” and of American civil liberties in general. This is an issue that should unite both sides of the political spectrum. )

By Jacob G. Hornberger

February 27, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" - (fff) -  President Obama’s nomination of John Brennan is being held up over Brennan’s refusal to state whether the president’s power to assassinate Americans (and others) extends to American soil. The controversy is summed up in a great article by Glenn Greenwald.

The fact that Brennan could not bring himself to immediately say that the president doesn’t have the power to assassinate Americans (and others) right here within the United States is revealing. He undoubtedly knows that the president does claim to wield such power and that the president just doesn’t want to alarm Americans by informing them that he now wields the power to assassinate anyone he wants, including Americans here in the United States.

I can’t see how there’s any room for doubt here. Ever since President Bush claimed extraordinary powers after the 9/11 attacks, we here at The Future of Freedom Foundation have been pointing out that the powers were not limited to foreigners or to foreign lands. When U.S. forces, both military and CIA, were kidnapping people, torturing them, and incarcerating them without trial, we kept emphasizing that such powers were not limited to foreigners. By following the logic employed by Bush and his associates, it was clear that those extraordinary powers extended to Americans as well, both abroad and here at home.

But all too many Americans comforted themselves by thinking that those extraordinary powers applied only to foreigners and that the powers were necessary to keep them “safe.” Therefore, they endorsed what was going on with much enthusiasm, simply blocking out of their minds that they were also endorsing the most revolutionary change in the relationship between the federal government and the American citizenry in U.S. history.

Then came the case of Jose Padilla. He was an American who was accused of conspiracy to commit terrorism. Rather than have him indicted and then prosecute him in federal court, the feds whisked him away to a military dungeon, where the Pentagon tortured him and threatened to keep him incarcerated for the rest of his life as an “enemy combatant”  in the “war on terrorism.”

We took a leading role in opposing that extraordinary exercise of military supremacy over the American citizenry. We continually pointed out that what they did to Padilla, if upheld, they could then do to all other Americans. But because Padilla was not the most sympathetic character in the world, all too many Americans were happy over what the feds were doing to him, blocking out of their minds that the feds could now do the same thing to all other Americans.

And sure enough, the federal courts, in the fear-ridden environment of post-9/11, upheld what the president and the Pentagon did to Padilla, which means that they can now do the same to every American — and some 12 years after the 9/11 attacks!

And now we have the president’s assassination program, in which the president, along with his military and CIA, now wield the power to assassinate anyone they want, no questions asked. They’ve already killed countless foreigners as well as at least three Americans, including a 16-year-old boy. They do it all in secret and are not required to answer any questions as to who they have assassinated or why. Their power to kill people is omnipotent.

Do they claim the power to assassinate Americans right here at home? How can there be any doubt about it? From the very beginning, they simply converted a standard federal crime — terrorism — into an act of war. They called it “the war on terrorism,” and said that this war was just like World Wars I and II. They said that in war, they have the right to take captives, torture them, and execute illegal enemy combatants, and also to assassinate the enemy.

They also said that this war would go on forever or for at least the lifetimes of everyone living today, given that there were so many terrorists in the world. As part of that war, the president, the military, and the CIA would have to assume extraordinary powers, they said, ones that were inherent to the most extreme dictatorships in history.

Significantly, they repeatedly emphasized that in this war, the battlefield wasn’t limited to the Middle East or surrounding regions. Instead, in this war the entire world constituted the battlefield. That, of course, included the United States.

Thus, it didn’t take a rocket scientist to draw the logical conclusion — whatever extraordinary powers were being exercised against foreign “enemy combatants” in the “war on terrorism” could be applied against people right here on American soil, including Americans.

Of course, as we have also been pointing out since 9/11, the entire matter is just one great big sham and fraud. They took a federal criminal offense — terrorism — and used it a ruse to claim that America was now “at war” and then claimed extreme dictatorial powers in the process. It would be no different if the president used another federal war — the “war on drugs” — as a ruse to assume extraordinary dictatorial powers, such as the power to kidnap, torture, execute, and assassinate suspected drug users and dealers.

Our American ancestors tried their best to prevent this dictatorial nonsense. That’s why they used the Constitution to bring into existence a government of limited, enumerated powers. Notice that the dictatorial powers claimed by Bush and Obama are not among those enumerated powers. To make sure that federal officials got the point, our ancestors demanded the enactment of four separate amendments to the Constitution — the 4th, 5th, 6th, and 8th Amendments. Those amendments stated that with respect to federal crimes, people would be guaranteed the protections of criminal indictments, due process of law, trial by jury, freedom from cruel and unusual punishments, and other protections.

And there is another important thing to note about those four amendments. Notice that the protections and guarantees apply to people in general, not just to Americans. That’s because our ancestors understood that justice requires that the rules apply to everyone equally, not one set of rules for foreigners and another set of rules for Americans. Thus, under our system of justice, President Obama has no right to be assassinating anyone or torturing anyone or incarcerating anyone without due process of law and trial by jury.

And it must be emphasized: terrorism is, in fact, a federal crime. That’s why they ultimately made Padilla a criminal defendant. That’s why terrorism is listed in the U.S. Code as a criminal offense. That’s why they have terrorism cases in federal court all the time. The truth is that there is no real war and there has never been one, any more than there has been a real war in the “war on drugs.” After all, how is the enemy supposed to surrender in this “war”? Where are the transport ships bringing invading troops to America? Where are the supply lines?

And let’s not forget something else of equal importance — the only reason that people are killing U.S. troops over there is because they’re over there interfering with the affairs of other countries. That’s what the killing is all about on both sides —not because people are trying to conquer America and enslave Americans but simply because they want the U.S. government, especially the U.S. military and CIA, out of their countries. And the more the Pentagon and the CIA continue to kill people in the process, the more they generate an endless supply of terrorists, which they then use to perpetuate their dictatorial powers. As I have long pointed out, the U.S. government is the greatest terrorist-producing machine in history.

It’s all been a sham, a fraud, and a ruse to enable the U.S. national-security state to adopt the same powers of dictatorship that it has long supported and trained, such as Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, the military dictatorships in Guatemala, the Shah’s dictatorship in Iran, Mubarak’s dictatorship in Egypt, and many more.

But Brennan shouldn’t been concerned about alarming Americans about Obama’s power to assassinate them on American soil. As we have learned since 9/11, the American people are among the most compliant, cooperative, and submissive people on the planet. All the feds have to do is say that they are doing it to keep them safe, and except for libertarians and (a few liberals and conservatives), unfortunately all too many Americans continue to fall for anything and agree to anything the government wants to do to them.

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas.

An Argument in Defense of Haredi Jews and Against Secular Zionist Militarism

By James Petras
Thu, Feb 21, 2013 7:23 am

            Israel is heading towards a profound internal crisis: a Jew-on-Jew confrontation, which has major implications for its relations with the Palestinians, as well as its Arab neighbors.  The conflict is between the highly militarized Zionist state and the Haredi religious movement over a number of issues, including recent proposals by the Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu to end the religious exemption of Haradi youth from serving in Israel’s colonial armed forces.

Haredim and the Zionist Colonial State            Even before the forcible imposition (‘founding’) of the state of Israel, the Haredim were opposed to Zionism.  Today the vast majority of Haredim in Israel remain staunchly opposed to the Zionist state for religious, ethical and political reasons.  Haredi religious teaching claims that the Jewish people are bound by three oaths: (1) not to settle in Israel by using force or violence, (2) not to make war with other nations and (3) not to act as if the other nations of the world would persecute Israel.  Haredim opposed Israel’s violent ethnic cleaning of over 850,000 Palestinians in the course of establishing the Israeli State and continues to oppose Israeli settlers’ violently land grabs against Palestinians.  Unlike other so-called ‘ultra-Orthodox’ sects, who support Zionist colonialism and bless the Israeli military, the Haredim maintain that militarism corrupts the spirit and that Zionists have transformed Jews from righteous followers of the Torah into rabid ethnocentric supporters of a militarist state.  For the Haredim, ‘state worship’, especially the waving of the Israeli flag in the temple, is a sacrilege comparable to the renegade Jews condemned by Moses for worshipping the Golden Calf.

            The majority of Haredim boycott elections, organize their own schools (Yeshivas), encourage students to deepen their religious studies, emphasize community and family values (of a profoundly patriarchal sort) with numerous children and strongly reject the Zionist state’s efforts to conscript Haredi youth into their colonial occupation army, the so-called Israeli Defense (sic) Force (IDF).  All major Zionist political parties and the ruling colonial regime unite to demonize the Haredim, claiming they are shirking their patriotic military responsibilities. Via the mass media and public pronouncements Zionist politicians and the state incite Israeli hatred against the Haredim:  A study in 2006 claimed that over a third of Israeli Jews identified the Haredim as the most unpopular group in Israel.

            The Haredim, on the other hand, have reason to fear and loath the secular militarist Zionist state and politicians:  They claim that after World War II in the Zionist-controlled relocation camps for refugee Jewish children in Teheran, the Jewish Agency imposed Zionist ideology and militarist anti-religious policies in order to cut Haredim children off from their spiritual roots.  According to one Haredim report many religious Jewish youth from Poland, mostly survivors of the Holocaust and Soviet Russia, were subjected to “unimaginable mental and physical cruelty with one goal in mind: (the) obliteration of Judaism”.  Given the Israeli drive today to harness a corrupted form of Judaism to serve colonial militarism, the Haredim have every reason to believe that the conscription of their sons and daughters will be accompanied by cruel, systematic Zionist brainwashing to ensure they make efficient (brutal) occupation soldiers.

Haredim versus Israeli State Values            The Haredim fervently believe in and practice the Biblical teaching: “Be fruitful and multiply”. They have large families and the median age among the Haredim is 16 years.  Their peaceful message to the militarist Zionists could be summed up as: “Make babies, not bombs”.

Some Haredim leaders have met with Palestinian and Iranian officials and, in line with their religious doctrine, have declared their support for peaceful resolution of conflicts and denounced Israel’s aggressive military posture.

Haredim are intensely religious and dedicate their time to discuss and debate the readings of their great religious scholars:  Their message to the Zionists is to read Maimonides’ ethical treatises rather than listen to Netanyahu’s bellicose, blood curdling rants.

Haredim live and study largely within the confines of their close communities.  They insist on sending their sons to the yeshivas to study religious doctrine rather than to the West Bank to kill Palestinians. They call on their children to serve G-d - not the IDF.  They seek truth in the Torah - not in conquest via the Preventive War Doctrines espoused by prestigious Israeli and overseas Zionist academic militarists.

            Haredim focus on building a better life within their community; they reject the efforts of the Zionist state to entice them into joining the violent self-styled ‘Jewish’ settlers engaged in brutal land grabs in the West Bank, in the name of “contributing to society (sic)”.  The ‘introverted Haredi way of life’ is seen as a righteous alternative to the crass militarism, money laundering, financial speculation, human body part trafficking and real estate swindles rife among the elite Israelis and among sectors of overseas Zionists engaged in procuring multi- billion dollar tribute from the US Treasury.

            Haredim believe, with exemplary evidence, that conscripting their youth into the Israeli colonial army would destroy their moral values, as their sons would be forced to grope and search Arab women at checkpoints, break the legs of stone-throwing Palestinian children, defend lawless self-styled ‘Jewish’  settlers as they paint obscene graffiti in mosques and churches and attack Arab children on their way to school … not to speak of the ill effects of what secular Israeli Jews call a “modern education”, full of historical fabrications about the origins of Israel, scientific readings on high tech war-making and “advanced” economic doctrines proclaiming the sacred role of the free market, and  justifying the 60% poverty rate among Haredim as “self-induced”. 

            The Haredim demand that the Israeli Jewish elite stop trying to conscript their youth into the IDF and stop the job discrimination, which has trippled the unemployment rate among Haredim.

The Coming ‘Civil War’:  Zionist State versus the Haredim

            The elected leader, Yair Lapid, of newly formed Yesh Atid Party, dubbed a “centrist” by the New York Times,  and a ‘moderate’ by the leading ideologues of the US Zionist “lobby”, ran on a platform of forcibly ending the Haredi exemption from conscription into the colonial military service.  Yair Lapid, in the run-up to joining a new Netanyahu coalition regime, has launched a vicious attack on the Haredim. Lapid premises his agreement to joining Netanyahu’s war machine on his plans to forcibly confront the Haredi leadership.  Yair Lapid taps the class and secular resentments of Israel’s upwardly mobile youth who bitterly complain of having to serve in the army, thus delaying their money-making opportunities, while the poor, semi-literate “blacks” (a derogatory term referring to the clothing of Haredim) engage in “worthless studies” of the Torah.  Lapid, using the same perverted logic as Netanyahu, claims that “Ten percent of the population cannot threaten 90 percent with civil war”, (Financial Times, 2/14/13, p. 6.).  Once again, the executioner (Lapid) accuses the victim (Haredim) of the violence he is about to commit.  Lapid’s Yesh Atid, the centrist (sic) party, has allied with Naftali Bennett’s neo-fascist ‘Jewish Home Party’ (pushing for the annexation of all of Palestine and expulsion of non-Jews) in smashing Haredi exemption to military conscription.  They hold veto power over the next cabinet.  This rabidly secular militarist assault has provoked great opposition and united the otherwise Zionist-religious parties:  The Shas Party (Sephardic Haredim) and United Torah Judaism have taken up the defense of the Haredim.

            Lines are being drawn far beyond a Haredim-Zionist State confrontation.

The Larger Meaning of the Haredim-Zionist Conflict            The Haredim hostility to the secular Zionist state is in part based on its opposition to military conscription, thus calling into question Israeli militarism, in general, and specifically its policy of colonial occupation and regional aggression.  While some Haredim may oppose conscription for religious reasons and seek exemption solely for its own youth, objectively, the effect is to undermine Israel’s violation of Palestinian rights and to call into question the entire apartheid system.  By speaking to spiritual values, they deny the legitimacy of the idea of a Jewish police state based on force, violence, torture and disappearance of political prisoners.  Their questioning of the institutional configuration upholding Jewish supremacy and Israel as the homeland of the Chosen People, they strike a powerful blow at the ideological underpinnings of the overseas activity of the Zionist power configuration.  Their animosity to the fusion of Jewish chauvinism and religious rituals and the tribal deification of the Israeli state is counterposed to their embrace of Moses Ten Commandments.

            The Haredim study the teaching of the profound Judaic philosopher Maimonides and abhor Zionist militaristic strategists like Walzer, Dershowitz, Kagan, Feith, Netanyahu, etc. who preach colonial “just war” doctrines.  Representing 10% of the Israeli population and a far greater percentage of military age youth, the Haredim are in a position to sharply limit the scope of future Zionist wars. If they succeed in blocking conscription, they would provide a lasting contribution to making the world in general, and the Middle East in particular, a more secure and peaceful place to live.

            Facing the prospect of a loss of future cannon fodder to sustain its colonial ventures, and in their frenzied attacks on the Haredim, the Israeli-Zionist elite have incited the majority of Israeli Jews to demonize them as ‘backward’, illiterate, freeloaders and to blame the religious curriculum for their growing and current 60% rate of poverty and high unemployment.  Israel’s war machine needs fresh recruits to maintain its imperial quest for a Greater Israel.  Demographics – with families exceeding five children –indicate the Haredim are likely to double their percentage of the Israeli population over the next two decades.  Faced with the ‘facts on the ground and in the cradle’, the colonial expansionist imperative drives all the leading Zionist parties to end Haredi exemptions.  In response Haredi leaders threaten to engage in massive civil disobedience if the Zionists impose conscription, rightly seeing conscription of its youth as an assault on its most profoundly held spiritual and family values and as an opening wedge in destroying traditional community solidarity and reciprocal relations.

            The Haredim share a common plight with Israel’s Arab population:  Both communities face increasing police harassment, discrimination, religious persecution and rising levels of poverty.  A Haredim-Arab alliance would unite 30% of the population against a common secular militarist and plutocratic enemy.  Farfetched as it seems on the subjective level, there are objective historical and structural processes which are driving the two groups together.

            It is one of the great ironies of history that the world’s modern secular anti-imperialist movements should find their most consequential allies among Israel’s most traditional and deeply religious movement.

“The human mind was not designed by evolutionary forces for finding truth. It was designed for finding advantage” Albert Szent-Györgyi

A native American speaks out
by XIOwntxNubIX 1 year ago!

A Colloquy with COUN-HA-CHEE of the Miccosukee Tribe scroll down base page.


An outstanding speech by Uruguay's president Mujica in Rio

Washington Speaks With Forked Tongue to Iran

By Finian Cunningham
Only days after American Vice President Joe Biden made a very public and tantalizing offer of bilateral talks between the US and Iran, there then follows another round of punitive trade sanctions imposed by Washington on Iran’s vital oil industry.

What to make of this seemingly contradictory US position? Some commentators say that the above anomalous attitude reflects a carrot-and-stick policy in Washington, by which incentives dangled in front of Iran are quickly followed by a blow of hardship, with the objective of forcing an end result.

The supposed end result in this case is that the Americans and their Western allies want Iran to demonstrate definitively to the rest of the world that it will never develop capability for nuclear weapons. This demonstration would be achieved, according to Washington, if Iran were to somehow give a cast-iron guarantee that it has circumscribed its nuclear technology and the crucial uranium-enrichment process.

So, this argument goes, if Iran were to comply with this desired objective by severely limiting its nuclear research and industry, then certain “carrots” will follow: a lifting of the crippling economic sanctions and a normalization of diplomatic relations.

That is the charitable view of the US position, a view that has been bolstered by the expectation that President Barack Obama in his second and final term in the White House is edging towards a more reasoned, less-hawkish and less Zionist-pandering foreign policy in the Middle East.

But there is another way of interpreting the US position towards Iran. Borrowing a phrase coined by the Native Americans who were continually deceived and dispossessed, it is more plausible that Washington is simply “speaking with a forked tongue” with regard to Iran. From this perspective, there are no intended concessions forthcoming from the US to Iran, in contradistinction to what Biden suggests, but rather all that will follow are unremitting hardships.

In this scenario of the US position, any concessions that might be made by Iran, in a reasonable expectation of reciprocation, will be cynically pocketed by Washington and its Western allies with nothing in return except more punitive demands.

How do we judge whether the US is adopting the more benign carrot-and-stick position or the pernicious forked-tongue approach to Iran?

History. Decades of American aggression and malfeasance towards Iran point to a beast that cannot simply change its predatory and nefarious habits over night. Last weekend, Iranian leaders responded to Biden’s words with the magnanimous caution that actions must speak louder than rhetoric.

While Biden arrogantly demanded that Iran has to show “good faith” for any putative negotiations to take place, the reality is that the onus is preponderantly on the US to decommission its arsenal of policies and practices of aggression towards Iran in order for the latter to treat any offer from Washington as being remotely sincere and worthy of respect.

The precedents do not bode well. Recall that in his first inaugural address in January 2009, Obama made a big play of rhetorical reconciliation towards Iran, promising that America would “extend a hand of friendship” if others would “unclench their fist”. What followed in practice was hardly a series of goodwill gestures, when American death squads assassinated several Iranian nuclear scientists.

Under Obama moreover, the US has unleashed three rounds of savage economic sanctions on Iran - on top of the decades-long embargoes that were already in place. Washington has press-ganged Europe and the rest of the world to comply with its crippling sanctions that have placed millions of Iranian lives at risk from shortage of essential medicines and other basic goods.

Obama has also overseen the increased use of surveillance drones over Iranian territory and the deployment of cyber warfare on Iranian society. The Stuxnet and Flame virus attacks on Iran that Washington launched in collusion with Israel can be seen as merely the first shots in a bigger onslaught with the declaration last week that the Obama administration intends to wage cyber war “preemptively”.

This history of overt and covert war of aggression on Iran by Washington - all of which is criminal - is the context in which the recent overtures for talks between the two countries must be evaluated. How is one expected to talk rationally with a demented, barbarous criminal who insists on a self-righteous right to attack the other party, including with the use of nuclear weapons?

To enter into such a framework of negotiations is delusional and indeed by doing so sets up a dangerous dynamic of one-sided concessions that will serve to embolden the aggressor.

The only proper framework for negotiations to take place between the US and Iran is for Washington to immediately halt all aggression towards the people of Iran. Primarily, this requires the reversal of all sanctions, American and European, imposed on Iran. Then, and only then, should Iran consider negotiations as being conducted with a modicum of good faith.

However, it is doubtful that such a reasonable criterion for talks will be met. This is because the problem that Washington and its Western allies have with Iran is not its alleged nuclear program. The real problem for these imperialist powers is Iran itself.

The Americans and their European puppets cannot abide the mere fact of an independent Iran - a country that believes in harnessing its resources for the development and benefit of the Iranian people, as opposed to the exploitation by Western capital and the Western-dominated global banking system; a country that is critical of Western militarism in the Middle East and Africa and other impoverished parts of the world; a country which defends the rights of Palestinian people who are being subjected to slow-motion genocide by the Western-backed Zionist regime.

These are some of the real issues why Washington is trying to defeat the Islamic Republic of Iran, the current leader of the Non-Aligned Movement (NAM). And Washington is using the spurious concern over Iran’s alleged “nuclear ambitions” as the pretext for what is, in plain truth, criminal imperialist aggression.


This is another reason why the carrot-and-stick characterization of US policy towards Iran is flawed. That concept is based on the false premise that Washington’s desired end result is the surrender of Iran’s right to nuclear technology. Not true. In reality, Washington wants the surrender of Iran as an independent country. That’s why America speaks to Iran with forked tongue.

Despite this seemingly bleak - albeit realistic - scenario in US-Iranian relations, there is nevertheless a positive note. Every effort to demonise Iran has backfired to elevate that country in the eyes of the world, while US standing has degenerated to gutter status. The unanimous support for Iran from more than 120 nations at the NAM summit in Tehran last August is symptomatic of the shift in international perceptions. Iran is building partnerships on every continent while the US is incinerating bridges.

Furthermore, as the surge in oil prices over the latest Washington sanctions on Iran portend, the American policy of aggression to vanquish Iran will more likely end up rebounding to wipe out what’s left of the imploding American and European economies. Iran should therefore resist any supposed overtures from the US. The empire, with its venomous forked tongue, is destroying itself. Let it writhe and wriggle all it wants.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. He is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in journalism. He is also a musician and songwriter. The author and media commentator was expelled from Bahrain in June 2011 for his critical journalism in which he highlighted human rights violations by the Western-backed regime.

This article was originally posted at Press TV

US Officials Confess to Targeting Iran’s Civilian Population

By Franklin Lamb

February 10, 2013   Tehran -- Azadeh, a graduate law student from Tehran University, reminded her interlocutors, of the obvious damming admissions last week by two US politicians:

“It would be a defense lawyer’s worst nightmare wouldn’t it? I mean to have one's clients, in this case the Vice-President of the United States and the outgoing Secretary of state confess so publicly to serial international crimes against a civilian population?”

The confessions and the crimes, she correctly enumerated to her audience, were those admitted to by US Vice-President Joe Biden and outgoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton this past week.Both of the US officials, in discussing US relations with the Islamic Republic, openly admitted that the US-led sanctions against Iran (and Syria) are politically motivated and constitute a "soft-war" against the nearly 80 million people of Iran (23 million people in Syria) in order to achieve regime change.

Mrs. Clinton, was the first of the dynamic duo to be heard from. She acknowledged that the harsh US sanctions were intended to target and send the people of Iran a message. “So we hope that the Iranian people will make known their concerns… so my message to Iranians is do something about this.”Some listening concluded she meant food riots and inflation riots to overthrow the Iranian government. An Australian Broadcasting Company interviewer asked Clinton on January 31 of last year: “If you have issues with the government of Iran, why destroy the Iranian people with the current sanctions in place? It's very difficult to find certain medicines in Iran. Where is your sense of humanity?” What the Clinton interrogator had in mind, she explained later, were the US-led sanctions reducing Iran’s GDP growth (-1.1% GDP) resulting in an inflation of 21.0% that is being felt mostly by the civilian population. As well as periodic food shortages in the supermarkets of such staples such as rice, there are price rises on everything. For example, per page printing for students is up as much as 400% and the cost of a used car up 300%. In general, supermarket items have risen 100 to 300 percent or higher over the past twenty-four months and, devastating for many, certain lifesaving medicines are no longer available. Clinton: “Well, first, let me say on the medicine and on food and other necessities, there are no sanctions.” This statement is utter nonsense and Mrs. Clinton knows it.

The targeting process by the US Treasury Department is well entrenched in Washington. When dear reader is next in Washington, DC, perhaps on a tour bus riding down NW Pennsylvania Avenue following a visit to the US Capitol, consider getting off the bus at 15th and Pennsylvania at the US Department of the Treasury. Walk around the main building and you will see an Annex building. This building, as Clinton knows well, and like Biden, has visited more than once, houses the Office of Financial Assets Control (OFAC). The well-funded agency’s work includes precisely targeting “food and medicines and other necessities” in order to force the civilian population of Iran to achieve regime change.

For more than two hundred years, since the War of 1812, when OFAC was founded to sanction the British, the office has become expert at imposing sanctions and it has done so more than 2000 times. OFAC currently uses a large team of specialists and computers to think-up, design, test, and send to AIPAC and certain pro-Zionist officials and members of congress their work-product topped off by recommendations.

OFAC and its Treasury Department associates have had a hand in virtually every US sanction applied to Iran since President Jimmy Carter issued Executive Order 12170 in November 1979 freezing about $12 billion in Iranian assets, including bank deposits, gold and other properties. From the State Sponsor of Terrorism Designation Act in 1979 to the Syria Accountability Act of 2004, more than a dozen Presidential Executive Orders including the 2011-2012 Executive orders which froze the US property of high-rankling Syrian and Iranian officials and more broadly E.O. 13582 which froze all governmental assets of the Syrian government and prohibited Americans from doing business with the Syrian government and banned all US import of Syrian petroleum products. What OFAC does with its data base is science not art. It can calculate quite precisely the economic effect on the civilian population of a single action designating one company, bank, government entity or infrastructure system of a country. OFAC, on behalf of its government, electronically wages a cold war against its civilian targets.

This week OFAC  and the Treasury Department blacklisted Iran’s state broadcasting authority, Islamic Republic of Iran Broadcasting, responsible for broadcast policy in Iran and overseas production at Iranian television and radio channels,  potentially limiting viewing and listening opportunities for Iran’s civilian population. Its director, Ezzatollah Zarghami, was included
in the action. Additionally sanctioned are Iran’s Internet-policing agencies and a major electronics producer. David S. Cohen, the pro-Zionist Treasury undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, who oversees the OFAC sanctions effort, reportedly following meetings with Israeli officials, said last week's actions were meant to “tighten the screws and intensify the economic pressure against the Iranian regime.”
In reality, the sanctions target the civilian population and the “Iranian regime” won’t be much affected. The same applies to Syria. Despite the public relations language that “food and medicine are exempted from the brutal US-led sanctions, as OFAC well knows, the reality is something else. They know well the chilling effects of the sanctions on international suppliers of medicines and food stuffs with respect to a targeted country. The US Treasury department has thousands of gigabytes of data confirming that the boards of directors of international business do not, and will not allow their companies to risk millions of dollars in profits by technically violating any of the thousands of details in the sanctions -- many of which are subject to interpretation -- for the sake of doing business with Iran or Syria. This is why there are severe shortages of medicines and certain foodstuffs in these sanctioned countries and to state otherwise is Orwellian News-Speak.

OFAC does not operate in a vacuum. It works closely with other US agencies including the 16 intelligence agencies that together make up the UN Intelligence Community. Together they have applied sanctions of great breadth and severity against the civilian populations of Syria and Iran. These sanctions have been bolstered on occasion by several direct and/or green-lighted Israeli assassinations and cyber-assaults, hoping to foment civil unrest to achieve regime change and other political goals.

A few days after Mrs. Clinton's somewhat inadvertent confession that the US government intentionally targets the civilian population of Iran, Vice President Joe Biden chimed in on the 4th of February that the US was ready to hold direct negotiations with Iran but added the caveat, "We have also made clear that Iran's leaders need not sentence their people to economic deprivation,” acknowledging as did Hillary that the US sanctions are intended to target and harm the Iranian and Syrian people. A senior Obama administration official described the latest step as “a significant turning of the screw,” meaning that the people of Iran face a “stark choice” between bowing to US demands and reviving their oil revenue, the country’s economic lifeblood or more and more sanctions will follow until they do.This targeting of Iran’s and Syria’s civilian population by US-led sanctions is a massive violation of the principles, standards and rules of international law and their most fundamental underpinnings which is the protection of civilians.

Some examples:

The 1977 Additional Protocols to the 1949 Geneva Conventions prohibit any measure that has the effect of depriving a civilian population of objects indispensable to its survival. Article 70 of Protocol I mandates relief operations to aid a civilian population that is “not adequately provided” with supplies and Article 18 of Protocol II requires relief operations for a civilian population that suffers “undue hardship owing to a lack of supplies essential for its survival, such as foodstuffs and medical supplies.”

Prohibition on Starvation as a Method of Warfare

• Under international humanitarian law, civilians enjoy a right to humanitarian assistance during armed conflicts.
• Art. 23 of the Fourth Geneva Convention obligates states to facilitate the free passage and distribution of relief goods including medicines, foodstuffs, clothing and tonics intended for children under 15, expectant mothers, and maternity cases.
• Art. 70 of Additional Protocol I prohibits interfering with delivery of relief goods to all members of the civilian population.
• US-led sanctions are prohibited by the principle of proportionality found in Arts. 51 and 57 of Additional Protocol I.
• Under the terms of Art. 3 common to the 1949 Geneva Conventions, humanitarian and relief actions must be taken. Pursuant to Art. 18(2) of Additional Protocol II, relief societies must be allowed to offer their services to provide humanitarian relief
• The US-led sanctions violate the Rule of Distinction between civilians and combatants

The Right to life

The US-led sanctions violate the right to life incorporated in numerous international human rights instruments including Art. 6 of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, 1966; Art. 2 of the European Convention for the Protection of Human Rights and Fundamental Freedoms, 1950; and Art. 4 of the African Charter of Human Rights, 1981.

The Rights of the Child

One of the groups most vulnerable to US-led sanctions in Syria and Iran are children. The rights of children are laid down in the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child, 1989, which currently stands as the most widely ratified international agreement. Most relevant in the context of the US-led sanctions are Arts. 6 and 24 of the Convention, according to which every child has the inherent right to life and the right to the highest attainable standard of health and access to medical services.

If "terrorism" means, as the United States government defines it as the targeting of civilians in order to induce political change from their government, what is it called when the American government itself applies intense economic suffering on a civilian population, causing malnutrition, illnesses, starvation and death in order to induce regime change?

The US-led sanctions against Iran and Syria are illegal, inhumane, ineffective, immoral and outrageous. They must be resisted every day by every person of good will, everywhere, until they are withdrawn.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in the Islamic Republic of Iran and is reachable c/o

US Forked Tongue Always in Action.
HRW: Hundreds of Afghan Children Killed in US Attacks

By Human Rights Watch

February 08, 2013 "
RAWA" --  (Geneva) – The United States government should promptly carry out the recommendations of a United Nations committee of experts to improve protection of children abroad from armed conflict. The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child released a report and recommendations to the US government on February 5, 2013.

The committee raised a number of concerns regarding US practices during armed conflict that were harmful to children, Human Rights Watch said. The committee said it was “alarmed” at reports of the deaths of hundreds of children from US attacks and air strikes in Afghanistan since the committee last reviewed US practices in 2008. It also expressed “deep concern” at the arrest and detention of children in Afghanistan, laws that exclude former child soldiers from securing asylum in the US, and presidential waivers to US laws that have allowed governments using child soldiers to receive US military assistance.

On January 16, the 18-member, Geneva-based committee conducted a formal review of US compliance with an international treaty, the Optional Protocol to the Convention on the Rights of the Child on the involvement of children in armed conflict. The protocol was ratified by the US in 2002. It bars governments from forcibly recruiting children under 18 and from using them in direct hostilities. It also requires countries to take steps to prevent the use of child soldiers and to rehabilitate and assist children who have been involved in armed conflict. The committee’s report and recommendations regarding US compliance with the protocol were adopted on January 28.

Among its recommendations, the committee urged the US to:

· Take precautionary measures to prevent killing and maiming civilians, including children, and investigate and bring to justice members of the US armed forces responsible for violations against children;

· Detain children associated with armed groups only as a measure of last resort, provide all children under 18 with special care and education, and ensure they are not transferred to another government’s custody if there is a risk of torture or ill-treatment;

· Apply a full prohibition on US arms exports and military assistance to countries where children are used as soldiers; and

· Improve access to asylum or refugee protection in the US for former child soldiers.

US forces have detained hundreds of children in Afghanistan, holding many of them for over a year with inadequate access to legal assistance, education, or rehabilitation services. Children under 18 have been detained with adults, contrary to international standards. Although most of these children have been transferred to Afghan custody, , Human Rights Watch expressed concern that such children may be subject to torture. UN reports have documented torture of numerous children by Afghan security forces.

The committee urged the US to separate detained children from adults, to grant the UN children’s fund, UNICEF, and other humanitarian agencies access to detained children, to provide detained children with legal assistance and juvenile justice procedures, to investigate cases of torture or ill-treatment, and to provide education and rehabilitation assistance for detained children.

In 2008, the US adopted a groundbreaking law, the Child Soldiers Prevention Act, which prohibits several categories of US military assistance to governments using child soldiers. However, President Barack Obama has invoked the law’s presidential waiver to allow continued military aid to governments using child soldiers including Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Libya, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen. The committee urged a full prohibition on military assistance to such countries and encouraged the US to consider amending the Child Soldiers Prevention Act to remove the presidential waiver provision.

Former child soldiers, including those who have been forcibly recruited into armed groups, face hurdles to asylum or refugee protection in the US. The US considers nearly all non-state armed forces to be “terrorist organizations” for purposes of immigration law, and people who fought with such groups are considered ineligible for asylum. The committee urged the US to adopt a discretionary exemption from the “terrorist activity” bar to allow former child soldiers to be considered on a case-by-case basis for asylum or refugee protection.

“The Child Soldiers Prevention Act can put real pressure on governments to stop using child soldiers,” Becker said. “Obama needs to give fewer waivers to countries abusing their children this way.”

The Forked Tongue (Legal contrivance):

Who’s going to step up? President Obama Must be Impeached

By Dave Lindorff

February 08, 2013 "
Information Clearing House" - If the Constitution is to have any relevance, and if America is to remain a free society, then there is really no alternative: there must be a bill of impeachment drawn up and submitted in the House, and there must at least be a hearing on that bill in the House Judiciary Committee.

The disclosure, by NBC, of a so-called “white paper” by the White House offering the legal justification for the executing of American citizens solely on the authority of the executive branch and the president exposes a White House so blatantly in violation of the Constitution that it simply demands such a hearing.

As Juan Cole explains clearly in an essay in Informed Comment, there are five ways that the white paper authorizing executive execution of Americans violates the Constitution. These, he explains, are:

There has to be an actual crime for there to be a punishment, and this paper authorizes execution without any crime.

If, as the letter suggests, the president’s authority to order executions without trial derives from the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) passed by the Congress, that would constitute a so-called bill of attainder, which he explains is a declaration that a certain person or class of people (i.e. terrorists in this case) are prima facie guilty of a crime. But as he notes, the Constitution specifically outlaws bills of attainder, saying in Article 1, Section 9, “No Bill of Attainder or ex post facto Law will be passed...”

The letter violates the separation of powers, according the president the powers of executive, legislature and judiciary

The letter violates the Sixth Amendment in the Constitution’s Bill of Rights, which guarantees everyone the right to a “speedy and public trial, by an impartial jury of the State and district wherein the crime shall have been committed, which district shall have been previously ascertained by law, and to be informed of the nature and cause of the accusation; to be confronted with the witnesses against him; to have compulsory process for obtaining witnesses in his favor, and to have the Assistance of Counsel for his defense.” Needless to say, an execution ordered by the president skips all of this.

Reliance on the AUMF for presidential executions such as that of American citizen Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16-year-old son means that President Obama, like President Bush before him, is claiming that the whole world (including the US) is a battlefield, and that he therefore has the absolute authority as

Commander in Chief, to kill anyone , anywhere in the world, that he deems to be an enemy or a threat. But such a concept is a complete violation of international law and sovereignty as defined by the UN Charter, a solemn treaty to which the US is a signatory, making it a fundamental part of US law.

There is no way around it. This president is a grave violator of the law and of the US Constitution. Like George W. Bush before him, it is incumbent upon the Congress to establish whether his transgressions rise to the level of an impeachable offense. Word that the Senate has successfully pressured the president to let the secretive Senate Intelligence Committee see the actual document being used to "justify" his authority to kill anyone he wants is not enough. The Intelligence Committee has been complicit in and apologist for most of America's worst violations of law and international law, plus it keeps the crimes secret from the American public, making it a useless body as far as freedom and democracy go.

I know, as the author of the book The Case for Impeachment (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), that this is a stretch demand. President Bush and his consigliere Vice President Dick Cheney were both serially in violation of the law and the Constitution, and the Democrats who controlled both houses of Congress back then, despite the Quixotic efforts of myself and others like former Congresswoman Liz Holtzman and fellow journalist John Nichols, failed to challenge either of them. At the time, I wrote that failure to hold Bush and Cheney to account for their outrages would mean a subsequent president could commit the same crimes with impunity.

President Obama has proved me correct.

Even though the House is now under the control of the opposition party, there is not the slightest sign that any member of either the Republican or Democratic Party dares to put forward a bill of impeachment. Democrats are unwilling to challenge the head of their party, while Republicans, chastened by the disaster that their petty impeachment of President Bill Clinton caused them, are afraid to get burned again.

But make no mistake. The abuse of power -- and the assumption by a president of the absolute, unchallengeable right to execute an American citizen, or anyone, actually, citizen or not -- by a president is a big step towards tyranny which, if unchallenged, is hard to step back from.

President Clinton fatally undermined the ancient common law right of habeas corpus in 1995. Nobody challenged him because he said it was a matter of fighting “terrorism.” Bush and Cheney gave us war without end and a global battlefield to fight it in, again raising the boogeyman of terrorism. Nobody challenged them. Now Obama is executing American citizens on his own authority, and even claiming the right to delegate that authority to his subordinates in the Executive branch. Once again the excuse is terrorism.

If these keeps up, the idea of a free society will be gone entirely.

Terrorism is not the threat. Passivity in the face of encroaching tyranny is.

Remember, those ever-multiplying drones that are flying now all over Africa, Asia and the Middle East, spying on the activities of the peoples of manynations and blowing up men women and children by the hundreds, are already coming back here to America. Mark my words: just like the violations of our vaunted freedoms enumerated above, these drones, which will first be used to monitor and spy on our hitherto Constitutional protected activities, will eventually carry the same Hellfire missiles that have been blowing up men women and children in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya and Somalia, and will begin blowing us up here in America too.

It’s only a matter of time.

If you think that is hyperbole, just imagine back to the year 2000, and try to recall if you ever could have imagined the US as a nation where the president could just order the termination of an American citizen or a 16-year-old kid on his own whim, or maintain a lengthy “kill list” in the Oval Office.

Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia has famously declared that the Constitution is not a living document, but rather a “dead” one. In saying that, he was trying in his inelegant way to suggest that it should not be interpreted in the light of current society but only can be what its authors intended. If President Obama is not challenged by an impeachment effort for his violations of the Constitution, that document may be far more dead than even Justice Scalia imagines.

Dave Lindorff graduated from Wesleyan University in 1972 with a BA in Chinese language. He then received an MS in Journalism from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism in 1975. A two-time Fulbright Scholar (Shanghai, 1991-2 and Taiwan, 2004), he was also a Knight-Bagehot Fellow in Economics and Business Journalism at Columbia University in 1978-79.

A former bureau chief covering Los Angeles County government for the Los Angeles Daily News, and a reporter-producer for PBS station KCET in Los Angeles, Lindorff was also a founder and editor of the weekly Los Angeles Vanguard newspaper, established in 1976, where he won the Grand Prize of the Los Angeles Press Club for his reporting. Lindorff also worked at the Minneapolis Tribune (now the Star Tribune), the Santa Monica Evening Outlook and the Middletown Press in Connecticut.

This article was originally posted at This Can't Be Happening

Copyright © 2013 This Can't Be Happening.

ISIS Report 13/02/13

GM Antibiotic Resistance in China's Rivers

Antibiotic resistance marker gene used in genetically modified crops found in bacteria isolated from all China's rivers Dr Eva Sirinathsinghji

Please circulate widely and repost, but you must give the URL of the original and preserve all the links back to articles on our website. If you find this report useful, please support ISIS by subscribing to our magazine Science in Society, and encourage your friends to do so. Or have a look at the ISIS bookstore for other publications

Genetically engineered antibiotic resistance

A new study conducted in China finds 6 out of 6 major rivers tested positive for ampicillin antibiotic resistant bacteria [1]. Sequencing of the gene responsible, the blá gene, shows it is a synthetic version derived from a lab and different from the wild type. This suggests to the researchers that synthetic plasmid vectors from genetic engineering applications may be the source of the ampicillin resistance, which is affecting the human population. The blá gene confers resistance to a wide range of therapeutic antibiotics and the widespread environment pollution with blá resistant bacteria is a major public health concern.

The development of antibiotic resistant pathogens, commonly dubbed “superbugs”, are increasingly common due to the overuse of antibiotics in medical and veterinary practices, and the ever-increasing application of genetic engineering to industrial processes including agriculture, biofuel fermentation and environmental remediation on top of laboratory research. Previously, genetic engineering experiments were confined to the laboratory, but with industrial and agricultural applications becoming more common over the last decade, the chances of uncontrolled discharge as well as deliberate release into the environment has widened. One prime example is the planting of genetically modified (GM) crops, many of which carry antibiotic resistant genes.

Genetic engineering uses plasmids - extra-chromosomal DNA molecules that naturally exist in bacteria and other unicellular species - for propagating and manipulating DNA sequences in research and in genetic modification of plants and animals. Plasmids often carry antibiotic resistance marker genes to allow selection with antibiotics for the modified DNA or cells carrying the gene of interest (see [2] (FAQ on Genetic Engineering, ISIS Tutorial). The presence of these antibiotic resistance genes and plasmids in the environment leaves open the possibility of the genes being taken up and transferred into the genetic material of unrelated species of bacteria, some of which may well be serious pathogens.

Horizontal gene transfer, the hidden hazards of genetic modification

The transfer of genes directly into the genetic material of cells, bypassing normal reproduction, is referred to as horizontal gene transfer, to distinguish it from the usual vertical gene transfer that occurs in natural reproduction within the same species or in some cases between closely related species.

Scientists including those in ISIS have issued repeated warnings since the 1990s on the dangers of horizontal gene transfer associated with genetic engineering and GM plants and animals that are released into the open environment [3-6] (Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases, ISIS scientific publication; Horizontal Gene Transfer - The Hidden Hazards of Genetic Engineering, ISIS/TWN report; GM DNA Does Jump Species, SiS 47; Scientists Discover New Route for GM-gene 'Escape', SiS 50), only to be met with denial and dismissal from the proponents and from our regulators.

Unnatural sources verified

The new study led by Jun Wen Li at Sechuan University reveals widespread contamination of 6 out of 6 major urban rivers (the Sungari, Haihe, Yellow, Yangtze, Huangpu and Pearl Rivers) with bacteria carrying a synthetic version of the blá gene [1]. The blá gene confers resistance to the most common class of antibiotics called ß-lactams, which includes besides ampicillin (a beta-lactam), the penicillin derivatives (penams), cephalosporins (cephems), monobactams, and carbapenems.

The researchers took samples from the rivers, extracted plasmids from bacteria present, and used PCR (polymerase chain reaction) and quantitative real-time PCR to assess the presence of blá DNA.  The assay was specific for the blá gene that comprises most recombinant plasmid strains, such as pBR322 and pUC19, both widely used for research and genetic modification. The detection rate varied from 21.9 % (in the Hai He River samples) to 36.4 % (in the Yangtze River samples). The Pearl and Hai He rivers showed the widest range of cephalosporin resistance from the blá gene present in bacterial samples, extending to 3rd- and 4th-generation drugs like cefotaxime and cefoperazone, while the range was narrower (e.g., cefalotin, cephazolin, cefmetazole, and cefoxitin) in samples from the other rivers tested.  Analysis confirmed that sequences “neighbouring” the blá sequences “most frequently represented artificial or synthetic constructs, including cloning, expression, shuttle, gene-fusion, and gene trap vectors” derived from recombinant laboratory plasmid vectors, identifying most strongly with pBR322; and confirming the artificial origin of the DNA that does not naturally exist in nature.

Metagenomic technology, which involves transforming environmental genomic DNA into a laboratory recipient strain, is a unique way to study complex genetic samples from ecosystems without purifying the strains. As this study concerned plasmids within environmental microbes, the procedure was modified so that the plasmids were extracted and electro-transformed directly into the laboratory strains. Antibiotics selection was used to identify clones expressing resistant plasmids, which were then isolated and analyzed. A plasmid metagenomic library of 205 environmental plasmid-carrying E. coli HB101 strains was constructed, which showed a positive bla´ rate of 27.3%. Furthermore, samples from all 6 rivers are also resistant to tetracycline. In addition, some transformants are resistant to other antibiotics such as gentamicin and sulfanilamides. With this technique focusing on plasmids, it is worth noting that plasmid sequences integrated into the bacterial genome were not investigated, and if measured, would likely increase the rate of antibiotic resistant gene contamination further.

The rivers sampled are in highly industrial areas, and the Pearl River in particular was previously reported the most polluted with antibiotics, though the study did not attempt to determine the source of the pollution. What is clear is that once recombinant (GM) plasmids or plasmid sequences are discharged into the environment, the DNA can spread to wild bacteria through the process of horizontal gene transfer. Thus, researchers suggest that horizontal gene transfer of genetically engineered plasmids to microbes in the soil or from lactic acid bacteria to human and animal gut microbes is a likely consequence of such pollution, and may well underlie the rise in antibiotic resistance in animals as well as humans.

But there is another likely major source of GM antibiotic resistance, and that is from GM crops planted in the fields.

GM crops a source of synthetic antibiotic resistant genes?

The majority of GM crops already released commercially or field trialled in the open environment carry antibiotic resistant genes derived from the synthetic plasmids that were used for genetic modification. China both grows and imports GM foods and trees, many of which harbour the blá gene including: Syngenta’s Bt11 Yieldgard Maize and Bt176 NaturGard Knockout Maize, Monsanto’s Mon21 Roundup Ready Maize and Bayer’s ZM003 Liberty Link Maize. China has also been developing many GM crops, including rice [7]. Bt ‘Shanyou’63, was already the subject of controversy since 2005; the unapproved variety (both in China and other countries) illegally sold and planted in Hubei province, contaminated Chinese rice products exported to Europe and Japan, and has been detected in China and various countries since then. Bt63 was developed in Huazhong Agriculture University in Wuhan, Hubei Province. As recently as July 2009, the European Union called on China to tighten export controls on rice products because shipments might contain traces of the Bt 63 strain, which is not authorized in the European Union [8]. Perhaps it is not a coincidence that the Yangtze River, one of those tested in the study, runs through the Hubei province.

To conclude

This study is the first to address the potential pollution of our environment with antibiotic resistant genes from genetic engineering experiments. It provides the first comprehensive and direct evidence of horizontal gene transfer from genetic engineering and genetic modification. It can be predicted that similar findings will emerge elsewhere, if the appropriate molecular probes are used with the most sensitive PCR assays, which hitherto has not been done.


1. Chen J, Jin M, Qiu ZG, Guo C, Chen ZL, Shen ZQ, Wang XW, Li JW. A Survey of Drug Resistance bla Genes Originating from Synthetic Plasmid Vectors in Six Chinese Rivers. Environmental Science & Technology 2012, 46, 13448-54.

2. Ho MW. FAQ on Genetic Engineering. ISIS Tutorial

3. Ho MW, Traavik T, Olsvik R. Tappeser 0B, Howard V, von Weizsacker C and McGavin G. Gene Technology and Gene Ecology of Infectious Diseases.Microbial Ecology in Health and Disease1998, 10, 33.

4. Ho MW.Horizontal Gene Transfer. The Hidden Hazards of Genetic Engineering, TWN Biotechnology Series, Third World Network, 2001.

5. Ho MW. GM DNA does jump species. Antibiotic resistance not the only risk. Science in Society 47, 30-33, 2010

6. Ho MW. Scientists Discover New Route for GM-gene “Escape”.Science in Society 50, 14-16, 2011

7. International Service for the Aquisition of Agri-Biotech Applications. 22nd January 2013.

8. GM Rice in China – Any Closer? 22nd January 2013


A Colloquy with COUN-HA-CHEE of the Miccosukee Tribe

Posted by Guido Mina di Sospiro on December 8, 2012

During both my childhood and adolescence I read countless books—some historical, most fictional—on the struggle “Red Man vs. White Man,” always rooting for the designated loser, i.e., the Native American. Despite that, here in the US I never sought to meet with a Native American. It took the Editor-in-Chief of an Italian travel magazine to make me do just that. When I lived in Miami back in the Nineties, he asked me as a favor to write an article on the Miccosukee, of Creek descent, who dwell in South Florida’s Everglades. I drove out to meet with their public relations manager, who in turn directed me to their village. There, he introduced me to various members of the tribe, including a meek and serene man, a “promulgator of the Old Ways.” As it turned out, he came from a family of healers, or medicine men, as he himself called them.

In the article I published in the magazine I did mention COUN-HA-CHEE but none of the things he revealed to me; it was just not the right readership for them. But I did tape our exchange, and transcribed every word of it.

During our colloquy COUN-HA-CHEE spoke very slowly, each word much apart from the other, sotto voce, sometimes down to a whisper. The reader, while reading my questions at a normal pace, should make an effort and read his words extremely slowly. Clearly, he spoke as a spokesperson with a voice not exclusively his. I’ve added some endnotes. It is COUN-HA-CHEE himself who uses the word “Indian.” There follows the colloquy, transcribed word for word (my questions in italics).


“The Miccosukee Indians and maybe all of the native Americans have always had stories about the white people. We were told that when these white people arrive they would signal the beginning of the end of the Earth. And for us, we were told to recognize these people. We have, in our vocabulary, an ancient word; and in our vocabulary we have two names that are both ancient and they refer to white people. The first word is AH-NAHT-KEE. AH-NAHT-KEE in the Miccosukee language refers to ‘not humans’—an existence that resembles human but that is not human. The second word is YAHT-TAT-KEE. YAHT-TAT-KEE is a white human being.”

“So most whites are AH-NAHT-KEE?”

“When we see destruction being condoned, we refer to it as AH-NAHT-KEE. We refer to the condoning[i] of the killing of nature as the way of the AH-NAHT-KEE.

“We see people who live an everyday way of life such as yourself. We see people approach us, and they talk and they ask questions about Old Ways; we refer to them as YAHT-TAT-KEE. YAHT-TAT-KEE is a white human being. We feel that Old Ways of Native Americans were also taught to all children around the world, and for some reason most of the people around the world forgot them. They laid them aside for the sake of progress. Maybe it was to gather more food, maybe their thoughts were on their food, but for some reason they laid down the teachings. And when they got to the pinnacle of what they were after, they forgot to bring the teachings with them. But we feel that all the people around the world have the same teachings as the American Indians; only, they have not decided to pick them back up.”

“Blinded by greed?”

“For us, we were introduced to money. Money never existed here in this Land.[GMdS1]  We were introduced to it in the time that the Spaniards came. We fought with the Spaniards because they were killing our people. And they couldn’t defeat us, and our Land, so they made peace with us. And they gave us money, guns, horses, cows, and traded for the natural products of this Land. For us, squash, beans, pumpkins, tomatoes, potatoes, sweet potatoes, corn—all of the natural produce of this Land. It was food like the Spaniards never saw before. But they needed it to survive here. They did not recognize it as food, we introduced it to them. So they gave us money; we didn’t know what to do with it; so we made jewelry out of money. It was not important, and for our people we still carry on this way of thinking, that money is very bad. But today not only the Indian people see it as being bad; we even hear the white people refer to it as ‘root of all evil.’ So we assume that they also understand.

“For us, we are told that if you take a person’s existence and you follow his ways and at death you make him into a symbol or a part of life that the world cannot live without, then you are doing a very bad thing, you are creating a sickness. When human beings die you should not use that person’s spirit in place of God. So most of the time that you see Miccosukee Indians you will find that they carry very little or no money at all. And the Miccosukee Indians will tell you that the reason for this is because the Americans at death of their people have taken their faces and put them on to this piece of paper; and the piece of paper which has taken the place of religion and way of life. A piece of paper with a picture that they will kill you for, they are all willing to die for.

“So you will find the Miccosukee Indians carrying very little or no money at all, because we feel that it is carrying the ghost of a person, and an idol.”

“And where does the spirit go when a man dies?”

“For our people, we have been asked many times where the American Indian believes that the spirit of human beings travel to. When we tell them that we believe that there is such a place as heaven that they speak of, they will ask us, ‘Where do you believe heaven is?’ We tell them that heaven is not beyond the blue sky as you look upward. Heaven is only as far away as the air that you breathe[ii]; that the air that makes life possible is the only thing that hides heaven from the eyes of human beings; that the air that we breathe, if it is to open, you will see heaven. It hides it from us. We are told that someday the existence of air, those particles that make up air will open, split apart. And when they open, you will see heaven, and you will be able to cross.

“So for that reason the American Indians have always been very careful in what they say and what they do. The Old Ways that has taught to them to treat life as sacred is because they realize that God is not a billion light years away, but it is right here, and only the air is hiding it. So if you can touch the air, you are touching the very existence that hides God.”

“Is there any way by which you can reach this Otherness without leaving your body, without dying?”

“For our people, we are told that there is travel, but this gift they share with those who have already crossed over. If you die and you cross through the air that hides heaven you will find that the air itself is a darkness; you will have to go through this darkness. But in going through this darkness through the other side, if you choose when you are with God that you want to come back with your relations… it is possible. It’s a gift. So you can come back across and visit. But for our people, the American Indians, we find that this gift is not only recognized by American Indians, but by all people around the world. Only they don’t see it as a gift; they see it as something unnatural. They speak a lot about ghosts, ‘a ghost must be in the house, or, a ghost makes this noise,’ but they see it as something unnatural. We don’t see it as something unnatural—we see it as a gift.”

“And can anything of the sort happen, in your experience, while the person is still alive? To be able to reach this Otherness? To break through these air particles, and then come back? Something like an altered state? Hallucinogens, special drugs prepared by the medicine man?”

“For our people, not much of how you can see the other side is taught to us, but we are told that you can see those who left. And there is a way to see. But this way to see you will have to use an animal. But it is very bad to take such an existence just to benefit your own curiosity of what it looks like. But we are taught of how to do it, and we need an animal to do it, and we don’t sacrifice the animal—the animal has to be alive. And we will take something from the animal while it’s living and we will use it, and that makes it possible to see.

“Have you done it?”

“I will not go that way.”

“Is it something only for shamans or for anybody among you?”

“Anyone. Anyone can do it.”

“Don’t you need a special training or a certain frame of mind?”

“For the Miccosukee Indians, we find that it is something that no-one will ever attempt.”

“How do you know it’s there?”

“The culture of our people is taught through personal experiences. For myself, I didn’t need it.

“In an accident in my past I was able to cross. For me, I found myself from an accident unable to talk, unable to get up off the ground. And I saw people coming around me trying to lift me up and in the beginning I could hear them talking, ‘Are you OK? Can you stand up?’ By then I could no longer hear their voices, I could only see the movements of their mouths. As I fell back to the Earth, I lay as people stood around me. I looked up to a little small light that was flashing in the background, and this little pin light was flashing and I kept my eyes focused on it and it appeared to be growing. As I watched it, it grew and grew and pretty soon this little pin light grew to be as large as the sun. And I was thinking, ‘There are two suns!’ And this other light, this sun got so large that I couldn’t see the ends. From the light that covered the blue sky I looked to the left and I could not see the end of that light; I looked to the right, I could not see the end of that light. And as I looked directly into the light, it appeared that this gigantic light was going to crash into the earth and to destroy all that is living. The thought that I felt by looking into that was that of the impact with the Earth. I closed my eyes, and as I did I felt that light rush through my body. At the time that it rushed through my body, it pushed my hair into the ground, and I felt my hair waving through the air with force. It made my hair mingle with the Earth.

“At that point I felt a calmness, and I opened my eyes. I found myself floating above my body as a crowd was gathered around it. I looked down on it and I was thinking to myself, ‘There are two people like me—I am up here in the air and there’s another one of me in the ground…’ At that point, my body spun around and I headed the way the sun goes down. As it traveled on through the darkness, this darkness finally broke to light.

“As I got into the light, I found a place where the Earth was smooth but not flat, and covered with the light that we see here, but more beautiful. And everywhere that I looked I saw people—smiling and walking around. So those people looked up at me and they were pointing to me, and I was thinking to myself, ‘I need to be down there where those people are, that is where I belong…’ And I got the feeling that I was never going to be with them, that I was going to just hang in the air forever. Those on the ground kept pointing at me, looking at me—and all of a sudden I felt myself being pulled backwards, feet first.

“I went back through the darkness and I opened my eyes a second time: I was in an infirmary, covered with ice, and an attendant said: ‘You came back! We thought we lost you!’[iii]

“I that point I realized that there is more to this life than just walking this Earth, that there is a purpose for us here. These images I’ll never forget, and when they speak of it, I remember every second. There is a way to cross over. And the Miccosukee Indians can see it, but not cross, but we can see it.” (A long pause followed. These last words have been whispered, each one very spaced  apart from the preceding and following one.)

“Do you have any other questions?” (By then my mind was not asking any other questions, nor was my mouth.)

“I was wondering, going back to a more mundane level, about the beautiful tale that you told me, before I started taping, about the boy going out to hunt—one, two, three times, four times, and finally he is allowed to partake of the food, because by then he’s learned that he is hunting for the clan, for the family, not for himself. So the fact that he too can eat of his own prey comes as a surprise. That’s one 4. Then there is the other 4—the four elements you mentioned, the four logs in the fire, starting with Mother Earth, oriented towards sunup, and then, counterclockwise, the Plants, the Animals and finally us, human beings. And then there are the four colors, which are the four colors of the human races, unmixed, that is…”

“The four sacred colors are also connected with the four directions—East, North, West and South. These four colors play an importance at healing ceremonies. For our people, we find that these four colors that we have always been using throughout the history of our people’s existence. Today we realize that what we have always been told were the most sacred of colors—because they are to be used for healing—are the colors of the human beings.”

“You must have wondered why it is that 4 is a magical number?” [iv]

“For us you find that the numbers which are most often used among the Miccosukee Indians are Two and Four. When we go hunting for food, we always go out in two; when you go into a dance for a religious ceremony, there are two dances; when you have the ceremonies for healing, you will find four elements being used. Four our people you will find that any healing rituals the time given is to follow a specific fasting period—it comes in four.

“For us it has always been such a simple way of life, and to us it never seems mysterious. This way of life, we are told, must be followed; and if you do not follow it, we are told that your journey to the other side will be filled with punishment.

“For us, we hear of outside people saying that there is a heaven and that there is a hell. And they tell you that the religion that came to this Land from across the ocean spoke of ten thousand years. We do not understand that teaching. But if it is a teaching where human beings believe in God, then we accept that teaching.

“For our people, we believe that the teaching is a gift, that it must be treated as a gift—you must take care of it and cherish it as a gift. So for Miccosukee Indians, the religion of our people has kept intact; it’s cherished; it’s protected.

“For our people, we know that there are ways in which man first exist and never go against. We understand that there is a delicate balance. That delicate balance is delicate only for man. And we understand that if we upset that delicate balance, we hurt ourselves and not hurt other life. And so we are taught that we must treat our life with great respect. When you take an animal’s life, you treat it with great respect. You honor the gift of life that was shared with you. And we are told that the animal gives itself to you. And the Miccosukee Indians when they go hunting they sing a song. They will speak the night before they go hunting of what animal they are going to look for. And when they go looking for that animal, if they come across another animal, they do not kill it, because the night before, that is not what they spoke of. They will continue on their journey in search of that animal that they spoke of. If that animal chooses to give itself to the Miccosukee Indians, it will appear. It will look at you. And it will prepare for its death. If the animal does not give itself to you, then on the way home another animal sees your flight and recognizes that you are here searching for food, and it dies give itself to you.

“For our people, we have way in which we prepare the animal. Not all of the animal is allowed to be eaten by man, or a woman. Certain parts of the animal woman cannot eat. Only a Miccosukee man. Certain parts of the animal, man or woman, is not allowed to eat. We are taught to give it as an offer of thanks to God.

“For us, we still follow these Old Ways.

“You have come to a place where we still hide many things from the outside world. The outside world we feel is not ready to know about many things that we have. We can offer them as gifts to them, but they will offer these gifts for destruction. So the American Indians as a whole have in their possessions many things that will aid mankind. But this day, mankind is not ready for them. [v]

“503 ago your ancestors came. They shot us, but they will not remember us. And today they still follow that way. The day that they show us that they are human beings, the American Indians will give all our secrets. Not today.

“For our people, we are told stories that we see coming true, and we sit and watch prophecies as they unfold, and we wonder what can we say to the world that can awaken them. And we find ourselves sitting and watching prophecies come to pass without saying anything at all to the world. We find that prophecies have already been set and timetables to be up to us when the end should come. We know the beginning, we know the end. And we know that it is up to man.”

“The Mayan Calendar ends in year 2012; that would appear to be the end of this world. Some might be able to cross over into the other dimension, but most of us would be gone. Chronologically, you tell me: Do you think it is around that time?”

“We were told that in the end the people who have come to this Land will construct paths that mark this Land to resemble a spider web, and that all of these paths that they construct will be only used as for escapement, or that they only do it in preparation for what they know is the end. They say that when they make these paths on this Land, they will make a mark on each path to show you that they are ready for war, that they are ready for the end. And this path will be marked as a way to escape that. In 1994 the American Indians, the Miccosukee, travel this Land and we see just about every paved path that the Americans build marked with a blue sign that says ‘Evacuation Path’. We are told that the end would be near.

“The sign you will look for beside that is that the Earth will start to heat up. As the Earth starts to heat up, life that you have never seen will start to appear. That life will have a rebirth. And life the way that God created it in the beginning. We will come back full circle.

“For us, when we sit and listen to these stories, we wonder if the time isn’t here. We see the roads of the American say ‘Evacuation Routes.’ We hear the world speaking of pollution that they have caused to have built over a thin layer of protection from the sun’s radiation—the intense heat; they say that they have broken a hole through it which is allowing deadly heat to come in. They are saying to us that the Earth will become like a green house. We are hearing from the scientific community life that they are creating that never existed before, but they are creating it. We are hearing from the scientists they feel that they are able, with their technology of today, to bring back dinosaurs. And we sit here and we are reminded that life will end in the way that God created it.

“When he first created life, Earth spoke; trees spoke; animals spoke. And today we are told that around the world people are finding ways to talk with animals and have animals talk back with them. And any day of the week we can turn on a television set and through animation we can see Earth talking; we can see trees talking; and we can see animals talking.

“But the last sign, we haven’t seen yet. There is one more sign that will come and that will be the last. That one we rarely speak of. We feel that it is better that world does not hear.”

“I respect that.”

“We go to religious ceremonies, and the religious ceremony is very special to my people. In the religious ceremonies, we have medicine bundles. And these medicine bundles tell us of the future. In these medicine bundles we carry spirits that travel from place to place and return back to the bundle. And it is through their travel that we are told what is coming in the year. For our people, more and more we find that the bundles, when traveling, sometimes do not return. And for us that tells us that there is an imbalance—they have always returned. If you were to take a piece of the medicine bundle of the Miccosukee Indians and take it into a room and place it on a table and lock the door with no windows to the room, and you returned another day and opened that room, you would find the idol from the medicine bundle to have vanished, but if you open up the medicine bundle it will be there again. Sometimes they do not return and sometimes that makes us worry.

“For the Miccosukee Indians, we are very religious people, we believe that the Earth talks; we believe that the trees talk; and we believe that the animals talk. And we believe that we are all that’s left to exist, the ones that have the least to offer—and we have no teaching. And for us we really believe that if we don’t follow the Old Ways, we bring the timetable closer for the end of the Earth.

“For the Miccosukee Indians you will find that the change you just spoke of (off tape, I had touched upon a burgeoning global environmental awareness) is not a rebirth, but is the shaking of a sick person. Something needs to be done to heal that person. We feel that as a human being we have been called upon as warriors. The American Indian is a warrior. And the warriors have always existed, since the creation of the Second Human Being. But warriors never fought among each other. The reason warriors were created was to continue a fight to keep religion alive. Warriors were not created to fight and kill.

“We are warriors, but we are warriors to keep the words of God; we are not warriors to kill people. We are still here. The Miccosukee Indians are those warriors that are trying to keep religion alive.

“The day that the human being forgets the Old Ways is the day that Earth will die. So every day we speak after the Old Ways so that the Earth will stay alive.

“In the year 2012 my children will be here. And I will teach them that it is their responsibility to keep the Earth alive. As brothers to the animals, the trees—and the Earth is our Mother. We’ll have to be prepared.”

[i] I kept my interruptions down to a minimum, for his words were music to my ears. More detachedly, it should be pointed out that the killing of nature has not only been condoned by the White (or Western) man, but encouraged.

[ii] I am reminded of Terence McKenna’s “the Otherness is with us, it runs a life parallel to ours.” (Quoting from memory.)

[iii] I was really after was their way of reaching the Otherness—the one he alluded to and that entails using an animal. Perhaps it was too soon to press him for that.

[iv] This point would deserve a treatise. C.G. Jung, for example, wrote in great detail about the concept of quaternity, alchemical and otherwise. The 4 material elements appear in various traditions, and so do the 4 cardinal directions. Then there are the 4 goals of life, the 4 stages of life, and the 4 world ages in Hinduism; the 4 requirements for practicing Vedanta; the 4 refuges in Jainism; the 4 noble truths, the 4 levels of formless realization, and the 4 universal feelings, all according to Buddhism, as well as the 4 stages of Buddhist meditation; the 4 covenants in Judaism; the 4 last things in Christianity; the 4 steps to God in Sufism; the 4 levels of existence according to the Kabbalah; etc. That the Miccosukee myths and practices would hinge upon the numbers 2 and 4 does not surprise me. Not only because the 4 suns are a tradition of the Native Americans, but especially because Native Americans have never stopped living in tune with nature, and two and four are exceedingly natural numbers. The interplay of opposites is at the root of life as we know it, regardless of one’s cultural canons.

[v] I am persuaded that they do hold many secrets. And it is most wise to keep them from us, for Western man can only magnify the unknown, can only take magic out of context and use it to his mundane ends.

[vi] Suddenly, COUN-HA-CHEE brought back the date I had mentioned much earlier. He too confirmed the date of the end of the spiral, the beginning of a new phase.


About the author

Guido Mina di Sospiro is an award-winning, internationally published novelist born in Argentina, and raised in Italy. He belongs to an ancient aristocratic Italian family, and grew up in Milan in a multilingual home.

He trained as a classical guitarist and studied orchestration with the Swiss conductor Antoine-Pierre de Bavier, who had been Wilhelm Furtwängler’s favorite pupil. The Hungarian composer Miklós Rózsa, who wrote the soundtracks of “Ben-Hur,” “El Cid,” “Double Indemnity,” etc., and won three Academy Awards, used to spend his summers across from the Mina di Sospiro’s seaside home in Italy. Then in his seventies, he took young Guido under his wing and acquainted him with the University of Southern California, where he and Arnold Schönberg had taught composition.At twenty, after attending the University of Pavia and making a feature film that premiered at the National Cinémathčque in Milan, Mina di Sospiro left Italy to attend USC School of Cinema-Television. Among his mentors were Ernest Lehman, Hitchcock’s favorite screenwriter and, later on, Christopher Sinclair-Stevenson, the celebrated English editor and publisher, who launched among others William Boyd, Peter Ackroyd and Paul Theroux.Mina di Sospiro’s novel “The Story of Yew” (the memoirs of an age-old tree), published in the UK, is permanently featured on the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and has been translated into many languages, as has “From the River”, the memoirs of a mighty river. Both books have met with critical acclaim.