October 22, 2014

Charles Glass on the ‘improving’ situation in Syria

Louis Proyect’s home page includes links to his essays on Marxism, Trotksyism and the American left. He is the moderator of the Marxism mailing list. His articles have appeared in many international publications. He is also a member of the NY Film Critics Online, Proyect’s subject here, Charles Glass, is an author, journalist, and broadcaster specializing in the Middle East. Glass has dual US/UK citizenship and lives variously in France, Italy, Britain and Lebanon. Since August 2013, he has been the Middle East analyst for NBC News. Charles Glass is an interesting man. His Wikipedia entry is here (last modified on October 14, 2014).

Charles Glass on the “improving” situation in Syria
Louis Proyect Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist USA October 22, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

The latest issue of the New York Review of Books has an article by Charles Glass titled “In the Syria We Don’t Know” that has been making the rounds on the Internet. I have seen links to it from Vijay Prashad on Twitter, on the Greenleft mailing list in Australia, and just this morning on ZNet. Apparently, those who link to it must have taken heart in Glass’s assurance that the Baathists were getting the upper hand:
As Bashar’s prospects improve with each American sortie against his enemies in the east of the country, Damascus and the populous towns to the north have been enjoying a respite of sorts from war. The Syrian Ministry of Education reported that, of the 22,000 schools in the country, more than 17,000 of them reopened on time in the middle of September. Needless to say, almost all of the functioning schools are in government-held areas. The souks in the old city of Damascus, unlike their more extensive and now destroyed counterparts in Aleppo, are open. Shops selling meat, vegetables, spices, and other basic items to the local population are doing well, although the tourist boutiques in and around the famous Souk Hamadieh have no customers apart from UN workers and a few remaining diplomats. At night, restaurants in most neighborhoods are, if not full, nearly so. Everything from wine to grilled chicken is plentiful, albeit at prices higher than before the war. Traffic remains heavy, although somewhat less obstructed since June when the government felt confident enough to remove many of its checkpoints. Electricity is intermittent, and those who can afford private generators use them in the off-hours.

So, any normal person—especially those who prefer RT.com to Aljazeera—would conclude that it was best for Assad to stay the course, no matter how many barrel bombs it takes to level Aleppo and other cities to the ground just as long as there is meat, vegetables, and spices for sale in Damascus.

I took note of Glass in an article titled “The Betrayal of the Intellectuals on Syria” that was rejected by the publishers of Critical Muslim because they feared it would run afoul of British libel laws. I post the relevant section below:

Arguably, the New York Review of Books and its counterpart the London Review of Books have served as latter day equivalents of Action Française, serving propaganda for a vicious dictatorship that has little connection to its self-flattering image as a beacon of human rights.

Even when the title of an NY Review article foreshadows a condemnation of the Ba‘athists, the content remains consistent with the “plague on both your houses” narrative that pervades this intellectual milieu. In a December 5th 2013 article titled “Syria: On the Way to Genocide?”, Charles Glass ends up echoing the talking points of more openly Ba‘athist elements:

The introduction of chemical weapons, which have been alleged to have been used not only by the government but by the rebels as well, was only the most dramatic escalation by combatants who seek nothing short of the annihilation of the other side.

As is so often the case, the use of the passive voice allows the writer to condemn the rebels without any evidence. “Alleged to have been” leads to the obvious question as to who is responsible for the allegation. Was it Vladimir Putin? Assad’s propaganda nun Mother Agnes Mariam? Inquiring minds would like to know.

On August 20th 2012 Glass penned another article for the Review titled “Aleppo: How Syria Is Being Destroyed” that portrayed the rebels as a wanton mob invading the civilized city. He wrote:

While the urban unemployed had good reason to support a revolution that might improve their chances in life, the thousands who had jobs at the beginning of the revolution and lost them when the Free Army burned their workplaces are understandably resentful. There are stories of workers taking up arms to protect their factories and risking their lives to save their employers from kidnappers.

Since Charles Glass is a Middle East analyst for NBC News, it is not surprising that he can allude to ‘stories’ of workers taking up arms against the rebels to protect the bosses. NBC is a subsidiary of General Electric, and naturally its analyst will find arguments for preserving Ba‘athist rule. You can do business with al-Assad, but the plebian rebels might be as difficult to deal with as the Libyan militias.

Posted at: October 22, 2014 - 12:21 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

From within a culture of fear, surveillance, war and exploitation, commentary on Canada’s current foreign and domestic policies

Neoliberal authoritarianism has changed the language of politics and everyday life through a poisonous public pedagogy that turns reason on its head and normalizes a culture of fear, war and exploitation. - Henry A. Giroux, “Beyond Orwellian Nightmares and Neoliberal Authoritarianism”, October 15, 2014

Harper’s foreign policy confirms Orwell’s insights
Murray Dobbin TheTyee.ca British Columbia Canada October 20, 2014

It’s getting difficult to remember a time when the Canadian Parliament actually tried to make principled decisions regarding foreign policy and our place in the community of nations. But we should try. Perhaps a first step in returning to such a time was the decision of the NDP and Liberal Party to oppose Stephen Harper’s most recent ill-considered and cynical march to war with his decision to join the bombing of Iraq.

Harper’s amoral political calculations about who and when to bomb people has little to do with any genuine consideration of the geopolitical situation or what role Canada might usefully play — or even in what Canada’s “interests” are. So long as he is prime minister it will be the same: every calculation will be made with the single-minded goal of staying in power long enough to dismantle the post-war activist state. The nurturing of his core constituency includes appeals to a thinly disguised pseudo-crusade against Islamic infidels, a phony appeal to national security (preceded by fear-mongering) and in the case of Ukraine, a crude appeal to ethnic votes.

Reinforcing this legacy is a mainstream media that lets him get away with it, and in particular, refuses to do its homework while the bombing — or posturing — is taking place and then refuses to expose the negative consequences of the reckless adventures. The result is what cultural critic Henry Giroux calls “the fog of historical and social amnesia.”

The three most obvious examples are Harper’s extremist policy in support of Israel, his joining with France and the U.S. in the catastrophic destruction of the Libyan state and his infantile posturing on the Russia-Ukraine conflict. And now we have Harper’s mini-crusade (six fighter bombers for six months) against ISIS or the Islamic State. With rare exceptions the media has gone along with him at every turn, treating Canadians as children incapable of navigating the nuances of foreign policy.

Below: Matthew Behrens is a freelance writer and social justice advocate who co-ordinates the Homes not Bombs non-violent direct action network. He has worked closely with the targets of Canadian and U.S. ‘national security’ profiling for many years. His column was completed before the unfortunate event in Quebec Monday that took the life of a Canadian soldier and before the events in Ottawa today began unfolding.

Demonizing those Canada calls ‘radicalized’
Matthew Behrens rabble.ca Canada October 22, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Scare headlines about young people becoming “radicalized,” going overseas, being transformed into robotic Super Muslims, graduating from Beheading School, and being returned to Canada ready to strike at the heart of our values, freedoms, and traditions have filled the media in the past few months, leading to an upcoming Canadian campaign of bombing Iraq and repressive new legislation to be introduced this week in Parliament.

Given the Fourth Estate’s role as stenographer to power, it is unsurprising that the many articles asking “why” young people are attracted to overseas adventures are all playing into the same “blame Islam” game that results in horrible “jihad” headlines, increased fear, and suspicion of anyone who does not look like the CBC’s Peter Whitemansbridge.

Like similar moral panics that have framed particular groups as the new internal enemy, young people both idealist and alienated now fit the focus of terror suspect, especially if they are Muslim and plan to travel overseas to visit relatives, learn Arabic, or just backpack around. Yet despite all the hyped-up chatter, no one has produced any evidence to show a threat exists to Canada and Canadians from the small number who have joined up in battling the Assad regime in Syria or worked with ISIS. We are told that some 80-130 individuals have gone overseas to be associated with terrorism, but this is always qualified by telling us not everyone is picking up a gun: some are fundraising, some are doing propaganda, some are just helping out with who knows what, from taking out the trash to helping the elderly cross the street. Regardless of what they are doing, Canada’s terrorism laws are so broad that anyone associated in any way with a particular group will be tarred as a national security threat.

CSIS, Canada’s spy agency, says it knows who has gone overseas and is monitoring them upon their return. RCMP head Bob Paulson was pretty clear when he told Parliament earlier this month: “It’s nothing that I think Canadians need to be alarmed about.” Sir Richard Dearlove, former M16 head, said the returning rebel threat was “exaggerated” and former M16 officer Richard Barrett said “the threat of the returning fighter is a small one.” Chief Canadian Forces warlord Tom Lawson told the media that there was “no indication of direct threats” to members of his military.

The disconnect between rhetoric and reality creates a void that gets filled by the “radicalization” experts, many of whom contribute to the demonization of young people who may, with the best of idealistic intentions, feel great sadness at seeing war, mass murder, and utter despair, and want to do something about it. This doesn’t justify the violent actions some may allegedly take part in, nor the rhetoric of fear they may spout while overseas. But Harper and company have done a good job making them out to be the worst possible incarnations of human flesh imaginable.

The solutions to “radicalization” have long been studied and discussed at a variety of gatherings. In 2009, the Canadian War Department’s Adversarial Intent Section held a workshop titled “Radicalization in the National Economic Climate,” trying to determine possible links between the global recession and extremist responses. Invited to the Toronto gathering were Canadian spy agency CSIS, the Mounties, Citizenship and Immigration Canada, and assorted academics from the terrorism industry who weighed in on the possibilities, but most attendees found no direct link between extremism and the global recession.

However, the University of Toronto’s Robert Brym, among others, chimed in that immigrant groups are most likely to radicalize and concluded that one solution was stepped-up monitoring of “groups and places that may pose a threat,” including “locations where Halal products are sold.” Notably, most national grocery chains now sell Halal products, and one can purchase hummus (which sounds disturbingly like a group the Canadian government has listed as terrorist, Hamas) pretty much everywhere.

Brym also recommended increased surveillance of “friendship groups formed around retail facilities frequented by Muslims” (though the equation between Muslims and immigrants is often a false one, given the faith has been practiced in this country for a century).
In the same way one or more black youth standing on a street corner is viewed as a riot in the making by many police forces, Muslims going shopping (and those “inspired” by Muslims at the retail level) may now pose the greatest threat to Canadians’ national security since the CSIS theory that Muslim dreams could provoke radicalization.

Historically, the RCMP Security Service (SS) focused on certain cultural and religious attributes as signs of disloyalty, subversion, and traitorous intent: hence, their long-standing surveillance of groups like the Prairies-based, all-female Ukrainian Mandolin Orchestra. The RCMP SS legacy group, CSIS, frequently begin their national security investigations with such wholly irrelevant details as how often someone prays, if they know women who wear hijab, and what their imam thinks of drone strikes that kill children in Pakistan.

So will Loblaws and Metro stores soon be home to CSIS secret shoppers, monitoring who is picking up Sufra Halal chicken nuggets in the frozen section, or tossing The Queen’s Khorasan bread into their recycled grocery bags? (Such bread MAY be suspect since it shares the same name as the non-existent “Khorasan group” that the U.S. created as an excuse to begin its bombing campaign of Syria and Iraq. This correspondent, for one, regularly buys Khorasan and recommends it as a healthy, hearty way to breakfast, despite the possibility it may be viewed, upon heating, as terrorism toast.)

The idiocy of CSIS, the RCMP, and their friends in the press would be laughable if it were not so dangerous: as documented by a number of judicial inquiries and court decisions, their uninformed, lazy, and biased worldview leads to vicious campaigns of racial and religious profiling, community harassment, fear, perpetuation of an informant culture, and complicity in torture, all of which will increase given the current media-hyped scare over “extremist travellers” and “jihadi brides,” among other turns of phrase that continue to demonize and put at risk all adherents of Islam.

While the CSIS and Mounties have their knickers in a knot about overseas travellers to the Middle East, they are absolutely silent on those who join another organization that commits well-documented war crimes on a regular basis: the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF). During the summer of 2014, when Israeli war crimes were perpetrated against the people of Gaza, Canadian Netta Gelb of Richmond Hill was serving with the IDF. Her dad complained to Postmedia, “I just want her to get through this in one piece…There was really not much we could do to stop (her). It’s very difficult to explain it to people — how could she make that decision and go off and do it. At that age, you really can’t tell them anything.”

There are some 30 Canadian young people in the Israeli army from Ontario alone (part of the larger group of some 5,500 “lone soldiers”). During that summer bombardment, the Ottawa Citizen noted Palestinian children were traumatized by what was described by Al-Aqsa University professor Derdah al-Sha’er as “the violent and bloody scenes of war — the destruction of homes in airstrikes, body parts and corpses covered in blood and dust being pulled from the rubble, night bombings while there’s no electricity.” Yet if one were to have gone and fought against the IDF, they would now be a candidate for statelessness, their Canadian citizenship revoked.

Some 30,000 Canadians served in the U.S. military during the war against Vietnam, when U.S. forces committed mass atrocities including beheadings that left heads on sticks at the entrances to many villages. Canadians are now serving with Ukrainian paramilitaries (and associating with neo-Nazis). At the same time, anti-choice protesters cross the border to work with terrorist groups in the U.S. that bomb women’s reproductive health centres. But none of these have been cause for parliamentary hearings and scare headlines.

That many young people are alienated and disconnected is unsurprising given they live in a country where, even by the Canadian Senate’s own reckoning (as documented in their 2008 report, “Children, The Silenced Citizens”), Canada and its institutions fail children when it comes to guaranteeing their most basic rights. It is clear to young people that our society has little use for them: they are exploited, ill-treated, terrorized, given little hope for the future, stressed out, threatened, bullied, blamed for government decisions because they see no point in voting, and then expected to perform well in school and be model citizens. Services for those with mental health issues are stretched to the max and, when utilized, often useless.

We invest in warfare, not child care. When they react with “bad behaviour,” zero tolerance legislation slaps them down and criminalizes them without asking WHY they are acting out. The helicopter-parent generation offers them little independence or association with friends of their own choosing. Hanging out with larger groups is seen as trouble in the making. “No more than three students in the store” signs proliferate throughout the land. Is it any wonder they might be looking for a sense of belonging, a purpose, a place where they feel they will be respected? Perhaps they might get that in drama club, perhaps in a gang, perhaps by taking the ultimate adventure in going overseas and fighting against agents of tyranny. We call them naïve when they do: don’t they know about the ideology of ISIS? Don’t they understand the politics of the region? Perhaps not, but the same question could equally be asked of their parents and the politicians they vote for.

The Harper government’s solution to these “problem kids” is to criminalize them, strip them of their citizenship. Because there is no such thing as a root cause in Harper’s world, there is no sense trying to delve into the issue: they are just evil, evil, evil, and the solution to our problems is more thought control and surveillance.

Posted at: October 22, 2014 - 11:26 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Odor of cordite permeates Centre Block of Canadian Parliament buildings; soldier standing guard at the National War Memorial shot; shots fired near Chateau Laurier hotel, Rideau Centre shopping mall; large area of Canadian capital under lockdown

The Centre Block (in French: Édifice du centre) is the main building of the Canadian parliamentary complex on Parliament Hill, in Ottawa, Ontario, containing the House of Commons and Senate chambers, as well as the offices of a number of members of parliament, senators, and senior administration for both legislative houses. It is also the location of several ceremonial spaces, such as the Hall of Honour, the Memorial Chamber, and Confederation Hall. … - From its Wikipedia entry. The Château Laurier (opened 1912) is a 660,000-square-foot hotel with 429 guest rooms in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, located near the intersection of Rideau Street and Sussex Drive and designed in the French Gothic Châteauesque style to complement the adjacent Parliament buildings. The Rideau Centre complex (opened 1983) includes approximately 180 retailers, the 487-room Westin Hotel, a rooftop park and the Ottawa Convention Centre.

Jim comment:

It appears the war has come home for Canadians. A gunman has been killed in Ottawa after three separate shootings in the nation’s capital forced Parliament Hill into lockdown and gripped the city with fear. There are conflicting reports about the number of shooters involved. (09:41 hours PDT) The situation is fluid.

Live coverage on Canadian national media.

(Monday, 25-year-old Martin Couture-Rouleau ran over two Canadian soldiers and sped off, before being forced off the road by police in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, just southeast of Montreal. Couture-Rouleau was shot dead by police. One of the soldiers later died of his injuries. The incident has been termed a terrorist attack.)

Related: Harper’s political motives on terror case questioned
Mark Kennedy Ottawa Citizen Canada October 21, 2014

On a day when the House of Commons grieved the killing of a Canadian soldier by a possible terrorist, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s own political motivations in handling the crisis also came to the fore.

In the Commons Tuesday, Harper told MPs that the government’s “thoughts and prayers” are with the family of Patrice Vincent, a 53-year-old warrant officer with the Canadian Armed Forces who died after being struck by a vehicle the previous day in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Que.

One other soldier remains in hospital and the perpetrator of the attack, Martin Couture Rouleau, was shot by police after a car chase.

“This was a despicable act of violence that strikes against not just this soldier and his colleagues but frankly against our very values as a civilized democracy,” Harper told the Commons.

Earlier in the day, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney said the attack had been “clearly linked to terrorist ideology.”

The Official Opposition pushed for more information.

NDP Leader Tom Mulcair indicated he was still concerned by how the previous day — long before Quebec police spoke about the incident — Harper’s office had planted a question with a backbench MP who asked the prime minister in the Commons for information about unconfirmed reports of a “possible terror attack” against the soldiers.

Harper had said he found the reports “extremely troubling.”

Mulcair said Tuesday he hopes Harper isn’t using the issue for his own political benefit, to bolster his leadership credentials in a time of crisis.

“I certainly hope that that’s not what the prime minister of Canada is doing — latching on to this kind of crisis to help himself. I know that Canadians deserve better than just that. They deserve full answers.”

He noted that Harper continued to use strong language Tuesday about the threat to civilization and called upon the prime minister to provide information to Canadians to back his statement.

Liberal leader Justin Trudeau was cautious when asked if he thinks Harper is trying to use the crisis for his own political benefit.

“I think that’s a question that certainly members of the press gallery and Canadians can ask. But as an opposition politician, I’m very much focused on demonstrating that this should be beyond politics.”

Earlier this month, the majority government passed a motion to send Canada into an aerial combat mission to Iraq for six months to battle ISIL. Both the NDP and Liberals opposed the mission.

On Tuesday, new public opinion research released by Abacus Data show that Harper’s decision to join the war is supported by a majority of Canadians.

Abacus chairman Bruce Anderson said the poll suggests that Harper “is taking a course that people feel comfortable with, though not necessarily enthusiastic about.”

Anderson said he thinks the Tories, with an eye on the next election, are trying to draw public attention to what they will argue is a “judgment gap” between Harper and Trudeau on foreign affairs.

“I see it as a comprehensive effort to take some of the partisanship off the Stephen Harper image, position him more as a national and international leadership voice.”

Posted at: October 22, 2014 - 9:47 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

October 21, 2014

,

Ebola, IS, threat of homegrown terrorism…. Deary me, so much to be afraid of these days


Image credit: Robert Hanson. To see some more of his creations go here, The art of Robert Hanson.

Opposition group: ISIS militants training to fly warplanes in Syria
Raja Razek, Laura Smith-Spark and Jason Hanna CNN USA October 18, 2014

Near Suruc, Turkey (CNN) — Could ISIS fighters be training as warplane pilots capable of turning their weapons on coalition aircraft?
That’s the worrying prospect suggested by an unverified report from the London-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights that ISIS has three warplanes in its possession in northern Syria.

The Syrian opposition group also claims, citing reliable sources in Syria, that former Iraqi military officers are training members of the Sunni extremist militant group to fly them.

The planes are at the Al-Jarrah military airport east of the contested city of Aleppo, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

U.S. fighter jocks pray the ‘ISIS Air Force’ rumors are true
Dave Majumdar The Daily Beast USA October 21, 2014


Syrian rebels say ISIS now has a few aircraft. American pilots can’t wait to shoot the things down.

The ISIS terrorist group may have acquired a few old Soviet-built MiG fighters, according to a Syrian opposition group. But even if ISIS does have jet fighters, there is little chance that the group can do any real damage with those antiques beyond their value as propaganda tools, U.S. military pilots say.

“If ISIS is flying, or is thinking about flying, it will not be doing so for very long,” one Air Force official said.

According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights—an opposition group based in London—ISIS has managed to acquire three Soviet-built Mikoyan MiG-21 Fishbed and MiG-23 Flogger fighters. The aircraft are allegedly being flown by former Iraqi air force pilots, who are also training wannabe ISIS aviators to fly the jets.

Additionally, ISIS appears to have a number of Aero Vodochody L-39 Albatross aircraft, traditionally used for advanced training and light attack. The terrorist group has produced at least one propaganda video purported to show the Czech-built jets in the air. But even if ISIS does have a rudimentary air force, it is basically useless in any true military sense, according to U.S. officials and American military pilots.

“I’d sell my first born to engage all three… by myself,” one highly experienced U.S. Marine Corps fighter pilot joked. Another Air Force F-15E Strike Eagle pilot said, “Send me in, coach! There’s no way they get those airborne!”

“We’re not talking about aircraft that are extremely effective at delivering ordinance both in terms of equipment and training,” said one U.S. Air Force official. “It’s simply not worth it beyond an easily discreditable propaganda ploy.”

The MiG-21 does not carry a huge amount of weaponry and was originally designed to fight other aircraft. Meanwhile, the MiG-23 is a much bigger and more complex jet that requires a professional pilot to operate properly.

Even if ISIS has such pilots—and that isn’t terribly likely—they might not last long. Though both the MiG-21 and MiG-23 are supersonic fighters, they are dated and would likely be easy prey to any modern American fighter.

Additionally, many U.S. officials questioned how well ISIS’s MiGs work. The jets may not have functional on-board systems like radars and weapons—nor does ISIS have access to the sophisticated ground control network the Soviets and their Syrian government clients used.

Many U.S. pilots were gleeful at the prospects of bagging a MiG.

However, a former, very experienced Air Force pilot who has flown both the MiG-21 and MiG-23 said that one should not underestimate the elderly Soviet jets. “Either of the MiG types must be honored, especially in the hands of a competent pilot,” the retired pilot said. “Are modern jets more capable? Of course they are.”

Posted at: October 21, 2014 - 12:09 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Envisioning the Eurasian century: Take a trip back in time on a Trans-Siberian rail journey in the early years of the 1990s, then leap forward to the modern-era, circa 2020 & China deals blow to Australia coal

Take a trip back in time on a rumbling Trans-Siberian rail journey in the early years of the 1990s, then leap forward to the modern-era, circa 2020, with the route linked to a Chinese-driven high-speed rail network flashing across Eurasia. It’s as if we were still frozen in time: both Russia and China remain pariahs in the eyes of the world’s unipolar, imperial elite.

Do the Trans-Siberian shuffle
Pepe Escobar Asia Times Online Hong Kong October 17, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

A specter haunts the elites of the Empire of Chaos; the new Russia-China strategic partnership. It’s manifesting itself in myriad ways – energy deals, investment deals, a closer political alliance inside the G-20, the BRICS and the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, a concerted effort to progressively bypass the petrodollar. I have described this long process as essential to the birth of the Eurasian century.

From a Washington/Wall Street point of view, it was so much easier in those long gone, unipolar, “end of history” days. China was still tiptoeing on the banks of the river of capital accumulation, and Russia was down if not out.

So allow me a flashback to the early 1990s. I had been on the road in Asia for months, from all points Southeast Asia to India, Nepal, the Himalayas and the eastern Chinese seaboard. Then I finally hit Beijing – waiting in the bitter winter of early 1992 to take the Trans-Siberian to Moscow. I was barely aware of the collapse of the Soviet Union – not exactly a news item in the Himalayas. I was also fortunate enough to be in southern China just a few days after Deng Xiaoping made his famous tour – whose key consequence was to catapult the dragon to dizzying development heights. A look back to those heady times may have the merit of illuminating our present.

Those were the days. That McDonald’s – symbol of unipolar, “end of history”, Pax Americana – has been recently shut down. It’s harder and harder for the Empire of Chaos to rule the world alone while McDonald’s serves burgers. Across Pushkin square, the fashionable Cafe Pouchkine now serves the best of Russian haute cuisine.

And still, both Russia and China are seen as pariahs by the unipolar, imperial elite. It’s as if we were still frozen in those early1990s days. Russia and China may have changed almost beyond recognition – but for the Empire of Chaos the priorities are to tear Russia apart, starting with Ukraine, and “pivot to Asia” via an anti-China military/economic axis in the Western Pacific.

Meanwhile, the Trans-Siberian will soon be linked with the Chinese-driven New Silk Roads. And then one day in the early 2020s this will all be a high-speed rail network, linking Eurasia in a flash. And nothing will ever be the (unipolar) same. Except for the back-to-Russia Crimean champagne.

Related: The Chinese government has struck a new blow against the domination of global commodity markets by countries allied with the United States in the sanctions war against Russia, with the announcement of a 3% to 6% tariff on coal imports to China. Australia will take the largest hit in its trade. Russia is amongst those who should benefit.

Global war against Russia takes new turn — China attacks Australian coal, favours Russian coal
John Helmer Dances with Bears Russia October 14, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links, charts and photos.

Last Thursday the government in Beijing struck a new blow against the domination of global commodity markets by countries allied with the US in the sanctions war against Russia.

The measure announced is a 3% to 6% tariff to be imposed on coal imports to China, commencing on October 15. Australia, the largest supplier of coal to China, will take the largest hit in its trade. Indonesia, the second largest coal supplier to China, will be exempt as a member of the free trade zone between China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN). Russia and South Africa, the next largest coal exporters to China, are allied with China in the BRICS geopolitical group: they are to benefit, too. Russian officials and industry sources confirm that negotiations on tariff relief are underway in Moscow this week as Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev met his counterpart, Chinese Prime Minister Li Keqiang.

The Russian sources are tight-lipped about what will happen next. A spokesman for the Ministry of Energy said it can’t comment now because decisions on the coal import tax have “not yet been finalized”.


Prime Ministers Li and Medvedev in Moscow on October 14, 2014

The 6% Chinese tariff will be applied to thermal or steam coal, which is used to power electricity turbines. The smaller tariff will apply to the more expensive metallurgical or coking coal, which is used to produce steel. Australian steam coal, which was fetching $90 per tonne last December, had dropped below $66 per tonne last week. The import duty will add an estimated $3 per tonne to the price.

Because of the size of Russia’s steel industry, most Russian coking coal is consumed at home. Gas, hydropower, and nuclear energy are more favoured for electricity generation, so larger volumes of steam coal are exported. SUEK draws the map of its coal sales like this:

Still, the coal export trade is of far less importance for Russia than it is to Australia, whose steel production is inconsequential. By contrast, Australia exported to China 100 million tonnes of coal in 2013, worth A$9.1 billion. Iron-ore was Australia’s largest export to China, worth last year A$94.7 billion. Coal came second. The falling price of coal in global trade has pushed a third of Australian coalmines to the brink of insolvency, and thousands of jobs have already been cut. The Chinese import tax is reckoned by Australian analysts likely to cost $350 million per annum in coal revenues, and 20 million tonnes of coal shipments

Last year, China imported 327.1 million tonnes of coal, which accounted for 10% of the coal consumed domestically. The remainder was produced by Chinese mines. Although the Chinese government has said for months that it was considering import taxes and quotas to relieve the pressure on its high-cost, loss-making domestic mines, Australian media report the Chinese move as a “surprise”, a “shock decision”, “bombshell”, “discrimination”, “diplomatic insult”, “disrespect”, “economic threat”, “disaster”, and a “pair of hand grenades.” The Australian prime minister, Tony Abbott (lead image, right), reacted violently, “slamming” the import tax, according to one newspaper, claiming it was a “surprise” to him, and promising to “fight” the Chinese.

A source close to BHP Billiton, Australia’s dominant mining company and its largest coal producer, said privately the new Chinese coal tax is “is typical of China’s approach to self-interest in business. In the end, they all play the same game, which is about protecting their own turf. For them it is not about politics as much as it is about business. And they are not subtle about it – witness them doing something that flies in the face of their free trade agreement negotiations. They just don’t care and they don’t care who knows it. It has been like this since they found their economic power.”

Publicly, BHP acknowledged the Chinese tax is “an added and unwelcome weight on the mind of BHP Billiton’s boss, Andrew McKenzie (right), an ardent free-trader”. The Chinese analysis is that free trade, as defined by BHP, means price rigging.

Anticipating last week’s duty announcement Russian coalminers have been lobbying officials in the federal ministries of Energy and Trade to ensure that the Chinese trade action will not penalize Russian coal. Russian trade officials in Shanghai and Beijing declined to comment; telephones at the the Russian embassy in Beijing were not functioning for part of this week for what a Shanghai consulate source claims is “remont”.

In Moscow, SUEK said “currently we don’t comment on this topic. At the moment, we have the same terms we have had before.” Evraz said negotiations on the coal tariff must remain a closed book – “public companies cannot afford to comment on government initiatives and the initiatives of regulators.” The new chief executive of Raspadskaya, Sergei Stepanov, said “it is premature to say something about this.” At the coal industry think-tank, Rusugol, director Anatoliy Skryl said “it is unlikely [the coal duty] will have an influence on the volume of [Russian] coal exports to China.”

Three ministries are involved in the negotiations with the Chinese government – trade, energy, and finance. The Trade Ministry indicated that the coal tax is not being considered as a pure trade issue, but rather as part of the higher-level energy supply relationship between the two governments. Trade referred questions about the tariff to the Energy Ministry. A spokesman at the latter said “there is no official information in the Ministry of Energy [to release], so to comment on it now would be premature.”

The Finance Ministry is responsible for negotiations between the BRICS member states on the establishment of the new BRICS Development Bank, their currency pool, known as the Contingent Reserve Arrangement, and coordination of their positions at the International Monetary Fund. The official in charge is Deputy Finance Minister Sergei Storchak. He was asked to say if, as coal exporters to China, Russia and South Africa have raised the new coal tariff for coordination at the level of BRICS. Storchak is refusing to say.

Posted at: October 21, 2014 - 12:05 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Contrasts: When socialism can ‘work’—include the poor in the formal economy & White privilege; white fear: Keene NH pumpkin riot; Ferguson MO protests

No [white American] person in a position of authority will ever say they are afraid students will act out violently tonight if their team wins. But, if black groups organize a protest for justice and demand an end to police brutality, the victimhood complex of white people goes out of control, as they collectively panic about black people imposing their agenda on them by trying to force a system that doesn’t work for them to, for once, work for them. - Kevin Gosztola

Below: The re-election of Bolivian President Evo Morales comes on top of his apparent successful defiance of Western Axis neoliberal theory in his economic policies. In reality, that “success” reflects, importantly, his inclusion of the country’s indigenous poor in the formal economy. The Prudent Bear is dedicated to the bear market philosophy. With news, commentary and more, it’s an all-in-one resource center for those who take a bearish stance on the economy.

When Socialism can appear to work
Martin Hutchinson The Prudent Bear USA October 20, 2014

Bolivian President Evo Morales last weekend won re-election by a smashing margin. His eight-year rule has weakened Bolivian property rights, indulged in frequent nationalizations and demonized capitalism. Yet it has also produced Bolivia’s best growth rates in several decades, far better than the orthodox and admirable policies pursued in 1985-2003. Thus Morales’ policy of making Bolivian clocks run backwards seems reflected by the apparent successful defiance of theory in his economics. In reality, however, there is a fairly simple explanation, and it is an important lesson for other poor countries.

Morales, the first “indigenous” President of Bolivia, is a Latin American socialist. He enjoys denouncing capitalism, but not quite a standard one. His eccentricity was demonstrated a few months ago when he caused the clocks on the Bolivian Congress to run backwards, explaining that “clockwise” was a “Northern-Hemispherist” construct, derived from clocks following sundials in a hemisphere where sundial shadows advanced clockwise, and was hence not relevant to the Southern Hemisphere, where sundial shadows run counter-clockwise. He’s quite right. There can be no doubt that if clocks had been invented in Australia or Patagonia, their hands would run the other way. He is, however, pushing it in respect of Bolivia, where La Paz is sufficiently close to the Equator that, for part of the year, sundials work the same way as they do up north.

His economic policies have equally had a certain logic to them. Through nationalization and tearing up contracts, he has enabled the Bolivian state to quadruple its revenues from minerals and energy extraction at a time when prices were high and mining and energy companies would otherwise have made windfall profits from their rise. This has in turn enabled Morales to increase the Bolivian welfare state without drastically unbalancing the budget. Indeed, aided by the windfall in resource revenues, his budgetary policies have been a model of restraint, far better than most other Latin American countries, or indeed than the rich nations of Europe, the U.S. or Japan. Purely judged on his budgetary policies, we might well envisage for him a post-presidential career as the successor to Jack Lew or George Osborne!

The results of Bolivia’s policies have been excellent. It has had an average growth rate of over 5% since he took office in 2006, with the 2008-09 recession survived with barely a hiccup. With the budget so close to balance, Bolivia’s international debts are also modest, although a 2008 default on outstanding international bonds for a time made it difficult for the country to borrow. However, in late 2012, the hyper-liquid state of global bond markets enabled Bolivia to borrow again, raising $500 million of ten-year money at a rate of only 4.875%.

This success is in marked contrast to the fate of the “neo-liberal” policies pursued from 1985 until 2003. During that period, while Bolivia ended hyperinflation, growth averaged only 3.1%, barely enough to keep up with the 2.3% annual population growth, and there were a number of grinding recessions. It is thus a paradox for supporters of free-market policies: how does it happen that Morales’ statist policies are rewarded with such success, whereas better policies pursued earlier brought results that were no more than mediocre?

There are two lessons to be drawn. First, in Africa in particular it will be necessary as countries get richer for mechanisms to be put in place whereby their poorer citizens can benefit. This especially applies to countries like South Africa, with exceptionally high inequality and an exceptionally corrupt state system that has raised only a small number of its African fellow citizens out of poverty. Indeed the unexpectedly poor economic growth rates in South Africa can directly be linked to the lack of participation in the formal economy by its poorer citizens, as the country has 25% unemployment.

Second, even decently capitalist governments need to make sure that their beautifully designed market economies extend right down the scale. There is little benefit in having an economy that would make Ludwig von Mises purr, if its benefits extend only to the top half of the income distribution, and the bottom half is mired in squalid shantytowns with no opportunities of bettering themselves.

In uplifting the very poorest, direct cash transfers with only simple conditionality are highly effective. A program such as the Bolsa Familia costs only a couple of percent of GDP, far less than massive infrastructure schemes, yet it reaches the poorest in society effectively. Complex programs designed to meet needs precisely, with massive administrative costs and rent-seeking at all levels, generally miss the poorest and most needy, and merely add bureaucratic bloat.

History also suggests that the simplistic cash-transfer approach to welfare works better. In Britain before 1834, the poor were given “outdoor relief” in the form of cash or food handouts, and therefore remained active in the economy. However the 1834 Poor Law, introduced by the foolish doctrinaire Whigs, invented the “workhouse” by which the poor were segregated from the rest of society in an institution deliberately designed to be “less eligible” and thoroughly unpleasant for its inmates.

The result was a mass of leftist propaganda, starting with Charles Dickens’ Oliver Twist, an inexorable rise in the cost of welfare provision and a deterioration in low-end living standards. Thus by the time Charles Booth wrote Life and Labour of the People in London in 1889, many of the urban poor lived lives far more squalid than had their great-grandfathers a century earlier, in spite of the huge rise in living standards generally.

Capitalism needs to include the entire population, and it needs to do so through simple cash handouts and work opportunities, not through elaborate and counterproductive social engineering.

Related: Pumpkin riot, Ferguson & the white privilege to turn down for whatever
Kevin Gosztola Firedoglake USA October 20, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links and videos, “Riot police shoot pepper spray at Keene State students”, (9:13) and, “Pumpkin Fest 2014: Police ignore massive bottle fight”, (1:45).

Protesters approached the St. Louis County Justice Center while holding pumpkins marked “racism,” “police brutality” and “white privilege.” They planned to smash the pumpkins in front of the police station to make a point about the disparity in media coverage of primarily white college students rioting in Keene, New Hampshire, and media coverage of reaction in Ferguson, Missouri, to white police officer Darren Wilson who killed an unarmed black teenager named Mike Brown.

The St. Louis Post Dispatch reported that protest organizer Derek Laney was arrested “after he held the pumpkin” over his head and “decried the shooting” of Brown before smashing the pumpkin “at the feet of officers stationed about 10 feet from the Justice Center door.” He protested the fact that Keene State College students were called “unruly” or “drunken revelers” and accused of merely “causing a ruckus” while community residents upset in Ferguson were labeled “rioters” or “thugs.”

Altogether, there were three people arrested. Police charged protesters with littering offenses and an assault offense. Even though the pumpkin never left one woman’s hands, it was taken away from her, and she was charged with conspiring to litter.

It did not take long for people to mock what happened on Saturday, October 18. When the images of violence and chaos perpetrated by both students and police at Keene State College and in the midst of the annual Pumpkin Festival were first shared, individuals who had followed what happened in Ferguson closely immediately made a connection. (I joked, “How many of the defiant white youth causing mayhem & destruction come from fatherless families?”)

Laughs were had, but people on the ground in Ferguson were generally outraged and stunned by the sickening display of white privilege.

Deray McKesson, who curates a Ferguson Protestor newsletter, reacted, “We protest to protect the right to be black and alive,” and what happened in Keene was as “offensive as Darren Wilson’s freedom.” [Wilson has yet to be arrested or indicted.]

“I don’t even need to tweet what would happen to black people if they dared to riot like #PumpkinFest folks,” activist Kim Moore tweeted. Joshua Bennett, an African-American writer based in New York, said, “I don’t know what to say to someone who thinks it’s ‘fun’ to fight cops. We don’t live in the same world.”

If you do not understand this reaction, take a moment to watch this video.

In particular, pay attention to how calm police are in the predominantly white town of Keene. A young white man (presumably hammered) approaches a state trooper. The state trooper casually informs him he needs to get out of the street. A protester in Ferguson would be gang tackled in minutes. That does not happen.

Instead, the young white man is permitted to chat with the trooper. He asks about the weapon an officer standing next to him is holding. “What are they? Are they just paintballs?” The trooper responds, “Pepper spray balls.” He says they have “OC pepper spray” and they pop and just get “powder all over you.”

Listening to the trooper, one would think being shot at by so-called “less-lethal” weapons was a mellow experience. The student gets to ask a follow-up about why officers were shooting at the windows of houses. The trooper’s answer is so the pepper spray balls break. It doesn’t really answer the question, but the young man, who still has not been arrested is too baked, too sloshed and/or too stupid to recognize this.

There’s also this video of young white people throwing bottles at each other without police even stepping in to try and defuse the scene with tear gas, rubber bullets or pepper spray.

The police explain, as glass is breaking all over the street during a scene where someone could get seriously hurt, “We’re aware of what’s happening. We’re containing it.” However, they were not on the street where bottles were flying in the midst of hundreds of people.

Other videos show young white people taking over entire streets with no police vehicles sounding their sirens at them to get out of the street. There are no intercom announcements to disperse or you will be arrested. There are students tearing down street signs without any consequences whatsoever. They set fires and turn a car over. And, for the most part, it seems no businesses or locations in the community were warned to be on the lookout for students planning to storm the area.

A large group of youth who had probably (ab)used an array of drugs violently threw bottles, and police responded in the same manner that they did when protesters organized demonstrations in the immediate aftermath of Brown’s death. In fact, the police showed even more restraint. They did not even deploy the armored personnel carrier, a BearCat, which the city happens to have.

The difference in the responses is likely a result of dominant white culture, which is reinforced by the white power structure that remains largely in place.

Young white people at colleges and universities can act out however they want—setting fires and rioting after they win a big football game, rioting and tipping over a news van after a coach who helped cover up child molestations was fired, rioting and throwing smoke bombs and beer cans at police after their school’s loss in a college basketball tournament, and flipping cars, pulling light poles down and knocking over stop signs for no clear reason at all.

No person in a position of authority will ever say they are afraid students will act out violently tonight if their team wins. But, if black groups organize a protest for justice and demand an end to police brutality, the victimhood complex of white people goes out of control, as they collectively panic about black people imposing their agenda on them by trying to force a system that doesn’t work for them to, for once, work for them.

Posted at: October 21, 2014 - 12:03 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Eye on Canada: Iraq and ISIS: Political implications of Canada’s participation

Iraq and ISIS: Political implications of Canada’s participation
Bruce Anderson & David Coletto Abacus Data Canada October 21, 2014

You can download the complete results (PDF) from a link on this page.

One of the most contentious political choices in recent months has been whether Canada should join the US and other allies in a combat role to degrade and defeat ISIS in Iraq. Our latest poll looks at how the public has been viewing the choices made by the three main party leaders in Ottawa.

Here are the highlights of our findings:

Justin Trudeau says Stephen Harper’s ego is driving combat mission in Iraq
Althia Raj Huffington Post Canada October 20, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links and video (1:34).

TORONTO – Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau says it was Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s “ego” that led him to send six CF-18s to participate in airstrikes in Iraq, rather than a concern for Canada’s long-term interests.

Two weeks ago, the Conservative government decided the CF-18s would join the international coalition fighting the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (ISIL) as well as two surveillance aircrafts and one in-air refueler. Trudeau refused to back the government’s combat mission in Parliament, saying Harper had not made the case for war in Iraq and that, as a result, Canada should only engage in non-combat roles such as training of Iraqi and Kurdish fighters, medical support, logistical support or expanded humanitarian and refugee support.

At the time of his announcement, however, Trudeau overshadowed his own speech by telling an on-stage interviewer: “Why aren’t we talking more about the kind of humanitarian aid that Canada can and must be engaged in, rather than trying to whip out our CF-18s and show them how big they are?”

In an interview with The Huffington Post Canada Monday to promote his new book “Common Ground,” Trudeau suggested he doesn’t regret his controversial comment.

“People in the room appreciated it,” he said.

Trudeau explained he is a “fairly outspoken” person. “When I get passionate or worked up about an issue I say things that the Conservatives and opponents and critics like to pounce on,” he said.

Trudeau said he is very confident the Liberal party took exactly the right position on ISIL.

“As the months unfold I am certain that Canadians will realize that the Prime Minister did not think about Canada’s long-term interest or even what Canada has best to offer in the fight against ISIL when he made his decision, and it was more about ego.”

Stephen Harper acknowledges possible terror attack in Quebec
Huffington Post Canada October 20, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has acknowledged unconfirmed reports of a terrorist attack in Quebec.

In question period on Monday, Harper received a question from a member of his own party about a possible attack on members of the Canadian armed forces in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu.

Prince Albert MP Randy Hoback mentioned “unconfirmed reports of a possible terror attack against two members of the Canadian Armed Forces near Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu” and then asked Harper “update the House on this matter.”

“We are aware of these reports and they are obviously extremely troubling. First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and their families” Harper responded. “We’re closely monitoring the situation and obviously we will make available all of the resources of the federal government.””

La Presse identified the suspect as Martin Rouleau.

A statement from the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) on Monday evening confirmed the suspect was known to authorities, adding the Integrated National Security Investigations team had concerns he had become radicalized.

The Prime Minister’s Office also issued a similarly-worded statement, reiterating the RCMP’s comments on the ongoing investigation and “clear indications” radicalization.

Earlier, authorities confirmed attack in question saw two member of the Canadian forces struck down by a vehicle in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu near Montreal. Police later said terrorism is “one of the hypotheses” they are considering, according to Allan Woods of the Toronto Star.

The members of the military were hit by a motorist in a strip mall parking lot around noon. According to CJAD Montreal, the strip mall contains a Department of National Defence office (DND). When police arrived on the scene, the suspect fled in his car but lost control of the vehicle. According to police the man exited the vehicle and came at officers with a knife. He was shot by the authorities.

No news outlets have yet made a definitive link between the incident in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and terrorism, but CJAD Montreal reports that a police source told them that an “ISIS sympathizer” may have been involved in the incident. According to the radio station’s source, the suspect was inside the DND office before the incident and made statements about the Islamic State (also known as ISIS or ISIL).

Police said they are investigating whether the members of the military were specifically targeted.

NDP Leader Thomas Mulcair expressed surprise that Hoback would refer to the incident as an act of terrorism without complete information, according to the Toronto Star.

“I think it’s a mistake to start drawing conclusions on such limited information, especially as to motive, so I was a bit surprised by the interplay between the prime minister and one of his backbenchers when we are still waiting for any information from the police,” Mulcair said.

Martin Rouleau’s passport was seized by Canadian authorities
CBC News Canada October 21, 2014

Visit this page for its related links and videos.

Martin (Ahmad) Rouleau’s passport was seized by Canadian authorities concerned he had become radicalized and would travel overseas, RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson said Tuesday.

Rouleau, 25, was fatally shot after hitting the two soldiers in a parking lot of a commercial plaza in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu, a city about 40 kilometres southeast of Montreal.

One of the soldiers, 53-year-old Patrice Vincent, died of his injuries Monday evening.

Rouleau was one of 90 people being monitored by the RCMP as part of 63 current national security investigations, the RCMP confirmed to CBC News Monday night. Paulson first reported the investigations to MPs on the House public safety committee earlier this month.

“We have about 63 active national security investigations on 90 individuals who are related to the travelling group, both people who intend to go [abroad] or people who have returned and have been referred to us by the service,” Paulson said on Oct. 8.

Those numbers refer to people suspected of being involved with extremism-related activities, including financing, not specifically to fighting alongside militants.

On Tuesday, Paulson said the RCMP are investigating along with Quebec provincial police to determine the “breadth” of this incident and pursue every avenue.

Posted at: October 21, 2014 - 12:01 pm -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

October 20, 2014

Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolph Hitler share uncomfortably similar personality and character traits

John Chuckman is former chief economist for a large Canadian oil company. He has many interests and is a lifelong student of history. He writes with a passionate desire for honesty, the rule of reason, and concern for human decency. John regards it as a badge of honor to have left the United States as a poor young man from the South Side of Chicago when the country embarked on the pointless murder of something like three million Vietnamese in their own land because they embraced the wrong economic loyalties. He lives in Canada. John’s writing appears regularly on many Internet sites. He has been translated into at least ten languages and has been regularly translated into Italian and Spanish. Several of his essays have been published in book collections, including two college texts. We received the following submission this morning.

UNCANNY PARALLELS IN CHARACTER
by John Chuckman, October 20, 2014

I’m not one of those who scribble blunt little mustaches on pictures of politicians I dislike, but here I make some uncomfortable and I believe accurate observations comparing personality and character traits of a contemporary politician with one of history’s darkest figures.

I don’t know whether anyone else has noticed the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolph Hitler share uncomfortably similar personality and character traits. Certainly there are, and have been, other politicians who also share the same traits, but it is of particular concern today that a man of this nature dominates events in the Middle East. In the case of Hitler we can read about his personality and character in any of a number of scholarly biographies and histories of World War II. In the case of Netanyahu, we can see them displayed on the world stage despite an immense amount effort by public relations flaks and apologists to airbrush them. We have also, something we do not always have for contemporaries, the first-hand testimony of several world figures about key aspects of his behavior to which we wouldn’t otherwise be exposed.

One of Hitler’s most prominent traits was a driving will, really a consuming obsession, to re-build the world he inhabited into a place which conformed to his wishes, illusions, and prejudices. He was, if you will, the dangerous ideologue or dreamer par excellence. Several sweeping idees fixes dominated his thinking.

Identifying with Germany rather than the small country of his origin, Austria, he wanted to see that nation become as great and powerful as possible. Caught in the general blind enthusiasm when World War I was declared, he volunteered for service with Germany. He served with decorated bravery, receiving serious wounds, and ended with crushing disappointment over Germany’s defeat. Within a few years, if not earlier in private, he began thinking of himself as Germany’s man of destiny to lead the nation to future victory, making up for the humiliations of World War I. Undoubtedly, his own odd early life, full of humiliations for a man who always regarded himself as quite special, undoubtedly contributed force to his thinking.

Hitler was a supreme narcissist, one who came eventually around to regarding himself in messianic terms with regard to the German people and their future. As with all narcissists who gain authority through their skills and charm – yes, Hitler could be quite charming in private as many contemporaries have testified – it is easy for them to slip into sociopathic behavior. Lying and dissimulation were as natural as breathing for Hitler, and again as with all narcissists, there was no sense of wrong-doing but rather a sense of success in fooling others to serve his purposes. These qualities are not unknown in the politics of other democratic states, and we observe them in everyday life in fields such as finance or big-time selling.

Hitler was famous for the terrifying rages he could throw in private. Sometimes they were employed against generals or officials who raised objections to an idea or plan of his. It was a favorite method he used on the leaders of foreign states from whom he tried to extract concessions during a crisis negotiation. One can almost picture him sometime after the raging meeting, relaxing in private, laughing about the poor shocked witnesses. The rages were undoubtedly often genuine but they were also a part he played, and played quite convincingly.

Psychiatric studies of Hitler fail to find a psychotic mind. He was not mad, which of course makes his acts all the more frightening. It is easy to dismiss the violent acts of madmen, but the banality of evil is a far less predictable force in human society.

Hitler understood that America’s sheer size in population and resources made her very powerful through huge internal markets and economies of scale, and he wanted to achieve the same status for Germany. His central idea for doing so from his earliest days was the conquest of Russia, whose great resources and lands would be exploited by Germans and whose Slav population would be reduced to slavery. The world’s German people, according to his thinking, would then flourish and increase their numbers. His ideas about Russia had in part a fairly old lineage, there having been many past schemes and efforts to connect German know-how with Russian resources. Many thinkers in the world at the time saw Germany as the most important economic, scientific, and cultural force in Europe and saw Russia as an immense place inhabited by less enlightened people. All of his early victories in Europe were in preparation for the great Russian assault, many of them taken in reaction to those who sought to stop him.

Of course, Hitler’s thinking in such matters as the conquest of Russia was never just straightforward or analytical, being always blurred with a deep sense of values, almost a mysticism, related to early German mythology. Embracing the barbarism represented in these stories was his way of freeing himself of constraints he saw in German society holding back its progress, and embrace it he did.

Hitler had what all educated people today would regard as crackpot ideas about the nature of human biology, but they actually did not seem quite so far out in the 1920-30s when general understanding of such matters was rudimentary. Terms like race purification were not heard only from Hitler but from a surprising assortment of people in the West. The “land of the free,” for example, had government eugenics programs well before Nazi Germany, programs in which tens of thousands of American citizens were involuntarily sterilized, having been judged unfit for reproduction. Many famous American business barons supported these and other related views and policies, most notably Henry Ford who wrote openly, among other things, of the need for eugenics and of his visceral hatred of Jews. Hitler actually kept a photo of Ford in his Chancellery office. Other Americans who went out of their way to demonstrate sympathy with the Nazis included Prescott Bush, Randolph Hearst, Irénée Du Pont, Henry Luce, Joseph Kennedy, John Rockefeller, Thomas J. Watson, Charles Lindbergh, plus a host of executives in major American corporations who did business with the Nazis and generally regarded them exactly as Hitler regarded himself, as a bulwark against communism and social chaos.

Hitler’s views on race and people were twisted outgrowths of his brutal – he liked that term, considering it a compliment to his hard-nosed insight and rejection of sentimentality – views on the economy and the state. Despite using the word socialist as part of the name of his party, Hitler was a social Darwinist, a philosophy shared in one degree or another by many influential Americans even today from corporate leaders and “think tank” flaks to the Tea Party and many so-called libertarians. He used the term socialist as just one lure for support in the chaos of Germany from the 1920s into the early 1930s, a time when he tried fervently to be elected to office, something he never achieved (about 37% of the vote at his high-water mark, eventually being appointed as Chancellor by an aged President), but he used the term also because he felt always the state had the right and obligation to interfere in the economy to serve greater ends. Not a few Americans embrace the same view, so long as the areas of concern are limited to the military, the national security apparatus, or the well-being of huge corporations – with none of which Hitler would have disagreed.

He viewed the military as the supreme tool of the state, and he once said, when reminded many young men would die, that that was what they were for. Through the early- and mid-1930s, he built formidable new armed forces in Germany which put him in a position eventually to carry out his dream. In the end, Hitler did achieve something out of ancient Germanic mythology, not the part he wanted but something terrible which destroyed the lives of tens of millions, Gotterdammerung.

Netanyahu is also something of a transplant, having been born in Israel but having spent many years in the United States. His English has an American accent.

Netanyahu is notorious for his lying and his rages. While the general public often would not be able to detect all of the lies, those involving confidential or secret matters, we have the extraordinary testimony of former presidents Clinton and Sarkozy as well President Obama that you cannot believe one word that Netanyahu utters. He spins whole webs of lies to get what he wants or to avoid what he doesn’t want. I think it pretty clear that anytime he uses the words peace or a Palestinian state, he is lying. President Obama, in his earlier dealings with Netanyahu and before he was quite reduced to a spineless servant of powerful lobbyists, actually said he did not believe Netanyahu wanted peace. Certainly every step of Netanyahu’s political career supports the perception, from his early rejection of the Oslo Accords to his mass slaughter of fenced-in civilians in Gaza. Yes, he has made speeches about peace, but then so did Hitler who made a speech about peace in the 1930s, William Shirer called one of the greatest ever made.

His rages, at least some of them, are public knowledge. You may easily search for pictures on the Internet of Netanyahu shouting, finger pointing, red in the face, and virtually spitting with his eyes bulging like those of some ancient Asian warlord in a scroll painting. As was the case sometimes with Hitler, some of the rages may be deliberate acts but that does not make them any less frightening.

Netanyahu also adheres to a mythology, the biblical myths about the Promised Land and the narcissistic stuff about God’s chosen people, and that expression “God’s chosen people” is frightfully reminiscent of Hitler’s vision of the Germanic people. So far as I am aware, Netanyahu has not used that expression in public, but belief in it is implicit in so much that he does. It certainly is implicit in the very concept of claiming the ancient land of Israel as belonging to you and your people. People may be forgiven for believing such things in private as part of their religious faith, but when they provide templates for a state and its policies, they are utterly pernicious nonsense. Also, Netanyahu is known to have uttered in private and in not-so-private situations many contemptuous expressions describing Palestinians and Arabs.

There is a second layer of myth in Netanyahu’s thinking, one just as fantasy-like as Hitler’s Germanic myths, and that is the idea that he and his fellow countrymen are descended from the biblical Hebrews. The Ashkenazi Jews who are the bone and sinew of modern Israel are simply a European people, the name Ashkenazi meaning German. Recent DNA tests suggest the Ashkenazi trace to a woman from around Italy who migrated to Germany maybe a thousand years ago. Other tests suggest Ashkenazi origins as the Kazhars, a Caucasian tribe who were converted to Judaism and lived in and around modern Ukraine a thousand years ago, later migrating west, settling in a number of Eastern and Central lands. Some of the early Zionists and future Israeli politicians were well aware of this latter possibility, there being many suggestive clues in language and cultural artifacts, because they wrote and spoke of it. In all events, the native language of many Ashkenazi people is Yiddish, a hybrid of German evolved over a very long period. Hebrew has long been studied in the Hebrew schools associated with temples in many places as part of religious observance the same way many Muslims learn some Arabic and by biblical scholars in universities, but until it was artificially imposed on Israel, it was virtually a dead language spoken day-to-day by no one.

There is no record of the original Hebrew people of the Bible having been expelled en masse from Palestine, and such behavior was totally uncharacteristic of the Romans. The Romans faced many ferocious enemies in their conquests – the Celts, the Gauls, Germanic tribes, and others – as well as many people whose customs they regarded as barbarous, but they did not expel any of them en masse, or the Roman Empire would have been very thinly populated with no agricultural economic base to pay the taxes and tributes Rome always exacted. The stories of an expelled people wandering about here and there for ages are certainly as fanciful as the older Hebrew stories of Jonah or Lott’s wife or slavery in Egypt (which not one bit of archeological evidence has ever confirmed). All such stories are just as unsuitable to claiming territory as the Teutonic myths would be.

And they are particularly unsuitable to claiming a place already long populated by another group of people. In saying this, I do not question the existence of Israel, just its belligerent expansion. I do believe supporting its 1948 unilateral declaration was a matter of poor judgment and political skulduggery, particularly by the United States, because it created something completely not-in-keeping with its environment and a source of future ceaseless hostilities. But the mistake was made, and the world can accept an Israel which keeps to its early boundaries and behaves civilly to its neighbors – and that includes the Palestinians and even Hamas, it being a Netanyahu lie that Hamas will never do so since it has already said in private that it will. The problem is precisely that Netanyahu’s Israel does not want to keep those boundaries. The creation of Greater Israel is something we see underway year in and year out, slowly and brutally doing something not entirely different to what Hitler had dreamed of for Russia, taking the land and reducing its natives to slaves or people with no status and rights, untermensch, as he called them dismissively.

Some Israelis compare what they are doing to Palestinians with North America’s treatment of indigenous people, but that is an entirely false comparison. All indigenous people in Canada and America are citizens, and they may go to live and work where they wish. That is certainly not what Palestinians under Israeli control experience, nor is it what the Netanyahu-minded of Israel have in mind for the future, demanding always recognition as an exclusively Jewish state, a seemingly simple formulation which hides a multitude of potential evils. In any event, comparing the ethics of your behavior in the early 21st century to what others did in the 18th century – a time of general slavery, inferiority of women, and capital punishment for modest crimes – is a ridiculous proposition.

Although he has never declared so in public, judging by the totality of his aggressive acts and seizures with flimsy excuses, Netanyahu is dedicated to some form of Greater Israel, an Israel which includes the West Bank and Gaza and Jerusalem and even parts of Syria and Lebanon in most definitions. The Six Day war was deliberately engineered by like-minded Israelis earlier to lay the foundation of a future grander state. Netanyahu has never indicated disagreement with what was done. The millions of people who live in those places now are either to simply pick up and leave everything behind – going someplace, any place, Jordan or the Sinai having featured in Israel’s wishes at times – or accept perpetual existence as nonentities living in unconnected reservations behind walls and fences and earning their living as cheap temporary labor for Israel. If Netanyahu did not embrace this vision, he has had plenty of opportunity to end the nearly half century of repressive occupation but has never made the smallest effort to do so, only adding his own large-scale confiscation of more peoples’ homes and farms and a terrible, bloody investment and invasion of the open-air prison of Gaza. And when soldiers in the occupation zones kill innocent people, as they frequently do for slight provocations, they are never held to account, so too in the case of fanatical “settlers” who periodically swarm poor Palestinian farmers, chopping down or burning ancient olive trees or other property. Netanyahu’s voice is never once heard against outrages.

Netanyahu’s version of Greater Israel is a place that influences events and peoples around it for a thousand miles, as it already is doing in its early days, which is why the people of Egypt again live under American-influenced tyranny, the people of Syria are fighting armed madmen owing in part to Israel’s dark collusion, Iraq is left a broken and bleeding state, as is Libya, and Iran, which has started no wars and never threatened Israel, is threatened regularly in ugly rants from Netanyahu much resembling those of Hitler aimed at Czechoslovakia or other non-offending states he was eventually to destroy. It is of course to be a Greater Israel only for one kind of people. Those living in the occupied territories are kept miserably uncomfortable in hopes they will leave. Even the Arabs who are citizens of Israel – an unintended accident of events in 1948 and a purely technical status for them – are undoubtedly seen as leaving one day after living under the duress, as they do, of unequal laws and frequent attacks on their loyalty, especially once Israel has formal recognition as a Jewish state. Can you image a better formula for endless war and instability, a formula strongly resembling Hitler’s vision of Greater Germany, ending his rhetorical thousand year Reich in just twelve years?

Just as was the case for Hitler, Netanyahu is not a majority leader, his government depending on alliances with some even more unpleasant, extremist personalities, as for example his present Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, who has made outrageously racist speeches and openly suggested pushing Israel’s non-Jewish citizens out of their homes. This sly pattern of underlings making distasteful suggestions represents a game Hitler, too, played. He did not always go on record himself saying the most terrible things. He often let lieutenants say them, observing to see the strength and direction of public reaction. All reasonable people will agree that the leader of a country must be held responsible for what his ministers say, unless the leader refutes the words in public and dismisses the offending minister, something we do not see from Netanyahu.

Again, looking for pictures on the Internet, it is not hard to find some of Netanyahu suggesting the ability sometimes to charm with a sly smile and inviting gestures. Here we also have the testimony of some world figures. He is apparently able to be quite charming in private, while at the same time lying through his teeth. The narcissism is clear.

The army too is the primary tool of state for Netanyahu. He himself served, was wounded, and he expects others to do so uncomplainingly, including those with religious objections. Israel spends an inordinate amount of money – its own and a great deal from others – on armed forces which are immensely out of proportion to its size and legitimate needs – that is, if you aren’t thinking in terms of conquest and occupation and arrogant demands, just exactly the terms which characterize Netanyahu’s entire career.

One of the interpretations of Hitler’s statesmanship and conquests, that of a modern biographer, Ian Kershaw, sees him as having been an obsessive high-rolling gambler who just kept raising the stakes until luck abandoned him. I actually cannot think of a better description of Netanyahu’s entire political career.

More than a few well known observers have said that Netanyahu quite possibly will end by destroying Israel, something I regard as distinctly possible, a parallel to Hitler’s Gotterdammerung for Germany. And in the meantime, countless people will be threatened, intimidated, imprisoned, tortured, or killed needlessly over a set of feverish, unrealistic obsessions.

Apologists for Israel often say that it acts with great restraint in its violence. Yes, Israel has not murdered the millions who live under its endless occupation, and in that limited sense only does Israel show restraint. Hitler murdered millions, but he did so largely in secret and under cover of the bloodiest war in all of human history, the invasion of Russia. The whole world watches Israel, even though Israel does a great deal to make observation and reportage difficult. But Israel works under conflicting impulses. It desperately wants to be considered as an open, modern, and democratic society, notions promoted in Netanyahu’s every speech aimed or delivered abroad and through truckloads of slick propaganda. It must be mindful of attracting immigrants and avoiding an exodus. It simply isn’t possible to completely shut the world out without Israel imploding, and it is hardly a merit not to have imitated Hitler.

But, remember, Israel has kept millions as prisoners for nearly half a century, depriving them of all rights, depriving them of property, offering them no hope, and terrorizing them with periodic home invasions, attacks, and atrocities. Freely-elected members of Palestinian governments have been arrested, leaders have been assassinated, and thousands of innocents at any given time languish in Israeli prisons where torture is common. The Palestinians have experienced such horrors as water wells poisoned, human waste dumped or sprayed, crops poisoned or otherwise destroyed, shops bulldozed, children shot for throwing rocks, and an entire police-state apparatus of check-points and identity papers and outrageous rules imposed twenty-four hours a day. There is nothing in Israel’s behavior resembling ethics or human values or even a genuine democratic impulse, and calling it restraint ranks as some of the world’s sickest humor.

Related: Jim comment: The Islamic State sprang from an Israeli-Saudi-USA construct. I believe Robert Freeman’s argument below supports John Chuckman’s core thesis above in a material way.

ISIS: A monster created by the West
Robert Freeman Common Dreams USA October 20, 2014

It is a laughable routine of the mass media to demonize all of the leaders of U.S. enemies as latter-day Hitlers. Saddam Hussein was a Hitler. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela was a Hitler. Gaddafi in Libya. Assad in Syria. Hillary Clinton recently equated Putin in Russia with Hitler.

Finally, however, we may have an actual instance where a U.S. adversary actually is a bonafide Hitler. But it’s not in the way we may think. The adversary is ISIS in Syraq and its equation with Hitler is not because it is committing genocide. Rather, it is for the way ISIS came to power—with U.S. nurturing—and then turned on its master.

The conventional wisdom about Hitler was that he acquired power as a result of “appeasement” by the British and, to a lesser extent, French governments. In this telling, Neville Chamberlain was a fool, a dunce who didn’t understand that giving in to a bully only makes him bolder. Not until it was too late did the world understand the irredeemable evil of Hitler.

This version of history was written by British historians even before World War II was over. Its purpose was to exonerate their nation’s government for the staggering devastation it brought into the world. Winston Churchill helped legitimize this narrative in the years after the War.

But a more distanced and nuanced reading of the history suggests that, far from being duped by Hitler, the British were, in fact, actively abetting him in his acquisition of power. This, in the hopes that he would use that power to destroy the Soviet Union, much as the Kaiser’s armies destroyed Russia during World War I. Only when Hitler cut a deal at the last moment with Stalin, to cover his eastern front, did Western leaders finally repudiate him.

In this way, ISIS is legitimately like Hitler. It is a creation of the West, in this case, the U.S., and its Sunni allies in the Middle East—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Ba’harain, and the United Arab Emirates. It was nurtured as an outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq. It was funded under the fiction that it contained “moderate rebels,” ones who could be controlled by the west and were even potentially small-d democrats. Its marching orders were to destroy the Shi’ite-leaning regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, paving the way for the removal of the Shi’ite regime in Iran and Saudi/U.S. domination of the Persian Gulf, location of 60% of the world’s known oil reserves.

But just as Hitler turned on his creators, ISIS broke its leash and turned on its. It is laughable to portray ISIS as a threat to the U.S. But it is potentially deadly to the corrupt sheikdoms that helped birth it and that defile the true teachings of Islam. It is to protect those shiekdoms—the U.S.’s allies—that the U.S. must now take up the fighting directly.

Chamberlain’s blunder in abetting Hitler proved one of the greatest strategic miscalculations in diplomatic history. It led directly to World War II. It is too early to understand the cost of the West’s abetting the creation of ISIS, but it is already much greater than planned.

Posted at: October 20, 2014 - 11:34 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

,

Propaganda: Language is telling; so are facts. If you conduct a war, you shouldn’t be in charge of narrating it

It is no cliché that those who ignore history are bound to repeat it. Unless we are provided an honest accounting of the disgraceful history of the US war on Vietnam, we will be ill equipped to protest the current and future wars conducted in our name. - Marjorie Cohn, “US Government Sanitizes Vietnam War History”, October 16, 2014.

The people of Novorossiya watched as their brothers and sisters were murdered, first in Odessa, then in Mariupol, and then shelled mercilessly in Lugansk and Donetsk, killed without sanction or remorse by a crazed group of thugs egged on by the west. Russia bears no responsibility for this whatsoever—the US made the death of the idea of Ukraine an absolute certainty by funding, arming and backing fascists and oligarchs to commit a series of atrocities on their countrymen. Whether there is amnesty, or some bogus treaty or comminique is largely irrelevant. The people of these regions will simply not live under the control of Kiev ever again. No plans, protocols or peace treaties can make any of this go away. The specific form of how this all comes to pass is still blurry; the general outlines are not. They have already been written in blood. - The parrot that has ceased to be: Ukraine will never again be a united country, September 28, 2014

Public pronouncements by Saudi officials against the Islamic State of Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS), now renamed the Islamic State (IS, for short), notwithstanding, the fact is, this monster is a Saudi creation. And it did not emerge last week or month; the House of Saud has nurtured it for nearly a decade as part of a long-term strategy to contain the growing influence of Islamic Iran in the region. - Bandar, the godfather of takfirism in back, Crescent International, August 2014

Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, so-called ”Caliph,” the head of ISIL (Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant is, according to sources reputed to originate from Edward Snowden, an actor named Elliot Shimon, a Mossad trained operative. - French report ISIL leader Mossad agent, Veterans Today, August 4, 2014

I’m not one of those who scribble blunt little mustaches on pictures of politicians I dislike, but here I make some uncomfortable and I believe accurate observations comparing personality and character traits of a contemporary politician with one of history’s darkest figures. I don’t know whether anyone else has noticed the fact that Benjamin Netanyahu and Adolph Hitler share uncomfortably similar personality and character traits. Certainly there are, and have been, other politicians who also share the same traits, but it is of particular concern today that a man of this nature dominates events in the Middle East. - John Chuckman, Uncanny parallels in character, October 20, 2014

Language is telling; so are facts. With the approach of the “full panoply of Orwellian forgetfulness” that is a 13-year, $65 million commemoration of the Vietnam War by the same people who started it, it’s nigh on impossible to reconcile Obama’s “valor of a generation that served with honor fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans” with the savage years many “remember, with painful acuity, as other than glorious” – years of lies, loss, rage, trauma, protests and the deaths of millions of innocents. Seeking to “speak truth to power,” Veterans For Peace are rejecting an official narrative they say sanitizes and mythologizes an unconscionable war – and likely helps legitimize further such wars – by organizing their own Peace and Justice Commemoration as part of a larger Full Disclosure Campaign. Its goal is to “truly examine what happened during those tragic and tumultuous years,” and use those lessons to prevent them from happening again. - Abby Zimet

Items: Below: Bryan MacDonald is a journalist, writer, broadcaster and teacher. He writes for Irish Independent and Daily Mail. He has also frequently appeared on RTE and Newstalk in Ireland as well as RT.

‘If it walks like a Nazi and quacks like a Nazi – it’s the far-right’
Bryan MacDonald RT Russia October 15, 2014


Clashes between protesters at the Verkhovna Rada building and police observing public order, in Kiev. Photo: Alexandr Maksimenko/RIA Novosti

Western correspondents are at it again in Kiev. Airbrushing extremist elements in the ‘Maidan’ movement. It’s shameful and can no longer go un-mentioned.

A British journalist and his American colleague stood on a bridge in Kiev. Across the busy road, a young, innocent-looking Ukrainian army officer, in uniform, walked a Labrador retriever. It wasn’t golden. It was black.

“That’s a very dark-colored Labrador,” suggested the Brit.

The American took a puff of his cigarette and nodded his head, “Is it chocolate?”

“No, I’d say it’s a kind of ‘night’ color, the color of the ‘night’, yes that’s what is,” reasoned the Englishman in disagreement.

“Could you say ‘inky’?” the American quizzed.

“You could indeed. Jolly good. ‘Inky’ it is,” laughed the Englishman.

The two men, delighted by their agility in finding ways to define the dog in every way except the correct form, had a joint chuckle. They were getting good at this. Almost a year ensconced in Kiev, finding myriad terms to soft-soap the most unspeakable acts had served them well. Over cheap, watery Ukrainian pilsners they would frequently guffaw about how their work had helped the “revolution.”

As the latest crowd of nubile local young things gathered at their table, they’d show examples of how friendly they were to Ukraine. It was all online, in black and white. Life was good. A Western income stretched far in an impoverished land.

“What about the young soldier?” continued the Brit.

“Definitely not a Nazi,” the American answered.

“The yellow and black symbol on his arm. Was that a Wolfsangel?”

“No, no. It was the symbol of the Azov Battalion.”

They smiled. This routine was well practiced. Yet, just as the smirking began, the American’s phone rang. There was trouble outside the parliament.

The first part of the above is my imagination, but I wouldn’t include it if there wasn’t a large grain of truth. The last sentence happened yesterday in Kiev.

Yes, 15 policemen were injured in Kiev and over 50 demonstrators were arrested in violent clashes. Euromaidan PR and employees of President Porshenko’s TV channel made the ridiculous accusation that the protestors were pro-Russian. Pro-Russian’s with Swastika’s, making Nazi salutes. Yes, they really alleged it. Yes, their mendacity is really that shocking.

What actually occurred is that the extremists were annoyed because the Rada refused to pass a law recognizing WW2 Nazi collaborators as “heroes” of Ukraine. They took to the streets and, when police intervened, all hell broke loose. Not an uncommon sight in Ukraine, this year, sadly.

The Western media either ignored the story or attempted to airbrush the details. Here is a sample of tweets yesterday.

So, why is it that Western journalists in Ukraine are unable to call Nazis, “Nazis?” Instead of using the obvious term, it’s replaced with “far-right” or “nationalists.” Is it because the US government would never support Nazis? Far-right nationalists are more acceptable? Maybe they feel responsible for helping them attain influence and power by – almost to a man – supporting the Maidan riots and the subsequent coup?

Rather than admit to some past mistakes, it appears white-washing is a better policy for the EU and US media.

Welcome to the bizarre world of Western media in Ukraine. A self-contained pit of rumor, fear, braggadocio and propaganda.

The West’s ignorance of Ukraine atrocities is an outrage
‘The Saker’ Russia Insider Russia September 30, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links. Saker’s commentary is introduced by the Russia Insider editors.

Today’s comment from the Saker is very timely, as we published a sensational video earlier today about the western media’s ignorance of events surrounding the Odessa massacre of May 2.

Its going to be a big deal.

The increasing news flow about the extreme brutality of the Kiev regime and the massive neo-nazi presence in its ranks, is snowballing, and, we are sure, will end up being a huge embarrassment for the EU States and the US who have embraced Kiev.

This is especially true for Germany, which is hyper-sensitive to nazi questions.

Listen to the Saker, we couldn’t have said it better ourselves:

Today, buried 9 minutes into the latest edition of the Channel 1 news report on Russian television, was a 23 seconds long statement by Latvian Human Rights investigator Enorst Gronych who declared on camera that he has interviewed the people of a village recently evacuated by the Junta’s repression forces who had told him about “repeated cases of gang rapes of minor girls aged 12, 13 and 14 years old” by Ukrainian thugs.

According to Gronych, this kind of pattern falls within the definition of “genocide”.

In fact, the Russian TV channels have also been reporting mass graves, numerous cases of civilians pulled out of their cars and summarily shot, mass graves of people shot with their hands tied in their back and tortures, tortures and more tortures: systematic beatings, branding with swastikas, knife wounds, broken bones, heard trauma, damaged kidneys are all apparently what any detained person (regardless of the reason for their detention) should expect from the Junta’s “liberators”.

Furthermore, it is now becoming apparent that about 50% of the Novorussian “prisoners of war” which are being exchanged for Ukrainian POWs under the terms of the recent ceasefire agreement are not combatants at all but civilians seized for the sole purpose of exchanging them.

It is not hard to imagine what truly happened to the missing 50%: most of them were tortured and shot by drunken Ukrainian thugs (in stark contrast Ukrainian POWs were treated, washed, fed, clothed and then given the choice to say in Russia or go back to the Ukraine).

For anybody familiar with Ukrainian nationalism and Ukrainian nationalists, this is hardly surprising. Not only is that fully consistent with what happens in the rest of the Junta-controlled Ukraine, it is also consistent with the practice of Ukrainian nationalists of the times of Bandera and before.

No, what is amazing is the utter silence in the West about this. For somebody like me who vividly remembers the loud and indignant protests of western human rights NGOs, media and governments over human rights violations in Chechnia, Bosnia or Kosovo (including plenty of completely fictional ones!), it is amazing to see how “for some mysterious reasons” the Ukrainian atrocities seem to go unnoticed in the West.

The very same West who is absolutely outraged about the arrest of Pussy Riot activist and who seems to seriously believe that organizing a “gay pride parade’ in Moscow is a human right is apparently totally indifferent to the gang rape of 12-14 year old girls.

What does this say about the West, it’s values, it’s leaders, media and people?

Blowback! U.S. trained Islamists who joined ISIS
Aaron Klein WND USA June 17, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

JERUSALEM – Syrian rebels who would later join the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials.

The officials said dozens of future ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.

The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.

In February 2012, WND was first to report the U.S., Turkey and Jordan were running a training base for the Syrian rebels in the Jordanian town of Safawi in the country’s northern desert region.

That report has since been corroborated by numerous other media accounts.

Last March, the German weekly Der Spiegel reported Americans were training Syrian rebels in Jordan.

Quoting what it said were training participants and organizers, Der Spiegel reported it was not clear whether the Americans worked for private firms or were with the U.S. Army, but the magazine said some organizers wore uniforms. The training in Jordan reportedly focused on use of anti-tank weaponry.

WND reported last week that, according to Jordanian and Syrian regime sources, Saudi Arabia has been arming the ISIS and that the Saudis are a driving force in supporting the al-Qaida-linked group.

WND further reported that, according to a Shiite source in contact with a high official in the government of Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki, the Obama administration has been aware for two months that the al-Qaida-inspired group that has taken over two Iraqi cities and now is threatening Baghdad also was training fighters in Turkey.

The source told WND that at least one of the training camps of the group Iraq of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Syria, the ISIS, is in the vicinity of Incirlik Air Base near Adana, Turkey, where American personnel and equipment are located.

He called Obama “an accomplice” in the attacks that are threatening the Maliki government the U.S. helped establish through the Iraq war.

The source said that after training in Turkey, thousands of ISIS fighters went to Iraq by way of Syria to join the effort to establish an Islamic caliphate subject to strict Islamic law, or Shariah.

ISIS: A monster created by the West
Robert Freeman Common Dreams USA October 20, 2014

It is a laughable routine of the mass media to demonize all of the leaders of U.S. enemies as latter-day Hitlers. Saddam Hussein was a Hitler. Hugo Chavez in Venezuela was a Hitler. Gaddafi in Libya. Assad in Syria. Hillary Clinton recently equated Putin in Russia with Hitler.

Finally, however, we may have an actual instance where a U.S. adversary actually is a bonafide Hitler. But it’s not in the way we may think. The adversary is ISIS in Syraq and its equation with Hitler is not because it is committing genocide. Rather, it is for the way ISIS came to power—with U.S. nurturing—and then turned on its master.

The conventional wisdom about Hitler was that he acquired power as a result of “appeasement” by the British and, to a lesser extent, French governments. In this telling, Neville Chamberlain was a fool, a dunce who didn’t understand that giving in to a bully only makes him bolder. Not until it was too late did the world understand the irredeemable evil of Hitler.

This version of history was written by British historians even before World War II was over. Its purpose was to exonerate their nation’s government for the staggering devastation it brought into the world. Winston Churchill helped legitimize this narrative in the years after the War.

But a more distanced and nuanced reading of the history suggests that, far from being duped by Hitler, the British were, in fact, actively abetting him in his acquisition of power. This, in the hopes that he would use that power to destroy the Soviet Union, much as the Kaiser’s armies destroyed Russia during World War I. Only when Hitler cut a deal at the last moment with Stalin, to cover his eastern front, did Western leaders finally repudiate him.

In this way, ISIS is legitimately like Hitler. It is a creation of the West, in this case, the U.S., and its Sunni allies in the Middle East—Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Turkey, Ba’harain, and the United Arab Emirates. It was nurtured as an outgrowth of al Qaeda in Iraq. It was funded under the fiction that it contained “moderate rebels,” ones who could be controlled by the west and were even potentially small-d democrats. Its marching orders were to destroy the Shi’ite-leaning regime of Bashar Assad in Syria, paving the way for the removal of the Shi’ite regime in Iran and Saudi/U.S. domination of the Persian Gulf, location of 60% of the world’s known oil reserves.

But just as Hitler turned on his creators, ISIS broke its leash and turned on its. It is laughable to portray ISIS as a threat to the U.S. But it is potentially deadly to the corrupt sheikdoms that helped birth it and that defile the true teachings of Islam. It is to protect those shiekdoms—the U.S.’s allies—that the U.S. must now take up the fighting directly.

Chamberlain’s blunder in abetting Hitler proved one of the greatest strategic miscalculations in diplomatic history. It led directly to World War II. It is too early to understand the cost of the West’s abetting the creation of ISIS, but it is already much greater than planned.

Related: My Lai was not an ‘incident’: Seeking full disclosure on Vietnam
Abby Zimet Common Dreams USA October 17, 2014


Visit this page for its embedded links.

Language is telling; so are facts. With the approach of the “full panoply of Orwellian forgetfulness” that is a 13-year, $65 million commemoration of the Vietnam War by the same people who started it, it’s nigh on impossible to reconcile Obama’s “valor of a generation that served with honor fighting heroically to protect the ideals we hold dear as Americans” with the savage years many “remember, with painful acuity, as other than glorious” – years of lies, loss, rage, trauma, protests and the deaths of millions of innocents. Seeking to “speak truth to power,” Veterans For Peace are rejecting an official narrative they say sanitizes and mythologizes an unconscionable war – and likely helps legitimize further such wars – by organizing their own Peace and Justice Commemoration as part of a larger Full Disclosure Campaign. Its goal is to “truly examine what happened during those tragic and tumultuous years,” and use those lessons to prevent them from happening again.

From the start, many have questioned what longtime activist Tom Hayden calls the “staggering” idea of a commemoration orchestrated by the Department of Defense. Citing the Pentagon’s questionable “version of the truth” that for so long sustained an immoral war, he convincingly argues that, “If you conduct a war, you shouldn’t be in charge of narrating it.” Almost everything about the project, from its website full of glossy pictures of smiling veterans to its very language – its mission to “assist a grateful nation” in thanking veterans, Obama’s thinking “with solemn reverence upon the valor of a generation,” its initial labelling of the massacre of 500 women, children and older men at My Lai an “incident” – bears out the notion that the project’s goal is largely “an ex post facto justification of the war,” or to rewrite history in order to repeat it with as little opposition as possible.

Posted at: October 20, 2014 - 10:29 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post

Leaked Trans-Pacific Partnership chapter exposes sweet deals for Big Pharma and US bully tactics & Harper government plan silent on updating Access to Information Act

Leaked TPP chapter exposes sweet deals for Big Pharma and US bully tactics
Deirdre Fulton Common Dreams USA October 16, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

WikiLeaks on Thursday released a second updated version of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) Intellectual Property Rights chapter, charging that it will hinder affordable access to medicines globally, increase online surveillance, and impinge on civil liberties while benefiting Big Pharma and other corporate interests.

“Our first impression in reading the document is the extent to which the United States has sought hundreds of changes in intellectual property norms, some small and subtle, others blunt and aggressive, nearly of all of which favor big corporate right holders, and undermine the public’s freedom to use knowledge,” declared James Love of Knowledge Ecology International.

The TPP is the world’s largest economic trade agreement that will, if it goes into effect, encompass more than 40 percent of the world’s GDP. The IP chapter covers topics from pharmaceuticals, patent registrations, and copyright issues to digital rights.

The trade pact has been mostly negotiated in secret, with only select government officials and corporations able to see the text. To that end, WikiLeaks has released several draft chapters. A previous draft of the IP chapter was leaked in November 2013.

“Since that point, some controversial and damaging areas have had little change; issues surrounding digital rights have moved little,” according to a WikiLeaks press statement Thursday. “However, there are significant industry-favoring additions within the areas of pharmaceuticals and patents. These additions are likely to affect access to important medicines such as cancer drugs and will also weaken the requirements needed to patent genes in plants, which will impact small farmers and boost the dominance of large agricultural corporations like Monsanto.”

The draft leaked on Thursday also offers a glimpse at shifting country alliances. Whereas the U.S. and Australia used to be closely aligned, the latest version suggests the U.S. and Japan are now tightly linked.

As Mike Masnick notes at TechDirt: “A bunch of countries are pushing for the right to cancel a patent if it ‘is used in a manner determined to be anti-competitive,’ but of course, the U.S. and Japan are completely against such a thing. Instead, the U.S. and Japan say it should only be cancelled on grounds that would have been justified for refusing to grant the patent in the first place. In other words, most of the countries recognize that patents can be abused in anti-competitive ways and want to protect against that. The US and Japan, on the other hand, appear to be happy with enabling anti-competitive abuses with patents.”

But the IP chapter’s text also shows that many countries are pushing back.

“[T]he immediate takeaway is that the U.S. remains fairly isolated in its efforts to overhaul patent and copyright law around the world with Canada emerging as the leading opponent of its demands,” writes University of Ottawa law professor Michael Geist at his blog.

He explains:

Why is Canada opposing so many U.S. demands?

Simply put, the U.S. wants Canada to eviscerate many of the recent reforms found in copyright and counterfeiting legislation along with court rulings on patent protection. These demands focus on enhanced criminal liability for copyright infringement, eliminating the Canadian approach to Internet service provider liability, extending the term of copyright protection, and expanding patent protection. Canadian negotiators have thus far resisted many of the proposed changes, offering alternatives that are compatible with current law. Yet as the treaty negotiations continue, the pressure to cave to U.S. pressure will no doubt increase, raising serious concerns about whether the TPP will force the Canadian government to overhaul recently enacted legislation that it has steadfastly defended as reflecting a balanced, “made in Canada” approach.

Current TPP negotiation member states are the United States, Japan, Mexico, Canada, Australia, Malaysia, Chile, Singapore, Peru, Vietnam, New Zealand, and Brunei; ministers from those countries will attend a meeting in Australia at the end of this month in the hopes of breaking the impasse in November.

Related: Federal Conservatives’ Open Government Action Plan fails to fulfill Open Government Partnership (OGP) membership requirements
Democracy Watch Canada April 17, 2012

Visit this page for its embedded links.

OTTAWA – Today [April 17, 2012], as representatives of 60 countries gather in Brasilia, Brazil to present their two-year action plans at the first international Open Government Partnership (OGP) meeting, the nation-wide Open Government Coalition, Government Ethics Coalition and Money in Politics Coalition, made up of more than 70 citizen groups in total with three million members (all coordinated by Democracy Watch), called on the OGP Steering Committee to reject the federal Conservatives’ Action Plan for failing to fulfill its own commitment to increase government integrity.

The Conservatives committed to taking positive steps forward in three areas (what OGP calls Grand Challenges): 1. increasing public integrity; 2. improving public services, and; 3. effectively managing public resources.

However, the Conservatives’ Action Plan focuses only on making currently available information available online through open data systems, does not contain any measures to increase public integrity or increase accountability for mismanagement of public resources, and tries to claim credit for open government and public consultation initiatives the Liberals implemented years ago. And given the Conservatives’ recent multibillion dollar F-35 fighter jet and prison spending boondoggles, and G8 summit spending scandal, it couldn’t be easier for them to more effectively manage public resources.

In all these ways, the Conservatives’ Action Plan violates the Open Government Partnership (OGP) requirements set out in the Open Government Declaration that all countries are required to sign. To fulfill the Declaration requirements, the Conservatives’ Plan had to commit to strengthening open government in every way (as they did during the 2006 election with so-called “Federal Accountability Act” pledge — though they broke almost all of their promises). Their Action Plan should have included measures to strengthen not only transparency laws and enforcement, but also federal ethics, lobbying, anti-corruption, political finance, financial administration, whistleblower protection and public consultation laws and enforcement, in government and in the private sector.

As a result, the OGP Steering Committee should reject the Conservatives Action Plan, and criticize them strongly for trying to claim they are doing much more than they are.

“The federal Conservatives continue to try to spin their limited online data activities as an actual open government action plan, and continue to refuse to keep their commitments to strengthening the rules and enforcement systems in federal transparency, ethics, anti-corruption, lobbying, consultation, whistleblower protection, political finance, and waste prevention laws, and so the international Open Government Partnership Steering Committee should reject and criticize their plan,” said Tyler Sommers, Coordinator of Democracy Watch. “Secret, unethical lobbying, secret donations, secret expenses, excessive secrecy overall, conflicts of interest and sole-source contracts are currently legal, enforcement of key democracy and good government laws is too weak, as is whistleblower protection and public consultation, and so many key changes are clearly needed to ensure everyone in federal politics is effectively required to act honestly, openly, ethically, representatively and to prevent waste.”

Government plan silent on updating Access to Information Act
Jim Bronskill The Canadian Press/CTV News Canada October 10, 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

OTTAWA — The Conservatives’ new draft plan on open government makes no mention of reforming the Access to Information Act, despite widespread calls to revise the 32-year-old law.

Reform of the law was suggested during federal online consultations for the federal plan and during meetings in Vancouver, Edmonton, Ottawa and St. Catharines, Ont.

The federal information watchdog, opposition parties, pro-democracy groups and members of the government’s own advisory panel have also pushed for modernization, saying the law allows agencies to withhold too much information.

Last month, information commissioner Suzanne Legault wrote Treasury Board President Tony Clement to say revision of the law is “the one element” that must be included in the federal open government plan.

“Undertaking an in-depth reform of the legislation would clearly demonstrate the government’s commitment to the right of access as a central piece of the open government initiative,” Legault wrote.

The commissioner plans to table a special report in Parliament in coming months on modernizing the act.

In its letter to Clement, the Canadian Association of Journalists expressed a “strong belief” that the federal openness plan must include a commitment to updating the access law. It pointed to exemptions and exclusions in the law that prevent requesters from obtaining advice to ministers and cabinet documents, to name two examples.

“In effect, they create unassailable secret spaces in Canada’s public bodies,” the association said.

“While such privacy may be necessary in limited circumstances (such as those involving current and specific national security or law enforcement issues), it is more often inconsistent with the principle of open government, public expectations of how a modern democracy should function and our firm conviction that government documents belong to the public.”

The latest federal plan flows from Canada’s participation in the Open Government Partnership, a U.S.-led initiative that encourages countries make commitments to be more open and accountable. Canada’s draft plan, which builds on pledges made in 2012, includes promises to:

You can help push for key changes to end excessive secrecy in government – especially in the federal government
Democracy Watch Canada October 2014

Visit this page for its embedded links.

Since 2012, the federal Conservative government has been claiming to have an open government plan. In fact, every independent report has shown more excessive secrecy in the federal government than any time since the so-called Access to Information law passed in 1983.

The law is so weak it really should be called the “Guide to Keeping Government Information Secret” law.

Right now Conservative Cabinet minister Tony Clement is proposing a plan to the international Open Government Partnership that will only make already public information a bit more easily accessible.

This will do nothing to end secrecy that encourages waste, abuses and corruption – the law needs to be strengthened to require more transparency, with stronger enforcement and penalties for anyone who keeps information secret that the public has a right to know!

Please click here to send your letter now calling on the federal Conservatives, and governments across Canada, to make key changes to laws to open up government and make it more accountable to you.

Minister Clement and the Conservatives are only taking comments on their proposed plan for a very limited time – please send your message by next Monday, October 20th.

Posted at: October 20, 2014 - 10:24 am -- Posted by: Jim Scott -- Permalink: # -- Email This Post