Friday, April 18, 2014

From Kiev to Bangkok: Betrayal for Sale at $10 a Day

The Bangkok Protests

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

 

They really should have a dedicated flight connecting some of the cities consumed by the ‘protests’ orchestrated in Washington, London and Paris.

A flight schedule that would connect Bangkok – Beijing – Moscow – Kiev – Caracas and Havana, maybe with a southern detour to Harare, Pretoria, and Asmara. It would be a really good idea, a money saving one – for the taxpayers in Europe and North America.

Let us please not pretend, anymore, that there are spontaneous outbursts against governments that have been elected democratically and supported by the majority of people, in Eastern, Latin America, Africa and Asia.


Child and hired protester

Let us be pragmatic and think of how to economize on the great spending, of those billions of euros and dollars, pushed down the throats of pro-Western NGO’s, in places like Thailand and Ukraine, South Africa and Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia.

The list is actually endless, while the goal is crystal clear: It is to wipe out all substantial opposition to the present Western global regime – to wipe it off from the face of the earth! And to do it, to wipe it out, as quickly and efficiently as possible, preferably by avoiding direct invasions. If hundreds, thousands, even millions of people in poor, non-white, or socialist/Communist countries die, defending their motherland or fatherland in the process, so be it. The West has never been stingy when it comes to sacrificing millions of innocent lives of ‘the others’.

The lives of those ‘niggers’ (to borrow the polite linguistics of people like Lloyd George), or those filthy Commies, were never worth anything, at least to the rulers in London, Berlin, Paris or Washington. They were not worth anything then, and they are worth nothing now. The British Prime Minister [Sir] Winston Churchill was, for instance, in favor of gassing the ‘lower grade’ of races…

Twenty million lives of Soviet citizens, hundreds of millions of people murdered in what is now Latin America, the Middle East, Asia, and that is without even counting Africa.

So let us have it all out in the open: Let us push for the introduction of this round-the-world long-distance flight, in order to shuffle those agents of imperialism and neo-colonialism, those Western apparatchiks and their lackeys, their media whores and their local butlers, sometimes called ‘elites’, around.

Such a ‘service’ would save plenty of fuel, by connecting all the hotspots in a very efficient way.

Make it all business or first class, as these people are not doing what they are doing for some lofty ideals – they do it for status and for cold cash.

***

In one year I worked in, among other places, on the Turkish/Syrian border, in Egypt, Zimbabwe, Venezuela, Cuba, Ukraine and Thailand.

The similarities are stunning: The tents, electric generators, people imported from poor provinces, and even the slogans!

I speak about what I witness. I speak about it and I describe it in words, and in my films. But periodically, like now, I just want to show the images, to share with my readers and viewers what is… well… so obvious!

Two weeks ago it was Ukraine, I shared images from there. Today: Let it be Thailand!

***

In Bangkok, very recently, the ‘protesters’ moved from the upper-class shopping boulevard, Sukumvit, to the enormous public park – Lumpini.

They were obviously told to get the hell away from Paragon, Emporium and the other malls! There, they were spoiling the displays of the Lotus, Rolls Royce and Ferrari cars, as well as all those of the Prada, Versace and Vuitton boutiques.

Their presence is good enough for irritating, even threatening government officials. It is good for disrupting elections (the elections are free and ‘democratic’ only when people vote for those candidates and system that the West approves of, otherwise voters get intimidated, or even massacred by ‘truly democratic forces’).

But those Thai southerners actually do stink, and they are too vulgar for the refined tastes of the Bangkok elites! So to hell with the bastards! They are paid anyway, so they can be told where to move to. They were ruining the commercial center of the city, with their pots and pans and ‘fisherman pants’.

They have to go… or else! They go, of course; they go obediently, like cattle, wherever they are ordered to go. They are paid to go…

So now there is this huge celebration of the Thai New Year – of Songkran – of the Water Festival. People are desperate, the Thai economy is screaming, all the economists are predicting a huge depression, crisis, even collapse. But what can they, ordinary people, do – they have to do something! So they celebrate. Beer, loud music, water jets, fire hoses, sirens…

People are not smiling; people are concerned. But at Lumpini Park, everything is festive there: huge high-tech screens, men in military fatigues and jackets (damn, exactly like in Kiev!), pornographic anti-government slogans (the Prime Minister is a woman, and whilst porn is banned on the net, it is quite ok to depict the head of the Thai government as a naked whore) and faces painted in bright white.

There are primitive gyms where rough elements are doing bodybuilding in the open. There are barbershops, and there are massage parlours.

There are thugs, everywhere. Just as in Kiev and elsewhere, they are ‘controlling traffic’, deciding who can pass through the occupied areas.

There are video cameras everywhere, but the police would never dare to interfere (just as in Kiev, where for many weeks they did not really dare to intervene), the army is also fully supportive of the monarchy and the elites, and would never ever dream of breaking up those that are paid for by the true rulers of the land, and their foreign handlers.

And suddenly I see it! There is this huge poster proclaiming: “THAKSIN-ISM IS COMMUNISM TYRANNY”.

Thaksin Shinawatra a Communist? That very business tycoon, a turbo-capitalist, whose only ‘fault’ was that he introduced free medical care (much better than that in the United States), improved education, housed the poor, and aimed at a much more egalitarian society than anything ever seen to date in Southeast Asia?

That was, damn, of course, unacceptable to the Thai elites, military and their foreign handlers, simply because in Thailand it is not just about money, but mainly about the gap that the rulers feel they need to maintain between them and the rest of the people. The rulers of Thailand need people to prostrate in front of them, at their feet, like elsewhere in those horrid Western colonies in Southeast Asia; and in those feudal lands, like the Philippines and Indonesia. There, people are conditioned to be slaves of the elites, while children are raised and immediately broken, ‘educated’, as slaves of their parents!

I went to talk to the people near the posters. Yudhana Chauburi and Somkiat Korbkij, were the nearest to the sign.

“What is Communism?” I asked.

Nobody seemed to know.

I asked again and again. I asked several people. Nothing!

Then a guard approached me: “We think that Communism is… one person who is controlling everything…”
“You mean… the monarch?”

He backed up, in horror.

They all looked the same – the desperados backed and financed by the so called ‘elites’. In Bangkok or Kiev, in Harare and Caracas.

Even the price for betraying one’s country – the going rate – appears to be the same, approximately US$10 per day.







Madness of Thai New Year celebration.








Great respect for the elected government.





Celebrating during Thai New Year.








Race track in Bangkok – for those who have.








Medical camp just in case.








New symbol of Thainess.

Andre Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His discussion with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism is now going to print. His critically acclaimed political novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and the market-fundamentalist model is called “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. He has just completed the feature documentary, “Rwanda Gambit” about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Who's Foolin' Who? Geman TV Report on Kiev Sniper Killings

German TV. 10.4.14. Who were the Maidan snipers? Ukraine.

by M

Broadcast on German television on the 10.4.2014 this investigative report presents evidence for their having been snipers from among the ranks of the opposition, shooting at their own people at Independence Square (Maidan) in Kiev.



With English subtitles.

Gangnam Gaza Style

Gangnam Gaza Style: On the Siege, Palestinian Prisoners, Palestinian Pride

by Eva Bartlett  - In Gaza

First published at Inter Press Services [blog version longer than published version] 
Parodying the South Korean video, ‘Gangnam Style,’ which topped charts in mid- 2012, soon after breaking records for most-watched Youtube video, Gaza’s version injects the sordid realities of Palestinians’ lives under Israeli military occupation and the years-long choking siege of the Strip.



“We wanted to do something to bring focus to the plight of Palestinian political prisoners, of which there are around 5,000 in Israeli jails, including hunger strikers, children, women,” says Mohannad Barakat, 30, one of seven Palestinians who made ‘Gangnam Gaza Style.’
“We wanted to tell the outside world about the impossible circumstances under which we live: that our airport has been destroyed, our fishers are prevented from accessing their sea, that half our population is out of work, that we use tunnels instead of border crossings and donkeys because fuel is scarce.”

The Gazan rendition of the Korean dance video highlights some of Gaza’s most urgent problems under siege, including daily power outages, fuel shortages, lack of freedom of movement, and unemployment. Dressed in black, heads wrapped with the traditional black and white Kuffiyehs (scarves), five men and two children dance a fusion of ‘Gangnam style’ and Dabke, the energetic dance found in many Arab countries.

“In our video, as we show how the siege and Israeli occupation impact on our lives, we hold our hands crossed in front of us, symbolizing Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails,” says Barakat.

The four and a half minute video moves from Gaza’s coast, polluted with the untreatable sewage pumped into the sea at the rate of 90 million litres per day, to gas-less filling stations, to the tunnels which serve as border crossings and bring Israeli-banned construction materials into Strip, long devastated by Israeli-bombing.

The theatrical bomb explosion in the original Gangnam Style video also more appropriately appears in the Gazan version: with two major Israeli offensives on the Strip in the last four years, and numerous other Israeli attacks before and in between, Gaza’s Palestinians are all too familiar with bombings.

Wassim abu Shabaan, 10, one of the two children in the clip is one of thousands of Palestinians in Gaza whose homes have been destroyed by Israeli bombing and bulldozing.

“The whole house was destroyed, everything was destroyed…our computer, my room, our clothes, everything,” says the boy of the 2009 Israeli bombing of his home.

“Palestinian children can recognize the difference between an F-15 and an F-16 warplane, and the difference between drones armed with missiles and surveillance drones, just by their sound,” says Mohannad Barakat.

“We put children in our video so that people will understand that they are exposed to all the difficulties and dangers of life here in Gaza.”

“Our children have nowhere to play.” They play in streets, camp alleys…the few parks that there are are in disrepair or were damaged by Israeli bombings, as with Barcelona park in Tel el Howa, destroyed by Israeli bulldozers in the 2008-2009 war on Gaza.

In the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks on Gaza, Israeli warplanes bombed Palestine stadium, one of Gaza’s few venues for sports and a place where disabled athletes trained.


Gangnam Gaza depicts this destruction, the five men and two children 
entering the stadium with soccer balls in hand to find it in ruins.


The Gaza Community Mental Health Programme found in 2009 that over 91 percent of children in Gaza suffer from moderate to severe PTSD. Children make up roughly half the population of Gaza’s 1.7 million people.

“A large percentage of children in Gaza, even those in their teens, have anxiety and PTSD, wet themselves, have nightmares and wake screaming…Since the Israeli bombing often occurs during the night, many children associate darkness (and power cuts) with danger and the fear of being bombed says Mohannad Barakat.

“All of us are affected by the siege and the various Israeli wars on Gaza. We all have psychological problems from living under these circumstances. We hadn’t recovered from the 2009 Israeli war on Gaza when the 2012 attacks occurred.”

Gaza’s infrastructure had likewise not recovered from the attacks and the siege, with hospitals reporting consistent shortages of essential medicines and medical supplies, and Gaza’s schools severely overcrowded, the vast majority of whom run double, even triple, shifts to accommodate all of the students.

Since 2006, when Israel bombed Gaza’s sole power plant, the entire Strip has been under daily rolling power outages, ranging from 18 and 20 hour outages in the worst years to the current 8 hours on, 8 hours off scheduled outages.

“It’s the 21st century but Gaza still has almost no electricity,” says Barakat. “The use of candles and generators indoors during power outages has caused a number of fires and carbon monoxide poisoning deaths in recent years.”

The Strip is currently enduring another crisis of cooking gas shortages, particularly hard during winter months when hot meals and beverages help make up for the lack of heating in the typically-uninsulated homes.

The problem of sewage treatment has yet to be solved, for want of building materials to expand Gaza’s outdated sanitation facilities. The combination of power outages and little clean water to begin with contributes to a general water crisis, with 95 percent of Gaza’s water undrinkable by WHO standards.

A 2012 United Nations report entitled “Gaza in 2020: a Liveable Place?” predicts that Gaza’s sole aquifer, already over-tapped and under-replenished will fail by 2016.

The WHO reports that at least 81 patients have died due to delayed medical referrals since 2008 alone. In 2012, Palestinian authorities reported over 400 kidney patients were at risk due to lack of essential dialysis equipment shortages.

In June, 2012, Medical Aid for Palestinians (MAP-UK) reported that “prior to the military offensive, zero-stock levels of 40% of essential drugs and 65% of medical supplies were a major concern – and currently remain so. Shortages include lifesaving drugs, such as those needed to treat cancer and cardiovascular disease, as well as psychotherapeutics and kidney dialysis products.”

MAP-UK also reported that 10 percent of children under 5 years old suffer chronic malnutrition, while anaemia is rampant among pregnant women.

Since 2007, the Israeli army had killed 2,300 Palestinians, according to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs’ June, 2012 report. Tens of these deaths, and hundreds of the 7,700 injuries the UN reported before the Nov 2012 Israeli attacks, have occurred in Gaza’s border regions and on the sea, where fishers and farmers alike are targeted by the Israeli army as they work.

The Israeli-imposed “buffer zone” cuts Gazan Palestinians off from 35 percent of their agricultural land, impacting on their economy and local food sources.

Produce once exported to the rest of Palestine and to European markets, along with textiles and furniture, have not been exported since 2006, save an insignificant amount. The same June 2012 UN report notes that Gazan exports “have dropped to less than 3 percent of 2006 levels.”

Legal and human rights group, Al Haq, notes that “the closure also imposes severe restrictions on workers and students. Before 2000, over half a million workers exited Erez every month, and until 2006, 900 left Gaza daily. Israel revoked the workers’ permits and now only allows severely limited travel to the West Bank. …Since the closure, students from Gaza are forbidden by military order to obtain a permit to study in a university in the West Bank.”

Some of Gaza’s most desperately poor work in the hundreds of tunnels running to Egypt. As of June 2012, the UN noted that “at least 172 Palestinian civilians have been killed while working in tunnels,” since 2007.

Although most of the young men in ‘Gangnam Gaza Style’ have studied or are currently studying in post-secondary education, nearly all are unemployed. “Unemployment is higher than most people know in Gaza, it’s at least 60 percent of the working age population,” says Barakat.

Although only five men show in the video, the Gazan team comprises seven: Mohannad Barakat, 30; Walid Abu Shabaan, 26; Walid Afghani, 25; Mohammed Abu Shabaan, 24; Adham al Najjar, 29; Ahmed Aqleem, 20; Mohammed Barakat, 29.

“An Israeli commented on our video that Gaza has new cars, nice houses, wealthy people…that we weren’t showing the reality of Gaza. In fact, the reality is worse than what we showed,” Barakat says.

“The problem of unemployment hasn’t been solved, nor of power cuts, political prisoners, the border crossing… Which siege has been lifted? Even now the Rafah border isn’t completely open. There are many people who cannot cross the border, they aren’t allowed. My passport has twice been rejected at the Egyptian border, so have my friends’ passports. There’s no regulation at the border, it’s however the Egyptians want. Not everyone can pay $200 bribe to the Egyptian border authorities in order to cross.”

In a Sept 2012 Op-Ed to the Guardian, Robert Turner, Gaza Director of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, wrote:

“Allow the people of Gaza to enjoy the standards of development and economic prosperity for which they yearn. They are capable of self-sufficiency. Let us address the root causes of this looming disaster rather than expecting the international community to foot the bill to mitigate their disastrous consequences.”

Earlier, in June 2012, Valerie Amos, Under-Secretary-General for Humanitarian Affairs and Emergency Relief Coordinator, said: “this amounts to a collective punishment of all those living in Gaza and is a denial of basic human rights in contravention of international law.”

Filmed over a two week period, using a cell phone camera, Gangnam Style Gaza clip cost roughly $100 to make. “For taxis and phone cards mostly,” says Barakat.

Jew Registry Flyer Forgery: Donetsk's Workers' Revolt is Against IMF/World Bank Austerity

Flyers Telling Jews To Register Are Not From the Donetsk People's Republic - Moscow Does Not Negotiate For the Donetsk People's Republic

by Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency - Boston IndyMedia

On Thursday the Russian Federation, U.S., EU, and the U.S. imposed coup government of Kiev agreed on terms for the surrender of the anti-coup uprising in eastern Ukraine. The agreement between these powers demands the workers of eastern Ukraine to lay down their arms and abandon seized buildings. Supposedly representing the working class of eastern Ukraine was the Russian capitalist state, with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov speaking for Russia.

Denis Pushilin, head of the Donetsk People's Republic, responded to this absurdity saying, "Lavrov did not sign anything for us, he signed on behalf of the Russian Federation."

Despite the lies in the corporate media of Russian intervention, fact is, what is happening in eastern Ukraine is a working class uprising against the pro-IMF and chauvinistic coup that overthrew the elected government of Ukraine in February. This working class uprising in eastern Ukraine has seized at least 10 cities. It has also won soldiers to their side that were sent to crush the uprising. Despite western hopes, it is also not surrendering, despite what Moscow says.

In addition, reports in the western corporate media that the Donetsk People's Republic is telling Jews to register as Jews with the People's Republic authorities are false. A flyer was distributed, but it did not come from any official body of the revolutionary government. The leadership of the Donetsk People's Republic deny any connection to the flyer, despite the flyer claiming to be from it. People's Republic leader Denis Pushilin's name and forged signature is on the flyer, but he denies all connection with the forgery.

Of the forged flyer, the rabbi of nearby Dnipropetrovsk, Shmuel Kaminezki, says, "It's important for everyone to know its not true."

The masked men who circulated this forgery were obviously supporters of the neo-Nazi infested government in Kiev, passing out a forged document in an attempt to discredit the anti-fascist uprising in eastern Ukraine.

The fact that this forgery is being circulated as a legitimate anti-Semitic attack by the Donetsk People's Republic in the western corporate media should come as no surprise. They are lying about everything that happens in Ukraine in order to justify the Kiev government's war on its own people and to justify a potential war by NATO in Ukraine that could turn into a regional conflagration.

We should remember the kinds of propaganda always spewed by the corporate media in times like these, lie after lie like "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq, babies supposedly taken out of baby incubators to die in Kuwait, the faked Gulf of Tonkin Incident in the U.S. War on Vietnam, and chemical weapons supposedly used by the Syrian government, to name just a few lies spewed in the corporate media used to "justify" U.S. imperialist wars. This latest slander of the Donetsk People's Republic should be seen in that light.

Now that some mainstream news reports are starting to recognize this letter as a forgery, another lie is being sent out. Some reports are making it appear that this is a kind of a tit for tat in a situation where both sides in the conflict are falsely accusing each other of being neo-Nazis. Fact is, this uprising in eastern Ukraine is legitimately concerned that actual neo-Nazis have taken key posts in the new government that call for mass executions of Ukrainian Russians without trial as well as taking away their language rights and citizenship.

With the U.S. sponsored overthrow of the elected government of Ukraine, the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party has been given several key posts in the new coup government. Svoboda is a party that celebrates Ukrainian Nazi collaborator and brutal mass murderer Stepan Bandera. It also claims Jewish gangsters control the media and those Jews plan to carry out genocide against Christians. Svoboda’s top leader, Oleg Tyagnibok, is calling for criminal penalties for speaking in the Russian language and stripping all ethnic Russians of their Ukrainian citizenship, forcing them to become non-citizens in their own land.

Within the coup government Svoboda has been given the positions of Prime Minister for Economic Affairs (Oleksandr Sych), Education Minister (Serhiy Kvit), Ecology Minister (Andriy Makhnyk), Agriculture Minister (Ihor Shvaiko), and Prosecutor-General of Ukraine (Oleh Makhnitsky). Not all posts have been given to neo-Nazis. Two other rightwing capitalist parties that have no problem working closely with neo-Nazis, the Fatherland Party and UDAR, have been given the rest of posts in the coup government.

A cofounder of Svoboda, Andriy Parubiy, has also been given the portfolio of Secretary of National Security and Defense. Make no mistake, this is a fascist given a position of command in an impending war that the capitalist state of Ukraine and its fascist thugs have begun to wage against the working class, leftists, women, Jews, and national minorities of Ukraine.

U.S., EU, NATO Hands Off Ukraine!


-Steven Argue of the Revolutionary Tendency

For more on Ukraine, Russia, and Belarus, check out my other articles:

Ukrainian Military Joins Revolt, Troops Vow to Defend Protesters
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/220189/index.php

For Ukraine's Self-Defense Militias!
For Crimea's Right To National Self Determination!
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/219919/index.php

Communist Party Wins Mayoral Election in Russia's 3rd Largest City
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/220100/index.php

Belarus: President Lukashenko Vows to Prevent a Coup Similar to Ukraine
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/219864/index.php

Imperialists Out of Ukraine! Stop Supporting Neo-Nazis! (An earlier article before the coup with in-depth analysis)
https://www.indybay.org/newsitems/2014/01/26/18749806.php

US & EU Imperialist Hands Off Crimea, Ukraine, Belarus, & Russia!
by Steven Argue
http://boston.indymedia.org/newswire/display/219851/index.php

NATO Sets the Record "Straight" on Russia/Ukraine

Dear NATO: Are You Lying About Russia or Simply Incompetent?

by Walter Uhler

On 14 April 2014 NATO issued a “fact sheet” titled, “Russia’s Accusations – setting the record straight.” In the course of setting the record straight, the NATO fact sheet made the following false assertion: “Russian officials claim that US and German officials promised in 1990 that NATO would not expand into Eastern and Central Europe, build military infrastructure near Russia’s borders or permanently deploy troops there.”

No such pledge was made, and no evidence to back up Russia’s claims has ever been produced.” (My emphasis.)

We know that this assertion by NATO is false, thanks to a 26 November 2009 article in Der Spiegel that claimed: 

“On Feb. 10, 1990, between 4 and 6:30 p.m., [German Foreign Minister Hans-Dietrich] Genscher spoke with [Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard] Shevardnadze. And, according to the German record of the conversation, which was only recently declassified, Genscher said:
‘We are aware that NATO membership for a unified Germany raises complicated questions. For us, however, one thing is certain: NATO will not expand to the east.’
And because the conversation revolved mainly around East Germany, Genscher added explicitly: 
‘As far as the non-expansion of NATO is concerned, this also applies in general.’”

Mr. Genscher’s assurance to Shevardnadze was similar to one made earlier to Soviet President Mikhail Gorbachev by U.S. Secretary of State James Baker. Mr. Gorbachev knows that such a pledge was made – and so does the former American ambassador to the Soviet Union, Jack Matlock.

Thus, this egregious error in the NATO fact sheet suggests either a lie or incompetent research. A deliberate lie seems more probable, given that the NATO fact sheet immediately thereafter used weasel words to deflect attention from the lie.

Here are the weasel words:

“Should such a promise have been made by NATO as such, it would have to have been as a formal, written decision by all NATO Allies. Furthermore, the consideration of enlarging NATO came years after German reunification. This issue was not yet on the agenda when Russia claims these promises were made.”

Really?

  • First, nobody accused NATO of making such a promise. 

  • Second, senior U.S. and German officials would have had every right to make such a promise without ever needing to place it on NATO’s agenda. The U.S. is sufficiently powerful to enforce such a promise unilaterally. 
  • Third, such attempts by the author(s) of the fact sheet to insert NATO into this discussion suggest that somebody has forgotten that NATO actually is subordinate to the political leaders of the member states – especially the President of the United States.

In addition, the author(s) of the fact sheet were less than scrupulous when presenting facts that supposedly refute Russia’s charge of illegitimate behavior by NATO in its Kosovo war in 1999 and the bombing of Libya in 2011.

In fact, an independent examination, titled “Short War, Long Shadow: The Political and Military Legacies of the 2011 Libya Campaign” (by the Royal United Services Institute), destroys the fact sheet with its sweeping condemnation, not only of the West’s (and NATO’s) conduct in Kosovo and Libya, but also in Bosnia in 1995 and Iraq in 2003.

In his chapter titled, “The Responsibility to Protect: A Chance Missed,” Jonathan Eyal concluded that:

“[T]hose who criticize NATO and Western governments for going beyond their [UN Security Council] mandate [in Libya] do have a point. NATO went to great lengths to minimize civilian casualties and, overall, succeeded admirably in this objective. NATO’s operation also save many lives, but an operation which was justified in purely humanitarian terms was ultimately stretched to achieving an eminently political objective: the removal of a government and its replacement by the rebels.”

One of America’s most respected Russia scholars, Stephen Cohen, claims that President Obama deceived Russia’s Vladimir Putin about the nature of the intended operation in Libya, which is why Putin refuses to trust him today. Putin admitted as much on 17 April 2014. (Clearly, Obama knows very little about Russia.) But, regardless of the source of the deception, had Russia not been deceived, it certainly would have vetoed UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

Mr. Eyal adds, “Probably the most evident departure from the spirit of Resolution 1973—was the decision of the Western powers to allow the supply of weapons and training to the Libyan rebels.”

But Mr. Eyal makes a more compelling point, one that blows parts of the NATO fact sheet out the water.

“All of the errors [in the Libya campaign] outlined above would not have been major, had they been perpetrated in isolation, or had they been confined to the Libya episode alone. Unfortunately, however, the handling of the legal framework for the Libya operation mirrors Western behavior in previous interventions, from the Bosnia operation in 1995, to the Kosovo war in 1999 and the invasion of Iraq in 2003. In every one of these occasions:

– A handful of Western governments used a UN Security Council resolution that lacked full backing, supposedly on behalf of the ‘international community’

– In every single case, the aim was to persuade Russia to abstain, rather than veto the resolution, on the calculation that, once this was accomplished, China would be too embarrassed to be in a minority of one to torpedo the same resolution

– At every stage, this was accomplished by fudging the real extent of the operation being contemplated

– The scope of the operation then grew and was invariably translated into ‘regime change’

– Weapons were provided to local combatants, in violation of existing provisions

– Resolutions were reinterpreted unilaterally, to suit whatever purposes were required

– And, in every single case, once a resolution passed in the UN, Western governments precluded any further debate over its interpretation and application.”

In a word, broken promises to Russia by the West and NATO have been compounded repeatedly by insincerity, duplicity and dishonesty. And, yet, the ignoramuses who pollute American politics, the media, and our think tanks heap scorn on Russia, as if none of this has occurred.

But, notwithstanding all of the above, the most dishonest section of the fact sheet is the part that defends the so-called legitimacy of the provisional government in Kiev. Although the fact sheet contains a few weasel words about a legitimate Ukrainian parliament legitimately electing a new president and government, it remains inexcusably silent about the events leading up to that action.

The fact sheet doesn’t mention that President Viktor Yanukovych was legally elected to a five-year term in 2010. It doesn’t mention that, on the very day that the famously corrupt Yanukovych decided to scrap plans to sign an Association Agreement with the European Union, Hromadske.TV commenced live broadcasts that featured a pro-American reporter calling for students and youth to gather at Independence Square to protest Yanukovych’s decision.

The fact sheet doesn’t mention that Hromadske.TV was the brainchild of America’s Ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, and that it “would prove essential to building the Euromaidan street demonstrations against Yanukovych.” (“Meet the Americans Who Put Together the Coup in Kiev,” by Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News, 25 March 14)

Neither did the fact sheet mention, as did Russia scholar John Quigley, that “Victoria Nuland, who serves as U.S. deputy secretary of state for European affairs, stepped over a line usually observed by foreign powers when she went into the streets of Kiev in December. There, Nuland demonstratively aligned herself with the protesters and in favor of Ukraine’s affiliation with the EU. According to a recently leaked audiotape of a conversation that she had with the U.S. ambassador to Kiev, Geoffrey Pyatt, Nuland also evidently has been strategizing on ways to alter the composition of the Ukraine government. Diplomats and foreign officials are accustomed to avoiding involvement in domestic politics. Diplomatic and consular personnel risk being declared persona non grata for such activity.”

According to Stephen Cohen, neo-con Nuland and Ambassador Pyatt were plotting the overthrow of Yanukovych’s government. And Professor Cohen made another important observation:

“One last point, also something that nobody in this country wants to talk about: The Western authorities, who bear some responsibility for what’s happened, and who therefore also have blood on their hands, are taking no responsibility. They’re uttering utterly banal statements, which, because of their vacuous nature, are encouraging and rationalizing the people in Ukraine who are throwing Molotov cocktails, now have weapons, are shooting at police. We wouldn’t permit that in any Western capital, no matter how righteous the cause, but it’s being condoned by the European Union and Washington as events unfold.”

The fact sheet says nothing about the violence perpetrated by right wing members of Svoboda and Pravy Sektor. But sociologist Volodymyr Ishchenko, a respected expert on civil disturbances in Ukraine, believes that the far right hijacked the protest.

(Jacob W. Kipp, a world-renowned expert on Russia’s military, recently reminded me that leaders from both organizations fought against Russians in both Chechen Wars.)

The fact sheet says nothing about the sniper fire on 20 February, which commenced while Yanukovych was meeting with the opposition and EU mediators from France, Germany and Poland. Although many observers initially assumed that the snipers were Yanukovych’s men, witnesses have testified that much of the sniper fire came from Kiev’s Philharmonic Hall and the heavily guarded Hotel Ukraine. Both were under the control of the protesters that day. In fact, protesters had seized an Interior Ministry armory in Lviv the previous evening and transported those weapons to Kiev.

The fact sheet says nothing about:

“the European Union-mediated deal reached on Friday, [21 February 2014] in which opposition leaders Vitaly Klitschko, Arseny Yatsenyuk and Oleh Tyahnybok and President Viktor Yanukovych agreed to refrain from using violence, while anti-government protesters had to unblock roads and squares, hand over illegal weapons and vacate the public buildings they had been occupying for months.”

“In return for the protesters backing down, presidential elections were set to be held in December and reforms were to be made restricting Yanukovych’s powers.”

“Those terms were not enough for some protesters, however, who demanded that Yanukovych step down immediately. By Saturday, law enforcement and government officials had apparently fled and protesters seized not only government buildings, but also Yanukovych’s lavish residence.” (Moscow Times, February 24, 2014, “Russia: Don’t Trust Ukraine’s Opposition,” by Natalya Krainova)

Thus, neither the EU mediators nor the opposition leaders had the courage to rein in the fascist and neo-Nazis who rejected the deal and precipitated a coup. And neither the EU mediators nor the opposition leaders had the decency to insist that the agreement reached on February 21st be honored.

Such is the “legitimate” regime that the NATO fact sheet defends with its incompetent half-truths and lies.

Thursday, April 17, 2014

Lap Dancers and Deep Water at Four


Lap Dancers, the CIA, Pay-offs, and BP’s Deepwater Horizon

by Greg Palast for TruthDig

There was CIA involvement through a company called Mega Oil. They were shipping in arms under the cover of oil tools. The BP executive was explaining to me how the CIA, MI6 and British Petroleum engineered a coup d'état, overthrowing an elected president of a nation who was “not favorable to BP.”



The corporation's former Vice-President, Leslie Abrahams, is pictured here, holding an AK-47 in front of BP headquarters in Baku, Azerbaijan. Like most of the other BP executives I spoke with, he proudly added that while he was working for BP, he was also an operative for MI6, British intelligence.

The conversation was far from the weirdest I had in my four-continent investigation of the real story of the Deepwater Horizon.

The BP oilrig blew out on April 20, 2010, four years ago this Sunday.

Earlier this month, the Obama Administration officially OK'd BP's right to resume drilling in the Gulf of Mexico. And two weeks ago, just to assure the company that all is forgiven, the U.S. Department of the Interior gave BP a new contract to drill in the Gulf of Mexico–right next to where the Deepwater Horizon went down. At the same time, the forgive-and-forget U.S. Justice Department has put the trial of David Rainey, the only BP big-shot charged with a felony crime in the disaster, on indefinite hold.

The Deepwater Horizon blow-out incinerated eleven men on the rig and poisoned 600 miles of Gulf coastline. What political fairy dust does BP keep in its pocket to receive virtual immunity from the consequences?

To understand what really happened in the Gulf of Mexico, and how BP became a corporate creature beyond the reach of the law, British television network Channel 4 sent me on a four-continent investigation through a labyrinthine funhouse of bribery, lap-dancing, beatings, Wikileaks, a coup d'état, arrests and oil-state terror.

I found the cause of the tragedy of the Deepwater Horizon seven thousand miles from the Gulf in the ancient city of Baku, the Central Asian caravan stop on the Silk Road.

For the interview with agent Abrahams and the full story of the Deepwater Horizon, see, Vultures and Vote Rustlers, the documentary which will be available as a download without charge for the next two days courtesy of the not-for-profit Palast Investigative Fund.

The literal source of Soviet power until 1991, Baku has been exporting petroleum for 3,000 years. As the Soviet Union shattered into pieces that year, BP set its sights on the city. It is now the capital of the new nation of Azerbaijan, which sits atop the biggest untapped oil field in the world, right beneath the Caspian Sea.

A coup for BP


BP Chairman Lord Browne flew into Baku as soon as the young state elected its first president. Former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher joined him via the “Iron Lady,” a plane the corporation outfitted especially for her. At a state dinner, Browne handed BP Vice-President Abrahams a briefcase and showed him the contents: a check for $30 million. Browne then gave the check to the president of Azerbaijan.

Still, the new president remained “not favorable” to BP's demand for control of the Caspian oil, so MI6, the CIA and the corporation went into action. The spy agencies armed and empowered the former Soviet KGB chief Heydar Aliyev, who in 1993 overthrew Azerbaijan's elected government. Once he became dictator, Aliyev named himself president for life and within four months signed a no-bid deal to give the reserves to BP.

BP and MI6 man Abrahams was instructed, he told me, to “smooth the way” for the deal by taking Azeri officials to London in Lord Browne's jet for weekends of lap-dancing and other entertainment. By Abraham's own estimation, he paid over $3 million in additional cash bribes to make certain BP would have no trouble.

I should note that Abrahams broke no law: bribery by a British subject was legal then. BP did not deny the pay-offs when I questioned them directly, and MI6 officers proudly confirmed the coup d'état's purpose of locking in the offshore deal for BP.

Quick-dry, quick-kill cement


What does this have to do with the blow out of the Deepwater Horizon?

This: It is now well established that the disaster occurred when the cement used to cap the well failed, allowing explosive methane gas to fill the rig and transform it into a sinking fire ball.

But this was not BP's first cement failure and explosion. Just 17 months earlier, BP's Caspian Sea Transocean rig suffered exactly the same fate.

The cause of the two blow-outs was identical. In the Caspian as in the Gulf, BP laced its cement with nitrogen gas. The nitrogen bubbles sped up the drying of the mixture, saving BP half a million dollars a day on rig rental charges. But in offshore high-pressure zones, nitrogen-spiked cement can fail. And it did. Twice.

Question: Why in the world was BP allowed to use this insanely dangerous “quick-dry” cement just after a failure in the Caspian? Answer: A cover-up–via threats, beatings, arrests, bribery, perjury and the complicity of the U.S. State Department.

I only learned of the prior blow-out because of a coded message from the Caspian Sea received from one very nervous eye witness. To get the evidence, I flew to Baku and headed across the road-less desert to find more witnesses.



But we had been ratted out. My crew was placed under arrest by Azerbaijan's secret police. While they demanded our film, I was allowed to keep my pen, which was actually a hidden camera. (I've learned a few things from Maxwell Smart.)

How do you keep a monstrous blow-out from going public? As one of the arresting cops told us with odd pride, “BP drives this country.” It drives it with cash. Robert Ebel, former chief of oil analysis for the CIA, estimates that at least $140 million of payments by BP for Azeri oil has gone unaccounted for. Where did it go? Notably, the Aliyev ruling family lives like pashas despite the president's official salary of $100 a month.

Oil worker advocate Mirvari Gahramanli said she was beaten by police for raising questions. In case I doubted it, she showed me photographs of a dozen cops slamming her with long clubs.

What's worse, while I was tossed out of the country (it would have looked bad to throw a TV reporter into a dungeon), my witnesses disappeared.

Wikileaks and oily lies


Just five months before the Deepwater Horizon spill, BP Vice-President for Gulf Exploration David Rainey testified before the U.S. Congress that the company had drilled offshore “for the last 50 years in a manner both safe and protective of the environment.”

BP's testimony was a lie. The Caspian rig blew out a year earlier.

But the lie was good enough for Congress. Based on Rainey's assurances, legislators pressured the Department of the Interior to drop objections to plans for drilling in the Gulf's deep waters.

Withholding information from Congress is a felony crime. But Rainey has one heck of a defense: the U.S. State Department was in on the cover-up.

Deep in the pile of confidential State Department cables released by one courageous U.S. soldier, Pvt. Bradley (now Chelsea) Manning, we have the notes from a secret meeting between the U.S. Ambassador to Azerbaijan, Anna Dearse, and the chief of BP's Caspian operation.

The hugger-mugger was demanded by BP's American partners, Chevron and Exxon. The U.S. oil companies had complained to the State Department that they were no longer getting their piece of the Caspian loot and BP wouldn't tell them why. (You'll remember that Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was a member of Chevron's board of executives.)

In the memo, which you can see in our film, Vultures and Vote Rustlers, the U.S. Ambassador provides the details of the blow-out of the bad cement on the BP rig.

The State Department kept schtum, not even warning U.S. safety regulators. And Exxon and Chevron's chiefs joined BP's Rainey in the mendacious sales pitch to Congress, testifying, despite their knowledge, that their offshore drilling methods were safe as a game of checkers.

Justice is not always abused: David Rainey was indicted for felonious obstruction of Congress. However, the charge centers on a relatively minor falsehood: his alleged understatement of the amount of oil bursting into the Gulf. Neither Rainey nor BP will be tried for the deadlier lie to Congress -- the prior blow-out caused by the penny-pinching quick-dry cement -- because the U.S. government is itself complicit in the cover-up.

Blow-backs and blow-outs



And that's why we are seeing the red carpet rolled out for BP in the Gulf once more.

When the U.S. government participates in the corruption of other democracies, when it authorizes bribery and ignores police-state tactics to benefit from business deals, the sins of empire can come back to haunt the nation. In the CIA's world this is called “blow-back.” What was covered up in Baku has killed Americans in the Gulf, and it will likely continue to kill.

And bribery does not simply stay “over there.” American officials are not as different from the Baku bandits as they may like to believe. The agency in charge of regulating BP's drilling in the Gulf, the U.S. Minerals Mining Service, was rife with watchdogs who, like their Azeri counterparts, took backhanders and pay-outs from BP. And when I say BP was in bed with the regulators, that is not a metaphor: a BP lobbyist was sleeping with a chief of the agency.

Don't bother sending David Rainey a file in a cake: the BP man won't get two minutes of jail time. His trial has been suspended indefinitely.

Immunity from law is not new to BP. As I reported two weeks ago, BP was the main culprit in the disaster caused by the Exxon Valdez grounding. The company walked away without paying a dime to the victims. In the case of the Deepwater Horizon, a few tenacious attorneys have ensured the corporation pays some compensation in the Gulf. But that money comes nowhere close to the damage it caused and will do nothing to harm the company's bottom line.

The oil is still there

Today BP has declared Gulf waters clean, as if Mother Nature were just a toilet you can poop in and flush. But I've been to the Gulf shores. Dig down ten inches in the shoals off Gulfport and you'll hit Deepwater Horizon crude. Biologist Rick Steiner tells me BP's poisonous sludge will remain just under the surface for another 40 year. Hidden–just like BP's crimes.

* * * * * *

Greg Palast is the author of Vultures’ Picnic, inside his investigations from the Arctic to the Congo, hunting down rogue billionaires. Palast’s reports are seen on BBC-TV and Britain’s Channel 4.

Watch Palast’s report BP in Deep Water on Free Speech TV, this Sunday at 7pm & 9pm ET. Check out the trailer here.

Greg Palast is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Billionaires & Ballot Bandits, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy and Armed Madhouse.

HELP US FOLLOW THE MONEY. Visit the Palast Investigative Fund's store or simply make a tax-deductible contribution to keep our work alive!

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www.GregPalast.com

Montreal Demonstrates Against Provincial Austerity Scheme

Community and student groups hold a demonstration in Montreal against austerity

by CASA

Thursday, Comité d'action solidaire contre l'austerité - CASA held a demonstration to assert our collective rejection of neoliberal austerity economics.

In Quebec today the extreme austerity politics of the Parti Libéral du Québec (PLQ) are a serious threat. Since the recent election the Liberals have already indicated that serious “reform” to education and health care are pending, we understand very well that “reform” means the economic strangulation of these important public institutions.

As we clearly saw over nine years of the previous Liberal government, under the corrupt and corporate-driven leadership of Charest, the Liberals hold a vision for Quebec society that seeks to undercut many of the collective social gains of the Quiet Revolution.

After 18 months of a PQ government we are under no illusion that the PQ holds a different economic vision from the Liberals, one which prioritizes the profits of the corporate sectors while squeezing the economic well-being of the poor and working majority.

As always, these austerity attacks disproportionately affect women and immigrant workers, who are pushed towards precarious employment–this structural sexism and racism is every bit as vicious as the “charte xénophobe.” The need to build a feminist, anti-racist response to these attacks is urgent.

Attacks from the Harper government, meanwhile, are also unrelenting: the assault on Canada Post, on unemployment insurance, on workers’ pensions. We can simply not tolerate this federal government’s vision of an austerity economy built on the backs of the women and the poor, fuelled by polluting oil, and exploiting stolen indigenous resources.

Today we are taking the streets for not only the first anti-austerity demonstration in Montréal after the elections, but also an occasion to strengthen our long-term commitment to this fight for social and economic
justice. Also we aim to take the streets today to draw a clear connection in our fight against austerity in Quebec to the fight against austerity across Canada, with the hopes of contributing to a pan-Canadian movement to challenge the extreme economic violence of the Conservatives.


-30-

For Immediate Release Thursday, April 17, 2013
What: Demonstration Against Austerity in Montreal
Where: Carré St-Louis Montreal. corner St. Denis / Rue Du Square-Saint-Louis
When: Thursday, April 17, 6pm
Contact : Stefan Christoff

Cutting the Carbon Crap: There's Time to Solve Climate Crisis - And It's Now


UN Panel: Renewables, Not Nukes, Can Solve Climate Crisis

by Harvey Wasserman - Solartopia

The authoritative Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has left zero doubt that we humans are wrecking our climate.

It also effectively says the problem can be solved, and that renewable energy is the way to do it, and that nuclear power is not.

The United Nations’ IPCC is the world’s most respected authority on climate.

This IPCC report was four years in the making. It embraces several hundred climate scientists and more than a thousand computerized scenarios of what might be happening to global weather patterns.

The panel’s work has definitively discredited the corporate contention that human-made carbon emissions are not affecting climate change. To avoid total catastrophe, says the IPCC, we must reduce the industrial spew of global warming gasses by 40-70 percent of 2010 levels.

Though the warning is dire, the report offers three pieces of good news.

  • First, we have about 15 years to slash these emissions.

  • Second, renewable technologies are available to do the job.

  • And third, the cost is manageable.

Though 2030 might seem a tight deadline for a definitive transition to Solartopia, green power technologies have become far simpler and quicker to install than their competitors, especially atomic reactors. They are also far cheaper, and we have the capital to do it.

The fossil fuel industry has long scorned the idea that its emissions are disrupting our Earth’s weather.

The oil companies and atomic reactor backers have dismissed the ability of renewables to provide humankind’s energy needs.

But the IPCC confirms that green technologies, including efficiency and conservation, can in fact handle the job---at a manageable price.

“It doesn’t cost the world to save the planet,” says Professor Ottmar Edenhofer, an economist who led the IPCC team.

The IPCC report cites nuclear power as a possible means of lowering industrial carbon emissions. But it also underscores considerable barriers involving finance and public opposition. Joined with widespread concerns about ecological impacts, length of implementation, production uncertainties and unsolved waste issues, the report’s positive emphasis on renewables virtually guarantees nuclear’s irrelevance.

Some climate scientists have recently advocated atomic energy as a solution to global warming. But their most prominent spokesman, Dr. James Hansen, also expresses serious doubts about the current generation of reactors, including Fukushima, which he calls “that old technology.”

Instead Hansen advocates a new generation of reactors.

But the designs are untested, with implementation schedules stretching out for decades. Financing is a major obstacle as is waste disposal and widespread public opposition, now certain to escalate with the IPCC’s confirmation that renewables can provide the power so much cheaper and faster.

With its 15-year deadline for massive carbon reductions the IPCC has effectively timed out any chance a new generation of reactors could help.

And with its clear endorsement of green power as a tangible, doable, affordable solution for the climate crisis, the pro-nuke case has clearly suffered a multiple meltdown.

With green power, says IPCC co-chair Jim Skea, a British professor, a renewable solution is at hand. “It’s actually affordable to do it and people are not going to have to sacrifice their aspirations about improved standards of living.”

Harvey Wasserman edits www.nukefree.org and wrote SOLARTOPIA! Our Green-Powered Earth.  

NATO Off the Rails

Nato's Action Plan in Ukraine is Right Out of Dr Strangelove


by John Pilger  - ICH

I watched Dr Strangelove the other day. I have seen it perhaps a dozen times; it makes sense of senseless news. When Major TJ "King" Kong goes "toe to toe with the Rooskies" and flies his rogue B52 nuclear bomber to a target in Russia, it's left to General "Buck" Turgidson to reassure the president. Strike first, says the general, and "you got no more than 10-20 million killed, tops".

President Merkin Muffley: "I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler." 
General Turgidson: "Perhaps it might be better, Mr President, if you were more concerned with the American people than with your image in the history books."

The genius of Stanley Kubrick's film is that it accurately represents the cold war's lunacy and dangers. Most of the characters are based on real people and real maniacs. There is no equivalent to Strangelove today because popular culture is directed almost entirely at our interior lives, as if identity is the moral zeitgeist and true satire is redundant, yet the dangers are the same.

The nuclear clock has remained at five minutes to midnight; the same false flags are hoisted above the same targets by the same "invisible government", as Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations, described modern propaganda.

In 1964, the year Dr Strangelove was made, "the missile gap" was the false flag. To build more and bigger nuclear weapons and pursue an undeclared policy of domination, President John F Kennedy approved the CIA's propaganda that the Soviet Union was well ahead of the US in the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This filled front pages as the "Russian threat". In fact, the Americans were so far ahead in production of the missiles, the Russians never approached them. The cold war was based largely on this lie.

From China to Ukraine, the US is pursuing its longstanding ambition to dominate the Eurasian landmass


Since the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US has ringed Russia with military bases, nuclear warplanes and missiles as part of its Nato enlargement project. Reneging on the Reagan administration's promise to the Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev in 1990 that Nato would not expand "one inch to the east", Nato has all but taken over eastern Europe. In the former Soviet Caucasus, Nato's military build-up is the most extensive since the second world war.

In February, the US mounted one of its proxy "colour" coups against the elected government of Ukraine; the shock troops were fascists. For the first time since 1945, a pro-Nazi, openly antisemitic party controls key areas of state power in a European capital.

No western European leader has condemned this revival of fascism on the border of Russia. Some 30 million Russians died in the invasion of their country by Hitler's Nazis, who were supported by the infamous Ukrainian Insurgent Army (the UPA) which was responsible for numerous Jewish and Polish massacres. The Organisation of Ukrainian Nationalists, of which the UPA was the military wing, inspires today's Svoboda party.

Since Washington's putsch in Kiev – and Moscow's inevitable response in Russian Crimea to protect its Black Sea fleet – the provocation and isolation of Russia have been inverted in the news to the "Russian threat". This is fossilised propaganda. The US air force general who runs Nato forces in Europe – General Philip Breedlove, no less – claimed more than two weeks ago to have pictures showing 40,000 Russian troops "massing" on the border with Ukraine. So did Colin Powell claim to have pictures proving there were weapons of mass destruction in Iraq. What is certain is that Barack Obama's rapacious, reckless coup in Ukraine has ignited a civil war and Vladimir Putin is being lured into a trap.


Following a 13-year rampage that began in stricken Afghanistan well after Osama bin Laden had fled, then destroyed Iraq beneath a false flag, invented a "nuclear rogue" in Iran, dispatched Libya to a Hobbesian anarchy and backed jihadists in Syria, the US finally has a new cold war to supplement its worldwide campaign of murder and terror by drone.


A Nato membership action plan – straight from the war room of Dr Strangelove – is General Breedlove's gift to the new dictatorship in Ukraine. "Rapid Trident" will put US troops on Ukraine's Russian border and "Sea Breeze" will put US warships within sight of Russian ports. At the same time, Nato war games in eastern Europe are designed to intimidate Russia. Imagine the response if this madness was reversed and happened on the US's borders. Cue General Turgidson.

And there is China. On 23 April, Obama will begin a tour of Asia to promote his "pivot" to China. The aim is to convince his "allies" in the region, principally Japan, to rearm and prepare for the possibility of war with China. By 2020, almost two-thirds of all US naval forces in the world will be transferred to the Asia-Pacific area. This is the greatest military concentration in that vast region since the second world war.

In an arc extending from Australia to Japan, China will face US missiles and nuclear-armed bombers. A strategic naval base is being built on the Korean island of Jeju, less than 400 miles from Shanghai and the industrial heartland of the only country whose economic power is likely to surpass that of the US. Obama's "pivot" is designed to undermine China's influence in its region. It is as if a world war has begun by other means.

This is not a Dr Strangelove fantasy. Obama's defence secretary, Charles "Chuck" Hagel, was in Beijing last week to deliver a warning that China, like Russia, could face isolation and war if it did not bow to US demands. He compared the annexation of Crimea to China's complex territorial dispute with Japan over uninhabited islands in the East China Sea.

"You cannot go around the world," said Hagel with a straight face, "and violate the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation." As for America's massive movement of naval forces and nuclear weapons to Asia, that is "a sign of the humanitarian assistance the US military can provide".

Obama is seeking a bigger budget for nuclear weapons than the historical peak during the cold war, the era of Dr Strangelove. The US is pursuing its longstanding ambition to dominate the Eurasian landmass, stretching from China to Europe: a "manifest destiny" made right by might.

Kitimat and the Coastal Tarsands Project

Coastal Tarsands Project: KITIMAT – Traditional Estuary or SuperTanker Port

by Richard Boyce

Filmed on the traditional territory of the Haisla First Nation, with permission from the Band Council, this is a first hand look at the lands and waters around Kitimat, BC., epicenter of the Enbridge Corporation’s plans to build a SuperTanker port connected by twin pipelines carved 1,170 km through both the Rocky Mountains and the formidable Coast Mountains in order to export Alberta Tarsands Bitumen to China.



Saturday April 12, 2014 residents of Kitimat rejected Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline Project in a local referendum. Find out why!

Each of these ‘mini-docs’ will be self-contained, unique, and focus on a particular aspect of the journey that the filmmaker takes while exploring the central coast of British Columbia. These individual ‘mini-docs’ will lend themselves easily to sharing between friends, family, and acquaintances. All of these ‘mini-docs’ will be edited together into a final hour-long documentary for film festivals and television broadcast.

The primary goal for this independent media project is:

To be effective in educating the public about the coast where the Enbridge Corporation plans to bring hundreds of supertankers.

THE NEED FOR THIS MEDIA PRODUCTION

The Enbridge Corporation is spending $350 million on media campaigns, including promotional animation TV ads. Federal and Provincial governments are also spending millions of taxpayer dollars on advertising to promote the benefits of the both the Alberta Tarsands and the Enbridge Corporation’s Northern Gateway Pipeline.

‘Coastal Tarsands’ will examine the truth behind tankers navigating Canada’s west coast with a series of strategies that reflect today’s independent media. This unique project will use public support to provide a voice for the environment that will be most impacted by supertankers proposed by the Enbridge Corporation. You can help to make this project successful by spreading the word about this website and staying tuned to view more videos as they are posted.

FOCUS OF PRODUCTION

First and foremost this project will document the very real coastal landscapes that exist where supertankers will navigate if the Enbridge Corporation gets its way. Each ‘mini-doc’ will focus on a different aspect of this very complex subject, with an emphasis upon bringing out the truth facing the coast of British Columbia. This unique media approach will allow for filming to take place over the course of a year highlighting coastal geography, ocean currents, surge tides, localized weather, diverse ecosystems, wildlife at risk, communities affected, and other specifics unique to this coastal wilderness. Most of these natural challenges to supertankers have never been revealed, therefore ‘Coastal Tarsands’ will provide the public with opportunities to see just how important information has been omitted by industry, government, and the mainstream media. Each ‘mini-doc’ will present a diverse perspective that will highlight the vast degree of fluctuation in natural conditions facing Tarsands Supertankers in these water. The oil industry is proposing to ship 500,000 barrels a day through the rugged mountains and central coast of BC. That equals 182 million barrels or 29 billion liters every year from Alberta’s Tarsands bound for China through British Columbia and the westcoast of Canada.

HOW YOU CAN HELP THIS MEDIA PROJECT SUCCEED!

This independent media project aims to spark conversations, spread first hand information, and inspire Canadians to action. Polls confirm that 80% of BC residents and 50% of Canadians are opposed to Enbridge’s Northern Gateway Pipeline. We all have the power to vote.

However the rest of the country will most likely decide the fate of Canada’s West Coast regarding a future oil spill. That is the reality of the voting numbers in this country. Those that have the least first hand experience, the least information, and the least to loose have the majority of the vote in Canada, and they don’t live on the west coast. The information gathered through this project is easily passed on to others, so if you know someone living anywhere in Canada please invite them to engage in this project and visit this website. Ask them to view the videos, check out the facts, and learn more than just what the Enbridge Corporation, and the governments of Canada, British Columbia, and Alberta are promoting with hundreds of millions of dollars worth of advertising. Coastal Tarsands is a grass roots initiative and success will depend on your participation. Please help spread this important information and help save the coast from oil spills.
SPREAD THE WORD NOT THE OIL

STEPS YOU CAN TAKE:
Raise public awareness by spreading and sharing information
Forward this link to your friends, family, colleagues
Encourage your nieghbours to spread the word but also people living outside of British Columbia since they form the majority of Canadians and therefore can sway the Federal vote
Post a link on your own website
Like Us or Join our Group on FACEBOOK
Take the pledge and join COASTAL TARSANDS CAUSE
Encouraging people to donate towards this media project
Write your MP, MLA, Premier, Prime MInister
VOTE with the coast in mind

‘Coastal Tarsands’ needs your support

For details please click menu heading

‘Get Involved’

“A small group of thoughtful people could change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

- Margaret Mead

POWERFUL MANDATE

Today 80% of BC residents and 50% of Canadians are opposed to the Enbridge Corporation’s Northern Gateway Pipeline Project. Now its time to make the rest of Canada understand just how destructive these Supertankers will be to the Pacific coast of Canada.



2012 RALLY AGAINST TANKERS BRITISH COLUMBIA LEGISLATIVE
BUILDING Photo by Pete Rockwell

Bringing the Wars Home: Up Close and Personal - and Bloody


How America’s Wars Came Home With the Troops: Up Close, Personal, and Bloody

by Ann Jones  - TomDispatch

After an argument about a leave denied, Specialist Ivan Lopez pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and began a shooting spree at Fort Hood, America’s biggest stateside base, that left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded. When he did so, he also pulled America’s fading wars out of the closet. This time, a Fort Hood mass killing, the second in four and a half years, was committed by a man who was neither a religious nor a political “extremist.” He seems to have been merely one of America’s injured and troubled veterans who now number in the hundreds of thousands.

Some 2.6 million men and women have been dispatched, often repeatedly, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and according to a recent survey of veterans of those wars conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-third say that their mental health is worse than it was before they left, and nearly half say the same of their physical condition. Almost half say they give way to sudden outbursts of anger. Only 12% of the surveyed veterans claim they are now “better” mentally or physically than they were before they went to war.

The media coverage that followed Lopez’s rampage was, of course, 24/7 and there was much discussion of PTSD, the all-purpose (if little understood) label now used to explain just about anything unpleasant that happens to or is caused by current or former military men and women. Amid the barrage of coverage, however, something was missing: evidence that has been in plain sight for years of how the violence of America’s distant wars comes back to haunt the "homeland” as the troops return. In that context, Lopez’s killings, while on a scale not often matched, are one more marker on a bloody trail of death that leads from Iraq and Afghanistan into the American heartland, to bases and backyards nationwide. It’s a story with a body count that should not be ignored.

Tomgram: Ann Jones, Star-Spangled Baggage

In 2007, a new phenomenon reared its ugly head in Afghanistan. With two attacks that year and two more the next, it was first dubbed “green-on-blue violence,” and later the simpler, blunter “insider attack.” At one level, it couldn’t have been more straightforward. Afghan soldiers or policemen (or in a small number of cases Taliban infiltrators) would suddenly turn their weapons on their American or NATO mentors or allies and gun them down. Think of these “incidents” as early votes in the Afghan elections -- not, as Lenin might once have had it, with their feet, but with their guns after spending time up close and personal with Americans or other Westerners. It was a phenomenon that only intensified, reaching its height in 2012 with 46 attacks that killed 60 allied soldiers before slowly dying down as American combat troops began to leave the country and far stricter controls were put in place on relations between Afghan, U.S., and allied forces in the field.

It has not, however, died out. Not quite. Not yet. In a uniquely grim version of an insider attack just two weeks ago, an Afghan police commander turned his gun on two western journalists, killing Pulitzer Prize-winning news photographer Anja Niedringhaus and wounding AP reporter Kathy Gannon. And even more recently, just after it was reported that a month had passed without an American death in a war zone for the first time since 2002, Army Specialist Ivan Lopez killed three fellow soldiers in an insider attack at Fort Hood, Texas.

With its hint of blowback, this is not, of course, a comparison anyone in the mainstream American media is likely to make. On the whole, we prefer not to think of our wars coming home. In reality, however, Lopez’s eight-minute shooting rampage with a pistol purchased at a local gun shop fits the definition of an “insider attack” quite well, as did the earlier Fort Hood massacre by an Army psychiatrist. Think of it as an unhinged form of American war coming home, and as a kind of blowback unique to our moment.

After all, name me another wartime period when, for whatever reason, two U.S. soldiers shot up the same base at different times, killing and wounding dozens of their fellow troops. There was, of course, the “fragging” of officers in Vietnam, but this is a new phenomenon, undoubtedly reflective of the disturbing path the U.S. has cut in the world, post-9/11. Thrown into the mix is a homegrown American culture of massacre and the lifting of barriers to the easy purchase of ever more effective weaponry. (If, in fact, you think about it for a moment, most of the mass killings in this country, generally by young men, whether in schools, movie theaters, shipyards, or elsewhere, are themselves a civilian version of “insider attacks.”)

Ironically, in 2011, the Obama administration launched a massive Insider Threat Program to train millions of government employees and contractors to look for signs in fellow workers of the urge to launch insider attacks. Unfortunately, the only kind of insider attacks administration officials could imagine were those attributed to whistleblowers and leakers. (Think: Chelsea Manning and Edward Snowden.) So, despite much official talk about dealing with the mental health of military men, women, and veterans, the military itself remains open to yet more insider attacks. After almost 13 years of failed wars in distant lands, think of us as living in Ameraqafghanica.

Today, TomDispatch regular Ann Jones, whose odyssey of a book, They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story, captures the truly painful cost of these wars for America’s soldiers like no other, points out just what every commentator in this country has avoided writing about and every government and military official up to the president has avoided talking about, despite the massive coverage of the Fort Hood killings. Tom

How America’s Wars Came Home With the Troops: Up Close, Personal, and Bloody

by Ann Jones



War Comes Home


During the last 12 years, many veterans who had grown “worse” while at war could be found on and around bases here at home, waiting to be deployed again, and sometimes doing serious damage to themselves and others. The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has campaigned for years for a soldier’s “right to heal” between deployments. Next month it will release its own report on a common practice at Fort Hood of sending damaged and heavily medicated soldiers back to combat zones against both doctors’ orders and official base regulations. Such soldiers can’t be expected to survive in great shape.

Immediately after the Lopez rampage, President Obama spoke of those soldiers who have served multiple tours in the wars and “need to feel safe” on their home base. But what the president called “that sense of safety... broken once again” at Fort Hood has, in fact, already been shattered again and again on bases and in towns across post-9/11 America -- ever since misused, misled, and mistreated soldiers began bringing war home with them.

Since 2002, soldiers and veterans have been committing murder individually and in groups, killing wives, girlfriends, children, fellow soldiers, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, and -- in appalling numbers -- themselves. Most of these killings haven’t been on a mass scale, but they add up, even if no one is doing the math. To date, they have never been fully counted.

The first veterans of the war in Afghanistan returned to Fort Bragg, North Carolina, in 2002. In quick succession, four of them murdered their wives, after which three of the killers took their own lives. When a New York Times reporter asked a Special Forces officer to comment on these events, he replied: “S.F.’s don’t like to talk about emotional stuff. We are Type A people who just blow things like that off, like yesterday’s news.”

Indeed, much of the media and much of the country has done just that. While individual murders committed by “our nation’s heroes” on the “home front” have been reported by media close to the scene, most such killings never make the national news, and many become invisible even locally when reported only as routine murders with no mention of the apparently insignificant fact that the killer was a veteran. Only when these crimes cluster around a military base do diligent local reporters seem to put the pieces of the bigger picture together.

By 2005, Fort Bragg had already counted its tenth such “domestic violence” fatality, while on the West coast, the Seattle Weekly had tallied the death toll among active-duty troops and veterans in western Washington state at seven homicides and three suicides. “Five wives, a girlfriend, and one child were slain; four other children lost one or both parents to death or imprisonment. Three servicemen committed suicide -- two of them after killing their wife or girlfriend. Four soldiers were sent to prison. One awaited trial.”

In January 2008, the New York Times tried for the first time to tally a nationwide count of such crimes. It found “121 cases in which veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan committed a killing in this country, or were charged with one, after their return from war.” It listed headlines drawn from smaller local newspapers: Lakewood, Washington, “Family Blames Iraq After Son Kills Wife”; Pierre, South Dakota, “Soldier Charged With Murder Testifies About Postwar Stress”; Colorado Springs, Colorado, “Iraq War Vets Suspected in Two Slayings, Crime Ring.”

The Times found that about a third of the murder victims were wives, girlfriends, children, or other relatives of the killer, but significantly, a quarter of the victims were fellow soldiers. The rest were acquaintances or strangers. At that time, three quarters of the homicidal soldiers were still in the military. The number of killings then represented a nearly 90% increase in homicides committed by active duty personnel and veterans in the six years since the invasion of Afghanistan in 2001. Yet after tracing this “cross-country trail of death and heartbreak,” the Times noted that its research had probably uncovered only “the minimum number of such cases.” One month later, it found “more than 150 cases of fatal domestic violence or [fatal] child abuse in the United States involving service members and new veterans.”

More cases were already on the way. After the Fourth Brigade Combat team of Fort Carson, Colorado, returned from Iraq later in 2008, nine of its members were charged with homicide, while “charges of domestic violence, rape, and sexual assault” at the base rose sharply. Three of the murder victims were wives or girlfriends; four were fellow soldiers (all men); and two were strangers, chosen at random.

Back at Fort Bragg and the nearby Marine base at Camp Lejeune, military men murdered four military women in a nine-month span between December 2007 and September 2008. By that time, retired Army Colonel Ann Wright had identified at least 15 highly suspicious deaths of women soldiers in the war zones that had been officially termed “non-combat related” or “suicide.” She raised a question that has never been answered: “Is there an Army cover-up of rape and murder of women soldiers?” The murders that took place near (but not on) Fort Bragg and Camp Lejeune, all investigated and prosecuted by civilian authorities, raised another question: Were some soldiers bringing home not only the generic violence of war, but also specific crimes they had rehearsed abroad?

Stuck in Combat Mode


While this sort of post-combat-zone combat at home has rarely made it into the national news, the killings haven’t stopped. They have, in fact, continued, month by month, year after year, generally reported only by local media. Many of the murders suggest that the killers still felt as if they were on some kind of private mission in “enemy territory,” and that they themselves were men who had, in distant combat zones, gotten the hang of killing -- and the habit. For example, Benjamin Colton Barnes, a 24-year-old Army veteran, went to a party in Seattle in 2012 and got into a gunfight that left four people wounded. He then fled to Mount Rainier National Park where he shot and killed a park ranger (the mother of two small children) and fired on others before escaping into snow-covered mountains where he drowned in a stream.

Barnes, an Iraq veteran, had reportedly experienced a rough transition to stateside life, having been discharged from the Army in 2009 for misconduct after being arrested for drunk driving and carrying a weapon. (He also threatened his wife with a knife.) He was one of more than 20,000 troubled Army and Marine veterans the military discarded between 2008 and 2012 with “other-than-honorable” discharges and no benefits, health care, or help.

Faced with the expensive prospect of providing long-term care for these most fragile of veterans, the military chose instead to dump them. Barnes was booted out of Joint Base Lewis-McChord near Tacoma, Washington, which by 2010 had surpassed Fort Hood, Fort Bragg, and Fort Carson in violence and suicide to become the military’s “most troubled” home base.

Some homicidal soldiers work together, perhaps recreating at home that famous fraternal feeling of the military “band of brothers.” In 2012, in Laredo, Texas, federal agents posing as leaders of a Mexican drug cartel arrested Lieutenant Kevin Corley and Sergeant Samuel Walker -- both from Fort Carson’s notorious Fourth Brigade Combat team -- and two other soldiers in their private hit squad who had offered their services to kill members of rival cartels. “Wet work,” soldiers call it, and they’re trained to do it so well that real Mexican drug cartels have indeed been hiring ambitious vets from Fort Bliss, Texas, and probably other bases in the borderlands, to take out selected Mexican and American targets at $5,000 a pop.

Such soldiers seem never to get out of combat mode. Boston psychiatrist Jonathan Shay, well known for his work with troubled veterans of the Vietnam War, points out that the skills drilled into the combat soldier -- cunning, deceit, strength, quickness, stealth, a repertoire of killing techniques, and the suppression of compassion and guilt -- equip him perfectly for a life of crime. “I’ll put it as bluntly as I can,” Shay writes in Odysseus in America: Combat Trauma and the Trials of Homecoming, “Combat service per se smooths the way into criminal careers afterward in civilian life.” During the last decade, when the Pentagon relaxed standards to fill the ranks, some enterprising members of at least 53 different American gangs jumpstarted their criminal careers by enlisting, training, and serving in war zones to perfect their specialized skill sets.

Some veterans have gone on to become domestic terrorists, like Desert Storm veteran Timothy McVeigh, who killed 168 people in the Oklahoma federal building in 1995, or mass murderers like Wade Michael Page, the Army veteran and uber-racist who killed six worshippers at a Sikh temple in Oak Creek, Wisconsin, in August 2012. Page had first been introduced to the ideology of white supremacy at age 20, three years after he joined the Army, when he fell in with a neo-Nazi hate group at Fort Bragg. That was in 1995, the year three paratroopers from Fort Bragg murdered two black local residents, a man and a woman, to earn their neo-Nazi spider-web tattoos.

An unknown number of such killers just walk away, like Army Private (and former West Point cadet) Isaac Aguigui, who was finally convicted last month in a Georgia criminal court of murdering his pregnant wife, Sergeant Deirdre Wetzker Aguigui, an Army linguist, three years ago. Although Deirdre Aguigui’s handcuffed body had revealed multiple blows and signs of struggle, the military medical examiner failed to “detect an anatomic cause of death” -- a failure convenient for both the Army, which didn’t have to investigate further, and Isaac Aguigui, who collected a half-million dollars in military death benefits and life insurance to finance a war of his own.

In 2012, Georgia authorities charged Aguigui and three combat veterans from Fort Stewart with the execution-style murders of former Private Michael Roark, 19, and his girlfriend Tiffany York, 17. The trial in a civilian criminal court revealed that Aguigui (who was never deployed) had assembled his own private militia of troubled combat vets called FEAR (Forever Enduring, Always Ready), and was plotting to take over Fort Stewart by seizing the munitions control point. Among his other plans for his force were killing unnamed officials with car bombs, blowing up a fountain in Savannah, poisoning the apple crop in Aguigui’s home state of Washington, and joining other unspecified private militia groups around the country in a plot to assassinate President Obama and take control of the United States government. Last year, the Georgia court convicted Aguigui in the case of the FEAR executions and sentenced him to life. Only then did a civilian medical examiner determine that he had first murdered his wife.

The Rule of Law


The routine drills of basic training and the catastrophic events of war damage many soldiers in ways that appear darkly ironic when they return home to traumatize or kill their partners, their children, their fellow soldiers, or random strangers in a town or on a base. But again to get the stories we must rely upon scrupulous local journalists. The Austin American-Statesman, for example, reports that, since 2003, in the area around Fort Hood in central Texas, nearly 10% of those involved in shooting incidents with the police were military veterans or active-duty service members. In four separate confrontations since last December, the police shot and killed two recently returned veterans and wounded a third, while one police officer was killed. A fourth veteran survived a shootout unscathed.

Such tragic encounters prompted state and city officials in Texas to develop a special Veterans Tactical Response Program to train police in handling troubled military types. Some of the standard techniques Texas police use to intimidate and overcome suspects -- shouting, throwing “flashbangs” (grenades), or even firing warning shots -- backfire when the suspect is a veteran in crisis, armed, and highly trained in reflexive fire. The average civilian lawman is no match for an angry combat grunt from, as the president put it at Fort Hood, “the greatest Army that the world has ever known.” On the other hand, a brain-injured vet who needs time to respond to orders or reply to questions may get manhandled, flattened, tasered, bludgeoned, or worse by overly aggressive police officers before he has time to say a word.

Here’s another ironic twist. For the past decade, military recruiters have made a big selling point of the “veterans preference” policy in the hiring practices of civilian police departments. The prospect of a lifetime career in law enforcement after a single tour of military duty tempts many wavering teenagers to sign on the line. But the vets who are finally discharged from service and don the uniform of a civilian police department are no longer the boys who went away.

In Texas today, 37% of the police in Austin, the state capitol, are ex-military, and in smaller cities and towns in the vicinity of Fort Hood, that figure rises above the 50% mark. Everybody knows that veterans need jobs, and in theory they might be very good at handling troubled soldiers in crisis, but they come to the job already trained for and very good at war. When they meet the next Ivan Lopez, they make a potentially combustible combo.

Most of America’s military men and women don’t want to be “stigmatized” by association with the violent soldiers mentioned here. Neither do the ex-military personnel who now, as members of civilian police forces, do periodic battle with violent vets in Texas and across the country. The new Washington Post-Kaiser survey reveals that most veterans are proud of their military service, if not altogether happy with their homecoming. Almost half of them think that American civilians, like the citizens of Iraq and Afghanistan, don’t genuinely “respect” them, and more than half feel disconnected from American life. They believe they have better moral and ethical values than their fellow citizens, a virtue trumpeted by the Pentagon and presidents alike. Sixty percent say they are more patriotic than civilians. Seventy percent say that civilians fail absolutely to understand them. And almost 90% of veterans say that in a heartbeat they would re-up to fight again.

Americans on the “home front” were never mobilized by their leaders and they have generally not come to grips with the wars fought in their name. Here, however, is another irony: neither, it turns out, have most of America’s military men and women. Like their civilian counterparts, many of whom are all too ready to deploy those soldiers again to intervene in countries they can’t even find on a map, a significant number of veterans evidently have yet to unpack and examine the wars they brought home in their baggage -- and in too many grim cases, they, their loved ones, their fellow soldiers, and sometimes random strangers are paying the price.

Ann Jones, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of Kabul in Winter, among other books, and most recently They Were Soldiers: How the Wounded Return From America’s Wars -- The Untold Story, a Dispatch Books project (Haymarket, 2013).

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Copyright 2014 Ann Jones