Saturday, January 09, 2016

Imperialist Violence Part 1 - Syria

The Imperialist Violence in Syria  - Part 1

by Kim Petersen and B.J. Sabri  - Dissident Voice

January 7th, 2016

I cannot help asking those who have forced that situation: Do you realize what you have done?
- Russian President Vladimir Putin pointing to the US policy in the Middle East, address to the United Nations General Assembly, 2015, excerpts on CNBC.
Americans Have Constantly Destroyed Others.
- French actor Gerard Depardieu.

Is it best for the world to remain on the sidelines or engage in nugatory “peace” negotiations while the United States, Britain, France, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Qatar, Israel, and their terrorist groups destroy Syria with fire and violence? How would the entry of Russia at the side of the legitimate Syrian government affect the situation?1 Would it add to the death and destruction, or would it end them?

Now that Russia is committed to eliminating all armed opposition groups (except the so-called Free Syrian Army for political calculations), while knowing that civilians will die in the process, does it make sense to ask it to stop its violence—though legal and legitimate under the UN Charter—because it might take out “a few innocent kids along the way”? Aside from calls to stop the carnage, we believe that the wider debate should focus on one major aspect of the conflict: why and who planned the violence and made it a daily scene of Syrian life for over four and half years?

A great number of progressive analysts have written about Syria. Recently, Joshua Frank, the managing editor of Counterpunch, asked, “Are we to ignore the geopolitical situation and just back Russia’s bombings because IS is so damn evil, even if Russia takes out a few innocent Syrian kids along the way?”2 In a rebuttal to Franks’ position, T.P. Wilkinson published an article where he expressed criticism of Frank’s views.3 Whether the news of a few innocent Syrian kids killed by the Russians is true or false, the fact remains Syrians are being killed every day. We are not suggesting that Russia’s air strikes are not causing civilian deaths. Even if Russia hits only armed groups’ infrastructures and compounds, civilians nearby at the time might die. What we want to emphasize though is that the Syrian people will continue to die in great numbers unless someone stops the violence. More importantly, because the United States is conducting its war against Syria through proxies, Russia is the only other world power that can effectively defeat these proxies, stop the killing, and impose a political solution. UN Security Council Resolution 2254—despite shortcomings—passed on December 18, 2015 adduces our point.4

Frank’s statement begs the question of whether or not saving the lives of the many deserves consideration over the possible deaths of “the few,” albeit innocent kids. Let us debate this point without equivocation: if a Russian military intervention could save tens-of-thousands of Syrian lives while also taking the lives of a “few innocent Syrian kids,” would it have been better to be a non-interventionist anti-war dissident and allow thousands to be killed—including, likeliest, some innocent kids—at the hands of rebels and mercenaries?

Frank wraps up his article with this thought: “Those are a few of the questions we should be asking while we oppose all international military involvement in Syria as well as Assad’s murderous human rights violations. It’s time to demand the impossible. It’s time to demand the U.S. and Russia get out of Syria. If the anti-imperialist Left doesn’t do it, who will?”

Although some of Frank’s conclusions needs to be fully debated, his take on the topic of war casualties—regardless of who is causing them—is forceful. However, any meaningful discussions on Syria must take into account the history of plans and motivations that shaped and caused the ongoing tragedy.

For starters, Frank asks, “If the anti-imperialist Left doesn’t do it, who will?” This comes across with conviction. He urges the Left to take action due to its stance as the prominent front concerned with war and peace issues. There is a problem though. First, we need to define what the Left is. Second, a cohesive, organized anti-imperialist Left does not exist. Therefore, a unifying Leftist political platform advocating universal issues—such as stopping wars or violence—does not exist either. As a consolation, there are countless anti-imperialist writers and thinkers—although not all of them can be ascribed to the traditional Left in Marxist context or even in its diluted version of social democracy. Third, the qualifier Left is no magic potion leading to mass mobilization of antiwar activists capable of stopping aggressions or reversing injustices.

In situations like Syria, there is a need to see things in depth before proceeding any further. Also, considering the scale of sheer violence, nightmarish devastation, and colossal displacement of population that has been taking place in over four years of a catastrophic upheaval designed and fueled by Western and regional interventions, calls to end the slaughter of the Syrian people are a matter of elementary human decency.

Is it not odd that since the start of conflict (including 14 months of US, Emirati, and Turkish bombardment of Syrian territory under the pretext of fighting the so-called Islamic State), we rarely heard voices calling for the United States to quit Syria? Yet, not even a day after Russia started hitting terrorist groups supported and armed by the US via client states, the gates of indignation exploded and everyone on the side of US imperialism wants Russia to quit that bleeding country.

Consequently, when antiwar activists call on both the US and Russia to get out of Syria, we understand that in an ideal situation this should be the right option. Is it? The answer is no for one important reason: the US plan for Syria is at such an advanced stage of completion that only Russia can stop it, and may even reverse it. There is no doubt that calls for foreign powers to leave Syria have serious merit. Nonetheless, such merit instantly expires considering the evolving realities of the conflict and the actors involved. What we see in Syria today goes beyond the fortunes of a legitimate government fighting armed groups financed and trained by the West and Arab lackeys. To describe it properly, it is a violent power struggle between a mad neocon superpower wanting to overthrow a sovereign government and destroy the country, and all those who resist its onslaught.

As we reject US claims of moral legitimacy to intervene in Syria, we might want to ask if the United States (an imperialist aggressor state guilty of serial war crimes), its absolutist partners (Gulf states) chauvinist Turkey, and the Zionist occupation regime) have any mandate under the international law to decide the fate of a sovereign nation. Because no world authority (e.g., the United Nations) has ever conferred such a mandate, one might think that the lack of authorization would make it easy for the emerging anti-imperialist front to demand a stop to the senseless mass killing and destruction of Syria. Would that be the logical thing to demand?

Theoretically, the answer should be yes. But calls to stop the wars of imperialism and violence are one thing, bringing an end to the warring is another. We know in advance that all non-Syrian entities operating in Syria have stakes in the mayhem. Given that, is it possible that the Left or mass protests could stop the carnage? Are those who foment the violence willing to lift their hands off Syria? Will Obama, Al Saud following, Qatar, and Erdogan stop recruiting, training, and paying for killers and mercenaries? (Note on the diction: Al Saud. Al means clan in Arabic. In this series, we occasionally refer to the House of Saud as Al Saud, meaning, the Al Saud clan or the Saud ruling family. This diction is widely used in the Arab world to denote the tyrannical rule and corruption of the House of Saud.)

As a reminder, did the international protests against the looming invasion of Iraq in 2003 succeed in stopping the United States from invading it? After he ordered the invasion of Iraq, and in response to calls for the US to withdraw from it, war criminal George W. Bush told Bob Woodward, “I will not withdraw, even if Laura and Barney [his dog] are the only ones supporting me.”5

Incidentally, to whom should we address our stop-the-killing appeal? To the US, Britain, France, or Germany who are busy overseeing the execution of the plan to remake the Middle East to meet Western and Israeli hegemonic criteria? Would despotic Turkey (despite ostentatious democracy), Jordan, Saudi Arabia, or Qatar be receptive or amenable to such an appeal? Or maybe we can discuss the matter with the American-controlled United Nations? Better yet, maybe we can talk with the American-made ISIS or the Saudi al-Nusra Front (widely considered as “al-Qaeda”) and sister groups. Could the Syrian government (desperately engaged in the defense of the country, as well as of itself) help us realize our appeal? More importantly, would the United States, which is promoting and directing the vicious mercenaries and volunteers, listen to any anti-violence plea?

Who then has the ability to stop the violence?

Could it be the world at large? Can we, for example, take our appeal to all nations and ask them to rise against a nightmare called regime change in Syria at any cost? This is romanticism. Do we not all realize that in a world permeated by insouciance, fear, psychological subjugation, and consumed by the daily struggle against the crises of capitalism, corporate globalization, and escalating poverty, that too few might protest? If facts matter, the world today is not the world of the 1950-1980s, and it is not the world of Nasser, Gandhi, Mao, Ho Chi Minh, Castro, and el Che. Do we not all know that after the collapse of Communism and the emergence of the United States as a globally unchallenged hegemon, that a great majority of nations—even Viet Nam—succumbed to American diktat, and in the process revolutionary fervor and anti-establishment discontent entered into a deep hibernation?

Is it possible to stop the violence in Syria at this stage of the conflict without first militarily defeating the international armada of Saudi- and Qatari-armed groups? Thus far, realistically, the answer is no based on continuing anti-Bashar pronouncements by Saudis, Turks, Qataris, and by a duplicitous United States that continues to play all of her regional pawns according to predetermined schemes.

We are told that the House of Saud and the United States want to see Assad and his regime gone before they decide to stop the violence. We are also told that Russia must target ISIS but spare all other Islamist factions that the US, Turkey, and Gulf states support. This is nonsense. In practical terms, it means a cruel game with a clear purpose: continue with the violence regardless of human cost until regime change is achieved. Russia’s entry into the war foiled this objective.

Regarding the issue of Assad leaving, we have a question: why should the leader of a recognized sovereign nation, his political entourage, and government leave in obedience to foreign diktat? Is this not a matter to be decided by the Syrian people and the Syrian people alone? Why demand the departure of one person as a condition to halt the mass killing and destruction of an entire country by foreign governments, outsiders, and mercenaries? Another question to ponder: Which is the greater evil, engaging in mass killing and creating a mass exodus of refugees to carry out the illegal act of imposing a change of government on a sovereign state by foreign powers, or leaving the fate of Bashar al Assad and his government to the Syrian people to decide? These writers submit that this should be self-evident to everyone. So why then are western state/corporate media focused on the demand for carrying out an illegal act rather than preventing it?

A logical alternative to this imperialist coercion to end the war exists. We can ask the United States (and its lackeys) to stop interfering in Syria, cut off financing and weapon supplies to their mercenaries thus allowing them to return to where they came from. As a result, the Syrian people will be able to decide their own fate, form of government, and future. After the US destroyed Iraq and Libya (and now Yemen via Saudi Arabia and the UAE), does anyone think that it would tip its hat, show remorse, and put an end to the imperialistic violence it unleashed on Syria? As we stated, before the Russian intervention, the game to smash and partition Syria was approaching completion. It is certain that notwithstanding this intervention, the US and vassals would continue with their plan for some time before they would capitulate to the objective reality on the ground.

Short of an overwhelming mass mobilization of the world’s citizenry demanding all non-Syrian state actors desist from interference in Syrian affairs, we cannot advise on solutions (solutions that require immediacy in implementation) to stop the violence in Syria. But at this stage, we can predict this: based on developments in the conflict, and seeing that the US is persisting with its ISIS and al-Nusra-linked strategies to destroy Syria and remove its legitimate government, it seems—paradoxically—that only violence with a purpose can end US imperialist violence. Like it or not, Russia’s decisive entry into the conflict to eradicate all forms of terrorism against the Syrian people and its government fits this purpose despite the fact that more people would die.

This sounds perhaps cynical and heartless. Are we suggesting that some Syrian civilians should accept their death as a price to save what remains of their country? Are we borrowing from the American imperialist notion of “collateral damage” or proposing sustained war by Syria and its legitimate allies to end this war regardless of human costs? No, but considering the forces involved and their declared aims to bring about a new regime at any cost, this appears to be the least bad immediate (the clock will not stop for the killing) solution with the minimal casualties, and the entry of Russia has become the decisive factor in this direction. Will Russia succeed at imposing a political solution with its intervention? Based on the conferences and events of the last two months, this seems possible.

Why is Russia intervening anyway?

The Russian president used soft exaggeration to depict the reach of “Islamist terrorism.” He said, “What we are trying to achieve is to contribute to the fight against terrorism, which is a threat to both the United States to Russia to European countries and the whole world.”6 His prime minister was forthcoming. He spoke in terms taken directly from the American interventionist lexicon, “We are not fighting for specific leaders, we are defending our national interests.”7

We do not have to speculate that Putin and Dmitry Medvedev have indeed told us something that went beyond the appearance of words. This is how we interpret Medvedev’s notion of Russia’s national interests: contrary to circulating western insinuations, Russia is not that intimated by the return of Islamist militants to the Russian Federation. For instance, Bandar Bin Sultan, a member of the Saudi ruling family and former Saudi intelligence chief with strong ties to Washington, tried to buy Putin by asking him to abandon support for Syria in exchange for Saudi (and American, of course) manipulation of oil prices. Most important, he implicitly threatened Putin. He said, “I can give you a guarantee to protect the Winter Olympics next year. The Chechen groups that threaten the security of the games are controlled by us.”8 With this statement, Bin Sultan unequivocally confirmed that Saudi Arabia finances and directs the international movements of Islamist militants in the pursuit of a policy conceived by the US and Israel but implemented by his government. Did Bandar’s bribe or blackmail work? No, which means Russian leaders are not overly concerned about Islamist fighters being mobilized against their territory. Russian motives for intervening in Syria are much deeper. So, why is Russia concerned about US-promoted violence Syria?

Next Part 2 of 7: “The Broader Design of the Anti-Syria Forces.”

Tons of philosophical, political, and jurisprudential studies have been made on the concept of legitimacy and legitimate government. Being of elusive nature and speculative interpretations that depends on who is defining it and in what context, we think, for the purpose of this work, that a dictionary meaning would suffice. has compiled a succinct definition for “Legitimate government.” It defines it as, A government generally acknowledged as being in control of a nation and deserving formal recognition, which is symbolized by the exchange of diplomats between that government and the governments of other countries. By dint of this pragmatic definition, the Syrian government satisfies this condition. (It is brazen hypocrisy that Obama keeps blaring that Bashar Assad lost his legitimacy, yet he still maintains an embassy in Damascus.)

Joshua Frank, “The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria,” Counterpunch, 2 October 2015. 

T.P. Wilkinson, “Saving Private al-Baghdadi,” Dissident Voice, 4 October 2015 Note: while the authors agree with the brunt of the logic in Wilkerson’s essay, they would submit it was overly critical toward Frank and bordered on ad hominem. Some criticism is weak; e.g., Wilkerson chides Frank: “Needless to say the ‘Free World’ has been extinct since 1989 but Frank hasn’t noticed.” However, the fact that Frank used quotation marks around free world indicates he regards the term scathingly.

To evaluate media news reporting on victims killed by Russia’s airstrikes, read, “Information Warfare? Russia accused of killing civilians in Syria.”

CBS 60 Minutes, Bob Woodward, “Bush Says …,” 28 March 2015. 

Russia Today, “ISIS calls on ‘Islamic youth’ to ignite holy war against Russians& Americans,” 14 October 2015. []
The Tribune, “Russia: Defending national interests in Syria, not Assad,” 18 October 2015. 

Geoffrey Ingersoll, “REPORT: The Saudis Offered Mafia-Style ‘Protection’ Against Terrorist Attacks At Sochi Olympics,” 27 August 2015.

Kim Petersen is a former editor of Dissident Voice and can be reached at B.J. Sabri is an observer of the politics of modern colonialism, imperialism, Zionism, and of contemporary Arab issues. He can be reached at Read other articles by Kim and B.J..

Lost in the Media Maze: Donald and the Press

A US Media Lost in Propaganda

by William Blum - Consortium News

January 9, 2016 

Vulgar, crude, racist and ultra-sexist though he is, Donald Trump can still see how awful the American mainstream media is. 

ABC-TV anchor George Stephanopoulos

I think one of the main reasons for Donald Trump’s popularity is that he says what’s on his mind and he means what he says, something rather rare amongst American politicians, or politicians perhaps anywhere in the world. The American public is sick and tired of the phony, hypocritical answers given by office-holders of all kinds.

When I read that Trump had said that Sen. John McCain was not a hero because McCain had been captured in Vietnam, I had to pause for reflection. Wow! Next the man will be saying that not every American soldier who was in the military in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq was a shining hero worthy of constant media honor and adulation.

When Trump was interviewed by ABC-TV host George Stephanopoulos, former aide to President Bill Clinton, he was asked:

“When you were pressed about [Russian president Vladimir Putin’s] killing of journalists, you said, ‘I think our country does plenty of killing too.’ What were you thinking about there? What killing sanctioned by the U.S. government is like killing journalists?”

Trump responded:

“In all fairness to Putin, you’re saying he killed people. I haven’t seen that. I don’t know that he has. Have you been able to prove that? Do you know the names of the reporters that he’s killed? Because I’ve been – you know, you’ve been hearing this, but I haven’t seen the name. Now, I think it would be despicable if that took place, but I haven’t seen any evidence that he killed anybody in terms of reporters.”

Or Trump could have given Stephanopoulos a veritable heart attack by declaring that the American military, in the course of its wars in recent decades, has been responsible for the deliberate deaths of many journalists.

In Iraq, for example, there’s the Wikileaks 2007 video, exposed by Chelsea Manning, of the cold-blooded murder of two Reuters journalists; the 2003 U.S. air-to-surface missile attack on the offices of Al Jazeera in Baghdad that left three journalists dead and four wounded; and the American firing on Baghdad’s Hotel Palestine the same year that killed two foreign news cameramen.

It was during this exchange that Stephanopoulos allowed the following to pass his lips:

“But what killing has the United States government done?”

Do the American TV networks not give any kind of intellectual test to their newscasters? Something at a fourth-grade level might improve matters.

Prominent MSNBC newscaster Joe Scarborough, interviewing Trump, was also baffled by Trump’s embrace of Putin, who had praised Trump as being “bright and talented.”. Putin, said Scarborough, was “also a person who kills journalists, political opponents, and invades countries. Obviously that would be a concern, would it not?”

Putin “invades countries” … Well, now there even I would have been at a loss as to how to respond. Try as I might I don’t think I could have thought of any countries the United States has ever invaded. [Editor’s Note: Sarcasm aside, Blum has compiled comprehensive lists of U.S. invasions and interventions in his books, including Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II.]

To his credit, Trump responded:

“I think our country does plenty of killing, also, Joe, so, you know. There’s a lot of stupidity going on in the world right now, Joe. A lot of killing going on. A lot of stupidity. And that’s the way it is.”

As to Putin killing political opponents, this too would normally go unchallenged in the American mainstream media. But earlier this year, I listed seven highly questionable deaths of opponents of the Ukraine government, a regime put in power by the United States, which is used as a club against Putin. This of course was non-news in the American media.

So that’s what happens when the know-nothing American media meets up with a know-just-a-bit-more presidential candidate. Ain’t democracy wonderful?

Trump has also been criticized for saying that immediately after the 9/11 attacks, thousands of Middle Easterners were seen celebrating outdoors in New Jersey in sight of the attack location. An absurd remark, for which Trump has been rightfully vilified; but not as absurd as the U.S. mainstream media pretending that it had no idea what Trump could possibly be referring to in his mixed-up manner.

For there were in fact people seen in New Jersey apparently celebrating the planes crashing into the World Trade Center towers. But they were Israelis, which would explain all one needs to know about why the story wasn’t in the headlines and has since been “forgotten” or misremembered.

On the day of the 9/11 attacks, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was asked what the attacks would mean for U.S.-Israeli relations. His quick reply was: “It’s very good. … Well, it’s not good, but it will generate immediate sympathy (for Israel).” There’s a lot on the Internet about these Israelis in New Jersey, who were held in police custody for months before being released. So here too mainstream newspersons do not know enough to enlighten their audience.

Russian Propaganda?

There is a Russian website [inosmi = foreign mass media] that translates propagandistic russophobic articles from the Western media into Russian and publishes them so that Russians can see with their own eyes how the Western media lies about them day after day.

There have been several articles lately based on polls that show that anti-Western sentiments are increasing in Russia, and blaming it on “Putin’s propaganda.” This is rather odd because who needs propaganda when the Russians can read the Western media themselves and see firsthand all the lies it puts forth about them and the demonizing of Putin.

There are several political-debate shows on Russian television where they invite Western journalists or politicians; on one there frequently is a really funny American journalist, Michael Bohm, who keeps regurgitating all the Western propaganda, arguing with his Russian counterparts.

It’s pretty surreal to watch him display the worst political stereotypes of Americans: arrogant, gullible, and ignorant. He stands there and lectures high-ranking Russian politicians, “explaining” to them the “real” Russian foreign policy, and the “real” intentions behind their actions, as opposed to anything they say. The man is shockingly irony-impaired. It is as funny to watch as it is sad and scary.

The above was written with the help of a woman who was raised in the Soviet Union and now lives in Washington. She and I have discussed U.S. foreign policy on many occasions. We are in very close agreement as to its destructiveness and absurdity.

Just as in the first Cold War, one of the basic problems is that Exceptional Americans have great difficulty in believing that Russians mean well. Apropos this, I’d like to recall the following written about the late George Kennan:

“Crossing Poland with the first US diplomatic mission to the Soviet Union in the winter of 1933, a young American diplomat named George Kennan was somewhat astonished to hear the Soviet escort, Foreign Minister Maxim Litvinov, reminisce about growing up in a village nearby, about the books he had read and his dreams as a small boy of being a librarian.

“We suddenly realized, or at least I did, that these people we were dealing with were human beings like ourselves,” Kennan wrote, “that they had been born somewhere, that they had their childhood ambitions as we had. It seemed for a brief moment we could break through and embrace these people.”

It hasn’t happened yet.

Kennan’s sudden realization brings George Orwell to mind: “We have now sunk to a depth at which the restatement of the obvious is the first duty of intelligent men.”

William Blum is an author, historian, and renowned critic of U.S. foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military and CIA Interventions Since World War II and Rogue State: A Guide to the World’s Only Superpower, among others. [This article originally appeared at the Anti-Empire Report, .]

A Digital Reichstag Fire: "Attacks" in Cologne and the Campaign to Amplify Racist Hate

The assaults in Cologne and the call for a strong state

by Dietmar Henning and Peter Schwarz - WSWS

9 January 2016

With the beginning of the new year, the media and the political establishment have returned to propaganda mode. It is impossible to watch or listen to the news or open a newspaper without confronting demands for more police and surveillance, harsher laws, and the deportation of “criminal foreigners.” Chancellor Angela Merkel has placed herself at the head of the campaign with her call for “clear signals to those who are not willing to comply with our legal system.”

The occasion for this latest propaganda campaign, which has pushed all other topics into the background, is the New Year's eve incident at Cologne Central Railway Station. Groups of apparently heavily intoxicated men harassed, robbed and sexually assaulted numerous women.

Given the massive media attention these events have received, it is noteworthy that eight days later, few concrete details are known.The Cologne police and North Rhine-Westphalian state Interior Ministry are waiting until Monday to comment on them again. But despite the lack of information, it is clear that a calculated campaign is being organised.

Only one thing is thus far certain. Some 1,000 people gathered on the square between the main railway station and the Cologne Cathedral to celebrate the New Year. When some of those present began to set off fireworks in the crowd, the police cleared the square half an hour before midnight, saying they wanted to “prevent mass panic.” Shortly before one o’clock, they once again allowed access to the station.

At this time, a number of women began to file complaints of theft. According to the police, some of them also reported sexual assaults by groups on passers-by. The police dispatched nearly 150 officers to the square, who accompanied some of the threatened women to the railway station. In the station, another 70 federal police officers were present.

The next morning, the police announced that there had been no unusual occurrences. “Despite the unplanned break in the celebrations, the situation was relaxed,” they declared in a press release. In the social media, the attacks in Cologne on New Year's eve were not raised as an issue, as research by the Süddeutsche Zeitung subsequently showed. Isolated reports of sexual harassment appeared only in the Cologne local press.

On January 2, the police set up an investigation team to look into the incidents. According to the local press, at this time more than 30 women made themselves known to the police and investigators were assuming that there were more than 40 perpetrators.

At first, there was talk of “men of North African appearance.” The police suspected they were dealing with people known to them for months as pickpockets and confidence men who jostle their victims or misdirect them in order to steal from them. Sometimes, sexual harassment and touching are used as a means of deflecting attention.

The Cologne events made national news only after four days, when Mayor Henriette Reker and Chief of Police Wolfgang Albers held a press conference. Since then, they have dominated the headlines.

The number of complaints to the police increased to 121, three quarters of them for sexual harassment, 50 also for theft. In two cases, about which nothing more is currently known, the police are investigating charges of rape. Meanwhile, the police have identified 16 suspects from video recordings. Most of them are not known to the police by name. There have to date been no arrests.

Putting all this meager information together, it appears that the preying of pickpockets, for which the area around Cologne’s main train station is notorious, came together with excessive alcohol consumption and the presence of a large, tightly packed crowd. Some of the women reported having to run a gauntlet while being attacked and groped from several sides. That is disgusting, but not new in Germany. At major events where there is high alcohol consumption, such as the Oktoberfest in Bavaria, similar excesses often occur, if perhaps not in such a concentrated form.

After the Cologne events began dominating the headlines, several dozen complaints of sexual assault on New Year’s eve were also made to the police in Hamburg and Stuttgart.

The events in Cologne have much to do with the social crisis in major German cities, but absolutely nothing to do with the influx of almost one million refugees over the past year. They overwhelmingly detest violence against women, just like the vast majority of Germans. But this did not prevent politicians and the media from making the Cologne events the starting point for a sweeping smear campaign against refugees combined with a call for more state powers.

Federal Justice Minister Heiko Maas, a member of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), spoke of “a whole new dimension of organized crime.” Without providing any evidence that the events in Cologne had been planned, he told the Berliner Morgenpost, “When thousands of people come together as an uninhibited horde, and that was apparently planned, it is nothing less than a temporary breach of civilization.” The term “breach of civilization” has traditioanlly been used in Germany in connection with the Holocaust.

Christian Social Union (CSU) General Secretary Andreas Scheuer made the sweeping accusation that it was “young migrants” who were responsible for the attacks in Cologne. It is “unacceptable that women are sexually mistreated and robbed at night on the street and in public places in major German cities by young migrants,” he told the Rheinische Post .

North Rhine-Westphalia Interior Minister Ralf Jäger (SPD) expressed himself similarly, declaring in the style of the far-right, anti-immigrant Pegida movement, “We do not accept that groups of North African men organize to humiliate defenseless women with brazen sexual attacks.”

Echoes of the Nazi stereotype of foreign sub-humans who desecrate German women are unmistakable in both statements.

On Twitter, the former family minister, Kristina Schröder of the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), said that the “violence-legitimising masculinity norms in Muslim culture,” which had been long “taboo,” had to be confronted.

Although Federal Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière said there should be “no general suspicion shown towards refugees,” he added in the next breath that if North Africans were the perpetrators, this could not be “just ignored.”

The smear campaign against “North Africans,” “Muslim culture” and “young migrants” is inevitably accompanied by a call for more police, tougher laws and the expulsion of refugees. Chancellor Angela Merkel announced that there would be a “harsh answer by the rule of law.” Representatives of all of the parliamentary parties responded similarly, including the Left Party. Its state premier in Thuringia, Bodo Ramelow, orded a risk assessment of the east German state and warned there could be “no lawless areas.”

As a consequence of the Cologne events, the CDU executive is calling for the implementation of a dragnet, including “random checks,” when there is “significant danger to public safety and order.” The party will adopt such a resolution on Saturday at its conference in Mainz.

The police union has demanded that politicians show “more guts in enforcing existing deportation regulations,” and Justice Minister Maas has given assurances that asylum seekers can be expelled after being sentanced to one year’s imprisonment.

The events in Cologne are the pretext and not the reason for the call for more powers for the state. Key media outlets such as Die Zeit have long called for a “strong state.” This is inextricably linked to the return of Germany to militarism and an aggressive foreign policy. The war operations in Afghanistan, Syria and Mali, together with mounting social inequality, are provoking growing resistance. It is against this that increased state powers are directed.

Despite intensive propaganda, it has not yet proven possible to break down the deep opposition in broad sections of the population to war and the prevalence of popular sympathy for the refugees. Now the issue of violence against women is being exploited in order to achieve this goal.

This Can Keep Happening! (with your help): ThisCantBeHappening! Launches Indiegogo Campaign

Three-two-one blast off! ThisCantBeHappening! Launches Indiegogo Campaign to Raise Funds to Support Investigative Reporting on the Site

by The TCBH! Collective

January 9, 2016

We're off and running with a fund-raiser on Indiegogo [1] aimed at raising $50,000 to support our site and the hard-hitting reporting we do here to get out the truth that the rest of the media ignore, cover-up, or misreport.

We're hoping everyone who reads this site will visit our Indiegogo page [1] and make a contribution, or whatever amount you can afford, and that you will help our fund-raiser go viral by sending a link to everyone you know.

Where else can you read about the real reason the Federal Reserve is raising interest rates [2] (hint: it's not, as claimed, for fear of rampaging inflation, or to "reassure" investors).

Where else could you read that the FBI knew about a well-developed plot, possibly by Houston Police or by private security people hired by Houston's oil and banking industries, to murder Occupy Houston leaders [3] with "suppressed sniper fire," and that the bureau did nothing to stop it, and never made any arrests?

Where else can you learn how Israel's IDF, in commandeering a peace flotilla ship heading for Gaza, murdered a 19-year-old US citizen [4], and that the Obama White House, instead of protesting, hid from the US public a report by the Turkish Forensics Society. delivered by the Turkish US embassy, detailing how the unarmed youth was murdered [5] by shots to the head?

What other US news organization has the distinction of having been labeled a "threat" by the US Department of Homeland Security [6] -- a testimonial to our aggressive reporting on that agency's and the FBI's role in orchestrating the brutal crushing of the 2011 Occupy movement? Indeed, here's what Homeland Security wrote in a memo to 72 so-called Fusion Centers about our reporting on their nefarious role in crushing a legitimate protest movement:

“Although at this time these reference to fusion centers and Occupy seems [sic] to be compartmentalized I wanted to make you aware of these references in case the national news media begins [sic] speculating about fusion center involvement.”

That's high praise for us, and about as good a reason as one could find for supporting this site, because the sad truth is that the "national news media" never did report on the federal government's central role in crushing Occupy protests nationwide, nor did the national news media ever report on our being labeled a "threat" to "national security" for doing so.

We're not asking for a lot. We often have 50,000 readers of this site, so if even a fraction of you were to pony up $5 or $10 or $20, we'd reach our goal.

Why do we need money? We've been writing original journalism for this site now for almost five years, and doing it for nothing. Our donations come to just a few thousand bucks a year, which goes mostly for costs like travel, web hosting, and the like. We aren't paid anything for what we do.

That means that we all have to do our ThisCantBeHappening! work in the spare time we can find when we're not trying to earn a living at our "day jobs."

If we can raise this money in the current Indiegogo campaign, that will change. We'll be able to dedicate time to our ThisCantBeHappening! reporting, and we guarantee that you will immediately notice the change.

So please contribute to our campaign [1], and even more important, send a note to everyone you know linking to our site, and urging them to support us and to spread the word.

Thank you from all of us!

The TCBH! Collective: Linn Washington, John Grant,
Dave Lindorff, Gary Lindorff, Jess Guh, Alfredo Lopez,
Lori Spencer and the late but ever-present Charles M. Young


Passing: Grace Tickson: Memorial/Celebration of Life in Nanaimo

Grace Tickson Memorial

by Kimball Cariou - People's Voice

A celebration of life - which is not always appropriate - was never more so as in the case of Grace Tickson, the Nanaimo political activist who passed away in early November at the age of 92.

Saturday, January 23, 2016
2:00 pm
Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo 

Grace is remembered for many important reasons: She was a lifelong trade union activist, a key figure in the early decades of building the BCGEU and in the Fish Union Women's Auxiliary, (back when such groups played a major role in mobilizing community support for labour struggles); and, she was a member of the Communist Party through good times and more difficult periods, never wavering in her commitment to replacing the rotten capitalist system with a socialist society based on common ownership of resources and the means of production, and genuine working class democracy.

One way she expressed this commitment was through generous support to the annual fund drives for People's Voice, Canada's leading socialist newspaper.

While standing firm on her principles, Grace was always happy to reach out to others of different views in the interests of building a stronger movement for social change. A proud Raging Granny, Grace was present at nearly every protest, rally, picket line, public forum etc. in the Nanaimo area over the past sixty years or more.

She was an immediate friend to everyone she met in the struggle for a better world, and she lived life to the full, especially her favourite pastime: dancing! And she never let advancing age slow her down. Her marvelous attitude was that seniors of any age deserve to enjoy a love life, and she wasn't shy about that.

Grace was an inspiration to many of us, and she will be remembered by family, friends, comrades, fellow workers and dancers, on Saturday, January 23, 2016, 2:00 pm at the Coast Bastion Hotel in Nanaimo - the same place where she and her good friend Grace Stevens jointly celebrated their 90th birthdays with a huge party a few years ago.

Everyone who knew Grace is welcome to take part.

Kimball Cariou
Editor, People's Voice

Grace in high form - BC ferry, 2012

Friday, January 08, 2016

A Note to the Canadian Broadcast Corp

A Note to the Canadian Broadcast Corp

by Canadians Concerned with Truth in Media

Southpaw: Fighting to Win in Latin America - A Wounded Left Regroups

Latin America Has to Fight and Win!

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

January 8, 2016

For now, Argentina is lost and Venezuela is deeply wounded, divided and frustrated. Virtually everywhere in socialist Latin America, well-orchestrated and angry protests are taking place, accusing our left-wing governments of mismanagement and corruption.

What was gained during those years of hard work and sacrifices, is suddenly evaporating in front of our eyes. And there seems to be no way to stop the trend in the foreseeable future.

Whatever magnificent work our governments have done have been smeared. Western propaganda and its local serfs belittle the achievements of our people. In several countries, revolutionary zeal has almost entirely vanished.


It is clear, even with an unarmed eye that great progress had been made. Those of us who knew Ecuador two decades ago, (then a depressing country, humiliated and torn by disparities and racism), are now impressed by its wonderful social services, free culture and modern infrastructure.

Indigenous people of Bolivia are proudly in possession of their own land.

Venezuela has been inspiring the entire Latin America and the world by its internationalism and determined struggle against Western imperialism.

Chile, step by small step, has been dismantling the grotesque legacy of Pinochet’s dictatorship, moving firmly towards socialism.

There are hundreds of great and inspiring examples, all over the continent.

In less than two decades, Latin America converted itself from one of the most depressing parts of the world, to the most progressive one.

A few years ago, it really seemed that the Empire had finally lost. There was no way that South Americans would want to go back to the days of darkness. The achievements of socialism were too obvious, too marvelous. Who would want to go back to the gloomy nihilism, depressing feudal structures and the fascist client-state arrangements?

Then the Empire re-grouped. It gathered its local lieutenants, its lackeys, and began striking back with deadly force.

All the means of imperialist propaganda were applied. The goal was to convince people that what they see is not actually real. Another objective was to subvert, to torpedo most of the achievements.


We lost elections? What nonsense!

It was clean economic and political terror unleashed against us, and it was the most vicious propaganda, which began forcing out the left wing governments of Latin America from power!

The world was watching, still demanding more Western-style “democracy”, more concessions. The West administered a “Fifth Column” that damaged Latin American revolutions, after infiltrating both media and brains in Caracas, Buenos Aires, even Quito. It consisted especially of the liberals and those so-called ‘progressive forces’; the same people who tried to burry the Cuban revolution after the Soviet Union had been destroyed by Western imperialism. The same people actually who were cheering the demolition of the Soviet Union itself.

They kept pushing for anarchism and for some formulae of “participatory economy”, in fact for their own concepts, for Western, white concepts, for something that most of Latin American people who fought and won their revolutions never asked for!

Jealous and petty, they hate the true powerhouses of resistance against Western imperialism: Russia, China, Iran or South Africa and in fact, even Latin America itself.

Latin American people have always been intuitively longing for big, strong governments, like those in Cuba and those that lately emerged in Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador. And their natural allies should have been those countries from other, non-Western parts of the world, with powerful people-oriented leadership, not some European and North American individuals representing grotesque and defunct movements and “intellectual” concepts.

In several countries, Latin America lost its way and again got derailed by Western demagoguery. Suddenly there was almost nothing left here of Chinese or Russian or Vietnamese ideas, nothing of internationalism, only Western soft liberal egotists and countless irrelevant marginal groups.

History was forgotten. It was simple, decisive and powerful action by China that single-handedly saved Cuba, when the island-nation was hit by the Gorbachev and Yeltsin disasters. I wrote about it a lot, and Fidel quoted me, agreeing in his “Reflections”.

It was the Soviet Union that stood in solidarity with almost all revolutionary movements of Latin America throughout the 20th century. And it was Russia that was backing Chávez during the countless Western attempts to overthrow his government.


Playing with anarchism, liberalism and Euro-socialist concepts brought several Latin American revolutions to the brink of absolute calamity.

South America is at the frontline. It is under attack. There is no time for the flowery theories.

I know Latin American revolutionaries. I have met many, from Eduardo Galeano to several Cuban and Sandinista leaders.

I also met many of the South American ‘elites’.

One day, not long after Evo Morales came to power in Bolivia, I spoke to a man, a member of one of the ‘leading’ families, which has in its ranks Senators, owners of mass media outlets, as well as captains of local industry.

“We will get rid of Morales”, he told me, openly. “Because he is a dirty Indian, and because we will not tolerate lefties in this part of the world.”

He was not hiding his plans – he was extremely confident.

“We don’t care how much money we have to spend; we have plenty of money. And we have plenty of time. We will use our media and we will create food and consumer goods deficits. Once there is nothing to eat, once there are food lines in all the major cities, as well as great insecurity and violence, people will vote him out of power.”

It was clearly the concept used by the Chilean fascist economic and political right wing thugs, before the 1973 US-backed coup against President Salvador Allende. “Uncertainty, shortages”, and if everything failed – then a brutal military coup.

In Bolivia the “elites” tried and tried, but they were not successful, because there was great solidarity with the government of Evo Morales, coming from socialist countries like Brazil and Venezuela. When the Right tried to break the country to pieces, pushing for the independence of the richest, “white” province of Santa Cruz, Brazilian President Lula declared that he was going to send the mightiest army in the South American continent and “defend the integrity of the neighboring country”.

It is beasts, and actually extremely powerful beasts, who are heading the “opposition” in South America.

And to be frank, we can hardly speak about an “opposition”. These are oligarchs, landowners, Christian (many from the Opus Dei) demagogues and military leaders. In many ways they are still the true rulers of the continent.

Nothing except brute force can stop them. They have unlimited financial resources, they have a propaganda machine at their disposal, and they can always count on the Empire to back them up. In fact it is the Empire that is encouraging, training and sustaining them.


“Violations of democracy and human rights!” the “opposition” yells, whenever our governments decide to hit back. It is not that we are lately hitting back really hard, but any retaliation is packaged as “brutal”.

What do we in fact do? We arrest just a few of the most outrageous terrorists – those who are openly trying to overthrow or destabilize the state.

But when they, the ‘elites’ and their armies, came to power, they cut open people’s stomachs, and threw them from helicopters straight into the sea.

Their death squads violate children in front of their parents. Female prisoners are raped by specially trained German shepherds dogs, and tubes with starved rats are inserted into their vaginas.

Entire movements and parties are liquidated by fascist South American battalions of death (some of them trained in the United States), but we must use some nice and clean tactics and “democratic means” to prevent them from grabbing power again?

The white, racist, colonialist Christian implants from Europe have been forming so-called South American ‘elites’. They are actually some of the cruelest human beings on Earth. Thanks to them, before our latest wave of Revolutions, Latin America suffered from the greatest disparities on earth. Tens of millions of its people were murdered. It was racially divided. It was plundered. Its veins were, and to a great extent still are, open – to borrow from the terminology of the great storyteller Eduardo Galeano.

My friend Noam Chomsky wrote about it extensively. I wrote about it in several chapters of my two latest books: : “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”. Others have as well.

How can people still listen to those mass murderers, with a straight face?


One thing cannot be disputed: only a big and powerful government and its army could now defend its people. Latin American revolutionary leaders were given a mandate by the people, and they have no right to back up, to betray.

Indecisiveness could prove lethal.

Referendum after referendum, people expressed their support for the revolutionary Proceso, in Venezuela and elsewhere. Year after year the fascist “opposition” has been showing spite for the voices of the people, the same spite it has demonstrated for centuries.

Sabotage after sabotage was administered, one treasonous act after another committed. As was promised by the Bolivian ‘elites’, the Venezuelan capitalist bandits paralyzed their country by shortages. Even rolls of toilet paper became ‘a deficit’. All too familiar… Like in Chile before 1973!

The message is clear: “you want to be able to wipe your ass after shitting, then betray socialism!” Or: “You want to eat? Then down with the legacy of Chávez!”

The will of the people is being humiliated. The elites are spitting straight into the faces of the majority.

Some citizens are now voting for the right, simply because they are exhausted, because they are scared, because they see no solution. They are voting against their own will (as they used to in Nicaragua during the reign of Aleman), because if they vote for their own candidates, they would be made to eat shit, literally.

But solutions are there! They are available.

Instead of listening to some Euro-centric gurus from Slovenia or New England, the Latin American governments should ask for help and lean on such countries as Russia and China, immediately joining alternative financial institutions, forging defense treaties, working on energy and other deals with those who are actually standing up against Western imperialism.

Latin America should never lose its independence. But with proven good friends and true powerful alliances, independence is never lost.

Our leaders should shed their dependency on the Western Left. Mainly because the Western Left does not exist anymore, with some tiny, minuscule exceptions that proves the rule. What remain are a huge army of “liberals”, and then a tremendous multitude of selfish beings defending their own interests and concepts. They are horrified of those who are truly fighting and winning; therefore they openly hate Russia, China and other non-Western nations. Frankly, they are racist. Such people cannot inspire or impress anybody, and so they are trying their luck at the distant shores, diluting determination and perverting the essence of the South American revolutions.

This is the time to be focused. South America should fight, with all its might. It is not easy, but its treasonous families, those who are destroying the precious lives of tens of millions of human beings, should be identified, arrested and tried. It should be done immediately! What many of them are actually doing is not “being in opposition”. They are interrupting the democratic process in their own countries, selling their homelands once again to foreign powers and international capital.


Mass media outlets that are spreading misinformation, lies and foreign propaganda should also be immediately identified. They should be exposed, confronted, and if their goal is to destroy the socialist fatherland, shut down. Again, this is no time for liberal niceties.

Freedom of expression has nothing to do with the freedom of using newspapers and television stations to spread fabrications, fear and uncertainty, or to call for the direct overthrow of democratically elected governments.

And in South America, entire huge international newspaper and television syndicates have been working for years and decades for one single and deadly goal – to smear and liquidate the Left, and to deliver the entire continent back to the racist, fascist foreign imperialist rulers.

It has all gone too far, and it has to stop.

A few months ago, I was riding on the impressive Sao Paulo metro system, together with my Cuban friend.

“It is much better than any public transportation network that I have seen in Europe or in the United States”, I exclaimed.

“But people in Brazil think that it is total shit”, commented my friend, laconically.

“How come?” I was shocked.
“Because they are told so on the television, and because they read it in the newspapers”.

Yes, that’s how it is! Free art, including opera, given to the Brazilian public, is nothing more than crap, if one reads the mainstream Brazilian press. Free medical care, no matter how (still) imperfect it is, is not even worth praising. Free education in so many South American countries … New transportation networks, free or heavily subsidized books, brilliant parks with brand new libraries that are mushrooming in Chile and Ecuador… Financial support for the poor, the fight to keep children in school, the fight to save the environment, countless programs to protect indigenous communities…

Nothing, nothing, and absolutely nothing is positive in the eyes of the pro-Western South American propagandists!

This has become one huge counter-process, financed from foreign and local sources, aimed at discrediting all those great achievements.


Corruption!!! That is the new battle cry of the elites and their lackeys. Accusations of corruption are fabricated or inflated against all governments of the left: Dilma Rousseff in Brazil, Rafael Correa of Ecuador, Nicolas Maduro of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, even Michelle Bachelet of Chile. Cristina Kirchner’s back was almost broken by constant corruption charges.

But how on earth could anyone take such accusations seriously, if they are coming from those who have been plundering, for over 500 years, their own continent on behalf of Europe and then the United States and multi-national corporations? Like locust, the right-wing families have been looting all the natural resources, while forcing people into near slave labor. Under horrendous feudal and fascist rulers, Latin America was converted into the pinnacle of corruption – moral and economic.

Nothing was left intact, and nothing remained pure. In order to survive in such a vile system, people had to bend, twist, and maneuver.

Now these same bandit clans that have been destroying the continent are smearing, pointing fingers at the governments that are, step by step, trying to reverse the trend and serve the people.

The same bastards that were bombing restaurants and hotels in their own countries, planting bombs on passenger airliners, and assassinating thousands of innocent people, are talking about morality.

Are our people, our governments, expected to reach, to achieve total purity in just one or two decades, after the entire continent had been functioning for over 500 years as a bordello of Western colonialism and imperialism?

Are we going to allow ourselves to be on the defensive when facing those who robbed and raped almost everything and everybody in Latin America?


Yes, the people of Latin America were brutalized for several long centuries. They went through unimaginable suffering. They lost everything. But they never gave up. Since the holocaust performed by Spanish, Portuguese and other European barbaric conquerors, they have been rising, rebelling and fighting for their scarred land.

Pablo Neruda wrote a tremendous poem “Heights of Machu Picchu.” Eduardo Galeano wrote “Open Veins of Latin America”. It is all there, in those two tremendous works.

The fight goes on, to this very moment.

Most of the power is now, finally, in the hands of those who are determined to fight for the interests of their people.

We have no right to be defeated. If we do, hundreds of millions will lose their future and their hope.

Such an opportunity would not come back. It is here, for the first time in 500 years! Millions died to bring it here. If the Revolution is crashed now, it may not return in full force for who knows how many years. In simple terms it means that several more generations would be lost!

We have to counterattack now. What are we waiting for? Of what are we afraid? That the biggest terrorist on Earth – the West – would brand us as undemocratic? That the same West that has, for centuries, overthrown our governments, murdered our leaders as well as simple men, women and children would not give us its stamp of approval? That we would be criticized by those countries, which are still looting, violating, lying and ruining?

Our friends, our allies are not in the West. We all know how lukewarm was the support given to Venezuela, Cuba or Ecuador in Europe and North America by those “progressive forces”, and how hostile was the mainstream. We have to wake up and join forces with those who are now standing proudly and with great determination against Western imperialism and market fundamentalism.

There is no time for experiments. This is the fight for our survival!

As I wrote earlier, in order for the Revolutions to continue, we need big governments, determined cadres, loyal armies and mighty allies. We also need huge Latin American solidarity, true unity and integration. One monolithic South American block in fraternal embrace with other truly independent countries.

This is an extremely serious moment, Comrades! This is damn serious.

Anarchism and the concepts of the factories administered by workers will not save us right now.

Argentina has fallen, but Venezuela is still standing. Each creek, each boulder has now to be defended, be it in Brazil, Uruguay, Ecuador, Bolivia, Chile, Venezuela, Nicaragua or Cuba.

We have to be tough, we have to be alert, and we cannot do it alone!

Venceremos nuevamente, camaradas!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
More articles by:Andre Vltchek

Middle East and Energy Markets - January 2016

Global Energy Advisory - 8th January 2016

by Inside Intelligence with Southern Pulse -

This week, there is nothing more critical than the extension of the Sunni-Shiite conflict into a much more significant proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran.

As many will have already noted, the outlook for oil prices in light of this is bearish because for the first time in decades, OPEC has no chance of coming together in a unified position and we cannot get past the supply glut for now.

But on a conflict level, this proxy war indicates more than anything that things have spiraled out of control.

Politics, Geopolitics & Conflict

We have noted in previous briefings that while the Shi'ite radical groups can largely be controlled by Iran, the Sunnis can be controlled by no one--they have no real master at this point, which makes them the more dangerous. Saudi Arabia is panicking because it cannot control its own monster, but also because it has run out of friends, with the Americans having largely cut them off, Russians applying immense pressure and Iran far too strong to go to war with in any other way than through proxy manners and venues.

This will add another grueling element to the already catastrophic Syrian conflict, which is one of the key venues for this proxy war--and also a topic that Oilprice will be covering in-depth in the coming weeks in its news section. The beheadings of key Shi'ite figures by the Saudis--after languishing in prison for about a decade--shows the Saudis weak hand in this conflict, and the Iranian response will be much stronger indicatively.

Also keep a close eye on Libya, another conflict venue that has become much bloodier as the Syrian conflict expands and intensifies. On 7 January, more than 50 people were killed and scores of others injured in a suicide bomb attack at a police training camp in Zliten, on the coast. At the time of writing, bodies were still being pulled from the rubble and no claim of responsibility had been made.

We are also monitoring the wider geopolitical fallout from the Russian-Turkey spat, which this week has led to some interesting developments--all of which hold great significance for the future map of oil and gas and particularly oil and gas exports. Russia's Tartarstan regional government is not happy with Moscow's decision to cut ties with Turkey following the Turkish downing of a Russian jet over airspace on the Turkish-Syrian border. Tartarstan President Rustom Minnikhanov is now openly opposing the Kremlin on this issue, and this is highly significant as the tendency is for no one to defy Putin. Minnekhanov has gone as far as to state that Turkish businesses many continue to operate in Tartarstan. The Tartars are close to the Turks, speaking a Turkic language and being predominately Muslim. There have always been close ties between this Russian republic and Turkey and investments from Turkey have been sizable.

One can also read much into the fact that on 1 January 2016, the Central Asia nation of Kazakhstan--a former Soviet country--effectively banned Russian channels from its cable TV networks.

And in Ukraine, Ukrainian electricity to Russian-annexed Crimea has been cut off again, right before the New Year. This is the second time in three months and the cut-off was likely caused by activists fighting against the Russian annexation. This is not an official move. In November, activists succeeded in temporarily cutting off Ukrainian power to Crimea by blowing up a power transmission line tower on the provincial border. After the November incident, power was restored fairly quickly, but this time around that may not be the case because Kiev is under no contractual obligation to supply Crimea with power. The contract has expired and there is no reason to believe the Moscow and Kiev will be able to come to any terms for a new agreement under the current frozen conflict conditions.

Discovery & Development

• Royal Dutch Shell has started natural gas production from its offshore Corrib field in northwestern Ireland. At peak production, this field is expected to reach 260 MMscfd of gas, or 45,000 boe/d. Also at its peak, Shell notes that the production potential could meet as much as 60% of Ireland’s gas needs. Six wells have been drilled at the field so far. Gas is being transported via pipeline to the Bellanaboy Bridge gas terminal. This is a joint venture with Shell serving as operator with 45%. The other partners are Norway's Statoil with 36.5% and Vermilion Energy Ireland with 18.5%. Corrib was discovered by Enterprise Oil in 1996, and was acquired by Shell in 2002. Shell became the operator in 2004.

• Myanmar-based MPRL E&P and its partners, Woodside Petroleum and French Total SA, have made a natural gas discovery in a well offshore Myanmar (formerly Burma). The Shwe Yee Htun-1 exploration well, located off Myanmar’s west coast in the Rakhine Basin, encountered approximately 49 feet of net gas pay. MPRL has a 20% stake in the block. Woodside and Total each have 40%. Myanmar has estimated proven gas reserves of 10 trillion cubic feet and proven oil reserves of 50 million barrels. The government opened up the country to foreign investors only in 2010. This is still a very risky venue.

• Abu Dhabi National Energy Company (TAQA) has produced its first oil from the new Cladhan field development in the UK's North Sea. The field is located in the northern North Sea, approximately 100 kilometers north east of the Shetland Islands in a water depth of approximately 150 meters. TAQA expects an initial production rate from Cladhan at around 10,000 barrels of oil equivalent per day. TAQA is operator of Cladhan, with a 64.5% interest. Its partners are Sterling Resources (UK) Ltd (2%) and Hungary's state-run MOL Group (33.5%).

• Valeura Energy has made a natural gas discovery in its first exploration well in Turkey's Thrace Basin. This is the Bati-gurgen-1 well in the Banarli licences. The well flowed at an initial restricted rate of 3.4 million cubic feet per day, and is currently shut-in awaiting completion of the pipeline tie-in to the dehydration facility near the well. Valeura owns a 40% interest in the facility, which is located approximately three km to the southeast on the joint venture lands acquired from Thrace Basin Natural Gas (Turkiye) Corporation (TBNG) and Pinnacle Turkey. We do, however, caution against energy investments in Turkey presently due to the geopolitical situation that is significantly complicating exports and Turkey's ambitions of becoming an energy hub.

• Oil explorer Cairn Energy has recorded its first successful production test at its SNE oilfield in Senegal. The company reported high-quality oil at a rate of 8,000 barrels per day. Cairn owns 40% of the SNE field, along with its partners: ConocoPhillips 35%, FAR 15%, and Senegal's state-run Petrosen 10%. Cairn got the green light last year to start drilling on the site. Data from the appraisal well will be used to update the resource estimates for the SNE field, near its previous FAN-1 discovery.

Deals, Mergers & Acquisitions

• Iranian shipbuilder ISOICO and Russian yard Krasnye Barrikady will jointly build rigs for oil and gas exploration and production in the Middle East Gulf waters. Russian Krasnye Barrikady shipyard will build rigs for exploration and production of oil and gas. The deal was signed in December in Tehran. That same month, Iran's ISOICO also signed a preliminary agreement with South Korea’s Hyundai Heavy Industries and MoU with Nordic Yards Wismar, Germany’s biggest shipbuilder. The idea would be for this to take off once international sanctions against Iran are lifted--hence the preliminary nature of the agreement. So where are we with Iran sanctions? Right now, we're waiting for the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to confirm that Iran has met its obligations, and you should be prepared to read a great deal of geopolitics into this decision rather than focusing on the technical aspects of whether Iran has met its obligations or not. Iran and the six international mediators signed a deal last July to settle the standoff over Iran's nuclear program. Iran has already announced a package of contracts and plans of increasing oil exports to pre-sanctions level of 2.2 million barrels per day once the sanctions are lifted.

• Shell has agreed to sell its New Zealand natural gas pipeline transmission system, the Maui Pipeline, to two Australian infrastructure funds managed by First State Investments for $228 million. Shell's minority partners in this are Austria's OMV and Todd. The Maui Pipeline has been in business for over 35 years and transports 78%of New Zealand's natural gas. So why is Shell selling? Well, the supergiant is actually considering divesting across the board in New Zealand as it attempts to streamline its global portfolio in the aftermath of the $70-billion takeover of BG Group. In terms of the Maui Pipeline deal, regulatory approval is still underway, but the deal is expected to be completed mid this year. First State Investments recently agreed to purchase 100% of Vector Gas Ltd., which owns the Vector gas transmission network and distribution assets in New Zealand, so this buy makes sense for the Australians.

Strange Bedfellows: George W. Bush and Fathering North Korea's Bomb

Khan Job: Bush Spiked Probe of Pakistan's Dr. Strangelove, BBC reported in 2001

by Greg Palast

February 9, 2004

On November 7, 2001, BBC Television's Newsnight and the Guardian of London reported that the Bush administration thwarted investigations of Dr. A.Q. Khan, known as the "father" of Pakistan's atomic bomb. This week, Khan confessed to selling atomic secrets to Libya, North Korea, and Iran.

The Bush Administration has expressed shock at disclosures that Pakistan, our ally in the war on terror, has been running a nuclear secrets bazaar.

In fact, according to the British news teams' sources within US intelligence agencies, shortly after President Bush's inauguration, his National Security Agency (NSA) effectively stymied the probe of Khan Research Laboratories, the Pakistani agency in charge of the bomb project.

CIA and other agents told BBC they could not investigate the spread of 'Islamic Bombs' through Pakistan because funding appeared to originate in Saudi Arabia.

Greg Palast and David Pallister received a California State University Project Censored Award for this expose based on the story broadcast by Palast on BBC television's top current affairs program.

According to both sources and documents obtained by the BBC, the Bush Administration 'spike' of the investigation of Dr. Khan's Lab followed from a wider policy of protecting key Saudi Arabians including the Bin Laden family.

Noam Chomsky, after reading the story on page one of the Times of India, commented, "Why wasn't this all over US papers?"

To learn why, read the following excerpt from the 2003 edition of Palast's book, The Best Democracy Money Can Buy:

The "Back-Off" Directive and the Islamic Bomb

... A top-level CIA operative who spoke with us [at BBC Television] on condition of strictest anonymity said that, after Bush took office, "There was a major policy shift" at the National Security Agency. Investigators were ordered to "back off " from any inquiries into Saudi Arabian financing of terror networks, especially if they touched on Saudi royals and their retainers. That put the Bin Ladens, a family worth a reported $12 billion and a virtual arm of the Saudi royal household, off limits for investigation. Osama was the exception; he remained a wanted man, but agents could not look too closely at how he filled his piggy bank. The key rule of any investigation, "follow the money," was now violated, and investigations-at least before September 11-began to die.

And there was a lot to investigate-or in the case of the CIA and FBI under Bush-a lot to ignore. Through well-known international arms dealers (I'm sorry, but in this business, sinners are better sources than saints) our team was tipped off to a meeting of Saudi billionaires at the Hotel Royale Monceau in Paris in May 1996 with the financial representative of Osama bin Laden's network. The Saudis, including a key Saudi prince joined by Muslim and non-Muslim gun traffickers, met to determine who would pay how much to Osama. This was not so much an act of support but of protection-a pay off to keep the mad bomber away from Saudi Arabia.

The crucial question here is that, if I could learn about this meeting, how did the CIA miss it? In fact, since the first edition of this book, other sources have disclosed that the meeting was monitored by French intelligence. Since U.S. intelligence was thus likely informed, the question becomes, Why didn't our government immediately move against the Saudis?

I probed our CIA contact for specifics of investigations that were hampered by orders to back off of the Saudis. He told us that the Khan Laboratories investigation had been effectively put on hold.

You may never have heard of Khan Laboratories, but if this planet blows to pieces this year, it will likely be thanks to Khan Labs' creating nuclear warheads for Pakistan's military. Because investigators had been tracking the funding for this so-called "Islamic Bomb" back to Saudi Arabia, under Bush security restrictions, the inquiry was stymied. (The restrictions were lifted, the agent told me without a hint of dark humor, on September 11.)

Dr. A. Q. Khan is the Dr. Strangelove of Pakistan, the "father" of their bomb and, says a former associate, a crusader for its testing . . . on humans. On April 25, 1998, Khan met at the Kushab Research Center with General Jehangir Karamat, then army chief of staff, to plan a possible preemptive nuclear strike on New Delhi, India. The Saudis lit a fuse under this demented scheme by telling Pakistan intelligence that Israel had shipped India warplanes in preparation for a conventional attack on Pakistan. We only know these details because a young researcher who claims he was at the meeting wrote a horrified letter threatening to make the plan to bomb India public, a threat which appears to have halted the scheme.

After writing down his objections, the whistle-blower, Iftikhar Khan-Chaudhry, ran for his life to London, then the USA, seeking asylum. Khan-Chaudhry, when questioned, seemed to know too little to be the top nuclear physicist he claimed, and far too much about A. Q. Khan's bomb factory to be the tile company accountant Pakistan claims. Pakistan police, failing to arrest him, jailed, beat and raped his wife, suggesting they wanted him to keep secret something more interesting than bookkeeping methods.

Whether his story was real or bogus, I can't possibly tell. The point is that intelligence agencies under Clinton, based on many other leads as well, were following up on the Saudi connection until the Bush team interfered.

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Seizing the Peace: Calls from Rocky Mountain Fort to Spare Peace River Valley BCHydro Folly

Looking for support at the Rocky Mountain Fort

by Arlene Boon -  Peace Valley Landowner Assoc

Hello supporters; as you probably know, First Nations and landowners are camped at the Rocky Mountain Fort. We have been successful in stopping the logging at the mouth of the Moberly. At this time we are setting up more accommodations.

Ken has been there since December 30th, and needs a break.

We even have people that have come up from Vancouver to go to the camp. There is good momentum and support and we need to keep the pressure on. What we are asking for is more supporters to come in to camp and help save the Peace valley.

We would like to rotate persons in and out on a weekly bases but if you could even help for a few days at a time, every day counts. If you can please also pass this on and help spread the work load and word it would be greatly appreciated.

What is required is people that are able to work well with others, willing to experience a winter adventure, able to get around in the bush, good health, and jack of all trades is an asset. (sounds like a job posting).

The location is not that easy to access and it is very important that anyone wanting to go in contact Arlene Boon. Please email me or call and I can give you more details of what is required.



Explains the photo attached. Never underestimate the power of one woman. I walked onto this logging site this morning. One machine and 8 people on the ground. Told the‪ #‎SITEC contractor I was not leaving so they moved the machine back to the bridge and the people left. January 6, 2016. Back to Rocky Mountain Fort I go.

Peace Valley Landowner Assoc.
Ken Boon, President
SS#2, Site 12, Comp 19
Fort St. John, BC V1J 4M7

Email address:
Facebook page:

Thursday, January 07, 2016

Blame It On Allah: Paris Police Gun Down Unarmed Youth

One year after Charlie Hebdo attack: Police gun down youth in poor Paris neighborhood

by Stéphane Hugues  - WSWS

8 January 2016

On Thursday, the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack, police gunned down a youth outside a police station in northern Paris. While government officials differed in their accounts of the motivation of the victim and how the police had killed him, witnesses flatly contradicted police accounts of the shooting and said police had shot an unarmed man without warning.

The shooting took place at midday in front of the Commissariat of Police for a poor and heavily immigrant neighborhood, the “Goutte d’Or” in the 18th district of Paris.

The victim was Sallah Ali, a 20-year-old Moroccan born in Casablanca but living homeless in France. He had had a single brush with the police in 2013, where he was arrested for stealing in the town of Sainte-Maxime in the Var region of the south of France. He was positively identified by his fingerprints that were taken at the time, as he had no identity papers.

Interior Minister Bernard Cazeneuve and the Paris prefect of Police arrived only half an hour after the killing, making clear that the highest levels of the Socialist Party (PS) government of Prime Minister Manuel Valls and President François Hollande were intervening.

They closed down the underground Paris Metro trains in the vicinity, ordered a mass deployment of security forces, and put the entire Goutte d’Or neighborhood on lockdown. Riflemen deployed across Paris under the terms of the PS’s state of emergency were placed on alert.

Only 45 minutes after the shooting, French Interior Ministry spokesman Pierre-Henry Brandet went on BFMTV to report that Ali, armed with a knife and an explosive belt, had shouted “Allah Akbar” (God is great in Arabic) whilst trying to assault a police officer at the entrance to the Commissariat.

Only 25 minutes later, this account of the shooting started to fall apart. A bomb disposal unit that had arrived at the scene analyzed the belt worn by Ali and said that it contained no explosives. There was no sign of a knife, but a big butcher’s cleaver was found near Ali.

Witnesses to the shooting contradicted Brandet’s account. BFMTV interviewed them and reported, “Many witnesses have assured BFMTV that the assailant of the Commissariat…did not cry out ‘Allah Akbar.’ Many of the witnesses said that he never even pronounced these words: ‘When he arrived, he was acting normally,’ said one of them.”
BFMTV continued, “Witnesses state that the man was not armed. ‘He was not armed at all,’ stated a woman who had seen the assailant. The Police officers told him ‘back-up, back-up, back-up’ then ‘he backed up whilst raising his hands,’ she said. But the man moved forward again towards the Police officers and they shot him three times.”

At about 3 p.m., the State Prosecutor’s office announced that it was charging Sallah Ali with aggressing police officers as representatives of the state. Then at 3:45, it announced that “a portable telephone and a paper that had a Daesh [Islamic State in Iraq and Syria] flag on it with a clearly formulated handwritten demand in Arabic” had been found on Ali’s body.

The Prosecutor’s office then repeated the claim that Ali had cried “Allah Akbar” as he moved toward the Police officers. The case was then transferred to the Special Anti-Terrorist Prosecutor.

It was later confirmed that the ISIS flag on the paper was amateurishly drawn with a marker. As for the handwritten demand, authorities said it was a pledge of allegiance to Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi, the self-proclaimed leader of ISIS, referring to “acts to avenge the deaths in Syria.”

The Interior Ministry’s attempts to present Ali as a terrorist are simply not credible. One policeman speaking to the right-wing daily Le Figaro expressed disbelief at PS allegations that Ali was carrying out a terrorist attack. He said, “running at armed policemen wearing bulletproof vests wearing a fake explosive belt, is bizarre. It’s even suicidal.”

The Prosecutor’s office’s account was also contradicted by Justice Minister Christine Taubira, who said, “What is very clear from what is known about this person, [it is that he] has no link to violent radicalization, none at all.”

“A fake suicide belt, shouting, the statement of loyalty in his pocket, these are signs that can indicate belonging to a [terrorist] network, but they can also be signs of instability. The investigation will shed light on all of this,” she added.

The police killing of Sallah Ali points to the vast shift to the right in the French political establishment that has taken place in the year since the Kouachi brothers carried out a terrorist attack killing 11 people at the editorial offices of the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo. The PS organized a mass national demonstration after the attack, proclaiming a period of national unity based on a police buildup, supposedly to protect free expression and liberty of the press.

What has unfolded over the last year was not a flowering of democracy in France, however, but an accelerating movement towards police-state rule led by the PS. Law-and-order and anti-Muslim moods have helped the neo-fascist National Front (FN) to consolidate its place in the political establishment, and since the November 13 terrorist attacks, the PS placed France in a state of emergency. This gives the PS wide police powers, including to censor the press.

The PS is proposing a measure to deprive citizens of their nationality if they carry out terrorism-related offenses. This measure was long associated with the FN and, before it, to the deprivation of Jews’ French nationality during the Holocaust in fascist Europe during World War II.

The division inside the PS over the police killing of Ali reflects the debate that has roiled the government since then, with Taubira criticizing PS support for deprivation of nationality while the bulk of the government supported it.

The killing of Ali emerges directly from this poisonous and reactionary political climate. As the PS promotes law-and-order hysteria to help ram through a constitutional amendment to enshrine a permanent state of emergency in the French constitution, 100,000 soldiers and police are patrolling the streets on full alert. With jittery and heavily armed men deployed across the country, it is likely only a matter of time before another person is gunned down by security forces in the streets of France.

The author also recommends:
“Free Speech” hypocrisy in the aftermath of the attack on Charlie Hebdo[9 January 2015]