Saturday, June 11, 2016
Some Sober Lessons for Bernie Sanders Supporters
by Gary Leupp - CounterPunch
June 10, 2016
As the wizard Gandalf declared during the darkest hour: “There never was much hope… Just a fool’s hope.”
The narrow thread of hope now rests on the Justice Department investigation into Hillary Clinton’s illegal concealment of her emails from the State Department she headed from 2009 to 2012. If she’s hit by a true scandal between now and the Philadelphia convention in July, all bets could be off.
The email server matter is of course an internal ruling class issue that doesn’t much concern the masses on a moral level. But it just might—just by chance (what Hegel called “the cunning of history”)—produce an unexpected, positive result.
It would be awesome to wake up to the headline: CLINTON INDICTED.
Or imagine in your dreams the headline: CLINTON WALL STREET SPEECH TRANSCRIPT LEAKED: TELLS GOLDMAN SACHS “I’M YOUR GAL.”
I wouldn’t count on it, though. It’s not like there’s a God out there who’s going to intervene with a miracle and save us from this preordained presidency. Let’s assume that—just as the whole political process is rigged to support the establishment, the whole economy rigged to support the billionaire class, and the whole judiciary rigged to cover up abuses—the FBI investigation into Clinton’s emails is likewise rigged to, at the end of the day, exonerate the very picture of corruption. And that anyone sitting on those embarrassing speech transcripts will sit on them until one of them finds reason to sell them, months from now.
As John Lennon, in his anguished, brutally honest song “God” put it: The dream is over.
The fact is that Tuesday’s news was very, very bad. As the Hillary cheering squads trumpet her triumph, nauseating us until we can vomit no more, and as the drone-master president Barack Obama overtly endorses her bid to beat the world into submission, serious Bernie supporters might—I humbly suggest—draw the following hard-truth conclusions.
U.S. “democracy” is in general a farce. You weren’t taught this in high school “civics” (those of you who were in schools where such classes are still even taught). How could you be? It’s not really allowed in this free country.
But now you’ve experienced the farce personally. And of course it makes you angry, as it should.
Some of you’ve known or suspected this all along. And in fact this American “democracy” has always been a farce, from the beginnings when the franchise was limited to a small stratum of propertied white men, including slave-holders in the top ranks; to the Jacksonian era when the franchise vastly expanded (alongside the widening scale of slavery); to the Gilded Age when money bought government on an unprecedented scale; to the present sorry state of affairs in which two parties (equally beholden to Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, and the One Percent) politely trade off the presidency insuring that Capital will ever more thoroughly control our lives—while people imagine that “well, at least in our system there’s competition.”
The right to vote, we are told—from schoolteachers, politicians and civil rights leaders alike—is sacrosanct and precious. Rather like the right to, if you’re a Roman Catholic, participate in the Eucharist service. But of course if you don’t believe in the premises of that ritual (the idea that Jesus died for your sins, and that the wine once consecrated becomes his blood, etc.) involvement in that rite is rather meaningless.
(Surely some skeptical churchgoers go along with it, for family and community reasons, just for form’s sake. And one can cast a political ballot for form’s sake as well, pretending you believe it will make a difference—-although you don’t really think it will— just to show what a good and responsible citizen you are. Every North Korean understands such feelings.)
But as you might have noticed—over time in this country, the voting ritual has as much co-opted people as empowered them. Women have had the right to vote nationally since 1920, but it wasn’t voting rights but mass struggle from the sixties that edged us a little bit closer towards gender equality. And (as the Clinton case plainly demonstrates), it’s mostly been a case of affording ruling-class women equal rights with ruling-class men to do, just with broader legitimacy, what the ruling class has always done.
The official (tame) narrative about the Civil Rights movement locates its central moment as the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965 which more thoroughly incorporated black people into the electoral farce. As though “winning the right to vote” has made African-American people any less likely to be incarcerated, killed by police, or subject to lives of poverty since then.
The fact is, during Bill Clinton’s administration, the number of young black men in prison reached the number of young back men in slavery in 1860. There’s no apparent empirical connection between the extension of the franchise within this farcical system and the real well being of the people. The advantage to the system is that it actually inculcates in the ordinary person the thought that he or she has actually voted for the prevailing state of affairs and is therefore co-responsible.
“Well, it’s our own damn fault,” you’re supposed to say, and “People get the rulers they deserve.” But you don’t believe that, surely.
The spectacle of (wealthy, privileged) African-American women news anchors and commentators—like Joy-Ann Reid on MSNBC—touting the destroyer of Libya as an advocate for women and people of color, while disdainfully dismissing Bernie from the get-go (as an old white socialist Jew with little appeal among African-Americans), shows you how the system corrupts, and corrupts absolutely.
When you vote in the rigged system, you vote not so much for a particular candidate as you vote for the system itself. You testify thereby that you really believe in it, that you think—regardless of the (usually distasteful) choices—you’re at least grateful you can participate in it, thus legitimating whatever outcome occurs. You’re saying: “Thank you, System, for allowing me too, to express my loyalty.”
But you don’t need to do that. You sure as hell don’t need to choose between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton.
Over the last quarter century, between 50 and 55% of eligible voters in this country have participated in the presidential election farce, kissing the system’s ass and allowing it every four years to shout from its rooftops: The people have spoken! Even though the people didn’t say much at all, actually! They stood in front of a slot machine, holding their noses maybe, pulled the handle and chose Tweedledum over Tweedledee in the quadrennial rip-off, their choice shaped mostly by the “fourth estate”—the establishment press.
Comcast, News Corp, Viacom, Disney, Time Warner and CBS provide 80% of the mainstream media news. These conglomerates don’t constitute an official state propaganda apparatus; they don’t need to! But they serve as the system’s Pravda–-just much, much more effectively than the Soviet press ever did. The well-educated Soviet people generally knew the state media was skewed. In contrast, many Americans actually believe the corporate media is “objective.” That’s its great strength, and that’s why it’s such a magnificent tool for oppression.
Not only is the mainstream media in bed with the State Department, framing its assessment of global events through consultation with the active warmongers, actively spreading their lies about Iraq or Libya or Ukraine on request. It’s also a vehicle for the routine, constant promotion of the system itself—in ways you take for granted and hence might not even notice.
One out of every four minutes you spend watching television news, you’re treated to commercials. Okay we just need to take a break now, says Chris Cuomo, without adding: to advertise the people who own us, allow us to say whatever we say, and want to shape your opinions.
Cigarette packages require a health warning; news packages do not. You’re not told: Warning: The news coverage you are about to see has been vetted through our bourgeois sponsors to exclude any embarrassing exposure about themselves.
The “messages from our sponsors” are a kind of tax on your viewing pleasure. You get some filtered news about current events, and the sponsors in turn get your hard-earned money. You can of course use the time to pee, go to the refrigerator or check your emails. But often as not you just sit there, watching, a passive vessel of consumerist vulnerability. The marketing of commodities (the profitable sale of the products of mostly Third World human labor-power) makes everything possible. It’s the very premise of this civilization.
Somebody has to profit from what you’re told about today’s events. And you’re supposed to accept the idea that—why yes, of course—there have to be corporate sponsors for the news.
(But sit back a moment and wonder if that really makes sense. Will our descendents a hundred years from now be so subject to the rule of capital, and the principle of capitalist profit still intercede in all our interactions with other people and access to information about them? Can’t we as a species—having mapped our human genome, identified terrestrial exo-planets, learned how to grow human organs in other animals and in labs and accomplished other mind-boggling miracles—do better than that?)
In these (still-primitive) times, to get your TV news, you need to imbibe, not government propaganda but the advertisement of capitalism itself. There’s no way that corporate America will sponsor news critical to itself; if a program becomes “radical” it will protest by withdrawing its patronage. (So much for freedom of the press; you are absolutely free to broadcast what your corporate backers are willing to sponsor.)
American capitalism doesn’t require a political dictatorship to retain its grip; it constitutes a dictatorship (of what Bernie has called the “billionaire class”) simply through its legal, mundane, seldom questioned control exerted through capital. It’s a class dictatorship as powerful and effective as any dictatorship imposed by an individual.
The Democratic Party’s primary system and super-delegates are specifically designed to prevent change. The Democratic primaries are “front-loaded” to include most of the historically most conservative southern states early on in the process. Clinton swept the southern states on “Super Tuesday” and claimed a commanding lead from that point. In so doing, she counted in each state the “superdelegates.” These are Democratic members of the House and Senate and sitting Democratic governors, and other “distinguished party leaders” who can be counted upon to support the party establishment’s candidate and preserve the power structure because that’s what they do.
After the Democratic National Convention delegates nominated candidates who the party leadership saw as “insurgents” (quasi-antiwar candidate George McGovern in 1972, and “outsider” peanut farmer Jimmy Carter in 1976), these leaders decided to strengthen insider decision-making by appointing such unelected delegates. Their numbers rose from 14% of the total delegates in 1984 to 20% in 2008. Almost all these “superdelegates” were in Hillary’s pocket even before Bernie announced his candidacy. And the apportionment of delegates from some states where Bernie won big-time were virtually equal to both candidates.
Of course it’s not fair. It’s not supposed to be. Repeat: it’s a farce, at the end of which they want you to say, “Okay, well that’s the system, those are the rules, this is the best we can do.” To this, you have the constitutional right if not moral duty to say: Sorry, no thanks, I won’t be hoodwinked, and I’m not gonna defile myself.
There are unusual aspects to this particular farce, revealing a system in deep, deep doo-doo. In this particular electoral season, due to the depth of voters’ disillusionment—based on decades of economic stagnation and the miserable conditions facing youth, especially since 2008—the stage-managers of the Two Party System lost control of the farcical process early on.
A racist narcissistic blowhard buffoon crushed his “mainstream” Republican hopefuls, aided by the corporate media that (for reasons that need to be analyzed) covered his every move and rambling incoherent rant, sparing him the need to even purchase ad time.
Even as the news anchors expressed perplexity and horror at his rise, the news producers (did you notice—because it looked like a matter of policy) accorded him a hundred times the air-time they deigned to allow Bernie. The Donald rambled on and on about building a wall, and Muslims hating us, and how great he was doing in the polls, in flow-of-consciousness inchoate homilies respectfully covered as “breaking news.”
Meanwhile Bernie’s pointed speeches to thousands merely served as the muted backdrop to reporters ignoring his message but covering the story, as it were, as a weird sociological phenomenon. Gosh, why are all these millenials flocking to a socialist of all things?
That more than sucks. It’s extremely insulting to the human mind, in a society that’s supposed to be “democratic.”
This race has not been determined so far by direct corporate contributions, in the traditional manner. Neither did Trump became the (presumptive) Republican nominee because he outspent his challengers from his own deep pockets. Rather, the chief decision-makers in that tiny corporate-media world elected to not just present him as a normal sort of candidate, worthy of respectful treatment, but to indeed accord him extraordinary amounts of free air-time to reach out to his Neanderthal base.
Time and again news programs broke to “breaking news,” which turned out to be The Donald saying the same damn shit again. Bernie’s appearances were ignored. Fair?
Trump’s simple message—of making America “great again” (as it was at some undefined point in the past)—appeals to many of the least educated and most alienated, much as neo-fascist movements do throughout Europe.
Still, Bernie has given Hillary Clinton—who holds what the pundits call “high unfavorables,” and is widely perceived as dishonest, and as former secretary of state has blood all over her hands—a run for her money. But the grotesque Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Democratic National Committee chair and Hillary shill posturing as “neutral” in the Clinton-Sanders match, has been more successful than her Republican counterpart in steering her party’s race towards the pre-programmed coronation.
In the end, Wall Street has won out. The One Percent that controls the country in all spheres will be equally happy with a Goldman Sachs groupie plagued by a State Department security breach scandal or a billionaire basket case plagued by a bogus university rip-off scandal; either might serve to captain the ship of state, preserving just sufficient confidence in the system itself and suppressing mutinies for the next few years.
Expect the top 10% of the top One Percent to expand its share over that time, while you work two jobs, keep living with your parents and try to meet your monthly student loan payments. The next president whoever it might be will express love, sympathy and encouragement, and gratitude for your precious vote.
The system wants to suck you in, and make you think it’s somehow “yours.” Hillary will soon come calling, you know, beaming that artificial smile, praising you for your youthful energy and enthusiasm, and thanking Bernie for “bringing you into the system.” She’s actually said to him: “Thank you so much for energizing the party!”
That, for her, is his huge historical contribution: rounding you up like sheep for the slaughter and delivering her into her motherly embrace. (“It takes a village to raise a child,” she says, knowing so well from experience that it takes a bomb to raze a Libyan village including its children, while she cackles in hilarity.)
You remember that old fairy tale in which Little Red Riding Hood visits her grandma, who in fact is a wolf in disguise with the real grandma already eaten and in his belly? And how the girl observes, “What a big mouth you have,” rather like Hillary’s big raspy mouth? And how in the story, the fake grandma responds: The better to eat you with, with my dear?
Because that’s what Hillary’s telling you now. She wants to chew you up and spit you out, maybe on the Libyan, Syrian or Iraqi desert if you (lacking other job options) sign up to do what they call “fight for your country.” (Even though you don’t actually, as you know, really have a country that needs fighting for. And even though you realize that over 4000 U.S. troops died in Iraq—in a war based on lies that she shrilly championed,—not dying “for their country,” and certainly not for you, but for U.S. imperialism and Wall Street.)
She’ll repeatedly applaud your “idealism”—a smug euphemism for what she privately sneers at as your adolescent naïveté. But if you have any self-respect, her condescension should repel you. You should recoil in horror. And when the slick operatives posturing as journalists or “analysts” on the cable news networks talk about how “the differences between the campaigns are actually narrow” and “can be smoothed over at the convention” you should feel free to go puke, taking your time, and then reply as follows.
Okay look. Let me put it this way.
Sometimes I’m invited to a party.
I know I won’t like the people who will be there.
And I won’t like the food.
So I decline. That’s reasonable, right?
Well, that’s how I feel now when I’m invited to this bullshit presidential election.
I mean, pleeease.. .are you kidding me?
Trump or Clinton? God, what a nightmare.
Is this really happening?
I resent the suggestion that in this populous country of well educated, decent people the two candidates blessed by the two Wall Street parties are the best we can do.
That’s just—excuse me—fucking shit.
Sorry. I don’t like the choices.
I don’t like how Bernie was excluded, disrespected and taken for granted. And I don’t like being taken for granted either.
I resent the idea that I need to hold my nose, voting for this shit or that shit.
I reject the notion that by abstaining entirely I assist one candidate over the other.
I supported Bernie because he seemed to challenge the system.
You, Hillary Clinton, on the other hand, are the very system itself, every bit as much as Trump (and maybe even more).
Don’t insult me with your invitation to taint myself. Go away!
The successes of the Sanders campaign, such as they are, show that another world is in fact possible. The ability of the system to fuck with the human mind has shrunk with the advent of the Internet and the availability of alternative sources of information. Social media have empowered people to more easily and effectively mobilize. For example, cell-phone cameras have generated unprecedented awareness of the routine occurrence of police murder and helped people start to push back against it, although not nearly enough.
The Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter movements helped give rise to the Bernie Sanders campaign. Energy applied to that campaign can now be shifted to the organization of a (real) political revolution against the system itself—the farcical nature of which you now (so much more clearly through the pain of experience) understand.
The worst possible result would be for Bernie supporters to line up behind a person (a woman, by chance, but so what?) who’s a soul-mate of George Bush, Dick Cheney, Henry Kissinger and John McCain who never met a war she didn’t like and will gleefully drag your young ass into war for regime change in Syria, or into Ukraine to challenge Putin and provoke World War III.
The best possible result would be for friendships and networks built in this fool’s hope campaign to resist that planned co-option. We should rage against the dying of the light, wake up to the need for real revolution—real democracy, real socialism—abandoning illusions about the “process” that the wolf in Armani clothing credits Bernie for drawing you into.
By voting in a primary, you didn’t say: I’m so happy to be involved in this process; thank you, Bernie, for politicizing me!
Many of you, at least, said something different. You said: Fuck this system. Bernie means change. And this made sense at the time. But if Bernie at some point urges you to get behind the Democratic candidate, it would be best to maintain some moral integrity and say Thanks for the ride, Uncle Bernie. I’m sorry you have to do what you think you have to do. But sorry. No way!
And prepare to spend some time out on the streets with your new friends and other good people in the next few years, as will be necessary to resist whichever horrible candidate wins.
You were supporting Bernie Sanders, not Bernie Madoff. If you say, Okay, well, I guess I’ll have to go for her, I can hear her Wall Street backers chortle in delight at your humiliation. It will sound exactly like this:
Gary Leupp is Professor of History at Tufts University, and holds a secondary appointment in the Department of Religion. He is the author of Servants, Shophands and Laborers in in the Cities of Tokugawa Japan; Male Colors: The Construction of Homosexuality in Tokugawa Japan; and Interracial Intimacy in Japan: Western Men and Japanese Women, 1543-1900. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion, (AK Press). He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
More articles by:Gary Leupp
Why Israel is blocking access to its archives
by Jonathan Cook - Al Jazeera
June 10, 2016
Jerusalem - Israel is locking away millions of official documents to prevent the darkest episodes in its history from coming to light, civil rights activists and academics have warned as the country's state archives move online.
They claim government officials are concealing vital records needed for historical research, often in violation of Israeli law, in an effort to avoid damaging Israel's image.
The Israeli army has long claimed to be the "most moral" in the world. Accusations of increased secrecy come as Israel marks this week the 49th anniversary of the 1967 war, when it seized and occupied Sinai Peninsula, Gaza Strip, West Bank, and Golan Heights. Many of the records to which access is being denied refer to that war and the first years of Israel's military rule over Palestinians in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza.
Menachem Klein, a politics professor at Bar Ilan University, near Tel Aviv, said researchers needed such documents to gain a clearer picture of events half a century ago, the goals of policymakers, and human rights abuses. "We have gradually been able to expose some of what happened in 1948 [the war that established Israel], but there is still very little available to help us understand the 1967 war," he told Al-Jazeera.
The entire history of Israeli society and its conflict with the Palestinians is to be found in those archives. It is impossible to understand and write about that history without access. - Lior Yavne, co-author of the Akevot report
As part of its commemorations this week, the state archives published testimony by military commanders from 1967. However, local media noted that whole pages had been censored on "security grounds".
Nonetheless, some of the declassified material was revealing. Uzi Narkiss, who headed the army's central command at the time, suggested that he and other commanders hoped to ethnically cleanse most of the territories under cover of fighting. He told fellow officers: "Within 72 hours we'll drive out all the Arabs from the West Bank".
The campaign to open up Israel's archives is being led by the Akevot Institute, a group of Israeli human rights activists, lawyers and researchers trying to document the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In a new report, Point of Access, they note that only 1 percent of 400 million pages of documents have been made public.
Most of the files should have been accessible after 15 years. In many cases, Akevot says, the classified status of documents has expired, but they have still not been made public. Reasons for denial of access are rarely given.
In other instances, documents that were already declassified - some of them decades ago - have been re-sealed and are now unavailable.
Despite the mounting secrecy, historic war crimes are still coming to light.
In March the largest known massacre of Palestinians by the Israeli army during the 1948 war that founded Israel - what Palestinians call al-Nakba - was exposed, in spite of official efforts to keep the atrocity under wraps for nearly seven decades.
The gag was effectively ended with the publication of a soldier's letter in the Haaretz newspaper, detailing the execution of hundreds of Palestinian men, women and children at the village of Dawaymeh, near Hebron. "The entire history of Israeli society and its conflict with the Palestinians is to be found in those archives," Lior Yavne, co-author of the report, told Al-Jazeera. "It is impossible to understand and write about that history without access." He added: "In practice, most of Israel's archives are permanently closed."
According to Akevot, Israel has exploited a new programme to digitally copy existing paper files to increase secrecy.
Archivists are currently scanning and uploading documents to create a comprehensive database - a project that is likely to take more than 25 years. The archive's website went live in April.
However, the public nature of the database means hundreds of thousands of national security files have been submitted for the first time to an official body known as the military censor. Until now its powers had been largely restricted to oversight of the Israeli media, said Yavne.
The censor is reported to be refusing to release many of the documents, redacting others and reclassifying as secret many records that were previously available to researchers.
A growing backlog of tens of thousands of files that need to be reviewed has also blocked access to researchers, according to Akevot.
Requests to see documents can be denied if they damage national security or foreign relations, or violate privacy. Yavne said access to records after the specified time restriction had expired was regularly refused without legal authority. Files appeared to be withheld if officials feared they might "highlight human rights violations or shed light on sordid affairs."
The report notes that the records of government decision-making belong to the public but are treated as "a secret to be kept from it".
The current emphasis on concealment contrasts with the late 1980s, when parts of the archives from the 1948 war were opened.
A handful of Israeli historians, most notably Benny Morris, Ilan Pappe and Avi Shlaim, revealed that much of Israel's official history of the state's founding was based on misinformation.
These "new historians" unearthed evidence of wide-scale massacres of Palestinians, rapes and forced expulsions. They also showed that common assumptions about the war - such as that Palestinians had been ordered to flee by their leaders - were later inventions by Israel to minimise international criticism.
One Israeli academic, Shay Hazkani, has estimated that up to a third of records relating to the 1948 war that were declassified have been put under lock again. Given the large number of documents, many had yet to be examined by researchers.
Nur Masalha, a UK-based Palestinian historian who exposed evidence in Israel's archives of expulsion, or "transfer", policies against Palestinians between 1948 and 1967, told Al Jazeera the clampdown on access to documents was part of wider internal repression in Israel.
It reflected, he said, Israel's mounting concern at the connections being made between Israel's past and present atrocities. "Israel has faced growing international condemnation for its war crimes in Gaza, and at the same time Palestinians, including those inside Israel, have become more determined to focus attention on the Nakba."
Some of the most highly classified records - which have been under lock for 70 years - are due to be made public in less than two years' time. That would turn the spotlight on the most contentious events from Israel's founding. However, according to Akevot, no preparations have been made by Israel's most secretive security agencies, the Shin Bet intelligence service and the Mossad spy agency, to release their archives.
The report says access "is expected to be denied" for the foreseeable future. Yavne said the Shin Bet had already ignored a commitment to make available sections of its archives after 50 years.
Those documents would shed light on Shin Bet policies in the state's early years, when a fifth of Israel's population belonging to the Palestinian minority were placed under a military government.
Details of this period would be embarrassing both because of the harsh treatment of Palestinians during military rule and because the template of the military government was later exported into the occupied territories, said Klein.
Archive documents might expose the Shin Bet's detention and torture practices, its use of blackmail and entrapment to recruit informants, and its harassment of Palestinian leaders. "The Shin Bet has always operated beyond the law," he said.
The Israeli prime minister's office, which oversees both the archives and the Shin Bet, declined to comment.
Yavne said Akevot, which was established 18 months ago, was assisting academics and researchers who were often afraid to speak out against the mounting restrictions. "They are worried that if they are seen to be criticising the archive policy, they may face even more restricted access," he said.
He added that Akevot was creating an alternative database of documents to help researchers to understand the history of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Among the top-secret documents recently unearthed by the group is one revealing a government order immediately after the 1967 war to remove the Green Line, marking Israel's internationally recognised borders, from all maps used in Israeli schools.
Klein said the aim was to "root into Israelis' minds the idea that the occupied Palestinian territories are part of Israel" to make returning them more difficult.
Other classified documents from the period show that Israel's chief adviser on international law, Theodor Meron, warned that the Geneva Conventions applied to Israel's behaviour in the occupied territories. Israel has publicly always denied that it is bound by the conventions. There has been a similar spate of revelations about the 1948 war.
In January Haaretz reported that the archives were still refusing access to a transcript of a cabinet meeting in 1949 in which ministers discussed the widespread desecration of churches the previous year.
The discussion, however, could be reconstructed from other sources.
The Foreign Minister of the time, Moshe Sharett, is recorded as saying the Israeli soldiers had behaved in ways "fit for savages"- a reference to their defecating in churches and looting icons. Sharett suggested paying the Vatican large compensation to "buy their silence".
Israeli military correspondent Amir Oren recently wrote that archival evidence showed that the current spate of Israeli soldiers executing Palestinians was not a new phenomenon.
The 1948 war, Oren wrote, had "launched the catalogue of murder, rape, looting, contempt for human life" by the Israeli army.
Source: Al Jazeera
While Canadian Companies Exploit African Resources …
... Canadian "charities" (NGOs) call on Canadians to "walk for hope" in Africa
by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice
June 9th, 2016
What is wrong here? While Canadian companies exploit African resources for their own benefit this country’s charities call on us to join Africa “hope” walks.
Last week Toronto-based Lundin Mining hired the Bank of Montreal to help it decide what to do with its stake in the massive Tenke Fungurume copper-cobalt mine in Eastern Congo (Kinshasa).
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for Toronto firms to make economic decisions that affect hundreds of thousands of Africans and for Canadian companies to exchange African mineral assets among themselves.
A number of companies based and traded here have even taken African names. African Queen Mines, Tanzanian Royalty Exploration, Lake Victoria Mining Company, African Aura Resources, Katanga Mining, Société d’Exploitation Minière d’Afrique de l’Ouest (SEMAFO), Uganda Gold Mining, East Africa Metals, Timbuktu Gold, Sahelian Goldfields, African Gold Group and International African Mining Gold (IAMGOLD) are all Canadian. With a mere 0.5 percent of the world’s population, Canada is home to half of all internationally listed mining companies operating in Africa.
Active in 43 different African countries, Canadian mining firms have been responsible for dispossessing farmers, displacing communities, employing forced labour, devastating ecosystems and spurring human rights violations. And, as I detail in Canada in Africa: 300 Years of Aid and Exploitation, numerous Canadian mining companies have been accused of bribing officials and evading taxes. Last year TSX-listed MagIndustries was accused of paying $100,000 to tax officials in a bid to avoid paying taxes on its $1.5-billion potash mine and processing facility in Congo (Brazzaville). In April a Tanzanian tribunal ruled that Barrick Gold organized a “sophisticated scheme of tax evasion” in the East African country. As its Tanzanian operations delivered over US$400-million profit to shareholders between 2010 and 2013, the Toronto company failed to pay any corporate taxes, bilking the country out of $41.25 million.
While Canadian companies loot (legally and illegally) African resources, government-funded “charities” (aka NGOs) and the dominant media call on Canadians to walk for “hope” in Africa. Last weekend the Aga Khan Foundation Canada organized the World Partnership Walk in 10 cities across the country. In an article titled “How the World Partnership Walk” lets Canadians bring hope to African communities the organization’s International Development Champion, Attiya Hirj, writes about visiting Aga Khan Foundation and Global Affairs Canada sponsored projects in Tanzania and Mozambique. Hirj says her “trip really opened my eyes to what rural communities truly need, which is a sense of hope.” She suggests the situation can be remedied if enough Canadians come “together to fundraise and generate awareness through activities such as the World Partnership Walk.” There is no mention of the need for African resources to be controlled by and for Africans.
Hirj’s article reflects an extreme example of Canadian paternalism towards Africans. But it’s deeply rooted in our political culture. Gripped by a desire to rid “darkest Africa” of “nakedness” and “heathenism”, Canadian missionaries helped the European colonial powers penetrate African society. In 1893 a couple of Torontonians founded what later became the largest interdenominational Protestant mission on the continent and by the end of the colonial period as many as 2,500 Canadians were proselytizing across Africa.
Today, all the media-anointed Africa “experts” promote a similarly paternalistic version of ‘aid’ and largely ignore Canadian companies’ role in pillaging the continent’s wealth. But, Canadians concerned about African impoverishment should point their fingers at the Canadian firms controlling the continent’s resources and offer solidarity to those sisters and brothers fighting for African resources to be controlled by and for Africans.
Yves Engler is the author of Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
Friday, June 10, 2016
Democrats Are Now the Aggressive War Party
by Robert Parry - Consortium News
June 8, 2016
The Democratic Party has moved from being what you might call a reluctant war party to an aggressive war party with its selection of Hillary Clinton as its presumptive presidential nominee. With minimal debate, this historic change brings full circle the arc of the party’s anti-war attitudes that began in 1968 and have now ended in 2016.
Since the Vietnam War, the Democrats have been viewed as the more peaceful of the two major parties, with the Republicans often attacking Democratic candidates as “soft” regarding use of military force.
But former Secretary of State Clinton has made it clear that she is eager to use military force to achieve “regime change” in countries that get in the way of U.S. desires. She abides by neoconservative strategies of violent interventions especially in the Middle East and she strikes a belligerent posture as well toward nuclear-armed Russia and, to a lesser extent, China.
Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing
the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C.
on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)
Amid the celebrations about picking the first woman as a major party’s presumptive nominee, Democrats appear to have given little thought to the fact that they have abandoned a near half-century standing as the party more skeptical about the use of military force. Clinton is an unabashed war hawk who has shown no inclination to rethink her pro-war attitudes.
As a U.S. senator from New York, Clinton voted for and avidly supported the Iraq War, only cooling her enthusiasm in 2006 when it became clear that the Democratic base had turned decisively against the war and her hawkish position endangered her chances for the 2008 presidential nomination, which she lost to Barack Obama, an Iraq War opponent.
However, to ease tensions with the Clinton wing of the party, Obama selected Clinton to be his Secretary of State, one of the first and most fateful decisions of his presidency. He also kept on George W. Bush’s Defense Secretary Robert Gates and neocon members of the military high command, such as Gen. David Petraeus.
This “Team of Rivals” – named after Abraham Lincoln’s initial Civil War cabinet – ensured a powerful bloc of pro-war sentiment, which pushed Obama toward more militaristic solutions than he otherwise favored, notably the wasteful counterinsurgency “surge” in Afghanistan in 2009 which did little beyond get another 1,000 U.S. soldiers killed and many more Afghans.
Clinton was a strong supporter of that “surge” – and Gates reported in his memoir that she acknowledged only opposing the Iraq War “surge” in 2007 for political reasons. Inside Obama’s foreign policy councils, Clinton routinely took the most neoconservative positions, such as defending a 2009 coup in Honduras that ousted a progressive president.
Clinton also sabotaged early efforts to work out an agreement in which Iran surrendered much of its low-enriched uranium, including an initiative in 2010 organized at Obama’s request by the leaders of Brazil and Turkey. Clinton sank that deal and escalated tensions with Iran along the lines favored by Israel’s right-wing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, a Clinton favorite.
Pumping for War in Libya
In 2011, Clinton successfully lobbied Obama to go to war against Libya to achieve another “regime change,” albeit cloaked in the more modest goal of establishing only a “no-fly zone” to “protect civilians.”
Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi had claimed he was battling jihadists and terrorists who were building strongholds around Benghazi, but Clinton and her State Department underlings accused him of slaughtering civilians and (in one of the more colorful lies used to justify the war) distributing Viagra to his troops so they could rape more women.
Despite resistance from Russia and China, the United Nations Security Council fell for the deception about protecting civilians. Russia and China agreed to abstain from the vote, giving Clinton her “no-fly zone.” Once that was secured, however, the Obama administration and several European allies unveiled their real plan, to destroy the Libyan army and pave the way for the violent overthrow of Gaddafi.
Privately, Clinton’s senior aides viewed the Libyan “regime change” as a chance to establish what they called the “Clinton Doctrine” on using “smart power” with plans for Clinton to rush to the fore and claim credit once Gaddafi was ousted. But that scheme failed when President Obama grabbed the limelight after Gaddafi’s government collapsed.
Ousted Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi shortly before
But Clinton would not be denied her second opportunity to claim the glory when jihadist rebels captured Gaddafi on Oct. 20, 2011, sodomized him with a knife and then murdered him. Hearing of Gaddafi’s demise, Clinton went into a network interview and declared, “we came, we saw, he died” and clapped her hands in glee.
Clinton’s glee was short-lived, however. Libya soon descended into chaos with Islamic extremists gaining control of large swaths of the country. On Sept. 11, 2012, jihadists attacked the U.S. consulate in Benghazi killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other American personnel. It turned out Gaddafi had been right about the nature of his enemies.
Undaunted by the mess in Libya, Clinton made similar plans for Syria where again she marched in lock-step with the neocons and their “liberal interventionist” sidekicks in support of another violent “regime change,” ousting the Assad dynasty, a top neocon/Israeli goal since the 1990s.
Clinton pressed Obama to escalate weapons shipments and training for anti-government rebels who were deemed “moderate” but in reality collaborated closely with radical Islamic forces, including Al Nusra Front (Al Qaeda’s Syrian franchise) and some even more extreme jihadists (who coalesced into the Islamic State).
Again, Clinton’s war plans were cloaked in humanitarian language, such as the need to create a “safe zone” inside Syria to save civilians. But her plans would have required a major U.S. invasion of a sovereign country, the destruction of its air force and much of its military, and the creation of conditions for another “regime change.”
In the case of Syria, however, Obama resisted the pressure from Clinton and other hawks inside his own administration. The President did approve some covert assistance to the rebels and allowed Saudi Arabia, Turkey and the Gulf states to do much more, but he did not agree to an outright U.S.-led invasion to Clinton’s disappointment.
Clinton finally left the Obama administration at the start of his second term in 2013, some say voluntarily and others say in line with Obama’s desire to finally move ahead with serious negotiations with Iran over its nuclear program and to apply more pressure on Israel to reach a long-delayed peace settlement with the Palestinians. Secretary of State John Kerry was willing to do some of the politically risky work that Clinton was not.
President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton honor the four victims of the Sept. 11, 2012, attack on the U.S. mission in Benghazi, Libya, at the Transfer of Remains Ceremony held at Andrews Air Force Base, Joint Base Andrews, Maryland, on Sept. 14, 2012. [State Department photo)Many on the Left deride Obama as “Obomber” and mock his hypocritical acceptance of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2009. And there is no doubt that Obama has waged war his entire presidency, bombing at least seven countries by his own count. But the truth is that he has generally been among the most dovish members of his administration, advocating a “realistic” (or restrained) application of American power. By contrast, Clinton was among the most hawkish senior officials.
A major testing moment for Obama came in August 2013 after a sarin gas attack outside Damascus, Syria, that killed hundreds of Syrians and that the State Department and the mainstream U.S. media immediately blamed on the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad.
There was almost universal pressure inside Official Washington to militarily enforce Obama’s “red line” against Assad using chemical weapons. Amid this intense momentum toward war, it was widely assumed that Obama would order a harsh retaliatory strike against the Syrian military. But U.S. intelligence and key figures in the U.S. military smelled a rat, a provocation carried out by Islamic extremists to draw the United States into the Syrian war on their side.
At the last minute and at great political cost to himself, Obama listened to the doubts of his intelligence advisers and called off the attack, referring the issue to the U.S. Congress and then accepting a Russian-brokered deal in which Assad surrendered all his chemical weapons though continuing to deny a role in the sarin attack.
Eventually, the sarin case against Assad would collapse. Only one rocket was found to have carried sarin and it had a very limited range placing its firing position likely within rebel-controlled territory. But Official Washington’s conventional wisdom never budged. To this day, politicians and pundits denounce Obama for not enforcing his “red line.”
There’s little doubt, however, what Hillary Clinton would have done. She has been eager for a much more aggressive U.S. military role in Syria since the civil war began in 2011. Much as she used propaganda and deception to achieve “regime change” in Libya, she surely would have done the same in Syria, embracing the pretext of the sarin attack – “killing innocent children” – to destroy the Syrian military even if the rebels were the guilty parties.
Still Lusting for War
Indeed, during the 2016 campaign – in those few moments that have touched on foreign policy – Clinton declared that as President she would order the U.S. military to invade Syria. “Yes, I do still support a no-fly zone,” she said during the April 14 debate. She also wants a “safe zone” that would require seizing territory inside Syria.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaking to
a joint session of the U.S. Congress on March 3, 2015,
in opposition to President Barack Obama’s nuclear
agreement with Iran. (Screen shot from CNN broadcast)
But no one should be gullible enough to believe that Clinton’s invasion of Syria would stop at a “safe zone.” As with Libya, once the camel’s nose was into the tent, pretty soon the animal would be filling up the whole tent.
Perhaps even scarier is what a President Clinton would do regarding Iran and Ukraine, two countries where belligerent U.S. behavior could start much bigger wars.
For instance, would President Hillary Clinton push the Iranians so hard – in line with what Netanyahu favors – that they would renounce the nuclear deal and give Clinton an excuse to bomb-bomb-bomb Iran?
In Ukraine, would Clinton escalate U.S. military support for the post-coup anti-Russian Ukrainian government, encouraging its forces to annihilate the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine and to “liberate” the people of Crimea from “Russian aggression” (though they voted by 96 percent to leave the failed Ukrainian state and rejoin Russia)?
Would President Clinton expect the Russians to stand down and accept these massacres? Would she take matters to the next level to demonstrate how tough she can be against Russian President Vladimir Putin whom she has compared to Hitler? Might she buy into the latest neocon dream of achieving “regime change” in Moscow? Would she be wise enough to recognize how dangerous such instability could be?
Of course, one would expect that all of Clinton’s actions would be clothed in the crocodile tears of “humanitarian” warfare, starting wars to “save the children” or to stop the evil enemy from “raping defenseless girls.” The truth of such emotional allegations would be left for the post-war historians to try to sort out. In the meantime, President Clinton would have her wars.
Having covered Washington for nearly four decades, I always marvel at how selective concerns for human rights can be. When “friendly” civilians are dying, we are told that we have a “responsibility to protect,” but when pro-U.S. forces are slaughtering civilians of an adversary country or movement, reports of those atrocities are dismissed as “enemy propaganda” or ignored altogether. Clinton is among the most cynical in this regard.
But the larger picture for the Democrats is that they have just adopted an extraordinary historical reversal whether they understand it or not. They have replaced the Republicans as the party of aggressive war, though clearly many Republicans still dance to the neocon drummer just as Clinton and “liberal interventionists” do. Still, Donald Trump, for all his faults, has adopted a relatively peaceful point of view, especially in the Mideast and with Russia.
While today many Democrats are congratulating themselves for becoming the first major party to make a woman the presumptive nominee, they may soon have to decide whether that distinction justifies putting an aggressive war hawk in the White House. In a way, the issue is an old one for Democrats, whether “identity politics” or anti-war policies are more important.
At least since 1968 and the chaotic Democratic convention in Chicago, the party has advanced, sometimes haltingly, those two agendas, pushing for broader rights for all and seeking to restrain the nation’s militaristic impulses.
In the 1970s, Democrats largely repudiated the Vietnam War while the Republicans waved the flag and equated anti-war positions with treason. By the 1980s and early 1990s, Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush were making war fun again – Grenada, Afghanistan, Panama and the Persian Gulf, all relatively low-cost conflicts with victorious conclusions.
Ronald Reagan and his 1980 vice-presidential
running mate George H.W. Bush
By the 1990s, Bill Clinton (along with Hillary Clinton) saw militarism as just another issue to be triangulated. With the Soviet Union’s collapse, the Clinton-42 administration saw the opportunity for more low-cost tough-guy/gal-ism – continuing a harsh embargo and periodic air strikes against Iraq (causing the deaths of a U.N.-estimated half million children); blasting Serbia into submission over Kosovo; and expanding NATO to the east toward Russia’s borders.
But Bill Clinton did balk at the more extreme neocon ideas, such as the one from the Project for the New American Century for a militarily enforced “regime change” in Iraq. That had to wait for George W. Bush in the wake of the 9/11 attacks. As a New York senator, Hillary Clinton made sure she was onboard for war on Iraq just as she sided with Israel’s pummeling of Lebanon and the Palestinians in Gaza.
Hillary Clinton was taking triangulation to an even more acute angle as she sided with virtually every position of the Netanyahu government in Israel and moved in tandem with the neocons as they cemented their control of Washington’s foreign policy establishment. Her only brief flirtation with an anti-war position came in 2006 when her political advisers informed her that her continued support for Bush’s Iraq War would doom her in the Democratic presidential race.
But she let her hawkish plumage show again as Obama’s Secretary of State from 2009 to 2013 – and once she felt she had the 2016 Democratic race in hand (after her success in the southern primaries) she pivoted back to her hard-line positions in full support of Israel and in a full-throated defense of her war on Libya, which she still won’t view as a failure.
The smarter neocons are already lining up to endorse Clinton, especially given Donald Trump’s hostile takeover of the Republican Party and his disdain for neocon strategies that he views as simply spreading chaos around the globe. As The New York Times has reported, Clinton is “the vessel into which many interventionists are pouring their hopes.”
Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the neocon Project for the new American Century, has endorsed Clinton, saying “I feel comfortable with her on foreign policy. If she pursues a policy which we think she will pursue it’s something that might have been called neocon, but clearly her supporters are not going to call it that; they are going to call it something else.” [See Consortiumnews.com’s “Yes, Hillary Clinton Is a Neocon.”]
So, by selecting Clinton, the Democrats have made a full 360-degree swing back to the pre-1968 days of the Vietnam War. After nearly a half century of favoring a more peaceful foreign policy – and somewhat less weapons spending – than the Republicans, the Democrats are America’s new aggressive war party.
[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’s “Would a Clinton Win Mean More Wars?’]
Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).
US Bullying Canada to Pursue Anti-Russian Foreign Policy
by Eric Draitser - CounterPunch
June 10, 2016
As the world is faced with numerous crises requiring cooperation between the US and Russia – Syria, Ukraine, and international terrorism to name just three – Washington just can’t help its Russophobic ways.
Most recently, former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul expressed his extreme displeasure (dare I say revulsion) at the idea that the Canadian Government, and specifically its Foreign Affairs Minister Stéphane Dion, could possibly make the independent decision to not follow the diktats of Washington in adopting a Canadian version of the Magnitsky Act, a piece of proposed legislation which would have severe repercussions for the Russia-Canada relationship. McFaul, a staunch anti-Putin crusader whose time as ambassador was marred by countless failures and embarrassing public blunders, went so far as to cast doubt on the commitment to human rights of Mr. Dion and the Canadian Government.
In highly undiplomatic language, McFaul bluntly declared,
“Do you stand for human rights or not? If this is an important value [sic] then this is something that should be done.”
Leaving aside the condescension oozing from every word of that statement, it is quite clear that the US political establishment is not at all pleased with its usually pliant partners in the Great White North who, it seems, are attempting the unthinkable: conducting a foreign policy that is independent of the United States, at least on this issue. Indeed, despite the finger-wagging from McFaul, and the ceaseless lobbying and self-promotion of the vulture capitalist and convicted criminal Bill Browder, Canada is unwilling to sacrifice its increasingly friendly relations with Moscow simply to satisfy the anti-Putin obsession of interests based in Washington and London.
Indeed, Browder is undeniably the leading voice of the transnational lobbying effort to internationalize the Magnitsky Act – a US law passed in 2012 that places sanctions and restrictions on key figures in the Russian government ostensibly over alleged participation in the murder of whistleblower Sergei Magnitsky – and to try to isolate Russian President Putin and his closest advisers. Of course, embarrassingly for Browder, he was until a decade ago the leading pro-Putin voice in the western investing community in Russia, lauding Putin up and down as the savior of Russia.
For instance, in 2005 Browder told the New York Times, when speaking about the jailing of the criminal oligarch Mikhail Khodorkovsky, that “Putin cares about foreign investors; he just doesn’t care about them enough to allow one oligarch to use his ill-gotten gains to hijack the state for his own economic purposes.” However, the warm and fuzzy feelings Browder once had for Putin & Co. seem to have evaporated right around the time he was curtly shown the door out of Russia. As Pando’s Mark Ames wrote in 2015:
And ever since his KGB pals decided they’d had enough of him and chased him out to London a very rich vulture capitalist, Browder has styled himself as the Mother Theresa of global vulture capitalism—and he’s thrown untold millions into promoting that public relations/lobbying effort, whose goal is to use human rights abuses he once covered for and profited from as a cudgel to force the Kremlin to become investor-friendly to vulture capitalists like Bill Browder again.
So it seems that the Magnitsky Act itself, and Browder’s crusade to make it holy writ around the world, is less a product of concern for human rights, and more the result of a personal vendetta against the Russian Government by a very rich and influential vulture capitalist nested comfortably in the City of London, hatching his various anti-Russian pressure campaigns.
Foreign Affairs Minister Dion has rightly pointed to Canada’s invitation to join the International Syria Support Group in Vienna as an example of the fruit of the Russia-Canada relationship, implicitly arguing that it would be unwise to pass a Magnitsky-style bill solely to placate anti-Russian elements in Washington and London while alienating an important global power with considerable political, economic, and diplomatic influence.
Interestingly, in all the talk of human rights, and the chastising of Dion and the Canadian government for their shameful sale of $15 billion of combat vehicles to Saudi Arabia, it is completely ignored that the US is the principal arms dealer to Saudi Arabia, and countless other autocratic regimes which routinely, and quite systematically, violate the human rights of their own people. So it would seem that for the US human rights is the convenient club with which to bash allies over the head, but which can be completely ignored when it suits Washington’s political and geopolitical agenda.
Russia = bad. Russia = human rights violator. Russia must be punished.
Saudi Arabia = friend. Saudi Arabia = human rights violator but let’s not talk about. Saudi Arabia must be rewarded with tens of billions of dollars of military equipment.
Got it? Good.
Ultimately, the issue is really about control. The US would like to be able to control the way in which Canada, and all the countries of the West, carry on their relations with Russia. Washington would like to cobble together a “united front” of sorts that will isolate Russia and, in the wildest pipe dreams of strategic planners, bring down Putin and his administration.
And the US believes that the combination of sanctions, depressed oil prices, Magnitsky-style legislation, and a number of other political, economic, and diplomatic weapons will bring those pesky old Russians to heel. How little Washington has learned.
Eric Draitser is the founder of StopImperialism.org and host of CounterPunch Radio. He is an independent geopolitical analyst based in New York City. You can reach him at email@example.com.
More articles by:Eric Draitser
Thursday, June 09, 2016
Dear Bernie, A call to ignore the pressures for you to surrender
by Dave Lindorff - This Can't Be Happening
June 8, 2016
You ran a great race, achieving something that most of us thought would be impossible, running as an "avowed" socialist in today's United States of America, against one of the most hardened and tested political machines in the country, the Clintons, and winning 22 primaries and caucuses with a total of over 11 million votes. And while Hillary and her minions threw everything they had at you, including voter suppression efforts, lies about your voting record in the Senate, unfair assistance from the Democratic National Committee and state Democratic officials, and manipulation of the media, you came excruciatingly close to knocking her off and winning the nomination.
Okay, you didn't make it to the finish line.
Now the pressure is on you, from the corporate media that originally ignored you, then attacked you and finally resorted to outright corruption the night before the June 7 primary by prematurely calling the race for Clinton in hopes of depressing your turnout in the last six primaries, and now to a meeting tomorrow with President Obama, who will try and convince you to give up, and to endorse Hillary Clinton.
But while it's true that way back at the start of your seemingly Quixotic campaign, you did promise to endorse her if you lost, that campaign has since evolved beyond even your imagination into a powerful movement for "political revolution," with millions of people behind it. Also over the intervening months, you have both seen how unprincipled your opponent can be, and have also done a masterful job of highlighting just how corrupted she has become as a person and politician.
You've pointed out how she has been bought by the too-big-to-fail bankers, who have paid her legal bribes totaling millions of dollars, euphemistically calling them "speaking fees." You've denounced her acceptance of hundreds of millions of dollars of legal bribes in the form of campaign contributions from key industries like the drug companies, the military contractors, the oil giants and even the for-profit prison industry. While you graciously declined early on and waited, in my view, way too long to go after Hillary for her improper and illegal use, for years, of a private email server during her four-year tenure as Secretary of State, late in the primary battle you finally did point out that she was acting in an illegal way (one that now has her as the first presumptive presidential candidate in memory running while being actively investigated by the FBI).
You also intimated -- correctly in my humble view as an investigative reporter -- that this move of hers to avoid the Freedom of Information Act was linked to her efforts to peddle influence to US corporate executives and foreign leaders in return for cash going into the Clinton Foundation coffers -- a sordid arrangement reeking of corruption and self-dealing.
You've been right in all of this campaign criticism, and you have successfully exposed Hillary Clinton as the bought-and-paid candidate of big money, a woman who will say whatever she thinks it takes to get herself elected but who, in the end, will be serving the interests of those who paid for her election, not of the American people.
How could you now even think about turning around and doing what you originally said you would do and endorsing her? How could you, after exposing Clinton as the candidate of big banks, big pharma, big military and rich people, ask your millions of supporters -- including people who dropped their hard-earned $27 into your campaign, often multiple times, to the tune, I believe, of over $200 million -- suddenly turn around and ask them to back her in the general election?
If you were to endorse Hillary Clinton at this point, you would be destroying everything you have accomplished in this amazing campaign. Many people -- especially the young people for whom your movement may have been a first-ever experience at political action -- would surely become cynical about politics.
Others would just write you off as just another self-serving politician accepting a deal. Most would ignore any call for unity anyhow, making it doubly pointless and destructive for you to make it. So what would you accomplish then, except perhaps to be repaid for your submission with some offer of a plum post on an important Senate Committee (assuming that the Republicans, in a race against Clinton, don't end up staying in control of the Senate, making such a promised plum into a prune)?
Fortunately there is another path, and I'm sure you've been at least thinking about it. That is to run in the general election, this time going up against both Hillary and Trump (as well as the Libertarians and the Conservatives, who will be vying with Trump for the country's right-leaning voters).
A Sanders/Stein Green Party presidential ticket could win,
and could institutionalize Bernie's 'political revolution'
You could run as an independent. I'm sure you'd get plenty of financial backing again from your supporters, as in the primaries, and that you'd do creditably well, too if you did. But as Ralph Nader learned, the problem is you'd be wasting a lot if not most of your time and much of your funding fighting simply to get your name on state ballots -- a process which the two established parties have conspired to make extremely difficult. In fact, many states' deadlines for getting an independent name on the ballot have already, or are about to pass.
On the other hand, I know you have been approached about, but reportedly have yet to respond to, offers from people like Dr. Jill Stein, a leader of the Green Party and its presumptive nominee for this year's presidential race as she was in 2012, and Seattle's socialist City Councilwoman Kshama Sawant too, about seeking and accepting the Green Party's nomination for president (the Green Party's nominating convention is in early August). Stein has even said she'd let you have the top spot, running for president!
As I assume you are aware, the Green Party is already on the ballot in 21 states having a total of 310 electoral votes, which is 40 more than the 270 needed to win the presidency. The party is reportedly working hard to get on a number of other state lines too in time for November's election and is already close to having 25 states with another 60 electoral votes. They're not stopping there (and would do even better with some of your campaign money to pay for lawyers and petition gatherers). If you got that nomination, you'd be well on your way to being a viable national third-party candidate, and could work to get on the ballots of other critical states. This could be done in some states by getting smaller state parties, for example Peace & Freedom or the Working People's Party to nominate you, and where no other option exists by fighting to get listed as an independent candidate.
Could you win in such a five-way race? I believe that in this unprecedented political environment, running against two candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, who have the highest negative polling numbers in the history of polls, you could indeed win. You start with the more than 10 million people who've already voted for you once in the primaries (who would surely vote for you again in November), and since you have already run in all 50 states, your name recognition is as high as it could possibly be. Unlike Ralph Nader in his campaigns, you are virtually guaranteed as a third-party candidate to be included in the nationally televised debates in the fall, which will only increase your chances of winning. And you know you will be deluged with campaign funds from your backers in even greater amounts than during the primaries if you are running for the White House for real in the general election.
But even if you didn't win an outright majority of electoral votes, there's a good chance you'd win the presidency. All you would really have to do is out-do Hillary Clinton. That's because given the limitations of Donald Trump's appeal, and the appeal of even the total right-leaning candidates' votes, it's a pretty safe bet that between the two of you, Clinton and yourself, you will win a combined majority of the electoral votes.
Recall that the electors in the Electoral College are not required by law to vote for the candidate who won their state's popular vote. Like those frustrating "super delegates" of the Democratic Party, they are free to vote for whom they choose (remember the Nixon elector who famously voted for anti-war Rep. Pete McClosky, or the electors who voted in 1824 for John Quincy Adams, though Andrew Jackson had won both the electoral and the popular vote that year?). This means if you were to win more electoral votes than Clinton, you could just sit tight and let her contemplate the choice between allowing the election to move from a deadlocked Electoral College to the Republican-led House for a decision, which would mean her turning the White House over to a Republican (possibly Donald Trump!) or alternatively instructing her electors to vote for you.
If you ended up with fewer electors than Hillary, you could do the same, and have your electors vote for her, making her the president.
In either of those cases, I suspect you could both agree to have the one handing over the electors become the vice president, perhaps with some important responsibilities assigned to the role as part of a publicly transparent deal.
What should be particularly attractive about this plan is that by your running as a Green, you would be institutionalizing that "political revolution" that you launched a year ago with your primary run. A Green campaign with you as the marquis candidate would put the Green Party on the ballot in all 50 states for the 2018 off-year election, as well as the 2020 presidential election. It would transmute the Green Party instantly from a perennial protest vote option into a major party going forward, perhaps even supplanting the increasingly corrupted and out-of-touch Democratic Party that you for so long avoided joining.
In fact, with you topping a Green ticket this year, many people, perhaps including some with name recognition, could be expected to run for Senate and House on that party line, and in such a tumultuous election year, they might well be voted into office as Green Party candidates, further undermining the Establishment two-system in Congress, and encouraging yet more people to run as Green candidates in 2018.
Frankly, aside from the wear-and-tear of another grueling three-to-four-month campaign (though you seem to thrive on them!), I don't see any downside to this plan. You still get a chance to win the White House, you get to continue to lead and further develop a political revolution, and you don't have to eat crow and endorse a candidate whom you clearly know to be the embodiment of the very rigged political-economic system you've been decrying.
Bernie, it's been 44 years since I've been this excited about a US presidential campaign. In 1972, George McGovern put his whole Senate career on the line and tackled one of the most corrupt and ruthless politicians of the day, Richard Nixon, because he passionately believed that the Vietnam War had to be ended, and that poverty in America and other issues had to be seriously addressed. He lost, but he fought a nobel battle that was epic and that is still remembered. In a way, with Nixon's impeachment and resignation, he really won, for it was his candidacy and the movement he was part of that pushed Nixon to adopt the extreme tactics of Watergate that led to his downfall.
It's your turn now. You've already accomplished one helluva lot, and it almost seems unfair for me and your supporters to ask you, like Muhammed Ali after his draft refusal and ban from boxing, to climb back into the ring for another few punishing rounds of political combat, but we need you to do it. Please, for the sake of the political movement you've begun to end America's corrupt, rigged political and economic system, don't stop now. Talk to Stein and Sawant and the Green Party, get their nomination for president and go for broke!
The movement you began will have your back!
2016 is the year that Site C will go down!
Join us to support and celebrate the on-going integrity
of the precious Peace River Valley.
11th Annual Paddle for the Peace
Saturday July 9, 2016
Details and Registration from the 2015 event below.
Join us to celebrate protection of the integrity of the Peace River Valley at this unique event. Bring your canoes, kayaks or rafts and participate in a leisurely paddle down a portion of the incredibly scenic Peace River Valley, presently under threat by the unnecessary Site C dam.
Even if you don’t have watercraft, please feel free to join us on shore at the launch or takeout.
Saturday, July 9th, 2016
In person, at the event 9:00 to 11:30 a.m.
$10 per person; 13 and under free.
12 noon at the Halfway River Bridge on Hwy 29 between Fort St. John and Hudson’s Hope, BC.
Free hot breakfast:
9 – 11 a.m. at the launch site.
Bear Flat on Hwy 29, approximately 1.5 hr paddle downstream of the launch site. (There is a shuttle bus available to bring you back to get your vehicle from the launch site.)
Directions to the morning celebration:
From Hudson’s Hope or Fort St. John take Highway 29
Halfway River bridge is 25 minutes from Fort St. John towards Hudson’s Hope. You will see the traffic and signs.
From Prince George take Highway 29 at Chetwynd towards Hudson’s Hope.
Halfway River bridge is approximately 30 minutes from Hudson’s Hope towards Fort St. John.
Important Safety NotesThis is a family-oriented, alcohol-free event.
This year’s Paddle will take approximately 1 .5 hours on the river; participants must remember to bring snacks, water, sunscreen, rain gear, etc.
Life jackets are mandatory for all participants. Please bring any extra life jackets you may have to share with others.
Be prepared for the elements – it may be hot, rainy.. who knows – so pack for all weather.
Launch and takeout points will be well marked and managed by traffic control people.
Motor boats accompany the flotilla in case anyone gets into trouble.
A shuttle will take paddlers back to the launch location.
This event is organized and sponsored jointly by the Peace Valley Environment Association and West Moberly First Nations.
This is a wonderful opportunity to gather with hundreds of others who appreciate and want to protect the Peace River Valley.
Please share this invite with your friends!
We look forward to seeing you there!
Billionaire Investors Back a Gold Price Rally in 2016
by James Stafford - Oilprice.com
June 9, 2016
It wasn’t so long ago that some of the more famous investor gurus were shrugging off gold as nothing more than shiny trinkets with no investment value. They were wrong.
This safe haven is back, the recovery is clear, and there have been some very big changes of heart.
The biggest gold producers in the world have seen their share prices double this year. Not only are gold prices soaring, but producers are cutting costs and slimming down debt as they pave the way for gold to return to the top of the favored commodities list.
Even though gold dropped earlier in May, Thompson Reuters noted that shares outstanding for two major ETFs tracking gold rose 11 percent, and precious metals ETFs enjoyed four straight weeks of inflows in May. A ton of money is moving around here.
And thanks to an overvalued U.S. dollar, gold may have nowhere to go but up.
Gold has no upper limit on its price, and according to Harvard economist Kenneth Rogoff, speaking to the Financial Times recently, emerging economies might do well to shift all their U.S. dollar reserves to gold. Gold, he says, could be viewed as “an extremely low-risk asset” with average real returns comparable to very short-term debt.
Russia, it seems, would agree. Moscow hates the U.S. dollar and craves gold, tripling its gold holdings between 2005 and 2015.
Weak prices, stock market vulnerabilities, and a weakening currency in 2015 also led Chinese investors to buy almost 1,000 metric tons of gold as a safe haven asset.
Major Money, Massive Returns
Billionaires have certainly taken notice. They are dumping massive amounts of money into gold right now and seeing huge returns. They are now ahead of a game that has seen prices rise almost 14 percent this year—even with the recent correction.
Take George Soros, for instance, who recently invested $475 million into Barrick Gold, which has since doubled in value.
Well-known Canadian mining philanthropist-investor Frank Giustra also appears to be excited about the recovery of gold, buying close to 13 percent of a high-potential junior miner, Sandspring Resources, which is advancing a major gold prospect in Guyana.
Marc Faber, the author of the Gloom, Boom and Doom report—known to offer dreary outlooks on stocks and investments—told CNBC last week that he believes gold, oil and gas shares have “significant upside potential in 2016” as investors hope to use them as long-term stores of value.
Part of the upside potential is based on the fact that gold has gotten much smarter. Commodities downturns encourage innovation. Gold is surging in part because its miners have become much more efficient, according to Bloomberg. It’s not just about more attractive exchange rates for miners outside of the U.S.
The amount companies are spending to produce an ounce of gold today has fallen by around 34 percent since 2012, the news agency says. This is what long-term billionaire investors want to see, and it’s why they are comfortable putting big cash into gold right now.
In response to particularly weak U.S. job growth rate in May, the price of gold jumped by nearly 3 percent last week, and it’s still maintaining this bullish attitude.
Bullion may have suffered a price dip earlier in May, but the per-ounce rate remains almost 15 percent stronger than the beginning of the year.
The first few days of June have also seen gold prices spike upward, signaling a swift recovery from mellow May and a continuation of 2016’s legacy as a golden year for the namesake commodity.
While all major gold stocks have had an amazing year so far, the top three, according to ProfitConfidential, are Barrick Gold, up more than 160 percent year-to-date, Goldcorp, up more than 40 percent, and Newmont Mining, up 75 percent.
Fundamentally, Gold is Now a Great Junior Game
The first quarter of this year has made it brilliantly clear that junior miners are a good bet. Their fundamentals are stronger than ever—and this is, after all, where all the initial exploration work is done.
It’s not just the major miners who are getting smarter and more efficient. The juniors have been producing at all-in sustaining costs coming in hundreds of dollars lower than the per ounce price. Operating margins have never looked better.
But the best part for the savvy investor is that everyone catches on first to the major miners, while the juniors stay off the radar, which means that while gold prices surge, there is a short window of opportunity when the juniors are selling cheap. Even so, many of them have seen their stocks double since early this year.
Sandspring Resources, for one, is focused on advancing its 100 percent owned, 6.9-million-ounce Toroparu Gold Project in Guyana. It also continues to explore its over 98,000-hectare highly prospective concession.
Toroparu is the fourth-largest gold deposit in South America held by a junior instead of a major, offering great upside with a rising gold price and as a potential acquisition target.
Other juniors could also benefit from the recovery of gold while their shares remain cheap enough to lure in new investors, including GoGold Resources, with its flagship project in Mexico; Pilot Gold, in Turkey, Utah and Nevada; or Lydian International focused on Armenia and Georgia.
What happens with juniors is that they do all the heavy lifting, and then the majors swoop in with the big money once a new discovery is ready to be mined.
While the major miners are already enjoying a stunning revival and the billionaire investors are already raking in the revenues, the juniors are the next spot on this high-speed commodities train, because this is where the real reward will be—and it just got a lot less risky.
Ireland Continues to Remember 1916 and Continues to Betray It (With Some Canadian Help)
by Aidan O'Brien - CounterPunch
June 9, 2016
Dublin - Do you remember Ireland’s 1916 commemorations in late March? Do you remember the spectacle? Do you remember all those fighting words and strong images of national independence and national justice? The attention of the world was on Dublin for a few days and Dublin played the part of the rebel city.
Well it was all a bit too real and too popular. And for that reason it had to be officially repressed as soon as possible.
The official repression occurred on May 26 when the Irish state honoured the British soldiers who butchered Dublin in 1916.
That’s right! It’s worth reiterating: a few weeks after glorifying the 1916 birth of modern Ireland, the Irish state on May 26 turned around and honoured the men who stuck a bayonet through the heart of modern Ireland. Think about that.
The Irish state needless to say was doing this on the sly. In a military graveyard somewhere in Dublin the Irish state together with the British army prayed for the British war dead of Easter 1916. It was a semi-secret ceremony because the Irish people would’ve been insulted otherwise.
You must remember that the Irish state isn’t the Irish people. The Irish state being more in tune with the UK and the EU (and of course with the USA) than with the Irish people.
One brave Irish protester (Brian Murphy) however did sneak into this prayer for the Empire to register the disgust of the Irish (the living and the dead). But the words “insult” and “disgust” were barely out of his mouth when the Canadian ambassador (Kevin Vickers) attacked him.
That’s right! It’s worth repeating: Canada’s representative in Ireland attacked a peaceful Irish protester at a gathering in Dublin to honour the Empire that viciously attacked Ireland in 1916. Think about that.
The Irish media thought this Canadian defence of the British Queen was funny. But the Irish media are so detached from the Irish people they might as well be located in Canada. So the “Irish” declared the Canadian ambassador to be a hero. And the peaceful Irish protester? He was arrested. Then mocked.
In contrast the Canadian media and the Canadian government understood the craziness of the incident and felt a bit embarrassed.
But not the Irish. Nothing it seems embarrasses the Irish state and the Irish media. They continue to feel around in the dark – looking for a Dollar here and a Euro there and to hell with Ireland.
So on May 31 Ireland’s memories of 1916 moved north of the border. In Belfast the Irish state continued to honour the British military. This time the object of “Irish” respect was the British navy. The excuse was the number of Irishmen who died at sea while fighting for Britain in the First World War.
Standing alongside British royalty the Irish state tossed “red poppies” into the sea. Why? Why honour cannon fodder if you’re not condemning at the same time the practice of using people like cannon fodder? Why honour the desperate Irishmen who joined the British army for economic reasons if you’re not at the same time condemning the economic conditions that turned the men into mince meat?
Why recall Irish mercenaries without questioning the system? Because the contemporary Irish state is a mercenary itself. One that is trapped in similar economic conditions to those of 1916. Conditions which force one to betray oneself. And ethics in general.
On May 26, the same day that the Irish state was praying for the British who butchered Dublin, the Irish Treasury was informing the Irish people that Ireland’s national debt amounts to €207 billion.
In 2007 Ireland’s debt was €47 billion. So the treasonous Irish bank bailout of 2008, and the equally bad EU enforcement of this bailout in 2010, more than quadrupled “overnight” Ireland’s debt burden.
And today? The Irish Treasury broke down the figures. Each Irish worker it said “owed” €102,000. And servicing this debt cost each Irish worker in tax€3,400 a year. In 2007, in comparison, the servicing of Ireland’s national debt cost each Irish worker €900 a year.
According to Bloomberg the Irish Treasury got it sums right. Ireland’s national debt per capita ($48,730) is the highest in Europe. Indeed on a per capita basis the “unsustainable” Greek public debt ($31,850) is more attractive than Irish debt. In fact in the world, only Japan’s per capita public debt ($77,660) surpasses Ireland’s. Tiny agricultural Ireland however is not mighty Japan.
And who does Ireland owe? According to Britain’s Daily Mail: in 2010 Ireland owed the British banks £88 billion. This means, in short, that Ireland owes Britain £88 billion worth of “red poppies”. And to hell with 1916.
One might feel sorry for Ireland’s financial predicament. But it was self inflicted. Indeed the two political parties that emerged from Ireland’s revolutionary years (1916-1921) and have since ruled Ireland, Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, both share the blame. The former pressed the “bailout button”. And the latter kept the finger on it.
And these two kamikaze decision makers are the ones who now decide to treat the butchers of Ireland and Ireland’s mercenaries with as much respect as Ireland’s Freedom Fighters. Ireland’s moral compass to put it mildly, is broken.
Ireland’s debt trap is an immoral trap in every way. Because it can only be serviced by nonstop payments to the Empire: the NATO establishment. And these payments are not just financial but political as well. Indeed the payments involve culture and history too. Ireland’s debt in a word is totalitarian. And it is swallowing the truth. The truth about the past as much as the truth about the present.
And Kamikaze “Ireland” continues to crash itself into 1916. Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil managed to form an administration at the beginning of May. One acting as government and the other acting as opposition. Nonetheless the Irish people remain leaderless. And that probably is a good thing. Since the solution to the debt and to history remains in the streets.
At this point it’s worth repeating a few words from Ireland’s 1916 Proclamation of Independence:
“We declare the right of the people of Ireland to the ownership of Ireland, and to the unfettered control of Irish destinies, to be sovereign and indefensible. The long usurpation of that right by a foreign people and government has not extinguished the right, nor can it ever be extinguished except by the destruction of the Irish people.”
Think about that. About the betrayal and the solution.
Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.
More articles by:Aidan O'Brien