Saturday, December 30, 2017

Turning Ta’iz: Yemeni City Battleground

Remaining Peaceful Was Their Choice

by Kathy Kelly - VCNV

December 31, 2017

People living now in Yemen’s third largest city, Ta’iz, have endured unimaginable circumstances for the past three years. Civilians fear to go outside lest they be shot by a sniper or step on a land mine.

Both sides of a worsening civil war use Howitzers, Kaytushas, mortars and other missiles to shell the city.

Residents say no neighborhood is safer than another, and human rights groups report appalling violations, including torture of captives. Two days ago, a Saudi-led coalition bomber killed 54 people in a crowded market place.

Ta’iz 2011 image source: https://rajaalthaibani.

Before the civil war developed, the city was regarded as the official cultural capital of Yemen, a place where authors and academics, artists and poets chose to live.

Ta’iz was home to a vibrant, creative youth movement during the 2011 Arab Spring uprising. Young men and women organized massive demonstrations to protest the enrichment of entrenched elites as ordinary people struggled to survive.

The young people were exposing the roots of one of the worst humanitarian crises in the world today. They were sounding an alarm about the receding water tables which made wells ever harder to dig and were crippling the agricultural economy. They were similarly distressed over unemployment. When starving farmers and shepherds moved to cities, the young people could see how the increased population would overstress already inadequate systems for sewage, sanitation and health care delivery. They protested their government’s cancellation of fuel subsidies and the skyrocketing prices which resulted. They clamored for a refocus on policy away from wealthy elites and toward creation of jobs for high school and university graduates.

Despite their misery, they steadfastly opted for unarmed, nonviolent struggle.

Dr. Sheila Carapico, an historian who has closely followed Yemen’s modern history, noted the slogans adopted by demonstrators in Ta’iz and in Sana’a, in 2011:

‘Remaining Peaceful Is Our Choice,’ and ‘Peaceful, Peaceful, No to Civil War.’”

Carapico adds that some called Ta’iz the epicenter of the popular uprising.

“The city’s relatively educated cosmopolitan student body entertained demonstration participants with music, skits, caricatures, graffiti, banners and other artistic embellishments. Throngs were photographed: men and women together; men and women separately, all unarmed.” 

In December of 2011, 150,000 people walked nearly 200 kilometers from Ta’iz to Sana’a, promoting their call for peaceful change. Among them were tribal people who worked on ranches and farms. They seldom left home without their rifles, but had chosen to set aside their weapons and join the peaceful march.

Yet, those who ruled Yemen for over thirty years, in collusion with Saudi Arabia’s neighboring monarchy which fiercely opposed democratic movements anywhere near its borders, negotiated a political arrangement meant to co-opt dissent while resolutely excluding a vast majority of Yemenis from influence on policy. They ignored demands for changes that might be felt by ordinary Yemenis and facilitated instead a leadership swap, replacing the dictatorial President Ali Abdullah Saleh with Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi, his vice-president, as an unelected president of Yemen.

The U.S. and neighboring petro-monarchies backed the powerful elites. At a time when Yemenis desperately needed funding to meet the needs of starving millions, they ignored the pleas of peaceful youths calling for demilitarized change, and poured funding into “security spending” - a misleading notion which referred to further military buildup, including the arming of client dictators against their own populations.

And then the nonviolent options were over, and civil war began.

Now the nightmare of famine and disease those peaceful youths had anticipated has become a horrid reality, and their city of Ta’iz is transformed into a battlefield.

What could we wish for Ta’iz? Surely, we wouldn’t wish the terror plague of aerial bombardment to cause death, mutilation, destruction and multiple traumas. We wouldn’t wish for shifting battle lines to stretch across the city and the rubble in its blood-marked streets. I think most people in the U.S. wouldn’t wish such horror on any community and wouldn’t want people in Ta’iz to be singled out for further suffering.

We could instead build massive campaigns demanding a U.S. call for a permanent cease fire and an end of all weapon sales to any of the warring parties. But, if the U.S. continues to equip the Saudi-led coalition, selling bombs to Saudi Arabia and the UAE and refueling Saudi bombers in midair so they can continue their deadly sorties, people in Taiz and throughout Yemen will continue to suffer.

The beleaguered people in Ta’iz will anticipate, every day, the sickening thud, ear-splitting blast or thunderous explosion that could tear apart the body of a loved one, or a neighbor, or a neighbors’ child; or turn their homes to masses of rubble, and alter their lives forever or end their lives before the day is through.

Kathy Kelly ( co-coordinates Voices for Creative Nonviolence (

Friday, December 29, 2017

As Close to Defiance Canada Dare Tread: Justin Says "No" (Sort of) to Israel/America

Behold a Miracle at the UN: Canada Abstains from its Usual Pro-Israeli Vote

by Yves Engler - Dissident Voice

December 26th, 2017

Thank you, President Donald Trump and US UN Ambassador Nikki Haley for helping end the Trudeau government’s ‘Israel no matter what’ voting pattern.

On Thursday Canada actually abstained on a UN General Assembly resolution, which,

“affirms that any decisions and actions which purport to have altered, the character, status or demographic composition of the Holy City of Jerusalem have no legal effect, are null and void and must be rescinded in compliance with relevant resolutions of the Security Council, and in this regard, calls upon all States to refrain from the establishment of diplomatic missions in the Holy City of Jerusalem.”

Since taking office the Trudeau government has repeatedly isolated Canada with the US, Israel and a few tiny Pacific island states in voting against UN resolutions upholding Palestinian rights. Last Tuesday, for instance, Canada opposed a motion supported by 176 nations calling for Palestinian statehood. Two weeks earlier the Trudeau government also voted against a resolution on Jerusalem backed by 151 UN member states.

As RawStory pointed out, the media attention devoted to Trump and Haley’s threats against those voting in favour of the Jerusalem resolution actually drove Trudeau to abstain on Thursday instead of his usual pro-Israel vote. While Stephen Harper’s anti-Palestinian positions at the UN found support among many of the party’s base of right wing Jews, evangelical Christian Zionists and Islamophobes, the same is not true of the Liberals.

Prominent Trudeau fundraisers such as serial tax evader Stephen Bronfman and the late murder suspect Barry Sherman may want Canada to side with Israel ‘no matter what’, but younger, darker skinned and progressive Liberal supporters believe Palestinians are human beings. They overwhelmingly reject the notion that a 3,000-year-old book grants Poles, Austrians, New Yorkers, etc. the right to take a city from its indigenous inhabitants or that the world should enable Russians, French, Torontonians, etc. to gather in the Middle East to fulfill Bible literalists’ interpretation of the supposed “word of God”.

The Liberal leadership understands that party supporters and the broader public are uncomfortable with Israeli expansionism and Canada isolating itself from world opinion on the matter so the more attention devoted to their UN votes the more equivocal the Liberals’ position.

Hopefully the recent attention devoted to the Trudeau government’s extreme pro-Israel voting record will spur further abstentions on Palestine votes (at this point its probably too much to expect Trudeau to vote in support of international law and official Canadian policy).

Regularly abstaining at the UN on Palestine would be a step forward, but these votes are only the tip of the iceberg in Canada’s multifaceted contribution to Israeli expansionism. The two-decade old Canada-Israel Free Trade Agreement includes the occupied West Bank as a place where Israel’s custom laws apply. Ottawa also has a wide-ranging “border management and security” agreement with Israel, even though the two countries do not share a border. Additionally, Canada’s Communications Security Establishment has long gathered intelligence on Palestinians for Israel.

Every year, registered Canadian charities channel tens of millions of dollars to projects supporting Israel’s powerful military, racist institutions and illegal settlements. The Canada Revenue Agency allows organizations whose projects contravene international law and official Canadian policy to write tax credits for these donations.

Despite a GDP per capita greater than Spain or Italy (and equal to Japan), hundreds of registered Canadian charities deliver hundreds of millions of dollars a year to Israel. How many Canadian charities funnel money to Spain or Japan?

Even a large swath of Canada’s “aid” to the Palestinians – who have one-twentieth of their occupier’s per capita GDP – is explicitly designed to advance Israel’s interests. Over the past decade Ottawa has delivered over $100 million and sent military and police trainers to build a security apparatus to protect the corrupt Mahmoud Abbas-led Palestinian Authority from popular disgust over its compliance in the face of ongoing Israeli settlement building.

There have been increasing references in the past months during high-level bilateral meetings with the Israelis about the importance and value they place on Canada’s assistance to the Palestinian Authority, most notably in security/justice reform,” read an internal 2012 note signed by then Canadian International Development Agency president Margaret Biggs. 

In the heavily censored note Biggs explained that “the emergence of popular protests on the Palestinian street against the Palestinian Authority is worrying and the Israelis have been imploring the international donor community to continue to support the Palestinian Authority.”

Drawing on previously classified materials, Carleton Criminology Professor Jeffrey Monaghan details Canada’s role in turning Palestinian security forces in the West Bank into an effective arm of Israel’s occupation.

In Security Aid: Canada and the Development Regime of Security, Monaghan describes a $1.5 million Canadian contribution to Joint Operating Centers whose “main focus … is to integrate elements of the Palestinian Authority Security Forces into Israeli command.”

He writes about Canada’s “many funding initiatives to the PCP [Palestinian Civilian Police]” which,

“has increasingly been tasked by the Israeli Defence Forces as a lead agency to deal with public order policing, most recently during IDF bombings in Gaza and during Arab Spring demonstrations.”

Trump’s decision to move the US Embassy to Jerusalem may well mark the end of the spurious “peace process” and Abbas’ US–Canada–Saudi–Israel backed Palestinian Authority. Hopefully, it will also be seen as a turning point in Canada’s effort to suffocate the Palestinian liberation struggle.

Yves Engler is the author of A Propaganda System: How Canada’s Government, Corporations, Media and Academia Sell War and Canada in Africa: 300 years of aid and exploitation.
Read other articles by Yves.

Turd in the Punch Bowl: Wash Post Hunts Ruskies at Competition Web Site

The New Hysteria on Kremlin Trolls

by Virginia Tilley - CounterPunch

December 29, 2017

On Christmas day, CounterPunch readers who opened the Washington Post were confronted by a startling lede in the top article.

Under the alarmist headline, “Kremlin Trolls Burned across the Internet as Washington Debated Options.” the piece reported that one “Alice Donovan” had contacted CounterPunch back in February 2016 and later posted articles on its website.

She had claimed to be a freelance journalist, but her first email to CounterPunch, sent at 3:26 a.m. (which, the Post reminded us darkly, was “the middle of the day in Moscow”), was shared to buttress the central claim drawn from FBI sources: “Donovan” was actually a covert Russian agent.

According to the Post,

“The FBI was tracking Donovan as part of a months-long counterintelligence operation code-named ‘NorthernNight.’ Internal bureau reports described her as a pseudonymous foot soldier in an army of Kremlin-led trolls seeking to undermine America’s democratic institutions.” 

Counterpunch had become the hapless propaganda patsy of this troll “army” and editor Jeffrey St. Clair was scrambling fruitlessly to sort out what had happened.

So far, so alarming. But CounterPunch readers are used to parsing media claims and under the briefest scrutiny the Post article quickly fell apart into a mass of unsupported assertions—even leaving aside obvious mysteries, such as why we are now supposed to take writing in the wee hours as revealing someone’s true location in Eastern Europe (I now wonder what my insomniac messages are suggesting) and why a writer as obscure as Donovan warranted the Post’s lede in the first place.

Most sobering about “Kremlin Trolls” was that the most basic information, obligatory for all responsible journalism, was conspicuously missing. How did the Post get access to this FBI information? What are these “internal bureau reports” exactly and what is their provenance (that is, who had handled them as they made their way to the Post, always a crucial question)? On what legal basis did the Post (that is, lead writer Adam Entous*) contact CounterPunch about someone under FBI scrutiny – assuming for the moment that this person, or pseudonymous person, was indeed under such scrutiny? And why consume a Post article lede with this one low-level obscure writer, then with 47 Twitter followers?

Moreover, what was the dreadful deed alleged Russian agent Donovan had perpetrated?

Increasingly, she seemed to be doing the Kremlin’s bidding by stoking discontent toward Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton and touting WikiLeaks, which U.S. officials say was a tool of Russia’s broad influence operation to affect the presidential race.

Everything was wrong with this language. “Seemed to be doing the Kremlin’s bidding?” This is pure innuendo, hardly “did” the Kremlin’s bidding. In fact, aside from (mishandled) assertions of FBI suspicions, “Kremlin Trolls” provided no hard evidence of any Kremlin connection with Donovan at all. “Stoking discontent toward … Hillary Clinton?” It hardly takes a Kremlin affiliation to explain popular “discontent” with a candidate that too many American voters disliked or detested for a plethora of reasons. And Donovan’s last alleged sin, “touting WikiLeaks?” Consider the Post’s quote from her:

“There’s no denying the emails that Julian Assange has picked up from inside the Democratic Party are real,” she wrote in August 2016 for a website called We Are Change. “The emails have exposed Hillary Clinton in a major way — and almost no one is reporting on it.”

This is mild, even bland, language in the larger context of the DNC scandal, Yet the Post treats a writer’s simply drawing attention to the leaked/hacked DNC files as evidence of espionage, taking as given that Wikileaks is a “tool of Russia’s broad influence operation.” (No evidence of such a “tool” function is provided, except an allusion to “U.S. officials,” which covers a vast gamut of people.)

In place of this evidence, the Post simply leaps, without explanation, in the next paragraph to imply Donovan’s connection to “Kremlin ambitions”:

The events surrounding the FBI’s NorthernNight investigation follow a pattern that repeated for years as the Russian threat was building: U.S. intelligence and law enforcement agencies saw some warning signs of Russian meddling in Europe and later in the United States but never fully grasped the breadth of the Kremlin’s ambitions.

All CounterPunch readers’ warning antennas should have been fully extended by this time, recognizing this shift as a stock rhetorical trick: guilt by rhetorical juxtaposition. (Logical fallacy 101 example: “Bob X was seen strolling through the neighborhood last night. Dangerous criminals are strolling through the neighborhood at night.” Intended take-away: “Bob X is a dangerous criminal.”)

Journalists also know that vital qualifiers like “seems” will commonly slip from readers’ memories, while vague allusions to “officials” and “reports” are weasel terms to imply evidentiary authority while lacking any (or hiding that one’s real source was someone speaking behind his hand in the back of a bar). Combined with a shrill headline, such methods lead inattentive readers to take speculation as fact and become willing soldiers for the campaign. Forget ideas like “evidentiary threshold.” Evidence itself has no real meaning in this coverage: it is, Trump-like, merely intuitive and visceral.

The intention of this rhetorical style was, in this instance, clear. For Post readers, the take-away in “Kremlin Trolls” was meant to be dire: to summarize, “a dangerous Russian agent in a Kremlin ‘army’ has planted stories in CounterPunch and other liberal forums under a pseudonym in a Russian government secret program to manipulate and subvert US politics; Counterpunch was duped by this agent; therefore, don’t trust CounterPunch.” Yet if its innuendo and other muck are sifted away, “Kremlin Trolls” actually boiled down to this:

“One of CounterPunch’s less-known writers might have been using a pseudonym.”

My God. The Republic is in peril.

We might want to set this article aside as an aberrant slip-up for the Post. But “Kremlin Trolls” only capped an extended and ongoing campaign of increasingly terrible Post journalism. For the past year, authors Entous (who joined the Post in 2016, and was caught on tape saying “I do all the stuff for the Post on this”), Ellen Nakashima and sometimes Greg Jaffe have been writing a series of fevered lead articles describing massive Russian cyber-espionage and trolling campaigns aimed at subverting (if not hijacking) the entire US political system. A ubiquitous feature of all these stories has been the above-noted slippery language: a common rhetorical ploy is to slide from evidence about “Russians” in one line (that is, people in Russia, Russian people anywhere), transposing this without explanation to “the Russians” (i.e., the state) in the next line, and, ipso facto, morphing this into “Putin” a few more lines down, eliding any question of actual connections among these levels.

Another feature has been the breathless and increasingly alarmist tone of the series, to the point where—at least, judging by the Post’s comment sections—a growing mass of the Post readership has become seized by the idea that the entire Republic is now under massive assault by a dangerous and insidious enemy, often personified as a kind of Dracula vision of President Putin.

With the same message reinforced by a fleet of fellow travelers (CNN, MSNBC, Slate, USA Today, etc.), any protest against this groupthink is now routinely met by accusations of being at best block-headed and at worst complicit in Russian espionage. Rare voices challenging the Russophobe narrative—for example, Glenn Greenwald’s occasional sparks of reality, including his devastating summary of related false reports—are discredited as Russia’s useful idiots or even as mere ciphers for Trumpist (or naïve leftist, or whatever) denialism. (My own feeble and rare attempts to urge caution on the Russia stories in various online comment sections have been met instantly with rapid fleets of accusations that I am a “troll,” “Russian bot,” “kamikaze drone strike,” “Sarah Huckabee,” “Vlad” and so forth. If we’re to worry about cyber armies seizing our social media, personally I’ve seen mostly the Russophobic one.)

The uniquely solid edifice of this rejection reflects how domestic politics on the Russia question have become so complex. For those who jumped on the Russophobia bandwagon because they hate President Trump, challenging the narrative of Russian subversion only buys into bogus White House denials and threatens a hoped-for avenue to his delegitimization and potential impeachment. For those old cold warriors who can’t imagine the earth without a Russian threat, resistance to the narrative imperils both the American Republic (for which the Russians are always the Evil Other, whatever they do) and an associated package of bloated defense contracts. Liberals, doves, hawks and conservatives are finding common ground here. A more dangerous confluence could hardly be imagined, as it combines forces normally in healthy opposition to each other in conspiring toward one grim end: a terrible and entirely pointless clash with Russia.

It goes without saying that good independent journalism is absolutely vital in this vast landscape of espionage, spying and intellectual theft. Most of us do want pressingly to know more about Russia cyber-espionage – and Chinese espionage, and any espionage that corrupts our public discourse — although we have far more grounds to worry about how our electoral system is being sabotaged by the GOP. But I also want coverage of such foreign threats to put them in proper perspective.

Of course the Russian government is playing around with our social media: every government that can is doing this. This is life in our cyber-world. We spy on them; they spy on us. We spin stories, they spin stories. We undermine or overthrow governments to get our way, others may try to do the same, if they can. Cyberspace is the New Great Game, played by global actors solo or in alliances, and the cyber-warriors described by Snowden will be with us forever.

But preserving our civil rights and security in this fraught setting rests heavily on how the fourth estate handles this brave new world. Does it really serves the polity to wax hysterical about just one component of it? Would such fear-mongering not just contribute to a coming clash among great powers that is utterly pointless and, in its potential for global mayhem, too terrible to imagine? Perspective and proportion are vital here.

Instead, what we are getting from sources like the Post series is a frankly Trumpesque view that it is not only acceptable but laudatory to buck fusty old journalistic restraints in favor of fiery language and gut impressions. This very message was indeed pushed in another part of “Kremlin Trolls,” where the writers dedicate several paragraphs to describing the dogged efforts of State Department Undersecretary Richard Stengel to get help for a propaganda campaign. Having been turned down by a whole country full of people who doubted his obsession too much to help with it, he finally found support from a 29-year-old shut-in living in Brighton, England. That this story might otherwise prompt readers to doubt Stengel’s read of the situation is derailed by pushing the staple meme of the heroic American lone campaigner.

Russophobia politics in the US are vast and complicated, and far beyond my ability to describe here. But I can raise an alarm. All of us have a growing stake keeping journalists accountable. This can even be considered a civil duty. So forget Fox News for the moment: let us consider the Post.

Minimally, I’d like to know how Adam Entous, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Jaffe attained such star positions in a top-flight news outlet when their writing is so obviously a thicket of innuendo, logical leaps, slippery language transitions, unnamed sources, inflated threats and sheer speculation morphing into claims of fact.

Now that they have so crudely overstepped in bringing these methods to discredit CounterPunch, their coverage deserves the hottest spotlight. Let us undertake that scrutiny with the care and urgency that it clearly requires.

* Update: After finishing this article I was informed that Adam Entous is moving this year to the New Yorker. I suggest that the same closer scrutiny should follow him to this new outlet.

Virginia Tilley (born 1953) is an American political scientist specialising in the comparative study of ethnic and racial conflict. She is Professor of Political Science at Southern Illinois University-Carbondale in the USA.
More articles by:Virginia Tilley

Thursday, December 28, 2017

he Modern Shadow State Template

How former Nazi official Reinhard Gehlen erected a state within a state in post-war Germany

by Wolfgang Weber - WSWS

27 December 2017

Over 100,000 pages of documents relating to the post-World War II former head of the German Federal Intelligence Service (BND) Reinhard Gehlen (1902-1979) have been leaked to the Süddeutsche Zeitung (SZ). In its edition of December 1, SZ reporters Uwe Ritzer and Willi Winkler devote four pages to an overview of the documents.

The archive includes reports from spies, political “situation reports,” dossiers on politicians, artists and personalities from the academic world, correspondence and personal records. All of this material was unknown to historians until now.

Much of it appears to be historically worthless snippets such as receipts for daily expenses, condolences and greeting cards, but there is also information of major importance.
Reinhard Gehlen

Over the course of two decades, Gehlen meticulously collected everything and placed it under wraps in a private archive when he retired in 1968, thus ensuring its secrecy even after his death.

The material confirms and embellishes well known facts with many photos, film footage, documents recorded on microfilm, names and detailed information. According to the SZ, it explains how Gehlen prepared for “the period after” just weeks before the capitulation of the German Army (Wehrmacht) at the end of World War II.

During the war, Gehlen was head of the Foreign Army East Division of the General Staff, in charge of collecting information on the social, economic and political life of Nazi Germany’s main target in the war, the Soviet Union. His role in the war was crucial to his career after it.

The SZ documents reveal how Gehlen and his closest associates secretly buried the files in the mountains of Upper Bavaria to be used as a bargaining chip for his personal negotiations with the victorious Allied powers. Shortly after Germany’s surrender, Gehlen was feted by the US Army for his “expert knowledge” and was flown to the United States. There he struck a deal that allotted him the task of heading a secret service in Germany at the behest of the CIA. In this way, the SZ reporters write, Gehlen rose to become “one of the most powerful men in the Federal Republic… without any break in his biography.”
A “transfer company” for former Nazis and right-wing Wehrmacht officers

It is already known that after the war, Gehlen worked with Nazi criminals, generals and Wehrmacht officers as well as former SS and Nazi Secret Service officers. Details of such collaboration were revealed by the historical commission set up some years ago to investigate the history of the BND. What is new is the documentation of the systematic character and scale of his activities—and the extent to which he was supported and protected by Germany’s first post-war government under the Christian Democratic leader Konrad Adenauer.

The SZ authors write that the “Gehlen Organization,” as the BND was called before 1956, was “the best conceivable job-creation office for ex-officers and old Nazis” following the downfall of the Nazi dictatorship. Equally fitting would be the designation “transfer company.”

However, in contrast to today’s transfer companies, Gehlen’s apparatus did not serve to smooth the path of employed workers to unemployment, but rather facilitated the smooth transfer of the repressive apparatus and leading staff of the Third Reich to the post-war German Federal Republic.

In keeping with its continuity with the Nazi apparatus, the Gehlen Organization moved its operations in December 1947 (70 years ago) to the Reichssiedlung Rudolf Heß—a secluded residential quarter in the community of Pullach in the forests to the south of Munich that had housed high-ranking Nazis.

The driving force behind this apparatus was a profound hatred of communism. For Gehlen, this meant not so much the Stalinist rulers in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. As the documents show, at a later stage Gehlen helped his close confidant Berthold Beitz, representing the Krupp Group, to establish economic contacts with Eastern countries in the face of opposition from the German government. In return, Beitz operated as an informant for the BND, reporting extensively after every one of his visits abroad.

For Gehlen’s apparatus, “communism” was everything relating to the working class—its organizations, political leaders and parties, and the October Revolution and Soviet Union, which continued to exist despite its Stalinist degeneration. Gehlen’s conception corresponded exactly to what Adolf Hitler designated in Mein Kampf as Marxism or Bolshevism, and which Hitler declared to be the main enemy of the National Socialists.

Hence, it goes without saying that politicians and personalities from the sphere of cultural and academic life who were opponents of National Socialism during the Third Reich were among the first targets of the Gehlen Organization’s persecution of communists.

The archive material includes a carefully composed dossier on the lawyer and political scientist Wolfgang Abendroth, who was banned from working as a legal trainee in 1933 due to his socialist leanings. A few years later, Abendroth was sent into a punishment battalion of the Wehrmacht active in the war in Greece. He deserted from the Army and joined the Greek resistance movement.

After the war, he commenced teaching as a lecturer at the University of Leipzig. This was sufficient to place him in the first ranks of Gehlen’s list of “enemies of the state.” Abendroth was surrounded by Gehlen’s agents, who diligently sent their observations and notes to Gehlen, all of which are found in the 100,000 files of his private archive.

An open question is how many other cases of BND persecution and harassment of Nazi opponents, socialists and Trotskyists are to be found in the mountain of files.
“Uncontrolled co-ruler of the German Republic”

Probably the most spectacular discovery in this initial review of the archive material is the evidence that the BND planted an informant and probably a provocateur in the leadership of the Social Democratic Party (SPD) at a very early stage. Through the work of his agent, Gehlen was able to observe over many years his most prominent target, SPD leader Willy Brandt, who was foreign minister in the grand coalition (SPD and Christian Democratic Union/Christian Social Union) from 1966 and in 1969 chancellor of the coalition between the SPD and the Free Democratic Party (FDP). As foreign minister, Brandt was spied upon by his own foreign intelligence service.

Willy Brandt

The BND collected photos and other material about Brandt’s private life, which it used to blackmail him and subsequently engineer his resignation as chancellor in May 1974. Federal Police (BKA) Chief Horst Herold had an entire dossier compiled on the basis of this material.

The unmasking of Chancellor Brandt’s confidante Günter Guillaume and Guillaume’s wife as agents of the East German Stalinist regime was passed on to the FDP and SPD leadership and to Brandt himself to prove the latter’s susceptibility to blackmail and make his resignation appear inevitable.

The BND had known that Guillaume and his wife were East German agents since 1954 but had kept this knowledge to itself, only to use it 20 years later to initiate Brandt’s downfall and a decisive turn in West German politics. Gehlen’s most important agent in the SPD leadership for this operation “behind enemy lines” was SPD Information Director Fried Wesemann. As the archive footage shows, Wesemann passed on to Gehlen information about the internal discussions, decisions and personal details of the SPD leadership and was able to influence them by virtue of his position within the party.

This revelation is not just a colorful anecdote from a story long past. Rather, it is a serious warning of the dangers to the working class and its democratic rights emanating from the BND today. The SZ authors rightly draw the conclusion from the documentary evidence that the Gehlen Organization had risen to become an “uncontrolled co-ruler of the German Republic.” It became and remains a state within the state, founded and built by former Nazi functionaries and fascist criminals who recruited and trained its staff and agents without a trace of democratic control over its reactionary operations, involving mass surveillance, provocations, repression and manipulation of political life.

Today, the BND no longer resides in a secluded Bavarian forest. It recently moved to a huge new complex in the middle of the capital, Berlin, with a staff of over 6,500 “office workers,” which does not even count the agency’s thousands of agents. The complex of buildings is larger than the federal Chancellery and the German parliament (Bundestag) combined.

The BND is still beyond any democratic control. On December 8, the SZ reported on a 39-page secret report by an “independent body” set up last spring to control the BND, after it became known that it, in collaboration with the US National Security Agency (NSA), had illegally tapped, stored and evaluated billions of items of internet data. The lawyers leading the investigating body—two federal judges and one federal prosecutor—complained in their report that they were unable to complete their work because they were denied access to important information.
BND traditions rooted in the Holocaust

Based on the archive documents, it is now possible to confirm a long-standing suspicion of reputable historians, but one that the Christian Democrats and the German Chancellery continue to deny—namely, that the Adenauer government was involved in maintaining links and utilizing a relationship with one of the main criminals of the Nazi period, Alois Brunner.

Brunner was the deputy and right-hand man of Adolf Eichmann in the organization of the Holocaust. He personally oversaw mass deportations and mass executions and exhibited exceptional sadistic cruelty in detecting, hunting down, torturing and murdering Jews, especially Jewish women and children, in Austria, France, Italy and Greece. After the war, he worked under a false name for the US occupation forces, and later in Essen at the Carl Funke mine.

Adolf Eichmann

When his true identity threatened to emerge in 1954, Gehlen used his apparatus to help Brunner flee to Syria, where he again lived under a false name, presumably until 2009 or 2010.

In 1961, Brunner believed he had detected an opportunity to make himself useful to the German government and thus end his life in a foreign country under a false name. In the course of the trial of Adolf Eichmann, who had been abducted by the Israeli intelligence service in Argentina in 1960, Hans Globke, head of the Chancellery of Adenauer, was in great danger of losing his reputation and position.

Globke was responsible for both the personnel and day-to-day policy of the federal cabinet. He was the closest confidant of the chancellor. He was also the author of the Nazi race laws of 1936 and a leading commentator on Nazi “jurisprudence.”

These facts were well known and Globke had been the target of public criticism for his role under the Nazis, but Adenauer insisted that he remain in office with the argument that “You can’t throw away dirty water as long as you don’t have any clean water.” But now Globke had been requested to appear as a witness in the Eichmann trial, which would have made his role as the latter’s henchman a matter of public record.

With the support of Adenauer, Gehlen was able to persuade the prosecutor in Israel that Globke should not take the stand. The SZ quotes Gehlen’s note: “Attorney General Hausner already told me on the third day of the trial that Dr. Globke is taboo to him.”

However, a number of daily papers cited the trial testimony of former Wehrmacht officer Max Merten, who had stated that Globke personally ordered the deportation of about 20,000 Jews from Thessaloniki in Greece, thereby confirming that he was directly involved in the Holocaust.

It was at this critical point that Alois Brunner offered his services as a “witness for the defense” of Globke. Gehlen helped establish the contact with the German chancellor’s office and discussed with Globke multiple times all the pros and cons, along with the organizational and legal issues involved in accepting Brunner’s offer.

In the end, they decided to use another weapon from the arsenal of the BND, which promised more success and less risk: a targeted media campaign. Gehlen noted in his files: “Secretary of State (Globke) agreed to the idea cited, to attempt, regardless of the truth, to present Merten as an agent of Eastern propaganda, on the basis of existing findings.”
Influence on the media

The method of denouncing in the media any serious opponent who threatened to reveal the truth about the role of Globke in the Third Reich as an “agent of Pankow” (Pankow in East Berlin was at that time the seat of government of the Stalinist regime in East Germany) was also used against other opponents.

 German Federal Intelligence Service building

Beginning in 1958, Reinhard Strecker had organized an exhibition titled “Unatoned Nazi Justice,” which toured throughout West Germany. The exhibition documented the manner in which innumerable Nazi judges had been retained or restored to their exalted positions in the post-war Federal Republic under Adenauer and Gehlen. Based on intensive archival research in Poland and Czechoslovakia, Strecker published a book in 1961 titled Dr. Hans M. Globke—Statements from the Files. Documents, in which he exposed Globke as an active organizer of the Holocaust.

The BND set in motion a huge media campaign, using what would today equal hundreds of thousands of euros to defame Strecker and (successfully) prevent the further distribution of his book. The BND continued to persecute Strecker for decades (according to Strecker himself, until 2014), but from this time period we, of course, cannot expect new findings from these files.

However, what can be clearly studied from the files from Gehlen’s term of office is how a network of compliant scribblers and informers was set up in the editorial offices of German and probably also foreign media and deployed time and again to directly influence politicians and policies.

Thus, the SZ reporters describe the campaign set in motion by the BND against Willy Brandt when Brandt stood as the SPD’s choice as chancellor against Adenauer in the early 1960s and first raised the notion of a “policy of détente” relating to the Soviet Union and the German Democratic Republic (East Germany): “The notes in Gehlen’s secret documents repeatedly raise the question of whether Brandt could somehow be discredited.”

Eventually they found a means to defame Brandt in the eyes of Catholic, arch-conservative layers of the population and those who were still shaped by Nazi ideology: Brandt’s origins as an illegitimate child—his original name was Herbert Frahm—were portrayed as “shady,” “sinful” and dishonorable. His involvement in his youth as a socialist against the Franco regime in Spain and against Hitler, as well as his exile in Norway, where he adopted the political name of Willy Brandt, were denounced as evidence of “treason.”

The author of this article can still remember very well the infamous election campaign speeches by Adenauer, who repeatedly referred to “Brandt alias Frahm.” Today we can read in the files: Adenauer was citing from the script provided him by his man in the shadows, Gehlen.

The BND has its spies and mouthpieces in all of the major daily newspapers, referred to by Gehlen as “special connections.” One can read in the files that Marion Gräfin von Dönhoff, the editor of the weekly Die Zeit, was overwhelmed by the charm of Hitler’s General Gehlen and his “old-style European manners.” The countess responded with a number of particularly obsequious tributes to Gehlen and his honorable services in the critical year of 1963, when Gehlen’s reputation had suffered badly as a result of the Globke affair.

In this context, the following passage in the SZ report by Winkler and Ritzer is highly relevant: “The documents left behind by Gehlen show the extent of the collaboration with German journalists, who willingly made their contribution to the Pullach brotherhood. The most important connection was soon established with the news magazine Der Spiegel, and this is also confirmed by the documents. Time and time again Gehlen’s service takes pride in the number of Spiegel stories that had been deliberately leaked to the editorial board, rewritten or stopped before publication.”

One can justifiably claim that Der Spiegel was the most important organ of the Federal Intelligence Service. Hans Detlev Becker, the magazine’s editor and later publishing director, showed slavish devotion to the BND. The founder, owner and Editor-in-Chief Rudolf Augstein also requested that important articles be read beforehand by the BND, including his famous report from 1962 about the condition of the Federal Armed Forces titled “Partially Operative,” which triggered the so-called Spiegel affair of the same year. Three other agents on the Spiegel editorial board are cited in Gehlen’s notes from the 1950s and early 1960s.

If one assumes that the number of BND field staff and unofficial collaborators on media editorial boards has grown in line with its army of “office workers,” one has an idea of the extent of the BND’s infiltration of the media and influence on policy-making.

In this respect, it is telling that the revelations published in the Süddeutsche Zeitung have been ignored by Germany’s other major daily newspapers. Only one report appeared five days later in Die Welt, authored by Felix Kellerhoff, who in the past has often found appreciative words for Globke. In his comment, Kellerhoff claimed that the latest batch of files produced nothing new.

That Willy Brandt had been spied on as foreign minister and chancellor and treated like a public enemy? That’s not surprising, according to Kellerhoff. At a very early stage, Adenauer had requested information from the BND about the career of the then-mayor of Berlin.

According to Kellerhoff’s line of argumentation, the intelligence services were obliged to intervene. Their procedure could be described only as “logical” and “consistent,” he writes.

The fact that Gehlen protected and defended Globke? Kellerhoff responds:

“Even the CIA considered protecting Globke from constant attacks from East Berlin, as everyone has been able to read on the internet since 2006—but these attacks did not lead to anything.” 

In other words, CIA approval is sufficient to warrant a state within a state and all of its illegal operations.

“However,” Kellerhoff continues, “that the BND or CIA would have protected Eichmann, as is occasionally assumed by authors, is not backed up by the evidence cited.”

In fact, the SZ reporters never make this claim or attempt to provide evidence to support it. However, they do reveal the smooth cooperation between the BND and journalists ready and willing to function as informers and mouthpieces for an intelligence service founded and run by Nazis. On this issue Felix Kellerhoff has nothing to say.

"Pentagon Training ISIS Vets": Russia

Russia Charges Pentagon with Training ex-ISIS fighters

by Bill Van Auken - WSWS

28 December 2017

US special operations troops are secretly harboring and training former fighters of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) at the remote American base in Al Tanf, Syria near the strategic nexus of the country’s borders with Iraq and Jordan, according to a report issued by the Russian military command.

The charge was made Wednesday by General of the Army Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian military’s general staff and deputy defense minister. He said that Russian drones and satellites had detected brigades of ISIS militants in and around both Al Tanf and another US military base near the Kurdish-controlled city of Al-Shaddadi in the country’s northeast.

“They are in reality being trained there,” Gerasimov said in an interview with the Russian daily Komsomolskaya Pravda. “They are practically Islamic State,” he added. “But after they are worked with, they change their spots and take on another name. Their task is to destabilize the situation.” The Islamist fighters, he indicated, are being re-branded as the “New Syrian Army.”

According to the estimates of the Russian general staff, there are some 750 of the militants at the Shaddadi base, and roughly another 350 in Al-Tanf.

There was no immediate response from the Pentagon, which in the past has routinely denied charges of US collaboration with ISIS. In the waning days of the brutal US siege of the Syrian city of Raqqa, the so-called capital of ISIS, however, incontrovertible evidence emerged that Washington and its proxy ground force, the Kurdish-dominated Syrian Democratic Forces, intervened to rescue and relocate ISIS fighters trapped in the city.

The BBC documented the fact that the Pentagon and its Syrian Kurdish proxies organized a four-mile-long convoy to evacuate thousands of ISIS fighters, along with tons of weapons, ammunition and explosives from Raqqa last October.

The report was confirmed by the former official spokesman of the Syrian Democratic Forces, Talal Silo, who defected to Turkey in October. He told the media that some 4,000 people were driven out of the city, all but about 500 of them armed ISIS fighters.

Silo also charged that the same kind of operation had been carried out during the earlier sieges of Manbij in northern Aleppo province and Al Tabqah on the Euphrates River, where thousands of other ISIS fighters had been allowed to leave with their weapons and ammunition.

The American strategy was not, as repeatedly proclaimed by top US officials, to “annihilate” ISIS, but rather to turn it against Syrian army troops in order to prevent the government from reclaiming strategic territory, including the oil fields of Deir Ezzor province and the eastern border with Iraq, where Washington is attempting to carve out a zone of control.

The charges from Russia are entirely consistent with these earlier reports and serve as another damning exposure of the so-called “war on terrorism” that has been invoked as the rationale for US imperialism’s current intervention in Iraq and Syria, as well as its earlier wars in the region.

ISIS was itself a byproduct of Washington’s interventions in the Middle East, serving as both an instrument of and a pretext for American military aggression aimed at asserting US imperialist dominance over the oil-rich region.

The report of US forces training the ex-ISIS militants for deployment as a new anti-government militia in Syria constitutes one more indication that Washington is preparing a new and far more dangerous phase of its military intervention in the war-ravaged country.

In one sense, US strategy is coming full circle back to where it started, with the CIA’s fomenting of a war for regime change through the arming, funding and training of Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militias directed at toppling the government of President Bashar al-Assad and installing a more pliant US puppet regime.

These militias, however, were routed, thanks to not only the military support given by Russia and Iran to Assad’s forces, but also the overwhelming popular rejection of the socially and politically reactionary Islamist elements backed by Washington, the other Western powers, as well as Saudi Arabia and the other Gulf oil sheikdoms, Turkey and Israel.

The attempt to launch a war for regime change 2.0 is conceivable only on the basis of a far more direct and massive US military intervention in the country.

The governments of both Iraq and Syria have declared victory in the campaign against ISIS. The Pentagon itself told the Reuters news agency Wednesday that fewer than 1,000 ISIS fighters remained in both countries.

The US military refused to respond to a question from Reuters on whether some ISIS fighters could have escaped to other countries, saying that it would not “engage in public speculation.” In reality, the US military and intelligence apparatus knows full well where these fighters are and is reorganizing and retraining them.

Despite this supposed victory in the war on ISIS, Washington has given no indication that it intends to reduce its troop levels in either Iraq or Syria.

Russia, meanwhile, has announced the renewal of its agreements with the Syrian government on what it terms “permanent deployment bases” at the Mediterranean port of Tartus and at the airfield and command-and-control center in Hmeymim. Moscow has indicated that it intends to expand its Tartus naval base to accommodate a fleet of 11 warships, including nuclear-powered vessels and missile-armed destroyers.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday that with the defeat of ISIS, “the main anti-terrorist objective” was now the eradication of the Al Nusra Front, the Islamist militia formed as the Syrian affiliate of Al Qaeda. With its main forces now concentrated in northwestern Idlib province, Al Nusra operates in close alliance with the so-called rebels armed and funded by the CIA and Washington’s regional allies, and has been the principal beneficiary of the vast quantities of arms they have funneled into the country.

The shift toward a “post-ISIS” strategy in Syria places US imperialism ever more directly on a collision course with both Iran and Russia. From the beginning, Washington’s strategic objective, masked by the “war on terror” pretext, has been to exert military force as a means of countering Russian and Iranian influence, which it views as the principal obstacle to the assertion of US hegemony in the region.

The increasing threat of a direct military confrontation between the world’s two largest nuclear powers has been underscored by recent reports from both Washington and Moscow of alleged close encounters and provocative confrontations between US and Russian warplanes in the skies over Syria’s Euphrates River valley.

At the same time, the Trump administration has elaborated a vociferously anti-Iranian policy based on the forging of an alliance between the US, Saudi Arabia and its fellow Sunni oil monarchies and Israel. Saudi Arabia has repeatedly charged Tehran with carrying out “acts of war” based on unsubstantiated allegations of Iran arming Yemen’s Houthi rebels with missiles fired at the kingdom. For its part, Israel has warned that it will intervene militarily to prevent the creation of Iranian bases in Syria.

As US imperialism moves toward another escalation in Syria, with the threat of it mushrooming into a regional and even global war, the victims of the so-called anti-ISIS campaign continue to mount. Hundreds of thousands of refugees who were forced to flee and saw their homes bombed into rubble in both the Iraqi city of Mosul and the Syrian city of Raqqa are now facing near freezing cold along with the lack of adequate food and medical care, leading to new deaths.

A report last week by the Associated Press, based on data collected by the morgues and grave diggers of Mosul, indicated that the known toll in civilian lives resulting from the US “liberation” of the Iraqi city last July is approximately 11,000. This figure—10 times the civilian death toll acknowledged by the Pentagon—does not include many bodies still buried under the rubble.

Last July, Patrick Cockburn, the veteran Middle East correspondent of the British Independent, reported that Iraq’s former foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari had been informed by the intelligence service of Iraq’s Kurdistan Regional Government that the real death toll in Mosul was over 40,000.

That figure, like the latest reports of US protection and training for former ISIS fighters, was largely blacked out by the US corporate media, which faithfully covers up Washington’s war crimes.

Banal and Brutal: Two Takes on Ethnic Cleansing

US and Israel: Reevaluating a Toxic Relationship

by Zarefah Baroud - CounterPunch

December 28, 2017

In 2014, Michael Brown, an unarmed 18-year-old boy was shot six times in the back and head by police officer, Darren Wilson, while fleeing a confrontation in Ferguson, Missouri. The young boy was then left to bleed out in the street.

The police officer claimed that he feared for his life. The officer was acquitted.

In 2015, Mohammed al-Kasbeh, an unarmed 17-year-old boy was shot several times in the back and head by Israeli Colonel Yisrael Shomer, while fleeing a checkpoint in Ramallah. The young boy was with a group of other youth who were allegedly throwing stones at an Israeli military vehicle.
Photo by zeevveez | CC BY 2.0

[Listen to Zarefah Baroud speak with Chris Cook on Gorilla Radio here.]

When the windshield broke, the soldiers exited the vehicle in their gear, fired several shots, then walked up to Mohammed’s body which was bleeding out on the ground, and proceeded to kick the dying boy.

The solider claimed that he feared for his life. The soldier was acquitted.

The world is now looking to the United States and the state of Israel as a tightly-bound couple whose mutual commitment is poignantly reflected in the recent gesture made by President Donald Trump and his decision to relocate the American embassy to Jerusalem.

The United States and Israel are not an unlikely couple in their provocative union. Coming from similar beginnings, they have allied themselves in the fight to maintain their national aspirations to uphold racism, classism and colonialism/neocolonialism. Manifest Destiny and Zionism have become one and the same.

The most apparent manifestation of this is the two nations’ shared practices regarding militarized policing and borders, their shared attitudes and policy towards immigration, and the expansion of their carceral states. In 2013, Israeli Deputy Minister of Defense, Eli Ben-Dahan stated that: “[Palestinians] are beasts, they are not human”. Racist ideologies within Israel’s criminal justice system and military are transferred on to third parties like the US. This transfer takes place via the US military, police, and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) training in the United States.

Police Training and Brutality

Beginning less than a year after 9/11, the Anti-Defamation League, the American Jewish Committee’s Project Interchange and the Jewish Institute for National Security Affairs began fully sponsoring exchanges for various departments within the US government. US police, ICE officials, border agents, and FBI personnel would receive “counter terrorism” training in Israel by the Israeli Army, Border Patrol, national police, and the country’s secret service. Israeli military personnel also travel to the United States to collaborate with American police departments and government agencies.

Along with tactical training, shared ideologies of militarism, brutality and racism are exchanged.

This can be seen not only through their policing practices, but the attitude towards national security and immigration. During these trips, US officials visit Israeli checkpoints in the occupied Palestinian territories, prisons and airports. These spaces all have something in common; human rights abuses, torture, executions and other forms of vile brutality.

This exchange doesn’t only include training, but it involves the sharing of weaponry in a mutual effort to secure the US monopoly of power in the Middle East. The United States provides Israel with 3.8 billion dollars a year. The majority of those funds are funneled straight into military expenditures – to purchase tanks, guns, ammunition, and the exact same tear gas that was used against the protesters in Ferguson, Missouri, which is also used against the indigenous people of Palestine.

Walls and ‘Security’

When American ICE officials and border agents train in Israel, they visit Israeli checkpoints in occupied territories as well as the Apartheid Wall that divides historic Palestinian territories and annexes others. On January 28, 2017, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu tweeted his approval of Trump’s Mexico-US border wall proposal: “President Trump is right. I built a wall along Israel’s southern border. It stopped all illegal immigration. Great success. Great idea”.

This “solidarity” surpasses ICE and border agent training, for the Israeli company who built the Apartheid wall in Gaza and the West Bank is one of the companies being vetted to construct the proposed wall on the Mexican border. Not only that, but Elbit systems, an Israeli “defense electronics company”, has already been operating on the Mexican border, while further developing their security experiments in the occupied West Bank and the Gaza Strip.


The conversation of “illegal immigration” looks nearly identical in the United States and Israel. Yisrael Katz, a leading figure in the Israeli right-wing Likud party who heads both ministries for transportation, intelligence and atomic energy posted on Facebook:

“Europe is having a difficult time dealing with the migrants, and with creating solutions for this difficult issue. While there are differences between us (the migrants traveling to Europe must cross a sea while those heading for Israel have a direct overland connection), you can see the rectitude of our government’s policy to build a fence on the border with Egypt, which blocks the job-seeking migrants before they enter Israel...”.

This language clones that of the United States’ right-wing party, specifically comments made by Trump in his joint address to Congress on February 28, 2017:

“To any in Congress who do not believe we should enforce our laws, I would ask you this one question: What would you say to the American family that loses their jobs, their income, or their loved one because America refused to uphold its laws and defend its borders?”

Solidarity Struggles

Solidarity campaigns for the Palestinian people have surfaced around the globe, and it is no surprise that these cries for justice are strongly voiced by the Black and Latino communities in the United States and Latin America.

Daniela González López, the International coordinator with the People’s Human Rights Observatory and organizer for the International Caravan Against Walls, which organizes grassroots activist groups from Latin America, Palestine and the United States “with the aim of building common strategies against U.S. military intervention” was interviewed by Telesur.

She drew connections between settler colonialism and the occupying forces which for Mexicans and Palestinians alike repress their right to freedom of movement, making the indigenous and historic land inaccessible to the original inhabitants:

“Fundamentally, it is very important for us to unite with indigenous peoples,” explained Daniela González López, “We understand that the policies of colonization, occupation, and apartheid carried out by Israel against [the Palestinian people] are the same ones that have affected and continue to affect the peoples of Latin America”.

The Black Lives Matter movement has also been connected to the Palestinian struggle. As stated in their manifesto:

“Israel is an apartheid state with over 50 laws on the books that sanction discrimination against the Palestinian people. Palestinian homes and land are routinely bulldozed to make way for illegal Israeli settlements. Israeli soldiers also regularly arrest and detain Palestinians as young as 4 years old without due process. Every day, Palestinians are forced to walk through military checkpoints along the US-funded Apartheid Wall.”

The toxic US-Israel relationship has profound consequences that affect all Americans, especially those of who are already socio-economically disadvantaged and marginalized.

Only through solidarity among civil society can these ties be severed, pushing the US government to reconsider its alliance with Apartheid Israel, not only for the sake of oppressed Palestinians, but for oppressed Americans as well.

Zarefah Baroud is a Media and Communications student at the University of Washington.
More articles by:Zarefah Baroud

David Rovics' Magical Musical History Tour

Musical History: Exploring World History and Current Events with David Rovics

by David Rovics

December 28, 2017

A Musical Teaching Aid

My songs are used as teaching aids by school systems in Germany and Sweden and by the Zinn Education Project in the US. This Exploring World History series here is my effort to put a couple hundred of my songs into context in a way that I hope is engaging for anyone interested in these subjects.

There’s no need to go in order here, but it works best if you do. The prose is not meant to stand alone – it is meant to complement the audio or video that follows, which the text is elaborating upon.

Ideally, first you read the section beneath a headline, and then you click “play” and listen to the song.


MODULE 1: Empires and Their Discontents
MODULE 2: Robber Barons, Refugees and Rebellions
MODULE 3: World War
MODULE 4: Hot Wars, Cold Wars and More Refugees
MODULE 5: Planet and People
MODULE 6: Civil Wars
MODULE 7: Copenhagen, Cologne, Caracas, California
MODULE 8: A Movement Grows
MODULE 9: Before and After 9/11
MODULE 10: Iraq, Afghanistan, Palestine, New Orleans
MODULE 11: The Latter Naughties


MODULE 12: 2010-11
MODULE 13: 2012-13
MODULE 14: 2014-15
MODULE 15: 2016-17

The 200 or so songs herein tell 200 or so stories – no more. There are many more worth telling. I always welcome suggestions. After you suggest a topic, my first question for you will be “do you have an idea for a hook line?”

Teachers, professors or anyone else willing to review this teaching aid are encouraged to do so anywhere you see fit, and tag me in the post please! Or just email 1-3 sentences to me describing in your own words why you think this is a useful resource.

To discover more songs by other artists on many other topics, follow the Song News Network.

This resource is free for anyone to use, but if you’re able to support my work by joining my CSA I’d immensely appreciate it.

Boris' Moscow Conniption

Panic of Boris Johnson in Moscow: Agony of a Rotting Empire

by Andre Vltchek  - Dissident Voice

December 26th, 2017

It has been all very ugly, aggressive and often distinctly vulgar: the way the British Foreign Secretary has behaved before and during his official visit to Moscow.

Mr. Johnson described Russia as “closed, nasty, militaristic and anti-democratic” concluding that it could not be “business as usual”. He did not define what the UK has become, and the Russian hosts were too polite to explain.

The “business as usual” it was not.

During the last few weeks, the behavior patterns of both the UK and US have began increasingly to resemble those of the badly brought up leadership of the provincial Italian mafia: “You do as we tell you, or we’ll poke out your eyes… or break your leg… or perhaps we’ll kidnap your daughter”.

It appears that there is absolutely no shame left in Washington, in London, and in several other ‘provincial capitals’ of the Empire. Insults are piling on insults and then shot to all corners of the globe. Lies are being spread barefacedly, and bizarre deceptions and fabrications have been manufactured with impressive speed.

It is clear that the Empire is now missing its composure, its nerve; that it is scared of losing its control over the world and its monopoly on deciding what should be universally accepted as the truth.

The more the world realizes that it has been controlled and brutalized by shameless neo-colonialist gangsters, the more the Empire says, indirectly but sometimes even straight into the faces of the international community: “Our interests are what really matter! You will behave and obey, or we will smash you to pieces, starve you to death, invade you and bathe your land in blood”.

It is nothing new, of course: the West has been doing all this for many decades and centuries. Hundreds of millions of Asians, Africans, South Americans, Middle Easterners and Russians lost their lives in the process. All non-white continents were occupied, plundered and enslaved; all, without a single exception. But it was always done “for the good of the victims”, or “in order to protect them” (most likely from themselves).

The Brits were at the forefront of the art of manipulating the brains of their ‘subjects’. Their propaganda used to be refined, effective, some would even say ‘brilliant’. For decades after the end of the Second World War, they used to teach its offspring in North America and Australia, how to lie elegantly and how to convince even those nations that were being barbarically raped, that they were actually being rescued, pampered and made love to, gently and respectfully.

Now the masks have fallen off, and the ugly, gangrenous face of imperialism has been clearly exposed. Britain is simply not in the mood for refinements. It is brutal. It was always brutal. Now it is also, finally, honest.

It is all absolutely frightening, but it is also good, truly significant, that the West is suddenly behaving with such clarity.


What is it that Mr. Johnson is accusing Russia of? Of liberating Syria from those Western, Saudi, and Qatari backed terrorist groups? What else could be expected from the Foreign Secretary of the country that had been, for long centuries, the mightiest, ruthless and the most deceptive colonialist empire in the history of the mankind? Mr. Johnson is definitely not going to thank the liberator of the oppressed people, is it?

In his open letter to Boris Johnson, the British writer and journalist Neil Clark wrote:

"In April you canceled your planned visit to Moscow and traveled to the G7 talks instead, where you urged other countries to consider fresh sanctions against Russia (and Syria), saying that Vladimir Putin was “toxifying his image” by backing Assad.

"But if Russia hadn’t supported the Syrian government, ISIS/Al-Qaeda affiliates would probably have taken control of the whole country. Is that what you wanted?"

Of course it was! More chaos, the better!

The UK has been playing appalling, truly Machiavellian games all over the Middle East, and it has been doing it for centuries – in Palestine, in what is now Iraq and Kuwait, and in many other areas. To borrow from the colorful lexicon of the Prime Minister Lloyd George, it was reserving rights “to bomb those niggers”, to bomb them and to fry them alive, to rob them of everything, even of the land itself. The UK, together with their close friends and allies such as Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, managed to manufacture the most conservative branch of Islam, just in order to keep the local population in fear and submission to its commercial and colonialist interests.

The country responsible for hundreds of millions of dead, for tens of millions of human beings who have been hunted down like animals and shipped to America as slaves, has been reserving the right to judge the world, to decide what is ‘free’ and what is not, what is ‘democratic’ and what is dictatorial, what is true and what is false or even ‘fake’.

‘Fake news’ – the latest invention of the crumbling, paranoid Western regime!

Now the Empire is hunting down almost all ‘alternative media’ outlets, including the highly successful and informative RT (Russia Today) international television channel. It is important to remember and to understand: only the official Western channels and press agencies are allowed to spread indoctrination all over the world. To broadcast or to print ‘counter-propaganda’ (or call it an intellectual detox) is considered an arch crime, and punished as such. The RT is now portrayed as a hive of ‘agents’, at least in both Washington and London.


As the Syrian city of Aleppo was celebrating its first anniversary of liberation, grateful citizens were carrying, in reverent silence, portraits of Russian soldiers who spilled their blood for the liberation of their nation.

The Syrian people know, they clearly understand, who ignited the war, and who came to their rescue.

Boris Johnson can insult Russia as much as he desires, but one thing he cannot deny: there are no men, women and children carrying portraits of British soldiers, be it in Iraq or Afghanistan, in Syria, Libya or Yemen.

In Yemen, the UK talks peace but manufactures bombs that are enriching the already deadly Saudi arsenal of weapons, used to terrorize, and to murder thousands of defenseless Yemeni civilians.

Russian Foreign Secretary Sergei Lavrov said nothing about the crimes against humanity that are being committed by British troops in several parts of the world. I believe that he should have said something, that he should have said a lot, but Mr. Lavrov is a seasoned diplomat, and he knows perfectly well what is appropriate, what is effective and what is counter-productive.


Yes, the Empire is evidently in panic.

It is scared of everything: of public opinion all over the world, of the great Chinese new Silk Road initiative which is gaining great popularity all over the Asian continent, of the Sino-Russian alliance, of the silent rebellion in the ranks of its former allies, particularly in Asia, of the undeniably increasing economic might of its adversaries, of the new ‘alternative media’, and even of its own tail lost somewhere in the darkness.

For many years, one effective way for the Empire to control the world was to spread dark cynicism and nihilism, in order to ‘pacify’, to immobilize its colonies and even its own people living in Europe and North America. Now this strategy is backfiring: British and North American citizens are not only passive and unwilling to fight for the internationalist and left wing ideals, they are also unimpressed, even disgusted with their own rulers and regime. Yes, most of them are cynical about such countries like Russia, China or Venezuela, but they are also cynical about the corporatism, capitalism, as well as Western domestic and foreign policy. They are not willing to commit to anything. They trust nothing. They believe in very few things.

For the Empire, people like Boris Johnson are extremely useful buffoons: they offer cheap entertainment to the masses, and they deliver it with impeccable upper-class English accents (the BBC-style). They play it dirty, trying to smear, to humiliate their opponents. They try to bring back pride to their imperialist and white supremacist regime, by humiliating the victims, who are now finally standing on their feet and ready to fight for the right to be different.

People like Mr. Johnson turn reality upside down, and it is all done ‘spontaneously’, with a boyish, almost innocent grin. Except that there is actually absolutely nothing innocent in this entire charade. It is all perfectly choreographed, all extremely professional.


The Empire is rotting and it is in agony. It panics. It fights for its life.

Peace is dangerous. If the world is at peace, it is indisputable that the Western Empire would lose, in no time. It would be defeated on social, moral, creative and even economic fronts.

That is why the Empire is spreading chaos, fear, war, perpetual conflicts and antagonism everywhere, all over the world: in Syria and Afghanistan, Libya, in all corners of Africa and parts of Southeast Asia, in Iran, Central and South America, even in the tiniest countries of Oceania.

It is challenging, provoking North Korea, it is insulting countries that have already suffered more than enough from Western terror and barbarism; countries like Russia, China and Iran.

It threatens those nations (and even some international organizations like UNESCO) that are supporting Palestine.

It essentially bullies all those who want to live their own lives, their own cultures, and their own economic and social systems. It punishes those countries that are refusing to plunder their own people and resources in order to support the high-life of the Western nations. It overthrows governments, and murders individuals.


In Moscow, the British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson made a fool of himself. He did! With his unmistakable spineless jellyfish style, he tried but failed to humiliate the nation, which, for several centuries fought determinedly against Western imperialism and colonialism, and, on numerous occasions has already managed to save the world.

Mr. Johnson applied an old and rather disgusting approach: he came to Russia with spite and superiority complex, ready to preach, to insult, to scold those white-looking but essentially Asian people – to ‘show them their place’.

But this is 2017 now, not 1990. London is not the center of the universe, anymore, just the capital of a confused and rather aggressive and increasingly badly behaved nation.

The British bulldog came to Moscow. Frankly, it did not even look like a bulldog, anymore – it looked totally… weird: stoned and mentally unbalanced. It barked and barked, while the Russian bear was calm, maintaining its composure. It was clear who of the two has the upper hand, and who is provoking and who is refusing to fight. It was also obvious who of the two is really scared.

And, it was so apparent to whom belongs the past and to whom belongs the future!

• First published in New Eastern Outlook (NEO)

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to The Great October Socialist Revolution, a revolutionary novel Aurora, and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: Exposing Lies Of The Empire. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky On Western Terrorism. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Read other articles by Andre.

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Pacifica Network Death Watch

Pacifica Death Watch: This Time It's Real

by Doug Hewood - LBO News

December 27, 2017

Because WBAI is broke, almost listenerless, and run by idiots, the station didn’t pay its transmitter bill to the Empire State Building for a long time, and is now $3 million in arrears. The ESB has sued and wants to seize Pacifica’s assets, which would include KPFA and KPFK’s bank accounts and buildings.

Because the Pacifica board is staffed by idiots, the network is not filing for bankruptcy or taking any other meaningful measures to protect itself. The rational thing to do would be to sell WBAI’s frequency (at 99.5, it’s on the commercial section of the radio dial), because the station is braindead and pointless, and the proceeds could save the rest of the network. But that doesn’t seem to be happening.

There’s a high risk that KPFA — where Behind the News originates — will stop broadcasting on January 12. I don’t know what that means for the future of BtN, but aside from that, the loss of KPFA would be tragic.

It’s taken years to get to this point. If you wanted to destroy the network, you couldn’t have done any better than make Tony Bates the WBAI program director and Berthold Reimers the general manager. And you couldn’t have done any better than staff the board with people who have no idea of how to run anything. It would be premature to type “RIP,” but it’s not too soon to make what delicate people call “arrangements.”

A note on the topic from the KPFA manager follows.

Quincy McCoy, General Manager KPFA

I’ve held off writing this depressing message as long as I could in an effort to gather as much information and analysis possible while working with current and former LSB members in trying to protect KPFA’s interests in this grim situation we find ourselves in.

Because of Pacifica’s critical financial condition and the PNB’s lack of strategic action or courage the prognosis for the network’s future is shadowy.

*The Imminent Threat*

Come *January 12th *KPFA’s money and property may be seized by the Empire State Realty Trust because of a 1.8 million dollar debt of our sister station WBAI.

If this happens we will cease broadcasting because we will be unable to operate the station. At that point, our building and our bank account will no longer be under our control. Needless to say, this is a terrible position to be in, especially for management when there is *still* no plan of action to articulate from the National leadership to the staff.

*How Did This Happen?*

• WBAI owes the Empire State Realty Trust 1.8 million dollars in delinquent transmitter rent. [Plus more delinquent rent since April, not covered in the suit.] ESRT filed in court against Pacifica on November 23rd, 2016. Their monthly rent is currently at $53K per month escalating each month.

• On October 4 a judge found in favor of ESRT making it possible for them to file in all states where Pacifica has properties, allowing them to seize money and property.

• The idea of a signal swap for WBAI was ignited and brokers were hired.

• The PNB voted to give IED the authority to begin preparation for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection, but he and many others on the PNB thought to sell properties (like our two adjacent buildings) and others could cover the debt. The other idea was a high-interest loan that so far has never been secured. All of these instead of the signal swap in New York.

• Then the PNB rescinded the bankruptcy resolution. Also, KPFA and KPFK signals were added for signal swaps.

• ESRT judgment filed in California on December 6th to seize property and money from KPFA and K. It is a 30-day waiting period that ends January 12h.

• Then the PNB voted to allow some prep for Bankruptcy.

• At PNB meeting 2 weeks ago California’s Deputy Attorney General, Julianne Mossier spoke at the meeting and made it clear that the board needed to vote to take action immediately and that anyone who obstructs for any personal reasons were liable for not carrying out their fiduciary duties.

• The board ignored her plea, but set up an emergency meeting about moving ahead with bankruptcy the following Monday but no action was taken.

• The clock is ticking…

*What is Being Done?*

I want to thank all the LSB members who have worked so diligently this year negotiating with the PNB in good faith to move the network in a positive direction while also protecting KPFA’s interests.

Because of the imminent threat of a lien on KPFA’s bank account, we have disbursed in advance (what is legally allowed) our payroll account to Dec 31 st., medical benefits till February and all of our essential bills are paid. In the first week of January, we will process advance payroll for January and pay another month of medical. I’m sorry to say that is all management can do. There still is no playbook for a month or two months down the road.

What is the PNB doing? The governance structure of Pacifica, our historic culture of the usual political infighting, etc., has led to disagreement and paralysis. Unless action is taken pretty immediately we may cease to exist. You deserve to understand where things stand. I could wait no longer.

Much respect,

Quincy McCoy

General Manager

"In times of crisis, *unity* is the only solution."