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British ministers condemn Maduro… but continue selling weapons to Venezuela

Unlike the conflict in Yemen, which is barely acknowledged by British politicians, the civil unrest...

Theresa May denies suppressing report on Saudi terrorism funding to protect UK arms deals

Published time: 20 Jul, 2017 11:48 Edited time: 21 Jul, 2017 08:14 Prime Minister Theresa...

Yemen: Court Battle Exposes UK-Saudi Arms Deals And Humanitarian Tragedy

On Monday 10th July, a ruling was handed down by London’s High Court, which should, in a sane world, exclude the UK government ever...

Court to rule on legality of Britain’s arms sales to Saudi Arabia

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‘Role model’? Fallon hails arms manufacturer who sold missiles to Yemen-bombing Saudis & Gaddafi

UK Defense Secretary Michael Fallon has called missiles producer MBDA, known for controversial arms sales...

British made guns could be arming children in Iraq, Syria & Yemen – report

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Ending arms trade with Saudi Arabia carries serious political risks, court told

Halting Britain’s multi-billion pound arms trade with Saudi Arabia would have serious political ramifications, the...

Billions in ‘illegal’ British arms sales to Saudi Arabia under threat in High Court

Britain’s multibillion-pound arms trade with Saudi Arabia is illegal and should be stopped immediately, the...

The British Government Has Colluded with Monsanto and Should Be Held Accountable in the...

“The British Government has colluded with Monsanto and should be held accountable in the International Criminal Court in The Hague for crimes against humanity...

British MPs urge independent inquiry into claims of Saudi war crimes in Yemen

British politicians have called for an independent investigation into possible breaches in humanitarian law in...

Arms Trade Treaty Falling Down in Yemen

Two years after the UN Arms Trade Treaty entered into force, many of the governments which championed the treaty are failing to uphold it,...

Britain continues to back Saudi bombing of Yemen, despite US stopping arms sale

The US will halt a planned arms sale to Saudi Arabia due to “strong concerns”...

Trade first, human rights later? Theresa May’s vision for UK-Gulf relations

British Prime Minister Theresa May has set out her vision for UK trade cooperation with the Gulf regimes ahead of her historic trip to...

Exposed: ‘Revolving door’ between British govt and arms dealers

Peace campaigners have exposed the cozy relationship between the British government and the nation’s arms...

British MPs denied vote on Saudi arms sales ban, while US senators propose boycott

As the US prepares to debate the legitimacy of selling arms to Saudi Arabia, British...

Boris v Theresa May? PM & FM at odds over arms sales to Saudi,...

British Prime Minister Theresa May and her foreign secretary, Boris Johnson, appear to be split...

Japan wants British weaponry for South China Sea standoff

Tensions in the South China Sea have led Japan to splurge on British-made hardware to...
video

Video: ‘UK arms and military support are fueling a brutal war in Yemen’ –...

The international charity Oxfam has accused the British government of violating the International Arms Trade Treaty as London continues its arms deals with ... Via...

Britain ‘one of the most significant violators’ of the Arms Trade Treaty, says Oxfam

Oxfam has accused British MPs of being in “denial and disarray” over an agreement to sell arms to Saudi Arabia, saying the UK has...

UK arms traders eye global weapons-sales boost thanks to tumbling post-Brexit pound

British arms firms hope a plunge in the value of the pound will make exports...

US arms giant Lockheed Martin giddy to cash in on Brexit bonanza

Global arms giant Lockheed Martin hopes Brexit will boost British business as the firm’s CEO...

Self-driving ‘drone’ trucks trialed by British army to supply frontlines

Unmanned military trucks will be trialed by the UK military as early as 2017 with...

British arms exports to Saudi Arabia to get full legal review after High Court...

Campaigners are bringing the government to justice after a judicial review into British arms exports...

Prince of war: ‘Salesman’ Charles used to push Saudi fighter jet deal for arms...

Heir to the throne Prince Charles faces renewed criticism over his role in the sale...

UK pushes for UN arms embargo on Libya… after years of pouring in weapons

Despite sending weapons into Libya before and after the disastrous 2011 NATO intervention, Britain is...

Scottish councils making millions from global arms trade

Nine Scottish local authorities are directly invested in some of the world’s leading arms manufacturers,...

British Army training of Turkish & Saudi troops condemned by human rights groups

Britain’s habit of sending UK troops to train and mentor authoritarian regimes such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia are “deeply concerning” and need to...

Arms dealer fears Brexit will hit business

A British military weapons and hardware dealer trading plane parts and troop carriers says his business would take a hit if the United Kingdom...

EU’s loss, India’s gain? Brexit could free up Anglo-Indian arms trade

A British exit from the EU could leave the country in a position to make...

Saudi Arabia bankrolled visits for British MPs while dropping bombs on Yemen

Saudi Arabia has paid for 11 Conservative MPs to visit the oil-rich kingdom on ‘parliamentary fact-finding’ missions in the last several months, while continuing...

Canada’s Liberal government finalizes $15 billion Saudi arms deal

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Carl Bronski In the latest example of the unbridled hypocrisy and prevarication...

World’s biggest arms fair in London likely infiltrated by criminals, judge rules

It’s highly likely the world’s largest arms fair, held in London last year, was infiltrated...

Activists were preventing war crimes by blockading world’s biggest arms fair – judge

Eight activists standing trial for disrupting the world’s biggest arms fair, held in London last...

#PanamaLeaks: British banker linked to North Korea’s nuclear research

A British banker has been linked to North Korea’s efforts to create nuclear weapons, the...

Scouting for business? British Royal Navy to head Gulf task force amid UK trade...

Britain will lead a joint maritime force in the Gulf from April alongside forces involved...

EU gun laws not stopping terror arms trade – police

Flawed European laws have allowed weapons to slip into the hands of Islamic State (IS,...

‘Merchants of mega death’: Protesters take aim at arms networking fair in Cardiff

Activists are descending on an arms fair in Cardiff, Wales, on Wednesday afternoon to protest...

Home Office protest targets ‘secret arms fair’ & human rights abusers

(RT) - Campaigners have held a demonstration outside the Home Office to highlight Britain’s ‘secret...

British arms sales to Saudi Arabia face parliamentary scrutiny

(RT) - British arms sales to Saudi Arabia will face a parliamentary inquiry after concerns...

Genetic weapons, human swarms & angry youth pose future threats to British security –...

(RT) - Swarm attacks, angry global youth and genetic weapons are among the futuristic threats...

HR groups slam UK trade fair marketing arms to repressive regimes

Human rights groups have censured a major UK-sponsored "security trade show" that aims to sell non-lethal weaponry and crowd control gadgets to some of...

Saudi protesters executed with British weapons? Foreign Office remains tightlipped

Responding to inquiries by members of parliament, the Foreign Office neither confirmed nor denied whether British weapons had been used in the mass execution...

Treasury officials wined & dined by arms giants & ‘rogue banks’

Treasury officials regularly accepted invitations to lavish dinners with lobbyists for banks that were being investigated for market rigging, a new report has found. The...

Hypocrite David Cameron defends selling arms to outrageous Saudi regime

David Cameron has voiced support for the controversial Saudi-led air-strike campaign in Yemen and dismissed concerns that Riyadh is funneling funds to Islamic State. Speaking...

Britain’s sale of arms to Saudi Arabia violates international law — lawyers

The British government has been accused of violating international law by enabling the export of British-made arms to Saudi Arabia, which may have been...

‘Thriving off conflict’: UK is world’s second largest arms seller

Britain continues to sell arms to countries that commit human rights abuses and is now ranked second in the world for weapons sales, a...

Another Way Obama’s ‘Trade’ Deals Help International Corporations Privatize Government

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Recently, the issue was raised regarding the profits that would flow to international corporations by Obama’s proposed trade-deals encouraging...

UK government welcomes the world’s despots and war criminals to arms fair

By Mark Dowson A rogue’s gallery of the world’s despots and war criminals descended on London last week, at the invitation of the British government. They...

‘One-way street’: US urged to buy more British weapons

Britain’s arms trade with the United States is a “one-way street,” Minister of State for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne has said, urging the US...

Thatcher made secrecy pact with Saudi king over ‘corrupt’ arms deal

Margaret Thatcher promised Saudi Arabia secrecy ahead of a £43 billion arms deal thought to have been blighted by corruption, newly-released documents reveal. The papers...

UK approved £4-million arms sales to Israel after Gaza war

The British government approved £4 million in weapons sales to the Israeli regime in the immediate aftermath of Israel’s massive military offensive against the...

The 2015 British General Election: Capitalism’s One-Horse Race

RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents, Counterpunch

Britain is currently in the grip of a general election campaign. Voting takes place on 7 May and election fever in the media is building as various commentators and politicians engage in empty rhetoric about British values and democratic principles. Due to the nature of the 'first past the post' voting system, the only two parties with a realistic hope of achieving a majority of seats in parliament are Labour and the Conservatives. As in the outgoing parliament, the party most likely to achieve third place, the Liberal Democrats, might hold the balance of power in a hung parliament.

On TV last week there was a ‘leaders’ debate’. The issues debated revolved around the economy, the National Health Service and immigration. Leaders of the three main parties embraced a cosy consensus based on the need to continue with ‘austerity’ but quibbled over the nature or speed of cuts to the public sector and public services. The debate has set the tone for the unfolding campaign.

All three main parties are pro-big business and are aligned with the neoliberal economic agenda set by the financial cartel based in the City of London and on Wall Street and by the major transnational corporations. The likes of Chatham House, Centre for Policy Studies, Foreign Policy Centre, Reform, Institute of Economic Affairs and the International Institute for Strategic Studies (most of which the British public have never heard of) have already determined the pro-corporate and generally pro-Washington policies that the parties will sell to the public. Pressure tactics at the top level of politics, massively funded lobbying groups and the revolving door between private corporations and the machinery of state have also helped shape the policy agenda.

As if to underline this, in 2012 Labour MP Austin Mitchell described the UK’s big four accountancy firms as being "more powerful than government." He said the companies’ financial success allows them privileged access to government policy makers. Of course, similar sentiments concerning 'privileged access' could also be forwarded about many other sectors, not least the arms industry and global agritech companies which armed with their poisons, unsustainable model of industrial agriculture and bogus claims have been working hand in glove with government to force GMO's into the UK despite most people who hold a view on the matter not wanting them.

The impact and power of think tanks, lobbying and cronyism means that the major parties merely provide the illusion of choice and democracy to a public that is easily manipulated courtesy of a toothless and supine corporate media. The knockabout point-scoring of party politics serves as entertainment for a public that is increasingly disillusioned with politics.

The upshot is that the main parties have all accepted economic neoliberalism and the financialisation of the British economy and all that it has entailed: weak or non-existent trade unions, an ideological assault on the public sector, the offshoring of manufacturing, deregulation, privatisation and an economy dominated by financial services.

In Britain, long gone are the relatively well-paid manufacturing jobs that helped build and sustain the economy. In its place, the country has witnessed the imposition of a low taxation regime, low-paid and insecure ‘service sector’ jobs (no-contract work, macjobs, call centre jobs - much of which soon went abroad), a real estate bubble, credit card debt and student debt, which all helped to keep the economy afloat and maintain demand during the so-called boom years under Tony Blair. Levels of public debt spiraled, personal debt became unsustainable and the deregulated financial sector demanded the public must write down its own gambling debts.

The economy is now based on (held to ransom by) a banking and finance-sector cartel that specialises in rigging markets, debt creation, money laundering  and salting away profits in various City of London satellite tax havens and beyond. The banking industry applies huge pressure on governments and has significant influence over policies to ensure things remain this way.

If you follow the election campaign, you will see no talk from the main parties about bringing the railway and energy and water facilities back into public ownership. Instead, privatisation will continue and massive profits will be raked in as the public forks out for private-sector subsidies and the increasingly costly ‘services’ provided.

There will be no talk of nationalising the major banks or even properly regulating or taxing them (and other large multinationals) to gain access to funds that could build decent infrastructure for the public benefit.

Although the economy will be glibly discussed throughout the campaign, little will be mentioned about why or how the top one percent in the UK increased their wealth substantially in 2008 alone when the economic crisis hit. Little will be said about why levels of inequality have sky rocketed over the past three decades.

When manufacturing industry was decimated (along with the union movement) and offshored, people were told that finance was to be the backbone of the ‘new’ economy. And to be sure it has become the backbone. A spineless one based on bubbles, derivatives trading, speculation and all manner of dodgy transactions and practices. Margaret Thatcher in the eighties sold the economy to bankers and transnational corporations and they have never looked back. It was similar in the US.

Now Britain stands shoulder to shoulder with Washington’s militaristic agenda as the US desperately seeks to maintain global hegemony - not by rejecting the financialisation of its economy, rebuilding a manufacturing base with decent jobs and thus boosting consumer demand or ensuring the state takes responsibility for developing infrastructure to improve people's quality of life - but by attacking Russia and China which are doing some of those very things and as a result are rising to challenge the US as the dominant global economic power.

The election campaign instead of focusing on 'austerity', immigrants or welfare recipients, who are depicted by certain politicians and commentators as bleeding the country dry, should concern itself with the tax-evading corporate dole-scrounging super rich, the neoliberal agenda they have forced on people and their pushing for policies that would guarantee further plunder, most notably the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

However, with a rigged media and all major parties representing the interests of an unaccountable financial-corporate-state elite, we can expect Britain to continue to fall in line behind Washington’s militarism and a further hollowing out of what remains of the economy and civil society.

No matter who wins on 7 May, the public is destined for more of the same. The real outcome of the election has already been decided by the interlocking directorate of think tanks, big business and its lobby groups and the higher echelons of the civil service. The election will be akin to rearranging the deckchairs on a sinking ship.

The 2015 British General Election: Capitalism’s One-Horse Race 

Britain is currently in the grip of a general election campaign. Voting takes place on 7 May and election fever in the media is...

UK Government will only suspend arms to Israel if hostilities resume

Adam Cochrane The British government announced the results of its review into arms sales to Israel on Tuesday of last week. Business secretary Vince Cable said...

British government arms tyrants

Attention is focusing on British-made weapons being sent to Moscow, and understandably so. Vladimir Putin was once a friend of Britain ... but now...

Government ‘Profiting From Slaughter’ By Selling Arms To Israel

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The arms trade treaty is weak and legitimises arms sales

Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) believes that the arms trade treaty, ratified yesterday by 19 countries, including the UK, will prove to be ineffective...

US-EU Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement: More Secrecy and More Duplicity Revealed

Colin Todhunter  RINF Alternative News Current bilateral free trade agreement negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and are closed to proper public scrutiny (1,2). This is because...

US-EU Free Trade Agreement: More Secrecy And More Duplicity Revealed


Global Research 17/2/2014

Current bilateral free trade agreement negotiations are shrouded in secrecy and are closed to proper public scrutiny (1,2). This is because they effectively constitute part of the ongoing corporate hijack of democracy and the further restructuring of economies in favour of elite interests (3,4,5).
We need look no futher than Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU. European Commissioner De Gucht claims that “there is nothing secret” about the ongoing talks. In December 2013 in a letter published in The Guardian, he argued that “there is nothing secret about this EU trade deal” and that “our negotiations over the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership are fully open to scrutiny” (6).

If that is the case, why then are notes of Commission meetings with business lobbyists released to Corporate Europe Observatory (CEO) under the EU’s freedom of information law heavily censored?

It appears that the public is not allowed to know the positions held by the EU (unlike business interests) in these talks, who is being given access to whom and who is lobbying for what on whose behalf. High-minded platitudes referring to protecting the integrity of industry and the sensitive nature of negotiations are being used in an attempt to subvert democracy, prevent public scrutiny and secure the continued privileged positions and influence that big business holds in these talks. The arguments being used to justify the secrecy are thinly veiled disguises to try to hoodwink us into accepting the legitimacy of these negotiations.  

Documents recently received by CEO show that De Gucht's officials invited industry to submit wishlists for 'regulatory barriers' they would like removed during the negotiations. However, there is no way for the public to know how the EU has incorporated this into its negotiating position as all references have been removed.

Last month CEO received 44 documents (7) about the European Commission's meetings with industry lobbyists as part of preparations for the EU-US trade talks. Most of the documents, released as a result of a freedom of information (FOI) request, are meeting reports prepared by Commission officials.


The documents arrived almost a full ten months (!) after the FOI request was tabled and 39 of the 44 documents are heavily censored. The documents cover only a fraction of the more than 100 meetings (8) which De Gucht's officials had with industry lobbyists in the run-up to the launch of the TTIP negotiations. 


CEO asks were no notes taken during closed-door meetings with corporate lobbyists from, for example, the US Chamber of Commerce, the German industry federation BDI, chemical lobby groups CEFIC and VCI, pharmaceutical industry coalition EFPIA, DigitalEurope, the Transatlantic Business Council, arms industry lobby ASD, the British Bankers Association and corporations like Lilly, Citi and BMW? It all seems like a rather cosy affair. It doesn’t take a cynic to conclude that something is seriously amiss here.

In the 39 documents which were “partially released”, large parts of text (“non releasable” or “not relevant”) have been hidden. In some cases, every single word has been removed from the document.


Not only is the text of the EU's negotiating position secret, the public is even denied access to sentences in meeting reports that refer to the EU negotiating position. This is especially problematic as these are minutes from meetings with industry lobbyists who were clearly given information about the EU's negotiating position in the TTIP talks, unlike the public.


CEO rightly states that sharing information about the EU's negotiating position with industry while refusing civil society access to that same information is unacceptable discrimination.


In many cases parts of text are removed because they contain the views of industry lobby groups “on particular aspects of the EU/US trade negotiations.” “Release of that information could have a negative impact on the position of the industry", the Commission argues. CEO argues that it is entirely unclear this means and why the views of the lobby groups should be hidden from public scrutiny. 

The Commission has also removed all names of lobbyists from the 44 documents arguing that “disclosure would undermine the protection of […] privacy and the integrity of the individual”. Again CEO argues that this is an absurd line of argument as these are professional lobbyists who are not acting in an individual capacity. There is clear public interest in transparency around who is lobbying on whose behalf and who is getting access to EU decision-makers.

Despite being heavily censored, the documents show clearly that removing differences in EU and US regulations is the key issue in the TTIP talks, with 'regulatory barriers' coming up in a large majority of the meetings. For example, in a meeting with the European Services Forum in February 2013, a lobby group for global service players such as Deutsche Bank, IBM and Vodafone, the Commission suggested various options for regulatory cooperation such as 'compatibility', 'mutual recognition' and 'equivalence'.


In another meeting in February 2013, BusinessEurope (the most powerful business lobby in Brussels), stressed “its willingness to play an active role in the upcoming negotiations, in particular on the regulatory front”. The Commission noted the importance of EU industry “submitting detailed 'Transatlantic' proposals to tackle regulatory barriers”. In other words, a race to the bottom in setting the lowest barriers possible.


leaked EU document (10) from the winter of 2013 shows the Commission proposing an EU-US Regulatory Cooperation Council, a permanent structure to be created as part of the TTIP deal. Existing and future EU regulation will then have to go through a series of investigations, dialogues and negotiations in this Council. This would move decisions on regulations into a technocratic sphere, away from democratic scrutiny. Is it not enough that EU member states could find domestic laws to protect the public interest quite useless under proposed investor-state dispute settlement provisions (9)?.Also, there would be compulsory impact assessments for proposed regulation, which will be checked for their potential impact on trade. What about whether they protect people’s health or are good for the environment? 


This would be ideal for big business lobbies: creating a firm brake on any new progressive regulation in the very first stage of decision-making.

CEO concludes on its website:


“Ending the secrecy around the negotiations is crucial for allowing citizens to assess what is being negotiated in their name. This transparency should include the EU's negotiating position, and also shed a clear light on the involvement of corporate lobbyists in preparing the negotiations.”
 



Take action, be informed: http://corporateeurope.org/get-involved


Much of the information for this article was sourced from the website of Corporate Europe Observatory, a research and campaign group working to expose and challenge the privileged access and influence enjoyed by corporations and their lobby groups in EU policy making.


Notes




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Amid an undeclared arms race among European defense contractors to reequip Libya’s armed forces, Britain is sending a Royal Navy war ship to Tripoli to act as a floating show room for security firms.

A British government agency, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI), is organizing an arms fair on a Royal Navy frigate, which will dock in Tripoli, Libya at the beginning of April.

UKTI has so far refused to disclose exactly what businesses will be there and what gear they will be showcasing.

“There is a scramble among European arms firms to sell to Libya with the Italians and French leading the way. In 2001 before the imposition of the arms embargo, EU countries had approved licenses to Libya worth 34 million euro,” Kaye Stearman, Media Co-ordinator for the Campaign Against Arms Trade (CAAT) told RT.

UKTI describes the event on its website as “an opportunity for UK defense and security to promote equipment and services to the Libyan navy aboard a Royal Navy vessel in Tripoli” and that it hoped to “attract key senior military personal from the Libyan government”.

A UN arms embargo is still in place and with the UK Foreign Office describing Libya as a “country of concern” with regard to its human rights abuses; Britain is restricted in terms of what it can sell. Sir John Stanley, who chairs the committees of arms export control, has said he expects the government to adhere to the criteria of arms export licenses.

UKTI has said that no weapons will be offered for sale and the Libyans will be offered specialist equipment for port security, such as inflatable dinghies or uniforms.

However, Stearman believes that the sale of arms is the ultimate priority of the event.

“When an arms company takes part in an arms fair or exhibition, it is with the expectation of sales, and it is hard to believe that the only equipment on sale will relate to security,” she said.

The exhibition appears to be part of a wider policy by the UK government of a strategy to foster relations with countries where Britain has security and business interests.

In the past the UKTO listed Libya as a “priority market” for UK arms sales, which were openly sold to Gaddafi’s regime before the uprising against him. There was also a Libyan delegation at the Farnborough Air Show in July 2012, which showcased British aerospace defense equipment such as the Typhoon fighter jet.

Speaking at the Farnborough airshow last year Chris Baker, the operations director of UKTI’s defense arm, said the UKTI was looking at Libya’s border and maritime security and “at rebuilding their defense infrastructure” and “getting their air force back on its feet from scratch”.

By March 2011 British companies had won £62 million ($95.8 million) worth of arms exports to Gaddafi since the arms embargo on Libya was lifted in October 2004. Since the fall of Gaddafi, Britain has also offered to train Libya’s army and police.

But prominent Libyans have raised concerns that the race to win defense contract could end up with weapons falling into the wrong hands, in a country which is already awash with weapons and where security is a major issue.

“I can’t see the point in having this kind of exhibition in Libya now. One of our problems is that there are arms everywhere,” Hassan el-Amin, who is chair of the congress communications committee, and lived in Britain for 28 years, told the Guardian.

Barry Gardiner, Labour MP for Brent North, said he was not against Britain having a strong arms industry, which exports worldwide, but questioned the timing of the fair and was saddened by the UKTI attempting to establish a relationship with a country in terms of arms when Britain has so many other things for sale.

“I think it is deeply regrettable that the first thing the UK should be trying to export to a country recovering from a conflict situation is arms. It would be much better if we were offering them support in other ways such as helping to rebuild their infrastructure,” Gardiner told RT.

Stearman also voiced concern that the UKTI has not released a date for the exhibition or said which companies will be attending and said that “part of the reason for the lack of information about this event, is that the government would be embarrassed by a more high profile event”.

A survey carried out by the Sunday Times in 2011found that 77% of the British public felt it was wrong to sell arms to Gaddafi’s regime.

“What is needed in Libya are efforts to demilitarize and invest in civil infrastructure,” said Stearman.

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Countering The Lies Of The Mainstream Media

 The site you are reading this article on is part of the ‘alternative’ or ‘independent’ media. Many of these sites do not take advertising...

Countering The Lies Of The Mainstream Media

Global Research, The 4th Media, RINF, Countercurrents

The site you are reading this article on is part of the ‘alternative’ or ‘independent’ media. Many of these sites do not take advertising and are run on the basis of donations from readers. Many of the authors whose articles appear on these sites write for no or little financial remuneration. 

Contrast this situation with the so-called ‘mainstream’ print and TV media.

The corporate mainstream media with its well-paid journalists and increasing concentration of ownership bows to the concerns of advertisers. It tends to be privately owned and its owners have a vested interest in maintaining an economic system based on private ownership and in manufacturing consent for it. Moreover, such outlets these days are increasingly part of major conglomerates, which may include armaments manufacturers, banking or industrial concerns, and will not therefore adopt stances or report on stories that are harmful to the interests of the wider organisation.

The public is thus given access to a world view that is distorted in favour of state-corporate interests. Such interests have succeeded in getting across the message that, for example, the ‘free market’ is the best way to deliver goods and services to people, state provided welfare is bad and ‘individual responsibility’ is good, ‘austerity’ is necessary, privatisation increases efficiency, an endless ‘war on terror’ must be waged on designated enemies, well-being is measured in terms of a never-ending quest for GDP growth, the US and NATO are the 'world's policemen', giant agribusiness must displace peasant farmers to secure food security and gross inequalities and unregulated corporate power are both necessary and legitimate.

Over the past 15 years, numerous 'alternative' news websites have sprung up that challenge these assumptions and the belief that ordinary citizens should be passive consumers of a predetermined news agenda. There are now dozens of popular news sites that inform people of issues the mainstream media has deliberately failed to tell people the truth about. There are also many more sites with global reach that exist to scrutinise specific sectors, hold practices to account and counter corporate propaganda (for example, GMWatchCorporate Europe ObservatoryFood & Water WatchCampaign Against the Arms Trade, etc.).

The existence of ‘alternative’ independent sites has led the European Union to express concerns about the ‘damaging’ effects of people having access to these sources of information. The EU argues that societal consensus is being eroded as people are being ‘led astray’ by dissenting voices on the internet. In the report ‘A free and pluralistic media to sustain European democracy’, the EU feels there is a danger that people are being misguidedly radicalised. It advocates EU funding for ‘responsible’ journalism, getting the EU’s viewpoint across regularly and prominently in the media and placing controls on the net. The EU perceives this to be ‘pluralism’.

What is ‘responsible journalism’?

An article by Annie Day indicates that as a result of its destabilisations, coups, mass bombings and death squads, the US military and the CIA have been responsible for a figure of an estimated ten million deaths since 1945. Yet the corporate media never describes any of this as constituting a form of mass terror. Through the cynical hijacking of the concept of ‘terror’, the US now attempts to justify its ongoing tyranny through a ‘war on terror’, which goes unquestioned on a daily basis by the mainstream media.

Ukraine is the latest example of a US-backed terror campaign, which the corporate media has consistently failed to question. As the world edges ever closer to nuclear war, the mainstream media merely parrots the official lie coming from Washington that the situation is all due to ‘Russian aggression’.

You can also add to that ten million, countless others whose lives have been sacrificed on the altar of corporate profit, which did not rely on the military to bomb peoples and countries into submission but on the IMF, World Bank and WTO. It begs the question how many lives have been cut short across the world because of the inherent structural violence or silent killing of the everyday functioning of predatory capitalism? 

The appropriation of wealth through a system that funnels it from bottom to top via a process of accumulation by dispossession is celebrated by the corporate media as growthprosperity, and freedom of choice, despite evidence that, from Greece to Spain and beyond, the reality for the majority has been falling wages, increasing poverty, the stripping away of choice and misery.

So where is the ‘responsible journalism’ that the EU calls for?

Does it lie with those journalists in the corporate media whose claim to respectability is their rigid professionalism, their accountability, their objectivity?

If you can call professionalism, accountability and objectivity being in the pay of and not wishing to offend advertising interests, officialdom and powerful corporate interests then they are paragons of absolute responsibility.

Peddling their high salaried deceptions, they have failed and continue to fail the public and genuinely hold power to account. By shining their ‘investigative’ light on ‘parliamentary procedures’, personalities, the rubber stamping of policies and the inane machinations of party politics, they merely serve to maintain and perpetuate the status quo and keep the public in the dark as to the unaccountable self-serving nature of power broking and the unity ofinterests that enable Big Oil, Big Finance, Big Pharma, Big Agra and the rest of them via their secretive think tanks and policy initiatives to keep bleeding us all dry. 

But that’s the role of the media: to help reinforce and reproduce the material conditions of a divisive social system on a daily basis. It’s called having a compliant, toothless media. It’s what the corporate media itself calls part of ‘liberal democracy’
And in this type of 'liberal democracy', it is people like Edward Snowden or Julian Assange who expose the wrongdoings of the political-corporate elites that are hounded. 

It was George Orwell who said that journalism is printing what someone else does not want printed and everything else is public relations. Orwell was correct. Former CIA boss General Petraeus stated in 2006 that his strategy was to wage a war of perceptions conducted continuously through the news media, while John Pilger observes that the role of respectable journalism in western state crimes - from Iraq to Iran, Afghanistan to Libya - remains taboo. Its role has been to serve as first-choice cheerleader for illegal wars.

Intelligence agencies secure media compliance

There are of course some good journalists working in the corporate mainstream media. But if you think this article mounts to little more than a one-sided attack on the ‘mainstream’ media, you may need to think again.

Many readers will be aware of a recent story about the former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, one of Germany’s largest newspapers, who claimed that he accepted news stories written and given to him by the CIA and published them under his own name. 

This revelation came as a shock to many. But it should not have because  in the UK, for example, the British intelligence agencies along with the CIA has for decades strived to ensure that the mainstream press and TV complied with the interests of the Establishment. In addition to making sure that the British left was subverted, infiltrated and made toothless, the mainstream media was molded by the intelligence agencies to parrot the Establishment’s viewpoints and aims.


The article reveals the tight-knit relationship between senior journalists and MI5:

MI5 targeted labour correspondents in both newspapers and broadcasting right up to the 80s; they were recruited in droves for their contacts with a wide range of trade union officials and with each other. According to Peter Wright, MI5 always had about twenty senior journalists working for it in the national press. “They were not employed directly by us, but we regarded them as agents because they were happy to be associated with us.”

As the national public service broadcaster funded by the state, special attention was paid to the BBC:

At the BBC, Brigadier Ronald Stonham liaised with MI5 and Special Branch and advised the corporation on whether or not to employ people. Names of applicants for editorial posts in the BBC were similarly ‘vetted’ by MI5.

From the article, it becomes clear were the elite thinks journalism’s loyalty should ultimately lie:

“There should be times when the journalist, when he’s examined all the facts and tested all his sources, should come down on the side of the government of the day, the established order and the Establishment as a whole.” - Chairman of the Radio Authority

And the working class in particular should certainly know its place (Toxteth is an urban district and is used here to signify the social unrest that gripped a number of British cities in the early eighties):

“We are in a period of considerable social change. There may be social unrest, but we can cope with the Toxteths… but if we have a highly-educated and idle population, we may possibly anticipate more serious conflict. People must be educated to once more know their place.” – from a secret Department of Education Report.

The article makes clear who the British Establishment regards as the ‘enemy within’ and what it perceives the role of the much-heralded ‘free press’ (much heralded by people belonging to this ‘free press’) to be.

With massive decreases in readership, however, the print media seems to be in terminal decline. The Establishment's grip on the control of information has been in danger of slipping as the internet has become a major vehicle for the dissemination of information.

The state-corporate-financial elite has presided over a bought and paid for mainstream media for some time. Now it is engaged in an ongoing strategy of global mass surveillance and a clamp down on internet freedom. The goal is to eventually have a fully controlled internet that mirrors the shackled ‘free press’ that the Establishment has for so long cherished. 

Empire and Colonialism: Rich Men in London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

Some £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance...

Empire And Colonialism: Rich Men In London Still Deciding Africa’s Future

RINF, 4th Media, Countercurrents, Global Research, Counterpunch, Information Clearing House, Regeneracion (Mexico), The News International (Pakistan newspaper 27/3/2015)

(all links are in italics)

Some £600 million in UK aid money courtesy of the taxpayer is helping big business increase its profits in Africa via the New Alliance for Food Security and Nutrition. In return for receiving aid money and corporate investment, African countries have to change their laws, making it easier for corporations to acquire farmland, control seed supplies and export produce.

Last year, Director of the Global Justice Now Nick Dearden said:

“It’s scandalous that UK aid money is being used to carve up Africa in the interests of big business. This is the exact opposite of what is needed, which is support to small-scale farmers and fairer distribution of land and resources to give African countries more control over their food systems. Africa can produce enough food to feed its people. The problem is that our food system is geared to the luxury tastes of the richest, not the needs of ordinary people. Here the British government is using aid money to make the problem even worse.”

Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania, Burkina Faso, Côte d’Ivoire, Mozambique, Nigeria, Benin, Malawi and Senegal are all involved in the New Alliance.

In a January 2015 piece in The Guardian, Dearden continued by saying that development was once regarded as a process of breaking with colonial exploitation and transferring power over resources from the ‘first’ to the ‘third world’, involving a revolutionary struggle over the world's resources. However, the current paradigm is based on the assumption that developing countries need to adopt neo-liberal policies and that public money in the guise of aid should facilitate this. The notion of ‘development’ has become hijacked by rich corporations and the concept of poverty depoliticised and separated from structurally embedded power relations. 

To see this in action, we need look no further to a conference held on Monday 23 March in London, organised by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). This secretive, invitation-only meeting with aid donors and big seed companies discussed a strategy to make it easier for these companies to sell patented seeds in Africa and thus increase corporate control of seeds.

Farmers have for generations been saving and exchanging seeds among themselves. This has allowed them a certain degree of independence and has enabled them to innovate, maintain biodiversity, adapt seeds to climatic conditions and fend off plant disease. Big seed companies with help from the Gates Foundation, the US government and other aid donors are now discussing ways to increase their market penetration of commercial seeds by displacing farmers own seed systems.

Corporate sold hybrid seeds often produce higher yields when first planted, but the second generation seeds produce low yields and unpredictable crop traits, making them unsuitable for saving and storing. As Heidi Chow from Global Justice Now rightly says, instead of saving seeds from their own crops, farmers who use hybrid seeds become completely dependent on the seed, fertiliser and pesticide companies, which can (and has) in turn result in an agrarian crisis centred on debt, environmental damage and health problems.

The London conference aimed to share findings of a report by Monitor Deloitte on developing the commercial seed sector in sub-Saharan Africa. The report recommends that in countries where farmers are using their own seed saving networks NGOs and aid donors should encourage governments to introduce intellectual property rights for seed breeders and help to persuade farmers to buy commercial, patented seeds rather than relying on their own traditional varieties. The report also suggests that governments should remove regulations so that the seed sector is opened up to the global market.

The guest list comprised corporations, development agencies and aid donors, including Syngenta, the World Bank and the Gates Foundation. It speaks volumes that not one farmer organisation was invited. Farmers have been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship for thousands of years. They have been "scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts" who have increasingly been reduced to becoming recipients of technical fixes and consumers of poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry. So who better than to discuss issues concerning agriculture?

But the whole point of such a conference is that the West regards African agriculture as a ‘business opportunity’, albeit wrapped up in warm-sounding notions of 'feeding Africa' or 'lifting millions out of poverty'. The West’s legacy in Africa (and elsewhere) has been to plunge millions into poverty. Enforcing structural reforms to benefit big agribusiness and its unsustainable toxic GMO/petrochemical inputs represents a continuation of the neo-colonialist plundering of Africa. The US has for many decades been using agriculture as a key part of foreign policy to secure global hegemony.

Phil Bereano, food sovereignty campaigner with AGRA Watch and an Emeritus Professor at the University of Washington says:

“This is an extension of what the Gates Foundation has been doing for several years – working with the US government and agribusiness giants like Monsanto to corporatize Africa’s genetic riches for the benefit of outsiders. Don’t Bill and Melinda realize that such colonialism is no longer in fashion? It’s time to support African farmers’ self-determination.” 

Bereano also shows how Western corporations only intend to cherry-pick the most profitable aspects of the food production chain, while leaving the public sector in Africa to pick up the tab for the non-profitable aspects that allow profitability further along the chain.

Giant agritech corporations with their patented seeds and associated chemical inputs are ensuring a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and agricultural sustainability. African agriculture is being placed in the hands of big agritech for private profit under the pretext of helping the poor. The Gates Foundation has substantial shares in Monsanto. With Monsanto’s active backing from the US State Department and the Gates Foundation’s links with USAID, African farmers face a formidable force.

Report after report suggests that support for conventional agriculture, agroecology and local economies is required, especially in the Global South. Instead, Western governments are supporting powerful corporations with taxpayers money whose thrust via the WTO, World Bank and IMF has been to encourage strings-attached loans, monocrop cultivation for export using corporate seeds, the restructuring of economies, the opening of economies to the vagaries of land and commodity speculation and a system of globalised trade rigged in favour of the West.

In this vision for Africa, those farmers who are regarded as having any role to play in all of this are viewed only as passive consumers of corporate seeds and agendas. The future of Africa is once again being decided by rich men in London


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So You Want To Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology And Falsehoods...

Countercurrents and RINF 23/2/2015, Global Research and The 4th Media 24/2/2015, Il Cambiamento 25/2/2015, London Progressive Journal 21/3/2015

According to Mathew Holehouse in the UK’s Telegraph newspaper (here), former UK Environment Minister Owen Paterson will this week accuse the European Union and Greenpeace of condemning people in the developing world to death by refusing to accept genetically modified crops. Speaking in Pretoria, South Africa, on Tuesday, Paterson will warn that a food revolution that could save Africa from hunger is being held back and that the world is on the cusp of a green revolution, of the kind that fed a billion people in the 1960s and 1970s as the world’s population soared.

After talking about a growing global population and the pivotal role of GMOs in feeding it, Paterson will assert:

"This is also a time, however, of great mischief, in which many individuals and even governments are turning their backs on progress. Not since the original Luddites smashed cotton mill machinery in early 19th century England, have we seen such an organised, fanatical antagonism to progress and science. These enemies of the Green Revolution call themselves ‘progressive’, but their agenda could hardly be more backward-looking and regressive… their policies would condemn billions to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment. And their insistence on mandating primitive, inefficient farming techniques would decimate the earth’s remaining wild spaces, devastate species and biodiversity, and leave our natural ecology poorer as a result.”

Instead of parroting the corporate spin of the pro-GMO lobby, Paterson would do better to consider more viable options that he likes to denigrate as 'backward-looking and regressive' by listening to what Russia’s Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev stated in April of last year: 

“We don’t have a goal of developing GM products here or to import them.  We can feed ourselves with normal, common, not genetically modified products.  If the Americans like to eat such products, let them eat them.  We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food.” (see here)

Or maybe Paterson would benefit from heeding a Statement signed by 24 delegates from 18 African countries to the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in 1998:

“We strongly object that the image of the poor and hungry from our countries is being used by giant multinational corporations to push a technology that is neither safe, environmentally friendly nor economically beneficial to us. We do not believe that such companies or gene technologies will help our farmers to produce the food that is needed in the 21st century. On the contrary, we think it will destroy the diversity, the local knowledge and the sustainable agricultural systems that our farmers have developed for millennia, and that it will thus undermine our capacity to feed ourselves.”

Perhaps he should also listen to Viva Kermani (here - supported by data) when talking about the situation in India:

“… the statements that they [supporters of GMOs] use such as “thousands die of hunger daily in India” are irresponsible and baseless scare-mongering with a view to projecting GM as the only answer. When our people go hungry, or suffer from malnutrition, it is not for lack of food, it is because their right to safe and nutritious food that is culturally connected has been blocked. That is why it is not a technological fix problem and GM has no place in it.”

Paterson has a history of engaging in the type of emotional blackmail and smearing of critics that comes second nature to the pro-GMO lobby. Anyone (usually portrayed as affluent Westerners – which is not true, given many of the critics are not ‘Western’, affluent or reside in ‘developed’ countries) who opposes GM crops or food is painted as an enemy of the poor because they take food from their bellies (see this). Paterson is using a rhetorical device deliberately designed to mislead and stir up emotion. His tactics are based on spurious claims about the efficacy of GMO technology and are intended to divert attention away from the true nature and causes of hunger and food poverty.

Proponents of GM crops constantly claim that we need such technology to address hunger and to feed a growing global population. We are told by the GMO biotech lobby that GM crops are essential, are better for the environment and will provide the tools that farmers need in a time of climate chaos. They claim that GM crops provide higher yields and higher incomes for farmers around the world. All such claims have been shown to be bogus.

For example, let us take one report from the many that could be cited to show the fallacious nature of these claims. The Canadian Biotechnology Action Network (CBAN) last year released a report that concluded hunger is caused by poverty and inequality and that we already produce enough food to feed the world’s population and did so even at the peak of the world food crisis in 2008. The report went on to say that current global food production provides enough to feed ten billion people and the recent food price crises of 2008 and 2011 both took place in years of record global harvests, clearly showing that these crises were not the result of scarcity.

CBAN also noted that the GM crops that are on the market today are not designed to address hunger. Four GM crops account for almost 100 percent of worldwide GM crop acreage, and all four have been developed for large-scale industrial farming systems and are used as cash crops for export, to produce fuel or for processed food and animal feed.

The report also stated that GM crops have not increased yields and do not increase farmers’ incomes. GM crops lead to an increase in pesticide use and cause further harm to the environment. Pesticide reduction was the primary selling point for Bt cotton adoption in India, but overall pesticide use has not decreased in any state that grows Bt cotton, with the exception of Andhra Pradesh. Read the full report that contains over 100 references in in support of these claims.

Hunger, food security and ‘feeding the world’ is a political, social and economic problem and no amount of gene splicing is capable of surmounting obstacles like poor roads, inadequate rural credit systems and insufficient irrigation.

Paterson's talk about backward, regressive, primitive farming practices that would condemn millions to hunger and decimate the ecology is again playing on fear and emotion. What he says has no basis in reality.

Numerous official reports have argued that to feed the hungry in poorer regions we need to support diverse, sustainable agro-ecological methods of farming and strengthen local food economies: for example, see this UN report, this official report, this report by the UN Special Rapporteur on the right to food and this report by 400 experts which was twice peer reviewed. 

See also see this report that indicates GMOs are not necessary to feed the world.

So from where and from who is Paterson getting his information from? I think we know the answer.

It is after all small farms and peasant farmers (more often than not serving local communities) that are more productive than giant industrial (export-oriented) farms and which produce most of the world’s food (see this report from GRAIN). The experience with GM crops shows that the application of GM technology is more likely to actually undermine food security and entrench the social, economic and environmental problems created by industrial agriculture and corporate control (see this other report from GRAIN and this article by Helena Paul documenting ecocide and genocide in South America due to the imposition of GM crops there).

“The problem is that the poor have no money to buy food and increasingly, no access to land on which to grow it… GM is a dangerous distraction from real solutions and claims that GM can help feed the world can be viewed as exploitation of the suffering of the hungry. GM crops do not increase yield. Nor are there any GM crops that are better than non-GM crops at tolerating poor soils or challenging climate conditions. Thus it is difficult to see how GM can contribute to solving world hunger… The two major GM crops, soy and maize, mostly go into animal feed for intensive livestock operations, biofuels to power cars, and processed human food – products for wealthy nations that have nothing to do with meeting the basic food needs of the poor and hungry.”

This above quote is from the Open Earth Source report GMOs Myths and Truths. The report provides specific details about GM crops that have been specifically promoted as helping small-scale and poor farmers in Africa. However, the results were the opposite of what was promised and all these projects failed.

Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of GM technology, so staunch in fact that fellow Conservative Party MP Zac Goldsmith stated Paterson was little more than an industry puppet (see this in the UK’s Independent newspaper that quotes Goldsmith).

Paterson is ignorant of or at least content to side line the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and economic impacts of GMOs, which are outined in the 'GMO Myths and Truths' report. He acts as a mouthpieces for the GMO biotech sector and has made numerous false claims about the benefits and safety of GMOs that fly in the face of research findings.

In the recent past, he was keen to reassure the British public that safety concerns over GMOs are based on "humbug" and that GM food is completely safe to eat. See this article, which outlines Paterson’s stance and critiques his claims. 

When Paterson talks about 'enemies' of the 'green revolution' as being fanatical Luddites, he may also like to consider that the ‘green revolution’ was not the resounding success he likes to portray it as. Raj Patel provides some revealing insight into how the ‘green revolution’ took credit for many gains in Indian agricultural that were due to other influences (see this). And, of course, the ‘green revolution’ was based on, among other things, massive external inputs, violence, severe environmental and human health degradation and debt (see this – the entire text of Vandana Shiva’s book ‘The Violence of the Green Revolution’ - and this and this, which both highlight the current agrarian crisis in Punjab, the original ‘poster boy’ of the ‘green revolution’).   

It comes as no surprise that Paterson would state the things he does. As Environment Minister, his support for GMOs was being carried out in partnership with a number of pro-GMO institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience. Last year, despite government attempts to throw a veil of secrecy over meetings and conversations it had with the industry, GeneWatch UK uncovered evidence that GMO companies are driving UK government policy in this area (see here). 

So if you were still wondering from where and whom Paterson is getting his information from, it should by now be clear. 

His attacks on Greenpeace and others who advocate a shift away from petrochemical/GM agriculture towards sustainable farming are part of the wider media campaign to demonize scientists and prominent anti-GMO campaigners. A number of hatchet pieces have in recent months branded Vandana Shiva a liar and a charlatan and the GMO lobby has assembled all the ingredients (not least a massive amount of money) of a classic yet predictable propaganda campaign (see this and this). From the UK, to Ghana (see this) and India (see this), there is a concerted campaign by the GMO lobby and its political handmaidens to demonize critics of GMOs. 

Paterson plays his role well.

Such tactics are used because the pro-GMO lobby has a big problem. It cannot provide a convincing case for GMOs. It therefore resorts to populism, intimidation, character assassination, emotional blackmail, falsehoods, panic mongering and unfounded claims (see this to see how its rhetoric about ‘sound science’ and dispassionate reason informing the debate on GMOs contradicts how it acts in reality). In fact, it goes above and beyond such things by tightening its grip on countries on the back of coups, war and conflict (see this to understand how big agritech concerns benefit from and fuel the situation in Ukraine).

Yes, it is a time of great mischief as Paterson says – but not because of what his critics say or do – but because of what he and his backers do by turning their backs on the type of sound science and progress in the way that he falsely he accuses GMO critics of doing. 

Paterson belongs to the pro-big business Conservative Party which champions the type of privatisation, public expenditure reduction, deregulation, tax avoiding and ‘free’ trade policies that have ceded policy decision making to powerful corporate players. This has in turn led to a concentration of wealth (see this) and imposed ‘austerity’ and drives hunger, poverty, land grabs and the disappearance of family/peasant farms (see this analysis of food commodity speculationthis description of the global food system and this report by the Oakland Institute on land grabs) – the very bedrock of global food production (see this).

What Paterson and the agritech cartel offer is more of the same by tearing up traditional agriculture for the benefit of corporate entities. Paterson talks of critics of GMO as being Luddites, fanatics and condemning billions (yes, he does say billions!) to poverty and underdevelopment with regressive policies. He should look closer to home.

He should realise that elite interests in the West have condemned tens of millions to hunger and poverty in Africa by enslaving them and their nations to debt and that agriculture has for many decades been an important means by which US foreign policy creates dependence and subservience (see here). But such things are not to be debates by Paterson. Like all good (or should that be bad?) politicians, he twists the truth and turns deception and hypocrisy into an art.  

The current global system of chemical-industrial agriculture and World Trade Organisation rules that agritech companies helped draw up for their benefit to force their products into countries (see  here) are a major cause of structural hunger, poverty, illness and environmental destruction. By its very design, the system is meant to suck the life from people, nations and the planet for profit and control (see  here). Blaming critics of this system for the problems of the system is highly convenient. And forwarding some bogus technical quick-fix will not put things right. It represents more of the same.

So you want to ‘help’ Africa Mr Paterson?

Daniel Maingi works with small farmers in Kenya and belongs to the organization Growth Partners for Africa. Maingi was born on a farm in eastern Kenya and studied agriculture from a young age. He remembers a time when his family would grow and eat a diversity of crops, such as mung beans, green grams, pigeon peas, and a variety of fruits now considered ‘wild’. Following the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s and 1990s and a green revolution meant to boost agricultural efficiency, the foods of his childhood have been replaced with maize, maize, and more maize. He says:

 "In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.” (see here  and here for the sources that quote Maingi and other commentators mentioned below).

As much of Africa is so dry, it’s not suited for thirsty crops, and heavy use of fertilizer kills worms and microbes important for soil health. Maingi therefore argues that the model of farming in the West is not appropriate for farming in most of Africa and that the West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology.

Growth Partners Africa works with farmers to enrich the soil with manure and other organic material, to use less water and to grow a variety of crops, including some that would be considered weeds on an industrial farm. For Maingi, food sovereignty in Africa means reverting to a way of farming and eating that pre-dates major investment from the West.

Mariam Mayet of the African Centre for Biosafety in South Africa says that many countries are subsidizing farmers to buy fertilizer as part of the chemical-industrial model of  agriculture, but that takes money away from public crop-breeding programmes that provide improved seeds to farmers at low cost:

“It’s a system designed to benefit agribusinesses and not small-scale farmers.”

She adds because so many institutions, from African governments to the World Bank, have ‘embraced’ the ‘green revolution’ so much that alternative farming methods are getting short shrift.

Elizabeth Mpofu, of La Via Campesina, grows a variety of crops in Zimbabwe. During a recent drought, neighbours who relied on chemical fertilizer lost most of their crops. She reaped a bounty of sorghum, corn, and millet using what are called agro-ecological methods: natural pest control, organic fertilizer, and locally adapted crops.

There is also concern about the increased reliance on expensive inputs and the dramatic drop in price of crops. This has resulted in poverty for the small farmer.

Daniel Maingi:

“What the World Bank has done, the International Monetary fund, what AGRA and Bill Gates are doing, it’s actually pretty wrong. The farmer himself should not be starving”.

He added that what the Gates Foundation/big agritech backed Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA) (see this) is doing is “out of sync with the natural process” by bringing in imported seeds, which are not adapted to the land and require excessive fertilizer and pesticides. 

In effect, giant agritech corporations with their patented GMO seeds and associated chemical inputs are working to ensure a shift away from diversified agriculture that guarantees balanced local food production, the protection of people’s livelihoods and environmental sustainability. The evidence provided by GRAIN and the Oakland Institute shows that small farmers are being displaced and are struggling to preserve their indigenous seeds and traditional knowledge of farming systems. 

Globally, agritech corporations are being allowed to shape government policy by being granted a strategic role in trade negotiations (see this). They are increasingly setting the policy/knowledge framework by being allowed to fund and determine the nature of research carried out in public universities and institutes (see this). They continue to propagate the myth that they have the answer to global hunger and poverty.

… take capitalism and business out of farming in Africa. The West should invest in indigenous knowledge and agro-ecology, education and infrastructure and stand in solidarity with the food sovereignty movement.” Daniel Maingi, Growth Partners for Africa.

Paterson and his corporate associates believe that the poor must be ‘helped’ by the West and its powerful corporations and billionaire 'philanthropists'. It harks back to colonialism. The West has already done enough damage in Africa as Michel Chossudovsky has described:

“The “economic therapy” imposed under IMF-World Bank jurisdiction is in large part responsible for triggering famine and social devastation in Ethiopia and the rest of sub-Saharan Africa, wreaking the peasant economy and impoverishing millions of people. With the complicity of branches of the US government, it has also opened the door for the appropriation of traditional seeds and landraces by US biotech corporations, which behind the scenes have been peddling the adoption of their own genetically modified seeds under the disguise of emergency aid and famine relief. Moreover, under WTO rules, the agri-biotech conglomerates can manipulate market forces to their advantage as well as exact royalties from farmers. The WTO provides legitimacy to the food giants to dismantle State programmes including emergency grain stocks, seed banks, extension services and agricultural credit, etc.), plunder peasant economies and trigger the outbreak of periodic famines.” See the full article (‘Sowing the Seeds of Famine in Ethiopia’) from which this extract is taken here


When Owen Paterson accuses critics of GMOs of being elitist and regressive, he is merely attempting to shift the focus from his own own elitist, regressive ideology. 

Hasn't the world had enough of the type of Western 'humanitarianism' that Paterson espouses?

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NATO Plans Global Dominance

NATO Plans Global Dominance

by Stephen Lendman

NATO was established in April 1949. It's a US imperial tool. It's been this way from inception. Washington provides the lion's share of funding. It's around 75%.

Claiming a NATO "political and military alliance for peace and security" doesn't wash. It never did. It's polar opposite truth. NATO's mission is offense, not defense. 

Post-WW II, the Russians weren't coming. War devastated their country. It took years to recover. Cold War hysteria was contrived. It stoked fear. 

It launched an arms race. War profiteers benefitted hugely. Napoleon once said: "Men are moved by two levers only: fear and self-interest." 

Robert Griffiths is UK Communist Party general secretary. In 2010, he called NATO a "global military and reconnaissance infrastructure…created to support US, British and western European big business interests, especially energy, financial and armaments monopolies."

What began "as a cold war provocation against a non-existent Soviet threat (now) invent(s) or exaggerat(es) threats from so-called failed or rogue states, Islamic fundamentalism and cyber-terrorism."

NATO's original 12 members included America, Britain, France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Canada, Portugal, Italy, Denmark, Portugal and Iceland. 

Four new members were added before the Berlin Wall fell in 1989. They included Greece and Turkey (1952), West Germany (1955), and Spain (1982).

NATO currently includes 28 member nations, 22 Euro-Atlantic Partnership Council (EAPC) ones, seven Mediterranean Dialogue countries, and four Istanbul Cooperation Initiative (ICI) states.

They comprise nearly one-third of world nations. NATO plans exponential expansion. It wants new members and partners on all continents. It wants them virtually everywhere.

It's Washington-led. It's a global killing machine. It wants all adversaries and potential ones eliminated. It wants unchallenged world dominance. 

April 4, 2009 was NATO's 60th anniversary. Peace groups, global justice movements, trade unions, students, and others met in Strasbourg, France.

They rallied under the slogan "No to War - No to NATO." They called NATO an obstacle to world peace. They issued a public statement, saying:

NATO "is a vehicle for US-led use of force with military bases on all continents, bypassing the United Nations and the system of international law, accelerating militarization and escalating arms expenditures."

"To achieve our vision of a peaceful world, we reject military responses to global and regional crises. We refuse to live under the terror of nuclear weapons, and reject a new arms race."

World security depends on peaceful cooperation and coexistence. NATO dominance prevents it.

Bogus threats justify the unjustifiable. Enemies are invented when none exist. They're pretexts for aggressive wars. 

They follow one after another. Multiple ones continue at same time. New nations await targeting.

A permanent state of war exists. World peace is threatened. Bosnia 1995 was NATO's first war of aggression. In 1999, raping Yugoslavia followed. So did war on humanity through today.

Most world nations are allied militarily with America and its NATO allies. US Africa Command (AFRICOM) alone includes 53 nations.

Dozens of countries partner in America's wars. Since 1999, they included air and ground conflicts on three continents - Europe, Asia and Africa. 

Will more European war follow? Will US-led NATO dare risk it with Russia? Will South America be targeted? Will Venezuela be ground zero? 

Will war on humanity destroy it? Will lunatics making policy risk it? Conditions today are incendiary. World peace was never more threatened. 

Ukrainian geopolitical flashpoint conditions risk global war. Paul Craig Roberts calls it a "final" one. World wars I and II were warmups.

Weapons used then were toys compared to now. Humanity could be annihilated in 24 hours or less. The insanity of potential nuclear war makes the unthinkable possible.

Roberts says we're "again on the road to World War." The "drive (toward it) is blatantly obvious." Big Lies precipitating global conflict are "obvious."

America, rogue NATO partners, other willing governments and media scoundrels are involved. Propaganda wars precede hot ones.

Big Lies repeat with disturbing regularity. Rule of law principles don't matter. World peace is a non-starter. Global conquest is US-led NATO's long sought goal. It's insatiable. It's madness.

Imagine risking planet earth's destruction to control it. NATO plans eastern expansion. 

Obama lied saying contingency plans must be "updated" to assure "we do more to ensure that a regular NATO presence among some of these states that may feel vulnerable" to Russia.

No threat whatever exists. America and its rogues allies alone threaten world peace. Their agenda goes all-out to prevent it.

Millions of corpses bear witness. NATO Secretary General Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a US imperial stooge. He regurgitates what his US masters tell him.

"I join Barack Obama in considering additional NATO measures: updated defense plans, enhanced exercises, (and) appropriate deployments" closer to Russia's borders, he said.

Military cooperation with Ukraine will be enhanced, he added. On April 1, Reuters headlined "NATO plans support for east Europeans worried about Crimea."

It switched headlines midday to "NATO sees no sign of Russian pullback from Ukraine border."

On April 1 and 2, NATO ministers met in Brussels. They examined "options ranging from stepped-up military exercises and sending more forces to eastern members states, to the permanent basing of alliance forces there…"

Encroaching closer to Russia's border is hugely provocative. Imagine Washington's reaction if Moscow planned deploying its forces along America's northern and/or southern borders.

Imagine if its warships patrolled its east, west, and Gulf of Mexico waters. Imagine if its warplanes patrolled close to its airspace.

Imagine potential war erupting. Imagine it following provocative US-led NATO plans.

Claiming a Russian threat doesn't wash. None whatever exists. Moscow prioritizes peaceful co-existence. America is obsessed with empire building.

A circulating social media graphic shows Western and Eastern Europe infested with NATO bases encroaching on Russia's borders. 

How dare Moscow locate its territory close to NATO military installations, it suggests. 

Putin abhors acquiring territory belligerently. He's polar opposite Obama. He prioritizes peace and stability. 

You'd never know it from how intensively he's bashed. He's an obstacle to unchallenged US global dominance. 

He's the best chance around to prevent it. He deserves praise, not condemnation. 

He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. He deserves what only war criminals get. Obama is Exhibit A.

He claims no intention in intervening militarily in Ukraine. He's a serial liar. He broke every major promise made. His word isn't his bond. 

He represents the worst of rogue leadership. His conspiratorial partners share responsibility. Wrongfully claiming Russia seized Crimean is a rallying cry for war.

Germany is more belligerent than any time since WW II. It's considering sending warplanes to patrol Eastern European airspace.

NATO deployed aircraft doubled in recent weeks. Expect more of the same ahead. Expect Western warships patrolling Black Sea waters provocatively.

Expect NATO forces establishing a permanent Ukrainian presence. Expect fascist putschists supplied destructive weapons and munitions. 

Expect provocative NATO-led war games on Russia's borders. Washington already increased its Eastern Europe air patrols.

Its NATO ambassador Douglas Lute said Kerry would discuss additional measures with Eastern European allies.

"They will talk about…what more can be done to amplify the measures that have been taken already and to sustain them over time so that these measures are not simply short-term gestures," he said. 


Preparing for was takes time. Perhaps plans were drawn to wage what Paul Craig Roberts calls the "final" one. 

A nonexistent Russian threat is being hyped provocatively. America's sordid history is long and disturbing. 

Enemies are invented. They're pretexts for war. Permanent ones reflect official US policy. 

The late Gore Vidal once said "our rulers…made sure that we are never to be told the truth about anything that our government has done to other people, not to mention our own."

Historian Harry Elmer Barnes (1889 - 1968) worried about disturbing trends. If they continue, "we shall soon reach this point of no return, and can only anticipate interminable wars, disguised as noble gestures for peace," he said.

Washington threatens humanity. Hans Morgenthau (1904 - 1980) was a prominent geopolitical observer. Ignore reality and perish, he believed.

He called a third world war inevitable. A "strategic nuclear war," he said. "I do not believe anything can be done to prevent it." 

"The international system is simply too unstable to survive for long." America bears full responsibility. Rogue European, Israeli and other conspiratorial partners share it.

Escalating tensions makes the unthinkable possible. Obama itches for more war. His entire tenure reflects it. He waged multiple and direct ones from day one to now.

They're wars of choice, not necessity. They lawless acts of aggression. They continue out-of-control. He's got lots more targets in mind. Imagine challenging Russia belligerently.

Imagine what no previous US presidents dared. Imagine lunatics doing it for unchallenged power. Imagine the worst of all possible outcomes. Imagine risking mass annihilation.

The road to hell is paved with megalomaniacal ambitions. Whether or not Nero fiddled while Rome burned pales in comparison today's threat.

Incendiary geopolitical global conditions exist. They're worse than any time since WW II. They're real. It bears repeating. At stake is humanity's survival. 

Obama risks destroying it entirely. East/West global war is the surest way to do it. His agenda heads increasingly closer to waging it.

It's hard imagining anything more reckless. Stopping him before it's too late matters most. Humanity's survival depends on it. What greater priority than that.

A Final Comment

On April 1, NATO suspended all military and civilian cooperation with Russia. It did so based on lies relating to Ukraine. A statement said:

"We have decided to suspend all practical civilian and military cooperation between NATO and Russia." 

"Our political dialogue in the NATO-Russia Council can continue, as necessary, at the Ambassadorial level and above, to allow us to exchange views, first and foremost on this crisis."

In June, NATO/Russian relations will be reviewed. NATO foreign ministers urged Moscow "to take immediate steps…to return to compliance with international law."

US-led NATO blames lawlessly targeted countries for its crimes. It's "implement(ing) immediate and longer term measures to strengthen Ukraine's ability to provide for its own security."

It's not threatened. It doesn't matter. NATO wants greater encroachment on Russia's border. It wants it provocatively targeted. 

It wants long range nuclear armed missiles targeting its heartland. It wants what no responsible threatened leader would tolerate.

It wants its fascist putschist allies involved in provocative lawlessness. Perhaps a major false flag operation is planned. 

Perhaps it's to goad Russia into belligerent confrontation. Perhaps it's for what Paul Craig Roberts calls "final" war. 

Hegemons operate this way. America exceeds the worst of all earlier ones. Obama heads the world's most ruthless one by far. 

World conquest involves lots more death and destruction he has in mind. It means eliminating all rivals and potential ones. 

It may end up destroying planet earth to own it. Perhaps nothing will be left worth fighting for.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected] 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Killing The World By Feeding the World: The Onslaught Of Pro-GM Propaganda By Officialdom...

Global Research 28/3/2014

The British government appears hell bent on ramming the GM biotech sector’s poison done the throats of the British people. Food and Farming Secretary Owen Paterson has been called a puppet of the sector and is either ignorant of or is wholly misrepresenting the efficacy and health impacts of GMOs (1), while Anne Glover, Chief Scientific Advisor of the European Commission, has been accused of presenting lies as facts over the GM issue (2).

Now the British government’s Chief Scientist, Mark Walport, has insisted that EU rules banning the commercial cultivation of GM crops have to be changed to feed the world:


“We take it for granted that because shelves in supermarkets are heaving with food there is no problem. But we have limited agricultural land around the world and in the UK.
Climate disruption and population growth are increasing the pressures on food supply. The challenge is to get more from existing land in a sustainable way, or people will go unfed.”


In a recent letter to PM David Cameron, he said:


“We should have confidence in the scientific evidence which concludes that, when properly controlled, GM products are as safe as their conventional counterparts.”

Genetic scientist Jonathan Jones has weighed in by claiming:


“How anyone could think this is a bad thing boggles the mind. We need to better explain that there is nothing intrinsically wrong with the GM method.”

Perhaps Paterson, Glover, Walport and Jones would like to turn their minds to a vast body of scientific evidence that serves to make their claims look ridiculous. If Walport places so much faith in scientific evidence, here is some for him to chew on.


GMOs and glyphosate, which is used in conjunction with many GM crops and in increasing quantities as more GM crops are planted (3,4), are associated with birth defects and infertility (5), autism, Parkinson’s, Alzheimer’s (6), celiac disease and gluten intolerance (7), Morgollons disease (8) and a wide range of other diseases (9,10).


In terms of solving hunger, his argument is flawed too: more traditional methods of producing food produce lead to greater results and are genuinely sustainable, unlike chemical-industrial agriculture and GMOs which are clearly not (11,12,13,14,15).


Predictably, however, much of the mounting evidence about the negative impacts of GMOs is dismissed by the GM sector as ‘bad science’ appearing in bogus (yet peer reviewed) publications, whereas the ‘independent’ studies that the sector’s mouthpieces choose to quote are carried out, funded or somehow supported by from the industry itself.


GMOs and the imperialist mindset


If Paterson et al really want to address hunger, they need look no further than the type of corporate-driven economic plunder being pursued under the guise of neo-liberalism (16) and the associated nature of the global system of food production and distribution (17), which by creating indebtedness and destroying food sovereignty is skewed to benefit rich nations and creates and sustains hunger and food poverty and unnecessary ‘population pressures’ in parts of the world.


Paterson et al may like to take a hard look at the imperialist policies being pursued by rich nations under the banner of ‘globalisation’ or ‘spreading democracy’ via militarism or ‘free’ trade if they or the corporations they are backing are keen to talk about feeding the world and a world of plenty for all. Those policies, whether applied to Ukraine(18), India(19) or imposed on ordinary people in the EU (20) or elsewhere are aimed at concentrating wealth and power in the hands of a corporate global oligarchy. The type of solution they propose for food poverty is the type of solution that springs from an engrained imperialist mindset, however unwitting that mindset may be. We already live in a world of plenty – appropriated from those who are denied it.


As if to underline that fact, many people in Britainare going hungry, one of the richest nations on the planet, not because of a lack of food, but because they are being impoverished as a result of the very policies outlined above (21). It’s a microcosm of what’s happening throughout the world.  


Such people (Walport, Paterson, etc) could spend their time more usefully by lobbying against such policies as opposed to lobbying for the corporations and the US state that fuel this system and which seek to profit from using tampered with food as a weapon to control food producers, food consumers and nation states.


New pro-GM ‘independent’ report


Walport and Jones’s statements came on the back of a report from a government advisory body released last week. It was presented as an ‘independent’ report in a bid to speed up the use of GM food in the UK, regardless of the fact that British people do not want it (22). However, according to the Mail Online (23), all five authors of the report have a vested interest in promoting GM crops. Little surprise then that they call for GM crops to be fast-tracked into Britain.


The academics who authored the report were selected by the Council for Science and Technology, the body that advises the British Prime Minister on science policy issues. According to Sean Poulter and Ben Spencer of the Mail Online, no information was given during the press conference about the report regarding the five scientists, beyond their names and the institutions they work for.


One is a consultant for Syngenta, which gives his academic department research funding. Syngenta is behind a GA21 GM maize or corn, which could go into farms as early as next spring, making it Britain’s first commercially grown GM crop. Another author works for the Sainsbury Laboratory, which is at the centre of Britain’s GM research. It is part-funded by Lord Sainsbury, who is one of the country’s biggest supporters of the technology. And another author was a founder member of CropGen, which describes its mission as "to make the case for GM crops and foods."


The study suggested GM crops could save the hungry in the developing world from starvation and create new plants resistant to disease and pests - similar to the usual PR that the GM sector spews out in its glossy brochures. The authors argued that current EU regulation should be re-drawn to allow the UKto go it alone and plant the crops, even if the rest of Europeobjects.


Claire Robinson of GM Watch has said:


"By no stretch of the imagination can these people be described as independent scientists. Their views should be treated with the same scepticism we would apply to any sales pitch."

Critics say the timing of the release of the study and a supporting letter from Mark Walport, are highly suspicious. The details were sent to PM David Cameron in November, but Walport and ministers delayed going public until now. Walport claimed that the regulations, which have so far kept commercial GM cultivation out of Britain, are not fit for purpose and need urgent changes.


Owen Paterson, who is little more than a mouthpiece for the GM sector, is trying to convince the EU to allow Britain to plant GM crops even if other states want a ban. The Mail Online says the publication of the supposedly independent study calling for exactly this policy is expected to prove useful in those negotiations.

Director of GM Freeze, Liz O’Neill, asserts:


"A group of scientists with financial interests in the success of GM wrote a letter to the Prime Minister in November, but waited four months to tell the press about it: just in time for EU discussions about regulation. Something certainly smells a bit fishy."

Dr Brian John, of the group GM Free Wales, said:


"This extraordinary report, published very conveniently to coincide with Owen Paterson’s attempts within the EU to dismantle GM regulations and to repatriate powers to the UK, is in turns naive, biased, disingenuous, cynical, and downright dangerous. We find it incredible that five senior scientists can have been so dismissive of the work of  scores of independent scientists who have discovered that GM organisms are directly and indirectly harmful to mammals and to  the environment. In the world of science there should be respect for those whose findings are 'inconvenient."


The Science Media Centre, which released the report, insisted the authors were independent. A spokesman said:


"They are not employed by government or industry, and each works for different publicly funded universities and research institutes. For better or worse, it’s not unusual any more for universities and institutions to get bits and pieces of funding from government, charities and industry – indeed many can only access public money on condition that they raise a proportion of their funds from commercial or private sources. This does not automatically undermine their independence."

One of the authors of the report by the, which advises the government, argued that the debate had been skewed by an anti-GM ‘neurosis’ which has slowed progress.


Soil Association chief executive Helen Browning argued:


"It’s really just not good enough for a group of scientists who have a strong interest, it seems, through their funding sources, in persuading a reluctant public to accept the growing of GM crops in the UK, to be the ones who attempt to write the rule book on how that should happen."

Does Britainor for that matter the world want to hand over its entire food sovereignty to USagribusiness, which wants to control the entire system of food production and distribution (24)? Recent events in Indiaindicate how GM sector puppets in high political office are narrowing our choice (25). People are already dying as a result of the chemicals being inserted into and sprayed onto their food. GMOs offer more of the same and also provide the opportunity for the USto hold virtually every country on the planet to ransom once its corporations own all food, from lab to seed to table.  


Notes




























The US and Britain’s Paedophile Colony

Felicity Arbuthnot  RINF Alternative News Less than a month before the 11th anniversary of the illegal US-led invasion of Iraq, the near destruction of much of...

Crimea Referendum: US and EU Threaten Russia, NATO Supports Ukraine’s Coalition Government

Johannes Stern  RINF Alternative News In the lead-up to the referendum on the status of Crimea scheduled for March 16, Washington and its European allies are...

US Imperialism and the Ukraine Coup

Jeff Mackler  RINF Alternative News The recent Ukrainian Maidan (Independence Square) mobilizations are a grotesque caricature of the mass protests of workers and youth in Egypt...

The European Union, Institutionalised Corruption and the Revolving Door


Global Research and Countercurrents 10/4/2014

One of the many ways by which rich corporations exert their influence over and hijack government bodies is via the ‘revolving door’ process (1,2). Big business is highly adept at positioning its (former) employers within policy and regulatory bodies in order to slant legislation in its own interests. And employees from the government sector have often left highly paid, politically well-connected jobs to take up even higher paid jobs lobbying or working on behalf on behalf corporations, with former British PM Tony Blair being a prime example, working on behalf of big oil and big finance (3).   


On its website, Corporate European Observatory (CEO) provides a list of top European bureaucrats who have taken a spin through the revolving door and how the European Commission (EC) has failed to regulate the potential conflicts of interest (4).


As a result, European commissioners have now been reminded of the need to avoid conflicts of interest which undermine public trust in EU policy-making, as they near the end of their term in office. The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) has sent individual letters (see 5) to every serving European commissioner to remind them of their responsibilities under the revolving door rules.


ALTER-EU is a coalition of about 200 civil society groups, trade unions, academics and public affairs firms campaigning against the increasing influence exerted by corporate lobbyists on the political agenda in Europe.

When the last Barroso Commission (6) left office in 2010, a number of former commissioners went through the revolving door by taking private sector jobs, which raised concerns about the risk of conflicts of interest (7).


For example, Günter Verheugen who had been the European commissioner for enterprise and industry founded the European Experience Company, a consultancy firm together with his former head of cabinet Petra Erler. Meanwhile, Charlie McCreevy who had been the European commissioner for the internal market joined the boards of Ryanair, Sentenial and the bank BNY Mellon.


The letters were sent out because ALTER-EU is keen to ensure there is no repeat of these scandals when the current commissioners leave office later this year.


Olivier Hoedeman of CEO, a member of the ALTER-EU steering committee said:


“Our letter reminds the current crop of commissioners about the revolving door rules, but also recommends some higher standards, which we encourage all commissioners to follow. After all, if former commissioners are entitled to a generous three-year transitional allowance, it is not unreasonable to ask that they also refrain from lobbying for three years.”


Jorgo Riss, director of the Greenpeace European Unit and a member of the ALTER-EU steering committee said:


“We don't want to see a repeat of the Verheugen and McCreevy scandals in 2014. In January ALTER-EU asked President Barroso to remind his team about the revolving door rules before they left office. The Commission has seemingly ignored our request, so we thought we had better take action into our own hands.”


Ricardo Gutiérrez, General Secretary of the European Federation of Journalists and another member of the ALTER-EU steering committee said:


“Commissioners should be leaders in complying with the highest ethical standards, even after the end of their term in office. It is clearly against what they have worked for if they jump straight into the arms of big business as lobbyists once they have left the Commission.”


The individual letter to each commissioner reminds them that there is an 18-month notification period after they leave office during which time they must notify the Commission if they plans to take up new professional activities. Former commissioners also face an 18-month lobbying ban. These rules are included within the code of conduct for commissioners (6). However, ALTER-EU considers that both of these rules should be extended to three years to match the transitional allowance to which former commissioners are entitled and to better rule out the risk of conflicts of interest from arising.

In 2010, 17 former members of the European Commission received at least €96,000 per year in transitional allowances, money intended to help them ease back into the labour market. Many received this money despite the fact that some of them were already working as politicians or lobbyists.

The ongoing failure of the EC to address the issues surrounding the revolving door between big business and EC bodies smacks of institutionalized corruption. On top of the current secretive, business-led free trade deals with the US and India, it is one more reason why the European public has little reason to place little trust in the EC and its policy making.


Notes



The Bleached Bones of the Dead: What the Modern World Owes Slavery

Greg Grandin  RINF Alternative News Many in the United States were outraged by the remarks of conservative evangelical preacher Pat Robertson, who blamed Haiti’s catastrophic 2010...

Syria’s Chemical Weapons Destruction

Chaos, Corruption, Grand Theft, and an Experiment Felicity Arbuthnot  RINF Alternative News On September 12, 2013, Syria’s President al-Assad committed to surrender Syria’s chemical weapons, with the...

Washington’s “Global War on Terrorism”: Violence, War and Instability in an “Arc of Terror”

Nicolas J S Davies  RINF Alternative News Twelve years into America’s “war on terror,” it is time to admit that it has failed catastrophically, unleashing violence,...

Economic Terror And Rolling Out India’s Surveillance State

Global Research 5/2/2014, Countercurrents 6/2/2014 and Deccan Herald 6/2/2014

When two planes flew into the World Trade Organisation buildings inNew York in 2001, the impact was twofold. First, there was shock and outrage. Second, there was a collective sentiment, at least in the US, that something must be done to prevent such a thing happening again and some form of retributive justice meted out.


Governments the world over wasted no time in conveniently forcing through legislation that eroded personal and collective freedoms, under the guise of preventing terror, at a time of increasing social and economic inequalities due to a strident and exploitative economic neo-liberal agenda.


If 9/11 served at least one purpose, apart from fuelling Western military imperialism according to the tenets of the neo-con Project for a New American Century, it was to provide any or every government on the planet with a reason for clamping down on its own population, stripping away civil liberties and making people acquiesce to the needs of global capital. Edward Snowden’s revelations about the US and British surveillance agencies and programmes have exposed just how far governments are prepared to go in order to snoop on virtually every activity that ordinary members of the public engage in. Politicians on both sides of the Atlantic try to justify this illegal snooping on the basis of it being carried out for people's own good on the back of self-proclaimed ‘security alerts’.


But history shows that widespread surveillance by governments on their own populations has mostly been about attempting to monitor and quell dissent and genuine opposition to its policies (1). The US and British states have long been involved in illegal, duplicitous monitoring and subversion of perfectly legitimate democratic groups on their own soils. Western intelligence agencies have been used to crush democracy at home in order to serve the interests of elite state-corporate players. From Martin Luther King and the Occupy Movement to Veterans for Peace, the US state has used the full panoply of resources to infiltrate, monitor or subvert. Today, democratic movements that seek to legitimately question and challenge the influence of Wall Street, US military policy abroad and a range of other policies that have serve elite interests are spied on and ‘neutralised’. The conclusion is that mass surveillance occurs because legitimate political dissent that poses a direct challenge to the one percent will not be tolerated.


Should people in India be worried about the rolling out of the Indian’s government own plans for mass monitoring, the Centralised Monitoring System? They should, given the genuine concerns being raised about the lack of Parliamentary oversight and transparency surrounding the system, as well as the scope and depth and the violation of privacy safeguards, which could be as far reaching, secretive and unconstitutional/illegal as the West’s PRISM system (2,3,4).


And they should be concerned because the agenda is the same. Social and economic trends in India have been mirroring those in the West since neo-liberal economic policies were embraced by leading politicians here. The gap between rich and poor has widened, wealth is being concentrated in the hands of a relatively small number of families and billionaires, often courtesy of politicians who ‘facilitate’ the handing out of contracts and chunks of public money.  


The growing chasm in both India and the West between rich and poor has not been lost on policy makers who fear a backlash from ordinary folk. Such concerns were recently voiced at the World Economic Forum. It’s for good reason then that ‘homeland security’ has been beefed up in the US and drones are to be used to spy on its own citizens. It’s for good reason that the NSA and its British equivalent are paranoid about their populations’ political views, allegiances and activities. Mass surveillance of ordinary people is not about preventing terror; it’s about stopping ordinary folk seeking to stop a further shift in the balance of power towards elite interests.  



And it’s also for good reason that the Indian government is investing massively in military equipment and surveillance at a time when the rich are looting the economy and protests and uprisings are occurring across the nation in order to protect their lands, forests and communities from this assault.


India’s top ten billionaires account for over 12 percent of the country’s GDP, while 7,850 High Net Worth individuals account for US$935 billion, half of India’s GDP. As in the West, India’s military-corporate-state complex is working hand in glove to shove economic neo-liberalism and its impact down the throats of the people. This is the type of extremism and economic terror that is seldom discussed.     


In 2013, the Indian defence budget formed over ten percent of total government expenditure. It has been for many years the world’s largest market for imported arms. In 2000, India spent an estimated US$ 911 million on arms imports; by 2013, this had risen to US$4.6 billion. As both violent and peaceful opposition to government policies is on the rise among many of the nation's poorest people, who become conveniently tarnished by many mainstream commentators as 'the enemy within', India now has the world’s largest paramilitary force in place to 'deal' with them.(5).


Apart from ongoing violent conflicts in the ‘tribal belt’ and elsewhere, there is the continuing all pervasive structural violence of crony capitalism, corruption, ‘globalisation’ and neo-liberalism, which has, among other atrocities, resulted in up to 300,000 farmer suicides and India having over one-third of the poorest people in the world and the world’s largest number of children suffering from malnutrition (6).


There are people who want to do us harm. We need to be protected. There are extremists and wrong doers who want to bend the system for their own narrow agendas against the interests of the many. There always has been. Unfortunately, they have hijacked the machinery of state(s) and are increasingly to be found in positions of authority implementing surveillance and economic terrorism ‘for our own good’.


Notes





If GCHQ mass surveillance catches terrorists why not armed gangs?

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American Crisis

Linh Dinh  RINF Alternative News Though Thomas Paine galvanized this country into being and gave it its very name, The United States of America, there is...

Surveillance and Scandal: Time-Tested Weapons for US Global Power

Alfred W. McCoy RINF Alternative News For more than six months, Edward Snowden’s revelations about the National Security Agency (NSA) have been pouring out from the Washington...

Terrorism as an Instrument of Imperial Conquest. From Afghanistan to Syria, America Supports Al...

“At last the world knows America as the savior of the world!” — President Woodrow Wilson, Paris Peace Conference, 1919 The horrors reported each day...

“Economic Terrorism”: The Ongoing Neoliberal Assault on Ordinary Working Class People in Britain

British Chancellor George Osborne this week announced massive cuts of £25 billion after 2015. This included further welfare cuts of £12bn. Osbourne said that...

The Ongoing Neoliberal Assault On Ordinary Working Class People In Britain


The Market Oracle, Global Research and Countercurrents 8/1/2014

British Chancellor George Osborne this week announced massive cuts of £25 billion after 2015. This included further welfare cuts of £12bn. Osbourne said that 2014 would be a year of hard truths. He claimed that his economic policies were working, but admitted that the bad news is there's still a long way to go.

He warned of more years of cuts to public services and the public sector by saying £25bn would be cut over two years after 2015. That is in addition to £17bn cuts this year and £20bn next year. Osbourne argued that government is going to have to be permanently smaller and so too is the welfare system.


When he says ‘welfare system’ does he also include cutting back the massive handouts given to the arms industry, for example, which amounts to £890 million per year according to the Campaign Against the Arms Trade (1), or the billions given to the private sector via the ‘corporate dole office’, the Department of Trade and Industry (now called the Department for Business Innovation and Skills)? Or does he exclude such types of corporate welfare dependency (2)?


What is interesting about this attack on the public sector by millionaire Osbourne and the rest of the millionaires in the British Cabinet is that the mantra that such cuts are necessary has been repeated endlessly over the past few years to the point that many of the public believe it’s true. But it’s not. Cuts are not necessary. It is ideology wrapped up in neo-liberal economic dogma that masquerades as ‘truth’. But it’s a big lie. It’s secular theology that the mainstream media never challenges and simply perpetuates.


Britain’s problems are not the result of spending on public services. In 1945, the debt was bigger than today, but Britain created the welfare state. In the 1960s, during an era of full employment, the debt was also bigger than now. In 2006, before the crisis, Britain spent more on public services than now, but there was no talk of cutting back the public sector.


The roots of the crisis (across Western economies) lie not in public sector spending but in a process that has seen the shifting balance of political and economic power towards elite interests. In the 1980s, much of Britain’s manufacturing industry was outsourced or run down, the union movement was attacked and almost decimated and wages have been depressed or have fallen in real terms over a number of years. To compensate for the hollowing out of the economy and driving down wages, low pay and increasing underemployment, credit became the short-term remedy for stimulating demand.


While profits during the last decade were higher than in the previous three decades, unemployment and underemployment have become a fact of life for millions (3). This is the outcome of the type of 'globalization' we have been witnessing and the lies that underpin it (4). It is the consequence of what David Rothkopf in this book 'The Global Power Elite and The World They are Making' says is the global elite's plundering of nations. 


The economic crisis is not due to lavish spending on public services, but the shattering of the post-war Keynesian consensus, based on notions of fairness, and consequent low demand and over investment, neo-liberal (low taxation - or no taxation for the corporate tax cheats) economic policies, a debt bubble economy and the massive welfare handout (bail out) to the banking sector. It is also a result of the manipulations within the unregulated financial sector (which was supposed to be the bedrock of the ‘new’ economy after the manufacturing base was deliberately destroyed), speculation, the criminal use of hedge funds and credit derivatives and all manner of secretive dodgy dealings that burst the bubbles they were intended to sustain. Ordinary folk are now being saddled with the consequences of a system they had no hand in shaping.


But mention the word ‘crisis’ and propaganda about the public sector being the root of all evil is sold to the masses by most politicians and the media.


Osbourne would never mention that the top 1,000 of Britain’s wealthiest people had an aggregate wealth of £333 bn in 2009. The national debt was half that. In 2009, they increased their wealth by a third (5). It doesn’t take a genius to see how the debt could be addressed. But Osbourne says: "There is no point in pretending that there is some magic wand that the Chancellor can wave to make the whole country feel richer than it actually is." 


And so the plunder of public resources continues. 


The priority of Osbourne and his millionaire cronies inside and outside the British Government is not the lives of ordinary people, but to maintain massive profit and to drive down wages and ‘costs’ and keep workers confused and weak.


Quoted in Britain’s Morning Star newspaper, Communist Party general secretary Rob Griffiths urges taxes on the rich and big business, plus public ownership of energy and public transport. The Unite union general secretary Len McCluskey accuses Mr Osborne of "continuing an unprecedented ideological attack on the state, with Britain's young people in the front line."


General union GMB general secretary Paul Kenny is also reported as demanding that big corporations must be made to pay their fair share of tax, bringing in billions of extra income. That would amount to a whopping £260 million a day according to economist and taxation specialist Richard Murphy (6).


What is happening in Britain is a continuation of what Thatcher did in the 1980s, with attacks on ordinary working people in order to allow an ever increasing concentration of power and wealth at the top. To help achieve it, we are witnessing the dismantling of the welfare state.


Mick McGahey, Vice President of the National Union of Mineworkers 1972-87:


"We understood the Conservative government's determination to use the state machine against us. In order to dismember the welfare state, they had to break the trade union movement and they needed to break the miners first."
McGahey was correct. The current Conservative-LibDem coalition is going further than Thatcher ever did. Osbourne and his cronies in government are mouthpieces for their powerful backers in the City ofLondon. As Labour MP Dennis Skinner observes:

"Osborne is busy lining the pockets of the people at the top of the pile."

Notes



How Right-Wing Radicals — From Nixon to Paul Ryan — Have Deceived America

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Here we build a prima facae case supporting the idea that Hollywood continues to be a target for infiltration and subversion by a variety...

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It’s enough to make one who knows even a little history gag. The death of Nelson Mandela has led to an outpouring of vapid commentary about Canada’s supposed role in defeating South African Apartheid. “Canada helped lead international fight against … Continue reading

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RINFORMATION

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Secrets R US: The NSA and Outsourcing Defense

This essay is an excerpt from  Big Lies: How Our Corporate Overlords, Politicians and Media Establishment Warp Reality and Undermine Democracy. Guma's latest book, Dons of Time, is a sci-fi look at the control of history as power.
Despite 24-hour news and talk about transparency, there's a lot we don't know about our past, much less current events. What’s worse, some of what we think we know isn't true.
The point is that it’s no accident. 
    Consider, for example, the circumstances that led to open war in Vietnam. According to official history, two US destroyers patrolling in the Gulf of Tonkin off North Vietnam were victims of unprovoked attacks in August 1964, leading to a congressional resolution giving President Johnson the power "to take all necessary measures."
     In fact, the destroyers were spy ships, part of a National Security Agency (NSA) eavesdropping program operating near the coast as a way to provoke the North Vietnamese into turning on their radar and other communications channels. The more provocative the maneuvers, the more signals that could be captured. Meanwhile, US raiding parties were shelling mainland targets. Documents revealed later indicated that the August 4 attack on the USS Maddox – the pretext for passing the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution – may not even have taken place.
     But even if it did, the incident was still stage managed to build up congressional and public support for the war. Evidence suggests that the plan was based on Operation Northwoods, a scheme developed in 1962 to justify an invasion of Cuba. Among the tactics the Joint Chiefs of Staff considered then were blowing up a ship in Guantanamo Bay, a phony "communist Cuba terror campaign" in Florida and Washington, DC, and an elaborate plan to convince people that Cuba had shot down a civilian airliner filled with students. That operation wasn't implemented, but two years later, desperate for a war, the administration's military brass found a way to create the necessary conditions in Vietnam.
For more than half a century, the eyes and ears of US power to monitor and manipulate information (and with it, mass perceptions) has been the NSA, initially designed to assist the CIA. Its original task was to collect raw information about threats to US security, cracking codes and using the latest technology to provide accurate intelligence on the intentions and activities of enemies. Emerging after World War II, its early focus was the Soviet Union. But it never did crack a high-level Soviet cipher system. On the other hand, it used every available means to eavesdrop on not only enemies but also allies and, sometimes, US citizens.
     In Body of Secrets, James Bamford described a bureaucratic and secretive behemoth, based in an Orwellian Maryland complex known as Crypto City. From there, supercomputers linked it to spy satellites, subs, aircraft, and equally covert, strategically placed listening posts worldwide. As of 2000, it had a $7 billion annual budget and directly employed at least 38,000 people, more than the CIA and FBI. It was also the leader of an international intelligence club, UKUSA, which includes Britain, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Together, they monitored and recorded billions of encrypted communications, telephone calls, radio messages, faxes, and e-mails around the world.
     Over the years, however, the line between enemies and friends blurred, and the intelligence gatherers often converted their control of information into unilateral power, influencing the course of history in ways that may never be known. No doubt the agency has had a hand in countless covert operations; yet, attempts to pull away the veil of secrecy have been largely unsuccessful.
     In the mid-1970s, for example, just as Congress was attempting to reign in the CIA, the NSA was quietly creating a virtual state, a massive international computer network named Platform. Doing away with formal borders, it developed a software package that turned worldwide Sigint (short for "signal intelligence": communication intelligence, eavesdropping, and electronic intelligence) into a unified whole. The software package was code named Echelon, a name that has since become a synonym for eavesdropping on commercial communication.
     Of course, the NSA and its British sister, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ), refused to admit Echelon existed, even though declassified documents appeared on the Internet and Congress conducted an initial investigation. But a European Parliament report also confirmed Echelon's activities, and encouraged Internet users and governments to adopt stronger privacy measures in response.
     In March 2001, several ranking British politicians discussed Echelon's potential impacts on civil liberties, and a European Parliament committee considered its legal, human rights, and privacy implications. The Dutch held similar hearings, and a French National Assembly inquiry urged the European Union to embrace new privacy enhancing technologies to protect against Echelon's eavesdropping. France launched a formal investigation into possible abuses for industrial espionage.
A prime reason for Europe's discontent was the growing suspicion that the NSA had used intercepted conversations to help US companies win contracts heading for European firms. The alleged losers included Airbus, a consortium including interests in France, Germany, Spain, and Britain, and Thomson CSF, a French electronics company. The French claimed they had lost a $1.4 billion deal to supply Brazil with a radar system because the NSA shared details of the negotiations with Raytheon. Airbus may have lost a contract worth $2 billion to Boeing and McDonnell Douglas because of information intercepted and passed on by the agency.
     According to former NSA agent Wayne Madsen, the US used information gathered from its bases in Australia to win a half share in a significant Indonesian trade contract for AT&T. Communication intercepts showed the contract was initially going to a Japanese firm. A bit later a lawsuit against the US and Britain was launched in France, judicial and parliamentary investigations began in Italy, and German parliamentarians demanded an inquiry.
     The rationale for turning the NSA loose on commercial activities, even those involving allies, was provided in the mid-90s by Sen. Frank DeConcini, then chairman of the Senate Intelligence Committee. "I don't think we should have a policy where we're going to invade the Airbus inner sanctum and find out their secrets for the purpose of turning it over to Boeing or McDonnell Douglas," he opined. "But if we find something, not to share it with our people seems to me to be not smart."
      President Bill Clinton and other US officials buttressed this view by charging that European countries were unfairly subsidizing Airbus. In other words, competition with significant US interests can be a matter of national security, and private capitalism must be protected from state-run enterprises.
      The US-Europe row about Airbus subsidies was also used as a "test case" for scientists developing new intelligence tools. At US Defense Department conferences on "text retrieval," competitions were staged to find the best methods. A standard test featured extracting protected data about "Airbus subsidies."
In the end, influencing the outcome of commercial transactions is but the tip of this iceberg. The NSA's ability to intercept to virtually any transmitted communication has enhanced the power of unelected officials and private interests to set covert foreign policy in motion. In some cases, the objective is clear and arguably defensible: taking effective action against terrorism, for example. But in others, the grand plans of the intelligence community have led it to undermine democracies.
     The 1975 removal of Australian Prime Minister Edward Whitlam is an instructive case. At the time of Whitlam's election in 1972, Australian intelligence was working with the CIA against the Allende government in Chile. The new PM didn’t simply order a halt to Australia's involvement, explained William Blum in Killing Hope, a masterful study of US interventions since World War II. Whitlam seized intelligence information withheld from him by the Australian Security and Intelligence Organization (ASIO), and disclosed the existence of a joint CIA-ASIO directorate that monitored radio traffic in Asia. He also openly disapproved of US plans to build up the Indian Ocean Island of Diego Garcia as a military-intelligence-nuclear outpost.
     Both the CIA and NSA became concerned about the security and future of crucial intelligence facilities in and near Australia. The country was already key member of UKUSA. After launching its first space-based listening post-a microwave receiver with an antenna pointed at earth-NSA had picked an isolated desert area in central Australia as a ground station. Once completed, the base at Alice Springs was named Pine Gap, the first of many listening posts to be installed around the world. For the NSA and CIA, Whitlam posed a threat to the secrecy and security of such operations.
     An early step was covert funding for the political opposition, in hopes of defeating Whitlam's Labor Party in 1974. When that failed, meetings were held with the Governor-General, Sir John Kerr, a figurehead representing the Queen of England who had worked for CIA front organizations since the 50s. Defense officials warned that intelligence links would be cut off unless someone stopped Whitlam. On November 11, 1975, Kerr responded, dismissing the prime minister, dissolving both houses of Parliament, and appointing an interim government until new elections were held.
     According to Christopher Boyce (subject of The Falcon and the Snowman, a fictionalized account), who watched the process while working for TRW in a CIA-linked cryptographic communications center, the spooks also infiltrated Australian labor unions and contrived to suppress transportation strikes that were holding up deliveries to US intelligence installations. Not coincidentally, some unions were leading the opposition to development of those same facilities.
     How often, and to what effect, such covert ops have succeeded is another of the mysteries that comprise an unwritten history of the last half century. Beyond that, systems like Echelon violate the human right to individual privacy, and give those who control the information the ability to act with impunity, sometimes destroying lives and negating the popular will in the process.
Hiding the Agenda in Peru
In May 1960, when a U-2 spy plane was shot down over Soviet territory, President Dwight Eisenhower took great pains to deny direct knowledge or authorization of the provocative mission. In reality, he personally oversaw every U-2 mission, and had even riskier and more provocative bomber overflights in mind.
     It's a basic rule of thumb for covert ops: When exposed, keep denying and deflect the blame. More important, never, never let on that the mission itself may be a pretext, or a diversion from some other, larger agenda.
     Considering that, the April 20, 2001, shoot down of a plane carrying missionaries across the Brazilian border into Peru becomes highly suspicious. At first, the official story fed to the press was that Peruvian authorities ordered the attack on their own, over the pleas of the CIA "contract pilots" who initially spotted the plane. But Peruvian pilots involved in that program, supposedly designed to intercept drug flights, insist that nothing was shot down without US approval.
     Innocent planes were sometimes attacked, but most were small, low flying aircraft that didn't file flight plans and had no radios. This plane maintained regular contact and did file a plan. Still, even after it crash-landed, the Peruvians continued to strafe it, perhaps in an attempt to ignite the plane's fuel and eliminate the evidence.
     "I think it has to do with Plan Colombia and the coming war," said Celerino Castillo, who had previously worked in Peru for Drug Enforcement Agency. "The CIA was sending a clear message to all non-combatants to clear out of the area, and to get favorable press." The flight was heading to Iquitos, which "is at the heart of everything the CIA is doing right now," he added. "They don't want any witnesses."
     Timing also may have played a part. The shoot down occurred on the opening day of the Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. Uruguay's President Jorge Ibanez, who had proposed the worldwide legalization of drugs just weeks before, was expected to make a high-profile speech on his proposal at the gathering. The downing of a drug smuggling plane at this moment, near territory held by Colombia's FARC rebels, would help to defuse Uruguay's message and reinforce the image of the insurgents as drug smugglers.
     If you doubt that the US would condone such an operation or cover it up, consider this: In 1967, Israel torpedoed the USS Liberty, a large floating listening post, as it was eavesdropping on the Arab-Israeli war off the Sinai Peninsula. Hundreds of US sailors were wounded and killed, probably because Israel feared that its massacre of Egyptian prisoners at El Arish might be overheard. How did the Pentagon respond? By imposing a total news ban, and covering up the facts for decades.
     Will we ever find out what really happened in Peru, specifically why a missionary and her daughter were killed? Not likely, since it involves a private military contractor that is basically beyond the reach of congressional accountability.
     In 2009, when the Peru shoot down became one of five cases of intelligence operation cover up being investigated by the US House Intelligence Committee, the CIA inspector general concluded that the CIA had improperly concealed information about the incident. Intelligence Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairwoman Jan Schakowsky, who led the investigation, didn’t rule out referrals to the Justice Department for criminal prosecutions if evidence surfaced that intelligence officials broke the law. But she couldn’t guarantee that the facts would ever come to light, since the Committee’s report of its investigation would be classified.
     The most crucial wrinkle in the Peruvian incident is the involvement of DynCorp, which was active in Colombia and Bolivia under large contracts with various US agencies. The day after the incident, ABC news reported that, according to “senior administration officials,” the crew of the surveillance plane that first identified the doomed aircraft "was hired by the CIA from DynCorp." Within two days, however, all references to DynCorp were scrubbed from ABC's Website. A week later, the New York Post claimed the crew actually worked for Aviation Development Corp., allegedly a CIA proprietary company.
     Whatever the truth, State Department officials refused to talk on the record about DynCorp's activities in South America. Yet, according to DynCorp's State Department contract, the firm had received at least $600 million over the previous few years for training, drug interdiction, search and rescue (which included combat), air transport of equipment and people, and reconnaissance in the region. And that was only what they put on paper. It also operated government aircraft and provided all manner of personnel, particularly for Plan Colombia.
DynCorp began in 1946 as the employee-owned air cargo business California Eastern Airways, flying in supplies for the Korean War. This and later government work led to charges that it was a CIA front company. Whatever the truth, it ultimately became a leading PMC, hiring former soldiers and police officers to implement US foreign policy without having to report to Congress.
     The push to privatize war gained traction during the first Bush administration. After the first Gulf War, the Pentagon, then headed by Defense Secretary Dick Cheney, paid a Halliburton subsidiary nearly $9 million to study how PMCs could support US soldiers in combat zones, according to a Mother Jones investigation. Cheney subsequently became CEO of Halliburton, and Brown & Root, later known as Halliburton KBR, won billions to construct and run military bases, some in secret locations.
     One of DynCorp’s earliest “police” contracts involved the protection of Haitian President Jean-Bertrand Aristide, and, after he was ousted, providing the “technical advice” that brought military officers involved in that coup into Haiti’s National Police. Despite this dodgy record, in 2002 it won the contract to protect another new president, Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai. By then, it was a top IT federal contractor specializing in computer systems development, and also providing the government with aviation services, general military management, and security expertise.
     Like other private military outfits, the main danger it has faced is the risk of public exposure. Under one contract, for example, DynCorp sprayed vast quantities of herbicides over Colombia to kill the cocaine crop. In September 2001, Ecuadorian Indians filed a class action lawsuit, charging that DynCorp recklessly sprayed their homes and farms, causing illnesses and deaths and destroying crops. In Bosnia, private police provided by DynCorp for the UN were accused of buying and selling prostitutes, including a 12-year-old girl. Others were charged with videotaping a rape.
     In the first years of the 21st century, DynCorp's day-to-day operations in South America were overseen by State Department officials, including the Narcotic Affairs Section and the Air Wing, the latter a clique of unreformed cold warriors and leftovers from 80s operations in Central America. It was essentially the State Department's private air force in the Andes, with access to satellite-based recording and mapping systems.
     In the 1960s, a similar role was played by the Vinnell Corp., which the CIA called "our own private mercenary army in Vietnam." Vinnell later became a subsidiary of TRW, a major NSA contractor, and employed US Special Forces vets to train Saudi Arabia's National Guard. In the late 1990s, TRW hired former NSA director William Studeman to help with its intelligence program.
     DynCorp avoided the kind of public scandal that surrounded the activities of Blackwater. In Ecuador, where it developed military logistics centers and coordinated “anti-terror” police training, the exposure of a secret covenant signed with the Aeronautics Industries Directorate of the Ecuadorian Air Force briefly threatened to make waves. According to a November 2003 exposé in Quito’s El Comercio, the arrangement, hidden from the National Defense Council, made DynCorp’s people part of the US diplomatic mission.
     In Colombia, DynCorp’s coca eradication and search-and-rescue missions led to controversial pitched battles with rebels. US contract pilots flew Black Hawk helicopters carrying Colombian police officers who raked the countryside with machine gun fire to protect the missions against attacks. According to investigative reporter Jason Vest, DynCorp employees were also implicated in narcotics trafficking. But such stories didn’t get far, and, in any case, DynCorp’s “trainers” simply ignored congressional rules, including those that restrict the US from aiding military units linked to human rights abuses.
     In 2003, DynCorp won a multimillion-dollar contract to build a private police force in post-Saddam Iraq, with some of the funding diverted from an anti-drug program for Afghanistan. In 2004, the State Department further expanded DynCorp’s role as a global US surrogate with a $1.75 billion, five year contract to provide law enforcement personnel for civilian policing operations in “post-conflict areas” around the world. That March, the company also got an Army contract to support helicopters sold to foreign countries. The work, described as “turnkey” services, includes program management, logistics support, maintenance and aircrew training, aircraft maintenance and refurbishment, repair and overhaul of aircraft components and engines, airframe and engine upgrades, and the production of technical publications.
     In short, DynCorp was a trusted partner in the military-intelligence-industrial complex. "Are we outsourcing order to avoid public scrutiny, controversy or embarrassment?" asked Rep. Schakowsky upon submitting legislation to prohibit US funding for private military firms in the Andean region. "If there is a potential for a privatized Gulf of Tonkin incident, then the American people deserve to have a full and open debate before this policy goes any further."
     If and when that ever happens, the discussion will have to cover a lot of ground. Private firms, working in concert with various intelligence agencies, constitute a vast foreign policy apparatus that is largely invisible, rarely covered by the corporate press, and not currently subject to congressional oversight. The Freedom of Information Act simply doesn't apply. Any information on whom they arm or how they operate is private, proprietary information.
     The US government downplays its use of mercenaries, a state of affairs that could undermine any efforts to find out about CIA activities that are concealed from Congress. Yet private contractors perform almost every function essential to military operations, a situation that has been called the “creeping privatization of the business of war.” By 2004, the Pentagon was employing more than 700,000 private contractors.
     The companies are staffed by former generals, admirals, and highly trained officers. Name a hot spot and some PMC has people there. DynCorp has worked on the Defense Message System Transition Hub and done long-range planning for the Air Force. MPRI had a similar contract with the Army, and for a time coordinated the Pentagon's military and leadership training in at least seven African nations.
     How did this outsourcing of defense evolve? In 1969, the US Army had about 1.5 million active duty soldiers. By 1992, the figure had been cut by half. Since the mid-1990s, however, the US has mobilized militarily to intervene in several significant conflicts, and a corporate “foreign legion” has filled the gap between foreign policy imperatives and what a downsized, increasingly over-stretched military can provide.
     Use of high technology equipment feeds the process. Private companies have technical capabilities that the military needs, but doesn’t always possess. Contractors have maintained stealth bombers and Predator unmanned drones used in Afghanistan and Iraq. Some military equipment is specifically designed to be operated and maintained by private companies.
     In Britain, the debate over military privatization has been public, since the activities of the UK company Sandline in Sierra Leone and Papua New Guinea embarrassed the government in the late 1990s. But no country has clear policies to regulate PMCs, and the limited oversight that does exist rarely works. In the US, they have largely escaped notice, except when US contract workers in conflict zones are killed or go way over the line, as in the case of Blackwater.
     According to Guy Copeland, who began developing public-private IT policy in the Reagan years, “The private sector must play an integral role in improving our national cybersecurity.” After all, he has noted, private interests own and operate 85 percent of the nation’s critical IT infrastructure. He should know. After all, Copeland drafted much of the language in the Bush Administration’s 2002 National Strategy to Secure Cyberspace as co-chair of the Information Security Committee of the Information Technology Association of America.
     Nevertheless, when the federal government becomes dependent on unaccountable, private companies like DynCorp and Blackwater (later renamed Xe Services) for so many key security services, as well as for military logistics, management, strategy, expertise and “training,” fundamental elements of US defense have been outsourced. And the details of that relationship are matters that the intelligence community will fight long and hard to keep out of public view.
Corporate Connections and "Soft Landings"
Although the various departments and private contractors within the military-intelligence-industrial complex occasionally have turf battles and don't always share information or coordinate strategy as effectively as they might, close and ongoing contact has long been considered essential. And it has expanded as a result of the information revolution. The entire intelligence community has its own secret Intranet, which pulls together FBI reports, NSA intercepts, analysis from the DIA and CIA, and other deeply covert sources.
     Private firms are connected to this information web through staff, location, shared technology, and assorted contracts. Working primarily for the Pentagon, for example, L-3 Communications, a spinoff from major defense contractor Lockheed Martin, has manufactured hardware like control systems for satellites and flight recorders. MPRI, which was bought by L-3, provided services like its operations in Macedonia. L-3 also built the NSA's Secure Terminal Equipment, which instantly encrypts phone conversations.
     Another private contractor active in the Balkans was Science Applications, staffed by former NSA and CIA personnel, and specializing in police training. When Janice Stromsem, a Justice Department employee, complained that its program gave the CIA unfettered access to recruiting agents in foreign police forces, she was relieved of her duties. Her concern was that the sovereignty of nations receiving aid from the US was being compromised.
     In 1999, faced with personnel cuts, the NSA offered over 4000 employees "soft landing" buy outs to help them secure jobs with defense firms that have major NSA contracts. NSA offered to pay the first year's salary, in hopes the contractor would then pick up the tab. Sometimes the employee didn't even have to move away from Crypto City. Companies taking part in the program included TRW and MPRI's parent company, Lockheed Martin.
     Lockheed was also a winner in the long-term effort to privatize government services. In 2000, it won a $43.8 million contract to run the Defense Civilian Personnel Data System, one of the largest human resources systems in the world. As a result, a major defense contractor took charge of consolidating all Department of Defense personnel systems, covering hiring and firing for about 750,000 civilian employees. This put the contractor at the cutting edge of Defense Department planning, and made it a key gatekeeper at the revolving door between the US military and private interests.
Shortly after his appointment as NSA director in 1999, Michael Hayden went to see the film Enemy of the State, in which Will Smith is pursued by an all-seeing, all hearing NSA and former operative Gene Hackman decries the agency's dangerous power. In Body of Secrets, author Bamford says Hayden found the film entertaining, yet offensive and highly inaccurate. Still, the NSA chief was comforted by "a society that makes its bogeymen secrecy and power. That's really what the movie's about.''
     Unlike Hayden, most people don't know where the fiction ends and NSA reality begins. Supposedly, the agency rarely "spies" on US citizens at home. On the other hand, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act allows a secret federal court to waive that limitation. The rest of the world doesn't have that protection. Designating thousands of keywords, names, phrases, and phone numbers, NSA computers can pick them out of millions of messages, passing anything of interest on to analysts. One can only speculate about what happens next.
     After 9/11 the plan was to go further with a project code named Tempest. The goal was to capture computer signals such as keystrokes or monitor images through walls or from other buildings, even if the computers weren't linked to a network. One NSA document, "Compromising Emanations Laboratory Test Requirements, Electromagnetics," described procedures for capturing the radiation emitted from a computer-through radio waves and the telephone, serial, network, or power cables attached to it.
     Other NSA programs have included Oasis, designed to reduce audiovisual images into machine-readable text for easier filtering, and Fluent, which expanded Echelon's multilingual capabilities. And let's not forget the government's Carnivore Internet surveillance program, which can collect all communications over any segment of the network being watched.
     Put such elements together, combine them with business imperatives and covert foreign policy objectives, then throw PMCS into the mix, and you get a glimpse of the extent to which information can be translated into raw power and secretly used to shape events. Although most pieces of the puzzle remain obscure, enough is visible to justify suspicion, outrage, and a campaign to pull away the curtain on this Wizard of Oz. But fighting a force that is largely invisible and unaccountable – and able to eavesdrop on the most private exchanges, that is a daunting task, perhaps even more difficult than confronting the mechanisms of corporate globalization that it protects and promotes.

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Posted on Oct 17, 2013

By Michael T. Klare, TomDispatch

This piece first appeared at TomDispatch. Read Tom Engelhardt’s introduction here.

For years, energy analysts had been anticipating an imminent decline in global oil supplies.  Suddenly, they’re singing a new song: Fossil fuels growing scarce?  Don’t even think about it!  The news couldn’t be better: fossil fuels will become ever more abundant.  And all that talk about climate change?  Don’t worry about it, they chant.  Go out and enjoy the benefits of cheap and plentiful energy forever.

This movement from gloom about our energy future to what can only be called fossil-fuel euphoria may prove to be the hallmark of our peculiar moment.  In a speech this September, for instance, Barry Smitherman,  chairman of the Texas Railroad Commission (that state’s energy regulatory agency), claimed that the Earth possesses a “relatively boundless supply” of oil and natural gas.  Not only that—and you can practically hear the chorus of cheering in Houston and other oil centers—but many of the most exploitable new deposits are located in the U.S. and Canada.  As a result—add a roll of drums and a blaring of trumpets—the expected boost in energy is predicted to provide the United States with a cornucopia of economic and political rewards, including industrial expansion at home and enhanced geopolitical clout abroad.  The country, exulted Karen Moreau of the New York State Petroleum Council, another industry cheerleader, is now in a position “to become a global superpower on energy.”

There are good reasons to be deeply skeptical of such claims, but that hardly matters when they are gaining traction in Washington and on Wall Street.  What we’re seeing is a sea change in elite thinking on the future availability and attractiveness of fossil fuels.  Senior government officials, including President Obama, have already become infected with this euphoria, as have top Wall Street investors—which means it will have a powerful and longlasting, though largely pernicious, effect on the country’s energy policy, industrial development, and foreign relations.

The speed and magnitude of this shift in thinking has been little short of astonishing.  Just a few years ago, we were girding for the imminent prospect of “peak oil,” the point at which daily worldwide output would reach its maximum and begin an irreversible decline.  This, experts assumed, would result in a global energy crisis, sky-high oil prices, and severe disruptions to the world economy.

Today, peak oil seems a distant will-o’-the-wisp.  Experts at the U.S. government’s Energy Information Administration (EIA) confidently project that global oil output will reach 115 million barrels per day by 2040—a stunning 34% increase above the current level of 86 million barrels.  Natural gas production is expected to soar as well, leaping from 113 trillion cubic feet in 2010 to a projected 185 trillion in 2040.

These rosy assessments rest to a surprising extent on a single key assumption: that the United States, until recently a declining energy producer, will experience a sharp increase in output through the exploitation of shale oil and natural gas reserves through hydro-fracking and other technological innovations.  “In a matter of a few years, the trends have reversed,” Moreau declared last February.  “There is a new energy reality of vast domestic resources of oil and natural gas brought about by advancing technology… For the first time in generations, we are able to see that our energy supply is no longer limited, foreign, and finite; it is American and abundant.”

The boost in domestic oil and gas output, it is further claimed, will fuel an industrial renaissance in the United States—with new plants and factories being built to take advantage of abundant local low-cost energy supplies.  “The economic consequences of this supply-and-demand revolution are potentially extraordinary,” asserted Ed Morse, the head of global commodities research at Citigroup in New York.  America’s gross domestic product, he claimed, will grow by 2% to 3% over the next seven years as a result of the energy revolution alone, adding as much as $624 billion to the national economy.  Even greater gains can be made, Morse and others claim, if the U.S. becomes a significant exporter of fossil fuels, particularly in the form of liquefied natural gas (LNG).

Not only will these developments result in added jobs—as many as three million, claims energy analyst Daniel Yergin—but they will also enhance America’s economic status vis-à-vis its competitors.  “U.S. natural gas is abundant and prices are low—a third of their level in Europe and a quarter of that in Japan,” Yergin wrote recently.  “This is boosting energy-intensive manufacturing in the U.S., much to the dismay of competitors in both Europe and Asia.”

This fossil fuel euphoria has even surfaced in statements by President Obama.  For all his talk of climate change perils and the need to invest in renewables, he has also gloated over the jump in domestic energy production and promised to facilitate further increases.  “Last year, American oil production reached its highest level since 2003,” he affirmed in March 2011.  “And for the first time in more than a decade, oil we imported accounted for less than half of the liquid fuel we consumed.  So that was a good trend.  To keep reducing that reliance on imports, my administration is encouraging offshore oil exploration and production.”

Money Pouring into Fossil Fuels

This burst of euphoria about fossil fuels and America’s energy future is guaranteed to have a disastrous impact on the planet.  In the long term, it will make Earth a hotter, far more extreme place to live by vastly increasing carbon emissions and diverting investment funds from renewables and green energy to new fossil fuel projects.  For all the excitement these endeavors may be generating, it hardly takes a genius to see that they mean ever more carbon dioxide heading into the atmosphere and an ever less hospitable planet.

The preference for fossil fuel investments is easy to spot in the industry’s trade journals, as well as in recent statistical data and anecdotal reports of all sorts.  According to the reliable International Energy Agency (IEA), private and public investment in fossil fuel projects over the next quarter century will outpace investment in renewable energy by a ratio of three to one.  In other words, for every dollar spent on new wind farms, solar arrays, and tidal power research, three dollars will go into the development of new oil fields, shale gas operations, and coal mines.

From industry sources it’s clear that big-money investors are rushing to take advantage of the current boom in unconventional energy output in the U.S.—the climate be damned.  “The dollars needed [to develop such projects] have never been larger,” commented Maynard Holt, co-president of Houston-based investment bank Tudor, Pickering, Holt & Company.  “But the money is truly out there.  The global energy capital river is flowing our way.”

In the either/or equation that seems to be our energy future, the capital river is rushing into the exploitation of unconventional fossil fuels, while it’s slowing to a trickle in the world of the true unconventionals—the energy sources that don’t add carbon to the atmosphere. This, indeed, was the conclusion reached by the IEA, which in 2012 warned that the seemingly inexorable growth in greenhouse gas emissions of carbon dioxide is likely to eliminate all prospect of averting the worst effects of climate change.

Petro Machismo

The new energy euphoria is also fueling a growing sense that the American superpower, whose influence has recently seemed to be on the wane, may soon acquire fresh geopolitical clout through its mastery of the latest energy technologies.  “America’s new energy posture allows us to engage from a position of greater strength,” crowed National Security Adviser Tom Donilon in an April address at Columbia University.  Increased domestic energy output, he explained, will help reduce U.S. vulnerability to global supply disruptions and price hikes.  “It also affords us a stronger hand in pursuing and implementing our international security goals.”

A new elite consensus is forming around the strategic advantages of expanded oil and gas production.  In particular, this outlook holds that the U.S. is benefiting from substantially reduced oil imports from the Middle East by eliminating a dependency that has led to several disastrous interventions in that region and exposed the country to periodic disruptions in oil deliveries, starting with the Arab oil embargo of 1973-74.  “The shift in oil sources means the global supply system will become more resilient, our energy supplies will become more secure, and the nation will have more flexibility in dealing with crises,” Yergin wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

This turnaround, he and other experts claim, is what allowed Washington to adopt a tougher stance with Tehran in negotiations over Iran’s nuclear enrichment program.  With the U.S. less dependent on Middle Eastern oil, so goes the argument, American leaders need not fear Iranian threats to disrupt the flow of oil through the Persian Gulf to international markets.  “The substantial increase in oil production in the United States,” Donilon declared in April, is what allowed Washington to impose tough sanctions on Iranian oil “while minimizing the burdens on the rest of the world.” 

A stance of what could be called petro machismo is growing in Washington, underlying such initiatives as the president’s widely ballyhooed policy announcement of a “pivot” from the Middle East to Asia (still largely words backed by only the most modest of actions) and efforts to constrain Russia’s international influence. 

Ever since Vladimir Putin assumed the presidency of that country, Moscow has sought to sway the behavior of its former Warsaw Pact allies and the former republics of the Soviet Union by exploiting its dominant energy role in the region.  It offered cheap natural gas to governments willing to follow its policy dictates, while threatening to cut off supplies to those that weren’t.  Now, some American strategists hope to reduce Russia’s clout by helping friendly nations like Poland and the Baltic states develop their own shale gas reserves and build LNG terminals.  These would allow them to import gas from “friendly” states, including the U.S. (once its LNG export capacities are expanded).  “If we can export some natural gas to Europe and to Japan and other Asian nations,” Karen Moreau suggested in February, “we strengthen our relationships and influence in those places—and perhaps reduce the influence of other producers such as Russia.”

The crucial issue is this: if American elites continue to believe that increased oil and gas production will provide the U.S. with a strategic advantage, Washington will be tempted to exercise a “stronger hand” when pursuing its “international security goals.”  The result will undoubtedly be heightened international friction and discord.

Is the Euphoria Justified?

There is no doubt that the present fossil fuel euphoria will lead in troubling directions, even if the rosy predictions of rising energy output are, in the long run, likely to prove both unreliable and unrealistic.  The petro machismo types make several interconnected claims:

* The world’s fossil fuel reserves are vast, especially when “unconventional” sources of fuel—Canadian tar sands, shale gas, and the like—are included.

* The utilization of advanced technologies, especially fracking, will permit the effective exploitation of a significant share of these untapped reserves (assuming that governments don’t restrict fracking and other controversial drilling activities).

* Fossil fuels will continue to supply an enormous share of global energy requirements for the foreseeable future, even given rising world temperatures, growing public opposition, and other challenges.

Each of these assertions is packed with unacknowledged questions and improbabilities that are impossible to explore thoroughly in an article of this length.  But here are some major areas of doubt. 

To begin with, those virtually “boundless” untapped oil reserves have yet to be systematically explored, meaning that it’s impossible to know if they do, in fact, contain commercially significant reserves of oil and gas.  To offer an apt example, the U.S. Geological Survey, in one of the most widely cited estimates of untapped energy reserves, has reported that approximately 13% of the world’s undiscovered oil reserves and 30% percent of its natural gas lie above the Arctic Circle.  But this assessment is based on geological analyses of rock samples, not exploratory drilling.  Whether the area actually holds such large reserves will not be known until widespread drilling has occurred.  So far, initial Arctic drilling operations, like those off Greenland, have generally proved disappointing.

Similarly, the Energy Information Administration has reported that China possesses vast shale formations that could harbor substantial reserves of oil and gas.  According to a 2013 EIA survey, that country’s technically recoverable shale gas reserves are estimated at 1,275 trillion cubic feet, more than twice the figure for the United States.  Once again, however, the real extent of those reserves won’t be known without extensive drilling, which is only in its beginning stages.

To say, then, that global reserves are “boundless” is to disguise all the hypotheticals lurking within that description.  Reality may fall far short of industry claims.

The effectiveness of new technologies in exploiting such problematic reserves is also open to question.  True, fracking and other unconventional technologies have already substantially increased the production of hard-to-exploit fuels, including tar sands, shale gas, and deep-sea reserves.  Many experts predict that such gains are likely to be repeated in the future.  The EIA, for example, suggests that U.S. output of shale oil via fracking will jump by 221% over the next 15 years, and natural gas by 164%.  The big question, however, is whether these projected increases will actually come to fruition.  While early gains are likely, the odds are that future growth will come at a far slower pace.

As a start, the most lucrative U.S. shale formations in Arkansas, Pennsylvania, North Dakota, and Texas have already experienced substantial exploration and many of the most attractive drilling sites (or “plays”) are now fully developed.  More fracking, no doubt, will release additional oil and gas, but the record shows that fossil-fuel output tends to decline once the earliest, most promising reservoirs are exploited.  In fact, notes energy analyst Art Berman, “several of the more mature shale gas plays are either in decline or appear to be approaching peak production.”

Doubts are also multiplying over the potential for exploiting shale reserves in other parts of the world.  Preliminary drilling suggests that many of the shale formations in Europe and China possess fewer hydrocarbons and will be harder to develop than those now being exploited in this country. In Poland, for example, efforts to extract domestic shale reserves have been stymied by disappointing drilling efforts and the subsequent departure of major foreign firms, including Exxon Mobil and Marathon Oil.

Finally, there is a crucial but difficult to assess factor in the future energy equation: the degree to which energy companies and energy states will run into resistance when exploiting ever more remote (and environmentally sensitive) resource zones.  No one yet knows how much energy industry efforts may be constrained by the growing opposition of local residents, scientists, environmentalists, and others who worry about the environmental degradation caused by unconventional energy extraction and the climate consequences of rising fossil fuel combustion.  Despite industry claims that fracking, tar sands production, and Arctic drilling can be performed without endangering local residents, harming the environment, or wrecking the planet, ever more people are coming to the opposite conclusion—and beginning to take steps to protect their perceived interests.

In New York State, for example, a fervent anti-fracking oppositional movement has prevented government officials from allowing such activities to begin in the rich Marcellus shale formation, one of the largest in the world.  Although Albany may, in time, allow limited fracking operations there, it is unlikely to permit large-scale drilling throughout the state.  Similarly, an impressive opposition in British Columbia to the proposed Northern Gateway tar sands pipeline, especially by the native peoples of the region, has put that project on indefinite hold.  And growing popular opposition to fracking in Europe is making itself felt across the region.  The European Parliament, for example, recently imposed tough environmental constraints on the practice.

As heat waves and extreme storm activity increase, so will concern over climate change and opposition to wholesale fossil fuel extraction.  The IEA warned of this possibility in the 2012 edition of its World Energy Outlook.  Shale gas and other unconventional forms of natural gas are predicted to provide nearly half the net gain in world gas output over the next 25 years, the report noted.  “There are,” it added, “also concerns about the environmental impact of producing unconventional gas that, if not properly addressed, could halt the unconventional gas revolution in its tracks.”

Reaction to that IEA report last November was revealing.  Its release prompted a mini-wave of ecstatic commentary in the American media about its prediction that, thanks to the explosion in unconventional energy output, this country would soon overtake Saudi Arabia as the world’s leading oil producer.  In fact, the fossil fuel craze can be said to have started with this claim.  None of the hundreds of articles and editorials written on the subject, however, bothered to discuss the caveats the report offered or its warnings of planetary catastrophe. 

As is so often the case with mass delusions, those caught up in fossil fuel mania have not bothered to think through the grim realities involved.  While industry bigwigs may continue to remain on an energy high, the rest of us will not be so lucky.  The accelerated production and combustion of fossil fuels can have only one outcome: a severely imperiled planet.

Michael T. Klare is a professor of peace and conflict studies at Hampshire College and the author, most recently, of The Race for What’s Left (Picador).  A documentary movie version of his book Blood and Oil is available from the Media Education Foundation.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook or Tumblr. Check out the newest Dispatch book, Nick Turse’s The Changing Face of Empire: Special Ops, Drones, Proxy Fighters, Secret Bases, and Cyberwarfare.

Copyright 2013 Michael T. Klare

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Countercurrents 26/8/2013

And here we go again. In Syria, things were getting desperate for Washington. It needed a major made-for-TV, cross-the-red-line incident involving chemical weapons. Unsurprisingly, by hook or by crook – probably crook (1) – it got it. The BBC, British Foreign Secretary William Hague and a multitude of other media outlets and politicians now clamour, or at least strongly imply the need, for direct military action to bolster the illegal ‘indirect’ military intervention from the West and its allies that has already been taking place for a long time.


The story being peddled goes that the (axis of) evil Syrian regime has used a ‘weapon of mass destruction’ to help win a war it was already winning, thereby incurring the wrath of the US. Strange logic indeed.


It’s a case of déjà vu. British MP George Galloway in front of a US senate hearing back in 2005 exposed the ‘pack of lies’ that the US-led invasion of Iraq was built on. Similar forms of deceit have been the foundations for shaping public opinion regarding attacking LibyaAfghanistanPakistan and numerous other countries. The presence of WMDs was used to justify attacking Iraq, while ‘humanitarianism’ or ‘fighting terror’ was the excuse used elsewhere.


But what is it about the term ‘weapons of mass destruction’ that provokes a knee jerk reaction from media people and politicians who foam with rage and let seep from their mouths high minded platitudes about morality?


“Morality is simply the attitude we adopt towards people we personally dislike.” Oscar Wilde in ‘An Ideal Husband’.

If in the above quote from Wilde, we replace ‘people’ with ‘regimes’, we may appreciate the nature of the West playing fast and lose with its notions of morality. Supply arms, including chemical weapons, to dictatorial regimes throughout West Asia with atrocious human rights records because, notwithstanding the fact it is great business, they are ‘good friends of ours’ (to coin a highly apt mafia term).  Yes, all friends and good ones at that, as long as they remain loyal to the  ‘Project for the New American Century’ (2).


The PNAC, or the project for world domination, is partly built on gullible, easily led public opinion, which is (often) fanned by the emotionally laden letters ‘W-M-D’. A Pavlov’s dog public and media, which respond on cue to the moralistic bleatings of condescending criminals that masquerade as respectable politicians and who rely on the public’s ignorance to fuel their barbarity in the name of ‘protecting civilians’ from an impending bloodbath, while going on to cause one in Libya, to ‘defeat terror’, while funding it in Syria, or to ‘support democracy’, while undermining it in Egypt.


These politicians and much of the mainstream media confine the narrative about WMD to a military battlefield, or a threat of outright violent destruction. The term is never to be associated with the US dropping atom bombs on Japan, the West using mini-nukes in the form of depleted uranium or the use of white phosphorous to kill and maim (3). From the cancers caused to the environmental contamination, where is Hague’s, the BBC’s or any other number of media outlets’ moral indignation about this type of mass destruction?


Where too is their condemnation of treacherous economic, trade, food or agriculture policies that blight hundreds of millions across the globe? Where is their condemnation over the criminal manipulation of currency markets, commodities, interest rates and derivatives, or the neo-liberalism and the corporate-financial cartels that conspire to shape trade via the WTO, IMF or the World Bank (4,5,6,7,8)?


That’s right, condemnation of these economic and political weapons of mass destruction and suffering are nowhere to be seen or heard simply because such political figures and media institutions with their skin-deep morality are in place merely to serve the interests of fraudulent capital and its fraudulent policies.


This type of mass destruction and mass misery does not involve headline-grabbing, eye-catching episodes of carnage and death. This violence is structural in form, is arguably ultimately just as destructive and is ongoing and all pervasive (9). In Western countries, this is disguised as a need for ‘austerity’. In poorer countries, it is called ‘development’.


Under the ‘structural adjustment’ policies imposed on poor countries, it has become a case of export or be damned, embrace corporate agriculture or be damned, borrow and build dams or be damned. And, in the process, elites – both foreign and indigenous – prosper, while the people and the environment end up being damned anyhow (10). It’s almost becoming a cliché to mention the hundreds of thousands of farmers in India who ‘embraced’ it all and died. It’s no cliché though, it happened.


It’s no cliché that the petrochemical-backed, corporate-driven ‘Green Revolution’ is raping the environment (11). It’s no cliché to say that genetic engineering is a highly financially lucrative ‘experiment’ that is jeopardising our health and the future of humanity (12). Neither is it a cliché that millions, from Egypt to the US, are bearing the brunt of economic policies that result in misery for the many and record profits for the few.


Perhaps we should look at Hague and his ilk and assess whether they actually do care about the plight of ordinary folk in the manner they claim to. Do they really care about the plight of Syrians? Perhaps we might care to ponder that they clearly do not, given the back door deals and wars they have sanctioned for the benefit of powerful corporations (13,14).


Why should they care so much about people in far off places when they show little for those in their own countries? The post-war Keynesian consensus has been gradually dismantled, leading to the offshoring of much of their own economies and leaving millions in debt, in poverty, thrown onto the scrapheap or used as fodder to fight wars for the rich under the banner of ‘humanitarianism’ or ‘protecting our freedoms’. And, as far as ‘protecting our freedom’ is concerned, look to Edward Snowden and especially Hague’s squirming reaction to the revelations to see how hollow this rings.    


Moral outrage within certain influential quarters about the latest happenings in Syria might be enough to fool some of the public, but let the record show that this fake outrage runs skin deep and is extremely selective.

Notes

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Global Research and Countercurrents 12/6/2013 and The 4th Media 21/6/2013

In the name of ‘humanitarian intervention’, a ‘war on terror’, fighting for ‘democratic freedoms’ or whatever the script happens to be this week, British Foreign Secretary William Hague can be relied on to sell US-British militarism to a public fed up with constant wars and (increasingly less) ignorant of their underlying reasons (1).    

In Syria, Hague has worked to try to replace Assad with a regime that could be controlled by the US and Israel. He has also campaigned for the EU to lift its arms embargo from the anti-Assad militants. Hague is a staunch supporter of Israel. His attitude towards Israel has been well documented: his dislike of the Syrian regime is backed up by a tangible strategy of aggression and destabilization, while mere lip service is paid to the protecting Palestinians or their treatment and plight (2). This is the same William Hague who declared that the intention was not regime change in Libya, but to protect civilians. The US and its allies, including Britain, helped instigate and fuel the war in Libya (3), and NATO bombs and western supported regime change have subsequently left over 100,000 Libyans dead, thousands more injured and much civilian infrastructure destroyed. 


During the Libyan conflict, 200 prominent African figures accused western nations of “subverting international law” in Libya. The UN had been misused to militarise policy, legalise military action and effect regime change, according to University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg. He stated that it was unprecedented for the UN to have outsourced military action to NATO in this way and challenged the International Criminal Court to investigate NATO for “violating international law.” 


Rather than being held to account for the death and destruction in Libya, Hague has carried on where he left off with strong rhetoric directed towards Iran and a call for sanctions (4) and a concerted commitment to topple the Syrian government by force (5) (6) (7). For public consumption, this is all spuriously carried out under the banner of humanitarianism or in the name of global security.


As a client state of the US (mainstream British media often portray this as a ‘special relationship), Britain can be relied on to do Washington’s bidding. When Hague beats the drum over LibyaAfghanistanSyria or Iran, the drum is provided courtesy of Washington and Tel Aviv. Foreign Secretary Hague beats it on cue. 


It all begs the question, how much trust can we place in someone like Hague, especially when they try to reassure the British public that British intelligence services do not illegally snoop on the British population?  


Documents leaked by former US intelligence worker Edward Snowden suggest GCHQ, the British Government’s ‘listening post’ in CheltenhamEngland (equivalent to the US National Security Agency), may have had access to the US spy programme PRISM since at least June 2010.


Hague has told the British parliament that British spies have not used US surveillance programmes to get around laws restricting their ability to eavesdrop on the public in Britain. He has said that there is no indiscriminate trawling for information through the contents of people's communications and GCHQ operates within a strict legal framework.


Hague has stated: "It has been suggested that GCHQ uses our partnership with the United States to get around UK law, obtaining information that they cannot legally obtain in the United Kingdom… I wish to be absolutely clear that this accusation is baseless."

Every time GCHQ wants to intercept an individual's communications, Hague asserts that the agency must seek a warrant signed by him, the interior minister or another secretary of state. He asserts that every decision is based on extensive legal and policy advice and warrants are legally required to be necessary, proportionate and carefully targeted.


The UK's 2001 Regulation of Investigatory Powers Act (RIPA) permits international agreements that allow "mutual assistance in connection with, or in the form of, interception of communication," providing the foreign secretary has given his authority. It also allows for the interception of the content of both domestic communications and communications between the UK and elsewhere, provided a warrant has been signed, usually by a minister.


The 1994 Intelligence Services Act gives senior ministers the power to "disapply" UK law when granting written permission. This legislation ensures that no UK intelligence agency or officer is likely to be sued or prosecuted in Britain as a result of any mass surveillance operation.


In the US, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) gives US intelligence agencies wide-ranging powers to conduct surveillance of data that is held by or passes through the US: it provides for the gathering of information that may not only protect the US against hostile acts but which "is necessary to … the conduct of the foreign affairs of the United States.”


The US government can therefore basically do what it deems necessary to maintain its global hegemony. It has access to huge amounts of global data thanks to the numerous sophisticated ‘listening posts’ the US has on foreign soil. The NSA's largest eavesdropping centre outside the US is based in North Yorkshire. It is a satellite receiving station that monitors foreign military traffic, but can also access Britain's telecommunications network. The US military refer to the ‘golf ball’ encased satellite systems there as helping to secure full spectrum dominance of land, sea, air, space and information. Writer Garbrielle Pickard believes its presence entails the US having full spectrum control over the UK (8).


Given that the US thus has access to so much data beyond its national borders, it is easy to see just why the issue of the British government circumventing British law to access information held by the US on British citizens is of vital concern to the public. Even more so given Hague argues that the growing and diffuse nature of threats from terrorists, criminals or espionage has only increased the importance of Britain’s intelligence relationship with the United States.


In a more general sense, the underlying message being put forward by officialdom is that ‘no one has anything to fear as long as you are not terrorists or some other threat to national interest.’ In an age of perceived terror threats and subsequent clampdowns on civil liberties as a result of the illegal wars and covert and overt interventions abroad that politicians like Hague attempt to justify on fallacious grounds, just who does that rule out? The ‘terror threat’ and vague notions of the ‘national interest’ are highly convenient reasons for including anyone or everyone in the surveillance net.


What about Muslims, dissidents, civil-liberties types, ‘trouble-makers’, environmental campaigners, 'occupy' individuals, ‘lefties’, trade unionists, human rights activists or particular writers, bloggers and journalists? Surveillance and the infiltration of groups deemed ‘subversive’ (but working well within the law and an integral part of plural democracy) have been carried out by the intelligence services for many decades (9). In pointing out some of these types of activities, Annie Machon in The Guardian notes that real democracies don’t infiltrate legitimate protest groups. But, as she notes, in Britain they do (10).


A key element here is that of trust. Do we trust what politicians like Hague say or do? Do we trust our governments? Should we trust Google, Facebook and any other company that stores our personal details (11)?


NSA whitleblower Edward Snowden apparently thinks we should not. He wanted to expose the “omniscient state powers kept in check by nothing more than policy documents.” Dennis Mitchell, a senior GCHQ officer, who retired in 1984 in protest at the Thatcher government's ban on trade unions there, referred to "actions which I believe would be considered unacceptable by the general public were it aware of them". He described GCHQ as a powerful, unaccountable arm of government. According to him, the only real watchdog at that time was the workforce, not the law.



Perhaps Snowden or Mitchell might agree to some extent with Michael Foucault’s premise that society now resembles a bright modern prison. Foucault warned that the bright visibility is a trap (12). Increasing visibility (on Facebook, Twitter, Google, etc) leads to power being located on an individualised level throughout a person's entire life. Foucault suggested that a ‘carceral continuum’ runs through modern society, from the maximum security prison, through secure accommodation, probation, social workers, police and teachers, to our everyday working and domestic lives. In this digital age, now more than ever before.


Under the guise of fighting the so-called ‘war on terror’, combating weapons proliferation and gathering economic intelligence, institutions such as GCHQ and the NSA are, in reality, operating a highly intrusive Big Brother Police State Surveillance Empire that is being used to specifically monitor the activities of genuine political opposition and dissent, as well as undermine the privacy, freedom and constitutional civil liberties of targeted peoples and nations throughout the world… Identification technologies such as video surveillance, biometrics and national ID cards will undoubtedly find their way into the sprawling informational GCHQ/NSA vortex, eventually rendering all personal, communal, commercial, economic, and political control to the State - a system of absolute tyranny that can only be labeled as ‘global slavery’.” Steve Jones (13).


Notes





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Global Research and Countercurrents 6/6/2013 and The 4th Media 7/6/2013

Many of us have a vision, an alternative vision to the tyranny of those who control the world. But we are ridiculed, dismissed, put on trial (Manning), confined to a small embassy in London for months on end (Assange), called unrealistic or subversive and told to 'get real'. Are we destined to be the 'I told you so bunch'? 

The current wholly corrupt system is edging humanity towards the precipice of oblivion. When that happens, we (if we are still alive - if anything is still alive, apart from cockroaches) will say 'we told you so'. If there is to be any hope, if there is to be anything better, we must remain 'unreal' and true to our beliefs.  


Some like to believe that the meek (or gentle) shall inherit the earth. But it is popularly suggested that cockroaches may well do so if or when humanity destroys itself through nuclear war (or depleted uranium radiation). Cockroaches have a much higher radiation resistance than vertebrates, with the lethal dose perhaps six to 15 times that for humans.  


Cockroaches are regarded as pests. They feed on human food, and can leave an offensive odor. They can also passively transport microbes on their body surfaces, including those that are potentially dangerous to humans. Cockroaches have been shown to be linked with allergic reactions in humans, including asthma. 


It begs the question: is there much difference between the people that currently run the world and the cockroach? Both are pests, both feed off humanity, both cause disease and suffering. And both can end up sucking the oxygen from our lungs. The only difference is that there is no malicious intent on the part of the insect variety - it’s just the way they are. And the impact of the cockroach is minimal by comparison.  


The same may not be said of the human variety that has instituted a corrupt system of ‘globalisation’. This system of US-led imperialism benefits state-corporate interests who have been able to manipulate the international system of trade and finance in their favour to shift capital around the globe at ease. Supported by militarism and secular theology masquerading as neo-liberal economic theory, the result has been big profits and environmental degradation, easy money and cheap labour, private gain and public havoc.


The food and pharmaceuticals/healthcare industries work hand in glove to sicken and treat us; ‘big oil’ works with agribusiness to impose a system of big-dam, water intensive chemical-industrial at the expense of environmental sustainability; from Syria to Pakistan, US militarism is implemented under on behalf of powerful corporations under the lie of ‘humanitarianism’ or the ‘war on terror’; and the profiteering nuclear energy and resource extraction industries are destroying democracy, robbing people of their land and putting environments in jeopardy in places like India, where a nation’s poorest people are considered ‘surplus to requirements’, an inconvenient truth, and are beaten, raped and disposed of because they are a barrier to corporate ‘progress’ - profit and greed.


Whole populations are lied to and deceived on behalf of rich corporate interests that have succeeded in hijacking the machineries of state and media for commercial gain. Democracy is corrupted, local economies are destroyed, debt and dependency is used to assert control, science is pressed into the service of a worldwide arms industry and fraudulent corporate activities and there is endless conflict over finite resources. 


The current system is ecologically destructive and relies on perpetual war and conflict. It is both socially divisive and unsustainable and is tied to an image of the world laid down by corrupt transnational corporations and translated into policy by the IMF, WTO, World Bank and national governments. 


Projects like Navdanya in India that seek to take the control of food and agriculture back from agribusiness, or the finer elements of successful policies in places like Cuba or Venezuela, are just some of the many examples from across the world that indicate how we could address the problems we currently face. 

However, from Goldman Sachs, Bank of America and General Electric to Shell, Monsanto and others, there are those who seek to maintain the current system at all costs. We don't need them, but they will be difficult to get rid of. 

“Some cockroaches have been known to live up to three months without food and a month without water. They are even resilient enough to survive occasional freezing temperatures. This makes them difficult to eradicate once they have infested an area.” – Wikipedia
These cockroaches - the financiers, industrialists and corporate funded politicians, despise transparency - dislike democracy and hate anyone trying to hold them to genuine account. These are the criminals who have quite literally got away with murder with their illegal wars, indiscriminate use of drone attacks and exploitative economic policies.

It is the likes of Bush, Blair, Obama, Cheney, Rice and their profiteering arms dealing cronies, private ‘security’ contractors and corporate billionaire puppet masters who should be standing in the dock, not the likes of Manning or Assange. They should be made to pay for the millions of deaths they have caused.

“It (the Nuremberg tribunal) defines aggression as the supreme international crime, differing from other war crimes, and it encompasses all of the evil that follows. The US and British invasion of Iraq was a textbook example of aggression, which means that we were responsible for all the evil that followed. Serious conflict arose. It spread all over the region. In fact the region is being torn to shreds by this conflict. That’s part of the evil that follows…Take a look at the International criminal court (ICC) – black Africans or other people the West doesn’t like. Bush and Blair ought to be up there. There is no recent crime worse than the invasion of Iraq. Obama’s got to be there for the terror war... it’s just murder on executive whim” Noam Chomsky (1)
However, to achieve what Chomsky advocates would entail the victims of such crimes being made to sit in judgement over the perpetrators. The International Criminal Court, a criminal court in the starkest sense of the term, is based on the opposite principle. And that’s the reason for its existence.

Come to think of it, to call these perpetrators human cockroaches does our insect friends a gross disservice.


Note:




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