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UK lobbying EU to allow new GM crops despite public skepticism

The UK is stepping up its campaign to bring large-scale farming of genetically-modified crops into Europe, with Environment Secretary Owen Paterson expected to become...

Ukraine Factions Vie for Lobbying Edge

Exclusive: Though many Ukrainians live in poverty, government officials and oligarchs lavish millions on Washington insiders to buy influence, another example...

UK Tory MP pulled into lobbying scandal

A British Conservative MP has become the latest politician to be drawn into a lobbying scandal, after he was recorded claiming to have coached...

UK parliament hit by lobbying scandal

The Indian ExpressJune 2, 2013 Britain’s cash-for-questions row on Sunday got murkier as it claimed the...

UK Lord embroiled in lobbying scandal

Lord Laird (L), an Ulster Unionist peer and former MP in seen here in a news programme with the BBC.A member of the UKâ„¢s...

Brexit ‘uncertainty’ to hurt UK financial industry: Top lobby

A top British lobbying firm says the uncertainties that surround Brexit would hurt the country's financial industry if wrong policies are undertaken. Read more

Europe could tempt N. Ireland to leave UK in exchange for EU membership

Top European Union leaders are expected to offer full EU membership to Northern Ireland on...

LGBT rights group wants UK passports to include gender neutral ‘X’

British passports should allow people who do not identify as male or female to define themselves as gender neutral ‘X,’ an LGBT rights group...

Blood money: UK MPs took 53 ‘despot-funded’ trips in 2016

British MPs took 53 trips funded by oppressive regimes last year at a cost of...

UK govt to utilize Trump’s ‘instincts,’ openness to ‘outside influence’ – leaked memo

A leaked telegram by the British ambassador, sent to Whitehall just hours after Donald Trump’s victory, suggested that his openness to “outside influence” be...

Exposed: Coca-Cola’s Evil Lobbying Campaign

A treasure trove of emails released by hactivist site DC Leaks reveals that corporate giant Coca-Cola has launched a worldwide campaign to stop the...

Britain bankrolling Syrian opposition’s lobbying efforts in US – report

Britain has spent more than £1 million ($1.4 million) funding the Syrian opposition’s lobbying efforts...

Tangled web: Trump's campaign chief worked in Ukraine for Clinton associates

While Donald Trump’s campaign chair Paul Manafort worked for Ukraine’s former government, he funnelled some $2.2...

Ukraine’s ‘October Surprise’

When a Russian FSB agent and a Russian soldier were killed by a team of Ukrainian saboteurs, and one of the captured...

‘These Agreements Depend on Secrecy in Order to Pass’ – CounterSpin interviews with Lori...

The July 22, 2016, episode of CounterSpin brought together three classic interviews on corporate trade pacts. This is a lightly edited transcript. ...

Regime change? UK denies join-US plot to unseat South African President Jacob Zuma

Britain has denied it wants to overthrow South African President Jacob Zuma, following claims by...

UN-brokered Libyan PM wants UN arms embargo dropped amid UK troop row

Amid rumors of a 1,000-strong UK deployment, Libya’s new leader Fayez al-Sarraj has called on...

Convenient truths? UK govt lambasts Egypt, Iran over death penalty but virtually silent on...

Britain’s Foreign Office (FCO) has lambasted Bahrain, China, Egypt, Iran and Saudi Arabia over their...

What Is Shadow Lobbying? How Influence Peddlers Shape Policy in the Dark

A shadow lobbyist is a person who performs advocacy to influence public policy, like meeting legislators or their staff, without registering as...

Royal privilege: UK govt wins legal battle to keep talks between Prince Charles &...

The UK government has won the right to withhold information on secret talks between Prince...

Big Energy rips off UK households £1.7bn per year – competition watchdog

Fuel poverty campaigners have slammed the competition watchdog for suggesting customers “switch provider” in order...

UK energy firms rake in profits as “fuel poverty” escalates

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Emily Wilson and Robert Stevens British Gas, the UK’s largest domestic energy...
Meet the corporations lobbying the EU on TTIP

Meet the corporations lobbying the hardest for TTIP and ending democracy

It is quite incredible that the unelected bureaucrats of the EU Commission are even entertaining such an idea as the deeply unpopular TTIP trade...

Dwindling UK sovereignty may push attorney general to back Brexit

Britain’s Attorney General Jeremy Wright may vote for a Brexit amid mounting concern that European courts are whittling away the UK’s sovereignty, it has...

The Unreality of the Iran-Nuke Fight

Israel is throwing the full weight of its U.S. lobby to crush the Iran nuclear agreement, but there are other factors adding momentum to...

UK Election Aftermath: Cameron to Continue Waging War on Working People 

Today in the UK, people are waking up to their first week of a five-year rule under a Conservative majority government. It’s been the...

Clinton Foundation’s Deep Financial Ties to Ukrainian Oligarch Who Pushed for Closer Ties to...

http://libertyblitzkrieg.com/2015/03/20/clinton-foundations-deep-financial-ties-to-ukrainian-oligarch-who-pushed-for-closer-ties-to-eu-revealed/#more-22345 By Michael Krieger of Liberty Blitzkrieg blog | Posted Friday Mar 20, 2015 at 1:12 pm, reposted here now by Eric Zuesse Between 2009 and 2013, including when...

Ukraine’s Creditors Grab for the Biggest Pieces of Its Carcass

Eric Zuesse The lifelong Russia-enemy George Soros, and the Russian Government itself, are now openly fighting over which parts of the Ukrainian Government they’ll be...

Contaminating the Nation’s Food: GM Food on the Shelves of UK supermarkets

Colin Todhunter From the US to India, the GMO biotech industry appears to have a ‘contaminate first then push for regulatory authorisation later’ policy. The...

UK GMO lobby wants “genome edited” products to escape GMO regulation and labelling

Parts of the UK scientific establishment are attempting to overturn existing GMO regulations and deceive consumers, writes Claire Robinson There's a massive lobbying effort in...

Hypocrite Cameron blasted for courting tycoons, despite anti-lobbying bill

Top Tory politicians including Prime Minister David Cameron dined with billionaire donors, including big landowners, at a dinner that cost around £1,000 per head. According...

Lord Blencathra is ordered to apologise for signing lobbying contract with tax haven

Melanie Newman Conservative peer Lord Blencathra — formerly known as David Maclean — has been ordered to apologise to the House of Lords for signing a contract...

The Folly of Playing High-Stakes Poker with Vladimir Putin: More to Lose than Gain...

Johanna C. Granville RINF Alternative News In the weeks following the Russian annexation of the Crimean Peninsula, both the United States and European Union have issued...

Why Europe Shies from Ukraine Showdown

Andrés Cala  RINF Alternative News  The crisis over Ukraine and Crimea threatens to touch off a new version of the Cold War’s “mutual assured destruction” — or...

Oligarchs to the fore once again in Ukraine

Julie Hyland  RINF Alternative News The composition of the newly installed Ukrainian government is a devastating indictment of claims that the country has undergone a “democratic”...

Fast and Furious UK-Style: Britain’s Gun-running to East Africa, Somali Pirates

In the US, we're used to seeing the alphabet soup agencies involved in trafficking arms, and as long as the government are doing...

A Tale of Two Protests: The Ukraine and Thailand

When is a protest good, just, progressive, and defensible? One might think there was a single answer to this question based on an objective...

Iran Nukes Talks Make Progress Despite Israeli Objections

Mohammed Javad Zarif, Iranian Minister for Foreign Affairs (centre), gets out of a car at the Geneva talks. (Credit: Courtesy of the European Commission)GENEVA...

UK Prime Minister Covers Up Crimes Against Humanity — Lectures Sri Lanka on Crimes...

“Hypocrisy, the most protected of vices.” Moliere (Jean-Baptiste Poquelin, 1622-1673.) Last week a little more was learned as to the circumventions in Whitehall and...

Biggest GOP donor: US should nuke Iran

The biggest donor to the US Republican party has said the United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran before beginning negotiations with...

Biggest GOP donor: US should nuke Iran

The biggest donor to the US Republican party has said the United States should drop a nuclear bomb on Iran before beginning negotiations with...

Lessons from the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident

This week Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen participated in two panel discussions in Boston and New York City entitled “The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Accident:...

UK Labour chief sacks frontbencher

The head of Britain™s main opposition Labour Party has fired one of the most left-wing members of his team in a shock reshuffle of...

UK Labour backs further from Syria war

Amid lobbying to repeat a British parliamentary vote on military intervention in Syria, opposition leader Ed Miliband has said he will only support an...

UK bill scares charities into silence

A leading British human rights lawyer warns that the governmentâ„¢s lobbying bill will prevent charitiesâ„¢ legitimate campaigning by causing fears of criminal prosecution among...

After subpoenas, Bitcoin companies start lobbying Washington

Less than one month after regulators in New York issued subpoenas to major companies involved with the Bitcoin digital currency, representatives for the emerging...

UK MPs rap false migration reports

A British parliamentary group has criticized the scaremongering regarding Romanian and Bulgarian migrants to UK saying their number would be far fewer than anti-migration...

UK Prince fails to exercise neutrality

The British heir to the throne, Prince Charles, has been carrying out a Å“campaign of meddling” in the UK politics, holding 36 secret meetings...

UK drug offenders freed from UAE jail

Three British drugs offenders, who claim to have been tortured in Dubai, have returned to Britain, legal charity Reprieve says. The three were given four...

EU exit historical error: UK officials

Senior politicians from the three main British parties have in a joint pro-European Union manifesto warned that leaving the bloc would be a "historical...

UK PM urged to sack senior strategist

British Prime Minister David Cameron comes under renewed intensive pressure from senior members of the junior party to his coalition government, the Liberal Democrats....

'70 cyber attacks hit UK each month'

Britain is being targeted by around 70 complicated cyber attacks on government or industry networks with espionage purposes every month, a top British spy...

UK lobby group raps Commons toilet bid

A British lobby group has condemned the UK parliamentâ„¢s bid to spend up to £100,000 on refurbishing two toilets used by members of the...

Is The Bilderberg Group Breaking UK Charity Law?

Bilderberg Association reported to the UK Charity Commission Silkie CarloInfowars.comJune 29, 2013 A serious...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlers' Out of Europe

Greeting Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as he arrived at the UK's Parliament Thursday morning was a barrage of environmental activists who came to...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlars' Out of Europe

Not crumpets and tea. Protesters with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied outside of Parliament Thursday against the presence of Canadian PM Stephen...

UK Protesters to Canadian PM: 'Keep Oil Peddlars' Out of Europe

Not crumpets and tea. Protesters with the UK Tar Sands Network rallied outside of Parliament Thursday against the presence of Canadian PM Stephen...

Osborne’s ‘help to buy’ scheme death knell for UK property market

<!--Max Keiser-->Max Keiser, the host of RT's ‘Keiser Report,’ is a former stockbroker, the inventor of virtual specialist technology and co-founder of the Hollywood...

Osborne’s ‘help to buy’ scheme death knell for UK property market

<!--Max Keiser-->Max Keiser, the host of RT's ‘Keiser Report,’ is a former stockbroker, the inventor of virtual specialist technology and co-founder of the Hollywood...

UK PM U-turns on transparency pledge

The UK Premier has broken his promise on transparency as he refused to discuss the Bilderberg meeting.British Prime Minister David Cameron is facing criticism...

UK MP accused of rule-breaking

British Tory MP Patrick Mercer has been accused of breaking parliamentary rules on lobbying.A senior British Conservative MP has been accused of breaking parliamentary...

What UKIP stands for: A look

The UK Independence Party has gone from being a joke in the British political landscape to the fourth - or even third - best-supported...

Report: UK slavery on the rise

Katie Nguyen | The number of trafficking cases referred to the British authorities rose to 946 last year from 710 in 2010, according to the...

UK: Mass genetic surveillance

Richard Taylor Britain’s police want to routinely put children as young as five on the National DNA Database (NDNAD), even when no crime has been...

UK Budget 2008: What it Means to You

High-polluting vehicles will be hit harder, but incentives for green cars will be introduced and fuel duty rises shelved, announced Chancellor Alistair Darling in...

Scrapping Uber’s license will put ‘law-abiding’ people out of work, driver tells RT

Published time: 22 Sep, 2017 13:32 As 40,000 Uber drivers face an uncertain future in...

Is it really true that America’s richest 1% are ‘overwhelmingly Jewish’?

Eric Zuesse, originally published at The Saker (where the author’s responses to reader-comments challenging this report, can also be seen) On September 8th, an article...

The Stomach-churning Violence of Monsanto, Bayer and the Agrochemical Oligopoly

As humans, we have evolved with the natural environment over millennia. We have learned what to eat and what not to eat, what to...

Net Neutrality Reduced to Mogul vs. Mogul in Corporate Media’s Shallow Coverage

John Oliver (6/1/14) on net neutrality: “The only two words that promise more boredom in the English language are ‘featuring Sting.'” A common refrain in...

FBI raided Manafort’s home for documents he gave Congress

Published time: 9 Aug, 2017 15:10 Edited time: 9 Aug, 2017 15:43 The Federal Bureau of...

New York eyes adopting 'textalyzer' in crash investigations

New York is considering allowing roadside police to test the ‘textalyzer’ in investigations to see if...

Reuters vs. UN Cancer Agency: Are Corporate Ties Influencing Science Coverage?

Ever since they classified the world’s most widely used herbicide as “probably carcinogenic to humans,” a team of international scientists at the World Health...

Britain threatens to return tons of nuclear waste to EU after Brexit

Published time: 20 Jul, 2017 12:16 Britain is threatening to return boatloads of radioactive waste...

Missile Defense Will Protect You From North Korea, Say USA Today’s Missile Defense-Funded Sources

USA Today (7/17/17) presents a few words from the missile defense industry. “US Missile Defense Plans to Zap North Korean Threats” was the headline of...

9/11 families may add UAE to lawsuit against Saudis over role in terrorist attacks

The United Arab Emirates may be added to lawsuits brought by the families of 9/11 victims...

The Destructiveness of America’s Alliances

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Alliances between nations are military. Without being military, they would be nothing. Trade agreements don’t require any alliances at...

When Will Co-opted Figures and Board Members of Companies like Monsanto and Bayer Be...

The public is being poisoned, disease rates are spiralling, waterways are contaminated, soil is being degraded, insects, birds, invertebrates and plant diversity are in...

DUP letters: Party lobbied to stop NI couples marrying in Scotland

Published time: 21 Jun, 2017 14:32 The Scottish Government has released letters from the Democratic...

An Interesting View of Foreign Politics

Eric Zuesse For many years, I have been reading — but not yet citing as documentation for my own articles regarding U.S. international policies —...

Trump Has Made the 2020 Election a Referendum on Climate Change

On Thursday last week, President Donald Trump delivered on years of promises to his supporters and spat in the face of the world by...

Tories ‘gagged’ us to prevent criticism of Theresa May, charities claim

Not-for-profit organizations in Britain say they have been silenced ahead of the general election in...

The Public or the Agrochemical Industry: Who Does the European Chemicals Agency Serve?  

By Rosemary Mason and Colin Todhunter Environmentalist Dr Rosemary Mason has just written an open letter to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) Director of Risk...

IRmep Asks Appeals Court To Block Trump Transfer of $3.7 Billion in US Aid...

Washington, DC – On May 8, 2017 IRmep (Institute for Research: Middle Eastern Policy) Director Grant F. Smith filed an emergency motion (PDF) asking...

Will banking giants abandon Brexit-Britain for Macron’s EU-friendly Paris?

Emmanuel Macron’s election to the French presidency will likely boost Parisian efforts to attract banks and financial service industries hoping to relocate...

Britain Must Break Free from the Agrochemical Cartel: Rosemary Mason Calls on ECP to...

Agrochemical manufacturers are knowingly poisoning people and the environment in the name of profit and greed. Communities, countries, ecosystems and species have become disposable...

Wells Fargo Directors Face Wrath for Complicity In Bank Corruption

Met by fierce protests both inside and out the annual shareholder meeting in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida on Tuesday, members of the Wells Fargo...

Giving NY’s Governor a $783,000 Bribe Is Business as Usual for Rupert Murdoch

Buffalo News (4/18/17) A Buffalo News headline (4/18/17) asked a pointed question about New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo: “How Did Cuomo Make $783,000 on Memoir...

US attack on North Korea ‘may be an option,’ says retired US general

In the wake of recent nuclear missile tests conducted by North Korea, retired four-star US General Jack Keane says that bombing the country’s nuclear...

Rip-off culture ‘embedded’ in foreign aid contracts costing taxpayer £300mn a year– whistleblowers

Published time: 5 Apr, 2017 15:48Edited time: 5 Apr, 2017 16:12 A rip-off culture is rife...

A pint a day keeps the doctor away: Research proves moderate drinking is good...

Drinking alcohol within recommended limits could be better for you than not drinking at all...

How the Government Ruined US Medical Care

Government’s meddling in the healthcare business has been disastrous from the get-go. Since 1910, when Republican William Taft gave in to the American Medical Association’s...

Enemy of Reason: Behind the Mask of Pro-GMO Neoliberal Ideology

Professor Shanthu Shantharam recently wrote a response to Viva Kermani’s well thought out article about injecting some honesty into the debate about genetically modified (GM) food and...

Pro-GMO Scientists Blinded by Technology and Wedded to Ideology

The Oxford Martin School is based at Oxford University in the UK and has set up the ‘Oxford Martin Commission for Future Generations’ (OMC). Bringing together...

Pentagon's supplier & Tomahawk missiles manufacturer to protect US power utilities from cyberattacks

One of the world’s top military contractors, Raytheon, has teamed up with another American company that...

A Hard Look at Islamists Hiding Behind the Pink Pussy Hat Protesters

Around the world legitimate protests in recent years were turned into color revolutions. So-called humanitarian groups attach themselves to protests and in many cases...

Footage of final moments before British Marine executed wounded Afghan released by court

Judges have released additional sections of a helmet camera video of the moments before a...

More US judges rule to restrict Trump ‘Muslim ban’ travel order

Three more federal judges, along with a district judge, have issued rulings barring authorities from deporting...

Corporate Contributors to Trump Inauguration Seek to Curry Favor

Despite the incoming administration of President-Elect Donald Trump’s efforts to keep inauguration donors secret, The New York Times has reported seven of the event’s...

Video of Royal Marine executing wounded Afghan must not be published, MoD tells court

Britain’s Ministry of Defense (MoD) is fighting an attempt by a group of newspapers to...

Israeli embassy official behind ‘take down’ plot resigns

A disgraced Israeli embassy official who was caught on camera talking about “taking down” a...

Tony Blair pours £10 million into his crusade against ‘populism’

Former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair has announced he will pour almost £10 million ($12...

From Agriculture to Demonetisation: Not ‘Make in India’ but Made in Washington

Colin Todhunter A version of the following piece was originally published in June 2016. However, since then, India’s PM Narendra Modi has embarked on a...

If politicians want Aleppo airdrops, they should be on the planes themselves – MP

Fiery former army colonel-turned-MP Bob Stewart has told MPs lobbying for military intervention in the ruined Syrian city of Aleppo that if they want...

Nigel Farage goes to fancy dress party with Donald Trump, lobbies for new US...

Nigel Farage and Donald Trump partied together at a ‘heroes and villains’ fancy dress party...

93% of ‘patient advocacy’ groups funded by drug & medical giants – report

US patient advocacy groups are seen as unbiased and independent authorities championing the public interest with...

Legalize cannabis to end Britain’s ‘embarrassing’ drugs policy, say MPs

Cannabis should be legalized to bring British drugs policy out of the “dark ages” and put it in line with other Western countries, a...

Why Are Public Officials Protecting the Pesticides Industry? Digging Down into the Cesspool of...

Colin Todhunter It is based on a cesspool of corruption that is most probably responsible for more death and disease than the combined efforts of...

Rudy Giuliani’s foreign dealings may complicate rise to Trump cabinet

Rudy Giuliani has secured a position within President-elect Donald Trump’s transition team, but past consultancy roles for foreign governments raise serious suspicions about whether...

Is this person our new President?

Here’s Why Hillary Won’t Allow Her Corporate Speeches to be Published Eric Zuesse (update added 8 November 2016) In a previous report, I indicated "Why Hillary Clinton’s...

EU citizens tell RT about their Brexit fears as campaign is launched to keep...

European citizens living in Britain have told RT about how they fear for their jobs,...

Ex-Cameron aide launches lobby group… without govt watchdog’s approval

A former aide to David Cameron has come under fire for launching a lobbying firm without getting clearance from a government watchdog responsible for...

Wikileaks releases over 2,000 emails from Clinton campaign chair

The internet whistleblowing group Wikileaks released over 2,000 emails involving Hillary Clinton campaign chairman John Podesta....

Chief NATO Lobbyist Urges Trump Be Replaced by Pence

Eric Zuesse (RINF) - As the U.S. hurtles toward nuclear war with Russia over Syria and Crimea, Jon Huntsman, the head of NATO’s lobbying organization the Atlantic Council,...

I’m a Bernie Sanders Voter: Here’s Why I’ll Vote Trump

By Eric Zuesse Sometimes, things in politics are the opposite of the way they seem. The Presidential contest between the ‘liberal’ Hillary Clinton’ and the...

Big Pharma spent $880mn on keeping opioids available – report

In the midst of one of the worst drug epidemics in the US, a report found that the money spent on keeping painkillers regularly...

Jailed British-Iranian woman discussed at UN meeting between nations’ leaders

Theresa May raised the case of a jailed British-Iranian aid worker with Iran’s leader, Hassan...

Contesting the U.S.-Saudi Bromance With 1,000 Cuts

Human rights campaigners protest against Farnborough International arms fair courtesy of Campaign Against Arms Trade via Flickr. On September 8, Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Chris...

Whether Sauds, in Effect, Own the U.S. Government

Eric Zuesse A bill is expected to come up for a vote in the U.S. Senate on Friday September 9th that could enable Saudis to...

Team Empire? Britain’s former imperial possessions won the Olympics, claims Tory MP

A Tory MP is under fire after tweeting a medal breakdown of the Rio Olympics...

Longtime Clinton aide listed as former assistant editor of radical Muslim magazine – media

The top campaign aide to presidential candidate Hillary Clinton was listed as an editor for a...

The Bloody Evil of George Soros

Excerpt from Contagion:The Betrayal of Liberty; Russia and the United States in the Post-Cold War Era adapted for lewrockwell.com ……..Spooked out of Russia after the...

More About a U.S.-and-Allied Hoax Against Assad

UPDATE OF: U.S. Gov’t. Refused U.S. Entry to Jihadist It Employs for Overthrowing Assad Eric Zuesse, updated from his original post at strategic-culture.org On August 18th,...

AP Smears Trump

Eric Zuesse The Associated Press issued, on Wednesday August 17th, a news story of possible corruption implicating both the campaign manager of the Trump campaign...

British MPs given Mossad self-defense training following Jo Cox murder

British MPs are being taught unarmed street-fighting techniques used by the Israeli intelligence agency Mossad in a bid to protect them from stalkers, terrorists,...

NYT Reveals Think Tank It’s Cited for Years to Be Corrupt Arms Booster

The New York Times (8/7/16) reveals the corporate influence behind some of its most-used sources. A recent New York Times article (8/7/16) detailed, in often...

The Scandal of the EU Commission and their Revolving Doors

The Goldman Sachs employment of former EU Commission President Barroso has placed the EU’s revolving door problem firmly on the political agenda. Although many...

Uber’s London drivers must pass written English exams… but cab firm is having none...

Uber is lobbying Transport for London (TfL) to scrap new regulations requiring its drivers to...

Emigre Super Bloc Part 5 The Failed Turkish Coup – An Exploded View

Is Fethullah Gulen the feeble, kindly imam that mainstream media is making him out to be? Hardly. What this article will show is that...

Slum conditions return to Britain as housing crisis brings squalor, exploitation

Dickensian housing conditions reminiscent of the Victorian era have returned to Britain amid a rise...

Koch Brothers Now Supporting Hillary Clinton

Eric Zuesse On July 20th, a Republican U.S. Senator lost his main financial backers for having urged Republicans to vote for Donald Trump instead of...

Emigre Super Bloc Part 4- Clinton’s Jihadis | Will the Super Delegates Vote YES...

By the end of this section, you will understand Islamic terrorism better than most analysts. Where it came from, where it's going,who's driving it...

Arms firms profiting from refugee crisis bought ‘access’ to Scottish politicians

Arms firms like Airbus, which are cashing in on border security deals to hold back...

Still Second-Class Citizens

When I heard about the police shootings of Alton Sterling and Philando Castile, I thought back to another name etched into American history: Dred...

Chilcot and the End of the Anglosphere

Do we really need a 2.6 million word report on how Bush’s poodle, a.k.a. former British Prime Minister Tony Blair, allowed ...

Clinton Backs Monsanto’s Case

That to Be Anti Monsanto Is to Be Pro Global-Warming Eric Zuesse On June 27th, I reported Hillary Clinton’s having privately told GMO industry lobbyists, on...

Jack Reed: Cluster Bomb Cheerleader

Cluster bombs are some of the cruelest available weapons of war, banned in 119 countries and counting. This June, in a close...

Here’s Why Hillary Won’t Allow Her Corporate Speeches to be Published

Eric Zuesse (update added 8 November 2016) In a previous report, I indicated "Why Hillary Clinton’s Paid Speeches Are Relevant”, but not what they contained. The...

Confronting the NRA: Knowing Where to Start

December 14, 2012. Newtown, Connecticut. Adam Lanza murdered his mother in her bed and then drove her car to the local elementary school, where...

WSJ Fakes a Green Shift Toward Nuclear Power

The Wall Street Journal (6/16/16) depicts nuclear power as as a walk on the beach. (photo: Lenny Ignelzi/AP) The Wall Street Journal (6/16/16) published an...

Mass Exodus?

Last month, lawmakers in Massachusetts approved a constitutional amendment that will lead to the departure of many of the state’s wealthiest and most productive...

Orlando Killer’s Father Knew Obama?

How close was presumed killer Omar Mateen to the bizarre world of Washington politics? Close enough to raise your hackles about what is really going...

The 2016 Super Bloc Vote Part II Unleashing David vs the Russian Goliath

Voting blocs, smoting blocs, who gives a damn? I got bloc'd in traffic the other day! This is America and everybody has a “voting bloc!” What ya' didn't...

Propaganda Countdown to WWIII

While the two leaders from Armenia and Azerbaijan met this week and agreed to comply with the treaty set forth that ended their bloody six-year war...

Hillary Clinton’s Neocon Resumé

Liberal Democratic Hillary Clinton supporters get defensive when they hear that Mrs. Clinton is favored over Donald Trump by right-wing billionaires like Charles Koch...

Monsanto and the Poisoning of Europe

This week, a Standing Committee of plant scientists from 28 member states in Europe is likely to endorse the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA)...

Monsanto and the Poisoning of Europe: An Open letter to the EFSA Chief Attorney...

This week, a Standing Committee of plant scientists from 28 member states in Europe is likely to endorse the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA)...

Glyphosate in the EU: Product Promoters Masquerading as Regulators in a “cesspool of corruption”?

On 13 April, the EU Parliament called on the European Commission to restrict certain permitted uses of the toxic herbicide glyphosate, best known in...

Global banks bankroll battle to keep Britain in the EU

Prime Minister David Cameron’s bid to keep Britain in the EU is being funded by...

Pesticides, GMOs and Corporate Control: The Poster Child is Monsanto but Neil Young is...

Neil Young has a long history of activism. He is a co-founder of Farm Aid, which works to support small and family farmers in North...

All Angles Covered: Is the EU Completely in the Pocket of the Biotech Industry?

“In less than a fortnight, EU Member States will take a decision on the re-approval of glyphosate. Genius is working to get this...

Govt-backed counter-extremist ‘propaganda’ program operating without oversight – report

Counter-narratives on extremism are being peddled by a secret government propaganda program in the absence of oversight under the guise of “grassroots Muslim voices,”...

‘It’s Remarkable How Little Real News Comes From Saudi Arabia’

Janine Jackson interviewed Sheila Carapico about Barack Obama’s visit to Saudi Arabia for the April 22, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a lightly...

TTIP – current EU GMO rules to be ‘disregarded’ as EU Commission caves in...

A joint report conducted by Greenpeace, Corporate Europe Observatory and Gene Watch UK issued a briefing paper last week entitled “Commission fails to regulate...

‘Great rhetoric, now act!’ Fight money laundering, anti-corruption group tells govt

Government proposals to crack down on vast sums of dirty money pulsing through the heart...

Hillary Clinton's wealthy donors revealed in Panama Papers

Names in the Panama Papers link Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, fresh off a big win...

A Short History of the Pentagon Wasting Your Money

The Pentagon spent $6 billion on not auditing itself, according to the Project on Government Oversight. (Photo: Mariordo Camila Ferreira & Mario Duran/Wikimedia Commons) From...

Capitalism And Global Agribusiness: From Ford To Monsanto, It’s For Your Own Good

“We must… build our own local food systems that create new rural-urban links, based on truly agroecological food production... We cannot allow Agroecology to...

US Aid to Israel Is ‘Too Much’ Say 61.9% of Americans

A majority Americans say US foreign aid to Israel is excessive – either “much too much” (32.5 percent) or “too much’ (29.4 percent). The single-question...

Trump sparks NATO debate: ‘Obsolete’ or ‘tripwire that could lead to World War III’?

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump slammed NATO on the campaign trail this week, saying he can...

A New Right To Secrecy For Companies, And A Dangerous EU Legislative Proposal

The proposed EU legislation on “Trade Secrets Protection”, which the European Parliament will vote next April 14, creates excessive rights to secrecy for businesses:...
meetings with lobbyists trumps citizen interest groups 4 to 1

British government refuses to answer information requests on secret EU meetings with lobbyists

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU) has been investigating EU member state permanent representations, finding out to what extent they are...

Post-Brexit Britain will need open borders to stave off economic turmoil – report

Britain will need to allow in large numbers of migrants from the European Union every...

EU-funded BBC documentary on Obama sparks allegations of anti-Brexit bias

The BBC has produced an uncritical documentary series on Barak Obama’s presidential legacy using cash...

The Crusade in Favour of GMO: Falsehoods and Vilification will not Fool the Public

Pro-GMO campaigners often attack critics of the technology by claiming their negative views of it emanate from well-funded environmentalist groups or commercial interests in...

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Despotic Saudi Regime Lobbies to Chair Human Rights Council

Despotic Saudi Regime Lobbies to Chair Human Rights Council

by Stephen Lendman

It's one of the world's most repressive states - a blight on humanity, a cancer in a part of the world known for despotic regimes.

Its human rights record is horrific by any standard. Fundamental rights don't exist.

State terror is official policy. Democracy is strictly prohibited. Torture and physical abuse are commonplace. So are public whippings, beheadings and hangings.

Due process and judicial fairness don't exist. Thousands of political prisoners languish in its gulag under deplorable conditions.

Abuse of power is extreme. So is massive corruption and lack of transparency. Inequality is institutionalized. Independent media don't exist. Nor do labor rights.

Islam is the state religion. No other is tolerated. All Saudis are required by law to be Muslims. Failure to comply is considered apostasy - a capital offense.

Capital punishment is standard practice for non-violent crimes - including adultery, armed robbery, drug smuggling, kidnapping, witchcraft, sorcery, and apostasy. 

Absolute monarchal rule tolerates no criticism or opposition. It's despotic, lawless and brutal - a police state by any standard.

Riyadh is Washington's main Arab regional ally. One rogue state supports another.

The UN Human Rights Council includes 47 Member States. Many comprise a rogue's gallery of major human rights abusers - including Saudi Arabia, America, Algeria, Ethiopia, Morocco, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, among others.

Membership is apportioned regionally as follows:

African nations - 13 seats

Asia/Pacific: 13 seats

Latin America and Caribbean - 8 seats

Western Europe and other states - 7 seats

Eastern Europe - 6 seats.

Members serve for three years. They're not eligible for immediate reelection after serving two consecutive terms.

General Assembly Res. 60/251 (April 2006) states:

"(T)he Council shall be responsible for promoting universal respect for the protection of all human rights and fundamental freedoms for all, without distinction of any kind and in a fair and equal manner…" 

"(T)he Council should address situations of violations of human rights, including gross and systematic violations, and make recommendations thereon..."

Most often HRC mocks what it's mandated to support. It functions as a US imperial tool - notably siding with Washington-backed takfiri terrorists waging war on sovereign Syria. Failing to condemn US-orchestrated/Saudi-led terror-bombing of Yemen.

Reports indicate Riyadh wants to chair the UN Human Rights Council (HRC). Its membership alone is a travesty of justice.

One human rights group called letting Riyadh head the HRC an "abomination, and cynical by a nation that beheads people in public squares."

It's like letting a serial killer become police chief or a pyromaniac being appointed fire commissioner.

Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom criticized Riyadh's human rights record - including its treatment of blogger Raif Badawi.

He was sentenced to 1,000 lashes, 10 years imprisonment and possible capital punishment -  for freely expressing his views.

Wallstrom said "(o)ne must protest against what are (punitive) medieval methods." 

Riyadh responded by refusing to issue business visas to Swedish nationals or renew current ones. It tolerates no criticism of its horrific practices - even from a high-ranking diplomat like Wallstrom.

In January she tweeted: Riyadh's "cruel attempt to silence modern forms of expression has to be stopped."

Independent human rights groups condemn Riyadh's record as one of the world's most egregious for good reason.

Human rights in the Kingdom don't exist. Saudi Arabia is included in HRC's Asian group. One of its member states is next in line for HRC's chairmanship.

Reports indicate Riyadh is lobbying intensively to get it. Washington is supportive. US pressure may get other Asian nations to back what demands rejection.

Rogue state HRC chairmanship would mock what it claims to stand for. Riyadh's membership alone lacks legitimacy. 

Appointing it head of the human rights group would make the organization a laughing stock. Don't bet against it happening.

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

His new book as editor and contributor is titled "Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III."

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.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. 

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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.

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US Agribusiness, GMOs And The Plundering Of The Planet

RINF, Counterpunch, Countercurrents, Global Research

Small family/peasant farms produce most of the world’s food. They form the bedrock of global food production. Yet they are being squeezed onto less than a quarter of the planet's farmland. The world is fast losing farms and farmers through the concentration of land into the hands of rich and powerful land speculators and agribusiness corporations.

By definition, peasant agriculture prioritises food production for local and national markets as well as for farmers’ own families. Big agritech corporations on the other hand take over scarce fertile land and prioritise commodities or export crops for profit and foreign markets that tend to cater for the needs of the urban affluent. This process displaces farmers from their land and brings about food insecurity, poverty and hunger.

What big agribusiness with its industrial model of globalised agriculture claims to be doing - addressing global hunger and food shortages - is doing nothing of the sort. There is enough evidence to show that its activities actually lead to hunger and poverty - something that the likes of GMO-agribusiness-neoliberal apoligists might like to consider when they propagandize about choice, democracy and hunger: issues that they seem unable to grasp, at least beyond a self-serving superficial level.

Small farmers are being criminalised, taken to court and even made to disappear when it comes to the struggle for land. They are constantly exposed to systematic expulsion from their land by foreign corporations. The Oakland Institute has stated that now a new generation of institutional investors, including hedge funds, private equity and pension funds, is eager to capitalise on global farmland as a new and highly desirable asset class. Financial returns are what matter to these entities, not ensuring food security.

Consider Ukraine, for example. Small farmers operate 16% of agricultural land, but provide 55% of agricultural output, including: 97% of potatoes, 97% of honey, 88% of vegetables, 83% of fruits and berries and 80% of milk. It is clear that Ukraine’s small farms are delivering impressive outputs.

However, The US-backed toppling of that country’s government seems likely to change this with the installed puppet regime handing over agriculture to US agribusiness. Current ‘aid’ packages are contingent on the plundering of the economy under the guise of ‘austerity’ reforms and will have a devastating impact on Ukrainians’ standard of living and increase poverty in the country.

Reforms mandated by the EU-backed loan include agricultural deregulation that is intended to benefit foreign agribusiness corporations. Natural resource and land policy shifts are intended to facilitate the foreign corporate takeover of enormous tracts of land. (From 2016, foreign private investors will no longer be prohibited from buying land.) Moreover, the EU Association Agreement includes a clause requiring both parties to cooperate to extend the use of biotechnology, including GMOs.

In other words, events in Ukraine are helping (and were designed to help) the likes of Monsanto to gain a firm hold over the country’s agriculture.

Frederic Mousseau, Policy Director of the Oakland Institute last year stated that the World Bank and IMF are intent on opening up foreign markets to Western corporations and that the high stakes around control of Ukraine’s vast agricultural sector, the world’s third largest exporter of corn and fifth largest exporter of wheat, constitute an oft-overlooked critical factor. He added that in recent years, foreign corporations have acquired more than 1.6 million hectares of Ukrainian land.

Western agribusiness had been coveting Ukraine’s agriculture sector for quite some time, long before the coup. It after all contains one third of all arable land in Europe.

An article posted on Oriental Review notes that since the mid-90s the Ukrainian-Americans at the helm of the US-Ukraine Business Council had been instrumental in encouraging the foreign control of Ukrainian agriculture.

In November 2013, the Ukrainian Agrarian Confederation drafted a legal amendment that would benefit global agribusiness producers by allowing the widespread use of genetically modified seeds. Oriental Review notes that when GMO crops were legally introduced onto the Ukrainian market in 2013, they were planted in up to 70% of all soybean fields, 10-20% of cornfields, and over 10% of all sunflower fields, according to various estimates (or 3% of the country’s total farmland).

According to Oriental Review, “within two to three years, as the relevant provisions of the Association Agreement between Ukraine and the EU go into effect, Monsanto’s lobbying efforts will transform the Ukrainian market into an oligopoly consisting of American corporations.”

It amounts to little more than the start of the US colonisation of Ukraine’s seed and agriculture sector. This corporate power grab will be assisted by local banks. Oriental Review says they will only offer favourable credit terms to those farmers who agree to use certified herbicides: those that are manufactured by Monsanto.

Interestingly, the investment fund Siguler Guff & Co has recently acquired a 50% stake in the Ukrainian Port of Illichivsk, which specialises in agricultural exports.

We need look no further than to Ukraine's immediate neighbour Poland to see the devastating impact on farmers that Western agribusiness concerns are having there. Land grabs by foreign capital and the threat to traditional (often organic) agriculture have sparked mass protests as big agribusiness seeks to monopolise the food supply from field to plate. The writing is on the wall for Ukraine.

The situation is not unique to Poland, though; the impact of policies that favour big agribusiness and foreign capital are causing hardship, impacting health and destroying traditional agriculture across the world, from India and Argentina to Brazil and Mexico and beyond.

In an article by Christina Sarich, Hilliary Martin, a farmer from Vermont in the US, encapsulates the situation by saying:
"We are here at the [US-Canadian] border to demonstrate the global solidarity of farmers in the face of globalization. The corporate takeover of agriculture has impoverished farmers, starved communities and force-fed us genetically-engineered crops, only to line the pockets of a handful of multinational corporations like Monsanto at the expense of farmers who are struggling for land and livelihood around the world."
The US has since 1945 used agriculture as a tool with which to control countries. And today what is happening in Ukraine is part of the wider US geopolitical plan to drive a wedge between Ukraine and Russia and to subjugate the country.

While the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) is intended to integrate the wider EU region with the US economy (again 'subjugate' may be a more apt word), by introducing GMOs into Ukraine and striving to eventually incorporate the country into the EU the hope is that under the banner of ‘free trade’ Monsanto’s aim of getting this technology into the EU and onto the plates of Europeans will become that much easier.

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RINF, The 4th Media, Global Research, Countercurrents, The Nation (Sri Lankan newspaper), The Ecologist, CounterPunch

Author of ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’ Steven Druker recently talked of how back in the seventies a group of molecular biologists formed part of a scientific elite that sought to allay fears about genetic engineering by putting a positive spin on it. At the same time, critics of this emerging technology were increasingly depicted as being little more than non-scientists who expressed ignorant but well-meaning concerns about science and genetic engineering.

This continues today, but the attacks on critics are becoming more vicious. Former British Environment Minister Owen Paterson recently attacked critics of GMOs with a scathing speech that described them as a self-serving, elitist “green blob” that was condemning “billions” to misery. Professor Anthony Trewavas has continued this theme by stating:

Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies.”

According to this, critics of GMOs possess authoritarian personality types, are ignorant of science and unable to convince people of their arguments and thus resort to violence. 

Part of the pro-GMO narrative also involves a good deal of glib talk about democracy. In an open letter to me, Anthony Trewavas says:

“It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward… Whatever their [farmers’] choice is… they must be allowed to make that decision… That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under?”

Pro-GMO scientists have every right to speak on psychology, politics and democracy. However, let a non-scientist criticise GMOs and they are accused of self-serving elitism or ignorance. Indeed, let even a scientist produce scientific evidence that runs counter to the industry-led science and he or she is smeared and attacked.

Let a respected academically qualified political scientist, trade policy analyst or social scientist whose views are in some way critical of GMOs and the corporations promoting them express a coherent viewpoint supported by evidence from their specific discipline and they are attacked for being little more than ideologues with an agenda, or their evidence or sources are described as ‘biased’. Any analysis of the role of the IMF, World Bank and WTO and their part in restructuring agriculture in poor nations or devising policies to favour Western agribusiness is suddenly to be side lined in favour of a narrow focus on ‘science’, which the masses and ideologues could not possibly comprehend; by implication, they should therefore defer to (pro-GMO) scientists for the necessary information.

The pro-GMO lobby talks about choice, democracy and the alleged violence of certain environmental groups but says nothing about the structural violence waged on rural communities resulting from IMF/World Bank strings-attached loans, the undermining of global food security as a result of Wall Street commodity and land speculators, the crushing effects of trade rules on poorer regions or the devastating impacts of GMOs in regions likeSouthAmerica. To discuss such things is political and thus 'ideological' and is therefore not up for discussion it seems.

Much easier to try to focus on ‘the science’ and simply mouth platitudes about democracy and freedom of choice while saying nothing about how both been captured or debased by powerful interests, including agribusiness. By attempting not to appear to be ideological or political, such people are attempting to depoliticise and thus disguise the highly political status quo whereby powerful corporations (and some bogus notion of a 'free market') are left unchallenged to shape agriculture as they see fit:

“Anyone who’s seen the recent virally circulated Venn diagrams of the personnel overlap between Monsanto and USDA personnel, or Pfizer and FDA, will immediately know what I’m talking about… A model of capitalism in which the commanding heights of the economy are an interlocking directorate of large corporations and government agencies, a major share of the total operating costs of the dominant firms are socialized (and profits privatized, of course), and “intellectual property” protectionism and other regulatory cartels allow bureaucratic corporate dinosaurs… to operate profitably without fear of competition." Kevin Carson, Center for a Stateless Society. 

If certain politicians or scientists and the companies they support really do want to ‘feed the world’ and are concerned with poverty and hunger, they should forget about GMOs and focus their attention elsewhere: not least on how the ‘free market’ system that they cherish so much causes hunger and poverty, whether for example through food commodity speculation (see earlier link) by powerful banking interests or a US foreign policy that has for decades used agriculture to trap nations into subservience.

Rather than have the public focus on such things, such people try to mislead and divert attention away from these things with puerile notions of authoritarian personality types who reject some illusory notion of open debate, free choice and democracy.  

Failure is us

Even with this power and political influence at its disposal, the GMO agritech industry is far from being a success.  Much of its profits actually derive from failure: for example, Andrew Kimbrell notes that after having chosen to ignore science, the industry’s failing inputs are now to be replaced with more destined-to-fail and ever-stronger poisonous inputs. The legacy of poisoned environments and ecological devastation is for someone else to deal with. In his book, Steven Druker has shown that from very early on the US government has colluded with the GMO agritech sector to set a 'technical fix-failure-technical fix' merry-go-round in motion.

This system is designed to stumble from one crisis to the next, all the while hiding behind the banners of ‘innovation’ or ‘research and development’. But it’s all good business. And that’s all that really matters to the industry. 

There’s always good PR ground to be made from blaming critics for being ‘anti-science’ and money to be made from a continuous state of crisis management (‘innovation’ and bombarding farmers with a never-ending stream of new technologies and inputs).  Part of the great con-trick is that it attempts to pass off its endless crises and failures as brilliant successes.

For many promoters of the GMO cause, it is a case of not even wanting to understand alternative approaches or the devastating impacts of GMOs when their lavish salary or consultancy fees depend on them not wanting to understand any of it.

When it comes to labelling unsafe and untested GM food in the US, the pro-GMO lobby grasps at straws by saying too much information confuses the public or sends out the wrong message

When it says sound science should underpin the GMO issue, it does everything it can to circumvent any science that threatens its interests.

When it says its critics have a political agenda, it side lines debates on how it hijacks international and national policy making bodies and regulatory agencies.

When it talks about elite, affluent environmentalists robbing food from the bellies of the poor, its private companies are owned by people who form part of a privileged class that seek to turn their vested interests into policy proscriptions for the rest of us.

The pro-GMO lobby engages in the fraudulent notion that it knows what is best for humanity. Co-opting public institutions and using science as an ideology, it indulges in an arrogant form of exceptionalism.

The world does not need GMO food or crops, especially those which have not been proven safe or whose benefits are questionable to say the least. There are alternative ways to boost food production if or when there is a need to. There are other (existing) ways to tackle the impacts of volatile climates. 

However, the alternatives are being squeezed out as big agritech and its captured policy/regulatory bodies place emphasis on proprietary products, not least GMOs and chemical inputs. 

The pro-GMO lobby has a crisis of legitimation. No amount of twisted truths or altered genes, expensive PR or attacks on its critics can disguise this.

Science, Democracy and Choice: Responding To A Pro-GMO Scientist

Writer and researcher Colin Todhunter takes apart the arguments of pro-GMO lobbyist Anthony Trewavas below. There’s more about Trewavas here. The following is in response...

Science, Democracy And Choice: A Response To Professor Tony Trewavas’s Open Letter

The following is in response to an open letter published on the AgBioWorld Facebook page by Professor Tony Trewavas of Edinburgh University. This response is also posted on the GM Watch, Global Research, Countercurrents and RINF websites. 

Tony Trewavais wrote his letter after reading my article ‘So You Want to Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology and Falsehoods to Push GMOs’. The article originally appeared on a number of prominent websites. On Global Research, the piece appeared under a different title ‘The Propaganda Campaign in support of GMOs’ (read here).

Professor Trewavas is a prominent supporter of GMOs in Britain. His original letter is provided in full below my response.

Dear Professor Trewavas

I find your response to my piece disappointing. You failed to address many of the issues I discussed (not least that the world can feed itself without GMOs and that hunger and poverty are due to structural factors and not a lack of food, which GMOs have merely exacerbated) and have decided to indulge in the same type of smear-scare tactics that Owen Paterson employed in his Pretoria speech.

You forward the baseless assertions that GMOs are safe, even though there has not been one long-term epidemiological study conducted to show this.

While condemning Greenpeace and other groups for somehow being authoritarian and anti-choice, you say nothing about agribusiness corporations whose financial clout has brought them political influence that allows them to exert huge control over the WTO and capture regulatory bodies and public research institutions. These corporations have had a key role in driving trade policies from India to Europe, not least in terms of the secretive Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the world’s largest secretive, pro-corporate trade deal, the proposed TTIP. 

Where is the choice and democracy here? 

You have nothing to say on that but proceed to lecture me on the virtues of choice and democracy.

In your opening paragraph alone, you make four fallacious assertions.

First of all, I did not say GMOs would be a disaster for "any" farmer. In India’s Punjab state, for example, some farmers have done quite well from the introduction of petrochemical farming (‘green revolution’). But water tables are falling drastically, pesticides have contaminated the water supply, there is a big cancer problem and many farmers are experiencing economic distress. In Punjab, this form of agriculture is unsustainable. There is now an agrarian crisis and it is a health, environmental and social disaster. My point is that GMOs would similarly be bad for agriculture in general and would have a systemic, detrimental impact on the environment and human health.

Second, you claim that I fear GMOs will not be a disaster for African farmers but a success. Not true. You have ignored the fact that a number of GMO projects in Africa to date have indeed been failures and in my article I provided a link to a report to highlight this (which you go on to conveniently dismiss as a ‘biased’ source).  

Third, you say that the word ‘choice’ is conspicuously absent from my article. Any objective reader would appreciate that the concept is central to it, not least where I discuss the ‘choices’ imposed on Ethiopia via the West’s ‘structural adjustment’ of agriculture (which I refer to at the end of the article). That was not a case of farmers ‘choosing’ to restructure their agriculture, but a case of policies being forced on them at a macro policy level. And this is one of the issues that I have with GMOs.

Although you conveniently do not mention that part of my piece, Michel Chossudovsky’s analysis takes account of the way by which agribusiness conglomerates can and do set rules at the WTO, manipulate market forces and restructure agriculture in foreign countries for their own ends. That is very much related to ‘choice’ and its denial. You talk a great deal about ‘democracy’ but fail to address how this situation fits with your ideas of giving choice to farmers and not imposing authoritarian agendas on people.

You say I should buy a farm and exert my choice to farm as I wish. Talk about exercising such a choice to the people in South America who Helena Paul wrote about (described in my piece). They are being driven out as agribusiness and the planting of GMOs (mainly for export) takes hold. She describes this as ecocide and genocide. Tell it to the peasant farmers who are being forced from their lands by speculators and corporations as described by reports by GRAIN and the Oakland Institute last year. These are the people who feed 80 percent of the ‘developing world’, without GM technology, yet are being squeezed out. Where is choice and democracy?

Certain words are used cheaply by some.

The issue of choice not only concerns the options made available to people, but those which have been closed off. Owen Paterson’s claims that “primitive, inefficient” farming techniques would condemn “billions” to hunger, poverty and underdevelopment is ridiculous. He engages in hyperbole in order to denigrate credible alternatives that are forwarded by the groups he is attacking and thus trying to deny those alternatives.

Fourth, nowhere do I say that only agroecological farming should be implemented to feed the world, as you claim I do. However, there are many studies and official reports that demonstrate the efficacy of organic and agroecological approaches that are well publicised. In my article, I referred to some of these studies and reports. But rather than regurgitating references, I would say that no matter what data is presented, certain people seek to marginalise agroecological approaches and prefer to focus on external input intensive ‘solutions' and proprietary technologies, such as GMOs.
I find it strange that supporters of GMOs talk so much about choice when the GMO biotech industry has spent $100 million in the US to deny choice by preventing labelling of GM food.

Where is the choice for the farmer who uses non-GM crops but has his field contaminated by GMOs? Where was the choice when parts of the US wheat crop were contaminated as a result of open-field trials or when contamination took place because of Liberty Link 601? Where is the choice in West Bengal where GMOs from Bangladesh have been found?

Where is the choice for farmers when the only ones that end up on the market are company seeds, or where thousands of varieties have been reduced to a relative handful?

In my piece, Daniel Maingi and Mariam Mayet mentioned the squeezing out of alternatives as a result of the impact of Western agribusiness in Africa. Are they to be dismissed as ‘biased’ sources too?

You say the following: 

“Most objectors in this area have a political programme not a scientific one but they like to bend science to their own political point of view. Science is by its nature not politics or political propaganda or anything like it. It deals with evidence not superstition, or political or social philosophies. If you have a political programme then please stop trying to justify it by claiming it has scientific support; it does not.”

First of all, I provided valid references which referred to peer-reviewed science in the article (and have again below), but all you can say is that my ‘political programme’ has “no scientific support”. I say to you: please stop justifying your own pro-GMO stance by smearing critics and rejecting any evidence because it does not fit your own agenda. Please do not talk about ‘choice’ and ‘democracy’ when your own agenda is to support powerful corporations who via the distortion of science and the capture of strategic national and international bodies deny choice.

Your view of science is either deliberately misleading or simply naïve. And for someone in your position, I find it difficult to believe it could be the latter. From acquiring funding and formulating the questions to be addressed, to conducting research, interpreting findings and peer review, politics are present in science throughout. The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond. Writers in the field of the sociology of science have written much on this. I refer you to the following link, which contests your lofty view of science and scientists: ‘Monsanto wants to know why people doubt science’.

The very fact you have responded to me in a certain manner discredits your view of scientists, not least because it becomes difficult to appreciate where the line between science and lobbying is in your case.

There is an authoritarian, political agenda behind the GMO project – not set by some environmental group (as you say) that you like to use as a whipping boy – but by the agribusiness concerns behind GMOs and petro-chemical industrial agriculture. Focusing on Greenpeace with its supposed agenda serves as a convenient diversion.

It is not NGOs, groups, activists and campaigners that have failed to provide convincing arguments. And, by the way, to conflate such groups with intolerance, authoritarianism and killings by brutal regimes or groups is ludicrous and smacks of desperation on your part. You are a scientist but are using all the cheap smears and tactics of a lobbyist!

When peer-reviewed science is provided by critics to support their claims, the onslaught by the GMO agritech industry and its mouthpieces against those who legitimately and scientifically contest the claims about the efficacy of GMOs is relentless. Just ask Arpad Pusztai, P. M. Bhargava, Judy Carman, Terje Traavik, Andrés Carrasco, Ignacio Chapela, Allison Snow, Marc Lappé, Britt Bailey, Bela Darvas and G. E. Seralini.

These scientists have all either been threatened, smeared or hindered in their work because their research called into question the safety and/or efficacy of GMOs or associated products.

The hypocrisy of those from the pro-GMO lobby who call for sound science to inform the debate on GMOs is glaringly obvious. Those who argue against GMOs are accused of not having science or facts on their side and of engaging in propaganda, while it is clear the pro-GMO lobby that hurls such allegations is itself guilty of all such things. This tactic goes hand in glove with a strident populist agenda whereby the pro-GMO lobby portrays itself as on the side of the people, while its opponents are ‘elitists’ and are ‘stealing food from the bellies of the poor’.

If you really do value democracy as much as you say and wish to call to account those who show contempt for it, you would do better by reading Steven Druker’s new book ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’. Instead of attacking Greenpeace and other groups, you should be more even handed (and employ just a little ‘scientific objectivity’ in your approach) by looking at the fraudulent practices and processes in US government departments that led to the commercialisation of GMOs in that country.

As far as your point on there being a scientific consensus is concerned, it has been well established in recent months by over 300 scientists in a peer reviewed journal that there is no consensus. Furthermore, you bring the issue of climate change into the debate. If I am to accept your claim that there is overwhelming consensus on climate change then I certainly reject your assertion that the same applies to the GMO issue.

What you claim to be ‘biased’ sources have demonstrated that the claims made on the back of many studies on GMOs are not supported by the evidence and that in many instances certain findings are marginalised as not being significant when they actually are (I supply these two links which provide reference to support my claims, the first of which you have already dismissed as being from a biased source, without addressing the issues raised therein:  'An evidence-based examination of the claims made for the safety and efficacy of GM crops and food' and 'Adverse impacts of transgenic crops/food: a compilation of scientific references with abstracts').  

Moreover, climate change is fundamentally different to the GMO issue. Climate change may or may not be anthropogenic, but scientists are deliberately genetically engineering food and adopting a wait and see attitude towards the impact. Wouldn’t it be better to prove safety beforehand?

But let’s get one thing clear, as Druker shows, GMOs were placed on the commercial market due to political arm twisting and official bodies in the US ignoring science that pointed out the dangers of this technology. The decision to commercialise GMOs was not based on scientific evidence; in fact, it ignored such evidence. Yet you are still placing the onus on scientists to prove that GMOs are unsafe – and when they show that they are, these scientists are attacked. It seems science is only called on when it suits.

Releasing GMOs onto the commercial market is not like boarding a plane, as you suggest. The genetic engineering of food affects every member of the population. It presents a widespread, systemic risk to the human population. Most planes are safe and have been tested. Moreover, we have a choice to board a plane. We have no other choice than to eat (unlabelled) food. GMO food has not been proven safe.

The GMO biotech industry carries out inadequate, short-term studies and conceals the data produced by its research under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’, while independent research highlights the very serious dangers of its products. It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India, bribery in Indonesia, smears and intimidates those who challenge its interests and distorts and censors science by restricting independent research. If science is held in such high regard by the GMO agritech sector, why engage in such practices and why in the US did policy makers release GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests?

Despite its claims to the contrary, the sector cannot win the scientific debate, so it resorts to co-opting key public bodies or individuals to propagate various falsehoods and deceptions. Part of the deception is based on emotional blackmail: the world needs GMOs to feed the hungry, both now and in the future. This myth has been blown apart. In fact, the organisation GRAIN highlights that GMOs have thus far have actually contributed to food insecurity!

You say:

“If agroecological approaches can currently match yield that can be attained by using modern farming methods then by all means use it.”

Why doesn’t Paterson adopt this attitude? He denigrates such alternatives, and you deem it necessary to jump to his defence by responding this way.

“But if not and my understanding is that currently it cannot, then they should not be the farming method of recommended choice at present.”

Perhaps you need to do some more reading and consult a few more UN and scientific reports.   

You say that:

“No-one with any concern for humanity or the welfare of its population should currently consider any other alternative. The groups that campaign for this kind or that kind of farming method and destroy crops to try and bounce others into their point of view have lost that fundamental concern for their own species.”

What a ridiculous assertion. Why do you persist in attacking those who clearly do have compassion? Environmental groups have not engaged in decades of massive criminality, in decades of cover ups and serious environmental pollution. You would do better by focussing on one particular leading company whose record clearly shows that it has no regard whatsoever for humanity, yet which claims it wants to ‘feed the word’ with altruistic intent.

If you really do believe in dispassionate, objective discourse, then adopt an even-handed approach. You talk so much about democracy and choice yet there is no mention whatsoever of the crimes, cover ups and decades of environmental pollution that a certain company that forms part of the pro-GMO lobby has been involved in.

You talk about choice and democracy but say nothing about how big agribusiness has at international and national levels captured policy making bodies to effectively impose ‘choice’ on US consumers and poorer nations and devastate local economies. Where is your condemnation? Where is your condemnation of ‘big list’ studies and fallacious claims made by the likes of Jon Entine about safety and efficacy on the back of them? Or are your condemnations, attacks, misrepresentations and ridiculous assertions reserved for those who flag up such things?

While powerful corporations have instant access to policy makers who work closely together, ordinary people and groups have to resort to Freedom of Information legislation to ascertain what happens behind closed doors. They have to rely on whisteblowers or leaked documents or must go through the courts to gain access to studies that formed the basis of regulatory bodies’ approvals for commercial agribusiness products. And you talk to me about democracy and of how I or some campaign group have scant regard for it?

Your response is full of warm sounding notions about democracy and choice and some high-minded words about science and scientists (of course, only the science that fits your paradigm). Rhetoric, platitudes and clichés do not constitute a considered response. Projecting the pro-GMO lobby’s deficiencies onto its critics is not valid. It’s disappointing from a scientist.

You indulge in cheap, fallacious attacks on critics, which is symptomatic of a very transparent and predictable propaganda campaign aimed at critics.  

In finishing, I would like to make clear that I do not belong to any environmental or campaign group. I received no payment for the article you responded to. This is why I refer to myself as in ‘independent’ (not freelance) writer.

I wonder how many scientists can claim such a level of independence from for-profit corporate entities.

With kind regards,

Colin Todhunter


Open letter from Professor Trewavas

Dear Mr Todhunter

I read your article against GM crops (So You Want to Help Africa Mr Paterson? Then Stop Promoting Ideology and Falsehoods to Push GMOs; http://rinf.com/alt-news/editorials/want-help-africa-mr-paterson-stop-promoting-ideology-falsehoods-push-gmos/) but I searched in vain for one small word, ‘choice’.  It seems never to enter the commentaries of Greenpeace, Friends of the Earth or WWF or the other odd environmentalist/activist groupings that appear now and again. Your claim is that Africa can do very well just on agroecology. Well, put your money where your mouth is. Buy a farm in Africa and farm it in the way that you want. But allow others to farm as they wish and if they wish to use GM crops that is their right to do so just as it yours, not to. According to you any African farmer using GM crops will be a disaster so in that case they will stop using them. If it’s not a disaster, which I suspect is what you fear most, then they will reap the benefit and perhaps persuade you in due course to farm like them. Do you want to impose your opinions on others without allowing them to make their own minds up and choose how they wish to farm?

It is an unfortunate situation that in our present world many environmentalist groups have become typically authoritarian in attitude. Greenpeace notably decides its opinions must prevail regardless of others, so it arrogates to itself the right to tear up and destroy things it doesn’t like. That is absolutely typical of people who are unable to convince others by debate and discussion and in the last century such attitudes, amplified obviously, ended up killing people that others did not like. But the same personality type the authoritarian, ‘do as I tell you’, was at the root of it all. Such groups therefore sit uneasily with countries that are democracies. It would be nice if you could say you are a democrat and believe that argument is better than destruction but argument that deals with all the facts and does not select out of those to construct a misleading programme. Misleading selection of limited information is causing considerable problems in various parts of the world that leads some into very violent behaviour, particularly in religious belief. I am sure you agree that this is not a good way forward.

There is a consensus amongst scientists, at least those that have made themselves aware of all reasonable scientific facts, that GM is both safe for consumption and with appropriate regulations for the environment too. Do you agree with that consensus or not? There is another scientific consensus over climate change that is impelling governments to take action. The consensus over GM food safety is stronger amongst scientists than that over climate change, according to a current survey. I assume you accept the one over climate change, most do. But science and scientific fact is not a pick and mix situation, if you accept a scientific consensus on one than you have to accept it for the other. I am sure you will be aware that there are minorities of scientists, different in both cases, that object to both. But I have found that those that do object to the consensus on GM crops always fail to provide an acceptable balance of information in their objections. They select out only the very limited data they consider supports their view and neglect everything else that does not. That is not science that can be used to construct policy. It’s like claiming flying is unsafe because several planes a year crash whilst ignoring the hundreds of thousands every day that haven’t. If you want unbiased information on GM crops go to the many university personnel who can provide it for you. But please do not quote the so obviously-biased publication which you have, as though it were scientific fact.

Most objectors in this area have a political programme not a scientific one but they like to bend science to their own political point of view. Science is by its nature not politics or political propaganda or anything like it. It deals with evidence not superstition, or political or social philosophies. If you have a political programme then please stop trying to justify it by claiming it has scientific support; it does not.

All human activities have costs and benefits, that will include agroecological approaches that you apparently favour, but at the start both costs and benefits have to be drawn up to see what is appropriate to the particular circumstance. Given the rapidly increasing African population I would say that currently yield is crucial but that can change just as farming methods are changing in Europe towards increasing environmental concerns. Farming methods that do both such as no-till or integrated farm management currently offer the best compromise. Malawi, I understand, subsidizes minerals for crop growth and has turned the country from a food importer into a food exporter. That seems an excellent approach at present to solve a pressing problem.

If agroecological approaches can currently match yield that can be attained by using modern farming methods then by all means use it. But if not and my understanding is that currently it cannot, then they should not be the farming method of recommended choice at present.

When Africa has got its population increases under control and producing sufficient to feed everybody then alternatives like agroecology may come to the fore. No-one with any concern for humanity or the welfare of its population should currently consider any other alternative. The groups that campaign for this kind or that kind of farming method and destroy crops to try and bounce others into their point of view have lost that fundamental concern for their own species.

I am not dogmatic about the methods that farmers use since I consider that decision is the province of individual farmers themselves. Whatever their choice is their right in the framework of their country but they must be allowed to make that decision in full knowledge of all the scientific information and advice, not the tiny amount available to support alternative points of view. That is the nature of every democracy that I hope all will finally live under.

Good science is not set in stone or concrete, the current view on GM crops is simply based on the wealth of the factual and reproducible evidence that all good scientists recognise. But if the evidence indicates change then scientists change with it. Why not join those whose job it is to provide farmers and the populace with unbiased evidence constructed by independent university personnel? You have nothing to lose but the constraints of closed thinking and everything to gain that comes from reasoned and open scientific debate.

With my best wishes
Professor Tony Trewavas FRS
University of Edinburgh
Professor Anthony Trewavas FRS. FRSE
Institute of Molecular Plant Science
Mayfield Road
Edinburgh EH9 3JH



Handing The Thieves The Key To Your Home: Stop The TTIP

RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents

Some 375 civil society organisations from across Europe have today called on EU decision-makers to protect citizens, workers, and the environment from threats the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) it poses. The call comes as European Parliament committees are discussing a draft resolution on the TTIP negotiations to be voted upon in May. It will not be legally binding on negotiators but will be a significant political signal, as any final TTIP deal would have to pass a vote in the European Parliament.

In an open letter sent to MEPs today, groups from 25 countries - including trade unions, consumer, environmental, and civil rights organisations - warn that TTIP could strengthen the influence of big business and undermine public services, the protection of public health, the environment, food and workers’ rights.

For a TTIP resolution that puts people and the environment before short-term profit and disproportionate corporate rights, the letter calls on all MEPs to agree on a strong resolution that makes clear that the European Parliament will reject any future trade or investment agreements that will not serve the public interest and threaten important rights acquired by ordinary people in long struggles in the EU, US and the rest of the world.

The letter forwards the following key demands:

1) Transparency now: all documents relating to the TTIP negotiations, including draft consolidated texts, must be made public to allow for an open and critical public debate on the TTIP.

2) A democratic process to allow for the scrutiny and assessment of the negotiation texts and which would ensure that policies are in the public interest.

3) No ISDS: any provision containing Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) mechanisms must be taken permanently out of the negotiations.

4) No regulatory cooperation council: all regulation must be fully in the hands of democratically controlled bodies and processes.

5) No deregulation of standards which safeguard and serve the public interest: EU standards need to be respected and not “harmonised” down to the lowest common denominator.  

6) No further deregulation and privatisation of public services.

7) The promotion of humane and environmentally sustainable agricultural practices and protection of small family farming.

8) Public authorities must keep the political power and structures necessary to protect certain sensitive sectors and safeguard standards important to our quality of life. Internationally-agreed labour and environmental standards must be respected and enforced. The continuous violation of labour standards should be addressed by imposing monetary fines.

Go here to access the open letter (in 11 languages) sent to MEPs today and to see the full list of signatories.

A blatant corporate power grab in secret  

Negotiations over the TTIP are happening behind closed doors, without comprehensive and effective public consultation. The lack of transparency makes it impossible for citizens and civil society to monitor the negotiations in order to ensure that public interests are being protected. Business lobby groups are given privileged access to information and opportunities to influence the negotiations.

The proposed investment protection chapter, particularly the inclusion of an Investor State Dispute Settlement (ISDS) provision, would give investors exclusive rights to sue states when decisions made by public institutions are considered to have negative impacts on their anticipated profits. These mechanisms rely on rulings by tribunals that operate outside the national court systems and thereby undermine national and EU legal systems and existing structures for formulating laws and policies. 

The creation of new governance structures and procedures that aim to ‘harmonise regulations’ like the proposed regulatory cooperation council would make the TTIP and other agreements a moving target, constantly developed in secret by unelected bureaucrats and big businesses. These structures threaten to lower important standards and rules designed for the protection of public interests or prohibit future improvements, regardless of necessity and public mandate.

Evidence from business and industry lobbying documents reveals that the focus on non-tariff barriers and regulatory convergence is being used to push for deregulation, further investment guarantees, intellectual property rights' monopolies and ultimately a race to the bottom.

Pia Eberhardt of lobby-watchdog Corporate Europe Observatory says:

“TTIP is an attempted corporate coup d’etat where big business on both sides of the Atlantic is trying to achieve in secret negotiations what it could not get in open and democratic processes – from watering down food safety standards to rolling back regulations in the financial sector.”

Paul de Clerk of Europe’s largest grassroots environmental network, Friends of the Earth Europe says:

“TTIP is like a Trojan horse. In the end we find out that it results in lower food, environmental, labour standards and the sacrificing of democratic rights for corporate interests. MEPs have to clearly reject the dangerous provisions in TTIP, such as giving corporations vast new powers to sue governments in corporate biased tribunals and regulatory cooperation as the ultimate tool for business lobby groups to stop new regulation.”

More than 1.5 million people in Europe have signed a self-organised European Citizens’ Initiative calling on EU decision-makers to stop the TTIP negotiations and to not ratify the EU-Canada trade deal CETA.

Erich Foglar of the Austrian Trade Union Federation (ÖGB) says:

“Trade unions will not support trade deals that lead to job losses, increase inequalities and undermine democracy. But the negotiation texts and independent studies we see, show that this is exactly what TTIP is about. What we need is a trade policy which respects democracy, helps generate decent jobs and enhances workers’ rights.”

For a thorough outline of the history of the negotiations concerning the TTIP, see 'A Brief History of an Agenda for Corporate Plunder'.

If you want your food poisoned even further with like likes of chlorinated chicken, hormone-treated beef, GMOs and even lower thresholds for pesticides, do nothing.

If you want Monsanto or Syngenta determining policies (more than they do already) in secretive meetings in Brussels, do nothing.

If you want Unilever, Kraft or Nestle determining what is allowed in your food, do nothing.

If you want governments to be made even more spineless and compelled to further bend to the threats, demands and power of corporations and unscrupulous speculators, do nothing.

In the UK, do not let the main parties sideline TTIP during the general election campaign.

Be informed and take action:

https://stop-ttip.org/

http://corporateeurope.org/

http://www.foeeurope.org/

http://www.s2bnetwork.org/

https://www.lobbycontrol.de/schwerpunkt/ttip/

http://www.alter-eu.org/

http://www.tradejustice.ca/take-action/

Handing The Thieves The Key To Your Home: Stop The TTIP

Some 375 civil society organisations from across Europe have today called on EU decision-makers to protect citizens, workers, and the environment from threats the...

Why Do People Doubt Science? Monsanto Wants To Know


RINF, The 4th Media, Countercurrents 12/2/2015, Global Research 13/2/2015, Counterpunch 27/2/2015

On Twitter this week, someone asked the question “Why do people doubt science?” Accompanying the tweet was a link to an article in National Geographic that implied people who are suspicious of vaccines, genetically modified organisms (GMOs), climate change, fluoridated water and various other phenomena are confused, adhere to conspiracy theories, are motivated by ideology or are misinformed as a result of access to the ‘University of Google.’ The remedy, according what is said in the article, is for us all to rely on scientific evidence pertaining to these issues and adopt a ‘scientific method’ of thought and analysis and put irrational thought processes to one side.

Who tweeted the question and posted the link? None other than Robert T Fraley, Monsanto’s Vice President and Chief Technology Officer.

Before addressing that question, it is worth mentioning that science is not the giver of ‘absolute truth’. That in itself should allow us to develop a healthy sceptism towards the discipline. The ‘truth' is a tricky thing to pin down. Scientific knowledge is built on shaky stilts that rest on shifting foundations. Science historian Thomas Kuhn wrote about the revolutionary paradigm shifts in scientific thought, whereby established theoretical perspectives can play the role of secular theology and serve as a barrier to the advancement of knowledge, until the weight of evidence and pressure from proponents of a new theoretical paradigm is overwhelming. Then, at least according to Kuhn, the old faith gives way and a new 'truth' changes.

Philosopher Paul Feyerabend argued that science is not an 'exact science'. The manufacture of scientific knowledge involves a process driven by various sociological, methodological and epistemological conflicts and compromises, both inside the laboratory and beyond. Writers in the field of the sociology of science have written much on this.


But the answer to the question “Why do people doubt science” is not because they have read Kuhn, Feyerabend or some sociology journal. Neither is it because a bunch of ‘irrational’ activists have scared them witless about GM crops or some other issue. It is because they can see how science is used, corrupted and manipulated by powerful corporations to serve their own ends. It is because they regard these large corporations as largely unaccountable and their activities and products not properly regulated by governments.

That’s why so many doubt science - or more precisely the science corporations fund and promote to support their interests.

US sociologist Robert Merton highlighted the underlying norms of science as involving research that is not warped by vested interests, adheres to the common ownership of scientific discoveries (intellectual property) to promote collective collaboration and subjects findings to organised, rigorous critical scrutiny within the scientific community. The concept of originality was added by later writers in order to fully encapsulate the ethos of science: scientific claims must contribute something new to existing discourse. Based on this brief analysis, secrecy, dogma and vested interest have no place.

This is of course a highly idealised version of what science is or should be because in reality careers, reputations, commercial interests and funding issues all serve to undermine these norms.

But if we really want to look at the role of secrecy, dogma and vested interest in full flow, we could take a look at in the sector to which Robert T Fraley belongs.

Last year, US Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack called for “sound science” to underpin food trade between the US and the EU. However, he seems very selective in applying “sound science” to certain issues. Consumer rights groups in the US are pushing for the labelling of GMO foods, but Vilsack said that putting a label on a foodstuff containing a GM product “risks sending a wrong impression that this was a safety issue.”

Despite what Vilsack would have us believe, many scientific studies show that GMOs are indeed a big safety issue and what’s more are also having grave environmental, social and economic consequences (for example, see this and this).

By not wanting to respond to widespread consumer demands to know what they are eating and risk “sending a wrong impression,” Vislack is trying to prevent proper debate about issues that his corporate backers would find unpalatable: profits would collapse if consumers had the choice to reject the GMOs being fed to them. And ‘corporate backers’ must not be taken as a throwaway term here. Big agritech concerns have captured or at the very least seriously compromised key policy and regulatory bodies in the US (see this), Europe (see this), India (see this) and in fact on a global level (see here regarding control of the WTO).

If Robert T Fraley wants to understand why people doubt science, he should consider what Andy Stirling, Professor of Science and Technology Policy at Sussex University, says:

“The main reason some multinationals prefer GM technologies over the many alternatives is that GM offers more lucrative ways to control intellectual property and global supply chains. To sideline open discussion of these issues, related interests are now trying to deny the many uncertainties and suppress scientific diversity. This undermines democratic debate – and science itself.” (see here)

Coming from the GMO biotech industry, or its political mouthpieces, the term “sound science” rings extremely hollow. The industry carries out inadequate, short-term studies and conceals the data produced by its research under the guise of ‘commercial confidentiality’ (see this), while independent research highlights the very serious dangers of its products [see this and this). It has in the past also engaged in fakery in India (see this), bribery in Indonesia (see this ) and smears and intimidation against those who challenge its interests [see this), as well as the distortion and the censorship of science (see this  and this).

With its aim to modify organisms to create patents that will secure ever greater control over seeds, markets and the food supply, the widely held suspicion is that the GMO agritech sector is only concerned with a certain type of science: that which supports these aims. Because if science is held in such high regard by these corporations, why isn't Monsanto proud of its products? Why in the US doesn't it label foods containing GMOs and throw open its science to public scrutiny, instead of veiling it with secrecy, restricting independent research on its products or resorting to unsavoury tactics?

If science is held in such high regard by the GMO agritech sector, why in the US did policy makers release GM food onto the commercial market without proper long-term tests? The argument used to justify this is GM food is ‘substantially equivalent’ to ordinary food. But this is not based on scientific reason. Foreign genes are being inserted into organisms that studies show make them substantially non-equivalent (see this). Substantial equivalence is a trade strategy on behalf of the GM sector that neatly serves to remove its GMOs from the type of scrutiny usually applied to potentially toxic or harmful substances. The attempt to replace processed-based regulation of GMOs in Europe with product-based regulation would result in serving a similar purpose (see this).

The reason why no labelling or testing has taken place in the US is not due to ‘sound science’ having been applied but comes down to the power and political influence of the GMO biotech sector and because a sound scientific approach has not been applied.

The sector cannot win the scientific debate (although its PR likes to tell the world it has) so it resorts to co-opting key public bodies or individuals to propagate various falsehoods and deceptions (see this). Part of the deception is based on emotional blackmail: the world needs GMOs to feed the hungry, both now and in the future. This myth has been blown apart (see thisthis and this). In fact, in the second of those three links, the organisation GRAIN highlights that GM crops that have been planted thus far have actually contributed to food insecurity.

This is a harsh truth that the industry does not like to face.

People’s faith in science is being shaken on many levels, not least because big corporations have secured access to policy makers and governments and are increasingly funding research and setting research agendas.

“As Andrew Neighbour, former administrator at Washington University in St. Louis, who managed the university’s multiyear and multimillion dollar relationship with Monsanto, admits, "There’s no question that industry money comes with strings. It limits what you can do, when you can do it, who it has to be approved by”…  This raises the question: if Agribusiness giant Monsanto [in India] is funding the research, will Indian agricultural researchers pursue such lines of scientific inquiry as “How will this new rice or wheat variety impact the Indian farmer, or health of Indian public?” The reality is, Monsanto is funding the research not for the benefit of either Indian farmer or public, but for its profit. It is paying researchers to ask questions that it is most interested in having answered.” - 'Monsanto, a Contemporary East India Company, and Corporate Knowledge in India'.  

Ultimately, it is not science itself that people have doubts about but science that is pressed into the service of immensely powerful private corporations and regulatory bodies that are effectively co-opted and adopt a ‘don’t look, don’t find approach’ to studies and products (see thisthis  and this).

Or in the case of releasing GMOs onto the commercial market in the US, bypassing proper scientific procedures and engaging in doublespeak about ‘substantial equivalence’ then hypocritically calling for 'sound science' to inform debates.

The same corporate interests are moreover undermining the peer-review process itself and the ability of certain scientists to get published in journals - the benchmark of scientific credibility. In effect, powerful interests increasingly hold sway over funding, career progression as a scientist, journals and peer review (see this and this, which question the reliability of peer review in the area of GMOs).

Going back to the start of the piece, the question that should have been tweeted is: “Why do people doubt corporate-controlled or influenced science?” After that question, it would have been more revealing to have posted a link to this article here about the unscrupulous history of a certain company from St Louis. That history provides very good reason why so many doubt and challenge powerful corporations and the type of science they fund and promote (or attempt to suppress) and the type of world they seek to create (see this).

“Corporations as the dominant institution shaped by capitalist patriarchy thrive on eco-apartheid. They thrive on the Cartesian legacy of dualism which puts nature against humans. It defines nature as female and passively subjugated. Corporatocentrism is thus also androcentric – a patriarchal construction. The false universalism of man as conqueror and owner of the Earth has led to the technological hubris of geo-engineering, genetic engineering, and nuclear energy. It has led to the ethical outrage of owning life forms through patents, water through privatization, the air through carbon trading. It is leading to appropriation of the biodiversity that serves the poor.” Vandana Shiva


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So You Want A Thatcherite Revolution? Free Trade, Corporate Plunder And The War On...

Countercurrents 12/6/2014, Global Research 13/6/2014, The 4th Media 15/6/2014

Prior to the recent national elections in India, there were calls for a Thatcherite revolution to fast-track the country towards privatisation and neo-liberalism (1). Under successive Thatcher-led governments in the eighties, however, inequalities skyrocketed in Britain (2) and economic growth was no better than in the seventies (3).

Traditional manufacturing was decimated and international finance became the bedrock of the ‘new’ economy. Jobs disappeared over the horizon to cheap labour economies, corporations bought up public utilities, the rich got richer and many of Britain’s towns and cities in its former industrial heartland became shadows of their former selves. Low paid, insecure, non-unionised labour is now the norm and unemployment and underemployment are rife. Destroying ordinary people’s livelihoods was done in the name of ‘the national interest’. Destroying industry was done in the name of ‘efficiency’.


In 2010, 28 percent of the UK workforce, some 10.6 million people, either did not have a job, or had stopped looking for one (4). And that figure was calculated before many public sector jobs were slashed under the lie of ‘austerity’.

   

Today, much of the mainstream political and media rhetoric revolves around the need to create jobs, facilitate ‘free’ trade, ensure growth and make ‘the nation’ competitive. The endless, tedious mantra says ordinary people have to be ‘flexible’, ‘tighten their belts, expect to do a ‘fair day’s work for a fair day’s pay’ and let the market decide. This creates jobs. This fuels ‘growth’. Unfortunately, it does neither. What we have is austerity. What we have is an on-going economic crisis, a huge national debt, rule by profligate bankers and corporate entities and mass surveillance to keep ordinary people in check.


So what might the future hold? Unfortunately, more of the same.


The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership


The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (formerly TAFTA) being negotiated between the EU and US is intended to be the biggest trade deal in history. The EU and US together account for 40 percent of global economic output. The European Commission tries to sell the deal to the public by claiming that the agreement will increase GDP by one percent and will entail massive job creation.


However, these claims are not supported even by its own studies, which predict a growth rate of just 0.01 percent GDP over the next ten years and the potential loss of jobs in several sectors, including agriculture. Corporations are lobbying EU-US trade negotiators to use the deal to weaken food safety, labour, health and environmental standards and undermine digital rights (5). Negotiations are shrouded in secrecy (6) and are being driven by corporate interests (7). And the outcome could entail the bypassing of democratic processes in order to push through corporate-friendly policies (8). The proposed agreement represents little more than a corporate power grab.


It should come as little surprise that this is the case. Based on a recent report, the European Commission’s trade and investment policy reveals a bunch of unelected technocrats who care little about what ordinary people want and negotiate on behalf of big business. The Commission has eagerly pursued a corporate agenda and has pushed for policies in sync with the interests of big business. It is effectively a captive but willing servant of a corporate agenda. Big business has been able to translate its massive wealth into political influence to render the European Commission a “disgrace to the democratic traditions of Europe” (9).


This proposed trade agreement (and others like it being negotiated across the world) is based on a firm belief in ‘the market’ (a euphemism for subsidies for the rich, cronyism, rigging and cartels) and the intense dislike of state intervention and state provision of goods and services. The ‘free market’ doctrine that underpins this belief attempts to convince people that nations can prosper by having austerity imposed on them and by embracing neo-liberalism and ‘free’ trade. This is a smokescreen that the financial-corporate elites hide behind while continuing to enrich themselves and secure taxpayer handouts, whether in the form of bank bailouts or other huge amounts of corporate dole (10).


In much of the West, the actual reality of neo-liberalism and the market is stagnating or declining wages in real terms, high levels of personal debt and a permanent underclass, while the rich and their corporations to rake in record profits and salt away wealth in tax havens.


Corporate plunder in India 


Thatcher was a handmaiden of the rich (11). Her role was to destroy ‘subversive’ or socialist tendencies within Britain and to shatter the post-1945 Keynesian consensus based on full employment, fairness and a robust welfare state. She tilted the balance of power in favour of elite interests by embarking on a pro-privatisation, anti-trade union/anti-welfare state policy agenda. Sections of the public regarded Thatcher as a strong leader who would get things done, where others before her had been too weak and dithered. In India, Narendra Modi has been portrayed in a similar light.


His newly elected government is expected to move ahead with pro-market reforms that others dragged their feet on. To date, India has experienced a brand of ‘neo-liberalism lite’. Yet what we have seen thus far has been state-backed violence and human rights abuses to ‘secure’ tribal areas for rich foreign and Indian corporations, increasing inequalities, more illicit money than ever pouring into Swiss bank accounts, massive corruption and cronyism (12).


With a new administration in place, can we now expect to witness an accelerated ‘restructuring’ of agriculture in favour of Western agribusiness? Will more farmers be forced from their land on behalf of commercial interests? Officialdom wants to depopulate rural areas by shifting over 600 million to cities (13). It begs the question: in an age of increasing automation, how will hundreds of millions of agriculture sector workers earn their livelihoods once they have left the land?


What type of already filthy and overburdened urban centres can play host to such a gigantic mass of humanity who were deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ in rural India and will possibly be (indeed, already are) deemed ‘surplus to requirements’ once in the cities?     


Gandhi stated that the future of India lies in its villages. Rural society was regarded as India’s bedrock. But now that bedrock is being dug up. Global agritech companies have been granted license to influence key aspects of agriculture by controlling seeds and chemical inputs and by funding and thus distorting the biotech research agenda and aspects of overall development policy (14,15).


Part of that ‘development’ agenda is based on dismantling the Public Distribution System for food. Policy analyst Devinder Sharma notes that the government may eventually stop supporting farmers by doing away with the system of announcing the minimum support price for farmers and thereby reduce the subsidy outgo. He argues that farmers would be encouraged to grow cash crops for supermarkets and to ‘compete’ in a market based on trade policies that work in favour of big landowners and heavily subsidised Western agriculture.


By shifting towards a commercialised system that would also give the poor cash to buy food in the market place, rather than the almost half a million ‘ration shops’ that currently exist, the result will be what the WTO/ World Bank/IMF have been telling India to for a long time: to displace the farming population so that agribusiness can find a stronghold in India (16).


We need only look at what happened to the soy industry in India during the nineties (17), or the recent report by GRAIN (18), to see how small farmers are forced from their land to benefit powerful global agritech. If it cannot be achieved by unfair trade policies and other duplicitous practices, it is achieved by repression and violence, as Helena Paul notes:


“Repression and displacement, often violent, of remaining rural populations, illness, falling local food production have all featured in this picture. Indigenous communities have been displaced and reduced to living on the capital's rubbish dumps. This is a crime that we can rightly call genocide - the extinguishment of entire Peoples, their culture, their way of life and their environment.” (19)
Although Helena Paul is referring to the situation in Paraguay, what she describes could well apply to India or elsewhere.

In addition, the current secretive corporate-driven free trade agreement being negotiated between the EU and India could fundamentally restructure Indian society in favour of Western corporate interests and adversely impact hundreds of millions and their livelihoods and traditional ways of living (20). And as with the proposed US-EU agreement, powerful transnational corporations would be able to by-pass national legislation that was implemented to safeguard the public’s rights. Governments could be sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of national courts if laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments (21).


A massive shift in power and wealth from poor to rich


Current negotiations over ‘free’ trade agreements have little to do with free trade. They are more concerned with loosening regulatory barriers and bypassing democratic processes to allow large corporations to destroy competition and siphon off wealth to the detriment of smaller, locally based firms and producers.  


The planet’s super rich comprise a global elite (22). It is not a unified elite. But whether based in China, Russia or India, its members have to varying extents been incorporated into the Anglo-American system of trade and finance. For them, the ability to ‘do business’ is what matters, not national identity or the ability to empathise with someone toiling in a field who happened to be born on the same land mass. And in order 'to do business', government machinery has been corrupted and bent to serve their ends. In turn, organisations that were intended to be ‘by’ and ‘for’ ordinary working people have been successfully infiltrated and dealt with (23).


The increasing global takeover of agriculture by powerful agribusiness, the selling off of industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports and airports, and secretive corporate-driven trade agreements represent a massive corporate heist of wealth and power across the world. Through their financial institutions and corporate entities, the world’s super rich regard ‘nations’ as population holding centres to be exploited whereby people are stripped of control of their livelihoods for personal gain. Whether it concerns rich oligarchs in the US or India’s billionaire business men, corporate profits and personal gain trump any notion of the ‘national interest’.


Still want a Thatcherite revolution?



Notes


























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Public Health Experts Identify Militarism As Threat

A remarkable article appears in the June 2014 issue of the American Journal of Public Health.  (Also available as free PDF here.)

The authors, experts in public health, are listed with all their academic credentials: William H. Wiist, DHSc, MPH, MS, Kathy Barker, PhD, Neil Arya, MD, Jon Rohde, MD, Martin Donohoe, MD, Shelley White, PhD, MPH, Pauline Lubens, MPH, Geraldine Gorman, RN, PhD, and Amy Hagopian, PhD.

Some highlights and commentary:

"In 2009 the American Public Health Association (APHA) approved the policy statement, 'The Role of Public Health Practitioners, Academics, and Advocates in Relation to Armed Conflict and War.' . . . In response to the APHA policy, in 2011, a working group on Teaching the Primary Prevention of War, which included the authors of this article, grew . . . ."

"Since the end of World War II, there have been 248 armed conflicts in 153 locations around the world. The United States launched 201 overseas military operations between the end of World War II and 2001, and since then, others, including Afghanistan and Iraq. During the 20th century, 190 million deaths could be directly and indirectly related to war -- more than in the previous 4 centuries."

These facts, footnoted in the article, are more useful than ever in the face of the current academic trend in the United States of proclaiming the death of war. By re-categorizing many wars as other things, minimizing death counts, and viewing deaths as proportions of the global population rather than of a local population or as absolute numbers, various authors have tried to claim that war is vanishing.  Of course, war could and should vanish, but that is only likely to happen if we find the drive and the resources to make it happen.

"The proportion of civilian deaths and the methods for classifying deaths as civilian are debated, but civilian war deaths constitute 85% to 90% of casualties caused by war, with about 10 civilians dying for every combatant killed in battle. The death toll (mostly civilian) resulting from the recent war in Iraq is contested, with estimates of 124,000 to 655,000 to more than
a million, and finally most recently settling on roughly a half million. Civilians have been targeted for death and for sexual violence in some contemporary conflicts. Seventy percent to 90% of the victims of the 110 million landmines planted since 1960 in 70 countries were civilians."

This, too, is critical, as a top defense of war is that it must be used to prevent something worse, called genocide. Not only does militarism generate genocide rather than preventing it, but the distinction between war and genocide is a very fine one at best. The article goes on to cite just some of the health effects of war, of which I will cite just some highlights:

"The World Health Organization (WHO) Commission on the Social Determinants of Health pointed out that war affects children's health, leads to displacement and migration, and diminishes agricultural productivity. Child and maternal mortality, vaccination rates, birth outcomes, and water quality and sanitation are worse in conflict zones. War has contributed to preventing eradication of polio, may facilitate the spread of HIV/ AIDS, and has decreased availability of health professionals. In addition, landmines cause psychosocial and physical consequences, and pose a threat to food security by rendering agricultural land useless. . . .

"Approximately 17,300 nuclear weapons are presently deployed in at least 9 countries (including 4300 US and Russian operational warheads, many of which can be launched and reach their targets within 45 minutes). Even an accidental missile launch could lead to the greatest global public health disaster in recorded history.

"Despite the many health effects of war, there are no grant funds from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or the National Institutes of Health devoted to the prevention of war, and most schools of public health do not include the prevention of war in the curriculum."

Now, there is a huge gap in our society that I bet most readers hadn't noticed, despite its perfect logic and obvious importance! Why should public health professionals be working to prevent war? The authors explain:

"Public health professionals are uniquely qualified for involvement in the prevention of war on the basis of their skills in epidemiology; identifying risk and protective factors; planning, developing, monitoring, and evaluating prevention strategies; management of programs and services; policy analysis and development; environmental assessment and remediation; and health advocacy. Some public health workers have knowledge of the effects of war from personal exposure to violent conflict or from working with patients and communities in armed conflict situations. Public health also provides a common ground around which many disciplines are willing to come together to form alliances for the prevention of war. The voice of public health is often heard as a force for public good.
 Through regular collection and review of health indicators public health can provide early warnings of the risk for violent conflict. Public health can also describe the health effects of war, frame the discussion about wars and their funding . . .  and expose the militarism that often leads to armed conflict and incites public fervor for war."

About that militarism. What is it?

"Militarism is the deliberate extension of military objectives and rationale into shaping the culture, politics, and economics of civilian life so that war and the preparation for war is normalized, and the development and maintenance of strong military institutions is prioritized. Militarism is an excessive reliance on
a strong military power and the threat of force as a legitimate means of pursuing policy goals in difficult international relations. It glorifies warriors, gives strong allegiance to the military as the ultimate guarantor of freedom and safety, and reveres military morals and ethics as being above criticism. Militarism instigates civilian society's adoption of military concepts, behaviors, myths, and language as its own. Studies show that militarism is positively correlated with conservatism, nationalism, religiosity, patriotism, and with an authoritarian personality, and negatively related to respect for civil liberties, tolerance of dissent, democratic principles, sympathy and welfare toward the troubled and poor, and foreign aid for poorer nations. Militarism subordinates other societal interests, including health, to the interests of the military."

And does the United States suffer from it?

"Militarism is intercalated into many aspects of life in the United States and, since the military draft was eliminated, makes few overt demands of the public except the costs in taxpayer funding. Its expression, magnitude, and implications have become invisible to a large proportion of the civilian population, with little recognition of the human costs or the negative image held by other countries. Militarism has been called a 'psychosocial disease,' making it amenable to population-wide interventions. . . .

"The United States is responsible for 41% of the world's total military spending. The next largest in spending are China, accounting for 8.2%; Russia, 4.1%; and the United Kingdom and France, both 3.6%. . . . If all military . . . costs are included, annual [US] spending amounts to $1 trillion . . . . According to the DOD fiscal year 2012 base structure report, 'The DOD manages global property of more than 555,000 facilities at more than 5,000 sites, covering more than 28 million acres.' The United States maintains 700 to 1000 military bases or sites in more than 100 countries. . . .

"In 2011 the United States ranked first in worldwide conventional weapons sales, accounting for 78% ($66 billion). Russia was second with $4.8 billion. . . .

"In 2011-2012, the top-7 US arms producing and service companies contributed $9.8 million to federal election campaigns. Five of the top-10 [military] aerospace corporations in the world (3 US, 2 UK and Europe) spent $53 million lobbying the US government in 2011. . . .

"The main source of young recruits is the US public school system, where recruiting focuses on rural and impoverished youths, and thus forms an effective poverty draft that is invisible to most middle- and upper-class families. . . . In contradiction of the United States' signature on the Optional Protocol on the Involvement of Children in Armed Conflict treaty, the military recruits minors in public high schools, and does not inform students or parents of their right to withhold home contact information. The Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery is given in public high schools as a career aptitude test and is compulsory in many high schools, with students' contact information forwarded to the military, except in Maryland where the state legislature mandated that schools no longer automatically forward the information."

Public health advocates also lament the tradeoffs in types of research the United States invests in:

"Resources consumed by military . . . research, production, and services divert human expertise away from other societal needs. The DOD is the largest funder of research and development in the federal government. The National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention allocate large amounts of funding to programs such as 'BioDefense.' . . . The lack of other funding sources drives some researchers to pursue military or security funding, and some subsequently become desensitized to the influence of the military. One leading university in the United Kingdom recently announced, however, it would end its £1.2 million investment in
a . . . company that makes components for lethal US drones because it said the business was not 'socially responsible.'"

Even in President Eisenhower's day, militarism was pervasive: "The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual -- is felt in every city, every statehouse, every office of the federal government." The disease has spread:

"The militaristic ethic and methods have extended into the civilian law enforcement and justice systems. . . .

"By promoting military solutions to political problems and portraying military action as inevitable, the military often influences news media coverage, which in turn, creates public acceptance of war or a fervor for war. . . ."

The authors describe programs that are beginning to work on war prevention from a public health perspective, and they conclude with recommendations for what should be done. Take a look.

read more

Influence of lobbyists exposed by government adviser

Tamasin Cave A businessman who spent a year as an adviser to the UK government has revealed his shock at the influence and access lobbyists have...

The GMO Biotech Sector Can’t Win The Scientific Debate: Co-option, Deception And Collusion As...


Global Research and Countercurrents 11/5/2014

British Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Secretary Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of the GM sector (1). Despite criticisms of him being an industry puppet (2) and content to ignore the devastating, deleterious health, environmental, social and agricultural impacts of GMOs (3), both he and other officials like the EU’s chief science advisor Anne Glover (4) have been more than happy to act as mouthpieces for the GM sector by making false statements and claims about the benefits and safety of GMOs that fly in the face of scientific findings.

Paterson’s support for GMOs is being carried out in partnership with a number of institutions, including the Agricultural Biotechnology Council (ABC), which is backed by GM companies such as Monsanto, Syngenta and Bayer CropScience (5).


Evidence recently emerged of meetings and briefings involving ministers and the ABC and its industry backers, despite no such meetings with groups worried about the impact of GM on human health and the countryside. In response, GeneWatch UK made a Freedom of Information request to find out what was said at the briefings.Paterson’s department refused to give details. GeneWatch lodged a formal complaint with the Information Commissioner in the hope that ministers will be forced to admit how GM companies are driving government policy. The evidence strongly suggested that the Government is colluding with the GM industry to manipulate the media and plot the return of GM crops to Britain.


Paterson’s department refused to provide details of a telephone conference between the department and the ABC on June 10 last year. Ten days later, Paterson made a speech calling for opposition to be dropped and claiming GM crops and food were ‘probably safer’ than the conventional equivalent. It also refused to release a “message on media suggestions” sent by the ABC to the ministry last April, or details of discussions between Monsanto and the ministry two months before. In addition, his ministry would not provide details of a meeting and emails between former environment minister David Heath and the ABC.


However, details of certain emails have now been made public. They reveal what the veil of secrecy is trying to hide and what many strongly suspected: collusion between the government and the GM sector is rife.


The emails between civil servants and the GM industry reveal how the two developed a media strategy to convince the public about the merits of GM food. Writing on the Mail Online website (6), Sean Poulter notes that the email contacts were part of a wider strategy designed to relax European regulations on growing GM crops and spend millions of taxpayers’ money on GM research in British fields. Owen Paterson has pushed for faster approval of new crops and lobbying for public support and has lobbied the EU to allow biotech crops to be planted in Britain even if they are banned elsewhere.


Poulter argues that such support represents a coup for the GM industry and follows a meeting with ministers and researchers in 2012 which came up with a series of ‘to do’ lists.


The GM sector is working to get its products into Britain by infiltrating or creating institutions and co-opting strategically placed politicians and officials in order to influence decision making and manipulate public perception about GM crops. The ABC has been central in influencing government policy. Indeed, Poulter notes that email exchanges often coincided with major announcements by ministers, which shifted government policy in support of GM crops.

Civil servants hosted a meeting with industry leaders in June 2013 to decide how to present the government’s agri-tech strategy. Officials at the Business, Innovations and Skills (BIS) department even emailed the ABC asking for advice on how to promote the policy. Poulter writes that one BIS official asked for “any ideas you may have that will showcase agri-tech – as you are aware it will need to be eye-catching but reflect the main themes of the strategy.”


BIS also created a list of journalists and influential people who should be targeted with information about the new strategy and asked the ABC if it wanted to add any names or flag up “potential pitfalls.” The ABC responded by adding some names, but it also highlighted a number of journalists on the list who had been critical of GM.


The GM sector - via Paterson and his Environment, Food and Rural Affairs department, the BIS, the ABC, the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Science and Technology in Agriculture (7), strategically placed scientists with their ‘independent’ reports (8) and the industry-backed Science Media Centre (9) - is mounting a full-fledged assault on Britain.


Its strategy also involves an ongoing attempt to get GM food into the EU via the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP/TAFTA), which is also shrouded in secrecy. The negotiations for this treaty are backed by the US GM sector: it is aimed at dismantling regulations on behalf of big corporations, bypassing democratic procedures and threatening governments with legal action (10-14).


The majority of the British public who express a view on GM food do not want it (15). However, we are experiencing a consistent, multi-pronged attack on democracy that seeks to distort the debate over the GM issue, hijack institutions, co-opt so-called ‘public servants’ and pass off vested commercial interests as the ‘public good’.


The GM sector will only get its products into Britain (and elsewhere) if its institutions and mouthpieces in government, academia and the media are left unchallenged. Part of the strategy involves counting on a misinformed and easily manipulated public.


Be informed and take action:





Notes   



















Kiev Losing Control?

Kiev Losing Control?

by Stephen Lendman

Growing thousands of Eastern Ukrainians reject Kiev putschists. Perhaps it's just a matter of time before Western ones join them.

Slavyansk is in the center of the storm. Ukrainian military forces blockaded the city. On Friday, an assault followed. Minimum casualties so far.

A self-defense force press statement said:

"The attack is targeting a few checkpoints at the same time." 

"A few armored vehicles and airborne combat vehicles arrived and airborne troops descended from the helicopters and attacked the checkpoints. Some forces were dropped off around the train station, where we didn't have anyone."

Ukraine's Interior Ministry said 10 self-defense forces checkpoints were seized. Slavyansk's broadcast facility was captured. So was a police station.

A Ukrainian Ministry statement said:

"Outside of Slavyansk in the Donetsk Region, two Ukrainian military Mi-24 helicopters, which were carrying out aerial patrols, were downed." 

"According to preliminary information, the military machines were taken down by unidentified individuals using mobile Zenit rocket systems." 

"As a result, two military personnel were killed and several others have been injured."

Reports said a third helicopter was damaged. At midday Friday local time, Itar Tass reported two Ukrainian soldiers killed. 

Several others wounded. One self-defender dead. Another injured.

Russian TV news channel Rossiya-24 reported a third Ukrainain military helicopter downed. An explosion destroyed it. Its crew's fate is unclear.

Eastern Ukrainian freedom fighters vow continued resistance. Growing thousands fill their ranks. They're challenging US-supported illegitimate coup-appointed fascists.

They reject their authority. They control over a dozen Eastern Ukrainian cities. They want Ukraine federalized. They want local autonomy. They want fundamental rights everyone deserves.

Kiev is incrementally losing control. Elements of its military reject them. They refused to fight their own people. Fascist Right Sector thugs were deployed to do so. Foreign mercenaries joined them.

On Friday, a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said:

 "We decisively demand that the West stop its destructive policies in regard to Ukraine and to those who have announced themselves the authorities in Kiev to immediately stop the punitive operation and any violence against its own people, to release political prisoners, and to provide complete freedom to journalists in their activities."

"Russia is concerned over the beginning of a punitive military operation in Slaviansk using terrorists from the Right Sector and other ultranationalist organizations."

"As we have repeatedly warned, the use of the army against its own people is a crime and will lead Ukraine to a catastrophe."

Attacking Slavyansk militarily bears close watching. Resistance weakens Kiev control. It may end up lost altogether.

Power depends of people accepting it. Otherwise it's too weak to govern effectively. Perhaps its days are numbered. 

Most likely if Eastern Ukrainian resistance spreads nationwide. For sure if it's full-blown. It may just be a matter of time.

Fascists make more enemies than friends. IMF force-fed austerity heads Ukraine for Greek-style Depression. 

Ukrainians are deeply impoverished. Hitting them harder assures inciting widespread anger. People take so much before rebelling. When pain thresholds exceed tolerable levels, all bets are lost.

According to Gerald Celente: "When people lose everything and have nothing else to lose, they lose it." Revolutions erupt this way. 

Perhaps in Ukraine. Perhaps challenging Kiev putschists effectively. Perhaps letting people power prevail. Perhaps reclaiming Obama's imperial trophy. The fullness of time will tell.

On Friday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel arrived in Washington. Ukrainian crisis conditions dominated discussions. 

On May 2, the Wall Street Journal headlined "German Businesses Urge Halt on Sanctions Against Russia," saying:

Merkel arrived with a message. "…Germany's business lobby to the White House: No more sanctions. Major companies oppose them." 

They include financial giant Deutsche Bank, Siemens AG, BASF SE, Volkswagon and Adidas AG among others.

They "made their opposition to broader economic sanctions against Russia clear in recent weeks, both in public and in private," said the Journal.

Germany is Russia's largest European trade partner. Annual volume exceeds $100 billion. Berlin is heavily dependent on Russian natural gas and oil. So is Europe overall.

According to the Journal:

"As the Ukraine crisis has worsened, German officials have faced a barrage of telephone calls from senior corporate executives, urging them not to take steps that would damage business interests in Russia, people familiar with the matter say."

Some German corporate bosses went public. They warned against harsher measures.

Former Daimler AG official Eckhard Cordes heads Ostauschuss. It's German industry's Eastern Europe lobbying arm. He spoke for corporate Germany, saying:

"If there's a single message we have as business leaders, then it's this: sit down at the negotiating table and resolve these matters peacefully."

BASF has close ties to Russia's gas giant Gazprom. Its CEO Kurt Bock said:

"It's up to politicians and historians to determine the efficacy of boycotts, but I have my doubts."

Many German companies depend heavily on business with Russia. It's a key growth market. It provides substantial revenue and profits.

US companies do far less business. They voiced concerns privately. They worry about losing sales to foreign competitors.

Other US allies reject harsh measures. They include Japan, Italy, Greece, Egypt, and Israel among others. They voiced concern about permanently rupturing Russia's Western ties.

Germany has clout. It's Europe's largest economy. It's an economic powerhouse.

Around 6,200 German companies do business in 
Russia. They oppose political interference. Lost trade means thousands of lost jobs, they say.

According to German economist Klaus-Jurgen Gem:

"There's no question that Germany's economic interests would be best served by avoiding sanctions."

Imposing tough ones could slow German economic growth by up to 2%, he added. Berlin estimates as many as 300,000 lost jobs.

On April 30, Der Spiegel headlined "Little Love for Sanctions: Ukraine Crisis A Tightrope Walk for German Businesses," saying:

Longstanding "economic ties make disengagement next to impossible." On the one hand, EU governments warned Russia of "additional and far-reaching" sanctions.

On the other, they're reluctant to impose them. They cut both ways. They hurt European sales and profit. They harm their economies. 

According to Spiegel, "politicians appear to be having a difficult time agreeing to far-reaching and painful sanctions, given Europe's energy dependence on Russia." 

"The business community…has no interest in such punitive measures."

According to lobbyist Eckhard Cordes, "(w)e won't let the constructive work of the last decades be ruined for us."

Hundreds of German business officials feel the same way. For sure many throughout Europe and America.

According to BASF executive Rainer Seele, "(t)he Russians are dependable allies."

"Embargoes don't do anything for anyone. We shouldn't be frivolously be putting years of built-up trust in jeopardy."

German exports already suffered. In January and February, they're down 10% year-over-year. Russian state-owned companies began shifting to Asian suppliers.

Expect much more of the same ahead. Expect it whether or not tougher sanctions are imposed. Russia is defensively shifting East.

Later in May, Putin heads for Beijing. Consummating a major gas deal is planned. It involves supplying 38 billion cubic meters of natural gas annually. 

It'll do so via pipeline. It's the first one between both nations. It's expected to cost about $22 billion to complete.

When fully implemented, energy trade will bypass dollar transactions. It'll weaken petrodollar strength. 

Bilateral ruble/renminbi trade weakens dollar strength overall. Perhaps other countries may follow in their own currencies. 

Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping will discuss increasing other bilateral trade. It includes timber and military contracts.

In 2013, China was Russia's largest trade partner. Moscow is Beijing's ninth. Both countries want closer economic ties. 

Establishing them weakens Western interests. Sino/Russian unity provides a powerful counterweight to US-led Western economic, political and military dominance.

According to Analysis of Strategies and Technologies' Vasily Kashin:

“The worse Russia's relations are with the West, the closer Russia will want to be to China. If China supports you, no one can say you're isolated."

Both countries know Washington wants them weakened and controlled. Unity goes a long way toward preventing it.

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

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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




























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Spotlight shines on Palestinian collaborators

Al-Jazeera - 17 February 2014

Fadi al-Qatshan is one of the latest casualties of a war taking place in Gaza’s shadows, as Israel seeks ever more desperate ways to recruit collaborators while Hamas, the Islamic movement ruling Gaza, enforces tough counter-measures.

The 26-year-old graduate died in November. He was killed not by a bullet or in a missile strike, but when a simple piece of medical hardware – an implant in his heart – failed. His repeated requests to the Israeli authorities over more than a year to be allowed out of Gaza for medical treatment had gone unheeded.

According to his family, Israeli security services knew his life was in danger but denied him a permit to attend a medical appointment at a hospital in East Jerusalem. Gaza’s own hospitals, in crisis after years of Israel’s blockade, warned him they could no longer help.

Following a request for a travel permit, his family says al-Qatshan received a call from someone identifying himself as from the Shin Bet, Israel’s intelligence service. Speaking in Arabic, the man said he knew the device in his heart “might explode any minute”. He was urged to “cooperate” in return for a permit.

Al-Qatshan was told he could call the mobile phone number on his screen and arrange an appointment at Erez, the Israeli-controlled crossing that is the only way for ordinary Palestinians to exit Gaza. The agent reportedly rang off with the words, “See you in Tel Aviv”, Israel’s large coastal city. Al-Qatshan sealed his fate by deleting the number.

‘Terrible choices’

Issam Yunis, director of Al-Mezan human rights organisation in Gaza City, says his group regularly records cases of Palestinians in desperate need of medical treatment being approached to collaborate. “The choice for these patients is really a terrible one. It is to cooperate with Israel or die in Gaza.”

Although Israel is suspected of recruiting tens of thousands of Palestinians as collaborators since its creation in 1948, the practice has rarely attracted more than superficial attention. Palestinians are ashamed that cooperation with the Israeli security services is widespread, while Israel is loath to draw attention to the systematic violations of international law at the root of its system of rule in the occupied territories.

But the issue of collaboration is finally emerging from the shadows, assisted in recent months by a spate of films addressing the subject.

In the running for an Oscar at the Academy Awards ceremony next month is Omar, a Palestinian film that places the awful dilemmas faced by collaborators at the heart of its love story.

Omar nudged out of the competition Israel’s own entry, Bethlehem, which features a similar story about the fraught relationship between a Shin Bet agent and a young Palestinian informant.

And last month the audience award at the Sundance Festival went to the Green Prince, an Israeli documentary based on the memoirs of Mosab Hassan Yousef, son of a Hamas leader in Gaza who channeled information to the Shin Bet for 10 years before fleeing to the United States. His father, Sheikh Hassan Yousef, was recently released from an Israeli prison.

With Palestinian collaborators a hot topic in Hollywood, they are also in the spotlight in the occupied territories.

A missile strike that killed Hamas military leader Ahmed Jabari in November 2012 – the opening salvo in Israel’s eight-day attack on Gaza known as Operation Pillar of Defence – has been widely ascribed to intelligence provided by a collaborator.

In response, Hamas carried out public executions of several suspected informants in the streets of Gaza City, including dragging the body of one behind a motorbike.

‘Tightly classified’

According to Hillel Cohen, who has researched Israel’s recruitment of collaborators since the state’s earliest years, the extent of the problem is difficult to assess. Israel keeps most of the archives on its intelligence operations in the occupied territories “tightly classified”.

The use of collaborators, he says, was probably most extensive in the 1970s and ’80s, before Israel handed over areas of the occupied territories to the Palestinian Authority under the Oslo Accords and before the advent of today’s more sophisticated surveillance technology.

Nonetheless, the practice has far from ended.

“Israel still needs people on the ground,” says Cohen. “If they want to place a bomb in a car or supply a phone with a hidden tracking device, someone has to do it. The technology can only help so much.”

According to Saleh Abdel Jawwad, a politics professor at Bir Zeit University in the West Bank, there are many different types of collaborators.

In East Jerusalem, for example, where Israel hopes to prevent any future Palestinian control of the city, a feature of life are the “land dealers”, Palestinians who buy land in strategic areas, secretly on behalf of settler organisations.

Israel also uses economic collaborators, who, for example, act as contractors for Israel in selling its products in the occupied territories. Israel has also tried to recruit political collaborators, in an effort to place them in charge of Palestinian communities or weaken candidates Israel opposed.

But Israel prizes most highly the recruitment of active members of Palestinian national organisations, who can provide reliable information on resistance operations or the movements of Palestinian leaders.

Typically, these collaborators are “turned” after their arrest. They may agree to cooperate under torture or as a way to receive a reduced prison sentence, said Morad Jadalah, a researcher with Addameer, a prisoners’ rights organisation in the West Bank city of Ramallah.

Children recruited

But the most common type of collaborator is the informant, who provides general information about the activities of political groups or the movement of individual activists, as well as the names of those taking part in demonstrations.

Jadalah says when Palestinians are arrested, as they try to cross a checkpoint or during a raid on their village, the weakest and most vulnerable – often children – are targeted during interrogation with a mix of threats, violence and inducements.

Long jail terms and the use of administrative detention – imprisonment on secret charges – are the most obvious threats, but there are other ways to pressure Palestinians in detention, says Jadalah.

“The interrogators may beat them, or threaten to beat or rape their mother or sister, or arrest a close relative. They usually already know something about the family, so they can threaten, for example, to revoke the father’s work permit. They may even threaten to spread rumours that the family are already acting as informants.”

In other cases, the Israeli security services may offer inducements. “Israel controls most people’s lives, including their ability to work and move around. Between 30 and 40 per cent of adults are unemployed. That gives Israel the leverage it needs to recruit collaborators.”

According to Jadalah, the Israeli security services usually want general information about the neighbourhood where the collaborator lives, or details about a specific person.

Reports suggest in recent years the Shin Bet has been using arrested children to gain information about the leaders of non-violent resistance movements in the West Bank. They have shown special interest in villages such as Bilin, Nabi Saleh and Budrus where well-publicised protests are trying to stop Israel’s efforts to build the separation barrier on Palestinian land.

Cohen says the benefit to Israel of controlling an extensive network of collaborators is not limited to the information they pass on.

“It encourages the atomisation of Palestinian society. It fosters mistrust within the society and between members of the political movements. When everyone becomes a potential suspect, political passivity is encouraged. That is, in fact, the main goal.”

‘Infiltrated society’

Yunis, of Al-Mezan, agrees: “We are an infiltrated society. When there is so much suspicion, organised and effective resistance to the occupation becomes extremely hard.”

In addition, Jadalah blames the Palestinian Authority for setting a bad example. “When it is clear that our leaders are working with Israel on ‘security cooperation’ and that they look to Israel for protection, a very powerful message is sent to Palestinian society that only Israel can offer such guarantees.”

Hamas, apparently fearful of its inability to organise in the face of extensive collaboration, has officially waged war on Gaza’s informants.

Early last year it offered a brief amnesty to existing collaborators, many of them recruited before Israel’s 2005 disengagement, allowing them to turn themselves in in return for lenient sentences and financial help for their families. However, it has vowed a policy of zero tolerance since.

Faced with a shrinking pool of collaborators in Gaza, says Yunis, Israel has increased its use of electronic surveillance, especially drones. But it has sought new ways to recruit collaborators too.

That includes exploiting increased opportunities to reach Palestinians in Gaza indirectly, through social media. In particular, youngsters, often those without jobs or whose families are in dire need, are approached via Facebook or receive a call to their mobile phone.

“The caller might introduce himself as a businessman and says he can help them to get a permit out of Gaza. Once they attend the meeting, they are ensnared,” says Yunis.

Fishermen are also reported to have been targeted since Israel tightly limited the extent of the waters they are allowed to fish. When they cross out of that zone, they can be picked up by a naval patrol and taken for interrogation in Israel. There they can be pressured to turn informant.

‘Desperate’ situation

But the most wrenching cases, says Hamdi Shaqura, director of the Palestinian Centre for Human Rights in Gaza, occur with patients such as al-Qatshan who need urgent medical treatment.

Because they are among the few cases that Israel still treats as humanitarian, they and the relative that accompanies them present the Shin Bet with a rare opportunity to try to recruit a collaborator directly.

“These permits from Israel become a tool for blackmail. It is a serious violation of international law. Because Israel still occupies Gaza, the welfare of these patients is fully its responsibility. Israel is obligated to facilitate their movement and access to proper healthcare.”

According to the World Health Organisation, about 150 patients from Gaza were called for a security interrogation by the Shin Bet last year, including a 16-year-old girl in November. In most cases they were denied a permit afterwards.

Israel also arrested five patients at Erez and six of their companions over the course of last year. They included Mohammed Saber Abu-Amsha, a 33-year-old patient with damage to his eyes, who has been held in prison in Israel since his arrest on December 4.

Amal Ziada, a researcher for Physicians for Human Rights in Israel, said her organisation was hoping to launch a new campaign to raise awareness among the Israeli public of the pressures being used against medical patients.

That included lobbying members of the Israeli parliament and taking high-profile cases to the Israeli supreme court.

“What these patients go through is a kind of torture,” she said. “The danger is that some of them avoid seeking medical treatment because they are afraid. They are worried about being arrested, or the suspicion among other Palestinians that they may have collaborated if they receive a permit.”

Guy Inbar, spokesman for COGAT, the Israeli military unit that coordinates civilian matters in the occupied territories, said he awarded permits to Palestinians for medical treatment based only on medical need and the applicant’s security record.

A senior Israeli security official said the accusation that Israel used the permit system to recruit collaborators was “baseless”. “There have been many recent instances where terror organisations have manipulated people needing humanitarian help so that they assist in carrying out terror operations.”

No welcome

According to an Israeli human rights lawyer, Yadin Elam, most of the collaborators whose cover is blown and manage to flee the occupied territories do not receive the warm welcome in Israel they may have expected.

Israeli authorities divide collaborators into two groups, he says. Important collaborators, categorised as sayanim, or helpers, fall under the responsibility of the defence ministry and receive a salary and status inside Israel.

But most collaborators who reach Israel – numbering a few hundred, according to Elam – are classified simply as “threatened people”, referring to the fact that they might be killed if they return to Palestinian areas.

Elam says Palestinians in this latter category are usually left in a desperate situation, sometimes given a temporary permit to stay for a few months, but denied permits for their immediate family or the right to work. Typically they live underground in Israel with their families and drift into crime.

Elam says these collaborators’ insecurity, and their frequent arrests, provide an ideal opportunity for Israel to keep up the pressure.

“When things are so desperate, it is easier to persuade the family, including the children, to continue working for the intelligence services.”

Tagged as: , , ,

Feeding the World or Feeding the Corporations? London Hunger Conference Excludes Small Scale Farmers...

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The truth behind new GMO allergies, toxins and diseases

Colin Todhunter  RINF Alternative News The Deceptions and Falsehoods of the GMO Lobby: Acquiesce Or Europe Will Become “Museum of World Farming” British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson...

The Deceptions And Falsehoods Of The GMO Lobby: Acquiesce Or Europe Will Become “Museum...

British Environment Secretary Owen Paterson is a staunch supporter of the GMO sector. Despite mounting evidence pointing to the deleterious health, social, ecological and environmental impacts of GMOs, Paterson has a blind spot that lets him ignore reality and allows him to lend unconditional support to the biotech conglomerates, the very concerns that regard Europe as a massive potential cash cow from which their GM crops have till now mostly been barred or restricted.
Paterson recently told the Oxford Farming Conference that Europe is likely to become "the museum of world farming" because of its failure to embrace genetically modified crops. He went on to state that the longer Europe continues to close its doors to GM crops, the greater the risk that the rest of the world will bypass us altogether:
"Europe risks becoming the museum of world farming as innovative companies make decisions to invest and develop new technologies in other markets."
Paterson said there was "compelling evidence" that GM crops could benefit farmers, consumers, the environment and the economy.
Nearly 50 countries around the world have either banned GM crop production outright, or have put in place extremely tight restrictions on the production and use of GM products. However, EU member states will soon vote on whether to allow cultivation of a variety of maize that has been made insect-resistant through genetic engineering. If licensed, it would be the first GM food crop authorised for planting by the EU in 15 years.
Paterson said any decisions must be based on scientific evidence, in contrast to "politically motivated" delays and blocks to GM crops in the past.
He stated:
"I will continue to make the case for a regime that allows fair market access for products once they have passed Europe's rigorous, independent scientific assessment."

Paterson has previously indicated that he wants to relax British regulations on the cultivation of GM crops, and has said they have “environmental benefits”.

Owen Paterson has a track record of lending blind support to the GM sector with his factually incorrect statements. In 2013, he called concerns over the use of GM foods “complete nonsense” in an attack on public concerns about GMOs (1):

“I’m very clear it (GM) would be a good thing… The trouble is all this stuff about Frankenstein foods and putting poisons in foods. There are real benefits, and what you’ve got to do is sell the real environmental benefits. Those benefits include a reduction in the use of pesticides because some GM crops are pest-resistant.”

Paterson also said that consumers were already unwittingly eating GM food on a regular basis, so concerns about human health are misplaced and based on “nonsense” and “humbug.”

In another 2013 speech, Paterson stated that “seven million children” had gone blind or died over the past 15 years because “every attempt” to introduce a GM-rice fortified with sight-saving vitamin A had “been thwarted.”

Owen Paterson vs the reality of GMOs and petro-chemical agriculture

Paterson talks emotive, simplistic sound-bite stuff about dead children that might play well to sections of a wider misinformed public. It conveniently overlooks broader, more complex issues related to global poverty, the international system of finance, the ‘structural adjustment’ of local systems of agriculture that have destroyed indigenous food production, world trade policies and the corporate hijack of much of global farming by the West for its agribusiness industry (2).

Paterson’s stance typifies how powerful interests (or their mouthpieces) distort reality when faced with a situation that curtails their interests and profits. It is in their view their opponents who are ideologically or politically motivated and who engage in emotive scare-mongering, while it is they, the immensely rich and politically well connected, who have humanity’s interests at heart and are driven by science and altruism.

If the likes of Paterson are all too dismissive of those anti-GM/anti-MNC “disgusting enemies of the poor,” “ignoramuses” and “scientific jokers” (eg, Professor Seralni in France and Pushpa Bhargava in India) who supposedly engage in “lies,”, “nonsense” and “deceit” to counter scientific facts and the “safe frontier technology” of GMOs (3), perhaps they might be inclined to pay more heed to millionaire MP Zac Goldsmith, who is a member of the Conservative Party to which Paterson also belongs.

Hardly a dyed in the wool, anti-MNC leftie, Goldsmith last year claimed that Paterson is a puppet of the biotech industry and does not understand the dangers genetically modified crops pose to the ecosystem.

Speaking to The Independent newspaper on 3 July 2013, Goldsmith declared:

"He's swallowed the industry line hook, line and sinker without talking to anyone with a different view. When designing policy that's a dangerous thing, and I'm concerned big business is framing the debate for the government… The story so far suggests that GM is predominantly about the industry getting greater control over the food chain, rather than alleviating poverty or environmental concerns." (4)

Paterson displays blatant disregard for the political hijack of food and agriculture and its regulatory bodies by powerful agribusiness and the consequent lax regulations governing its activities. His stance indicates he is probably part of that very problem. His claim about the reduced levels of pesticides is but one instance of his ignorance. This can be placed alongside his range of ignorance on the actual documented lack of agricultural benefits derived from GMOs and their deleterious health impacts (5,6,7,8,9).

His outbursts persist regardless of the destruction of indigenous, traditional patterns of agriculture whose productivity is often far better than any petro-chemical based and/or GMO-based ’green revolution’. If he wants to talk about “museums” then he may like to look at historical evidence pertaining to traditional farming in India and its much better levels of productivity compared with modern methods (9).

It is such a travesty that a senior politician, a ‘public servant’, seems content to become part of the problem by kowtowing to the massive well-documented GMO industry pressures and its global PR machine, which receives full and active support from the US State Department (10,11).  

And whether the public wanted them or not in the US, GM crops are prevalent there, despite there having been significant concern from scientists at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) prior to the FDA allowing GM products into the food chain. The concerns of the scientists were ignored, and by the time the public became aware, the GM products were firmly embedded into the US food production chain (12).

FDA scientists had continually warned regulators that GM crops could create unpredictable and hard to detect side effects, including allergies, toxin production, nutritional problems, and new diseases. They recommended that long-term studies were needed to fully assess the effect of GM foods on other crops, the ecosystem, and animal and human health, but these warnings were ignored.

William F Engdahl has written on this and both he and the watchdog body Corporate European Observatory have raised serious concerns about deep-seated conflicts of interests within the European Food Safety Agency as well pertaining to the biotech sector and major food conglomerates (13,14).

As the GM food sector continues to push at India’s door, we should look to what the GM cotton sector has already ‘achieved’ there. The continued use of GM modified cotton has reduced yields, and the cotton bollworm has developed a resistance to the GM crops which contain the Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) toxin (15). This is resulting in an ever increasing barrage of profitable ‘innovations’ from the biotech sector. ‘Innovations’ and ‘R&D’ being trendy terms for attempting to keep on top of the damage being done to agriculture as each new 'frontier' product fails the farmer. More destined to fail technology replaces the older destined to fail products under the banner of ‘cutting edge’ developments (16).

The original ‘green revolution’ is now displaying its devastating long-term health and environmental impacts in Punjab (17). What price its potential ‘second coming’ in the form of GM food crops some years down the line? To answer that question, all we need to do is look elsewhere at the emerging outcomes referenced elsewhere in this article, not least five paragraphs further down through a recent article by Helen Paul on the impacts of GMOs in the Americas.    

Paterson’s claims that the use of GM crops reduce the use of pesticides do not hold up. Research by a WashingtonState University team found that the use of herbicides and insecticides has increased dramatically since GM crops were introduced in the US in 1996 (18). And researchers at the University of Arizona found that multi-toxin GM crops (which are the most technologically advanced crops in use) quickly lose their ability to fend off pests, which is likely to lead to a complete failure of the GMO (19).

Moreover, there has been no proper research or monitoring by the companies producing GM crops of the effects on humans consuming products made with GM crops. Scientists like Dr Arpad Pusztai in theUK and Professor Seralini in France, who have published findings critical of GM crops and food, suffered a wave attacks designed to undermine their work (or careers) by supporters of the technology.

Minister Patterson’s pro-GM attitudes come as little surprise, though. The cosy relationship between governments and the biotech companies is well known, especially in the US (20), where there has been legislation passed that allows biotech companies to be totally free of any legal ramifications if their products cause harm (21).

Perhaps Owen Paterson should take heed of mounting concerns about the terrible health impacts of glyphosate and how GMOs drive the sales of this weedkiller and the deleterious impacts of GMOs on plants and humans (22). He could also take note at the provincial government of Chaco province in Argentina issuance of a report on health statistics from the town La Leonesa, which showed that from 2000 to 2009, following the expansion of genetically-modified soy and rice crops in the region (and the use of glyphosate), the childhood cancer rate tripled in La Leonesa and the rate of birth defects increased nearly fourfold over the entire province (23).

Or maybe he should read Helen Paul’s recent piece in The Ecologist (24). She discusses the unfolding social, health, environmental and ecological disasters of GM agriculture/petro-chemical agriculture on a country by country basis in the Americas and argues that a powerful message should be sent to the EU (and Paterson) that GMOs are not wanted there and that Europe should stop buying and importing the products of GM-driven genocide and ecocide in the Americas. She reveals how repression and displacement, often violent, of remaining rural populations, illness, falling local food production have all featured in this picture. Yet, she argues, we currently face a desperate, almost farcical push for GM crops in the UK and Europe, characterised by hyperbolic and inaccurate claims of which the frequent claims byPaterson no doubt typify.

Far from being a "museum of world farming" as Paterson, likes to claim, Europe could show the way to a rich and varied GM free, organic-based agriculture that provides nutritious, healthy food and jobs. At the same time, Paul argues, we should address the profound degradation of soils and accelerating biodiversity loss, caused to a great extent by the industrial model of agriculture to which genetically engineered crops belong.

Maybe politicians such as Owen Paterson are (unwittingly) content to be fodder for the wider political and economic that GMOs (and big dam, debt-inducing, dollar supporting, oil-dependent chemical agriculture) are tied to. It’s an agenda encompassing an integrated strategy that involves the (near) monopoly ownership and control and ultimate weaponisation of all water, seeds, food and food retail, land and energy, which in turn both fuels and is fuelled by militarism, conflict, debt and dependency (25,26,27,28). Across the planet, we see this agenda being played out via violent conflict, ‘free’ trade agreements (29,30) and the shaping of political agendas (31).


Notes

A Conversation with Vandana Shiva - Question 5 - Patenting Life

Kerry Backs Keystone XL Pipeline

Kerry Backs Keystone XL Pipeline

by Stephen Lendman

Kerry mocks legitimacy. He represents the worst of America's dark side. He's going all out to be Washington's worst ever Secretary of State. 

He's Obama's war on humanity front man. He blames Syrian President Assad for US-supported death squad crimes. He wants him ousted. He wants Syrian sovereignty destroyed. 

He wants Washington deciding Syria's future. He wants it colonized for profit. He wants Ukraine exploited the same way. 

He supports ultranationalist extremists. He blames Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych for US-supported street thug violence.

He's Israel's man in Washington. His peace deal is fake. It's entirely one-sided. It demands unconditional Palestinian surrender.

He's a billionaire. He supports corporate-enriching trade deals. They legitimize selling unsafe foods, medicines and other products. 

They're designed to make him richer. They're at the expense of enormous public harm. They risk ecocide.

On January 31, the State Department endorsed the Keystone XL Pipeline project. It risks enormous environmental damage. 

It's a controversial 1,661-mile Alberta, Canada to Port Arthur, TX pipeline. At issue is transporting toxic tar sands oil from Western Canada to refineries on America's Gulf coast. 

Doing so entails passing through environmentally sensitive areas in six states. They include waterways and the Ogallala Aquifer. 

It's one of the world's largest. It supplies about 30% of America's irrigation ground water. It's vital for human consumption.

Friends of the Earth said Keystone XL (KXL) "will carry one of the world's dirtiest fuels: tar sands oil." Its route "could devastate ecosystems and pollute water sources, and would jeopardize public health."

It'll double America's dirty tar sands oil supply. Environmental toxicity will increase exponentially. 

Big Oil wants it. So do Republicans and many Democrats. Expect Obama to rubber-stamp approval. 

The State Department's Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) falsely claimed no risks to health and safety. More on this below.

TransCanada Corporation will build KXL. It's spill-prone construction record assures trouble. 

It promised its Keystone I pipeline would leak at most once every seven years. In year one, it leaked 12 times. It was once a month on average. It was unprecedented in US pipeline history.

TarSandsBlockade.org asks "Why Oppose KXL?"

For many reasons, it states. NASA scientist James Hansen calls it "a fuse to the largest carbon bomb on the planet."

All pipelines spill. Avoidance is impossible. Large-scale environmental damage is too great a price to pay. 

TransCanada said up to 700,000 gallons of tar sands crude could leak without detection. Safeguards are weak and ineffective.

Pipeline construction abuses eminent domain. TransCanada "intimidated landowners" along planned routes. It did so in previous pipeline construction.

It contractually forced landowners to accede to its demands. It "fraudulently steals land from private citizens through eminent domain."

Water contamination is certain. The Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer (CWA) is threatened. 

In March 2011, water resources & environmental engineer/consultant Lawrence Dunbar said CWA spillage would be environmentally disastrous. Human and natural resources would be impacted.

Release of enough tar sands contaminants would make affected water resources unfit for human consumption. 

CWA "is one of the greatest assets of the East-Central region of Texas. It provides water for agriculture, industry, and human consumption and use."

It's far too valuable to contaminate. KXL assures it. Remediation would be hard to impossible to achieve.

According to Cornell University's Global Labor Institute, KXL will destroy more jobs than it creates. Its September 2011 "Pipe Dreams?" report said job creation claims lack credibility.

At best up to 4,650 temporary ones will be created. In two years or less they'll be gone. "KXL will not be a major source of US jobs, nor will it play any substantial role at all in putting Americans back to work."

Diverting tar sands oil "now supplying Midwest refineries, so it can be sold at higher prices to the Gulf Coast and export markets (means) Midwest (consumers) could be paying 10 to 20 cents more per gallon for gasoline and diesel fuel."

Doing so will adversely impact other spending and cost jobs. KXL will have "a chilling effect on green investments and green jobs creation."

Green investments generated "2.7 million jobs in the US and could generate many more."

"Tar Sands oil and energy independence really do not belong in the same sentence."

Cornell, the Natural Resources Defense Council and other independent assessments say KXL assures higher gas prices.

Exporting tar sands oil won't reduce US dependence on foreign supplies. Prioritizing exports is planned. At issue is selling at the highest possible price.

KXL violates tribal sovereignty. The Indigenous Environmental Network's "Mother Earth Accord" supports and urges opposition to tar sands development. At issue is preserving the integrity of US and Canadian First Nations and tribal lands.

TransCanada won't disclose an analysis of chemical dilutents used to facilitate transporting tar sands oil through KXL. At issue are human and environmentally destructive substances.

The Pipeline Hazardous Material Safety Administration told Congress that pipeline regulations weren't crafted with tar sands oil in mind. 

They're woefully inadequate and require strengthening. At a time of business as usual, don't expect it.

On January 31, the State Department released its EIS report. Its  analysis was rigged. Its methodology lacked credibility. 

Results falsely claimed minimal environmental contamination risk. KXL's southern area "Gulf Coast Project" failed to conduct its own environmental assessment. 

Issues related to the Carrizo-Wilcox Aquifer, wild fires, droughts, and others weren't examined.

Friends of the Earth (FOE) responded, saying:

"The State Department’s environmental review of the Keystone XL pipeline is a farce. Since the beginning of the assessment, the oil industry has had a direct pipeline into the agency." 

"Perhaps most frustrating, is the apparent collusion between the State Department, oil industry and the Canadian government."

"In what could be perceived as eagerness to please the oil industry and Canadian government, the State Department is issuing this report amidst an ongoing investigation into conflicts of interest, and lying, by its contractor." 

"It is unacceptable that the oil industry and a foreign government are better informed than the American Congress and its citizenry."

"By letting the oil industry influence this process, Secretary Kerry is undermining his long-established reputation as a leader in the fight against climate change." 

"President Obama can end this charade; sufficient scientific data exists to justify denying the Keystone XL pipeline." 

"It is a simple matter of having the political will, and courage, to stand up to the oil industry. This decision is a defining moment in his environmental legacy."

Last September, FOE said:

"(F)rom day one, the State Department's review of the pipeline (was) polluted by conflicts of interest, insider lobbying and the heavy hand of Big Oil."

State Department officials relied on TransCanada-picked contractors for their report. Doing so represents an outrageous conflict of interest.

Relying on Big Oil interests related construction company interests eliminated any chance for responsible analysis.

Obama had plenty of evidence without EIS to reject KXL. "The bottom line," said FOE, "it's not in the national interest. (K)ill "it now."

The National Wildlife Federation (NWF) said:

"Thousands of people around the country are taking a stand against the import of dirty tar sands oil - from farmers and ranchers in Nebraska who don't want a tar sands pipeline plowed through their property, to families in Texas concerned about their drinking water, to Americans everywhere who want to move towards a clean energy future." 

NWF "is working to stop this dangerous project, and your voice is urgently needed. Take a stand against" KXL!

The Sierra Club urged "no more Big Oil pipeline spills that endanger our water."

KXL "threaten(s) the drinking water of two million Americans." TransCanada has a deplorable environmental record.

In 2011 alone, over a quarter million Americans expressed opposition to KXL. Nebraska rancher Susan Luebbe perhaps spoke for others, saying:

"How can the State Department even think of approving a new tar sands pipeline when the existing one is springing leaks on average once a month."

"Ranchers, farmers and millions of other Americans depend on clean water from the Ogallala Aquifer, which lies directly under the path of" KXL.

Last November, Public Citizen published a report titled "TransCanada's Keystone XL Southern Segment: Construction Problems Raise Questions About the Integrity of the Pipeline."

It highlighted safety issues. Documented problems include "excessive bending or sagging, and pealing patches of field coating applied to cover damage on pipe about to be placed into the ground."

"Anomolies" in pipe "buried for months include "dents, sags, and other problems that could lead to spills or leakage of toxic tar sands crude."

Public Citizen's Texas office director Tom "Smitty" Smith said:

"The government should investigate, and shouldn’t let crude flow until that is done."

"Given the stakes - the potential for a catastrophic spill of hazardous crude along a pipeline that traverses hundreds of streams and rivers and comes within a few miles of some towns and cities - it would be irresponsible to allow the pipeline to start operating."

During construction of Keystone I, TransCanada made 50 special conditions pledges. It violated 47 of them.

In July 2011, its Bison natural gas pipeline exploded within six months of startup. 

Iroquois Pipeline Operations is a TransCanada subsidiary. In the 1990s, four senior executives pleaded guilty to knowingly violating environmental and safety pipeline construction permit provisions.

They promised exceptional safety. They willfully failed to deliver. "TransCanada's history with pipeline problems speaks for itself," said Smith.

"I fear we could be looking at another pipeline whose integrity may be in question."

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) urged "Stopping the Keystone XL." Enormous potential environmental damage is risked, it said.

It'll transport "the dirtiest oil on the planet." It's "difficult, costly and energy-intensive to produce."

Constructing KXL will "kill more jobs than it creates." Oil transported is intended for export, not domestic use.

KXL "was never in America's national interest. Clean energy and fuel efficiency is the path forward for economic and energy security."

Reject "another tar sands pipeline." Expect rubber-stamp Obama approval. He's beholden to Big Oil. He's been this way throughout his political career.

His US Senate voting record was strongly pro-business. He supported strip-mining on public and private land.

He backed secretly drafted Bush administration energy policy. Rhetorically he opposed it.

He supported vastly expanding nuclear power, lax industry regulation, billions of dollars in subsidies, and other benefits demanding rejection.

He voted for biofuels production and other agribusiness interests. He strongly supports GMO foods and ingredients.

He's a corporate stooge. There's never "been a bigger con man in the White House than Barack Obama," said Ralph Nader. He says one thing. He does another. His rhetoric belies his policies.

He's a corporatist "from A to Z." So are Kerry and likeminded administration officials.

On February, the State Department opened a 30 day comment period. Eight US agencies have 90 days to weigh in. They'll offer feedback.

It's pro forma mumbo jumbo. What corporate America wants it gets. Obama's fully on board. Expect rubber-stamp KXL approval.

Last June, he signaled it saying he'll back construction if "it does not significantly exacerbate the climate problem."

Last week, TransCanada began shipping oil through its southern Keystone pipeline leg. It runs from Cushing, OK to Port Arthur, TX.

TC awaits approval to begin building its 1,179 mile northern pipeline. It'll transport tar sands oil from Hardisty, Alberta through Montana to Steele City, NB.

Environmental contamination will follow. Wealth, power and privilege alone matter. 

Obama is no man of the people. He's a corporatist writ large. Change to believe in works one way. Betrayal and failure define him.

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 Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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

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Biotechnology, GMO and Scientific Analysis: The Powers of Corporate Manipulation

The biotech sector often yells for “peer review” when the anti-GMO movement refers to analyses or research-based findings to state its case. Despite Professor...

Censored! Science and Nonsense: Retracting Seralini’s Study

The biotech sector often yells for “peer review” when the anti-GMO movement refers to analyses or research-based findings to state its case. Despite Professor Seralini publishing his research findings (rats fed on GMOs) that were critical of the health impacts of GMOs in an internationally renowned peer-reviewed journal in 2012, his methodology and findings were nevertheless subjected to sustained attacks by the sector. Personal smears came his way too (1). Now he finds that his paper has been retracted by the journal.

Peer review or no peer review, it seems to matter little to the biotech sector when research findings have the potential to damage its interests. In any case, peer review is only for the sector’s critics. It doesn’t seem to apply much to it. For instance, in the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) scientists had continually warned regulators that GM crops could create unpredictable and hard to detect side effects, including allergies, toxin production, nutritional problems, and new diseases. They recommended that long-term studies were needed to fully assess the effect of GM foods on other crops, the ecosystem, and animal and human health, but these warnings were ignored (2).  

Commercial interest, political strategy and lobbying, not science, is what really counts for this industry. Much of the research it uses to back up its claims is after all carried out by itself and is not fully open to outside scrutiny. Certain negative findings that would be detrimental to its interests are suppressed. According to Open Earth Source in a 2011 article in Huufington Post, this is certainly the case where glysophate (Round Up) has been concerned (3). It is therefore disconcerting that policy makers willingly accept the industry’s claims and facilitate its aims, not least in the UK.    


GeneWatch UK has revealed how Monsanto, Syngenta, Bayer, and BASF (all biotech companies) under the guise of the ‘Agricultural Biotechnology Council’ held a meeting in June 2012 with government ministers and academics to formulate a ‘strategy’ to promote GMO in schools, to ‘educate’ the public and to ‘improve’ the regulatory framework favouring GMOs, while encouraging farmers to change their farming methods to fully accommodate the GMO products the companies produce.


Dr Helen Wallace, Director of GeneWatch UK said that this shows breath-taking arrogance by these companies which seem to think that British farming must be destroyed to suit their own commercial interest and British children should be brainwashed to support their business strategies. She argues that ministers should not be pushing the GM sector’s propaganda in British schools at taxpayers’ expense (4). It begs the question: where is the role for independent science (not corporate/industry-backed science) in all of this? The sector seems able to secure political patronage or co-opt key players to its cause as and when necessary.


And the reason for this is clear. Writer Rich Murray highlights on Rense.com how top people from the GM sector have moved with ease to take up many top positions with various US government bodies, such as the FDA (5). William F Engdahl has described a similar effect in Europe (6). In both cases, the revolving door between government and biotech sector ensures the latter’s interests are served.


Seralini’s research team based its experiment on the same protocol as a previous Monsanto study but, importantly, were testing more parameters more frequently. And the GMO-fed rats were studied for much longer. The long time span proved critical. The first tumours only appeared four to seven months into the study. In the industry’s earlier 90-day study on the same GMO maize Monsanto NK603, signs of toxicity were seen but were dismissed as “not biologically meaningful” by industry and the European Food Safety Agency. It seems they were indeed very biologically meaningful.


In his recent piece in The Ecologist, William F Engdahl argues Seralini’s research is valid and that biotech pressure has led to the journal’s decision to retract Seralini’s paper (7). Engdahl notes that the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, where Seralini’s paper appeared, has itself violated scientific standards by deciding to retract the paper.


It begs the questions: when does science become ‘non-science’ and when can a journal decide to reinvent criteria for publication and retraction? On the Independent Science News website (8), Claire Robinson and Jonathan Latham note that in the run-up to the retraction, the journal’s publisher, Elsevier, announced that it had created a new position, that of 'Associate Editor for Biotechnology'. The person they hired to fill it was Richard E Goodman, a former Monsanto employee. Six months after Goodman took control of GMO issues at the Journal, Dr A Wallace Hayes, the editor of the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology, retracted the study by the team of Professor Séralini, citing the ‘inconclusiveness’ of the research findings as the reason.


However, Claire Robinson on the GM Watch site (9) notes that inconclusiveness of findings is not a valid ground for retraction because numerous published scientific papers contain inconclusive findings, which are often mixed in with findings that can be presented with more certainty. She rightly states that it is for future researchers to build on the findings and refine scientific understanding of any uncertainties.


There is something highly suspicious about all of this.


The public is having GMO food pushed on it with no say in the matter thanks to deceit and various forms of institutionalised corruption. Unfortunately, argument stemming from independent scientific findings is too often sidelined in favour of other means of influence. Recall how Dr Arpad Pusztai in the UK was effectively silenced over his research and a campaign was set in motion to destroy his reputation some years ago because his research findings were unpalatable to the biotech sector. Then there is the infamous WikiLeaks cable highlighting how GMOs were being forced into European nations by the US ambassador to France who plotted with other US officials to create a ‘retaliatory target list’ of anyone who tried to regulate GMOs.


In the meantime, evidence questioning the health impacts and efficacy or lack of agricultural benefits derived from GMOs mounts (10,11,12,13). But this is of little concern to the industry and its pressure tactics and global PR machine, which receives full and active support from the US State Department (14).


Is science to fall victim to outside pressures? Claire Robinson and Jonathan Latham argue that unless radical reform is achieved, peer-reviewed publication, which many hold to be the defining characteristic of science, will have undergone a remarkable inversion. From its origin as a safeguard of quality and independence, it will have become a tool through which one vision, that of corporate science, came to assert ultimate control. They argue that Richard Goodman now has the opportunity to throw down the stairs only those papers marked “industry approved.”


It’s a valid point. As Don Huber, Professor of Plant Pathology at Purdue University, has indicated, getting research findings published that do not coincide with the aims of key commercial interests can be difficult and comes with certain risks (15). With some hugely powerful players involved, many of whom have influence over journal content and have successfully infiltrated important government and official bodies, much of the science and the debate is being manipulated and hijacked by vested interests for commercial gain.


Notes





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This is the document that clearly authorizes what the Federal government is allowed to do, what authorities and responsibilities the separate entities of the Government have.  It is what Our Troops swear to defend and what our politicians and judges have sworn to uphold:


We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

Those words in the first paragraph above are the beginning of an article written on War On Terror News back on Constitution Day 2011.


As is pointed out within that article, the US Constitution is but four (4!!!)  pages of simple language setting out what America is/will be, and what it is NOT.  The foundations upon which a great nation was based seem to have been shaken to the core in recent years, as the current crop of politicians seem determined to over-reach the very clear limits placed upon them within that framework.  Today, from where I sit, America is under attack by those very 'servants' of the people who - as noted above - swore to uphold the Constitution. 



 America is broken: Who will fix it? 

 

Since the first election campaign of the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania, I have watched the media aid and abet those candidates who preached things like: Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we've been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.



 On the first campaign Obama repeatedly said things like:   America does not need to be divided and angry. "You can't afford to settle for the same old politics," and was constantly referred to as the 'great uniter.'  He made many silver-tongued promises of how if we just voted for him, he would join us all as one to transform this country,  that was forged in those values held most dear by the Founding Fathers. 



Really? Okay, well  not so much.  At almost every turn, this administration has been based on the willingness of the uneducated masses to blindly follow an ideology, an agenda, that was based on emotion, rather than a  clear  articulation of what that transformation really meant.  Sure, his golden oratory promised that there would be 'peace in the world; the dawning of a new era' or something like that.  A whole new America, where every mouth was fed, and everybody would be healthy and wealthy living in this new nirvana.  What he did NOT say explicitly was that government would tell parents what their children would be taught in school (Common Core,  anybody?), what those kids must eat in school (Let's Move, courtesy of the missus), a health care system  where everybody would have equal access to healthcare, no matter their economical or citizenship status - or their individual choices?  (ObamaCare of course!)  As for everybody sharing the wealth of America? NOwhere in the Constitution is the power given to the Federal Government to give gazillions of taxpayer dollars to create phantom 'shovel ready' projects to give fake jobs to citizens. All well and good, but the America the Constitution was written in, and for, was an America that ANY and all of those were attainable by the individual effort.  They are NOT mandated within the Constitution, nor are they God-given rights.  "The PURSUIT...", not the giving.   




From where I sit, this administration and their policies foisted upon us, has divided America in a way I have not seen before. And I am not alone in seeing this. COL (r) Allen West had this up today.






 

THIS administration has gone so far outside the Constitution of America, exceeded the mandate set therein, that the evidence of a divided America cannot be ignored, denied.


Every President of the United States swears an oath to defend the United States Constitution:



I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will faithfully execute the Office of President of the United States, and will to the best of my Ability, preserve, protect and defend the Constitution of the United States.


 

This POTUS has taken this oath twice now, but from where I sit, this self-proclaimed 'Constitutional expert' has wilfully ignored the Constitution, and in so doing, has brought America to a very dangerous precipice.



 NOwhere in the Constitution does it stipulate that any government (Federal or State) has the right to tell Americans what products they must buy, and then fine them if they do not.  NOwhere in that document could I find it stated that it is the duty of the Federal government to tell schools (within different States) what the curriculum should be...





“Give me just one generation of youth, and I'll transform the whole world.” - Lenin
“Give me two generations of children of Americans in school without God and I will take the nation without firing a shot!” - Lenin 


Search as I might, I found no dietary mandate for the Federal government within the records.  Nor did I find any reference to the Federal government politicians having the duty to enable the ever more greedy, and dependent: the 'give me" generation.  As I watch the America I love more divided - and angry - than I ever remember, I see Americans demoralised and asking themselves: Where is my America?






There is no denying that America IS broken, and the next question must be: Who will fix it?   Our politicians ignore their sworn duty as set out in the Constitution, and forget that they are servants of the people, elected to serve us, not just ensure a lifetime career with the perks - paid for by your taxes - that they somehow see as their right, their entitlement.  Dare to challenge that?  You are branded a terrorist, un-American, and subject to public ridicule and character assassination.  




NOwhere in the US Constitution does the president have unlimited power over the people, nor the authority to rule over every aspect of the citizens' lives.




Found a very interesting series of videos, where the same simple language as found in the Constitution is used to explain the function and limits of each of the three branches of government. Take a look:



"...their terms [Congress] are short to check corruption... this [the Senate] was designed so their duties would be to have a powerful role in checks and balances to the Federal government , so that it would not gain total power  over the people. The Founding Fathers never intended for the Federal government to rule over the states or the people..."


In 1913, the 17th Amendment was implemented, which in effect weakened the individual States' powers to check the Federal government.   Go check out the series of videos.




One of those videos focuses on the reason the US chose to be a Republic rather than stay under the Rule of a Monarchy.




There is a very simple Pledge of Allegiance, that swears (as per the original):



I pledge allegiance to my Flag and the Republic for which it stands, one nation indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


 A very interesting history of that can be found here.




Part of that History can be found here, where it is noted:





In 1954, in response to the Communist threat of the times, President Eisenhower encouraged Congress to add the words "under God," creating the 31-word pledge we say today.[...]. Today it reads:



"I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America, and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all."



An element present in the Pledge,  and enshrined within the Constitution, is the pursuit of Liberty...NOwhere in the Pledge of Allegiance, NOR in the Constitution. is there a pledge to whatever president occupies the Oval Office.  NOWHERE!  Yet, in the current climate in America, partisanship rules the days and the politicians of all stripes demonstrate on a daily basis that their own allegiance is to their own re-election, and their political agenda, to the peril of the citizens. The cost? Freedom and our God-given Rights to Liberty. 




That 1954 version of the Pledge still stands today, and yes, as noted, it was 'in response to the Communist threat of the times.'




That was a very real threat, and in those days America WAS vigilant of any threat to the freedom of the Republic's citizens.  As well that might be to today, as we see very real threats to the Liberty and Freedoms determined to beat down the doors of the Republic.




From 1930,  and still so very relevant today, with current enemies hell-bent on destroying the American citizens' God-given rights to liberty, and freedom to pursue those liberties:




"War to the hilt between communism and capitalism is inevitable. Today, of course, we are not strong enough to attack.


Our time will come in thirty to forty years. To win, we shall need the element of surprise. The Western world will have to be put to sleep. 


So we shall begin by launching the most spectacular peace movement on record. There shall be electrifying overtures and unheard of concessions. 

The capitalist countries, stupid and decadent, will rejoice to cooperate to their own destruction. They will leap at another chance to be friends. 

As soon as their guard is down, we shall smash them with our clenched fist."


Declaration by Dimitry Manuilski Professor at the Lenin School of Political Warfare in Moscow - 1930



Am reminded of : Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.   At this time when Putin is on the world stage - front and center as an effective 'statesman'  -  as POTUS busies himself with drawing ineffectual red lines, and appeasing our enemies, it seems to me  that the wolves have already breached the walls of the Republic.  
 
Today, the wolves pervade every level of our government, as the citizenry are apparently intent on proving the truth of those words from 1930;
 

The capitalist countries, stupid and decadent, will rejoice to cooperate to their own destruction. They will leap at another chance to be friends. 



From where I sit, the truth of that is staggering and is happening right before our eyes, and yet the sheep sleep on, as the current administration continues to run full-speed over their Constitutional duties, and implement programs for the 'gimmes' in our midst, all the while stepping into matters that are not their business.  Beer summit, anybody?  Trayvon Martin ring a bell? Giving trillions of dollars to auto industries? Meddling in private industries by giving away millions of our tax dollars to 'green ideas'?  NOwhere in the Constitution is the power given to any government to dictate every detail of the people's lives. NOwhere in the Constitution is it stated that the Federal government can force any free citizen to buy a product, be forced to give financial aid/incentives, but rather they are given freedom to make their own individual choice.  






On the illegal implementation of ObamaCare, someone I know and respect, recently wrote this:


[...]


ObamaCare: It is long past time that this un Constitutional law be repealed, in its entirety.



And no, I will not entertain arguments that the SCOTUS ruled, therefore it is Constitutional. The SCOTUS does not have Constitutional Authority to amend the Constitution, or legislate from the bench. If you want to claim it's Constitutional, quote me the entire clause which makes it so; not two words and not a generality that is defined in following specifics. Quote me the clause of the Constitution that authorizes the Federal Government to FORCE an Individual Citizen to buy anything.



All of which is absolutely correct as stated in the simple language of the Constitution. Written over two hundred years ago, the values and rights of the citizens enshrined by the Founding Fathers are still relevant today.  BUT as we see, the government insists on  ignoring the rights of a FREE people, and imposing their ideology, on an ever more somnambulant population. 
 
America IS broken:  Who will fix it?
 
Talking with a Military Veteran friend just last night, I was sharing how depressed - how angry - I get at the seeming unwillingness of the citizenry to really grasp the enormity of the current threats to all our Freedoms.  
 
As the Military oath sworn by all new recruits says:
 


I, (NAME), do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.  [yes, emphasis mine]


And there is part of my depression: it appalls me that our Troops have gone to far off lands to honor that oath, to advance the cause of freedom in places ruled by tyrants and despots.  Yet, when they come home, they find the tyrants are more powerful, more pervasive than could almost be imagined. 

There is an old cliche that goes something like 'only those who have fought for freedom, know the true value, the taste of it.'  Today,  I listen and watch the ever growing segment of our society who have no idea what it means to fight for their freedom.  In this time of increasing unemployment stats (and if you believe the official figures released, you really ARE asleep); when a huge percentage of the population is lined up for some form of government hand-out, that they have not earned, I am reminded of the "no such thing as a free lunch' truism.  Yes, Obama phones are 'free' for some, and yes, healthcare is 'free' for some,   but not only is somebody else (another American citizen) paying for that  - again, in direct contravention of the Constitution -  but when we as a whole lose our Liberty and our Freedoms because we are too apathetic to fight and defend those very underpinnings of our Republic, there will be NO free anything: Not for you, me or the Obamaphone folks...




When our Military Veterans have to fight at home for the respect and care they have earned, because their Commander In Chief disrespects the sacred duty to our Defenders of Freedom, I have to despair.  When I see Gold Star Families being threatened with cut off of their rightful due, because of partisan politics, I am beyond angry...OUR Military (no, not "HIS" Troops, as Obama claims) deserves better from a Chief Executive who swore to defend the Constitution.  Part of the Constitutional powers given to the POTUS is to do with the "Defense of the Nation."  Seems to me that the POTUS bears direct responsibility - within the clear parameters of the Constitution - for ensuring that those he expects to follow his orders, be well provided for both on and off the battlefield.  These days, evidence clearly shows,  to those of  us paying attention, that the Constitution is irrelevant to the CinC, and he ignores it,  as and when it suits his political  agenda - aided and abetted by his political cronies and hacks, of course....





In the Constitution it is clearly stated that defense of our borders is part of the government's duties.  Tell that to the family of Brian Terry.  (Go watch the video at that link.  Unbelievable) Tell that to the family of the rancher in AZ who was murdered.




Neither of these lives would have been lost, if the Federal government  adhered to the Constitution (and we won't even get into Fast and Furious here, where the guns were supplied by the US DoJ and then proven to be used against Americans because of the open, porous border.)  Go here to see how  the dereliction of duty by the Homeland Security government department directly affects the US Border Control's ability to defend against all foreign enemies. Gone are the days when oppressed people eagerly grasped the legal opportunity to enter the US, and earn the rights of Freedom and Liberty accorded American citizens.   Nowadays we have a POTUS and DoJ who are actively lobbying to reward those illegals who scurry across the unguarded borders in the dark of night. NOwhere in the Constitution does it give this power to POTUS, a deliberate flouting, blatant disrespect of the Republic's laws.  And if you don't understand the magnitude of that problem, go look at some videos of the hundreds, yes hundreds,  who weekly break our laws, confident that they can rape, murder and more, as they are promised amnesty, and given short-cuts to citizenship of America,  that they have not earned.  




Freedom and Liberty in America - FOR Americans - is under attack, and we have lost our way from the Founding Fathers' vision of this great Republic. 




 Our Founding Fathers, here in this country, brought about the only true revolution that has ever taken place in man's history. Every other revolution simply exchanged one set of rulers for another set of rulers.
 

 But only here did that little band of men so advanced beyond their time that the world has never seen their like since, evolve the idea that you and I have within ourselves the God-given right and the ability to determine our own destiny. But freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. We didn't pass it on to our children in the bloodstream. 

 

The only way they can inherit the freedom we have known is if we fight for it, protect it, defend it and then hand it to them with the well thought lessons of how they in their lifetime must do the same. And if you and I don't do this, then you and I may well spend our sunset years telling our children and our children's children what it once was like in America when men were free. Thank You.



  And then there is Mark Twain,  who is also credited with  "what the government giveth, the government can take away":

“The mania for giving the Government power to meddle with the private affairs of cities or citizens is likely to cause endless trouble, [...] and there is great danger that our people will lose our independence of thought and action which is the cause of much of our greatness, [yes, emphasis mine] and sink into the helplessness of the Frenchman or German who expects his government to feed him when hungry, clothe him when naked, to prescribe when his child may be born and when he may die, and, in time, to regulate every act of humanity from the cradle to the tomb, including the manner in which he may seek future admission to paradise.” – Mark Twain, “Official Physic,” The Twainian, November, 1943


 The list is long, yet simplicity itself,  of the Freedoms - God-given Rights - paid for and earned by Americans, and I have but scratched the surface of those under attack.  The attack on the Second Amendment Rights is a battle being fought in parts of the country, as America-loving Patriots understand very well that sometimes we really DO need to fight to maintain the Freedom and Liberty enshrined in our Constitution.




America is so broken.  WHO will fix it?


 

Today this question is so critical, as we face such dangerous threats within our country.  We have lost the "one nation under God," and from where I sit, the Republic is in grave danger of collapse.




The Constitution begins:  We, the people" and it is my firm belief that only when We, the People wake up and see that it only by our own actions,  will we save our Republic.  WE who care about our Constitution, who believe that our Freedoms and Liberty ARE our God-given Rights, that no mere politician can squander for their own gain, must defend America.




Am I suggesting we all  take up our weapons,  and stage an armed insurrection? No.   What I am suggesting, URGING, is that all of us who see the precipice directly in front of us, continue to educate the sheep - after we have woken them up, of course! - and make them understand what is at stake here. Read and re-read the Constitution, so that you understand the foundations of America. Demand that every politician set aside their partisan politics, throw away their party loyalties, and demonstrate their loyalty to our country, our Constitution. If they are not capable of that, throw them out of office, and elect those Americans who WILL honor our Founding Fathers' vision of this great Republic. 







Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us to the end dare to do our duty as we understand it.
 

God bless America.

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The Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) between the US and EU intends to create the world's largest free trade area, 'protect' investment and remove ‘unnecessary regulatory barriers’. Corporate interests are driving the agenda, with the public having been sidelined. Unaccountable, pro-free-trade bureaucrats from both sides of the Atlantic are facilitating the strategy (1) 

In addition to the biotech sector and Big Pharma, groups lobbying for the deal have included Toyota, General Motors, IBM and the powerful lobby group the Chamber of Commerce of the US. Business Europe, the main organisation representing employers in Europe, launched its own strategy on an EU-US economic and trade partnership in early 2012. Its suggestions were widely included in the draft EU mandate.


An increasing number of politicians and citizens groups have criticised the secretive negotiations and are demanding that they be conducted in an open way. This is growing concern that the negotiations could result in the opening of the floodgates for GMOs and shale gas (fracking) in Europe, the threatening of digital and labour rights or the empowering of corporations to legally challenge a wide range of regulations which they dislike.


One of the key aspects of the negotiations is that both the EU and US should recognise their respective rules and regulations, which in practice could reduce regulation to the lowest common denominator. The official language talks of ‘mutual recognition’ of standards or so-called reduction of non-tariff barriers. For the EU, that could mean accepting US standards in many areas, including food and agriculture, which are lower than the EU's.


The US wants all so-called barriers to trade, including controversial regulations such as those protecting agriculture, food or data privacy, to be removed. Even the leaders of the Senate Finance Committee, in a letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk, made it clear that any agreement must reduce EU restrictions on genetically modified crops, chlorinated chickens and hormone-treated beef.


The public in Europe does not want such things. People want powerful corporations to be held to account and their pratices regulated by elected representatives who they trust to protect their interests, the public good. However, the TAFTA seems an ideal opportunity for corporations to force wholly unpopular and dangerous policies through via secretive, undemocratic means. They have been unable to do this in a democratic and transparent manner, so secret back room deals represent a different option.


Corporate demands include an “ambitious liberalisation of agricultural trade barriers with as few exceptions as possible.” Food lobby group Food and Drink Europe, representing the largest food companies (Unilever, Kraft, Nestlé, etc.), has welcomed the negotiations, with one of their key demands being the facilitation of the low level presence of unapproved genetically modified crops. This is a long-standing industry agenda also supported by feed and grain trading giants, including Cargill, Bunge, ADM and the big farmers' lobby COPA-COGECA. Meanwhile, the biotech industry on both sides of the Atlantic is offering its “support and assistance as the EU and the US government look to enhance their trade relationship.”


New Report


If the pro-free-market bureaucrats and corporations get their way and successfully bar the public from any kind of meaningful information input into the world’s biggest trade deal ever to be negotiated, Europeans could end up becoming the victims of one of the biggest corporate stitch ups ever. Left unchallenged, it will allow huge private interests to dig their profiteering snouts into the trough of corporate greed at the expense of ordinary people.


And that’s not hyperbole. Such a view is confirmed by the release of a new report on the eve of the second round of negotiations that are due to begin in Brussels next week.


The report, published by the Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) (2), reveals the true human and environmental costs of the proposed TAFTA. ‘A Brave New Transatlantic Partnership highlights how the European Commission’s promises of up to 1% GDP growth and massive job creation through the EU-US trade deal are not supported even by its own studies, which predict a growth rate of just 0.01% GDP over the next ten years and the potential loss of jobs in several economic sectors, including agriculture.


The report also explains how corporations are lobbying EU-US trade negotiators to use the deal to weaken food safety, labour, health and environmental standards as well as undermine digital rights. Attempts to strengthen banking regulation in the face of the financial crisis could also be jeopardised as the financial lobby uses the secretive trade negotiations to undo financial reforms, such as restrictions on the total value of financial transactions or the legal form of its operations.


Kim Bizzarri, the author of the report:

“Big business lobbies on both sides of the Atlantic view the secretive trade negotiations as a weapon for getting rid of policies aimed at protecting European and US consumers, workers and our planet. If their corporate wish-list is implemented, it will concentrate even more economic and political power within the hands of a small elite, leaving all of us without protection from corporate wrongdoings.”

The report also warns that the agreement could open the floodgate to multi-million Euro lawsuits from corporations who can challenge democratic policies at international tribunals if they interfere with their profits.

Pia Eberhardt, trade campaigner with Corporate Europe Observatory and author of ‘A transatlantic corporate bill of rights’:

“The proposed investor rights in the transatlantic trade deal show what it is really about: It’s a power grab from corporations to rein in democracy and handcuff governments that seek to regulate in the public interest. It’s only a matter of time before European citizens start paying the price in higher taxes and diminished social protection.”

Consumer watchdogs, digital rights and trade activists, environmentalists and trade unions are preparing to fight the corporate dystopia put forward in the EU-US trade deal.


Luis Rico of Ecologistas en Acción, a member of the Seattle to Brussels network:

“We hope that the disturbing evidence we provide will show why all concerned citizens and parliamentarians on both sides of the Atlantic need to urgently mobilise against the proposed EU-US trade deal. We have to derail this corporate power grab that threatens to worsen the livelihood of the millions of people already seriously affected by the financial crisis and by the crippling consequences of Europe's austerity reforms.”


Do we want increasingly bad and unhealthy food, our rights at work being further eroded, the environment being damaged in the chase for profit, ever greater reckless gambling in the financial sector or our elected representatives being by-passed via international tribunals? Of course we don’t. 


Where is the democracy surrounding this proposed TAFTA? Where is ordinary people’s  protection from the ‘free’ market corporate-financial cabals that ultimately drive global economic policy and geo-political strategies? By translating corporate power into political influence at the G8, G20, WTO, NATO or elsewhere, whether it is by war, threats, debts or coercion, secretive and undemocratic free trade agreements are but one tool that very powerful corporations use in an attempt to cast the world in their own image (3,4).


The TAFTA is little more than an attempt at a corporate power grab masquerading as something that promotes growth, freedom, harmony and job creation. Those claims are bogus. It must be stopped



Notes



2)  The Seattle to Brussels Network (S2B) includes development, environmental, human rights, women and farmers organisations, trade unions and social movements working together for a truly sustainable, just and democratic trade policy in Europe. Corporate Europe Observatory is one of its members.




Globalisation: A Vote In 2014 Will Be A Vote For India?

Global Research and Countercurrents 3/10/2013

In India, the race for the 2014 national elections is heating up. The country faces many issues and, with 17% of the global population, how it resolves them could have a large bearing on the future direction of humanity, or could even be an inspiration for it.


India is where modernity is meeting tradition head on. But it is a specific form of ‘modernity’, one which has been defined by powerful transnational corporations. It goes under the guise of ‘globalisation’, which is too often confused with genuine mutual interdependence between nation states. Based on this misrepresentation by corporations, politicians and the mainstream media, we are encouraged to regard globalisation as a positive thing.


And yet the ratio between the top and bottom ten per cents of wage distribution has doubled since the early 1990s, when India opened up it economy. Moreover, social and cultural traditions dating back thousands of years are being uprooted thanks to a redefining of the individual in relation to the collective, of how people should live and what they should aspire to be like, ably assisted of course by an all pervasive advertising industry. This is the cultural impact of ‘globalisation’ – an acceptance that gross inequalities are necessary and beneficial and that tradition must be swept aside in the name of progress.


But this warped culture of globalisation merely reflects the ideas and ultimately the practices of the powerful, the extremely wealthy of the world. These are the people setting the globalisation agenda at the G8, G20, NATO, the World Bank, and the WTO. They are from the highest levels of finance capital and transnational corporations.


These billionaires comprise a transnational capitalist class which dictates global economic policies. In his book ‘The Global Power Elite and The World They are Making’, David Rothkopf puts their number at around 6,500 individuals globally. They are increasingly internationalised and regard nations not as sovereign entities, but as little more than population holding locations to be plundered. In many instances, their corporations have more wealth than many nation states.


Small wonder then that there is an ongoing war in the ‘tribal belt’ and other violent conflicts elsewhere in the country. They are a means to an end. And that end is to facilitate corporate takeovers of food, agriculture, resources, land, public infrastructure and water. Powerful foreign and India corporations with the full military backing of ‘their’ politicians - the ex-bankers, the Western educated elite politicians that they helped put in place to do their bidding - have been facilitating grab lands for various industries, such the nuclear, real estate and resource extraction.


Successive governments have signed secretive ‘Memorandums of Understanding’ with corporations and have then proceeded to target some of the poorest people in the country who resist.


But these are the types of things that happen when powerful corporations and their stooges prize open a nation’s economy with promises, lobbying, bribes, threats or lop-sided trade deals. And they have the media and their bought-and-paid-for politicians to deceive populations that this represents ‘progress’ and ‘development’.


People are encouraged to sit back and watch Indian society get hollowed out because it is good for ‘the country’ or in the ‘national interest’. It’s not unique to India. It has already happened in the US and UK, with governments having facilitated the free flow of capital around the globe leading to the offshoring of their manufacturing bases to cheap labour economies for ever greater profit.


In India, successive governments have already placed part of agriculture in the hands of powerful Western agribusiness. The effects include biopiracy, patenting and seed monopolies, increasing levels of cancer, the destruction of localised rural economies, farmer suicides, water run offs from depleted soil leading to climate change and severe water resource depletion and chemical contamination.


Traditional agricultural practices are being destroyed by Western agribusiness interests, which work hand in glove with the petrochemical industry and its chemical inputs. From how land is used and food is produced to the quality of what ends up on the plate, both food sovereignty and the health of the nation are under threat. Part of the structural adjustment of Indian agriculture has led to a shift in India from the production of bio-diverse food crops for local consumption to commodities for exports.


The corporate-driven EU-India Free Trade Agreement being hammered out beyond the public’s gaze could well entail India’s finance sector and food retail/processing sectors and investment rules being restructured in favour of transnational corporations. Meanwhile, industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports, airports and seeds and infrastructure support for agriculture, are already being sold off.


The impact of ‘globalisation’ is stark. It’s based on the con-trick of neo-liberal, fast-track ‘development’. A promised land of lavish living, but which is ultimately only available to the trickster elite who attained it years ago via cartels, force and duplicity masquerading as the ‘free’ market. A global market rigged, bought and paid for by the likes of the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Warburgs and other billionaire fraudsters decades ago.  



As the race for parliament builds, the electorate would do well to consider from whose pockets certain protagonists crawl out of. Despite nationalistic rhetoric, you can be sure that certain party leaders are jockeying for position to do the bidding of their influential corporate cronies and backers at home and abroad. For them, the cynical manipulation of public sentiment is fine, but it just wouldn’t do to let the fate of the nation rest with the common folk, would it?

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