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Banking Cartels Are Sending Europe Into Collapse

Unequivocally, the rubber is hitting the road NOW!  So much so, I believe “last to go” markets are in danger of being overwhelmed by...
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Video: Inside the EU Dictatorship: live-stream the Cartels that control EU Machine – Yanis...

Yanis Varoufakis: 'The cartel running Europe's disintegrating economy is making it up as they go along' ... Via Youtube
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Video: Jail CIA MI6 not Street Dealers! 2008: banks suck in billions in cash...

In 2009 the US Office on Drugs and Crime reported billions in cash had flowed into banks from drug cartels to keep them from...
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Video: El Chapo is Caught, But Corruption, U.S. Consumption & Failed Drug War Keep...

Democracynow.org - The Mexican government has moved toward extraditing drug lord Joaquín "Chapo" Guzmán to the United States after his recapture in ... Via Youtube
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Video: Eric Holder: Inside Man for Banksters & Drug Cartels

HSBC not only laundered money for the Sinaloa cartel (who had made ISIS-style execution videos showing them chopping off heads with chainsaws), the bank...

Ex CIA Officer Claims ISIS And Mexican Drug Cartels Communicate

A former CIA officer, now a security consultant who regularly appears on Fox News, told the Laura Ingraham Show Thursday ISIS and Mexican drug...

Drug cartels? Amateurs! Here’s the real thing.

Drug cartels are amateurs: here’s the real thing by Jon Rappoport June 9, 2014 www.nomorefakenews.com Mexican cartels? Colombian cartels? Afghan poppy lords? Middlemen? Street dealers? Are you kidding? They’re small fry. Check out the pros. Medical News Today, June 22, 2013, “Most Americans on Prescriptions.” “7 out of every 10 Americans are on prescription drugs, […]

Major banks under investigation for ties to Mexican drug cartels

Federal regulators in the United States are reportedly investigation no fewer than two major American banks with regards to their relationships with clients believed...

How the US gave guns to Mexican cartels

John Dodson In September 2009, John Dodson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was assigned to the ATF's Phoenix office....

How the US gave guns to Mexican cartels

John DodsonNew York PostDecember 2, 2013 In September 2009, John Dodson, an agent with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives, was assigned to...

Mexican drug cartels exploit asylum system by claiming ‘credible fear’

Stephen Dinan Washington Times November 22, 2013 The House Judiciary Committee has begun looking at reports that Mexican drug cartel members are abusing the U.S. asylum system...

Mexican Citizens Forming Self-defense Groups Against Drug Cartels

Exasperated at failed attempts by the Mexican government to neutralize the drug cartel that virtually owns the Michoacán state and especially its principal city,...

Monsanto, Pioneer, Cargill, Tiger Brands: GM Maize Cartels Gorge Profits on South Africa’s Poor

The African Centre for Biosafety (ACB) has today released its new research report titled ‘GM Maize: Lessons For Africa-Cartels, Collusion And Control Of South...

Guns and Grenades for Cartels; Firing Squad for Whistleblowers

As the Obama administration and the embattled Justice Department struggle to cover up details of the “Fast and Furious” gun-trafficking scandal, the officials at...

Fleeing wrath of vicious cartels, record-breaking numbers of Mexicans seek political asylum in the...

Deborah HastingsNew York Daily NewsOctober 23, 2013 Antonio Chavez decided he just couldn't take it...

Narcoland: Journalist Braves Death Threats to Reveal Ties Between Mexican Government & Drug Cartels

Anabel Hernández has been described as one of the most courageous journalists in Mexico. In 2010, she published a groundbreaking book linking top Mexican...

'Israel, intl. cartels behind Mideast crises'

Israel and the global banking and energy cartels are behind the deteriorating crises across the Middle East as they are the key beneficiaries of...

Ex-Border Patrol Agents Warn: Politicians Helping Cartels in U.S.

Matthew BoyleBreitbartAugust 8, 2013 In an open letter to the public in late July, several retired...

Mexican drug cartels increasingly hire US military servicemen as assassins

Mexican drug cartels are hiring US military personnel to carry out murders. In exchange for cash or drugs, some American servicemen are working as...

Mexican drug cartels increasingly hire US military servicemen as assassins

Mexican drug cartels are hiring US military personnel to carry out murders. In exchange for cash or drugs, some American servicemen are working as...

Mexican forces fight drug cartels

Members of the Mexican Navy patrol a highway in the Mexico State, near the capital Toluca, January 29, 2013.

Mexico has scrambled military forces into areas near its capital to counter crime and drug cartels as the government stems violence across the country.

Around 50 marines and police officers supervised a checkpoint merely two hours away from Mexico City to check vehicles for drugs or weapons, AFP reported on Wednesday.

Despite the military occupation in the Greater Mexico City, having a population of over 20 million people, people welcome the policing presence.

"It is really good that you are doing this operation. We really needed this," a man with a wife and a baby told a marine armed with an M16 rifle as officers sifted through their taxi outside Toluca, the capital of Mexico State.

Authorities launched Operation Armor last week, where the government deployed 3,000 police officers, marines and soldiers in the Mexico State.

A recent battle between the drug cartel La Familia Michoacana and rival gang Guerreros Unidos in the area has pushed the state to enforce the counter action.

“The federal and state authorities acted rapidly and we will definitely prevent the state from being a place that criminal gangs or organized crime fight over,” Mexico State Governor Eruviel Avila Villegas said referring to the gang violence that he called a “sporadic” event.

Since mid-December the government of President Enrique Pena Nieto has taken a harder stance against crime and drug cartels across the country after introducing the creation of a 10,000-strong national police force.

Since election in July 2012, Pena Nieto has been using the Mexican military to stage security operations until he has put the new national police force into action.

GVN/JR

The War on Some Drugs

Drugs are a charged subject everywhere. They’re a “hot button” topic. Everyone has a strong opinion, often irrational, that seems to come from deep...

The U.S. is Fanning the Flames of Violence in Mexico

Photo by 16:9clue | CC BY 2.0 Over the past several months, drug-related violence in Mexico has been soaring, accelerating an already alarming trend of...

Justice Dept. and DEA don’t see eye-to-eye on marijuana research & MS-13

US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is blocking marijuana research which the Drug Enforcement Administration has requested...

Infamous ‘El Chapo’ challenges US extradition legality & ‘torturous’ confinement

Notorious drug lord Joaquin ‘El Chapo’ Guzman has filed papers claiming his extradition from Mexico violated...

$1mn worth of marijuana smuggled into US in new Ford cars built in Mexico

Published time: 17 Jul, 2017 19:09 Chunks of marijuana in the shape of half-moons were found...

Dismantling Power: The Zapatista Indigenous Presidential Candidate's Vision to Transform Mexico from Below

The Zapatistas and National Indigenous Congress (CNI) held an assembly in May in which they chose , and coalesce as agreements as peoples that...

3 indicted after DEA agents seize record 100 lbs of fentanyl

Published time: 20 Jun, 2017 20:35 A long-term investigation led to one of the nation’s largest...

Puppet of History: Panama’s Manuel Noriega

Bush appeared on television to praise the invading troops and to say his cowardly vision – all that a wimp with an inferiority complex...

Federal prison population to grow under ‘law & order’ president

The federal prison population is anticipated to grow by over 4,000 to a total 191,492 inmates,...

Why We’re Fragmenting: The Status Quo Is Disintegrating

The system is disintegrating, and slapping a “reformist” coat of paint over the dryrot cannot renew the structural timbers that have rotted to their...

Report: Mexico Second Deadliest Country in the World

As the total number of conflict fatalities decreased around the world in 2016, the number of intentional homicides exploded in Mexico. With...

Seeking El Chapo’s billions, US officials 'can’t find a single dollar'

Before Mexican drug lord Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman was captured last year and extradited to the...

‘8-yr assault’ on gun rights ‘has come to a crashing end,’ Trump tells NRA

US President Donald Trump became the first sitting commander-in-chief in more than 30 years to speak...

Jeremy Corbyn Is Britain’s Best Hope

British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson has suggested the UK could join US military action against the Syrian government without parliamentary approval. Johnson said he and PM...

Run for Your Life

“We’ve reached the point where state actors can penetrate rectums and vaginas, where judges can order forced catheterizations, and where police and medical personnel...

DHS chief tells Congress critics to ‘shut up’ or change immigration laws

Homeland Security Secretary John Kelly chastised Congressional lawmakers critical of the Trump administration’s immigration enforcement, arguing...

'This is the Trump era': AG Sessions reveals enforcement plan at US-Mexico border

The US attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has announced new reforms and guidelines for immigration enforcement including...

4 governors ask Trump admin to chill out on marijuana enforcement

Governors in four states that have legalized marijuana in some form have written a letter to...

Mexican attorney general faces drug trafficking charges after San Diego arrest

Published time: 30 Mar, 2017 12:19Edited time: 30 Mar, 2017 12:20 A Mexican state attorney has been...

16-Year-Old's Death After Coerced Meth Ingestion Underscores Violence of Immigration System

ICE has a long and sordid history of abusing migrants in detention. Under ICE's jurisdiction, migrants face sexual assault, torture and even death. (Photo:...

Fake News about Venezuela: A Simple Recipe

President Hugo Chavez “Journalists” who want to write fake news about Venezuela, or about any other country or group that dares to stand up to...

Jeff Sessions open to investigating Obama’s DOJ

Published time: 10 Mar, 2017 04:08 US Attorney General Jeff Sessions is not ruling out an independent...

Trump military budget may cut over $1 billion from the Coast Guard

President Donald Trump has proposed dramatic increases in defense spending, but his amplified budget could also...

Regulations Can Favor Some Businesses — And That’s Fine

As the Trump regime’s anti-environment onslaught begins, there are several terms used by men (and in the case of Trump’s cabinet, it’s nearly all...

Trump Signs 3 Executive Orders on Crime & Public Safety

President Donald Trump has signed three new executive orders aimed at targeting drug cartels, creating a task force to reduce crime and...

Trump signs 3 executive orders on crime & public safety

President Donald Trump has signed three new executive orders aimed at targeting drug cartels, creating a...

Trump ready to use defunding ‘weapon’ against immigrant sanctuary cities & states (VIDEO)

California could see its federal funding reduced to a trickle if it votes to become a so-called sanctuary state, with President Donald Trump saying...

‘Nonsense & downright lie:’ Mexico denies Trump threatened to send troops against ‘bad hombres’

After the AP and Mexican media reported that Trump had threatening to send the US military...

Mexico-California Tunnels Reopened

Many of the tunnels dug by drug cartels and people smugglers underneath the U.S.–Mexican border prior to 2007, and supposedly sealed to...

DEA knocked for ‘wasteful’ marijuana raids in states where it is legal

The Drug Enforcement Administration is being criticized for marijuana raids in states where the drug is...

The New York Times Is Nothing More Than Subservient Government Lapdog

On Wednesday, December 14th, the front page of The New York Times featured four news-reports, each of which displays how the employees (editors and...

What Has Neoliberal Capitalism Ever Done for India?

Colin Todhunter When India ushered in neoliberal economic reforms during the early 1990s, the promise was job creation, inclusive growth and prosperity for all. But,...

This Native American Tribe Wants to Block Trump's Wall

Tribal leaders of the Tohono O'Odham Nation warn that they would refuse to allow a border wall to cut through their land. (Photo: Bill...

Trump Has Been Scrooge McDuck

Remnant Review “President Obama is a very good man. I will seek his counsel in the future.” — Donald Trump (November 10, 2016) The honeymoon with...

ICE Warns of Clinton “Cataclysm”

If Hillary Clinton’s “open borders” plan is implemented, there will be a “cataclysm” which will “unleash violent cartels and brutal transnational gangs...

Hillary Clinton and the Muslim Brotherhood

The FBI investigation into Hillary Clinton’s private e-mails is not directed at a case of negligence in the face of security regulations but at...

Forget the Trump-Clinton Charade: It’s Time to Wake Up America!

Colin Todhunter (RINF) - Who will be the winners and the losers in the coming U.S. presidential election? Trump or Clinton, Clinton or Trump? The...

Marijuana, an Amazing Natural Drug

Prohibition kills a massive number of people in the United States every year. It does help make a few people extremely wealthy, but at...

The Coming Recession

By Gary North GaryNorth.com October 8, 2016 No matter who is elected this November, there will be a recession before the next President is elected. This is...

Trump delivers electrifying speech in Arizona, outlines ten-point plan for immigration reform

Sep 1, 2016 By Reinhard Wolff | redice.tv On Wednesday night, Trump appeared in Arizona to deliver a rousing speech...

Trump in Mexico: Illegal immigration harms 'both countries,' no talk of who pays for...

Donald Trump called on both Mexico and the US to work together to solve the problem...

Trump pledges to ‘track’ all immigrants to prevent visa overstays

US Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump promised to introduce a tracking system for all immigrants in...

Don’t let propaganda for the ‘looming cashless society’ deceive you

Since its invention in Babylon around 4,000 years ago, money has changed from gold coins, to coins of lesser value; to paper notes/cheques, plastic cards,...

Monsanto in India: Meet the New Boss – Same as the Old Boss?

In capitalism, the state’s primary role is to secure the interests of private capital. The institutions of globalised capitalism - from the World Bank,...

Shocking Claims Surface That Clinton Foundation Received ‘Drug Money’ 

Former Sr. HSBC Vice-President, John Cruz, Reveals Governmental and Banking Criminality Beyond Belief John Cruz is your ordinary family man. He put himself through college...

Clinton v Trump – Drug policies examined

It has been settled. Americans will have to choose between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump at the general elections. Now that it has all...

After a Cataclysm, What?

Preppers spend a lot of time and energy figuring out what they need to do to protect themselves and their families in a wide...

How This Became the Era of the Gunman

(Photo: Torrey Wiley / Flickr) Every era has its representative figure. The Neolithic era had the Farmer. The avatar of the Middle Ages was the...

US probe into HSBC money laundering ‘hampered’ by George Osborne – reports

Chancellor George Osborne sought to influence a US investigation into HSBC, after the bank admitted...

2nd day of protests outside NYC Mexico consulate over Oaxaca killings (VIDEOS)

More than 50 people protested outside Mexico’s consulate in New York, outraged by the massacre of nine teachers in southern Mexico. Police there are...

The Pentagon's Real Strategy: Keeping the Money Flowing

(Photo: David B. Gleason; Edited: LW / TO) These days, lamenting the apparently aimless character of Washington's military operations in the Greater Middle...

Our Immigration Policies Are Ridiculous

I recently stayed with a friend who lives just a few miles from the Mexican border — and from the start of the Pacific...

Civil asset forfeiture goes digital: Police tool swipes money from cards before conviction

Confiscating cash or property without a conviction or charges is now old hat for law enforcement....

Peanut allergy associated with vaccinations leads to profit for patch-peddling pharmaceutical company

A French pharmaceutical company is hoping to reap massive profits from a new drug patch that it says treats a common food allergy caused...

UK ‘most corrupt country in the world’ – mafia expert

Journalist and world-renowned expert on the Italian mafia Roberto Saviano has called the UK “the...

From Albrecht to Monsanto: A System Not Run for the Public Good Can Never...

The following extract is from the 2011 lecture ‘Healthy Soils, Healthy People’ by Professor John Ikerd. The lecture discussed the legacy of renowned agronomist...

Wasted: America and the ‘War on Drugs’

The 45-year “War on Drugs” has drastically increased the US prison population, swallowed up trillions of...

Cheerleader for US Aggression, Pushing the World to the Nuclear Brink: Britain’s Defence Secretary...

Michael Fallon is British Defence Secretary. He is adept at making the types of statements that epitomise the pro-neoliberal, militaristic rhetoric that people in...

The Clinton-Colombia Connection

Exclusive: Despite a grisly human rights record and alleged ties to drug traffickers, Colombia’s ex-President Uribe has been a favorite...

OpIcarus: Anonymous hackers shut down Bank of England, call for ‘online revolution’

Hacktivist collective Anonymous has launched cyber-attacks on major financial institutions across the world, including the...

The Border That We Keep

Y estábamos pasando el río cuando nos fusilaron con los máuseres. Me devolví porque él me dijo: ‘Sácame de aquí, paisano, no me dejes.’ —...

Future Options: From Militarism and Monsanto to Gandhi and Bhaskar Save  

US Presidential hopeful Bernie Sanders recently tweeted: “It is no mystery why Monsanto fights against our right to know about GMOs in food –...

Onshore Tax Havens

The first thing you notice on the cab ride from the airport to downtown Panama City is the skyscrapers. They’re architecturally beautiful, but jumbled...

Wealthy Americans Don’t Have to Go to Panama to Hide Their Wealth

Panama City’s skyscrapers certainly stand out. What you might not notice right away, however, is that many of them are empty. (Matthew Straubmuller /...

Treasury Dept. financial crimes director to join HSBC despite Mexican drug money taint –...

The Treasury Department's top anti-money laundering official is reportedly taking a top seat at HSBC, a bank struggling to cope with a record $1.9...

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...

‘There’s Never Been a Drug Law That Wasn’t Tied to Race’

Janine Jackson interviewed asha bandele and Laura Carlsen about the War on Drugs for the April 1, 2016, episode of CounterSpin. This is a...

Imperialism, political corruption and the real face of capitalism

The “Panama Papers” claimed its first casualty Tuesday, when Icelandic Prime Minister Sigmundur David Gunnlaugsson was forced to resign following protests by thousands of...

In historic first, border patrol union endorses Trump

A union representing US border patrol agents has endorsed Donald Trump for president. The move marks...

Feeding the Bank Balance or Feeding the World: GMOs, Development and the Politics of...

Modern state-corporate capitalism is stripping the environment bare through unsustainable levels of consumption. It is legitimised by a deceitful ideology that attempts to justify and...

Former DEA Agent Exposes US Government’s Role in Cocaine Epidemic

Were the CIA and the U.S. government responsible for devastating American communities by supporting drug traffickers? There is an epidemic of cocaine, heroin, and other...

Poisoned, Marginalised, Bankrupt and Dead: The Role of Agroecology in Resisting the Corporate Stranglehold...

It is becoming increasingly apparent that food and agriculture across the world is in crisis. Food is becoming denutrified, unhealthy and poisoned with chemicals...

Hillary Clinton’s Dark Drug War Legacy in Mexico

(Image: SOA Watch / Flickr) Mexico, John M. Ackerman wrote recently for Foreign Policy, “is not a functional democracy.” Instead, it’s a “repressive and corrupt”...

Breaking the Backbone of Indian Society: The Small Farmer

This is an updated and amended version of an article originally published in August 2015 which includes new information and new links to journal...

Is Obama’s Drug Clemency a Mirage?

President Obama once promised hope and that is what some non-violent drug offenders have left as they serve draconian “drug war” sentences. But Obama’s offer of clemency...

If Ramadi Is What ‘Victory’ Against ISIS Looks Like, We’re in Trouble

(U.S. Army / Flickr) One of the charms of the future is its powerful element of unpredictability, its ability to ambush us in lovely ways...

‘It’s a Way to Ignore the Failures That Exist in the US’

Janine Jackson interviewed Laura Carlsen about the arrest of Mexican drug cartel leader Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for the January 15, 2016, CounterSpin. This...

The Ultimate Blowback from U.S. Foreign Policy? Donald Trump.

(Photo: Gage Skidmore / Flickr) When the late Chalmers Johnson introduced the word “blowback” to describe the adverse consequences of Washington’s actions in the world,...

Is the Drug War Coming to Argentina?

(Photo: Global Panorama / Flickr) Buenos Aires City Mayor Mauricio Macri won November’s historic presidential runoff to usher Argentina into a new era as President Cristina...

‘These Are the Crimes That Really Matter’ – CounterSpin interview with Brandon Garrett on...

Janine Jackson interviewed Brandon Garrett about drug prices for the September 25 CounterSpin. This is a lightly edited transcript. ...

Can Jeremy Corbyn Stem the Tide of Neoliberalism and Militarism?

Jeremy Corbyn has won the British Labour Party’s leadership election by a landslide. Corbyn comes from the left of the party, a party that...

Europe’s Refugee Crisis and the Warped Morality of David Cameron

UK Prime Minister David Cameron this week said "as a father I felt deeply moved" by the image of a Syrian boy dead on...

Over 10 US journalists killed in connection with their work since 1991

The on-air killings of Alison Parker and Adam Ward in Roanoke, Virginia on Wednesday is only the most recent case of journalists being killed...

Hypnotic Trance in Delhi: Monsanto, GMOs and the Looting of India’s Agriculture

We are about to enter August. And that's a special month in India. Each year, on the 15th, the country commemorates the anniversary of independence...

Mexico Investigation Unearths More Mass Graves, but Still No Answers

On Sunday, parents of the Ayotzinapa students, missing for 10 months, led hundreds through the streets of Mexico City to call for justice by Deirdre Fulton The...

Greece to EU – Drop Dead!

Michael Collins “The referendum of 5 July will stay in history as a unique moment when a small European nation rose up against debt-bondage.” Yanis...

Top bankers’ pay rose 17 percent in 2014

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. By Andre Damon CEO pay at 15 of the world’s major banks shot...

Ignoring Reality, Subverting Morality: GMOs And The Neoliberal Apologists

Monsanto is often called one of the most ‘evil’ companies on the planet. It has a history of knowingly contaminating the environment and food...

Democrats’ Cave-In on TPP and TTIP. Good-Bye Democracy.

Eric Zuesse On Wednesday afternoon, May 13th, a catastrophic failure became clear to the few honest Democrats who were determined to stop Obama’s disastrous ’trade...

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...

How the Media Misrepresent ‘Fast Track,’ TPP, and TTIP

Eric Zuesse Both conservative and liberal ‘news’ media misrepresent U.S. President Barack Obama’s proposed international trade-deals as if they were about only such things as...

UN Lawyer Calls TTP & TTIP ‘a dystopian future in which corporations and not...

Eric Zuesse (RINF) - The Obama-proposed international-trade deals, if passed into law, will lead to "a dystopian future in which corporations and not democratically elected governments...

India and the Globalization of Servitude

Angus Maddison has noted that India was the richest country in the world and had controlled a third of global wealth until the 17th century. The...

The Great GMO Legitimation Crisis

Author of ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’ Steven Druker recently talked of how back in the seventies a group of molecular biologists formed part of...

The Great GMO Legitimation Crisis

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.

Feeding The Vultures, While Starving Agriculture: Capitalism’s Great Indian Con-Trick

The 4th Media, Global Research, Countercurrents, RINF

The story goes like this: India is an economic miracle, a powerhouse of growth. It is a nation that increasingly embodies the spirit of entrepreneurship. And the proof? Until recently, India had year on year 9% GDP growth (or thereabouts).

Such logic, statements and figures are the stuff of headlines that pay homage to the supposed wonders of neoliberalism which the corporate media trots out time and again in the belief that if something is repeated often enough then it must be true.

Visit Delhi or Mumbai and you can witness the trappings of this ‘success’. Newly built towns on the outskirts with gleaming apartment blocks and sterile shopping malls. What more could a person want? All well and good for those who have benefited from neoliberal economic reforms that began in 1991 - because indeed it seems that is all they do want.

But these beneficiaries of neoliberalism comprise a minority. They constitute but a section of the urban population, which in turn constitutes a minority within the country. They are the ones the ideologue-economists and corporate-controlled media in the West focus on when celebrating capitalism and its global ‘success’. But what about the bulk of the population, the two thirds that live in villages and rural India?

According to Sudhansu R Das, the Indian village was once enshrined in a performing eco-system and a healthy social life (see this). In fact, the village was the centre of a rural economy, an economic powerhouse of agricultural innovation, artisanship and entrepreneurialism. However, the British Raj almost dismantled this system by introducing mono crop activities and mill-made products. Post-independent India failed to repair the economic fabric and is now actually accelerating the dismantling. As a result, rural India is too often depicted as a ‘basket case’, a drain on the nation's subsidies and resources.

It is not, however, agriculture that is the subsidy-sucking failure it is so often portrayed as in the mainstream media. The spotlight should instead focus on corporate-industrial India, the supposed saviour of the nation, which has failed to deliver in terms of boosting exports or creating jobs, despite the massive hand outs and tax exemptions given to it (see this and this).  As subsidy-sucking failures go, it has much to answer for.

Of course, corporate-industrial India is engaged in a huge con-trick, which forms part of the neoliberal agenda worldwide: subsidies to the public sector or to the poor are portrayed as a drain on the economy, while the genuinely massive drain of taxpayer-funded corporate dole, tax breaks, bail outs, sops, tax avoidance and evasion are afforded scant attention. If anything, through slick doublespeak, all of this becomes redefined as being necessary to create jobs or fuel 'growth'.

But what does the taxpaying public get in return for subsidising the private sector in this way and for paying for its fraudulent practices? What do ordinary people get for being forced to ‘stand on their own two feet’ while subsidising a system of ‘free’ enterprise that is anything but free? Jobs...  'growth'?

No, they see record profits and levels of inequality and experience austerity, the outsourcing of jobs, low pay, the destruction of rights, deregulation, mass unemployment and the erosion pensions and social security (see this  and this).

The machinery of state is pressed into the service of private capital for the benefit of private capital under the guise of 'growth' or the 'national interest' and that is the price the rest of us pay.

This is exemplified by the following quote:
“We don’t think how our farmers on whose toil we feed manage to sustain themselves; we fail to see how the millions of the poor survive. We look at the state-of-the-art airports, IITs, highways and bridges, the inevitable necessities for the corporate world to spread its tentacles everywhere and thrive, depriving the ordinary people of even the basic necessities of life and believe it is development.” – Sukumaran CV
What Sukumaran CV describes above is in India underpinned by unconstitutional land takeovers, the trampling of democratic rights, cronyism, cartels and the manipulation of markets, which to all purposes is what economic ‘neo-liberalism’ has entailed in India over the last two decades. Corporations have run roughshod over ordinary people in their quest for profit.

In the process, there have been untold opportunities for well-placed officials and individuals to make a fast buck from various infrastructure projects and sell offs of public assets, such as airports, seeds, ports and other infrastructure built up with public money or toil.

This neoliberal agenda is based on state-corporate extremism, which has across the world resulted in national states submitting to the tenets of the Wall Street-backed pro-privatisation policies, deregulation, free capital flows, rigged markets and unaccountable cartels. It is the type of extremism that is depicted as being anything but by the corporate-controlled media.

Powerful corporations are shaping the ‘development’ agenda in India and the full military backing of the state is on hand to forcibly evict peoples from their land in order to hand it to mineral extracting and processing industries, real estate interests and industry.

Moreover, the deal that allows the Monsanto/Syngenta/Walmart-driven Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture in return for the US sanctioning and backing the opening up of India’s nuclear sector to foreign interests has shown who is setting the agenda for agriculture, food and energy.

Almost 300,000 farmers have taken their lives since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to (GM) cash crops and economic ‘liberalisation’ (see this). And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed and/or envisaged only leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no waterbad health, poor or falling yields and an impending agrarian crisis.

It’s not difficult to see where policy makers’ priorities lie. In a recent TV interview (watch here), food policy analyst Devinder Sharma highlighted such priorities:
“Agriculture has been systematically killed over the last few decades. And they are doing deliberately because the World Bank and big business have given the message that this is the only way to grow economically… Sixty percent of the population lives in the villages or in the rural areas and is involved in agriculture, and less than two percent of the annual budget goes to agriculture… When you are not investing in agriculture, you think it is economically backwards, not performing. You are not wanting it to perform. You are ensuring that the price they get today under the MSP (Minimum Support Price) has also being withdrawn. Leave it to the vagaries or the tyranny of the markets… Twenty-five crore people in this country are agricultural landless workers. If we give these people land, these people are also start-ups, these people are also entrepreneurs... But you are only giving these conditions to industry... agriculture has disappeared from the economic radar screen of the country… 70 percent of the population is being completely ignored…”
Farmers have been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship for hundreds of years. They have been "scientists, innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridisation experts" who have increasingly been reduced to becoming "recipients of technical fixes and consumers of poisonous products of a growing agricultural inputs industry" (see here).

In his interview, Devinder Sharma went on to state that despite the tax breaks and the raft of policies that favour industry over agriculture, industry has failed to deliver; and yet despite the gross under-investment in agriculture, it still manages to deliver bumper harvests year after year. Furthermore, when farmers are prioritised, politicians are accused of populism and playing to a vote bank. Yet when industry receives subsidies, hand outs and tax breaks, it is called 'reform'and portrayed as contributing to 'growth':
“When we talk about budgets, it’s going to be populism or reforms. What is reforms? … if you don’t give anything to industry, they call it ‘policy paralysis’. But if you give them all kinds of dole then they think it is growth, they think it is a dream budget. In the last 10 years, we had 36 lakh crore going to the corporates by way of tax exemptions. Where are the jobs? They just created 1.5 crore jobs in the last ten years. Where are the exports? ... The only sector that has performed very well in this country is agriculture. Year after year we are having a bumper harvest. Why can’t we strengthen that sector and stop the population shift from the villages… Why do you want to move the population just because Western economists told us we should follow them. Why? Why can’t India have its own thinking? Why do we have to go with Harvard or Oxford economists who tell us this?”
With GDP growth slowing and automation replacing human labour the world over in order to decrease labour costs and boost profit, where are the jobs going to come from to cater for hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers or those whose livelihoods will be destroyed as transnational corporations move in and seek to capitalise industries that currently employ tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions)?

Are they to become what Arundhati Roy calls the "ghosts of capitalism," the invisible, shoved-aside victims of neoliberalism who are deemed surplus to requirements?

India’s development is being hijacked by the country’s wealthy ruling class and the multinational vultures who long ago stopped circling and are now swooping. Meanwhile, the genuine wealth creators, the entrepreneurs who work the fields and have been custodians of the land and seeds for centuries, are being sold out to corporate interests whose only concern is to how best loot the economy.

As they do so, they churn out in unison with their politician puppets the mantra of it all being in the ‘national interest’ and constituting some kind of 'economic miracle'.

Feeding The Vultures While Agriculture Starves: Capitalism’s Great Indian Con-Trick

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Fast Food Nations: Selling Out To Junk Food, Illness Ad Food Insecurity

The 4th Media, Global Research, RINF and Countercurrents

Western agribusiness, food processing companies and retail concerns are gaining wider entry into India and through various strategic trade deals are looking to gain a more significant footprint within the country. The Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture (KIA) and the ongoing India-EU free trade agreement talks have raised serious concerns about the stranglehold that transnational corporations could have on the agriculture and food sectors, including the subsequent impact on the livelihoods of hundreds of millions. For example, see this on the dismantling of Indian agriculture, this on the KIA and the US neoliberal invasion of India and this on the US-Indo free trade deal.

What it all could mean is a trend towards a handful of big companies determining what food is grown, how it is grown, how it is processed, what is in it and who sells it. In other words, a Western model of intensive petro-chemical farming (aka the 'green revolution') and heavily processed grow-fast chemically-tampered-with food passed through a chain that sees it ending up in Western-style convenience supermarkets or fast-food outlets that rely on industrial farms. From seed to field to plate, the entire process would be handed over to a handful of large corporations whose bottom line is not agricultural sustainability, food security, food democracy or healthy nutritious food, but control and fast profit. 

Look no further than the situation in Africa. Daniel Maingi works with small farmers in Kenya and belongs to the organization Growth Partners for Africa. He says here that the ‘green revolution’ approach is based on Western-style agriculture, with its reliance on fertilizer, weed killers and single crops. Maingi was born on a farm in eastern Kenya and studied agriculture from a young age.

He remembers a time when his family would grow and eat a diversity of crops, such as mung beans, green grams, pigeon peas and a variety of fruits now considered ‘wild’. Following the Structural Adjustment Programmes of the 1980s and 1990s and a green revolution meant to boost agricultural efficiency, the foods of his childhood have been replaced with maize, maize, and more maize.

Maingi says here:

“In the morning, you make porridge from maize and send the kids to school. For lunch, boiled maize and a few green beans. In the evening, ugali, [a staple dough-like maize dish, served with meat]… [today] it’s a monoculture diet, being driven by the food system – it’s an injustice.”

In India, farmers are being displaced and policy makers have been facilitating a reliance on corporate seeds and corporate access to the food processing and retail sectors, both of which have traditionally tended to be small scale and key to supporting local (rural) economies and livelihoods. There are of course major implications for food security/sovereignty and the restructuring of society (see this), but what this could mean for the nation’s diet and health is already clear to see.

Although almost half the nation’s under-5s are underweight (the prevalence of underweight children in India is among the highest in the world, see this), rates of obesity in the country have tripled in the last two decades and the nation is fast becoming the diabetes and heart disease capital of the world (see this).  

Western style fast food outlets have been soaring in number throughout the country. Pizza Hut now operates in 46 Indian cities with 181 restaurants and 132 home delivery locations, a 67 percent increase in the last five years). KFC is now in 73 cities with 296 restaurants, a 770 percent increase. McDonalds is in 61 Indian cities with 242 restaurants as compared to 126 restaurants five years back, a 92 percent increase). According to a recent study published in the Indian Journal of Applied Research, the Indian fast food market is growing at the rate of 30-35 percent per annum (see this).

Of course, the dominant paradigm implies such a trend is positive. The commodification of (corporate) seeds, the manufacturing and selling of more and more chemicals to spray on crops or soil, the opening up fast food outlets and the selling of pharmaceuticals or the expansion of private hospitals to address the health impacts of the modern junk food system is ‘good for the economy’. It’s all 'good for business’ as more cash exchanges hands and certain businesses cartels thrive. And what is good for business is good for GDP growth. And what is good GDP growth is good for everyone, or so we are told.

Transnational food companies now see their main growth markets in Asia, Africa and South America, where traditionally (as in India) people have tended to eat food from their own farms or markets that sell locally-produced foods. Taking Mexico as an example, GRAIN describes how agribusiness concerns are infiltrating farming and transnational food retail and processing companies are taking over food distribution channels and replacing local foods with cheap, processed foods, often with the direct support of the government. Free trade and investment agreements have been critical to this process and an alarming picture is set out of the consequences for ordinary people, not least in terms of their diet and health (see GRAIN’s report here). 

In 2012, Mexico’s National Institute for Public Health released the results of a national survey of food security and nutrition. Between 1988 and 2012, the proportion of overweight women between the ages of 20 and 49 increased from 25 to 35 percent and the number of obese women in this age group increased from 9 to 37 percent. Some 29 percent of Mexican children between the ages of 5 and 11 were found to be overweight, as were 35 percent of the youngsters between 11 and 19, while one in ten school age children suffered from anaemia.

The Mexican Diabetes Federation says that more than 7 percent of the Mexican population has diabetes. Diabetes is now the third most common cause of death in Mexico, directly or indirectly. 

The various free trade agreements that Mexico has signed over the past two decades have had a profound impact on the country’s food system. GRAIN explains that after his mission to Mexico in 2012 the then Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food, Olivier De Schutter, concluded that the trade policies currently in place favour greater reliance on heavily processed and refined foods with a long shelf life rather than on the consumption of fresh and more perishable foods, particularly fruit and vegetables. He added that the overweight and obesity emergency that Mexico is facing could have been avoided, or largely mitigated, if the health concerns linked to shifting diets had been integrated into the design of those policies.

The North America Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) has led to the direct investment in food processing and a change in the retail structure (notably the advent of supermarkets and convenience stores) as well as the emergence of global agribusiness and transnational food companies in Mexico.

NAFTA required Mexico to provide equal treatment to domestic and foreign investors, with the elimination of rules preventing foreign investors from owning more than 49 percent of a company. It also prohibited the application of certain “performance requirements” such as minimum amounts of domestic content in production and increased rights for foreign investors to retain profits and returns from initial investments.

The Agreement triggered an immediate upsurge of direct investment from the US into the Mexican food processing industry. In 1999, US companies invested $5.3 billion in Mexico’s food processing industry, a 25-fold increase from $210 million in 1987.

Another effect of NAFTA on the Mexican food system was an explosive growth of chain supermarkets, discounters and convenience stores. GRAIN highlights how the food corporations began by colonising the existing, dominant food distribution networks of small-scale vendors, known as tiendas (the corner stores). Tiendas have proved critical to the spread of nutritionally poor food as they are the means by which transnationals and domestic food companies sell and promote their foods to poorer populations in small towns and communities.

According to GRAIN, the tiendas are, however, quickly being replaced by corporate retailers that offer the processed food companies even greater opportunities for sales and profits. By 2012, retail chains had displaced tiendas as Mexico’s main source of food sales. For example, Oxxo (owned by Coca-cola subsidiary Femsa) tripled its stores to 3,500 between 1999 and 2004.26 In July 2012, Oxxo was opening its ten thousandth facility, and is aiming to open its 14 thousandth store sometime during 2015.

For De Schutter, a programme that deals effectively with hunger and malnutrition has to focus on Mexico’s small farmers and peasants. They constitute a substantial percentage of the country’s poor and are the ones that can best supply both rural and urban populations with nutritious foods. His view is in line with numerous official reports that emphasise the key role that such farmers have in providing food security and which also stress the importance of agroecological farming (for instance, see this and this). Likewise, GRAIN argues that Mexico could recover its self-sufficiency in food if there were to be official support for peasant agriculture backed with amounts comparable to the support granted to the big corporations. 

In Mexico, the loss of food sovereignty has induced catastrophic changes in the nation's diet. The writing is on the wall for other countries such as India because this scenario is being played out across the world. (Diet aside, there are other severe deleterious health impacts that result from the indiscriminate use of pesticides that have accompanied the 'green revolution', not least in the Indian state of Punjab which has become known as a 'cancer epicentre': see this.) 

The situation is encapsulated by Vandana Shiva who outlines the consequences of opting for a food system that is based on a corporate-controlled, chemical-intensive system based on diminishing variety, fast food and fast profits:

“If we grow millets and pulses, we will have more nutrition per capita. If we grow food by using chemicals, we are growing monocultures — this means that we will have less nutrition per acre, per capita… The agrarian crisis, the food crisis and the nutrition and health crisis are intimately connected. They need to be addressed together. The objective of agriculture policy cannot be based on promoting industrial processing of food. The chemicalisation of agriculture and food are recipes for “denutrification”… The Green Revolution displaced pulses, an important source of proteins, as well as oilseeds, thus reducing nutrition per acre. Monocultures do not produce more food and nutrition. They take up more chemicals and fossil fuels, and hence are profitable for agrochemical companies and oil companies. They produce higher yields of individual commodities but a lower output of food and nutrition.” (See here, ‘The Real Hunger Games’)




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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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Global Research and Countercurrents 27/4/2014
Indian finance minister P.Chidambaram once claimed that his government’s policies were pro growth and pro equity (1). He talked of alleviating poverty in India‘in our lifetime’ by implementing the type of development policies currently being pursued. The minister envisages 85 percent of India’s population eventually living in well-planned cities with proper access to water, health, electricity, education, etc. Based on today’s population size, which is set to continue to rise, that would mean at least 600 million moving to cities. He stated that urbanisation constitutes ‘natural progress’.
The type of urbanisation being pursued in India is not ‘natural’, however, nor does it represent ‘progress’. It has thus far been largely based on unconstitutional land takeovers, the trampling of democratic rights, increasing and unsustainable resource usage and air and water pollution. But for Chidambaram and other supporters of cronyism, cartels and the manipulation of markets (2,3,4), which all go under the guise of economic ‘neo-liberalism’, such processes increase the amount of money flowing around the economy, which therefore increases the GDP figure and thus represent progress. In this respect, chopping down an ancient forest and selling the timber represents progress, and removing people’s access to traditional lands by handing them to corporations to somehow make cash profits from is also positive.
This warped notion of development has seen the poverty alleviation rate in India remain around the same as it was back in 1991 or even in pre-independence India (0.8 percent) (5), while the ratio between the top and bottom ten percents of the population has doubled during this period. According to the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development, this doubling of income inequality has made India one of the worst performers in the category of emerging economies (6).
This is the type of development being forced through by Indian politicians on behalf of national and international elite interests via the World Bank, WTO, and the G8, etc, and it is based on the idea that shifting people from agriculture to what are a number of already overburdened, filthy, polluted mega-cities to work in factories, clean the floors of a shopping mall or work as a security guard improves the human condition; or, more realistically, to live in slum-like conditions and be unemployed or underemployed, given that hundreds of millions are to be booted from the land to achieve Chidambaram’s 85 percent urbanisation figure.
Urbanisation is being forced through by what Vandana Shiva says is the biggest forced removal of people from their lands in history and involves one of the biggest illegal land grabs since Columbus, according to a 2009 report commissioned by the rural development ministry and chaired by the then minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.
In the West, urbanisation was not ‘natural’ and involved the unforeseen outcomes of conflicts and struggles between serfs, lords, peasants, landowners, the emerging bourgousie and class of industrialists and the state. The outcomes of these struggles resulted in different routes to modernity and levels of urbanisation (7,8).
Similar struggles are now taking place in India. The naxalites and Maoists in India are referred to by the dominant class as left wing extremists who are exploiting the poor. How easy it is cast legitimate protesters together and create an ‘enemy within’. How easy it is to ignore the state-corporate extremism across the world that results in the central state abdicating its responsibilities by submitting to the tenets of the Wall Street-backed ‘structural adjustment’ pro-privatisation policies, free capital flows, massive profits justified on the basis of ‘investment risk’ and unaccountable cartels which aim to maximise profit by beating down labour costs and grabbing resources at the cheapest possible costs. That’s the real nature of extremism. It is the type of extremism that is regarded as anything but by the mainstream media.
Powerful corporations are spearheading the agenda for ‘development’ in India and have been handed the rights to this process via secretive Memorandums of Understanding. The full military backing of the state is on hand to forcibly evict peoples from their land in order to fuel a wholly unsustainable model of development that strips the environment bare and ultimately negatively impacts the climate and ecology.
Moreover, due to the restructuring of agriculture in favour of Western agribusiness, over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997. And yet the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed only leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no water, bad health and bad or falling yields (9,10,11,12). Unconstitutional land grabs for SEZs, resource extraction, nuclear plants and other projects have additionally forced many others from the land.
With GDP growth slowing and automation replacing human labour the world over in order to decrease labour costs and boost profit, just where are the jobs going to come from to cater for India’s increasing population, never mind hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers?
To push through the type of progress and development Chidambaram wants, it is clear that farmers represent a ‘problem’ to be removed from the land and a problem to be dealt with once removed. Food producers, the genuine wealth producers of a nation, only became a problem when Western agribusiness was given the green light to take power away from farmers and uproot traditional agriculture in India and recast it in its own profiteering, corporate-controlled image. This is who is really setting the ‘development’ agenda. The processes involved constitute the ‘progress’ and ‘natural’ move towards depopulating rural areas that Chidambaram spoke of.
If it can’t be done via mass suicide and making it economically non-viable to continue farming as a result of world trade policies, ‘free’ trade agreements and ‘structurally adjusting’ (plundering) traditional agricultural practices and economies to ultimately ensure petro-chemical farming (and thus oil and the US dollar (13) remains king, let tens of thousands of militia into the tribal areas to displace hundreds of thousands, place 50,000 in camps and carry out rapes and various human rights abuses (14,15).
If anyone perceives that this ‘natural progress’ is not based on acquiescing to foreign corporations, they should take a look at the current corporate-driven, undemocratic free trade agreement being hammered out behind closed doors between the EU and India (16,17,18).It all adds up to powerful trans-national corporations trying to by-pass legislation that was implemented to safeguard the public’s rights. Kavaljit Singh of the Madhyam research institute argues that we could see the Indian government being sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of Indian courts if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments; this is already a reality in many parts of the world whereby legislation is shelved due to even the threat of legal action by corporations (19). Such free trade agreements cement the corporate ability to raid taxpayers’ coffers even further via unaccountable legal tribunals, or to wholly dictate national policies and legislation.
Of course, the links between the Monsanto/Syngenta/Walmart-backed Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the US sanctioning and backing of the opening up of India’s nuclear sector to foreign interests (on the back of a cash for votes scandal in parliament (20)) have already shown what the models of ‘development’ being pushed onto people really entails in terms of the erosion of democracy and the powerful corporate interests that really benefit (21,22).
Industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports, airports and seeds and infrastructure support for agriculture are being sold off. And how is this all justified? By the amount of cash sloshing around the formal economy (notwithstanding the massive amounts of money being siphoned off via corrupt deals and hidden from public gaze) and the reference to GDP growth – a single, warped, narrow definition of ‘development’ – a notion of development hijacked by economists and their secular theology which masquerades as economic ‘science’.
Do people really believe India’s future lies in tying itself to a corrupt, moribund system that has so patently failed in the West and can now only sustain itself by plundering other countries via war or ‘free trade’ agreements, which have little if anything to do with free trade? At best, it shows a lack of foresight. At worst, it displays complete subservience to elite interests at home and abroad.
Finally, if anyone perceives the type of ‘development for all’ being sold to the masses is actually possible in the first instance, they should note that ‘developing’ nations account for more than 80 percent of world population, but consume only about a third of the world’s energy. US citizens constitute 5 percent of the world’s population, but consume 24 percent of the world’s energy. On average, one American consumes as much energy as two Japanese, six Mexicans, 13 Chinese, 31 Indians, 128 Bangladeshis, 307 Tanzanians and 370 Ethiopians (23).
The Earth is 4.6 billion years old and if you scale this to 46 years then humans have been here for just four hours. The Industrial Revolution began just one minute ago, and in that time, 50% of the Earth’s forests have been destroyed (24). Forests are just part of the problem. We are using up oil, water and other resources much faster than they can ever be regenerated. We have also poisoned the rivers, destroyed natural habitats, driven some wildlife species to extinction and altered the chemical composition of the atmosphere – among many other things.
Levels of consumption were unsustainable, long before India and other countries began striving to emulate Western levels and high energy use. The current model of development is based on a totally misguided dream; or, to put it another way, a deceitful ideology that attempts to justify and sell a system that is designed to fail the majority of the global population and benefit the relative few (25).
Capitalism has for a long time succeeded in making most people blind to the chains that bind and which make them immune to the falsehoods that underpin the system. This wasteful, high-energy system is tied to what ultimately constitutes the plundering of peoples and the planet by powerful transnational corporations. And, as we see all around us, the outcome is endless conflicts over fewer and fewer resources. Such conflicts are likely to gather pace as wars are not only fought to grab resources, but are also manufactured in order to destroy states from within by fomenting civil wars and thus destabilize economies and reduce demand for resources (26). The outcome is also environmental destruction and an elitist agenda being forwarded by rich eugenicists who voice concerns over there being ‘simply too many mouths’: those mouths would only take food from their rich bellies – bellies that long ago became bloated from the fat of the land, lucrative wars and the misery brought about by economic exploitation. The super rich who currently run the world regard most of humanity as a problem to be ‘dealt with’ (27).
Finally, it is worth considering that the US as a nation and its oligarchs in particular achieved the level of affluence that they did more by way of ‘gansterism’, not by ‘freedom and democracy’ or ‘free market’ economics as that nation’s leaders like to tell the world. That much was admitted by the late Major General Smedley Butler, the US’s most decorated marine: he listed various corporations on whose behalf he fought for during his various military campaigns (28). Of course, little has changed since Smedley wrote about his experiences in 1935.
Maybe Smedley’s description of this aspect of the US’s route to ‘development’ are what certain Indian politicians really respect, as the strong (and soft) arm of the state works to secure access to the nations resources for powerful corporations.
Notes
7) Robert Brenner (1976), “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-industrial Europe”.Past and Present 70
8) Barrington Moore (1993) [First published 1966]. Social origins of dictatorship and democracy: lord and peasant in the making of the modern world (with a new foreword by Edward Friedman and James C. Scott ed.). Boston: Beacon Press.

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Furthermore the judge called the Obama administration's actions "criminal and unconscionable."


Direct quotes from the ruling in U.S. v. Nava-Martinez, which will be embedded below, accusing the Obama administration of aiding and abetting human traffickers, includes:


"By fostering an atmosphere whereby illegal aliens are encouraged to pay human smugglers for further services, the Government is not only allowing then to fund the illegal and evil activities of these cartels, but is also inspiring them to do so."
[...] 
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Back in 2008, Indian finance minister P. Chidambaram claimed that his government’s policies were pro growth and pro equity (1). He blamed an inept system of administering benefits to the poor for the low rate of ‘inclusive growth’. He also talked of the goal of alleviating poverty ‘in our lifetime’. What’s more, the type of development being pursued was deemed to be more or less correct and adverse effects were mainly due to lax application of laws, public officials dragging their feet over changes and misplaced fear about policies causing poverty, not alleviating it.

The minister also envisaged 85 percent of India’s population eventually living in well-planned, manageable-size cities with proper access to water, health, electricity, education, etc. Based on today’s population size, which is set to continue to rise, that would mean 600 million moving to cities and around 180 million people or their families eventually being directly dependent on agriculture for a living. He stated that urbanisation constitutes ‘natural progress’.


While some argue that unconstitutional land takeovers, the trampling of democratic rights in order to pursue a nuclear energy agenda, increasing  and unsustainable resource usage, and air and water pollution all taking place under the guise of ‘growth’ are adding to the misery and disenfranchisement of the poor, the minister argued that, taking Orissa as an example, the poor there had been poor since the world dawned and that setting up a steel plant or mining the minerals there would only help their situation by providing employment and ultimately helping the area to develop.


After 22 years of neo-liberalism, how much weight do the arguments set out above hold?


The poverty alleviation rate is around the same as it was back in 1991 and even in pre-independence India (0.8 percent) (2), while the ratio between the top and bottom ten percents of the population has doubled during this period. According to the Organisation for Co-operation and Economic Development, this doubling of income inequality has made India one of the worst performers in the category of emerging economies (3).


There is an implicit and sometimes explicit assertion in some circles that anyone who questions the push towards urbanisation, privatisation and neo-liberalism in general, which Chidambaram’s model of development rests on, ‘lacks perspective’ or is stuck in an outdated mindset that romanticises ‘tradition’ and resents ‘progress’ and the private sector.


Moreover, much mainstream thinking implies that shifting people from agriculture to what are a number of already overburdened, filthy, polluted mega-cities to work in factories, clean the floors of a shopping mall or work as a security guard improves the human condition. Or… to live in slum-like conditions and be unemployed or underemployed, given that 600 million plus are to be booted from the land to achieve Chidambaram’s 85 percent urbanisation figure. After all, there are only so many outscourced jobs to be had or mac-sector work to be done.


It is easy to fall prey to the belief that wholesale urbanisation is inevitable and should therefore be forced through by what Vandana Shiva criticises as being the biggest forced removal of people from their lands in history - and involving on the biggest illegal land grabbing since Columbus, according to a 2009 report commissioned by the rural development ministry and chaired by the then minister Raghuvansh Prasad Singh.


Furthermore, if anyone understands history, it becomes apparent that urbanisation was not ‘natural’ and involved social engineering and deliberate policies and the unforeseen outcomes of conflicts and struggles between serfs, lords, peasants, landowners, the emerging bourgousie and class of industrialists, the state and the stealing and enclosing of land. The outcomes of these struggles resulted in different routes to modernity and levels of urbanisation (4,5).


Of course, there is now a struggle now taking place in India. The naxalites and Maoists in India are referred to by the dominant class as left wing extremists who are exploiting the poor. How easy it is to lump legitimate protesters together as such and create an ‘enemy within’. How easy it is to ignore the state-corporate extremism across the world that results in the central state abdicating its responsibilities by submitting to the tenets of the Wall Street-backed ‘structural adjustment’ pro-privatisation policies, free capital flows, massive profits justified on the basis of ‘investment risk’ and unaccountable cartels which aim to maximise profit by beating down labour costs and grabbing resources at the cheapest possible costs. That’s the real extremism. That’s the extremism that is regarded as anything but by the mainstream media.


The mainstream assumption is that the coal must be mined, the ore extracted, the steel produced and the rivers exploited in the name of ‘development’. But who controls this process, who benefits and just what type of development ensues?


Tata, Essar and any number of wealthy corporations are handed over the rights to this process via secretive MoUs and the full military backing of the state is on hand to forcibly evict peoples from their land… all for their own good… all to fuel a wholly unsustainable model of development that not only forces folk from their lands, but strips the environment bare in the process and ultimately negatively impacts the climate and ecology. And the response: this is inevitable, this is progress, this is necessary because we have ‘the right’ to develop just as the West has and in their image and any social and environmental problems that ensue will be dealt with once we have ‘developed’… once it is too late.      


Development, if it is to have any substance, is about the well-being of people. A number of well-being surveys indicate that happier societies invest heavily in health, welfare and education, are more equal and live within the limits imposed by the environment. Many less wealthy countries (and wealthy) do well in such surveys because cultural priority is placed on family and friends, on social capital rather than financial capital, on social equity rather than corporate power.


The neo-liberal model of development runs counter to this.


Due to the restructuring of agriculture in favour of Western agribusiness, over 250,000 farmers have committed suicide in India since 1997. And the corporate-controlled type of agriculture being imposed only leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no water, bad health and bad or falling yields (6,7,8,9). Unconstitutional land grabs for SEZs, resource extraction, nuclear plants and other projects have additionally forced many others from the land.


There are already 93 million urban slum dwellers in India. How many more if the 85 percent figure of people living in cities is to be achieved?


With economic growth apparently slowing from around eight to nine percent annually to estimates that vary between four and six percent, just where are the jobs going to come from to cater for India’s increasing population, never mind hundreds of millions of former agricultural workers?    


It would be easy to conclude that farmers in India represent some kind of 'problem' to be removed from the land and a problem to be dealt with once removed. Since when did food producers, the genuine wealth producers, become a ‘problem’? The answer is when Western agribusiness was given the green light to take power away from farmers and uproot traditional agriculture in India and recast it in its own profiteering, corporate-controlled image. But this is who is really setting the agenda and constitutes part of the ‘progress’ and ‘natural’ move towards depopulating rural areas that Chidambaram spoke of.  


And if it can’t be done via mass suicide and making it economically  non-viable to continue farming as a result of world trade policies, ‘free’ trade agreements and ‘structurally adjusting’ (ie plundering) traditional agricultural practices and economies to ultimately ensure petro-chemical farming (and thus oil and the US dollar (10)) remains king, let tens of thousands of militia into the tribal areas to displace hundreds of thousands, place 50,000 in camps and carry out rapes and various human rights abuses (11,12).


And if anyone perceives that this ‘natural progress’ is not based on acquiescing to foreign corporations, they should take a look at the current corporate-driven, undemocratic free trade agreement being hammered out behind closed doors between the EU and India (13,14,15). It all adds up to powerful trans-national corporations trying to by-pass legislation that was implemented to safeguard the public’s rights. Kavaljit Singh of the Madhyam research institute in India argues that we could see the Indian government being sued by multinational companies for billions of dollars in private arbitration panels outside of Indian courts if national laws, policies, court decisions or other actions are perceived to interfere with their investments; this is already a reality in many parts of the world whereby legislation is shelved due to even the threat of legal action by corporations (16). Such free trade agreements cement the corporate ability to raid taxpayers’ coffers even further via unaccountable legal tribunals, or to wholly dictate national policies and legislation. 


Of course, the links between the Monsanto/Syngenta/Walmart-backed Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture and the US sanctioning and backing of the opening up of India’s nuclear sector to foreign interests (on the back of a cash for votes scandal in parliament (17)) have already shown what the models of ‘development’ being pushed onto people really entails in terms of the erosion of democracy and the powerful corporate interests that really benefit (18,19).


Industrial developments built with public money and strategic assets, such as energy sources, ports, airports and seeds and infrastructure support for agriculture are being sold off. And how is this all justified? By reference to GDP growth – a single, narrow definition of ‘development’ – a notion of development hijacked by economists and their secular theology which masquerades as economic ‘science’.


In India, that dubious measurement in terms of India's GDP growth has now hit the buffers. Do people really believe India’s future lies in tying itself to a moribund system that has so patently failed in the West and can now only sustain itself by plundering other countries via war or ‘free trade’ agreements, which have little if anything to do with free trade? At best, it shows a lack of imagination. At worst, it displays complete subservience to elite interests at home and abroad.


So what might an alternative vision to forcibly removing 600 million from rural India under the current warped notion of development involve? There are many visions and strategies being pursued. But as a basic starting point, the following offers a credible option:


“… We are therefore committed to resist patents on seeds and life forms promoted by the TRIPS agreement of WTO which lead to the privatization of biodiversity and piracy of traditional knowledge… We are committed to promoting alternatives to non-sustainable agricultural technologies based on toxic chemicals and genetic engineering. We are committed to changing the rules of unfair trade force on small peasants through the WTO Agreement on Agriculture, which are leading to destitution, debt and farmers suicides … Our mission is to promote organic fair trade, based on fairness to the earth and all her species, fairness to producers and fairness to consumers. We will... create another food culture, which respects diversity, local production and food quality… we are committed to creating a future of food and agriculture in which small farmers prosper and biodiversity and cultural diversity thrives… Biodiverse small organic farms increase productivity, improve rural incomes and strengthen ecological security. Large-scale industrial monocultures displace and dispossess small farmers and peasants, destroy the environment and create malnutrition and public health hazards. Our mission is to provide alternatives to a global food system, which is denying one billion people access to food and denying another 1.7 billion the right to healthy food, as they become victims of obesity and related diseases. Our mission is to provide “good food for all” through the promotion of biodiverse organic farming, food literacy and fair trade.” Navdanya Mission Statement (http://www.navdanya.org/about-us/mission)
  

Notes

The only way to roll back the power of corporations and their strategies outlined in the article is by being informed and actively resisting. If you live in the UK/Europe, to challenge the US-EU free trade agreement currently being negotiated, visit Coroprate Europe Observatory at:  http://corporateeurope.org/get-involved


4) Robert Brenner (1976), “Agrarian Class Structure and Economic Development in Pre-industrial Europe”.Past and Present 70

5) Barrington Moore (1993) [First published 1966]. Social origins of dictatorship and democracy: lord and peasant in the making of the modern world (with a new foreword by Edward Friedman and James C. Scott ed.). Boston: Beacon Press.





RINFORMATION

USA Topics 9/11 Agenda 21 Assassinations Banks Bush, George Jr Boston Bombings Bohemian Grove CIA Cointelpro Corruption DARPA Democrats Disinformation Congress Drones Eugenics FBI Federal Reserve Guantanamo HAARP ...

Obama War on Journalism: Feds Raid Reporter, Seize Notes

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Israel: Major International Cocaine Trafficking Hub


Israel: Major International Cocaine Trafficking Hub

by Stephen Lendman

A June UN Office on Drugs and Crime World Drug Report named Israel for its "star role." More on that below.

Israel is a serial lawbreaker. Its rap sheet already overflows. This revelation adds another reprehensible black mark.

The State Department's 2012 International Narcotics Control Strategy Report says:

"Israel’s illicit drug trade is regionally focused, with Israel as more of a transit country than a stand-alone significant market." 

"The authorities continue to be concerned with illegal pharmaceutical sales, retail businesses which are suspected money-laundering enterprises, and corruption accusations against public officials."

An earlier State Department report said "the Israeli drug market continued to be characterized by high demand in nearly all sectors of society and a high availability of drugs including cannabis, ecstasy, cocaine, heroin, hashish and LSD."

Drug trafficking and money laundering go hand-in-hand. On July 11, Haaretz headlined "US: Israeli played lead role in international drug money laundering ring."

Israeli/Colombian Isaac Perez Guberek was named. "Ten Panamanian companies, 11 Colombian companies and one based in Rosh Ha'ayin allegedly built (a) network that laundered hundreds of millions of dollars of drug money."

A State Department statement said:

"Isaac Perez Guberek Ravinovicz, a Colombian national, and his son, Henry Guberek Grimberg, a dual Colombian and Israeli national, lead a money laundering network based in Bogota, Colombia that launders narcotics proceeds on behalf of numerous drug trafficking organizations, including organizations based in Colombia."

They "primarily rely upon the use of ostensibly legitimate textile companies within Colombia to engage in trade-based money laundering."

A US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida press release added:

"(D)efendants are charged with conspiracy to launder the illegal proceeds from the manufacture, importation, sale, and distribution of a controlled substance." 

"If convicted, (they) face a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to 20 years in prison."

"Money launderers provide a critical service to narco-traffickers, helping them to wash, move, and hide their drug money."

The US Treasury called father and son Guberek as well as "29 other individuals and entities. Specially Designated Narcotics Traffickers (SDNTs)."

On June 26, 2012, Haaretz headlined "IDF soldiers suspected of drug trafficking along Israel's border with Egypt."

Twelve soldiers and career junior officers were named. They were "arrested for trafficking in drugs worth some NIS 800,000 (about $200,000)."

"The arrest sweep is one of the largest ever in the IDF." Suspects are Gaza Division trackers. They're deployed along Egypt's border.

Their job is assuring no border breaches. According to IDF military police, "a sergeant first class and a conscript soldier were involved in smuggling heroine, cocaine, hashish and ecstasy."

On June 21, they were arrested. Others were apprehended days earlier.

According to military police special investigations commander Lt. Col. Gil Mamon, an undercover agent bought drugs from one of the suspects.

Smuggling has been ongoing for months, he said. Three civilians were arrested on suspicion of involvement.

On October 19, Haaretz headlined "Israel becomes major hub in the international cocaine trade, abuse rising."

Annual UN World Drug Reports discuss ongoing trends. Israel is a major abuser.

The International Narcotics Control Board (INCB) implements UN drug treaties and conventions. 

In 2012, it named Brazil and Israel among "countries that are major manufacturers, exporters, importers and users of narcotic drugs."

Israeli cocaine trafficking is especially significant. Israel's Anti-Drug Authority (ADA) said cocaine use in Israel doubled from 2005 to 2009.

ADA rehabilitation unit head Haim Mal believes increased use reflects lifestyle changes.

"Whereas people in the past looked for drugs that would soothe them and produce peace of mind, now they are looking for drugs that will enable them to be more alert," he said. 

"Cocaine is a social drug that can be found in nightclubs in Israel's major cities and among a wide range of users, most of them in the liberal professions." 

Usage is "a social phenomenon that has emerged in Israel as in other countries around the world."

Heroin damages people physically, he added. "Cocaine damages the soul."

A young Israeli woman called "G" to maintain anonymity described her experience, saying:

"It was three in the morning and I had already had a number of drinks."

"The washrooms were really crowded, but not always because of bursting bladders." 

"There was a disorderly lineup that was moving along very slowly. Sometimes the door opened and out would come two to four people, who had emerged from one of the stalls." 

"After about a quarter of an hour, or it might have been 20 minutes, it was my turn."

"I went in with two friends. One of them took out a bag of coke and began to spread the stuff on a small surface." 

"He then used a credit card to arrange the coke in rows. I took out a 100-shekel note from my pocket, rolled it up and then each of us took turns snorting two rows." 

"At that moment, I still felt nothing. I went to the bar and ordered a vodka chaser. We all then went back to the dance floor. We danced up a storm and felt we could go on doing that forever." 

"Suddenly, you have this burst of energy. Everything was dark around me and I couldn't give a damn about anyone. I was so full of self-confidence."

According to the UN's report, cocaine trafficking and consumption are increasing in developing Asian countries. 

Israel was named among others. Cocaine arrived "fashionably late." Amounts seized are similar to figures other countries report.

In Israel, 63 kilograms were seized in 2009. In 2010, it was 71. In 2011, it jumped to 264. In 2012, it dropped to 171. One pound = 0.454 kg. 

Israeli authorities know these amounts are minuscule compared to what's trafficked and consumed.

Cocaine, hashish and other illicit drugs are readily available. Supply meets demand. 

Cocaine is called the drug of the rich. It's not just about price. Traffickers call it "the drug that lifts you up, because it takes you to the best places imaginable but leaves you sharp and focused - king or queen of the world."

Crack cocaine use isn't widespread in Israel. At least not so far. Cocaine consumption began during Britain's Mandate period. 

In 1929, Tel Aviv police seized 800 grams. It was cheap compared to today. It cost about 300 Palestinian pounds.

In America, one gram of pure cocaine costs $100 or more. Price various according to where sold. It's much the same in Europe and elsewhere.

According to international law enforcement agencies, Peru became the world's leading cocaine exporting nation in 2011. In 2012, it trafficked an estimated 538 tons.

Colombia ranks second. In 2012, it exported an estimated 345 tons. Bolivia was third with about 265 tons.

Revenues are huge. Black money attracts organized crime. According to Israeli police:

"There are Israeli crime organizations (involved) with the world's major drug cartels."

"Criminals are measured by their ability to traffic huge quantities of drugs and today there are several Israeli criminals who can traffic impressive quantities around the world." 

"Israeli drug criminals have a good reputation in the world because they meet several of the criteria in the field and because Israelis have global connections."

Israeli criminal ex-pats "never touch the drugs they traffic. They merely serve as middlemen." 

"They open a 'cashbox,' namely, a shipping container holding several hundred kilograms of cocaine, and they know how to find investors to fund" it.

Recent police reports say a cashbox en route to Australia was opened. Israeli criminals were involved in the deal.

The police's International and Serious Crimes Unit arrested members of an international trafficking network earlier.

Some were ex-pats. They worked for Israeli crime boss Yitzhak Abergil. 

His illicit activities included drug trafficking, money laundering, murder, extortion, embezzlement, illegal gambling and other crimes.

He operated in Israel, America and elsewhere. He was extradited to America. A 32-count indictment called his crime family one of Israel's most powerful. His operations continue without him.

In 2008, Israeli police broke up a major international drug trafficking ring. Huge amounts were sold. Other operations continue.

Israeli police conduct intelligence. They work with counterparts worldwide. According to an unnamed high-ranking official:

"Today we work with police forces all over the world on cases that involve not only Israel but also other countries." 

"The information flows constantly between the police forces of different countries." 

"Not only does the Israel Police have nothing to be ashamed of in connection with the war on cocaine trafficking; it has a lot to be proud of."

Cocaine is hugely profitable. In South America, a kilo (about 2.2 pounds) costs from $3,000 to $5,000.

According to an unnamed Israel Tax Authority drug and money laundering enforcement unit official:

"(Y)ou will almost always find cocaine in the possession of" couriers aboard flights from European countries and Israel.

Superintendent Noam Deshati heads Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport police unit 747. Around 13 million passengers pass through the airport annually. 

"You can bet your bottom dollar that we do not have the capacity for checking each and every one of them," he said. 

"Although we do not know whether there has been any increase in cocaine use, we do know that there has been an increase in the number of drug shipment seizures."

Couriers are well paid. Some earn thousands of dollars. It return, they transit drugs. Doing so is high risk. Despite efforts to curb trafficking, it continues flourishing. 

CIA involvement is longstanding. Peter Dale Scott's books and articles provide invaluable information.

"Since at least 1950 there has been a global CIA-drug connection operating more or less continuously," he said.

"The global drug connection is not just a lateral connection between CIA field operatives and their drug-trafficking contacts." 

"It is more significantly a global financial complex of hot money uniting prominent business, financial and government as well as underworld figures."

Global money laundering runs up to around $1.5 trillion annually. Most of it's from illicit drugs. Israel is tiny compared to America. It stands out as a major global cocaine trafficking hub.

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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CBS News has learned of a shocking link between a deadly drug cartel shootout with Mexican police last week and a controversial case in the U.S. The link is one of the grenades used in the violent fight, which killed three policemen and four cartel members and was captured on video by residents in the area.

According to a Justice Department “Significant Incident Report” filed Tuesday and obtained by CBS News, evidence connects one of the grenades to Jean Baptiste Kingery, an alleged firearms trafficker U.S. officials allowed to operate for years without arresting despite significant evidence that he was moving massive amounts of grenade parts and ammunition to Mexico’s ruthless drug cartels.

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The gun battle took place last week in Guadalajara. Authorities say five members of the Jalisco New Generation Cartel used at least nine firearms and ten hand grenades against Mexican police. If one of the grenades was supplied with the help of Kingery, as believed, it adds to the toll of lives taken with weapons trafficked by suspects U.S. officials watched but did not stop.

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After a break for dinner the other members of Harry's collective left the room and the conversation resumed around the woodstove. Now it was Tonio’s turn to explain. He started simply, talking about his early thirties and what he’d learned since meeting Danny Webster, his reasons for accepting Shelley’s offer to chair TELPORT, and, with as much technical language as he could muster, the company’s goals and on-the books plans. His intention was to work up to the secret they had kept for two years. In the process he described Angel, holding back about their relationship, and casually mentioned, without much detail, some of his recovered memories and suspicions about his uncle’s death.
When he finally reached the pay off – the discovery of remote time viewing and his personal pursuit of Jack the Ripper – Harry was less shocked than worried and amused.
“It’s true,” Tonio insisted, uncomfortable being the one who sounded crazy.
“I believe you. The question is, does the Don know?”
Tonio assured him that wasn’t possible.
Choosing frankness over defensiveness, he admitted that he wasn’t absolutely certain, in fact that it was part of his reason for being in Vermont, and that even his oldest friend Paulie might be watching him on Shelley’s orders.
“As long as it’s Paulie I think we’re safe,” Harry said, who’d met him during a ski trip. “But Wolfe Enterprises isn’t what it used to be. That’s why I ask.” Tonio’s frown said: tell me more!
“Daddy has satellites now, three so far. It’s still a young industry, and about five years ago Wolfe Enterprises bought E-Global, which builds and launches satellites and sells images to a wide variety of businesses – agro-cartels, oil companies who need to check on rigs, fishing fleets that want info on the best feeding areas, normal corporate shit. Live stream or images, whatever you want from their cameras in the sky. You just need the bucks.”
He paused briefly before continuing. “The trouble is, they also work with the feds. It’s synergy, a public-private partnership. The government’s satellite operator has a program, NextView, which shares the costs of satellite development with the private sector. From what we know it covered about half the cost of E-Global’s most recent model, GlobeWatch-3. And among its tasks is to provide surveillance for the Department of Defense.”
Harry speculated that Shelley’s takeover of TELPORT might in some way be related to other moves he was making in tech and aerospace. “Fuck man,” he added to hammer his point home. “He could be watching us now, the building at least.”
“But he’s not, right?” This was as good a time as any to make his pitch. “That’s why I need you. Look man, we know remote viewing could be exploited, any technology can be. The Pentagon invented the Internet, right? You told me that. But Danny isn’t doing this for the military or the Agency. He’s just a nerd inventor creating his dream and offering it to the public.”
“With a weakness that’s already been exploited,” Harry reminded him.
“Yes, but I run the company, the RTV end is totally insulated from the other units and anyway, no one knows what happens in Nutley except the three of us – now you. Danny runs the lab, Angel handles operations. What we need is help with strategy and tactics, plus your cyber skills. From what you said I can see that security and prevention need to be a higher priority.”
“I could do that. What’s your job?”
Harry laughed. “Right man for the right task.”
“Seriously, we need you. I need you. I need someone who has my back. Also someone I can level with, and work with to figure out what went down with Gianni. I’m almost positive it was a hit.”
“And the candidates?”
“At the moment? The CIA and Shelley.”
“Hard to say which would be worse.” Harry leaned back in his chair and took a series of deep breaths, considering the weight and shape of the information. “And what can you do for us,” he asked, “for the movement?”
“Underwrite it?” The lack of response told Tonio that wouldn’t be enough. “All right, how about this? Either we go public with RTV or no one gets it.”
“And if we use it ourselves,” he added, struggling to reflect what Harry might want to hear, “if we do, we use it to get some real truth out there, no matter whose ox is gored.”
“Right on,” replied Harry, pumping a clenched fist in mock salute. “So, where do we start?”
On the trip Tonio had come up with a list that covered the gamut. But now that he was in the cabin, near a warm wood fire, safe and relatively comfortable with a trusted old friend, he didn’t feel like discussing security firewalls at midnight. But he did want to know what Harry thought about his uncle’s death. After briefly explaining the evolution of his suspicions he asked for ideas on what to do next.
To Harry the answer seemed obvious, “Find out what the man was doing that could get him killed.” It sounded like the right place to start. Unfortunately, sleeping with his mother was the first clue that came to mind.

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Globalisation: A Vote In 2014 Will Be A Vote For India?

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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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Fooling The Public Over Syria

Photo by Narciso Contreras 


Countercurrents 28/8/2013 and Global Research 1/9/2013

"Attempts to bypass the Security Council, once again to create artificial groundless excuses for a military intervention in the region are fraught with new suffering in Syria and catastrophic consequences for other countries of the Middle East and North Africa." Russian foreign ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich.

Despite the stance expressed by Lukashevich, Russia has been depicted by various prominent Western politicians as an obstacle to ‘humanitarian' military intervention in Syria. As hundreds of thousands of deaths and injuries continue to mount as a result of US-led wars in the world, such humanitarian concerns ring hollow.

What these politicians are doing is called trying to take the public for fools.  

‘Their’ politicians

But this is what ‘their' politicians do: the taxpayer-salaried ‘public servants', who do the bidding of the powerful corporations, with the situation over Syria being a case in point (1).

In Britain, ‘public servants', like PM Cameron and Foreign Secretary Hague, dutifully obey their corporate-financier masters and their political bosses in Washington and were keen to lead Britain into a war, at first seemingly with or without the backing of the UN Security Council, with or without evidence that the Syrian government used chemical weapons.

Cameron said the world should not stand idly by as the Syrian government attacks its own people with chemical weapons. ‘Their' man in the Labour Party, leader Ed Miliband, seemed to be on board too. That was before MPs began to voice dissent and parliament then put a block on the plans for Britain’s involvement in any military intervention – for the time being at least.

Before any independently verified evidence was available, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel was already convinced of the Syrian government’s guilt. US State Department spokesperson Marie Haff also parroted this line on the BBC by saying: “Let there be no question about who is responsible for this.”

She also spoke about the Assad ‘regime' being intent on spreading chaos throughout the region.

Anyone who has been following this conflict (and the one in Libya, Afghanistan, Pakistan or Iraq) will note the rank hypocrisy of this Washington propagandist Haff. She should look very close to home if she wants to talk about spreading chaos (and death and destruction).   

After interviewing Chuck Hagel on TV, the BBC presented a range of military options and asked what would be the objective. Then we were told of the official line coming out of Washington, that the objective is not about regime change and not about intervening in a civil war, when quite clearly it is about both (2,3). The US and its allies fueled conflict and intervened in Libya and then helped bomb a path into Tripoli for the rebels to bring about regime change. And the US and its client states have been helping to stoke conflict in Syria for many months (4).

What Hagel, Cameron and Hague say about this conflict and how the issue of chemical weapons is being presented by much of the media is all based the same type of lie that has taken Britain to war in the recent past. And it is all being cheered on in the British press by the totally discredited Tony Blair, who urges military intervention in Syria on the basis of his foregone conclusion about the Assad government having used chemical weapons.

We should expect no better from such a man, though. The more naive might ask did Blair learn nothing from leading the country into an illegal war with Iraq? But Blair is not in the habit of learning lessons from actions that ended up in the mass killing of Iraqis - because Blair, as with Cameron and Hague, is ‘their' man too. And as ‘their' man, after leaving office, Blair has done very well indeed.

In 2012, The Telegraph newspaper in the UK discussed Tony Blair's jet set lifestyle and his UK property portfolio of seven homes worth £14 million (5). Blair is paid in the region of £3 million a year to advise both JP Morgan, the US investment bank, and also Zurich International, the global insurer based in Switzerland. On top of that he runs his own consultancy firm, which advises the oil and gas rich governments of Kuwait and Kazakhstan.  

Criminality

If we take what happened in Libya as a starting point for the type of events that may now unfold in Syria, we should turn to University of Johannesburg professor Chris Landsberg. He stated that, regarding Libya, the UN was misused to militarise policy, legalise military action and effect regime change (6). He subsequently challenged the International Criminal Court to investigate NATO for “violating international law.” Little if any talk of such matters, or of the 200 prominent African figures who accused Western nations subverting international law, by the gung ho mainstream media at the time though, which merely peddled with the pious narrative that NATO was essentially a civilising force in a barbaric world. It's the same narrative that we now witness over Syria. 

And this moral tone underpins the rhetoric about ‘protecting civilians' (by bombing them from afar – they then conveniently become ‘collateral damage’, not civilians; and that's okay because 'we' are doing it, not 'them'). It also underpins attempts to justify plans that have been in place for years to topple governments, including Assad's. US Vice-President Joe Biden has said there is "no doubt" that the Syrian government has used chemical weapons and that it must be held accountable. The situation has been prejudged by the world's self appointed policeman in order to pursue its well-documented wider geo-political agenda (7).

Washington hopes the public will be reeled in by its red-line-in-the-sand ‘look he used them’ ploy. Unfortunately for Washington, the public in the US or Britain has not been yelling for retribution. The public are tired of wars and don’t trust governments or intelligence agencies that cried wolf over Iraq and were found to be liars.

It’s not a case of who will save people from Assad, but who will save us from the lies that fuel the type of terror and instability we have seen in places such as Libya, Iraq or Syria? Who will save us from the depleted uranium or the drones? Who will save us from the aggression and militarism? Who will save us from the suffering brought about by the economic neo-liberalism of the corporate cartels and the financial institutions that dictate policy, whether military or non-military, and salt away profits in tax havens while expecting ordinary people to bear the brunt of their criminality, wars and deceptions?

The arrogance of people like US State Department spokesperson Marie Haff is breathtaking. People like Haff should think very hard before attempting to take the British public for gullible idiots. The public is not ready to accept at face value the deceit from her mouth, or some cooked up PR strategy designed to brow beat people into line. The ghost of Tony Blair’s wrongdoings haunts many British MPs, who have as a result successfully reined in Cameron and Hague, and is a constant reminder to a public that is unwilling to be fooled again.

No public appetite for war

With polls indicating very little appetite from the British public for military intervention in Syria, politicians and their PR people have their work cut to try to convince people that this is a cause worth backing (8). But at least they have a compliant media.

The BBC's depiction of NATO's attack on Libya was woefully one-sided and anti-Gadaffi (9). And thus far its track record on Syria fares little better. Take BBC world news editor Jon Williams over last year's Houla massacre incident. As noted by Chris Marsden (10), Williams admitted that the coverage of the May 2012 massacre in Syria by the world's media and the BBC was dodgy to say the least. Early in June, on his personal blog, Williams explained that, despite the claims by the BBC, there was no evidence whatsoever to identify either the Syrian Army or Alawite militias as the perpetrators of the massacre of 100 people. Indeed, leading German newspaper the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) reported that the Houla massacre was in fact committed by anti-Assad Sunni militants, and the bulk of the victims were member of the Alawi and Shia minorities, which had been largely supportive of Assad.

Williams said that the facts turned out to be few and that it was not clear who ordered the killings or why.

But why let facts get in the way of a good story? Kerry, Hagel and Haff certainly don’t. Why let the actual evidence (implicating the rebels) about a chemicals weapons incident (11) or the wider narrative (that disguises deceit and chicanery) about Syria (12) get in the way of a good fairytale? Push ahead regardless. The cooked up evidence will eventually be made to fit the preconceived policy… they hope.  

Cheer-leading from the sidelines, Tony Blair knows about that (13).


Notes














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AP Photo/Narciso Contreras
Countercurrents 26/8/2013

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


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


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


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


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

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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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


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

Notes

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Drip and drip again. It’s a walk through Triplicane. It’s a walk through the Triplicane and Royapettah areas of Chennai in July. It’s hot...

What Price Our Future: A Bulging Swiss Bank Account?

Global Research and Countercurrents 23/7/2013

Drip and drip again. It’s a walk through Triplicane. It’s a walk through the Triplicane and Royapettah areas of Chennai in July. It’s hot here. It’s always hot here. Watch your back. Watch your front. And, by the way, watch your side as well. Those mopeds, those scooters, those autos, those guided missiles from all directions. Around here, you walk in the road. Around here, city planners didn’t plan for much.  

A rush past half a dozen dimly lit pharmacy shops stacked to the rafters with boxes, bottles and more boxes. A rush past a dozen tiny one room eateries, non-veg, veg, wooden benches, plastic chairs, metal jugs of water on tables and metal mug waiting to be filled. A rush past street side shrines – tridents, Shivas, Nandis, Ganeshes, lingams. Smell the incense, feel the burn, sense the back streets of Triplicane.

It’s dusk. It’s dusk when each minutiae of life, each nuance, becomes more pronounced, more noticeable, in the neon-polluted haze. When traffic roars and darkness gathers. When anticipation prevails. When the aroma of freshly cooked food hangs in the air and women shop and cows munch. When dhabas bustle and chai shops steam. When firecrackers explode and a thousand vehicle horns blast. And through the choking traffic fumes, seated at the roadside, women sell bright yellow marigolds and sweet smelling jasmine.

A sharp left and off into the narrow lanes. Boys play cricket, children fly kites from rooftops. And dogs come to life after a hard day’s sleep in the shade. Intricately drawn kolams on the floor at the entrances to homes fade in the dark. Where art meets ritual, where community meets tradition, where the women who drew them assert their presence. Both young and old stop to offer a prayer at a small shrine, and a child says “hi” and continues with his game.

Look from a distance and see the cityscape. The occasional high rise jostles for space among a million concrete box buildings that spill across the landscape. Triplicane and Royapettah. Splashes in the spill.

The subtle shades of the night, the garish billboards advertising the latest blockbuster. The moustachioed handsome hero of the Tamil movie variety towers tall above the traffic. The hero, who dishes out and is sometimes the recipient of a form of slapstick violence that never really bruises, never really cuts and never really hurts. In make-believe movie-land, the pain is always dulled. Opium for the masses.   

And on the corner, by the cracked concrete entrances to the subways that traverse Anna Salai, the main thoroughfare, a bunch of cycle carts parked up. And a bunch of street stalls beckon. Frying, cooking, heating in the roasting night. A quick bite of dosa held in hand, a mouthful of rice shovelled with fingers. Street food served on the street, fast food eaten fast. It’s the India of roadside stoves, pots and pans. It’s the neighbourhood India of the common man, for the common man. It’s community.

It’s the type of small-scale enterprise India that many a politician would readily wrench from neighbourhoods in return for a pocket full of Walmart gold. India’s education system, healthcare system, infrastructure and welfare system has already been sacrificed for many a burgeoning Swiss bank account. Why not the rest of India too? It’s called accumulation by dispossession. It’s called stolen wealth. And the process has accelerated since the opening up of the economy in '91 (1). The impact is stark, but it’s not unique to India. A cheap con-trick sold to the masses on the road to some bogus notion of the ‘promised land’, some idiotic secular theology of neo-liberal fast track ‘development’.

A promised land of fortune, mansions and lavish living that the tricksters attained years ago - by cartels, force and duplicity masquerading as 'neo-liberalism', masquerading as the ‘free’ market. A global market rigged, bought and paid for courtesy of the Rothschilds, Rockefellers, Warburgs or various other billionaire fraudsters before India’s local mom and pop stores were but a twinkle in their parents’ eyes. No, it’s not unique to India. It's global. Like some of the pesticide-ridden/engineered crops in the fields, or the protruding bellies of the malnourished, it’s not genuine growth, but abnormal swelling. Like the soil sucked dry, people are left to wilt on the vine. 

The poverty alleviation rate in India is the same as it was 20 years back. Every second child is underweight and stunted (2). Eight of India’s states account for more poor people than in the 26 poorest African countries combined (3). Shopping and consumerism have become the concerns and priorities of India’s misinformed and misled creamy layer. Misinformed by news outlets that pass off infotainment as news. Misinformed by a government that cosies up to western multi-nationals with secretive ‘Memorandums of Understanding’ and then proceeds to target some of the poorest people in the country who resist as ‘the enemy within’ (4).

It’s all a bit of a mad dash this. An insane one. A corrupt one. We need to move to a different beat, to travel in a different direction, to make peace with our future (5).


Notes

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How the True Parasites from the Private Sector Suck the System Dry

The real "takers" in America are the unproductive rich .

March 21, 2013  |  

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You don’t have to be a Tea Party conservative to believe that the economy is threatened when there are too many “takers” and not enough “makers.” The “takers” who threaten the dynamism and fairness of industrial capitalism the most in the 21st century are not the welfare-dependent poor — the villains of Tea Party propaganda — but the rent-extracting, unproductive rich.

The term “rent” in this context refers to more than payments to your landlords. As Mike Konczal and many others have argued,  profits should be distinguished from rents. “Profits” from the sale of goods or services in a free market are different from “rents” extracted from the public by monopolists in various kinds. Unlike profits, rents tend to be based on recurrent fees rather than sales to ever-changing consumers. While productive capitalists — “industrialists,” to use the old-fashioned term — need to be active and entrepreneurial in order to keep ahead of the competition, “rentiers” (the term for people whose income comes from rents, rather than profits) can enjoy a perpetual stream of income even if they are completely passive.

Rents come in as many kinds as there are rentier interests. Land or apartment or rental-house rents flow to landlords. Royalty payments for energy or mineral extraction flow to landowners. Interest payments on loans flow to bankers and other lenders. Royalty payments on patents and copyrights flow to inventors.  Professions and guilds and unions can also extract rents from the rest of society, by creating artificial labor cartels to raise wages or professional fees. Tolls are rents paid to the owners of necessary transportation and communications infrastructure. Last but not least, taxes are rents paid to territorial governments for essential public services, including military and police protection.

All of these goods or services are necessary to make or distribute the goods and services generated by productive industry (which can be government-owned or nonprofit, as well as for-profit). If one or more of the sectors providing inputs or infrastructure to productive industry charges excessive rents, then industry can be strangled.  Industry cannot flourish if too much rent is paid to landlords, if credit is too expensive, if excessive copyright protections stifle the diffusion of technology. Even progressives must concede that guilds or unions or professions can use the power of labor monopolies to demand excessive incomes for their members and that at some point high taxes really do strangle the economy. (The evidence of successful high-tax-big government countries like those of Scandinavia suggests that you can go safely up to about 40-50 percent of GDP going to government, assuming the taxes are well spent and raised largely by less-distortionary taxes including consumption, property and wealth taxes).

All of this suggests that, if we want a technology-driven, highly productive economy, we should encourage profit-making productive enterprises while cracking down on rent-extracting monopolies, whether they are natural products of geography and geology (real estate and energy and energy and mineral deposits) or artificial (chartered banks, professional licensing associations, labor unions, patents and copyrights). This is a valid distinction between “makers” and “takers.”

Unfortunately, with the exception of some leftist and liberal economic thinkers who distinguish “rentier capitalism” or “financial capitalism” from “industrial capitalism,” conventional political discourse doesn’t distinguish among profit-earning “makers” and rent-extracting “takers.” Many progressives and populists indiscriminately denounce “big business” and “the corporations” as though a productive consumer electronics manufacturer were no different than a company that monopolizes the tolls from a privatized municipal parking meter system.  At the same time, the center-left, whose upscale supporters tend to be credentialed upper-middle-class professionals, tend to ignore the antisocial aspects of the rent-extracting schemes of the professional guilds — medicine, law and the professoriate — as well as of their elite accomplices, the credential-granting universities.

Cyprus…What You Can Learn From Iceland

As the Eurozone financial crisis continues to plague the island nation of Cyprus, its citizens are receiving a crash course in how an out-of-control banking industry and its corrupt banksters can bring an entire economy to its knees.

The Cypriot economy has ground to a halt, thanks to massive losses that its oversized banking sector sustained from investments in Greece and a deep recession.

Banks in Cyprus have been shut all week, and are not due to reopen until next Tuesday at the earliest, to try to prevent a run on the banks.

When all is said and done, and if the Cypriot economy ever recovers from this financial collapse, Cypriots will hopefully have a new-found awareness of the banks, and implement better oversight and regulation over their financial industry.

That’s exactly what they did in Iceland, and its working wonders for the small island nation.

In 2008, when the global financial crisis began taking down economies one by one, Iceland was hit incredibly hard.

All three of the country’s major privately owned banks collapsed, and Iceland’s stock exchange, the OMX Iceland 15, plummeted. Pension funds were slashed, and businesses were wiped out.

Iceland could have responded to that financial crisis the same way that the United States did, and come up with a massive bailout package to save the banks, and let their crimes go unpunished.

Or, Iceland could arrest the banksters that brought down the economy, bail out those most affected by the collapse – the average Icelanders themselves – and begin to rebuild the financial industry.

Iceland chose the latter. Jail the bums.

In December of 2008, the Icelandic parliament passed a bill establishing an Office of the Special Prosecutor.

The job of this new office was to investigate suspected criminal conduct leading up to, in connection with, or in the wake of the banking crisis, and to follow up these investigations by bringing criminal charges against those responsible for the crisis.

Since the Office of the Special Prosecutor was created, Iceland has been rounding up their banksters one after another.

In March of 2011, Robert and Vincent Tchenguiz were arrested in London, as part of the Special Prosecutor’s Office investigation into the collapse of the Icelandic bank Kaupthing.

In December of last year, a Reykjavik court sentenced two of the top executives at Icelandic bank Glitnir to jail time.

And just yesterday, nine more banksters from the Iceland bank Kaupthing were indicted and charged for their roles in orchestrating five large-scale market manipulation conspiracies.

These are only a few of the arrests that have been made, as Iceland cleans up its banking industry, and holds its own corrupt banksters accountable for their actions in the 2008 financial collapse.

Meanwhile, here in the United States, the Wall Street banksters that brought our economy to its knees are still sitting pretty in their corner offices or retired with hundreds of millions of dollars of your money.

Just look at Jamie Dimon, CEO of JPMorgan.

In a recent report on JPMorgan’s monumental multi-billion dollar trading loss, Dimon is alleged to have criminally withheld from regulators key details about the bank’s daily losses.

And numerous other reports have suggested that Dimon may have been complicit in JPMorganChase engaging in additional criminal and/or unethical activity.

But Dimon and the rest of his fat-cat buddies are doing just fine today, continuing to rake in multi-million dollar bonuses or golden-parachute retirements.

And Dimon’s actions pale in comparison to executives at the HSBC bank, who recently admitted in court to allowing Mexican and Colombian drug cartels to launder nearly $900 million through their bank. If you'd done that, you'd be in jail for the rest of your life, but these are rich white banksters who give millions to politicians and political parties.

Executives of the banks also admitted to using various schemes to move around hundreds of millions of dollars to nations subject to trade sanction, including Iran, Cuba and Sudan. And, reports suggest that some of this money made its way into the hands of terrorist organizations. If you'd done that, you might be in Guantanamo. But, then again, you're not a bankster.

Despite these egregious criminal actions, the United States has yet to jail a single HSBC bankster.

So, what’s the bottom line to all of this?

Eventually, when Cyprus’ economy recovers, the Cypriot government will have a choice to make.

They can choose to let their banksters go free, and risk another financial meltdown like we in the United States have chosen to do. Or they can take the Icelandic approach, crack down on corruption in their financial industry, and prosecute and jail those responsible for causing and worsening the collapse.

At the start of the 2008 worldwide economic collapse, Iceland was in worse shape financially than just about every country in the world.

Today, Iceland is home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world.

They got from there to here by throwing their banksters in jail.

Hopefully Cyprus will take a page out of the Icelandic playbook, and lock-up the banksters.

And America should do the same thing, too!

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Guest Post: What’s Supposed To Happen, And What Might Happen: 3 Baseline Scenarios

Submitted by Charles Hugh-Smith of OfTwoMinds blog,

What might happen: printing money and issuing propaganda lose their effectiveness.

We all know what's supposed to happen in the global economy: we get more of everything: more stuff manufactured, more coal dug up and burned, more "aggregate demand" i.e. insatiable desire for more of everything, more innovation, more wealth, more money printed, more debt taken on to buy more stuff and more education, more tourists occupying more beaches sipping more drinks, more strip malls built, more airports expanded, more jobs created, more taxes collected-- more "growth" of everything, in every way and every day.

Beneath this expansive more-of-everything splendor, the power structure is supposed to remain unchanged: a small political-financial Elite holds all the reins of power, a manufacturing-consent propaganda machine (a.k.a. mainstream media) persuades the masses all is well, wealth continues to accumulate in the top 1/10th of 1%, money is printed/created and distributed to the State-financial partnership's fiefdoms and cartels, moderate inflation eats away at the value of wages but makes debt cheaper to service, and the Upper Caste of technocrats continue their well-paid enabling of the Aristocracy's dominance.

The dream of tens of millions of young people is to join the Upper Caste of lackeys, factotums, toadies and apparatchiks serving the Aristocracy's cartels and fiefdoms.

In sum, the pie of wealth is supposed to expand so fast that the 10% left for the bottom 90% will be enough to satisfy their high expectations of endlessly rising prosperity.

That is Baseline Scenario #1: the Status Quo remains as it is, unchanged. This is what's supposed to happen as a result of central bank money-printing and central government borrowing and spending: the Status Quo of endless growth ruled by an Elite will continue on the same trendline it has traced since 1946: more growth, more financialization, more concentration of wealth and political power, more technological innovation, and so on.

Baseline Scenario #2 is the center cannot hold, and the Status Quo devolves.Those living through Scenario #2 will not notice any sudden changes; financial, political and geopolitical crises become the background noise to daily life.

The changes will be gradual and incremental: things will stop working as well, the homeless population will increase, stores will close, government offices will shorten their hours of operation, streets will remain unrepaired, hours will be cut, benefits will be trimmed, stadiums will no longer be filled during sporting events or musical extravaganzas.

There will be less of everything, not more, and a gradual but steady erosion of all "growth" baselines: fewer jobs, lower wages, fewer taxes collected, less profits, fewer retail outlets.

Faced with a shrinking pie to plunder and skim, the Aristocracy and its Upper Caste of technocrats will be forced to increase their share of the dwindling national surplus. Taxes and junk fees will rise, squeezing legitimate small enterprises into the informal economy, and the gulf between the Aristocracy/technocrat Upper Caste and the bottom 90% will widen: this can be characterized as the "third-worldization" of developed economies.

The disposable income of the top 10% will continue to rise, enabling them to retreat to the security of gated communities and luxury urban highrises, just like in Third-World megalopolises, while the gradual impoverishment of the bottom 90% erodes life outside the protected circles of the Elites and their well-paid worker-bees.

Anger and frustration rise, but food stamps, unemployment and transfer payments privatize the social mood: people are paid to stay home and watch TV or otherwise amuse themselves in political isolation. Nothing is sharp enough or drastic enough to spark a politically meaningful response. As long as the bread and circuses are ample, the masses are content to "get the best of what's still around" and go about their business without threatening the top 10%'s dominance of the national surplus.

Baseline Scenario #3 is something breaks: perhaps the trigger is a global credit event or a war, or perhaps it is the price of oil spiking on some disruption. The basic dynamic is this: increasingly fragile systems are increasingly vulnerable to sudden disruption and breakdown. On the surface, everything looks secure, until some event unleashes a cascade of unintended consequences.

The ultimate driver of Baseline Scenario #3 is diminishing returns: the political-financial Elite will respond as it did in 2008, by printing money to bail out banks and private cartels, by reassuring the masses via the propaganda mills, and so on, but these responses will have lost their initial effectiveness: the saturation of debt and propaganda will have reached 100%.

Printing more money and spewing more reassuring propaganda will no longer tamp down the crisis. Rather, the failure of these Status Quo responses will unleash an even more destabilizing crisis.

Baseline Scenario #3 will result when one of a network of highly interconnected systems breaks down, and all the other systems fall in a domino-like cascade of instability.

The key dynamic in Baseline Scenario #3 is the standard-issue official responses (print more money and issue more reassuring propaganda) will fail to stem the destabilization, and this failure will unleash an even larger wave of instability and breakdown.

Order will eventually be restored, but at a much lower level of wealth and prosperity. Baseline Scenario #3 will be replaced by Baseline Scenario #2--another period of erosion--until structural changes are allowed to reshape the political and financial landscape of power and wealth.

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Wall Street Banks: Too Big to Fail, Too Big To Jail

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In testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee last week, US Attorney General Eric Holder made an extraordinary admission.

Responding to questioning from Republican Senator Chuck Grassley, who noted that there had been no major prosecutions of financial institutions or executives by the Obama administration, Holder said: “I am concerned that the size of some of these institutions becomes so large that it does become difficult for us to prosecute them, when we are hit with indications that if we do prosecute—if we do bring a criminal charge—it will have a negative impact on the national economy, perhaps even the world economy…”

In other words, major banks are so economically important that, according to Holder, it is impossible to prosecute them for criminal activity. They are above the law.

This exchange occurred during a discussion of the Justice Department’s settlement last month with British-based HSBC, the world’s third-largest bank. HSBC had been charged with laundering billions of dollars for Mexican and Colombian drug cartels. In exchange for avoiding charges, HSBC agreed to pay $1.9 billion, or roughly two months’ profits. Top US officials explicitly vetoed any criminal charges, even on lesser counts than money laundering.

HSBC is only the latest bank to have received a free pass. Earlier this year, ten financial firms agreed to pay $3.3 billion in cash to settle charges of mortgage fraud: amid the housing market collapse, they had employees fraudulently sign off on thousands of mortgage foreclosures a month.

Last year, the government ended an investigation into Goldman Sachs without charges over its promotion of mortgage-backed securities at the height of the speculative bubble—even as Goldman Sachs bet against the assets itself.

In 2010, the Obama administration reached a settlement with Wachovia Bank on similar charges as those brought against HSBC: laundering billions of dollars of drug money, in this case for the Sinaloa Cartel. The fine was $160 million, less than 2 percent of the previous year’s profits.

Many similar arrangements could be cited. In each case, a check is signed—if there is any punishment at all—and business goes on as usual. Whatever money the financial institutions lose is more than balanced by their take of the $85 billion funneled into the markets every month by the US Federal Reserve.

In justifying the administration’s refusal to prosecute, Holder cites the banks’ immense power over economic life. That these institutions exercise dictatorial control over the economy and engage in unchecked criminal behavior is not an argument for refusing to prosecute them, however. Rather, it is an argument for expropriating them, taking them out of the hands of the criminals that run them, and placing them under the democratic control of the working class.

In its dealings with these institutions, however, the government acts as a direct representative of the financial aristocracy. First Bush and then Obama justified the bank bailouts after the 2008 crash by citing the need to “save the economy.” Since then, millions of jobs have disappeared. To pay for such bank bailouts, governments around the world are implementing brutal austerity measures, wiping out public education, health care, retirement and other social programs.

A stench of corruption hangs over the whole process. There is hardly a single Obama administration official in a position important to the banks that does not have previous ties to Wall Street. These include:

Jacob Lew was confirmed this month by the Senate as Obama’s new treasury secretary. Lew, Obama’s former chief of staff, is also the former chief operating officer of Citigroup’s Alternative Investment Unit, which bet against the housing market as it collapsed.

Mary Jo White is Obama’s pick to head the Securities and Exchange Commission. White, who will likely be confirmed easily after hearings scheduled for today, is a former attorney at the corporate law firm Debevoise & Pimpleton, where she defended Wall Street banks and executives, often against investigations by the SEC itself.

Then there is the extraordinary case of David S. Cohen and Stuart Levey. As members of corporate law firm Miller Cassidy in the 1990s, they defended banks and other corporations from white-collar criminal charges, including money laundering. They passed in and out of the Treasury Department and private practice.

In 2004, Levey joined the Bush administration as undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, responsible for overseeing narcotics trafficking and money laundering. He left in March 2011 to become HSBC’s chief legal officer. His deputy at the treasury department, and his successor, was none other than David S. Cohen. The two ex-colleagues would have both been heavily involved in forging the recent deal to settle HSBC’s money-laundering charges.

No banks or executives are prosecuted, because the individuals who would do the prosecuting and the individuals who would be prosecuted are, more or less, the same people.

Holder made his statements on the banks at the same hearing in which he laid out the Obama administration’s position that it has the authority to assassinate citizens within the United States without judicial review.

The coming together of these two statements is not simply coincidental. There is a class logic at work. With the active assistance of the state, the financial aristocracy is engaged in a looting operation, and criminality has become an integral part of the mode of wealth accumulation.

Anticipating social opposition, this same aristocracy is engaged in a conspiracy against democratic rights. While the banks and executives cannot be touched, anyone opposing these policies will face repressive police-state methods.

The political and economic system is rotten to the core. The only rational and appropriate response to such a state of affairs is to overturn this system, capitalism, and institute a new form of social organization based on the principle of social need—that is, socialism.

The active involvement of the state and all its institutions and parties in the criminal operation makes clear that the interests of the working class cannot be advanced except through a mass social and political movement, which aims to replace the government of the banks with a government of, by and for the working class.

Elizabeth Warren Confronts the Atrocity of Drug Money Laundering by Big Banks

Americans have been waiting for a politician like Warren for nearly a century.

March 10, 2013  |  

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Heavens to Betsy. Sen. Elizabeth Warren leapt from the gate of her first term pummeling Ben Bernanke on too-big-to-fail financial institutions. Then she demanded to know why American banks were never brought to trial. Finally, last Thursday, looking for all the world like a school principal called to sort out teenage hooligans, she queried regulators as to why HSBC bankers who launder money for drug lords and terrorists should go free. Quoth the senator:

"If you're caught with an ounce of cocaine, the chances are good you're going to jail. If it happens repeatedly, you may go to jail for the rest of your life. But evidently, if you launder nearly a billion dollars for drug cartels and violate our international sanctions, your company pays a fine and you go home and sleep in your own bed at night.”

Game on! Naturally, the left is swooning. Elizabeth Warren says what we all wish we could say to the besuited jerks who defend a crooked industry. Except, instead of snatching them by the lapels and screaming obscenities as we might do, Warren sits calmly and repeats her inimitably direct questions like a blond Terminator. The big banks and their lackeys can’t stand her, and it looks as if the feeling is mutual.

Americans love her because we have serious unfinished business with the banking industry. We remember how the White House chose to protect the bankers from the pitchforks in the wake of the financial crisis. We’ve gritted our teeth as bankers have charted a course to record-breaking profits as the rest of us slogged through a shitty economy.

Now it feels like the day we hoped for. The one the banking industry feared as it tried to thwart Warren's victory in 2013. There's a new sheriff in town, a real champion for the 99 percent who will not accept a two-tiered justice system and who dares look the criminal and the complicit in the eye. That Warren's showdown in the Senate Banking Committee corral came just a day after Attorney General Eric Holder fessed up to the fact that some banks are so big and powerful they are really above the law felt like balm on a freshly salted wound.

Economist Robert Johnson, executive director of the Institute for New Economic Thinking, who served as chief economist to the Senate Banking Committee under the leadership of William Proxmire, praised Warren's resolve in an email to me: "Elizabeth Warren has chosen to do something novel as a US senator: represent the people. In our money-drenched political system that is akin to defying gravity. God bless Elizabeth Warren."

Warren is certainly making welcome noises in these early days of her tenure. She is breaking a taboo in speaking up so forcefully this early in the game, as newbie senators are generally expected to keep their heads down. Cynics cannot deny the fact that it actually matters tremendously that someone knowledgeable is at the table. If regulators know they'll be cross-examined by a person who knows what they're up to, they may think twice about what they're (not) doing. They can't completely ignore congressional pressure, particularly as Warren is a majority member of the Senate. On HSBC, unfortunately, the case is probably closed. But banks certainly hate the negative light Warren shined on them with her latest confrontation. And that's welcome news. This is not small potatoes.

However, Warren will need to follow up her tough talk with serious legislative proposals that she could build support for as she takes the lead on banking issues. As Yves Smith has pointed out on Naked Capitalism, the real test of her tough-mindedness “will come through the letters, speeches, and positions she takes on banking matters outside the formal Committee sessions."

The Privatization of War: Mercenaries, Private Military and Security Companies (PMSC)

The Privatization of War: Mercenaries, Private Military and Security Companies (PMSC)

Private military and security companies (PMSC) are the modern reincarnation of a long lineage of private providers of physical force: corsairs, privateers and mercenaries. Mercenaries, which had practically disappeared during the XIXth and XXth centuries, reappeared in the 1960’s during the decolonization period operating mainly in Africa and Asia. Under the United Nations a convention was adopted which outlaws and criminalizes their activities. Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions also contains a definition of mercenary.

These non-state entities of the XXIst century operate in extremely blurred situations where the frontiers are difficult to separate. The new security industry of private companies moves large quantities of weapons and military equipment. It provides services for military operations recruiting former militaries as civilians to carry out passive or defensive security.

However, these individuals cannot be considered as civilians, given that they often carry and use weapons, interrogate prisoners, load bombs, drive military trucks and fulfill other essential military functions. Those who are armed can easily switch from a passive/defensive to an active/offensive role and can commit human rights violations and even destabilize governments. They cannot be considered soldiers or supporting militias under international humanitarian law either, since they are not part of the army or in the chain of command, and often belong to a large number of different nationalities.

PMSC personnel cannot usually be considered to be mercenaries for the definition of mercenaries as stipulated in the international conventions dealing with this issue does not generally apply to the personnel of PMSCs which are legally operating in foreign countries under contracts of legally registered companies.

Private military and security companies operate in a legal vacuum: they pose a threat to civilians and to international human rights law. The UN Human Rights Council has entrusted the UN Working Group on the use of mercenaries, principally, with the mandate: “To monitor and study the effects of the activities of private companies offering military assistance, consultancy and security services on the international market on the enjoyment of human Rights (…) and to prepare draft international basic principles that encourage respect for human rights on the part of those companies in their activities”.

During the past five years, the Working Group has been studying emerging issues, manifestations and trends regarding private military and security companies.  In our reports we have informed the Human Rights Council and the General Assembly about these issues. Of particular importance are the reports of the Working Group to the last session of the Human Rights Council, held in September 2010, on the Mission to the United States of America  (20 July to 3 August 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.3; on the Mission to Afghanistan (4-9 April 2009), Document A/HRC/15/25/Add.2, and the general report of the Working Group containing the Draft of a possible Convention on Private Military and Security Companies (PMSCs) for consideration and action by the Human Rights Council, Document A/HRC/15/25.

In the course of our research, since 2006, we have collected ample information which indicate the negative impact of the activities of “private contractors”, “private soldiers” or “guns for hire”, whatever denomination we may choose to name the individuals employed by private military and security companies as civilians but in general heavily armed. In the cluster of human rights violations allegedly perpetrated by employees of these companies, which the Working Group has examined one can find: summary executions, acts of torture, cases of arbitrary detention; of trafficking of persons; serious health damages caused by their activities; as well as attempts against the right of self-determination. It also appears that PMSCs, in their search for profit, neglect security and do not provide their employees with their basic rights, and often put their staff in situations of danger and vulnerability.

Summary executions

On 16 September 2007 in Baghdad, employees of the US-based firm Blackwater[1] were involved in a shooting incident in Nisoor Square in which 17 civilians were killed and more than 20 other persons were wounded including women and children. Local eyewitness accounts indicate the use of arms from vehicles and rocket fire from a helicopter belonging to this company.

There are also concerns over the activities and approach of PMSC personnel, their convoys of armored vehicles and their conduct in traffic, in particular their use of lethal force. This particular incident was not the first of its kind, neither the first involving Blackwater.

According to a congressional report on the behaviour of Xe/Blackwater in Iraq, Xe/Blackwater guards were found to have been involved in nearly 200 escalation-of-force incidents that involved the firing of shots since 2005. Despite the terms of the contracts which provided that the company could engage only in defensive use of force, the company reported that in over 80 per cent of the shooting incidents, its forces fired the first shots.

In Najaf in April 2004 and on several other occasions, employees of this company took part in direct hostilities, as well as in May 2007, where another incident involving the same company reportedly occurred involving guards belonging to the company and forces belonging to the Iraqi Ministry of the Interior allegedly exchanged gunfire in a sector of Baghdad.

Also in central Baghdad the shooting of employees of the PMSC, Unity Resources Group (URG)[2], protecting a convoy, left two Armenian women, Genevia Antranick and Mary Awanis dead on 9 October 2007 when their car came too close to a protected convoy. The family of Genevia Antranick was offered no compensation and has begun court proceedings against URG in the United States.

This company was also involved in the shooting of 72-year-old Australian Kays Juma. Professor Juma was shot in March 2006 as he approached an intersection being blockaded for a convoy URG was protecting. Professor Juma, a 25-year resident of Baghdad who drove through the city every day, allegedly sped up his vehicle as he approached the guards and did not heed warnings to stop, including hand signals, flares, warning shots into the body of his car and floodlights. The incident occurred at 10am[3].

Torture

Two United States-based corporations, CACI and L-3 Services (formerly Titan Corporation), were involved in the torture of Iraqi detainees at Abu Ghraib. CACI and L-3 Services, contracted by the Government of the United States, were responsible for interrogation and translation services, respectively, at Abu Ghraib prison and other facilities in Iraq.

Seventy two Iraqi citizens who were formerly detained at military prisons in Iraq, have sued L-3 Services, Inc. (“L-3”), a military private contractor which provided civilian translators for United States military forces in Iraq and Adel Nakhla, a former employee of L-3 who served as one of its translators there under the Alien Tort Statute. They allege having been tortured and physically and mentally abused during their detention and that they should be held liable in damages for their actions. The plaintiffs assert 20 causes of action, among which: torture; cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment; assault and battery; intentional infliction of emotional distress[4].

Arbitrary detention 

A number of reports indicate that private security guards have played central roles in some of the most sensitive activities of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) such as the arbitrary detention and clandestine raids against alleged insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan[5] and the involvement in CIA rendition flights[6] as well as joint covert operations[7]. Employees of PMSC would have been involved in the taking of detainees, from “pick up points” (such as Tuzla, Islamabad or Skopje) transporting them in rendition flights and delivering them to drop off points (such as Cairo, Rabat, Bucharest, Amman or Guantanamo) as well as in the construction, equipping and staffing of CIA’s “black sites”.

Within this context, the American Civil Liberties Union has filed a lawsuit in May 2007 against Jeppesen DataPlan Inc. (a subsidiary company of Boeing) on behalf of five persons who were kidnapped by the CIA disappearing in overseas prisons kept by USA secret services. Jeppesen would have participated in the rendition by providing flight planning and logistical support. The five persons were tortured during their arbitrary detention[8].

Health

The 2009 annual report of DynCorp International refers to four lawsuits concerning the spraying of narcotic plant crops along the Colombian border adjacent to Ecuador on behalf of 3 Ecuadorian Providences and 3266 plaintiffs[9].

From 1991, the United States Department of State contracted the private company DynCorp to supply services for this air-spraying program against narcotics in the Andean region. In accordance with the subscribed contract of 30 January 1998, DynCorp provides the essential logistics to the anti-drug Office of activities of Colombia, in conformity with three main objectives: eradication of cultivations of illicit drugs, training of the army and of personnel of the country, and dismantling of illicit drug laboratories and illicit drug-trafficking networks.

An NGO report indicated the consequences of the spraying carried out within the Plan Colombia had on persons living in the frontier region[10].  One third of the 47 women in the study exposed to the spraying showed cells with some genetic damage. The study established the relationship of the air fumigations of the Plan Colombia with damages in the genetic material. The study demonstrates that when the population is subjected to fumigations “the risk of cellular damage can increase and that, once permanent, the cases of cancerous mutations and important embryonic alterations are increased that prompt among other possibilities the rise in abortions in the area.

This example is particularly important given that Plan Colombia has served as the model for the arrangements that the United States would apply later to Iraq and Afghanistan. Plan Colombia provides immunity to the employees of the PMSC contracted (DynCorp) the same as Order 14 of the Coalition Provisional Authority did in Iraq.

Self-determination

The 2004 attempted coup d’état, which was perpetrated in Equatorial Guinea is a clear example of the link between the phenomenon of mercenaries and PMSCs as a means of violating the sovereignty of States. In this particular case, the mercenaries involved were mostly former directors and personnel of Executive Outcomes, a PMSC that had become famous for its operations in Angola and Sierra Leone. The team of mercenaries also included security guards who were still employed by PMSCs as was the case of two employees of the company Meteoric Tactical Systems providing security to diplomats of Western Embassies in Baghdad-among which to the Ambassador of Switzerland. It also included a security guard who had previously worked for the PMSC “Steele Foundation” and had given protection to President Aristide of Haiti and conducted him to the plane who took him to exile[11].

Trafficking in persons

In 2005, 105 Chileans were providing/or undergoing military training in the former army base of Lepaterique in Honduras. The instruction consisted in anti‐guerrilla tactics such as possible ambushes and deactivation of explosives and mortars how to avoid them. The Chileans had entered Honduras as tourists and were illegally in Honduras. They used high‐caliber weapons such as M‐16 rifles or light machine guns. They had been contracted by a subsidiary of Triple Canopy.

They were part of a group, which included also 189 Hondurans recruited and trained in Honduras. Triple Canopy had been awarded a contract by the United States Department of State. The strong contingent left the country by air from San Pedro Sula, Honduras, in several groups with a stopover in Iceland. Then reached the Middle East and were smuggled into Iraq[12].

The majority of the Chileans and Hondurans were engaged as security guards at fixed facilities in Iraq. They had been contracted by Your Solutions Honduras SRL, a local agent of Your Solutions Incorporated, registered in Illinois, United States of America, which in turn had been subcontracted by Triple Canopy, based in Chicago, United States of America. Some of the Chileans are presently working in Baghdad providing security to the Embassy of Australia under a contract by Unity Resources Group (URG).

Human rights violations committed by PMSC to their employees

PMSC often put the contracted private guards in situations of danger and vulnerability, such as the ‘private contractors’ of Blackwater, killed in Fallujah in 2004 allegedly due to the lack of the necessary safety means that Blackwater was supposed to provide in order to carry out the mission.

It should not be forgotten that this incident changed dramatically the course of the war and the occupation by the United States in Iraq. It may be considered as the turning point in the occupation of Iraq. This led to an abortive US operation to recapture control of the city and a successful recapture operation in the city in November 2004, called Operation Phantom Fury, which resulted in the death of over 1,350 insurgent fighters. Approximately 95 America troops were killed, and 560 wounded.

The U.S. military first denied that it has use white phosphorus as an anti-personnel weapon in Fallujah, but later retracted that denial, and admitted to using the incendiary in the city as an offensive weapon. Reports following the events of November 2004 have alleged war crimes, and a massacre by U.S. personnel, including indiscriminate violence against civilians and children.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fallujah – cite_note-17 This point of view is presented in the 2005 documentary film, “Fallujah, the Hidden Massacre”. In 2010, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a leading medical journal, published a study, which shows that the rates of cancer, infant mortality and leukemia exceed those reported in Hiroshima and Nagasaki[13].

The over 300 000 classified military documents made public by Wikileaks show that the “Use of Contractors Added to War’s Chaos in Iraq”, as has been widely reported by the international media recently.

The United States has relied and continues to rely heavily on private military and security contractors in conducting its military operations. The United States used private security contractors to conduct narcotics intervention operations in Colombia in the 1990s and recently signed a supplemental agreement that authorizes it to deploy troops and contractors in seven Colombian military bases. During the conflict in the Balkans, the United States used a private security contractor to train Croat troops to conduct operations against Serbian troops. Nowadays, it is in the context of its operations in Iraq and Afghanistan in particular that the State is massively contracting out security functions to private firms.

In 2009, the Department of Defense employed 218,000 private contractors (all types) while there were 195,000 uniformed personnel. According to the figures, about 8 per cent of these contractors are armed security contractors, i.e. about 20,000 armed guards. If one includes other theatres of operations, the figure rises to 242,657, with 54,387 United States citizens, 94,260 third country nationals and 94,010 host-country nationals.

The State Department relies on about 2,000 private security contractors to provide United States personnel and facilities with personal protective and guard services in Afghanistan, Iraq, Israel and Pakistan, and aviation services in Iraq. The contracts for protective services were awarded in 2005 to three PMSCs, namely, Triple Canopy, DynCorp International and the U.S. Training Center, part of the Xe (then Blackwater) group of companies. These three companies still hold the State Department protective services contracts today.

Lack of transparency

The information accessible to the public on the scope and type of contracts between the Government of the United States and PMSCs is scarce and opaque. The lack of transparency is particularly significant when companies subcontract to others. Often, the contracts with PMSCs are not disclosed to the public despite extensive freedom of information rules in the United States, either because they contain confidential commercial information or on the argument that non-disclosure is in the interest of national defense or foreign policy. The situation is particularly opaque when United States intelligence agencies contract PMSCs.

Lack of accountability

Despite the fact of their involvement in grave human rights violations, not a single PMSC or employee of these companies has been sanctioned.

In the course of litigation, several recurring legal arguments have been used in the defense of PMSCs and their personnel, including the Government contractor defense, the political question doctrine and derivative immunity arguments. PMSCs are using the Government contractor defense to argue that they were operating under the exclusive control of the Government of the United States when the alleged acts were committed and therefore cannot be held liable for their actions.

It looks as if when the acts are committed by agents of the government they are considered human rights violations but when these same acts are perpetrated by PMSC it is “business as usual”.

The human rights violation perpetrated by private military and security companies are indications of the threat posed to the foundations of democracy itself by the privatization of inherently public functions such as the monopoly of the legitimate use of force. In this connection I cannot help but to refer to the final speech of President Eisenhower.

In 1961, President Eisenhower warned the American public opinion against the growing danger of a military industrial complex stating: “(…) we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defence with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together”.

Fifty years later, on 8 September 2001, Donald Rumsfeld in his speech in the Department of Defence warned the militaries of the Pentagon against “an adversary that poses a threat, a serious threat, to the security of the United States of America (…) Let’s make no mistake: The modernization of the Department of Defense is (…) a matter of life and death, ultimately, every American’s. (…) The adversary. (…) It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy. (…)That’s why we’re here today challenging us all to wage an all-out campaign to shift Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the battlefield, from tail to the tooth. We know the adversary. We know the threat. And with the same firmness of purpose that any effort against a determined adversary demands, we must get at it and stay at it. Some might ask, how in the world could the Secretary of Defense attack the Pentagon in front of its people? To them I reply, I have no desire to attack the Pentagon; I want to liberate it. We need to save it from itself.”

Rumsfeld should have said the shift from the Pentagon’s resources from bureaucracy to the private sector. Indeed, that shift had been accelerated by the Bush Administration: the number of persons employed by contract which had been outsourced (privatized) by the Pentagon was already four times more than at the Department of Defense.

It is not anymore a military industrial complex but as Noam Chomsky has indicated “it’s just the industrial system operating under one or another pretext”.

The articles of the Washington Post “Top Secret America: A hidden world, growing beyond control”, by Dana Priest and William M. Arkin (19 July 2010) show the extent that “The top-secret world the government created in response to the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, has become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work”.

The investigation’s findings include that some 1,271 government organizations and 1,931 private companies work on programs related to counterterrorism, homeland security and intelligence in about 10,000 locations across the United States; and that an estimated 854,000 people, nearly 1.5 times as many people as live in Washington, D.C., hold top-secret security clearances. A number of private military and security companies are among the security and intelligence agencies mentioned in the report of the Washington Post.

The Working Group received information from several sources that up to 70 per cent of the budget of United States intelligence is spent on contractors. These contracts are classified and very little information is available to the public on the nature of the activities carried out by these contractors.

The privatization of war has created a structural dynamic, which responds to a commercial logic of the industry.

A short look at the careers of the current managers of BAE Systems, as well as on their address-books, confirms we are not any longer dealing with a normal corporation, but with a cartel uniting high tech weaponry (BAE Systems, United Defence Industries, Lockheed Martin), with speculative financiers (Lazard Frères, Goldman Sachs, Deutsche Bank), together with raw material cartels (British Petroleum, Shell Oil) with on the ground, private military and security companies[14].

The majority of the private military and security companies has been created or are managed by former militaries or ex-policemen for whom it is big business. Just to give an example MPRI (Military Professional Resources Incorporation) was created by four former generals of the United States Army when they were due for retirement[15]. The same is true for Blackwater and its affiliate companies or subsidiaries, which employ former directors of the C.I.A.[16]. Social Scientists refer to this phenomenon as the Rotating Door Syndrome.

The use of security contractors is expected to grow as American forces shrink. A July report by the Commission on Wartime Contracting, a panel established by Congress, estimated that the State Department alone would need more than double the number of contractors it had protecting the American Embassy and consulates in Iraq.

“Without contractors: (1) the military engagement would have had to be smaller–a strategically problematic alternative; (2) the United States would have had to deploy its finite number of active personnel for even longer tours of duty -a politically dicey and short-sighted option; (3) the United States would have had to consider a civilian draft or boost retention and recruitment by raising military pay significantly–two politically untenable options; or (4) the need for greater commitments from other nations would have arisen and with it, the United States would have had to make more concessions to build and sustain a truly multinational effort. Thus, the tangible differences in the type of war waged, the effect on military personnel, and the need for coalition partners are greatly magnified when the government has the option to supplement its troops with contractors”[17].

The military cannot do without them. There are more contractors over all than actual members of the military serving in the worsening war in Afghanistan.

CONCLUSIONS OF THE SENATE ARMED SERVICES COMMITTEE impact of Private Security Contracting on U.S. Goals in Afghanistan[18]

Conclusion I: The proliferation of private security personnel in Afghanistan is inconsistent with the counterinsurgency strategy. In May 2010 the U.S. Central Command’s Armed Contractor Oversight Directorate reported that there were more than 26,000 private security contractor personnel operating in Afghanistan. Many of those private security personnel are associated with armed groups that operate outside government control.

Conclusion 2: Afghan warlords and strongmen operating as force providers to private security contractors have acted against U.S. and Afghan government interests. Warlords and strongmen associated with U.S.-funded security contractors have been linked to anti Coalition activities, murder, bribery, and kidnapping. The Committee’s examination of the U.S. funded security contract with ArmorGroup at Shindand Airbase in Afghanistan revealed that ArmorGroup relied on a series of warlords to provide armed men to act as security, guards at the Airbase.

Open-ended intergovernmental working group established by the HR Council

Because of their impact in the enjoyment of human rights the Working Group on mercenaries in its 2010 reports to the UN Human Rights Council and General Assembly has recommended a legally binding instrument regulating and monitoring their activities at the national and international level.

The motion to create an open ended intergovernmental working group has been the object of lengthy negotiations, in the Human Rights Council, led by South Africa in order to accommodate the concerns of the Western Group, but primarily those of the United States and the United Kingdom and of a lot a pressure exerted in the capitals of African countries supporting the draft resolution. The text of the resolution was weakened in order to pass the resolution by consensus. But even so the position of the Western States has been a “fin de non recevoir”.

The resolution was adopted by a majority of 32 in favour, 12 against and 3 abstentions. Among the supporters of this initiative are four out of the five members of BRICS (Brazil, Russia, China and South Africa) in addition to the African Group, the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Arab Group.

The adoption of this resolution opens an interesting process in the UN Human Rights Council where civil society can participate in the elaboration of an international framework on the regulation, monitoring and oversight of the activities of private military and security companies.  The new open ended intergovernmental working group will be the forum for all stakeholders to receive inputs, not only the draft text of a possible convention and the elements elaborated by the UN Working Group on mercenaries but also of other initiatives such as the proposal submitted to the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, the Montreux Document and the international code of conduct being elaborated under the Swiss Initiative.

However, the negative vote of the delegations of the Western Group indicates that the interests of the new staggering security industry – its annual market revenue is estimated to be over USD one hundred billion – have been quite well defended as was the case in a number of other occasions. It also shows that Western governments will be absent from the start in a full in-depth discussion of the issues raised by the activities of PMSC.

We urge all States to support the process initiated by the Council by designating their representatives to the new open-ended intergovernmental working group, which will hold its first session in 2011, and to continue a process of discussions regarding a legally binding instrument.

The participation of the UK and USA main exporters of these activities (it is estimated at 70% the industry of security in these two countries) as well as other Western countries where the new industry is expanding is of particular importance.

The Working Group also urges the United States Government to implement the recommendations we made, in particular, to:

support the Congress Stop Outsourcing Security (SOS) Act, which clearly defines the functions which are inherently governmental and that cannot be outsourced to the private sector;

rescind immunity to contractors carrying out activities in other countries under bilateral agreements;

carry out prompt and effective investigation of human rights violations committed by PMSCs and prosecute alleged perpetrators;

ensure that the oversight of private military and security contractors is not outsourced to PMSCs;
establish a specific system of federal licensing of PMSCs for their activities abroad;

set up a vetting procedure for awarding contracts to PMSCs;

ensure that United States criminal jurisdiction applies to private military and security companies contracted by the Government to carry out activities abroad; and

respond to pending communications from the Working Group.

The United Nations Human Rights Council, under the Universal Periodic Review, initiated a review in November 2010 in Geneva, focussing on the human rights record of the United States. The above article is an edited version of the presentation given by Jose L. Gomez del Prado in Geneva on 3 November 2010 at a parallel meeting at the UN Palais des Nations on that occasion.

Notes

[1] Blackwater Worldwide abandoned its tarnished brand name in order to shake its reputation battered by its criticized work in Iraq, renaming its family of two-dozen businesses under the name Xe’, see Mike Baker, ‘Blackwater dumps tarnished brand name’, AP News Break, 13 February 2009.

[2] URG, an Australian private military and security company, uses a number of ex military Chileans to provide security to the Australian Embassy in Baghdad. Recently one of those “private guards” shot himself, ABC News, reported by La Tercera, Chile, 16 September 2010.

[3]J.Mendes & S Mitchell, “Who is Unity Resources Group?”, ABC News Australia, 16 September 2010.

[4] Case 8:08-cv-01696-PJM, Document 103, Filed 07/29/10. Defendants have filed Motions to Dismiss on a number of grounds. They argue, among others, that the suit must be dismissed in its entirety because they are immune under the laws of war, because the suit raises non-justiciable political questions, and because they possess derivative sovereign immunity. They seek dismissal of the state law claims on the basis of government contractor immunity, premised on the notion that Plaintiffs cannot proceed on state law claims, which arise out of combatant activities of the military. The United States District Court for the district of Maryland Greenbelt Division has decided to proceed with the case against L-3 Services, Inc. It has not accepted the motions to dismiss allowing the case to go forward.

[5] Mission to the United States of America, Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, United Nations document, A/HRC/15/25/Add.3, paragraphs 22.

[6] James Risen and Mark Mazzetti, “Blackwater guards tied to secret C.I.A. raids ”, New York Times, 10

December 2009.

[7] Adam Ciralsky, “Tycoon, contractor, soldier, spy”, Vanity Fair, January 2010. See also Claim No. HQ08X02800 in the High Court of Justice, Queen’s Bench Division, Binyam Mohamed v. Jeppesen UK Ltd, report of James Gavin Simpson, 26 May 2009.

[8]ACLU Press Release, UN Report Underscores Lack of Accountability and Oversight for Military and Security Contractors, New York, 14 September 2010.

[9] The reports also indicates that the Revenues of DynCorp for 2006 were of USD 1 966 993 and for 2009 USD 3 101 093

[10] Mission to Ecuador, Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, United Nations document, A/HRC/4/42/Add.2

[11] A number of the persons involved in the attempted coup were arrested in Zimbabwe, other in Equatorial Guinea itself the place where the coup was intended to take place to overthrow the government and put another in its place in order to get the rich resources in oil. In 2004 and 2008 the trials took place in Equatorial Guinea of those arrested in connection with this coup attempt, including of the British citizen Simon Mann and the South African Nick du Toit. The President of Equatorial Guinea pardoned all foreigners linked to this coup attempt in November 2009 by. A number of reports indicated that trials failed to comply with international human rights standards and that some of the accused had been subjected to torture and ill-treatment. The government of Equatorial Guinea has three ongoing trials in the United Kingdom, Spain and Lebanon against the persons who were behind the attempted coup.
[12] Report of the Working Group on the use of mercenaries, Mission to Honduras, United Nations document A/HRC/4/42/Add.1.
[13] Wikipedia
[14] Mercenaries without borders by Karel Vereycken,  Friday Sep 21st, 2007
[15] Among which General Carl E. Vuono, Chief of the Army during the Gulf War and the invasion of Panama; General Crosbie E. Saint, former Commander in Chief of the  USA Army in Europe and General Ron Griffith. The President of MPRI is General Bantant J. Craddock.

[16] Such as Cofer Black, former Chief of the Counter Terrorism Center; Enrique Prado, former Chief of Operations and Rof Richter, second in command of the Clandestine Services of the Company
[17] Article published in the Spring 2010 issue of the University of Chicago Law Review, titled “Privatization’s Pretensions” by Jon D. Michaels, Acting Professor of Law at the UCLA School of Law
[18] INQUIRY INTO THE ROLE AND OVERSIGHT OF PRIVATE SECURITY CONTRACTORS IN AFGHANISTAN, R E P O R T TOGETHER WITH ADDITIONAL VIEWS OF THE COMMITTEE ON ARMED SERVICES UNITED STATES SENATE, 28 September 2010