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Boost Britain’s NATO spending so US will ‘take us seriously,’ says peer

America will only treat Britain as a serious global player if the UK raises the share of its GDP contributed to NATO each year,...

Why Brookings Institution & The Establishment Love Wars

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org America’s recent (at least since 2003) penchant for invasions of countries that haven’t invaded us (such as Iraq in...

Homelessness: A Case for Preventative Action

In January 2016, a medical doctor noted his surgery, the Brighton Homeless Healthcare centre, had seen 21 deaths last year alone. His figures also...

Huge cut in vasectomy operations as men put off fatherhood until later life

The number of vasectomies carried out each year has fallen by almost two-thirds in a...

October 2016: The Month Political Journalism Died

A version of this commentary originally appeared on Environmental Health News (10/19/16). Fox News‘ Chris Wallace before the last chance to ask both major presidential...

Prop. 51 Versus a State-Owned Bank: How California Can Save $10 Billion on...

(RINF) - School districts are notoriously short of funding – so short that some California districts have succumbed to Capital Appreciation Bonds that will cost...

4 in 10 Britons living in ‘squalid, below-standard homes,’ claims housing charity

More than four in 10 homes in Britain are falling short of an acceptable standard...

4 in 10 Britons living in ‘squalid, below-standard homes,’ claims housing charity

More than four in 10 homes in Britain are falling short of an acceptable standard to live in, with many not having hot or...

MoD to buy £3bn armored vehicle fleet from Germany – report

The British Army is set to buy up to 800 infantry vehicles from Germany at...

Victims of modern slavery ‘lost’ in system by British police

Police forces across the country are failing thousands of victims of modern slavery by failing...

Toxic Allegiances and Corporate Power: Open Letter to the Oxford Martin Commission

Colin Todhunter The Oxford Martin School is based at Oxford University in the UK. In what seems to be a laudable aim, the school has...

What Got Left Out–and Right-Spun–at VP Debate

CBS News‘ Elaine Quijano, the vice presidential debate moderator. The vice presidential debate (10/4/16) provided a stark picture of just how distorted corporate media’s priorities...

The Unmourned Plutonium Disposal Deal

Exclusive: An apparent casualty of the New Cold War was a U.S.-Russian agreement for eliminating weapons-grade plutonium but the deal’s...

‘Russian bear that hibernates’: Kaine & Pence fight about Russia as Putin takes...

Russia does have a big impact on US elections, but mostly in the heads of vice...

Bring Back the Cold War

Pundits have declared a “New Cold War.” If only! The Cold War was a time when leaders focused on reducing tensions between nuclear powers....

Hammond praises Osborne’s economic legacy… then tears up Tory manifesto

Chancellor Philip Hammond sang the praises of his predecessor George Osborne at the Conservative Party...

Bring Back the Cold War

Pundits have declared a “New Cold War.” If only! The Cold War was a time when leaders focused on reducing tensions between nuclear powers....

Cutting immigration matters more to Brits than single market access, poll finds

British people don’t care about Europe’s single market as much as they care about keeping...

Bring Back the Cold War

Pundits have declared a “New Cold War.” If only! The Cold War was a time when leaders focused on reducing tensions between nuclear powers....

What Actually Keeps Americans Safe: Liberty

Originally posted at TomDispatch. Since 9/11, untold sums of money have gone into building up the national security state. That includes new billion-dollar-plus...

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

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

‘Hard Brexit’ looms as May pressured to name the date

Prime Minister Theresa May is under pressure to announce when she will trigger Article 50...

Saudi prince & Queen Elizabeth handed £900K EU taxpayer-funded subsidies

A Saudi prince and the Queen have been named in a list of wealthy landowners...

The Lost Language of Integration

(Photo: Ars Electronica / Flickr) In a recent This American Life episode, investigative journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones discusses the perils of America’s segregated school system. She points...

Red-Light Warning on Now, About Hillary Clinton

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Hillary Clinton, on September 19th, was endorsed for President, by the most historically important, intelligent, and dangerous, Republican of...

British public shows ‘few signs of regret’ over Brexit – polling expert

A polling expert has dismissed claims Brits are experiencing ‘buyers’ remorse’ over Brexit, insisting most...

The Real Enemy of Both Koreas

Warring hotspots all over the world are flaring up in 2016 in what amounts to preparation for World War III between the military forces...

Tunisia: New Leaders, Old Challenges

Youssef Chahed The current US presidential campaign debate on Middle East policy has focused disproportionately on the US response to the Islamic State (ISIS or...

Corruption and waste in Afghanistan: Role of US gov’t exposed in new report

A new report examining widespread corruption and waste in Afghanistan found that the practice blossomed following...

Former British PM David Cameron resigns as MP with immediate effect

Former Prime Minister David Cameron has resigned from Parliament with immediate effect. The MP for...

EU leaders ‘frustrated’ with ‘completely unrealistic’ Brexit strategy, warns Czech negotiator

Britain’s hope of leaving the EU but retaining access to the single market is “completely...

The Great Game: Is Britain playing both sides in China-Vietnam standoff?

Just a day after the UK pledged to bolster its support for Vietnam, the British...

Darwin Unhinged

This is atrociously long, criminally even, by internet standards but I post it anyway because I get occasional requests.  Few will read it, which...

Britain & Vietnam cozy up on defense amid deepening South China Sea dispute

Britain and Vietnam are building fresh ties after their respective defense ministers quietly met to...

British troop surge in South Sudan ahead of major peacekeeping conference

Britain has decided to send 100 more UK troops to South Sudan as part of...

Israeli minister says Brits will ‘pay the price’ for ‘anti-Semitic’ boycotts

Israel’s Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan is in London this week meeting British officials hoping to agree on a joint plan to tackle Boycott,...

NATO’s Expiration Date

(Photo: Drop of Light / Shutterstock.com) If the number of eager applicants on a waiting list determines the strength of a club, then the North...

The Bloody Evil of George Soros

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

Sex workers will suffer ‘disastrous’ outcome of health service cuts, medical experts warn

Sex workers face a greater risk of violence and poor health as a result of...

British military’s new £13mn Zephyr drone flies at 70,000ft for 45 days straight

Britain’s new £13 million Zephyr-S Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) can fly for 45 days at a height of 70,000ft, according to the Ministry of...

It’s Time To Pull the Plug on the UN

Every wonder what can possibly happen on a foreign aid humanitarian mission? Well, have a look. Now, I don’t want to make fun of this...

HuffPo Goes Haywire Against Russia, For Hillary

Eric Zuesse, commentary on ‘news’ reporting As part of their campaign for Hillary Clinton to become President, Huffington Post bannered their home-page on the night...

America’s Aristocracy Facing Resistance from American Public Regarding Russia

Eric Zuesse, updated from strategic-culture.org The subterranean reality of U.S. foreign policy is that it serves the U.S. aristocracy, the owners of controlling blocs of...

Rethinking the Cold War

The Cold War began during the Truman administration and lasted through the Eisenhower, Kennedy, Johnson, Nixon, Ford, and Carter administrations and was ended in...

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

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

Russia poses ‘existential threat’ to US national security, Air Force secretary says

The US Air Force views Russia as the greatest challenge to US national security, even when...

50 Old-Fashioned Put-Downs

As Lesley M. M. Blume observes in Let’s Bring Back: The Lost Language Edition, while clothing fashions have a way of cycling in and...

The Myth of Trump’s Alternative Worldview

Donald Trump may be a bigot and a bully, but it’s hard not to applaud when he pisses off the stuff shirts at the...

Pundits Lament Loss of a Reasonable, Competent GOP That Never Was

The New York Times (8/1/16) illustrating a story about how the Republican Party was formerly only pretending to be the “stupid party.” (image: Damon...

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,...

40,000 veterans homeless despite nearly 50% drop in 6 years

The Obama administration’s six-year effort to completely eradicate veteran homelessness has met half of its goal,...

A World War Has Begun

This is an edited version of an address by John Pilger at the University of Sydney, entitled A World War Has Begun. I have been...

No business as usual on immigration, Theresa May tells leading Eastern European politicians

Prime Minister Theresa May has told a group of senior Eastern European politicians that the UK’s post-Brexit deal with the EU must meet the...

Russia Hacks the World

 (Image: Donkey Hotey / Flickr Commons) The email trove that WikiLeaks released on the eve of the Democratic National Convention has all the hallmarks of...

Hate crimes rising in Britain, but police are doing less to stop them

The chances of police taking action against hate crime offenders have dropped over the past year, with victims now only having a one in...

£18mn investigation into historic child sex abuse case delayed again

A public inquest into the alleged child abuse crimes of the late Lord Janner has...

Nice attack copycats could target Britain’s rural towns, 7/7 detective warns

Terrorists could launch Nice-style attacks in smaller towns and cities across the UK to take...

EXCLUSIVE: Trident renewal ‘assures Scottish independence,’ says navy whistleblower William McNeilly

As Prime Minister Theresa May convenes Parliament on Monday to debate renewing Britain’s Trident nuclear...

How the Right Tears Down America

America surely has problems, but the Republican Right tends to ignore its role in causing them and now – under...

Ministry of Brexit: ‘Charming bastard’ appointed to lead EU negotiations

Prime Minister Theresa May has handed top cabinet posts to Brexiteers in a bid to...

Cameron: A political obituary… PM leaves a legacy of failure and claims of pig...

As David Cameron ties up the loose ends at 10 Downing Street before his long-serving...

School’s out! English teachers strike against Tory education cuts

Teachers in England are “solidly” on strike over the government’s cuts to funding, pay and...

Obituary: British Austerity (2010-2016)

1000 Words | Shutterstock.com UK Chancellor George Osborne announced last week that the Government is now forced to abandon its target to run a budget surplus by...

People smuggling prosecutions up 50% in one year, but only ‘tip of iceberg’

The number of prosecutions for smuggling illegal migrants into the UK has risen by more...

The US Needs a New Peace Movement — No Matter Who Wins in November

Activists protest in a demonstration against the war in Iraq in San Francisco, California, on March 20, 2003. (Photo: Rom) "He who laughsHas...

Breedlove’s war: Emails show ex-NATO general plotting US conflict with Russia

Hacked private emails of the US general formerly in charge of NATO reveal a campaign to...

Brexit: What’s Next?

Anti-austerity protest in Dublin in 2012 (William Murphy via Flickr) The recent UK referendum was a vote of no confidence to the entire system. The...

Report: Average Workplace Safety Fine Less Than Cost of Funeral for Dead Worker

(Photo: Hwanation) A report released on Thursday asserts that American workers face increased risks on the job because the federal government isn't cracking...

Old Men Start Wars, Young Men Die in Them

“Older men start wars, but younger men fight them.” ~ Albert Einstein “Older men declare war. But it is the youth that must fight and...

May launches Tory leadership challenge, as Gove & Leadsom make surprise bids

Theresa May, Michael Gove and Andrea Leadsom have announced plans to run for leadership of...

‘Brexit’ and the Democracy Myth

Exclusive: A referendum like Brexit can be a satisfying moment for an angry populace to vent its frustrations but “yes...

‘You’ve never done a proper job in your lives!’ Farage booed as he mocks...

UKIP leader Nigel Farage has mercilessly trolled the European Parliament before warning them the UK will not be the last country to leave the...

Brexit: Sterling hits new low & shares remain volatile, despite Osborne’s attempt to calm...

The pound has hit a new 31-year low and shares in housebuilders and banks have...

The Feel-Good but Misguided Brexit

The Brexit vote delivered a sharp rebuke to the cumbersome E.U. bureaucracy and the Establishment in general, but it won’t solve the problems...

Private Banks: Creating Money Out of Thin Air

In his book The Joy of Tax: How a Fair Tax System Can Create a Better Society, Richard Murphy, UK Tax Justice Network co-founder,...

Sack Paul Dacre! 50,000 call for Daily Mail editor’s head… Here are 5 of...

As more than 50,000 people sign a petition calling for the removal of longtime Daily Mail editor Paul Dacre, RT recalls some of the...

Donald Trump and the Rise of the Far Right on Both Sides of the...

Donald Trump speaks with supporters at a campaign rally at Fountain Park in Fountain Hills, Arizona, on March 16, 2016. (Photo: Gage...

British Airways scraps Sharm el-Sheikh flight route indefinitely over terror fears

British Airways has scrapped all future flights to Egypt’s Sharm el-Sheikh beach resort amid ongoing fears of a terror attack after a bomb brought...

America Trashes NATO Founding Act

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org The NATO Founding Act was agreed to between the U.S. and Russia in 1997 in order to provide to...

Vote Leave unveils post-Brexit ‘roadmap’ as Remain camp warns of ‘decades of uncertainty’

Pro-Brexit Vote Leave has unveiled a blueprint for the UK to “take back control” if...

Scaremonger Alert! Brexit would trigger tax hikes, spending cuts: Osborne

British Finance Minister George Osborne has warned that Brexit would trigger tax hikes and spending cuts across the UK. Osborne, who is campaigning for Britain...

British voters ‘ignorant’ about Brexit thanks to misinformation, new poll finds

The British public has misguided perceptions of the European Union including immigration, which in turn...

No Fanfare for the Common Man

We keep hearing all this crap coming out of the Democrats about helping the middle class, and small businesses. Ok, yeah, I get it....

Britain reviews aid to Palestine days after US pledges $40bn to Israel

Palestinian aid is under review by the British government after it was alleged some of...

Old Country Doctor Turned into Paper-pusher and Virtual MD

I can’t take a budget that eliminates marketing, outreach and in-person assistors seriously. — Teresa Mosqueda, member of the Washington State Health Benefit Exchange board. You can’t...

The New Arab Attack Piece against the Syria Solidarity Movement®

The short sentence in the illustration contains so many lies.  What then of the entire article, attacking the Syria Solidarity Movement® and its members?...

A Very Brazilian Coup

(Photo: PSB Nacional 40 / Flickr) On one level, the impeachment of Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff seems like vintage commedia dell’arte. For instance, the lower house...

11,700 slaves trapped in modern Britain’s ‘shadow economy’ – report

Slavery is rampant in modern Britain, with an estimated 11,700 people in enforced servitude, according to a new report. While The Global Slavery Index applauded...

Is Obama’s Entire Foreign Policy Going Down in Flames?

(To see that 3-minute video of the Syrian war, click here.) Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org LIBYA On May 19th, the Washington Post headlined "Agreement that could lead...

Nuclear America: RT special report on state of US nuclear facilities

Over the past 18 months, a number of nuclear facilities across the country have experienced problems....

Feel the Hate

a katz | Shutterstock.com   Many Bernie Sanders activists and supporters are understandably disgusted by the contemptuous mistreatment they and their candidate have received from the corporate-Clintonite Democratic...

Drones will render the oceans ‘transparent’ & Trident nuclear submarines useless – expert

Technological advances in maritime drones will make the ocean ‘transparent,’ meaning weapons such as Britain’s...

Corporate Chicanery

Recently, you said, “I will fight my heart out to stop Trump.” We know you have a big heart.   A very big heart.   Why else...

Our Poverty Myth

If you’re poor, many Americans think, it’s your own fault. It’s a sign of your own moral failing. I don’t personally believe that, but the...

China Closes the Innovation Gap

China is second only to the United States when it comes to science publications. Pictured: the Tianjin Economic-Technological Development Area. (Photo: Alex Needham /...

European Union: a House Divided

“Larger now than the Roman Empire of two thousand years ago, more opaque than the Byzantine, the European Union continues to baffle observers and...

As Brexit Approaches, Europe’s Left Is Divided — and for Good Reason

European Parliament (Photo: Wikipedia) The European Union is one of the premier trade organizations on the planet, with a collective GDP that surpasses the world’s...

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...

NHS managers are being forced to lie to the public

Carol Ackroyd Local managers are being forced to slash NHS budgets and replace existing hospital and community services with unproven ‘new models of care’ (inspired...

Trumped! Washington’s Fiscal Hypocrisy

You have to love it when one of Donald Trump’s wild pitches sends the beltway hypocrites into high dudgeon. But his rumination about negotiating...

Conservative coup? Cameron could face Tory revolt if Britain stays in EU

Tory MPs are considering a vote of no confidence in Prime Minister David Cameron if...

Gallup: Americans Want Socialized Healthcare

Eric Zuesse Most Americans want Obamacare to be replaced by what Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders proposes and what both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump oppose:...

The Civil War Inside the US Military

In early April, a battalion of senior military officials appeared before a Senate panel and testified that the US Army...

Cultural Marxism Might Be Funny

I learned of the Charlemagne prize when Pope Francis recently received this honor. Having recently commented on this occasion and the prize, I only offer...

Drug mule Melissa Reid set for release from Peru prison, but 100s of Europeans...

The plight of British drug mule Melissa Reid, set to be released from prison in...

Trident nuclear weapons replacement to cost £205bn, campaigners warn

Replacing Britain’s aging Trident nuclear deterrent will likely cost £205 billion (US$296 billion), more than...

ISIS-linked bomb suspect toured Britain, posed for photos outside potential targets

A suspected terrorist toured potential targets in Britain including Buckingham Palace and the Shard while...

Baghdad on military lockdown over fear of protests

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Bill Van Auken Security forces erected heavy concrete blast walls and strung...

Police probe into alleged Tory general election fraud launched

Allegations of electoral fraud committed by the Conservative Party ahead of the 2015 general election...

Sadiq Khan wins London election, becoming first Muslim mayor of major Western city –...

Labour politician Sadiq Khan is leading the London mayoral elections. If he wins, he will...

One Last Chance for Peace in Yemen

Sanaa, Yemen. 2005. (Photo: Charles Roffey / Flickr) Jakob Reimann On the night of January 5, a squadron of F-15 fighter jets from the Royal Saudi...

Many homeless in England have no right to real help from state – study

Many homeless people in England are not entitled to vital help under UK law even...

The Pentagon’s Twisted Potlatch

The world spent $1.7 trillion on weapons in 2015, with the U.S. leading the pack by a factor of 3. (Photo: U.S. Army /...

Journalism, Pro-GMO Triumphalism And Neoliberal Dogma In India

Swaminathan S Anklesaria Aiyar is a senior Indian journalist. He is also a Research Fellow at the Cato Institute in Washington. The Cato Institute has a...

Far from taxing Shell, Britain actually paid the oil giant £85mn

Britain was the only country in the world to give money to oil giant Shell...

The Steep Cost of Tax Dodging

Supports to a bridge crumble in Iowa City, Iowa, in a photo taken on September 15, 2014. The long-deteriorating infrastructure of the...

Secret NATO manual accidentally leaked to Scottish boat operators – report

A NATO manual marked “restricted” and full of codewords, ciphers, coordinates, and radio frequencies for...

Did George Osborne lie in saying he didn’t benefit from own tax cuts?

Chancellor George Osborne’s newly-released tax returns suggest he may have lied in 2012 when he...

‘Appalling’ welfare delays bring hunger & hardship for hundreds of thousands of Brits

Delays in processing benefit claims are causing severe hardship for hundreds of thousands of Britons,...

America Now Preparing for World War III

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org Because this article states so many things that might be likely to contradict what most people in Western countries...

A Short History of the Pentagon Wasting Your Money

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

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

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

Plutonium mess: SC wrangling with DOE over nuclear waste facility, Russia grows angry

Despite concessions from the Department of Energy, South Carolina has no intention of dropping its lawsuit...

Eritrean accuses easyJet of racial profiling after he is booted off plane

A man of Eritrean descent says he was a victim of “racial profiling” after being...

Putin intelligent strategist, Russia played constructive role in Syria, Iran – Kerry on Charlie...

Just as the Pentagon ranked Russia as its No.1 threat, Secretary of State John Kerry lauded...

‘Feminist zealots!’ Ex-colonel says British Army will pay ‘blood price’ for letting women fight

Letting women into combat roles is a “social engineering project” by “feminist zealots” who would...

Take from the poor, give to the rich: Tories slash benefits while tax breaks...

Welfare programs for the long-term unemployed in Britain will have funding slashed this Parliament, while...

12,000 English children hospitalized in suicide attempts, self-harm

More than 12,000 under-16s were admitted to hospitals in England for self-harming in 2014/15 – a 76 percent rise on 2009/10 figures. The disturbing figures...

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

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

Britain spends £40mn on cyber security center to protect military networks

More than £40 million will be spent on a new cyber security center designed to...

As Saudi and Allies Bombard Yemen US Clocks up $33 Billion Arms Sales in...

Sometimes even to the most towering cynic, American hypocrisy is more than breathtaking. As they lambast their latest “despot”, Syria’s President al-Assad — a man...

Military charity spent just 2% of its annual revenue on veteran grants

Our Local Heroes spent only 2 percent of its £500,000 budget in 2015 on grants...

Belgian Awful

The ISIS supporters who attacked Brussels killed more than 30 people and injured hundreds more. Bombings at the city’s airport and a subway station...

Rumbled? Tories ‘broke the law’ to win 2015 general election

Dozens of Conservative Party MPs broke the law during local campaigns to win seats in...

Donald Trump: Foreign Policy’s Useful Idiot?

Donald Trump may be a bigot and a bully, but it’s hard not to applaud when he pisses off the stuff shirts at the...

Nuclear hacks: Trident cyber-defenses to be revamped amid ISIS, rogue-state hacker threat

Cyber-defenses protecting Trident nuclear weapons are to be updated amid concerns military computers and networks may be vulnerable to North Korean and Islamic State...

Trump and Cruz Want to Deport 11 Million Immigrants. That’s Literally Impossible.

(Photo: Bread for the World / Flickr) In 2006, when I first began researching deportations, George W. Bush was president and quietly building a deportation...

Canadian Liberal government to implement military spending hikes

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Roger Jordan In presenting its first budget last week, Canada’s Liberal government...

Scottish deficit deepens as SNP preps for second independence drive

Scotland’s deficit has deepened and now stands at more than three times the rest of...

Corbyn’s first six months as genuine opposition to warmongers

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. After half a year in office, nothing remains of the platform...

Trident won’t become obsolete, but we can’t tell you why – Defense Sec

Britain’s ageing fleet of Trident nuclear submarines will definitely not become obsolete, according to Defense...

‘Weasel words’: Osborne admits disability cuts blunder but defends austerity

Chancellor George Osborne has admitted that attempting to further slash disability benefits was a mistake,...

Understanding Obama’s Foreign Policy

Eric Zuesse On 28 May 2014, U.S. President Barack Obama addressed the West Point Military Academy class of graduating cadets, future leaders of America’s armed...

Blame game? Tory civil war deepens over disability cuts, Brexit split

Prime Minister David Cameron has been forced to defend his status as a “compassionate Conservative”...

This is the simple mathematical reason why Osborne’s strategy will lead to financial ruin

The reason why Osborne’s plans were always going to come unstuck is a function of simple arithmetic. Assume my spending remains constant at 100. To...

Impeachment drive accelerates amid expanding political crisis in Brazil

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Bill Van Auken The leadership of the lower house of the Brazilian...

‘Spiraling’ NHS debts leave £22bn ‘black hole,’ no solution in sight – MPs

National Health Service (NHS) budgets in England face a £22 billion (US$31.1 billion) “black hole”...

Tory cuts may be killing pensioners, Oxford study suggests

Conservative government cuts are killing vulnerable and poor elderly people, a new study has found,...

‘Does Osborne know he’s destroying lives?’ Disgruntled disabled Tory sabotages website

A life-long Conservative and disability campaigner has quit the Tory party in dramatic fashion by...

‘Why I quit the Tories… & took down their website!’ Disability activist speaks to...

Life-long Tory voter Graeme Ellis, who quit the Conservative Party this week by sabotaging the...

Fat segregation? Obese children should take separate gym classes, health expert says

Overweight kids too embarrassed to exercise should be given separate gym classes, a health expert...

North Sea Oil forecast to lose £1bn each year – report

The North Sea Oil industry is losing so much money, that within five years it...

‘Begging for a tampon’: Tory tax forces women to use newspapers & socks, claims...

A food bank minister has called on Parliament to scrap value added tax (VAT) on...

‘Women are dying’: Sisters Uncut blockades Treasury to protest domestic abuse service cuts

Feminist campaigners blockaded the entrance to Britain's Treasury on Monday over what they described as...

Money, missiles & Guantanamo: Senate hears from US admirals

Commanders of US forces in the Americas told the Senate they needed more funding to counter...

More proof that George Osborne is a heartless bastard

George Osborne is reportedly poised to use a reduction of £150 a week in benefit payments to disabled people in order to fund a...

Poor mental health care in England is “ruining lives,” report finds

Via WSWS. This piece was reprinted by RINF Alternative News with permission or license. Dennis Moore Mental health care in England is now so poor and...

Women in combat: Dangerous experiment or gender equality in action?

(RT) - Even as the world marks International Women’s Day, the role of women in certain workplaces still remains a hot topic, nowhere more starkly...

A Bad Day for Monsanto and a Good Day for Public Health in Europe

Monsanto needs to be stopped, the health of the world literally depends on it. Aisha Dodwell A battle of corporate profit vs people’s needs has been...

Osborne drops pensions reform

British finance minister has decided to drop plans for a pensions overhaul which had run into opposition by his own Conservative Party members who are...

Donald Trump Is Right – Here Are 100 Reasons Why We Need To Audit...

Michael Snyder (RINF) - When one of our major politicians gets something exactly right, we should applaud them for it.  In this case, Donald Trump’s...

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...
Shameless propaganda by the BBC

‘US tied to global security role’ – shameless and blatant BBC propaganda

Mark Urban is the diplomatic and defence editor of BBC’s Newsnight that goes by the strap-line “This is where the global struggle for peace...

NYT Rounds Up ‘Left-Leaning Economists’ for a Unicorn Hunt

To be fair, as a New York Times reporter, Jackie Calmes probably doesn’t meet many left-leaning economists, so she may not be sure what...

The ‘Downton Abbey’ Generals

As Official Washington lusts for a new Cold War – all the better to fleece the taxpayers on behalf of the Military-Industrial Complex –...

How a Candidate’s Mega-Donors Get Served After the Election

Eric Zuesse, updated from strategic-culture.org An example will be described here of a way in which corrupt Presidential candidates load up their campaigns’ advertising budgets...

Missing the Days When Candidates Pretended We Had No Big Problems

A big thing David Brooks will miss about Barack Obama will be his not being Bernie Sanders. (photo: Doug Mills/NYT) “I miss Barack Obama,” writes...

Sorry, but the Super Bowl Promotes War

David Swanson Super Bowl 50 was the first National Football League championship to happen since it was reported that much of the pro-military hoopla at football games — the...

U.S. Needs to Think Twice Before Reprising the Cold War

Spurred by tensions over Ukraine, President Obama announced plans to add $3.4 billion to this year’s military budget request for Europe. (Photo: Public domain) Not...

New York Times vents recriminations over Syria debacle

Bill Van Auken The offensive of Syrian government forces, backed by Russian air strikes, has cut off the main supply route for Western-backed “rebels” and...

U.S. Now Overtly at War Against Russia

Eric Zuesse, originally posted at strategic-culture.org NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg announced on February 2nd that he approves of U.S. ‘Defense’ Secretary Ash Carter’s proposal to quadruple...

The Establishment’s Last Stand

The good news for anti-interventionists out of Iowa is that Bernie Sanders has defied the conventional wisdom and effectively delayed the coronation of Hillary Rodham Clinton. In...

The Candidate Our Foreign Policy Deserves

(Image: AK Rockefeller / Flickr) It’s often said that, in democracies, we get the leaders that we deserve. In the current slugfest masquerading as a...

Britain top dog in unregulated shadow world of mercenaries – report

Britain has become the world’s post-9/11 “mercenary kingpin” with hundreds of firms employing thousands of ex-military freebooters in a shadowy industry worth billions, a...

How Corruption Cripples America’s Military

Eric Zuesse America’s military budget is roughly 7.2 times that of Russia ($610 billion compared to $84.5 billion), but even Western news-accounts are saying that...
Hidden corruption in Britain is an international scandal

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by Stephen Lendman

The whole world knows China threatens no other nation. Its foreign policy is polar opposite America's.

Like Russia, it deplores war. It promotes peace, stability and mutual cooperation among all nations. 

It prioritizes economic growth and development. Its accomplishments over the past three and a half decades reflect one of the great success stories in modern times - enough to roil officials in Washington.

It's becoming the world's preeminent economic power by any measure. It's a powerhouse independent nation. Allied with Russia, it's a major deterrent to US global hegemony.

A new Defense Department report is titled "Military and Security Developments Involving the People's Republic of China 2015."

It makes outlandish claims saying:

"The People’s Republic of China (PRC) continues to pursue a long-term, comprehensive military modernization program designed to improve its armed forces’ capacity to fight short-duration, high-intensity regional conflicts."

"Preparing for potential conflict in the Taiwan Strait remains the focus and primary driver of China’s military investment."

"China views modernization of the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) as essential to achieving great power status. (It stokes) regional tension…to advance its interests."

"(T)he United States will continue adapting its forces, posture, and operational concepts to maintain a stable and secure Asia-Pacific security environment."

Washington's so-called Asia pivot constitutes the most significant threat to regional peace and stability - especially allied with Japan's increasing militarism.

It reflects America's aim for dominance in a part of the world not its own. Containing, isolating and weakening China is official US policy by whatever options work best.

The DOD report criticized Beijing's South China Sea  activities. It took issue with its right to construct artificial islands comprised of 2,000 acres in its own waters, among other issues raised.

On May 10, China's Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying responded to Pentagon claims saying:

"The US report makes willful speculations and comments on China's military growth in defiance of the facts." 

"By hyping up 'China's military threat and the lack of transparency in military strength," the report questions China's normal defense building and strategic intention,and makes inappropriate remarks on China's justified actions of safeguarding territorial sovereignty and security interests in the South China Sea." 

"The Chinese side hereby voices strong opposition to this.
China unswervingly follows the path of peaceful development and a national defense policy that is defensive in nature, and remains a staunch force in maintaining peace and stability of the Asia-Pacific and the world." 

"China's national defense building, a right China is entitled to as a sovereign state, is for the sole purpose of safeguarding national independence, sovereignty and territorial integrity." 

"It is hoped that the American side would abandon the cold-war mentality, view China's military development with objectiveness and reason instead of prejudices, stop issuing such kind of report or doing and saying anything that jeopardizes bilateral relations and military-to-military mutual trust, and make tangible moves to ensure the sound and steady development of state-to-state and military-to-military relations between China and the US."

The Pentagon report ignores America's global empire of bases in around 150 countries - with nuclear weapons targeting China, Russia, Iran and other nations menacingly.

It said nothing about multiple raging US direct and proxy wars - endless ones against invented enemies threatening no one.

It bears repeating. China prioritizes peace, stability, economic growth and development. It targets no other nation militarily. 

Its defense budget is a small fraction of America's outsized one - much of it directed for war-making.

China remains at peace with all its neighbors. America is a global belligerent - waging endless wars of aggression for unchallenged dominion over planet earth and space.

It's heading for direct confrontation with Russia and China. It wants its major geopolitical rivals eliminated. It's risking potential nuclear war madness.

It's drawn Moscow and Beijing more strategically, economically, politically and militarily closer together.

Their deepening alliance is humanity's best defense against reckless US imperial adventurism - a monster threatening everyone.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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


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

1,335 Americans give up passports in first quarter of 2015

The US Internal Revenue Service has announced an increase over the number of Americans living abroad who decided to renounce their citizenship.

A total of 1,335 Americans renounced their citizenship in the first quarter of 2015, which is 18 percent higher than the previous record, Bloomberg reported on Thursday.

The figure comes after 3,415 Americans gave up their passports in 2014.

Americans living outside the US renounce their citizenship due to the country’s tax laws.

The US is the only country within the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development that taxes citizens wherever they reside.

About six million American citizens are living abroad.

The surge is tied to a 2010 law that gives the Internal Revenue Service access to US citizens’ foreign bank accounts.

Tax laws were rarely enforced for decades, but scrutiny of Americans abroad is intensifying because of the country’s budget deficit that spiked after the Great Recession.

The campaign was intended to target American taxpayers who hide assets in secret foreign accounts in order to pay less taxes, but it also complicated the financial lives of the US citizens living abroad.

Earlier this year, the mayor of London, who holds dual US-British nationality, decided to renounce his American citizenship, citing his bid to run for the UK’s premiership.

“The reason I’m thinking I probably will want to make a change is that my commitment is, and always has been, to Britain,” Boris Johnson said.

However, Johnson’s aides were cited in local media reports as saying that the mayor’s top priority in abandoning his American citizenship was a bid to avoid paying more taxes to US authorities after had recently been forced to settle a large capital gains tax payment statement.

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Globalization: Global Agribusiness Hammering Away At The Foundations Of Indian Society


RINF, Countercurrents, Global Research

https://twitter.com/colin_todhunter

According to the World Bank in the nineties, it was expected (and hoped) that some 400 million people in Indian agriculture would be moving out of the sector by 2015. To help them on their way, farming had to be made financially non-viable and policies formulated to facilitate the process.

Food and trade policy analyst Devinder Sharma describes the situation: 

“India is on fast track to bring agriculture under corporate control... Amending the existing laws on land acquisition, water resources, seed, fertilizer, pesticides and food processing, the government is in overdrive to usher in contract farming and encourage organized retail. This is exactly as per the advice of the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund as well as the international financial institutes.” 

He notes that in its 2008 World Development Report, the World Bank wanted India to hasten the process by accelerating land acquisitions and launching a network of training institutes to train younger people in rural areas so as to make them eligible for industrial work. This is now happening, especially the highly contentious push to facilitate private corporations' access to land, which has been sparking mass protests across the country. 

Sharma describes how US subsidies and global trade policies work to benefit hugely wealthy agribusiness corporations, while serving to cripple the agricultural sectors of poorer countries. The massive subsidies doled out by the US to its giant agribusiness companies lower global produce prices and buck markets in favour of Washington. The US has also included non-trade barriers (such as various health standards and regulations) to keep agricultural imports out. At the same time, India has opened its markets and support for its own farmers is being cut. Farmers are thus being left to the vagaries of a global market slanted in favour of US interests.

As India's farmers face increasing financial distress and foreign private players try to move in to secure land and the seed, food processing and food retail sectors, what is happening courtesy of compliant politicians is tantamount to cannibalizing the country at the behest of foreign interests. 

Western agribusiness has already gained an influential foothold in India and many of the country’s national public bodies. Along with US food processing giants Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland, agribusiness aims to recast the rural economy (and thus Indian society, given that hundreds of millions depend on it for a living) according to its own needs. This would mean eventually moving over 600 million (never mind the previously mentioned figure of 400 million) who depend on agriculture and local food processing activities into urban areas.

Monsanto already dominates the cotton industry in the country and is increasingly shaping agri-policy and the knowledge paradigm by funding agricultural research in public universities and institutes (see here). Moreover, public regulatory bodies are now severely compromised and riddled with conflicts ofinterest where decision-making over GMOs are concerned. 

But this is the nature of the 'globalization' agenda: the goal is to ‘capture’ and ‘exploit’ foreign markets and their policy/regulatory bodies. The culture of neoliberalism is exemplified by APCO Worldwide, a major ‘global communications, stakeholder engagement and business strategy’ company that Narendra Modi has been associated with in the past. In APCO’s India Brochure, there is the claim that India’s resilience in weathering the global downturn and financial crisis has made governments, policy-makers, economists, corporate houses and fund managers believe that India can play a significant role in the recovery of the global economy in the months and years ahead. APCO describes India as a trillion dollar market.

No mention of ordinary people or poor farmers. The focus is on profit, funds and money because for the readers of such documents all of this constitutes ‘growth’ – a positive sounding notion sold to the masses that in reality means corporate profit. It forms part of an ideology that attempts to disguise the nature of a system that has produced austerity, disempowerment and increasing hardship for the bulk of the population and the concentration of ever more wealth and power in the hands of the few who now dictate policies to nation states.

Take a brief look at what happened in Britain when the neoliberal globalization strategy took hold there. As with Modi, Margaret Thatcher was a handmaiden to rich interests.

During the eighties, the Thatcher government set the wheels in motion to shut down the coal mining industry. The outcome destroyed communities across the country, and they have never recovered. Crime-ridden, drug-ridden and shells of their former selves, these towns and villages and the people in them were thrown onto the scrapheap. The industry was killed because it was deemed ‘uneconomical'. And yet it now costs more to keep a person on the dole than it would to employ them at the minimum wage, the country imports coal at a higher cost than it would to have kept the pits open and Britain has to engage in costly illegal wars to secure its oil and gas energy needs, which coal could largely provide (Britain has over 1,000 years of coal supply in the ground). In fact, before 1970, Britain got all its gas from its own coal.

The economics just do not add up. Former miners’ leader Arthur Scargill fought to save the mining industry and now asks where is the sense in all of this (see thisthis and this).   

The same happened across the manufacturing sector, from steel to engineering to shipbuilding. And a similar process occurred in the fishery and agriculture sectors. In 2010, there were over eight million unemployed (over 21 percent of the workforce), despite what the official figures said.

Britain decided to financialize its economy and move people out of manufacturing to integrate with a neoliberal globalized world order. Ordinary people’s livelihoods were sacrificed and sold to the lowest bidder abroad and the real economy was hollowed out for the benefit of giant corporations who now have near-monopolies in their respective sectors and record massive profits. People were promised a new service-based economy. Not enough jobs materialized or when they did many soon moved to cheap labour economies or they were automated. 

Although it’s a vastly different country, if we look at agriculture in India, a similar trend is seen. Almost 300,000 farmers have taken their lives in India since 1997 and many more are experiencing economic distress or have left farming as a result of debt, a shift to cash crops and economic ‘liberalization’.

In a recent TV interview, Devinder Sharma highlighted the plight of agriculture:

“Agriculture has been systematically killed over the last few decades… 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... not performing. You are not wanting it to perform... Leave it to the vagaries or the tyranny of the markets… agriculture has disappeared from the economic radar screen of the country… 70 percent of the population is being completely ignored…”

As policy makers glorify ‘business entrepreneurship’ and ‘wealth creation’ and acquiesce to hugely wealthy individuals and their corporations, it largely goes unrecognized that farmers have always been imbued with the spirit of entrepreneurship and have been creating food wealth for centuries. They have been innovators, natural resource stewards, seed savers and hybridization experts. But they are now fodder to be sacrificed on the altar of US petro-chemical agribusiness interests.

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; but despite the gross under-investment in agriculture, it still manages to deliver bumper harvests year after year:

“In the last 10 years, we had 36 lakh crore going to the corporates by way of tax exemptions... 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... Why do you want to move the population... Why can’t India have its own thinking? Why do we have to go with Harvard or Oxford economists who tell us this?” (36 lakh crore is 36 trillion; 1.5 crore is 15 million)

It all begs the question: 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 capitalize industries that currently employ tens of millions (if not hundreds of millions)?

The genuine wealth creators, the farmers, 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’. And those who protest are attacked and marginalised. In Britain during the eighties, it was a similar situation. Workers' representatives portrayed as the 'enemy within'. 

Through various policies, underinvestment and general neglect, farmers are being set up to financially fail. However, it is corporate-industrial India 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). The number of jobs created in India between 2005 and 2010 was 2.7 million (the years of high GDP growth). According to International Business Times, 15 million enter the workforce every year (see here).

Again, this too is a global phenomenon.

Corporate-industrial India is the beneficiary of a huge global con-trick: 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 and tax avoidance/evasion are afforded scant attention. Through slick doublespeak, all of this becomes redefined necessary for creating jobs or fueling ‘growth’. The only growth is in massive profits and inequalities, coupled with unemployment, low pay, the erosion of welfare and a further race to the bottom as a result of secretive trade agreements like the TTIP.

India is still a nation of farmers. Around two thirds of the population in some way rely on agriculture for a living. Despite the sector’s woeful neglect in favour of a heavily subsidized and government-supported but poorly performing industrial sector, agriculture remains the backbone of Indian society.

Notwithstanding the threat to food security, livelihoods and well-being, the type of unsustainable corporate-controlled globalized industrial agriculture being pushed through in India leads to bad food, bad soil, bad or no waterbad health, stagnant or falling yields and ultimately an agrarian crisis. It involves the liberal use of cancer-causing pesticides and the possible introduction of health-damaging but highly profitable GMOs.

There was a famous phrase used in the eighties in Britain by the former Prime Minister Harold McMillan. He accused the Thatcher administration of 'selling the family silver' with its privatization policies and the auction of public assets that ordinary people had strived to build over many decades of dedicated labour. 

As Modi presses through with his strident neoliberal agenda and seeks to further privatize India's agricultural heritage, it begs the question: is it not tantamount to turning in on yourself and destroying the home in which you live? 

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

RINF, Global Research, Countercurrents, Counterpunch

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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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'.

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As Malaysia Airlines bleeds out, twin tragedies are still a question mark

Malaysia Airlines has had a profoundly difficult year. Between two harrowing air disasters and the company’s precarious financial woes, the national carrier faces daunting challenges as it attempts to restructure and recover its reputation as a leading regional airline. Despite poor commercial performance in recent years, it maintained a stellar record for decades as one of the Asia-Pacific's safest and most reliable airlines.


Malaysia Airlines has suffered the two worst disasters in modern aviation less than five months apart. Both incidents involved Boeing 777-200ERs, widely considered being one of the safest aircrafts. Over six months have past since flight MH370 disappeared on route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing. A multinational search team has scoured remote southern stretches of the Indian Ocean, unable to find even a trace of debris from the aircraft.


A preliminary report on the demise of flight MH17 released by Dutch investigators has failed to provide a wider understanding of the incident, leaving critical questions of culpability unanswered. The crippling impact of the two air disasters has forced Malaysia Airlines into accelerating a major restructuring effort to rescue the brand and return it to profitably by 2017, with plans to relist the company by 2019.


Nationalize or privatize?


As the flagship carrier, Malaysia Airlines is viewed as a symbol of national prestige and development. The state has played a vital role in using public funds to restructure the airline over the years. The key challenges confronting the carrier are competition from low-cost national and regional rivals, high operating costs, unprofitable long haul routes, and a bloated payroll.


The main question going forward is whether further nationalization or drastic privatization will more effectively resuscitate the airline. Khazanah Nasional, a state investment fund that owns about 70% of Malaysia Airlines, proposed a strategy to recover the national carrier, involving plans to take full ownership of the airline and the most stringent job cuts in the company's history.


Unlike the four previous attempts to restructure the airline, which reneged on plans to scale back the workforce under pressure from politically influential airline unions, the company intends to cut staffing by 6,000 jobs or 30% of the carrier's 20,000 employees. Malaysia Airlines has about 30 percent more staff than comparable airlines, and while the cuts will be painful, the status quo can clearly not be maintained under the prevailing circumstances.


Khazanah Nasional will channel around RM6bn ($2 billion) into reviving the carrier, buying out remaining stock from shareholders, layoffs and other restructuring costs, debt settlement and capital injections. Putrajaya claims these funds are an investment, rather than a bailout, expressing its intention to regain the funds when the airline returns to profitability. One can be forgiven for being skeptical of the carrier’s strategy, taking into account the shortcomings of previous restructuring attempts.


An accumulative sum of RM17.4bn ($5.3 billion) was injected into the airline between 2001 and 2014, and losses of RM8.4bn ($2.6 billion) were incurred nonetheless during that period. Malaysia Airlines reported a net loss of RM443mn ($140.8 million) for the first quarter of 2014. Second-quarter earnings following the unexplained disappearance of MH370 in March saw losses of RM307mn ($97.6 million). The second-half earnings are expected to be even grimmer in the wake of MH17, following reports from the airline that average weekly bookings had declined by 33 percent. The company has lost more than 40 percent of its market value this year and has not made an annual profit since 2010.


Shareholders will be meeting in early November to consider Khazanah’s selective capital reduction proposal plan before the recovery plan can go into effect. Although shareholders will be losing money by selling off their assets for lower prices than they purchased them for, the independent adviser AmInvestment Bank advised that they accept the offer, because without the proposed capital injection from Khazanah, the airline will go under and the share price will collapse. It’s better to lose a finger than to lose an arm.


As budget carriers like AirAsia, which was formally state-owned before being taken private, lead the Southeast Asian market, there are those who will view any further capital injection into Malaysia Airlines as an imprudent use of public funds. Khazanah itself has noted that the RM17.4bn used to restructure the national carrier could have helped improve education or provide water and power to remote villages. It also doesn’t make sense to refer to Khazanah’s move to take full ownership of the airline as a privatization since it is a government investment fund; it’s more like a de-facto nationalization.


At this stage, whether Malaysia Airlines is nationalized or privatized is a periphery concern: the real question is how can it be restructured to viably compete with discount airlines that make up some 58 percent of the air traffic in Southeast Asia? There are concerns going forward that Khazanah lacks the expertise needed to micromanage the airline and implement the kind of solutions needed to shift the balance back toward profitability. Additionally, there will be no minority shareholders to scrutinize the management and provide helpful input under Khazanah’s full ownership of the carrier.


Structural adjustments are needed to make the airline leaner and more efficient if it has any chance of surviving. Long unprofitable routes that require heavy subsidies should be cut with renewed focus on competitively priced medium-haul services within Asia. The fleet of Boeing 777s and Airbus A380s can be sold off and replaced with more fuel-efficient A330s and the A350s designed for shorter distances.


If employees and unions were better informed about the dire ill health of the airline, perhaps they would agree to voluntary pay cuts for a limited period if it meant retaining job security. Under the current circumstances, bonuses should be suspended and the balance sheet should be carefully scrutinized. In addition to rolling out a public relations blitz to repair the image of the company, Malaysia Airlines should emulate some qualities of their rivals’ business models, but differentiate themselves by offering greater value for money to the extent that a full-service airline can provide.


No answers, no closure


As the enquiry continues into the demise of Malaysia Airlines flight MH17 over the skies of eastern Ukraine in July, the preliminary findings of the international investigation have done little to develop a clearer understanding of the incident. The parties responsible for bringing down the aircraft, and exactly what means were utilized to do so, have yet to be firmly established.


The Dutch Safety Board (DSB), which is leading the investigation into the MH17 crash, released a preliminary report in September, which sought to analyze air traffic control and radio communication data, assess the inflight break-up sequences, and conduct a forensic examination of the wreckage. Assigning culpability to any party was not in the report’s mandate; the authors of the text use highly guarded and ambiguous language to explain their findings.


Due to the continued obstruction and contamination of the crash site as a result of military hostilities, it is highly questionable whether further forensic examinations can be carried out under such protracted circumstances. Another barrier is a lack of political will to consider certain findings, due to the politically charged nature of the Ukrainian conflict, which has resuscitated Cold War-era hostilities, bringing US-Russia relations to new lows.


Though Ukraine, the United States, and other countries have accused Russia of supplying the rebels with surface-to-air missiles and orchestrating the shoot-down of MH17, those governments have yet to declassify their intelligence on MH17, refusing even to discuss the sources and methodology behind their findings. Comments by Russian officials at the UN and elsewhere indicate that Moscow feels its side of the story has been neglected and overlooked.


The satellite images and military data made public by Moscow, which suggest a completely different series of events, have been entirely absent from the media’s narrative. The Dutch findings conclude that the aircraft abruptly ended its flight after a large number of “high energy objects”penetrated the aircraft from the outside, but does not identify the nature of those objects.


Dutch investigators have wholly omitted findings from radar data submitted by Moscow that purportedly showed a Ukrainian Su-25 fighter jet flying in close proximity to MH17 prior to it disappearing from radar.  BBC’s Russian language service broadcasted a report shortly after the disaster where several local eyewitnesses claimed to see a military aircraft in the sky flying in the vicinity of MH17 as it exploded and broke apart. The investigation has a responsibility to address the question of the Ukrainian fighter jet and its possible role in the incident.


The case of MH370 has proven to be the most baffling incident in commercial aviation history and one of the world's greatest aviation mysteries. Despite the largest multinational search and rescue effort ever conducted, not a trace of debris from the aircraft has been found, nor has the cause of the aircraft’s erratic change of trajectory and disappearance been established.


After a fruitless search in the southern Indian Ocean where the plane is believed to have crashed after running out of fuel, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau leading the investigation has admitted that investigators are not entirely sure if the current underwater search is being conducted in the right spot, although Malaysian officials have been more optimistic.


Tim Clark, the CEO and president of Emirates, questioned the methodology used by investigation team to pinpoint the crash site, claiming it was downright “suspicious” that a Boeing 777 could disappear without a trace with its communications being disabled. Clark also raised concerns that the public was not being told the whole truth about the cargo manifest.


The families of the passengers and crewmembers onboard the missing aircraft recently renewed calls for Putrajaya to release the full cargo manifest, which they say was only partially released some two months after the incident, claiming that there were missing gaps in the document. The manifesto claimed that the cargo contained 2.4 tons of lithium ion batteries and radio accessories and chargers consigned for Motorola, and 4.5 tons of mangosteen.


IGP Tan Sri Khalid Abu Bakar promised the media that authorities would investigate the mangosteen supplier after the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority claimed that the fruit was not in season, nor were there any orchards in Johor where the mangosteen supplier, Poh Seng Kian, is based. The way in which certain information has allegedly been withheld from the public domain has worked to stoke skepticism that investigators must address. 


Inmarsat, the British satellite telecommunications company responsible for analyzing MH370 satellite data, has also come under scrutiny from independent satellite experts and engineers that found glaring inconsistencies in their analysis. The Atlantic magazine published a report in May based on the analysis of Michael Exner, founder of the American Mobile Satellite Corporation, Duncan Steel, a physicist and visiting scientist at NASA’s Ames Research Center, and satellite technology consultant Tim Farrar.


The team of analysts used flight and navigation software to deconstruct Inmarsat’s analysis, and determined that Inmarsat’s data contained irregular frequency shifts, and even when the values were corrected, Inmarsat’s example flight paths failed to match and proved to be erroneous. In other words, these analysts believe there may be grounds to believe that the search is being conducted on the basis of a false mathematical conclusion.


The authors of the report attempted to reach Inmarsat and other relevant bodies, but they claim that the company did not reply to requests for comments on basic technical questions about their analysis, leading them to determine that “Inmarsat officials and search authorities seem to want it both ways: They release charts, graphics, and statements that give the appearance of being backed by math and science, while refusing to fully explain their methodologies.”


While the investigation teams are doing their level best to establish accounts of the two Malaysia Airlines disasters, there is undoubtedly a dimension of political pressure involved that can create various barriers to understanding. The astonishing nature of these two incidents demand that uncomfortable scenarios and questions be addressed and examined. The media still has an important role to play.

This article was appeared in the October 28 and 29, 2014 print edition of The Malaysian Reserve newspaper.

Nile Bowie is an independent journalist and political analyst based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. His articles have appeared in numerous international publications, including regular columns with Russia Today (RT) and newspapers such as the Global Times, the Malaysian Reserve and the New Straits Times. He is a research assistant with the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), a Malaysian NGO promoting social justice and anti-hegemony politics. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.


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After eight months of protracted quarrelling that widened political divisions between the component parties of the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition, the appointment of PKR deputy president Mohamed Azmin Ali to the helm of the country’s richest state has now drawn the Selangor menteri besar crisis to a close.

PKR has maintained over the past several weeks that it would only endorse its president, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah, for the MB post. Though the DAP supported Wan Azizah’s nomination, the party also expressed openness to the idea of Azmin replacing embattled MB Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim. Wan Azizah withdrew her candidacy for the position shortly after the Sultan of Selangor announced his decision to choose Azmin for the post.

PKR’s leadership has understood that antagonizing the palace will not serve to further its interests in retaining the state. In the midst of drawn-out political turbulence, the party ultimately consented to Azmin taking control of Selangor to avoid the possibility being punished by a fatigued electorate if snap polls were held, which could result in the loss of seats for the party.

The menteri besar crisis, triggered by the ill-fated Kajang move, has widened the spilt between PAS and its partners in the opposition coalition. Internal discord within the Islamist party has strained cooperation between the conservative ulama and moderate figures regarding differences over the menteri besar candidacy.

PAS President Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang has been criticized by figures within and outside the party for his reluctance to support the stance of PKR and DAP, who backed Wan Azizah’s nomination for MB. At the recent PAS annual assembly, Hadi insisted that PAS would stick to its own principles rather than unquestioningly toeing the line of its coalition partners.

Speculation has been rife that the Islamist party would mull exiting from the opposition coalition during its assembly, as proposed by influential clerics in the party who feel that PAS’s alliance with opposition partners could potentially undermine the party’s philosophical underpinnings. Hadi dismissed that the Islamist party would break its partnership with Pakatan Rakyat. Far from being conciliatory, Hadi’s maneuvering is based on realpolitik.

It is widely accepted that PAS would be relegated to the political fringes if it abandoned its coalition partnership with PKR and DAP. Hadi has acknowledged that the party could never survive on its own in Malaysia’s multi-ethnic and multi-religious political landscape.

The Islamist party was the worst performing component party of the opposition coalition during last year’s general elections and it has failed to obtain a state or federal seat in Sabah or Sarawak throughout its entire history. PAS’ fumbles in Terengganu and Kedah have only compounded the party’s lukewarm reception at the polls.

During the assembly, Hadi went on chastise his coalition partners, who he described as being 'intoxicated with power.' Reports also indicate that top DAP and PKR leaders snubbed PAS by failing to attend this year’s assembly, demonstrating the coalition’s fraying unity, though the PAS leadership brushed off their absence and downplayed the evident friction within the opposition coalition.

As a new menteri besar takes control, the attempted Kajang move, engineered by PKR to bring its president to power in the country’s most strategic state, has proven to be an ill-conceived gamble that has gone awry in nearly ever aspect. It has undermined the opposition coalition by widening the discord within Pakatan Rakyat while spurring on budding factionalism within PAS as an unintended consequence.

After failing to grasp Putrajaya during the last elections, PKR became intent on using Selangor to showcase its brand of governance. Residents in the state have been relatively satisfied with Abdul Khalid, who served as menteri besar since 2008. There have been no broad grassroots protest movements demanding his resignation during his tenure.

PKR expressed their disapproval with Abdul Khalid earlier this year, over his lax handling of the bible seizure issue, blunders and delays related to the state’s water shortages, and other issues that were used by the party to dent his image. It should be noted though that under his leadership, the state’s financial reserves have been the highest ever achieved in the history of Selangor, with a significant portion of annual budgets being channeled into developmental expenditure.

PKR should have addressed the perceived shortcomings of Abdul Khalid’s leadership with a program of coherent political solutions; it could have certainly concentrated on solving these issues in a practical way. Instead, the PKR leadership opted for an underhanded move to topple its own state government, inciting a political crisis to the detriment of the opposition coalition.

The failed Kajang move has undermined public trust and widened perceptions among the coalition’s support base that the opposition is just as capable of executing crude political maneuvers that smack of ‘old politics.’ These developments have sparked unhelpful hostility between Pakatan Rakyat and the Sultan of Selangor, exposing the poor internal communication and coordination infrastructure within the opposition coalition.

Chinese support for PAS and Malay perceptions toward the DAP are likely to be bruised by this incident, which has also worked against Wan Azizah, furthering impressions of her being a placeholder for the opposition leader as members of the coalition openly questioned her leadership capability.

PKR’s leadership is now the awkward position of having to settle for a menteri besar candidate that they did not choose, someone who may be more defiant than his predecessor on certain issues. Azmin is known for breaking with the party line to speak his mind, especially in cases where he has been put off by the theatrics of the opposition leader.

Azmin notably snubbed Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim over his botched mass protest campaign following last year’s defeat at the polls by failing to attend rallies; he raised eyebrows when tweeting about his disapproval with ‘politics that are over the top’ and urged his party to accept the election results and ‘focus on the rakyat, not yourselves.’

While a new meneri besar has been sworn in, it does not mean that the spectacle of vitriolic infighting within the opposition coalition will subside. This period of prolonged political crisis and failed Kajang move that gave rise to it has fueled perceptions that the coalition is in fact a tattered marriage of opportunism rather than a dependable partnership. The damage is already done.

Nile Bowie is a columnist with Russia Today, and a research affiliate with the International Movement for a Just World (JUST), an NGO based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. He can be reached at nilebowie@gmail.com.

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Funding infrastructure through bonds doubles the price or worse. Costs can be cut in half by funding through the state’s own bank.

“The numbers are big. There is sticker shock,” said Jason Peltier, deputy manager of the Westlands Water District, describing Governor Jerry Brown’s plan to build two massive water tunnels through the California Delta. “But consider your other scenarios. How much more groundwater can we pump?”

Whether the tunnels are the best way to get water to the Delta is controversial, but the issue here is the cost. The tunnels were billed to voters as a $25 billion project. That estimate, however, omitted interest and fees. Construction itself is estimated at a relatively modest $18 billion. But financing through bonds issued at 5% for 30 years adds $24-40 billion to the tab. Another $9 billion will go to wetlands restoration, monitoring and other costs, bringing the grand total to $51-67 billion – three or four times the cost of construction.

A general rule for government bonds is that they double the cost of projects, once interest has been paid.

The San Francisco Bay Bridge earthquake retrofit was originally slated to cost $6.3 billion, but that was just for salaries and physical materials. With interest and fees, the cost to taxpayers and toll-payers will be over $12 billion.

The bullet train from San Francisco to Los Angeles, another pet project of Jerry Brown and his administration, involves a bond issue approved in 2008 for $10 billion. But when interest and fees are added, $19.5 billion will have to be paid back on this bond, doubling the cost.

And those heavy charges pale in comparison to the financing of “capital appreciation bonds.” As with the “no interest” loans that became notorious in the subprime mortgage crisis, the borrower pays only the principal for the first few years. But interest continues to compound; and after several decades, it can amount to ten times principal or more.

San Diego County taxpayers will pay $1 billion after 40 years for $105 million raised for the Poway Unified School District.

Folsom Cordova used capital appreciation bonds to finance $514,000. The sticker price after interest and fees will be $9.1 million.

In 2013, state lawmakers restricted debt service on capital appreciation bonds to four times principal and limited their term to 25 years. But that still means that financiers receive four times the cost of the project itself – the sort of return considered usurious when we had anti-usury laws with teeth.

Escaping the Interest Trap: The Models of China and North Dakota

California needs $700 billion in infrastructure over the next decade, and the state doesn’t have that sort of money in its general fund. Where will the money come from? Proposals include more private investment, but that means the privatization of what should have been public assets. Infrastructure is touted to investors as the next “fixed income.” But fixed income to investors means perpetual payments by taxpayers and rate-payers for something that should have been public property.

There is another alternative. In the last five years, China has managed to build an impressive 4000 miles of high-speed rail. Where did it get the money? The Chinese government has a hidden funding source: it owns its own banks. That means it gets its financing effectively interest-free.

All banks actually have a hidden funding source. The Bank of England just admitted in its quarterly bulletin that banks don’t lend their deposits. They simply advance credit created on their books. If someone is going to be creating our national money supply and collecting interest on it, it should be we the people, through our own publicly-owned banks.

Models for this approach are not limited to China and other Asian “economic miracles.” The US has its own stellar model, in the state-owned Bank of North Dakota (BND). By law, all of North Dakota’s revenues are deposited in the BND, which is set up as a DBA of the state (“North Dakota doing business as the Bank of North Dakota”). That means all of the state’s capital is technically the bank’s capital. The bank uses its copious capital and deposit pool to generate credit for local purposes.

The BND is a major money-maker for the state, returning a sizable dividend annually to the state treasury. Every year since the 2008 banking crisis, it has reported a return on investment of between 17 percent and 26 percent. While California and other states have been slashing services and raising taxes in order to balance their budgets, North Dakota has actually been lowering taxes, something it has done twice in the last five years.

The BND partners with local banks rather than competing with them, strengthening their capital and deposit bases and allowing them to keep loans on their books rather than having to sell them off to investors or farm the loans out to Wall Street. This practice allowed North Dakota to avoid the subprime crisis that destroyed the housing market in other states.

North Dakota has the lowest unemployment rate in the country, the lowest default rate on credit card debt, one of the lowest foreclosure rates, and the most local banks per capita of any state. It is also the only state to escape the credit crisis altogether, boasting a budget surplus every year since 2008.

Consider the Possibilities

The potential of this public banking model for other states is huge. California’s population is more than 50 times that of North Dakota. California has over $200 billion stashed in a variety of funds identified in its 2012 Comprehensive Annual Financial Report (CAFR), including $58 billion managed by the Treasurer in a Pooled Money Investment Account earning a meager 0.264% annually. California also has over $400 billion in its pension funds (CalPERS and CalSTRS).

This money is earmarked for specific purposes and cannot be spent on the state budget, but it can be invested. A portion could be invested as equity in a state-owned bank, and a larger portion could be deposited in the bank as interest-bearing certificates of deposit. This huge capital and deposit base could then be leveraged by the bank into credit, something all banks do. Since the state would own the bank, the interest would return to the state. Infrastructure could be had interest-free, knocking 50% or more off the sticker price.

By doing its own financing in-house, the state can massively expand its infrastructure without imposing massive debts on future generations. The Golden State can display the innovation and prosperity that makes it worthy of the name once again.

___________________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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Kerry at Yale

Kerry at Yale

by Stephen Lendman

On May 18, he returned to his alma mater. He's class of 1966. He was a mediocre student. He barely managed to graduate. 

He got four freshman year Ds. His cumulative four-year 76 numerical rating barely avoided failure. Gentlemen C's got him through.

He was Yale's featured Class Day speaker. He addressed graduating students. His mother stressed integrity.

"Integrity, John," she said. His father said "diplomacy was really being able to see the world through the eyes of someone else, to understand their aspirations and assumptions."

Two important lessons Kerry never learned. He's vying for Washington's worst ever Secretary of State dishonor. 

He fronts for imperial lawlessness. He's an unindicted war criminal. He represents America's dark side. 

He mocks legitimacy. He shames the office he holds. He's mindless of rule of law principles. He's a serial liar. He's a moral coward.

He's deplores peace. He's brazenly hawkish. He's indifferent to human suffering. 

He relishes spoils of war. He's what Paul Craig Roberts calls a "two-bit punk." More on what he said below.

In November 1984, he was elected Massachusetts junior senator. He succeeded Paul Tsongas. He stepped down for health reasons. 

On January 2, 1985, he took office. For over 29 years, he supported US imperial lawlessness. He was Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman.

On February 1, 2013, he became America's 68th Secretary of State. Its top diplomat. Its front man for ruthless power.

His style reflects bullying, bluster and Big Lies. His job involves telling other nations who's boss. Explaining Washington rules. Demanding compliance or else.

His estimated net worth exceeds $300 million. He's a billionaire through his wife's wealth. She's heir to the Heinz fortune.

Kerry's Senate voting record was deplorable. He was Israel's man in Washington.

He supported NAFTA, Big Media, welfare reform, Plan Columbia, Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF/September 2001), the USA Patriot Act, its 2006 and 2011 reauthorizations, and annual national defense budgets for war.

He endorsed war on terror lawlessness. He backed Bush's imperial aggression. He supported Obama's war on Libya. 

He favors ravaging and destroying Syria. He's for targeting Iran next. He's administration Ukraine agenda front man. He supports illegitimate fascist putschist rule.

Earlier he backed Bush's No Child Left Behind scheme to privatize public education.

He endorsed energy policies benefitting Big Oil, Obamacare, reduced food stamp funding, and freedom threatening cybersecurity legislation among other undemocratic measures.

He favors doubling special forces death squads. He wants them deployed globally. He wants their role in America's war on terror enhanced.

He wants greater US military strength. He wants it better able to wage global wars. He wants stepped up intelligence gathering. He favors tougher anti-terrorist policies. 

He supports offensive national missile defense. He's against cutting nuclear weapons below START levels.

He's brazenly anti-Russian. He's hostile to Moscow/Beijing ties. He has close Wall Street ties. He and George Bush are Yale grads.

He was president of Yale's Political Union. He belonged to Skull and Bones. So did Bush, his father, and grandfather.

In 1832, it was founded. Throughout most of its history as an all-male secret society. Women were excluded until selectively admitted in the 1990s. Its headquarters building is called the Tomb.

Alumni include former presidents, Supreme Court chief justices, CIA officials, cabinet members, congressmen, senators, business leaders, and other prominent members of society.

Hundreds of living ones remain. S&B is Yale's elitist secret society. Members are carefully vetted.

It's more than a club. Fifteen members are chosen annually. It may be America's most elite network. 

Inductees are considered potential future business, government, legal, and other type prominent leaders.

Its alumni have enormous influence. They run America. They've done it for years. Dominant S&B alumni families control it. 

They include Bush, Bundy, Harriman, Lord, Phelps, Rockefeller, Carnegie, Ford, Taft, and Whitney, among others. Inter-marriage is encouraged.

One observer calls it "an international mafia - unregulated and all but unknown." 

Its agenda reflects New World Order dominance. It wants personal freedoms compromised. Ceremonial silence is sworn.

Bonesmen automatically advance to positions of power. They're expected to serve prominently. Former members financed Hitler. Current ones are fascists. They're neo-Nazis.

Many Bonesmen have close Wall Street ties. At least a dozen are linked to the Fed. 

They control America's media, prominent legal institutions, the Council on Foreign Relations, and Trilateral Commission.

Silence is Skull and Bones' golden rule. Bonesmen are sworn to secrecy. They reflect the worst of America's dark side. Kerry is current Exhibit A.

His Class Day address ignored his imperial agenda. It substituted lies for vital truths. 

He pretended support for peace, civil rights, popular needs, immigration reform that matters, and environmental sanity.

He ludicrously called what happened after he graduated a "daring journey of progress played out over years, decades, and even generations."

"On the world stage," he said, "you will not escape it…We see huge, growing populations of young people in places that offer little education, little economic or political opportunity."

He fabricated concern for "do(ing) more to coordinate an attack on extreme poverty, provide education, opportunity, and jobs…"

He stressed "refus(ing) to accept the downsizing of America's role in a very complicated world."

He told class of 2014 Yale grads: "Your job is to disturb the universe."

He pretended for better, not worse. He meant furthering US dominance. 

Enforcing Washington rules. Targeting outliers for removal. Eliminating major rivals. Waging war on humanity.

He ludicrously claimed "most of the rest of the world doesn’t lie awake at night worrying about America’s presence."

"They worry about what would happen in our absence…(W)hat makes America different from other nations…is that we are united by an uncommon idea…"

"(T)hat we’re all created equal and all endowed with unalienable rights." 

"America is not just a country like other countries. America is an idea and we. All of us, you - get to fill it out over time."

"At Yale, we say your degree admits you to all its 'rights and responsibilities.' " 

"It means we need to renew that responsibility over and over again every day. It's not a one-time decision."

Kerry urged keeping faith in government. Remain hopeful. Stay active. Find solutions. 

Keep "faith with the ability of institutions to do big things when demanded."

It bears repeating. Kerry ignored America's dark side. His lead role. His criminal agenda. 

His war on freedom. His hawkishness. Disdaining peace. Supporting wrong over right. 

Defending the indefensible. Failing as America's top diplomat. Remaining unaccountable. His policies risk potential global war. 

Yale's class of 2014 includes students from 61 countries. Vietnam among others. Ones America ravaged and destroyed. 

They know America's dark side best. Likely Kerry's lead imperial role. His support for wealth, power and privilege. His lawlessness.

His deplorable human rights record. His support for wrong over right. His disdain for what matters most.

New grads can make a difference. Doing so requires making right choices. 

Hopefully one is being Kerry's worst nightmare. Being opposite his imperial madness. 

Being on the right side of history. Wanting societies fit to live in. Supporting peace, equity and justice. Governance of, by and for everyone.

Endorsing right over wrong. Doing it because it matters. Spreading the word. 

Urging others to do the same thing. Beating Kerry and like-minded scoundrels at their own dirty game.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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


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

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The second the news broke that Belgium purchased $141 billion in Treasury bonds within a three month period in 2014, almost everyone understood who was really behind it and why, because Belgium simply does not have the resources to make a purchase of that volume.

The federal reserve is behind Belgium's extraordinary purchase, in order to disguise the financial downfall after Russia dumped a fifth of it's treasury holdings.

Via FT:

Russia has offloaded a fifth of its holdings of US Treasury debt in March at a time of heightened speculation that its assets would be frozen as part of sanctions over the crisis in Ukraine.
It was the largest seller during the month while Belgium extended its big buying streak, according to US Treasury International Capital data released on Thursday.

A decline of $25.8bn in Russia’s Treasury holdings to $100.4bn involved the selling of short-term bills.

Russia isn't the only one that has been dumping US Treasury bonds. Back in December China sold the second largest amount of US Treasury bonds, and once again, who jumped in?

Belgium!

More from Greg Hunter and Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, who holds a PhD in economics, explains, via USAWatchDog:


We know that Belgium didn’t have any money to buy $141 billion worth of bonds over a three month period. That sum comes to 29% of the Belgium GDP. So, they don’t have a surplus in their budget that is 29% of their GDP, and they don’t have trade or current account surplus in that amount. In fact, everything is in the red. Their budget deficit is in the red, and their trade and current accounts are in the red. So, Belgium didn’t have the money, and yet, they managed to pick up $141.2 billion in U.S. Treasuries over a three month period. So, where did they get the money?

[...]

We know their central bank couldn’t have printed euros to buy the bonds with because the Belgium central bank can’t print euros. Belgium is part of the euro system and has lost the ability to create its own money. So, the only source for that kind of money would have been the Federal Reserve. The Federal Reserve thought it needed to hide the fact it was buying $141 billion in bonds over a three month period when it was officially reducing or tapering the quantitative easing down to $65 billion. It didn’t want to have to admit it was really purchasing $112 billion a month, almost double the announced purchases.”

Dr. Roberts also says, “I think also the Fed did not want it to get out that some large country is unloading Treasuries. Somebody dropped over $100 billion in Treasuries in one week. If that was a large holder and that became known, it could panic smaller holders and you could see a stampede, and the Fed could lose control of interest rates. So, I think the Fed thought the best thing to do is launder its purchase through a different country; and, thereby, disguise what is actually happening.”


The fact is the US Dollar and economy is being propped up simply by being the reserve currency and countries are tired of the US using that to print money out of thin air with nothing to back it up. The economy is not growing, as is also explained in the video below, but to maintain the illusion, the administration, via the Federal Reserve, is actually laundering purchases through other countries in order to hide the impending downfall.

The entire interview below is a must-see.











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JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: THE TWILIGHT ZONE OF AMERICAN POLITICAL LIFE WHERE ALMOST EVERY WORD...

          THE TWILIGHT ZONE OF AMERICAN POLITICAL LIFE WHERE ALMOST EVERY WORD OF NEWS ISN’T WHAT IT SEEMS   John Chuckman   I think a description of the political space in which we live as a kind of twilight reality is not an exaggeration. Not only is a great deal of […]

Kiev Obstructs Peaceful Dialogue

Kiev Obstructs Peaceful Dialogue

by Stephen Lendman

Coup-appointed putschists are convenient US stooges. Washington manipulates their policies. They salute and obey.

They spurn peaceful dialogue. They continue lawless aggression. They do so against their own people. They do it with full US support.

On May 8, Russia's Foreign Ministry said they sabotaged OECD peaceful conflict resolution dialogue.

"The reaction to the results of the Moscow meeting between the presidents of Russia and Switzerland that came from the Kiev authorities, who have essentially jeopardized the OSCE efforts to launch an inclusive dialogue, is deeply regrettable," the ministry said.

"Putting an immediate stop to the use of force, primarily of the regular army, and practical steps to disarm illegal armed groups are an obligatory condition."

"Russia expects the slaughter in Odessa to be investigated in an unbiased and comprehensive way and those guilty to be punished seriously."

Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov added:

Vladimir Putin's "appeal yesterday to representatives of the south-eastern regions of Ukraine and supporters of federalization to postpone the referendum slated for May 11 creates favorable conditions for starting a substantive and equal dialogue between the Ukrainian sides on the basis of the roadmap proposed by the Swiss Presidency of the OSCE for settling the crisis in Ukraine."

On Thursday, Putin met with his Armenia, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan an Tajikistan counterparts. He did so in Moscow.

"Militant nationalism that once led to the emergence of the Nazi ideology is again rearing its head in Europe. We won't dwell on each particular hotbed; we know where we face this danger," he said.

"The example of Ukraine vividly shows that such an irresponsible policy leads to a lot of trouble and losses."

"Hundreds of thousands of people are deprived of the chance to live a peaceful and unharmed life."

"(W)e can't be indifferent to what is going on in Ukraine. We are determined to act within the framework of" four-party agreed on terms.

"Concrete steps have been planned to intensify the OSCE's efforts toward de-escalating tensions in Ukraine." 

They've been taken "primarily through arranging a direct and equitable dialogue between the current Kiev authorities and representatives of the southeastern regions of the country."

Washington-directed Kiev actions subvert his best efforts. He's irresponsibly blamed for their reprehensible behavior.

"The world faces a lot of challenges and threats," Putin explained.

Kiev responded to Putin's diplomatic outreach by deploying 15,000 troops near Russia's borders. According to Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov:

At the same time, NATO massed forces menacingly in Eastern Europe. He called on its leaders "to quit cynically deluding the international society on the real state of affairs on the Russian-Ukrainian border."

On May 6, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel spoke at Chicago's Council on Global Affairs. He enlisted support for escalated US belligerent involvement.

Less "forces us to be more engaged later," he said. "(A)t a higher cost in blood and treasure, and often on the terms of others," he claimed.

He called tough-minded engagement a national priority.

"Although Americans today are increasingly skeptical of foreign engagement and global responsibilities, it is a mistake to view these responsibilities as a burden or as charity," he said.

"Let us remember that the biggest beneficiaries of American leadership and engagement in the world are the American people."

America has 400,000 troops based in scores of countries worldwide. Hagel lied claiming they're there to build a peaceful, free, stable world.

They're involved in advancing America's imperium. They operate lawlessly. They're engaged in multiple direct and proxy wars. They make more enemies than friends.

"Even as we shrink our military’s size…we must continue strengthening the capabilities of our allies, forming new alliances and bolstering old ones, and investing in collective security arrangements,” Hagel said. 

"We want our soldiers, sailors, airmen and Marines active around the world, deploying with greater frequency and agility, with the skills and expertise needed to build security capacity in each region."

He highlighted non-existing threats. He claimed a need to focus on high-intensity ones from sophisticated adversaries.

He names irregular forces, cyber terrorists, and others increasingly challenging America's technological advantage.

He urged major investments in next-generation weapons. He wants increased cyber and space capabilities.

He wants unmanned systems bolstered. He wants more precision strike platforms. He wants similar intelligence ones.

"I'm not interested in a fair fight," he said. "I don't want to be capable of only fighting the last war."

He wants Washington's war on humanity to continue. He irresponsibly threatens world peace.

No nation does so more than America. Former Reagan Office of Management and Budget Director David Stockman called for dismantling America's warfare state.

He called intervening against other nations "moronic." In 1989, Washington lied promising not moving "one inch to the East."

One mindless policy after another followed. Things get worse, not better. Stockman explained the problem as follows:

"The Washington beltway is floating in a sea of prosperity reminiscent of Imperial Rome." 

"It reflects the fact that the vast machinery of the old cold war has been layered upon by the massive expansion that flowed from the War On Terror." 

"Policy thus happens because our vastly augmented and wholly unnecessary Warfare State needs missions, purposes and a reason for being."

It's heading America toward tyranny and ruin. It threatens world peace.

Famed journalist George Seldes (1890 - 1995) highlighted a "worldwide munitions racket." He did so decades earlier. He called war profiteers "merchants of death."

They promote "imperialism (and) colonization," he said. They do so "by means of war."

"The healthfulness of their businesses depends on slaughter. The more wars," the greater their riches.

He worried about domestic "fascist forces." They're in government, industry and the media. 

They promote wars. They cheerlead them. They mock responsible leadership. They represented a shadow of today's threats.

Viktor Medvedchuk heads the Ukrainian Choice public movement. On Thursday, he said US military aid "will be used to escalate aggression and provoke new conflicts and confrontation in the country."

"This is the real US goal," he added. "(T)he United Staes is ready to finance a new stage of confrontation and aggression in Ukraine."

Stop NATO editor Rick Rozoff went further. Washington wants "military domination of the entire planet," he said.

Its recklessness is unprecedented. It's permanently at war. Outrageous amounts are spent waging them. More is spent on militarism overall. 

"I live in a country where many of us can’t afford even elementary healthcare, dental care, optical care; can’t afford to pay our rent," said Rozoff.

Vital needs go begging. Waging war on humanity takes precedence. So do bullying, pressuring, bribing and threatening other nations to support interests contrary to their own.

America is the only nation in world history ever to "carve up the entire (planet) into military commands," said Rozoff.

It's to solidify unchallenged military dominance. It's to wage war anywhere on a moment's notice.

Longstanding US policy reflects "a corrupt, money-driven political (duopoly) system." Popular interests have no say.

Paul Craig Roberts is right calling America a "gangster state." It's run by "two-bit punks."

"Dollar imperialism, threats, bribes, and wars are means by which US hegemony is extended," he said.

Democracy is fantasy. None whatever exists. None is tolerated anywhere. Accountability is non-existent.

Monied interests run things. Obama is their convenient stooge. So are officials around him. Congressional leaders are no better.

Officials able to make a difference dismiss public need. They pursue reckless policies. They're hopelessly corrupt. They represent gangsterism writ large.

Rule of law principles don't matter. Dissent is criminalized. Washington want its message alone getting out. It's  institutionalizing tyranny. 

Non-existent enemies are invented. It's done to generate fear. It's to wage war on humanity. It may not survive Obama's second term. 

Rogue policies risk the unthinkable. Madness defines them. Obama represents the world's greatest threat. Stopping him matters most.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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


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

America’s Hidden Hunger Crisis

America's Hidden Hunger Crisis

by Stephen Lendman

Imagine tens of millions hungry in the world's richest country. Imagine bipartisan complicity ignoring a growing crisis. 

Imagine uncaring policymakers. Imagine them cutting vital programs able to help when sizable increases are needed. 

Imagine serving monied interests at the expense of popular ones. Imagine enriching themselves in the process.

Outnumber Hunger (OH) is a nationwide campaign. It enlists people in the growing fight against hunger. It works cooperatively with Feeding America (FA). More on FA below.

Hunger is a major problem. For nearly 50 million Americans, it's a daily reality. Around 13 million families are affected. Most are hardworking ones. 

They don't earn enough to live on. Census data show poverty conditions or borderline ones affect around half of US households. 

Kids don't get enough to eat. Around 16 million are affected. Feeding America is the nation's "leading domestic hunger-relief charity."

Its mission is "feed(ing) America's hungry." Its nationwide food bank network does so. It can't keep up with demand. Increasingly it outstrips supply.

According to FA's media relations director Ross Fraser:

"Food insecurity is higher than at any time since the Great Depression." One in six Americans face hunger. So do one in five children.

Missing meals is common practice. Nutritious balanced diets for growing millions don't exist. Belly-fillers substitute. 

Protracted Main Street Depression conditions persist. Things go from bad to worse. Food stamps provide a woefully inadequate $1.40 per person per meal.

Food banks supplement recipients when monthly benefits run out. Most often it's around 10 days or more before month's end.

America is the land of I don't care. Equity and justice aren't in its vocabulary. Official numbers understate reality. Growing millions suffer out of sight and mind.

America's wealth doesn't help. Congress is dismissive. Food stamps were cut when most needed. More cuts are planned.

Last December, 1.3 million Americans lost unemployment benefits. Another 73,000 more joined them weekly.

On April 7, Senate members extended emergency benefits for five months. It did so retroactively from December 28.

House Republicans blocked legislation. Millions of America's jobless face harder than ever hard times. House Democrats circulated a discharge petition.

If enough Republicans join them, an immediate vote is required. So far, a majority is lacking. House Republican leaders block extended unemployment compensation (EUC).

US resources go for war-making. Corporate handouts matter more. Vital needs increasingly go begging. Thirdworldizing America is official policy. Privileged interests alone benefit.

America's wealth disparity is deplorable. The top 1% owns over half the nation's wealth. The bottom 90% has a decreasing share. Social inequality is institutionalized. It's unprecedented or close to it.

It matches or exceeds 19th century harshness. Protracted Depression conditions affect growing millions. 

Poverty, unemployment, homelessness and hunger approach record levels. Millions struggle to pay rent, service mortgages, cover medical bills, heat homes, and manage other daily expenses. 

Growing numbers don't get enough to eat. Social justice is fast disappearing. Monied interests alone matter.

America was never beautiful. For sure it's not now. Sink or swim defines policy. Growing hunger perhaps stands out most of all.

On April 16, USA Today headlined "Hunger is a 'silent crisis' in the USA," saying:

"Tianna Gaines Turner can't remember the last time she went to bed without worrying about how she was going to feed her three children."

"She can't remember the last time she woke up and wasn't worried about how she and her husband would make enough in their part-time jobs to buy groceries and pay utilities on their apartment in a working-class section of Philadelphia."

"And she can't remember the last time she felt confident she and her husband wouldn't have to skip meals so their children could eat."

Similar stories repeat nationwide. Parents struggle to feed children. Low-pay/part-time jobs don't provide enough to live on. 

Millions of unemployed have no steady income. Government benefits increasingly are slashed.

Nicki Maxwell and her husband are like millions of other parents. They struggle daily to feed children. They turn to food pantries for help. They have no other choice.

"I remember feeling really hopeless," said Nicki. "I was depressed. I didn't know what to do. I was drowning under the weight of it."

She wasn't always poor. Years earlier, her family was solidly middle class. She and her husband are college grads. They had good jobs. They paid well. No longer.

They exhausted their savings. In 2012, they were homeless for six months. They relied on family and friends for help. They skipped meals.

They earn far less now than earlier. Survival is a daily struggle. Their children are aged eight, 12 and 14.

Millions of other poor Americans struggle the same way. Intolerable numbers live in crisis. Nicki feels like they do. "When you face food insecurity, it's hard to feel secure again," she says.

Feeding America's latest report is based on federal 2012 data. Nearly 50 million people are food insecure.

They eat less, skip meals, or go hungry. They suffer out of sight and mind. Children most of all. Their growing bodies need nutritious food.

Main Street Depression conditions persist. Economist Craig Gunderson studies hunger. "(F)ood insecurity rates are high," he says. "(T)ens of millions of Americans are…struggling" to get by. 

Center for Hunger-Free Communities director Mariana Chilton said food stamps and other social benefit cuts combined with rising costs force families to choose between enough food and paying other expenses.

"This is a massive public health crisis, and it is a silent" one, she stresses.

Children's HealthWatch (CH) is a network of doctors and public health researchers. Data on children up to age four is collected. Around 29% of households CH tracks face growing hunger. In 2013, it was 25%.

Feeding America lists 10 states with significantly higher food insecurity than the 14.7% 2000-2012 national average. They include:

Mississippi: 20.9%

Arkansas: 19.7%

Texas: 18.4%

Alabama: 17.9%

North Carolina: 17.0%

Georgia: 16.9%

Missouri: 16.7%

Nevada: 16.6%

Ohio: 16.1%

California: 15.6

Illinois is this writer's home state. According to No Kid Hungry, more than one in five state children (22.2) "face a constant struggle against hunger."

They endure what well-fed kids don't face. They're ill-nourished when they need healthy diets most. Empty bellies make concentrating harder. Classroom performance suffers.

Illness and headaches are more common. So is vulnerability to infections. Hospitalizations are more likely.

Conditions worsen annually. According to 2011 data, over 745,000 Illinois children "are at risk of hunger." They don't get enough food "to lead healthy active lives."

"More than 23 percent of (state) households with children struggled to afford enough food for themselves and their families in 2010."

Things now are worse than then. This writer lives in Chicago. The Greater Chicago Food Depository (GCFD) explained city food security.

Around "1 in 6 individuals" are affected. They don't know "when or where their next meal will be."

People struggle throughout greater Chicago. Data show high concentrations in west and south Chicago communities. Cook County's south suburbs are affected.

In Chicago's West Garfield Park, Lawndale and Austin, one in three people face food insecurity. Auburn Gresham, West Englewood, South Shore and Roseland are severely impacted.

South Chicago Harvey, Robbins and Ford Heights face 34%, 39% and 48% food insecurity rates respectively.

GCFD executive director Kate Maehr said "(o)lder adults face painful choices between paying for food and paying for medicine, or paying for food and she paying rent."

Federal budget cuts caused "more hunger," she added. Over 860,000 Cook County residents aren't sure where their next meal is coming from, she said.

Around 37% are children. About 9% are under age five. Nearly half of affected households say they're forced to choose between food and utilities. 

Another 44% either buy food, pay rent, or maintain monthly mortgage payments. Employed and unemployed households face similar conditions.

So do communities nationwide. America is a let 'em eat cake society. Things aren't improving. Harder times keep getting harder..

In Dickens' "A Christmas Carol," he explained how struggling Cratchit family members struggled to get by. Ebenezer Scrooge was responsible.

On Christmas eve, dinner consisted of "one small atom of a bone upon a dish (followed by) speckled cannon-ball" pudding with a sprig of holly.

"But nobody said or thought it was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have been flat heresy to do so," said Dickens.

Cratchits were like many others in 18th century England. They made do with meager amounts of what they had.

So do growing millions of Americans. The world's richest country doesn't care. Lump of coal harshness is policy. 

Fundamental rights don't matter. Human need goes begging. Washington has other priorities. 

Serving monied interests tops the list. So does waging war on humanity. Maybe destroying it to save it is planned. 

Battlefields shift from one theater to another. Conflicts rage without end. America's war machine reflects madness. Death squad diplomacy eliminates non-believers. 

Tyranny is a hair's breadth away. Where things end, who knows. Hungry millions worry most about empty bellies. Policymakers don't give a damn if they starve.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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


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

JOHN CHUCKMAN ESSAY: A STRANGE, SOULLESS MAN AND HIS UTTERLY FAILED PRESIDENCY

A STRANGE, SOULLESS MAN AND HIS UTTERLY FAILED PRESIDENCY   John Chuckman   How vividly I remember the photos of Obama in Berlin during his campaign in 2008: streets literally flooded with people keen to get a glimpse of a promising young politician, expressing for us all how exhausted the world was with the most […]

Robbing Main Street to Prop Up Wall Street: Why Jerry Brown’s Rainy Day...

There is no need to sequester funds urgently needed by Main Street to pay for Wall Street’s malfeasance. Californians can have their cake and eat it too – with a state-owned bank.

Governor Jerry Brown is aggressively pushing a California state constitutional amendment requiring budget surpluses to be used to pay down municipal debt and create an emergency “rainy day” fund, in anticipation of the next economic crisis.

On the face of it, it is a sensible idea. As long as Wall Street controls America’s finances and our economy, another catastrophic bust is a good bet.

But a rainy day fund takes money off the table, setting aside funds we need now to reverse the damage done by Wall Street’s last collapse. The brutal cuts of 2008 and 2009 shrank the middle class and gave California the highest poverty rate in the country.

The costs of Wall Street gambling are being thrust on its primary victims. We are given the draconian choice of restoring much-needed services or maintaining austerity conditions in order to pay Wall Street the next time it brings down the economy.

There is another alternative – one that California got very close to implementing in 2011, before Jerry Brown vetoed the bill. AB750, a bill for a feasibility study for a state-owned bank, passed both houses of the state legislature but the governor refused to sign it. He said the study could be done by the Assembly and Senate Banking Committees in-house; but 2-1/2 years later, no further action has been taken on it.

Having a state-owned bank can substitute for a rainy day fund. Banks don’t need rainy day funds, because they have cheap credit lines with other banks. Today those credit lines are at the extremely low Fed funds rate of 0.25%. A state with its own bank can take advantage of this nearly-interest-free credit line not only for emergencies but to cut its long-term financing costs in half.

That is not just California dreaming. There is already a highly successful precedent for the approach. North Dakota is the only state with its own state-owned depository bank, and the only state to fully escape the credit crisis. It has boasted a budget surplus every year since 2008, and its 2.6% unemployment rate is the lowest in the country. Contrast that to California’s, one of the highest.

In a 2009 interview, Bank of North Dakota President Eric Hardmeyer stated that when the dot-com bust caused North Dakota to go over-budget in 2001-02, the bank did act as a rainy day fund for the state. To make up the budget shortfall, the bank declared an extra dividend for the state (its owner),  and the next year the budget was back on track. No massive debt accumulation, no Wall Street bid-rigging, no fraudulent interest-rate swaps, no bond vigilantes, no capital appreciation bonds at 300% interest.

California already has a surfeit of surplus funds tucked around the state, which can be identified in state and local Comprehensive Annual Financial Reports (CAFRs). Clint Richardson, who has made an exhaustive study of California’s CAFR, writes that he has located nearly $600 billion in these funds. California’s surplus funds include those in a Pooled Money Investment Account managed by the state treasurer, which currently contains  $54 billion earning a mere 0.24% interest – almost nothing.

The money in these surplus funds is earmarked for particular purposes, so it cannot be spent on the state budget. However, it can be invested. A small portion could be invested as capital in the state’s own bank, where it could earn a significantly better return than it is getting now. The Bank of North Dakota has had a return on equity ranging between 17% and 26% every year since 2008.

California has massive potential capital and deposit bases, which could be leveraged into credit, as all banks do. The Bank of England just formally admitted in its quarterly bulletin that banks don’t lend their deposits. They simply advance credit created on their books. The deposits remain in demand accounts, available as needed by the depositors (in this case the state).

The Wall Street megabanks in which California invests and deposits its money are not using this massive credit power to develop California’s economy. Rather, they are using it to reap short-term profits for their own accounts – much of it extremely short-term, “earned” by skimming profits through computerized high-frequency program trading. Meanwhile, Wall Street is sucking massive sums in interest, fees, and interest rate swap payments out of California and into offshore tax havens.

Rather than setting aside our hard-earned surplus to pay the piper on demand, we could be using it to create the credit necessary to establish our own economic independence. California is the ninth largest economy in the world, and the world looks to us for creative leadership.

“As goes California, so goes the nation.” We can lead the states down the path of debt peonage, or we can be a model for establishing state economic sovereignty.

___________________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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The Global Banking Game Is Rigged, and the FDIC Is Suing

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Taxpayers are paying billions of dollars for a swindle pulled off by the world’s biggest banks, using a form of derivative called interest-rate swaps; and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation has now joined a chorus of litigants suing over it. According to an SEIU report:

Derivatives . . . have turned into a windfall for banks and a nightmare for taxpayers. . . . While banks are still collecting fixed rates of 3 to 6 percent, they are now regularly paying public entities as little as a tenth of one percent on the outstanding bonds, with rates expected to remain low in the future. Over the life of the deals, banks are now projected to collect billions more than they pay state and local governments – an outcome which amounts to a second bailout for banks, this one paid directly out of state and local budgets.

It is not just that local governments, universities and pension funds made a bad bet on these swaps. The game itself was rigged, as explained below. The FDIC is now suing in civil court for damages and punitive damages, a lead that other injured local governments and agencies would be well-advised to follow. But they need to hurry, because time on the statute of limitations is running out.

The Largest Cartel in World History

On March 14, 2014, the FDIC filed suit for LIBOR-rigging against sixteen of the world’s largest banks – including the three largest US banks (JPMorgan Chase, Bank of America, and Citigroup), the three largest UK banks, the largest German bank, the largest Japanese bank, and several of the largest Swiss banks. Bill Black, professor of law and economics and a former bank fraud investigator, calls them “the largest cartel in world history, by at least three and probably four orders of magnitude.”

LIBOR (the London Interbank Offering Rate) is the benchmark rate by which banks themselves can borrow. It is a crucial rate involved in hundreds of trillions of dollars in derivative trades, and it is set by these sixteen megabanks privately and in secret.

Interest rate swaps are now a $426 trillion business. That’s trillion with a “t” – about seven times the gross domestic product of all the countries in the world combined. According to the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency, in 2012 US banks held $183.7 trillion in interest-rate contracts, with only four firms representing 93% of total derivative holdings; and three of the four were JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, and Bank of America, the US banks being sued by the FDIC over manipulation of LIBOR.

Lawsuits over LIBOR-rigging have been in the works for years, and regulators have scored some very impressive regulatory settlements. But so far, civil actions for damages have been unproductive for the plaintiffs. The FDIC is therefore pursuing another tack.

But before getting into all that, we need to look at how interest-rate swaps work. It has been argued that the counterparties stung by these swaps got what they bargained for – a fixed interest rate. But that is not actually what they got. The game was rigged from the start.

The Sting

Interest-rate swaps are sold to parties who have taken out loans at variable interest rates, as insurance against rising rates. The most common swap is one where counterparty A (a university, municipal government, etc.) pays a fixed rate to counterparty B (the bank), while receiving from B a floating rate indexed to a reference rate such as LIBOR. If interest rates go up, the municipality gets paid more on the swap contract, offsetting its rising borrowing costs. If interest rates go down, the municipality owes money to the bank on the swap, but that extra charge is offset by the falling interest rate on its variable rate loan. The result is to fix borrowing costs at the lower variable rate.

At least, that is how it’s supposed to work. The catch is that the swap is a separate financial agreement – essentially an ongoing bet on interest rates. The borrower owes both the interest onits variable rate loan and what it must pay out on this separate swap deal. And the benchmarks for the two rates don’t necessarily track each other. As explained by Stephen Gandel on CNN Money:

The rates on the debt were based on something called the Sifma municipal bond index, which is named after the industry group that maintains the index and tracks muni bonds. And that’s what municipalities should have bought swaps based on.

Instead, Wall Street sold municipalities Libor swaps, which were easier to trade and [were] quickly becoming a gravy train for the banks.

Historically, Sifma and LIBOR moved together. But that was before the greatest-ever global banking cartel got into the game of manipulating LIBOR. Gandel writes:

In 2008 and 2009, Libor rates, in general, fell much faster than the Sifma rate. At times, the rates even went in different directions. During the height of the financial crisis, Sifma rates spiked. Libor rates, though, continued to drop. The result was that the cost of the swaps that municipalities had taken out jumped in price at the same time that their borrowing costs went up, which was exactly the opposite of how the swaps were supposed to work.

The two rates had decoupled, and it was chiefly due to manipulation. As noted in the SEUI report:

[T]here is . . . mounting evidence that it is no accident that these deals have gone so badly, so quickly for state and local governments. Ongoing investigations by the U.S. Department of Justice and the California, Florida, and Connecticut Attorneys General implicate nearly every major bank in a nationwide conspiracy to rig bids and drive up the fixed rates state and local governments pay on their derivative contracts.

Changing the Focus to Fraud

Suits to recover damages for collusion, antitrust violations and racketeering (RICO), however, have so far failed. In March 2013, SDNY Judge Naomi Reece Buchwald dismissed antitrust and RICO claims brought by investors and traders in actions consolidated in her court, on the ground that the plaintiffs lacked standing to bring the claims. She held that the rate-setting banks’ actions did not affect competition, because those banks were not in competition with one another with respect to LIBOR rate-setting; and that “the alleged collusion occurred in an arena in which defendants never did and never were intended to compete.”

Okay, the defendants weren’t competing with each other. They were colluding with each other, in order to unfairly compete with the rest of the financial world – local banks, credit unions, and the state and local governments they lured into being counterparties to their rigged swaps. The SDNY ruling is on appeal to the Second Circuit.

In the meantime, the FDIC is taking another approach. Its 24-count complaint does include antitrust claims, but the emphasis is on damages for fraud and conspiring to keep the LIBOR rate low to enrich the banks. The FDIC is not the first to bring such claims, but its massive suit adds considerable weight to the approach.

Why would keeping interest rates low enrich the rate-setting banks? Don’t they make more money if interest rates are high?

The answer is no. Unlike most banks, they make most of their money not from ordinary commercial loans but from interest rate swaps. The FDIC suit seeks to recover losses caused to 38 US banking institutions that did make their profits from ordinary business and consumer loans – banks that failed during the financial crisis and were taken over by the FDIC. They include Washington Mutual, the largest bank failure in US history. Since the FDIC had to cover the deposits of these failed banks, it clearly has standing to recover damages, and maybe punitive damages, if intentional fraud is proved.

The Key Role of the Federal Reserve

The rate-rigging banks have been caught red-handed, but the greater manipulation of interest rates was done by the Federal Reserve itself. The Fed aggressively drove down interest rates to save the big banks and spur economic recovery after the financial collapse. In the fall of 2008, it dropped the prime rate (the rate at which banks borrow from each other) nearly to zero.

This gross manipulation of interest rates was a giant windfall for the major derivative banks. Indeed, the Fed has been called a tool of the global banking cartel. It is composed of 12 branches, all of which are 100% owned by the private banks in their districts; and the Federal Reserve Bank of New York has always been the most important by far of these regional Fed banks. New York, of course is where Wall Street is located.

LIBOR is set in London; but as Simon Johnson observed in a New York Times article titled The Federal Reserve and the LIBOR Scandal, the Fed has jurisdiction whenever the “safety and soundness” of the US financial system is at stake. The scandal, he writes, “involves egregious, flagrant criminal conduct, with traders caught red-handed in e-mails and on tape.” He concludes:

This could even become a “tobacco moment,” in which an industry is forced to acknowledge its practices have been harmful – and enters into a long-term agreement that changes those practices and provides continuing financial compensation.

Bill Black concurs, stating, “Our system is completely rotten. All of the largest banks are involved—eagerly engaged in this fraud for years, covering it up.” The system needs a complete overhaul.

In the meantime, if the FDIC can bring a civil action for breach of contract and fraud, so can state and local governments, universities, and pension funds. The possibilities this opens up for California (where I’m currently running for State Treasurer) are huge. Fraud is grounds for rescission (terminating the contract) without paying penalties, potentially saving taxpayers enormous sums in fees for swap deals that are crippling cities, universities and other public entities across the state. Fraud is also grounds for punitive damages, something an outraged jury might be inclined to impose. My next post will explore the possibilities for California in more detail. Stay tuned.

______

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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Big Lies Drown Out Truth

Big Lies Drown Out Truth

by Stephen Lendman

Beating up on Russia persists irresponsibly daily. Big Lies repeat ad nsuseam. Truth is systematically suppressed.

Fake satellite photos are the latest. Images of Russian troops allegedly massed on Ukraine's border date from August 2013. More on this below.

On April 10, The New York Times hyped the Big Lie. It headlined "Satellites Show Russia Mobilizing Near Ukraine, NATO Says."

Times correspondents, contributors and editors avoid due diligence. Regurgitating official Big Lies substitutes. The pattern repeats daily. Truth is systematically buried.

"NATO released satellite photographs on Thursday showing Russian military equipment, including fighter jets and tanks, that it described as part of a deployment of as many as 40,000 troops near the border with Ukraine," said The Times.

Images "offered some of the first documentary evidence of a military buildup that the West says Russia could use to invade Ukraine at any moment."

Brig. General Gary Deakin heads NATO's Comprehensive Crisis and Operations Management Center. He lied claiming photos show a menacing force.

"The Russians have an array of capabilities, including aircraft, helicopters, special forces, tanks, artillery, infantry fighting vehicles," he said. "These could move in a matter of hours."

He lied claiming images were taken between March 22 and April 2. One showed 20 helicopters near Belgorod. It's 25 miles from Ukraine's border. Other images were further away.

Russia categorically denied NATO accusations. Deploying alliance forces near Russia's borders violates international agreements. 

They include the 1997 Founding Act. It's based on "mutual relations, cooperation, and security between NATO and the Russian Federation signed in Paris, France."

In response to NATO's accusation, a Russian General Staff statement said:

"Satellite imagery of Russian troops allegedly amassed at present on the border with Ukraine dates back to August 2013…"

"In reality, the images released by NATO show units of Russia's Southern Military District taking part in various exercises last summer, including near the borders with Ukraine."

They're routine. They're not threatening. Nor are more recent ones. Claims otherwise are lies. They persist maliciously against Russia.

On April 7, Times editors headlined "A Familiar Script in Ukraine," saying:

Events in Eastern Ukraine follow "the script laid down in Crimea to the letter. (Putin) may not have the same designs (there as) on Crimea, but it is no longer possible to preclude any such moves."

Washington and EU partners "said time and again that 'further' Russian aggression would prompt a stern and painful response. Now is the time to prepare for it."

Times editors barely stopped short of urging war. They lied accusing Putin and "his jingoistic supporters" of massing "tens of thousands of well-equipped troops…within striking distance of Ukraine…"

They turned truth on its head claiming Crimean reunification "was a blatant transgression of international law."

"The next Western response must be ready and credible," they urged. It must challenge Russia more than already, they added. 

Times editors march in lockstep with US imperial lawlessness. Lies substitute for truth. Don't expect them to explain.

NATO secretary general Anders Fogh Rasmussen is a convenient US stooge. He regurgitates official US policy. He's militantly anti-Russian.

He sent Moscow a message. He lied saying "(y)ou have a choice. (S)top blaming others for your own actions."

"(S)top massing your troops. (S)top escalating this crisis and start engaging in a genuine dialogue."

"Pull back your troops…For the first time (since) the Cold War ended, we see one state trying to grab a part of another's territory at gunpoint."

"We have seen the satellite images, day after day. Russia is stirring up ethnic tensions in eastern Ukraine and provoking unrest. And Russia is using its military might to dictate that Ukraine should become a federal, neutral state."

Fact check

Russia supports peace and stability. It respects nation-state sovereign independence. It affirms rule of law principles. Its actions back up its words.

Russian troops aren't massed on Ukraine's borders. Claims about imminent invasion are false.

US-led NATO aggression was conveniently forgotten. Raping Yugoslavia was ignored. So was ravaging and destroying Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. 

NATO EU nations and Turkey partner in Obama's war on Syria. What's next remains to be seen.

NATO is an aggressor. It's a killing machine. It threatens world peace. Don't expect Rasmussen to explain.

US-led NATO forces are deployed in Eastern Europe. Perhaps more are coming. On April 10, Stars and Stripes (S&S) headlined "NATO to focus on reassuring allies worried about Ukraine," saying:

"NATO's next move in response to the crisis in Ukraine is likely to be more of the same: more NATO fighters patrolling over the Baltics, more rotations of warships into the Black Sea and more surveillance of Russian movements around Ukraine."

NATO aims to boost its presence Eastern European countries close to Russia. According to its commander/US European Command head General Philip Breedlove:

"Essentially, what we are looking at is a package of land, air and maritime measures that would build assurance for our easternmost allies."

"I'm tasked to deliver this by next week. I fully intend to deliver it early."

Texas-based 1st Cavalry Division forces are part of NATO's Reaction Force. They're ready to be deployed to Eastern Europe.

Other alliance options include "deployment of aircraft to guard NATO airspace that borders Russia as well as planes capable of striking against ground forces," said S&S.

"A more prominent naval presence in the Baltic and Black seas could also be an option for the alliance."

S&S cited former NATO commander Admiral James Stavridis. Likely alliance actions include deploying aircraft, ships and troops in Eastern Europe. Especially in the Baltics and Poland, he said.

Expect more support for Ukraine's military. It'll take various forms. Included will be weapons and munitions transfers, training, intelligence sharing and more.

Washington may enhance its Eastern European force level in response to regional conditions, said Stavridis.

"I would guess the entire drawdown is being re-evaluated, and we may end up with three or even four combat brigades back in Europe, as well as restoration of the combat aircraft cuts of recent years," he added.

US European Command and US authorities are likely "to look seriously at the US ground and air footprint. Assuming decisions by the end of the year, effects would begin to be felt in 2015."

"(W)e certainly look to be heading into a very frosty (posture) in the years ahead."

On April 9, NATO headlined "Transformation Seminar Charts Path to Summit," saying:

On April 8 and 9, "(m)ore than 250 NATO and military and civilian leaders met in Paris…"

Topics addressed included "How to Adapt NATO to Face Multiple and Complex Challenges."

"(T)he current crisis in Ukraine also drove much of the discussion."

"Ukraine highlighted the need for a strong commitment as well as solidarity in what we should do to face this crisis." 

"It highlighted as well the need for us to deliver on the major initiatives we have enhanced."

Former Yugoslavia Foreign Minister Zivadin Jovanovic said Europe suffers from the effects of US-led NATO aggression on his country.

A precedent was set. "US/NATO aggressive wars in Afghanistan, Libya, Iraq, Mali and other locations" followed.

Millions of victims suffer from "endless war and aggression." 

"These crimes against humanity have not been only military in nature but also clandestine, such as what we are seeing in Ukraine, Syria and Venezuela today." 

"The West has had only objective: the domination of the world by the US/NATO and its surrogates."

He called 1999 NATO/US led aggression against Yugoslavia "a turning point toward globalization of interventionism, toward militarization of European and international relations." 

Toward "global domination of the West," he added. He thinks "the Ukrainian case and the Crimean referendum to reunite with Russia is another kind of turning point."

He believes "multi-polar world relations" will follow. Western global dominance efforts will be resisted, he said.

Ongoing events are the "the beginning (of) relieving Europe and the world of the threats of domination from one side only."

His vision is well-meaning. Shorter-term, major threats exist. Escalating East/West tensions risk conflict. Major ones start this way.

Today is the most perilous time in world history. Washington bears full responsibility. Out-of-control hegemonic ambitions risk global war. Preventing it matters most.

A Final Comment

Growing thousands of Eastern Ukrainians reject Kiev putschists. They want local autonomy. They want their democratic rights respected.

Previous articles discussed their activism. They occupied government buildings. They did so nonviolently. 

Kiev threatened brute force. Protesters braced for it any time. For now apparently it's not coming. More on this below. 

Donetsk activists include civil volunteers, police and army defectors. They're ready to "defend their motherland from the fascist army that’s going to kill them," they say.

They demand "a referendum to be independent from Kiev." They favor "being with Russia."

They abhor violence. They'll respond accordingly if targeted. An unnamed protester said:

"I only have a stick to defend myself. They are coming with machine guns, and all I (have is) a chair leg."

Another activist said:

"The protest in Donetsk is against nationalism. We are for social justice. The creation of our republic means drastic changes in the way our territory is organized." 

"We are for equality of languages. We are against the oppression by the majority by the nationalist minority, and against threatening ethnic Russians."

Lugansk protesters refused unconditional surrender demands. It masqueraded as an amnesty offer.

One protester spoke for others saying: "We demand concretely a referendum on federalization so that the will of the people is heard."

Apparently they'll get it.  Illegitimate putschist prime minister Arseny Yatsenyuk promised legislation permitting regional referenda. 

It's a key protester demand. They want their rights respected. They want local autonomy. They want democracy. They reject fascist rule.

Yatsenyuk spoke as a 48-hour deadline given protesters to evacuate public buildings expired. He'll support greater autonomy, he said.

He'll abolish Kiev-appointed regional governors. His U-turn perhaps is significant. It came after Ukraine's elite Alpha unit reportedly refused to roust protesters from government buildings.

In Donetsk, one of its commanders said his mandate is rescuing hostages. It's fighting terrorism. He'll only act lawfully, he explained. He won't attack nonviolent protesters.

His comments came days after Kharkov police arrested dozens of activists. Local police lieutenant-colonel Andrey Chuikov said Kiev deceived him and others.

They were lied to. They were told to go after dangerous armed bandits. They were peaceful protesters. They posed no threat. They showed no resistance when confronted.

Chuikov said he'll no longer take "criminal" orders. He resigned in protest. He wants no part of lawless governance.

Eastern Ukrainian putschist rejection deepens. It may be just a matter of time until it spreads nationwide. Western Ukrainians haven't yet felt the full impact of what's coming.
  
It combines fascist governance with IMF-imposed neoliberal harshness. Hammering impoverished Ukrainians harder risks mass rebellion. 

It remains to be seen what follows. Obama's imperial trophy may slip from his grasp. It can't happen a moment too soon.

John Kerry lied. He accused Moscow of stirring Eastern Ukraine unrest. He claimed Russian agents, special forces and provocateurs are involved.

This "could potentially be a contrived pretext for military intervention just as we saw in Crimea," he said.

Nothing whatsoever took place. Kerry is a serial liar. He consistently twists facts his way. He's been caught red-handed lying many times.

IlIegitimate putschist interior minister Arsen Avakov outrageously pointed fingers the wrong say, saying:

"All this was inspired and financed by the Putin-Yanukovych group."

British Foreign Secretary William Hague said Eastern European protests bear "all the hallmarks of a Russian strategy to destabilize Ukraine."

Putin and Foreign Minster Sergei Lavrov go all-out to resolve things responsibly. Washington bears full responsibility for crisis conditions. EU partners share it.

On April 10, neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland testified before Senate Foreign Relations Committee members.

She conveniently twisted truths. She did so to fit administration policy. She lied claiming Russia "occup(ied) Crimea."

She called its legal referendum "illegitimate." She outrageously claimed it was "conducted at the barrel of a gun."

It was open, free and fair. It was a model democratic exercise. It mocked America's sham process. It has no legitimacy whatever. Especially in federal elections.

Nuland ludicrously claimed "Russia('s) occupation shocked the conscience." She lied about "intimidat(ing)" Russian forces on Ukraine's borders.

She called peaceful Eastern Ukraine protests "violent." She called Ukraine's illegitimate fascist government "a frontline state in the struggle for freedom…"

She wants Russian "aggression" punished. She claimed upcoming sham May elections will be "free (and) fair."

She called Russian truth and full disclosure "propaganda, lies and efforts to destabilize Ukraine's regions."

She accused Russia of "pressur(ing) Moldova, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan and other neighbors of Ukraine."

She called them "victims" of Moscow policy. She ludicrously claimed Washington supports peace, security and prosperity.

She urged greater NATO diligence in Eastern Europe. She wants military budgets increased, not reduced.

She blamed Russia for US crimes. Earlier she was caught red-handed urging regime change on video.

Her conversation with US Ukraine ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt was recorded. It circulated on You Tube. It's more evidence of America's dark side.

Nuland fronts for imperial lawlessness. So do likeminded extremists infesting Washington. 

It bears repeating. Challenging Russia irresponsibly risks confrontation. It risks possible global war. Humanity's fate hangs in the balance.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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


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

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The Russians Aren’t Coming

The Russians Aren't Coming

by Stephen Lendman

It's back to the future. It's reminiscent of Cold War fearmongering. It claimed the Russians are coming.

Norman Jewison's 1966 film titled "The Russians Are Coming, The Russians Are Coming" portrayed a Soviet threat, albeit satirically.

Today, outrageous headlines irresponsibly suggest Russian hordes threaten Ukraine. Truth is polar opposite. It doesn't matter.

On March 28, Ukraine's propaganda news service Ukrinform headlined "Russia continues to redeploy troops to Ukrainian border." 

It quoted Kiev's Military and Political Studies Center head Dmytro Tymchuk saying:

"According to live data of the Information Resistance group, redeployment of Russian troops to the border of Russia with Ukraine has continued over the past day."

In Rostov region, he claimed columns of technology were "fixed." They're "heading to the state border." 

Included are 150 armored personnel carriers and 400 units of motor vehicles near the town of Millerovo, Tarasovsky settlement and the town of Kamensk-Shakhtinsky, he said.

Overnight at Rostov-Tovarny's railway station, he claimed "eight MLRS (multiple rocket launchers) Uragan arrived (on) 12 freight cars." 

So did "four BTR-80, about a dozen units of automotive vehicles (including fuel trucks)," he added.

"In Belgorod region...the column of vehicles was fixed, moving in the direction of the state border (30-40 km from the border): about 30 units of automotive vehicles, about 10 units of tracked engineering equipment."

BBC aired fake footage alleging Russian tanks heading for Ukraine's border.

CNN hyped the bogus threat headlining " 'The hordes are coming:' Ukrainians fear Russian invasion in northeast."

CBS News headlined "Putin reaches out to Obama as Russian troops continue to mass on Ukraine border."

USA Today headlined "Ukrainians fear Russian invasion near."

Foreign Policy (FP) magazine is a neocon Washington Post publication. 

It headlined "The Russians Are Coming - 10 very good reasons not to believe Vladimir Putin when he says he's totally not going to invade eastern Ukraine."

Ten lies followed straightaway claiming:

(1) Up to 50,000 Russian troops massed on Ukraine's border; other putschist reports claimed 100,000;

(2) "Putin enjoys embarrassing the United States…;"

(3) "The IMF bailout;" FP portrayed grand theft loan-sharking as responsible lending;

(4) Legitimate Crimean reunification is illegal;

(5) What will Western nations do about threatened Russian invasion;

(6) Russian comments are anti-Western;

(7) "Russia's military and arms trade relies on Ukraine;"

(8) "The Kremlin lies shamefully and farcically;" 

Daily malicious scoundrel media Big Lies are ignored.

(9) Russian "Kombinatsiya" (disinformation) "is very much in evidence now;" and

(10) "Modernizatsiya (modernization)" plans "the largest and most ambitious re-armament and modernization program" of Russia's military since the Soviet Union's dissolution. 

Doing so wrongfully suggests a threat. Russian military spending is minuscule compared to America's bloated defense budget.

Washington Post neocons headlined "Donetsk fearful of Russian military might on Ukraine's border." They ludicrously claimed residents keep their cars "gassed up in case their families need to flee advancing tanks."

Murdoch's The Sunday Times headlined "The Russians are coming. We're ready. As Moscow's forces mass on the eastern border, volunteers are flocking to bolster Ukraine's poorly equipped national guard."

FP's article hyped a nonexistent planned Russian Ukrainian invasion. Other Western scoundrel media echo the same Big Lie. 

It repeats with disturbing regularity. It does so despite no evidence whatever suggesting it. 

Russian expert Dmitry Vostok said "(b)efore casting aspersions upon Russia, (Western leaders) should (consider) their own interventions."

Their collective memories are short. They ignore or mischaracterize numerous imperial interventions. They blame victims for their crimes.

They claim holier than thou reasons for lawless aggression. They threaten more. They justify the unjustifiable. 

They defend the indefensible. They claim ravaging and destroying one nation after another to save them is OK.

They lack moral authority. Their agenda is world domination. They threaten world peace. They risk humanity's survival. 

They turn truth on its head. Big Lies repeat. Media scoundrels echo them. They call self-defense terrorism. They call Putin's all-out conflict resolution initiatives aggression.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is a consummate diplomat. He does his nation proud. 

He endures plenty dealing with Western leaders. He outshines them all. He deserves Nobel Peace Prize recognition. Recipients include a rogue's gallery of war criminals. Obama is Exhibit A.

Lavrov was clear and unequivocal. He said Moscow has no intention of invading Ukraine. Claims otherwise are spurious.

"We have absolutely no intention of and interest in crossing Ukraine's borders," he stressed. 

"The only thing we really want is that the work should be collective and the lawlessness that some Western countries are trying to sweep under the rug and paint the situation in bright colors should be stopped, so that they realize their responsibility."

Russia "had no other choice than to accept Crimea," he added. "We didn't bother reflecting about what the reaction would be." 

"We had no other choice. The choice we eventually made came from our history, international law, Russian statehood and our responsibility for the lives of those ethnic Russians who found themselves stranded abroad in a single day."

Reunification is entirely legal. International law principles affirm everyone's right to self-determination. Crimeans overwhelmingly chose to join Russia.

Moscow was obligated to oblige. Western nations plotted for years to split Ukraine from Russia, said Lavrov.

"It feels as though our Western colleagues…have long been working to 'tear' Ukraine away from Russia." 

"Once they realized they had been wrong and it had been a mistake to act in violation of all post-Soviet agreements, they couldn't own up to it." 

"A false idea of pride stood in their way. And all the sanctions we are seeing now are a knee-jerk reflex that makes them want to find a reasonable way to remedy their hurt feelings."

The same "you are either with us or against us" notion" exists. "We have long since given that up but unfortunately this kind of mentality is still there in the minds of politicians who today define the West's stance," Lavrov added.

He criticized Western nations for bullying 50 countries to vote against Crimean reunification legitimacy.

Threats were made. Nation were told they'd "face consequences." Moscow's UN envoy Vitaly Churkin said:

"Many (nations) complained that they were experiencing enormous pressure from Western powers to make them vote" against reunification legitimacy.

"(T)he pressure produced a certain effect. Some countries voted (the wrong way) grudgingly, shall I say, and complained to us about the strong pressure they had experienced."

Washington and rogue Western partners ousted legitimate Ukrainian governance. They elevated a rogue's gallery of societal misfits to power. 

They're miscreants. They're dangerous. They're fascist extremists. They're illegitimate. They represent mob rule. 

On March 30, RT International headlined "Ukrainian nationalists attack anti-coup motor rally with hammers and bats," saying:

Southeastern Ukrainians "are facing increasingly violent intimidation." Western media suppress what's happening. Putschists are portrayed as democrats. 

Euromaidan thugs attacked cars displaying Russian, regional and Ukrainian flags. They came from Melitopol. They headed for a Zaporozhye anti-government rally last week.

Eye witness Artyom Tymchenko told RT:

"When the motor rally was about to enter Zaporozhye, it became clear that an ambush was being organized by the Maidan criminals."

"Near the railway station the column was stopped by the Maidan bandits, who started beating people, taking their property, smashing cars."

Motorists said Right Sector thugs attacked them.

"The police, who are supposed to sort out the situation, are not going about their job with any enthusiasm, and although the attackers didn't hide their faces, no one has been arrested so far." 

"Which simply leads to the conclusion that they acted under the protection of the criminals currently in power."

Vladimir Balagura heads an anti-putschist initiative called "Our Town."

"It is very scary to witness when people are running at you with weapons, shovels, and batons, with chains, metal rods," he said.

RT said Dnepropetrovsk residents are threatened. "Ukrainian vigilantes" are targeting people they call "pro-Russian thugs."

Right Sector neo-Nazis established their own political party. Their January 2014 manifesto states:

"(A)ll those those who at this point would try to tame the revolutionary energy of the masses should be proclaimed traitors and punished in the most severe way." 

"Death to the regime of internal occupation! Freedom or death! Glory to Ukraine!"

On May 25, sham presidential elections are scheduled. A previous article said aspirants look more like a police lineup. 

Democracy is strictly verboten. Various candidates registered to participate. Others submitted bids. It's unclear how many will stay in the race.

Former heavyweight boxing champion turned politician Vitaly Klitschko dropped out. He'll participate in Kiev's mayoral race instead.

A mid-March poll showed billionaire chocolate magnate Pyotr Poroshenko had 36.2% support. He hasn't officially registered to participate. He's expected to do so.

Klitschko had 12.9% support. He endorsed Poroshenko's candidacy. Convicted/imprisoned/now illegally freed mega-crook Yulia Tymoshenko's approval was 12%.

Ousted Party of Regions' Sergey Tigipko scored 10%. Other candidates have single-digit support or practically none at all.

In early March, Right Sector neo-Nazi leader Dmytro Yarosh announced his candidacy. Russia's Investigative Committee (IC) said he's wanted for involvement in killing Russian soldiers in Chechnya.

If apprehended, he'll be prosecuted. IC representative Vladimir Markin said there's enough evidence against him to put him on a "wanted list."

He openly boasts about "...fighting Jews and Russians till I die."

He calls Russia Ukraine's "eternal enemy." He said war between both countries is inevitable.

He openly supports Chechen militants. He backed Georgia's 2008 aggression against South Ossetia.

Yarosh and likeminded Right Sector extremists are the worst of a bad lot of rogues running Ukraine.

They're gun-toting, radicalized terrorists. Imagine them and likeminded scoundrels holding influential portfolios in Ukraine's government.

They're cold-blooded killers. They believe in barrel-of-a-gun rule. State terrorism defines their agenda. Anyone opposing them is targeted for elimination.

Yarosh has delusions of grandeur. He enjoys too little support to become president. Unless he intends seizing it by force. His extremism suggests anything is possible.

He and other Right Sector leaders have thousands of supporters. They're militants. They're capable of anything. They threaten everyone opposing their agenda.

Their extremism risks civil war. So do Svoboda neo-Nazis. Their leader Oleh Tyahnybok is a presidential aspirant. It remains to be seen what follows May elections.

On Sunday, John Kerry and Sergei Lavrov met in Paris. Crisis conditions in Ukraine was discussed. Nothing was resolved. Washington remains hardline. Ahead of talks Lavrov said:

"We have no common plan yet. We view the situation differently. Right now we are exchanging views, but we cannot say that we have found a single approach to the problem." 

"To find a solution that would suit both of us we need regular consultations."

On March 30, Itar Tass headlined "An Action in support of bank Rossiya to take place in Moscow." 

Russia's national currency will replace dollar transactions. Putin wants an independent payment system. Itar Tass quoted action organizers saying:

"Russia, at its present stage of development, should not be dependent on foreign currencies; its internal resources will make its own economy invulnerable to political wheeler dealers."

"In order to protect the bank's customers from dishonest actions by foreign financial institutions AB Rossiya has decided to operate only in the domestic market and exclusively with the national currency of the Russian Federation - the rouble."

"The bank has already notified some U.S. banks that it is closing its correspondence accounts. Similar notifications have been sent to other foreign financial institutions."

VTB bank president Andrei Kostin said Rossiya's decision to delink from foreign currencies is a step forward to work exclusively with the ruble. 

"We have been moving towards wider use of the Russian rouble as the currency of settlement for a long time. The rouble became fully convertible quite a long time ago," he added.

Kostin urges Russian products sold abroad and foreign good bought transacted solely in rubles.

"Only then are we going to use (its) advantages of…being a foreign currency in full measure," he added.

Sanctions cut both ways. Moscow signaled earlier about responding to Western measures. 

It remains to be seen what follows. East/West tensions remain heightened. Washington bears full responsibility. 

Targeting Russia is longstanding US policy. Doing so risks belligerence replacing diplomacy.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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


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

Rogue State Israeli Policies

Rogue State Israeli Policies

by Stephen Lendman

Israel is no democracy. Right-wing ideologues govern. They're militantly over-the-top. They represent Israel's lunatic fringe.

They abhor peace. They endorse war. They threaten regional security. Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon ordered Israel's military to prepare war plans on Iran.

Nearly $3 billion was allocated. It's around one-firth of Israel's budget. Both officials want Iran's nuclear facilities targeted. They want them eliminated.

Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan warned earlier. Attacking Iran assures blowback. Iran will counterattack. 

Hundreds of missiles will strike Israeli cities and strategic facilities. Dimona and other Israeli nuclear facilities will be targeted.

Regional conflict may escalate beyond what stoppable. The entire region may be embroiled. So will America. 

Attacking Iran is madness. Lunatics don't consider consequences. In March 2012, The New York Times headlined, "US War Game Sees Perils of Israeli Strike Against Iran," saying:

A "classified war simulation held this month" assessed significant repercussions of Israel attacking Iran. Doing so means regional war. America could get embroiled. Hundreds of US casualties would follow.

US Central Command's war game tested communication and coordination between its Tampa, FL headquarters and Persian Gulf forces.

Exercises were held. Then Central Command head General James Mattis was especially troubled. He told aides that "an Israeli first strike would be likely to have dire consequences across the region and for United States forces there."

Attacking Iran's nuclear facilities could affect millions catastrophically. If retaliatory Tehran strikes seriously damage or destroy Dimona and other Israeli nuclear sites, radiation will contaminate large parts of the region.

War games can't predict how nations will respond. Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned earlier that Iran will retaliate if attacked. "(W)e will attack them at the same level as they attack us," he said.

Netanyahu wants ongoing Iranian nuclear attacks subverted. He called last November's Geneva agreement a "historic mistake."

At the time, Saudi Arabia called it "West(ern) treachery." An Israeli/Saudi alliance formed to subvert it. Doing so could serve as pretext for conflict.

Bottom line US/Israeli strategy hasn't changed. Both countries want Iranian governance they control. How achieved is optional. 

Hawks in both countries urge war. Attack plans were readied years ago. They can be implemented straightaway if ordered. 

False flag deception may precipitate it. Duplicity is longstanding US/Israeli tradition. Trustworthiness isn't their long suit. 

Deals they offer aren't worth the paper they're written on. Anti-Iranian sentiment is decades old. Obama and Netanyahu prioritize war. They deplore peace.

Rapprochement with Tehran faces long odds. Israeli and US saber rattling show what Iranians face.

George Clemenceau once said America is the only nation that went "from barbarism to degeneration without the usual interval of civilization." The same applies to Israel.

Threats risk becoming policy. The IDF got direct orders from Netanyahu and Ya'alon. Prepare to strike Iranian nuclear facilities. Ignore ongoing P5+1 talks.

Netanyahu rejects last November's interim nuclear agreement. He's not bound by it, he said. 

"…I believe that letting Iran enrich uranium would open up the floodgates," he said. "That must not happen. And we will make sure it does not happen."

"Letting the worst terrorist regime on the planet get atomic bombs would endanger everyone," he added. 

He repeatedly repeats the Big Lie about Iran openly "call(ing) for our destruction." Claiming it wore thin years ago. It doesn't stop endless regurgitation.

Ya'alon added: "Weakness certainly does not pay in the world.
No one can replace the US as the world's policeman. I hope the US will come to its senses."

"We think that the United States should be the one leading the campaign against Iran."

"But the US has entered talks with them and unfortunately, in the haggling in the Persian bazaar, the Iranians were better." 

"Therefore, on this matter, we have to behave as though we have nobody to look out for us but ourselves."

Iran remains hopeful about achieving a final agreement around mid-year. Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Vienna talks this week made substantial progress.

"Today the other side has finally grasped what we had been trying to say, especially when it comes to the practical needs of having a nuclear program which is logical and peaceful. And this by itself is a major progress."

Discussions about major issues were clarified, he added. They include enrichment, sanctions, international peaceful nuclear cooperation and Iran's Arak reactor.

Dismantling parts of Tehran's nuclear program isn't being considered. "(W)e are not at the stage yet to draft a statement to predict how big the differences still are," Zarif said.

Reports suggest major ones remain. A senior US official called this week's Vienna talks "intense." 

On January 20, multiple rounds began. They're expected to continue until July 20. Final resolution remains elusive.

Iran won't relinquish its nuclear rights. They fully comply with NPT provisions. No military component exists.

Iran is between a rock and a hard place. Eighty-three senators wrote Obama. They laid out "core principles."

They lied claiming "Iran has no inherent right to enrichment under the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty." Tehran calls doing so fundamental. It won't sacrifice its legitimate rights.

Washington wants Fordow enrichment facility and Arak's heavy water reactor abandoned. Iran has no intention of doing either.

President Hassan Rohani said Iran won't relinquish its legal rights. 

"The world has admitted that Iran is, and will be, among the countries which have nuclear technology, including enrichment, and there is no doubt about this for anyone."

He urges equitable resolution. It's long overdue. Whether possible given hardline US/Israeli policy remains to be seen. An unnamed US official in Vienna said:

Talks were serious. They were civil. "Everybody (was) very professional, very focused, no histrionics, no walking out, no yelling and screaming." 

"People understand the stakes are pretty profound; there is a sense of the tremendous responsibility on people's shoulders."

Ukrainian tensions were temporarily ignored. How much longer remains uncertain. 

P5+1 and Iranian nuclear experts will meet in Vienna from April 3 - 5. Negotiators will conduct more talks from from April 7 - 9.

Iran's main goal is "normalizing (its) case similar to every other member state of the NPT," Zarif stressed.

Tehran's fundamental rights won't be sacrificed. Israel wants Iran having none. Washington may add new demands not yet revealed. 

Final resolution remains elusive. Netanyahu plans making it impossible. Key is whether Obama agrees.

A Final Comment

Israeli rogue state policies are multifaceted. Fundamental rule of law principles are systematically violated. Human and civil rights don't matter.

Palestinians have none whatever. Conditions go from bad to worse. Militarized occupation harshness bears full responsibility. 

A new Palestinian Center for Policy and Survey Research (PSR) is disturbing. It discusses "The Likelihood, Consequences and Policy Implications of PA Collapse or Dissolution."

Financial and political pressures may precipitate it. PSR envisions three possible scenarios:

(1) Israel and/or Washington may impose "severe or crippling financial and political sanctions."

(2) PLO leadership may abandon a two-state solution. Achieving it on Israeli terms is impossible. Hundreds of thousands of settlers on stolen Palestinian land alone does so. Rights sought may be sought other ways.

(3) Economic, financial and political crises may be inevitable. Public outrage may follow. Perhaps a third Intifada. Fundamental demands unable to be met may cause PA collapse.

PSR got opinions from 30 experts. Dozens of others were involved. They represent finance, economics, internal security, law enforcement, health, education, communications, judicial affairs, local government, water, electricity, civil and domestic political affairs, as well as whether or not a two-state solution remains feasible. 

For sure not on Israeli terms. PSR director Khalil Shikaki conducted the study. Palestinians require PA help, he said. 

They depend on it for "financial well being, social and political status in society, and there are circles that depend on their relation to PA," he said. 

"Anything that happens to the PA will take all of that away from them. These could be organizations, business interests or individuals who have positions of power that allow them to reward sympathizers."

"If they could call the shots, they would do their best to prevent (the PA's collapse)." 

"But even those who have a vested interest in satisfying Israel, for the sake of preserving the PA, cannot do it for too long."

Palestinians get painfully little help. At the same time, they rely on whatever is forthcoming. It's better than nothing.

"People do not want to see themselves without a central authority that prevents chaos and anarchy in the streets, even if they have a lot of criticism of the PA and its functioning," said Shikaki. 

"But the Palestinians are willing to risk it collapsing completely, if it happens in the midst of a struggle for a change in the status quo." 

"If there is a good reason for it to collapse, then (Palestinians say) let it be."

Public discontent began years ago. Over time, it intensified. PA officials are Israeli enforcers. In over 20 years, they failed. They haven't achieved fundamental goals.

Things are much worse now than then. Economic and financial conditions alone cause horrific harm. Exploitation substitutes for social justice. Political rights don't exist.

PSR's " 'Day After' Final Report" is troubling. PA collapse may be inevitable. At the same time, "(a)ll Palestinians who participated in the discussion shared the view that Israel and the PA have a common interest in keeping the PA functioning," said Shikaki.

"Palestinian society in general understands that the PA is able to exist as long as Israel is happy with it, and as long as Palestinians find it useful to them."

Study participants assumed that "at all levels there will be an attempt to prevent collapse."

At the same time, both sides believe "they can do a lot of harm to the other without risking" it. In other words, Israel will save the day if necessary. 

If PA officials voluntarily decide to dismantle, "Palestinians might seek to force Israel to either deepen its occupation, reverting to the situation that prevailed before 1994, or change its policies by seriously negotiating the end of its occupation, or unilaterally withdraw from most of the West Bank."

Impending collapse "might force Israel to re-examine its options."

Avoiding it requires PA officials abandoning counterproductive policies. They include poor planning, lack of transparency, excessive centralization, conflicting interests, rampant corruption, and benefitting Israel at the expense of their own people.

Hamas would benefit greatly from PA collapse. Israel's likely response would be another matter entirely. 

Palestinians suffered injustice for decades. Nothing ahead suggests achieving their liberating struggle. It continues unresolved.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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


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

Anti-Russian Media Wars

Anti-Russian Media Wars

by Stephen Lendman

Welcome to Cold War 2.0. The first one never ended. Since Soviet Russia's 1991 dissolution, Western policy remained hard-wired in place. 

Putin defends Russian sovereignty. He opposes US imperial lawlessness. Washington considers him public enemy number one. At stake is world peace. 

Russia bashing is intense. It rages daily. It exceeds the worst of Soviet era levels. 

Daily attacks reinvented the Evil Empire. It's back to the future. It doesn't surprise. Media scoundrels march in lockstep with US imperial lawlessness. It's longstanding policy.

Propagandists masquerade as journalists. Managed news misinformation substitutes for truth and full disclosure. Readers and viewers are systematically lied to. Mind manipulation works this way.

Neocons infest Washington. They hugely influence policy. The Liz Wahl affair highlights to what lengths they'll go. More on this below.

Putin and Obama are geopolitical opposites. They're world's apart. A previous article explained.

Putin supports peace and stability. Obama wages one war after another.

Putin affirms UN Charter and other rule of law principles. Obama ignores them. He claims a divine right to pursue unchallenged hegemony. He does it belligerently.

Putin believes nation-state sovereignty is inviolable. Obama wants pro-Western puppet governments replacing independent ones.

Washington wants Boris Yeltsin reinvented. He presided over Russia's lost decade.

He let 80% of Russian farmers go bankrupt. He closed 70,000 state factories. He presided over an unemployment epidemic. 

Half or more of ordinary Russians became impoverished. A permanent underclass was created. Crime, suicides, mortality, alcoholism, drug abuse, and HIV/AIDS soared to intolerable levels.

So-called "shock therapy" (aka force-fed austerity) produced economic genocide. GDP plunged 50%. Life expectancy fell. 

Democratic freedoms died. An oligarch class accumulated enormous wealth. Western interests profited. They did so at the expense of millions of exploited Russians.

Yeltsin let corruption and criminality flourish. One scandal followed others. Grand theft became sport. So did money laundering. Billions in stolen wealth were secreted in Western banks or offshore tax havens.

Former Nezavisimaia Gazeta editor Vitalii Tret'iakov wrote earlier:

"(F)or the greater part of his presidency, Yeltsin slept, drank, was ill, relaxed, didn't show his face before the people and simply did nothing."

"Despised by the majority of (Russians, he'll) go down in history as the first president of Russia, having corrupted (the country) to the breaking point, not by his virtues and or by his defects, but rather by his dullness, primitiveness, and unbridled power lust of a hooligan."

Western governments loved him. So did media scoundrels. They praised his "democratic" change. He presided over free market gangsterism. 

He created appalling human misery. Another generation or more may be needed to recover.

Putin's Russia is back. He's proud and re-assertive. He's not about to roll over for Washington. He's on the right side of history. He defends Russian sovereignty. 

He does so responsibly. He's vilified for doing it. Daily attacks malign him. They're intense. They're vicious. They're merciless. They're unconscionable.

He's called a Russian strongman. Hillary Clinton outrageously compared him to Hitler. She did so disgracefully. Others take full advantage to vilify him.

RT International (formerly Russia Today) provides real news and information. It does so responsibly. 

It airs what viewers most need to know. It's a vital service. It's an antidote to Western media propaganda.

RT America is part of its network. It's based in Washington. It includes New York, Los Angeles and Miami studios.

Former news presenter Liz Wahl became a cause celebre. She disgraced herself. She lost professional credibility. 

She's geopolitically mindless. She swallows Western propaganda irresponsibly.

She sold out. She did so perhaps for benefits derived. She resigned on air. "It actually makes me feel sick that I worked here," she said.

"I cannot be part of a network funded by the Russian government that whitewashes the actions of Putin." 

"I'm proud to be an American and believe in disseminating the truth, and that is why, after this newscast, I'm resigning."

RT responded professionally, saying:

"When a journalist disagrees with the editorial position of his or her organization, the usual course of action is to address those grievances with the editor, and, if they cannot be resolved, to quit like a professional." 

"But when someone makes a big public show of a personal decision, it is nothing more than a self-promotional stunt."

It's that and much more. It's betrayal. It's supporting wrong over right. Wahl got feature air time on US cable channels. 

They embraced her. They took full advantage of her Russia bashing. It's standard scoundrel media practice. 

Official policy mandates misinformation, demagoguery, warmongering and junk food news. What viewers and readers most need to know is suppressed.

Wahl apparently prefers presstitution to real news. Whoring pays well. Maybe she's discussing new employment. RT viewers won't miss her.

The Foreign Policy Initiative (FPI) is the Project for the New American Century's (PNAC) current incarnation. It's neoconservative and then some. It's ideologically over-the-top.

It's militantly pro-war. It deplores peace. It supports US imperial lawlessness. It does so shamelessly.

James Kirchick is an FPI fellow. He's based in Washington. He's a former US-funded Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty propagandist. 

He performs similar services for FPI. He buries truth. He lies for power. He conspired with Liz Wahl. He did so beginning last August. FPI was involved. What happened on-air was carefully orchestrated.

Twenty minutes before Wahl's resignation, FPI twittered: "#WordOnTheStreet says that something big might happen on RT in about 20 - 25 minutes."

"Tune in RT now," it added. "The#WordOnTheStreet says it'll be worth your while." 

At 5.26PM as Wahl quit, FPI twittered: "RT Anchor RESIGNS ON AIR. She 'cannot be part of a network that whitewashes the actions of Putin.' "

FPI tweets before and coincidentally with Wahl's resignation suggests carefully orchestrated complicity.

Around an hour daily, The Daily Beast published Kirchick's article headlined "Exclusive: RT Anchor Liz Wahl Explains Why She Quit," saying:

She "made Vladimir Putin's enemies list.." Her "announcement was stunning." It was pre-planned. It was carefully choreographed. It was straight from FPI's playbook.

Kirchick called her stunt "a very brave thing…Hopefully (she'll) inspire a wave of defections from Putin TV," he added.

On March 19, Max Blumenthal and Rania Khalek headlined their Truthdig article "How Cold War-Hungry Neocons Managed RT Anchor Liz Wahl's Resignation," saying:

Her on-air stunt made her "one of the most famous unemployed people in America." CNN, Fox News and MSNBC took full advantage. They jumped at a chance to interview her.

BuzzFeed is a social news and entertainment web site. It's been sued for plagiarism. It's political views are neoconservative. Credibility isn't its long suit.

Rosie Gray is one of its contributors. On March 13, she headlined "How the Truth Is Made at Russia Today."

It's RT International (or RT.com). Russia Today is its former name. Gray's headline was incorrect. What followed was compromised.

She lied claiming Russia invaded Crimea. No invasion occurred. She regurgitated Western propaganda. She embellished it her own way. She substituted rubbish for accuracy.

She bashed RT irresponsibly. She lied claiming it "produc(es) Russian propaganda." Apparently she's so brainwashed by managed news misinformation, she doesn't recognize legitimate reporting when she hears it.

According to Blumenthal and Khalek, "a cadre of neoconservatives was celebrating a public relations coup."

"Desperate to revive the Cold War, head off further cuts to the defense budget, and restore the legitimacy they lost in the ruins of Iraq, the tight knit group of neoconservative writers and stewards had opened up a new PR front through Wahl's resignation."

Complicit media scoundrels helped. Featuring Wahl played right into neocon strategy. It worked without "neoconservative fingerprints."

Inflammatory reporting escalates East/West tensions. Current RT employees take issue with Wahl.

Blumenthal and Khalek said six former colleagues call her "an apolitical, deeply disgruntled employee seeking an exit strategy from a job where, sources say, she was disciplined for unprofessional behavior and had been demoted." 

One employee said she "always (was) apolitical and without any clear principles. She didn't talk about any politics outside of work."

Another said she rarely objected to RT's news coverage. "We do have editorial meetings in the morning to bring up questions and comments or concerns, an opportunity Liz rarely took," the employee said.

Before joining RT, she interned for Fox News host Sean Hannity. He's ideologically compromised and then some.

Last spring, said Blumenthal and Khalek, "Wahl was suspended for two weeks without pay and then demoted from anchor to correspondent after a series of outbursts in the office." 

"She had become disgruntled about her salary, the sources said, then began complaining that she was receiving insufficient assistance from producers in writing her monologues." 

She " 'wasn’t disgruntled about anything editorially. It was entirely about payment,'  one ex-colleague remarked."

"Wahl expressed her outrage at co-workers, often berating them, according to her former colleagues, and by 'screaming' at management." 

"She was ultimately suspended without pay for her unprofessional behavior, they told us, and demoted from anchor to correspondent until her duties were restored this past January."

Last year, she told a former colleague she was "approached by an unnamed person who wanted her to help undermine RT," said Blumenthal and Khalek.

She took full advantage of Ukraine's crisis. She acted irresponsibly. She's on the wrong side of history.

US cable channels are politically compromised. Propaganda substitutes for real news and information. Perhaps employment awaits Wahl at one of them. Who said betrayal doesn't pay. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com. 

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

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


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

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The Stone that Brings Down Goliath? Richmond and Eminent Domain

In a nearly $13 billion settlement with the US Justice Department in November 2013, JPMorganChase admitted that it, along with every other large US bank, had engaged in mortgage fraud as a routine business practice, sowing the seeds of the mortgage meltdown. JPMorgan and other megabanks have now been caught in over a dozen major frauds, including LIBOR-rigging and bid-rigging; yet no prominent banker has gone to jail. Meanwhile, nearly a quarter of all mortgages nationally remain underwater (meaning the balance owed exceeds the current value of the home), sapping homeowners’ budgets, the housing market and the economy. Since the banks, the courts and the federal government have failed to give adequate relief to homeowners, some cities are taking matters into their own hands.

Gayle McLaughlin, the bold mayor of Richmond, California, has gone where no woman dared go before, threatening to take underwater mortgages by eminent domain from Wall Street banks and renegotiate them on behalf of beleaguered homeowners. A member of the Green Party, which takes no corporate campaign money, she proved her mettle standing up to Chevron, which dominates the Richmond landscape. But the banks have signaled that if Richmond or another city tries the eminent domain gambit, they will rush to court seeking an injunction. Their grounds: an unconstitutional taking of private property and breach of contract.

How to refute those charges? There is a way; but to understand it, you first need to grasp the massive fraud perpetrated on homeowners. It is how you were duped into paying more than your house was worth; why you should not just turn in your keys or short-sell your underwater property away; why you should urge Congress not to legalize the MERS scheme; and why you should insist that your local government help you acquire title to your home at a fair price if the banks won’t. That is exactly what Richmond and other city councils are attempting to do through the tool of eminent domain.

The Securitization Fraud That Collapsed the Housing Market

One settlement after another has now been reached with investors and government agencies for the sale of “faulty mortgage bonds,” including a suit brought by Fannie and Freddie that settled in October 2013 for $5.1 billion. “Faulty” is a euphemism for “fraudulent.” It means that mortgages subject to securitization have “clouded” or “defective” titles. And that means the banks and real estate trusts claiming title as owners or nominees don’t actually have title – or have standing to enjoin the city from proceeding with eminent domain. They can’t claim an unconstitutional taking of property because they can’t prove they own the property, and they can’t claim breach of contract because they weren’t the real parties in interest to the mortgages (the parties putting up the money).

“Securitization” involves bundling mortgages into a pool, selling them to a non-bank vehicle called a “real estate trust,” and then selling “securities” (bonds) to investors (called “mortgage-backed securities” or “collateralized debt obligations”). By 2007, 75% of all mortgage originations were securitized. According to investment banker and financial analyst Christopher Whalen, the purpose of securitization was to allow banks to avoid capitalization requirements, enabling them to borrow at unregulated levels.

Since the real estate trusts were “off-balance sheet,” they did not count in the banks’ capital requirements. But under applicable accounting rules, that was true only if they were “true sales.” According to Whalen, “most of the securitizations done by banks over the past two decades were in fact secured borrowings, not true sales, and thus potential frauds on insured depositories.” He concludes, “bank abuses of non-bank vehicles to pretend to sell assets and thereby lower required capital levels was a major cause of the subprime financial crisis.”

In 1997, the FDIC gave the banks a pass on these disguised borrowings by granting them “safe harbor” status. This proved to be a colossal mistake, which led to the implosion of the housing market and the economy at large. Safe harbor status was finally withdrawn in 2011; but in the meantime, “financings” were disguised as “true sales,” permitting banks to grossly over-borrow and over-leverage. Over-leveraging allowed credit to be pumped up to bubble levels, driving up home prices. When the bubble collapsed, homeowners had to pick up the tab by paying on mortgages that far exceeded the market value of their homes. According to Whalen:

[T]he largest commercial banks became “too big to fail” in large part because they used non-bank vehicles to increase leverage without disclosure or capital backing. . . .

The failure of Lehman Brothers, Bear Stearns and most notably Citigroup all were largely attributable to deliberate acts of securities fraud whereby assets were “sold” to investors via non-bank financial vehicles.  These transactions were styled as “sales” in an effort to meet applicable accounting rules, but were in fact bank frauds that must, by GAAP and law applicable to non-banks since 1997, be reported as secured borrowings.  Under legal tests stretching from 16th Century UK law to the Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act of the 1980s, virtually none of the mortgage backed securities deals of the 2000s met the test of a true sale.

. . . When the crisis hit, it suddenly became clear that the banks’ capital was insufficient.

Today . . . hundreds of billions in claims against banks arising from these purported “sales” of assets remain pending before the courts.

Eminent Domain as a Negotiating Tool

Investors can afford high-powered attorneys to bring investor class actions, but underwater and defaulting homeowners usually cannot; and that is where local government comes in. Eminent domain is a way to bring banks and investors to the bargaining table.

Professor Robert Hockett of Cornell University Law School is the author of the plan to use eminent domain to take underwater loans and write them down for homeowners. He writes on NewYorkFed.org:

[In] the case of privately securitized mortgages, [principal] write-downs are almost impossible to carry out, since loan modifications on the scale necessitated by the housing market crash would require collective action by a multitude of geographically dispersed security holders. The solution . . . Is for state and municipal governments to use their eminent domain powers to buy up and restructure underwater mortgages, thereby sidestepping the need to coordinate action across large numbers of security holders.

The problem is blowback from the banks, but it can be blocked by requiring them to prove title to the properties. Securities are governed by federal law, but real estate law is the domain of the states. Counties have a mandate to maintain clean title records; and legally, clean title requires a chain of “wet” signatures, from A to B to C to D. If the chain is broken, title is clouded. Properties for which title cannot be established escheat (or revert) to the state by law, allowing the government to start fresh with clean title.

New York State law governs most of the trusts involved in securitization. Under it, transfers of mortgages into a trust after the cutoff date specified in the Pooling and Servicing Agreement (PSA) governing the trust are void.

For obscure reasons, the REMICs (Real Estate Mortgage Investment Conduits) claiming to own the properties routinely received them after the closing date specified in the PSAs. The late transfers were done throu gh the fraudulent signatures-after-the-fact called “robo-signing,” which occurred so regularly that they were the basis of a $25 billion settlement between a coalition of state attorneys general and the five biggest mortgage servicers in February 2012. (Why all the robo-signing? Good question. See my earlier article here.)

Until recently, courts have precluded homeowners from raising the late transfers into the trust as a defense to foreclosure, because the homeowners were not parties to the PSAs. But in August 2013, in Glaski v. Bank of America, N.A., 218 Cal. App. 4th 1079 (July 31, 2013), a California appellate court ruled that the question whether the loan ever made it into the asset pool could be raised in determining the proper party to initiate foreclosure. And whether or not the homeowner was a party to the PSA, the city and county have a clear legal interest in seeing that the PSA’s terms were complied with, since the job of the county recorder is to maintain records establishing clean title.

Before the rise of mortgage securitization, any transfer of a note and deed needed to be recorded as a public record, to give notice of ownership and establish a “priority of liens.” With securitization, a private database called MERS (Mortgage Electronic Registration Systems) circumvented this procedure by keeping the deeds as “nominee for the beneficiary,” obscuring the property’s legal owner and avoiding the expense of recording the transfer (usually about $30 each). Estimates are that untraceable property assignments concealed behind MERS may have cost counties nationwide billions of dollars in recording fees. (See my earlier article here.)

Counties thus have not only a fiduciary but a financial interest in establishing clean title to the properties in their jurisdictions. If no one can establish title, the properties escheat and can be claimed free and clear. Eminent domain can be a powerful tool for negotiating loan modifications on underwater mortgages; and if the banks cannot prove title, they have no standing to complain.

The End of “Too Big to Fail”?

Richmond’s city council is only one vote short of the supermajority needed to pursue the eminent domain plan, and it is seeking partners in a Joint Powers Authority that will make the push much stronger. Grassroots efforts to pursue eminent domain are also underway in a number of other cities around the country. If Richmond pulls it off successfully, others will rush to follow.

The result could be costly for some very large banks, but they have brought it on themselves with shady dealings. Christopher Whalen predicts that the FDIC’s withdrawal of “safe harbor” status for the securitization model may herald the end of “too big to fail” for those banks, which will no longer have the power to grossly over-leverage and may have to keep their loans on their books.

Wall Street banks are deemed “too big to fail” only because there is no viable alternative – but there could be. Local governments could form their own publicly-owned banks, on the model of the state-owned Bank of North Dakota. They could then put their revenues, their savings, and their newly-acquired real estate into those public utilities, to be used to generate interest-free credit for the local government (since it would own the bank) and low-cost credit for the local community. For more on this promising option, which has been or is being explored in almost half the state legislatures in the US, see here.

_____________

Ellen Brown is an attorney, president of the Public Banking Institute, and a candidate for California State Treasurer running on a state bank platform. She is the author of twelve books including the best-selling Web of Debt and her latest book, The Public Bank Solution, which explores successful public banking models historically and globally.

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Top Six Reasons to Stop Fighting Wars

arabwomenresistance300

1. War is immoral.

Murder is the one crime that we're taught to excuse if it's done on a large enough scale. Morality demands that we not so excuse it. War is nothing other than murder on a large scale.

Over the centuries and decades, death counts in wars have grown dramatically, shifted heavily onto civilians rather than combatants, and been overtaken by injury counts as even greater numbers have been injured but medicine has allowed them to survive.

Deaths are now due primarily to violence rather than to disease, formerly the biggest killer in wars.

Death and injury counts have also shifted very heavily toward one side in each war, rather than being evenly divided between two parties. Those traumatized, rendered homeless, and otherwise damaged far outnumber the injured and the dead.

The idea of a "good war" or a "just war" sounds obscene when one looks honestly at independent reporting on wars.

When we say that war goes back 10,000 years it’s not clear that we’re talking about a single thing, as opposed to two or more different things going by the same name. Picture a family in Yemen or Pakistan living under a constant buzz produced by a drone overhead. One day their home and everyone in it is shattered by a missile. Were they at war? Where was the battlefield? Where were their weapons? Who declared the war? What was contested in the war? How would it end?

Is it not perhaps the case that we have already ended war and now must end something else as well (a name for it might be: the hunting of humans)?

If we can change our manner of killing foreigners to render it almost unrecognizable, who’s to say we can’t eliminate the practice altogether?

Read more.

 

2. War endangers us.

There are more effective tools than war for protection.

tankWar planning leads to wars.

In arming, many factors must be considered: weapon-related accidents, malicious testing on human beings, theft, sales to allies who become enemies, and the distraction from efforts to reduce the causes of terrorism and war must all be taken into account. So, of course, must the tendency to use weapons once you have them.  And a nation’s stockpiling of weapons for war puts pressure on other nations to do the same. Even a nation that intends to fight only in defense, may understand “defense” to be the ability to retaliate against other nations. This makes it necessary to create the weaponry and strategies for aggressive war. When you put a lot of people to work planning something, when that project is in fact your largest public investment and proudest cause, it can be difficult to keep those people from finding opportunities to execute their plans. Read more.

War making provokes danger.

While the best defense in many sports may be a good offense, an offense in war is not defensive, not when it generates hatred, resentment, and blowback, not when the alternative is no war at all. Through the course of the so-called global war on terrorism, terrorism has been on the rise. This was predictable and predicted. The wars on Iraq and Afghanistan, and the abuses of prisoners during them, became major recruiting tools for anti-U.S. terrorism. In 2006, U.S. intelligence agencies produced a National Intelligence Estimate that reached just that conclusion.  Read More.

War's weapons risk intentional or accidental apocalypse.

We can either eliminate all nuclear weapons or we can watch them proliferate. There's no middle way. We can either have no nuclear weapons states, or we can have many. As long as some states have nuclear weapons others will desire them, and the more that have them the more easily they will spread to others still. If nuclear weapons continue to exist, there will very likely be a nuclear catastrophe, and the more the weapons have proliferated, the sooner it will come. Hundreds of incidents have nearly destroyed our world through accident, confusion, misunderstanding, and extremely irrational machismo. And possessing nuclear weapons does absolutely nothing to keep us safe, so that there is really no trade-off involved in eliminating them. They do not deter terrorist attacks by non-state actors in any way. Nor do they add an iota to a military's ability to deter nations from attacking, given the United States' ability to destroy anything anywhere at any time with non-nuclear weapons. The United States, the Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, France, and China have all lost wars against non-nuclear powers while possessing nukes.

Read more.


3. War threatens our environment.

oiljetsA major motivation behind some wars is the desire to control resources that poison the earth, especially oil and gas.

Oil can be leaked or burned off, as in the Gulf War, but primarily it is put to use in all kinds of machines polluting the earth’s atmosphere, placing us all at risk. Some associate the consumption of oil with the supposed glory and heroism of war, so that renewable energies that do not risk global catastrophe are viewed as cowardly and unpatriotic ways to fuel our machines.

The interplay of war with oil goes beyond that, however. The wars themselves, whether or not fought for oil, consume huge quantities of it. The world’s top consumer of oil, in fact, is the U.S. military. Not only do we fight wars in areas of the globe that happen to be rich in oil; we also burn more oil fighting those wars than we do in any other activity. Author Ted Rall writes:

“The U.S. Department of [War] is the world’s worst polluter, belching, dumping, and spilling more pesticides, defoliants, solvents, petroleum, lead, mercury, and depleted uranium than the five biggest American chemical corporations combined. According to Steve Kretzmann, director of Oil Change International, 60 percent of the world’s carbon dioxide emissions between 2003 and 2007 originated in U.S.-occupied Iraq, due to the enormous amount of oil and gas required to maintain hundreds of thousands of American military forces and private contractors, not to mention the toxins released by fighter jets, drone planes, and the missiles and other ordnance they fire at Iraqis.”

The U.S. military burns through about 340,000 barrels of oil each day. If the Pentagon were a country, it would rank 38th out of 196 in oil consumption.

The environment as we know it will not survive nuclear war. It also may not survive “conventional” war, understood to mean the sorts of wars now waged. Intense damage has already been done by wars and by the research, testing, and production done in preparation for wars.

Wars in recent years have rendered large areas uninhabitable and generated tens of millions of refugees. War “rivals infectious disease as a global cause of morbidity and mortality,” according to Jennifer Leaning of Harvard Medical School.

Perhaps the most deadly weapons left behind by wars are land mines and cluster bombs. Tens of millions of them are estimated to be lying around on the earth, oblivious to any announcements that peace has been declared. Most of their victims are civilians, a large percentage of them children.

The Soviet and U.S. occupations of Afghanistan have destroyed or damaged thousands of villages and sources of water. The Taliban has illegally traded timber to Pakistan, resulting in significant deforestation. U.S. bombs and refugees in need of firewood have added to the damage. Afghanistan’s forests are almost gone. Most of the migratory birds that used to pass through Afghanistan no longer do so. Its air and water have been poisoned with explosives and rocket propellants.

If militaries were made green in terms of their operations, they would lose one of their main reasons for war.  (Nobody can own the sun or the wind.)  And we would still have a long list of ... More reasons to end war.

Read more.

 

4. War erodes our liberties.

policeWe're often told that wars are fought for "freedom." But when a wealthy nation fights a war against a poor (if often resource-rich) nation halfway around the globe, among the goals is not actually to prevent that poor nation from taking over the wealthy one, after which it might restrict people's rights and liberties. The fears used to build support for the wars don't involve such an incredible scenario at all; rather the threat is depicted as one to safety, not liberty.

In close proportion to levels of military spending, liberties are restricted in the name of war -- even while wars may simultaneously be waged in the name of liberty.  We try to resist the erosion of liberties, the warrantless surveillance, the drones in the skies, the lawless imprisonment, the torture, the assassinations, the denial of a lawyer, the denial of access to information on the government, etc.  But these are symptoms.  The disease is war and the preparation for war.

It is the idea of the enemy that allows government secrecy.

The nature of war, as fought between valued and devalued people, facilitates the erosion of liberties in another way, in addition to the fear for safety.  That is, it allows liberties to first be taken away from devalued people.  But the programs developed to accomplish that are later predictably expanded to include valued people as well.

Militarism erodes not just particular rights but the very basis of self-governance. It privatizes public goods, it corrupts public servants, it creates momentum for war by making people's careers dependent on it.

One way in which war erodes public trust and morals is by its predictable generation of public lies.

Also eroded, of course, is the very idea of the rule of law -- replaced with the practice of might-makes-right.

Read more.

 

5. War impoverishes us.

sadDirect Expenses:

War has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war — or what's thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government's discretionary budget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.

Indirect Expenses:

Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twise as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures.

The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked.

War Spending Drains an Economy:

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs -- with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

War Spending Increases Inequality:

Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved.

War Spending Is Unsustainable, As Is Exploitation it Facilitates:

While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained.

Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates' wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.

Read more.

 

6. We need $2 trillion/year for other things.

aidIt would cost about $30 billion per year to end starvation and hunger around the world.  That sounds like a lot of money to you or me.  But if we had $2 trillion it wouldn't.  And we do.

It would cost about $11 billion per year to provide the world with clean water.  Again, that sounds like a lot. Let's round up to $50 billion per year to provide the world with both food and water. Who has that kind of money? We do.

Of course, we in the wealthier parts of the world don't share the money, even among ourselves. Those in need of aid are right here as well as far away.

But imagine if one of the wealthy nations, the United States for example, were to put $500 billion into its own education (meaning "college debt" can begin the process of coming to sound as backward as "human sacrifice"), housing (meaning no more people without homes), infrastructure, and sustainable green energy and agricultural practices.  What if, instead of leading the destruction of the natural environment, this country were catching up and helping to lead in the other direction?

The potential of green energy would suddenly skyrocket with that sort of unimaginable investment, and the same investment again, year after year. But where would the money come from? $500 billion? Well, if $1 trillion fell from the sky on an annual basis, half of it would still be left. After $50 billion to provide the world with food and water, what if another $450 billion went into providing the world with green energy and infrastructure, topsoil preservation, environmental protection, schools, medicine, programs of cultural exchange, and the study of peace and of nonviolent action?

U.S. foreign aid right now is about $23 billion a year.  Taking it up to $100 billion -- never mind $523 billion! -- would have a number of interesting impacts, including the saving of a great many lives and the prevention of a tremendous amount of suffering.  It would also, if one other factor were added, make the nation that did it the most beloved nation on earth.  A recent poll of 65 nations found that the United States is far and away the most feared country, the country considered the largest threat to peace in the world.  Were the United States responsible for providing schools and medicine and solar panels, the idea of anti-American terrorist groups would be as laughable as anti-Switzerland or anti-Canada terrorist groups, but only if one other factor were added -- only if the $1 trillion came from where it really ought to come from.

Some U.S. states are setting up commissions to work on the transition from war to peace insustries.

Read more.

read more

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