Saturday, June 07, 2014

What Is Edward Snowden - Exactly?

Edward Snowden

by William Blum - The Anti-Empire Report #129

Is Edward Snowden a radical? The dictionary defines a radical as “an advocate of political and social revolution”, the adjective form being “favoring or resulting in extreme or revolutionary changes”. That doesn’t sound like Snowden as far as what has been publicly revealed. In common usage, the term “radical” usually connotes someone or something that goes beyond the generally accepted boundaries of socio-political thought and policies; often used by the Left simply to denote more extreme than, or to the left of, a “liberal”.

In his hour-long interview on NBC, May 28, in Moscow, Snowden never expressed, or even implied, any thought – radical or otherwise – about United States foreign policy or the capitalist economic system under which we live, the two standard areas around which many political discussions in the US revolve. In fact, after reading a great deal by and about Snowden this past year, I have no idea what his views actually are about these matters. To be sure, in the context of the NBC interview, capitalism was not at all relevant, but US foreign policy certainly was.

Snowden was not asked any direct questions about foreign policy, but if I had been in his position I could not have replied to several of the questions without bringing it up. More than once the interview touched upon the question of whether the former NSA contractor’s actions had caused “harm to the United States”. Snowden said that he’s been asking the entire past year to be presented with evidence of such harm and has so far received nothing. I, on the other hand, as a radical, would have used the opportunity to educate the world-wide audience about how the American empire is the greatest threat to the world’s peace, prosperity, and environment; that anything to slow down the monster is to be desired; and that throwing a wrench into NSA’s surveillance gears is eminently worthwhile toward this end; thus, “harm” indeed should be the goal, not something to apologize for.

Edward added that the NSA has been unfairly “demonized” and that the agency is composed of “good people”. I don’t know what to make of this.

When the war on terrorism was discussed in the interview, and the question of whether Snowden’s actions had hurt that effort, he failed to take the opportunity to point out the obvious and absolutely essential fact – that US foreign policy, by its very nature, regularly and routinely creates anti-American terrorists.

When asked what he’d say to President Obama if given a private meeting, Snowden had no response at all to make. I, on the other hand, would say to Mr. Obama: “Mr. President, in your time in office you’ve waged war against seven countries – Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and Syria. This makes me wonder something. With all due respect, sir: What is wrong with you?”

A radical – one genuine and committed – would not let such a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity pass by unused. Contrary to what his fierce critics at home may believe, Edward Snowden is not seriously at war with America, its government or its society. Does he have a real understanding, analysis, or criticism of capitalism or US foreign policy? Does he think about what people could be like under a better social system? Is he, I wonder, even anti-imperialist?

And he certainly is not a conspiracy theorist, or at least keeps it well hidden. He was asked about 9-11 and replied:

The 9/11 commission … when they looked at all the classified intelligence from all the different intelligence agencies, they found that we had all of the information we needed … to detect this plot. We actually had records of the phone calls from the United States and out. The CIA knew who these guys were. The problem was not that we weren’t collecting information, it wasn’t that we didn’t have enough dots, it wasn’t that we didn’t have a haystack, it was that we did not understand the haystack that we had.

Whereas I might have pointed out that the Bush administration may have ignored the information because they wanted something bad – perhaps of unknown badness – to happen in order to give them the justification for all manner of foreign and domestic oppression they wished to carry out. And did. (This scenario of course excludes the other common supposition, that it was an “inside job”, in which case collecting information on the perpetrators would not have been relevant.)

The entire segment concerning 9/11 was left out of the television broadcast of the interview, although some part of it was shown later during a discussion. This kind of omission is of course the sort of thing that feeds conspiracy theorists.

All of the above notwithstanding, I must make it clear that I have great admiration for the young Mr. Snowden, for what he did and for how he expresses himself. He may not be a radical, but he is a hero. His moral courage, nerve, composure, and technical genius are magnificent. I’m sure the NBC interview won him great respect and a large number of new supporters. I, in Edward’s place, would be even more hated by Americans than he is, even if I furthered the radicalization of more of them than he has. However, I of course would never have been invited onto mainstream American television for a long interview in prime time. (Not counting my solitary 15 minutes of fame in 2006 courtesy of Osama bin Laden; a gigantic fluke happening.)

Apropos Snowden’s courage and integrity, it appears that something very important has not been emphasized in media reports: In the interview, he took the Russian government to task for a new law requiring bloggers to register – the same government which holds his very fate in their hands.

Who is more exceptional: The United States or Russia?

I was going to write a commentary about President Obama’s speech to the graduating class at the US Military Academy (West Point) on May 28. When he speaks to a military audience the president is usually at his most nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist – wall-to-wall platitudes. But this talk was simply TOO nationalistic, jingoist, militaristic, and American-exceptionalist. (“I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”) To go through it line by line in order to make my usual wise-ass remarks, would have been just too painful. However, if you’re in a masochistic mood and wish to read it, it can be found here.

Instead I offer you part of a commentary from Mr. Jan Oberg, Danish director of the Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in Lund, Sweden:

What is conspicuously lacking in the President’s West Point speech?
  • Any reasonably accurate appraisal of the world and the role of other nations.
  • A sense of humility and respect for allies and other countries in this world.
  • Every element of a grand strategy for America for its foreign and security policy and some kind of vision of what a better world would look like. This speech with all its tired, self-aggrandising rhetoric is a thin cover-up for the fact that there is no such vision or overall strategy.
  • Some little hint of reforms of existing institutions or new thinking about globalisation and global democratic decision-making.
  • Ideas and initiatives – stretched-out hands – to help the world move towards conflict-resolution in crisis areas such as Ukraine, Syria, Libya, China-Japan and Iran. Not a trace of creativity.

Ironically, on May 30 the Wall Street Journal published a long essay by Leon Aron, a Russia scholar at the conservative American Enterprise Institute in Washington. The essay took Russian president Vladimir Putin to task for claiming that Russia is exceptional. The piece was headed:

“Why Putin Says Russia Is Exceptional”

“Such claims have often heralded aggression abroad and harsh crackdowns at home.”

It states:

“To Mr. Putin, in short, Russia was exceptional because it was emphatically not like the modern West – or not, in any event, like his caricature of a corrupt, morally benighted Europe and U.S. This was a bad omen, presaging the foreign policy gambits against Ukraine that now have the whole world guessing about Mr. Putin’s intentions.”

So the Wall Street Journal has no difficulty in ascertaining that a particular world leader sees his country as “exceptional”. And that such a perception can lead that leader or his country to engage in aggression abroad and crackdowns at home. The particular world leader so harshly judged in this manner by the Wall Street Journal is named Vladimir Putin, not Barack Obama. There’s a word for this kind of analysis – It’s called hypocrisy.

“Hypocrisy is anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised.” – Leo Nikolaevich Tolstoi, (1828-1910) Russian writer

Is hypocrisy a moral failing or a failing of the intellect?

The New Cold War is getting to look more and more like the old one, wherein neither side allows the other to get away with any propaganda point. Just compare any American television network to the Russian station broadcast in the United States – RT (formerly Russia Today). The contrast in coverage of the same news events is remarkable, and the stations attack and make fun of each other by name.

Another, even more important, feature to note is that in Cold War I the United States usually had to consider what the Soviet reaction would be to a planned American intervention in the Third World. This often served as a brake to one extent or another on Washington’s imperial adventures. Thus it was that only weeks after the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, the United States bombed and invaded Panama, inflicting thousands of casualties and widespread destruction, for the flimsiest – bordering on the non-existent – of reasons. The hostile Russian reaction to Washington’s clear involvement in the overthrow of the Ukrainian government in February of this year, followed by Washington’s significant irritation and defensiveness toward the Russian reaction, indicates that this Cold War brake may have a chance of returning. And for this we should be grateful.

After the “communist threat” had disappeared and the foreign policy of the United States continued absolutely unchanged, it meant that the Cold War revisionists had been vindicated – the conflict had not been about containing an evil called “communism”; it had been about American expansion, imperialism and capitalism. If the collapse of the Soviet Union did not result in any reduction in the American military budget, but rather was followed by large increases, it meant that the Cold War – from Washington’s perspective – had not been motivated by a fear of the Russians, but purely by ideology.

Lest we forget: Our present leaders can derive inspiration from other great American leaders.

White House tape recordings, April 25, 1972:

President Nixon: How many did we kill in Laos?

National Security Adviser Henry Kissinger: In the Laotian thing, we killed about ten, fifteen [thousand] …

Nixon: See, the attack in the North [Vietnam] that we have in mind … power plants, whatever’s left – POL [petroleum], the docks … And, I still think we ought to take the dikes out now. Will that drown people?

Kissinger: About two hundred thousand people.

Nixon: No, no, no … I’d rather use the nuclear bomb. Have you got that, Henry?

Kissinger: That, I think, would just be too much.

Nixon: The nuclear bomb, does that bother you? … I just want you to think big, Henry, for Christsakes.

May 2, 1972:

Nixon: America is not defeated. We must not lose in Vietnam. … The surgical operation theory is all right, but I want that place bombed to smithereens. If we draw the sword, we’re gonna bomb those bastards all over the place. Let it fly, let it fly.

“Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.” – Michael Ledeen, former Defense Department consultant and holder of the Freedom Chair at the American Enterprise Institute

Help needed from a computer expert

This has been driving me crazy for a very long time. My printer doesn’t print the document I ask it to print, but instead prints something totally unrelated. But what it prints is always something I’ve had some contact with, like an email I received or a document I read online, which I may or may not have saved on my hard drive, mostly not. It’s genuinely weird.

Now, before I print anything, I close all other windows in my word processor (Word Perfect/Windows 7); I go offline; I specify printing only the current page, no multiple page commands. Yet, the printer usually still finds some document online and prints it.

At one point I cleared out all the printer caches, and that helped for a short while, but then the problem came back though the caches were empty.

I spoke to the printer manufacturer, HP, and they said it can’t be the fault of the printer because the printer only prints what the computer tells it to print.

It must be the CIA or NSA. Help!

William Blum, Killing Hope, chapter 50
Jonah Goldberg, “Baghdad Delenda Est, Part Two”, National Review, April 23, 2002

Any part of this report may be disseminated without permission, provided attribution to William Blum as author and a link to this website are given.

← Issue #128

To Spray or Not to Say: Case of the Painted Mural

The Case of the Spray Painted Mural

by Bineshii - Vancouver Media CoOp

In early June, 2014, a home in the East End of Vancouver was raided by the Vancouver Police Department on a warrant listing graffiti paraphernalia as it’s purpose.

The home is inhabited by several Indigenous and settler anarchists who have worked organizing efforts to stop the Kinder Morgan and Enbridge pipelines running from the Tar Sands in Alberta to the coast of British Colombia, and through several Indigenous territories.

This article discusses the raid, some social movement etiquette around public statements and internal debate vs. public infighting, and a bit of context around graffiti as a distinct and pre-existing social movement itself.

The VPD’s raid was part of an investigation that is predicated on one resident’s alleged involvement in acts of graffiti/vandalism. An arrest was made on 6 counts of mischief, all occupants of the house were engaged at gun point by the police, detained briefly and barred from their home for the day. Items of all residents, regardless of their association/non-association with the warrant were taken into custody; including cell phones and computers. All charges were dropped at the end of the day, and the arrestee was released without conditions or a further court appearance. Thus, at this point, while the police have initiated an investigation, there is no connection between members of this household and criminal activity: no charges have even been laid.

Many people with experience in political organizing recognize the raid as a ‘fishing’ operation the police used as a pretext to gain access to private communications in the memories of the cell phones and computers, as an act of aggression and intimidation, and as an opportunity to foment conflict amongst different sectors of the anti-pipeline movement.

It is my understanding that no specific acts of graffiti/vandalism were cited by police nor on the warrant. Any identification towards what graffiti is referred to is speculation based on zero evidence thus far. Although the residents of the home seem to have stated their belief that the investigation, raid, and arrest were in reference to anti-pipeline graffiti that reads, “No Pipelines”. There is no specific location of graffiti identified by the police. Yet, in the public discourse around it, a mural or perhaps two murals, have been identified as particularly irking places the “No Pipelines” tag has occurred. While public statements have been made around this, there is no evidence to direct the graffiti on the mural to the raid on the house. Meanwhile, these public statements directly implicate the residents of the home that was raided, and will likely negatively effect their defence against further legal persecution.

An important note on the “No Pipelines” tag, it appears all over the city of Vancouver, where Kinder Morgan intends on expanding its existing pipeline terminal, transporting significantly more bitumen products from the Tar Sands, and dredging the Burrard inlet and greatly increasing oil shipping traffic. It is clear by the style of writing that this “No Pipelines” tag is somewhat of a graffiti meme, that is picked up and used by many different people.

Whether a person thinks the graffiti on the mural is good or bad … anyone’s personal opinion on the murals has no legal relevance to the home raid that occurred, but when mainstream organizations and people in leadership positions make disparaging remarks directed at a person or people undergoing legal persecution, it does have legal bearing on the ability of already marginalized, grassroots community members’ capacity to defend themselves against a clearly over zealous and violent police force.

The Conflict:

“The mural is an important community landmark, the graffiti is alienating and disrespectful to community values and will turn people away from the anti-pipeline movement.”


“The graffiti on the mural, which shows ‘No Pipelines’ written across a blue seascape of children swimming underwater, is a sharp and meaningful statement on the effects the pipelines will have on Vancouver’s marine environment and the future of our children”

While public discussion is valued by activists, it is important to differentiate between public discussion that increases connectivity and strengthens movements, and public infighting, set up by the state, that divides and weakens social movements. Sloppy, thoughtless, self serving, or malevolent usage of the media can damage social movements for seeming short term gains. But a further ethical, or social conflict is occurring in this issue around the “No Pipelines” tag, a conflict that surfaces when non-legal or non-sanctioned action is taken by some members of a social movement.

An Assumptions of Priority

In these cases, there is usually an assumption that the people on the side of the most mainstream should win by default, because they have the ‘the majority of people’, and those people don’t support those kids of tactics, therefore the people doing the damage should stop, before they alienate, ‘the people who matter’.

Obviously, ‘majority rules’ is a specious argument. But what about, “the people who matter”? Let’s unpack that for a moment: in this case, the matter at hand is graffiti. And the people who do graffiti are villainized and dehumanized in the argument –they have no rhyme or reason except to piss people off. The anti-graffiti argument demands that the graffitists listen to them, understand where they are coming from, and curtail their actions accordingly. Meanwhile, this same group of people will very likely not even consider that the people who do the graffiti, and the people who support the graffiti, have very sound and rational reasons for using graffiti as part of movement building.

Graffiti is a form of communication used by youth, disenfranchised youth, who are alienated and often apathetic to participating in organizing for social change. So these kids really don’t matter. Graffiti is one of the only ways this group of youth has to communicate with themselves, and with the world. They have the internet, but in terms of real world life, graffiti is a vital cultural feature of the urban youth landscape. Graffiti is a physical presence in a society that erases them out of existence. Urban youth are the people who’s future is the future that is at stake if these pipelines go through and the Tar Sands continues and capitalism destroys the entire biosphere in pursuit of endless profits.

This is not hyperbole. This is the reality of the future young people face today: and poor young people are not participating en masse in movements for social and environmental change. Perhaps, one reason for that is that mainstream environmental groups ‘dispose’ of them as assholes, degenerates and criminals. These kids are not Environmental Youth Alliance heritage seed saving bee farming go-getters. Youth roaming the streets at night are at risk of many dangers, and graffiti is one way to engage youth where they are at, in a way that is approachable and validating.

It is my assessment that a young person roaming the city streets is far better off, and contributing a greater benefit to society, by spray painting politicized graffiti rather than getting wasted on drugs and alcohol to avoid having to face a very grim future. These young people matter. And to disparage them because they don’t have any power in society is a grievous ignominy to the people who have the least capacity to effect change, and the most to lose if it doesn’t happen.

Appendix A

Beef Between Graffiti Writers and Legal Muralists

For all you ‘squares’ out there, let me turn you on to a bit of what’s the hizzle shizzle here.

There is a longstanding ‘beef’, or heated conflict, between people who do graffiti, aka graffiti writers or ‘writers’ and legal muralists. As street legend has it, graffiti as we know it today started in the mid-late 1970’s, with young, poor black and latino kids in the massive ghettos of New york. It spread like wild fire and became a widely chagrined public nuisance. Draconian laws were drawn up, double fences with vicious biting dogs erected, paint proof paint invented, areosol can sensing satalites deployed ...

Eventually, some people, who were hip with the jive of the time suggested that maybe this youthful dedication and energy could be harnessed for good instead of evil. They began art programs and programs in schools and youth programs to focus the creative endeavours of these young writers towards the art world (without actually making any systemic changes to the poverty and alienation these kids faced in the first place...). Some writers did veer into the legitimate art world and hung their work in galleries and sold it for lots of money: while art dealers and speculators made even more money. Meanwhile, many writers stayed on the streets and resented the now ‘legal’ graffiti writers as sell outs and betrayers of the graffiti code.

Another strategy to curtail graffiti was to employ artists to paint murals. This strategy, ironically, exploits a prime ethic in the graffiti code: don’t go over other writers’ pieces. Eventually, regular artists, as in non-street tested artists began to be employed to paint ‘anti-graffiti murals’.

So the paradox here, is that city muralists only have jobs painting murals because of the social upheaval graffiti artists caused. Meanwhile, these muralists are betraying the graffiti code itself, by lending their art to the very establishment that represses graffiti, and often lands writers in jail and subject to other legal persecution, including massive surveillance operations (the cost and scope of which would lead many tax paying citizens to wonder “isn’t it cheaper and faster to just paint over the graffiti?”).

While the graffiti movement in Vancouver today is a far, far, far cry from the Bronx in the 1970’s, there is historical, and real, cultural relevance to what is going on with the “No Pipelines” tag and the kids swimming mural. This is called, “an intersection of social movements”. As the kids these day say: "deal with it".

Graffiti is a 45 year old art/anti-art, social movement, and if anyone, ‘as an artist’ is going to speak on this matter, it seems apropos, to have some understanding of this rather long standing and persistent field of communication, some may call one of the longest running artistic movements of the contemporary era.

Who Will You Serve? An Open Letter to West Point's Class of '14

An Open Letter to the Graduates of West Point: Refuting President Obama’s Lies, Omissions and Distortions

by James Petras

On May 2014 President Obama delivered the commencement address to the graduates of United States Military Academy at West Point. Beyond the easy banter and eulogy to past and present war heroes, Obama outlined a vision of past military successes and present policies, based on a profoundly misleading diagnosis of the current global position of the United States.

His presentation is marked by systematic lies about past wars and current military interventions.

The speech’s glaring failure to acknowledge the millions of civilian killed by US military interventions stands out. He glosses over the growth of NSA, the global police state apparatus. He presents a grossly inflated account of the US role in the world economy.

Worst of all he outlines an extremely dangerous policy of confrontation with rising military and economic powers, in particular Russia and China.

Distorting the Past: Defeats and Retreats Converted into Victories

One of the most disturbing aspects of President Obama’s speech is his delusional account of US military engagements over the past decade. Obama’s claim that, “by most measures America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world”, defies belief. After 13 years of war and occupation in Afghanistan, the US has failed to conquer the Taliban and is leaving behind a fragile puppet regime on the verge of collapse. The US was forced to withdraw from Iraq after causing the deaths of hundreds of thousand of civilians, the displacement and wounding of millions and the ignition of a sectarian war, which has propelled a pro-Iranian regime to power in Baghdad. In Libya, the Obama pushed NATO to destroy the entire country in order to overthrow the secular Gadhafi government, thus undermining any possibility of reconciliation among opponents. He has brought bands of Islamist terrorists to power who are profoundly hostile to the United States.

Washington’s effort to broker an accord between Palestine and Israel is a shabby failure, characterized by Obama’s spineless capitulation to Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s goal of grabbing more Palestinian land for new “Jews only” settlements – paid with American tax money. Obama’s craven pandering to the Jewish power configuration in Washington does little to bolster his claim to lead the world’s “greatest power”...

You have heard lectures on the world economy at the Academy: Surely you know that China has displaced the US in major markets throughout Latin America, Asia and Africa. While China is a major economic challenge, it is not an expansionist military power. It does not possess thousands of overseas bases or Special Forces troops operating in seventy-five countries; it does not pursue military alliances and does not invade countries thousands of miles from its borders. Obama’s ‘Pivot to Asia’ is a provocative expansion of US military power off China’s coast contrary to his public claims of “winding down” overseas military operations.

Obama speaks of defending “our core interests” by military force yet he provokes China over a disputed pile of rocks in the South China Sea, undermining the “core interests” of the 500 biggest US corporations which have invested billions of dollars in the most dynamic economy in the world and of the biggest American exporters to our second largest trading partner.

Obama refers to fighting “terrorism” yet his policies have encouraged and promoted terrorism. Washington armed the Islamist terrorists who overthrew the secular Gadhafi government and plunged that country into chaos. Obama backs the Islamist terrorists invading and attempting to overthrow the secular regime Syria. He provides 1.5 billion dollars in military aid to an Egyptian military dictatorship terrorizing its democratic, civilian political opposition, assassinating and imprisoning thousands of dissidents. In February, the US backed the violent overthrow of the elected government in Ukraine and supports the Kiev regime’s bombing of pro-democracy, pro-federation civilian populations in the Southeast, a majority of whom are ethnic Russians. Obama’s “anti-terrorism" rhetoric in nothing but a cover for state terrorism, closing the door on any peaceful resolution of overseas conflicts and spawning scores of violent opposition groups in its wake.

Obama brags about “our success in promoting partnerships in Europe and in the world at large”, yet his bellicose policies toward Russia have created deep rifts between the US and the leading countries of the European Union. With its multi-billion dollar trade agreements with Russia, Germany opposes harsh sanctions and provocations against Moscow, as do Italy, Holland and Belgium.

In Latin America, the US-controlled Organization of American States is a toothless relic amidst growing regional organizations which exclude the US. Where are Washington’s “partners” in its hostile campaign to overthrow the government in Venezuela and blockade Cuba? Washington’s efforts to forge an Asian economic bloc, excluding China, has run aground against the deep and comprehensive ties linking South Korea, Taiwan and Southeast Asia to China.

Wherever you look, Washington’s closest ‘allies’ are the least dynamic and most repressive: Israel, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the Gulf states in the Middle East; Egypt, Morocco and Algeria in North Africa; Colombia in Latin America; the Philippines in Asia; and motley groups of sub-Sahara despots and Kleptocrats squirreling away billions of dollars into New York and London bank accounts while starving their countries’ budgets on health and education.

Obama’s diagnosis regarding the position of the US in the world is fundamentally flawed: He ignores the military losses from unwinnable overseas adventures and understates the decline in US economic power. The growing divisions among former regional allies have no place in his speech. Above all, he refuses to acknowledge the profound disenchantment among most Americans with Washington’s foreign military and trade policies. The flawed diagnosis, the deliberate distortions of current global realities and the deep misreading of domestic public opinion, cannot be overcome by new deceptions. Bigger lies and more extensive foreign military interventions mean that newly commissioned officers will serve as cannon fodder for policies deeply unpopular with our people.

Obama: Political Desperado in Search of an Imperial Legacy

Obama has marked a new phase in his escalation of a military-centered foreign policy. He is presently engaged in a major build-up of air and ground troops and provocative military exercises in the Baltic States and Poland…all of which are directed at Russia, raising the specter of a ‘First Strike’ strategy against a major nuclear power which poses no threat to our nation.

President Barack Obama, deeply unpopular at home, is propelled by a mania for global military escalation. He is expanding naval forces off China’s coast. He has dispatched hundreds of Special Forces to Jordan to train and arm Islamist and al Qaeda mercenaries invading Syria. He promotes Kiev’s brutal crackdown on civilian protesters in the Eastern Ukraine by increasing US military aid and training. He has dispatched hundreds of US forces throughout Africa. He has just allocated $1 billion for military expansion along the European frontiers with Russia and another $5 billion to boost the capacity of despotic regimes to repress popular insurgencies under the pretext of “fighting terrorism”.

Obama’s ‘vision’ of US foreign policy is clearly and unmistakably colored by his readiness to pursue highly dangerous military adventures. His tactic of launching Special Forces’ operations in all corners of the world, his increasing use of mercenaries and proxies is a throw-back to 19th century colonialism. Sending client regime troops from one oppressed country to conquer and pillage another marks a regression to brutal old-style empire building.

No one is deceived when Obama declares that “American leadership is indispensable for world order”. His Washington-centered new world order is unraveling. Disorder and misery are the consequence of relying on naked military intervention to delay the inevitable – the decline of a uni-polar world is a fact.

The Obama Administration’s involvement in the violent coup in the Kiev is a case in point: As a consequence of placing an oligarch, the so-called ‘Chocolate Billionaire’ to head a junta infested with neo-fascists, Ukraine is falling apart, cities in the east are being bombed and the economy is in free-fall. A massive humanitarian disaster threatens the stability of Europe if hundreds of thousands of people are displaced by the brutality of civil war in Ukraine.

Obama’s unopposed air war against Libya utterly destroyed that nation and has created a Hobbesian world where bloody warlords fight brutal jihadists over shrinking oil sales. In Syria, US-sponsored ‘rebels’ have devastated the economy and the social fabric of a complex secular society. Al Qaeda-linked terrorists have recently kidnapped hundreds of secular high school students heading for their final exams in Aleppo in order to prevent any recovery and reconciliation in that brutalized nation.

No major country in South America follows US ‘leadership’ on Cuba and Venezuela. Even in the United States, outside of a few enclaves of fanatics in Florida, very few American citizens back Obama’s hostile policies to Cuba and Venezuela.

Obama’s duplicity, of talking peace while preparing wars, has been exposed. And now this same president is preparing to commit you, newly commissioned officers of the US Army, to overseas military adventures against the interests and wishes of the majority of your fellow Americans.

Obama will send you to war zones where you will face popular insurgencies, supported by masses of working people. While propping up corrupt oligarchs and defending foreign capital, you will be despised by the local populations.

You will be ordered to ‘defend’ an Administration which has pillaged our national Treasury to bail out the 15 biggest banks in the world, banks which paid $78 billion dollars in fines, between 2012 – 2013, for fraud and swindles while their CEO’s received obscene bonuses, wealth and immunity .

You will be told to sacrifice your lives and limbs fighting wars for the State of Israel in the Middle East – an Israel which bombed the USS Liberty (among other incidents) - killing and maiming hundreds of American service people with impunity.

You will be sent to command bases in Poland and to direct missiles at Russia.

You will be sent to the Ukraine to train neo-Nazis in the ‘National’ Guard to kill their own compatriots.

You will be expected to subvert the loyalties of military officers in Latin American, hoping to provoke military coups and convert independent progressive governments into neo-liberal puppet states – ripe for pillage and mayhem. Obama’s plans for you do not resonate with your ideals and hopes for a prosperous America dedicated to democracy, freedom and peaceful development at home.

You face the choice of serving a political desperado, contemptuous of our Constitution and intent on launching unjust wars at the behest of billionaire swindlers and armchair militarists in Washington, or refusing to participate as muscle-men for bloody empire and joining the majority of the American people who believe that America’s ‘leadership’ should be directed at redistributing the wealth and power of an unelected oligarchy which currently runs this country.

Who will you choose to serve?

Playing Chicken with the Dragon and the Bear: Obama All In for World War or Unopposed Dominion

Provoking World War III: Antagonizing the Dragon and Bear

by Andre Vltchek - Dissident Voice

It is not prudent and it is not safe to stick an iron rod into a dragon’s mouth. Whatever they say in the West about dragons… but here in Asia, the dragon is revered as the greatest fabled creature on Earth and in the sky. The dragon is wise and patient, and it hardly ever uses force first. But if treated with disrespect and aggression, it is capable of retaliating in a deadly, determined and powerful way.

It is also thoroughly idiotic to go and start terrorizing a sleeping bear. It is obvious what would follow if one descended into a bear’s den and then started poking a hibernating creature in the head. Nothing good would follow, nothing good at all.

But it appears that those who are ruling the Empire are not obsessed with prudence. They seem to be tired of tiny conflicts, which they are continuously stirring all over the globe. Libya is not enough and Congo is not enough. They need something big, really big; even much bigger than what they had already ‘achieved’ a few decades ago – like the destruction of the entire Indochina or Indonesia.

The Empire needs a mortal fight with mighty opponents.

Instead of helping to build a decent and peaceful world, it needs to cover our planet with innumerable corpses.

This time, if it will be allowed to do it, like it was some 70 years ago, tens of millions, and maybe many more, will vanish.

Once again, it would have to be a dragon and a bear, this time in unison, facing fascism and fighting for the survival of the world.


The anti-Chinese and anti-Russian propaganda howl is reaching a deafening crescendo, especially in Asia. Western media outlets are in the highest gear, spreading propaganda through both their own outlets and through their local media affiliates in the client states, mostly owned by big business.

China and Russia are now vilified, openly insulted, and blamed for the escalation of tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, and for the military build up. The entire mighty Western propaganda machine is now at work, demonizing China, Russia and other independent countries.

It is because the West is obviously pushing this planet towards the war. Not to see it would require truly great discipline.

Politicians are parading, one after another, in front of television cameras, pledging allegiance to capitalism, the Western-style regime or simply put, to the Empire. All those derogatory and inflammatory speeches against their ‘enemies’ are embarrassing, see-through, but nobody in North America and Europe is laughing, as they are becoming the norm.

Many are warning that this can lead to a world war, that the West has lost all restraint and is ready to bathe the planet in blood, once again. A quarter of century ago it appeared that with the destruction of the Eastern block and with China then increasingly on a capitalist course, the West had finally got what it had fought for centuries for – the total and absolute control of the planet.

But recently, something went ‘wrong’ for the West. Latin America rose and most of it gained freedom, then spat on the Monroe Doctrine. China began pushing for socialist reforms in medical care, education, culture and many other spheres. And Russia refused to get bullied and humiliated, reminding both Europe and North America that it is as always powerful and will not be stepped on as happened in the era of Gorbachev and Yeltsin.

North Korea and Iran (countries that have never attacked anyone in modern history) realized that the only way to survive and not to be reduced to dust is by having their own nuclear capacity.

And all these nations: several in Latin America, China, Russia, Iran, joined forces and decided: “Never again!” Never again will they allow the world to descend to the horrors of Western colonialism.

The wet Western dream of unopposed rule over the world is beginning to disappear into thin air. Is the West going to risk the destruction of our planet simply because it cannot own it?


“Stephen Harper attacks Vladimir Putin and ‘evil’ communism”, reported the Canadian news outlet, CBC News on 31 May 2014, in reference to the “lengthy keynote speech” at a fundraising event that the right-wing Canadian PM gave in Toronto. The speech was spiced with “language reminiscent of the height of the Cold War”.

Grotesquely, the President of the most aggressive country on Earth, the United States, Barrack Obama, was promising to ‘curb the aggression’ of Russia and China, two countries that have not invaded anywhere in the last few decades.

In a speech clearly aimed at provoking China, the US Defense secretary Chuck Hagel, spoke more like a thug than a politician: “The United States will not look the other way when fundamental principles of the international order are being challenged.”

‘Which order?’ Some would ask. Was he talking about the order that is being imposed on the world from Washington and European capitals and has been for centuries, at the cost of hundreds of millions of human lives? Quite an order!

Christopher Black, a leading international criminal lawyer based in Toronto, provided an analysis for this report:

The speech made by President Obama at West Point, the American military academy, that the fulcrum of American policy will be to curb the “aggression” of Russia and China immediately followed by his Defense Secretary Hagel in Singapore accusing China of destabilization in the South China Sea, rightly characterized by Lt. General Wang GuanZhong as “threats and intimidation”, express the clear intent of the United States to wage war in all its aspects against the two most powerful nations that dare to develop independently of American domination.

The United States has attacked China several times since World War II, first in the Korean War, followed by decades of attempted sabotage and isolation and then by the NATO bombing of the Chinese Embassy in Belgrade in 1999. It now has continued that pressure by trying to destabilize China internally through various mechanisms of infiltration of “human rights” groups into Chinese society and within China’s military and administrative mechanisms and a constant propaganda campaign to defame China and its people around the world. The momentum of this strategy has been stepped up with the recent attacks by fanatical Muslim groups from western China against Chinese civilians in key cities and transportation hubs and use of provocateurs to attacks Chinese interests in Vietnam, Thailand, the Philippines and Africa and the recent absurd charges against Chinese military officers for cyber attacks.

The recent events in Ukraine show that the pace of this aggression is accelerating as America attempts to complete the encirclement of Russia and China by advancing NATO to Russia’s borders and by repositioning of 60 per cent of US military assets to the Pacific.

But now the true aggressors are blaming the victims for ‘aggression’. And it is nothing new under the sun. Nazi Germany and its propagandists employed the same ‘logic’ and arguments, before and during WWII. And the French used it in Algiers and their other colonies, as did the Brits all over their ‘dependencies’.


In Asia, on a local level, the servile press in countries like the Philippines is taking orders and often surpasses its handlers in the West by its zeal.

On May 25 2014, The Philippine Star began with lashing out at China, continued by quoting the words of Admiral William Locklear III, the commander of US Pacific forces, that “Russia has its own ‘pivot’ in Asia”. Then the newspaper finally produced a few pieces of ‘brilliant’ analyses: “Official sources said Russia’s incursion into Ukraine has raised concern in Washington that China may try something similar in staking its territorial claims, in the guise of protecting its citizens overseas.”

‘Russian incursion into Ukraine?’ That sounds more like propaganda shouting from the pages of the North American or European daily press. In some 15 years of work in the region, after interacting with hundreds of media people from all over Southeast Asia, I have to testify that such a thought as quoted above, could never have come from a local journalist. Here, knowledge about Eastern Europe is very near absolute zero. And after being brainwashed in London, New York and elsewhere, local journalists do not compare. Someone else wrote it. Who did it? We all know it. It is the same source, which sends trolls biting at all my reports written for RT.

Most of the local Philippine press generally concluded that the US has basically no choice but to expand militarily, because of ‘China’s aggressive moves.’ Almost all the newspapers mentioned the high cost of the permanent US military bases in the region, also arguing that ‘spokes’, bases belonging to local countries but wide open for use by US forces, are the real way forward. Such bases would also be located on Australian and Japanese territories, and possibly in Singapore and Thailand, as well as Malaysia.

Now Thailand is certainly ‘secured’, after the army that has been killing millions in the region on behalf of the West, overthrew the progressive and elected government, and took control of the country. The coup is truly timely, isn’t it?

As if it would not already be enough to have countless bases in Africa, the Middle East, Japan, Oceania and those few client states that are still left in Latin America. But of course, those are too far from the main targets – China and Russia.

The mainstream Philippine media is not even bothering to question the integrity of such a military agreement, which is in direct violation of the nation’s Constitution. It is because the journalists in Southeast Asia are not paid and flown for training abroad, to moralize. They are paid to write what suits the elites and their foreign handlers.

Eduardo Tadem, Professor of Asian Studies at the University of Philippines, explained, during our recent conversation in Manila:

The recently signed agreement between the Philippines and the United States is called EDCA (Economic Defense Cooperation Agreement). In this agreement the Philippine government offered virtually all the military bases in the Philippines for total access to American soldiers, for a ten-year period. But who knows for how long, really… This is very dangerous, because all military installations of the country are now open for ‘entry’ of the US forces. And this certainly goes against the Philippine Constitution, which bars the establishment of foreign bases on our territory.

Then what really happened? Why the sudden change?

It has to do with certain factors. One, of course, is the factor of the so-called ‘US pivot’ to Asia. Under Obama there is this strategy of ‘pivoting to Asia’. Second has to do with the so-called Trans-Pacific partnership proposal of the United States; to build some sort of integrated market in the Asia Pacific region. Except that the Philippines is not part of it for now… The third one has to do with the territorial disputes that are taking place in this region, both in the South China Sea and the North China Sea.


It is mainly an issue of nationalism. And it is also because here they were always asking for more assistance, including military assistance. And this is the way to get that assistance. Also remember that Philippine Presidents were consistently supportive of the US. You probably saw the survey that shows that the Philippine people love the United States more than Americans love themselves. So for the Americans it is easy to get support for their China policy here.

I asked both Teresa Tadem, Professor of Political Science at the University of Philippines, and Professor Eduard Tadem, how was it possible that a country, the Philippines, that suffered so severely during its occupation by the United States, during the colonial era, when there were human rights violations, massacres… How come it feels so positive towards its former brutal colonizer?

It has to do with the extremely intensive American propaganda machine, which depicted the colonial era as a benevolent type of colonialism. Atrocities during the Philippine-American War at 1898–1901, which saw 1 million Philippine people killed, which was then almost one tenth of the population, were made to disappear from the consciousness of the people… the genocide, torture… The Philippines was known as the ‘first Vietnam’… all of this has been conveniently forgotten, hidden in the history books. And then of course the image of Hollywood that we are bombarded with…

How dangerous is it to antagonize China and even Russia? For centuries, China had been a very peaceful country, and it still is to this day. Many Filipinos come from China; it is a natural, historical ally… While the West is liquidating, and bombing entire countries into the ground, overthrowing governments, China pulls one oil-rig into disputed waters, sprays a few boats with water cannon, and it is immediately defined as the aggressor.

“It is again all about propaganda. They depicted China as Communist and here they always attach a negative connotation to that word”, said Professor Teresa Tadem.

For me the most dangerous country on Earth now is the United States”, continues Eduardo Tadem. “It has been the most aggressive… intervening in many countries all over the world, thousands of miles from its shores, trying to impose on the planet its vision of a global capitalist system. So, if you compare what China is doing in the vicinity of its territory, and compare it to what the US is doing in all parts of the world, on every continent… then you clearly see the disparity in the image that has been created, depicting China as a danger to peace in the world.

Both professors then expressed deep concern over the fact that the Western propaganda is igniting Sino-phobia in the Filipinos and in other Asians. They pointed out that what the US is doing is actually fanning ultra-nationalism, which can easily mutate into fascism. This is, according to them, an extremely dangerous situation – planting seeds of Sino-phobia all over the continent.

“This can lead to a point of no return”, explains Eduardo Tadem. “I am afraid that this is what is happening now in the Philippines, as well as in other parts of Asia where territorial disputes are taking place.”

And it is clearly not only Sino-phobia that can lead to the destruction of the world, although Sino-phobia is partially, definitely is. Stirring hatred against Russia is also clearly on the menu of the Western masters of propaganda. Stephen Harper of Canada, Polish and Baltic politicians and their irrational anti-Russian speeches, is all leading to a frightening outcome: manufacturing racism against those nations that are standing in the way of US and European domination of the world.

Dehumanizing a potential enemy, unleashing racist and derogatory sentiments against him or her, is the first step in the Western ‘art’ of war, the first step towards a confrontation.

One should seriously question what is being planned? One should demand to know, because what is being planned is most likely really awful.


People are beginning to speak up. Geoffrey Gunn, a prominent Australian historian and Professor Emeritus at Nagasaki University in Japan, wrote to me, for this report:

The international media big notes the “China threat,” yet who is the provocateur? We observe the Japanese Prime Minister in Singapore (May 30) offering to lead an international coalition to check Chinese aggression offering ‘quality’ Japanese naval vessels to obliging clients as with the Philippines and Vietnam. This is madness coming from a nation without official contrition seeking as well to unpick its god-save, the “peace constitution.” Meantime, the neo-con government in Australia overreaches with matching rhetoric, together snaring the US Defense Secretary to offer his own “pivot” to the South China Sea. My spin is to let Asian nationalisms (China, Vietnam, Japan, Korea) resolve their own problems diplomatically – after all the central kingdom has been in place for several millennium – outsiders keep out, militarists watch your step, and China rise peacefully.

From Vietnam, saddened by the new wave of hostilities between two Communist neighbors, Vietnam and China, a renowned Western artist who did not want to be identified, explained the situation:

I have no doubt the West is delighted at the turn of events and will do all it can to further exacerbate the China-Vietnam etc. rift. Of course it serves the pivot to Asia and other nasty US-NATO agendas. But the Vietnamese are just angry at bully China and one can’t argue with them about it. The Vietnam’s PM has been sending text messages to the entire mobile network warning people not to listen to “bad guys” and to only protest within local and international law…

It is striking how emboldened and self-assured Vietnam is becoming, lately, considering that it is actually doing an identical thing as China is – drilling in the disputed area.

Many see tensions between Vietnam and China as dating back to the Chinese punitive expedition to Vietnam (after Vietnam entered Cambodia and deposed the Khmer Rouge), known as the Sino-Vietnamese War of 1979. And it is almost bizarre to observe how unforgiving Vietnam is towards China, but how reconciliatory it has become towards the United States.

During the Sino-Vietnamese War some 10,000 Vietnamese civilians lost their lives – definitely not an insignificant number. But how could it even be compared to the millions of Vietnamese civilians who died in the “American War” (or the “Vietnam War” as it is known in the West). During the American War, entire cities were leveled into the ground, fields poisoned, women raped and people burned by napalm and other chemicals.

But, as in case of the Philippines, the creeping Western propaganda erased many of the horrors from people’s minds.

I spent 3 years in Hanoi. Holding US citizenship, I was treated with respect and never insulted. In a stark contrast, now Chinese businesses are being attacked and going up in flames, while Chinese people (from Mainland China, but also from Taiwan and elsewhere), are being chased, beaten, and even killed.

In the meantime, RT reported:

Visiting Washington, General Fang Fenghui also blamed the Obama administration’s “pivot” to Asia as a reason for heightened tensions in the region. He said some Asian nations have used the strategic shift to create mischief in the South and East China Seas. 


Are we being dragged into the final global confrontation, to a possible WWIII? Observed from Asia Pacific or from Ukraine, it clearly appears so.

Christopher Black has no doubts that provoking, antagonizing and insulting powerful independent countries like Russia and China may be the next step towards the destruction of our human race:

All these actions are preparations for war. In fact, the positioning of American anti-ballistic missile batteries in Eastern Europe is in preparation for a nuclear first strike on Russia. Those batteries are deployed solely for the purpose of trying to intercept a retaliatory strike by Russian nuclear forces after a US first strike. They have no other purpose. These preparations for a war of aggression, in fact nuclear war, are a clear violation of the UN Charter and all international laws and can rightly be characterized as war crimes. But since the United States has contempt for all international laws and civilized standards of behavior we can expect these preparations to continue.

Mankind rests on the brink of annihilation for no other reason than the American pursuit of unlimited profit. They are the extremists of the capitalist system. We must hope that the skillful diplomacy we have seen employed by both Russia and China, the increased pace of their bilateral cooperation with each other and their increased steps to achieve multilateral cooperation throughout the world from Latin American to Africa and Europe and Asia will change the power dynamics of the world sufficiently to prevent the Americans and their allies from achieving their aims so that the peoples of the world can live in peace and devote their energies to solving mankind’s pressing problems.

André Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker, and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His critically acclaimed political revolutionary novel Point of No Return is now re-edited and available. Oceania is his book on Western imperialism in South Pacific. His provocative book about post-Suharto Indonesia and market-fundamentalism is called Indonesia: The Archipelago of Fear. He just completed a feature documentary Rwanda Gambit about Rwandan history and the plunder of DR Congo. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and Africa. He can be reached through his website. Read other articles by Andre.

Friday, June 06, 2014

Obama Admin's Climate Plan Springs a (Methane) Leak

Obama's Climate Plan Is Leaking Methane

by Nicholas Cunningham -

The Environmental Protection Agency’s new regulations aimed at reducing carbon emissions by 30 percent will no doubt lead to a cleaner economy. But the road there will be paved with methane.

By requiring reductions in the energy intensity per megawatt-hour of electricity generation, utilities will have the ability to choose from an array of options for how to meet the targets.

Energy efficiency will likely be the first choice. Renewable energy will certainly play a big part, as well.

But one of the major ways utilities will comply with EPA rules is by fuel switching from coal to natural gas. By the EPA’s own estimate, coal generation will decline by 20 percent to 22 percent by 2020. That will create an opening for natural gas, which could rise by up to 45 percent, jumping from 22 billion cubic feet per day to 32 bcf/d.

The Obama administration has bet its climate legacy on this trend, which was already underway before the EPA regulations. This is why the administration chose 2005 as a baseline, when emissions were near a peak. 2005 predated the shale gas revolution, which led to significant reductions in carbon dioxide emissions as cheap natural gas displaced coal. By 2013, the U.S. had already achieved about a 10 percent reduction in emissions since 2005 – meaning we are already well on our way to the 2030 goal.

Since natural gas burns much cleaner than coal, producing about half as much carbon dioxide, making the switch from coal to gas can go a long way to achieving the rest of the remaining reductions, the administration seems to be thinking.

The big problem is that we don’t know what’s happening with methane emissions. Natural gas, which is essentially methane (CH4), may burn cleaner than coal, but what happens when it isn’t burned? As a greenhouse gas, methane emitted into the atmosphere is more than 20 times as potent as carbon dioxide over a 100-year period.

Natural gas production leaks methane along its entire supply chain – from drilling to storing, processing to distributing. The EPA estimates that methane emissions have actually declined over the past 20 years as technology has improved. And this needs to be true for the EPA’s assumptions to work out with its climate plan.

The problem is that many scientists dispute those claims. Robert Howarth of Cornell University believes that methane leakage could be much higher than the government says, which would mean pushing utilities to switch from coal to natural gas may not be constructive. He has conducted studies that conclude methane leakage far exceeds EPA estimates. “Converting to natural gas plants, which is what this latest rule is likely to do, will actually aggravate climate change, not make things better,” Howarth told Bloomberg News. “It’s well enough established to suggest the EPA is on the wrong side of the science.”

The natural gas industry has aggressively pushed back against Howarth’s findings, pointing to other studies that show lower methane leakage. But the problem is that the science just isn’t all there yet – we don’t know exactly how much methane is leaking. Nevertheless, the Obama administration is ploughing forward.

In its regulatory analysis for the new carbon rule, the EPA recognized the methane problem, but has punted on the issue for now. “The EPA is aware that other GHGs such as nitrous oxide (N2O) (and to a lesser extent, methane [CH4]) may be emitted from fossil-fuel-fired EGUs…The EPA is not proposing separate N2O or CH4 guidelines or an equivalent CO2 emission limit because of a lack of available data for these affected sources,” the report said.

Natural gas may still have a climate benefit over coal. And even if it doesn’t right now, methane leakage could turn out to be a very fixable problem, as engineers figure out how to plug the leaks in the supply chain. But for now, President Barack Obama’s climate plan hinges on this uncertainty.

Related Article: As EPA Launches War On Emissions, U.S. Plays Catch Up With Europe On Renewables

Thursday, June 05, 2014

Vancouver PD Para-Squad Does Guns-Drawn Raid on Suspected Green Graffiti Perps

Police raid house in East Vancouver, with guns drawn, on pretext of anti-pipeline graffiti

by Zig Zag - Warrior Publications

June 3, 2014

At around 9AM on June 3, 2014, approximately 16 cops from the Vancouver Police Department raided a house in East Vancouver under the pretext of investigating six mischief charges related to graffiti tags dating from June, July, and October of 2013.

The four residents of the house, and one guest, were removed one by one by police aiming pistols at them. One person inside the house looked out their bedroom window and saw a cop pointing his pistol at him.

The house targeted by the raid is comprised of radicals involved in Indigenous resistance as well as anarchist projects in the city (including myself, the editor of the Warrior Publications wordpress site).

Once removed from the house, the five people were placed in a prisoner transport van parked out front while a K9 team entered the house to search for any remaining people. After the K9 team searched the house, a forensic identification unit with a video camera appeared. They first filmed the exterior of the house and the yard, then entered the house itself. After filming the interior, they then used a camera to take photos.

At around 11AM, all but one of the five persons detained were released. The last person held was told he would be charged with 6 counts of mischief under $5000 and taken away in the prisoner transport van. Those released were told to leave the area and that police would contact them once the search was over.

The individual arrested was taken to the downtown Vancouver jail where cops from the Integrated Graffiti Task Force attempted to interrogate him. They mentioned spray painted tags and anti-pipeline graffiti. At around 3:30PM he was released without charges, although told that the investigation was ongoing and that charges could still be laid.

At around 6PM, police informed the residents that the search had been completed. At this time, the warrant for the search was found in the kitchen, naming the target of the raid as well as a list of items referred to as “graffiti vandalism paraphernalia.” This included paint, spray paint, markers, paint markers, latex or rubber gloves, painter’s masks, glass etching kits, books with graffiti images, notepads or paper with images or graffiti, any computer electronic storage devices such as USB’s or external hard drives, camera, film or any digital storage cards, photographs, pictures (such as canvas), video tapes or DVD that may contain graffiti, cell phones with the ability to take photographs or video, a particular coloured baseball cap, black knapsack and black hoody, dark jeans, plus “forensic examination and recovery of data to determine ownership and use, including… contact lists, text messages, emails, call logs, video and photos from any computers, cell phones or electronic storage devices.”

The main items taken during the raid were laptop computers, USBs, and cell phones. A collection of political zines and some banners were also taken, along with a video camera and a black hoodie.

The primary warrant was dated June 2, 2014, and sworn by Detective Derek Wong of the Vancouver police based at 2120 Cambie Street. The time for the execution of the warrant is stated as being from 6AM to 9PM. The warrant is signed by EE Bowes.

There is also a secondary warrant which is dated June 3, 2014, sworn by Ram Greoriou who is identified as a Vancouver police officer. This warrant has a time of 3-5PM listed and is also signed by EE Bowes.

Considering the minor nature of the charges, the raid carried out by the Vancouver police is clearly part of a larger strategy of politically motivated repression against radicals and especially the growing resistance against oil and gas pipelines throughout the province.

As a tactic, the raid enables police to seize items such as computers, extract information from them, disrupt communications, and very possibly emplace spyware prior to their return. The raid and its subsequent occupation of the space by the cops provides them with the opportunity to take a snapshot of their target’s lives, and to possibly put in place listening devices. As a part of a strategy of repression, the raid is an attempt to intimidate and silence those involved in resistance movements.

A New Whistleblower Organization Launches on Snowden Anniversary

New Whistleblower Organization Launched on Anniversary of Snowden Revelations


Former whistleblowers Radack, Wiebe, Coleman-Adebayo and Ellsberg speak out at the launch of, a US-based independent media organization that encourages whistleblowers to expose government and corporate malfeasance.

One year after critics say a National Security Agency whistleblower, Edward Snowden, was unfairly targeted for his revelations about the agency's spying on U.S. citizens across the United States and the world, whistleblowers and their advocates are fighting back. The American-based seeks to be a venue for whistleblowers to blow their whistle. It aims to shed light on concealed activities that are relevant to human rights, corporate malfeasance, the environment, civil liberties, and war and be part of the nonprofit Institute for Public Accuracy.

Wiping Out the Monarchs: GMO Crops Fingered in Butterfly Apocalypse

Genetically Modified Crops Fueling Decline of Monarch Butterflies: Report

Andrea Germanos - CommonDreams

The monarch butterflies' numbers have been plummeting in recent years, and a new study has pointed to the likely main culprit: loss of its summer habitat as a result of genetically modified crops.

A monarch sits on milkweed. (Photo: George Bott/cc/flickr)

The findings from researchers with the University of Guelph were published Wednesday in the Journal of Animal Ecology.

New study links loss of milkweed habitat as a result of herbicide resistant crops to monarchs' falling numbers

A report issued earlier this year from the World Wildlife Fund and Mexico’s National Commission for Protected Areas pointed to three main factors threatening the pollinators: deforestation and forest degradation in monarch reserves that serve as their winter habitat in Mexico, habitat loss due to land use changes and the loss of its larval food plant—milkweed—as a result of the widespread use of the herbicide glyphosate, and weather extremes.

The new study, however, puts the main cause of the crisis squarely on its summer habitat loss in the United States.

The researchers' projection model showed that disturbances in their breeding grounds affected the butterflies' number to a greater degree than disturbances to their wintering grounds. Those breeding grounds need to have milkweed, the only host plant for the monarch caterpillars.

A monarch caterpillar on a milkweed leaf. (Photo: forevertrusting/cc/flickr)But the number of milkweed plants has been plummeting—21 percent between 1995 and 2013—especially in the Corn Belt, home to widespread planting of crops that have been genetically modified to be resistant to glyphosate, the main ingredient in Monsanto's herbicide Roundup. The region is also "monarch corridor," as Monarch Watch Director Chip Ward has described, because it serves as critical summer and spring breeding grounds for a large proportion of monarchs.

“Our work provides the first evidence that monarch butterfly numbers in eastern North America are most sensitive to changes in the availability of milkweed on breeding grounds, particularly in the Corn Belt region of the United States,” stated Ryan Norris, a professor in Guelph’s Department of Integrative Biology and study co-author.

Efforts by the Mexican government to conserve winter monarch habitat have "no doubt gone a long way towards conserving monarchs that breed throughout eastern North America," stated lead author and current University of Guelph post-doctoral researcher Tyler Flockhart. "However, our results provide evidence that there is now another imminent threat."

Speaking with CBC News, Norris said that "likely the biggest cause of loss of milkweed is the adoption of genetically modified crops."

The study also predicts further declines in the population of 14 percent, and a 5 percent chance the species goes nearly extinct within a century.

So how do we stop the population free-fall?

“Reducing the negative effects of milkweed loss in the breeding grounds should be the top conservation priority to slow or halt future population declines of the monarch in North America,” Flockhart stated.

To do that, Norris added, “Planting milkweed in the south and central United States would provide the largest immediate benefit.”

Encouraging the planting of milkweed is something Ward's Monarch Watch has been encourage for years, and in a monarch "recovery plan" states:

The monarch migration can be saved if there is commitment to the two propositions outlined in the premise to:
1) offset annual losses of habitat by planting milkweeds and nectar plants in areas from which they have been extirpated and;
2) develop the capacity to plant milkweeds over large landscapes. Both projects require the development of greater capacity to restore milkweeds than exists at present.

But that capacity, though costly, could be implemented within a few years, he adds.

In addition to the efforts individuals can make in restoring the habitat, the study's findings point to a need for a fundamental shift away from current, herbicide-reliant agricultural practices and ethanol mandates that have incentivized corn monocultures and destroyed milkweed.

This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.

Suckering Uncle Sam: Egypt's Generals Gull Western Military Complex?

Clueless in Cairo: How Egypt's Generals Sidelined Uncle Sam

by Dilip Hiro  - TomDispatch

Since September 11, 2001, Washington’s policies in the Middle East have proven a grim imperial comedy of errors and increasingly a spectacle of how a superpower is sidelined. In this drama, barely noticed by the American media, Uncle Sam’s keystone ally in the Arab world, Egypt, like Saudi Arabia, has largely turned its back on the Obama administration. As with so many of America’s former client states across the aptly named “arc of instability,” Egypt has undergone a tumultuous journey -- from autocracy to democracy to a regurgitated form of military rule and repression, making its ally of four decades appear clueless.

Egypt remains one of the top recipients of U.S. foreign aid, with the Pentagon continuing to pamper the Egyptian military with advanced jet fighters, helicopters, missiles, and tanks. Between January 2011 and May 2014, Egypt underwent a democratic revolution, powered by a popular movement, which toppled President Hosni Mubarak’s regime. It enjoyed a brief tryst with democracy before suffering an anti-democratic counter-revolution by its generals. In all of this, what has been the input of the planet’s last superpower in shaping the history of the most populous country in the strategic Middle East? Zilch. Its “generosity” toward Cairo notwithstanding, Washington has been reduced to the role of a helpless bystander.

Given how long the United States has been Egypt’s critical supporter, the State Department and Pentagon bureaucracies should have built up a storehouse of understanding as to what makes the Land of the Pharaohs tick. Their failure to do so, coupled with a striking lack of familiarity by two administrations with the country’s recent history, has led to America’s humiliating sidelining in Egypt. It’s a story that has yet to be pieced together, although it’s indicative of how from Kabul to Bonn, Baghdad to Rio de Janeiro so many ruling elites no longer feel that listening to Washington is a must.
Tomgram: Dilip Hiro, Behind the Coup in Egypt

Think of Barack Obama's recent return to West Point at graduation time to offer his approach to an increasingly chaotic world as a bookend on an era. George W. Bush went to the Academy in June 2002 -- less than a year after 9/11, seven months after the U.S. had triumphantly invaded Afghanistan, 10 months before it would (as he already knew) invade Iraq -- and laid out his vision of “preemptive war.” In that commencement address to a class about to graduate into the very wars he was launching, he threw the ancient Cold War doctrines of deterrence and containment to the sharks and proclaimed a new, finger-on-a-hair-trigger vision of global policy for a country that wasn’t about to step aside for anyone or anything. “If we wait for threats to fully materialize, we will have waited too long,” he said to resounding applause. He added, “Our security will require all Americans to be forward-looking and resolute, to be ready for preemptive action when necessary to defend our liberty and to defend our lives."

Speaking to the class of 2002, Bush conjured up an epic struggle without end (that certain neocons would soon begin calling "the Long War" or "World War IV"). It would be global, Manichaean, and unquestionably victorious. “We must uncover terror cells in 60 or more countries, using every tool of finance, intelligence, and law enforcement. Along with our friends and allies, we must oppose proliferation and confront regimes that sponsor terror, as each case requires. Some nations need military training to fight terror, and we'll provide it. Other nations oppose terror, but tolerate the hatred that leads to terror -- and that must change. We will send diplomats where they are needed, and we will send you, our soldiers, where you're needed.”

It was Bush’s initial foray into the dream of a subjugated Greater Middle East and a planet destined to fall under the spell of a Pax Americana enforced by a military like no other in history. It was visionary stuff, a genuine Bush (or Cheney) Doctrine. And the president and his top officials meant every word of it.

Twelve years later, the results are in. As President Obama pointed out to the class of 2014, some of those “terror cells in 60 or more countries” have by now become full-scale terror outfits and, helped immeasurably by the actions the Bush Doctrine dictated, are thriving. In Afghanistan, a long-revived Taliban can’t be defeated, while neighboring Pakistan, with its own Taliban movement, has been significantly destabilized. Amid the ongoing drone wars of two administrations, Yemen is being al-Qaedicized; the former president’s invasion of Iraq set off a devastating, still expanding Sunni-Shiite civil war across the Middle East, which is also becoming a blowback machine for terrorism, and which has thrown the whole region into chaos; Libya, Obama’s no-casualties version of intervention, is now a basket case; across much of Africa, terror groups are spreading, as is destabilization continent-wide.

Facing this and a host of other crises and problems from Ukraine to Syria to the South China Sea, and “pivoting” fruitlessly in every direction, Obama, in his second trek to West Point, put together a survey of a no-longer American planet that left the cadets sitting on their hands (though their parents cheered the line, “You are the first class since 9/11 who may not be sent into combat in Iraq or Afghanistan”) and critics from the Wall Street Journal to the New York Times bored and dismissive. It was, all agreed, the exhausted speech of an exhausted administration addressed to an American public exhausted by more than a decade of fruitless wars in an exhausting world.

If that commencement address had just been visionless words offered by a rudderless president, it might not have mattered much, except to the nattering class in Washington. As TomDispatch regular Dilip Hiro makes clear, however, in a magisterial look at where the Arab Spring ended up in Egypt, it isn’t only unfriendly states or stateless terror groups that aren’t cooperating in the organization of an American world. The former "sole superpower" of planet Earth that the president (with “every fiber” of his being) insisted was still both “exceptional” and “indispensable” seemed to be losing its sway over former allies as well. If there is no Obama Doctrine, it may be because the world of 2014 is in a state of exceptional and indispensable entropy. Tom

An Army as Immovable as the Pyramids

Ever since 1952, when a group of nationalist military officers ended the pro-British monarchy, Egypt’s army has been in the driver’s seat. From Gamal Abdul Nasser to Hosni Mubarak, its rulers were military commanders. And if, in February 2011, a majority of the members of the Supreme Council of the Armed Forces (SCAF) abandoned Mubarak, it was only to stop him from passing the presidency on to his son Gamal on his 83rd birthday. The neoliberal policies pursued by the Mubarak government at the behest of that businessman son from 2004 onward made SCAF fear that the military’s stake in the public sector of the economy and its extensive public-private partnerships would be doomed.

Fattened on the patronage of successive military presidents, Egypt’s military-industrial complex had grown enormously. Its contribution to the gross domestic product (GDP), though a state secret, could be as high as 40%, unparalleled in the region. The chief executives of 55 of Egypt's largest companies, contributing a third of that GDP, are former generals.

Working with the interior ministry, which controls the national police force, paramilitary units, and the civilian intelligence agencies, SCAF (headed by General Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, doubling as the defense minister) would later orchestrate the protest movement against popularly elected President Muhammad Morsi of the Muslim Brotherhood. That campaign reached its crescendo on June 30, 2013. Three days later, SCAF toppled Morsi and has held him in prison ever since.

The generals carried out their coup at a moment when, according to the Washington-based Pew Research Center, 63% of Egyptians had a favorable view of the Muslim Brotherhood, 52% approved of the Brotherhood-affiliated Freedom and Justice Party, and 53% backed Morsi, who had won the presidency a year earlier with 52% of the vote.

Washington Misses the Plot

Remarkably, Obama administration officials failed to grasp that the generals, in conjunction with Interior Minister Muhammad Ibrahim, were the prime movers behind the Tamarod (Arabic for “rebellion”) campaign launched on April 22, 2013. Egyptians were urged to sign a petition addressed to Morsi that was both simplistic and populist. “Because security has not returned, because the poor have no place, because I have no dignity in my own country...,” read the text in part, “we don’t want you anymore,” and it called for an early presidential election. In little over two months, the organizers claimed that they had amassed 22.1 million signatures, amounting to 85% of those who had participated in the presidential election of 2012. Where those millions of individually signed petitions were being stored was never made public, nor did any independent organization verify their existence or numbers.

As the Tamarod campaign gained momentum, the interior ministry’s secret police infiltrated it, as did former Mubarak supporters, while elements of the police state of the Mubarak era were revived. Reports that cronies of the toppled president were providing the funding for the campaign began to circulate. The nationwide offices of the Free Egyptians -- a party founded by Naguib Sawiria, a businessman close to Mubarak and worth $2.5 billion -- were opened to Tamarod organizers. Sawiria also paid for a promotional music video that was played repeatedly on OnTV, a television channel he had founded. In addition, he let his newspaper, Al Masry al Youm, be used as a vehicle for the campaign.

In the run-up to the mass demonstration in Cairo’s iconic Tahrir Square on June 30th, the first anniversary of Morsi’s rule, power cuts became more frequent and fuel shortages acute. As policemen mysteriously disappeared from the streets, the crime rate soared. All of this stoked anti-Morsi feelings and was apparently orchestrated with military precision by those who plotted the coup.

Ben Hubbard and David D. Kirkpatrick of the New York Times provided evidence of meticulous planning, especially by the Interior Ministry, in a report headlined “Sudden Improvements in Egypt Suggest a Campaign to Undermine Morsi.” They quoted Ahmad Nabawi, a Cairo gas station manager, saying that he had heard several explanations for the gas crisis: technical glitches at the storage facilities, the arrival of low quality gas from abroad, and excessive stockpiling by the public. But he put what happened in context this way: “We went to sleep one night, woke up the next day, and the crisis was gone” -- and so was Morsi. Unsurprisingly, of all the ministers in the Morsi government, Interior Minister Ibrahim was the only one retained in the interim cabinet appointed by the generals.

“See No Evil”

Initially, President Obama refused to call what had occurred in Egypt a military “coup.” Instead, he spoke vaguely of “military actions” in order to stay on the right side of the Foreign Assistance Act in which Congress forbade foreign aid to “any country whose duly elected head of government is deposed by military coup or decree.”

Within a week of the coup, with Morsi and the first of thousands of Muslim Brotherhood followers thrown behind bars, SCAF sidelined the Tamarod campaigners. They were left complaining that the generals, violating their promise, had not consulted them on the road map to normalization. Having ridden the Tamarod horse to total power, SCAF had no more use for it.

When Morsi supporters staged peaceful sit-ins at two squares in Cairo, the military junta could not bear the sight of tens of thousands of Egyptians quietly defying its arbitrary will. Waiting until the holy fasting month of Ramadan and the three-day festival of Eid ul Fitr had passed, they made their move. On August 14th, Interior Ministry troops massacred nearly 1,000 protesters as they cleared the two sites.

“Our traditional cooperation cannot continue as usual when civilians are being killed in the streets and rights are being rolled back,” said Obama. However, in the end all he did was cancel annual joint military exercises with Egypt scheduled for September and suspend the shipment of four F-16 fighter jets to the Egyptian air force. This mattered little, if at all, to the generals.

The helplessness of Washington before a client state with an economy in freefall was little short of stunning. Pentagon officials, for instance, revealed that since the “ouster of Mr. Morsi,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel had had 15 telephone conversations with coup leader General Sisi, pleading with him to “change course” -- all in vain.

Five weeks later, the disjuncture between Washington and Cairo became embarrassingly overt. On September 23rd, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters ordered the 85-year-old Muslim Brotherhood disbanded. In a speech at the U.N. General Assembly the next day, President Obama stated that, in deposing Morsi, the Egyptian military had “responded to the desires of millions of Egyptians who believed the revolution had taken a wrong turn.” He then offered only token criticism, claiming that the new military government had “made decisions inconsistent with inclusive democracy” and that future American support would “depend upon Egypt's progress in pursuing a more democratic path.”

General Sisi was having none of this. In a newspaper interview on October 9th, he warned that he would not tolerate pressure from Washington “whether through actions or hints.” Already, there had been a sign that Uncle Sam’s mild criticism was being diluted. A day earlier, National Security Council spokeswoman Caitlin Hayden stated that reports that all military assistance to Egypt would be halted were “false.”

In early November, unmistakably pliant words came from Secretary of State John Kerry. “The roadmap [to democracy] is being carried out to the best of our perception,” he said at a press conference, while standing alongside his Egyptian counterpart Nabil Fahmy during a surprise stopover in Cairo. “There are questions we have here and there about one thing or another, but Foreign Minister Fahmy has reemphasized to me again and again that they have every intent and they are determined to fulfill that particular decision and that [democratic] track.”

The Generals Axe the Secular, Pro-Democracy Movement

Fahmy and Kerry were looking at that democratic “track” from opposite perspectives. Three weeks later, the military-appointed president, Adly Mansour, approved a new law that virtually outlawed the right to protest. This law gave the interior minister or senior police officials a power that only the judiciary had previously possessed. The minister or his minions could now cancel, postpone, or change the location of protests for which organizers had earlier received the permission of local police. Human Rights groups and secular organizations argued that the 2013 Protest Law was reminiscent of Mubarak’s repressive policies. Washington kept quiet.

Two days later, critics of the law held a demonstration in Cairo that was violently dispersed by the police. Dozens of activists, including the co-founders of the April 6 Youth Movement, Ahmed Maher and Muhammad Adel, seminal actors in the Tahrir Square protests against Mubarak, were arrested. Maher and Adel were each sentenced to three years imprisonment.

Following the coup, the number of prisoners rose exponentially, reaching at least 16,000 within eight months, including nearly 3,000 top or mid-level members of the Brotherhood. (Unofficial estimates put the total figure at 22,000.) When 40 inmates herded into a typical cell in custom-built jails proved insufficient, many Brotherhood members were detained without charges for months in police station lockups or impromptu prisons set up in police training camps where beatings were routine.

The 846 Egyptians who lost their lives in the pro-democracy revolution that ended Mubarak’s authoritarian regime were dwarfed by the nearly 3,000 people killed in a brutal series of crackdowns that followed the coup, according to human rights groups.

The sentencing of the founders of the April 6 Youth Movement -- which through its social media campaign had played such a crucial role in sparking anti-Mubarak demonstrations -- foreshadowed something far worse. On April 28, 2014, the Cairo Court for Urgent Matters outlawed that secular, pro-democracy movement based on a complaint by a lawyer that it had “tarnished the image” of Egypt and colluded with foreign parties.

With this set of acts, the post-coup regime turned the clock back to Mubarakism -- without Mubarak.

Setting the World’s Mass Death-Penalty Record

On that same April day in the southern Egyptian town of Minya, Judge Saeed Elgazar broke his own month-old world death-penalty record of 529 (in a trial that lasting less than an hour) by recommending the death penalty for 683 Egyptians, including Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Badie. The defendants were charged in an August 2013 attack on a police station in Minya, which led to the death of a policeman. Of the accused, 60% had not been in Minya on the day of the assault. Defense lawyers were prevented from presenting their case during the two-day trial.

Elgazar was a grotesquely exaggerated example of a judiciary from the Mubarak era that remained unreconciled to the onset of democracy. It proved only too willing to back the military junta in terrorizing those even thinking of protesting the generals’ rule. A U.S. State Department spokesperson called the judge’s first trial “unconscionable.” But as before, the military-backed government in Cairo remained unmoved. The Egyptian Justice Department warned that “comments on judicial verdicts are unacceptable, be they from external or internal parties as they represent a serious transgression against the independence of the judiciary.”

When the second mass sentence came down, Kerry murmured that “there have been disturbing decisions within the judicial process, the court system, that have raised serious challenges for all of us. It’s actions, not words that will make the difference.” A defiant Nabil Fahmy responded by defending the verdicts as having been rendered by an independent judiciary “completely independent from the government.”

One predictable response to the military junta’s brutal squashing of the Brotherhood, which over the previous few decades had committed itself to participating in a multi-party democracy, was the swelling of the ranks of militant jihadist groups. Of these Ansar Bait al Muqdus (“Helpers of Jerusalem”), based in the Sinai Peninsula and linked to al-Qaeda, was the largest. After the coup, it gained new members and its terror attacks spread to the bulk of Egypt west of the Suez Canal.

In late December, a car bomb detonated by its operatives outside police headquarters in the Nile Delta town of Mansoura killed 16 police officers. Blaming the bombing on the Muslim Brotherhood instead, the interim government classified it as a “terrorist organization,” even though Ansar had claimed responsibility for the attack. By pinning the terrorist label on the Brotherhood, the generals gave themselves carte blanche to further intensify their ruthless suppression of it.

While SCAF pursued its relentless anti-Brotherhood crusade and reestablished itself as the ruling power in Egypt, it threw a sop to the Obama administration. It introduced a new constitution, having suspended the previous one drafted by a popularly elected constituent assembly. The generals appointed a handpicked committee of 50 to amend the suspended document. They included only two members of the Islamist groups that had jointly gained two-thirds of the popular vote in Egypt’s first free elections.

Predictably, the resulting document was military-friendly. It stipulated that the defense minister must be a serving military officer and that civilians would be subject to trial in military courts for certain offenses. Banned was the formation of political parties based on religion, race, gender, or geography, and none was allowed to have a paramilitary wing. The document was signed by the interim president in early December. A national referendum on it was held in mid-January under tight security, with 160,000 soldiers and more than 200,000 policemen deployed nationwide. The result: a vote of 98.1% in favor. (A referendum on the 2012 constitution during Morsi’s presidency had gained the backing of 64% of voters.)

The charade of this exercise seemed to escape policymakers in Washington. Kerry blithely spoke of the SCAF-appointed government committing itself to “a transition process that expands democratic rights and leads to a civilian-led, inclusive government through free and fair elections.”

By this time, the diplomatic and financial support of the oil rich Gulf States ruled by autocratic monarchs was proving crucial to the military regime in Cairo. Immediately after the coup, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) poured $12 billion into Cairo's nearly empty coffers. In late January 2014, Saudi Arabia and the UAE came up with an additional $5.8 billion. This helped Sisi brush off any pressure from Washington and monopolize power his way.

The Strongman as Savior

By then, huge photographs and portraits of General Sisi had become a common fixture on the streets in Cairo and other major cities. On January 27th, interim president Mansour promoted Sisi to field marshal. Later that day, SCAF nominated him for the presidency. A slew of stories started appearing in the state-run media as well as most of its privately owned counterparts backing Sisi and touting the benefits of strong military leadership.

Sisi’s original plan to announce his candidacy on February 11th, the third anniversary of Mubarak’s forced resignation, hit an unexpected speed bump. On February 7th, Al Watan, a newspaper supportive of the military regime with longstanding ties to the security establishment, printed an embarrassing front-page story placing Sisi’s worth at 30 million Egyptian pounds ($4.2 million). Within minutes of its being printed, state officials contacted the paper’s owner, Magdy El Galad, demanding its immediate removal. He instantly complied.

Sisi continued to place his henchmen in key positions in the armed forces, including military intelligence. On March 26th, he resigned from the army, declaring himself an independent candidate. Nonetheless, as Alaa Al Aswany, a prominent writer and commentator, revealed, senior military commanders continued to perform important tasks for him. There was nothing faintly fair about such an election, Aswany pointed out. Most other potential candidates for the presidency had reached a similar conclusion -- that entering the race was futile. Hamdeen Sabahi, a secular left-of-center politician, was the only exception.

Despite relentless propaganda by state and private media portraying Sisi as the future savior of Egypt, things went badly for him. That he would be crowned as a latter-day Pharaoh was a given. The only unknown was: How many Egyptians would bother to participate in the stage-managed exercise?

The turnout proved so poor on May 26th, the first day of the two-day election, that panic struck the government, which declared the following day a holiday. In addition, the Justice ministry warned that those who failed to vote would be fined. The authorities suspended train fares to encourage voters to head for polling stations. TV anchors and media celebrities scolded and lambasted their fellow citizens for their apathy, while urging them to rush to their local polling booths. Huge speakers mounted on vans patrolling city neighborhoods alternated raucous exhortations to vote with songs of praise for the military. Al Azhar, the highest Islamic authority in the land, declared that to fail to vote was “to disobey the nation.” Pope Tawadros, head of Egypt’s Coptic Christian Church whose members form 10% of the population, appeared on state television to urge voters to cast their ballots.

The former field marshal had demanded an 80% turnout from the country’s 56 million voters. Yet even with voting extended to a third day and a multifaceted campaign to shore up the numbers, polling stations were reportedly empty across the country. The announced official turnout of 47.5% was widely disbelieved. Sabahi described the figure as "an insult to the intelligence of Egyptians.” Sisi was again officially given 96.1% of the vote, Sabahi 3%. The spokesman for the National Alliance for the Defense of Legitimacy put voter participation at 10%-12%. The turnout for the first free and fair two-day presidential election, held in June 2012 without endless exhortations by TV anchors and religious leaders, had been 52%.

Among the regional and world leaders who telephoned Sisi to congratulate him on his landslide electoral triumph was Russian President Vladimir Putin. No such call has yet come in from President Obama.

For Washington, still so generous in its handouts to the Arab Republic of Egypt and its military, trailing behind the Russian Bear in embracing the latest strongman on the Nile should be considered an unqualified humiliation. With its former sphere of influence in tatters, the last superpower has been decisively sidelined by its key Arab ally in the region.

Dilip Hiro, a TomDispatch regular, has written 34 books, including After Empire: The Birth of a Multipolar World. His latest book is A Comprehensive Dictionary of the Middle East.

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Copyright 2014 Dilip Hiro