Friday, May 01, 2015

Enter the House of Saud: Shameless Sham of the Burgeoning "Terror Wars"

Sham and Shame: Saudi-US Slaughter in Yemen Shows Truth of Terror War

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

Last week, the United States sent an armada to Yemen, to help enforce a blockade of the poverty-ridden country as it groans under the mass slaughter of Saudi Arabia’s American-backed war of aggression. Now the Saudis, employing the bombs they procured from U.S. war profiteers, have shut down aid shipments by air with a bombing raid on the capital, Sana’a. The result will be more hunger, suffering and death in one of the world’s poorest countries. — But hey, wasn’t Obama so funny at that media dinner thing!

While aiding the Islamic extremists of Saudi Arabia to help al Qaeda in Yemen — who have made great gains while their mortal enemies, the Houthis, are being pounded by the Saudis — Obama and the American military machine has also been busy joining hands with al Qaeda in Syria, helping them make huge advances and capture key cities. It now looks increasingly likely that the Syrian government will not be able to withstand the onslaught of Islamic extremists (oh, and the “moderate” rebels, which also include al Qaeda elements). The fall of the secular Syrian state will open up an abyss of chaos which will be filled by the extremists armed and bankrolled by the United States and Saudi Arabia — just as the American destruction of the secular government in Iraq has led to murderous nightmare for millions of people.

What’s more, Israel has also joined the fight with al Qaeda, launching airstrikes on positions in Syria to clear the way for Islamic extremists to keep up their offensive. Robert Parry is on the case:

The Saudi-Israeli alliance, in league with other hard-line Sunni countries, is helping Al-Qaeda affiliates advance toward gaining either victory or at least safe havens in Syria and Yemen, highlighting unresolved contradictions in President Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East. Fueled by a surge of support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – and with Israel striking at Syrian government allies – Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda’s hyper-brutal spinoff, the Islamic State, are making major advances in Syria with some analysts now predicting the likely collapse of the relatively secular government of President Bashar al-Assad.

… As this relationship firmed up, Israel even began voicing a preference for Al-Qaeda’s militants over the relatively secular Assad government, which was viewed as the protectors of Alawites, Shiites, Christians and other Syrian minorities terrified of the Saudi-backed Sunni extremists. In September 2013, in one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview. “We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.” He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Oren expanded on his position in June 2014 at an Aspen Institute conference. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

The same game is being played in Yemen, of course, as Obama puts American military and logistic muscle behind a murderous air assault by the fountainhead of Sunni extremism, Saudi Arabia. Here, the Americans — that great defender of democracy everywhere — are helping the hidebound, head-chopping, tyrannical Saudi royal family in its ever-more frantic efforts to stay in power. As Wall Street Journal correspondent Joe Lauria notes, the savaging of Yemen has very little to do with a “proxy war” with Iran, and very much to do with the Saudi royal’s determination to keep anything resembling democracy far from its borders.

Lauria was interviewed by Jessica Desvarieux of The Real News after his WSJ story detailing how the Saudi attack deliberately scotched a peace deal in Yemen. Here are some excerpts:

LAURIA: That's the main thrust of the story, that [Jamal Benomar, the UN's Special Representative in Yemen], was saying. They were close to a deal, and then the Saudi intervention, the bombing ended the negotiation and that's where we are today.

So what essential interest would Saudi Arabia have in terms of increasing force? Why would they even do that?

LAURIA: Well, publicly they're saying they want to restore Hadi as the president, and that they are trying to curb Iranian influence in Yemen. Now, the Houthis are Zaydi sect of Shiism, but it's a different sect than the Iranian Shiites. The Houthi movement began in the early '90s, and they didn't receive any aid or any connection really with Iran until five years ago, 2010. And even the U.S. government does not believe that Iran has overwhelming influence in Yemen. And diplomats I spoke to are not--I can't name, also say that Houthis were not agents of the Iranians and that their influence is limited there.

So what is the real motive of the Saudis? Well, these diplomats told me that they believe they didn't, that they were afraid, the Saudis, of a successful negotiation that would bring about a progressive and democratic government in their backyard. This government--and the deal called for, for example, 30 percent of the cabinet posts, 30 percent of parliament going to women. Now, in Saudi Arabia women can't even drive. But--and they were of course, the Houthis, who are 30 percent of the country, or the Zaydi Shiites, 30 percent of the country, would necessarily get about 30 percent of power of the government. Not 50 percent, they were not going to rule. They did not expect to be the rulers of Yemen, they know they cannot control the entire country. They are not strong enough. So they were willing to take 30 percent, according to Benomar.

And by the way, he told all of this to the UN Security Council today to confirm everything that was in my story. And Saudi Arabia did not want a democracy--this is what these diplomats tell me. They don't want a democracy in their backyard. For centuries they've installed their own leaders in Yemen. They want to control the politics there and impose their terms on this country. The last thing they need is anywhere in the region a democracy, and you can see since the so-called Arab Spring of the last four or five years, what have the Saudis done? From Egypt to Bahrain they have undermined any kind of, form of democracy. …

DESVARIEUX: Let's talk about some of the consequences of this bombing. And specifically, the winners and losers. Because an unexpected winner in all of this is Al-Qaeda, is that right?

LAURIA: That's correct. Al-Qaeda is strong in Yemen. Al-Qaeda has supposedly some of these, the underwear bomber, some of these other things came out of Yemen, and the attack on the magazine in Paris was apparently launched by this branch of Al-Qaeda in Yemen. The United States as your viewers well know has been using drone strikes in Yemen to try to defeat Al-Qaeda. They haven't done that, they've killed a bunch of civilians, unfortunately.

So Al-Qaeda is there. And it's well-known that going back to the 1980s when this was formed in Afghanistan that Saudi Arabia, at least some private money from Saudi Arabia, was backing some of these guys who turned into Al-Qaeda. And others, some governments even say that Qatar and Saudi Arabia are supporting extremist groups in Syria, like al-Nusra Front by Qatar. And maybe some people who are now fighting with Islamic State.

So what do you have here now is the Saudis bombing the Houthi targets only in Yemen, weakening them. The Houthis who are one of the, who are the main fighting force against Al-Qaeda, and they're being bombed by Saudi Arabia. And Al-Qaeda is moving. They're taking over towns. They've taken over airports. They are gaining on the ground. Now, the Saudis have, probably need ground troops to defeat the Houthis. They've asked Pakistan. And Pakistanis did some mysterious procedure that the Saudis don't seem to understand, which is call a parliamentary vote. And the parliament of Pakistan said, no. we're not sending our troops to fight in Yemen.

Can we at last give up the pretense that the “War on Terror” has anything at all to do with “fighting terrorism?” It is solely about power and profit, and has been from the beginning. But now our power-players are not even pretending anymore. Oren’s remarks make it plain; Obama’s policies — side with Sunni extremists in Syria, fight Sunni extremists in Iraq, side with Sunni extremists in Yemen, side with Sunni extremists in Libya and then oppose Sunni extremists in Libya — make it even plainer

From its very first moments, stretching back to the Reagan years and to the nth degree since 9/11, the “War on Terror” has been a sham. Yes, there are genuine Islamic extremists — and the Terror War produces more of them every day — but from the US-Saudi creation of an international jihadi army to overthrow the secular government of Soviet-backed Afghanistan to today’s alliance with al Qaeda in Syria and Yemen, America’s imperial militarists have made numerous alliances of convenience with their ostensible enemies as they pursue their agenda of domination. Obama is a willing pawn in their game. Hillary, Jeb, Mario — they will all be the same. The nightmare goes on.

Copyright © 2005-2015 Chris Floyd. All Rights Reserved

World War New and the Techno-Financial Genociders

Techno-Financial Capital and Genocide of the Poorest of the Poor

by James Petras

‘The war and its results have turned Yemen back a hundred years, due to the destruction of infrastructure . . . especially in the provinces of Oden, Dhalea and Taiz.’ - Izzedine al-Asbali, Yemeni Human Rights Minister
‘Yemen is devastated. There are no roads, water or electricity. Nobody’s left but thieves.’ - A resident of Sana (Yemen)
The Euro-American and Japanese ruling classes, as well as their collaborators in the Afro-Asian and Latin American countries, have accumulated vast profit. This has occurred through a complex stratified system re-concentrating the world’s wealth through:

  • 1. The exploitation of labor in the First World (North America and Western Europe); 
  •  2. super-exploitation of labor in the Second World (China, ex-USSR); 
  •  3. dispossession of peasants, native communities and urban dwellers to grab resources, land and real estate in the Third World; and 4. wars of genocide against the poorest of the poor in the ‘Fourth World’.

Besides all the forms of brutal exploitation and dispossession, which enrich the Euro-US ruling classes, by far the most sinister and threatening to humanity is the concerted worldwide effort to literally exterminate the poorest-of-the poor, the hundreds of millions of people no longer essential for the accumulation and concentration of imperial capital today.

This essay will begin by mapping the genocidal wars against ‘the wretched of the earth’, identifying the geography of genocide, the countries and subjects under attack, and the trajectory, which has been chosen and executed by the leaders of the Euro-American regimes.

Then we will examine the reason for genocide within the dynamics and forms of contemporary capitalism. In particular, we will develop the genocide hypothesis: that imperial genocide of the poorest of the poor is a deliberate policy to reduce the growing surplus labor, which is no longer needed or wanted for wealth accumulation but is increasingly feared as a potential political threat.

In the last section, we will discuss how the ‘wretched of the earth’ are responding to this policy of imperial genocide and what is to be done.

Mapping Genocide Against the Poorest of the Poor

It is no coincidence that the most violent assaults and invasions by the Euro-American powers have taken place against the poorest countries in each region of the world. In the Western hemisphere, the Euro-US regimes have repeatedly invaded the absolutely poorest country, Haiti, overthrowing the popularly elected Aristide government, decimating the population via a cholera epidemic spread by UN mercenary ‘peace-keepers’, killing tens of thousands of poor Haitians and rounding up thousands of protestors. The occupation continues.

Honduras, the second poorest country in the region, experienced a US-backed coup d’état deposed their recently elected president and imposed a terrorist puppet regime, which regularly assassinates dissidents and landless rural workers. Peasants are dispossessed; the economy and society are in shambles with tens of thousands of Hondurans (especially children) fleeing the violence.

Today, the Euro-American powers actively support the absolutist regime of Saudi Arabia as it bombs and slaughters thousands of Yemeni civilians and resistance fighters. Yemen is the poorest country in the Gulf region.

In South Asia, the US invaded and occupied Afghanistan; its coalition of puppets and NATO allies have massacred and displaced millions of poor farmers and civilians. Afghanistan is the poorest of the poor countries in the region.

In Africa, the Euro-American powers and their local collaborators have invaded, bombed and occupied Somalia, Chad and Mali - among the poorest of sub-Sahara countries.

After the US-NATO campaign of destruction against Libya, 1.5 million sub-Saharan Africans and black citizens of Libya lost their stable employment and became the victims of ethnic slaughter. Their attempts to escape the violence and starvation by fleeing to Europe are blocked by the leading powers (the same powers that destroyed the Libyan economy and society). Those, who do not drown in their flight, are detained and returned to their devastated countries and early deaths.

In Western Europe, millions of Greeks, Spaniards and Portuguese, inhabiting the poorest countries in the region, have faced massive job losses, widespread impoverishment and spiraling suicides - all induced by austerity programs designed to pillage their economies and enrich their Euro-US creditors.

In the United States, 1.5 million black (mostly male) Americans, are ‘missing’ – products of early death, industrial-scale incarceration and police assassinations. American Indian communities are subject to depredations and early death from the policies of the Federal and State governments. Their lands have been handed over to mining (and now fracking) to serve the interests of the mining and agro-business elite. Throughout the US Latino agricultural workers are increasingly viewed as ‘expendable’ with technology and the effects of global climate change (such as the severe drought in California) depriving them of livelihood.

In the Levant, Palestinians, now the poorest of the poor and the most disenfranchised, face continued Israeli land grabs, pillage and violence in the West Bank and genocidal attacks in Gaza. Iraq and Syria have experienced millions of deaths and displacements, reducing previously prosperous, educated and sophisticated multi-ethnic populations into impoverished, uprooted and desperate people deliberately driven backwards to tribal loyalties.

Why Imperialism ‘Genocides the Poorest of the Poor’

With the exception of Iraq and Syria, all of the violated countries have been poor in resources and markets, and possess large unskilled labor. The people are targeted and savaged because they no longer serve as ‘labor reserves’ – they are now excess-surplus labor – in Nazi racial hygiene terminology, they have become ‘useless mouths to feed’. This has intensified as crisis engulfs the West and the least productive sectors of capitalism, finance, real estate and insurance (FIRE), have become the leading sectors of capital. ‘Cheap labor’ is less needed, least of all overseas labor from conflictual regions.

The ‘poorest of the poor’ countries under attack lack rich resources ripe for plunder; their populations do not exist among the priorities of the multi-national bankers – except when seen as ‘obstacles’. In the colonial past, sectors of these populations would have been recruited by imperial countries to submit, obey and serve as imperial mercenaries or coolie labor. They would have been transported and employed by empire for ‘dirty’, dangerous and poorly paid jobs in other colonized countries – like the millions of Indians scattered throughout the former British Empire. Today, such coolies have no value.

The genocidal nature of the wars against the ‘poorest of the poor’ is best demonstrated by the actual targets and primary victims of these wars: Millions of civilians, families, women, children and heads of households have suffered the worst. These ‘targets’ represent the most stable and essential elements responsible for family reproduction and security. The ‘poorest of the poor’ communities are being destroyed. Genocidal bombing has overwhelmingly targeted the essential factors for survival: cohesive households, communal settings, subsistence food growing regions and access to clean water. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that marriage ceremonies and traditional social gatherings have been ‘mistaken targets’ of missiles and drone strikes. Despite the denials from the White House, the geographic extent and nauseating number of such attacks demonstrate that according to the ‘genocide hypothesis’ there is ‘nowhere to hide’: The targeted populations will have no marriage celebrations, no social life, no increase in children among the poorest of the poor, no protection for the elders, no social fabric and no communal organizations – there will be no survival networks left for the superfluous of empire.

The ‘genocide hypothesis’ underlies the practice of ‘total war’. The practice includes massive attacks on non-military targets (‘Shock and Awe’) and the use of high tech weaponry to target collectives of the poorest of the poor – repeatedly, over long periods of time and wide geographic regions.

If, as the apologists of genocidal wars claim, the bombings of weddings and slaughter of school children are ‘collateral’ in the ‘Global War on Terror’ why are they happening everywhere in the fourth world and virtually everyday?

The genocide hypothesis best explains the data. Even the terminology and claims made by imperialist experts regarding their weapons systems support the genocide hypothesis. These weapons, we are told, are ‘intelligent, precise and highly accurate’ in targeting and destroying ‘the enemy’. By their own admission, then, the poorest of the poor have become ‘the enemy’, as imperial weapons makers support ‘intelligent’ genocide with ‘precision’.

When liberals and leftists criticize how imperial drone strikes kill civilians, instead of ‘armed terrorists’, they are missing the essential point of the policy. The prime purpose of the wars and the imperial weapons of mass destruction is to kill the largest number of the very poorest in the shortest time.

No member of the financial-high tech capitalist class has ever complained about the mass killing of the ‘poorest of the poor’ anywhere or at any time because the victims are, for the purpose of accumulating imperial profit and concentrating wealth superfluous. The poorest don’t figure into the formulae of profit and productivity; they don’t ‘make or take’ markets. On the other hand, their continued existence is a potential liability. They are aesthetically unappealing on the outskirts of luxury resorts. To the rich, they represent a desperate criminal element and they may pose a real or imagined ‘terrorist’ threat. For these reasons, the rich would ‘prefer’ that they would quietly cease to exist, or if the warlords have to dispose of them, the world will be a safer and more attractive place to accumulate wealth. ‘Let them kill each other, as they have done for millennia’, the empire piously opines and the bankers and their high tech allies can use their military and mercenaries without soiling their own hands. The elite ignore the mass immiseration while the militarists bomb ‘the problem’ out of existence.

Today genocide occurs in once vibrant living and working communities, not hidden in ‘concentration camps’. The secret ovens and gas chambers have been replaced by an ‘open range’ of incendiary weapons that end lives, burn neighborhoods and workshops, devastate livestock and crops. Those who survive the bombing are starved, enclosed, malnourished and inflicted with disease. Eminent doctors tell us that the misery is ‘self-inflicted’ and that the poorest of the poor are ignorant and lack healthy habits. Recurrent epidemics from HIV to cholera to Ebola are quintessential ‘4th world diseases’. Even though the Caribbean had not seen cholera for over a century, its introduction into Haiti via the bowels of imperial mercenary troops (UN peacekeepers from Nepal) was blamed on the Haitians’ lack of access to clean water! Not since the small pox blankets passed out by the US Army to freezing Native Americans in their concentration camps of the 19th century have we heard such apologists for genocide!

The truth about genocide is that all this is known, repeatedly documented and forgotten. White workers in the First World cannot even register these ‘facts’ under their own noses, let alone express any form of solidarity. Imperial genocide, committed by proactive militarists and ‘passive’ rich elites, are no secret even if they deny their complicity. The key word here is ‘mission’. ‘Mission Accomplished’ was the celebratory banner over the total destruction of Iraq. The warlords claim rewards for successfully completing ‘the mission’. Yemenis are dying under US-supplied Saudi bombs; Somalis are scattered in tens of thousands of tents to the four corners of the earth; Haitians continue to enjoy the ‘gift of cholera’ from UN ‘peacekeepers’ and rot in massive open air prison-slums – their leaders imprisoned or assassinated.

The Poorest of the Poor Respond

In the face of genocide and their irrelevance to the profit motive of modern high tech and finance capital, the poorest of the poor have chosen multiple responses:

(1) Mass out-migration, preferable to the First World, where they won’t be bombed, raped or starved as they had been at ‘home’; (2) Internal migration to the cities, under the illusion of an ‘urban safe haven’ when in fact their concentration in slums makes it easier for the bombers; (3) return to the countryside and subsistence farming or the mountains and subsistence herding, but the missiles and drones relentlessly follow them; (4) mass flight to a neighboring country where the local gendarmes will ‘herd’ them into camps to rot and (5) finally resistance.

Resistance takes various forms: There are spontaneous upheavals when the scope of abuse exceeds all endurance. This form involves attacking the local collaborators and gendarmes and authorities and sacking food warehouses. Such action burns briefly and dies (many times literally).

Some choose to join armed resistance bands, including gangs of brigands, political ethno-religious rivals and terrorists who retaliate against authors of their genocide and its collaborators with their own version of justice and material and celestial rewards.Total war from above and the outside breeds total war from the inside and below.

The rebellion of the ‘wretched of the earth’ in the 21st century is far different from that portrayed by Franz Fanon in the middle of the last century. Fanon described a revolt against colonialism and neo-colonialism. Today the revolt is against deracination and genocide. During colonialism, the ‘wretched’ needed to be subdued to better exploit their labor and resources. Today, the ‘poorest of the poor’ are superfluous to empire and thus the policy of genocide.

The current world war between the classes has become a war between exterminators and those who would fight to survive!

Is Angela and the BND Working for the CIA?

Is Merkel a CIA Asset?

by Finian Cunningham - Sputnik


The claims that Merkel’s government knew about German state intelligence spying on behalf of the Americans against the country's own industrial interests raise disturbing questions about the integrity of German government leaders.

The apparent betrayal of German national interests by Chancellor Angela Merkel is not only evident over the recent industrial spying scandal on behalf of America. The slavish pursuit by Merkel of Washington's anti-Russian policy over Ukraine — in contradistinction to her country's national interests — also cogently suggests that the chancellor is serving a foreign master.

Recent reports that German state intelligence was spying on behalf of the Americans against the country's own industrial interests are bad enough. But then added to that are claims that the government of Chancellor Angela Merkel knew about the espionage — and turned a blind eye.

German Turmoil Over Spy Allegations 

This raises disturbing questions about the integrity of German government leaders, and primarily Angela Merkel. Is Merkel an asset for American intelligence, serving the geopolitical interests of Washington rather than the good of her own nation, or the wider good of Europe?

The news story in question refers to reports in the German media last week of how Germany's Federal Intelligence (BND) collaborated with the US National Security Agency (NSA) in spying on multinational European defence companies, including EADS and Eurocopter. The specific eavesdropping on these firms — in which Germany has major national economic interests — reportedly dates back to 2008. It is inconceivable that the highest levels of German government, including Chancellor Merkel — did not know about the industrial espionage. Yet Merkel appears to have countenanced the illegal activity, even though such activity would have vitiated German national interests, affording advantage to American competitors.

First of all, the idea that German state intelligence is thoroughly penetrated by American secret agencies is not an outlandish theory.

Far from it. The functioning of the BND as part of the American intelligence apparatus has been going on for decades, since the US oversaw the postwar rehabilitation of defeated Nazi Germany. The Americans and the British wove German intelligence — much of it inherited from the Nazi war machine — into their European-wide operations. German historian Josef Foschepoth and expert on postwar allied intelligence operations says that the West German government signed a secret pact with Washington and London, in 1968, known as the NATO Status of Forces Agreement. That pact mandates "intensive collaboration" and continues to this day — more than two decades since the reunification of Germany.

In essence, the American secret services like the NSA and Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), have a free hand to carry out massive surveillance in Germany against whomever they want, whether private citizens or industrial companies. And all with the help of German state intelligence and the federal government.

EU Tries to Regain Moscow's Trust Despite US Displeasure 

The tip of this iceberg in espionage and snooping was further revealed with the disclosures in 2013 by former American NSA operative Edward Snowden. Among the trove of revelations made by Snowden was the finding that American intelligence had been tapping the personal communications of German Chancellor Angela Merkel. The eavesdropping dated back to 2002 — three years before the leader of the Christian Democrat Union first became chancellor.

The telling thing is how puny and pusillanimous was the reaction from the German authorities to this disclosure of illicit spying by Washington. Apart from an initial bout of handwringing by Merkel and other Berlin figures, the whole scandal was quickly swept under the carpet as if it never happened. That suggests that the German government was already well aware of its compromised, subservient relation to Washington, as manifested by intrusive access to communications at the highest level.

As noted above such a master-servant relationship between the US and Germany was a fundamental tenet of the postwar American reconstitution of that country, and the predominant role devolved to NATO by Washington over European security affairs. The German government was apprised of, indeed was a willing party to, its subservient role to American intelligence and the free hand given to the latter. So, when the rest of the world learnt of American government spying on Merkel back in 2013 from the Edward Snowden's leaks, perhaps the least surprised person would have been Merkel and her administration. Hence the meek response from Berlin towards Washington and, to any objective observer, its shockingly invasive conduct against German "allies".

Further explosive testimony on the systematic penetration of American intelligence of German institutions came in recent months from former senior newspaper editor, Udo Ulfkotte. In several media interviews and in a best-selling book, Ulfkotte tells how German journalists and politicians are routinely recruited as CIA assets to spin stories or promulgate policies that are aimed at serving the geopolitical interests of Washington, not the interests of the German people. The former editor of Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung — one of Germany's best-known newspapers — confessed that he was one of the CIA's assets for many years, publishing stories that he knew to be false and which were damaging to international relations, and in particular antagonistic towards Russia.

Merkel Knew German Intelligence Was Spying on German Companies for US, But Did Nothing 

In an interview with RT last year, Ulfkotte said:

"It is not right what I have done in the past, to manipulate people, to make propaganda against Russia, and it is not right what my colleagues do, and have done in the past, because they are bribed to betray the people not only in Germany, all over Europe… I am very fearful of a new war in Europe, and I don't like to have this situation again, because war is never coming from itself, there is always people who push for war, and this is not only politicians, it is journalists too."

There is no reason to believe that the same domineering relation does not hold between US secret government and other European counterparts.

But given Germany's central importance to the economy and policies of the European Union and its historical growing ties with Russia since the Second World War, Berlin would be a prime target for the Americans to exert leverage for their geopolitical advantage.

When we look at German policy towards Russia over the Ukraine conflict it seems absurd on the face of it. German small businesses, major export companies and farmers are losing heavily from the Western sanctions imposed on Russia and from Moscow's counter-sanctions. Polls also indicate German public opinion is not supportive of the hostile policies, policies that have emanated from Washington and which the European allies have adopted, largely at the behest of Berlin.

This week Chancellor Merkel warned that EU sanctions against Russia may be extended if Russia does not "fulfil the Minsk ceasefire accords".

Merkel's logic is risible. There is no evidence that Russia has subverted Ukraine or has a military presence there. It was Russian President Vladimir Putin who helped broker the Minsk ceasefire. All the evidence, including reports by the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe, points to the truce being breached by the Western-backed Kiev regime. It is the Kiev regime that is not fulfilling its commitments under the Minsk accords, yet Merkel chooses, illogically, to castigate Russia.

Moreover, it is Washington that has sent hundreds of its troops into Ukraine in the past week to carry out military exercises with the armed forces of non-NATO member Ukraine. Why is Merkel so silent when it comes to censuring Washington and its puppet-regime in Kiev over what are egregious threats to peace? Her silence is incriminating.

Merkel's take on Ukraine and Russia is so completely at odds with reality and against the national interests of her own people, the question of just who is she serving comes to the fore. The recent industrial spying scandal on German companies carried out by the US — with German federal collusion — and the long-time surveillance of the chancellor's personal life points to Merkel being a compromised leader. Or, in a word: bought.

MindBombs: Meme Wars Preview Canada's Federal Election

Adbusters Presents: Mindbombs

by MindBombs

22 Mar 2015

Adbusters is a not-for-profit social, political and ecological magazine dedicated to examining the relationship between human beings and their physical and mental environments. We are behind Occupy, Buy Nothing Day, Meme Wars, Blackspot Collective and Kick It Over. Now we’re expanding on the digital front to get our message across to a larger audience with what we affectionately call: “Mindbombs”.

Mindbombs are 15 to 60 second television messages that are designed to disrupt the global media’s chokehold on public discourse. We want folks to get mad about corporate disinformation and injustices in the global economy, and our plan is to coax people from passive consumers to active participants in the battle for our mental environment.

Our first Mindbomb will air on the Canadian Broadcast Corporation. Spill Harper takes aim at the Canadian Prime Minister and his collusion with Big Oil. Our initial goal is to raise $55,000 to air this spot on the CBC - day and night - for one week.

Once we have momentum, we will set our sights on the American media. If we hit the initial $55,000, we will expand our goal by $80,000 to broadcast our 30-second Corpo-Scratch Mindbomb on major US networks like CNN. This spot is a subtle yet powerful offensive against many of the most criminal multi-national corporations.

Spill Harper and Corpo-Scratch are our first steps, our launching point for a larger movement to come. Our hope is for a total global mind shift by launching an all out meme war that will change the course of history. Later this year we plan to launch - a platform for artists and activists worldwide speaking truth to power.

Television spots cost anywhere from a few hundred dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for prime time shows that reach millions. Help us raise $55,000 in 40 days.

Check out full incentive details and more videos:

Video produced by Adbusters
Media Artist / Editor: Eliot Galan

Torn Punjab: Unapologetic Colonialism, Then and Now

The Hidden Tears of Punjab

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

A lane, a narrow passage to Jallianwala Bagh Garden inside the old city of Amritsar, in the state of Punjab. It is a monument now, one of the testaments to madness and crimes committed by the British Empire during its colonial reign over Sub-Continent.

This is where, on April 13 1919, thousands of people gathered, demanding release of two of their detained leaders, Dr. Satyapal and Dr. Saifuddin.

It was right before the day of Baisakhi, the main Sikh festival, and the pilgrims came to the city, in multitudes, from all corners of Punjab.

The British Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer brought fifty Gurkha riflemen to a raised bank, and then ordered them to shoot at the crowd.

Bipan Chandra, an Indian historian, wrote in his iconic work, “India’s Struggle for Independence”:

“On the orders of Brigadier-General Reginald Dyer, the army fired on the crowd for ten minutes, directing their bullets largely towards the few open gates through which people were trying to run out. The figures released by the British government were 370 dead and 1200 wounded. Other sources place the number dead at well over 1000.”

While reading through the draft of this essay, my friend and comrade, renowned Canadian international lawyer Christopher Black, added:

“… At the investigation into the Amritsar massacre, General Dyer said his only regret was that he had not killed more people. He also used armoured cars to block the entrances and machine guns were also used on the crowd. After that the British made people in the streets crawl on the stomachs when they passed a British officer. Terrible, terrible things-and what the British did in Kenya in the 50’s is worse than what the Nazis did in Europe.”

Jallianwala Bagh is now a monument, a testament, a warning. There are bullet holes clearly marked in white, penetrating the walls of surrounding buildings. There is a well, where bodies of countless victims had fallen. Some people had chosen to jump, to escape the bullets.

There is a museum, containing historic documents: statements of defiance and spite from the officials of British Raj, as well as declarations of several maverick Indian figures, including Rabindranath Tagore, one of the greatest writers of India, who threw his knighthood back in the face of the British oppressors, after he learned about the massacre.

There are old black and white photos of Punjabi people tied to the polls, their buttocks exposed, being flagged by shorts-wearing British soldiers, who were apparently enjoying their heinous acts.

There is also a statement of General Dyer himself. It is chilling, arrogant and unapologetic statement:

“I fired and continued to fire until the crowd dispersed, and I consider this is the least amount of firing which would produce the necessary moral and widespread effect it was my duty to produce if I was to justify my action. If more troops had been at hand the casualties would have been greater in proportion. It was no longer a question of merely dispersing the crowd, but one of producing a sufficient moral effect from a military point of view not only on those who were present, but more especially throughout the Punjab. There could be no question of undue severity.”

Not everyone in India is outraged by former crimes of the British Empire. Some want to forget and to “move on”, especially those closely linked to the establishment; to the new corporate and pro-Western India, where education is being privatized, mass media controlled by big business interests, and progressive ideologies buried under unsavory layers of greed.

At the grounds of Jallianwala Bagh, Anand P. Mishra, Professor at O. P. Jindal Global University, Haryana, spreads his arms:

“This happened almost 100 years ago and I don’t hold any grudges towards British, anymore.”

But when I approach Ms. Garima Sahata, a Punjabi student, she does not hide her feelings towards the British Empire and the West:

“I feel ager, thinking what they had done to our people. I think it is important for us to come here and to see the remnants of the massacre. I still feel angry towards the British people, even now… but in a different way… They are not killing us the same way, as they used to in the past, but they are killing us nevertheless.”


The British Empire was actually based on enforcing full submission and obedience on its local subjects, in all corners of the world; it was based on fear and terror, on disinformation, propaganda, supremacist concepts, and on shameless collaboration of the local “elites”. “Law and order” was maintained by using torture and extra-judiciary executions, “divide and rule” strategies, and by building countless prisons and concentration camps.

To kill 1.000 or more “niggers,” to borrow from the colorful, racist dictionary of Lloyd George, who was serving as British Prime Minister between 1916 and 1922, was never something that Western empires would feel ashamed of. For centuries, the British Kingdom was murdering merrily, all over Africa and the Middle East, as well as in the Punjab, Kerala, Gujarat, in fact all over the Sub-Continent. In London the acts of smashing unruly nations were considered as something “normal”, even praiseworthy. Commanders in charge of slaughtering thousands of people in the colonies were promoted, not demoted, and their statues have been decorating countless squares and government buildings.

The British Empire has been above the law. All rights to punish “locals” were reserved. But British citizens were almost never punished for their horrendous crimes committed in foreign lands.

When the Nazis grabbed power in Germany, they immediately began enjoying a dedicating following from the elites in the United Kingdom. It is because British colonialism and German Nazism were in essence not too different from each other.

Today’s Western Empire is clearly following its predecessor. Not much has changed. Technology improved, that is about all.


Standing at the monument of colonial carnage in Punjab, I recalled dozens of horrific crimes of the British Empire, committed all over the world:

I thought about those concentration camps in Africa, and about the stations where slaves who were first hunted down like animals were shackled and beaten, then put on boats and forced to undergo voyages to the “new world” – voyages that most of them never managed to survive. I thought about murder, torture, flogging, raping women and men, destruction of entire countries, tribes and families. It is all connected: colonialism, present-day riots in Baltimore, horrid ruins of Africa.

In Kenya, near Voi, I was shown a British prison for resistance cadres, which was surrounded by wilderness and dangerous animals. This is where the leaders of local rebellions were jailed, tortured and exterminated.

In Uganda, I was told stories about how British colonizers used to humiliate local people and break their pride: in the villages, they would hunt down the tallest and the strongest man; they would shackled him, beat him up, and then the British officer would rape him, sodomize him in public, so there would be no doubts left of who was in charge.

In the Middle East, people still remember those savage chemical bombings of the “locals”, the extermination of entire tribes. Winston Churchill made it clear, on several occasions:

“I do not understand the squeamishness about the use of gas,” he told the House of Commons during an address in the autumn of 1937.
 “I am strongly in favour of using poisonous gas against uncivilised tribes.”

In Malaya, I was told, as the Japanese were approaching, British soldiers were chaining locals to the cannons, forcing them to fight and die.

The Brits triggered countless famines all over India, killing dozens of millions. To them, Indian people were not humans. When Churchill was begged to send food to Bengal that was ravished by famine in 1943, he replied that it was their own fault for “breeding like rabbits” and that the plague was “merrily” culling the population. At least 3 million died.

Wherever the British Empire, or any other European empire, grabbed control over the territory – in Africa, Caribbean, the Middle East, Asia, in Sub-Continent, Oceania – horror and brutality reigned.


V. Arun Kumar, MPhil in International Organization and researcher at Jawaharlal Nehru University, expressed his feelings regarding Partition, doubtlessly one more terrible result of the British “divide and rule” policy:

“India and Pakistan, two children born out of the same mother’s womb have today reached at a juncture where no mother would bear. From their birth and to more than sixty years down the history, India and Pakistan has gained the label of archenemies. These two countries have fought numerous wars over a narrow thread that divides them – which they call as border. State machinery on the both sides has constructed massive hatred-mongering propaganda programs, which ensure constant creation of fear psychosis in the minds of people against the other. Even when two countries are not in actual war, they are always in a state of war. A visit to Wagah border between India and Pakistan, one can see the mockery of peace, when soldiers on the both side perform a war like aggressive drill manoeuvre while opening the gates at the border. And the sea of people on both sides enthusiastically claps shouting abusive slogans on the other country- forgetting that they are abusing their own siblings.”

Beautifully said, and so true!

Only 30 kilometers from Amritsar, one of the most grotesque events on earth takes place: “Lowering of the Flag” on the Indian/Pakistani border.

Here, what is often described as the perfectly choreographed expression of hate, takes place in front of thousands of visitors from both countries.

Wagah Border has even tribunes built to accommodate aggressive spectators. It goes everyday like this:

“Death to Pakistan! 
Long Live India!”
“Death to India! 
Long live Pakistan!”

“Hindustaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan Zindabad!!!!!!” They shout here, “Long Live India!!!!” and those endless spasms are immediately followed by barks glorifying India and insulting Pakistan. And vice versa.

Border guards, male and female, are then performing short marches, at a tremendously aggressive and fast pace, towards the border gate. The public, sick from the murderous heat and the fascist, nationalist idiocy, speeches and shouts, is roaring.

As I am made to sit on the pavement, right next to the border gate of Wagah, squeezed between two corpulent women wearing sweat-soaked saris, flies are buzzing all over my cameras. Here I feel hate being omnipresent: there is hate expressed by the Indian crowd towards Pakistan, hate of the border guards towards its own unruly crowd, even hate of the crowd towards me, a daring foreigner who came, most likely, to poke fun at this insane martial ceremony.

The issue is so explosive, that my friends from nearby Lahore conveniently “forgot” to supply me with their quote. Few people in New Delhi “forgot” as well.


Now, Punjab is split, because that old “divide and rule” scheme was applied here meticulously, as it was almost everywhere at the Sub-Continent.

The British never really left: they live in the minds of the Indian elites.

Punjab suffered terribly during the Partition, and later, too, from brutality of the Indian state. In fact, almost entire India is now suffering, unable to shake off those racist, religious and social prejudices.

Delhi behaves like a colonialist master in Kashmir (where it is committing one of the most brutal genocides on earth), the Northeast and in several other areas. Indian elites are almost as ruthless and barbaric as were the British colonizers; the faces changed, but the power system remained almost intact.

It goes without saying that the Indian elites, disciples and admirers of the British Raj, are treating its own people with similar spite and cruelty.


The seeds sown by the British Raj have been inherited by several successive states of the Sub-Continent. They are now growing, blooming into a tremendous toxic and murderous insanity. Instead of turning against the homicidal elites, the poor majority is yelling nationalist slogans.

Everything here is deeply connected: the colonial torture, the post-colonial genocides, the prostitution of the local elites, who are offering themselves to the Western rulers of the world, the over-militarization, the institutionalized spite for the poor and for the lower castes and classes.

Confusion is omnipresent. Words and terminology have lost their meanings. Dust, injustice, pain and insecurity are everywhere. Anyone who claims that colonialism is dead is either a liar or a madman.

And if this – the direct result of colonialism – is “democracy”, then we should all, immediately, take a bus in the opposite direction!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.

Thursday, April 30, 2015

To Play or Not to Play Israel: Roger tells Robbie Not to Endorse Israel's Deadly, Racist Policies

Roger Waters to Robbie Williams: “Your decision to play in Tel Aviv gives succor to Netanyahu and his regime, and endorses their deadly racist policies” 

by Roger Waters

Robbie Williams: One of the most horrifying incidents during Israel’s massive assault on Gaza last summer was the killing of four Palestinian boys playing soccer on a beach. This war crime was meticulously documented by human rights organizations and by journalists on the scene at the Al-Deira Hotel. NBC correspondent Ayman Mohyeldin tweeted that just minutes prior he had joined the children in their soccer game.

War-hardened journalists tweeted their eyewitness distress.

I bring up this gruesome scene because popular UK entertainer Robbie Williams, soon to play a May 2 concert in Tel Aviv, is known to be a huge soccer fan. He is also UNICEF’s UK ambassador and a declared supporter of its Children in Danger campaign. Yet, sadly, when it comes to Palestinian children, like those killed on that beach in Gaza that day, Williams is showing a chilling indifference to their well-being.

London Palestine Action has pointed to his hypocrisy in that he purports to represent UNICEF while preparing to play a gig in Tel Aviv:

 “We hope UNICEF will remain steadfast in defense of children’s rights, including Palestinian children, and ask Robbie Williams to either cancel his Tel Aviv show or, step down as a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador…”

UNICEF, as declared in its mission statement, insists that “the survival, protection and development of children are universal development imperatives that are integral to human progress.”

Dear Robbie, playing this concert on May 2 would be giving your tacit support to the deaths of over 500 Palestinian children last summer in Gaza, including the four soccer players on the beach in Gaza, and condoning the arrest and abuse of hundreds of Palestinian children each year living under Israeli occupation, as has been documented by UNICEF itself.

To declare my own history, I confess I myself played a gig in Israel in 2006 before I knew any better. At that time and afterward, moved as I was, I listened to voices from all sides and made it my business to learn as much as I could about the situation in Israel and Palestine. I traveled widely in Israel and the West Bank and now nine years later having done my research, I have come to the conclusion that BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) is the most viable, peaceful way to end the suffering of, and forge a better future for, all the people of the Holy Land. I encourage you, Robbie, and all other artists, not to play in Israel until Israel complies with international law and recognizes the basic human rights of all the people of the region, including the Palestinian people, which, Robbie, includes Palestinian children playing soccer.

Since my 2006 gig, the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement has emerged as a dynamic force to be reckoned with. Covered heavily in mainstream media around the world, BDS has succeeded in publicizing the Palestinian people’s predicament, their lack of freedom, equality and access to justice.

Now, in 2015, there is really no excuse for musicians agreeing to play in Tel Aviv. The jury of world opinion is in; global civil society supports equal rights for all. We are approaching the same tipping point as when artists lent their support to the anti-apartheid movement in South Africa.

Those innocent soccer-playing children in Gaza were the victims of a violent indiscriminate Israeli attack.

That was more than nine months ago. Since then, one of those kids, 12-year-old Montasser Abu Bakr, who was playing alongside his brother, and three friends, has attempted suicide and is regularly subject to uncontrollable fits of screaming and sobbing. This is one of the children whose “survival, protection and development” you, Robbie, have promised to uphold. Tragically, it is too late for Montasser’s dead brother and the other three children needlessly slain that day. But, Robbie, you can still stand up and send a powerful message as an individual and as a genuine human rights ambassador, that “business as usual” with Israel is unacceptable until such time as our Palestinian brothers and sisters are afforded equal human rights under international law and their children are not subject to this kind of obscene random slaughter.

As a UNICEF ambassador and a man of humanity and honor, you have, in my opinion, a duty to respect the picket line created by Palestinian civil society and a growing number of engaged musicians, artists and academics around the globe. Not just Ken Loach and Stephen Hawking and Elvis Costello and Brian Eno and me, but all the other artists, thousands and counting, standing up for the oppressed and the occupied, those subjugated people that Israeli officials describe as needing to be made to “lose weight, but not to starve to death” or, worse, as grass to be mowed.

To be clear, Robbie, whether intended or not, your decision to play in Tel Aviv gives succor to Netanyahu and his regime, and endorses their exceptionalist and deadly racist policies.

So, I say, please, Robbie, look inside yourself and find the soccer fan, the man, the father who can feel another father’s loss.

If you cannot see yourself in the eyes of a Palestinian father, you should do the decent thing and resign from UNICEF, or failing that, UNICEF should let you go.


Roger Waters.

PS: To all of you reading this who care about children, thank you, we are bound together by the love we have for children, not just Montasser Abu Bakr, his brother and his friends, but the other children in Gaza and the West Bank and Israel and all the other children all over the world who should have the right to live and play in peace and safety. Our love and goodwill extends to each of them equally as we strive to encourage the creation of a Holy Land worthy of that name.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Tesla Tests the Battery Business

Tesla Could Be Changing The Dynamics Of Global Energy

by Michael McDonald -

Tesla's announcement last week about creating a new line of batteries for use by businesses, consumers, and the electrical grid at large is a game-changer for the industry. Currently, when individuals or companies need back-up power, they usually rely on generators. Effective battery storage for large amounts of energy would be a game changer in that it would enable a separation of generation and use of energy produced through clean fuels like solar and wind power.

The big problem with solar and wind right now is that the energy is only useful when it is actually produced and, because a company cannot modify generation to correspond with demand needs, any excess power has to be sold back to the market for immediate use. Tesla's new batteries could go a long way towards solving this problem. It is likely that Solar City, for example, would be very interested in any home application for large scale battery technology.

The unique differentiator here is not necessarily Tesla's technology. The company certainly has state of the art tech, but what might make battery production feasible is the economies of scale that Tesla is looking to capture in battery production. Tesla's new gigafactory will be an enormous production facility when it is completed and the facility should be able to produce 50 GWh of annual battery production eventually. This level of production should enable mass production of batteries at a fraction of the current cost.

But beyond Tesla, these economies of scale could also have benefits for other firms in the same industry. To the extent that Tesla's production capabilities create new demand for component parts, the result would be lower costs for inputs in batteries. As supply costs fall, battery production costs across the industry would fall also leading to increased quantity demanded by consumers and businesses.

Put differently, when Edison invented the light bulb, the standard method for producing vase shaped glass vessels was very different than what it is today. Producing a vase by traditional glass blowing is expensive and time consuming. So if a person had to make just one or two light bulbs, it would likely take hours of work. Once millions of light bulbs are needed, the process becomes industrialized and the cost per bulb falls to pennies. The same principle applies to the economics of battery production, and that already has even competing producers salivating.

Batteries already may be much more profitable than most people realize, and so if Tesla can open up new markets for its products, it could drive the company's earnings dramatically higher. The exact level of profit will depend on many different factors of course, but assuming that Tesla can sell its batteries based on charge capacity, then the profits could be astronomical. Tesla recently increased the price on some of its vehicles by $4,000 in concert with a 10KWh increase in battery capacity.

This implies that the company thinks 1KWh of battery capacity is worth roughly $400. 1 GWh is equal to 1 million KWh and Tesla's new factory should be able to produce 50 GWh annually when at full production. This would, in turn, imply $20B in annual revenue from output produced by the factory. Of course this value will vary dramatically based on many factors including battery size and usage, but the raw figures are mind-boggling nonetheless and suggest the magnitude of the market potential here.

Even if Tesla ultimately ends up selling battery capacity for one-tenth this amount, then the result would still be a huge boost to the company's bottom line.

Privileged America Learning; Racism Is Real

Racism Is Real: The Real Reason Behind Baltimore Uprising

by Robert Greenwald and Vanessa Baden - Huffington Post

The death of Freddie Gray at the hands of Baltimore police sparked outrage and protests by thousands of Baltimore residents and people of color around the world. It seems that almost daily, the headline "Unarmed Black Man Killed By Police" has pulled back the veil on what many white Americans, liberal and conservative alike, have been blinded to by privilege: racism is real in American society. Our new film, which we have shared here, highlights it.

With the 2008 election of Barack Obama, the success of entrepreneurs like Oprah and Tyler Perry, and the increase in African Americans attendance in college, about half of white American's have wrongly concluded that the US has entered a "post-racial" phase, where race is no longer the determining factor in inequality.

This couldn't be further from the truth.

The crux of much debate surrounding the death of Freddie Gray and the subsequent civil unrest by both moderate and conservative media and pundits lay the blame squarely on the backs of the protestors and victims of such assaults. They contend that these deaths and protests are a result of those unwilling to take responsibility for their actions. That, criminal activity and arrests are a result of poor choices and poor moral character. That, in this post racial society, everyone has equal ability to change their circumstances if only they try hard enough.

What happens when we try to qualify those beliefs?

Well, we find that blacks and whites use marijuana at similar rates, but blacks are four times more likely to get arrested for it, and six times more likely to go to prison. This certainly proves that arrest has a whole lot more to do with what you look like than the actual crime.

Or what about when we compare resumes, and find that identical resumes sent to the same employer have a 50 percent less chance of being called if they have a "black sounding" name. This certainly demonstrates unequal ability to change your circumstances.

Want to complain about all of this to your local congress person? Good luck. People with black sounding names consistently see less responses from their representatives -- in both parties. So much for taking responsibility!

The truth is, Jim Crow grew up, cleaned up, and started writing laws. Laws that create institutionalized racism without having to have a sign that reads "whites only." Our current policies and criminal justice system do that implicitly. To get a real handle on what is going on in Baltimore, Ferguson and around the nation; to understand why people feel stuck, angry, and frustrated, we have to be willing to face the fact that racism has not disappeared. It has instead morphed into less conspicuous white privilege and social and economic inequality.

One that many American whites are unwilling to face out of guilt and the belief that they have somehow "earned" a position in life that they have, in fact, inherited by virtue of simply being white. At Brave New Films, we have produced a short film entitled Racism is Real that can be seen here. It highlights institutionalized racism in America. It is by no means exhaustive. But it is a start. If America wants to hold onto the belief that what we inherit is unabashedly what we deserve, then we must be willing to acknowledge that we force minorities to inherit inequality at no fault of their own.

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If Assad Should Fall: Exploring the Goals of the Saud/Israel Bloc

Syria’s Nightmarish Narrative

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

April 27, 2015

The Saudi-Israeli alliance, in league with other hard-line Sunni countries, is helping Al-Qaeda affiliates advance toward gaining either victory or at least safe havens in Syria and Yemen, highlighting unresolved contradictions in President Barack Obama’s policies in the Middle East.

Fueled by a surge of support from Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Turkey – and with Israel striking at Syrian government allies – Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and Al-Qaeda’s hyper-brutal spinoff, the Islamic State, are making major advances in Syria with some analysts now predicting the likely collapse of the relatively secular government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Saudi Arabia and Israel have made clear over the past few years that they regard the overthrow of the Iranian-backed Assad government as a geopolitical priority even if it results in a victory by Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State. But Obama, who has been unwilling or unable to rein in the Saudi-Israeli alliance, would then have to decide what to do with Islamic terrorists dominating a major Mideast nation.

Some of these Sunni radicals have shown that they will move aggressively toward slaughtering minority groups that they consider infidels, including Christians, Alawites and Shiites. The terrorists could leave the streets of major Syrian cities running red with blood – and give Al-Qaeda a solid platform from which to launch terrorist attacks against the West.

How Obama or his successor might respond to that is uncertain but it would be difficult for any American president to sit back and do nothing. Yet, dispatching another U.S. military expeditionary force to Syria to dislodge Al-Qaeda or the Islamic State from Damascus and across Syria would likely be a fool’s errand resulting in massive loss of life, costing trillions of dollars and promising little success.

Meanwhile, the neocon-dominated mainstream U.S. news media is already pushing the narrative that Obama’s failure was that he didn’t intervene earlier to overthrow the Assad regime so some “moderate” rebels could have taken power.

But the existence of a significant “moderate” rebel army was always a fiction. As Obama noted in a frank interview with New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman in August 2014, the notion that arming the rebels would have made a difference has “always been a fantasy.”

Obama explained:

“This idea that we could provide some light arms or even more sophisticated arms to what was essentially an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth, and that they were going to be able to battle not only a well-armed state but also a well-armed state backed by Russia, backed by Iran, a battle-hardened Hezbollah, that was never in the cards.”

Obama added that his administration had trouble finding, training and arming enough secular Syrian rebels to make a difference: “There’s not as much capacity as you would hope.”

Indeed, much of the U.S.-backed Free Syrian Army threw in its lot – and their U.S.-supplied weapons – with Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front or the Islamic State in 2013. After that, Obama’s only realistic choice was to strike a pragmatic political agreement with Assad and cooperate with Iran and Russia in reclaiming territory from Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State.

Getting Rid of Assad

But that option proved politically impossible because the Israel Lobby and American neocons continued to press for Assad’s overthrow. They were aided by Obama’s unwillingness to release U.S. intelligence that undercut some of the major anti-Assad themes dominating the mainstream U.S. media. For instance, Obama could have revealed doubts within the U.S. intelligence community that Assad’s regime was responsible for the infamous sarin gas attack outside Damascus on Aug. 21, 2013.

Blaming Assad for the sarin attack, which killed hundreds of civilians, was a valuable part of the neocon narrative that prevented any détente with Assad. Yet, even as more evidence emerged that the attack was likely a provocation committed by rebel extremists, Obama balked at updating the initial rush to judgment – nine days after the event – fingering Assad’s forces.

As recently as this month, the Obama administration was still handing out those initial accusations to CBS’ “60 Minutes” and other mainstream media outlets, which simply regurgitate the outdated intelligence data rather than examine the newer evidence that points to a rebel “false-flag” operation designed to draw the U.S. military into the Syrian civil war on the rebel side. [See’s “A Fact-Resistant ‘Group Think’ on Syria.”]

Though Obama pulled back in 2013 from bombing the Syrian military, which could have opened the gates of Damascus to Al-Qaeda and/or the Islamic State, the President hasn’t been willing to override the “regime change” desires of his State Department, which remains influenced by neocons and their sidekicks, the liberal interventionists.

Now, despite the growing risk of an Al-Qaeda or Islamic State victory in Syria, Obama seems frozen by indecision over what to do, hemmed in by the Israel Lobby, the oil-rich Saudis and neocon politicians and opinion-leaders in Official Washington.

But the dangers of an Islamic terror victory in Syria grow by the day. In an article entitled “Rebel resurgence puts Syrian regime in peril,” the Washington Post’s Liz Sly reported on Monday that “A surge of rebel gains in Syria is overturning long-held assumptions about the durability of President Bashar al-Assad’s regime, which now appears in greater peril than at any time in the past three years.

“The capture Saturday of the town of Jisr al-Shughour in northern Idlib province was just the latest in a string of battlefield victories by rebel forces, which have made significant advances in both the north and the south of the country. …

“The battlefield shifts come at a time when the Obama administration has set aside the crisis in Syria to focus on its chief priorities: defeating the Islamic State militant group in Iraq and concluding a nuclear deal with Iran. Yet the pace of events in Syria may force the United States to refocus on the unresolved war, which remains at the heart of the turmoil engulfing the Middle East, analysts say.

“Iran backs ­Assad, Saudi Arabia backs the rebels, and a shift in the balance of power in Syria could have profound repercussions for the conflicts in Iraq and Yemen. ‘We’re seeing a game changer right now in Syria,’ said Jamal Khashoggi, a prominent Saudi journalist. ‘I think we are going to see an end to the Assad regime, and we have to think now about what will happen the day after, because the day after is near.’ …

“The revival of rebel fortunes is attributed to a large degree to the recent rapprochement between a newly assertive Saudi Arabia and its erstwhile rivals for influence over the rebels — Turkey and Qatar.

“Since inheriting the throne in January, Saudi King Salman has moved forcefully to challenge the expanding regional influence of Iran, Saudi Arabia’s biggest foe, most publicly by embarking on an air war against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen. He has also acted to shore up the flagging and deeply divided rebels in Syria, in coordination with Qatar and Turkey, Khashoggi said.

“The result has been an unexpectedly cohesive rebel coalition called the Army of Conquest that is made up of al-Qaeda affiliate Jabhat al-Nusra, an assortment of mostly Islamist brigades and a small number of more moderate battalions. The coalition, which launched last month, has proved more effective than expected. …

“In a commentary for the Middle East Institute in the past week, Robert S. Ford, a former U.S. envoy to Syria, said a regime collapse cannot be ruled out. The regime’s schisms, its battlefield setbacks and its manpower shortages ‘are all signs of weakness,’ he wrote.

‘We may be seeing signs of the beginning of their end.’”

More Israeli Airstrikes

Meanwhile, Israel has reportedly resumed airstrikes against Syrian military bases near Lebanon, possibly aimed at Lebanese Hezbollah forces cooperating with the Assad government in battling Sunni rebels. While refusing to comment directly on these reported airstrikes, Israeli officials have vowed to prevent Syria from transferring sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah.

An earlier Israeli airstrike killed a number of Hezbollah fighters and an Iranian general who was in Syria assisting Assad’s military. Israel also has arranged what amounts to a non-aggression pact with Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front along the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, with Israel even providing hospital care for Nusra fighters who then return to the battlefield.

More importantly, Israel has turned loose its powerful Israel Lobby in the United States to rally Republicans and many Democrats to obstruct President Obama’s efforts to work out an agreement with Iran to limit its nuclear program and clear the way for a more constructive relationship with the Shiite-ruled country.

Obama’s overtures toward Iran have alarmed Saudi Arabia, which views itself as leading the Sunni faction in the Middle East. The Saudi disdain for Iran even has led to the Saudis joining sides with Israel in an odd-couple relationship, since both countries now view Iran as their principal adversary.

As this relationship firmed up, Israel even began voicing a preference for Al-Qaeda’s militants over the relatively secular Assad government, which was viewed as the protectors of Alawites, Shiites, Christians and other Syrian minorities terrified of the Saudi-backed Sunni extremists.

In September 2013, in one of the most explicit expressions of Israel’s views, Israeli Ambassador to the United States Michael Oren, then a close adviser to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, told the Jerusalem Post that Israel favored the Sunni extremists over Assad.

“The greatest danger to Israel is by the strategic arc that extends from Tehran, to Damascus to Beirut. And we saw the Assad regime as the keystone in that arc,” Oren told the Jerusalem Post in an interview.

“We always wanted Bashar Assad to go, we always preferred the bad guys who weren’t backed by Iran to the bad guys who were backed by Iran.”

He said this was the case even if the “bad guys” were affiliated with Al-Qaeda. Oren expanded on his position in June 2014 at an Aspen Institute conference. Then, speaking as a former ambassador, Oren said Israel would even prefer a victory by the Islamic State, which was massacring captured Iraqi soldiers and beheading Westerners, than the continuation of the Iranian-backed Assad in Syria.

“From Israel’s perspective, if there’s got to be an evil that’s got to prevail, let the Sunni evil prevail,” Oren said.

On Oct. 1, 2013, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu hinted at the new Israeli-Saudi relationship in his United Nations General Assembly speech, which was largely devoted to excoriating Iran over its nuclear program and threatening a unilateral Israeli military strike.

Amid the bellicosity, Netanyahu dropped in a largely missed clue about the evolving power relationships in the Middle East, saying: “The dangers of a nuclear-armed Iran and the emergence of other threats in our region have led many of our Arab neighbors to recognize, finally recognize, that Israel is not their enemy. And this affords us the opportunity to overcome the historic animosities and build new relationships, new friendships, new hopes.”

The next day, Israel’s Channel 2 TV news reported that senior Israeli security officials had met with a high-level Gulf state counterpart in Jerusalem, believed to be Prince Bandar bin Sultan, the former Saudi ambassador to the United States who was then head of Saudi intelligence.

The reality of this unlikely alliance has even reached the mainstream U.S. media. For instance, Time magazine correspondent Joe Klein described the new coziness in an article in the Jan. 19, 2015 issue: “On May 26, 2014, an unprecedented public conversation took place in Brussels. Two former high-ranking spymasters of Israel and Saudi Arabia – Amos Yadlin and Prince Turki al-Faisal – sat together for more than an hour, talking regional politics in a conversation moderated by the Washington Post’s David Ignatius.

“They disagreed on some things, like the exact nature of an Israel-Palestine peace settlement, and agreed on others: the severity of the Iranian nuclear threat, the need to support the new military government in Egypt, the demand for concerted international action in Syria. The most striking statement came from Prince Turki. He said the Arabs had ‘crossed the Rubicon’ and ‘don’t want to fight Israel anymore.’”

Rallying Congress

During Netanyahu’s March 3 speech to a joint session of Congress, he further indicated Israel’s preference for the Saudi-backed jihadists over Iranian allies in the Syrian government. He urged the U.S. government to shift its focus from fighting Al-Qaeda and the Islamic State to fighting Iran.

Netanyahu depicted the danger from the Islamic State as relatively minor – with its “butcher knives, captured weapons and YouTube” – compared to Iran, which he accused of “gobbling up the nations” of the Middle East.

To the applause of Congress, he claimed “Iran now dominates four Arab capitals, Baghdad, Damascus, Beirut and Sanaa. And if Iran’s aggression is left unchecked, more will surely follow.” His choice of capitals was peculiar, however, because Iran took none of those capitals by force and, indeed, was simply supporting the embattled government of Syria and was allied with Shiite elements of the government of Lebanon.

As for Iraq, Iran’s allies were installed not by Iran but by President George W. Bush via the U.S. invasion. And, in Yemen, a long-festering sectarian conflict has led to the capture of Sanaa by Houthi rebels who are Zaydi Shiites, an offshoot of Shia Islam that is actually closer to some Sunni sects. The Houthis deny they are agents of Iran, and Western intelligence services believe Iran’s support has consisted mostly of some funding.

However, as part of the Saudi-Israeli campaign against Iranian influence, Saudi Arabia has bombed Yemeni cities from the air using sophisticated American-supplied aircraft while the U.S. Navy has supported a blockade of Yemen from the sea, including this past weekend turning back nine Iranian ships carrying relief supplies because of unconfirmed suspicions that there might be weapons onboard as well.

Though the Saudi leadership had agreed to peace talks urged by President Obama, the Saudi air force resumed its bombing of the Yemeni capital of Sanaa and other targets on Sunday. Despite U.S. intelligence support, the Saudi airstrikes have been largely indiscriminate killing hundreds of civilians and shattering some of Yemen’s ancient cities.

Another effect of the Saudi airstrikes has been to bolster the cause of “Al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula,” an affiliate that the U.S. government has identified as the most dangerous Al-Qaeda branch in terms of sponsoring attacks on the West. With the Houthi rebels under Saudi bombardment, AQAP has succeeded in seizing more territory in the east and overrunning a prison to free Al-Qaeda militants.

The most immediate and severe crisis, however, appears to be unfolding in Syria where Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front and the bloodthirsty Islamic State appear to be gaining the upper hand, with military support from Saudi Arabia and political cover from Israel. [For more on this topic, see’s “Did Money Seal the Israeli-Saudi Alliance?”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

Execution by Neglect? Mumia Abu-Jamal Needs Care Now!

Mumia Abu-Jamal Needs Medical Care Now! 

by Prison Radio

April 29, 2015

Since Sunday the 26th Mumia has been held incommunicado at the hands of prison officials.

Watch the Video on Mumia's Condition

On Monday morning Mumia Abu-Jamal was ordered back to the infirmary at SCI Mahanoy in Pennsylvania. All that day his attorney Bret Grote was at the prison. No visitors were allowed, he and Pam Africa could not see Mumia.

There has been no contact with Mumia since Sunday, by his family, doctors, lawyers or supporters and there is grave concern that his condition, untreated and mistreated by prison infirmary doctors, could result in his death.

Watch the Video on Mumia's Condition.

All Out to the Capital

The Dept. of Corrections has turned down Mumia's petition to be given a accurate diagnosis of his condition(s) and his need to be seen by appropriate medical specialists. His doctor has been prevented from talking to treatment staff and visiting Mumia. On Wednesday, April 29th we will be holding a press conference at Gov. Tom Wolf's office in Harrisburg, PA at the Capitol Rotunda at 11am.

At this point we do not know what is happening with Mumia. Keep your eyes on Mumia! Demand family visitation, and legal access. We must speak out for our brother Mumia, just as he has always spoken out for us.

Rise For Mumia

Call now to demand freedom and medical care for Mumia:

Often when we call in, prison and state officials have taken their lines off the hook. Know that every single action matters, even when they don't pick up. If they don't answer, please leave a voicemail:

John Wetzel, PA Secretary of Corrections: (717) 728-4109
Governor Tom Wolf: (717) 787-2500
SCI Mahanoy: (570) 773-2158, then dial zero
for a more complete list of addresses and faxes etc visit

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Playing on Empty: Orioles Host Ghost Game

No Entrance: Baseball - Baltimore Style

by Marti Hiken and Luke Hiken

What if they played a professional baseball game, but excluded the public? Sound Kafkaesque? Welcome to Baltimore, 2015!

To close a baseball game to the public and lock the fans out is representative of the state of “democracy” in the United States today.

The Baseball Czars decided that playing to rows of empty seats was more important and consistent with “American values” than having an actual baseball game. First, Baltimore issued a curfew for the citizens of the city; then they closed their schools; and then they closed the ballpark.

Well, who is baseball for, anyway? Certainly not for the fans. The billionaire owners are going to make their “employees” comply with their contract obligations and play, even to an empty stadium, with nobody there to root for either team. Money talks!

When they close the ballpark, will the “Stars and Stripes” be unfurled by the Baltimore police? Will it not be flown? What will happen when “the bombs bursting in air” rings out loud and clear over the loudspeaker to a population that is not invited to the game?

It makes one wonder whether the decision to play without fans is characteristic of our democracy: citizens need not attend. Corporate billionaires select candidates from both parties who will protect their interests, and then the rest of a passive electorate gets to choose which appointee they prefer.

This is similar to our policy decision-making processes, abroad and at home. The public has no voice as to whom we go to war with or what kind of weapons we use. We have no more say in whether a baseball game will be played in one of our nation’s cities than we do over military and CIA/NSA insiders who determine who lives, dies, and fights. We have no say over the creation of jobs in our communities; likewise, we have no say over the police and their continued killings of African-Americans every week.

The sounds of an empty stadium will be deafening.

Ready America? Play ball.

April 28, 2015

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Stefan Christoff, Linn Washington Jr., Janine Bandcroft Apr. 29, 2015

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

We've all seen the Anti-austerity demonstrations, and police riots used to disperse them, in Europe and the growing protests in the United States against systemic state violence aimed primarily at the poor and people of colour, but what about what's happening right here in Canada?

Last month, thousands were in the streets of Montreal and Quebec City manifesting and expressing their discontent with deep social spending cuts - a made in Quebec austerity plan. Few in the rest of Canada however saw or read anything, save some cursory and dismissive accounts in major press outlets. True, English Canada is kept largely in the dark on most Quebec issues, but was there more to the silence this time?

Listen. Hear.

Stefan Christoff is a Montreal-based writer, community organizer, musician and publisher of 'Le Fond de l’air est Rouge,' an anthology of texts about Quebec's 2012-13 Spring, Winter, Spring, and Summer of discontent. Written from the streets and cafes and produced in collaboration with, Media Co-op, and Al Jazeera, Le Fond chronicles the movement that knocked premier Jean Charest from office, and apparently has not entirely run its course as popular unrest roils yet, just below the media radar.

Stefan Christoff in the first half.

And; there's nothing below the surface in Baltimore now. The national guard was called out Tuesday following clashes with police by citizens upset by the gruesome death in custody of Freddie Gray. Gray suffered a broken spine following his arrest by Baltimore police. The circumstances of his injury are still unclear; what is clear however is the anger felt in black communities across the U.S. as a spate of police killings of unarmed black men breaks through corporate press filters, thanks mainly to the proliferation of cell phone video and social media.

Breaking the media silence for decades too has been Mumia Abu Jamal, a Philly-based radio journalist who despite his 1981 conviction for the murder of a policeman (in a highly controversial case) produced radio commentaries with Prison Radio from death row for thirty years, and continues, now his death sentence has been reversed, to criticise the systemic racism of American Justice. Mumia was rushed to hospital earlier this month, suffering a coma due to undiagnosed diabetes. Though out of immediate danger now, the denial of proper medical care to the troublesome activist is of concern to his many supporters.

Linn Washington Jr. is a journalist, educator, and co-director of the Multimedia Urban Reporting Lab, or MURL, that sends journalism students into neighbourhoods not usually featured in mainstream reportage. Linn is an Associate Professor of Journalism at Temple University, a columnist for the Philadelphia Tribune, (America's oldest African-American owned newspaper), and is a regular contributor to the web news site, In addition to two journalism degrees from Temple, Linn also holds a law degree earned at Yale.

Linn Washington and the The Public Execution of Mumia Abu Jamal in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here at the bottom of the hour to bring us up to speed with some of what's good to do in and around our town in the coming week. But first, Stefan Christoff and English-Canada's press wall maintaining Quebec's media solitude.

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:, and now heard at Simon Fraser University's . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.