Saturday, November 21, 2015

A Boat Chase in Okinawa

Boat chase on the seas of Okinawa

by Dr Hakim

16th October 2015

The sea shells

I picked some sea shells at Henoko in Okinawa. Henoko is where the U.S. is relocating their military base against the wishes of 76.1% of Okinawans.

I gave the sea shells as gifts to some of the Afghan Peace Volunteers to help them remember Okinawa’s story.

“Hold the sea shells just next to your ears. It is said that you can hear the waves and the stories from the shores of Okinawa,” I began, as I recounted my witness of the nonviolent efforts of ordinary Japanese to end the more than 70 years of U.S. military bases in their midst, including of Ohata being hurt by the Japanese police when he had locked arms with other Japanese in a peaceful sit-in protest at the gates of Henoko base.

Kitsu, an elder monk who organized the Okinawa Peace Walk I was participating in, remarked during a dinner of sticky rice, pickled radishes and seaweed, “Hakim, you remind me of the ‘dugong’!”

I was amused to think that I resembled the somewhat strange-looking, endangered manatee that lives on a certain species of seaweed found in the seas of Henoko.

Perhaps, it’s only when we realize the similarities we share with creatures like the ‘dugong’ that we can care more about their possible extinction. The dugong’s survival may now hinge on the U.S. government’s ‘full-spectrum dominance’ designs on Asia, as the dugong’s natural habitat is being usurped by the construction of a U.S. military base.

I had the privilege of joining a team of scientists and activists who take their ‘Peace Boats’ out daily to the area of sea cordoned off by the U.S./Japanese authorities with orange buoys.

The Peace Boats had flags which read, “ سلام”, meaning “Peace” is Arabic, a word also used by Afghans in greeting one another. I was reminded that the U.S. military bases in Okinawa and Afghanistan serve as launching pads for the same Great Game being played out in Asia.

Two elderly Japanese ladies were regulars on the boat, holding signs which said, “Stop Illegal Work”.

I thought, “Who made the U.S. military the ‘legal’ masters over the seas of Okinawa, over the ‘dugong’ whose survival they are threatening?” The U.S. already has 32 military bases on the island, taking up almost 20% of the entire land area of Okinawa.

The cold spray of the waves refreshed me. The soft beat of the drum played by Kamoshita, another organizer of the Okinawa Peace Walk, gave a prayerful rhythm.

In the horizon were Japanese canoeists who were also doing their daily protests. The captain of our boat drove the boat across and over the cordon.

Boats of the Japanese Coast Guard and the Okinawa Defense Bureau approached and surrounded us.

They were everywhere.

They filmed us as we filmed them. They issued warnings on their loudhailers.Suddenly, as our boat picked up speed, a Japanese Coast Guard boat gave chase.

I felt as if I was in a Hollywood movie. I couldn’t believe that they were so intensely averse to a couple of old Japanese ladies, a few scientists and reporters and some peace builders!

What didn’t they want us to see? Hidden nuclear warheads? What orders were they given by the Japanese and U.S. authorities?

The Japanese Coast Guard ‘chasing’ us

I held my camera steady as their boat seemed to ‘nosedive’ towards us.

Bang! Swoosh!

Their boat hit the side of ours. Water showered over us. I covered my camera with my Borderfree Blue Scarf, and wondered for an instant if the coast guard would soon be boarding our boat.

I sensed what my Japanese friends felt, that instead of being in Okinawa to protect the people, they are chasing the people off from their own land and seas. I saw a global military machine coming at us on a normalized, business-as-usual excuse of ‘defense’, and I understood the roots of my grandfather’s killing by the Japanese military in World War II.

This was merely one of many infringements by the U.S./Japan military on the open seas, oblivious to the ‘dugongs’ and natural life within and around the waters.

Using a magnifier viewing goggle which I placed over the side of our boat, I could see a little of the beautiful coral and its ecosystem. Unfortunately, these may be destroyed by the U.S. military with Japanese tax-payer money, unless the people of the world join Okinawans to say ‘No base! No War!”

This is what war, war bases and war preparations do.

They hurt the people.

They ignore the seas.

The people of Okinawa and Japan will keep resisting nonviolently. Their struggle for peace is ours.

A full photo essay can be seen at

Dr. Hakim, ( Dr. Teck Young, Wee ) is a medical doctor from Singapore who has done humanitarian and social enterprise work in Afghanistan for the past 10 years, including being a mentor to the Afghan Peace Volunteers, an inter-ethnic group of young Afghans dedicated to building non-violent alternatives to war. He is the 2012 recipient of the International Pfeffer Peace Prize.

Gird Your Loins and Stuff Your Mattress: Bail-Ins and the War on Cash

Hang on to Your Wallets: Negative Interest, the War on Cash, and the $10 Trillion Bail-in

by Ellen Brown - Dissident Voice

In uncertain times, “cash is king,” but central bankers are systematically moving to eliminate that option. Is it really about stimulating the economy? Or is there some deeper, darker threat afoot?

Remember those old ads showing a senior couple lounging on a warm beach, captioned “Let your money work for you”? Or the scene in Mary Poppins where young Michael is being advised to put his tuppence in the bank, so that it can compound into “all manner of private enterprise,” including “bonds, chattels, dividends, shares, shipyards, amalgamations …”?

That may still work if you’re a Wall Street banker, but if you’re an ordinary saver with your money in the bank, you may soon be paying the bank to hold your funds rather than the reverse.

Four European central banks – the European Central Bank, the Swiss National Bank, Sweden’s Riksbank, and Denmark’s Nationalbank – have now imposed negative interest rates on the reserves they hold for commercial banks; and discussion has turned to whether it’s time to pass those costs on to consumers. The Bank of Japan and the Federal Reserve are still at ZIRP (Zero Interest Rate Policy), but several Fed officials have also begun calling for NIRP (negative rates).

The stated justification for this move is to stimulate “demand” by forcing consumers to withdraw their money and go shopping with it. When an economy is struggling, it is standard practice for a central bank to cut interest rates, making saving less attractive. This is supposed to boost spending and kick-start an economic recovery.

That is the theory, but central banks have already pushed the prime rate to zero, and still their economies are languishing. To the uninitiated observer, that means the theory is wrong and needs to be scrapped. But not to our intrepid central bankers, who are now experimenting with pushing rates below zero.

Locking the Door to Bank Runs: The Cashless Society

The problem with imposing negative interest on savers, as explained in the UK Telegraph, is that “there’s a limit, what economists called the ‘zero lower bound’. Cut rates too deeply, and savers would end up facing negative returns. In that case, this could encourage people to take their savings out of the bank and hoard them in cash. This could slow, rather than boost, the economy.”

Again, to the ordinary observer, this would seem to signal that negative interest rates won’t work and the approach needs to be abandoned. But not to our undaunted central bankers, who have chosen instead to plug this hole in their leaky theory by moving to eliminate cash as an option. If your only choice is to keep your money in a digital account in a bank and spend it with a bank card or credit card or checks, negative interest can be imposed with impunity. This is already happening in Sweden, and other countries are close behind. As reported on

The War on Cash is advancing on all fronts. One region that has hogged the headlines with its war against physical currency is Scandinavia. Sweden became the first country to enlist its own citizens as largely willing guinea pigs in a dystopian economic experiment: negative interest rates in a cashless society. As Credit Suisse reports, no matter where you go or what you want to purchase, you will find a small ubiquitous sign saying “Vi hanterar ej kontanter” (“We don’t accept cash”) …

The Lesson of Gesell’s Decaying Currency

Whether negative interests will actually stimulate an economic recovery, however, remains in doubt. Proponents of the theory cite Silvio Gesell and the Wörgl experiment of the 1930s. As explained by Charles Eisenstein in Sacred Economics:

The pioneering theoretician of negative-interest money was the German-Argentinean businessman Silvio Gesell, who called it “free-money” (Freigeld) …. The system he proposed in his 1906 masterwork, The Natural Economic Order, was to use paper currency to which a stamp costing a small fraction of the note’s value had to be affixed periodically. This effectively attached a maintenance cost to monetary wealth.

… [In 1932], the depressed town of Wörgl, Austria, issued its own stamp scrip inspired by Gesell …. The Wörgl currency was by all accounts a huge success. Roads were paved, bridges built, and back taxes were paid. The unemployment rate plummeted and the economy thrived, attracting the attention of nearby towns. Mayors and officials from all over the world began to visit Wörgl until, as in Germany, the central government abolished the Wörgl currency and the town slipped back into depression.

… [T]he Wörgl currency bore a demurrage rate [a maintenance charge for carrying money] of 1 percent per month. Contemporary accounts attributed to this the very rapid velocity of the currencies’ circulation. Instead of generating interest and growing, accumulation of wealth became a burden, much like possessions are a burden to the nomadic hunter-gatherer. As theorized by Gesell, money afflicted with loss-inducing properties ceased to be preferred over any other commodity as a store of value.

There is a critical difference, however, between the Wörgl currency and the modern-day central bankers’ negative interest scheme. The Wörgl government first issued its new “free money,” getting it into the local economy and increasing purchasing power, before taxing a portion of it back. And the proceeds of the stamp tax went to the city, to be used for the benefit of the taxpayers. As Eisenstein observes:

It is impossible to prove … that the rejuvenating effects of these currencies came from demurrage and not from the increase in the money supply …

Today’s central bankers are proposing to tax existing money, diminishing spending power without first building it up. And the interest will go to private bankers, not to the local government.

Consumers today already have very little discretionary money. Imposing negative interest without first adding new money into the economy means they will have even less money to spend. This would be more likely to prompt them to save their scarce funds than to go on a shopping spree.

People are not keeping their money in the bank today for the interest (which is already nearly non-existent). It is for the convenience of writing checks, issuing bank cards, and storing their money in a “safe” place. They would no doubt be willing to pay a modest negative interest for that convenience; but if the fee got too high, they might pull their money out and save it elsewhere. The fee itself, however, would not drive them to buy things they did not otherwise need.

Is There a Bigger Threat than a Sluggish Economy?

The scheme to impose negative interest and eliminate cash seems so unlikely to stimulate the economy that one wonders if that is the real motive. Stopping tax evaders and terrorists (real or presumed) are other proposed justifications for going cashless. Economist Martin Armstrong goes further and suggests that the goal is to gain totalitarian control over our money. In a cashless society, our savings can be taxed away by the banks; the threat of bank runs by worried savers can be eliminated; and the too-big-to-fail banks can be assured that ample deposits will be there when they need to confiscate them through bail-ins to stay afloat.

And that may be the real threat on the horizon: a major derivatives default that hits the largest banks, those that do the vast majority of derivatives trading. On November 10, 2015, the Wall Street Journal reported the results of a study requested by Senator Elizabeth Warren and Rep. Elijah Cummings, involving the cost to taxpayers of the rollback of the Dodd-Frank Act in the “cromnibus” spending bill last December. As Jessica Desvarieux put it on the Real News Network, “the rule reversal allows banks to keep $10 trillion in swaps trades on their books, which taxpayers could be on the hook for if the banks need another bailout.”

The promise of Dodd-Frank, however, was that there would be “no more taxpayer bailouts.” Instead, insolvent systemically-risky banks were supposed to “bail in” (confiscate) the money of their creditors, including their depositors (the largest class of creditor of any bank). That could explain the push to go cashless. By quietly eliminating the possibility of cash withdrawals, the central bank can make sure the deposits are there to be grabbed when disaster strikes.

If central bankers are seriously trying to stimulate the economy with negative interest rates, they need to repeat the Wörgl experiment in full. They need to first get some new money into the economy, money that goes directly to the consumers and local businessmen who will spend it. This could be achieved in a number of ways: with a national dividend; or by using quantitative easing for infrastructure or low-interest loans to states; or by funding free tuition for higher education. Consumers will hit the malls when they have some new discretionary income to spend.

Ellen Brown is an attorney, founder of the Public Banking Institute, and author of twelve books, including the best-selling Web of Debt. In The Public Bank Solution, her latest book, she explores successful public banking models historically and globally.
Read other articles by Ellen, or visit Ellen's website.

Laying Blame for Russian Airliner Crash - On Russia!

West Tries to Shift Terror Blame on Russia

by Finian Cunningham - SCF

Never wasting an opportunity for base point-scoring, some Western leaders appear to be capitalising on the horror of the Paris terror attacks to cajole Russia into accepting their regime-change agenda in Syria.

From the G20 summit in Turkey last weekend, the West is fashioning a new twist in the narrative which seeks insidiously to lay the blame, at least in part, on Russia for the horrific carnage in the French capital – that happened just two days before the G20 met in Turkey’s Antalya.

Even more distastefully, some Western voices are also crafting the implication that Vladimir Putin’s military intervention in Syria was responsible for the downing of the Russian passenger plane over Sinai in which 224 people were killed.

The Islamic State terror group (also known as ISIS or ISIL) has claimed involvement in the two incidents, with the latest gun and bomb attack in Paris killing over 130 people.

On Monday, Britain’s Guardian headlined: «Western leaders urge Putin at G20 to change course in Syria». Adding to the blame-game narrative, was the accompanying sub-headline: «Diplomats hope that possible bombing of Russian plane and Paris attacks will convince Putin to change strategy».

Russian crash investigators have concluded that a terrorist bomb caused the Metrojet A321 to break up at an altitude of 31,000 feet over the Sinai desert with over 200 Russian tourists on board. American and British intelligence had asserted from an early stage that a terrorist bomb in the luggage hold brought the plane down, which tends to confirm a claim of responsibility made by an IS-affiliate.

From the Western perspective, as reported by the Guardian, the military intervention in Syria by Putin that began on September 30 is to blame for the Paris and Sinai death toll. Russia’s campaign of air strikes against various terrorist groups in Syria, including the Islamic State network, has enraged the terrorists to take revenge on targets outside Syria.

That is the implication from the Guardian’s choice of words that «diplomats hope possible bombing of Russian plane and Paris attacks will convince Putin to change strategy». Note the insidious onus is placed on Putin to «change strategy» which clearly infers that «it’s all Putin’s fault» for the recent carnage.

This shifting the blame on to Moscow was echoed at the G20 summit by American President Barack Obama and the European Council President Donald Tusk, among others. Tusk said that Russia’s air strikes must henceforth focus on ISIS and not «moderate rebels», according to the BBC.

Reuters reported: «Obama urges Russia to join renewed effort to eliminate Islamic State». The news agency inserted this editorial comment into its reportage: «US-led efforts to combat Islamic State were complicated when Russia joined the conflict a month and a half ago, targeting what the West says are mainly areas where foreign-backed fighters are battling Assad, Moscow's ally, rather than Islamic State».

So, according to Reuters, US-led efforts to combat ISIS in Syria have been undermined by Russia’s entry to the conflict, even though Moscow’s intervention has been legal under international law, at the invitation of the Syrian government, and over the past six weeks Russian air strikes have dealt serious blows to the IS and other jihadist networks, as can be judged by rapid on-the-ground advances made by the Syrian army.

In Antalya, Obama held a cordial, business-like meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 summit. The White House characterised their discussion as «constructive» and Voice of America noted that the tone of two leaders’ confab was markedly absent of any antagonism.

Nevertheless, the Western narrative following the G20 conference conveys the unmistakable – albeit snide – implication that Russia’s actions in Syria are wrongheaded and have exacerbated the problem of international terrorism. That implication of blame is obviously aimed at pressuring Moscow into adopting Western plans for a «political transition» in Syria.

It takes a breathtaking wilful denial of reality by Western media to produce that contorted depiction of the conflict in Syria.

In addition to Obama, among the G20 leaders were those of Britain, France, Turkey and Saudi Arabia. That US-led group has been responsible for instigating the nearly five-year mayhem in Syria going back to March 2011 when the foreign-backed covert war for regime change was initiated under the cover of the «Arab Spring» regional pro-democracy protests.

Washington and its allies have funded, armed and trained a whole army of foreign mercenaries mobilised with a sociopathic sectarian ideology. The so-called Islamic State is just one of hundreds of jihadist brigades that include the Free Syrian Army, whom the West lionise, against all reason and evidence, as «moderate rebels».

Western leaders refer to the IS as a «death cult». US Secretary of State John Kerry, speaking at last weekend’s political talks in Vienna over the Syrian crisis, described the terror organisation as a form of «medieval fascism». French President Francois Hollande, in the wake of the Paris attacks, vowed to wage a «war without mercy» against the IS.

Astoundingly, missing from this Western condemnation of IS is the fact that this network and its associated terror brigades have been created out of Western machinations for regime change, not just in Syria, but right across North Africa, the Middle East and Central Asia, dating back to the US-British invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan 14 years ago. We can go further back to the late 1970s and 1980s in Afghanistan, when the US launched the mujahideen and Al Qaeda – the precursors of IS – along with British, Saudi and Pakistani intelligence. A veritable Frankenstein creation whose American authorship was confirmed again only two weeks ago by US Defence Secretary Ashton Carter in a speech given to the Reagan Library in California.

Russia’s military intervention in Syria is rightly focused on destroying all the terror networks and on preventing Syria turning into another failed state that would export even more terrorism to the region, just as Western machinations have succeeded in doing in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Somalia, and, we should add, in Russia’s southern Caucasus region.

It is the height of ludicrousness for Western leaders and their Arab and Turk allies to lecture Russia about the priority of focusing on IS, and «not moderate rebels». This is simply a false dichotomy fictionalised in order to give the West a cover for its sponsorship of terrorism in Syria under the guise of supporting «secular moderates». The latter is non-existent. The FSA’s crimes of beheading and generally terrorising the civilian population in Syria are just as every bit as vile as those of the IS, Al Nusra, Jaish al Islam, Ahrar al Sham, Farouq, Islamic Front (sic), and all the other jihadist brigades.

The Guardian reported British leader David Cameron as saying at the G20 summit: «The conversation I want to have with Putin is to say, look, there is one thing we agree about which is we would be safer in Russia, we would be safer in Britain, if we destroy ISIS. That is what we should be focusing on».

Cameron added: «Britain had its differences with the Russians, not least because they have done so much to degrade the non-ISIL opposition to Assad – people who could be part of the future of Syria».

This is just British balderdash spinning a lie that somehow the only terror problem in Syria is due to ISIS alone, and that all other groups are «moderate» and are «people who could be part of the future of Syria». Britain, as with the other US-led allies, wants Russia to ease off on its campaign to wipe out the regime-change mercenaries. ISIS is perhaps being thrown under the warplanes, as a token sacrifice, but the objective is to keep the other mercenary brigades intact to continue the regime-change program.

As well as using base calumny to implicate Russia in escalating terrorism out of Syria, the British prime minister also dangled a sordid bribe to Moscow. According the Guardian, Cameron sought «to reassure Putin that however the political transition ends in Syria, Russian commercial political and military interests could be protected». Note the seductive words «could be».

The Guardian report cited above also revealed this gambit by Downing Street: «The British government may be willing to put to one side long-standing differences over the Russian incursion into Ukraine to try to reach a breakthrough over Syria».

How’s that for British expedience? For more than a year, London has dragooned the rest of Europe into following Washington’s policy of demonising and sanctioning Moscow over the conflict in Ukraine – another mess engineered by the West. Yet now, the Cameron government is prepared to put aside Ukraine – if Putin will play ball over Syria by going along with the West’s regime-change agenda to oust the Syrian President, Bashar al-Assad.

With boundless cynicism, the Western authors of Syria’s catastrophic war and terrorism, including horrific blowback violence and a refugee crisis in Europe, are now seeking to pressure Russia into acceding to their criminal enterprise of regime change, by trying to shift the blame on to Russia, while offering inducements of sanctions relief and normalisation over Ukraine.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Matrix Prevailing: French Swallow the Red, White, and Blue Pill

Will The Matrix Prevail? 

by Paul Craig Roberts

November 18, 2015

The Paris attack is playing out as I expected. The French government is attacking French civil liberty with legislation similar to the US PATRIOT Act. 

Readers in France have informed me that 84% of the French people, according to a poll, are content to be spied upon as long as it keeps them safe. This means that only 16% of the French nation is not brain dead.

Another reader informs me that a TV news station read a letter left behind by one of the alleged ISIL bombers, a letter written in perfect English. Really! I mean, Really! Those with their secret agendas know how stupid the Western peoples are, collectively a hopeless basket case.

UPDATE Nov. 19: Note that the authorities almost always claim that they had no warning or indication of an attack, but they can almost instantly identify the “mastermind.”

French and American politicians are demanding that NATO Article 5 be used to put NATO boots on the ground in Syria. This is important not in order to fight ISIL, which the Russians are successfully doing, but to overthrow Assad under the pretext of fighting ISIL, a crazy policy that could bring conflict with Russia.

Alternatively, to avoid conflict with Russia, Washington can take advantage of the Russian government’s hope that the Paris attack will show the West that Putin was correct that the West should join Russia in opposing ISIL. Once a NATO-Russian coalition, as advocated by French Prime Minister Manuel Valls, is formed, Putin becomes the West’s captive in the overthrow of Assad.

To insure that no one is informed of the true facts by the English language Russian media, such as RT and Sputnik, the US Senate arranged hearings on foreign propaganda. Kenneth Weinstein, a member of the US Broadcasting Board of Governors, that is, the censors, told the senators that RT, Sputnik, and a variety of other truthful news sources are “well-funded state propaganda outlets.”

In other words, only believe what you read in Washington-controlled propaganda outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Fox News, CNN, BBC, NPR, and so forth.

The aftermath of the Paris attack is like the aftermath of the so-called Boston Marathon Bombing. Fifty heavily armed police converged on two people and murdered them. The murdered female is described even by RT as a “female suicide bomber.” If the murdered woman is a suicide bomber, how is she still alive to be murdered by police? Not even the “Russian propaganda outlet” RT asks why 50 heavily armed police were unable to capture two people alive and had to kill them!

A number of readers have sent to me information that indicates that the Paris attack was reported on both Wikipedia and Twitter the day before it occurred. I do not know what to make of this. I do remember that the BBC reported the collapse of WTC building 7 prior to its collapse. The BBC reporter is actually standing in front of the still standing WTC 7 as she makes the report of its collapse. In other words, orchestration mistakes occur. But hardly any of the brainwashed pubic notices.

The question that raises itself is to what extent is this false flag attack in Paris a hoax. Why don’t we see the large number of dead and wounded. What we seem to have are uninjured crisis actors.

Where are the eyewitness videos?

Witnesses in behalf of the official story seem to have performed the same function on other occasions:

Having been at the top of government, journalism, and academia for a lifetime, it is clear to me that there is a great deal wrong with the explanations that people are being given. However, the majority of Western peoples have been thoroughly brainwashed to believe that anyone who doubts official explanations is a “conspiracy theorist.”

In other words, only governments and their media presstitutes tell the truth.

This makes it simple for governments with their secret agendas to protect their agendas from the facts. Who would believe me when the alternative is to believe Fox News, CNN, the BBC, NPR, Dubya, Obama, Wolfowitz, Hollande, Merkel, Cameron, the Weakly Standard?

If Putin’s government and the Chinese people are so desperately determined to be part of the “glorious West” that they will accept a false reality, the world is doomed.

If it is up to Western politicians, the world is doomed for sure. To the man and the woman they are warmongers. Moreover, the response to the false flag/hoax attack is mindless. The morons declare that the West is attacked because it allows women to be educated. The West is attacked because of “french values and French way of life, because we dance” (Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius). In other words, the nonsense that worked for the idiot US president, George W. Bush, works for the French. “We are attacked because we are good.” All of us good people here in the West would never be attacked because we have looted and robbed the Middle East for a century and followed up the looting with 14 years of military devastation of seven countries, producing millions of deaths and displaced persons.

Really, it is a wonder that there are not round the clock REAL TERRORIST ATTACKS on Western countries, who certainly deserve them.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost.

A Thin Blue (Pencil) Line: Between Corporate Media and Government Propaganda

The US Corporate Media are Essentially Propaganda Organs of the US Government

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening

November 20, 2015

Where’s the truth, and how can you find it?

Are the American corporate media largely propaganda organs, or news organizations?

Here are a few points to consider, and then you the reader can decide. Check out how one should objectively answer these questions below, and then check how the US corporate media generally answer them:

1. If ISIS or Al Qaeda deliberately attacks a civilian venue as in Paris, killing dozens of civilians indiscriminately, is it terrorism?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

2. If the US deliberately attacks a a civilian venue as in the case of the Doctors Without Borders hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, killing dozens of civilians indescriminately, is it terrorism?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

3. If the Chinese government takes control of a tiny island claimed by another nation, expands it, and puts a military installation on it, is it an example of aggression, a violation of international law, and a provocation?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

4. If the US government takes control and then refuses to relinquish a portion of a tiny
island like Cuba, expands it and puts a military installation on it (as it has done for
decades in the case of Guantanamo Bay on the island of Cuba, is it an example of
aggression, a violaton of international law, and a provocation?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

5. If the leader of a party that wins a national election by a landslide is not herself elected, but announces that she will in fact be making all the important decisions for the newly elected government, as Suu Ky just did in Myanmar, is it an example of undemocratic behavior, or caudillismo?

Objective answer: Yes
US Media answer: No

6. If the leader of a party steps down as president but then insists on acting as the real authority on important issues even though someone else (his brother) is elected president, as Fidel Castro has done in Cuba, is this an example of undemocratic behavior, or caudillismo?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes 

Truth and Lies: Myanmar's and Cuba's behind-the-scenes leaders,
Russian missiles en route to Cuba, and US missiles in Poland

7. If a foreign country places missiles pointed at another nation on the territory of a country adjacent to the target country, as the USSR once did in Cuba with respect to the US, is that a threat to the target country?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

8. If the US places missiles in Poland and points them at Russia, as the US has done, or puts nuclear weapons in Germany also targeting Russia is this objectively a threat to Russia?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

9. If Iran provides military assistance to insurrectionists in a neighboring country like Yemen and those armed fighters, the Houthis, successfully drive an autocrat from power, is that subversion:

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

10: If the US provides funds to organizations inside another country, which then
organize protests and marchesand make violent attacks driving the elected
government out of office, as the US did in Ukraine, is that subversion?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

11. If Iran, a signatory of the International Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, seeks to develop the capability to refine uranium-235 which might someday be used to make a nuclear bomb, but agrees to international supervision and inspections, is that a grave threat to regional stability in the Middle East and to world peace?

Objective answer: No, since there is already a powerful nuclear nation in the Middle East with the capability of totally obliterating Iran -- namely Israel.
Media answer: Yes 

12: If Israel, which has never signed the Non-Proliferation Treaty, which refuses to allow
inspections of its nuclear facilities, and which is known to have hundreds of nuclear
weapons as well as the planes and missiles to deliver them anywhere, is that a
grave threat to regional stability in the Middle East and to world peace?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

13: If a person discloses discloses, for money, to a foreign power, the inner workings of
the National Security Agency’s signal intercept system, as well as the identities of
hundreds of US undercover intelligence operatives, as just paroled Israeli spy
Jonathan Pollard did, is he an enemy of the US?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No

14. If a person discloses, as an act of principle and as a whistleblower, for no compensation, the illegal and unconstitutional spying activites against American citizens of the National Security Agency, as exiled and stateless whistleblower Edward Snowden did, is he an enemy of the US who should face his punishment?

Objective answer: No
US media answer: Yes

15. If pro-ISIS terrorists in Paris are said to have fired kill shots into the heads of
wounded victims of their terror attacks, is that an example of barbarism and a crime
worthy of world-wide condemnation?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: Yes

16: If videos show Israeli Defense Forces firing kill shots into the head of a wounded
Palestinian lying on the street, is that an example of barbarism and a war crime
worthy of world-wide condemnation?

Objective answer: Yes
US media answer: No. (It’s not even worth reporting on)

Clearly one could go on and on with this kind of a list, but the evidence should be obvious and incontrovertible that the mainstream corporate media are working essentially in lockstep supporting US foreign policy in ways that involve presenting the world to the US public in a very warped pro-government manner.

Why this is happening, when these news organizations are, for the most part, not directly funded or controlled by the government as they are in countries where we expect the media to be propaganda arms is a complicated story, long ago explained clearly by experts like Noam Chomsky and Edward Herman.

But whether one reads such analyses or not, the reality should be clear to anyone who pays attention: the US media, particularly when it comes to foreign affairs, but also when it comes to matters like intelligence and domestic spying, cannot be trusted to present the truth, or anything approaching the truth.

I would point out here that solid evidence of this wilful disregard for the truth and for truthtelling on the part of the corporate media can be found by looking at just the stories that have been broken here in our small virtually unfunded news organization, ThisCantBeHappening!. Over the past four years, we have exposed:

* The CIA’s role in orchestrating terrorist sectarian mayhem in Pakistan [1]

* The central role of US law enforcement and intel agencies in coordinating the bloody crushing of the Occupy Movement in cities across the US [2], the advance knowledge, and utter lack of concern or action by the FBI

* A documented plot in Houston by some known but unidentified group or organization to assassinate leaders of that city’s Occupy movement [3] using "suppressed sniper rifle fire."

* The Obama administration’s deliberate deep-sixing of hard forensic evidence by Turkish coroners showing that Israeli Defense Force members had brutally executed Furkan Dogan [4], a 19-year-old American kid aboard the Gaza Peace Flotilla’s flagship, the Mavi Marmara, and then did nothing to demand punishment for the killers [5]

* The murder, by an FBI agent, of a young Chechen immigrant, Ibragim Todashev, in Florida who was being interrogated by the agent and a Boston cop in his own apartment. (Todashev may have had evidence that the FBI had been working with the Tsarnaev brothers before the Boston Marathon bombing.) Three part series: Dark Questions, Part I [6], Dark Questions, Part II [7], Dark Questions, Part III [8]

These and other stories which we reported and published, and which were picked up widely in the alternative media, were never picked up by the US corporate media. Nor are most other important breaking news stories reported in other alternative media. Such information is thus kept largely away from the broader US population which gets its information from only mainstream corporate sources.


Unbalanced Sources: CNN Takes Tips from "ISIS News"

CNN’s New ‘Source’: ISIS Magazine – Claims ‘Schweppes Bomb’ Brought Down Russian Airliner

by Patrick Henningsen - 21st Century Wire

November 20, 2015

Just when you thought the mainstream media coverage couldn’t get anymore surreal...

Question: Should ‘ISIS’ be considered a credible news source? 

Sadly, CNN does.

In the wake of the Paris Attacks, a most disturbing trend has suddenly emerged in the mainstream media’s ‘terror’ coverage – where CNN, FOX News, and other majors are now deferring to ISIS press releases as a primary news source.

Leading the charge on Wednesday was CNN’s intrepid reporter, Chris Cuomo, who seemed uncomfortably dazzled by a report in the latest English language issue of ‘ISIS Monthly’ aka DABIQ Magazine (image, above) a glossy coffee table rag filled with colorful jihadi lifestyle features and career advice for aspiring young terrorists (if only it were a joke).

Schweppes Bomb

The DABIQ article proudly displays an image of a 16oz Schweppes Gold pineapple soda can with a few bits alongside it, claiming that this was the bomb that brought down Russia’s Metrojet Airbus A321 – a plane which broke up in midair 20 minutes into its journey after leaving Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt en route to St. Petersburg, Russia on Oct. 31st.

The DABIQ article goes on to reveal a grand plot (albeit, after the fact), saying, “After resolving to bring down a plane belonging to a nation in the American-led Western coalition against ISIS, the target was changed to a Russian plane”.

‘WORKING THEIR SOURCES’: Crack ‘journalist’ Chris Cuomo scored
a major scoop from the ISIS propaganda magazine. CNN even properly
credits terror group, as evidenced in upper right hand corner ‘ISIS/Dabiq’.

Then comes the big DABIQ reveal: “A bomb was smuggled onto the airplane…”, although it doesn’t explain exactly how, or by whom. Seeing as the Sinai airline disaster took place almost 3 weeks ago, you’d think that ISIS might have boasted about this brilliant ‘job’ earlier. Maybe they were busy planning for Paris, or working on the magazine. Who knows. More reason to believe that the DABIQ article is nothing more than a very sick prank – unless of course you are a member of the mainstream media – then it’s good as gold.

‘What’s the take?’

Granted, most people are used to seeing this type of vapid reporting on TV, but it’s still astonishing to watch how CNN’s Cuomo seized upon his latest ‘scoop’ without even questioning the validity of the source. Later in their coverage, Cuomo tried to ‘walk it back’ somewhat, but still presented this ISIS propaganda as if it was actual ‘evidence’ of a bomb that brought down the Russian plane.

CHRIS CUOMO: “Joining us now is CNN’s Ian Lee. He’s in Cairo; he has the latest. Now, Ian, as you know, the early reporting was that this was a 1-kilogram explosive, that’d be about 2.2 pounds, certainly different than this soda can. What’s the take? ”

IAN LEE: “That’s right, this is a fairly primitive bomb. When you look at it, you do have that soda can. Now explosive experts have told CNN that that could hold about 500 grams, roughly a pound. But they say that’s enough to take down a plane. You also have the detonator and you have the switch.”

“Now we do not know if this is in fact the bomb. It could be ISIS trying to throw investigators off their trail. But all signs are pointing that that it was a bomb that took down the plane. Now, the one thing that is also very concerning about this bomb, it’s is that if you look at it, it cannot be remotely detonated. This was a suicide mission, if it was the bomb…”

CHRIS CUOMO: “Big point there at the end. Ian Lee, thank you very much for the reporting!”

‘TEAM COVERAGE’: David Soucie, Chris Cuomo and Josh Rogin(r).

CNN’s then rolled out one of its many panels of ‘terror experts’, which on the occasion included Josh Rogin (Daily Beast) and ‘Safety Analyst’ David Soucie, both of whom seemed to parrot Cuomo’s infatuation with the soda can images, all nodding in unison and seeming to agree that somehow, ‘Yes, it all makes sense Chris!’

Based on what’s been released so far from the official investigation into the Sinai airline crash, it’s clear that the soda can CNN and ISIS have been touting around this week could not have held the explosive material necessary to trigger the fatal explosion. According to Alexander Bortnikov, the head of Russia’s Federal Security Service, it’s estimated that the bomb TNT load was at least 2.2 lbs (1 kg). This would make DABIQ’s soda can claim even more impossible than it already is, unless of course, it was a Six Pack (now that would’ve been a real scoop!).

Although CNN had access to this report at the time of their ‘Schweppes Bomb’ scoop, it didn’t slow down Cuomo and their crack news team from running with the ISIS version of events.

If ISIS says so, well then, that’s good enough for CNN.

Unfortunately, it didn’t stop there. CNN’s brain trust go on to ask, ‘is it possible that this soda can could have been detonated remotely?’, even though the crude switch looking like a detonator in the photo – looks nothing like a remote detonator. Hence, Ian Lee’s awkward deflection during his exchange with Cuomo.

While any real journalist would have immediately questioned the validity of this story if the source was a terrorist group with a history of fabricating claims of ‘credit’ for various events, this also begs the question of whether CNN is really in the business of journalism – or spreading fear and hysteria.

Even if the DABIQ article were somehow true (and who in their right mind would root for that?), there is something very weird about western TV networks whose ‘expert’ panels are comprised mainly of ‘former’ CIA operatives, Pentagon staffers, think tank fellows and private security executives – who rely on information supplied by what is supposed to be a ruthless international terrorist outfit. It’s a little obvious as to how easy it would be to deliver misinformation and disinformation directly to millions of viewers worldwide. Funny that we find CNN right in the middle of that very uncomfortable junction, often doing most of the PR heavy lifting for a dubious media production like DABIQ.

Interestingly, Schweppes Gold (non alcoholic) Soda Facebook page has 169,000 ‘likes’. Coincidentally (or not), its last post was on Oct 30th, some 24 hrs before the Sinai crash, showing a rather dark depiction of a Schweppes Gold can, presumably for Halloween.

خلى كل لحظة فى الهالويين جولد !


At any rate, you can expect full-sized soda cans to be banned from the in-flight drinks trolley.

‘Maybe, Could Be, ISIS’

Although Russia’s Security Council now admits, “we can say definitely that this was a terrorist act…”, there is absolutely no proof that ISIS is responsible for this mid-air tragedy, other than an insistence by the media and Washington’s ‘intelligence community’ (‘probably is’, ‘seems like’, ‘could be’, ‘most likely is’, ‘has the fingerprints’ and ‘has all the hallmarks” etc.), the usual political innuendos, and of course, spurious online claims of credit by various social media accounts claiming to be run by ISIS affiliates.

What should be more worrying about this and other ‘virtual’ terrorist exhibitions and corresponding propaganda, is the fact none of these terrorist social media claims could ever stand-up as forensic evidence in any homicide case in any criminal court of law. For US and European media outlets and hapless politicians, that seems to be just fine though. In other words, when it comes to the emotive subject of ‘ISIS’, there is almost no burden of proof for the mainstream media and US-European policy makers, so long as ‘security officials believe’, or ‘we’re told that it’s very likely from the Islamic State’. That and the fact that there is no real independently verifiable comprehensive record which defines or quantifies ISIS, its membership, where they come from, from where their money and arms are derived and where they reside. Until such a study is done, we are told to just accept certain people’s word as gospel (keeping it vague seems to be the trick here).

Why is the bar so low? Part of the problem is that what passes for journalism in the corporate mainstream media these days is a far cry from anything which might have been taught in journalism schools or on the job 30, or 40 years ago. More than other recent event, the coverage of the Paris Attacks by the big networks embodies this terminal condition, one in which we are witnessing an erosion of facts, context and any real challenges to official statements. Instead, all we get is a bevy of anchors, correspondents and ‘experts’ (many of whom openly flaunt their ‘insider’affiliations as if that’s meant to instill confidence in the viewer’s mind). If you went to sleep in 1985 and woke up in 2015, and turned on the TV, you would think you were living a repeating scene out of Terry Gilliam’s film Brazil.

Magic Passport?

Earlier in the week, 21WIRE asked a reasonable question regarding the ‘magic passports’ of the supposed suicide bombers on site, one which seems to have evaded the whole of the mainstream media and even much of the alternative media. Simply: is it possible that the alleged Syrian’ passport was likely planted at the scene of the crime? Indeed, that’s what some European officials are now admitting.

Without the ‘Syrian Passport’ leg of the official story, then the whole ‘Terrorists Are Sneaking in With the Migrants” talking point rapidly disintegrates, and wouldn’t that be a shame.

Why haven’t any of the major networks, with all of their millions of dollars and investigative resources, ever done a proper investigation deconstructing any of the ‘beheading videos’, many of which are obviously fake productions? Is it that ISIS has such a ‘great production facility’, or that someone else is producing their videos for them? Whether its on a beach in Libya, or against a green screen with an actor called ‘Jihadi John’, the list of Hollywood-style forgeries is a long one, and no prime time special from CNN looking into this?

Instead, CNN and FOX act as a force multiplier for these so-called ‘ISIS’ media productions. The mainstream media are giving validity to misleading ISIS material.

Is this legal? If anything should be the subject of a US Congressional or Senate hearing, this should.

The following was produced by a Turkish production company, but in advance of the ISIS beheading videos. Watch:

One gets the feeling that either:

A. The mainstream media is playing a dark practical joke on the public.
B. The mainstream media pundits and ‘anchors’ are too stupid to know the difference between what’s real, and what’s fabricated by ‘ISIS’, or someone else.

Either way, this is bad news for the public, especially in such an incendiary political environment where fear is the new order of the day, and where half the US political establishment is demanding a military “package” of ‘boots on the ground’ in Syria, which would almost certainly lead to a long-term occupation and wider region war in the Middle East.

The only thing we haven’t heard yet, is talk of deploying “nukes”. Judging by the looks of it, that’s not far off now.

It only takes some well-place disinformation and hysterical speculation to push this situation out of balance and into a regrettable state of all out war overseas, and at home. More than any other single entity, the mainstream media play the pivotal role in nudging public support either towards, or away from any war. In the age of mass media and consensus reality, they bear most of the responsibility in that troubling process.

So a message media elites… we can offer you some humble advice in these troubling times: a little restraint would go a long way.

READ MORE PARIS ATTACK NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Paris Attack Files

Paris Friday the 13th Nightmare a USA Production

Friday the Thirteenth in Paris and the Ugly Truth of State Terror

by John Chuckman's - Choice of Words

Nov. 19, 2015

Mass murder, as that which just occurred in Paris, is always distressing, but that does not mean we should stop thinking.

Isn’t it rather remarkable that President Hollande, immediately after the event, declared ISIS responsible?

How did he know that?

And if he was aware of a serious threat from ISIS, why did he not take serious measures in advance?

Within days of Friday 13, French forces assaulted an apartment with literally thousands of bullets being fired, killing a so-called mastermind, Abdelhamid Abaaoud.

Just how are you instantly elevated to the rank of “mastermind”? And if security people were previously aware of his exalted status, why did they wait until after a disaster to go after him?

Well, the ugly underlying truth is that, willy-nilly, France for years has been a supporter of ISIS, even while claiming to be fighting it. How do I know that? Because France’s foreign policy has virtually no independence from America’s. It could be described as a subset of American foreign policy. Hollande marches around with his head held stiffly up after getting off the phone at the Élysée Palace, having received the day’s expectations from Washington. He has been a rather pathetic figure.

So long as it is doing work the United States wishes done, ISIS remains an American protectorate, and regardless of Hollande’s past rhetoric, he has acted according to that reality. But something may just have changed now.

It is important to note the disproportionate attention in the West to events in Paris. I say disproportionate because there are equally ugly things going on in a number of places in the Middle East, but we do not see the coverage given to Paris. We have bombs in Lebanon and Iraq. We have daily bombings and shootings in Syria. We have cluster bombs and other horrors being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen. And of course, there are the ongoing horrors of Israel against Palestinians.

We have endless interviews with ordinary people in Paris, people who know nothing factual to help our understanding, about their reaction to the terror, but when was the last time you saw personal reactions broadcast from Gaza City or Damascus? It just does not happen, and it does raise the suspicion that the press’s concern with Paris is deliberately out of proportion. After all, Israel killed about twenty times as many people in Gaza not very long ago, and the toll was heavily weighted with children, many hundreds of them. Events in Paris clearly are being exploited for highly emotional leverage.

Leverage against what? Arabs in general and Muslims in particular, just part of the continuing saga of deliberately-channeled hate we have experienced since a group of what proved (after their arrest) to be Israeli spies were reported on top of a truck, snapping pictures and high-fiving each other as the planes hit the World Trade Center in 2001. What those spies were doing has never been explained to the public. I’m not saying Israel is responsible for 9/11, but clearly some Israeli government interests were extremely happy about events, and we have been bombarded ever since with hate propaganda about Muslims, serving as a kind of constant noise covering the crimes Israel does commit against Palestinians and other neighbors.

It is impossible to know whether the attack in Paris was actually the work of ISIS or a covert operation by the secret service of an ISIS supporter. The point is a bit like arguing over angels on a pinhead. When you are dealing with this kind of warfare – thugs and lunatics of every description lured into service and given deadly toys and lots of encouragement to use them – things can and do go wrong. But even when nothing goes wrong in the eyes of sponsors for an outfit like ISIS, terrible things are still happening. It’s just that they’re happening where the sponsors want them to happen and in places from which our press carefully excludes itself. Terrible things, for example, have been happening in the beautiful land of Syria for four or five years, violence equivalent to about two hundred Paris attacks, causing immense damage, the entire point of which is to topple a popularly-supported president and turn Syria into the kind of rump states we see now in Iraq.

A covert operation in the name of ISIS is at least as likely as an attack by ISIS. The United States, Israel, Turkey, and France are none of them strangers to violent covert activities, and, yes, there have been instances before when a country’s own citizens were murdered by its secret services to achieve a goal. The CIA pushed Italian secret services into undertaking a series of murderous attacks on their own people during the 1960s in order to shake up Italy’s “threatening” left-wing politics. It was part of something called Operation Gladio. Operation Northwoods, in the early 1960s, was a CIA-planned series of terrorist acts on American civilians to be blamed on Cuba, providing an excuse for another invasion. It was not carried out, but that was not owing to any qualms in the CIA about murdering their own, otherwise no plan would have ever existed. The CIA was involved in many other operations inside the United States, from experiments with drugs to ones with disease, using innocent people as its subject-victims.

There have been no differences worth mentioning between Hollande’s France and America concerning the Middle East. Whatever America wants, America gets, unlike the days when Jacques Chirac opposed the invasion of Iraq, or earlier, when de Gaulle removed France’s armed forces from integration within NATO or bravely faced immense hostility, including a coup attempt undertaken by French military with CIA cooperation, when he abandoned colonialism in Algeria.

If anything, Hollande has been as cloyingly obsequious towards America’s chief interest in the Middle East, Israel, as a group of Republican Party hopefuls at a Texas barbecue fund-raiser sniffing out campaign contributions. After the Charlie Hebdo attack, Hollande honored four Jewish victims of the thugs who attacked a neighborhood grocery store with France’s highest honor, the Legion of Honor. I don’t recall the mere fact of being murdered by thugs ever before being regarded as a heroic distinction. After all, in the United States more than twenty thousand a year suffer that fate without recognition.

Israel’s Netanyahu at the time of the Charlie Hebdo attack actually outdid himself in manic behavior. He barged into France against a specific request that he stay home and pushed himself, uninvited, to the front row of the big parade down the Champs-Élysées which was supposed to honor free speech. He wanted those cameras to be on him for voters back home watching.

Free speech, you might ask, from the leaders of Egypt, Turkey, the UAE, and Israel, who all marched in front? Well, after the free-speech parody parade, the Madman of Tel Aviv raced around someone else’s country making calls and speeches for Jewish Frenchmen to leave “dangerous” France and migrate “home” to Israel. It would in fact be illegal in Israel for someone to speak that way in Israel to Israelis, but illegality has never bothered Netanyahu. Was he in any way corrected for this world-class asinine behavior? No, Hollande just kept marching around with his head stiffly up. I guess he was trying to prove just how free “free speech” is in France. But speech really isn’t all that free in France, and the marching about free speech was a fraud.

Not only is Charlie Hebdo, the publication in whose honor all the tramping around was done, not an outlet for free speech, being highly selective in choosing targets for its obscene attacks, but many of the people marching at the head of the parade were hardly representatives of the general principle.

France itself has outlawed many kinds of free speech. Speech and peaceful demonstrations which advocate a boycott of Israel are illegal in France. So a French citizen today cannot advocate peacefully against a repressive state which regularly abuses, arrests, and kills some of the millions it holds in a form of bondage. And Hollande’s France enforces this repressive law with at least as much vigor as Israel does with its own version, in a kind of “Look, me too,” spirit. France also has a law which is exactly the equivalent of a law against anyone’s saying the earth is flat: a law against denying or questioning the Holocaust. France also is a country, quite disgracefully, which has banned the niqab.

Now, America’s policy in the Mideast is pretty straightforward: subsidize and protect its colony Israel and never criticize it even on the many occasions when it has committed genuine atrocities. American campaign finance laws being what the are, politics back home simply permits no other policy. The invasion of Iraq, which largely was intended to benefit Israel through the elimination of a major and implacable opponent, has like so many dark operations backfired. I call the invasion a dark operation because although the war was as public as could be, all of America’s, and Britain’s, supposed intelligence about Iraq was crudely manufactured and the reasons for undertaking an act which would kill a million people and cripple an entire country were complete lies.

America’s stupid invasion created new room for Iran to exert its influence in the region – hence, the endless noise in Israel and Saudi Arabia about Iran – and it led directly to the growth of armed rabble groups like ISIS. There were no terrorists of any description in Saddam’s Iraq, just as there were no terrorists in Gadhafi’s Libya, a place now so infested with them that even an American ambassador is not safe.

Some Americans assert that ISIS happened almost accidentally, popping out of the dessert when no one was looking, a bit like Athena from the head of Zeus, arising from the bitterness and discontents of a splintered society, but that view is fatuous. Nothing, absolutely nothing, happens by accident in this part of the world. Israel’s spies keep informed of every shadowy movement, and America always listens closely to what they say.

It is silly to believe ISIS just crept up on America, suddenly a huge and powerful force, because ISIS was easy for any military to stop at its early stages, as when it was a couple of thousand men waving AK-47s from the backs of Japanese pick-up trucks tearing around Iraq. Those pick-up trucks and those AK-47s and the gasoline and the ammunition and the food and the pay required for a bunch of goons came from somewhere, and it wasn’t from Allah.

A corollary to America’s first principle about protecting Israel is that nothing, absolutely nothing, happens in Israel’s neighborhood that is not approved, at least tacitly, by the United States. So whether, in any given instance of supply and support for ISIS, it was Israel or Saudi Arabia or Turkey or America – all involved in this ugly business – is almost immaterial. It all had to happen with American approval. Quite simply, there would be hell to pay otherwise.

As usual in the region, Saudi Arabia’s role was to supply money, buying weapons from America and others and transshipping them to ISIS. Ever since 9/11, Saudi Arabia has been an almost pathetically loyal supporter of America, even to the extent now of often cooperating with Israel. That couldn’t happen before an event in which the majority of perpetrators proved to be Saudi citizens and which led to the discovery that large amounts of Saudi “go away” money had been paid to Osama bin Laden for years. But after 9/11, the Saudis feared for the continuation of their regime and now do what they are told. They are assisted in performing the banking function by Qatar, another wealthy, absolute state aligned with the United States and opposing the rise of any possibly threatening new forces in its region.

Of course, it wasn’t just the discoveries of 9/11 that motivated Saudi Arabia. It intensely dislikes the growing influence of Iran, and Iran’s Shia Muslim identity is regarded by Sunni sects in Saudi Arabia in much the way 17th century Protestantism was viewed by an ultramontane Catholic state like Spain. The mass of genuine jihadists fighting in Syria – those who are not just mercenaries and adventurers or agents of Israel or Turkey or the Saudis – are mentally-unbalanced Sunni who believe they are fighting godlessness. The fact that Assad keeps a secular state with religious freedom for all just adds to their motivation.

ISIS first achievement was toppling an Iraqi government which had been excessively friendly to Iran in the view of Israel, and thereby the United States. Iraq’s army could have stopped them easily early on but was bribed to run away, leaving weapons such as tanks behind. Just two heavy tanks could have crushed all the loons in pick-up trucks. That’s why there was all the grotesque propaganda about beheadings and extreme cruelty to cover the fact of modern soldiers running from a mob. ISIS gathered weapons, territory, and a fierce reputation in an operation which saw President al-Maliki – a man disliked by the United States for his associations with Iran and his criticism of American atrocities – hurriedly leave office.

From that base, ISIS was able to gain sufficient foothold to begin financing itself through, for example, stolen crude sold at a discount or stolen antiquities. The effective splitting up of Iraq meant that its Kurdish population in the north could sell, as it does today, large volumes of oil to Israel, an unheard of arrangement in Iraq’s past. ISIS then crossed into Syria in some force to go after Assad. The reasons for this attack were several: Assad runs a secular state and defends religious minorities but mainly because the paymasters of ISIS wanted Assad destroyed and Syria reduced in the fashion of Iraq.

Few people in the press seem to have noted that ISIS never attacks Israel or Israeli interests. Neither does it attack the wheezingly-corrupt rulers of Saudi Arabia, the Islamic equivalent of ancient Rome’s Emperor Nero. Yet those are the very targets a group of genuine, independent warrior-fundamentalists would attack. But ISIS is not genuine, being supplied and bankrolled by people who do not want to see attacks on Israel or Saudi Arabia, including, notably, Israel and Saudi Arabia. ISIS also is assisted, and in some cases led, by foreign covert operators and special forces.

There does seem to be a good deal of news around the idea of France becoming serious in fighting ISIS, but I think we must be cautious about accepting it at face value. Putin is reported as telling ship commanders in the Mediterranean to cooperate and help cover the French aircraft carrier approaching. Hollande keeps calling for American cooperation too, as Putin has done for a very long time, but America’s position remains deliberately ambiguous. A new American announcement of cooperation with Turkey in creating a “safe zone” across the border with northern Syria is a development with unclear intentions. Is this to stop the Kurds Erdogan so despises fighting in the north of Syria from establishing themselves and controlling the border or is it a method for continued support of ISIS along the that border? Only time will tell.

I do think it at least possible Hollande may have come around to Putin’s view of ISIS, but America has not, and the situation only grows more fraught with dangerous possibilities. I’ve long believed that likely America, in its typically cynical fashion, planned to destroy ISIS, along with others like al-Nusra, once they had finished the dirty work of destroying Syria’s government and Balkanizing the country. In any event, Israel – and therefore, automatically, America – wants Assad destroyed, so it would be surprising to see America at this point join honestly with Putin and Hollande.

America has until now refused Russia any real support, including such basic stuff as sharing intelligence. It cooperates only in the most essential matters such as avoiding attacks on each others’ planes. It also has made some very belligerent statements about what Russia has been doing, some from America’s Secretary of Defense sounding a lot like threats. Just the American establishment’s bully-boy attitude about doing anything which resembles joining a Russian initiative does not bode well.

After all, Putin has been portrayed as a kind of Slavic Satan by American propaganda cranking stuff out overtime in support of Ukraine’s incompetent coup-government and with the aim of terrifying Eastern Europe into accepting more American weapons and troops near Russia’s border, this last having nothing to do with any Russian threat and everything to do with America’s aggressive desire to shift the balance of power. How do you turn on a dime and admit Putin is right about Syria and follow his lead?

And there are still the daily unpleasant telephone calls from Israel about Assad. How do you manoeuvre around that when most independent observers today recognize Assad as the best alternative to any other possible government. He has the army’s trust, and in the end it is the Syrian army which is going to destroy ISIS and the other psychopaths. Air strikes alone can never do that. The same great difficulty for Hollande leaves much ambiguity around what he truly means by “going to war against ISIS.”

It is an extremely complicated world in which we live with great powers putting vast resources towards destroying the lives of others, almost killing thousands on a whim, while pretending not to be doing so. We live in an era shaped by former CIA Director Allen Dulles, a quiet psychopath who never saw an opportunity for chaos he did not embrace.

The only way to end terror is to stop playing with the lives of tens of millions in the Middle East, as America has done for so long, and stop supporting the behaviors of a repressive state which has killed far greater numbers than the madmen of ISIS could dream of doing, demanding instead that that state make peace and live within its borders. But, at least at this stage, that is all the stuff of dreams.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

'Carpetbagging' the New Word for Ukraine's Crony Capitalists

Carpetbagging ‘Crony Capitalism’ in Ukraine

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

November 13, 2015

Last December, before being named Ukraine’s Finance Minister, American-born Natalie Jaresko accepted Ukrainian citizenship as a prerequisite for getting the job, but – in almost one year since – she has not renounced her U.S. citizenship, according to U.S. records and a Ukrainian official.

Ukrainian Finance Minister Natalie Jaresko.

The Ukrainian Constitution allows for only “single citizenship,” meaning that a foreigner who is granted Ukrainian citizenship must terminate his or her previous citizenship and must submit a document attesting to that renunciation “within two years from the date of granting of Ukrainian citizenship,” said Mariia Budiakova, press secretary of the Ukraine Embassy in Washington.

The U.S. government publishes quarterly the names of Americans who have renounced their U.S. citizenship and those names — printed in the Federal Register since last December — do not include Jaresko, who has chosen to remain a U.S. citizen, a fact confirmed by Budiakova.

Jaresko appears to be exploiting the two-year period for submitting proof of renouncing her prior citizenship so she can hold her powerful Ukrainian position for two years with the option of then dropping her Ukrainian citizenship and keeping her U.S. citizenship.

But that manipulation of the process creates the appearance of a carpetbagger with dual loyalties and reinforces the image, highlighted by Russian media, of a Ukrainian government being run behind the scenes by the United States and other outsiders.

There’s also the possibility that Jaresko is exploiting this opportunity to learn all she can about the inner workings of the Ukrainian government to position herself to quit her post after two years, drop her temporary Ukrainian citizenship, and become a well-paid consultant with valuable contacts inside Ukraine’s Finance Ministry.

Such opportunism would fit with Jaresko’s history. Though hailed as the face of Ukrainian “reform,” Jaresko has long used her official connections to enrich herself, an inconvenient truth that undercuts the U.S. government’s desired image for the regime in Kiev as committed to the fight against corruption.

Prior to her appointment as Finance Minister, Jaresko, a former U.S. diplomat, headed the U.S.-taxpayer-financed Western NIS Enterprise Fund (WNISEF), created in the 1990s to help jump-start an investment economy for Ukraine and Moldova. WNISEF was overseen by the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID).

WNISEF officials were limited to $150,000 in compensation a year, but Jaresko maneuvered to exceed that total, ultimately collecting more than $2 million a year by shifting management of WNISEF to her own private company, Horizon Capital, and arranging to get lucrative bonuses when selling off investments, even as the overall WNISEF fund was losing money, according to official records.

For instance, Jaresko collected $1.77 million in bonuses in 2013, according to WNISEF’s latest available filing with the Internal Revenue Service. In her financial disclosure forms with the Ukrainian government, she reported earning $2.66 million in 2013 and $2.05 million in 2014, thus amassing a sizeable personal fortune while investing U.S. taxpayers’ money supposedly to benefit the Ukrainian people.

Meanwhile, WNISEF continued to hemorrhage money, shrinking from its original $150 million to $89.8 million in the 2013 tax year, according to the IRS filing. WNISEF reported that the bonuses to Jaresko and other corporate officers were based on profitable exits from some investments even if the overall fund was losing money. [See’s “How Ukraine’s Finance Minister Got Rich.”]

Hailed as ‘Reformer’

Still, Jaresko and other foreigners who were brought in to fill key positions in the current Ukrainian regime were described as “technocrats” whose only interest was to bring good government to Ukraine, a country long saddled with institutionalized corruption. Jaresko was hailed as a Ukrainian “reformer” who – in the words of New York Times’ columnist Thomas L. Friedman – “shares our values.”

But Jaresko’s business history offers little reason for optimism about Ukraine rooting out official self-interest. Indeed, Jaresko would seem to fit the bill as a classic “crony capitalist,” someone who takes advantage of government connections to line his or her own pockets. Her failure to expeditiously comply with the Ukrainian Constitution and renounce her U.S. citizenship reinforces the view that she is more opportunist than reformer.

According to recent accounts from Ukraine, official corruption remains a deep-seated problem more than a year-and-a-half after the February 2014 overthrow of President Viktor Yanukovych, who was lambasted by the Western media for having a sauna in his official residence, the sauna becoming emblematic of his alleged abuse of power.

Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych

Prior to his ouster, Yanukovych and his government were targeted by the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP), which is funded by USAID, the same organization that hired Jaresko to run WNISEF, and Open Society, a foundation headed by George Soros, a hedge-fund billionaire who has profited off the financial destabilization of fragile governments.

OCCRP’s selective outrage over “corruption” raises questions as to whether it is a genuinely journalistic operation or a propaganda front for the U.S. government and Western business interests targeting regimes that don’t play ball. After all, Jaresko’s multi-million-dollar profiting off her relationship with the U.S.-taxpayer-funded WNISEF would seem to be a starker example of corruption than Yanukovych’s sauna.

The new U.S.-backed regime in Kiev also has enacted “reforms” that slash pensions, energy subsidies and other social programs (reducing the living standards of average Ukrainians) while moving to privatize Ukraine’s economy and encouraging large Western corporations to exploit the country’s resources including “fracking” for shale gas in eastern Ukraine.

According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, Ukraine has Europe’s third-largest shale gas reserves at 42 trillion cubic feet, an inviting target especially since other European nations, such as Great Britain, Poland, France and Bulgaria, have resisted fracking technology because of environmental concerns. An economically supine Ukraine is presumably less able to say no. [See’s “Beneath the Ukraine Crisis: Shale Gas.”]

This process in Ukraine also appears to have benefited from some greasing of the skids by hiring well-connected Americans besides Jaresko. Just three months after Yanukovych’s ouster, Ukraine’s largest private gas firm, Burisma Holdings, appointed Vice President Joe Biden’s son, Hunter Biden, to its board of directors. Burisma – a shadowy Cyprus-based company – also lined up well-connected lobbyists, some with ties to Secretary of State John Kerry, including Kerry’s former Senate chief of staff David Leiter, according to lobbying disclosures.

As Time magazine reported, “Leiter’s involvement in the firm rounds out a power-packed team of politically-connected Americans that also includes a second new board member, Devon Archer, a Democratic bundler and former adviser to John Kerry’s 2004 presidential campaign. Both Archer and Hunter Biden have worked as business partners with Kerry’s son-in-law, Christopher Heinz, the founding partner of Rosemont Capital, a private-equity company.”

According to investigative journalism inside Ukraine, the ownership of Burisma has been traced to Privat Bank, which is controlled by the thuggish billionaire oligarch Ihor Kolomoysky, who was appointed by the U.S.-backed “reform” regime to be governor of Dnipropetrovsk Oblast, a south-central province of Ukraine (though Kolomoisky was eventually ousted from that post in a power struggle over control of UkrTransNafta, Ukraine’s state-owned oil pipeline operator).

Also, regarding Western energy interests, on Dec. 13, 2013, when neocon Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland was pushing for Yanukovych’s ouster, she reminded Ukrainian business leaders that the United States had invested $5 billion in their “European aspirations” at a conference sponsored by Chevron. She even stood next to the company’s logo.

The Carpetbaggers

Jaresko was only one of several foreigners recruited by President Petro Poroshenko to fill key positions in the Ukrainian government, with these officials also granted instant Ukrainian citizenship. Along with Jaresko’s appointment last December, Poroshenko brought onboard Lithuanian Aivaras Abromavicius, a partner in investment firm East Capital, as Economy Minister and Georgian Aleksander Kvitashvili, who had served as Georgia’s health minister and labor minister, as Health Minister.

Last May, Poroshenko appointed ex-Georgian President Mikheil Saaskashvili to be governor of Ukraine’s restive Odessa region. Saaskashvili, who faces charges in Georgia for alleged abuse of power during his presidency, also received overnight Ukrainian citizenship but — unlike Jaresko — he announced that he had dropped his Georgian citizenship, a move that short-circuited his possible extradition back to Georgia.

Another foreigner whose appointment raised eyebrows was the choice of Estonian Jaanika Merilo to be put in charge of attracting foreign investments. Merilo was a Jaresko associate known more for her personal ties to wealthy business tycoons, such as English businessman and investor Richard Branson, and kinky online photos than her skills as a technocrat.

Janika Merilo, an Estonian brought into the Ukrainian government to
oversee foreign investments. (From her Facebook page via Zero Hedge)

The message from the new regime in Kiev may be that Ukraine is open for Western investment, but a less charitable interpretation is that Ukraine is open for unbridled exploitation led by foreign operatives with a history of self-dealing who are overseeing another — and possibly far grander — era of official corruption.

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.

Fourth and Long: Desperate Blairite Claque Conscripts Paris Massacre

Bleaters and Tweeters: On Briefly Being a Political Football

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

For the past few days, I’ve had the curious experience of being — peripherally, indirectly — a political football.

The original piece I wrote on the Paris bombing got picked up by StopTheWar UK, an organization associated with Jeremy Corbyn, and was then used by Labour Blairites and Tory twits to bash Corbyn for the “sickening” article, which showed what an ungodly radical he really was. He was later asked about it by the BBC.

Of course, I was not and am not associated with STW in any way.

Graphic: LabourPartySupporters

Without my knowledge or permission, someone at the organization put my piece on their website. (Not that I would have minded if I’d known, or refused permission if asked.) Then at some point later, someone removed it from the website. This too became cause for controversy, as it was “proof” of a radical conspiracy to hide what Corbyn and STW really believed, etc. etc.

Needless to say, I knew nothing of any of this as I sat at home reading the torrent of news about the attacks.


The first I heard of it was when someone came onto my Twitter timeline demanding that I confirm that my article had been the original “official position” of STW before it was later, dastardly pulled. This tweet was hooked to others — a whole gaggle of Blairites raging at the “despicable” article and how it showed the urgent need to purge Holy Tony’s party of Corbynite filth. A couple of MPs were apparently on the case as well, busily tweeting away about this all-important issue in the midst of the crisis. I must say, this petty, point-scoring exploitation of the attacks for political game-playing seems more “sickening” than anything I wrote.

As for the article itself — written as the opinion of a private citizen, not on behalf of any organization or institution — I honestly didn’t see what was so controversial about it. Is it really controversial to say that without the US invasion of Iraq, there would be no ISIS? I don’t think even the supporters of that war dispute this fact. Is it controversial to say that the NATO intervention in Libya has turned that country into a chaotic spawning ground for violent extremism? Is that a disputed fact in any way? Is it disputable that the United States and Britain overthrew a secular democracy in Iran in 1953 with the help of religious fundamentalists that US/UK spies helped organize and promote? I mean, I read it in the New York Times, so it must be true.

Is it disputable that the United States and Saudi Arabia helped organize a worldwide network of violent jihadis in order to provoke the Soviet Union into intervening in Afghanistan, then trying them down there for years, in order to “give them their own Vietnam?” This is the proud and open claim of one of the chief architects of that policy, former National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski. Did not Ronald Reagan sit down in the White House with the forerunners of the Taliban and al Qaeda, and praise them as “freedom fighters” and moral paragons, even as his administration supplied them with textbooks extolling violence and terrorism, thus indoctrinating a whole new generation? (The Taliban continuned to use the US textbook after taking over the country.) Has the West not plied the Saudis with money, weapons and kowtowing respect, even as they exported their retrograde Wahhabi sectarianism all over the world?

Finally, is it disputable in any way that these historical facts — and many others like them — have played a decisive role in forming the unstable and violent world we live in today? Is this controversial? I grant that it might be “sickening” — but it is still the truth.

Later, a couple of people wrote to say that although they agreed with the piece and “thought it needed to be said,” they objected to the phrase “reaping the whirlwind” in the headline. Somehow, a phrase encapsulating a process which — as I clearly wrote — has been taking place over many decades was somehow read as “blaming the victims.” Well, what can I say? I was raised a Southern Baptist by a Southern Baptist deacon; the Bible's tropes and cadences are in my head. “Reaping the whirlwind” is a good biblical phrase, well-known in the wider culture. It means just what it says — and just what I was trying to say: you sow violence, you reap violence. You spend decades destroying secular political movements in Middle Eastern countries, spend decades deliberately and openly fostering sectarian extremists as your proxies, spend decades in an open military alliance with the world’s chief peddler of retrograde Islamic extremism, spend years invading and destroying whole nations, leaving sinkholes of violence and ruin behind — and guess what? You’ll have a world crawling with violent sectarian groups that have the means to strike back at you when you strike them. Again, I made the specific point that what we were seeing was the result of decades of policies and actions. It was in no way “blaming the victims” on the Paris streets; it was saying — very clearly — that there would have been no victims on the Paris streets if not for these actions and policies.

But I’m sure very few of the Blairite bleaters and Tory twit-tweeters actually read the article. Certainly none of them took issue with its substance. They saw a headline that set their hive-mind going, in a setting — the STW website — that could be exploited to make partisan hay, and off they went. Of course, except for that first Tweeter, no one ever contacted me to find out if I actually was a STW “activist” or member, as they happily and witlessly repeated around the country.

Anyway, the dogs have barked and the caravan, as they say, has already moved on, to other witless and inaccurate game-playing and partisan hackery. And our leaders continue down the same path — more bombing, more repression, more fearmongering and hate-fomenting — which they well know will only lead to more death and destruction across the world. Unfortunately for the rest of us, their murderous folly is not a game.

UPDATE: Now (Tuesday) it seems that the article is being brought up in Parliament, as David Cameron -- and several blood-eyed Labour MPs -- rail at Corbyn for "the "Stop the War" tweet" about “reaping [the] whirlwind of western support for extremist violence in Middle East”. Again, it is patently obvious that no one involved in this entirely manufactured moral apoplexy has actually read the article in question. The fake outrage is being used both as a stick to stir up the poisonous brew of political gaming, and as a diversion from any serious, measured -- and above all, informed -- discussed of the situation, and the best ways to deal with it. A very instructive episode all around.

UPDATE 2: After a long day of seeing the article egregiously mischaracterized not only by the giants of statesmanship in Parliament but also by the founts of savvy wisdom throughout the UK press, I sent the brief statement below to a couple of reporters in the national media. Needless to say, naught came of it. But I append the statement below just for, as they say, the hell of it.

Just for the record: I wrote the original blog post behind the controversy over the "Stop the War tweet" mentioned in Parliament today. I wrote it for my own political blog, Empire Burlesque. I have nothing to do with Stop the War UK. Someone there picked it up from my blog, altered the headline, then later removed the post, all without my knowledge. I knew nothing of it until someone tweeted me about it. My original article did not say the attack was "the fault of the French" nor did my headline mention "Paris". Given the broad historical context of the piece, the reference was clearly that we, the whole world, are all reaping the whirlwind of the policies and actions described in the article — going back several decades, not just to the interventions and approaches of the recent past.

There is very little that is controversial or disputable about the historical facts I noted in the post; for example, even Tony Blair admits that the Iraq War was instrumental in the rise of ISIS. But I doubt very seriously that any of the people now pouncing on the article to make great shows of moral outrage have actually read the piece. I'm sorry to see that they would rather indulge in petty political game-playing than engage in a serious, measured discussion about the best response to the Paris atrocities.

Again, I am not a member of Stop the War. I am not a member of the Labour Party. I was speaking as a private citizen -- an American citizen with a British family. The article dealt almost wholly with US, and to a lesser degree, UK policy. It did not "blame the French." It did not "blame the victims." Nothing absolves the perpetrators of the Paris massacres; this is so self-evident that it seems insulting or condescending to have to spell it out. They chose to do evil, and the responsibility is their own. But neither can we keep pretending that these horrific eruptions spring out of nowhere, or that the proper response to them is to continue the policies of violent intervention and supporting extremism for geopolitical purposes that have brought us to this hell in the first place.