Saturday, June 25, 2016

Brexit Smexit: Vote Makes No Difference in the End

Despite the Vote, the Odds Are Against Britain Leaving the EU

by Paul Craig Roberts  - ICH

June 24, 2016

The Brexit vote shows that a majority of the British voters understand that the UK government represents interests other than the interests of the British people.

As difficult as the British know it is to hold their own government to account, they understand they have no prospect whatsoever of holding the EU government to account. During their time under the EU, the British have been reminded of historical times when law was the word of the sovereign.

The propagandists who comprise the Western political and media establishments succeeded in keeping the real issues out of public discussion and presenting the leave vote as racism. However, enough of the British people resisted the brainwashing and controlled debate to grasp the real issues: sovereignty, accountable government, financial independence, freedom from involvement in Washington’s wars and conflict with Russia.

The British people should not be so naive as to think that their vote settles the matter. The fight has only begun. Expect:

— The British government to come back to the people and say, look, the EU has given us a better deal. We can now afford to stay in.

— The Fed, ECB, BOJ, and NY hedge funds to pound the pound and to short British stocks in order to convince the British voters that their vote is sinking the economy.

— More emphasis on the vote’s weakening of Europe, leaving all to the mercy of “Russian aggression.”

— Hard to resist bribes (and threats) to prominent members of the leave majority and pressure on such leave leaders as Boris Johnson to be reasonable, conciliatory and to maintain good relations with Washington and Europe, and to reach a compromise on remaining in the EU.

— Expect the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) to attribute the loss of British jobs and investment opportunities to the leave vote.

Once you learn to think about how things really are and not as the presstitutes present them,
you will be able to add to the list all by yourself.

Remember, the Irish voted against the EU and pressure was kept on them until they reversed their vote. This is the likely fate of the British.

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, How America Was Lost, and The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

In the Footsteps of Napoleon: NATO Moves Toward Russia Criticised from Within and Without

Putin Calls Out NATO's 'Insecurity Agenda'

by Finian Cunningham - RT

June 23, 2016 

Russia’s repeated – and rebuffed – calls for security cooperation proves it is not Russia, but NATO which is the source of Europe’s instability and geopolitical tension.

Not for the first time, President Putin this week sought to allay fears that Russia presents a security threat to Europe and the US.

He was speaking on the 75th anniversary of Nazi Germany’s invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter
Steinmeier admonishes NATO

Putin boldly referred to historical similarities. He pointed to how the US-led NATO military alliance is increasingly aggressive towards Russia, with the stinging implication this development by the supposedly “freedom and democracy promoting” alliance takes its precedence from the Third Reich and Operation Barbarossa.

The fact that NATO just completed its biggest-ever maneuvers in Poland this month – Operation Anaconda involved 31,000 troops – simulating an attack on Russia is not without dark historical resonance.

Putin also said the serious security threat posed by terrorism required a collective, international response. But he added that Russia’s repeated calls for collective action have been rebuffed by Western countries. He lamented the Western attitude of maintaining “bloc-like” security policies – as manifested in the form of NATO – instead of forming an international security body. And Putin compared the complacency of Western nations today on the question of cooperating in the defeat of terrorism to a similar indifference among Western states during the 1930s towards the rise of Nazi Germany.

The Russian leader told lawmakers in the State Duma: “NATO is stepping up its aggressive rhetoric and its aggressive actions close to our borders… In these conditions we are obliged to dedicate special attention to resolving tasks connected with heightening the defense capabilities of our country.”

While Russia is beefing up its defense capabilities, Moscow’s emphasis is unmistakably on diplomacy, dialogue and cooperation – not as a partner with NATO but as a member of a genuinely multilateral security organization.

The world needs a “modern, non-bloc collective security system,” said Putin. “Russia is open to discuss this crucial issue and has more than once shown its readiness for dialogue, but, just as it happened on the eve of World War Two, we do not see a positive reaction in response.”

So, if the United States and its European allies are decidedly reluctant to refashion a new international security arrangement, what does that mean?

The obvious conclusion is that the proponents of NATO are not primarily motivated by maintaining security through cooperation. NATO proponents are more interested in perpetuating Cold War ideological divisions in the world that revolve around a mentality of “us and them”.

The creation of blocs, camps, demarcations and divisions is connected to the necessity of certain nations being compelled to dominate others and to exercise hegemony. Let’s cut to the chase: that power mindset most fittingly describes the United States which sees itself as the exceptional, superpower that must not brook any ‘rival’, meaning equal.

But, surely, equality is the essence of democracy and universal human rights? That the rulers in Washington do not fundamentally share those values is the key to understanding the source of much dysfunction in international relations and rule of law.

The NATO-bloc approach to international relations, also by necessity, creates external enemies when such enemies do not actually exist.

At the St Petersburg International Economic Forum last week, President Putin concisely captured the nefarious logic: “NATO needs a foreign enemy; otherwise it would have no reason for the organization’s existence.”

Of course, the 28 members of NATO do have real enemies or security problems, such as jihadist terror groups and mass migration. But why NATO does not address these problems more effectively – by forming a collective, international security organization, as Russia proposes – is because the NATO leadership under the United States is much more concerned about maintaining its hegemony through carving out global divisions.

Unfortunately for Russia, it is the “foreign enemy” the US and its NATO advocates require in order to perpetuate divisions, insecurities and the very existence of NATO itself.

The tremendous paradox of this is that NATO is far from serving as the architecture for security in the North Atlantic and Europe that it purports to be. It is the source of instability and insecurity.

German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier last week admonished NATO for “saber-rattling” and “warmongering” with its “provocative” military exercises in Poland towards Russia. He instead called for “more dialogue and cooperation with Moscow.”

It was a remarkably refreshing admission of reality by a senior NATO member. And it is notable how this “outburst” of sanity has since been ignored by other NATO states and the Western media.

Steinmeier’s comments corroborate what Russia has long been saying; that NATO’s activities and build-up across Eastern Europe is the provocation, not alleged Russian malfeasance.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov also attempted to break through the illusory NATO narrative when he said recently:

“Every serious and honest politician is well aware that Russia will never invade any NATO member.”

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, said constant NATO declarations about defending Baltic States and Poland from Russian aggression are “completely absurd because they are discussing a non-existent problem.”

It is absurd, but from NATO’s point of view it is completely logical. For in that logic, there resides the rationale for massive military spending that props up the US economy; the continued domineering political control by Washington over European affairs; and the rewarding American patronage for European politicians who conform to the NATO agenda.

One such politician is the former Norwegian Prime Minister Jens Stoltenberg, who became NATO’s civilian titular head in 2014. He is one of the mantra-like voices warning about Russia’s threat to Europe and the need for NATO strength. One wonders what kind of salary Stoltenberg would obtain if he hadn’t the NATO gig?

Ahead of the British referendum this week on whether to stay or leave the European Union, Stoltenberg weighed in with a vigorous plea for a Remain vote. His line of argument was that Britain is an important member of NATO and the EU, and that “strength and unity” are vital for security.

Closer to the truth is that NATO’s “strength and unity” is the source of much of Europe’s insecurity. Not only has it driven Europe’s refugee crisis by its members interfering unlawfully in Libya, Syria, Afghanistan and Iraq; the military organization has cynically driven a dangerous and totally unnecessary cleavage between Europe and Russia.

Putin’s inference of NATO as representing a modern-day threat following in the historical tank tracks of Nazi Germany is appropriate.

NATO’s record of propagating instability and insecurity is patent. When one considers the real, ulterior purpose of NATO at its founding in 1949 – “to keep the Russians out, the Germans down and the Americans in” – this baleful legacy should not be surprising.

But the proof of the argument follows Russia’s proposal for a new collective, international security cooperation. NATO’s refusal to meet this reasonable proposal betrays its real agenda of confrontation and insecurity.

In that way, Vladimir Putin succeeded in calling out the true nature of NATO. Unwillingness speaks volumes.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

Finian Cunningham (born 1963) has written extensively on international affairs, with articles published in several languages. Originally from Belfast, Northern Ireland, he is a Master’s graduate in Agricultural Chemistry and worked as a scientific editor for the Royal Society of Chemistry, Cambridge, England, before pursuing a career in newspaper journalism. For over 20 years he worked as an editor and writer in major news media organizations, including The Mirror, Irish Times and Independent. Now a freelance journalist based in East Africa, his columns appear on RT, Sputnik, Strategic Culture Foundation and Press TV. 

Houston, Texapocalypse

Stuck in Houston on the Cusp of the Apocalypse

by David Yearsley

June 24, 2016 

There’s that mythic line from America’s long-abandoned manned lunar space adventures: “Houston, we have a problem.” Nearly fifty years on, I can correct that statement from my hotel room in the city’s so-called downtown some twenty-five miles from the Space Center where those words first came to earth: Houston, you’re the one that’s got the problem.

It’s you who’s been abandoned by all but the destitute, who seek shade from the early summer heat in the highway underpasses that moat the central district.

One can assume that there are sometimes people in the corporate skyscrapers and heavily fortified apartment buildings downtown. They scuttle between the towers in skyways and tunnels. But these cryogenic shut-ins aren’t city-dwellers as that concept has been understood for several millennia. Speaking of lunar landings, the downtown rich might as well be on the moon.

I’ve come to Houston to write concert reviews for the American Guild of Organists’ biennial convention. Checking into the hotel last Sunday evening the vast, frigid lobby was full of some odd characters—and I don’t just mean the organists. There were also people dressed up in outlandish outfits, from winsome mice to muscly heroes—some martial, some whimsical (not that you can’t be both: look at any US Prez of the last twenty-five years — and the next eight). A comic convention was just concluding. I peered through the potted palms in search of someone to pitch my Organ Man idea to: when so called upon, the unassuming air-conditioning technician Jimmy Buxtehude pilots a giant mobile organ that transforms into a thousand-barreled weapon for good …

Before I could make my move I was collared by a colleague, and dreams of a ten-picture deal were sucked up into the air handling ducts towards a giant Chihuly chandelier of fiery red and orange.

At last I made it to the elevator and dropped my bag in my room overlooking the Toyota Center where the Houston Rockets play basketball. Next to it there was city block of transformers required to deal, I guess, with the energy demands of this concrete entertainment bunker. Beyond this spread a bleak and unpeopled landscape. Was the terrain habitable—or even inhabited?

I went in search of tacos.

Out in the moist and welcoming heat—a good thirty degrees warmer than the hotel’s stifling climate—a brick monolith beckoned above the low palm trees and magnolias ringing what appeared to be a park.

I made my way towards a building, which, without a trace of irony, proclaimed itself to be One Park Place, so named because it looks onto Houston’s Discovery Green. This luxury apartment block faced with brick rises up nearly forty floors to neo-Victorian gables and a pitched roof crowned by what, from street level, looks like wrought iron, but surely isn’t. The building’s jokey allusions to nineteenth-century architecture of a more human scale makes the absurdity of its size and isolation, even though placed at the purported geographic center of Houston, all the more blatant and depressing.

There is a grand piano in the narrow lobby that gives onto the green. The instrument invites us to imagine we are looking into a mansion on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. In five days of walking past this entrance I saw no one enter the building here, not to mention sit down and play the piano. The residents arrive and escape by car.

After dark this Steinway looks as abandoned and forlorn as any human figure in an Edward Hooper painting. Silent and sullen, this accoutrement of a forgotten era stares out from its interior emptiness into the urban emptiness beyond. Is it an alien? A lunar lander? Or simply another of the city’s tombstones?

As for Discovery Green, it is a bell-shaped public space of abraded grass paired and a water feature grandly called Kinder Lake—actually a bleakly artificial basin of straight lines and right angles given the natural touch along one flank with a bit contouring. You can rent kayaks if you really want to investigate the pond’s misguided assertion that water alone equals the natural world. Actually, Kinder Lake isn’t so much bigger than the palm-lined pool on the massive terrace several floors above street level of One Park Place—an oasis in the sky visible on Google Earth.

The Green itself is less a park than a platform onto which have been plunked life-size architectural models: a free-standing café and restaurant and across the Avenida de Las Americas the convention center—a manically happy eyesore of bright white topped by goofy red pipes that seem to refer to the air intake pipes of old steamers. One just wishes this Titanic would be towed from its blighted berth down the Buffalo Bayou (the city’s sluggish central water way) to a breaking yard on Galveston Bay.

Taking in this post-urban desert not from above, but from the edge of Discovery Green, I fell into a conversation with a homeless man as we watched a couple of kids kick a soccer ball around the otherwise unpopulated lawn in the golden Gulf light of early evening. The air was humid but hardly stultifying enough on its own to keep people away.

My local informant told me that there is ice-skating on the Green at Christmas. He called it crazy, and I agreed, adding this Brueghelesque scene, unimaginable in the June heat, to the already growing accumulation of paradoxes I’d tallied up in my first hour in the city, and to which would be added so many more in the five summer days I would spend downtown and moving from it to points far beyond.

Houston is a megalopolis of astounding contradictions, the main one being the fact that, though the city is one of the fastest growing in the USA, with cranes everywhere visible pulling clusters of new glass towers from the plain, the geographic center nostalgically called “downtown” feels like a neutron bomb hit it. Only a few mutant souls like myself survive to walk its streets.

Houston is infamous as the American city most enslaved to the automobile. That’s quite an achievement in this auto-crazed country. Yet throughout the day many of the four lane boulevards in the center of town are virtually empty of traffic. They reminded me of the broad socialist avenues of the Eastern Block in the late days of the Cold War.

What I began sardonically calling the historic Art Deco district—a low-slung huddle of bars and empty storefronts—clings to less than a quarter of block at the corner of Dallas and Caroline Streets. New luxury apartments will soon put this enclave into still deeper shadows. Several blocks is Main Street, a lifeless boulevard of surreal flowerbeds and a valiant light rail line that, in terms of mass transit, is the equivalent to pissing into the daily hurricane of Houston’s freeway exhaust. On this once busy boulevard another can be admired another rare architectural remnant of a more vibrant past. The Rice Hotel is now dark at street level.

Scrubby, puddled parking lots alternate with skyscrapers, perfect to the point of abstraction. Looking up you sometimes think you’re seeing a 3D photograph on an architect’s webpage. But then you remember it’s real, in a way, and that the whole point is literally to be belittled—to be made little—by the glass encased egos of Philip Johnson and I. M. Pei and other men.

How to survive in this post-urban environment on the cusp of apocalypse?

My strategy was to meet contradiction with contradiction: instead of driving, I would walk.

Next Week: The Long March to the West.

DAVID YEARSLEY is a long-time contributor to CounterPunch and the Anderson Valley Advertiser. His recording of J. S. Bach’s organ trio sonatas is available from Musica Omnia. He can be reached at
More articles by:David Yearsley

Friday, June 24, 2016

War Hawks Come Out for Hillary

Mideast war architects back Clinton over Trump

by Patrick Martin  - WSWS

24 June 2016  

Retired Lieutenant General Brent Scowcroft, who has held top national security positions in Republican administrations going back to Richard Nixon, endorsed Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton Wednesday.

Scowcroft was National Security Adviser to two presidents, Gerald Ford and George H. W. Bush, and played a major role in US policy in wars of aggression from Vietnam to the Persian Gulf.

In an email distributed to friends and associates, mainly in the Republican foreign policy establishment, and shared by them with the press, Scowcroft wrote that former Secretary of State Clinton “brings deep expertise in international affairs, and a sophisticated understanding of the world,” which he said were “essential for the Commander-in-Chief.”

Scowcroft sees eye-to-eye with Clinton in seeking to maintain the dominance of American imperialism in global politics. “Secretary Clinton shares my belief that America must remain the world’s indispensable leader,” he declared.

“She understands that our leadership and engagement beyond our borders makes the world, and therefore the United States, more secure and prosperous.”

While not referring to Republican candidate Donald Trump, Scowcroft implicitly compared Clinton’s experience to Trump’s, writing,

“Her longstanding relationships with a wide array of world leaders, and their sense of her as a strong and reliable counterpart, make her uniquely prepared for the highest office in the land … She brings deep expertise in international affairs and a sophisticated understanding of the world, which I believe are essential for the commander-in-chief.”

Scowcroft specifically cited Clinton’s role as Secretary of State during the Israeli war on Gaza in 2012, and in mobilizing “a global coalition to impose a sanctions regime on Iran.” He made no mention of Clinton’s support for the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, which Scowcroft himself opposed, or her advocacy of a more aggressive US intervention in the Syrian civil war. Instead, he portrayed her as a cautious advocate of military force, saying,

“She appreciates that it is essential to maintain our strong military advantage, but that force must only be used as a last resort.”

In endorsing Clinton, the 91-year-old Scowcroft is giving her the stamp of approval of the vast US military-intelligence apparatus, where he has played an important role for nearly half a century. A career Air Force officer, he went to work in the Nixon White House in 1969 as an assistant to Henry Kissinger, then Nixon’s national security adviser, moved to an advisory position with the Joint Chiefs of Staff (the Vietnam War was then at its height), before moving back to the White House in 1972 as military assistant to the president, then as Kissinger’s deputy from 1973 to 1975, a period that includes such crimes as the Christmas bombing of Hanoi and the US-backed military coup in Chile, in which tens of thousands were slaughtered.

In November 1975, President Gerald Ford named Scowcroft his national security adviser. During his 14 months in that position, the US government backed the Indonesian invasion of East Timor in which as many as 200,000 Timorese were killed by death squads of the military dictatorship.

Scowcroft left government after Ford’s defeat, taking a lucrative position at Kissinger Associates advising US corporations on foreign policy matters, serving on several advisory commissions under the Reagan administration, then returning to the White House as national security adviser for President George H. W. Bush from 1989 to 1993.

Among the major military operations launched by the US government during this period were the 1989 invasion of Panama, the 1990-1991 Persian Gulf War, in which hundreds of thousands of Iraqis were incinerated by US bombs and missiles, and the dispatch of troops to Somalia in 1992. Scowcroft also played a major behind-the-scenes role in the US policy during the collapse of the Stalinist regimes in Eastern Europe and the disintegration of the Soviet Union in 1991.

Scowcroft’s one moment of public notoriety came when he visited Beijing in December 1989, six months after the Tiananmen Square massacre, and was televised warmly saluting the Chinese leaders and inviting them “as friends to resume our important dialogue.”

In the subsequent political uproar, it was revealed that Scowcroft had actually visited Beijing previously, in July 1989, a few weeks after the bloodbath, to reassure the Stalinist butchers that the Bush administration’s public denunciations were only for show. In reality, US imperialism welcomed the slaughter of Chinese workers and youth, which paved the way for the restoration of capitalism in China and the transformation of China into a cheap-labor haven for transnational corporations.

That such a figure embraces Hillary Clinton and publicly praises her views on foreign and military policy speaks volumes about the right-wing course that a second Clinton administration would adopt. If anything, Clinton has adopted an even more hawkish posture than Scowcroft, who opposed the 2002 authorization for the war against Iraq which Clinton voted for in the US Senate.

A second prominent Republican war criminal, former Pentagon official Richard Armitage, announced last week that he would vote for Clinton over Trump. Armitage has a record of involvement in the wars of US imperialism just as long as Scowcroft’s, although he held less senior positions.

His backing of Clinton is perhaps even more revealing than Scowcroft’s, because Armitage is a more hands-on militarist who has played a direct, personal role in some of the foulest crimes of American imperialism. A naval officer in Vietnam, Armitage is widely reported to have been involved in the Phoenix Program, in which more than 20,000 Vietnamese were assassinated by US special forces and CIA operatives. He later became a defense attaché at the US embassy in Saigon.

From 1976 to 1978, the former military-intelligence operative ran an export-import business based in Bangkok, Thailand, allegedly part of the notorious CIA operation to export heroin from the Golden Triangle area of Burma, Thailand and Laos, where US-backed anti-communist Chinese warlords sustained their exile military forces by harvesting the crop.

After returning to the United States to work for Senate Republican leader Bob Dole, Armitage became a foreign policy adviser to candidate Ronald Reagan, moving on to increasingly high-level positions in the Pentagon. As Assistant Secretary of Defense for International Security Affairs (1983-1989) he was responsible for all international security, special operations and counter-terrorism programs during the period of intensive US arming of death squads in Central America and the covert war against Nicaragua.

The special prosecutor investigating the Iran-Contra scandal, Lawrence Walsh, reportedly considered indicting Armitage for his role—he certainly knew of and approved the shipment of Israeli weapons, supplied by the US, to Iran—but eventually decided that Armitage was not a central player.

Armitage followed his patron Colin Powell into the Bush administration, serving as Powell’s chief deputy during his four years as Secretary of State (2001-2005), where he played an important role in promoting the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. He was also the official who leaked the name of CIA agent Valerie Plame to the media, in retaliation for statements by her husband, diplomat Joseph Wilson, opposing the war in Iraq.

Again, that such a thug for American imperialism, linked to assassinations, drug-peddling, gun-running and illegal wars, publicly declares his support for Democratic presidential candidate provides another yardstick for measuring the reactionary nature of both the Democratic Party and a future Clinton administration.

The War On Weed: And the Winner Is...Monsanto!?

The War on Weed Is Winding Down But Will Monsanto Be the Winner?

by Ellen Brown - Dissident Voice

June 23rd, 2016

The war on cannabis that began in the 1930s seems to be coming to an end. Research shows that this natural plant, rather than posing a deadly danger to health, has a wide range of therapeutic benefits. But skeptics question the sudden push for legalization, which is largely funded by wealthy investors linked to Big Ag and Big Pharma.

In April, Pennsylvania became the 24th state to legalize medical cannabis, a form of the plant popularly known as marijuana. That makes nearly half of US states. A major barrier to broader legalization has been the federal law under which all cannabis – even the very useful form known as industrial hemp – is classed as a Schedule I controlled substance that cannot legally be grown in the US. But that classification could change soon.

In a letter sent to federal lawmakers in April, the US Drug Enforcement Administration said it plans to release a decision on rescheduling marijuana in the first half of 2016.

The presidential candidates are generally in favor of relaxing the law. In November 2015, Senator Bernie Sanders introduced a bill that would repeal all federal penalties for possessing and growing the plant, allowing states to establish their own marijuana laws. Hillary Clinton would not go that far but would drop cannabis from a Schedule I drug (a deadly dangerous drug with no medical use and high potential for abuse) to Schedule II (a deadly dangerous drug with medical use and high potential for abuse). Republican candidate Donald Trump says we are losing badly in the war on drugs, and that to win that war all drugs need to be legalized.

But it is Green Party presidential candidate Dr. Jill Stein who has been called “weed’s biggest fan.” Speaking from the perspective of a physician and public health advocate, Stein notes that hundreds of thousands of patients suffering from chronic pain and cancers are benefiting from the availability of medical marijuana under state laws. State economies are benefiting as well. She cites Colorado, where retail marijuana stores first opened in January 2014. Since then, Colorado’s crime rates and traffic fatalities have dropped; and tax revenue, economic output from retail marijuana sales, and jobs have increased.

Among other arguments for changing federal law is that the marijuana business currently lacks access to banking facilities. Most banks, fearful of FDIC sanctions, won’t work with the $6.7 billion marijuana industry, leaving 70% of cannabis companies without bank accounts. That means billions of dollars are sitting around in cash, encouraging tax evasion and inviting theft, to which an estimated 10% of profits are lost. But that problem too could be remedied soon. On June 16, the Senate Appropriations Committee approved an amendment to prevent the Treasury Department from punishing banks that open accounts for state-legal marijuana businesses.

Boosting trade in the new marijuana market is not a good reason for decriminalizing it, of course, if it actually poses a grave danger to health. But there have been no recorded deaths from cannabis overdose in the US. Not that the herb can’t have problematic effects, but the hazards pale compared to alcohol (30,000 deaths annually) and to patented pharmaceuticals, which are now the leading cause of death from drug overdose. Prescription drugs taken as directed are estimated to kill 100,000 Americans per year.

Behind the War on Weed: Taking Down the World’s Largest Agricultural Crop

The greatest threat to health posed by marijuana seems to come from its criminalization. Today over 50 percent of inmates in federal prison are there for drug offenses, and marijuana tops the list. Cannabis cannot legally be grown in the US even as hemp, a form with very low psychoactivity. Why not? The answer seems to have more to do with economic competition and racism than with health.

Cannabis is actually one of the oldest domesticated crops, having been grown for industrial and medicinal purposes for millennia. Until 1883, hemp was also one of the largest agricultural crops (some say the largest). It was the material from which most fabric, soap, fuel, paper and fiber were made. Before 1937, it was also a component of at least 2,000 medicines.

In early America, it was considered a farmer’s patriotic duty to grow hemp. Cannabis was legal tender in most of the Americas from 1631 until the early 1800s. Americans could even pay their taxes with it. Benjamin Franklin’s paper mill used cannabis. Hemp crops produce nearly four times as much raw fiber as equivalent tree plantations; and hemp paper is finer, stronger and lasts longer than wood-based paper. Hemp was also an essential resource for any country with a shipping industry, since it was the material from which sails and rope were made.

Today hemp is legally grown for industrial use in hundreds of countries outside the US. A 1938 article in Popular Mechanics claimed it was a billion-dollar crop (the equivalent of about $16 billion today), useful in 25,000 products ranging from dynamite to cellophane. New uses continue to be found. Claims include eliminating smog from fuels, creating a cleaner energy source that can replace nuclear power, removing radioactive water from the soil, eliminating deforestation, and providing a very nutritious food source for humans and animals.

To powerful competitors, the plant’s myriad uses seem to have been the problem. Cannabis competed with the lumber industry, the oil industry, the cotton industry, the petrochemical industry and the pharmaceutical industry. In the 1930s, the plant in all its forms came under attack.

Its demonization accompanied the demonization of Mexican immigrants, who were then flooding over the border and were widely perceived to be a threat. Pot smoking was part of their indigenous culture. Harry Anslinger, called “the father of the war on weed,” was the first commissioner of the Federal Bureau of Narcotics, a predecessor to the Drug Enforcement Administration. He fully embraced racism as a tool for demonizing marijuana. He made such comments as “marijuana causes white women to seek sexual relations with Negroes, entertainers and any others,” and “Reefer makes darkies think they’re as good as white men.” In 1937, sensational racist claims like these caused recreational marijuana to be banned; and industrial hemp was banned with it.

Classification as a Schedule I controlled substance came in the 1970s, with President Richard Nixon’s War on Drugs. The Shafer Commission, tasked with giving a final report, recommended against the classification but Nixon ignored the commission.

According to an April 2016 article in Harper’s Magazine, the War on Drugs had political motives. Top Nixon aide John Ehrlichman is quoted as saying in a 1994 interview:

The Nixon campaign in 1968, and the Nixon White House after that, had two enemies: the antiwar left and black people. . . . We knew we couldn’t make it illegal to be either against the war or black, but by getting the public to associate the hippies with marijuana and blacks with heroin, and then criminalizing both heavily, we could disrupt those communities. We could arrest their leaders, raid their homes, break up their meetings, and vilify them night after night on the evening news. Did we know we were lying about the drugs? Of course, we did.

Competitor or Attractive New Market for the Pharmaceutical Industry?

The documented medical use of cannabis goes back two thousand years, but the Schedule I ban has seriously hampered medical research. Despite that obstacle, cannabis has now been shown to have significant therapeutic value for a wide range of medical conditions, including cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, glaucoma, lung disease, anxiety, muscle spasms, hepatitis C, inflammatory bowel disease, and arthritis pain.

New research has also revealed the mechanism for these wide-ranging effects. It seems the active pharmacological components of the plant mimic chemicals produced naturally by the body called endocannabinoids. These chemicals are responsible for keeping critical biological functions in balance, including sleep, appetite, the immune system, and pain. When stress throws those functions off, the endocannabinoids move in to restore balance.

Inflammation is a common trigger of the disease process in a broad range of degenerative ailments. Stress triggers inflammation, and cannabis relieves both inflammation and stress. THC, the primary psychoactive component of the plant, has been found to have twenty times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone.

CBD, the most-studied non-psychoactive component, also comes with an impressive list of therapeutic benefits, including not against cancer but as a super-antibiotic. CBD has been shown to kill “superbugs” that are resistant to currently available drugs. This is a major medical breakthrough, since for some serious diseases antibiotics have reached the end of their usefulness.

Behind the Push for Legalization

The pharmaceutical industry both has much to gain and much to lose from legalization of the cannabis plant in its various natural forms. Patented pharmaceuticals have succeeded in monopolizing the drug market globally. What that industry does not want is to be competing with a natural plant that anyone can grow in his backyard, which actually works better than very expensive pharmaceuticals without side effects.

Letitia Pepper, who suffers from multiple sclerosis, is a case in point. A vocal advocate for the decriminalization of marijuana for personal use, she says she has saved her insurance company $600,000 in the last nine years, using medical marijuana in place of a wide variety of prescription drugs to treat her otherwise crippling disease. That is $600,000 the pharmaceutical industry has not made, on just one patient. There are 400,000 MS sufferers in the US, and 20 million people who have been diagnosed with cancer sometime in their lives. Cancer chemotherapy is the biggest of big business, which would be directly threatened by a cheap natural plant-based alternative.

The threat to big industry profits could explain why cannabis has been kept off the market for so long. More suspicious to Pepper and other observers is the sudden push to legalize it. They question whether Big Pharma would allow the competition, unless it had an ace up its sleeve. Although the movement for marijuana legalization is a decades-old grassroots effort, the big money behind the recent push has come from a few very wealthy individuals with links to Monsanto, the world’s largest seed company and producer of genetically modified seeds. In May of this year, Bayer AG, the giant German chemical and pharmaceutical company, made a bid to buy Monsanto. Both companies are said to be working on a cannabis-based extract.

Natural health writer Mike Adams warns:

[W]ith the cannabis industry predicted to generate over $13 billion by 2020, becoming one of the largest agricultural markets in the nation, there should be little doubt that companies like Monsanto are simply waiting for Uncle Sam to remove the herb from its current Schedule I classification before getting into the business.

. . . [O]ther major American commodities, like corn and soybeans, are on average between 88 and 91 percent genetically modified. Therefore, once the cannabis industry goes national, and that is most certainly primed to happen, there will be no stopping the inevitability of cannabis becoming a prostituted product of mad science and shady corporate monopoly tactics.

With the health benefits of cannabis now well established, the battlefield has shifted from its decriminalization to who can grow it, sell it, and prescribe it. Under existing California law, patients like Pepper are able to grow and use the plant essentially for free. New bills purporting to legalize marijuana for recreational use impose regulations that opponents say would squeeze home growers and small farmers out of the market, would heighten criminal sanctions for violations, and could wind up replacing the natural cannabis plant with patented, genetically modified (GMO) plants that must be purchased year after year. These new bills and the Monsanto/Bayer connection will be the subject of a follow-up article.

Stay tuned.

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.

Britons Never Ever Will Be Slaves!

¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

June 24, 2016 

“Those who expect to reap the blessings of freedom must undergo the fatigue of supporting it.” Thomas Paine

British voters delivered a savage deathblow to the EU corporate superstate on Thursday sending global markets tumbling and forcing Prime Minister David Cameron to announce his resignation.

The narrow victory, which caught the prognosticators by surprise, is the strongest sign yet that working people across the continent are awakening to economic and political disaster that has been created in the name of European integration.

Not only has the EU failed to live up to its promise of lifting all boats and widening prosperity, it has also transformed the region into a low-growth, high unemployment charnel house where bankers and their corporate allies siphon off the wealth of the weaker states to enrich high-flying speculators and voracious bondholders.

And while the referendum’s outcome will surely be challenged in the months to come, it represents a critical turning point in the public’s attitude towards a thoroughly reactionary and odious institution that is solely responsible for the abysmal state of the economy, the progressive erosion of living standards, and steady rise of right wing extremism.

Here’s a short clip from Raul Ilargi Meijer explaining what Brexit really means:

“Nobody seems to understand it’s not about Cameron or Nigel Farage, or Michael Gove vs Boris Johnson, it’s about voting for or against the EU, for or against Juncker and Tusk and five other unelected presidents having a say in one’s life.

And that’s not all either. It’s about voting to leave, or remain in, a Union that is already dead and preserved only in a zombie state. Brexit is just one vote and many more will inevitably follow. Brexit is not the first, Grexit had that ‘honor’ last year. Later this month, elections in Italy and Spain have the potential to turn into preliminary Italix and Spexit votes. And then there will be more.

The reason why these things are taking place, and will be, going forward, is that the economies of all these countries are fast deteriorating. The sole reason why people have accepted the rule of Brussels coming from far away over their daily lives, is the promise that it would make those lives better and more comfortable. That promise has been shattered. The EU has made things worse for most Europeans, not improved them. And when seen in that light, why should people agree to continue to be told what to do by those who’ve made them poorer? There’s no democratic model in which that remotely makes sense. There are only undemocratic models left….

An economy in decline means the end of centralization and the end of existing political power structures. This is inevitable.” (“Murder, Lifeboats, an Iceberg and an Orchestra“, Automatic Earth)

The Brexit referendum represents a fundamental rejection of austerity for working people and subsidies (QE) for the markets. It is an indictment of the destructive policies that have thrust a broad swathe of southern Europe into a permanent depression while bankers in Paris and Berlin make out like bandits. Even now the loathsome European Central Bank continues to run up massive debts (ECB-QE is $80 billion per month) just to line the pockets of corporate CEOs who offload their toxic bonds with the clear intention of using the money to buyback their own shares further enriching themselves and their swinish shareholders at the expense of ordinary investors. This Ponzi-rip off is what passes as economic policy in the EU. Brexit threatens put an end to this huckster’s swindle. Here’s a little more background from the World Socialist Web Site:

“The EU is an instrument of the ruling classes of Europe for the imposition of brutal austerity measures—most directly on the workers of Greece, of Spain, Portugal and Ireland, but also on workers in the UK, France and Germany….Prime minister, Cameron, has even proclaimed an “Age of Austerity” as his government imposes cuts of £210 billion, (€263 billion), equivalent to over 10 percent of Britain’s GDP, at the cost of the destruction of 20 percent of all public sector jobs, millions more in the private sector and the decimation of vital services.

The EU is second of all an instrument of military aggression. It is a vital ally of NATO in its escalating conflict with Russia and China as the US and European powers seek to control all of the world’s markets and resources—including vital oil and gas riches commanded by the Putin regime in Moscow and the giant production platform manned by billions of super-exploited workers led by President Xi Jinping in Beijing.” (“The Brexit referendum and the struggle for socialism“, World Socialist Web Site)

Brexit is also a rejection of incoherent immigration policies whose objective is to accommodate the millions of victims of US war-making in the Middle East. EU leaders should make every effort, including economic sanctions, to stop Washington from arming and training extremist proxies that are currently fighting in Syria and who have forced roughly 4 million refugees to flee to Europe for safety. Europe shouldn’t be blamed for the blowback from America’s bloodthirsty foreign policy.

Even so, Brussel’s unwillingness to stand up to Washington on this matter has allowed radical elements to emerge whose xenophobia is fueling widespread anti-immigrant hysteria. In the US, GOP hopeful, Donald Trump has capitalized off anti-immigrant sentiment making a wall along the Mexico border a central tenet of his platform.

Trump issued a statement shortly after the results of the EU referendum were announced. He said:

“The people of the United Kingdom have exercised the sacred right of all free peoples. They have declared their independence from the European Union and have voted to reassert control over their own politics, borders and economy. A Trump administration pledges to strengthen our ties with a free and independent Britain, deepening our bonds in commerce, culture and mutual defense. The whole world is more peaceful and stable when our two countries – and our two peoples – are united together, as they will be under a Trump administration.

 Come November, the American people will have the chance to re-declare their independence. Americans will have a chance to vote for trade, immigration and foreign policies that put our citizens first. They will have the chance to reject today’s rule by the global elite, and to embrace real change that delivers a government of, by and for the people. I hope America is watching, it will soon be time to believe in America again.”

Trump owes his popularity entirely to the mismanagement of the US economy which–like the EU–provides trillions for Wall Street while leaving Main Street to fend for itself. The widening of inequality is paralleled by the rise in political extremism which is hastening the dissolution of the EU superstate and the move towards war. And Britain is just the tip of the iceberg. According to a recent survey by the Pew Research Center, only 38 percent of people in France had a favorable view of the EU, down from 69 percent in 2004. (which is lower than the level of support in the UK). Similarly, only 47 percent of the Spanish population holds a favorable view of the EU, down from 80 percent in 2007.

The EU has shown that it is as incapable of reform as it is of accepting responsibility for perpetuating a financial crisis that began 7 years ago and persists to this very day. It has also demonstrated repeatedly that it will not hesitate to inflict as much economic pain as possible on its victims unless they comply with its counterproductive edicts. Worst of all, the strict rules of the EU make it impossible for state representatives to follow the will of their people or to act in a way that serves their own national interests. Any deviation from Brussel’s neoliberal consensus is likely to end up before the European Court of Justice where the mega corporations have the upper hand. By leaving the EU, Britain will restore its sovereignty and strengthen its democracy. Ambrose Evans Pritchard summed it up like this:

“Stripped of distractions, it comes down to an elemental choice: whether to restore the full self-government of this nation, or to continue living under a higher supranational regime, ruled by a European Council that we do not elect in any meaningful sense, and that the British people can never remove, even when it persists in error.”

Hat’s off to the British voters who had the guts to reject the EU corporate slavestate and cast their ballot for freedom. You’re an inspiration to us all.
MIKE WHITNEY lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at
More articles by:Mike Whitney

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Sound and Fury for Hope and Glory: Brexit Choice and Other Fallacies

Brexit Sideshow: Another False Choice

by William A. Cohn  - ICH

June 23, 2016

Distraction for further corporate traction

All the noise around the Brexit referendum, once again shows the power of agenda setting in the corporate controlled mainstream media. The utility of the Brexit debate for corporatocracy is in distracting the public from its power to learn, organize and mobilize in exposing myth vs. reality.

Recently, we have seen free trade agreements exposed as enabling corporate lobbyists to subvert the public sphere standards on law, adjudication, and intergovernmental organization, skewing the relationship between the state, citizen, and corporation. WikiLeaks and the Panama Papers have empowered people to learn and act.

The media deluge on Brexit in recent weeks affords another case study of the smoke and mirrors agenda-setting and consent-manufacturing role of plutocracy. Once again, a false choice is presented so as to perplex and instill fear in the public. Stay the course or cut rope? Well, how about neither? How about something else, like building new institutions? How about organizing society from the bottom-up rather than the top-down?

Just as the corporate media proclaimed that Hillary won the democratic nomination before she had, they say that Britons will vote today to Remain rather than Leave the EU, before they vote – a variation on more overt tactics of disenfranchisement. The tragic murder of British MP Jo Cox one week ago has been used to push this preordained conclusion.

Whether or not the foregone conclusion of the corporate media comes to pass, thankfully, starting tomorrow, we will have to hear less about the so-called debate on Brexit – a debate which has been marked by lies, omission, and fear-mongering. New issues will capture the headlines, and new false choices will be presented. Ignore them as best you can.

It is summer time. Unplug your electronic devices, time to read books. Here are some good one’s: Bad Samaritans by Ha-Joon Chang (exposing the lies of rich nations which rewrite history in service of free trade ideology); News: The Politics of Illusion by Lance Bennet; Absurdistan by Gary Shteyngart; Democracy Incorporated by Sheldon Wolin; Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo. Knowledge is potential power, to be acted upon, towards building new and better ways of organizing our world.

William A. Cohn, professor of jurisprudence at New York University, and lecturer on law, ethics and critical thinking at the University of New York in Prague, is now teaching Free Trade: theory and practice.

Lithium Dreams - Musk Readying for Transportation's Next Step

Move Over Oil – Lithium Is The Future Of Transportation 

by James Stafford -

Jun 21, 2016

Just a few years ago, we would have scoffed at the idea that electric vehicles could be mainstream anytime soon, or that the global appetite for lithium-ion batteries and mass power storage would be so voracious, and so sudden. Today, no one is scoffing, and lithium is being viewed as our new super-mineral that will catapult us firmly into the next century.

Now Tesla has started buying up Nevada and building its battery gigafactory, with competing gigafactories following suit and competing electric vehicle (EV) manufacturers all throwing billions at this fast-moving market that no one has been able to keep up with.

Not only has the EV taken its first major leap into the mainstream—most notably indicated by Tesla’s phenomenal advance sales of its affordable Model 3—but it’s gone beyond the mainstream.

Electric vehicles will be the rule rather than the exception; and lithium the number one commodity of our time.

Germany has mandated that all new cars registered in the country will have to be emissions-free by the year 2030. And to make this a reality, the government has cut a deal with automakers to jointly spend $1.4 billion on incentives to boost electric car sales. They’re hoping to sell 500,000 EVs by 2020. So they’re subsidizing the EV industry, and giving lithium an automatic boost at a time when it doesn’t even need it.

Norway is following suit as well, working on legislation to outright ban the sale of gasoline-powered cars by 2025.

And in the U.S., the Wall Street Journal now reports that the mainstream popularity of electric cars will reduce gasoline demand by 5% to 20% over the next two decades, assuming that EVs gain more than 35% market share by 2035.

While our energy revolution got off to a slow start, better cars at more affordable prices, tighter air-pollution regulations and a growing global desire to halt climate change have pushed the revolution over the edge. It’s all powered by lithium, which has always enjoyed steady demand just from our consumer electronics cravings—but is now about to go where no mineral has gone before.

Tesla Motors (NASDAQ:TSLA), Nissan Motor Co. (OTC:NSANY), Hyundai Motor Co. (OTC:HYMTF) and Volkswagen AG (ETR:VOW3) are all putting out EVs, and Ford Motor Co. is planning to invest $4.5 billion over the next four years to develop an amazing 12 new EVs and hybrids, according to the WSJ.

“Electric vehicles are one of the biggest market disruptors in centuries—which makes lithium the commodity that gives us the most reason to be bullish,” Oroplata Resources CEO Craig Alfred told

Let the Hoarding Begin

Metal hoarding and demand is driving up prices to $15,000 per ton or higher on the spot market, vs. only $5,000 a couple years ago.

In 2014, lithium prices grew 20%. And in 2015 battery grade lithium spot prices in China surged from $7,000 per ton in the middle of the year to a market-shocking $20,000 per ton earlier this year.

Market consumption could triple from 160,000 metric tons to a staggering 470,000 metric tons by 2025. And even if the EV market share increased by only 1%, it would raise lithium demand by 70,000 metric tons—which is about half of today’s demand.

This has made the commodity—described by Goldman Sachs as the “new gasoline” a prime target for the break-out of junior miners who are keen to get in on what has traditionally been an oligopoly. These juniors will be just as disruptive to the market as EVs themselves.

In the race to secure new lithium supply acreage, the juniors are relentless, and the newest junior on the scene is Oroplata Resources, Inc., which recently staked its own claim in Tesla’s backyard, with the 100%-owned Western Nevada Basin project.

Close to home—and close to the North America EV center stage—there’s nowhere else to be but Nevada, which has the only brine-sourced lithium in the country and has strategically positioned itself to be the front line of the American energy revolution.

The ‘gigafactory’ state is now the scene of the hottest activity since the California gold rush, and the new entrants are scrambling to stake their claims around the only producing lithium mine in America--Albermarle’s Silver Peak Mine.

According to Fortune magazine, by some estimates the Silver Peak Mine alone “holds the promise of even greater untapped riches of the valuable metal buried beyond the mine.”

The juniors are betting that Nevada’s Clayton Valley Basin holds a lot more lithium than we have ever imagined, and geology may just prove them right.

“Never before has there been commodity supply that is this fantastically tight,” says Alfred of Oroplata Resources, which has just confirmed the presence of “highly anomalous lithium values” from its Western Nevada Basin project, right in the heart of the state’s lithium ground zero.

“Right now it’s all about getting it out of the ground first and becoming the next suppliers of a revolution that’s already unfolding at a phenomenal pace.”

Musk would agree. When he cut the ribbon on the new gigafactory he noted that he alone would use up most of the world’s existing lithium supply.

“In order to produce a half million cars per year…we would basically need to absorb the entire world’s lithium-ion production,” Musk said.

And that’s just one man, one brand of EV and one gigafactory. The race is indeed on to be the first to get at new lithium supply—and there is every reason to be bullish on the new juniors who will disrupt the entire market.

The Devil You Say! California Leads Way to Ending Atomic Power Era with Diablo Decommissioning

Diablo Shutdown Marks End of Atomic Era

by Harvey Wasserman - EcoWatch

June 23, 2016
As worldwide headlines have proclaimed, California’s Pacific Gas and Electric (PG&E) says it will shut its giant Diablo Canyon reactors near San Luis Obispo, and that the power they’ve been producing will be replaced by renewable energy.

PG&E has also earmarked some $350 million to “retain and retrain” Diablo’s workforce, whose union has signed on to the deal, which was crafted in large part by major environmental groups.

On a global scale, in many important ways, this marks the highest profile step yet towards the death of U.S. nuclear power and a national transition to a Solartopian green-powered planet. Diablo Canyon in California.

For Californians, as we shall see, there’s an army of devils in the details, which cannot be ignored. But let’s deal with the big picture first.

The three most important lines on nuke power’s Diablo tombstone may be these:

1. A major U.S. utility has admitted that the energy from a nuke—one of the world’s biggest—can be effectively replaced with renewables.

Over the past decade the nuke industry has spent more than $500,000,000 hyping an utterly failed “nuclear renaissance” partly on the premise that green power can’t make up for the energy production lost by shutting reactors. One of the world’s top nuclear utilities has now signed a major public document saying that this is not true.

2. A major union has approved an agreement that provides retraining for soon-to-be-displaced workers at a soon-to-be-shut nuke.

For years the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW) and other unions representing atomic workers have fought reactor shut-downs because of lost jobs. The IBEW’s partnership in this agreement shows that with planning and funding, a smooth transition for displaced reactor workforces can be charted.

3. The agreement was crafted with leadership from two major national environmental organizations—Friends of the Earth (FOE) and the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC).

The corporate “nuclear renaissance” hype has conjured up a cadre of “environmentalists for nuclear power.” Like clockwork the corporate media breathlessly reports from time to time that formerly green activists are now flocking like lemmings to the atomic sea.

Thus the Wall Street Journal recently published a major feature alleging a pro-nuke shift at the Sierra Club, which it then mutated into yet another re-run of the “greens for atoms” meme. The piece was sharply denounced by Sierra Club’s executive director Michael Brune, who reaffirmed the club’s staunch opposition to nuke power.

As environmental mainstays, FOE and NRDC’s role in this Diablo agreement re-confirms the core stance of a green community whose “No Nukes” stance has deepened since Fukushima and with the rise of renewables. Greenpeace, the Abalone Alliance, Mothers for Peace, Alliance 4 Nuclear Responsibility, World Business Academy in Santa Barbara and many others hold more fiercely than ever to the anti-nuke/pro-renewables positions they’ve sustained for decades.

A tiny, top-down “greens for nukes” front group is currently shouting around California in support of Diablo. But this agreement renders the “atomic environmentalist” charade even more marginal.

Meanwhile corporate media outlets throughout U.S. have accepted this Diablo news as nuclear power’s definitive death notice. The SFGate called it the “End of an Atomic Era.” I saw it reported that way on a streaming news wire high above downtown Cleveland. What Linda Seeley, a multi-decade veteran of the San Luis Obispo Mothers for Peace, thought was a local radio interview went nationwide on NPR.

Closing Diablo will make our largest state nuke-free. The agreement embodies the sixth and seventh U.S. reactor shut-downs announced in the last month, the fifteenth and sixteenth since 2012. WPPSS2, the only other operating reactor on the west coast, is bleeding cash and may be among the next to go.

Safe energy activists can warmly embrace this announcement. More have been arrested at Diablo than any other U.S nuke. This would never have happened without citizen activism.

So all you tried and true “No Nukes” greenies … go out and have a party!

But … then listen to the rest of the news, and get back to work.

• What PG&E has actually announced is something that’s been expected for quite a while, which is that it won’t pursue NRC re-licensing. The agreement thus predicts closures in 2024 and 2025, when Diablo’s current licenses expire.
• But unlicensed operations continue at New York’s Indian Point. Fail-proof legal safeguards are needed to make sure that doesn’t happen at Diablo.

• The agreement comes just prior to a crucial June 28 hearing in front of the California State Lands Commission. PG&E wants the State Land Commission to renew leases issued in 1969 and 1970 that allow Diablo’s cooling systems to pollute coastal territory. Just after that, then-Gov. Ronald Reagan signed the California Environmental Quality Act, imposing a wide range of requirements and reporting on state lands. Diablo can’t meet those requirements, and PG&E doesn’t want to do the studies.

At least two of the three commissioners have indicated they would expect PG&E to now comply with CEQA. But many fear this agreement might incline them to now let those requirements go unenforced until the alleged new shut-down date, rather than forcing the reactors to close in 2018 and 2019, when the leases expire. Grassroots activists are circulating petitions and exerting as much pressure as they can to make sure the commissioners hold the line.

• PG&E is now in what amounts to a federal murder trial, and may hope this agreement will soften the prosecution. Despite repeated warnings, in 2010 the company’s badly maintained gas network blew up in San Bruno. It killed eight people through what amounts to criminal negligence. The usually docile California Public Utilities Commission has already fined the company $1.4 billion. PG&E executives may see this agreement as something of a federal plea bargain in an extremely serious prosecution.

• Worldwide studies show cancer and infant disease rates climb when reactors open, and decline when they shut. Such numbers have been confirmed at Diablo and at Rancho Seco in studies commissioned by the World Business Academy, which warns that the longer Diablo operates, the more the public health will suffer.

• Diablo is in clear violation of state and federal water quality laws. It daily sucks in 2.5 billion gallons of sea water which it returns far hotter (18-20 degrees Farenheit) than allowable. Regulatory hearings on the near horizon would tell whether PG&E will be forced to build cooling towers to spew the heat into the air instead of the water. Cooling tower cost estimates range from $2 billion to $14 billion. Should the towers be required, PG&E would face a wild melee over who’d pay for them. But faced with a shut-down date, regulators might just let Diablo continue in violation (as has been done at New Jersey’s Oyster Creek).

• PG&E may be short hundreds of millions of dollars in funds necessary to decommission Diablo. Bitter disputes have already erupted over decommissioning San Onofre and other down U.S. reactors, including Vermont Yankee. Major technical problems, including serious leaks, have already emerged at Diablo and are certain to escalate in both confrontation and cost.

• PG&E and its fellow centralized utilities worldwide are terrified of home-owned roof-top solar panels, whose escalating spread could spell their doom. While hyping its entry into the solar world, PG&E will continue to assault net-metering and other essentials of the distributed generation revolution that threatens its core.

• The agreement includes no guarantee from Mother Nature that one of the dozen earthquake faults surrounding the plant won’t go off before the reactors finally shut. Diablo is half the distance from the San Andreas that Fukushima was from the epicenter of the quake that destroyed it. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s former resident inspector Dr. Michael Peck has warned PG&E has never proven Diablo could withstand such a shock.

• Tsunami expert Dr. Robert Sewell has also testified that a nearby undersea landslide could cause a wave capable of destroying Diablo, including its vulnerable intake pipes. His official report has been buried by the NRC for more than a decade.

There is more …

But above all, no independent observer believes PG&E has signed this agreement out of love for the planet, its workers, the public well-being or the spirit of the law. It could mark a significant leap toward shutting Diablo Canyon, but it does not seal its fate. Indeed, unless accompanied with fierce activism, some fear it could offer PG&E political cover to prolong its operations.

Globally, this landmark treaty embodies a nuclear utility’s admission that renewables can replace nukes, that union-endorsed provisions can ease the transition for workers at closing reactors and that a purported “green shift” to nuke power is mere industry hype.

None of which mitigates the reality Diablo Canyon could be melting as you read this. No matter what this agreement says, no matter when the anointed close-down date … until those reactors at Diablo Canyon are dead, dismantled and somehow buried, we all live at the brink of a potential apocalypse.

Harvey Wasserman’s SOLARTOPIA! OUR GREEN-POWERED EARTH is at, along with his upcoming AMERICA AT THE BRINK OF REBIRTH: THE ORGANIC SPIRAL OF US HISTORY. With Bob Fitrakis he has co-authored six books on election protection ( He was arrested at Diablo Canyon in 1984.


Diablo Canyon Nuclear Reactors to Be Replaced With 100% Renewable Energy

No Brexit for Corporate Rule and a Future of Perpetual War

The Coming End of the EU-USA Military Industrial Complex?

by Afshin Rattansi - CounterPunch

June 23, 2016

The hallmark of the months leading to today’s EU referendum has been horrifying censorship. One can but hope that Noam Chomsky’s dictum that censorship is a “brand on the imagination” and that it affects those who have “suffered it forever” does not apply.

The British electorate has been treated to a fake debate about issues that mask some of the most critical issues of our time. And that’s even if the issues will not be addressed whoever wins in the early hours of Friday morning.

The Right wing case for Britain leaving the EU is as idealistic as it is bizarre. It arises from the complexities of EU-formation. The Right accurately remembers the elite liberal Left which wanted to impose fairness “from above” given their despair at electorates unwilling to fight for revolution. The Right is blinded by memory – of a misty past of speeches about “Euro-Communism” and “Social Democracy” by people who no longer matter. To the Right, all the “free market reforms” fostered by EU institutions are forgotten. Maybe, idealistic free marketeers look the other way because the results of the EU experiment are clear: free markets inevitably lead to corporate monopoly power crushing the will of the people. Free markets lead inexorably to concentrations of wealth and power. To inequality and – before the uptick – austerity.

The Left wing case for Britain remaining in the EU is not really Left wing at all. It is founded on atavism and pessimism about the working classes of Europe. To this section of society, the EU can somehow be reformed from within. They believe elite governments in Europe – already out of touch with their own electorates – can negotiate in Brussels and Strasbourg with corporations, on the same terms.

The idea of being able to reform the European Union by negotiation is fantasy. In the U.S. context, it would be a bit like a future President Bernie Sanders transplanting Washington’s “K Street” of lobbyists into the West Wing for fruitful discussion about creating a fairer America. There is no negotiation to be had, except around the edges. Every aspect of the EU is targeted to one goal, to create a militarily powerful satellite of the United States that borders Africa and Eurasia, underpinned by corporate power. For every progressive law the EU has successfully passed, a hundred hurl millions into economic catastrophe.

It took months before UK politicians knew the acronym “TTIP” – so ignorant are they about the consummation of the marriage between Eurocrats and the kind of people you might meet on the ski slopes of Davos every winter. UK Prime Minister David Cameron was forced to make a statement denying that Britain’s National Health Service – a chronically underfunded but visionary universal healthcare system – would be broken up and destroyed by TTIP. Will it sway today’s vote? Actually, the secret deal to empower corporations to take on democratically mandated legislation in EU states may have already hit the buffers.

There’s another trade deal – between Canada and the U.S. – which could formalise the power of U.S. multinationals over European legislation. We didn’t hear anything about CETA before the referendum. Nor did we hear anything about the brutality of EU institutions when it came to what the UN now calls the worst refugee crisis in history.

Even famous NGO charities who are usually reticent about entering “the political” are privately askance about EU policy on refugees. One minute it’s border fences, the next it’s paying cash to prospective EU members to dump children fleeing wars. Where is the recognition that European powers have been at the front of the queue baying for war, from the Atlantic to the Persian Gulf, from the Baltic to the Caspian? Sometimes, even in Latin America.

The liberal commentariat decries the xenophobia of right wing Brexiteers. It argues that the BREXIT club is furnished by those who want to do harm to refugees. No one can surely join a club so full of racists, they say. Presumably, it would be like people voting for Donald Trump because they didn’t want an Iraq War which has killed, displaced or wounded millions.

What liberal “remainers” don’t say is that they are in a club with the IMF, Goldman Sachs and a politician who carries out thousands of targeted assassinations, President Obama.

Because, Britons voting today should not be in any doubt that a vote to remain in the EU is a vote to catalyse the Lehman Brothers disasters of the future. The EU exists –pre-eminently – to forge a deregulated world with vulture funds and private equity that contaminates every aspect of relations between human beings. From cradle to grave, there will be the privatisation of public space let alone education, health and aspiration. Not only that, but there’s something even more financially lucrative than the European health market : war.

War will be a privatised Europe’s crowning achievement. With EU connivance, it killed hundreds of thousands in Yugoslavia in the 1990s. And that was only a precursor. For when trade deals entrench the U.S. armaments industry in EU institutions, even chemical additives in food fade into the background as an issue.

The EU will do nothing about climate change except create “markets” to trade in gruesome carbon credits. And climate change and wars for resources will give ample opportunity for EU nations to wage war for one side or another. The EU will create phantasms and spectres for people to hate. Human rights policies will be conjured to attack the enemies of U.S. corporate capital: statist nations, countries that refuse to bow down to the orthodoxy of open capital markets.

If there is hope on the horizon regardless of today’s vote – it is that the rest of the world is gathering forces. China no longer looks the other way as President Obama attempts to place ever more bases around it. Together with Russia, it will not play ball with the neoliberal power-plays of Washington and its EU client bloc. And fissures are developing fast. Britain, whichever way the vote is swung, will be a member of the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. When it seeks urgent infrastructural capital, or when it seeks lenience from big BRICS power over steel it will have to tow the line from BRICS capitals. It’s a line that will be towed at the expense of EU membership. And domestic electoral change in EU nations amidst the continuing fallout of Lehman 2008, will inevitably lead to the breakdown of negotiations.

So ironically, both sides in today’s referendum will win. The EU will have to reform because the peoples of Europe will have none of the EU-US military-industrial complex. Whether what is born is called the EU or a new kind of economic bloc, tied to emerging markets, it must happen. If the UK votes out, it will merely be the beginning of the end of a failed project, like the Berlin Wall 27 years before it. It must fail because with the threat of climate change to the threat of nuclear war, humanity depends on it.

Afshin Rattansi is host of RT’s award-winning Going Underground news and current affairs show broadcast around the world. He will be joining Julian Assange on the eve of the referendum for a live webcast from the Ecuadorian Embassy in London as well as a special edition of Going Underground on Saturday.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Sanders' Clinton Appeasement Paves Way for Further Syria Conflagration

Bernie’s Quasi-Concession Speech and Hillary’s Syrian War to Come

by Gary Leupp  - Dissident Voice

June 19th, 2016

In his quasi-concession speech last Thursday, broadcast without a live audience (probably due to the fear of loud boos), Bernie Sanders began with the observation: “Election days come and go. But political and social revolutions that attempt to transform our society never end.”

In other words: Even if I concede, I want the movement I generated to continue.

Citing various ongoing mass movements, he declared: “And that’s what this campaign has been about over this past year. That’s what the political revolution is all about.”

Subtext: It’s all about bringing you kids into the Democratic Party—in order to change it.

Then comes the now-familiar self-congratulation about winning 22 state primaries and caucuses, and repetition of his wonted insistence that “our vision for the future” is not a “fringe idea” and not a “radical idea.” “It is mainstream.”

This tells us that what will follow will be very mainstream. It is followed by the observation that in all the primaries Sanders won among people under 45. “These are the people who ARE the future of our country.” He extensively praises the youth for all their phone calls and canvassing, and even youth burdened with student debt for making campaign contributions.

“This campaign has never been about any single candidate. It is always about transforming America.”

This is followed by about one-fifth of the speech devoted to enumerating the various “disgraces” of contemporary American reality without ever once using the word capitalism. He then segues into the Trump issue:

“The major political task that we face in the next five months is to make certain that Donald Trump is defeated and defeated badly.” Meaning, “we” will all have to — as our major task — back the Wall Street candidate Clinton versus the racist buffoon.

The meat of the presentation occurs not quite midway through, with depressing reference to the Wednesday meeting between Sanders and Clinton and their spouses, from which Sanders emerged beaming.

“I recently had the opportunity to meet with Secretary Clinton and discuss some of the very important issues facing our country and the Democratic Party.” In other words: capitulation.

This is where the boos would have started at a rally. Opportunity? Really, Uncle Bernie, you make it sound like an honor to chit-chat with Wall Street’s warmonger.

“It is no secret that Secretary Clinton and I have strong disagreements on some very important issues. It is also true that our views are quite close on others. I look forward, in the coming weeks, to continued discussions between the two campaigns to make certain that your voices are heard and that the Democratic Party passes the most progressive platform in its history and that Democrats actually fight for that agenda.”

In other words, she’s not so bad after all. I want you all to take a second look at Hillary and get ready to work with her.

Then follows a long litany of needed reforms in the Democratic Party and its platform — by all appearances a feisty demand for change — culminating in a call to young people to run for office and “engage on that level.”

Buried in this list is the following milquetoast statement: “We must take a hard look at the waste, cost overruns and inefficiencies in every branch of government–including the Department of Defense. And we must make certain our brave young men and women in the military are not thrown into perpetual warfare in the Middle East or other wars we should not be fighting.”

Just 55 words out of 2752, or under 2% of the speech dealt (elliptically) with Hillary’s forte: imperialist foreign policy, and her particularly bloody role since her days as First Lady, when she cheered on the U.S./NATO destruction of Yugoslavia to her support for the Iraq war as senator to her super-hawkish role as secretary of state always advocating more troops, more bombing, more war from Pakistan to Syria to Libya (and thus creating more hatred, blowback, terrorism and geographical expansion of al-Qaeda and ISIL).

In concluding, Bernie declares, “We have begun the long and arduous process of transforming America, a fight that will continue tomorrow, next week, next year and into the future.”

In other words, with sugarplum dreams in your heads, you will campaign for Hillary (doing it for me, kids!) and get her into office so she can help implement our long-term domestic reform agenda, while she expands the anti-Russian NATO military alliance, provokes Russia in Ukraine and Syria, and almost surely ratchets up the level of U.S. military action in several Middle Eastern countries.

That’s what I call disgraceful.

But the sheep need not allow themselves to be herded by the sheepdog. My two children, 26 and 30, are among the “Bernie or Bust”crowd. They’re the ones who inspired my own limited enthusiasm for the Sanders campaign. There is no way they will vote for Hillary, the virtual heroine of the military-industrial complex.

And if someone says, “Well, you have to! We have a two-party system, and there’s no other option!” they will reply with their own proper logic and explicatives.


While Sanders prepares to throw in the towel, Chintonites in the State Department posture to get her attention as most useful allies in her Syrian “no fly zone” plans.

It’s unusual for 51 State Department employees to not only sign and submit to their department superiors, but to leak to the press, a petition urging another blatantly illegal and inevitably disastrous, illegal, murderous regime-change war, such as the U.S. has conducted in Iraq and Libya.

That it has occurred is doubtless (as former high-ranking CIA agent Ray McGovern has opined on RT TV) a bid by Hillary Clinton-appointed low-ranking State Department officials to curry favor with the past Goldwater Girl and future President Clinton (known to be a bloodthirsty soulless Kissinger in a pantsuit hell-bent to leave her mark on the Middle East—just like the way her husband left his mark on the butchered, still-bleeding Balkans that our press never mentions). Some promotions in store, no doubt.

Isn’t it obvious that they’re lining up support for a showdown with Russia? The Wall Street Journal reports: “Obama administration officials have expressed concern that attacking the Assad regime could lead to a direct conflict with Russia and Iran.” Well, duh.

My guess is that Hillary will risk that. The sad thing is that she’ll have some erstwhile Bernie supporters (firmly against the “billionaire class” but clueless about U.S imperialism in general) standing there behind her, and likely Bernie himself. Some “political revolution” — that channels its children into another imperialist war, maybe the biggest, most reckless one yet.

Maybe this time the war will occur under conditions of military conscription, targeting as always 18 to 25-year-olds, now including women, no college deferments applicable.

What a triumph for Hillary it will be should boys and girls both die in World War III.

Gary Leupp is a Professor of History at Tufts University, and author of numerous works on Japanese history. He can be reached at:
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