Saturday, July 02, 2016

Smearing of Russian and Syrian Saviours of Palmyra Academic

Accusation claims Syrian and Russian troops are looting Palmyra! - INDICTMENT NOT PROVED

by Franklin Lamb

June 29, 2016 


“Syrian Troops Looting Ancient City Of Palmyra, Says Archaeologist.” 

So shouted the highly respected UK Guardian’s headline of June 1, 2016 on the eve of the opening day of this month’s two-day Berlin Convergence attended by more than 170 scientists, archaeologists, architects and planners.

The gathering of experts was convened to discuss how best to preserve Syria's, and our heritage, despite the five-year-old war that has killed more than 280,000 people and has also resulted in serious damage to our globally shared Cultural Heritage.

Within minutes the UK Daily Mail and AFP followed suit and ran a similar hyped and dramatic story without questioning the accuracy of the presented claims. Within hours the accusations ricocheted widely around the Internet saturating this little planet or ours.

What gave the story initial credibility was that it came from the lips of the highly respected German archeologist, Dr. Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation and former President of the German Archaeological Institute.

Some excerpts from Dr. Parzinger’s media briefings in Berlin:

“Syrian regime and Russian troops are looting the ancient city of Palmyra just like the Islamic State jihadis who controlled it until March, 2016 ...Their soldiers are conducting illegal excavations and are looting the UNESCO World Heritage site”

Writing in the Frankfurter Allegemeine Zeitung, while conceding that the retaking of Palmyra was “an important victory for our cultural heritage” (Dr. Parzinger’s words), he continued:

“Despite the liberation, we shouldn’t act like everything is alright now. And this victory has not made Bashar al-Assad and his backers the saviors of cultural heritage”.

The accuser continued:

“Assad’s soldiers too plundered the ruins of Palmyra before the Isis takeover, and their rockets and grenades indiscriminately pounded the antique columns and walls when this promised even the slightest military advantage.”

The above photo taken on 6/22/2016 by this observer illustrates how during their 8 month occupation, ISIS jihadists, often high on the drug captagon would“shoot up” the ruins. Sometimes coming close to toppling some of the columns with their Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG’s).

How to fix the column shown above is beyond this observer’s knowledge. ISIS also left behind much graffiti to be discussed subsequently by this witness as it offers probative insights into ISIS’ lack of knowledge about Islam.

Speaking again to media, Dr.Parzinger insisted that Syrian troops, when they are off-duty, “are conducting illegal excavations” and “have looted the UNESCO World Heritage site”.

A Syrian government army officer guards the Temple of Bel. Palmyra’s archeological treasures area were damaged, but not decimated, as some have erroneously claimed, by Isis in October 2015. The entire area of the ruins since the liberation of Palmyra in March, 2016 has been very tightly guarded and protected by Syrian forces. It awaits restoration. My investigatory inquiries, aided by trusted friends and archeologists not involved in politics and some of whom this observer has known for four years and who are today working on the scene revealed no looting by government forces or by anyone else.

Where is the proof to the contrary on which Dr. Parzsinger bases his indictment targeting Syrian and Russians soldiers? 

So if this observer were to challenge respected archeologist Parzsinger’s indictment, and I most emphatically do, what relevant, probative, and material circumstantial evidence can I offer dear reader to carry my own burden of proof that this respected archeologist is sorely mistaken?

One argument focuses on the Syrian people’s deep connection with their land, civilization and cultural heritage and their deeply felt obligation to protect and preserve it for those who will follow them. Their progeny.

As an American who loves his country, misses it and expects to return before long, I confess that our 250 year old country has not connected with me to the same degree as 10,000 years of this cradle of civilization seems to have with its people. I sometimes feel a bit of remorse and I have occasionally contemplated whether the difference one feels among the Syria people for their past is cultural, congenital- (they somehow acquired it from their mother’s milk), or perhaps it’s genetic and imprinted over many millennia into the Syrian people.

I don’t know the precise cause but it’s there and perhaps even stronger among the armed services. “We feel a duty to protect our heritage maybe more than not military citizens do”, according to a general who is in charge of protecting all ruins and also the National Museum of Palmyra. Half a dozen uniformed officers nodded in agreement with my speculations at the meeting on this question that took place at the Syria Army’s Command headquarters on 6/22/2016, barely a few hundred meters from the damaged Arc de Triomphe.

My interlocutors offered several examples of how they protect the sites and why in their view it was not possible for any looting to be done these days either by soldiers or anyone else.

Backing up their testimonies in private conversations with this observer were several non-military, non-political career archeologists, some who have worked in the area for decades and a couple of whom I have known for a few years during my own work here in Syria. They explained in detail to this observer what the army has been doing since it expelled ISIS in mid-March 2016.Their work includes, but is not limited to the following:

For 30 days, accompanied by 11 explosive sniffing dogs, Syrian and Russian troops cleaned the whole cultural heritage area, which spans several acres, of more than 4000 booby trap high explosive devices.
The army also cleansed the National Museum at Palmyra of booby-traps. And they did much more at the museum. They literally swept out trash and debris from all the floors and help collect, secure and box up chips of stone from the base the 74 statues and busts whose hands and faces ISIS had chiseled off.
As the photo below illustrates the Syrian army brought in its empty ammunition crates to pack with artifacts some of which had been quickly stashed by Museum employees just as ISIS fighters started to arrive to Palmyra in 2015. Most of the hidden treasures were not discovered by ISIS and are now in safe keeping.

As there has not been any serious military threat at Palmyra since late March of 2016, the Syrian army with some help from Russian forces, from Generals to new recruits, is massively involved in what their Commander, General X (anonymity requested) explained in great detail to this observer. His exact words, repeated more than once were, “Repair the Infrastructure, Infrastructure, Infrastructure those are our orders!” which as dear reader is likely aware was very heavily damaged.

Most roads, including the main 160 km Homs to Palmyra highway appear now to be in good shape. During its eight month occupation of the area, ISIS blew up large stretches of the highways leading from Palmyra heading west to Homs for about 10 km. One expert pointed to the distant desert hills above the highway and explained to this observer:

“One terrorist with medium sized artillery or even a 50 mm gun mounted on the back of a small pickup can close the highway and keep it closed. They did this by hiding and living in holes and tunnels and they came out mainly to fire on any vehicle using the highway and thus they largely prevented its use.” 

As dear reader may recall even as late as April-May the Syrian army fought ISIS along a ten km stretch of the main Palmyra Homs highway.

Water, electricity, rubble removal, garbage collection, helping returning residents, sympathetically answering their anguished questions (about 20-30 residents are returning every week these days) who fled to Homs and to make their houses safe and explosive free, also mediating on occasion civil disputes are some of the current roles of the Army, not to mention checking structural damage to the home of returnees.

On 6/22/2016, the first and only “supermarket” as it is called locally (frankly it’s not quite what some of us might think of as a supermarket…..only one room street level/opening probably 18 ft. x 30 ft., but it sells lots of basics-some piled high) flour, eggs, baby milk powder, tinned vegetables, coffee, tea, plenty of fresh just picked fruits and vegetables and plenty more formerly hard to come goods.

With the cooperation of the Syrian army, Russian soldiers have opened a bakery and they distribute free bread to all who need it.

Soldiers from the Syrian and Russian armies, and this American were also at the “grand’ opening to help celebrate and the Russian “Kids” (as some here refer to the rather young Russian troops) bought plenty of Turkish EVES beer and Extra Strong (9% alcohol-someone told me) Turkish beer. All arriving from Turkey via Lebanon, I was advised given current political Syria-Turkey tensions. The army also guards Palmyra’s sole supermarket 24/7.

Surely dear reader must be thinking:

“Well Lamb, some of your assertions might be interesting but of what possible relevance or probity have they to do with criminals, including some Syrian and Russian soldiers looting the archeological sites?”

As I once told a judge back in the 1990’s when trying to convince him of the righteousness of my bench argument, as I whispered: “Your honor, this is where I need your help a bit to carry my burden of proof.” His honor just glared at me and gave me zero understanding and ruled against my carefully constructed motion!

But my summary conclusion regarding the charges leveled against the current defenders of Palmyra is this. Over the past few years traveling around Syria examining Syria’s Endangered Heritage I have met many regular citizens and almost as many Syrian soldiers. Coming many times from Lebanon via the Mazaa border crossing to Damascus many of the ‘checkpoint guys’ now know about this American who seems to arrive often in Syria. Frequently we chat and get to know one another, and the same has been the case around Syria.

Syrian soldiers are just like all the Syrians in most respects, including their love of their country and its cultural heritage. Of course some might steal and secret a small artifact and try to sell it. I have witnessed a little of this from, for example, one lady who found a small object of some kind while digging in her family garden and offered for sale to a foreigner for desperately needed money to feed her three precious children. The foreigner declined the sale offer but gave her most of what cash he had on him at the time.

But with those at Palmyra I very much doubt any looting is currently going on and the reasons include the fact that out here in the desert surrounding Palmyra, working and sleeping among the ruins, often in the company of archeologists and other experts, I would argue that Syria’s military has even deepened their familial connection with their heritage. They seem to possess an ‘‘esprit de coeur” with their cultural heritage which surrounds us here in Palmyra.

They are also somehow like new bright students specializing in an Archeology program. Experts here teach them a lot on the sites, give them information and much of the history of the sites and I dear reader I argue that the soldiers have become passionate about protecting our shared cultural heritage - as much as - if not more than the general public. They have fought and died to protect and preserve it and now they want to help prepare it for the coming restoration work.

Maybe it was too many hours this week in the heat and strong desert sun, but this observer has fantasized that if I somehow had many scholarships to hand out for people to study archeology, not only would there be plenty of takers among the ranks around here, but I believe many in Syria’s army now guarding Palmyra would be stellar students.

The Syrian army’s work and devotion to protect our shared cultural heritage might be cultural, congenital, or genetic. But it’s real.

It is my submission that the current culture here in Palmyra, and the security posted throughout the area, render it very unlikely that looting has been committed here by Syrian or Russian forces.

I have no doubt whatsoever that scholar Herr Dr. Hermann Parzinger, President of the Prussian Cultural Heritage Foundation, is a man of goodwill and fairness. For that reason I invite him to join me in Palmyra and perhaps bring a delegation of archeologists with him and conduct his own investigation. Palmyra is now secured. It would be an honor and pleasure to meet and learn from him.

Until then and based on my own investigation of what has been happening at Palmyra since its liberation last March, I must strongly aver that with respects to accusations targeting Syrian and Russian troops for looting Palmyra, CASE NOT PROVEN.

Franklin Lamb is doing research in Syria and Lebanon and volunteers with the MSRCL ( and the Sabra-Shatila Scholarship Program. His latest book, Syria’s Endangered Heritage is available on Amazon/Kindle. He is reachable c/o

"I Am Canadian" (Again) - Paul Watson's Epic Passport Odyssey

I am Canadian Once Again

Commentary by Captain Paul Watson

July 1, 2016

Back in May 2012 on my way to France my plane landed in Germany and I was arrested on extradition warrants by Costa Rica and Japan for my efforts to stop shark finning by a Costa Rican fishing vessel in 2002 and my efforts to stop illegal Japanese whaling. In both cases I did not injure anyone nor did I damage any property.

I was jailed for a week and placed under house arrest for two months. Both my Canadian and my American passports were confiscated by the German police.

After two months I received a call from a Sea Shepherd supporter working with the German Ministry of Justice who told me that I would be extradited to Japan the next day. That was not going to happen. I jumped bail, made my way to the coast of the Netherlands and set sail across the Atlantic and the Pacific to rejoin my ship the STEVE IRWIN in November 2012.

After Operation Zero Tolerance and a successful intervention against the illegal activities of the Japanese whaling operations, I transferred to the BRIGITTE BARDOT off the coast of Tasmania.

On board were two German reporters and one of them handed me my U.S. passport.

The German police had returned my passports to the U.S. and Canadian Consulates in Frankfurt. The U.S. Consulate handed my passport over to my German lawyer. Canada refused to do so.

I then spent the next eight months at sea on the BRIGITTE BARDOT, spending that time cleaning beaches in the South Pacific and on the Great Barrier Reef.

Finally I was allowed to return to the United States in November 2013.

I inquired about my Canadian passport and did not receive an answer from the Canadian government.

Why did I need a Canadian passport if I already had my U.S. passport? The reason is that when you have dual citizenship, you cannot enter the country of one citizenship with the passport of another country. This effectively barred me from entry into Canada.

I made numerous inquiries and each time I was stonewalled by the Canadian passport office.

In 2015, a reporter for Reuters made an inquiry and was told that all I needed to do was re-apply. This was strange since my passport in the hands of the government is valid until 2018.

I waited until Prime Minster Stephen Harper was voted out of office and prepared to apply for a new passport under the government of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

At the COP 21 conference in Paris I asked my long time friend Elizabeth May, a Canadian Member of Parliament and leader of the Green Party of Canada to sign as my guarantor. I still had to wait for my birth certificate, which I had applied for a few months earlier.

So in March of 2016 I went personally to the Canadian Embassy in Paris, forked over some 200 Euros in cash and turned in my application with photos and birth certificate. They told me it would take two weeks before my passport would arrive.

There was nothing in the mail two weeks later nor a month later so I called the Embassy and they told me the application was sent to Ottawa for further review. I called again at the end of April and the end of May and each time I was told it was under review.

Finally I called Elizabeth May in early June and she personally went to speak with the appropriate Minister.

And thus, a week before Canada Day I received my Canadian passport in the mail and it is now in hand.

I will continue to make inquiries as to how and why the government can confiscate a passport from a Canadian citizen who has not committed a crime in Canada nor is wanted in Canada for any violation of the law. Apparently the confiscation was based on a non-felony extradition request from Japan for opposing a whaling operation that has been found guilty of illegal whaling by the International Court of Justice.

It appears that Canada pulled my passport based solely on the request of a foreign country.

Nonetheless I would like to thank Justin Trudeau’s government. I am certain that I would never have received it back under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s government.

But most of all I would like to express my appreciation to Green Party Leader and Member of Parliament Elizabeth May for her assistance in making the return of my passport a reality after four years of waiting.

Corbyn's Suspect Equivalencies: Can Muslim Opposition to ISIS Fairly Compare to Israel's Jewish Support?

Jeremy's Jewish Friends

by Gilad Atzmon

July 2, 2016

Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn could do with better advisers. Yesterday, in a press conference Corbyn announced, "our Jewish friends are no more responsible for the actions of Israel or the Netanyahu Government than our Muslim friends are for those of various self-styled Islamic states or organisations."

This ‘equivalence’ of the Jews and the Muslims is weak.

Despite Israel’s devastating record of war atrocities, the vast majority of the world’s Jews support the Jewish state and identify with Zionism. The Jewish lobby dominates American, British and French foreign affairs. This lobby pushes for criminal immoral interventionist wars. Corbyn obviously knows this since he has consistently voted against these wars.

None of these factors apply to Muslims or Islam. Only a fraction of Muslims worldwide support the Islamic state. In fact, the vast majority of Islamic leaders denounce Isis politically, religiously and culturally. There are no Islamic lobbies operating in our midst and pushing for wars. Finally, unlike Jewish oligarchs such as Haim Saban and George Soros, Muslim billionaires do not attempt to buy our political system. So I can’t imagine what led Corbyn to make such a comparison.

And who are these ‘Jewish friends’ to whom Corbyn referred?

Is the pro- Israel Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mrivis, who was quick to denounce Corbyn, one of Corbyn’s Jewish friends? Probably not.

Is the former Chief Rabbi Lord Jonathan Sacks, who added his voice to the complaint that Corbyn’s comparison was "demonisation of the highest order, an outrage and unacceptable." Is he one of Corbyn’s Jewish friends?

Are the Labour Friend Of Israel, who have utilised every trick in the Book of Esther to destroy Corbyn, Corbyn’s Jewish friends?

Maybe Corbyn reckons that the Jews who pushed for the suspension of the heroic Ken Livingstone and many other Labour politicians and members, maybe they are his Jewish friends. Who knows?

Corbyn probably thinks that ‘Jews for Corbyn’ are his true Jewish friends. However, they formed their group only after it was clear that Corbyn was about to win Labour in a storm, and this was done so they could control the opposition.

No, as far as I can see, Corbyn has only ever had one true Jewish friend and his name is Paul Eisen. Paul Eisen was the first ‘Jewish friend’ to support Corbyn, the first ‘Jewish friend’ to praise the old proletariat leader, the first ‘Jewish friend’ to believe in Corbyn’s ability to win the Labour leadership and even to bring change to this country.

Such a pity that Corbyn dropped Paul the moment his ‘Jewish friends’ told him to.

Deep State in 13 Ways

13 Ways of Looking at the Deep State

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

13 Ways of Looking at the Deep State.


"Deep State is red, Deep State is blue/Deep State don't give a damn for you."

When Crude Meets Water: Problems with Pipelines and Regulatory Capture

Ventura Oil Spill Highlights Big Oil Regulatory Capture

by Dan Bacher - CounterPunch

July 1, 2016

Just a year after the massive Refugio Oil Spill fouled the pristine waters off the Santa Barbara Coast, a leak in an oil pipeline in Hall Canyon in Ventura County was reported at 5:30 a.m. on Thursday, June 23. As many as 700 barrels of crude oil — 29,400 gallons – have been spilled.

The company responsible for the Ventura oil spill, Crimson Pipeline, has a decade-long history of oil spills in California. Spills like this one are becoming increasingly common in a state where Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus – and the oil industry is the most powerful corporate lobby.

Fortunately, Ventura County Firefighters halted the oil from flowing towards the ocean, according to Ventura County Fire Department spokesman Mike Lindbery.

Hall Canyon Oil Spill - June 2016

“The forward oil flow progress has been stopped,” said Lindbery. “There is no environmental threat to ocean and no evacuations in the area.”

The California Department of Fish and Wildlife (CDFW) Office of Spill Prevention and Response confirmed that no oiled wildlife have been observed or reported — and no oil has reached the ocean or other water from the pipeline spill.

The agency said the oil from the spill has been isolated in Hall Canyon. “There is no oil in the storm drain. Vacuum trucks are collecting the oil,” the CDFW stated.

A multi-agency response has been established to manage cleanup operations in the area impacted by the spill, according to the CDFW in a follow-up statement on June 24. Cleanup crews, including 98 responders and five vacuum trucks, remain on-scene containing and recovering the oil. Air monitoring is being continually conducted to assure safety of responders and residents in the area.

The cause of the spill is currently under investigation.

“The unified command response will be independent of that investigation and includes representatives from the California Department of Fish and Wildlife’s Office of Spill Prevention and Response, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, and Crimson Pipeline, which has taken responsibility for the incident,” the CDFW said.

The CDFW advises the public and media to avoid the impacted area and keep pets on leashes. In addition, they should not attempt to rescue any observed oiled wildlife.

“Untrained individuals who attempt to rescue wildlife may cause more harm than good and may injure themselves in the process,” the Department said.

The number to report oiled wildlife is 877 UCD-OWCN (823-6926).

Aera Energy — owned by affiliates of Shell and ExxonMobil — said it was not the owner of the 700 barrels of oil that spilled in Ventura, challenging an earlier report by an official that Aera owned the oil.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Crimson Pipeline has had at least 10 other spills caused by corrosion, ruptures, equipment failure and other problems in California since 2006, according to federal data. “These incidents resulted in more than $5.8 million in property damage and over 320,000 gallons of hazardous materials being spilled into California’s environment,” a Center statement revealed.

Feds have failed to take any enforcement actions against Crimson

The Center said Crimson operates more than 1,000 miles of pipeline in California, “yet the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration does not seem to have taken any enforcement actions against the company or conducted any inspections of its pipelines in the state since 2006.”

“This company has a disturbing history of dangerous oil spills, yet federal pipeline regulators seem to have done almost nothing to protect our state,” said Kristen Monsell, a Center attorney. 
“The new spill is another grim example of why we have to get pipelines and oil drilling out of California’s vulnerable coastal environment. We’ve got to stop thinking about these oil spills as accidents and start seeing them for what they are: completely predictable ecological tragedies that we can prevent with strong action.”

The Plains All American pipeline rupture in Santa Barbara County last year spilled more than 120,000 gallons of oil onto the California coast, killing hundreds of birds and marine animals in the pristine ocean waters.

The spill imperiled four “marine protected areas” created under the Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative. Ironically, the so-called MPAs were crafted under the helm of a Big Oil lobbyist, the same lobbyist representing the Plains All American Pipeline, the company responsible for the spill!

An analysis of federal pipeline data commissioned by the Center showed there have been nearly 8,000 serious pipeline breaks nationwide since 1986. These caused more than 2,300 injuries and nearly $7 billion in property damage.

“The vast majority of those incidents have involved oil pipelines, spilling more than 2 million barrels — or 84 million gallons — into waterways and on the ground over the past 30 years. More than 35 percent of these incidents have been caused by corrosion or other structural failures,” the Center said.

Since 1986 pipeline accidents in the United States have spilled an average of 3 million gallons of oil or other hazardous liquids per year, the group concluded.

Environmental groups, oil industry respond to spill

In a statement, Director of Sierra Club California Kathryn Phillips also responded to the oil spill: “From Plains All American’s spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, to Shell’s spill in the San Joaquin Valley, to today’s in Ventura, it’s the unacceptable state of reality that oil spills have become the norm here in California.”

“Sierra Club praises the immediate action by Ventura’s first responders, but as we all know too well, there is no way to clean up all the destruction caused by crude oil spills,” she stated.
“Big Oil cannot be permitted to continue to act in such a reckless manner. Our Legislature, Governor Brown, and Congress must act swiftly to put our environment and our public health ahead of corporate polluters’ profits,” Phillips concluded.

Food and Water Watch also responded to the spill in a tweet: “A year after Santa Barbara spill, a Ventura Co. pipe leaks fracked oil. It’s time for 100% renewables.”

Catherine Reheis-Boyd, the President of the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) in Sacramento, said the association is “working with our member companies to assess the situation as well as coordinating with emergency responders, local officials, and agencies.”

“Our first priority – as it is in any incident – remains community safety and immediate cleanup efforts,” Reheis Boyd said.

Oil spill is no surprise

The latest oil spill is no surprise in a state that prides itself on being a “green leader,” but is in fact the third largest oil producer in the country. The oil industry is the largest and most powerful corporate lobby in California — and the Western States Petroleum Association (WSPA) is the largest and most powerful lobbying organization. Jerry Brown, who styles himself as a “green governor” and “climate leader,” has received millions of dollars in contributions from Big Oil to promote the industry’s agenda.

“Before Jerry Brown signed legislation last month that promises to greatly expand fracking in California, the governor accepted at least $2.49 million in financial donations over the past several years from oil and natural gas interests, according to public records on file with the Secretary of State’s Office and the California Fair Political Practices Commission,” reported Robert Gammon, then editor of the East Bay Express, on October 2, 2013.

The oil industry, including WSPA, Chevron, Phillips 66, AERA Energy, Exxon and Shell, has spent more than $25 million so far in the 2015-16 legislative session. WSPA has spent $12.8 million so far in the session, making them, as usual, the top California lobbying spenders of the session.

In a huge conflict of interest that exemplifies how thoroughly Big Oil has captured the regulatory apparatus in California, WSPA President Catherine Reheis-Boyd chaired the South Coast Marine Life Protection Act (MLPA) Initiative Blue Ribbon Task Force that created the so-called “marine protected areas” that went into effect in Southern California waters on January 1, 2012. She also served on the MLPA Blue Ribbon Task Forces for the North Coast, North Central Coast and Central Coast.

Something we can live with?

After hearing from dozens of speakers at task force meeting on November 11, 2009, Reheis-Boyd and the other panel members selected a controversial plan that would close fishing in many areas, including waters off Laguna Beach and Point Dume, but do nothing to stop pollution, fracking, oil drilling, military testing or other insults to the ocean in Southern California waters.

“We’re not going to make everyone happy, but this has to be done,” panel Chairwoman Catherine Reheis-Boyd told the LA Times in an interview before the vote.

“It’s agony to weigh the environmental goals against people’s livelihoods, especially here in Southern California, where the urban/ocean interface is greater than anywhere else in the nation.”
“It’s not perfect, but it’s something we hope we can live with,” said Reheis-Boyd, according to Sign on San Diego the same day.

Now not only are we forced to “live with” these faux “marine protected areas,” but we are forced to “live with” the increasingly prominent role that the oil industry plays in California politics. Reheis-Boyd’s rise to power and prominence in California politics was helped tremendously by the greenwashing of her position on the task forces by Brown and Schwarzenegger administration officials and MLPA Initiative advocates, who continually gushed that the corrupt process was “open, transparent and inclusive.”

State officials and MLPA Initiative advocates have continually praised these faux “marine protected areas” as “hope spots,” “Yosemites of the Sea,” and “underwater parks,” when they are anything but. Let’s be clear: the “marine protected areas” created under Reheis-Boyd’s helm fail to protect the ocean from fracking, acidizing, other offshore oil drilling, pollution, military testing, corporate aquaculture and all human impacts on the ocean other than sustainable fishing and gathering.

While Reheis-Boyd served on the task forces to “protect” the ocean, the same oil industry that the “marine guardian” represents was conducting environmentally destructive fracking operations off the Southern California coast. Documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and media investigations by Associated Press and in 2013 reveal that the ocean has been fracked at least 203 times in the past 20 years, including the period from 2004 to 2012 that Reheis-Boyd served as a “marine guardian.”

Federal regulators give OK to resumption of offshore fracking

Besides exerting enormous influence over state regulators, WSPA and Big Oil also wield enormous power over federal regulators. Claiming that fracking poses “no significant impact” to the environment, Obama administration officials on May 27 finalized their plans to allow oil companies to resume offshore fracking and acidizing in California’s Santa Barbara Channel after a moratorium on fracking was temporarily imposed as the result of a Center for Biological Diversity lawsuit.

As expected, Reheis-Boyd applauded the Environmental Assessment (EA) report by the U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement that ended the moratorium on offshore hydraulic fracturing in California:

“Today’s final report continues to reaffirm the sound science behind our safe energy production practices,” Reheis-Boyd said in a statement on May 27.
“Offshore producers in California will continue to adhere to the strictest safety and operational standards in the world while delivering affordable and reliable energy to U.S. consumers.”

WSPA and Big Oil wield their power in five major ways: through (1) lobbying; (2) campaign spending; (3) getting appointed to positions on and influencing regulatory panels; (4) creating Astroturf groups: and (5) working in collaboration with media. For my in-depth investigation on the five ways WSPA and Big Oil have captured California politics, go here.

Dan Bacher is an environmental journalist in Sacramento. He can be reached at: Dan Bacher

More articles by:Dan Bacher

Friday, July 01, 2016

Brexit Rationalism Raw, Neat and Pure

Brexit: the English and Welsh Enlightenment

by Aidan O'Brien - CounterPunch

July 1, 2016 

“No one really knows what happens now: the collective imagination leads to dark places.”  - The International New York Times, June 25-26, 2016


By voting for Brexit the English and Welsh have switched on the light. And, as usual, when the light suddenly conquers the dark the cracks become obvious and the cockroaches scatter. It’s a beautiful sight.

The speculators and the hoarders are running for cover. And their liberal apologists are blinded. At the same time their global gunmen feel naked. And what once felt like a palace now looks like a filthy dungeon. However it is a dungeon with a well marked exit.

It is an English and Welsh enlightenment rather than a British one because the British elite in London and their Celtic counterparts in Edinburgh and Belfast voted to remain in the dark.

The critics of Brexit think that switching on the light is an act of madness. It is far better in their eyes to see nothing and to continuously walk into the wars.

Martin Wolf, the main man in the Financial Times, calls Brexit “irrational” and immune to “cold calculations”. And a Die Ziet editor, Jochen Bittner, writing in the New York Times thinks that Brexit is something an “Arab” would do rather than a “rational” European. Ireland’s leading liberal, Fintan O’Toole, in the Irish Times likens the voters for Brexit to a “drunk”. And the King of the liberals, Tony Blair, again in the New York Times, opinions that those who voted for exit are controlled by “dangerous impulses”.

This is class war in words – a stab in the dark at the working class who actually decided the outcome of the referendum.

Despite this liberal attempt to assassinate the working class character; despite the accusation of irrationalism, and indeed the racism, directed at the English and Welsh workers: the vote for Brexit was an act of pure reason.

No matter the perspective (political, economic, military or moral) Brexit makes perfect sense for the working class. Has there ever been in the history of England or Wales a better example of rationalism? Probably not.

According to the mainstream media the determining issue in the referendum was immigration. The mainstream however is Murdoch: a man who has built an empire on lies and insults directed at the working class. And contrary to what the “quality” liberal press think: Murdoch doesn’t speak for the working class. And neither do the right-wingers, Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage, who were and are presented as being the leaders of Brexit.

The vote for Brexit was based on solid ground rather than on a fog of emotion. There was nothing alcoholic about it, nothing fearful nor fantastical nor dangerous. In fact the vote was raw rationalism. And the fact that it was based on “uneducated” workers is brilliantly hopeful.

The empirical reasons for voting for Brexit were as clear as day. The obvious one is that there is no “European Union” to belong to. Germany rules the roost. The “Union” doesn’t exist. But the “Apartheid” does.

The facts have being piling up for all to see in recent years. Only an educated fool could miss them. The financial crisis of 2008 crystallised everything. The subsequent rape of Greece and the generalised attack on workers throughout the EU (Austerity) made the EU feel more like a Banana Republic than a Super State.

And the 2014 coup in Ukraine made this banana feeling unbearable. The USA was doing to Europe what it did to Honduras in 2009. To paraphrase the US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, the US was “fucking” Europe. And the response of the EU? Silence. Not a word of complaint. So why would anyone want to belong to an organisation that is being “fucked”?

The fact that damns the EU the most however, in the eyes of “cold calculation”, is the EU’s death wish. The EU’s push for World War III in the East is truly mad. And makes a mockery of the “peaceful” portrayal of the EU.

By allowing NATO to goose-step the EU into the Middle East and up to the borders of Russia completely discredits the EU. Even more so if you’re an English or Welsh worker. Because it is they who are expected to kill and die on the frontline. The fact is that the English and Welsh working class are the EU’s best canon fodder. And in a time of permanent war: why should they continue to be so?

The vote for Brexit was not a vote against immigration but was a vote against the wars of the ruling class – those stemming from neoliberalism and imperialism (class and world war). That is why the ruling class are now panicking.

This is the hard factual ground upon which Brexit stands. But you will not see or feel this in the gutter liberal press and the gutter liberal education that dominates the European mind.

Therefore to grasp EU reality despite EU propaganda is a triumph of human reason. To understand the class hatred that is dressed up as the “educated” liberal norm and to rebel against it is rationalism at work. And to see the real race hatred that is presented as sophisticated EU foreign policy and to reject it is rational logic at it’s best.

In short: to identify the disunity beneath the rhetoric of European unity is today straightforward common sense. And this is what the common people have in abundance. The English and the Welsh have just tapped into it. And by doing so they may have just kicked started another enlightenment.

And what about the darkness? The New York Times, the leading liberal daily, is trapped inside it. Read it’s June 27 International editorial:

“Compounding the problem [of Brexit] is Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin. Ruthlessly playing a weak hand, he has worked hard to undermine NATO and challenge the post-cold War order by invading Ukraine, funding right-wing groups in France and elsewhere and recklessly brandishing his military power from the Baltics to Syria. European countries have struggled to remain united on issues ranging from NATO’s budget to how best to respond to Mr. Putin.”

Have you ever read anything more sinister and stupid? This no doubt is what the US and EU “elite” see in their dark “places”. Thanks for switching on the light England and Wales.

Aidan O’Brien is a hospital worker in Dublin, Ireland.
More articles by:Aidan O'Brien

Pity the Brexploiter

Brexit: Let the UK Screw Itself 

Once again European bigotry exposed

by Andre Vltchek - Dissident Voice

July 1st, 2016

Oh, that poor old United Kingdom! Armies of political commentators based on all continents are now feverishly trying to define to what extent the Brits got fooled, or how severely they will soon get punished for their ‘bold move’.

All over Europe, the neo-Nazis and other right-wingers are celebrating, while most of ‘liberals’ are panic-stricken, running around like a herd of headless chickens, or howling at the moon at night in despair. The Euro-left (as pathetic and bogus as “Euro business class” on domestic European flights) is trying to put the recent referendum into some sort of philosophical perspective, blabbering something about a working class rebellion against the ruling elites.

Some Europeans are even blaming Mr. Putin for the outcome of the referendum, while others see behind the outcome of the vote the specter of an “American conspiracy” or even a “Zionist lobby”.

Things are much more simple. A few million bigoted British voters, many of them old retirees and traditionally conservative, even racist bunch, got scared that their country was soon about to be invaded by unkempt hordes of refugees, or more precisely – by ‘un-people’ (to borrow from George Orwell’s lexicon). While for others, the referendum became a way to express their frustration with the fact that the British working class has lately been getting an increasingly awful deal (read: an increasingly smaller cut from that enormous global loot plundered by both Europe and North America).

Don’t search for any flickers of internationalism or traditional Left-wing ideals in the hearts of those who voted for “Exit”. A great majority of the anti-EU warriors was simply demanding better benefits for itself (the “British people”), as well as “Britain for the Brits” (whatever that really means in this increasingly multi-racial nation).

Of course, the same can be said about the opposite camp! Those who were voting for remaining in the Union were doing so for strictly practical reasons.

Almost no commentator bothered to notice what was truly shocking about the entire referendum process: an absolute lack of progressive ideology, of internationalism and concern for the world as a whole. Both sides (and were there really two sides there) presented a fireworks of shallow selfishness and of pettiness. The profound moral corruption of the West was clearly exposed.


Everybody in Europe now wants more, more and more. Screw austerity! “Give us more benefits!” Provide us with better wages, job security, and shorter working hours!

What is shocking is that (oh so innocently!) those demands are only made for the chosen bunch – for the Europeans and North Americans – not for the rest of the globe that is actually paying the bill… And has been paying it for hundreds of damned years, suffering horribly from everything, from slavery, colonialist plunder, genocides triggered by Europe, terrorism against its liberation struggle, to the multi-national corporate looting.

It is high time to re-visit Fanon and Sartre, but in that comfortable, lazy and sclerotic Europe, no one seems to be in the mood for old, solid left-wing internationalist, anti-colonialist ideologies.

Yes, the global decolonizing process was never completed, but that is not on the agenda of those referendums-seeking Europeans. All they want is to have a better life, live longer, and to grow richer! They find it thoroughly unfair, that in the UK, France, Spain or Greece, those big corporations and banks are keeping most of the loot. They want their share. They want a much bigger share. They want it now! That is why they hate capitalism, the “system”. Not because it murders millions of innocent people in all corners of the globe, far away from Europe (such ‘stuff’ doesn’t bother Europeans one tiny bit). Not because it ruins cultures, kills the freedom of the “others”, oh no! They hate it because the “system” is too stingy with its own members!

True, those who are sustaining Europe often have nothing left, not even a few huts, not even the right to keep their own native plants or trees. True, many unemployed Europeans are still driving their cars, flying all over the world in search of perfect vacations, enjoying virtually free education, medical care, parks, cultural institutions, public transportation and countless other benefits. True, most of the refugees are escaping from once rich and independent countries, raped and exploited by the West. But all that is not worth mentioning, there is no need for referendums discussing such ‘irrelevant’ moral issues. And anyway, what would such referendum be exactly about: “To loot or not to loot”? And where are those millions of European citizens who should be signing petitions, demanding it?

It is never pronounced, but there is no one, virtually no one in Europe left, who would want to change this present global system, from top to bottom, and to stop the plunder of the “insignificant others”!


The European ‘left’ is as selfish and hypocritical as the ‘right’. In fact, there is no real ‘left’ there, anymore, if the ‘left’ actually means demanding absolutely equal treatment for all the inhabitants of our Planet.

Many Europeans like to blame the United States for the present state of the world (mostly abstractly, anyway). Such accusations are thoroughly hypocritical, bordering on being intellectually deranged. For the United States is nothing else other than a grand European ‘project’, or to quote Jean-Paul Sartre, a “super-European monstrosity.”

In the so-called “New World” (what a chauvinist term anyway; as if the ancient world of native people who were crushed, matters nothing), European settlers robbed natives of their land first, and then exterminated almost all of them. To increase ‘productivity’, they brought millions of slaves from across the ocean. When it suited them, they declared independence, but independence still strictly based on the European exceptionalism, racism, on traditions of superiority complexes and on fundamentalist Christian beliefs.

No matter how barbarically the United States has been behaving abroad, in both 20th and 21st centuries, it has never really managed to catch up (although it certainly tried hard) with that unbridled European savagery, with those horrific extermination and ransacking campaigns ‘the old continent’ has been undertaking for centuries, in Asia, Africa, the Middle East, the Indian Sub-Continent and virtually in all corners of the globe.

“European workers are now victims of US imperialism and the capitalist system,” the pseudo-left constantly tells us. Oh, is that so?

Actually, how thoroughly ridiculous!

What is the ‘capitalist system’ really, if not the legitimate (although philosophically and ethically perverse) brainchild of the West, unnaturally and violently forced down the throats of people on all continents of our Planet?

It is a direct product of European culture (not vice-versa), and was later adopted and ‘perfected’ by the United States.

There is no doubt that Europe is the closest ally of the United States. Or, more precisely, there is hardly any difference between the two, as they were both created on the same conceptual lines (the European ones), on the same religion and on a chauvinistic world-view (open spite for everyone who is not white and religiously/culturally Christian, and on the glorification of expansionism).

Let us finally face the reality: a great majority of Europeans would never want to change the global world order! Western imperialism feeds them, makes them live much richer lives than anyone else on the Planet, while allowing them to work pathetically little. Sub-consciously, even those ‘deprived’ (what a joke!) European workers are deeply grateful to both Washington and to its gladiators. Their main demand is ‘only’ that ‘ordinary Europeans should be getting an even better deal’ than the one they are getting now. The commonly voiced grievance is that ‘the deal was much better and more satisfying some 20 years ago than it is now’.

A better deal at the expense of ‘the others’, of course! But that is never mentioned.

‘Less shillings for those at Goldman Sachs or HSBC, and a bit more for the “common folks” of Europe, please!”

All the rest is fine, really! “Those Americans are actually really nice people. Like us, Europeans… Hey, we went there last year, on vacation…”

“Oh, and remember: we don’t want those bloody niggers and dirty Arabs in our cities and villages. They belong where they are, working for us, plundering their own lands so we can retire early, have access to free top medical care and fly to Southeast Asia to shag their young girls after we retire! You give all this to us, and more, or else: screw you, we will leave the European Union which does not care for its people, anymore!”

Of course, it is almost never articulated like that. But one has to read between the lines.

Or do my readers really think that those countries ‘ready to follow the British example’ actually care much about anything else other than their own selfish, petty interests?

I have talked to Greeks! I have talked to Spaniards. Most of them really hate ‘foreigners’. Most of them know nothing, absolutely nothing; about what the West is doing all over the world. And frankly, they don’t want to know anything.

And what do the East Europeans want? What about those “poor” and “disappointed” Czechs, Poles and Hungarians? Well, they also want more and more and more, as they always have done. Does anyone really believe that in the 1980s they were dreaming about ‘freedom and democracy’? They were dreaming only about one thing: how to get rid of that Russian romantic idea of internationalism, and how to “return to Europe”, read; how to stop helping the deprived and robbed parts of the world, and instead join the West – the real masters of the world – how to become part of the imperialist and neo-colonialist clique. Those nations, (let’s be honest) are racist to the core, while almost all now members of the EU, are simply loving and admiring the United States! And they are showing open spite for the victims of Western imperialism.

How sorry can one really feel for all of them – for those European ‘victims of the system’?

Forgive me, but I feel absolutely no sympathy for them! Perhaps it is because I have spent too much time in Congo, Kenya, Uganda, Southeast Asia, the Middle East, sub-Continent, Oceania, in Brazilian Amazonia and Peru; with those people that I consider are the ‘real victims’ of the system, of the globally enforced Western regime.

Therefore, I only feel growing outrage over the cynicism that covers like a thick blanket, those discussions about the British referendum (and all other potential European referendums). I am shocked by the shallowness and hypocrisy.

It really appears that the entire continent consists of stubborn ‘global holocaust deniers’, people who sit in front of the chimneys of crematoriums, where their victims are being burned alive, unable to think about anything else except their own comfort and privileges.

For as long as such a mentality prevails (and it has been prevailing for endless centuries), to the rest of the world it will matter very little or nothing whether one or two or five countries opt to leave the European Union.

Whether it is more centrally run, or decentralized, the continent will continue plundering the Planet together with its mighty North American offspring.

It will continue, because the European people want it; they actually indirectly demand it! Like some spoiled, heartless and thoroughly immoral brats, Europeans shout ‘more, more and damn more!’

And they hate, with naked fanaticism, each and every country on Earth, from China to Russia, which is standing on its feet and refusing to accept Western dictates. It is not like that ‘primitive’ racism that one can detect in some parts of the United States; European racism is as profound, fundamentalist, cultural, institutionalized, as it is vitriolic and ancient. ‘Thanks to it’, dozens of cultures and nations have already been annihilated, all over the world. And dozens are being ruined right now as this essay is being written.

The referendum in the UK has proved all this, and more.

Back to Fanon and Sartre: it is clear that the world will not change because the Europeans suddenly got enlightened, realizing that they are living off theft. It cannot be expected from them. There is no remorse. There is not even any recognition of guilt! Look at those thousands of European ‘experts’, sitting in all the UN and ‘development’ agencies, or flying all over the world, preaching to the world about how it should be governed, or those Protestant preachers who are helping to overthrow progressive governments. They do it with absolutely straight faces and no shame! Look at those schools and universities in Europe and the US, giving scholarships to the elites of colonized countries, brainwashing them, and conditioning them for the purpose of committing treason.

Western empires (in the past) and now “the Empire” have already destroyed most of the world, and the masses in Europe and even in North America have been greatly benefiting from those countless heinous crimes against humanity. This terrible process still continues. The world will have to return to the unfinished ‘business’ of the de-colonization struggle if it wants to survive.

There can be no morally acceptable discussion in Europe about the future of the world, of Europe, of the UK or any other European country that would not begin like this:

“We ruined the world. We robbed the world. We are still ruining and robbing it. Because of the West’s imperialism, fundamentalism and greed, hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion human lives have been lost. We are not qualified to govern the Planet and we never were. We cannot indefinitely reward ourselves with ridiculously generous benefits and outrageously high standards of living, as they have been financed by many centuries of looting, genocides and holocausts. Our present-day institutions, from NATO to the EU, are helping to sustain such criminal global order. Some of us now want to dismantle them, on strictly ethical grounds, in the name of the humane race. Therefore we are calling for a referendum…”

Unthinkable, of course! And that is why that entire ‘Brexit’ charade is thoroughly irrelevant for our Planet.

No change will come ‘from within’. ‘The wretched of the Earth’ cannot count on the compassion, on kindness and the decency of the Western public, or on its solidarity. They will have to expose what is behind the ‘civilized’ mask of European culture – a horrible, gangrenous skull reflecting greed and a pathological lust for power. Then, ‘the wretched of the Earth’ would have to demand, in one united voice, what is truly theirs. Not beg, not ask politely, but demand! And eventually, they’d have to take it!

Whether the UK, one of the cradles of Western imperialism and colonialist bigotry, leaves or remains in the EU may have some influence on how the booty is to be divided ‘internally’, but not on much else.

Both sides of referendum, ‘Exit’ and ‘Remain’, gave their clear middle finger salute to the rest of the world. And it is really the right time for the world to return the courtesy.

André Vltchek is a novelist, filmmaker, and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest book is Exposing Lies of the Empire. He also wrote, with Noam Chomsky, On Western Terrorism: From Hiroshima to Drone Warfare. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
 Read other articles by Andre.

Making Good on Awful Promises: Dealing with Corbyn and the Brexit

Seven Days in June 

by William Bowles  - Investigating Imperialism

30 June 2016

It’s very rare that you see the ruling elite totally at a loss for words: but they were. Gobsmacked and stunned would be accurate descriptions of the look on the political class’s collective face on the morning of June 24, 2016.

It’s the corporate/state media that effectively calls the shots when it comes to national decision-making in the UK these days, so most people assumed that the Remainers would win the previous day’s vote on whether or not the country should remain in Europe. The pre-voting propaganda was so solidly devoted to the “immigration problem,” that nobody considered the implications of actually exiting from the EU should the Brexiters win the vote.

In fact, it just added to the confusion, the results of which are all too apparent now, with pro and anti at each other’s throats. And all of it, engineered.

However, almost a week after the vote, economist Richard Wolff spelled out the reasons for the result during an interview with the Real News Network:

“It’s perfectly clear that the mass of people wanted to send a message to the old, established, austerity-committed government of David Cameron, that they don’t want him, they don’t want what he does, they don’t believe in any of this. They believe that the leadership of the European Union, what is crushing Greece, etcetera, is not something they want to be part of. They feel victimised by all of that. And the Brexit vote gave them a chance to say no, we don’t want it. Sure, there were racist elements and anti-immigration elements. That’s part of the British political scene. Of course it’s going to play its role, seeking its objectives as part of this.”

[A lightly edited version of this was published in the latest issue of Coldtype, available here as a pdf]

The BBC’s propaganda campaign in favour of remaining had been as relentless as their attacks on Jeremy Corbyn since his election as leader of the Labour Party almost a year ago. So it seemed almost logical that, in a bizarre inversion of reality, that he, not Cameron, is the one they, and the rest of the media, would blame for Brexit.

Media watchdog Medialens highlighted one of the meanest media attacks on Corbyn in the days following:

“Perhaps the worst example of an anti-Corbyn attack, post-Brexit, was in the Mail on Sunday. A piece by Dan Hodges was illustrated by a Photoshopped image of a malevolent vampiric Corbyn in a coffin with the despicable headline, ‘Labour MUST kill vampire Jezza.’ That this should appear just ten days after Labour MP Jo Cox was brutally murdered is almost beyond belief.” – ‘Killing Corbyn‘, Media Lens, 29 June 2016

Reading what passes for news this past seven days, you’d never know that the real cause of the upset was the Tory Party, which, aside from Cameron’s resignation, has barely been mentioned; for the reality is that it was an internal spat in the Tory Party that started the whole Brexit ball rolling.

Instead, the Remain camp feels they’ve been cheated out of victory by their Brexit opponents – wrongly labelled as a bunch of Nazis and xenophobes. This is exactly the way the BBC has been portraying events: images of angry Remainers demonstrating outside Parliament, contrasted with interviews of penitent Brexiters, who have seen the “error of their ways” and wished they’d voted with their ‘internationalist’ brothers and sisters. So no problem taking in the refugees then?

A convenient scapegoat

Initially this was going to be a kind of blow-by-blow diary of the vote and its dramatic outcome, but it’s two stories: one about the UK as a broken capitalist state and its relationship to the EU; the other, much more important story, of the attack on Jeremy Corbyn by his enemies inside and outside the Parliamentary Labour Party in an conspiracy to remove him as leader of the party.

Medialens reports:

“Attempts to unseat Corbyn have been supported by Left Foot Forward Ltd, a company set up by Will Straw, which runs the country’s ‘No. 1 left-wing blog’ of the same name. Straw is the son of Jack Straw, who served as Home Secretary and Foreign Secretary under Tony Blair. . . . Will Straw is ‘among a network of longtime Blairite stalwarts trying to re-found the Labour Party – a project demolished by Jeremy Corbyn’s landslide victory in the Labour leadership elections in September 2015.’

“The independent journalist Steve Topple highlights the links between coordinated attacks on Corbyn and a network of Labour figures with direct links to the PR company, Portland Communications…. The PR firm was set up in 2001 by a former adviser to Blair. Its clients include the World Economic Forum, the EU, the UK government, Barclays Bank and large companies, including Morrisons and Nestle.” (Ibid)

All this is reminiscent of the dirty tricks the Establishment used against a previous Labour Prime Minister, Harold Wilson, in 1976, as Ann Talbot of WSWS reminded us in 2006:

“For a large part of his career and throughout his time as prime minister from 1964 to 1970 and again in 1974-76 Wilson was the object of a smear campaign that emanated from the British security services and the CIA. They fed material to the press that appeared to substantiate the view that he was a Soviet agent who had been put in place after the KGB had supposedly murdered Labour leader Hugh Gaitskell. In the course of the documentary, the Daily Express defence correspondent Chapman Pincher unapologetically admitted his part in spreading those rumours.”

The political class sees Corbyn as a danger, although we are constantly told that socialism is so passé, so 20th-century? So what’s the panic? Why the demonisation of this man, if he is so ineffectual and seemingly from another era, with his scruffy clothes and his vaguely subversive and quaint ideas about not wanting to drop atomic bombs on people? Just what is it that the elite are so afraid of that such venomous dirty tricks should be used against him?

The Great Unwashed

The truth is that Corbyn’s election woke up a sleeping giant – not just those few percent who tipped the balance in favour of Brexit, but the millions of working people who have had enough of austerity while the richest one percent get even richer.

They voted not so much about leaving the EU as in giving the government a black eye in the only way they could (what does this tell us about the current state of of the Labour Party, never mind the Tories?).

In any case, given the nonsense both government and media have been talking about for the past couple of months, how could anyone come to the right conclusion based on so much disinformation and outright lies?

So what should Corbyn do? Or is he just going to turn the other cheek to the vicious attacks being made on him?

Writing on the World Socialist Web Site, on June 29, Julie Hyland clarifies:

“The extraordinary scale of the right-wing coup, which had already seen Corbyn lose most of his shadow cabinet in a series of timed resignations, was intended to force the Labour leader to resign. But in a statement put out moments after the result, Corbyn said that he had been elected ‘by 60 percent of Labour members and supporters”’ only last September, and ‘I will not betray them by resigning.’” -‘In right-wing putsch, UK Labour MPs deliver overwhelming anti-Corbyn vote‘ By Julie Hyland, 29 June 2016

The second assault on Corbyn (after the carefully timed shadow cabinet resignations), a vote of no confidence passed by 170 Labour MPs (with 40 in his favour), has no legal basis, but is merely an opinion. The only way to attempt to remove him is to call for an election which, I believe, requires the signatures of 50 Labour MPs. Fine, let them run a new election, they have the numbers. But it’s an election, which according to a YouGov poll, Corbyn will win all over again, and by much the same margin.

As I write, Angela Eagles, one of his former shadow cabinet colleagues, in a traitorous move, has been persuaded to stand against him. But she was roundly trounced in the election that made Corbyn head of the Constituency Labour Party last year, collecting just 16.9 percent of the votes against Corbyn’s 60 percent. In fact, Corbyn was so popular with rank-and-file Labour supporters that he got more votes than all the other contenders combined. Now he has to live up to the faith those voters put in him, but it’s an uphill struggle with the combined weight of the Establishment, the media and his own colleagues in Parliament, out for his blood.

Corbyn has, in my opinion, only one chance of success and that’s if if he steps outside the straightjacket of Parliament and works directly with his supporters. Perhaps ultimately, this might mean splitting the Labour Party in two (and not for the first time) but I doubt Corbyn has got the bottle to do that. It is, after all, an Institution. But as far as I’m concerned, it would be no great loss, in fact I view the Labour Party as an obstacle to real progress.

This is, after all, one of those extremely rare moments in our lives, when things change radically. A dislocation if you like, or revolution even, which is why I wonder whether Corbyn has the bottle or not to take a step into the unknown? 52% did, even if they didn’t know it at the time due to our devious and lying media.

Of course, there’s still no guarantee that a way won’t be found to either neutralize, reverse or rerun the Referendum, now that the awful reality of a Brexitized UK has sunk in. Awful, because that’s the way the elite want it to be and demonizing Corbyn as its cause is an essential part of it.

The issues go to the very heart of a broken economic and political system, not just our place in Europe. The next few weeks are critical.

And if this was not enough to raise the country’s blood pressure, next week we see the publication of the long-awaited (by some at least) Chilcot report on the Blair government’s murderous and illegal assault on Iraq. A report that has been delayed over and over again and is now more than two years past its original publication date.

Will it change anything? It all depends on its content, but which by now will have been well sanitised of anything truly incriminating for our present or past political class. But it adds to the overall sense of unease that permeates the country at this critical juncture in the downward spiral of capitalism.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Ukraine on Fire: Stone Striking While Still Hot

Oliver Stone-Produced 'Ukraine on Fire' Premiers at Film Festival in Italy

by Salvatore Giannavola - New Cold War

June 17, 2016

Putin’s Russia’, ‘the America of Obama and secretaries of state’, ‘the Ukrainian minority: pro-Nazi’, ‘NATO and international conflicts’, ‘Cold War 2.0’: these are the keywords of the new documentary film by director Igor Lopatonok, produced by Oliver Stone. Ukraine on Fire received its national premiere yesterday at the Taormina Film Festival in Sicily.

The film is a jewel that has further enriched the quality of the movies playing at Taormina Film Fest, a venue which brought to Sicily some of the greatest exponents of American cinema, including Harvey Keitel, Ray Winstone, Richard Gere and Oliver Stone, winner of two Academy Awards.

Interview with Oliver Stone, by Salvatore Giannavola, interview published in Italian on Telefilm Central, June 17, 2016, translated to English by New Cold

‘Ukraine on Fire’ is a daring and extraordinary project that reveals the background of the conflict between Ukraine and Russia, a page of history that has already left its mark in the modern geopolitical scenario. It reveals the historical background of the Ukrainian crisis. Oliver Stone interviews the main actors of this phenomenon, including the president of Russia, Vladimir Putin, and the former president of Ukraine, Victor Yanukovych. Men of power share with the American producer their thoughts regarding the reasons for the conflict and the possible ways to solve it.

The beginnings of the turmoil in Ukraine occurred in the winter of 2013-2014 in Kiev, during the ‘Euromaidan’. Oliver Stone speaks to Ukraine’s key figures of that period, including the former president Yanukovych and the former interior minister, Vitaliy Zakharchenko. Collecting and analyzing the facts, the film explores the concept of ‘color revolutions’: how they are born and how they evolve over time.

We had an opportunity to put a few questions to Oliver Stone. Here is some of our brief interview.

Salvatore Giannavola: The documentary addresses the phenomenon of American NGOs, non-profit organizations. Reference is made to the work in Ukraine of the NGOs of the American tycoon George Soros and the elite of world finance. Mr. Stone, how did creative financing help spark the riots that have taken place, successively, in Lebanon, Libya and then Ukraine?
Oliver Stone: The question is very complex. As you have just seen, the documentary refers to the George Soros-funded NGO that has played a crucial role in the development of democratic uprisings in Ukraine. I believe that not all U.S. NGOs deserve praise. Many are, in fact, expressions of influential individuals, as in the case of Soros, and are aimed at pursuing goals that go beyond the well-being of peoples. In some cases, such as this, they are designed to achieve purposes quite different.

Watch the trailer for Oliver Stone’s Ukraine On Fire here

‘Ukraine on Fire’ has been very well received by the public in Hall A of the convention center. Sincere and heartfelt applause came from a disturbed audience, which was shocked and grateful at the same time for an exemplary and illuminating project. The film is a lesson in geopolitics with agitated rhythms to graphic effect.

During the press conference following the screening of the documentary, Lopanotok and Stone responded to questions from journalists and students intrigued by events exposed by the documentary film. The film prompted prolific debate fueled by the director’s and co-producer’s responses, who from the beginning of the press conference said they wanted to hear feedback from the audience, especially the younger members. As Oliver Stone admits, the project aims to inform a Western world very often trapped by biased and distorted information flows from media. Here we offer you some of the answers that emerged during the conference:

What were the difficulties related to the implementation of this project?

‘Ukraine on Fire’ leads people to ask questions. It was difficult to understand the triggers and dynamics of Ukraine’s geopolitical crisis. As for me, I faced major complications that have emerged from the linguistic differences that in some ways have distorted the content of events. Names are sometimes very similar, but for me it was difficult to understand them and to distinguish them. We in the West, precisely for these reasons, very often tend to accept the view as reported by European and U.S. media.

What has been the public and institutional reaction?

The attacks I suffered were many, sometimes verbally violent. To me this is inconceivable. The facts must be submitted and we have to go beyond these types of reactions.

‘Ukraine on Fire’ shows how politics is maneuvered by large power systems. What is your position with respect to the ideas of the two candidates in the American presidential Trump and Clinton?

I’d rather not speak about my position on the U.S. presidential election as the subject goes beyond the issues addressed by the film.

The Neocon Legacy: Making Bugs of Us All

Trading Places: Neocons and Cockroaches

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

June 28, 2016

If the human species extinguishes itself in a flash of thermonuclear craziness and the surviving cockroaches later develop the intellect to assess why humans committed this mass suicide, the cockroach historians may conclude that it was our failure to hold the neoconservatives accountable in the first two decades of the Twenty-first Century that led to our demise.

After the disastrous U.S.-led invasion of Iraq – an aggressive war justified under false premises – there rightly should have been a mass purging of the people responsible for the death, destruction and lies. Instead the culprits were largely left in place, indeed they were allowed to consolidate their control of the major Western news media and the foreign-policy establishments of the United States and its key allies.

A cockroach, which some scientists believe has the best chance to survive a nuclear holocaust.

Despite the Iraq catastrophe which destabilized the Middle East and eventually Europe, the neocons and their liberal interventionist chums still filled the opinion columns of The New York Times, The Washington Post, The Wall Street Journal and virtually every other mainstream outlet. Across the American and European political systems and “think tanks,” the neocons and the liberal hawks stayed dominant, too, continuing to spin their war plans while facing no significant peace movement.

The cockroach historians might be amazed that at such a critical moment of existential danger, the human species – at least in the most advanced nations of the West – offered no significant critique of the forces leading mankind to its doom. It was as if the human species was unable to learn even the most obvious lessons needed for its own survival.

Despite the falsehoods of the Iraq War, the U.S. government was still widely believed whenever it came out with a new propaganda theme. Whether it was the sarin gas attack in Syria in 2013 or the Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 shoot-down over eastern Ukraine in 2014, U.S. government assertions blaming the Syrian government and the Russian government, respectively, were widely accepted without meaningful skepticism or simple demands for basic evidence.

Swallowing Propaganda

Just as with the Iraqi WMD case, the major Western media made no demands for proof. They just fell in line and marched closer to the edge of global war. Indeed, the learned cockroaches might observe that the supposed watchdogs in the American press had willingly leashed themselves to the U.S. government as the two institutions moved in unison toward catastrophe.

The few humans in the media who did express skepticism – largely found on something called the Internet – were dismissed as fill-in-the-blank “apologists,” much as occurred with the doubters against the Iraqi WMD case in 2002-2003. The people demanding real evidence were marginalized and those who accepted whatever the powerful said were elevated to positions of ever-greater influence.

If the cockroach historians could burrow deep enough into the radioactive ashes, they might discover that – on an individual level – people such as Washington Post editorial page editor Fred Hiatt wasn’t fired after swallowing the WMD lies whole and regurgitating them on the Post’s readership; that New York Times columnist Roger Cohen and dozens of similar opinion-leaders were not unceremoniously replaced; that Hillary Clinton, a neocon in the supposedly “liberal” Democratic Party, was rewarded with the party’s presidential nomination in 2016; and that the likes of Iraq War architect Robert Kagan remained the toast of the American capital with his opinions sought after and valued.

The cockroaches might observe that humans showed little ability to adapt amid very dangerous conditions, i.e., the bristling nuclear arsenals of eight or so countries. Instead, the humans pressed toward their own doom, tagging along after guides who had proven incompetent over and over again but were still followed toward a civilization-ending precipice.

These guides casually urged the masses toward the edge with sweet-sounding phrases like “democracy promotion,” “responsibility to protect,” and “humanitarian wars.” The same guides, who had sounded so confident about the wisdom of “shock and awe” in Iraq and then the “regime change” in Libya, pitched plans for a U.S. invasion of Syria, albeit presented as the establishment of “safe zones” and “no-fly zones.”

After orchestrating a coup in Russia’s neighbor Ukraine, overthrowing the elected president and then sponsoring an “anti-terrorism operation” to kill ethnic Russian Ukrainians who objected to the coup, Western politicians and policymakers saw only “Russian aggression” when Moscow gave these embattled people some assistance. When citizens in Crimea voted 96 percent to separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia, the West denounced the referendum as a “sham” and called it a “Russian invasion.” It didn’t matter that opinion polls repeatedly found similar overwhelming support among the Crimean people for the change. The false narrative, insisting that Russia had instigated the Ukraine crisis, was accepted with near-universal gullibility across the West.

A Moscow ‘Regime Change’

Behind this fog of propaganda, U.S. and other Western officials mounted a significant NATO military build-up on Russia’s border, complete with large-scale military exercises practicing the seizure of Russian territory.

Russian warnings against these operations were dismissed as hysterical and as further proof for the need to engineer another “regime change,” this time in Moscow. But first the Russian government had to be destabilized by making the economy scream. Then, the plan was for political disruptions and eventually a Ukraine-style coup to remove the thrice-elected President Vladimir Putin.

The wisdom of throwing a nuclear power into economic, political and social disorder – and risking that the nuclear codes might end up in truly dangerous hands – was barely discussed.

Even before the desired coup, the West’s neoconservatives advocated giving the Russians a bloody nose in Syria where Moscow’s forces had intervened at the Syrian government’s request to turn back Islamic jihadists who were fighting alongside Western-backed “moderate” rebels.

The neocon/liberal-hawk plans for “no-fly zones” and “safe zones” inside Syria required the U.S. military’s devastation of Syrian government forces and presumably the Russian air force personnel inside Syria with the Russians expected to simply take their beating and keep quiet.

The cockroach historians also might note that once the neocons and their liberal interventionist sidekicks decided on one of their strategic plans at some “think-tank” conference – or wrote it down in a report or an op-ed – they were single-minded in implementing it regardless of its impracticality or recklessness.

These hawks were highly skilled at spinning new propaganda themes to justify what they had decided to do. Since they dominated the major media outlets, that was fairly easy without anyone of note taking note that the talking points were simply word games. But the neocons and liberal hawks were very good at word games. Plus, these widely admired interventionists were never troubled with self-doubt whatever mayhem and death followed in their wake.

So, when the decision was made to invade Iraq, Libya and Syria or to stage a coup in Ukraine or to destabilize nuclear-armed Russia, the neocons and their friends never countenanced the possibility that something could go wrong.

And when setbacks and even catastrophes resulted, the messes were excused away as the failure of some politician to implement the neocon/liberal-hawk scheme to the precise letter. If only more force had been used, if only people on the ground were more competent, if only the few critics were silenced and prevented from sowing doubts about the wisdom of the plan, then it would have succeeded. It was never their fault.

As the West’s new foreign-policy establishment, the neocons and their liberal helpers validated their own thoughts as brilliant and infallible. And who was there to doubt them? Who had the necessary access to the West’s mass media and who had the courage to counter their clever arguments and suffer the predictable ridicule, insults and slurs? After all, there were so many esteemed people and prestigious institutions that stamped the neocon/liberal-hawk plans with gilded seals of approval.

Still, the cockroach historians might yet be puzzled by how thoroughly the world’s leadership failed the human species, particularly in the West, which prided itself in freedom of thought and diversity of opinion.

So, the pressures kept building, unchecked, until – perhaps accidentally amid excessive tensions or after some extreme nationalist had exploited Russia’s “regime change” chaos to seize power – the final line was crossed.

‘Extending American Power’

Though much of human information would likely have been lost in the nuclear firestorms that were unleashed, the cockroach historians could learn much if they could get their antennae around a 2016 report by a group called the Center for a New American Security, consisting of prominent neocons and liberal interventionists, including some expected to play high-level roles in a Hillary Clinton administration.


Prominent neocon intellectual Robert Kagan. 
(Photo credit: Mariusz Kubik,

These “experts” included foreign-policy stars such as Robert Kagan (formerly of the Reagan administration’s State Department, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century – an early advocate for the Iraq War – and later a scholar at the Brookings Institution and a Washington Post columnist), James P. Rubin (who served in Bill Clinton’s State Department and made a name for himself as a TV commentator), Michele Flournoy (the Under Secretary of Defense for Policy during Barack Obama’s first term and touted as Hillary Clinton’s favorite to be Secretary of Defense), Eric Edelman (who preceded Flournoy in her Obama job except he served under George W. Bush), Stephen J. Hadley (George W. Bush’s second-term national security advisor), and James Steinberg (a deputy national security advisor under Bill Clinton and Deputy Secretary of State under Secretary of State Hillary Clinton).

In other words, this group, which included many other big names as well, was a who’s who of who’s important in Washington’s foreign-policy establishment. Their report was brazenly entitled “Extending American Power” and painted an idyllic picture of the world population living happily under U.S. domination in the seven decades since World War II.

“The world order created in the aftermath of World War II has produced immense benefits for peoples across the planet,” the report asserted, ignoring periodic slaughters carried out across the Third World, from Vietnam to Latin America to Africa to the Middle East, often inflicted by the massive application of U.S. firepower and other times by tribal or religious hatreds and rivalries exacerbated by big-power interference.

Also downplayed was the environmental devastation that has come with the progress of hyper-capitalism, threatening the long-term survival of human civilization via “global warming” – assuming that “nuclear winter” doesn’t intervene first.

Even though many of these benighted “experts” were complicit in gross violations of international law – including aggressive war in Iraq, Libya and elsewhere; lethal drone strikes in multiple countries; torture of “war on terror” detainees; and subversion of internationally recognized governments – they deluded themselves into believing that they stood for some legalistic global structure, declaring:

“United States still has the military, economic, and political power to play the leading role in protecting a stable rules-based international order.” Exactly what stability and what rules were left fuzzy.

In line with their underlying delusions, these “experts” called for feeding more money into the maw of the Military-Industrial Complex and flexing American military muscle: “An urgent first step is to significantly increase U.S. national security and defense spending and eliminate the budgetary strait-jacket of the Budget Control Act. A second and related step is to formulate policies that take advantage of the substantial military, economic, and diplomatic power Washington has available but has been reluctant to deploy in recent years.”

Battling Russia over Ukraine

The bipartisan group – representing what might be called Official Washington’s consensus – also urged a tough stand against Russia regarding Ukraine, including military assistance to help the post-coup Ukrainian regime crush ethnic Russian resistance in the east.


Screen shot of the fatal fire in Odessa, Ukraine, 
killing dozen of ethnic Russians who had sought refuge there 
on May 2, 2014. (From RT video)

“The United States must provide Ukrainian armed forces with the training and equipment necessary to resist Russian-backed forces and Russian forces operating on Ukrainian territory,” the report said, adding as a recommendation: “Underwrite credible security guarantees to NATO allies on the frontlines with Russia. Given recent Russian behavior, it is no longer possible to ignore the possible challenge to NATO countries that border Russia. The Baltics in particular are vulnerable to both direct attack and the more complicated ‘hybrid’ warfare that Russia has displayed in Ukraine.
“To provide reassurance to U.S. allies and also to deter Russian efforts to destabilize these nations, it is necessary to build upon the European Reassurance Initiative and establish a more robust U.S. force presence in appropriate central and eastern Europe countries, which should include a mix of permanently stationed forces, rotationally deployed forces, prepositioned equipment, access arrangements and a more robust schedule of military training and exercises. …

“The United States should also work with both NATO and the EU to counter Russian influence-peddling and subversion using corruption and illegal financial manipulation.”

Apparently that last point about “influence-peddling” was a reference to the need to silence dissident voices in the West that object to the new Cold War and dispute U.S. propaganda aimed at justifying the increased tensions with Russia. The report’s Washington insiders clearly understand that their future career prospects are advanced by taking a belligerent approach toward Russia.

Regarding Syria, the bipartisan group of neocons and liberal hawks urged a U.S. military invasion with the goal of establishing a “no-fly zone” while building up insurgent forces capable of compelling “regime change” in Damascus, a strategy similar to those followed in Iraq and Libya to disastrous results.

“In our view, there can be no political solution to the Syrian civil war so long as the military balance continues to convince [Syrian President Bashar al-] Assad he can remain in power. And as a result of Iran’s shock troops and military equipment deployed to Syria, and the modern aircraft and other conventional forces Russia has now deployed, the military balance tilts heavily in favor of the Assad regime,” the report said.
“At a minimum, the inadequate efforts hitherto to arm, train, and protect a substantial Syrian opposition force must be completely overhauled and made a much higher priority. In the meantime, and in light of this grim reality, the United States, together with France and other allies, must employ the necessary military power, including an appropriately designed no-fly zone, to create a safe space in which Syrians can relocate without fear of being killed by Assad’s forces and where moderate opposition militias can arm, train, and organize.”

How a U.S.-led invasion of a sovereign country and the arming of a military force to overthrow the government fit with the group’s enthusiasm for “a rule-based international order” is not explained. Clearly, the prescribed actions are in violation of the United Nations Charter and other international legal standards, but apparently the only real “rules” the group believes in are those that serve its purposes and change depending on the needs for “extending American power.”

Similar hypocrisy pervaded the group’s other recommendations, but the blind obedience to these double standards – indeed the inability to see or acknowledge the blatant contradictions – might be of interest to the cockroach historians because it could help them understand how the U.S. foreign policy establishment lost its mind and blundered into unnecessary conflicts that could easily escalate into strategic warfare, even thermonuclear conflagration.

A Steady Drumbeat

But this collection of neocons and liberal hawks wasn’t just an odd group of careerist “thinkers” trying to impress Hillary Clinton. Their double-thinking “group think” extended throughout the American establishment in the second decade of the Twenty-first Century.

Columnist Roger Cohen

For instance, The New York Times and other major publications were dominated by both neocon and liberal-hawk commentators, writers like Roger Cohen, who was one of the many pundits who swallowed the Iraq War lies whole and — despite the disaster — avoided any negative career consequences. So, in 2016, that left Cohen and his fellow Iraq War cheerleaders still pressing political leaders to expand the war in Syria and ratchet up tensions with Russia at every opportunity.

In a column about the mass shooting at a gay night club in Orlando, Florida, on June 12 – in which the shooter was reported to have claimed allegiance to ISIS – Cohen tacked on a typically distorted account of President Obama’s approach to the Syrian conflict. Ignoring that Obama had the CIA and the Pentagon covertly train and arm rebel groups seeking to overthrow the Syrian government, Cohen wrote:

“Yes, to have actively done nothing in Syria over more than five years of war — so allowing part of the country to become an ISIS stronghold, contributing to a massive refugee crisis in Europe, acquiescing to slaughter and displacement on a devastating scale, undermining America’s word in the world, and granting open season for President Vladimir Putin to strut his stuff — amounts to the greatest foreign policy failure of the Obama administration. It has made the world far more dangerous.”

But Cohen did not acknowledge his own role as a brash supporter of the Iraq War in sparking the creation of Al Qaeda in Iraq, which later morphed into the Islamic State or ISIS. Nor did he address the fact that the United States and its allies, such as Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have essentially kept the Syrian civil war going, a point even acknowledged by some supporters of Syrian “regime change.”

For instance, Thanassis Cambanis of the “progressive” Century Foundation produced a report entitled “The Case for a More Robust U.S. Intervention in Syria,” which acknowledged that “most of the armed opposition has survived only because of foreign intervention.” In other words, much of the death and destruction in Syria, which also has fueled political instability in Europe because of the massive refugee flow, resulted from intervention from the United States and its allies.

So, the cure to the mess created by these not-thought-through interventions, at least in the view of Cohen and other eager interventionists, is more intervention. It was just such obsessive and irrational thinking – embraced as Official Washington’s “conventional wisdom” – that pushed the world toward the eve of destruction in 2016.

Contemplating all this human foolishness, the cockroach historians might be left using one of their six legs to scratch their heads.

[For more on these topics, see’s “A Family Business of Perpetual War“; “Neocons and Neolibs: How Dead Ideas Kill“; and “The State Department’s Collective Madness.”]

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