Hillary Clinton’s Presidential Campaign Is Now Effectively Over

Wall Street Warns Dems Not to Choose Senator Elizabeth Warren 

Eric Zuesse

Hillary Clinton’s unannounced campaign for the U.S. Presidency has already failed. Her arrogance (or else stupidity) in having wiped clean the hard drive of the private server she had used for her emails while she was the U.S. Secretary of State adds insult to the injury already done to her incipient campaign by the earlier revelation that she had evaded the State Department’s record-keeping system and had used her private server for all of her State Department emails and not only for her personal emails. (The NYT had headlined March 2nd: “Hillary Clinton Used Personal Email at State Dept., Possibly Breaking Rules.”

CNN, early Saturday morning, March 28th, bannered the big follow-up, “Hillary Clinton deleted all email from personal server,” and reported that, “Hillary Clinton permanently deleted all the emails on the private server she used to do official business as secretary of state.” Ms. Clinton immediately responded to reporters’ questions by saying that nothing of importance to, or concerning, her State Department business, was on that server, and that she had recently sent to the investigator who is looking into this matter “roughly 30,000 emails” that related to State Department business. However, the public, and prosecutors, will now not be able to see the other emails (which she says were approximately 32,000), because she then had that server wiped clean. She says she had had this done because “no one wants their personal emails made public.” 

In other words: the public would just have to trust her assertion that nothing related to government business was in those “personal emails.”

Private letters from Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, Abraham Lincoln, and other American leaders, are published in books; but Hillary Clinton does not think that the American public should ever have access to hers. Today’s emails are like paper-and-ink letters in that bygone era; but she has, in effect, burned them. Historians won’t get to see them; neither will the public.

Even the earlier revelation had caused her ratio of unfavorable-to-favorable ratings in polls to soar.

On March 19th, Reuters headlined, “Many Democrats want independent Clinton email probe: Reuters/Ipsos poll,” and reported: “Support for Clinton’s candidacy has dropped about 15 percentage points since mid-February among Democrats, with as few as 45 percent saying they would support her in the last week.”

In the CBS News poll, taken March 21-24, Hillary’s Favorable rating was 26%, Not Favorable was 37%; this had last been polled by CBS on September 12-16 of 2008: 51% Favorable, 35% Unfavorable. Her Favorable is down from 51% to 26%, almost half, since then. The latest Gallup poll on that question was March 2-4 (this year): 50% Favorable, 39% Unfavorable. Assuming comparability of the Gallup and the CBS polls, her figures went from 50% Favorable and 39% Unfavorable just as the first news of this email scandal broke, down to 26% Favorable and 37% Unfavorable just before the latest revelation — the revelation that she had wiped her server clean — and it’s likely to go even lower now, after that second blow.

Wall Street has banked on Hillary’s becoming President. Her husband gave them what they wanted (the end of the Glass-Steagall Act); and during the past year she has been collecting millions of dollars in ‘speaking fees’ for meeting with them in private.

According to all accounts of the collections by her nascent campaign organization, money has been flowing into it by the millions.

And Wall Street is already panicking at the news-reports of her email scandal.

On Friday March 27th, Britain’s Guardian headlined, “Elizabeth Warren: Banks Could Halt Donations in Protest at Senator’s Plans,” and reported that, “Big Wall Street banks are so upset with Elizabeth Warren’s call for them to be broken up that some have discussed withholding campaign donations to Senate Democrats in symbolic protest, sources familiar with the discussions said. Representatives from Citigroup, JP Morgan, Goldman Sachs and Bank of America have met to discuss ways to urge Democrats, including Warren and Ohio senator Sherrod Brown, to soften their party’s tone toward Wall Street, sources familiar with the discussions said this week.”

On 19 April 2014, the Guardian had headlined “Wall Street deregulation pushed by Clinton advisers, documents reveal” and reported that, “Throughout the documents, which are among 7,000 pages released by the Clinton library on Friday, there is little discussion of internal opposition to repealing Glass-Steagall,” which was the FDR law, passed in response to the 1929 economic crash, that (up till 2000) blocked banks from ever again gambling with depositors’ money and from their leaving the Federal Government holding the bag (bank “bailouts”) when such bank-gambles produce losses, as occurred again in 2008. Senator Warren wants to reinstate those protections for depositors and taxpayers, and the megabanks are terrified against that possibility.

Naturally, then, on 21 May 2014, Mother Jones bannered, “Hillary Clinton’s Speaking Circuit Payday: $5 Million (and Counting),” and listed some of the companies that were forking over $200,000 apiece to have private sessions with her (’speaking fees’) while she was “considering” to gear up for a Presidential campaign: Fidelity Investments, Goldman Sachs, the Carlyle Group, Kohlberg Kravis Roberts, the National Association of Realtors, etc. Her donors’ list is rich; and it’s all ‘private,’ perhaps just like the emails that she destroyed.

The only Democrats who will be voting for Hillary Clinton are the ones who are satisfied for Wall Street to own Main Street.

And Republicans will vote against her because she’s not nominally “Republican.”

End of story. End of Presidential chance. (But, likely, not end of Presidential campaign. More likely, just the start for other Democrats to enter the race.)

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity

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Will Cash Always Be Trash, Or Will It One Day Be King?

When the phantom wealth evaporates and risk assets go bidless, cash will once again be king, for the simple reason there will be so little of it.

Occasionally it’s a good idea to step away from the daily grind to consider the larger issues we all face–for example, the future of the money we earn and the bits we invest in something we hope holds or increases its value.

At present, cash is trash: cash earns almost no yield, and in some countries it now earns a negative interest rate, meaning it costs you to park your cash in a bank.

Even cash equivalents such as one-year Treasury bonds pay almost nothing.

Those who avoided debt and risky assets since 2009 have seen their cash lose value when adjusted for inflation, while those who borrowed to the hilt and bought risk-on assets such as stocks, junk bonds and high-end housing have skimmed monumental gains for doing what the central banks incentivized: borrowing money and buying speculative risk-on assets.

Correspondent Kevin K. recently sent me a link to a home in the San Francisco Bay Area that was purchased around the crash era (2008-09) for $1.4 million, and sold last year for $2.1 million.

Assuming a conventional 20% down payment of $280,000, the savvy buyer borrowed $1.12 million at historically low rates and offloaded the house 6 years later for a cool $560,000 profit (assuming a 6% sales commission and closing costs).

That’s a 200% return on the $280,000 cash down payment–a healthy reward for borrowing to the hilt for a mere 6 years.

Anyone who margined to the hilt in 2009 and rode the stock market higher with borrowed money easily earned returns in excess of 200%.

Yet how many people did so? Consider this chart of the wealth of U.S. households before and after the Global Financial Meltdown and Great Recession.

By the look of it, even the top 5%–individuals earning taxable incomes of $120,000 or more, according to the Social Security Administration, or households with total incomes around $350,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau (Table F-3. Mean Income Received by Each Fifth and Top 5 Percent of Families, XLS file)–have yet to regain the value of assets owned in 2007, before the Global Financial Meltdown/Great Recession.

If the top 5% had borrowed/margined to the hilt and dumped all that dough into risk assets, their net wealth would have skyrocketed. Clearly, few did so.

This suggests those who did margin/borrow to the hilt were in the top 1% or .1%.95% of 2009-2012 Income Gains Went to Wealthiest 1%: Average inflation-adjusted income per family climbed 6% between 2009 and 2012, the first years of the economic recovery. During that period, the top 1% saw their incomes climb 31.4% — or, 95% of the total gain — while the bottom 99% saw growth of 0.4%.

What would have to happen for cash to be transformed from trash to “cash is king”? The basic answer is: all the risk-on credit/asset bubbles that have richly rewarded those who have speculated with borrowed money will have to implode and be impervious to central bank attempts to re-inflate the bubbles.

What conditions would have to be present for credit/assets to implode and not recover?

We are in uncharted territory in terms of the global bubble in credit and risk-on assets, so the answer isn’t immediately clear. Here are some possibilities:

1. Credit growth falters.

2. Borrowing dries up (despite abundant credit).

3. A global scramble for cash to pay debt and the costs of lavish lifestyles triggers the liquidation of risk-on assets.

4. The risk-on assets go bidless, i.e. nobody wants luxury yachts, super-cars, estates, etc. at any price because the value is plummeting.

5. As phantom wealth evaporates, everyone realizes the collateral propping up the mountains of debt is either impaired or non-existent.

When the phantom wealth evaporates and risk assets go bidless, cash will once again be king, for the simple reason there will be so little of it. When the opposite of the present dynamic is “impossible,” then the “impossible” becomes not just likely but inevitable.

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Stop Smoking the Democrack

PictureBy Cindy Sheehan and David Swanson

The U.S. government is toying with a war with nuclear Russia while already waging wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, having done severe damage to Libya, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia. Military spending is climbing ever higher. Presidential war powers are ever more extreme. The proliferation of nuclear technology is combining with the ease and secrecy of drone wars to raise the risk of a Dr. Strangelove finish to the human species. And, let’s face it, you had more time to give a damn when the president was a Republican.

The top means by which war kills is the diversion of unfathomable piles of money away from life-saving initiatives. That spending continues without pause. President Obama and most of Congress want it increased even more next year. The Congressional Progressive Caucus just put out a budget that made no mention of military spending but — if you searched through the numbers — was proposing to cut it by 1% ($13 billion of $1.3 trillion in spending across several departments). We’re talking about the single item that takes up over half of discretionary spending. One or two percent of it could make U.S. college education free, or end starvation on earth. A bigger slice could take on climate protection. Everyone across the inch-wide chasm of the political divide in Washington prefers to see the militarism continue. Of 100 senators, 100 favor sanctions on Iran. Bipartisanship is alive and well when it comes to war promotion.

The top risk from war is nuclear holocaust. That danger continues to grow with active U.S. assistance. The second worst thing a U.S. president can do about war is grab more war powers and pass them on to all future presidents. In that regard, President Obama has outdone President Bush. Lying to Congress is now totally routine: Congress and the United Nations can simply be ignored. Secrecy has mushroomed. President Obama picks out men, women, and children to murder from a list on Tuesdays. The public, the Congress, and the courts have no say and often no knowledge. President Obama has dramatically increased U.S. weapons sales abroad — the U.S. being far and away the top supplier of weapons to regions that the U.S. public thinks of as inherently violent.

While Obama’s body count doesn’t yet begin to approach Bush’s in terms of people directly and violently killed, that’s not a standard that will get us to survival, much less peace and prosperity.

Why do so many people think of the political party that lied the United States into two world wars, the Korean war, the war on Vietnam, the Kosovo war, the Libya war, and the war on ISIS — the party that dropped the nukes on Japan — as a party for peace?

Why do longtime war advocates like Charles Schumer and Hillary Clinton get a pass? What benefit from making Hillary president could outweigh shutting down the peace movement for 4 or 8 years?

Hillary was instrumental in persuading her husband to bomb the former Yugoslavia against the will of Congress. She pushed for the 2003 attack on Iraq and the 2011 attack on Libya. She tried to get a U.S. war on Syria going in 2013. She pushed for the Obama-era escalation in Afghanistan — a war that is now more Obama’s than Bush’s by every measure.

Hillary has urged Iran to be aware that she could “obliterate” it. She has giggled with pleasure at having killed Muamar Gadaffi. She’s hawkish on Ukraine.

What can be done?

Tell people you know what warmaking has become, because someday the president will be a Republican and they’ll grow outraged.

Give up on the idea of bestowing royal tokenism on every deserving demographic before the planet’s trashed. We don’t have that kind of time to work with.

Oregon has just made voter registration automatic, and California is proposing the same. Devote yourself to making sure that your state does likewise, and refuse to any longer think of registering people to vote as useful activism or to waste your time doing it.

Rather than giving a blank check to war mongering for the next nearly two years and then possibly beginning to object, save us all the suffering and pretend the president right now is Dick Cheney. Protest accordingly.

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Spc Casey Sheehan who was murdered in Iraq on 04/04/04 by the US Empire and has become a non-flinching and uncompromising peace activist and host of her own podcast: Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox and Editor in Chief of the Soapbox People’s Network.

David Swanson is an author, activist, journalist, and radio host. He is director of WorldBeyondWar.org and campaign coordinator for RootsAction.org. Swanson’s books include War Is A Lie. He blogs at DavidSwanson.org and WarIsACrime.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio. He is a 2015 Nobel Peace Prize Nominee.

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Trademark Jaw-Dropping US Hypocrisy on Display re Saudi Aggression vs. Russian “Aggression”

Washington has for months been screaming about Russian “aggression” against post-US-backed coup Ukraine.  The screams are never accompanied by any clear evidence (perhaps highlighting why the screaming is so important), which the governments of Germany and other European countries recently announced is for good reason: the claims are merely more of Washington’s characteristic, self-serving distortions.

Condemnation of Russian “aggression” was already a case study in US-American hypocrisy, as the US is the country that has carried out, and is continuing, the worst case of aggression of the century, the invasion of Iraq, which, as part of its ongoing, wider war for hegemony over the Middle East, has slaughtered somewhere on the order of 1 to 2 or more million people in the last ten years, according to a new study by the Nobel-winning Physicians for Social Responsibility.  (This is in addition to the approximately ten thousand of its “own” people the US has slaughtered domestically in the last ten or so years.)

Really?

Adding to this, the US is now openly coordinating another act of naked aggression committed by a tandem force of two US-collaborator countries competing for the title of world’s worst domestic dictatorship: Saudi Arabia and Egypt.

Amazingly (though typically), the US and its media partners, such as NBC, are trying to spin the Saudi invasion as a Saudi “proxy” war…  It isn’t.  The Saudis are not using proxies.  They themselves are doing it…  openly, as terrorist states backed by the US are often wont to do.  If it is a proxy war in any way, it is a US proxy war, since the Saudis are using US planes and being coordinated by the United States, making them, arguably, US proxies.

All of this serves to continue to underline, for the X-thousandth time, the cornerstone operating principle of the United States: We can do anything, and places we want to conquer can do nothing (the principle of any unreasonable person or group with a lust for power over others).

Part of this principle involves ignoring that, while the Saudis are “desperate to portray this [their invasion of Yemen] as a counter to Iran”, and that is supposed to be the excuse for the aggression (legally, excuses for aggression are irrelevant and to be ignored), Russia would not be allowed to use “countering the US/NATO expansion” as a reason for supporting Ukrainian anti-coup democrats.  That would be violating the US principle: you are not allowed to counter the terrorism of the US or its collaborators, such as the freedom-loving Saudi “royal” dictatorship.  Thus Russian can have no involvement with eastern Ukrainian democrats, while the US can organize a terrorist army to destroy Syria, as it continues to do.

Also of continued note here is that Saudi Arabia is a semi-nuclear state: it has a deal to order nukes at any time from Pakistan (which the US openly helped go nuclear in the early 90s), and the Saudi Ambassador today announced that Saudi Arabia will not rule out making nukes, and will never negotiate about making nukes.  (The idea that the US cares about Islamic fundamentalist states having nukes was debunked long ago, as noted above re Pakistan.)  The US-backed Saudi example stands in contrast to Iran, which invades no one, loudly disavows nuclear weapons, has no nuclear weapons, is not pursuing them (according to the US’s own spies), and is the most inspected country in the world.  Millions of Iranians have been killed with US support since 1953, and Iran remains under harsh US-led threat and siege (sanction), with its civilian nuclear program as the pretext.  The international community supports Iran’s right to a nuclear program.

Also see Antiwar.com’s “No Proxy War: Saudi Invasion of Yemen just Flat Out Aggression“.

A researcher from the above-cited Physician’s for Social Responsibility body-count study notes: “A politically useful option for U.S. political elites has been to attribute the on-going violence to internecine conflicts of various types, including historical religious animosities, as if the resurgence and brutality of such conflicts is unrelated to the destabilization cause by decades of outside military intervention,” they write. “As such, under-reporting of the human toll attributed to ongoing Western interventions, whether deliberate of through self-censorship, has been key to removing the ‘fingerprints’ of responsibility.”

Author and UK-based colleague on Twitter.

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Inherent to those U.S. constitutional ideas was antipathy toward militarism and militaristic rule of any sort, though Native Americans have good cause to disagree. (In fact, stories of the American conquest of Native Americans with its solution of placing them on reservations were particularly popular in Germany early in the Twentieth Century including with Adolf Hitler).

https://consortiumnews.com/2015/03/27/neocons-the-echo-of-german-fascism/


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Recursive Lending Analysis: ‘Money’ is an invisible mathematical trap of perpetual debt

By guest author Paul Grignon, creator of the Money as Debt Trilogy viewed by tens of millions worldwide in 24 languages, and used by Advanced Placement Economics teachers to communicate how what we use for money is created as debt (my AP Econ assignment using Paul’s movie). Paul is an independent researcher, writer, visual artist, and movie creator.

Money created as a debt-of-itself is an elusive concept.  Put simply, most of our money is bank credit, mere numbers on a computer created by a borrower promising to pay the same numbers back to a bank, on a schedule. Logically, in order for it all to be paid back, it has to all remain available to be earned by the borrowers that created it.

But the banking system offers the most return on our money if we place our money into term deposits, making it unavailable to the borrowers that created it.  Because the amount in savings is a deferred demand for legal tender, the bank is free to create new bank credit, i.e. current liabilities for legal tender on demand, in its place.  In effect, money created as debt has been re-lent as if it were loanable funds, resulting in two simultaneous principal debts of the same money.

And it doesn’t stop there. Over the considerable lifetime of a mortgage, any of this money can be spent, earned, deposited and replaced with new debt any number of times.

M2 (cash, checking and savings) in the USA is normally about 4 times M1 (cash and checking). This means that 3/4 of all the money created as debt-to-banks-on-a-schedule and on which borrowers are making principal and interest payments is locked away in savings, perpetually unavailable to the borrowers that created it.

Moreover, how can M2 be 4 times M1? Money created as the current liability of a bank is always M1 to begin with and becomes part of M2 when lent back to the banking system as a term deposit.  Assuming term deposits are replaced with new M1 debt-money, where did it all go?  It must have gone back into term deposits and been replaced again.

My conclusion is that for M2 to be 4 times M1, every dollar of existing M1 must have been, on average, deposited and replaced 3 times over.  Or, to put it another way, every dollar in actual circulation is simultaneously owed to 4 lenders, the bank that created it and 3 savers.

We, as a society, borrow from Peter to pay Paul and vice-versa, caught in an invisible mathematical trap of perpetual debt that has no escape except default. Past principal debt can only be paid with newly created principal, leaving the newer loan dependent on the next loan for available means of payment.

Therefore, whenever the supply of new bank credit slows down, for any reason, it causes mathematically inevitable defaults.  People lose their homes and businesses.  Mass default and economic collapse can only be avoided by a constantly increasing flow of new bank credit.  

The good news is that it is possible to unwind this fragile situation constructively and without disruption. However, to do so, it is necessary to think outside of the box.  It is necessary to convert bank savings into a different form, credits payable in goods and services only.  Fortunately, this form of exchange and wealth storage medium already exists and is estimated to account for at least 20% of business-to-business world trade at the present time.

Credits for products and services from specific suppliers would be secured savings backed by the full productivity of private enterprise, rather than unsecured bank savings subject to bail-in confiscation by a house-of-cards banking system. This straightforward change in the system would remedy the current system’s inherently unstable math, and would be highly advantageous to savers, businesses, the banking system and for rebuilding our economies.  It would also free us from the growth imperative that is driving the planet to ecocide.

The full proofs of this analysis and a very detailed proposal for this path out of our current monetary dilemmas is to be found at moneyasdebt.net.

My paper on this subject published by the World Economics Association.

**

The good news is that solutions are ready and available:

Labor Day 2014: Economic solutions already here for full-employment, zero public deficits and debts

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An Introduction to Yemen’s Emergency

By Helen Lacker, who has worked in all parts of Yemen since the 1970s and lived there for close to 15 years.  She has written about the country’s political economy as well as social and economic issues.  She works as a freelance rural development consultant in Yemen and elsewhere and is currently also engaged in research on hydro politics in Yemen. Her latest book as editor:  – Why Yemen Matters, Saqi books 2014. This piece first appeared at Open Democracy on January 25, 2015.

Bab_Al_Yemen. Bab_Al_Yemen. Wikicommons. Some rights reserved.

The determination of the mass street demonstrations and occupations throughout the country in 2011 were insufficient to firmly exclude the former ruler from future involvement in Yemeni politics. Although Ali Abdullah Saleh was forced to abandon the presidency in November 2011 under pressure from the Gulf Cooperation Council  (GCC) and the United Nations Security Council (UNSC), neither the GCC, the UNSC nor indeed the Yemeni people were able to force him out of the country. He remained in Yemen as a major force subverting the transitional process.

Hadi, the rock and the hard place

His successor, former Vice President Abdu Rabbu Mansour Hadi, surprised many by not acting as a mere puppet to Saleh, but was unfortunately unable to manage the political transition towards a new Yemen. While most of the commitments included in the GCC agreement were formally implemented,  in practice the transitional regime was unable to make the fundamental changes which were essential to bring about a ‘new’ Yemen and transfer power away from the previous elite groups. In addition to the points below, this was largely because the GCC/UNSC sponsored deal remained firmly within the confines of neoliberal policies and did not clearly and explicitly support a fundamental transformation and democratization of the country, which would challenge its existing elites.

The Government of National Unity was formed as planned: with a majority of ministers from the  main existing elite factions (Saleh’s GPC and the Islah party[1]), who used their ministries as bases to increase their patronage and income while the ministers from minority parties, women, youth and civil society were unable to affect the situation. This government gained the reputation of being the most ineffective and corrupt in the country’s history. Islah’s influence kept it in power with the aged Prime Minister who was its man till mid-2014, when the party was seriously weakened in fighting with the Huthis.

The old guard infiltrate democratisation

With considerable difficulty but determination, Hadi successfully changed most of the leaders of the main military and security institutions, removing those most closely associated with Saleh; but he was unable to change the middle ranking officers, and the majority of units, particularly the well-trained ones, remained loyal to Saleh. This is one of, if not the main reason why Hadi was unable to respond militarily to the Huthi take-over of Sana’a in September 2014 or effectively fight them in recent days when they took over of the main centres of political power (Radio and TV,  Presidential Palaces,  Council of Ministers, etc.)

The National Dialogue Conference (NDC) was intended to bring together all Yemeni political forces, the traditional parties and personalities as well as the new ones emerging from the 2011 popular uprisings, including women, youth and civil society. Although delayed and the selection and representation mechanisms for its membership were somewhat debatable, this was an important political event where young people, women and civil society elements were able to express unorthodox views. Older influential ‘traditional’ leaders were compelled to engage with them as equals, something which some of them probably resented. The NDC produced over 1800 recommendations. Due to fundamental political disagreements, it was unable to agree solutions to the Southern question (discussed below) or decide the number of regions to be included in a federal state.

Who are the Huthis?

Until recently, most people had never heard of them.  The name of their movement is that of their leaders’ family. Originally set up in 1992 by Hussein al Huthi as the ‘Believing Youth’ social and Zaydi revivalist movement, it first operated in alliance with Saleh’s regime[2]. However, Saleh encouraged the establishment of the rival Dar al Hadith Salafi centre in the heart of the Zaydi community. This led in 2004 to the first of a series of wars between the Saleh regime and the Huthi movement. Although Hussein al Huthi was killed in September 2004, the movement increased in strength despite worsening violent repression through 6 wars which killed thousands, displaced more, and destroyed the local economy and infrastructure. A ceasefire was agreed in 2010, and would probably not have held had the 2011 uprisings not taken place.

Ideologically, the Huthis share the social characteristics of other fundamentalist groups, including claims to theological correctness, belief in unquestioning obedience to leaders and a retrograde attitude to women’s rights. Although a Shi’a group, Zaydi theological differences with Sunnis are few and the main distinguishing characteristic is their belief in the innate right of sada [ie descendants of the prophet] to rule.

Rise of the Huthis

In 2011 the Huthis participated in the uprisings against the Saleh regime where, after March, they found themselves on the same side as some of their main enemies: Ali Mohsen al Ahmar (the main military leader fighting them during the wars) and the Islah Party, long-standing rivals in their home areas. Instability throughout the country gave them the opportunity of taking complete control of their home governorate of Sa’ada bordering Saudi Arabia by the end of 2011, and in the following years, of increasing parts of the neighbouring governorates of Hajja, Amran and Jawf.

The NDC ended a year ago, on 25 January 2014, and the ‘implementation of the outcomes of the NDC’ has since then become a slogan used in all official policy statements, including those which completely contradict these outcomes. The year revealed the fundamental weaknesses of the GCC agreement through the slowing down of progress on reforms on the one hand and the worsening security situation on the other. The transition was due to end in February 2014 but extended without a new deadline, largely to allow the Constitutional Drafting Committee (CDC) to carry out its duties and the preparation of a referendum on the constitution and new elections.

The Saleh-Huthi pact

How did the Huthis rise from being a minority regional politico-military movement to taking complete control over the formal state in less than one year? Long suspected by most Yemenis, but ignored by the international community, and denied by both concerned parties, the alliance between the Huthis and Saleh has been the main factor behind their military success. The vast majority of the Huthis’ armed forces are military and security units loyal to Saleh who follow his orders. Moreover even senior Huthi leaders take orders from Saleh, as revealed by a recently leaked telephone conversation[3] between Saleh and Abdul Wahed Abu Ras (Huthi representative at the NDC) where the former orders the latter to coordinate activities with Saleh loyalists, to ensure they control the country’s borders; they even discuss the appointment of the next Prime Minister: Abu Ras meekly acquiesces. Last week, it also emerged that the military refused to obey the Minister of Defence’s order to protect the Presidential Palace and other strategic locations in Sana’a: the only group who fought back were the President’s personal guard, suffering heavy casualties[4].

Last September, people wondered how the Huthis managed to take control of the capital, Sana’a, without firing a shot; the answer is clearly that the army and security forces made no move to defend the legitimate regime of President Hadi. Many people are looking forward to the moment when the Huthis remember that Saleh insulted their leader. It was also thanks to Saleh’s military forces that the Huthis defeated the al Ahmars and the Islah party in Amran Governorate, where they burned down the houses of the leading shaykhs. In September, their other main enemy, General Ali Mohsen who had led Saleh’s forces against them in the wars escaped to Saudi Arabia,  and the Huthis organized tours of his ‘house’ in Sana’a as well as ransacking those of the absent al Ahmars.

Allies & enemies: sectarianism, regionalism and tribe

Al Qaida.  The list of Huthi enemies is increasing. They have alienated many segments of the population. Their tactic of blowing up the houses of anyone who disagrees with them in the areas they control, certainly silences opposition but also increases resentment. While they have taken control of many Zaydi areas in the country, in the Shafi’i areas the situation is very different and people are fighting back. This has little, if anything, to do with theological differences or a Sunni/Shi’a split, but is based on issues of social cohesion, including tribal allegiance, power, control and (the absence of) development and social security funding for an increasingly impoverished and suffering population.

The other major strong fundamentalist armed group in Yemen, Al Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) is certainly using this situation to its advantage, promoting itself as the defender of Sunnis against takeover by Shi’a: for example, in al Bayda governorate, opposition to outsiders and other factors listed above have led local tribes to work alongside AQAP in opposition to the Huthis. The heavily populated governorates of Taizz and Ibb have few Huthis supporters and there are occasional battles between Huthis and others in these areas, and there is strong opposition to them.

The south

Further south, the Huthis have asserted their commitment to Yemeni Unity which means that the southern separatists have joined their opponents. While deeply divided with almost as many leaders as individual separatists, they are currently clearly unable to manage the former area of the People’s Democratic Republic of Yemen. One leader declared independence (22 January) of the two southern regions (under the proposed federation of 6 regions), thus opening the gates for Hadramaut in the east to separate from the rest of the former PDRY, something which most observers firmly believe they will do in the case of secession. While no less than 16 other separatist ‘organizations’ met to discuss the situation on January 23.

Who supports the Huthis?

At least until recently, they had considerable popular support from a wide range of Yemenis including all those who dislike the Islah Party, a majority of the population in the northern part of the country primarily populated by Zaydis, and  among sada throughout the country. In addition, their populist positions such as opposition to the IMF-supported fuel price rises, claims to support law and order and opposition to corruption have increased the numbers of their supporters. And, of course, many Saleh supporters including military and security troops can be relied upon to participate in carefully staged supposedly ‘popular’ support demonstrations.

The slow coup

The trigger for the events of the past week was, at long last, the presentation of the draft Constitution to the ‘Higher Authority for Monitoring the Implementation of NDC Outcomes’, after ten months of activity by the Constitutional Drafting Committee — much of it spent in luxury hotels in Abu Dhabi and elsewhere. While details of the proposed constitution are not analysed here, the Huthis’ main objection is the proposed federation of 6 regions. The original proposal excluded Hajja governorate with its outlet on the Red Sea from the region which covers most of the Huthi-controlled areas, though the Huthis have tried to control that area for a long time. Whether this was the actual only reason for their ‘slow’ coup may be revealed in coming decades.

By January 22, they had full military control over Sana’a, including all its strategic institutions, something which they could have done months ago. They wanted to keep President Hadi as a puppet president, as they hoped he would be able to ensure acceptance of their coup by the international community, and hence a continuation of financial assistance. However Saudi Arabia, the main financier, has stopped payments for anything other than emergency humanitarian aid since the September take-over. The rest of the international community rejected this illegal takeover and aid, already far too limited, is drying up. Without an acceptable ‘front’, there was no hope of it being resumed.

The Huthis overplayed their hand by kidnapping the Director of the President’s office[5], then imprisoning the President in his house and the Prime Minister in the Presidential Palace and trying to blackmail them into accepting Huthi nominees as Vice President, Deputy Ministers in most ministries and top officials in senior positions in security and other key institutions. At this point the President and Prime Minister had two options: resign or openly operate as Huthi puppets. They chose the first, and at the very least have retained self-respect and the respect of many Yemenis.

What next?

Meanwhile, the majority of the population remain demoralised and impoverished, suffering from electricity cuts in the cities (most rural areas where 68% of the population still live don’t have electricity anyway) higher prices everywhere, massive unemployment, floods or drought in agriculture. Most people feel demobilized and are waiting to see what happens next, hoping it won’t be another bomb killing dozens of their youth. The economy is almost non-existent and the country’s groundwater is running out. A sad situation and a grim future.

The ‘international community’

The ‘international community’ has not intervened effectively.  Despite claiming to support Hadi, in the last 2 years, nothing meaningful was done to strengthen his position. Counter-terrorism took priority, drone strikes reduced Hadi’s limited support base and probably increased support for armed aggressive fundamentalists.

In addition to developing an inclusive democracy, Hadi could have achieved strong and broad support throughout the country with massive development investment linked to effective humanitarian interventions. This would have enabled the millions of increasingly impoverished people to achieve something akin to a reasonable standard of living through agricultural development, other economic development (such as small and medium industries and services) in rural and urban areas, as well as improved social services and basic relevant infrastructure.

Such a programme would have given hope to millions that a new Yemen is really possible, and would have persuaded many more to come out and demonstrate against the Huthis. It would have retained the energies of the thousands of youth activists from 2011, all hoping for a better life and participation in the country’s future. In recent days, increasingly serious demonstrations are taking place daily throughout the country opposing the Huthis, with many youth and women involved, something of a revival of the spirit of 2011; they are being repressed with beatings and shootings.

As of 24 January, the Huthis are keeping the President and other senior leaders under house arrest.  Formally, the successor to the President has to be the speaker of the Parliament, Yahia Ali al Ra’i, a firm Saleh loyalist who called for a meeting of Parliament for 25 January, a meeting which was then cancelled after southerners refused to attend; this meeting is necessary to accept or reject the President’s resignation. Negotiations are being held, presumably to persuade Hadi to withdraw his resignation. However keeping him incommunicado (his telecoms are monitored/controlled) is hardly likely to persuade him to withdraw it. Meanwhile, the alliance between Huthis and Saleh holds, but this is unlikely to last. Where the balance of power lies within this alliance will determine the future.

For detailed analysis of current developments in Yemen see Helen Lackner ed.  Why Yemen Matters, Saqi books 2014


[1]  The Islah party is a conglomerate of Hashed tribal supporters of the al Ahmar family, now led  mainly  by Sadek and Hamid on the one hand, and Salafi fundamentalists led by Abdul Majid Zindani

[2]  Hussein al Huthi was a member of the Parliament from 1993-97 and one of his brothers followed at the next election

[3]  Leaked to al Jazeera TV on  21 January 2015 though it took place last October

[4]  On Monday 19 January, the only day when there was armed resistance to the coup.

[5]  On 17 January as he was on his way to the formal presentation of the draft constitution to the relevant institution

Posted in Politics / World News | 4 Comments

Report: Ukrainian Oligarch Kolomoysky Robbed Rampantly

Eric Zuesse

The Frankfurter Algemeine Zeitung reported Thursday the 26th, that the Ukrainian oligarch Ihor Kolomoisky, whom Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko recently removed from control over Ukraine’s monopoly oil-transport firm and from being governor of a Ukrainian province, had been using his private army, augmented by forces from Dmitriy Yarosh’s Right Sector party, to rob other oligarchs, especially Ukraine’s richest one, Rinat Akhmetov. 

Akhmetov’s companies are mainly in eastern Ukraine, and so Akhmetov had been trying to avoid siding with either the post-coup Ukrainian government or the anti-coup residents of the far-eastern, and pro-Russian, Donbass region of Ukraine, who reject it. (That’s the dark-purple area shown on this voting map of the last Presidential election before the coup, where 90%+ of the residents had voted for Viktor Yanukovych — the man who was overthrown in the coup.) Akhmetov was thus vulnerable after the coup.

This news report, by FAZ’s Warsaw correspondent Konrad Schuller, says that Kolomoysky’s thugs had been using “psychological pressure,” “intimidation,” “physical force,” and “kidnappings,” in order to “extend their influence.” They were “going to build in eastern Ukraine’s combat zone a network of extortion and violence that would subject everyone there to kidnapping and robbery by Kolomojskij with the help of some of his leading battalion commanders.”

This article reports that, “In the center of it all there stood a man named K., a prominent and close associate of Kolomojskijs.” Earlier, the article says, “Kolomojskijs deputy as governor, Hennadij Korban, was preparing to organize demonstrations in his stronghold Dnipropetrovsk,” which is the region to which, after the coup, Kolomoysky had been appointed governor by Oleksandr Turchynov, who had been appointed by Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who had been appointed by Geoffrey Pyatt, at the instruction of Victoria Nuland, who had been appointed by Barack Obama. 

Kolomoysky, furthermore, himself appointed Joe Biden’s son Hunter Biden to the board of Kolomoysky’s own gas-exploration company. 

However, apparently, Kolomoysky, who had long been known for taking over companies by raiding them with his private army, has now become too much for Obama to take, and so Ukraine’s President Petro Poroshenko recently removed Kolomoysky from his posts. 

Back in June, Kolomoysky said publicly that he would not take instruction from President Poroshenko. But now that Obama has turned against Kolomoysky, Kolomoysky no longer has any effective political power-base in Ukraine, despite his billions and his private army and his backing from Yarosh’s Right Sector, which includes an even larger private army, very nazi. (In Ukraine, the nazis, or racist fascists, are haters of Russians, not necessarily also of Jews; Kolomoysky himself is Ukraine’s leading Jew — and he’s also a leading Ukrainian nazi.) Yarosh’s Right Sector troops, as well as Kolomoysky’s own mercenaries, have been the most effective of all of Ukraine’s forces at killing the residents of the rebelling region, Donbass. 

FAZ‘s reporter Schuller says that the Security Bureau of Ukraine (SBU) had found that Kolomoysky was planning to become Ukraine’s “final number one among the oligarchs of the country,” by stealing from Akhmetov and others.

Apparently, Obama has decided to let Poroshenko take over. The nazis, whose guns and muscle overthrew the previous president, Viktor Yanukovych, now know that Obama will no longer be beholden to them — he has had enough of them, and he expects everyone to line up now behind President Poroshenko.

There has been a contest in Ukraine as to whether the ethnic cleansing of Donbass, to get rid of its residents, would be taken over by the nazi forces or would remain under Poroshenko’s command. Evidently, it will remain under Poroshenko’s command.

On March 24th, U.S. Abrams tanks were photographed in Linz Austria on rail cars heading toward Ukraine. If that’s where they are going, then the Ukrainian government might have better weapons this time than they did in either of their previous two invasions of Donbass.

U.S. President Obama accuses Russia of arming the residents in Donbass. In his National Security Strategy 2015, he uses the word “aggression” 18 times, 17 of them referring to Russia.

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Secret History: Americans Supported and Inspired the Nazis

Unless We Learn Our History, We’re Doomed to Repeat It

Preface:  I am a patriotic American who loves  my country. I was born here, and lived here my entire life.

So why do I frequently point out America’s warts?  Because – as the Founding Fathers and Supreme Court judges have explained – we can only make America better if we honestly examine her shortcomings.  After all:

“Dissent is the highest form of patriotism.”

Only when Americans can honestly look at our weaknesses can we become stronger. If we fail to do so, history will repeat …

While Americans rightly condemn the Nazis as monstrous people, we don’t know that America played both sides … both fighting and supporting the Nazis.

Americans also aren’t aware that the Nazis were – in part – inspired by anti-Semites in America.

Backing Nazis

Large American banks – and George W. Bush’s grandfather – financed the Nazis.

American manufacturing companies were big supporters of the Nazis.   here are 6 historical examples …

(1) IBM.  CNET reports:

IBM has responded to questions about its relationship with the Nazis largely by characterizing the information as old news.

“The fact that Hollerith equipment manufactured by (IBM’s German unit) Dehomag was used by the Nazi administration has long been known and is not new information,” IBM representative Carol Makovich wrote in an e-mail interview. “This information was published in 1997 in the IEEE Annals of the History of Computing and in 1998 in Washington Jewish Week.”

***

IBM also defended Chairman Thomas Watson for his dealings with Hitler and his regime.

***

On September 13, 1939, The New York Times reports on Page 1 that 3 million Jews are going to be “immediately removed” from Poland, and they appear to be candidates for “physical extermination.” On September 9, the German managers of IBM Berlin send a letter to Thomas Watson with copy to staff in Geneva via phone that, due to the “situation,” they need high-speed alphabetizing equipment. IBM wanted no paper trail, so an oral agreement was made, passed from New York to Geneva to Berlin, and those alphabetizers were approved by Watson, personally, before the end of the month.

That month he also approved the opening of a new Europe-wide school for Hollerith technicians in Berlin. And at the same time he authorized a new German-based subsidiary in occupied Poland, with a printing plant across the street from the Warsaw Ghetto at 6 Rymarska Street. It produced some 15 million punch cards at that location, the major client of which was the railroad.

We have a similar example involving Romania in 1941, and The Sunday Times has actually placed the IBM documents up on their Web site…. When Nazi Germany went into France, IBM built two new factories to supply the Nazi war machine. This is the 1941-’42 era, in Vichy, France, which was technically neutral. When Germany invaded Holland in May 1940, IBM rushed a brand-new subsidiary into occupied Holland. And it even sent 132 million punch cards in 1941, mainly from New York, to support the Nazi activity there. Holland had the highest rate of Jewish extermination in all of Europe; 72 percent of Jews were killed in Holland, compared to 24 percent in France, where the machines did not operate successfully.

***

When Hitler came to power in 1933, his desire to destroy European Jewry was so ambitious an enterprise, it required the resources of a computer. But in 1933 no computer existed. What did exist was the Hollerith punch-card system. It was invented by a German-American in Buffalo, New York, for the Census Bureau. This punch-card system could store all the information about individuals, places, products, inventories, schedules, in the holes that were punched or not punched in columns and rows.

The Hollerith system reduced everything to number code. Over time, the IBM alphabetizers could convert this code to alphabetical information. IBM made constant improvements for their Nazi clients.

***

Our entry was of course precipitated by the bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7. Shortly before that, with sudden new trading-with-the-enemy regulations in force–this is October 1941–Watson issued a cable to all IBM’s European subsidiaries, saying in effect: “Don’t tell us what you’re doing and don’t ask us any questions.” He didn’t say, “Don’t send machines into concentration camps.” He didn’t say, “Stop organizing the military forces of Nazi Germany.” He didn’t say, “Don’t undertake anything to harm innocent civilians.”

***

He then bifurcated the management of IBM Europe–one manager in Geneva, named Werner Lier, and the other one in New York, in his office, named J.L. Schotte. So all communications went from Switzerland to New York. Ultimately there was a Hollerith Department called Hollerith Abteilung–German for department–in almost every concentration camp. Remember, the original Auschwitz tattoo was an IBM number.

***

IBM put the blitz in blitzkrieg. The whole war effort was organized on Hollerith machines from 1933 to 1945. This is when information technology comes to warfare. At the same time, IBM was supporting the entire German war machine directly from New York until the fall of 1941 ….

***

IBM did more than just sell equipment. Watson and IBM controlled the unique technical magic of Hollerith machines. They controlled the monopoly on the cards and the technology. And they were the ones that had to custom-design even the paper forms and punch cards–they were custom-designed for each specific purpose. That included everything form counting Jews to confiscating bank accounts, to coordinating trains going into death camps, to the extermination by labor campaign.

That’s why even the paper forms in the prisoner camps had Hollerith notations and numbered fields checked. They were all punched in. For example, IBM had to agree with their Nazi counterparts that Code 6 in the concentration camps was extermination. Code 1 was released, Code 2 was transferred, Code 3 was natural death, Code 4 was formal execution, Code 5 was suicide. Code 7 was escape. Code 6 was extermination.

All of the money and all the machines from all these operations was claimed by IBM as legitimate business after the war. The company used its connections with the State Department and the Pentagon to recover all the machines and all the bank accounts. They never said, “We do not want this blood money.” They wanted it all.

(2) Standard Oil.   The Nazi air force – the Luftwaffe – needed tetraethyl lead gas in order to get their planes off the ground. Standard Oil sold tetraethyl to the Nazis.

After WWII began, the English became angry about U.S. shipments of strategic materials to Nazi Germany. So Standard changed the registration of their entire fleet to Panamanian to avoid British search or seizure. These ships continued to carry oil to the Nazis.

(3) Ford.  Ford made cars for the Nazis.  Wikipedia notes:

Ford continued to do business with Nazi Germany, including the manufacture of war materiel.  Beginning in 1940, with the requisitioning of between 100 and 200 French POWs to work as slave laborers, Ford-Werke contravened Article 31 of the 1929 Geneva Convention.  At that time, which was before the U.S. entered the War and still had full diplomatic relations with Nazi Germany, Ford-Werke was under the control of the Ford Motor Company. The number of slave laborers grew as the war expanded ….

(And see discussion under GM, below.)

Wikipedia also points out that Henry Ford was one of the world’s biggest anti-Semites … inspiring Hitler, Himmler and other high-level Nazis:

In Germany, Ford’s anti-Semitic articles from The Dearborn Independent were issued in four volumes, cumulatively titled The International Jew, the World’s Foremost Problem published by Theodor Fritsch, founder of several anti-Semitic parties and a member of the Reichstag. In a letter written in 1924, Heinrich Himmler described Ford as “one of our most valuable, important, and witty fighters.” Ford is the only American mentioned in Mein Kampf.  Adolf Hitler wrote, “only a single great man, Ford, [who], to [the Jews’] fury, still maintains full independence…[from] the controlling masters of the producers in a nation of one hundred and twenty millions.” Speaking in 1931 to a Detroit News reporter, Hitler said he regarded Ford as his “inspiration,” explaining his reason for keeping Ford’s life-size portrait next to his desk. Steven Watts wrote that Hitler “revered” Ford, proclaiming that “I shall do my best to put his theories into practice in Germany,” and modeling the Volkswagen, the people’s car, on the Model T.
Grand Cross of the German Eagle, an award bestowed on Ford by Nazi Germany

***

James D. Mooney, vice-president of overseas operations for General Motors, received a similar medal, the Merit Cross of the German Eagle, First Class.

***

Testifying at Nuremberg, convicted Hitler Youth leader Baldur von Schirach who, in his role as military governor of Vienna deported 65,000 Jews to camps in Poland, stated,

The decisive anti-Semitic book I was reading and the book that influenced my comrades was … that book by Henry Ford, “The International Jew.” I read it and became anti-Semitic. The book made a great influence on myself and my friends because we saw in Henry Ford the representative of success and also the representative of a progressive social policy.

(4) GM.  The Washington Post reports:

“General Motors was far more important to the Nazi war machine than Switzerland,” said Bradford Snell, who has spent two decades researching a history of the world’s largest automaker. “Switzerland was just a repository of looted funds. GM was an integral part of the German war effort. The Nazis could have invaded Poland and Russia without Switzerland. They could not have done so without GM.”

Both General Motors and Ford insist that they bear little or no responsibility for the operations of their German subsidiaries, which controlled 70 percent of the German car market at the outbreak of war in 1939 and rapidly retooled themselves to become suppliers of war materiel to the German army.

But documents discovered in German and American archives show a much more complicated picture. In certain instances, American managers of both GM and Ford went along with the conversion of their German plants to military production at a time when U.S. government documents show they were still resisting calls by the Roosevelt administration to step up military production in their plants at home.

***

When American GIs invaded Europe in June 1944, they did so in jeeps, trucks and tanks manufactured by the Big Three motor companies in one of the largest crash militarization programs ever undertaken. It came as an unpleasant surprise to discover that the enemy was also driving trucks manufactured by Ford and Opel — a 100 percent GM-owned subsidiary — and flying Opel-built warplanes ….

***

The relationship of Ford and GM to the Nazi regime goes back to the 1920s and 1930s, when the American car companies competed against each other for access to the lucrative German market.

***

In 1935, GM agreed to build a new plant near Berlin to produce the aptly named “Blitz” truck, which would later be used by the German army for its blitzkreig attacks on Poland, France and the Soviet Union. German Ford was the second-largest producer of trucks for the German army after GM/Opel, according to U.S. Army reports.

The importance of the American automakers went beyond making trucks for the German army. The Schneider report, now available to researchers at the National Archives, states that American Ford agreed to a complicated barter deal that gave the Reich increased access to large quantities of strategic raw materials, notably rubber. Author Snell says that Nazi armaments chief Albert Speer told him in 1977 that Hitler “would never have considered invading Poland” without synthetic fuel technology provided by General Motors.

As war approached, it became increasingly difficult for U.S. corporations like GM and Ford to operate in Germany without cooperating closely with the Nazi rearmament effort. Under intense pressure from Berlin, both companies took pains to make their subsidiaries appear as “German” as possible. In April 1939, for example, German Ford made a personal present to Hitler of 35,000 Reichsmarks in honor of his 50th birthday, according to a captured Nazi document.

Documents show that the parent companies followed a conscious strategy of continuing to do business with the Nazi regime, rather than divest themselves of their German assets. Less than three weeks after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939, GM Chairman Alfred P. Sloan defended this strategy as sound business practice, given the fact that the company’s German operations were “highly profitable.”

***

After the outbreak of war in September 1939, General Motors and Ford became crucial to the German military, according to contemporaneous German documents and postwar investigations by the U.S. Army. James Mooney, the GM director in charge of overseas operations, had discussions with Hitler in Berlin two weeks after the German invasion of Poland.

Typewritten notes by Mooney show that he was involved in the partial conversion of the principal GM automobile plant at Russelsheim to production of engines and other parts for the Junker “Wunderbomber,” a key weapon in the German air force, under a government-brokered contract between Opel and the Junker airplane company. Mooney’s notes show that he returned to Germany the following February for further discussions with Luftwaffe commander Hermann Goering and a personal inspection of the Russelsheim plant.

Mooney’s involvement in the conversion of the Russelsheim plant undermines claims by General Motors that the American branch of the company had nothing to do with the Nazi rearmament effort.

***

At GM and Ford plants in Germany, reliance on forced labor [from concentration camp inmates] increased.

***

In a court submission, American Ford acknowledges that Iwanowa and others were “forced to endure a sad and terrible experience” at its Cologne plant ….

Ford has backed away from its initial claim that it did not profit in any way from forced labor at its Cologne plant.

***

Mel Weiss, an American attorney for Iwanowa, argues that American Ford received “indirect” profits from forced labor at its Cologne plant because of the overall increase in the value of German operations during the war. He notes that Ford was eager to demand compensation from the U.S. government after the war for “losses” due to bomb damage to its German plants and therefore should also be responsible for any benefits derived from forced labor.

Similar arguments apply to General Motors, which was paid $32 million by the U.S. government for damages sustained to its German plants.

(5)  Kodak. During World War Two, Kodak’s German branch also used slave laborers from concentration camps. Several of their other European branches did heavy business with the Nazi government.

And Wilhelm Keppler – one of Hitler’s top economic advisers – had deep ties in Kodak. When Nazism began, Keppler advised Kodak and several other U.S. companies that they’d benefit by firing all of their Jewish employees.

(6) Coca Cola. Coke made soda for the Nazis.  Fanta was specifically invented for Nazi-era Germans.

Leading American financiers Rockefeller, Carnegie and Harriman also funded Nazi eugenics programs.

And the U.S. government actively backed the Nazis in Ukraine 70 years ago.

Inspired By America

As noted above, Hitler and his top henchmen were inspired by Henry Ford’s writings.

The American author Lothrop Stoddard was the source of the concept of “under-man (sub-human)” adopted by the Nazis in regards to Jews and communists.

According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the idea of killing Jews, communists and gypsies in gas chambers originated in the U.S.not Germany.

And Nazis were also apparently inspired by America’s treatment of Native Americans.   Specifically, retired Major in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps, Todd E. Pierce – who researched and reviewed the complete records of military commissions held during the Civil War and stored at the National Archives in Washington, D.C. as part of his assignment in the Office of Chief Defense Counsel, Office of Military Commissions – notes:

Stories of the American conquest of Native Americans with its solution of placing them on reservations were particularly popular in Germany early in the Twentieth Century including with Adolf Hitler.

Finally, the Nazis copied American propaganda techniques.

Postscript: After WWII, America imported and protected many high-level Nazi scientists and spies, and put them into prominent positions within the U.S.

And many allege that we’re supporting neo-Nazis in Ukraine.

Posted in Politics / World News | 11 Comments

How Can We Tell If People Are Posting Bad Things In Different Languages?

People post comments in foreign languages we can’t read: Arabic, Mandarin, Japanese, etc.   (Even our French and Spanish is rusty … and we never learned any languages which use non-Western characters.)

We don’t know whether they are making thoughtful, appropriate comments … or defaming people, inciting violence or doing something else illegal.

Can people who read these languages tell us if commenters are posting something inappropriate?

How do other websites deal with this issue?

Posted in General | 3 Comments

U.S. Pays Most for Healthcare of Any Industrialized Nation … But Ranks Worst for Healthcare

According to Some Metrics …

The Commonwealth Fund reported last year:

The United States health care system is the most expensive in the world, but this report and prior editions consistently show the U.S. underperforms relative to other countries on most dimensions of performance. Among the 11 nations studied in this report—Australia, Canada, France, Germany, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, Sweden, Switzerland, the United Kingdom, and the United States—the U.S. ranks last, as it did in the 2010, 2007, 2006, and 2004 editions of Mirror, Mirror. Most troubling, the U.S. fails to achieve better health outcomes than the other countries, and as shown in the earlier editions, the U.S. is last or near last on dimensions of access, efficiency, and equity. In this edition of Mirror, Mirror, the United Kingdom ranks first, followed closely by Switzerland

While UK residents averaged $3,405 per year on healthcare costs (the second-lowest, trailing only New Zealand), Americans paid $8,508 per year. And yet Commonwealth ranked the UK as number 1 for healthcare, and the U.S. dead last … 11th out of 11 industrialized nations.

Of course, Commonwealth’s main complaints with U.S. healthcare are access, efficiency and equity:

  Overall health care ranking

In other words, America’s extreme inequality – and lack of socialized medicine – means that healthcare is only good for those who have enough cash to pay for it.

Posted in Business / Economics, Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 5 Comments

UPDATED: 50 Abrams Tanks Appear to Have Been Sent to Ukraine

Eric Zuesse

Alarms are being raised both on the right and the left in Austria against what appears to be a stealth move by Obama to send what are clearly attack-weapons (called “Bradley Tanks” but actually they look like Abrams tanks) to what appears to be a likely destination in Ukraine, for what seems to be a planned re-invasion by the U.S.-backed Ukrainian forces into the Donbass region of the former Ukraine.

Here the same photo that was shown before from rightist sites is shown on the leftist site www.facebook.com/OccupyWien:

Screen Shot 2015-03-27 at 2.01.31 PM

Supposedly, this train’s next stop was to be in the Czech Republic.

Below is my earlier report on this, which was based on the alarms that were raised by Austria’s conservatives against this move by Obama:

Apparently, Obama, though he says he hasn’t made up his mind about whether to send weapons to Ukraine, actually has and is. He now seems to be quietly trashing the spirit though no provision in the Minsk II truce that was arranged by Merkel, Hollande, Putin, and Poroshenko, and signed by the OSCE, Russia, Ukraine, and both of the rebelling former parts of Ukraine, the Donetsk People’s Republic and the Lugansk People’s Republic. Obama now appears to be sending heavy weapons to Ukraine, and thus assisting Ukraine to resume attacking the DPR & LPR.

Even conservative Europeans are expressing outrage (as shown below). Followers of Italy’s Sylvio Berlusconi, and even the leader of Austria’s anti-immigrant “Freedom Party,” are shocked and appalled by this Obama action.

Heinz-Christian Strache, leader of Austria’s Freedom Party, posted online a photo alleged to be of Bradley tanks now on rail-cars in Linz Austria en-route to Ukraine; he estimated 50 of them. 

Then, Berlusconi’s Milan newspaper Il Giornale posted this article on Wednesday March 25th:

—-

Sighted in Austria, American tanks: “I direct in Ukraine”

Here are the photos that show the first American tanks traveling to Ukraine

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 7.03.29 PM

Andrea Riva – Wed, 25/03/2015 – 14:52

comments

Since the time when America first mentioned the possibility of sending armored vehicles to Ukraine, now seems to be the time passing from words to deeds.

The leader of the Austrian Freedom Party, Heinz-Christian Strache, has posted on Facebook photos showing the first American tanks (approximately 50) traveling to Ukraine.

Strache thinks these are Bradley tanks [NOTE from Eric Zuesse: Actually, these look to me more like Abrams tanks], entering Austria [from Germany] through Linz. If this interpretation is true, then America would be starting to break, at least formally, the agreements signed by Ukraine and Russia in Minsk.

——

Here are typical comments at that conservative Italian newspaper online:

COMMENTS

—Pelmo76

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 14:47

If it is the beginning of the end ..

—peter46

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 14:47

Europe still America … who the hell do they think is Russia? A South American dictatorship (although in some parts of the ‘sticks’ to have also received) or any Saddam or Gaddafi any? Sure to leave rot ‘atomic’ after all the ‘investments’ for them?

—Kosimo

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 15:22

On which side is the European ruling class?

—El_kun

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 15:34

Americans have not lost time … only two days ago, the Congress approved the sending of personnel and equipment in Ukraine. Sooner or later Putin will react in front of yet another massacre of pro-Russians (it will be closely hidden by the European media). Damn Americans, are taking us to war without europe saying a single word. damn Italy’s government stooges.

—mister_B

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 15:46

Ukraine has the right to defend its sovereignty and freedom against the Russian invasion. For this it asked for help from Europe and the US.

—paco51

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 15:47

American politicians are a plague! obama especially!

—Svevus

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 16:05

The US and its servants of the ‘eurozone have failed after 15 years to tame a country primitive gardeners (opium) and shepherds of the mountain as the’ Afghanistan. Do they think they have the upper hand over those who have three thousand intercontinental missiles with atomic bombs, an ‘army of two million combatants determined, and millions of people in Europe are ready to boycott anyway everything stinks of American rule?

—giovaneitalia

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 16:24

After all the c @ zz @ te that America has done over the years and attacking without cause different nations, now meddles in other affairs that do not concern them. Sooner or later these arrogant ones will take beatings on the ears.

—tormalinaner

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 16:33

Obama is the devil and wants to destroy everything in a third world war. Political Europe assists passively to the end.

—mariolino50

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 16:56

libertà73 Too bad he is at 10000km and instead we are here, they think that Russia is Libya or Iraq.

—Alsikar.il.Maledetto

Wed, 25/03/2015 – 16:57

If so, only armored vehicles (even if some of the best armor in the world) are not enough for Ukraine groped to stop an invasion of the second strongest army in the world. But Americans know what they do. Definitely will send soon in Ukraine even missiles and fighter-bombers (in addition to the aircraft carrier in the Black Sea). Obviously, this attitude will be interpreted by the Russians as an attempt at aggression against them. At that point there will have little importance for reason and will start the Third World War. Five hundred million lives gone will make survivors think. 

———-

Investigative historian Eric Zuesse is the author, most recently, of  They’re Not Even Close: The Democratic vs. Republican Economic Records, 1910-2010, and of CHRIST’S VENTRILOQUISTS: The Event that Created Christianity, and of Feudalism, Fascism, Libertarianism and Economics.

Posted in Business / Economics, Energy / Environment, General, Politics / World News | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Government Report Finds DEA Agents Had “Sex Parties” With Prostitutes Hired By Drug Cartels

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

Screen Shot 2015-03-26 at 10.57.06 AM

Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds. A foreign officer also alleged providing protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties, the report said. The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs [special agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.

* A deputy U.S. Marshal “entered into a romantic relationship” with a fugitive’s spouse and would not break off the relationship for more than a year, even after being told by supervisors to end it.

* An ATF “Director of Industry Operations” had “solicited consensual sex with anonymous partners and modified a hotel room door to facilitate sexual play.” The ATF employee even disabled a hotel’s fire detection system, and when caught by the hotel, said he had done it before.

– From the Politico article: DEA Agents Had ‘Sex Parties’ with Prostitutes, Watchdog Says

There’s no agency in government more vehemently opposed to ending the immoral and counterproductive “war on drugs” than the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA). Now we know why.

From Politico:

Agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration reportedly had “sex parties” with prostitutes hired by drug cartels in Colombia, according to a new inspector general report released by the Justice Department on Thursday.

In addition, Colombian police officers allegedly provided “protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report states. Ten DEA agents later admitted attending the parties, and some of the agents received suspensions of two to 10 days.

Suspensions of two to ten days. That’ll teach ‘em.

The Oversight panel is also investigating allegations into the Secret Service that agents there hired prostitutes in Colombia while advancing a trip for President Barack Obama.

Moreover,the report states that DEA, ATF and the Marshals Service repeatedly failed to report all risky or improper sexual behavior to security personnel at those agencies.

“The foreign officer allegedly arranged ‘sex parties’ with prostitutes funded by the local drug cartels for these DEA agents at their government-leased quarters, over a period of several years,” the IG report says.

“Although some of the DEA agents participating in these parties denied it, the information in the case file suggested they should have known the prostitutes in attendance were paid with cartel funds. A foreign officer also alleged providing protection for the DEA agents’ weapons and property during the parties,” the report said. “The foreign officers further alleged that in addition to soliciting prostitutes, three DEA SSAs [special agents] in particular were provided money, expensive gifts, and weapons from drug cartel members.”

The IG’s office asserts that DEA officials did not fully comply with their requests for information during the probe.

* A deputy U.S. Marshal “entered into a romantic relationship” with a fugitive’s spouse and would not break off the relationship for more than a year, even after being told by supervisors to end it;

* An ATF “Director of Industry Operations” had “solicited consensual sex with anonymous partners and modified a hotel room door to facilitate sexual play.” The ATF employee even disabled a hotel’s fire detection system, and when caught by the hotel, said he had done it before;

While these agents will almost undoubtedly receive no real punishment, perhaps some good will come from this: End the idiotic war on drugs.

Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Can Anne Hathaway Help End the Mindset That Creates Wars?

“If others have their will Ann hath a way. By cock, she was to blame. She put the comether on him, sweet and twentysix. The greyeyed goddess who bends over the boy Adonis, stooping to conquer, as prologue to the swelling act, is a boldfaced Stratford wench who tumbles in a cornfield a lover younger than herself.” —James Joyce

Can it matter that a famous actress will play a drone pilot on stage in New York and play it as a troubled murderer with an updated effort to wash out the damn spot of blood on her famous hands?

With permanent war declared the norm and entirely acceptable, only a generation removed from wisdom and understanding, hadn’t we better hope so?

April 7 to May 17, Anne Hathaway stars in Grounded. I’ve read the script, or at least an earlier version of the script, and believe this could make the difference that’s needed.

Of course this other movie about a troubled drone pilot has come and gone.

Real life troubled drone pilots have tried to be heard.

The patterns of stress and suicide have been documented. Moral injury and post-traumatic stress plague the desk-bound flight-suited pilots at Creech Air Force Base where the commander told a reporter he was surprised by and unable to meet the demand for counselors and chaplains.

One proposed solution is allowing a drone pilot to instruct a computerized personality, like Siri in iPhones, to do the killing for him or her. A better solution might be to deprive President Obama of that trick. When he goes through his Tuesday list of men, women, and children and picks which ones to have murdered, he doesn’t have to do the murdering. Presidents spend countless hours visiting all kinds of workplaces and taking part in all variety of ceremonies; why not require that they take a brief shift at the drone joystick when the victim has been spotted and fire the missile themselves, and watch the body parts scatter themselves, and see the little children who were in the wrong place blown to bits themselves, and feel the sweat and the guilt themselves?

Perhaps the next best thing will be seeing a celebrity, whom people imagine they know, play the role of drone pilot on stage. Anne Hathaway has acted in many films and plays but is familiar even to people who’ve seen none of them. Seeing her in Grounded has the potential to cause people to engage in the activity that seems the absolute hardest to provoke, namely thinking.

Grounded won’t give you the statistics on how most of the people murdered with drones are no threat to the United States at all, or how drone murders are producing more enemies than they kill, or how the idea that a drone war on Yemen is better than another kind of war falls apart when you realize that the drone war replaced no war at all and has now predictably generated a ground war as, in fact, some of us predicted it would.

Grounded won’t tell you that most drone victims are traumatized by the constant threat of instant death with no possible defense. But it will show us what that godlike power does to those who use it. The problem with drone murders is not the distance or the lack of bravery and risk; the problem is the murdering of people. Drone pilots see their victims in new ways, via video, and see them for days or weeks before murdering them.

The transition from mass-murderer to civilian living peacefully in a society that forbids murder must happen every single day for a drone pilot who drives home to sleep. One can imagine how disorienting the shift must be. It should become equally jarring for those of us who live peaceful lives and then read about the latest murders in our names by distant flying robot death machines.

Here’s one way to help if you’re anywhere near New York: attend the play and while you’re there, collect signatures on this petition: BanWeaponizedDrones.org.

Posted in General | 4 Comments

Government Secrecy At All-Time High

The Sunlight is Fading … and America Is Falling Into Darkness

US Supreme Court Justice Brandeis said:

Publicity is justly commended as a remedy for social and industrial diseases. Sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants; electric light the most efficient policeman.

But there’s no longer much sunlight to disinfect the corruption of the government or the powers-that-be.

More and more commonly, the government prosecutes cases based upon “secret evidence” that they don’t show to the defendant … or sometimes even the judge hearing the case.

As just one example, government is “laundering” information gained through mass surveillance through other agencies, with an agreement that the agencies will “recreate” the evidence in a “parallel construction” … so the original source of the evidence is kept secret from the defendant, defense attorneys and the judge.   A former top NSA official says that this is the opposite of following the Fourth Amendment, but is a “totalitarian process” which shows that we’re in a “police state”.

The government uses “secret evidence” to spy on Americans, prosecute leaking or terrorism charges (even against U.S. soldiers) and even assassinate people. And see this and this.

Secret witnesses are being used in some cases. And sometimes lawyers are being prevented from reading their own briefs.

Indeed, even the laws themselves are now starting to be kept secret. And it’s about to get a lot worse.

American citizens are also being detained in Guantanamo-like conditions in Chicago … including being held in secret, with the government refusing to tell a suspect’s lawyer whether his client is being held.   And see this, this and this.

The Department of Defense has also made it a secret – even from Congress – as to the identity of the main enemies of the United States.

Today, Glenn Greenwald adds yet another twist to the trend towards secrecy:

A truly stunning debasement of the U.S. justice system just occurred through the joint efforts of the Obama Justice Department and a meek and frightened Obama-appointed federal judge, Edgardo Ramos, all in order to protect an extremist neocon front group from scrutiny and accountability. The details are crucial for understanding the magnitude of the abuse here.

At the center of it is an anti-Iranian group calling itself “United Against Nuclear Iran” (UANI), which is very likely a front for some combination of the Israeli and U.S. intelligence services. When launched, NBC described its mission as waging “economic and psychological warfare” against Iran. The group was founded and is run and guided by a roster of U.S., Israeli and British neocon extremists such as Joe Lieberman, former Bush Homeland Security adviser (and current CNN “analyst”) Fran Townsend, former CIA Director James Woolsey, and former Mossad Director Meir Dagan. One of its key advisers is Olli Heinonen, who just co-authored Washington Post Op-Ed with former Bush CIA/NSA Director Michael Hayden arguing that Washington is being too soft on Tehran.

This group of neocon extremists was literally just immunized by a federal court from the rule of law. That was based on the claim — advocated by the Obama DOJ and accepted by Judge Ramos — that subjecting them to litigation for their actions would risk disclosure of vital “state secrets.” The court’s ruling was based on assertions made through completely secret proceedings between the court and the U.S. government, with everyone else — including the lawyers for the parties — kept in the dark.

In May 2013, UANI launched a “name and shame” campaign designed to publicly identify — and malign — any individuals or entities enabling trade with Iran. One of the accused was the shipping company of Greek billionaire Victor Restis, who vehemently denies the accusation. He hired an American law firm and sued UANI for defamation in a New York federal court, claiming the “name and shame” campaign destroyed his reputation.

Up until that point, there was nothing unusual about any of this: just a garden-variety defamation case brought in court by someone who claims that public statements made about him are damaging and false. That happens every day. But then something quite extraordinary happened: In September of last year, the U.S. government, which was not a party, formally intervened in the lawsuit, and demanded that the court refuse to hear Restis’s claims and instead dismiss the lawsuit against UANI before it could even start, on the ground that allowing the case to proceed would damage national security.

When the DOJ intervened in this case and asserted the “state secrets privilege,” it confounded almost everyone. The New York Times’s Matt Apuzzo noted at the time that “the group is not affiliated with the government, and lists no government contracts on its tax forms. The government has cited no precedent for using the so­-called state­ secrets privilege to quash a private lawsuit that does not focus on government activity.” He quoted the ACLU’s Ben Wizner as saying: “I have never seen anything like this.” Reuters’s Allison Frankel labeled the DOJ’s involvement a “mystery” and said “the government’s brief is maddeningly opaque about its interest in a private libel case.”

Usually, when the U.S. government asserts the “state secrets privilege,” it is because they are a party to the lawsuit, being sued for their own allegedly illegal acts (such as torture or warrantless surveillance), and they claim that national security would be harmed if they are forced to defend themselves. In rare cases, they do intervene and assert the privilege in lawsuits between private parties, but only where the subject of the litigation is a government program and one of the parties is a government contractor involved in that program — such as when torture victims sued a Boeing subsidiary, Jeppesen, for its role in providing airplanes for the rendition program and the Obama DOJ insisted (successfully) that the case not go forward, and the victim of U.S. torture was thus told that he could not even have a day in court.

But in this case, there is no apparent U.S. government conduct at issue in the lawsuit. At least based on what they claim about themselves, UANI is just “a not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group” that seeks to “educate” the public about the dangers of Iran’s nuclear program. Why would such a group like this even possess “state secrets”? It would be illegal to give them such material. Or could it be that the CIA or some other U.S. government agency has created and controls the group, which would be a form of government-disseminated propaganda, which happens to be illegal?

What else could explain the basis for the U.S. government’s argument that allowing UANI to be sued would risk the disclosure of vital “state secrets” besides a desire to cover up something quite untoward if not illegal? What “state secrets” could possibly be disclosed by suing a nice, little “not-for-profit, non-partisan, advocacy group”?

We don’t know the answers to those questions, nor do the lawyers for the plaintiffs whose lawsuit the DOJ wants dismissed. That’s because, beyond the bizarre DOJ intervention itself, the extreme secrecy that shaped the judicial proceedings is hard to overstate. Usually, when the U.S. government asserts the “state secrets privilege,” at least some information is made public about what they are claiming: which official or department is invoking the privilege, the general nature of the secrets allegedly at risk, the reasons why allowing the claims to be adjudicated would risk disclosure, etc. Some redacted version of the affidavit from the government official making the secrecy claim is made part of the case.

Here, virtually everything has been hidden, even from the plaintiffs’ lawyers. Not only did the U.S. government provide no clue as to what the supposedly endangered “state secrets” are, but they concealed even the identity of the agency making the claim: was it the CIA, the Treasury Department, the State Department, some combination? Nothing is known about any of this, not even who is making the secrecy claim.

Instead, the DOJ’s arguments about why “secrecy” compels dismissal of the entire lawsuit were made in a brief that only Judge Ramos (and not even the parties) gets to read, but even more amazingly, were elaborated on in secret meetings by DOJ lawyers in the judge’s chambers with nobody else present. Were recordings or transcripts of these meetings made? Is there any record of what the U.S. government whispered in the ear of the judge to scare him into believing that National Security Would Be Harmed™ if he allowed the case to proceed? Nobody knows. The whole process is veiled in total secrecy, labeled a “judicial proceeding” but containing none of the transparency, safeguards or adversarial process that characterizes minimally fair courts.

This sham worked. This week, Judge Ramos issued his ruling dismissing the entire lawsuit (see below). As a result of the DOJ’s protection, UANI cannot be sued. Among other things, it means this group of neocon extremists now has a license to defame anyone they want. They can destroy your reputation with false accusations in a highly public campaign, and when you sue them for it, the DOJ will come in and whisper in the judge’s ear that national security will be damaged if — like everyone else in the world — UANI must answer in a court of law for their conduct. And subservient judicial officials like Judge Ramos will obey the U.S. government’s dictates and dismiss your lawsuit before it begins, without your having any idea why that even happened.

Worse, in his written ruling, the judge expressly acknowledges that dismissal of the entire lawsuit at the start on secrecy grounds is what he calls a “harsh sanction,” and also acknowledges that “it is particularly so in this case because Plaintiffs not only do not get their day in court, but cannot be told why” (emphasis added). But he does it anyway, in a perfunctory 18-page opinion that does little other than re-state some basic legal principles, and then just concludes that everything the government whispered in his ear should be accepted. Just read for yourself what Judge Ramos said in defending his dismissal to see how wildly disparate it is from everything we’re propagandized to believe about the U.S. justice system:

What kind of “justice system” allows a neocon “advocacy” group to be immunized from the law, because the U.S. government waltzed into court, met privately with the judge, and whispered in secret that he had better dismiss all claims against that group lest he harm national security? To describe what happened here is to illustrate what a perverse travesty it is. Restis’s lawyer, Abbe Lowell, said in a statement this week:

We are disappointed that some secret relationship between UANI and the government allows UANI to hide from disclosing that association or to defend what has now been proven to be its false and defamatory allegations directed at Mr. Restis and his company. We are mystified that the U.S. government has such a stake in this case that it would take such extraordinary steps to prevent full disclosure of the secret interest it has with UANI or others. And, we are concerned that, in our court system, such a result could occur on the basis of sealed, one-sided filings and meetings in which we were not allowed to participate.

Indeed, the government is going to incredible lengths to keep secrets, including:

  • Treating reporters like terrorists. And see this
  • Prosecuting and demanding draconian jail sentences for whistleblowers
  • Framing whistleblowers with false evidence

Sadly, the sunlight is fading … and America is falling into darkness.

Postscript: On “Freedom of Information Day” – in the middle of “Sunshine Week” – the Obama administration announced that White House emails are not subject to freedom of information requests, and urged that a whole new category of information be kept secret from the American people.

Orwell would be proud.

Posted in Politics / World News | 11 Comments