Ukraine’s Government Is Losing Its War. Here Is Why:

Eric Zuesse

On January 27th, Ukraine’s Ministry of Defense headlined “Militants Continue to Suffer Losses,” and reported that four helicopters, and other weapons of the “militants,” were destroyed in battle, but no evidence was given to support the assertion.

Just two days prior, the (also pro-Government) Kiev Post had, in fact, bannered “Ukraine Hides Devastating Losses as Russia-Backed Fighters Surge Forward,” and reported “Ukraine’s worst-kept secret — that the Ukrainian army is drastically understating its casualties.” After detailing, there, what seems to be outrageous unconcern by the Government, for the welfare of troops it’s sending into battle (even by jamming battlefield-injured soldiers into regular civilian hospitals, which aren’t equipped to handle their injuries), this report ends with a doctor saying, “It’s bad everywhere. Yes, the soldiers are still standing at their positions ready to fight. But we don’t see any help coming for them.”

The Ukrainian news agency RIAN headlined on January 26th, “Mobilization in Dnipropetrovsk Almost Drowned,” and reported, “In Dnipropetrovsk region [which is run by the U.S. White House’s friend, the Ukrainian-Swiss-Israeli billionaire Ihor Kolomoysky, whose longstanding personal mercenary army has, alone, more than 5,000 fighters], thousands of men are hiding from the draft. Enforcement officers recognize that accomplishing their task will be very difficult.” More than 2,000 people there who were drafted “did not show up, they evaporated.”

Consequently, the Government is dragooning-in, or “ambushing” (as the article says), virtually anyone who seeks help from the Government, “mobilizing the unemployed” and other “desperate” people. “Military enlistment offices complain” that some draftees are too sick to be able to fight at all.

Also on January 26th, the Fort Russ blog bannered, “Azov Commander Freaks Out, Calls the War ‘Lost’. Blames Everybody,” and reported that, “Ukrainian politicians and generals ‘already lost the war,’ and ‘the West did not help.’ That’s the core of the statement by Azov punitive [meaning: to ‘punish’ the residents in the anti-Government region, for their not supporting the Government] battalion commander’s, and currently also Rada [Parliament] Deputy’s, Andrey Biletsky, in his ‘Address to the Nation.’” According to Biletsky, after the fictitious “thousands of supposedly killed enemies and burned out tanks, the wake-up can be very painful,” because of disappointment felt from the Government’s lies.

RIAN news headlined on January 27th, “The Situation at the Front and Riots Against the Mobilization,” and Andrew Vajra, of the news-site “Alternative,” quoted Biletsky there, as saying, “We were not prepared for the current confrontation.”

Whereas Ukrainian conscript soldiers are not eager to risk their lives in order to impose the current Ukrainian Government (which had resulted from Obama’s coup in Ukraine in February 2014), upon the residents in Ukraine’s Donbass region, which had voted 90% for the man whom Obama overthrew, the residents who still survive there are very eager not to allow this new regime to kill them; and, so, the motivation on the part of the people whom Obama’s forces are trying to kill, is vastly higher than is the motivation on the part of conscript troops, from the rest of Ukraine, to kill them. The only troops who are that eager to kill them are supporters of Ukraine’s two nazi (or racist-fascist) parties, the “Freedom” (renamed by the CIA from their former “Social Nationalist”) and the Right Sector, Parties. Those parties have always gotten only a small percentage of the popular vote in Ukraine, though Obama’s people have placed them into power. Once in power, they passed laws to lock-in that power.

The Ukrainian Government’s problem is that there just aren’t enough nazis, and there’s also not enough money, to do the amounts of killing that need to be done in order to enable Obama’s Ukrainian regime to retain the land in Donbass while eliminating the people there. The 90% of those people who had voted for the man (Viktor Yanukovych) whom Obama overthrew are far more numerous, and far more motivated, than are the vast majority of Ukraine’s soldiers.

America’s and Ukraine’s oligarchs cannot come up with the money to finish the job, but Obama’s big financial backer George Soros is now globetrotting in order to convince taxpayers throughout the West to provide the money to finish it, and the amount he’s coming up with as being necessary for the job is between twenty and fifty billion dollars. His entreaties appear to be falling upon deaf ears.

And that’s the real reason why Obama’s war in Ukraine is failing: there’s just not enough blood-lust for the task, either in Ukraine, or in “the West.”

There aren’t enough nazis, in either area. Obama had over-reached, when he overthrew Ukraine’s democratically elected President, Viktor Yanukovych, in February 2014. Either he’ll have to yield-up the land in Donbass, or else he’ll have to yield-up the anti-Russian Government that he has imposed upon Ukraine. It’s one or the other, and he’ll have to choose which.

Either outcome will be embarrassing for him. But perhaps it won’t be quite as embarrassing for him as was his predecessor’s embarrassment regarding the Iraq War. (Of course, Republicans would be in their glory then, by saying “Obama lost Ukraine,” even though it was actually Obama who had seized Ukraine, to begin with — and Republicans would never criticize a President for doing a thing like that: it’s the sort of thing that Republicans are expected to do.)

On the other hand, it might turn out to be even more embarrassing than that for Obama, if he should happen to decide to go all the way here, and to push on for a nuclear war against Russia.

As regards the Ukrainian Government itself, they were placed into power by Obama’s action of coup, followed by this Ukrainian Government’s actions removing the Donbass residents from their electorate; and, so, the current members of the Rada, and of the Ukrainian Administration, cannot blame Obama; they are instead blaming Vladimir Putin and Russia — the country that Obama (like George Soros and so many other American aristocrats) hates, and that not merely the people whom Obama placed into power in Ukraine hate. Thus, on Wednesday, January 28th, RIAN news headlined, “Full Text of the Appeal for Recognition of Russia as Aggressor,” and they reported:

“The Verkhovna Rada made ​​public the full text of Resolution number 1854 on appeal to the United Nations, the European Parliament, the Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe, NATO Parliamentary Assembly, the Parliamentary Assembly of the OSCE, GUAM Parliamentary Assembly, and the national parliaments of the countries in the world, to recognize the Russian Federation as the aggressor state.”

Furthermore, German Economic News reported that this action by the Rada had been passed by “271 of 289 deputies present,” and that it could “have international legal consequences.” GEN’s report also said that Ukraine’s leaders claim they now “urgently need new loans” from the EU, because, otherwise, Ukraine’s existing loans will go into default. The reader-comments to that news-report at GEN’s website seem to be negative on that request, and to be far more inclined to view Ukraine’s Government as nazi than as Ukraine’s being the victim of Russia or any other country, and least of all as being a victim of the EU’s own taxpayers, who have already given plenty to the Ukrainian Government, and who would become the people bearing the burden of those new ‘loans,’ which would be going to the very back of Ukraine’s long line of creditors, if Ukraine goes bankrupt, as is widely expected soon to happen. In other words: there would seem to be little public support in Germany, for giving Ukraine yet more money. If the EU’s leaders do decide to comply with Ukraine’s urgent request, then the EU will have even less public support in Germany than it currently does. The EU is therefore likely to turn down the request, so as not to place even further into jeopardy the EU’s own continued existence.

And, obviously, unless Ukraine gets the further ‘loans’ to prosecute its war against the residents in Donbass, Ukraine won’t even possibly be able to win this war.

So, that’s the Ukrainian Government’s predicament, regarding this war.

—————

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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Series Sends Norwegian Fashion Bloggers to Observe Cambodian Garment Industry

Sweatshop: Dead Cheap Fashion, Aftenposten, sweatshops, sweatshop workers, sweatshop labor, forced labor, eco-fashion, sustainable fashion, green fashion, ethical fashion, sustainable style, workers rights, human rights, Norway, eco-fashion documentaries, eco-fashion films

This series, “Sweatshop: Dead Cheap Fashion”, consists of four episodes, ten to twelve minutes each, and is well worth watching.  It chronicles the reactions of three young Norwegian fashion bloggers when they go to Cambodia to see who is making the clothing they love to buy and talk about.

They are initially shocked and uncomfortable with the poverty, but fall back to the position that it is normal for Cambodians, so it is therefore fine and the workers are happy (or so the kids assume).  And at least, the Norwegians say, they have jobs.

But as the bloggers spend more time with the workers, talking to them and living just one short day in their shoes, things change fairly dramatically.

Episode 1

Episode 2

Episode 3

Episode 4

Along the way, the Norwegian kids get a firsthand look at the dynamic the USA worked to create in Indochina a few decades earlier: when starving workers try to organize protests for living wages, they are beaten by shock troops working de facto for international oligarchs.

The thinking behind such ideas as living-wages was the “virus”, the “rot”, that the USA went to great lengths to try to inoculate, dropping more bombs on Cambodia alone than the US side dropped in all of World War II combined.

The Yale University website documents that the bombing was begun by Johnson and escalated by Nixon, with Nixon’s lackey Henry Kissinger relaying, down the chain of command, Nixon’s call for genocide: “He wants a massive bombing campaign in Cambodia. He doesn’t want to hear anything. It’s an order, it’s to be done. Anything that flies, on anything that moves. You got that?”  To this day, Kissinger, as is said of petty criminals who pale in comparison, is out there walking the streets.

The US thus planted and detonated “2,756,941 tons” of bombs in Cambodia, a terrorist operation perhaps unprecedented in history, as Yale notes:

To put 2,756,941 tons into perspective, the [US side] dropped just over 2 million tons of bombs during all of World War II. Cambodia may be the most heavily bombed country in history.

It was initially “estimated that between 50,000 and 150,000 Cambodian civilians were killed” by the US terror campaign.  However, that was when the tonnage of bombs detonated was thought to be five times less than it was later discovered to be.  It follows that the actual “number of casualties is surely higher”, perhaps, as logic might suggest, five or more times higher.

Alternet notes:

Mr. Kissinger’s most significant historical act was executing Richard Nixon’s orders to conduct the most massive bombing campaign, largely of civilian targets, in world history. He dropped 3.7 million tons of bombs between January 1969 and January 1973 – nearly twice the two million dropped on all of Europe and the Pacific in World War II. He secretly and illegally devastated villages throughout areas of Cambodia inhabited by a U.S. Embassy-estimated two million people…

His aerial slaughter helped kill, wound or make homeless an officially-estimated six million human beings…

The Yale website further documents that the US bombing led directly to the rise of the Khmer Rouge regime:

…the bombs drove ordinary Cambodians into the arms of the Khmer Rouge, a group that seemed initially to have slim prospects of revolutionary success. Pol Pot himself described the Khmer Rouge during that period as “fewer than five thousand
poorly armed guerrillas . . . scattered across the Cambodian landscape, uncertain
about their strategy, tactics, loyalty, and leaders.”

And a former Khmer Rouge officer reported (depicting a scenario being created constantly by Obama’s executions of suspects by cruel and unusual means):

The ordinary people sometimes literally shit in their pants when the big bombs and shells came. Their minds just froze up and they would wander around mute for three or four days. Terrified and half crazy, the people were ready to believe what they were told. It was because of their dissatisfaction with the bombing that they kept on co-operating with the Khmer Rouge, joining up with the Khmer Rouge, sending their children off to go with them…. Sometimes the bombs fell and hit little children, and their fathers would be all for the Khmer Rouge.

Once the Khmer Rouge seized power, Vietnam intervened to try to stop them, but the US teamed up with the Khmer Rouge.  Henry Kissinger called the Khmer Rouge “murderous thugs”, and said the US “will be friends with them.”

The general problem in Indochina (specifically Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos) was that indigenous movements with overwhelming popular support (Ch. 18) would not “cede control to the local oligarchy”.

The “rot” of such thinking had to be, and was, inoculated, with results the Norwegian kids encountered, to their shock.

If only on a visceral and not an historical level (one of the bloggers deftly notes that “we are rich because they are poor”), the kids learn that the comfortable beds on which they sleep in the West, surrounded by luxuries, lie on the rotting corpses and hunched, aching backs of unknown millions of people with “as much value” as them.

Also see:

“WikiLeaks Haiti: Let Them Live on $3 per Day”

Contractors for Fruit of the Loom, Hanes and Levi’s worked in close concert with the US Embassy when they aggressively moved to block a minimum wage increase for Haitian assembly zone workers, the lowest-paid in the hemisphere, according to secret State Department cables.

Ultra-cheap labor is desired, sought, and maintained by massive violent force for the benefit and luxuriation of a few oligarchs.

The US and West developed by radically violating the arrangements they force on others.  These arrangements de-develop, drain, and hold down the victim countries as the dominant countries profit off them.  For example, India, before the British de-developed and set it up as a cheap labor/resource camp, was more developed and prosperous than Britain (271).  The victim countries finally begin to re-develop once they are able to throw off the yoke.

As The Guardian reports:

…the US lost most of its influence in Latin America over the past 15 years, and the region has done quite well, with a sharp reduction in poverty for the first time in decades. The Washington-based International Monetary Fund has also lost most of its influence over the middle-income countries of the world, and these have also done remarkably better in the 2000s.

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog.  Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Posted in General, Politics / World News | 6 Comments

Greece at the Crossroads: the Oligarchs Blew It

Once one oligarchy falls, it will threaten to topple a long line of oligarch dominoes.

A great many narratives invoking Greece are being tossed around, but only one really encapsulates the unvarnished truth: the Oligarchs blew it. The oligarchs in both Greece and the European Union/ECB had the opportunity a few years ago to trade some of their outsized wealth and political power for stability and sustainable expansion.

Instead, they chose to not just cling to every shred of their outsized wealth and power but to actively increase it. Their greed and hubris has now put their entire system of parasitic wealth extraction at risk of collapse. Their political stranglehold on power has been weakened, and there’s no going back: they blew it, and now it’s too late. The debt-serfs have finally had enough.

If you enter Greece in the custom search box on this site, six pages of blog entries come up. I have addressed the situation in Greece many times; this summarizes my conclusion:

Greece, Please Do The Right Thing: Default Now (June 1, 2011)

Thankfully, many in Greece have reached the same conclusion, for the same reasons:

Greece’s New FinMin Warns “We Are Going To Destroy The Greek Oligarchy System”

The basic problem is that Greece Is a Kleptocracy (June 28, 2011). Greece has shown the world how oligarchies can expand their wealth and power even as their populace slides deeper into poverty. A recent article, Misrule of the Few: How the Oligarchs Ruined Greece, lays out the key dynamics.

Writer Pavlos Eleftheriadis pulls no punches:

“Greece has failed to address (rising wealth/income inequality) because the country’s elites have a vested interest in keeping things as they are. Since the early 1990s, a handful of wealthy families — an oligarchy in all but name — has dominated Greek politics. These elites have preserved their positions through control of the media and through old-fashioned favoritism, sharing the spoils of power with the country’s politicians. Greek legislators, in turn, have held on to power by rewarding a small number of professional associations and public-sector unions that support the status quo. Even as European lenders have put the country’s finances under a microscope, this arrangement has held.”

The vested interests have obscured the cold reality of rising inequality by focusing obsessively on “growth” as the fix-all to inequality.

But this is exactly backward. As Eleftheriadis observes:

“The fundamental problem facing Greece is not slow economic growth but political inequality. To the benefit of a favored few, cumbersome regulations and dysfunctional institutions remain largely unchanged, even as the country’s infrastructure crumbles, poverty increases, and corruption persists. Greek society also faces new dangers. Overall unemployment stands at 27 percent, and youth unemployment exceeds 50 percent, providing an ideal recruiting ground for extremist groups on both the left and the right. Meanwhile, the oligarchs are still profiting at the expense of the country — and the rest of Europe.”

All the blather about “growth” is just propaganda to misdirect our attention from the real problem: the total domination of governance and finance by a class of vested interests and mega-wealthy cartels/oligarchies.

The solution is straightforward: default on all debt by no longer making interest payments. There is no way Greece can pay back the $240 billion of current debt, and sooner the delusion that this can be renegotiated to preserve the oligarchy is smashed, the better.

As for the big threat of kicking Greece out of the euro currency–since most Greeks are already impoverished, how can they get any poorer? The reality is poor countries prosper by making their goods and services cheaper via currency devaluations, and by paying a healthy rate of interest on capital so capital is attracted and invested productively, as high interest rates make speculative, marginal gambles soberingly risky.

The only people with enough wealth left to worry about a return to a sovereign currency are the wealthy who own the assets and who depend on handouts from the E.U.

As the old saying has it, you can’t get blood from a turnip. The impoverished face little downside from leaving the stranglehold of the euro, and only upside from a return to a sovereign currency controlled by the Greeks rather than the E.U. or the European Central Bank (ECB).

The threat of expelling Greece from the euro is hollow. A return to a sovereign currency puts the responsibility for prudent management of government expenditures and debt back in the hands of the Greek people and the leaders they elect. Why is that something terrible?

If the new leadership of Greece pursues policies of fiscal prudence, high interest rates, zero-tolerance for corruption and freeing up the Greek economy to encourage small-scale enterprise, any decline in Greece’s sovereign currency will be brief. If they pursuemeet the new boss, same as the old boss policies, then the Greek people will remain shackled in poverty.

We have to remember that the lenders who entrusted capital to marginal borrowers took the risk and therefore have to absorb the losses. In this case, the irresponsible lenders include sovereign nations that acted to protect their own oligarchies.

Why? Once one oligarchy falls, it will threaten to topple a long line of oligarch dominoes.

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As The Middle Class Evaporates, Global Oligarchs Plan Their Escape Form The Impoverished Pleb Masses

Submitted by Mike Krieger via Liberty Blitzkrieg blog,

The middle class has shrunk consistently over the past half-century. Until 2000, the reason was primarily because more Americans moved up the income ladder. But since then, the reason has shifted: There is a greater share of households on the lower rungs of the economic ladder.

– From yesterday’s New York Times article: Middle Class Shrinks Further as More Fall Out Instead of Climbing Up

At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.

– From the Guardian’s article: As Inequality Soars, the Nervous Super Rich are Already Planning Their Escapes

So the other day, President Barack Obama once again demonstrated his contempt for the American public by using his State of the Union address to pejoratively blurt out meaningless phrases such as “but tonight, we turn the page” and: “The verdict is clear. Middle-class economics works. Expanding opportunity works. And these policies will continue to work, as long as politics don’t get in the way.”

Sorry, but why are “we turning the page” tonight? Weren’t you elected over six years ago? Why didn’t you turn the page in 2009?

Meanwhile, I’m astounded by the phrase “middle-class economics works.” Perhaps it does, but how would anyone know? The only thing I’ve seen from his administration is a laser focused determination to consolidate all American wealth and power into the hands of a tiny group of oligarchs and their lapdogs.

Indeed, the following articles published in the last two days by the New York Times and the Guardian show the true results of Obama’s oligarch-coddling legacy. The Obama years have been nothing short of an oligarch crime scene.

First, from the New York Times:

The middle class that President Obama identified in his State of the Union speech last week as the foundation of the American economy has been shrinking for almost half a century.

In the late 1960s, more than half of the households in the United States were squarely in the middle, earning, in today’s dollars, $35,000 to $100,000 a year. Few people noticed or cared as the size of that group began to fall, because the shift was primarily caused by more Americans climbing the economic ladder into upper-income brackets.

But since 2000, the middle-class share of households has continued to narrow, the main reason being that more people have fallen to the bottom. At the same time, fewer of those in this group fit the traditional image of a married couple with children at home, a gap increasingly filled by the elderly.

Remember, middle-class economics works. If the goal is its total destruction.

These charts from the New York Times do not tell the tale of a thriving economy:

Screen Shot 2015-01-26 at 10.17.50 AM

Even as the American middle class has shrunk, it has gone through a transformation. The 53 million households that remain in the middle class — about 43 percent of all households — look considerably different from their middle-class predecessors of a previous generation, according to a New York Times analysis of census data.

In recent years, the fastest-growing component of the new middle class has been households headed by people 65 and older. Today’s seniors have better retirement benefits than previous generations. Also, older Americans are increasingly working past traditional retirement age. More than eight million, or 19 percent, were in the labor force in 2013, nearly twice as many as in 2000.

According to a New York Times poll in December, 60 percent of people who call themselves middle class think that if they work hard they will get rich. But the evidence suggests that goal is increasingly out of reach. When middle class people look up, they see the rich getting richer while they spin their wheels.

One of the main reasons we have seen such a low level of resistance to this historic oligarch theft, is due to the successful brainwashing of the American public. Despite clear evidence to the contrary, 60% of what is left of the middle-class still think they are going to get rich. They have no idea that they are really just a bunch of deluded plebs unable to see how systematically and catastrophically they are being played.

Meanwhile, the Guardian describes how many global oligarchs are already planning their escape. These people know full well they are being enriched criminally. Their response is to take as much money as possible and flee before the pitchforks emerge (see: The Pitchforks are Coming…– A Dire Warning from a Member of the 0.01%).

With growing inequality and the civil unrest from Ferguson and the Occupy protests fresh in people’s mind, the world’s super rich are already preparing for the consequences. At a packed session in Davos, former hedge fund director Robert Johnson revealed that worried hedge fund managers were already planning their escapes. “I know hedge fund managers all over the world who are buying airstrips and farms in places like New Zealand because they think they need a getaway,” he said.

But as former New Zealand prime minister and now UN development head Helen Clark explained, rather than being a game changer, recent examples suggest the Ferguson movement may soon be forgotten. “We saw Occupy flare up and then fade like many others like it,” Clark said. “The problem movements like these have is stickability. The challenge is for them to build structures that are ongoing; to sustain these new voices.”

Clarke said: “Solutions are there. What’s been lacking is political will. Politicians do not respond to those who don’t have a voice In the end this is all about redistributing income and power.”

She added: “Seventy five percent of people in developing countries live in places that are less equal than they were in 1990.”

Welcome to the recovery suckers.

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

Handcuffs, Leg Shackles and Tasers: The New Face of Punishment in the Public Schools

By John Whitehead, constitutional and human rights attorney, and founder of the Rutherford Institute.

“In many parts of the country, teachers are viewed as beyond reproach, much like doctors, police officers, or clergy … and, therefore, are rarely challenged about their classroom conduct. In some cases, this means that actions that would be considered criminal if committed by a parent remain unchallenged by law enforcement if they occur in a school setting.”—Senator Tom Harkin, “Dangerous Use of Seclusion and Restraints in Schools Remains Widespread and Difficult to Remedy: A Review of Ten Cases

Roughly 1500 kids are tied up or locked down every day by school officials in the United States.

At least 500 students are locked up in some form of solitary confinement every day, whether it be a padded room, a closet or a duffel bag. In many cases, parents are rarely notified when such methods are used.

On any given day when school is in session, kids who “act up” in class are pinned facedown on the floor, locked in dark closets, tied up with straps, bungee cords and duct tape, handcuffed, leg shackled, tasered or otherwise restrained, immobilized or placed in solitary confinement in order to bring them under “control.”

In almost every case, these undeniably harsh methods are used to punish kids for simply failing to follow directions or throwing tantrums. Very rarely do the kids pose any credible danger to themselves or others.

Unbelievably, these tactics are all legal, at least when employed by school officials or school resource officers (a.k.a. police officers) in the nation’s public schools.

For example, in what may be the youngest example of a child being restrained in this way, in October 2014, a 4-year-old Virginia preschooler was handcuffed, leg shackled and transported to the sheriff’s office after reportedly throwing blocks and climbing on top of the furniture. School officials claim the restraints were necessary to protect the adults from injury.

In New York, “school safety agents” tied a 5-year-old ADHD student to a chair with Velcro straps as a punishment for throwing a tantrum in class. Police officers claim the straps were necessary because the boy had tried to bite one of the adults.

A 6-year-old kindergarten student in a Georgia public school was handcuffed, transported to the police station, and charged with simple battery of a schoolteacher and criminal damage to property for throwing a temper tantrum at school.

A second-grader in Arizona who suffers from ADHD was duct-taped to her chair after getting up to sharpen her pencil too often.

Kentucky school officials placed a 9-year-old autistic student in a duffel bag as a punishment acting up in class. Turns out, it wasn’t the first time the boy had been placed inside the “therapy bag.”

An 11-year-old special needs student had his hands cuffed behind his back and was driven home in a police car after refusing to come inside after recess and acting in an out of control manner by “passively” resisting police officers.

Unfortunately, these are far from isolated incidents.

According to a ProPublica investigative report, such harsh punishments are part of a widespread phenomenon plaguing school districts across the country.

Indeed, as investigative reporter Heather Vogell points out, this is a local story everywhere. It’s happening in my town. It’s happening in your town. It’s happening in every school district in America.

In 2012 alone, there were more than 267,000 attempts by school officials to restrain or lock up students using straps, bungee cords, and duct tape. The numbers are likely far greater when one accounts for the schools that underreport their use of such tactics.

Vogell found that “most [incidents] of restraints and seclusions happen to kids with disabilities—and are more likely to happen to kids with autism or emotional/behavioral problems.” Often due to their age, their emotional distress, or their disabilities, these young people are unable to tell their parents about the abusive treatment being meted out to them by school officials.

At least 500 students are placed in “Scream Rooms” every day (there were 104,000 reported uses of scream rooms in a given year). For those unfamiliar with the term, a “scream room” is an isolated, unmonitored, locked room—sometimes padded, often as small as four-feet-by-four-feet—which school officials use to place students in seclusion.

These scream rooms are a far cry from the tested and approved “time out,” which involves monitoring the child in a non-locked setting in order to calm him down. As psychiatrist Keith Albow points out, “Scream rooms are nothing but solitary confinement, and by extension, that makes every school that uses them a prison. They turn principals into wardens and make every student an inmate.”

Schools acting like prisons. School officials acting like wardens. Students treated like inmates and punished like hardened criminals.

This is the end product of all those so-called school “safety” policies, which run the gamut from zero tolerance policies that punish all infractions harshly to surveillance cameras, metal detectors, random searches, drug-sniffing dogs, school-wide lockdowns, active-shooter drills and militarized police officers.

Paradoxically, instead of making the schools safer, school officials have succeeded in creating an environment in which children are so traumatized that they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, nightmares, anxiety, mistrust of adults in authority, as well as feelings of anger, depression, humiliation, despair and delusion.

Even in the face of parental outrage, lawsuits, legislative reforms, investigative reports and endless cases showing that these tactics are not working and “should never be used for punishment or discipline,” full-grown adults—police officers and teachers alike—insist that the reason they continue to handcuff, lock up and restrain little kids is because they fear for their safety and the safety of others.

“Fear for one’s safety” has become such a hackneyed and threadbare excuse for behavior that is inexcusable. Dig a little deeper and you’ll find that explanation covers a multitude of sins, whether it’s poorly trained police officers who shoot first and ask questions later, or school officials who are ill-equipped to deal with children who act like children, meaning they don’t always listen, they sometimes throw tantrums, and they have a hard time sitting still.

That’s not to say all schools are bad. In fact, there are a small but growing number of schools that are proactively switching to a policy of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports (PBIS), which relies on the use of “engaging instruction, combined with acknowledgement or feedback of positive student behavior,” in order to reduce the need for unnecessary discipline and promote a climate of greater productivity, safety, and learning.  One school in Pennsylvania for children with significant behavior challenges found that they were able to “reduce the use of physical restraint from approximately 1,000 incidents per year in 1998 to only three incidents total in 2012” after switching to a PBIS-oriented program. If exposed to this positive reinforcement early enough in school, by the time a student makes it to the third grade, little to no intervention is required.

Unfortunately, these schools are still in the minority in an age that values efficiency, expediency and conformity, where it’s often faster and easier to “lock down” a kid who won’t sit still, won’t follow orders, and won’t comply.

Certainly, this is a mindset we see all too often in the American police state.

So what’s the answer, not only for the here-and-now—the children growing up in these quasi-prisons—but for the future of this country? How do you convince a child who has been routinely handcuffed, shackled, tied down, locked up, and immobilized by government officials—all before he reaches the age of adulthood—that he has any rights at all, let alone the right to challenge wrongdoing, resist oppression and defend himself against injustice?

Most of all, as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, how do you persuade a fellow American that the government works for him when for most of his young life, he has been incarcerated in an institution that teaches young people to be obedient and compliant citizens who don’t talk back, don’t question and don’t challenge authority?

Peter Gray, a professor of psychology at Boston College, believes that school is a prison that is damaging our kids, and it’s hard to disagree, especially with the numbers of police officers being assigned to schools on the rise. What this means, notes Mother Jones, is greater police “involvement in routine discipline matters that principals and parents used to address without involvement from law enforcement officers.”

Students, in turn, are not only finding themselves subjected to police tactics such as handcuffs, leg shackles, tasers and excessive force for “acting up” but are also being ticketed, fined and sent to court for behavior perceived as defiant, disruptive or disorderly such as spraying perfume and writing on a desk.

Clearly, the pathology that characterizes the American police state has passed down to the schools. Now in addition to the government and its agents viewing the citizenry as suspects to be probed, poked, pinched, tasered, searched, seized, stripped and generally manhandled, all with the general blessing of the court, our children in the public schools are also fair game.

What can be done?

Without a doubt, change is needed, but that will mean taking on the teachers’ unions, the school unions, the educators’ associations, and the police unions, not to mention the politicians dependent on their votes and all of the corporations that profit mightily from an industrial school complex.

As we’ve seen with other issues, any significant reforms will have to start locally and trickle upwards. For a start, parents need to be vocal, visible and organized and demand that school officials 1) adopt a policy of positive reinforcement in dealing with behavior issues; 2) minimize the presence in the schools of police officers and cease involving them in student discipline; and 3) insist that all behavioral issues be addressed first and foremost with a child’s parents, before any other disciplinary tactics are attempted.

“Children are the messages we send to a time we will not see,” Professor Neil Postman once wrote. If we do not rein in the police state’s influence in the schools, the future to which we are sending our children will be characterized by a brutal, totalitarian regime.

Posted in Politics / World News | 1 Comment

Former Marine on Chris Kyle, American Sniper, and Social Implications

Ross Caputi, a former marine who participated in the US’s second siege of Fallujah, writes that the reason the American Sniper book and film have been so successful is that they “tell us exactly what we want to hear”: that US America is “benevolent” and “righteous”.  That, he says, is why the book and film are so popular; their popularity speaks volumes about US society, and signals more danger ahead for the rest of the world.

The killings for which Chris Kyle is idolized, Caputi notes, were perpetrated during his participation in the second US siege of Fallujah, which Caputi, from firsthand knowledge, calls an “atrocity”.

Specifically of the siege, Caputi notes:

  • All military aged males were forced to stay within the city limits of Fallujah” [while women and children were warned to flee through the desert on foot]
  • “…an estimated 50,000 civilians were trapped in [Fallujah] during this month long siege without water” [since the US had cut off water and electricity to the city]
  • “…almost no effort was taken to make a distinction between civilian men and combatants. In fact, in many instances civilians and combatants were deliberately conflated.”
  • “The US did not treat military action [against Fallujah] as a last resort. The peace negotiations with the leadership in Fallujah were canceled by the US.”

In modest conformity with international law originally flowing from the Nuremberg tribunal, he says that neither he or Kyle should receive any “praise or recognition” for their actions against Iraq.

Further, he notes that Clint Eastwood, director of the American Sniper movie, made many changes to Kyle’s accounts of what happened.  For one, Kyle, in his autobiography, recounts shooting a woman who was taking the legal action of throwing a grenade at invading forces.  Eastwood changes this so that the woman gives the grenade to her child to throw at the invaders.  “Did Clint Eastwood think that this is a more representative portrayal of the Iraqi resistance?” Caputi asks. “It’s not.”  (Caputi gives Eastwood the benefit of our lack of knowledge of his thought process; he could have asked if Eastwood did this to try to dehumanize Iraqi mothers or Iraqis in general, or whip up US American xenophobic hatred of foreigners, a not-so-difficult feat which Eastwood accomplished with flying colors.  See The Guardian’s “American Sniper: Anti-Muslim Threats Skyrocket in Wake of Film’s Release“; many who see the film “emerge from theatres desperate to communicate a kind of murderous desire.”)

The US invasion of Iraq, Caputi concludes, was “the imposition of a political and economic project against the will of the majority of Iraqis. … We had no right to invade a sovereign nation, occupy it against the will of the majority of its citizens, and patrol their streets.”

Caputi “holds an MA in Linguistics and … is working on an MA in English Studies at Fitchburg State University.”

Also see Professor of International Affairs Sophia A. McClennan’s piece, where she says the American Sniper movie is “a terrifying glimpse” of a “mind-set that couples delusion with violence”.

Posted in General, Politics / World News | 192 Comments

The Federal Reserve Has Declared the Winner in the Generational Financial War

The policy of safeguarding Boomer benefits with asset bubbles will lead to the destruction of the unprepared, the unwary and those who foolishly trusted our “leadership” and central bank to tell them the truth.

Though it is exceedingly politically incorrect to mention it publicly, a financial war between the generations is being fought in the U.S. and every other developed nation that has promised social welfare benefits to its burgeoning class of retirees.

The war is being fought on multiple fronts: political promises, interest rates, housing, central bank policies and official rates of inflation, to name a few of the top battlefields.

Though no one in power will state this publicly, the Federal Reserve has already declared the winner of the generational war: the Baby Boomers won and Gen-X and Gen-Y lost. Fed policies insure the Boomers will benefit from financial bubbles inflated by the Fed, and the following generations will lose–not just this year or next year, but for decades to come.

Any nation that offers its retirees social welfare benefits (pensions and healthcare) faces a no-win demographic crunch: the number of retiring people entering the class of beneficiaries far exceeds the number of additional full-time jobs being created. In other words, it’s not just a matter of having enough young people to support the rapidly expanding cohort of retirees–there must be enough good-paying full-time jobs for the young people so they can pay high taxes to fund the retirees’ benefits and support their own consumption/saving.

Let’s cover the fundamentals of the mismatch between what was promised to retiring Baby Boomers and the generations that must support their retirement.

The fact is that the number of full-time jobs paying more than minimum wage has stagnated while the number of retirees qualifying for pensions and healthcare benefits has soared. In the good old days of expansion, there were roughly 10 full-time workers for each retiree drawing social benefits (Social Security and Medicare).

The ratio fell to 5-to-1, then to 3-to-1, and is now 2-to-1: that is not a ratio that is sustainable without crushing tax burdens on the young.

Estimates are even worse in other developed nations. In Europe, the ratio of retirees over 65 to those between 20 and 64 will soon reach 50%–and that’s of the population, not of people with full-time jobs paying taxes to fund social welfare programs. (source: Foreign Affairs, July/August 2014, page 130)

All government social welfare programs are pay-as-you-go. The Trust Funds touted in propaganda are illusions, backed by nothing but the promise to sell more Treasury debt.

The Problem with Pay-As-You-Go Social Programs: They’re Ponzi Schemes (November 5, 2013)

While the costs of defined-benefit programs such as Social Security can be extrapolated relatively accurately, the program’s revenues cannot be predicted because they come from wages. If recession slashes millions of jobs, or earned income declines as wage increases slip below the rate of inflation (which is precisely what’s been happening for the past 6 years), revenues won’t meet wildly optimistic forecasts that presume high, sustained wage and employment growth forever.

No official forecast of tax revenues supporting Social Security and Medicare ever factor in a recession, much less a decade or two of declining wages. If the forecasts were more realistic, the programs would be revealed as insolvent.

That is of course a political impossibility, so delusional forecasts are issued and accepted as “real” lest the unpalatable reality be recognized.

Defined-benefit programs such as Social Security have costs that can be estimated with some accuracy, but programs such as Medicare are open-ended: their costs cannot be predicted. Every attempt to control the ballooning costs of healthcare benefits for the retired lowers the rate of growth for a year or two, and then the costs soar once again as the number of beneficiaries and costs of delivering ever-expanding services both explode higher.

As a result of these fundamentals, the Powers That Be face a dilemma: they cannot reveal the insolvency of these huge social welfare programs, even though the insolvency is guaranteed by demographic and global-economic dynamics.

There are a very limited number of financial solutions to this dilemma.

1. Taxes can be raised. This is problematic for several reasons. One is that taxes on the self-employed and upper-middle class are already 40%-50%, as I have outlined many times. Two, the number of “wealthy” people (households earning $250,000 or more) is tiny compared to the 100+ million army of social welfare program beneficiaries.

Higher taxes and junk fees are already suppressing consumption. Every dollar of additional tax paid is a dollar that won’t be spent by the household that earned the dollar.

Tax the rich is politically popular but in practical terms, it doesn’t generate the revenues that are expected, for the simple reasons that A) the number of wealthy is relatively tiny and B) the super-wealthy either move their capital elsewhere or they buy political favor-tax breaks.

2. Slash benefits and limit the total Medicare costs per beneficiary. Since young people tend not to vote and older people tend to vote, this is a political non-starter, at least until 90+% of young people start voting.

3. Raise interest rates to 10+% to encourage saving and to generate a healthy return on pension funds and retirement accounts. The net result of 10% yields is the immediate collapse of the Fed-fueled asset bubbles in housing, bonds and stocks. All these currently bubblicious assets would implode.

This is also a non-starter, because the financial/political Aristocracy and owners of these assets would be devastated by the implosion of the bubbles.

4. Inflate bubbles in housing, stocks and bonds to boost the value of pension funds, retirement accounts, and government tax revenues from capital gains by pushing interest rates to zero and extending credit to speculators, financiers and marginally qualified borrowers.

The Federal Reserve has clearly chosen #4 as the only politically palatable solution. While asset bubbles create the politically positive illusion that pension funds can pay the benefits promised, retirement accounts are swelling in value and tax revenues are rising thanks to higher property taxes and capital gains taxes, this legerdemain comes with a heavy price:

Younger generations are either priced out of assets such as housing or they are forced to buy assets at inflated prices– prices that will inevitably implode as these stupendous speculative bubbles pop. When the bubbles pop, the young people who bought into the illusion that asset bubbles can expand forever will be underwater, and not for a year or two but for a generation.

The system rewards silence and complicity. Everyone bellying up to the social welfare trough is implicitly encouraged to support the Status Quo, lest their share of the swag be diminished. That the trough will collapse is not important to each beneficiary; what’s important is that their share of the swag is not diminished, even if cuts are the only sustainable way to save the programs from collapse.

I am a Baby Boomer, and in 4 short years I will be entitled to belly up to the trough and extract hundreds of thousands of dollars in open-ended benefits (at least for Medicare). I have long proposed that the Boomers collectively fall on our swords and accept the draconian cuts necessary to align our benefits with the cold reality of declining wages and employment.

The equally cold reality is that the current “solution” impoverishes the younger generations and generates a tsunami of risk that will wash away the Status Quo–including the benefits of the Boomers.

Right now, we as a nation are greedily collecting the financial fish flopping around as the coming tsunami pulls the water out of the bay and briefly exposes the sea floor. The Federal Reserve and our self-serving political “leadership” is reassuring us the water has left for good and we are free to collect the free fish forever.

This is a blatant lie. The demographic and economic tsunami is gathering force over the horizon, and the policy of safeguarding Boomer benefits with asset bubbles will lead to the destruction of the unprepared, the unwary and those who foolishly trusted our “leadership” and central bank to tell them the truth.

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New Documentary, “Censored Voices”, Offers Revelations about Israel’s 1967 War of Aggression, Conquest

In 1967, Israel, which had been founded on terrorism and ethnic cleansing against civilians, waged another war of aggression and absorbed more of the land specifically reserved by the United Nations for Palestinians.  The highest Israeli militant leaders had, since long before Israel was established, vowed to wipe Palestine off the map by conquering all of it, and more.

As a society where speech is heavily censored by the government and military, interviews with Israeli soldiers after the ’67 war of aggression (the “six day war”) were locked away, until now, when they can be viewed to some extent in the documentary “Censored Voices”.

However, “Israel forbids the filmmakers to reveal how much they were forced to change, and the military censor’s office refused to discuss it.”  The military is said to have “heavily edited” the footage.

Still, the film exhibits soldiers talking about how it was a “myth” that they cared so deeply about the territory they were conquering.  A soldier says he had forgotten it (the Old City) existed until he and his fellow troops were ordered to march through and conquer it.

Another soldier reveals his belief, common in Israel, that the Arabs were “animals”, “not human beings”.  Indeed, Israelis famously referred to Arabs as “monkeys” (and continue today to use racist terms to dehumanize their victims).  Though this soldier does not refer to his own side as sub-human, he does admit the behavior of the Israeli army was “filthy”.

Orders from terrorists from the top of the Israeli chain of command were to “kill as many as possible” and “‘show no mercy”.  Foot soldiers discuss how they didn’t think twice about murdering civilians, and chose to “kill everyone” they saw, admitting that the Israeli forces were all “murderers”.

The film delves into the Israeli army’s execution of prisoners and massacres of civilians in the process of conquering more of the land.

Prof. Norman Finkelstein, who wrote his political science doctoral dissertation at Princeton on Israel and has since studied the Israeli conquest of Palestine for decades, notes of the 1967 war that, while Israel of course whipped up existential fear in its public, US and Israeli intelligence independently determined and confirmed with each other that Egypt was not going to attack Israel, and that even if three neighboring countries all attacked Israel at the same time, Israel would “whip the Hell out of them” (Johnson administration) in seven to ten days.

Israel thus, as Zeev Maoz, former Israeli professor of military strategy, notes, waged a “war of choice”, or “deliberate Israeli aggressive design” (a terrorist operation), and fulfilled its long-time, stated goal of colonizing more legally reserved Palestinian territory, refusing through today to follow the democratic global consensus and decolonize the conquered lands.

After the war, the UN General Assembly held an emergency session, and “not one country in the world” (apart from Israel) said Israel had acted in self defense.

However, as Finkelstein notes, even if we turn history on its head and pretend 1967 was an Israeli war of defense, nothing changes.  International law forbids acquisition of territory by war of any kind, and Israel would still be required to decolonize Palestine and return to its 1967 borders.

Every year, the UN General Assembly votes about 165 to 2 (the two being US/Israel, sometimes joined by a few US or Western European colonies) for Israel to decolonize Palestine and return to its June, 1967 borders.  The legal necessity of Israel returning to its 1967 borders is affirmed by virtually every group in the world, including all major human rights organizations, as well as the highest court in the world, the International Court of Justice, in which all fifteen judges, including the US judge, agreed that Israel’s absorption and colonization of land through war in 1967 is illegal.

Israel is able to maintain its illegal colonial apartheid state beyond its borders only through regular acts of mass terror against Palestinian civilians (what Israel refers to in terms such as  “mowing the lawn”) and US sponsorship.

(Note author has not viewed documentary, which recently premiered at Sundance.  Above information about and quotes from film are from trailers, clips, and referenced NYT review, which author of the review admits was written to serve the Israeli propaganda version of the initiation of the 1967 war.)

Robert Barsocchini is an internationally published researcher and writer who focuses on global force dynamics and writes professionally for the film industry.  He is a regular contributor to  Washington’s Blog.  Follow Robert and his UK-based colleague, Dean Robinson, on Twitter.

Posted in General, Politics / World News | 2 Comments

The REAL Terror Threat

Worse Than Islamic Radicals?

While Islamic terrorists are scary, other threats are much more dangerous.

For example, while the government has hyped the threat of terrorists causing a power outage, the numbers tell a different story:

Squirrels(Background.)

Why isn’t Homeland Security going after public enemy number 1?

Postscript: It’s wrong to make fun of terrorism … or is it?

Posted in Energy / Environment, Politics / World News, Science / Technology | 8 Comments

Mariupol-Donetsk-Frunza! Can Poroshenko Escape Crimes Against Humanity Trial?

George Eliason

A little over a week ago Petro Poroshenko ordered an all out assault on Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics. Faced with massive losses during the first few days the Poroshenko regime has resorted unsuccessfully to get both republic’s listed as terrorist organizations by the EU and United Nations.

It started with the Volonavaha bus attack after which the bus driver states in an interview with the Korrespondent that a mine exploded and killed his passengers in Ukrainian controlled territory. Images from the scene taken by the Ukrainian army shows a soldier carrying what appears to be a claymore mine. Claymore mines are directional explosives that are set off remotely or by a trip wire.

Kiev is engaging in a game of escalating crimes against humanity. Each attack on civilian populations has been followed by an all out media blitz trying to place blame on the fledgling republics.

Frunza- The Example not the Exception

When Poroshenko’s nationalist government ordered the new escalation Frunza was attacked again. Caught on video made by the Ukrainian army unit shelling the town, the world can no longer deny that Peter Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Rada are attacking civilian populations. The Ukrainian government and military are guilty of crimes against humanity.

The soldiers in this video are laughing and swearing “At Frunza! Fuck Frunza!” “This is war? This is too much fun to be war” as they fire on the civilian population. Soldiers don’t attack targets without orders. These same orders are being carried out across the Donbass region.

In October I spent 3 days embedded with Commander Alexey Moskovoy’s Prezrak “Ghost Battalion.” I am one of the few western journalists to do invasive passport and weapon checks on soldiers and interview foreign volunteers with more than baseline questions.

During the time I was with Ghost Battalion we stopped in Frunza. It was a typical town with a vibrant market place. We stopped so I could pick up a few things. There was no military targets or presence inside the city limits. Pictured below is the entry to Frunza market place. A few days after I left, Frunza was attacked by Ukrainian artillery and the market pictured below was destroyed.

Frunza Market Place

Prezrak- “Ghost Battalion” Answers

In the last few seconds of the Ukrainian army’s video, the Ukrainian soldier with the artillery unit laments they were hit back by Prezrak and his artillery brigade was destroyed. Until Poroshenko started this offensive the armies of the DNR (Donetsk People’s Republic) and LNR (Lugansk People’s Republic) were forced to stand down unless directly attacked.

Poroshenko’s Ukraine has never stopped attacking the cities and towns in Donbass. When the order for the counter offensive came, Kiev’s nationalist army suffered massive losses. Because of the devastation they caused in Frunza, the entire artillery brigade that shelled the town were destroyed.

Mariupol! Crimes Beyond the Pale

Since May, Mariupol which is a city of 500,000 people, has suffered under the hand of Azov Battalion. Its been reported that at Women’s prison #107 in Mariupol 15-20 women are taken daily to the Azov Battalion military barracks to be raped and tortured. Local citizen’s disappear off the street on a daily basis. Andrei Biletsky, the founder and leader of Azov Battalion was rewarded with a seat in the Ukrainian Senate (Rada) for his efforts at Ukrainizing the city. Azov has been noted by Human Rights Watch as one of the Ukrainian governments most criminal battalions.

This latest rocket and missile attack in which close to 30 casualties including 2 children is being reported. Currently the number of civilians wounded in the attack stands at 97, including at least 5 children.

Ukraine was quick to blame the DNR for the attack and large western media outlets have run that story with very little reliable information available at the time.

What Happened in Mariupol

Citizens of Mariupol report that ½ hour before the attack utilities in the area including natural gas, water, and electricity were shut off.

Eye witnesses in the town of Starri Crim (Old Crim) have reported seeing the rockets launched from this location.

In the following video the direction/ trajectory of the missiles is shown based on which side of the buildings the missiles actually hit during the strikes.

The missile trajectory agrees with the eyewitness account. The missile launch is from Ukrainian territory, originating in the direction of Starri Crim.

In an attempt to gain media dominance, Arsenii Yatsenyuk “Yatzi” is asking the UN to discuss the Ukrainian version of the Mariupol massacre. His problem is people that lived through this are talking.

Poroshenko has been attempting to fabricate a situation like this since his government ordered the rocket strike and subsequent mining of the bus at Volnovaha a little over one week ago. These types of military strikes can not happen without the orders to carry them out. In a criminal court it is the chain of command that bears responsibility.

These tweets from the day before the attack and the strong Ukrainian Nationalist background of Alex Shyl stating openly that an attack on Mariupol was imminent implicate the Ukrainian government further. I haven’t found much more on his profile but when all your friends name their own profiles in honor of Sasha Biliy, its says quite a lot by itself.

Alex Shyl January 22 # Mariupol waiting and APU strike tomorrow so that # Donetsk today seem toy. The separatists screwed ((((

# boss, of course sorry for the people, but tomorrow it will be all … Strike # Volnovaha. # Mariupol. # Donetsk will schoke, but wait until tomorrow (((

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Donetsk Bus Attack

The bus and trolley attack in Donetsk by the Ukrainian army happened as they were forced to retreat and admit they lost Donetsk airport. Over 500 Ukrainian soldiers were killed in the fighting. The DNR army is showing large caches of American made weapons and technology including observation drones.

Like Poroshenko’s attack on Volonovaha, the OSCE clearly shows the direction of the attack came from a Ukrainian position. At Volonovaha the bus driver confirmed the OSCE’s forensics by locating the direction to the north (from his left) and not north-east (straight along the road [direction of DNR artillery]). Human Rights Watch has been documenting Poroshenko’s crimes against humanity since May.

Is It Time to Draw Conclusions?

The governments of the EU and US have been staunchly supporting Poroshenko and the nationalists in Kiev this entire time. Regardless of the crimes committed, spokeswomen for the administration Marie Harf and Jen Psaki have stated President Obama’s unwavering support for the nazi junta.

If the democratic governments of the western world can call Poroshenko’s policies of rape, torture, and murder lawful, the question is not what do they think about Kiev or human rights in Eastern Europe. The real question is; If your government supports crimes against humanity in Donbas as Kiev’s right- What does your government really think about YOU?

Posted in Politics / World News | 12 Comments

Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News Portrays Ukraine’s ‘Far Right’ as ‘Heroes’

Eric Zuesse

On January 22nd, Rupert Murdoch’s Sky News (Murdoch founded it, his son James headed it for a while, and their 21st Century Fox owns “a controlling stake” in it) telecast a puff-piece for Ukraine’s right-wing extremists, several times calling them “heroes” to “patriotic” Ukrainians. This segment of their documentary series “Ross Kemp: Extreme World,” was titled “Ukraine: The Rise of The Right.” In it, Ukraine’s “far right” are described as being patriots who are protecting all of Ukraine from a Russian invasion, and who are therefore being increasingly admired by Ukrainians. It says: “The ultras [ultra-rightists] are actually patriotic young people who are ready to fight — not only on the Maidan, but also at the war for our land. … These men — seen now by many as heroes — are fighting for the Azov Battalion in Mariupol, Maryinka and Iliovaisk.”

The message is that whereas these far-rightists were previously despised, they now are widely respected: “Just a few years ago they were on the fringes of society — shunned for their violent behaviour and xenophobic beliefs, but since the 2014 Maidan revolution — and the subsequent fighting against pro-Russian groups — their popularity has grown.”

In the segment here, the presenter, Ross Kemp, says, at 15:25, that, Ukraine “faces the threat of a full-scale Russian invasion. NATO has called the crisis in Ukraine, the biggest threat to European security since World War Two. Amidst this chaos, volunteer far-right battalions have put up some of the strongest resistance.” He then notes that the city of Mariupol in Ukraine’s southeast “is currently being defended by a right-wing militia called the Azov Battalion.”

At 17:55, Kemp refers to “occupied Crimea,” as if Crimea (which had been part of Russia from 1783 to 1954, and where far more of the residents still considered themselves to be “Russian” than “Ukrainian”) had been seized by Russian troops, instead of Crimea having been protected against invasion of troops from the new Ukrainian Government immediately after the February 22nd coup in which Obama had seized control over Ukraine’s Government, by the use of paid mercenaries (‘volunteers’) from the nazi Right Sector, who were headed by Dmitriy Yarosh, and by other racist mercenaries, some from outside Ukraine.

Ross Kemp is then in Mariupol, where he says: “Just to give you an idea of how vulnerable this city is, in the distance is Russia, all the way along there [and he points at the supposedly feared Russia]. … In May of 2014, Mariupol was one of several cities seized by pro-Russia separatists. … How did a predominantly far-right militia [Azov] end up defending one of Ukraine’s most important cities? … The fight to defend Mariupol has made the [Azov] Battalion specialists in urban warfare. The majority are ordinary Ukrainians united by a sense of patriotism [he doesn’t say ‘nationalism,’ but ‘patriotism,’ so as to give it an attractive odor].”

He also doesn’t deny that “some” of the Azov fighters are White-supremacists (they make it too obvious). At 20:25, he says: “But there’s an altogether darker ideology that unites some Azov members.” A swastika is shown; then an Azov fighter is interviewed saying, ‘’’It’s a war with Russia.’” The idea Rupert Murdoch’s man Kemp wants to convey here is that these fighters are “patriots,” who are “volunteering” to “defend” Ukraine against “pro-Russians” and against “Russian troops” (he uses that phrase though there’s actually no sign of any of those). He ignores that Obama’s team had taken over Ukraine during a coup which was long in the planning and which used the public “Maidan” anti-corruption demonstrations as merely a ‘democratic’ PR backdrop. In fact, here is the U.S. State Department’s Victoria Nuland, telling the U.S. Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, on 4 February 2014, whom he is to place at the top of the post-coup Government; and, when the coup occurred, this “Yats” was indeed the person who became appointed 22 days later. No hint of such background is given in Rupert Murdoch’s ‘news’ (propaganda) report.

At 30:20, Ross Kemp says: “Since February of 2014, Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian separatists have been locked in a bloody battle for control of towns in the east. [Actually, the civil war had started not in February 2014, such as he says, but on 9 May 2014. The Obama coup had occurred in February 2014, overthrowing the Ukrainian President, Viktor Yanukovych, for whom more than 70% of the residents in southeastern Ukraine had voted; and the civil war didn’t start till May because it wasn’t clear till May that the newly installed Government wanted the residents in the southeast to die or else to flee to Russia — to be gone from Ukraine. Obama didn’t want them voting in any future Ukrainian national elections, because that would jeopardize the lasting-power of his coup-Government.] This is the town hall of Mariupol. Five months ago, Russian separatists stormed this building. … The Russian supporters were made to leave, but when they did, they torched it.” [He’s there trying to convey the idea that “Russian supporters” had torched the town hall in Mariupol. But, actually, it wasn’t the “town hall”; it was the police station; and there’s no indication that the locals had torched it. Instead: On 9 May 2014, which is the very day that Ukraine’s civil war started throughout southeastern Ukraine (in response to the May 2nd massacre in Odessa), the local police force refused to take commands from the invading Ukrainian Government troops of western Ukraine, who were then entering Mariupol to take the city over. Anti-coup people entered the building in order to occupy it, and a battle ensued between the Kiev troops and the Mariupol locals. The locals were driven out by Ukraine’s military; and the police station was torched, but no one knows by whom. Here is video of the police station on fire, on 9 May 2014. Here is a detailed description and another actual video of the burning; and the description that’s given, which comes from a resident there, makes clear that the invading troops burned the building down because the local police refused to accept the authority of the newly imposed Government. But the “town hall” also had been involved in Ukraine’s invasion. Here is a Reuters article on 7 May 2014, reporting that “Ukrainian forces seized the rebel-held city hall in the eastern port city of Mariupol overnight, driving out pro-Russian activists, then withdrew, making no attempt to hold onto the building, witnesses said. …. Witnesses said the soldiers left after smashing furniture and office equipment.” Maybe they burned it later. The vandals were the haters — the very people whom Ross Kemp so obviously admires. In any case, what Kemp is saying about the event is almost certainly false. He pretends to be a videographer, but his video presents no evidence — merely assertions by Ukrainian Government officials and soldiers.]

Here and here and here are how what Kemp fearsomely calls the “pro-Russian separatists” (or, as Reuters had referred to them, ‘activists’) in Mariupol first encountered the Obama-coup-regime’s troops, as those troops invaded Mariupol slaughtering residents on 9 May 2014. And here is what had happened at the largest southeastern city, Donetsk, just three days earlier, on May 6th. That Donetsk video refers to the Ukrainian oligarch or aristocrat Kolomoysky. He was the man who had financed the massacre on May 2nd of entirely peaceful anti-coup demonstrators in Odessa — the massacre that had actually caused the people in the other rejectionist cities to become separatists. It caused some southeastern areas to go all the way to refusing to accept the Obama-installed coup-government at Kiev, and to establish instead their own independent nation, in order to protect themselves from the (it had by then become blatantly clear) rabidly anti-Russian racist-fascists, or nazis, whom Obama had placed into power in Kiev. Obama needed the May 2nd massacre in order to terrorize the people in the southeast so as to cause them to form their own government to protect themselves from it, thus enabling the ‘legitimate’ Government (the one that Obama had just installed in his actually illegal coup) to call them ‘Terrorists’ and so to have an excuse to bomb and drive them out, so as to eliminate the residents in the pro-Yanukovych area, so that no similar Ukrainian President would ever again be able to be elected by voters in Ukraine. This was essential in order to get Obama’s imposed illegal nazi Government to stick, to last. Kolomoysky was an ally, and an employer of the family and friends, of key people in the Obama Administration, and all of them could benefit enormously from killing and driving out lots of residents in the heavily-pro-Yanukovych southeastern portion of Ukraine.

At 31:30, Ross Kemp says: “After months of attacks, Kalinovka [he pronounced it ‘Kalikovka’] is a ghost town. All of the houses have been abandoned here.” He doesn’t even care to mention why the surviving residents had left: Ukraine’s troops had been shelling, bombing, and shooting at them, so survivors fled into the separatist-controlled area, or else into Russia.

At 33.00, he’s at the border heading into Donbass (the separatist-controlled region), and is told by the nazi troops to go back from whence he came, because press presence might draw fire from pro-Russian snipers just beyond that demarcation-line — which is just a lie, but the sucker or propagandist apparently took everything that these fascists told him as being the gospel truth, and he was basically a mere video stenographer for these nazis anyway, not a real journalist (who questions everything).

So: Ross Kemp went back to Mariupol. He didn’t even care to get the opponents’ side of this war. The nazis told him to go back to Mariupol, so he did. This is Rupert Murdoch’s ‘news’ operation: one-sided ‘news’ only. (Any intelligent person who watched the ‘documentary’ up to that point, had to recognize by now that this was really no ‘news report’ at all, but pure war-propaganda. Even if that fact hadn’t become blatant before, it now became blatant.)

At 39.00, Kemp says: “The city [Mariupol] formed its own militia because of the threat posed by Russian separatists and, the Russian Federation.” An interviewed Ukrainian official, a woman, tells him that “Russian troops … systematically destroyed” the city. She calls herself a “nationalist.” No evidence is presented — and none is asked for — to support her “Russian troops” allegation. He just accepts everything she tells him.

At 41.30, he says: “You can see why regiments like the Azov Battalion and other far-right battalions are gaining support here. Because they’re volunteers who are making the ultimate sacrifice to defend the city. And so people here are rallying to their cause.” Actually, most of the “people here” must both hate and fear the nazis. The residents know that they’ll be killed if they express any support whatsoever for the anti-coup, or anti-‘Maidan,’ side. To a ‘reporter’ like Kemp, it makes no difference what the reality of or for the residents there is.

In other words: This documentary by Rupert Murdoch’s Sky ‘News’ is just pro-nazi propaganda, which conflates “nationalism” with patriotism, and which presents nazis as being heroes, instead of as being the rabid anti-democratic bigots that they actually are.

The Obama-installed coup-government was assigned by Obama, and by the IMF, to exterminate as many of the residents in the Donbass region of southeast Ukraine as possible, because 90% of these residents had voted for the very man, Viktor Yanukovych, whom Obama’s nazis overthrew on 22 February 2014. (The dark purple region on that map, in the far east of Ukraine, is the area that had voted at least 90% for Yanukovych; and it’s the area that broke away from Ukraine in May 2014 and is being bombed by Obama’s Ukrainian forces. That area was traditionally called “Donbass,” but many of its inhabitants now call themselves “Novorossiyans,” or new Russians, because they want to be part of Russia, which their region used to be part of.) So, this Government sent these nazis in, to finish the job, for Obama and for their own oligarchs.

Do the viewers of Sky ‘News’ want to know any of that background? Apparently not — after all, they are viewers of Sky ‘News.’ They are fascists, and many of them are like Obama’s team: they are nazis — racist fascists. (Most of those viewers probably just call themselves “conservative.” Of course, they won’t acknowledge that Obama too is “conservative.”)

That video was called “Part 2” of Kemp’s propaganda-film about how heroic Ukraine’s nazis are. Here is “Episode 1” (or “Part 1,” as alternatively tagged). Most of it is actually the same video and text, except organized differently (placing the emphasis upon the failure of the post-coup Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to be sufficiently nazi to satisfy these ‘patriots’).

Here is a bit of the relevant historical background that Murdoch’s operation decided to hide from both versions: “The Nazis Even Hitler Was Afraid Of.”

And here is the current geopolitical context of Obama’s February 2014 take-over of Ukraine.

Ironically, the view that the rightist oligarch Murdoch is spreading — that Putin is the aggressor in this war and that Obama is not — is exactly the same view that the leftist oligarch George Soros is spreading about it. In fact (as can be seen from Soros’s many statements and actions there), both of those Western oligarchs are remarkably similar, and Soros could as well have hired the people who hired Ross Kemp as Murdoch did. Kemp’s ‘documentary’ is 100% in line with Soros’s many essays about the situation in Ukraine. The biggest difference between these two aristocrats is that they’re in different lines of business — different rackets. (Here is a partial list of the companies that Murdoch controls. Soros is instead an investor and a ‘philanthropist.’)

DISCUSSION

When ‘right’ and ‘left’ merge and become one, at nazi (i.e., racist-fascist), such as does occur in the top aristocratic circle (especially regarding Ukraine), then what authentic meaning remains to standard political debate? What does the public then know of ‘democracy’? How is democracy then even possible? It’s not. (And that linked-to scientific study, specifically of the U.S., proves that the U.S. is not a democracy. But this problem is far broader than merely the U.S.)

Perhaps wealth-inequality is getting to be so extreme as to close out even the possibility of democracy. Let’s not fool ourselves about how big the challenge is; it’s enormous:

On 9 October 2013, Credit Suisse issued their Global Wealth Report 2013, authored by Anthony Shorrocks, Jim Davies, and Rodrigo Lluberasis. It reported that the world’s richest 0.7% owned 13.67 times as much as did the world’s poorest 68.7%. That super-rich 0.7% (each with net-worths above $50,000,000) owned 41% of this planet’s private assets. The world’s richest 8.4% owned 83.3%. The world’s richest 31.3% owned 97%. So: the bottom 68.7% owned just 3%. (All of these findings are calculated from the data shown on page 22.) Overall, the share of global wealth was “barely 1% for the bottom half of all adults” worldwide (see page 4). Furthermore, economic mobility into and out of the billionaire class, during the latest ten-year period (2000-2010), was low: only 24% entered or left the class during the decade (see page 28).

According to Vilfredo Pareto, who was the father of today’s ‘welfare’ economics and also the “Karl Marx of fascism” (and also Benito Mussolini’s personal teacher), there is no rational basis for economists to consider any of this extreme wealth-inequality to be sub-“optimal.”

No wonder aristocrats favor such a ‘free market’ (and such an economic theory).

But it won’t do Ukrainians any good, and it’s slaughtering the people in Donbass. However, any of that richest 0.7% who care enough, one way or the other, about what’s happening there, are promoting the nazis, who are doing those aristocrats’ dirty-work, regardless of whether nazi bigots are aware of the fact, or even care whom they’re actually serving, or why. Any of those nazis who are in the bottom 68.7% of the world’s wealth-pyramid — the people who collectively own just 3% of the world’s private wealth — are probably driven more by their hatred than by their greed, anyway. They’re like sleepwalkers, or robots. Push their psychological buttons, and they’re on, “for the cause.” True-believers, in some Big Lie or other. And, so, they ‘volunteer’ their services far cheaper than do people who actually care. (Most of their payment comes to them in the form of the personal pride they get, for their race and nation. It doesn’t come out of any aristocrat’s hide.) In that sense, they value themselves appropriately: dirt-cheap. (Of course, they don’t understand this.) They’re a bargain for their unrecognized masters, who push true-believers’ buttons by hiring propagandists such as Ross Kemp.

But, as for the residents in Donbass: these people are total victims in all of this.

—————

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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“We murdered some folks” in Guantanamo

Murder at Camp Delta is a new book by Joseph Hickman, a former guard at Guantanamo. It’s neither fiction nor speculation. When President Obama says “We tortured some folks,” Hickman provides at least three cases — in addition to many others we know about from secret sites around the world — in which the statement needs to be modified to “We murdered some folks.” Of course, murder is supposed to be acceptable in war (and in whatever you call what Obama does with drones) while torture is supposed to be, or used to be, a scandal. But what about tortures to death? What about deadly human experimentation? Does that have a Nazi enough ring to disturb anyone?

We should be able to answer that question soon, at least for that segment of the population that searches aggressively for news or actually — I’m not making this up — reads books. Murder at Camp Delta is a book of, by, and for true believers in patriotism and militarism. You can start out viewing Dick Cheney as a leftist and never be offended by this book, unless documented facts that the author himself was deeply disturbed to discover offend you. The first line of the book is “I am a patriotic American.” The author never retracts it. Following a riot at Guantanamo, which he led the suppression of, he observes:

“As much as I blamed the inmates for the riot, I respected how hard they’d fought. They were ready to fight nearly to the death. If we had been running a good detention facility, I would have thought they were motivated by strong religious or political ideals. The sad truth was that they probably fought so hard because our poor facilities and shabby treatment had pushed them beyond normal human limits. Their motivation might not have been radical Islam at all but the simple fact that they had nothing to live for and nothing left to lose.”

As far as I know, Hickman has not yet applied the same logic to debunking the absurd pretense that people fight back in Afghanistan or Iraq because their religion is murderous or because they hate us for our freedoms. Hickman will be a guest on Talk Nation Radio soon, so perhaps I’ll ask him. But first I’ll thank him. And not for his “service.” For his book.

He describes a hideous death camp in which guards were trained to view the prisoners as sub-human and much greater care was taken to protect the well-being of iguanas than homo sapiens. Chaos was the norm, and physical abuse of the prisoners was standard.  Col. Mike Bumgarner made it a top priority that everyone stand in formation when he entered his office in the morning to the sounds of Beethoven’s Fifth or “Bad Boys.” Hickman relates that certain vans were permitted to drive in and out of the camp uninspected, making a mockery of elaborate attempts at security. He didn’t know the reasoning behind this until he happened to discover a secret camp not included on any maps, a place he called Camp No but the CIA called Penny Lane.

To make things worse at Guantanamo would require a particular sort of idiocy that apparently Admiral Harry Harris possessed. He began blasting the Star Spangled Banner into the prisoners’ cages, which predictably resulted in the guards abusing prisoners who did not stand and pretend to worship the U.S. flag. Tensions and violence rose. When Hickman was called on to lead an assault on prisoners who would not allow their Korans to be searched, he proposed that a Muslim interpreter do the searching. Bumgarner and gang had never thought of that, and it worked like a charm. But the aforementioned riot took place in another part of the prison where Harris rejected the interpreter idea; and the lies that the military told the media about the riot had an impact on Hickman’s view of things. So did the media’s willingness to lap up absurd and unsubstantiated lies: “Half the reporters covering the military should have just enlisted; they seemed even more eager to believe the things our commanders said than we did.”

After the riot, some of the prisoners went on hunger strike. On June 9, 2006, during the hunger strike, Hickman was in charge of guards on watch from towers, etc., overseeing the camp that night. He and every other guard observed that, just as the Navy Criminal Investigative Service report on the matter would later say, some prisoners were taken out of their cells. In fact, the van that took prisoners to Penny Lane took three prisoners, on three trips, out of their camp. Hickman watched each prisoner being loaded into the van, and the third time he followed the van far enough to see that it was headed to Penny Lane. He later observed the van return and back up to the medical facilities, where a friend of his informed him that three bodies were brought in with socks or rags stuffed down their throats.

Bumgarner gathered staff together and told them three prisoners had committed suicide by stuffing rags down their own throats in their cells, but that the media would report it a different way. Everyone was strictly forbidden to say a word. The next morning the media reported, as instructed, that the three men had hung themselves in their cells. The military called these “suicides” a “coordinated protest” and an act of “asymmetrical warfare.” Even James Risen, in his role as New York Times stenographer, conveyed this nonsense to the public. No reporter or editor apparently thought it useful to ask how prisoners could have possibly hung themselves in open cages in which they are always visible; how they could have acquired enough sheets and other materials to supposedly create dummies of themselves; how they could have gone unnoticed for at least two hours; how in fact they had supposedly bound their own ankles and wrists, gagged themselves, put on face masks, and then all hanged themselves simultaneously; why there were no videos or photos; why no guards were disciplined or even questioned for ensuing reports; why supposedly radically lax and preferential treatment had been given to three prisoners who were on hunger strike; how the corpses had supposedly suffered rigor mortis faster than is physically possible, etc.

Three months after Hickman returned to the U.S. he heard on the news of another very similar “suicide” at Guantanamo. Who could Hickman turn to with what he knew? He found a law professor named Mark Denbeaux at the Seton Hall University Law School’s Center for Policy and Research. With his, and his colleagues’, help Hickman tried reporting the matter through proper channels. Obama’s Justice Department, NBC, ABC, and 60 Minutes all expressed interest, were told the facts, and refused to do a thing about it. But Scott Horton wrote it up in Harpers, which Keith Olbermann reported on but the rest of the corporate media ignored.

Hickman and Seton Hall researchers found out that the CIA had been administering huge doses of a drug called mefloquine to prisoners, including the three killed, which an army doctor told Hickman would induce terror and amounted to “psychological waterboarding.” Over at Truthout.org Jason Leopold and Jeffrey Kaye reported that every new arrival at Guantanamo was given mefloquine, supposedly for malaria, but it was only given to every prisoner, never to a single guard or to any third-country staff people from countries with high risk of malaria, and never to the Haitian refugees housed at Guantanamo in 1991 and 1992. Hickman had begun his “service” at Guantanamo believing the prisoners were “the worst of the worst,” but had since learned that at least most of them were nothing of the sort, having been picked up for bounties with little knowledge of what they’d done. Why, he wondered,

“were men of little or no value kept under these conditions, and even repeatedly interrogated, months or years after they’d been taken into custody? Even if they’d had any intelligence when they came in, what relevance would it have years later? . . . One answer seemed to lie in the description that Major Generals [Michael] Dunlavey and [Geoffrey] Miller both applied to Gitmo. They called it ‘America’s battle lab.'”

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Barry McDaniel and 15 Reasons to Investigate Stratesec

Kevin Ryan blogs at Dig Within.

One of the men who led Stratesec, the World Trade Center (WTC) security company, has recently resurfaced on some small business websites. This is Barry McDaniel, the U.S. military executive who served as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for Stratesec from 1996 until 2002 and then briefly became the company’s CEO. The new websites provide rare photos of McDaniel and an opportunity to review some of the many reasons why he and his Stratesec partner Wirt D. Walker should be investigated for the crimes of 9/11.

Barry2Although McDaniel has been largely overlooked by investigators, Walker has been the focus of much investigation due to inquiries into his familial relationship to George W. Bush. The familial relationship is distant, unlike for Stratesec director Marvin Bush—brother to George W. and Jeb, but Walker’s background reveals many deep state connections.

Despite playing a central role in security for 9/11-related facilities, Stratesec was not investigated at all by U.S. authorities after 9/11. The company was a subsidiary of the Kuwait-American Company (KuwAm), foreign-owned and led by Walker and a young member of the Kuwaiti royal family. As described in my book Another Nineteen, there are many reasons to consider Stratesec, KuwAm, and their leaders as suspects in the crimes of 9/11. Here are a few.

  1. Stratesec had unparalleled access to several of the facilities that were central to the events of 9/11. The company had pre-9/11 security contracts with the WTC complex, United Airlines, which owned two of the planes that were destroyed on 9/11, and Dulles Airport where American Airlines Flight 77 took off.
  1. KuwAm was linked through its directors to the terrorist network BCCI. One of KuwAm’s principal directors, Hamzah Behbehani, came to the company after working for a BCCI partner bank from 1986 until BCCI was shut down. Furthermore, KuwAm was ostensibly funded by Kuwaiti royalty, which had significant BCCI connections. The chairman of Kuwait Airways, the state airline, was Faisal al-Fulaij, BCCI’s principal nominee. Al-Fulaij was deeply involved in the operations of BCCI and its U.S. subsidiaries. Kuwait’s Finance and Oil minister was Abdul Rahman Al-Atiqi, a major investor in BCCI.
  1. Stratesec held its annual company meetings in office space leased by the governments of Kuwait and Saudi Arabia, both of which benefited from the response to 9/11. The offices were at the infamous Watergate Hotel in Washington, DC.
  1. Wirt Walker’s activities ran parallel to those of two known CIA operatives—Ted Shackley and Robert Sensi. All three men had unusual business relationships with Kuwaiti royalty and were involved in aviation and security operations. Like Walker, Sensi had an address in Oklahoma City.
  1. McDaniel had expertise in the acquisition and distribution of military ordnance. He had worked for the D.O.D. as the Deputy Director for Readiness at the U.S. Army Material Command where he was responsible for procuring and fielding all of the weapons systems for the Army. This background made him well suited to the job of acquiring and distributing explosive materials.
  1. McDaniel had links to the Iran-Contra crimes and to companies that conducted covert operations, like Sears World Trade and The Vinnell Corporation.
  1. The timing of McDaniel’s unusual career move to become COO at Stratesec matched the timing of work at the WTC that provided opportunities to plant demolition-related devices. The fireproofing upgrade project began in 1996, when McDaniel arrived, and was ongoing at the time of the 9/11 attacks. The floors of impact had just been completed shortly before the attacks.
  1. At the WTC, Stratesec focused on electronic badging, security gates, and the closed circuit video systems (CCTV). These security controls could therefore have been set-up to be bypassed as needed.
  1. At Dulles Airport, Stratesec had managed airfield access and electronic badging, as well as the security video system that later provided unique and critical evidence implicating the alleged hijackers. The 9/11 Commission Report referenced the security videotape from Dulles in three separate footnotes. The Dulles video was used to implicate all of the accused Flight 77 hijackers. Neither Logan nor Newark airports had such security videotape evidence to provide— only Dulles.
  1. KuwAm and Stratesec were led by directors and investors who were linked to deep state entities and who benefited from the response to the 9/11 crimes.
  1. After Kuwait stopped funding Stratesec, the company’s primary stockholder was a shell company whose principals were convicted of money laundering and conspiracy. This was the company called ES Bankest that illegally transferred nearly 200 million dollars from a Portugese bank to various operations like Stratesec. ES Bankest’s owners, brothers Eduardo and Hector Orlansky, and their partners, were indicted shortly after Stratesec closed.
  1. A stock purchase made by Walker and his wife, the week of 9/11, was flagged by the SEC as suspected 9/11 insider trading. Walker and his wife were never investigated, or even questioned.
  1. KuwAm’s subsidiaries, including all three aviation companies and Stratesec, went bankrupt shortly after 9/11 and there are reasons to believe that they were fronts for covert operations. These reasons include some of the facts described above and that these companies were always able to maintain strong cash flow despite dismal business performance. They appeared to close only because Kuwaiti government funding dried up after 9/11.
  1. KuwAm’s three aviation companies were operationally located in the same Oklahoma City offices—in the same isolated airport hangar—that have since been occupied by Zacarias Moussaoui’s flight trainer.
  1. After 9/11, McDaniel started a “defense solutions” and police state equipment company with Dick Cheney’s old partner Bruce Bradley. When independent investigators revealed that remarkable association, the company’s website was taken down.

Considering these things, it’s a good idea for investigators to remain alert to the activities of Walker, McDaniel, and their associates. Photos of the elusive men are not really necessary and there are still no public photos available for Walker. But McDaniel’s face has finally made an appearance on the web, along with a few other details about his activities and associations.

McDaniel’s current colleagues are a noteworthy bunch with experience in hotspots around the world. They include Kallyan Chakravorty, a former officer in the Indian Army who lists Skylink Aviation on his resume. Skylink is a Canadian company that provides aviation services in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and Pakistan. It looks a like a CIA airline but is owned by a Libyan-Israeli named Walter Arbib.

The internet resume McDaniel uses today says that he has been “providing logistical service and construction solutions on most post conflict areas of the world including Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan and Kazakhstan.” He’s just a guy who happened to be the right person to put the security system together for the WTC before it came crashing to the ground, and just happened to have expertise in explosive ordnance. He also happens to be linked to the Iran-Contra crimes, and happened to be business partners with a close colleague of Dick Cheney. Or maybe there’s more to it than that.

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Distrust But Verify

What the U.S. government does openly is many times worse than anything it can be doing secretly, and yet the secrets fascinate us.

If you compare polling on majority views on most political topics with actual U.S. policy, there’s little overlap. Scholars now produce reports finding that the United States is an oligarchy. Most people don’t vote. Those who try to engage with U.S. politics get excited when the Democrats fall back into the minority and start pretending to favor popular policies again. People hope to find reflected bits of decency in official rhetoric during a two-year-long period of pretended governance that amounts to a public sales pitch and a private wink to the campaign funding overlords.

Our government openly subsidizes the destruction of our planet’s climate, openly allows corporations to pay negative taxes, openly redistributes wealth upward, openly funds a military as costly as the rest of the globe’s nations’ combined, openly serves as the marketing firm for the U.S. weapons that make up much of that other half of the globe’s armed forces, openly enacts corporate trade policies that ruin economies and the environment, openly denies us basic human services, openly prosecutes whistleblowers, openly restricts our civil liberties, openly murders large numbers of people with drone strikes. We can watch a police officer in New York choke a man to death on video and walk away without being prosecuted for any crime. We can watch the U.S. Congress take direction in promoting a new war from a foreign leader (tune in February 11 for the latest), and yet what goes on in secret obsesses us.

I don’t mean the lies that have been exposed, the false excuses for wars, the miscalculations, the “misplacement” of billions of dollars. I mean the human drama. It’s not enough to know that Obamacare is a grotesque and deadly monstrosity; we want to know about the insurance executives’ roles in writing it. It’s not enough to know that Iraq has been destroyed. We want to hear about the oil barons drawing up the plans with Dick Cheney. It’s not enough to know that a tragic crime was used to launch catastrophic wars, we want to know whether the crime was staged. We want to know who was behind every assassination, and every powerful bit of propaganda. We want to know whether each CIA operation can be explained by evil or incompetence. We’re like Mark Twain, who said, “Sometimes I wonder whether the world is being run by smart people who are putting us on, or by imbeciles who really mean it.”

This is what I wonder in looking at Operation Merlin, over which Jeffrey Sterling is now on trial as a whistleblower. Whether giving nuclear weapons plans to Iran can be explained by incompetence that surpasses my understanding or must be explained by evil, the U.S. government is openly trying to incarcerate a whistleblower who did his legal duty. I just happen to have read a book by Donald Jeffries called Hidden History: An Expose of Modern Crimes, Conspiracies, and Cover-ups in American Politics. I’ve been thinking over dozens of alleged conspiracies from the killing of President Kennedy to the supposed forging of Obama’s birth certificate. Some I think are real, others nonsense. The point is that I think there may be a hybrid solution. I may not have to choose incompetence or evil to explain the CIA giving nukes to Iran. I can choose incompetence combined with bureaucratic dysfunction combined with evil priorities.

If the CIA’s top priority was nuclear disarmament, it wouldn’t have tried, as it claims to have tried, to slow down an Iranian nuclear weapons program (if one existed, it didn’t know) by giving Iran nuclear plans. The CIA officers involved testified in court that they knew their action risked proliferating nuclear weapons technology. That also means that if their top priority had been obeying the law, they wouldn’t have created Operation Merlin. But if their top priority was being involved, appearing to be doing something important, and if they were risking an outcome that didn’t much worry them, Operation Merlin is exactly what they would have done — assuming gargantuan levels of incompetence. That is, if they didn’t much care if Iran got nukes, if they in fact thought it would be a pretty cool excuse to start a war if Iran could be shown to be working on nukes, well then, why the heck not find the most outlandishly stupid and illegal way in which to try to slow Iran down — a way that could very well speed Iran up?

This same hybrid explanation applies to other mysteries as well, of course. If the U.S. government’s top priority had been preventing a crime like 911, it would have stopped bombing and occupying Muslim nations, adopted an approach of cooperation and generosity with the world, and invested at least a wee bit of effort into preventing the crime, especially when the president was handed a memo warning about it and when his top advisor was shouting about the need.  But if the people running the U.S. government didn’t really give much of a damn about preventing such a crime, and if they in fact thought it would be just about the only way to get new wars started, well then, they would have done at least what we know them to have done and perhaps more that we could learn from a proper investigation.  Part incompetent, part evil — how evil, we don’t know. But we don’t need to conclude that the hijackers didn’t exist or a missile hit the Pentagon or the World Trade Center was blown up from within to achieve a satisfactory explanation. All such things could coexist with this theory, but they’re not needed.

What argues against such explanations of unknown government misdeeds is not the degree of evilness. Remember, we’re talking about a government that has used 911 as an excuse to destroy whole countries and kill upwards of a million human beings. Blowing up a couple of buildings is perfectly acceptable to most people who would launch wars. The exception is anyone whose sincere nationalism actually makes them value U.S. lives while considering non-U.S. lives to be worthless. But, remember, we’re talking about the U.S. government. They send U.S. troops off to kill and die in the process of slaughtering the foreigners. They allow millions in the U.S. to die for lack of basic services while they dump funding into war preparations. Dick Cheney contemplated a proposal to stage a shooting of U.S. troops disguised as Iranians. The Joint Chiefs of Staff approved Operation Northwoods, which would have murdered Americans to frame Cuba. At question is not level of evil, but particular level of competent engagement in particular acts of evil.

Jeffries’ book mixes a half century of well-documented crimes with pure speculation. I don’t think the inclusion in a book of dubious conspiracies should hurt the inclusion of likely ones. If we aren’t open to questioning everything, we’ll miss lots of things. But it’s simply not possible that every unusual plane crash over a period of decades has been an assassination. At least one or two of them must have been accidents. That Jeffries throws in completely random silliness, such as that Janet Reno was rumored to be gay (so what?) or that a couple killed on 911 had been married at the Vatican (gasp!), or that he thinks the Institute for Policy Studies is part of the elite establishment, doesn’t mean that Lee Harvey Oswald actually killed Kennedy. I think we have to look at every case seriously and go where the evidence leads. I think that our approach should be: Distrust but verify. Begin with the assumption that the government is lying, and see if it can prove itself honest.

When I read that Karl Rove views religion as a useful tool for manipulating the gullible or that Bill Clinton had a seat on a jet known for providing sex with underage girls, I don’t think such gossip is as significant as trade, energy, and war policies that will result in millions of deaths. But I don’t think the public interest in such stories is completely beside the point either. “Whether important policy decisions are made at Bohemian Grove or not,” writes Jeffries, “it is at the very least disturbing to know that our leaders are gathering together to worship a massive owl, dress in robes, and recite occult incantations.” Is it? We just had a president who openly said God had told him to attack Afghanistan and Iraq. Who cares if he worships an owl, unless it was the owl who told him that? But it is disturbing because of the secrecy. Politicians who will pretend they want to end wars or tax billionaires whenever they’re in the minority and in no danger of actually doing it are politicians with contempt for you and me; they are people who believe they are above us and can, like Henry V, make their own laws. Of course Michael Hastings’ death could have been an accident, but to assume so, and to suggest that investigating it as a murder would be loony is to demonstrate a remarkable ignorance of history.  Recently, with each new FBI terror plot foiled and celebrated, I’ve assumed it would be shown to have been a case of entrapment in which the FBI encouraged the crime before preventing it. In each case, I’ve been right. That doesn’t mean that tomorrow the FBI won’t capture a terrorist it had nothing to do with creating; it just means: Distrust but verify.

Distrusting may have started with Kennedy’s assassination, even if the need for distrusting today can be advanced further through an honest retelling of Pearl Harbor, and myths of losing innocence ought by all rights to go back to the genocide of the Native Americans if not to the agricultural revolution. Hidden History is not where I think people should start reading about Kennedy (James Douglass’s book might be better). But I learned new things about Kennedy from Hidden History and think we should all consider Jeffries’ remark: “[O]nce I realized that the president of the United States could be killed in broad daylight, without a single high-ranking public official questioning what really happened, and without any supposed journalist having the slightest curiosity about the subject, I understood that anything was possible.”

Jeffries’ book roams chronologically through a long list of scandals. He briefly mentions numerous outrages that are not really in dispute: Northwoods, Tonkin, Mongoose, Mockingbird, MK-Ultra, Cointelpro,  Fred Hampton, etc., etc. He focuses at greater length on a smaller number of possible conspiracies, providing good summaries of what’s known about the killing of JFK and RFK in particular. On Chappaquiddick he’s less convincing, on the October Surprise he’s vague and truly bizarre (but could have been completely convincing as I think the evidence is well established). He strays into economics and politics and general corruption, speculates on AIDS, Vince Foster, Oklahoma City, etc. His sections on JFK Jr. and on the Anthrax scare are of interest, I think.

Do the surveillance state and the proliferation of private cameras end these mysteries? Imagine Kennedy shot in Dallas today. The video footage would be voluminous, and it would be around the world on the internet before the blood dried. But imagine Abdulrahman al Awlaki’s killing today. Much of the world doesn’t have the same technology one could expect in Dallas. And imagine Eric Garner’s killing today. We have the video, but we’re told not to believe our lying eyes. What could end bad government — as well as misplaced suspicions of bad government — would be open government, including the elimination of secret agencies. And what could accomplish that would be if the public, including Jeffrey Sterling’s jury, assumed that anything the CIA said was more than likely a lie.

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Oil Dinosaurs Face Extinction: State Oil Companies and the Meteor-Strike of Low Oil Prices

State-owned oil companies that don’t slash expenses to align with revenues and boost critical investment in the infrastructure needed to maintain production will suffer financial extinction.

Domestic and international energy companies are responding to the 50% decline in the price of oil by doing what’s necessary to remain in business: they’re slashing payroll, postponing capital investments, delaying new projects and soliciting price cuts from suppliers and subcontractors.

This is the discipline of profit-driven capitalism: if expenses exceed revenues, profits vanish, losses pile up, capital contracts and eventually the company runs out of cash (and access to credit) and closes down.

Unfortunately for state-owned oil companies, the feedback of expenses, losses and access to credit are superceded by the need to feed hordes of parasites: the state-owned company exists not to generate profits but to fund large payrolls and support state officials and cronies.

Stripped of the discipline of markets and profits, state-oil companies exist to serve the interests of the state’s Elites and their cronies and favored constituents. As a result, critical infrastructure has fallen into obsolescence, capital investments have been hollowed out and the expertise needed to maintain production has eroded.

The state-owned oil companies are like dinosaurs: the extinction meteor of low oil prices has smashed their ecosystem, and all they can do is watch the sky darken as revenues crater and expenses and debt remain at unsustainably high levels.

Case in point: the Brazilian state-run oil giant Petrobas is heavily in debt ($115 billion in 2013) and in danger of defaulting:

The firm has become one of the largest corporate borrowers in the world as it seeks to fund an investment program worth some $221 billion over the next five years, much of which is to develop huge oil fields that lie deep below Atlantic waters off the country’s southeast coastline.Brazilian state-run oil giant Petrobas faces threat of default on US$54 billion in debt:

Those efforts have turned Petrobras into the region’s most indebted company, with net debt of 268 billion Brazilian reais ($115 billion) at the end of 2013. That figure was 36% higher than at the end of 2012, in large part from depreciation of the Brazilian real against the dollar during 2013.

Brazil’s Petrobras May See Its Rating Downgraded

Moody’s Investors Service has placed Petrobras S.A.’s global foreign currency and local currency debt ratings on review for a possible downgrade. This would be the second time Petrobras’ debt ratings was downgraded by Moody’s after in October the oil giant’s debt ratings was downgraded from Baa1 to Baa2 stating that the company’s outlook remained negative.In March, before the corruption scandal broke, another risk ratings company, Standard & Poor’s cut Brazil’s debt rating to its lowest investment grade ‘due to the erosion of the country’s public accounts and slow economic growth.’

According to S&P the state-controlled oil company’s smaller projected liquidity and lower cash flow generation led to the downgrade.

Correspondent Mark G. explains the mechanics of the financial extinction process:

If Moody’s follows through then Petrobras will drop to Baa2, or two notches above junk. By the way, Rosneft is already at Baa2. And so is Lukoil. There are plenty of other Russian (and Brazilian) corporate debtors in this situation.

The question – which is almost completely political at this point – is what happens when Moody’s reduces its ratings on this BRICS paper to Ba1 and below where it belongs. i.e. Junkland.

1. There are plenty of US institutions that legally cannot hold this degraded paper in their portfolios after it drops to Ba1. Beginning with those perennial yield hogs, US based life insurance companies.

2. At this point hard-currency interest rates charged to the submerging market debtors will soar for rollover refinancing.

Thank you, Mark, for laying out the path to extinction. Hard-currency means the U.S. dollar (USD) in most cases, and as the currencies of oil exporting nations crater (see Russia, Nigeria, Brazil, et al.), the state-owned oil companies attempting to roll over debt or borrow enough to stave off insolvency are being hit with multiple meteors:declining currencies, ratings downgrades and plummeting revenues.

Companies that are being operated as going concerns are responding quickly and decisively to the meteor-strike of collapsing prices. State-owned oil companies that don’t slash expenses to align with revenues and boost critical investment in the infrastructure needed to maintain production will suffer financial extinction.

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