Monday, March 2, 2015

Nuclear waste on roof of Fukushima reactor flowing directly in ocean

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Japan Times, Feb 25, 2015 (emphasis added): Radioactive isotopes [have] been draining into the Pacific from the roof of the No. 2 reactor building, which is highly contaminated…. Meanwhile on Sunday, Tepco reported water contaminated with high levels of radiation was flowing into the ocean at the plant’s port.
Kyodo News, Feb 25, 2015: Highly toxic water leaks into ocean from Fukushima plant Highly radioactive rainwater [is] accumulating on the rooftop of the No. 2 reactor building… In a separate incident… highly contaminated water leaked into the nearby bay through a different gutter… The cause and the amount of water leakage remain unknown.
Reuters, Feb 25, 2015: [TEPCO believes] a pool of highly contaminated water on the roof [is coming from] gravel and blocks laid on the roof of the building… it plans to remove them by the end of March.
Fairewinds Chief Engineer Arnie Gundersen on WDEV, Feb 24, 2015 (at 30:15 in): “The pressures got so high in the containment, it blew the top off the containment.”
IANS, Feb 25, 2015: [Tepco] announced having detected deposits of highly radioactive water on the roof of the plant’s reactor number 2. The liquid contained 29,400 becquerel per litre of radioactive caesium and 52,000 of strontium and other beta-ray emitting substances… [Tepco] decided against making the findings public until now as it did not have results of the analysis on the accumulated liquid’s radioactivity levels.
Newsweek, Feb 25, 2015: The fallout from the Fukushima disaster is far from over… Local commercial fishermen are reportedly outraged… “I don’t understand why [Tepco] kept silent… Fishery operators are absolutely shocked,” [said] Masakazu Yabuki, chief of the Iwaki fisheries cooperative… [The] plant has been plagued by a staggering number of accidents.
Xinhua, Feb 25, 2015: TEPCO blasted for concealing latest radioactive leak for nearly a year — [Fishermen blamed TEPCO] for knowingly allowing radioactive substances… to flow freely into the sea since April last year… this year [Prime Minister] Abe’s government announced that TEPCO would be the Main Sponsor for the Tokyo 2020 Olympics… local, national andinternational fury once again rises at [TEPCO]… [It's] the latest indication that the crisisat the plant is far from under control… Japan’s top government spokesperson reiterated the government’s long-standing mantra… “The situation is completely under control Any negative impact of radioactive water on the environment is completely blocked.”
NHK, Feb. 24, 2015: [TEPCO] did not take any measures to prevent radioactive water…flowing into the Pacific… TEPCO was aware… April last year [yet] has not installed floodgates [and] does not plan to install any devices in the channel.
NHK, Feb. 25, 2015: [R]adioactive substances spilled into the Pacific beyond the plant’s port… TEPCO knew last April [and] did nothing to prevent contaminated water fromleaking directly out to sea, nor did it make the finding public.
NHK, Feb. 25, 2015: Fishermen accuse TEPCO of betrayal… A TEPCO official… apologized.

Fukushima radiation spikes 7,000% as contaminated water pours into the ocean

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Cleanup crews trying to mitigate Japan's never-ending radiation crisis at Fukushima ran into more problems recently after sensors monitoring a drainage gutter detected a huge spike in radiation levels from wastewater pouring into the Pacific Ocean.

The Tokyo Electric Power Company says radiation levels were up to 70 times, or 7,000 percent, higher than normal, prompting an immediate shutdown of the drainage instrument. The first readings came around 10 a.m. local time on February 22, setting off alarms not once but twice as radiation levels spiked to extremely high levels.

"The levels of beta ray-emitting substances, such as strontium-90, measured 5,050 to 7,230 becquerels per liter of water between 10:20 a.m. and 10:50 a.m.," reported The Japan Times. "TEPCO requires radioactivity levels of groundwater at the plant discharged into the sea to remain below 5 becquerels."

TEPCO shut off leaky gutter, but radiation continued to spike throughout day

The gutter was quickly decommissioned to prevent further radiation emissions, but the leaks reportedly continued throughout the day, with radiation levels hovering between 10 and 20 times higher than normal. TEPCO says it doesn't know what caused the sudden radiation spikes.

"With emergency surveys of the plant and monitoring of other sensors, we have no reason to believe tanks storing radioactive waste water have leaked," stated a plant official to the media. "We have shut the gutter [from pouring water to the bay]. We are currently monitoring the sensors at the gutter and seeing the trend."

Multiple major leaks reported as Fukushima generates 400 tons of new radioactive waste daily

Just four days prior to the leak, the International Atomic Energy Agency congratulated TEPCO for its continued cleanup efforts at the Fukushima site. This is despite numerous other radiation leaks, some of them quite major, that have occurred in recent months at the shuttered facility.

Back in October 2013, for instance, a failed transfer of radioactive wastewater from one storage tank to another resulted in more than four tons of highly contaminated sludge being dumped into the ground. Not long before this, 300 tons of radioactive waste reportedly leaked from another nearby storage tank.

As we reported earlier in the month, a worker actually died after falling into a radioactive storage tank during a routine inspection. The 33-foot container that swallowed the man is one of many at the site that holds a portion of the 400 tons of highly radioactive water generated daily at Fukushima.

Fukushima workers build one new storage tank daily, but this can't go on forever

The Japan News reports that large storage tanks capable of holding up to 2,900 tons of contaminated water are constantly being built at the site, up to one new tank daily, in fact. At some point, though, other mitigatory measures will have to be implemented, as there's only so much space available to build more tanks.

According to The Ecologist, the Reactor 3 fuel storage pond also still contains upwards of 89 metric tons of plutonium-based, mixed-oxide fuel that, should the pond leak or dry up, could result in another major reactor meltdown. Reactor 3, as you may recall, experienced a full meltdown back in 2011 that resulted in the reactor core falling through the floor to the bottom of the containment vessel.

The chart at the following link, which was put together just days after the tsunami and earthquake hit Fukushima, provides a visual breakdown of radiation exposures from various sources. It can be used to quantify the threat associated with each respective leak:
Blog.XKCD.com.

Wisconsin Governor Walker, American workers and terrorism

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On three separate occasions in the past four days, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, one of the frontrunners for the Republican presidential nomination, has stressed the close connection between the struggle against the working class at home and Washington’s militarist policies internationally.
Linking the suppression of workers’ protests to the fight against terrorism, he has presented his success in defying mass demonstrations that broke out in 2011 in Wisconsin against his attacks on workers’ social and democratic rights as proof of his ability to take on and defeat ISIS.
Speaking Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in suburban Washington DC, Walker cited his experience in pushing through anti-worker legislation as proof of his fitness for the presidency. “If I could take on 100,000 protesters, I could do the same across the world,” he boasted, effectively comparing throngs of state workers and students to ISIS terrorists.
The next day, speaking before the Club for Growth, an assembly of billionaires and their political advisers meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, Walker returned to the theme. He declared that “the most significant foreign policy decision of my lifetime” was President Ronald Reagan’s smashing of the 1981 PATCO strike and mass firing of 11,000 air traffic controllers. “It sent a message not only across America, it sent a message around the world,” he said, that the Reagan administration was serious about confronting its enemies and “we weren’t to be messed with.”
Appearing two days later on “Fox News Sunday,” Walker repeated his claim that defeating public employee unions in Wisconsin was relevant to fighting ISIS terrorists, while pretending to disavow a direct comparison. “I want to make it clear right now. I’m not comparing those two entities,” he said, and then proceeded to do just that.
“What I meant was, it was about leadership,” he declared. “The leadership we provided under extremely difficult circumstances, arguably, the most difficult of any governor in the country.” He added that “if I were to run, and if I were to win and be commander-in-chief, I believe that kind of leadership is what’s necessary to take on radical Islamic terrorism.”
Walker’s initial statement at CPAC was widely described in the media as a gaffe. The problem, however, was not his implicit equation of working-class opposition with terrorist organizations that have been targeted for extermination, but rather his indiscretion in blurting out publicly what the US corporate-financial oligarchy thinks and discusses internally.
In the event, comparing public employees to ISIS terrorists has not disqualified Walker in the eyes of the media. If anything, it appears to have enhanced his stature as a serious presidential candidate.
This is certainly the case among the so-called “base” of the Republican Party that attended CPAC. Walker won the loudest ovations of any of the 13 potential candidates who addressed the group. In the CPAC straw poll, Walker vaulted from sixth place in 2014 to second place, with 21.4 percent of the vote, only narrowly behind Kentucky Senator Rand Paul.
Walker is not the first US political figure to equate the struggle against popular opposition at home with the wars waged by American imperialism overseas. In the American ruling elite, whether among Republicans or Democrats, there is less and less of a distinction made between domestic and foreign policy. The financial aristocracy increasingly sees itself besieged and compelled at home as well as abroad to resort to force and violence.
Events of the past several years demonstrate that for the American ruling class, the main enemy is at home: the jailing of protesters on terrorism charges, such as the “NATO Three”; the lockdown of Boston after the 2013 Marathon bombing; the militarized response to protests in Ferguson and other cities over police violence; the constant invocations of “home-grown” terrorism as the pretext for the dismantling of democratic rights and the buildup of a police state.
There has been comparatively little media attention given to Walker’s open linkage of suppressing strikes and protests at home with waging war for imperialist interests abroad. The television networks and national newspapers prefer to leave such discussions to in-house assemblies of the ultra-right and conclaves of the corporate elite.
There was one revealing commentary, however, posted by right-wing columnist Peggy Noonan, on the web site of the Wall Street Journal. Noonan, a White House speechwriter in the Reagan administration, responded to Walker’s invocation of the PATCO strike as a historic turning point that showed the Soviet Union Reagan’s determination to smash opposition to his policies.
She noted that the PATCO strike had a direct international dimension, since Canadian air traffic controllers carried out job actions in sympathy with their American colleagues and there was widespread support among European workers. The Reagan administration bullied the Canadian government to force a return to work.
Noonan then wrote: “Sen. Edward Kennedy and Lane Kirkland of the AFL CIO played helpful and constructive roles” in support of Reagan’s handling of the PATCO strike.
What Noonan noted in passing was a devastating admission, confirming what the Workers League, forerunner of the Socialist Equality Party, and our newspaper, theBulletin, explained throughout the 1981 strike: the outright hostility of both the Democratic Party and the AFL-CIO officialdom to the struggle of the 11,000 strikers, who had enormous support in the working class.
Kennedy had spearheaded the deregulation of the airline industry in the late 1970s and it was one of his aides, working in the Carter administration, who drew up the plans for strikebreaking and mass firings in the event of an air traffic controllers strike, eventually implemented under Reagan.
Kirkland played the central role in the AFL-CIO’s deliberate isolation of the strike. After a mass rally brought 500,000 workers to Washington on September 19, 1981, the biggest labor demonstration in US history, led by thousands of PATCO strikers, the unions shut down all support, blocked any solidarity strike action by airline or airport workers, and tacitly supported the jailing of strikers and the outlawing and destruction of PATCO.
It is critical that workers entering into struggle, such as the US oil refinery workers now in the second month of a bitter strike, carefully consider the significance of Walker’s statements as well as the record of the Obama administration in overseeing the buildup of the forces of state repression. The ruling class will stop at nothing to defeat the resistance of workers to its assault on living standards and social conditions. It recognizes in the working class its irreconcilable enemy.
The working class must respond with the same degree of consciousness, determination and ruthlessness.
The PATCO precedent remains of decisive importance today because the twin obstacles of the AFL-CIO and the Democratic Party remain the decisive barriers that the American working class must overcome in order to build a mass independent political movement that will challenge the profit system.

Saturday, February 28, 2015

US economy in deflation and slump

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The US Commerce Department said Friday that Gross Domestic Product, the broadest measure of economic output, grew by only 2.2 percent in the fourth quarter of last year, down from an earlier estimate of 2.6 percent and a sharp fall from earlier quarters.
This followed the announcement by the Labor Department on Thursday that consumer prices fell by 0.7 percent, the largest fall since December 2008. Over the past 12 months, prices have fallen by 0.1 percent, the first annual deflation figure posted since October 2009.
These figures belie official claims that the US is an economically healthy counterbalance to the overall slump and deflation that now encompasses most of the world. In fact, US economic growth, hampered by an enormous impoverishment of the working class in the years following the financial crisis, remains far below previous historical averages.
On Tuesday, Standard and Poor’s said that its Case-Shiller Index showed that home prices grew by 4.6 percent over the past year, the slowest housing price increase since 2011. “The housing recovery is faltering,” David Blitzer, chairman of the index committee at S&P Dow Jones, told the Los Angeles Times. “Before the recession, anytime housing starts were at their current level… the economy was in a recession.”
Meanwhile the number of people in the US newly filing for jobless benefits jumped by 31,000 to 313,000 last week, in the largest increase since December 2013, reflecting a series of mass layoffs and business closures announced this month.
On February 4, office supply retailer Staples announced plans to buy its rival Office Depot, which would result in the closure of up to a thousand stores and tens of thousands of layoffs. The next day, electronics retailer RadioShack filed for bankruptcy, saying it plans to close up to 3,500 stores.
Mass layoffs have also been announced at online marketplace eBay, credit card company American Express, the oilfield services companies Schlumberger and Baker Hughes, as well as the retailers J.C. Penney and Macy’s.
These disastrous economic developments come even as the Dow Jones Industrial Average hit an all-time record of 18,140 on Wednesday, though it retreated slightly later in the week. Worldwide, the FTSE All-World Index is near its highest level in history.
The rise in global stock indices reflects the satisfaction of global financial markets with the pledge by the Syriza-led Greek government to impose austerity measures dictated by the EU, as well as indications by Federal Reserve Chairwoman Janet Yellen in congressional testimony this week that the US central bank is likely to delay raising the federal funds rate in response to recent negative economic figures.
The US federal funds rate has been at essentially zero since the beginning of 2009. Together with the central bank’s multi-trillion-dollar “quantitative easing” program, this has helped to inflate a massive stock market bubble that has seen the NASDAQ triple in value since 2009.
This enormous growth in asset values has taken place despite the relatively depressed state of the US economy, which grew at an annual rate of 2.4 percent in 2014. During the entire economic “recovery” since 2010, the US economy has grown at an average rate of 2.2 percent. By comparison, the US economy grew at an average rate of 3.2 percent in the 1990s and 4.2 percent in the 1950s.
The ongoing stock market bubble has led to a vast enrichment of the financial elite: the number of billionaires in the US has nearly doubled since 2009. The financial oligarchy, however, has not used its ever-growing wealth for productive investment, as shown by the decline in business spending in the fourth quarter of last year. Instead, it has either hoarded it or used it to buy real estate, art and luxury goods.
On Thursday, Bloomberg reported that global sales of “ultra-premium” vehicles, costing $100,000 or more, surged by 154 percent, compared with a 36 percent increase in global vehicle sales overall. The report noted, “Rolls-Royce registrations have risen almost five-fold. Almost 10,000 new Bentleys cruised onto the streets last year, a 122 percent increase over 2009, while Lamborghini rode a 50 percent increase to pass the 2,000 vehicle mark.”
Meanwhile, the number of people in poverty in the US remains at record levels. In January, the Southern Education Foundation reported that, for the first time in at least half a century, low-income children make up the majority of students enrolled in American public schools.
To the extent that jobs are being created in the US, they are largely part-time, contingent and low-wage, replacing higher-wage jobs eliminated during the 2008 crash. A report published last year by the National Employment Law Project found that while American companies have added 1.85 million low-wage jobs since 2009, they have eliminated 1.83 million medium-wage and high-wage jobs.
Earlier this month, Jim Clifton, head of the Gallup polling agency, denounced claims that the US unemployment rate has returned to “normal” levels. “There’s no other way to say this,” he wrote. “The official unemployment rate, which cruelly overlooks the suffering of the long-term and often permanently unemployed as well as the depressingly underemployed, amounts to a Big Lie.”
“Gallup defines a good job as 30+ hours per week for an organization that provides a regular paycheck. Right now, the US is delivering at a staggeringly low rate of 44%, which is the number of full-time jobs as a percent of the adult population, 18 years and older.”
Clifton added, “I hear all the time that ‘unemployment is greatly reduced, but the people aren’t feeling it.’ When the media, talking heads, the White House and Wall Street start reporting the truth—the percent of Americans in good jobs; jobs that are full time and real—then we will quit wondering why Americans aren’t ‘feeling’ something that doesn’t remotely reflect the reality in their lives.”

“Jihadi John,” imperialism and ISIS

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On Thursday, the Washington Post revealed the identity of “Jihadi John,” the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) operative featured in grisly videos depicting the beheading of US journalists James Foley and Steven Sotloff, as well as two British aid workers, David Haines and Alan Henning.
The Post named the ISIS member as Mohammed Emwazi, a 26-year-old who was born in Kuwait and raised in London. He is described in a CNN report as “a Briton from a well-to-do family who grew up in West London and graduated from college with a degree in computer programming.”
The media reporting on this identification has been dominated by discussions of the psychology of terrorism and the role of Islamist ideology, along with speculation as to why someone from such a background would choose to engage in such barbaric acts.
All of these banalities are part of a campaign of deliberate obfuscation. Purposefully left in the shadows is the central revelation to accompany the identification of “Jihad John”—the fact that he was well known to British intelligence, which undoubtedly identified him as soon as his image and voice were first broadcast in ISIS videos.
Not only did Britain’s security service MI5 carefully track his movements, it carried out an active campaign to recruit him as an informant and covert agent. As the British daily Guardian put it Thursday, MI5 has “serious questions” to answer about its relations with Emwazi.
Chief among these questions is whether the intelligence agency was successful in its recruitment efforts. In other words, did Emwazi go to Syria with MI5’s foreknowledge and blessings?
If there is doubt as to whether Emwazi was recruited, it is clear that other ISIS jihadists have been. The BBC reported that British intelligence has refused to name Emwazi for “operational reasons.” It adds: “The practice by intelligence agencies of approaching jihadist sympathisers to work for them is likely to continue. It’s believed both Britain and the US have informers inside the Islamic State ‘capital’ of Raqqa. Yet this seems to have been little help in stopping the actions of Mohammed Emwazi, or bringing him to justice.”
At its heart, the case of “Jihadi John” is of significance because of what it says about the real relationship between Western imperialism and ISIS. In the final analysis, ISIS is a product of the interventions by Washington and its allies in the region.
Armed Islamist movements existed in neither Iraq nor Syria—nor, for that matter, in Libya—before US imperialism intervened to topple secular Arab governments in all three countries.
It is not only a matter of these movements emerging out of the mayhem, death and destruction unleashed by the US military and CIA in these countries at the cost of well over a million lives and wholesale social devastation.
Like Al Qaeda before it, ISIS is a creation of US and Western imperialism, unleashed upon the peoples of the region in pursuit of definite strategic aims. In Libya, Islamists now affiliated with ISIS provided the principal ground forces for the US-NATO war to topple Muammar Gaddafi. In Syria, ISIS, the Al Qaeda-affiliated Al Nusra Front and similar Islamist militias have played a similar role in a war for regime-change that has been backed by Washington and its allies.
By all accounts, so-called “foreign fighters” comprise the largest component of the “rebels” who have sought to topple Syrian President Bashar al-Assad over the past three-and-a-half years. Estimates have put their number at over 20,000, with recruits drawn from throughout Europe, North America, Central Asia and elsewhere.
While the media presents the flow of these fighters into Syria as something of a mystery, the question of how they have gotten there can be easily answered. The CIA, MI5 and other Western intelligence agencies have not merely turned a blind eye to Islamists traveling from their respective countries to the Syrian battlefield, it has offered them active encouragement. Turkey, a key US ally, has facilitated the flow of these elements across its border into Syria.
It should be recalled that Western governments and media painted forces like ISIS in Syria as democratic “revolutionaries” waging a progressive struggle against a tyrant. The war, which was stoked through orchestrated provocations, was cited as a justification for “humanitarian” intervention.
Arms and funding poured in to back the largely Islamist “rebels,” even as Washington and its allies steadily escalated the threat of direct intervention. The Obama administration went to the brink of launching a savage bombardment of Syria in September 2013, only to beat a tactical retreat in the face of unexpected opposition.
The Islamist forces on the ground in Syria felt themselves the victims of a double-cross. Much like the CIA’s Cuban counterrevolutionaries at the Bay of Pigs a half-century earlier, their promised US air support did not come and they lashed out in retribution. Ultimately, this took the form not only of the serial beheadings of Western hostages, but also the debacle inflicted upon the US-trained security forces in Iraq.
Washington has hypocritically seized upon the beheadings in an attempt to whip up support for its new intervention in the Middle East. But when similar atrocities were carried out by ISIS and its cohorts against Syrian Alawites, Christians and captured conscripts, the Obama administration looked the other way.
In the wake of the revelations about “Jihadi John,” Britain’s Tory Prime Minister David Cameron issued a ringing defense of the country’s security services, describing its members as “incredibly impressive, hard-working, dedicated, courageous.” He declared his sympathy for their “having to make incredibly difficult judgments.” He insisted that “the most important thing is to get behind them.”
If Britain were a functioning democracy, the revelations about the role of MI5 and its relations with Mohammed Emwazi and ISIS generally would be the subject of a parliamentary inquiry that could spell the fall of the government.
However, in London, as in Washington, the government has been largely taken over by the military and intelligence apparatus, whose crimes are systematically covered up with the aid of a complicit corporate-controlled media.
For workers in Britain, the US and internationally, these revelations only underscore the necessity to build up a genuine antiwar movement based on a socialist and internationalist program and in intransigent opposition to all attempts to exploit the crimes of ISIS—the Frankenstein’s monster created by imperialism—to justify the escalation of war abroad and repression at home.

Shameful American Democracy Ranks 45th In The World In Electoral Integrity

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If a person possesses the quality of being honest with strong moral principles or “moral uprightness” they are regarded as having integrity.  In American politics, particularly Republican politics, integrity is not only in short supply, it is by all estimations non-existent. Between the preponderance of outright lies and deliberate deception, the hallmark of Republican politics, it is little wonder America’s electoral process lacks integrity; particularly in states controlled by Republicans. In fact, despite being a so-called free democratic society with specific constitutional amendments guaranteeing all citizens the right to vote, Democrats have officially endorsed yet another constitutional amendment establishing the right to vote.

Now, it appears there may be a good reason for yet another voting rights amendment according to a new report placing America’s “electoral integrity” on par with Colombia and Bulgaria at 45th among the world’s democracies. Those nations are arguably not shining examples of democratic Utopias, so America’s being in their company is not a very encouraging statistic to anyone except Koch-Republicans. It is reasonable that their goal has been eliminating anything resembling “electoral integrity” for over a decade and doubtless they celebrated America’s pathetic ranking.

According to a report last year from the BradBlog, researchers at Harvard and the University of Sydney reported that after assessing the 2012 General Election, America ranked number 26; one step higher than Mexico and one below Micronesia. So in the course of one election America’s electoral integrity declined and should surprise very few Americans. It is another world ranking embarrassment for the nation that conservatives claim is exceptional, and a telling narrative about the pathetic state of this once storied example of democracy compared to the rest of the world. It is likely that there are not many Americans who would even use the term “electoral integrity” in the same sentence with American democracy.

The new report is from the Electoral Integrity Project (EIP) that assessed the latest midterm elections with “additional countries” that were not included in the previous report. The report was best summarized by the statement: “Contests in the United States scored the worst performance among any long-established democracy. (bold original) Hence the 2012 Presidential election was ranked 42nd worldwide with additional countries’ statistics, while the 2014 mid-term Congressional races was ranked 45th. One reason America ranks so low according to experts who expressed their growing concern over US electoral laws and processes of voter registration, both areas of heated partisan debates.” It is true there are partisan debates due to Republicans actively disenfranchising and obstructing the voting rights of students, the poor, and people of color in the former Confederacy, but the trend is also growing in other GOP-controlled states. The apparent goal is to “bestow the privilege of voting solely on white Republican voters,” and restricting ballot box access to Democratic voters as stated by several Confederate-state Republicans.

Since the idea of electoral integrity is nearly non-existent in Americans’ consciousness, the project defined it as “meeting international standards and global norms governing the ‘appropriate’ conduct of elections.” There were about 1,500 domestic and international election experts’ involved in the study whose views were represented by forty consultants who concluded that “Elections in United States stand out as relatively poorly compared with other established democracies, and are deserving further scrutiny.” The latest report echoed the same problems from last year’s study that rated the 2012 Presidential election poorly reiterating that “The November 2014 Congressional elections got poor grades because experts were concerned about the electoral laws, voter registration, the process of drawing district boundaries, as well as regulation of campaign finance.” What they likely meant was the glaring lack of regulation of campaign finance.

The EIP particularly noted major concerns Democrats have cited such as laws restricting voter registration efforts in Southern states and new laws denying access to the polls that the study found were “increasingly polarized and litigious ever since the 2000 ‘Florida’ debacle generating growing controversy in state-houses and the courts.” Apparently the report is referring to the Koch-Court striking down the Voting Rights Act that opened the floodgates for Confederate states’ to devise and impose new Jim Crow laws to disenfranchise the poor and people of color. In fact the study did note that “America also suffers from exceptionally partisan and decentralized arrangements for electoral administration and suggested the role of money in American politics deserves more detailed scrutiny.”

The one area the study could not assess for integrity is the “computerized voting systems,” or touch-screen voting machines, that are “100% impossible to verify for accuracy after polls have closed.” Hand marked paper ballots can be checked for veracity after the fact, but they are either counted by optical scans and are only used in about 60% of the nation. The study did give a cursory look at things such as ballot box security, results announced ‘without delay, if counts are conducted fairly, or if election monitors are restricted from having polling place access Otherwise, it was nearly impossible to accurately rank how fair the ballot counting process really is, and how close to the bottom American elections really are.

The truly sad commentary about this latest American humiliation is that it is certain to get worse, and with the Koch brothers pledging nearly a billion dollars to buy the government in 2016, it will get much, much worse. Part and parcel of the Koch’s influence is from their heavily-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and Americans for Prosperity influence on Republican states’ legislation to restrict voting rights in and outside the former Confederacy. Republicans and ALEC claim the need for restricting voter access is an overwhelming problem of rampant voter fraud. However, It is worth reiterating that according to a comprehensive study, the actual number of voter fraud incidents between 2000 and 2014 was 31 out of more than 1 billion votes cast in every general, primary, special, and municipal election in the United States during that 14 year period according to the Federal Election Commission.

Many Americans are well-aware that this country’s so-called representative democracy is a joke, and it is obvious that the low voter turnout is in part due to the increasing obstruction plaguing many prospective voters. America was purported, at one time, to be the world’s shining example of how democracy is supposed to work, but between the Koch Supreme Court giving their blessing to unlimited campaign financing and giving former Confederate states free rein to impose harsh voter restriction laws, it is no wonder America is ranked 45th in electoral integrity among the world’s democracies and frankly, it is amazing that it is not ranked at the bottom of the list; something the Koch Republicans will certainly rectify by the next election.

The National-Security State’s ISIS Racket

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The official enemy de jour that has everyone all riled up and scared is ISIS. If U.S. forces don’t bomb ISIS, the argument goes, ISIS will take over Iraq, and Syria, and Lebanon, and Europe, and Asia, and Latin America, and then the United States. If the bombs don’t fall on ISIS, before long Americans will be speaking Arabic and their children will be studying the Koran in America’s government schools.

It’s all just one great big racket — a racket based on “national security,” a term that isn’t even found in the Constitution and that doesn’t even have an objective meaning. The only way that the U.S. national-security state apparatus — i.e., the vast military establishment and military empire, the CIA, and the NSA — can justify its continued existence is by ginning up crisis after crisis with the aim of keeping the citizenry filled with fear, anxiety, and depression. The apparatus then becomes people’s sedative, assuring them that everything is going to be okay because the apparatus is the only thing keeping them safe.

Never mind that the national-security apparatus produces the very threats it then uses to scare people with. After all, did anyone hear of ISIS before the U.S. invaded and occupied Iraq, a country that had never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so?

No. That’s because there was no ISIS before the apparatus invaded and occupied Iraq. It was the invasion and occupation, along with other interventions by the apparatus, such as in Syria and Libya, that has produced ISIS, the new, scary enemy of the day.

But of course, no statist wants to hear that. The national-security state is akin to a god, one that is keeping them safe from all those scary creatures thousands of miles away from American shores, creatures that are brought into existence by the very policies of the apparatus itself.

With its ongoing, perpetual crises and wars, the apparatus is also serving as a fount of taxpayer-funded largess for the vast armies of “defense” contractors who are feeding at the public trough on a permanent basis.

As an aside, have you noticed that while some young people are traveling to the Middle East to join ISIS, hardly any Americans are traveling to Iraq to join up with the Iraqi army to fight ISIS. I suppose one possibility is that most everyone is a coward and won’t fight to protect our “national security.” Another possibility, the more likely one in my opinion, is that deep down everyone knows that this is all a crock.

The perpetual crises and fear-mongering are not a new phenomenon. We saw it throughout the Cold War, when the same fear-mongering was being done about communists that is now being done about ISIS, terrorists, and Muslims.

If we don’t stop the communists from infiltrating Latin America, we were told, it won’t be long before Americans are speaking communist. Cuba is a communist beachhead, they repeatedly said, one that was determined to turn the rest of Latin America and then the United States Red.

That’s why the national-security state installed and supported brutal military dictatorships in Guatemala and Chile, entered into a partnership with the Mafia to assassinate Cuba’s president Fidel Castro, participated as a partner in the international torture and assassination ring based in Latin America known as DINA, and much more — all to ensure that the communist-socialist infection didn’t spread to Latin American countries, especially by democratic means. Democracy had to be destroyed, we were told, in order to save democracy.

The tens of thousands of people who were rounded up, tortured, raped, disappeared, executed, and assassinated, were considered an societal inoculation — like a vaccine — to ensure that Latin American regimes and then the United States didn’t go Red.

That’s what arming the Contras and starting an extremely brutal, deadly, and destructive civil war in Nicaragua was all about — to oust the communist-socialist regime of Daniel Ortega. It was also what the invasion of Grenada was all about.

The idea was that if the radical leftists were to gain the reins of power in Latin American countries, especially through democratic elections, the United States as we know it would cease to exist.

It was all a Cold War, national-security state, fear-mongering racket, one that was keeping the national-security state apparatus in existence and, equally important, keeping all those “defense” looters and plunderers in high cotton.

The fact is that it wouldn’t have made any difference at all, insofar as the United States was concerned, if every Latin American country went Red.

How do we know that? Because after the national-security state lost communism as its official enemy, many of those Latin American regimes have ended up with socialist presidents, many of them duly elected by their citizenry. Consider: Cuba, Nicaragua, Chile, Bolivia, Brazil, Ecuador, Venezuela, and more.

In fact, check out this Wikipedia entry entitled “Pink Tide.” It states “In 2005, the BBC reported that out of 350 million people in South America, three out of four of them lived in countries ruled by ‘left-leaning presidents’ elected during the preceding six years.”

Yet, as everyone knows, the United States is still standing. The United States wasn’t the final domino that fell to the communists. Oh sure, we’ve got our own welfare state, which is no different in principle from the socialism that all those Latin American socialist regimes believe in, but that’s just because Americans believe in socialism as much as Latin Americans do, not because Latin American regimes have gone socialist.

It won’t make any difference to the freedom and well-being of the American people if ISIS takes over Iraq, Syria, Libya, or any other area of the Middle East, any more than it has made a difference that socialists and communists have taken over countries in Latin America. It’s all just a fear-mongering racket, one designed to keep the cancerous tumor known as the national-security state, along with its vast army of “defense” plunderers and looters, attached to the body politic, where it is sucking the lifeblood out of the American people.

What a racket. It’s amazing that so many Americans continue to fall for it.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Why the Rise of Fascism is again the Issue

aGo To Original
The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazis iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.
“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”
Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened.  Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery.  They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.
Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.
In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.
The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.”  His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”
This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.
Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.
For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.
Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.
The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.
With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.
Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.
In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans.  Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia — a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation — and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.
“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment.  “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records.  The majority have been killed — civilians and soldiers — during Obama’s time as president.
The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina.  In his lauded and much quoted book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion . . . Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.”  He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?
In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.
The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon,
“could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”
The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]“. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.
On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorised $500 million in arms and logistics to support tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests … would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.
The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.
Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”.  His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of  the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah — who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help — was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.
The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”
The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collatoral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.
Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains.  Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.
“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”
Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing.  Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.
The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places — just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.
There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens — as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.
In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.
This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government.  The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include  Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.
These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.
No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe — with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kaplan, a leading “neo-con” luminary of the far-right Center for a New American Security, she was foreign policy advisor to the fascist Dick Cheney.
Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea — illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 — voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s.  The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.
At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove — whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove — announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.
These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.
On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by.  The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).
The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.
If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”.  There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion.  This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.
On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime.  In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently,
“No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ….If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”
In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media:
“The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack …. In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”
In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.
In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”.  In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”
The outbursts — or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” — are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world.  In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.
Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship.
They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.
Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.
The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.