Tuesday, October 14, 2014

On October 15, the United Nations Will Fail Haiti Once Again

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On October 15, the United Nations Security Council will meet to “debate” the extension of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) which has acted as an occupying force in the country since the summer of 2004. MINUSTAH was created to put an end to the Multinational Interim Force (primarily made up of U.S., French, Canadian and Chilean troops) which occupied Haiti after an internationally backed coup d’état ousted the democratically elected president Jean Bertrand Aristide and his Fanmi Lavalas party from power on February 29, 2004.
During these ten years, MINUSTAH has compiled a horrific record of human rights abuses, including but not limited to extrajudicial murder, an epidemic of sexual assault against Haitian men, women and children, the repression of peaceful political protests, in addition to unleashing cholera through criminal negligence which has caused the death of over 9,000 people and infecting nearly a million more. Despite these well documented abuses, the historical record has shown that the Security Council will mostly likely renew MINUSTAH for another year without any thought to damage being done to Haiti. As evidence of how little resistance there is to the renewal of MINUSTAH’s mandate in the United Nations, on August 21, MINUSTAH’s budget was extended to June 2015 – clearly signalling that the occupation is certain to continue.
When one examines the level of instability in Haiti which is used as the justification for MINUSTAH’s continued presence in the country, the United Nations’ argument of protecting the Haitian people from themselves falls flat. Despite the mainstream media portrayal of Haiti as a lawless and dangerous country, in 2012, it had a homicide rate of 10.2 per 100,000 people, ranking it as one of the least violent countries in Latin America and the Caribbean – in contrast to Washington DC which sat at 13.71 per 100,000. Furthermore, to argue that it is the presence MINUSTAH which has acted as a stabilizing force which has kept violence down, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime reported that between 2007 and 2012, Haiti’s homicide rate doubled from 5.1 to 10.2 per 100,000.
For the fiscal year running from July 1, 2013 to June 30, 2014, $609.18 million was allocated to MINUSTAH. In the ten years in which MINUSTAH has been operational, their total budget is over $5.5 billion. If this same amount had been applied towards human development in the form of investments in clean water, sanitation, healthcare and education – Haiti would have the potential reclaim its sovereignty and self-determination.
We must be clear, the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti is not based on any principles of humanitarianism, but rather those of an imperialist occupation which seeks to make sure that the island’s government can implement and maintain repressive policies favourable to international investors. Thus the reasons for MINUSTAH’s continued presence in Haiti were confirmed thanks to revelations by WikiLeaks. In one of the most up-front classified cables, from US Ambassador Janet Sanderson on October 1, 2008, stated that, “A premature departure of MINUSTAH would leave the [Haitian] government…vulnerable to…resurgent populist and anti-market economy political forces—reversing gains of the last two years.”
The corrupt and repressive regime of President Michel Martelly has proudly boasted that “Haiti is open for business”. Indeed, this is true – however it is the people and the land that are being sold. Canadian mining companies like St. Genevive and Eurasian Minerals have taken advantage of weak laws to prospect new sites covering enormous swaths of territory (an estimated 1/3 of Northern Haiti has been granted to companies via permit), setting up the potential for substantial displacement through forced evictions and environmental destruction. Montreal based Gildan Activewear (the world’s largest manufacturer of blank T-shirts) has routinely pressured the Haitian government to block an increase in Haiti’s abysmally low daily minimum wage and have undermined unionization efforts in their plants.
MINUSTAH has carried out a series of human rights violations resulting in a loss of Haitian sovereignty, stability, dignity and life. Its record of engaging in acts of extrajudicial murder, sexual assault, suppressing peaceful political protests, undermining democracy and introducing cholera into Haiti are more than enough grounds to revoke its mandate. Yet for geopolitical and economic reasons, this does not happen.
As people of good conscience and principled internationalists, we collectively have the capacity and the resources to force an end to the military occupation of Haiti. However, we will not be able to fulfill this potential and stand in solidarity with the laboring classes in Haiti, if we don’t organize campaigns in Canada and across the world that pressure contributing states to end their provision of military and police personnel to MINUSTAH’s occupation force.
Our opposition to the military occupation of Haiti ought to take the form of grassroots-oriented campaigns that educate, mobilize, and organize membership-based organizations to add the end to the occupation to their organizational programme. It is critically necessary to reach out to the people in the spaces in which they are present, and offer specific actions that they may carry out to force the withdrawal of the occupation troops.
We have a moral and political obligation to support the struggle for self-determination by the popular classes in Haiti. The successful Haitian Revolution eliminated the enslavement of Afrikans in Haiti, and lit the fire of freedom in slaveholding states in the Americas.
The people of Haiti demonstrated their solidarity with the colonized peoples in South America by providing a place of refuge, guns, ammunition, personnel, and a printing press to Simon Bolivar’s campaign to liberate the region from Spanish colonialism. The French Revolution and the American Revolution cannot lay claim to being beacons and agents of emancipation in the Americas.
As we work to rid Haiti of MINUSTAH’s occupation forces, we ought to be motivated by the fact that we are continuing a long and proud tradition of people-to-people solidarity in support of emancipation in the Americas. Haiti is the architect and pioneer of this principled political tradition. We should remember this legacy as we call for the Security Council to pull out the occupation troops from Haiti.

The Lie Machine

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I have come to the conclusion that the West is a vast lie machine for the secret agendas of vested interests. Consider, for example, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership and the Transpacific Trade and Investment Partnership.
These so-called “partnerships” are in fact vehicles by which US corporations make themselves immune to the sovereign laws of foreign countries in which they do business. A sovereign country that attempts to enforce its laws against an American corporation can be sued by the corporation for “restraint of trade.” For example, if Monsanto wants to sell GMO seeds in France or US corporations wish to sell genetically-modified foods in France, and France enforces its laws against GMOs, the Transatlantic Trade Partnership allows France to be sued in jurisdictions outside the courts of France for “restraint of trade.” In other words, preventing the entry into France of a prohibited product constitutes restraint of trade.
This is the reason that the US has insisted that the Transatlantic and Transpacific Partnerships be totally secretive and negotiated outside the democratic process. Not even the US Congress has been permitted knowledge of the negotiations.
Obviously, the Europeans and Asians who are agreeing with the terms of these “partnerships” are the bought-and-paid-for agents of the US corporations. If the partnerships go through, the only law in Europe and Asia will be US law. The European and Asian government officials who agree to the hegemony of US corporations over the laws of their countries will be so handsomely paid that they could enter the realm of the One Percent.
It is interesting to compare the BBC’s coverage (October 10) with that of RT (October 11). The BBC reports that the aim of the Transatlantic Partnership is to remove “barriers to bilateral commerce” and to stimulate more trade and investment, economic growth and employment. The BBC does not report that the removal of barriers includes barriers against GMO products.
Everyone knows that the European Commission is corrupt. Who would be surprised if its members hope to be enriched by the American corporations? Little wonder the European Commission declared that concerns that the Transatlantic partnership would impact the sovereignty of countries is misplaced.  http://www.bbc.com/news/business-29572475
RT, which is restrained in reporting truth because it operates inside the US, still manages to come to the point in its headline: “No TTIP: Mass protests slam US-EU trade deal as ‘Corporate power grab’.”
All over Europe people are in the streets in mass rallies against secret agreements by their corrupt governments for Washington to take over their lives and businesses. RT reports that “social networks have been mobilized for a mass campaign that has been calling on Europeans and Americans to take action against ‘the biggest corporate power grab in a decade’.”
RT quotes a leader of the demonstration in Berlin who says the secret agreements “give corporations more rights they’ve ever had in history.” As we all know, corporations already have too many rights.
“Protests are planned in 22 countries across Europe–marches, rallies and other public events–in over 1,000 locations in UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece, Netherlands, Poland, The Czech Republic and Scandinavian countries.”
Did you hear about this latest American corporate power grab from Fox “News,” CNN, New York Times, London Times, ABC? Of course not. Did you hear about the massive protests against it? Of course not. You only hear what the interest groups permit you to hear.
RT reports that the main aim of the international protests is “to reclaim democracy” and to put an end to the secret deals that are destroying life for everyone but the American corporations, organizations now regarded worldwide as the epitome of evil.
http://rt.com/news/195144-europe-protests-stop-ttip/
These phony “trade agreements” are advocated as “free trade removal of tariffs,” but what they remove are the sovereignties of countries. America is already ruled by corporations. If these faux “trade agreements” go through, Europe and Asia will also be ruled by American corporations.

The Coming Revolution: Evolutionary Leap or Descent Into Chaos and Violence?

“A revolution is coming – a revolution which will be peaceful if we are wise enough; compassionate if we care enough; successful if we are fortunate enough – but a revolution which is coming whether we will it or not. We can affect its character; we cannot alter its inevitability."   Robert F. Kennedy - [Report to the United States Senate on  his trip to Latin America and the Alliance for Progress, May 9-10 1966]
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A new paradigm is organically evolving: new economic systems, sustainable communities, solar energy, organic farming, liquid democracy, worker co-ops and new media. For all the problems we are confronted by, there are existing viable solutions. There is much to feel positive about. A decentralized global uprising is undermining systems of centralized and consolidated power. A new world is being born.

However, as exciting as the evolution presently occurring is, after extensive research I am forced to confront the fact that I do not see how emerging solutions will reach a critical mass and create the needed change before the affects of inequality, poverty and the overall deterioration of society will lead to widespread chaos and violence. As much as I wish this wasn’t the case, as much as I want to just disengage from the status quo and focus on the implementation of local solutions, we cannot ignore the urgent need for significant systemic change on a mass scale now.

The longer mainstream society stays on the present course, the worse things will get and the harder it will be to overcome the growing crisis. No matter how much we are inclined to ignore it, we will not be able to escape this reality: under present economic and government policy, more and more people will fall deeper into debt and extreme poverty. The present economy only works for30% of the population, tens of millions of people have been mathematically eliminated.

There are only enough full-time jobs for 50% of the working-age population, and half of the full-time jobs pay under $35k per year. Since 2007, the economy has lost over 14 million full-time jobs while the overall population has grown by 17 million people. In current conditions, it is impossible for 70% of the working-age population to earn enough income to afford basic necessities without taking on ever-increasing levels of debt, which they will never be able to pay back because there are not enough jobs that generate the necessary income to keep up with the cost of living.

From 2007 – 2013, overall wealth increased 26%, while the median household lost a shocking 43% of their wealth. If median wealth continues to decline at this rate, over 50% of US households will be bankrupt within the next decade. Mainstream propaganda has temporarily obscured the fact that we are sitting on a ticking economic time bomb. Statistical fraud by the government on poverty, cost of living and unemployment cannot cover up the fact that the overwhelming majority of the population is on a fast track to impoverishment.
The government’s policies and actions in dealing with the growing epidemic of poverty are the very definition of tyranny. It couldn’t be more blatant. Just when the economy has reached a point where there are not enough jobs that generate an adequate income to sustain the cost of living for the majority of the population, the government is cutting billions of dollars from assistance programs and pouring billions of dollars into the military and prison industry.

An out of control private military complex is fueling violent conflicts abroad. A perpetual state of never-ending war is exhausting public wealth, with trillions of dollars diverted from social programs into the pockets of war profiteers. Here at home, the police force is being militarized and the private prison industry is growing at a shocking 1600% rate. We already have the largest prison population in the world. The current per capita rate is worse than the darkest days of the Soviet Gulags. On top of that, many cities are now criminalizing poverty. As ominous as it may sound, a tyrannical assembly line of incarceration is now in place.
Based on existing evidence and key indicators it is logical to think that increasing desperation within large segments of the population will soon lead to chaos and riots. Factor in the militarized police force, which will escalate violence and oppression, and this highly probable scenario will tear our nation apart.

We are at a critical crossroad.

Are we on the verge of an evolutionary leap, or will shortsighted greed descend us into madness and destruction?
Will significant systemic change happen quick enough to prevent a much larger collapse?
The ultimate point is that there is presently more than enough wealth and capabilities to solve societal problems. We can truly evolve society in unprecedented fashion. We live in the most wealthy and technologically advanced society in the history of civilization. In the US, we have $94.4 trillion in wealth. People should not have to struggle and be buried in debt to get basic necessities and live a healthy life.

It is an absolute crime against humanity for poverty to exist in today’s society. With only 0.5% of the richest 1% of the population’s wealth, we can eliminate poverty nationwide. Having poverty makes no economic sense whatsoever. It costs society more to have poverty than it costs to eliminate it. That is the insanity of the current system.

For one of many examples of how we can begin to address this urgent crisis, the Federal Reserve’s Quantitative Easing (QE) program created $4 trillion, out of thin air, under the guise of stimulating job growth. However, since QE started the economy has lost over 10 million full-time workers. Most of the $4 trillion created through QE went to only 1% of the population. Clearly, giving another $4 trillion to people who already had a stunning $21 trillion in unused wealth was not an effective stimulus for the overall economy.

If they truly wanted to stimulate the economy, they could have given the $4 trillion to every non-millionaire household, which would have been $40,000 per household, or they could have given 114,285,714 people $35,000 each. If we clawback QE from the ultra-rich, we can eliminate poverty and guarantee a Living Income to every person over the age of 18.
This is just one example of many things that can easily be done when you have $94.4 trillion in wealth. In a technologically advanced society, where fewer and fewer workers are needed, we have to address the issue of providing basic necessities to everyone. We cannot just throw 70% of the population overboard. That will lead to chaos and riots.
Instead of increased productivity and wealth being a very good thing for overall society, the shortsighted greed of the richest .01% of the population has systematically taken the increase in wealth for themselves, robbing us of a life of liberty, economic security and freedom.

Most people are unaware of the paradigm shift in technology and wealth creation that should have provided economic security and made life much more enjoyable for everyone well over a generation ago. We haven’t evolved the political and economic system because the mainstream media has not revealed to the general public that we have $94.4 trillion in wealth, with $25 trillion of it unused. If people knew that this much wealth existed, and could comprehend the implications of what could be done with just a fraction of it, we would have a revolution.

At this point, a significant portion of the population knows that our present system is unsustainable and unstable, even many of the richest .01% will now acknowledge that. We already have a critical mass of aware citizens, we just need to inspire and organize them to build the cultural and political will.

Alas, the horrifying socio-economic reality haunts me; after extensive research, it is clear that we don’t have much time left before we descend into chaos. If we want to change things through nonviolent methods, the window of opportunity is closing fast. We need to radically intensify the pace in which change is occurring. The .01% and political class must urgently acquiesce to the needs of the people. As John Kennedy once said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.”

The statistical evidence is clear.

We have reached the tipping point.

Revolution is coming, one way or the other.

US Army drafts blueprint for World War III

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With US politicians and the American media engaged in an increasingly acrimonious debate over the strategy guiding the latest US war in the Middle East, the United States Army has unveiled a new document entitled the Army Operating Concept (AOC), which provides a “vision of future armed conflict” that has the most ominous implications. It is the latest in a series of documents in which the Pentagon has elaborated the underlying strategy of preventive war that was unveiled in 1992—that is, the use of war as a means of destroying potential geopolitical and economic rivals before they acquire sufficient power to block American domination of the globe.
The document was formally released at this week’s Association of the United States Army (AUSA) conference, an annual event bringing together senior officers and Defense Department officials for a series of speeches and panel discussions, along with a giant trade show mounted by arms manufacturers to show off their latest weapons systems and pursue lucrative Pentagon contracts.
Much of this year’s proceedings were dominated by dire warnings about the impact of cuts to the Army’s troop strength brought about by sequestration. Gen. Raymond Odierno, chief of staff of the Army, told reporters at the AUSA conference Monday that he was “starting to worry about our end strength” and regretting having told Congress in 2012 that the Army could manage with 490,000 active-duty soldiers.
In addition to the 490,000, there are 350,000 National Guard soldiers and 205,000 reservists, for a combined force—referred to by the Pentagon as the Total Army—of well over one million American troops. The answer to why such a gargantuan armed force would seem inadequate to Gen. Odierno can be found in the new Army Operating Concept (AOC), a reckless and dangerous document laying out a strategy of total war that encompasses the entire planet, including the United States itself.
The document makes clear that in regard to the ongoing debate over “boots on the ground,” for the top brass of the US Army there is no question: there will be boots and plenty of them.
At the outset, the AOC states its “vision” for the coming wars to be fought by the US Army. In language that recalls former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s invocation of the “unknown unknowns,” the document asserts: “The environment the Army will operate in is unknown. The enemy is unknown, the location is unknown, and the coalitions involved are unknown.”
The only logical explanation for this paranoid scenario is that the US military views every country beyond its borders as a potential enemy. Starting from the premise that the environments, the enemies, the locations and the coalitions involved in future conflicts are unknown, the US Army requires a strategy for war against all states and peoples. This strategy is derived from the unstated, underlying imperative that US imperialism exert hegemony over the entire planet, its markets and resources, and that it be prepared to militarily annihilate any rival that stands in its way.
The document states bluntly that the “character of armed conflict” will be influenced primarily by “shifts in geopolitical landscape caused by competition for power and resources.” For the Army’s top brass, such wars for imperialist domination are a certainty.
The Army’s strategic aim, according to the document, is to achieve “overmatch,” which it defines as “the application of capabilities or use of tactics in a way that renders an adversary unable to respond effectively.”
What do these words entail? In the case of a confrontation with another nuclear power, they encompass the implementation of a first-strike doctrine of mass annihilation. In regard to the subjugation and domination of other areas of the globe, they call for massive ground operations to quell popular resistance and enforce military occupation.
Significantly, after more than a decade of the so-called “global war on terror, “ when countering a supposedly ubiquitous threat from Al Qaeda was the overriding mission of the US military-intelligence apparatus, “transnational terrorist organizations” are rather low on the Army’s list of priorities.
First and foremost are “competing powers,” a category that includes China, followed by Russia. In the case of China, the document evinces serious concern over Chinese “force modernization efforts,” which it says are aimed at achieving “stability along its periphery,” something that the US military is determined to block. China’s military efforts, it states, “highlight the need for Army forces positioned forward or regionally engaged,” and for “Army forces to project power from land into the air, maritime, space and cyberspace domains.”
Based on recent events in Ukraine, the document accuses Russia of being “determined to expand its territory and assert its power on the Eurasian landmass,” precisely US imperialism’s own strategic goal. Only a powerful deployment of US ground forces, it argues, can deter Russian “adventurism” and “project national power and exert influence in political conflicts.”
From there, the paper proceeds to “regional powers,” in the first instance, Iran. It also accuses Iran of “pursuing comprehensive military modernization” and argues that “Taken collectively, Iranian activity has the potential to undermine US regional goals,” i.e., undisputed hegemony over the Middle East and its energy resources. Iran’s activities, it concludes, “highlight the need for Army forces to remain effective against the fielded forces of nation states as well as networked guerrilla or insurgent organizations.”
The document does not limit the “vision” of future military operations to war abroad, but includes the need to “respond and mitigate crises in the homeland,” which it describes as “a unique theater of operations for the Joint Force and the Army.” The Army’s mission within the US, it asserts, includes “defense support of civil authorities.”
The AOC document is stark testimony to a military run amuck. Involved in these strategic conceptions are advanced preparations for fighting a Third World War, combined with the institution within the US itself of a military dictatorship in all but name.
Gen. Odierno’s complaints about troop strength will not be satisfied by any minor congressional adjustments of the Pentagon budget. The kind of warfare that the Army is contemplating cannot be waged outside of a massive military mobilization by means of universal conscription—the return of the draft.
The founders of the United States repeatedly expressed grave distrust of a standing army. The military as it presently exists and its plan for global warfare represent a hideous modern-day realization of their nightmare scenario. The implementation of this doctrine of total war is wholly incompatible with democratic rights and constitutional government within the US. It requires the ruthless suppression of any political opposition and all social struggles mounted by the American working class.
Within the US ruling establishment and its two political parties, there exists no serious opposition to carrying the militarization of life within the so-called “homeland” to its ultimate conclusion. Civilian control of the military has been turned into a dead letter, with politicians routinely bowing to the generals on matters of policy, both foreign and domestic.

Saudis Dump Oil To Increase Leverage Over U.S. Middle East Policies

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During the last years U.S. president Obama talked a lot about energy independence:
In his fifth State of the Union address on Tuesday, President Barack Obama celebrated the efforts his administration has made to cut greenhouse gas emissions, while also praising recent increases in domestic oil and gas production. 
Obama said early in his address that there is now more "oil produced at home than we buy from the rest of the world," for the first time in two decades.
Obama did not say that the increase in U.S. fossil fuel production was only possible because international oil and gas prices had increased above the magic $100 per barrel equivalent. Below that price shale gas and oil extraction as well as oil production from tar sands are only marginally profitable or not profitable at all.

But the "energy independence" talk allowed various experts to claim that the U.S. could now ignore the Middle East:
Clearly, the booming American oil and gas businesses are not problem-free, but the benefits -- economic, geopolitical and environmental -- of this impending energy independence far outweigh the drawbacks. 
The days when Mideast oil-producing dictatorships and their friends at OPEC could so easily wave their power over a trembling, oil-thirsty West are on their way to becoming a relic of the past.
As a new world-wide recession is creeping in, consumption of fossil fuels hasdeclined. Typically such a decline would be followed by a decline in production by major producers to keep the prices and their income somewhat stable. But that is not happening.

The Saudis and other Gulf state rulers disliked U.S. energy independence talk very much. They need to keep some leverage over U.S. policy. They now decided to end the U.S. "energy independence" talk and to push the U.S. to again do their bidding. The simple method they apply is to keep oil production high enough during a period of declining consumption to take prices lower and to thereby make new U.S. domestic production a money losing business:
[T]he [Saudi] kingdom, OPEC's largest producer, is ready to accept oil prices below $90 per barrel, and perhaps down to $80, for as long as a year or two, according to people who have been briefed on the recent conversations. 
The discussions, some of which took place in New York over the past week, offer the clearest sign yet that the kingdom is setting aside its longstanding de facto strategy of holding prices at around $100 a barrel for Brent crude in favor of retaining market share in years to come.
The aim is clear. Kick producers with higher production costs than OPEC out of the market and thereby retain the global market share as well as the leverage needed to pursue the Gulf countries' political aims:
Kuwait's oil minister Ali al-Omair was quoted as saying by state news agency KUNA on Sunday that OPEC is unlikely to cut oil production in an effort to prop up prices because such a move would not necessarily be effective.\ 
Omair said $76-$77 a barrel might be the level that would end the oil price slide, since that was the cost of oil production in the United States and Russia.
The Saudis and the other Gulf producers all have positive current account balances(pdf, Fig 3). They can easily afford lower oil prices.

U.S. shale and tar sand production costs are higher than Saudi or Russian production cost. They are the first to die when prices are kept low:
Allowing Brent to fall below $85 could slow the U.S. shale boom because some producers would lose money pumping at that price, Francisco Blanch, head of commodities research at Bank of America, said in a report Sept. 9. 
...
Curtailing the shale boom would ensure continued U.S. reliance on Middle Eastern energy, Bank of America’s Blanch said. 
...
“For Saudi Arabia, I can’t see why they’d come in and manage prices unless it falls below $90,” Torbjoern Kjus, an analyst at DNB in Oslo, said by phone Sept. 10. “It benefits the Saudis to test where the limit is for U.S. shale.
 
OPEC’s de facto leader has the “fiscal firepower” to tolerate prices as low as $70 for two years without experiencing economic difficulties, according to Energy Aspects Ltd., a consultant in London. The kingdom held reserve assets valued at $741.6 billion in July, almost double the level five years earlier, according to the Saudi Arabia Monetary Agency.
This strategy will not only allow the Gulf dictators to retain their market share but the Saudis and others will use this strategy to slow down, if not stop, U.S. overtures to Iran as well as to press for U.S. enabled regime change in Syria.

Computerized Election Theft and the New American Century

Is it futile to combat computerized vote-counting fraud, given the more general disenfranchisement of the American public? This and the emerging battlefield of corporate versus public interest is explored in this adapted excerpt from "CODE RED"by Jonathan D. Simon.

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Many despairing observers of The New American Century have asked me whether - given the recent revelations about NSA surveillance, along with other signs that American democracy is deteriorating irrespective of which party governs - an honest vote counting system would even matter anymore.  A fair question to which I believe the ultimate, if uneasy, answer is "Yes."
There was a brief glimpse during the Occupy movement of what public anger at American Systemic Injustice might come to if it found a way to assemble, to come out of its isolated private homes and apartments and shelters and cubicles into the public squares of the nation. It was a powerful image, one that so shook US rulers in their corporate and governmental corridors of power that they soon resorted to a federally-coordinated blitzkrieg to empty those squares and kill Occupy before it multiplied any further and before the Bastille was in any real danger.
Perhaps the most penetrating lesson to be drawn from the Occupy experience is the disclosure of a previously unrecognized divide in the American body politic: that of the "99%" and the "1%." Throughout American history our enduring system of representative democracy has thrived on the two-party dialectic. Certainly for living generations, the vision we have of politics is that of the Democratic and Republican parties carrying the ark into battle for their relatively evenly matched constituencies, taking turns advancing an agenda as the political pendulum swung.
That is still the image of American politics you'll see in The New York Times or on CNN: a never-ending political Super Bowl. It is easy enough, if you listen to the play-by-play announcers, not to notice a very important change in the game, a tectonic realignment of which Occupy gave us a hint and which subsequent developments have confirmed. The battle that is coming to characterize The New American Century is that between the Elites  (called "the 1%" by Occupy, but more accurately the corporate class that would replace democracy with dominion) and Everyone Else.  And this battle, as Edward Snowden has brought so dramatically to our attention, is largely about information.
Knowledge is indeed power: In the case of the surveillance state, the power to intimidate, the power indeed to blackmail, the power to infiltrate and sabotage any perceived threat, stifle any organized or ultimately individual dissent.  And the battle lines are indeed simple: a ruling elite, corporate and governmental, that is attempting to know as much as possible about you and me while seeing to it that we know as little as possible about them. Of course this is not unprecedented; history offers up its share of J. Edgar Hoovers.  But the Information Age has turned a limited and rather selective battle into what amounts to total war. In a very real sense, this war is not over land or even treasure, but over knowledge, The Public has become The Enemy.
Ironically, the weapon that has been handing the ruling elite one victory after another in this war is fear, specifically fear of "terrorism" (though as an American you were 3,000 times as likely to be killed by an American with a gun last year as by a terrorist).  With the ghastly and iconic images of planes puncturing towers and bodies leaping from fiery windows - precisely the "new Pearl Harbor" imagined in 1997 by right-wing think tank PNAC (Project for the New American Century) - seared into every American's brain, the surrender of privacy on every front becomes an easy sale. Whatever it takes to keep us mythically "safe" in a "war" rather brilliantly conjured to be without end.
When finally exposed by the "treasonous" Snowden, the NSA took pains to reassure us that it's "only gathering data" and won't actually read our emails and listen in on our phone calls unless it really feels it needs to. For example, if you were trying to organize a new Occupy movement, or threatening the "eco-terrorism" of opposing Monsanto, or perhaps getting serious about a third-party or independent challenge to the D-R power duopoly.
This is the bone structure of The New American Century, whatever its face and skin may look like. Corporate America has a stranglehold on both major parties; the MSM (corporate-owned) is cheerfully along for the ride; threatening opposition movements like Occupy are infiltrated and, where necessary, obliterated. Where does that leave The People?  Where does that leave the 99% on the day it figures out it is the 99%?
It leaves us with the electoral process. With the chance - in a fair, observably counted election - to elect to office candidates outside the power duopoly, who have refused to feed at the corporate trough and who are pledged to bring genuine change to the system and seriously address American Systemic Injustice.
Of course there are other obstacles beside rigged vote counts: money, media, lies, infiltration, assassination. But at least there would be a fighter's chance!  Money faces a law of diminishing returns when it is spent in obscene amounts to buy votes and elections; there are means of communicating messages outside the mainstream media; lies can be exposed; infiltration, threats and even assassination overcome - as we have seen elsewhere around the world and throughout history - when a cause is just and vital and when the forces of greed, repression and control have overplayed their hand. In primaries and in independent challenges, candidates with the courage to oppose the forces of wealth and "order" smothering our democracy could stand for election before an electorate that the ruling elite had finally pushed too far.
At that point, we had better be counting the votes  in public view.  It is absurdly naive to believe that the corporate totalitarians, who have hardly blanched at subverting every other mechanism of democracy, would, with their own computers counting the votes in secret, go gentle into the good electoral night.
We are suffering from a virulent disease and will need strong medicine.  But let us not say it's all so rotten that elections no longer matter.  Because after elections, all that is left is revolution, and, even if we could imagine one here in the Land of Genetically Modified Milk and Honey, such events are not generally festive, but chaotic and traumatic. Indeed, it was memory of such traumas that doubtless gave birth to history's first elections. So let us neither mistake the lines of battle nor fail to recognize the crucial part electoral integrity - beginning with the observable counting of votes  - is destined to play in an age in which the most critical battle lines are all about what can be seen and what cannot.

Tokyo Contaminated & Not Fit for Habitation, Doctor Says

All 23 districts of Tokyo contaminated with radiation, worse than at Chernobyl after the accident, and blood cells of children under ten are showing worrying changes; the WHO, the IAEA & the Japanese government cannot be trusted.

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In July 2014 Dr Shigeru Mita wrote a letter to his fellow doctors to explain his decision to move his practice from Tokyo to Okayama city in the West of Japan [1]. In it, he appeals to their sense of duty to answer the anxieties of parents in Japan who do not believe the information coming from the authorities. He says “I must state that the policies of the WHO, the IAEA or the Japanese government cannot be trusted.” and “if the power to save our citizens and future generations exists somewhere, it does not lie within the government or any academic association, but in the hands of individual clinical doctors ourselves.”
Mita claims that all 23 districts of Tokyo are contaminated, with the eastern area worst affected — up to 4 000 Bq/kg. (The becquerel is a unit of radioactivity. One Bq is the activity of a quantity of radioactive material in which one nucleus decays per second.) These findings confirm what the nuclear physicist Arnie Gundersen of Fairewinds Nuclear Education found in 2012, when he picked up five random soil samples in Tokyo from between paving stones, in parks and playgrounds. The levels of contamination were up to 7 000 Bq/kg; in the US, anything registering these levels would be considered nuclear waste [2].
While practising in Tokyo, Mita also discovered changes in the white blood cells of children under 10.
Independent science & independent reporting in Japan outlawed
In December 2013, the Japanese parliament passed a bill whereby public officials and private citizens could face ten years in prison for divulging “special state secrets”, and journalists, five years, for seeking to obtain classified information. The bill is widely interpreted as a way of preventing sensitive information about Fukushima (among other topics) reaching the Japanese public and by extension the rest of the world [3].
The independent organisation Reporters without Borders has downgraded Japan in its world press freedom index from 22nd place in 2012, to 53rd in 2013 and to 59th in 2014, following the passing of the state secrets bill. Reporters without Borders say that Japan“has been affected by a lack of transparency and almost zero respect for access to information on subjects directly or indirectly related to Fukushima” [4].
Nuclear lobby put in charge
Back in December 2012, the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) whose mission is to promote the peaceful uses of the atom, signed agreements with Fukushima Prefecture, Fukushima Medical University and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan. These “Practical Arrangements” have in effect, handed over the management of the post-accident situation at Fukushima and its health consequences to the nuclear lobby. Among other clauses regarding cooperation and funding, we read that “The Parties will ensure the confidentiality of information classified by the other Party as restricted or confidential” [5].
But this should come as no surprise. Anyone who doubts the heavy hand of the nuclear lobby in the “management” (i.e. minimisation) of nuclear accidents should read the account by the physicist Bella Belbéoch entitled “Western responsibility regarding the health consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe in Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia” [6]. The initial Soviet cover up of the accident is well known. Less well known are the “stages of submission” in which the IAEA forced the Soviets to accede to their demands to minimise estimates of the health effects of the accident. In a series of manipulations and bullying tactics, they forced the Soviet officials to divide their estimates of the health effects by a factor of 10. One Soviet delegate, Legassov, committed suicide, a few days after he capitulated to the IAEA demands, on the 26th April 1988, the second anniversary of the Chernobyl accident.
A travesty of reporting on risks and cancers
How has the nuclear lobby reacted to Fukushima? A preliminary assessment published in 2012 by the World Health Organisation (but actually emanating from the IAEA) managed to draw optimistic conclusions, while ignoring two critical groups, the workers at the TEPCO plant, and the people who were evacuated from the immediate area (See [7] WHO Report on Fukushima a Travesty SiS 55). Then in 2013, the UNSCEAR report [8] described the risks of people developing thyroid cancer, leukaemia and breast cancer as barely discernible, even though the rates of childhood thyroid cancer in Fukushima prefecture are already 40 times what would be expected [9]. The UNSCEAR report has been criticised by the International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War because it consistently underestimates the radiation dose received, underestimates internal radiation, ignores the vulnerability of the human embryo to radiation, ignores hereditary effects, ignores the unreliability of the dose received by workers at the stricken plant, and only considers some cancers as potential health effects, whereas the experience of Chernobyl shows that every vital organ and system of the body is affected [10].
Raising the ‘safe’ limit of radiation
The Japanese people are faced with a government whose response to the dangers of the radiation was to increase the acceptable limit from 1 mSv/year to 20 mSv/year and who are now encouraging people to move back into areas that had previously been evacuated. (The millisievert is a unit of radiation dose. Before the Fukushima accident, Japan, like the rest of the world, respected the limit of 1 mSv/year recommended by the International Commission on Radiological Protection (ICRP).) Meanwhile, the nuclear lobby wants to see the resumption of nuclear power in Japan as quickly as possible. This is not an atmosphere in which doctors are encouraged to report health effects that could be the result of radiation, and certainly not in Tokyo, whose residents have been led to believe that they have nothing to fear.
Changes in white blood cells in children
Mita began work as a general practitioner in Tokyo in the 1990s. In the letter to his colleagues explaining his decision to move his practice from Tokyo to Okayama City, he claims that contamination in the eastern part of Tokyo is 1000-4000 Bq/kg and in the western part, 300-1000Bq/kg. He compares these levels with Kiev, in Ukraine, after the accident at Chernobyl, of 500 Bq/kg, and with measurements taken before the 2011 Fukushima accident at Shinjuku, the site of the Tokyo municipal government of 0.5 – 1.5 Bq/kg. He says that
Tokyo should no longer be inhabited, and that those who insist on living in Tokyo must take regular breaks in safer areas.
Mita conducts thyroid ultrasound tests for parents who are concerned about the health of their children but he is now concerned about the results of another test on children under 10, the differential white blood cell count. This test is undergone routinely by workers in the nuclear industry who are exposed to radiation. Blood is produced in bone marrow, which is one of the organs most vulnerable to radiation. The white blood cells consist of five different kinds of cells, neutrophils, lymphocytes, eosinocytes, basophils and monocytes, and it is the relative numbers of these five cell types that is examined. Mita has found a decline in neutrophils in children under 10, in areas that are not considered to be highly contaminated or even contaminated at all. His patients come from Northern Kanto, the area around Tokyo and including Tokyo itself [11].
"The pediatricians’ general textbook says that the reference value of neutrophils for healthy children (6-12 years old) is between 3000 and 5000. 3000 is considered as the threshold value.” Mita says. “But the mean value of neutrophils of the children who have visited our clinics since the accident has decreased to 2500. … It is lower than the threshold value of 3000. I think this points at a serious problem."
Mita explains that although the decrease in neutrophil does not directly cause lowered immunity, it is “the last bastion of the immunity system” and could play a role in fatal illnesses such as septicaemia in the case of aggressive colds. “In the summer of 2011, there were many children with bloodshot eyes; and what we saw most were children with dark circles under the eyes. We also had increased occurrence of sinusitis. Previously, these patients got better soon after they were given proper treatment; however, we are seeing more cases of sinusitis accompanied with mild case of asthma continuing for longer periods. And when these children spend some time in the West, they get better. If at all possible, I would like them to move away from East Japan.”
In adults, he has found increased nosebleeds, hair loss, lack of energy, subcutaneous bleeding, visible urinary haemorrhage, skin inflammation, and coughs. He has found an increase in infectious diseases such as influenza, hand, foot and mouth diseases and shingles. “We also see more patients with diseases that had been rare before; for example, polymyalgia rheumatica is a disease common among those above age 50 and contracted by 1.7 people out of every 100,000. Before 3.11, [the date of the accident at Fukushima] we had one or less patient per year. Now, we treat more than 10 patients at the same time.” Dr Mita wonders “Could these be the same symptoms of muscle rheumatism that were recorded in Chernobyl?”
Finally, Mita says that the radioactive contamination of Tokyo is increasing because of the Japanese government’s policy of transporting radioactive waste from the Fukushima zone all over Japan for incineration or burial. The Japanese government and the nuclear authorities claimed that filters on the stacks of the incineration plants would remove most of the radioactivity, but this is not the case, and in the opinion of many, it is adding to the contamination. Arnie Gundersen, for instance says, “They are creating 100 to 1000 times more radioactive material by burning debris than keeping it in concentrated form” [12].
To conclude
Mita is talking about his perceptions of the changes in health of a population living in an area that is not considered contaminated. It will be all too easy to dismiss his findings. He himself is not optimistic. He acknowledges that to prove any of his suspicions would require teams of doctors, and expensive research projects to compare groups of people, their radioactive contamination and the illnesses from which they suffer. That’s something simply beyond the reach of any single physician. In other words, “it’s impossible under the present state to collect the kind of data that would be printed in a prestigious science magazine. Still, as long as I know that something strange is clearly happening, I can’t just sit here doing nothing.”
And here is Professor Yablokov talking about the difficulties that doctors and scientists experienced in the Chernobyl territories, to prove a correlation between radiation and illness [13]: “The demand by IAEA and WHO experts to require “significant correlation” between the imprecisely calculated levels of individual radiation […] and precisely diagnosed illnesses […] is not, in our view, scientifically valid. […] We believe it is scientifically incorrect to reject data generated by many thousands of scientists, doctors and other experts who directly observed the suffering of millions affected by radioactive fallout in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, as “mismatching scientific protocols.” It is scientifically valid to find ways to abstract the valuable information from these data.” Yablokov goes on to list the ways in which this could be done.
But it was not done in Belarus, Ukraine and Russia, and, in this way, the true health consequences of the Chernobyl accident remain hidden. The 2 million people, including 500,000 children still living in the worst contaminated areas around Chernobyl suffer a myriad of illnesses. (According to the Ministry of Health and Sciences in Belarus in 2000, 85% of the children in the contaminated areas were ill, whereas that figure was 15% before the accident in 1986 [14].)
Mita has made a brave decision. The pressure on health professionals and other citizens in Japan to remain silent about the health consequences of Fukushima, will lead to a health catastrophe there — not now, but in the decades to come.
For more on Fukushima and Chernobyl see [15] Truth about Fukushima and other articles in the series (SiS 55) and [16] Fukushima Crisis Goes Global (SiS 61).
References:
  1. World Network for Saving Children from Radiation (2014). A Tokyo doctor who has moved to western Japan urges fellow doctors to promote radiation protection: A message from Dr Mita to his colleagues in Kodaira, Tokyo. Accessed 25 August 2014, http://www.save-children-from-radiation.org/2014/07/16/a-tokyo-doctor-who-has-moved-to-western-japan-urges-fellow-doctors-to-promote-radiation-protection-a-message-from-dr-mita-to-his-colleagues-in-kodaira-city-t/ 
  2. ENENews (2012). Gunderson: Tokyo soil so hot it should be sent to nuclear waste dump – Really severe releases hit city. Accessed 25 August 2014,  http://enenews.com/gundersen-tokyo-soil-hot-be-shipped-radioactive-dump).
  3. “Japan whistleblowers face crackdown under proposed state secrets law.” Justin McMurray, Guardian, 5 December 2013. Accessed 25 August 2014,http://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/dec/05/whistleblowers-japan-crackdown-state-secrets  
  4. Reporters without Borders (2013). Press freedom index 2013: Dashed hopes after spring. Accessed 25 August 2014,  http://en.rsf.org/press-freedom-index-2013,1054.html
  5. Practical Arrangements between Fukushima Medical University and the International Atomic Energy Agency on Cooperation in the Area of Human Health. Accessed 25 August 2014,http://www.mofa.go.jp/policy/energy/fukushima_2012/pdfs/fukushima_iaea_en_06.pdf
  6. Belbéoch B. Responsabilités occidentales dans les conséquences sanitaires de la catastrophe de Tchernobyl, en Bélorussie, Ukraine et Russie. In Radioprotection et Droit nucléaire (eds. I Rens, J Jakubec, E George). Collection SEBES, 1998. English translation: Western responsibility regarding the health consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe in Belarus, the Ukraine and Russia. http://www.dissident-media.org/infonucleaire/western_responsability.html 25/8/14
  7. Greaves S.  WHO report on Fukushima a travesty. Science in Society 55 2012, 38-39.
  8. United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation. Sources, Effects and Risks of Ionizing Radiation. United Nations, New York, 2014. Accessed 25 August 2014,http://www.unscear.org/docs/reports/2013/13-85418_Report_2013_Annex_A.pdf 
  9. Wasserman H. Fukushima, the continuing catastrophe.  The Ecologist, June 2014.http://www.theecologist.org/News/news_analysis/2433355/fukushima_the_continuing_catastrophe.html
  10. Physicians for Social Responsibility USA et al. Critical Analysis of the UNSCEAR Report “Levels and effects of radiation exposure due to the nuclear accident after the 2011 Great East-Japan Earthquake and tsunami.” International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW). Berlin, 2014. Accessed 25 August 2014, http://ippnw-students.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/06/UNSCEAR-Critique.pdf
  11. World Network for Saving Children from Radiation. Dr Shigeru Mita addresses the need of blood examination among children in the Kanto area. 2013. Accessed 25 August 2014, http://www.save-children-from-radiation.org/2013/11/11/title-dr-shigeru-mita-addresses-the-need-of-blood-examination-among-children-in-the-kanto-area/
  12. “Radioactive rubble reaction to haven in Japan.” Arnie Gundersen, Youtube.  Accessed 25 August 2014,   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dIr-QcsjKxE)
  13. Yablokov AV, Nesterenko VB and Nesterenko AV. Consequences of the Chernobyl catastrophe for public health and the environment 23 years later. Proceedings of the New York Academy of Sciences 1181, 2009, 318-326.
  14. UN Human Rights Council. Seventh session. Point 3. A/HRC/7/NGO/33 22 February 2008.
  15. Ho MW. Truth about Fukushima. Science in Society 55 2012,18-23.
  16. Ho MW. Fukushima crisis goes global. Science in Society 61 2014, 4-9.