Thursday, February 25, 2016

The Rape of East Timor: The Greatest Crime of the 20th Century, Executed and Covered up

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Secret documents found in the Australian National Archives provide a glimpse of how one of the greatest crimes of the 20th century was executed and covered up. They also help us understand how and for whom the world is run. 
The documents refer to East Timor, now known as Timor-Leste, and were written by diplomats in the Australian embassy in Jakarta. The date was November 1976, less than a year after the Indonesian dictator General Suharto seized the then Portuguese colony on the island of Timor.
The terror that followed has few parallels; not even Pol Pot succeeded in killing, proportionally, as many Cambodians as Suharto and his fellow generals killed in East Timor. Out of a population of almost a million, up to a third were extinguished.
This was the second holocaust for which Suharto was responsible. A decade earlier, in 1965, Suharto wrested power in Indonesia in a bloodbath that took more than a million lives. The CIA reported: “In terms of numbers killed, the massacres rank as one of the worst mass murders of the 20th century.”
This was greeted in the Western press as “a gleam of light in Asia” (Time).The BBC’s correspondent in South East Asia, Roland Challis, later described the cover-up of the massacres as a triumph of media complicity and silence; the “official line” was that Suharto had “saved” Indonesia from a communist takeover.
“Of course my British sources knew what the American plan was,” he told me. “There were bodies being washed up on the lawns of the British consulate in Surabaya, and British warships escorted a ship full of Indonesian troops, so that they could take part in this terrible holocaust. It was only much later that we learned that the American embassy was supplying [Suharto with] names and ticking them off as they were killed. There was a deal, you see. In establishing the Suharto regime, the involvement of the [US-dominated] International Monetary Fund and the World Bank were part of it. That was the deal.”
I have interviewed many of the survivors of 1965, including the acclaimed Indonesian novelist Pramoedya Ananta Toer, who bore witness to an epic of suffering “forgotten” in the West because Suharto was “our man”.  A second holocaust in resource-rich East Timor, an undefended colony, was almost inevitable.
In 1994, I filmed clandestinely in occupied East Timor; I found a land of crosses and unforgettable grief. In my film, Death of a Nation, there is a sequence shot on board an Australian aircraft flying over the Timor Sea. A party is in progress. Two men in suits are toasting each other in champagne. “This is a uniquely historical moment,” babbles one of them, “that is truly, uniquely historical.”
This is Australia’s foreign minister, Gareth Evans. The other man is Ali Alatas, the principal mouthpiece of Suharto. It is 1989 and they are making a symbolic flight to celebrate a piratical deal they called a “treaty”. This allowed Australia, the Suharto dictatorship and the international oil companies to divide the spoils of East Timor’s oil and gas resources.
Thanks to Evans, Australia’s then prime minister, Paul Keating — who regarded Suharto as a father figure — and a gang that ran Australia’s foreign policy establishment, Australia distinguished itself as the only western country formally to recognise Suharto’s genocidal conquest. The prize, said Evans, was “zillions” of dollars.
Members of this gang reappeared the other day in documents found in the National Archives by two researchers from Monash University in Melbourne, Sara Niner and Kim McGrath. In their own handwriting, senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs mock reports of the rape, torture and execution of East Timorese by Indonesian troops. In scribbled annotations on a memorandum that refers to atrocities in a concentration camp, one diplomat wrote: “sounds like fun”. Another wrote: “sounds like the population are in raptures.”
Referring to a report by the Indonesian resistance, Fretilin, that describes Indonesia as an “impotent” invader, another diplomat sneered: “If ‘the enemy was impotent’, as stated, how come they are daily raping the captured population? Or is the former a result of the latter?”
The documents, says Sarah Niner, are “vivid evidence of the lack of empathy and concern for human rights abuses in East Timor” in the Department of Foreign Affairs. “The archives reveal that this culture of cover-up is closely tied to the DFA’s need to recognise Indonesian sovereignty over East Timor so as to commence negotiations over the petroleum in the East Timor Sea.”
This was a conspiracy to steal East Timor’s oil and gas. In leaked diplomatic cables in August 1975, the Australian Ambassador to Jakarta, Richard Woolcott, wrote to Canberra: “It would seem to me that the Department [of Minerals and Energy] might well have an interest in closing the present gap in the agreed sea border and this could be much more readily negotiated with Indonesia … than with Portugal or independent Portuguese Timor.”  Woolcott revealed that he had been briefed on Indonesia’s secret plans for an invasion. He cabled Canberra that the government should “assist public understanding in Australia” to counter “criticism of Indonesia”.
In 1993, I interviewed C. Philip Liechty, a former senior CIA operations officer in the Jakarta embassy during the invasion of East Timor. He told me: “Suharto was given the green light [by the US] to do what he did. We supplied them with everything they needed [from] M16 rifles [to] US military logistical support … maybe 200,000 people, almost all of them non-combatants died. When the atrocities began to appear in the CIA reporting, the way they dealt with these was to cover them up as long as possible; and when they couldn’t be covered up any longer, they were reported in a watered-down, very generalised way, so that even our own sourcing was sabotaged.”
I asked Liechty what would have happened had someone spoken out. “Your career would end,” he replied. He said his interview with me was one way of making amends for “how badly I feel”.
The gang in the Australian embassy in Jakarta appear to suffer no such anguish.  One of the scribblers on the documents, Cavan Hogue, told the Sydney Morning Herald: ”It does look like my handwriting. If I made a comment like that, being the cynical bugger that I am, it would certainly have been in the spirit of irony and sarcasm. It’s about the [Fretilin] press release, not the Timorese.” Hogue said there were “atrocities on all sides”.
As one who reported and filmed the evidence of genocide, I find this last remark especially profane. The Fretilin “propaganda” he derides was accurate. The subsequent report of the United Nations on East Timor describes thousands of cases of summary execution and violence against women by Suharto’s Kopassus special forces, many of whom were trained in Australia. “Rape, sexual slavery and sexual violence were tools used as part of the campaign designed to inflict a deep experience of terror, powerlessness and hopelessness upon pro-independence supporters,”  says the UN.
Cavan Hogue, the joker and “cynical bugger”, was promoted to senior ambassador and eventually retired on a generous pension. Richard Woolcott was made head of the Department of Foreign Affairs in Canberra and, in retirement, has lectured widely as a “respected diplomatic intellectual”.
Journalists watered at the Australian embassy in Jakarta, notably those employed by Rupert Murdoch, who controls almost 70 per cent of Australia’s capital city press.  Murdoch’s correspondent in Indonesia was Patrick Walters, who reported that Jakarta’s “economic achievements” in East Timor were “impressive”, as was Jakarta’s “generous” development of the blood-soaked territory. As for the East Timorese resistance, it was “leaderless” and beaten. In any case, “no one was now arrested without proper legal procedures”.
In December 1993, one of Murdoch’s veteran retainers, Paul Kelly, then editor-in-chief of The Australian, was appointed by Foreign Minister Evans to the Australia-Indonesia Institute, a body funded by the Australian government to promote the “common interests” of Canberra and the Suharto dictatorship.  Kelly led a group of Australian newspaper editors to Jakarta for an audience with the mass murderer. There is a photograph of one of them bowing.
East Timor won its independence in 1999 with the blood and courage of its ordinary people. The tiny, fragile democracy was immediately subjected to a relentless campaign of bullying by the Australian government which sought to manoeuvre it out of its legal ownership of the sea bed’s oil and gas revenue. To get its way, Australia refused to recognise the jurisdiction of the International Court of Justice and the Law of the Sea and unilaterally changed the maritime boundary in its own favour.
In 2006, a deal was finally signed, Mafia-style, largely on Australia’s terms. Soon afterwards, Prime Minister Mari Alkitiri, a nationalist who had stood up to Canberra, was effectively deposed in what he called an “attempted coup” by “outsiders”. The Australian military, which had “peace-keeping” troops in East Timor, had trained his opponents.
In the 17 years since East Timor won its independence, the Australian government has taken nearly $5 billion in oil and gas revenue — money that belongs to its impoverished neighbour.
Australia has been called America’s “deputy sheriff” in the South Pacific. One man with the badge is Gareth Evans, the foreign minister filmed lifting his champagne glass to toast the theft of East Timor’s natural resources. Today, Evans is a lectern-trotting zealot promoting a brand of war-mongering known as “RTP”, or “Responsibility to Protect”.  As co-chair of a New York-based “Global Centre”, he runs a US-backed lobby group that urges the “international community” to attack countries where “the Security Council rejects a proposal or fails to deal with it in a reasonable time”. The man for the job, as the East Timorese might say.

The Great Fukushima Nuclear Cover-Up. The Power of Propaganda

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The Japanese were kept in the dark from the start of the Fukushima disaster about high radiation levels and their dangers to health, writes Linda Pentz Gunter. In order to proclaim the Fukushima area ‘safe’, the Government increased exposure limits to twenty times the international norm. Soon, many Fukushima refugees will be forced to return home to endure damaging levels of radiation.
Once you enter a radiation controlled area, you aren’t supposed to drink water, let alone eat anything. The idea that somebody is living in a place like that is unimaginable.
Dr. Tetsunari Iida is the founder and executive director of the Institute for Sustainable Energy Policies (ISEP) in Japan.
IAEA fact-finding team leader Mike Weightman visits the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on 27 May 2011 to assess tsunami damage. Photo: Greg Webb / IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (CC BY-SA).
IAEA fact-finding team leader Mike Weightman visits the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant on 27 May 2011 to assess tsunami damage. Photo: Greg Webb / IAEA Imagebank via Flickr (CC BY-SA).
As such, one might have expected a recent presentation he gave in the UK within the hallowed halls of the House of Commons, to have focused on Japan’s capacity to replace the electricity once generated by its now mainly shuttered nuclear power plants, with renewable energy.
But Dr lida’s passionate polemic was not about the power of the sun, but the power of propaganda. March 11, 2011 might have been the day the Great East Japan Earthquake struck. But it was also the beginning of the Great Japan Cover-Up.
On the ISEP website, Iida extols the coming of the Fourth Revolution, following on from those in agriculture, industry and IT. “This fourth revolution will be an energy revolution, a green industrial revolution, and a decentralized network revolution”, he writes.
But in person, Iida was most interested in conveying the extent to which the Japanese people were lied to before, during and after the devastating nuclear disaster at Fukushima-Daiichi, precipitated on that same fateful day and by the deadly duo of earthquake and tsunami.
“Shinzo Abe says ‘everything is under control’”, said Iida, speaking at an event hosted by Nuclear Free Local Authorities, Green Cross, and Nuclear Consulting Group in late January. It was headlined by the former Japan Prime Minister, Naoto Kan, who was at the helm when the triple disasters struck.“Yes – under the control of the media!”
A trial for Tepco like post-war Tokyo Trials
The media may have played the willing government handmaiden in reassuring the public with falsehoods, but in July 2012, the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission concluded that the disaster was really no accident but man-made. It came about, the researchers said, as a result of “collusion” between the government, regulators and the nuclear industry, in this case, Tepco.
“There should be a Tepco trial like the post-war Tokyo Trials”, Iida said, referring to the post World War II war crimes trial in which 28 Japanese were tried, seven of whom were subsequently executed by hanging.
Hope for such accountability – without advocating hanging - is fleeting at best. In 2011, while addressing a conference in Berlin hosted by the Heinrich Böll Foundation, I suggested the Tepco officials should be sent to the International Criminal Court at The Hague, (a body the US still conveniently refuses to recognize) to answer for what clearly amounts to crimes against humanity.
The remark caused a bit of a stir and earnest questions about the mechanism by which Tepco could be brought there. Needless to say, nothing of the kind ever happened, or is likely to.
Instead, the Abe’s government’s preferred tactic is to go full out to restart reactors and move everybody back home as soon as possible, as if nothing serious had happened. Just scoop off a little topsoil, cart it away somewhere else and, Abracadabra! Everything is clean and safe again!
Normalizing radiation, a policy and now a practice
Of course radiological decontamination is not that easy. Nor is it reliable. It is more likepushing contamination from one spot to the next”, as independent nuclear expert, Mycle Schneider describes it. And radiation does not remain obediently in one place, either.
“The mountains and forests that cannot even be vaguely decontaminated, will serve as a permanent source of new contamination, each rainfall washing out radiation and bringing it down from the mountains to the flat lands”, Schneider explained. Birds move around. Animals eat and excrete radioactive plant life. Radiation gets swept out to sea. It is a cycle with no end.
Nevertheless, efforts are underway to repopulate stricken areas, particularly in Fukushima Prefecture. It’s a policy, and now a practice, of ‘normalizing’ radiation standards, to tell people that everything is alright, when clearly, there is no medical or scientific evidence to support this. And it was an approach already firmly and institutionally in place, even on March 11, 2011 as the Fukushima disaster first struck and much of the decision-making was left to individual judgement.
“We were told that evacuating poses a greater risk than radiation,” recalls Hasegawa Kenji, a farmer from Iitate, a village situated 45 kilometers from the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Featured in the Vice documentary Alone In The Zone‘, Hasegawa criticizedIitate’s mayor for making what he called a terrible mistake.
Even when the scientists told the mayor that Iitate was dangerous, he ignored them all. He brought in experts from around the country who preached about how safe it was here. They said we had nothing to worry about. They kept telling us that. Eventually the villagers fell for it and began to relax. And the mayor rejected the idea of evacuating even more. That’s why nobody left, even though the radiation levels were so high.
The nuclear industry did not tell the public the truth
The confusion surrounding evacuation was so profound that, as Zhang et al. noted in a September 11, 2014 study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public HealthUnclear evacuation instructions caused numerous residents to flee to the northwestern zone where radiation levels were even higher.”
All par for the course, said Iida. “I must emphasize, the people in the nuclear industry did not tell the public the truth and keep us informed.”
Next in the ‘normalization’ process came the decision to raise allowable radiation exposure standards to 20 millisieverts of radiation a year, up from the prior level of 2 mSv a year. The globally-accepted limit for radiation absorption is 1 mSv a year.
This meant that children were potentially being exposed to the same levels of radiation that are permitted for adult nuclear power plant workers in Europe. Some officials even argued that zones where rates were as high as 100 mSv a year should be considered ‘safe’. Writing on his blog, anti-pollution New Orleans-based attorney, Stuart Smith,observed wryly:
Instead of taking corrective measures to protect its people, Japan has simply increased internationally recognized exposure limits. It seems that the priority – as we’ve seen in so many other industrial disasters in so many other countries – is to protect industry and limit its liability rather than to ensure the long-term health and well being of the masses. Go figure.
The great repatriation lie
All of this set the perfect stage for the Great Repatriation Lie. “It’s the big cover-up,” Iida told his Westminster audience. “People are being told it’s quite safe to have a little [radiation] exposure.”
Indeed, at a recent conferences of prefectural governors, young people in particular were urged to return to Fukushima. “If you come to live with us in Fukushima and work there, that will facilitate its post-disaster reconstruction and help you lead a meaningful life”,said Fukushima Gov. Masao Uchibori.
Young people in Japan, however, appear not to be cooperating. Where evacuees are returning, the majority are senior citizens, who have less to lose from a health perspective and are more traditionally tied to the land and their ancestral burial grounds.
“They want to die where they were born and not in an unfamiliar place”, said Yoshiko Aoki, an evacuee herself who now works with others, and who also spoke at the London conference.
All of this impacts revenue from the inhabitants’ tax which constitutes 24.3% of all local tax sources and is collected by both prefectures and municipalities. It is levied on both individuals and corporations but with the bulk of revenue coming from individuals.
Senior citizens who have retired do not contribute to income tax, so the onus is on governors and mayors to lure as many working people as possible back to their towns and regions in order to effectively finance local public services.
Radioactive areas are hardest hit economically
Late last year, the Asahi Shimbun looked at tax revenues in the 42 municipalities affected by the triple 2011 disasters of earthquake, tsunami and the Fukushima meltdowns.
Unsurprisingly, the areas hardest hit by radiological contamination had suffered the biggest economic blows. Those areas free from radioactive fallout could simply rebuild after the tsunami and earthquake, and had consequently recovered economically, some even to better than pre-3/11 levels.
On the other end of the scale, Namie, Fukushima Prefecture, marked the biggest decreasing rate – 72.9 percent – in tax revenues for fiscal 2014″, the Asahi Shimbunreported“All residents of the town near the crippled nuclear plant remain in evacuation. Although tax payments from companies increased from decontamination work and other public works projects, income taxes paid by residents and fixed asset taxes have declined.”
To return or not to return is the question of the hour – or it will be come March 2017, when the Abe government has announced it will revoke many evacuation orders. At that point, government compensation to evacuees would be lifted, putting them under financial pressure to return. Cue more confusion.
People are confronted, said Iida, with “two extreme views, either that it’s very dangerous or quite safe. So it’s very difficult to decide which is the truth and it has been left up to individuals.”
One of those towns that could be declared ‘safe’ is Tomioka, Japan’s Pripyat, formerly home to close to 16,000 people but now uninhabited.
“It’s like a human experiment, that’s how we feel,” said Aoki in London, herself a former Tomioka resident. “The Governor of Fukushima spoke about a safe Fukushima. We want it to become safe, but our thoughts and reality are not one and the same.”
Observes Kyoto University professor of nuclear physics, Koide Hiroaki, in the Vice film, who has been outspoken for decades against the continued use of nuclear energy:
Once you enter a radiation controlled area, you aren’t supposed to drink water, let alone eat anything. The idea that somebody”, he pauses, ” … is living in a place like that is unimaginable.

The Public Is Being Looted By Privatization And Deregulation

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The privatization movement and the deregulation movement have turned out to be failures.
Privatization in Britain under the Thatcher government had its origin in the belief that the absence of incentivized managers and shareholders with a stake in the bottom line resulted in nationalized companies operating inefficiently, with their losses covered by government like the big private banks’ losses today. Thatcher’s government believed that privatizing socialized firms would reduce the UK budget deficit and take pressure off the British pound.
Today privatization is a way that governments can reward cronies by giving them valuable public resources for a low price. When the UK government privatized the postal system, there were news reports that one postal property in London alone was worth the purchase price of the entire postal service.
Privatization is also a way that conservatives, who object to social pensions and national health, can stop “taxpayer support of welfare.” In the US conservatives want to privatize Social Security and Medicare. In the UK conservatives want to privatize the National Health System.
It looks like the UK Conservative government is taking a step in the direction of privatizing the national health system, one of the great social reforms in British history. https://www.rt.com/uk/333270-nhs-professionals-privatized-deloitte/[1]
In the US there are advocates of privatizing the national forests. In some ways the forests are already privatized as private timber companies are allowed to “harvest” the trees at favorable prices, and often the government even builds the roads for them.
In the US deregulation has resulted in high prices and poor service. When airlines were regulated, they competed on service. They had spare equipment so that mechanical problems did not mean cancelled flights. Stopovers did not involve additional costs.
When AT&T had a regulated communication monopoly, the service was excellent and the price was low. Today we have a large number of unregulated local monopolies, and the prices are high. The bottom line and managerial bonuses are more important than service. Customers experience constant service interruptions. Maintenance and broadband improvements are sacrificed to executive salaries.
In the US and UK public university tuition has risen so high that the universities have in effect been privatized. When I went to college there was no such thing as student loans. In-state tuition was nominal, and colleges provided inexpensive housing and meals. Most students in state universities were residents of the state.
Many aspects of the US military have been privatized. Services that the military formerly provided in-house are now contracted out to private companies at high costs.
The case for privatization and deregulation needs to be reexamined in light of the evidence and the real reasons they are being pursued.

Fukushima – Deep Trouble

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The Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant disaster may go down as one of history’s boundless tragedies and not just because of a nuclear meltdown, but rather the tragic loss of a nation’s soul.
Imagine the following scenario: 207 million cardboard book boxes, end-to-end, circumnavigating Earth, like railroad tracks, going all the way around the planet. That’s a lot of book boxes. Now, fill the boxes with radioactive waste. Forthwith, that’s the amount of radioactive waste stored unsheltered in one-tonne black bags throughout Fukushima Prefecture, amounting to 9,000,000 cubic metres
But wait, there’s more to come, another 13,000,000 cubic metres of radioactive soil is yet to be collected. (Source: Voice of America News, Problems Keep Piling Up in Fukushima, Feb. 17, 2016).
And, there’s still more, the cleanup operations only go 50-100 feet beyond roadways. Plus, a 100-mile mountain range along the coast and hillsides around Fukushima are contaminated but not cleansed at all. As a consequence, the decontaminated land will likely be re-contaminated by radioactive runoff from the hills and mountains.
Indubitably, how and where to store millions of cubic metres of one-tonne black bags filled with radioactive waste is no small problem. It is a super-colossal problem. What if bags deteriorate? What if a tsunami hits? The “what-ifs” are endless, endless, and beyond.
“The black bags of radioactive soil, now scattered at 115,000 locations in Fukushima, are eventually to be moved to yet-to-be built interim facilities, encompassing 16 square kilometers, in two towns close to the crippled nuclear power plant,” Ibid.
By itself, 115,000 locations each containing many, many, mucho one-tonne bags of radioactive waste is a logistical nightmare, just the trucking alone is forever a humongous task, decades to come.
According to Japanese government and industry sources, cleaning up everything and decommissioning the broken down reactors will take at least 40 years at a cost of $250 billion, assuming nothing goes wrong. But dismally, everything that can possibly go wrong for Tokyo Electric Power Company (“TEPCO”) over the past 5 years has gone wrong, not a good record.
And, Japan is hosting the 2020 Olympics?
Yet, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant remains totally out of control with no end in sight. As far as that goes, Olympic events alongside an out of control nuclear meltdown seem unfathomable.
As recently as October 30, 2015, The Japan Times reported: “Extremely high radiation levels and the inability to grasp the details about melted nuclear fuel make it impossible for the utility to chart the course of its planned decommissioning of the reactors at the plant.”
On the other hand, according to TEPCO, preparation is underway for removal of the melted nuclear fuel, scheduled to begin in 2021. “But it is difficult to know what is happening inside the reactors, and there are no established methods for doing so… It is not difficult to get a camera inside the reactor. The problem is the camera breaks down due to high levels of radiation,” according to Toru Ogawa, director of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency’s Collaborative Laboratories for Advanced Decommissioning Science (Kiyoshi Ando, senior staff writer, Long Road Ahead for Fukushima Cleanup, Nikkei Asian Review, Feb. 19, 2016).
Beyond the remote possibility they find the melted nuclear core aka: corium, engineers have not yet figured out how to cart the molten core away, assuming it can ever be located, and somehow handled. Meantime, if molten core burrows through the steel-reinforced concrete containment vessels into Earth, then what? It is likely a disaster for the ages! But, what about the Olympics?
If perchance melted nuclear core penetrates its steel-reinforced concrete containment vessel and burrows into the ground, it likely results in deadly isotopes uncontrollably spreading erratically, ubiquitously into surrounding underground soil and water. It is difficult to imagine Olympic events where melted nuclear core is still at large.
“Sporting events at the 2020 Tokyo Olympics are to be held in the Japanese region of Fukushima… Spectators and athletes in the Olympic village will be served with food from the region as part of an effort to restore the reputation of Fukushima, formerly one of Japan’s richest agricultural regions,” Fukushima to Host Olympic 2020 Events, The Times, Feb. 25, 2015.
The Tragedy of Countless Unreported Worker Deaths
Indeed, the question of whether Fukushima can ever be adequately, safely decontaminated is wide-open, which logically segues to question who does the dirty work, how workers are hired, and what’s their health status? According to mainstream news sources in Japan, workers are doing just fine, estimates range up to 45,000 workers all-in, no major problems.
As far as the world is concerned, the following headline sums up radiation-related issues for workers, First Fukushima Worker Diagnosed With Radiation-linked Cancer, The Telegraph, Oct. 20, 2015. All things considered, that’s not so bad. But, who’s counting?
Trustworthy sources outside of mainstream news claim otherwise, none more so than Mako Oshidori, a Japanese freelance journalist and a director of Free Press Corporation/Japan, and a former student of School of Life Sciences at Tottori University Faculty of Medicine, in a lecture entitled “The Hidden Truth about Fukushima” delivered at the international conference “Effects of Nuclear Disasters on Natural Environment and Human Health” held in Germany in 2014 co-organized by International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War.
Free Press Corporation/Japan was formed after the 2011 Great Sendai Earthquake as a counterbalance to Japan’s mainstream government influenced media, described by Mako as journalists who do not report truth, journalists afraid of the truth!
“There is one thing that really surprised me here in Europe. It’s the fact that people here think Japan is a very democratic and free country.” (Mako Oshidori)
According to Mako, TEPCO and the government deliberately cover-up deaths of Fukushima workers, and not only do they cover-up deaths, but once she investigated stories of unreported deaths, government agents started following her: “When I would talk to someone, a surveillance agent from the central government’s public police force would come very close, trying to eavesdrop on the conversation,” Exposed: Death of Fukushima Workers Covered-Up by TEPCO and Government, NSNBC International, March 21, 2014.
Mako Oshidori: “I would like to talk about my interview of a nurse who used to work at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant (NPP) after the accident… He quit his job with TEPCO in 2013, and that’s when I interviewed him… As of now, there are multiple NPP workers that have died, but only the ones who died on the job are reported publicly. Some of them have died suddenly while off work, for instance, during the weekend or in their sleep, but none of their deaths are reported.”
“Not only that, they are not included in the worker death count. For example, there are some workers who quit the job after a lot of radiation exposure, such as 50, 60 to 70 mili Sieverts, and end up dying a month later, but none of these deaths are either reported, or included in the death toll. This is the reality of the NPP workers.”
The “reality of the NPP workers… dying a month later” does not correspond very well with Abe administration insistence that nuke plants reopen, even though the country has continued to function for five years without nuclear power, hmm.
In her speech, Mako talks about problems for journalists because of government interference: “An ex-agent who is knowledgeable about the work of the Public Security Intelligence Agency (“PSIA”) said that when you are visibly followed, that was meant to intimidate you. If there was one person visible, then there would be ten more. I think that is analogous to cockroaches. So, when you do a little serious investigation about the nuclear accident, you are under various pressure and it makes it more difficult to interview people.”
Still, she interviewed Fukushima mothers, e.g., “Next, I would like to talk about mothers in Fukushima. These mothers (and fathers) live in Iwaki City, Fukushima. They are active on school lunch issues. Currently, Fukushima produce isn’t selling well due to suspected contamination. So the prefectural policy is to encourage the use of Fukushima produce in school lunches, in an attempt to appeal to its safety… the mothers claim that currently in Japan only cesium is measured and they have no idea if there is any strontium-90. They oppose the use of Fukushima produce in school lunches for fear of finding out, ten-plus years down the road, that there was actually plutonium in the food that children ate.”
Mothers who oppose the prefecture’s luncheon policy are told to leave Fukushima Prefecture, move out if they worry about contamination, pull up stakes and move on.
Mako’s full interview is found here.
All of which begs the question of who does the dirty work? According to Michel Chossudovsky, director of Centre for Research on Globalization (Canada), Japan’s organized crime syndicate Yakusa is actively involved in recruitment. Personnel who qualify for radioactive cleanup work include underemployed, impoverished, indigent, unemployed, homeless, hard up, down-and-out, and poverty-stricken individuals, as well as non-destitute people willing to undertake under-paid, high-risk work. The nameless are shoe-ins.
As intimated by Mako Oshidori, governmental secrecy laws and intimidation techniques vastly overshadow the tragedy of the disaster, an oppressive black cloud that won’t go away. People are scared to say anything for fear of reprisal, jail, and blacklisting. Mako Oshidori’s name is prominently secretly blacklisted. A government mole told her.
Accordingly, it is instructive to look at Japan’s new state secrecy law Act on the Protection of Specially Designated Secrets (SDS) Act No. 108 of 2013 passed on the heels of the Fukushima meltdown, very similar to Japan’s harsh Public Peace and Order Controls of WWII. According to Act No. 108, the “act of leaking itself” is bad enough for prosecution, regardless of what, how, or why.
Thereupon, Susumu Murakoshi, president of the Japan Federation of Bar Associations says: “The law should be abolished because it jeopardizes democracy and the people’s right to know,” Abe’s Secrets Law Undermines Japan’s Democracy, The Japan Times, Dec. 13, 2014.
Public opinion is shaped by public knowledge of events, but the Abe government’s enactment of an extraordinarily broad dastardly secrecy law (almost anyone can be arrested) that threatens prison sentences up to 10 years undermines confidence in believability of the Japanese government. But categorically, Japan needs to nurture confidence.

The Evil Empire Has The World In A Death Grip

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In my archives there is a column or two that introduces the reader to John Perkins’ important book, Confessions of an Economic Hit Man. An EHM is an operative who sells the leadership of a developing country on an economic plan or massive development project. The Hit Man convinces a country’s government that borrowing large sums of money from US financial institutions in order to finance the project will raise the country’s living standards. The borrower is assured that the project will increase Gross Domestic Product and tax revenues and that these increases will allow the loan to be repaid.
However, the plan is designed to over-estimate the benefits so that the indebted country cannot pay the principal and interest. As Perkins’ puts it, the plans are based on “distorted financial analyses, inflated projections, and rigged accounting,” and if the deception doesn’t work, “threats and bribes” are used to close the deal.
The next step in the deception is the appearance of the International Monetary Fund. The IMF tells the indebted country that the IMF will save its credit rating by lending the money with which to repay the country’s creditors. The IMF loan is not a form of aid. It merely replaces the country’s indebtedness to banks with indebtedness to the IMF.
To repay the IMF, the country has to accept an austerity plan and agree to sell national assets to private investors. Austerity means cuts in social pensions, social services, employment and wages, and the budget savings are used to repay the IMF. Privatization means selling oil, mineral and public infrastructure in order to repay the IMF. The deal usually imposes an agreement to vote with the US in the UN and to accept US military bases.
Occasionally a country’s leader refuses the plan or the austerity and privatization. If bribes don’t work, the US sends in the jackals—assassins who remove the obstacle to the looting process.
Perkins’ book caused a sensation. It showed that the United States’ attitude of helpfulness toward poorer countries was only a pretext for schemes to loot the countries. Perkins’ book sold more than a million copies and stayed on the New York Times bestseller list for 73 weeks.
Now the book has been reissued with the addition of 14 new chapters and a 30-page listing of Hit Man activity during the years 2004-2015. http://www.amazon.com/New-Confessions-Economic-Hit-Man/dp/1626566747/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1456080628&sr=1-1&keywords=John+Perkins [1]
Perkins shows that despite his revelations, the situation is worse than ever and has spread into the West itself. The populations of Ireland, Greece, Portugal, Spain, Italy, and the United States itself are now being looted by Hit Man activity.
Perkins’ book shows that the US is “exceptional” only in the unbridled violence it applies to others who get in its way. One of the new chapters tells the story of France-Albert Rene, president of Seychelles, who threatened to reveal the illegal and inhumane eviction of the residents of Diego Garcia by Britain and Washington so that the island could be converted into an air base from which Washington could bomb noncompliant countries in the Middle East, Asia, and Africa. Washington sent in a team of jackels to murder the president of Seychelles, but the assassins were foiled. All but one were captured, tried and sentenced to execution or prison, but a multi-million dollar bribe to Rene freed them. Rene got the message and became compliant.
In the original printing of his book, Perkins tells the stories of how jackals arranged airplane crashes to get rid of Panama’s non-compliant president, Omar Torrijos, and Ecuador’s non-compliant president, Jaime Roldos. When Rafael Correa became president of Ecuador, he refused to pay some of the illegitimate debts that had been piled on Ecuador, closed the United States’ largest military base in Latin America, forced the renegotiation of exploitative oil contracts, ordered the central bank to use funds deposited in US banks for domestic projects, and consistently opposed Washington’s hegemonic control over Latin America.
Correa had marked himself for overthrow or assassination. However, Washington had just overthrown in a military coup the democratically elected Honduran president, Manuel Zelaya, whose policies favored the people of Honduras over those of foreign interests. Concerned that two military coups in succession against reformist presidents would be noticed, to get rid of Correa the CIA turned to the Ecuadoran police. Led by a graduate of Washington’s School of the Americas, the police moved to overthrow Correa but were overpowered by the Ecuadoran military. However, Correa got the message. He reversed his policies toward American oil companies and announced that he would auction off huge blocks of Eucador’s rain forests to the oil companies. He closed down, Fundacion Pachamama, an organization with which a reformed Perkins was associated that worked to preserve Ecuador’s rain forests and indigenous populations.
Western banks backed up by the World Bank are even worse looters than the oil and timber companies. Perkins writes: “Over the past three decades, sixty of the world’s poorest countries have paid $550 billion in principal and interest on loans of $540 billion, yet they still owe a whopping $523 billion on those same loans. The cost of servicing that debt is more than these countries spend on health or education and is twenty times the amount they receive annually in foreign aid. In addition, World Bank projects have brought untold suffering to some of the planet’s poorest people. In the past ten years alone, such projects have forced an estimated 3.4 million people out of their homes; the governments in these countries have beaten, tortured, and killed opponents of World Bank projects.”
Perkins describes how Boeing plundered Washington state taxpayers. Using lobbyists, bribes, and blackmail threats to move production facilities to another state, Boeing succeeded in having the Washington state legislature give the corporation a tax break that diverted $8.7 billion into Boeings’ coffers from health care, education and other social services. The massive subsidies legislated for the benefit of corporations are another form of rent extraction and Hit Man activity.
Perkins has a guilty conscience and still suffers from his role as a Hit Man for the evil empire, which has now turned to the plunder of American citizens. He has done everything he can to make amends, but he reports that the system of exploitation has multiplied many times and is now so commonplace that it no longer has to be hidden. Perkins writes:
“A major change is that this EHM system, today, is also at work in the United States and other economically developed countries. It is everywhere. And there are many more variations on each of these tools. There are hundreds of thousands more EHMs spread around the world. They have created a truly global empire. They are working in the open as well as in the shadows. This system has become so widely and deeply entrenched that it is the normal way of doing business and therefore is not alarming to most people.”
People have been so badly plundered by jobs offshoring and indebtedness that consumer demand cannot support profits. Consequently, capitalism has turned to exploiting the West itself. Faced with rising resistance, the EHM system has armed itself with “the PATRIOT Act, the militarization of police forces, a vast array of new surveillance technologies, the infiltration and sabotage of the Occupy movement, and the dramatic expansion of privatized prisons.” The democratic process has been subverted by the Supreme Court’s Citizens United ruling and other court decisions, by corporate-funded political action committees, and by organizations such as the American Legislative Exchange Council financed by the One Percent. Cadres of lawyers, lobbyists, and strategists are hired to legalize corruption, and presstitutes work overtime to convince gullible Americans that elections are real and represent the workings of democracy.
In a February 19, 2016 article in OpEdNews, Matt Peppe reports that the American colony of Puerto Rico is being driven into the ground in order to satisfy foreign creditors. http://www.opednews.com/articles/Puerto-Ricans-Suffer-as-Cr-by-Matt-Peppe-160219-676.html [2]
The airport has been privatized, and the main highways have been privatized in a 40-year lease owned by a consortium formed by a Goldman Sachs infrastructure investment fund. Puerto Ricans now pay private corporations for the use of infrastructure that tax dollars built. Recently Puerto Rico’s sales tax was raised 64% to 11.5%. A sales tax increase is equivalent to a rise in inflation and results in a decline in real incomes.
Today the only difference between capitalism and gangsterism is that capitalism has succeeded in legalizing its gangsterism and, thus, can strike a harder bargain than can the Mafia.
Perkins shows that the evil empire has the world in the grip of a “death economy.”
He concludes that “we need a revolution” in order “to bury the death economy and birth the life economy.” Don’t look to politicians, neoliberal economists, and presstitutes for any help.