Archive | September 2nd, 2015

Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Coalition Bombs Yemen Water Bottling Plant, Killing Dozens of Civilians

NOVANEWS

As onslaught enters sixth month, death toll soars past 4,300

The site of a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen's capital Sanaa August 30, 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

The site of a Saudi-led air strike in Yemen’s capital Sanaa August 30, 2015. (Photo: Reuters/Khaled Abdullah)

In the midst of a war-fueled water crisis, the Saudi Arabia-led coalition reportedly bombed a water bottling plant in northern Yemen on Sunday, adding to mounting civilian casualties as the military onslaught enters its sixth month.

“The corpses of 36 workers, many of them burnt or in pieces, were pulled out after an air strike hit the plant this morning,” resident Issa Ahmed told Reuters of Sunday’s bombing in the province of Hajjah.

The Yemeni Defense Ministry put the number of civilians killed at 34, with dozens wounded.

Coalition spokesperson Brigadier General Ahmed Asseri denied that the bombing hit a civilian target. However, this claim contradicts reports by residents and medical officials. Meanwhile, four civilians were reportedly killed in a separate bombing in the capital of Sana’a.

The bombings follow a series of attacks targeting civilian infrastructure and neighborhoods. Coalition strikes killed 65 people in Taiz late last week, the vast majority of them civilians. Furthermore, the bombing of a milk factory in the Red Sea port city of Hodeida in July killed 65 people.

In a report released earlier this month, humanitarian aid agency Amnesty International criticized the coalition’s “pattern of strikes targeting heavily populated areas including civilian homes, a school, a market and a mosque. In the majority of cases no military target could be located nearby.”

The organization reported that a July 9 attack killed “10 members of one family including four children who had sought shelter at a school in north Aden after being displaced from their home because of fighting.”

Since March 26, the Saudi-led bombing campaign has also struck markets, schools, medical facilities, power plants, refugee camps, and warehouses storing humanitarian aid. Over 4,300 people have been killed in the conflict, according to the United Nations. Meanwhile, Saudi ground forces have reportedly entered Yemen for the first time since the conflict began.

The Saudi-led military coalition includes the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Egypt, Jordan, Kuwait, Morocco, Qatar, and Sudan. While the United States and United Kingdom both say they are not formally part of the coalition, they are both providing direct assistance—including logistics and intelligence—as well as serving as major weapons suppliers for the campaign.

The ongoing fighting, decimation of civilian infrastructure, and Saudi-led naval blockade, is driving a food and water crisis. The World Food Program warned earlier this month that roughly 13 million people in Yemen are food insecure, including 6 million—or one in five people—whoare in “urgent need of external assistance.” Meanwhile, water has reached critical shortages, with prices in Sana’a tripling since the start of the conflict.

“Right now, the conflict-driven convergence between the lack of staple food, access to clean water, and a diminished fuel supply create the dawn of a perfect storm for the most vulnerable Yemeni people,” said Ertharin Cousin, WFP Executive Director.

People from within Yemen and the diaspora have turned to social media to document the impacts of the military assault. The independent online campaign Kefaya War, or “enough war” in Arabic, continues to call for a cessation of hostilities:

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NO MATTER WHO GETS ELECTED, OUR NEW PRESIDENT WILL KILL AMERICANS FOR I$RAHELL

NOVANEWS
By John Kaminski
We’ve been through this before. It doesn’t matter who you vote for. Because whoever becomes the next U.S. president, the one thing he or she is certain to do is kill innocent people for Israel. And the worst of it is, our next president will kill Americans for Israel, as presidents have done ever since the days Woodrow Wilson sent Americans to die in World War I, right after the Jews created the Federal Reserve and took over the U.S. for real.
Our current hypocritical homicidal mania, based on a false War on Terror that the Jewish controlled U.S. has created itself, will not cease until the Jewish objective of a world completely controlled by murderous Jews is achieved. And then the maxim that the ancient Scottish warrior Calgacus said of the Romans will be achieved: “They make a desert and they call it peace.”
There is no one on the political scene in America even remotely tempted to point out that the U.S. is morally wrong and psychologically deformed in all its activities. The long ago advice of John Quincy Adams that we should avoid foreign entanglements has been completely wiped out by savage Jews who have hijacked the country by taking control of its money supply.
America is a vampire predator that has abandoned its own founding principles and is devouring its own children, following the Judeo Christian tradition expressed in Deuteronomy 28:56, in which mothers are required to eat their own children if they don’t follow God’s holy laws.
The ugliness of this twisted admonition is clearly visible in the serial invasions of countries Israel wants destroyed and is using its remote control U.S. forces to get this demonic job done. Its influence is even more obvious by how America is now treating its own children, by deliberately impoverishing and poisoning them, imposing defective education on them so they can never be anything more than slaves, and kidnapping not a small percentage of them as sexual playthings for the very well-to-do.
You know the very rich actually eat children, just as Deuteronomy predicted. <http://topinfopost.com/2014/06/17/royals-killing-children-for-fun-hunting-parties>
Look with horror on the array of so-called candidates to replace the artificial president we have had for the past eight years. All are pledged to continue the artificial reality that was created by 9/11, enabling kosher America to make war on the whole world. None of these candidates will forthrightly address that lie; all of them will continue the tyranny leading America down the road to a debased slavery.
The recent populist successes of Donald Trump guarantee that Hillary Clinton will be elected president of the United States in 2016. Either Trump wins the Republican nomination and Hillary wins in a landslide with votes from everyone who wants to keep getting government checks, or Trump runs as a third party candidate and steals enough votes from Jeb Bush to assure Hillary and Bill make it back to the White House to continue their criminal hijinks.
So either way, once again we will have a president who is not afraid to murder large numbers of people at the behest of our Israeli overseers. Of course, this is true for all the candidates who have announced, because everyone running is willing if not eager to kill for Israel and reap the rewards this inhuman behavior bestows on its immoral practitioners.
But isn’t it appalling that a Bush-Clinton election contest is a chilling reprise of the 1992 race, and when you think of how far downhill living conditions have plummeted in that period of time, anyone who thinks America is going to rebound from the plundering of the nation by Jewish interests is either one of the 14 million on the government dole, or a professor advocating sexual perversions on one of the thousands of kosher campuses throughout the country, or a crackhead!
That Americans accept the same two loser names from the election that sent the U.S. spiraling toward oblivion reveals in startling clarity just how retarded Americans actually are, and how little they know of what is actually happening in the world.
It appears I have a mindset that barely exists anymore, since I’m from a generation that grew up with some idea that quality, integrity and competence meant something. Today, kids are being raised not to be able to spell, and to aspire to either winning the lottery or profiting mightily from some illegal activity at which they won’t get caught because they paid off the right people.
They are being sexualized at an early age (no doubt for future use by the power elite) and given vaccinations that will assure they will never be fully functioning human beings. In the case of girls, this mass rape by the drug Gardasil will guarantee most of the next generation will be born defective.
I’ve heard for many years that Americans elect presidents who are perfect reflections of the typical average American. I realize this is an embarrassing indictment, but we have seen how true this has been in the sorry string of narcissistic sociopaths who have lived in the White House during most of my lifetime.
This same sadistic social strata of unemployable actors is deftly arrayed for another hilarious campaign season where each of these asinine aspirants will compete for the right to bend over and accept and implement the treasonous suggestions of the Jewish bankers.
Why Americans don’t demand their leaders act humanely and be concerned for the welfare of their fellow citizens not only verifies the proposition that presidents are merely accurate reflections of the population, but graphically demonstrates how irresponsible, undependable and corruptible Americans really are. Maybe all humans are this way, but if so, it only guarantees our future will be just as pathetic and chaotic as our past.
In almost every election I’ve witnessed since the 1960s, there has always been some dark horse champion who, early in the election season, promises to ride to the rescue of corrupt American politics and seize the White House from the two major parties. Eugene McCarthy, Pete McCloskey, John Anderson, Ross Perot. Names now long forgotten have captured the attention of Americans for a brief period of time, then faded into obscurity as the two party system that is really only one party wins the election after all the lemmings rationalize they don’t want to waste their votes and that they want to feel good by voting for the winner.
Donald Trump is now such a trivial name occupying our attention for a short period of time. But at the moment, he is a character who has stepped right out of a Philip K. Dick novel and inveigled the populace in a pink haze of seemingly relevant rhetoric, playing to xenophobia? Still, we should remember that Reagan was an actor, and so is Trump.
The media ascendance of this egotistical millionaire, as was the case with Perot in the early 1990s, is a strategic initiative meant to influence the eventual election in favor of the candidate really supported by the power elite. It a very similar situation to the election of 1912 in which ex-president Theodore Roosevelt was “persuaded” to enter the race with his Bullmoose party, thereby guaranteeing the defeat of incumbent Republican William Howard Taft and assuring the election of Democrat Woodrow Wilson, “the peace candidate”, who promptly got us into World War I and supervised the creation of the Federal Reserve and the income tax.
As the jiggered election of 1912 led us into war and changed the nature of the United States in perpetuity by giving over control of our money to the Jewish bankers, so the election of 2016 will further change America permanently by giving over control of America’s military to Hillary Clinton, a certified murderer who not only arranged and watched the killing of an American ambassador, Christopher Stevens, who was up to his ears in illegally funneling weapons from one country the U.S. was destroying (Libya) to another country it wished to destroy (Syria), but she also supervised the assassination of her former confidante (and lover?) Vince Foster, who simply knew too much about the Clinton crime family and the string of assassinations on their behalf that have dogged them since their early Arkansas days.
Since she is totally owned by Israel, can anyone doubt that when Hillary’s finger is on the nuclear trigger that she would not eagerly push it?
But then again, many if not all of the candidates running against her would have the same attitude, particularly the evangelical Republicans like Rick Santorum or Mike Huckabee, brainlessly obedient to the Jewish war makers. So too is Jeb Bush in this category, who lists his braindead, conscienceless brother George as his leading foreign policy adviser.
George W. Bush, you must remember, lied America into (at least) two wars in which many thousands of Americans lost their lives, and millions of innocent residents of faraway countries lost their lives, too, a fact most Americans ignore. Dubya also spearheaded the coverup of 9/11, brazenly braying “They hate our freedoms” while knowing all the while it was his Israeli handlers chiefly responsible for the treasonous deaths of 3,000 unsuspecting Americans.
Most Americans don’t really realize the brutally criminal nature of American politics. Although they witness the carnage on television, they remain at a safe distance as these murders seldom come to their town and affect them personally.
At the present time we have a concerted campaign to assassinate all doctors who promote and use the cancer-curing agent GcMAF <http://www.richardpresser.com/wordpress/an-update-on-the-gcmaf-and-nagalase-story/>. In our recent past we have witnessed the extermination of microbiologists who knew too much about the swine flu program meant to kill millions.
The strings of murders among people connected to presidents has grown to monstrous proportions, particularly among former lovers of Clinton and Obama.
American behavior is in the sewer, immoral and deceitful to the max, and it’s not because of their abandonment of religion, either, as John Hagee, Pope Francis and their cynical compatriots are all up to their eyeballs in treason and the rape of children.
So what’s the solution? The solution is to substantially dismantle the U.S. government, deport all the Jews, restrict immigration and repatriate many of those who have been deliberately imported to destabilize the country and ease the change into a totalitarian communist dictatorship. The key tactical maneuver is to remove the money supply from the control the privately owned Federal Reserve, to remove the control of schools and government from the centralized federal monstrosity known as the Department of Education, and to begin to restore the country free of demonic Jewish influence.
Decentralization is the answer. Our military needs to be exclusively defensive, immigration needs to be stopped in its tracks, and the federal government needs to be stripped of most of its power, because as we can see, ever since the original transfer of power from the states to Washington in the very earliest history of America, our individual rights have slowly been erased and the U.S. has been taken over by a foreign power, the international Jewish bankers that Henry Ford warned us about, who have no regard for anything but their own perverted profit.
This is not what we should be teaching our children. We are compassionate human beings, not the mindless killer robots the Jews have turned us into.
If we are to survive, they must not. And there is no presidential candidate presently now announced who recognizes any of this, so what we can expect from current circumstances is more of the same, only worse.
You are about to lose your life and your property because you would not stand up for what you have been told millions of times since Ben Franklin first uttered the words, “a republic, if you can keep it.”

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The Dying Institutions Of Western Civilization

NOVANEWS

Image result for Western Civilization PHOTO

By Paul Craig Roberts

Judiciary Branch Has Self-Abolished

The US no longer has a judiciary. This former branch of government has transitioned into an enabler of executive branch fascism.

Privacy is a civil liberty protected by the US Constitution. The Constitution relies on courts to enforce its prohibitions against intrusive government, but if the executive branch claims (no proof required) “national security,” courts kiss the Constitution good-bye.

Federal judges are chosen by the executive branch. The senate can refuse to confirm, but that is rare. The executive branch chooses judges who are friendly to executive power. This is especially the case for the appeals courts and the Supreme Court. The Justice (sic) Department keeps tabs on district court judges who rule against the government, and these judges don’t make it to the higher courts. The result over time is to erode civil liberty.

Recently a three-judge panel of the US Appeals Court for the District of Columbia ruled that the National Security Agency can continue its mass surveillance of the US population without showing cause. The panel avoided the constitutional question by ruling on procedural terms that NSA had a right to withhold the information that would prove the plaintiffs’ case.

By refusing to extend the section of the USA PATRIOT Act—a name that puts a patriotic sheen on Orwellian totalitarianism—that gave carte blanche to the NSA and by passing the USA Freedom Act, Congress attempted to give NSA’s spying a constitutional patina. The USA Freedom Act allows the telecom companies to spy on us and collect all of our communications data and for NSA to access the data by obtaining a warrant from the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) Court. The Freedom Act protects constitutional procedures by requiring NSA to go through the motions, but it does not prevent telecom companies from invading our privacy in behalf of NSA.

No one has ever explained the supposed threat that American citizens pose to themselves that requires all of their communications to be collected and stored by Big Brother. If the US Constitution was respected by the executive branch, Congress, the judiciary, law schools and bar associations, there would have been a public discussion about whether Americans are most threatened by the supposed threat that requires universal surveillance or by the loss of their constitutional protections. We all know what our Founding Fathers’ answer would be.

Florida Government Defies Voters, Misuses Earmarked Funds

By allocating funds set aside by law for the purchase of land and wildlife habitat to other purposes, Florida Republicans have negated the Water and Land Conservation Amendment that Floridians passed with a 75% majority last November. The amendment requires that one-third of the funds produced by real estate stamp taxes be used for conservation purposes.

Conservation runs counter to the interests of real estate developers and polluters who have done so much to destroy Florida’s unique environment. Real estate developers and polluters are major Republican contributors.

Faced with the people’s will, the Republican government is claiming that proper uses of the fund are to pay salaries for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, to teach best management practices for privately owned lands, and to pay private agricultural operations to retain the pollution that results from their operations on their own property.

In typical Republican fashion, money legally mandated for purchasing public land is being used to pay state salaries and to make payments to private land owners. This is a good indication of the scant respect that American democracy has for the will of the people.

A Robot Will Take Your Job

Several recent studies conclude that robots are going to displace millions of human workers. An Oxford University study found that 47 percent of jobs are at risk. Another study concludes that one third of all jobs will be lost to robots during the next 10 years. Some claim that the net job loss will not be so large, because new jobs will be created in order to repair the robots, at least until robots learn to do this also.

Perhaps you remember the claims by economists Matthew Slaughter, Michael Porter, and other shills for jobs offshoring that moving American jobs offshore would create better and more jobs in the US. After many years I am still watching for any sign of these promised new jobs.

Despite promises to the contrary, the US economy has been halted in its tracks by jobs offshoring. US corporations have moved middle class manufacturing jobs abroad. The high speed Internet has made it possible for tradable professional skills, such as software engineering, information technology, research, design, and scan interpretations by medical doctors, to be performed offshore. This enormous giveaway of American middle class jobs and GDP to foreign countries has left the domestic economy with non-tradable service jobs.

Robotics is now attacking the remaining domestic service jobs. Robots are becoming sales assistants, providing room service to hotel guests, filling orders at delis, providing medical diagnosis, cooking and serving meals, and becoming incorporated into smart household appliances that reduce the need for electrical and repair services. All of us are familiar with customer service robots. We encounter them whenever we telephone about a bank or credit card statement or utility bill.

The unaddressed problem is: what happens to consumer demand, on which the economy depends, when humans are replaced by robots? Robots don’t need a paycheck in order to purchase food, clothes, shoes, entertainment, health care, go on vacations, or to make car, utility, credit card, rent or mortgage payments. The consumer economy has suffered from incomes lost to jobs offshoring. If robots replace yet more Americans, where does the income come from to purchase the products of the robots’ work? Any one firm’s owners and managers can benefit from lowering costs by replacing a human workforce with robots, but all firms cannot. If all firms replace their work forces with robots, the rate of unemployment becomes astronomical, and consumer demand collapses pulling down the economy.

Economists call what works in the singular but not in the plural the fallacy of composition. Keynesian macroeconomists teach that if everyone in society is thrifty with the consequence that savers save more than investors want to invest, aggregate demand falls, and with it incomes and savings. Thus, by trying to save more, savers end up with less.

With the advent of jobs offshoring and financial deregulation, the US has one of the most unequal distributions of income and wealth. As robotics patents are held by a mere handful of people, the concentration of income and wealth at the top will increase.

What kind of society would result? Will governments nationalize robotics or heavily tax the incomes of owners in order to issue monthly payments to people with which to purchase the work product of robots? What would a population living off the work of robots do with itself? Would population growth be tolerated? Or would the powerful owners of robotics use the governments that they control to reduce the surplus population?

Free market economists with their heads forever in the sand will say, “No worry, people thought that the industrial revolution would destroy the demand for labor, but industry employed ever more people.” A former MIT professor who has gone into business producing robots says robots will bring the jobs lost to offshoring home to America. But will they be jobs for humans or for robots? I am waiting to hear how robotics will expand the demand for human labor beyond a few repairmen to fix robots. And I am still waiting for the new and better jobs that offshoring promised. By the time they get here, if ever, robots will take them away.

Stock Market Supported By Corporate Buybacks

Pension funds purchase corporate bonds, and the corporations use the money to buy back their own stocks, thus driving up the price, enriching executives with bonuses and shareholders with capital gains, but leaving the company in debt. One study found that last year 95 percent of all corporate earnings were used either to pay dividends or to buy back the company’s stock. Read Mike Whitney’s report in CounterPunch:

The Ship Did It

The presence of The White Lady, a four-masted Chilean sailing ship, at the Tall Ships Festival in England is being protested. Protestors believe the ship is guilty of human rights violations as the ship was allegedly the site of torture inflicted by the Pinochet government as it put down the terrorism that followed the overthrow of the Allende government. Just as guns murder, ships torture.

The torture alleged to have occurred aboard The White Lady sounds like a small town performance of the torture sanctioned by Washington and London at Abu Ghraib, Guantanamo, and numerous secret sites. How are the American and British democracies superior to Chilean military dictatorship if the former out-tortures the latter? To my knowledge, the Pinochet regime, unlike the Bush regime, never had John Yoo write a legal memo making torture legal. This is probably why, prior to stepping down and returning Chile to constitutional democracy, Pinochet issued pardons both to the military government and to the terrorists.

Demand for Silver Outstripping Supply But Price Is Falling

On numerous occasions Dave Kranzler and I have pointed out that despite high and rising demand for physical bullion and constrained supply, the prices of gold and silver are forced down by concerted manipulation in the futures market. Silver supplies are so tight that both the US and Canadian mints have had to suspend the production and sale of silver coins. Despite supply constraints, in the manipulated futures market the price of silver has been falling, but in the physical market the price of silver coins has risen with premiums over spot raising coin prices as much as 30 percent. Regulatory authorities have brought no action against the obvious manipulation in the futures market.

It is important to the value of the fiat currencies that are being printed in profusion that gold and silver be discredited as hedges against currency depreciation. Thus, authorities turn a blind eye to the obvious manipulation, the purpose of which is to show that inflating fiat paper currencies are gaining in value relative to gold and silver.

I am awaiting the explanation from the Commodity Futures Trading Commission (CFTC) why it is normal for inflating fiat currencies to gain value in relation to gold and silver bullion. Kranzler and I, supported by individuals thoroughly acquainted with the bullion market, have written to the CFTC asking how it is possible for price to fall when demand is rising and supply is constrained.

We will see if a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury can get an answer.

Good-bye To Cash

If all this isn’t enough, government now wants to deprive us of cash in order to deprive us of private and unreported payments and savings. The Financial Times, Britain’s equivalent to the Wall Street Journal, has published an anonymous article advocating that cash be abolished and all transactions be digital so that authorities can know and completely control our behavior. Clearly a big push in this direction is in the works. If the authorities succeed, we will have a situation in which the privacy guaranteed by the US Constitution becomes a myth that slowly fades from memory.

Posted in USA, EuropeComments Off on The Dying Institutions Of Western Civilization

Russian lawmaker: Issue of moving UN headquarters from US requires serious legal analysis

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A Russian lawmaker sent an address to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov requesting to move UN headquarters from the US to Switzerland.
©  AP Photo/Adam Rountree, File

MOSCOW, August 31. /TASS/. The issue of moving UN headquarters from the United States requires serious legal analysis of all possible consequences, Federation Council’s International Affairs Committee chairman Konstantin Kosachev said on Monday.

The Izvestiya daily reported earlier today that State Duma’s Committee on Defense member Igor Zotov sent an address to UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov requesting to move UN headquarters from the United States to a more neutral country – Switzerland.

Commenting on Zotov’s proposal, Kosachev said that “it is appropriate to discuss the expedience of holding events, including those organized in the UN framework” on the territory of the countries that support sanctions. Earlier, he proposed to submit the issue for consideration to the UN General Assembly at its session in September.

“Talking about moving the [UN] headquarters, this proposal is radical and requires a comprehensive and – first and foremost – legal analysis because the UN headquarters is located in the United States as a result of multi-party agreements, including those coordinated by the Soviet Union,” Kosachev said. The lawmaker that it is important “to attentively watch any consequences that may occur” and approach the issue “carefully and balanced.” “It will be possible to form an opinion about this proposal, which for now, in my view, is of exclusively political nature only after a detailed legal analysis of all circumstances of this situation and possible consequences,” he added.

Russian lawmaker gets restricted visa to US

The delegation of Russian parliamentarians led by Federation Council Speaker Valentina Matviyenko planned to participate in the 4th World Conference of Speakers of Parliament that will take place on from August 31 to September 2 in New York. The Russian Foreign Ministry reported last Wednesday that the visit of the Russian delegation to New York became impossible after the United States provided a restricted visa for Matviyenko. “In particular, visa does not allow to participate in any meetings or over events in the framework of the Inter-Parliamentary Union,” the foreign ministry said.

As a result, the Russian delegation, which also included Federation Council Deputy Chairperson Galina Karelova, International Affairs Committee Chairman Konstantin Kosachev, member of Committee on Science, Education and Culture Alexander Totoonov, decided not to participation in the Inter-Parliamentary Union event.

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Whitewashing the IMF’s Destructive Role in Greece

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Image result for IMF LOGO

By Michael Hudson

This autumn may see anti-austerity coalitions gain power in Portugal, Spain and Italy, while Marine le Pen’s National Front in France presses for outright withdrawal from the eurozone. These countries face a common problem: how to resist the economic devastation that the European Central Bank (ECB), European Council and IMF “troika” has inflicted on Greece and is now intending to do the same to southern Europe.

To resist the depression and debt deflation that the troika seeks to deepen, one needs to bear in mind the dynamics that make the IMF un-reformable. Its destructive role in Greece provides an object lesson for how southern Europe must shun its horde of ideologues, as Third World countries learned to avoid it by May 2013, the year that Turkey capped the world’s extrication from IMF “advice.” Already in 2008, Turkey’s prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced: “We cannot darken our future by bowing to the wishes of the IMF.”[1] Greek voters have now said the same thing.

To soften resistance to the IMF’s austerity demands, a public relations drive is being mounted to rehabilitate the myth that the Fund can act as an honest broker mediating between anti-labor finance ministers and the PIIGS – Portugal, Italy, Ireland, Greece and Spain. On Friday, August 28, three Reuters reporters published a long “think piece” trying to show that the IMF is changing and that its head, Christine Lagarde, has seen the light and seeks to promote real debt relief.[2]

The timing of this report seems significant. The IMF got “back in business” in 2010 when its head, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, overrode its staff and many Board members in order to join the troika and shift the country’s bad debt from French and German bankers onto the Greek people. That is the story I tell in Killing the Host, which CounterPunch published in an e-version last week. (The hard-print and Kindle versions are now available on Amazon.)

President Obama and Treasury Secretary Tim Geithner insisted that Angela Merkel and French President Sarkozy pressure the IMF to go against the opposition of its own staff and 2KillingTheHost_Cover_rulejoin the European Central Bank’s hardline demands that Greece impose austerity. Geithner and Obama warned that if Greek bondholders were not paid in full, some giant U.S. banks would lose heavily on the default insurance contracts and derivatives they had written, and their losses could spread “contagion” to Europe.

It was at this 2011 G8 meeting that Merkel told Greek PM Andreas Papandreou that he had to cancel his proposed referendum on whether Greece should surrender to austerity to help foreign bondholders. As the late Frankfurt Allgemeine Zeitung editor Frank Schirrmacher observed at the time, this meant that “Democracy is Junk.”

Papandreou’s acquiescence led his PASOK party to be swept utterly away, having lost all credibility – the same credibility that the IMF has lost. Papandreou was replaced by a pro-bank puppet. Italy’s Prime Minister suffered the same fate later that week, in a continent-wide crisis turning the eurozone into an economic dead zone.

It took until last July, four years later, for Greek voters finally to be given their say in a referendum. And just as Merkel, Sarkozy and Obama feared, they voted by an overwhelming 61 percent (a 3:2 margin) to reject austerity.

The Reuters piece quotes the same complaints by IMF insiders that my book records – as if this is a revelation that has just came out in their “examination of previously unreported IMF board minutes.” Actually, the information has been out for a year. So the question is, why is this information being reported as if it were new?

The aim seems to be to distract attention from the political dynamics that actually were going on and the conflicts of interest that were at work – and still are. In addition to my own book published last week, former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis has gone public with his own sad experience with Lagarde and the European Central Bank (ECB) demanding further austerity and mass privatizations.[3] “If you were a fly on the wall watching our negotiations,” he reports, “you would see as well as I saw that Ms Lagarde, Mr Draghi, Mr Juncker, certainly Dr Schäuble, were interested in one thing: In dictating to us ‘terms of surrender’. Terms that put an end to the Athens Spring.”

By comparison, the Reuters whitewash distorts history, dumbing it down and censoring the U.S. role of Obama and Geithner, while trying to depict Christine Lagarde as urging an alleviation of Greek debt and austerity.

The world needs to know the whole story, because it will show the degree to which the IMF is under the thumb of Wall Street and European banks, and of U.S. political leaders backing hardline creditor interests. This in turn shows the impossibility of reforming the IMF (or World Bank, whose presidents traditionally are drawn from the U.S. Defense Department or its Cold War supporters).

Killing the Host discloses complaints leaked by angry IMF officials who became whistleblowers and published their complaints at Canada’s prestigious Center for International Governance Innovation (CIGI). These same quotes were just cited breathlessly by Reuters. What the wire service did not report was the point that the IMF’s former economists made.

Lagarde continues to insist that Greek debts can be paid by “extend and pretend,” lowering the interest rate and stretching out the maturities. This is her definition of “writing down Greek debts.” Most peoples’ definition would mean writing down the debt principal. Reading Reuters’ selective quotes, it is almost as if the seemingly detailed report was written to counter the political points Varoufakis, I and others have been making.

What Reuters excluded from its report that provides the key to unlock what is most politically embarrassing: The behavior of Obama and Geithner in protecting Wall Street’s casino bets that Greece could be arm-twisted to pay. Dominique Strauss-Kahn had two conflicts of interest: He wanted to run for the presidency of France, gaining favor by protecting French banks; and he wanted to get the IMF back into the austerity advice business, by joining the Eurozone troika. When Christine Lagarde started to repeat his refusal to back the recent IMF staff report endorsing write-down of Greek debt, the staff leaked it this spring, much to her embarrassment when the IMF signed onto a troika program with no real debt relief.[4]

The Reuters report throws up a cloud of disinformation saying that she backs debt relief, as if this means backing a writedown of unpayably high Greek debt. Quite the contrary, Lagarde has said again and again that her idea of debt relief is simply to extend and pretend – to stretch out the maturity of Greece’s debt, to lower the interest rate charged.

The real story is not simply the warnings that Reuters published so breathlessly from IMF staff members and board members that Greece could not pay its debts and that attempting to do so would bring on depression. The real story is why Strauss-Kahn overrode them in 2010. The IMF officials who resigned blamed his action on his political ambitions in French politics and his opportunism in trying to finally get the IMF “back in business” rather than being left out by the ECB for not being sufficiently pro-creditor. To override the fact that the IMF was violating its own directives, the Fund introduced a “contagion” escape clause that nullified the demand that it not endorse loans that could not be paid. (I describe the small print in Killing the Host.)

Lagarde is still adhering to the demand that Greece must repay all the debt principal, including what IMF staff members urged to be written off four years ago. Like Strauss-Kahn, she was about to override her own staff when they leaked their report on Greece’s inability to pay. An indication of her position was her statement at a May 2012 IMF meeting in Riga, where they came to celebrate Latvia’s punishing austerity model that could be exported to “serve as an inspiration for European leaders grappling with the economic crisis.”

The fact that the IMF’s head has to be a French pro-bank, pro-austerity ideologue, taking orders from Washington officials wield veto power on behalf of Wall Street bankers and bondholders, makes the IMF hopelessly compromised. The icing on the cake is its recent loan to Ukraine, money that Ukrainian President Poroshenko has said will be spent to wage war on Russian-speakers in eastern Ukraine where most of the export industry was located.

By no stretch of the imagination can Ukraine pay this debt. It already has negotiated a 20 percent writedown of its debt to private bondholders, and both Poroshenko and “Yats” insist that they will default on their $3 billion debt to Russia’s sovereign wealth fund falling due this December. That alone will require the IMF to withdraw, because the terms of its Articles of Agreement prevent it from lending to countries that unilaterally default on debts owed to official institutions. (The original idea had in mind the United States, not Russia or China.)

Yet the IMF has not warned that Ukraine must either pay or see itself turned into a financial pariah Greek-style. The Fund has been pulled into the New Cold War in addition to the financial war against labor and against government ability to resist austerity.

Past Reuters reports (and those of the New York Times and other neoliberal press) have popularized the trivializing idea that the reason China, Russia and other BRICS countries have created their own alternative development banks and international currency institutions is merely because they don’t have a large enough vote within the IMF. (Congress has blocked new U.S. contributions to the IMF, preventing a renegotiation of quotas.)

This is not what the BRICS countries say. Their disagreement is that the development philosophy of the IMF and World Bank is to promote austerity to pay bondholders and sell off the public domain to U.S. and other foreign financial investors. No matter how large the foreign quota, the U.S. Government retains veto power to enforce these U.S.-centered rules. The BRICS want a different development philosophy, an alternative to austerity economics and IMF “stabilization plans” whose effect is to destabilize countries submitting to their austerity.

The tragic Greek experience should stand as a warning of the need to withdraw from the rules that have turned the eurozone into an economic dead zone, and the IMF and Troika into brutal debt collectors for European, U.S. and British banks and bondholders. This is not a story that the mainstream press is happy to popularize. And as for the academic economists trotted out as talking heads, they still don’t get it.

Notes.

[1] Delphine Strauss, “Turkish politicians argue over need for IMF help as crunch bites,” Financial Times, October 28, 2008.

[2] Lesley Wroughton, Howard Schneider and Dina Kyriakidou, “How the IMF’s misadventure in Greece is changing the fund,” Reuters, Aug. 28, 2015, http://www.reuters.com/investigates/special-report/imf-greece/

[3] Introduction: Our Athens Spring, https://varoufakis.files.wordpress.com/2015/08/frangy-2-23-aug-2015.pdf

[4] Jack Ewing, “I.M.F. Report Shines Uncomfortable Light on Greece’s Financing Gap,” The New York Times, July 15, 2015, and Peter Spiegel and Shawn Donnan, “IMF raises doubts over its bailout role,” Financial Times, July 15, 2015.

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China currency devaluation and signs of slowdown spark global financial panic

NOVANEWS
China currency devaluation and signs of slowdown spark global financial panic

Small investors in China reacting to stock market plunge.

Global stock markets plunged on Aug. 24, now designated “Black Monday” by financial commentators. The Dow dropped more than a thousand points seconds after the opening bell, closing the session down 588 points, or more than 3.5 percent.

After an initial rebound the following day, the market again closed lower—by 205 points, or 1.3 percent.

After strong rise, Shanghai stocks plunge.

China’s Shanghai index fell even more sharply, dropping more than 15 percent over the two days, with trading in many stocks halted after falling their 10 percent daily limit. Millions of small investors in China have seen their life savings wiped out.

Stock markets in Europe and elsewhere also crashed as both individual and institutional investors rushed for the exits. Trillions of dollars in asset values were wiped out as a result.

The panic was sparked by the surprise devaluation of the Chinese yuan Aug. 11-12 by about 3.5 percent against the U.S. dollar, aimed at boosting falling Chinese exports and countering a slowdown in the formerly fast-growing economy. New data confirming the slowdown added to the gloom.

A new economic crisis imminent?

The steep declines in share prices pose the question, is the economic recovery from the 2007-2009 “Great Recession,” weak as it has been, now about to end? Are we at the beginning of another major crisis of overproduction that will see millions of people again losing their jobs, as well as widespread loss of homes and individual and business bankruptcies?

This is certainly not out of the question, but it should be kept in mind that stock market crashes do not always signal an imminent economic crisis. The October 1987 crash in the U.S. market is a prime example. That plunge of more than 20 percent in one day was triggered by an apparently modest monetary tightening by the Federal Reserve, the U.S. central bank, in response to a speculative rise in share prices, stimulated by newly developed computerized “program-trading” strategies that then got much of the blame for the crash.

According to Wikipedia: “Following the stock market crash, a group of 33 eminent economists from various nations met in Washington, D.C. in December 1987, and collectively predicted that ‘the next few years could be the most troubled since the 1930s’. However, the economy was barely affected and growth actually increased throughout 1987 and 1988, with the DJIA regaining its pre-crash closing high of 2,722 points in early 1989.”

In fact, this major crash occurred right in the middle of the extended period of relatively steady economic expansion, from around 1985 to 2001, that was celebrated in a 2004 speech by Ben Bernanke, then a member of the Fed’s Board of Governors, as “the Great Moderation.”

Fed tightening and the strong dollar

The Federal Reserve has again embarked on modest monetary tightening as a result of ending the huge expansion of its “monetary base” through several rounds of “quantitative easing,” which involved buying up Treasury and mortgage debt with the electronic equivalent of newly created paper dollars. This was part of an unprecedented effort by the Fed and U.S. government to bail out the banks, which were de facto bankrupt, and facilitate an economic recovery following the Great Recession.

A key result was low interest rates as the Fed and investors bid up the price of Treasury bonds and mortgage debt. The low rates were supposed to stimulate an economic recovery, but this was only partially successful. Capitalist governments at the same time imposed major austerity programs as part of the decades-old neo-liberal agenda aimed at rolling back gains in social programs such as education, pensions and health care that the working class in the advanced capitalist countries had won in the relatively prosperous decades following World War II.

Right-wing economists argued that tax cuts along with the budget cutbacks would increase corporate profitability, in turn strengthening the economy overall—creating millions of new jobs and benefiting workers as well as the middle class.

Austerity policies, especially in Europe, were also imposed by the respective capitalist ruling classes to restore solvency to governments whose finances had been severely strained by the bailouts of its banks and major corporations.

The net result of Fed monetary tightening and capitalist austerity has been a strong dollar and an extremely sluggish recovery, and in some countries of Europe renewed recession. In the case of Greece, the economic contraction has been on the scale of the 1930s Great Depression.

The strong dollar and overproduction in relation to sluggish demand has resulted in falling prices for oil, copper and other primary commodities—putting great strains on emerging economies such as Russia, Brazil and Venezuela that depend on exports of raw materials to finance imports of consumer goods and industrial machinery.

If these falling prices were to spread to commodities in general, the resulting deflation would produce a new deep-going crisis of overproduction as businesses are forced to cut back production and lay off workers on a massive scale.

The Federal Reserve, however, has been hinting recently that the recovery of the U.S. economy has reached the point where it soon will be possible to tighten monetary policy another notch by raising the target the Fed sets for a key short-term interest rate that it controls known as the federal funds rate. The prospect of such a rate hike has further strengthened the dollar against most other currencies as well as the money commodity gold.

The paper dollar has also been strong thanks to it being the main reserve currency in the world and the basis of the monetary system propping up the U.S. empire.

(For more on the ill effects of the paper dollar system, see Strong dollar destabilizes world economy.” For readers with a background in Marxist economic theory, various posts to the Critique of Crisis Theory blog explain the key role of the money commodity gold, in conjunction with the law of labor value, in regulating the capitalist economy.)

The Fed about to make a ‘dangerous mistake’?

In a Aug. 23 Financial Times article, entitled “The Fed looks set to make a dangerous mistake,” former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers warns that “raising rates in the near future would be a serious error that would threaten all three of the Fed’s major objectives—price stability, full employment and financial stability.”

Summers explains: “Like most major central banks, the Fed has put its price stability objective into practice by adopting a 2 per cent inflation target. The biggest risk is that inflation will be lower than this—a risk that would be exacerbated by tightening policy. More than half the components of the consumer price index have declined in the past six months—the first time this has happened in more than a decade. CPI inflation, which excludes volatile energy and food prices and difficult-to-measure housing, is less than 1 per cent.”

He concludes: “… for reasons rooted in technological and demographic change and reinforced by greater regulation of the financial sector [apparently, for Summers, austerity policies have nothing to do with it—JB], the global economy has difficulty generating demand for all that can be produced. This is the ‘secular stagnation’ diagnosis. … Satisfactory growth, if it can be achieved, requires very low interest rates that historically we have only seen during economic crises.”

If Summers has his way, the Fed will hold off for an indefinite period implementing further monetary tightening. In any event, such tightening is probably off the table for the Fed’s next Open Market Committee meeting in September and possibly also for its following meeting in December.

It also is not excluded that the Federal Reserve will go back to another round of quantitative easing if the U.S. economy shows serious signs of slowdown, although Fed officials really don’t want to do this if they can avoid it. They realize full well that a renewed growth in the size of the Fed’s monetary base, on top of the enormous growth that has already occurred, threatens a collapse of the paper dollar system down the road, and with it the collapse of the U.S. empire.

Slowing growth in China

In the face of “secular stagnation” in the global economy, the rapid growth that has characterized the Chinese economy in recent years cannot continue. That growth has been fueled to a large extent by massive exports, mostly to the U.S. and Europe. To produce those exports has required massive imports of raw materials and component parts from other countries.

Both exports and imports have dropped sharply recently, putting in serious jeopardy China’s projected growth of 7 percent for this year. According to Panos Mourdoukoutas, writing in the Aug. 9 issue of Forbes, “China’s exports plunged 8.3% in July, far worse than expected. …”

Mourdoukoutas adds: “Exports to the European Union dropped by 12.3% in July while those to the United States dropped 1.3%. Exports to Japan dropped by a whopping 13%.”

The Chinese government has attempted to keep up the relatively high rate of growth by encouraging infrastructure development and housing construction on a massive scale, but this cannot go on indefinitely in the face of sluggish or non-existent economic growth globally.

Hence, the Chinese government’s decision to devalue the yuan, which will make goods produced in China cheaper on the world market—unless other countries also devalue, which is already happening. Increased imports of Chinese goods into the United States will inevitably worsen the U.S. trade balance, already deep in the red, ultimately weakening the U.S. dollar as well.

A new crisis of overproduction

A new crisis of overproduction, which could be even more severe than the Great Recession, is on the way. It is even possible that a new super-crisis eclipsing that of 1929-1933 in the United States could be approaching. Some parallels are apparent.

China with its dynamic economic growth has been playing a role in the global economy similar to the role of the fast-growing U.S. of the 1920s, while the declining but still dominant U.S. empire today parallels the decline of the British empire in the earlier period. The U.S. with its “Asian pivot” is attempting to “contain” China, just as Britain oriented its foreign policy in the early 20th century toward containing a dynamic Germany.

Further, China’s extraordinary economic growth drove prices of primary commodities such as oil and copper to unsustainable heights prior to the Great Recession, far above underlying labor values. The economic demands created by World War I had a similar effect, which ultimately led to the crash in prices and the global economy that ensued in 1929-1933.

The capitalist industrial cycle has not been suspended or abolished, despite the best efforts of pro-capitalist economists and policymakers to achieve that impossible aim. It is only a question of how soon a full-blown crisis of overproduction will hit the strongest economies—not only the financial markets but also the “real economies.” It has already begun in some countries and will inevitably spread.

The workers’ movement needs to prepare for this outcome and the radicalization and political polarization it will produce.

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Colombia’s Killing Fields: Peace is War

NOVANEWS

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By James Petras

Colombia has received more US military aid — over $6 billion dollars in the past decade — than any country in the Western Hemisphere. For its part, Colombia allowed the Pentagon to build seven military bases, more than all the other countries in the region combined. There are over 2,000 US military officers and private US ‘mercenary’ contractors engaged in military activities in Colombia – more than any other country in Latin America.

During the decade-long (2001-2010) regime of President Alvaro Uribe, (a drug trafficker and death squad jefe in his own right), more than one-thousand trade union leaders and activists were murdered — over one hundred a year.

Nevertheless, the ‘Colombian killing field’ regime under Uribe was described in glowing terms by all the major respectable Anglo-American newspapers, including the Financial TimesNew York TimesWall Street Journal, and Washington Post for having brought “stability and peace” (of the graveyard) to the country and making Colombia “safe for investors”.

Eventually Uribe’s excesses, his policy of ‘peace through terror’ policies frightened and appalled many Colombians and (most important for the oligarchs) he failed to defeat the armed insurgency When the regime’s new extractive export growth strategy called for massive expansion of foreign investment in guerrilla-controlled mineral and oil-rich regions tactics and key political leaders had to change.

After two terms in office, President Uribe’s former Defense Minister Juan Santos was elected on the promise of renewed peace negotiations with the principal guerrilla group, the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia, or FARC.

President Santos’ Peace Negotiations and the Killing Fields

Under President Santos, Colombia still retains the title as the most dangerous country in the world for trade union leaders and human rights activists. During his first 5 years in office, from 2011 to April 2015, more than 105 trade unionists have been murdered; 596 have been injured in attacks and 1,337 received death threats. Over half of the killings, which are officially labeled ‘unattributed’, have clearly been committed by the paramilitary hitmen — ‘sicarios’, and others are categorized as ‘false positives’, where the military claims civilian deaths result from the ‘cross-fire of combat operations’. Few arrests have ever been made in a country where assassins enjoy immunity. Over 80% of trade union leader assassinations are attributed to paramilitary-military-police while 6% are blamed on the guerrillas. In the case of the guerrillas, most of the ‘victims’ are not popularly elected trade unionists but agents, appointed by the employers and government, with links to the paramilitary gangs, who identify and purge militant workers and have nothing to do with the defense of workers rights.

There are a minority of cases of guerrilla units committing human rights violations. These are investigated and the guilty are punished by the national leaders — a far cry from Bogota’s policy. A recent case, which took place in early August, led to severe internal sanctioning of a FARC unit.

The drop in the ‘number’ of labor leaders murdered, from an average of 100 a year under Uribe to 25 a year under Santos, is due to the precipitous decline in the number of trade unionists overall — thanks to a decade of slaughter under Uribe. In other words, there may be fewer union leaders murdered under President Santos, but overall the proportion of leaders assassinated remains essentially the same — and the life expectancy for a Colombian labor leader is the lowest in the hemisphere!

What has changed under Santos is the shift away from slaughtering a dwindling number of union leaders, to killing and jailing human rights and social movement activists.

In 2014, 35 activists were murdered. During the first half of 2015, the death toll has almost doubled with 69 social movement and human rights activists killed.

The Patriotic March is the major Colombian umbrella movement, bringing together over 100 social organizations, including the country’s major indigenous groups, Afro-Colombians, regional peasant and human rights groups. More than 9,000 Patriotic March activists have been arrested and 40 have been killed during Santos reign of terror.

Peace Negotiations and Cross Border Aggression

Santos’ peace negotiations with the main guerrilla groups, as well as the FARC’s unilateral ceasefire, has allowed the Colombian military and its paramilitary allies to step up their cross-border drug and contraband smuggling and terrorist incursions into Venezuela.

In mid-August, a Colombian paramilitary squad entered Venezuela and wounded 3 Venezuelan soldiers who had been part of a team combating large-scale contraband and arms smuggling across the Colombian border. Cross-border smuggling has a double purpose: It creates insecurity and shortages in Venezuela inciting opposition to the government while earning huge profits for paramilitary leaders who re-sell the subsidized Venezuelan goods (food, medicine and gasoline) at a huge mark-up in Colombia.

Cross-border paramilitary-smuggling operations have vastly increased under President Santos. While the regime claims to be negotiating a peace accord with the FARC in Havana, Venezuelan security is under threat.

Large-scale, widespread smuggling gangs from Colombia enjoy impunity, intelligence and encouragement from the Colombian government and its US Special Forces ‘advisers’ intent on ‘regime change’ in Caracas. And with the FARC honoring its unilateral ceasefire, the paramilitaries no longer have to contend with attacks from the guerrillas.

Peace Negotiations and Extractive Capital

President Santos’ economic policies are attracting large flows of foreign investment into Colombia’s mining and energy sector. The oil and mineral-rich regions are heavily influenced by the armed guerrillas. Furthermore, there is a tradition of militant trade unionism among miners and oil workers. In order to make these regions safe and extremely profitable for multinational oil and mining companies, Santos has adopted a ‘two-pronged’ approach. He negotiates ceasefires and disarmament with the two insurgent movements (the FARC and the ELN-the National Liberation Army) in Havana, while stepping up repression and terror against union leaders in the oil and mining sectors.

During the Santos’ regime the greatest number of assassinated trade union leaders have come from the mining and energy sector (25.4%), followed by the manufacturing (19.3%), education (18%) and agriculture (12.7%). From 2014 to mid 2015, 90% of paramilitary and military assaults against civilians have targeted union leaders and activists (208 out of 229).

In other words, Santos’ strategy has been designed to neutralize the guerrillas via bogus peace negotiations in Havana in order to concentrate state repression against mass popular movement activists and trade unionists, as they struggle to secure a fairer share of Colombia’s immense natural wealth which is being pillaged by the gigantic foreign mining and energy companies and their local oligarch partners.

Under Santos, assassinations and attacks have become more selective than the indiscriminate mass killings that characterized his predecessor’s regime. The scorched earth policies which drove 4 million peasants and small farmers from their lands have been replaced by the targeted killing and assault of trade unionists active in strategic economic sectors.

Cross border incursions by the Colombian military harassing Venezuela border patrols have been replaced by proxy criminal and paramilitary gangs of smugglers operating with the blessing of Bogota and Washington.

Santos’ dual strategy allows him to pose as a ‘peacemaker’ in Havana and a ‘hatchet-man’ for foreign investors in Colombia’s mineral-rich regions.

The assassinations of two dozen trade unionists per year, the murders of six dozen human rights activists in the first 6 months of 2015, and the 9,000 social movement activists rotting in Colombia’s prisons is not reported in the international mass media, or at international forums, and regional meetings. Meanwhile, the press concentrates on the ‘peace negotiations’ between the FARC and President Santos in Havana — as if nothing were happening on the ground in Colombia.

Conclusion

The new policies pursued by President Santos, which combine peace negotiations with Colombian guerrilla movements in Havana and violent repression against mass social movements and labor leaders at home; friendly overtures to Cuba and cross-border smuggling and destabilization campaigns against Venezuela, do not bode well for future regional peace or stability.

President Santos’ two-faced policies mirror those of the Obama regime. While Obama pursues negotiation with Iran, he wages proxy wars against Iran’s allies in Yemen, Syria and Lebanon. While, Obama celebrates the re-establishment of diplomatic relations with Cuba, he intensifies a policy of sabotage and ‘regime change’ with Cuba’s close ally in Venezuela.

The parallels between Santos and Obama’s policies reflect their common ideology and their political strategy of talking peace while waging war.

This two track policy brings up the fundamental strategic question: how durable and reliable are peace gestures in the midst of proxy wars and mass killing.

With regard to Colombia one thing is certain: The signing of a “peace agreement” between the Santos regime and the FARC will not end the killing of trade unionists and human rights activists; it will not free the thousands of social movement activists in Colombian prisons. By the same token, Obama’s agreement with Iran has not reduced US military intervention in the Middle East and South Asia.

Imperial agreements are temporary expedients. They represent a brief prelude to new and more virulent aggression against independent nations and emerging national and class-based mass movements.

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Video on Katrina injustice: Heroes Not Looters

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People across the country are marking the 10-year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina and remembering the racist injustice that took place in the storm’s aftermath. Above is a video with interviews with survivors produced at the time by Liberation News writer and PSL Presidential candidate Gloria La Riva titled “Heroes not Looters.”

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Venezuelan gov’t launches anti-smuggling campaign

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Gov-Jose-Vielma-Mora

Táchira state’s governor José Vielma Mora announcing latest developments

Venezuela’s President Nicolás Maduro has declared a 60-day “state of exception,” in western Táchira state, to stop the massive smuggling of goods into bordering Colombia and to defeat the paramilitary groups involved. He has ordered the border between the two countries closed indefinitely.

Billed as the Operation of Liberation and Protection of the People, or OLP, the campaign is also being conducted in any states where the criminal gangs exist.

The smuggling of Venezuelan goods — among them gasoline, foodstuffs and other necessities — for black-market sale in Colombia, has exacerbated an already difficult economic situation for the Venezuelan people.

The revolutionary government has long subsidized basic food items for the people of Venezuela, making food affordable in the Mercal market chain and other stores. Gasoline is extremely cheap, about five cents a gallon.

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Smuggling of essential foodstuffs affects the Venezuelan people

Taking advantage of these benefits, smugglers are capturing subsidized goods — foods, soap, detergent, toilet paper, and gasoline — and transporting the contraband to Colombia, yielding huge profits for the gangs. There is also a major money-laundering scheme with the Venezuelan currency of the bolívar.

Many of the paramilitary groups in Táchira and other states are linked with the right-wing opposition that is actively trying to overturn Venezuela’s Bolivarian Revolution.

The immediate area under the Maduro government’s recovery operation includes Táchira’s municipalities of Ureña, San Antonio del Táchira, Junín, Bolívar and Independencia near the Colombian town of Cúcuta.

Maduro ordered the actions in response to the ambush and critical wounding of three members of the Bolivarian National Armed Forces (FANB) by paramilitary groups in Táchira. Several Colombians and Venezuelans have been arrested for that attack.

Now more than 2,400 members of the Bolivarian National Guard are dispatched to the municipalities of Táchira that border Colombia.

Venezuela’s government estimates that 90 percent of the people residing in those municipalities are Colombian, with many directly involved in the contraband operations. A house-to-house search and review of residents’ documents is being conducted. Anyone found not to have legal documents is being deported. Some Venezuelan police and officials and other individuals are also implicated in the smuggling.

By the second day of the OLP, some 1,500 persons were repatriated to Colombia, with Táchira’s governor, José Vielma Mora, assuring that their safety and human rights are being respected.

Vielma described to Telesur TV the depth of the criminal activity. About 27,000 tons of food comes to the region monthly, “enough to provide for 1.5 million Tachira residents, but the majority of it goes to Colombia as contraband. This is why we have shortages and lines,” he said.

The scope of the contraband operation is astonishing.

In a Telesur TV interview with Venezuelan Major General Efraín Velazco Lugo, chief of the recovery operation, he detailed the initial recovery of stolen food that was headed for Colombia’s black market: more than 19,000 tons of food, including meat, milk and rice, 90 tons of sugar, and 700,000 liters of gasoline (185,000 gallons).

Álvaro Uribe Vélez, former Colombian president and right-wing extremist, launched into a war of words with President Maduro and other Venezuelan leaders over the Táchira operations. Uribe is one of several right-wing politicians internationally who have joined in a permanent offensive against the Venezuelan government.

Uribe has longstanding direct ties with Colombian narco-traffickers. Under his 2002-2012 presidency, death squad terror was rampant in Colombia. A U.S. DIA report in 1991 described Uribe as “a Colombian politician and senator dedicated to collaboration with the Medellín Cartel at high government levels…”

Venezuela’s Vice-President Jorge Arreaza tweeted about Uribe, “As expected: the father of the paramilitaries reacts with desperation against the actions taken by Nicolás Maduro.”

Venezuela has asked the current Colombian government for cooperation to defeat the illegal activity.

Since the beginning of the Bolivarian Revolutionary process 16 years ago, the government has had a progressive policy towards many immigrants from other Latin American countries, granting many citizenship status.

But the situation in Táchira is not a case of immigrants coming to live and work legally in Venezuela, with the exception of a small minority. Drug cartels and contraband smugglers in Colombia have essentially invaded the border region of Venezuela.

Arreaza spoke on TV from Táchira, “Paramilitary capitalism of the Colombian ultra-right has tried to take control of Venezuelan territory. Everyone knows about the reality of our sister republic of Colombia, which we love so much.

“There, since the epoch of Pablo Escobar Gaviria, a perverse social process was advanced where the narco-traffickers and other interests ruled the economy. They’re attempting the same with Venezuela, working from Colombia.”

With the government’s decisive operation, there is a favorable response from the communities besieged by the paramilitaries — as well as other areas affected by the smuggling. Support is resonating throughout Venezuela.

During all 16 years of the Bolivarian Revolution, economic sabotage has been a favored weapon of the right-wing to create dissatisfaction and distress in the population, particularly in the run-up to the Venezuela’s national elections and referenda. The power to disrupt supplies to the population exists partly in the fact that 70 percent  of the country’s distribution network is privately owned.

Upcoming elections for National Assembly seats are scheduled for December 6. The United Socialist Party of Venezuela (PSUV) is engaged in a grassroots campaign throughout the country for its candidates and that of the coalition Gran Polo Patriótico, (Great Patriotic Pole in English). Maintaining a PSUV/GPP majority in the National Assembly is critical for the continued revolutionary advances.

Economic difficulties are a big factor during elections. This is the intent of the Venezuelan right-wing saboteurs and the accompanying corporate media blitz, backed by U.S. imperialism.

Solidarity with the Venezuelan government and unity to combat the counterrevolutionary forces is of utmost importance.

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The 2016 US Election and the Scapegoating of Immigrants

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New Jersey Governor and Republican presidential hopeful Chris Christie proposed over the weekend that Washington institute a system of control over foreigners entering the country akin to the methods used by the express shipping company Fedex to track its packages. This Orwellian scheme, evoking the branding and police-state hounding of everyone visiting the US, is one more contribution to a 2016 US presidential debate that expresses complete contempt for democratic rights and a seething hatred within ruling circles for workers of every nationality.

Christie’s appeal to anti-immigrant chauvinism and xenophobia came in the same week that his rival for the Republican presidential nomination, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, raised the need for not only sealing off the US southern border with Mexico, but constructing a wall along the 5,525-mile-long border with Canada to the north.

Meanwhile, a phony furor has been whipped up over the use by both Democratic presidential front-runner Hillary Clinton and Jeb Bush, a candidate for the Republican nomination, of the word “boxcar” in referring to proposals for the mass deportation of over 11 million undocumented immigrants who live and work in the US. Clinton’s press aide was compelled to issue a statement affirming that she did not intend any allusion to the trains the Nazis used to send Jews to Auschwitz and other death camps.

This strained disavowal only draws attention to the fact that campaign stump speeches in the US in 2015 are echoing the rhetoric of 1930s-style fascism.

Donald Trump, the bloated, bullying billionaire and current Republican front-runner, has set the tone for this rabid scapegoating of immigrant workers. Slandering immigrants, who do the most grinding and ill-paid work, from the agricultural fields to the slaughterhouses, as “rapists” and “murderers,” Trump has demanded that they be rounded up and deported en masse.

He also advocates the building of a wall along the US-Mexican border—paid for by seizing the remittances sent by immigrants working in the US to support their families—and the revocation of citizenship for immigrants’ children born on US soil.

This last measure has either been endorsed or sidestepped by virtually the entire Republican pack. Jeb Bush, who has attacked Trump’s plan based on its cost rather than its gross inhumanity, vowed that his own plan would effectively seal the border “so that you don’t have these, you know, ‘anchor babies’, as they’re described, coming into the country.”

With all of the arrogance, raw prejudice and stupidity that he brings to every subject, Trump has described the citizenship of these children as “illegal.”

In reality, citizenship rights for everyone born in the US, no matter what the status of their parents, has stood as a foundation of American bourgeois democracy for nearly a century and a half. Enshrined in the 14th Amendment, this right was a product of the Civil War and the overturning of the Supreme Court’s hated Dred Scott decision of 1857, which found that African-Americans were “so far inferior that they had no rights which the white man was bound to respect.”

The first sentence of the first section of this article of the US Constitution, establishing the bedrock for the assertion of equal rights, reads:  All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside.”

The determination of citizenship based on “soil,” or place of birth, rather than “blood,” or the nationality of one’s parents, was rooted in the principles of the American and French Revolutions and was what distinguished the US from Europe’s old monarchies and empires.

Attempts by the Democratic presidential candidates to exploit the Republicans’ anti-immigrant tirade for their own electoral purposes are as hollow as they are hypocritical.

In her speech last week to the Democratic National Committee, Hillary Clinton denounced the Republicans for saying “hateful things about immigrants and their babies,” while her contender for the presidential nomination, former Maryland Governor Martin O’Malley, insisted that the symbol of the US must be “the Statue of Liberty, not a barbed wire fence.”

In the real world, however, both support the current Democratic administration, which has driven deportations to record levels, expelling close to 3 million undocumented immigrants since Obama came to office promising immigration reform within 100 days. This deportation rate is nine times higher than 20 years ago.

Over the course of the past month, the administration has sent its lawyers into federal court to defend an illegal and inhuman system of jailing behind barbed wire fences thousands of children and their mothers who fled to the US to escape rampant violence in Central America.

The White House and Department of Homeland Security want to maintain this system, which reproduces the methods of Guantanamo and is described by some who worked in it as tantamount to torture. It is a means of deterring others from attempting to flee the horrific conditions created by decades of US-backed dictatorships, dirty wars and military coups, and of denying those who reach the US border their right to asylum.

The rhetoric of the Republicans and the deeds of the Democratic administration are of a piece with the attempts by governments across the Atlantic to erect a “Fortress Europe” to repel by force the hundreds of thousands of defenseless refugees fleeing for their lives from the devastation and bloodshed wrought by the succession of US-led wars of aggression in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria. On both continents, the mistreatment and witch-hunting of immigrants is one of the rawest and most tragic expressions of the incompatibility of world economy with the outmoded and reactionary capitalist nation-state system.

Capitalism can provide no answer to the reality of mass global migration outside of violent repression, detention camps and mass deportations. The big-business politicians and media attempt to generate support for these odious methods by scapegoating immigrants for the loss of jobs, wages and vital social services that are produced by the crisis of the profit system.

These claims, made by candidates ranging from Trump to the Democratic “socialist” Bernie Sanders, are deserving only of contempt. There are resources to provide for all—native born and immigrant alike—but they are monopolized by a financial oligarchy that has enriched itself off of the destruction of the living standards of working people.

The defense of the democratic right of immigration and opposition to the police-state measures advocated by Trump and employed by Obama is a vital task of the working class as a whole, which is the ultimate target of the methods being honed in the crusade against immigrant workers.

Posted in USAComments Off on The 2016 US Election and the Scapegoating of Immigrants

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