Archive | February 13th, 2016

The Truth About the Spanish-American War with James Perloff

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SHOW NOTES AND MP3: https://www.corbettreport.com/?p=17810

Although it gets short shrift in the history textbooks, in many ways the modern American empire can find its origins in the Spanish-American War. Today we talk to James Perloff of JamesPerloff.com about his article on the war, “Trial Run for Interventionism,” and how the bankers used their media and political connections to launch the war and introduce foreign interventionism to the American psyche.

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Nazi regime denies European Parliament delegation access to Gaza

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A delegation from the European Parliament was blocked by the Nazi regime from entering Gaza on Tuesday, the EU said in a statement.

The lawmakers, who are part of the working group of the European Parliament Delegation for relations with Palestine, arrived in illegally occupied Jerusalem on Monday and was due to visit Gaza to assess the destruction caused in the 2014 Nazi Holocaust and the reconstruction efforts funded by the European Union.

According to the statement, a copy of which was sent to MEMO’s reporter in Gaza, no justification was given to explain the refusal.

Delegation Chair Irish MEP Martina Anderson stated: “The systematic denial by Israel of access to Gaza to European Parliament delegations is unacceptable. The European Parliament has not been able to access Gaza since 2011.”

Anderson added: “This raises questions: what does the Israeli government aim to hide? We shall not give up on the Gazan people.”

The Delegation was led by Anderson and included six other lawmakers: Margrete Auken (Vice-Chair of Delegation, Greens), Roza Thun (EPP), Eugen Freund (S&D), Patrick Le Hyaric (GUE/NGL), Rosa D’Amato (EFDD) and Konstantinos Papadakis (NI).

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Is it too late for peace in ‘Israel’ / Palestine?

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Is peace possible in Palestine/Israel?

By Alan Hart

Before I offer my own answer here’s a quick review of how things are and look like going.

  • President Obama is not going to use the leverage he has to cause or try to cause Israel to end its defiance of international law and denial of justice for the Palestinians.

In the past I entertained some hope that in the last year of his second term he would do so, and there was quite a good reason for a small degree of optimism on my part. It was in what President Jimmy Carter once said to me. He explained that any president has only two windows of opportunity to take on the Zionist lobby and its stooges (I prefer to call them traitor-agents) in Congress.

The first window is the first nine months of his first term because after that the fundraising for the mid-term elections gets underway. (In his first nine months Obama tried and failed to get a settlement freeze).

The second window is the last year of his second term if he has one (President Carter didn’t).

Because Obama has nothing to lose personally (except perhaps his life), I think it’s not impossible that he would like to confront the Zionist lobby and those who do its bidding in Congress, but he knows that doing so would almost certainly have disastrous consequences for some Democrats who are seeking election or re-election to Congress. So he won’t.

  • There is no reason to believe that Obama’s successor or any future president will ever have the freedom and the will to put America’s own best interests first and do whatever is necessary to try to oblige Israel to make peace on terms the Palestinians could accept.

That said, there could be a scenario for hope if the rules were changed to take big money out of the electioneering process – to prevent wealthy supporters of Israel-right-or-wrong buying those seeking election or re-election to Congress.

But that’s most unlikely to happen. President Kennedy tried several times to introduce legislation to prevent wealthy donors buying chunks of what passes for democracy in America, but on each occasion he was blocked. (The notion that America is a democracy in more than name is as ridiculous as Zionism’s assertion that Israel has always lived in danger of annihilation.)

  • Those who believe that France, Britain, Germany and other European powers will one day get totally fed up with America’s refusal to call and hold Zionism to account and use the leverage they have to try to oblige Israel to be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept are guilty of wishful thinking.

On the matter of confronting the Zionist monster or not the European powers will only follow America’s lead.

  • The regimes of a corrupt, authoritarian and repressive Arab order will never confront Zionism in any meaningful way and/or use the leverage they have to try to cause America to do so.
  • The occupied and oppressed Palestinians have no credible leadership.

As Abdalhadi Alijla noted in a recent article for openDemocracy, “Most of the occupied and oppressed Palestinians have no trust in Fatah, Hamas and the PA [Palestine Authority] in general.”

His article, headlined “Peace: a meaningless concept”, opened with this line: “‘Peace’ now has no meaning and has been discredited as both a concept and a word.” He added: “Since Netanyahu came to power in 1996, peace has become a nauseating word.”

  • The BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions) movement is gathering momentum, and that in part is a manifestation of the rising, global tide of anti-Israelism which is being provoked by the Zionist state’s policies and actions. But without the endorsement and participation of governments, BDS is most unlikely to be a game changer

Taking account of what I have summarised above, and that Israel is stealing more and more Arab land and water and demolishing more and more Arab homes, my answer to my headline question – Is it too late for peace in Israel/Palestine? – is yes. I mean that as things are and look like going it is too late for peace based on justice for the Palestinians and security for all.

In my view, there’s a very strong case for saying that it’s actually been too late since November 1967 when the American-dominated UN Security Council surrendered to Zionism with Resolution 242. Because the Six Days War in June of that year was a war of Israeli aggression not self-defence, 242 ought to have required Israel to withdraw from the newly occupied Arab territories without conditions; and it ought to have put Israel on notice that it would be isolated and have sanctions imposed on it if it settled the new Arab land it had grabbed.

Though 242 did pay lip-service to “the inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by war”, it left Israel totally free to determine how much, if any, of the newly occupied Arab territory it would withdraw from. In other words, this infamous resolution, which didn’t even mention the Palestinians by name, put Zionism into the driving seat for any future negotiations.

As things are and look like going, the reality on the ground in Palestine that became Israel, and the complicity by default of all the major powers (and the Arab regimes) in Israel’s ongoing colonisation, mean that the occupied and oppressed Palestinians have two options if their resistance is not be crushed at some point by a final Zionist ethnic cleansing.

One is to abandon their struggle for justice and either accept crumbs from Zionism’s table in the shape of Bantustans on 30-40 per cent of the West Bank which they could call a state if they wished, or pack their bags and leave to start new lives elsewhere.

The other is to seek to change the dynamics of the conflict by insisting that the PA be dissolved with full responsibility and complete accountability for the occupation handed back to Israel.

As I have suggested in previous posts, this would impose significant security, financial and political burdens on Israel. Its leaders would respond with ever more brutal repression which would cause the global tide of anti-Israelism to rise higher and higher.

And that just could be enough at some point to cause the governments of the major powers (including the one in Washington DC) to say to each other behind closed doors something like this: “It’s not in any of our interests to let this conflict continue to fester because it is helping to fuel sympathy and support for violent Arab and other Muslim extremism in all its manifestations. We must now use the leverage we have to try to cause Israel to end its defiance of international law and be serious about peace on terms the Palestinians could accept.”

It is, of course, possible that even if the dynamics of the conflict could be changed in this way, Israel’s nuclear-armed leaders would tell the whole world to go to hell. But we will not know for certain how Israel would respond to real international pressure unless it is applied.

As Thomas Friedman noted recently in the New York Times, Avigdor Lieberman, the former Israeli Foreign Minister and would-be prime minister, is one Israeli leader who is firmly on the record with the statement that he doesn’t care what the world thinks about Israel’s policies and actions.

Last December at the Brookings Saban Forum on the Middle East he was asked a provocative question by the Atlantic magazine’s Jeff Goldberg.

“Things are shifting radically not only in non-Jewish America but in Jewish America as it concerns Israel and its reputation. My question is: (A) Do you care? (B) What are you going to do about it? And (C) how important is it to you?

Lieberman replied:

“To speak frankly, I don’t care.”

Israel, he went on to say, lived in a dangerous neighbourhood and, to ram home his main point, he added this:

“I don’t really care what American Jews and non-Jews think about Israel.”

What I am saying in conclusion comes down to this. If the occupied and oppressed Palestinians insisted on the dissolution of the PA and handing back to Israel full responsibility and complete accountability for the occupation, the answer to my headline question might not be yes.

Posted in Palestine Affairs, ZIO-NAZI1 Comment

Small business not the heart of US economy

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“Well, let me just follow-up on that, Anderson, because when I think aboutcapitalism, I think about all the small businesses that were started because we have the opportunity and the freedom in our country for people to do that and to make a good living for themselves and their families.”

-Hillary Clinton

Hillary Clinton, in the first Democratic presidential debate, hit on one of the biggest myths in U.S. politics. U.S. capitalism is the best system because at its heart is “small business” and that this “entrepreneurial spirit” is central to the  “American ” ethos. What is most notable about this is that small business is actually a very small part of the economy. The U.S.  economy in fact is totally dominated by monopoly corporations.

If, however, we are a “nation of shopkeepers” then ability to “pull oneself up by one’s bootstraps” and become rich and successful should be able to happen outside of the movies. In Clinton’s presentation this can-do spirit and the “freedom” that accompanied it created the U.S.  “middle class.”

That the self-professed democratic socialist Bernie Sanders followed up with a paean to “entrepreneurial spirit” shows how deeply this small business mythology pervades popular understanding of the economy.

What is the substance of this myth?

A nation of shopkeepers?

There is some sense to the idea small business is the “heart” of the U.S. economy, given that there are many more small businesses than large businesses. In fact in the private sector 97 percent of businesses have fewer than 100 employees. However the true picture is further revealed when one notes that while businesses that have over 1,000 employees represent only 0.21 percent of the businesses, they employ 40 percent of the people working in the entire country.

The raw number of workers in enterprises with more than 1,000 employees, about 45 million, is greater than the number of people working in all businesses
with fewer than 100 employees.

In the various U.S. manufacturing industries like auto or steel, in roughly 40 percent of them the four largest firms account for at least 50 percent of the business activity. Some 73 percent of computer and software stores are owned by the largest four brands in that industry. Likewise in the retail sector that includes stores such as  Target and Wal-Mart, 73 percent of its activity controlled by just the four market leaders.

Even in sectors that appear to have a decent amount of variety, a handful of firms dominate production. Some 32 percent of the supermarket business is controlled by the top four companies (up from 18 percent in 1992), while just one company accounts for 20 percent of all coffee sales in the U.S.

Capital is, of course, transnational, and many of the largest companies monopolize the global economy not just the U.S. economy. In 2011 a group of Swiss researchers studied what they deemed to be all 43,000 transnational corporations. They found that 147 firms with interlocking ownership of each other controlled 40 percent of the total wealth of all transnational corporations, and 737 firms controlled 80 percent.

If all that is not enough it further goes to make the point that the top 200 firms in the United States—out of 27 million—accounted for roughly 30
percent of the gross revenue and profits of the entire group.

In reality, the vast majority of people who work for wages work for larger corporations; almost every sector of the economy, as well as the economy as a whole, on a national and global scale, is dominated by a small minority of massive firms.

Small business operates primarily either as a supply-chain adjunct to, or in the crevasses, between large corporations.

Path to the middle class?

The “middle class” itself is something of a myth, so loosely defined that someone making $35,000 or $500,000 could both think they were in it. This is because “middle class” is defined as a level of income, essentially being enough disposable income to participate in mass consumer society in some meaningful way.

The mass consumer society at the center of the small business mythology was most decidedly not created by small businesses. This narrative was first used for political propaganda by Herbert Hoover with his “Chicken in every pot and car in every backyard,” then with the later and more all-encompassing “suburban living” that emerged after World War II.

The basis of this culture was the harnessing by huge industries of new “scientific” production techniques and assembly-line capabilities to produce an increasing number of products in the tens of millions, profitably. It also meant the increasing growth of state expenditures and agencies in augmenting and backstopping this new reality. (Michel Aglietta, A Theory of Capitalist Regulation: The U.S. Experience)

The reality is, however, this mass consumer culture did not create a large amount of economic mobility. Over most of the second half of the twentieth century the chances from moving to the bottom fifth to the top fifth of the income distribution wasn’t going to be more than 10 percent meaning there weren’t that many rags-to-riches stories.

So again, not only was the “middle class” standard of living not brought about by small business, but also—even during the “golden years” of the 1950s—there never was much inter-class mobility, that was no “pathway” to the middle class.

Economic reality

The only way to really explain this is to throw away the clearly inadequate conception of “middle class.” Marxists use a more precise definition of “class.” Your class is determined by your relationship to the economy. Do you have to sell your ability to do something to someone else to survive? If so you are in the “working class.” Or do you own an asset (other than your labor) which can “generate an income stream” for you?

The working class is larger and more variegated than its caricature of middle-aged white factory workers. It is essentially the bulk of society in all its varieties.

As the studies in economic mobility suggest, class distinctions are fairly rigid in the United States. It is not so much class location that fluctuates, as our perception of what it means. The popular feeling that there is less mobility is because there is less prosperity. Capitalism isn’t narrowing the gap between rich and poor but expanding it. You may be in the same place but the finish line now appears further away.

It is worth noting here the very idea of the “American Dream” middle class standard of living is mostly a snapshot of a very particular part of the economy at a very particular place in time: when jobs and suburban homes were largely not available to Blacks and women played an extremely limited role in the economy. The same research that shows little variation in economic mobility over time also finds that geographic trends reveal certain regions have more variable levels of economic mobility than others within the United States.

A clear reflection of the divergence between the “American Dream” and reality can be seen in the legacies of slavery and Jim Crow, the oppression of women, redlining in homeownership, and so on. The geographic differences in mobility speaks to the fact that capitalism in the U.S. isn’t simply some monolith but a system of exploitation that through its own trials and tribulations has constructed a complicated set of relations.

What’s key isn’t really so much the differences between people, which as the recent focus in social movements in “identity” have revealed, are numerous and intersecting. But what is important is that most people exist somewhere along the non-decision making end of the value chain of a handful of corporations controlled by a tiny group of people.

Odds are, the social milieu you’re born into is most likely the one in which you will live your whole life. The most powerful unifying factor that cuts across the working class (however we may identify) is the inability to have any real control over our lives. We essentially manage them within these broad limits.

This is why the mythology around small business is important. It reinforces the central idea that “if you work hard, you can succeed.” It gives the impression of a dynamic system in which “anyone can make it.” When the reality is: it is a system dominated by a handful of monopolies, their owners bloated with wealth. Odds are you are going to stay right where you are.

The fact that we live in a monopoly capitalist society is fairly obvious, hence the hard work that is put into perpetuating myths about the system. First we must discard the myths, then learn their lesson. Whatever other differences exist, and they must be addressed, the vast majority of people have a unified interest in opposing the interests of the system that uses the ownership of a few to exploit the many.

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi attack Red Cross aid convoy near Damascus

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Saudi Zio-Wahhabi Foreign-backed militants have attacked the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) vehicles carrying humanitarian aid to an area near the Syrian capital, Damascus.

Zio-Wahhabi opened fire on convoys from the ICRC and the Syrian Arab Red Crescent (SARC) trying to enter al-Mazaya district in Damascus on Wednesday, Lebanon’s al-Ahed news website reported.

A number of aid workers were injured in the incident and three of them are reportedly in a critical condition.

On Tuesday, the two relief agencies delivered some 6,500 food packages to a number of villages in the town of Souq Wadi Barada.

This came as Syrian forces made fresh gains in areas north of Aleppo. Local residents from the town of Tal Rif’at, which is located around 20 kilometers from the Turkish frontier, together with government forces freed some areas from foreign-backed militants affiliated to al-Nusra Front. At least two people were injured in the operation.

Kurdish fighters also took full control of the town of Meng, located north of Aleppo, Lebanon’s al-Manar television channel reported.

Reports also said that at least 16 al-Nusra militants were killed in Russia’s airstrikes on the coastal Latakia Province.

Elsewhere in the northeastern province of al-Hasakah, a bomb planted in a car went off. Following the blast, clashes erupted between Takfiri militants and army forces, during which a number of people were killed.

The Syrian military backed by volunteer forces has recently inflicted heavy losses on foreign-backed militants during mop-up operations on different fronts. Over the past few weeks, the Syrian forces have also gained more ground against militants north of Latakia.

The conflict in Syria began in March 2011 and has reportedly claimed the lives of more than 260,000 people with millions of Syrians displaced inside and outside the war-torn country.

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‘Paz Colombia’: the Latest US Attempt to Control Colombia?

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By Justin Podur – teleSUR 

​The U.S. has announced funding for a new Plan Colombia as the country moves towards a resolution to its civil war. What is its real purpose?

Colombia’s peace process has entered its final phase. Agreements have been reached on land reform, political participation, and the rights of victims. The discussions are now focused on ending the conflict and implementation and verification of the accords. The deadline for a final agreement is March 23, and it might be met.

In this last phase of negotiations, Colombia’s president reached out to the US for aid. On February 4, a new initiative was unveiled in Washington by presidents Santos and Obama: the new version of Plan Colombia, which they called “Paz Colombia”. Obama began by commemorating the success of Plan Colombia, a plan that brought military helicopters and escalated aerial fumigation to the country. “We were proud to support Colombia and its people as you strengthened your security forces, as you reformed land laws, and bolstered democratic institutions,” he said. “And after 15 years of sacrifice and determination, a tipping point has been reached. The tide has turned.”

Santos elaborated on the successes since Plan Colombia was rolled out in 2000: “Today we can say without a doubt that the goals that we had in 2000 — such as fighting the drug war, strengthening institutions, and imposing the rule of law, and to take social programs to great parts of remote Colombian territory — those objectives have been met.”

The history of Plan Colombia is slightly different than that presented by Obama and Santos. As lawyer Dan Kovalik outlined in this article for teleSUR English, the problems the president’s claim Plan Colombia solved were mostly made worse by it.

Take Santos’s objectives, which Plan Colombia supposedly met: The drug war? There may be a peace agreement between the government and FARC, but the drug war promises to go on and on. The rule of law and the strengthening of institutions? These were certainly areas of struggle over the past 15 years, but any gains made there were fought for by the people, not flown in by the military helicopters of Plan Colombia. Social programs and protections? Many have been lost under neoliberalism – some have been preserved by struggle by Colombia’s movements.

What about Obama’s list? Security forces were strengthened, to be sure. New equipment was introduced and soldiers were trained in its use. But the Plan Colombia years were years of collaboration between the military and the paramilitaries, who were responsible for the most horrific violence. Reformed land laws? The 15 years of Plan Colombia were a time of losses of land and of rights to land. Colombia’s 1991 Constitution was one of the most progressive in Latin America when it came into force. Indigenous and Afro-Colombian territorial rights were enshrined. Paramilitary violence escalated after this constitution, as elites deployed their forces to create facts on the ground: specifically, to use terror and massacre to force people to flee the territories they had just won legal rights to. Millions of people were displaced from their lands in this way. Legal changes under the 15 years of Plan Colombia, the “reformed land laws”, attempted to retroactively legalize this loss of land. As for the bolstering of democratic institutions, it was in the Plan Colombia years that the “para-politica” or “para-Uribe” scandal occurred – evidence of signed contracts between politicians and paramilitaries to kill and displace local people.

There were other scandals too, in the Plan Colombia years. The Colombian security services wiretapping politicians involved in the peace process. The Colombian military entrapping and murdering completely innocent peasants, dressing them up as guerrillas, and using the deaths to inflate the numbers of casualties their units were inflicting (“false positives”).

At the announcement of the Paz Colombia plan, Obama said that the US would support the peace the same way it had supported the war. If this is the plan, it is frightening. When Plan Colombia started in 2000, there was actually a peace process underway between the FARC and the government. It had begun just a year before, in 1999. There is little question that Plan Colombia helped to derail it, steering the Colombian government towards a military solution.

At $450 million USD, the scale of Paz Colombia was reportedly disappointing to President Santos. The original Plan Colombia was announced at $1.3 billion USD, most of which paid for US-manufactured attack helicopters. Colombia paid several times that amount out of its own budget for Plan Colombia. Colombians paid for Plan Colombia, and they will be paying for Paz Colombia.

Those were not the only costs Colombians paid. The environmental and health costs of the spraying are difficult to calculate. In 2008, Ecuador took Colombia to court over the ecological and health damage caused by aerial fumigation on the Colombia-Ecuador border. In 2013, the lawsuit was settled for $15 million, which environmentalists argued was an extreme undervaluation of the damage. The true damages might be in the billions.

Many problems remain. Neither the peace accords nor Paz Colombia deal with the bigger cause of violence over the decades: the paramilitaries. Implementation will be fraught with difficulties. When previous guerrilla groups disarmed and joined politics (Union Patriotica and M-19), they were devastated by state-backed paramilitary assassination campaigns. Unarmed social movements have struggled during the talks, as they did during the war, to get their voices heard and their sacrifices recognized.

But a negotiated end to the armed conflict has long been a demand of these movements, and its realization is to be celebrated. The movements will be the ones fighting to prevent Colombia’s post-war reality from being “mired in structural poverty and violence and endemic corruption”, as Hector Perla wrote in teleSUR last week.

It is not accurate to say that the US is standing with Colombia in peace as it did in war. It might be more accurate to say that the US is trying to control the peace as it controlled the war. If the history of Plan Colombia is a guide, an independent path might yield a better peace.

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Save Flint! Kill capitalism!

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Save Flint! Kill capitalism!

The following statement was released by the PSL’s La Riva/Puryear presidential campaign. Find out more about the campaign here.

An entire town of 110,000 people, majority African American, has been poisoned for two years. The government knew about it the entire time but refuses to do anything to help the people. How can this happen? After all, the vast majority of people are not in favor of children and others being willfully poisoned with lead by their government. People must have water free from harmful toxins—this is universally recognized as a basic human right.

The people’s grassroots response to the crime against humanity in Flint has been clear and powerful. Millions upon millions of bottles of water have been delivered to Flint from people all across country. This last weekend 300 union plumbers installed faucets and filters for free all over Flint. Our campaign salutes all those who are reaching out the hand of solidarity to the people of Flint.

But water bottles, filters and faucets are not enough. In truth, Flint, along with thousands of other cities and neighborhoods, disproportionately Black, Brown and poor, is being strangled by capitalist austerity. Flint, more than 50 percent Black, where the median income is barely above the poverty level, was being destroyed long before the people were poisoned. As a result, Flint will need billions and billions of dollars in outside assistance to solve all of its health, social and economic problems.

What makes the lead poisoning of 110,000 people in Flint, including 9,000 children, even more criminal is that fact that Flint is a 45 minute drive away from Lake Huron. Lake Huron is part of the Great Lakes, the largest source of fresh water on the planet! Thousands of children have been disabled by lead poisoning for absolutely no valid reason.

Michigan governor Rick Snyder, who signed the laws, appointed all the officials and oversaw all the basic decisions that led to the poisoning of the people of Flint, should be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity. While Snyder needs to be held accountable, this crime is not simply to product of one person’s malfeasance. We say the whole system is guilty:the system of capitalism that puts profits before the people.

Two years ago, the Michigan state-appointed emergency manager for Flint, who has dictatorial powers over city government, unhooked the residents of Flint from the Great Lakes in an effort to “save money.” When residents started to complain about the tainted water, entire sections of the government, from local to federal officials, went into action to cover up and defend their crime.

In April of 2014, the General Motors plant in Flint complained about the water. Governor Rick Snyder hooked GM back up to Lake Huron at the cost of a half a million dollars. GM is the only Flint address with Lake Huron water!

In January 2015, the state started delivering bottled water to government employees in Flint while it was actively covering up the high levels of lead in the drinking water.

Without the slightest doubt, we know that Governor Snyder, water companies that profit off such a basic human need, EPA officials, General Motors and many more are guilty of Flint’s ruination. They callously damaged the brains of thousands of children and so much more. Justice demands that they pay for their crimes and we must fight to see that every single person responsible in any way is indicted and convicted. People like Gov. Snyder who use their position to starve and harm the poor and workers must not be allowed to walk freely among us.

Capitalism is a rotten, racist system where the rich and their politicians victimize, poison and kill with impunity. Flint makes this clear as day. The murder of Flint must not go unpunished. For justice to be truly served, we must bring a final end to capitalism and build a system where people’s needs come before profit.

 

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Listen now: Gloria La Riva and Jill Stein respond to Sanders, Trump victories

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By Vote PSL

Listen now: 2016 third party presidential candidates Jill Stein of the Green Party and Gloria La Riva of the Party for Socialism and Liberation discuss the surge of Sanders and Trump in the New Hampshire primary. They appear on a special episode of Loud & Clear, hosted by Brian Becker.

Stein and La Riva discuss why Sanders has been surging among the youth, what has led to the rise of the far right in the Republican race, Hillary Clinton’s role in the Iraq and Libya war, the role of the banks in the U.S. economy and in the Republican and Democratic political parties, Bernie Sanders’ foreign policy positions, whether Michael Bloomberg will enter the 2016 campaign as an independent candidate, the role of socialist and progressive third parties in 2016 and the role of the mass media in shaping political outcomes.

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‘A special place in hell’: for young Sanders supporters or for Madeleine Albright?

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Albright, a fanatical advocate for genocidal sanctions and bombing campaigns, is in no place to lecture young women on “feminism.”

I am writing as a working woman, feminist, socialist, and candidate for President of the United States, and I want to condemn in the strongest possible terms the outlandish attacks by Hillary Clinton and Madeleine Albright on any woman working in support of the political campaign of Bernie Sanders. This attack, particularly on young women who are supporting Sanders in such large numbers, is a shameful and opportunist attempt to use the historic struggle for women’s rights for the narrowest political gains.

In a desperate attempt to reverse the growing support among young women and men for her opponent in the Democratic Party primaries, Hillary Clinton has enlisted the support of notorious war monger and advocate of mass murder, Madeleine Albright.

As Clinton looked on laughing and clapping, Albright told the media on February 6: “There’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help each other!”

If indeed there were such a “special place,” Madeleine Albright would most assuredly be going. And going along with her would be candidate Clinton.

As UN Ambassador and the Secretary of State in the Bill Clinton regime, Albright was a fanatical advocate of the genocidal sanctions blockade that killed more than a million women, children and men in Iraq, and of the 1999 U.S./NATO bombing war against Yugoslavia.

On May 12, 1996, nearly six years into the U.S./UN sanctions, Albright was interviewed on CBS “60 Minutes” by Lesley Stahl, who had just returned from Iraq, about the impact on the Iraqi population:

Lesley Stahl: “We have heard that a half million children have died. I mean, that’s more children than died in Hiroshima. And, you know, is the price worth it?”

U.S. Ambassador to the UN Madeleine Albright: “I think this is a very hard choice, but the price–we think the price is worth it.”

Albright’s astoundingly flippant answer was nothing less than a confession to one of the most horrific war crimes in history, indicting not just herself but all the leaders of the Bush I, Clinton and Bush II administrations who were fully aware of the lethal impact of sanctions on the people of Iraq.

In 1999, Albright played a key role in the war on Yugoslavia, engineering the failure of the negotiations that preceded the war. Albright presented the Yugoslav government with an “agreement” that would have allowed NATO to forces to occupy the entire country, with the unheard of provision that Yugoslavia would pay for the expenses of the occupation!

After the talks broke off, a “top official” (Albright) told reporters in an off-the-record session: “We intentionally set the bar too high for the Serbs to comply. They need some bombing, and that’s what they are going to get.” When the Yugoslav government predictably rejected the ultimatum disguised as a “proposal,” the bombing began and continued for three months.

Thousands of civilians were killed, wounded and made homeless. As was true in Iraq, the entire population was traumatized, with women and children most severely impacted.

Like the assault on Iraq, the attack on Yugoslavia was a war crime, a “crime against peace,” the most serious of all violations of international law, a war of aggression against another state that poses no threat to the country launching the war.

According to her own words, Hillary Clinton joined in the war chorus: “I urged him [President Clinton] to bomb.”

In 2003, Senator Clinton supported invasion and occupation of Iraq. In 2011, as Secretary of State, she was chief advocate in the Obama administration in calling for the bombing war that killed, wounded and displaced unknown numbers of Libyans and devastated the country.

After the torture and murder of Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi, Clinton laughingly told a CBS interviewer: “We came, we saw, he died.

Albright and Clinton thus share much in common both with each other and their far more numerous murderous male counterparts in the top levels of the U.S. imperialist state machine. That they who have worked to destroy the lives of so many millions of women would now presume to lecture young women on “feminism” and attempt to shame them into supporting Clinton is a despicable travesty.

Posted in USAComments Off on ‘A special place in hell’: for young Sanders supporters or for Madeleine Albright?

Making sense of the BBC’s World War Three: Inside the War Room

NOVANEWS

Preparing the British public for collective suicide? Or a voice of reason in a world gone mad under US-Russian confrontation?

By Gilbert Doctorow 

The Russians and all of ‘progressive humanity’ have been jumping up and down about this pseudo-documentary film. The sound bite from one War Room participant that “I wouldn’t mind killing tens of thousands of Russians” has been trumpeted as a major provocation. Baltics politicians on both sides of the issue are furious. However, seeing the film through to its unexpected ending, one is left with big questions about the intentions of its producers and of its high level participants that so far no one has addressed.

The pseudo-documentary film “World War Three: Inside the War Room was described in advance by the BBC as a “war game” detailing the minute-by-minute deliberations of the country’s highest former defense and security officials facing an evolving crisis involving Russia.

What gave unusual realism and relevance to their participation is that they were speaking their own thoughts, producing their own argumentation, not reading out lines handed to them by television script writers.

The mock crisis to which they were reacting occurs in Latvia as the Kremlin’s intervention on behalf of Russian speakers in the south of this Baltic country develops along lines of events in the Donbas as from summer 2014. When the provincial capital of Daugavpils and more than 20 towns in the surrounding region bordering Russia are taken by pro-Russian separatists, the United States calls upon its NATO allies to deliver an ultimatum to the Russians to pull back their troops within 72 hours or be pushed out by force.

This coalition of the willing only attracts the British. After the deadline passes, the Russians “accidentally” launch a tactical nuclear strike against British and American vessels in the Baltic Sea, destroying two ships with the loss of 1,200 Marines and crew on the British side. Washington then calls for like-for-like nuclear attack on a military installation in Russia, which, as we understand, leads to full nuclear war.

The show was aired on Feb. 3 by BBC Two, meaning it was directed at a domestic audience, not the wider world. However, in the days since its broadcast, it has attracted a great deal of attention outside the United Kingdom, more in fact than within Britain. The Russians, in particular, adopted a posture of indignation, calling the film a provocation.

In his widely watched weekend wrap-up of world news, Russia’s senior television journalist Dimitri Kiselev devoted close to ten minutes denouncing the BBC production. He cited one participant (former UK Ambassador to Russia Sir Tony Brenton) expressing pleasure at the idea of “killing tens of thousands of Russians.” This segment was later repeated on Vesti hourly news programs during the past week. Kiselev asked rhetorically how the British would react if Moscow produced a mirror image show from its War Room.

For its part, the world broadcaster Russia Today issued a harsh review which castigates the British broadcaster for presenting Russia as “Dr. Evil Incarnate, the villain that regularly plays opposite peace-loving NATO nations.” It saw the motivation of the producers as related to “the military-industrial shopping season.”

RT alleges the BBC was trying to drum up popular support for the modernization of Britain’s nuclear Trident submarines at a cost to taxpayers of some 100 billion pounds ($144.7 billion).

Meanwhile, President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said it was low grade, translated by some as trash, and that he didn’t bother to watch it. If so, that is a pity for the reasons I will set out below.

The program also generated a great deal of emotion in Latvia, on both sides of the fundamental issue. The country’s Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics tweeted that he found parts of the program to be ‘’rubbish’’ while other parts had lessons to be studied. Public Broadcasting of Latvia was concerned over the scant support the country appears to enjoy in Britain and other NATO member states, judging by the deliberations in the War Room.

For their part, members of the Russian speaking community were deeply upset by the way the program provides grist to the mill of those who view them as a fifth column ready to be used by the Kremlin for its aggressive purposes.

Examination of the British print media’s reaction to World War Three results in a very different impression of the film. Reviews in the British press mostly directed attention to the program’s entertainment value. The Telegraph called the film “gripping and terrifying.”

The Independent reviewer tells us: “It started out as quite a dull discussion but as the hypothetical situation escalated – and boy did it escalate quickly – it fast became compelling, if not terrifying, viewing. … It was a little clichéd – the Russians were the bad guys, the UK set lots of deadlines but ultimately wouldn’t commit to any action and the US went in all guns (or nuclear weapons) blazing – but then clichés are always clichés for a reason.”

In a reversal of roles, the tabloid Daily Mail ended up doing the heavy lifting for the British press with thoughtful in-depth reporting.

The Daily Mail expressed deep surprise at the way World War Three ends, with the War Room team voting overwhelmingly to order Trident submarine commanders not to fire even as Russian nuclear ICBMs have been launched and are on their way to targets in the West, including England. The paper noted, correctly I might add, that this puts in question the value of the Trident deterrent, which the Cameron government is planning to renew. The newspaper sent out its reporters to follow up on this stunning aspect of the BBC film.

The Daily Mail especially wanted elucidation of two remarks at the very end of the film, just prior to the final vote. One was by Sir Tony Brenton, UK Ambassador to Russia, 2004-2008, who says in the film: “Do we pointlessly kill millions of Russians or not? To me it’s a no-brainer – we do not.”

This quote deserves special attention because it was made by Brenton right after his widely cited and seemingly scandalous statement which has been taken out of context, namely that he wouldn’t mind killing tens of thousands of Russians in response to the destruction of the British vessel in the Baltic by Russia at the cost of 1,200 British lives.

The second remark from the end of the film cited by The Daily Mail which they in fact follow-up was more surprising still, coming as it did from a top military official, General Sir Richard Shirreff, who served as Deputy Supreme Allied Commander Europe, 2011-2014. Shirreff declared on camera: “I say do not fire.”
When asked about it, Shirreff gave the newspaper a still better sound bite that bears repeating in full: “At this point it was clear deterrence had failed. My feeling was it had become a moral issue – that the use of force can only be justified to prevent a greater evil … if the UK is going to be obliterated, what is going to be achieved if we obliterate half of Russia as well? It was going to create an even worse evil.”

It is a great pity that the Kremlin has chosen to vilify the BBC’s producers and overlook these extraordinary open text signals from the very top of the British political and defense elites.

If nothing else, The Daily Mail reporting knocks out the easy answers and compels us to ask anew what did the British broadcaster have in mind when it produced the pseudo-documentary World War Three. Moreover, why did top former British diplomats, military officials and politicians agree to participate in this film?

In one sense, this film is a collective selfie. It might be just another expression of our contemporary narcissism, when former top government officials publish their memoirs soon after leaving office and tell all. But several of the participants are not even former office holders. They continue to be active and visible.

One can name the Liberal Democrat Baroness Falkner, spokesperson for foreign policy. Also, Dr. Ian Kearns who remains very much in the news as the director of the European Leadership Network, partner to the leadership of the Munich Security Conference and a member of teams that are invited to Moscow from time to time to talk international security issues with the Russians. Surely these VIP participants in the film had no intension of cutting off contacts by antagonizing the Kremlin. So there is something else going on.

What that something else might be can be teased out if we pay close attention to their deliberations on screen. I believe they earnestly sought to share with the British public the burden of moral and security decision-making, to present themselves as reasonable people operating to the best of their knowledge and with all due respect for contrary opinions to reach the best possible recommendations for action in the national interest.

In the War Room, we are presented with two very confident hardliners, General Richard Shirreff, mentioned above, and Admiral Lord West, former Chief of Naval Staff; and with two very confident soft-liners, Baronness Falkner, the Liberal Democrat Foreign Affairs Spokesman, and Sir Tony Brenton. The others seated at the table do not have firm views and are open to persuasion.

It is noteworthy that argumentation is concise and apart from the occasional facial expression showing exasperation with opponents, there is a high level of purely intellectual debate throughout. Though one of the reviewers in the British press calls Falkner a “peacenik” in what is not meant as a compliment, no such compartmentalizing of thinking appears in the video. And the counter arguments are set out in some detail.

The voting at turning points in the developing scenario of confrontation with Russia is open. When the participants consider Britain joining the United States-led coalition of the willing ready to use force to eject the Russians from Latvia, they insist they will not be passive in the relationship, will not be Washington’s “poodle.” This is in clear reference to criticism of the Blair government’s joining the American invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Baroness Falkner is allowed to question the very logic of NATO. She calls the early decisions taken by the majority of her colleagues “sleepwalking,” an allusion to the group think that brought all of Europe into the suicidal First World War. With further reference to WWI, she says that the British government must look after the security of its people and not blindly submit to the wishes of an Alliance when that spells doom, such as happened in 1914.

At each turn of the voting on what to do next until the very last, the hardliners win out. But positions can and ultimately do flip-flop. In the end the overwhelming majority around the table decides not to press the button.

However, if the participants want to show themselves as open-minded and sincere, does that mean that the facts they work from are objective and equally well vetted. Here we come to a crucial problem of the video: Narration of the pre-history to the crisis over the Baltics, namely the archival footage on the Russian-Georgian War of 2008, the Russian “annexation” of Crimea and the Russian “intervention” in Donbass, is an unqualified presentation of the narrative from Washington and London, with Russia as “aggressor.” The narration of the crisis events as they unfold is also the unqualified, unchallenged view from the Foreign Office.

The pseudo-reporting on the ground in Daugavpils which is the epicenter of the crisis gives viewers part of the reason for the fictional Russian intervention, but only a small part. One Russian speaker tells the reporter that she is there in the demonstration because Russian-speakers have been deprived of citizenship since the independence of Latvia and this cannot continue.

But we are not told what the former diplomats in the War Room surely know: that Britain was complicit in this situation. In fact, the British knew perfectly well from before the vote on accession of the Baltic states to the European Union in 2004 that Latvia and Estonia were in violation of the rules on minorities of European conventions.

However, in the back-room negotiations which led to the final determination of the list of new Member States, the British chose to ignore the Latvian violations, which should have held up admission, for the sake of getting support from other Member States for extending E.U. membership to Cyprus.

The unfolding scenario of Russian actions and Western reactions does not attempt to penetrate Russian thinking in any depth. We are given the usual generalizations about the personality of Vladimir Putin. The most profound observation we are offered is that Russian elites only understand strength and would not allow Putin to back down, so he must be offered face-saving gestures even as his aggression is foiled.

The objectives of Russian moves on the geopolitical chessboard are not debated. The question of how the Baltics and Ukraine are similar or different for Russian national interest is hardly explored. Simply put, as the British press reviews understood, the Russians are “bad guys.”

Moreover, the authors of this war game assume that the past is a good guide to the future, which in warfare of all kinds is very often a fallacious and dangerous assumption. There is no reason to believe that the Russian “hybrid warfare” used in the Crimea and Donbass would be applied to the Baltics, or that escalation would be gradual.

Given the much smaller scale of the Baltic states, each with two million or fewer inhabitants, and the short logistical lines, it might be more reasonable to consider the Russians moving in and occupying the capitals in one fell swoop if they had reason to do so.

At present, they do not. But if the build-up of NATO troops and materiel along the Western frontiers of Russia and in the Baltic Sea continues as projected in President Obama’s latest appropriations for that purpose, reason for Russian action might well appear.

In this case, the confrontation might proceed straight to red alert on strategic nuclear forces without any intermediary pinpricks that this film details, much as happened back in the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis. The British, as well as other NATO countries would then be totally sidelined as talks went on directly between Moscow and Washington.

The tragedy in our times of “information warfare” is that well-educated and sincere citizens are blind-sighted. We have an old maxim that when you cannot persuade, confuse. The fatal flaw comes when you start to believe your own propaganda.

If nothing else, the BBC documentary demonstrates that for Western elites this is what has happened. The reaction to the film from the Kremlin, suggests the same has happened to Eastern elites.

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