Archive for October, 2012

“Obama moves to make the War on Terror permanent” by Glenn Greenwald – the discovery of US state assassination ‘disposition matrix’ [Guardian]

Posted in Obama, Pentagon, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on October 31, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

“Complete with a newly coined, creepy Orwellian euphemism – ‘disposition matrix’ – the administration institutionalizes the most extremist powers a government can claim”


October 24, 2012

A primary reason for opposing the acquisition of abusive powers and civil liberties erosions is that they virtually always become permanent, vested not only in current leaders one may love and trust but also future officials who seem more menacing and less benign.

The Washington Post has a crucial and disturbing story this morning by Greg Miller about the concerted efforts by the Obama administration to fully institutionalize – to make officially permanent – the most extremist powers it has exercised in the name of the war on terror.

Based on interviews with “current and former officials from the White House and the Pentagon, as well as intelligence and counterterrorism agencies”, Miller reports that as “the United States’ conventional wars are winding down”, the Obama administration “expects to continue adding names to kill or capture lists for years” (the “capture” part of that list is little more than symbolic, as the US focus is overwhelmingly on the “kill” part)…

…In pursuit of this goal, “White House counterterrorism adviser John O Brennan is seeking to codify the administration’s approach to generating capture/kill lists, part of a broader effort to guide future administrations through the counterterrorism processes that Obama has embraced.” All of this, writes Miller, demonstrates “the extent to which Obama has institutionalized the highly classified practice of targeted killing, transforming ad-hoc elements into a counterterrorism infrastructure capable of sustaining a seemingly permanent war…”

…The creepiest aspect of this development is the christening of a new Orwellian euphemism for due-process-free presidential assassinations: “disposition matrix”. Writes Miller:

“Over the past two years, the Obama administration has been secretly developing a new blueprint for pursuing terrorists, a next-generation targeting list called the ‘disposition matrix’.

“The matrix contains the names of terrorism suspects arrayed against an accounting of the resources being marshaled to track them down, including sealed indictments and clandestine operations. US officials said the database is designed to go beyond existing kill lists, mapping plans for the ‘disposition’ of suspects beyond the reach of American drones.”

The “disposition matrix” has been developed and will be overseen by the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC). One of its purposes is “to augment” the “separate but overlapping kill lists” maintained by the CIA and the Pentagon: to serve, in other words, as the centralized clearinghouse for determining who will be executed without due process based upon how one fits into the executive branch’s “matrix”. As Miller describes it, it is “a single, continually evolving database” which includes “biographies, locations, known associates and affiliated organizations” as well as “strategies for taking targets down, including extradition requests, capture operations and drone patrols”. This analytical system that determines people’s “disposition” will undoubtedly be kept completely secret; Marcy Wheeler sardonically said that she was “looking forward to the government’s arguments explaining why it won’t release the disposition matrix to ACLU under FOIA”.

This was all motivated by Obama’s refusal to arrest or detain terrorist suspects, and his resulting commitment simply to killing them at will (his will)…

…What has been created here – permanently institutionalized – is a highly secretive executive branch agency that simultaneously engages in two functions: (1) it collects and analyzes massive amounts of surveillance data about all Americans without any judicial review let alone search warrants, and (2) creates and implements a “matrix” that determines the “disposition” of suspects, up to and including execution, without a whiff of due process or oversight. It is simultaneously a surveillance state and a secretive, unaccountable judicial body that analyzes who you are and then decrees what should be done with you, how you should be “disposed” of, beyond the reach of any minimal accountability or transparency…

…even more significant is the truly radical vision of government in which this is all grounded. The core guarantee of western justice since the Magna Carta was codified in the US by the fifth amendment to the constitution: “No person shall . . . be deprived of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law.” You simply cannot have a free society, a worthwhile political system, without that guarantee, that constraint on the ultimate abusive state power, being honored.

And yet what the Post is describing, what we have had for years, is a system of government that – without hyperbole – is the very antithesis of that liberty. It is literally impossible to imagine a more violent repudiation of the basic blueprint of the republic than the development of a secretive, totally unaccountable executive branch agency that simultaneously collects information about all citizens and then applies a “disposition matrix” to determine what punishment should be meted out. This is classic political dystopia brought to reality (despite how compelled such a conclusion is by these indisputable facts, many Americans will view such a claim as an exaggeration, paranoia, or worse because of this psychological dynamic I described here which leads many good passive westerners to believe that true oppression, by definition, is something that happens only elsewhere)…

…As the [US Founding Fathers] all recognized, nothing vests elites with power – and profit – more than a state of war. That is why there were supposed to be substantial barriers to having them start and continue – the need for a Congressional declaration, the constitutional bar on funding the military for more than two years at a time, the prohibition on standing armies, etc. Here is how John Jay put it in Federalist No 4:

“It is too true, however disgraceful it may be to human nature, that nations in general will make war whenever they have a prospect of getting anything by it; nay, absolute monarchs will often make war when their nations are to get nothing by it, but for the purposes and objects merely personal, such as thirst for military glory, revenge for personal affronts, ambition, or private compacts to aggrandize or support their particular families or partisans. These and a variety of other motives, which affect only the mind of the sovereign, often lead him to engage in wars not sanctified by justice or the voice and interests of his people.”

In sum, there are factions in many governments that crave a state of endless war because that is when power is least constrained and profit most abundant. What the Post is reporting is yet another significant step toward that state, and it is undoubtedly driven, at least on the part of some, by a self-interested desire to ensure the continuation of endless war and the powers and benefits it vests…the endless expansion of a kill list and the unaccountable, always-expanding powers needed to implement it does indeed represent a great success for many. Read what John Jay wrote in the above passage to see why that is, and why few, if any, political developments should be regarded as more pernicious.

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Also see “Obama institutionalizes state assassinations” [World Socialist Website]


China focus: Canton Fair foretells grim trade outlook, economic rebalancing [Xinhua]

Posted in Capitalism crisis early 21st century, China, Economy, Guangzhou on October 30, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

GUANGZHOU, Oct. 21 (Xinhua) — With the world economy mired in a chronic slowdown since the 2008 financial crisis, China’s largest trade fair offers a glimpse into the country’s foreign trade situation as well as the economic outlook.

The autumn session of the Canton Fair wrapped up its first week of display on Friday, mainly focusing on machinery and electronics products, hardware products and chemical products.

Statistics from the fair’s organizer show that the number of overseas buyers to the fair — a barometer of China’s export situation — declined considerably, indicating weak global demand amid a sluggish recovery, compounded by a more recent eurozone debt crisis.

The fair registered a total of 93,529 overseas buyers as of Thursday, a decline of 11.4 percent over the same period in the spring session.

At a time when the entire world is tightening its belt, global buyers are more cautious and hesitant in clinching orders.

“We are feeling much pressure, as the number of European and U.S. buyers visiting our booth dropped by more than half during the fair, and those who did visit seemed in a low mood to order,” said Chen Dong, vice manager of Guangdong Machinery Imp. & Exp. Co., Ltd.

Chen said his company had already witnessed a sales decline of 5 percent in the first half of this year.

China’s foreign trade in the first three quarters of the year rose a mere 6.2 percent to 2.84 trillion U.S. dollars, sharply contrasting the 20.3-percent growth registered during the same period in 2011, according to the General Administration of Customs.

Despite a brisk export surge of 9.9 percent to a monthly record-high export volume in September, and a 2.4 percent recovery in imports after consecutive falls in previous months, the trade outlook in the last quarter as well as that for all of 2012 remains gloomy, and experts say a rebound is unlikely in the foreseeable future.

The grim foreign trade outlook is further dampened by a disheartening overall economic situation.

In the third quarter, China’s economy expanded 7.4 percent year on year, slowing from 7.6 percent in the second quarter and 8.1 percent in the first, according to figures released by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) on Thursday, indicating that the country’s economic growth has been on a descending trajectory.

Enterprise representatives interviewed at the fair say the persisting eurozone debt crisis is hindering the recovery of global demand.

Chinese machinery and electronics exports to the European market dropped 23.1 percent during the fair, in great contrast with a 7.5-percent decline to the American market and a slight dip of 0.3 percent to Africa, said Liu Chun, secretary-general of the China Chamber of Commerce for Import & Export of Machinery and Electronics Products.

Machinery and electronics products account for about 60 percent of China’s total exports.

“The sagging economy in Europe is mainly to blame for the cooling down of global trade,” Liu said…


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Study: female N. Korean defectors suffer depression, sexual abuse [The Hankyoreh / 한겨레]

Posted in China, DPR Korea, south Korea on October 29, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Reports from capitalist media usually make out such defectors as having reached the promised land. A staggering minimum of 85% of female defectors surveyed in south Korea suffer from some form of mental illness, 70% have chronic physical illness. Research shows this is due to overwhelmingly exploitative defection experiences. – Zuo Shou

* Women face range of dangers en route to South Korea, then difficulty settling down here *
By Lee You-jin, staff reporter

Three out of every ten female North Korean defectors who arrived via a third country suffer from some form of depression, a study shows. The results also showed that the women suffered sexual abuse during their journey to South Korea.

The Ministry of Gender Equality and Family announced the findings of a study commissioned from the Yonsei University School of Social Welfare on Oct. 23 . The study, which focused on the development of customized programs to assist abused female defectors in gaining self-sufficiency, examined 140 women between March and August of this year.

37 respondents, or 26.4%, were found to be suffering from depression, while another 80 (57.6%), showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder.

Sixty-four (45.7%) said they had considered suicide, engaged in suicidal behavior, or attempted suicide in the past year.

Ninety-eight (70%) were found to be suffering from chronic ailments such as stomach disorders, arthritis, and neuralgia.

Analysts attributed the physical and psychological symptoms to the women’s experience with sexual abuse and/or severe trauma. In particular, thirty-eight women were found to have been subjected to sexual abuse with direct physical contact while in North Korea, South Korea, or a third country, accounting for 27.1% of all participants. Defectors were found to have been threatened into sexual acts by the owner of a refuge in China, subjected to severe sexual harassment during a physical search after being sent back to North Korea, coerced into sexual acts by South Korean detectives, and abused by male acquaintances.

Forty-two of the women, or 30%, were found to have been encouraged to prostitute themselves in South Korea.

Over half the women were found to be receiving basic livelihood subsidies because of poverty – seventy-one (50.7%) of all participants. Thirty-eight (27.1%) of them had not found employment as of the time of the study. Another 58 (41.4%) were employed in temporary or day labor, with just twelve (8.6%) holding full-time jobs.

The responses also pointed to problems with occupational training during settlement in South Korea. Forty-one of the respondents who received it (29.3%) said it did not help them in settling down in South Korea.

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“Another war prize” – Editorial on absurd award of Nobel Peace Prize to the EU [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, EU, European Union, France, Germany, Ireland, Libya, NATO, NATO invasion, Nobel Peace Prize, Police, Police brutality, South Africa, Vietnam, Yugoslavia - former FRY on October 28, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

October 22, 2012

It has always been problematic that the Nobel Peace Prize is awarded from the legacy of a Swedish industrialist whose millions came from munitions that made the late 19th and 20th century wars the most deadly in human history.

In 1973 the prize was awarded jointly to Vietnam War criminal Henry Kissinger and Vietnamese resistance leader Le Duc Tho. Tho turned it down.

The Nobel committee did it again in 1993, awarding the prize jointly to apartheid’s Frederik Willem de Klerk and the long-imprisoned African leader Nelson Mandela.

Now comes news that the Nobel committee has awarded the prize this year to, of all things, the European Union. The EU has come to be despised and hated not only by the 500 million people who live in the 27 nations that belong to the organization, but by additional millions who have been on the receiving end of the imperialism and militarism wielded by its most powerful capitalist states.

Panos Skourletis, spokesperson for Syriza, the main opposition party in Greece, spoke for the majority of opinion around the world: “I just cannot understand what the reasoning would be behind [the decision of the Nobel committee]. In many parts of Europe but especially in Greece, we are experiencing what really is a war situation on a daily basis, albeit a war that has not been formally declared. There is nothing peaceful about it.” (Guardian, Oct. 12)

The EU has been the driving force behind moves to rescue the giant European banks from the economic crisis of 2008 by forcing draconian austerity measures on the working masses of Europe. Member nations such as Ireland, which were reluctant to rescue their banks, were forced to accept high-interest “bailouts.” In other cases, the local national ruling classes have temporized, but ended up accepting the EU’s “help.”

This always came at a price: cuts in social programs, higher taxes on poor and working people, massive layoffs and wage cuts. Sovereign countries were forced to accept EU dictates. As a result, most of the smaller countries of Europe are mired in recession with no hope of recovery. The Nobel prize itself has been reduced to $1.2 million from $1.5 million. The Nobel Foundation has said its investment capital took a sharp hit in the 2008 financial crisis.

When the masses of people have protested, they have been met by parliamentary huckstering, and when that didn’t work, naked police repression was used. But it doesn’t stop there.

After the downfall of many of the socialist countries of Eastern Europe, the EU leaders pursued an aggressive economic imperialism in these now “free” countries. Where there had been stable planned economies, rampant unemployment, economic insecurity and the rise of criminal enterprises such as human trafficking accompanied the theft of state property on a monumental scale. Many formerly public enterprises were not only privatized, but ownership was transferred to large financial institutions located in the leading countries of the EU, such as Germany and France.

The European Union has always been considered to be the not so hidden stepchild of NATO — the military partnership between the U.S. and European capitalists whose crimes and interventions, many of them far from Europe, are well known. The dropping of tens of thousands of bombs on the former Yugoslavia, the brutal war against Libya, and the bloody invasion and occupation of Afghanistan are only a few examples.

Most recently, the EU has been an important source of war fever whipped up against Syria. Threats, intimidation and secret armed intervention have been accompanied by increasingly shrill calls for outright war.

Alfred Nobel’s munitions seem to have more influence than his “peace prize.”

Articles copyright 1995-2012 Workers World. Verbatim copying and distribution is permitted in any medium without royalty provided this notice is preserved.

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“The Nobel Peace Prize for War” by Michael Parenti []

Posted in Afghanistan, BBC bias, distortions and lies, EU, European Union, France, Germany, Iraq, Libya, Nobel Peace Prize, Norway, Yugoslavia - former FRY on October 27, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

18 October 2012


Those who own the wealth of nations take care to downplay the immensity of their holdings while emphasizing the supposedly benign features of the socio-economic order over which they preside. With its regiments of lawmakers and opinion-makers, the ruling hierarchs produce a never-ending cavalcade of symbols, images, and narratives to disguise and legitimate the system of exploitative social relations existing between the 1% and the 99%.

The Nobel Peace Prize would seem to play an incidental role in all this. Given the avalanche of system-sustaining class propaganda and ideological scenarios dished out to us, the Nobel Peace Prize remains just a prize. But a most prestigious one it is, enjoying a celebrated status in its anointment of already notable personages.

In October 2012, in all apparent seriousness, the Norwegian Nobel Committee (appointed by the Norwegian Parliament) bestowed the Nobel Peace Prize upon the European Union (EU). Let me say that again: the European Union with its 28 member states and 500 million inhabitants was awarded for having “contributed to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy, and human rights in Europe.” (Norway itself is not a member of the EU. The Norwegians had the good sense to vote against joining.)

Alfred Nobel’s will (1895) explicitly states that the peace prize should go “to the person who shall have done the most or the best work for fraternity between nations, for the abolition or reduction of standing armies and for the holding and promotion of peace congresses.” The EU is not a person and has not worked for the abolition or reduction of standing armies or promotion of any kind of peace agenda. If the EU award looked a bit awkward, the BBC and other mainstream news media came to the rescue, referring to the “six decades of peace” and “sixty years without war” that the EU supposedly has achieved. The following day, somebody at the BBC did the numbers and started proclaiming that the EU had brought “seventy years of peace on the European continent.” What could these wise pundits possibly be thinking? Originally called the European Economic Community and formed in 1958, the European Union was established under its current name in 1993, about twenty years ago.

The Nobel Committee, the EU recipients, and the western media all overlooked the 1999 full-scale air war launched on the European continent against Yugoslavia, a socialist democracy that for the most part had offered a good life to people of various Slavic nationalities—as many of them still testify today.

The EU did not oppose that aggression. In fact, a number of EU member states, including Germany and France, joined in the 1999 war on European soil led largely by the United States. For 78 days, U.S. and other NATO forces bombed Yugoslavian factories, utilities, power stations, rail systems, bridges, hotels, apartment buildings, schools and hospitals, killing thousands of civilians, all in the name of a humanitarian rescue operation, all fueled by unsubstantiated stories of Serbian “genocide.” All this warfare took place on European soil.

Yugoslavia was shattered, along with its uniquely designed participatory democracy with its self-management and social ownership system. In its place emerged a cluster of right-wing mini-republics wherein everything has been privatized and deregulated, and poverty has replaced amplitude. Meanwhile rich western corporations are doing quite well in what was once Yugoslavia.

Europe aside, EU member states have sent troops to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, and additional locales in Africa, the Middle East, and Central Asia, usually under the tutorship of the U.S. war machine.

But what was I to expect? For years I ironically asserted that the best way to win a Nobel Peace Prize was to wage war or support those who wage war instead of peace. An overstatement perhaps, but take a look…

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Hypocrisy And The Shooting of Malala Yousafzai [The Ugly Truth blog]

Posted in Afghanistan, Capitalist media double standard, Genocide, Iraq, Pakistan, Sanctions as weapon of war, U.K., US drone strikes, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism on October 25, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

I couldn’t help but be struck by the distorted coverage of this story by the Anglosphere. The very same countries who mercilessly wipe out countless innocent women and children globally, in both Pakistan and numerous other countries such as Afghanistan, currently suffering under NATO occupation, suddenly care so much when a teen female is shot by alleged Taliban and she’s whisked her away to a UK hospital. Compare her singular case with the usual MO for CIA drone bombings (which statistically destroy an overwhelming majority of innocents) — usually a secondary missile strike on the rescuers. Even the Taliban can’t match that level of depravity. The reportage on poor Malala is the sheerest propaganda… – Zuo Shou

October 14, 2012
By Shaik Zakeer Hussain

The shooting of 14 year old Malala Yousafzai has shocked the world, and shocking it should be, as children don’t deserve such ruthlessness.

What Malala stood for, and what she was fighting against, is not my concern at the moment, for such concerns, whether right or wrong, have already been addressed by a large number of so-called advocates for Human rights and justice. I am not even concerned in knowing who actually tried to kill her, for I as a Muslim do not condone such an act. What I am really concerned about is the hypocritical stance taken by some of the voices who are standing up for Malala today.

Two days after the activist girl was shot, American singer Madonna, dedicated a song for her, and said, “This made me cry. The 14-year-old schoolgirl who wrote a blog about going to school. The Taliban stopped her bus and shot her. Do you realise how sick that is?” Now whether Taliban is responsible for this act or not, I am not sure, but why doesn’t Madonna cry when drone attacks launched by her country kill hundreds of innocent men, women and children every day in Pakistan, Afghanistan and Yemen? The children killed here, also wanted to go to schools, they wanted to live too. Doesn’t she realises how sick that is?

UNICEF tweeted on October 11 that, “Today our thoughts are with Malala Yousafzai, the inspirational 14-year-old activist for girls’ rights.” What made this organisation for children rights remain mum, when 16 year old Abdul-Rahman al-Awlaki , the innocent son of Imam Anwar al-Awlaki, was killed by the United States, when he was having barbecue with his cousin and friends?

What moral rights do countries like UK, USA, and their warmongering allies have, to condemn this shooting, when their hands are coloured with the blood of hundreds of thousands of innocent people in Iraq?

More than half a million children died due to U.S. sanctions against Iraq in the 1990s, and continue to do so till today. When asked whether these killings were worth the price, the then U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, said ’We think the price is worth it’. And the result? Ms. Albright got the Honorary Chair for the World Justice Project for this audacity of her’s, and her victims got [Depleted Uranium munitions’] Contamination, and Birth Defects as lullabies to go to sleep.

The question we should all be asking is does the blood of children become worthless, when the super-power of the world does it, and is sacred when its adversaries allegedly do it? I don’t think so.

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Japan’s wishful thinking and America’s evil intentions [People’s Daily]

Posted in China, Diaoyu Islands, Obama, Sino-Japanese Friendship, US imperialism, USA on October 25, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

(People’s Daily Online)

October 18, 2012

During the talks with U.S. Deputy Secretary of State William Burns in Tokyo on Sept. 15, Japanese Foreign Minister Koichiro Genba said, “We believe that Japan and the United States should work tougher [sic] to deal with China and North Korea,” Japanese newspaper Sankei Shimbun cited Genba as saying.

Genba’s remarks revealed his intention of relying on the United States to contain China. U.S. backing has long been a part of Japan’s China policy, and encouraged Japan to take a tough stance on the Diaoyu Islands issue . Koichi Kato, head of the Japan-China Friendship Association, said that the United States has made the issue ambiguous.

The United States does not want the Diaoyu Islands issue to spin out of control because it does not serve its strategic interests. Therefore, it has said that it has no intention of and is not playing a mediating role in the territorial dispute between China and Japan, and that Japan should act carefully, prudently, and effectively.

Genba’s words and deeds show Japanese political circles’ anxiety, upset, and lack of confidence. It is pure wishful thinking of Japan to take advantage of the United States to contain China.

A moderately tense situation in East Asia best serves U.S. strategic interests. In such a situation, the United States is able to continue to manipulate its allies and maintain its dominance in Asia.

The United States turned a blind eye to and even showed support for Japan’s provoking of the Diaoyu Islands dispute. When the dispute reached deadlock, the United States and Japan conducted a joint military drill to simulate island retaking. In addition, the U.S. State Department adopted Japan’s way to call the islands “Senkaku Islands”.

It is obvious that the United States has been partial toward Japan in terms of the dispute. Does the United States really care about East Asia’s security or harbor evil intentions?

It is certain that the United States has benefited from the dispute. For example, it was finally allowed to deploy advanced radars and Osprey aircraft on Japanese soil. Furthermore, Japan plans to buy the Global Hawk unmanned aircraft from the United States to monitor the Chinese navy.

Read the Chinese version: “幼稚病”和“假正经”; [link via original article] Source: Jiefang Daily; Author: Zhang Quan

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