Archive for the EU Category

Human Rights Watch report documents attack on democratic rights in US and Europe [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Africa, Anti-Islam hysteria, Egypt, EU, European Union, Fascism, France, Greece, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Islamophobia, National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, Obama, Police, Police brutality, Police State, Roma people, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Turkey, US imperialism, USA, Yemen on February 4, 2016 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Tom Hall
1 February 2016

Last week, US-based watchdog group Human Rights Watch warned of mounting attacks on democratic rights throughout Europe and North America, which governments have justified as a response to the migrant crisis.

The group’s annual report warned that the arrival of refugees fleeing war and repression in the Middle East is “driving many Western governments to roll back human rights protections,” adding, “these backward steps threaten the rights of all” sections of the population, not just refugees.

In the report’s lead essay, Human Rights Watch Executive Director Kenneth Roth notes, “In Europe and the United States, a polarizing us-versus-them rhetoric has moved from the political fringe to the mainstream. Blatant Islamophobia and shameless demonizing of refugees have become the currency of an increasingly assertive politics of intolerance.”

“Public discourse,” Roth continues, “has been filled with voices of hatred and fear of Muslims, for whom the refugees [arriving in Europe] are surrogates.” This climate contributes to “the persistent discrimination, hopelessness, and despair that pervade neighborhoods on the outskirts of some European cities.”

2015 saw a dramatic rollback of democratic rights throughout Europe and America. In France, the Hollande government pushed through sweeping expansions of government surveillance and curtailing freedom of speech, seizing upon the attacks in Paris this November and the Charlie Hebdo attacks at the beginning of the year. In the United States, the military was deployed to Baltimore to crack down on peaceful protests against police brutality at the beginning of the year, while mass government spying continued unimpeded.

The report contains comprehensive summaries for more than 90 countries for the year of 2015. By far the largest single section, with 24 pages, is on the European Union, more than Saudi Arabia, whose absolute monarchy beheaded record numbers of people last year, including many political prisoners, and countries currently embroiled in civil wars such as Syria and Libya. The United States came in second place, with 17 pages…

…Previous agreements by European governments to resettle asylum seekers throughout the continent remain a dead letter as countries throughout Europe close off their borders to refugees. Only 159 asylum seekers have been relocated from Italy and Greece in spite of an agreement last year to resettle 160,000 asylum seekers from these countries.

Attacks on Muslims rose sharply last year, as far-right and neo-Nazi groups are emboldened by the discriminatory policies of European governments. Such attacks have grown by 46.7 percent in London in the first half of 2015. However, racist attacks are by no means limited solely to Muslims; reports of anti-Semitic attacks are also on the rise, and discriminatory evictions of Roma by governments throughout the EU continue. Widespread discrimination also exists in the Baltic countries against native Russian speakers.

As Roth notes, Europe is joined in its persecution of refugees by the United States. Last year 30 US governors tried to prevent Syrian refugees from entering their states, while current Republican front-runner Donald Trump floated the idea of banning Muslims from entering the country altogether. The United States, the report declares, also “continued the dramatic expansion of detention of migrant mothers and their children from Central America,” many fleeing violence in their home countries, over the course of last year. While not mentioned in the report, the Obama administration rang in the new year last month with a new round of targeted deportations of Central American children.

The report also notes with concern the continued drive to expand state repression and surveillance in the United States and Europe, justified in the main by the supposed threat of terrorism…

…In the United States, spy agency leaders seized upon the Paris attacks last year to renew their calls for a “back door” to online encryption, despite the fact that the Paris attackers did not encrypt their communications. Meanwhile, Guantanamo Bay’s detention center remains open despite years of empty promises by Obama to close it. And last year’s National Defense Authorization Act, signed into law by Obama, “tightened existing restrictions on the transfer of detainees out of Guantanamo,” making the release or transfer of detainees even more difficult.

Many of the worst human rights violations elsewhere in the report were committed by allies of the United States or the European imperialist powers. In discussing the Saudi-led invasion of Yemen, for example, in which civilian infrastructure has been deliberately targeted, the report argues that by virtue of providing “intelligence, logistical support and personnel” to the Saudis the United States would be “potentially jointly responsible for laws-of-war violations by coalition forces.” The report also cites continuing US aid to Egyptian dictator Abdel Fattah al-Sisi as well as the Obama administration’s waiving of provisions of the Child Soldier Prevention Act to continue supporting the militaries of several African countries.

World imperialism has justified countless criminal wars over the past quarter century under the fraudulent pretext of “humanitarian interventionism.” Now, a leading human rights group is compelled to admit that these same powers are responsible for major human rights violations within their own borders. This not only exposes imperialism’s professed concern for “human rights” as a fraud, it is also an indication of the growth of police-state forms of rule within these countries…

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2016/02/01/hrw-f01.html

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Casualties mount in U.S. proxy war in Yemen [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Bahrain, Bourgeois parliamentary democracy, CIA, Egypt, EU, European Union, Genocide, Iran, Iraq, Libya, Obama, Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, Syria, US "War on Terror", US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, Yemen on April 17, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Abayomi Azikiwe posted on April 12, 2015

Despite daily airstrikes by Saudi Arabia since March 26, the Ansurallah (Houthis) fighters seized the presidential palace in the southern city of Aden the following week.

Subsequent reports claim that the Houthis occupying the palace were forced to retreat by military forces still loyal to ousted leader President Abdrabbuh Mansour Hadi. Saudi bombing of the area and air drops to Hadi loyalists are designed to halt the advances and consolidation of power by the Shiite Islam movement that is supported politically by Iran.

Casualty figures have increased as fighter jets deployed by Riyadh pound residential sections of cities and villages throughout the Middle Eastern state. Officials from the International Committee of the Red Cross say that the humanitarian situation is worsening daily; they describe horrendous conditions on the ground. Civilian residents are fleeing for shelter, further aggravating the overall social and economic crisis in the country.

Contested neighborhoods and commercial areas in Aden are littered with corpses, while the wounded flood into hospitals and clinics. Yemeni officials estimate that at least 185 people have been killed in Aden, while some 1,282 are wounded. Hospitals there have counted the figures of noncombatants since March 26, says al-Kheder Lassouar, Aden’s health department director. (BBC, April 5) Not counted are Houthis and loyalist forces who are also victims of aerial bombardments and gunshot injuries.

According to the BBC, casualties are much higher in various regions of the country. Clashes across Yemen have led to more than 500 deaths and some 1,700 injured since March 26, said United Nations humanitarian administrator Valerie Amos…

…In addition to the struggle between the Houthis and Hadi supporters, Al-Qaeda of the Arabian Peninsula and the Islamic State have reportedly entered the fray, seeking to carve out territory for further expansion.

* U.S. imperialism’s strategy in the region *

The Obama administration has said little about the current situation in Yemen. One hundred Special Forces along with diplomatic personnel were evacuated weeks ago.

Yemen was championed as a so-called “counter-terrorism success story” just months ago. Pentagon and CIA-backed airstrikes and drone attacks have killed many targeted Islamic leaders and civilians, who have been in the vicinity of Washington-ordered aerial assaults.

President Hadi’s ascendancy to power was the result of Washington’s direct intervention in 2011 and 2012, which sought to manage the transition from Ali Abdullah Saleh’s rule. Nonetheless, in today’s struggle, forces allied with Saleh have joined the Houthis in opposition to the Saudi air strikes and interference in Yemen’s internal affairs.

The U.S. military has its hands full in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan where wars of regime change and purported “democracy building” have gone awry. In 2011, the Obama administration initiated the destabilization and massive bombing of Libya, displacing Col. Muammar Gadhafi’s Jamahiriya political system, destroying national institutions, and causing dislocation and economic decline there.

Corporate media report that counterattacks by forces loyal to the Saudi-backed, ousted Hadi regime were bolstered by arms drops from Riyadh. They structure the struggle in Yemen as a proxy war with Saudi forces on Hadi’s side battling Iranian influence.

In fact, Washington is using its regional pro-Western allies to carry out bombings intended to bolster U.S. corporate, financial and strategic interests in the region.

Moreover, most of the weapons, including fighter aircraft utilized by Saudi Arabia and the Gulf Cooperation Council, made up of reactionary oil-rich monarchies, come from the U.S. and EU member states. The political independence exerted by Yemen’s Houthi movement is a concern of Washington and Wall Street, given their overall aim is to secure and expand U.S. interests on behalf of the super-rich.

Yemen is the poorest country in the Arabian Peninsula, but it borders wealthier oil-rich Persian Gulf states. The waterways surrounding Yemen, including the Red Sea and the Gulf of Aden, have strategic significance for U.S. imperialism regarding commercial shipping as well as military dominance.

* ‘Humanitarian’ interventions debunked *

Developments in Yemen, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Syria and Libya illustrate clearly that there is no such thing as a “humanitarian” imperialist intervention. Conditions in all these states have worsened as a result of the so-called “war on terrorism” and disingenuous efforts to “build demo­cracies” in Africa and the Middle East.

Although majority-Democratic Party congresses elected in 2006 and 2008 and the Obama administration were sent to Washington with a mandate to end wars of aggression and work toward a sustainable economic revitalization in the U.S., they have failed to do so.

This starkly reveals the imperialist character of both dominant parties. Consequently, in the 2010, 2012 and 2014 elections, the Democratic Party’s electoral base among the working class and nationally oppressed expressed their opposition to these failed promises by staying away from the polls, with the exception of the re-election of Obama in 2012.

The peoples of the Middle East and Africa must rebuild their societies and national and regional institutions independent of imperialism. So, too, the working class and the oppressed inside the U.S. have no alternative other than to break with the Democrats and construct an independent movement, based on their political and class interests.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/04/12/casualties-mount-in-u-s-proxy-war-in-yemen/

“US faces another debacle on Pacific economic treaty” – TPP, fake free trade pact, in trouble [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-China propaganda exposure, Australia, Canada, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Chile, China, China-bashing, Economic crisis & decline, Economy, Encirclement of China, EU, European Union, Germany, Japan, Malaysia, Media cover-up, Mexico, New Zealand, Obama, Peru, Protectionist Trade War with China, Singapore, south Korea, U.K., US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, Vietnam on April 5, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Mike Head
4 April 2015

Having suffered a decisive defeat in its efforts to block other countries from joining the new China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB), the US government faces mounting difficulties with regard to its most far-reaching move to dominate the Asia-Pacific region: the so-called Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP).

In Hawaii last month, the latest round of five-year-long TPP talks between the 12 governments involved broke up without any further agreement. For the third year in a row, the White House’s deadline for a final deal looks set to be breached in 2015.

Significantly, the main stumbling block this time was reportedly not ongoing differences between the US and Japan over auto and agricultural markets, but doubts over President Barack Obama’s capacity to get congressional approval for the pact.

Falsely presented as a “free trade” deal, the TPP is the opposite. It is aimed at creating a vast US-controlled economic bloc. In return for favoured access to the US market, which is still the largest in the world, the TPP requires its members to scrap all legal, regulatory and government impediments to American investment and corporate operations.

The TPP is an essential component of Washington’s military and strategic “pivot” to Asia, aimed at establishing unchallenged hegemony over the region, including China, which has thus far been excluded from the treaty. The “partnership” seeks to restructure every aspect of economic and social life across the Asia-Pacific in the interests of Wall Street finance capital and the largest US corporations, particularly the IT, pharmaceutical and media conglomerates.

A similar drive is underway to incorporate the European Union into a Transatlantic Trade and I nvestment Partnership (TTIP) bloc. Like the TPP, the European treaty is being negotiated behind the backs of the international working class amid tight secrecy, with hundreds of the world’s largest corporations taking part.

Obama has resorted to blatant anti-Chinese rhetoric in a bid to overcome opposition to aspects of the TPP from sections of the Democratic and Republican congressional leaderships. In one recent interview, the US president declared: “If we don’t write the rules out there, China’s going to write the rules and the geopolitical implications of China writing the rules for trade almost inevitably means that we will be cut out or we will be deeply disadvantaged. Our businesses will be disadvantaged, our workers will be disadvantaged.”

Washington is concerned that other imperialist powers, such as Germany, Britain and Japan, could strengthen their positions in China at the expense of the US unless America “writes the rules” for world trade in the 21st century.

Global financial commentators are drawing attention to what is at stake. Under the headline, “Round two in America’s battle for Asian influence,” David Pilling wrote in the London-based Financial Times on April 1: “Washington’s attempt to lead a boycott of the China-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank ended in farce after Britain broke ranks and other nations from Germany to South Korea fell over themselves to join. If round one was a defeat for America, round two hangs in the balance.”

Pilling noted that the TPP’s exclusion of China, on the grounds that its economy was state-owned and centrally planned, was obviously concocted. “In a peculiar display of diplomatic contortion,” he wrote, “Vietnam — a country whose economy is as centrally planned and as rigged [sic] as the best of them — is somehow considered fit for entry.”

The Financial Times Asia editor pointedly added that the TPP was “just as likely to annoy America’s allies in the region as reassure them” because of its intrusive demands, which include the dismantling of state-owned enterprises, tendering restrictions, financial regulations, data protection rules and intellectual property laws.

Washington’s aggressive drive to establish the TPP and TTIP economic blocs marks a reversal of its post-World War II role, when the ascendancy of American industry permitted it to champion the reconstruction of its Japanese and European rivals, albeit always for its own benefit, including via the expansion of markets for its exports.

Today, amid the ongoing decline of US industry, its ruling elite depends increasingly on the parasitic activities of Wall Street, the exploitation of patents by Silicon Valley, Hollywood and the drug companies, and contracts for the supply of military hardware. These rapacious interests will most directly benefit from the TPP.

Many details remain secret, but pro-TPP lobbying efforts highlight the anticipated profit bonanzas. Mireya Solis of the Brookings Institution think tank stressed advantages such as “internationalisation of financial services, protection of intellectual property and governance of the Internet economy.”

US technology firms would benefit from a ban on requiring companies to house customers’ data within a specific country. “If we’re going to serve the customer of Malaysia from, say, a data center in Singapore, the data has to be able to move back and forth between those two countries,” Brad Smith, Microsoft general counsel, told the Wall Street Journal.

Central to the treaty are punitive Investor-State Dispute Settlements (ISDS) clauses, which permit transnationals to sue governments for losses allegedly caused by official policy decisions. WikiLeaks last month published a chapter of the TPP treaty showing that firms could bypass a country’s courts to obtain damages for changes in “environmental, health or other regulatory objectives.”

Apart from the US and Japan — the two biggest partners by far — the other TPP participants are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam.

The willingness of many of these countries to make the required concessions to the US has been undermined by Obama’s failure to secure support for a Trade Promotion Authority (TPA) bill so that he can sign the TPP and then have it ratified by Congress with a single “yes” or “no” vote. Without TPA, Congress could force amendments to the negotiated pact, effectively rendering the agreement void.

According to a Japan Times report: “Several negotiating partners, including Canada and Japan, have publicly stated they will not put their final negotiating positions on the table until Congress grants TPA for the Obama administration. With a presidential election looming in the United States, further delay creates a real risk of TPP being delayed until 2017.”

Much of the US congressional resistance is bound up with protectionist lobbies, based on national-based industries and their trade unions. In response, the Obama administration is ramping up a campaign that explicitly spells out the expected benefits to corporate America.

On March 30, the White House published letters from former senior economic officials, including 10 ex-commerce secretaries representing every administration, Democratic and Republican, since 1973, urging congressional leaders to give Obama TPA authority.

The commerce secretaries stated: “Once completed, the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) and the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) will give the United States free trade arrangements with 65 percent of global GDP and give our businesses preferential access to a large base of new potential customers.”

This demand for “preferential access” by US imperialism threatens to break up the world economy into the kind of rival blocs that preceded World War I and World War II.

Edited by Zuo Shou

Article link: http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/04/04/tppo-a04.html

Croatia Elects Former NATO Official President [Strategic Culture Foundation]

Posted in Albania, Anti-communism, CIA, Croatia, EU, European Union, Georgia, Germany, NATO, Nazism, Poland, Ukraine, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR, Yugoslavia - former FRY on February 11, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

2015/1/15

by Wayne Madsen

Croatia has become the latest European nation to propel a confirmed Atlanticist and former resident of the United States into high political office. Conservative politician and former NATO assistant secretary general for public diplomacy Kolinda Grabar-Kitarovic defeated incumbent center-left president Ivo Josipovic by a…razor-thin vote. In the case of Croatia’s second-round, the vote was 50.54 percent for Grabar-Kitarovic to 49.46 percent for Josipovic…

Grabar-Kitarovic’s majority was enabled by receiving the required 21,000-vote majority from Croatians living abroad. Grabar-Kitarovic lived as a graduate student in Washington, DC and Boston and soon became Croatian ambassador in Washington and the chief propaganda assistant to NATO’s neoconservative Secretary General, Anders Fogh Rasmussen, the former Danish prime minister.

As an international exchange student, Grabar-Kitarovic graduated in 1986 from Los Alamos High School in New Mexico, the home to the Los Alamos National Laboratories, where U.S. intelligence and military agencies develop the latest nuclear weaponry and other warfare technology…

…Grabar-Kitarovic’s political science master’s thesis at the University of Zagreb in Croatia was titled «American-Soviet Relations during the Reagan Administration and the End of the Cold War», which is very reminiscent of the Cold War academic pursuits of former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice’s PhD dissertation dealt with the Czechoslovak Army and the Communist Party. Her book, which was based on her dissertation, was titled, «The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army, 1948-1983: Uncertain Allegiance». During her PhD studies at the University of Denver, Rice was taken under the wing of Dr. Josef Korbel, the father of former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, whose god-daughter, Susan Rice is Barack Obama’s national security adviser. Korbel, Albright, the two Rices, and Grabar-Kitarovic represent a post-World War II U.S. intelligence operation to groom the next generation of Cold Warriors and seed U.S. citizens and residents of Eastern and Central European descent into the top echelons of government from Estonia to the Republic of Georgia.

Croatia, along with Albania, were the last two countries to join NATO. Croatia joined the Western military bloc in 2009.

Grabar-Kitarovic is a member of the Croatian Democratic Union (HDZ), the neo-fascist oriented party of the late Croatian president Franjo Tudjman. She served as foreign minister of Croatia from 2005 to 2008 and was instrumental in pushing for Croatia’s joining the European Union in both that position as European Integration Minister from 2003 to 2005. Croatia joined the EU in 2013. EU membership brought Croatia the fourth-highest unemployment rate in Europe and a 50 percent jobless rate of Croatians under the age of 25. These statistics, which should have hurt the pro-EU Grabar-Kitarovic’s razor-thin victory in the presidential election even more suspicious and dubious.

Grabar-Kitarovic was a resident Fulbright scholar at George Washington University in Washington, DC where she specialized in international relations. Fulbright scholarship programs are used by the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency to recruit foreign students with future political potential into the ranks of the intelligence agency’s vast network of assets and agents.

Eastern and Central European governments teem with such American agents of influence and intelligence assets…[examples follow, see original article]

…Grabar-Kitarovic is just the latest American agent-of-influence to lead a NATO country in Eastern/Central Europe. Placing American puppets in governance of supposedly-independent nations is reminiscent of Nazi Germany’s and Fascist Italy’s appointment of puppet leaders and administrators in some of the same nations where U.S. lackeys now rule. Today, hardly a soul recalls the names of these puppet entities: the Lokot Autonomy, the Principality of the Pindus, and the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia. Grabar-Kitarovic is the ideological heir of the puppet Nazi State of Croatia, which was led by the fascist Ustashe movement, from which Grabar-Kitarovic’s HDZ party receives so much of its inspiration.

Excerpted by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2015/01/15/croatia-elects-former-nato-official-president.html

‘Cold War Two’ – excerpt from “The Anti-Empire Report” # 131 [Williamblum.org]

Posted in 9/11, Anti-communism, Assassination, Black propaganda, Corporate Media Critique, EU, European Union, Fascism, Germany, IMF - International Monetary Fund, Iraq, Malaysia, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, Nazism, Psychological warfare, Russia, State Department, Syria, Ukraine, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War, USSR, Vietnam on November 4, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By William Blum – Published August 11th, 2014

= Cold War Two =

During Cold War One those of us in the American radical left were often placed in the position where we had to defend the Soviet Union because the US government was using that country as a battering ram against us. Now we sometimes have to defend Russia because it may be the last best hope of stopping TETATW (The Empire That Ate The World). Yes, during Cold War One we knew enough about Stalin, the show trials, and the gulags. But we also knew about US foreign policy.

E-mail sent to the Washington Post July 23, 2014 about the destruction of Malaysian Airlines Flight 17:

Dear Editor,

Your July 22 editorial was headed: “Russia’s barbarism. The West needs a strategy to contain the world’s newest rogue state.”

Pretty strong language. Vicious, even. Not one word of hard evidence in the editorial to back it up. Then, the next day, the Associated Press reported:

Senior U.S. intelligence officials said Tuesday that Russia was responsible for ‘creating the conditions’ that led to the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17, but they offered no evidence of direct Russian government involvement. … the U.S. had no direct evidence that the missile used to shoot down the passenger jet came from Russia.

Where were these words in the Post? You people are behaving like a rogue newspaper.

– William Blum

I don’t have to tell you whether the Post printed my letter. I’ve been reading the paper for 25 years – six years during Vietnam (1964-1970) and the last 19 years (1995-2014) – usually spending about three hours each day reading it very carefully. And I can say that when it comes to US foreign policy the newspaper is worse now than I can remember it ever was during those 25 years. It’s reached the point where, as one example, I don’t take at face value a word the Post has to say about Ukraine. Same with the State Department, which makes one accusation after another about Russian military actions in Eastern Ukraine without presenting any kind of satellite imagery or other visual or documentary evidence; or they present something that’s wholly inconclusive and/or unsourced or citing “social media”; what we’re left with is often no more than just an accusation. 1 Do they have something to hide?

The State Department’s Public Affairs spokespersons making these presentations exhibit little regard or respect for the reporters asking challenging questions. It takes my thoughts back to the Vietnam era and Arthur Sylvester, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs, the man most responsible for “giving, controlling and managing the war news from Vietnam”. One day in July 1965, Sylvester told American journalists that they had a patriotic duty to disseminate only information that made the United States look good. When one of the reporters exclaimed: “Surely, Arthur, you don’t expect the American press to be handmaidens of government,” Sylvester replied: “That’s exactly what I expect,” adding: “Look, if you think any American official is going to tell you the truth, then you’re stupid. Did you hear that? – stupid.” 2

Such frankness might be welcomed today as a breath of fresh air compared to the painful-to-observe double-talk of a State Department spokesperson.

My personal breath of fresh air in recent years has been the television station RT (formerly Russia Today). On a daily basis many progressives from around the world (myself included occasionally) are interviewed and out of their mouths come facts and analyses that are rarely heard on CNN, NBC, ABC, CBS, NPR, PBS, Fox News, BBC, etc. The words of these progressives heard on RT are typically labeled by the mainstream media as “Russian propaganda”, whereas I, after a long lifetime of American propaganda, can only think: “Of course. What else are they going to call it?”

As for Russia being responsible for “creating the conditions” that led to the shooting down of Flight 17, we should keep in mind that the current series of events in Ukraine was sparked in February when a US-supported coup overthrew the democratically-elected government and replaced it with one that was more receptive to the market-fundamentalism dictates of the World Bank, International Monetary Fund, and the European Union. Were it not for the coup there would have been no eastern rebellion to put down and no dangerous war zone for Flight 17 to be flying over in the first place.

The new regime has had another charming feature: a number of outspoken neo-Nazis in high and low positions, a circumstance embarrassing enough for the US government and mainstream media to turn it into a virtual non-event. US Senator John McCain met and posed for photos with the leader of the neo-Nazi Svoboda Party, Oleh Tyahnybok (photos easily found on the Internet). Ukraine – whose ties to Naziism go back to World War Two when their homegrown fascists supported Germany and opposed the Soviet Union – is on track to becoming the newest part of the US-NATO military encirclement of Russia and possibly the home of the region’s newest missile base, target Moscow.

It is indeed possible that Flight 17 was shot down by the pro-Russian rebels in Eastern Ukraine in the mistaken belief that it was the Ukrainian air force returning to carry out another attack. But other explanations are suggested in a series of questions posed by Russia to the the Secretary-General of the UN General Assembly, accompanied by radar information, satellite images, and other technical displays:

“Why was a military aircraft flying in a civil aviation airway at almost the same time and the same altitude as a civilian passenger aircraft? We would like to have this question answered.”

“Earlier, Ukrainian officials stated that on the day of the accident no Ukrainian military aircraft were flying in that area. As you can see, that is not true.”

“We also have a question for our American colleagues. According to a statement by American officials, the United States has satellite images which show that the missile aimed at the Malaysian aircraft was launched by the militants. But no one has seen these images.” 3

There is also this intriguing speculation, which ties in to the first Russian question above. A published analysis by a retired Lufthansa pilot points out that Flight 17 looked similar in its tricolor design to that of Russian President Putin’s plane, whose plane with him on board was at the same time “near” Flight 17. In aviation circles “near” would be considered to be anywhere between 150 to 200 miles. 4 Could Putin’s plane have been the real target?

There is as well other serious and plausible questioning of the official story of Russia and/or Ukrainian anti-Kiev militias being responsible for the shootdown. Is Flight 17 going to become the next JFK Assassination, PanAm 103, or 9-11 conspiracy theory that lingers forever? Will the Iraqi weapons of mass destruction and the Syrian chemical weapons be joined by the Russian anti-aircraft missile? Stay tuned…

Excerpted; full article link (with footnotes): http://williamblum.org/aer/read/131

“Japan Hits the Skids” – Retail Sales Apocalypse leaves Abenomics in Tatters [Counterpunch]

Posted in Australia, Canada, Capitalism crisis early 21st century, Corporate Media Critique, EU, European Union, Japan, USA on June 13, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by MIKE WHITNEY

June 1, 2014

Plunging retail sales and rising inflation have rocked Japan’s anemic economy and cast doubt on the future of Abenomics. While the US Commerce Department announced that first-quarter growth in the United States had slipped into negative territory for the first time since 2011 (-0.1 percent), the news from Tokyo was even grimmer. Following a tax hike that began on April 1, retail sales have collapsed sabotaging far-right prime minister Shinzo Abe’s hope for a strong recovery and steering the economy towards another slump. According to Bloomberg News:

“Japan’s retail sales dropped at the fastest pace in at least 14 years… Sales in April declined 13.7% from the previous month, the trade ministry reported today… The drop-off follows a consumer splurge ahead of the April 1 tax increase, and highlights the task Prime Minister Shinzo Abe faces in steering the nation through a forecast contraction this quarter… The economy is forecast to shrink an annualized 3.4% this quarter.” (Bloomberg)

Economists around the world had cautioned Abe not to raise the consumption tax while the economy was still weak and wages were trending lower. But the urge to shrug more of the costs of government onto working people was too hard to resist. Abe pushed the tax hike through parliament, paving the way for yesterday’s retail meltdown. Check this out from Zero Hedge:

“Following last night’s record plunge in Japanese retail sales… Household Spending cratered 4.6% YoY – its biggest drop since the Tsunami… Industrial Production tumbled 2.5% MoM – also the biggest drop since the Tsunami (topped off by a) surge in Japanese CPI.” (Zero Hedge)

So while retail sales are dropping like a stone and wages continue to stagnate, inflation has suddenly burst onto the scene pushing up food and energy costs and increasing the hardship on Japan’s dwindling workforce. (inflation in April soared 3.4 percent on all items from a year earlier, while goods prices are up 5.2 percent) With debts and deficits piling up at an unprecedented pace and the economy slowing to a crawl, Abenomics is looking like an unmitigated catastrophe.

Abe’s retail bloodbath is the result of a class-based economic policy that attempts to shift more of the nation’s wealth to fatcat stock speculators, corporations and establishment elites while the working people shoulder more of the costs of funding the government. Behind the public relations hype about “fighting deflation”, Abenomics so-called “structural reforms” are nothing more than a full-on attack on the meager incomes of Japan’s working people, 37 percent of whom are limited to part-time work with no benefits, retirement, health care or security. For these people–who number in the millions–life has only gotten harder under Abe.

At the same time, corporate bosses and the IMF are encouraging Abe to implement unpopular economic reforms quickly before the economy slides back into recession. The anti-worker “third arrow” of Abenomics will further undermine job security and working conditions while cutting corporate taxes. According to the Japan Times, “The Cabinet is likely to approve this year’s growth strategy on June 27″ which will involve “corporate tax cuts…reforming public funding, utilizing foreign labor, promoting entrepreneurship and more women in the workforce, and revitalizing local economies.” In other words, tax breaks for big business, slashing public spending, more cheap foreign labor, tax incentives for startups, and “special strategic zones” where worker safety and other regulations are jettisoned so corporate kingpins can rake in more dough. Abe’s third arrow is a wish list for voracious CEOs and carpetbagging business tycoons whose only objective is to extract more wealth from the sweat of working people.

Abenomics has been particularly destructive for those living beneath the poverty line, Japan’s down-and-outs. Besides raising the national sales tax, Abe has cut welfare benefits to shore up the governments flagging finances. The policy has triggered a sharp uptick in the number of working poor. According to the Japan Times, “the number of part-time, temporary and other non-regular workers who typically make less than half the average pay has jumped 70 percent from 1997 to 19.7 million today — 38 percent of the labor force.” This is the crux of the problem that you will not read about in the business-friendly, pro-corporate dissembling media, that is, that Japan’s economy suffers from chronic lack of demand due to falling incomes, shitty wages and system that favors the upward distribution of wealth. All of these have gotten worse under the exploitative leadership of Shifty Shinzo, Japan’s all-time worst PM.

Naturally, the perennial squeeze on workers is having an impact on consumer spending and industrial output. Check this out from Reuters:

“Japan’s household spending in April fell at the fastest rate in three years in a sign that consumption could be slow to recover from an increase in the nationwide sales tax, raising questions over the pace of economic recovery.

Industrial production fell more than expected in April as companies cut output to avoid a pile up in inventories in the lull after the sales tax hike took effect…Industrial output fell 2.5 percent in April, more than a median market forecast of a 2.0 percent fall.” (Reuters)

To summarize: Industrial production, down. Manufacturing, Down. Wages, Down. Profits for Japan’s biggest and greediest corporations, Up, Up, Up!

Also, higher inflation coupled with droopy wages (wages dropped 0.1 percent year-over-year) have pushed consumer confidence to its lowest level since 2011. Recent data show that consumer confidence plunged to 37.5 percent, the worst since the right-wing Abe took office. Additionally, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is about to drive the so called misery index, “which adds the jobless rate to the level of inflation, to its highest level since June 1981 when Japan was emerging from depression after the oil shocks of the 1970s.” (Bloomberg)

So while the media bimbos and their corporate taskmasters continue to applaud Abe’s willingness to destroy the economy and crush working people in the name of all-out class warfare, the results have been less than spectacular. In fact, the Japan’s economy is skittering headlong into another gigantic slump thanks to excessive monetary flim-flam, targeted tax gouging, and slavish pandering to the loafer class of moocher elites. Check this out from Roger Arnold at The Street:

“The essential policy tools of Abenomics are massive monetary and fiscal stimulus aimed at forcing the yen lower, which should cause exports to rise and domestic production to increase, leading to increased domestic job production and consumption: the virtuous cycle…

But it isn’t working…Abenomics is making the real economic and fiscal situations in Japan worse, not better. They are digging a bigger sovereign debt hole and accelerating the trajectory toward insolvency.” (Arnold: Abenomics’ Failure Is the Global Canary, The Street)

You bet it isn’t working, just like it’s not working in the United States or Europe or Canada or Australia or anywhere else the mercenary bank cartel has extended its hoary tentacles. Abenomics is failing because it was designed to fail. It was designed to do exactly what it does; transfer everything of value to a handful of crafty, self-serving freeloaders who have the political system by the balls and are extracting every last farthing they can before the economy collapses in a heap.

If you’re in the 1 percent, the system works just swell. For everyone else, not so much.

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/05/30/japan-hits-the-skids/

War Propaganda in Ukraine – The Big Lie and lots of little lies [Workers World]

Posted in Black propaganda, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, EU, European Union, Fascism, FBI, Iraq, Media cover-up, Media smear campaign, Mercenaries / "contractors", NATO, Nazism, Pentagon, Pew Research Center, Psychological warfare, Russia, State Department, Ukraine, UNSC, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Yugoslavia - former FRY on May 14, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Sara Flounders

May 7, 2014

The U.S. corporate media are in lock step lying and distorting the events in Ukraine. These are many little lies leading to another version of the Big Lie, as explained by Nazi Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels and used to justify U.S. aggression from Vietnam to Iraq and Libya.

The good news is that despite all the lies about Ukraine, every opinion poll shows the U.S. population wants no active involvement there.

Every news feed and articles on Ukraine here are saturated with references to “Russian dominance,” “Russian schemes” and “Russian operatives.” Those who resist the illegal Kiev coup regime might be called “forces,” “terrorists,” “separatists,” “militias” or “saboteurs,” but always with the adjective “pro-Russian” or “Russian-speaking.” They confront “Ukrainian soldiers seeking the unity of Ukraine.”

In news articles, commentators and politicians will use these terms often 10 times or more, even though all the resistance fighters are Ukrainian citizens and many have ethnic Ukrainian names. It is no accident that the media characterize workers who have lived for generations in Ukraine this way.

This ploy is accompanied by massive corporate media demonization of Russian President Vladimir Putin. He is called “scheming,” “domineering,” “secretive,” “authoritarian,” “manipulative,” “two-faced,” “overbearing,” and on down the thesaurus list of pejoratives. Pundits call Putin “solely responsible for the crisis” and demand he end it by submitting to Washington’s demands that Ukraine sign the Association Agreement and join the European Union and NATO.

They also want Putin to disarm the eastern Ukraine’s popular resistance to the fascist gangs that just burned 40 people to death in Odessa.

The Kiev coup regime — a completely illegal right-wing grouping that overturned the elected government to seize power in Ukraine — is neutrally described as the “Kiev government” or “Ukrainian government.” The corporate media call the fascist Right Sector and other neo-Nazi forces running this regime’s police and army, “government officials.”

These “officials” meet other officials in the White House, with the United Nations Security Council and with the EU to agree to austerity without the media challenging their legitimacy.

Every U.S. official who discusses the danger of Russian troop movement — within Russia — gets air time. Little to nothing is even reported of U.S. destroyers deploying in the Black Sea, NATO troop deployments eastward, jets and missile bases in eight countries encircling Russia or scheduled “U.S./NATO war games” in the region.

NATO’s expansion of military bases and interlocking U.S. dominated military commands with 28 NATO countries have been relabeled as a Russian campaign to expand its borders.

There are repeated warnings, without proof, about secret Russian agents, but little about CIA head Brennan’s visit to Kiev or the FBI agents and military advisers there.

= Past Lies =

U.S. imperialism has the world’s most powerful media, aimed during the buildup to war to saturate popular consciousness with justification for coming criminal actions. The challenge for corporate power in every war is that it must always hide with a saturation of slanders and non-facts repeated relentlessly this basic reality: Its endless wars are for profits, and the conquest and control of markets and resources.

The corporate media’s role is to set the terms of debate by using an unrelenting bias and a conscious distortion of even well-recognized facts, thus laying the ground for a fraudulent war provocation…

= Majority in U.S. oppose war =

This time the lie campaign is failing. Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who sold the murderous Iraq sanctions and the bombing of Yugoslavia, criticized the U.S. corporate media for this failure to sell the conflict with Russia.

On April 30, she told an audience at the militarist, neocon think tank of “foreign policy and business leaders” called the Atlantic Council, “There is not enough of an explanation to the American people as to how important it is to deal firmly with Russia’s attacks on Ukraine. … I am very troubled by today’s poll published by the Wall Street Journal,” which confirms other surveys showing that “Americans want to worry about themselves” so that fewer than one-fifth of the U.S. population want more active U.S. “engagement in Ukraine.”

A USA Today/Pew Research Center Poll released on April 28 reported that the U.S. population opposed by more than 2 to 1 the idea of sending arms or military supplies to the Ukrainian government “to bolster its defenses against Russian forces.” So even with the most twisted, inaccurate and loaded wording on this poll, the best spin the media could put on these figures was that half the population would support economic sanctions.

The slipping position of U.S. imperialism and the growing hardships faced at home do not mean less media war propaganda, but more likely expanding it to a “Big Lie” to prepare for a serious war provocation.

Excerpted; full article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2014/05/07/war-propaganda-ukraine-big-lie-lots-little-lies/

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