Archive for the Oligarchy Category

“‘Hard Clay’ – Remaking Afghanistan In ‘Our’ Image” – Anglo bourgeois media whitewash sham elections under UK’s violent occupations [Media Lens]

Posted in Afghanistan, BBC bias, distortions and lies, Capitalist media double standard, Corporate Media Critique, Iraq, Media smear campaign, NATO, NATO invasion, Oligarchy, Russia, Syria on May 4, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By David Edwards

April 28, 2014

Last month, we reviewed the mind-boggling contrast between corporate media coverage of the January 2005 election in Iraq and the March 2014 referendum in Crimea.

Whereas all media accepted the basic legitimacy of an Iraq election conducted under extremely violent US-UK military occupation, they all rejected the legitimacy of a Crimea referendum conducted ‘at [Russian] gunpoint’.

It was not difficult to guess how the same media would respond to the Afghan presidential election of April 5 under the guns of Britain and America’s occupying force.

The Daily Telegraph had welcomed ‘the first democratic elections’ in Iraq (Leader, ‘Mission accomplished,’ December 6, 2004) and dismissed the Crimea vote as ‘an illegal referendum conducted at gunpoint’. As for Afghanistan:

‘The sight of millions of Afghans defying the Taliban to vote in their country’s presidential election should induce genuine humility. We might take democracy for granted; they emphatically do not.’

Democracy it was, then. Had the editors forgotten that the vote was taking place under US-UK military occupation? In fact, no:

‘The idea that the Taliban are waiting to sweep back to power as soon as American and British troops depart has also taken a knock. If this poll continues to proceed smoothly, the country should have the inestimable benefit of a legitimately elected leader.’

The election was thus declared both democratic and legitimate. As in Iraq, the delegitimising effect of military occupation was ignored – ‘our’ occupations are simply accepted as legitimate and uncontroversial.

A Sunday Times leader hailed ‘democratic elections’ in Iraq, noting only that they were threatened by ‘terrorists’ – Iraqis, not the illegal foreign invaders who had wrecked the country with war, sanctions, bombing and more war (Leader, ‘Send more troops,’ October 10, 2004). By contrast, The Times claimed that the Crimea referendum was made absurd by Russian troops ‘massing on their western border’. (Leading article, ‘Russian Pariah,’ March 17, 2014)

But The Times found nothing absurd about the Afghan election:

‘We should honour and celebrate the resolve of these voters, their commitment to the democratic process.’

To be sure, military involvement had been a problem:

‘The Taleban has been malignly active in the run-up to the election, attacking foreigners in restaurants and showering death threats on democratic activists.’

What about the occupation?

‘As US and British troops ready themselves for withdrawal by the end of this year, the Afghans are evidently eager to take command of their own political destinies.’

And yet this was impossible in Crimea, although Russian troops were not occupying and fighting, merely said to be ‘massing’ on the border.

For the BBC, the Iraq election was ‘the first democratic election in fifty years’. (David Willis, BBC1, News at Ten, January 10, 2005) But the West had dismissed the Crimea referendum ‘as illegal and one that will be held at gunpoint’.

The BBC felt no need to reference the West’s view on Afghanistan, stating baldly:

‘The election marks the country’s first democratic transfer of power.’

On Channel 4 News, Alex Thomson, a courageous and comparatively honest reporter, covered the Afghan vote from Kabul. We tweeted him:

‘How free are these elections, Alex? What’s the state of press freedom, for example?’

We supplied some context:

‘In 2004-5, press supplied no analysis of state of press freedom prior to elections in Iraq, January ’05. Will you in Afghanistan?’

Thomson responded: ‘huge questions gents’. He added:

‘quick honest answer? I probably won’t regrettably. There’s a civil war on and it’s not too priority…’. Moreover: ‘I can only work 18-20 hours a day and there isn’t time is truthful answer. Someone should find research.’

Establishing whether the elections were actually free and fair – or not – was not ‘too priority’, somebody else’s job. A few moment’s research, and indeed thought, would have told Thomson that an election under US-UK occupation could not be described as free and fair.

Thomson later commented on his Channel 4 blog:

‘So enjoy your election in all its colour, noise, excitement and yes, valid democratic exercise up to a limited point.’

= Guardian – Working The ‘Very Hard Clay’ =

The vote in Iraq was ‘the country’s first free election in decades’ for the Guardian (Leader, ‘Vote against violence,’ January 7, 2005), which dismissed the Crimea referendum as ‘irrelevant’ because ‘it took place while the autonomous region was under military occupation’.

No surprises there. As for the election in Afghanistan:

‘And yet, in spite of Taliban attacks, Afghans will go to the polls on Saturday to elect a new president, with the turnout expected to be high, and media coverage voluminous and varied. Irregularities will be high, too, and more difficult to measure because of Taliban threats to monitors and foreign observers. But the leading candidates, even given their warlord connections, are credible figures. Ethnic deals should permit some transcending of regional loyalties. There is a woman candidate for vice-president.’

Far from ‘irrelevant’, then. The only identifiable military problem involved the usual bad guys – Afghans:

‘The Taliban may have changed… behind an unyielding facade. Or it will have to if the shift in public mood is reinforced by a successful election.’

Despite US-UK military occupation, the election could be ‘successful’.

From the lofty moral and intellectual heights of British civilisation, the Guardian editors patronised effortlessly:

‘Could we make the Afghans more like us? That has been the question ever since the Americans and their allies went into Afghanistan 12 years ago…’

This indeed was the central theme of the editorial, as indicated by the title:

‘Afghanistan: more like us: It is hard to resist the feeling that Afghans, responding to the chaos and opportunity of foreign intervention, have changed.’

Changed for the better, thankfully. That is, they have become ‘more like us’. The ‘intervention’ – in fact an illegal invasion – was an ‘opportunity’ for the victims, according to the UK’s leading liberal newspaper. As with every colonial mission, there have been difficulties:

‘Afghanistan is a very hard clay in which to work, and those who tried to work it were very slow and unskilled.’

Naturally, the British and American states that have ravaged the people and planet of this earth for hundreds of years have the right to ‘work’ the lowly Afghans, who are such ‘very hard clay’, in an attempt to remake them in ‘our’ exalted image. As for the problems:

‘The failures, the follies, and the tragedies which followed have been well documented. Generals, ambassadors, high representatives, aid experts and special envoys have come and gone. NATO soldiers have died, including 448 British, many more in the ranks of the Taliban, and more still among Afghan civilians.’

Chief among the failures, follies, tragedies, and indeed criminal complicity, has been the inability of our ‘free press’ to perceive the criminality of ‘our’ ‘unskilled’ work. This simply isn’t done. As for the Afghan ‘clay’, why even offer a ballpark figure for the casualties of ‘our’ blood-drenched pottery?

Passing over the criminal record of master potter Tony Blair, the Guardian splashed his complementary views across its front page. Independent commentator John Rentoul summarised the shared worldview with approval:

‘Now he [Blair] is calling on us to rescue true Muslims not just from dictators but from a perversion of their own religion.’

Blair’s comments were also treated to front-page coverage in the Independent and on the BBC website. Seumas Milne noted the perversity in the Guardian:

‘Quite why the views of a man whose military interventions in the Muslim world have been so widely discredited… should be treated with such attention by the media isn’t immediately obvious. But one reason is that they chime with those of a powerful section of the political and security establishment.’

Milne failed to mention his own newspaper’s front-page, or the ugly example of its ‘hard clay’ editorial. In fact, the Guardian has always been Blair’s greatest cheerleader. In May 2005, even after the invasion of Iraq, the editors wrote:

‘We believe that Mr Blair should be re-elected to lead Labour into a third term this week.’ (Leader, ‘Once more with feeling,’ The Guardian, May 3, 2005)

The Guardian-Blair view has a long, violent history stretching back many hundreds of years. In the nineteenth century, English civil servant Herman Merivale offered guidelines for government administrators interested in the control of native customs:

‘It will be necessary, in short, that the colonial authorities should act upon the assumption that they have the right in virtue of the relative position of civilised and Christian men to savages, to enforce abstinence from immoral and degrading practices, to compel outward conformity to the law of what we regard as better instructed reason.’ (Quoted, John Bodley, Victims of Progress, Mayfield Publishing, 1982, p.105)

In 2000, senior Guardian commentator Polly Toynbee updated the doctrine in an article titled, ‘The West really is the best’:

‘In our political and social culture we have a democratic way of life which we know, without any doubt at all, is far better than any other in the history of humanity. Even if we don’t like to admit it, we are all missionaries and believers that our own way is the best when it comes to the things that really matter.’ (Toynbee, The Observer, March 5, 2000)

Back in the real world, a study by Martin Gilens and Benjamin I. Page, ‘Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizen’, to be published in the autumn 2014 issue of the academic journal, ‘Perspectives on Politics’, finds that ‘the democratic way of life’ of the United States is in fact oligarchy masquerading as democracy:

‘When a majority of citizens disagrees with economic elites and/or well organized interests, they generally lose. Moreover, because of the strong status quo bias built into the U.S. political system, even when fairly large majorities of Americans favor policy change, they generally do not get it.’

The authors add:

‘When the preferences of economic elites and the stands of organized interest groups are controlled for, the preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy… we believe that if policymaking is dominated by powerful business organizations and a small number of affluent Americans, then America’s claims to being a democracy are seriously threatened’.

To compound the comedy, the Guardian reported of the June 3 presidential election in Syria, the latest unfortunate to be added to the list of official enemy states:

‘Western and Gulf Arab countries that back Assad’s opponents had called plans for the vote a “parody of democracy” and said it would wreck efforts to negotiate a peace settlement.’

The US oligarchy’s allies, the ‘Gulf Arab countries’ – currently waging merciless war on Syria – are themselves, of course, violent, unaccountable tyrannies. The Guardian failed to mention the irony, being itself a parody of an independent, progressive newspaper.

Article link: http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2014/762-hard-clay-remaking-afghanistan-in-our-image.html

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“The Age of the Oligarchs” by Robert Parry [Consortium News]

Posted in Oligarchy, Ukraine, USA on April 11, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Exclusive: The concentration of power in the hands of billionaire “oligarchs” may be most alarming in places like Ukraine but the United States is moving in the same direction as wealth is consolidated at the top — and both elections and media are up for sale, says Robert Parry.

By Robert Parry

The chaos in Ukraine can be viewed, in part, as what happens when a collection of “oligarchs” – sometimes competing, sometime collaborating – take control of a society, buying most of the politicians and owning the media. The political/media classes become corrupted by serving their wealthy patrons and society breaks down into warring factions.

In that sense, Ukraine could be a cautionary tale for the United States and other countries that are veering down a similar path toward vast income inequality, with billionaire “oligarchs” using their money to control politicians and to pay for propaganda through media ventures.

Depending on your point of view, there may be “good oligarchs” and “bad oligarchs,” but the concept of oligarchy is antithetical to democracy, a system in which governance is supposed to be driven by the informed consent of the majority with respect for minority rights. Instead, we’re moving toward a competition among oligarchs with the “people” mostly as bystanders to be manipulated one way or the other…

Excerpted; full article link: http://consortiumnews.com/2014/04/04/the-age-of-the-oligarchs/

US response to leaked call confirms US/EU regime-change plot in Ukraine [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Black propaganda, Corporate Media Critique, Diplomat, EU, European Union, Fascism, Germany, Iran, Media cover-up, National Security Agency / NSA, Nazism, New York Times lie, NSA, Oligarchy, Russia, State Department, Ukraine, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, USA 21st Century Cold War on February 10, 2014 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Alex Lantier
8 February 2014

Washington’s response has confirmed the authenticity of a YouTube clip of a leaked telephone conversation between US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt that emerged Thursday.

In the call, posted by an anonymous Russian source, Nuland and Pyatt discuss installing a new, pro-US government that will incorporate the fascistic opposition which has been leading street protests against Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych. Even though Washington’s campaign for regime-change has been coordinated with the European Union (EU), and particularly with Berlin, in the phone conversation with Pyatt, Nuland attacks the EU for being insufficiently aggressive, saying at one point, “Fuck the EU.”

Asked about the leaked video, US State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said, “I didn’t say it was inauthentic.” She added that Nuland was “in contact with her EU counterparts and, of course, has apologized for these reported comments.”

Psaki also addressed Nuland’s and Pyatt’s discussion of which forces Washington would allow to come to power in Kiev. In the telephone call, the two discuss plans to install an oligarchic regime working closely with fascist gangs. They agree that boxer Vitali Klitschko, who leads the German-backed UDAR party, should stay out of power and “do his political homework and stuff.”

They conclude that Arseniy Yatsenyuk of jailed billionaire oligarch Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party should rule, conferring regularly with Oleh Tyahnybok of the fascist Svoboda Party, whose members and neo-Nazi allies provide most of the thugs fighting riot police in Kiev.

Psaki indicated that such discussions are normal for US policymakers. “It shouldn’t be a surprise that at any points there have been discussions about recent events and offers and what is happening on the ground,” she said.

US officials tried to retaliate for the exposure by blaming it on Russia. White House spokesman Jay Carney commented, “I would say that since the video was first noted and tweeted out by the Russian government, I think it says something about Russia’s role.”

The implied criticism that Russian officials are bugging US communications is utterly hypocritical. US intelligence agencies such as the National Security Agency carry out massive Internet and telecommunications spying directed at the entire world’s population, including heads of government and international bodies such as the European Union and the United Nations, as NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden has revealed.

European officials on Friday were silent or issued brief statements downplaying Nuland’s remarks. A spokesperson for German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Christiane Wirtz, said: “The chancellor finds these remarks totally unacceptable and wants to emphasize that [EU foreign policy chief] Catherine Ashton is doing an outstanding job.”

One EU official told the BBC, “The EU is engaged in helping the people of Ukraine through the current political crisis. We don’t comment on alleged leaked telephone conversations.”

If European officials are tucking their tail between their legs and swallowing Nuland’s call to “Fuck the EU,” it is because they — like Washington — are trying to bury the entire episode, which reveals quite clearly the character of the US/EU intervention in Ukraine.

Far from “helping the people of Ukraine” to establish a democratic government, they are engaged in secret, back-channel maneuvers with far-right parties to violently impose a fascistic, pro-imperialist puppet regime on the Ukrainian people.

The Nuland-Pyatt call provides a glimpse of how Washington organizes provocations to forcibly install authoritarian regimes in strategic countries targeted for regime-change by US corporate and military interests. Their discussion recalls how US and British officials, led by the CIA, organized paid mobs of right-wing protesters in 1953 to topple the elected regime of Iranian President Mohammed Mossadegh and maintain their stranglehold on Iran’s oil fields. They then supported the bloody regime of the Iranian Shah and his sadistic SAVAK political police.

In Ukraine today, as in other countries in the past, US plans for regime-change require organization, discussion and planning. Imperialist operatives have to get on the phone to coordinate operations and funding, make sure subordinates organize the distribution of clubs, chains and Molotov cocktails to their fascist foot soldiers, and so on.

Another key element in such operations is propaganda from key figures in the media and academia, who present such filthy enterprises as noble struggles for freedom and democracy. (See: “Ukraine and the pro-imperialist intellectuals”). The media plays a key role in the campaign, maintaining a complicit silence about Victoria “Fuck the EU” Nuland’s orders to “Yats” and “Klitsch,” whom the pundits and anchormen hail as great democrats even as US officials discuss them with contempt.

There is little doubt that had this recording not surfaced, publications like the New York Times would dismiss reports of Washington and its allies manipulating the Ukrainian opposition as “conspiracy theories.”

As for “Yats” and “Klitsch,” they are careful not to tell the raving anti-Semites and neo-Nazis fighting their street battles for them that Svoboda is intended to serve only as a tool to shift power from a more pro-Russian faction of oligarchs led by Yanukovych to a pro-EU faction led by Tymoshenko.

Due warnings must be made. Under conditions of deep economic crisis and widespread popular opposition to the bankrupt and corrupt Yanukovych regime, fascist thugs and imperialist operatives can very well, in the absence of an independent mobilization of the working class against US-led regime change, come together and overthrow the current government.

In one sign of the political agenda underlying the US/EU operation in Ukraine, Nuland has called for major changes in the Ukrainian regime in exchange for emergency US loans to fund the country’s debts. She said, “Washington is ready to support Ukraine if it will quickly move towards the path of protecting human rights, dignity, a de-escalation of the conflict, and political reforms.”

Among the “reforms” Western officials have demanded are deep cuts in energy subsidies and other social programs that will have a devastating impact on the Ukrainian working class.

Article link: https://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/02/08/ukra-f08.html

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See also: “News Analysis: Leaked recording uncovers U.S. influence in Ukraine crisis” [Xinhua]- http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/indepth/2014-02/08/c_133098670.htm

Julian Assange: The May 2011 RT Interview – “Facebook is the most appalling spying machine” [RT / Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives]]

Posted in Corporate Media Critique, Guantanamo Bay concentration camp, Julian Assange, Obama, Oligarchy, Sweet and Sour Socialism Essential Archives, US Government Cover-up, US imperialism, USA, Wikileaks on August 2, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Posted in light of the Snowden NSA revelations. – Zuo Shou

“I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again Facebook ain’t your friend. From the facile and shallow way it connects people to the awesome power it gives authorities to monitor and surveille, Facebook is a technology born not in the hallways of emancipation and freedom but in the byways of power and control. Or at least, that’s what Julian Assange founder of WikiLeaks thinks and frankly, I tend to agree. Never before in this history of this planet have so many been monitored by so few with so little responsible oversight.” – Dr. Michael Sosteric, “Facebook is a Spy Machine” [http://www.sociology.org/lead/facebook-spy-machine]

“WikiLeaks revelations only tip of iceberg – Assange”

May 2, 2011

([Apparent] transcript of video interview by Laura Emmett)

The man behind WikiLeaks says his website’s revelations are just the tip of the iceberg. In an exclusive interview with RT, Julian Assange said it is only a matter of time before more damaging information becomes known.

he publication of confidential cables proved deeply embarrassing for the US and other countries.

“If we look at our work over the last 12 moths, think about that. All these stories that have come out actually happened in the world, before 2010, but people didn’t know about it. So what is it that we don’t know about now? There’s an enormous hidden world out there that we don’t know about. It exists there right now.”

Assange claims the data released by WikiLeaks is not even the most important and calls on people not to believe that the information they receive from the media is all that is happening.

“We only released secret, classified, confidential material. We didn’t have any top secret cables. The really embarrassing stuff, the really serious stuff wasn’t in our collection to release. But it is still out there.”

RT: Julian, thank you for talking to RT…social networking, what role, do you think, sites like Facebook and Twitter, have played in the revolutions [sic] in the Middle East? How easy, would you say, is it to manipulate media like that?

JA: Facebook in particular is the most appalling spying machine that has ever been invented. Here we have the world’s most comprehensive database about people, their relationships, their names, their addresses, their locations and the communications with each other, their relatives, all sitting within the United States, all accessible to US intelligence. Facebook, Google, Yahoo – all these major US organizations have built-in interfaces for US intelligence. It’s not a matter of serving a subpoena. They have an interface that they have developed for US intelligence to use.

Now, is it the case that Facebook is actually run by US intelligence? No, it’s not like that. It’s simply that US intelligence is able to bring to bear legal and political pressure on them. And it’s costly for them to hand out records one by one, so they have automated the process. Everyone should understand that when they add their friends to Facebook, they are doing free work for United States intelligence agencies in building this database for them.

RT: OK, let’s talk about other latest WikiLeaks cables that have been released. They show the UK as a haven for extremism, with at least 35 Guantanamo detainees having at least passed through the UK. Is the UK still a haven for terrorists?

JA: You know it has been a haven for terrorists, and it is certainly a haven for oligarchs and former regime dictators that have come here. I mean, remember the famous Pinochet trial for the extradition of Pinochet from the UK, which Thatcher resisted – incredibly, using a lawyer that is involved in trying to extradite me from the United Kingdom. Now, part of that is, perhaps, good. It’s an example of true liberalism in the United Kingdom: everyone come here, and we’ll protect you. On the other hand, there does seem to be a disconnect. Is it really supporting free-speech activists like me who come to the UK?…

RT: The Guantanamo information… why has WikiLeaks released it now? I mean it seems sort of to be after the fact. Is it because Obama has recently announced his re-election campaign and obviously closing Guantanamo was one of his main election promises?

JA: There is a number of reasons why we released it now. The primary one is that we are a small organization, although a very committed one. Last year we came under extraordinary attack. All these things continue to go on. And so they’ve really dampened down our ability to move quickly and publish quickly.

The timing is good. Obama has given up on closing Guantanamo and has decided to re-open the trial process. And we now have a situation where even the Obama administration says that 48 of those people still in Guantanamo are completely innocent and they should be sent somewhere, and they are not being sent anywhere. So, completely innocent people are incarcerated for years and years and years with no trial and no hope of relief. No country would agree to house them, including the United States. But the United States has made them its problem.

The United States was involved in rounding up these innocent people, setting up a process that was from the very beginning corrupt. There is a reason why they are in Guantanamo and not on the US mainland and not in an allied country. And that reason was to hide them and to keep them outside of the law. Just like you have Caribbean islands engaged in money laundering, the United States is engaged in people laundering.

RT:Let me talk about your media partners, one of which is The Guardian, with whom you’re now involved in a dispute. But you chose them as your primary English-language partner for distributing the WikiLeaks cables. And now Guardian journalists have published this book on WikiLeaks, which you say is an attack on you. How would you describe, following that, The Guardian’s stance on whistleblowing and media freedom in general?

JA: They are a publishing organization, and so, of course, they want as much rights over publishing them as possible, that’s a natural self-interest. What they have done with this cable-cooking in this incredible over-redaction of cables is they have pushed the right of the people to know to the very, very edge. And what they are concerned about is any possible attack on them.

But we have seen this sort of abuse of the material that we have provided several times. The Guardian is the worst offender, but we saw it also by The New York Times…

…What happens in the West is that there is no border between state interest and commercial interest. The edges of the state, as a result of privatization, are fuzzed and blurred out into the edges of companies. So, when you look at how The Guardian behaves, or how The New York Times behaves, it is part of that mesh of corporate and state interests seamlessly blurring into each other. The Guardian is concerned predominantly about being criticized by these powerful interests, about lawsuits against it driven by oligarchs, driven by people powerful enough to push a court case forward…

…RT: And finally, Julian, who do you consider to be your No. 1 enemy?

JA: Our No. 1 enemy is ignorance. And I believe that is the No. 1 enemy for everyone – it’s not understanding what actually is going on in the world. It’s only when you start to understand that you can make effective decisions and effective plans. Now, the question is, who is promoting ignorance? Well, those organizations that try to keep things secret, and those organizations which distort true information to make it false or misrepresentative. In this latter category, it is bad media.

It really is my opinion that media in general are so bad that we have to question whether the world wouldn’t be better off without them altogether. They are so distortive to how the world actually is that the result is… we see wars, and we see corrupt governments continue on.

One of the hopeful things that I’ve discovered is that nearly every war that has started in the past 50 years has been a result of media lies. The media could’ve stopped it if they had searched deep enough; if they hadn’t reprinted government propaganda they could’ve stopped it. But what does that mean? Well, that means that basically populations don’t like wars, and populations have to be fooled into wars. Populations don’t willingly, with open eyes, go into a war. So if we have a good media environment, then we also have a peaceful environment.

RT: Thank you very much.

Excerpted; full interview/article link: http://rt.com/news/wikileaks-revelations-assange-interview/

On the prescience of perceiving Facebook as “Big Brother’s” spying tool, see also the Feb. 2012 article “Facebook is a surveillance engine, not friend: Richard Stallman, Free Software Foundation” [The Economic Times] – http://articles.economictimes.indiatimes.com/2012-02-07/news/31034052_1_facebook-users-mark-zuckerberg-richard-stallman

Ten years on, Western leaders have learned nothing from Iraq disaster [People’s Daily]

Posted in Afghanistan, Black propaganda, Corporate Media Critique, Iran, Iraq, Oligarchy, Pentagon, Psychological warfare, Syria, Tony Blair, U.K., US foreign occupation, US imperialism, USA on April 3, 2013 by Zuo Shou / 左手

(Global Times)
March 26, 2013

Does the 10th anniversary of Washington’s Iraq War mean anything to the leaders who took us into war? No. Because, so far, there has been no indication that they have learned any lessons.

Then US president George W. Bush and UK prime minister Tony Blair lied to their respective government and people in order to launch the regime change war. Utterly false reports about weapons of mass destruction and other non-existent threats were used to dupe Americans, Britons, and the world.

Today, the Iraq War is a fading memory in the US, and the Americans have yet to comprehend the extent to which the war has stolen their future through some $5 trillion of unnecessary war costs and untold damage to Washington’s reputation.

Despite these facts, US politicians do not hesitate to advocate regime change wars against Syria and Iran.

The US public, influenced by jingoist corporate news media, does not relate the disaster in Iraq to the present US intervention against Syria, let alone to a possible war against Iran.

About three quarters of Congress voted to authorize Bush to use force against Iraq. Today the percentage would be at least as high, if not higher, for regime change wars against Syria and against Iran which many politicians openly and stridently call for.

Petroleum-rich Iraq was created by the British Empire after World War I following the secret Sykes-Picot Agreement to divide the spoils of that war in the Middle East between Britain and France.

Iraq as such never existed in history. London simply amalgamated three former Ottoman provinces, to make up an “Iraq” state. These were Mosul, Baghdad, and Basra. The British placed a friendly king in charge of the Iraqi state while placing his brother in charge of Jordan.

Britain’s strategic reasoning was simple. Because Iraq was petroleum-rich, it could serve the empire’s interests.

Petroleum in southern Iraq could be refined and then accessed via the Persian Gulf. And petroleum in northern Iraq could be conveyed by pipelines to the Mediterranean Port of Haifa and refined there to support the British fleet…

Full article link: http://english.people.com.cn/90777/8182292.html

Wealth doesn’t trickle down – it just floods offshore, new research reveals [Guardian]

Posted in IMF - International Monetary Fund, Income gap, Oligarchy, U.K., USA on July 25, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

A far-reaching new study suggests a staggering $21tn in assets has been lost to global tax havens. If taxed, that could have been enough to put parts of Africa back on its feet – and even solve the euro crisis

by Heather Stewart

21 July 2012

[Excerpted]

The world’s super-rich have taken advantage of lax tax rules to siphon off at least $21 trillion, and possibly as much as $32tn, from their home countries and hide it abroad – a sum larger than the entire American economy.

James Henry, a former chief economist at consultancy McKinsey and an expert on tax havens, has conducted groundbreaking new research for the Tax Justice Network campaign group – sifting through data from the Bank for International Settlements (BIS), the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and private sector analysts to construct an alarming picture that shows capital flooding out of countries across the world and disappearing into the cracks in the financial system.

…Despite the professed determination of the G20 group of leading economies to tackle tax secrecy, investors in scores of countries – including the US and the UK – are still able to hide some or all of their assets from the taxman…

…Using the BIS’s measure of "offshore deposits" – cash held outside the depositor’s home country – and scaling it up according to the proportion of their portfolio large investors usually hold in cash, he estimates that between $21tn (£13tn) and $32tn (£20tn) in financial assets has been hidden from the world’s tax authorities.

"These estimates reveal a staggering failure," says John Christensen of the Tax Justice Network. "Inequality is much, much worse than official statistics show, but politicians are still relying on trickle-down to transfer wealth to poorer people.

"This new data shows the exact opposite has happened: for three decades extraordinary wealth has been cascading into the offshore accounts of a tiny number of super-rich."

In total, 10 million individuals around the world hold assets offshore, according to Henry’s analysis; but almost half of the minimum estimate of $21tn – $9.8tn – is owned by just 92,000 people. And that does not include the non-financial assets – art, yachts, mansions in Kensington – that many of the world’s movers and shakers like to use as homes for their immense riches…

Full article link here

Murdoch may be a convenient demon, but the media is a junta [Johnpilger.com]

Posted in Australia, BBC bias, distortions and lies, Corporate Media Critique, Israel, Obama, Oligarchy, Tony Blair, U.K., US drone strikes, US imperialism, USA, War crimes on July 10, 2012 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by John Pilger

30 June 2012

Australia is the world’s first murdochracy.  US citizen Rupert Murdoch controls 70 per cent of the metropolitan press.  He has monopolies in state capitals and provincial centres.  The only national newspaper is his.  He is a dominant force online and in pay-TV and publishing. Known fearfully as "Rupert", he is the Chief Mate.

But Murdoch’s dominance is not as it is often presented.  Although he is now one of the West’s accredited demons, thanks to his phone-hackers, he is but part of a media system that will not change when his empire is broken up.  The political extremism that is the concentration of the world’s wealth in few hands and the accelerating impoverishment of the majority will ensure this.  A Melbourne journalist, Paul Chadwick, one of the few to rebel against Murdoch, described this as "akin to a small group of generals who sit above the main institutions… a junta in all but name".

Consider the junta’s rise.  In the US, at the end of the second world war, 80 per cent of newspapers were independently owned.  By 1987, most were controlled by 15 corporations, of which six dominate today. Their ideological message is a mantra.  They promote global and domestic economic piracy and the cult of "perpetual war".  This is currently served by a "liberal" president who pursues whistleblowers, dispatches drones and selects from his personal "kill list" every Tuesday.   In Britain, where the propaganda of big capital also dominates, the historic convergence of the two main political parties is rarely news. Tony Blair, a conspirator in the greatest crime of this century, is promoted as "a wasted talent".  In all these agendas, notably the promotion of war, the Murdoch press often plays a supporting role to the reputable BBC.  The Leveson inquiry has shown not the slightest interest in this.

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