Archive for the U.K. Category

“The Greek Tragedy”: Post-WWII imperialist domination of Greece – The Anti-Empire Report #137 [Williamblum.org] [

Posted in Anti-communism, CIA, Fascism, Germany, Greece, NATO, Nazism, U.K., US imperialism, USA, Wall Street, World War II on March 24, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

Feb. 23, 2015

American historian D.F. Fleming, writing of the post-World War II period in his eminent history of the Cold War, stated that “Greece was the first of the liberated states to be openly and forcibly compelled to accept the political system of the occupying Great Power. It was Churchill who acted first and Stalin who followed his example, in Bulgaria and then in Rumania, though with less bloodshed.”

The British intervened in Greece while World War II was still raging. His Majesty’s Army waged war against ELAS, the left-wing guerrillas who had played a major role in forcing the Nazi occupiers to flee. Shortly after the war ended, the United States joined the Brits in this great anti-communist crusade, intervening in what was now a civil war, taking the side of the neo-fascists against the Greek left. The neo-fascists won and instituted a highly brutal regime, for which the CIA created a suitably repressive internal security agency (KYP in Greek).

In 1964, the liberal George Papandreou came to power, but in April 1967 a military coup took place, just before elections which appeared certain to bring Papandreou back as prime minister. The coup had been a joint effort of the Royal Court, the Greek military, the KYP, the CIA, and the American military stationed in Greece, and was followed immediately by the traditional martial law, censorship, arrests, beatings, and killings, the victims totaling some 8,000 in the first month. This was accompanied by the equally traditional declaration that this was all being done to save the nation from a “communist takeover”. Torture, inflicted in the most gruesome of ways, often with equipment supplied by the United States, became routine.

George Papandreou was not any kind of radical. He was a liberal anti-communist type. But his son Andreas, the heir-apparent, while only a little to the left of his father, had not disguised his wish to take Greece out of the Cold War, and had questioned remaining in NATO, or at least as a satellite of the United States.

Andreas Papandreou was arrested at the time of the coup and held in prison for eight months. Shortly after his release, he and his wife Margaret visited the American ambassador, Phillips Talbot, in Athens. Papandreou later related the following:

I asked Talbot whether America could have intervened the night of the coup, to prevent the death of democracy in Greece. He denied that they could have done anything about it. Then Margaret asked a critical question: What if the coup had been a Communist or a Leftist coup? Talbot answered without hesitation. Then, of course, they would have intervened, and they would have crushed the coup. 1

Another charming chapter in US-Greek relations occurred in 2001, when Goldman Sachs, the Wall Street Goliath Lowlife, secretly helped Greece keep billions of dollars of debt off their balance sheet through the use of complex financial instruments like credit default swaps. This allowed Greece to meet the baseline requirements to enter the Eurozone in the first place. But it also helped create a debt bubble that would later explode and bring about the current economic crisis that’s drowning the entire continent. Goldman Sachs, however, using its insider knowledge of its Greek client, protected itself from this debt bubble by betting against Greek bonds, expecting that they would eventually fail… 2

Excerpted; full article (with footnotes) link: http://williamblum.org/aer/read/137

Secret ‘BADASS’ Intelligence Program Spied on Smartphones [The Intercept]

Posted in Canada, U.K. on March 17, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

by Micah Lee

1/27/2015

Full article link: https://firstlook.org/theintercept/2015/01/26/secret-badass-spy-program/

“Saudi oil and U.S. hypocrisy” Death of King Abdullah, feudal Saud tyrant and imperialists’ best friend [Workers World]

Posted in Afghanistan, Anti-communism, Cameron, CIA, Corporate Media Critique, Egypt, France, Germany, Iraq, Lebanon, Libya, Pakistan, Pentagon, Saudi Arabia, Spain, State Department, Syria, Turkey, U.K., US imperialism, USA, Yemen on March 2, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

By Sara Flounders January 27, 2015

Few events expose the utter hypocrisy of U.S. politicians’ grand words about democracy so starkly as their praise for the recently deceased King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia. For decades U.S. imperialism and all the imperialist powers have given political, military and diplomatic support to the corrupt feudal family that rules Saudi Arabia, the world’s largest exporter of oil.

Heads of state abruptly changed plans and rushed to Riyadh to greet the 79-year-old new ruler King Salman. President Obama, British Prime Minister Cameron accompanied by Prince Charles, French President Hollande, Afghanistan President Ghani, Spain’s King Felipe VI, Turkish President Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Sharif were all anxious to be assured of the regime’s continuation.

Saudi Arabia is an absolute and brutal dictatorship. The country is named after the royal Saud family that has expropriated the country’s fabulous oil wealth, and treats it as a wholly owned family asset. Their control is maintained by massive state-organized repression. All forms of political dissent and social organization, from political parties to trade unions, are banned under pain of death.

Executions by decapitation in public squares are held on average once every four days. Capital crimes include adultery, homosexuality and political opposition to the regime. Public stonings are also a common form of execution. Other punishments include eye gouging, limb amputation, tooth extraction, surgical paralysis and public lashings.

~ Wealth and poverty ~

Government departments are treated as fiefdoms. Their enormous budgets are unaudited and at the family’s personal disposal. Personal and state funds are completely commingled. All family members are guaranteed astronomical monthly allowances from birth, the amount depending on their proximity to the king’s inner circle. The Saud family, with almost 4,000 members, extends privileges up to 30,000 others related by marriage.

The cabinet is made up of Saud family members. The key ministries — interior, foreign affairs, the military commands, National Guard and regional governorships — are held exclusively by family members.

The government does not gather data on poverty, literacy, unemployment or health coverage. However, the Saudi newspaper Okaz reported in July 2012 that 60 percent of the population lived below the poverty line.

A third of the country’s population of 27 million are immigrants with no rights, no status and no social benefits, who make up 80 percent of the work force.

Saudi unemployment is estimated at 10 percent by the CIA World Factbook, but 28 percent among young men aged 15 to 24, who lack needed skills. Women are not considered part of the work force.

~ Women enslaved ~

Women in Saudi Arabia have the lowest literacy in the region. More than 1.5 million migrant women work in domestic slavery. A 2012 report from the International Trade Union Confederation on workers’ rights in Saudi Arabia reported alarming levels of child labor, discrimination and forced labor.

All women, regardless of their class position, have no rights to employment, property or education. They cannot step one foot out of their homes unless covered head to toe in a long black abaya and accompanied by a male family member.

Women in powerful positions in the West ignore the reality of Saudi women. For example, Christine Lagarde, head of the International Monetary Fund, hailed King Abdullah as “a strong advocate for women.” (Washington Post, Jan. 23) U.N. World Food Program Executive Director Ertharin Cousin praised King Abdullah: “He was a true humanitarian leader, always on the side of the world’s hungry poor.” (www.un.org, Jan 23)

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon joined in the imperialist outpouring of praise, expressing in the same statement his gratitude for the king’s “generous humanitarian and developmental support” throughout the Middle East.

Because Wall Street, U.S. oil corporations, military industries and banks reap such enormous profits from this gang of thieves, they have done everything possible to arm, train and reinforce the Saudi military. The role of the corporate media is to provide a veneer of respectability to this family of looters.

This narrow ruling elite relies on five U.S. military bases, Western arms and military training for its protection and survival. The U.S. Fifth Fleet, based in nearby Bahrain, defends the status quo with aircraft carriers, 20 ships, nuclear submarines, 103 strike aircraft and 20,000 sailors and marines.

In return, the Saudi royal family pays protection money to U.S. military industries like Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics and Boeing. Billions also go to British, French and German military corporations. The Saudi military budget in 2013 was $67 billion, the fourth largest in the world, after the U.S., China and Russia.

Saudi spending on weapons comes to 9.3 percent of its gross national product, the highest in the world. The economy is the least diversified of any oil-producing country, with more than 90 percent of its export earnings coming from oil. Virtually everything else must be imported.

Until the 1970s, four U.S. companies were the sole owners of Saudi oil — free and clear of taxes and duties. As revolutionary upheavals in the region led many countries to demand full control of their resources, Saudi oil was carefully nationalized into a conglomerate called Aramco. Exploration, drilling, pumping, transport and the building of pipelines, ports and terminals were all structured to return maximum profits to U.S. corporations. While the Saud family can take immense wealth for themselves, the vast majority of these funds must be held in U.S. banks or be used to purchase U.S. materials.

~ Contras and terror militias ~

This opaque, unaudited economy makes Saudi Arabia a perfect conduit and funding source for U.S. wars, military adventures and secret agencies. At the same time, the U.S. State Department can claim that it knows nothing about who is funding terrorist militias — from the Nicaraguan contras in 1983 to ISIS in 2015.

When Congress denied funding for the reactionary contras in the 1980s, President Ronald Reagan covertly arranged for the Saudis to send them weapons to overthrow the Sandinista government in Nicaragua. Saudi money was a key component in the CIA’s war against the progressive Afghan regime that began in 1979. Working with Washington, it has also funded reactionary militias in Libya, Syria, Iraq, Yemen and Lebanon that have metastasized into a viciously sectarian and destabilizing force throughout the Middle East.

Prince Bandar bin Sultan, a former Saudi ambassador to Washington from 1983 to 2005, is considered a mastermind of the Saudi terror network. He is now director general of the Saudi Intelligence Agency.

Saudi wealth also keeps other military dictatorships in the region afloat. In Egypt, the Saudis provided $1 billion to help General al-Sisi’s coup against the elected Morsi government. After the coup they pledged an immediate $8 billion to stabilize the military regime and have now committed more than $20 billion to maintaining that dictatorship.

The continued rule of the House of Saud is based on a thin, corrupt layer of extreme privilege. Dependent on immigrant labor, foreign trainers and technical experts, it is hated by its own people. U.S. imperialism has staked its continued domination of the region on a detested and narrow grouping that lacks popular support or legitimacy.

Article link: http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/27/saudi-oil-and-u-s-hypocrisy/

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Related article: “Saudi Dictator’s Death Shows NYT as Pawn of Power”

http://fair.org/home/saudi-dictators-death-shows-nyt-as-pawn-of-power/

‘Britain is leading the war against human rights’ – Amnesty International [RT.com]

Posted in Amnesty International, Cameron, U.K. on February 27, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

February 25, 2015

Ramped up surveillance in Britain against a backdrop of dwindling legal protection has contributed to the most rattling assault on human rights in Europe [in the last 25 years], human rights experts [sic] warn.

In its annual ‘State of the World’s Human Rights’ report, Amnesty International heavily criticized the British government’s record at home.

The NGO condemned the coalition government for rushing counter-terror and surveillance legislation through parliament without reasonable time for debate.

It also criticized the coalition for passing laws that erode fundamental civil liberties, and stressed continued cuts to legal aid in Britain is a recipe for injustice.

In 2014, David Cameron pledged a re-elected Tory government would scrap the Human Rights Act and replace it with a home-grown British Bill of Rights. He also vowed to limit the power of the European Court of Human Rights if the Conservatives win May’s general election.

Amnesty’s report, published on Wednesday, said the Tory’s proposals are an attack on the European Convention on Human Rights. The group accused Prime Minister Cameron of leading this assault.

Amnesty also noted the rise of discriminatory, nationalistic policies in Britain. It warned “nationalist, thinly veiled xenophobic attitudes” were instrumental in an increasingly restrictive migration policy and anti-EU rhetoric, which targets human rights.

The group also expressed deep concern over Britain’s Data Retention and Investigatory Powers Act. The legislation, which came into force in 2014, increases UK authorities’ powers of interception – reaffirming Britain’s status as a leading surveillance state.

With respect to the Act, Amnesty argued the British government failed to set up adequate safeguards to ensure surveillance is authorized and carried out in accordance with citizens’ rights to privacy and freedom of expression.

Amnesty’s annual report concluded the international human rights framework in Europe is the most fragile it has been for 25 years…

…Director of Amnesty International UK, Kate Allen, said Britain “is going in the wrong direction on rights, protections and fairness.”

She acknowledged public safety is paramount, but stressed it should not be achieved at the cost of fundamental civil liberties.

“The UK talks the talk on the global stage on human rights but this year’s summary shows they need to tend to their own garden,” she said.

“Twice this year GCHQ spies have been rumbled breaking the law. We should be concerned about waking up in a surveillance state, without having a proper public debate about it first…”

Excerpted / edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://rt.com/uk/235483-war-against-human-rights/

British Intel Agency QCHC Found Guilty of Human Rights Breach by Secret Court [Sputniknews]

Posted in National Security Agency / NSA, NSA, U.K., USA on February 27, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

06.02.2015

British intelligence agency GCHQ has been found guilty of unlawfully accessing the private communications of millions of people, a UK tribunal has found.

GCHQ’s access to the intercepted information, which was originally collected by the US National Security Agency (NSA) was found to be against human rights laws, according to the Investigatory Powers Tribunal (IPT).

The tribunal ruled that there was a lack of transparency in regards to the intelligence sharing operation between the two entities, with the IPT ruling that the actions, which were in place from as early as 2007 until December 2014, were unlawful.

The ruling is significant as it is the first time that the tribunal has found a British intelligence agency guilty of a breach of law…

…Civil liberty groups such as Privacy International and Liberty brought the case forward…

Excerpted; full article link: http://sputniknews.com/europe/20150206/1017869449.html

Israel and Europe’s shared anti-semitism [Jonathan Cook: the blog from Nazareth]

Posted in Anti-Arab / Antisemitism, Fascism, Germany, Israel, Sweden, U.K., Zionism on February 25, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手

18 December 2014

Here’s a telling comment from the leader of a Swedish far-right party that throws a little light on the real reason early last century the great colonial power of the time, Britain, sponsored – through the Balfour Declaration – Israel’s creation.

Bjorn Soder, leader of the Sweden Democrats party, has demanded that Jews drop their Jewish identity and assimilate if they want to live as Swedish citizens…

…Here’s what he says to critics who accuse him of being anti-semitic: “Those who know me when it comes to Jews know I have long had a very strong commitment to both the state of Israel and the Jewish people.”

I don’t think he’s being disingenuous here. This attitude towards Jews was one common in Europe last century (and, as we shall see, lingers to this day, especially among Israel’s supporters).

Soder’s concerns were shared by the European elites of the time, including the British cabinet ministers who devised the Balfour Declaration. Britain’s solution was to encourage Jews to migrate from Europe to the Middle East. To export the “problem”, as they saw it, to the colonies. Other European leaders, most notably Adolf Hitler, would eventually settle on a more extreme solution: the genocide of the Jews in Europe.

In other words, the logic of Israel’s creation and of the extermination of the Jews was intimately related – flipsides of the same deep-seated European racism. Both assumed that Jews were unassimilable, potentially disloyal outsiders who needed either to be expelled or to be killed.

The Zionists both exploited this racism for their own ends (the creation of a Jewish state) and mirrored it, adopting the same ideas as the racists of an identifiable Jewish nation (identified through blood or religion) and one that needed to live apart from other nations.

Zionism, the movement for creating a Jewish state and one that succeeded only when it agreed that such a state would be built on the Palestinians’ homeland, precisely depended on claims of chosen-ness and Biblical entitlement to territory. Where Europe’s racists believed the Jews should be contained or quarantined in the Middle East, the Zionists believed the Jews should create an ethnically pure national fortress.

This is why the idea invented by Israel of a “new anti-semitism” – one distinguishable from historical anti-semitism because it supposedly infects only the left and is marked by criticism of Israel – is so laughable. The true anti-semites have always been the devoted followers of the Zionist movement, the Israeli elites and their many diehard friends in European capitals.

Soder and his tinpot racists are small fry compared to that crowd.

=end=

Edited by Zuo Shou

Full article link: http://www.jonathan-cook.net/blog/2014-12-18/israel-and-europes-shared-anti-semitism/

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Related article: “Anti-Semitism and Islamophobia” [Workers World] — http://www.workers.org/articles/2015/01/26/anti-semitism-and-islamophobia/

HSBC documents reveal criminal conspiracy of banks and governments [World Socialist Website]

Posted in Bill Clinton, France, Fraud, Obama, Switzerland, U.K., US Government Cover-up, USA on February 22, 2015 by Zuo Shou / 左手
By Andre Damon
11 February 2015

…international news outlets the Guardian and Le Monde, working with the International Consortium of Investigative Journalists (ICIJ), published articles based on their analysis of leaked files showing that the Swiss private banking arm of HSBC, Europe’s largest bank, functioned for years as a tax evasion and money laundering firm.

The company ran a branch that gave out “bricks” of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash in foreign denominations and provided its wealthy clientele with advice on how to commit tax fraud, according to the reports.

These facts have for years been been in the possession of international financial regulators and governments throughout the world—including those of Britain, France and the United States—which systematically covered them up.  Neither the bank, nor its executives, nor any of the clients that utilized its tax dodging services have been criminally prosecuted.

No one should believe that HSBC is an aberration; there is no doubt that similar practices are carried out by all major international financial institutions. The HSBC files have unearthed a cesspool of corruption, criminality, bribery and collusion that pervades the entire capitalist system and the governments that defend it.

The HSBC revelations are only the latest in a series of scandals involving virtually every major financial institution.  These have included the selling of fraudulent subprime mortgage-backed securities, illegal foreclosures, commodities fraud and the manipulation of LIBOR and international foreign exchange benchmarks.

HSBC was one of the institutions whose greed and lawlessness plunged the world into a crisis in 2008 from which it has never recovered, cost millions of people their jobs and launched a wave of austerity all over the world involving the slashing of workers wages’ and social benefits.

The list of people who used HSBC’s services include corporate executives, fundraisers and major donors to American, British and Australian political parties, and politicians from at least 17 countries, including Britain.

The trail of dirty money reaches as high as former US President Bill Clinton.  British business tycoon Richard Caring, who once picked up more than five million Swiss francs in cash from the bank, donated $1 million to Clinton’s foundation from his Swiss bank account.

The report by the ICIJ notes that the month before Caring made his donation, he “funded a champagne and caviar extravaganza at Catherine the Great’s Winter Palace in St. Petersburg, Russia, flying in 450 guests to be entertained by Sir Elton John and Tina Turner and addressed by Bill Clinton.”

It also notes that Charles Barrington Goode, a major fundraiser for the Liberal Party and chairman of ANZ bank, one of Australia’s largest financial institutions, held an account with the bank under a false name for three decades.

In addition to “legitimate” businessmen and high-ranking politicians, HSBC’s services were used by drug kingpins, weapons smugglers and traffickers in illegal “blood diamonds.”  Reviewing the reports, it is impossible to determine where the criminal underworld ends and the ruling class of bankers and corporate CEOs and their millionaire political front-men begins.

While no bank executives or wealthy clients have been prosecuted, the one person out of this morass of criminality who faces serious legal consequences is the whistleblower who exposed them.

In 2009, an HSBC technical employee named Hervé Falciani came to realize that HSBC’s private bank was operating a huge tax evasion operation, and began collecting information to provide to Swiss authorities, which showed no interest.

He subsequently turned files pointing to tax fraud by some 130,000 people over to the French police, who shared them with other governments, including that of Britain and America.  Falciani has since been charged with violating Switzerland’s bank secrecy laws and carrying out industrial espionage.

In 2010, then-French Minister of Finance Christine Lagarde provided a list of 2,000 suspected tax evaders to the Greek government, and the list subsequently came into the possession of Greek magazine publishers, who printed it.  They were subsequently charged, then found not guilty, of breaching privacy laws.

A portion of the files accumulated by Falciani were recently obtained by Le Monde and shared with the ICIJ and other newspapers. The files cover some 30,000 accounts holding nearly $120 billion in assets.

In the UK, more than 3,000 people have been investigated based on Falciani’s files, but the government has brought no charges against any of them.

Perhaps the biggest cover-up has been carried out in the United States, where in 2012 the Justice Department agreed to a $1.2 billion “deferred prosecution” settlement with HSBC on charges of money laundering for Mexican drug cartels, never mentioning the fact that the US government had evidence the bank helped its clients evade taxes.

One of the leading architects of the settlement with HSBC, Loretta Lynch, at that time the US attorney for the Eastern District of New York, is now the Obama administration’s nominee to replace Eric Holder as attorney general.  The Reverend Lord Stephen Green, HSBC’s chief executive during the period covered by the files, was subsequently appointed the UK’s minister of state for trade and investment…

Excerpted; full article link:  http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/02/11/hsbc-f11.html

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Related article about HSBC’s bogus  ‘prosecution’ by the US gov’t for laundering Mexican drug money:

“Outrageous HSBC Settlement Proves the Drug War is a Joke” [Rolling Stone] by Matt Taibbi  —  http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/outrageous-hsbc-settlement-proves-the-drug-war-is-a-joke-20121213