Thursday, March 27, 2014

Western Unity Against Russia a Masterpiece of Illusion

The crisis in legitimacy for Washington and its coterie of allies stems from the fact that these countries are no longer the economic powers that they once were. The centre of global economic gravity is shifting to the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, among other emerging economies. Asia, Africa and Latin America are the future; North America and Europe are the past~~ Finian Cunningham

by Finian Cunningham

When US President Barack Obama opened his tour of Europe this week it had the unmistakable choreography of a scripted set piece: lights, camera, action etc. The storyline is a familiar trope. America, the shining beacon of democracy and human rights, comes to the rescue of European damsels in distress just before they are ravaged by bestial European recidivism for war.

European political figures of increasingly low caliber are indulging this American parody of reality by appearing to unite around Obama’s call for tougher sanctions against Russia. Britain’s David Cameron and his German and French counterparts, Angela Merkel and Francois Hollande, issued warnings of imposing economic penalties on Russian businesses and industries. Lots of bombast and melodrama were on cue, but there was a distinct lack of guts to follow.

For Obama’s European visit this week it seemed more than a coincidence that the president made his first public statement from an Amsterdam museum. The choice of such a rarefied venue to launch Obama’s shuttle diplomacy may at first seem odd.

As the Washington Post reported:

"President Obama delved into a day of diplomacy Monday as he sought to rally the international community around efforts to isolate Russia following its incursion into Ukraine."

And yet the US president chooses a museum to begin this seemingly important diplomatic week? It was Amsterdam’s Rijksmuseum where he pronounced on international law and the need for a unified response to sanction Russian "violation of sovereignty and territorial integrity of other nations".

The American leader’s utterances were made while standing in front of Rembrandt’s masterpiece, The Night Watch. Completed in 1642, the life-size portrait of Dutch soldiers is considered to be among the world’s finest art collection. The painting, by the way, had to be put into secret storage between 1939-45 to save it from damage during World War II.

Obama declared:

"Europe and America are united in our support of the Ukrainian government and the Ukrainian people; we're united in imposing a cost on Russia for its actions so far".

The subliminal message here is: Washington is coming to Europe as a rallying force for good, to defend democratic principles, civilized values and to defeat barbarity. Obama’s presumption has a deep resonance with American mythology of 'exceptionalism' and benign power.

American actor-director George Clooney’s new World War Two film, Monuments Men, is an example of this syrupy American vanity and travesty of history. Clooney’s latest film –– about how a specially assigned American team led a mission to save European art collections from Nazi looting – tends to reinforce the American myth that it was they who rescued Europe from savage war and destruction during the 20th century. American intervention in the First and Second World Wars is, in the 'exceptional' American national mythology, portrayed as a noble sacrifice that pulled Europe back from the brink of nihilism to the light of liberal democracy.

Echoing this contrived chorus line, the Western media are casting Russia, led by Vladimir Putin, as the biggest threat to European peace since the end of the Cold War more than 20 years ago. Never mind the inescapable fact that it was Soviet Russia that largely defeated German fascism in 1945.

But between the simplistic lines, there is plenty of evidence that the Washington-led allies are far from united or confident about their handling of Russia and the recent upheaval over Ukraine.

Firstly, there is a crisis of legitimacy for the so-called Western leaders. When the members of the Group of Seven were later photographed in The Hague huddled around a table with little flags indicating their nationalities, the gathering had all the gravitas of a school canteen. The G7 statement on the cancellation of the planned Group of Eight summit in Russia’s Sochi said:

"We will suspend our participation in the G8 until Russia changes course and the environment comes back to where the G8 is able to have a meaningful discussion."

That doesn’t sound like a statement with conviction. «We will suspend our participation…», not «we ban Russia», betrays a lot of anxious horse-trading among the elitist club to come up with a «unified» statement.

The crisis in legitimacy for Washington and its coterie of allies stems from the fact that these countries are no longer the economic powers that they once were. The centre of global economic gravity is shifting to the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa, among other emerging economies. Asia, Africa and Latin America are the future; North America and Europe are the past.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov was not engaging in churlish politics of envy when he shrugged off the G8 forum as a redundant entity anyway. It is fact.

Thus, from this Western club, the threat of economic sanctions against Russia for alleged violations over Ukraine sounds decidedly hollow and impotent.

The Western crisis of political legitimacy is also manifest among its own public. This week saw a hammering for France’s ruling Socialist Party in local elections and the rise of the anti-establishment and deeply Euro-skeptic National Front. French President Francois Hollande’s personal poll rating has hit an all-time low, and this same chronic disaffection with the political class can be seen in other Western states too. Stagnant economies and record levels of poverty and unemployment are undermining the authority of incumbent Western leaders and governments.

So, despite attempts to muster gravitas and purpose over events in Ukraine and alleged wrongdoing by Russia, the Western public has no appetite to listen to sanctimonious political sermons. How can these politicians find the urgency and financial wherewithal to suddenly throw billions of dollars at Ukraine, when there is so much social need neglected closer to home?

Public disaffection with national governments is extended to the supranational European Union. This also explains the dramatic rise in the National Front in France and the growing popularity of similar anti-EU nationalistic parties elsewhere across Europe. A common theme is contempt for aloof European bureaucrats, who seem more interested in EU enlargement in tandem with ever-more economic austerity for citizens.

The notion that reviled European figures, such as Cameron and Hollande, are photographed with equally despised European bureaucrats Herman Van Rompuy and Jose Manuel Barroso – and that this image is supposed to somehow represent a strong, united popular front for American-led sanctions against Russia is laughable and illusory.

This cabal of politicians may have the appearance of unity, but what does such elite 'unity' mean when they are increasingly diminished in the eyes of their own populations and the rest of the world?

Even within this cabal, the apparent unity is unconvincing. The tougher sanctions that Washington has been pushing for, have so far not been adopted by the European Union – despite the rhetoric.

Notably, German chancellor Angela Merkel pointedly refused to take the provocative line of 'banning' Russia from the G8, which Washington, London and Paris would have preferred. Merkel contradicted the French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius, who was earlier insisting that Russia had been suspended from the forum.

Merkel’s less confrontational attitude was also reiterated by Italian Foreign Minister, Frederica Mogherini, who reminded everyone that Russia is "an important [trading] partner" and that a forum for dialogue should not be closed.

Away from the G7 clique, both the Finnish and Belgian governments also cautioned against diplomatic confrontation with Moscow. EU and NATO member Norway said that it was canceling bilateral military arrangements with Russia, but it reportedly added that other areas of relations with Russia were to remain normal. Swiss President Didier Burkhalter said that his country would not be implementing US or EU sanctions against Russian financiers.

Many of the 300 million or so European citizens – in spite of the official attitude of some leaders – are well aware of the importance of bilateral trade with Russia. EU trade with Russia is tenfold the volume that exists between the US and Russia.

Top of the EU-Russian trade is oil and gas, which accounts for some one-third of average EU supply. In the eastern part of the bloc, the Russian supply of gas constitutes 80-100 per cent of total consumption.

Germany’s commercial bond with Russia is of strategic importance, not just for Germany but for the rest of Europe too. German businesses sold $60 billion-worth of goods to Russia last year. Not surprisingly, the German business class is vociferously opposed to any further ratcheting up of sanctions against Russia. Germany’s export group, BGA, says any such move would be "catastrophic" for the more than 6,000 German companies that do business there.

Another German business figure, Eckhard Cordes, the head of the Eastern Committee, a powerful Russia-oriented business lobby, also expressed apprehension at the impact of sanctions. He told German media:

"We have a strategic partnership . . . to bring our peoples together. And now we want to cover ourselves with sanctions? I find that difficult to imagine".

That liability for Europe’s largest economy is an onerous constraint on Merkel. Der Spiegel commented on Merkel’s dilemma:

"Her election victory last autumn was partly the result of her promise to protect Germany from unpleasantness related to the euro [currency] crisis. That is what they are now expecting from Berlin's course on the Ukraine crisis: security and stability".

Across Europe, businessmen, industrialists, workers and the general public understand that the bravado of economic sanctions against Russia – articulated by an increasingly unrepresentative and illegitimate political class – will hurt them the most – in their daily lives. The wider public knows that belligerent elites in Washington, London, Paris and Brussels have much less to lose from pursuing a confrontation with Russia.

Perhaps in decades past, nations could be rallied around a flag with jingoistic political speeches. In today’s globalized economy, that kind of patronizing influence has expired, and any attempt to revive it is viewed with even more contempt.

Paolo Scaroni, the head of Italian energy giant ENI, told the Financial Times in blunt terms:

"We need Russian gas every day. They need our money every year or two years. If, in the middle of a tough winter, we don’t have Russian gas, we are in trouble. But Russia is not in trouble if they get our money the day after".

Scaroni also confirmed what other energy analysts have said recently, namely, that the South Stream natural gas project from Russia to Europe has been thrown into uncertainty over the Ukraine tensions between Moscow and Brussels.

That project promised to boost gas supplies to the EU, which would probably have lowered costs to consumers. Now, thanks to the saber rattling of Washington and its tiny club of EU 'leaders', that project is in jeopardy.

What this points to is a huge disconnect between politicians in Washington and Europe and the wider population. That disconnect stems from deep economic and social issues related to the demise of capitalist society, but the latest debacle with Russia over Ukraine is bringing the public disaffection to the fore.

The Western public also knows that the Western news media are not telling the full story. The latter seem to be more committed to purveying a self-serving narrative for an elitist political agenda rather than revealing what is really at stake with regard to Ukraine.

Russian security measures on its border with Western-destabilized Ukraine and in the constitutionally reunited southern province of Crimea are distorted as monstrous acts of aggression. Russia’s legitimate cautionary national security measures are presented as an evil specter threatening to "splinter Europe" – in the words of German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.

This cartoon-like portrayal is bereft of salient facts, facts that are known to the public from its access to alternative news media. Such as the fact that Washington and its European allies are the ones who initiated the unrest over Ukraine by overseeing a coup d’├ętat in Kiev on February 23 – after three months of orchestrated street violence. It is Western governments that have violated international law and sovereignty – and not for the first time. The new unelected Western-backed regime in Kiev is composed of neo-Nazis and other fascists who have unleashed chaos and violence across Ukraine – the latest examples being attacks on pro-Russian officials and property, armed robberies of Russia-bound trains and the harassment of neutral media services.

There have been calls for mass murder and terrorism against Russian people by the coup plotters, including the Western elites’ darling pro-democracy princess, Yulia Timoshenko, who was recently caught relishing the idea of "whacking" Russians and turning Russian territory into ash from a nuclear strike.

But don’t let facts get in the way of a good story, as the Western elites might say. And that story is that Europe is nearly at war again because of "old barbaric habits". What’s more, it is America – "the brave, democratic America" – that is once again bringing Europe back to civilized peace and harmony, this time from Russian despotism, as opposed to Nazi fascism of before.

The trouble for Washington and its elite European allies is that the wider public is not buying this hackneyed narrative. The wider public rightly see US-led NATO aggression and lebensraum in Europe as the problem, not alleged Russian expansionism…

On the same day that Obama was lecturing Europeans about international law and civilized norms, his National Security Advisor on Russia, Michael McFaul was writing in the New York Times opinion pages. McFaul, who was recently the ambassador to Russia, wrote an astounding falsification of history in which he declared that Vladimir Putin was "a revisionist autocratic leader [who] instigated this new confrontation… similar to the last century, the ideological struggle between autocracy and democracy has returned to Europe," wrote McFaul. "We [the US] are ready to lead the free world in this new struggle".

This elite Western narrative espoused by Obama and his club of bankrupt European non-entity politicians has by now alienated a global audience at home and around the world. Certainly not in the Rembrandt class, but most people can now see elite Western posturing as a masterpiece of illusion.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Paint Thinner in Children's Cereal Exposed

A lot of home builders and painters will know what trisodium phosphate (TSP) is. But a lot of them don't know that they eat it for breakfast!

Even though it appears right on the ingredients label, a lot of people don't realize it's an industrial cleaning agent. It gets worse (see below video), the government doesn't even want you to clean with it because it's considered bad for the environment. It's an okay part of a complete breakfast though!

Nick Brannigan and Vicky LePage hit the streets of Las Vegas again to show people what's up:

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My Photo of the Day

Putin playing chess

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Russia under attack

"To neutralize Russia, Washington broke the Reagan-Gorbachev agreements and expanded NATO into former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire and now intends to bring former constituent parts of Russia herself–Georgia and Ukraine–into NATO. Washington withdrew from the treaty that banned anti-ballistic missiles and has established anti-ballistic missile bases on Russia’s frontier. Washington changed its nuclear war doctrine to permit nuclear first strike." ~~Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy

by Paul Craig Roberts

In a number of my articles I have explained that the Soviet Union served as a constraint on US power. The Soviet collapse unleashed the neoconservative drive for US world hegemony. Russia under Putin, China, and Iran are the only constraints on the neoconservative agenda.

Russia’s nuclear missiles and military technology make Russia the strongest military obstacle to US hegemony. To neutralize Russia, Washington broke the Reagan-Gorbachev agreements and expanded NATO into former constituent parts of the Soviet Empire and now intends to bring former constituent parts of Russia herself–Georgia and Ukraine–into NATO. Washington withdrew from the treaty that banned anti-ballistic missiles and has established anti-ballistic missile bases on Russia’s frontier. Washington changed its nuclear war doctrine to permit nuclear first strike.

All of this is aimed at degrading Russia’s deterrent, thereby reducing the ability of Russia to resist Washington’s will.

The Russian government (and also the government of Ukraine) foolishly permitted large numbers of US funded NGOs to operate as Washington’s agents under cover of “human rights organizations,” “building democracy,” etc. The “pussy riot” event was an operation designed to put Putin and Russia in a bad light. (The women were useful dupes.) The Western media attacks on the Sochi Olympics are part of the ridiculing and demonizing of Putin and Russia. Washington is determined that Putin and Russia will not be permitted any appearance of success in any area, whether diplomacy, sports, or human rights.

The American media is a Ministry of Propaganda for the government and the corporations and helps Washington paint Russia in bad colors. Stephen F. Cohen accurately describes US media coverage of Russia as a “tsunami of shamefully unprofessional and politically inflammatory articles.”

As a holdover from the Cold War, the US media retains the image of a free press that can be trusted. In truth, there is no free press in America (except for Internet sites). See for example: During the later years of the Clinton regime, the US government permitted 5 large conglomerates to concentrate the varied, dispersed and somewhat independent media.The value of these large mega-companies depends on their federal broadcast licenses.Therefore, the media dares not go against the government on any important issue. In addition, the media conglomerates are no longer run by journalists but by corporate advertising executives and former government officials, with an eye not on facts but on advertising revenues and access to government “sources.”

Washington is using the media to prepare the American people for confrontation with Russia and to influence Russians and other peoples in the world against Putin. Washington would love to see a weaker or more pliable Russian leader than Putin.

Many Russians are gullible. Having experienced communist rule and the chaos from collapse, they naively believe that America is the best place, the example for the world, the “white hat” that can be trusted and believed. This idiotic belief, which we see manifested in western Ukraine as the US destabilizes the country in preparation for taking it over, is an important weapon that the US uses to destabilize Russia.

Some Russians make apologies for Washington by explaining the anti-Russian rhetoric as simply a carryover from old stereotypes from the Cold War. “Old stereotypes” is a red herring, a misleading distraction. Washington is gunning for Russia. Russia is under attack, and if Russians do not realize this, they are history.

Many Russians are asleep at the switch, but the Izborsk Club is trying to wake them up. In an article (February 12) in the Russian weekly Zavtra, strategic and military experts warned that the Western use of protests to overturn the decision of the Ukraine government not to join the European Union had produced a situation in which a coup by fascist elements was a possibly. Such a coup would result in a fratricidal war in Ukraine and would constitute a serious “strategic threat to the Russian Federation.”

The experts concluded that should such a coup succeed, the consequences for Russia would be:

— Loss of Sevastopol as the base of the Russian Federation’s Black Sea Fleet;

— Purges of Russians in eastern and southern Ukraine, producing a flood of refugees;

— Loss of manufacturing capacities in Kiev, Dnepropetrovsk, Kharkov where
contract work is done for the Russian military;

— Suppression of the Russian speaking population by forcible Ukrainianization;

— The establishment of US and NATO military bases in Ukraine, including in Crimea
and the establishment of training centers for terrorists who would be set upon the
Caucasus, the Volga Basin, and perhaps Siberia.

— Spread of the orchestrated Kiev protests into non-Russian ethnicities in cities of
the Russian Federation.

The Russian strategists conclude that they “consider the situation taking shape in Ukraine to be catastrophic for the future of Russia.”

What is to be done? Here the strategic experts, who have correctly analyzed the situation, fall down. They call for a national media campaign to expose the nature of the takeover that is underway and for the government of the Russian Federation to invoke the Budapest Memorandum of 1994 in order to convene a conference of representatives of the governments of Russia, Ukraine, the USA, and Great Britain to deal with the threats to the Ukraine. In the event that the Budapest Memorandum governing the sovereignty of Ukraine is set aside by one or more of the parties, the experts propose that the Russian government, using the precedent of the Kennedy-Khrushchev negotiations that settled the 1962 Cuban Missile Crisis, negotiate directly with Washington a settlement of the developing crisis in Ukraine.

This is a pipe dream. The experts are indulging in self-deception. Washington is the perpetrator of the crisis in Ukraine and intends to take over Ukraine for the precise reasons that the experts list. It is a perfect plan for destabilizing Russia and for negating Putin’s successful diplomacy in preventing US military attack on Syria and Iran.

Essentially, if Washington succeeds in Ukraine, Russia would be eliminated as a constraint on US world hegemony, Only China would remain.

I suspected that Ukraine would come to a boiling point when Putin and Russia were preoccupied with the Sochi Olympics, leaving Russia unprepared. There is little doubt that Russia is faced with a major strategic threat. What are Russia’s real options? Certainly the options do not include any good will from Washington.

Possibly, Russia could operate from the American script. If Russia has drones, Russia could use drones like Washington does and use them to assassinate the leaders of the Washington-sponsored protests. Or Russia could send in Special Forces teams to eliminate the agents who are operating against Russia. If the EU continues to support the destabilization of Ukraine, Russia could cut off oil and gas supplies to Washington’s European puppet states.

Alternatively, the Russian Army could occupy western Ukraine while arrangements are made to partition Ukraine, which until recently was part of Russia for 200 years. It is certain that the majority of residents in eastern Ukraine prefer Russia to the EU. It is even possible that the brainwashed elements in the western half might stop foaming at the mouth long enough to comprehend that being in US/EU hands means being looted as per Latvia and Greece.

I am outlining the least dangerous outcomes of the crisis that Washington and its stupid European puppet states have created, not making recommendations to Russia. The worst outcome is a dangerous war. If the Russians sit on their hands, the situation will become unbearable for them. As Ukraine moves toward NATO membership and suppression of the Russian population, the Russian government will have to attack Ukraine and overthrow the foreign regime or surrender to the Americans. The likely outcome of the audacious strategic threat with which Washington is confronting Russia would be nuclear war.

The neoconservative Victoria Nuland sits in her State Department office happily choosing the members of the next Ukrainian government. Is this US official oblivious to the risk that Washington’s meddling in the internal affairs of Ukraine and Russia could be triggering nuclear war? Are President Obama and Congress aware that there is an Assistant Secretary of State who is provoking armageddon?

Insouciant Americans are paying no attention and have no idea that a handful of neoconservative ideologues are pushing the world toward destruction.

Dr. Roberts was awarded the Treasury Department’s Meritorious Service Award for “his outstanding contributions to the formulation of United States economic policy.”

In 1987 the French government recognized him as “the artisan of a renewal in economic science and policy after half a century of state interventionism” and inducted him into the Legion of Honor.

He is listed in Who’s Who in America and Who’s Who in the World.

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Ukraine: Swastikas, A Cool Russian Head, "International Community" Threatens World War 111

"In the practical application of policies, our Western partners - the United States first and foremost - prefer to be guided not by international law, but by the right of strength. They believe in their exceptionalism, that they decide on the fate of the world, that they are always right."~~ Vladimir Putin

by Felicity Arbuthnot

US Secretary of State, John Kerry representing a country which makes Genghis Khan look like a wimp when it comes to illegal invasions, still retains the prize for jaw dropper of the decade: "You just don't, in the 21st century, behave in 19th century fashion by invading another country on completely trumped up pre-text", he pontificated on CBS' "Face the Nation."

On the thirteenth anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq and the total destruction of it's "sovereignty and territorial integrity", by America and Britain, Prime Minister David Cameron has scuttled off to Brussels for a meeting of European Union Ministers to agree (on) a "robust response" to Russia - who has fired not a shot, invaded no one and threatened nothing except to respond that if sanctions were imposed on Russia they might consider a trading response. Fair enough, surely?

The government of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea called a referendum, distinctly disturbed by the threat by Kiev's US proxy government that the Russian language was to have no status, and Jews and blacks would not be tolerated.

A fraction under 97% voted to cede to Russia, with a turnout of over 80% - an electoral enthusiasm of which Western governments could only dream.

As much of the main stream media and the usual politicians thundered of voting under pressure or even at gunpoint, one hundred and thirty five international observers from twenty three countries said, consistently, they saw no pressure of any sort, and they had "not registered any violations of voting rules."

President Putin also points out the double standards:

"Our Western partners created the Kosovo precedent with their own hands. In a situation absolutely the same as the one in Crimea they recognized Kosovo's secession from Serbia legitimate while arguing that no permission from a country's central authority for a unilateral declaration of independence is necessary"

Further reminding that the UN International Court of Justice agreed to those arguments.

"It's beyond double standards. It's a kind of baffling, primitive and blatant cynicism. One can't just twist things to fit interests, to call something white on one day and black on the next one."

Clearly referring the threats and onslaughts on sovereign nations of recent years, he added, on being accused of violating international law: "Well, it's good that they at least recalled that there is international law ... Better late than never", commenting with some validity, that his nation's stance on Crimea was in no way similar.

And there is that ill-used (by the usual suspects) "Reponsibility to Protect", defined as including: "crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing and their incitement", precisely what the bunch that has taken over the government in Kiev has threatened, with the Jewish community in Kiev feeling so besieged that: "Ukrainian Rabbi Moshe Reuven Azman, called on Kiev's Jews to leave the city and even the country if possible ..."

The UN definition of Responsibility to Protect also stipulates that States have a responsibility to "encourage and assist" in fulfilling responsibility in protection of those threatened and at risk. Russia has arguably done as requested by its former State and neighbour and as laid out by the UN. Yes, of course there is self interest, with NATO encroaching ever closer and the country's Black Sea Fleet based in Crimea and NATO countries, the US and UK planning military exercises with Ukraine - but Russia's actions have been a model of peaceable, threat free strategy.

President Putin expressed all admirably:

"Russia is an independent and active participant of international relations. Just like any nation it has national interests that must be taken into consideration and respected."

He laid out the double standards:

"In the practical application of policies, our Western partners - the United States first and foremost - prefer to be guided not by international law, but by the right of strength. They believe in their exceptionalism, that they decide on the fate of the world, that they are always right."

Law was disregarded in Yugoslavia in 1999, bombed by NATO with no UN mandate, Afghanistan, Iraq. Perversion of the UN Resolution on Libya, which was for a no fly zone, not bombing the country in to submission - a tragic, shameful travesty with the horror of the murder of the country's Leader, most of his family, over which Hillary Clinton laughed as she said: "We came, we saw, he died." Clinton of course, has now called Putin "Hitler".

The "coloured revolutions" in Europe and the Arab world were simply more of the same by other means, Putin stated, but in: "Ukraine the West crossed a red line", with Russia's wish for dialogue and compromise ignored.

The red line was in that: "The coup-imposed authorities in Kiev voiced their desire to join NATO, and such a move would pose an imminent threat to Russia."

Meanwhile, escaped from the American asylum, Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. stands resolutely with Baltic States in support of the Ukrainian people against Russian aggression. "Russia cannot escape the fact that the world is changing and rejecting outright their behavior", Biden said, after meeting Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite and Latvian President Andris Berzins. What aggression exactly?

However, as ever, the all (law?) is more complex: "Current international law combines two contradictory principles: a government's territorial integrity on the one hand, and a nation's right to self-determination on the other, according (to) Maxim Bratersky of the Center for Comprehensive European and International Studies at the Higher School of Economics in Moscow."

The West recognized Kosovo's independence from Serbia in 2008, based (on) the principle of right to self-determination. "Kosovo is a mirror image of the current situation in Crimea", says Bratersky:

"In sending troops into Kosovo, NATO did not allow the Serbs to intervene in the referendum. The UN did not give NATO's forces a mandate to send troops into Kosovo."

He also points out that South Sudan ceded from Sudan in 2011 (with world leaders or their Ambassadors attending the celebrations). East Timor became independent of Indonesia, both endorsed by the UN. Mutual agreement ruled, as with Crimea and the Russian Federation.

In 1997, the British returned Hong Kong to Chinese jurisdiction.

"But on the whole, the system of international law does not function. The side that has the most bayonets wins," Bratersky states. "Kosovo is a vivid example of this."

In trade and energy supplies, Russia has a lot of bayonets and the coffers of the EU and US are woefully low.

David Cameron has grand plans to "celebrate" the centenary of the start of World War 1 this year, he still seems hell bent on celebrating it by starting World War 111.

As this is finished, in response to the US placing travel bans on Russian politicians and public figures, rather than engaging in a diplomatic exchange of views, Russia has: "announced sanctions against several advisers to President Obama as well as a number of lawmakers, including House Speaker John Boehner and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid - retaliation after President Obama announced economic sanctions against Russia.

The sanctions ban Boehner, Reid, and Senators Mary Landrieu, Daniel Coats, Robert Menendez, John McCain, as well as Obama advisers Caroline Atkinson, Daniel Pfeiffer, and Benjamin Rhodes from entering Russia.

Someone please chuck that Obama Nobel Peace Prize in to the Potomac.

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Monday, March 17, 2014

The Ukraine Crisis - What You're Not Being Told

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Is the Crimean Referendum Legal?

"By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter" ~~ The Charter of The United Nations.

By Alexander Mezyaev

On March 16 Crimea held a referendum to define its fate. The decision has evoked an extremely nervous reaction in the West. US President Barack Obama said it violated international law but never adduced any legal arguments to support the statement. The same applies to other statements on this account; they all lack legal substantiations.

The United Nations International Court of Justice handed down an advisory opinion in 2010 saying unambiguously that the unilateral declaration of independence is in accordance with the international law.

A referendum based decision is not a “unilateral declaration of independence”. The Court’s ruling was related to the unilateral declaration of independence by the illegitimate government of Kosovo and Metohija. In the case of Crimea, the government is democratically elected and legitimate. There are no international norms to be violated; such norms simply do not exist.

Some lawyers have started to come up with “legal” substantiations for the Western governments’ statements. But they look to be too hastily prepared to prove anything.

They often say the referendum violates the principle of Ukraine’s territorial integrity. Sounds solid enough at first glance, but it has no legal basis. To define what the “principle of territorial integrity” means one should refer to The Declaration on Principles of International Law concerning Friendly Relations and Co-operation among States in Accordance with the Charter of the United Nations adopted by the resolution 2625 (XXV) of the United Nations General Assembly on October 24, 1970. Actually the principle of territorial integrity is “deluded” by the principle of the use of force or the threat to use force. So the principle we’re talking about has the following definition:

The principle that States shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations». Its content is as follows

Every State has the duty to refrain in its international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the purposes of the United Nations. Such a threat or use of force constitutes a violation of international law and the Charter of the United Nations and shall never be employed as a means of settling international issues.

The territorial integrity is recalled in the context of outside intervention. The principle has no relation to internal politics. The Western politicians are trying to make it look like if there were some principle of territorial integrity which would say that the territory of a state cannot be changed. As one can see for himself, it’s not the case.

If the Western lawyers refer to the 1970 Declaration on Principles of International Law, they adopt a selective approach. The document contains the principle of non-interference into the internal affairs of states. It is formally called “The principle concerning the duty not to intervene in matters within the domestic jurisdiction of any State, in accordance with the Charter.” It goes like this:

"No State or group of States has the right to intervene, directly or indirectly, for any reason whatever, in the internal or external affairs of any other State. Consequently, armed intervention and all other forms of interference or attempted threats against the personality of the State or against its political, economic and cultural elements, are in violation of international law."

The declaration states clearly that interference cannot be justified no matter what the reasons are or how important it may seem to be for outside forces. “Any” interference and “any” threats are forbidden. Interference and threats – that is exactly what the Western states are doing, for instance, the interference into the affairs of Crimea by obstinately repeating the statements about the referendum being “illegitimate”, or threats addressed to Russia.

Finally, the very same Declaration contains the principle of self-determination of peoples. It reads:

"By virtue of the principle of equal rights and self-determination of peoples enshrined in the Charter of the United Nations, all peoples have the right freely to determine, without external interference, their political status and to pursue their economic, social and cultural development, and every State has the duty to respect this right in accordance with the provisions of the Charter."

No interference is mentioned again as the West is constantly meddling into the affairs of Crimea.

Why do they adopt such a selective approach while citing international documents?

It should be noted that no way could Russia’s actions be compared with what the West does – Russia acts upon the invitation of the Ukraine’s legal authority. Here is the mismatch between the international law and what Western politicians say and do. They realize well that the authority which has invited Russia is legal. That’s why the discussion is adroitly made to slide to the issue of “legitimacy” which is not a legal, but rather a scientific notion.

Talking about the interference into the process of self-determination, there again Russia is invited by the legal authorities. In contrast nobody in Crimea has invited the West. Thus the reference to the 1970 Declaration on International Law does not provide the West with any legal arguments. The West, itself, is in violation of the document.

Perhaps the Western colleagues, who affirm that the Crimea referendum is “in violation of international law” mean something else? Then why not make it precise? Let’s try to help them.

Maybe they don’t mean the referendum itself but rather the questions offered for consideration which could breach the international law in case the majority say yes? Perhaps they are afraid that the population of Crimea will support the peninsula’s accession to Russia? But in this case again there will be no violation of international law. The Declaration on the Principles of International Law states:

"The establishment of a sovereign and independent State, the free association or integration with an independent State or the emergence into any other political status freely determined by a people constitute modes of implementing the right of self-determination by that people."

Then maybe the Western colleagues want to say that the international law is breached because the referendum is held only in Crimea, not the whole Ukraine? Then the question arises, what international legal norm is violated by a referendum held in Crimea only?

Maybe they are too shy to adduce this argument because they have failed to find an explanation why they were the first to recognize the independence of South Sudan, separated from the Republic of Sudan as a result of referendum held only in the south of the country? The referendum was held there under the United Nations aegis. The same applies to the referendum conducted by the United Nations in Eritrea separated from Ethiopia to be universally recognized. Then it should be explained why the West has not declared the referendum to be held in Scotland in September 2014 to be in violation of international law as it will not take place in other regions of Great Britain?

The last hope for Western lawyers is the ruling of Canada’s Supreme Court in 1998 saying the separation of Quebec is impossible on the basis of a referendum held in Quebec only instead of an all-Canada vote. This is a great argument but with a string attached: Canada does not rule the world yet and therefore its court decisions are not incorporated into international law.

So what do Western governments and their lawyers mean when they say the Crimea referendum is “in violation of international law”? The lack of clear-cut definitions and weighty legal arguments is egregious. It proves that they understand well the referendum in Crimea does not violate any international legal norms whatever. To the contrary, it’s an example of compliance with international law by the people of Crimea.

Alexander Mezyaev is a Russian lawyer, Chief of the Department of the Constitutional and International Law of the Public Management University of Tatarstan. He lives in Kazan, Russia.

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Friday, March 14, 2014

Obama's War Against Civilization

"It is almost moot to accuse the Obama administration of interfering with the internal affairs of other nations, since this president does not recognize the elementary rights of nation states. National sovereignty has been replaced, in the Age of Obama, by an arbitrary “humanitarian” interventionist imperative that can only be exercised by the most powerful. This is not law, but its opposite: “anti-law,” promulgated by a decaying, outlaw empire."

[RINF]The world is learning what U.S. senatorial candidate Barack Obama meant on October 2, 2002, when he told a Chicago crowd that he did not oppose all wars. “What I am opposed to is a dumb war. What I am opposed to is a rash war.” We now know that President Obama is committed to full spectrum, no-holds-barred, war-without-boundaries against all potential resistance to U.S. imperial rule, anywhere on the planet — a project he considers neither rash nor dumb.

At stake is survival — not of the people and government of the United States, which face no existential threat from any quarter, but of an empire whose self-defined strategic interests encompass the entire globe. There is a terrifying logic to Washington’s frenzy: when the systemic structure is collapsing, it must be propped up everywhere.

President Obama‘s contribution to the disintegration of the global order is awesome; he is a great innovator. Whereas other U.S. leaders were content to simply violate international law with regularity, Obama has rewritten the statutes. The very concept of national sovereignty has been discarded in favor of a kind of universal parole status overseen by a pyramidal “international community” with the United States at the top.

National self-determination, the bedrock of international law — is now treated as a franchise, to be issued or withdrawn at the whim of any coalition the U.S. is able to assemble. For Haiti, a simple troika of the U.S., Canada and France constituted a quorum empowered to erase 200 years of independence. For Libya, the recognized government’s capital crime was its threat to quell a jihadist revolt in one of its cities.

The Syrian state has been condemned for resisting tens of thousands of foreign-financed killers who recognize no earthly law whatsoever. The U.S. backs a coup against the lawfully elected government of Ukraine by the direct descendants of Nazis. Simultaneously, Obama threatens the democratically elected government of Venezuela with dire consequences if it harms a hair on the head of rioters bankrolled and directed by Washington.

“This is not law, but its opposite.”

It is almost moot to accuse the Obama administration of interfering with the internal affairs of other nations, since this president does not recognize the elementary rights of nation states. National sovereignty has been replaced, in the Age of Obama, by an arbitrary “humanitarian” interventionist imperative that can only be exercised by the most powerful. This is not law, but its opposite: “anti-law,” promulgated by a decaying, outlaw empire.

If nations have no sovereign rights, then their inhabitants have no right to self-determination — which is the point of Obama‘s imperial project. Washington’s bid to render all the world’s peoples subject to its “humanitarian” veto of their self-determinationist rights represents a devolution of civilization.

In liquidating the fundamental tenets of international law, Obama normalizes the most diabolical crimes: crimes against peace. He has redefined war, for U.S. purposes, as limited to conflicts in which Americans are killed in action. Thus, he told Congress in 2011, the massive bombing of Libya did not constitute a war, or even “hostilities,” since no Americans were killed.

No rules of sovereignty, no rules of war, no individual or national rights that a superpower is bound to respect. The United States, under Obama‘s leadership, is building an infrastructure for fascism on a planetary scale.

Now you know why the U.S. is spying on all the peoples of the Earth: it’s trying to put our species on lockdown. That’s Obama‘s mode of war.

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Wednesday, March 05, 2014

What Putin's iphone must look like right about now

Photo courtesy; Young Conservatives

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“Everyone here thinks you’re a jackass.”~~Obama to Putin

“If you think I’m the only one who feels this way, you’re kidding yourself,” Mr. Obama said, jabbing his finger in the direction of the Russian President’s face. “Ask Angela Merkel. Ask David Cameron. Ask the Turkish guy. Every last one of them thinks you’re a dick.”~~ Obama to Putin

ST. PETERSBURG (The Borowitz Report)—Hopes for a positive G20 summit crumbled today as President Obama blurted to Russia’s Vladimir Putin at a joint press appearance, “Everyone here thinks you’re a jackass.”

The press corps appeared stunned by the uncharacteristic outburst from Mr. Obama, who then unleashed a ten-minute tirade at the stone-faced Russian President.

“Look, I’m not just talking about Snowden and Syria,” Mr. Obama said. “What about Pussy Riot? What about your anti-gay laws? Total jackass moves, my friend.”

Jackass moves??? I don't think so!

As Mr. Putin narrowed his eyes in frosty silence, Mr. Obama seemed to warm to his topic.

“If you think I’m the only one who feels this way, you’re kidding yourself,” Mr. Obama said, jabbing his finger in the direction of the Russian President’s face. “Ask Angela Merkel. Ask David Cameron. Ask the Turkish guy. Every last one of them thinks you’re a dick.”

Putin swimming in freezing Siberian lake bareback. Jackass moves??? I don't think so!

Shortly after Mr. Obama’s volcanic performance, Mr. Putin released a terse official statement, reading, “I should be afraid of this skinny man? I wrestle bears.”

After one day of meetings, the G20 nations voted unanimously on a resolution that said maybe everyone should just go home.

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Monday, February 24, 2014

WhatsApp Lets Facebook Spy, Track, Record, Invade, & Monitor EVERYTHING You Do

"The number of things that WhatsApp/Facebook can do is astounding.

As if Facebook was not creepy enough already, now it can do the following things, including audio/video recording you, saving and even drectly calling all your contacts, modify/delete everything on your SD Card, have full internet access to your phone, accounts, and much more."

[] Remember Facebook's founder and CEO Owner Mark Zuckerberg mocking his naive users and calling them "dumb fucks" for "trusting" him? Now it's getting even better as a popular application which Facebook recently acquired allows the corporation a vast number of liberties via the users iphone.

WhatsApp was in the news on Saturday February 23 because the service went down for over five hours. At the very same time, there was a massive drug bust in Mexico, with an alleged drug kingpin being captured in a joint U.S./Mexico law enforcement operation. I am not certain that Facebook purposely turned off whatsApp to thwart the suspect's use of the app during the arrest, but the timing is certainly suspicious.

Nevertheless, I had installed WhatsApp [] onto my phone some time back, before Facebook purchased it, and when the WhatsApp service was down Saturday, I went on my phone to look for more information about it to try and solve the problem.

That is when I came across the PERMISSIONS listed on the application index.

These are things that all users must agree to before installing the app on thir phone.

The number of things that WhatsApp/Facebook can do is astounding.

As if Facebook was not creepy enough already, now it can do the following things, including audio/video recording you, saving and even drectly calling all your contacts, modify/delete everything on your SD Card, have full internet access to your phone, accounts, and much more.

Here is the video I made discussing the matter and showing you the actual WhatsApp terms.

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Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Monday, February 10, 2014

Quote of the day

"The time when we could condemn Israel and think that that was enough has long passed. The Israelis do not care about condemnation. They are self-righteous. We must now take action against them. We must impose sanctions. If the spineless Obama will not do it, we must do it—even unilaterally. We must press the European community for it to be done" ~~Sir Gerald Kaufman, Jewish MP for Gorton, Manchester

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Thursday, January 23, 2014

"Mr Blair, this is a citizen's arrest!"

"I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said: 'Mr Blair, this is a citizen's arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge,'"~~ Twiggy Garcia, a former employee of Tramshed Restaurant

As reported by Robin De Peyer

Tony Blair was targeted in an attempted citizen's arrest last week as he dined with family and friends in a London restaurant.

The former Prime Minister was reportedly confronted by a staff member who accused him of being a war criminal as he ate at the Tramshed restaurant in Shoreditch on Friday evening.

Named as Twiggy Garcia, the staff member said he noticed an "eerie presence" in the upmarket steak restaurant before realising Mr Blair was among the customers. The man then approached the former Prime Minister.

"I went over to him, put my hand on his shoulder and said: 'Mr Blair, this is a citizen's arrest for a crime against peace, namely your decision to launch an unprovoked war against Iraq. I am inviting you to accompany me to a police station to answer the charge,'" the former employee told Vice.

"He said: 'No, shouldn’t you be worried about Syria?' and I replied that I can only address things that are within my grasp at any one time."

After spending some time engaged in debate with the former Labour Prime Minister - who now focuses his energy on the Middle East peace process - the man said he realised one of Mr Blair's sons had gone to find security.

Quitting on the spot, Mr Garcia said he then left the restaurant immediately.

A spokesman for Mr Blair's office said: "Mr Blair did offer to discuss the issue – that offer was declined and the individual walked off. Nothing else happened. Everyone is fine and they had a great time at the restaurant."

A Tramshed spokesman declined to comment on the incident.

Mr Blair has since insisted he is unruffled by such attempts to place him under arrest.

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Tuesday, December 31, 2013

American Psychosis

"We started borrowing to maintain a level of consumption as well as an empire we could no longer afford. We began to use force, especially in the Middle East, to feed our insatiable thirst for cheap oil. We substituted the illusion of growth and prosperity for real growth and prosperity.

The bill is now due. America’s most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals but those who sold us the perverted ideology of free-market capitalism and globalization. They have dynamited the very foundations of our society. In the 17th century these speculators would have been hung."~~ Chris Hedges

by Chris Hedges

The United States, locked in the kind of twilight disconnect that grips dying empires, is a country entranced by illusions. It spends its emotional and intellectual energy on the trivial and the absurd. It is captivated by the hollow stagecraft of celebrity culture as the walls crumble.

This celebrity culture giddily licenses a dark voyeurism into other people’s humiliation, pain, weakness and betrayal. Day after day, one lurid saga after another, whether it is Michael Jackson, Britney Spears [or Miley Cyrus], enthralls the country … despite bank collapses, wars, mounting poverty or the criminality of its financial class.

The virtues that sustain a nation-state and build community, from honesty to self-sacrifice to transparency to sharing, are ridiculed each night on television as rubes stupid enough to cling to this antiquated behavior are voted off reality shows. Fellow competitors for prize money and a chance for fleeting fame, cheered on by millions of viewers, elect to “disappear” the unwanted.

In the final credits of the reality show America’s Next Top Model, a picture of the woman expelled during the episode vanishes from the group portrait on the screen. Those cast aside become, at least to the television audience, nonpersons. Celebrities that can no longer generate publicity, good or bad, vanish. Life, these shows persistently teach, is a brutal world of unadulterated competition and a constant quest for notoriety and attention.

Our culture of flagrant self-exaltation, hardwired in the American character, permits the humiliation of all those who oppose us. We believe, after all, that because we have the capacity to wage war we have a right to wage war. Those who lose deserve to be erased. Those who fail, those who are deemed ugly, ignorant or poor, should be belittled and mocked.

Human beings are used and discarded like Styrofoam boxes that held junk food. And the numbers of superfluous human beings are swelling the unemployment offices, the prisons and the soup kitchens.

It is the cult of self that is killing the United States. This cult has within it the classic traits of psychopaths: superficial charm, grandiosity and self-importance; a need for constant stimulation; a penchant for lying, deception and manipulation; and the incapacity for remorse or guilt. Michael Jackson, from his phony marriages to the portraits of himself dressed as royalty to his insatiable hunger for new toys to his questionable relationships with young boys, had all these qualities. And this is also the ethic promoted by corporations.

It is the ethic of unfettered capitalism. It is the misguided belief that personal style and personal advancement, mistaken for individualism, are the same as democratic equality. It is the nationwide celebration of image over substance, of illusion over truth. And it is why investment bankers blink in confusion when questioned about the morality of the billions in profits they made by selling worthless toxic assets to investors.

We have a right, in the cult of the self, to get whatever we desire. We can do anything, even belittle and destroy those around us, including our friends, to make money, to be happy and to become famous. Once fame and wealth are achieved, they become their own justification, their own morality. How one gets there is irrelevant. It is this perverted ethic that gave us investment houses like Goldman Sachs … that willfully trashed the global economy and stole money from tens of millions of small shareholders who had bought stock in these corporations for retirement or college.

The heads of these corporations, like the winners on a reality television program who lied and manipulated others to succeed, walked away with hundreds of millions of dollars in bonuses and compensation. The ethic of Wall Street is the ethic of celebrity. It is fused into one bizarre, perverted belief system and it has banished the possibility of the country returning to a reality-based world or avoiding internal collapse. A society that cannot distinguish reality from illusion dies.

The tantalizing illusions offered by our consumer culture, however, are vanishing for most citizens as we head toward collapse. The ability of the corporate state to pacify the country by extending credit and providing cheap manufactured goods to the masses is gone. The jobs we are shedding are not coming back, as the White House economist Lawrence Summers tacitly acknowledges when he talks of a “jobless recovery.”

The belief that democracy lies in the choice between competing brands and the accumulation of vast sums of personal wealth at the expense of others is exposed as a fraud. Freedom can no longer be conflated with the free market. The travails of the poor are rapidly becoming the travails of the middle class, especially as unemployment insurance runs out. And class warfare, once buried under the happy illusion that we were all going to enter an age of prosperity with unfettered capitalism, is returning with a vengeance.

America is sinking under trillions in debt it can never repay and stays afloat by frantically selling about $2 billion in Treasury bonds a day to the Chinese. It saw 2.8 million people lose their homes in 2009 to foreclosure or bank repossessions – nearly 8,000 people a day – and stands idle as they are joined by another 2.4 million people this year. It refuses to prosecute the Bush administration for obvious war crimes, including the use of torture, and sees no reason to dismantle Bush’s secrecy laws or restore habeas corpus.

Its infrastructure is crumbling. Deficits are pushing individual states to bankruptcy and forcing the closure of everything from schools to parks. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which have squandered trillions of dollars, appear endless. There are 50 million Americans in real poverty and tens of millions of Americans in a category called “near poverty.”

One in eight Americans – and one in four children – depend on food stamps to eat. And yet, in the midst of it all, we continue to be a country consumed by happy talk and happy thoughts. We continue to embrace the illusion of inevitable progress, personal success and rising prosperity. Reality is not considered an impediment to desire.

When a culture lives within an illusion it perpetuates a state of permanent infantilism or childishness. As the gap widens between the illusion and reality, as we suddenly grasp that it is our home being foreclosed or our job that is not coming back, we react like children. We scream and yell for a savior, someone who promises us revenge, moral renewal and new glory.

It is not a new story. A furious and sustained backlash by a betrayed and angry populace, one unprepared intellectually, emotionally and psychologically for collapse, will sweep aside the Democrats and most of the Republicans and will usher America into a new dark age.

It was the economic collapse in Yugoslavia that gave us Slobodan Milosevic. It was the Weimar Republic that vomited up Adolf Hitler. And it was the breakdown in Tsarist Russia that opened the door for Lenin and the Bolsheviks.

A cabal of proto-fascist misfits, from Christian demagogues to loudmouth talk show hosts, whom we naively dismiss as buffoons, will find a following with promises of revenge and moral renewal. And as in all totalitarian societies, those who do not pay fealty to the illusions imposed by the state become the outcasts, the persecuted.

The decline of American empire began long ago before the current economic meltdown or the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. It began before the first Gulf War or Ronald Reagan. It began when we shifted, in the words of Harvard historian Charles Maier, from an “empire of production” to an “empire of consumption.”

By the end of the Vietnam War, when the costs of the war ate away at Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society and domestic oil production began its steady, inexorable decline, we saw our country transformed from one that primarily produced to one that primarily consumed.

We started borrowing to maintain a level of consumption as well as an empire we could no longer afford. We began to use force, especially in the Middle East, to feed our insatiable thirst for cheap oil. We substituted the illusion of growth and prosperity for real growth and prosperity.

The bill is now due. America’s most dangerous enemies are not Islamic radicals but those who sold us the perverted ideology of free-market capitalism and globalization. They have dynamited the very foundations of our society. In the 17th century these speculators would have been hung. Today they run the government and consume billions in taxpayer subsidies.

As the pressure mounts, as the despair and desperation reach into larger and larger segments of the populace, the mechanisms of corporate and government control are being bolstered to prevent civil unrest and instability. The emergence of the corporate state always means the emergence of the security state.

This is why the Bush White House pushed through the Patriot Act (and its renewal), the suspension of habeas corpus, the practice of “extraordinary rendition,” warrantless wiretapping on American citizens and the refusal to ensure free and fair elections with verifiable ballot-counting. The motive behind these measures is not to fight terrorism or to bolster national security. It is to seize and maintain internal control. It is about controlling us.

And yet, even in the face of catastrophe, mass culture continues to assure us that if we close our eyes, if we visualize what we want, if we have faith in ourselves, if we tell God that we believe in miracles, if we tap into our inner strength, if we grasp that we are truly exceptional, if we focus on happiness, our lives will be harmonious and complete.

This cultural retreat into illusion, whether peddled by positive psychologists, by Hollywood or by Christian preachers, is magical thinking. It turns worthless mortgages and debt into wealth. It turns the destruction of our manufacturing base into an opportunity for growth. It turns alienation and anxiety into a cheerful conformity. It turns a nation that wages illegal wars and administers offshore penal colonies where it openly practices torture into the greatest democracy on earth. And it keeps us from fighting back.

Resistance movements will have to look now at the long night of slavery, the decades of oppression in the Soviet Union and the curse of fascism for models. The goal will no longer be the possibility of reforming the system but of protecting truth, civility and culture from mass contamination. It will require the kind of schizophrenic lifestyle that characterizes all totalitarian societies.

Our private and public demeanors will often have to stand in stark contrast. Acts of defiance will often be subtle and nuanced. They will be carried out not for short term gain but the assertion of our integrity. Rebellion will have an ultimate if not easily definable purpose. The more we retreat from the culture at large the more room we will have to carve out lives of meaning, the more we will be able to wall off the flood of illusions disseminated by mass culture and the more we will retain sanity in an insane world. The goal will become the ability to endure.

Chris Hedges, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for the New York Times, is the author of several books including the best sellers War Is a Force That Gives Us Meaning and Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle.

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A 'Presidential' New Year Thought

Photo courtesy

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

by Stephen Lendman

Until July 2011, Sudan was Africa's largest country. Balkanization changed things. It's now the third largest.

South Sudan broke away. It did so by national referendum. Ordinary people were lied to. They were told independence would elevate living standards.

Nothing changed. Business as usual continues. Internal conflict exacerbates things. Sudan's history reflects longstanding violence. Ordinary people suffer most. More on this below.

Obama supported division. Omar al-Bashir's Khartoum government is targeted for regime change. Division was step one.

At issue is Khartoum's sovereign independence. Its ties with Iran. It's supplying China with Sudanese oil. Its support for Palestinian rights.

Washington was involved in balkanizing Sudan. So were EU nations and Israel. They funded, armed and trained South Sudan Liberation Army (SSLA) forces. They supported other anti-al-Bashir elements.

They fueled violence. They wrongfully blamed Khartoum. They want US-led NATO involved. Humanitarian intervention is pretext for advancing America's imperium.

Most important is Washington's African agenda. It's more than about oil. It's for vast African riches.

In December 2006, the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) was authorized. On February 6, 2007, it was announced.

On October 1, 2007, it was established. On October 1, 2008, it became operational. It's mission is controlling Africa's riches.

South Sudan is especially oil rich. Its other resources include gold, silver, diamonds, timber, limestone, iron ore, copper, chromium ore, zinc, tungsten, mica, and rich agricultural land.

Obama's on vacation in Hawaii. On December 21, a White House press release commented on South Sudan.

Four US military personnel were wounded, it said. They were "attempting to evacuate American citizens in Bor."

Obama "underscored the urgency of helping to support efforts to resolve (internal differences) through dialogue."

Dominance, not dialogue, is prioritized. Dozens of US forces were deployed to South Sudan. Expect others to follow.

Obama is getting America involved in more conflict. Doing so is part of Washington's longstanding imperial agenda.

On Thursday, Obama said South Sudan "stands at the precipice." Opposition forces control Bor. Juba is South Sudan's capital. Bor lies about 125 miles north.

South Sudanese army spokesman, Col. Philip Aruer, said Juba was being heavily shelled. Obama lied saying:

"In 2011, millions of South Sudanese voted to forge a new nation, founded on the promise of a more peaceful and prosperous future for all of South Sudan's people."

"In recent years, against great odds, South Sudan has made great progress toward breaking the cycle of violence that characterized much of its history."

"Today, that future is at risk." America's involvement heightens it. In a letter to Congress, Obama said he deployed 45 US troops "to support the security of US personnel and our Embassy."

Expect others to follow. Conflict killed hundreds, perhaps thousands. No one knows for sure. UN Blue Helmets were attacked. They're more enforcers and occupiers than peacekeepers. Their presence makes things worse, not better.

A UN statement said two UN Mission to South Sudan (UNMISS) personnel were killed. The UN's Akobo base was attacked.

South Sudanese President Salva Kiir said soldiers loyal to former Vice President Riek Machar want him ousted by coup d'etat force.

Machar accused Kiir of attacking rival elements. He admitted wanting to be South Sudan's next leader. His forces control oil rich areas.

Machar's Sudan People's Liberation Movement opposes Kiir's Sudan People's Liberation Army (SPLA).

Ban Ki-moon issued his usual pro-Western statement. He did so through his spokesperson. He ignored core issues needing to be addressed.

He urged both sides "to demonstrate compromise and leadership on behalf of the Southern Sudanese people, and to resolve their personal difference through dialogue immediately."

In other words, he wants imperial interests supported. He doesn't give a damn about ordinary people anywhere.

UN spokesperson Farhan Haq said conditions are worsening. "(O)f particular concern" is what's ongoing in "Juba, Jonglei, Unity, Upper Nile and lakes States."

"Right now, between 35,000 and 40,000 civilians are seeking refuge in UN bases across the country," he added.

"In Juba, the Mission has strengthened troop presence, including with patrolling."

UNMISS personnel "came under sustained attack" inside their compound.

Operations continue to evacuate vulnerable Blue Helmets. OCHA (Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs) noted concentrations of displaced people.

The World Health Organization said Juba's Teaching Hospital received hundreds of patients since last Sunday. Around half are seriously injured.

Unity (aka Western Upper Nile) is one of 10 South Sudanese states. It's oil rich. China's National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC) is involved. Washington wants US oil giants replacing it.

CNPC's workers were evacuated to Juba. Beijing's Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said all Chinese citizens are safe.

"Due to the current situation, some Chinese companies are organizing evacuations,." she explained.

Unity is ground zero for government v. opposition control. It's the oil, stupid. It's other valued resources.

Senior military defections split Kiir's SPLA. On Friday, Major General James Koang Choul was the latest.

On December 15, Kiir denounced Machar on state TV. He did so in military attire. In civilian dress, he's often seen wearing a black cowboy hat. George Bush gave it to him years earlier.

He called Machar a "prophet of doom." He accused him of attempting a coup.

On December 19, Al Jazeera interviewed Machar. It did so from a secret location. Days earlier, he barely escaped death, he said.

South Sudanese forces attacked his residence. They did so "with tank shells," he added. They burned it.

It's now "rubble." His bodyguards "were summarily executed. (His) life was in danger. (His) colleagues were being arrested for no reason," he claimed.

"They are not plotters. It was not a coup. Nobody wants that." He's being used, he said, "as a scapegoat." Kiir, he claims, wants the ruling SPLM party purged of rivals.

Last July, he ousted various cabinet members. He fired Machar. Media control was tightened. In August 2012, US advisor Ted Dagne was expelled. He supported South Sudan's independence.

From 2009 - 2012, Cameron Hudson was Obama's Sudan envoy. Washington and other Western governments collaborated with Mayardit. They helped him "balance (his) books and create the illusion of institutions," said Hudson.

People in charge aren't "technocrats," he added. "(N)ow (things are) breaking down along (longstanding) ethnic lines."

Post-WW II, civil war raged twice in Sudan: from 1955 - 1972 and from 1983 - 2005. Whether today's conflict represents the beginning of a third one remains to be seen.

Washington was central to balkanizing Sudan. It helped establish South Sudan's independence. Obama's troop deployment shows he wants US interests protected.

At issue is controlling South Sudan's resources. It's deposing Khartoum's government. It's replacing it with a pro-Western one.

It's dominating the African continent. It's partnering with France's neocolonial project. Months earlier it invaded Mali. It's West Africa's largest country. It's more than double the size of France.

It's resource rich. So is the Central African Republic (CAR). It's another former French colony. President Francois Hollande deployed about 1,600 troops.

It's not for humanitarian reasons. It's to control CAR's resources. It's rich in largely undeveloped ones. They include oil, diamonds, gold, uranium and others.

Africa's value lies largely in what's beneath its soil. Agriculture and timber are important. So are offshore fishing waters.

Imperial powers want control. America wants the lion's share. AFRICOM was established to secure it.

The scramble for Africa's resources continues. South Sudan is one of many battlegrounds. Others preceded them. More will follow.

Ordinary Africans suffer most. They're pawns in imperial conquests. Western interests control much of Africa's riches. China is a notable challenger. Washington wants it shut out entirely.

Belgium's King Leopold II ruled Congo until his 1909 death. He ran it like his private plantation. Other colonial powers operated the same way.

Neocolonialists replaced them. The same dirty game continues. Joseph Conrad (1857 - 1924) called exploiting Congo "the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience."

Imagine what he'd say today!

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