Saturday, December 06, 2014

Brand Animating Revolution

Russell Brand Revolution Audiobook Animated

by Russell Brand



Extract from the Revolution audiobook animated by
Alexa Lunn, Youyang Yu, Ruifan Wang, and Chun Huang

Friday, December 05, 2014

Mass Arrests as NYC Comes Out for Eric Garner

Protests erupt over decision not to indict cop who killed Eric Garner

by a WSWS reporting team

5 December 2014

Demonstrations against police violence escalated for a second day Thursday, as thousands took to the streets, outraged that the state will not bring any charges against Daniel Pantaleo, the New York City police officer who was videotaped violently choking Staten Islander Eric Garner to death.

Protesters gather at Foley Square in Lower Manhattan Thursday

The largest demonstrations were held in New York City, where an angry and diverse crowd of thousands filled public squares, marched through streets and crossed bridges. Police arrested dozens, as demonstrations continued late into the evening.

More than 200 protesters were arrested on Thursday night, following more than 80 arrests the night before. In Times Square on Thursday, police used ambulances to stop the flow of demonstrations, disperse and “kettle” protesters, then carry out mass arrests.

Police with some of the dozens arrested on Thursday night in Times Square

Protesters also marched in Chicago, Boston, Baltimore, Washington D.C., St. Louis, Dallas and other major cities and at college campuses.

Chants of “I can’t breathe” (Eric Garner’s last words) and “Hands up, don’t shoot” (referencing the police killing of Mike Brown in Ferguson, Missouri) echoed throughout the night.

Michelle Holland

“I have lived in New York a long time, and I am disappointed but not surprised,” Michelle Holland told the World Socialist Web Site. “There have been so many instances of unarmed black men being killed by the police, and the police are not punished. It is like as soon as a cop says that he felt threatened, [the charges are] thrown out.”

Despite New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio’s efforts to differentiate the response of the NYPD to that of Ferguson police—he pledged to grant the protesters “space” to demonstrate—the police presence was overwhelming and their tactics at times highly provocative.

The NYPD, which last week sent detectives to Ferguson, mobilized hundreds if not thousands of police officers for the demonstrations. They came prepared with armored vehicles, LRAD sound weapons, tactical SWAT vans and paddy wagons for mass arrests.

Hilary, a native of Brooklyn, said: “The failure to indict was quite wrong. It shows that cops can do anything they want and get away with it. This should be looked into seriously. One thing I want to say is that, white or black, this is an injustice. There are white kids being killed by police. There was a [white] 17-year-old in Georgia who was killed by a cop.

“This has to stop. They are trying to make the police in this country into a military force. You’re giving them machine guns and all kinds of ammunition. I am very surprised that you need a permit to go out and protest. Every few years our rights as citizens of the country diminish. It makes me quite mad, and I want America to wake up. The police forces are going to take over. They have to protect the moneymakers of this system, this capitalism that we live in.

Sarah and Hilary

“Things need to change. We need to revamp the government. A great example of what should happen would be the French Revolution, where the people took power into their hands. I am from a working-class family and I believe that the working class needs this very much.”

Sarah added, “I have a lot of anger. There’s not going to be justice until this stops happening. I think it’s important that people out here are inspired to change things. The ability to imagine that things can be different is very radical.”

Joanne said, “If you can’t get indicted for killing someone on camera then something is wrong with the system. If the cops are supposed to be protecting people and they’re not being held accountable, then we need to change the system. I don’t know the best way to do that. The politicians are defiantly protecting police. They are a part of the system.”

Michelle, a recent graduate of Williams College participating in demonstrations in New York, told the WSWS, “I came out tonight because I care about my brothers and their ability to walk around unharmed. The failure to indict was heartbreaking, but also very telling of the kind of justice system that we are working with.

“I think it’s time to reevaluate and potentially overthrow the system and start from scratch. I don’t know what that would look like. But I don’t know how we move forward from [police violence], because I think that we’ve hit a breaking point. It’s clear there are many interconnected broken systems that are feeding into the Eric Garners and the Trayvon Martins and the Michael Browns.”

Meanwhile, the operation by the Democratic Party to contain popular outrage pressed forward Thursday. Mayor de Blasio appeared with New York City Police Commissioner Bill Bratton at a press conference, proclaiming that, “the way we go about policing has to change.” Rhetoric notwithstanding, de Blasio offered next to nothing in terms of concrete actions: a three day mandatory “retraining” course for all officers on top of a pilot program announced yesterday to outfit 90 patrolmen with video cameras.

Officials in New York are coordinating the response closely with the Obama administration, which announced shortly after the grand jury decision that the Justice Department will proceed with a Federal civil rights investigation. A similar investigation into the police killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson is not expected to result in any charges, according to officials interviewed by the Washington Post.

Earlier this week, the Obama administration gave its full backing to the continue militarization of police forces throughout the country.

Return of the War Party: Phoenix-Like Second Flight of the Chicken Hawks

Party On! The War Party Ascendant

by Tom Engelhardt - TomDispatch

It was the end of the road for Chuck Hagel last week and the Washington press corps couldn’t have been more enthusiastic about writing his obituary. In terms of pure coverage, it may not have been Ferguson or the seven-foot deluge of snow that hit Buffalo, New York, but the avalanche of news reports was nothing to be sniffed at. There had been a changing of the guard in wartime Washington.

Barack Obama’s third secretary of defense had gone down for the count. In the phrase of the moment, he had “resigned under pressure.”

Sayonara, Chuck!

With a unanimity that crossed political lines, the accounts read as if written by a single reporter. The story went something like this: two years earlier, President Obama had brought in Hagel, a decorated Vietnam War veteran and former Republican senator with a reputation for being leery about the overuse of American military power, to wind down the war in Afghanistan, rein in military critics, and put the Pentagon budget on something closer to a peacetime footing. After a bruising Senate confirmation hearing from which he never recovered, he proved poor at “messaging” the president’s policies, had a “crappy relationship” with National Security Adviser (and Obama buddy) Susan Rice, proved a weak manager at the Department of Defense as well as a “weak link” in the Obama national security team, and could never break into the president's tight-knit circle of insiders who -- everyone agreed -- had a nasty habit of “micromanaging” America’s wars (rather than, it seemed, letting the military do what needed to be done). In the end, the president “lost confidence” in him. It was a “mutual” firing or at least Hagel had advanced somewhat voluntarily toward the edge of the cliff before being pushed off.

Tomgram: Engelhardt, War to the Horizon

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: My thanks to those of you who recently contributed $100 (or more) to this website in return for a signed, personalized copy of the new hardcover edition (with two extra essays added!) of Rebecca Solnit’s indie bestseller, Men Explain Things to Me. The offer will remain open for just a few more days, so if you meant to get a copy, hustle to our donation page ASAP. Available there as well, is my new book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World. My gratitude to TD readers who are still sending in donations for it. A little end-of-the-year infusion of cash is, believe me, a big help for this site.

P.S. Today’s post is a companion piece to my previous essay, "Iraq 4.0?" Tom

Party On! 

The War Party Ascendant

by Tom Engelhardt

A subcategory of Hagel reports also bloomed, again adding up to something like a single story. In them, various journalists and commentators offered instant speculation on whom the president would invite to fill Hagel’s post. Topping everyone’s “short list”: Senator and former Army Ranger Jack Reed of Rhode Island, war fightin’ liberal and former Pentagon official Michèle Flournoy (much beloved by neocons and Republicans), and hawkish former Pentagon “weapons buyer” Ashton Carter (the ultimate nominee). Unfortunately for the press, Reed and Flournoy promptly made mincemeat out of the collective wisdom of the moment, emphatically removing their names from consideration. Politico reported the Flournoy rejection this way: “Flournoy’s withdrawal comes amid speculation President Barack Obama is looking for a candidate who would be deferential to a White House that’s increasingly exerting control over Pentagon decisions.” Nothing, however, could stop the march of the news, whose focus simply switched to other potential job applicants. Striking was the eagerness of assorted journalists and pundits to act like employment agency headhunters vetting exactly the same list of candidates for the president.

Such journalism, of course, qualifies as the very definition of insiderdom and it led, implicitly or explicitly, to the crowning of Barack Obama as a “war president” for the final two years of his term. In the end, however, the media was less reporting on developments than reproducing them. The result: a record as collectively claustrophobic as post-9/11 Washington itself.

These days, it’s often pointed out by those who pass for Washington critics of the Obama administration that the crises are backing up like a Thanksgiving traffic jam across a remarkable swath of the planet -- and that the president’s national security team has proven “dysfunctional” when it comes to dealing with them. It's seldom acknowledged, however, that the most essential crisis isn’t in Ukraine or Iraq or Syria or Afghanistan or Iran, but in Washington. There, a bankrupt 13-year-old policy of war to the horizon remains, unbelievably enough, in the ascendancy and “war fever” seems to be breaking out yet again.

In this context, it's curious that four crucial aspects of war, American-style, were missing from the blitz of Hagel reportage. Here's a rundown.

1. The War Party Ascendant: It’s always best to start with the obvious, even if everyone prefers to ignore it. So let’s begin with the simple fact that the recent midterm elections swept the Republicans into the Senate in dominating numbers and strengthened their already dominating control of the House of Representatives. In war terms, this has only one meaning: a flock of new (and old) hawks heading into Washington. In truth, though, on such issues there is really only one party in the nation’s capital and that’s the War Party. In addition, if Washington commentary is to be believed, the next secretary of defense will be an unmitigated war-fighter. The math for dummies explanation on that: no other candidate nominated by a Democratic president would have a hope in hell of making it through a confirmation process overseen by the assumed new head of the Senate Armed Services Committee, John McCain. Add in an occupant of the Oval Office resigned to war presidency status and you can already see the big picture coming into focus.

Recent moves have only emphasized the latest war trajectory. Just post-election, the president doubled the number of advisers in Iraq (with hints of more “boots on the ground” to come and the possibility of actual combat troops lurking somewhere in the prospective future). Next came news that those advisers were being hustled into the country at a double-time pace. Soon after that came word that more air power -- A-10 Warthog jets and Reaper drones -- was being transferred to the Iraq/Syria theater.

Meanwhile, in a reversal of a long-stated position -- that the American combat role in Afghanistan was to end this year -- the president recently issued a secret directive green-lighting just such a role, both on the ground and in the air, for 2015. Soon after, the new Afghan president, clearly under American pressure, lifted a ban on controversial U.S.-supported “night raids” in his country, and reports began filtering out that the trajectory of withdrawal was about to end and extra U.S. troops would be added to the Afghan mix in 2015.

In other words, in the country’s two most active war zones, escalation and mission creep are already the order of the day. Meanwhile, the pressure of Congressional war hawks has only been increasing when it comes to the Obama administration’s single major, unwarlike diplomatic initiative that might stand some chance of success: the Iranian nuclear talks. At the same time, pressure to act more fiercely on Ukraine, including allowing the Pentagon to sell arms to its military, was on the rise.

Admittedly, the War Party has its factions and its disagreements. Its members are quite capable of savaging each other. (Just check out what Senator McCain did to Chuck Hagel at his confirmation hearings for secretary of defense and then what he did to President Obama in defense of Hagel after his removal from office.) One thing is evident, though: in the twilight of the Obama era, the power of the War Party is on the rise, along with that of the national security state.

And so far we’re only talking about surface manifestations of bedrock reality in Washington. After all, ever since 9/11, that city’s political denizens have considered themselves in an eternal “wartime.” Of course, part of everyday life in that “war capital” involves Republicans and Democrats scrambling for political advantage by squabbling endlessly over who’s rash and who’s a wimp when it comes to war policy.

The Republicans brand the president incompetent or far worse, while the president (the man who shot Osama bin Laden) endlessly thanks the troops for their valor and service while donning military paraphernalia to emphasize his strength and resolve. But underneath all the maneuvering, the War Party thrives. You simply can’t operate in Washington without in some fashion declaring your fealty to wartime thinking and the sanctified post-9/11 dead air that goes with it. No alternative possibilities, no other options are on that “table” on which “all options” are always said to sit in the nation’s capital. Should you not toe the line, the national security equivalent of excommunication is in order. “Washington rules,” in Andrew Bacevich’s phrase, do rule the day, while new thinking is unwelcome.

Recent exhibit number one: as November wound down, Rand Paul, the son of the country’s leading libertarian non-interventionist and a man who clearly has his eye on the White House, felt obliged to more or less literally “declare war” on the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria in order to pledge his fealty to the War Party.

On this issue, as the Hagel coverage indicates, Washington is a suffocating place when it comes to any thought that hasn’t been thought before. (When, by the way, was the last time you heard someone in that town mention the word “peace”?) In the end, Hagel, who came to regret his reluctant vote to invade Iraq, evidently proved an uncomfortable fit.

2. Election 2016 as an Intra-War Party Affair: In the wake of the invasion of Iraq, Bush v. Kerry in 2004 was, of course, a war election; 2008, however, proved a curious rarity, an election about war in which Americans generally thought they had voted for an anti-war candidate (as, of course, did the Nobel Prize Committee, which -- to use an ill-chosen phrase -- jumped the gun in 2009 by awarding its peace prize to Barack Obama just as he was about to officially “surge” in Afghanistan). The 2012 election was a status quo one in which, thanks to the bin Laden raid, the president had inoculated himself from Republican charges of wimpism even as he had seemingly fulfilled his previous campaign promise to end the war in Iraq.

2016 is already shaping up as a War Party election all the way. It goes without saying that whichever Republican candidate emerges from the pack will be a war-firster, while the leading Democratic candidate of the moment, Hillary Clinton, is another war-fightin’ liberal of the first order. No wonder Flournoy, who refused to be considered for secretary of defense now, would reportedly like to work for Clinton’s future administration in the same capacity. Sign of the times: Clinton already seems to be gathering support from a crew of neocons who had their moment in the Bush years and evidently hope to have it again. Right now, no matter who wins in 2016, it’s shaping up to be war to the horizon in Washington.

3. The Military Rides Ever Higher: Among the strangest aspects of the Hagel coverage was the picture painted of the relationship between the military and the White House in this period. Despite a mind-boggling infusion of funds since 9/11 and the exponential growth of the national security state, reading the Hagel stories you might be forgiven for thinking that the military was an essentially powerless, oppressed, and frustrated crew under the thumb of hopeless goof-balls at the White House. (Nor was it ever suggested that, constitutionally speaking, this is exactly what the relationship should be, no matter who occupies the Oval Office as commander in chief.)

In fact, there are signs that the military, while indeed frustrated -- who wouldn’t be given the last 13 years of American war and the prospects for the latest conflict in the Middle East? -- is actually riding ever higher in the nation’s capital.

In this context, the person to keep an eye on is the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey. If Hagel lost the president’s confidence, according to numerous reports Dempsey is the one who gained it. If Hagel wasn’t much for messaging, the same can’t be said of Dempsey. He’s been testifying up a storm before Congress and commenting in significant ways on war policy in the Middle East. Though he’s only the head of the “staff,” he has increasingly sounded like a bona fide civilian secretary of defense, speaking out on foreign policy issues, including U.S. relations with Israel and the importance of making American troops available for actual combat duty in Iraq. (This is, of course, something the president had emphatically ruled out). He’s also spoken in ways that have not been common for military commanders in our civilian system of government. He has politely contradicted the president on a number of occasions. He is also credited with getting Obama to launch the first airstrikes of the new American war in the Middle East.

It seems clear that the military high command has struggled with this president over war policy since 2009, when a fierce set of arguments over how fully to “surge” in Afghanistan -- the conflict the president had called the “right war” in his election campaign -- burst into view. Generally, though, little has been seen of this struggle since then. Still, to believe that a military clearly frustrated by its wars and a high command that now fears another campaign on the road to nowhere in Iraq and Syria is under the thumb of the president and his insular national security team is to mistake a fantasy construct for reality.

4. A Failed Experiment in War: Above all, it’s a wonder that all those journalists and commentators writing about Hagel expressed neither amazement nor befuddlement when it came to accepted thinking in Washington about war, American-style. The nation's capital has been conducting an experiment in war-making for more than 13 years now: there have been full-scale invasions and occupations, counterinsurgency struggles that lasted years, special ops raids of every sort, the application of overwhelming air power in a variety of ways, including an air intervention in Libya, drone assassination campaigns across the backlands of the Greater Middle East, the loosing of cruise missiles, even the first cyberwar in history. Trillions of dollars have been spent; American troops have been deployed to war zones over and over again; almost 7,000 American lives have been lost (while thousands of active duty soldiers and reservists have, in the same period, committed suicide); tens of thousands of Americans have been wounded in action, hundreds of thousands of civilians and enemy fighters in those war zones have died, and millions of people have been uprooted and sent into internal exile or forced out of their countries. In the process, significant parts of the Greater Middle East and more recently Africa have been destabilized in devastating ways.

Think of it as a radical experiment involving what our latest two presidents have called "the greatest force for freedom in the history of the world" and "the finest fighting force that the world has ever known." Despite ongoing wars and operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, and Somalia, among other places, the results of that experiment are in. No single war, intervention, or minor conflict in which the U.S. military has taken part in these years has even come close to achieving the objectives set out by Washington and most have proven outright disasters. In just about every case, armed intervention, whatever form it took, demonstrably made matters worse, increased the destabilization of whatever country or region was involved, and led to the creation of more extremists and terrorists.

Imagine for a moment a lab that ran a series of experiments for 13 straight years in almost every imaginable combination through one disastrous failure after another and then promoted the experimenters and agreed to let them repeat the process all over again. This would defy logic or simply good sense anywhere but in Washington.

To summarize: 13 years later, the War Party is ascendant. It controls Congress. The president is visibly, if with his usual reluctance, placing his bets on war. The military is riding high. The end of all calls for serious Pentagon budget cuts is clearly in sight. And more of the same is undoubtedly in the works, no matter who wins the 2016 election.

That’s the “new” Washington. Peacetime? A fantasy creation of lefties, libertarians, and noodle heads. Peace? A dirty word that no self-respecting politician would be caught using.

Meanwhile, the war hawks are crying out for more. At the moment, all the pressure in Washington is focused on the ramping up of its various wars and crises. Iraq War 3.0 and Syria War 1.0 are to expand. Afghanistan seems again to be a war on the rise. The pressure is increasing to make Cold War 2.0 ever hotter and to ensure that negotiations with Iran over a nuclear deal will prove less than fruitful. Drone wars are ongoing. Special forces ops are raiding away. Thirteen years later, we are yet again floating on what seems to be a rising, not ebbing, tide of war and the one qualification for a new secretary of defense is that he or she be a hot, not a cold, warrior.

This is the working definition of a bankrupt policy and yet you could read about the latest changes in Washington’s war establishment until you were goggle-eyed and never quite know it.

Congratulations, then, are in order for the War Party. In the face of a seemingly obdurate reality, it has somehow perfected a system of war boosterism that operates like a dream (though some might call it a nightmare). When it comes to war, in other words, Washington is now effectively insulated from failure. There may be 17 major interlocked intelligence outfits in town, but rest assured, there’s no intelligence in sight. So party on!

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author of The United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He runs the Nation Institute's His new book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World (Haymarket Books).

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2014 Tom Engelhardt

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Pillage, Plunder and Dis-Accumulation

Dis-Accumulation on a World Scale: Pillage, Plunder and Wealth

by James Petras

Over the past 30 years, wealth has grown exponentially and has become increasingly concentrated foremost in the upper .01%, then the .1%, followed by the 1% and the upper 10% - 20%.

The large scale, long-term concentration of wealth has continued through booms and busts of the real economy, the financial and IT crises. Wealth grew despite long-term economic recessions and stagnation, because the so-called recovery programs imposed austerity on 80% of the households while transferring public revenues to the rich.

The so-called ‘crises of capitalism’ has neither reversed nor prevented the emergence of an international class of billionaires who acquire, merge and invest in each other’s activities. The growth of wealth has been accompanied by the pillage of accumulated profits from productive sectors which are stored as wealth not investment capital.

The dispossession of capital and its conversion to private wealth subsequently led to the rapid expansion of the financial and real estate sector. Capital accumulation of profits has been the source of private accumulation of wealth at the expense of wages, salaries, public welfare, and state revenues.

The growth of private wealth at the expense of productive investments is a world-wide phenomenon which has been facilitated by an international network of banks, political leaders and ‘regulators’ centered in the United States and England.

The single most important aspect of private wealth accumulation on a world-scale is criminal behavior by the elites in multiple locations and involves the violation of multiple laws and regulations.

The Chain of Illegality: From Exploitation of Labor to the Pillage of the Nation

The original source of private wealth is the exploitation of labor by capital,of which a small percentage of the profits are reinvested in expanding production in the ‘home market’ or overseas. The bulk of the profits are transferred into financial networks which in turn illicitly channel the funds into overseas accounts.

The movements of profits ‘overseas’ takes multiple forms (transfer pricing, phony invoices, etc.) and they are primarily converted to private wealth. These ‘international movements’ of profits are largely composed of mega-thievery or plunder by political and business leaders from ‘developing countries’. According to the Financial Times (17/11/14, p2). “Up to $1 trillion (dollars) is being taken out of developing countries every year through a web of corrupt activities involving anonymous shell companies that typically hide the identity of their true owners”. (my emphasis)

The $1 trillion of stolen profits and revenues from the ‘developing countries’ (Africa, Asia, South America) are part of a “corruption chain” which is organized, managed and facilitated by the major financial institutions in the US and UK. According to a World Bank report in 2011 “70 percent of the biggest corruption cases between 1980 and 2010 involved anonymous shell companies. The US and UK were among the jurisdictions most frequently used to incorporate legal entities that held proceeds of corruption” (Financial Times, 17/11/14, p2.).

This process of “taking out” or pillage of developing countries feeds into rent seeking, conspicuous consumption and other non-productive activity in the ‘developed countries’ or more accurately the imperialist states. The principle beneficiaries of the pillage of ‘developing countries’ by the local elites are their counterparts in the top 1% of the imperial countries, who control, direct and manage the financial, real estate and luxury sectors of their economies.

The very same financial institutions in the imperial countries (and their related accountancy, legal and consultancy arms) facilitate the pillage of trillions from the ‘developed’ countries to offshore sites, via massive tax evasion operations, hoarding wealth instead of investing profits or paying taxes to the public treasury.

Long-term, large scale pillage and tax evasion depends on the central role, at both ends of the world economy, of the financial sector. This results in the ‘imbalance of the economy’ – predominance of finance capital as the final arbiter on how ‘profits’ are disposed.

The extremely narrow membership in the dominant financial sectors means that its growth will result in greater inequalities between classes. A disproportionate share of wealth will accrue to those who pillage the revenues and profits of the productive sector. As a result so-called ‘productive capitalists’ hasten to join and lay claims to membership in the financial sector.

The links between ‘productive’ and ‘fictitious’ capital or financial swindle capital, defy any attempt to find a progressive sector within the dominant classes. But the effort to enter the charmed circle of the dominant financial 1% is fraught with dangers and risks . . . because the financial sector has a very dynamic and super-active capacity for swindles.

The entire process of de-capitalizing the economy is underwritten in the US by the financial elite’s controls over the executive branch of government, especially the ‘regulatory’and enforcement agencies -Security Exchange Commission, the Treasury and Justice Departments.

Financial institutions facilitate the inflow of trillions of dollars from the kleptocrats in the developing countries as well as the outflow of trillions of dollars by multi-nationals to off-shore tax havens. In both instances the banks are key instruments in the process of dis-accumulation of capital by dispossessing nations and treasuries of revenues and productive investments.

The ‘hoarding’ of MNC profits in offshore shell companies does not in any way prevent speculative activity and large scale swindles in the for-ex, equity and real estate markets. On the contrary, the boom in high-end real estate in London, New York and Paris, and the high growth of luxury goods sales, reflects the concentration of wealth in the top .01%, .1% and 1%. They are the beneficiaries of ‘no risk’ pillage of wealth in developing countries, receiving lucrative commissions and fees in laundering the illicit inflows of wealth and outflows by tax dodging multi-nationals.

The Inverted Pyramid of Wealth

A small army of accountants, political fixers, corporate lawyers, publicists, financial scribblers, consultants and real estate promoters make-up the next 15% of the beneficiaries of the pillage economies. Below them are the 30% upper and lower middle classes who experience tenuous affluence subject to the economic shocks, ‘market volatility and risks of downward mobility. Below them, the majority of wage, salaried and small business classes experience declining incomes, downward mobility, rising risks of mortgage foreclosure, job-loss and destitution among the bottom 30%.

Despite wide variations in the class structure between ‘developing’ neo-colonial and developed imperial states, the top 1% across national boundaries has forged economic, personal, educational, and social ties. They attend the same elite schools, own multiple private residences in similar high end neighborhoods, and share private bankers, money launderers and financial advisors. Each elite group has their own national police and military security systems, as well as political influentials who also co-operate and collaborate to ensure impunity and to defend the illegal financial flows for a cut of the wealth….

The investigatory authorities of each developed country tend to specialize in prosecuting rival financial institutions and banks, occasionally levying fines – never imprisonment – for the most egregious swindles that threatens the ‘confidence’ of the defrauded investors.

Yet the basic structure of the pillage economy, continues unaffected – in fact thrives – because the ‘show’ of ‘oversight’ and judicial ‘charges’ neutralizes public indignation and outrage.

The Decisive Role of Dis-Accumulation in the World Economy

While orthodox economists elaborate mathematical models that have no relationship to the operations, agencies and performance of the economy and ignore the real elite actors which operate the economy, Leftist economists similarly operate with theoretical premises about capital and labor, profits and capital accumulation, crises and stagnation, which ignore the centrality of pillage, dis-accumulation, and the dynamic growth of wealth by the international 1%.

The research center, the Capital Financial Integrity Group provides a vast array of data documenting the trillion dollar illicit financial flows which now dominate the world economy.

US MNCs have ‘hoarded’ over $1.5 trillion dollars in overseas shell companies, ‘dead capital’, to avoid taxes and to speculate in stocks, bonds and real estate.

Mexico’s ruling elite organizes massive illicit financial flows, mostly laundered by US banks, ranging from $91 billion in 2007 to $68.5 billion in 2010. The massive increase in illicit financial flows is greatly facilitated by the de-regulation of the economy resulting from the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). Contrary to most leftist critics the main beneficiaries of NAFTA are not Canadian mine owners or US agro-business or auto manufacturers- it is the US and Canadian financial and real estate money launderers.

From 1960 to 2010 the Brazilian 1% pillaged over $400 billion dollars. These illicit financial flows are laundered in New York, Miami, London, Switzerland and Montevideo. In recent years the rate of pillage has accelerate: between 2000 -2012 illicit financial flows averaged $14.7 billion a year. And under the self-styled ‘Worker’s Party” (PT) regime of Lula DaSilva and Dilma Rousseff, $33.7 billion in illicit outflows were laundered annually – 1.5% of the GDP. Much of the pillage is carried out by private and public “entrepreneurs” in the so-called “dynamic” economic sectors of agro-minerals, energy and manufacturing via ‘trade mispricing’, import overpricing and export underpricing invoices.

According to a study published in the Wall Street Journal, (10/15/12), China’s elite’s illicit financial flows top $225 billion a year – 3% of national economic output. China’s 1%, the business-political elite, finance their children’s overseas private education, providing them with half million dollar condos. Illicit flows allow Chinese ‘investors’ to dominate the luxury real estate markets in Toronto, Vancouver, New York and London. They hoard funds in overseas shell companies. The Chinese corporate kleptocrats are the leaders in the drive to deregulate China’s financial markets – to legalize the outflows.

The scale and scope of China’s elite pillage has provoked popular outrage that threatens the entire capitalist structure – provoking a major anti-corruption campaign spearheaded by China’s President Xi Jinping. Thousands of millionaire officials and business people have been jailed, causing a sharp decline in the sales of the world’s luxury manufacturers.

India’s capitalists- as kleptocrats - have long played a major role in de-capitalizing the economy. According to the Financial Times (11/24/14, p3) the Indian elite’s illicit financial flows totaled $343 billion dollars from 2002 to 2011. The Indian Finance Ministry immediately threw up a smoke screen on behalf of the 1%, claiming the Indian elite had only $1.46 billion in Swiss accounts. Most of India’s wealthy have taken up with holing their illicit wealth to Dubai, Singapore, the Cayman and Virgin Islands as well as London

India’s neo-liberal policies eased the illegal outflows. Massive corruption accompanied the privatization of public firms and the allocation of multi-billion dollar assets such as mobile phones, coal fields and energy.

Indonesia, - percentage-wise is the leader in the outflow of illicit flows – fully 23% of annual output. The 1% elite of foreign and domestic capitalists, plunders natural resources, timber, metals, agriculture and dis-accumulates. Profits flow to foreign accounts in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Sydney, Los Angeles, London and Amsterdam.

Ethiopia, with per-capita income of $365 dollars, is the site of vast pillage by its ruling elite. From 2000 to 2009, over $11.7 billion dollars in illicit financial flow was laundered mostly by US banks. These outflows enriched the Ethiopian and the US 1% and provoked famine for Ethiopia’s 90%.


The illicit financial flows surpass the capital invested in productive activity. The process of dis-accumulation of capital through relocation is channeled to overseas shell corporations and private bank accounts and beyond into financial holdings and real estate. The accumulation of private wealth exceeds the sums invested in productive activity generating investments and wages. Massive perpetual tax evasion means higher regressive taxes on consumers (VAT) and wage and salaried workers, reductions in social services, and austerity budgets targeting food, family and fuel subsidies

The past thirty years of deregulated capitalism and financial liberalization, is a product of the financial takeover of state regulatory agencies. The signing of free trade agreements has provided the framework for large scale long-term illicit financial flows.

While illicit financial flows have financed some productive activities, the bulk has vastly expanded the financial sector. The absorption of illicit flows by the financial elite has led to greater inequalities of wealth between the 1% - 10% and the rest of the labor force.

Illicit earnings via mega swindles among the largest and most respected US and EU banks, has curtailed the amount of capital which is available for production, profits, wages and taxes. The circuits of illicit capital flows militate against any form of long-term economic development – outside of the wealth absorbing elites which control both the financial and political centers of decision-making.

The growth and ascendancy of financial elites which pillage public treasuries, resources and productive activity, is the result of an eminently political process. The origins of de-regulation, free trade and the promotion of illicit flows are all made possible by state authorities.

First and foremost, finance capital conquered state power – with the cooperation of “productive capital”. The peaceful transition reflected the interlocking directorates between banks and industry, aided and abetted by public officials rotating between government and investment houses.

The entire African continent was pillaged by billionaire rulers, many former nationalist politicians (South Africa), ex-guerilla and ‘liberation leaders’ (Angola, Mozambique, Guinea Bissau), in collaboration with US, EU, Chinese, Russian and Israeli oligarchs. Trillions of dollars were laundered by bankers in London, New York, Zurich, Tel Aviv and Paris. Growth of the commodity sector bolstered Africa’s decade long expanding GDP – and the mega-outflows of illicit earnings.

World-wide, billionaires multiplied profits ‘received’, but wages, salaries, pensions and health coverage declined! Swindles multiplied as outflows accelerated in both directions. The higher the growth in China, India, Indonesia and South Korea the bigger and more pervasive the corruption and outflows of wealth-led by “Communist” neo-liberals in China, Indian “free marketers” and Russian “economic reformers”.

The World Bank’s and IMF’s proposed “economic reforms” ‘freed’ the incipient political kleptocrats of controls and unleashed two-sided illicit financial flows – laundering funds from abroad and establishing trillion dollar offshore tax dodging citadels.

Illicit swindles dwarfed earnings from ‘capital accumulation’. The relations between capital and labor were framed by the organization and policies dictated by the directors and operators of the trillion-dollar financial networks based on the pillage of treasuries and the wealth of nations.

The center of China’s growth is shifting from manufacturing and the exploitation of labor, to real estate and “financial services”, as worker’s demand and secure double-digit increases in wages. The exploiters of labor turned predators of the national treasury. Under the pretext of “stimulating” the construction sector, real estate speculators in tow with Communist Party officials, absconded with over a trillion dollars from 2009 to 2014. According to Jonathan Anderson of the Emerging Advisors Group “over a trillion dollars” has gone missing in China in the past five years (Financial Times, 28/11/14, p 1.).

Factories still produce, agro-business still exports, the paper value of high tech companies has risen into the high billions, but the ruling 1% of the system stands or falls with the illicit financial flows drawn from the pillage of treasuries. To replenish pillaged treasuries, regimes insist on perpetual ‘austerity’ for the 90%: greater pillage for the 1%, less public revenues for health care which results in more epidemics. Less funds for pensions means later retirement-- work til you die. The plunder of the economy is accompanied by unending wars – because war contracts are a major source of illicit financial flows. Plunder oligarchs share with militarists a deep and abiding belief in pillage of countries and destruction of productive resources. The one reinforces the other in an eternal embrace – defied only by insurgents who embrace a moral economy and who proclaim the need for a total change – a new civilization.

Burning Together Fighting in Palestine on Fire

The Mockingjay of Palestine: "If we burn, you burn with Us."

by Ramzy Baroud  - Palestine Chronicle

Raed Mu’anis was my best friend. The small scar on top of his left eyebrow was my doing at the age of five.

I urged him to quit hanging on a rope where my mother was drying our laundry. He wouldn’t listen, so I threw a rock at him. I didn’t mean for the rock hit him, but it did.

Up: District 12 (Hunger Games). 
Down: Gaza, Palestine.  

My father dragged to me to his house kicking and screaming, while carrying a colourful rubber ball and a doll for gifts. I was mostly embarrassed that I hurt my best friend.

Several years later, Raed, now 15, was shot by Israeli soldiers as he helped our neighbours dig a grave for a kindly man who was killed by Israeli troops earlier in the day, while performing Eid prayers.

On that day, my father had taken us to extend holiday greetings to relatives in a nearby refugee camp in Gaza when the “Eid Massacre” took place in my home camp of Nuseirat. Every holiday there seemed to be a massacre. Nuseirat, the rebellious camp of resilient refugees was chosen on that particular Muslim holiday to be taught a lesson. Raed was one of that day’s many victims.

A friend told me that Raed was bleeding profusely as he ramblingly walked soon after the Israeli army chopper shot him. He arrived to my house, which was adjacent to the graveyard, and desperately knocked at the door yelling my mother’s name: “Auntie Zarefah, please open the door!”

But my mother was already dead. She was buried in the “martyrs’ graveyard,” where my grandparents, both refugees from historic Palestine, were also laid to rest. The tiny grave of my oldest brother, Anwar was also there. He died at the age of two because my father had no money to treat him at a proper hospital. Raed is now buried only a few feet away.

I could have never imagined myself drawing parallels between Nuseirat, and its heroic people and a Hollywood movie; the struggle of my people is too sacred to make such comparisons. But I couldn’t help it as I watched the latest from the Hunger Games franchise, “Mockingjay.” A feeling of anger initially overwhelmed me when I saw the districts destroyed by the heartless rulers of the Capitol. As I watched the movie, only Palestine, but particularly the Gaza resistance was on my mind.

The Capitol – with unmatched military technology and access to an enormous media apparatus – was unstoppable in its brutality. Its rulers, who claimed to have superiority over all the inhabitants of the dystopia of Panem, had no moral boundaries whatsoever.

The Hunger Games, the story’s version of a reality television show, was created as an annual event to celebrate the victory of Capitol over a previous revolt by the districts. It also served as a reminder of what the Capitol was capable of if anyone dared to rise up again in the future. The show’s participants – mostly children who were chosen or volunteered in a process called the “reaping” – came from every district. The contestants had to kill one another for the amusement of the Capitol, which drew its strength from the division and oppression of others.

But the districts rebelled. They ought to. They resisted because there can be no other response to systematic oppression but resistance. District 13 was annihilated early on so that the rest of the districts dare not entertain any ideas aside from the Capitol’s insistence that resistance is futile. Panem’s ruthless president was adamant at referring to those who defied the Capitol as “radicals,” and not “rebels.” At times, the Capitol tried to turn the districts against one another, inciting civil war.

The Gaza connection became too stark to miss when Katniss, one of the early “tributes,” and the symbolic “Mockingjay” of the resistance uttered these words soon after the Capitol bombers destroyed a hospital full of unarmed men, women and children, killing everyone: “I want to tell the people that if you think for one second the Capitol will treat us fairly if there’s a cease-fire, you’re deluding yourself. Because you know who they are and what they do.” The similarities in this drama were eerily similar to the bombing and complete destruction of al-Wafa hospital in Gaza in late July of this year, the only rehabilitation centre in the strip for thousands of victims of Israeli atrocities.

Her message to the Capitol: “You can torture us and bomb us and burn our districts to the ground, but do you see that? Fire is catching! And if we burn, you burn with us!”

It is as if the author of the Hunger Games, Suzanne Collins knows so much about Gaza; as if she had fashioned her stories to tell of a real fight between a brutal Capitol, called Israel, and rebellious districts called Palestine; it is as if Gaza is district 13; and that despite attempts at repeated annihilation for the last 65 years, but particularly two genocidal wars in 2008-9 and 2014, the resistance is still alive.

Does Collins know that Katniss, who didn’t choose such a fate, but had to step up in defence of her people, is represented in thousands of men, women, and yes, children of Gaza? Does she know that her stories were already written and enacted by real people, who may never have heard of her franchise and may never live to watch her movies? Does she know that criminal leaders such as President Snow are not something of fantasy, but they actually exist, here today in the persons of Benjamin Netanyahu and countless other Israeli leaders who call for the absolute annihilation of Gazans at a whim?

As for Gaza’s Hunger Games, the similarities are uncanny.

Just before Israel imposed sever economic sanctions on Gaza, to punish Palestinians for the result of their democratic elections, top Israeli government advisor, Dov Weisglass made a spine-chilling promise: “The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet, but not to make them die of hunger.” (AFP, February 16, 2006). This was not a passing statement.

After much legal wrangling, an Israeli human rights group, Gisha, managed to obtain documents that showed that Israel’s official policy in Gaza since then was that of “deliberate policy of near-starvation,” and that “security” had nothing to do with the Gaza blockade.

In Israel’s Operation Cast Lead, over 1,400 Palestinians were killed and 5,500 wounded. But in Israel’s latest war the price tag for resistance was increased to 2137. More are still dying from their wounds.

Gaza stands in ruins. Entire neighbourhoods were destroyed, villages erased and whole families annihilated. Hundreds of schools, hospitals and mosques were blown up in an orgy of death and destruction unprecedented.

Yet the resistance is yet to be defeated in Gaza. Because resistance is not men and women with guns. Resistance is an idea, pure in its intentions, romantic, at times, maybe, but certainly the work of an entire collective, who had chosen to die fighting, if they must, but never live carrying the shackles of a slave.

Not even the chilling words of Moshe Feiglin, deputy speaker of the Israeli parliament (Knesset) were enough to intimidate Gaza. In his Facebook plan to destroy the resistance on 1 August, 2014, Feiglin called for the “conquest of the entire Gaza Strip, and annihilation of all fighting forces and their supporters,” in addition to pushing its remaining inhabitants into concentration camps near the Sinai desert. “In these areas, tent encampments will be established, until relevant emigration destinations are determined.”

Feiglin, and his prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, among many others in Israel’s political and military establishment, are real life leaders of the Capitol, which is allowed to operate with complete impunity against the oppressed districts of Palestine.

And like the Mockingjay which was resurrected against great odds, Gaza will remain the rebellious district. The blood of its “near-starved” children will someday unite all districts against the Capitol. Then, all the voices that doubted the wisdom of the resistance will be diminished by the loud, but harmonious chanting of a united people. As the resistance continues, Palestinians everywhere will express their victory and defiance with by raising four fingers, Egypt’s “raba’a”, just as the rebels of the 13 districts expressed by raising three.

Till then, the Mockingjay of Palestine, the thousands of living martyrs will continue to circulate the skies singing the song of a rebellious nation.

“Are you, Are you

Coming to the tree

Where I told you to run, so we’d both be free

Strange things did happen here

No stranger would it be

If we met up at midnight in the hanging tree.”

If only the other districts would rise…

- Ramzy Baroud is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author and the founder of His latest book is My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story (Pluto Press, London).

Related posts:
Israelis Burn 100 Trees Near Bethlehem
Israelis Cut Palestine Trees, Burn Fields
Human Rights Volunteers Needed in Palestine
Jews Burn Arab Houses in North Israel: Radio
Lebanon’s Warmongers: Let Beirut Burn, They Say

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

FGM in DC: We are the ones who can’t be ignored

We are the ones who can’t be ignored

by Diane Walsh

Washington DC A momentous event took place in the U.S. Capital city last weekend (Nov. 8) which, I can confidently describe as, nothing other than ground-breaking. A first of its kind in the Washington DC area was this remarkable ‘Walk against Female Genital Mutilation’ at the Washington Monument, hosted by the Global Woman P.E.A.CE Foundation.

Full credit and accolade is due to GW-PF for the Walk’s bounding success. Its courageous aim was specifically designed to have Walkers circle the paths around the Washington Monument in the effort to raise profile, of the growing problem of FGM on Western soil.

We are the ones who can’t be ignored – Walkers took to the U.S. Capital to raise awareness about Female Genital Mutilation

The evidence of Female Genital Mutilation, as the imported but ‘unseen’ underground practice occurring as a result of international migration, continues to mount.

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E Foundation is a well-vetted woman’s rights and peace organization with registered U.S. charity status and is based in Fairfax, Virginia. With its strong organizational reputation and with its links to the worldwide movement against FGM, the Walk was successful in being able to attract a diverse group of participants from all over U.S. (including Canada) agreeing to participate as Sponsored Walkers. Walkers raised their own sponsorship and joined in the cause on the freezing cold but sunny Saturday morning of November 8 2014 and, as one of the proud, I can say it was an incredible experience and a worthy measure to create globalized action with American leadership.

I met up with the tightly knit group of international anti-FGM activists who gathered together at the NW corner of the Point to raise needed awareness with a specific emphasis on the US situation. The event urged that immediate action be taken on U.S. soil to ensure complete prevention of FGM; the commitment of it never being able to take place in the U.S. Furthermore the Walk emphasized the need to secure the goal of a U.S. commitment to complete eradication worldwide; in concert with the 2010 UN resolution against FGM and associated solidarity activists.

The Walk itself on the day of, may have been missed by, a seemingly sleepy, Washington Post, seen omitting to provide coverage of the event despite its global importance – but that’s not to say they can’t make up for it!

Nevertheless the Walk was indeed picked up repeatedly by the international press and news spread on social media with exuberance. Here in this video, is one the speakers invited as a key note, Barbara Mhangami. She is a feminist poet and researcher who travelled from Michigan. She, among others, is an example of the shinning talent and commitment of the some of the ‘Activist Walkers’ who sought to promote GW-PF’s aim to open a Crisis Centre right in DC. Guaranteed preventive action against FGM for girls living in the U.S. in addition to service provision for post-FGM women, is, key. More pictures of speakers and attendees here.

Global Woman P.E.A.C.E Foundation is committed to real action on the ground and has now raised leading awareness in the Capital. The Walk succeeded in pushing strongly against Female Genital Mutilation, focusing on exposing incidents of the practice on U.S. soil and, importantly, recognizing working in collaboration and in solidarity with a global alliance of activists against FGM to build identification and response services (#IDRS on twitter) to address the problem.

FGM has spread to Western soil, this is undisputed in Europe. It has also leaked out recently that FGM has occurred in the U.S. – this must not be allowed to go unnoticed and unrecorded. Information is that family groups have joined with other family groups to raise money to ‘import the cutter’ to perform FGM in secret. No one can dispute that this is heinous and frankly ghastly that it happens in the West.

The Walk’s acute profile is being recognized worldwide and is galvanizing efforts to put this issue at the top of the U.S. political agenda.

More information can be found on twitter, using hashtags #DC #FGM #GAFGM or follow me @dwalshmedia, hashtag #IDRS (Identification and Response Services) including #GAFGM #UN to learn more about global alliance anti-FGM solidarity links. Follow more updates on twitter @1GlobalWoman

GW-PF’s Press Release is provided below:



November 12, 2014: Fairfax, VA. – Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation (GWPF) was joined by its partners and supporters on Saturday, November 8th on the Washington National Mall to “Walk to End FGM”. The day began with music, as the crowd gathered to get outfitted in warm clothing and t-shirts. Families and their children assembled in the chilly early morning sun but the atmosphere was positive. Everyone was there to be a part of a memorable occasion; they were there to participate in the first annual walk to end female genital mutilation (FGM). No other organization has ever held a walkathon against the practice of female genital mutilation in Washington, D.C.

As the temperature began to rise, 14 teams of walkers lined up after bananas, granola bars, peanuts and water had been distributed to the crowd by many volunteers. The teams of walkers made their way up Constitution Avenue toward the memorials of World War II, Vietnam Veterans, Lincoln, Korean War, Martin Luther King and the Washington Monument. The crowd returned with enthusiasm to the National Mall to listen to a series of speakers tell them about female genital mutilation. Participants came from as far as Canada, Massachusetts, Florida, Arizona, Indiana, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York, Richmond, Virginia, Hagerstown, Maryland, etc.

CEO and President of IMA World Health, Rick Santos shared stories of violence against women and girls in various countries he had visited. Dr. Martha Allen, Director of the Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press read a list of FGM survivors and activists around the world, while David Rawls, In-Country Director of Hope 2 Liberia recounted his trips to Liberia where his organization is building a school to help end FGM through education.’s Board Member, Shannon Fisher told the crowd, “Female genital mutilation has been illegal in the United States since 1996, and transporting girls out of the U.S. for FGM is now punishable by five years in jail. But the procedure is still performed in private, and it has gone largely underground.” Vice President and Co-Founder of We Are Woman, Alaina LaTourette talked about the violation of the female body and FGM, while Summer Pearson, Global Woman’s Board Member read a special message from Dr. E. Faye Williams, President and CEO of the National Congress of Black Women, “It is said that the civilization of a nation is determined by the way it treats its women and its children. By that measure, most nations have a long way to go to be considered civilized. Certainly no nation that permits mutilation of the genitals of its young girls can be called civilized. This is one of the worst forms of violence against women.” Barbara Mhangami-Ruwende, a Public Health Practitioner shared a special poem she and wrote and dedicated to all of the mutilated little girls, “Imagine a girl suddenly thrust onto a mat on a floor, in a hut in the forest, or on an operating table in a doctor’s office. Imagine the shock, confusion and horror as she watches her mother, aunt and grandmother turn and walk away.” The crowd did not expect what came next, when the President of Change Agent Network, Annie Wright took the stage and told her personal story through tears about how her mother died in childbirth as the result of FGM, and she too was taken at 7 years old to the ‘bush’ and was mutilated. Annie stood tall on the stage and divulged to the public for the first time, “I can stand here today and say that I am a survivor of FGM. I was told never to tell anyone, and I never told anyone until Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation invited me to their focus group meeting.”

Entertainment was provided by local groups, the Liturgical Dance Group and the Chosen Generation Dance Group. Media coverage was provided by PressThePresident, BRITE Radio, Loudon Woman Magazine, Diane Walsh and Alexandra Gerard.

The program continued with Angela Peabody, President of the host organization reading a speech sent from Liberia by an FGM survivor, Eva Flomo. Flomo wrote, “America, do you want to be labeled as the nation that stood by and watched countless little girls get mutilated or die simply because it doesn’t affect you directly? You lead the free world; make it freer for little girls and women in Africa and other parts of the world actively practicing FGM.”

In conclusion, Peabody announced the 3 winning teams. The Women’s Institute for Freedom of the Press team took the first prize for raising the most money, the FGM No More team walked away with the 2nd prize, while the BRITE Peace Walkers team took 3rd prize.

The proceeds raised from “Walk to End FGM” will help establish a special support center in the Washington, D.C. metro area, expected to open in 2015. The support center is expected to include a hotline with trained phone counselors, career assistance and capacity building for the girls and women affected by FGM.

To learn more about Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation and future events or to make a donation, visit Global Woman P.E.A.C.E. Foundation is a registered 501c3 non-profit organization with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service. As such, your donations are tax deductible to the maximum extent required by law.

– Lydia Sherwood, Presto Public Relations

BCCLA Reax to Bogus Burnaby Mountain Charges

BCCLA reacts to bogus charges against Burnaby Mountain protesters being thrown out


Josh Paterson, Executive Director of the BC Civil Liberties Association, reacted this afternoon to the decision of the BC Supreme Court to throw out contempt charges against dozens of protesters on Burnaby Mountain because it was unclear whether they had violated the court's order.
 Vancouver, BC - Paterson stated:

"The RCMP made an unacceptable mess of this injunction, improperly arresting nearly 100 people. Today the court has cleaned up the mess. The RCMP arrested demonstrators for violating the court's order when those people hadn't crossed the line. Some of these people were deprived of their liberty over an entire weekend. The court made clear that the police had no authority do to that. This is a victory for the constitutional right of people to demonstrate and to express themselves."

Yesterday, the BCCLA stated that it was concerned that many of the arrests may have been illegitimate because the RCMP had been arresting people for entering an "exclusion zone" that extended beyond the boundaries of the court's original injunction.

The court's ruling confirms that it was inappropriate to re-interpret the injunction as applying to that larger zone, and to charge people with contempt for entering the zone.

The court refused to grant the company's request to expand, and extend, the injunction. Paterson added:

"We have argued publicly that there was no compelling legal justification to further infringe people's constitutional rights on Burnaby Mountain and the court has agreed."

The BCCLA did not have a lawyer arguing at the hearing.


Media Release: Media Release (11/27/2014)

All That Glitters: How the US Government Rigs the Gold Market

US resorts to Illegality To Protect Failed Policies

by Paul Craig Roberts and Dave Kranzler

In a blatant and massive market intervention, the price of gold was smashed on Friday.

Right after the Comex opened on Friday morning 7,008 paper gold contracts representing 20 tonnes of gold were dumped in the New York Comex futures market at 8:50 a.m. EST. At 12:35 a.m. EST 10,324 contracts representing 30 tonnes of gold were dropped on the Comex futures market.

No relevant news or events occurred that would have triggered this sudden sell-off in gold. 
Furthermore, none of the other markets experienced any unusual movement (stocks, bonds, currencies).
The intervention in the gold market occurred on the Friday after the U.S. had observed its Thanksgiving Day holiday. It is one of the lowest volume trading days of the year on the Comex.

A rational person who wants to short gold because he believes the price will fall wants to obtain the highest price for the contracts he sells in order to maximize his profits when he settles the contracts. If his sale of contracts drives down the price of gold, he reduces the spread between the amount he receives for his contracts and the price at settlement, thus minimizing his profits, or if the price goes against him maximizing his losses.

A bona fide seller speculating on the direction of the gold price would choose a more liquid market period and dribble out his contract sales so as not to cause a significant impact on the price.

As you can see from the price-action on the graph, massive sales concentrated within a few minutes minimize sales proceeds and are at odds with profit maximization. A rational seller would not behave in this way. What we are witnessing in the bullion futures market are short sales designed to drive down the price of bullion.

This is price manipulation.

Here is the Security and Exchange Commission’s definition of manipulation:

Manipulation is intentional conduct designed to deceive investors by controlling or artificially affecting the market for a security…[this includes] rigging quotes, prices or trades to create a false or deceptive picture of the demand for a security. Those who engage in manipulation are subject to various civil and criminal sanctions.

Why is manipulation of the price of gold in the futures market not investigated and prosecuted?
The manipulation has been blatant and repetitious since 2011.

The answer to the question is that suppressing the price of gold helps to protect the U.S. dollar’s value from the excessive debt and money creation of the past six years. The attacks on gold also enable the bullion banks to purchase large blocks of shares in the GLD gold trust that can be redeemed in gold with which to supply Asian purchasers. Whether or not the Federal Reserve and the U.S. Treasury are instigators of the price manipulation, government authorities tolerate it as it supports the dollar’s value in the face of an enormous creation of new dollars and new federal debt.

In other words, the illegal rigging of the price of gold in the futures market is deemed by the US government to be essential to the success of its economic policy, just as illegal torture, illegal military invasions and attacks on sovereign countries, unconstitutional violation of habeas corpus, unconstitutional spying on U.S. citizens, and illegal and unconstitutional murder of U.S. citizens by the executive branch are essential to the U.S. government’s “war on terror.”

The U.S. government resorts to massive illegality across the board in order to protect its failed policies. The rule of law and accountable government have been sacrificed to failed policies.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a worldwide following. Roberts' latest books are The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West and How America Was Lost

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Roger Annis, Nina Jankovic, Jacinda Mack, Janine Bandcroft Dec. 3, 2014

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

Later this week, efforts will be made to shore up the tentative "ceasefire" in Ukraine. Though officially nearly a couple of months old, the firing never ceased in eastern Ukraine, where the coup regime in Kiev, the one recognized and championed by Canada and its western allies, has continued its indiscriminate shelling of populated areas using weapons that include cluster munitions.

Last week, the Harper regime in Ottawa pledged more than 20 million dollars worth of winter wear and other gear for Kiev - and even provided free for the fascists that is. Roger Annis is a Vancouver-based peace and social justice activist and editor of the Canada Haiti Action Network website,

Listen. Hear.

Roger's writings can also be found at, and at his site, A Socialist in Canada. Roger was recently in Crimea, from where he filed reports on the deteriorating living conditions for the people beneath the bombs of the Kiev coup regime, and now serves as a contributing editor to the new web site

Roger Annis in the first segment.

And; having presumably finished its mission, KinderMorgan has backed off Burnaby Mountain for the time being. But not before sparking a showdown that saw more than a hundred "caretakers" arrested for defying a court injunction. Nina Jankovic was one of those; arrested with the Klabona Keepers. She's published an account of the mistreatment, courtesy of the RCMP, she and her fellows' suffered at Vancouver Coop Media's website.

Nina Jankovic taking pipeline resistance to the mountain in the second segment.

And; in another BC first: the Mount Polley tailings spill is the worst of its kind ever. In the fading days of summer, the earthen dam holding back years of accumulated gold and copper mining waste failed, sending millions of litres of slag and other contaminated material into Quesnel Lake, while compromising the entire aquatic and shoreline ecosystem. So far, no one knows exactly how, or even if, a clean-up can restore the environment.

First Nations activist Jacinda Mack is speaking tonight at 7pm in Camosun College's Young building. The Xat’sull First Nation's Natural Resource Manager and Mining Response Coordinator of the Northern Shuswap Tribal Council has come down to the capital to keep the spill on the government's agenda, and on the public radar.

Jacinda Mack, describing the cause and consequences of the Mount Polley spill and its implications for the province of BC and native people along the Fraser River watershed in the third segment.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will be here somewhere in the middle of all that to bring us up to speed with some of the good things going on around our town in the coming week, and beyond there too. But first, Roger Annis and Ottawa warming neo-nazis, while stoking the fires of a new cold war. 

Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at: And now heard at Simon Fraser University's . He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:

G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Destroying Ukraine to Save the Fiat Dollar

Defending Dollar Imperialism

by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch

If there was a way the United States could achieve its long-term strategic objectives and, at the same time, avoid a war with Russia, it would so. Unfortunately, that is not an option, which is why there’s going to be a clash between the two nuclear-armed adversaries sometime in the near future.

Let me explain: The Obama administration is trying to rebalance US policy in a way that shifts the focus of attention from the Middle East to Asia, which is expected to be the fastest growing region in the coming century. This policy-change is called the “pivot” to Asia. In order to benefit from Asia’s surge of growth, the US plans to beef up its presence on the continent, expand its military bases, strengthen bilateral alliances and trade agreements, and assume the role of regional security kingpin.

The not-so-secret purpose of the policy is China “containment”, that is, Washington wants to preserve its position as the world’s only superpower by controlling China’s explosive growth. (The US wants a weak, divided China that will do what it’s told.)

“The Fed’s ‘need’ to take on an even more active role as foreigners further slow the purchases of our paper is to put the pedal to the metal on the currency debasement race now being run in the developed world — a race which is speeding us all toward the end of the present currency regime.”  – Stephanie Pomboy, MacroMavens
“No matter what our Western counterparts tell us, we can see what’s going on. NATO is blatantly building up its forces in Eastern Europe, including the Black Sea and the Baltic Sea areas. Its operational and combat training activities are gaining in scale.”  – Russian President Vladimir Putin
In order to achieve its goals in Asia, the US needs to push NATO further eastward, tighten its encirclement of Russia, and control the flow of oil and gas from east to west. These are the necessary preconditions for establishing US hegemonic rule over the continent. And this is why the Obama administration is so invested in Kiev’s blundering junta-government; it’s because Washington needs Poroshenko’s neo Nazi shock troops to draw Russia into a conflagration in Ukraine that will drain its resources, discredit Putin in the eyes of his EU trading partners, and create the pretext for deploying NATO to Russia’s western border.

The idea that Obama’s proxy army in Ukraine is defending the country’s sovereignty is pure bunkum. What’s going on below the surface is the US is trying to stave off irreversible economic decline and an ever-shrinking share of global GDP through military force. What we’re seeing in Ukraine today, is a 21st century version of the Great Game implemented by political fantasists and Koolaid drinkers who think they can turn the clock back to the post WW2 heyday of the US Empire when the world was America’s oyster. Thankfully, that period is over.

Keep in mind, the glorious US military has spent the last 13 years fighting sheep herders in flip-flops in Afghanistan in a conflict that, at best, could be characterized as a stalemate. And now the White House wants to take on Russia?

Can you appreciate the insanity of the policy?

This is why Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel was sacked last week, because he wasn’t sufficiently eager to pursue this madcap policy of escalating the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Ukraine. Everyone knows it’s true, the administration hasn’t even tried to deny it. They’d rather stick with foam-at-the-mouth buffoons, like Susan Rice and Samantha Powers, then a decorated veteran who has more credibility and intelligence in his little finger than Obama’s whole National Security team put together.

So now Obama is completely surrounded by rabid warmongering imbeciles, all of whom ascribe to the same fairytale that the US is going to dust-off Russia, remove Assad, redraw the map of the Middle East, control the flow of gas and oil from the ME to markets in the EU, and establish myriad beachheads across Asia where they can keep a tight grip on China’s growth.

Tell me, dear reader, doesn’t that strike you as a bit improbable?

But, of course, the Obama claque think it’s all within their grasp, because, well, because that’s what they’ve been told to think, and because that’s what the US has to do if it wants to maintain its exalted position as the world’s lone superpower when its economic significance in the world is steadily declining. You see, here’s the thing: The exceptional nation is becoming more unexceptional all the time, and that’s what has the political class worried, because they see the handwriting on the wall, and the writing says, “Enjoy it while it lasts, buddy, cuz you ain’t gonna be numero uno much longer.”

And the US has allies in this wacky crusade too, notably Israel and Saudi Arabia. The Saudis have been particularly helpful lately by flooding the market with oil to push down prices and crush the Russian economy. (On Friday, Benchmark crude oil prices plummeted to a four-year low, with Brent crude sinking to $69.11 a barrel.) The Obama administration is using the classic one-two punch of economic sanctions and plunging oil revenues to bully Moscow into withdrawing from Crimea so Washington can move its nuclear arsenal to within spitting distance of Moscow. Here’s a bit of background from the Guardian:

“Think about how the Obama administration sees the state of the world. It wants Tehran to come to heel over its nuclear programme. It wants Vladimir Putin to back off in eastern Ukraine. But after recent experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan, the White House has no desire to put American boots on the ground. Instead, with the help of its Saudi ally, Washington is trying to drive down the oil price by flooding an already weak market with crude. As the Russians and the Iranians are heavily dependent on oil exports, the assumption is that they will become easier to deal with.

John Kerry, the US secretary of state, allegedly struck a deal with King Abdullah in September under which the Saudis would sell crude at below the prevailing market price. That would help explain why the price has been falling at a time when, given the turmoil in Iraq and Syria caused by Islamic State, it would normally have been rising.”
(Stakes are high as US plays the oil card against Iran and Russia, Larry Eliot, Guardian)

And here’s more from Salon’s Patrick L. Smith at Salon:

“Less than a week after the Minsk Protocol was signed, Kerry made a little-noted trip to Jeddah to see King Abdullah at his summer residence. When it was reported at all, this was put across as part of Kerry’s campaign to secure Arab support in the fight against the Islamic State.

Stop right there. That is not all there was to the visit, my trustworthy sources tell me. The other half of the visit had to do with Washington’s unabated desire to ruin the Russian economy. To do this, Kerry told the Saudis 1) to raise production and 2) to cut its crude price. Keep in mind these pertinent numbers: The Saudis produce a barrel of oil for less than $30 as break-even in the national budget; the Russians need $105.

Shortly after Kerry’s visit, the Saudis began increasing production, sure enough — by more than 100,000 barrels daily during the rest of September, more apparently to come…

Think about this. Winter is coming, there are serious production outages now in Iraq, Nigeria, Venezuela and Libya, other OPEC members are screaming for relief, and the Saudis make back-to-back moves certain to push falling prices still lower? You do the math, with Kerry’s unreported itinerary in mind, and to help you along I offer this from an extremely well-positioned source in the commodities markets: “There are very big hands pushing oil into global supply now,” this source wrote in an e-mail note the other day.”
(What Really Happened in Beijing: Putin, Obama, Xi And The Back Story The Media Won’t Tell You, Patrick L. Smith, Salon)

The Obama team managed to persuade our good buddies the Saudis to flood the market with oil, drive down prices, and put the Russian economy into a nosedive. At the same time, the US has intensified its economic sanctions, done everything in its power to sabotage Gazprom’s South Stream pipeline (that would bypass Ukraine and deliver natural gas to Europe via a southern route), and cajole the Ukrainian parliament into auctioning off 49 percent of the leasing rights and underground storage facilities to privately-owned foreign corporations.

How do you like that? So the US has launched a full-blown economic war against Russia that’s been completely omitted in the western media. Are you surprised?

Washington is determined to block further Russo-EU economic integration in order to collapse the Russian economy and put foreign capital in control of regional energy distribution. It’s all about the pivot. The big money guys figure the US has to pivot to Asia to be a player in the next century. All of these unprovoked attacks on Moscow are based on that one lunatic strategy.

But aren’t people in the EU going to be angry when they can’t get the energy they need (at the prices they want) to run their businesses and heat their homes?

Washington doesn’t think so. Washington thinks its allies in the Middle East can meet the EU’s energy needs without any difficulty. Check out this clip from an article by analyst F. William Engdahl:

“…details are emerging of a new secret and quite stupid Saudi-US deal on Syria and the so-called IS. It involves oil and gas control of the entire region and the weakening of Russia and Iran by Saudi Arabian flooding the world market with cheap oil. ….

On September 11, US Secretary of State Kerry met Saudi King Abdullah at his palace on the Red Sea. The King invited former head of Saudi intelligence, Prince Bandar to attend. There a deal was hammered out which saw Saudi support for the Syrian airstrikes against ISIS on condition Washington backed the Saudis in toppling Assad, a firm ally of Russia and de facto of Iran and an obstacle to Saudi and UAE plans to control the emerging EU natural gas market and destroy Russia’s lucrative EU trade. A report in the Wall Street Journal noted there had been “months of behind-the-scenes work by the US and Arab leaders, who agreed on the need to cooperate against Islamic State, but not how or when.

The process gave the Saudis leverage to extract a fresh US commitment to beef up training for rebels fighting Mr. Assad, whose demise the Saudis still see as a top priority.”
(The Secret Stupid Saudi-US Deal on Syria, F. William Engdahl, BFP)

So the wars in Ukraine and Syria are not really separate conflicts at all. They’re both part of the same global resource war the US has been prosecuting for the last decade and a half. The US plans to cut off the flow of Russian gas and replace it with gas from Qatar which will flow through Syria and onto the EU market after Assad is toppled.

Here’s what’s going on: Syria’s troubles began shortly after it announced that it was going to be part of an “Islamic pipeline” that would transfer natural gas from the South Pars gas field off the coast of Iran across Iraq and Syria, eventually connecting to Greece and the lucrative EU market. According to author Dmitri Minin:

“A gas pipeline from Iran would be highly profitable for Syria. Europe would gain from it as well, but clearly someone in the West didn’t like it. The West’s gas-supplying allies in the Persian Gulf weren’t happy with it either, nor was would-be no. 1 gas transporter Turkey, as it would then be out of the game.” (The Geopolitics of Gas and the Syrian Crisis: Syrian “Opposition” Armed to Thwart Construction of Iran-Iraq-Syria Gas Pipeline, Dmitri Minin, Global Research)

Two months after Assad signed the deal with Iraq and Iran, the rebellion broke out in Syria. That’s quite a coincidence, don’t you think? Funny how frequently those kinds of things happen when foreign leaders don’t march to Washington’s tune.

Here’s more from Minin:

“Qatar is doing all it can to thwart the construction of the pipeline, including arming the opposition fighters in Syria, many of whom come from Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and Libya…

The Arabic newspaper Al-Akhbar cites information according to which there is a plan approved by the U.S. government to create a new pipeline for transporting gas from Qatar to Europe involving Turkey and Israel…

This new pipeline is to begin in Qatar, cross Saudi territory and then the territory of Jordan, thus bypassing Shiite Iraq, and reach Syria. Near Homs the pipeline is to branch in three directions: to Latakia, Tripoli in northern Lebanon, and Turkey. Homs, where there are also hydrocarbon reserves, is the project’s main crossroads, and it is not surprising… that the fiercest fighting is taking place. Here the fate of Syria is being decided. The parts of Syrian territory where detachments of rebels are operating with the support of the U.S., Qatar and Turkey, that is, the north, Homs and the environs of Damascus, coincide with the route that the pipeline is to follow to Turkey and Tripoli, Lebanon. A comparison of a map of armed hostilities and a map of the Qatar pipeline route indicates a link between armed activities and the desire to control these Syrian territories. Qatar’s allies are trying to accomplish three goals: to break Russia’s gas monopoly in Europe; to free Turkey from its dependence on Iranian gas; and to give Israel the chance to export its gas to Europe by land at less cost.”

How do you like that; another coincidence: “The fiercest fighting (in Syria) is taking place” where there’s massive “hydrocarbon reserves” and along the planned pipeline route.

So the conflict in Syria isn’t really about terrorism at all. It’s about natural gas, competing pipelines and access to markets in the EU. It’s about money and power. The whole ISIS-thing is a big hoax to conceal what’s really going on, which is a global war for resources, more blood for oil.

But how does the US benefit from all of this, after all, won’t the gas revenues go to Qatar and the transit countries rather than the US?

Yep, they sure will. But the gas will also be denominated in dollars which will shore up demand for USDs thus perpetuating the petrodollar recycling system which creates a vast market for US debt and which helps to keep US stocks and bonds in the nosebleed section. And that’s what this is all about, preserving dollar supremacy by forcing nations to hold excessive amounts of USDs to use in their energy transactions and to service their dollar-denominated debts.

As long as Washington can control the world’s energy supplies and force the world to trade in dollars, it can spend well in excess of what it produces and not be held to account. It’s like having a credit card you never have to pay off.

That’s a racket Uncle Sam is prepared to defend with everything he’s got, even nukes.

Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at