Saturday, September 05, 2015

Refilling the Saud's Armory: Obama Srikes a Deal

Another Weapons Deal Inked as Saudis Strike Yemen with US Bombs


September 5, 2015

Just Foreign Policy's Robert Naiman discusses Saudi King Salaman's meeting with President Obama.

Saudi King Salman met with President Obama at the White House this Friday to discuss a billion-dollar arms deal and foreign policy disagreements between the two countries. These of course include the nuclear deal with Iran, and ongoing civil war in Syria and the Saudi-led war in Yemen. Joining me now to discuss all of this is Robert Naiman. Robert is policy director at Just Foreign Policy.

The Guardian's Hegelian Logic: Using Young Aylan to Stoke a Greater War

The Guardian: Bomb Assad, and Save the Refugees

by BlackCatte - Off-Guardian

The Guardian is currently providing us with a good example of what is often called the “problem-reaction-solution” method of controlling public discourse.

Step One: Find, create, emphasise, or de-contextualise a problem

In this case, the “refugee crisis”, currently screaming from the front pages of most mainstream media outlets. The unanimity and hysteria should immediately alert us to a potential agenda. Yes, of course there are thousands of refugees and their plight is appalling. Yes the way they are being received by the EU is predictably callous and racist. But this is what happens when you start imperialist wars, and even the Guardian admits it’s not new. The MSM has been content to ignore the plight of displaced Libyans since 2011, displaced Iraqis since 2003, displaced Syrians and Ukrainian since 2014.

So we need to ask why the western media are suddenly headlining this ongoing human tragedy? Why the blatant attempts to create mass hysteria through manipulation of basic human emotions – fear (of the alleged incoming hordes of displaced people) and outrage (for their plight)?

Is it because the media and its masters are suddenly discovering their humanity and conscience? Well, it’s always possible, but I think we’d be unwise to make that a first assumption. And in fact, a more likely answer presents itself in the Guardian’s response to the crisis it has chosen this moment to define…

Step 2: Reaction

First thing to note is how, in the media narrative, the plight of these displaced people is entirely removed from any real geopolitical context. Note that nowhere in its prurient and emotive rolling coverage of overturning dinghies, private funerals, mass-marches, tent-camps in shopping malls, endless “personal stories” from unsourced individuals, does the Guardian refer to the fact that western war mongering created this crisis in its entirety.

Likewise, in the latest “Guardian View“, the anonymous author offers only elision, flimsy images of unspecified ‘conflicts’ and ‘repressive and failed states’…

"There is a wide arc of conflict-ridden, repressive and failed states running from the Middle East, round the Horn of Africa and along the southern Mediterranean coast. There are tens of millions of people living in that region who might reasonably decide that the only future for them and their families lies in Europe…"

He mentions Libya has “unravelled” but avoids discussion of how and why. He implies – without compromising himself enough to actually state – that the Syrian refugees are fleeing Assad, not “coalition” bombs…

"The optimism of the Arab spring is spent. Colonel Gaddafi was a tyrant, yet Libya has unravelled violently in the aftermath of his removal. The refusal to intervene against Bashar al-Assad gave the Syrian president permission to continue murdering his people."

Apparently in New Guardianspeak drone attacks, air strikes and the funding of insane jihadists = “reluctance to intervene”, and it’s our wimpy pacifism that’s causing all the problems out there – not our bombs, drones and lunatic jihadists.

(Not just in Guardianspeak either – in fact a disturbingly similar “this is because we did nothing” meme is being sold by Boris Johnson in the Telegraph. This ‘coincidence’ of opinion pieces is even more suggestive of a pre-planned agenda rollout).

Which neat bit of reality-inversion leads us nicely on to…

Step 3: Solution

“Much more must be done,” screams the Guardian’s headline. But what does this “more” actually mean? The anonymous author – assigned the task of selling this ‘solution’ to the Guardian’s core readership – sets it out obliquely, but obviously enough.

"Although it is essential in discussion of the current crisis to remember the legal distinction between refugees – seeking sanctuary from imminent danger – and the wider category of people who migrate in search of a better future for themselves and their families, it is also important to acknowledge that, in places where economic activity, law and order are breaking down, the line between the two categories is technically and ethically hard to draw."

Translation: the problem isn’t going away until we fix the failed states that the refugees/migrants are fleeing from, and of course…

"Since Syria’s plight is the most immediate moral and strategic problem, that is where Europe must begin the search for solutions."

Ah, and what might the ‘solutions’ entail, oh non-agenda-driven anonymous Guardian sage?

"The increase in refugee numbers heading for the EU describes a collapse of hope among millions of Syrians, many displaced in neighbouring countries, that their home will be safe again in their lifetime. To begin restoring that hope will inevitably mean international intervention of some kind."

“Intervention of some kind”? By western armed forces you mean? Yes indeed he does…

"The establishment of credible safe havens and the implementation of a no-fly zone must be on the table for serious consideration. Russia, as the state with most influence over Assad, must somehow be convinced to rein him in. EU powers must be prepared to spend more of their efforts and resources fostering the conditions for ceasefire."

“Implementing a no-fly zone” in a foreign country is basically a declaration of war against that country. So, by amazing coincidence, the solution to the current refugee crisis being so mercilessly hyped in the media, is the very same war with Syria that the PTB have been trying to sell to the masses since 2012. Incredible isn’t it! And about as convincing as a snake oil salesman turning up at your door day after day touting the same cure for different diseases. Want to save the Kurds? Bomb Syria! Want to stop ISIS? Bomb Syria! Want to save the helpless refugees?…

But this time they are hoping we’ll forget our earlier scepticism and buy it, because we’ll be so scared the ‘disposessed’ hordes will get us…

"The need for Europe to develop a coherent account of its place in the wider world has often been discussed as the goal once internal matters are settled, but that moment keeps being deferred. Yet the rest of the world is not waiting. Its fearful dispossessed are rattling Europe’s gates."

Right there is the heart of the message. ‘The EU has to get behind the US agenda, support and even assist with an invasion of Syria, maybe also implement other as yet unspecified legislation to bring us inline with the US – or be swamped by the ‘fearful dispossessed’.’

Fear porn in other words, but carefully laced with faux compassion. Everything else you read or see in the MSM is about planting this idea the collective mind. They are trying to create the meme that the refugee crisis is suddenly (and inexplicably, but never mind that), so huge and so impossible to manage, so threatening to European security, to domestic economies and everything else we care about that bombing Assad and thereby starting a proxy war with Russia actually looks like the better alternative.

This – and not any kind of compassion – is why the MSM is wall-to-wall with increasingly implausible, hysterical and unexamined refugee stories. This is why pictures of a little boy’s funeral “emerge” inexplicably on to the pages of the Guardian. The fact his family were not fleeing from Syria, but from Turkey – a NATO member, currently brutalising its own Kurdish population – is not going to make any difference at all.

It’s not a well-deserved crisis of conscience over displaced people, however much we might like to think it is. It’s the final push to get us to approve the Empire’s longstanding bid to wipe out yet another centre of opposition to its hegemony.


If there was the smallest doubt about the real agenda behind the “refugee crisis”media meme it’s been entirely eliminated in the hours since this piece was published. Since then we have had BBC revelations that UK ministers are looking to put British troops on the ground in Syria, followed by Jonathan Freedland in the Guardian, echoing the anonymous editorial quoted above almost word for word.

After a few paras of requisite and formulaic sentiment about poor dead little Aylan Kurdi, and a few more of drivel about how austerity Britain with its 40% cuts in public services will find a magic money well to help the displaced people, Freedland delivers the kicker

"Action for refugees means not only a welcome when they arrive, but also a remedy for the problem that made them leave. The people now running from Syria have concluded that it is literally uninhabitable: it is a place where no one can live. They have come to that conclusion slowly, after four years of murderous violence. To make them think again would require action a thousand miles away from the level of the district council, an international effort to stop not just the killers of Isis but also Bashar al-Assad’s barrel bombs."

It doesn’t matter that little Aylan’s family had been living in Turkey for three years, or that the Turks have a worse human rights records than Syria when it comes to the Kurds. It’s irrelevant that the barrel bombs are no more Assad’s than the poison gas the tame media also lied about last time they wanted to prime us for war.

Nuking America's Water Supply: Radioactive Texas Waste Dump Threatens Key US Water Resource

Hot and dry in the heartland: Radioactive Texas Waste Dump Threatens Key US Water Resource

by Paul DeRienzo  - This Can't Be Happening


In a remote place in the desert of West Texas, outside the small town of Andrews, something dirty has been going on which threatens the water supply of nearly a third of America’s farmland (and perhaps the millions of people who eat the food grown using that water). 

This Waste Control Specialists radioactive waste dump site 
in Texas threatens the nation's largest water aquifer, activists warn

The highly radioactive spoils of nuclear power plants from 36 states -- as well as other seriously toxic or carcinogenic substances, such as PCBs dredged from the Hudson River -- are being dumped there on a regular basis, and this will continue until the designated hole in the ground is filled. [1]

That designated hole happens to be right on the Ogallala Aquifer, according to environmentalists.

At 174,000 square miles, the Ogallala Aquifer is the world’s second largest, providing water to 27 percent of the entire agricultural land in the United States. An aquifer can be a superhighway for nuclear waste, as shown by studies of the movement of waste at polluted nuclear sites such as Hanford, Washington [2].

The dirty dump owes its existence to dirty politics. Local residents say officials came to town to conspire with billionaires on ways to silence their opposition to the dump. Owned by Waste Control Specialists (WCS), the site was built by Harold C. Simmons [3], a top contributor to the campaigns of George W. Bush, Rick Perry and the Super PAC run by Bush confidant and Republican Party strategist Karl Rove. Opponents say that WCS amounts to “a privatization of nuclear waste to help a billionaire make billions of dollars more.”

Activists charge that the state of Texas granted WCS its license after repeated intervention by politicians bought by Simmons. And unlike most applicants for licenses, WCS bought the site even before it had performed a proper environmental study of it.

According to Texas Commission on Environmental Quality geologists (TCEQ), leaks from the dump are inevitable [4]. If those leaks got into an aquifer though, the result could be potentially catastrophic. The Ogallala Aquifer these days is being depleted at a much faster rate than it's being replenished. According to a report by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, groundwater contamination, lenient regulations and a lack of goals by policymakers are causing major problems in this vast ancient fresh water source which took millions of years to be created. MIT says that at present rates of use the Ogallala will be drained within this century.

How to hide a problem aquifer: Just draw a fake map

A controversial report by Texas Tech University claimed that WCS would not damage any important underground water source. This assertion paved the way for the deal. Texas Tech, however, is widely seen as beholden to major Texas political figures. [5]

Environmental activist Lon Burnam, a member of the state legislature for 18 years and director of the Dallas Peace Center, tells [6] that “corrupt” Texas state officials falsified the location of the aquifer by drawing maps that wrongly showed no aquifer under the WCS site.

Burnam told ThisCantBeHappening! that WCS, which was built by “flawed engineering and science,” can’t keep water out of the dump. He says that for months at a time WCS has needed to pump out water seeping from the aquifer. That same water -- possibly now contaminated -- also flows back into the aquifer. It is a two-way street.

WCS claims that hundreds of feet of impenetrable red clay are between the site and the nearest ground water. But the TCEQ geologists found that, first of all, there is actually only 14 feet of separation [7] between the site and the nearest groundwater, and secondly, that the so-called impenetrable wall is riddled with holes and fissures [7].

Meanwhile, an independent study [8] done years earlier by the consulting firm Terra Dynamics, which sampled 58 boreholes at the site, found 46 samples that were described as “moist,” five as “wet,” and one as “making water.”

What water?

While denying the presence of water in the site, WCS is apparently trying to deal with the unrecognized issue. WCS spokesman Chuck McDonald said that WCS has a system for dealing with the problem: “It is a moisture disposal system that pumps moisture out [8]."

In 2009 WCS sued Adam Greenwood [9], an environmental attorney from Andrews, and president of the Save the Ogallala Aquifer, along with other environmental groups who had claimed the aquifer (which lies as much as 1000 feet below ground in most places) was beneath the waste dump. Glenn Lewis, former Manager of Media Relations of TCEQ, said in a deposition for the Greenwood case [7] that he resigned from TCEQ rather than accept the commission’s approval of a nuclear waste license for WCS. Lewis joined two other TCEQ members who left the board after the license was approved despite their objections:

“Because of the likelihood that groundwater would intrude into the proposed disposal units, there was an increased risk that the public would be exposed to radioactive material in their drinking and agricultural water.” 

Did other court documents say anything to the contrary?

Shortly afterwards TCEQ executive director Glenn Shankle [10], who supported the license, left the commission to become a lobbyist for WCS.

Greenwood, now an assistant attorney general for New Mexico, was asked by ThisCantBeHappening! if the aquifer was beneath WCS answered, “I can’t comment,” when asked why he couldn’t comment he said “no comment,” when asked about the final disposition of the lawsuit, he hung up. WCS has not responded to repeated calls for comment.

Note: WCS now controls [8] all hydrogeological monitoring in the area.

No bonds for billionaires

Melodye and Peggy Pryor have been fighting WCS from its beginnings. They’re descendants of oilfield roughnecks and lifelong residents of Andrews. A sign on the main road into the town proclaims “Andrews loves God, country and supports free enterprise.”

Although WCS claims to have “unanimous” support in Andrews to expand the dump, Melodye Pryor told ThisCantBeHappening! that a $75-million county bond measure to partially fund operations at the facility passed by only three votes [11].

Pryor and a small coterie of WCS opponents had mustered a campaign against the bond measure under the slogan “No Bonds for Billionaires,” a reference to the involvement of Simmons. WCS responded, predictably, that the dump would bring money and jobs to the area. It never happened.

Going against WCS would be 'bad for business'

According to Pryor, town meetings were “stacked by corporate supporters” and residents were intimidated and even threatened by WCS supporters.

Pryor said that at community meetings her family had to walk a gauntlet of men, snickering supporters of Bush and Perry, who called them “bitches and things my father would have punched them in the nose for saying to a woman.” Local business people, she added, were silenced by threats that going against WCS would be “bad for business.”
But the promised economic benefits never materialized, she said. Andrews remains a poor backwater without so much as a movie theater.

Just pile it on

The dangerous consequences of having WCS in their community soon became evident when, earlier this year, hundreds of radioactive nuclear waste barrels from New Mexico’s Los Alamos National Laboratories (LANL) suddenly appeared. They had been shipped to WCS under what were called emergency conditions. (WCS is licensed by the TCEQ to accept the temporary storage of any waste in an emergency [12].)

According to a Department of Energy (DOE) study, those barrels -- which contained a highly inflammable mix of nuclear waste and organic kitty litter -- were at risk of spontaneous explosion. And indeed one barrel did ignite, causing extensive damage [13].

A spokesperson for the New Mexico Environment Department, Allison Majure, told ThisCantBeHappening! that 109 waste barrels containing the explosive nuke waste/organic kitty litter mixture from LANL remain in isolation at WCS.

But environmentalists and local residents say that WCS shouldn’t be trusted to hold the potentially explosive containers.

'Where is the specific plan for exploding waste?'

Emergency response procedures for WCS -- supplied to ThisCantBeHappening! in response to a Texas open records request -- are woefully inadequate, according to Karen Hadden, executive director of the Texas-based environmental watchdog Sustainable Energy and Economic Development, or SEED Coalition.

“It’s as if the state hadn’t thought about the magnitude of the emergency,” she said. “Where is the specific plan for exploding waste?” Hadden asks, referring to the 2014 accident at the New Mexico plant.

LANL, which improperly packed the waste, must now figure out a method to deal with the potentially explosive barrels and make them safe for transport. According to Majure, that method could then be passed along to WCS.

Privatized nuclear operations have been suspect since 1989 when the FBI raided a nuclear weapons facility run by what was then the nation’s largest defense contractor, Rockwell International [14]. The company paid a fine of nearly $20 million for dumping plutonium -- a man-made product of nuclear fission that does not occur in nature -- into the environment.

WCS is the only private company in the United States licensed to import class "B" and "C" low level waste from other states. The term “low level” is a catch-all classification that does not mean it’s safer or less dangerous; it simply means it’s radioactive waste that can’t be classified as spent fuel from reactors, which is often termed “high level” waste. Another waste source called “greater than class C” is a more highly radioactive version that must be kept away from human contact for many thousands of years.

A sordid history

Harold C. Simmons was a hedge fund investor with a reputation for taking over technology companies while claiming to be a ”builder” and not a “destroyer” of the companies he bought -- companies which included WCS, Halliburton, and National Lead.

Among the leaders of these companies were powerful figures in the Republican Party [3]. These included Gale Norton -- former Secretary of the Interior under George W. Bush and an attorney who defended National Lead against charges of lead paint poisoning of schoolchildren -- and Dick Cheney, head of Halliburton in the 1990s. Halliburton reportedly received $40 billion dollars in government contracts during the Iraq war.

Kent Hance, former chancellor of Texas Tech, and a former congressman and lobbyist, had initially approached Simmons with a proposition to buy WCS. But some details had to be worked out if WCS was going to be profitable. The company not only needed the state of Texas to allow the dump; it also needed permission to store waste from other states. Hance, made famous in Oliver Stone’s Bush biopic “W” as the only person who ever beat George W. Bush in an election, became a partner in WCS and the serious politicking began.

Bright future for dumping, grim future for the public

In February of 2015, the company announced plans to get a license for spent nuclear fuel from commercial nuclear power plants which would allow it to accept high level waste. WCS said it expects to have the license by 2019 [15].

Meanwhile, the federal government has amassed a fund of about $30 billion from utility ratepayers, corporate money and government subsidies purportedly intended to fund research into finding a way to dispose of more than 70,000 tons of commercial nuclear reactor waste currently stored on site at reactors across the country. The result is a potential boom for operators like WCS -- a radioactive version of the gold rush, funded by taxpayers.

The question is, what will be the fate of the water supply in America’s increasingly aquifer-dependent farm belt?

Teacher and freelance writer Paul DeRienzo won a grant from the George Polk Awards to write about his father's experiences as a nuclear engineer in the 1960s. A commentator on RT-America, co-author of the Ibogaine Story and former editor in chief of High Times, the pro-marijuana monthly, his public access TV show “Let Them Talk” is broadcast every Tuesday at 8 on the Manhattan Neighborhood Network. He wrote this article exclusively for


Friday, September 04, 2015

Into the Streets to Reject the Next Imperium in Japan

Future of War and Peace at Stake in Streets of Japan

by David Swanson - War Is a Crime

04 September 2015

The United States and its European allies have launched wars on the Middle East that have created an enormous refugee crisis. The same nations are threatening Russia.

The question of maintaining peace with Iran is on the tip of everyone's tongue. Even in Asia and the Pacific, not to mention Africa, the biggest military buildup is by the United States.

So why does Japan, of all places, have streets full of antiwar demonstrations for the first time since the U.S. war on Vietnam? I don't mean the usual protests in Okinawa of U.S. bases. I mean Japanese protests of the Japanese government. Why? Who did Japan bomb? And why do I say the future of war and peace in the world is at stake in Japan?

Let's back up a little. Japan went through a period of relative peace and prosperity between 1614 and 1853. The U.S. military forced Japan open to trade and trained Japan as a junior partner in imperialism, a story told well in James Bradley's The Imperial Cruise. The junior partner chose not to stay a junior partner, challenging U.S. dominance in World War II.

At the end of World War II, the war's losers in Japan and Germany were put on trial for an act that had been perfectly legal until 1928, the act of making war. In 1928, the global peace movement, led by the U.S. movement for the Outlawry of War, created the Kellogg-Briand Pact, a treaty that prohibits all war, a treaty to which most nations of the world are party today. This is a story I tell in my book When the World Outlawed War. President Franklin Roosevelt used the Kellogg-Briand Pact to create prosecutions of war.

Now, the general success thus far and in the future of the Kellogg-Briand Pact can be debated. It has prevented wars, it has stigmatized war, it has made war a crime that can be prosecuted in court (at least against losers), and World War III hasn't happened yet. But wars by wealthy nations against poor ones roll right along. The pact itself was of course never expected to abolish war on its own, a standard to which nobody ever holds any other law.

The Japanese success of the Kellogg-Briand Pact is a different matter. At the end of World War II, long-time Japanese diplomat and peace activist and new prime minister Kijuro Shidehara asked General Douglas MacArthur to outlaw war in a new Japanese constitution. The result was Article Nine of the Japanese Constitution, the wording of which is nearly identical to that of the Kellogg-Briand Pact.

Japan, which had gone centuries without war, would go another 70 years. The U.S. Outlawrists of the 1920s never imagined their work being imposed on a conquered nation by a ruling general. But they might have imagined it being taken up by the Japanese people. If Article Nine was not clearly owned by the Japanese people themselves in 1947, it was in 1950. In that year, the United States asked Japan to throw out Article Nine and join a new war against North Korea. Japan refused.

When the American War (in Vietnam) came along, the United States made the same request of Japan to abandon Article Nine, and Japan again refused. Japan did, however, allow the U.S. to use bases in Japan, despite huge protest by the Japanese people.

Japan refused to join in the First Gulf War, but provided token support, refueling ships, for the war on Afghanistan (which the Japanese prime minister openly said was a matter of conditioning the people of Japan for future war-making). Japan repaired U.S. ships and planes in Japan during the 2003 war on Iraq, although why a ship or plane that could make it from Iraq to Japan and back needed repairs was never explained.

Now, at U.S. urging, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe is attempting to formally throw out Article Nine, or to "reinterpret" it to mean its opposite. And the Japanese people, to their everlasting credit, are in the streets defending their constitution and their culture of peace.

Meanwhile, the people of the United States, with some 50% of their popular movie entertainment (by my unscientific estimate) based around a good-and-evil drama of World War II, are not only not in the streets. They're not even in touch with the world. They have no idea this is going on. And if, 50 years from now, a heavily militarized Japan attacks Hawaii, the people of the United States will continue to have no idea how that happened.

There are peace activists around the world struggling to uphold the idea that a modern nation can live without war. Japan is a leading example, with certain obvious shortcomings, of how that can be done. We cannot afford to lose Japan as a model of peace. We cannot afford to hear from war mongers five years from now that war is proven inevitable by the return of the Japanese to war. We cannot afford to hear the United Nations, ten years from now, credit Japan with the humanitarian service of protecting people by bombing them. We cannot afford, twenty years from now, to hear that the Pentagon must be built up to guard against the evil Japanese.

Now, in fact, not later, but right now, would be a good moment in which to wake up and value what Japan has achieved. Now would be an ideal moment in which to remember that Japan's Article Nine was already and remains the law of the land in our other nations through the text of the Kellogg-Briand Pact. Let's start obeying the law.

* Much credit to David Rothauser for his film Article 9 Comes to America, and for being my guest next week on Talk Nation Radio. * Photo from

Guatemala's President Arrested Following Resignation

Guatemalan President Molina Arrested After Resignation


September 4, 2015  

In Guatemala after months of protests against government corruption, in particular a case of siphoning millions of dollars from customs contracts, President Otto Pérez Molina resigned on Thursday, citing that he needs to deal with his personal situation. A new interim government has already been sworn in.

Apart from all of this, Guatemalans will be heading to the polls on Sunday for a general election. joining me to discuss all of this is Andrea Ixchíu. She is an indigenous Maya K'iche human rights activist and journalist from Guatemala. She works with the Guatemalan independent media outlet Prensa Communitaria.

Journalist Andrea Ixchiu describes the massive protests and legal case that led to the resignation and arrest of President Otto Perez Molina of Guatemala.

Refugee "Crisis" a Sign of West's Middle East Military Policy Success

Who is responsible for the refugee crisis in Europe? 

by Bill Van Auken - WSWS

4 September 2015

The gut-wrenching images of a three-year-old Syrian boy washed up on a Turkish beach, lying face-down in the sand, his lifeless body then cradled by a rescue worker, have brought home to people all over the world the desperate crisis that is unfolding on Europe’s borders.

The family of the toddler, Aylan Kurdi, had come from Kobani, fleeing along with hundreds of thousands of others. A protracted siege by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) and an intense US bombing campaign has left the northern Syrian city in ruins, its houses as well as water, electrical, sanitation and medical infrastructure destroyed. The boy was one of 12 who drowned in an attempt to reach Greece, including his mother and five-year-old brother. His distraught father, the family’s sole survivor, said he would return to Syria with their bodies, telling relatives that he hoped only to die and be buried alongside them.

There is plenty of blame to go around for these deaths, which are representative of many thousands more who have lost their lives trying to cross the Mediterranean or suffocated after being stuffed like sardines into overheated vans.

Canada’s Conservative Party government ignored a request made in June by the boy’s aunt, who lives in British Columbia, to grant Aylan’s family asylum.

The countries of the European Union have treated the surge in refugees as a matter of repression and deterrence, throwing up new fences, setting up concentration camps and deploying riot police in an effort to create a Fortress Europe that keeps desperate families like Aylan’s at bay and condemns thousands upon thousands to death.

But what of the US? American politicians and the US media are deliberately silent on Washington’s central role in creating this unfolding tragedy on Europe’s borders.

The Washington Post, for example, published an editorial earlier this week stating that Europe “can’t be expected to solve on its own a problem that is originating in Afghanistan, Sudan, Libya and—above all—Syria.” The New York Times sounded a similar note, writing: “The roots of this catastrophe lie in crises the European Union cannot solve alone: war in Syria and Iraq, chaos in Libya…”

What, in turn, are the “roots” of the crises in these countries which have given rise to this “catastrophe”? The response to this question is only guilty silence.

Any serious consideration of what lies behind the surge of refugees into Europe leads to the inescapable conclusion that it constitutes not only a tragedy but a crime. More precisely, it is the tragic byproduct of a criminal policy of aggressive wars and regime change interventions pursued uninterruptedly by US imperialism, with the aid and complicity of its Western European allies, over the course of nearly a quarter century.

With the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, the US ruling elite concluded that it was free to exploit America’s unrivaled military might as a means of offsetting US capitalism’s long-term economic decline. By means of military aggression, Washington embarked on a strategy of establishing its hegemony over key markets and sources of raw materials, beginning first and foremost with the energy-rich regions of the Middle East and Central Asia.

This strategy was summed up crudely in the slogan advanced by the Wall Street Journal in the aftermath of the first war against Iraq in 1991: “Force works.”

What the world is witnessing in today’s wave of desperate refugees attempting to reach Europe are the effects of this policy as it has been pursued over the whole past period.

Decade-long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, waged under the pretext of a “war on terrorism” and justified with the infamous lies about Iraqi “weapons of mass destruction,” succeeded only in devastating entire societies and killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children.

They were followed by the US-NATO war for regime change that toppled the government of Muammar Gaddafi and turned Libya into a so-called failed state, wracked by continuous fighting between rival militias. Then came the Syrian civil war—stoked, armed and funded by US imperialism and its allies, with the aim of toppling Bashar al-Assad and imposing a more pliant Western puppet in Damascus.

The predatory interventions in Libya and Syria were justified in the name of “human rights” and “democracy,” receiving on this basis the support of a whole range of pseudo-left organizations representing privileged layers of the middle class—the Left Party in Germany, the New Anti-Capitalist Party in France, the International Socialist Organization in the US and others. Some of them went so far as to hail the actions of Islamist militias armed and funded by the CIA as “revolutions.”

The present situation and the unbearable pressure of death and destruction that is sending hundreds of thousands of people into desperate and deadly flight represent the confluence of all of these crimes of imperialism. The rise of ISIS and the ongoing bloody sectarian civil wars in both Iraq and Syria are the product of the US devastation of Iraq, followed by the backing given by the CIA and US imperialism’s regional allies to ISIS and similar Islamist militias inside Syria.

No one has been held accountable for these crimes. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell and others in the previous administration who waged a war of aggression in Iraq based upon lies have enjoyed complete impunity. Those in the current administration, from Obama on down, have yet to be called to account for the catastrophes they have unleashed upon Libya and Syria. Their accomplices are many, from a US Congress that has acted as a rubber stamp for war policies to an embedded media that has helped foist wars based upon lies upon the American public, and the pseudo-lefts who have attributed a progressive role to US imperialism and its “humanitarian interventions.”

Together they are responsible for what is unfolding on Europe’s borders, which, more than a tragedy, is part of a protracted and continuing war crime.

Thursday, September 03, 2015

Equating Police Critics with Cop Killing Accomodation

Accommodating Abuse: Critics of Police Abuse Critics Practice Defiant Denial

by Linn Washington Jr.  - This Can't Be Happening

Over 1,500 miles separate Harris County, Texas and Harrison Township, New Jersey yet public officials in those two jurisdictions seemingly share a similar disdain for persons who protest against abuse by police.

Recently Ron Hickman, the Sheriff of Harris County, Texas, blasted the Black Lives Matters movement blaming that surging anti-abuse entity for being an impetus for the brutal murder of a Harris County deputy.

Hickman readily acknowledged that he didn’t have all of the facts surrounding the murder of Deputy Darren Goforth, particularly the motive for that murder. However, that lack of facts didn’t stop Hickman from his hair-trigger blast of Black Lives Matters for that murder committed by a man known to have a long history of mental illness who had no involvement with Black Lives Matter.

Earlier this year, the five-member governing Committee of Harrison Township, NJ approved a resolution “Recognizing and Honoring” the service of law enforcement officers. But that resolution was fraught with false facts like the assertion that most critics of police brutality are “career criminals and agitators who seek to divide our nation…”

Curiously overlook by the authors and endorsers of that Harrison Township resolution is the fact that the overwhelming majority of persons who participate in anti-brutality protests are law-abiding citizens opposed to lawlessness by law enforcers. Persons that have led anti-brutality protests in South Jersey communities near Harrison Township have been respected members of the clergy and prominent community leaders, not the “career criminals” referenced in that resolution approved on February 2, 2015.

Although the Black Lives Matters movement certainly is not beyond criticism, it is disingenuous to pillory that social justice protest as an initiator of attacks on police.

‘Calling Out’ police abuse is not the same as issuance of a call to attack police. Black Lives Matter does ‘call out’ the repeated failures across America to corral police brutality but it does not call upon people to attack police.

That Harrison Township resolution pointedly condemned the news media for having “perpetuated false narratives” that made law enforcement targets of reprisals inclusive of “the assassination of a number of law enforcement officers throughout the country in recent weeks.”

The Officer Down Memorial Page website listed only one death of a police officer due to gunfire during the ‘recent weeks’ that covered the entire month of January 2015. And, the Memorial Page listed that one death as “accidental.”

Tabloid news media often receives criticism for its practice of fudging facts to create a ‘good story.’ Apparently that tabloid practice is the fact challenged approach employed by those officials in Harrison Township, a semi-rural area of farms and many upscale housing developments located 25-miles southeast of Philadelphia.

The Officer Down Memorial Page website did list four police officers killed by gunfire in December 2014.

A man with a history of mental illness who claimed he was reacting to the fatal shooting of a black teen in Ferguson, Missouri by a white policeman killed two policemen in New York City. The cop killers in the two other December 2014 fatal shootings were a fugitive seeking to escape a return to prison and a man involved in a domestic dispute with his girlfriend.

None of the three men responsible for those fatal shootings of police last December had any involvement with Black Lives Matter or any history of engagement with social justice protests. However, New York City police union officials along with their confederates in political office and the press immediately tarred the Black Lives Matters movement and other civil rights leaders as having blood-on-their-hands for backing anti-brutality protests.

Many see hypocrisy in that fact that most of those now castigating anti-brutality initiatives, like Black Lives Matters, have been historically silent on abuses by police.

Police brutality is a long-standing scourge that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. criticized twice during his seminal “I Have A Dream” speech delivered in August 1963. One of the few police departments detailed for excessive brutality in the October 1981 “Who Is Guarding The Guardians?” report issued by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission was Houston, the largest city in Harris County, Texas.

Ron Hickman, the Sheriff of Harris County, Texas, proclaimed “dangerous rhetoric” against police has “gotten out of control.”

Hickman said the “general climate” of the rhetoric generated by the Black Lives Matters “can be influential on people” to kill police.

Hickman had a different stance on cause-&-effect earlier this year. A cellphone video captured two of Hickman’s deputies cursing and abusing their authority during a traffic stop. But Hickman made no comments about abusive police culture comparable to his attack on Black Lives Matter.

If “all lives matter [and] cops’ lives matter, too,” as Hickman and others contend, then there would be no impetus for Black Lives Matters. That movement sprang up because the police killing of non-whites, particularly blacks, historically has received short shrift across American society.

A report on abusive misconduct by police issued by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission in November 2000 stated, “People of color, women and the poor are groups of Americans that seem to bear the brunt of the [police] abuse which compounds the other injustices that they may suffer as a result of discrimination…”

That 2000 report, following up on the Civil Rights Commission’s 1981 police brutality report, noted that reports of police brutality, harassment and misconduct “continue to spread throughout the country.”

In 2014 the United Nations Human Rights Committee issued a report on widespread human rights violations in the United States that included criticism of racial profiling by police and “excessive use of force” by law enforcement personnel. America’s body politic brushed off that UN Human Rights report as it has reports by the U.S. Civil Rights Commission.

That 2000 Civil Rights Commission report declared, “Police brutality tears violently at the fabric of our nation, leaving in its aftermath a distrustful and divided community.”

That U.S. Civil Rights Commission declaration is a reality that those who castigate critics of police abuse rarely recognize.

NeverHome: Dissecting Canada's Post-Harper Immigration Policy

New multimedia report exposes discriminatory immigration policy


September 1, 2015

VANCOUVERA new multimedia project sheds light on the drastically changed landscape for immigrants under the Harper government.

Never Home: Legislating Discrimination in Canadian Immigration launches today at and pieces together nine years of Conservative immigration and refugee policy changes to paint a dramatic picture of unfair exclusions.

According to Harsha Walia, report co-author “Permanent residency for refugees, skilled workers and family members is being curtailed, citizenship is becoming harder to get and easier to lose, but the migrant worker program is exploding. The Conservative government boasts about ‘fixing’ the immigration system but they have actually eliminated immigration. Making immigration more temporary, exclusionary and exploitative is, in fact, discriminatory.”

Hessed Torres, a certified nurse who came to Canada as a Live-in Caregiver featured in one of the videos, asks: “Am I not deserving to be paid correctly? Is it that I am not Canadian?”

Never Home features a 10,000-word report, seven video interviews with refugees, migrant workers, and citizens on the impacts of recent policy changes; and high-impact infographics.

“Immigration and refugee policy is a confusing jigsaw and understanding the overall impact of the many changes has been difficult. The picture that emerges from our research and the stories that are shared is devastating. Never Home is a thorough challenge to the federal government’s claims to a fair and efficient immigration and refugee policy,” says report co-author Omar Chu.

Key findings from Never Home include:

  • Between 2006 and 2011, the number of family-class immigrants dropped 20 percent, while the number of accepted refugees dropped 30 percent.
  • Number of non-permanent residents who entered Canada in 2013 (460,663 persons) exceeded the number of those who landed as or became permanent immigrants (258,953 persons).
  • Between 2006 and 2014, 87,317 migrants were jailed without charge. In one year alone, between 2009 and 2010, 807 migrant and Canadian children were behind bars.

Multilingual summaries of the report are being distributed in immigrant communities in British Columbia and Ontario. “All the political parties are trying to grab the immigrant vote, but none are ensuring permanent residency rights,” explains Sozan Savehilaghi of No One Is Illegal.

“This project provides immigrants with the information they need to demand the changes we deserve.”

– 30 –
For Immediate Release:
MEDIA: Harsha Walia, Omar Chu , Sozan Savehilaghi

Source and Santuary: Where Should Syrians Seek Solace?

Refugees Should Seek Refuge in Synagogues

by Gilad Atzmon

Yesterday Germany turned on Britain over the migrant crisis. Germany expects to accept 800,000 asylum seekers by the end of the year. Britain is also preparing for the growing refugee disaster -- It closed its gates.

The German call makes some sense I must admit. After all, it was Tony Blair and his Labour Government that launched the criminal war that led to this global humanitarian crisis. But Blair wasn’t alone. In fact he was merely a Sabbos Goy.

When Blair took Britain into Iraq his chief fundraisers were Lord cash point Levy of the Labour Friends Of Israel. Jewish Chronicle writers David Aaronovitch and Nick Cohen were the prime advocates for the immoral interventionist wars in the British media and beyond.

Since then, we have seen the Jewish lobby openly pushing for more and more wars (Syria, Iran, Libya etc.). In France it was the CRIF and Bernard Henri Levy that pushed for the intervention in Libya that has turned the Mediterranean Sea into a death trap.

I don’t know how many refugees Lord Levy, Bernard Henri Levy and David Aaronovitch can fit into their spare rooms, but I do believe that the Jewish community should immediately place itself at the forefront of any humanitarian effort for the refugees.

First because Jews claim to know more than anyone else about suffering. But mainly because it was Jewish aggressive politics and Zionist global lobbying that brought this colossal refugee crisis about.

Definition Creep: "Terrorism's" Lexical Expansionists

Dangerous Redefinition of ‘Terrorism’

by Robert Parry - Consortium News

September 3, 2015

The classic definition of terrorism is the intentional killing of civilians to make a political point, as in planting bombs near the finish line of a marathon or crashing commercial jetliners into buildings filled with office workers.

Yet, the mainstream U.S. media has broadened the definition to include killing U.S. soldiers or allied troops even those operating in foreign lands. For instance, New York Times columnist Thomas L. Friedman on Wednesday cited as a supposed example of “Iran’s terrorism” the bombing of the Marine base in Beirut in 1983, “believed to be the handiwork of Iran’s cat’s paw, Hezbollah.”

New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman

And Friedman is hardly alone in citing the Marine bombing in 1983 as “terrorism” along with Iran’s support for Shiite militias who fought the American occupying army in Iraq last decade.

The U.S. media routinely treats such cases as deserving of the unqualified condemnation that the word “terrorism” implies. Similarly, that attitude is extended to Hezbollah attacks on Israeli military forces even in the 1980s when Israel was occupying southern Lebanon.

But attacks aimed at military forces – not civilians – are not “terrorism” in the classic definition. And this is an important distinction because the word carries deservedly negative moral and legal implications that can put those nations accused of “terrorism” in the cross-hairs of economic sanctions and military attacks that can kill hundreds of thousands and even millions of civilians.

In other words, abuse of the word “terrorism” can have similar consequences as terrorism itself, the indiscriminate deaths of innocent people — men, women and children. Much of the case for sanctions and war against Iraq in the 1990s and 2000s was based on dubious and even false claims about Iraq’s alleged support for Al Qaeda and other terrorists.

And, the 1983 case is especially significant because it is a go-to emotional argument in accusing Iran of having “American blood on its hands” and thus unworthy of any normal diplomatic relations. However, when examining the real history behind the Marine barracks bombing, a much more complex and nuanced story unfolds with blame to be apportioned to all sides.

The immediate context for the tragedy was Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982 and the multi-sided civil war raging among Lebanese factions. Israeli invaders reached the Lebanese capital of Beirut in a matter of days as part of a campaign to crush the Palestine Liberation Organization.

Then, after more fighting and protracted negotiations, Israel forced the P.L.O. to leave Lebanon, departing for Tunisia. But the P.L.O. left behind women and children in refugee camps at Sabra and Shatila, where Israeli officers allowed Israeli-supported Christian militia forces to massacre more than 700 and possibly thousands of Palestinian and Shiite civilians, one of the most shocking atrocities of the war.

Into this chaos, President Ronald Reagan dispatched a force of Marines as peacekeepers, but they gradually were pulled into the fighting on the side of Israel and its militia allies.

National Security Advisor Robert McFarlane, who often represented Israel’s interests in the upper echelons of the Reagan administration, convinced the President to authorize the USS New Jersey to fire long-distance shells into Muslim villages, killing civilians and convincing Shiite militants that the United States had joined the conflict.

On Oct. 23, 1983, Shiite militants struck back, sending a suicide truck bomber through U.S. security positions, demolishing the high-rise Marine barracks in Beirut and killing 241 American servicemen. Reagan soon repositioned the surviving U.S. forces offshore.

Though the U.S. news media immediately labeled the Marine barracks bombing an act of “terrorism,” Reagan administration insiders knew better, recognizing that McFarlane’s “mission creep” had made the U.S. troops vulnerable to retaliation.

“When the shells started falling on the Shiites, they assumed the American ‘referee’ had taken sides,” Gen. Colin Powell wrote in his memoir, My American Journey. In other words, Powell, who was then military adviser to Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger, recognized that the actions of the U.S. military had altered the status of the Marines in the eyes of the Shiites.

Reagan’s redeployment of the Marines offshore also didn’t end U.S. intervention in Lebanon. The tit-for-tat violence in Beirut continued. CIA Director William Casey ordered secret counterterrorism operations against Islamic radicals and dispatched veteran CIA officer William Buckley. But on March 14, 1984, Buckley was spirited off the streets of Beirut to face torture and death.

In 1985, Casey targeted Hezbollah leader Sheikh Fadlallah in an operation that included hiring operatives who detonated a car bomb outside the Beirut apartment building where Fadlallah lived.

As described by Bob Woodward in Veil, “the car exploded, killing 80 people and wounding 200, leaving devastation, fires and collapsed buildings. Anyone who had happened to be in the immediate neighborhood was killed, hurt or terrorized, but Fadlallah escaped without injury. His followers strung a huge ‘Made in the USA’ banner in front of a building that had been blown out.”

In other words, the U.S. government dove into the bloody swamp of terrorism even as it was condemning other parties of engaging in terrorism. But the moral morass that was Lebanon, circa 1982-85, is not what Friedman and other U.S. propagandists describe when they smear Iran as some particularly evil force. Nor does Friedman operate with an objective definition of terrorism.

As Colin Powell recognized, once the United States joined the Lebanese civil war as a belligerent, U.S. troops became legitimate targets for retaliation. As much as one may lament the deaths of 241 U.S. personnel (or any deaths for that matter), it was not an act of “terrorism.”

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and You also can order Robert Parry’s trilogy on the Bush Family and its connections to various right-wing operatives for only $34. The trilogy includes America’s Stolen Narrative. For details on this offer, click here.

This Is Culture!? Israel Minister Says Women "Fair Game" for Shooting

Israeli Minister of Culture says Soldiers Should Have Shot Nabi Saleh Women

by IMEMC News & Agencies - Al Ray/ World Bulletin

September 03, 2015

Israeli Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, has said that the army should have shot the Palestinian women who saved Mohammad al-Tamimi from abuse by an Israeli soldier.

Israeli Minister of Culture, Miri Regev, has said that the Israeli army should have shot the Palestinian women who saved Mohammad al-Tamimi from abuse by an Israeli soldier. The incident took place during the Nabi Saleh village’s weekly demonstration against the illegal confiscation of their land, according to a report in Middle East Monitor.

In a Facebook statement, she said that the unarmed protesters should have been shot. Regev called on Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to change the army’s policy on the use of live-fire because of the “humiliation” the soldier endured.

“We need to decide immediately that a soldier that is attacked is permitted to return fire. Period. I call on the minister of security to put an end to the humiliation and change the open fire regulations immediately!”

“Anyone who tries to harm Israeli civilians and soldiers needs to know his blood is in his head,” Regev continued, using a Hebrew expression to convey that the Palestinians who assaulted the soldier are fair game for shooting.

Israeli forces took the parents of the boy into custody on Tuesday.

See: Parents of Tamimi Boy Jailed

Conquistador Dos: Saving El Salvador's Water

For the Love of Water: El Salvador's Mining Ban

by Lynn Holland - CounterPunch

For some time now, U.S. and Canadian mining companies have been seeking out new mining sites in Latin America and elsewhere in the developing world. This is partly because high-grade ores that are easily accessible in the U.S. and Canada are in the process of being used up. It is also due to expensive litigation and mitigation costs that mining companies must undertake in developed countries. Not long ago, Salvadorans welcomed foreign owned mining companies into their country. Yet for the last several years, metal mining has been banned in El Salvador by presidential decree and citizen groups are now working to enact a permanent nationwide ban on such undertaking.

With six million people, El Salvador is the smallest and most densely populated country in Central America, as well as the most water-scarce. It also is one of the most environmentally degraded countries in Latin America. A period of rapid urbanization and industrialization in the 1990s deprived the country of about 20 percent of its subsurface water. Today, over 90 percent of its surface water is contaminated with industrial chemicals, making it unsuitable to drink even if the water is boiled, chlorinated or filtered beforehand.

In order to extract tiny particles of gold, mining companies have to apply a leaching process that involves the use of cyanide and enormous amounts of water. As NACLA reported in 2011, “the average metallic mine uses 24,000 gallons of water per hour, or about what a typical Salvadoran family consumes in 20 years.” In less developed countries where regulatory agencies are weak and water scarce, then metal mining can have serious public health and environmental consequences.

Back in 1992, after a lengthy and devastating civil war, reformed-minded Salvadorans were eager to rebuild their conflicted ravaged country. In the years that followed, the rate of economic growth was well above the average for Latin American countries. Investment levels rose from $30 million USD in 1992 to $5.9 billion USD in 2008, much of it in mining. The expectation was that the sector would create jobs, stimulate growth, promote development and increase government revenue. In fact, these goals were specified in the preamble of the Mining Law of 1996.

The preamble also expressed the intention that the mining process be “convenient for investors in the mining sector.” Consistent with this, a 2001 amendment to the Mining Law increased the amount of territory that could be granted to mining companies while decreasing government royalty from 3 percent to 1 percent. In addition, the Investment Law of 1999 allowed foreign companies to sue the Salvadoran government through, the International Centre of Settlement Investment Disputes (ICSID), and tribunal housed by the World Bank. Clearly, the government was competing hard to attract mining investments.

Seduced and abandoned

According to Canadian-owned Pacific Rim Corporation, the government threw out the welcome mat when it showed up in hopes of exploring for gold. Long engaging conversations between the government and company officials took place and there was careful adaptation of the country’s laws to accommodate the company. In fact, as a member of Pacific Rim’s Board of Directors later explained, El Salvador had “very friendly mining laws… which we, as a matter of fact, had a hand in helping the government draft so that El Salvador would be open and receptive to mining investment and allow deposits to be developed in a timely way.”

At the same time, the Mining Law required extractive companies to submit an environmental impact assessment (EIA) of the proposed project and to shoulder enormous costs not only in constructing the mine, but also “to prevent, control, minimize and compensate the negative effects that might be caused to local residents or the environment….” This meant assuring that all waters returned to the waterways were “free of contamination, so that they do not affect human health or the development of animal or plant life.”

In 2002, while relations were still cordial, the Salvadoran government encouraged Pacific Rim to apply for a permit for exploration, as a preliminary step to receiving permission for extraction. Once the permit was in hand, the company invested tens of millions of dollars in exploration and soon was able to discover a rich deposit of gold along the headwaters of the Lempa River in the department of Cabañas. The Lempa, El Salvador’s longest and only navigable river, supplies over half the country with water and allows many to make a basic living through agriculture and fishing.

Soon after, however, the romance between Pacific Rim Corporation and the Salvadoran government began to grow cold. In late 2004, the Pacific Rim Corporation applied for the extraction permit, but the permit was denied “presumptively.” Government officials say that the company had not fulfilled three requirements: government approval of its environmental impact study, a feasibility study and development plan, and possession of the necessary titles to the land at the proposed mining site. At the time, Pacific Rim held less than 13 percent of the area designated for the mine.

According to Robin Broad of American University, company officials were confident that they could work around this last requirement. As she puts it, “Pac Rim was working with President (Antonio) Saca’s vice-president and others to eliminate the requirement that it hold all relevant land titles,” by amending or replacing the applicable mining law in the legislature. That the company intended to participate in making the needed amendments should be no surprise given that it had worked closely with officials in writing the original Mining Law in the first place.

Salvadoran politics were entering a new phase, however. By 2007, the government had revoked an exploratory permit held by the Commerce Group after a study showed high levels of cyanide and sulfur leaching into the San Sebastian River from one of its mines. The mine site had been closed ten years before. The following year, President Saca, member of the right-wing ARENA party and one-time supporter of mining interests, announced a moratorium on new mining permits. The two subsequent presidents, both members of the left-wing FMLN party, have since continued the ban by means of a presidential decree.

Outraged by Saca’s rebuff, Pacific Rim proceeded to sue the Salvadoran government in the ICSID, citing the rules of the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA). Because Pacific Rim was a Canadian company at the time, it was not covered by CAFTA and so it proceeded to reincorporate its Cayman Islands subsidiary (which owned the Salvadoran operations) in Nevada. With a subsidiary then relocated in the U.S., Pacific Rim was able to claim that the government’s failure to grant the extraction permit was a CAFTA violation and thereby lodge a demand for $77 million USD in compensation. This amount was later increased to $301 million USD. In 2012, ICSID dismissed the claims related to CAFTA, but accepted jurisdiction over claims based on investment law applicable in El Salvador. The following year the financially struggling company was taken over by Australian-owned OceanaGold.

In filing the case, Pacific Rim argued that the company had been led on. It was, after all, “precisely the kind of investor El Salvador was looking for: a foreign investor with the funding, mining industry know-how, and mineral exploration expertise necessary” to bring the Cabañas mine into production. Furthermore, the company had worked hard to “integrate itself into the communities” near the project, hosting many informational gatherings and tours of the facilities, building roads, drilling for water, sponsoring educational programs, health clinics and sporting events, and planting over 40,000 trees. So after years of close relations during which Pacific Rim “understood that it was dealing with a ‘top down’ political structure,” the presidential rebuff came as unforeseen and disruptive blow.

The environmental movement

From its grassroots beginnings, the environmental movement in El Salvador has gained considerable influence over the years. In Cabañas, Antonio Pacheco, director of the Association for Economic and Social Development (ADES), a local civic organization, initially thought that a mine would bring new jobs and thereby reduce poverty. Soon, however, ADES was addressing complaints about water quality and diseased livestock that were being ignored by government agencies. He and his organization began to work with other environmental groups and in 2004 organized a mining forum to discuss the long-term impacts of mining in El Salvador.

In 2005, ADES invited U.S. hydro geologist Robert Moran to conduct an independent review of Pacific Rim’s explorations. In his review, Moran found that the official company study had failed to include baseline information regarding water quality and quantity. “The cost for water was zero,” he said in a recent interview. As such, the company had failed to assess the costs to the community in utilizing large quantities of the local water supply. Moran also concluded that the Pacific Rim EIA had ignored many environmental impacts evident at existing gold mines and would be unacceptable to regulatory agencies in most developed countries. Moran made note that the EIA review process lacked openness and transparency, that only one printed copy of the 1400 page document had been made available to the public (much of it only in English), and that a period of only ten working days had been set aside for public review.

Over the next two years, environmental activists from Cabañas and other areas traveled to Honduras and Guatemala to visit mining sites in those countries. These included an abandoned gold mine in Valle de Siria in Honduras, which revealed “widespread deforestation, catastrophic loss of surface water resources, polluted waters, and respiratory and skin ailments of people living nearby.” My own tour of Valle de Siria in 2013 confirmed these findings and included the shocking sight of herds of emaciated cattle struggling to survive in parched fields.

Around the same time, ADES, with the help of Oxfam International and other NGOs, founded the National Roundtable Against Metal Mining (also called The “Roundtable”). The first major coalition of its kind in El Salvador, The Roundtable vigorously publicized the conditions at Valle de Siria and elsewhere through public education, speaking events and marches. In time, the organization opted to make the passage of a national ban on metal mining its chief goal.

By 2006, the tide was beginning to turn against the mining interests. A group of researchers from the University of El Salvador conducted a study of waterways in and around the abandoned mine owned by the Commerce Group. They reported cadmium levels that were 72 times those recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and mercury that was 36 times the EPA recommended level. The Roundtable subsequently led the way in filing a lawsuit against the company.

Around the same time, an “unusual and farsighted alliance grew” between the Ministries of Economy and Environment around the need to do a strategic environmental review of metal mining. As the environmental minister told the legislature, “We will only permit mining exploitation if the companies mitigate 100 percent of the harm, which would be impossible, since that would require greater investment than the total gold and silver reserves.” With this, an informal ban on metal mining was underway.

The Catholic Church in El Salvador followed suit in 2007 when seven bishops and an archbishop came out with a formal proclamation in favor of a national ban. Later that year, university polls showed that 62.4 percent of Salvadorans were opposed to mining in El Salvador.

Environmental activists paid a price for these advances, however. Richard Steiner, a conservationist at the University of Alaska, documented increasing violence directed at local environmental activists from 2004 when “community opposition to the mine commenced in Cabañas.” This included threats, assault, kidnapping, and the murder of three activists in 2009. A pro-mining businessman was also murdered at that time under complicated circumstances. The staff of a community-run radio station opposed to gold mining told how they had been harassed and threatened. Steiner also described, “serious shortcomings with judicial follow-through with regard to crimes committed against mine opponents.”

At the same time, Roundtable activists’ tactics have also been criticized. The words “Death to Canadian Miners” have appeared on circulated fliers and there have been reports of harassment of Pacific Rim employees. For their part, Roundtable leaders have denounced any use of violence as part of their campaign.

The case against ICSID

To date, each side has spent millions of dollars presenting its case before the ICSID court. If the Salvadoran government loses, it could be required either to allow the Cabañas mining project to proceed or to pay $301 million USD to Pacific Rim. This might amount to about 5 percent of the GDP in El Salvador, one of the poorest countries in the Western Hemisphere. Government leaders have said that they will pay up if necessary just to keep the mining industry out of their country. But they fear that a loss in ICSID could result in a rash of new lawsuits and loss of control over the development process.

In my interview with him, Bob Moran criticized the remote and legalistic nature of ICSID. “We’ve allowed a system to evolve where all the assessments are done within

forums that international business interests have produced,” he said. “They’ve also had a lot of influence in the wording of the international trade agreements” that the court relies on. “Forget the legal stuff,” he continued. “The EIA is technically unacceptable – it is a corrupt document that would have been unacceptable anywhere.” And while business is making profits, he went on, we’re socializing the costs. “The average life of a gold mine is less than fifteen years.” After that, “you’re left with fixing whatever happened” whether it’s poisoned streams, deforested hillsides, or a sickened population.

While Salvadorans await the outcome of the case, a new action plan for passing a nationwide ban has begun to unfold. In just the last year, several rural communities have passed their own prohibitions against metal mining. San Jose Las Flores, San Isidro Labrador and Nueva Trinidad, have all held popular consultations, which resulted in overwhelming approval for a ban in each case. As San Jose Las Flores mayor Felipe Tobar explained, “I want to encourage other municipal governments to ban mining in their territories and also encourage members of the legislative assembly to approve legislation to ban mining to ensure the long term sustainability of our environment.” Ten other municipalities have been targeted for future consultations.

* * *

In neighboring Honduras, the growth of the environmental movement has paralleled that of El Salvador’s in many ways. Community level concerns have come together with those of domestic and international NGOs. New restrictions were proposed and plans to establish a country-wide ban drew the support of the president just as it has been the case in El Salvador. Unfortunately, these plans already have come to abrupt halt when that president was unceremoniously ousted from office in 2009.

Lynn Holland is a Senior Research Fellow at the Council On Hemispheric Affairs.

Wednesday, September 02, 2015

Bradford: Bad Apple in West Point's Rotten Sauce

The Gruesome Gray Line: No Mystery in Hiring of West Point Wacko

by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque

In the Atlantic, Matt Ford probes the works of William Bradford, the controversial (and now dismissed) West Point professor whose berserker visions of unhinged state terror, at home and abroad, in the “war against Islamism” give General Buck Turgidison (“I’m saying no more than 10 or 20 million killed, tops!”) a run for his money.

After a thorough examination of the views Bradford has been teaching the nation’s future military leaders, Ford ends in puzzlement at how this situation arose in the first place. But surely there is no mystery to that.

Bradford believes that all those who are guilty of “skepticism of executive power,” “pernicious pacifism” and “cosmopolitanism” — especially among his fellow law professors and their enablers in the media — can and should be targeted as “unlawful enemy combatants,” just like the Taliban and al Qaeda. Not only are the traitors themselves “legitimate targets,” but also the institutions that employ them or transmit their evil into the public discourse: universities, law schools, media companies.

What’s more, with iron Cheneyian logic, Bradford also says the traitors’ homes should be targeted too — presumably, as Ford notes, with the targets’ spouses and children inside.

Bradford also likes to muse aloud in learned journals about a “hypothetical” military coup in, say, 2017 to be exact, against a “US president attempting to ‘fundamentally transform the United States of America.’” This, as Ford points out, is the mindset of a man “charged with instructing the nation’s officer corps.”

As the Guardian notes, Bradford also argued that:

“total war” against terrorism ought to include military targeting of “Islamic holy sites”, in order to restore an American deterrent. He acknowledged “great destruction, innumerable enemy casualties and civilian collateral damage” were entailed in his proposal, and suggested that dissent ought to be curbed. “[D]oubts and disputes about this war [should] be muted lest around them coalesce a new set of self-imposed restraints that prevent Western forces from waging war with sufficient ferocity and resolve so that either Islamism is discredited and the political will of Islamist peoples to prosecute a jihad collapses, or, if necessary, all who countenance or condone Islamism are dead,” 

A ludicrous but sinister figure then, meat to be made into media mulch and cast aside. But in the conclusion of his article, Ford, bless his heart, is baffled by what appears to him to be an impenetrable mystery. He writes:

Bradford’s resignation severs his affiliation with the United States Military Academy. But it leaves unanswered the question of how he got hired there in the first place, given his checkered past and allegedly exaggerated credentials. And it also fails to explain how a scholar pushing these ideas seems not to have raised red flags any earlier.

But, as noted above, there is absolutely no mystery at all about how “a scholar pushing these ideas” got hired by the nation’s Big Brass mill, or why these visions of murder, tyranny and the ‘moral’ necessity of military rule did not raise any “red flags” at the Point or in the Pentagon.

Obviously they hired him because they liked the cut of his unhinged jib, saw nothing unusual or dangerous in his ideas and were more than happy to have them pressed upon the future leaders of America’s “generational” war against the terror it somehow keeps creating in one nation after another.

Bradford was unlucky that his record — which includes exaggerating his military service, and clouded sojourns at other institutions — was rumbled by the Guardian, so West Point moved quickly to flush away the bad PR. But there can be little doubt that Bradford’s views resonated on many levels with those who hired him.

Officer Down: Media Equivalencies in an Age of Unchecked Police Violence

Houston, We Have a Problem: False Equivalencies on Police Violence

by Jose Martinez - CounterPunch

Just as there is no moral equivalence of a rapist and the rape victim, there is none between the police and Blacks. It is nowhere near a 50/50 equivalence of blame between the police and Blacks, though it is not surprising that there may be some Black pastors or some in the NAACP who will equally tell police and Blacks to tone down the rhetoric, or worse tell only Blacks to do so. It is not a school ground situation where a principal may tell two boys who are fighting to just shake hands and make peace.

Yes, there is finger-pointing and it is distinctly clear thereof that the origin and thereby the solution to police problems is with the police themselves, given that the very origin of policing in the U.S. was slave patrols, to the current extensive documentation of the problems to this very moment. This also applies in a way to the toxic historical and current relationship between police and Hispanic and poor whites, but we need to stay focused today on what is going on in the nation in regard to Blacks.

It is not the rhetoric that simply kills people, as Houston officials claim, but the circumstances. Also, when Houston officers refer to “police lives” mattering and the ideal that all “lives matter,” that is not the current practice nor the history in society. When the Harris County (Houston) DA says “It is not anything we can tolerate” about a deputy killed, that is obvious, though they have obviously been tolerating the killing of people of color disproportionately. Another official said “cops don’t deserve this at all,” but you have not heard him say that Blacks don’t deserve being killed. Moreover, the president of a deputy organization there pointed out public sentiment against police. If that is the case, he should ask why.

The police still expect that their story line is the one to go on, that they are to be believed, though their lying is so second-nature that there is what they themselves refer to “testilying” in court, of all things. Lying from officials got us into Vietnam and the millions killed then and over a million in the Middle East recently.

Prior to being recorded as they are now, police false accounts were to be believed and white juries have been notorious for believing them. Police now blame those recording for the killing of a tiny number of theirs while saying nothing of the thousands they have killed intentionally and their lies about it all. A favorite pastime of police is arresting those who record them.

“Coffee with a Cop” was cancelled in a city when a cop drew a gun on someone who simply was recording him, with no attendant crime scene, etc., otherwise. Thus they are blaming the messenger, including the media in order to cow the latter into submission, but that is unnecessary because the coverage of one police killed is much more extensive (and thus police more valued) than the many Blacks killed by police. Numbers of police killed, by the way, are deceiving in that the majority die in vehicle accidents, etc., not by direct shootings of police, which when it does occur is more likely to be by white supremacist types. Policing in fact is safer than about 10 other occupations. Once while I was driving in Houston I had to stop and tap hard on the window of a police cruiser to wake up the officer to ask for directions.

Not long ago Harris County (Houston) was called “the death machine” because of the high proportion of their sending black, brown and poor white bodies to the execution chamber, which Texas still does disproportionately than other states. In the daytime you can see how Houston schools treat such children, and in the nighttime you can see how police treat them such adults, the school-to-prison pipeline in action.

Just how little black lives matter was seen in Ohio when a Black was pulled over the other day simply for making “direct eye contact” with an officer. A Black was shot in the back while fleeing a police officer, who lied about it. A 12 year old holding a play gun was killed within two seconds, and police lied about it. A baby was killed by the police when they bust into a house. The examples of Black lives not mattering in comparison with White lives and the subsequent lying are countless.

It is not just Black lives that have not mattered much to police. The reason drones are used in the Middle East is to kill “suspects” and other innocents including many children who are valued less than American lives. Likewise Israeli lives are valued more than Palestinian “vermin.”

All this bloodlust is not going to be tempered with body cameras on police or more black and brown skin police and more female officers, since these latter folks often act more brutally against their own, to prove their police creds. Police culture will not change on its own without a very extensive resolution of many circumstances, not the least of which are the caustic socioeconomic circumstance of those who are Black and Hispanic (likewise schools will not become any better without such changes also). The frustrations in the U.S. are not (or have not been so far) found in Europe, hence no killings to speak of by police of citizens there nor of police there, proportionately. In a 24 day period this year here police killed more than police did in England and Wales in the past 24 years.

Police are not about to concede defeat in this war as they call it between them and Blacks. If anything they will exert a great show of force for a time, as they did after two police were killed in New York several months ago. They will hunker down, seeking more public support for them than for BlackLivesMatter, and the public will perceive moral equivalency. Since this can’t go on forever, the greater reality of Blacks killed will resurface, and subside again when another officer may be killed, and the cycle will continue.

Whatever happens, it should be clear that the narrative the police put out is largely false. The disbelief of it is now seen around the country in the long honking against police traffic stops. Cynicism is well deserved. Similar examples are shown with the CIA’s death squads, etc,; the NSA; the FBI with their COINTELPRO, etc.; and the Pentagon, etc., who have simply been lying, in addition to the police. This is the past and now. They are guilty of deception and worse until proven innocent, not the other way around, given their past. That is not conjecture.

The extensive coverage of police funeral parades is obvious. Just as obvious is the nightly parading of black and brown skins in orange inmate jumpsuit mug shots. Not paraded are the arrests (there are none to speak of) of white collar criminals for their more deadly acts against the black and brown skinned and poor whites. How many banksters have gone to prison or been executed for their crimes causing death and destruction? What Blacks and Hispanics do is in no way equivalent to what banksters, the CIA, police, etc. do and have done.

Jose Martinez is a university professor.