Saturday, January 23, 2016

Red Scare: A Panicky Clinton Channels Tail-Gunner Joe

Clinton campaign goes nuclear with red-baiting campaign against Sanders

by Dave Lindorff  - This Can't Be Happening


Signs of Desperation in Hillary Camp as Bernie Looks Increasingly Likely to Win in Iowa and New Hampshire 

January 20, 2016

Someone should have warned Hillary Clinton and the goon squad at the Democratic National Committee that old-fashioned red-baiting isn't going to cut it in today's United States.

It's not the 1950s anymore and the Soviet Union and Comtern are ancient history.

Her campaign in trouble in Iowa and New Hampshire, and her poll numbers falling nationally, Hillary has turned to Sen. McCarthy for inspiration (Joe, not Gene)

With the latest batch of polls showing Bernie Sanders, in the wake of his feisty showing in Sunday's debate against Clinton in Charleston, SC, gaining on her in both early primary states of Iowa and New Hampshire, and nationally, the Clinton campaign and the leadership in the Democratic Party seem to have lost both their minds and whatever principles they may have had.

According to one poll, by CNN/WMUR, conducted just days after the debate, Sanders is now ahead of Clinton in New Hampshire by a blow-out 60% to 33%. That's nearly triple the margin the prior CNN/WMUR poll found in December when the numbers were Sanders 50% and Clinton 40%.

Meanwhile, the latest CNN/ORC Iowa poll, just released Friday, shows Sanders leading Clinton among likely caucus-goers in that state by 8 percentage points 51% to 43%. That is a big turnaround from the same poll done in December, which showed Clinton ahead 54% to 36% for Sanders. Even if there are other polls showing Clinton still marginally ahead in Iowa, the trend has been clear of voters moving from Clinton to Sanders, especially over the past two weeks.

Hence the Clinton campaign's panicky response, which has been to start having surrogates go out and paint Sanders as a "red."

They don't actually call him a commie, but they do the next closest thing, warning that if Sanders were to win the Democratic nomination, he would then be attacked by whoever is the Republican nominee, who would "surely" call him a communist.

How, actually, does this differ from Hillary herself just calling him a commie? Well, it doesn't. Her campaign is calling him a red.

This attempted McCarthyite hatchet job on Sanders was launched in an article in the obligingly complicit New York Times, which on Wednesday ran a one-sided hit piece headlined: "Alarmed Clinton Supporters Begin Focusing on Sanders's Socialist Edge."

In that article, we read the likes of Missouri Gov. Jay Nixon, saying of Sanders, "Here in the heartland, we like our politicians in the mainstream, and he is not -- he's a socialist. He's entitled to his positions, and it's a big-tent party, but as far as having him at the top of the ticket, it would be a meltdown all the way down the ballot."

Then there 's Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri, a neoliberal Clinton supporter, who tells the Times, "The Republicans won't touch (Sanders) because they can't wait to run an ad with a hammer and sickle."

This was followed up on Friday, after another poll showed her down 11 percentage points in Iowa forced Hillary Clinton to concede to supporters that she was likely to lose both Iowa and New Hampshire, with CNN's Wolf Blitzer, the neoliberal former propagandist for the America Israel Public Affairs Committtee who now serves as CNN's Washington bureau chief asking her if she "believes the American people are ready to elect a socialist as president of the United States?" Clinton responds to this spoon-fed question with a stern look saying, "I know a number of Democrats, people who I highly respect are concerned and are expressing that concern to me, to journalists and others..."

The Clintons' fingers are all over this McCarthyite attack. It's exactly the kind of thing Bill and Hillary pulled when they went after Barack Obama after he won the Iowa caucus in 2008, and sparked the epic collapse of Hillary Clinton's first time out as the "inevitable" Democratic nominee for president that year. Now they're trying the same smear tactic on Sanders, and for the same reason.

This time they will fail because Americans are no longer spooked about the idea of socialism, much less of the label. In fact, a poll taken a week ago In Iowa found that a plurality of likely Iowa Democratic caucus-goers, asked to identify themselves as either "capitalists" or as "socialists," chose "socialist." Meanwhile, asked the same question in the last debate, Hillary Clinton proudly declared herself to be a "capitalist."

That uncharacteristic flash of Clinton honesty was correct; she and Bill have pursued money aggressively since leaving office, with an alacrity that would be the envy of many a hedge-fund manager. In fact a fair amount of Hillary's time as Obama's first Secretary of State was devoted to currying favor with particularly sordid but filthy rich foreign autocrats and poobahs who then contributed significant sums to the coffers of the Clinton Foundation -- a giant money-laundering operation that provides salaries and perks to the two Clintons, their daughter, and various acolytes. It's an industry and it generates capital -- a lot of capital -- making her indeed a capitalist. Sanders, in contrast, is one of the poorest members of Congress, who has pointedly not used his 18 years in Washington to enrich himself through bribes and campaign "contributions" from wealthy contributors.

Besides, red-baiting won't work because nobody's afraid of a world communist conspiracy anymore. Russia is capitalist, China is capitalist, Vietnam is capitalist, the US has recognized Cuba. For that matter, Vladimir Putin, despite his origins as an operative in the old Soviet-era KGB, has become a hero of the right wing in the US, and is seen by many -- perhaps even most Americans -- as a better, more focused and decisive leader than President Obama.

Calling someone a red or a Commie or a pinko in today's America is akin to using Shakespearean invective to denounce someone; It's as if Hillary had called Bernie "a lily-livered, action-taking, whoreson, glass-gazing, super-serviceable, finical rogue," as Kent said of Oswald in Shakespeare's King Lear. It just sounds absurd.

But that doesn't excuse Clinton and her backers like Gov. Nix and Sen. McCaskill. They may be inept, antedeluvian and out of touch, but their intentions were clearly to use McCarthyite tactics to smear and destroy Sanders, and that is inexcusable. The fact that the tactic was stupid doesn't negate the fact that their intentions were vile and unacceptable.

Sanders, of course, has courted this through his political career by openly declaring himself to be a "democratic socialist." When he started out doing it in Vermont, a state which, while loaded with immigrant hippies, is also home to many of the same rock-ribbed conservatives who populate the little towns of the neighboring Granite State of "Live Free or Die" New Hampshire, he took his lumps for it, but he didn't back down. Instead, he ended up, serving as the socialist mayor of what pundits took to calling the "People's Republic of Burlington," moving on to become the socialist Congressman from Vermont, and later the socialist Senator from Vermont.

He's just educating a larger national audience now, and since his ideology comes with a heavy dose of denunciation of Wall Street's bankster crooks and of corrupt Washington politicians like his opponent, Hillary Clinton -- people who are on the take from those same crooks and other corporate scoundrels -- he's getting a rousing reception from the electorate.

Clinton, desperate to win and seeing her last shot at the presidency withering away, has hit bottom with this red-baiting effort. Initially, as it became clear that her candidacy was foundering, she turned to lies, having her daughter Chelsea Clinton claim a week ago that Sanders' plan for a universal single-payer Medicare-for-All healthcare program in the US would mean "dismantling Obamacare, dismantling Medicaid, and dismantling CHIP," the insurance program that covers some poor children around the country, and by claiming Sanders had voted for a bill to deregulate derivatives [1] (it was part of a budget bill, and was voted on by all but four members of Congress, besides which the new head of the unregulated commodities trading organization, Gary Gensler, is now the financial director of Hillary Clinton's own campaign!).

Now, lying having failed, she's gone completely off the rails by turning to Sen. Joe McCarthy for inspiration.

Perhaps we should recall and repurpose Joseph Nye Welch's devastating condemnation of Sen. McCarthy when the senator red-baited a young law colleague of Welch's who had for a time as a student at Harvard Law School been a member of the National Lawyers Guild, an organization McCarthy had labeled a "Communist front" organization. Welch responded to the red-baiting smear saying, "Have you no sense of decency, sir, at long last? Have you left no sense of decency?"

Enough said! Let's leave this sorry story of Hillary Clinton's desperate resurrection of McCarthyism with an insult borrowed from Shakespeare's Comedy of Errors.

"Dissembling harlot, thou art false in all!"

Source URL:


Not Allowed In, Demonstrators Surround National Energy Board's Kinder Morgan TransMountain Pipeline Hearing

Hundreds Rally Outside NEB Pipeline Hearings: Citizens and First Nations Call on Trudeau to Scrap Kinder Morgan Review

by Wilderness Committee

January 23, 2016

BURNABY, BC - Local residents, First Nations representatives and environmental groups gathered today outside the National Energy Board (NEB) hearings on the Kinder Morgan Trans Mountain pipeline project to call on the Prime Minister to keep his promise and scrap the flawed federal review process.

Affected communities voiced their opposition to a review that has been widely criticized for ignoring climate change, failing to pursue Indigenous consent, flouting proper procedures and shutting hundreds of people out of the process.

They criticized the makeup of the NEB panel whose members come almost exclusively from the oil and gas sector, and the review process that excludes citizen participation and allows no cross-examination of Kinder Morgan.

"Prime Minister Trudeau needs to hear the voices of the British Columbians whose health and safety are threatened by this project – the same people who he promised new hearings," said Peter McCartney, Wilderness Committee Climate Campaigner. 

"Railroading this project through the process over the united opposition of this region will not be forgotten."

"The project would bring over 400 tar sands tankers each year to BC's south coast, putting marine life and coastal communities at grave risk of a disastrous spill," said Sven Biggs, ForestEthics Campaign Organizer. 

"These ships would carry enough oil to release 100 megatonnes of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere every year – a larger climate impact than many countries."

Indigenous voices from Coast Salish territories threatened by the proposed pipeline spoke at today's rally about how the pipeline and its process violates their rights.

"This current process is fundamentally flawed," said Carleen Thomas from the Tsleil-Waututh Nation Sacred Trust Initiative.
"It does not reflect the importance of Indigenous laws or obligations to protect the lands, air and waters. It does not allow the grassroots citizen an avenue to voice their concerns. It is in no way, shape or form a public process, when those who will be 'directly affected' are left to stand OUTSIDE the hearings. How transparent and democratic is that?"

The rally was held outside the site of the NEB hearing, the Delta Burnaby Hotel & Conference Centre on unceded Coast Salish Territories.


For Immediate Release - January 23, 2016

For more information contact:
Peter McCartney | Climate Campaigner, Wilderness Committee

Israel in the Extreme: Neither Jewish nor Democratic

Extreme, Extremer, Extremest

by Uri Avnery  - CounterPunch

January 22, 2016

As is well-known, Israel is a “Jewish and democratic state”. That is its official designation. Well… As for Jewish, it’s a new kind of Jewishness, a mutation.

For 2000 years or so, Jews were known to be wise, clever, peace-loving, humane, progressive, liberal, even socialist. Today, when you hear these attributes, the State of Israel is not the first name that springs to mind. Far from it.

As for “democratic”, that was more or less true from the foundation of the state in 1948 until the Six-day War of 1967, when Israel unfortunately conquered the West Bank, the Gaza strip, East Jerusalem and the Golan. And, of course, the Sinai peninsula which was later returned to Egypt.

(I say “more or less” democratic, because there is no completely democratic state anywhere in the world.)

Since 1967, Israel has been a hybrid creation – half democratic, half dictatorial. Like an egg that is half fresh, half rotten.

The occupied territories, we should be reminded, consist of at least four different categories:

1) East Jerusalem, which was annexed by Israel in 1967 and is now part of Israel’s capital city. Its Palestinian inhabitants have not been accepted as nor applied to be Israeli citizens. They are mere “inhabitants”, devoid of any citizenship.

2) The Golan Heights, formerly a part of Syria, which was annexed by Israel. The few Arab-Druze inhabitants who remain there are reluctant citizens of Israel.

3) The Gaza Strip, which is completely cut off from the world by Israel and Egypt, acting in collusion. The Israeli navy cuts it off at sea. The minimum the inhabitants need to survive is allowed to come through Israel. The late Ariel Sharon removed the few Jewish settlements from this area, which is not claimed by Israel. Too many Arabs there.

4) The West Bank (of the Jordan river), which the Israeli government and right-wing Israelis call by their Biblical names “Judea and Samaria”, home of the largest part of the Palestinian people, probably some 3.5 million. It is there that the main battle is on.

From the first day of the 1967 occupation, right-wing Israelis were intent on annexing the West Bank to Israel. Under the slogan “the Whole of Eretz Israel” they launched a campaign for annexing this entire territory, driving the Palestinian population out and setting up as many Jewish settlements as possible.

The extremists never hid their intent of “cleansing” this land entirely of non-Jews and establishing a Greater Israel from the Mediterranean Sea to the Jordan River.

This is a very difficult aim to achieve. In 1948, during our so-called “War of Indepedence”, Israel conquered a far larger territory than allotted to it by the United Nations, but was forgiven. Half the Palestinian population of the country was driven out or fled. The fait accompli was more or less accepted by the world because it was achieved by military means in a war started by the Arab side, and because it happened soon after the Holocaust.

By 1967, the situation was quite different. The causes of the new war were disputed, David had turned into Goliath, a world-wide Cold War was on. Israel’s conquests were not recognized, not even by its protector, the US.

In spite of several new Israeli-Arab wars, the end of the Cold War and many other changes, this situation has not changed.

Israel still calls itself a “Jewish and democratic state”. The population in “Greater Israel” is by now half Jewish and half Arab, with the Arabs gaining. Israel proper is still more or less democratic. In the occupied Palestinian territories, a dictatorial “military government” is in charge, with hundreds of thousands of Jewish settlers trying to push out the Palestinian Arab population by all means available, including fraudulent acquisition of land and terrorism (called “retaliation”).

In Israel proper, the government belongs to the extreme Right, with some elements that would be called “fascist” anywhere else. The Center and Left are impotent. The only real political fight is between the radical Right and the even more radical extreme Right.

This week, a furious battle broke out between Binyamin Netanyahu together with his Minister of Defense, Bogie Ya’alon, both of the Likud Party, and the Education Minister, Naftali Bennett, the leader of the Jewish Home Party. Bennett, a wildly ambitious Rightist, makes no secret of his intention to replace Netanyahu as soon as possible.

The kind of language used by the two parties would be considered extreme even if used between the coalition and the opposition. Between partners of the coalition government it is, to put it mildly, rather unusual, even in Israel.

Compared to this, the language of the Leader of the Opposition, Yitzhak Herzog, is practically polite.

Bennett said that Netanyahu and Ya’alon hawk old and obsolete ideas and suffer from “mental paralysis”, thereby worsening Israel’s already shaky standing in the world. Netanyahu and Ya’alon, a former Kibbutz member and army Chief of Staff, accused Bennett of stealing. According to them, whenever a good idea is aired in the cabinet, Bennett runs out of the room and proclaims it as his own. Ya’alon called Bennett “childish” and “reckless”.

Who is right? Unfortunately, all of them.

In between stands (or rather sits) the present army Chief of Staff, Gadi Eizenkot, son of immigrants from Morocco in spite of his German-sounding name. In Israel, curiously enough, the army chiefs are generally more moderate than the politicians.

The general proposed ameliorating the conditions of the Arab population in the occupied territories, such as allowing the people in Gaza to build a harbor and come into contact with the world at large. Amazing.

All this happened at a conference of so-called security experts where everybody had his or her say.

The leaders of the opposition parties also took part. Yitzhak Herzog of Labor, Yair Lapid of the centrist “There is a Future” party and others had their say, but their speeches were so tedious that they were reported only for fairness’ sake. They grabbed some ideas from here and there, called it “my plan” – with peace, if mentioned at all, deferred to the very, very distant future.

Peace, one gathers, is something nice, the matter dreams are made of. Not something for serious politicians.

What remains is a furious fight between the Far Right and the Even Further Right.

Bennett, a former high-tech entrepreneur, wears a kippah on his bald head (frankly, I always wonder what keeps it there, perhaps sheer willpower). He does not hide his conviction that he must replace the stagnant Netanyahu as soon as possible, for the good of the nation.

Bennett accused the incompetent political leadership of failing our brave soldiers and their commanders – an accusation straight out of Mein Kampf, which is about to appear in Hebrew.

Netanyahu’s only possible successor within his Likud party is Ya’alon, a man devoid of any charisma or political talent. However, to succeed, Bennett and his Jewish Home party must overtake Likud at the ballot box – a very difficult thing to do. That’s where the kippah comes in – Divine intervention may be called for.

Speaking about divine intervention: last week the Swedish Foreign Minister, Margot Wallstrom, criticized Israel’s legal system for having different laws for Jews and Arabs. Netanyahu reacted sharply, and lo and behold – by sheer accident, a few days later the Swedish press was full of stories about the corruption of Wallstrom, who did pay less rent for her government apartment than she should have.

All this could be amusing, if it did not concern the future of Israel.

Peace is a dirty word. The end of the occupation is not in sight. The United (Arab) Party is not even in the picture. The same (almost) goes for Meretz.

On the left, despair is the synonym of laziness. There is a mild debate about the idea that only the outside world can save us from ourselves. This is now propagated by the respected former Director General of our Foreign Office, Alon Lyel, a very brave ex-official. I don’t believe in this. The idea of running to the Goyim to save the Jews from themselves is not one to gain wide popularity.

Bennett is right on one point: stagnation, both mental and practical, is no solution. Things must move again. I fervently hope that the young generation will give birth to new forces and new ideas that will push aside Netanyahu, Bennett and their ilk.

As to our much-lauded democracy: it appears that a group financed by the government has for years paid a private detective, whose job was to rifle through the paper baskets of peace activists to obtain information on human rights and peace associations and personalities.

(Fortunately, I shred everything.)

URI AVNERY is an Israeli writer and peace activist with Gush Shalom. He is a contributor to CounterPunch’s book The Politics of Anti-Semitism.
More articles by:Uri Avnery

The WTF! Files: Greenpeace for Sealing?

Greenpeace Has Gone Over to the Dark Side with Their Endorsement for the Sealing Industry

by Captain Paul Watson - SeaShepherd Conservation Society

 What next, an endorsement for Monsanto?

Greenpeace has now crossed the line with their endorsement of seal fur as "sustainable."

I initiated and led the first Greenpeace campaigns against sealing from 1975 until 1977. I really never thought I would see the day when Greenpeace would sell out to the sealing industry.

Jon Burgwald speaking for Greenpeace has announced that Greenpeace supports "sustainable" sealing.

There is no such thing. Seals are threatened by rapidly diminishing fish populations and pollution. Our Ocean is dying and Greenpeace seems to be in abject denial of this reality. We need seals to help maintain a healthy marine eco-system.

Greenpeace is now playing into the hands of the fur industry and the Canadian interest in marketing seal fur to China. The organization is now giving comfort to the seal butchers in supporting one of the most brutal and bloody mass massacres of wildlife on the planet.

As a co-founder of Greenpeace I feel sick and betrayed by this new policy flip-flop by Greenpeace.

How can any compassionate and caring person continue to support Greenpeace after this? What the hell are they thinking?

Greenpeace does not oppose the slaughter of pilot whales in the Faroes or the brutal massacre of dolphins in Taiji, Japan and now this. How long before Greenpeace endorses the illegal whaling operations by Japan which they still raise funds for campaigns that they never actually do? The last time a Greenpeace ship sailed to the Southern Ocean to defend whales was 2007 yet the money begging mail-outs continue to be churned out asking for donations to save the whales.

I have tried to hold my tongue over the last few years with regard to Greenpeace but this, this is a deceitful betrayal of what we created in the Seventies. They have simply spat in the face of their founders like myself, David Garrick and the late Robert Hunter with this shocking revelation that the Greenpeace Foundation is a pro-sealing organization.

We risked our lives to save seals from the clubs of the sealers. I was personally beaten by sealers and jailed for intervening against the seal slaughter. I was dragged through icy waters and across a blood soaked deck through a gauntlet of sealers on a sealing ship in 1977. They kicked and hit me with their clubs, spit on me and pushed my face into the blood and the gore and Greenpeace exploited those images to raise funds at the time and now they dismiss that sacrifice and the hard work and dangerous risks taken by Greenpeacers back then without even the courtesy of an apology to us who carried their banner.

And now Greenpeace refers to seal fur as eco-friendly. Absolute and total bullcrap. What next, an endorsement for Monsanto?

These people calling themselves Greenpeace today never took any risks for the seals, were never arrested, they have never even been to the ice floes to see the brutality with their own eyes.

This makes me both sad and extremely angry, betrayed and frustrated beyond measure.

Shame on you Greenpeace, this is unforgivable and a blatant revelation of just how far Greenpeace has drifted from its roots.

Friday, January 22, 2016

The Big One for Wall Street?

Could This be “The Big One”?

by Mike Whitney  - CounterPunch

January 22, 2016

Everyone take a deep breath. This isn’t 2007 again. The banks aren’t loaded with $10 trillion in “toxic” mortgage-backed securities, the housing market hasn’t fallen off a cliff wiping out $8 trillion in home equity, and the world is not on the brink of another excruciating financial meltdown.

The reason the markets have been gyrating so furiously for the last couple weeks is because stocks are vastly overpriced, corporate earnings are shrinking, and the Fed is threatening to take away the punch bowl. And to top it all off, a sizable number of investors have more skin in the game than they can afford, so they had to dump shares pronto to rebalance their portfolios.

What does that mean?

It means that a lot of investors are in debt up to their eyeballs, so when the market tumbles they have to sell whatever they can to stay in the game. It’s called a “margin call” and on Wednesday we saw a real doozy. Investors dumped everything but the kitchen sink in a frenzied firesale that sent the Dow Jones bunge-jumping 565-points before clawing its way back to a 249-point loss. The reason we know it was a margin call as opposed to a panic selloff is because there was no noticeable rotation into US Treasuries.

Typically, when investors think the world is coming to an end, they ditch their stocks and make the so called “flight to safety” into US debt. That didn’t happen this time. Benchmark 10-year Treasuries barely budged during the trading day, although they did stay under 2 percent which suggests that bondholders think the US economy is going to remain in the toilet for the foreseeable future. But that’s another story altogether.

The fact is, investors aren’t “rotating”, they’re “liquidating” because they’ve hawked everything but the family farm and they need to sell something fast to cover their bets. Now if they thought that stocks were going to rebound sometime soon, then they’d try to hang on a bit longer. But the fact that the Fed has stayed on the sidelines not uttering a peep of encouragement has everyone pretty nervous, which is why they’re getting out now while they still can.


Here’s how CNBC’s Rick Santelli summed it up on Wednesday afternoon:

“We basically have a global rolling margin call that’s been going on since the 3rd Quarter of last year. It’s gotten a bit more intense since the Fed announced it was ‘normalizing’ because, in essence, a quarter point (rate hike) doesn’t mean anything, but the mentality that we are about to turn the corner on the ‘Grand Experiment’ means a lot.” (Closing Bell Exchange, CNBC)

In other words, investors are starting to believe the Fed will continue its rate-hike cycle which will put more downward pressure on stocks, so they’re calling it quits now.

Santelli makes a good point about “normalization” too, which means the Fed is going to attempt to lift rates to their normal range of 4 percent. No one expects that to happen mainly because the wailing and gnashing of teeth on Wall Street would be too much to bear. Besides, the Fed just spent the last seven years inflating stock prices with its zero rates and QE. It’s certainly not going to burst that bubble now by raising rates and sending equities into freefall.

 Even so, many investors think the Fed could continue to jack-up rates incrementally to 1 percent or higher. And while that’s still below the current rate of inflation, the shifting perception of “easy money” to “tightening” makes a huge difference in investors expectations. And as every economist knows, expectations shape investment decisions. No one is going to load up on stocks if they think things are going to get worse. That’s the long-and-short of it.

So is the recent extreme volatility a precursor to “The Big One”?

Probably not, but that doesn’t mean that stocks won’t drift lower. They probably will, after all, conditions have changed dramatically. We had been in an environment where hefty profits, low rates and ample liquidity were more-or-less guaranteed. That’s not the case anymore. Stocks are no longer priced for perfection, in fact, valuations are gradually dipping to a point where they reflect underlying fundamentals. Also, for whatever reason, the Fed seems eager to convince people that the hikes are going to persist. So here’s the question: If you take away the punch bowl at the same time that earnings are start to tank, what happens?

Stocks fall, that’s what. The only question is “how far”? And since the S&P has more than tripled since it hit its lowest level in March 2009, the bottom could be a long way off, which is why investors are taking more chips off the table.

It’s also worth noting that one of the main drivers of stock prices has been AWOL lately. We’re talking about stock buybacks, that is, when corporate bosses repurchase their own company’s shares to reward shareholders while boosting their “windfall” executive compensation. Here’s the scoop from FT Alphaville:

“China is slowing, the oil price is getting hammered, the Fed hiked too soon: all reasons for the ignominious start to the year for the world’s stock markets. Here’s another bit of meat for the pot, courtesy of Goldman Sachs chief US equity strategist David Kostin: share buybacks.

“One reason for the recent poor market performance is that corporate buybacks are precluded during the month before earnings are released. Any destabilizing macro news that occurs during the blackout window amplifies volatility because the largest source of demand for shares is absent.”

Share buybacks in the US are on pace for their biggest year since 2007, he adds, estimating $561bn for full-year 2015 (net of share issuance) and a decline to $400bn in full-year 2016.”

Share buybacks, the markets miss you“, FT Alphaville

By some estimates, buybacks represent 20 percent of all share purchases, so obviously the current drought has contributed to the recent equities-plunge. All the same, G-Sax Kostin expects a robust rebound in 2016 to $400 billion. As long as cash is priced below the rate of inflation, corporations will continue to borrow as much as they can to ramp their own stock prices and rake in more dough. Greed trumps prudent investment decision-making every time.

As for the trouble in China: While it’s true that China’s woes could have been the trigger for the current ructions on Wall Street, it’s certainly not the cause which is the Fed’s failed monetary policy. Besides, the whole China thing is vastly overdone. As Ed Lazear told CNBC on Wednesday:

“A major recession in China that lasted ten years would cost would costs the US 2 % points in GDP. So you’re not going to get a market fall like we’re observing right now based on that.”

Economist Dean Baker basically agrees with Lazear and says:

“Even a sharp downturn in China would not send the U.S. economy plummeting, our total exports to China are only about 0.7 percent of GDP. China’s weakness will have a major impact on other trading partners, especially those heavily dependent on commodity exports. But even in a worst case scenario we are looking at a major drag on the U.S. economy, not the sort of falloff in demand that puts the economy into a recession.”

(“Wall Street Rocks!“, Dean Baker, Smirking Chimp)

As for the plunging oil prices, there’s not much there either. Yes, quite a few high-paying oil sector jobs have been lost, capital investment has completely dried up, and many of the domestic suppliers are probably going to default on their debts sometime in the next six months or so. But are these defaults a significant risk to Wall Street in the same way that trillions of dollars in worthless Mortgage-Backed Securities (MBS) and CDOs were in 2007-2008?

Heck, no. Not even close. There’s going to be a fair amount of blood on the street by the time this all shakes out, but the financial system will muddle through without collapsing, that’s for sure. The real danger is that falling oil prices signal a buildup of deflationary pressures in the economy that isn’t being countered with additional fiscal stimulus.

That’s the real problem because it means slower growth, fewer jobs, flatter wages, falling incomes, more strain on social services and a more generalized stagnant, crappy economy. But as we’ve said before, Obama and the Republican-led Congress have done everything in their power to keep things just the way they are by slashing government spending to make sure the economy stays weak as possible, so inflation is suppressed, the Fed isn’t forced to raise rates, and the cheap money continues to flow to Wall Street.

That’s the whole scam in a nutshell: Starve the worker bees while providing more welfare to the slobs at the big investment banks and brokerage houses. It’s a system that policymakers have nearly perfected as a new Oxfam report shows.

According to Oxfam: “the 62 richest billionaires now own as much wealth as the poorer half of the world’s population.” (Guardian)

Wealth like that, “ain’t no accident”, brother. It’s the policy.

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
More articles by:Mike Whitney

Last Contango in Paris (and everywhere else): When Will Oil Market Bottom Out?

When Oil Will Bottom: The Most Important Column I've Ever Written 

by Inside Investor with Dan Dicker -

Everyone’s now pretty well convinced that the collapse in oil prices is a disaster for stocks, something I’ve been trying to convince people of since late in 2014. So, nothing is more important for investors than figuring when oil might bottom out, but even more, when it might turn constructive again.

I think I can tell you that now – making this possibly the most important column on oil I’ve ever written. But I’m warning you: It’s a wonky column, so proceed at your own risk.

As an oil trader engaged in this market since 1983, what’s struck me about the recent action in oil has been the parallels to other oil ‘silly seasons’ – much of the action downwards today looks almost exactly like the action I saw to the upside during 2007 and into the Spring of 2008. 
There are also several parallels to the downward move the oil market experienced from July of 08 to March of 09. In both cases, there is the same disconnection from fundamentals, the same massive movements of capital both into and then out of oil, the same overwhelming speculative positions driving prices – and the same parabolic price action. What does 2008 and 2009 tell us about when all of that stops?

From a fundamental side, I’ve maintained that constructive oil prices only return when real production cuts are realized – so far, those cuts have been mostly on paper with few measurable drops in supply. But fundamentals have limited impact on the oil market when it goes parabolic like this anyway.

From a financial side, something more telling will signal a real bottom in oil is appearing, because it also emerged following the spike in ‘08 and the crash in ‘09: the changing shape of the crude curve.


Oil is traded in monthly deliveries – with each month having it’s own price that moves. The relationship of those monthly prices is called the ‘curve’. If prices generally move downwards as you move out in time along the curve, that’s known as ‘backwardated’, and is a rare event. If they move upwards, the market is in ‘contango’.

Contango, because of costs for storage and other reasons, is the normal state for most commodity curves, and is the way the oil market is today; Oil for delivery two years from now is more than $12 more expensive than it is trading in the spot month – February 2016 – on Wednesday:

A very weak contango, or even a market that has gone into rare backwardation, is a sure sign of a very bullish market – as happened in 2008. A very deep contango, however, how a market looks that has gone parabolic to the downside. One of the biggest money makers during the crash in oil in 2009 was Koch oil, and they did that by buying front futures contracts and storing them for delivery 12 months in the future: at the depths of oil near $30 then, the 12-month contango was near $15 – and a big, “free money” opportunity for oil producers with storage.

That kind of carry trade opportunity won’t happen again today, for lots of reasons – but here’s what happened back in ’09 that foretold that the move down was over: That contango began to deflate, or using the terms of spread watchers, the oil curve began to flatten.

It makes intuitive sense as well that a flattening curve would be the guidepost for a change in market conditions: For one, the ‘carry trade’ opportunity needs to be destroyed before oil production can be truly squashed – In 2009, Koch was joined by Royal Dutch Shell and others and filled every available storage unit and floating tanker before prices truly turned. We know how tight storage is today, with the gluts we’ve been experiencing. 
Second, the hedging ‘safeguards’ of premium oil prices far into the future need to be equally removed in order to deliver production discipline going forward. One of the fears of recovering oil being sustainable is in the resumed production, and continuing gluts, that will come of it. But a flat curve delivers no hedging ‘freebies’ and the easy capitalization that comes from it. A flat curve tends to prevent very strong production growth.

It’s what happened in 2009 – and it’s what must happen again before oil begins a sustainable march upwards again.

For me, I’ve taken up another third of my screens watching – and charting – the spread market in WTI and Brent crude oil, and looking for the signs of a change in the action and shape of the curve. Have a look again at the daily settlement chart I posted above – it shows a deep dive in prices in the front months on Wednesday, and a relatively small drop in prices in the months further back. This is a perfect example of a market still in parabolic decline, and not yet near ready to turn.

What will a day look like of a market ready to go upwards again steadily? One kind of day I’m looking for will be when the bounce upwards is tested back down again. On this day, instead of the spot month getting crushed compared to the backs, there will be a more equal move in both.

A week or two of action like that, and I’ll be convinced we’ve reached bottom for good.

It’s what I’m solely watching right now to try and find a bottom in oil, and, considering the panic in oil and stocks, making this perhaps the most important column on oil I’ve ever written.

Yemen's Starving Suffer Too a Media Blockade

Media Silent As US-Backed Saudi Forces Starve 500,000 Yemeni Children

by MintPress News

ADEN, Yemen While the media was flooded with images of the starving children of Syria, the thousands of children suffering from Saudi Arabia’s U.S.-backed onslaught on Yemen made far fewer headlines.

The mainstream media was eager to report on the struggle for survival in Madaya. The mountain town near Syria’s southwestern border was once known as a popular resort destination in the Middle East, but its population is now reportedly being starved under a siege by the Syrian army.

However, the actual situation is far more complex. The U.S.-supported, so-called “moderate” rebels including the Nusra Front, the Syrian branch of al-Qaida, had first laid siege to the cities of Kefraya and Fua, leading to a retaliatory siege on Madaya by the Assad government.

Those same rebel groups were also, in turn, responsible for allowing the starvation in Madaya to continue by occupying the city and keeping humanitarian aid out of reach of the populace as a strategic tactic. Additionally, many images used in media reports on Madaya turned out to be fake or misleading.

Meanwhile, far fewer journalists are covering the large-scale starvation and displacement taking place in Yemen, a situation caused by a bombing campaign and blockade led by Saudi Arabia and its allies and backed by U.S. military aid. The Nusra Front, one of the groups responsible for skyrocketing food prices in Madaya, also has the backing of the Saudi government, like many of the rebel forces in the region.

Saudi Arabia is currently engaged in a proxy war with Iran, who Riyadh blames, inaccurately, for the rise to power of the Houthis in Yemen and setbacks to the kingdom’s agenda in Syria, leading to a bombing campaign and embargo on crucial resources that began in April.

UNICEF reported in October that 537,000 Yemeni children were at risk of severe malnutrition nationwide, while Alexi O’Brien, reporting for Al-Jazeera in September, noted that the United Nations warned that 96,000 children were “starving and close to death” in the port city of al-Hodeidah, and an additional 8,000 children faced starvation in Aden in 2016.

The situation was so dire nationwide that, in June, the U.N. reported “that at least six million people in Yemen are in urgent need of emergency food and life-saving assistance, a new United Nations (UN) investigation has found … 10 out of Yemen’s 22 governorates are facing an ‘emergency level’ food security situation amid the ongoing conflict, including major areas like Aden, Taiz, Saa’da and Al Baida.”

In July, Oxfam reported that the number of starving people in Yemen had topped 6 million — nearly half the country’s population of 13 million. Aid workers are struggling to reach the needy, with the World Food Programme reporting that it had served 3.5 million Yemenis by August.

While the suffering of the residents of Madaya is heart-wrenching, some critics have questioned the motives behind the media’s focus on this single town rather than suffering in Yemen or even elsewhere in Syria. Vladimir Safronkov, Russia’s deputy ambassador to the U.N. Security Council, lamented recently that the timing of the reports seemed calculated to undermine the budding peace process in Syria, according to a report from RT.

“It looks like that, under the pretext of the deterioration of the situation in besieged cities, attempts are being made to undermine the launch of the inter-Syrian dialogue scheduled for January 25,” he told an emergency meeting of the Security Council on Saturday.

Safronkov said the West practices a “double standard” by raising the alarm about Madaya while ignoring cities besieged by anti-Assad forces:

“Much is being said about Madaya, but not a word about the villages of Nubul and Az-Zahra in the province of Aleppo. And we are talking about the fate of tens of thousands of people.”

On Monday, Ben Norton, politics staff writer for Salon, cited the siege of Yemen, as well as Israel’s decade-long blockade of Gaza, when he questioned why some atrocities are condemned and others are “barely even acknowledged.” He wrote:

“All sieges are of course tragic, because they harm civilians. There should be outrage at the siege on Madaya, but there should be proportionate outrage. All of the other ongoing sieges — and the much larger blockades — that happened to be supported by the West should not conveniently be ignored.

Americans, in particular, should be concerned about the millions upon millions of people being starved in policies backed by their ostensibly democratic government, right at this very moment.”

Watch “It’s not #Madaya. It’s #Yemen … Thank you Saudi regime” from Stop The War On Yemen

WE Creating Terrorism

How the West Creates Terrorism

by Andre Vltchek - CounterPunch

January 22, 2016

Terrorism has many forms and many faces, but the most terrible of them is cold cruelty.

We are asked to believe that terrorists consist of dirty lunatics, running around with bombs, machine guns and explosive belts. That’s how we are told to imagine them.

Many of them are bearded; almost all are “foreign looking”, non-white, non-Western. In summary they are wife beaters, child rapists and Greek and Roman statue destroyers.

Actually, during the Cold War, there were some white looking “terrorists” – the left-wingers belonging to several revolutionary cells, in Italy and elsewhere in Europe. But only now we are learning that the terrorist acts attributed to them were actually committed by the Empire, by several European right-wing governments and intelligence services. You remember, the NATO countries were blowing up those trains inside the tunnels, or bombing entire train stations…

It “had to be done”, in order to discredit the Left, just to make sure that people would not become so irresponsible as to vote for the Communists or true Socialists.

There were also several Latin American ‘terror’ groups – the revolutionary movements fighting for freedom and against oppression, mainly against Western colonialism. They had to be contained, liquidated, and if they held power, overthrown.

But terrorists became really popular in the West only after the Soviet Union and the Communist Block were destroyed through thousands of economic, military and propaganda means, and the West suddenly felt too exposed, so alone without anyone to fight. Somehow it felt that it needed to justify its monstrous oppressive acts in Africa, the Middle East, Latin America and Asia.

It needed a new “mighty”, really mighty, enemy to rationalize its astronomical military and intelligence budgets. It was not good enough to face a few hundred ‘freaks’ somewhere inside the Colombian jungle or in Northern Ireland or Corsica. There had to be something really huge, something matching that ‘evil’ Soviet “threat”.

Oh how missed that threat was, suddenly! Just a threat of course; not the danger of egalitarian and internationalist ideals…

And so the West linked terrorism with Islam, which is one of the greatest cultures on earth, with 1.6 billion followers. Islam is big and mighty enough, to scare the shit out of the middle class housewives in some Western suburb! And on top of that, it had to be contained anyway, as it was essentially too socialist and too peaceful.

At that time in history, all great secular and socialist leaders of Muslim countries, (like in Iran, Indonesia and Egypt), were overthrown by the West, their legacy spat on, or they were simply banned.

But that was not enough for the West!

In order to make Islam a worthy enemy, the Empire had to first radicalize and pervert countless Muslim movements and organizations, then create the new ones, consequently training, arming and financing them, so they could really look frightening enough.

There is of course one more important reason why “terrorism”, particularly Muslim “terrorism”, is so essential for the survival of Western doctrines, exceptionalism and global dictatorship: it justifies the West’s notion of absolute cultural and moral superiority.

This is how it works:

For centuries, the West has been behaving like a mad bloodthirsty monster. Despite the self-glorifying propaganda being spread by Western media outlets all over the world, it was becoming common knowledge that the Empire was raping, murdering and plundering in virtually all corners of the Globe. A few more decades and the world would see the West exclusively as a sinister and toxic disease. Such a scenario had to be prevented by all means!

And so the ideologues and propagandists of the Empire came up with a new and brilliant formula: Let’s create something that looks and behaves even worse than we do, and then we could trumpet that we are still actually the most reasonable and tolerant culture on earth!

And let’s make a real pirouette: let’s fight our own creation – let’s fight it in the name of freedom and democracy!”

This is how the new generation; the new breed of “terrorist” was born. And it lives! It is alive and well! It is multiplying like Capek’s Salamanders.


Western terrorism is not really discussed, although its most extreme and violent forms are battering the world relentlessly and have for a long time, with hundreds of millions of victims piling up everywhere.

Even the legionnaires and gladiators of the Empire, like the Mujaheddin, Al-Qaida, or ISIS, can never come close to the savagery that has been demonstrated time and again by their British, French, Belgian, German or US masters. Of course they are trying very hard to match their gurus and bread-givers, but they are just not capable of their violence and brutality.

It takes “Western culture” to butcher some 10 million people in just one single geographic area, in almost one go!


So what is real terrorism, and how could ISIS and others follow its lead? They say that ISIS is decapitating their victims. Bad enough. But who is their teacher?

For centuries, the empires of Europe were murdering, torturing, raping and mutilating people on all continents of the world. Those who were not doing so directly, were “investing” into colonialist expeditions, or sending its people to join genocidal battalions.

King Leopold II and his cohorts managed to exterminate around 10 million people of Western and Central Africa, in what is now known as the Congo. He was hunting people down like animals, forcing them to work on his rubber plantations. If he thought that they were not filling up his coffers fast enough, he did not hesitate to chop off their hands, or burn entire village populations inside their huts, alive.

10 million victims vanished. 10 million! And it did not take place in some distant past, in the “dark ages”, but in the 20th century, under the rule of so-called constitutional monarchy, and self-proclaimed democracy. How does it compare with the terrorism that is ruling over the territories occupied by ISIS? Let’s compare numbers and brutality level!

And the Democratic Republic of Congo has, since 1995, lost again close to 10 million people in a horrid orgy of terror, unleashed by the West’s proxies, Rwanda and Uganda (see the trailer to my film “Rwanda Gambit”).

Germans performed holocausts in South-Western Africa, in what is now Namibia. The Herero tribe was exterminated, or at least close to 90% of it was. People were first kicked out from their land and from their homes, and driven into the desert. If they survived, the German pre-Nazi expeditions followed, using bullets and other forms of mass killing. Medical experiments on humans were performed, to prove the superiority of the Germanic nation and the white race.

These were just innocent civilians; people whose only crime was that they were not white, and were sitting on land occupied and violated by the Europeans.

The Taliban never came close to this, or even ISIS!

To this day, the Namibian government is demanding the return of countless heads severed from its people: heads that were cut off and then sent to the University of Freiburg and several hospitals in Berlin, for medical experiments.

Just imagine, ISIS chopping thousands of European heads, in order to perform medical experiments aiming to demonstrate the superiority of the Arab race. It would be absolutely unthinkable!

Local people were terrorized in virtually all colonies grabbed by Europe, something that I have described in detail in my latest 840-page book “Exposing Lies of the Empire”.

What about the Brits and their famines, which they were using as population control and intimidation tactics in India! In Bengal at least 5 million died in 1943 alone, 5.5 million in 1876-78, 5 million in 1896-97, to name just a few terrorist acts committed by the British Empire against a defenseless population forced to live under its horrid and oppressive terrorist regime!

What I have mentioned above are just 3 short chapters from the long history of Western terrorism. An entire encyclopedia could be compiled on the topic.

But all this sits far from Western consciousness. European and North American masses prefer not to know anything about the past and the present. As far as they are concerned, they rule the world because they are free, bright and hard working. Not because for centuries their countries have plundered and murdered, and above all terrorized the world forcing it into submission.

The elites know everything, of course. And the more they know, the more they put that knowledge to work.

Terrorist trade and experience are passed on from Western masters to their new Muslim recruits.

The Mujahideen, Al-Qaida, ISIS – on closer examination, their tactics of intimidation and terrorization are not original at all. They are built on imperialist and colonialist practices of the West.

News about this, or even about the terror that has been inflicted on the Planet by the West, is meticulously censored. You would never see them on the programs broadcast by the BBC, or read about them in mainstream newspapers and magazines.

On the other hand, the violence and ruthlessness of the client terrorist organizations are constantly highlighted. They are covered in their tiniest detail, repeated, and “analyzed”.

Everybody is furious, horrified! The UN is “deeply concerned”, Western governments are “outraged”, and the Western public “has had enough – it does not want immigrants from those terrible countries that are breeding terrorism and violence”.

The West “simply has to get involved”. And here comes the War on Terror.

It is a war against the West’s own Frankenstein. It is a war that is never meant to be won. Because if it is won, god forbid, there would have to be peace, and peace means cutting defense budgets and also dealing with the real problems of our Planet.

Peace would mean the West looking at its own past. It would mean thinking about justice and rearranging the entire power structures of the Planet. And that can never be allowed.

And so the West is “playing” war games; it is “fighting” its own recruits (or pretending to fight them), while innocent people are dying.

No part of the world, except the West, would be able to invent and unleash something so vile and barbaric as ISIS or Al-Nusra!

Look closer at the strategy of these group-implants: it has no roots in Muslim culture whatsoever. But it is fully inspired by the Western philosophy of colonialist terrorism: “If you don’t fully embrace our dogmas and religion, then we will cut off your head, slash your throat, rape your entire family or burn your village or city to the ground. We will destroy your grand cultural heritage as we did in South America 500 years ago, and in so many other places.”

And so on and so on! It would really require great discipline not to see the connections!


In 2006 I was visiting my friend, a former President of Indonesia, and a great progressive Muslim leader, Abdurrahman Wahid, (known in Indonesia as “Gus Dur”). Our meeting was held at the headquarters of his massive Muslim body Nahdlatul Ulama (NU). At that time the NU was the biggest Muslim organization in the world.

We were discussing capitalism and how it was destroying and corrupting Indonesia. Gus Dur was a “closet socialist”, and that was one of the main reasons why the servile pro-Western Indonesian “elites” and the military deposed him out of the Presidency in 2001.

When we touched on the topic of “terrorism”, he suddenly declared in his typically soft, hardly audible voice: “I know who blew up the Marriott Hotel in Jakarta. It was done by our own intelligence services, in order to justify the increase in their budget, as well as aid that they have been receiving from abroad.”

Of course, the Indonesian army, intelligence services and police consist of a special breed of humans. For several decades, since 1965, they have been brutally terrorizing their own population, when the pro-Western coup toppled the progressive President Sukarno and brought to power a fascist military clique, backed by the predominantly Christian business gang. This terror took between 2-3 million lives in Indonesia itself, as well as in East Timor and (until now) in occupied and thoroughly plundered Papua.

3 genocides in only 5 decades!

The Indonesian coup was one of the greatest terrorist acts in the history of mankind. The rivers were clogged with corpses and changed their color to red.

Why? So that capitalism would survive and Western mining companies could have their booty, at the expense of a completely ruined Indonesian nation. So the Communist Party of Indonesia (PKI) would not be able to win elections, democratically.

But in the West, those 1965 intensive massacres planned by the Empire were never described as “terrorism”. Blowing up a hotel or a pub always is however, especially if they are frequented by Western clientele.

Now Indonesia has its own groups of “terrorists”. They returned from Afghanistan where they fought on behalf of the West against the Soviet Union. They are returning from the Middle East now. The recent attacks in Jakarta could be just a foreplay, a well-planned beginning of something much bigger, maybe an opening of the new “front” of toy soldiers of the Empire in Southeast Asia.

For the West and its planners – the more chaos the better.

Had Abdurrahman Wahid been allowed to stay as the President of Indonesia, there would, most likely, have been no terrorism. His country would have undergone socialist reforms, instituted social justice, rehabilitated Communists and embraced secularism.

In socially balanced societies, terrorism does not thrive.

That would be unacceptable to the Empire. That would mean – back to Sukarno’s day! The most populous Muslim nation on earth cannot be allowed to go its own way, to aim for socialism, and to annihilate terrorist cells.

It has to be at the edge. It has to be ready to be used as a pawn. It has to be scared and scary! And so it is.


The games the West is playing are complex and elaborate. They are murky and nihilist. They are so destructive and brutal that even the sharpest analysts are often questioning their own eyes and judgments: “Could all this be really happening?”

The brief answer is: “Yes it can. Yes it is, for many long decades and centuries.”

Historically, terrorism is a native Western weapon. It was utilized freely by people like Lloyd George, a British PM, who refused to sign the agreement banning aerial bombardment of civilians, using unshakeable British logic: “We reserve the right to bomb those niggers.” Or Winston Churchill who was in favor of gassing the ‘lower grade’ of races, like Kurds and Arabs.

That is why, when some outsider, a country like Russia, gets involved, launching its genuine war against terrorist groups, the entire West is consumed by panic. Russia is spoiling their entire game! It is ruining a beautifully crafted neo-colonialist equilibrium.

Just look how lovely everything is: after killing hundreds of millions all over the Globe, the West is now standing as the self-proclaimed champion of human rights and freedom. It is still terrorizing the world, plundering it, fully controlling it – but it is being accepted as the supreme leader, a benevolent advisor, and the only trustworthy part of the world.

And almost nobody is laughing.

Because everyone is scared!

Its brutal legions in the Middle East and Africa are destabilizing entire countries, their origins are easily traceable, but almost no one is daring to do such tracing. Some of those who have tried – died.

The more frightening these invented, manufactured and implanted terrorist monsters, the more beautiful the West looks. It is all gimmicks. It has roots in advertisement, and in hundreds of years of propaganda apparatus.

The West then pretends to fight those deep forces of darkness. It uses powerful, “righteous” language, which has clear bases in Christian fundamentalist dogma.

An entire mythology is unleashed; it feels like Wagner’s “Ring”.

The terrorists represent evil, not the enormous expenditure from the coffers of the US State Department, the European Union and NATO. They are more evil than the Devil himself!

And the West, riding on the white horse, slightly pissed on wine but always in good humor, is portrayed as both a victim and the main adversary of those satanic terrorist groups.

It is one incredible show. It is one terrible farce. Look underneath the horseman’s mask: look at those exposed teeth; that deadly grin! Look at his red eyes, full of greed, lust and cruelty.

And let us never forget: colonialism and imperialism are two most deadly forms of terrorism. And these are still the two main weapons of that horseman who is choking the world!

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. His latest books are: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire” and “Fighting Against Western Imperialism”.Discussion with Noam Chomsky: On Western Terrorism. Point of No Return is his critically acclaimed political novel. Oceania – a book on Western imperialism in the South Pacific. His provocative book about Indonesia: “Indonesia – The Archipelago of Fear”. Andre is making films for teleSUR and Press TV. After living for many years in Latin America and Oceania, Vltchek presently resides and works in East Asia and the Middle East. He can be reached through his website or his Twitter.
More articles by:Andre Vltchek

Roger Waters and the "Campaign to Close Guantánamo"

Pink Floyd's Roger Waters Launches "Campaign to Close Guantánamo" for Obama's Last Year in Office

by Democracy Now!

January 22, 2016 

Today marks seven years since President Obama signed an executive order calling for the closure of Guantánamo Bay within one year. But Guantánamo remains open, and now Obama only has one year left to fulfill his pledge. We are joined by the world famous musician Roger Waters, who has helped launch the "Countdown to Close Guantánamo" campaign, which asks people to take photos of themselves with signs calling for Guantánamo’s closure before Obama leaves office in 2017. Waters is a founding member, bassist, singer, songwriter for the iconic rock band Pink Floyd, perhaps best known for their record The Wall.

For three years between 2010 and 2013, Waters toured the world with a dazzling concert of the same name. We are also joined by Andy Worthington, a British activist and investigative journalist who co-founded the "Countdown to Close Guantánamo" campaign. 

Replacements to Cost Millions: Smart Meter Woes a Hydra's Head for BC and Ontario Hydro

Ontario Pulls Plug on 36,000 Rural 'Smart Meters': Is Big Energy Imploding?

by Josh del Sol - Collective Evolution

Last night I watched The Big Short — maybe the most important Hollywood film in years. This true story is a powerful and eloquent invitation to wake up to the sheer depravity at the core of the system of commerce.

The fact that the film got nominated for 5 Oscars including Best Picture is a huge sign that there are way more people waking up than we ever thought. The wrongs may not be getting righted as quickly as we’d like, but it is happening.

The reality of this shift is clearly evidenced by this news last week from Ontario. After years of obvious problems, Hydro One finally admitted that rural ‘smart’ meters do not work, and has decided to pull the plug on 36,000 of them — to start. We will see more utilities begin to do likewise.  

[UPDATE: BC Hydro just announced plans to remove 88,000 meters suspected of failure.]

Costing ratepayers billions, smart meters are actually designed to unlawfully harvest detailed data of the in-home activities of occupants without their knowledge or consent.

As reported by the National Post:

“Astonishing,” was the reaction from Lanark-area MPP Randy Hillier, who has been deluged with complaints about Hydro One billing and smart-meter suspicions.

“I’ve been banging my head against the wall for the last five years, saying we’ve got problems with smart meters in rural Ontario.” Since first being elected in 2007, no single issue has attracted as much attention in his riding, he said.

For the purpose of clarification: at this time Hydro One is not planning to uninstall smart meters and replace with analogs — but rather to manually read rural customers’ meters quarterly, and estimate the months in between, because the wireless reporting is simply not working.

More than 10,000 billing complaints have been filed with the Ontario Ombudsman, and the Auditor General of Ontario released a scathing report, calling out the smart metering program as a total flop.

Hydro One was the first major utility in Canada to deploy so-called ‘smart’ meters upon an unsuspecting customer base. The price tag for rollout, paid for by the people of Ontario, was $2 billion — which was $900M over budget.

Go Green, or Go Greed?

For those new to this topic, here’s the skinny. Smart utility meters are being deployed worldwide under the banner of climate action. But they typically increase energy usage, and a high-level industry executive has admitted that the data collected by the surreptitious devices will be worth “a lot more” than the electricity itself.

Portland State University recently published a brilliant report on the morally-bankrupt surveillance agenda behind smart meters. The industry-gutting report is titled “The Neoliberal Politics of ‘Smart’: Electricity Consumption, Household Monitoring, and the Enterprise Form,” and excerpts can be read at Smart Grid Awareness here.

Customers are not being informed how their constitutional rights are being violated for the purposes of a for-profit home surveillance network. Nor how this technology has caused thousands of fires which have resulted in several deaths. Nor how our bodies are being affected by pulsed microwave radiation exponentially stronger than cell phones, as shown in Take Back Your Power.

If there wasn’t an avalanche of facts to back all of this up, it might sound too unbelievable to be true. But we live in strange times.

We Can Handle The Truth

Just like the banking system, the energy system has likewise become rotten to the core. To change both will require a complete overhaul and the embrace of a challenge to our comfort zone.

It is both harrowing and exciting for one to discover that there are major societal programs which are simply manufactured lies fueled by the idea of lack. That there’s not enough energy, food, resources, money. In reality, there is enough for all life to survive — and to thrive. It is provable fact that these truths have been suppressed.

Case in point: a 1971 de-classified US Army briefing actually calls for the secretization of solar technology which has greater than 20% efficiency (see page 14). This was back in 1971! And, of course, it’s in the name of national security and property interests.

Meanwhile, the energy mafia in Nevada just decreed a 40% fee hike for solar-producing customers, while reducing the amount paid for excess power sold to the grid, effectively killing the solar industry there.

There is a war on energy. When we understand the level of corruption involved, the implications are enormous. And we must act to solve this problem.

I believe that the suppression of solutions is a dam ready to burst. And I’m optimistic of our passing through this dark night successfully, as we are learning to connect and serve the higher good. There is really no other choice.

National Post – Hydro One pulling plug on 36,000 rural smart meters after years of complaints
The Province – B.C. Hydro must remove more than 88,000 smart meters
Smart Grid Awareness – ‘Smart’ Meters Represent Industrial Profiteering and Government Sanctioned Surveillance, New Study Says

Josh del Sol is the Director and Producer of Take Back Your Power, winner of the AwareGuide Transformational Film of the Year, the Indie Fest Annual Humanitarian Award, and the 2014 Leo Award for Best Feature Documentary in British Columbia. Watch the film and subscribe to updates at, and follow the movement via facebook and twitter @TBYPfilm.     

If you resonate, help support our work.

Salish Sea: Weighing the Costs of Coastal Energy/Shipping

Value of the Salish Sea revealed in new report: Holistic examination needed of coastal energy and shipping projects

by Raincoast Conservation

January 20, 2016

Sidney, BC/Coast Salish territories - Raincoast Conservation Foundation released a new report today encouraging federal, provincial/state, local, and indigenous governments and residents of the Salish Sea to fully consider costs of a host of proposed coastal energy and shipping projects.

The report demonstrates how the value of the region’s biological diversity –its plants and animals- reflect our values, have shaped our cultural identity, and are linked to economic benefits in the billions of dollars.

Yet many of the habitats that provide these benefits are under significant stress. This situation will only be  exacerbated by the combined effect that proposed energy and shipping projects have, including oil spills. No one is examining these proposals from the perspective of their cumulative impacts, and how they affect our economies, cultures, and values of the Salish Sea.

“As governments and citizens across the Salish Sea line-up to recommend the National Energy Board reject Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain proposal, we urgently need to start a broader conversation about the true value of this unique ecosystem – and that’s much bigger than 50 jobs from Kinder Morgan,” said Raincoast’s Misty MacDuffee, lead author on the report.

Unlike federal risk and environmental assessments, this report considers the cumulative effects of proposed coastal energy and shipping projects, and identifies numerous failings of existing assessments concerning increased vessel traffic and oil spill risk. The report concludes that purported economic benefits of fossil fuel export projects, such as Trans Mountain, are insignificant when weighed against a more holistic examination of the Salish Sea’s value.

The report details the importance of Salish Sea tourism to the BC and Washington State economies as a provider of thousands of jobs and a billion dollars in visitor spending. Nature based tourism is highlighted as just one growing sector that already employs thousands through the region and is directly reliant on the region’s ecological health.

The report profiles different recreational pursuits and their distribution throughout the Salish Sea as one proxy for values attached to the natural environment. Widely distributed recreational pursuits with high levels of participation include half a million licensed saltwater anglers, 1.8 million birders, 200,000 kayakers, and thousands of surfers.

“This study demonstrates an ecosystem of global significance with a range of natural benefits, or ecosystem services, that fundamentally support our environment,  economy and society. At a time in which the Salish Sea’s non-human residents face a myriad of pressures, we are encouraging everyone to consider how they, personally, value the Salish Sea, and to share this with the decision makers empowered to protect it, “ said Raincoast executive director Chris Genovali.



Misty MacDuffee,
Ross Dixon, 
Chris Genovali,

For further information:

 The full report and executive summary are available at:

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Taking Back the Bank of Canada: Low or Zero Interest Loans for Infrastructure Urged

Bank of Canada Lawsuit

by Joyce Nelson - Watershed Sentinel

One of the most important legal cases in Canadian history is slowly inching its way towards trial. Launched in 2011 by the Toronto-based Committee on Monetary and Economic Reform (COMER), the lawsuit would require the publicly-owned Bank of Canada to return to its pre-1974 mandate and practice of lending interest-free money to federal, provincial, and municipal governments for infrastructure and healthcare spending.

Renowned constitutional lawyer Rocco Galati has taken on the case for COMER, and he considers it his most important case to date.

On October 14, a Federal Court judge cleared away yet another legal roadblock thrown in the lawsuit’s path. The federal government has tried to quash the case as frivolous and “hypothetical,” but the courts keep allowing it to proceed. As Galati maintains, “The case is on solid legal and constitutional grounds.”

When asked after the October procedural hearing why Canadians should care about the case, Galati quickly responded: “Because they’re paying $30 or $40 billion a year in useless interest. Since ’74, more than a trillion to fraudsters, that’s why they should care.” (COMER says the figures are closer to $60 billion per year, and $2 trillion since 1974.)

The Fraudsters

Created during the Great Depression, the Bank of Canada funded a wide range of public infrastructure projects from 1938 to 1974, without our governments incurring private debt. Projects like the Trans-Canada highway system, the St. Lawrence Seaway, universities, and hospitals were all funded by interest-free loans from the Bank of Canada.

But in 1974, the Liberal government of Pierre Trudeau was quietly seduced into joining the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) – the powerful private Swiss bank which oversees (private) central banks across the planet. The BIS insisted on a crucial change in Canada.

According to The Tyee (April 17, 2015), in 1974 the BIS’s new Basel Committee – supposedly in order to establish global financial “stability” – encouraged governments “to borrow from private lenders and end the practice of borrowing interest-free from their own central banks. The rationale was thin from the start. Central bank borrowing was and is no more inflationary than borrowing through the private banks. The only difference was that private banks were given the legal right to fleece Canadians.”

And that’s exactly what “the fraudsters” did. After 1974, the Bank of Canada stopped lending to federal and provincial governments and forced them to borrow from private and foreign lenders at compound interest rates – resulting in huge deficits and debts ever since. Just paying off the accumulated compound interest – called “servicing the debt” – is a significant part of every provincial and federal budget. In Ontario, for example, debt-servicing charges amounted to some $11.4 billion for 2015.

What is key to the COMER lawsuit is that the Bank of Canada is still a public central bank (the only one left among G7 countries). Their lawsuit seeks to “restore the use of the Bank of Canada to its original purpose, by exercising its public statutory duty and responsibility. That purpose includes making interest free loans to the municipal, provincial, and federal governments for ‘human capital’ expenditures (education, health, other social services) and/or infrastructure expenditures.”

Deliberate Obfuscation

In February 2015, Rocco Galati stated publicly: “I have a firm basis to believe that the [federal] government has requested or ordered the mainstream media not to cover this [COMER] case.” Subsequently, the Toronto Star and the CBC both gave the lawsuit some coverage last spring and there was good coverage in alternative media. But given the importance of infrastructure-spending in the recent federal election campaign, it’s amazing (and sad) that the COMER lawsuit was so ignored, even by the political parties – especially the NDP.

With the Harper government touting its ten-year, $14 billion Building Canada Fund, and the Liberal Party of Justin Trudeau promising to double that amount of funding by running three years of deficits, the NDP led by Tom Mulcair pledged to balance the budget. The NDP could have explained and championed the COMER lawsuit and even possibly utilized it to somehow justify the balanced-budget promise – a platform plank that likely cost it the election.

In August, Justin Trudeau spoke vaguely about financing infrastructure spending with a new bank. As a COMER litigant wrote in their newsletter, “During the recent federal election, Trudeau floated an interesting plank about creating an infrastructure bank. My first response was ‘You already have one. The Bank of Canada.’ My second question was, ‘Public or private?’ Again we see both the colossal ignorance and deliberate obfuscation of money issues in this country by our leadership.”

A Liberal Party Backgrounder explained, “We will establish the Canada Infrastructure Bank (CIB) to provide low-cost financing to build new infrastructure projects. This new CIB will work in partnership with other orders of governments and Canada’s financial community, so that the federal government can use its strong credit rating and lending authority to make it easier – and more affordable – for municipalities to finance the broad range of infrastructure projects their communities need … Canada has become a global leader in infrastructure financing and we will work with the private sector and pools of capital that choose for themselves to invest in Canadian infrastructure projects.”

It’s those “pools of capital” – including Wall Street titans like Goldman Sachs – that are set to profit handsomely from Canada’s new infrastructure lending and spending spree.

In a cynical move, the Liberal Backgrounder doesn’t mention the interest-free loans of the past, but it does cite their results in order to tout the Liberal Party’s “transformative investment plan” for Canada: “A large part of Canada’s 20th century prosperity was made possible by nation-building projects – projects that without leadership from the government of Canada would not have been possible … the St. Lawrence Seaway served as a foundation for prosperity in Quebec and Ontario; the TransCanada Highway links Canadians from coast to coast; and our electricity projects, pipelines, airports and canals have made it possible to develop our natural resources, power our cities, and connect with each other and the world.”

Pools of Capital

Enthused about Justin Trudeau’s victory and his infrastructure campaign platform, Paul Krugman wrote in the New York Times (October 23, 2015), “We’re living in a world awash with savings that the private sector doesn’t want to invest and is eager to lend to governments at very low interest rates. It’s obviously a good idea to borrow at those low, low rates … . Let’s hope then, that Mr. Trudeau stays with the program. He has an opportunity to show the world what truly responsible fiscal policy looks like.”

Of course, borrowing from the Bank of Canada at NO interest rates would be even more fiscally responsible, and would keep policy decisions out of the hands of foreign lenders.

Joyce Nelson is an award-winning freelance writer/researcher and the author of five books.

Resisting the Great Nuclear Dump for the Great Lakes

Great Lakes Nuclear Waste Dump: The Battle Continues

by Joyce Nelson - CounterPunch

January 15, 2016

[Read Joyce Nelson’s first piece on the Great Lakes nuke 
dump in the latest print edition of CounterPunch Magazine.]

Opposition to the proposed nuclear waste facility by Lake Huron continues to grow. By the end of 2015, at least 182 communities (representing more than 22 million people) on both sides of the U.S.-Canada border have adopted resolutions opposing the plan by Ontario Power Generation to build a deep geological repository (DGR) for storage of low- and intermediate-level radioactive nuclear waste.

A Canadian federal panel approved the nuclear waste dump in May 2015, accepting testimony that Lake Huron would be large enough to dilute any radioactive pollution that might leak from the DGR.

The immediate outcry on both sides of the border prompted the Conservative government of Stephen Harper to postpone any decision until Dec. 1, 2015, after the Oct. 19 federal election – in which they were booted out of office. The new government of Liberal Justin Trudeau then pushed that decision to March 1, 2016, after a dozen members of Michigan’s congressional delegation urged the new prime minister to deny the construction permits necessary for the storage facility to be built.

Meanwhile, American efforts to engage the International Joint Commision (IJC), which oversees boundary waters’ issues, have come to naught. As the IJC’s Public Information Officer Frank Bevacqua told me by email, both the Canadian and U.S. federal governments would have to ask the IJC to intervene on the issue.

“The IJC does not review proposals for site-specific projects [like the DGR] unless asked to do so by both governments,” he said.

That means a final decision on the DGR may reside with a small First Nations community.

First Nation Decision

The proposed DGR would be located on the territory of the Saugeen First Nation, which is in the process of evaluating the proposal. The Saugeen First Nation has a promise from Ontario Power Generation to not proceed without their support. As Saugeen Chief Vernon Roote told Indian Country Today Media Network (ICTMN) in December, “Ontario Power Generation had given us their commitment that they will not proceed unless they have community support. That’s a letter that we have on file.” [1]

Saugeen First Nation negotiator (and former Chief) Randall Kahgee told ICTMN that “we are starting to build some momentum on the community engagement process.” The Saugeen leaders are determining how to gauge the community voice, whether by polling or by vote at public gatherings, and have already held some engagement sessions on the issue. [2]

Randall Kahgee told ICTMN,

“For the communities, this is not just about the deep geological repository but also about the nuclear waste problem within our territory. We have always insisted that while this problem is not of our own design, we must be part of shaping the solution. Gone are the days when our people, communities and Nation are left on the outside looking in within our own territory. These are complex issues that will force us to really ask ourselves what does it mean to be stewards of the land. The opportunity to be able to shape the discourse on these matters is both exciting and frightening at the same time.” [3]

The Saugeen First Nation is especially concerned about simply moving the proposed facility into somebody else’s backyard. “We might not be the best of friends when we push nuclear waste on our brothers’ and sisters’ territory,” he told ICTMN.

Nuclear Expansion

The proposal by provincial Crown corporation Ontario Power Generation (OPG) is for at least 7 million cubic feet of nuclear wastes from Ontario nuclear power plants to be buried in chambers drilled into limestone 2,231 feet below the surface and under the Bruce nuclear site at Kincardine, Ontario. The waste to be entombed in the DGR would come from the Bruce, Pickering and Darlington nuclear sites in Ontario – currently home to 18 Candu reactors.

The eight nuclear reactors at the Bruce site (the world’s largest nuclear station) are leased from OPG by a private company called Bruce Power, whose major shareholders/partners include TransCanada Corp. – better known for its tarsands pipeline projects. (TransCanada earns more than one-third of its profits from power-generation.) Bruce Power pays OPG for storage of nuclear wastes, which are currently stored and monitored above-ground on site. [4]

In December, Bruce Power announced that it will invest $13 billion to refurbish the Bruce site, overhauling six of the eight reactors on Lake Huron beginning in 2020. [5] Just weeks later, OPG announced a $12.8 billion refurbishment of four nuclear reactors at Darlington, while extending the life of its ageing Pickering nuclear power plant on Lake Ontario. [6] The Pickering move requires public hearings and approval from the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission, but Ontario’s Energy Minister Bob Chiarelli has voiced his approval and touted the nuclear industry as “emissions-free,” while ignoring the issue of nuclear wastes.

OPG, Bruce Power, and the Ontario government are obviously onside with the Canadian Nuclear Association lobby, whose president and CEO John Barrett is using the COP21 Paris Climate Agreement to push for nuclear expansion. In an op-ed for The Globe and Mail, Barrett declared that “it is time to recognize the contribution – current and potential – of nuclear power in curbing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions worldwide,” and he stated that Canada, with its uranium mining and nuclear reactor technology, is “ready to play an international leadership role on climate change.” [7]

Barrett, in turn, is onside with the billionaires now pushing nuclear energy expansion worldwide: Richard Branson (Virgin Group), Peter Thiel (PayPal co-founder), Bill Gates and Paul Allen (Microsoft co-founders), and Jeff Bezos (Amazon) have all endorsed nuclear energy as the solution to climate change. [8] As well, scientists James Hansen, Kerry Emmanuel, Ken Caldeira and Tom Wigley have recently called for building 115 new reactors per year as “the only viable path forward”. [8] They dismiss nuclear waste as “trivial” and claim that there “are technical means to dispose of this small amount of waste safely.”

In that case, the resulting nuclear waste should be stored in their basements and under the billionaires’ mansions, rather than near bodies of water like the Great Lakes, which provide 40 million people with their drinking water.


[1] Konnie Lemay, “Saugeen Nation May Be Final Word in Nuclear Waste Storage Next to Lake Huron,” Indian Country Today Media Network, December 11, 2015.

[2] Ibid.

[3] Ibid.

[4] Joyce Nelson, “Nuclear Dump Controversy,” Watershed Sentinel, Sept.-Oct., 2015.

[5] Robert Benzie, “Bruce Power to invest $13 billion to refurbish nuclear station on Lake Huron,” Toronto Star, December 3, 2015.

[6] Rob Ferguson, “Ontario Power Generation to spend $12.8 billion refurbishing four Darlington nuclear reactors,” Toronto Star, January 11, 2016.

[7] John Barrett, “Nuclear power is key to decarbonization, and Canada can lead the way,” The Globe and Mail, December 16, 2015.

[8] Emily Schwartz Greco, “A Big Fat Radioactive Lie,” Other, December 4, 2015.

Joyce Nelson is an award-winning Canadian freelance writer/researcher working on her sixth book.
More articles by: Joyce Nelson