Friday, May 13, 2016

Inside America's Slave Labor System

Alabama Prison Strike Organizer Speaks from Behind Bars: We Are Engaged in a Struggle for Our Lives

by Democracy Now!

May 13, 2016  

We go behind bars to get an update on the end of a 10-day strike by Alabama prisoners to protest severe overcrowding, poor living conditions and the 13th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which bans slavery and servitude “except as a punishment for crime,” thus sanctioning the legality of forced, unpaid prison labor.

"These strikes are our methods of challenging mass incarceration, as we understand the prison system is a continuation of the slave system, which is an economic system," says Kinetik Justice, who joins us by phone from solitary confinement in Holman Correctional Facility. 

He is co-founder of the Free Alabama Movement and one of the organizers of the strike.

He says organizers tried petitioning their conditions via the courts and lawmakers, but when they were unsuccessful,

"We understood our incarceration was pretty much about our labor and the money that was being generated from the prison system, therefore we began organizing around our labor and used it as a means and a method to bring about reform in the Alabama prison system."

Et Tu Michel!? Brazil Senate Mounts a Coup

Brazil Senate vote ousts Workers Party President Dilma Rousseff

by Bill Van Auken  - WSWS

12 May 2016 

After a 20-hour debate that ended only at 5:45 AM in Brasilia, the Brazilian Senate voted to initiate impeachment proceedings against President Dilma Rousseff, suspending her from office. While only a simple majority was needed to start a trial of the Workers Party (Partido dos Trabalhadores—PT) president, her opponents mustered 55 votes in favor, one more than a two-thirds majority, with only 22 against.

The move effectively ends more than 13 years of Workers Party rule in Brazil and ushers in an extremely right-wing government that will redouble the attacks on the living standards and basic rights of Brazilian workers that had already begun under the Rousseff administration.

Scattered demonstrations broke out both for and against impeachment in Brasilia and across the country as the Senate debate unfolded.

In Washington, White House spokesman Josh Earnest affirmed the Obama administration’s “confidence in the mature, durable, democratic institutions in Brazil to withstand the challenge.”

In legal terms, the Senate vote only initiates a trial process that must conclude within 180 days with a decision on whether or not to impeach Rousseff, removing her permanently from office, which requires a two-thirds majority. Her suspension in the meantime, however, has cleared the way for her successor, Vice President Michel Temer, to carry out a wholesale purge of government officials.

A last-ditch attempt Tuesday by the country’s attorney general to win a Supreme Court order halting the impeachment proceedings was rebuffed. Another appeal on Wednesday for the court to bar Temer from sacking government ministers and naming his own cabinet was also rejected by the court.

While the entire political establishment in Brazil, along with some of the country’s wealthiest businessmen, are implicated in a massive bribes and kickbacks scandal involving contracts with the state-run energy giant Petrobras, Rousseff is to be tried on charges of improperly transferring funds from public banks to sustain government programs and, allegedly, to conceal fiscal realities in during her 2014 reelection bid. The president and her supporters point out that such budgetary practices were nothing new, having been employed by each of her recent predecessors.

Sixty percent of the members of the Senate that voted for an impeachment trial are themselves facing charges of one character or another, the great majority involving money laundering and corruption. Thirteen are facing trial before the Supreme Court in connection with the Petrobras scandal, while others are implicated in charges ranging from murder to rape and even the exploitation of slave labor.

While both Rousseff—who chaired the Petrobras board when the kickback scheme siphoned off some $2 billion in assets—and her predecessor as president, Workers Party founder Luis Inacio Lula da Silva, are also facing investigations, there has been no evidence directly linking her to criminal activity.

Rather, the impeachment process is being carried out on the basis of a transparent pretext with the objective of effecting a radical change in government policy demanded by the financial markets.

Brazil faces its worst economic crisis since the Great Depression of the 1930s, with the economy expected to contract for the second year in a row by at least 4 percent. Layoffs have taken place at the rate of 100,000 a month, while inflation has eaten into the living standards of the population.

The Workers Party government had already begun implementing harsh austerity measures. Rousseff and other PT leaders had argued that they alone could claim “legitimacy” in carrying through such attacks, while counting on the collaboration of the CUT union federation. Decisive sections of the Brazilian ruling class as well as foreign investors, however, made it clear that they wanted regime change.

During the protracted Senate debate, some of those backing impeachment made it clear that this was the real reason for ousting Rousseff, not alleged fiscal misdeeds. Senator Raimundo Lira of the PMDB, who led the special commission on impeachment, told the body, “We are living through a moment of crisis that will only begin to be resolved” with Rousseff’s ouster.

While Rousseff and her supporters have denounced her impeachment as a “coup,” the inconvenient truth is that the collection of right-wing parties and corrupt politicians who have pushed her out of the presidency are in most cases the erstwhile running mates, allies and partners of the PT and its government.

The 13 years of Workers Party rule served to further the growth of the right wing, which was awarded with government positions and payoffs for political support. Meanwhile, the corruption and pro-capitalist policies of the PT in power served to erode whatever base the party once had in the Brazilian working class.

Vice President Temer is to assume his new position as provisional president at 11 a.m. on Thursday. Folha de S.Paulo reported Wednesday that he had already prepared a speech in which he will tell the Brazilian people that the country’s economic situation is critical and that the population must unite in support of sweeping emergency measures.

Temer’s party, the PMDB (Brazilian Democratic Movement Party), has cast the program of the incoming administration as a “bridge to the future.” In reality, it is a bridge to the past, an attempt to wipe out social rights that were written into the 1988 constitution adopted three years after the end of Brazil’s more than 20-year-long military dictatorship.

Temer is to announce a new cabinet which will also be sworn in Thursday, making virtually a clean sweep of the ministers who had served under Rousseff. Most of their replacements have already been named. A PMDB legislator explained that it was necessary to avoid a “vacuum of power.”

Among the most significant appointments involve economic portfolios. Named as the new head of the Central Bank is Ilan Goldfajn, chief economist and partner at Itaú Unibanco, Brazil’s largest private bank. Goldfajn, who served in the same post under the government of Fernando Henrique Cardoso (1995-2003), has called for the scrapping of Brazil’s constitutional requirements to fund health care, retirement programs and aid to the poor, suggested that wages are too high and that the growth of unemployment is required to bring down inflation. Former Bank of Boston CEO and central bank President Henrique Meirelles has been tapped as minister of economy, entrusted with defending the interest of Brazilian and international capital.

To head the Ministry of Defense, Temer has apparently chosen Newton Cardoso, Jr., a 36-year-old PMDB deputy from the state of Minas Gerais. According to Folha, the choice has prompted protests within the military’s uniformed command, which sees him as too young and politically inexperienced to oversee the armed forces under conditions of intense political crisis. Not helping matters, he and his father, the former governor of Minas Gerais, were named in the Panama Papers as having opened an offshore account to purchase a $1.9 million helicopter and a flat in London valued at £1.2 million.

And as justice minister, Temer has named Alexandre de Moraes, the right-wing Sao Paulo public safety secretary, who has presided over a Military Police force that kills more people each year than all of the US police departments combined.

While recent polls have put Rousseff’s approval rating at roughly 10 percent and indicated 60 percent support for impeachment, Temer’s popularity is if anything lower and a similar majority has called for his removal.

The assumption of power by Temer, who himself faces potential impeachment as well an investigation in connection with the Petrobras scandal, will hardly stem the political crisis. Rather, it signals a sharp intensification of the class struggle in Brazil under the rule of an illegitimate government.

Passing: Steve Lawson, Warrior Defender of the Living World

In honor of the life of Steve Lawson 1948-2016

13 May 2016

From the family of Steve Lawson...

This is to honor the life and memory of well-known environmentalist, Steve Lawson, who passed during the night of May 8th as the Northern Lights danced across the sky from his home on Wickaninnish Island off Tofino to his birthplace in his Anishinabe Territory of Shoal Lake and Whitefish Bay in Southern Ontario.

His family and friends and all who knew him mourn this loss and miss him deeply.

His life as an Indigenous child raised in foster homes to his adult life on the west coast spanned a tumultuous and changing era of recognition of Native rights. From designing and building boats to withstand the open ocean to carpentry and fishing, he managed to be a great father to five children and then a grandfather to five more.

Acting on behalf of the natural world, he is well known for his work as an ecologist in Clayoquot Sound and on Vancouver Island where he attempted to bring an end to the logging of the old growth forests and an end to mining in B.C.'s oldest park, Strathcona Park. He made international news in the effort to stop the trophy hunting and parts market of black bears and to ensure the wild salmon and marine life wasn't harmed by logging and fish farming on the west coast.

As an Ojibwa Native man, his heart was rooted in the natural the wildlife around us and to the spiritual teachings he inherently knew. A wisdom teacher and a patient, peaceful and dedicated man of few words, he was a leader in the most humble sense who strove for integrity and understanding and was an example to all who knew him.

He went to prison for blockading the old growth logging of the forests of Clayoquot Sound, standing beside many chiefs and members of First Nations communities in the defense and preservation of their lands and waters and all future generations. He has been the longstanding coordinator of the First Nations Environmental Network of Canada as well as serving on the board of the Canadian Environmental Network.

Due to his passion for the living world of nature, he was awarded an Animal Action Award by the International Fund for Animal Welfare in 2006 and received a citation from the B.C. Minister of Environment, Lands and Parks in 2000 in recognition of his contribution to the protection and enhancement of British Columbia's environment. He was noted for his work with David Suzuki as well as the Sea Shepherd Foundation.

His legacy remains integral to the well being of British Columbians and global policies. He represented Canada at international levels of Forest conferences for the United Nations and greatly due to his work as well as many others, Clayoqout Sound was declared a UNESCO Biosphere and Strathcona Park was preserved from further mining and resource extraction. Meares Island in Clayoquot Sound remains today a Tribal Park, one of the few designations around the world to have that status and due to the battle for Meares Island, Aboriginal Title was finally recognized across the country in law and brought into the history books in libraries and schools.

Dealing with cancer over the past year and a half brought great challenges but also brought a deeper understanding of the traditional and spiritual knowledge of his people.

It is with deep sadness that his wife, Susanne, his children, Keila, Matahil, Quoasinis (Cosy), MitlaNova (Misty), Oren and his grandchildren, Laterra, Brennan, Mila, Jett and Della as well as the many friends and extended family and acquaintances mourn his passing.

From being a child raised in foster homes with no close family to being an adult having such a great and widespread family of so many, his life has been a fulfilling, productive and powerful example of accomplishment leaving behind a better world.

Usurped! Dilma and the Three Brutuses

Dilma Out: Brazilian Plutocracy Sets 54 Million Votes on Fire

by Pepe Escobar - CounterPunch

May 13, 2016
Never in modern political history has it been so easy to “abolish the people” and simply erase 54 million votes cast in a free and fair presidential election.

Forget about hanging chads, as in Florida 2000. This is a day that will live in infamy all across the Global South – when what was one of its most dynamic democracies veered into a plutocratic regime, under a flimsy parliamentary/judicial veneer, with legal and constitutional guarantees now at the mercy of lowly comprador elites.

After the proverbial marathon, the Brazilian Senate voted 55-22 to put President Dilma Rousseff on trial for “crimes of responsibility” – related to alleged window dressing of the government’s budget.

This is the culmination of a drawn-out process that started even before Rousseff won re-election in late 2014 with over 54 million votes. I have described the bunch of perpetrators of what Brazilian creativity has termed ‘golpeachment’ (a mix of coup – “golpe” in Portuguese – and impeachment) as Hybrid War hyenas.

Sophisticated golpeachment – supported by what amounts to an Electoral Inquisition College – has propelled Hybrid War to whole new levels.

Hybrid War as applied to Brazil exhibited classic elements of a color revolution. Of course there was no need for no-fly zones or humanitarian imperialism to “protect human rights” – not to mention provoking a civil war. But considering the high resistance level of the victim state, where civil society is very dynamic, Hybrid War designers in this case bet on a mix of capitulation – and betrayal – of local elites, mixed with “peaceful protests” and a relentless mainstream media campaign. Call it ‘Civil War Light.’

That carried with it a fabulous cost-benefit ratio. Now the (immensely corrupt) Brazilian political system and the current executive/legislative/judiciary/mainstream media alignment can be used by the usual suspects for their geopolitical agenda.

Welcome to regime change light – politics, in a nutshell – as war by other means on the BRICS. A new software, a new operating system. Carrying a pathetic corollary; if the US is the Empire of Chaos, Brazil has now gloriously reached the status of Sub-Empire of Scoundrels.

Scoundrels galore

Rousseff may be accused of serious economic mismanagement, and of being incapable of political articulation among the shark pool that is (immensely corrupt) Brazilian politics. But she is not corrupt. She made a serious mistake in fighting inflation, allowing interest rates to rise to an unsustainable level; so demand in Brazil dramatically dropped, and recession became the norm. She is the (convenient) scapegoat for Brazil’s recession.

She certainly may be blamed for not having a Plan B to fight the global recession. Brazil essentially works on two pillars; commodity exports and local companies relying on the teats of the state. Infrastructure in general is dismal – adding to what is described as the “Brazilian cost” of doing business. With the commodity slump, state funds dwindled and everything was paralyzed – credit, investment, consumption.

The pretext for Rousseff’s impeachment – allegedly transferring loans from public banks to the Treasury in order to disguise the size of Brazil’s fiscal deficit – is flimsy at best. Every administration in the West does it – and that includes Clinton’s, Bush’s and Obama’s.

The Operation Car Wash investigation, dragging on for two years now, was supposed to uncover corruption in the Brazilian political system – as in the collusion of oil giant Petrobras executives, Brazilian construction companies, and political campaign financing. Car Wash has nothing to do with the golpeachment drive. Yet these have been two parallel highways converging to one destination: the criminalization of the Workers’ Party, and the definitive – if possible – political assassination of Rousseff and her mentor, former President Lula.

When golpeachment reached the lower house of Congress – an appalling spectacle – Rousseff was eviscerated by Hybrid War hyenas of the BBC variety; “BBC,” in English, stands for “bullet,”“bible” and “cattle,” where “bullet” refers to the weapons and private security industry, “bible” to pastors and evangelical fanatics, and “cattle” to the powerful agribusiness lobby.

The “BBC” hyenas are members of almost all Brazilian political parties, paperboys for major corporations, and – last but not least – corruption stalwarts. They all benefited from millionaire political campaigning. The whole Car Wash investigation ultimately revolves around campaign financing, which in Brazil, unlike the US with its legalized lobbies, is a Tarantino-worthy Wild West.

The Brazilian Senate is not exactly an “upper” – as in more polished – house. Eighty percent of members are white men – in a country where miscegenation rules. A staggering 58 percent is under criminal investigation – linked to Car Wash. Sixty percent hail from political dynasties. And 13 percent – as alternates – were not elected at all. Among those favoring impeachment, 30 out of 49 are in trouble with the law. Charges include mostly money laundering, financial crimes and outright corruption. Renan Calheiros, the president of the Senate – who oversaw today’s impeachment vote – is the target of no fewer than nine separate money laundering/corruption Car Wash lines of investigation, plus another two criminal probes.

Meet the three Banana Republic amigos 


Rousseff is now suspended for a maximum 180 days while a Senate committee decides whether to impeach her for good. Enter President-in-Waiting Michel Temer – a dodgy, shady operator – who has been branded a “usurper” by Rousseff. And usurper this provincial Brutus certainly is – according to his own words. On March 30 last year, he was tweeting that,“Impeachment is unthinkable, it would create an institutional crisis. There is no judicial or political basis for it.”

His administration is born with the original sin of being illegal and massively unpopular; his approval rating floats between an epic 1 percent and 2 percent. He was already fined last week for violating campaign finance limits. And, predictably, he’s drowning in a corruption swamp – named in two Car Wash plea bargains and accused of being part of an illegal scheme of ethanol buying; he may become ineligible for the next eight years. Almost 60 percent of Brazilians also want him impeached – on the same charges leveled against Rousseff.

Brutus 1 (Temer) would not bask in the glow of his 15 minutes of fame without the shenanigans of Brutus 2 (Brazil’s number one crook, former speaker of the lower house Eduardo Cunha, facing charges of bribery and perjury, holder of illegal Swiss accounts, and now finally sidelined by the Supreme Court). It was Brutus 2 who fast-tracked impeachment as pure vengeance; the Workers’ Party did not cover his back as he was facing a tsunami of corruption charges. Brutus 2 used all his vast powers – he runs a campaign financing scam inside Congress – to obstruct the Car Wash investigation. His replacement, the interim speaker, is also under investigation for bribery.

So meet Temer, Cunha, Calheiros; these three amigos are the true stars of the Banana Republic of Scoundrels/Crooks

As if the Supreme Court would be rascal-free. Judge Gilmar Mendes, for instance, is a lowly plutocrat vassal. When an attorney for the government entered a motion to suspend impeachment, he quipped, “Ah, they can go to heaven, to the Pope, or to hell.” Another pompous judge received a request to sideline Cunha as early as December 2015.

He only examined the request over four months later, when the whole golpeachment scam was in its decisive phase. And still he argued, “there’s no proof Cunha contaminated the impeachment process.”

Finally, complementing the whole scam, we find Brazilian mainstream media, with the toxic Globo media empire – which lavishly profited from the 1964 military coup – at the forefront.

All hail the neoliberal restoration

Wall Street – as well as the City of London – could not hide its excitement with golpeachment, believing Brutus 1 Temer will be an economic upgrade. Arguably, he might dare to tweak Brazil’s Kafkaesque tax code and do something about the enormous hole in the pension system. But what that mythical entity – the “markets” – and myriad “investors” are salivating about is the prospect of fabulous rates of return in a reopened-for-speculation Brazil. The Brutus 1 game will be a neoliberal feast, actually a restoration, with no popular representation whatsoever.

The golpeachment gang gets really incensed when they are identified as coup plotters. Still, they could not give a damn about the OAS, Mercosur, Unasur – all of them condemned the coup – not to mention the Holy Grail: the BRICS. Under Brutus 1, the Foreign Ministry, to be led by a sore loser senator, is bound to sink Brazil’s key role in BRICS cooperation, to the benefit of Exceptionalistan.

All one needs to know is that neither Nobel Peace Prize-winner Barack “kill list” Obama nor Queen of Chaos Hillary “We came, we saw, he died” Clinton condemned the ongoing regime change light/golpeachment. That’s predictable, considering Exceptionalistan’sNSA spied on Petrobras and Dilma Rousseff personally – the genesis of what would develop as the Car Wash investigation.

White House spokesman Josh Earnest limited himself to the proverbial platitudes: “challenging moment”; “trust in Brazilian democratic institutions”; or even “mature democracy.” Yet he added, significantly, that Brazil is “under scrutiny.”

Of course, the current stage of a very sophisticated Hybrid War strategy has been accomplished. But there are countless cliffhangers ahead. The Car Wash investigation – currently in slow motion – will pick up speed as a rash of dodgy plea bargains is already in store to create the conditions to criminalize for good not only Dilma Rousseff but the key piece in the chessboard: Lula.

Game over? Not so fast. The anti-golpeachment front does have a strategy: to imprint especially in “deep Brazil,” the vast masses of the working poor, the notion of illegality; to rebuild Rousseff’s image as the victim of a profound injustice; to re-energize the progressive political front; to make sure the Brutus 1 government will fail; and to create the conditions for the man who will come in from the cold to win the 2018 presidential elections.

Brazilian House of Cards? Bets could be made this may even end up as Anaconda, with Lula immobilizing the Hybrid War hyenas in a cobra clutch.

This piece first appeared at RT.
Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). His latest book is Empire of Chaos. He may be reached at
More articles by:Pepe Escobar

Community Concern Over Impacts of Proposed Open Pit Mine at Kamloops

Health & Community Impacts: Kamloops Delegation Learns Hard Lessons from Malartic Open Pit Mine

by MiningWatch Canada

3 May 2016
Malartic - While the Stk’emlupsemc te Secwepemc Nation (SSN) is hosting its first days of community hearings on the controversial Ajax open pit mine project near Kamloops, B.C., municipal representatives are touring across the other end of the country, in Ontario and Quebec, learning some hard lessons about the impacts of large open pit mines located next to city limits. Yesterday, the Kamloops delegation met the Abitibi-Temiscamingue Regional Public Health Authority and residents affected by the Canadian Malartic open pit mine. MiningWatch helped to coordinate and participated in those meetings.

“You have to power to say ‘no’ now, but if you decide to go ahead with this Ajax mine in Kamloops, be prepared for unanticipated community and health impacts –because there will be tons of those,” is essentially what residents affected by the Malartic mine told the Kamloops delegation over the last two days. 
“Dust, ground tremors, air blasts, noise, increased traffic, decreasing population, inability to sell properties, social tensions, and losses of local businesses are amongst the main impacts raised by Malartic’s residents we met,” observes Ugo Lapointe, Canada Program Coordinator for MiningWatch.

The visit comes as the City of Kamloops is about to submit its comments, before May 11th, to both provincial and federal regulators regarding Polish-owned KGHM’s environmental application for the Ajax project, a low grade copper-gold open pit mine that would be located right on the edge of the city.

On Sunday, Kamloops’ Mayor Peter Milobar and city councillors Denis Walsh and Tina Lange spent a long day meeting with the mine’s representatives, municipal representatives, and affected community members. 
“We took them on a two-hour tour of the community, meeting with several property owners in different parts of the city so that they can see the range of impacts experienced by local residents,” explains Lapointe.
 Those included cracks in house foundations and walls (with monitors installed by the mine company); accumulated mine dust inside houses, outside patios, swimming pools, and gutters; as well as clogged-up air exchanger filters and respiratory-assisted machines used by people with respiratory problems.

On Monday morning, the delegation met with Regional Public Health Authority representatives, who emphasized their ongoing concerns about the health impacts of the Malartic mine and the up-coming expansion project (see highlights presented here). In two separate studies published in 2015, the health authorities have documented impacts up to 2.5 km away from the mine site (which is the outmost limit of the city for which data exists). In neighborhoods furthest from the mine, the noise, daily blasts, and dust respectively affect 15-26%, 17-41%, and 27-48% of the population. In neighborhoods closest to the mine, the proportion of people affected by the mine climbs up to 54% for noise, 74% for dust and 78% for ground tremors. Over a third of the population want to move away from Malartic due to the mine’s impacts.

Says Lapointe, 
“The Kamloops delegation were quite surprised by the extent of some of the community and health impacts in Malartic. While being slightly further away from the city, we anticipate that the Ajax mine would likely generate greater impacts, considering the mine would be twice as large, located uphill and upwind from a much larger urban population –nearly 30 times the population of Malartic, in an arid climate, and with next to no financial capacity to pay for costly mitigation or compensation measures that would be necessary.”

The Malartic mine is currently the largest open pit mine located within city limits in Canada. Despite having spent over a 100 million dollars in mitigation and compensation measures to date, the Malartic mine is incapable of meeting regulated levels of dust emissions, ground tremors, air blasts, and noise. It holds the record in the province, across all industries, with 171 environmental infractions and over 2000 non-compliances since construction started in 2009.

For more information, see the open letter presented to Kamloops City Council last March by Malartic resident Diane Gagnon, as well as our recent report “Economic Risk Analysis” of KGHM’s Ajax project. See also our blog highlighting some of the main reasons to be concerned about the Ajax mine, and a table comparing the Malartic and Ajax mines.
News Release

Thursday, May 12, 2016

Demented Step-Dad: Recognizing Kissinger As the Adopted Father of Modern America

Obama Granted Henry Kissinger a Distinguished Public Service Award: An outsized personality who has committed outsized mayhem, Kissinger eclipses his own context

by Greg Grandin  - The Nation

May 12, 2016

Yesterday Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter honored Henry A. Kissinger at the Pentagon by presenting the former secretary of state with the Distinguished Public Service Award, apparently the highest award the Department of Defense has for private citizens.

Kissinger and Chilean creation Augusto Pinochet

Carter himself deserves an award for understatement, calling the man who is responsible, directly or indirectly, for the deaths of millions of people in Southeast Asia, East Timor, Bangladesh, and southern Africa, among other places—”unique in the annals of American diplomacy.” Kissinger, Carter said, “demonstrated how serious thinking and perspective can deliver solutions to seemingly intractable problems.” As to allegations of war crimes, “the fact is,” said Kissinger, he and Richard Nixon “were engaged in good causes.”

Where to start? 

It’s exhausting trying to keep track of what is now a quarterly celebration of the 92-year-old Kissinger. It was just six or so months ago when The New York Times Book Review assigned Kissinger’s preferred authorized biographer to review a Kissinger biography written by Kissinger’s second-choice biographer. A “masterpiece”! the first said of the second. And then, three months ago, Hillary Clinton, in a debate with Bernie Sanders, cited Kissinger’s recommendation as a referral for the White House.

At the time, Clinton’s remarks seemed a misstep, allowing Sanders an opening to criticize her catastrophic interventionism in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. Now, though, it is clear that Clinton’s invocation of Kissinger wasn’t a fluke but rather a preview of a general election strategy to run to Trump’s right on foreign policy and win over the hawkish wing of the Republican Party. “The candidate in the race most like George W. Bush and Dick Cheney from a foreign-policy perspective,” Republican strategist Steve Schmidt recently said, “is in fact Hillary Clinton.”

It would be pointless to provide yet another recitation of the many miseries Kissinger caused around the globe during his long run in public office from 1969 to 1977. By now, those who want to know his atrocities know his atrocities. Even his authorized biographer, Niall Ferguson, doesn’t deny that Kissinger is a criminal but rather mitigates the crimes by comparing them to other crimes: “Nearly a hundred times as many people,” Ferguson writes, “died” as a result of John Foster Dulles’s actions in Guatemala as “were ‘disappeared’ in Chile” after the 1973 coup vigorously encouraged by Kissinger, yet “you will search the libraries in vain for The Trial of John Forster Dulles” (Ferguson apparently hasn’t yet read the books by David Talbot and Stephen Kinzer). Kissinger is implicated in at least three genocides (Cambodia, Bangladesh, and East Timor) and, give or take, 4 million deaths.

Kissinger’s unusually high body count and singular moral imperiousness has the effect, among his critics, of obscuring his didactic utility. An outsized personality who has committed outsized mayhem, Kissinger eclipses his own context. Yet as animals were to the anthropologist Claude Levi-Strauss, Kissinger is good to think with.

Kissinger celebrants inevitably point to two things to justify their admiration: an opening to China—“rapprochement”—and improved relations with the Soviet Union—détente—which included SALT, a historic arms-limitation treaty. These initiatives are often described as the pillars of his “grand strategy,” stabilizing the post-Vietnam international order and allowing the United States, the Soviet Union, and China to stake out spheres of influence.

Let’s grant these two achievements to Kissinger (even though scholars of foreign relations question just how central he was to either). If these policies—purportedly enacted to stabilize the interstate system—had been allowed to mature, one could imagine a number of salutary effects. In the United States, for instance, Washington could have demilitarized in the wake of the Vietnam War, using funds that would have gone into the military budget to recapitalize domestic infrastructure and nonmilitary research and development, making possible a different kind of response to the 1973–75 economic crisis, a value-added, good-paying, mass-industrial public policy rather than the “free trade” race to the bottom that was put into place. But they didn’t have a chance to mature, and they didn’t because of, at least in part, the actions of Henry Kissinger.

In the realm of foreign policy, in the years following the end of the Vietnam War, Kissinger, in one region after another, executed policies that helped doom his own grand strategy, undermining détente and canceling out whatever steadying effect it might have provided the planet. In southern Africa, for instance, Kissinger supported civil wars that would last decades and kill millions. In the Middle East, he pointlessly provoked the Soviet Union and laid the foundation for the jihadists. The militarization of the Gulf, including the brokering of ever larger arms sales to Saudi Arabia in exchange for petrodollars, was a Kissinger initiative, one that was enthusiastically continued by all subsequent secretaries of states, including Hillary Clinton (see this essay I did for TomDispatch, drawn from Kissinger’s Shadow, on Kissinger’s consequential post-Vietnam turn toward the Middle East).

Under Nixon and Ford, Kissinger constantly invoked Weimar Germany to warn liberals about the “brutal forces in the society,” the “real tough guys,” who were waiting in the wings. Kissinger, Kissinger said, was the only thing standing between them and the fascists (that’s why, one of his rationales goes, he had to bomb Cambodia, as blood tribute to a rising New Right). Well, by 1980, he was with those brutes. Endorsing Ronald Reagan in 1980, Kissinger threw in with America’s new militarists, who would jump-start a revived Cold War and drive to retake the Third World.

That the policies Kissinger would hand off to his successors were morally indefensible is a matter of opinion. Less contestable is the claim that he left the world polarized and, in the long-run, volatile, despite the short-term stability of the jackboot.

In a way, Kissinger did to the larger Third World what he did to Cambodia: He institutionalized a self-fulfilling logic of intervention. Action led to action, reaction demanded more action. Just as his secret bombing so roiled Cambodia’s borders that, by early 1970, it made a major land invasion using US troops seem like a good idea, Kissinger’s global post–Vietnam War diplomacy so inflamed the international order that it made the neocons’ radical vision of perpetual war look like a reasonable option for many of the world’s problems.

Zack Beauchamp over at Vox had a good summary of Kissinger’s war crimes, though the premise of the essay’s title—“The Obama Administration Is Honoring Henry Kissinger Today. It Shouldn’t Be”—is exactly backwards.

Of course the White House should be honoring Kissinger, since it runs its endless war by Kissinger’s rules. The right to bomb neutral countries the United States isn’t at war with in the name of national security is now unquestionably accepted across the foreign policy spectrum, as is the right of the White House to engage in extrajudicial assassination at will (Kissinger’s illegal Cambodia bombing set a precedent, but he also lent critical legitimacy by supporting Reagan’s bombing of Libya, George H.W. Bush’s invasion of Panama and Gulf War I, and George W. Bush’s Gulf War II).

At 92, Kissinger, after picking up a few more honorifics and celebrating a few more star-studded birthdays, will soon go to his grave eulogized by President Hillary Clinton, at a funeral attended by Samantha Power, knowing that he’s won.

Domestically, Nixon and Kissinger, as they themselves put it, intentionally used foreign policy to “break the back” of domestic opponents and “destroy the confidence of the people in the American establishment.” They had mixed results with the former (Nixon did win a landslide reelection in 1972, though he was subsequently driven out of office), but succeeded, stunningly, with the latter, beginning the erosion of confidence in the “establishment” (see Trump, Donald).
Greg Grandin teaches history at New York University and is the author of Kissinger’s Shadow.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Labour's "Anti-Semite" Witch-hunt: Israel Lobby (English-Style) Dogs Corbyn

Beware Israeli Doublespeak: A Palestinian Perspective on Britain’s ‘Anti-Semitic’ Controversy

by Ramzy Baroud  -

May 11, 2016

There is a witch-hunt in the British Labor Party. Britain's Opposition party leader, Jeremy Corbyn, is being hounded for not rooting out alleged anti-Semitism in his party.

Those leading the charge are pro-Israel Zionists and their supporters within the party, members who are mostly allied with the former Prime Minister, the largely discredited pro-war Tony Blair.

Gaza rubble: Defending Palestinians
the "unforgivable sin".

The Blairites are quite unhappy that Corbyn, who won the party's leadership election last September with a landslide victory is a non-elitist politician, with a deep-rooted grassroots activist past, and, yes, a strong stance for Palestinian rights.

Corbyn has been subjected to all sorts of attacks and ridicule from his own party, many members of which have been busy plotting to push him out, but remained hesitant because of his popular appeal. The Labor party had, in fact, lost much of its credibility since the days of Blair’s ‘New Labor’ and following the US lead in waging an immoral and illegal war on Iraq. Blair’s supporters changed the priorities of the party, which was ‘labor’ by name only. Corbyn’s advent galvanized young people around fresh ideals, and renewed the shaky faith of the party’s traditional supporters.

But since he became a leader, the man’s agenda of anti-corruption and greater equality in Britain has been slowed down, or even entirely halted, by some most bizarre controversies. He was attacked over such things as his supposed poor sense of fashion, his alleged lack of patriotism, and more. The attacks have been so ridiculous, yet omnipresent, that they became the subject of popular memes and much satire.

And when it all failed, he was hit with another manufactured controversy, that of alleged anti-Semitism within his own party. The recent attacks have been the most organized, yet. They involve Israel supporters, British politicians, the media and other sources.

The media has tried to paint him as an embattled leader who is not able to control the uncontainable Jewish hate oozing from his party members.

British Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis, known for his strong support of Israel joined the fray, charging that the lid has been lifted on bigotry within Labor and that investigation into anti-Semitism must be more than a 'sticker plaster.'

The investigation and the preceding outcry of anti-Semitism, however, targeted those who were critical of Israel, not Jews, in general, or Judaism. Former London Mayor, Ken Livingstone, who was suspended from Labor for suggesting links between the Nazi party and early Zionists, was not making any reference to Jews per se, and certainly not to Judaism. Arguably, if he was wrong, then it is a mere question of history, not race.

In its coverage of the controversy, even the BBC, delinks both concepts:

"Anti-Semitism is 'hostility and prejudice directed against Jewish people', while "Zionism refers to the movement to create a Jewish state in the Middle East."

Indeed, the first is a racist ideology, while the latter is an entirely political and historical question, especially since early Zionists were largely atheists. Israel’s Zionist-Jewish contradiction was phrased skillfully by Israeli historian, Ilan Pappe, when he wrote:

“The secular Jews who founded the Zionist movement wanted paradoxically both to secularize Jewish life and to use the Bible as a justification for colonizing Palestine; in other words, they did not believe in God but He, nonetheless, promised them Palestine.”

But the Rabbi, and many of those who unscrupulously joined the charge against Labor pretend that Zionism, a late 19th century political movement is the same as Judaism, a religion that dates back millennia.

However, there is nothing new here, and the manufactured ‘controversy’ is hardly limited to Britain or the Labor Party.

The message that Israeli hasbara (propaganda) has been steadily sending to its critics since the establishment of Israel over the ruins of the Palestinian homeland in May 1948: if you are critical of Israel, however slightly, you are a certified anti-Semite. If it happens that you are Jewish, then you are a self-hating Jew, and if you are an Arab, you must abandon the idea that you are, yourself, Semitic and Arab, by merely opposing Israel’s ethnic-cleansing of Palestinians who are all anti-Semites, anyway.

I doubt there is a self-respecting Palestinian intellectual who has not fended against accusations of being anti-Semitic for merely advocating Palestinian rights, and demanding accountability of Israeli violations of human rights and war crimes.

Many independent Jewish voices, too, have found themselves on the defensive, although within a different category. The classification of a ‘self-hating Jew’ has been ever so popular these days, especially as many Jewish activists have righteously joined the Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement (BDS). The once-marginalized voices are now a large and growing crowd.

Unable to defend Israeli action based on logical arguments, international law or common sense, Israel’s supporters use other means, threats, smears and vilifications, and also by fabricating non-existing controversies. And no one is immune.

Daniel Greenfield engaged in a bizarre diatribe in the Jewish Press on March 8, in an article entitled: "Bernie Sanders is NOT a Jew". In the same familiar tone of distortion and self-pity, Greenfield theorized: “While Bernie Sanders invoked his last few drops of Jewishness and the Holocaust in support of a Muslim anti-Semite’s cry bullying, he didn’t feel the need to do so for the Jewish State when it actually stood on the verge of destruction. Instead, he had called for denying arms to Israel before the Yom Kippur War.”

How about the United Nations, which has failed to enforce a single resolution of the dozens of resolutions passed to demand justice for the Palestinians and accountability from Israel?

It is an “anti-Semitic circus” according to Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu. The novel designation followed the recent UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC's) decision to compile a list of international and Israeli companies that do business in illegal Jewish settlements in the Occupied Territories.

Despite the fact that the UN is yet to reverse the worsening plight of the Palestinians or advance their cause beyond symbolic gestures, one rarely hears the accusation that the UN is anti-Palestinian, or anti-Arab.

On the other hand, for merely censuring Israeli action by words only, the UN, according to Jennifer Rubin writing in the Washington Post on February 16, “tolerates and, by its silence, condones, anti-Semitism.”

The US government has blindly and unconditionally given credence to that notion, marching to the drumbeat of the Israeli government on every occasion and boycotting international institutions whenever Israel raises the frequently false flag of anti-Semitism.

The matter is not only pertinent to Israel and Palestine. Anyone who dares go against Israel’s interest in the region and around the world is a candidate for the manipulation of Israeli terminology.

Following the Iran nuclear deal between Iran and western powers, conservative commentator, Debbie Schlussel, coined new terminology: ‘Jews in the Name Only’ or JINOs. Those alleged JINOs are the 98 prominent ‘Hollywood Jews’, who backed the Iran deal in an open letter.

By completely shutting the door on any form of criticism of Israel, Zionism, and the censure of its military behavior in the region coupled with the daily violence meted out against occupied Palestinians, Israel has expanded the definition of anti-Semitism to include whole countries, governments, international institutions and millions of independently thinking individuals the world over.

However, not even such deliberate distortion should prevent us from making the differentiation loud and clear: anti-Jewish racism should be condemned as loudly and decisively as Islamophobia and any other form of racial discrimination and bigotry.

However, criticizing violent political movements and the behavior of any state that violates international law and human rights is a moral duty. Israel will not be the exception.

Dr. Ramzy Baroud has been writing about the Middle East for over 20 years. He is an internationally-syndicated columnist, a media consultant, an author of several books and the founder of His books include ‘Searching Jenin’, ‘The Second Palestinian Intifada’ and his latest ‘My Father Was a Freedom Fighter: Gaza’s Untold Story’. His website is:

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Gorilla Radio with Chris Cook, Rick Sterling, Sandra Finley, Janine Bandcroft May 11th, 2016

This Week on GR

by C. L. Cook -

May 10, 2016

It's one of the best regarded of all NGO's, but reports emanating from Syria by the Non-Governmental Organization, MSF/Doctors Without Borders are raising concerns about that organization's objectivity.

Doubts have been expressed about accounts of the April 27th bombing attack in eastern Aleppo that allegedly destroyed the Al Quds Hospital; doubts that bring into question what really happened at the "MSF-supported" Al Quds, and whether in fact what was destroyed, if it was destroyed, was a hospital at all.

Rick Sterling is an independent researcher, writer, and member of Syria Solidarity Movement whose articles can be found online at CounterPunch, ConsortiumNews, and Dissident Voice. He's also an active member of the Task Force on the Americas at the Mount Diablo Peace and Justice Center.

Sterling's latest piece, 'Syria: Challenging the MSF Narratives and Bias in Aleppo' is an open letter to MSF questioning both what it is, and is not reporting in Syria.

Rick Sterling in the first half

And; yesterday was "census day" in Canada. Tuesday marked the official beginning of the official part of the national head count; that is, when officials will start applying pressure on the citizenry to comply with the count, or else!

Sandra Finley is an activist, writer, and researcher and former leader of the Green Party of Saskatchewan. Finley and others challenged the participation of the international arms manufacturer, Lockheed-Martin in Canada's 2011 census, and was charged for her very public refusal to be counted.

Sandra Finley, counting correctly our Canadian way of life through resistance and/or "minimal cooperation" in the second half.

And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will join us at the bottom of the hour to bring us news of some of the good things to do in, on, and around our city's streets, and beyond there too, in the coming week. But first, Rick Sterling and getting a second opinion on Doctors Without Borders in Syria. 
Chris Cook hosts Gorilla Radio, airing live every Wednesday, 1-2pm Pacific Time. In Victoria at 101.9FM, and on the internet at:  He also serves as a contributing editor to the web news site, Check out the GR blog at:
G-Radio is dedicated to social justice, the environment, community, and providing a forum for people and issues not covered in the corporate media.

Lockheed Martin, Militarized Economy and Canada's New Census

Lockheed Martin, War Economy, StatsCan, Charter Right Privacy, Trial 

by Sandra Finley - The Battles

The collection of information about Lockheed Martin Corporation was prompted by their involvement in the Canadian Census beginning around 2003. Lockheed Martin is influential in the American Pentagon, the war department.

Lockheed Martin’s participation in Statistics Canada continues. Data collection on individuals increases year-after-year through relentless StatsCan Surveys. (The “Census long form” became the expanded National Household Survey. In January 2016 under the Liberal Government it is set to revert to its former mandatory Census long form status.)

It is not wise for the American military through Lockheed Martin Corporation to have access, because of the Patriot Act, to a comprehensive data base on Canadian citizens.

UPDATE: The validity of these statements is reinforced by the leaks by Edward Snowden about NSA surveillance. Lockheed Martin works with the NSA. A specialty of LM is surveillance. … the articles to support my statements are on this blog. The NSA / FBI does not even need the Patriot Act – if not front-door access, they install back-door access to data bases. Which also opens up the data base to hackers – – they use the same “back-door”.

2016-04-03 (A primer on the 2016 Census) Response to Interview of Chief Statistician, Wayne Smith. CBC
2016-03-18 Does Lockheed Martin Corp have a role in the 2016 Census?

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

Do Canadians have a CHARTER RIGHT TO PRIVACY of personal information? . . . in theory, in political and legal rhetoric, the answer is “yes”. But see the LEGAL ARGUMENT. In practice, the answer is “only if citizens stand up and fight to keep it”.

Do not rely on Governments and the Courts to defend the Charter Right. The LEGAL ARGUMENT discusses what the law says and how it has been applied by the Courts in this instance.

The debacle at StatsCan since 2003 has spawned the following summaries:
More concise argument? (conversation with JoAnne)
THE MOST IMPORTANT ARGUMENT The role of mechanized census data in Nazi Europe.
StatsCan Surveys, Complaint to the Privacy Commissioner

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


2015-11-09 Letter to Justice Minister, Jody Wilson-Raybould. Census long form. Protect Charter Right to Privacy of Personal Information.

The Liberal election platform and Prime Minister J Trudeau’s support for a mandatory census long form

does not factor in

the Charter Right to Privacy of Personal Information.

And is in serious conflict with Trudeau’s statements in support of Charter Rights.

From the Response and Reply with the Office of the Attorney General (found near the bottom of the above link):

Liberal Commitment to the Charter of Rights and Freedom

Prime Minister J Trudeau mandated Minister Jody Wilson-Raybould (Attorney General):

… You are expected to ensure that the rights of Canadians are protected, that our work demonstrates the greatest possible commitment to respecting the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, and that our government seeks to fulfill our policy goals with the least interference with the rights and privacy of Canadians as possible.

Prime Minister J Trudeau recognizes the value of Charter Rights, he writes in his book, “Common Ground” 2014:

(p. 192) “I know that everyone in this room supports our Charter of Rights,” I told the crowd. “It’s the document that forms the basis of the rights we all enjoy … The Charter of Rights protects freedoms for everyone. You can’t pick and choose the rights you want to keep and leave behind the ones you don’t like.”

(p. 184) I reminded them that it had been twenty-five years since my father had given Canada the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, one of the most valued tools the world has even seen for ensuring the protection and full exercise of human rights. “Now we are all children of that Charter,’ I said.

As I said, the commitment to a mandatory census long form is in serious conflict with the above statements regarding devotion to Charter Rights and specifically the Charter Right to Privacy of Personal Information.

“In fostering the underlying values of dignity, integrity and autonomy, it is fitting that s. 8 of the Charter should seek to protect a biographical core of personal information which individuals in a free and democratic society would wish to maintain and control from dissemination to the state.”

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


The following paragraph is from the MORAL argument (Can you have a moral nation without a moral people?)

CONSIDER: A group of people get together under a corporate name. They commit highly unlawful acts, have a long list of court convictions, and have not been tried for all their crimes.

They come to Canada and are not only immune from the laws of our land, but they also receive billions of our tax dollars.

You will find the MORAL argument a worthwhile read.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –

See the RATIONAL argument . I think we’re crazy to involve the American War Department in any way, in detailed files on citizens. . . . .

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


Resistance to Lockheed Martin’s participation in the Canadian Federal bureaucracy is strengthened by resistance to their involvement in Canadian Universities and other institutions.

I need to break out a new Category. The related postings are scattered under Lockheed Martin (Peace or Violence?) and Take Back the University (Knowledge Base).

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


The issue is much more than census & survey contracts

Scroll through the information under the Category (right-hand sidebar) “Peace or violence“, sub-category “Lockheed Martin…”. Quislings in Government are giving away Canadian sovereignty and have been for many years.
There is increasing militarization.
This is all in an era of Resource depletion (water in USA)
The military-industrial corporatocracy is being duplicated in Canada. See the “Canada First Defence Strategy” and “offset agreements“. It is financed by citizens (tax dollars), the same as in the U.S.

Do not take my word for anything.

Understand what Lockheed Martin Corporation does in the world. See the video, an interview with William Hartung, author of “Prophets of War, Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military Industrial Complex“, book launched in January 2011.

Understand the census contracts for Lockheed Martin Corporation IN CONTEXT. (Warning. this is a long document in need of edit. Sorry.) 2010-07-16 CHRONOLOGY: the involvement of the American military in the Canadian census set in the larger CONTEXT of American military intrusion into Canadian affairs.

“Lockheed” under “Categories” also contains a record of growing and successful resistance. Lockheed Martin, like others of their ilk, will eventually fall.

Canadians have a choice: do we want an economy that is dependent upon the waging of war, as is the American economy? If we don’t, then we’d better take action.

– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –


One of Lockheed Martin’s sub-contractors in the StatsCan work is IBM.

The “legal argument” is different from how the law works in the real world. See Lockheed Martin CENSUS: What a riot!.

Oct 2013: LM now has a woman at the helm – Marillyn Hewson, Lockheed’s CEO and president. The other person we have paid attention to is Ron Covais, “President of the Americas for Lockheed Martin”. You’ll find his name in some postings.

Experience of other Canadians:

2.1 With StatsCan and the Census (2006, 2011)

Don’t know what to do about the census (or StatsCan surveys)? What’s happening to other people? some actual questions and answers might be helpful. The overflow is at: 2011-07-13

2.2 With StatsCan Surveys (on-going)

Are StatsCan “surveys” mandatory? (scroll down to the Comments at the bottom)

2.3 With the Privacy Commissioner

StatsCan Surveys, Complaint to the Privacy Commissioner (scroll down to the Comments at the bottom)

3. Common Misconception: “But Lockheed Martin will never have access to the actual data base … ??” See 2011-05-28 Census: Elizabeth asks What is Lockheed Martin’s actual role?

UPDATE: I need to insert a link to the leaks by Edward Snowden. They will remove any doubt anyone might have. (“Search” my blog for “Snowden”.)

4. Common Misconception: “The information is all aggregate. Individuals cannot be identified…??”. Not true. The data base on citizens at Statistics Canada has individual names as of the 2006 Census, according to the testimony of StatsCan (Anil Arora who headed the Census operation) at my trial. Also for example, one of the questions is “What is the name of your employer?”.

5. Officials responsible, Government of Canada, for census contracts with Lockheed Martin Corporation (American military).

6. DETAILED INFORMATION (articles that support the summarized statements): go to the right-hand sidebar, to “Categories”. Find “Peace or Violence”. Click on “Lockheed Martin . . . “.


Canadian Census:

Don Rogers’ Count Me Out blog:

UK Census (also Lockheed Martin)

Count Me Out, UK Census (This gives concern.)

Click on . Then “search” on ” UK Census Lockheed “. You’ll find lots of videos, generated by Lockheed’s involvement, with words like:

Don’t comply, here’s why
Don’t fill it in
Census burning

Irish Census

American Census

There’s information on my blog included in the articles under Categories / Peace or War / Lockheed Martin (righthand sidebar).

Americans are much more in the dark about Lockheed Martin’s involvement in their Census Bureau.

Understandable, given my experience with the NY Times reporting of the resistance in Canada. They clearly and deliberately edited out the name “Lockheed Martin” (I was interviewed and supplied the information to the Reporter.)

“a small number of people refused to fill out (the Canadian) census forms. But they were protesting the use of an American technology contractor.”

Arresting Cancer (Activists): How the TTP Can Kill You

From Cancer Patient to Medicines Activist

by Fran Quigley - CounterPunch 

May 10, 2016  

It is Hannah Lyon’s first-ever experience with public speaking, but she clears her throat, clutches her notes, and plunges in. “Hello. My name is Hannah, and while I might not look like it, I am a cancer patient.”

Lyon’s audience was gathered in front of her on a Washington, DC sidewalk to commemorate World Cancer Day. She explains to them that she was just 26 years old when she was diagnosed with advanced cervical cancer.

The arrest of Hannah Lyon and
Zahara Heckscher.

Her first set of doctors saw Lyon’s best-case scenario as chemotherapy and radiation that would only extend her life for a few years. Desperate for a more promising approach, Lyon found a clinical trial at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). There, she received cutting-edge immunotherapy, where her immune cells were genetically modified and reinserted into her bloodstream. Since the treatment, Lyon’s tumors have shrunk more than 80%.

But, Lyon points out to the crowd, most cancer patients are not this lucky. New cancer treatments average a whopping $10,000 per month. Many patients can’t afford that, even though it is likely their taxpayer dollars paid to develop the medicines.

“In fact, much of cancer research happens in publicly funded research hospitals and universities,” Lyon explains.
“But the publicly funded research often turns into privately held patents on these new therapies.”

Lyon’s speech is part of an event co-sponsored by the advocacy group Public Citizen calling for the rejection of national laws and international trade agreements that protect medicine monopolies that allow pharmaceutical corporations to charge these exorbitant costs. The primary target today is the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP), a sweeping trade deal that includes a dozen Pacific Rim countries that together encompass nearly 40% of the world’s gross domestic product. As Lyon says to the crowd, the TPP “benefits the rich and leaves the middle class and the poor in the dust.”

She finishes her speech to enthusiastic applause, and she smiles. Sharing her story in public was a big step for her. For most of us, that would be plenty of excitement for one day. But Hannah Lyon was just getting started.

As soon as she finishes her speech, Lyon finds in the crowd Zahara Heckscher, herself a breast cancer patient. Together, they walk across the street, find a quiet spot, and pull on suit jackets. Now, looking sufficiently business casual to not attract the notice of security guards, they re-cross the street and enter the building behind the demonstration. Turns out it houses the offices of the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers Association, known as PhRMA, the powerful coalition of pharmaceutical corporations that hires more than 11,000 registered lobbyists and spends hundreds of millions of dollars a year protecting medicine monopolies. Lyon and Heckscher are about to make a scene.

Once inside the building lobby, they peel off their business jackets to reveal matching black t-shirts with white lettering that say, “I am a cancer patient. No TPP death sentence.” Lyon and Heckscher block the building entrance. “We will not leave until PhRMA stops pushing extreme monopolies through the Trans-Pacific Partnership,” they say.

Outside, the demonstrators can see Lyon and Heckscher lock arms, so the crowd ups the volume on its chants. “Shame on PhRMA!” “TPP no!” By now, someone is filming, so Lyon and Heckscher look to the camera. “We have a message for Congress on World Cancer Day. Listen to the cancer patients who will suffer if the TPP is approved.” Soon, they are arrested and charged with unlawful entry.

When growing up in Galesburg, Illinois, and even as a healthy bike-riding, organic food-eating woman in her mid-20’s in Oakland, California, Lyon never envisioned herself in a scene like this. But then cancer happened, and she saw fellow patients struggling to pay for the medicines that were their only hope for survival. Lyon learned that others had not been able to pay, and simply died from highly treatable cancers. Lyon heard the PhRMA argument that high monopoly prices are necessary to fund drug research.

But then, during her own treatment at the federally-funded NIH, Lyon noticed something. “When I had my cell infusion, there were pharmaceutical reps in the room, because they want to take that treatment and offer it commercially. So this whole argument that pharma corporations need long monopoly periods to pay for the research; well, they are not even the ones doing the research! They did not develop that drug. They are just going to take that drug and charge people tons of money.”

Lyon began reading about medicine patents and the international trade agreements that protect them. She read that one of the most controversial pieces of the TPP is a guarantee of extended monopolies on the very biologics drugs she benefitted from, and offer the most promising future in cancer treatments. She read how Medicaid, Medicare, and VA programs were reeling from the cost of monopoly medicines, but that patient and taxpayer push-back was growing so strong that all the major presidential candidates oppose TPP and support Medicare regulation of drug prices.

Lyon also read about passionate push-back against TPP in low-income countries like Mexico, Vietnam, and Peru. There, monopoly mark-ups do not just mean strained budgets. “In those countries, extended monopolies on cancer drugs means people are just not going to be able to access them,” Lyon says. “So many people are doing to die.” Médecins Sans Frontières/Doctors Without Borders says the TPP promises to be the worst trade agreement in history.

Then Lyon happened to see a television interview with Heckscher, who had been arrested protesting at the TPP negotiations in Atlanta in October of 2015. Heckscher was using her status as a cancer patient to raise awareness of the dysfunctional medicines system. “That is amazing,” Lyon thought. Then she thought some more. “I could do that.”

Now, Lyon is hopeful about her health, and also hopeful about rising awareness of the dangers of protecting medicine monopolies. She thinks the climate change movement, along with progressive efforts like the Fight for 15 and the Bernie Sanders presidential campaign, suggest that her generation is not accepting corporate control over the government and the economy. And she thinks her fellow cancer patients can help stop the commodification of medicines and turn them back into a public good.

Fourteen million new cancer cases are diagnosed each year, Lyon points out. “And that means cancer affects nearly every one of us, either directly or through a loved one,” she says. Those patients and families now pay for medicines with prices that include as much as a 90% profit margin. Or they don’t pay for them: one of every five U.S. cancer patients go without medicines due to cost.

So Lyon and Heckscher have formed a new organization, Cancer Families for Affordable Medicine,. CancerFAM is devoted first to stopping the TPP, and then to fixing the other pharma-pushed trade deals and laws that elevate profits over patients. Lyon says advocacy has empowered her, and transformed her own cancer story from one of weakness to one of strength. And she thinks others can follow the same path.

At the World Cancer Day demonstration, Lyon had closed up her speech with a plea to lawmakers, a pleas that echoes the mission of her new organization. “My wish is that all affected by cancer can have access to treatments like mine, and move beyond cancer to healthy and fulfilling lives,” she said.

“For this, I ask Congress to save lives and vote down the TPP.”

CancerFAM can be found at . Fran Quigley is a clinical professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where he directs the Health and Human Rights Clinic. His writing about access to medicines can be found at and @rx4thepeople

Fran Quigley is a professor at Indiana University McKinney School of Law, where he directs the Health and Human Rights Clinic. He is the author of How Human Rights Can Build Haiti (Vanderbilt University Press).
More articles by:Fran Quigley

Monday, May 09, 2016

Devise and Ruin: Understanding Modern State Terrorism

British collusion with sectarian violence: Part one

by Dan Glazebrook - RT

3 Apr, 2016

In the first of a four-part series, Dan Glazebrook and Sukant Chandan look at the recent spate of revelations about the involvement of British security services in facilitating the flow of fighters into Syria.

Over 13 years ago, in March 2003, Britain and the US led an illegal and unprovoked war of aggression against Iraq, a fellow UN member state.

Such a war is deemed to be, in the judgment of the Nuremberg trials that followed World War Two, “not only an international crime” but “the supreme international crime differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole."

The mainstream narrative surrounding this war, and the endless catastrophes it bequeathed to Iraq, is that it was the result of a series of unfortunate ‘intelligence failures’: the British government had been led to believe that Iraq posed what Tony Blair called a “clear and present danger” to international security by intelligence that subsequently turned out to be false.

Blair told us that the Iraqi government had an active nuclear weapons program, had acquired uranium from Niger, had mobile chemical weapons factories that could evade UN weapons inspectors, and had stocks of chemical weapons able to hit British troops in Cyprus within 45 minutes.

All of these claims were false, and all were blamed on ‘intelligence failings’, creating an image of an intelligence service totally incapable of distinguishing between credible information and the deluding ravings of crackpots and fantasists, such as the notorious Curveball, the source of many of the various made-up claims later repeated in such grave and reverent tones by the likes of Tony Blair and Colin Powell.

In fact, we now know that sources such as Curveball had already been written off as delusional, compulsive liars by multiple intelligence agencies long before Blair and co got their hands on their outpourings – and the British government was fully aware of this.

The truth is, there were no intelligence failings over the Iraq war. In fact, the intelligence services had been carrying out their job perfectly: on the one hand, making correct assessments of unreliable information, and on the other, providing the government with everything necessary to facilitate its war of aggression. The Iraq war, then, represented a supreme example not of intelligence failure, but intelligence success.

Fast forward to today, and we are again hearing talk of ‘intelligence failings’ and the supposed incompetence of the security services to explain a debilitating Western-sponsored war in the Middle East: this time in Syria.

Earlier this year, British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond admitted that 800 British citizens had gone to join the anti-government terrorist movement in Syria, with at least 50 known to have been killed fighting for Al-Qaeda or Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL). The British security and intelligence community, we are to believe, were simply unable to stop them.

Opportunist political opponents blame such shocking statistics on incompetence, while the government and its supporters increasingly weave them into an argument for greater powers and resources for the security services. Both are wrong; and a closer look at some of these so-called ‘intelligence failings’ makes this very clear.

In December 2013, it emerged that MI5 had tried to recruit Michael Adebolajo, one of the killers of Fusilier Lee Rigby, just a few weeks before Rigby’s murder. Adebalajo had been on the radar of both MI5 and MI6 for over 10 years. He had been under surveillance in no less than five separate MI5 investigations, including one set up specifically to watch him. He was known to have been in contact with the senior leadership of Al-Qaeda in the Arab Peninsula, based in Yemen, and he had been arrested in Kenya on a speedboat on the way to Somalia with five other youths, where he was suspected of hoping to join Al Shabaab.

The Kenyans were furious when they handed him over to the Brits only for him to be turned loose, presumably to continue with his recruitment activities.

The following month, 17-year-old Aseel Muthana left his family home in Cardiff to join rebel fighters in Syria. His brother Nasser had left three months earlier, and his family were worried that Aseel would try to join him. So they confiscated his passport, and informed the police of their concerns. The police kept the family under close scrutiny. They even arrived at his house at 5pm the day he left for Syria, to be told he hadn’t been seen since the night before. He boarded a flight at 8.35pm that night, using alternative travel documents issued by the Foreign Office. His family were horrified that he had been allowed to travel, without a passport, despite all their warnings.

A similar case occurred in June 2015, when three sisters from Bradford traveled to Syria – it is thought to join IS – taking their nine young children with them. Again, the family had been under intense scrutiny from the police ever since their brother went to join IS in Syria earlier that year. And far from being unaware of the risk of their being recruited, counter-terrorist police were, it appears, deeply complicit in their recruitment.

A letter from the family’s lawyers said they were “alarmed” by the police allegedly having been actively promoting and encouraging contact with the brother believed to be fighting in Syria: “It would appear that there has been a reckless disregard as to the consequences of any such contact [with] the families of those whom we represent,” the lawyers said, and continued: “Plainly, by the NECTU [North East Counter Terrorism Unit] allowing this contact they have been complicit in the grooming and radicalizing of the women.”

October 2014 saw the trial of Moazzam Begg, for various terrorism-related offences. Begg had admitted to training British recruits in Syria - but in his defense, he made the incendiary claim that MI5 had explicitly given him the green light for his frequent visits in a meeting they had arranged with him. MI5 admitted it was true, and the trial collapsed.

MI6 and ‘overseas terrorism’: A special relationship (Op-Edge by Dan Glazebrook)— RT (@RT_com) January 16, 2016

Six months later, BBC Radio 4 broadcast an interview with Aimen Dean, a founding member of Al-Qaeda who was subsequently recruited by MI6 as a spy. Part of his work for MI6, he said, involved encouraging young impressionable Muslims to go and join the ranks of Al-Qaeda.

Then in June 2015, Abu Muntasir, known as the godfather of British jihadists, thought to have recruited “thousands” of British Muslims to fight in Afghanistan, Kashmir, Burma, Bosnia and Chechnya, gave an interview to the Guardian, repenting his actions. He explained that he came back from fighting in Afghanistan to “create the link and clear the paths. I came back [from war] and opened the door and the trickle turned to a flood. I inspired and recruited, I raised funds and bought weapons, not just a one-off but for 15 to 20 years. Why I have never been arrested I don’t know.”

That same month, a second trial collapsed, for much the same reasons as Begg’s. Bherlin Gildo was arrested in October 2014 on his way from Copenhagen to Manila. He was accused of attending a terrorist training camp and receiving weapons training as well as possessing information likely to be useful to a terrorist. The Guardian reported that the prosecution “collapsed at the Old Bailey after it became clear Britain’s security and intelligence agencies would have been deeply embarrassed had a trial gone ahead.”

In January 2016, it was revealed that Siddhartha Dhar traveled to Syria in September 2014 while on police bail for terrorism offences – the sixth time he had been arrested for terror-related offences, and not long after MI5 had reportedly tried to recruit him. Police had demanded he hand in his passport, but did not follow it up; this was despite the fact that he had revealed - live on BBC morning television no less - that he would “love to live in the Islamic State.” He later posted pictures of himself posing with guns in Raqqa, and is suspected of being the so-called ‘new Jihadi John’, appearing in an IS video executing suspected spies. The original ‘Jihadi John’ – British-Kuwaiti Mohammed Emwazi – had also been well known to the British security services, having – just as Adebolajo and Dhar - apparently been offered a job by MI5.

Is this all just a ‘catalogue of blunders’, more ‘intelligence failings’ on a massive scale?

These cases demonstrate a couple of irrefutable points. Firstly, the claim that the security services would have needed more power and resources to have prevented the absconding is clearly not true.

Since 1995, the Home Office has operated what it calls a ‘Warnings Index’: a list of people ‘of interest’ to any branch of government, who will then be ‘flagged up’ should they attempt to leave the country. Given that every single one of these cases was well known to the authorities, the Home Office had, for whatever reason, decided either not to put them on the Warnings Index, or to ignore their attempts to leave the country when they were duly flagged up. That is, the government decided not to use the powers already at its disposal to prevent those at the most extreme risk of joining the Syrian insurgency from doing so.

Secondly, these cases show that British intelligence and security clearly prioritize recruitment of violent so-called Islamists over disruption of their activities. The question is – what exactly are they recruiting them for?

At his trial, Bherlin Gildo’s lawyers provided detailed evidence that the British government itself had been arming and training the very groups that Gildo was being prosecuted for supporting. Indeed, Britain has been one of the most active and vocal supporters of the anti-government insurgency in Syria since its inception, support which continued undiminished even after the sectarian leadership and direction of the insurgency was privately admitted by Western intelligence agencies in 2012. Even today, with IS clearly the main beneficiaries of the country’s destabilization, and Al-Qaeda increasingly hegemonic over the other anti-government forces, David Cameron continues to openly ally himself with the insurgency.

Is it really such a far-fetched idea that the British state, openly supporting a sectarian war against the Ba’athist government in Syria, might also be willfully facilitating the flow of British fighters to join this war? Britain’s history of collusion with sectarian paramilitaries as a tool of foreign policy certainly suggests this may be so. This history, in Ireland, Afghanistan and the Arab peninsula, and its role in shaping British policy today, will be the subject of the articles to follow.

Dan Glazebrook is a freelance political writer who has written for RT, Counterpunch, Z magazine, the Morning Star, the Guardian, the New Statesman, the Independent and Middle East Eye, amongst others. His first book “Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis” was published by Liberation Media in October 2013. It featured a collection of articles written from 2009 onwards examining the links between economic collapse, the rise of the BRICS, war on Libya and Syria and 'austerity'. He is currently researching a book on US-British use of sectarian death squads against independent states and movements from Northern Ireland and Central America in the 1970s and 80s to the Middle East and Africa today.