Saturday, October 22, 2016

Resistance and the New Feudalism

Book Review: Beyond Banksters - Resisting the New Feudalism

Rafe Mair - Common Sense Canadian

October 19, 2016

Something strange was happening in the world and until a social event in November, 2011, I was having trouble putting my finger on it. That was the night some friends held a roast for me to celebrate my 80th birthday. It was held at the Wise Hall in East Vancouver, a traditional left-wing gathering spot.

I was seen by many of the left as little short of fascist, yet, lately I’d come to the viewed by the right as what my father would have called “parlour pink”. It would be interesting to see who would come.

Well, they jammed the hall. Guests included captains of industry, right-wing the politicians, left-wing politicians, union leaders, First Nations leaders, and countless friends from the environmental movement. It was a lovely evening and at the end, when I had a chance to speak, I observed that there were a lot of folks in the old Wise Hall who not long ago would rather have been caught in a house of ill-fame.

Things had changed; the political sands were shifting. It was puzzling, for the new contest wasn’t left v. right anymore but “them” and “us”, with “them” being the elite and “us” being the rest. A look at “us” in a picket line shows very strange bedfellows, any of whom, not long ago, hurled insults and worse at each other.

The Brexit Syndrome


Former UK Prime Minister David Cameron stumping for 
the failed “Stay” campaign

As I watched this situation mature, it seem to come to a head with the Brexit issue, the UK possibly leaving the UK, voting in June of this year.

I saw it coming and said so. There were lots of issues, but the deep, underlying feeling was that when the UK voted by referendum to join Europe in 1975, the elite assured the “us” folks that it was a Common Market they were getting into, no more.

It turned out very differently and “us” weren’t consulted and were just expected to follow, in that marvellous phrase of the Anglican Book of Common Prayer, “those set in authority over us”. The elite couldn’t understand what had happened. They should have known.

A quick glance around showed that unrest was everywhere yet no one was really writing about it.

That’s changed dramatically as well-known Canadian writer of the left, Joyce Nelson, has written a damned good history of events leading up to what I call the Brexit Syndrome. Her new book, Beyond Banksters: Resisting the New Feudalism, shows that it’s scarcely new in Canada and provides a dramatis personae of the epic Canadian drama unfolding.

A pivotal case

Have you wondered what it is that former Liberal cabinet minister Paul Hellyer, at 93, is doing still raising hell about the Bank of Canada and how it could clean up the National Debt virtually overnight if there were the political will, that hair-brained left loony scheme of bygone days?

Judging by recent converts to this view, it doesn’t seem quite so loony anymore!

And how about COMER and the immense lawsuit the Trudeau government won’t talk about?

Here’s how Joyce Nelson describes it:

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 nearly interest-free money to federal, provincial and (potentially) municipal governments for infrastructure and healthcare spending.

This case, one of federal government coverup and worse, is now looking like a winner. Now that will have financial consequences that neither the Liberals nor Tories care to discuss – and don’t. Of course, out of sight, out of mind has always guided their actions.

This, combined with a tame, authority-loving media have kept us all in the dark – dare I guess you, like me, don’t know much about this story that Paul Hellyer, with the zest and energy of the saint by the same name, evangelizes across the land. That will change dramatically with this book.

Changing governments, not overthrowing them

I am arithmetically challenged and when writing on the most elementary fiscal matters, must have them explained in terms of a kindergarten “number work” class. I confidently tell you that I now understood this shocking tale without difficulty. In fact this is one of Joyce Nelson’s strengths – and she has a lot of them: she can explain complex matters without talking down to you and without sounding like a know-it-all.

An Occupy demonstration on Wall Street by
women of (Paul Stein/Flickr)

Nelson gives an excellent portrayal of where the opposition now is. The violent street demonstrations accompanied by pepper spray and the police batons won’t likely disappear but they’ve been largely replaced by peaceful protests such as occupy Wall Street and several others.

The great question, not yet answered, is how this will materialize in political terms.

Traditionally, the discontented have avoided the political system like the plague. They considered voting being the same as honouring the system, which was the last thing they wanted to do. Stephane Hessel remarked in an interview given in 2012 (a year before he died), “The global protest movement does not resemble the Communist movement, which declared that the world had to be overturned according to its viewpoint.” Instead, he said, “This is not an ideological revolution. It is driven by an authentic desire to get what you need. From this point of view, the present generation is not asking governments to disappear but change the way they deal with people’s needs.”

Clear terms

The change is happening. Joyce Nelson walks us through the process and makes it understandable to people who haven’t thought about it very much, if at all, until now.

This is a most unusual book for political junkies. It makes no attempt to settle scores or slant the historical perspective. I have the impression that Joyce Nelson has looked at the unfolding scene with a bewilderment that suits a keen, inquiring mind rather than that of a judge. Let the judging begin as the case becomes clearer.

But as this old baseball nut can confirm, you can’t tell the players without a scorecard and this one is a dandy.

Rafe Mair, LL.B, LL.D (Hon) a B.C. MLA 1975 to 1981, was Minister of Environment from late 1978 through 1979. In 1981 he left politics for Talk Radio becoming recognized as one of B.C.'s pre-eminent journalists. An avid fly fisherman, he took a special interest in Atlantic salmon farms and private power projects as environmental calamities and became a powerful voice in opposition to them. Rafe is the co-founder of The Common Sense Canadian and writes a regular blog at
More articles by Rafe Mair

Doing the Potomac Lock-Step: Clinton's Danse Macabre

Washington’s New Lock-Step March of Folly

by Robert Parry  - Consortium News

October 22, 2016

Confident in a Hillary Clinton victory, Washington’s foreign policy elite is readying plans for more warfare in Syria and more confrontations with nuclear-armed Russia, an across-the-spectrum “group think” that risks life on the planet

As polls show Hillary Clinton closing in on victory, Official Washington’s neoconservative (and liberal-hawk) foreign policy establishment is rubbing its hands in anticipation of more war and more strife, including a U.S. military escalation in Syria, a take-down of Iran, and a showdown with nuclear-armed Russia.

Former Secretary of State Clinton at Atlantic Council event, 2013. (Photo: Atlantic Council)

What is perhaps most alarming about this new “group think” is that there doesn’t appear to be any significant resistance to the expectation that President Hillary Clinton will unleash these neocon/liberal-hawk forces of intervention that President Barack Obama has somewhat restrained.

Assuming Donald Trump’s defeat – increasingly seen as a foregone conclusion – the Republican leadership would mostly be in sync with Clinton if she adopts a hawkish foreign policy similar to what was pursued by President George W. Bush. Meanwhile, most Democrats would be hesitant to challenge their party’s new president.

The only potential option to constrain the hawkish Clinton would be the emergence of a “peace” wing of the Democratic Party, possibly aligned with Republican anti-interventionists. But that possibility remains problematic especially since those two political elements have major policy disagreements on a wide variety of other topics.

There also isn’t an obvious individual for the peace factions to organize around. Sen. Bernie Sanders, who mildly criticized Clinton’s advocacy of “regime change” operations during the primary campaign, is 75 years old and isn’t particularly known for his stands on foreign policy issues.

If Trump loses, the bombastic real-estate mogul would likely be a spent political force, possibly retreating into the paranoid “alt-right” world of conspiracy theories. Even now, his dovish objection to confronting Russia has been undermined by his tendency to speak carelessly about other national security topics, such as torture, terrorism and nuclear weapons.

One potential leader of a peace movement would be Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii, a 35-year-old military veteran who is one of the few members of Congress to offer an insightful and courageous critique of the dangers from an interventionist foreign policy. But Gabbard would be putting her promising political career at risk if she challenged a sitting Democratic president, especially early in Clinton’s White House term.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii.

Yet, without a modern-day Eugene McCarthy (the anti-Vietnam War Democrat who took on President Lyndon Johnson in 1968) to rally an anti-war movement from inside the Democratic Party, it is hard to imagine how significant political pressure could be put on a President Hillary Clinton. Virtually the entire mainstream U.S. media (and much of the progressive media) are onboard for a U.S. “regime change” operation in Syria and for getting tough with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Not Thought Through

These “group thinks” on Syria and Russia, like previous ones on Iraq and Libya, have not been thought through, but are driven instead by emotional appeals – photos of wounded children in Syria and animosity toward Putin for not wearing a shirt and not bowing to U.S. global supremacy. As with Iraq in 2003 and Libya in 2011, there is little consideration about what might follow a successful “regime change” scenario in Syria or Russia.

In Syria, a “no-fly zone” destroying Syria’s air force and air defenses could pave the way for a victory by Al Qaeda’s recently renamed Nusra Front and/or Al Qaeda’s spinoff, the Islamic State. How letting major terrorist groups control Damascus would be good for either the Syrian people or the United States gets barely mentioned.

The dreamy thinking is that somehow the hard-to-find “moderate” rebels – sometimes called the “unicorns” – would prevail, even though they have existed mostly as cut-outs and conduits so Al Qaeda and its allies can secure advanced U.S. weapons to use for killing Syrian soldiers.

Yet, even more dangerous is the already-launched destabilization campaign against nuclear-armed Russia, a policy that may feel-good because we’re taught to despise Vladimir Putin. But this latest neocon/liberal-hawk “regime change” scheme — even if it somehow were “successful” — is not likely to install in the Kremlin one of the U.S.-favored “liberals” who would allow the resumption of the 1990s-era plundering of Russia’s wealth.

Far more likely, an angry Russian population would go for a much-harder-line nationalist than Putin, someone who might see nuclear weapons as the only way to protect Mother Russia from another raping by the West. It’s not the cold-blooded Putin who should scare Americans, but the hot-headed guy next in line.

But none of these downsides – not even the existential downside of nuclear annihilation – is allowed to be discussed among Official Washington’s foreign policy elites. It’s all about giving Bashar al-Assad the “Gaddafi treatment” in Syria, punishing Iran even if that might cause its leaders to renounce the nuclear-arms agreement, and muscling NATO forces up to Russia’s borders and making the Russian economy scream.

And, behind these policies are some of the most skilled propagandists in the world. They are playing much of the U.S. population – and surely the U.S. media – like a fiddle.

Lock-Step Consensus

The propaganda campaign is driven by a consensus among the major think tanks of Official Washington, where there is near universal support for Hillary Clinton, not because they all particularly like her, but because she has signaled a return to neocon/liberal-hawk strategies. 

Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright speaking 
at an Atlantic Council event.

As Greg Jaffe wrote for the neocon-dominated Washington Post on Friday, “In the rarefied world of the Washington foreign policy establishment, President Obama’s departure from the White House — and the possible return of a more conventional and hawkish Hillary Clinton — is being met with quiet relief.

“The Republicans and Democrats who make up the foreign policy elite are laying the groundwork for a more assertive American foreign policy, via a flurry of reports shaped by officials who are likely to play senior roles in a potential Clinton White House.

“It is not unusual for Washington’s establishment to launch major studies in the final months of an administration to correct the perceived mistakes of a president or influence his successor. But the bipartisan nature of the recent recommendations, coming at a time when the country has never been more polarized, reflects a remarkable consensus among the foreign policy elite.

“This consensus is driven by a broad-based backlash against a president who has repeatedly stressed the dangers of overreach and the need for restraint, especially in the Middle East. … Taken together, the studies and reports call for more-aggressive American action to constrain Iran, rein in the chaos in the Middle East and check Russia in Europe.”

One of the lead organizations revving up these military adventures and also counting on a big boost in military spending under President Clinton-45 is the Atlantic Council, a think tank associated with NATO that has been pushing for a major confrontation with nuclear-armed Russia.

Jaffe quotes former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, who is leading the Atlantic Council’s bipartisan Mideast team as saying about Syria: “The immediate thing is to do something to alleviate the horrors that are being visited on the population. … We do think there needs to be more American action — not ground forces but some additional help in terms of the military aspect.” (This is same “humanitarian” Albright who – in responding to a United Nations report that U.S. economic sanctions on Iraq in the 1990s had killed a half million Iraqi children – coldly said, “we think the price is worth it.”)

One of Albright’s partners on the Atlantic Council’s report, Bush’s last National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley, added that if Assad continues to bomb civilians, the United States should strongly consider “using standoff weapons, like cruise missiles, to neutralize his air force so that he cannot fly.”

The plans call for “safe zones” where Syrian rebels can base themselves behind U.S. military protection, allowing them to strike Syrian government forces but preventing the Syrian government from striking back. Little attention is paid to the fact that the so-called “moderate” rebels have refused to separate themselves from Al Qaeda’s forces who are in command of the rebel movement in east Aleppo and other urban areas.

As journalist/historian Gareth Porter has written: “Information from a wide range of sources, including some of those the United States has been explicitly supporting, makes it clear that every armed anti-Assad organization unit in those provinces [of Idlib and Aleppo] is engaged in a military structure controlled by [Al Qaeda’s] Nusra militants. All of these rebel groups fight alongside the Nusra Front and coordinate their military activities with it. …

“At least since 2014 the Obama administration has armed a number of Syrian rebel groups even though it knew the groups were coordinating closely with the Nusra Front, which was simultaneously getting arms from Turkey and Qatar.”

Ignoring the Masses

It also doesn’t seem to matter to these elites that many American commoners are fed up with these costly and bloody “regime change” schemes. As Hadley told the Post’s Jaffe, “Everyone has kind of given up on the Middle East. We have been at it for 15 years, and a lot of Americans think it is hopeless. … We think it is not.”

Former National Security Advisor Stephen Hadley 
speaking before the Atlantic Council.

But it is not just the Republican neocons and old Democratic hawks who are determined to whip the American people into line behind more war. As Jaffe wrote, “A similar sentiment animates the left-leaning Center for American Progress’s report, which calls for more military action to counter Iranian aggression, more dialogue with the United States’ Arab allies and more support for economic and human rights reform in the region.”

These “liberal hawks” are enthused that now almost the entire foreign policy elite of Official Washington is singing from the same sheet of martial music. There is none of the discord that surrounded Bush’s war in Iraq last decade.

As Brian Katulis, a senior Middle East analyst at the Center for American Progress, said, “The dynamic is totally different from what I saw a decade ago.” He added that the current focus from all sides is on rebuilding a more muscular and more “centrist internationalism.”

In other words, the Iraq War “group think” that enveloped Official Washington before that catastrophe wasn’t total enough. Now, there is almost a totalitarian feel about the way the foreign policy elites, coordinating with the major U.S. news media, are marching the American people toward possibly even worse disasters.

No serious dissent is allowed; no contrarian thoughts expressed; no thinking through where the schemes might end up – unless you want to be marginalized as an Assad “apologist” or a Putin “puppet.” And right now, there doesn’t seem to be any practical way to stop this new march of folly.

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and

Hack Friday: Who Attacked the Internet? Putin of Course!

SOPA False Flag? Alleged ‘Hack’ on Netflix, Twitter, Amazon – US ready to blame Russia

by Shawn Helton  - 21st Century Wire

October 22, 2016

Yesterday, a wave of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks hit some of the top online companies websites including Amazon, Netflix, Twitter and Reddit. One cannot rule out the very real possibility that this a staged-managed event, especially when you consider The New York Times was listed among those affected. If recent US media and political themes are anything to go by, you can expect a cascading chorus of blame directed at Russia.

‘HACK ATTACK?’ – Who was behind the
Black Friday internet outage in America? 
(Photo illustration 21WIRE’s Shawn Helton)

In this age of America’s new and improved trial by media format, you can expect a litany of unfounded accusations, along with the usual anti-Russia hyperbole and waving fingers at Washington’s new go-to scapegoat – Russian president Vladimir Putin.

The likelihood of Russia or any other country being involved in this heavily coordinated DDoS incident falls flat, when you consider that the US media has been floating the ‘blame Russia’ meme for months now, and even more conveniently during this 2016 US presidential election cycle, led by Vice President Joe Biden, and of course, the Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, all blaming the Kremlin for both the DNC Leaks and the Wikileaks email dump.

Indeed, as you look back at NY Times articles since the summer, the stage was being set to implant the idea of an alleged Russian cyber war being waged at the US, principally charging that they would ‘meddle’ with the US presidential elections in 2016 by aiding Donald Trump. Here’s the NY Times building the case for Washington, seemingly without the burden of proof:

“An unusual question is capturing the attention of cyberspecialists, Russia experts and Democratic Party leaders in Philadelphia: Is Vladimir V. Putin trying to meddle in the American presidential election?

Until Friday, that charge, with its eerie suggestion of a Kremlin conspiracy to aid Donald J. Trump, has been only whispered.”

In August, western the case against Russia hit overdrive, when “The New York Times’s Moscow bureau was the target of an attempted cyberattack this month. But so far, there is no evidence that the hackers, believed to be Russian, were successful.”

Flash forward to September here and here, as well as early October in the lead up to President Obama’s decree, the Clinton friendly outlet the NY Times had all but solidified the Russian cyber/hack claims, without definitive proof.

If Russia is going to be the scapegoat for this recent DDoS attack, then consider the following…

Immediately when the cyber attack story broke, the establishment quickly wheeled out their ‘experts’, as CNN’s chief gatekeeper Wolf Blitzer cued-up scripted questions to Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA) advocate, Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn (R, TN), Vice Chair of the Energy and Commerce Committee. Not only is Blackburn is a staunch supporter of more draconian copyright laws (she once claimed that ‘Fair Use’ was the same as theft), she is also a fellow traveller on Washington’s Anti-Russia bandwagon.

In true propagandist fashion, Blitzer wasted no time asking her, “Do you think this be the work of a foreign government?” Blackburn immediately blamed the hack on the fact that the SOPA bill didn’t pass, claiming that SOPA “would have blocked some of the bad actors…,” and went on to blame “cyber bots” (activists) for defeating the bill. From the obvious way that Washington oracle CNN had this story already cued up, it strongly indicates that the Washington was stage-managing this latest ‘cyber crisis.’

WAITING IN THE WINGS: Tennessee’ Republican Representative, 
Marsha Blackburn.

As scapegoats go, blaming Russia is the gift that keeps on giving (and way past this Christmas). Last week, President Obama threw Hillary Clinton a campaign assist by formally accusing Russia of interfering with US elections process through Wikileaks. Suddenly, Washington had declared a Cyber War against Russia. The NY Times wrote:

“Since the Obama administration formally accused Russia about a week ago of trying to interfere in the election, there has been intense speculation about whether President Obama has ordered the National Security Agency to conduct a retaliatory cyberstrike.

Despite all the White House and corporate media hype, no evidence at all has been presented by Washington that proves the Kremlin are hacking and “interfering with the US election process.”

Vice President Joe Biden, also spoke on matters of security and sent a telegraphed “message to Putin” through NBC’s Meet the Press, just one day after Obama’s own ‘Russian’ declaration. Based on these latest developments, it’s easy to see how this could have been an effort prime another back story to blame Russia for these DDoS attacks.

The real question surrounding this apparent DDoS attack, should be directed at America’s National Security Agency (NSA) and its bevy of contractors, many of whom are tasked with global and (illegal) domestic surveillance, through passive data collection and clandestine processing of communications. Surely they would know where this attack was originated (including in-house).

Could this latest incident possibly be to further create a ‘climate of fear’ during this, the most contentious presidential election in 40 years?

Could this also be a government-coordinated cyber drill?

Was this a government orchestrated false flag hack?

It’s no secret that the US government would like to pass a newer more potent version of 2011-2012’s SOPA bill otherwise known as SOPA. In fact, NextGov, reported the following in 2014:

“Nearly three years after a massive online protest derailed the Stop Online Piracy Act, many lawmakers are still nervous about even uttering the name “SOPA” in public.

The bill, which once had broad bipartisan support and was a top priority for the entertainment industry, has become a dirty word. The backlash was a traumatic lesson for members of Congress about the danger of siding against tech companies and Internet activists, who warned the bill could break the Internet.

Now, for the first time since SOPA crashed and burned in early 2012, the House Judiciary Committee is preparing to work on a major update of copyright law. As lawmakers cautiously return to the issue of copyright protection, the SOPA protest looms large in their minds.”

Tech outlet Wired described the incident in the following manner. It’s crucial to note that the internet performance management company Dyn was front and center – weighing in on the situation prior to any US intelligence agency making an official statement. Dyn states:

“This morning’s attack started around 7 am ET and was aimed at Dyn, an Internet infrastructure company headquartered in New Hampshire. That first bout was resolved after about two hours; a second attack began just before noon.”

Dyn reported a third wave of attacks a little after 4 pm ET. In all cases, traffic to Dyn’s Internet directory servers throughout the US—primarily on the East Coast but later on the opposite end of the country as well—was stopped by a flood of malicious requests from tens of millions of IP addresses disrupting the system.

Late in the day, Dyn described the events as a “very sophisticated and complex attack.” Still ongoing, the situation is a definite reminder of the fragility of the web, and the power of the forces that aim to disrupt it.”

Regardless of who was actually behind the widespread internet attack, judging by the rhetoric and the mainstream media talking points – this has to be about the government wanting to usher in new ‘ISP governance’ (making ISP’s bent to government wishes to ‘kick out the bad actors’ off their networks) and rights-violating security protocols. Is it also possible that social media giant Twitter and mega-consumer brands like Amazon have been used as willing guinea pigs, just like Yahoo was recently when their mailable CEO Marissa Mayer handed over the backdoor keys to Yahoo customer email account to the NSA and FBI.

Are the US government determined to gain complete access and have total control over the internet?

The idea isn’t that far-fetched…

Yahoo’s Marissa Mayer: sold out to the NSA.

After Yahoo recently admitted to creating a virtual backdoor for US intelligence agencies to spy on everyday citizen’s email accounts, the government exposed its own Orwellian ambitions:

“Yahoo last year secretly built a custom software program to search all of its customers’ incoming emails for specific information provided by US intelligence officials, according to people familiar with the matter.

The company complied with a classified US government directive, scanning hundreds of millions of Yahoo Mail accounts at the behest of the National Security Agency or FBI, two former employees and a third person apprised of the events said.”

This is a very important issue moving forward, as a dip in consumer confidence could be a crushing blow to any company’s overall brand after complying with new ‘1984’ security measures – all at the behest of the FBI, NSA, CIA and their trusted partners.

Back in March, individual privacy versus global security was at the heart of the case between Apple and the FBI. Here’s a telling passage from that report as it relates to this most recent internet attack:

“…The ongoing encryption saga between Apple and the FBI, we stated that there are no guarantees in the security world, especially if a digital master-key were to be created, as this would potentially make it easier for invaders (either the government, or various hackers) mining for data moving forward into the future.

In a recent Guardian article, some of those involved in the technology and security sector offered their thoughts regarding the government’s continued encroachment on individual privacy:

“Dan Kaminsky, the security expert who made his name with the discovery that one of the most basic parts of the internet, the domain name system, was vulnerable to fraud – disagrees: “Feds want final authority on engineering decisions, and their interests don’t even align with fighting the vast bulk of real-world crime.”

Kaminsky further explained why Apple’s security measures already help law enforcement, “If my iPhone is stolen, my emails stay unread, my photos stay unviewed, and I don’t need to notify anyone that the secrets they entrusted me with are going to show up on the internet tomorrow.”

Continuing, The Guardian interviewed former FBI agent Michael German, currently at judicial think-tank the Brennan Center. The following is a portion of that interview:

“After 9/11, you had this concept of total information awareness. The intelligence community was very enamoured of the idea that all information was available. Much like the NSA, they wanted to see it all, collect it all, and analyse it all.”
Additionally, there are many who believe weaker encryption may pose an even bigger security risk globally.

In many ways, it appears as though federal agencies are seemingly searching for the right crisis to push public opinion in favor of the state when it comes to security.

This is at the core of the perpetual privacy and security battle post 9/11…”

How could it be that such propaganda could happen in the America? Well, it’s worth another look at a Senate hearing discussing the CIA’s tremendous influence on the United States media under the moniker Operation Mockingbird…

READ MORE INTERNET NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Internet Files

Life, Loss and the Struggle Within

The Struggle Within

Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh

October 22, 2016

Dear colleagues; during travels, one gets little sleep and much time to catch-up on emails, read, grade student papers, and even to think and reflect.

Last week in Palestine was very hectic, harvest of olives, teachings, meeting with bureaucrats, research, mentoring students, receiving many international and local delegations plus many local ones including students from 4 schools) and much thus meaning a second night with little sleep.

We also lost a close friend of us and of Palestine: Vincenzo Tradardi of Parma. We will really miss him.

Other setbacks happen daily but we are gratified by the goodness of people around us. Volunteers, staff, students, and dedicated activists for peace and justice. Most are struggling to grow amid the madness.

I really do not like to travel and I already miss Palestine where I feel much more alive than anywhere else on earth. The poem below is written in reflection.

The Struggle Within

Prof. Mazin Qumsiyeh

Facing life’s challenges and insecurity
The heart yearns for serenity

How can we ignore the oppressor’s meanness
And simply understand his weakness

With so much deception
What is to change perception?

We struggle to see the positives
Even as we are flooded with negatives

A child hungers amid flies and vultures
While billionaires invest in ventures

Zionists steal our lands
And profit from our raised hands

Tossing and turning in their dreary night
Their biggest fear is truth coming to light

The corrupt rule in Ramallah
The weak put faith in Allah

Within you feed the good wolf more
If you do not want the bad one to score

Does the struggle within have winners
Or is it only in the case of the sinners?

The righteous are also struggling
Their caring hardly a blessing

In darkness, creating, and sheltering light
Is not a life of ease or of delight

burden hard to carry in sickness or in health
the (good) struggle goes on till the last breath

“joyful participation in the sorrows of world”
Buddhists had it right – participation a key word

From good will and good deeds
We are counseled that joy springs seeds

We are advised to take time
To appreciate the sublime

For us Palestinians, it is harder to reason
After decades of colonization and treason

though words easy to say, we still struggle to understand
and even harder to plan: How we continue to withstand?

How we have resilience
How we create persistence

Perhaps what sustains us is goodness all around
And the beauty of this hallowed ground

Perhaps we see divine in all of us
not just Palestinian baby Jesus

we see it in birds singing early mornings
even bats hunting insects evenings

we see it in poor honest unemployed
in families and children when joyed

we see it in smiles and stretched hands
in the rhythm of seasons in ancient lands

we see it in memories of Karameh victory
and all those who are symbols of bravery

we see it in forgotten graves of massacred
and in the hunger strikes of the incarcerated

we see it in a smile of dabka girls who carry genes
of their ancestral Canaanitic queens

we hear it in the rhythm of tabla and oud *
the call of the athan**, church bells, and even silent sumoud

we smell it aroma of tabboun za’atar ***
taste it apricots, guava, figs, and loz akhdar****

we taste it in zibda baladiya***** with mountain honey
and in herbal medicines curing the worst agony

Countless generations passed in the arms of mother Palestine
babies from Issa to the Ahmed of Madonnas divine

Our clock will end soon and we are no more
As we join all those departed who struggled before

We bequeath to our children beauty and burden
Thoughts pass as the plants leave their seeds in the garden

the secret to life is love and suffer grandfather told us
yet, the dust of billions of forgotten ancestors remind us

as we breathe it and eat it that we mortals must have humility
and that humility added to struggle and love equals serenity

the old country song says: in the end matters only kindness
this old country man says: humility and love can conquer our madness

“Stay human” Vittorio Arrigoni said
In Palestine “Keep the hope alive” was echoed

*tabla and oud: eastern musical instruments corresponding to drum and guitar
**athan: muslim call to prayer
***tabboun za’atar: bread of traditional kiln with thyme
****loz akhdar: green almonds
*****Zibda baladiya: A country butter made from goat milk

HumanRights newsletter

Friday, October 21, 2016

Hack October: Pulling Down the Web

Someone is Literally Trying to Take Down the Internet Right Now

by Carey Wedler  - ANTIMEDIA

October 21, 2016

On Friday morning, a large-scale hack of an internet domain hosting provider took prominent websites including Netflix, Amazon, Reddit, Twitter, and Vox offline. Though many of the websites have since been restored, others remain compromised at the time of this article’s publication, the likely result of a second attack waged later in the morning.

As Mashable reported, Dyn, a New Hampshire-based company that hosts domain name systems, announced Friday morning it had been hacked. “Dyn said at 9:20 a.m. ET that it resolved an attack that began at 7 a.m. ET Friday. But at 11:52 a.m. ET, the company said an attack had resumed.”

The outlet explained just how central Domain Name Servers are to the basic functioning of the internet:

“Domain name systems (DNS) are essentially the GPS of the internet, taking the text URLs you type into a browser and figuring out where those websites’ data is located on the back end. So when you type in a browser, it shows you both the real Mashable and can quickly and easily locate the nearest server that hosts the site’s data.”

In other words, as Gizmodo explained:

“Basically, they act as the Internet’s phone book and facilitate your request to go to a certain webpage and make sure you are taken to the right place.”

Wired noted that in both the 7 am and noon attacks, “traffic to Dyn’s Internet directory servers on the East Coast of the United States was stopped by a flood of malicious requests disrupting the system.”

Gizmodo reported emails from their readers seemed to suggest the second attack affected the West Coast and Europe.

Some outages occurred in Asia but the United States took the brunt of the attack, which has been identified as a DDoS attack — a “distributed denial of service.” As detailed by Wired:

“A DDoS attack overwhelms a DNS server with lookup requests, rendering it incapable of completing any. That’s what makes attacking DNS so effective; rather than targeting individual sites, an attacker can take out the entire Internet for any end user whose DNS requests route through a given server.”

When a server is overwhelmed with malicious requests, as well as by unsuspecting users repeatedly hitting “refresh” on their browser and automatic re-requests, the system becomes even further stressed.

During the first outage, Dyn’s executive vice president, Scott Hilton, attempted to relieve concerns about the takedown. “We have been aggressively mitigating the DDoS attack against our infrastructure,” he said.

For now, it remains unknown where the attack originated. Companies whose websites were hit by the initial attack included Business Insider, CNN, Etsy, the Guardian, I Heart Radio, GrubHub, HBO Now, People, PayPal, Fox News, Urban Dictionary, the Wall Street Journal, Kayak, People,, the New York Times, and many others.

Many of these sites have been restored, but sites like the Guardian, Twitter, Soundcloud, and People, for example, remain down at the time of this article’s publication.

The implications of the attack are myriad. First, of course, is the issue of cyber security and the ability of hackers to break into Dyn’s DNS.

As Steven Morgan, founder of Cybersecurity Ventures, a research firm, explained to Mashable (which, along with Wired, was also taken offline in the attack early Friday morning):

“Hackers have no rules. One of the problems we have is that they move much faster than cyber-defenders. A DDoS attack can be launched in literally seconds, or under an hour if it’s coordinated by a larger group.”

The broader implication, however, may be the growing climate of fear-mongering surrounding hackers and cyber security. Hillary Clinton and the DNC have used Cold War rhetoric to imply Russian hackers are responsible for the ongoing, embarrassing leaks that have emerged this election cycle. These claims are arguably attempts to deflect focus from the actual misdeeds uncovered in the leak.

Further, this week vice president Joe Biden implied the U.S. government might soon wage a cyber attack against Russia, apparently aligning behind claims Russian hackers are attempting to influence the upcoming presidential election.

In truth, the political establishment has long been ramping up rhetoric against hackers, in general. Considering many hackers perform vital functions in the digital age — most notably, exposing government crimes — it is unsurprising the establishment is claiming more control is necessary to protect companies, government infrastructure, and the integrity of the American electoral process.

It’s likely this attack will be used as further evidence such an objective is valid, if not vital.

This article (Someone is Literally Trying to Take Down the Internet Right Now) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to Carey Wedler and Anti-Media Radio airs weeknights at 11 pm Eastern/8 pm Pacific. If you spot a typo, please email the error and name of the article to

Disaster and Its "Relief" - Matthew Strengthens Foreign Domination in Haiti

Risk that another round of disaster aid to Haiti will reinforce U.S. domination 

by Kim Ives - Haiti Liberté

October 11, 2016

The damage created by Hurricane Matthew as it passed over Haiti on October 4 approaches the scale of the earthquake disaster in 2010, according to reports by observers.

The images and accounts of Haiti’s devastation following Hurricane Matthew’s passage on October 4 are gut-wrenching.

Jérémie, Haiti following the passing of 
Hurricane Matthew on Oct 4, 2016 
(photo by UN agency)

The death toll is in the many hundreds and continues to rise. Entire villages in the country's southwest were obliterated. The response of a Haitian government left besieged and without resources by decades of foreign plunder of the country is anemic. The victims’ anguished appeals for help are heart-rending. The United Nations now says there are 1.4 million people in need of assistance, urgent and immediate for half of them. Distressed onlookers around the world want to do something, anything, and fast.

But the greatest danger in the hurricane's aftermath may not come from the destruction of crops and infrastructure, the inevitable spike in cholera cases, or the sudden homelessness of tens of thousands. It may come from the aircraft carriers, foreign troops, food shipments, and hordes of NGO workers which are now descending on Haiti ostensibly to help the storm’s victims.

This supposed aid may end up undermining local food production, sabotaging pending elections, reinforcing the foreign military intervention in the country, and generally subverting Haiti’s recent moves to regain its sovereignty.

We saw this scenario almost seven years ago, following the 7.0 earthquake that leveled the town of Léogâne and the region around the capital city of Port-au-Prince on Jan. 12, 2010. In the days following the earthquake, the United States deployed 22,000 troops to Haiti without the permission of the national government, took over the Port-au-Prince airport, and militarized the humanitarian response.

“Marines armed as if they were going to war,” exclaimed the late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez in early 2010.

“There is not a shortage of guns there, my God. Doctors, medicine, fuel, field hospitals, that is what the United States should send. They are occupying Haiti in an undercover manner."

(That intervention and much else about U.S. meddling in Haiti have been detailed in a joint publishing project begun in 2011 between Wikileaks and Haiti Liberté weekly newspaper, which partnered with The Nation magazine on many English language articles.)

Today, the U.S. has sent the aircraft carrier USS George Washington and an amphibious transport vessel, the Mesa Verde, with 300 Marines on board, as well as 100 Marines with nine helicopters from Honduras.

Richard Morse, who runs Port-au-Prince’s iconic Oloffson Hotel, returned to Haiti on Oct. 9 and tweeted: “Lots of U.S. military on the plane.”

In contrast, the day after the Hurricane Matthew hit, Venezuela flew in 20 tons of humanitarian aid to Haiti – food, water, blankets, sheets, and medicines. It dispatched two more shipments in the following days, including a ship containing 660 tons of material that includes 450 tons of machinery to remove debris and fix roads and bridges and 90 tons of non-perishable foods and medicines, supplies, tents, blankets, and drinking water. It has also dispatched 300 doctors, many of them Cuban-trained. All this despite very difficult economic conditions in Venezuela as well as a relentless political assault by Washington against the Venezuelan government.

In this latest disaster, “Venezuela was the first to help Haiti,” said the Haitian Ambassador to Caracas, Lesly David.

Cuba, meanwhile, has supplemented its revered 1,200-doctor medical mission to Haiti with 38 personnel from the Henry Reeve International Contingent of Physicians Specialized in Disaster Situations and Serious Epidemics, which set up field hospitals in Haiti in 2010 as well. As Washington sends soldiers, Venezuela and Cuba send doctors.

In the longer term, it is likely that Washington will seek to use the post-hurricane crisis to bolster its proxy force, the UN Security Council's MINUSTAH (UN Mission to Stabilize Haiti), which has occupied Haiti in violation of Haitian and international law for 12 years, following the overthrow of Haiti's elected president on Feb. 29, 2004. MINUSTAH was expanded from 7,000 to 11,500 soldiers and police officers after the 2010 earthquake.

MINUSTAH's mandate expires on Oct. 15. In the face of Haitian and international outcry and the withdrawal from the force of several key Latin American nations – Argentina, Uruguay and Chile – UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon recommended on Aug. 31 extending the mandate by only six months, less than the customary one-year renewal. He says a “a strategic assessment of the situation in Haiti” is needed.

However, Ban conditioned this shorter mandate on the hope that “the current electoral calendar will be maintained” so that a “strategic assessment mission would be deployed to Haiti after February 7, 2017,” the date on which a new elected president was to be sworn in.

As a result of Hurricane Matthew, it is now unlikely that an elected president will be inaugurated on that date. Haiti’s Provisional Electoral Council (CEP) has postponed indefinitely the elections which were to take place on Oct. 9, involving a re-do of a first-round presidential vote (that of Oct. 25, 2015 was patently fraudulent) and a second round for several Haitian legislature seats.

The CEP is due to announce on Oct. 12 the new electoral schedule. (Leaks suggest they may propose Oct. 30, 2016.) It may prove impossible to hold the postponed votes in time for a February presidential inauguration because tens of thousands of would-be voters on Haiti’s southern peninsula have surely lost their electoral cards while many polling places – mostly schools – will need repairs or complete rebuilding.

The potential absence of an elected president of Haiti in time for the constitutionally-mandated date would surely be used as an excuse for the extension of MINUSTAH’s mandate, despite Haitians being almost unanimously opposed to the troops’ presence. The MINUSTAH, now numbering 5,000 soldiers and police officers, is reviled due to its massacres, murders, rapes, and other crimes against Haitians, but mostly because its Nepalese contingent introduced cholera into Haiti in October 2010.

Nearly 10,000 Haitians have died from cholera and more than one million have been infected. The UN has fiercely resisted any culpability for the cholera disaster.

The disease spreads when cholera-infected sewage mixes with drinking and washing water, a situation which arises more easily when there is massive flooding.

As for the relationship between post-hurricane rebuilding and the upcoming elections, the earthquake’s aftermath is instructive. Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and former President Bill Clinton took command of Haiti’s post-earthquake reconstruction through the Interim Haiti Recovery Commission (IHRC), sidelining the Haitian government and Haitian President René Préval. The resentful Préval became something of a figurehead, with the Clintons and their coterie running the show.

The big powers behind MINUSTAH—the U.S., France and Canada—intervened very aggressively following the 2010 earthquake to install a pliant president. As Préval's electoral mandate was finishing, his party’s successor candidate, Jude Célestin, finished the first-round presidential vote in November 2010 in second place. But Washington intervened, led by Secretary of State Clinton, and replaced Célestin with the third place finisher, Michel Martelly, a ribald musical performer of the political extreme-right. He went on to win the March 2011 run-off vote.

Could a similar power-play take place in Haiti’s next Haitian election, especially with the likely election in November of Hillary Clinton as the next U.S. president?

Then there is the question of emergency aid—food, water, shelter and medical aid. There is an obvious need for all of this in the immediate term, such as that sent by Venezuela. However, in the past, Washington has used its food aid to crush and debilitate local Haitian food production. Former CARE employee and Haiti-resident researcher Tim Schwartz documented this at length in his 2010 book Travesty in Haiti: A True Account of Christian Missions, Orphanages, Fraud, Food Aid and Drug Trafficking. He wrote that the role of food aid “was not principally to help people but to promote overseas sales of U.S. agricultural produce. The consequences have been devastating throughout the world.” That aid, he argued, brought ruin to small Haitian farmers.

“Westerners wanting to help shouldn’t assume that there are no resources available to Haitians in country,” writes Haitian Jocelyn McCalla in The Guardian on Oct. 6.
“While charitable goods may provide temporary relief, they can hinder recovery in the long run to the extent that they can have a negative impact on the local economy.”

In 2010, most of the humanitarian disaster aid was funneled through international non-governmental organizations (INGOs) and the result was disastrous. Even the Clintons’ own daughter, Chelsea, was “profoundly disturbed” by what she saw on the ground. She wrote in a declassified email in early 2010 that the “incompetence is mind numbing.” that “Haitians want to help themselves and want the international community to help them help themselves,” and that “there is NO accountability in the UN system or international humanitarian system (including for/ among INGOs).”

The current Haitian government, headed by interim President Jocelerme Privert, is trying to take control of the disaster relief efforts and funds. Following the earthquake, only some one per cent of aid funds went to Haitian authorities. This time, the president' office has reinforced the Permanent National Office for Risk and Disaster Relief (SNGRD) through which all national and international disaster relief should be channeled and coordinated. What will be Washington’s response to this initiative?

The U.S. was angered earlier this year when the Privert government resisted its pressure not to form an independent verification commission to investigate the fraud-plagued Aug. 9 and Oct. 25, 2015 elections. Anger became outrage when Privert’s CEP respected the verification commission’s recommendation to redo the 2015 presidential first-round, and Washington and the European Union said they would withhold all financial support. Commendably, cash-strapped Haiti was undeterred and has managed to fund the elections by itself.

Exact human toll of Matthew is unclear

Haitian government leadership of the relief efforts should begin with its being able to establish the death toll. Different figures are being issued by the Haitian government and foreign media over how many people have died from Hurricane Matthew. As of this writing, international media is saying that more than 900 people perished, while the Haitian government’s Civil Protection Directorate (DPC) gives an official nationwide count of 372 dead, four missing, 246 injured, and 175,509 persons housed in 224 temporary shelters.

Writing on Oct. 8, Haitian journalist Dady Chery has reported, “Once the United States military and journalists began to assess the hurricane’s damage by some counting system of their own invention, the number of Haitian casualties skyrocketed, and there were no longer any reports of how the dead met their fates.

“Indeed, the number of the Haitian dead from Hurricane Matthew has doubled approximately every 12 hours since Tuesday [Oct. 4] morning and is now estimated to be 800.”

The higher “casualty counts should be examined carefully and with great skepticism,” Chery continues. “For one, there no longer appears to be a distinction between the missing and the dead. For example, the children from a collapsed orphanage are presumed to have died, but no evidence of their deaths has been offered.”

“It is in the interest of the occupying powers to pressure Haiti to exaggerate the human and material costs of the hurricane,” Chery concludes.

Washington will likely use this latest Haitian crisis to further its own economic and political agenda and to bully and undercut President Privert, who has shown some temerity and independence since his interim appointment by redoing the 2015 presidential election in the face of fierce opposition from Washington, Ottawa, and Paris. After their experience of the last six years, the Haitian people are justified in being wary of foreigners bearing gifts but whose policies have always undermined Haiti's democracy and sovereignty.

Roger Annis of the Canada Haiti Action Network told the Globe & Mail daily on Oct. 9:

“If people are concerned about the long-term sovereignty and capacity of the country of Haiti to develop its own resources, I would recommend against the large charities, which in my view just perpetuate the conditions of poverty and of political instability that cause the country to be so vulnerable in the first place.”

International aid by whatever agency able to deliver is being welcomed by the victims of Hurricane Matthew and their national government. But the lesson of the 2010 earthquake is that aid and reconstruction must be directed by Haitians and for Haitians. Otherwise, this latest disaster will only aggravate the long disaster of big-power intervention into the country. That, not inevitable storms and seismic events, is the largest obstacle facing Haiti in its struggle for development and sovereignty.

Readers are encouraged to contact local Haitian consulates or embassies to find out how to contribute directly to the Haitian government or its affiliated agencies.

Kim Ives is an editor of Haiti Liberté, Haiti's largest-distribution weekly newspaper. The paper is printed in New York in three languages—Kreyòl, French and English--and distributed across Haiti.
Roger Annis contributed to this article. The above article also appears on Counterpunch.

For background to the long history of foreign interference in Haiti, read: 'Haiti’s humanitarian crisis: Rooted in history of military coups and occupations', by Kim Ives and Roger Annis, May 2011. For an assessment of 2010 earthquake aid five years on, read: 'Haiti's promised rebuilding unrealized as Haitians challenge authoritarian rule, by Roger Annis and Travis Ross, Jan 12, 2015.

The website project 'Haiti Relief and Reconstruction Watch' documents Haiti's difficult experiences following the January 2010 earthquake. CBC Radio One's The Current featured a very informative report on October 12 on the dire situation in the region of Haiti struck by Hurricane Matthew and the challenges of delivering aid in the wake of the failed 2010 earthquake effort; listen here.

October 22nd - Justice for Victims of Police Killings Commemorative Gathering & Vigil

Justice for Victims of Police Killings: Annual Commemorative Gathering & Vigil

by Justice for Victims of Police Killings Coalition

October 21, 2016

The families of people killed by the police, along with their friends and their allies, are organizing the 7th annual commemorative vigil to remember those who have lost their lives at the hands of the police. These families, who face an uphill battle in uncovering the truth and obtaining justice for their loved ones, need our support.


480 Gilford, Laurier metro (St-Joseph exit)
in front of the Fraternité des policiers et policières de Montréal

Organized by the Justice for Victims of Police Killings Coalition comprised of the family, friends and allies of Anas Bennis, Claudio Castagnetta, Ben Matson, Jean-François Nadreau, Quilem Registre, Gladys Tolley, Fredy Villanueva, and Brandon Maurice.

The purpose of the vigil is to: REMEMBER the victims who lost their lives to police violence and abuse; and SUPPORT their families in any way we can.


This year, we denounce the creation of the "independent" police investigation bureau that is made up of 14 out of 18 ex-police employees, and 11 former police officers.

We denounce the fact that nine people have lost their lives following police interventions in Quebec since the Bureau des Enquêtes Indépendantes (Bureau of so-called Independent Investigations, known as BEI) started being operational on June 27, 2016.

We denounce the killing of Bony Jean-Pierre by SPVM earlier this year, along with the killings of Black persons around the country, including the recent death of Abdirahman Abdi, beaten to death by police in Ottawa, and we support the movement for Black lives around the world and in Canada.


This is the English-language newswire for social justice groups in Montreal.

Follow us

Five Years Later And No Regrets for the Destruction of Libya

Still No Shame: Five Year Anniversary of NATO’s Illegal Destruction of Libya

by Patrick Henningsen - 21st Century Wire

October 20, 2016

This week is the five-year anniversary of NATO’s takedown of Libya and the brutal assassination of its leader Muammar Gaddafi. How did it happen, and why?

By now, people should really be awake to one of the most contrived frauds ever presented to the international community. It’s called the Responsibility to Protect, a globalist doctrine commonly known by its cold corporate SMS-friendly acronym ‘R2P.’

The campaign was formally introduced in 2001 in a report presented by the International Commission of Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS), and later rubber stamped at the 2005 World Summit as the geopolitical framework that would head off the great horrors of our time: genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and other ‘crimes against humanity.’ It quickly became the toast of the internationalist champagne socialite circuit, where the great, the good and those who care regularly gather for canapés at book signings and Guardian-sponsored panel discussions, hosted by inviolable organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch.

After the traditional American and European political left’s failure to do anything about the Iraq War in 2003, the liberal intelligentsia were fumbling in limbo. They needed a guiding light, so the timing was perfect for the adoption of R2P. Moreover, it also helped give rise and a facade of credence to a newly emerging pro-war Left.

R2P was also a boon for the neoconservative pro-war Right who also used it to some degree in order to justify Washington and London’s official conspiracy theory of ‘Weapons of Mass Destruction’ in Iraq. At the time, many argued (and still do, like Paul Wolfowitz) that the West had ‘no choice’ but to intervene to save the people of Iraq and the world from “a brutal dictator who is using WMD’s against his own people.” In the end, the WMD lie alone was enough to launch the largest ever US military deployment since Vietnam, invading and occupying the nation of Iraq.

‘Protecting the People of Libya’

Libya was an opportunity for the West to fine-tune its R2P slight of hand. This geopolitical project was spear-headed by the new liberal ‘humanitarian interventionists,’ led by America’s Barack Obama, France’s Nicholas Sarkozy and the UK’s David Cameron. They began their plan of attack against Libya in 2010, but under cover of the NATO flag. To get the ball rolling, western politicians and the media tried to frame political dissent in Libya as part of the wider ‘Arab Spring’ movement, while simultaneously supporting armed opposition groups on the ground. The trigger came in the form of this exaggerated western media claim: “Gaddafi is using his Air Force to attack peaceful democracy protesters on the streets of Benghazi and Tripoli.” Through this, UN Resolution 1973 was passed which called for a ‘No Fly Zone’. This quickly became a NATO ‘bombing zone.’

More lies followed for good measure. US envoy Susan Rice circulated another sensational lie – that the Libyan leader Gaddafi was providing Viagra pills to his troops so they would go out and commit a ‘mass rape’ of Libyan citizens. How anyone could swallow a story like that in amazing in itself. One has to either question the sheer stupidity, or the sheer deviousness of Rice. Either way, the answer is a depressing one. A UN diplomat revealed at the time, “I was in the room when she [Susan Rice] mentioned Viagra. The remark did not cause a stir at the time. It was during a discussion about whether there was moral equivalence between the Gaddafi forces and the rebels. She listed human rights abuses by Gaddafi’s forces, including snipers shooting children in the street and the Viagra story.”

Long before the country fell, the US had already assembled its hand-picked puppet government which it named the National Transitional Council. As many predicted (outside of the Washington bubble), it was an utter failure.

THE KISS OF DEATH: Prior to 2010, Obama played 
his part in softening up Libya in preparation for the fatal strike.

Looking back, it’s obvious now that Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice all worked in concert to pervert R2P in order to achieve a geopolitical and international corporatist agenda. Five years later, Libya remains a failed state. The gaping power vacuum created by Barack Obama and his NATO support band created a brand new beachhead for ISIS. Naturally, the US has begun officially bombing the country again, presumably to drive out the terrorists, but it seems more likely that the neoliberal architects of Libya’s destruction now prefer long-running, “low intensity operations” rather than the shock, awe and occupation method employed by the previous organized crime syndicate in Washington.

While the liberal establishment constant blow on their R2P dog whistle in the vain hope that other political animals can actually hear it, the Obama Administration has never really bothered to present any tangible legal basis for its undeclared wars of aggression. Trevor Timm, executive director of the Freedom of the Press Foundation, puts it eloquently, explaining:

“Like usual in the Obama administration’s wars, there was no congressional vote on the latest airstrikes in Libya and no declaration of war, as required by the constitution. The administration is pinning the legal authority for this military incursion on the 2001 Authorization for Military Force that was meant for Afghanistan and the perpetrators of 9/11, al-Qaida.”

During a FOX News interview in April 2016, Obama made a rare admission of that Libya was the “worst mistake” of his tenure, “probably failing to plan for the day after what I think was the right thing to do in intervening in Libya.”

Demonstrating their height hypocrisy, both Obama and Clinton claim to be advocates of gun control in America, but neither have any problem with flooding Middle Eastern countries with lethal heavy weaponry and arms – if it helps to overthrow governments and nations they deem ‘unfavorable.’ This has been proven to be case – both in Libya, and in Syria too. In order to cover-up its gun-running and avoid another election scandal for Clinton, a motion was filed by the DOJ – to drop all charges against Marc Turi, the arms dealer who brokered some of Washington’s illegal arms deals , according to federal court records obtained by Politico:

“The deal averts a trial that threatened to cast additional scrutiny on Hillary Clinton’s private emails as Secretary of State, and to expose reported Central Intelligence Agency attempts to arm rebels fighting Libyan leader Moammar Qadhafi.” 

CRASS VICTORY LAP: “We came, we saw, he died!”

Then came Syria – and we are seeing a much bigger version of the exact same recycled scam, promoted by the exact same people, including former Secretary of State and Democratic Party presidential candidate Hillary Clinton who, after hearing of Gaddafi’s 2011 assassination by extremist mobs in the town of Sitre, jubilantly responded, “We came, we saw, he died!

What should be crystal clear by now, is that far from being a workable international doctrine for peace, prosperity and ‘Smart Power,’ the Responsibility to Protect has been used and abused by NATO member states, led by the United States, Great Britain and France to perpetrate, among other things – genocide, ethnic cleansing, war crimes, and other ‘crimes against humanity.’ We’ve seen it in Iraq, we’ve seen it in Libya and we’re seeing it again in Syria, and in Yemen too, and in other places worldwide during the last 20 years.

It would be easy to let the liberal interventionists off the hook by saying that R2P is ‘failure.’ The reality is that R2P is a monstrosity… used by the US and its NATO brethren as a geopolitically correct end-run around actual International Law – in order to serve their own ‘national’ or transnational corporate interests.

If one is able to look beyond the grandiose rhetoric, and squarely at the foreign policy remnants of the last two decades, any rational and honest analyst would deem this pseudo doctrine as a cleverly constructed fraud. Far from respecting the international sovereignty of nations, the West have cynically used R2P to violate target nations’ sovereignty.

The following is an excellent retrospective of NATO’s “Post-Gaddafi Libya” debacle, produced by RT (sorry Washington and London, but it’s not propaganda – it’s 100% accurate and true…

Patrick Henningsen is a writer, global affairs analyst and founder of independent news website 21st Century Wire and host of the SUNDAY WIRE weekly radio show broadcast globally on Alternate Current Radio Network (ACR).

READ MORE LIBYA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Libya Files


The Lost Town of Leer: Life an Death in the Worst Place on Earth

The Worst Place on Earth: Death and Life in the Lost Town of Leer

by Nick Turse - TomDispatch

October 20, 2016

 LEER, South Sudan - There it is again. That sickening smell. I’m standing on the threshold of a ghost of a home. Its footprint is all that’s left. In the ruins sits a bulbous little silver teakettle -- metal, softly rounded, charred but otherwise perfect, save for two punctures. Something tore through it and ruined it, just as something tore through this home and ruined it, just as something tore through this town and left it a dusty, wasted ruin.

This, truth be told, is no longer a town, not even a razed one. It’s a killing field, a place where human remains lie unburied, whose residents have long since fled, while its few remaining inhabitants are mostly refugees from similarly ravaged villages.

The world is awash in killing fields, sites of slaughter where armed men have laid waste to the innocent, the defenseless, the unlucky; locales where women and children, old and young men have been suffocated, had their skulls shattered, been left gut-shot and gasping. Or sometimes they’re just the unhallowed grounds where the battered and broken bodies of such unfortunates are dumped without ceremony or prayer or even a moment of solemn reflection. Over the last century, these blood-soaked sites have sprouted across the globe: Cambodia, the Philippines, the Koreas, South Africa, Mexico, Lebanon, Rwanda, Bosnia, Guatemala, Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria -- on and on, year after year, country after country.

Tomgram: Nick Turse, The Perpetual Killing Field

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: As you read Nick Turse’s stunning report on his recent visit to the killing fields of South Sudan today, remember that if you support this site with a donation of $100 or more ($125 if you live outside the U.S.), you can get a signed, personalized copy of Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. It's Turse's dramatic, up-close-and-personal account of the tragedy of the American-“midwifed” newest nation on the planet. Check our donation page for the details. Tom]

Slaughter is all too human. Killing fields or mass burial grounds are in the archeological record from the Neolithic period (6,000 to 7,000 years ago) on. Nonetheless, with the advent of modern weaponry and industrial processes, the killing fields of the world have grown to levels that can stagger the imagination. During World War II, when significant parts of the planet, including many of the globe’s great cities, were effectively reduced to ash, an estimated 60 million people, combatants and civilians alike, died (including six million Jews in the killing fields and ovens of Auschwitz, Belzec, Sobibor, and elsewhere).

America’s wars in our own time have been devastating: perhaps three to four million Koreans, half of them civilians (and 37,000 Americans), as well as possibly a million Chinese troops, died between 1950 and 1953 on a peninsula largely left in rubble. In the Indochina wars of the 1960s and 1970s, the toll was similarly mind-bending. In Vietnam, 3.8 million civilians and combatants are estimated to have perished (along with 58,000 Americans); in Laos, perhaps one million people died; and in Cambodia, the U.S.-led part of that war resulted in an estimated 600,000-800,000 dead, while the rebel Khmer Rouge murdered another two to three million of their fellow countrymen in the autogenocide that followed. In all, we’re talking about perhaps, by the roughest of estimates, 12 million dead in Indochina in those years.

And that’s just to begin to explore some of the numbers from World War II to the present. Nick Turse, who spent years retracing the slaughter that was the Vietnam War for his monumental, award-winning book on war crimes there, Kill Anything That Moves, has more recently turned to a set of killing fields that are anything but history. In the last three years, he’s paid three visits to South Sudan, the newest “country” on the planet, the one the U.S. midwifed into existence, producing a dramatic account of the ongoing internecine struggles there in his recent book Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. It’s a land that has experienced Syrian-level death counts with almost no attention whatsoever from the rest of the world. Recently, he returned to its killing fields and offers a chilling account of a largely forgotten land in which slaughter is the essence of everyday life. Tom 

The Worst Place on Earth: 

Death and Life in the Lost Town of Leer

by Nick Turse

Chances are, you once heard something about the 1994 Rwandan genocide that saw up to one million men, women, and children murdered in just 100 days. You may remember the 1968 massacre of Vietnamese civilians by U.S. troops at My Lai. And maybe you recall the images of Saddam Hussein’s 1988 chemical weapons attack on Kurds in Halabja. For years, Sudan contributed to this terrible tally. You might, for instance, remember the attention paid to the slaughter of civilians in Darfur during the 2000s. The killings there actually never ended, only the public outcry did. In the 1980s and 1990s, there were also massacres farther south in or around towns you’ve probably never heard of like Malakal, Bor, and Leer.

A 2005 peace deal between U.S.-supported rebels in the south of Sudan and the government in the north was supposed to put a stop to such slaughter, but it never quite did. And in some quarters, worse was predicted for the future. “Looking ahead over the next five years, a number of countries in Africa and Asia are at significant risk for a new outbreak of mass killing,” said U.S. Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair in 2010. “Among these countries, a new mass killing or genocide is most likely to occur in Southern Sudan.”

In late 2013 and 2014, Malakal, Bor, Leer, and other towns in the world’s newest nation, South Sudan, were indeed littered with bodies. And the killing in this country -- the result of the third civil war since the 1950s -- has only continued.

In 2014, I traveled to Malakal to learn what I could about the destruction of that town and the civilians who perished there. In 2015, I walked among the mass graves of Bor where, a year earlier, a bulldozer had dug huge trenches for hundreds of bodies, some so badly decomposed or mutilated that it was impossible to identify whether they had been men, women, or children. This spring, I find myself in Leer, another battered enclave, as aid groups struggled to reestablish their presence, as armed men still stalked the night, as human skulls gleamed beneath the blazing midday sun.

The nose-curling odor here told me that somewhere, something was burning. The scent had been in my nostrils all day. Sometimes, it was just a faint, if harsh, note carried on the hot breeze, but when the wind shifted it became an acrid, all-encompassing stench -- not the comforting smell of a cooking fire, but something far more malign. I looked to the sky, searching for a plume of smoke, but there was only the same opaque glare, blinding and ashen. Wiping my eyes, I muttered a quick curse for this place and moved on to the next ruined shell of a home, and the next, and the next. The devastated wattle-and-daub tukuls and wrecked animal pens stretched on as far as I could see.

This is Leer -- or at least what’s left of it.

The ruins of Leer, South Sudan. The town was repeatedly attacked 
by militias allied to the national government during 2015.


The Fire Last Time

If you want to learn more about this town, about what happened to it, Leer isn’t the best place to start. You’d be better served by traveling down the road several miles to Thonyor, another town in southern Unity State where so much of Leer’s population fled. It was there that I found Mary Nyalony, a 31-year-old mother of five who, only days before, had given birth to a son.

Leer was her hometown and life there had never been easy. War arrived shortly after fighting broke out in the capital, Juba, in December 2013, a rupture that most here call “the crisis.” With civil war came men with guns and, in early 2014, Nyalony was forced to run for her life. For three months, she and her family lived in the bush, before eventually returning to Leer. The International Committee of the Red Cross was airdropping food there, she tells me. In her mind, those were the halcyon days. “There was enough to eat,” she explains. “Now, we have nothing.”

The road to nothing, like the road to Thonyor, began for her in the early morning hours of a day in May 2015. Single gunshots and staccato bursts of gunfire began echoing across Leer, followed by screams and panic. This has been the story of South Sudan’s civil war: few pitched battles between armies, many attacks on civilians by armed men. Often, it’s unclear just who is attacking. Civilians hear gunfire and they begin to run. If they’re lucky they get away with their lives, and often little else.

The war here has regularly been portrayed as a contest between the president, Salva Kiir, a member of the country’s largest tribe, the Dinka, and Riek Machar, a member of the second largest ethnic group, the Nuer. Kiir and Machar do indeed have a long history as both allies and enemies and as president and vice president of their new nation. Kiir went on to sack Machar. Months later, the country plunged into civil war. Kiir claimed the violence stemmed from an abortive coup by Machar, but an investigation by an African Union commission found no evidence of that. It did, however, find that “Dinka soldiers, members of Presidential Guard, and other security forces conducted house-to-house searches, killing Nuer soldiers and civilians in and near their homes” and that it was carried out “in furtherance of a State policy.” The civil war that ensued “ended” with an August 2015 peace agreement that saw Machar rejoin the government. But the violence never actually stopped and after a fresh round of killings in the capital in July, he fled the country and has since issued a new call for rebellion.

In truth, though, the war in South Sudan is far more than a battle between two men, two tribes, two armies -- Kiir’s Sudan People’s Liberation Army (SPLA) and Machar’s SPLA-In Opposition (SPLA-IO). It’s a conflict of shifting alliances involving a plethora of armed actors and ad hoc militias led by a corrupt cast of characters fighting wars within wars. The complexities are mind-boggling: longstanding bad blood, grievances, and feuds intertwined with ethnic enmities tangled, in turn, with internecine tribal and clan animosities, all aided and abetted by the power of modern weaponry and the way the ancient cultural practice of cattle-raiding has morphed into paramilitary raiding. Add in a nation in financial free-fall; the accumulation of wealth and power in the hands of a tiny, riven elite; the mass availability of weaponry; and so many actors pursuing so many aims that it’s impossible to keep them all straight.

Whatever the complexities of this war, however, the playbooks of its actors remain remarkably uniform. Men armed with AK-47s fall upon undefended communities. They kill, pillage, loot. Younger women and girls are singled-out for exceptional forms of violence: gang rapes and sexual slavery. Some have been forced into so-called rape camps, where they become the “wives” of soldiers; others are sexually assaulted and killed in especially sadistic ways. Along with women, the soldiers often take cattle -- the traditional rural currency, source of wealth, and means of sustenance in the region.

In Leer and the surrounding villages of Unity State, last year’s government offensive to take back rebel territory followed exactly this pattern, but with a ferocity that was striking even for this war. More than one expert told me that, at least for a time in 2015, Leer and its surroundings were one of the worst places in the entire world.

Little remains of the town of Leer, South Sudan, after repeated raids 
by armed men who burned homes, raped women, and drove the population into exile.


Armed youth from Nuer clans allied to the government offered no mercy. Fighting alongside troops from the SPLA and forces loyal to local officials, they carried out a scorched-earth campaign against other ethnic Nuers from spring 2015 though the late fall. Their pay was whatever they could steal and whomever they could rape.

“People in southern Unity State have suffered through some of the most harrowing violence that Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) has seen in South Sudan -- or in almost any other context where we work,” says Pete Buth, Deputy Director of Operations for the aid group. “Over the course of the last two years, and particularly from May to November of 2015, women, men and children have been indiscriminately targeted with extreme and brutal violence. We’ve received reports and testimonies of rape, killings, abductions of women and children and the wholesale destruction of villages. The levels of violence have been absolutely staggering.”

By late last year, almost 600,000 people like Nyalony had been displaced in Unity State alone.

“They came to raid the cattle. They seemed to be allied to the government,” she tells me. Given all she’s been through, given the newborn she’s gently palpitating, her eyes are surprisingly bright, her voice strong. Her recollections, however, are exceptionally grim. Two younger male relatives of hers were shot but survived. Her father-in-law wasn’t so fortunate. He was killed in the attack, she tells me, his body consumed in the same flames that destroyed his home.

The Fire This Time

On the road from Leer to Thonyor I discovered the source of the harsh odor that had been assaulting my senses all day. A large agricultural fire was raging along the winding dirt road between the two towns, the former now in the hands of Kiir’s SPLA, the latter still controlled by Machar’s rebels. A plume of smoke poured skyward from orange flames that leapt maybe 15 feet high as they consumed palm trees, brush, and swampland.

I watched the same inferno on my way back to Leer, thinking about the charred corpse of Nyalony’s father-in-law, about all the others who never made it out of homes that were now nothing but ankle-high rectangles of mud and wood or piles of shattered concrete. On another day, in Leer’s triple digit heat, I walk through some of the charred remains with a young woman from the area. Tall, with close-cropped hair and a relaxed, easy demeanor, she guides me through the ruins. “This one was a very good building,” she says of one of the largest piles of rubble, a home whose exterior walls were a striking and atypical mint green. “They killed the father at this house. He had two wives. One wife had, maybe, six babies.” (I find out later that when she says “babies” she means children.) Pointing to the wrecked shell next to it, what’s left of a more traditional decorated mud wall, she says, “The other wife had five babies.”

We thread our way through the ravaged tukuls, past support beams for thatched roofs that easily went up in flames. In her honeyed voice, my guide narrates the contents of the wreckage. “It’s a bed,” she explains of a scorched metal frame. “Now, it’s no bed,” she adds with a laugh.

She points out another tukul, its mud walls mostly still standing, though its roof is gone and the interior walls scorched. “I know the man who lived here,” she tells me. His large family is gone now. She doesn’t know where. “Maybe Juba. Maybe wherever.”

“They were shooting. They destroyed the house. If the people were inside the house, they shoot them. Then they burn it,” she says. Pointing toward another heavy metal bed frame, she explains the obvious just in case I don’t understand why the ruins are awash in these orphaned pieces of furniture. “If they’re shooting, you don’t care about beds. You run.” She pauses and I watch as her face slackens and her demeanor goes dark. “You might even leave a baby. You don’t want to, but there’s shooting. They’ll shoot you. You’re afraid and you run away.” Then she falls silent.

The Survivors

“What civilians experienced in Leer County was terrible. When the population was forced to flee from their homes, they had to flee with nothing into these swamps in the middle of the night,” says Jonathan Loeb, a human rights investigator who served as a consultant with Amnesty International’s crisis response team in Leer. “And so you had these nightmarish scenarios where parents are abandoning their children, husbands are abandoning their wives, babies are drowning in swamps in the middle of the night. And this is happening repeatedly."

Nataba, whom I meet in Leer, faces away from me, her legs folded beneath her on the concrete porch. She carefully removes the straps of her dark blue dress from her left shoulder and then her right, letting it fall from the top half of her body so that she can work unimpeded. “I came to Leer some weeks ago. There was lots of shooting in Juong,” she says of her home village. From there she fled with her children to Mayendit, then on to Leer, to this very compound, once evidently a church or religious center. Nataba leans forward, using a rock to grind maize into meal. I watch her back muscles shudder and ripple as she folds her body toward the ground like a supplicant, then pulls back, repeating the motion endlessly. Though hard at work, her voice betrays no hint of exertion. She just faces forward, nude to the waist, her voice clear and matter-of-fact. Five people from her village, including her 15-year-old daughter, she tells me, were shot and killed by armed men from nearby Koch County. “A lot of women were raped,” she adds.

Deborah sits close by with Nataba’s four surviving children draped all over her. I mistake her for a grandmother to the brood, but she’s no relation. She was driven out of Dok village last December, also by militia from Koch who -- by her count -- killed eight men and two women. She fled into the forest where she had neither food nor protection from the elements. At least here in Leer she’s sharing what meager provisions Nataba has, hoping that aid organizations will soon begin bringing in rations.

Her face is a sun-weathered web of lines etched by adversity, hardship, and want. Her wiry frame is all muscle and bone. In the West, you’d have to live at the gym and be 30 years younger to have arms as defined as hers. She hopes for peace, she tells me, and mentions that she’s a Catholic. “There’s nothing here to eat” is, however, the line that she keeps repeating. As I get up to leave, she grasps my hand. “Shukran. Thank you,” I tell her, not for the first time, and at that she melts to the ground, kneeling at my feet. Taken aback, I freeze, then watch -- and feel -- as she takes her thumb and makes a sign of the cross on the toe of each of my shoes. “God bless you,” she says.

It’s still early morning, but when I meet Theresa Nyayang Machok she already looks exhausted. It could be that this widow is responsible for 10 children, six girls and four boys; or that she has no other family here; or that her home in the village of Loam was destroyed; or that, as she says, “there’s no work, there’s no food”; or all of it combined. She turns away from time to time to try to persuade several of her children to stop tormenting a tiny puppy with an open wound on one ear.

The youngest child, a boy with a distended belly, won’t leave the puppy alone and breaks into a wail when it snaps at him. To quiet the toddler, an older brother hands him a torn foil package of Plumpy’Sup, a peanut-based nutrition supplement given out by international aid agencies. The toddler licks up the last daubs of the high-protein, high-fat paste.

Men from Koch attacked her village late last year, Machok tells me, taking all the cattle and killing six civilians. When they came to her home, they demanded money that she didn’t have. She gave them clothes instead, then ran with her children in tow. Stranded here in Leer on the outskirts of the government camp, she brews up alcohol when she can get the ingredients and sells it to SPLA soldiers. If peace comes, she wants to go home. Until then, she’ll be here. “There’s nobody in my village. It’s empty,” she explains.

Sarah, a withered woman, lives in Giel, a devastated little hamlet on Leer’s outskirts. To call her home a “wattle hovel” would be generous, since it looks like it might collapse on her family at any moment. “There was fighting here,” she says. “Whenever there’s fighting we run to the river.” For months last year, she lived with her children in a nearby waterlogged swamp, hiding in the tall grass, hoping the armed men she refers to as SPLM -- the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement, Kiir’s party -- wouldn’t find them. At least five people in Giel were killed, she says, including her sister’s adult son.

She returned home only to be confronted by more armed men who took most of what little she had left. “They said ‘give us clothes or we’ll shoot you,’” she tells me. Sarah’s children, mostly naked, crowd around. A few wear scraps that are little more than rags. Her own black dress is so threadbare that it leaves little to the imagination. Worse yet are her stores of food. She hid some sorghum, but that’s all gone.

I ask what they're eating. She gets up, walks over to a spot where a battered sheet of metal leans against an empty animal pen, and comes back with two small handfuls of dried water lily bulbs, which she places at my feet. It’s far too little to feed this family. I ask if food is their greatest need. No, she says, gesturing toward her roof -- more gaps than thatch. She needs plastic tarps to provide some protection for her children. “The rainy season,” she says, “is coming.”

Nyanet is an elderly man, though he has no idea just how old. His eyes are cloudy and haunted, his hearing poor, so my interpreter shouts my questions at him. “The soldiers come at night,” he responds. ”They have guns. They take clothes; they take food; they take cows,” he says. All the young men of the village are gone. “They killed them.” The armed men, he tells me, also took girls and young women away.

Not far from Nyanet’s tiny home, I meet Nyango. She’s also unsure of her age. “If the SPLM comes, they take cattle. They kill people,” she explains. She also ran to the river and lived there for months. Like the others in this tumbledown village, her family wears rags. Her children fell ill living in the mud and muck and water for so long, and still haven’t recovered.

“People have been hiding in the bush and swamps, terrified for their lives with little or no access to humanitarian assistance for months at a time. That’s been the status quo for much of the last year,” explains MSF’s Pete Buth. “Now, as people gradually leave from their hiding places, we are seeing the aftermath. Children are suffering from fungal infections on their hands and feet, their skin painful and broken as they leave the swamps and then the dirt and heat dry out the wounds.”

I look down at the nude toddler clinging to Nyango’s leg. The child’s eyes are covered in milky white mucus and flies are lining up to dine on it. I’ve seen plenty of children, eyes crawling with flies -- the ultimate “African” cliché, the sight that launched a thousand funding appeals, but never have I seen so many tiny flies arranged in such an orderly fashion to sup at a child’s eyes. Nyango keeps talking, my interpreter keeps translating, but I’m fixated on this tiny boy. A pathetic mewing sound escapes his lips and Nyango reaches down, pulls him up, and settles him on her hip.

I force my attention back to her as she explains that the men who devastated this place killed six people she knows of. Another woman in Giel suggests that 50 people died in this small village. The truth is that no one may ever know how many men, women, and children from Giel, Leer, and surrounding areas were slaughtered in the endless rounds of fighting since this war began.

Where the Bodies Are Buried

Nobody seems to want to talk about where all the bodies went either. It’s an awkward question to ask and all I get are noncommittal answers or sometimes blank stares. People are much more willing to talk about killing than to comment on corpses. But there is plenty of tangible proof of atrocities in Leer if you’re willing to look.

In the midday heat, I set out toward the edge of town following simple directions that turn out to be anything but. I walk down a dirt path that quickly fades into an open expanse, while two new paths begin on either side. No one said anything about this. Up ahead, a group of boys are clustered near a broken-down structure. I don’t want to attract attention so I take the path on the right, putting the building between them and me.

I’m in Leer with only quasi-approval from the representative of a government that openly threatens reporters with death, in a nation where the term “press freedom” is often a cruel joke, where journalists are arrested, disappeared, tortured, or even killed, and no one is held accountable. As a white American, I’m probably immune to the treatment meted out to South Sudanese reporters, but I’m not eager to test the proposition. At the very least, I can be detained, my reporting cut short.

I try to maintain a low profile, but as a Caucasian in foreign clothes and a ridiculous boonie hat, it’s impossible for me to blend in here. “Khawaja! [White man!],” the boys yell. It’s what children often say on seeing me. I offer up an embarrassed half wave and keep moving. If they follow, I know this expedition’s over. But they stay put.

I’m worried now that I’ve gone too far, that I should have taken the other path. I’m in an open expanse under the relentless midday sun. In the distance, I see a group of women and decide to move toward a nearby stand of trees. Suddenly, I think I see it, the area I’ve been looking for, the area that some around here have taken to calling “the killing field.”

Killing Fields: Then

The world is awash in “killing fields” and I’ve visited my fair share of them. The term originally comes from the terrible autogenocide of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia and was coined by Dith Pran, whose story was chronicled by his New York Times colleague Sydney Schanberg in a magazine article, a book, and finally an Academy-Award-winning film aptly titled The Killing Fields.

“I saw with my eyes that there are many, many killing fields... there’s all the skulls and the bones piled up, some in the wells,” Pran explained after traveling from town to town across Cambodia during his escape to Thailand in 1979. Near Siem Reap, now a popular tourist haunt, Pran visited two sites littered with remains -- each holding around four to five thousand bodies covered with a thin layer of dirt. Fertilized by death, the grass grew far taller and greener where the bodies were buried.

There’s a monument to the killing fields at Choeung Ek, a site of mass graves just outside of Phnom Penh, the country’s capital. Although the Cambodian slaughter ended with the Vietnamese invasion of 1979, when I visited decades later, there were still bones jutting up from the bottom of a pit and shards of a long bone, maybe a femur, embedded in a path I took.

Then there are the skulls. A Buddhist stupa on the site is filled with thousands of them, piled high, attesting to the sheer scale of the slaughter. Millions of Cambodians -- two million, three million, no one knows how many -- died at the hands of the murderous Khmer Rouge. Similarly, no one knows how many South Sudanese have been slaughtered in the current round of fighting, let alone in the civil wars that preceded it. The war between southern rebels and the Sudanese government, which raged from 1955 to 1972, reportedly cost more than 500,000 lives. Reignited in 1983, it churned on for another 20-plus years, leaving around two million dead from violence, starvation, and disease.

A rigorous survey by the U.N.’s Office of the Deputy Humanitarian Coordinator for South Sudan, released earlier this year, estimated that last year in just one area of Unity State -- 24 communities, including Leer -- 7,165 persons were killed in violence and another 829 drowned while fleeing. Add to those nearly 8,000 deaths another 1,243 people “lost” -- generally thought to have been killed but without confirmation -- while fleeing and 890 persons who were abducted, and you have a toll of suffering that exceeds 10,000.

To put the figures in perspective, those 8,000 dead in and around Leer are more than double the number of civilians -- men, women, children -- killed in the war in Afghanistan in 2015, and more than double the number of all civilians killed in the conflict in Yemen last year. Even a low-end estimate -- 50,000 South Sudanese civilian deaths in roughly two years of civil war from December 2013 through December 2015 -- exceeds the numbers of civilians estimated killed in Syria over the same span. Some experts say the number of South Sudanese dead is closer to 300,000.

Killing Fields: Now

Leer’s “killing field” is an expanse of sun-desiccated dirt covered in a carpet of crunchy golden leaves and dried grasses. Even the weeds have been scorched and strangled by the sun, though the area is also dotted with sturdy neem trees casting welcome shade. From the branches above me, bird calls ring out, filling the air with chaotic, incongruous melodies.

Riek Machar was born and bred in Leer. This very spot was his family compound. The big trees once cast shade on tukuls and fences. It was a garden spot. People used to picnic here. But that was a long, long time ago.

Today, a stripped and battered white four-wheel-drive SUV sits in the field. Not so far away, without tires, seats, or a windshield is one of those three-wheeled vehicles known around the world as a Lambretta or a tuck-tuck. And then there’s the clothes. I find a desert camouflage shirt, its pattern typically called “chocolate chip.” A short way off, there’s a rumpled pair of gray pants, beyond it a soiled blue tee-shirt sporting the words “Bird Game” and graphics resembling those of the video game “Angry Birds.”

And then there’s a spinal column.

A human one.

And a pelvis. And a rib cage. A femur and another piece of a spinal column. To my left, a gleaming white skull. I turn slightly and glimpse another one. A few paces on and there’s another. And then another.

Human remains are scattered across this area.

A skull lies in the “killing field” in Leer, South Sudan. This area at the 
edge of town is littered with unburied human remains.


Leer is, in fact, littered with bones. I see them everywhere. Most of the time, they’re the sun-bleached skeletal remains of animals. A few times I stop to scrutinize an orphaned bone lying amid the wreckage. But I’m no expert, so I chalk up those I can’t identify to cattle or goats. But here, in this killing field, there’s no question. The skulls, undoubtedly picked clean by vultures and hyenas, tell the story. Or rather, these white orbs, staring blankly in the midday glare, tell part of it.

There’s a folk tale from South Sudan’s Murle tribe about a young man, tending cattle in a pasture, who comes across a strikingly handsome skull. “Oh my god, but why are you killing such beautiful people?” he asks. The next day he asks again and this time the skull responds. “Oh my dear,” it says, “I died because of lies!” Frightened, he returns to his village and later tells the chief and his soldiers about what happened. None of them believes him. He implores them to witness it firsthand. If you’re lying, the chief asks, what shall we do with you? And the young man promptly replies, “You have to kill me.”

He then leads the soldiers to the skull and poses his question. This time, the skull stays silent. For his lies, the soldiers insist, they must kill him and they do just that. As they are about to return to the village, a voice calls out, “This is what I told you, young man, and now you have also died as I died.” The soldiers agree not to tell the king about the exchange. Returning to the village, they say only that the man had lied and so they killed him as ordered.

In South Sudan, soldiers murder and they get away with it, while skulls tell truths that the living are afraid to utter.

“There Might Be Some Mistakes”

No one knows for certain whose mortal remains litter Leer’s killing field. The best guess: some of the more than 60 men and boys suspected of rebel sympathies who were locked in an unventilated shipping container by government forces last October and left to wither in Leer’s relentless heat. According to a March report by Amnesty International, when the door was opened the next day, only one survivor, a 12-year-old boy, staggered out alive. At least some of the crumpled corpses were dumped on the edge of town in two pits where animals began devouring them. Government forces may eventually have burned some of the bodies to conceal evidence of the crime.

After visiting Leer, I took the findings of the report and my own observations to President Salva Kiir’s press secretary, Ateny Wek Ateny. “They always copy and paste,” he said, implying that human rights organizations often just reproduced each other’s generally erroneous allegations. It was, I respond, an exceptionally rigorous investigation, relying on more than 40 interviews, including 23 eyewitnesses, that left no doubt an atrocity had taken place.

Those witness statements, he assures me, are the fatal flaw of the Amnesty report. South Sudanese can’t be trusted, since they will invariably lie to cast a pall over rival tribes. In the case of Leer, the witnesses offered up a “concocted sequence of events” to disparage Kiir and his government. “Americans and Europeans,” he protests, “don’t understand this.”

It’s impossible, he adds, that the government could be responsible for violence in Leer blamed in part on militias, because, as he put it, “We have no militia. Militias are not part of the government.” What about alleged involvement by uniformed SPLA? Lots of armed men, he claims, wear SPLA uniforms without being part of the army. “It is not a government policy to kill civilians,” he insists, then concedes: “There might be some mistakes.”

No one knows for certain whose remains lie strewn across the “killing field” 
of Leer, South Sudan. Some may belong to men and boys suffocated to 
death in a shipping container in October 2015.


“Bullets Aren’t Enough. We’ll Use Rape”

“They come at any time... They even take children and throw them into the burning homes,” says Sarah Nyanang. Her house in Leer was destroyed last year and, more recently, armed men came in the night and took what little her family had left. “We have no blanket, no mosquito net, no fishing hook, and even now they steal from us.”

Michael lives close by. His neighbors push him forward. His eyes seem to swim with fear. His voice is like wet gravel. The armed men came one night earlier this year and beat him. He shows me a nasty looking wound fast becoming a scar on his scalp, then turns his head to reveal another extending down his jaw line. They took almost all his possessions and something far more precious, his wife. Sarah Nyanang interjects that women abducted here may be raped by as many as 10 men. She saw a neighbor being raped in the midst of an attack. The implication is that this is what happened to Michael’s wife.

She’s still alive, he says, and is living in Thonyor, but he hasn’t seen her since the night she was taken away. He doesn’t tell me why.

When a team from the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights investigated late last year, they found that rape and sexual slavery were one way members of youth militias who carried out attacks alongside the SPLA were paid. Among others, they interviewed a mother of four who encountered a group of soldiers and armed civilians. "The men," the report recounts, "proceeded to strip her naked and five soldiers raped her at the roadside in front of her children." She was then dragged into the bush by two other soldiers who raped her and left her there. When she eventually returned to the roadside, her children, aged between two and seven, were missing.

A woman from a nearby village in Koch County told the investigators that, in October 2015, “after killing her husband, the SPLA soldiers tied her to a tree and forced her to watch as her fifteen year old daughter was raped by at least ten soldiers. The soldiers told her, ‘You are a rebel wife so we can kill you.’” Another mother reported “that she witnessed her 11-year old daughter and the daughter’s 9-year old friend being gang-raped by three soldiers during an attack in Koch in May 2015.”

“The magnitude of the sexual violence was pretty startling even given the extraordinarily high level throughout the conflict in South Sudan,” Jonathan Loeb of Amnesty International’s crisis response team tells me. “Many women were raped repeatedly often by multiple men, many of them were used as sex slaves, and in some cases are still missing.”

According to Edmund Yakani, the executive director of the Community Empowerment for Progress Organization that promotes human rights in South Sudan, “rape has gone beyond a weapon of war.” He tells me that it’s become part of military culture. “Sexual violence has been used as a strategy to wipe out populations from areas where they may have given support to their opponents. I think it’s the first time in the history of Africa that high-level directives have been put forth to use rape as a way to wipe out populations, the first time leaders said ‘bullets aren’t enough, we’ll use rape.’”

Apocalypse Then, Now, Always

In the 1979 film Apocalypse Now, Captain Benjamin Willard is sent on a mission that takes him deep into the heart of darkness, a compound in Cambodia from which a rogue American general is waging a private war. “I was going to the worst place in the world and I didn't even know it yet,” says Willard who finds his own killing field there.

The remains of one of the many victims of violence in Leer, South Sudan. 
The town has been repeatedly razed over the years and civilians have 
been mercilessly attacked. No one has ever been held accountable for the atrocities.


I thought about that line as I flew into Leer, looking down on the marshes and malarial swamps where so many hid from killers and rapists. Multiple people told me that Leer was one of the worst places in the world -- and that’s nothing new.

In 1990, during the Sudanese civil war, Leer was bombed by the northern government's Soviet-made Antonov aircraft. Nobody may know exactly how many died. Eight years later, Nuer militias opposed to Riek Machar raided Leer three times, looting and burning homes, destroying crops, slaughtering and stealing tens of thousands of cattle. “Over the past months thousands of people have fled without food or belongings. They've been forced to hide for days in the surrounding swamps and outlying villages, living in constant fear and surviving on just water lilies and fish. Their own villages have been burned down and their grain stores have been looted,” said a representative of the World Food Program at the time. Leer was completely razed.

In 2003, attacks on civilians by Sudanese forces and allied militia emptied Leer again. In January 2014, during the opening weeks of the current civil war, the SPLA and partner militias attacked Leer and surrounding towns. Civilians were killed, survivors ran for the swamps, and the attackers burned to the ground some 1,556 residential structures according to satellite imagery. And then, of course, came last year’s raids.

Since American soldiers departed Vietnam in the 1970s, there have been no further massacres at My Lai. Nor have there been mass killings near Oradour-sur-Glane, France, where the Nazis slaughtered 642 civilians in June 1944. Both ruined villages have, in fact, been preserved as memorials to the dead. And although Iraq was turned into a charnel house following the 2003 U.S. invasion and neighboring Syria has seen chemical weapons attacks in recent years, there have been no new victims of poison gas in Halabja since Saddam Hussein’s 1988 attack.

Cambodia, too, has seen none of the wholesale bloodletting of the 1970s since the Khmer Rouge was driven from power. And while periodic fears of impending genocide have lurked in the neighborhood, and Rwanda has experienced arbitrary arrests, torture, and killings of government opponents and critics, it has had nothing like a repeat of 1994.

In Leer, however, those killed in the bombing of 1990, in the razing of the town of 1998, in the attacks of 2003, in the sack of the town in 2014, and in the waves of attacks of 2015, have been joined by still others unfortunate enough to call this town home. Those in the area have been trapped by geography and circumstances beyond their control in what can only be called an inter-generational killing field.

The violence of 2015 never actually ended. It’s just continued at a somewhat reduced level. A couple of weeks before I arrived in Leer, an attack by armed men led locals to shelter at the Médecins Sans Frontières compound. On the day I arrived in town, armed youths from the rebel-held territory surrounding Leer carried out a series of attacks on government forces, killing nine.

In July, violence again flared in South Sudan’s capital, Juba. With it came reports of renewed attacks around Leer. In late August, an SPLA-IO spokesman reported a raid by government forces on a town 25 kilometers from Leer that ended with two killed, 15 women raped, and 50 cows stolen. In September, around 700 families from Leer County fled to a U.N. camp due to fighting between the SPLA and the IO. Earlier this October, civilians were killed and families again fled to the swamps around Leer due to gun battles and artillery fire between the two forces.

No one has ever been held accountable for any of this violence, any of the atrocities, any of the deaths. And there’s little reason to believe they ever will -- or even that the violence will end. Unlike My Lai or Oradour-sur-Glane, Leer seems destined to be a perpetually active killing field, a place where bodies pile up, massacre after massacre, generation after generation -- a town trapped in a seemingly endless cycle of violence.

Almost a year after fleeing Leer, Mary Nyalony is still living out in the open on water lilies and in a state of limbo. “I’m worried because the government is still there,” she says of her ravaged hometown. When I ask about the future, she tells me that she fears “the same thing is going to happen again.”

Peace pacts and the optimism they generate come and go, but decades of history suggest that Mary Nyalony will eventually be proved right. Peace deals aren’t the same as peace. Southern Sudan has seen plenty of the former, but little of the latter. “We need peace,” she says more than once. “If there’s no peace, all of this is just going to continue.”

Nick Turse is the managing editor of TomDispatch, a fellow at the Nation Institute, and a contributing writer for the Intercept. His book Tomorrow's Battlefield: U.S. Proxy Wars and Secret Ops in Africa recently received an American Book Award. His latest book is Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead: War and Survival in South Sudan. His website is Reporting for this story was made possible through the generous support of Lannan Foundation.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Nick Turse’s Next Time They’ll Come to Count the Dead, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2016 Nick Turse