Max Keiser clues us in on what it takes to have both guns and butter (and a worthless currency). From Walled-In Pond:
Stock price manipulation through electronic high speed trading; global totalitarian oligarchy; HSBC & JP Morgan manipulation of the silver market; stock market crashes more profitable than growth periods for traders; computers set up to steal; financial terrorism; suicide bankers; Fed policy that benefits the top 1%; growing social unrest; plague of mortgage fraud; IMF leveraged buy-out of Ireland, Greece, etc.; outsourcing of money creation; control through debt. Yes, Virginia, there are very good reasons why people in foreign countries (heretofore thought of as backward in political thought, policies, etc.) that used to be spoken of by us as the "bad" example are now looking at us and pointing out the same. I'm reminded at the beginning of a new year of joy and wonder at the cruelty reigning in my once-loved and respected country that one of the reasons I compile and comment on essays here is to try to increase the information available to people who are confused or don't know the facts and therefore are adding to the bad decisions leading to this cruelty from the ex-best country in the world. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)Please read the whole story here.
January 2, 2011 As an American expat living in the European Union, I’ve started to see America from a different perspective. The European Union has a larger economy and more people than America does. Though it spends less - right around 9 percent of GNP on medical, whereas we in the U.S. spend close to between 15 to 16 percent of GNP on medical - the EU pretty much insures 100 percent of its population. The U.S. has 59 million people medically uninsured; 132 million without dental insurance; 60 million without paid sick leave; 40 million on food stamps. Everybody in the European Union has cradle-to-grave access to universal medical and a dental plan by law. The law also requires paid sick leave; paid annual leave; paid maternity leave. When you realize all of that, it becomes easy to understand why many Europeans think America has gone insane.
Der Spiegel has run an interesting feature called "A Superpower in Decline," which attempts to explain to a German audience such odd phenomena as the rise of the Tea Party, without the hedging or attempts at "balance" found in mainstream U.S. media. On the Tea Parties:
Full of Hatred: "The Tea Party, that group of white, older voters who claim that they want their country back, is angry. Fox News host Glenn Beck, a recovering alcoholic who likens Obama to Adolf Hitler, is angry. Beck doesn't quite know what he wants to be - maybe a politician, maybe president, maybe a preacher - and he doesn't know what he wants to do, either, or least he hasn't come up with any specific ideas or plans. But he is full of hatred."
The piece continues with the sobering assessment that America’s actual unemployment rate isn’t really 10 percent, but close to 20 percent when we factor in the number of people who have stopped looking for work. Some social scientists think that making sure large-scale crime or fascism never takes root in Europe again requires a taxpayer investment in a strong social safety net. Can we learn from Europe? Isn't it better to invest in a social safety net than in a large criminal justice system? (In America over 2 million people are incarcerated.)
Jobless Benefits That Never Run Out
Unlike here, in Germany jobless benefits never run out. Not only that - as part of their social safety net, all job seekers continue to be medically insured, as are their families. In the German jobless benefit system, when "jobless benefit 1" runs out, "jobless benefit 2," also known as HartzIV, kicks in. That one never gets cut off. The jobless also have contributions made for their pensions. They receive other types of insurance coverage from the state.
As you can imagine, the estimated 2 million unemployed Americans who almost had no benefits this Christmas seems a particular horror show to Europeans, made worse by the fact that the U.S.government does not provide any medical insurance to American unemployment recipients. Europeans routinely recoil at that in disbelief and disgust.
In another piece the Spiegel magazine steps away from statistics and tells the story of Pam Brown, who personifies what is coming to be known as the Nouveau American poor.
Pam Brown was a former executive assistant on Wall Street, and her shocking decline has become part of the American story: American society is breaking apart. Millions of people have lost their jobs and fallen into poverty. Among them, for the first time, are many middle-class families.
. . . It's important to note that no country in the European Union uses food stamps in order to humiliate its disadvantaged citizens in the grocery checkout line. Even worse is the fact that even the humbling food stamp allotment may not provide enough food for America’s jobless families.
. . . For Pam Brown, last winter was the worst. One day she ran out of food completely and had to go through trash cans. She fell into a deep depression . . . . For many, like Brown, the downfall is a Kafkaesque odyssey, a humiliation hard to comprehend. Help is not in sight: their government and their society have abandoned them. Pam Brown and her children were disturbingly, indeed incomprehensibly, allowed to fall straight to the bottom. The richest country in the world becomes morally bankrupt when someone like Pam Brown and her children have to pick through trash to eat, abandoned with a callous disregard by the American government. People like Brown have found themselves dispossessed due to the robber baron actions of the Wall Street elite.
Why Washington Hates Hugo Chavez January 01, 2010
In late November, Venezuela was hammered by torrential rains and flooding that left 35 people dead and roughly 130,000 homeless. If George Bush had been president, instead of Hugo Chavez, the displaced people would have been shunted off at gunpoint to makeshift prison camps - like the Superdome - as they were following Hurricane Katrina.
But that's not the way Chavez works. The Venezuelan president quickly passed "enabling" laws which gave him special powers to provide emergency aid and housing to flood victims. Chavez then cleared out the presidential palace and turned it into living quarters for 60 people, which is the equivalent of turning the White House into a homeless shelter. The disaster victims are now being fed and taken care of by the state until they can get back on their feet and return to work.
The details of Chavez's efforts have been largely omitted in the US media where he is regularly demonized as a "leftist strongman" or a dictator. The media refuses to acknowledge that Chavez has narrowed the income gap, eliminated illiteracy, provided health care for all Venezuelans, reduced inequality, and raised living standards across he board.
While Bush and Obama were expanding their foreign wars and pushing through tax cuts for the rich, Chavez was busy improving the lives of the poor and needy while fending off the latest wave of US aggression. Washington despises Chavez because he is unwilling to hand over Venezuela's vast resources to corporate elites and bankers. That's why the Bush administration tried to depose Chavez in a failed coup attempt in 2002, and that's why the smooth-talking Obama continues to launch covert attacks on Chavez today.
Washington wants regime change so it can install a puppet who will hand over Venezuela's reserves to big oil while making life hell for working people. Recently released documents from Wikileaks show that the Obama administration has stepped up its meddling in Venezuela's internal affairs. Here's an excerpt from a recent post by attorney and author, Eva Golinger:
"In a secret document authored by current Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Western Hemisphere Affairs, Craig Kelly, and sent by the US Embassy in Santiago in June 2007 to the Secretary of State, CIA and Southern Command of the Pentagon, along with a series of other US embassies in the region, Kelly proposed "six main areas of action for the US government (USG) to limit Chavez's influence" and "reassert US leadership in the region".
mickperry - A clear picture emerges; the State Department orchestrates the skulduggery inside Venezuela, the Pentagon establishes six military bases in neighbouring Columbia, and at home the FBI targets groups that support the dynamic of social progress currently under way in most of South America. Viva Chavez and long live the revolution. . . . Following hurricane Katrina, the Venezuelan government attempted to deliver much needed aid to the people of Louisiana, only to have it rejected by the Bush mafia. Chavez most certainly is not an enemy of the USA, merely of the corporate security complex which currently holds the people of the US hostage, along with much of the rest of the world.. john - you forgot the most important reason they hate him! he paid of the IMF and word bank, then promptly thru them all out of their country!!! you go HUGO!! Kay - President Chavez has for years stepped up with heating oil for the poor of this nation in the eastern part of the country. Where as the peoples government (if i can use that term) continues to take away funds from the winter heating fund. President Chavez shows the true Christ Spirit., much more than these so called Christians in this loser government. Thats because he couldn't be bought off, he refused to sell out his people to the elite. These stabled whores in congress, sold us out a long time ago. Flakstopper - Yes, the spurious hate is turned on him because he got rid of and is still thwarting the Rothschild interests. You have to remember that when he is confronting the oil and industrial and banking interests he is confronting the Rothschilds, whose funds are what instituted and benefit from those industries and banks. And those in our nations who condemn Chavez are equally working for the Rothschilds. Again, until you know of these arch-vermin and their activities, you know nothing about reality. We really have to take them down, together with their appointed parasitic accomplices who hold such key power in all our countries. Danny Cunnington - Hugo also supplies the people with the cheapest oil and gas in the world. There are laws encouraging organic small farming over corporate mono-cropping. couple this with land rights and you have the best model for sustainable low cost food in the world. The diversity of hundred of thousands of small farmers, who use non-hybrid saveable seeds is always the best food security but no profits for eco-vandals from Big Agriculture. The real problem the fascist regime in the US has is the example this sets to other nations. If western media showed how the agricultural program worked and benefitted the small producer then the west would want to do the same as there's already huge demand for quality organic food. In the west, The government subsidises the corporate farmers and makes regulations to wipe out small producers. If they saw whats going on in small farming in Venezuela you can be sure they would call for change to the system. Ask a hundred people from Europe or the US if they would like to live in a system where their interests are secondary to corporate profits or their interests are put first.It's a total no-brainer.
Speaking of what they think in other countries . . . how about what they are thinking of today's financial chicanery in . . . well, how about France? (This is a political Essay by 93-year-old in France)
Resistance hero Stéphane Hessel stuns publishing world with 30-page work that calls on readers to be outraged about society.
By Angelique Chrisafis in Paris
January 01, 2010 "The Guardian"
Proving that age is no boundary to publishing success, the French book world has been taken by storm by a surprise Christmas bestseller: a political call to arms by Stéphane Hessel, 93. The unlikely publishing sensation is a former resistance hero whose 30-page essay, Indignez-vous!, calls on readers to get angry about the state of modern society.
Launched in October by Indigène, a small publisher working out of an attic in Montpellier, southern France, the book had a tiny first print-run, 6,000, and sold for €3, unprecedentedly cheap in a country where book prices are regulated and kept high by the law. Hessel's success has stunned France. After two months on the bestseller lists, the book has spent five weeks at number one, beating Michel Houellebecq's award-winning latest novel La Carte et le Territoire and a host of Christmas fiction. It has sold 600,000 copies and – publishers predict it will reach a million. Translations are underway for Italy and other European markets.
The book's soaring sales reflect a general mood of French exasperation at the social inequalities of Nicolas Sarkozy's presidency. But the phenomenon is mostly down to Hessel's charisma and his life story.
Hessel was born in Berlin in 1917 and emigrated to France aged seven. His free-spirited mother, Helen Grund-Hessel, inspired the novel Jules et Jim, which became Francois Truffaut's film about a love-triangle of two male friends and a woman who loves them both. During the Nazi occupation of France, Hessel joined the French resistance, was caught, tortured and and deported to Buchenwald and Dora concentration camps where he escaped hanging. After the war, he helped to draft the universal declaration of human rights and later became a diplomat.
Hessel's book argues that French people should re-embrace the values of the French resistance, which have been lost, which was driven by indignation, and French people need to get outraged again. "This is an appeal to citizens, young and old, to take responsibility for the things in our society that don't work," he said. "I wish every one of you to find your own reason for indignation. It's precious." Hessel's reasons for personal outrage include the growing gap between the very rich and the very poor, France's shocking treatment of its illegal immigrants, the need to re-establish a free press, protecting the environment, the plight of Palestinians and the importance of protecting the French welfare system. He calls for peaceful and non-violent insurrection.
Sylvie Crossman, a former Le Monde foreign correspondent who co-founded Hessel's publishers, said the book was like a new, "adapted" version of Charles de Gaulle's rallying resistance appeal from London on 18 June 1940. She said the book had been a success because it gave hope to people from a real fighter who was not just an armchair intellectual. - silentVictim - 2011 is shaping up to be a doozy. Expect more 'quantitative easing' of the 'Mercan currency - the privately issued 'Federal Reserve Note' - which is being diluted in value with every passing day. Expect more false-flag 'terror' attackeroonies orchestrated by the Feds. Car bombs here, machine gun sprays there, possibly, if the Chenster has his way, a low-grade nuke or 'dirty bomb' in a densely populated neighbourhood or two.
Expect an acceleration of the controlled demolition of the 'Mercan ekonomy. Expect more 'Federalisation' of the local police throughout the highways and byways of the Land of the Phree, Home(land) of the Brave. Expect more droogies and goons shoving their hands down yer pants, tickling yer nuts, and telling ya to stick out yer tongue. From one who really knows what resistance is all about, let us indeed take a leaf out of Stéphane Hessel's book, and kick 'em where it hurts. And where the New World Ordurists are most vulnerable, as far as I can see, is still on the issue of 911, their launchpad for the everlastin' war on terror, and their private, monopolistical banksterin' system. Keep shining a light in those directions. Keep demanding a proper investigation of 911. And keep demanding an end to the Federal (sic) Reserve system. And keep asking 'em just why a private banking cartel has got '.GOV' in its web address . . . . . - katefromfrance - Why do I smell insurrection in the air.....? In fact I have the distinct impression "revolution" is being incited, fired up. This is the sort of thing the war masters and their Blackwater X mercenaries know how to handle. Insurrection will be used to institute more radical, oppressive infrastructures while appearing to be the least of all evils. How WikiLeaks Enlightened Us in 2010
December 31, 2010
Joshua Norman WikiLeaks has brought to light a series of disturbing insinuations and startling truths in the last year, some earth-shattering, others simply confirmations of our darkest suspicions about the way the world works. Thanks to founder Julian Assange's legal situation in Sweden (and potentially the United States) as well as his media grandstanding, it is easy to forget how important and interesting some of WikiLeaks' revelations have been.
WikiLeaks revelations from 2010 have included simple gossip about world leaders: Russia's PM Vladimir Putin is playing Batman to President Dmitri Medvedev's Robin; Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is crazy and was once slapped by a Revolutionary Guard chief for being so; Libya's Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has a hankering for his voluptuous blond Ukrainian nurse; and France's President Nicholas Sarkozy simply can't take criticism.
However, WikiLeaks' revelations also have many major implications for world relations. The following is a list of the more impactful WikiLeaks revelations from 2010, grouped by region.
The United States
- The U.S. Army considered WikiLeaks a national security threat as early as 2008, according to documents obtained and posted by WikiLeaks in March, 2010.
- Then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his top commanders repeatedly, knowingly lied to the American public about rising sectarian violence in Iraq beginning in 2006, according to the cross-referencing of WikiLeaks' leaked Iraq war documents and former Washington Post Baghdad Bureau Chief Ellen Knickmeyer's recollections.
And then we have the latest Anti-Empire Report. (Emphasis marks added - Ed.)
-The Secretary of State's office encouraged U.S. diplomats at the United Nations to spy on their counterparts, including collecting data about the U.N. secretary general, his team and foreign diplomats, including credit card account numbers, according to documents from WikiLeaks U.S. diplomatic cable release. Later cables reveal the CIA draws up an annual "wish-list" for the State Department, which one year included the instructions to spy on the U.N.
- The Obama administration worked with Republicans during his first few months in office to protect Bush administration officials facing a criminal investigation overseas for their involvement in establishing policies that some considered torture. A "confidential" April 17, 2009, cable sent from the US embassy in Madrid obtained by WikiLeaks details how the Obama administration, working with Republicans, leaned on Spain to derail this potential prosecution.
- WikiLeaks released a secret State Department cable that provided a list of sites around the world vital to U.S. national security, from mines in Africa to labs in Europe.
- A U.S. Army helicopter allegedly gunned down two journalists in Baghdad in 2007. WikiLeaks posted a 40-minute video on its website in April, showing the attack in gruesome detail, along with an audio recording of the pilots during the attack.
- Iran's military intervened aggressively in support of Shiite combatants in Iraq, offering weapons, training and sanctuary, according to an October, 2010, WikiLeaks release of thousands of secret documents related to the Iraq war.
- According to one tabulation, there have been 100,000 causalities, mostly civilian, in Iraq - greater than the numbers previously made public, many of them killed by American troops but most of them were killed by other Iraqis, according to the WikiLeaks Iraq documents dump. - U.S. authorities failed to investigate hundreds of reports of abuse, torture, rape and even murder by Iraqi police and soldiers whose conduct appears to be systematic and normally unpunished, according to the WikiLeaks Iraq documents dump.
- U.S. special-operations forces have targeted militants without trial in secret assassination missions, and many more Afghan civilians have been killed by accident than previously reported, according to the WikiLeaks Afghanistan war document dump.
- Afghan President Hamid Karzai freed suspected drug dealers because of their political connections, according to a secret diplomatic cable. The cable, which supports the multiple allegations of corruption within the Karzai government, said that despite repeated rebukes from U.S. officials in Kabul, the president and his attorney general authorized the release of detainees. Previous cables accused Karzai's half-brother, Ahmed Wali Karzai, of being a corrupt narcotics trafficker.
- Pakistan's government has allowed members of its spy network to hold strategy sessions on combating American troops with members of the Taliban, while Pakistan has received more than $1 billion a year in aid from Washington to help combat militants, according to a July, 2010, WikiLeaks release of thousands of files on the Afghanistan war.
- A stash of highly enriched uranium capable of providing enough material for multiple "dirty bombs" has been waiting in Pakistan for removal by an American team for more than three years but has been held up by the country's government, according to leaked classified State Department documents.
- Despite sustained denials by US officials spanning more than a year, U.S.military Special Operations Forces have been conducting offensive operations inside Pakistan, helping direct U.S. drone strikes and conducting joint operations with Pakistani forces against Al Qaeda and Taliban forces in north and south Waziristan and elsewhere in the Federally Administered Tribal Areas, according to secret cables released as part of the Wikileaks document dump.
- China was behind the online attack of Google, according to leaked diplomatic cables. The electronic intrusion was "part of a coordinated campaign of computer sabotage carried out by government operatives, private security experts and internet outlaws recruited by the Chinese government."
- Secret State Department cables show a South Korean official quoted as saying that North Korea's collapse is likely to happen "two to three years" after the death of the current dictator, Kim Jong Il. The U.S. is already planning for the day North Korea implodes from its own economic woes. China has "no will" to use its economic leverage to force North Korea to change its policies and the Chinese official who is the lead negotiator with North Korea is "the most incompetent official in China."
- North Korea is secretly helping the military dictatorship in Myanmar build nuclear and missile sites in its jungles, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Although witnesses told the embassy that construction is at an early stage, officials worry Myanmar could one day possess a nuclear bomb.
- Five years ago, the International Committee of the Red Cross told U.S. diplomats in New Delhi that the Indian government "condones torture" and systematically abused detainees in the disputed region of Kashmir. The Red Cross told the officials that hundreds of detainees were subjected to beatings, electrocutions and acts of sexual humiliation, the Guardian newspaper of London reported Thursday evening.
- The British government has been training a Bangladeshi paramilitary force condemned by human rights organisations as a "government death squad", leaked US embassy cables have revealed.
Members of the Rapid Action Battalion (RAB), which has been held responsible for hundreds of extra-judicial killings in recent years and is said to routinely use torture, have received British training in "investigative interviewing techniques" and "rules of engagement".
- Secret U.S. diplomatic cables reveal that BP suffered a blowout after a gas leak in the Caucasus country of Azerbaijan in September 2008, a year and a half before another BP blowout killed 11 workers and started a leak that gushed millions of gallons of oil into the Gulf of Mexico.
- Saudi Arabia's rulers have deep distrust for some fellow Muslim countries, especially Pakistan and Iran, despite public appearances, according to documents from the late November, 2010, WikiLeaks U.S. diplomatic cable dump. King Abdullah called Pakistan's president Asif Ali Zardari "the greatest obstacle" to the country's progress and he also repeatedly urged the United States to attack Iran to destroy its nuclear program to stop Tehran from developing a nuclear weapon.
- Iranian Red Crescent ambulances were used to smuggle weapons to Lebanon's militant Hezbollah group during its 2006 war with Israel, according to the leaked U.S. diplomatic memos.
- In a leaked diplomatic memo, dated two weeks after elections that landed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in office, a senior American diplomat said that during a meeting a few days before "Netanyahu expressed support for the concept of land swaps, and emphasized that he did not want to govern the West Bank and Gaza but rather to stop attacks from being launched from there."
- The United States was secretly given permission from Yemen's president to attack the al Qaeda group in his country that later attempted to blow up planes in American air space. President Ali Abdullah Saleh told John Brennan, President Obama's counterterrorism adviser, in a leaked diplomatic cable from September 2009 that the U.S. had an "open door" on terrorism in Yemen.
- Contrary to public statements, the Obama administration actually helped fuel conflict in Yemen. The U.S. was shipping arms to Saudi Arabia for use in northern Yemen even as it denied any role in the conflict.
- Saudi Arabia is one of the largest origin points for funds supporting international terrorism, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton urged U.S. diplomats to do more to stop the flow of money to Islamist militant groups from donors in Saudi Arabia. The Saudi government, Clinton wrote, was reluctant to cut off money being sent to the Taliban in Afghanistan and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) in Pakistan.
- The U.S. is failing to stop the flow of arms to Middle Eastern militant groups. Hamas and Hezbollah are still receiving weapons from Iran, North Korea, and Syria, secret diplomatic cables allege.
- A storage facility housing Yemen's radioactive material was unsecured for up to a week after its lone guard was removed and its surveillance camera was broken, a secret U.S. State Department cable released by WikiLeaks revealed Monday. "Very little now stands between the bad guys and Yemen's nuclear material," a Yemeni official said on January 9 in the cable.
- Israel destroyed a Syrian nuclear reactor in 2007, constructed with apparent help from North Korea, fearing it was built to make a bomb. In a leaked diplomatic cable obtained by the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth, then-US secretary of state Condoleezza Rice wrote the Israelis targeted and destroyed the Syrian nuclear reactor just weeks before it was to be operational.
- Diplomatic cables recently released by WikiLeaks indicate authorities in the United Arab Emirates debated whether to keep quiet about the high-profile killing of a Hamas operative in Dubai in January. The documents also show the UAE sought U.S. help in tracking down details of credit cards Dubai police believe were used by a foreign hit squad involved in the killing. The spy novel-like slaying, complete with faked passports and assassins in disguise, is widely believed to be the work of Israeli secret agents.
- WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange told Al Jazeera network that some of the unpublished cables show "Top officials in several Arab countries have close links with the CIA, and many officials keep visiting US embassies in their respective countries voluntarily to establish links with this key US intelligence agency. These officials are spies for the U.S. in their countries."
- Of the 500 or so tactical nuclear weapons in the U.S. arsenal, it is known that about 200 are deployed throughout Europe. Leaked diplomatic cables reveal that dozens of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons are in Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
- NATO had secret plans to defend the Baltic states and Poland from an attack by Russia, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. NATO officials had feared "an unnecessary increase in NATO-Russia tensions," and wanted no public discussions of their contingency plans to defend Baltic states from Russian attack.
- The Libyan government promised "enormous repercussions" for the U.K. if the release of Abdel Baset al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, was not handled properly, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. The Libyan government threatened "harsh, immediate" consequences if the man jailed for the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 died in prison in Scotland.
- Pope Benedict impeded an investigation into alleged child sex abuse within the Catholic Church, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. Not only did Pope Benedict refuse to allow Vatican officials to testify in an investigation by an Irish commission into alleged child sex abuse by priests, he was also reportedly furious when Vatican officials were called upon in Rome.
- Sinn Fein leaders Gerry Adams and Martin McGuinness carried out negotiations for the Good Friday agreement with Irish then-prime minister Bertie Ahern while the two had explicit knowledge of a bank robbery that the Irish Republican Army was planning to carry out, according to a WikiLeaks cable. Ahern figured Adams and McGuinness knew about the 26.5 million pound Northern Bank robbery of 2004 because they were members of the "IRA military command."
- Anglo-Dutch oil giant Royal Dutch Shell PLC has infiltrated the highest levels of government in Nigeria. A high-ranking executive for the international Shell oil company once bragged to U.S. diplomats, as reported in a leaked diplomatic cable, that the company's employees had so well infiltrated the Nigerian government that officials had "forgotten" the level of the company's access.
- Mozambique is fast on its way to becoming a narco-state because of close ties between drug smugglers and the southeastern African nation's government, according to U.S. Embassy cables released by WikiLeaks. The cables say cocaine, heroin and other drugs come in from South America and Asia, and are then flown to Europe or sent overland to neighboring South Africa for sale. - Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe-appointed attorney general announced he was investigating Mugabe's chief opposition leader on treason charges based exclusively on the contents of a WikiLeaks' leaked cable. The cable claimed Zimbabwe opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai encouraged Western sanctions against his own country to induce Mugabe into giving up some political power.
- Mexican President Felipe Calderon told a U.S. official last year that Latin America "needs a visible U.S. presence" to counter Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez's growing influence in the region, according to a U.S. State Department cable leaked to WikiLeaks.
- A newly released confidential U.S. diplomatic cable predicts Cuba's economic situation could become "fatal" within two to three years, and details concerns voiced by diplomats from other countries, including China, that the communist-run country has been slow to adopt reforms.
- The Honduran military, Supreme Court and National Congress conspired in 2009 in what constituted an illegal and unconstitutional coup against the Executive Branch, according to a leaked diplomatic cable. However, the constitution itself may be deficient in terms of providing clear procedures for dealing with alleged illegal acts by the President and resolving conflicts between the branches of government.
- Venezuela's deteriorating oil industry and its growing economic problems are taking a toll on President Hugo Chavez's popularity. In one confidential leaked diplomatic cable dated Oct. 15, 2009, the U.S. Embassy said "equipment conditions have deteriorated drastically" since the government expropriated some 80 oil service companies earlier that year. It said safety and maintenance at the now state-owned oil facilities were in a "terrible state."
- China has been reselling Venezuela's cheap oil at a profit, according to a classified U.S. document released by WikiLeaks. President Hugo Chavez was upset that China apparently profited by selling fuel to other countries, fuel that it had sold China at a discount in order to gain favor. The cable also describes falling crude output in Venezuela caused by a host of problems within the national oil company Petroleos de Venezuela SA, or PDVSA.
- Jamaica's counter-drug efforts have been so sluggish that exasperated Cuban officials privately griped about their frustrations to a U.S. drug enforcement official, according to a U.S. diplomatic cable. The communique released by WikiLeaks said Cuban officials painted their Caribbean neighbor to the south as chronically uncooperative in stopping drug smugglers who use Cuban waters and airspace to transport narcotics destined for the U.S.
- A leaked U.S. diplomatic cable published Saturday depicts the leader of Mexico's army "lamenting" its lengthy role in the anti-drug offensive, but expecting it to last between seven and 10 more years. The cable says Mexican Defense Secretary Gen. Guillermo Galvan Galvan mistrusts other Mexican law enforcement agencies and prefers to work separately, because corrupt officials had leaked information in the past.
- McDonald's tried to delay the US government's implementation of a free-trade agreement in order to put pressure on El Salvador to appoint neutral judges in a $24m lawsuit it was fighting in the country. The revelation of the McDonald's strategy to ensure a fair hearing for a long-running legal battle against a former franchisee comes from a leaked US embassy cable dated 15 February 2006.
In 2010, WikiLeaks released only about 2,000 of the approximate 250,000 cables it claims to possess, and the pace of those releases dropped dramatically as the holidays approached. If Assange's promises are to be believed, 2011 will be another important year for learning about the hidden forces that drive our world.
Wikileaks, The United States, Sweden, And Devil's Island January 01, 2010
December 16 ... I'm standing in the snow in front of the White House . . . Standing with Veterans for Peace ... I'm only a veteran of standing in front of the White House; the first time was February 1965, handing out flyers against the war in Vietnam. I was working for the State Department at the time and my biggest fear was that someone from that noble institution would pass by and recognize me.
Five years later I was still protesting Vietnam, although long gone from the State Department. Then came Cambodia. And Laos. Soon, Nicaragua and El Salvador. Then Panama was the new great threat to America, to freedom and democracy and all things holy and decent, so it had to be bombed without mercy. Followed by the first war against the people of Iraq, and the 78-day bombing of Yugoslavia. Then the land of Afghanistan had rained down upon it depleted uranium, napalm, phosphorous bombs, and other witches' brews and weapons of the chemical dust; then Iraq again. And I've skipped a few. I think I hold the record for most times picketing the White House by a right-handed batter.
And through it all, the good, hard-working, righteous people of America have believed mightily that their country always means well; some even believe to this day that we never started a war, certainly nothing deserving of the appellation "war of aggression".
On that same snowy day last month Julian Assange of Wikileaks was freed from prison in London and told reporters that he was more concerned that the United States might try to extradite him than he was about being extradited to Sweden, where he presumably faces "sexual" charges. 1
That's a fear many political and drug prisoners in various countries have expressed in recent years. The United States is the new Devil's Island of the Western world. From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th, political prisoners were shipped to that god-forsaken strip of French land off the eastern coast of South America. One of the current residents of the new Devil's Island is Bradley Manning, the former US intelligence analyst suspected of leaking diplomatic cables to Wikileaks. Manning has been imprisoned for seven months, first in Kuwait, then at a military base in Virginia, and faces virtual life in prison if found guilty, of something.
Without being tried or convicted of anything, he is allowed only very minimal contact with the outside world; or with people, daylight, or news; among the things he is denied are a pillow, sheets, and exercise; his sleep is restricted and frequently interrupted. See Glenn Greenwald's discussion of how Manning's treatment constitutes torture. 2
A friend of the young soldier says that many people are reluctant to talk about Manning's deteriorating physical and mental condition because of government harassment, including surveillance, seizure of their computer without a warrant, and even attempted bribes. "This has had such an intimidating effect that many are afraid to speak out on his behalf." 3
A developer of the transparency software used by Wikileaks was detained for several hours last summer by federal agents at a Newark, New Jersey airport, where he was questioned about his connection to Wikileaks and Assange as well as his opinions about the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. 4
This is but a tiny incident from the near-century buildup of the American police state, from the Red Scare of the 1920s to the McCarthyism of the 1950s to the crackdown against Central American protesters in the 1980s ... elevated by the War on Drugs ... now multiplied by the War on Terror. It's not the worst police state in history; not even the worst police state in the world today; but nonetheless a police state, and certainly the most pervasive police state ever — a Washington Post study has just revealed that there are 4,058 separate federal, state and local "counterterrorism" organizations spread across the United States, each with its own responsibilities and jurisdictions. 5
The police of America, of many types, generally get what and who they want. If the United States gets its hands on Julian Assange, under any legal pretext, fear for him; it might be the end of his life as a free person; the actual facts of what he's done or the actual wording of US laws will not matter; hell hath no fury like an empire scorned.
John Burns, chief foreign correspondent for The New York Times, after interviewing Assange, stated: "He is profoundly of the conviction that the United States is a force for evil in the world, that it's destructive of democracy." 6
Can anyone who believes that be entitled to a full measure of human rights on Devil's Island?
The Wikileaks documents may not produce any world-changing revelations, but every day they are adding to the steady, gradual erosion of people's belief in the US government's good intentions, which is necessary to overcome a lifetime of indoctrination. Many more individuals over the years would have been standing in front of the White House if they had had access to the plethora of information that floods people today; which is not to say that we would have succeeded in stopping any of the wars; that's a question of to what extent the United States is a democracy.
One further consequence of the release of the documents may be to put an end to the widespread belief that Sweden, or the Swedish government, is peaceful, progressive, neutral and independent. Stockholm's behavior in this matter and others has been as American-poodle-like as London's, as it lined itself up with an Assange-accuser who has been associated with right-wing anti-Castro Cubans, who are of course US-government-supported.
This is the same Sweden that for some time in recent years was working with the CIA on its torture-rendition flights and has about 500 soldiers in Afghanistan. Sweden is the world's largest per capita arms exporter, and for years has taken part in US/NATO military exercises, some within its own territory. The left should get themselves a new hero-nation. Try Cuba.
There's also the old stereotype held by Americans of Scandinavians practicing a sophisticated and tolerant attitude toward sex, an image that was initiated, or enhanced, by the celebrated 1967 Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow), which had been banned for awhile in the United States. And now what do we have? Sweden sending Interpol on an international hunt for a man who apparently upset two women, perhaps for no more than sleeping with them both in the same week.
And while they're at it, American progressives should also lose their quaint belief that the BBC is somehow a liberal broadcaster. Americans are such suckers for British accents. The BBC's Today presenter, John Humphrys, asked Assange: "Are you a sexual predator?" Assange said the suggestion was "ridiculous", adding: "Of course not". Humphrys then asked Assange how many woman he had slept with. 7
Would even Fox News have descended to that level? I wish Assange had been raised in the streets of Brooklyn, as I was. He would then have known precisely how to reply to such a question: "You mean including your mother?"
Another group of people who should learn a lesson from all this are the knee-reflex conspiracists. Several of them have already written me snide letters informing me of my naiveté in not realizing that Israel is actually behind the release of the Wikileaks documents; which is why, they inform me, that nothing about Israel is mentioned. I had to inform them that I had already seen a few documents putting Israel in a bad light. I've since seen others, and Assange, in an interview with Al Jazeera on December 23, stated that only a meager number of files related to Israel had been published so far because the publications in the West that were given exclusive rights to publish the secret documents were reluctant to publish much sensitive information about Israel. (Imagine the flak Germany's Der Spiegel would get hit with.) "There are 3,700 files related to Israel and the source of 2,700 files is Israel," said Assange. "In the next six months we intend to publish more files." 8
. . . Reagan's long-drawn-out statements re: Contragate (the scandal involving the covert sale of weapons to Iran to enable Reaganites to continue financing the Contras in the war against the Nicaraguan government after the US Congress cut off funding for the Contras) can be summarized as follows:
I didn't know what was happening. If I did know, I didn't know enough. If I knew enough, I didn't know it in time. If I knew it in time, it wasn't illegal. If it was illegal, the law didn't apply to me. If the law applied to me, I didn't know what was happening.
January 01, 2010
When it comes to journalistic achievements in 2010, the elephant in the room is WikiLeaks. I've seen many put-downs of the materials as containing "no smoking guns", or as being essentially trivial communications to the State Department from U.S. diplomats and kindred government agents around the world.
Now, it's true that the cables were legally available to well over 1.5 million Americans, who had adequate security clearance. But trivial? Don't believe it.
The cables show the daily business of a mighty empire acting in manners diametrically opposite to public pretensions. The cables form one of the most extraordinary lessons in the cold realities of international diplomacy ever made public.
Normally, scholars have to wait for 10, 20, even 50 years to gain access to such papers.The WikiLeaks documents show that the picture of the international business of the United States offered by the major U.S. media to the public is an infantile misrepresentation of reality. The efforts being made by Attorney General Eric Holder to bolster secrecy and espionage laws show that the U.S. government, led currently by a man who pledged "transparency," wants the American people to remain in blissful ignorance of what its government is actually doing.
The alleged leaker of the WikiLeaks files, Army Private Bradley Manning, currently being held in solitary confinement in sadistic conditions, should be vigorously applauded and defended for exposing such crimes as the murder of civilians in Baghdad by U.S. Apache helicopters. The WikiLeaks Afghan-related files are a damning, vivid series of snapshots of a disastrous and criminal enterprise.
In these same files, there is a compelling series of secret documents about the death squad operated by the U.S. military known as Task Force 373, an undisclosed "black" unit of special forces, which has been hunting down targets for death or detention without trial. From WikiLeaks we learn that more than 2,000 senior figures from the Taliban and al-Qaida are held on a "kill or capture" list, known as JPEL, the Joint Prioritized Effects List.
Julian Assange and his colleagues should similarly be honored and defended. They have acted in the best traditions of the journalistic vocation.
The U.S. began the destruction of Afghanistan in 1979, when President Jimmy Carter and his National Security Adviser, Zbigniew Brzezinski, started financing the mullahs and warlords in the largest and most expensive operation in the CIA's history until that time. Here we are, more than three decades later, half-buried under a mountain of horrifying news stories about a destroyed land of desolate savagery, and what did one hear on many news commentaries earlier this week? Indignant bleats often by liberals(?), about WikiLeaks' "irresponsibility" in releasing the documents, twitchy questions such as that asked by The Nation's Chris Hayes on the "Rachel Maddow Show": "I wonder ultimately to whom WikiLeaks ends up being accountable."
The answer to that last question was given definitively in 1851 by Robert Lowe, editorial writer for the London Times. He had been instructed by his editor to refute the claim of a government minister that if the press hoped to share the influence of statesmen, it "must also share in the responsibilities of statesmen."
"The first duty of the press," Lowe wrote, "is to obtain the earliest and most correct intelligence of the events of the time, and instantly, by disclosing them, to make them the common property of the nation ... The Press lives by disclosures ...
For us, with whom publicity and truth are the air and light of existence, there can be no greater disgrace than to recoil from the frank and accurate disclosure of facts as they are. We are bound to tell the truth as we find it, without fear of consequences — to lend no convenient shelter to acts of injustice and oppression, but to consign them at once to the judgment of the world."
(Alexander Cockburn is co-editor with Jeffrey St. Clair of the muckraking newsletter CounterPunch. He is also co-author of the new book Dime's Worth of Difference: Beyond the Lesser of Two Evils. To find out more about Alexander Cockburn and read features by other columnists and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at http://www.creators.com/.)
Then, putting a nice finish to our "honor USA" edition, we learn that US Collects DNA And Data From Foreign Presidential Candidates.
A cable dated March 24, 2008, reports upon a recent Washington review of the reporting and collection needs of USG (United States Government) agencies in Paraguay. The review lists the priorities USG agencies are to focus upon when they allocate resources and update plans to collect information on Paraguay. Information was desired upon all leading presidential contenders – particularly upon the Minister of Education, Blanca Ovelar; former Vice President Castiglioni, and also on Lino Oviedo; and Fernando Lugo. The information included biographical and financial information but also biometric data including fingerprints, facial images, iris scans, and DNA, on these individuals.
P.J. Crowley, State Department spokesman, sought to reassure the world that American diplomats are not spies, but ignored questions about why they were asked to collect samples of DNA, iris images, credit card numbers, fingerprints and other personal information of foreign dignitaries at the United Nations and other countries.
From Skippy (the godhead) we learn all about it.
Michael Collins at the Agonist looks back at the Naughts. While everyone knows things sucked, we really didn’t have the numbers to look at before now. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics there were 135 million jobs in the US at the beginning of 2000 and 139 million at the beginning of 2010. Four million new jobs may seem good if you don’t know that over 100 thousand new people are attempting to enter the job market every month. You need more than a million jobs per year to stand still, and only an average of 400 thousand jobs per year were available.
After 20% job growth in the 1980s and 1990s, the job growth for the Naughts was 0%.
If they raise the retirement age, there will be even fewer jobs available for new workers, because, thanks to the Republicans, the majority of new plants and jobs being created by American corporations, are being created overseas. American taxpayers are subsidizing this practice. This is one of the many reasons that corporations can make obscene profits and still don’t owe any corporate taxes in the US.
Bill Black is one of my favorite economists of all time and his integrity is unquestionable. Twelfth Night ends tomorrow. (Happy Birthday, Elizabeth!) Suzan __________________
broadband bribery Alcatel-Lucent pays to have foreign bribery charges "settled." $137 million.
The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission has found that Alcatel began bribing foreign government officials nearly a decade ago and the company, now called Alcatel-Lucent, has agreed to pay $137 million in penalties relating to the violations, according to an sec announcement issued this week.
. . . "Alcatel and its subsidiaries failed to detect or investigate numerous red flags suggesting their employees were directing sham consultants to provide gifts and payments to foreign government officials to illegally win business," said Robert Khuzami, director of the sec's division of enforcement, in a statement.- Information Week
"Foreign bribery weakens economic development, erodes confidence in the marketplace and distorts competition," Mythili Raman, principal deputy assistant attorney general of the DOJ's criminal division, said in a statement.
- pcmag - now there are some questions being asked in Australia.... the man hand picked by labor to head up the national broadband network has had to respond to questions over a bribery scandal that occurred during his time as a top executive at french telecommunications giant Alcatel. - the age