Tag Archives: New York Times

Noam Chomsky Unpublished :the War in Yugoslavia and the Geneva Convention

 

Backing Up Globalization
with Military Might
by Karen Talbot
CovertAction Quarterly, Fall / Winter 1999

The U. S. Senate recently labeled Serbia a “terrorist state,” in an act of obscene hypocrisy-yet another case of blaming the victim for the crimes of the perpetrator What could be more “terrorist” than the relentless blitzkrieg of 23,000 bombs and missiles rained upon Yugoslavia for 79 days by U.S.-led NATO forces? Is it not terrorism to drop on civilians radioactive depleted uranium weapons and outlawed cluster bombs designed to rip human flesh to shreds, from the sanctuary of thousands of feet in the air, or using terrain-hugging computer-guided missiles? Is it not terrorism to target deliberately the entire infrastructure of a small sovereign nation, including electrical and water filtration systems critical to the survival of civilians? Is it not terrorism to ferociously obliterate 200 factories and destroy the jobs of millions of workers? What of the constant air assault-“fire from the sky”-against cities, villages, schools, hospitals, senior residences, TV towers and studios, oil refineries, chemical plants, electrical power plants, transmission towers, gas stations, homes, farms, schools, marketplaces, buses, trains, railroad lines, bridges, roads, medieval monasteries, churches, historic monuments-destruction amounting to more than $100 billion? What of eco-terrorism, biological and chemical warfare, the incalculable result of the destruction of the environment, including the deliberate bombardment of chemical plants? Above all, is it not terrorism to kill, maim, traumatize, impoverish, or render homeless tens of thousands of men, women, and children?
Not only was NATO’S war a reprehensible act of inhumanity, it was in contravention of all norms of international law, including the Charter of the United Nations. This was an unprecedented war by the most powerful military force in history involving the 19 wealthiest nations with 95% of the world’s armaments against a small sovereign nation that ultimately had little chance of countering such an attack.
WHY THE BALKANS?
Yugoslavia is strategically located. The peoples of this region have had the great misfortune of living on real estate coveted by empire after empire, all of which employed classic divide and conquer tactics by pitting one people against another. Not much has changed.
The determination by the U. S and NATO to occupy Kosovo and virtually all of Yugoslavia is spurred on by the enticement of abundant natural resources. Kosovo alone has the richest mineral resources in all of Europe west of Russia. The New York Times observed that “the sprawling state-owned Trepca mining complex, the most valuable piece of real estate in the Balkans, is worth at least $5 billion,” producing gold, silver, lead, zinc, and cadmium, as well as tens of millions of dollars in profits annually. The New York Times also revealed that a “number of unofficial partition plans have been drawn up for Kosovo all raising the question of who would control an important northern mining region.” Trepca was also a glittering prize taken over by Hitler to fuel the Nazi war machine during W.W.II. “Kosovo also possesses 17 billion tons of coal reserves and Kosovo (like Serbia and Albania) also has oil reserves.”
Serbia as a whole is rich in minerals and oil including in Vojvodina, the northern part of the Yugoslavia. That coveted area of Vojvodina is also extremely fertile land-a major “breadbasket” for Europe. Then there is the allure of enterprises to be privatized at bargain prices, and the anticipation of exploiting very cheap and highly skilled labor potentially available to work in sweatshop conditions.
Perhaps most significant is the fact that Yugoslavia has strong elements of a socialist economy-the last in Europe, however tattered it may have become by years of economic destabilization by the West and financial institutions like the IMF and World Bank. Sixty-five percent of all firms are either state-owned or self-managed cooperatives. s Most heavy industry is state-owned. The factories bombed during the 79 days of NATO attacks were exclusively state-owned. The banking and financial system is also state-controlled. Only 20 percent of the workforce was in the private sector 6
The U.S. had joined Belgrade’s other international creditors in imposing a first round of macroeconomic reforms in 1980, shortly before the death of Marshal Tito. “Successive IMF-sponsored programs since then continued the disintegration of the industrial sector and the piecemeal dismantling of the Yugoslav welfare state. Debt restructuring agreements increased foreign debt and mandated currency devaluation also hit hard at Yugoslavia’s standard of living…. [The] IMF prescribed further doses of its bitter economic medicine periodically… Industrial production declined to a negative 10 percent growth rate in 1990- with all its predictable social consequences. “7
ABOVE ALL IT’S ABOUT OIL
Perhaps above all, this U.S.-led onslaught is about oil. It is related to the drive to extend and protect the investments of the transnational corporations in the Caspian Sea region, especially the oil corporations.
The Balkans are strategic for the transshipment of oil and gas to Europe and beyond. They are critical in the competition between Europe and the U.S. over these riches. Time is of the essence. The first tanker shipment from the port of Supsa in Georgia on the eastern Black Sea coast- the terminus of a pipeline from the Caspian Sea oil fields-took place recently Another pipeline passing through Russia, in particular Chechnya, and also ending at the eastern shore of the Black Sea at Novorossiysk, will add to the tanker traffic.
The predicament is how to get that oil beyond the Black Sea. The Bosporus straits, at Istanbul, are narrow and pose considerable hazards, especially for the tremendously heavy tanker traffic expected. And so far plans to build a pipeline through Turkey (Kurdistan) are thwarted by the struggles of the Kurds and by competing interests Hopes for a pipeline through Iran are also on hold. Though preferred for several reasons, those routes would not provide the best access to Europe and the Western Hemisphere. The oil can be shipped by tanker up the Danube River, a waterway crossing Europe from the Black Sea where a short canal connects it to the port of Constanza in Romania. The Danube runs through Belgrade and Novi Sad in Yugoslavia. The recent completion of a grand canal-about the time the turmoil started in the former Yugoslavia-between the Danube and Rhine Rivers now makes it possible to ply those waters through a great inland system of canals and waterways to the industrial Ruhr Valley and clear to the North Sea. Undoubtedly this route is favored by the Europeans in the competition over the Caspian Sea treasure chest.
PIPELINES ACROSS THE BALKANS
There are also plans to build pipelines across the Balkans. One from Romania- which has considerable oil wealth itself- would extend from Constanza to Trieste on the Adriatic Sea. At Trieste, the oil would be piped northward or shipped westward out of Europe by tanker. A pipeline through Bulgaria from the port of Bourgas on the Black Sea to the Vlore port on the Adriatic in Albania is a project of the U.S.-owned Albanian, Macedonian, and Bulgarian Oil Corporation (AMBO).
These would be part of a multiple pipeline system in the Balkans, some connecting with existing “Soviet-era” pipelines from Russia that would need upgrading. But these oil and gas pipelines extending through Serbia from Russia to Central Europe, are extremely valuable. In the competition with European-based companies, the U.S. backs the Caspian Pipeline consortium led by Mobil.
As noted, Serbia also has oil reserves. And the port of Bar on the Montenegrin coast is the most valuable, cost-efficient, deep water port in the entire eastern Mediterranean Sea-the cheapest route for the flow of goods in and out of Eastern Europe and beyond.
Also, Kosovo is in a corridor used for centuries, even by the Crusaders, as a route between Europe and the Middle East. The route follows river valleys connecting with the Danube River Valley near Belgrade. The southern arm of the trans-Balkan railway runs along these valleys. Control of this overland passageway was critical to the German fascist war machine in World War II, and to other conquerors. It remains vital to getting the oil riches into Europe from the Middle East and for other two-way commerce.
Neighboring Albania, whose economy has been completely transformed to the “free-market,” with domination by western transnational corporations and banks, has vast untapped mineral resources including oil reserves. These are already being gobbled up by transnationals including the major oil companies.
The application of strong structural adjustment policies imposed by the World Bank and IMF “had contributed to wrecking Albania’s banking system and precipitating the collapse of the Albanian economy The resulting chaos enabled American and European transnationals to position themselves carefully Several western oil companies, including Occidental, Shell, and British Petroleum, had their eyes riveted on Albania’s abundant and unexplored oil deposits. Western investors were also gawking at Albania’s extensive reserves of chrome, copper, gold, nickel, and platinum. The Adenauer Foundation had been lobbying in the background on behalf of German mining interests.”
So this entire region is bubbling with activities over the profits to be had, particularly from oil.
STOKING CONFLICT IN THE CAUCASUS / CASPIAN SEA REGION
There is a growing contention between Russia and the West over the oil wealth of the Caspian Sea basin. This was manifested not only in the NATO war against Yugoslavia, but also increasingly in the Baltics, the Ukraine, the region of the Caucasus Mountains, and among all the littoral nations of the Caspian Sea. The main pipelines for the Central Asian oil, the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline and the Baku-Supsa pipeline, pass through the Caucasus. In the mounting disputes, Russia allies itself with Armenia and, it is suspected, with the Abkhaz separatists, to counterbalance NATO influence in Azerbaijan and Georgia.
Chechnya and Dagestan are also critical in this struggle as the Baku-Novorossiysk pipeline passes through its territory. Recently separatist military actions by Dagestan against Russia have flared up in Dagestan and in Chechnya. Dagestan is located between Chechnya and the Caspian Sea.
“For Russia, Dagestan retains an important strategic value. Dagestan commands 70 percent of Russia’s shoreline to the oil-producing Caspian Sea and its only all-weather Caspian port at Makhachkala. It provides the crucial pipeline links from Azerbaijan, where Russia maintains important oil interests….”
The recently opened Baku-Supsa route through Georgia, favored by the West, bypasses Russia altogether, undermining Russian influence on the region’s oil and Russian revenue from that oil. This route was opened following military maneuvers for training to defend the line by Ukrainian, Georgian, and Azen troops, as part of the GUUAM alliance.
Intensifying competition between Russia and NATO has escalated after a battle with heavy losses, June 14, between Azerbaijan and Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh.
Another pipeline route favored by the U.S. is the one between Baku and Ceyhan passing through Turkey However this is more expensive and transverses the area of intense struggles by the Kurdish people. This is leading the U.S. oil companies to revive their interest in other routes. One of these is through western Afghanistan, the other, south through Iran.
Richard Morningstar, former special adviser to the President and Secretary of State for Caspian Basin energy issues, said it was essential that the two Caspian states-Azerbaijan and Turkmenistan- agree as soon as possible about a trans-Caspian gas pipeline to transport oil from Turkmenistan to Turkey via the Caspian Sea. Washington has urged these governments to ignore Russian and Iranian hostility and move ahead with this pipeline even if it means violating the existing legal status of the Caspian Sea in which all the littoral states are to be consulted about its future. Russia and Iran “feel increasingly irritated by the U.S. activities in Central Asia, aimed at preventing Moscow and Teheran from reasserting their economic and political grip over the former Soviet republics in the Caspian region.”
Also at stake in this region is the growing competition from China which recently has established significant military and economic ties with Turkmenistan. China’s National Petroleum Company has helped rebuild over 100 wells in Turkmenistan resulting in an increase in the nation’s export production. It is estimated that Turkmenistan soon will be the third largest gas exporter in the world.
China, the second largest energy consumer in the world, is expected to require 40 percent of its oil through imports by 2010 up from less than 20 percent today.
According to a report in the Journal of Commerce: “A bitter ethnic battle in the Caucasus spilled over into Congress this week as U.S. corporate and oil interests won a key vote on aid to the region in the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. The panel approved the Silk Road Strategy Act…[which] would ‘target assistance to support the economic and political independence of the countries of the South Caucasus and Central Asia.’ But behind the measure’s bland title is a widening web of international and U.S. business alliances with stakes in the outcome of a 10-year old war….”
So once again we can expect that oil interests will lead to interventions predicated on “national liberation” or “human rights concerns.”
NEW WORLD ORDER ONSLAUGHT
This information age of high technology communications and transportation is catapulting globalization forward at warp speed. A borderless world is increasingly attractive to profit-driven corporations seeking to extend their tentacles without impediment into every conceivable niche on Planet Earth. Indeed the pundits of the “new world order” speak openly now about the demise of national sovereignty as necessary and inevitable to permit capital to flow anywhere free of restrictions. The U.S./NATO destruction of Yugoslavia established the desired precedent for military attack, cloaked in a democracy and human rights disguise, against any sovereign country that might have the temerity to stand up to the encroachment of the transnational corporations (TNCs).
The U.S. and NATO will thus be vastly emboldened by their latest “success” in the Balkans, continuing to destabilize what’s left of the federal structure, while disciplining the breakaway states of Croatia and Slovenia. We can also expect the new declared mission of nuclear-armed NATO- its commitment to override the principle of national sovereignty and intervene in the name of “humanitarian concerns,”-to be implemented elsewhere, possibly in the Caspian Sea/Caucasus areas of the former Soviet Union.
Burgeoning military alliances, with the U.S. at the helm, will similarly target North Korea, China, Congo, Colombia, and elsewhere. Any country refusing to be incorporated into the “New World Order” by allowing its wealth and labor power to be plundered by the transnational corporations will be vulnerable to attack. The assault against Yugoslavia threw open the floodgates for new wars, including wars of competition among the industrial powers, with nuclear weapons part of the equation.
An article by Thomas Friedman in the New York Times entitled “What the World Needs Now” tells it all. Illustrated by an American Flag on a fist it said, among other things: “For globalism to work, America can’t be afraid to act like the almighty superpower that it is…. The hidden hand of the market will never work without a hidden fist-McDonald’s cannot flourish without McDonnell-Douglas, the designer of the F-15. And the hidden fist that keeps the world safe for Silicon Valley’s technologies is called the United States Army, Air Force, Navy and Marine Corps.”
There could not be a better description of how the U.S. armed forces are seen as the military arm of the globalizing TNCs.
President Clinton, in a speech delivered the day before his televised address to Americans about Kosovo, admitted: “If we’re going to have a strong economic relationship that includes our ability to sell around the world, Europe has got to be a key… That’s what this Kosovo thing is all about.
After the war, Clinton praised NATO for its campaign in Kosovo, saying the alliance could intervene elsewhere in Europe or Africa to fight repression. “We can do it now. We can do it tomorrow, if it is necessary somewhere else,” he told U.S. troops at the Skopje, Macedonia, airport. However, it soon became clear that, even though we can do it, we would like Europe to bear more of the cost. At the September NATO defense chiefs’ meeting, U.S. Secretary of Defense William Cohen, with British support, pressed Europe to spend more money on defense, to close the “growing technology gap” between Europe’s lagging forces and the state of the art U.S. military British Minister of Defense Lord George Robertson’s pitch was blunt: “Kosovo has shown people for real that this world is going to be more dangerous and that defense is not some luxury that can be cut in times of trouble.”
Despite this push for more spending by Europe, a clear objective of the Kosovo campaign has also been to add more billions to the already bloated U.S. military budget and to fill the coffers of the military-industrial corporations with super-profits. Congress, with bipartisan fervor, approved a $20 billion increase for the Pentagon, with a total of $290 billion for fiscal year 2000, with an extra $15 billion appropriated for the war against Yugoslavia. At the same time, all other domestic discretionary spending, including education, job training, housing, environment, and health, totals $245 billion, “the biggest disparity in modern times,” according to the Center for Defense Information.
AN END TO NATIONAL SOVEREIGNTY ?
In today’s world, TNCs, and governments running interference for them, are pushing for an end to national sovereignty and democracy in order to achieve total unimpeded access for investments, cheap labor, and consumers in every nook and cranny of the globe. This is being accomplished, among other ways, through mechanisms like multilateral agreements on investment, free trade agreements like NAFTA, and the dictates of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank, and World Trade Organization (WTO).
Globalization fever is running rampant. It is epitomized by the feeding frenzy taking place across the Asia-Pacific region among U.S.-based transnationals and banks as they gobble up assets at bargain basement prices-in Japan facing a prolonged recession and in other nations stricken by the Asian economic crisis. In the early weeks of that economic tsunami, the New York Times described U.S. banks and corporations as poised to “snap up some corporate bargains…. Chase Manhattan, General Electric, General Motors, and J.P Morgan are all said to be looking at ailing companies in the region.”
To achieve maximum profits, these transnationals will stop at nothing. After all, they are non-human institutions that must expand through ever-greater profits, or go out of business. In so doing they have shown willingness to violate human rights-particularly workers’ rights-to throw millions out of work, destroy unions, use sweatshops and slave labor, destroy the environment, destabilize governments, and install and bolster tyrants who oppress, repress, torture and kill with impunity.
Is it surprising, then, that wars and military intervention, including attacks on civilians, are waged on behalf of corporations? It has been an integral part of the history of imperialist powers. Why should we believe it is any different today?
THE COSTS, AND THE PROFITS, OF WAR
NATO nations spent an estimated $65 million daily on the war. The U.S. paid the bulk of this cost, estimated to be $1.65 billion in the first 57 days. The second largest funder was Britain, which spent an estimated $120-$180 million 2s
Tapping into this lucrative bottomless well of funds, the “Big Three” weapons makers-Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon-now receive among themselves over $30 billion per year in Pentagon contracts. Companies like Lockheed Martin are actively engaged in shaping U.S. foreign and military policies. Their efforts have yielded among other things: the “payoffs for layoffs” subsidies for defense industry mergers such as the Lockheed/Martin Marietta merger; the elimination of royalty fees that foreign arms customers had been paying to reimburse the U.S. Treasury for the cost of weapons developed at taxpayer expense (this adds up to a loss for taxpayers of roughly $500 million per year); and the creation of billions of dollars of new grants and government-guaranteed loans to support the export of U. S. weaponry Pentagon contractors, conservative think tanks and advocacy groups lobbied heavily and successfully for the “Star Wars” missile defense program.
The bombing and missile strikes are, more than ever, giant bazaars for selling the wares of the armaments manufacturers. An article in USA Today said: “The USA’s defense equipment, such as the satellite-guided smart bombs, has stolen the international spotlight as NATO air forces pound Serbian forces. That could mean increased foreign interest in U.S. military equipment….” Raytheon spokesperson David Shea was quoted: “We are expecting the Kosovo conflict to result in new orders downstream.” Then in early June, just after President Clinton signed the bill appropriating $12 billion in emergency military funding, officials at Raytheon announced that replacing munitions used in the Balkans could lead to about $1 billion in new contracts.
No wonder stock of the large military manufacturers shot up. Since the beginning of the war against Yugoslavia, March 24, 1999, the stock price of Rockwell International (maker of the Lancer, B-1 bomber, etc.) was up 48 percent; Boeing Aircraft (maker of the B-52 Stratofortress, etc.) up 30 percent; Raytheon Systems (maker of the Tomahawk cruise missile, HARM missile, etc.) up 37 percent; Lockheed Martin (maker of the F- 117 Nighthawk, F-16 Falcon, etc.), up 18 percent; and Northrop Grumman (maker of the B-2 bomber, etc.) up 16 percent 29 Jaynatha Dhanapala, U.N. Under-Secretary-General for Disarmament Affairs, said recently that “television coverage of modern warfare has effectively created an ‘advertising dividend’ for the manufacturers of high-tech weaponry and the countries and alliances that use such weapons… He observed that during the 1991 war in the Persian Gulf and the recent NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, tiny video cameras enabled hundreds of millions of viewers to “experience vicariously” the flight paths of attacking missiles to their intended targets.
Defense and aerospace companies have either announced or completed mergers and acquisitions amounting to nearly $60 billion in just the first half of 1999. That amount is already well above the total for all of 1998.
HEIGHTENED ANTAGONISMS BETWEEN THE U.S. AND EUROPE
Another factor driving U.S. policies is economic competition with the European Union, which is surfacing increasingly in spite of cooperation and commonality of interests on other levels. This is epitomized by the recent banana trade wars in which the World Trade Organization (WTO) ruled in favor of U.S. TNCs, as well as the rivalry over such prizes as the oil riches of the Caspian Sea basin and access to the markets and resources of Eastern Europe.
The U.S. has warned openly that it will not tolerate a purely European military alliance to take the place of NATO. The military might of the U.S. must prevail.
This was clearly spelled out in “The Defense Planning Guide,” which said, among other things: “We must account sufficiently for the interests of the advanced industrial nations to discourage them from challenging our leadership or seeking to overturn the established political and economic order…. We must [deter] potential competitors from even aspiring to a larger regional or global role…. We must seek to prevent the emergence of European-only security arrangements which would undermine NATO.”
Nevertheless, on the very day that Yugoslavia adhered to the G-8 agreement, the leaders of 15 European countries announced the European Union would establish an independent military force.
Commerce up the Danube was completely disrupted by the bombing of bridges in Novi Sad which infuriated Europeans whose economies continue to be adversely affected. It was perceived as a manifestation of the intensifying economic rivalry between the U.S. and Europe.
Indeed, two world wars were fueled by such competition.
At the same time, rivalry is tempered increasingly by the corporate imperative to survive at all costs and to make maximum profits, including through mergers and partnerships. Lockheed Martin, maker of missiles and high-tech weaponry, has created Lockheed Martin UK Limited, based in London. Its largest U.K. operation is the Royal Navy Merlin helicopter program, among many other military programs. In fact, Lockheed Martin has more than 200 international partnerships around the world
U.S. aerospace companies are determined not to be locked out of the lucrative profits to be had from the establishment of a separate European military alliance. This pressure has led to a shift in policy by the Pentagon. Mergers between U.S. and European defense contractors are being given the go-ahead. “U.S. Undersecretary of Defense Jacques Gansler has admitted being in talks not only with European governments such as the U.K., Germany, France, and Italy but also with leading defense companies including British Aerospace, France’s Aerospatiale Matra SA and Germany’s Dasa.”
THE NEW NATO
The giant corporations especially the military-industrial corporations-have been pushing vigorously for expanding and extending the role of NATO. Their blatant salivating over potential profits was indisputable during NATO’s 50th Anniversary celebrations which became “the ultimate marketing opportunity” as described in the Washington Post. The host committee included the chief executives of Amentech, Daimler/Chrysler, Boeing, Ford Motor, General Motors, Honeywell, Lucent Technologies, Motorola, Nextel, SBC Communications, TRW and United Technologies. These companies sell weapons but also other products. They have been busy lobbying for the expansion of NATO to avail themselves of the lucrative markets in Eastern European nations which have been pressed to join NATO. In order to be a part of the Alliance these nations must spend billions to upgrade their military forces.
The Ukraine, part of the NATO-sponsored Partnership for Peace, held joint naval exercises with the United States in July Perceiving this as a threat, Russian Prime Minster Sergei Stepashin was quoted by Interfax Ukraine news agency as telling the officers and men of Russia’s Black Sea fleet to prepare for a naval exercise to imitate the military action in Yugoslavia during the Kosovo crisis.
The Ukraine, along with Georgia, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Moldova, are members of GUUAM, a bloc of “western-oriented” Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) members. Moldova and Uzbekistan joined during the NATO anniversary summit in April, and a charter was established encompassing military cooperation within the group and with NATO. GUUAM members have opted out of the CIS Collective Security Treaty.
“The pendulum of Ukrainian foreign policy swung closest to the West on June 12, when Kiev briefly closed Ukrainian airspace to Russian aircraft trying to reinforce Russian troops at Slatina airbase in Kosovo…. Russia’s military commanders were furious. It was bad enough that NATO convinced ostensibly neutral Romania and Bulgaria to deny their airspace to Russian aircraft, but Ukraine was a step too far. Ukraine had to clarify its relationship with NATO and with Russia.”
Moreover, NATO has repeatedly deflected protest over its possession of nuclear armaments and its refusal to renounce first use of these weapons.
NATO, then, is projecting its new role as action “out of area” and intervening anywhere on the basis of “humanitarian concerns,” regardless of national sovereignty and international law. The purpose is to send a message to nations of the entire world that if they do not do the U.S. bidding, they too could be a victim of the kind of devastation unleashed upon Yugoslavia and Iraq. They too could be divided up, balkanized, turned into banana republics or emirates. Especially vulnerable are those countries involved over the oil riches of the Caspian Sea basin-Russia, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Azerbaijan, and Georgia-and where there are already related conflicts including over Chechnya, Nagoro-Karabakh, Dagestan, and Abkhazia.
U.S.-LED GLOBAL MILITARY ALLIANCES
NATO expansion pertains to what Washington calls a “new strategic concept,” an expensive new program to have NATO, under U.S. Ieadership, become the key player globally This new blueprint for NATO not only sees it extending throughout Eastern and Baltic Europe, possibly taking in Russia itself, it goes considerably beyond this, as indicated by Zbigniew Brzezinski in his new book, The Grand Chessboard. He defines the alliance as part of an “integrated, comprehensive and long-term geostrategy for all of Eurasia,” in which NATO would eventually reach Asia, where another U.S.-led military alliance would connect Pacific and Southeast Asian states.
The unfolding events in Indonesia and East Timor appear to be closely related to plans for establishing a U.S.-controlled NATO-type military alliance in that region to counter a purely Asian military association.
Steps are well under way for new relations with Southeast Asia in which the U.S. is acquiring access to military bases in Asian countries in exchange for financial help to buy U.S. arms. The Pentagon’s East Asian Strategy Report defines this program as offering the United States “a credible power projection capability in the region and beyond.”
Dr. Joseph Gerson succinctly describes the developing situation in Asia and the Pacific:
“In the Asia-Pacific region, the U.S. is enforcing its 21st century “Open Door” policy by means of the IMF, the World Bank, APEC, bases and forward deployments, the Seventh Fleet and its nuclear arsenal; as it seeks to simultaneously contain and engage China, to dominate the sea lanes and straits through which the region’s trade and supplies of oil must travel (the “jugular vein” of Asia Pacific economies), and to “cap” Japanese militarism and nationalism.
Since 1951, the hub of this strategic architecture has been the Mutual Security Treaty with Japan (MST). During the Clinton years, the MST has been “redefined” to reconsolidate U.S., and to a lesser extent, Japanese power.”
A “U.S.-Japan Joint Declaration on Security Alliance for the 21st Century” proclaimed at the April 1996 Summit between President Clinton and Japanese Prime Minister Hashimoto, cited “the alliances, new enemies and public rationales: tensions and instability on the Korean Peninsula, China’s nuclear arsenal, and territorial disputes with China.”
The regular gigantic war games conducted in the Korean region by the U.S. and South Korea have been stepped up substantially in the recent period.
Echoing the Gulf of Tonkin provocation used to justify U.S. intervention in Vietnam, South Korean warships sank a North Korean boat and badly damaged another allegedly over a dispute about a crab-fishing area of the Yellow Sea.
Plans for U.S. deployment of Theater Missile Defenses (TMDs) around China, sensationalized and unproven allegations of Chinese nuclear spying, claims of Chinese nuclear panty with the U.S., the blocking of China’s entry to the WTO, the bombing of the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, and recent independence moves by Taiwan encouraged by U.S. Congress members, place the world on the brink of a U.S.-orchestrated confrontation with China. Taiwan is “the most likely trigger for U.S.-Chinese nuclear confrontation and war,” according to Gerson.
With the bombing of Yugoslavia barely over and with continuing and escalating air strikes against Iraq, the U.S. appears to be moving rapidly toward such a confrontation with China over Taiwan. In mid-July, Taiwan’s President, Lee Teng-hui, announced the island wants “special state-to-state relations” with China, meaning a rejection of the “one China” policy that has kept the peace for many years. This led Chinese President Jiang Zemin to tell President Clinton, July 18, that China would not rule out using force regarding Taiwan.
Washington is regaining even greater access to ports and bases throughout the Philippines under the “Visiting Forces Agreement.” Considerable attention is also being focused on Indonesia, to prevent the U.S. Ioss of access to its natural resources and markets, and its control of the strategically important shipping lanes. Recent events in Indonesia and East Timor will undoubtedly be used as strong leverage for the establishment of a NATO-type military alliance in that region with the U.S. in control.
Nothing could describe U.S. military goals better than the British American Security Information Council’s recently published partially declassified text of the U.S. Strategic Command’s 1995 “Essentials of Post-Cold War Deterrence”:
” [T]he United States should have available the full range of responses, conventional weapons, special operations, and nuclear weapons. Unlike chemical or biological weapons, the extreme destruction from a nuclear explosion is immediate, with few if any palliatives to reduce its effect. Although we are not likely to use nuclear weapons in less than matters of the greatest national importance…. Nuclear weapons always cast a shadow over any crisis or conflict in which the U.S. is engaged. Thus, deterrence through the threat of use of nuclear weapons will continue to be our top military strategy…That the U.S. may become irrational and vindictive if its vital interests are attacked should be a part of the national persona we project to all adversaries….
The Americas are not to escape this buildup of U.S.-controlled military alliances. The U.S. Army War College has urged a “NAFTA for the military,” with joint command between Canada, Mexico, and the U.S.”
CALL TO RESIST
Resistance to war, to the corporate globalization offensive, and to their manifestations at home, is needed today more than ever in history, as events move at astounding speed. Such a movement is bound to grow every day
Multitudes of the world’s poor and working people are resisting in rapidly growing numbers. In the process they are coming to understand the commonality of interests they share with all those victimized by the corporations and the policies of the U.S. and other governments the U.S. sword and dollar marching hand in glove-in the brutal, relentless drive for ever-higher profits. Nothing is more important than to quicken the pace and strengthen the unity to resist this imperialist onslaught toward global corporate rule.

An interview with Noam Chomsky in which he exposes the hypocrisy behind the “humanitarian” bombing of Yugoslavia and outlines its real causes.

NOAM CHOMSKY, world-renowned linguist, political analyst, philosopher and activist, has been called “arguably the most important intellectual alive” by the New York Times. Recently, in a British magazine poll, he has been voted by a landslide as the top public intellectual in the world today. According to the Arts and Humanities Citation Index, between 1980 and 1992 Chomsky was cited as a source more often than any other living scholar, and remains the eighth most cited scholar ever. A professor at MIT, he is the author of more than 80 books, including The New Military Humanism: Lessons From Kosovo. His most recent book is Failed States: The Abuse of Power and the Assault on Democracy.

Danilo Mandic: Professor Noam Chomsky, in your, if I am not mistaken, first TV media appearance for Serbian media, thank you very much for being with us.
Noam Chomsky: I am glad to be with you.

[b] Last month marked the seventh anniversary of the beginning of the bombing of Yugoslavia. Why did NATO wage that war or I should say why did the United States wage that war?

[/b] Actually, we have for the first time a very authoratative comment on that from the highest level of Clinton administration, which is something that one could have surmised before, but now it is asserted. This is from Strobe Talbott who was in charge of the…he ran the Pentagon/State Department intelligence Joint Committee on the diplomacy during the whole affair including the bombing, so that’s very top of Clinton administration; he just wrote the forward to a book by his Director of Communications, John Norris, and in the forward he says if you really want to understand what the thinking was of the top of Clinton administration this is the book you should read and take a look on John Norris’s book and what he says is that the real purpose of the war had nothing to do with concern for Kosovar Albanians. It was because Serbia was not carrying out the required social and economic reforms, meaning it was the last corner of Europe which had not subordinated itself to the US-run neoliberal programs, so therefore it had to be eliminated. That’s from the highest level.

Again, we could have guessed it, but I’ve never seen it said before. That it wasn’t because of the Kosovo Albanians, that we know. And this is a point of religious fanaticism that the West can’t talk about for interesting reasons having to do with Western culture, but there is just overwhelming documentation, impeccable documentation. Two big compilations of the State Department trying to justify the war, the OSCE records, NATO records, KIM Monitor records, long British Parliamentary inquiry which led into it. They all showed the same thing – and sort of what we knew, I mean it was an ugly place, there were atrocities there.

Given this clear documentary record I want to ask you about the elite Intellectual opinion, what you call…

In the United States.

…in the United States and in the West in general, because reviewing it you would get the impression – you would be forgiven for imagining that every critic of the NATO intervention was one of two things: either a “Milosevic sympathizer” or someone who doesn’t care about genocide. What does this mean?

First of all that’s a common feature of intellectual culture. One good U.S. critic, Harold Rosenberg once described intellectuals as the “herd of independent minds.” They think they are very independent but they are a stampede in a herd, which is true; when there is a party line, you have to adhere to it and the party line is systematic. The party line is subordination to state power and to state violence. Now you are allowed to criticize it but on a very narrow grounds. You can criticize it because it is not working or for some mistake or benign intentions that went astray or something, like you see right now in Iraq war, the tone of debate about Iraq war but take a look at it – it’s very similar to the debate in PRAVDA during the invasion of Afghanistan. Actually I brought this up to a Polish reporter recently and I asked him if he had been reading PRAVDA. He just laughed and said yeah it’s the same. Now you read PRAVDA in the nineteen eighties, it’s you know: “the travail of the Russian soldiers that are going to get killed and now there are these terrorists who prevent us from bringing justice and peace to the Afghans, we of course did not invade them, we intervened and helped them at the request of the legitimate government, the terrorists are preventing us from doing all good the things we wanted to do etc.” I have read Japanese counter-insurgency documents from the second WW, from the ninety thirties – the same, you know: “…we tried to bring them an earthly paradise, but the Chinese bandits are preventing it …” in fact I don’t know of any exception in history. If you want, British imperialism is the same, I mean even people of the highest moral integrity like John Stewart Mill were talking about, well we have to intervene in India and conquer India because the barbarians can’t control themselves, there are atrocities, we are to bring them the benefits of the British rule and civilization and so on.

Now in the United States it’s the same. Now take bombing of Kosovo; that was an incredibly important event for American intellectuals and the reason it had to do it all was for what was going on during nineties. And the nineties are for the West, not just the U.S. and France and England were the worst – probably the low point in intellectual history for the West, I think. I mean it was like a comic strip mimicking a satire of Stalinism, literally. You take a look at the New York Times or read the French press, the British press, there was all full of talk about how there is a “normative revolution” that has swept through the West, for the first time in history, a state namely the United States, “the leader of the free world” is acting from “pure altruism”, …Clinton’s policy has entered into a “noble phase,” with a “saintly glow” on and on, I am quoting from the liberals.

Now, this particular humanitarian charade was…

That’s pre Kosovo.

Right. And it was specific in a sense because it was based on the claim that it was preventing genocide.

Now this is, see there are no examples yet.

Let me just read something that you said in an interview around the time of the bombing. You said that “the term “genocide” as applied to Kosovo is an insult to the victims of Hitler. In fact, it’s revisionist to an extreme.” What did you mean by that?

First of all let me just fix the timing. The things I’ve been quoting are from the late nineties.

Before Kosovo.

Yeah. Now, they needed some event to justify this massive self-adulation, OK? Along came Kosovo fortunately and so now they had to stop genocide. What was the genocide in Kosovo? We know from the Western documentation what it was. In the year prior to the bombing, according to Western sources about two thousand people were killed, the killings were distributed, a lot of them were coming in fact according to British government, which was the most hawkish element of the Alliance, up until January 1999 a majority of killings came from the KLA guerillas who were coming in as they said, you know, to try to incite a harsh Serbian response, which they got, in order to appeal to Western humanitarians to bomb. We know from the Western records that nothing changed between January and March, in fact up until March 20 they indicate nothing. March 20th they indicate an increase in KLA attacks. But, it was ugly but by international standards it was almost invisible unfortunately and it was very distributed. If the British are correct, the majority was coming from the KLA guerillas.

And as it later turned out the KLA was also receiving financial and military support.

They were being supported by CIA in those months. And to call that genocide, is really to insult the victims of the holocaust, you know, if that’s genocide than the whole world is covered with genocide.

In fact it’s kind of striking; right at the same time the Western intellectuals were praising themselves for their magnificent humanitarianism, much worse atrocities were going on right across the border, in Turkey. That’s inside NATO, not at the borders of NATO… “how can we allow this on the borders of NATO,”… but how about inside NATO where Turkey was carrying, had driven probably several million Kurds out of their homes, destroyed about 3500 villages laid waste the whole place, every conceivable form of torture and massacre you can imagine, killed nobody knows how many people, we don’t count our victims, tens of thousands of people, how they were able to do that? The reason is because they were getting 80% of their arms from Clinton and as the atrocities increased, the arms flow increased. In fact in one single year, 1997, Clinton sent more arms to Turkey than the entire Cold War period combined! Up until the counter-insurgency.

That was not reported in the West. You do not report your own crimes, that’s critical. And right in the midst of all of this, “how can we tolerate a couple of thousand people being killed in Kosovo, mixed guerillas and …” In fact the 50th Anniversary of NATO took place right in the middle of all of this. And there were lamentations about what was going on right across NATO’s border. Not a word about the much worse things going on inside NATO’s borders, thanks to the massive flow of arms from the United States. Now that’s only one case. Comparable things were going on all over where the U.S. were supportive of much worse, but this, you had to focus on this, that was the topic for “the herd of independent minds.” It played a crucial role in their self image because they had been going through a period of praising themselves for their magnificence in their “normative revolution” and their “noble phase” and so on and so forth, so it was a god-sent, and therefore you couldn’t ask any questions about it. Incidentally the same happened in the earlier phase of the Balkan wars. It was awful, and so on and so forth. However, but if you look at the coverage, for example there was one famous incident which has completely reshaped the Western opinion and that was the photograph of the thin man behind the barb-wire.

A fraudulent photograph, as it turned out.

You remember. The thin men behind the barb-wire so that was Auschwitz and ‘we can’t have Auschwitz again.’ The intellectuals went crazy and the French were posturing on television and the usual antics. Well, you know, it was investigated and carefully investigated. In fact it was investigated by the leading Western specialist on the topic, Philip Knightly, who is a highly respected media analyst and his specialty is photo journalism, probably the most famous Western and most respected Western analyst in this. He did a detailed analysis of it. And he determined that it was probably the reporters who were behind the barb-wire, and the place was ugly, but it was a refugee camp, I mean, people could leave if they wanted and, near the thin man was a fat man and so on, well and there was one tiny newspaper in England, probably three people, called LM which ran a critique of this, and the British (who haven’t a slightest concept of freedom of speech, that is a total fraud)…a major corporation, ITN, a big media corporation had publicized this, so the corporation sued the tiny newspaper for lible. Now the British libel laws were absolutely atrocious. The person accused has to prove that the, what he’s reporting is not done in malice and he can’t prove that. So and in fact when you have a huge corporation with batteries of lawyers and so on, carrying out a suit against the three people in the office, who probably don’t have the pocket-money, it’s obvious what is going to happen. Especially under these grotesque libel laws.

So yes, they were able to prove the little newspaper…and couldn’t prove it wasn’t done out of malice, they were put out of business. There was just euphoria in the left liberal British press. You’ve read The Guardian and The Observer, they thought it was wonderful.

Mentioning The Guardian, what you describe is…

Sorry, incidentally…, after they put the newspaper out of business under this utterly grotesque legal case of the British laws, the left liberal newspapers, like The Guardian were just in a state of euphoria about this wonderful achievement. They had managed to destroy a tiny newspaper because it questioned some image that they had presented and they were very proud of themselves for it, which was probably misunderstood or misinterpreted.

Well, Philip Knightly, he wrote a very harsh critique of the British media for behaving in this way, and tried to teach them an elementary lesson about freedom of speech. He also added that probably the photograph was misinterpreted. Couldn’t get published. Well, you know, that’s when Kosovo came along, it was the same thing. That you can not tell the truth about it, look I’ve gone through a ton of reporting on this, almost invariably they inverted the chronology. There were atrocities…

But after the bombing.

After the bombing. The way it’s presented is: the atrocities took place and then we had to bomb to prevent genocide, just inverted.

Let me ask you about the conduct of the actual war. You mentioned The Guardian, it’s interesting because you yourself had recently had an unpleasant experience…

Over this.

… when The Guardian misquoting you over Srebrenica. It misquoted you to make it appear as if you were questioning the Srebrenica massacre. But let me bring you back to the conduct of the actual war. That was another…

… the 1999 bombing.

The bombing, which was also overlooked or selectively covered by the Western media in general. Now, Amnesty International, among others, reported that “NATO committed serious violations of the rules of war during its campaign”, numerous human rights groups concur and document various war crimes. One of them had its anniversary two days ago, when the Radio Television Serbia was bombed, the national television, its headquarters, killing 16 people. First of all, why were these crimes completely unreported, and secondly, is there any prospects for there being any responsibility taken for these crimes?

I’d say the crimes were reported but they were cheered. It’s not that they were unknown, like the bombing of the radio station, yes, it was reported and the TV station, but it’s fine. Because the TV station was described as a propaganda outlet, so therefore it was right to bomb. That happens all the time. It just happened last year, in November 2004. One of the worst war crimes in Iraq…

Al Jazeera …

… was invasion of Falluja. Al Jazeera’s one thing, but there was worse. The invasion of Falluja was kind of similar to Srebrenica, if you look, but … They invaded Falluja; the first thing the invading troops did, U.S. troops, was to take over the general hospital and throw the patients on the floor, they were taken out their beds, put on the floor, hands tied on their backs, doctors thrown on the floor, hands on their backs, it was a picture of it in the front page of the The New York Times, they said it was wonderful.

The Geneva Convention forbids hospitals to be…

It’s a grave breach of the Geneva Conventions and George Bush should be facing the death penalty for that, even under the U.S. law. But it was presented, no mention of the Geneva Conventions, and it was presented as a wonderful thing, because the Falluja general hospital was a “propaganda center,” namely it was releasing casualty figures, so therefore it was correct to carry out a massive war crime.

Well, the bombing of the TV station was presented the same way. In fact, as I’m sure you recall, there was an offer from NATO that they would not bomb if they agreed to broadcast six hours of NATO propaganda. Well, this is considered quite right.

How can it be dealt with?

A group of international lawyers did appeal to the International Tribunal on the Yugoslavia. They presented a brief, saying they should look into NATO war crimes, but what they cited was reports from Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and admissions by the NATO command. That was what they presented, the…I am forgetting, but I think it was Karla Del Ponte at the time; she would not look at it, in violation of the laws of the Tribunal, because she “had faith in NATO.” And that was the answer.

Well, something else interesting happened after that: Yugoslavia did bring the case to the War Court…

Which also rejected the case.

The Court accepted it and in fact deliberated for a couple of years it may still be, but what is interesting is that the U.S. excused itself from the case and the Court accepted the excuse. Why?

Because Yugoslavia had mentioned the Genocide Convention and the U.S. did sign the Genocide Convention (after forty years), it ratified it, but it ratified it with reservation, saying “inapplicable to the United States”. So in other words, the United States is entitled to commit genocide, therefore and that was the case that the U.S. Justice Department of President Clinton’s brought to the World Court and the Court had to agree. If a country does not accept World Court jurisdiction, it has to be excluded, so the U.S. was excluded from the trial, on the grounds that it grants itself the right to commit genocide. Do you think this was reported here?

The World Court, though, excused itself from hearing the case trying the illegality of the war, on the grounds that Yugoslavia was not a full member of the United Nations at the time when the case was brought to the…

Maybe they’ve finally reached that…

…they finally did that…

…for several years they were deliberating but that’s the sequence, does any of this get reported? You can ask your friends at Princeton, ask the faculty. They don’t know. I mean these… any more than… they will know that, they sort of probably remember the bombing, the capture of the General Hospital in Falluja but, was there any comment saying that was a war crime?

What struck me was that you compared the Srebrenica massacre with the Falluja invasion, why is that?

Because there are similarities.

Like what?

In the case of Srebrenica women and children were trucked out and then came, you know, the massacre. In the case of Falluja, the women and children were ordered out, they weren’t trucked out, they were ordered out, but the men weren’t allowed to leave and then came the attack. In fact, it turned out that the roads out were blocked.

Well, I mean all things, it’s not the same story, but that part is similar. I actually mentioned that a couple of times. Storms of protest hysteria, you know. Incidentally this Guardian affair – part of it which was totally fraud is on the part of the editors, not the reporter. They blamed it on the reporter, but it was the editors.

One other thing that they were infuriated about was that she asked me what about the thin man behind the barb-wire, isn’t that a horrible atrocity? I said well, you know, it’s not certain that it was correct. OK, that led to the hysteria. That’s when Philip Knightly tried to intervene to present once again his analysis and once again his critique of the media, but couldn’t. He is a very prominent, prestigious person. You just cannot break ranks; that’s not tolerated. I mean, we are lucky, we do not have censorship, it’s free society, but the self-censorship is overwhelming. Actually, Orwell once wrote about this, in something that nobody has read. Everyone has read Animal Farm and almost nobody has read the introduction to Animal Farm…

Unpublished.

Unpublished, came out in his unpublished papers, thirty years later. In it what he said is, Animal Farm is a satire of this totalitarian state, he said free England is not very different. In free England unpopular ideas can be suppressed without the use of force and he gave examples. It’s very similar here. And it does not matter how extreme they are, I mean the Iraq invasion is a perfect example.

There is not, you can not find anywhere in the main stream a suggestion that it is wrongful to invade another country. If you had invaded another country you have to pay reparations, you have to withdraw and the leadership has to be punished. I mean, and I don’t know if you have read the Nuremburg Judgments, but after the Nuremburg Judgments, Justice Jackson, Chief of Council of Prosecution of the U.S. Justice, made very, very eloquent statements about how we must…we are sentencing these people to death of the crimes for which they committed or crimes when anybody commits them, including when we commit them, we have to live up to that. He said “we are handing the defendants a poison chalice, and if we sipped from this chalice we must be treated the same way.” Can’t be more explicit!

They also defined aggression. Aggression was defined in terms which just apply absolutely and without exception not only to the invasion of Iraq but to all sorts of other invasions, in Vietnam and many others, actually even terrorist war against Nicaragua, technically falls under the crime of aggression as defined in Nuremburg.

Does the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia?

Yes. And that’s not even questioned. In fact there is a, there was a so-called, an Independent Commission of Inquiry on the Kosovo bombing led by a very respected South African jurist – Justice Goldstone – and they concluded that the bombing was, in their words, “illegal but legitimate”. Illegal makes it a war crime. But they said it was legitimate because it was necessary to stop genocide. And then comes the usual inversion of the history.

Actually, Justice Goldstone who was a respectable person, later recognized that the atrocities came after the bombing. And that they were furthermore the anticipated consequence, he did recognize that in a lecture in New York, couple of years ago, he said: “well, nevertheless we can take some comfort in the fact that Serbia was planning it anyway, and the proof for they were planning it is” guess what – “Operation Horse-Shoe”, – a probable intelligence fabrication that was publicized after the bombing, so even if it was true, it wouldn’t matter. And furthermore, even if that was true, it was a contingency plan. Now look, Israel has a contingency plans to drive all the Palestinians out of the West Bank if there is a conflict, so does that mean that Iran has the right to bomb Israel? Now, the U.S. has contingency plans to invade Canada, OK so does that mean that everybody has a right to bomb the United States?

That’s the last straw of justification on the part of a respectable person. But for the “herd of independent minds” it just does not matter. The bombing was because of their “high values”, and their “nobility” and was to stop genocide. Say anything else, you know… tons of vilification and abuse comes. But it’s not just on this issue, it’s on every issue. So try to bring up the idea…take, say, the Vietnam War, a lot of time has passed, a huge amount of scholarship, tons of documentation, blew up the country…

Let me just interrupt, I’m sorry, we won’t have time to go into that…

OK.

I want to ask you about some of the present developments that are being used again to fabricate a lot of these issues. Slobodan Milosevic died last month. What is the significance of his death in your view?

Milosevic was, he committed many crimes, not a nice person, terrible person, but the charges against him would have never have held up. He was originally indicted on the Kosovo charges. The indictment was issued right in the middle of bombing which already nullifies it. It used British, it admittedly used British and the U.S. intelligence right in the middle of bombing, can’t possibly take it seriously. However if you look at the indictment, it was for crimes committed after the bombing. There was one exception: Racak. Let’s even grant that the claims are true, let’s put that aside. So, there was one exception, no evidence that he was involved or you know, it took place,

But almost the entire indictment was for after the bombing. How are those charges going to stand up unless you put Bill Clinton and Tony Blair on the dock alongside? Then they realized that it was a weak case. So they added the early Balkan wars, OK? Lot of horrible things happened there. But the worst crime, the one that they were really going to charge him for that genocide was Srebrenica.

Now, there is a little problem with that: namely there was an extensive, detailed inquiry into it by the Dutch Government, which was the responsible government, there were Dutch forces there, that’s a big, you know, hundreds of pages inquiry, and their conclusion is that Milosevic did not know anything about that, and that when it was discovered in Belgrade, they were horrified. Well, suppose that had entered into the testimony?

Does this mean that you are a “Milosevic sympathizer”?

No, he was terrible. In fact he should have been thrown out, in fact he probably would have been thrown out and in the early nineties if the Albanians had voted, it was pretty close. He did all sorts of terrible things but it wasn’t a totalitarian state, I mean, there were elections, there was the opposition, a lot of rotten things, but there are rotten things everywhere and I certainly wouldn’t want to have dinner with him or talk to him, and yes, he deserves to be tried for crimes, but this trial was never going to hold up, if it was even semi-honest. It was a farce; in fact they were lucky that he died.

In what sense?

Because they did not have to go through out the whole trial. Now they can, you can build up an image about how he would have been convicted as another Hitler.

Had he lived.

But now they don’t have to do it.

I just want to bring you back to the bombing of the RTS. Some have argued that this particular act of NATO’s in 1999 set precedants for targeting of media by the United States afterward – in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq – that it set a precedant for legitimizing media houses and labeling them as propaganda in order to bomb them in U.S. invasions. Do you make any connection there?

Well, I mean, the chronology is correct. But I don’t think they need excuses. The point is: you bomb anybody you want to. Let’s take 1998, so it was before. Now in 1998, here’s another thing you’re not allowed to say in the States and the West that leads to hysteria, but I’ll say it – in 1998 Clinton bombed the major pharmaceutical plant in the Sudan, OK? That was, this is the plant that’s using the most of the pharmaceuticals and veterinary medicines for poor African country that’s under embargo, can’t replace it. What’s that going to do? Obviously they killed unknown numbers of people, in fact the U.S. barred an investigation by the UN so we don’t know and of course you don’t want to investigate your own crimes, but there were some evidence. So the German Ambassador, who is a fellow at the Harvard University to Sudan wrote an article in Harvard International Review in which he estimated the casualties in the tens of thousands of deaths. The research of the Head of the Near East Foundation, a very respectable foundation, their regional director had field work in Somalia and in Sudan, he did the study, he came out with the same conclusions, probably tens of thousands of dead.

Right after the bombing, within weeks, Human Rights Watch issued a warning that it was going to be a humanitarian catastrophe and gave examples of aid workers being pulled out from areas where people were dying and so on. You can not mention this. Any mention of this brings the same hysteria, as criticizing the bombing of the TV station. So it’s unmentionable, it is a Western crime and therefore it was legitimate.

Let’s just suppose that Al Quaida blew up half the pharmaceutical supplies in the U.S., or England or Israel or any country in which people lived. Human beings, not ants, people. Fine. Can you imagine the reaction, we’d probably have a nuclear war, but when we do it to a poor African country – didn’t happen! Not discussed, in fact the only issue that is discussed if there is discussion is whether the intelligence was correct when it claimed that it was also producing chemical weapons. That is the only question. Mention anything else, the usual hysteria, and tirades…This is a very disciplined, Western intellectual culture is extremely disciplined. And rigid. You can not go beyond fixed bounds. It’s not, you know, it’s not censored, it’s all voluntary but it’s true and it’s not, incidentally, not free societies like this. In fact the third world countries are different.

So take, say, Turkey, half third world; I mean in Turkey, the intellectuals, the leading intellectuals, now best known writers, academics, journalists, artists I mean they not only protest atrocities about the Kurdish massacre, they protest it constantly, but they were also constant in carrying out civil disobedience against them. I also participated with them sometimes. And they go publish banned writings which reported presented them to the Prosecutor’s Office, demand they were prosecuted. It’s not a joke, you know, facing… sometimes they are sent to prison, that’s no joke. There’s nothing like that in the West. Inconceivable.

When I am in Western Europe I hear them telling me Turkey is not civilized enough to enter the European Union. I burst out laughing! It’s the other way round.

Speaking of democratic movements, there was a…

[crew]: This is the last question.

[b] OK, two more quick questions; one: you mentioned the democratic movements in various countries. There was of course a promising democratic movement in Serbia before and, of course, during the bombing. And people like Wesley Clark had claimed that this bombing would be of benefit to the anti-Milosevic forces, when it of course turned out to be a disaster. Was this a sincere evaluation on behalf of NATO?

Well, I can’t look into their minds. When you commit a crime it is extremely easy to find a justification for it. That’s true of personal life; it’s true of international affairs. So yes, maybe they believed it. I mean, I think there’s convincing evidence that the Japanese fascists believed that they were doing good when they carried out things in the Second World War. John Stewart Mill surely believed he was being honorable and noble when he was calling for the conquest of India right after some of the worst atrocities which I mentioned, you can easily believe you are noble. I mean, to me it’s obvious that it was going to harm the democratic movement, I heard about it and I couldn’t get much information but it was obvious that it was going to happen. I mean it is happening right now in Iran. There is a democratic movement in Iran, they are pleading with the United States not to maintain a harsh embargo, certainly not to attack, it is harming them, and it strengthens the most reactionary violent elements in the society, of course.

Let me ask you one final question about the future. Negotiations over Kosovo’s final status are under way right now, the United States is backing Agim Ceku, who was someone involved in ethnic cleansing not only in…

Not someone. He was a war criminal himself. What about the Krajina expulsion, which he was….

First of all, what do you see as an appropriate, realistic solution for the final status of Kosovo and how does that differ from what the United States is now promoting?

My feeling has been for a long time that the only realistic solution is one that in fact was offered by the President of Serbia I think back round 1993 [Chomsky is referring to the proposal of former Serbian President of Yugoslavia, Dobrica Cosic], namely some kind of partition, with the Serbian, by now very few Serbs left but the, what were the Serbian areas being part of Serbia and the rest be what they called “independent” which means it’ll join Albania. I just don’t see…I didn’t see any other feasible solution ten years ago.

Shall we wrap up? Professor Chomsky, thank you very much. [read more]

 


Medical imaging radiation causes DNA damage and cancer; doctors prescribe more; Big Pharma gets richer

 

The health risks associated with radiation exposure, whether it comes from cancer treatments or medical imaging scans, are much more significant than most people probably think. The latest published data on radiation exposure suggests that roughly 25,000 Americans develop cancer every year as a result of medical radiation exposure, and many more experience DNA damage that could eventually lead to the development of cancer and other health problems in the long term.

Every year, millions of Americans opt to undergo computed tomography (CT), positron emission tomography (PET), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), and X-ray scans for medical purposes, thinking that by doing so, they are keeping up with the latest technologies in advanced medical care. But each time medical patients get one of these scans, their bodies sustain varying levels of ionizing radiation, the negative effects of which can take years to manifest as they build up cumulatively over time.

CT scans, which are a relatively modern medical imaging technology, are particularly problematic as they emit far higher doses of radiation than traditional x-rays do. Based on the figures, a single CT scan can blast up to 500 times the amount of radiation released by a single x-ray, an astounding level when considering how gratuitously CT scans are administered within the medical profession today.

In a new study recently published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), it is reported that the use of all medical imaging scans, including CT scans, has risen dramatically between 1996 and 2010. The use of CT scans in particular, more than tripled during this time, which is in large part responsible for doubling the proportion of patients now receiving what is considered to be “high” or “very high” radiation doses on a regular basis.

Overuse of CT scans causing significant uptick in cancer rates
Failing to recognize the long-term health consequences of repeated and perpetual exposure among their patients, many doctors needlessly order CT scans for patients who do not need them, or order multiple scans when only one is necessary. Data compiled from outpatient claims filed through Medicare, for instance, reveals that CT scans are routinely overused at hundreds of hospitals across the country, and that patients are needlessly “double scanned” more than 80 percent of the time. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/health/18radiation.html)

The high cost of CT scanning equipment has also led to an epidemic of unnecessary CT scans at private practices as well. Because they know that, most of the time, insurance companies and government health programs will reimburse them, many doctors simply default to CT scans whenever there is even a remote possibility that they might be useful — and oftentimes these doctors double-up on scans as well, even though this is almost never medically necessary.

“Double scans expose patients to extra radiation while heaping millions of dollars in extra costs on an already overburdened Medicare program,” wrote Walt Bogdanich and Jo Craven McGinty in the NYT, concerning CT scan abuse within government healthcare.

Besides the added costs to the medical system, medical imaging overuse is destroying the physical health of many Americans. According to data compiled by Jane Brody over at the New York Times (NYT), radiation exposure from medical scans now accounts for 1.5 percent of all cancers that occur in the U.S. Based on figures released by the American Cancer Society (ACS), this translates to about 24,583 Americans that develop cancer every year as a result of Western medicine. (http://www.cancer.org/Research/CancerFactsFigures/ACSPC-031941)

“All imaging has increased, but CTs account for the bulk of it,” said Dr. Rebecca Smith-Bindman, a specialist in radiology and biomedical imaging at the University of California – San Francisco (UCSF) to the NYT. “There’s clearly widespread overuse. More than 10 percent of patients each year are receiving very high radiation exposures.”

Some doctors refusing to provide care unless patients submit to imaging scans
Despite their known dangers, CT and other risky imaging scans are often pushed on patients by doctors who refuse to provide care unless patients submit to their orders. Presumably to protect themselves against litigation, many doctors will insist that their patients undergo multiple imaging scans in order to confirm a medical condition, even when doing so puts patient safety at risk.

Fortunately, many health insurers are now taking notice of this rampant abuse, and are putting policy measures in place to discourage it. These include requiring preauthorizations before patients can receive scans, for instance, or restricting who can administer the scans, and on what types of equipment.

Sources for this article include:

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com

Learn more: http://www.naturalnews.com/037023_medical_imaging_radiation_DNA_damage.html#ixzz25nIkHpbJ

 


Man-made earthquakes at what cost?

 

Man-made earthquakes are real, they are proliferating across the U.S. Midwest, and the oil and gas industry is “almost certainly” responsible.

Those are the latest conclusions scientists with the U.S. Geological Survey will be discussing at a seismology conference next week. Their more reassuring message: none of the man-made tremors have been big enough to knock down any buildings — so far.

The nation’s midsection is typically quiet, geologically speaking. So when USGS seismologist Bill Ellsworth noticed an unusual number of earthquakes in that region about 12 years ago, he wanted to know why.

Ellsworth, who is based at the USGS office in Menlo Park, Ca., used ultra-sensitive quake-sensing technology to track mid-western tremors over the ensuing years. Then, in 2009, the rumbling increased.
“After that time, things really began to take off, and that’s what really caught our attention,” Ellsworth told NPR’s Christopher Joyce. “It is really quite surprising.”

Ellsworth and his colleagues watched the number of quakes jump from a steady background of 20 tremors a year to 50 in 2009, 87 in 2011 and a whopping 134 last year. Clearly, something strange was going on.

The thick basement rock underlying the U.S. Midwest is full of faults, just like basement rock everywhere. But earthquakes only happen when something changes the stress regime enough to unlock those faults. In quake-prone places such as California and Japan, the edges of tectonic plates are shoving past each other. Near active volcanoes, magma presses on the rocks as it pushes its way up from below.

“A naturally-occurring rate change of this magnitude is unprecedented outside of volcanic settings or in the absence of a main shock, of which there were neither in this region,” Ellsworth notes in the summary of his conference presentation. That is why he and his team conclude that the startling increase is “almost certainly man-made.”

That’s where the oil and gas industry comes in. From experiences with dams, scientists known that one man-made way to unlock a fault is to lubricate it. In the past year, several studies have blamed a natural-gas-extraction technique known as fracking for quakes. That process requires prospectors to pump billions of gallons of water a year deep underground. Forced underground under high pressure, the water cracks open the rocks and releases natural gas trapped in small pockets within them.

But Ellsworth’s closer inspection revealed that many of the new quakes were clustering not around the drilling sites but instead around wastewater wells, the much deeper holes where companies dump the salty frack water once it has been used.

“Waste wells have been around for decades. There are tens of thousands of waste wells in the country, but very few quakes,” NPR’s Christopher Joyce explained in his interview with Ellsworth. “What’s changed is that the gas industry is using—and disposing of—more water. Waste wells are often deeper than gas drilling wells, down into basement rock where faults are more common.”

Scientists outside of the current study point out that we don’t know with absolute certainty that a given wastewater well caused a particular earthquake. But it seems we know plenty to merit keeping a very close eye on the situation.

The largest quakes clustering around wastewater wells in Ellsworth’s study were only a magnitude 4, enough energy to impart a strong jolt to anyone standing right above it but not enough to damage a building. The public may not be so generous if larger quakes start being implicated.

In January, President Obama rejected an application to build the full Keystone XL oil pipeline, intended to transport Canada’s oil sands some 2,000 miles to refineries near the Gulf of Mexico. Yet on Thursday he stood in front of acres of stacked pipeline pieces in Cushing, Okla., and declared that expedited construction of the southern leg of the pipeline is a priority for his administration.

“And as long as I’m president, we’re going to keep on encouraging oil development and infrastructure, and we’re going to do it in a way that protects the health and safety of the American people,” he said to an invited audience of about 200 people. “We don’t have to choose between one or the other, we can do both.”

Not everyone is convinced we can really have it both ways. Among the doubters is Becky Bond, political director of Credo Action, part of a coalition of environmental groups that issued a joint statement of opposition.

“The president needs to prove that his initial rejection of Keystone XL wasn’t simply a ploy to placate the environmental voters who dared to hold him to his own rhetoric about the need for real leadership on climate and our fossil fuel dependence,” Bond told The New York Times.

This news broke the same day another story in The New York Times asserted that the U.S. is inching its way toward its long-touted dream of energy independence. OK, but at what cost?

At face value, it seems like good news that the U.S. imported only 45 percent of the liquid fuels it used in 2011, down from a record high of 60 percent in 2005. An uplifting part of the reason for this turnabout is that Americans are pumping less gasoline (not only because of the recession and high gas prices but also because they are also driving fewer miles in more fuel-efficient vehicles). But that’s not all that’s going on.

Reporters Clifford Krauss and Eric Lipton Krauss point out two other key factors: “ … industry-friendly policies started by President Bush and largely continued by President Obama — many over the objections of environmental advocates — as well as technological advances that have allowed the extraction of oil and gas once considered too difficult and too expensive to reach.”

Indeed, areas of west Texas and eastern New Mexico are experiencing a new energy rush, with prosperity spilling far beyond the oil fields: “In nearby towns, petroleum companies are buying so many pickup trucks that dealers are leasing parking lots the size of city blocks to stock their inventory. Housing is in such short supply that drillers are importing contractors from Houston, and hotels are leased out before they are even built,” Krauss and Lipton report.

Yet every boom has its loser, and in this case it is no doubt the environment. Fracking requires huge quantities of water, which is hard to come by in the desert. If fracking continues expanding, water experts say aquifers in the desert area could run dry. And that’s just one among the litany of concerns.

Before you go hoping that the silver lining of this story might be cheaper prices at the pump, recall the complications of a global market. Even though Americans and Europeans are consuming less oil, the rest of the world is on a steep rise in consumption. That critical factor, combined with the U.S.’ current political standoff with Iran and supply disruptions in Africa, easily offsets the impact of increased domestic supply.Source

 


Greece’s Lenders Have The Right To Seize National Gold Reserves

 

Submitted by GoldCore

Greece’s Lenders Have The Right To Seize National Gold Reserves

Gold’s London AM fix this morning was USD 1,776.50, EUR 1,334.41, and GBP 1,130.45 per ounce.

Yesterday’s AM fix was USD 1,754.75, EUR 1,325.04, and GBP 1,116.32 per ounce.

Spot gold hit a 3 month high of $1,781.40/oz yesterday rising for the third day in a row. Gold has consolidated on those gains in Asia and Europe.

Cross Currency Table – (Bloomberg)

Gold broke through resistance at $1,763/oz around 1800 GMT yesterday and in minutes quickly surged to $1,770/oz and then over $1,780/oz.

With recent resistance breached at $1,763/oz, gold could reach the psychological resistance of $1,800/oz very shortly – we are only 1.3% below that level now.

All major currencies fell against gold yesterday and the Japanese yen and British pound both took a pummelling and were more down 2% down against gold.

Gold is again signalling in advance coming fiscal issues in the UK and Japan. In February alone, the yen is down a substantial 7% against gold and in the last 7 weeks since the start of 2012, the yen has fallen a whopping 15.5% against gold.

Yen gold strength is a precursor to the coming Japanese fiscal crisis. It likely also signals that gold is soon to break out in dollars and other currencies.

XAU-JPY Exchange Rate Daily – (Bloomberg)

Global equity markets are showing jitters after disappointing economic data out of Europe and China and the threats by Russia’s Foreign Minister over Iran, leading to concerns that a serious confrontation is possible. Conflict in the region will of course send investors towards the safe havens of gold and silver bullion.

The US existing home sales were smaller than expected in January and this contributed to the weakness in equity markets. There is also continuing concern that the latest Greek debt package has not addressed Greece’s deep structural challenges.

The current economic environment is good for gold. As long as governments continue to print money in an attempt to pull us out of this downturn, gold will continue to shine.

The New York Times reports that Greece’s lenders may have the right to seize the Bank of Greece’s gold reserves.

Ancient Greek Gold Coin of Alexander the Great

“Ms. Katseli, an economist who was labor minister in the government of George Papandreou until she left in a cabinet reshuffle last June, was also upset that Greece’s lenders will have the right to seize the gold reserves in the Bank of Greece under the terms of the new deal.”

The Reuters Global Gold Forum confirms that in the small print of the Greek “bailout” is a provision for the creditors to seize Greek national gold reserves. Reuters correspondents in Athens have not got confirmation that this is the case so they are, as ever, working hard to pin that down.

Greece owns just some 100 tonnes of gold. According to IMF data, for some reason over the last few months Greece has bought and sold the odd 1,000 ounce lot of its gold bullion reserves. A Reuter’s correspondent notes that “these amounts are so tiny that it could well be a rounding issue, rather than holdings really rising or falling.”

While many market participants would expect that Greece’s gold reserves would be on the table in the debt agreement, it is the somewhat covert and untransparent way that this is being done that is of concern to Greeks and to people who believe in the rule of law.

Recent months have seen many senior German government officials calling for so called “PIIGS” nations gold reserves to be used as collateral. Such as Angela Merkel’s budget speaker and his opposition counterpart who urged Portugal to consider selling their gold.

Norbert Barthle, Germany’s governing coalition budget speaker and his counterpart Carsten Schneider from the Social Democrats, the biggest opposition party, urged Portugal to consider selling some of its gold reserves to ease its debt problems. They called for a review of Portugal’s request for financial aid to include gold and other potential asset sales.

The Irish Times reported in November that EU finance ministers’ discussed a wider strategy by the ECB to sound out the possibility of gaining control over the gold reserves of the euro zone’s central banks.

Senior German politician, Gunther Krichbaum, a lawmaker in German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s governing coalition and Chairman of the Committee on the Affairs of the European Union of the German Bundestag has proposed late last year that Italy sell its sizeable gold reserves in order to lower its debt.

Gold’s importance as debt and third party risk free collateral and as the ultimate form of money is increasing by the day.

While Greece’s gold reserves are very small – Greece’s creditors and senior German and EU financial officials clearly understand the value and monetary and strategic importance of Greece and the other heavily indebted European nations gold reserves.

For breaking news and commentary on financial markets and gold, follow us on Twitter.

OTHER NEWS
(Bloomberg) — Gold Rises to Three-Month High on Stimulus Bets, Computer Trades Gold futures jumped to a three-month high on speculation that the U.S. will extend a stimulus to bolster the economy, while automatic purchases by computer programs may have contributed to the rally.

The Federal Reserve may extend a program known as Operation Twist, or the exchange of $400 billion in short-term debt for longer-term Treasureis, beyond June 30, the Financial Times said. Computer orders triggered more purchases starting around 1 p.m. New York time, said Phil Streible, a senior commodity broker at R.J. O’Brien & Associates in Chicago.

“Some people started buying on expectations of further credit easing and then we saw an unusual accumulation caused by the technical buying” Streible said in a telephone interview.

(Bloomberg) — Gold May Reach $1,975 an Ounce in 2012, FCStone’s Rhodes Says
Gold may climb to $1,975 an ounce in 2012, said Jeffrey Rhodes, INTL FCStone Inc.’s global head of precious metals. The metal is expected to average $1,727 this year, Rhodes said at a conference in Singapore today. Rhodes forecast that silver may reach $50.25 an ounce in 2012 and average the year at $36.25.

SILVER
Silver is trading at $34.52/oz, €25.98/oz and £21.97/oz.

PLATINUM GROUP METALS
Platinum is trading at $1,729.00/oz, palladium at $711.00/oz and rhodium at $1,500/oz

NEWS
(Reuters)

 


Big Brother is Watching ,Stay Alert

 

By Dr. Mercola

Big Brother is watching. No kidding. And the warning is coming from none other than Google, which says government spies may be spying on you. Some believe the Google announcement may be related to the recent discovery of the data-mining virus named “Flame.” In a June 3 New York Times article, Andrew Kramer and Nicole Perlroth write1:

“When Eugene Kaspersky, the founder of Europe’s largest antivirus company, discovered the Flame virus that is afflicting computers in Iran and the Middle East, he recognized it as a technologically sophisticated virus that only a government could create.

He also recognized that the virus, which he compares to the Stuxnet virus built by programmers employed by the United States and Israel, adds weight to his warnings of the grave dangers posed by governments that manufacture and release viruses on the internet.

“Cyberweapons are the most dangerous innovation of this century,” he told a gathering of technology company executives… While the United States and Israel are using the weapons to slow the nuclear bomb-making abilities of Iran, they could also be used to disrupt power grids and financial systems or even wreak havoc with military defenses.”

Mr. Kaspersky claims he was called in to investigate the new virus on behalf of the International Telecommunication Union, an agency of the United Nations. The virus was allegedly erasing files on computers belonging to the Iranian oil ministry.

What makes the Flame virus a major potential concern for common citizens of the world is the fact that it’s the first virus found with the ability to spread wirelessly by attaching itself to Bluetooth-enabled devices.

Once there, it can not only trace and steal information stored on those devices; according to Kramer and Perlroth the program also contains a “microbe” command that can activate any microphone within the device, record whatever is going on at the time—presumably whether you’re actually using the device or not—and transmit audio files back to the attacker. This, clearly, has huge privacy implications were it to be deployed against civilian populations.

New Revelations about the Links Between Flame and Stuxnet

While cybersecurity experts initially claimed there were no links between the earlier Stuxnet worm and the Flame virus, a recent article on The Verge now reports that the two are undoubtedly related2. Joshua Kopstein writes:

“[I]n examining an earlier version of Stuxnet, the lab’s researchers now find that they were wrong: a previously overlooked module within the virus is now providing the “missing link” between the two pieces of malware. The module in question… matches very closely with a module used by an early version Flame. “It was actually so similar, that it made our automatic system classify it as Stuxnet,” wrote Alexander Gostev… indicating that the module was likely the seed of both viruses. “We think it’s actually possible to talk about a ‘Flame’ platform, and that this particular module was created based on its source code.”

The new evidence suggests that Stuxnet and Flame are two sides of the same coin, with the former built for sabotage and the latter for surveillance. But researchers also say that the Flame platform pre-dated Stuxnet and its sister, Duqu, and was likely built in the Summer of 2008.”

InformationWeek Security recently offered the following advice3:”… Microsoft has been working quickly to patch the certificate bug exploited by Flame. Notably, Microsoft released an update Friday [June 8] for Windows Server Update Services (WSUS) 3.0 Service Pack 2 (SP2), which according to the release notes “strengthens the WSUS communication channels … [by] trusting only files that are issued by the Microsoft Update certification authority.”

Microsoft is also set to issue an update Tuesday–as part of its monthly Patch Tuesday–that will further update all supported versions of Windows to block Flame. Security experts are recommending that all users install the update as soon as possible, since attackers will likely attempt to use the certificate vulnerability before it becomes widely patched. “Apply the certificate patch released a week ago today if you haven’t done so already,” said SANS Institute chief research officer Johannes B. Ullrich in a blog post. “This way, no patch signed by the bad certificate should be accepted tomorrow. Patch Tuesday is one of the best dates to launch such an attack, as you do expect patches anyway.”

When installing the update, however, do so preferably only if using a trusted environment. “Avoid patches while ‘on the road.’ Apply them in your home [or] work network whenever possible,” said Ullrich. “This doesn’t eliminate the chance of a ‘man in the middle’ (MitM) attack, but it reduces the likelihood.”

For users who must update while on the road, perhaps because they travel frequently, always use a VPN connection back to the corporate network, said Ullrich, since hotel networks can be malware and attack hotbeds. “Hotel networks and public hotspots frequently use badly configured HTTP proxies that can be compromised and many users expect bad SSL certificates–because of ongoing MitM attacks,” he said.”

Spy Central: Utah

In related news, Wired Magazine recently reported that the US government is building a massive spy center, right in the heart of Mormon country, in Bluffdale, Utah4–so massive, in fact, that once finished, the facility will be five times larger than the US Capitol.

According to Wired Magazine:

“Under construction by contractors with top-secret clearances, the blandly named Utah Data Center is being built for the National Security Agency. A project of immense secrecy, it is the final piece in a complex puzzle assembled over the past decade. Its purpose: to intercept, decipher, analyze, and store vast swaths of the world’s communications as they zap down from satellites and zip through the underground and undersea cables of international, foreign, and domestic networks. The heavily fortified $2 billion center should be up and running in September 2013.

Flowing through its servers and routers and stored in near-bottomless databases will be all forms of communication, including the complete contents of private emails, cell phone calls, and Google searches, as well as all sorts of personal data trails—parking receipts, travel itineraries, bookstore purchases, and other digital “pocket litter.” It is, in some measure, the realization of the “total information awareness” program created during the first term of the Bush administration—an effort that was killed by Congress in 2003 after it caused an outcry over its potential for invading Americans’ privacy.

But “this is more than just a data center,” says one senior intelligence official who until recently was involved with the program. The mammoth Bluffdale center will have another important and far more secret role that until now has gone unrevealed. It is also critical, he says, for breaking codes.

And code-breaking is crucial, because much of the data that the center will handle—financial information, stock transactions, business deals, foreign military and diplomatic secrets, legal documents, confidential personal communications—will be heavily encrypted. According to another top official also involved with the program, the NSA made an enormous breakthrough several years ago in its ability to cryptanalyze, or break, unfathomably complex encryption systems employed by not only governments around the world but also many average computer users in the US.

The upshot, according to this official: “Everybody’s a target; everybody with communication is a target.”[Emphasis mine]

That about says it all. And for those of you still under the mistaken belief that the US government does not have the authority to spy on its citizens, consider the following:

“… [The NSA] has undergone the largest building boom in its history, including installing secret electronic monitoring rooms in major US telecom facilities. Controlled by the NSA, these highly secured spaces are where the agency taps into the US communications networks, a practice that came to light during the Bush years but was never acknowledged by the agency. The broad outlines of the so-called warrantless-wiretapping program have long been exposed…

In the wake of the program’s exposure, Congress passed the FISA Amendments Act of 2008, which largely made the practices legal. Telecoms that had agreed to participate in the illegal activity were granted immunity from prosecution and lawsuits. What wasn’t revealed until now, however, was the enormity of this ongoing domestic spying program.

For the first time, a former NSA official has gone on the record to describe the program, codenamed Stellar Wind, in detail…

As chief and one of the two cofounders of the agency’s Signals Intelligence Automation Research Center, [William] Binney and his team designed much of the infrastructure that’s still likely used to intercept international and foreign communications. He explains that the agency could have installed its tapping gear at the nation’s cable landing stations—the more than two dozen sites on the periphery of the US where fiber-optic cables come ashore.

If it had taken that route, the NSA would have been able to limit its eavesdropping to just international communications, which at the time was all that was allowed under US law.

Instead it chose to put the wiretapping rooms at key junction points throughout the country… thus gaining access to not just international communications but also to most of the domestic traffic flowing through the US. The network of intercept stations goes far beyond the single room in an AT&T building in San Francisco exposed by a whistle-blower in 2006. “I think there’s 10 to 20 of them,” Binney says… The eavesdropping on Americans doesn’t stop at the telecom switches. To capture satellite communications in and out of the US, the agency also monitors AT&T’s powerful earth stations…

… Binney suggested a system for monitoring people’s communications according to how closely they are connected to an initial target. The further away from the target—say you’re just an acquaintance of a friend of the target—the less the surveillance. But the agency rejected the idea, and, given the massive new storage facility in Utah, Binney suspects that it now simply collects everything…”

To learn more, I highly recommend reading the featured Wired article5 in its entirety. It’s a fascinating read, but it will not likely make you sleep better at night. The full article is available on their website and is free to view.

Google Also in the Privacy News

Beginning the first week of June, Google will warn you every time it picks up activity on your computer account that looks suspiciously like someone trying to monitor your computer activities. Google won’t say how it figured out that state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer. But it’s promised to let you know if it thinks Big Brother is tuned in to what you’re doing.

As recently reported on the New York Times’ blog6, the warning will pop up at the top of your Gmail inbox, Google home page, or Chrome browser, stating:

“Warning: We believe state-sponsored attackers may be attempting to compromise your account or computer.”

According to a Google blog post by Eric Grosse, VP of Security Engineering at Google7:

“If you see this warning it does not necessarily mean that your account has been hijacked. It just means that we believe you may be a target, of phishing or malware for example, and that you should take immediate steps to secure your account.

Here are some things you should do immediately: create a unique password that has a good mix of capital and lowercase letters, as well punctuation marks and numbers; enable 2-step verification as additional security; and update your browser, operating system, plugins, and document editors.

Attackers often send links to fake sign-in pages to try to steal your password, so be careful about where you sign in to Google and look for https://accounts.google.com/ in your browser bar. These warnings are not being shown because Google’s internal systems have been compromised or because of a particular attack.”

The Next Big War Zone = the Internet

Unless you’ve been living under a rock this past year, you’ve surely heard about the repeated attempts to restrict your online freedom and grant government near limitless control over the internet and its content.

It began in January with the introduction of two proposed laws in US Congress: the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA), and the Protect IP Act (PIPA). While “sold” as laws to address online copyright infringement, most of which allegedly arise from outside the US, both laws contained measures capable of severely restricting online freedom of speech and harm web sites and online communities of all kinds, including this one. After tens of millions of people rose up in various protests, both online and by hitting the pavement, both bills were “indefinitely postponed.”

Many have warned, however, that the bills are not “dead” and are likely to return.

It didn’t take long for the next round. In April, the Cyber Intelligence Sharing and Protection Act (CISPA) was brought forth, and quickly became described by opponents as an even greater threat to internet freedom than SOPA and PIPA. I won’t go into any detailed discussion on these bills here, but simply want to bring your attention to the fact that bills such as these three, while dressed up as laws that will protect you and save you money, are poorly guised attempts to gut privacy laws and open the door for a totalitarian takeover of the internet and its content.

Campaign for Liberty8 is continuing its fight to stop another government intrusion, warning that this coming December, the United Nations will also be meeting to compile even more recommendations for international internet regulations.

While it may seem hopeless at times, I urge you to take an active role anytime the opportunity presents itself to take a stand. I personally believe internet freedom and health freedom go hand in hand these days, as a majority of people get a majority of their health information from freely available web sites such as mine.

Right now, you can sign the Campaign for Liberty Protect Internet Freedom Mandate.

If Squelching In formation Freedom Doesn ‘t Work, What’s Next?

The draconian advancements in surveillance do not end with the erection of a massive spy central and ever-increasing attacks on internet freedom. We also have some 63 drone launch sites within the US9, and the US military has admitted it now has drone technology in the form of tiny mechanical insects, equipped with cameras, microphones, and DNA sampling capabilities10.

Besides that, there’s an ever-expanding arsenal of so-called “active denial weapons”—directed energy weapons that can scatter or incapacitate those in its path, by a variety of means11. Such weapons are already being used domestically by various law enforcement agencies for crowd control. Then there are more sinister signs of readiness for domestic combat. In April, news reports began circulating questioning the Department of Homeland Security’s rationale for purchasing 450 million rounds of hollow point bullets12

A report by RT News reads:

“The department has yet to discuss why they are ordering such a massive bevy of bullets for an agency that has limited need domestically for doing harm, but they say they expect to continue receiving shipments from the manufacturer for the next five years, during which they plan to blow through enough ammunition to execute more people than there are in the entire United States.

… the choice — and quantity — of its hollow point order raises a lot of questions about future plans for the DHS… On their website, the contractor claims that the ammunition is specifically designed so that it can pass through a variety of obstructions and offers “optimum penetration for terminal performance.” Or, in other words, this is the kind of bullet designed to stop any object dead in its tracks and, if emptied into the hands of the DHS a few hundred million times, just might do as much.

… As the DHS gains more and more ground in fighting terrorism domestically, the US at the same time has turned the tables to make its definition of terrorist way less narrow. With any American blogger or free thinking on the fringe of what the government can go after under H.R. 347, or the National Defense Authorization Act that allows for the indefinite detention of US citizens without charge, the DHS could just be blasting through what’s left of its budget to make sure that its roster of agents across the country can get in their target practice over the next few years.”

Without Online Freedom, You Cannot Exercise Health Freedom

Some of you may at this point wonder why I report on an issue such as this, so let me make this point clear. Access to health information could easily be deemed a “threat” to national welfare—especially when web sites such as this one publish information that contradicts the official government stance. Examples such as advising women against national mammography screening standards, or raising concerns about vaccine safety, or questioning conventional cancer treatments could all be considered a threat to an extremely profitable status quo.

In such a scenario, they could simply shut Mercola.com, and others like us, down; leaving you with no truth-telling, corruption-exposing, alternative voices other than the officially sponsored viewpoint. And it should be quite clear by now that the government-sanctioned stance on most issues relating to health and diet are primarily dictated by powerful lobbying groups furthering financially-driven industry agendas that have absolutely nothing to do with optimizing health and longevity.

Don’t Be Fooled—Internet Security Bills are Likely Nothing of the Sort

Interestingly enough, CISPA is promoted primarily as a cyber security bill, which brings us full circle back to where this article started. Recall, the Flame virus has surveillance capabilities that far surpass previous viruses and worms that may collect or destroy data. In fact, its capability to transfer to Bluetooth-enabled gadgets and secretly activate microphones renders it perfect for spying on anyone and everyone, anywhere, at any time… which is exactly the plan, if you believe the information detailed in the featured Wired Magazine article above.

It’s interesting to note the rationale used when trying sell us this bill. According to an April 26 report in the International Business Times13:

“Co-sponsor Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, D-Md., says CISPA provides essential tools for repelling online security threats: “Without important, immediate changes to American cyber security policy, I believe our country will continue to be at risk for a catastrophic attack on our nation’s vital networks, networks that power our homes, provide our clean water or maintain the other critical services we use every day.”

Sounds like he was talking about an eventuality just like the Flame virus, or the older Stuxnet worm, for that matter—both of which, incidentally, appear to have targeted Iranian oil- and nuclear facilities, and neither of which has been officially traced back to any country or agency, despite our already overwhelming security apparatus—just over a month before Flame was discovered by a Russian antivirus company which, by the way, currently employs the virus hunter who discovered Stuxnet in 2010.

I’ll leave the meaning of such coincidences for you to ponder. But suffice it to say, it does not bode well if a law like CISPA is enacted that allows companies and governments to share information collected online, especially when combined with a massive data-mining virus that can skip around from one wireless piece of technology to another, from computers to cell phones to iPads, gathering data on every single social network contact every single person has, and audio files on every single conversation any one might have at any point in time. Especially now that we will shortly have the facility to store and “process” all that data.

In closing, I will simply urge you to take efforts at curbing online freedom and extending the government’s reach seriously, and whenever such efforts are launched, take action to help preserve your right to health freedom, which is closely tied to the right to online freedom of speech.

For right now, you can take a stand by signing the Campaign for Liberty Protect Internet Freedom Mandate. Source

 


Illegal eavesdropping on American citizens by the NSA: An Old Story

The recent revelations about illegal eavesdropping on American citizens by the U.S. National Security Agency have raised many questions about just what the agency is doing. Although the facts are just beginning to emerge, information that has come to light about the NSA’s activities and capabilities over the years, as well as the recent reporting by the New York Times and others, allows us to discern the outlines of what they are likely doing and how they are doing it.

The NSA is not only the world’s largest spy agency (far larger than the CIA, for example), but it possesses the most advanced technology for intercepting communications. We know it has long had the ability to focus powerful surveillance capabilities on particular individuals or communications. But the current scandal has indicated two new and significant elements of the agency’s eavesdropping:

The NSA has gained direct access to the telecommunications infrastructure through some of America’s largest companies
The agency appears to be not only targeting individuals, but also using broad “data mining” systems that allow them to intercept and evaluate the communications of millions of people within the United States.

The ACLU has prepared a map (see below) illustrating how all this is believed to work. It shows how the military spying agency has extended its tentacles into much of the U.S. civilian communications infrastructure, including, it appears, the “switches” through which international and some domestic communications are routed, Internet exchange points, individual telephone company central facilities, and ISPs. While we cannot be certain about these secretive links, this chart shows a representation of what is, according to recent reports, the most likely picture of what is going on.
Corporate Bedfellows

One major new element of the NSA’s spying machinery is its ability to tap directly into the major communications switches, routing stations, or access points of the telecommunications system. For example, according to the New York Times , the NSA has worked with “the leading companies” in the telecommunications industry to collect communications patterns, and has gained access “to switches that act as gateways” at “some of the main arteries for moving voice and some Internet traffic into and out of the United States.

 

 

This new level of direct access apparently includes both some of the gateways through which phone calls are routed, as well as other key nodes through which a large proportion of Internet traffic passes. This new program also recognizes that today’s voice and Internet communications systems are increasingly converging, with a rising proportion of even voice phone calls moving to the Internet via VOIP, and parts of the old telephone transmission system being converted to fiber optic cable and used for both data and voice communications. While data and voice sometimes travel together and sometimes do not, and we do not know exactly which “switches” and other access points the NSA has tapped, what appears certain is that the NSA is looking at both.

And most significantly, access to these “switches” and other network hubs give the agency access to a direct feed of all the communications that pass through them, and the ability to filter, sift through, analyze, read, or share those communications as it sees fit.
Data Mining

The other major novelty in the NSA’s activities appears to be the exploitation of a new concept in surveillance that has attracted a lot of attention in the past few years: what is commonly called “data mining.” Unlike the agency’s longstanding practice of spying on specific individuals and communications based upon some source of suspicion, data mining involves formula-based searches through mountains of data for individuals whose behavior or profile is in some way suspiciously different from the norm.

Data mining is a broad dragnet. Instead of targeting you because you once received a telephone call from a person who received a telephone call from a person who is a suspected terrorist, you might be targeted because the NSA’s computers have analyzed your communications and have determined that they contain certain words or word combinations, addressing information, or other factors with a frequency that deviates from the average, and which they have decided might be an indication of suspiciousness. The NSA has no prior reason to suspect you, and you are in no way tied to any other suspicious individuals — you have just been plucked out of the crowd by a computer algorithm’s analysis of your behavior.

Use of these statistical fishing expeditions has been made possible by the access to communications streams granted by key corporations. The NSA may also be engaging in “geographic targeting,” in which they listen in on communications between the United States and a particular foreign country or region. More broadly, data mining has been greatly facilitated by underlying changes in technology that have taken place in the past few years (see below).

This dragnet approach is not only bad for civil liberties — it is also a bad use of our scarce security and law enforcement resources. In fact, the creation of large numbers of wasteful and distracting leads is one of the primary reasons that many security experts say data mining and other dragnet strategies are a poor way of preventing crime and terrorism. The New York Times confirmed that point, with its report that the NSA has sent the FBI a “flood” of tips generated by mass domestic eavesdropping and data mining, virtually all of which led to dead ends that wasted the FBI’s resources. “We’d chase a number, find it’s a schoolteacher with no indication they’ve ever been involved in international terrorism,” one former FBI agent told the Times . “After you get a thousand numbers and not one is turning up anything, you get some frustration.”
Combining Telecommunications and Other Private Data?

The NSA has historically been in the business of intercepting and analyzing communications data. One question is whether or not this communications data is being combined with other intimate details about our lives. A few years ago, the Pentagon began work on an breathtaking data mining program called Total Information Awareness, which envisioned programming computers to trawl through an extensive list of information on Americans (including, according to the program’s own materials, “Financial, Education, Travel, Medical, Veterinary, Country Entry, Place/Event Entry, Transportation, Housing, Critical Resources, Government, Communications”) in the hunt for “suspicious” patterns of activity. Congress decisively rejected this approach, voting to shut down the program, at least for domestic use — but we know Congress allowed elements of the program to be moved undercover, into the bowels of the Pentagon, while supposedly being restricted to non-Americans. We also know that the NSA is sharing its information with other security services. What we do not know is whether any of information from TIA-like enterprises is being combined with the NSA’s communications intercepts.
How the NSA searches for targets

There are a range of techniques that are probably used by the NSA to sift through the sea of communications it steals from the world’s cables and airwaves:

Keywords. In this longstanding technique, the agency maintains a watch list or “dictionary” of key words, individuals, telephone numbers and presumably now computer IP addresses. It uses that list to pick out potentially relevant communications from all the data that it gathers. These keywords are often provided to the NSA by other security agencies, and the NSA passes the resulting intelligence “take” back to the other agencies or officials. According to the law, the NSA must strip out the names and other identifying information of Americans captured inadvertently, a process called “minimization.” (According to published reports, those minimization procedures are not being properly observed.) In the 1990s, it was revealed that the NSA had used the word “Greenpeace” and “Amnesty” (as in the human rights group Amnesty International) as keywords as part of its “Echelon” program (see below).
Link analysis. It is believed that another manner in which individuals are now being added to the watch lists is through a process often called “link analysis.” Link analysis can work like this: the CIA captures a terrorist’s computer on the battlefield and finds a list of phone numbers, including some U.S. numbers. The NSA puts those numbers on their watch list. They add the people that are called from those numbers to their list. They could then in turn add the people called from those numbers to their list. How far they carry that process and what standards if any govern the process is unknown.
Other screening techniques. There may be other techniques that the NSA could be using to pluck out potential targets. One example is voice pattern analysis, in which computers listen for the sound of, say, Osama Bin Laden’s voice. No one knows how accurate the NSA’s computers may be at such tasks, but if commercial attempts at analogous activities such as face recognition are any guide, they would also be likely to generate enormous numbers of false hits.

A three-stage process

So how are all these new techniques and capabilities being put into practice? Presumably, “The Program” (as insiders reportedly refer to the illegal practices) continues to employ watch lists and dictionaries. We do not know how the newer and more sophisticated link analysis and statistical data mining techniques are being used.

But, a good guess is that the NSA is following a three-stage process for the broadest portion of its sweep through the communications infrastructure:

The Dragnet: a search for targets. In this stage, the NSA sifts through the data coursing through the arteries of our telecom systems, making use of such factors as keyword searches, telephone number and IP address targeting, and techniques such as link analysis, and “data mining.” At this stage, the communications of millions of people may be scrutinized.
Human review: making the target list. Communications and individuals that are flagged by the system for one reason or another are presumably then subject to human review. An analyst looks at the origin, destination and content of the communication and makes a determination as to whether further eavesdropping or investigation is desired. We have absolutely no idea what kind of numbers are involved at this stage.
The Microscope: targeting listed individuals. Finally, individuals determined to be suspicious in phase two are presumably placed on a target list so that they are placed under the full scrutiny of the NSA’s giant surveillance microscope, with all their communications captured and analyzed.

Expanding surveillance as technology changes

Today’s NSA spying is a response to, and has been made possible by, some of the fundamental technological changes that have taken place in recent years. Around the end of 1990s, the NSA began to complain privately — and occasionally publicly — that they were being overrun by technology as communications increasingly went digital. One change in particular was especially significant: electronic communications ranging from email to voice conversations were increasingly using the new and different protocols of the Internet.

The consequence of this change was that the NSA felt it was forced to change the points in the communications infrastructure that it targeted — but having done that, it gained the ability to analyze vastly more and richer communications.

The Internet and technologies that rely upon it (such as electronic mail, web surfing and Internet-based telephones known as Voice over IP or VOIP) works by breaking information into small “packets.” Each packet is then routed across the network of computers that make up the Internet according to the most efficient path at that moment, like a driver trying to avoid traffic jams as he makes his way across a city. Once all the packets — which are labeled with their origin, destination and other “header” information — have arrived, they are then reassembled.

An important result of this technology is that on the Internet, there is no longer a meaningful distinction between “domestic” and “international” routes of a communication. It was once relatively easy for the NSA, which by law is limited to “foreign intelligence,” to aim its interception technologies at purely “foreign” communications. But now, an e-mail sent from London to Paris, for example, might well be routed through the west coast of the United States (when, for example, it is a busy mid-morning in Europe but the middle of the night in California) along the same path traveled by mail between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

That system makes the NSA all the more eager to get access to centralized Internet exchange points operated by a few telecommunications giants. But because of the way this technology works, eavesdropping on an IP communication is a completely different ballgame from using an old-fashioned “wiretap” on a single line. The packets of interest to the eavesdropper are mixed in with all the other traffic that crosses through that pathway — domestic and international.
Echelon

Much of what we know about the NSA’s spying prior to the recent revelations comes from the late 1990s, when a fair amount of information emerged about a system popularly referred to by the name “Echelon” — a codename the NSA had used at least at one time (although their continued use of the term, if at all, is unknown). Echelon was a system for mass eavesdropping on communications around the world by the NSA and its allies among the intelligence agencies of other nations. The best source of information on Echelon was two reports commissioned by the European Parliament (in part due to suspicions among Europeans that the NSA was carrying out economic espionage on behalf of American corporations). Other bits of information were gleaned from documents obtained through the U.S. Freedom of Information Act, as well as statements by foreign governments that were partners in the program (the UK, Australia, Canada, and New Zealand).

As of the late 1990s/early 2000s, Echelon swept up global communications using two primary methods:

The interception of satellite and microwave signals. One way that telephone calls and other communications are sent from the United States to Europe and other destinations is via satellite and microwave transmissions. ECHELON was known to use numerous satellite receivers (“dishes”) — located on the east and west coasts of the United States, in England, Australia, Germany, and elsewhere around the globe — to vacuum up the “spillover” broadcasts from these satellite transmissions.
Transoceanic cable tapping. ECHELON’s other primary eavesdropping method was to tap into the transoceanic cables that also carry phone calls across the seas. According to published reports, American divers were able to install surveillance devices onto these cables. One of these taps was discovered in 1982, but other devices apparently continued to function undetected. It is more difficult to tap into fiber-optic cables (which unlike other cables do not “leak” radio signals that can be picked up by a device attached to the outside of the cable), but there is no reason to believe that that problem remained unsolved by the agency.

We do not know the extent to which these sources of data continue to be significant for the NSA, or the extent to which they have been superseded by the agency’s new direct access to the infrastructure, including the Internet itself, over which both voice and data communications travel.
Unanswered questions

The bottom line is that the NSA appears to be capable not only of intercepting the international communications of a relatively small number of targeted Americans, but also of intercepting a sweeping amount of U.S. communications (through corporate-granted access to communications “pipes” and “boxes”), and of performing mass analysis on those communications (through data mining and other techniques).

Despite the fuzzy picture of “The Program” that we now possess, the current spying scandal has highlighted many unanswered questions about the NSA’s current activities. They include:

Just what kinds of communications arteries has the NSA tapped into?
What kinds of filters or analysis is the NSA applying to the data that flows through those arteries? How are data mining and other new techniques are being used?
Which telecom providers are cooperating with the NSA?
How are subjects selected for targeted intercepts?
What kinds of information exchange are taking place between the NSA and other security agencies? We know they probably turn over to other agencies any data turned up by watch list entries submitted by those other agencies, and they are also apparently passing along data mining-generated “cold hits” to the FBI and perhaps other security agencies for further investigation. Does information flow the other way as well — are other agencies giving data to the NSA for help in that second phase of deciding who gets put under the microscope?
Is data that NSA collects, under whatever rubric, being merged with other data, either by NSA or another agency? Is communications data being merged with other transactional information, such as credit card, travel, and financial data, in the fashion of the infamous “Total Information Awareness” data mining program? (TIA, while prohibited by Congress from engaging in “domestic” activities, still exists within the Pentagon — and can be used for “foreign intelligence purposes.)
Just how many schoolteachers and other innocent Americans have been investigated as a result of “The Program”? And just how much privacy invasion are they subject to before the FBI can conclude they are not “involved in international terrorism”?

Rarely if ever in American history has a government agency possessed so much power subject to so little oversight. Given that situation, abuses were inevitable — and any limits to those abuses a matter of mere good fortune. If our generation of leaders and citizens does not rise to the occasion, we will prove ourselves to be unworthy of the heritage that we have been so fortunate to inherit from our Founders.

Eric Lichtblau and James Risen, “Spy Agency Mined Vast Data Trove, Officials Report,” New York Times , December 24, 2005; http://select.nytimes.com/search/restricted/article?res=FA0714F63E540C778EDDAB0994DD404482

Lowell Bergman, Eric Lichtblau, Scott Shane and Don Van Natta Jr., “Spy Agency Data After Sept. 11 Led F.B.I. to Dead Ends,” New York Times , January 17, 2006; http://www.nytimes.com/2006/01/17/politics/17spy.html


8 Stories Buried By the Corporate Media That You Need to Know About

 

December 15, 2011 |

 

As 2011 comes to a close, we will see lists of the year’s most memorable events and most important people, as is the pattern every year. But not all stories are created equal. When the corporate media bury significant developments in the back pages of the paper or the second to last paragraph of an article, it’s easy for stories to go unnoticed.

As usual, this year was packed with critical, newsworthy and insufficiently covered stories that should have, but didn’t, make the front page. Below are eight explosive must-read stories of 2011 that you may have missed.

1) Our Planet Saw the Largest Increase in Carbon Emissions Since the Industrial Revolution

Global emissions of carbon dioxide increased 5.9 percent in 2010, the largest increase on record, according to Global Carbon Project, an international group of scientists tracking the numbers. This increase, reports the New York Times, is “almost certainly the largest absolute jump in any year since the Industrial Revolution, and the largest percentage increase since 2003.”

Another study, published in the journal Nature Geoscience, traces an estimated three-quarters of the planet’s warming since 1950 to human activities. On top of that, the World Meteorological Organization warned that 10 of the hottest years ever recorded have occurred in the last 15 years, with temperatures this year registering as the 10th highest on record.

It’s obvious that the world is getting warmer at an accelerating rate and it’s our fault. What are world leaders going to do about it? Wait another eight years to cut emissions.

These statistics were released before last week’s United Nations Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa, which ended with an agreement to kick the can down the road – they will negotiate a new climate treaty by 2015, which would postpone emission cuts until 2020.

To avoid the most devastating effects of climate change, we must limit the earth’s warming to 2°C. For that to happen, emission volumes cannot exceed 450 parts per million (ppm) of carbon dioxide. Since emissions have already reached 390 ppm, higher than any other time in recorded history, the International Energy Agency warns that action cannot be delayed past 2017. Based on the Durbin agreement, emissions won’t be cut until 2020.

Unless something drastic pushes our leaders to change the destructive path we’re on, 2011 may go down in the history books as the year that humans irreversibly screwed themselves and the planet.

2) Widespread Trafficking Of Iraqi Women And Girls Thanks To The Iraq War

Since the 2003 US invasion of Iraq, over 100,000 Iraqis have been killed and another 4.4 million displaced, leaving many women and girls widowed or orphaned.

As a result of the conflict more than 50,000 Iraqi women find themselves trapped in sexual servitude in Syria and Jordan, giving rise to a lucrative and growing sex industry that feeds off the chaos from the Iraq war.

Women and girls inside Iraq fare no better, often working in brothels run by female pimps. In an interview with the Inter Press Service, Rania, a former trafficker who now works as an undercover researcher for a women’s support group in Iraq, detailed a visit to “a house in Baghdad’s Al-Jihad district, where girls as young as 16 were held to cater exclusively to the U.S. military. The brothel’s owner told Rania that an Iraqi interpreter employed by the Americans served as the go-between, transporting girls to and from the U.S. airport base.”

Although human trafficking is illegal in Iraq, the country lacks a robust criminal justice system to enforce the law. Sadly, the victims of trafficking and prostitution are often the ones who are punished.

3) More Iraq Veterans Committed Suicide Last Year Than Active-Duty Troops Died In Combat

In 2010, 468 active duty and reserve troops committed suicide while 462 died in combat, marking the second year in a row that more US soldiers killed themselves than died at war, according to Congressional Quarterly’s John Donnelly.

Over the past decade, over 2,000 soldiers have taken their own lives, yet they receive little attention in our corporate media. In August the New York Times ran a story with the celebratory headline, “Iraq War Marks First Month With No U.S. Military Deaths.” That same month, the Department of Defense reported19 possible suicides among active-duty soldiers. In July, that number reached a record high of 32. America’s decade-long wars in Iraq and Afghanistan leave troops with deep emotional scars that can be just as dangerous as a combat wound. Perhaps it’s time we gave them the attention they deserve.

4) Drone Strikes Kill Innocent Civilians, Not Just ‘Militants’

After Jon Brennan, President Obama’s top counterterrorism adviser, claimed in June that no civilians had been killed in US drone attacks in nearly a year, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reported that at least 45 civilians were killed in 10 US attacks during that period.

Overall, drone strikes in Pakistan have killed 780 civilians, including 175 children. The bureau documents 309 CIA drone strikes carried out since 2004 that have killed as many as 2,997 people. Over 85 percent were launched by the Obama administration, an average of one strike every four days. Yet the casualties of the US drone war rarely receive mention in the corporate media, except when described as “Islamic militants” or “suspected terrorists.” This is challenged not only by the bureau’s data, but also by gruesome photographs of drone victims taken by local journalists.

The Guardian described the images captured by Noor Behram, a journalist from the North Waziristan region of Pakistan, whose work appeared in an exhibition at London’s Beaconsfield gallery in August:

The photographs make for difficult viewing and leave no doubt about the destructive power of the Hellfire missiles unleashed: a boy with the top of his head missing, a severed hand, flattened houses, the parents of children killed in a strike. The chassis is all that remains of a car in one photo, another shows the funeral of a seven-year-old child. There are pictures, too, of the cheap rubber flip-flops worn by children and adults, which often survive: signs that life once existed there. A 10-year-old boy’s body, prepared for burial, shows lipstick on him and flowers in his hair – a mother’s last loving touch.

Spencer Ackerman recently featured a number of Behram’s disturbing photographs at Wired, which can be seen here.

5) Record Number Of US Kids Face Hunger and Homelessness

A report released by National Center on Family Homelessness finds that one in 45 US children (1.6 million) are homeless, the majority under the age of seven. The Christian Science Monitor reports, “The number of homeless children in 2010 exceeded even the total in 2006, when thousands of families displaced by hurricanes Katrina and Rita produced a historic spike in homelessness.”

It doesn’t stop there. According to recent figures released by the USDA, 17.2 million American households (14.5 percent) are “food insecure,” one of the highest recorded rates since surveys were first conducted in 1995. As a result, 16.2 million American children – one in five– face the threat of hunger. According to emergency room doctors in cities around the country, this is leading to a dramatic spike in malnourishment in babies.

Over the summer, the Boston Globe reported on shocking levels of infant malnourishment in Massachusetts. Doctors at the Boston Medical Center (BMC) reported seeing “more hungry and dangerously thin young children in the emergency room than at any time in more than a decade of surveying families.” Pediatricians in other large cities, including Baltimore, Little Rock, Minneapolis, and Philadelphia, have also seen a rise in infant and child malnourishment since 2008.

BMC doctors also warn that “rising chronic hunger threatens to leave scores of infants and toddlers with lasting learning and developmental problems.”

The Globe likened child malnourishment and hunger among Boston’s poor to levels seen in the “developing world.”

6) Prisoners Are People Too

This summer, more than 6,000 California prison inmates went on a month-long hunger strike in solidarity with those held in solitary confinement at the Secure Housing Unit in California’s Pelican Bay State Prison. Pelican Bay is notorious for holding nearly half of its 1,111 prisoners in solitary confinement for longer than 10 years. The strike was suspended in July when inmates entered negotiations with the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR). They expected change, but prisoners who organized and participated in the strike were instead retaliated against by prison guards.

By September 26, the strike was back on, with 12,000 inmates throughout California and out-of-state facilities participating. But those numbers quickly dwindled as the CDCR disciplined those involved by limiting access to visiting family members and isolating participants from other prisoners. A string of prisoner suicides committed by inmates who participated in the hunger strikes followed. Colorlines’ Julianne Hing reported:

In recent months Alex Machado and Johnny Owens Vick, who were both housed in Pelican Bay’s notorious solitary confinement Security Housing Unit, and Hozel Alanzo Blanchard, who was incarcerated at Calipatria State Prison’s Administrative Segregation Unit, all committed suicide. Prisoner advocates say all three participated in a statewide hunger strike this summer to protest, among other things, prison discipline policies intended to identify prison gang members which punish innocent, unaffiliated inmates with decades of confinement to segregated units.

7) US Deports 46,000 Parents, Kids Left Behind In Foster Care

Under the Obama administration, deportations of immigrants have skyrocketed, with a record 397,000 people removed in 2011 alone and families torn apart as a result. According to an investigation carried out by Colorlines, the United States deported over 46,000 parents whose children were U.S. citizens between January and June of this year. With their parents detained or deported, at least 5,100 children have been placed in foster care, and many may never see their parents again. Our draconian immigration system is creating orphans. Investigative reporter Seth Freed Wessler writes:

These children, many of whom should never have been separated from their parents in the first place, face often insurmountable obstacles to reunifying with their mothers and fathers. Though child welfare departments are required by federal law to reunify children with any parents who are able to provide for the basic safety of their children, detention makes this all but impossible. Then, once parents are deported, families are often separated for long periods. Ultimately, child welfare departments and juvenile courts too often move to terminate the parental rights of deportees and put children up for adoption, rather than attempt to unify the family as they would in other circumstances.

8) FBI Teaches Agents That Muslims Are Violent Radicals

In September, Spencer Ackerman reported some disturbing findings about the FBI’s counterterrorism training materials. He revealed, among other things, that the FBI’s Training Division depicts all Muslims as potential terrorists. Ackerman writes:

The FBI is teaching its counterterrorism agents that “mainstream” American Muslims are likely to be terrorist sympathizers; that the Prophet Mohammed was a “cult leader”; and that the Islamic practice of giving charity is no more than a ‘funding mechanism for combat.

At the Bureau’s training ground in Quantico, Virginia, agents are shown a chart contending that the more “devout” a Muslim, the more likely he is to be “violent.” Those destructive tendencies cannot be reversed, an FBI instructional presentation adds: “Any war against non-believers is justified” under Muslim law; a “moderating process cannot happen if the Koran continues to be regarded as the unalterable word of Allah.”

Ackerman also came upon an alarming description of Sunni Muslims, which is included in the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Forces mandatory online orientation material:

Sunni Muslims have been prolific in spawning numerous and varied fundamentalist extremist terrorist organizations. Sunni core doctrine and end state have remained the same and they continue to strive for Sunni Islamic domination of the world to prove a key Quranic assertion that no system of government or religion on earth can match the Quran’s purity and effectiveness for paving the road to God.

The FBI immediately apologized for the derogatory training materials, promising to comprehensively review all training materials. But it turns out that the FBI’s counterterrorism culture is soaked in Islamophobia, as demonstrated by the inclusion of books by Islamophobic authors Robert Spencer and Daniel Pipes in the FBI Quantico library.

This comes on top of a troubling pattern in counterterrorism law enforcement training — the use of Islamophobic ”terrorism consultants” to school agents on the Islamic faith. According to the Washington Monthly, this “growing profession” of consultants rakes in taxpayer cash to educate our cops about evils of Islam. One example is Walid Shoebat, who reportedly told an audience at a counterterrorism conference last year that the way to solve the threat of Islamic extremism is to “kill them…including the children.” Shoebat’s extreme denunciations of Islam helped fuel the paranoia of right-wing terrorist Anders Breivik, who massacred some 90 people in Norway earlier this year. According to the American Prospect, Shoebat is cited in Breivik’s manifesto 15 times.

 

Source

 


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