Indigenous People Protest Columbus Day

In Chile, thousands of Mapuche indigenous people and their supporters took to the streets of the capital Santiago in an anti-Columbus Day march Saturday. The Mapuche are Chile’s largest indigenous group. They are calling for the return of ancestral lands and an end to the targeting of Mapuche activists under an anti-terrorism law. One protester condemned the day marking 521 years since Christopher Columbus’s arrival in the Americas.

Brazil Gov’t to Use Encrypted Email to Block Foreign Spying

Brazil has announced government employees will begin using an encrypted email service in an effort to avoid foreign spying. Brazil’s communications minister says the new government system will become mandatory for all federal officials in the coming months. Documents revealed by Edward Snowden show Brazil is the leading target of U.S. spying in Latin America.

Complaint filed against British coal miner GCM over Bangladesh mine

Campaigners have filed a complaint against British coal miner GCM Resources over a controversial open-pit coal mine in Bangladesh, ahead of the company’s AGM in London today. The complaint by the World Development Movement and International Accountability Project claims that the mine planned by the London-based and AIM-listed company would breach OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises by violating the human rights of the people who would be forcibly displaced and impoverished by the project. Its Phulbari Coal Project has been stalled since 2006 by fierce opposition within Bangladesh. A series of emails obtained via Freedom of Information requests made by London Mining Network reveal attempts by the UK government to avoid disclosing the nature of its relationship with GCM. Information requested by the group was refused on the basis that it would “prejudice the UK Government’s internal relations with the Bangladesh Government”.

CIA Study Warned of U.S. Failures in Propping Up Rebel Forces

Comments by Special Envoy Gen. John Allen follow the leak of a CIA study that said previous U.S. efforts to arm and train rebel groups have mostly failed. President Obama first commissioned the study in 2012 as he weighed arming Syrian rebels fighting the regime of Bashar al-Assad. The findings fueled White House skepticism about backing the rebels, but Obama went ahead with training efforts that have recently expanded to Saudi Arabia. Although the CIA found most U.S. attempts to prop up insurgent forces failed in countries such as Cuba and Nicaragua, there was one exception: the mujahideen rebels who fought the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. Its members would go on to form the core of al-Qaeda.

React to the killing of innocents in Middle East

Also boycott following Israeli related companies

Intel, Motorola, Hewlett-Packard (HP),, IBM, Pampers, Coca-Cola, Caterpillar
GAP, Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, BOSS, M&S, DKNY which uses Delta-Galils textile
Gillette, Head & Shoulders, Vicks, Old Spice, Procter & Gamble (P&G), Johnson & Johnson, Revlon, McDonald’s, Nestle, Milkmaid, Maggi, KitKat, L’Oréal

Please reduce oil use as energy source as well as fertilisers, plastics etc in the chemical industry.
This list is not complete.

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Narendra Modi government plans to restructure Food Corporation of India

After announcing the dismantling of Planning Commission in its present form, the Narendra Modi-led NDA government has set about restructuring another organisation—the Food Corporation of India (FCI). The ministry of consumer affairs, food and public distribution has constituted a committee to restructure FCI in order to put a check on high cost and high wastage in food procurement and its distribution to consumers. The committee has to submit its report in the next three months.

Shanta Kumar, Bharatiya Janta Party MP from Himachal Pradesh who served as the consumer affairs minister in the previous NDA government under Atal Bihari Vajpayee, will chair the eight-member committee. The committee will include chief secretary of Chhattisgarh and Punjab.

FCI was set up in 1964 under the Food Corporations Act of 1964 to safeguard the interest of farmers and consumers as well as regulate the market. FCI procures foodgrains at minimum support price (MSP) from farmers, distributes grains to consumers across the country through the public distribution system at subsidised prices and maintains buffer stocks to meet the country’s food security needs.

The committee report is expected to make recommendations on the role of FCI vis a vis MSP, efficient storage models and transportation facility, and upgradation of existing technologies.

The present system of procurement, storage and distribution is marred by high wastage, corruption and inefficiencies.

G Raghuram, professor at IIM-Ahmedabad and also a member of this committee, had last year conducted study on poor management of FCI. He specialises in infrastructure and transportation systems, and supply chain and logistics management. “A better management can bring a sea of change in existing FCI model,” Raghuram told Down To Earth over phone. “I have conducted a detailed study which came out with findings related to poor management of FCI, which is affecting farmers as well as consumers,” he added. But he didn’t divulge details regarding terms of reference of the committee.

Decentralisation mantra

Food rights activists have long been demanding decentralisation of FCI. “The main problem lies with centralised procurement and storage of food grains. For this reason, the cost of taking food to go-downs and to consumers costs more than the food procurement at MSP,” said Dipa Sinha, a Delhi based right to food activist. “If the committee looks into the centralisation problems of FCI and encourages local procurement and storage model, it can yield good results,” she added.

Experts said issues related to operational efficiency and financial management should be looked into at the earliest.

“The operational efficiency here means cost effective procurement, better transport and storage facility. It also includes looking at whether procurement is done in surplus production area or also in low production area. These issues are need to addressed at the earliest,” said Gopal Naik, an agriculture expert teaching at IIM-Bengaluru.

He further said the issue of financial management also needs to be looked into. “The issue of debt should be dealt with at the earliest. FCI borrows loans from banks to provide MSP to farmers and after that it delays returning the loans, increasing the liability of FCI and creating funds crunch,” Naik added.

— source

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Germany’s NSA investigation is an illusion to keep US happy

Glenn Greenwald has refused to go to Germany as a witness for their investigation into NSA spying. He has released a full statement where he says that Germany is conducting an illusion of investigation to keep the German public satisfied.

I am very supportive of any attempt by the German Parliament to conduct a serious investigation into NSA spying on Germans.

Unfortunately, German politicians have demonstrated, with their refusal to interview the key witness in person – Edward Snowden – that they care far more about not upsetting the U.S. than they do about conducting a serious investigation.

As a result, I am not willing to participate in a ritual that is intended to cast the illusion of an investigation, but which is actually designed to avoid any real investigation, placate the German public with empty symbolism, and keep the culprit – the U.S. Government – happy.

In the event that the German Parliament finds the courage to do what it should obviously do – interview Snowden in person, on German soil, regardless of how the U.S. Government would react – I would be happy to reconsider this invitation.

If Germany is serious about NSA spying, then they must invite Snowden.

— source

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Growing Inequality in Global Healthcare at Root of Crisis

Dr. Paul Farmer talking:

the most important thing to understand is that this is a reflection of long-standing and growing inequalities of access to basic systems of healthcare delivery, and that includes the staff, the stuff and, again, these systems. And that’s what—that’s how we link public health and clinical medicine, is to understand that we’re delivering care in the context of protecting the health of the population. And so, if you go down to each of these epidemics—that are, of course, one epidemic—and you ask the question, “Well, do they have the staff, stuff and systems that they need to respond?” the answer is no. And then, what will stop the epidemic, which it will be stopped, is an emergency-type response. But then again, how are we building local capacity to do that so these epidemics don’t spread—as they would never spread in the United States, by the way?

it would be great to talk to our colleagues at Emory, the infectious disease colleagues who treated patients. It’s not that they had an experimental medication; it’s that they had supportive care. And supportive care, in medical terms, doesn’t mean having someone hold your hand. It means, if you’re bleeding, you get blood products. If you’re hypotensive, or your blood pressure is low, you get IV solutions, right? That’s not what’s happening in these Ebola centers. You know, it’s really quarantine without a lot of the care, right, because supportive care requires sometimes an ICU.

And even in Haiti or in Rwanda, you know, we’ve prepared, along with the authorities, isolation rooms that are not to shut people away, but to take care of them while protecting the rest of the staff, if they have an infectious illness, an airborne illness, say.

So, you know, back to Juan’s question, why would there be such massive variation in case fatality rate? And to me, that always says, because there has not been an overlap between the epidemic, Ebola epidemic, and modern medicine. We’re talking about Medieval-level health systems and a modern plague that’s going to spread. And when we can overlap modern medical systems and modern public health systems, then we can see what the case fatality really would be. I mean, just to be provocative, what if it’s 10 percent instead of 90 percent? What if it’s 5 percent, with proper medical care? And I’m saying even without a specific therapy for that disease, which we’re all waiting for and hopeful about some of the new agents.

it seems to me the patients, the American patients who went to Emory, they were being quarantined, right? But they were also receiving care. And that requires, again, staff, stuff and systems. You can’t be compassionate without expertise, and you can’t have expertise without the supplies that you need to do a good job. So I do not see those two positions as really in contest. A human rights position should also include the right to healthcare, the right to compassion, the right to psychosocial support, just as a public health response has to be aware of how an illness is transmitted and how to protect the public. And this tension, which is very profound, as you note, is worsened by the fact that there is no good medical system in Liberia or Sierra Leone or Guinea. And we have to build one.

Ebola virus disease is a hemorrhagic fever caused by a kind of virus called a filovirus. And Marburg is another one of those. And it’s spread through close contact, in the sense of blood, mucous membranes. So, you know, when I heard someone say—unfortunately, an official say—that Ebola had gone airborne, I knew that wasn’t right. But what happens is, the symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea. It looks a lot—it can look like malaria. And this is one of the problems, is that you have to diagnose it, because we have readily available—or, we should have readily available therapies for malaria. And now with all this fear around Ebola, people aren’t going to receive care for that potentially fatal illness. So there’s all kinds of complexities.

an outbreak begins when—and again, you know, say that the reservoir might be bats, OK, or in a bushmeat, all right? The animal population and the human population are competing for resources, right, and as these cities and towns grow and as—and so, it jumps—these illnesses jump to humans, and then they have to jump to other humans, again, through close contact and like preparing someone for burial or nursing someone, right? Because if you think about, again, someone who’s vomiting or has diarrhea, and if you’ve helped nurse that person, in the sense of doctors nurse people, but your mother, your sister nurses you, you’re going to be exposed to infected secretions, right? So, the way to prevent that is sometimes called “barrier nursing,” right? That means you’re wearing personal protective equipment, and, you know, probably an apron, mask, gloves would do. But again, if someone’s vomiting, you know, you can get it in your eye, or you get tired of following strict precautions because you’re working long hours. So, again, staff, systems, stuff—you need the stuff to protect the healthcare workers and to take care of the patients, and the staff to relieve one another so they can follow this strict infection-control process.

it’s not that all places in Africa don’t have good healthcare systems. Rwanda has built back from an even more gruesome situation than the wars in Sierra Leone and Liberia, and they’ve been trying to focus on the systems issues, right? How do we link community health workers to clinics, to hospitals, for people who are sick? And we’ve been very proud to be part of that work as Partners in Health.

I mentioned the example of Rwanda, which remains a poor country, which is only 20 years out from, you know, the genocide. If you have more resources, you can build the systems more quickly. But again, it needs to focus on building local capacity. So, in Liberia, that would be Liberians. In Sierra Leone, that would be Sierra Leoneans; in Rwanda, Rwandans; in Haiti, Haitians. And a lot of this emergency response approach doesn’t do that, right? It’s not the function of an emergency response to build local capacity, but it needs to be done. It might not be the job of the emergency responders, but it’s got to be someone’s job. So how do you do that in the midst of strife? You invest in—you invest resources—you know, money. And there is money that could be invested more wisely in healthcare. Some of it’s foreign aid money, and some of it is local tax money. And then you invest in human capital, right? You train doctors, nurses, community health workers—in probably the other order, by the way, community health workers, nurses, doctors, because you don’t need an infectious disease doctor to treat Ebola. You don’t need an infectious disease doctor to treat AIDS. We’d like to contribute, of course, and have our contribution to make, but it’s really the system that has to be rebuilt. And that’s possible in even the most strife-torn region once the strife lets up.

I’m thrilled that those two Americans received proper care. Right? And proper care requires, if you’re critically ill and you are having hemorrhage—it’s called hemorrhagic fever for a reason—you need supportive care that’s real, not fake supportive care. And so, the more people who can get it, the happier I am. And I’m very happy that they got back and received care. So I just want to get that out of the way, because people have asked me, not so much in Rwanda, but since I’ve been back here a couple days, you know, “What do you think about people getting airlifted to Emory?” I’m saying, great, you know, no problem there.

The ethical positions that can’t take this broad view of economic disparities, but only, you know, come in to comment on specific instances, I know it has its place. But it would be far better, I think, to say, OK, here are the impact of health disparities in general, right, pre-Ebola epidemic, right. That is, you’ve got some people living in Medieval conditions still in the 21st century and some people living in the 21st century. And how do we move more people from here to here? Like, you don’t have to have—you know, treble your GDP to start building a health system. Health systems help grow your economy, investing in health and education. So, to me, that’s the big picture—rich world, poor world—rather than a narrow view of an incident, although I think we should be commenting on them.

Now, about the companies that are making various—because you mentioned vaccine. These are not vaccines. You know, we’re talking about a serum and some new—a new class of drugs, you know, that interfere with RNA, RNA interference drugs. And from what I understand, it’s actually a number of companies, right? But the thing that’s important for us to know is a lot of that is supported by the National Institutes of Health—public tax dollars. That’s how a lot of therapy for AIDS—that’s how therapy for AIDS was developed. And so, we all have a say, I think, and the world has a say—because I regard the NIH as the jewel in our crown as a nation, right? We have a say in how we build out an equity platform to make sure that those discoveries reach those in greatest need in the global sense. And I believe, actually, that the survival of our two American missionary workers could spur this forward, right? Because it’s not that they shouldn’t have received care; it’s that others should also receive it.

The Onion, the satirical newspaper, recently published an article headlined “Experts [Say]: Ebola Vaccine At Least 50 White People Away.” That’s how—the reach of The Onion. And it’s satirical and correct, right? And so, I think that’s perhaps one of the things that was—that Dr. Brantly was intending in his comments, whether it was yesterday or today. You know, “I hope that this draws attention to the problem in Liberia.” I think that’s a very humane and correct thing to say, because 50 white people away, you know, is actually satirical but quite accurate in some senses. The demand for product, and whether that be a vaccine or a diagnostic or a therapeutic, a drug, is driven by market concerns, right? But we funded a lot of that with tax dollars, and so we should have a say. And I’m thrilled to tell you, there are a lot of people in academic medicine and at the National Institutes of Health who regard this in exactly the same way I do, which is why we have PEPFAR and why we had huge programs to help patients with AIDS in Africa, 11 million people now on therapy. It’s not that they’re a market. There is a market, and the prices haven’t changed that much since 1996 in the United States. But for these patients, they’re connected to the modern world by this equity platform. They need lots of other things, but they’re at least getting that.

Ebola has been around now for several decades, and there’s been—we’re only now talking about an experimental drug. the role of government, I’m suggesting, especially ours, since we’re here, should be very large, right? And because these—you know, one of the ironies that you’re getting at, Juan, is, you know, development of new tuberculosis drugs, those were called “orphan drugs.” But the term “orphan drug” was actually designed to describe drugs that would only have a small group of people benefiting from them. And, of course, tuberculosis, when it was described as needing orphan drugs, was the leading infectious killer of young adults in the world. So, again, these ironies are going to be addressed only through a lot of government intervention. And, you know, to its credit, the NIH, in the part of it that focuses on infectious disease, actually did fund, as I said, a lot of the research going into RNA interference agents. And in my experience in the past with people like Dr. Fauci, who heads that branch, they’re very interested in global health equity, right? They’re sometimes behind-the-scenes champions, but we need to call in those chips and say, “Hey, you know, there’s a massive epidemic here because there’s no staff, stuff or systems, and the stuff includes real treatments and vaccines.”

public health financing in the United States and the cutback in places like the NIH, because you’re not going to have corporations putting huge resources into developing these drugs, and so it’s up to the governments to do it.

I think we should look for allies in the corporations that make things we need. You know, there’s all kinds of ways to work with them. But the fact is, since it’s market-driven, there will be market failures. And, you know, here’s where vigorous intervention by governments can help.

the drugs that we’re using now for millions of people in Africa are largely generic medications now. So that switch from 1996—and I happened to be an infectious disease fellow at the time at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, going between Harvard and Haiti, and we knew that they worked, because our hospitals were full of young people dying of AIDS, leading infectious killer of young adults at that time, and they got up and went home. And so, with the help of AIDS activists, we said, “Well, we want people dying of AIDS in Africa to get up and go home.” They were already home, dying at home unattended, but we wanted them to stop dying. And that really happened in the last decade, which a lot of people said would never happen. And it has, and it’s going to go forward. And it should move forward the Ebola response, as well.

Ebola is not spread through casual contact, right? I mean, those kinds of responses can play a role, right? It’s just like the debate about what’s smart quarantine. You know, what does that look like? It’s got to be smart, compassionate quarantine. Now, when I came into Rwanda, I, just like every other passenger on a plane, had to fill out a form, that I had never seen before, because it’s an Ebola form, and then every passenger was—our temperatures were checked. And if you have a fever, you go into a quarantine, right? That’s a smart procedure. Now, the quarantine is not, again, place that’s dirty and there’s nobody to give you medical care. Even in Rwanda, they’re getting that right. They’re not trying to shut their borders. And, you know, stopping non-essential travel, I get that. But it can slow down, when you stop supplies going in—and staff, stuff, supplies—then it slows down the effective response. And so, you know, it’s that same tension. You want ready movement, not just of the pathogens, across the border, but the stuff and staff who can help. And that—we need more of that. And, you know, unfortunately, there’s a tendency for some rigid, as he said—Larry Gostin said, cordon sanitaire, not to promote the kind of smart quarantine that we need.

if the pathogens don’t have borders, you know, or don’t respect borders—Partners in Health was founded with the idea that every human life has equal value and, in fact, that we should pay more attention to poor people. So, I would say, if we have resources, that we should bring them in. So, I mean, I’m already not even allowed to be part of that conversation. First of all, that’s also epidemiologically absurd, right? Because we don’t have any reports of Ebola or other hemorrhagic viruses in the border he’s referring to, which is our big one to the south.

interestingly, some of the work is being funded—in West Africa, is being funded with Defense Department dollars. To me, that’s a better use of them, right? To use them to fight an Ebola—you know, the bioterrorism money—I mean, it’s kind of silly, in a way, right? But it’s a better use of it, in my view. And, you know, I should mention, that we do have partners in both Liberia and Sierra Leone, you know, partners of Partners in Health. And, of course, we’re sending people the other way, and they’re sending people the other way, to help with the epidemic, including, you know, again, largely Sierra Leoneans and Liberians, but including Americans. And one of them is called Wellbody Alliance, the one in Sierra Leone. The other one has the name that we’re really talking about, which is Last Mile Health, right? Because they’re talking about going the last mile to serve the rural poor. And, you know, I think that the congressmen who were quoted, it would be great if they could pay attention to that part of it, that we should work harder to serve poorer people, I mean, especially kids. They’re talking—they used the word “kids.”

The New York Times today, the headline of the article, “In Redesigned Room, Hospital Patients May Feel Better Already.” And the caption says, “Butaro District Hospital in Rwanda opened in 2011, designed for beauty and fighting disease.” And it’s talking about it being a model, though it talks about a place in New Jersey, actually, it starts.

Partners in Health built it for the public health authorities. And it was designed for beauty and fighting disease. if you’re sick and you’re feeling horrible, you know, do you want to be in an ugly place? And if it’s ugly, it’s probably dirty, right? And it’s probably got tuberculosis flying around in the air. That’s one of the leading killers of patients in hospitals in the southern part of Africa. So its design, it was designed with the help of a group called Mass Design, which is focused on, again, a preferential option for the poor—in architecture.

that cost $4.3 million, which is under probably $50 a square foot. So, you know, when we hear about these huge amounts of money going into foreign aid with, you know, enormous overhead, that beautiful hospital—it made the front page of The New York Times; I had no idea that it would be on there today—is beautiful. The beds are facing courtyards. You know, this is the place I was saying I wanted you to come visit. I was there last week seeing patients. And I think it’s beautiful.

Now, how is it safer? Well, let’s just take infection control, because we’ve been talking about it. The air is circulated. Some of the louvers can’t even close. There is a giant fan circulating the air for a reason, so that people don’t get infected with tuberculosis while they’re patients in that hospital. And there’s also the capacity for isolation, meaning someone’s sick with an infectious pathogen that could be spread to staff or to other patients, we have the capacity there. And that is in a place that only 10 years ago had not one doctor, no hospital, no electricity. You know, it’s on the border with Uganda. And, you know, if you can do it there and make the front page of The New York Times, then you can do it in Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, and for rural people, for poor people. And if that had happened, right—that’s where these epidemics came from. They came from rural areas. And the people living there don’t have access, as I said, to modern medical care, and they should. And you can, and it’s not expensive.

the Clinton Health Access Initiative is still working there, right, especially in Liberia, and just as these groups I mentioned, Wellbody Alliance and Last Mile Health, they’re all still there. And as far as the international emergency response, that’s what Doctors Without Borders does, right? It goes into troubled areas and tries to respond in emergency fashion. And, you know, the CDC—I think it’s great that we sent 50 people there. It’s a terrific investment of U.S. taxpayer dollars, in my view. But that’s not going to build the systems, right, and rebuild local capacity that would make this less likely to happen in the long term. Yet we can channel more of those dollars to local capacity—I mean, I hate that jargon, but whatever you call it, it means training people from Liberia, Sierra Leone, etc.—Haiti, Rwanda, in our case—to respond to their public health crises. That doesn’t mean we can’t be of use. The whole world can be of use. But it needs to be linked to this long-term approach.

A recent Washington Post column reads, “Over the past two years, the [World Health Organization] has seen its budget decrease by 12 percent and cut more than 300 jobs. The current budget saw cuts to WHO’s outbreak and crisis response of more than 50 percent from the previous budget, from $469 million in 2012-13 to $228 million for 2014-15.”

I think that’s a big mistake. You know, we need global—I call them—you know, I just called them earlier “global health equity platforms.” That’s not the language of the World Health Organization. But we need global institutions, because the pandemics are global, or they’re not just regional. When I say “global,” they’re not, you know, down there waiting in Mexico to jump up over our borders in the bodies of those devious kids. But they are translocal. All right, you know, I shouldn’t use silly academic jargon, but they’re not contained in national borders. So, you need robust translocal institutions like the World Health Organization. And when I hear these figures, you know, about budget cuts like this and I think about—I’ve just been reading Matt Taibbi’s book; I’m sure he’s been on this show quite a bit, or his books—I just—it drives me nuts to think that we’re arguing over this tiny, little pie, this tiny, little pot, for global health equity, or public health, whatever you want to call it, and these vast amounts are being squandered on foolishness, or they’re being literally stolen. And we can’t do public health without more resources. We can’t. We need more money to do this. And it’s cost nothing, next to these, you know, again, foolish endeavors, or worse. And cutting, shrinking these budgets and always thinking about contracting and contracting the public sector is a huge mistake.

The New York Times reports, “A teenage boy who was wounded on Wednesday during clashes at an Ebola-stricken neighborhood in Monrovia, Liberia, died of bleeding and hypothermic shock after being shot in his legs. … The teenager, Shakie Kamara, 15, was part of a large crowd of young men who tried to storm out of the neighborhood, West Point, which was placed under quarantine the night before. Soldiers fired live rounds to drive the protesters back into their neighborhood.”

a 15-year-old is not a young man, but a child. And, you know, that just is an awful way to respond, even if he had been—it doesn’t matter how old, but shooting a child, who then dies of the injury, right—so, hypothermic shock and bleeding just means he died of his gunshot wound, of course. And, you know, anything on that side of the response is not smart, it’s not humane, it’s not going to work. On the other hand, you know, you have the response—I mentioned Last Mile Health, who worked with the public sector. It’s not like we’re saying NGOs, you know. These are people working with local authorities in Kono district to build a completely different kind of response, which is, let’s have community health workers help us find the patients, let’s have proper care for the patients, and let’s find everything we can to get them better and prevent spread in that way. And that’s what we should all be focused on right now. And there’s no reason we can’t stop this with the adequate investment in, again, staff, stuff, systems right now.

I was in Kono Hospital with colleagues of mine from—a colleague of mine from England, from King’s College. And, you know, looking around the hospital—they were getting ready to set up an Ebola ward. This is Sierra Leone. I’m just thinking, “What a tragedy, what’s about to happen to them,” because they just—no wonder the health workers are frightened, right? They know they don’t have—the people know that they don’t have the personal protective equipment that they need. They know that they don’t have what it would take to treat people with dignity and compassion. And, you know, it’s a very frightening thing. I’ve lived through situations like that—you know, the earthquake in Haiti—when you know you just don’t have what you need to help people survive. And it’s frightening, you know? And it’s demoralizing.

— source

Dr. Paul Farmer, infectious diseases doctor and medical anthropologist. He is a founding director of Partners in Health and a professor at Harvard Medical School. From 2009 to 2012, Dr. Farmer served as the U.N. deputy special envoy for Haiti working under former President Bill Clinton. He currently serves as the special adviser to the United Nations on community-based medicine and is also on the board of the Clinton Health Access Initiative. His books include Infections and Inequalities: The Modern Plagues.

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Thousands of birds are igniting mid-air

At the $2.2 billion Ivanpah solar installation in California’s Mojave Desert, telltale plumes of smoke curl above the plant’s hyper-concentrated rays. According to federal wildlife officials, these smoke bombs are too big to be caused by insects or bits of trash. Nope — they’re the result of unlucky birds that actually ignite in mid-air.

Federal wildlife investigators who checked out the solar thermal plant last year report seeing about one singed bird every two minutes. Now, they’re calling on California officials to halt progress on a similar project until there can be further study of Ivanpah’s avian impact. (And its track record with tortoises isn’t that great, either.) So far, the results don’t look pretty: Current bird death toll estimates run as high as 28,000 a year.

From the Associated Press:

More than 300,000 mirrors, each the size of a garage door, reflect solar rays onto three boiler towers each looming up to 40 stories high. The water inside is heated to produce steam, which turns turbines that generate enough electricity for 140,000 homes. …

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service officials warned California this month that the power-tower style of solar technology holds “the highest lethality potential” of the many solar projects burgeoning in the deserts of California.

The commission’s staff estimates the proposed new tower would be almost four times as dangerous to birds as the Ivanpah plant. The agency is expected to decide this autumn on the proposal.

We’ve heard a lot about how wind farms impact birds — in some cases so dramatically that huge projects can get stopped in their tracks. Et tu, solar array?

— source

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Block the Boat for Gaza

For the second day in a row, demonstrators succeeded on Sunday in preventing the unloading and loading of the Israeli ship Zim Piraeus at the Port of Oakland.

The ship had delayed its arrival in Oakland to avoid Saturday’s massive demonstration and planned community picket line. Today at around 5 p.m. an emergency blast went out over the Block the Boat for Gaza text network, summoning all hands back to the Port to set up picket lines in front of the gates to the berth where the ship was to dock. Hundreds of people scrambled out to the isolated harborfront site and quickly mounted picket lines at, apparently, all four gates (I could only see two of them).

Sunday’s hastily called community picket lines were substantial enough to persuade longshore workers to stay off the job. (Photo: Jessie Sandoval)

Though the numbers were far smaller than on Saturday, the action succeeded again because most of the longshore workers who had been called in to work the ship (members of Local 10 of International Longshore and Warehouse Union) opted not to cross the picket lines. (None crossed at my gate.) At around 8 p.m. Lara Kiswani, Executive Director of the Arab Resource and Organizing Center (AROC) and key leader of the Block the Boat campaign, picked up a bullhorn and announced that the organizers had just received official confirmation that the shift had been cancelled and the ship would not be worked tonight.

Here’s the official victory statement from AROC:

On August 17th, 2014 Palestine was once again victorious in Oakland, California. For the second day in a row the Bay Area community held off the Israeli Zim ship from unloading at the Port. Thousands of people rallied on Saturday and successfully kept the ship at Bay on its regular scheduled day. Today we got word that the ship had arrived and workers were being called to unload it. Within 30 minutes we mobilized over 400 people back to the Port. And we won!

Workers honored our picket and stood on the side of justice, as they historically have. Oakland said no to Zionism and blocked the boat for an entire weekend. This is the first time in history that this has happened. Israeli apartheid is falling one port at a time!

Palestine will be free from the river to the sea. Long live international solidarity and the struggle for liberation!

Original report (with some edits and new photos added) on Saturday’s action:Thousands of demonstrators demanding an end to the siege of Gaza and justice for all Palestinians succeeded – if only temporarily – in preventing an Israeli-owned freighter from docking at the Port of Oakland yesterday.

A diverse and spirited crowd of between 2,000 and 3,000 took part in the “Block the Boat for Gaza” action. The plan was to set up a community picket line outside the freight terminal where the Israeli ship, the Zim Piraeus, was due to dock, in the expectation that longshore workers would honor the line and stay off the job so the ship wouldn’t be unloaded or loaded. The action was originally scheduled for 5 a.m. Saturday, just before the ship was due in port, but on Friday evening, when it became clear that it was circling outside San Francisco Bay instead of proceeding to its scheduled docking, protest organizers postponed the demonstration until 3 p.m. In the afternoon, with the ship still stalling at sea in an obvious attempt to wait out the protest, organizers decided to proceed with march to the port and declare a victory, even though the ship is now expected to dock in Oakland sometime Sunday evening.

Some 3,000 people marched to the Port of Oakland on Saturday to “Block the Boat for Gaza.” (Photo:

The action was sponsored by a long list of organizations, but two local Arab-American organizations – the Arab Resource and Organizing Center and the Arab Youth Organization – played central roles in organizing it.

Young Palestinian- and other Arab-Americans played the key roles in Saturday’s action. (Photo: Jackie Brown/Arab Resource and Organizing Center)

The crowd mirrored the enormous (and ever-increasing) diversity and militant traditions of the Bay Area and especially of Oakland.

While Gaza was the main focus, numerous signs and frequent chants linked the situation there to Ferguson, Missouri: when, for example, the march reached the terminal where the ship was due and found it heavily guarded by the Oakland police, the crowd broke into chants of “Hands up, don’t shoot” and “Killing children is a crime – Ferguson to Palestine.” (The issue of police violence resonates deeply in Oakland: over the years the community has mourned numerous young men of color killed by law enforcement officers; in 2011 an Oakland Police officer fractured the skull of Iraq veteran Scott Olsen with a beanbag round during an Occupy Oakland demonstration; and back in 2003, Oakland police injured dozens, including me, by opening fire – albeit with “less lethal” weaponry such as wooden dowels – on a crowd marching on the port to protest the U.S. attack on Iraq.)

Predictably, most local media ignored the action, though it was among the largest protests in the Bay Area in several years. One TV station that did cover it reported that “At one point the group looked to be well over 100 people” – an assessment that could only have been a deliberate attempt to downplay the demonstration. The Guardian, however, posted a very good report.

— source

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The cost of caring for Europe’s elderly nuclear plants

* Average age of nuclear reactor in EU is 30 years

* Longer outages, safety risks increase as plants age

* Cost of revenue loss, maintenance rise longer they offline

By Nina Chestney and Susanna Twidale

LONDON, Aug 17 (Reuters) – Europe’s ageing nuclear fleet will undergo more prolonged outages over the next few years, reducing the reliability of power supply and costing plant operators many billions of dollars.

Nuclear power provides about a third of the European Union’s electricity generation, but the 28-nation bloc’s 131 reactors are well past their prime, with an average age of 30 years.

And the energy companies, already feeling the pinch from falling energy prices and weak demand, want to extend the life of their plants into the 2020s, to put off the drain of funding new builds.

Closing the older nuclear plants is not an option for many EU countries, which are facing an energy capacity crunch as other types of plant are being closed or mothballed because they can’t cover their operating costs, or to meet stricter environmental regulation.

Though renewable energy sources such as wind and solar power are slowly rising in the mix, they do not produce a constant output, so other sources will always be needed for backup.

But as nuclear plants age, performance can suffer, and outages – both scheduled and unplanned – rise.

With nuclear safety in the spotlight since the 2011 reactor meltdown at Japan’s Fukushima plant – which in turn prompted Germany to call time on its entire nuclear fleet – operators can take no chances with their elderly plants, but the outages get longer and more difficult.

“These reactors were designed over 30 years ago. The people involved are either retired or dead, and most of the companies involved no longer exist,” said John Large, an independent nuclear engineer and analyst who has carried out work for Britain’s Atomic Energy Authority.

Jean Tandonnet, EDF Group’s nuclear safety inspector, said in January that its French fleet last year had a series of “problematic unit outages”, and scheduled outages were extended by an average of more than 26 days. Regular maintenance and major equipment replacement jobs had increased by 60 percent in the last six years, he said.

“(At an ageing plant) outages take slightly longer, and there is more work to do to make sure it is in top condition. Safety comes ahead of anything else,” a spokeswoman for EDF Energy in the UK said.

France is the EU’s nuclear leader, its 58 reactors producing nearly three quarters of the country’s electricity. France’s nuclear watchdog will make a final decision on whether to extend the life of the French fleet to 50 years in 2018 or 2019. EDF has estimated the extension would cost 55 billion euros.

“The average age of the (French) reactors is now about 30 years, which raises questions about the investment needed to enable them to continue operating, as ageing reactors increasingly need parts to be replaced,” according to the World Nuclear Industry Status report 2014.


Though the EU has conducted risk and safety tests on the bloc’s nuclear plants, environmental campaigners say the tests failed to address risks associated with ageing technology, among other things.

With exposure to radiation, high temperatures and pressure, the components of nuclear plants take a battering over time.

“They can, for example, become more brittle, susceptible to cracking or less able to cope with temperature extremes,” said Anthony Froggart, senior research fellow at London-based thinktank Chatham House.

“While this can be monitored, it can be problematic if ageing occurs at a greater rate than anticipated or it occurs in areas which are difficult to access or monitor,” he added.

As reactors age, there is also a risk of finding a generic design flaw that could affect all the reactors in a country if they are of the same design.


Britain has 16 reactors in operation that came online from the 1970s to 1990s, and all but one will be retired by 2023 unless they get extensions.

At the Wylfa plant in Wales – Britain’s oldest, at 43 years – the one remaining operational reactor was out of service for seven months this year. It was first taken down for maintenance, but the restart was delayed as new problems were discovered.

The reactor is scheduled to be taken out of service for good in September, but operator Magnox is seeking an extension to December 2015.

This week, EDF Energy took offline three of its nuclear reactors at its Heysham 1 and Hartlepool plants in Britain for inspection which are both 31 years old, after a crack was discovered on a boiler spine of another Heysham 1 reactor with a similar boiler design, which had already been taken offline in June.

The boilers will be checked for defects with thermal imagery done using robotics, and the firm will know more about what caused the fault after the inspections, which should take around eight weeks, the EDF Energy spokeswoman said.

EDF Energy has been incorporating extra checks into its strategy for its ageing nuclear plants since it inherited them from previous operator British Energy, she said.

British Energy was delisted in 2009 following financial collapse. Several unplanned outages had reduced its power output, and its load factor – the ratio of actual output to its maximum capacity – fell to its lowest level of 56 percent in 2009, Britain’s National Archives show.

This compares with EDF’s average load factor for its French nuclear fleet of 73 percent in 2013, which is also down from its highest level of 77.6 percent in 2005, the company’s 2013 results show.

The fleet’s net output of electricity has declined from 429 terawatt hours in 2005 to 404 TWh last year, though this could be for a range of reasons, including weak energy demand.

Apart from reducing the reliability of Europe’s electricity supply, operators stand to lose many millions of euros from a single outage from lost electricity sales alone.

Reuters calculations, based on industry estimates of lost daily electricity sales, show the outages at two EDF Energy plants could cost the firm some 155 million pounds during the outages from when they began in June or August to October, not including the costs of inspection and maintenance work.

Industry sources say the lost revenue from the loss of output at a 1 gigawatt plant could reach 1 million pounds a day.

British utility Centrica, which owns 20 percent of EDF Energy’s nuclear fleet, said on Monday the reduction in output would reduce its earnings per share by around 0.3 pence this year.

More than half of Belgium’s nuclear capacity is offline for maintenance. The three closed reactors are 29, 31 and 32 years old.

Though it doesn’t break out the nuclear data separately, statistics from Europe’s electricity industry association Eurelectric show both planned and unplanned outages mostly increased at thermal power plants in eight European countries examined, and periods of energy unavailability increased from around 12.8 percent in 2002 to 18.3 percent in 2011.

As the plants age, that can only increase. ($1 = 0.7458 euro) ($1 = 0.5994 British pound) (Additional reporting by Barbara Lewis in Brussels and Geert de Clercq in Paris; Editing by Will Waterman)

— source

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Last Voices

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Man-made warming becomes main cause of glacier retreat

Man-made greenhouse gas emissions have become the dominant cause of melting in glaciers from the Alps to the Andes that is raising world sea levels, a study said on Thursday.

Human emissions accounted for an estimated 69 percent of loss of ice from glaciers from 1991-2010, overtaking natural climate variations that had been the main driver of a retreat since the mid-19th century, researchers wrote in the journal Science.

Until now, scientists have struggled to quantify the impact of human behavior on glaciers because the frozen rivers of ice take decades, perhaps centuries, to respond to rising temperatures and shifts in snow and rainfall.

The study published on Thursday used historical observations of glaciers around the world, except in Antarctica, twinned with computer models to simulate all factors that could explain the retreat. It found that natural variations were not enough on their own, meaning man-made greenhouse gases played an increasing role.

“This is more evidence of human influence on the climate,” Ben Marzeion, of the University of Innsbruck in Austria and lead author of the study, told Reuters.

The scientists estimated that human influences accounted for only about 25 percent of glaciers’ total retreat since 1850 – meaning that natural swings in the climate, such as changes in the sun’s output, have long been dominant.


Many glaciers grew during a period known as the Little Ice Age from 1350 to 1850, perhaps caused by a natural decline in the sun’s output or sun-dimming volcanic eruptions.

Michael Zemp, head of the World Glacier Monitoring Service at the University of Zurich, said snowfall declined after around 1850. Rising temperatures from about the 1890s, when wider burning of coal meant more greenhouse gases, hastened the thaw.

“The big majority of glaciers have been retreating over the past century,” he told Reuters. “We even have an accelerated retreat in recent decades.” Glaciers have also varied widely – many Alpine glaciers advanced in the 1970s and 1980s.

Thursday’s study estimated that water from melting glaciers has contributed a total of 13.3 cm (5 inches) from 1851-2010 to rising sea levels. Without human influences the rise would still have been 9.9 cm (4 inches).

Zemp said that greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere meant that glacier retreat and related sea level rise would continue for decades, even if emissions were to stop now.

Melting glaciers, especially in the Himalayas, also supply water vital to millions of people. A Chinese newspaper said that Tibet was warmer over the past 50 years than at any time in the past 2,000.

Pinning down a human influence on temperatures has been easier. A U.N. scientific panel said last year that it was at least 95 percent probable that mankind was the main cause of higher surface temperatures since 1950.

— source

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Historical Tradition of American Empire War and Genocidal Crimes Against Humanity

America has been sending young men who answered its call into harm’s way for the last two and a half centuries. Enslaving Africans and engaging in a genocide policy against Native Americans for three centuries, America’s militant racist history was squarely founded on subjugation of darker skinned peoples. Only for a little more than a century has the United States not been actively pursuing a national policy of ethnic cleansing of America’s first inhabitants. And when the still highly deplorable human conditions on tribal reservations today are taken into account with such extreme poverty, rampant drug and alcohol addiction and highest unemployment rates in America, one might conclude genocide is still actively going on.

Canadian professor and philosopher John McMurtry concludes:

“The historical record demonstrates the US is provably guilty of continual lawless mass murder of
civilians across the world.”

Yet he adds that America’s impunity is only maintained through mass deception, corporatized propaganda, physical coercion and extortion. This presentation is a chronicled account and overview of just how relentless and pervasive the US Empire’s killing machine has been for as long as the United States has been an independent nation.

Inheriting its imperialistic Anglo Saxon blood from mother England and the longstanding British Empire, and armed from the beginning with its God sanctioned Manifest Destiny, to this day the United States upholds a long tradition of simply taking what it wants by hook or crook. Besides enslaving and ethnic purging through most of its history, America literally stole all its land from the indigenous population and then most of its western states and Florida from Spain, engaging in war and murder as its God given right as the erroneously, arrogantly perceived superior race and nation.

America’s taste for war not even a century out from its independence imploded on itself with the Civil War fought between 1861-1865 when Americans massacred Americans racking up more deaths than any other war in its entire history at 620,000 men, comprising 2% of the total US population. When defining a casualty of war as a military person lost through death, wounds, injury, sickness, internment, capture or through missing in action, an estimated 1.5 million American citizens became Civil War casualties in that bloodiest four year war span in US history. It was not until the Vietnam War that all other US wars combined finally exceeded the American loss of life of the War Between the States.

The second bloodiest war for America came between 1941-1945 when 405,399 American lives were lost. The Second World War was the deadliest war in human history with over 60 million killed, over 2.5% of the world population. Deaths rose to 85 million from war related diseases and famine, including up to 55 of those 85 million innocent civilian casualties in what the US military coldheartedly refers to as “collateral damage.”

The third largest American death toll from war was World War I costing 116,516 American lives and amassing a total of over 16 million deaths, marking it among the bloodiest wars in human history. Between 1914-1918 seven million civilians died in “the war to end all wars.”

With influential assistance from then media mogul propagandist Randolph Hearst, the US orchestrated the false flag of the sinking USS Maine in the Havana harbor in order to deceitfully blame Spain to initiate the Spanish American War of 1898. Of course as is so often the case, the real reason behind this unjustified war was increasing American expansionism and burgeoning global hegemony. And as always to the victors go the spoils. Cuba’s “independence” came under US exclusive control, and US colonialism spread to Puerto Rico, Guam and the Philippines. American soldiers are always the sacrificial lamb of US expansionistic imperialism – 70,000 Americans were lost. However, that is a mere drop in the blood bucket compared with the near two million Filipinos who were brutally massacred in just three years.

Then fueled and captivated by Hollywood films glorifying war and violence over the last century, this militant war-loving American tradition has only accelerated right up to the present times. Many Americans, particularly young males, have long been brainwashed, always eager to volunteer and sacrifice themselves fighting and dying in US wars that have been raging on foreign soil virtually nonstop since our Founding Fathers’ 1776 Declaration of Independence. In fact, more than 91% of the time America has been in existence (specifically 217 out of its 238 years), Americans have been fighting and dying in wars around the world. And America’s recent war on terror perpetually assures that more Americans will only continue indefinitely coming home in body bags or missing limbs and body parts.

No other nation on earth has such a dubious and aggressive zeal for globalized killing on such a massive scale as the United States of America. Certainly the US cold war enemies Russia and China don’t. Recently Putin was requested by ethnic Russians in Crimea to reclaim it given the fact that for centuries up until the 1950’s it had always been part of Russia. When his annexing Crimea is cited as Russia’s primary military aggression since acquisition of Eastern Europe’s Iron Curtain, American critics crying afoul are outright hypocrites and liars, not to mention deniers. Like the US currently in its thirteenth year, the former Soviet Union did take its turn losing its war in Afghanistan – the graveyard of empires – in its own decade long debacle throughout the 1980’s thanks to US financed and armed Osama bin Laden spawning the genesis of al Qaeda.

From the 9/11 inside neocon-executed false flag, al Qaeda has conveniently been labeled our enemy, but then throughout the 80’s in Afghanistan and the Balkans in the 1990’s and then more recently in Libya, Syria and Iraq, al Qaeda has been increasingly used as our mercenary ally, depending on whatever shortsighted, self-serving Empire interest is deemed most salient at any given time. Bottom line, from the Reagan-era to the Clinton-era, right up to the Bush and Obama neocons still operating fully in control, al Qaeda has never stopped being their friend even if Americans were brainwashed through lies and propaganda to view them as the next bogey-men after the Communists before them. All this is a very diabolical yet highly effective, convenient ploy to deceptively wage permanent war on the entire world, all for the corporatized American Empire and its controlling oligarch puppet master.

Meanwhile, our other so called cold war enemy China has not invaded another country since its 1949 occupation of neighboring Tibet. Another axis-of-evil nation Iran has not attacked another nation in over fifty years. Of course Iran had to defend itself for eight bloody years when US backed Iraq invaded Iran in September 1980. And finally the other nation perennially on America’s shit list is North Korea, which has never waged war with another country since the US cold war creation known as the Korean War back in the early 1950’s. During the three years of the Korean War, 33,600 American military personnel were killed and another 16,000 UN troops perished. But a million Koreans died (over a half million North Koreans and less than half million South Koreans) along with nearly a million Chinese.

The Dulles brothers operating as President Eisenhower’s CIA Director and Secretary of State were responsible for assassinating a democratically elected President of Iran in 1953. A year later as investors in the United Fruit Company, they engineered a coup forcing the liberal Guatemalan dictator into exile after he introduced land reform that interfered with US and the Dulles’ personal business interests.

In 1961 the leader of Iraq moved to nationalize its vast oil reserves threatening Western petroleum companies from continuing their exploitation and was subsequently ousted two years later and eventually shot to death, setting the stage for US backed Saddam Hussein’s rise to dictatorship in 1968. The kiss of death in regions all over the earth where non-whites reside is actually becoming a US ally, because once that happens, it’s only a matter of time before the US betrayal when it kills off all its onetime allies. It’s simply the never ending cycle of US foreign policy.

Comparing America’s so called enemies’ war records over the last half century with the US, anyone can plainly see that it is the American Empire that stands out as the world’s most dangerous and murderous enemy. In diametrical contrast, US military interventions around the globe over the last half century number into the hundreds.

Throughout the 1950’s and beyond, the US Naval Seventh Fleet has been regularly deployed in the South China Sea to ensure that Communist Red China does not launch an offensive to annex and unify ethnic Chinese living on the island of Formosa that is now Taiwan.

Shortly after the French gave up its Indochinese colony Vietnam, beginning in the mid 1950’s the US began sending military advisors that grew to 21,000 troops by 1964. And it was August 1964 that the US used the Gulf of Tonkin incident as yet another false flag to begin the Vietnam War where over the next decade more than 58,000 Americans died compared to over 3 million Southeast Asians. Additionally, America deployed thousands of US troops and for years dropped tons of napalm bombs covertly in both Laos and Cambodia killing up to 300,000 Cambodians and up to 200,000 Laotians.

The destruction of My Lai as a wartime atrocity just happened to be the only South Vietnamese village incident of its kind exposed at the time, or actually a few months after the fact by the enterprising now renowned ex-New York Times journalist Seymour Hersh (back when the Times actually sought the truth instead of spewing out mere government propaganda and disinformation as it currently spins).

It was only many years later that the world would learn that My Lai was but one savage crime spree episode among many during a six month period from December 1968 to June 1969 dubbed Operation Speedy Express where US war policy was systematically obliterating with artillery firepower and air support before US soldiers entered hamlets to mop up the killing operation by torching, raping and mass murdering at least 5000 villagers, nearly all innocent civilians consisting mostly of the elderly, women and children. It turns out throughout the course of the decade long war in Vietnam there were many My Lai massacres that had gone unnoticed until decades later when author-journalist Nick Turse chronicled these war crime atrocities with firsthand accounts of both perpetrating US soldiers and South Vietnamese victims in a book called Kill Anything That Moves (2013).

Such ruthless wholesale slaughter of other races has always been an integral yet whitewashed constant throughout United States history. Despite the incessant lies that are always used to justify war, the Vietnam conflict became America’s first military defeat in its history as well as the longest running war in its history. But it turned out to be just the beginning in a series of disastrous, even longer lasting military losses in protracted, costly counterinsurgency wars that continue to this present day.

It was during the cold war of the 1950’s that the all important strategy of opposing Communist expansion led America to establish countless active duty military installations on every continent. During the Suez Crisis in 1956 the US dispatched a Marine battalion to Egypt to “secure” order in Alexandria. In 1958 more US Marines landed in Lebanon to fight against an ongoing insurrection attempting to overthrow the US puppet Lebanese government in Beirut.

Military bases began springing up all over the planet to support US military operations to then thwart the Red scare spread of communism. South Korea, Philippines, Japan and Guam in Asia all house numerous installations and posts for US armed forces stationed in Asia. Australia has also been a longtime base of US military operations. Germany, Belgium, Italy, Spain and Turkey provide the bulk of American bases in Europe. Other strategically established locations are in Saudi Arabia, Israel and later Kuwait in the Middle East while Panama and Honduras in Latin America have been base headquarters.

Recognizing the mushrooming power behind America’s surging militarization under his watch, then President and war hero GeneralEisenhower’s farewell message to Americans warned them against the merging of the arms industry with the military fighting force to create the cancerous military industrial complex that he believed would be the single greatest threat to American citizens’ liberty and freedom. He realized that it was far more dangerous to America than any outside threat that included even US cold war enemies. But unfortunately, his sobering words went unheeded and exponential growth of the corporatized killing machine as war profiteers during the ensuing years have insidiously grown so mammoth as to have bought and taken over the corrupt US de facto government.

Since President Madison’s Manifest Destiny spanning two centuries of ironclad fisted control and entitlement, the US has wielded overt military and geopolitical hegemony throughout the Western Hemisphere. Regular military incursions over many years into Cuba, Panama, Nicaragua, Mexico and Honduras have dominated the New World on both continents north and south.

Immediately after Castro secured Communism in America’s backyard Cuba, in 1959 right into the 1960’s the Second Marine Ground Task Force was sent to various Caribbean island locations allegedly to protect US citizens in the region. In actuality it was to isolate Cuba’s Communism from gaining a spreading hemispheric foothold into Latin America. In April 1961 the CIA coordinated a military invasion of Cuba by Cuban expatriates to overthrow Castro in the infamously botched Bay of Pigs operation. In 1965 the US sent 20,000 US Marines to intervene in the internal politics of Dominican Republic in support of the US backed military regime against the populist movement to reinstall the former democratically elected leader Juan Bosch.

Often in the 1960’s and the 1970’s the US sent military air transports to the Congo to put down insurgents threatening the US puppet government. Throughout the cold war the CIA was actively engaging in coups and assassinations in numerous newly independent African as well as Latin American nations, cherry picking its anti-communist puppets as the continents’ national leaders.

The CIA even recruited Obama’s Kenyan father to a full scholarship ride at the University of Hawaii, setting him up with Obama’s white mother whose family was steeped in CIA involvement. Obama was in fact “programmed” in his early years of grooming that soon would lead to his meteoric rise from obscure Chicago community activist to junior Illinois senator to suddenly becoming the very real Manchurian candidate president that he is. And as the oligarch front man, he is still being programmed to obey their every command.

During 1973’s Yom Kippur War the United States in Operation Nickel Grass airlifted 22,325 tons of tanks, artillery, ammunition and supplies to fellow apartheid partner-in-crime Israel in order to defeat Arab states Egypt and Syria, triggering oil rich Moslem OPEC nations to retaliate with an embargo on the US causing the 1973 oil crisis.

From the wars of 1948 and 1956, but especially the Six-Day War in 1967, Israel kept stealing Arab lands through recurring skirmishes, conflicts and wars that resulted in a million Palestinian refugees. Meanwhile, the loyal US ally has always given its apartheid rogue nation whatever it wants and demands. While the US economy has been floundering in recession for years and Israel’s economy is booming, America still keeps sending Israel $3.1 billion in aid every year. One quarter of the Israeli annual defense budget has been subsidized by US taxpayers in recent years. This is absurd. Yet the Zionist hold on America runs so deep and dark, only the sinister players themselves know just how morally depraved. And with US arms currently being used to massacre innocent Palestinian people everyday, both Americans and the world are demanding that the violence stop.

Wielding such exclusive power in the American media, entertainment and banking industries goes far in explaining the US-Israeli axis-of-evil, but their syndicate crime network has been able to get away with mass murder and destruction in part because anyone who dares to criticize and expose their diabolical underworld bond is deemed anti-Semitic, similar to those exposing the corrupt truth about the US government dismissed by a false accusation of being unpatriotic or a conspiracy theorist. But that strategy is wearing thin and the world is finally seeing the malevolence of both rogue states. America and Israel are clearly the two most warlike and destructive forces on earth operating up till now with complete impunity. Those days are numbered.

1973 was an important year. The last official US military troops came home from Vietnam and President Nixon imposed the petrodollar on OPEC nations as the international currency. This secured a guaranteed US extortion fee on all oil purchasing throughout the world by all nations. Nixon’s right hand man and fellow war criminal Henry Kissinger along with the CIA engaged in state sponsored terrorismwhen Chile’s democratically elected President Salvador Allende was assassinated and replaced by the notorious military dictator General Pinochet in October 1973. During this war criminal’s 17-year reign of terror, 3,200 people were murdered, up to 80,000 Chileans were interned and as many as 30,000 were tortured.

The US government has been guilty of a longstanding unbroken pattern of backing bloodthirsty antidemocratic dictators who regularly commit crimes against humanity towards their own citizens. Since the US at will violates international law in its relentless commission of war crimes, birds of a feather flocking together has America just as frequently promoting, installing and endorsing with blind eye similarly inclined murderous, dictatorial regimes. Invariably by poor example, the US Empire leads as the world’s number one violator of human rights, causing other militant tyrannical nations to simply follow suit. US Empire wouldn’t have it any other way.

Those few nations with leaders courageous enough to actually operate independently in the best interests of their people are always punished, bullied and intimidated into submission. If coercive pressure fails to gain the nation’s compliance, wars, coups de tat and/or assassinations inevitably follow. Nations like Venezuela especially under the late Hugo Chavez as well as Iran have incurred the Empire’s wrath for resisting and defying America’s power. And now that the cold war is back in full swing, Putin and Russia are especially being targeted since Putin not only defies US hegemony but he has outsmarted Obama in his feeble bungling, weak ways. Yet on Empire pressure alone, Europe knuckles under every time in its empty rhetoric joining in the conspiracy to make Putin the world’s villain. Truth still matters and the world is increasingly seeing through the West’s hypocrisy and lies.

An integral built-in component causing such widespread heinous human rights violations is the infamous US training school for state sponsored terrorism and torture that is the US Army School of the Americas located at Fort Benning, Georgia. For many decades the US has been systematically teaching and training Latin American dictators and their military junta leaders to applying their newly learned skills terrorizing, torturing and murdering thousands upon thousands of its own citizens. It is now euphemistically called Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation. But changing the school’s name to avoid negative publicity and global criticism is but a feeble and shameless attempt to continue its business as usual. After all, terrorism must go on.

Throughout the 1980’s the US methodically trained Latin American death squad commando units that President Reagan affectionately called his “freedom fighters,” unleashed on the El Salvadoran and Nicaraguan countrysides killing 75,000 in El Salvador alone and forcing one million out of its total six million residents to flee the country. Notorious war criminal Colonel James Steele acting as chief advisor was the American officer in charge and most responsible.

And because fellow war criminals Rumsfeld and Cheney admired his methods using unspeakable pain to get detainees to talk in the 80’s, Steele was called back into service in Iraq in 2003 to implement that same “Salvadoran option” with yet another war criminal General David Petraeus. As a major back in the 80’s eager to learn Steele’s brand of counterinsurgency skills, Petraeus made a special trip down to Central America to learn from the cold steel-eyed torture master himself.

When General Petraeus was in charge of training the Iraqi security forces, his direct subordinate Colonel Coffman and Steele led the training of the Shiite death squads that violated every conceivable international law in rounding up Sunni detainees, incarcerating them in secret prisons all over Iraq and torturing and murdering thousands of innocent civilians. Their massive killing sprees in 2004 and 2005 ushered in the sectarian civil war violence that rages on to this very day in Iraq. Clearly Petraues, Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush were all fully aware of the crimes against humanity and war atrocities they were committing but of course have dodged questions about their accountability with only more lies.

Abu Ghraib Prison scandal in Iraq in late 2003 and 2004 where detainees had been systematically tortured and humiliated by American military police was just the tip of the iceberg. Just as the My Lai massacre was but one example of genocidal extermination during the Vietnam War among many that were never made public, the photos depicting the inhumane unlawful, degrading practices at Abu Ghraib was similarly just one detainment center operation that happened to get caught in the act. But through the ten year Iraq War there were undoubtedly countless more Abu Ghraib-like prisons, especially if the hundreds of Iraqi detainment centers both in and out of Iraq are included.

Committing unlawful international crimes against humanity is both the nature of US Empire wars as well as the nature and effects of war on frail, flawed human participants whose rules of enemy engagement constantly get blurred and subsequently Geneva Convention rules and United Nations Charter laws are commonly repeatedly violated. And unfortunately rarely are their horrific abuses and heinous crimes ever discovered. We are still waiting on how Obama will attempt to slip that 6700 page CIA torture report compiled by the Senate Intelligence Committee under the radar in the coming weeks.

US armed forces Special Operations Command originally formed during the Reagan years never actually left Latin America despite the highly publicized Oliver North cover-up of the Iran-Contra scandal that tarnished Reagan’s overrated presidency. Evidence that Special Ops are at it again in Central America since 2008 has been confirmed. Elite counterinsurgency units from the US Army Rangers as part of US Special Operations Command South have been busily training Honduran military death squads, silencing and eliminating thecampesinos members of the land rights movement. The US backed military dictatorship in Honduras is extremely ruthless and corrupt, and is largely responsible for the international drug smuggling trade’s dominance in Central America as the cocaine pathway from Colombia through Honduras to Mexico on up to North America. The rampant violence and murder directly supported by the US government has largely contributed to the present humanitarian crisis of over 50,000 children from Central America converging at the US border just since last October.

The Empire inflicted death and destruction punctuated with war crime after war crime in every decade on multiple continents continued brazenly under Bush senior in Iraq and Clinton in Yugoslavia throughout the 1990’s. After the US baited then by complicity gave its taciturn approval for ambitious Saddam to invade Kuwait, in just over six months with airpower pulverization, the first Gulf War was over. However, not before daddy Bush went out of his way to commit more crimes against humanity by purposely bombing Iraqi hospitals and water treatment facilities to inhumanely ensure that an epidemic medical crisis would be the lasting US parting gift until his son came along. The result is a half million Iraqi children died of dysentery and miscellaneous other diseases. Depleted uranium from both wars have caused skyrocketing cancer rates and birth deformities for generations of newborns in Iraq.

It was then the Democratic administration’s turn when for three straight months in the spring of 1999 under the NATO command of General Wesley Clarke, Clinton rained internationally outlawed cluster bombs known for shredding human flesh down on the Serbians living in the city of Kosovo. The relentless bombing during the war’s closing days led to systematic destabilization, destruction and breakup of the former Republic of Yugoslavia into thirteen broken pieces with no sovereign independence but only beholding to US-NATO control. Civilian targets were bombed like the Serbian radio station which also constitute war crimes.

Throughout the 1990’s the Balkan wars were also where the US Empire continued financing and arming its mercenary proxy allies al Qaeda to do its dirty bidding carrying out US state sponsored terrorism against their fellow Moslem Serbs in Kosovo and Bosnia. US was complicit in both the ethnic cleansing it was sponsoring as well as profiting from the heroin drug trade that passed through the region from the opium fields in Afghanistan west to Europe and North America.

It was also the 1990’s when US executed Gladio B operations in Turkey, resulting in numerous false flag killings of innocent people, murders and assassinations. Again CIA, organized crime, drug smugglers, high powered Turkish government officials and generals exchanging lots of money were involved. The exhaustive list of war crime atrocities committed by America and its proxies at any given time all over the globe seems endless.

But since entering the new millennium with the forever pivotal event of the 9/11 coup, everything changed. The rising death toll and war crime frequency of US Empire’s global transgressions has only brazenly increased at an alarming accelerated pace. The neocons’ mass murder of nearly 3000 Americans on 9/11 followed by their repeated boldface lies purporting Saddam’s weapons of mass destruction and nonexistent ties to terrorism as the pretext for their Iraq invasion needs to be taken up at the Hague. The killing of up to a million mostly innocent Iraqis, the systematic dismantling of America’s constitutional rights and liberties, the criminal mass surveillance of Americans as well as the entire world, the US militarized police state that has ushered in brutal, hostile and barbaric practices against its own citizens, the devastating wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and their accompanying failed state chaos and destruction, the onslaught of drone surveillance and deadly secret warfare both domestic and internationally used to eliminate thousands of innocent bystanders, and the utter lapse of conscience and morality in this rampant evil that has emerged as everyday modern life since 9/11, in its criminal totality and global destruction of all human and planetary life, it far surpasses even the worst despots of past evil leaders like Hitler and Stalin. The Bush family, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and slew of other neocons with 9/11 perpetuated the most colossal damage and destruction to humanity ever in modern history. They must be tried for their unspeakable crimes against the human species through the international court system.

Just as nothing much changed as far as war crimes from the first Bush to Clinton, nor has the changeover from one megalomaniacal regime of Bush junior to another in Obama altered the downward spiral into the abyss that has been set into motion years earlier.

The most recent fall of Iraq into the brutal extremism and barbarism of Islamic Soldiers of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) covertly backed by the US and Israel spells even worse times ahead for the Iraqi people. The systematic creation by US-oligarch twisted design of newer stronger brands of terrorist enemies is no accident, and bound to come back on Americans with the freehanded arms giveaways to radical Islamic extremists fighting the US proxy war in both Syria and now Iraq.

The false flag of the three murdered Israeli boys that precipitated the genocidal destruction currently being executed by the Israeli Army in Gaza against all Palestinians is an affront to all of humanity. The Israeli government knew that the perpetrators were not operating directly under the authority of Hamas, yet it was used as an excuse to engage in all out ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. It is such a shameful and arrogant display of pure evil knowing its military is targeting and murdering now hundreds into the thousands of innocent civilians, mostly women, the elderly and especially children. The whole world is watching in horror and turning against the state of Israel, all of course except the one nation that could stop it. But instead the US turns a blind eye and continues allowing the atrocities of apartheid genocide to drag on week after week. The sales of US arms and open support for the terrorist Israeli rogue state will resume uninterrupted in spite of the over-the-top daily bloodbaths piling up. Just as the neocons must be tried by international court in Hague, so must Netanyahu and his bloodthirsty henchmen.

Then the recent second Malaysian Airliner to go down this year. The rush to judgment by US and Western press and governments is a dead giveaway for yet another one of their false flags. So much evidence now is accumulating to indicate that it in fact was a coordinated attack by the US puppet government in Kiev. Why else would the Kiev air traffic control divert the plane purposely into a war zone when all other flights east flew much further south to avoid the all too obvious risk. Why else would the plane be ordered to lower its altitude on a cloudy day from the customary 33,000 feet to 30,000 feet to become more of a visible preplanned target. And why else would a Ukrainian Air Force fighter jet be trailing it so closely that fateful afternoon. Coming up with fake videos to lay false claims have already backfired. The warmongering bandwagon to once again demonize Putin and the ethnic Russian rebels in eastern Ukraine as the guilty culprits is nothing less than a criminal conspiracy, a transparent lynch mob on a desperate witch hunt. Their overzealous objective to escalate tensions and turn the world against Putin to justify yet more war and violence is also ever so transparent and is clearly not working.

It was nearly a year ago that Obama and company tried to use the chemical weapon attack in Syria as yet another false flag to essentially go to war with Syria, Iran, Russia and China, risking the start of World War III. Since the August attack last year it has been concluded that its was US backed proxy al Qaeda rebels that were responsible.

With such a pervasive false flag history, triggering virtually every US war, this current rush to judgment while refusing to present any concrete evidence is identical to last year’s paper tiger rhetoric. Neither the American public nor the entire world was fooled last time and they will see through this latest attempt as yet another batch of false flag lies and deceit as well. More importantly, the capacity to see the truth again will prevail, averting another disaster despite all the haters from the West. Prudence and wisdom through honest examination will win out, sparing the human race once again from another close call at self-annihilation.

This frenzied pace of diabolical madness underscoring all these self-destructive current events and ongoing developments is a very strong indication that the oligarch agenda is feeling a bit unsettled, as if they know the world is rapidly onto them. Thus, they are becoming more desperate in its ratcheting up agenda to eugenically manipulate the world stage for more doom and gloom. It is up to us to head them off at the doomsday pass with the truth. We must actively oppose their orchestrated plan to drastically reduce the world’s population at breakneck speed through war and poisoning of our eco-space.

Finally, America’s over inflated, false sense of exceptionalism and superiority with its “might makes right” credo may relish in its hegemonic role as world policeman-turned-bully, sole world superpower and ultra-aggressive yet imperialistic empire on steroids now in decline. Since World War II the United States has murdered over 30 million mostly innocent, mostly darker-skinned civilian foreigners who happened to have gotten in its way. And now its apartheid aggression is attacking its own people, like the puppet dictators it makes and breaks. Its arrogance and impunity along with other rogue regimes like Israel must be stopped. The international court system and world citizens who know right from wrong must step up and intercede on behalf of all humanity and life forms. Choosing to stick our heads in the sand out of fear and passivity is merely joining the legions of the walking dead on this planet. Standing up as a unified force of solidarity is the only answer.

Joachim Hagopian is a West Point graduate and former US Army officer. He has written a manuscript based on his unique military experience entitled “Don’t Let The Bastards Getcha Down.” It examines and focuses on US international relations, leadership and national security issues. After the military, Joachim earned a masters degree in Clinical Psychology and worked as a licensed therapist in the mental health field for more than a quarter century. He now concentrates on his writing.

— source

Posted in Terrorism, ToMl, USA, war | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Is the country racist?

john a. powel talking:

my first thought is just my condolences and deep pain for the family and the community. And I know it’s a difficult situation, but it’s also a situation that comes up too frequently, and we generally have not learned how to deal with this situation. As you mentioned the Kerner Commission 50 years ago, we’re still dealing with the same issues, in part because we avoid the hard issue. We avoid the structure. We avoid the system. We avoid the sort of continued neglect of poor people of color all across this country. And then, obviously, the police don’t live in the community with the people. The police don’t know the people. The Kerner Commission noticed this in 1968, that part of the problem was the police did not have a real relationship with the community, a trusting relationship with the community. The black community tends to be overpoliced and unprotected. And so, now the concern from a number of sources is: How do we protect the people there with guns, with tanks, instead of the people that live there? That’s a problem. That’s a very serious problem.

one of the most important things to learn is the relationship between the police or, in this case, the militaries—because we’re talking about the National Guard, as well—and the community. Is there a sense of trust? Think about Katrina. This was a tragedy of a different sort. And still, the tragedy was heavily racialized, but it wasn’t a police shooting. When the levees broke in New Orleans, they sent the military in. They went in with guns and tanks pointed at people who were suffering from shock, most of them black. And it wasn’t until General Honoré, who’s also African-American, went in and basically said, “Put your guns down. These are American citizens.” He recognized the humanity of the people there. And oftentimes that’s not recognized, that the people there are in pain and their humanity is not being recognized. And so, that’s the recurring theme that happens over and over again. The police are sent in. They’re afraid—we get that. Although they have guns and tanks, they’re still afraid.

There’s a whole thing called “implicit bias.” In this country, there’s—you mentioned, Amy, about the difference between how important race is. Fortunately, we have a way of now testing, to some extent, how Americans feel about race. And the test is empirical, so we don’t have to ask people what they think and just record their self-response; we can test it. And America is a very racialized country, and many police are afraid of blacks, and many blacks are afraid of police. But police have guns and tanks and the law behind them. And so, yes, I’ve seen this happen many times. I was in Detroit years ago when the big riot happened here in Detroit, and I watched tanks go down the streets. And since then, I’ve had a chance to study that as an academic. And even though things have changed, the foundation for the tension between police and the community has not changed.

We’ve seen many cases where young black men, young Latino men have been killed or abused, and it’s only once there’s a flare-up that the country becomes focused on it. And it only becomes focused on it really on the flare-up for that period of time. Then the tension goes elsewhere. We watched in New York, where black women were killed, and raped and killed, that didn’t make the news. When the famous Central Park rape of a white woman occurred, it got a lot of news. When, at almost the same time period, a black woman was raped and killed, it didn’t make the news. So, no, the black life in the United States is not valued in the same way white life is.

the Central Park jogger case, the young men, the teenagers, young teenagers, who were arrested, who spent years in jail, ultimately have been vindicated and just got something like a multimillion-dollar settlement from the City of New York, but they served their full time in jail, until it was discovered—they got $40 million just in the last months.

And one of the things that this shows is that when—in all life, we need to respect all life. I’m not trying to put black life over white life. I’m trying to say that all life, whether you’re talking about blacks, white, whether you’re talking about Palestinians or Jews, that all life should be respected. But we have, in the country, a history of not just the police, but the state, the law enforcement agencies, disrespecting black life. And it’s disrespected in hundreds of ways. And then the police are just one expression of that. And again, we can measure that now. It’s not simply a question of asking. And it’s not the same as saying, “Is the country racist?” or even, “Are the police racist?” We live in a system in which black life is devalued. And it’s reflected in our schools, reflected in our taxing policies.

So when a white life is threatened—and this has been a big study, it’s called the Baldus study, in terms of what happens when a white person is killed by a black person. The system responds very differently when a black person is killed by a white person. And this is a study that went to the Supreme Court, famous study—it came out of Georgia, out of the death penalty—showing that if a black person kills a white person, the system—the system, not individuals—respond extremely differently, and so, responds much faster, is more likely to give a conviction. In some cases, it overconvicts. So, yeah, the country is fundamentally different.

Now, you mentioned earlier about white attitudes and black attitudes about what’s happening. The reality is, we live in a segregated society. So if something happens in the black community, the reality is the white community doesn’t know. They don’t live there. They only see what they read on newspaper. They’re not there. They’re not physically present in the black community. And it’s also interesting, if we were living in a country where race was less important, why would we have these large divisions in terms of racial attitudes? That in itself says something is going on.

Dred Scott. He is buried just down the road on Florissant. The whole country knows about Florissant, because they’re hearing about the protests there. The cemetery, Calvary, where he is buried, is just down the road from these protests. He went to court in St. Louis.

That was a very important case, and some people believed it sped up the Civil War. It gave us, in many ways, the Civil War amendments, the 13th Amendment, which purported to end slavery. It actually did not, because if you look at the 13th Amendment, it says, “Slavery and involuntary servitude shall not exist in the United States in its territory except,” and then what it says after “exception” is when someone’s arrested and tried. And so, in a sense, our penal system is one where we—even the 13th Amendment says slavery is still allowed.

But Dred Scott had been a slave and had traveled outside of Missouri and was claiming his freedom. And the question was: Is he a citizen, so that he could even bring a case in federal court? You have to have something called “diversity jurisdiction,” jurisdiction between citizens of two different states, to be in federal court. And the court, first of all, found that he was not a citizen, and that no black—no black, free or otherwise—and this is important—even if he was free, the court was saying, you still cannot be a citizen, that no black in the United States—again, this is the Supreme Court justice saying this. Now, he actually was wrong, in the sense that there had been states that had extended citizenship since the beginning of its founding. But he made extreme—he went to extreme lengths to basically say that blacks could never be part of the political community. They weren’t perceived as people. One of the things that was made reference to is that “we the people,” could that include blacks? And Judge Taney said people were synonymous with citizens, and blacks could never be considered people under the U.S. Constitution.

Now, that case actually inflamed the country, in many ways. And it actually, interestingly enough, inflamed the Northern Republicans. But the structure of the case actually remains, in the sense that we still have not, to use President Obama’s language, created a more perfect union. We still have not come to full recognition of blacks and other people as full citizens, as full people. And one way we can demonstrate that is that when we see another human being, our brain is actually wired so that part of the brain lights up, just from recognition of another human being. And there are many situations where we can show Americans a black person, especially a person who’s been the victim of a crime; that part of the brain does not light up. We literally do not see a number of young black men as human beings. So we still live with the ghost of Dred Scott.

So I do think things need to be de-escalated. I think we actually should have a real systematic look at policing in the United States. We should make police accountable to their community. We should actually bring some of the stuff we’re learning about implicit bias into the discourse, so we move beyond “Is it racism? Is it not?” And we should actually have a real conversation about race and what it means in the 21st century, even though we have an African-American president.

— source

john a. powell, professor of law, African American studies and ethnic studies at the University of California, Berkeley. He is director of the Haas Institute for a Fair and Inclusive Society.

Posted in Racism, Social, ToMl, USA | Tagged , , | Leave a comment