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The governmental responses to the Paris terrorist attacks.

In response to the terrorist attacks in Paris last Friday night, France has rolled out its plans, seemingly prepared in advance much like the US’ response to 9/11: France is already increasing its bombing of Syria and is imposing strict new laws on its own people at home.

Despite the fact that at least half the terrorists in this case were already known to the French law enforcement community, the intelligence services mysteriously “ceased watching” the suspects a few days before the attacks. Oddly, and also reminiscent of 9/11, the French military and police forces were conducting anti-terrorist training exercises the morning of the attacks in Paris, so Paris was packed with law enforcement, but somehow the terrorists slipped around town to multiple locations unimpeded. The police response was notably slow at each location as well.  Despite these being obvious failures of the security community in France, the first steps rolled out in response are not directed as rebuke to or reform of these agencies, but are instead measures taken against the civilian population and which are a distinct curtailing of civil rights.  

Internally, French president Hollande has ordered a 3-month State of Emergency which will be extended further “as needed”. The state of emergency law allows French authorities to impose curfews, carry out random searches of private homes at any time, collect weapons owned by private citizens, use military tribunals rather than the courts, curtail public meetings, censor the press, order the house arrest of individuals (without trial), and close public places (most public places were closed for the week-end and the law allows for future closures at any time with little or no prior notification to the public).  The French government has already begun raids of private homes searching for accomplices to the terrorists and is increasing the number of soldiers patrolling Paris and suburbs. Right now, there are 5000 French military troops in Paris; there will be another 1500 added by Wednesday and the prime minister has promised to deploy another 10,000 troops throughout the rest of the country as quickly as possible. (There were already 7000 troops deployed internally in France since the “Charlie Hebdo” thing in January of this year, in addition to the number just in Paris alone.) This pretty much puts martial law in effect.

Hollande met with leaders of all the political parties in France over the week-end and they all agree with the new “state of emergency” law and to expanding participation of war abroad.  He asked for an increase in spending on security, police, and intelligence agencies, which will breach the EU’s budget agreements, and is seeking constitutional revisions to add to the powers of the president under emergency situations.   

Marie Le Pen, who is the leader of the National Front party (they are distinctly neo-fascists) called for the complete disarming of the suburbs, and Wauquiez, the secretary of the Le Republicans party (very right-wing) said that anyone in France who has an intelligence file (i.e., people being watched for one reason or another by the authorities) should be placed in internment camps.

Interior Minister Cazeneuve stated that the state of emergency might be used for “the dissolution of mosques in which people intervene to call for or promote hatred.”   What exactly constitutes “promoting hatred” is no doubt open to debate.

On Monday, Hollande made a speech to both houses of parliament in which he suggested sweeping changes to the democratic rights inherent in the French constitution and proposed modifying the constitution itself.  His measures would give arbitrary powers to the president and transfer authority from civilian institutions to the French military; he pointed out that the several articles supporting these sweeping changes were already part of the constitution under the state of emergency he imposed, but said that they needed to be modified and strengthened.  The articles in question allow the president full and arbitrary powers “when the institutions of the Republic, the independence of the Nation, its territorial integrity, or the carrying out of its international engagements are threatened in a grave and immediate way, and the regular functioning of the constitutional public authority is interrupted…”

It’s a fairly broad read of the articles to invoke them with the claim that ISIS could threaten all the institutions of France, or its independence and territorial integrity.  Nonetheless, massive changes appear to be in the works for the good people of France, who have enjoyed a free and democratic republic until now.

Joyeux Noel et bonne annee, gens. [Merry Christmas and happy new year, people.]

Other countries are calling for more bombing throughout the Middle East, as though killing more people will somehow stop blowback of the sort that the Paris attacks might have been.  It is also possible that the Paris events were a false flag designed to have the effect of solidifying the intent of the “coalition of the willing” to come together more firmly and utterly destroy Syria in particular and the Middle East in general.  We even had the requisite magic, indestructible passports and a peculiarly belated claim from ISIS that they were, in fact, behind the attacks.  It was only after Hollande claimed that he “knew” that ISIS was behind the attacks that ISIS thought to take credit.  I wonder how easy it is for someone fleeing a war-torn country to apply for a passport and how quickly that country can process the applications when it is under full military assault.  Millions of people have fled Syria; is it even likely that all, or most, of them waited for visitor’s passports before fleeing for their very lives?   It’s a moot point anyway; we are now being told the terrorists were not Syrian refugees, but French and Belgium nationals.  And why do these terrorists only target the civilian population, rather than the politicians and neocons who are responsible for the wars in their homelands?   If this is a case of false flag, it seems to be working.

At the G20 meeting taking place now, a bunch of countries (which are, well, noticeably not Syria nor territories of Syria nor colonies of Syria nor in any way, shape, or form countries going by the name of Syria) are deciding how Syria should be governed and run. The big questions seem to be: do we simply assassinate al Assad, demand he a) step down now or b) step down later, set up an [illegal] interim government without him (like we did in Libya just before we assassinated Ghaddafi), tell the people of Syria they will have early elections but al Assad cannot run for office this time, despite his winning the last election with 80% of the vote (like we did in Haiti, where we allowed Aristide to return home, but said he couldn’t run for office even if the people wanted him to – which they overwhelmingly did), and the final big question is, of course, do you suppose anyone will notice if we just fucking bomb Syria into a landfill and kill all the civilians in the meantime? Takes care of that part of the refugee problem, anyway.

The US now kind of wants Russia to take part in the bombing of Syria to get rid of our manufactured enemy ISIS (who, let’s face it, are getting a tad out of control), but don’t want Russia to bomb the “moderate” terrorists, who just happen to be aiming their sights on al Assad, whom we really want to get rid of.  I have to ask here, what the fuck is a “moderate” terrorist?  Is that a terrorist who will cut your head off but not eat your liver afterwards?  What we really want, of course, is that damn pipeline that al Assad won’t give us, and we hope Russia will ignore that losing the pipeline will hurt the Russian economy and can be convinced to not only help us get rid of ISIS, but along the way, also help us take down the only guy who is protecting Russia’s interests in that pipeline matter.  (“Real shame about your airplane there, Mr. Putin.  Shitty things happen when you don’t play by our rules.”)

Not one leader, and this is notably true in the US, which favors sanctions and other such assorted illegal actions in lieu of diplomacy, has suggested sanctions or investigations into who is buying all that black-market oil from ISIS which profits the group enormously.  Turkey and Iraq are among the known purchasers, and reports have been leaked that suggest at least two EU countries buy ISIS oil.  Somehow the US can sanction individuals and/or entire countries for any matter under the sun that affects “our interests”, but is completely nonchalant about the ISIS oil buyers or the methods of money transfers they utilize.  Remarkable.

France has placed itself in the absurd situation of seeking help from Russia against ISIS in Syria while at the very same time committed to the NATO buildup against Russia in Ukraine and eastern Europe.  The US and other NATO countries are doing the same thing, although few seem to have noticed the spectacular oddness of it all.  John Kerry, while in Paris a day ago, put the burden for intelligence-sharing on Russia and Iran (“…So the faster Russia and Iran give life to this process, the faster the violence can taper down, and we can isolate [IS] and Al Nusra and begin to do what our strategy has always set out to do”), despite the fact that we have been condemning both those countries for participating in military activity in the Syria up until this very moment, and have been making threats against both countries for decades.   We can only hope these idiots don’t start bombing each other (and us) in a mad melee while they are busy “coalescing” and bombing ISIS.

UK Prime Minister David Cameron announced he is adding financing to the military budget and doubling the drone fleet.  Countries all over the place are suddenly stating they are under “credible terrorist threats” and have begun canceling events, adding to their internal police forces and closing borders to refugees.  Roughly half the state governors in America have said they will not accept Syrian refugees – not that very many have come here in any case – despite the fact that it is not legal for them to bar refugees from their communities.

As for the larger US, we are suddenly bombing Libya again, in addition to Syria.  (Along with the seven or so other nations we are bombing.)  No authorization for any of the bombing we are doing anywhere, of course, and particularly egregious to be bombing a country we already ruined beyond repair a couple of years ago, but no-one in the media seems disturbed. Matter of fact, it is so humdrum that I’ve only seen one or two articles on the incident.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/national-security/us-officials-leader-of-islamic-state-in-libya-believed-killed-in-us-airstrike/2015/11/14/b42cb714-8af0-11e5-be39-0034bb576eee_story.html

The final paragraph in the above article sums up the media’s insouciance for facts and displays its ability to re-write even recent history, replacing truth with bullshit.

The Islamic State has been able to thrive in Libya in large part because of the country’s political instability four years after its revolution. Since last year, Libya has had two governments vying for resources and legitimacy. But neither is able to impose security across the vast desert nation or curb a sprawling array of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups.

It was not a revolution, those were CIA-funded, al Qaeda-affiliated “rebels” brought into the country of Libya to overthrow the then-current government.  Then an unbelievable amount of bombs were dropped under the lead of the US, ruining damn near everything, and then we assassinated the leader of this sovereign nation.  The country had been working pretty well up until that point, with Ghaddafi having over a 90% approval rating from the Libyans themselves.  And, by the way, the “sprawling array” of militias, militant cells, smugglers and criminal groups weren’t a problem until we wrecked the country.

In response to the events in Paris, I guess the PTB have decided their course of action: more of the same of what they’ve been doing.  Yeah, because that’s been working so well up to now.  We managed to create and fund al Qaeda and ISIS through our activities in the Middle East for all these long years, and we supply weapons to our “ally” Saudi Arabia, which in turn follows much the same set of Wahhabi beliefs that ISIS and the other Islamist militant groups do and which actively provides material and financial backing for terrorist groups worldwide.  The House of Saud is loathe to bomb ISIS, but has been savagely willing to use those weapons to bring hell on earth to Yemen and Pakistan.  Yesterday, it was announced that the US State Dept. has approved a new $1.3 bb sale of smart bombs to Saudi Arabia, which the Pentagon says will be used in the Saudis’ military campaigns in Syria and Yemen.  We consider Turkey an ally even as they purchase black-market oil from ISIS and back the “moderate terrorist” groups [al Qaeda and ISIS allies] and ignore the reports that our ally Israel is giving medical aid to ISIS wounded.  One thing that no-one will consider is to let the Arab nations figure out if they really want the kind of life ISIS is selling and let them sort it out for themselves.  

To underscore that our desire to spread weaponry, mayhem and misery is equal opportunity for the entire globe, the US Senate just cleared the revised Defense Authorization legislation for vote, legislation that will provide $715 mm to Iraqi forces fighting ISIS, $406 mm for the Syrian opposition forces (the so-called moderate terrorist groups), and $300 mm for lethal weapons for the neo-Nazis we put in power in Ukraine.

Obama has promised a quarter of a billion dollars to sponsor “maritime security” in the South China Sea.  The money will fund gunboat patrols and surveillance for Indonesia, the Philippines, Vietnam, and Malaysia as the US tries to gin up the territorial disputes with China in that area.  (Wait’ll he finds out that China, Japan and South Korea are holding meetings to work out some trade questions and the sea-lane disputes without him.  See note at bottom.)  Escalation of war threats all over the globe.

Sounds like a plan, if a dismal one.

Note: Looks like China and Japan are starting to figure out they need each other more than either needs the stupid war-mongering US. and its manufactured dispute over some sand bars:

Nov 2015 – S Korea, Japan, and China agree to restore trade ties. 
Regional powers also agree to restart trilateral meetings that have not been held since 2012 due to strained relations.
 Two articles.

http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2015/11/korea-japan-china-agree-restore-trade-ties-151101130148174.html

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-11-01/south-korea-china-japan-vow-to-strengthen-ties-at-summit/6903686

 
2 Comments

Posted by on November 16, 2015 in China, civil rights, Iran, Iraq, Libya, MIC, Russia, security state, Syria, Ukraine, Yemen

 

News round up, week ending 5/3/14.

Updated below.

Today’s post is brought to you by our corporate sponsor, the BigusFawk Co. [Big United States Fuckers Aligned for the World Kill.  Their slogan: Fuck you!  And you, and you, and you!].

First, we see that Ukraine not only got an unelected, US-picked junta installed courtesy of USA/CIA/NED/USAID interference in their country and now have to suffer under the austerity measures forced on them by the IMF, they also just got their draft reinstated.  It’s a free bonus gift they weren’t even expecting.

Ukraine reinstates military draft as NATO threatens Russia

NATO officials escalated their military build-up against Russia yesterday, as the pro-Western puppet regime in Kiev reinstated conscription in order to boost its crackdown on spreading pro-Russian protests in eastern Ukraine. […] [Teri’s note:  The acting  (e.g., installed, or interim government) President  Turchinov signed a decree (what we in the US call an executive order, as it comes from the president rather than going through Congress, or in Ukraine’s instance, through their parliament) reinstating compulsory military service for men aged between 18 and 25.]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/02/ukra-m02.html

38 people, all of them protesters against the neo-Nazi regime we have installed in Ukraine,  have been killed as a building was set on fire in Odessa. God help these people, who are being used as pawns in our games.  They had it bad enough before we decided to meddle in their affairs.

Washington responsible for fascist massacre in Odessa

3 May 2014

In what can only be described as a massacre, 38 anti-government activists were killed Friday after fascist-led forces set fire to Odessa’s Trade Unions House, which had been sheltering opponents of the US- and European-backed regime in Ukraine.

According to eye-witnesses, those who jumped from the burning building and survived were surrounded and beaten by thugs from the neo-Nazi Right Sector. Video footage shows bloodied and wounded survivors being attacked.

The atrocity underscores both the brutal character of the right-wing government installed in Kiev by the Western powers and the encouragement by the US and its allies of a bloody crackdown by the regime to suppress popular opposition, centered in the mainly Russian-speaking south and east of Ukraine.[…]

Despite Western media attempts to cover up what happened in Odessa—with multiple reports stating that “the exact sequence of events is still unclear”—there is no doubt that the killings in the southern port city were instigated by thugs wearing the insignia of the Right Sector, which holds positions in the Kiev regime, along with the like-minded Svoboda party. […]

The Odessa massacre is the largest death toll so far since the Ukrainian regime, at the urging of the Obama administration, renewed its full-scale military assault on anti-government protests and occupations. […]

At his press conference with Merkel, Obama seized on reports that two Ukrainian helicopters had been struck by ground fire. He cited unconfirmed allegations by the Ukrainian intelligence agency SBU that one was hit by a heat-seeking missile as proof that Russian forces were involved. By the evening, however, even the New York Times admitted that no evidence had been produced of heat-seeking missiles.

Along with Obama’s incendiary claim, his backing for Kiev’s military onslaught points to a drive by the US and its European partners to create civil war conditions and goad Russian President Vladimir Putin’s administration into intervening, in order to provide the pretext for crippling economic sanctions and a NATO confrontation with Russia. […]

Russia called another emergency UN Security Council meeting Friday to denounce Ukraine’s actions. Moscow’s ambassador, Vitaly Churkin, warned of “catastrophic consequences” if the military operation continued, only to be denounced by his US counterpart, Samantha Power, who called the attack “proportionate and reasonable.”

Power, who made a name for herself by championing US military interventions in Libya and elsewhere in the name of “human rights” and the “protection of civilians,” declared that Russia’s concern about escalating instability was “cynical and disingenuous.” In keeping with US government propaganda since the beginning of the crisis, she baldly asserted that Russia was the cause of the instability. […]

Ukraine’s initial military assault last month began after CIA Director James Brennan surreptitiously visited Kiev. A second push followed a visit by US Vice President Joseph Biden.

There is evidence of ongoing US involvement. The Russian Foreign Ministry said English-speaking foreigners had been seen among the Ukrainian forces mounting the assault on Slavyansk on Friday, echoing its previous charges that Greystone, a US military contractor, is working alongside the Ukrainian military. […]

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/03/ukra-m03.html

Also see: http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/05/02/washington-intends-russias-demise-paul-craig-roberts/

and:

http://chewhatyoucallyourpasa.blogspot.com/2014/05/what-happened-in-odessa.html

The US has worked out an agreement with the Philippines which will allow us access to five military bases there, despite the Philippine constitution, which has barred US forces from operating bases since the 1990’s.  Obama makes the repeated point that we are not opening new bases,  which is true enough.  We are just stationing our Navy in 5 already-existing bases “temporarily“;  the new agreement stipulates that we will have this access for ten years.   The US is claiming that this re-deployment, which is what it really is, is being done in part to help with “disaster response and humanitarian assistance”.  I’m a little surprised any country on earth falls for that line any more.  I wonder where we found the money for this – perhaps China gave us another loan?

United States troops will soon have access to upwards of five military bases across the Philippines as the result of an agreement signed earlier this week between nations, the Asian country’s chief negotiator told reporters on Friday. […]

Soon, officials are expected to announce which bases will formally be opened up to the US based off of maritime security, maritime domain awareness and humanitarian assistance and disaster response, according to Rappler’s report.

http://rt.com/usa/156428-philippines-edca-five-bases/ 

Azcueta’s announcement opens the door for the first American military deployments to Clark Air Force Base and the naval base in Subic Bay since DOD officially shuttered the facilities in 1991 and 1992, respectively. […]

Manila will receive $30 million in foreign military funding from the the United States this year, according to news reports — nearly three times the $11.9 million in military funds Washington pledged to the Philippines in 2011.  

That money will likely help support the hundreds of Marines expected to flood into the Philippines in the coming years. […]

http://thehill.com/policy/defense/231257-philippines-re-opens-military-bases-to-us-forces-

Here at home, we have a new proposal coming from the White House regarding highway maintenance.  [Spoiler alert: POTUS is not suggesting that we spend less money blowing up bridges, roads and other infrastructures abroad and instead spend that money on US infrastructure.]  My personal notes, not to be confused with the original text, are, as always, bracketed and in red.

White House opens door to tolls on interstate highways, removing long-standing prohibition.

With pressure mounting to avert a transportation funding crisis this summer, the Obama administration Tuesday opened the door for states to collect tolls on interstate highways to raise revenue for roadway repairs.  [As opposed to, for instance, taking the money from the bloated Pentagon budget, or reducing the amount we spend on spying programs, or making corporations pay their taxes, or ending the practice of sending “aid” money to affluent foreign countries, or any number of other more commonsense and fair ideas that would reduce the amount of already burdensome taxes the average person forks over every fucking day.]

The proposal, contained in a four-year, $302 billion White House transportation bill, would reverse a long-standing federal prohibition on most interstate tolling.  [I’ll say – the entire idea of the Federal Highway system was to avoid a toll system being imposed by the various states.]

Though some older segments of the network — notably the Pennsylvania and New Jersey turnpikes and Interstate 95 in Maryland and Interstate 495 in Virginia — are toll roads, most of the 46,876-mile system has been toll-free.

“We believe that this is an area where the states have to make their own decisions,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “We want to open the aperture, if you will, to allow more states to choose to make broader use of tolling, to have that option available.”  [I will, out of respect for my gentle reader, decline to take the opportunity of making the obvious joke about “open aperture” offered by Mr. Foxx in his remarks.]

The question of how to pay to repair roadways and transit systems built in the heady era of post-World War II expansion is demanding center stage this spring, with projections that traditional funding can no longer meet the need.

That source, the Highway Trust Fund, relies on the 18.4-cent federal gas tax, which has eroded steadily as vehicles have become more energy efficient.  [We can thus infer that the decline in funds is caused by the stupid taxpayers themselves, who should now pony up.  You did not think you were going to be allowed to save money on gas and keep that savings, did you?  You haven’t any idea how this capitalistic model works.]

“The proposal comes at the crucial moment for transportation in the last several years,” Foxx said. “As soon as August, the Highway Trust Fund could run dry. States are already canceling or delaying projects because of the uncertainty.”

While providing tolling as an option to states, the White House proposal relies on funding from a series of corporate tax reforms, most of them one-time revenue streams that would provide a four-year bridge to close the trust-fund deficit and permit $150 billion more in spending than the gas tax will bring in.  [Corporate tax reform?  Corporate tax reform?  The Obama proposals on corporate tax reform always include reducing corporate taxes. I am perplexed.  However, since this article declines to state what these reforms are, exactly, I will have to remain mystified.]  […]

Details of the president’s proposal, which he first outlined almost two months ago, were welcomed as a sign of growing momentum toward a resolution, even by those who couldn’t fully embrace his plan. […]

Terry O’Sullivan, president of the Laborers’ International Union of North America, said the bill helped “advance the discussion” but said a federal gas tax increase should be used to fund it.

“The gas tax remains the most tested and logical way of meeting our critical investment needs,” O’Sullivan said.

“For too long, Congress’s duct-tape approach has made our roads and bridges unsafe, destabilized the construction industry and slowed our economy.”  [Well, the duct tape approach, combined with austerity measures, while banks and corporations get free money and pay no taxes.]
The federal tax last was raised in 1993 and has not been adjusted for inflation.  [Neither has my pay, but I digress] […]

“Congress has an opportunity to not only save the transportation program, but to recommit to investing in the repairs and improvements our communities and businesses need,” said James Corless, the group’s director [the nonprofit Transportation for America].

Corless predicted that most Americans would accept tax increases to fund transportation.  [By this he means that most Americans will have tax increases foisted upon them whether they like it or not, and aside from some minor and insignificant written protests by unknown bloggers, most will be dumbly clueless about the issue.  Besides, the only alternative currently in play being the President’s proposed every-road-a-toll-road scheme, a gas tax increase might, in the end, be more digestible for the public.  Here in Maryland, the state just increased its state gas taxes by 3 cents per gallon this year.  This is what is known as a regressive tax.]

“When people understand where the dollars are being spent, the direct impact to their lives, they support paying their fair share,” he said.
Foxx said the highway trust fund would face a $63 billion shortfall over the next four years.  [Ironically, on Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee “sent a package of bills to the House floor that would cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the next ten years by making permanent tax provisions multinational corporations use to avoid paying U.S. taxes”.  I will give quotes from an article which covers this BigUSFawk project below the article you are currently reading.]   […]

The proposal emphasizes a fix-it-first approach that would give funding priority to existing roads, bridges and transit systems rather than expanding their network.

It would expand reforms intended to streamline environmental reviews and project delivery that were begun in the current federal highway bill.  [Ah, yes, streamlining environmental reviews.  The same procedure that brings BP back into the Gulf, allows rampant fracking without regard to consequences to the water we drink, and gives us many opportunities to view exciting youtube videos of oil-transport trains exploding into flames.  In for a penny, in for a pound, I always say; streamline it all.]

It also would expand popular loan-guarantee programs that have been used by state and local governments to fund projects. The White House plan would almost double funding — from $12.3 billion to $22.3 billion — for transit systems and intercity passenger rail.  [This sounds suspiciously like some public/private partnership deal in the works.  It also sounds much like the bond programs the big banks have been using to scam local governments for a decade now, and which have resulted in the broke-ass states having to cut public pension funds and, uh, do away with stuff like road repairs.]

In addition, the plan would increase the fine an automaker could face for a safety violation from the current $35 million to $300 million.
Though that proposal is not new, it takes on greater significance amid the debate over General Motors’s delayed recall of 2 million cars with faulty ignition switches that are alleged to have led to at least 13 deaths.

http://www.washingtonpost.com/local/trafficandcommuting/white-house-opens-door-to-tolls-on-interstate-highways-removing-long-standing-prohibition/2014/04/29/5d2b9f30-cfac-11e3-b812-0c92213941f4_print.html

Well, hey now, it turns out Yves Smith over at Naked Capitalism also thinks the above proposal might be a public/private partnership piece of shit:

Will “Highway Cliff” Allow Obama to Revive “Public/Private Partnership” Infrastructure Scam?:

http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2014/05/will-highway-fiscal-cliff-allow-obama-to-revive-public-private-partnerships-for-infrastructure.html

Now, let’s take a gander at the latest “corporate tax reform” as envisioned by our Congress.

Do-Nothing Congress Continues Helping GE, Apple, Other Multinational Tax Dodgers

On Tuesday, the House Ways and Means Committee sent a package of bills to the House floor that would cost American taxpayers hundreds of billions of dollars over the next ten years by making permanent tax provisions multinational corporations use to avoid paying U.S. taxes.

“For all of the talk in Washington about getting our fiscal house in order, the Committee did not consider how to pay for these expensive tax breaks,” said Dan Smith, U.S. PIRG Tax and Budget Advocate, “despite repeated attempts by Ranking Member Sandy Levin to raise the issue.”

H.R. 4429 would re-enact the currently expired “active financing” provision, and make it permanent. This provision is known as the “GE” loophole, because General Electric not only prodigiously benefits from it, but also because the company has sent an army of lobbyists to ensure the provision, which expired last year, was re-enacted.

Making the GE loophole permanent would cost nearly $60 billion over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation. The relevant Senate Committee took a slightly different approach, sending a two-year extension to the Senate floor that would cost “only” $7 billion. Another bill that cleared committee Tuesday was H.R. 4464, which would re-enact the “CFC look through” rule and make it permanent.

This provision is known as the Apple loophole, because Apple innovated it and uses it to protect billions it would owe U.S. tax on, if the tax code looked at where the money was earned – where the value was actually generated – rather than where companies can assign the profits. Making the Apple loophole permanent would cost $20.3 billion over ten years, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.

The Senate bill, since it would extend the provision for two years, would cost “only” $2 billion. “While Wall Street banks, tech giants, and pharmaceutical companies would get a windfall from these loopholes,” Smith added, “average taxpayers and small business owners would get stuck footing the bill through cuts to public programs, higher taxes, or a larger deficit.”  [Cuts to public programs like road and transportation upkeep, addressed in the preceding article.]

Two other corporate tax cuts that cleared committee Tuesday were not about tax havens, however. They reflected other problematic policies. One is called the “Research Credit.” As Steve Wamhoff, Legislative Director for Citizens for Tax Justice, explained, “The so-called research credit does not encourage research. Congress should not re-enact it, much less make it permanent until it addresses the problems so that it actually encourages research.”

If the House gets its way, the “Research” Credit would cost $155 billion over 10 years. Again, the Senate is considering a two-year extension of a slightly different version of the credit, which also does not address the issues that concerns Wamhoff.

The last and arguably least problematic tax cut bill to clear committee Tuesday aims to inspire smaller businesses to invest in their businesses by making the tax treatment of such investment more favorable. But, Wamhoff says, “I do not expect it to encourage investment or help grow the economy. We work with some small business folks, and they say what will get them to invest is more customers, not more tax breaks.”  [These customers would be the now mythical “US consumer base”.  Since the current labor participation rate is only 62.8% and 1 in 5 American households have no-one in the house actually working, the “US consumer base” is largely a rumor not related to any fact in evidence.]

The smaller business tax cut would cost $73 billion over 10 years. Wamhoff, like Smith, praised Michigan Democrat Sandy Levin: “Under Levin’s leadership,” Wamhoff said, “even those Democrats who support the tax breaks decided that if the country couldn’t afford to deficit-finance unemployment insurance and food stamps, it couldn’t afford to deficit-finance these tax breaks.”

Unfortunately for taxpayers, House Republicans didn’t agree and sent these bills to the House floor.

http://www.benzinga.com/news/14/04/4508611/do-nothing-congress-continues-helping-ge-apple-other-multinational-tax-dodgers?utm_campaign=partner_feed&utm_source=marketfy_partners_bobz&utm_medium=marketfy_partners&utm_content=site

On my note in the above article, “1 in 5 American households have no-one in the house actually working”:

“[…] In 20% of American families in 2013, according to new data released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), not one member of the family worked.  A family, as defined by the BLS, is a group of two or more people who live together and who are related by birth, adoption or marriage. In 2013, there were 80,445,000 families in the United States and in 16,127,000—or 20%–no one had a job. The BLS designates a person as ’employed’ if ‘during the survey reference week’ they ‘(a) did any work at all as paid employees; (b) worked in their own business, profession, or on their own farm; (c) or worked 15 hours or more as unpaid workers in an enterprise operated by a member of the family.’ […]”

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-apr-30-2014-the-boy-in-the-bubble/

Furthermore, although the official unemployment rate went down for the month of April (to 6.3 %), this was largely because the labor force participation rate [LFPR] also went down again.  I explained the LFPR in my last post; this number basically tells us how many people, out of the number of people eligible to work, who are actually employed.  The labor force number has suddenly dropped again, from the previous 63.2% to 62.8%, the lowest since 1978.  800,000 people dropped out of the labor force in March.  These are people who have simply abandoned  the search for nonexistent jobs.  That is simply a staggering number.

This means that, despite the bogus, heavily massaged, and virtually meaningless number given to us as the “unemployment rate”, the population of job-eligible people who are working is declining rapidly.  Average wages have also remained completely stagnant, but I suppose we must be grateful that the oligarchy didn’t cut our wages significantly last month.

Moving on, the Supreme Court has once again offered irrefutable proof that it has no interest in upholding the Constitution.  There is no need to mention the WH or Congressional positions on constitutional law; that horse left the barn some years (and administrations) ago.

Supreme Court Rejects Challenge to NDAA Detention Power
By Jason Ditz On April 28, 2014

The US Supreme Court has further enhanced the administration’s ability to detain anyone, at any time, on any pretext today, when it refused to hear the Hedges v. Obama case, meaning an Appeals Court ruling on the matter will stand.

The case stems from a 2012 lawsuit brought by Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, Noam Chomsky and others, and sought to block the enforcement of a 2012 National Defense Authorization Act statute that allows the president to unilaterally impose indefinite detention on anyone, without access to courts, if he personally believes something they did “aided” the Taliban or al-Qaeda.

Courts initially banned such detentions, over intense objection from President Obama, who argued that prohibiting the detentions would be an unconstitutional restriction of presidential power.

The Appeals Court eventually restored the detention power, however, insisting that Hedges et al didn’t have standing to contest their future detention because they couldn’t prove that the president might decide to detain them at some point in the future.

The standing argument effectively makes it impossible to challenge the NDAA statute, as it precludes challenges before the detention takes place, and once a person has been disappeared into military custody under the NDAA, the law explicitly denies them any access to the courts.

http://news.antiwar.com/2014/04/28/supreme-court-rejects-challenge-to-ndaa-detention-power/

There have been a number of articles about the EPA’s proposal to allow a massive increase in the use of the herbicide known as 2,4-D, one of the main ingredients in the defoliant used during the Vietnam War (Agent Orange). Because the weeds in fields where genetically modified foods are grown (commonly referred to as GMOs, or as genetically engineered – GE – crops) are becoming resistant to glyphosate, the Big Ag growers would like to resort to more powerful herbicides.  The GMO crops are inherently immune to RoundUp (glyphosate) and 2,4-D; that was the whole point in developing them and why they are called “RoundUp Ready”.  Another GMO crop, Bt Corn, was created to act as a pesticide in and of itself.  However, insects feeding on the Bt Corn are likewise becoming immune to the pesticide within the corn.  Time to spray stronger crap and lots of it.  Monsanto, Dow, Bayer, et.al., are quick to point out that it was not the 2,4-D which turned out to be the big human killer in Agent Orange, but another active ingredient called 2,4,5-T, which was itself contaminated with something else (dioxins). Studies conducted by independent scientists and research labs (e.g., those not employed by Monsanto) are now showing that glyphosate and 2,4-D do, in fact, have an adverse effect on people and animals, especially given the massive amounts of the stuff being sprayed on the crops throughout the growing cycle.

It’s all bullshit and flim-flammery, of course; the fact is that the problem is not glyphosate alone, or 2,4-D alone, or any of the other major ingredients of these herbicides and pesticides alone, all of which are questionable enough, but the addition of inert ingredients.  These additions create entirely new compositions with their own unique hazards.  Although the combinations can be highly toxic, the EPA does not test these cocktails.  Why?  Hey, I’m glad you asked.  Turns out the mixtures are “proprietary trade secrets” and don’t have to be disclosed to anyone.  Exactly like the protected “proprietary” mix of toxic sludge going into fracking fluids and then dumped into our water supplies.  When Agent Orange was created, it was produced expressly for the purpose of chemical warfare.  Were we a more alert and informed society, we might still recognize it as such.

Used in yards, farms and parks throughout the world, Roundup has long been a top-selling weed killer. But now researchers have found that one of Roundup’s inert ingredients can kill human cells, particularly embryonic, placental and umbilical cord cells.

The new findings intensify a debate about so-called “inerts” — the solvents, preservatives, surfactants and other substances that manufacturers add to pesticides. Nearly 4,000 inert ingredients are approved for use by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.[…]

Until now, most health studies have focused on the safety of glyphosate, rather than the mixture of ingredients found in Roundup. But in the new study, scientists found that Roundup’s inert ingredients amplified the toxic effect on human cells—even at concentrations much more diluted than those used on farms and lawns.[…]

“This clearly confirms that the [inert ingredients] in Roundup formulations are not inert,” wrote the study authors from France’s University of Caen. “Moreover, the proprietary mixtures available on the market could cause cell damage and even death [at the] residual levels” found on Roundup-treated crops, such as soybeans, alfalfa and corn, or lawns and gardens. […]

Inert ingredients are often less scrutinized than active pest-killing ingredients. Since specific herbicide formulations are protected as trade secrets, manufacturers aren’t required to publicly disclose them. Although Monsanto is the largest manufacturer of glyphosate-based herbicides, several other manufacturers sell similar herbicides with different inert ingredients.

The term “inert ingredient” is often misleading, according to Caroline Cox, research director of the Center for Environmental Health, an Oakland-based environmental organization. Federal law classifies all pesticide ingredients that don’t harm pests as “inert,” she said. Inert compounds, therefore, aren’t necessarily biologically or toxicologically harmless – they simply don’t kill insects or weeds.

But some inert ingredients have been found to potentially affect human health. Many amplify the effects of active ingredients by helping them penetrate clothing, protective equipment and cell membranes, or by increasing their toxicity. […]

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/weed-whacking-herbicide-p/

On to this week’s news about 2,4-D then:

The US Environmental Protection Agency has revealed a proposal for mass use of Dow Chemical’s herbicide 2,4-D on the company’s genetically-engineered corn and soybeans.

The GE [genetically engineered] crops were developed to withstand several herbicides, including 2,4-D. Dow would be allowed to sell the herbicide if the EPA approves it following a 30-day public comment period.[…]

Dow’s genetically-engineered corn and soybeans – known as Enlist – have received preliminary approval from the US Department of Agriculture. Should Enlist crops win ultimate authorization, the USDA said that would increase the annual use of 2,4-D (2,4-dichlorophenoxyacetic acid) in the United States from 26 million pounds per year to possibly 176 million pounds.

The crops are designed to withstand high doses of glyphosate – brought to market by biotech giant Monsanto as their Roundup weed killer – and 2,4-D. […]

Scientists, human and environmental health advocates, farming organizations, and food transparency groups have urged government regulators to think twice about unleashing more 2,4-D. […]

Medical researchers have linked exposure to 2,4-D, and other chemicals like it, to increased rates of cancer, Parkinson’s disease, endocrine disruption, and low sperm counts, among other conditions. Higher rates of birth anomalies have been found where there is heavy use of 2,4-D.

Health concerns had prompted the Natural Resources Defense Council to petition the EPA to halt use of the herbicide, though that effort was defeated in 2012.  “With this decision it is clear that the EPA is serving the interests of Dow Chemical and the biotech industry rather than protecting our health and the environment,” said Andrew Kimbrell, executive director of the Center for Food Safety.

In an agribusiness chemical arms race, Dow’s development of 2,4-D-resistant crops came about once first-generation genetically-modified crops made by Monsanto evolved to resist the company’s Roundup herbicide. The flood of new GE crops increased the use of glyphosate, which has its own links to a host of ill health effects, and glyphosate-resistant “superweeds.”

“2,4-D is not a solution to glyphosate-resistant weeds,” Kimbrell said. “Weeds will rapidly evolve resistance to 2,4-D as well if these crops are approved, driving a toxic spiral of ever-increasing herbicide use. Dow’s Enlist crops are a textbook example of unsustainable farming, profiting pesticide companies to the detriment of American farmers, public health and the environment.”

Nevertheless, Dow maintains that farmers need an answer for “hard to control” weeds. […]

http://rt.com/usa/156272-epa-dow-agent-orange-herbicide/

Monsanto’s GMO “Bt Corn”, which now makes up 86% of the corn crop in the US, is not technically a food product.  If you were confused by the references to both the EPA and the USDA in the above article, part of that is because Bt Corn is registered and regulated by the EPA as a pesticide.  The bacteria, bacillus thuringiensis, or Bt, is genetically inserted into the corn.  Thus the pesticide is actually produced inside the plant, as part of the plant, so not only can it never be washed off: it makes the plant itself a pesticide.  Which you are eating every time you eat anything containing corn or corn syrup; the latter ingredient is found in damn near every food product on American grocery store shelves.  The EPA lists these GMOs as Plant-Incorporated Protectants (PIP).  You can find the list of GMOs thus recognized on the “Type of Pesticide: Plant-Incorporated Protectant (PIP)” chart at:
http://www.epa.gov/pesticides/biopesticides/pips/smartstax-factsheet.pdf

One might think that being listed as a pesticide would automatically create the need for mandatory labeling on food products containing this ingredient.  One would be, in a word, wrong.  There is an inherent doublespeak going on with GMOs in general anyway, and has been since they were first formulated.  The biotech firms were allowed to patent their grotesque creations based on the idea that they were “unique”, which they sure as shit are.  Bt could have never naturally become part of corn seed, for example.  Another GMO patent exists on tomatoes combined with salmon genes (yes, the fish), done to make the tomatoes viable into the cold weather season.  But when it comes to labeling and regulating these things, we are told that the products needn’t be labeled because they are “just the same” as the traditional food products.  They obviously shouldn’t be allowed to have it both ways.  And, no, these products are not equivalent to hybrids, an argument I see all the time presented by GMO proponents.  Hybrids can occur naturally between closely related species, especially among plants.  A cross between a tomato and a salmon would never occur in nature, nor would a cross between corn and the Bt bacteria.

GMO “RoundUp Ready” crops are genetically altered so the plant can take multiple hits of glyphosate and/or 2, 4-D without being killed.  The weeds around them are deader than dead, but the RoundUp Ready crops are not.  This does not mean they aren’t absorbing the herbicide; they are.  They just aren’t killed by it.  When you eat these foods, you are eating the glyphosate as well.  The crops are sprayed many, many times during the growth period and right before harvest are put through what is called “crop desiccation”; i.e., fully saturating the fields with RoundUp to kill off all the green matter (as opposed to the fruit or vegetable itself) to make it easier for the harvesting equipment to go through.  Desiccation is done immediately before the harvest; it is absorbed by the crop, just like the earlier applications of herbicide and cannot be washed off.  Then the “food” is harvested, processed, packaged, and sold to you.  I don’t know how much RoundUp a human can safely eat before getting sick or dying, but since the warning label on RoundUp reads, in part, “Keep out of reach of children, harmful if swallowed, avoid contact with eyes or prolonged contact with skin,” I suspect it is much less than what we are being fed.

Pre-harvest crop desiccation (also siccation) refers to the application of a herbicide to a crop shortly before harvest. The herbicide most widely used is glyphosate, while use of diquat and glufosinate is much more limited. For potatoes, carfentrazone-ethyl is used. Other desiccants are cyanamide, cinidon-ethyl, and pyraflufen.

Uneven crop growth is a problem in northern climates, with wet summers, or poor weed control. With desiccation a number of advantages are cited: More even ripening is achieved and harvest can be conducted earlier; weed control is initiated for a future crop; earlier ripening allows for earlier replanting; desiccation reduces green material in the harvest putting less strain on harvesting machinery. Some crop may be mechanically destroyed when crop desiccation machinery moves through the field.

The application of glyphosate differs between countries significantly. It is commonly used in the UK where summers are wet and crops may ripen unevenly. Thus in the UK 78% of oilseed rape is desiccated before harvest, but only 4% in Germany. Other countries have banned desiccation practices, such as Austria[6] and Switzerland.

Pre-harvest desiccation has been applied to a wide variety of plants including: cereals, oilseed rape, legumes, linseed, lupins, flax, linola, maize, sunflower, kiwi, wine grapes, raspberries, apples, soy, alfalfa, and potatoes.

Criticism:
Glyphosate is applied to plants just before harvest and absorbed by plants; it cannot be washed out prior to human use. Herbicides can also reach humans through meat and milk of cattle that has been fed herbicide-treated fodder. It has been identified in the urine of urban dwellers who do not handle glyphosate at concentrations of 0.5-2ng/ml, much higher than allowed in drinking water (<0.1ng/ml).  The extent and the effects of an accumulating glyphosate contamination of humans and animals deserve further studies.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crop_desiccation

Suggested further reading on GMOs:
http://www.gmfreeze.org/site_media/uploads/publications/glyphosate_residues_in_UK_food_final.pdf

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/10/23/glyphosate-found-in-human-urine.aspx

http://www.globalresearch.ca/monsanto-roundup-the-impacts-of-glyphosate-herbicide-on-human-health-pathways-to-modern-diseases/5342520

http://www.organicconsumers.org/monsanto/roundup.cfm

EPA denies petition to halt use of 2,4-D in 2012:
http://www.epa.gov/oppfead1/cb/csb_page/updates/2012/2-4d-petition.html

A new study reveals an insecticide produced in GM corn actually gets absorbed into the human body:
http://foodintegritynow.org/2011/05/19/gmo-study-omg-you’re-eating-insecticide/

and:
http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/toxin-from-gm-crops-found-in-human-blood/1/137728.html

An accessible intro and explanation of genetically engineered products and why there is cause for concern with genetic splicing.  If you choose only one article to read out of the list, this is probably the one you want:   http://thegeneticengineeringdebate.blogspot.ca/2014/02/genetics-101-why-you-should-be.html

Update Sunday, 4 May:

On the US military agreement with the Philippines, we are finally seeing the document itself.  I will remind you that the Philippines’ president, Aquino, signed this agreement without any consultation with his legislature: this is basically another “presidential executive order”, which bypasses the normal legal processes in a country.

US military basing deal sets legal framework for neocolonial rule in the Philippines

The US basing deal signed during US President Barack Obama’s recent visit to the Philippines, and now surreptitiously published in the “Historical Papers” section of the Philippine government’s web site, marks a reactionary political milestone in the Philippines and Asia. […]

Under the EDCA [Enhanced Defense Cooperation Agreement], Washington receives exclusive access to bases, referred to as “agreed locations,” throughout the Philippines. The list of “agreed locations,” which the document does not even bother to specify, can also be added to at the request of the US military. The “agreed locations” are to be exclusively accessed by US forces and contractors. […]

Effectively, moreover, the US military is being given free rein throughout the country. The EDCA states that, in addition to the “agreed locations,” US forces have access to “public land and facilities (including roads, ports, and airfields), including those owned or controlled by local government.” There is no space or facility within the Philippines exempted from this clause.

The agreement authorizes the deployment of unlimited numbers of US military and civilian personnel and US military contractors to the Philippines. Once there, they are authorized to conduct “training, transit, support, and related activities; refueling of aircraft; bunkering of vessels; temporary maintenance of vehicles, vessels and aircraft; temporary accommodation of personnel; communications; prepositioning of equipment, supplies and materiel; deploying of forces and materiel; and any other such activities as the Parties may agree.”

Any US war materiel in the country is for the “exclusive use of United States forces,” which shall be provided with “unimpeded access to Agreed Locations.”

These terms provide a legal framework for Washington to use the Philippines as a staging area for war against China, or whatever other target is selected by US imperialism. During the Vietnam War, Washington used its bases in the Philippines to launch bombing raids targeting North Vietnam and Cambodia. […]

The agreement is being imposed in blatant violation of the Philippine constitution, which bans the presence of any foreign troops or bases in the country without the approval of a treaty by a two-thirds majority in the Senate. The Philippine legislature, which is not party to the agreement, has been left with no legal recourse to contest it. […]

The agreement exempts US forces from oversight under Philippine or international law—a measure recalling US policy in occupied countries like Iraq, or imperialist extraterritoriality clauses on colonial countries of 19th-century Asia. Instead, US forces and contractors will “operate under US law, regulations and policies.” […]

Article XI of the EDCA states, “Disputes and other matters subject to consultation shall not be referred to any national or international court, tribunal or other similar body, or to any third party for settlement.”

This article precludes the review of the EDCA by either the Philippine judiciary or legislature. Should a US serviceman shoot or rape a Filipino, or run over a child with his car—events which have repeatedly occurred around US military bases in Asia—he will be subject to US law and jurisdiction. Any disputes over the extraterritorial jurisdiction of the United States within the Philippines, or any other aspect of the agreement, may not be reviewed by the Philippine judiciary.

The United States is to pay no rent whatsoever for its Philippine bases. The document even arrogantly specifies that if Washington chooses to vacate a particular base, it can exact from Manila “compensation for improvements” it has made.

Washington is also guaranteed access to “water, electricity, and other public utilities” at the same rate paid by the Philippine government. All taxes and fees exacted on these utilities, which all Filipinos are obliged to pay, will be paid for the US military by the Philippine government. […]

In one of the few restrictions imposed on US forces, the agreement stipulates that, as dictated by the Philippine constitution, Washington may not “preposition” any nuclear weapons in the country.

Declassified documents from the period of the US occupation of Subic naval base and Clark Airbase have shown that in the past Washington illegally stored nuclear weapons in the Philippines. What is more, Washington routinely refuses to comment on which of its ships carry nuclear weapons. Given the limits imposed by the EDCA on the inspections that can be conducted by the Philippine “authorized representative,” this clause is toothless.

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/05/03/phil-m03.html

On Ukraine, I would like to note that this weekend, I have seen the repeated use of the word “rebels” by the Western media (i.e., US and Europe) to describe the protesters in Ukraine.  The protesters are not “rebels”, a word used to deliberately provoke images of insurgents and terrorist groups.  They are Ukrainian citizens who are protesting against the junta installed in Kiev.  Some of the protesters want to rejoin Russia, but not many, and certainly not most of them.  Some agreed with their ousted president that Ukraine would have been better served by financial aid coming from Russia rather than through the EU.  The EU/US aid comes via the IMF, and includes serious austerity measures and steps to make Ukraine a NATO border country.  Most of the protesters are federalists.  Seeing that the new government, which they did not elect, is largely comprised of fascists, who are making distasteful agreements with the IMF and NATO, this group – by far the majority in the protest movement – want autonomous states within Ukraine, each having a locally-elected government allowed some independence from the central Ukraine government, which they would like to be weaker.

The BBC, the Washington Post, and Reuters have all begun using the word “rebels” to describe these Ukrainians, as evidenced by this Reuters headline, “Moscow May Day parade lauds Putin as rebels seize more Ukraine buildings”, and this quote from the WaPo, in an utterly over-the-top, rancid piece of jingoistic filth: “Ukraine suffered its bloodiest day in nearly three months on Friday, with at least nine people killed when the army launched its first major assault on a rebel stronghold and 34 killed in clashes between pro-Ukrainian and pro-Russian mobs in the Black Sea port city of Odessa. […]”.  [http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/ukraine-army-launches-assault-on-rebel-stronghold/2014/05/02/b1c589e8-be8f-43a1-9927-13310c24b653_story.html?hpid=z1]

A poll taken in Ukraine mid-April revealed the following (this was a poll in which Ukrainians themselves were invited to participate; not one of those stupid “what do Americans think” things):

2/3 of the respondents think Ukraine should remain a united country.  Only a minority support reunification with Russia.  Majorities also favor the idea of autonomous states with locally elected officials rather than power concentrated in Kiev.  [Hence, we see that protesters are not necessarily “pro-Russian”.  That label is a simplistic political term used by the media.  The Ukrainian citizens themselves are obviously much more capable of thinking about and forming opinions on complex issues than are western media and western leaders.]

Over 50% believe acting President Turchynov is “illegally occupying his post,” and just under half felt the same way about about acting Prime Minister Yatsenyuk [“Yats”].

74% in Donetsk and 70% in Luhansk feel that the entire interim government is “illegitimate”.

Ukraine is supposed to hold an actual national election on May 25.  Despite the fact the acting government is merely a temporary, interim group (more accurately called a junta) and was not elected, the IMF is releasing the first $3 bb of its $17 bb loan to this acting government immediately.  In other words, an illegally installed “government” gets to make the decision of putting the entire country in debt to the western banking cartel and additionally, to decide how to start spending that money.  An IMF staff report reads that should the central government in Kiev “lose control” over the eastern section of Ukraine, the terms of the loan will have to be re-designed.  The US and Europe do not seem to regard this as blackmail or an instigation toward civil war: the IMF is sort of goading the junta into further violence against protesters as Turchynov and Yatsenyuk try to keep their deal with the IMF in place.

The US State Dept. announced that USAID is giving another $1.2 mm to “support Ukrainian media outlets” as they prepare for the Ukrainian presidential election.

“This additional funding will help to protect vulnerable journalists while also advancing press freedoms and democratic governance in Ukraine. USAID supports respect for universal rights around the world as central to its mission that we’ve talked a lot about in here as well.” – State Dept briefing, 2 may ’14

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/05/225545.htm

Yessirreebob, that good old USAID (CIA) and its love of press freedom and democratic governance.

There had been an interesting exchange during the previous day’s press briefing where a reporter asked the State Dept. spokeswoman what she thought about the May Day demonstrations in Russia, which the reporter first mistakenly called “protests”.  Because he opened with that word, and because Ms. Harf was completely clueless as to what he was talking about (callowness being the predominant trait exhibited by State Dept personnel), this amusing conversation took place:

QUESTION: It’s the first time – well, apparently since the break-up of the Soviet Union that they’ve had such large May Day protests in Moscow.

MS. HARF: Well, we – I actually haven’t seen those reports, but we do support the rights of people to peacefully protest.

QUESTION: So – but they were shouting out things like Putin is right, proud of their country, let’s support Putin’s decisions.

MS. HARF: Well, just because I disagree with what they’re saying doesn’t mean I don’t think they should be able to say it.

QUESTION: So given that you support the right to protest, did you see the similar protests that were happening in the Red Square as well in Russia?  But, I mean, obviously, we’ve talked a lot in here about the propaganda that the United States feels that the Russian people are being fed through such things as RT. Do you – are these – are the hundred thousand people who turned out in Moscow, are they deluded?

MS. HARF: Again, I haven’t seen all those reports. But we don’t agree with the notion that what President Putin and Russia has done is right, that there’s any legal basis for it, certainly, and that’s why we’ve been very clear that there will be continued consequences.

http://www.state.gov/r/pa/prs/dpb/2014/05/225493.htm

Since Ms. Harf cannot tell you about it, I will.  100,000 people gathered in Moscow’s Red Square to celebrate May Day.  The crowd was jubilant and carried signs supporting Russia itself, Putin, and the joining of Crimea back into Russia.  Putin currently has an 82% approval rating in Russia.  There has been an upswell of patriotism and loyalty in Russia.  This is only to be expected: as I have said before, when a country is threatened from without, either through military actions or economic sanctions (a form of warfare), the people do not tend to start hating their own government, but instead protectively “circle the wagons” around their country and respond with heightened feelings of unity and loyalty.

Americans would react the same way, were some country to sanction us and try to ruin us economically.  We don’t much notice or care when this is done to us by our own leaders and corporate oligarchy, but you won’t hear me accusing Americans of being overly discerning and insightful.

May Day was also joyfully celebrated in Cuba.  You won’t read about that either, Cuba being another country we have been sanctioning and trying to ruin for generations, so our media won’t report on anything which shows Cubans actually liking their country.  Nonetheless, 600,000 Cubans marched through Revolution Square and millions more held celebrations in other cities, exhibiting signs, waving Cuban flags, and expressing support for their revolution and leaders.  There were thousands of banners honoring Fidel and Raul Castro, Che Guevara, and the late Venezuelan president Chavez.   And I doubt the Cubans, by and large, much give a shit if our reporters cover their holidays.

 

Yes, it is about energy supplies.

I am going to post an article (below) from Glen Ford, whom I greatly admire, which was published at both GlobalResearch and his own website, Black Agenda Report.  First, however, I would like to mention a couple of things.  Did anyone else notice that just as in Greece, Libya, Ireland, Italy, Spain, and Portugal, the new (acting) head of the Ukraine government, Yatsenyuk, is a banker?  Why is this, do you suppose?

http://www.nytimes.com/2014/03/13/world/europe/ukraine-acting-prime-minister-arseniy-yatsenyuk.html?_r=0

Also see my own article from 2011 for a quick recap of Libya, Italy and Greece, which had bankers installed as the heads of their governments in a rapid cascade:

http://teri.nicedriving.org/2011/11/replacements/

Obama issued some more new sanctions this morning on several more Russian individuals and a Russian bank.  It is interesting that he can, without Congress, order the seizure of foreigners’ assets and money, but I guess since he could, in theory at least, demand that they be drone-bombed to death; i.e., summarily executed, the seizure of assets is considered rather mild punishment.

As I pointed out in my last post, there have been sudden developments in our “drill, baby, drill” theme park (a.k.a., the United States) in the past week or two.  Obama and Congress refer to turning our country into a dead zone as “all of the above” policy; unfortunately, aside from a few shaggy protesters, most Americans seem oblivious to the country-wide destruction going on right under their noses.  Or they praise it as “gaining energy independence”.  It comes at a cost: toxic waste, loss and/or poisoning of our fresh water supplies, devastation of the land, and utter ruination of the ecosystem.   We seem to have the mistaken notion that this “energy independence” is a wealth creator for the average person living here; a stupendously ignorant misconception, given that we do not have nationalized resources.  (Nationalized?  Like, y’know, socialism?  We don’t want no stinkin’ socialism.)  The energy companies lease land for a few bucks a year on hundred-year leases and they get to keep the profits on anything they pull out from under the ground.  You get to try and live next door to a fracking operation and hope that your water is safe to drink, or eat seafood which is genetically deformed and full of oil and Corexit, or hope that your house isn’t destroyed by sudden earthquakes.  Your children will wonder what the fuck we were thinking as they look out over barren landscapes and oceans bereft of life.  That’s assuming some deep water drilling site or fracking operation doesn’t hit the Big Kahuna and set off an earthquake that entirely changes the shape of the country.  You aren’t going to profit from this exercise.  The oil companies are.  That’s the system we have here.  And, by the way, your tax money is going to pay subsidies to the oil companies so they can have even more money.  And maybe your son or daughter will get to sign up to fight for the glorious cause of stealing another country’s oil (to give to the US oil companies), something we seem to find patriotic and praise-worthy.  It’s all rather baffling.

Glen Ford (bolding mine):

U.S. Prepares to Gas Russia Into Submission

by BAR executive editor Glen Ford

“Washington’s strategy is to permanently ratchet up tensions to ‘new cold war’ levels to justify sanctions against Russian energy exports.”

The massive – and desperate – American offensive against world order is entering a new phase, as the U.S. prepares to resume its historical status as global energy superpower. The Obama administration’s brazen implantation of a rabidly anti-Russian, fascist-led regime in Ukraine places U.S. proxies astride pipelines that carry much of Siberia’s gas to Europe and beyond. Seventy-six percent of Russia’s natural gas exports are bound for Europe, the bulk of it to Germany, Italy, France and the United Kingdom. Russia’s weight in the world is largely derived, not from its economically burdensome nuclear arsenal, but as an energy giant. The U.S.-engineered coup in Kiev sets the stage for a protracted assault on Russia’s energy trade, which accounts for more than half of Moscow’s federal expenditures. Without its huge oil and gas exports, Russia deflates like a leaky dirigible.

Even the Americans were not so stupid as to believe that their neo-Nazi friends in Kiev could somehow pry Russia from its naval base in Crimea. Such was never the plan. Rather, Moscow’s response to the overthrow of Ukraine’s elected government was predictable, as was that of the Russian-speaking Crimean majority. Washington’s strategy is to permanently ratchet up tensions to “new cold war” levels to justify sanctions against Russian energy exports while exploiting America’s own natural gas “surplus” as an enhanced weapon of global hegemony.

“The U.S.-engineered coup in Kiev sets the stage for a protracted assault on Russia’s energy trade.”

Thanks to shale fracking, the United States recently surpassed Russia as the world’s number one exporter of natural gas, and will next year become the top oil producer [14]. As the New York Times [15] reported on March 5, “The administration’s strategy is to move aggressively to deploy the advantages of its new resources to undercut Russian natural gas sales to Ukraine and Europe.” That’s not the half of it. When Moscow stood up to U.S.-backed jihadists in Syria, the Obama administration understood that the U.S.-Russia button could not be “reset” to Washington’s satisfaction under current conditions. An assertive Russia, increasingly coordinated with China, must be taken out of international contention. Washington will move to crush, or at least seriously disrupt, Russia under its “sanctions as war by other means” machine, by targeting its energy exports, while simultaneously boosting the foreign markets for U.S. natural gas.

The U.S. government tells its people that it spends more on weaponry than the rest of the world’s nations, combined, in order to, among other things, maintain the free flow of energy throughout the planet. But, that didn’t stop Washington from attempting to cripple Venezuela’s [16] oil production in 2003, or from preventing Iran, once the world’s fourth largest exporter, from marketing more than a fraction [17] of her production under the current U.S. sanctions regime. U.S. rulers have never been guardians of free oil flow. Rather, American policy is designed to ensure that U.S.-based corporations and financiers dominate the global energy trade, and that the dollar remains central to energy transactions, regardless of where the oil and gas comes from.

Russia also plays a key role as the energy giant among the BRIC bloc, which is the most likely venue for hatching alternatives to dollar hegemony. Venezuela, which barters oil with some of its Latin American partners and uses the proceeds of its dollar-denominated exports to build structures of resistance to U.S. imperialism, must also be forced back into line, or taken out of the game.

“U.S. rulers have never been guardians of free oil flow.”

Ever since the Arab oil embargo of 1973, U.S. presidents have trumpeted the quest for “energy self-sufficiency” as a national security imperative, requiring subsidies for domestic energy production. Richard Nixon proclaimed: “In the last third of this century, our independence will depend on maintaining and achieving self-sufficiency in energy.” In truth, oil producers enjoyed bounteous subsidies when the U.S. was indisputably the oil production king of the world, from 1925, when U.S. oil fields accounted form more than 70 percent [18] of total global production, to the early 70s. Citizens assumed self-sufficiency meant drilling for domestic development. “Self-sufficiency” – and jobs – is what makes fracking “worth it” in the eyes of many Americans. Now that the aquifers of much of the country have been fouled by shale-frackers intent on cornering gas markets around the globe, the script must be flipped, so that the surplus can be exported. As George Washington University law professor Richard Pierce told Al Jazeera [19], last year, “The US is now 100 percent independent in natural gas and within the next half a dozen years [North America] will be independent in oil. It will become a global supplier, rather than a demander, in a hurry.”

Room must be made for this global supplier in an energy-glutted world. Russia’s gas sales to Europe need to be “undercut,” as the Times puts it. Sanctions can reshape the global markets to the advantage of the new energy superpower – war by other means. Corporate media mask the historical moment with juvenile jibes at Putin, as Washington prepares to subdue the planet with gushing oil and burning water. 

http://blackagendareport.com/content/us-prepares-gas-russia-submission

 

Today is referendum day in Crimea.

UPDATE below

UPDATE 2 below

Today is the referendum vote for the citizens of Crimea, where they will chose whether or not to join Russia.  Obama has said the US and the international community will not recognize the results of this vote, whatever these results may be.  I suspect that if the Crimeans reject Russia, however, we will hear how the “people” “voted democratically” and the results will be acceptable enough, all right.  The coup in Ukraine, engineered by the US government, the CIA, and various NGOs, all supporting what have turned out to be neo-Nazi groups, and which has resulted in an unelected government replacing a democratically elected one, is a sign of “democracy at work”, while the people of an autonomous region holding an actual vote on whether or not to secede from this new government is not democratic.  I also find it interesting that Obama mentions that the vote in Crimea is not in accord with the Ukrainian Constitution.  Does that constitution even exist any more?

Following a White House meeting with interim Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk designed to underscore US support for the newly installed government and ratchet up pressure on Russia, President Barack Obama issued new threats against Moscow.

Obama declared that Washington and the “international community” would “completely reject” the referendum to be held Sunday in Crimea on secession from Ukraine and affiliation with the Russian Federation. He reiterated the US demand that Russia withdraw its forces from Crimea and recognize the new right-wing, anti-Russian regime in Kiev, which was installed last month in a US- and European Union-backed coup led by armed fascist militias.[…]

Obama also declared that Ukraine “cannot have an outside country dictate to them how to manage their affairs,” and added that the “interests of the US are solely to ensure that the people of Ukraine are able to determine their own destiny.” This is presumably why the US poured billions of dollars into assembling proxy forces in the country and hand-picked “Yats”—in the memorable words of US State Department official Victoria Nuland—to succeed Yanukovych.[…]

On the ground, the US is all but running Ukraine through its representatives in Kiev. Announcing Yatsenyuk’s visit on Sunday, Tony Blinken, Obama’s deputy national security adviser, said on NBC’s “Meet the Press” that teams from the Treasury and Justice departments and the FBI were in Kiev working to unravel the “kleptocracy” of Yanukovych’s deposed government.[…] [Teri’s note: Having fairly recently watched in silence as the global economy was looted by a couple of big banks and ensuring that none of the criminals would face charges, I imagine that the US Treasury and Justice departments, along with the FBI – an agency I thought only handled internal US crimes – are certainly the best equipped to recognize kleptocracy when they see it.  Perhaps the Ukrainians will receive greater benefit from their investigations than we did.]

As well as funding the government and running its campaign against its political opponents, the US is expected to whip Ukraine’s army into shape.

On Tuesday Ukraine’s president, Oleksandr Turchynov, declared, “The parliament’s primary task is to ask countries that are guarantors of our security to fulfil their commitments” so that Ukraine could re-forge its armed forces. Turchynov stated that there were presently only 6,000 combat-ready infantry in the army out of a nominal force of 90,000.

The US has already effectively taken operational control of the military activities of Ukraine’s neighbours, launching joint exercises with Poland, Romania, Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and dispatching Airborne Warning and Control System (AWACS) jets from airbases in Geilenkirchen, Germany and Waddington in Britain. The AWACS flights were recommended by NATO’s top military commander, US Air Force General Philip Breedlove.

On Monday, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Gen. Martin Dempsey, told PBS that Russia’s interference in Ukraine “exposes Eastern Europe to some significant risk.” He did not rule out US military intervention…

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2014/03/13/ukra-m13.html

In a funny little “as an aside”, Paul Craig Roberts notes the following:

[…] Having falsely accused Russia of invading Crimea, the Obama regime now demands that Russia interfere in Crimea and prevent the referendum set for next Sunday. Unless Russia uses force to prevent the people of Crimea from exercising their right of self-determination, John Kerry declared that the Obama regime will not discuss the Ukrainian situation with Russia.

So, Kerry has given Russia the green light to send in troops to prevent Crimean self-determination.

The presstitute Western media has not noticed that out of one corner of his mouth Kerry denounces Russia for intervening and out of the other corner of his mouth Kerry demands that Russia intervene in behalf of Washington’s interest and suppress Crimean self-determination. […]

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/03/12/obama-regimes-hypocrisy-sets-new-world-record-paul-craig-roberts/

Oh, and it turns out we have money to burn.  Not for anyone in the actual United States of America, you understand; we are undergoing austerity due to budget constraints.  No, Congress is working on an aid package (this is beyond the $5 bb we already spent over the past several years in Ukraine doing some “nation building”):

[…] Aid package clears early hurdle

Eight U.S. senators, led by Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain, are scheduled to travel to Ukraine in coming days. [Teri’s note: Ever notice how any time we wreck a country, John McCain is the first one in afterwards to pass out cookies on behalf of American business interests?]

Meanwhile, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee approved a package of loans and aid for Ukraine on Wednesday, along with sanctions against Russia for its military intervention. The measure, which now heads to the full Senate, also includes the approval of long-delayed reforms at the International Monetary Fund.

The aid package includes $1 billion in loan guarantees from the United States as well as $50 million to boost democracy-building in Ukraine and $100 million for enhanced security cooperation for Ukraine and some of its neighbors. [Teri’s note: Wait, didn’t the $5 bb we already spent go for “democracy-building”?  Didn’t that go far enough?  And “enhanced security cooperation” – would that be more money for NATO forces and nuclear armament in the area?  If so, just say it out loud.]

The full Senate will vote on the package after the chamber returns from a recess.

“It always takes time to make good things,” Yatsenyuk said Wednesday night, adding that his country praised the United States for its support. [Teri’s note: You betcha, Yats.  No problem.  Although to be honest, most of the US population is completely unaware that we were being so helpful and supportive.] […]

http://www.cnn.com/2014/03/12/world/europe/ukraine-crisis/

There is a story going around that Ukraine’s gold has been confiscated and flown out of the country.  This is, as I recall, what we did to Libya: we declared that Ghaddafi had illegally hoarded his country’s money, so we seized Libya’s Central Bank funds (worth $30 bb) and there is evidence that we also stole her gold reserves.  I have not heard anything about the cash or the gold being returned to the Libyan people.  Where did the money go?  No doubt John McCain and Bill Clinton know.  But they aren’t telling. The $30 billion belonging to the Libyan Central Bank was earmarked as the Libyan contribution to three key projects: the African Investment Bank in Sirte, Libya (Sirte was bombed to hell and back during the US’ “humanitarian intervention” in Libya), the establishment in 2011 of the African Monetary Fund to be based in Cameroon, and the African Central Bank to be based in Nigeria.

A few weeks ago, evidence was discovered that Saudi Arabia’s gold holdings in London were being stolen by central banks in the West and re-hypothicated without the Arab kingdom’s permission.  However,this confiscation doesn’t appear to be only theft in play as just weeks after the Western led coup helped overthrow the rightfully elected Ukrainian leader, rumors are coming out of Kiev on March 10 that show planes being loaded with what is believed to be Ukrainian gold, and flown back to either the U.S. or London for an unknown purpose. […]

Both the U.S. and London are incredibly short of physical gold, as seen last December when the U.S. was unable to deliver the 42 tons it promised Germany in 2013 to satisfy their seven-year plan of gold reclamation back to its original owner. Additionally, one well documented scandal concerning J.P. Morgan Chase and a potential default stemming from the $100 Billion London Whale bet, led the bank to have to sell their Wall Street headquarters to a Chinese conglomerate because the loss was collateralized by gold they didn’t own.

Motives behind the central bank’s gold confiscation programs in the West, which are in essence the stealing of gold holdings from other sovereign nations, may be due to a another scandal being uncovered by the German agency known as Bafin, which came out in January to declare that gold price manipulation is greater than even the mutli-trillion dollar LIBOR scandal.

“Later, in received call back, one of the senior officials of the former Ministry of Income and Fees, which reported that, according to him, tonight, on the orders of one of the ‘new leaders’ of Ukraine in the United States has been taken all the gold reserves in Ukraine …”  – Zerohedge 

There is a growing trend for the U.S., and it involves covert and overt operations leading to coups and overthrows of sovereign nations with the purpose of stealing that nation’s gold supply. When you add in the validated evidence of Iraqi, Libyan, Saudi Arabian gold being stolen or confiscated after the leaders were overthrown of killed, then today’s rumor that a U.S. transport flew in under the radar and stole the gold holdings of the Ukrainian people is not a conspiracy theory, but a carefully executed chain of events that have been done by America several times in recent years.

http://www.examiner.com/article/rumors-abound-of-gold-theft-by-u-s-from-ukrainian-vaults

I have no idea how reliable the above report is.  But this is about oil and energy supplies, ultimately.  You might have noticed, in my last post, that Chevron was immediately after the coup given a 50-year contract to develop shale oil in Ukraine.

There is much concern over the possibility that Russia will cut off her vital energy supplies to the EU over the Ukraine/Crimea events.  To that end, we see the US and the EU rapidly going all-out to make sure that Russia’s natural gas supplies are replaced.  Some of this involves nonsensical moves, of course, as it would take several years to put any other systems in place and all of it involves instituting major fracking plays and the concomitant destruction of water supplies in the US and Europe in order to achieve the desired ends.   In any case, there are some rapid developments in the past couple of days which indicate that our leaders, here and in the EU, are more than willing to allow toxic chemicals in the water supply and use up our fresh water in an effort to thwart Russia.  We would like to preemptively undermine any moves by the BRIC countries to get off the petro-dollar and stop the emerging Shanghai Co-op, as well.  Fracking may eventually cause so many earthquakes that we will have destroyed our land mass altogether, but since there is no longer any concern over how many people die as a result of the toxins being dumped in our water, etc., we may not need so much land.  In the long run, I mean.  Look, shit happens and then you die.

EU politicians on Wednesday voted for tougher rules on exposing the environmental impact of oil and conventional gas exploration, while excluding shale gas.

Member states such as Britain and Poland are pushing hard for the development of shale gas, seen as one way to lessen dependence on Russian gas, as well as to lower energy costs as it has in the United States.

The plenary vote of the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France follows a compromise deal on the draft law in December, which was struck only after negotiators agreed to leave out references to shale gas. […]

http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/mar/12/eu-parliament-shale-gas-environmental-code

 

US gas production is projected to rise 44% by 2040, according to the US Energy Information Administration, and producers have been pressing the Obama administration to expand exports of natural gas. […]

“A senior US official said the State Department was supportive of introducing substantial gas exports abroad as a move to counteract Russia’s influence. Carlos Pascual, a former American ambassador to Ukraine, who leads the State Department’s Bureau of Energy Resources, told the New York Times that opening global markets to US exports ‘sends a clear signal that the global gas market is changing, that there is the prospect of much greater supply coming from other parts of the world’.”

The EIA is an organization of overpaid cheerleaders that haven’t had one prediction right in forever and a day. It’s perhaps because they have no track record to defend that they issue such double or nothing claims; it’s hardly interesting anymore. That claim that US gas production will be 44% more in 26 years than it is today is simply bonkers, and not supported by anything other than industry interests, loud as they may be. […]

[T]he early big American shale gas plays (Barnett in Texas, Haynesville in Louisiana, Fayettville in Arkansas) are already winding down after just ten years of production[…]

“Even the idea that we will have enough natural gas for our own needs in the USA beyond the short term ought to be viewed with skepticism. What happens, for instance, when we finally realize that it costs more to frack it out of the ground than people can pay for it? I’ll tell you exactly what will happen: the gas will remain underground bound up in its “tight rock,” possibly forever, and a lot of Americans will freeze to death. […]

http://www.theautomaticearth.com/debt-rattle-mar-9-2014-big-oil-and-gas-wars/

 

BP won the right to again compete for U.S. contracts and new leases in the Gulf of Mexico, where its massive 2010 oil spill prompted regulators to bar it from new government business.

The agreement with the Environmental Protection Agency will allow BP, which had been the Pentagon’s biggest fuel supplier, to seek lucrative federal contracts again and bid for oil exploration leases. Next week, a U.S. auction is set for the right to drill in the Gulf, where the London-based company is the second-largest producer.

The end of the suspension is a milestone in BP’s recovery from the worst U.S. offshore oil spill, which forced it to sell about $38 billion in assets to meet the costs of cleaning up pollution and compensating victims. A judge in New Orleans is considering BP’s degree of responsibility for the disaster and the scale of fines to impose under the Clean Water Act.[…]

The U.S. Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, part of the Interior Department, on March 19 plans to auction leases covering more than 40 million acres on the Gulf for oil and gas exploration.[…]

The company’s 45-page administrative agreement with the EPA announced yesterday will last five years. […]

http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-03-13/u-s-lifts-bp-s-ban-on-contracting-imposed-after-spill.html

On BP, also see: http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/03/15  One might speculate that BP so suddenly winning its rights to bid for further ruination of the Gulf of Mexico has something to do with the US trying to persuade the UK to support sanctions on Russia.  The following approval also happened within the past week:

WASHINGTON—The Interior Department endorsed seismic testing in Atlantic waters on Thursday, a first step toward allowing oil and gas drilling from Delaware Bay to Florida’s Cape Canaveral.

In its long-awaited environmental impact statement on what’s known as seismic air gun testing, Interior’s Bureau of Ocean Energy Management said it would demand that the oil and gas companies exploring in the Outer Continental Shelf meet tough environmental standards to protect marine life from the underwater seismic blasts.

Environmental groups oppose the use of the controversial geological survey technology, contending that the seismic blasts pose a significant risk to whales, dolphins, fish and sea turtles. Seismic surveys are used to locate oil and gas deposits below the ocean floor. The guns, towed by ships, shoot compacted air to the bottom of the ocean, creating sound waves that reflect geological formations. […]

The Natural Resources Defense Council called the environmental report “a capitulation to the forces of drill-baby-drill.” […]

Oil and gas industry contractors have already submitted nine applications to do seismic surveys covering hundreds of thousands of miles, according to the Interior Department. […]

The area, particularly off the coasts of Virginia and the Carolinas, are estimated to hold some 3.3 million barrels of oil and 3.1 trillion cubic feet of natural gas, though the calculations were based on outdated technology, an Interior official said.

http://online.wsj.com/news/articles/SB10001424052702304071004579409621926543690

See also this on the Cove Point [Baltimore] terminal:

http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2014/02/21-3

While we race around the world, sacking countries and violating international law over energy supplies (and seeking hegemony over the entire globe, PNAC-style), I have to wonder who is running this show.  The CIA?  The Council on Foreign Relations?  The oligarchs in the US?  (Yes, we have them, too.  Frankly, they own the place.)  The Pentagon?  They have the money, that’s for sure.  An article by Winslow Wheeler points this out: “Pentagon costs, taken together with other known national security expenses for 2015, will exceed $1 Trillion.  How can that be?  The trade press is full of statements about the Pentagon’s $495.6 billion budget and how low that is.”  He offers a great chart to explain his numbers; see:

http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/03/14/americas-1-trillion-national-security-budget/

What are we becoming?  A nation of looters and thugs?  We have a President who claims the right to kill us if some secret panel decides we are “terrorists”.  He claims the right to kill any person in the world.  The CIA angrily avers that it doesn’t have to answer to Congress and the president backs the CIA.  We spy on everyone and seek to control every living thing on the planet.  Who the fuck are we?  Maybe the answer is that we are simply a dying empire, angrily lashing out in our death throes.  See: Roman Empire; decline of.

Many articles I have read in the past couple of weeks have offered excuse after excuse for poor Obama in regards to Ukraine.  It’s the neocons he allowed into high places, his cabinet of “adversaries”; they have him in a rope-a-dope; he wants to do the right thing and work with Putin and only needs to come out and tell the public that.  Or it’s the fault of the weak liberals he listens to; he needs to toughen up.  Blah, blah, blah.  But the truth is that we, as a nation, seem to have accepted the reemergence of the neocon point of view with some equanimity.  We are not, on the whole, a nation that espouses especially “liberal” viewpoints any more.  We are already turning on our weakest numbers with extreme prejudice.  Hillary Clinton is considered the “natural” Democratic contender to follow Obama in 2016, as though there would be anything natural in establishing a de facto monarchy in the US.  As though either Hillary or Barack represented traditional Democratic values in the first place.  This would be Hillary we-came-we-saw-he-died, Hillary who giggles at the thought of invading Iran, Hillary who is a neocon through and through.  We seem to be moving willingly, spinelessly, in the direction that the Bush and Obama administrations and the military industrial complex, along with the media, have pushed us.  Sadly, the feeling I get is not that the public is weary of war so much as tired of losing the ones we start.

I think that this is how we are seen by more and more of the world: we are the neighbors who demand what we want, never replace what we destroy, and then threaten everyone who objects to the arrangement.  Sadly, we deserve this assessment.

UPDATE:

“About 93 percent of voters in the Crimean referendum have answered ‘yes’ to the autonomous republic joining Russia and only 7 percent of the vote participants want the region to remain part of Ukraine, according to first exit polls. […]”

http://rt.com/news/crimea-vote-join-russia-210/

UPDATE 2:

The exit polls were very accurate.  Crimea overwhelmingly voted to rejoin Russia, with 80% of the population voting.

Immediately upon hearing the results this morning, Obama issued a new executive order sanctioning specific individuals in the Russian government, along with several people in Ukraine; most notably the former president of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych.  The EU followed suit right away.  I am not sure what anyone gains by these maneuvers, which merely serve to escalate the situation.  The Crimean voters went to their polling places and voted to secede from Ukraine.  There were some international observers to witness the vote (despite what you may read in the American MSM), and there did not seem to be any problems or signs of intimidation.  They decided to take their chances with the oligarchic system in Russia rather than facing the IMF austerity measures being demanded of Ukraine under the new neo-Nazi regime imposed there.  Ironically, the White House said it is targeting “those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine” in these new sanctions, although it was distinctly the US that created the situation in the first place.  In another strange piece of rhetoric, the EU and US are calling on Russia to de-escalate the situation.

It remains to be seen what Putin’s response will be, although I would think that imposing more and more sanctions against Russia, given the oil and trading she supplies to the EU and the fact that Russia may well take economic measures of its own in retaliation, would make the EU and US think twice about using such threatening postures.   Let’s not forget that it would be easy enough for some of the Asian countries to join Russia in going off the dollar, and that Russia (despite its bad economy) holds a big stack of US Treasuries.  I will mention in passing, as well, that Russia has nukes.  Let’s hope Putin is willing to be a tad more diplomatic than the US is.

In any case, below is an article summarizing the sanctions.  You may want to read the executive order and the press office fact sheet for yourself, as well as the letter Obama sent to Congress explaining them.

Executive Order — Blocking Property of Additional Persons Contributing to the Situation in Ukraine:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/17/executive-order-blocking-property-additional-persons-contributing-situat

WH Press Office fact sheet on EO:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/17/fact-sheet-ukraine-related-sanctions

 Letter to Congress:

WASHINGTON –  The White House has announced new sanctions against seven Russian officials in retaliation for Ukraine’s Crimea region voting to join Russia, as the European Union announced similar penalties. 

While stopping short of singling out Russian President Vladimir Putin himself, President Obama sanctioned several members of Putin’s inner circle. The White House also announced sanctions against separatist leaders in Crimea and former president of Ukraine Viktor Yanukovych. 

“We have fashioned these sanctions to impose costs on named individuals who wield influence in the Russian government and those responsible for the deteriorating situation in Ukraine,” the White House said in a statement. “We stand ready to use these authorities in a direct and targeted fashion as events warrant.” 

The expanded U.S. sanctions, announced in an executive order, would target the assets of the listed Russian officials and bar them from entering the U.S. These include Putin aides Vladislav Surkov and Sergey Glazyev.

It’s unclear what other steps the U.S. might take in the coming days, as western leaders try to prevent Moscow from attempting to formally annex Crimea. Obama told Putin on Sunday that the vote “would never be recognized” by the United States, as he and other top U.S. officials warned Moscow against making further military moves toward southern and eastern Ukraine.

Meanwhile, European Union foreign ministers slapped travel bans and asset freezes Monday on 21 people from Russia and Crimea who they linked to the push for the secession of Ukraine’s strategic Black Sea peninsula. 

The sanctions came hours after Crimea’s parliament declared the region an independent state, following its residents’ overwhelming vote Sunday to break away from Ukraine and seek to join Russia.

The ministers meeting in Brussels did not immediately release the names of those targeted by the sanctions. [Teri’s note: Obama’s new EO does name names.]

Two diplomats said the sanctions targeted 13 Russians and eight people from Crimea. The diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity because the breakdown of the nationalities had not been officially announced.

The 28-nation EU and the United States say Sunday’s Crimean referendum was illegitimate and unconstitutional. 

The EU is walking a tightrope between punishing Moscow and keeping open lines of communication with Russia for a diplomatic resolution of one of the worst geopolitical crises in years on its eastern doorstep.

Before Monday’s meeting in Brussels, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier said sanctions must leave “ways and possibilities open to prevent a further escalation that could lead to the division of Europe.”

The EU has already suspended talks with Russia on a wide-ranging economic pact and a visa agreement. The bloc’s leaders are meeting Thursday and Friday and could start slapping economic sanctions on Russia this weekend if Moscow does not back down. 

Western allies are calling on Putin to “de-escalate” the crisis, support Ukrainian plans for political reform, return Russian troops in Crimea to their barracks and halt advances into Ukraine and military buildups along its borders.

Ukraine’s new government in Kiev called Sunday’s referendum a “circus” directed at gunpoint by Moscow. Putin, however, insisted it was conducted in “full accordance with international law and the U.N. charter” and cited Kosovo’s independence from Serbia as its precedent.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

http://www.foxnews.com/politics/2014/03/17/visa-bans-asset-freezes-among-possible-sanctions-against-russia/

 

 

Obama issues executive order on Ukraine.

Please note that I will be adding to this post later in the day.  I just wanted to get at least this much up right now.

Last night, President Obama issued an executive order barring the entry into the US of any person who is “undermining the democratic process” in Ukraine.  He calls the Ukrainian situation a national emergency and writes in the EO that threatening the peace or security of Ukraine is “an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States”.   The order further seizes any property currently held in the US belonging to these persons.

March 06, 2014

BLOCKING PROPERTY OF CERTAIN PERSONS CONTRIBUTING TO THE SITUATION IN UKRAINE

I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, find that the actions and policies of persons — including persons who have asserted governmental authority in the Crimean region without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine [Teri’s note: This is obviously aimed at Russia, its officials and its oligarchs.  However, it’s also interesting in that the parliament in Crimea has just voted to become once again a part of Russia.  A full referendum vote will take place later this month so all the people of Crimea can vote yes or no on the parliament’s decision.  Does this mean that everyone who votes to rejoin Russia is now barred from the US?  Obama is also here subtly claiming that Crimea must bow to the new government in Ukraine, put in place by a coup; but Crimea is actually an autonomous republic with its own parliament and holds a relationship with the government in Ukraine; the relationship is defined in several treaties written since 1992.]— that undermine democratic processes and institutions in Ukraine; threaten its peace, security, stability, sovereignty, and territorial integrity; and contribute to the misappropriation of its assets, constitute an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States, and I hereby declare a national emergency to deal with that threat. I hereby order:

Section 1. (a) All property and interests in property that are in the United States, that hereafter come within the United States, or that are or hereafter come within the possession or control of any United States person (including any foreign branch) of the following persons are blocked and may not be transferred, paid, exported, withdrawn, or otherwise dealt in: any person determined by the Secretary of the Treasury, in consultation with the Secretary of State:

(i) to be responsible for or complicit in, or to have engaged in, directly or indirectly, any of the following:

(A) actions or policies that undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine [Teri’s note: The CIA, NED, USAID, the several neo-nazi groups backed by the US, and various billionaires (notably Omidyar) who helped instigate the recent overthrow of the elected government there come to mind.];

(B) actions or policies that threaten the peace, security, stability, sovereignty, or territorial integrity of Ukraine; or

(C) misappropriation of state assets of Ukraine or of an economically significant entity in Ukraine;

(ii) to have asserted governmental authority over any part or region of Ukraine without the authorization of the Government of Ukraine;

(iii) to be a leader of an entity that has, or whose members have, engaged in any activity described in subsection (a)(i) or (a)(ii) of this section or of an entity whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order;

(iv) to have materially assisted, sponsored, or provided financial, material, or technological support for, or goods or services to or in support of, any activity described in subsection (a)(i) or (a)(ii) of this section or any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; or

(v) to be owned or controlled by, or to have acted or purported to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order. […]

Sec. 3. I hereby determine that the making of donations of the type of articles specified in section 203(b)(2) of IEEPA (50 U.S.C. 1702(b)(2)) by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to section 1 of this order would seriously impair my ability to deal with the national emergency declared in this order, and I hereby prohibit such donations as provided by section 1 of this order. [Teri’s note: once again, we wonder about USAID, NED, and the Omidyar donations.]

Sec. 4. The prohibitions in section 1 of this order include but are not limited to:

(a) the making of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services by, to, or for the benefit of any person whose property and interests in property are blocked pursuant to this order; and

(b) the receipt of any contribution or provision of funds, goods, or services from any such person.[…]

http://www.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/03/06/executive-order-blocking-property-certain-persons-contributing-situation

As is pointed out in the following article, the executive order is worded loosely enough that it may include any critics of the Ukraine coup, including journalists.

R.I.P. Freedom of Speech? Obama Bans Critics of Ukraine Coup From Entering U.S.

Executive order suspends entry rights of anyone who “undermines” Ukrainian “democracy”

by Paul Joseph Watson

Under the sweeping language of President Barack Obama’s executive order issued today, critics of the US-backed coup in Ukraine could find themselves being banned from entering the United States.

As CNS News’ Craig Bannister notes, this would effectively ban entry for anyone deemed to be a ‘Russian sympathizer’, or anyone who has expressed a view similar to Moscow, which was that the Kiev uprising was a violent coup d’état and not a democratic uprising, since that could easily be characterized as an indirect action or policy which undermines Ukraine’s post-coup government.

By extrapolation, this would mean anyone who has drawn attention to the mountain of evidence that the Kiev protest groups were funded by the U.S. State Department in concert with the US Agency for International Development (USAID) and the US government-backed National Endowment for Democracy.

It would also ensnare anyone who has highlighted the leaked phone call in which US Assistant Secretary of State for Europe Victoria Nuland was caught red handed plotting with top diplomat Geoffrey Pyatt to pick Ukraine’s future puppet leaders. Nuland specifically approved Arseniy Yatsenyuk, who later became Prime Minister after the coup.

The executive order could also target critics of the fact that both Nuland and John McCain met with the leader of the neo-nazi affiliated Svoboda Party before the election, an organization that was subsequently handed three top positions within the newly formed Ukrainian government despite its clear links to fascism and anti-Semitism.

The irony of Washington targeting anyone who took actions to “undermine democratic processes or institutions in Ukraine” is painful given that the Kiev revolt led directly to the overthrow of a democratically elected government.

The broad language of the executive order is also a chilling move towards discriminating against people for their political opinions. Obama is seemingly intent on mirroring the United Kingdom, where people like radio host Michael Savage are banned from entering the country and labeled “extremists” for daring to dissent from political correctness.

http://www.globalresearch.ca/r-i-p-freedom-of-speech-obama-bans-critics-of-ukraine-coup-from-entering-u-s/5372226

I read the following article yesterday, and wonder if Obama means to include people like Dennis Kucinich in this order.  Hell, I wonder if my assets will be seized for writing this.  (I do have a twenty-year-old car and about two bucks in the bank…)

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine was spurred by U.S. behind-the-scenes actions, says former Ohio congressman and Democratic presidential candidate Dennis Kucinich. 

Fox News host Bill O’Reilly on Tuesday accused Kucinich of being a pacifist because of his opposition to the Iraq war, and Kucinich countered that war is wrong but not all U.S. military action is so.

O’Reilly then asked how Kucinich would have handled the Ukraine crisis had he been president.

“What I’d do is not have USAID and the National Endowment for Democracy working with U.S. taxpayers’ money to knock off an elected government in Ukraine, which is what they did,” Kucinich answered. “I wouldn’t try to force the people of Ukraine into a deal with NATO against their interest or into a deal with the European Union, which is against their economic interest.”

“So, it’s the USA’s fault that Putin rolled in? We made them do it?” O’Reilly asked.

“Bill O’Reilly, if you don’t believe in cause and effect, I don’t know what I can do for you,” Kucinich responded.

Kucinich said the United States has been involved covertly and behind the scenes with the CIA and two government foreign aid groups, the National Endowment for Democracy and the United States Agency for International Development, to “stir up trouble in Ukraine.”

He didn’t specify what the groups had done, but said the democracy endowment had sponsored 65 programs. He said the United States should stay out of Ukraine’s affairs and let its people decide their future without outside interference.

As a result, “you’ve got neo-Nazis that are in control,” Kucinich said. He was referring to a statement by Russia’s U.N. ambassador in which he called pro-European Ukrainians “anti-Semites and fascists,” a claim disputed by many, including CNN’s Christiane Amanpour.

O’Reilly was having none of it.

“From what I’m hearing, you’re blaming the USA for subverting Ukraine in the first place, thereby giving Putin a pass to go in and invade,” he told Kucinich.

“That’s close,” Kucinich answered. “We should be concerned about the Ukrainian people, because they’re being used right now. They would be used by the IMF in a new austerity program, by NATO to go on the doorstep of Russia.”

O’Reilly said the Ukrainian people “threw out a puppet president,” but Kucinich argued, “That wasn’t democratic. That was stirred up from behind the scenes.” […]

Kucinich wrote an op-ed in December for The Huffington Post as the protests began in Kiev after then-President Viktor Yanukovych failed to sign a trade deal with the European Union. In the piece, Kucinich called the deal a “NATO Trojan horse” that would have forced Ukraine to spend more money on its military and less on social welfare programs.

http://www.newsmax.com/Newsfront/russia-ukraine-covert-operations-Dennis-Kuchinich/2014/03/04/id/556082#ixzz2v3asEVD0

Regarding the parliamentary vote in Crimea, Obama called the vote to enter into the Russian Federation a “violation of international law.”  Here is the latest information on this vote:

Crimean parliament and Sevastopol’s city council have voted in favor of joining Russia. The decision will only come in force if it is approved by the Crimeans at a referendum which will be held in 10 days.

Crimean MPs voted on Thursday for the region to “to become part of the Russian Federation as its constituent territory,” says the text of the regional parliament’s statement. […]

The parliament has also made a decision to ask the Russian leadership to “launch the procedure of Crimea becoming part of Russia.”

Sevastopol’s city council also voted to become a subject of the Russian Federation and backed Crimea’s referendum. The city’s residents will take part in the March 16 referendum despite the city enjoying a special status and not officially being part of Crimea. […]

Kiev has reacted by describing the referendum illegitimate.[…]

Acting Ukrainian President Oleksander Turchinov said authorities in Crimea region were “totally illegitimate, both the parliament and the government.” […]

Russia’s State Duma (parliament) is ready to consider the possibility of Crimea joining Russia, according to the head of the Duma committee on the affairs of the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS), Leonid Slutsky.[…]

More than half the Crimean population are Russian and use only this language for their communication.

Crimean authorities denounced the self-proclaimed government in Kiev and declared that all Ukrainian law enforcement and military deployed in the peninsula must take orders from them. The majority of troops in Crimea switched sides in favor of the local authorities.

http://rt.com/news/crimea-referendum-status-ukraine-154/

I think what we are seeing may well be a gladio-type operation that takes us to WW3; at the least, it ushers in a new cold war era.  Based on comments I see attached to various articles about Ukraine and Russia in the past several days, I do believe the American public will be just dumb and propagandized enough to actually go along with it.  While our leaders haughtily talk about “international law” and the “wrongness” of Russia’s actions, as though the US had never done any such things herself, the public appears eager, if the comments are any measure, to wipe any memories of how we became involved in Iraq or Afghanistan from their minds and seem to forget that we are still in those countries.  Gone is worry over budget deficits or the amount of money spent on bank bailouts.  They don’t remember how we recently invaded and ruined Libya and that we still threaten to intervene in Syria.  No thought is wasted on the drone bombings in numerous countries that we are not at war with.  And although most Americans couldn’t have located Ukraine on a map until about a week ago, the public is bellicose about “getting Russia”, even if it means giving up their social security and unemployment benefits forever, foregoing any repairs to the infrastructure in this country, and risking our financial collapse; all to support the war machine and fight another war of choice, mislead by false information from the media and the US government.  Yes, we are just that stupid.  It has been reported the U.S. spent $5 billion to support the protesters who succeeded in removing the pro-Russian president of Ukraine from office.  Where do you suppose that money came from?  Your tax dollars at work.

On Tuesday, the new government in Ukraine signed a 50-year shale oil deal with Chevron.  Another country fucked up for its energy supplies – that didn’t take long, did it?

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/11/05/us-ukraine-chevron-idUSBRE9A40ML20131105

This new Cold War thing may also have some relationship to the Magnitsky Act instituted under Obama a few years ago.  I have more to say on this subject and will update this article later in the day.

Article continued:

The executive order issued by Obama a day ago seems to be an extension of the 2012 Magnitsky Act, which was aimed at a few of Russia’s oligarchy.  It is a peculiar Congressional Act in that it targets only a few wealthy Russians, rather than sanctions on an entire country.  This was thought to hinder Russia’s trade and banking influence in the US economy without imposing a diplomatic crisis.  The Russians responded by creating their own list of Americans who are now refused entry into Russia for human rights violations; notables on the list include John Yoo and David Addington, as well as several assistant US attorneys and some military personnel involved in running Guantanamo Bay.  Now why we particularly find Russia’s oligarchs a threat, but not our own, is good question.  Our oligarchic class is very busy imposing itself globally, interfering in the agriculture, business, and social mores of countries everywhere, Ukraine being but the latest example.

The man behind the Magnitsky Act explains why now is the time to go after the Russian elite’s assets.

By Adam Taylor, Updated: March 3 at 7:07 pm [Teri’s note: this was written before the Obama executive order at the top of this post.]

As much as everyone is very mad at Russia right now for its actions against Ukraine, it still isn’t exactly clear what will happen next. Might the United States and Western Europe send troops into battle against Russia? Even if Russia weren’t a nuclear power, that seems incredibly dangerous.

Instead, the discussion is moving to economic measures, with the Obama administration saying it is “highly likely” they will use sanctions against Russia.

However, at least one person is arguing that there may be another option, one that could zero in on the interests of the Russian elite more accurately without hurting the Russian public in general: a 2012 human rights law known as the Magnitsky Act.

“This is exactly what the Magnitsky Act was created for,” Bill Browder, founder of the investment fund Hermitage Capital Management explained in a phone call from his London base Monday morning. For Browder, his link to the act isn’t just political — it’s also personal. The man for whom “the Magnitsky Act” is named worked for him.

The story of the Magnitsky Act began in 2008, when Sergei Magnitsky, a Moscow-based lawyer working for the Hermitage Fund, testified in a Russian court that he had uncovered a huge scam by top police officials. According to Magnitsky, the officials had embezzled $230 million in taxes from money that Hermitage Fund companies had paid in 2006, with corrupt police officers using stolen corporate seals and documents seized in a 2007 raid on Hermitage’s Moscow offices to set up fake companies under the same names, and then used these fake companies to get a tax rebate.

Instead of a more thorough investigation he apparently hoped for, Magnitsky was himself charged with tax evasion. He was taken to prison for pretrial detention, where he died unexpectedly in 2009. The circumstances of his death remain murky, though officially it was said to be a heart attack.

Browder never accepted that version of events: In his phone call with The Washington Post, he referred to Magnitsky’s death as a “murder,” perhaps alluding to one report from Russia’s Presidential human rights council that said torture contributed to the lawyer’s death. Browder, who had been barred from entering Russia himself, began to lobby back in Washington for the introduction of a “black list” of Russian officials involved in the crime. Those on the list would have bank accounts frozen and assets seized.

The Magnitsky Act passed in December 2012, and a few months later 18 names were released. Importantly, the scope of the act was expanded to include a number of people not related to Magnitsky’s case. Browder feels that now is a perfect time for the list to be updated again. “You can’t just let Russia take over another country without consequences,” he said, reasoning that the Magnitsky Act worked better than sanctions as going after individuals made them “face real personal consequences which their commanders can’t protect them from.”

“The main reason Magnitsky has been so successful is that it addresses the state of the world in modern Russia vs. the Soviet Union,” Browder explained, arguing that nowadays officials who commit human rights violations for profit in Russia often keep their money in the West as they fear the instability of Russia. “I guarantee you, if put them on a sanction list, they’d think twice about what they are going to do next in Ukraine and elsewhere.” […]

Of course, the Magnitsky Act was initially envisaged as a response to one particular incident, and it’s hard to foresee how it might be used in the case of Russia’s state-sanctioned aggression in Ukraine. How many people, for example, would it target? Browder argued that it should be easy to work out the target, and that it could even go all the way to the top. When e-mailed about the possibility of targeting Russian President Vladimir Putin with the Magnitsky Act, Browder e-mailed back: “I don’t see why not. He is said to be the richest man in the world holding lots of money offshore, which could be frozen.”

© The Washington Post Company

http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/worldviews/wp/2014/03/03/the-man-behind-the-magnitsky-act-explains-why-now-is-the-time-to-go-after-the-russian-elites-assets/

One must note that all this awful mess in Ukraine is part and parcel of neoliberal privatization and IMF rule, as well as the obvious raison d’etre: getting Ukraine included in the NATO territories.

Here’s the new guy we installed through this coup in Ukraine:
“He told reporters at a news conference at the central bank that the interim government is determined to make the reforms called for by the International Monetary Fund in return for loans: ‘A key priority is resuming the programme of collaboration with the International Monetary Fund. And we will fulfill all the conditions, I repeat, all the conditions, that are necessary for this loan, and Ukraine’s parliament and the coalition will vote for the laws that are necessary for receiving this money.’ ”
http://www.euronews.com/2014/02/28/ukraine-hopes-for-aid-soon-pm-says-will-fulfill-imf-conditions/

And:
“The government of Ukraine has the idea of privatization of the energy sector in the country, Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatseniuk has said.
‘I’ll tell you about the idea of privatization of the energy sector at transparent auctions: Chornomornaftogaz and other companies, which are part of Naftogaz Ukrainy,’ he said at a meeting with the business community in Kyiv on Monday.
The premier stressed that Naftogaz Ukrainy is ‘a burden for the budget and a non-transparent monster.’ According to him, privatization will help stop corruption in the energy sector.
http://en.interfax.com.ua/news/economic/194102.html

The old guy,Yanukovych, famously did NOT want the austerity measures and privatization reforms insisted on by the IMF for his country. And we see where it got him.

Paul Craig Roberts has a series of articles on the situation in Ukraine.  I will give excerpts from them below; they offer a good summation of recent events, a scathing diatribe against various members of the Obama administration who orchestrated the whole thing, explanations of Russia’s moves in Crimea, and the real-life results of this US interference on the Ukrainian people, who now have to accept IMF austerity.  I know the excerpts are long, but I think you will find that they bring you up to speed on the events.

You will note Roberts’ mention of Michel Chossudovsky in the first article.  Chossudovsky writes for Global Research; I highly recommend that website.  [ http://www.globalresearch.ca/ ] I also recommend friend and fellow blogger, Che Pasa, for his series of articles on Ukraine and his research into the various front groups supporting the coup.  [http://chewhatyoucallyourpasa.blogspot.com/ ]

Washington’s Arrogance, Hubris, and Evil Have Set the Stage for War.

March 3, 2014, Paul Craig Roberts

In some quarters public awareness is catching up with Stephen Lendman, Michel Chossudovsky, Rick Rozoff, myself and a few others in realizing the grave danger in the crisis that Washington has created in Ukraine.

The puppet politicians who Washington intended to put in charge of Ukraine have lost control to organized and armed neo-nazis, who are attacking Jews, Russians, and intimidating Ukrainian politicians. The government of Crimea, a Russian province that Khrushchev transferred to the Ukraine Soviet Republic in the 1950s, has disavowed the illegitimate government that illegally seized power in Kiev and requested Russian protection. The Ukrainian military forces in Crimea have gone over to Russia. The Russian government has announced that it will also protect the former Russian provinces in eastern Ukraine as well. […]

Under Washington’s pressure, Ukraine became a separate country retaining the Russian provinces, but Russia retained its Black Sea naval base in Crimea.

Washington tried, but failed, to take Ukraine in 2004 with the Washington-financed “Orange Revolution.” According to Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, since this failure Washington has “invested” $5 billion in Ukraine in order to foment agitation for EU membership for Ukraine. EU membership would open Ukraine to looting by Western bankers and corporations, but Washington’s main goal is to establish US missile bases on Russia’s border with Ukraine and to deprive Russia of its Black Sea naval base and military industries in eastern Ukraine. EU membership for Ukraine means NATO membership.

Washington wants missile bases in Ukraine in order to degrade Russia’s nuclear deterrent, thus reducing Russia’s ability to resist US hegemony. Only three countries stand in the way of Washington’s hegemony over the world, Russia, China, and Iran.

Iran is surrounded by US military bases and has US fleets off its coast. The “Pivot to Asia” announced by the warmonger Obama regime is ringing China with air and naval bases. Washington is surrounding Russia with US missile and NATO bases. The corrupt Polish and Czech governments were paid to accept US missile and radar bases, which makes the Polish and Czech puppet states prime targets for nuclear annihilation. Washington has purchased the former Russian and Soviet province of Georgia, birthplace of Joseph Stalin, and is in the process of putting this puppet into NATO.

Washington’s Western European puppets are too greedy for Washington’s money to take cognizance of the fact that these highly provocative moves are a direct strategic threat to Russia. The attitude of European governments seems to be, “after me, the deluge.”

Russia has been slow to react to the many years of Washington’s provocations, hoping for some sign of good sense and good will to emerge in the West. Instead, Russia has experienced rising demonization from Washington and European capitals and foaming at the mouth vicious denunciations by the West’s media whores. The bulk of the American and European populations are being brainwashed to see the problem that Washington’s meddling has caused in Ukraine to be Russia’s fault. Yesterday, I heard on National Public Radio a presstitute from the New Republic describe Putin as the problem.

The ignorance, absence of integrity, and lack of independence of the US media greatly enhances the prospect for war. The picture being drawn for insouciant Americans is totally false. An informed people would have burst out laughing when US Secretary of State John Kerry denounced Russia for “invading Ukraine” in “violation of international law.” Kerry is the foreign minister of a country that has illegally invaded Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, organized the overthrow of the government in Libya, tried to overthrow the government in Syria, attacks the civilian populations of Pakistan and Yemen with drones and missiles, constantly threatens Iran with attack, unleashed the US and Israeli trained Georgian army on the Russian population of South Ossetia, and now threatens Russia with sanctions for standing up for Russians and Russian strategic interests. The Russian government noted that Kerry has raised hypocrisy to a new level.

Kerry has no answer to the question: “Since when does the United States government genuinely subscribe and defend the concept of sovereignty and territorial integrity?”

Kerry, as is always the case, is lying through his teeth. Russia hasn’t invaded Ukraine. Russia sent a few more troops to join those at its Black Sea base in view of the violent anti-Russian statements and actions emanating from Kiev. As the Ukrainian military in Crimea defected to Russia, the additional Russian troops were hardly necessary.

The stupid Kerry, wallowing in his arrogance, hubris, and evil, has issued direct threats to Russia. The Russian foreign minister has dismissed Kerry’s threats as “unacceptable.” The stage is set for war.

Note the absurdity of the situation. Kiev has been taken over by ultra-nationalist neo-nazis. A band of ultra-nationalist thugs is the last thing the European Union wants or needs as a member state. The EU is centralizing power and suppressing the sovereignty of the member states. Note the alignment of the neoconservative Obama regime with anti-semitic neo-nazis. The neoconservative clique that has dominated the US government since the Clinton regime is heavily Jewish, many of whom are dual Israeli/US citizens. The Jewish neoconservatives, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland and National Security Adviser Susan Rice, have lost control of their coup to neo-Nazis who preach “death to the Jews.” […]

This is the situation that Washington created and defends, while accusing Russia of stifling Ukrainian democracy. An elected democracy is what Ukraine had before Washington overthrew it.

At this time there is no legitimate Ukrainian government.

Everyone needs to understand that Washington is lying about Ukraine just as Washington lied about Saddam Hussein and weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, just as Washington lied about Iranian nukes, just as Washington lied about Syrian president Assad using chemical weapons, just as Washington lied about Afghanistan, Libya, NSA spying, torture. What hasn’t Washington lied about?

Washington is comprised of three elements: Arrogance, Hubris, and Evil. There is nothing else there.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/03/03/washingtons-arrogance-hubris-evil-set-stage-war/

*******

The end could be nearer than you think.

March 3, 2014, Paul Craig Roberts

[…] Eastern and southern Ukraine are Russian-speaking former Russian territories added to Ukraine in the 1950s by the Communist Party leadership of the Soviet Union. These provinces are agitating to be returned to Mother Russia where they certainly belong. They are determined not to be part of a neo-nazi regime that will be looted by Western bankers and corporations and be forced to host US missile bases that will make western Ukraine a target for nuclear annihilation, like Poland and Czech Republic.

The propagandistic rhetoric issuing from the mouths of the White House Fool and the excrement that the Fool placed in charge of the Department of State is designed to cover up the abject failure of the Obama regime’s plot to install its puppets as Ukraine’s new rulers. The Obama regime is too stupid to comprehend that its rhetoric is preparing the gullible and ignorant American population for war with Russia. The neoconservative ideologues, who have been lusting for war with Russia ever since the 1980s when I was a member of the Committee on the Present Danger, will take advantage of the war preparation, which the White House Fool and his State Department excrement are creating with their rhetoric, to start a war that will destroy life on earth.

The neoconservatives are insane. They believe that nuclear war can be won, and that the US has the advantage to destroy Russia in a first strike.

Americans are so ignorant and gullible that they do not realize that their very existence is on the line, and that the insane neoconservatives who control the weak Obama puppet are determined to cross the line. […]

God help the American people. Their ignorance and gullibility make them an enormous threat to life on earth. […]

War will be the result of the ignorance, gullibility, and stupidity of the American population, its prostitute media, and the hegemonic ambitions of the evil neoconservatives. The corrupt rulers of Europe will sell out their peoples for American money until they are all vaporized in nuclear explosions.

The total corruption of truth, integrity, and morality that Washington has imposed on the Western world has aligned the West with the powers of Darkness and death. No greater evil exists than the government of the United States.

http//www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/03/03/end-nearer-think-paul-craig-roberts/

*******

Propaganda Rules The News

March 5, 2014, Paul Craig Roberts

Gerald Celente calls the Western media “presstitutes,” an ingenuous term that I often use. Presstitutes sell themselves to Washington for access and government sources and to keep their jobs. Ever since the corrupt Clinton regime permitted the concentration of the US media, there has been no journalistic independence in the United States except for some Internet sites.[…]

Even Abby Martin and Greenwald, both of whom bring us much light, cannot fully escape Western propaganda.

For example, Martin’s denunciation of Russia for “invading” Ukraine is based on Western propaganda that Russia sent 16,000 troops to occupy Crimea. The fact of the matter is that those 16,000 Russian troops have been in Crimea since the 1990s. Under the Russian-Ukrainian agreement, Russia has the right to base 25,000 troops in Crimea. […]

Russia has done nothing but respond in a very low-key way to a major strategic threat orchestrated by Washington. […]

It is not only Martin and Greenwald who have fallen under Washington’s propaganda. They are joined by Patrick J. Buchanan. Pat’s column calling on readers to “resist the war party on Crimea” opens with Washington’s propagandistic claim: “With Vladimir Putin’s dispatch of Russian Troops into Crimea.” http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article37847.htm
No such dispatch has occurred. Putin has been granted authority by the Russian Duma to send troops to Ukraine, but Putin has stated publicly that sending troops would be a last resort to protect Crimean Russians from invasions by the ultra-nationalist neo-nazis who stole Washington’s coup and established themselves as the power in Kiev and western Ukraine. […]

It appears that the power of Washington’s propaganda is so great that not even the best and most independent journalists can escape its influence. […]

The entire story that the presstitutes have told about the Ukraine is a propaganda production. The presstitutes told us that the deposed president, Viktor Yanukovych, ordered snipers to shoot protesters. On the basis of these false reports, Washington’s stooges, who comprise the existing non-government in Kiev, have issued arrest orders for Yanukovych and intend for him to be tried in an international court. In an intercepted telephone call between EU foreign affairs minister Catherine Ashton and Estonian foreign affairs minister Urmas Paet who had just returned from Kiev, Paet reports: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers, it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.” Paet goes on to report that “all the evidence shows that the people who were killed by snipers from both sides, among policemen and then people from the streets, that they were the same snipers killing people from both sides . . . and it’s really disturbing that now the new coalition, that they don’t want to investigate what exactly happened.” Ashton, absorbed with EU plans to guide reforms in Ukraine and to prepare the way for the IMF to gain control over economic policy, was not particularly pleased to hear Paet’s report that the killings were an orchestrated provocation. You can listen to the conversation between Paet and Ashton here: http://rt.com/news/ashton-maidan-snipers-estonia-946/ [2]

What has happened in Ukraine is that Washington plotted against and overthrew an elected legitimate government and then lost control to neo-nazis who are threatening the large Russian population in southern and eastern Ukraine, provinces that formerly were part of Russia. These threatened Russians have appealed for Russia’s help, and just like the Russians in South Ossetia, they will receive Russia’s help.

The Obama regime and its presstitutes will continue to lie about everything.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/03/05/propaganda-rules-news-paul-craig-roberts/

**************

The Looting Of Ukraine Has Begun

March 6, 2014, Paul Craig Roberts

According to a report in Kommersant-Ukraine, the finance ministry of Washington’s stooges in Kiev who are pretending to be a government has prepared an economic austerity plan that will cut Ukrainian pensions from $160 to $80 so that Western bankers who lent money to Ukraine can be repaid at the expense of Ukraine’s poor. http://www.kommersant.ua/doc/2424454 [2] It is Greece all over again.

Before anything approaching stability and legitimacy has been obtained for the puppet government put in power by the Washington orchestrated coup against the legitimate, elected Ukraine government, the Western looters are already at work. Naive protesters who believed the propaganda that EU membership offered a better life are due to lose half of their pension by April. But this is only the beginning.

The corrupt Western media describes loans as “aid.” However, the 11 billion euros that the EU is offering Kiev is not aid. It is a loan. Moreover, it comes with many strings, including Kiev’s acceptance of an IMF austerity plan.

Remember now, gullible Ukrainians participated in the protests that were used to overthrow their elected government, because they believed the lies told to them by Washington-financed NGOs that once they joined the EU they would have streets paved with gold. Instead they are getting cuts in their pensions and an IMF austerity plan.

The austerity plan will cut social services, funds for education, layoff government workers, devalue the currency, thus raising the prices of imports which include Russian gas, thus electricity, and open Ukrainian assets to takeover by Western corporations.

Ukraine’s agriculture lands will pass into the hands of American agribusiness.

One part of the Washington/EU plan for Ukraine, or that part of Ukraine that doesn’t defect to Russia, has succeeded. What remains of the country will be thoroughly looted by the West. […]

At this time of writing it looks like Crimea has seceded from Ukraine. Washington and its NATO puppets can do nothing but bluster and threaten sanctions. The White House Fool has demonstrated the impotence of the “US sole superpower” by issuing sanctions against unknown persons, whoever they are, responsible for returning Crimea to Russia, where it existed for about 200 years before[…] Having observed the events in western Ukraine, those Russian provinces want to go back home where they belong, just as South Ossetia wanted nothing to do with Georgia. […]

In the former Russian provinces of eastern Ukraine, Putin’s low-key approach to the strategic threat that Washington has brought to Russia has given Washington a chance to hold on to a major industrial complex that serves the Russian economy and military. The people themselves in eastern Ukraine are in the streets demanding separation from the unelected government that Washington’s coup has imposed in Kiev. Washington, realizing that its incompetence has lost Crimea, had its Kiev stooges appoint Ukrainian oligarchs, against whom the Maiden protests were partly directed, to governing positions in eastern Ukraine cities. These oligarchs have their own private militias in addition to the police and any Ukrainian military units that are still functioning. The leaders of the protesting Russians are being arrested and disappeared. Washington and its EU puppets, who proclaim their support for self-determination, are only for self-determination when it can be orchestrated in their favor. Therefore, Washington is busy at work suppressing self-determination in eastern Ukraine. 

This is a dilemma for Putin. His low-key approach has allowed Washington to seize the initiative in eastern Ukraine. The oligarchs Taruta and Kolomoyskiy have been put in power in Donetsk and Dnipropetrovsk, and are carrying out arrests of Russians and committing unspeakable crimes, but you will never hear of it from the US presstitutes. Washington’s strategy is to arrest and deep-six the leaders of the secessionists so that there no authorities to request Putin’s intervention.

If Putin has drones, he has the option of taking out Taruta and Kolomoyskiy. If Putin lets Washington retain the Russian provinces of eastern Ukraine, he will have demonstrated a weakness that Washington will exploit. Washington will exploit the weakness to the point that Washington forces Putin to war.

The war will be nuclear.

http://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2014/03/06/looting-ukraine-begun/

Be aware of propaganda.  Inform yourself.  Don’t be bamboozled by the paranoia offered by our media.  Let’s not get involved in another rich man’s war of choice.  Perhaps the PNAC people have decided to take out Russia, China and Iran sooner rather than later; we do not need to be their fodder.  What if they gave a war and nobody came?

Buffalo Springfield – “For What It’s Worth”.

 
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Posted by on March 7, 2014 in austerity, MIC, peace, Russia, Ukraine