Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Sensing Blood, Obama Moves In For The Kill Against Russia

Just as the Russian economy appears ready to crack wide open, with the ruble plunging (in turn causing inflation- the ruble has fallen about 50% so far this year), oil prices dragged way down with the connivance of Saudi Arabia, inflation rising, Russian citizens panic-buying as the value of their currency craters, and forecasts for a contracting economy, the U.S. is tightening its economic vise on Russia still further.

The U.S. Congress voted for additional sanctions to cut off more Russian enterprises from the external financial system, blocking access to finance needed for trade. Russian companies that owe external debts denominated in dollars or Euros will be hard hit as it takes more of their rubles to convert into foreign currencies to make debt payments. Some will be forced into bankruptcy. Obama is set to sign the latest punitive measures into law, ratcheting-up economic warfare against Russia. [1]

Check out this smug gloat from one Jason Furman, chairman of the White House Council of Economic Advisers (an official body of ideological priests): "I mean, if I was chairman of President Putin’s Council of Economic Advisers, I would be extremely concerned. They are between a rock and a hard place in economic policy. The combination of our sanctions, the uncertainty they’ve created for themselves with their international actions and the falling price of oil has put their economy on the brink of crisis." Yeah, take THAT! That's what you get for crossing the U.S.! We want Ukraine, and we're taking Ukraine, Russia! So BACK the HELL OFF!

I think that's a reasonable translation.

Obama's top official mouthpiece, press secretary Josh “I Kid You Not!” Earnest, blamed the pain in Russia caused by the U.S.-led economic warfare on Putin: “It’s a sign of the failure of Vladimir Putin’s strategy to try to buck up his country. Right now, he and his country are isolated from the broader international community.” (That's what you call Blaming the Victim.)

And a sinister long-time U.S. apparatchik, R. Nicholas Burns, weighed in: “Given Russian military resupply of the separatists in Ukraine during the last month, the U.S. had to raise the economic costs to Putin for his outright aggression,” said R. Nicholas Burns, a former diplomat and. “Combined with the collapse of the ruble, sanctions will hit Putin’s government where it is most vulnerable — its very shaky economy.” (Burns last official government job was undersecretary of state during the regime of George W. Bush (the stolen presidency, 2001-2009).

Speaking of “military resupply,” the law Congress just passed provides $350 million in military supplies to the Kiev cabal to continue its artillery and aerial devastation of eastern Ukraine and finally crush the separatists. Weapons to be provided include antitank weapons, tactical surveillance drones and counter-artillery radar, to help the Kiev cabal's forces destroy the separatists' artillery, allowing the West's client regime to better reduce eastern cities to rubble as it will enjoy impunity. (Russia is also constantly attacked for “violating the truce,” when in fact the Kiev cabal never honored it and continued its shelling regardless.)

On the other side, Russian foreign minister Sergey V. Lavrov sounded a defiant, if a tad overly-optimistic note: “Russia will not only survive but will come out much stronger,” he blustered on France 24 television network. “We have been in much worse situations in our history, and every time we have got out of our fix much stronger.” I guess that's a reference to World War I, the Bolshevik-White Russian civil war, World War II, and the economic catastrophe wrought by Yeltsin, which the West hailed Yeltsin for.

It's true that Russians are inured to suffering. And it's true that Russia-the Soviet Union-Russia has gone through much worse- like over 20 million people slaughtered by the fascists and much of the country physically devastated. Eventually they recovered (“came out stronger”), but it didn't last, as the U.S. empire, like an anaconda slowly strangling its prey, helped destroy the Soviet Union. (An unworkable economic system and social and ideological sclerosis played major roles too, contrary to the triumphalism of American reactionaries who worship at the altar of the Reagan Cult.)

In terms of Russia's geopolitical position and power in the world, which is the point, I wouldn't bet on Russia at this point. Here's the U.S. bloc, pressed right up against Russia's border, threatening the vital Black Sea naval base on the Crimean peninsula, while at the same time crushing Russia's economy.

The fact is, the U.S. has such a vast “toolkit” of imperialist weaponry at its disposal, so many assets and options. Look at the role of Saudi Arabia. By having a close relationship with a feudal monarchy, which is cunning and ruthless and unprincipled and willing to do favors for the U.S., the U.S. is able to drive down the price of oil to hammer Russia- and as a bonus, hammer the other enemy states of Iran and Venezuela simultaneously! It's not necessarily cost-free- U.S. oil corps will make less money, and shale oil and fracking drillers will be squeezed, but those are minor costs, and eventually will reverse at some future date when the price of oil is allowed to go back up. Notice the Saudis are willing to screw their fellow OPEC members to help out U.S. foreign policy. (The Saudi autocracy is so cynical that their secret police have covert relations with Mossad, the Israeli external secret police/assassination agency, while the Saudis pretend to be on the Palestinians' side.)

Lavrov also opined that he sensed a plot to overthrow Putin on the part of the U.S. Well, it's no secret that the Western powers don't like Putin. Over the years the attitude has mostly ranged from skeptical, to frosty, to hostile. And it's NOT because he's an autocrat. (He is.) The U.S. and the other “western democracies” have cordial relations with far worse rulers (like the aforementioned Saudis, or Guatemala, and Honduras, and any number of despots and dictators, an endless number in fact, in Latin America, Africa, and Asia, over the years). And certainly in terms of suppression of dissent, China is far worse (and the U.S. itself about as bad or worse). But while they wag their fingers at China's human rights misdemeanors, there's no question of trying to punish China, including for the seizure of islands property claimed by neighboring nations. Indeed, there is huge trade and commerce with China, despite China's very aggressive cyberespionage against the U.S. government, military weapons manufacturers, major media, and other targets. (By the way, China's worst human rights crimes, like the oppression of the Tibetans and the slow genocide being committed against them, or the persecution of Falun Gong adherents, including their torture, execution, and harvesting of their organs for transplantation, are mostly ignored in western media. They prefer to focus on the comparatively minor harassment of the millionaire artist Ai Wei Wei, who gets major and ongoing play in the New York Times, for example, the most influential U.S. newspaper, and other such smaller acts of repression.)

But the new law could have been worse. Before it was passed, Obama had Congress remove a provision that would have barred the lifting of sanctions until Russia gets out of Moldova and Georgia. Now Russia only has to abandon Ukraine for the sanctions to be lifted. (Does that mean Russia has to vacate the Black Sea naval base to get the West's foot off its economic windpipe? The U.S. media has maintained a total blackout on even mentioning the fact that Russia has a key naval base in Crimea.)

Let's give the last word to the corrupt New Jersey politician Robert Menendez, of the Democratic Party, a supporter of Cuban exile terrorists and one of New Jersey's two U.S. Senators (each state gets two Senators): “President Putin bears responsibility for any outcomes that flow from his actions and breach of the international order,” said Menendez, chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, who was a prime mover of the sanctions along with the committee's senior Republican, Senator Bob Corker of Tennessee. “The United States Congress stands with Ukraine in the face of Russian aggression,” Mr. Menendez said. So whatever the U.S. does to Russia is Russia's fault. Duly noted, Robert.

U.S. Turns Up The Heat on Russia: Obama Determined To Break Putin.

1] The new law has a typically propagandistic name, the “Ukraine Freedom Support Act.” It passed the U.S. Senate 100-0. In the House of Representatives there were 10 dissenters in a body of 435 members that supposedly represents the entire American people- 315 million people- in all their diversity of opinion. (The near-totalitarian nature of U.S. society is often on display in matters of “national security,” that is, imperialism and domestic repression.

Other U.S. laws with sinister, even Orwellian names, are the notorious USA PATRIOT Act, which cemented the U.S. as a police state, and the Bank Secrecy Act, which in fact stripped all privacy from people's bank accounts.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

U.S.-EU-Imposed Sanctions Making the Russian Economy Scream

But mainly it's the U.S.' good buddies the Saudis who are squeezing Russia in a vise, by engineering a collapse in global oil prices.

Russia gets half its government revenue from oil sales. Two-thirds of Russian exports are oil.

The Russian Central Bank raised interest rates 6.5% today, to 17%, in an attempt to stop the ruble from continuing its sharp fall. Most likely this will only temporarily pause the plunge in the ruble.

The Russian stock market is in a deep bear market.

Inflation has been rising. And worst of all, the Russian economy looks set to go into a recession, estimated to contract 4.5% next year. And it could be much worse.

All this is designed to make Putin cry "Uncle!" and abandon the breakaway eastern Ukraine.

Speaking of eastern Ukraine, the Kiev cabal put in power with help from subversion operations by the U.S. and EU has cut off most supplies to the east. The population in the eastern part of Ukraine is facing a cold and hungry winter, under continued artillery and aerial bombardment by the U.S.-EU client regime.

There's about a million and a half refugees inside and outside eastern Ukraine.

Doesn't matter how many people suffer, or die. As long as the U.S. gets its way.

Pakistan Reaping the Whirlwind From Terrorists It Created

Seven Taliban terrorists, dressed as Pakistani Frontier Guards, attacked a primary school run by the Pakistani army in Peshawar, killing about 141 people, mostly schoolchildren and teachers, until they were finally liquidated over eight hours later. The school has 2,500 pupils aged 4 to 16. (Girls in school? UnIslamic!) As usual, the terrorists were well-armed with military-grade weapons, and included a suicide bomber. (Oh what joy, to blow oneself up and get to sleep with 76 virgins!)

The dead are said to include 132 children. Over 100 other people were wounded. [1]

To even get much attention in Western media, these terrorists have to commit more and more spectacular and grotesque atrocities. They've killed thousands of Pakistanis a year in their terrorist attacks.

The Pakistani Taliban, "Tehreek-e-Taliban," in claiming responsibility for the attack, said it was to avenge an army offensive against them. They complained of their women and children being killed by the army.  “We selected the army’s school for the attack because the government is targeting our families and females,” said Taliban spokesman Muhammad Umar Khorasani. “We want them to feel the pain.”

In retaliation, the Pak army is launching airstrikes within Pakistan. The army chief of staffed tweeted that “massive air strikes” had been carried out in the Khyber region even as the school was still being cleared. Perhaps he exaggerated the "had" already part. Clearly the intent is to bomb in retaliation for the retaliation. No doubt killing more women and children. For which the Taliban will retaliate. [2]

The Pakistani establishment is denouncing the terror attack. I guess that's progress for them.

This is a good time to review something the Pakistanis themselves won't do- how it has come to pass that a vicious, large scale and deeply entrenched terrorist army (actually several terrorist armies) exist inside the country with apparent free rein?

The answer, of course, is that the dominant institutions of Pakistan created these Frankenstein monsters themselves.

The genesis of this goes back at least to the anti-Soviet crusade in Afghanistan undertaken by Pakistan under the vicious military dictator Zia ul-Haq, Saudi Arabia, and of course most importantly the U.S., which provided the weaponry- especially Stinger shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, and anti-tank infantry weapons- and billions of dollars to the "cause." [3]

Zia ul-Haq was one of Ronald Reagan's favorite dictators. (Another Reagan favorite was the "Christian" butcher of Guatemala, General Rios Montt, whom Reagan insisted was getting a "bum rap."

The three main members of the anti-Soviet alliance in Afghanistan had various reasons for wanting to keep Afghanistan mired in the 9th century. The U.S. was reflexively anti-Soviet, so the best interests of the Afghan people was of no consideration. (A pattern we see in every country where the U.S. imposes its imperialist will.) Saudi Arabia and Pakistan are both nations that strive to promote a medieval version of Islam. In addition, Pakistan regards Afghanistan as its backyard, and strove to create a client regime there, which it eventually did when the Afghan Taliban took over.

There were non-medieval resistance forces that the U.S. could have supported, such as those that later became the Northern Alliance against the Taliban tyranny, but the U.S. went along with its Paki and Saudi accomplices wishes and backed the fanatical fundamentalists, whose agenda included rolling back girls' education and all women's rights, which the "oppressive" Soviet-backed regime had instituted, among other hated impositions of modernity.

The secret police organ of the Pakistani military, the so-called "Inter Intelligence Service," or ISI, has over the years created a number of terrorist organizations, which it arms, trains, and directs, to commit atrocities in Indian Kashmir and in India proper, such as the numerous terrorist bombing and suicide attacks on Mumbai, India's financial center. (India has shown super-human forbearance by not retaliating. I can just imagine what would happen if Canada or Mexico sponsored a terrorist attack on Wall Street!) [4]

Another root cause of Islamofascist terrorism in Pakistan is the criminal negligence of the Pakistani elites. By not providing an educational system for the poor, they provide an opening for the religious fanatics to recruit children for their madrassas (funded all over the world by Saudi Arabia- them again!). These brainwashing centers masquerading as "religious schools" produce the raw material for suicide bombers and "holy warriors" (jihadists). Additionally, the government long ago ceded control of the so-called "tribal regions" to the local religious fundamentalists, in effect creating a Talibanistan inside Pakistan's nominal borders.

But even as its home-grown terrorists work to tear the country apart, Pakistan STILL won't stop sponsoring terrorism against India, in Indian Kashmir, and in Afghanistan.

Obviously the decent people in Pakistan don't deserve to live under this internal terrorist threat. For that matter, they don't deserve the corrupt civilian rulers and oppressive military apparatus that is imposed on them either.

The Pakistani media also plays a venal role, brainwashing the public instead of striving to enlighten it. The plutocratic owners of the media pursue their own selfish personal goals, using their media properties as their own toys. Additionally, journalists have to worry about terrorists killing them if they displease the terrorists with "negative" (that is, accurate) coverage. (An example of the tawdry nature of Pak media is their shabby treatment of hero teenage advocate of girls' education and Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, whom the Taliban tried to murder on her schoolbus a few years ago with a bullet in the brain. A young woman who should be a national heroine and source of pride is instead trashed.)

And with honest journalists subject to ISI beatings, torture, and murder, the prospect for responsible news and commentary taking root in the country labors under the additional handicap of state terrorism.

By now, the problem seems insoluble, except to let the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and Pakistan form their own nation. It would be a horrible, backward, oppressive country. Women will be treated barely better than animals, as is their "tradition" and "customs." At this point, unless the Pakistani army occupies the entire tribal areas and forcibly disarms every male, and then imposes some kind of normal civil society, continued violent conflict is unavoidable- notwithstanding the Paki army's chief vow today to exterminate "all" the "terrorists." Good luck with that.

And that leaves the problem of Afghanistan, where the Taliban are showing they are not at all defeated, and are stepping up their assaults and effectively taking control of more territory. Obama's plan to counter this is night raids by Special Forces assassination squads. That will hardly suffice to turn the tide. As with his various drone wars, it operates on the fallacious notion that killing "leaders" will destroy these entrenched religiously-based militant movements. (Maybe because neutralizing leaders of dissident movements works so well in U.S. domestic repression, they think it can work in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and wherever.)

Relatives grieving for 15 year old Mohammed Ali Khan, murdered in school attack. There is an endless river of tears ahead in Pakistan.

1] Contradictory numbers have been reported on the number of attackers and victims. Some reports said there were nine attackers. A Pakistani party leader was reported in Dawn (Pakistan) saying 146 were killed, almost 140 being children.

2] See "Pakistan responds to Peshawar school massacre with strikes on Taliban," Guardian, 12/16/14.

The U.S. has also used air attacks on civilians within its own borders. Or rather local "authorities" have, as when the city government of Philadelphia dropped a plastic explosive bomb on the home of the MOVE group, burning down over 60 homes in a black neighborhood ion 1985. (The Mayor at the time was black, Wilson Goode, an ex-military policeman. Philadelphia has a long history of racist police repression, which Goode shamefully continued.) In 1921 whites used aircraft to burn down the black neighborhood of Greenwood in Tulsa, Oklahoma, which was the wealthiest black neighborhood in the U.S. A total of 35 city blocks were burned to the ground. [See for example Tulsa race riot on Wikipedia, among other sources. This particular white pogrom is well-documented historically.]

3] I said "goes back at least to the Afghan war" because one could argue the root of the problem is traceable to the very establishment foundations of Pakistan itself by religious zealots with a hatred of Hindus.

4] See for instance "2008 Mumbai attacks," Wikipedia, "2011 Mumbai bombings," Wikipedia, "Mumbai Terror Attacks Fast Facts," CNN Library, November 19, 2014.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Some More Islamofascist Terrorism

Boko Haram in Nigeria just blew up a mosque. Must have been one for heretic Muslims.

A Taliban blew himself up in an audience at a high school performance in Kabul, Afghanistan. Can’t allow anyone to enjoy life or be safe anywhere. The Koran forbids all enjoyment, I guess. (Funny, the Saudi rulers, who spread this noxious anti-life crap, Wahhabism, live pretty high on the hog themselves. No wonder Osama bin Laden had a falling-out with them. He took their bullshit seriously, and they didn’t. (Except they impose it on others- indirectly by violence if necessary.)

Islamofascists and tribalists are taking over Yemen, in large part because of bone-headed U.S. policies there. (The U.S. did its usual thing of expediently supporting whatever dictator was handy. The result of not promoting democracy in the long term always leads to unhappy results in the end, but our oligarchs are too blind to ever see that.)

In Pakistan, well there’s the usual daily terror campaign. On a related note, the Nobel Peace Prize Winner Malala Yousafzai, the Pakistani girl (now a young woman) who was shot in the head on her schoolbus by a Paki Islamofascist terrorist a couple of years ago (for the very good reason that she asserted her and all girls’ right to be educated), and who is the youngest recipient of the Prize ever, at age 17, isn’t a source of national pride in her homeland (where it is too dangerous for her and her family to live anymore), isn’t accorded a place of honor there, certainly isn’t protected, and is treated as disreputable if not outright scum by the Paki press. Maybe someday the Paks will pull their own heads out of their asses if they ever get tired of the smell.

[For more on the shooting of Malala, seeTaliban Clears Up Misunderstanding Over Why They Shot 15-Year-Old-Schoolgirl in the Head,” July 18, 2013.]



The International Community to 1.7 Million Syrians- Drop Dead

In the midst of a savage, multifactional civil war in Syria, deadbeat donor nations owe the UN World Food Program $64 million in unfulfilled pledges for December. That's an 89% shortfall. The UNWFP is ending its food shipments on which close to two million Syrian victims of Assad's War on “his own” people depend for survival.

There's your “world community,” as represented by the world's politicians.

The UN is a club for national governments. It does NOT represent the world's people. It represents national political power systems and the political bosses who control them.

In a normal human world, a government waging war on its own people would immediately be invaded by the rest of the world's armies and overthrown.

But then again, in a normal human world, why would armies even exist? Why would an allegedly intelligent species, which likes to brag about its “civilizations” and “achievements,” create massive organizations and horrendous weapons designed to kill its own kind and pulverize their cities and other creations?

Guess it's just a pathological, oftentimes psychotic, species.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Obama’s Impeachable Offenses Regarding Torture

Barack “We Tortured Some Folks!” Obama took an oath of office when he became president. The people who rule us would have us believe that this oath isn’t merely a meaningless formality, a bit of solemn pageantry to entertain and awe the subjects of the Empire. Alright then, let’s pretend it really is a serious oath, legally binding on the person who “solemnly swears “ to it, “so help [him] God,” (their official deity). [1] The newly-minted president-  chief executive of U.S. imperialism and hired manager of the corporate oligarchy which it serves-  pledges to “preserve, protect and defend the [U.S.] Constitution.” The Constitution itself prescribes this oath. (Article 2, Section 1.)

Under that legal document, the Constitution, treaties the U.S. signs have the status of Constitutional law.

The U.S. is a signatory to an anti-torture convention. This not only bans torture by signatory nations without exceptions, it also obligates the signatory nations to prosecute torturers. Failure to do so subjects the torturers to foreign prosecution. (In theory. Of course the U.S. has enough power to thumb its nose at the rest of the world.)

Thus Obama is violating a treaty, which has the legal status of the U.S. Constitution itself, by refusing to prosecute known torturers. The opposite of “preserving, protecting and defending.”

In fact he has been aiding and abetting the torturers during his entire presidency by shielding them from prosecution and vigorously attempting to suppress information about their crimes. This includes barring Guantanamo Bay prisoners (aka “detainees”) from testifying about their torture in the kangaroo court “military commission” show trials against them and preventing their lawyers from telling anyone about the torture under pain of criminal prosecution. Oh, and trying to squelch and impede in every way investigations by the Congressional committees- while out of the other side of his mouth, Obama likes to tell us that there is vigorous control and oversight of the secret police by three branches of government- Congress (kept in the dark), the judiciary (the rubber-stamp FISA “court,” also deceived,) and Obama himself, an accomplice. (Every Federal secret police agency, starting with the NSA, CIA, and FBI, has had a strong ally in Obama for their seizures of ever-more-repressive powers.)

As early as February 2009, before he was even in office a month, one of the government attorneys under his command made a veiled threat to a Federal judge in a case brought by victims of CIA kidnapping and torture (in this case the victims were handed over to Egypt for torturing). [2]

The president, and indeed all the members of Congress, have a duty to uphold the laws of the U.S. Torture is a Federal crime under U.S. law. Of course, during the Bush regime, the fiction was upheld that their torture wasn't torture. The corporate media (including "liberal" organs such as the New York Times and Washington Post) strictly observed a proscription against calling U.S. torture "torture." Instead the euphemisms "enhanced interrogation techniques" (a government term parroted by the media) and "harsh interrogation techniques" were employed. Particularly daring reporters would slip in "brutal methods" occasionally. But since Obama conceded "we tortured some folks," and with the voluminous evidence on the record, it is long since past time to put this Big Lie to bed.(And yet the media persists. Even reporting the story of the Senate report, while now using the word "torture," they still are mainly using the aforementioned despicable euphemisms!) 

There are other crimes Obama has committed. For example, by refusing to prosecute- indeed refusing to even investigate- the CIA criminals who brazenly incriminated themselves in computer crimes they committed against the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers whose computers they broke into and deleted files from, Obama aided and abetted those crimes and obstructed justice. (Obstructed it completely in fact!) After breaking into the Senate staffers computers (remember, the Senate allegedly “oversees” the CIA- apparently it’s the other way around), CIA boss John “Everyone I Kill Is A Terrorist” Brennan accused the Senate Committee of stealing CIA documents, based on the CIA’s surreptitious searches and seizures from the Committee’s computers! (Like I said, brazen.) Obama has backed the CIA to the hilt the whole time. He helped drag out the writing of the Senate report on CIA torture for five years. And all this year he has impeded the release of the report. (Insanely, the Senate “overseers”  agreed to let the CIA censor the report!)[3]

So Obama has committed high crimes and misdemeanors, and has violated his oath of office. Of course his own party supports him. And the Republicans would only impeach him over Obamacare and his  executive order tweaking the repression of undocumented immigrants (“illegal immigrants” in xenophobe lingo). The GOP supports all the evil Obama does. In fact, except for John McCain, a foe of torture, pretty much all the GOP members of Congress are pro-torture, and indeed their members on the Senate Intelligence Committee denounced the committee’s report. (Democrats control the committee, being a majority in the Senate. In January the GOP takes over the Senate and all committees, since they won a smashing victory in the November midterm elections.)
One Big Lie Obama and the Obamaites have been telling is that Obama “banned torture.” Not so, as the U.S. Army Field Manual has a section on torture- excuse me, “interrogation.” And of course U.S. “Special Forces” torture their prisoners and have been torturing- and murdering- their prisoners routinely, at least as far back as the Vietnam War.

Ruthless empires do stuff like that.

1] Those last four words actually aren’t in the Constitutional oath, but like “God” added to the pledge of allegiance in the 1950’s, and “In God We Trust” printed on U.S. currency, is an infection of religiosity against the Constitutional separation of church and state.

2] See “State Secrets and Deceit: Obama Embraces CIA Torture,Global Research, February 13, 2009. Nor has the torture ever been a secret, as years ago victims have been interviewed by genuine journalists. For example, “Yemeni Man Imprisoned at CIA ‘Black Sites’ Tells His Story of Kidnapping and Torture,” Democracy Now, December 18, 2007.

3] The report itself, based on examining 6 million CIA documents, is over 6,700 pages. It is still “classified” (a fancy word for secret). What has been released is a heavily-censored 525-page  executive summary of the report. To illustrate the absurdity of the CIA censorship, which the Senate Committee shamefully knuckled under to, the long-publicly-known names of two sadistic psychologists whom the CIA paid a cool $81 million to for designing and overseeing torture (in which some people were murdered- people who were NOT “terrorists”) were replaced with pseudonyms. Notoriously, the American Psychological Association worked hand in glove with the CIA to deem their behavior perfectly in line with medical ethics. Their names are James Elmer Mitchell and Bruce Jessen[The Psychologists Who Taught the C.I.A. How to Torture (and Charged $180 Million), Vanity Fair, December 10, 2014.]

Monday, December 08, 2014

Merkel Upbraids Putin For “Interfering” in Europe

German Chancellor Angela “The Iron Mouse” Merkel has publicly raked Vladimir Putin and Russia over the coals once again for “interfering” in other countries. [1]

And who can blame her? As U.S. Secretary of State John “I Love Being Important!” Kerry has sneered, interfering in other countries’ internal affairs is just SO “twentieth century!” I mean who does THAT anymore? Certainly not the U.S.! Certainly not the EU! (Oh wait, didn’t they arrange a coup in Ukraine in the spring? SHHH! You’re not supposed to notice that!) 

Actually Kerry might have been talking about “invading” countries, something Russia hasn’t exactly done in Ukraine. But again, when was the last time the U.S. invaded a country? Not since the 20th century! (Well, not exactly true. Remember Iraq 2003? And Haiti in 2004? Oh, right.) OK, smarty, when was the last time before THAT? (Uh, 2001. But there was a good reason!) Alright then, what about before then? --1992 (Somalia). And don’t forget 1991. (Iraq.)  Um, and 1989 (Panama).  Then there’s Lebanon  in 1982 and 1984. And let’s  not forget 1983 (Grenada). And Vietnam, and Laos, and Cambodia. And the U.S. simply had to invade the Dominican Republic in 1965 when an election didn’t come out the right way. [2]

Then there’s all the coups and subversion and terrorism, the destruction of democracy in Guatemala (1954), Iran (1953), and Chile (1973- the only one of the three where some democracy has returned), to mention three. Oh, and the Iraq coup by which Saddam Hussein took over that nation, backed by the CIA. (He had a falling out with the U.S. much later.) All the subversions of elections and parties and unions and other organizations in Europe, the Operation Gladio terrorism in several European nations, and on and on.

Alright already! That’s different! The U.S. are the GOOD GUYS! Russia are the BAD GUYS! So it’s totally different!

Sheesh! Why do you have to be so FACTUAL all the time! That really spoils the rhetoric!

 Merkel claims Russia is “interfering” with the absorption of every country to Russia’s west by doing mean things to some of those nations.

And what constitutes “Russian interference”? Banning Moldovan imports. Of some products. I kid you not. Not even of all products- the way the U.S. has banned ALL Cuban imports for over 50 years now.

Russia isn’t obligated to trade with Moldova. How often has the U.S. (with its EU lackeys servilely in tow) used economic sanctions against nations to express its displeasure? Just what are they doing to Iran right now? It’s not as if Russia is blockading Moldova, the way the U.S. wages economic warfare.

And the EU and U.S. has been waging economic warfare against Russia for most of this year. Much more savagely than anything Russia is doing.

Merkel is also peeved that Russia supports breakaway portions of former Soviet Republics.  I mean, everyone KNOWS borders are inviolate and eternal. Borders NEVER EVER CHANGE. People NEVER separate from their old countries. That’s why Czechoslovakia is still one country, not too. (Oops, not true.) And there’s no such country as “South Sudan,” just Sudan. (Wrong again.) And Kosovo is still part of Serbia, isn’t it?
Merkel is so tired of Putin’s meddling! Doesn’t he know who rules the world?
But there was an interesting sentence in the Guardian’s (UK) article on Merkel’s latest sour swipe at Russia. Here it is:

“Moscow has shown its displeasure with Moldova’s pro-European course – confirmed in an election last week in which a pro-Russia candidate was prevented from participating – by banning imports of Moldovan wines, vegetables and meat.”

Now parse that a second. Moldova’s “pro-European course” was “confirmed in an election last week in which a pro-Russia candidate was prevented from participating…” An election in which a candidate was not allowed to run. Now how “democratic” is that? How is that different from Iran, where a bunch of mullahs decide who can run, or Hong Kong, where the Chinese rulers are picking the permitted candidates for the city’s boss? But the Guardian just breezed right past that. They slipped it in as an aside in a sentence about Russia’s import ban. They probably figured no one would notice. Probably almost no one did.

Oh, and get this: “Merkel also accused Moscow of trying to make countries in the western Balkans economically and politically dependent on Russia in order to gain influence there,” according to the Guardian.

Now the U.S. and its EU running dogs would never do anything like that! The U.S.-controlled International Monetary Fund didn’t just sink its claws into Ukraine, for example. (There’s only about 10,000 other examples in the last few centuries of Euro-American imperialisms- I won’t tax your patience by running through them all.)

One thing Merkel has learned well from her U.S. masters: the art of shameless hypocrisy.

"Putin? Meh. We don't like him anymore.
Obedient German Schnauzer looks to her Master for cues.

1] Angela Merkel: Russia creating problems for EU-minded neighbours,Guardian, 7 December 2014.

2] Notes: There’s a list of major U.S. violence and brutality in Latin America from 1890, History of U.S. Interventions in Latin America. That of course is after the U.S. invasion of Mexico in 1848 and the seizure of half of Mexico and its incorporation into the U.S.

A more extensive list is From Wounded Knee to Syria: A Century of U.S. Military Interventions, which has an obvious ideological bias. (Too bad there wasn’t more intervention in Syria, if indeed there was even what this author claims.)

If you’d like to peruse a list that purports to show invasions by all countries going back centuries, there’s one on Wikipedia, titled List of invasions. (Nice and straightforward, eh?)

By the way, unlike doctrinaire leftists, I don’t think every single intervention was unjustified. Stopping Serbian rampages in the Balkans was overdue. And it was legitimate to aid the Libyan people in their uprising against the hated tyrant Qaddafi, to name two examples. And it would have been a fine thing to have supported the Syrians rebellion against the monstrous Assad with more than rhetoric- too late now!

As for the current operations against the self-aggrandizing nihilists now calling themselves “Islamic State,” a self-styled barbarous “caliphate,” the people literally fighting for their lives against these exterminationists deserve to be aided militarily and not abandoned to an awful fate. But as usual, Obama first dithered, then proceeded to half-measures. Obama nearly abandoned Kobani, a Kurdish city in Syria, near the Turkish border, to the IS onslaught, before changing his mind.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

New York City SO Like Ferguson, Missouri!

The other shoe drops, again.
The second most prominent of about a half dozen recent murders of African-Americans that got wide public notice, that of Eric Garner, choked to death by New York City cop Daniel Pantaleo in the Borough of Staten Island on July 17, has closely followed the script of the Ferguson, Missouri execution of Michael Brown by Ferguson cop Darren Wilson.

The Staten Island prosecutor, a white reactionary like his Ferguson counterpart, dragged his feet for months, hoping the furor would die down. Like his Ferguson comrade, he used a grand jury to deflect responsibility from himself for the decision he made at the very start- no prosecution of the killer cop.
The medical examiner, a city official, ruled Garner's death a homicide. You'd think that would guarantee criminal charges. (If you're naive you'd think that, anyway.) 

If anonymous “law enforcement sources” can be believed, 9 of the grand jurors were “minorities.”
During these months of stalling, the police on Staten Island committed more felonies, namely witness tampering and obstruction of justice, by harassing, intimidating, and arresting the man who recorded the murder of Garner on his cellphone, and his girlfriend. This is standard procedure in such cases. Witnesses are threatened by police to change their stories. In this case, one tactic was shining searchlights into the apartment of the witness and his girlfriend in the middle of the night.

The most important pattern that repeats: the total refusal of the power structure to give an inch. Their police blatantly murder poor blacks with impunity, the system’s legal machinery churns its wheels, and the murderers are given a clean bill of health. Those who are outraged by the repetitive injustices get some chicken soup rhetoric poured on their heads by establishment figures, who also issue boilerplate rhetoric about the “right to peacefully protest” while in the shadows their goon squads brutalize and arrest protesters, and police infiltrators work to disrupt protesters, identify targets for “neutralization,” and everything is done to prevent an inchoate movement from crystallizing into effective organizations of resistance. [The details are readily available from numerous sources. Democracy Now is one good source.]

Pantaleo's lawyer or PR person wrote a statement for him offering condolences to Garner's family, which was duly delivered to the media. You can judge the sincerity of this by Pantaleo’s record of false arrests, humiliations, and sexual assaults on other black victims. (In one case he stripped black men and tapped their testicles.) [1]

Pantaleo sneaks up behind Eric Garner and cuts off his windpipe.

Pantaleo choking Garner on the ground.
Pantaleo grinds Eric Garner's head into the pavement.

The NYPD “banned” chokeholds in 1992- which doesn't stop the police from routinely using them anyway. Apparently that's another example of Potemkin village Official Reality, which has no relation of actual reality.

Funny thing though: both the current Mayor, the “liberal” Bill deBlasio, (who, like Obama, ran on a promise of change) and his handpicked police commissioner, the professional oppressor William Bratton, have both publicly insisted that police chokeholds NOT BE OUTLAWED. Gee, why not, boys? Do you want your cops to keep choking people? [2]

As in the Ferguson case, the killer-cop testified before the secret grand jury- a sure sign that the fix was in. No prosecutorial prey in their right mind would testify before a grand jury targeting them- unless they know they're safe. There are no defense lawyers allowed. The whole point of a grand jury is for prosecutors to present one-sided “evidence” to obtain an indictment. Except when the point is to “clear” a cop. [Grand Juries are also used to conduct political inquisitions, forcing activists to give up intelligence information about the political activities of themselves and others and targeted organizations. The information is then used for nefarious purposes, to destroy the organizations targeted, disrupt opposition activities, and bring trumped-up criminal charges.]

DeBlasio speciously claims that having cops wearing cameras will “provide more information” and improve relations between police and what's called “the community.”

Well, we had all the information we needed in this case from the cellphone video of Garner being jumped by a group of cops who dragged him to the ground like a gang of hyenas attacking a wildebeest and choked from behind. What would a cop-cam have changed? They still would have arrested Garner for the “crime” of selling loose cigarettes. The cop behind him would still have choked him- in fact coop-cams wouldn't have shown the choking as clearly (if at all) as the citizen recording the murder scene from a distance. 

The problem isn't a lack of information. The problem is the repressive structure of U.S. society. All the media jabber, politicians' blather, and even much “left” commentary obfuscates this basic fact.
By the way, if anyone cares, the police who committed witness intimidation and obstruction of justice could be prosecuted. But I guess the state has more important crimes to prosecute- like selling loose cigarettes. (Which Garner wasn’t even doing at the time- the police had arrested him previously and were using him to boost their arrest stats, serving their own careers.) Also local U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has been totally silent- even though he threatened the Governor of the state, Andrew Cuomo, with prosecution for obstruction of justice because Cuomo disbanded an “anti-corruption” commission that Cuomo himself had appointed. A real obstruction of justice case hasn’t gotten his attention. (Nor that of another U.S. Attorney with jurisdiction over parts of NYC, Loretta Lynch, whom Obama is now trying to elevate to Attorney General of the U.S. to replace the loathsome Eric “Due Process Is We Decide To Kill You” Holder.)

Another infamous choking murder by an NYPD officer occurred in 1994 in the borough of the Bronx in NYC, when a sadistic cop with a history of violent assaults on citizens named Francis X. Livoti choked to death a 29 year old security guard named Anthony Baez. Baez was playing football when the ball landed on the hood of Livoti's car. A police sergeant and other cops allowed Livoti to murder Baez right in front of them for this offense. (The police really are like a street gang.) The fix was in in this case also. Livoti was eventually indicted on the least serious possible charge for causing a death, “criminally negligent homicide.” He waived a jury trial so a political hack judge could acquit him in 1996. Finally public pressure forced the Federal government to defuse public anger by trying Livoti for violating Baez's civil rights, and he was convicted in 1998 and sentenced to seven and a half years (of a possible ten). He was freed a year early.

Usually a small number of police are sadists and thugs, and are easily identified by their records. Yet U.S. police departments continue to protect and employ them, apparently finding them useful tools of intimidation and repression. (For example, Livoti's superior actually wanted to remove him before the Baez murder, but NYPD Chief of Department Louis Anemone blocked the move. See “A Bit Of Justice,” Village Voice, October 13, 1998.

1] Eric Garner choke-hold cop sued in prior misconduct cases,” Detroit Free Press, December 5, 2014.

For the horrible callousness of the dozens of cops, and the emergency medical technicians who treated Garner as if he was merely asleep after Pantaleo choked him unconscious, bursting blood vessels in his neck as an autopsy determined, see the video Did the NYPD Let EricGarner Die? Video Shows Police Ignored Pleas to Help Him After Chokehold,” Democracy Now, 12/5/14, also on 

2] NYPD “banned” chokeholds are routine in New York. See for example '”I Was Choked by the NYPD': New York's Chokehold Problem Isn't Going Away,Village Voice, September 23, 2014.

Bratton was also NYPD commissioner under quasi-fascist NYC mayor Rudolph Giuliani, until Giuliani, an egomaniac, couldn't tolerate Bratton's knack for media self-promotion and replaced him with another zealous oppressor, Raymond Kelly, who helped kill Vietnamese as a Marine. Bratton went on to head the Boston and Los Angeles police departments. In Los Angeles, his troops murdered a Hispanic journalist who had been a thorn in their sides.
As evidence for the unreformability of the system- because those in power like it just the way it is- see Almost All Allegations of NYPD Brutality Go Nowhere,” Village Voice, July 25, 2014.
U.S. police have standard ways of killing people. Shooting them to death. Beating them to death. Choking them to death. Tasering them to death. Sometimes running over them with their police cars.
But while we are totally at the mercy of violent police and the system of power which they are the tools of, the apparatchiks of the system ruthlessly crush any who raise a finger against them. An activist named Diego Ibanez  tossed fake blood on the suit of NYPD police commissioner William Bratton on November 24th. He was held on $20,000 bail and charged with sixteen crimes for this single act: two counts of second-degree assault, which are “violent felonies,” each count carrying a maximum prison term of seven years, and fourteen misdemeanors; two counts of second-degree aggravated harassment and six counts of obstructing governmental administration that all carry maximum one-year sentences each; and six counts of third-degree criminal mischief, good for another four years in the slammer apiece. 

That makes a total of 46 years in prison if the judge sentenced him to the maximum on each count and ordered the sentences to run consecutively, not concurrently. It would be perfectly legal for the judge to do this. Nor would there be viable grounds for appeal. While the U.S. Constitution “bans” “cruel and unusual punishment,” the courts here apply an 18th century understanding of what constitutes “cruel and unusual,” which would rule out burning at the stake, drawing and quartering, or amputation of body parts. 

Thus it isn't cruel and unusual that thousands of minors in the U.S. are serving life sentences without the possibility of parole. (Many were convicted of crimes other than murder, until the Supreme Court recently ruled that for such crimes, minors should have the possibility of parole. All heart.) As people in the U.S. have been sentenced to life without parole for such crimes as shoplifting socks, shoplifting a sweatshirt, and stealing a slice of pizza (all in “liberal” California), clearly there aren't many penalties that are considered excessive under U.S. law. And tens of thousands of prisoners have been kept in solitary confinement for years, and even decades- that's not “cruel and unusual” either in the U.S. In fact, it's quite common. I guess cruelty is perfectly legitimate as long as it isn't unusual. [“Bratton Blood Splatter Artist Posts Bail, Could Face Significant Jail Time,” Village Voice, December 2, 2014.]