US Intervention in Syria

Stephen Lendman

American intervention assures "constructive chaos," the agenda Washington pursues globally, focusing mainly on controlling Eurasia's enormous wealth and resources. Either one or multiple countries at a time, it includes turning Russia and China into vassal states, a goal neither Beijing or Moscow will tolerate.

Despite genuine popular Middle East/North Africa uprisings, Washington's dirty hands orchestrated regime change plans in Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Jordan, and Syria as part of its "New Middle East" project.

On November 18, 2006, Middle East analyst Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya's Global Research article headlined, "Plans for Redrawing the Middle East: The Project for a 'New Middle East,' " saying:

In June 2006 in Tel Aviv, "US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice (first) coin(ed) the term" in place of the former "Greater Middle East" project, a shift in rhetoric only for Washington's longstanding imperial aims.

The new terminology "coincided with the inauguration of the Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan (BTC) Oil Terminal in the Eastern Mediterranean." During Israel's summer 2006 Lebanon war, "Prime Minister Olmert and (Rice) informed the international media that a project for a 'New Middle East' was being launched in Lebanon," a plan in the works for years to "creat(e) an arc of instability, chaos, and violence extending from Lebanon, Palestine, and Syria to Iraq, the Persian Gulf, Iran, and the borders of NATO-garrisoned Afghanistan."

In other words, "constructive chaos" would be used to redraw the region according to US-Israeli "geo-strategic needs and objectives." The strategy is currently playing out violently in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Libya and Syria, and may erupt anywhere in the region to solidify Washington's aim for unchallengeable dominance from Morocco to Oman to Syria.


Petraeus at CIA and Panetta at Pentagon: more of the same and worse

Wayne Madsen
Strategic Culture Foundation

Plans by President Obama to name General David Petraeus, the current commander of U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, to be Director of the Central Intelligence Agency, replacing Leon Panetta, who will move to the Pentagon as Secretary of Defense, not only represents a continuation of America’s war policy but will result in an increase in America’s bellicose foreign policy around the world. Petraeus’s reign at the CIA also represents the further militarization of the CIA, a process that began when President George W. Bush appointed General Michael Hayden, the former Director of the National Security Agency (NSA) and Deputy Director of National Intelligence, to replace George Tenet, as CIA director. Hayden’s dual military-civilian role at the CIA forced Secretary of Defense Robert Gates to order the uniform-clad Hayden to retire from the Air Force and shed the uniform while serving as CIA director.

Petraeus, considered an “academic general” by combat troops who have served under him, comes to the CIA after launching bloody military “surges” against insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan. A product of the elitist Woodrow Wilson School of International and Public Affairs at Princeton University, Petraeus has been a long-time favorite of neo-conservative nationalistic American political leaders like Senators John McCain and Joe Lieberman. Petraeus’s actual front line combat experience as a flag-rank officer is so thin and his leadership qualities so political in nature, many of his troops have called him General “Betray Us.”


Oil bosses rake in record profits as US economy stalls

Patrick Martin
WSWS


Lee Raymond, CEO of Exxon Mobil, left, takes his seat before the start
of Wednesday’s joint Senate Energy and Commerce Committee hearing
on record oil industry profits on Capitol Hill. (Pablo Martinez/AP)

Exxon-Mobil, the world’s biggest and most profitable corporation, raked in a staggering $10.7 billion in profits during the first quarter of 2011, the company reported Thursday. The figure was a 69 percent increase over the same quarter last year, and the highest quarterly profit since 2008, the last time oil prices topped $100 a barrel.

The company’s total revenues hit $114 billion in the first quarter, making it likely that in 2011 it will break its 2008 record of $458 billion, and could become the first oil company to reach half a trillion dollars in revenue. Exxon-Mobil’s revenues exceed the Gross Domestic Product of all but 18 of the 194 countries listed by the World Bank.

The profit figure for Exxon-Mobil was only the most obscene of a flood of multi-billion-dollar earnings reports from the major oil companies. Shell’s profits rose 22 percent to $6.9 billion, while the profits of ConocoPhillips rose 44 percent to $3 billion.

One year after the Gulf oil disaster, BP posted a first-quarter profit of $7.1 billion, an increase of 17 percent. Occidental Petroleum saw its profits soar 46 percent to $1.55 billion in the first quarter, while Apache Corporation netted $1.1 billion, an increase of 51 percent.

Contrary to the free-market mythology embraced by the Obama administration, the Democratic and Republican parties, and the corporate-controlled American media, the record oil profits were not a reward for superior performance in the production of petroleum and its derivatives.

Nearly all the major oil companies actually produced and sold less oil and gas in the first three months of 2011 than in previous quarters, but they charged far higher prices. Exxon-Mobil was the only major firm reporting Thursday whose output actually rose, largely because of its acquisition of the natural gas producer XTO.


Palestinian Unity Deal Announced

Stephen Lendman


A Palestinian vendor displays a poster of Hamas leader in the Gaza
Strip Ismail Haniya (L) and Palestinian president and Fatah head Mr.
Abbas in front of his shop in Gaza City today. (M. Abed/AFP/Getty)

On April 27, the International Middle East Media Center headlined, "Rival Palestinian Factions Reach Reconciliation Agreement," saying:

Meeting in Cairo, Palestinian media sources announced a Hamas - Fatah reconciliation draft agreement, signaling hope for rapprochement between the two sides.

Both parties agreed to form a transitional government soon. The two delegations, headed by Fatah President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal discussed security issues and ways to coordinate forces on both sides. They also chose an election date, but didn't disclose it.

"A Hamas official (Izzat Ar-Rishiq) reported that all points of differences with Fatah have been overcome....Egyptian sources said that the two parties will be invited into Egypt soon (for an) official signing ceremony."

Egypt's official MENA news agency confirmed "a complete understanding after talks on all the points, including the formation of a transitional government with a specific mandate and setting a date for elections."

Fatah delegation chief Azzam Al-Ahmad confirmed the report, saying both sides agreed to a "government of independents....tasked with preparing for presidential and legislative elections within a year."


America's Terminal Decline

Stephen Lendman

It's a sad testimony to a two centuries old experiment that failed because absolute power corrupted too many with it wanting more.

What distinguished experts long knew (timetables aside), the IMF just recognized, saying China's economy will surpass America's in 2016. If so, it will signal an end to the "Age of America," and no wonder after decades of heedless profligacy. More on that below.

The IMF's 2011 World Economic Outlook shows China overtaking America in five years based on purchasing power parity (PPP) - a criterion for an appropriate exchange rate between currencies as measured by the cost of a representative basket of goods in one country v. another.

IMF's 2016 PPP GDP estimate:

China - $18,975.7 trillion
America - $18,807.5 trillion

In current dollar terms, America retains its lead, but it's slipping noticeably.

IMF's 2016 dollar GDP estimate:

America - $18,807.5 trillion
China - $11,220.2 trillion

Economic forecasts, of course, vary. Moreover, long-range ones combine extrapolated trends with reasoned judgments. However, as economist Alec Craincross (1911 - 1998) once observed:

"A trend is a trend is a trend. But the question is, will it bend? Will it alter its course through some unforeseen force and come to a premature end?"

Not China's for over three decades, "growing 17-fold in real (inflation-adjusted) terms since 1980," according to economist Mark Weisbrot. As a result, it's been the world's fastest growth engine, a pace it's maintained during the current global economic crisis in contrast to America in decline.


Holding the World Hostage

Nahida Izzat
Exiled Palestinian

The world has almost become desensitized to hearing horrible news; there isn't a day that passes without being bombarded with horrific reports; of some killed in a street in Pakistan, more are blown up in a village in Iraq, a drone dropped over a wedding in Afghanistan, a child shot in the back in Palestine, a bomb exploded in Libya, a "new and improved" version of an Israeli threat to Iran…etc…etc.

However, some types of news might still have some sort of an impact; the type that catches the eye causing it to flood with tears, the type that grabs the soul by the throat causing it to choke, the type that contains within an oxymoron; the kernels of extinction and the seeds of annihilation, the type that feels like throbbing, suffocating pain running through every cell of the body, the type that smells of burnt death, radiates with isotopes and gamma-rays and looks like dark smoky mushroom-cloud.

For example:

On 28 September 2010, the "Israeli" Newspaper Haaretz reported that a virus targeted a large nuclear facility in Iran
On 16 January 2011, Haaretz reported that Israel tested the destructive Stuxnet worm in Dimona nuclear plant
On 20 February 2011, Haaretz reported a further attack on 'Iran nuclear facilities in Natanz, Bushehr sites'
On 27 April 2011, the Iranian Government computers were attacked yet again by the highly specialized aggressive computer virus, Stuxnet, a new generation of software programs that can fail entire production lines.

The German cyber-security expert Ralph Langner, has been working to unravel the mystery of the Stuxnet virus. In March this year, Langner told his audience that the Stuxnet worm could be used as a "weapon of mass destruction against targets in the West"

In his speech, Langner warned of "the plot behind Stuxnet" calling its mode of operation "creepy."


No Place to Hide: Internet Tracking Probe Unveiled as New Smartphone Spy Scandal Unwinds

Tom Burghardt
Antifascist Calling

As the United States morphs into a failed state, one unwilling and soon perhaps, unable, to provide for the common good even as it hands over trillions of dollars to a gang of financial brigands engorged like parasitic ticks on the wealth of others, keeping the lid on is more than just an imperial obsession: it's big business.

Earlier this month, New Scientist reported that "a new way of working out where you are by looking at your internet connection could pin down your current location to within a few hundred metres."

Although similar techniques are already in use, they are not very accurate in terms of closing the surveillance trap. "Every computer connected to the web has an internet protocol (IP) address, but there is no simple way to map this to a physical location," reporter Jacob Aron informs us. "The current best system can be out by as much as 35 kilometres."

However, Yong Wang, "a computer scientist at the University of Electronic Science and Technology of China in Chengdu, and colleagues at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, have used businesses and universities as landmarks to achieve much higher accuracy."

According to New Scientist, "Wang's team used Google Maps to find both the web and physical addresses of such organisations, providing them with around 76,000 landmarks. By comparison, most other geolocation methods only use a few hundred landmarks specifically set up for the purpose."

With geolocation tracking devices embedded in smartphones (and, as we'll see below, this data is stored without their users' consent), all of which is happily turned over to authorities by telecoms (for the right price, of course!), as privacy researcher Christopher Soghoian revealed in 2009, it becomes abundantly clear that sooner than most people think they'll be no escaping Big Brother's electronic dragnet.


Professor Hassan Diab: Unjustly Victimized

Stephen Lendman


Hassan Diab arrives at the Ottawa Courthouse on Nov. 8, 2010.
Photograph by: Wayne Cuddington, The Ottawa Citizen

An earlier article discussed the case of Canadian Professor Denis Rancourt. In March 2009, the University of Ottawa unjustly fired him for heroically supporting Palestinian liberation and justice. Access it through this link.

His "(a)rticles and entries about activist teaching and radical pedagogy" can be followed daily on his blog site, accessed here.

Depending on how events unfold, the case of former University of Ottawa and Carleton University Professor Hassan Diab is more disturbing and shocking. A November 13, 2008 Ottawa Citizen article explained, headlining:

"Ottawa university instructor arrested in 1980 blast at Paris synagogue," saying, "The October 3, 1980 Union Liberale Israelite de France incident killed four, injured dozens, and was followed by similar attacks in Vienna, Antwerp, Belgium, and elsewhere."

On November 13, 2008, Diab "was arrested by the RCMP (Royal Canadian Mounted Police) at Gatineau residence....as he was getting dressed, placed in custody at the RCMP's A division," and for over four months, denied bail, his lawyer, Rene Duval, said at the time. He now lives under virtual house arrest, wears a GPS electronic ankle monitor, and can only leave home accompanied by one of five sureties who posted his $250,000 + bond.

His apprehension followed an international arrest warrant issued by two French judges earlier in November, "believed to be the first such (instance) for (alleged) terrorism ever executed in Canada."

With no corroborating evidence, France's Le Figaro newspaper cited unnamed 2007 sources, saying Diab led "the small commando team responsible for the attack and had asked Canada for assistance with their investigation."


Is Iraq Also Turning Into an Orwellian State?

Dallas Darling
World News

By the time former President George W. Bush ordered massive and deadly bombing campaigns over Iraq, followed by a preemptive military invasion that killed thousands of innocent Iraqi civilians, there was no need to burn books. Neither was there concern over public demonstrations, anti-war rhetoric, acts of sedition, or Americans disrupting Congressional hearings and televised news accounts of the war. In a nation that no longer reads books, there is no need for book burnings. In a society that no longer knows how to think, there is no need for the thought police. In a country that speaks only in euphemisms-words and phrases devoid of any meaning and reality and facts-there is no need to suppress speech. In a state that fences and cordons off areas for protesters, the Gestapo and secret police are not needed. Furthermore, in a society socially engineered to consume manufactured, yet illegal, wars and high-tech atrocities, brutal occupations and collectivized murder becomes entertainment. Reality in an empire, or what appears to be reality dictated through illusions, is much more comfortable and easier to digest and to live with than moral convictions, moral courage, and moral outrage.

This is exactly the kind of totalitarian society and state George Orwell warned and wrote about in his book: "1984." It also appears to be what is now occurring in Iraq. Recently, and similar to America's Orwellian State, when thousands of protesters in Iraq demonstrated and demanded the same reforms that other Arab nations were experiencing, Iraq's government declared there would be no more demonstrations, except, of course, in certain "assembly zones" surrounded by fences. Several days later, Iraq's government announced a total ban on protests in the capital city of Baghdad, claiming that it was hurting street vendors businesses. These were the same common tactics used by both Republican and Democratic Parties in the United States to suppress free speech and the right to assemble at their meetings, rallies and conventions. The reason is always for "security purposes." Other protests in Iraq, including many against U.S. occupation troops, have either been denied because of no "legal" marching permits and strict curfews, or spatially limited due to Iraqi security forces. These same ploys have been used for years to "cage" American protesters and free speech movements.


US, NATO defend policy of targeting Gaddafi

Patrick Martin
WSWS


Libyan soldiers near a damaged building at the Bab al-Aziziya
compound in Tripoli. Photograph: Mohamed Messara/EPA

The Obama administration and spokesmen for NATO have publicly defended the targeting of Libyan ruler Muammar Gaddafi through air strikes on his residential compound in Tripoli, the Libyan capital. NATO warplanes struck the residence on Monday and destroyed much of it, but the Libyan leader escaped the assassination attempt unhurt.

F-16 fighter-bombers operated by Norway carried out the attack. NATO said later that one of its F-16 jets had crash-landed at the Sigonella airbase in western Sicily after a mission over Tripoli. It was not clear whether this was one of the warplanes that bombed the Bab-al-Aziziyah compound where Gaddafi and his family live.

A Libyan government spokesman, Moussa Ibraham, denounced the air strike. “We are regarding it as an attempt to assassinate the leader and unifying figure of this country and other political leaders of this country,” he said at a news conference in front of the destroyed buildings, calling it an act “worthy of the mafia, of gangs, but not of governments.”

He asked, “How is this act of terrorism protecting civilians in Libya? How is this act of terrorism helping establish peace in Libya? Targeting political leaders will only help make the situation worse.”

The Libyan government also charged that NATO was blockading the port of Tripoli and preventing humanitarian supplies from entering, although a NATO spokesman denied that food, medicine and other relief supplies were being turned away.


Why U.S. and NATO Fed Detainees to Afghan Torture System

Gareth Porter
Inter Press Service


Not just at the NDS: Body of Agha Mohammad,
who died on a US airbase in Shindand, Afghani-
stan, on December 29, 2008. (HRW)

During 2009, ISAF transferred a total of 350 detainees to NDS

WASHINGTON, Apr 26, 2011 (IPS) - Starting in late 2005, U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan began turning detainees over to the Afghan National Directorate of Security (NDS), despite its well-known reputation for torture.

Interviews with former U.S. and NATO diplomats and other evidence now available show that United States and other NATO governments become complicit in NDS torture of detainees for two distinctly different reasons.

For the European members of NATO - especially the British and Dutch - the political driver was the need to distance themselves from a U.S. detainee policy already tainted by accounts of U.S. torture.

The U.S. and Canada supported such transfers, however, in the belief that NDS interrogators could get better intelligence from the detainees.

The transfers to the NDS were a direct violation of the United Nations Convention against Torture, which forbids the transfer of any person by a State Party to "another State where there are substantial grounds for believing that he would be in danger of being subjected to torture."


Time Is Ripe For A Paradigm Shift

Gilad Atzmon
Gilad Atzmon's Blog

It is slightly embarrassing for me to admit that sometime Zionists are actually well ahead of our favorite intellectuals in understanding the depth of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. It is not that they are more clever, they are just free to explore the conflict without being subject to the tyranny of ‘political correctness’. Also being proud nationalist Jews, they do not need the approval of the Jewish left thought police.

I have recently come across a short Haaretz article by Israeli writer A.B. Yehoshua*.

Yehoshua is a proud Zionist. He believes in the right of his people to dwell on Palestinian land. He is also convinced that the Jewish state is the true meaning of contemporary Jewish life. I guess that Yehoshua loves himself almost as much as I despise everything he stands for and yet, I have to confess, he seems to grasp the depth of the Israeli Palestinian conflict’s parameters slightly better than most solidarity activists I can think of.

In his Haaretz article, Yehoshua stressed that Zionism was “something original and one of its kind in human history - a people arrived at the homeland of another people, attempting to replace [their] old identity with a new/old identity”. Yehoshua also counters the faulty colonial paradigm and practically repeats my own theses almost word by word. “There was also no (Zionist) attempt to impose a colonial regime, since the Jews had no (mother) state that could have sent them to perform a colonial conquests like in the case of England or France.”

Yehoshua, is certainly correct here, as much as some amongst us are [inclined] to argue that Zionism is a ‘colonial project’ and [that] Israel is a ‘settler State’, such a position has no ground and cannot be supported factually or historically.[1] The Colonial paradigm is simply a fantasy that is clumsily imposed on our discourse in a desperate attempt to make the Israeli/Palestinian conflict meaningful within a decaying Marxist discourse.


Lies, Damn Lies, and Reports about Gitmo Detainees

Stephen Lendman


Ex-Guantanamo Bay detainees (from left, in back) Ablikin
Turahun, Salahidin… (Bates for NYDailyNewscom)

Post-9/11, The New York Times became the leading misreporting source about Guantanamo detainees, largely characterizing them as dangerous terrorists threatening US security.

For example, on July 25, 2007, (like its many other reports) William Glaberson headlined, "New US study calls Guantanamo captives dangerous," saying:

A new Pentagon study "argues that large numbers of detainees were a direct threat to United States forces, including Al Qaeda fighters, terrorism-training camp veterans and men who had experience with explosives, sniper rifles and rocket-propelled grenades."

"It paints a chilling portrait of the Guantanamo detainees, (saying) 95 percent were at the least a 'potential threat,' including detainees who had played a supporting role in terrorist groups or had expressed a commitment to pursuing violent jihadist goals."

More on The Times' reassessment below.

Under Professor Mark Denbeaux's direction, Seton Hall University School of Law's Center for Policy & Research (CP&R) published 17 "GTMO Reports," including profiles of detainees held, allegations against them, and discrepancies in government (and media) accounts, characterizing innocent men as dangerous.

An earlier report analyzed unclassified government data (obtained through Freedom of Information Act requests) based on evidentiary summaries of 2004 military hearings on whether 517 detainees held at the time were "enemy combatants."

Most were non-belligerents. In fact, a shocking 95% were seized randomly by bounty hunters, then sold to US forces for $5,000 per claimed Taliban and $25,000 for supposed Al Qaeda members. At least 20 were children, some as young as 13.


Oil and War in Libya

Sergey Pravosudov
War among World Centers

Why is the United States waging war in the oil-rich regions of Middle East and Northern Africa if it inevitably causes the high oil prices? We have to keep in mind that North America has tremendous deposits of so-called «heavy oil» (oil-bearing sands). Their development might be profitable only in case of high oil prices — no less than $100 per barrel.

High oil prices have recently become word of the day. Economists are arguing about how long this trend will last and whether it will cause another world crisis. When the USA along with their NATO allies started the military operation in Libya, numerous observers were perplexed, as long as Americans have already waged two wars (in Iraq and Afghanistan) at the moment. Let me remind you that Barack Obama has won the elections with his promises to renounce bellicose Bushesque policy and withdraw the troops (at least from Iraq). The situation was aggravated by the fact that U.S. debt has already exceeded $14 trillion and it keeps growing. There’s nothing surprising in that — war is a costly leisure.

In fact the situation can be explained quite simply. Instead of cutting their defense budget after the Cold War, the US has increased it furthermore. Today Americans spend more money on their military industry than the rest of the world combined. And if bombs and missile are produced, they should explode somewhere (otherwise, they will just cram the warehouses). At that, the USA have moved major parts of civilian production capacities to the Asian countries with cheaper labor force (China first of all). This allowed to drastically increase net incomes of share-holders and top managers of American corporations.

As a result, we’re having a situation when the military-industrial complex has a major share in American production sector and any attempts to reduce the defense budget face fierce counter-action of lobbyists, frightening authorities with the vanishing jobs. Corporate tycoons are unable to move the war industry abroad (due to possible leaks of military secrets) and are unwilling to do so — after all, they still have the substantial profits from selling the weapons to the state.


The European Union and freedom of the press

Peter Schwarz
WSWS

On January 1, Hungary took over the presidency of the European Union for six months.

On the same day, a new law came into force in Hungary placing the public and private media under the control of the government and virtually eliminating freedom of the press. The coincidence of these two events is significant. Freedom of expression and democracy in general are disintegrating throughout Europe.

The right-wing Hungarian government has lost no time in demonstrating its power over the media. No sooner had the law come into effect than the newly created Media Council launched proceedings against the small, left-liberal broadcaster Tilos Radio. It was charged with having aired a song by rapper Ice-T four months ago. Since very few Hungarians would understand the rapper’s American slang, the Media Council simultaneously published a Hungarian translation of the disputed text in order to demonstrate its allegedly harmful effect on children.

The next to be targeted by the Media Council was the TV channel RTL Klub. This broadcaster is also regarded as relatively liberal and critical of the government. It has been accused of “sensationalism” in its reporting of the “brutal murder of one brother by another in a southern Hungarian village.” The photo it published of a bloodstained mattress was said to be “damaging to young people and even adults.”

Both cases demonstrate that the new law gives the government a blank check to silence media outlets on the basis of virtually any pretext. While the Media Council makes moral accusations such as “glorifying violence,” “placing youth at risk” and “pornography” in order to take action against targeted media outlets, the pro-government broadcasters, which poison the social atmosphere daily with hateful tirades against Roma, Jews, homosexuals and “communists,” need not fear sanctions.

Thus far, no penalties have been imposed on Tilos Radio or RTL Klub, but the Media Council has the power to revoke their licences or bankrupt them by levying draconian fines. The Council consists solely of members of the ruling party, Fidesz. At its head is Anna Maria Szalai, a long-standing confidante of Prime Minister Viktor Orban.

The European Commission, responsible for ensuring compliance with EU treaties, has so far reacted timidly to the trashing of press freedom in Hungary, although there have been disputes over the new media law for months, and even within the EU some isolated critical voices have been heard.


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