US economy contracted in fourth quarter of 2012

Barry Grey

What is already occurring is the collapse of any globally integrated and stable monetary system and the outbreak of currency wars.

The Commerce Department on Wednesday reported that the US economy contracted in the fourth quarter of 2012, the first decline in the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) since the second quarter of 2009, the final three months before the official end of the recession.

The report, showing a decline at an annual rate of 0.1 percent between October and December, stunned Wall Street and government economists, who were expecting a growth rate lower than the 3.1 percent recorded in the third quarter of last year, but still well above zero. The consensus projection was for an increase of 1.1 percent.

The dismal report on the US economy follows downwardly revised estimates for world economic growth issued this month by both the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The Commerce Department statement reflects the impact on the US of stagnation and decline in major centers of the world economy as well as the lack of any genuine recovery in the real economy of the United States.

Washington's War of Aggression on Syria

Stephen Lendman

Bodies of executed men were found on the side of a canal in the
northern Syrian city of Aleppo on Tuesday.
(AFP/Saudi Gazette)

Israel partners with Washington's wars. It's been largely covertly involved against Syria. It's now blatantly overt. Since last weekend, Israeli warplanes violated Syrian airspace multiple times. They overflew the Beka Valley. They attacked a weapons storage facility. They struck a convoy allegedly en route to Lebanon. On Wednesday, they bombed a scientific research center near Damascus. These actions and similar ones are naked acts of aggression. A follow-up article will discuss this further.

Washington planned war on Syria years ago. Previous articles discussed General Wesley Clark's "Winning Modern Wars: Iraq, Terrorism, and the American Empire." Post-9/11, Pentagon sources told him plans targeted Iraq, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Libya, Iran and Syria for regime change. Earlier they were finalized against Afghanistan. Clark asked:

"And what about the real sources of terrorists - US allies in the region like Egypt, Pakistan, and Saudi Arabia?" "Wasn't it repressive policies of the first, and the corruption and poverty of the second, that were generating many of the angry young men who became terrorists?" "And what of the radical ideology and direct funding spewing from Saudi Arabia?" "It seemed that we were being taken into a strategy more likely to make us the enemy - encouraging what could look like a 'clash of civilizations' - not a good strategy for winning the war on terror."

For nearly two years, Syria's been on the boil. Conflict shows no signs of ending. Washington's dirty hands prevent it. The latest Aleppo massacre reflects earlier ones. Western-recruited death squads bear full responsibility.

US secures drone base in Northwest Africa

Bill Van Auken

The X-47B Unmanned Combat Air System (UCAS) demonstrator runs on
the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman on Dec. 9, 2012.

The move to militarize Africa’s Sahel region is part and parcel of the Obama administration’s so-called “pivot” to Asia, based on a steady escalation of Washington’s confrontation with China.

Washington has secured an agreement with the government of Niger to establish a US military base in the Northwest African country, which borders Mali. The agreement comes in the midst of the French intervention in Mali, employing ground troops and warplanes.

The deal, first reported Monday by the New York Times, citing unnamed US officials, would clear the way for the Pentagon to set up a base for drone flights over the entire region. While US officials and the media have placed the base agreement in the context of the French war in Mali, it is evident that Washington had been negotiating with the Niger government well before the advance of Islamist militias toward southern Mali triggered the French intervention on January 11. It appears more the case that the recent Mali events have served as a pretext for an already planned US militarization of the region.

For several months there has been a drumbeat in the media and official circles about Africa being the “new front” in the war on terror, along with reports that AFRICOM (Africa Command), the US military command set up for operations in Africa, was seeking to establish bases on the continent and deploy for the first time a combat brigade on African soil. The deal reached with the Niger government is a status of forces agreement of the kind demanded by the Pentagon wherever US forces are deployed. It grants blanket immunity to American troops for any crimes committed in the country.

Holocaust Day Backfires

Gilad Atzmon

The UK Jewish Lobby is in a state of panic - the Holocaust Memorial Day boomerangs. If anything it turns the floodlight on the deeply problematic inclinations that are sadly inherent to Jewish political culture and collectivism.

Last weekend it became clear that in the light of the crimes that are committed by the Jewish State in the name of the Jewish People, many Brits find it somehow difficult to genuinely empathise with Jewish suffering. If anything, it is the other way around, more and more people expect the Jews and their State to become more empathic.

The day before Holocaust Memorial Day, MP David Ward expressed his dismay with the lack of Jewish empathy. He wrote on his blog:

“I am saddened that the Jews, who suffered unbelievable levels of persecution during the Holocaust, could within a few years of liberation from the death camps be inflicting atrocities on Palestinians in the new State of Israel and continue to do so on a daily basis in the West Bank and Gaza.”

MP Ward had to issue an immediate apology following some relentless pressure mounted by the ‘ non existent’ Jewish Lobby. In short, MP Ward and the British public were also privileged to examine the ‘imaginary’ Lobby performing one of its power pirouettes, bringing an elected British politician on his knees.

On Holocaust Memorial Day another shred of truth made it into The Times - a cartoon, by Gerald Scarfe, depicting Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu building a brick wall containing the blood and limbs of Palestinians, just as Britain was preparing itself to commemorate the Shoa.

The notorious ultra Zionist Board of Deputies of British Jews was outraged. It insisted that the cartoon was "shockingly reminiscent of the blood libel imagery more usually found in parts of the virulently anti-Semitic Arab press". Obviously it isn’t.

The cartoon doesn’t refer to ‘the Jews’ or ‘The Jew’, it actually points at a specific brutal person who happens to be a war criminal as well as the Israeli PM. Moreover, the cartoon depicts the true reality of the Palestinians.

Obama Prioritizes Targeted Killings

Stephen Lendman

On the Immorality of Drones and Need for Justice for Drone
: Legal Aid Forum for Human Rights Chitral (LAFH)
at a peace walk at Chitral, which included demands for an end
to drone strikes that were killing civilian adults and children.

A previous article said Obama decided who lives or dies. His kill list chooses targets. He designated himself judge, jury and executioner. He chose John Brennan as new CIA director. He's currently Deputy National Security Advisor for Homeland Security and Counterterrorism. He's Obama's chief counterterrorism advisor. He heads the administration's Murder, Inc. agenda. As CIA head, he'll do more than advise. He'll have direct control. Expect him to take full advantage.

Anyone can be targeted anywhere in the world. US citizens are vulnerable. They can be murdered for any reason or none at all. Drone wars are prioritized. They're becoming Washington's weapon of choice. They're instruments of state terror. They operate round-the-clock. They sanitize killing on the cheap. Teams of remote control warriors operate computer keyboards and multiple monitors. They target faceless enemies half a world away or nearby. Virtual war kills like sport. Escalated operations are planned. Rule of law principles and other disturbing issues aren't considered. Secrecy and accountability go unaddressed.

How television news creates the illusion of knowledge

Jon Rappoport

In analyzing network coverage of the Sandy Hook murders, I had no intention of doing a series of articles on television news, but the opportunity to deconstruct the overall grand illusion was compelling. A number of articles later, I want to discuss yet another sleight-of-hand trick. The myth of “coverage.”

It’s familiar to every viewer. Scott Pelley, in seamless fashion, might say, “Our top story tonight, the widening conflict in Syria. For the latest on the Assad government crackdown, our coverage begins with Clarissa Ward in Damascus…” .

Clarissa Ward has entered the country secretly, posing as a tourist. She carries a small camera. In interviews with rebels, she discovers that a) there is a conflict, b) people are being arrested c) there is a funeral for a person who was killed by government soldiers, d) defiance among the citizenry is growing. In other words, she tells us almost nothing.

But CBS is imparting the impression that her report is important. After all, it’s not just anchor Scott Pelley in the studio. It’s a journalist in the field, up close and personal. It’s coverage.

Here are a few of the many things we don’t learn from either Pelley or Ward. Who is behind the rebellion in Syria? What is their real goal? What covert role is the US playing? Why are there al Qaeda personnel there? But who cares?

We have coverage. A key hole view. It’s wonderful. It’s exciting for two minutes. If we’re already brainwashed.

The Greatest Speech by a Western Statesman This Century?

Laurent Louis
Translation: Geraldine Feuillien
(Complete Transcript PDF)

Laurent Louis wears a t-shirt "Free MLD" (his political party) in
the House after the raids that took place in his home on Thursday.

32 year old Belgian MP Laurent Louis's speech/video in the Belgian Parliament has been widely passed around but has not been seen by the tens of millions that need to hear these truths. This courageous man makes the stooges and weasels in our Congress look to be exactly what they are...traitors. Below is the translated transcript.

"Thank you, Mr President. Dear Ministers, dear Colleagues.

Belgium is indeed the land of surrealism.

This morning we learned from the media that the Belgian army is incapable of fighting some extremist soldiers having radical Islamist beliefs existing within its own ranks but who cannot be dismissed for lack of legal means.

However, at the same time, we decide to help France in its war against “Terror” by providing logistical support for its operation in Mali. What wouldn’t we do in order to fight against terrorism outside our borders? I just hope we took care not to send for this anti-terrorist operation, in Mali, these much talked about Belgian Islamists soldiers!

I seem to be joking, but what is going on in the world today does not make me laugh at all. It doesn’t make me laugh, because without any doubt, the leaders of our Western countries are taking the people for imbeciles with the help and support of the Media which are nothing more today than an organ of propaganda of the ruling powers.

Britain, US escalate war as France advances into northern Mali

Alex Lantier

The imperialist powers are escalating the war in Mali. Britain has pledged to deploy troops, and the US is planning a base for drone aircraft in the region, as French troops marched into the rebellious north of its former colony.

British authorities said they would deploy hundreds of troops, concentrating on training French-backed Malian government forces and providing “force protection” for the trainers. British Special Forces are already reportedly in Mali, working with the French. Britain has also sent C-17 transport aircraft to help France deploy troops to Mali.

The announcement came after talks Sunday between British Prime Minister David Cameron and French President François Hollande. A Downing Street spokesman said, “The prime minister made clear that we fully support the French government’s actions …. The prime minister went on to explain that we are keen to provide further assistance where we can, depending on what French requirements there may be.”

The United States is also extending military assistance to France, offering on Saturday to refuel French warplanes with US tanker airplanes after talks between US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and French Defense Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian. Many French fighter-bombers operate from bases in France, flying to Mali through Algerian air space and bombing targets in Mali. This places them on the outer edge of their operating radius, requiring refueling.

At the same time, Washington is in discussions with Niger and other neighboring countries of Mali to find a possible base for US drones. The US already deploys small manned surveillance planes from a base in the military side of the Ouagadougou airport in Burkina Faso. This is one of a series of informal bases tied to the US Africa Command (AFRICOM), whose only official base in Africa is a joint Franco-American base in the East African coastal city-state of Djibouti. US officials said that drones flying from Niger or Burkina Faso would monitor the flow of supplies and weapons from Libya across the Sahara to northern Mali.

They could also attack ground targets, extending the US war of remote-controlled assassination—currently waged in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and parts of the Arab Peninsula and East Africa—to the Sahel. The New York Times reported that Washington has “not ruled out conducting missile strikes at some point if the threat worsens.”

Will You Submit & Obey?

Eric Peters

In New York, we have a prequel of what’s to come – the repeal of the Second Amendment and summary criminalization of peaceful citizens merely for possessing the means of self-defense, even in their own homes. As in Great Britain, citizens of NY face prison if they use proscribed weapons against murderous thugs – even in their own homes. The tyrants Michael Bloomberg and Andrew Cuomo have made their decision. Now New Yorkers will have to make theirs. And so will the rest of us – if, as seems likely, the federal tyrants succeed in issuing a New York-style fatwa that applies to the rest of the country. Which brings us to the question: What will you do?

It is a very hard question. Perhaps the hardest question Americans have had to face since 1861. As then, there may be no peaceful way to preserve our rights. There may be blood. As then, one side is absolutely determined to impose its will at bayonet-point. To murder us in the thousands – perhaps millions, this time - if we refuse to submit.

There is no reasoning, no discussing. What we face is violence against our persons by people who absolutely will not leave us in peace – no matter how peaceful we try to be – until we have submitted to them utterly and for all time to come. We wish only to be left alone – and demand that our right to defend ourselves against those who will not leave us alone be respected. That self-defense is the most basic of rights – a right conceded even to the lowest animal. They do not acknowledge our rights; they despise the very notion of us having any rights at all. They regard their power over us as limitless in principle – and rage at even the smallest assertion of freedom of action. They loathe our guns because our ownership of guns is an expression of our determination to defend our very lives – and thus, of self-ownership. And that is what cannot be tolerated.

Tim Geithner's Legacy of Shame

Stephen Lendman

They gave away the store to Wall Street...

From January 26, 2009 - January 25, 2013, he was Obama's Treasury Secretary. He and Fed chairman Bernanke engineered crisis conditions. Bankers profited hugely. They still do. Ordinary people were scammed. Geithner's gone. His legacy speaks for itself. His background showed what to expect. He spent three years at Kissinger Associates.
From 1988 - 2002, he held various Treasury posts. He left to become Council on Foreign Relations international economics department senior fellow.
From 2001 - 2003, he was IMF Policy Development and Review director. He left to become New York Fed president.

He partnered with Treasury Secretary Hank Paulson and Bernanke. They planned the grandest of grand thefts. They implemented banker bailouts. They looted the federal treasury. They stuck taxpayers with the bill. They debased the currency. They transformed America into an unprecedented money making racket. As New York Federal Reserve Bank president/vice chairman of the Fed Open Market Committee (FOMC), Geithner helped engineer crisis conditions. As Treasury Secretary, he exacerbated them. He turned them into a protracted mainstream depression.

Aid starts to reach central Mali, displaced 'in distress'

Megan Rowling

Malians who have fled recent fighting in the central region of the West African country are arriving in towns without money, clothing or food, and in a condition of "utmost distress", the Red Cross said on Thursday.

The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the Mali Red Cross are distributing food, blankets, mosquito nets and other essential items to some 7,000 people -- those displaced by violence in the Diabali area and local families helping them -- in the towns of Niono, Kala Seguida and Mariko.

"These people are in the utmost distress," Abrao Cunga, an ICRC delegate in Mopti, said in a statement. "Most of them arrived without money, clothing or food, and they have no place to sleep. How to get food is one of their biggest worries." Some left on motorcycles, donkeys, in carts or even on foot, with one family of six arriving on a single motorbike, Cunga added.

A French-led military operation is underway in Mali [allegedly] to drive back Islamist fighters who launched a surprise push southward toward the capital Bamako two weeks ago. An African ground force is being deployed to support French and Malian troops. French and Malian forces have now taken control of several towns, including Diabali, Konna and Douentza.

Access has become difficult for aid workers amid increased insecurity and military restrictions, with some groups reducing or suspending their activities.

The Red Cross said its assessments show people have fled the fighting in and around Konna. There are almost 1,000 displaced people in Mopti and Sévaré, and some 5,000 further east, in the towns of Badiangara and Bankass - whom the Red Cross is preparing to help.

Intifada Activism Needed

Stephen Lendman

Six-five years of mass slaughter, destruction, dispossession, occupation, persecution, apartheid, and slow-motion genocide is enough. Freedom requires committed activism. Liberation depends on working for what Israel denies. The alternative is more of what's too intolerable to bear.

Bi'in's weekly peaceful anti-Separation Wall protest was attacked. Friday's was dedicated to Lubna Hanash. On Wednesday, Israeli forces murdered her in front of Al-Quds University. They did so in cold blood. She was a fourth year political science student. She was walking peacefully with friends. Israeli soldiers approached her in a civilian car. They shot and killed her. They'll have to explain why.

Lubna's death wasn't an isolated incident. It's reflects daily repression. Palestinians are systematically brutalized. Intimidation, injuries, arrests and deaths follow. Daily headlines reveal what Palestinians endure: IDF invades Jenin pre-dawn. Homes were stormed and ransacked. Two Palestinian youths were arrested. Nearby villages were targeted. Nonviolent Palestinians were kidnapped. Media scoundrels ignore what happens. It's part of Palestinians' daily life. Most people can't imagine what they endure. They can explain best of all.

Israel's Likely Coalition Partner Government Threatens Humanity

Stephen Lendman

Extremist Israel officials favor wealth, power, privilege and dominance. Tuesday's elections hardened fascism. Palestinians have the greatest cross to bear. Jews have their own. Humanity very much is threatened. Expect occupation harshness to be worse than ever. Palestinians are blamed for Israeli crimes. World leaders target them.

On January 20, Electronic Intifada contributor Amena Saleem said Britain's Foreign Office blames Gazans "for bringing suffering on themselves." Doing so exposed its "one-sided view."

Identical letters were sent the Palestine Solidarity Campaign and PSC members. They advocate for "peace & justice for Palestinians." They champion right over wrong. They support international rule of law principles. They deplore apartheid. They oppose all forms of racism.

Britain's Foreign Office turned truth on its head. It wasn't the first time. It blamed Palestinians for eight days of Israeli Pillar of Cloud mass murder. - It was premeditated naked aggression. Israel's hegemonic ambitions take precedence. Palestinian lives don't matter. Slow-motion genocide is official policy. It's been that way for decades.

Nature’s Capital Is The Limiting Resource

Paul Craig Roberts

"Life will perish as the environment perishes"
~ 21st century ecological economist

Only in science fiction can humans escape the consequences of destroying their own habitat. In Robert A. Heinlein’s Time Enough For Love, the “Great Diaspora of the Human Race” began “more than two millennia ago” and has spread to more than “two thousand colonized planets.” The once “lovely green planet” Earth is a slum planet barely able to support life where only the poorest live, Earth’s natural capital having been consumed over two thousand years ago. Humans have found the ability to rejuvenate themselves and to live almost endless lives, but they are unable to rejuvenate the planets whose natural capital they devour. Humans have not encountered “one race as mean, as nasty, as deadly as our own.” As homo sapiens use up the environments of colonized planets, “human intergalactic colony ships are already headed out into the Endless Deeps,” leaving their ruins behind them.

In his book, Collapse, University of California biogeography professor Jared Diamond describes the nonfictional past and present destruction of Earth’s natural capital. Surprisingly, Diamond begins his story of the self-destruction of Easter Island, Anasazi, and Maya civilizations with present-day Montana and ends with Australia. We think of these two lands as scenic, lightly populated, and largely untouched, but they have been brought to the brink of ruin. Diamond’s point is that modern scientific and technological man is no better at managing nature’s capital than previous societies.

Many associate ecological destruction with population pressure. However, the toxicity associated with mining, fracking, chemical fertilizer and GMO farming, and the adverse watershed effects of logging is turning even low density states such as Montana into an environment with ruined soil and water.

Canada to expand support for French imperialism’s war on Mali

Louis Girard and Keith Jones

Unbeknownst to the vast majority of the Canadian people, the Canadian government and armed forces are deeply implicated in the French invasion of Mali and in the growing imperialist intervention in West Africa of which it is part.

Knowing that there is no enthusiasm in the Canadian populace for the country’s participation in yet another imperialist war, the Conservative government of Stephen Harper has been at pains to present the role of Canada’s military in the war in Mali as limited and unexpected.

This is a subterfuge. Discussion in government circles of a Canadian role in an imperialist-orchestrated military intervention in Mali has been underway since at least last spring. Furthermore, Canadian special forces were providing training to Mali’s army for at least a year prior to a February 2012 military coup that was triggered by the loss of much of the country’s north to an ethnic Tuareg rebel army. A December 3, 2011 Postmedia report cites Brigadier-General Denis Thompson of Canadian Special Operations Forces Command as saying the “deployment of Canadian special ops to Mali is expected to be an ongoing mission, with small teams moving in and out of the country whenever it is determined that Malian forces need such training.”

Canada’s military has also developed an increasing presence in other states in the region, with the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) assisting in the training of African forces that are now being readied for combat in Mali.

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