Government military offensive in eastern Ukraine continues as US, NATO threaten Russia

Chris Marsden

The week-long “unilateral ceasefire” announced by Ukrainian president Petro Poroshenko is already being exposed as a fraud. Since it was declared operational Friday at 10 p.m. local time, Ukraine’s armed forces have continued what they describe as an “anti-terrorist” operation in eastern Ukraine against pro-Russian separatists opposed to the Kiev regime installed by the Western powers.

Poroshenko assumed power June 7 following a ballot in which only 54 percent of Ukrainians participated, with large parts of the east boycotting the election. He has advanced what he calls a 15-point peace plan, offering decentralisation of power, early elections, a 10-kilometre buffer zone on the Ukrainian-Russian border, and a supposed amnesty to separatists.

However, an Interior Ministry statement made clear that this was little more than an ultimatum to anti-Kiev forces to surrender. The statement declared: “This is being done to allow terrorists to lay down their arms. Those who do not do this will be destroyed.”

On Thursday, the day before the ceasefire was to begin, intense fighting occurred near Krasnyi Liman, east of Slavyansk. A government spokesman boasted that 200 rebels were killed and hundreds more wounded.

Igor Strelkov, commander of the Donbas People’s Militia, said his men were far outnumbered and outgunned and would probably retreat from their positions in the area. Appealing for aid from Russian President Vladimir Puttin, he said, “I hope that they have enough conscience left in Moscow to take some measures.”

On Saturday, Pavel Gubarev, the self-proclaimed governor of the Donetsk People’s Republic, said there was no ceasefire near Slavyansk. “There is shooting all the time, and this ceasefire that Poroshenko is talking about is just fake. The Ukrainian forces are either not under his control, or he is just a liar.”

Akhmetov and other oligarchs seek role as Ukraine’s policemen

Chris Marsden

Swedish politician Carl Bildt, a member of the Bilderberg group for 20
years plus (l), Ukranian steel and mining oligarch Rinat Akhmetov (c)
and Nomen Nescio (probably just as evil as the two we've mentioned).

The New York Times has led efforts to portray the setting up of patrols employing “steelworkers” and “miners” in the eastern Ukrainian city of Mariupol as proof of a rising wave of opposition to all those presently engaged in conflict with the Kiev regime and its thugs.

In its front-page lead article Friday, the Times described the move as “a body blow,” asserting that “the pro-Russian protesters have melted away, as has any sign of the Donetsk People’s Republic or its representatives.”

The Times claimed that by late Thursday, “miners and steelworkers had deployed in at least five cities, including the regional capital, Donetsk.” But the Wall Street Journal reported patrols being mounted in only “four smaller towns” where the steel and mining oligarch Rinat Akhmetov’s company owns facilities, and cited a spokesman stating that “it wasn’t clear yet whether similar patrols could be introduced in Donetsk….”

Once again, the New York Times —the so-called “newspaper of record”—has distinguished itself only as a useful conduit for the crudest propaganda in the service of US imperialism. In reality, the launching of the patrols has nothing to do with a movement in the working class. Along with their promotion by the Times and other sources, the patrols are part of a concerted effort by the United States and Germany to stifle resistance to Kiev’s coup regime and ensure that presidential elections planned for May 25 go ahead.

To this end, the Western powers are seeking to use the wealth and influence of Ukraine’s oligarchs to bring things under control. The various reports citing a number of patrols, made up of six workers and two police officers, as having taken control of Mariupol all acknowledge that those involved are employees of Akhmetov, Ukraine’s richest man, with a fortune estimated at $11.8 billion. It is Akhmetov who is behind the patrols, and there is no doubt that he acted in consultation with the Western powers.

US, Europe issue further threats over self-rule referenda in eastern Ukraine

Chris Marsden

Members of a local election commission empty a ballot box as
they start counting votes from a referendum on the status of
Donetsk region, in Donetsk, May 11, 2014.
(Photo: Reuters)

Pro-Russian separatists in Ukraine’s two eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk have declared a victory for “self-rule” in referenda held yesterday. The votes took place in the face of condemnation by the regime in Kiev and its Western backers and an appeal for the referenda to be postponed by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The reign of terror unleashed by Kiev with the full support of Washington, Berlin and Brussels against anti-government protesters in the east continued on Sunday. Dozens of members of Kiev’s National Guard, recruited largely from neo-Nazis aligned with the Right Sector and the Svoboda party, forcibly shut down voting in the town of Krasnoarmeisk and fired on a crowd outside the town hall, killing a number of unarmed civilians.

The referendum papers asked in both Ukrainian and Russian: “Do you support the act of state self-rule of the Donetsk People’s Republic/Luhansk People’s Republic?

There were 3.2 million ballots printed, less than half the seven million people living in the two provinces. But long queues formed from the early hours, reportedly registering overwhelming support.

The NSA spy scandal and the attack on press freedom

Chris Marsden

Recently released police documents on the August 18 arrest and questioning at London’s Heathrow airport of David Miranda, the domestic partner of journalist Glenn Greenwald, are a serious warning on the advanced stage of the decay of democracy in Britain and internationally.

They show that Miranda was held on blatantly trumped up terrorism charges, aiming to block reporting on the NSA spying scandal. While British, US, and European intelligence agencies have developed the mass electronic spying apparatus of a police state—as Greenwald and whistleblower Edward Snowden have revealed—the internal security forces have developed the legal and police apparatus of an authoritarian regime.

A document from the Metropolitan Police HQ at Scotland Yard, released as a result of a court action taken out by Miranda, states: “Intelligence indicates that Miranda is likely to be involved in espionage activity which has the potential to act against the interests of UK national security... Additionally the disclosure, or threat of disclosure, is designed to influence a government and is made for the purpose of promoting a political or ideological cause. This therefore falls within the definition of terrorism.”

Such remarks could easily be made by officials of any police-state dictatorship. Under such a broad definition, virtually any genuine reporting on the conduct of the state—which could embarrass or expose criminal behavior by state officials, and is written with distrust towards them—can be pursued as terrorism.

Guardian faces parliamentary investigation over Snowden revelations

Chris Marsden

[The] implications for democratic rights are chilling

Britain’s Guardian newspaper is facing an investigation by at least one parliamentary committee, in line with demands made by Prime Minister David Cameron, concerning the exposures of Edward Snowden, the whistleblower from America’s National Security Agency (NSA).

Accompanied with calls for criminal prosecutions and assertions of the newspaper’s having compromised national security, the move is a major escalation in the witch-hunt and clampdown launched in response to Snowden’s revelations of mass surveillance programmes operated by the NSA and Britain’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ). On Wednesday, Cameron told parliament,

“I think the plain fact is that what has happened has damaged national security, and in many ways the Guardian themselves admitted that when they agreed, when asked politely by my national security adviser and Cabinet Secretary [Sir Jeremy Heywood] to destroy the files they had, they went ahead and destroyed those files. “So they know that what they are dealing with is dangerous for national security.”

The prime minister supported calls for a full parliamentary inquiry to determine whether the Guardian broke the law by printing Snowden’s revelations. Cameron’s claim is as barefaced a lie as it is a reactionary move.

The Woolwich killing and the responsibility of Britain’s ruling elite

Chris Marsden

Michael Adebolajo, who used a meat cleaver to hack the head off
Lee Rigby, had been approached by agents of Security Service
(MI5), a British intelligence agency, but reportedly refused to join,
his friend Abu Nusaybah told the BBC. Minutes after the interview,
Nusaybah himself was arrested.
(iTV News/New Daily News)

The killing of soldier Lee Rigby in Woolwich, London has lifted a corner of the carefully constructed veil of lies, intrigue and criminality surrounding British foreign policy.

Immediately after Rigby’s brutal murder, a chorus of political and media figures insisted that this was not the occasion for questioning the motives of his killers, Michael Adebolajo and Michael Adebowale.

Labour MP David Lammy described “the suggestion that the murder was a direct consequence of British foreign policy” as “superficially compelling,” including criticism of “my vote in favour of the invasion of Iraq.”

The Guardian’s Jonathan Freedland attacked “liberal and left” figures for identifying a connection between events in London and the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Syria for having “some sneaking sympathy, not for the act itself, but for the cause it seeks to highlight.”

Preventing discussion of the circumstances leading to the horrific crime of Adebolajo and Adebowale serves only to conceal the still-greater crimes perpetrated by Britain’s ruling elite.

Within a matter of days, it was clear that both alleged killers had been known to MI5 for years, for a decade in Adebolajo’s case. He was affiliated to the banned Islamist group Al-Mahajiroun. In November 2010, he was detained in Kenya while trying to travel to Somalia, allegedly to join the Islamist group Al-Shabaab.

Thatcher’s funeral: Pomp in the service of political reaction

Julie Hyland & Chris Marsden

Adjectives to describe yesterday’s funeral of former Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher are not hard to find: nauseating, obscene, provocative.

She was, after all, the most hated political figure in recent British history—an admirer of the Pinochet dictatorship in Chile and the racist apartheid regime in South Africa, who wrought destruction on working class communities throughout the UK.

Thatcher was given a state funeral in all but name, so that there could be no scrutiny of its total costs, estimated at £10 million—the most expensive ever staged.

The ceremony was so militaristic that some compared the scene in London, with armed police stationed every few hundred yards, to a coup. Her coffin set off from St. Clement Danes, the Central Church of the Royal Air Force and site of the statute to “Bomber” Harris—the architect of the fire-bombing of German cities in the Second World War. Mounted on a horse-drawn gun-carriage, draped in the union flag, it was accompanied by 700 armed forces personnel to St. Paul’s Cathedral.

There was more of the political sycophancy demonstrated in the specially recalled parliament last week, with Big Ben silenced for the duration of the funeral and parliament suspended to allow MPs to attend.

The Queen was present for the first time at the funeral of a former prime minister since Winston Churchill’s in 1965. Unlike then, however, Thatcher will not lay in state, precisely because she is so widely despised.

Thatcher’s legacy

Julie Hyland & Chris Marsden

Margaret Thatcher with mass murderer Augusto Pinochet

Margaret Thatcher, the friend of Chile’s fascist dictator General Augusto Pinochet and supporter of the apartheid system of racial discrimination in South Africa, has died of a stroke at the age of 87.

Neither the media’s eulogies to Thatcher as a great stateswoman, nor the staging of a day of national mourning complete with military honours, can conceal the fact that she died arguably the most hated figure in British politics.

[Ordinary people] will have greeted the announcement of her demise with cold indifference, contempt, and, in some cases, celebration. Impromptu street parties were underway in several cities within hours of her death.

Comparisons have been made repeatedly between Thatcher and Winston Churchill. They are inappropriate. A right-wing defender of British imperialism, not even Churchill’s opponents would deny his obvious political stature. At a time of acute crisis, he was able to invoke history and make an appeal to social layers far beyond his natural constituency in the ruling elite. In contrast there is not a single intelligent remark that can be cited as coming from Thatcher, only inane sound-bites tailored to a supportive press such as “The lady’s not for turning.”

Margaret Hilda Roberts embodied everything that is narrow-minded and philistine in the English middle class. She was preoccupied solely with self-advancement and enrichment, owing much of her success to having secured a rich husband. Her political talents, such as they were, consisted of the nasty cunning and ruthlessness of the social climber.

UK Prime Minister Cameron stokes fires of war against North Korea

Chris Marsden

"Inspection"...PM David Cameron checks out Trident nuclear sub.

Hitler’s propaganda chief Joseph Goebbels, who knew a great deal about such techniques himself, once remarked,

“The English follow the principle that when one lies, one should lie big, and stick to it. They keep up their lies, even at the risk of looking ridiculous.”

Prime Minister David Cameron is intent on continuing such practices. He chose an April 4 visit to Scotland to claim that it is a “fact” that North Korea has the technology to attack both the United States and the United Kingdom with a nuclear missile.

“How concerned am I about North Korea? Very concerned, it has extremely dangerous technologies in terms of nuclear and its weapons… The fact is, as I wrote in a newspaper article this morning, North Korea does now have missile technology that is able to reach, as they put it, the whole of the United States and if they’re able to reach the whole of the United States they can reach Europe too. They can reach us too, so that is a real concern.”

The claim is a flat-out lie, as many authoritative voices have pointed out. James Hardy, Asia Pacific Editor of Jane’s Defence Weekly, commented,

“From what we know of its existing inventory, North Korea has short and medium range missiles that could complicate a situation on the Korean Peninsula (and perhaps reach Japan), but we have not seen any evidence that it has long-range missiles that could strike the continental US, Guam or Hawaii.”

European Union imposes bank bailout on Cyprus

Jordan Shilton & Chris Marsden

EU officials insist on installing an economic dictatorship over the Cypriot economy.

The Cypriot government and the European Union (EU) arrived at an agreement early yesterday morning to secure a bailout of Cypriot banks and avert state bankruptcy in Cyprus.

The terms set by the bailout amount to the economic devastation of the island country in the interests of Europe’s financial elite. Cyprus’s financial sector, accounting for around half of economic output, will immediately be reduced by up to half. Laiki bank, the second largest, is to be wound up with its debts to the ECB taken on by the Bank of Cyprus. Further losses are inevitable, as banking done in Cyprus is shifted to other euro zone countries’ banks.

The dictates of the EU and the criminal financial practices of Cyprus’s ruling elite alike have paved the way for massive attacks on working people. With unemployment at more than 14 percent, there will inevitably be thousands of job losses in banking, Cyprus’s main employer, and from restructured companies and privatised services.

The bailout, which is massively opposed by the Cypriot population, is to be imposed without a vote in the Cypriot parliament. To this end, the original proposal to impose a levy on bank deposits, which had been rejected by the Cypriot parliament, was removed from the final agreement. The new plan provides for the freezing of all deposits over €100,000 to cover the bailout. Depositors and shareholders in Laiki will see their assets transferred to a “bad bank” and could lose everything.

These measures, together with a privatisation programme and tax increases, are projected to raise the €7 billion Cyprus has been ask to contribute to the €17 billion bailout from the EU, ECB and International Monetary Fund.

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