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Delays and More Costs for Plant Vogtle Nuclear Expansion

By Sonal Patel – Power – June 26, 2014

In-service dates for two nuclear units under construction at Plant Vogtle in Georgia have been moved out to December 2017 and December 2018, and the total project cost is now estimated at $6.76 billion—$650 million more than the certified cost—staff from Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) reported this week.

Steven Roetger and GDS Associates consultant William Jacobs, who testified on behalf of the PSC’s public interest advocacy staff on June 20 cited the 9th/10th Vogtle Construction Monitoring Report—which is yet to be made public—when they reported that companies building the project are behind on scheduled milestones.

The consortium building the project had originally projected the first of the two new reactors would be operational in April 2016.

Developers continue to be in litigation with the contractors Westinghouse and Chicago Bridge and Iron per an engineering, procurement, and construction agreement to determine which party is responsible for certain delays in the project schedule. Delays posed several risks, including mounting capital and financing costs, and replacement fuel costs, Roetger and Jacobs told the regulatory commission.

Much progress had been accomplished on the Unit 3 and Unit 4 nuclear islands last year, the staff members noted. But, “The engineering completion schedule identified that hundreds of activities were pushed out past the construction need date due to late engineering which delayed necessary procurement,” they said. “This in turn pushed out the start and end dates of some construction activities.”

Further delays are likely because some components for the AP1000 units have never been built before. The shield building, for example, is a first-of-a-kind design, fabricate, and assemble activity, and the design of the fully digital control system is also a first-of-a-kind activity, staff said. Schedule risks include technical difficulties with development of other key pieces of equipment as well, including the canned rotor coolant pumps, and the squib valves. Meanwhile, startup testing and resolution of problems identified during startup “will take longer than presently planned,” Roetger and Jacobs projected.

Southern Co. this week told the commission in its own monthly report that its “uncompromising focus continues to be on quality and safety of the project as decisions are made concerning schedule and cost.”

Construction of the two AP1000 reactors, each about 1.1 GW, was approved by the Georgia PSC in 2009. Southern Co. subsidiary Georgia Power, which owns 45.7% of the project with three other entities, received a combined construction and operating license from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission in February 2012. The Department of Energy finalized a $6.5 billion loan guarantee in February 2014 for two of Vogtle’s owners: Georgia Power and Oglethorpe Power Corp. The DOE is working on the remaining $1.8 billion for the expansion project’s third owner, Municipal Electric Authority of Georgia. … Full article

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Nuclear Power | , | 1 Comment

Israel threatens to “eradicate” Hamas after missing settlers found dead

Al-Akhbar | June 30, 2014

Israel on Monday confirmed finding the bodies of three settlers who disappeared in the occupied southern West Bank on June 12, blaming Hamas for their kidnapping and murder despite showing any evidence that the Islamist movement was behind it.

“During the search for Eyal Ifrach, Gilad Shaer and Naftali Frankel, the IDF discovered 3 bodies near Hebron,” the Israeli army said in a statement on Twitter.

It was not immediately clear how they died.

Deputy defense minister Danny Danon also confirmed their bodies had been discovered, saying they had been murdered by “Hamas terrorists” and calling for a widespread operation to “eradicate” the Islamist movement.

Public radio said the bodies were discovered in a field near Halhul, a town north of Hebron, about 10 minutes from the roadside in the southern West Bank where they were last seen.

The Ynet news website said the bodies were found by soldiers and civilian volunteers.

Shortly before the news was made public, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin called an urgent meeting of his security cabinet from 9:30 pm (1830 GMT) with ministers expected to take “operative” decisions, public radio said.

Earlier in the evening, Israeli troops could be seen carrying out widespread searches in the Halhul area which is some five kilometers (three miles) north of Hebron, an AFP correspondent said.

“We will not stop until Hamas is completely defeated,” Danon said.

“The homes of the terrorists must be demolished and their arms caches destroyed.

“Our mission will not be complete until all the terror organizations are deterred from attacking Israelis and understand once and for all that the people of Israel will not be threatened,” he said.

Israeli occupation forces have killed five Palestinians in the West Bank since the settlers went missing. Another two elderly Palestinians died of heart attacks during raids on their homes.

Hundreds of others, mostly youths, had been rounded up and jailed since the search began without any evidence of involvement in the disappearance of the three from an illegal settlement.

(AFP, Al-Akhbar)

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism | , , , | Leave a comment

Swimming bear video used to promote climate change threat to polar bears

Dr. Susan J. Crockford | Polar Bear Science | June 25, 2014

A video being hyped around the internet – “Witness a polar bear’s heartbreaking swim for ice in the Arctic” said one headline – is simply shameless propaganda, facilitated by the US Geological Survey and its polar bear biologists. USGS scientists involved in this work should be ashamed of themselves.

The caption for the Youtube video (published Jun 21, 2014) says this:

Take a swim with a polar bear family as they traverse the Arctic Ocean in search of sea ice.

This is a load of nonsense and a total misrepresentation of the facts.

In addition, the text added to the video is pure propaganda: it is being used to promote the US government position that sea ice loss due to climate change is a massive threat to polar bears. Unfortunately, recent studies contradict the contention that polar bears have already been harmed by declines in summer sea ice.

Here are some background to the video you should be aware of:

1) The bears were swimming away from the USGS researchers and film crew who had shot them full of sedatives and attached a camera to one of their necks — they were not swimming toward sea ice 100 miles away.

2) The video was shot in the Bering Sea, in April 2014, when sea ice was about its maximum extent of the year — there was lots of ice around when this video was filmed.

3) The company doing the filming is using this video as a fundraiser.

Details below, including a sea ice map for April 2014.

UPDATE  Below

Andy Revkin at the New York Times DotEarth blog promotes it as something spectacular (as he did a couple of weeks ago with an earlier offering from the same team, June 10), admitted in the comments section in response to someone who said it looked like these bears were being harassed by a boat:

“The cameras are on bears that were sedated (which counts as a kind of harassment, yes, but is part of a broader research project; see the earlier post linked from this one).”

Sea ice map for April (average extent for the month, label added), courtesy NSIDC Click it to enlarge.

Sea ice extent 2014 April average Bering Sea

The youtube video includes a link to the Arctic Exploration Fund of filmmaker Adam Ravetch’s Arctic Bear Productions company.

“To learn more about the Arctic Exploration Fund visit:
http://www.arcticbearproductions.com”

Here is the stated mandate of Ravetch’s NGO:

“Arctic Exploration Fund, AEF, is a non profit 501c 3 whose mission is to arm wild animals around the world, with groundbreaking new cameras, who go out and gather multiple hours of footage of their own lives, which we track using on-board satellite GPS, and together create a brand new natural history archive filmed entirely by the animals themselves.”

Nothing there about deliberately misrepresenting the facts shown in the film footage and using the video for propaganda purposes.

Finally, shame on the USGS: its work in the Bering and Beaufort Seas is being promoted as scientific polar bear research (like collecting blood samples), yet the real products being generated are propaganda videos.

UPDATE:

Swimming bear video used for propaganda was not shot with bear-mounted cameras

Dr. Susan J. Crockford | Polar Bear Science | June 27, 2014

pbear_swimming_USGSI just went back to Andy Revkin’s blog post on the swimming polar bear video story that I wrote about on Wednesday to see what kind of feedback it was getting. I found that it pays to check up.

A reader from Oregon questioned the filming techniques used for this video.

Revkin followed up.

And it turned out, the reader from Oregon was correct — the film used in this video was shot with “an assortment of traditional methods,not with the strapped on cameras that the USGS were using on the bears.

Revkin assumed from the background provided to him that this was leading-edge technology, bear-generated video. And even though he’d interviewed the filmmaker, the truth hadn’t come out.

Update June 29, 2014 – another damning comment made, added below.

Read the exchange below from Revkin’s blog:

David Cothran  Ashland OR Yesterday

Andrew,
I have spent quite a bit of time observing polar bears during the course of 12 summer seasons working as a guide and photographer in Svalbard. In my view, the bears in this footage often appear quite stressed, swimming rapidly away from the camera, turning to look behind and even diving briefly. I think that it is quite unlikely that all, or even most of this video was shot from cameras mounted on bears. As another commenter said, it very much appears that the bears are fleeing from a boat. I would like to hear from Ravetch’s team and other wildlife film makers about this question. It certainly appears to me that the majority of the footage was shot with pole-mounted cameras.

Stressing bears by chasing them, particularly when they are swimming, is illegal in many parts of their range and certainly unethical anywhere. I have great respect for your blog and the careful attention you give to complex issues; I hope that you will look further into this. Film makers working with politically charged species like polar bears must be very careful that their methods are unassailable.

David

Andrew Revkin
undefined 20 hours ago

I sent your note to Ravetch and he clarified that this footage was not shot with the new strapped-on cameras, as you suspected.

He included this note: “That footage was not taken with strapped on cameras and was documented with an assortment of traditional techniques. Aerial, pole cam, and more traditional filming techniques…. I operate with the greatest respect for animals when I am around them for brief periods of time.” [SJC bold]

Thanks for offering your valuable insight. (I also fixed the photo caption to avoid confusion.)

Kudos to Revkin for not dismissing the comment and for following through.

[See the video here]

This video was strictly propaganda from the get-go. The new-fangled camera technology Ravetch’s company and USGS polar bear biologists had been experimenting with was not used at all in the filming of this video.

Update June 29 – comment left today by Kelsey Eliasson

Kelsey Eliasson, Churchill 13 hours ago

I work as a polar bear guide in Churchill. These images looks like they came from Hudson Bay, likely near Southampton Island, when Ravetch was filming there in the summer of 2012, I believe. I have seen raw footage of this event and the bear is so stressed that at one point, it actually tries to climb into the boat after being followed for a considerable amount of time. Beautiful shot though.

So, this seems like it is not USGS, not in the Beaufort Sea and filmed in the summer. If I am wrong, I apologize, however, the similarities in the footage are striking.

The Arctic Exploration Fund actually seems like it is just raising money for documentary projects not actual research – wish I had thought of that.

It is very unfortunate that management decisions are being based on fictional portrayals of polar bear habitat and behaviour. The bears are the ones that will suffer in the long run.

Kels

* Dr. Susan J. Crockford is a zoologist with more than 35 years experience, including work on the Holocene history of Arctic animals. Like polar bear biologist Ian Stirling, Susan Crockford earned her undergraduate degree in zoology at the University of British Columbia. She is currently an adjunct professor at the University of Victoria, B.C. Polar bear evolution is one of Dr. Crockford’s professional interests, which she discusses in her book, Rhythms of Life: Thyroid Hormone and the Origin of Species.

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Environmentalism, Science and Pseudo-Science | Leave a comment

Francis Fukuyama to the Box

By Patrick Foy | CounterPunch | June 30, 2014

On Wednesday, June 25th, the Financial Times published an essay by Francis Fukuyama. He is the famed US political scientist, a “neoconservative” apostate and author of The End of History and the Last Man in 1992. The title of his op-ed is “ISIS risks distracting US from more menacing foes”. I first read it in the middle of the night on my “smartphone” and found it confusing. What was the writer getting at? I did not notice the byline. Then I did, and was less confused. Fukuyama is conflicted and his ideas are sometimes contradictory. So you factor that in. No problem. He has had a checkered past, but haven’t we all?

Fukuyama started out as a “neoconservative” during the Reagan Presidency, working alongside such disturbing characters as Paul Wolfowitz and I. Scooter Libby, who were later to become famous, wild-eyed propagandists in the G.W. Bush Administration, aka the Cheney Regency. In the aftermath of 9/11, Fukuyama–like all true blue Neocons and “liberal interventionists”–promoted the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq on bogus grounds. The purported aim was to depose Saddam Hussein and install “democracy” in his place.

You may recall that Iraq had nothing to do with the 9/11 terrorist attacks and possessed no WMD at the time of those attacks. There were no al-Qaeda, no terrorism, and no terrorists inside Iraq prior to “Operation Iraqi Freedom”. Later, when the occupational phase of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” became an instant fiasco–and the whole rotten enterprise was revealed to be a scam based upon breathtaking lies emanating from the very top–Fukuyama broke with his fellow Neocons. He became a critic of the Regency and the Neocons, and has since then taken a more nuanced approach to world affairs.

Although he no longer communicates with Dr. Paul “Mass Destruction” Wolfowitz, Fukuyama was on the steering committee of the legal defense fund for I. Scooter Libby, Dick Cheney’s chief of staff and top “national security” adviser, when Libby got mixed up in the Regent’s campaign to smear Ambassador Joseph Wilson, the husband of CIA agent Valerie Plame whose undercover assignment was WMD. Wilson had the temerity to point out in a July 2003 New York Times op-ed that Iraq had not, in fact, imported “yellow cake” uranium from Niger to build an A-bomb. Ergo, there was no mushroom cloud on the horizon. Ergo, Dick Cheney’s biggest WMD whopper was clarified and exposed to the light of day. At that point Fukuyama must have figured that his friend Libby, the factotum, was falling on his sword for his all-powerful boss, and deserved a break.

Like most big-picture essays, especially those aimed at the general public, Fukuyama’s present effort in the FT is predicated upon hallowed and widely accepted assumptions about American history and America’s place in the world. Many of these assumptions are dubious, fictive and, in some cases, ridiculous. Accordingly, Fukuyama’s conclusions are necessarily suspect. Since he is a savant, he should know better. Perhaps he does know better, but has not the time nor the inclination to correct the authorized version of history and current events. It might upset certain people or further confuse them. Better to embrace the received, conventional wisdom, and use it whenever possible to advance one’s own ideas.

Fukuyama’s first mistake, in my view, is taking the foreign policy pronouncements of Barack Obama seriously, at face value, and worthy of analysis. Certainly at this stage, it does not matter what Obama says. In truth, it never has. Yes, I realize that Obama presides over the lone surviving superpower, but this outlandish circumstance by itself is a red flag and requires that all issues relating to US foreign policy be considered with a jaundiced eye. White House credibility in world affairs is shot, and has been shot for decades. Dishonesty and wholesale deception did not start with Barack Obama. He has simply continued the trend, and taken it to the next level, like G.W. Bush and Bill Clinton did before him.

What the current occupant of the White House brings to the table is salesmanship and fantasies. Obama is a master at speaking out of both sides of his mouth. Whatever sounds good, go with it. He’s a talker. I recall in particular his 2008 US presidential campaign sortie through Israel and Europe, and especially his enraptured, grandiose speech at Tiergarten Park Berlin on July 24th of that year. That speech boils down to flapdoodle, and its messianic quality is all the more remarkable, because Obama was still a private citizen. The day before, his idealism ran in a different direction. He was shamelessly pandering to Ariel Sharon’s successor, PM Ehud Olmert, in Tel Aviv, while giving the Palestinians short shrift and the shaft. John McCain had performed a similar routine four months previously.

In the article in question, Fukuyama critiques Obama’s recent commencement address at West Point on May 28th. The White House hyped it as a major foreign policy speech. It fell flat with Fukuyama. He calls Obama’s approach “wrong-headed”. Too much concern about terrorism and the Middle East and not enough focus on the authentic “menacing foes”–Russia and China. He states, “The extremism of ISIS will in the end prove self-defeating. By contrast, allies the US is sworn to defend are now threatened by industrialized nations with sophisticated militaries.” Say what?!

Fukuyama appears to imply that America needs real enemies to confront, not phantoms. Yet it was a phantom threat that he and his cohorts were hot to confront when it came to Saddam Hussein. The blowback from that misadventure is incalculable. Fukuyama goes on to conclude, “The poles established by the neoconservatives on the one hand and isolationists on the other present false choices. Real strategy always has to lie somewhere in between.” In sum, Fukuyama does not want Washington to get sidetracked. Hmm. May I humbly suggest that the US has been hopelessly sidetracked for at least a century.

Fukuyama begins by paying homage to World War II, which global bloodbath remains the primary justification for all US foreign policy initiatives since 1945. It is the holy grail for the Neocons, along with their flamboyant hero, Winston Churchill. It is key to the modern-day, bipartisan attitude of American exceptionalism. Colonel Andrew Bacevich makes the central importance of the Second World War clear in a recent fascinating interview with Bill Moyers.

Bacevich, author of The Limits of Power, does not fault America’s entry and success in the Second World War, but he does deplore the use to which it has been put to empower a host of ill-advised US foreign policy adventures in the aftermath. My problem, on the other hand, is with the Second World War itself and with its progenitor, the Great War of 1914-18. If we accept them as sacrosanct, legitimate undertakings by Washington, then we lend credence to the myth of American exceptionalism, which has turned out to be a dangerous, self-destructive idea.

Consider an alternative narrative in which America’s entry into both world wars was unnecessary, ill-advised, and brought about by chicanery in service to a private agenda. The idea of American exceptionalism began with Woodrow Wilson, not with creepy neoconservative ideologues. Wilson ran for a second term in 1916 on the slogan, “He kept us out of war!” Yet, Wilson appears to have already decided to join England on the western front in France. Washington’s official neutrality was a sham from the start. Secretary of State William Jennings Bryan resigned in protest to Wilson’s hypocrisy in June 1915.

In the background, English propaganda was beating the drums to drag America into the war. America’s official entry into the Great War in April 1917 meant that the British Empire was saved from near-certain defeat at the hands of the German army and the Central Powers. It meant the rise of fascism and the success of communism in Russia. It meant the breakup of the Ottoman Empire in the Middle East and the execution of the Balfour Declaration in Palestine. It meant, inevitably, a second European conflict on a grander scale, caused by the injustices of the first conflict, as embodied in the Paris peace treaty. In short, it was a ghastly blunder.

Did Wilson make the right decision? In hindsight, absolutely not. He deceived the American people in 1916, and was then taken to the cleaners by Lloyd George and Georges Clemenceau at the Paris peace conference in 1919. He then suffered a nervous breakdown, then a stroke, and died a broken man. Did Franklin Roosevelt act wisely when he hectored England, France and Poland in the summer of 1939 not to negotiate with Germany over Danzig, thereby assuring the outbreak of a European war? Probably not. He acted recklessly. Did Roosevelt do the right thing by provoking the Empire of Japan to attack US armed forces in the Pacific in 1941 so that he could jump into the war in Europe, a war he felt responsible for instigating behind the scenes? Again, no.  His conduct can easily be regarded as treason. It was certainly deceitful.

We can’t unwind history, of course, but we can see its consequences, set the record straight, and not live in a dream world. Contrary to what you may have learned in school, these were not unselfish wars to make the world safe for democracy. That was a cover story. These were wars for economic advantage on the part of Washington and London, and were fought to maintain the prestige of the near-bankrupt British Empire–and then replace it with the American empire. They were at variance with the dictum delivered by Secretary of State John Quincy Adams in 1821 that America, “… goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.”

Fukuyama assumes, instead, that both global wars of the twentieth century were non-fraudulent and for a good cause, on which foundation Washington has built a better world. This is the conventional view. He believes the struggle to improve humanity should continue in the aftermath of the Cold War. He takes it for granted that the US is entitled–as the indispensable and exceptional nation–to intervene everywhere on earth at its discretion, and has a responsibility plus the resources to do so. To imagine otherwise is isolationism. This vagary constitutes in large measure the mindset of Washington’s foreign policy establishment. It is delusional and grounded in hubris.

Overlaying this Wilsonian mistake is the self-evident, post Cold War fact that Washington–the White House, the Senate, the Congress and both political parties–have, for all intents and purposes, been hijacked by agents of the Israel Lobby, to wit, the Neocons and their “liberal interventionist” fellow travelers. It is a perfect storm. We are witnessing the bloody results today in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and the Ukraine. The fake nuclear crisis with Iran is another dangerous byproduct. Humanity has not profited thereby. Now Fukuyama proposes what amounts to a new crusade against Russia and China, leaving the “war on terror” behind. Alas, he appears not to be joking.

PATRICK FOY is an essayist and short story writer. He graduated from Columbia University, where he studied English literature, European history and American diplomatic history. His work can be found at www.PatrickFoyDossier.com.

Copyright 2014 Patrick Foy.

 

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Palestinian-American activist held without charges in Jordan

Amer Jubran Defense Campaign | June 29, 2014

We received word this weekend that Amer Jubran was finally granted a visit by family at the General Intelligence Directorate detention facility near Amman, Jordan this past Friday–seven weeks after he was arrested. He appeared to be in good health and his spirit remains strong.

While this news comes as a relief, we are gravely concerned that Amer continues to be detained without charges, in violation both of Jordanian law and of international standards of human rights.

Amer’s detention is a political silencing. It is taking place in the context of new “anti-terrorism” legislation passed in Jordan on June 1, 2014 that criminalizes new categories of speech. According to the human rights organization Alkarama:

“Criticizing or caricaturing a foreign leader, or more generally a policy of a third country, also falls under the definition of terrorism. Thus, any person that has ‘disturbed relations with a foreign country’ can be prosecuted. … More importantly, if an act is qualified as an act of terrorism, authorities can then bring perpetrators of the real or supposed violations, before the State Security Court, an extraordinary jurisdiction. This court lacks independence as it is directly linked to the executive branch, and its members, including one military, are appointed by the Prime Minister.”

Such legislation is designed to protect the interests of US and Israeli political domination, and not the interests of the people of Jordan and the surrounding Arab region.

The Case of Amer Jubran

freeamerAmer is a Palestinian political activist who opposed the warmaking policies of the United States and Israel during his 18 year residence in the United States. Shortly after September 2001 he was harassed by US  authorities, detained, and finally pushed out of the country. He returned to Jordan, his first country of exile, in 2004. This latest arrest is a continuation of the political repression Amer experienced in the United States.

We do not know if Israel or the US ordered Amer’s arrest, but it is clear that his detention is aimed at silencing a strong voice of dissent against their policies.

We call on all supporters to remain committed to the campaign to win Amer’s freedom. We will be sending out more information soon about next steps.

defensecampaign@openmailbox.org

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism, Subjugation - Torture | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Cameraman for Russia’s top broadcaster killed in E. Ukraine

RT | June 29, 2014

A cameraman for Russia’s Channel One TV station died from injuries after being shot by Kiev troops in the eastern Ukrainian city of Donetsk, said the broadcaster’s press service.

“Our colleague Anatoly Klyan died tonight… he was fatally wounded in the stomach. He was 68-years-old,” Channel One said on air.

Klyan, along with a few other journalists, boarded a bus full of women – mostly mothers – who were traveling to a military base in Donetsk to demand that their sons be dismissed from the unit and allowed to go home, Kulbatskaya added.

When the bus reached its destination, shots were fired from the base and that is when the cameraman was injured.

russian-cameraman-last-video.siKlyan died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital, DNR’s First Deputy Prime Minister Andrey Purgin told RIA Novosti, adding that the driver of the bus was wounded in the neck and is currently in hospital.

A crew from Channel One confirmed to RT’s Maria Finoshina – currently in Lugansk – that Klyan was, in fact, shot and killed.

“We have been able to speak with these journalists and they called their colleagues in Donetsk and this information is now confirmed,” Finoshina said.

She described the victim filming with his crew at one of the military bases in Donetsk when the shooting took place.

“We know the journalists finished their work and they were smoking cigarettes at the moment when suddenly shooting started. It is very hard to say exactly who was firing, but we hear information that this particular bus and its passengers were targeted,” she said.

“The bus that was also carrying the mothers of self-defense fighters. They were heading towards this military base currently controlled by the Ukrainian military to start negotiations over their sons.”

Another team of Russian journalists also came under attack on Sunday. A LifeNews crew was fired at near a Donetsk military base, Kulbatskaya said. Their car was fired at from a grenade launcher. No one was injured in the attack.

The ceasefire between Kiev and self-defense forces in eastern Ukraine expires at 22:00 (19:00 GMT) on Monday.

Journalists under attack

This latest death comes after a number of journalists were killed during the coverage of events in eastern Ukraine.

Earlier in June, Rossiya TV journalist Igor Kornelyuk and his colleague, sound engineer Anton Voloshin, were killed in shelling. They were the first Russian journalists to die while on professional duty in Ukraine, since the coup in Kiev and the beginning of civil unrest in eastern regions began.

ukraine8.si

Rossiya TV journalist Igor Kornelyuk (R) and sound engineer Anton Voloshin (L)

They were working on a report covering Ukrainian refugees fleeing the town of Metallist in Lugansk region when they were hit with mortar shells.

There have also been numerous cases where journalists have been attacked, shot at, and detained while reporting on the crisis in eastern Ukraine.

For example, on June 16 a group of journalists  came under fire while reporting from Slavyansk’s outskirts. One of the journalists was Ruptly correspondent Andrey Krasnoshchyokov.

On June 14, Zvezda TV channel said two of its journalists had been detained.

A Channel One crew was also fired at on June 11 while covering events in the village of Semenovka, located near Slavyansk.

In another incident, RT contributor and UK national Graham Phillips was detained by Kiev military forces at a checkpoint in the city of Mariupol on May 20. He was transferred to army barracks and interrogated by Ukrainian security forces. He was released after 36 hours.

Fedor Zavaleykov, a 23-year-old Ruptly cameraman, was wounded during fighting in Mariupol on May 9.

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Full Spectrum Dominance, Video, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

War is Our Business and Business Looks Good

By Edward S. Herman | Z Magazine | June 28, 2014

It is enlightening to see how pugnacious the U.S. establishment, led by the Peace Laureate, has been in dealing with the Ukraine crisis. The crisis arguably began when the Yanukovich government rejected an EU bailout program in favor of one offered by Russia. The mainstream media (MSM) have virtually suppressed the fact that the EU proposal was not only less generous than the one offered by Russia, but that whereas the Russian plan did not preclude further Ukrainian deals with the EU the EU plan would have required a cut-off of further Russian arrangements. And whereas the Russian deal had no military clauses, that of the EU required that Ukraine affiliate with NATO. Insofar as the MSM dealt with this set of offers they not only suppressed the exclusionary and militarized character of the EU offer, they tended to view the Russian deal as an improper use of economic leverage, “bludgeoning,” but the EU proposal was “constructive and reasonable” (Ed., NYT, Nov. 20, 2014). Double standards seem to be fully internalized within the U.S. establishment.

The protests that ensued in Ukraine were surely based in part on real grievances against a corrupt government, but they were also pushed along by rightwing groups and by U.S. and allied encouragement and support that increasingly had an anti-Russian and pro-accelerated-regime-change flavor. They also increased in level of violence. The sniper killings of police and protesters in Maidan on February 21, 2014 brought the crisis to a new head. This violence overlapped with and eventually terminated a negotiated settlement of the struggle brokered by EU members that would have ended the violence, created an interim government and required elections by December. The accelerated violence ended this transitional plan, which was replaced by a coup takeover, along with the forced flight of Victor Yanukovich.

There is credible evidence that the sniper shootings of both protesters and police were carried out by a segment of the protesters in a false-flag operation that worked exceedingly well, “government” violence serving as one ground for the ouster of Yanukovich. Most telling was the intercepted phone message between Estonia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Urmas Paet and EU Foreign Policy chief Catherine Upton in which Paet regretfully reported compelling evidence that the shots killing both police and protesters came from a segment of the protesters. This account was almost entirely suppressed in the MSM; for example, the New York Times never mentioned it once through the following two months. It is also enlightening that the protesters at Maidan were never called “militants” in the MSM, although a major and effective segment was armed and violent—that term was reserved for protesters in Eastern Ukraine, who were commonly designated “pro-Russian” as well as militants.

There is also every reason to believe that the coup and establishment of a right wing and anti-Russian government were encouraged and actively supported by U.S. officials. Victoria Nuland’s intercepted “fuck the EU” words express her hostility to a group that, while generally compliant and subservient, departed from neocon plans for a proper government in Kiev headed by somebody like “Yats.” So she would surely have been pleased when the EU-supported February compromise plan was ended by the violence and coup. The U.S. support of the coup government has been enthusiastic and unqualified, and whereas Kerry and company delayed recognition of the elected government of Maduro in Venezuela, and have strongly urged him to dialogue and negotiate with the Venezuelan protesters—in fact, threatening him if he doesn’t — Kerry and company have not done the same in Ukraine where the Kiev government forces have slowly escalated their attacks on the Eastern Ukraine, but not on “protesters,” only on “militants!”

The Kiev government’s military is now using jets and helicopters to bomb targets in the East and heavy artillery and mortars in its ground operations. Its targets have included hospitals and schools, and as of June 8 civilian casualties have been in the hundreds. A dramatic massacre of 40 or more pro-Russian protesters in Odessa on May 2 by a well-organized cadre of neo-Nazi supporters, possibly agents of the Kiev government, was an early high point in this pacification campaign. No investigation of this slaughter has been mounted by the Kiev government or “international community” and it has not interfered in the slightest with Western support of Kiev. In parallel the MSM have treated it in very low key. (The New York Times buried this incident in a back page continuation of a story on “Deadly Clashes Erupt in Ukraine,” May 5, which succeeds in covering up the affiliation of the killers.) Kerry has been silent, though we may imagine his certain frenzy if Maduro’s agents had carried out a similar action in Venezuela. Recall the “Racak massacre,” where the deaths of 40 alleged victims of the Serb military created an international frenzy; but in that case the United States needed a casus belli, whereas in the Odessa case there is a pacification war already in process by a U.S. client, so MSM silence is in order.

It is an interesting feature of media coverage of the Ukraine crisis that there is a regular focus on alleged or possible Russian aid, control of and participation in the actions of the protesters/militants/insurgents in Eastern Ukraine. This was evident in the Times’s gullible acceptance of a claim that photos of insurgents included a Russian pictured in Russia, later acknowledged to be problematic (Andrew Higgins, Michael Gordon and Andrew Kramer, “Photos Link Masked Men in East Ukraine to Russia,” NYT, April 20, 2014); and in another lead article which was almost entirely speculation (Sabrina Tavernise, “In Ukraine Kremlin Leaves No Fingerprints,” NYT, June 1, 2014.). But this interest in foreign intrusion in Ukraine affairs, with the implication of wrong-doing, does not extend to evidence of U.S. and other NATO power aid and control. Visits by Biden, Cain, Nuland and intelligence and Pentagon figures are sometimes mentioned, but the scope and character of aid and advice, of U.S. “fingerprints,” is not discussed and seems to be of little interest. It is, in fact, normalized, so that as with the aid plans in which Russian proposals are “bludgeons” but U.S.-EU plans are “constructive and reasonable” the double standard is in good working order here as well.

Isn’t there a danger that Russia will enter this war on behalf of the pro-Russian majority of the eastern part of Ukraine now under assault? Possibly, but not likely, as Putin is well aware that the Obama-neocon-military-industrial complex crowd would welcome this and would use it, at minimum, as a means of further dividing Russia from the EU powers, further militarizing U.S. clients and allies, and firming up the MIC’s command of the U.S. national budget. Certainly there are important forces in this country that would love to see a war with Russia, and it is notable how common are political comments, criticisms and regrets at Obama’s weak response to Russian “aggression” (e.g., David Sanger, “Obama Policy Is put to Test: Global Crises Challenge a Strategy of Caution,” NYT, March 17, 2014). But so far Putin refuses to bite.

In response to this pressure from the powerful war-loving and war-making U.S. constituencies, Obama has been furiously denouncing Russia and has hastened to exclude it from the G-8, impose sanctions and penalties on the villain state, increase U.S. troops and press military aid on the near-Russia states allegedly terrified at the Russian threat, carry out training exercises and maneuvers with these allies and clients, assure them of the sacredness of our commitment to their security, and press these states and major allies to increase their military budgets. One thing he hasn’t done is to restrain his Kiev client in dealing with the insurgents in eastern Ukraine. Another is engaging Putin in an attempt at a settlement. Putin has stressed the importance of a constitutional formation of a Ukraine federation in which a still intact Ukraine would allow significant autonomy to the Eastern provinces. There was a Geneva meeting and joint statement on April 17 in which all sides pledged a de-escalation effort, disarming irregulars, and constitutional reform. But it was weak, without enforcement mechanisms, and had no effect. The most important requirement for de-escalation would be the termination of what is clearly a Kiev pacification program for Eastern Ukraine. That is not happening, because Obama doesn’t want it to happen. In fact, he takes the position that it is up to Russia to curb the separatists in East Ukraine, and he has gotten his G-7 puppies to agree to give Russia a deadline to do this, or face more severe penalties.

This situation calls to mind Gareth Porter’s analysis of the “perils of dominance,” where he argued that the Vietnam war occurred and became a very large one because U.S. officials thought that with their overwhelming military superiority North Vietnam and its allies in the south would surrender and accept U.S. terms—most importantly a U.S. controlled South Vietnam—as military escalation took place and a growing toll was imposed on the Vietnamese (see his Perils of Dominance: Imbalance of Power and the Road to War in Vietnam). It didn’t work. In the Ukraine context the United States once again has a militarily dominant position. On its own and through its NATO arm it has encircled Russia with satellites established in violation of the 1990 promise of James Baker and Hans-Dietrch Genscher to Mikhail Gorbachev to not move eastward “one inch,” and it has placed anti-missile weapons right on Russia’s borders. And now it has engineered a coup in Ukraine that empowered a government openly hostile to Russia and threatening both the well-being of Russian-speaking Ukrainians and the control of the major Russian naval base in Crimea. Putin’s action in reincorporating Crimea into Russia was an inevitable defensive reaction to a serious threat to Russian national security. But it may have surprised the Obama team, just as the Vietnamese refusal to accept surrender terms may have surprised the Johnson administration. Continuing to push the Vietnamese by escalation didn’t work, although it did kill and injure millions and ended the Vietnamese alternative way. Continuing and escalating actions against Russia in 2014 may involve a higher risk for the real aggressor and for the world, but there are real spinoff benefits to Lockheed and other members of the MIC.

June 30, 2014 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , | Leave a comment