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Iceland Recovering Fastest in Europe After Jailing Bankers Instead of Bailing them Out

By Claire Bernish | ANTIMEDIA | June 11, 2015

After Iceland suffered a heavy hit in the 2008-2009 financial crisis, which famously resulted in convictions and jail terms for a number of top banking executives, the IMF now says the country has managed to achieve economic recovery—“without compromising its welfare model,” which includes universal healthcare and education. In fact, Iceland is on track to become the first European country that suffered in the financial meltdown to “surpass its pre-crisis peak of economic output”—essentially proving to the U.S. that bailing out “too big to fail” banks wasn’t the way to go.

Iceland is beautifully, yet unfortunately, unique in how it chose to handle the disaster. It simply let the banks fail, which resulted in defaults totaling $85 billion—lending ample justification for the prosecution and conviction of bank executives for various fraud-related charges. The decision seemed shocking at the time, but the gamble has obviously paid off. Choosing a different route, the U.S. bailed out the banks and let executives off the hook by levying fines that ultimately ended up being paid by the corporations—meaning the executives ostensibly responsible for the mess got off scot-free.

“Why should we have a part of our society that is not being policed or without responsibility?” special prosecutor Olafur Hauksson said after Iceland’s Supreme Court upheld the convictions for three bankers—and sentenced them to between four and five and a half years each. “It is dangerous that someone is too big to investigate—it gives a sense there is a safe haven.”

Hauksson, a police officer from a small fishing village, ended up taking the role of special prosecutor after being urged to do so when the first announcement to fill the position drew no applicants. The Icelandic Parliament even aided the prosecution’s effort by loosening secrecy laws to allow investigation without the hindrance of requiring court orders.

Six of the seven convictions that ended up in Iceland’s Supreme Court have been upheld, and five cases were scheduled for the top court as of February. An additional fourteen cases appear likely to be prosecuted. By contrast, the animosity Americans felt toward their largest financial institutions after the bailout has grown bitter. After the banks pled guilty in May for manipulating global currency and interest rates, the court imposed a paltry fine of $5.7 billion—which won’t even go to the people most affected by the fraud. Iceland’s successful prosecutions and economic recovery remain the subject of envy for Americans.

Shortly, however, Iceland’s economic health will be put to the test.

Strict capital controls that were applied when banks were circling the drain six years ago will now be loosened, allowing foreign investors—whose assets have essentially been frozen since then—to take their business elsewhere. To prevent a possible repeat crisis, the finance minister announced a 39% tax for anyone choosing to do so. “The danger is capital flight and a consequent fall in the value of the krona,” explained University of Iceland economics professor, Thorolfur Matthiasson. “That would be tantamount to October 2008, bringing back bad memories for ordinary people and possibly making most businesses unsustainable due to balance-sheet problems.”

Though many are nervous, there is still cautionary optimism since Iceland has certainly weathered the storm before.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | | Leave a comment

‘Profoundly distressing’: UNESCO condemns Saudi-led bombing of historic Yemen capital

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The Old Town of Sanaa, Yemen (image from wikipedia.org by flickr user ai@ce)
RT | June 12, 2015

The director-general of UNESCO has said she is “shocked” after an airstrike destroyed three houses in the Old City of Sanaa, where the oldest building dates back over 1,400 years.

Planes belonging to the anti-rebel coalition, led by Saudi Arabia, and endorsed by the United States, bombed a house, where a senior commander of the Shiite Houthi rebels, was purportedly hiding.

The airstrike, the first direct hit on the Old City since airstrikes began 11 weeks ago, caused the destruction of a trio of three-story buildings, and the death of five people, all presumably belonging to the same family. Houthi sources said there were six casualties, and five buildings were decimated.

“I am profoundly distressed by the loss of human lives as well as by the damage inflicted on one of the world’s oldest jewels of Islamic urban landscape. I am shocked by the images of these magnificent many-storyed tower-houses and serene gardens reduced to rubble,” said Irina Bokova in a statement.

“This destruction will only exacerbate the humanitarian situation and I reiterate my call to all parties to respect and protect the cultural heritage in Yemen. This heritage bears the soul of the Yemeni people, it is a symbol of a millennial history of knowledge and it belongs to all humankind.”

The current Yemeni capital has been inhabited for over 2,500 years, and was recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1986. It features tightly packed rammed earth and burnt brick houses, mosques and public baths, all decorated with elaborate geometric patterns.

UNESCO, charged with preserving historic and natural landmarks, is the second UN agency to draw attention to the conflict this week. The turmoil has seen more than 2,500 lose their lives.

“20.4 million people are now estimated to be in need of some form of humanitarian assistance, of whom 9.3 million are children,” Jeremy Hopkins, deputy representative of UNICEF, the emergency relief arm of the UN, said in Sanaa on Thursday.

“The de facto blockade on Yemen’s ports, though there is some easing, means fuel is not coming into the country, and since pumps are mechanized that means over 20 million people don’t have access to safe water.”

On Friday, the coalition issued a statement saying it wouldn’t stop its ground and bombing campaign until an April UN resolution, demanding Houthi withdrawal is implemented.

Yemen existed as two separate and often hostile states prior to reunification in 1990, and tensions have resurfaced since Shia President Saleh was deposed in 2012. His Shia supporters, reportedly aided by Iran, occupied the capital Sanaa in September last year.

With the current Sunni President Hadi forced into exile, other Sunni states, including most Gulf monarchies, Egypt and Pakistan have stepped in to return him to power, deploying a force of over 150,000 troops and 150 warplanes.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Russia slams US, NATO allies for violating NPT

Press TV – June 12, 2015

Russia has censured the United States and its NATO allies for “violating” the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) by conducting nuclear planning and missions.

“The so-called joint nuclear missions practiced by the United States and their NATO allies are a serious violation of the said treaty,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement released on Thursday.

The statement also called for the return of all US nuclear weapons to the country, a ban on nuclear warheads abroad and the dismantling of the technology that facilitates the use of nuclear weapons as well as abstaining from nuclear exercises.

Back in April, Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Washington is breaching the NPT by deploying its nuclear weapons in Belgium, Italy, Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands.

Also in March, Russian Foreign Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich urged the US, as a NATO member, to withdraw its nuclear weapons from Europe, highlighting that their deployment on the continent violates the NPT.

“We have repeatedly drawn NATO’s attention to the fact that such practices directly run counter to the spirit and the letter of NPT,” he said on March 24.

The remarks came days after the US State Department spokeswoman, Jen Psaki, claimed that “the deployment of US nuclear weapons on the territories of our NATO allies is consistent with the NPT.”

Under the article 1 of NPT, no country is allowed to transfer its nuclear weapons to other parties while article 2 of the treaty prohibits those countries lacking nuclear know-how from having access to nuclear weapons, Lukashevich stated, adding that the US deployment of nuclear arms in Europe infringes upon the terms of the agreement.

Washington-Moscow relations have become markedly tense in recent months. The US and NATO accuse the Kremlin of supporting pro-Russia forces in east Ukraine. Russia categorically denies the allegation, saying NATO’s presence near the Russian borders is responsible for the flare-up in the restive region.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

5 injured, 2 critically as Israeli forces fire on Kafr Qaddum march

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Ma’an – June 12, 2015

QALQILIYA – Five Palestinians were injured, two critically, when Israelis forces opened live fire on the Kafr Qaddum weekly march Friday.

A coordinator for the village’s popular resistance committee, Murad Shtewi, said that Muhammad Majid, 20, had been shot in the stomach and chest with live rounds and is in critical condition.

Ibrahim Mousa, 35, is also in critical condition after he was shot in the abdomen while in his house.

Shtewi also said that Muhammad Nidal, 20, and Mouiz Khader had been shot in the leg, and Ayman Farouq, 38, in the hand.

Dozens others suffered from excessive tear gas inhalation.

Israeli forces had closed down the village’s entrance since the early morning after they declared it a closed military zone. As a result, those injured had to be evacuated from the village in private cars using dirt roads.

An Israeli army spokeswoman contacted by Ma’an said she would look into it.

Israeli forces routinely suppress weekly marches by violent means.

In Kafr Qaddum, they also regularly declare the village a closed military zone in order to prevent the weekly march from taking place.

The march is carried out to protest the Israeli separation wall and Israeli settlement activity, both illegal under international law.

The internationally recognized Palestinian territories of which the West Bank and East Jerusalem form a part have been occupied by the Israeli military since 1967.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

Norwegian pension fund divests from Israeli occupation

MEMO | June 12, 2015

Norway’s largest pension fund has excluded two companies “on the grounds of their exploitation of natural resources in occupied territory on the West Bank.”

KLP, which manages a US$70 billion investment portfolio, formally excluded Heidelberg Cement and Cemex on June 1, following a period of investigation and engagement. The combined worth of KLP’s shareholdings in both Heidelberg Cement and Cemex was approximately $5 million.

Heidelberg Cement and Cemex, leading global suppliers of building materials, operate quarries in the West Bank through their respective Israeli subsidiaries. According to KLP, “the companies pay licence fees and royalties to the state of Israel” while “the products deriving from the quarries are sold primarily for use in Israel’s domestic construction market.”

Based on “a review of applicable international law”, which the company explained in a separate document, KLP concluded that “the companies’ operations are associated with violations of fundamental ethical norms.”

Citing a previous similar case in Western Sahara, KLP noted that the quarries in question were opened after 1967, when Israel’s occupation began. “The opening of a quarry in occupied territory”, KLP said, “is in all probability incompatible with Article 55 of the Hague Regulations.”

The fund, which manages the retirement assets of Norwegian public sector workers, also excluded a further eight companies on the grounds of their income from coal-based operations, corruption, environmental damage, and the production of tobacco.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | Leave a comment

DHS whistleblower ‘almost loses child’ for probing immigration & corruption

RT | June 12, 2015

After voicing concerns about an obscure US immigration program for foreign investors, a Department of Homeland Security agent says she was barred from owning a personal firearm and almost lost custody of her one-year-old adopted daughter.

Taylor Johnson, a senior special agent with a division of the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), testified before the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs on Thursday. She was at a hearing alongside several other whistleblowers who claim that they have also faced harassment for speaking out against their agencies wrongdoings.

Johnson told the committee her problems started after investigating the so-called EB-5 program, which offers visas to foreign investors. When she questioned whether visas were being approved with enough scrutiny, her managers began to receive complaints about her queries. She was removed from the investigation and the case was closed.

“Some of the violations investigated surrounding the project included bank and wire fraud, and I discovered ties to organized crime and high-ranking politicians and they received promotions that appeared to facilitate the program,” Johnson testified.

The whistleblower discovered that “EB-5 applicants from China, Russia, Pakistan, Malaysia had been approved in as little as 16 days” and that case files didn’t have “the basic and necessary law enforcement queries.”

Johnson told the committee her gun was confiscated. She mentioned her access to her workplace and government databases were revoked and the government vehicle she used was also taken away. “I was told I couldn’t even carry or own a personal weapon, which is a constitutional rights violation,” she added.

“When an adoption social worker tried to contact and verify employment, she was told that I had been terminated for a criminal offense,” Johnson said, choking up. “I almost lost my one-year-old-child.”

Johnson’s testimony comes as the EB-5 program is already under intense criticism due to a report released in March by the DHS’ inspector general John Roth. Roth’s report concluded that Homeland Security deputy secretary Alejandro Mayorkas violated ethics rules by intervening as the head of USCIS on several occasions in EB-5 visa cases involving prominent Democrats, such as Senator Harry Reid and Governor Terry McAuliffe.

Mayorkas has since said, “I regret the perception my own involvement created.” It is unclear however if Johnson’s investigation concerned Mayorkas or any of his associates.

Read more:

TSA whistleblower says agency operates on culture of ‘fear and distrust’ & lax security

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Corruption | , , , , | 1 Comment

German political prisoner Horst Mahler’s latest book slated for ‘harmful media’ list

By ADELHEID RITTER | Non-Aligned Media | June 11, 2015

Today, Thursday, June 11, 2015, at 11.30 AM, the council of the Federal Department for Media Harmful for Young Persons in Germany will be deciding whether Horst Mahler’s book Das Ende der Wanderschaft – Gedanken über Gilad Atzmon und die Judenheit (2013) (The End of the Wanderings – Reflections on Gilad Atzmon and Jewry) will be put on the harmful media index. Mahler wrote his book in his prison cell after reading Gilad Atzmon’s book The Wandering Who?A Study of Jewish Identity Politics (2011), sent to him by a friend.

Friedrich Bode, a retired Protestant minister and founding member of the Green Party, as well as Gerard Menuhin, son of the world famous violinist Yehudi Menuhin, will be there to defend the book.

Horst Mahler is Germany’s number one political prisoner. As a professional lawyer he encountered revisionist material when he was asked to defend a client over charges of “Holocaust Denial”. Although previously Mahler had identified himself on the radical left and had been a founding member of the Red Army Faction (RAF), he was shocked by the treatment of revisionist research in German courts with regard to Holocaust laws. Having been indoctrinated with guilt over the Holocaust, he found it deeply liberating to discover that Jews had been expelled from countries all over the world throughout the centuries, and that the expulsion of Jews from Germany was by no means a singular event.

Mahler maintains that Germany today is in effect a nation that is ruled by a foreign will. That foreign will is the will of the Jewish people, which manifests itself in Germany’s Holocaust laws and the numerous Holocaust memorials which literally pave the country. These, he believes, serve to reinforce German guilt. In Mahler’s analysis, such elements, along with the “re-education” programme implemented by the Allies (mainly through the mass media, educational institutions, politicians willing to execute this foreign will, and Jewish institutions), prevent the healthy self-expression of the German people. Such mechanisms need to be understood as part of a strategy of psychological warfare with the goal of effecting the “soul murder” of the German people. A people without a soul cannot survive physically. According to Mahler, this is a genocidal project that has its basis in the Jewish understanding of the German people as part of the nation of Amalek, the Biblical arch enemy whose “seed” must be destroyed.

Mahler frequently quotes Jewish philosopher and Rabbi Martin Buber to prove that the annihilation impulse exists in the Jewish people not only against the German people but also against every other nation, since Judaism embodies a stark “No to the lives of the peoples” (“ein Nein zum Leben der Völker” – meaning “no to the traditional ways of non-Jewish peoples”). According to Mahler, the German spirit and the Jewish spirit are antagonistic to each other, which is the root of the conflict. Whilst German philosophy is a deeply organic way of thinking that seeks to maintain sanctimonious harmony with nature, Jewish thinking and behaviour is the polar opposite, aiming at the destruction of naturally grown structures.

Mahler was sentenced to 12 years in prison for “incitement to the detriment of the Jews” and “Holocaust denial” in 2009. In his open letter to the Central Committee of Jews in Germany and the Jewish organisation “Sons of the Covenant” (B’nai B’rith), dated on August 2009, Mahler declares himself a personal prisoner of organised World Jewry (All-Juda).

Regarding incitement, it must be noted that Mahler nowhere calls for hostility against Jews, and explicitly says that hatred and physical harm against Jews must be prevented under any circumstances. His analysis of the current state of affairs is based on Hegelian philosophy, readings of Christian and Jewish Scripture, and a thorough understanding of the legal situation of present day Germany.

He has now served five years of his twelve-year term. At 79 years of age, German law should now permit him to leave prison early. However, authorities do not seem to be willing to act in accordance with the law in this case, and have asked Mahler to withdraw his proposal.

This is a very rough summary of Mahler’s positions. When writing in German, Mahler articulates his views in a well-informed, sophisticated and precise language.

Please feel free to send him an uplifting note:

Horst Mahler
JVA Brandenburg a.d. Havel
Anton-Saefkow Allee 22
14772 Brandenburg a. d. Havel

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | , | 1 Comment

Egyptian journalists protest against arrests, for better labor laws

By Mostafa Mohie | Mada Masr | June 11, 2015

More than 200 members of the press gathered at the Journalists Syndicate in downtown Cairo on Wednesday, chanting for the “32 detained journalists and hundreds dismissed from their job” as they commemorated Egyptian Journalist Day.

The syndicate’s freedoms committee had sent a general invitation to protest on June 10 to denounce the recent wave of arrests, arbitrary dismissals and low wages faced by local journalists. Several websites for both privately and state-owned newspapers, including Ahram Gate, Bedaya, Al-Mal and Al-Fagr, published statements supporting the demonstration.

Leading up to the protest, the syndicate also filed 13 complaints with the prosecutor general demanding the immediate release of all journalists currently detained pending investigations, and detailing alleged acts of torture inflicted upon those journalists while in custody.

Among the protesters was Ibrahim Aref, editor-in-chief of the privately owned Al-Bayan newspaper. Aref and a colleague were recently prosecuted on charges of publishing false information regarding the assassination of six prosecutors, news which the newspaper had subsequently amended and apologized for.

Recounting his arrest to Mada Masr, Aref says that police personnel broke into his office and took him to the prosecutor’s headquarters in the Fifth Settlement district of New Cairo. He claims the building was under construction at the time and had no running water. The next day, he was taken to the High Court, where he was left in a defendant’s dock for nine hours without food or water before being released later that night on bail, he says.

“According to the law, everything that happened was illegal,” Aref argues. “Journalists cannot be detained for cases related to publishing. I went through the experience and got out of prison, but other colleagues are still detained, and their children are cheering with us today.”

Aya Allam, wife of detained journalist Hassan al-Qabanni, was also at Wednesday’s protest.

She spoke to Mada of her husband’s arrest, saying, “On January 22, police broke into my home and arrested my husband. He disappeared for three days, and we filed a report with the general prosecutor about the incident. It turned out he was being kept at the National Security headquarters in Sheikh Zayed.”

When Qabbani was finally called before the prosecutor, he bore injuries that suggested he was beaten, electrocuted and tortured, Allam says.

She claims that her husband never faced specific charges. Instead, during interrogations he was asked about his opinion of the January 25, 2011 revolution, the events of June 30, 2013, the Muslim Brotherhood and the Armed Forces. Later, his family learned that he was accused of spying for the Norwegian government, in the same case as Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohamed Ali Bishr, according to Allam.

Qabbani is currently being detained in dire conditions at the Aqrab prison, Allam alleges. She adds that he is restricted to his cell, isn’t allowed access to newspapers or books and only receives one meal per day.

Furthermore, his wife claims that though the prison management has been issuing visiting permits to the families of the detainees at the prison, when they arrive, they are not permitted to enter. Qabbani hasn’t received visitors since February, Allam says, accusing prison staff of tampering with the visitor records.

Reda Gamal’s husband, journalist Reda al-Darawy, has been detained for close to two years, she says.

“After July 3 [2013] and the ousting of the Muslim Brotherhood, my husband travelled to Amman to work at Yarmouk satellite channel, then to Lebanon to work at Al-Quds Channel. He came back on August 6 and was a guest speaker on Tamer Amin’s show. On his way out of Media Production City, he was arrested.”

Darawy has been accused of spying for Hamas and belonging to a banned group — the Muslim Brotherhood was declared an illegal organization at the end of 2013. He was later added as a defendant in the espionage case alongside former President Mohamed Morsi and other Brotherhood leaders, Gamal says.

Gamal adds that her husband was accused of illegally entering the Gaza Strip through the tunnels from Sinai, but refutes those charges.

“My husband visited the Strip twice for work, and the stamps on his passport prove it,” she argues.

His first visit was in July 2011, she says, when he conducted interviews with leaders of various political factions in Palestine for a piece that was published in the state-owned Akhbar al-Youm newspaper. Then under the Morsi administration, Darawy visited Gaza again to cover the truce agreement between Hamas and Israel, Gamal says.

Darawy has now been in custody for 22 months. A verdict is anticipated in his case on June 16.

Darawy’s case bears some similarities with that of journalist Mahmoud Abou Zeid, known as Shawkan, who is also currently in detention pending investigations. His brother, Mohamed Abou Zeid, says that Shawkan was covering the Rabea al-Adaweya sit-in after Morsi’s ouster in 2013, and had obtained permission to shoot photographs there from security forces in the area.

However, Shawkan was then arrested alongside a number of foreign journalists by men dressed in civilian clothing, Abou Zeid says. The foreign photojournalist were released, but Shawkan has remained in detention ever since.

Photographer Ahmed Gamal Zeyada, who was recently acquitted in a case related to violence at Al-Azhar University, says that his arrest was similar to Shawkan’s. Zeyada says he hadn’t met Shawkan prior to his arrest, but began exchanging letters with him following a march that was organized to draw attention to both of their arrests by their fellow photojournalists.

“After a while we became close friends, though we never met,” says Zeyada.

The arbitrary firing of journalists was also a core issue discussed by the protesters. Sahar Abdel Ghani, a journalist at the privately owned newspaper Al-Alam Al-Youm, says that she and 30 of her colleagues were fired due to budget cuts.

“We have been working for the newspaper for 13 years, and have put up with all the financial challenges throughout,” she says.

But despite the fact that she was fired under the pretext of budgetary constraints, Abdel Ghani claims that “the newspaper recently launched a new website and hired new reporters,” suggesting that the business wasn’t in such dire straits after all. She says she and her colleagues filed a wrongful termination complaint with the labor bureau, but nothing happened.

The Journalists Syndicate is currently in negotiations with the newspaper to either rehire the fired journalists or compensate them, she adds.

At the protest, around 150 journalists — most of them working for newspapers affiliated with political parties that have recently been shut down — declared they would go on strike.

Iman Ouf, a journalist for the privately owned Al-Mal newspaper and a member of the syndicate’s freedom committee that organized the demonstration, felt that Wednesday’s protest represented a good step toward solving the problem of journalists working in Egypt today.

“The number of participants wasn’t big, but it is a good start. Today is better than how things were before,” Ouf says.

Next, the syndicate plans to launch a campaign for a fair labor law, a unified contract for all journalists and an industry-wide a minimum wage, in addition to providing compensation for the families of the detained journalists, she continues.

The journalist adds that the regional and international support for the protest was a good indicator that journalists are capable of defending themselves. The protest received letters of support from the Arab Journalists Union and the International Union for Journalists, Ouf says, in addition to journalists syndicates in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, the European Union and the United States, and finally, from local political parties.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance, Subjugation - Torture | | Leave a comment

The Ideological Perils of Bernie Sanders

Hope and Change 2.0

By EOIN HIGGINS | CounterPunch | June 12, 2015

A Bernie Sanders run at the Democratic nomination has garnered a lot of interest from the liberal wing of the Democratic Party. Members of the anyone-but-Hillary caucus (who readily admit they will vote for her anyway come the general election) are desperately seeking an alternative. Just as in 2008, a challenger has come from her putative left. Then it was the Junior Senator from Illinois, Barack Obama. This time, it is the Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders.

Although it is difficult to remember now that we are seven years into the neoliberal and neocon Obama administration, in the primary battle between Clinton and Obama there seemed to be an actual difference between the two candidates. Where Clinton was a relic of the past, Obama was the future. Where Clinton’s record in the Senate tied her irrevocably to the wars and policies of the Bush administration, Obama’s scant record and impassioned though empty speeches on the campaign trail promised a new way forward. Hope. Change.

It hardly bears explaining what a sham the Obama campaign of 2008 was. Wether bailing out the banks to warrantless domestic surveillance, or continuing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq and extra-judicial assassinations, a plurality of the most noxious Bush policies were continued and in many cases expanded under Obama. The writing was on the wall in the first week, of course, when Obama immediately broke his pledge to close Guantanamo.

Yet after seven long years of their increasingly acrobatic Obama apologia and the slow, slow realization that they were duped into supporting a president well to the right of sainted slime Ronald Reagan, the liberal wing of the Democratic Party is willing and ready once again to throw its support behind an inevitable disappointment.

It’s not that Bernie Sanders is as right wing as Barack Obama on domestic issues. Sanders has identified as a democratic socialist for most of his political career and his rhetoric on domestic economic policy is remarkably consistent. He isn’t radical, or at least he wouldn’t be in a sane society. Sanders embodies and exemplifies the traditional urge of the Democrats to be slightly more accommodating to the interests of the working class under capitalism, while still maintaining the basic economic status quo.

For an illustrative example of Sanders’ lack of radical politics, take his social media post of a few weeks ago which was spent lauding Facebook for paying its employees a baseline salary of 15 dollars an hour. Now while it is certainly better for the company to pay its workers 15 dollars an hour than, say, 10 dollars an hour, it’s not as if Facebook is the kind of company any self-respecting member of the left wing of American politics should be heaping praise upon. After all, this is a company that a few years ago was shamed into backing away from assuming control over the life rights to the image identity of newborns.

“Fine,” you say, “I can see that Bernie may have had to adopt some of his rhetoric and policies to the realities of American capitalism. But he’s still in favor of the working class! Haven’t you heard his speeches? This won’t be like Obama, I swear it! He’ll be different!”

Sorry to burst your bubble, but Bernie Sanders is no friend of the working class, in America or the world. It’s fundamentally impossible to be such if you support the Washington war machine and the system of Western imperialism. And Bernie Sanders has proven, over and over again, that he is the friend of those who dominate, not the domineered, and the friend of those who kill, not their victims.

Bernie has been a vocal supporter of American military adventurism for the length of his Congressional career. Whenever there are wars to be fought, Bernie comes out in favor of them eventually and helps to facilitate their fighting. Maybe he sees it as an American Jobs Program to send the country’s disadvantaged youth halfway across the world to kill similarly disadvantaged people who had the misfortune to be born in the wrong country. Maybe he just doesn’t care about the poor in other countries. Who knows. What’s for sure, though, is that the Independent Senator from Vermont, Bernie Sanders, likes war just as much as his Democratic and Republican counterparts.

When the reality of Sanders’ milquetoast left wingery and neocon foreign policy finally sink in for the American liberal, the refrain will include such hits as:

“Well, it’s him or Hillary”

“What alternative would you choose?”

“It’s hard to be ideologically pure and politically successful”

These are all meaningless arguments. In fact, they’re the antithesis to the arguments being used by Sanders’ allies to support his bid for the Democratic nomination. Almost every week, another thinkpiece or article is released wagging the metaphorical finger at Sanders naysayers for denying the possibility of a Bernie Democratic nomination. “If you work at it and go out and vote,” they say, “then Bernie will beat Hillary and get the nomination!”

Here’s a real alternative: find a candidate who actually represents the left and go out and vote for him or her in the general election. Supporting Bernie Sanders will only lead to more disappointment, no matter what happens in the primary fight and general election.

Don’t say I didn’t warn you.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , | Leave a comment

Turkish intelligence agency giving ISIL safe passage into Syria

Press TV – June 12, 2015

Newly-surfaced video footage has corroborated widespread assertions that the Turkish government’s intelligence agency has been ensuring ISIL terrorists safe passage into Syria.

The center-left Turkish daily, Cumhuriyet, integrated the videos in a Thursday report implicating the National Intelligence Organization (MİT) in assisting the notorious Takfiri group.

The footage shows drivers admitting that they are “doing their duty to the state” by helping the militants bypass the territory near the heavily-defended Syrian city of Kobani.

One driver explains how vehicles would be accompanied by MİT agents during the trip, which would start from the Atme camp in Syria and end at the border town of Akçakale in Şanlıurfa Province, where the militants and cargo would reenter Syria.

One driver is seen saying, “They didn’t allow us to leave the vehicle [once we had arrived at Akçakale]. One of them [militants] was waiting by our side. Another vehicle came and parked behind my coach and they started moving the cargo from my vehicle [into the other one]. There were 46 [militants] in my coach, and I learned later on that there were 27 in the other bus. They were bearded men, scruffy looking.”

On June 5, the opposition daily had likewise accused Turkish authorities and intelligence agency of helping smuggle ISIL and other Takfiri terrorists into Syria from Turkey.

Cumhuriyet had also posted a video on its website on May 29, purportedly showing trucks belonging to Turkey’s intelligence agency carrying weapons to the Takfiri terror groups operating in Syria.

Syria has been struggling with an implacable militancy since March 2011. The US and its regional allies – especially Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and Turkey – are supporting the militants operating inside Syria.

The international community has long been critical of Turkey over its provision of assistance to Takfiri terrorists waging war in Syria.

The Turkish opposition group, the People’s Democratic Party (HDP), has called for an immediate end to Ankara’s support for terrorists in Syria.

Selahattin Demirtas, HDP’s co-leader, has noted that the move would be key to restoring the foreign relations of the new Turkish government to a normal state.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pillage and Class Polarization: The Rise of “Criminal Capitalism”

By James Petras :: 06.11.2015

About 75% of US employees work 40 hours or longer, the second longest among all OECD countries, exceeded only by Poland and tied with South Korea. In contrast, only 10% of Danish workers, 15% of Norwegian, 30% of French, 43% of UK and 50% of German workers work 40 or more hours.

With the longest work day, US workers score lower on the ‘living well’ scale than most western European workers. Moreover, despite those long workdays US employees receive the shortest paid holidays or vacation time (one to two weeks compared to the average of five weeks in Western Europe). US employees pay for the costliest health plans and their children face the highest university fees among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD).

In class terms, US employees face the greatest jump in income inequalities over the past decade, the longest period of wage and salary decline or stagnation (1970 to 2014) and the greatest collapse of private sector union membership, from 30% in 1950 down to 8% in 2014.

On the other hand, profits, as a percentage of national income, have increased significantly. The share of income and profits going to the financial sector, especially the banks and investment houses, has increased at a faster rate than any other sector of the US economy.

There are two polar opposite trends: Employees working longer hours, with costlier services and declining living standards while finance capitalists enjoy rapidly rising profits and incomes.

Paradoxically, these trends are not directly based on greater ‘workplace exploitation’ in the US.

The historic employee-finance capitalist polarization is the direct result of the grand success of the trillion dollar financial swindles, the tax payer-funded trillion dollar Federal bailouts of the crooked bankers, and the illegal bank manipulation of interest rates. These uncorrected and unpunished crimes have driven up the costs of living and producing for employees and their employers.

Financial ‘rents’ (the bankers and brokers are ‘rentiers’ in this economy) drive up the costs of production for non-financial capital (manufacturing). Non-financial capitalists resort to reducing wages, cutting benefits and extending working hours for their employees, in order to maintain their own profits.

In other words, pervasive, enduring and systematic large-scale financial criminality is a major reason why US employees are working longer and receiving less– the ‘trickle down’ effect of mega-swindles committed by finance capital.

Mega-Swindles, Leading Banks and Complicit State Regulators

Mega-swindles, involving trillions of dollars, are routine practices involving the top fifty banks, trading houses, currency speculators, management fund firms and foreign exchange traders.

These ‘white collar’ crimes have hurt hundreds of millions of investors and credit-card holders, millions of mortgage debtors, thousands of pension funds and most industrial and service firms that depend on bank credit to meet payrolls, to finance capital expansion and technological upgrades and raw materials.

Big banks, which have been ‘convicted and fined’ for mega-swindles, include Citi Bank, Bank of America, HSBC, UBS, JP Morgan, Barclay, Goldman Sachs, Royal Bank of Scotland, Deutsch Bank and forty other ‘leading’ financial institutions.

The mega-swindlers have repeatedly engaged in a great variety of misdeeds, including accounting fraud, insider trading, fraudulent issue of mortgage based securities and the laundering of hundreds of billions of illegal dollars for Colombian, Mexican, African and Asian drug and human traffickers.

They have rigged the London Interbank Official Rate (LIBOR), which serves as the global interest benchmark to which hundreds of trillions of dollars of financial contracts are tied. By raising LIBOR, the financial swindlers have defrauded hundreds of millions of mortgage and credit-card holders, student loan recipients and pensions.

Bloomberg News (5/20/2015) reported on an ongoing swindle involving the manipulation of the multi-trillion-dollar International Swaps and Derivatives Association (ISDA) fix, a global interest rate benchmark used by banks, corporate treasurers and money managers to determine borrowing costs and to value much of the $381 trillion of outstanding interest rate swaps.

The Financial Times (5/23/15, p. 10) reported how the top seven banks engaged in manipulating fraudulent information to their clients, practiced illegal insider trading to profit in the foreign exchange market (forex), whose daily average turnover volume for 2013 exceeded $5 trillion dollars.

These seven convicted banks ended up paying less than $10 billion in fines, which is less than 0.05% of their daily turnover. No banker or high executive ever went to jail, despite undermining the security of millions of retail investors, pensioners and thousands of companies.

The Direct Impact of Financial Swindles on Declining Living Standards

Each and every major financial swindle has had a perverse ripple effect throughout the entire economy. This is especially the case where the negative consequences have spread downward through local banks, local manufacturing and service industries to employees, students and the self-employed.

The most obvious example of the downward ripple effect was the so-called ‘sub-prime mortgage’ swindle. Big banks deliberately sold worthless, fraudulent mortgage-backed securities (MBS) and collateralized debt obligation (CDO) to smaller banks, pension funds and local investors, which eventually foreclosed on overpriced houses causing low income mortgage holders to lose their down payments (amounting to most of their savings).

While the effects of the swindle spread outward and downward, the US Treasury propped up the mega-swindlers with a trillion-dollar bailout in working people’s tax money. They anointed their mega-give-away as the bail out for ‘banks that are just too big to fail”! They transferred funds from the public treasury for social services to the swindlers.

In effect, the banks profited from their widely exposed crimes while US employees lost their jobs, homes, savings and social services. As the US Treasury pumped trillions of dollars into the coffers of the criminal banks (especially on Wall Street), the builders, major construction companies and manufacturers faced an unprecedented credit squeeze and laid off millions of workers, and reduced wages and increased the hours of un-paid work.

Service employees in consumer industries were hit hard as wages and salaries declined or remained frozen. The costs of the FOREX, LIBOR and ISDA fix swindles’ fell heavily on big business, which passed the pain onto labor: cutting pension and health coverage, hiring millions of ‘contingent or temp’ workers at minimum wages with no benefits.

The bank bailouts forced the Treasury to shift funds from ‘job-creating’ social programs and national infrastructure investment to the FIRE (finance, insurance and real estate) sector with its highly concentrated income structure.

As a result of the increasing concentration of wealth among the financial swindlers, inequalities in income grew; wages and salaries were frozen or reduced and manufacturers outsourced production, resulting in declines in production.

Employees, suffering from the loss of income brought on by the mega-swindles, found that they were working longer hours for less pay and fewer benefits. Productivity suffered. With the total breakdown of the ‘capitalist rules of the game’, investors lost confidence and trust in the system. Mega-swindles eroded ‘confidence’ between investors and traders, and made a mockery of any link between performance at work and rewards. This severed the nexus between highly motivated workers, engaged in ‘hard work, long hours’ and rising living standards, and between investment and productivity.

As a result, profits in the finance sector grew while the domestic economy floundered and living standards stagnated.

Financial Impunity: Regulatees Controlling the Regulators

Despite the proliferation of mega-swindles and their pervasive ripple effects throughout the economy and society, none of the dozens of federal or state regulatory agencies intervened to stop the swindle before it undermined the domestic economy. No CEO or banker was ever arrested for their part in the swindle of trillions. The regulators only reacted after trillions had ‘disappeared’ and swindles were ‘a done deal’. The impunity of the swindlers in planning and executing the pillage of hundreds of millions of employees, taxpayers and mortgage holders was because the federal and state regulatory agencies are populated by ‘regulatory administrators’ who came from or aspired to join the financial sector they were tasked with ‘regulating’.

Most of the high officials appointed to lead the regulatory agencies had been selected by the ‘Lords of Wall Street, Frankfurt, the City of London or Zurich.’ Appointees are chosen on the basis of their willingness to enable financial swindles. It therefore came as no surprise on May 28 2015 when US President Obama approved the appointment of Andrew Donahue, Managing Director and Associate General Council for the repeatedly felonious, mega-swindling banking house of Goldman Sachs to be the ‘Chief of Staff’ of the Security and Exchange Commission. His career has been typical of the Washington-Wall Street ‘Revolving Door’.

Only after fraud and swindles evoked the nationwide public fury of mortgage holders, investors and finance companies did the regulators ‘investigate’ the crimes and even then not a single major banker was jailed, not a single major bank was closed down.

There were a few low-level bond traders and bank employees who were fired or jailed as scapegoats. The banks paid puny (for them) fines, which they passed on to their customers. Despite pledges to ‘mend their ways’ the bankers concocted new schemes with their windfalls of billions of Federal ‘bailout’ money while the regulators looked on or polished their CV’s for the next pass through the ‘revolving door’.

Every top official in Treasury, Commerce and Trade, and every regulator in the Security Exchange Commission (SEC) who ‘retired to the private sector’ has ended up working for the same mega-criminal banks and finance houses they had investigated, regulated and ‘slapped on the wrist’.

As one banker, who insists on anonymity, told me: ‘The most successful swindlers are those who investigated financial transgressions’.

Conclusion

Mega-swindles define the nature of contemporary capitalism. The profits and power of financial capital is not the outcome of ‘market forces’. They are the result of a system of criminal behavior that pillages the Treasury, exploits the producers and consumers, evicts homeowners and robs taxpayers.

The mega swindlers represent much less than 1% of the class structure. Yet they hold over 40% of personal wealth in this country and control over 80% of capital liquidity.

They grow inexorably rich and richer, even as the rest of the economy wallows in crisis and stagnation. Their swindles send powerful ripples across the national economy, which ultimately freeze or reduce the income of the skilled (middle class) employees and undermine the living conditions for poor working-class whites, and especially under and unemployed Afro-American and Latino-American young workers.

Efforts to ‘moralize’ capital have failed repeatedly since the regulators are controlled by those they claim to ‘regulate’.

The rare arrest and prosecution of any among the current tribe of mega-swindlers would only result in their being replaced by new swindlers. The problem is systemic and requires deep structural changes.

The only answer is to build a political movement independent of the two party system, willing to nationalize the banks and to pass legislation outlawing derivatives, forex trading and other unnatural parasitic speculative activities.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics | , , | Leave a comment

Ursula Haverbeck: The Panorama Interview

Watch on Bit Chute

May 14, 2015

In 2015, Ursula Haverbeck made history in a defiant interview in which she threw down the gauntlet to the biggest taboo of our times. Revisionism . . . on German TV! A seismic event.

Interviewer: Robert Bongen.

ROBERT FAURISSON: Pioneering French revisionist. ZYKLON B: Cyanide-based pesticide developed to allow safe fumigation of buildings, it releases its cyanide content too slowly to work as described by “eyewitnesses” to alleged gassings.

15 MILLION GERMANS: Germans driven from their homes in eastern provinces of Germany given to Poland after the war, as well as from similar areas in Czechoslovakia and elsewhere.

KONRAD ADENAUER: First chancellor of post-war (West) Germany.

DRESDEN: Eastern Germany city bombed by British and American planes in February 1945.

COLLEGIUM HUMANUM: Independent school/study center founded by Werner Georg Haverbeck (Ursula’s husband); banned by German government in 2008 for promoting “Holocaust denial.”

HERIBERT PRANTL: Prominent German legal expert and journalist.

SÜDDEUTSCHE ZEITUNG: Major German newspaper, based in Munich.

GERMAR RUDOLF: German chemist and major revisionist, showed that the masonry of the alleged Auschwitz gas chambers shows no traces of cyanide residues consistent with gassing claims.

HORST MAHLER: German lawyer and nationalist activist; sentenced to twelve years in prison in 2009.

BRESLAU: Former German city in eastern provinces, seized and subjected to ethnic cleansing by Poland after the war; today “Wrocław.”

ERNST NOLTE: Prominent German political scientist, attacked during 1980s for suggesting a “causal nexus” between Holocaust and Soviet atrocities.

GARRISON AND COMMANDANT ORDERS (German: STANDORT- UND KOMMANDANTURBEFEHLE): A collection of orders issued by SS authorities concerning the management and treatment of prisoners at Auschwitz, seized along with other Auschwitz records by the Soviets in 1945 and held in archives in Moscow until the 1990s; published in book form in 2000.

WOULD YOU LIKE TO STAY . . . ?: Prisoners at Auschwitz were given the option in January 1945 to stay behind to be liberated by the advancing Red Army or to evacuate to Germany with the SS; a majority chose the latter.

FRED LEUCHTER: American expert in execution technology, did pioneering study of cyanide residues at Auschwitz which was later developed by Germar Rudolf.

OTTO UTHGENANNT and ENRICO MARCO: Alleged former concentration camp inmates whose claims have been exposed as false.

TYPHUS: Highly contagious, deadly disease spread by lice; the primary means of control available to the Germans during the war was to kill the disease vector (lice) by fumigating clothing and barracks with cyanide gas, aka Zyklon B.

SEFTON DELMER: British journalist and propagandist, later wrote about his role in creating “black propaganda” during the war.

RHEINWIESEN: Area of western Germany where US and other Allied forces set up POW camps for surrendered Germans, large numbers of whom would die of exposure, disease and malnutrition.

MARTIN BROSZAT: Former director of Institute for Contemporary History, admitted in a published letter in 1960 that there were no gas chambers in any camp in Germany or Austria.

NORBERT FREI: Orthodox German historian, lead editor of the “Commandant Orders.”

WALTER POST, STEFAN SCHEIL: Prominent dissenting historians of WWII. HENRY MORGENTHAU, LOUIS NIZER: Prominent American Jews in the 1940s, both developed plans (“Morgenthau Plan”; “What to Do With Germany”) for the effective destruction of Germany as a viable European nation.

ERHARD MILCH: Half-Jewish German field marshal, responsible for development and production for the Luftwaffe.

Theodor HERZL: German-Jewish founder of the modern Zionist movement, author of “The Jewish State.”

HANS GRIMM: German author of mid-20th century; his 1954 book “Warum — Woher — aber Wohin?” collects many examples of admiring tributes to Hitler by English authors.

CHRISTOPHER CLARK: Australian historian whose recent history of the origins of WWI, “The Sleepwalkers,” demolishes the notion of Germany’s “sole guilt” for the war.

SEBASTIAN HAFFNER: Traitorous German author (see Weber, “Sebastian Haffner’s 1942 Call for Mass Murder”) who later became a “respectable” historian in post-war Germany. VERSAILLES: The 1919 Treaty of Versailles, which placed “sole guilt” for the outbreak of WWI on Germany.

MEIR MARGALIT: Israeli historian and human rights activist, opposed to misuse of Holocaust narrative to justify Zionist intransigence. NPD: National Democratic Party of Germany (Nationaldemokratische Partei Deutschlands).

FRIEDRICH SCHILLER: 18th-century German poet and dramatist, his “Wallenstein” tells the story of the Thirty Years War general Albrecht Wallenstein.

JAWAHARLAL NEHRU: Indian independence activist and associate of Ghandi; first Prime Minister of post-colonial India.

June 12, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , | Leave a comment