Aletho News


War without mercy in Yemen

Towards the end of Saudi Arabia?

By Sayed Hasan | July 7, 2015

The Saudi-American war against Yemen, led by a coalition of the richest Gulf monarchies (Saudi Arabia, Qatar, UAE, Bahrain, Kuwait, etc. along with their servants like Egypt and Morocco) against the poorest Arab country, enters its fourth month. According to the United Nations, it has killed ​​more than 3,100 and wounded 15,000, displaced 1 million and created 245,000 refugees, and created an unprecedented humanitarian crisis which the United Nations has declared to be on the level of maximum humanitarian alert. Ruthless and indiscriminate strikes target all civilian infrastructure, up to residential areas, markets, granaries, water tanks, hospitals, schools, mosques, and even archaeological remains and tombs – which recalls that the destructive ideology of the Islamic State takes its roots in Saudi Arabia – without sparing civilian convoys fleeing violence. A merciless siege has been imposed in Yemen, a country which imports 90% of its food, and Relief Organizations are prevented from delivering supplies to the country, and even see their workers targeted while providing humanitarian assistance. More than 21 million people (80% of Yemen’s population) are without adequate access to staples and essential services such as food, clean water, medical care, electricity and fuel. Already, it appears that Saudi Arabia has used unconventional weapons (cluster munitions, and perhaps even chemical weapons) and has committed war crimes and perhaps even crimes against humanity.

However, this war remains largely ignored by the mainstream media, both in the West and in the Arab-Muslim world (with the exception of Iran and the media close to Hezbollah in Lebanon). The US sponsors this illegal and criminal military intervention that they provide full support for, putting all their resources at the service of the Gulf monarchies who have acquired the most modern weapons to the tune of $115 billion for the single year 2014: they can therefore destabilise the region without sending their armed forces, conforming to the Obama no-boots-on-the-ground doctrine that favours proxy wars. It is the same for the other NATO member countries – United Kingdom, France, etc., which is not surprising coming from the supporters and apologists of terrorism in Syria. Regarding Riyadh, Wikileaks has recently unveiled the procedure of Saudi censorship of the entire Arab world, between corruption and intimidation. All these actors provide direct support to Al Qaeda and to the Islamic state, which has appeared on the Yemeni scene and is now on the border of Saudi Arabia, their long-time goal. The Saudi blindness seems to know no bounds.

The Saudi assault was not to repel an alleged advance of Iran and/or Shiism, but to break the attempts towards independence of this country that historically has been a vassal of Riyadh. So far, this war has not realised any of its stated objectives. On the contrary, the Yemeni resistance has taken hold of most major Yemen cities, and it takes more and more initiative by carrying the war into the territory of Saudi Arabia, bombing its border towns and attacking its military bases and convoys, and causing dozens of casualties among the Saudi forces – of which the extent of the losses is inviolable military secret. Moreover, the attacks resulted in uniting the country – the regular armed forces of former President Ali Abdullah Saleh, Houthi rebels and other popular committees – behind the slogan “Death to the House of Saud”, an unprecedented development in the Middle East, and revealed both the barbarism of the Wahhabi regime and its vulnerability and powerlessness on the purely military field. Held in check despite the benefit of the steady stream of Western weaponry, Riyadh already sees its influence wane in the Middle East.

In a message to the combatants dated 1st July 2015 – that evokes those of Hassan Nasrallah to Hezbollah fighters during the 2006 war –, Abd-al-Malik al-Houthi, head of the Yemeni resistance, denounced the collusion of the Washington-Tel Aviv-Riyad Axis, denouncing the war and the siege imposed in Yemen as even more barbaric than the Israeli crimes in Gaza. He agrees with the analysis of the Secretary General of Hezbollah, Hassan Nasrallah, who recalled that even the Zionists did not have a systematic policy of targeting hospitals, tombs and archaeological remains. Abd-al-Malik al-Houthi brandished nothing less than the slogan of the holy war against the cradle of Islam, equated to the “devil’s horn”, which is, according to a famous prophetic tradition, an evil heresy called to arise in the Najd region – where Wahhabism emerged. Again, this is an unprecedented development: Saudi Arabia, which, since March 2015, broke with its policy of underground action and now acts without cover, has never been so violently shaken.

Riyadh is now in an impasse: its air campaign is a bitter failure, as was predictable given the six previous offensives since 2004 by the forces of President Saleh (yesterday supported by Saudi Arabia and now allied with the Houthi rebels), which all ended up in a failure, as well as the Israeli experiences in Lebanon and Gaza, which constitutes the perfect model of the Saudi aggression. As for the option of a ground operation, all data indicates that it would be absolutely disastrous and would end with a rout of Saudi forces. But there is no question for the House of Saud, blinded beyond any possible return, of accepting a cease-fire that would be a victory for Yemen; rather it must continue this fanatic war of terror at all costs, by torpedoing all attempts of agreement or truce, at the risk of rushing towards the abyss. As for the forces of the Yemeni resistance, they are far from having exhausted all their possibilities, and multiply the incursions into enemy territory. They could even question its territorial integrity by claiming Yemeni provinces formerly annexed by Saudi Arabia. And as a last resort, they could close the strategic Strait of Bab al-Mandeb – which they are quite capable of –, one of the largest global maritime passages, especially for hydrocarbons, which would have severe global repercussions. If, like Syria, Iraq and Libya, Yemen is threatened with disintegration, Saudi Arabia itself is now on the way to becoming destabilised, and even dismantling.

Will the Saudi crusade push into the Axis of Resistance a new country, Yemen – about which Hassan Nasrallah declared that the awakening and resistant spirit of its people were such that he could without hesitation send 100,000 or 200,000 men to fight Israel? Whatever the case may be, already the Ansarallah movement has reached the extent of a new Hezbollah, and the Saudi war is doomed to failure. It announces with certainty the inevitable fall of the House of Saud, whose Wahhabi ideology and foreign policy have been the cancer of Islam and of the Arab world for decades, and ultimately, the end of the US-Israeli hegemony in the Middle East. More than one of the region’s peoples will rejoice.

Sayed Hasan (contact: )

Translated from French by Jenny Bright

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Gladys We Never Knew

By Nancy Knickerbocker | TheTyee | July 4, 2015

According to the Vital Statistics Act document entitled ”RETURN OF DEATH OF AN INDIAN,” Gladys Chapman was 12 years, 10 months, and 12 days old on April 29, 1931, when she died in Royal Inland Hospital in Kamloops. Occupation of the deceased was listed as ”Schoolgirl.” On her death certificate, Dr. M.G. Archibald reported ”acute dilation of heart” as the cause of death, with tuberculosis as the secondary cause. The duration of death was “several days.”

So, at the end, a little girl named Gladys endured days of fevered suffering — coughing, bleeding, struggling for breath — all alone, far from home, with no loved one to comfort her. She was one of the thousands of children whose deaths are acknowledged and lamented in the landmark report released last month by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission of Canada, a report that describes our country’s treatment of indigenous people as ”cultural genocide.”

The TRC has established a National Residential School Student Death Register that contains the names of 3,200 children though the estimated number of deaths is believed to be more than 6,000. Speaking at the release of the TRC report, Commissioner Marie Wilson asked the audience to empathize with the anguish felt by thousands of parents whose loved ones never came home.

“Parents had their children ripped out of their arms, taken to a distant and unknown place never to be seen again, buried in an unmarked grave, long ago forgotten and overgrown. Think of that. Bear that. Imagine that,” she said.

Gladys’s family members believe she never would have died at such a tender age had she not been forced into the Indian residential school system. A member of the Nlaka’pamux Nation, she was part of a large extended family with deep roots in Spuzzum, a small community on the Fraser River north of Hope. Her relations have a deep awareness of the damage inflicted upon generations of children and families. Gladys’s mother, Matilda, had also been taken to residential school as a girl and she knew all too well what took place there.

”Just imagine how horrible it would have been for parents and grandparents who themselves had lived through residential school abuse, watching their little ones being taken, knowing what they were going to go through,” says Gail Stromquist, Gladys’s niece.

Project of Heart

Gail and her sister Janet, like the vast majority of Canadians both aboriginal and non-aboriginal, grew up with no knowledge of the Indian residential school system. ”We played skip rope and sang the song about how in 1492, Columbus sailed the ocean blue,” Gail said. ”The myth of Columbus’s discovery of the Americas was all we learned in school, nothing about residential schools or the culture of aboriginal people before contact.”

Even though many people in their family and community were living with the terrible legacy of residential schools, the history was so deeply hidden that the sisters only recently learned about the existence of the auntie they never knew. No photos remain of Gladys, and her name was never spoken by her surviving siblings, some of whom have struggled to deal with their own devastating experiences in residential school.

Today, both Stromquist sisters are public school teachers, passionately involved in the kind of reconciliatory educational work that Justice Murray Sinclair called for among the 94 recommendations in the historic TRC report. Janet works as a district teacher for the aboriginal educational program in Langley, and Gail coordinates aboriginal education initiatives for the B.C. Teachers’ Federation. That work includes the Project of Heart, which is ongoing in almost all school districts province-wide and involves teaching and learning about the legacy of residential schools. The most powerful learning takes place when residential school survivors come into classrooms to share their personal experiences with students, who then make works of art in honour of the children who survived and those who never returned home.

The sisters’ need to learn the truth of their own family experience — and their desire to teach the truth about Canadians’ shared history — led them to do extensive research in local archives. It also led them to gently question their relatives about long-buried memories. Little by little, they pieced together Gladys’s story.


Photo of Gladys’s mother Matilda with her husband Charles Stromquist and two of their 10 children, Harold and Helmer, known as Swede.

She was one of five siblings from the same family taken to residential schools. Even though parents risked prison sentences for resisting the mandatory laws that required children be enrolled in residential schools, Glady’s mother Matilda did manage to hide one of her sons from the Indian agent. The boy was in frail health, and she feared he would not survive the deprivation and abuse at school. Despite her best efforts, she couldn’t save all her children.

Widowed at a young age, in 1929 Matilda married a Swedish immigrant named Charles Stromquist, with whom she had a long, happy marriage and 10 more children. ”We have often imagined what a comfort it must have been to Nanny after she married Grandpa Stromquist to know that no more of her children could be taken away from her to residential school,” Gail said.

Cradle of disease

Gladys was taken to Kamloops Residential School, one of the largest in Canada. An imposing brick institution run by Roman Catholic priests and the Sisters of Saint Ann, it operated from 1890 to 1978 with as many as 440 children enrolled at its peak in the 1950s. For girls, mornings were spent in class, while afternoons were spent cleaning or working in the garden or kitchen. They did not get to eat the food they grew and prepared. The boys were taught some carpentry and other trades. All students had heavy religious instruction in English. The children were forbidden to speak their native languages or practise their own spirituality. Families were allowed to visit but they rarely did because of the long distances between school and home.

Conditions in the Kamloops school were atrocious but typical of residential schools across Canada. Neglect and abuse — sexual, physical, emotional and spiritual — were rampant. Many children tried to run away, only to be caught and punished for trying to get home. Some children attempted or committed suicide. But communicable disease was the worst threat. Underfunding, overcrowding, poor sanitary and ventilation systems, inadequate clothing, malnourishment, and a lack of medical care all contributed to epidemic levels of tuberculosis and other illnesses.

The federal government had known for decades that such conditions were killing children but failed to act. In 1907, Canada’s first chief medical health officer, Dr. Peter Henderson Bryce, issued a report that exposed the appalling health standards in residential schools where, on average, TB killed 24 per cent of the children. In one school in the Prairies, the death rate was a staggering 75 per cent. The government suppressed the work of Dr. Bryce, and it wasn’t until 1922 when he retired and could publish his full report, The Story of a National Crime: An Appeal for Justice to the Indians of Canada.

In 2014, the government of British Columbia released to the TRC more than 4,000 documents, including death records for aboriginal children aged four to 19. Many families were never informed of the deaths of their children, some of whom were buried in unmarked graves near the schools.

No one knows how Matilda learned of the death of her daughter, but it is certain that the only reason she was able to bury Gladys in the community cemetery at Spuzzum was that her husband worked for the CPR and could therefore get her body transported home by rail for free. Gladys’s gravestone in what the official records call the ”Spuzzum Indian Burying-ground” reads:

In loving memory of Gladys Chapman
Born June 15, 1918
Died April 29, 1931
Safe in the arms of Jesus

Neither Jesus nor her loving family could save Gladys from the racist and assimilationist policies that destroyed her young life.

The Kamloops Residential School still stands to this day, a decaying reminder of the dark history we all must confront as Canadians. The last residential school in B.C. finally closed its doors in 1984, the last in Canada not until 1996. This is not ancient history. It lives on in memory of thousands of Canadians whose childhood was stolen and whose education was perverted by the government’s determination to ”kill the Indian in the child.”

Janet and Gail Stromquist share Justice Sinclair’s conviction that because education was the primary tool of oppression of aboriginal people and the misleading of all Canadians, education holds the key to reconciliation. They say the most frequent response to their teaching is: ”I never knew about any of this.”

”People have told me that they lived right beside one or another of the schools and never knew what went on there. They went through their entire schooling and never learned anything about this,” Gail says. ”Some of our secondary students get quite angry about it, feeling their education has been censored.”

”We are fortunate in Langley to have a residential school survivor, Josette Dandurand, who is willing to share her story with students,” Janet says. ”Learning directly from a survivor is a powerful and unforgettable experience. We honour the strength and courage of Josette and the many residential school survivors who have come forward to share their stories.”

For the Stromquist sisters, it’s clear that their life’s work will continue to be educating the next generation about the truths of the past, shining a light on the hidden history, giving voice to those who were silenced, and helping create the conditions where true reconciliation can take place.

End note: Gladys’s story and those of other residential school survivors will be published in an extensive learning resource currently being developed by the BCTF. Titled Project of Heart: Illuminating the once-hidden history of Indian residential schools in B.C., it will be available in print and online for use in B.C. schools this fall.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular | | 1 Comment

Hillary Clinton says BDS campaign in US seeking to ‘delegitimize Israel’


Press TV – July 7, 2015

Democratic presidential hopeful Hillary Clinton has censured growing anti-Israeli movements in the United States, saying the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) campaign wants to “isolate and delegitimize Israel.”

The former secretary of state called for suggestions to fight the movement in a letter to Democratic donor Haim Saban and Jewish organization leaders.

“I know you agree that we need to make countering BDS a priority” and to “fight back against further attempts to isolate and delegitimize Israel,” she wrote.

“BDS seeks to punish Israel and dictate how the Israelis and Palestinians should resolve the core issues of their conflict,” she said.

The former first lady also described the campaign as “counterproductive.”

“From Congress and state legislatures to boardrooms and classrooms, we need to engage all people of good faith, regardless of their political persuasion or their views on policy specifics, in explaining why the BDS campaign is counterproductive to the pursuit of peace and harmful to Israelis and Palestinians alike,” she said.

The BDS campaign, which began in 2005, encourages organizations and institutions such as universities and churches to divest from Israel until the fundamental rights of the Palestinians have been recognized.

The boycott campaign called for “various forms of boycott against Israel until it meets its obligations under international law.”

In 2013, two US academic groups — the American Studies Association and the Association for Asian American Studies — supported the boycott.

The movement received backing from one of the largest Protestant churches in the US last week.

The United Church of Christ’s general assembly voted overwhelmingly in favor of divesting funds at its synod in Cleveland.

Clinton also expressed her complete support of Israel if she gets elected president next year.

“Time after time I have made it clear that America will always stand up for Israel — and that’s what I’ll always do as president,” she said in the letter.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Illegal Occupation, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 2 Comments

Colombian President Santos Announces New Military Leadership

teleSUR | July 7, 2015

Colombian President Juan Manuel Santos announced changes to military leadership Monday, with newly appointed heads of the country’s army, navy, and air force.

Santos said changes in command are “normal” and “necessary” procedures within the country’s armed forces.

Santos named General Alberto Mejia as army commander, Admiral Leonardo Santamaria as navy commander, and General Carlos Buenos as air force commander. The government also ratified Juan Pablo Rodriguez as general commander of the military and Rodolfo Palomino as head of the national police.

Santos thanked outgoing commanders Jaime Lasprilla, Hernando Wills, and Guillermo Leon for their service with the army, navy, and air force as he announced the changes.

The military leadership shakeup comes just days after the Colombian government signaled openness to exploring the possibility of a bilateral ceasefire in ongoing peace negotiations with the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), marking a shift from the government’s previous position.

Recently, the armed conflict between government forces and the FARC has escalated as the government stalled on accepting a ceasefire. The FARC suspended its unilateral ceasefire after the government massacre in the Cauca region killed 27 rebels.

The new leadership also comes just two weeks after Luis Carlos Villegas took over as the Colombia’s new minister of defense.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Aletho News | , , | Leave a comment

Palm Oil Industry Tied to Ecocide in Guatemalan River

By Jeff Abbott | Upside Down World | July 6, 2015

The Pasión River in northern Guatemala is a disaster area. Beginning on June 6, residents along the river in the municipality of Sayaxché, Peten, began to find millions of fish, their primary source of food and income, floating dead in the river. Community members quickly accused the Palm firm, Reforestadora de Palma del Peten, S.A (REPSA) of contaminating the river. Communities have called the pollution of their river an “ecocide.”

“Unfortunately, there has been a massive pollution of our river,” said Rigoberto Lima, a community representative from Sayaxché. “We need to put an end to the problem of palm in northern Guatemala.”

The Public Ministry of Guatemala initially declared a red alert on June 11; days after the fish first began to appear floating in the river. The Public Ministry initially confirmed that the disaster was caused by run off of the pesticide Malathion into the river, but in the weeks after, they would take back the accusations against the palm company.

However, these accusations were supported by a toxicological study preformed by University of San Carlos, which found elevated levels of the pesticide, and other agro-chemicals in the river. The report determined that the local palm industry was responsible for the contamination.

The contamination affects 106 kilometers of river, and 65 communities. These poor communities have all been forced to rely more and more on the river for their sustenance because of the expansion of palm in the region.

Communities have called on the government to perform an investigation into the pollution of the river.

Late in the evening of June 23, nearly 45 members of communities along the Pasión River arrived to Guatemala City to denounce the pollution of their river. Following a late afternoon press conference, the community members began a sit-in outside the offices of the Presidential Commission Against Discrimination and Racism in Guatemala City to condemn and repudiate the contamination of their river by the palm company. They also demanded that the company be temporarily shut down for threatening life, and that they be allowed to be involved in the investigation of what occurred in Pasión River in order to ensure transparency.

The following day, members of the Public Ministry visited the encampment. Community members expressed frustration at being treated with disrespect and contempt by the state and the firm.

Denial of Responsibility

On June 17, the company, the mayor of Sayaxché, and community members gathered in Guatemala City to sign a document stating that the company “was not responsible for the death of the fish,” and that there “was no ecocide.” In exchange for the signing of the document, the company agreed to provide the communities with water, the improvement of town streets, and the construction of wells.

The document also states that the company is committed to taking better care of the river, but they stress, “They are not the cause of the killing of fish.”

REPSA is a subsidiary of the powerful Grupo Olmeca, Guatemala’s largest palm oil producer, which is owned by the powerful Molina family. The conglomerate was the first to begin the production of African palm in the late 1980s, and today cultivates nearly 46,000 hectares of land in Escuintla, Ocós in San Marcos, and Coatepeque in Quetzaltenango, and Sayaxché.

Those affected by the pollution do not agree with this declaration.

Continuous Pollution

This isn’t the first time that communities in Guatemala have accused the palm industry of polluting their rivers.

Communities in the Municipality Chisec, Alta Verapaz filled a complaint in the Guatemalan Public Ministry against the Ixcan Palm Company in 2013, for the contamination of their river. The following year, communities in Peten also filed a complaint in the Public Ministry against the pollution of their river. In both cases, the Pubic Ministry failed to investigate the contamination.

“This is not the first time that the fish have died in our rivers,” said Margarita, a representative from the Organization of Women of Alta Verpaz. “In 2013, there was massive death of fish in the rivers of northern Chisec. We have made denouncements against the palm firms in the region.”

The Public Ministry and Environmental ministry have called previous contaminations “accidents,” which have not resulted in new regulations.

The failure of the government ministries to respond to the concerns of the communities has increased frustrations with the expansion of palm across the FRANJA of Guatemala, which stretches from Huehuetenango in the west to Izabal in the east. These frustrations have led communities to demand that the government begin to regulate the industry, and end the expansion.

“The palm companies cannot keep expanding,” said Margarita. “They cannot continue to keep sowing, buying, and accumulating more land. We have demanded that the government put in place a law that caps the amount of land used for palm, and allows for us poor farmers to have access to land.”

Expansion of Palm Across Guatemala

The first palm plants were brought to Guatemala in the late 1980s and have since spread like a virus across Guatemala and Central America. The expansion was strengthened especially in the years after the signing of the Central American Free Trade Agreement, which guaranteed multinational companies with security in their investments into sectors such as palm oil.

The fruit of the palm is a high-yielding oil plant, which has gained a significant importance in the processed food industry. Palm oil production has spread because of the increased demand in the United States and Europe as vegetable oil used in a wide range of products including soaps and waxes, as well as popular food products such as Nutella, and Ben & Jerry’s Chubby Hubby Ice Cream. Increasingly the production has been promoted as a renewable biofuel, which has further brought people into the industry.

The bunches of palm oil berries, commonly called Racimos, contain roughly 2,300 berries, and are harvested by hand. From there they are loaded onto a truck, and taken to the processing plant.

The expansion has exasperated the crisis over land that has historically plagued the region; in Guatemala, 3 percent of the population owns nearly 85 percent of arable land.

According to statistics from the Guatemalan National Bank, production of palm oil has spread by nearly 270 percent since 2006. This expansion has been partially influenced by a campaign by the Guatemalan Ministry of the Economy to attract foreign direct investment. In 2011, the ‘Invest in Guatemala” campaign was launched, in which the ministry claims that “88 percent of fertile land is vacant.”

But as production of palm has expanded, small farmers have been pushed further and further to the margins.

“We need the fish,” said Juan Choy. “We are living without land. People are migrating to Mexico and the United States, and families are disintegrating. Where are we supposed to produce? There is no land. The cost of meat has skyrocketed, and our maize is coming from Mexico.”

Jeff Abbott is an independent journalist currently based out of Guatemala. He has covered human rights, social moments, and issues related to education, immigration, and land in the United States, Mexico, and Guatemala. Follow him on twitter @palabrasdeabajo

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Environmentalism | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

National Plutocrat Radio

Corporate One-Percenters dominate NPR affiliates’ boards

By Aldo Guerrero | FAIR | July 2, 2015

For a public radio service, NPR is notoriously known for its lack of diversity within its staff, audience and guests invited onto their shows—problems that NPR has itself acknowledged.

A new FAIR study finds that NPR’s diversity problem also extends into the board of trustees of its most popular member stations: Two out of three board members are male, and nearly three out of four are non-Latino whites. Fully three out of every four trustees of the top NPR affiliates belong to the corporate elite.

FAIR studied the governing boards of the eight most-listened-to NPR affiliate stations, based on Arbitron ratings (Cision, 2/13/13). The stations and their broadcast regions are KQED (San Francisco), WAMU (Washington, DC), WNYC (New York City), KPCC (Los Angeles), WHYY (Philadelphia), WBUR (Boston), WABE (Atlanta) and WBEZ (Chicago). (Two top-rated public stations, KUSC in Los Angeles and WETA in Arlington, Va., were not included in the study because they mainly play classical music rather than having a news/talk format.) Board members were coded by occupation, ethnicity and gender.

Out of the 259 total board members, 194—or 75 percent—have corporate backgrounds. Many of these board members are executives in banks, investment firms, consulting companies and corporate law firms. Some of the elite corporations include Verizon, Bank of America and Citigroup.

Of the board members with corporate occupations, 66 are executives in the financial industry. Another 22 are corporate lawyers. Eleven other members appear to be board members by virtue of their family’s corporate-derived wealth, usually with a primary affiliation as an officer of a family-run charitable foundation.

Of trustees with non-corporate occupations, academics are the most common, with 18 individuals—just 7 percent of total board members. Thirteen were coded as leaders of nonprofit organizations not affiliated with family-run foundations.

The other non-corporate occupations were represented on NPR boards in the single digits: eight former government officials, five medical doctors, five educators, four station insiders, three current government officials, three religious educators and three non-corporate lawyers. (Three other board members’ occupations could not be categorized.)

Corporate-affiliated board members were a large majority on virtually every board. New York’s WNYC has the most, with 90 percent corporate representation, followed by Boston’s WBUR at 83 percent. The board of Philadelphia’s WHYY is 80 percent corporate-tied, the Bay Area’s KQED is 79 percent, Chicago’s WBEZ is 76 percent and Washington, DC’s WAMU is 73 percent.

Two stations, Southern California’s KPCC and Atlanta’s WABE, are affiliated with educational institutions. Both stations are governed under a partnership agreement where two boards share responsibility: the educational institution’s publicly elected board that holds the station’s broadcast license along with the board of a nonprofit entity that manages the station’s day-to-day operations.

In KPCC‘s case, Pasadena City College’s Board of Trustees is 29 percent corporate-affiliated, with an equal number of academics, while the board of Southern California Public Radio is 71 percent corporate. WABE is governed by the Atlanta Board of Education (44 percent corporate) and the American Educational Telecommunications Collaborative (60 percent corporate).

Although the Pasadena City College board and the Atlanta Board of Education do not have a majority of corporate occupations, corporate occupations are still the most common on each board.

The corporate composition of the NPR affiliate boards are in line with a previous FAIR study that found that the governing boards of leading public television stations—most of which are PBS affiliates—are stacked with 84 percent corporate board members overall (Extra!, 10/14).

NPR president and CEO Jarl Mohn claims he wants to ask “wealthy donors” for more money and double revenue from corporate underwriting to stabilize NPR’s financial status (NPR, 10/17/14). What easier way to accomplish these goals than by having governing boards dominated by wealthy individuals from the corporate sector? Of course, the inevitable consequence of this is to put legal control of what is supposed to be public radio into the hands of a tiny, highly privileged fraction of the population.

As evidenced in stations’ annual fiscal year reports where major donors are listed, many of these wealthy and corporate-connected board members are relied upon to regularly donate thousands of dollars to their respective stations. For example, an executive from Capital Group International sits on their board of KPCC, while the Capital Group Companies Charitable Foundation donates between $100,000-$249,999 to KPCC.

Washington DC’s WAMU was the only station to reveal how much of its revenue specifically comes from corporate underwriting—38 percent (WAMU-FM, 10/8/14). With wealthy donors representing the One Percent class making up a substantial portion of contributions from the “public,” it’s hard to see what essentially distinguishes National Public Radio from its explicitly commercial media counterparts–and what justifies NPR and its affiliates receiving public subsidies via the federally funded Corporation for Public Broadcasting. … Full article

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Social Darwinism, Supremacism | , , | Leave a comment

Goldman Sachs-Supported Solar Company Uses Prison Labor to Make Panels

By Danny Biederman and Noel Brinkerhoff | AllGov | July 7, 2015

A leading maker of solar panels in the United States backed by Goldman Sachs has been using prison labor to help keep its production costs down.

Suniva Inc., based in Georgia, contracts with UNICOR, the name of the 80-year-old Federal Prison Industries, so inmates can assist with the assembly of solar panels.

Company officials told Reuters that prison labor accounts for only a small portion of its manufacturing operations, less than 10%. They say Suniva factories in Georgia and Michigan employing 350 people produce most of the panels. Several hundred inmates make solar panels at prisons in Sheridan, Oregon and Otisville, New York, reported the news organization.

The arrangement is part of a longtime government program said to be designed to prepare inmates for transitioning to life after their release from prison. However, prison workers reportedly earn only between 23 cents and $1.15 per hour, and are required to spend at least half of their UNICOR income to pay off court-ordered financial debts. Furthermore, the prisons apparently provide no job placement assistance for inmates released onto the streets, whose prison records follow them as they seek employment.

The UNICOR program employs about 13,000 prisoners per year and, in 2013, made nearly $610 million.

Relying on cheap labor is nothing new for Suniva, the third-largest producer of solar modules in the U.S., which was using factories in Asia until 18 months ago to keep costs down. Signing a contract with UNICOR has enabled them to transfer their operations to the U.S., according to company sales vice-president Matt Card.

“By making panels in the United States, Suniva has been able to capture lucrative federal contracts, avoid U.S. government tariffs on Chinese-made panels, and appeal to private sector customers who want American-made products,” wrote Reuters Nichola Groom.

The company reportedly earned nearly $100 million in revenue last year.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Economics | , , | 1 Comment

NYPD destroyed evidence in class action lawsuit against department

RT | July 7, 2015

The New York Police Department (NYPD) has destroyed evidence in an ongoing lawsuit against it, which alleges that police use a secret quota system to make arrests, new documents claim.

The class action suit alleges that NYPD Commissioner Raymond Kelly and former Chief of Department Joseph Esposito were secretly applying pressure to officers to issue more arrests after falling short of quotas for traffic offenses and low-level crime, resulting in up to 850,000 wrongful summonses – or written notifications to a party telling them where and when they need to be in court. Some summons cases leave the recipient with a criminal record.

The allegations that a “quota system” for arrests exists at the NYPD are supported by emails, paperwork and text messages. One text message stated:

“We missed seat belt number by 30 last week unacceptable. if need be u guys will go with me 2 traffic stat 2 explain why u missed [sic].”

However, other such records have been destroyed, despite the city agreeing to surrender the information more than a year ago, the New York Post reports, citing a letter filed in the Manhattan federal court by the plaintiffs’ lawyers.

The lawyers claim that they discovered documents by obtaining them from third-party emails, including one of an NYPD captain writing, “This has to stop” when referring to an officer having only one arrest in over 50 hours of overtime.

But when the emails were requested, the city couldn’t produce them, even after searching.

“The production confirms what plaintiffs feared but defendants have repeatedly denied: Defendants have destroyed evidence that is unquestionably relevant to this matter,” plaintiffs’ lawyer Elinor Sutton wrote in a letter, the Post reported.

The letter continues, “It is simply not tenable that Commissioner Kelly and Chief Esposito did not – in the entire period of 2007 through the present – write or receive emails using terms related to the word ‘summons.’”

“The spoliation of this evidence clearly demonstrates Defendants’ bad-faith, grossly negligent, or at least, negligent destruction of relevant documents.”

She added that documents from meetings about crime statistics may have been shredded due to a policy that NYPD officers testified about previously.

The trial is expected to be held early next year.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Corruption, Deception | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Three Scenarios for the Donbass

By Andrey Ivanov* | Fort Russ | July 5, 2015

The specialists from the Russian International Affairs Council headed by the former foreign minister Igor Ivanov described three scenarios for the Donbass: confrontation, freeze, or continuing the peace process. How likely are they?

Life itself forces one to make forecasts. It’s clear that the unrecognized republics with a population of five million won’t be able to exist for long in the current suspended state. On the one hand there is a ceasefire, but the shelling of cities continues. Kiev continues to view Donbass as its territory, but doesn’t transfer money and fences it off with barbed wire. Poroshenko claims to adhere to the Minsk Agreements, but is against the constitutional reforms they require…

The first scenario is confrontation. The Council experts are of the opinion that full-scale combat operations can’t be ruled out. Kiev might decide to launch a new offensive with US support. Then the Donbass would suffer the fate of Serb Krajina which Croatia reconquered by force in 1995. It’s also possible that we’ll see the repetition of the events of August 2008 in South Ossetia. Russia was then forced to intervene militarily and then recognize the territory’s independence.

The second scenario is a peaceful resolution of the conflict. Analysts believe this is the least likely scenario. It would require the removal of anti-Russian sanctions and West’s recognition of Crimea’s unification with Russia.

The most likely is the third scenario–freezing the conflict. Ukraine doesn’t have the necessary resources to score a military victory, while Russia is not ready to acknowledge their independence. World powers will continue to exchange military warnings but there will be no heavy loss of life…

–Donbass’ return to Ukraine is hardly possible. Especially considering how Kiev views its inhabitants. Kiev wants to “integrate” Donbass using artillery–says the Moscow State University Center for Ukrainian and Belorussian Studies Director Bogdan Bezpalko–Donbass integration with Ukraine would only be possible in the event of its military defeat which might occur should the conflict escalate.

In actuality, the fate of Donbass depends mainly on major world players: US, EU, Russia. They can influence Ukraine’s elite and its relationship with Donbass.

The situation may develop in several ways. The majority of them are unfavorable. Both for Donbass, Ukraine, Russia, and even the West. Modeling the situation depends on the nature of relations between Russia and the West. Therefore the scenarios may change from quarter to quarter. Or even more frequently.

Svobodnaya Pressa (SP): Are DPR and LPR viable?

–Yes, but only as long as Russia helps them. They are of limited viability as independent states. Incidentally, they never aspired to an independent geopolitical role. DPR and LPR are states which depend on Russia’s support. Just as South Ossetia and Abkhazia did earlier, whose official recognition by Moscow was of considerable help.

SP: Can the republics share the fate of Serb Krajina?

–It all depends on Russia’s position. If Russia helps LPR/DPR, including through military assistance, that scenario is out of the question. One has to keep in mind Ukraine would have to expend considerable resources to break Donbass resistance. Moreover, Krajina did not enjoy the support by either Serbia or by Republika Srpska, which was the Serb state in Bosnia. Abandoned to its fate, the Krajina became easy prey for the Croat army which was well trained by the US. But if DPR and LPR have Russia’s support, retain control over the border with Russia, it won’t share Krajina’s fate. Moreover, Donbass republics have their own record of success against the UAF. The Ilovaysk and Debaltsevo “cauldrons” showed how effective LPR and DPR armies are.

SP: How justified are the hopes that the Ukrainian state will soon collapse?

–Ukraine is descending into a state of socio-economic collapse. This is what makes it different from Croatia, a country with a small population which received powerful financial support from the West. Ukraine has a population of 40 million which is rapidly aging. Industry is degrading. Ukraine is a country on the brink of an abyss. It simply won’t have the resources for military operations. I’d like to remind that the Croatian operation Storm against Krajina took only a few days, but after a lengthy preparation. Therefore even though the operation was costly, its effects were perceptible. Ukraine, on the other hand, is conducting its ATO, it’s spending a lot of money, it’s in the midst of the sixth wave of mobilization. Donbass, which has nothing left to lose, may soon turn out the winner. If it establishes cooperation with Russia, restores control over the port of Mariupol, it will be able to restore its economy and social well-being. DPR and LPR would turn out to be more successful as states than Ukraine.
I want to note that Ukraine’s problems are not due to a bad starting position in economy, culture, human resources. Ukraine in 1991 had colossal resources which were squandered in the most incompetent fashion, which were stolen after independence. This shows how Ukraine’s leaders view its sovereignty. Ordinary people haven’t gained anything out of independence other than impoverishment, depopulation, and aggressive nationalism.

–The current peace plan, based on Minsk Agreements, is unviable–says Geopolitical Problems Academy Vice President Konstantin Sokolov–The agreements pertain only to the separate parts of LPR and DPR and only regulate the relationship along the frontline. What is more, Kiev is actively torpedoing the agreements. Therefore the conflict can only be resolved through an armed clash. What form will it take? Kiev planned an offensive for May, but it was thwarted. Ukraine today is the center of attention of US, EU, and Russian foreign policy. It’s clear that the offensive would encounter political resistance by BRICS and Shanghai Organization countries.

Right now Ukraine is in a state of unstable balance. There are large groups of foreign mercenaries in the country. But will Kiev decide on a major attack? I think that will become clear by the end of summer.

In my view, the West is coming around to the idea of blaming all the crimes on Poroshenko’s team. It could be replaced by other people.

The state of balance will continue for some time. But ultimately the situation will resolve itself through a social explosion in Ukraine. The country is almost bankrupt and the inconveniences of the war are growing more acute. A group of senior military officers recently defected to the republics. It means that the Kiev regime is losing control even over its means of violence.

SP: But Ukraine is continuing to exist, in spite of the dire forecasts.

–Up to 2004, up to the first “orange revolution”, Ukraine compared well to other post-Soviet republics. Now its living conditions are falling to a level which for some might be below the threshold of survival. If earlier one could have patience, today it’s impossible.

The default could be used by the West to change the country’s leadership.

SP: How will the situation unfold?

–The most likely outcome is Ukraine’s break-up into parts. There are forces in the West interested in seeing it happen. In general, the West’s strategy revolves around breaking up countries. We’ve seen it in Yugoslavia, Libya, Syria. But I wouldn’t draw analogies between Donbass and Krajina or South Ossetia. Donbass is a big region, therefore it’s of greater significance. One also mustn’t forget Russia cannot stand aside in this conflict. I believe that ultimately the West’s strategy will suffer a defeat. National forces in Russia and Ukraine always rise up when the situation is on the brink. Ukraine is the trigger that will change the global strategic situation.

–In order to make forecasts, one first need to examine the present–says Novorossia State-Building Committee Chairman Vladimir Rogov–Poroshenko introduced legislation proposing not decentralization, but legalizing the unfolding lawlessness. The president would get the authority to fire elected officials, which he currently doesn’t have.

On the other hand, we see growing conflicts within the ruling Ukrainian elite. The US are preparing Lvov mayor Sadovyy and former SBU head Nalivaichenko as Poroshenko’s replacements. If Sadovyy comes to power, Ukraine will get a “soft”, Baltic, version of nationalism. If Nalivaichenko, Ukraine will become a “euro-ISIS.”
The new head of the SBU is Vasiliy Gritsak who’s devoted to Poroshenko but utterly incompetent. It’s enough to recall his contribution to the Ilovaysk disaster! Poroshenko is trying to place loyal individuals in key positions. And those who have nowhere to run.

Nevertheless, the “main rat” of Ukraine’s politics Yuriy Lutsenko submitted his resignation from the Poroshenko Block chairman in the Rada. We remember that Lutsenko changed his party affiliation more than once. He always left this or that part on the event of its loss of influence.

SP: Can the Donbass wait long enough to see Ukraine collapse?

–We must wait until the Kiev elite falls apart. There is no doubt that Odessa, Kharkov, Zaporozhye, Lvov, will see the founding of their own people’s republics. Donbass simply needs to get stronger, restore its economy, and push the front line far enough so that the UAF can’t shell its big cities. Soon the people in Kiev and Lvov will be able to free their lands from the current authorities.

SP: What influence do world powers have on the situation in the Donbass?

–We are entering the phase of direct interaction between the major international players: Russia and US. But the most important thing is that DPR and LPR model is more attractive than Ukraine. People’s republics have far lower utility rates. People in Ukraine will gradually realize that the Donbass has a more just state than they do.

*Translated from Russian by J.Hawk

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Constitutional maneuvering in Ukraine to deny recognition of Donetsk and Lugansk republics and sabotage Minsk-2

New Cold War | July 6, 2015

The Donetsk and Lugansk People’s Republics have announced they will hold local elections on October 18 and November 1, respectively. The two dates surround announced local elections to take place in Ukraine on October 25.

Prime Minister of the Donetsk People’s Republic Aleksandr Zakharchenko made his announcement on July 2. According to UNIAN News, heads of cities and districts will be elected. No decision on the election of members of local councils has been made yet.

Lugansk People’s Republic Prime Minister Igor Plotnitsky announced on July 6 that similar local elections will take place there on November 1.

Interfax reports Zakharchenko as explaining, “In today’s situation, which emerged through Kyiv’s fault, the Donetsk People’s Republic has to independently start to implement the Minsk agreements in order to rescue them.

“We will begin acting immediately, without waiting for Kyiv to come to its senses and return to real, not fake, talks, because any further procrastination and delays will benefit only the Ukrainian party of war.”

Plotnitsky’s statement said, “Recently, we concluded that Ukraine doesn’t intend to abide by its commitments. Kiev either breaks or pretends to execute the provisions of the Minsk Agreement. The Verkhovna Rada issues bills not consistent with our draft documents on matters affecting the Donbass. To date, they’ve refused to define the special status of the LPR, nor have they even begun to write the laws embodying that special status. Besides that, with each passing day, Kiev intensifies its blockade of the LPR.”

“From such a perspective, we decided to begin a unilateral implementation of the Minsk Agreement regarding local elections in the LPR.”

The two prime ministers are referring to the failure of the Kyiv government to respect clauses of the Minsk-2 ceasefire agreement of Feb. 12, 2015 requiring dialogue with the rebel regions of Donetsk and Lugansk as well as a decentralization of powers to them.

The announcements by the two people’s republics administrations are in response to an elaborate scheme by the government of Ukrainian President Petro Poroshenko to dodge the key provisions of Minsk-2 requiring talks and constitutional change.

Back in May, at the eighth Kiev Security Forum, Poroshenko and Ukraine’s prime minister made it clear they will not engage in talks. “We will hold a dialogue with Donbass, but with the other Donbass, a Ukrainian one,” Poroshenko said. He went on, “We must ensure fair elections.”

Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk said his government would never talk to the current representatives in Donbas. “We will communicate only with the legitimate representatives of this region, we want to hold legitimate elections there.”

Yatsenyuk provocatively said his government would talk to leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics “only when they are behind bars”. He added, “By the way, we have got enough empty prison cells.”

Instead of talks, the Ukraine government convened a Constitutional Commission in April. That body is set to deliver its draft report to the Verkhovna Rada this week. It will propose some cosmetic decentralization changes, but crucially, the changes will deny any present or future recognition of the Donetsk and Lugansk republics. The constitutional changes will be sold to international public opinion as proof of compliance with Minsk-2.

Poroshenko earlier announced local elections for October 25 as part of the scheme. Donetsk and Lugansk republics will, of course, refuse to allow a government in Kyiv waging war on them to conduct elections on their territories. This will be sold as proof of their intransigence and impossibility of dialogue with them.

TASS reports Zakharchenko saying in his July 2 announcement that Kiev’s unilateral actions on adopting amendments to Ukraine’s constitution serve as evidence that “the Kiev regime has de facto exited the Minsk peace process”.

“Under the circumstances,” he said, “the Donetsk People’s Republic has to start implementing the Minsk agreements itself in order to save them.”

The following day, the DPR head responded to an orchestrated statement by U.S. Vice-President Joseph Biden criticizing the Oct. 18 election decision. Zakharchenko said, reports TASS, “The U.S. Vice President has most likely not studied the issue thoroughly. I doubt that he has even read the Minsk package of measures. And Poroshenko is distorting facts as usual.”

He continued, “If Biden is really concerned about the future of the Minsk accords, than he should make Poroshenko and Groysman [Speaker of the Verkhovna Rada] implement them.”

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov issued a statement on July 3 saying his government is deeply disappointed with what it calls the failure of the Ukrainian government to respect provisions of Minsk-2. He said, “Russia is deeply concerned about Kiev’s inability and unwillingness to fulfill its commitments to coordinate with Donetsk and Lugansk modalities of conducting local elections and its inability to attract representatives of the self-proclaimed republics to drawing up a new constitution.”

Lavrov said that Poroshenko’s and Yatsenyuk’s government has written a new, draft constitution without participation of Donetsk and Lugansk representatives. This “does not fulfill any of the requirements of the Minsk agreements with regard to this document.”

The draft “does not reflect the tasks of ensuring a special status for these territories on a permanent basis and does not reflect the tasks of decentralization of power,” as envisaged in the peace deal reached in the Belorussian capital in February.

July 7, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , | Leave a comment