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Goldman Sachs: Just 5 Billion dollar Fine Compared to 13 Billion Dollar Taxpayer Bailout

By Craig Murray | April 11, 2016

Goldman Sachs aggressively sold sub-prime packages to investors as a first class product, while at the same time laying equally aggressive bets that those packages would fail. That is not my analysis; it is one of the things they have admitted as part of the deal in the United States that means that, in return for a 5 billion dollar fine, yet again no corrupt and fraudulent bankers are going to jail.

The ultimate irony is that the 5 billion dollar fine is dwarfed by the 13 billion dollar taxpayer bailout they received after the banks’ immoral antics caused massive economic collapse. So the net result of their appalling behaviour has been that they collect not only the profit from those bets the system would collapse, but an eight billion dollar net payment from ordinary taxpayers thrown in. Which eight billion dollars has been just a contribution to the bonuses and partner remuneration which have continued to bulge in their over-stuffed pockets since 2008, uninterrupted by the crash, thanks to the generosity of poor taxpayers struggling to balance their personal budgets.

This is a description of the position of Goldman Sachs in the United States, but it sums up the entire banking crisis worldwide and its result in the punishment of entirely the wrong people, and the continued rewards enjoyed by the crooks.

Due to new media (of which this blog is one atom in a mighty sea) public awareness of what is happening is growing, as is the desire for popular resistance to the super-rich. But they are not surrendering control any time soon. Which is why the call for Clinton to release the transcripts of the extravagantly paid talks she gave to Goldman Sachs is more than a question of political openness. It goes to the heart of the rot in the system.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception | , | 1 Comment

Russia Regrets Certain Countries’ Unwillingness to Ratify Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty

Sputnik – 11.04.2016

Russia regrets that a number of countries, including those trying to position themselves as global leaders, have yet to ratify the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty, the Russian President said Monday.

Moscow calls on world leaders to join the treaty and prohibit nuclear explosive tests, Vladimir Putin stressed.

“The unwillingness of these countries to become full parties to the treaty is cause for serious regret, especially given the fact that some of them claim to be leaders and to practically hold special powers in dealing with global security issues. We again call on their leaders to show real political will and join CTBT as soon as possible,” Putin said in a statement.

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in September 1996.

All five nuclear weapons states as recognized by the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons — the United States, China, Russia, France and the United Kingdom, are signatories to the treaty.

The treaty, aiming to create a legally binding prohibition on nuclear explosive tests for all its parties, will enter into force when China, Egypt, India, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the United States ratify it.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Marking Brazil’s Brutal US-Backed Military Coup 52 Years Later

teleSUR – March 31, 2016

As the possibility of a new threat against democracy looms over Brazil in the form of an unlawful impeachment against leftist President Dilma Rousseff, Brazilians remember a coup that kicked off a brutal 20-year-long military dictatorship. Similar military coups would follow in Bolivia, Chile, Uruguay, and Argentina. Together with the support of the U.S. government and Paraguay, under General Alfredo Stroessner, the region would organize Operation Condor, a political repression and terror campaign to suppress opposition to their governments.

The following is an excerpt from the Brazil chapter of the book “Latin America’s Turbulent Transitions: The Future of 21st Century Socialism,” by Roger Burbach, Michael Fox, and Federico Fuentes (Zed Books, 2013).

In 1964, the Brazilian military dictatorship rolled in like a bad dream. President Joao Goulart fled to Uruguay, and with him went the hopes of progressive reforms. The first of 17 military decrees, or Institutional Acts, were issued.

Institutional Act 5, decreed by military president Artur da Costa e Silva on December 13, 1968, suspended habeas corpus and disbanded Congress. Inspired by the 1959 Cuban Revolution, and insurgent guerrilla movements in Argentina, Colombia, Guatemala, Peru, Uruguay, and Venezuela, Communist Party militants went underground and formed armed movements against the dictatorship, including the National Liberation Alliance and the Popular Revolutionary Vanguard, which would later become the Revolutionary Armed Vanguard Palmares or VAR-Palmares.

Dissidents were tracked down, arrested, imprisoned, tortured, disappeared, or worse. According to the 2007 report from the Brazilian government’s Special Commission on Murders and Political Disappeared entitled “The Right to Memory and the Truth,” 475 people were disappeared during the 20-year-long military dictatorship. Thousands were imprisoned and roughly 30,000 were tortured. More than 280 different types of torture were inflicted on “subversives” at 242 clandestine torture centers, by hundreds of individual torturers.

Current Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff was at the time a student activist who became active in the VAR-Palmares (among other guerrilla groups). She was captured by the Brazilian military on January 16, 1970, tortured, and imprisoned for two and a half years, for participating with the guerrillas. Within a few years the armed resistance to the Brazilian dictatorship had been largely eliminated.

Meanwhile U.S.-Brazilian relations became tighter than ever, as the United States worked to turn Brazil into a “success story” in the fight against communism. According to a five-and-a-half-year, 5,000-page investigation into the human rights violations of the dictatorship, entitled “Brasil Nunca Mais” (Brazil Never Again), CIA agents, such as U.S. officer Dan Mitrione, actively trained hundreds of Brazilian military and police officers in torture techniques, or what they called the “Scientific Methods to Extract Confessions and Obtain the Truth.” Several documented accounts reveal that Mitrione tested his techniques on street kids and homeless beggars from the streets of Belo Horizonte. Many of these techniques would be replicated across the region through the U.S.-sponsored Plan Condor, as Brazil’s neighbors also fell to military dictatorships.

This was the direction that the United States hoped the region would turn. Internationally, the military dictatorship broke off relations with Cuba and the Soviet block, and steered the country back into the U.S. sphere of influence (Cuba-Brazilian relations wouldn’t be resumed until 1986).

“Never had there been such ideological convergence with the United States,” wrote the former Brazilian Ambassador to the United States (1991–93), Ruben Ricupero, “not just in the perceived continuity and Cold War dangers, but in the acceptance of North American leadership and the feeling among Brazilian leaders that this was an inseparable and defining element in the internal struggle against communist subversion.”

Domestically, encouraged by the United States, Brazil liberalized its economy, pushed to increase exports, and opened up for foreign investment, but the economic model didn’t stick. Military President Costa e Silva steered the country back towards the import substitution model that would carry through the rest of the dictatorship. Meanwhile, ideologically, Brazilian military leaders continued their fight against the communist threat that would often place them even further to the right than U.S. officials.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Subjugation - Torture, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Drone kill list: Parliament deceived on ‘medieval assassination’ program

RT | April 11, 2016

Parliament has been deceived by the Conservative government on the scope and details of Britain’s unauthorized drone assassination program, according to a new report by the human rights NGO Reprieve.

The authors argue in the opening commentary that the “revelations in this report demonstrate that parliament has been misled” and that current scope of investigation into the issue is too “narrow.”

Published Sunday, the report makes a number of startling assertions. It claims the kill list – also known as the Joint Prioritized Effects List (JPEL) – conflates drug enforcement and counterterrorism.

It also says UK police units have helped the US military find targets for assassination and that unrepresentative examples of die-hard extremists are being cited to mask the human impact of drone warfare.

War on everything

The investigation warns that under the auspices of the UK’s targeted killing policy the ‘War on Terror’ is being merged with the ‘War on Drugs,’ with people other than suspected terrorists being killed by drones.

It alleges there may have been up to 50 Afghan drug traffickers on the list since 2009 and that UK police officers working for the Serious and Organised Crime Agency (SOCA) worked with electronic intelligence agency GCHQ and Britain’s Joint Narcotics Analysis Centre to pick out targets.

Skewed

Reprieve’s study claims the UK government has used particularly extreme examples to justify its drone policy, in the same way that the death penalty in the US has been justified by pointing to the most extreme killers.

It cites the example of Prime Minister David Cameron’s announcement on September 15, 2015, when he said that a UK drone strike had killed jihadist Reyaad Khan in Syria. Reprieve claims this was used to spin the reality of drone warfare.

“History teaches us that it has always been easiest for advocates of the death penalty to sell their case to some by highlighting the face of a serial killer who is captured on film committing his atrocities,” the report says.

This, the NGO claims, is not reflective of the demographic most profoundly affected by drone warfare, instead arguing that drones are “far from the marvelously precise killing machines” they are marketed as. It claims up to nine innocent children have been killed in pursuit of a “High Value Target.”

Medieval

The report warns against assassination as a tool of policy. It lauds those Conservative politicians who criticized Tony Blair’s government for “complicity” in the US torture program, but adds “if this government now seeks to drag the UK back to medieval times with an assassination project, it is only right that it should be fully discussed with parliament and the public.”

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Timeless or most popular, Video, War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

China Acquires Israeli Dead Sea Cosmetics Company for $77 Million

Sputnik – April 11, 2016

On Sunday, Vice President and CEO of Fosun Group, Liang Xinjun, signed an agreement to purchase Ahava with Executive Director of Gaon Holdings Guy Regev. The deal amounted to $77 million.

The ceremony took place in the presence of high-ranking Israeli officials at the David Citadel Hotel in Jerusalem and was witnessed by Israeli government officials and representatives of both companies.

Under the terms of the agreement, Fosun will acquire the holdings from all Ahava’s shareholders including Gaon Holdings, Shamrock Israel Growth Fund Advisors, Kibbutz Mitzpe Shalem, and Kibbutz Kalia.

Vice-President of Fosun, Liang Xinjun, said he was pleased with the results of agreement and hopes to bring Ahava into the Chinese market.

Chinese companies and corporations have been active in the Israeli market over the last few years. In 2011, China National Chemical Corporation acquired Adama, which produces pesticides, for a price of $2.4 billion and in 2015 the Chinese company Bright Food acquired a controlling stake in Israel’s largest producer Tnuva, which is heavily involved in dairy goods.

In addition, China is already the world’s largest importer of cosmetics and health products based on minerals from the Dead Sea.

Experts believe that China’s geopolitical presence in Israel will only continue to grow. In particular, due to the construction of the state-owned China Harbor seaport of Ashdod on the Mediterranean Sea.

The country’s first private port will not appear before 2021. The project cost is estimated at over one billion dollars. The purpose of the project is to connect Ashdod with the southern Israeli city of Eilat and transport goods to Europe, bypassing the Suez Canal.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Aletho News | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Arrest arms dealers, not peace campaigners!’ 8 on trial over weapons fair protest

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RT | April 11, 2016

Eight activists are standing trial at Stratford Magistrates Court for disrupting the world’s biggest arms fair, held in London, where deadly merchandise was marketed to repressive regimes such as Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Azerbaijan.

The campaigners blocked the road leading to the Defence & Security Equipment International (DSEI) in Stratford, London, last September, preventing tanks and weaponry from entering.

The defendants are using a defense of necessity, insisting their actions were justified because they intended to prevent greater crimes taking place around the world.

These include: “The sale of weapons to internally repressive regimes, including Bahrain and Saudi Arabia; the sale of weapons to countries imminently at war and overtly complicit in ongoing war crimes in Yemen, Kurdistan and Palestine; the sale of weapons to regimes that have been widely accused of arming ISIS [Islamic State or IS]; the promotion for sale of weapons that are designed specifically for torture or banned under international law for their capabilities concerning the mass indiscriminate killing of civilians.”

The DSEI arms fair is held every two years in London, and is regularly attended by representatives from repressive regimes. It has also previously provided a platform for weapons dealers to illegally promote arms that are used for torture.

Last September’s event featured stalls from more than 1,500 exhibitors, including arms giants Lockheed Martin, BAE systems, Finmeccanica and others.

Protestors sought to disrupt the fair by locking their bodies together to block access roads outside the Excel Centre, where the fair was held. Several were arrested.

Some protestors, such as Vyara Gylsen – who was arrested after writing a slogan on a military vehicle with a washable marker pen – have since seen criminal charges against them dropped.

The defendants in court this week include Isa Al Aali, a Bahraini activist who was tortured during the Arab Spring uprising in Bahrain.

Green Party activists Angela Ditchfield and Tom Franklin are also among the eight appearing in court.

“The government is supporting and facilitating the sale of weapons that are being used to kill ordinary people, from the West Bank to Yemen and Sudan,” Franklin, 57, of York, said.

“This week we will put the arms trade in the dock and highlight the crimes that the government and the companies at DSEI are complicit in. Arrest arms dealers, not peace campaigners.”

The defendants will be supported by expert witnesses, including former South African MP Andrew Feinstein, who resigned from parliament in 2001 in protest at the government’s refusal to investigate a £5 billion (US$7.12 billion) arms deal.

Amnesty International UK’s Oliver Sprague, who heads up the charity’s arms Control and Policing division, will also give oral evidence, as will Bahrain Institute for Rights and Democracy director Sayed Ahmed, who seeks to improve accountability in the repressive Gulf state.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Switzerland Ready to Mediate Ukraine Crisis – Swiss Foreign Minister

Sputnik – 11.04.2016

Switzerland’s neutrality in the east Ukrainian crisis puts it in a position to mediate the conflict in order to bridge the gap between all parties involved, Swiss Foreign Minister Didier Burkhalter said Monday.

“The vision of Switzerland is not that of the Kremlin or that of Ukraine. It is the vision of the Swiss government. Switzerland believes we can play a role of the bridge, and… we are able to discuss the conflict situation with everyone,” Burkhalter said after a meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov.

Burkhalter said it was important to look for a solution instead of playing a blame game. He admitted there were differences between Moscow and Bern on the issue but underscored the importance of finding a way out of the Ukrainian crisis together.

“On Ukraine, I want to say that we do not agree on every issue with Russia, there are differences, but it does not prevent us from cooperation and looking for attempts to find a solution,” Burkhalter said.

The OSCE Special Monitoring Mission to Ukraine (SMM) said last week it had registered a spike in violence in the Donetsk region. It also continued to note the presence and use of proscribed weapons within the agreed security zone in eastern Ukraine.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | | Leave a comment

Last day of demolition order leaves Palestinian family in fear of losing their home

International Solidarity Movement | April 10, 2016

Jerusalem, Occupied Palestine – The 10th of April is the last day of the demolition order on the home of the Totanji family. The family lives in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz, a village in East Jerusalem near the Old City, which Israel has declared as a ‘National Park’ area. This despite it having always been a residential area. The family received the demolition order over a year and a half years ago, but lost the appeal against the order last month. Today is the last day of the demolition order, which leaves the family fearing that their house maybe demolished tonight.

The house is single-story with 4 bedrooms. However, it is currently the home of 16 people including a 7 month old baby, the granddaughter of the owner of the house. As is the case with other Palestinian families in fear of house demolition, the family does not have any where else to go, and will leave their whole life behind if their house is demolished. Just seven months ago, one of Totanji sons had his house demolished in the same area. This fear of losing one’s home does not just apply to the Totanjis, but also to the rest of the residents in Palestine, due to the huge number of demolitions and demolition orders. In just the last week (31st March-6th April) 14 houses have been demolished in East Jerusalem and the West Bank by Israeli Forces.

Wadi al-Joz is located directly outside the Old City of Jerusalem in a vulnerable area. It is a neighbourhood that suffers from many demolition orders and subsequent demolitions. This is due to Israel declaring parts of the area around the Old City in Jerusalem as a ‘National Park’, to “protect the historical land.” The area covers a huge residential areas containing villages which are already overcrowded including Wadi al-Joz. In addition to the Totanjis, 13 other families in the Sawaneh district in Wadi al-Joz are also in danger of demolition. The information regarding the so called ‘National Park’ was only relayed to these families in the past two years. And whilst Israeli authorities claim that it was declared a park more than 4 decades ago, regardless, this declaration concerning annexed territory is in direct violation of international law.

The family is seeking an international presence to defer the demolition and deter the Israeli authorities. Internationals will be in the house from this evening and for the foreseeable future to prevent the demolition. There is a press conference planned tomorrow morning, 11am on the 11th of April 2016, to announce the opening of a protest tent outside the Totanji family house. The families and the community of Wadi al-Joz invites everyone to attend the protest and to lend coverage to this important event.

Address:

Wadi Al-Joz, neighbourhood of East Jerusalem

Across the Fire Station, behind the Central Market or “Hisbi”

Directions:

From Damascus Gate, follow the Old City Wall towards the Mount of Olives and continue down into Wadi Al-Joz. The home is on a dirt road on the right before you begin to go up the hill to the Mount of Olives. It is about 10-15 minute walk from Damascus Gate. Alternatively, you can drive down from the Mount of Olives past the Ibrahimiya School. The dirt road is on the left at the bottom of the hill just opposite the paved road that goes right into Wadi al-Joz.

Contacts:

Totanji family contact

Aref Tatanji: +972-(0)-508-133-590 (Arabic)

Press conference contact

Nureddin Amro: +972-(0)-525-271-587 (Arabic and English)

ISM media contact

Josephine: +972-(0)-59-740-6401(English)

Further reading:

http://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-destroying-palestinian-homes-path-bible-trail-encircling-jerusalem-1585955449

Background about home demolitions:

House demolitions in International Humanitarian Law (Diakonia)

East Jerusalem: Key Humanitarian Concerns (UN OCHA, August 2014)

The Absentee Property Law in East Jerusalem and Its Implementation: A Legal Guide and Analysis (Norwegian Refugee Council, 2013)

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Solidarity and Activism | , , , , | 1 Comment

As Ukraine Collapses, Europeans Tire of US Interventions

By Ron Paul | April 10, 2016

On Sunday Ukrainian prime minister Yatsenyuk resigned, just four days after the Dutch voted against Ukraine joining the European Union. Taken together, these two events are clear signals that the US-backed coup in Ukraine has not given that country freedom and democracy. They also suggest a deeper dissatisfaction among Europeans over Washington’s addiction to interventionism.

According to US and EU governments – and repeated without question by the mainstream media – the Ukrainian people stood up on their own in 2014 to throw off the chains of a corrupt government in the back pocket of Moscow and finally plant themselves in the pro-west camp. According to these people, US government personnel who handed out cookies and even took the stage in Kiev to urge the people to overthrow their government had nothing at all to do with the coup.

When Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was videotaped bragging about how the US government spent $5 billion to “promote democracy” in Ukraine, it had nothing to do with the overthrow of the Yanukovich government. When Nuland was recorded telling the US Ambassador in Kiev that Yatsenyuk is the US choice for prime minister, it was not US interference in the internal affairs of Ukraine. In fact, the neocons still consider it a “conspiracy theory” to suggest the US had anything to do with the overthrow.

I have no doubt that the previous government was corrupt. Corruption is the stock-in-trade of governments. But according to Transparency International, corruption in the Ukrainian government is about the same after the US-backed coup as it was before. So the intervention failed to improve anything, and now the US-installed government is falling apart. Is a Ukraine in chaos to be considered a Washington success story?

This brings us back to the Dutch vote. The overwhelming rejection of the EU plan for Ukrainian membership demonstrates the deep level of frustration and anger in Europe over EU leadership following Washington’s interventionist foreign policy at the expense of European security and prosperity. The other EU member countries did not even dare hold popular referenda on the matter – their parliaments rubber-stamped the agreement.

Brussels backs US bombing in the Middle East and hundreds of thousands of refugees produced by the bombing overwhelm Europe. The people are told they must be taxed even more to pay for the victims of Washington’s foreign policy.

Brussels backs US regime change plans for Ukraine and EU citizens are told they must bear the burden of bringing an economic basket case up to European standards. How much would it cost EU citizens to bring in Ukraine as a member? No one dares mention it. But Europeans are rightly angry with their leaders blindly following Washington and then leaving them holding the bag.

The anger is rising and there is no telling where it will end. In June, the United Kingdom will vote on whether to exit the European Union. The campaign for an exit is broad-based, bringing in conservatives, populists, and progressives. Regardless of the outcome, the vote should be considered very important. Europeans are tired of their unelected leaders in Brussels pushing them around and destroying their financial and personal security by following Washington’s foolish interventionism. No one can call any of these recent interventions a success and the Europeans know it.

One way or the other, the US empire is coming to an end. Either the money will go or the allies will go, but it cannot be sustained. The sooner the American people demand an end to these foolish policies the better.

April 11, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , | Leave a comment