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Austria’s New Coalition Betrays on CETA Trade Agreement

By F. William Engdahl – New Eastern Outlook – 28.05.2018

US President Trump told the world his government rejects negotiations on the highly controversial TTIP (Trans-Atlantic Trade and Investment Partnership). Citizen groups and EU opponents of the Obama comprehensive trade agreement breathed a sigh of relief. Too little attention has been given to the agreement reached between Canada and CETA, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (German: Umfassendes Wirtschafts- und Handelsabkommen), sometimes called the Canada-EU Trade Agreement. Secretly and behind any public open discussion, the largest global multinational corporations are moving the world closer to a top-down corporate dictatorship, a 21st Century version of Mussolini’s Corporativism. A major potential roadblock to CETA approval has now fallen in Austria under a new populist coalition government of Sebastian Kurz.

Legally the CETA must be approved by the national parliaments in a majority of the 28 EU member states before becoming operative. Now it comes out that Sebastian Kurz’s populist Austrian coalition, after campaigning on a platform of NO to CETA and TTIP, secretly agreed late in 2017 to renege on their election campaign promises opposing CETA as a precondition for the refugee-critical conservative Austrian People’s Party (ÖVP) of Sebastian Kurz as Chancellor, to be able to form a coalition government with the right populist FPÖ. It represents a major betrayal of Austrian voters as well as of the future of EU sovereign national laws on environment, health and safety. But it gets worse.

In terms of the legitimacy of the Austrian elections in October 2017, the coalition FPÖ party campaigned hard against any acceptance of the multinational CETA trade deal. It promised a Swiss-style “direct democracy” referendum process of citizen vote on issues where a substantial number of citizen petitions warranted such. In their election campaign the FPÖ promised repeatedly such slogans as ”with us no CETA” and “… CETA only with a peoples’ referendum.”

Pre-election polls showed that 72% of Austrians opposed both the TTIP and the closely-related CETA on grounds it would damage Austrian small and mid-size businesses to the advantage of global multinationals. Citizen groups gathered an impressive 562,000 signatures opposing both CETA and TTIP before the election.

Only days following the election, on November 21, 2017, the FPÖ showed signs of retracting that opposition when they surprised voters and voted in Parliament in favor of the CETA’s most controversial proviso, the so-called the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) mechanism (German: Investitionsschiedsgerichten). That ISDS proviso allows Canadian corporations sue any EU government over any new law or policy that might reduce their profits in future such as a new German minimum wage law or stricter laws prohibiting toxic chemicals such as glyphosate or neonicotinoids. However, the Canadian company or investor in say, Germany, does not sue in a German court. They rather go to a special secret arbitration tribunal over which the EU state has no control. Opposition to the ISDS was a central platform of the Austrian FPÖ campaign before October 15. Most USA large corporations have subsidiary companies in Canada meaning CETA is a backdoor for the now-frozen TTIP with the USA.

Forcing EU states to dilute laws

Among its provisions, under CETA as under TTIP if there is a difference in rigor for example in the environmental or safety and health standards for EU states and the Canadian rules, the lowest standard (North American) applies. The Canadian government has largely followed US loose corporate regulations in recent years and this under CETA now would threaten a diminishing of EU strict regulations. According to an Institute for Agriculture and Trade Policy

and Greenpeace-Holland study, “Canada has weaker food safety and labelling standards than the EU, and industrial agriculture more heavily dependent on pesticides and GMO crops. CETA gives Canadian and US multinationals the tools to undermine rules concerning cloning, GMO crops, growth hormones and country of origin labelling, among others.”

According to the September, 2017 joint study, CETA will “promote the harmonization of food safety standards to the lowest common denominator, and the weakening of the EU’s risk assessment standards for food products.” A horrifying example is the decision in March 2016, by the Canadian authorities to approve AquAdvantage Salmon, the first genetically modified animal to be approved for human consumption in the country. Canada did not require labelling. Under CETA now, unlabeled GMO salmon will be sold across the EU. That holds for other unlabeled Canadian GMO foods as well as industrial agribusiness products such as beef.

Giant Agribusiness Threatens EU Family Farm

With CETA, for example, current EU laws requiring Country of Origin Labeling for meat and fish could be challenged by Canadian agribusiness whose meat exports will now come almost tariff-free to compete with carefully-controlled EU meat products.

Another proviso of CETA relates to reducing business costs and limiting regulation. In reality it will mean stronger EU food and agricultural policies will be weakened under pressure from large Canadian-US agribusiness companies such as IBP or Cargill Foods. To date the EU agriculture associations have largely contained the economic cost-reduction pressure that has destroyed family farming smaller units in North America since the 1980’s and replaced it with cartel formations of giant food industry.

Driven by US agribusiness lobbying at the USDA and Canadian Department of Agriculture, economies of scale in meat processing as an example have created documented horrendous sanitary conditions in giant processing operations that slaughter up to 1,000,000 cattle a year at a plant. Now with CETA, EU small farmers will simply be driven into bankruptcy as was done since the 1980s in North America. There the giant meat processing firms had 25-30% lower costs than smaller meat packing firms that were driven out of business.

The creation of North American agribusiness, a major focus of the TTIP as of the CETA, involves the dramatic reduction of labor costs and speedup of the meat processing portions that are not automated. Work is not protected by trade union agreements, labor is mostly immigrant and largely illegal meaning they are vulnerable to threat from employers demanding longer hours and lessened safety conditions.

North American slaughterhouse workers face conditions of speedup on the meat chains that they must cut and process that they have abnormally high rate of work-related injuries or nerve damage but the Government regulators turn a blind eye and the workers are mostly sub-minimum wage illegal workers from Mexico or Central America who have little recourse to change it.

As I account in my book, Seeds of Destruction, the cartelization and vertical integration of agriculture in North America after World War II was a brainchild of the Rockefeller Standard Oil family, notably Nelson Rockefeller and a project they financed at Harvard Business School that created the term “agribusiness.” The countries of the European Union until today have largely defended more small-scale meat and food production by way of safety, health, environment and labor laws. With the flood of far cheaper Canadian (North American in reality) beef and other foods into the EU under CETA, European small scale, high quality agriculture producers will be literally slaughtered to the gain of mass agribusiness cartels that can now globalize in the all-important EU market as well.

Austria is a Warning Bell

Now on May 16 the Austrian coalition parties, FPÖ and the ÖVP of Sebastian Kurz, turned on the voters and voted in the Council of Ministers in favor of approving CETA including with the controversial investor-state dispute settlement mechanism. It will now come to the full Parliament before Summer for a final vote where passage looks certain.

The European Commission proposed the signature of the EU-Canada Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) and despite need for national parliaments to ratify, CETA entered into force provisionally on 21 September 2017. National parliaments in EU countries have still to approve it before it can take full effect.

With an Austrian coalition government, one that owes its existence to vigorous opposition to CETA and defense of the right of citizens to hold a referendum on it and other issues, now betraying that voter pledge and backing CETA, implications for not just Austrian citizens—farmers and all consumers—but as well for the quality of world food exports, the health of world eaters (meaning us all) is to undergo a dramatic decline at a time we can ill afford it.

Under CETA now the world food chain will face over the coming decade or so an overwhelming concentration of corporate agribusiness control that will combine the two great agriculture production regions—North America and the EU. That, if it is allowed, will be devastating.

May 28, 2018 Posted by | Economics | , , , | Leave a comment

New Italian Government to Trigger Crisis in EU

By Alex GORKA | Strategic Culture Foundation | 07.04.2018

The formal consultations on forming a new coalition government in Italy kicked off on April 4. The center-right coalition led by the anti-migrant League won 37% of the vote to control the most parliamentary seats while the populist 5-Star Movement won almost 33% to become the single party with the highest number of votes. Neither of them can govern alone. It does not make great difference who President Sergio Mattarella will entrust with the task to form a coalition government: the leader of the center-right League, Matteo Salvini, or Five Star’s Luigi De Mayo. The outcome will be the same – the EU will face a crisis over its Russia policy. By and large, the two are at one on the issue – they want the Russia sanctions lifted.

The Five Star is not simply Eurosceptic; it’s openly anti-EU. The movement has always been known as “part of a growing club of Kremlin sympathizers in the West”. It shares a pro-Moscow outlook with the League. “STOP absurd Russia sanctions” tweeted Matteo Salvini to make his position known. It coincides with the opinion of Ernesto Ferlenghi, the President of Confindustria Russia, a non-profit association, who asks for government’s support of Italian businesses operating in Russia. Both agree that the sanctions hurt Italian economy. Salvini lambasted his country’s decision to expel Russian diplomats over the so-called spy poisoning case. In March, he signed a cooperation agreement with United Russia party.

It’s almost certain that Italy, the 3rd-largest national economy in the eurozone, the 8th-largest by nominal GDP in the world, and the 12th-largest by GDP (PPP), will question the wisdom of sanctions war. No doubt, it will be backed by a number of countries, including Greece, Austria, Cyprus, Hungary etc. If not for pressure exercised by the EU and German leadership, the sanctions would have been eased, or even lifted, long ago, especially as Great Britain is on the way out of the bloc. The Skripal scandal can delay the discussions but not for a long time. It will die away. If there were a solid proof to bolster the accusations against Moscow, it would have been presented to public without procrastination to fuel the anti-Russia sentiments. It has not been done. The scandal is doomed to fade away gradually.

The expedience of diplomats’ expulsions has been questioned in almost all EU member states, including Germany. Its newly appointed Foreign Minister Heiko Maas insists that Europe needs Russia as an ally to solve regional conflicts. According to him, “We are open to dialogue and are counting on building confidence again bit by bit, if Russia is ready to do so.”

Austria and Greece have refused to join so far but if such a big country as Italy joins them, the EU will be in a tight spot. The sanctions are to be prolonged in early fall but Rome will block their automatic extension. Italy is too big and important to be easily made to kneel. This is an EU founding nation. The bloc is facing serious cracks and adding more bones of contention will put into question its very existence. Under the circumstances, gradual easing of sanctions to ultimately lift them is the best solution for the EU. That will put the US and Europe on a collision course, especially at a time the divisions over the Nord Stream-2 gas project go on deepening.

US Ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, has recently stated that Russia is no friend of the US. Moscow is well aware that Washington is not its friend either. It’s not about friendship but rather the need for a dialogue on equal terms to address burning issues of mutual interests.

As one can see, the US hostility toward Russia does not strengthen its standing in the world. Quite to the contrary, it makes the gap wider to alienate European allies. The relationship is complicated enough as it is. The pressure exercised by the US and the UK, its staunch European ally, to involve the EU into the anti-Russia campaign provokes stiff resistance. Its strong alliances, not disagreements with close partners that make great powers stronger.

The CAATSA law that allows punitive measures against European allies, the divisions over the Iran deal being probably decertified by the US in May, the European resistance to the US tariff policy and a lot of other things undermine the West’s alliance the US considers itself the leader of. Adding Russia to the list of European grievances hardly makes the US position in the world stronger. By ratcheting up anti-Moscow sentiments it hurts itself to make the “America First” policy much less effective than it could be, if outright hostility gave place to business-like dialogue.

Looks like those who wish Russia ill have lost an important ally. The more effort is applied to hurt Moscow, the more damage is done to West’s unity.

April 7, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Russophobia | , , , , , | 2 Comments

15 European leaders call for new arms deal with Russia

RT | November 26, 2016

Fifteen European countries, headed by Germany, have issued a statement pushing for the reopening of “a new structured dialogue” with Russia aimed at preventing a possible arms race in Europe, according to the German foreign minister.

The countries, all belonging to the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), have expressed their deep concern over the current situation in Europe and support the relaunch of a conventional arms treaty with Russia, German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier told Die Welt newspaper in an interview published on Friday.

“Europe’s security is in danger. As difficult as ties to Russia may currently be, we need more dialogue, not less,” Steinmeier said.

The ongoing conflict in the Eastern Ukraine and the fact that Crimea joined Russia in 2014, a move most often dubbed as “annexation” by western officials, have put the question of war in Europe back on the table, Steinmeier continued. Fragile trust between Russia and European countries has suffered a significant setback and a “new armament spiral” is hanging over the continent, the foreign minister warned.

The statement contains strong anti-Russian rhetoric, blaming Moscow for violating arms deals as far back as 1990.

“The Conventional Forces in Europe treaty, which led to the destruction of tens of thousands of heavy weapon systems in Europe in the years following 1990, is no longer being implemented by the Russian Federation,” the statement said.

Russia put its participation in the treaty on hold in 2007 and then fully walked out of it last year.

Russian President Vladimir Putin called for the suspension of the treaty following a US decision to locate missile defense facilitates in the neighbouring Czech Republic and Poland. On top of that, President Putin noted that some of the NATO members did not join or ratify the treaty and there was no point in Russia abiding by the agreement.

Later Putin signed a decree suspending the treaty due to “extraordinary circumstances … which affect the security of the Russian Federation and require immediate measures,” having notified NATO and its members of the decision.

Since then NATO has taken no steps to upgrade the treaty, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in September, 2016, adding that Moscow is ready for dialogue on the subject. However, it is not planning to be the one to initiate it.

The statement names a number of other documents that need to be overviewed, including the OSCE’s Vienna document, stipulating the exchange of information on military movements, and the Open Skies treaty, enabling the monitoring of other countries’ ground forces. The documents are either neglected or in need of modernization.

The countries that spoke in favor of Steinmeier’s initiative include France, Italy, Austria, Belgium, Switzerland, the Czech Republic, Spain, Finland, the Netherlands, Norway, Romania, Sweden, Slovakia, Bulgaria and Portugal.

The group of the European foreign ministers is planning to meet again on the sidelines of a OSCE meeting in Hamburg on December, 8-9.

November 26, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holocaust Discourse and the Moral High Ground

By Barbara McKenzie | June 13, 2016

The Jewish Holocaust occupies a unique position in modern Western society, in that questioning the facts of the Holocaust is suppressed and vilified on a global scale as no other topic of human history. Why is research into the Holocaust so problematic? Why is it that serious research by scientists, historians and other academics is rejected out of hand as immoral? Why is the suppression of research into ANY aspect of history acceptable?

At present there are 14 countries that criminalise ‘Holocaust denial’, i.e. publicly questioning, or disseminating research that questions, any aspect of the approved Holocaust narrative: Canada plus 13 European countries including Germany, Austria and France. In many of these countries legislation was passed decades after the end of WWII, in France only in 1990. As recently as 2015 a German court convicted 87 year old Ursula Haverbeck of ‘Holocaust denial’ and sentenced her to 10 months prison. Other revisionists who have served jail sentences include the German publisher Ernst Zündel and the British historian David Irving, who was arrested, sentenced and imprisoned in Austria in 2005.   Academic Robert Faurisson was convicted in France of holocaust denial in 2006 and given a three month suspended sentence. In Germany convictions are rising steadily: in 2000 there were more than 2,666 violations of the Holocaust denial law STGB 130, as compared with 437 in 1987.

Even where Holocaust revision is legal, those who are involved in it or support it in any way are liable to be vilified, persecuted and generally treated as lepers. British academics like Irving and Nicholas Kollerstrom saw their careers destroyed, and every effort is made to deny revisionists any sort of platform; it goes without saying that they are subjected to vindictive trolling on social media. Some, like Faurisson and Zündel, have been physically assaulted on more than one occasion. After pro-Palestine activist Paul Eisen wrote an article ‘The Holocaust Wars’ in which he suggested there were questions to answer about the Holocaust, he experienced an extraordinary campaign of vilification and ostracism, especially from the pro-Palestine movement he had given so much to. That he was Jewish himself was no defence against the charge of antisemitism. As Eisen himself says, ‘I had metamorphosed into that lowest of animal life forms, the maggot at the bottom of the food chain – a Holocaust denier’.

Paul Eisen saw an unexpected rise in his profile during the 2015 campaign for election of the leader of the UK Labour Party. It was discovered that Jeremy Corbyn had had some links with Eisen in the past, including appearing on the same platform as him. The media, who had hardly been supportive of Corbyn’s candidature, had a field day accusing Corbyn of associating with a Holocaust denier. Jeremy Corbyn’s response to accusations of an association with Eisen was unequivocal : ‘had I known he was a Holocaust denier I would have had nothing to do with him […]. Obviously Holocaust denial is vile and wrong’. (From 2.47 mins in the following)

There are two principle assumptions relating to the Holocaust, both implicit in Corbyn’s denial of Paul Eisen:

  1. It is an an indisputable fact that Adolf Hitler planned to exterminate the Jews of Europe, that he did so by gassing them with cyanide in specially constructed gas chambers, and that he was thus responsible for the deaths of 6 million Jews
  2. People who question any of these premises, do so ONLY because they are neo-Nazis and white supremacists, who wish to conceal the crimes of the Nazis while at the same time sharing their ideology. They are ‘Holocaust deniers’, and all Holocaust deniers are of necessity antisemitic.

The immutability of these two premises leads to another, that anyone who questions any aspect of the Holocaust or who supports the right of others to question the Holocaust, is at best morally compromised, and probably downright evil, deserving responses ranging from suspicion, condemnation, vilification, isolation, hate mail, through to arrest and imprisonment, sometimes for many years. Those who accept unreservedly the two premises are automatically morally superior to anyone who smells a rat.

In 2012 Piers Morgan interviewed the Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, and asked him about his attitude to the Holocaust. I say ‘asked’, but Morgan puts his own position very clearly.

Morgan states that ‘it is an indisputable fact’ that over 6 million Jews were annihilated by Adolf Hitler and the Nazis. ‘Do you dispute that 6 million Jews died or no.’ Although Ahmadinejad tries to voice his suspicions about the narrative, aroused principally because so much effort goes into suppressing research, Morgan is unmovable: the Holocaust is a fact: either you believe in it or not (subtext: and if you don’t it’s because you choose to, because you are a bad person).

The biologist Richard Dawkins sees Holocaust debate in precisely the same terms as Piers Morgan:

DawkinsHolcaustFact

So according to Richard Dawkins, too, the Holocaust’ is an immutable fact, and those who question it are intellectually on a par with people who think the earth is flat, and morally on a par with racists. Again, the Holocaust is presented as just one fact, a single package – you either believe in it or you don’t.

What is particularly interesting about Dawkins’ position is that he is one of the leaders of the New Atheist movement, ostensibly dedicated to pointing out all that’s wrong with religion. One might have thought he would be sensitive to the features of the Holocaust narrative and the protectors of its memory that are evocative of the most intolerant religions, for example Catholicism in medieval times. Criminalising Holocaust denial is like burning Bruno Giordano at the stake for claiming that the earth goes round the sun.

A number of writers have in fact analysed the parallels between the Holocaust and religion, most notably the Israeli writers Yeshayahu Leibowitz, Shraga Elam, Gilad Atzmon, and Yoshua Shalev. Their arguments have been summarised as follows: Most Jews today are either atheists or shun the religion of Judaism. Therefore, the Jewish people had to adopt belief in the ‘Holocaust’ as their new religion. They have spread this religion all over the world. ‘Holocaust’ museums are the new houses of worship and are present in most major cities. The new religion has its commandments, its decrees, its prophets, its high priests, its circle of saints, its rituals and its pilgrimages. It knows neither mercy, nor forgiveness, nor clemency but only the duty of vengeance. The Holocaust religion is coherent enough to define the new ‘antichrists’ (the Deniers) and it is powerful enough to persecute them (Holocaust denial laws).

The ‘Ten Commandments’ of this ‘Holocaust Religion’ have been enunciated as follows:

  1. Remember what Amalek (the Non-Jews) has done to thee.
  2. Thou shalt never compare THE HOLOCAUST with any other Genocide.
  3. Thou shalt never compare the Nazi crimes with those of Israel.
  4. Thou shalt never doubt the number of 6 million Jewish victims.
  5. Thou shalt never doubt that the majority of them died in gas chambers.
  6. Thou shalt not doubt the central role of SATAN Hitler in the extermination of the Jews.
  7. Thou shalt never doubt the right of Israel to exist as the Jewish state.
  8. Thou shalt not criticize the leading Jewish organizations and the Israeli government.
  9. Thou must never criticize Jewish organizations and the Zionist leadership for abandoning the European Jewry in the Nazi era
  10. Thou shalt take these commandments literally and never shew mercy to them that doubt!

So what if you question this Holocaust religion? There is an almost universal assumption that if you don’t believe in the Holocaust it is not because you have an inquiring mind, it’s because you are innately evil. The belief underlying the draconian legislation relating to Holocaust denial would seem to be that the Holocaust is only questioned by neonazis, whose ‘denial’ is motivated by hate and so they should be locked up before they contaminate anyone else.

I have to confess that when I recently learned of the existence of Ursula Haverbeck and her prison sentence for ‘Holocaust denial’, in a European country in the 21st century, for carrying out, as I saw it, serious research into history, I was shocked to the core. I mentioned this to various acquaintances here in Wellington, who were equally horrified, not at the imprisonment of Ursula Haverbeck, but at the thought that I appeared to be questioning the Holocaust narrative. I was quickly made to understand that if I thought there was something worrying, something odd about this punitive response to historical research, it indicated a moral flaw in my makeup.

Soon after I had a twitter exchange with one Daniel Finkelstein, peer of the British realm, ex-editor of The Times. I came across his savage indictment of a prolific tweeter, who had defended David Irving, the notorious ‘Holocaust denier’. When I commented that the said person ‘opposes land theft (in Palestine), ethnic cleansing and child abuse – what’s not to like? Finkelstein, twitter handle ‘Dannythefink’, responded by asking me what I thought of the Holocaust. The exchange continued as follows:

Daniel Finkelstein

It comes as no surprise that Daniel Finkelstein, who is in total support of dispossession, ethnic cleansing and cruelty in Palestine, assumes morally superiority to me, since I have spoken in defense of a man who has spoken in defense of a man who does research into a field of history. And of course I have refused to commit myself to the undeniability of the Holocaust package …

One can assume that all these experts on the Holocaust, who know enough to be confident of the immutable truth of the Holocaust narrative, whether it be Piers Morgan, Dawkins, or Daniel Finkelstein, would also know another immutable truth about the Holocaust, that the Director of Auschwitz, Rudolf Höss was tortured for three days and three nights, and that his testicles were smashed beyond repair,as happened to 137 out of 139 Germans ‘interrogated’ before the Nuremberg trials. One can assume that this makes no difference to their perception of the Holocaust narrative, and they will remain confident of their moral superiority to those of us who are distressed and alarmed by the knowledge that German witness statements at Nuremberg were obtained under the most brutal torture. (From Höss’s confession was derived the figure of 4 million deaths at Auschwitz; the figure was later revised down to 1 million.)

‘Holocaust denial’ is generally conflated with antisemitism, ‘Jew hate’ or racism, and so automatically deserving of vilification. However, even if revisionism is considered to be intrinsically antisemitic, protectors of the Holocaust narrative like to bolster their case by pointing to more general indicators of racism in the culprit.

To the uninitiated the best-known Holocaust revisionist is probably the British historian David Irving, who was convicted of Holocaust denial in an Austrian court and sentenced to three years in prison. Irving was interviewed by Tim Sebastian on the BBC’s Hardtalk in 2000. The programme’s style is intended to be aggressive, but when I watched the programme in 2000, knowing nothing about either Irving or Holocaust denial, I was repelled by Sebastian’s overt hostility to Irving, and I believe that any other impartial person would be too. (Sebastian underlined his antagonism by refraining from shaking Irving’s hand at the end of the interview.)

Sebastian suggests that to deny the gas chambers is hurtful and tasteless (Holocaust denial is immoral per se). But like many others he feels the need to shore up this assumption by showing that there is other evidence that David Irving is a racist, and though he has few examples to work with he is  relentless on this point. Irving’s suggestion that he is no more racist than millions of other people is brushed aside with the rather strange claim from the interviewer that there is no evidence for this whatsoever (so only Holocaust deniers are racist). Furthermore, it would appear that honest but naive David Irving confessed in an interview with the Independent that he once called someone a ‘nigger’, something he immediately regretted and remained bitterly ashamed of. As someone put it in the comments below the YouTube video, David Irving is probably the most honest person on the planet.

Another protector of the Holocaust narrative is Max Blumenthal, an American Jew who has a profile as a supporter of the rights of Palestinians. Blumenthal has attracted criticism from some pro-Palestine activists, who see him as an ‘antizionist’ zionist (AZZ), or gatekeeper, due to his attacks on other activists such as Alison Weir and Gilad Atzmon, his opposition to criticism of Jewish power, his prioritising of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and his peddling of the NATO narrative on Syria; Gilad Atzmon sees him as racist, agressive and supremacist. In 2008 Blumenthal attended a meeting by David Irving when he was touring the States, and created this video:

The video is interesting for several reason. Blumenthal has interspersed his footage with clips from old German propaganda films promoting Germans superiority – of course if you question the Holocaust you must be a Nazi and white supremacist. Like Piers Morgan he presents the question of the Holocaust in bald holistic terms, with no allowance for individual aspects, or degrees of doubt. ‘Are you a Holocaust denier’, he asks, pretty much as one might ask ‘are you a paedophile?’

And as Holocaust denial is such a heinous crime, Blumenthal is justified in first finding out the location of the meeting (given freely to him by David Irving), and then outing Irving to the Vicar of the church hosting the meeting as a ‘Holocaust denier’. The smugness, the self-satisfaction of Blumenthal are palpable; he clearly sees himself as a hero, where others might just see a manipulative sneak. In any case we are left in no doubt that Max Blumenthal, the anti-German racist, the Palestine activist who along with Israel promotes the destruction of Syria, is morally superior to the ‘Holocaust denier’ David Irving, regardless of the latter’s transparent integrity.

The claim that ‘Holocaust denial’ is innately antisemitic was blown out of the water when Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, took into his head to declare that the Holocaust was the brainchild of the Palestinian grand mufti of Jerusalem Haj Amin Husseini (so not Hitler afterall), that Hitler only wanted to expel the Jews, not exterminate them (thereby breaking Commandment 6, see above). There was anger and ridicule in Israel and amongst Jews abroad and Netanyahu was forced to climb down. Although Netanyahu was in general accused of ‘playing into the hands of Holocaust deniers’, he was actually guilty of Holocaust denial as it is defined, ie questioning an aspect of the Holocaust discourse – any German who made Netanyahu’s claim would be arrested. If one accepts the ruling that says ‘Holocaust denial’ is antisemitic, Netanyahu must be antisemitic. Which is clearly nonsense – Netanyahu’s racism does not lie in antisemitism, but in an overweening belief in Jewish exceptionalism.

Conclusion

It could be that those protecting the approved version of the Holocaust with such intolerance, aggression, and hate are absolutely right, that 6 million Jews died, in gas chambers, according to a plan drawn up by Adolf Hitler. I wouldn’t know – I haven’t done the research necessary for me to form an opinion.

However it is manifestly clear that those who question or deny the Holocaust are not united by a common neo-Nazi philosophy, of a type that on the one hand insists that Hitler was not guilty of the crimes attributed to him and on the other claims ‘Hitler was right’ to commit these crimes. Mainstream Holocaust revisionists are academics, philosophers, German patriots or Palestine activists. They do not necessarily support the far-right – many of them probably vote for left of centre parties. Some of them are notable for their immense compassion, such as Paul Eisen, who has always been a strong advocate of justice for Palestine. All of them have shown great courage and integrity, and are prepared to look for the truth and to speak it as they see it.

Regardless of the facts of the matter, criminalisation of responsible research into the Holocaust, and the vilification and isolation of those who carry it out, or even those who simply support their right to do so, is an outrageous denial of academic endeavour and historiography as a discipline. Anyone who supports such criminalisation, vilification and isolation is NOT morally superior but in fact morally and intellectually compromised. Furthermore, any honourable person with a modicum of intelligence and a modicum of courage will fight for the right of all people to carry out research into any branch of history, without treating one particular aspect as sacred and therefore exempt from scrutiny.

July 17, 2016 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Deception, Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Timeless or most popular, Video | , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

Austrian President wants EU to examine ending anti-Russia sanctions

RT | April 6, 2016

The Austrian President Heinz Fischer says the EU has to find a way to lift sanctions against Russia.

“I always say that sanctions are disadvantageous for both sides,” Fischer said at Wednesday’s meeting with Russia’s State Duma Speaker Sergey Naryshkin. “It is important to find a way to lift them in the near future.”

He also said Austria is actively participating in EU’s discussions on the issue.

“Our position is that it’s necessary to consider all the opportunities to develop cooperation between Russia and the EU,” he added.

A few days ago Austrian business leader Christoph Leitl criticized anti-Russian sanctions, saying they had proved unsuccessful. Leitl said Russia with its raw materials and Europe with its expertise would complement each other perfectly.

At the moment, there’s no unity among the European Union for automatically prolonging the economic sanctions against Russia which are due to expire on July 31.

The Italian and Hungarian foreign ministers said last month that things can’t be taken for granted at this stage; the question of sanctions should be decided at the highest level and cannot be automatic. Meanwhile, the Baltic republics and Poland are demanding sanctions should continue as a response to what they describe as expansionist Russia.

EU sanctions against Russia were introduced in March 2014 after Crimea voted to separate from Ukraine and rejoin Russia.

READ MORE: Italy and Hungary against automatic renewal of anti-Russian sanctions

April 6, 2016 Posted by | Economics | , , | Leave a comment

States of hope and states of concern

By Bjorn Hilt | International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War | January 11, 2016

At the UN General assembly last fall there was an essential vote on the future of mankind. Resolution number A/RES/70/33 calling for the international society to take forward multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations had been submitted by Austria, Brazil, Chile, Costa Rica, Ecuador, Georgia, Ghana, Guatemala, Ireland, Kenya, Lichtenstein, Malta, Marshall Islands, Mexico, Nigeria, Panama, Peru, Philippines, South Africa, Trinidad and Tobago, Uruguay and Venezuela. For that, these countries deserve our deep respect and gratitude. The resolution reminds us that all the peoples of  the world have a vital interest in the success of nuclear disarmament negotiations, that all states have the right to participate in disarmament negotiations, and, at the same time, declares support for the UN Secretary – General’s five-point proposal on nuclear disarmament.

The resolution reiterates the universal objective that remains the achievement and maintenance of a world without nuclear weapons, and emphasizes the importance of addressing issues related to nuclear weapons in a comprehensive, inclusive, interactive and constructive manner, for the advancement of multilateral nuclear disarmament negotiations. The resolution calls on the UN to establish an Open-ended Working Group (OEWG) of willing and responsible states to bring the negotiations on nuclear disarmament forward in this spirit.

When voted upon at the UNGA a month ago, on December 7, 2015, there was a huge majority of states (75 %) that supported the resolution, namely 138 of the 184 member states that were present. Most of them are from the global south, with majorities in Latin-America, Africa, Asia, the Middle East, and the Pacific. After having shown such courage and wisdom, they all deserve to be named among the states of hope, states that want to sustain mankind on earth.

Only 12 states voted against the resolution. Guess who they are: China, Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Hungary, Israel, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Russian Federation, United Kingdom, and the United States. What is wrong with them? Well, they are either nuclear-armed states or among the new NATO member states. They are the states of concern in today’s world. It is hypocritical that states that claim to be the protectors of freedom, democracy, and humanity constitute a small minority that refuse to enter into multilateral, inclusive, interactive and constructive negotiations to free the world from nuclear weapons. Among the three other nuclear-armed states, India and Pakistan had the civility to abstain, while the DPRK was the only one to vote “yes.”

Despite the reactionary, dangerous, and irresponsible position of the 12 states of concern and the tepid attitude of the abstainers, the OEWG was established by an overwhelming majority of the UNGA. The OEWG will convene in Geneva for 15 working days during the first half of 2016. The OEWG has no mandate to negotiate treaties to free the world of the inhuman nuclear weapons, but has clearly been asked to discuss and show how it can be achieved. Surely, the nations of hope that voted in favor of the OEWG will take part in the work. We can hope that at least some of the states of concern and some of the abstainers come to their senses and take part in this essential work for the future of mankind.

Participation in the OEWG is open for everyone and blockable by none. No matter what the states of concern do or don’t do, there is good reason to trust that the vast majority of nations of hope together with civil society from all over in the fall will present an outcome to the UNGA that will turn our common dream of a world free of nuclear weapons into a reality—perhaps sooner that we dare to believe.

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

Armed US Soldiers Arrested in Vienna Airport on Their Way to Ukraine

Sputnik – 30.07.2015

The soldiers carried assault rifles in their luggage, but had no approval, Kurier reported.

A few days ago, a group of American soldiers caused a security alert at Vienna’s Schwechat airport. The men were stopped while trying to travel with army weapons to Ukraine without any necessary permits, the newspaper wrote.

The Austrian police had to intervene and remove the weapons. An investigation into the case was launched.

The nine US soldiers were on their way from Washington to Ukraine, where they were to be deployed.

“However, since there were problems with their connecting flight after a stopover in Schwechat, they had to rebook their flight and, therefore, leave the transit area,” Colonel Michael Bauer, Defense Ministry spokesman said.

M16 assault rifles and pistols were discovered in the luggage of the American soldiers at a security checkpoint. The incident caused huge shock, because the weapons were not declared and registered and, thus, carried illegally.

The soldiers had not obtained the required transit approval by Austria. In special cases, the stay or transit of foreign military forces may be officially allowed after completing the application procedure, but the US soldiers did not send any required requests.

The attempt by the American embassy to obtain the approval after the incident was rejected for legal reasons. Instead of going to Ukraine, the soldiers had to fly back home to Washington and were allowed to take the weapons with them, the newspaper reported.

July 30, 2015 Posted by | Illegal Occupation, Militarism | , , | 3 Comments

Austria Demands Info on German-US Spying on Officials, Companies

Sputnik – 05.05.2015

Austria filed a formal complaint over suspicions that German and American intelligence agencies have spied on its authorities and firms, the Austrian interior minister said on Tuesday.

“Austria demands clarification,” Interior Minister Johanna Mikl-Leitner told Reuters, following German media reports about such activities. She added that Austria’s security authorities were in contact with their German counterparts.

“Today we have filed a legal complaint with the prosecutor’s office,” she said, “against an unknown entity due to secret intelligence services to Austria’s disadvantage.”

German media reports said the BND, Germany’s intelligence agency, used its Bad Aibling listening post in Bavaria to spy on the French presidential palace, French foreign ministry and European Commission.

The snooping was done at the behest of US spy agency National Security Agency (NSA), which also asked the BND to monitor European firms to check if they were breaking trade embargos, according to reports.

Mikl-Leitner said that while there is not yet concrete evidence, “it’s not far-fetched to suspect that Austria was also spied on.”

She added that Austria will try to resolve the situation through its security, diplomatic and judicial bodies.

The NSA is believed to have passed a list of some 800,000 IP addresses, phone numbers and email addresses to the BND for monitoring, some of which belonged to European politicians and companies.

Citing an unnamed source from the German parliamentary committee on the US spying agency, German newspaper Bild said Berlin chose to remain silent and close its eyes to the information in order to avoid “endangering cooperation” with Washington and the NSA.

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maiziere has denied reports that he was aware of the spying since at least 2008.

During a press briefing Monday, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Berlin is engaged in consultations with Washington on the NSA’s surveillance practices.

“I think what’s important here is that friends do not spy on each other. The answer is that it should not be so,” Merkel said.

She continued: “We are at the disposal of respective parliamentary bodies. The chancellor’s office is ready to provide all necessary information. This process is already under way. We are also consulting the United States.”

Secret documents leaked in 2013 by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden showed that the US spy agency monitored Merkel’s personal cell phone too.

Read more:

Airbus to Launch Criminal Complaint Against Germany in Spy Scandal

May 5, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Economics | , , , , , | Leave a comment

​Austria to sue EU over UK nuclear plant subsidy approval

RT | January 22, 2015

Austria plans to take the European Commission to court over its approval of state subsidies to the $24-billion nuclear power plant Hinkley Point C, which is set to become the UK’s first new nuclear reactor in two decades.

Last October, the EU approved a UK state subsidy request for the project, a deal between French-owned nuclear developer EDF and the UK government.

Though the project was met with skepticism by some commissioners, four of whom voted against the decision, the commission decided that the UK’s plans to subsidize the construction and operation of the plant are in accordance with EU state aid regulations.

Construction has already begun on the plant, which is expected to replace a fifth of Britain’s aging nuclear power and coal plants, and provide 7 percent of the UK’s electricity by 2023.

Austria, a fully non-nuclear nation, considers nuclear energy to be both economically and environmentally unsustainable. The country will launch its appeal within two months after the publication of the official Hinkley decision in the EU journal, Austria’s environment ministry director Andreas Molin told the Guardian. The journal is to be released in two weeks.

The appeal will argue that the UK’s loan guarantees for the project constitute illegal state aid.

“Austria strictly rejects any kind of direct or indirect subsidies to nuclear power, arguing for the complete internalization of all external costs based on the polluter pays principle,” Austrian environment ministry Julia Puchegger told Interfax Energy.

“Austria also doesn’t consider nuclear power to be eligible for the European Fund for Strategic Investments [EFSI],” she added.

The lawsuit could delay an investment decision for over two years “as this is going to be a more complicated and fundamental case,” Molin said.

The EU’s 2014-2020 environment and energy guidelines don’t include specific rules for nuclear energy subsidies, which are to be assessed on a case-by-case basis.

Though the EDF had planned to sign a funding agreement with its Chinese partners in March, an essential step for securing a final investment plan, an Austrain lawsuit may put these plans on the backburner.

January 22, 2015 Posted by | Nuclear Power | , , | 1 Comment

Bulgaria: South Stream doesn’t breach EU laws

RT | June 26, 2014

Bulgarian officials say the construction of the Russian-led South Stream gas pipeline does not breach EU legislation. The European Commission is concerned the agreement between Russia and Bulgaria violates EU competition law.

The Bulgarian government stood by its position on the legality of the pipeline in a Wednesday statement, ITAR-TASS reports. The agreement on South Stream construction signed in 2008 did not provide any exclusive rights, concessions, or tendering for the South Stream Bulgaria Company which is the owner of the pipeline, and therefore it does not violate EU law, it said.

“With its position the government presents arguments and motives in support of the decisions the Bulgarian nation has taken and which were the subject of concern at the EU Commission,” Reuters quotes the official statement.

Bulgaria will put these arguments at the Brussels summit on Friday, but the decision of the commission whether to accept or reject them may end up in full infringement proceedings and possible fines against Sofia, Reuters says.

According to Gunther Oettinger, the European Commissioner for Energy, the construction process should be suspended until, “it completely corresponds to the requirements of the European Union.”

On Tuesday Austria, another strong defender of the pipeline, signed a deal to construct a South Stream arm on its territory, thus showing its firm commitment.

The 2,446 km South Stream pipeline will stretch across southern and central Europe via the Black Sea, bypassing Ukraine and reducing the country’s importance as a gas transit route. 64 billion cubic meters of gas will be transported annually.

Gazprom has said the project, estimated to cost $45 billion, can be completed without any funding from international partners.

June 26, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Malthusian Ideology, Phony Scarcity | , , , , | Leave a comment

Austria and Russia sign South Stream gas pipeline treaty

RT | June 24, 2014

Russia and Austria have agreed on a joint company to construct the Austrian arm of the $45 billion South Stream gas pipeline project, which is expected to deliver 32 billion cubic meters of Russian gas to the country, bypassing Ukraine.

At Tuesday’s meeting in Vienna, the creation of South Stream Austria was announced. The company will be 50 percent owned by Gazprom, Russia’s largest gas producer, and 50 percent by Austria’s OMV Group, the country’s largest oil and gas company.

Construction on the Austrian section is expected to begin in 2015 and that the first deliveries will start in 2017, reaching full capacity in January 2018.

OMV spokesman Robert Lechner was more optimistic, and said the first South Stream deliveries could come as early as 2016.

In April, Gazprom and the OMV Group signed a memorandum to implement the South Stream project in Austria.

At Tuesday’s meeting in Vienna, OMV CEO Gerhard Roiss said that South Stream fully complies with EU legislation.

“This project- investment in European energy security- will fully comply with EU legislation,” Roiss said, as quoted by ITAR-ITASS.

There has been controversy over South Stream, as is it needs EU approval so that it doesn’t violate Europe’s ‘Third Energy Package’, which says a company cannot both own and operate pipelines within the European Union.

Bulgaria and Serbia, countries nearly 100 percent dependent on Russian gas, have faced pressure from the EU to halt construction.

Ahead of Putin’s visit to Vienna, Austrian ministers said they remained committed to Russia’s South Stream project and that they plan to speed it up.

The geopolitical conflict in Ukraine has also complicated the South Stream project, as EU energy lobbying groups are campaigning against the project, to lessen Europe’s dependence on Russia.

“So far [Austria, Ed,] takes a very clear position, avoiding pressure from the European Commission and in general, public opinion in Europe that wants to halt or even stop the project. At the same time it [Austria, Ed] has enough political clout to promote this project. It’s not Bulgaria, which on its own cannot defend itself,” Fyodor Lukyanov, Chairman of Russia’s Council on Foreign and Defense Policy, said on Monday.

South Stream will deliver gas to Europe bypassing Ukraine, which is seen as an unreliable transit state.

After switching Ukraine to a prepayment system, Russia and Gazprom fear Ukraine will start to siphon gas supplies headed towards Europe, as the country did in 2006 and 2009. Miller worries Ukraine may resort to this tactic in winter, once it runs out of its underground storage supplies of natural gas.

“If Ukraine begins to siphon off gas, we will increase supplies via North Stream, and maximize the load through Yamal-Europe,” Aleksey Miller, CEO of Gazprom, said Tuesday in Vienna.

The 2,446 km pipeline will stretch across southern and central Europe and will transport over 64 billion cubic meters of natural gas to Europe per year.

Gazprom has said the project, estimated to cost $45 billion, can be completed without any funding from international partners.

Gazprom is Russia’s largest producer of natural gas and provides roughly one third of Europe’s gas needs.

The head of the Russian Duma’s International Affairs Committee, Aleksey Puskhov, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that “Ukraine is in a long-term phase of unpredictability. Thus, South Stream is the only guarantee of uninterrupted gas supply to Europe.”

June 24, 2014 Posted by | Economics | , , , , | Leave a comment

S. American states to recall ambassadors from Europe over Bolivian plane incident

RT | July 12, 2013

South American countries belonging to the Mercosur trade bloc have decided to withdraw their ambassadors for consultations from European countries involved in the grounding of the Bolivian president’s plane.

“We’ve taken a number of actions in order to compel public explanations and apologies from the European nations that assaulted our brother Evo Morales,” explained Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro, who revealed some of the agenda debated during the 45th summit of Mercosur countries in Uruguay’s capital, Montevideo.

The decision to recall European ambassadors was taken by Maduro, Argentina’s President Cristina Fernandez, Brazilian President Dilma Rouseff, and Uruguay’s President, Jose Mujica, during the meeting.

Member states attending the summit expressed their grievances with “actions by the governments of France, Spain, Italy and Portugal” over the July 2 incident, when the aircraft carrying President Evo Morales back to Bolivia after attending an energy summit in Moscow was denied entry into the airspace of a number of EU member states.

The small aircraft, which required a stop-over before completing its flight, was forced to make an emergency landing in Austria after a circuitous flight path.

It was later revealed that the European countries’ actions were prompted by accusations made by the US ambassador to Austria, William Eacho, who alleged that American whistleblower Edward Snowden had been taken on board to help him gain political asylum in Latin America.

“The gravity of the incident – indicative of a neocolonial mindset – constitutes an unfriendly and hostile act, which violates human rights and impedes freedom of travel, as well as the treatment and immunity appropriate to a head of state,” the Mercosur nations affirmed in the joint statement.

The incident was further described as a “discriminatory and arbitrary” decision by European countries, as well as a “blatant violation of international law.”

July 12, 2013 Posted by | Solidarity and Activism | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment