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Corporations shell out $1.2mn in Senate contributions to fast-track TPP

RT | May 28, 2015

Records from the Federal Election Commission show corporations have been donating tens of thousands of dollars to Senate campaign coffers, particularly to lawmakers who were undecided over a controversial trade deal involving Pacific Rim countries.

Using data from the Federal Election Commission, the Guardian studied donations from the corporate members of the US Business Coalition for TPP – the Trans-Pacific Partnership – to US Senate campaigns between January and March 2015, when debate over the trade deal was ramping up.

What the documents showed was that out of a total of nearly $1.2 million given, an average of $17,000 was donated to each of the 65 “yes” votes. Republicans received an average of $19,000 and Democrats received $9,700.

“It’s a rare thing for members of Congress to go against the money these days,” Mansur Gidfar, spokesman for the anti-corruption group Represent.Us, told the Guardian. “They know exactly which special interests they need to keep happy if they want to fund their re-election campaigns or secure a future job as a lobbyist.”

Fast-tracking the TPP means voting to allow President Barack Obama to negotiate a deal without permitting Congress to amend the final document. The Senate first voted to debate Trade Promotion Authority – the fast-track bill – by a 65-33 margin on May 14. On May 21, lawmakers voted 62-37 to bring the debate on TPA to a close and pass the bill.

Little is known about the specifics of the trade deal. According to a draft document leaked by WikiLeaks, the pact would grant broad powers to multinational companies operating in North America, South America and Asia, such as the ability to challenge regulations, rules, government actions and court rulings – federal, state or local – before tribunals organized under the World Bank or the United Nations.

Besides the United States, the accord would include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam. Most business interests support the Pacific Rim deal while labor groups have said it will cost American jobs and suppress wages.

Just two days before the fast-track vote, when Obama’s trade deal lacked a filibuster-proof majority, six out of eight Democrats who were on the fence decided to vote in favor of fast-track. Senators Michael Bennett (Colorado), Patty Murray (Washington) and Ron Wyden (Oregon) all received contributions totaling $105,900 combined. Bennett alone received $53,700.

The other Democrats who voted in favor were Dianne Feinstein (California), Claire McCaskill (Missouri) and Bill Nelson (Florida), though it’s unclear if they received contributions.

“How can we expect politicians who routinely receive campaign money, lucrative job offers, and lavish gifts from special interests to make impartial decisions that directly affect those same special interests?” Gidfar told the Guardian. “As long as this kind of transparently corrupt behavior remains legal, we won’t have a government that truly represents the people.”

In comparison, almost 100 percent of Senate Republicans voted for fast-tracking the TPP, with “no” votes from Louisiana and Alaska. Seven of those Republicans are running for re-election in 2016 and received contributions to their campaigns – Senators Johnny Isakson (Georgia), Roy Blunt (Missouri) John McCain (Arizona), Richard Burr (NC), Chuck Grassley (Iowa) and Tim Scott (SC).

According to the Federal Election Commission documents, most of the donations came from corporations like Goldman Sachs, Pfizer and Procter & Gamble.

Read more: EU drops controls on dangerous chemicals after TTIP pressure from US – report

May 28, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US blocks nuclear disarmament document over Israel, Moscow fumes

RT | May 23, 2015

Washington has blocked the final document of a UN conference that reviewed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, accusing Egypt of manipulating the gathering to target Israel. Moscow has slammed the US for rendering the four-week meeting futile.

The 9th international conference was held in New York from April 27 until May 22. A total of 162 Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) participant states were in attendance. These conferences are held every five years to assess the worldwide disarmament process.

The blocked document included a plan to establish a nuclear-free zone in the Middle East. To do this, Egypt, who first proposed such a zone in 1980, suggested a regional UN conference on banning weapons of mass destruction. The gathering would have no pre-determined agenda and would go ahead with or without the presence of Israel.

This was stonewalled by the US, with Washington representative Rose Gottemoeller saying the final document reviewed on Friday was “incompatible with our longstanding policies.”

She accused Egypt and other Arab supporters of the nuclear-free zone of being “not willing to let go of these unrealistic and unworkable conditions,” AP reports.

Israel, which is an observer, but not a participant of the NPT, is widely believed to have the Middle East’s only nuclear arsenal, which it has neither confirmed nor denied. It is also a close ally of the US.

Egypt expressed its disappointment and said: “This will have consequences in front of the Arab world and public opinion.”

Washington’s position was backed by the UK and Canada, ultimately sinking the proposal which had to be approved by all countries.

Russia, for its part, said it was committed to nuclear non-proliferation and saw similar commitment from most other participants.

“The vast majority of the delegations have noted that the treaty remains a ‘cornerstone’ of international security and stability, and serves their interests,” a Russian Foreign Ministry statement said. “Participant countries have confirmed their readiness to comply with their obligations under the NPT.”

“We regretfully acknowledge that because of the positions of the US, Britain and Canada, we could not adopt the final document which included provisions on fulfilling the 1995 resolution on creating a Middle East zone free of nuclear and other types of weapons of mass destruction.” the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

It added, however, that Russia still has faith in the Treaty: “Despite such an outcome of the conference, the Russian Federation is ready to continue cooperating with other countries to help strengthen the NPT, provide its wholesomeness and viability.”

The failure of this conference means the next one can only be held in 2020.

May 23, 2015 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Iran could constrain reckless impulses of US Mideast allies’

RT | April 1, 2015

A deal with Iran over its nuclear program would benefit the US as it needs to change its policy in the Middle East, and even build a constructive relationship with critical regional powers, said Hillary Mann Leverett, a former US negotiator with Iran.

RT: Hopes are high that the six world powers and Iran who have been holding talks in the Swiss city of Lausanne will reach a deal by Wednesday evening. What kind of document do you expect to come out of these talks?

Hillary Mann Leverett: I would assume at this point we can still really think of only a vague document coming out of these talks. There does not seem to be agreement on many of the details, much of the substance that would be detailed in the final agreement.

But that is not really the purpose of what they were trying to get by [Wednesday evening]. This was supposed to be a political understanding of what the agreement would entail, and a final agreement then would be drafted by June 30. So my sense is that if we get an agreement it will be focused more on a reaffirmation in a sense of a core bargain that they struck back in November 2013: that the parties would proceed toward resolving this conflict by Iran agreeing in negotiated contacts to constraints on its nuclear program in exchange for comprehensive lifting of sanctions.

And that is where I think the parties have really got stuck, because the comprehensive lifting of sanctions is something that is not technical. It doesn’t involve nuclear physicists at the table, it requires real political will. And I think that’s where we’ve seen the brinkmanship.

RT: If a deal is agreed on, what kind of reaction is it likely to trigger on Capitol Hill?

HL: I think the reaction will be negative, regardless of what the deal is. Some people in Washington, I think, disingenuously claim that it depends on whether it is a ‘good deal’ or ‘bad deal’. But there is no ‘good deal’ for many of the lawmakers in Washington, the 47 senators who sent this letter to Iran, there’s no good deal for them with the Islamic Republic of Iran. Their agenda is regime change. They would be happy for an Iran under a kind of Shah, an American puppet, to have nuclear weapons. But they are not really interested in an independent state to have any nuclear weapons. So I think they would oppose any deal.

I think because of that reality, the focus of the talks in this session has been not so much, not I really think at all, on the US sanctions, but how to really put that in its own box and deal with something more internationally. The focus has been on the UN sanctions, which Congress has no say over. The United States could agree to lift UN sanctions in five minutes. I saw it done on Libya; I saw it done on Sudan. The United States can do it in five minutes; they don’t need to consult with anybody in Congress. And that is what I’m talking about in terms of political will.

It’s up to President Obama whether he will agree and literally pick up the phone and call the UN ambassador and say: “Either vote for the lifting of sanctions or abstain.” It’s all he needs to do. That’s a question of political will; the rest of it is really just political posturing.

Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif (R) and Head of Iranian Atomic Energy Organization Ali Akbar Salehi talk while other members of their delegation listen after a meeting with U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and U.S. officials at the Beau Rivage Palace Hotel in Lausanne March 27, 2015 (Reuters / Brendan Smialowski)

RT: The Republicans have warned that any deal with Iran might not survive after Barack Obama is out of the White House. Should we expect the US to make a U-turn on Iran in subsequent years?

HL: We’ve actually seen a bad scenario of this happening in the past. In the late 1970s under President Carter, his administration had negotiated the SALT II treaty with Moscow, with the Soviet Union. And the way he sold it was as if it was a “technical agreement,” that we were “imposing meaningful curbs” on the Soviet Union’s strategic capacity. The Congress defeated it. It was a devastating failure for President Carter.

We could potentially be looking at something like that if President Obama plays the same game by saying that he’s essentially going to hold his nose while he is negotiating with Iran and just try to focus on a narrow technical agreement. He needs to make the case, the strategic case why a fundamental realignment of US policies in the Middle East toward the Islamic Republic of Iran is imperative for the United States, that after a decade of disastrous military interventions in the Middle East, the United States needs a different way. It needs a constructive way forward with Iran. But he has not done that. Instead, my concern is that he is following President Carter’s route. Essentially Carter’s view was that the Soviet Union was an unreconstructed adversary, evil empire in a sense, and he was just going to hold his nose and try to get the SALT II treaty passed. Well, he lost the election in 1980, we got Ronald Reagan, and that was the end of that.

RT: If a deal is reached, how is it likely to change regional dynamics for America’s main allies in the region Israel and Saudi Arabia, who both strongly oppose a deal?

HL: I think it will be very good for the United States. After the end of the Cold War, the United States has gone through a period I think some would call of arrogance, essentially trying to impose its dominance on various regions of the world, including the Middle East. And those who want to go along with it, we characterize them as allies, when they are not really allies per se, they are just going along with the United States. What we really need is constructive relationships with each of the critical powers in the region so that they can restrain even the reckless impulses of our so-called allies. It’s not in our interests when Israel bombs Lebanon, Israel bombs Gaza. It’s not in our interest when Saudis invade Yemen. If you have a better relationship with Iran, it will constrain these reckless impulses of even our allies, and allow the United States to get off this dangerous trajectory of trying to impose its own military dominance on the region.

Read more: Nuclear deal with Iran ‘reached on all key aspects’ – Lavrov

April 1, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Rich get richer from fewer labor unions, study says

RT | February 28, 2015

A study by the International Monetary Fund tracked three decades of income and found that as unionization declined, the wealth of the richest 10 percent in advanced countries showed a continuous increase.

More specifically, the study’s authors found that when researching income levels during the period of 1980-2010, the decline in unionization explained about half of the rise in incomes for the richest 10 percent, and half of the increase in the Gini coefficient (a measure of income inequality).

“While some inequality can increase efficiency by strengthening incentives to work and invest, recent research suggests that higher inequality is associated with lower and less sustainable growth in the medium run, even in advanced economies,” argued the paper’s authors, Florence Jaumotte and Carolina Osorio Buitron.

The authors said traditional research has argued that the rise of inequality in advanced economies can be attributed to skill-based technology changes – such as new technology displacing workers – and globalization. They found that these developments led to some inequality changes at different rates and magnitudes, but not enough to account for the consistent increase in inequality that was being measured.

Researchers looked for answers in recent studies that made the claim that financial deregulation and lower taxes were another factor – but again, that wasn’t showing the steady increases that researchers were charting.

“…A rising concentration of income at the top of the distribution can reduce a population’s welfare if it allows top earners to manipulate the economic political system in their favor,” they wrote, referring to things such as lower taxes and business subsidies.

They then considered what effect the decline in unionization and a flat-lining minimum wage could have on wealth disparity. Previous research said such things were unlikely to have a direct impact, but that is not what Jaumotte and Buitron found. They took samples of advanced economies between 1980 and 2010 and considered gross income, labor market institutions and controls for globalization, financial liberalization, and common global trends.

“Our results confirm that the decline in unionization is strongly associated with the rise of income shares at the top…about half the increase…in net income is driven by deunionization,” said Jaumotte and Buitron.

Economists argue that stronger unions and higher minimum wages increase unemployment, but there isn’t strong evidence to support the claim. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development only found three studies out of 17 that showed an association between unions and unemployment.

What it did find was that union rules lead to equal pay for workers, and that unionization didn’t maintain wages above “market-clearing” levels and cause unemployment. And unions, by mobilizing workers, encourage policymakers to engage in income redistribution and support for social and labor rights.

In the US, there were 14.5 million union members in 2013, or 11.3 percent of the working population, compared with 17.7 million in 1983. Union members in the private sector have fallen under seven percent, levels not seen since 1932. Internationally, Germany has 18.4 percent of its population in unions, Canada 27.5 percent, and Finland 70 percent.

February 28, 2015 Posted by | Economics | , , , | 1 Comment

American instructors to train Ukrainian troops this spring – US general

RT | January 23, 2015

US soldiers are to be deployed to Western Ukraine to train the country’s National Guard, said the commander of the US Army in Europe during a news conference in Kiev. The US also intends to sponsor the production of Ukrainian light armored vehicles.

The exact number of American troops heading to Ukraine is still to be determined, said Lieut. Gen. Ben Hodges on Wednesday.

The instructors will be working at the 40,000 square kilometer Yavoriv Training site close to the Polish-Ukrainian border. This is the largest military firing range in Europe near the western Ukrainian city of Lvov.

The announcement by General Hodges confirms a report in Global Research in November that the US was planning to deploy instructors to the Yavoriv Training Area.

The US is reportedly ready to spend $19 million to train the Ukrainian National Guard. The money will come from the Global Security Contingency Fund (GSCF), requested by the Obama administration in the 2015 fiscal budget to provide training and apparel for the armed forces of American allies worldwide, which has already been approved by Congress.

The newly announced training comes within the framework of the US State Department initiative “to assist Ukraine in strengthening its law enforcement capabilities, conduct internal defense, and maintain rule of law,” told Defense News Pentagon’s spokeswoman Lt. Col. Vanessa Hillman.

Washington has also agreed to finance production of Ukrainian-made SRM-1 Kozak Light Armored Vehicle with a price tag of $189,000 each. The first prototype of the Kozak for use with the Ukrainian border guard was delivered on Monday, the US Embassy in Ukraine reported.

“The United States has delivered dozens of armored pickup trucks and vans to the Ukrainian Border Guard Service. The Kozak is larger and offers a higher level of protection,” the embassy said.

The armored Kozak vehicle has a V-shaped bottom to counter mine explosions and is assembled on a chassis manufactured by the Italian company Iveco.

READ MORE:

Russia warns US against supplying ‘lethal defensive aid’ to Ukraine

‘If US sends weapons to Ukraine, Russia should send troops’ – lawmaker

US commandos get permanent Eastern European foothold

‘US military hardware will cause more bloodshed in Ukraine’ – Russian official

January 23, 2015 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Failed experiment’: Privatized rail, water & utilities hit households financially – study

RT | December 9, 2014

British households could be saving £250 a year each if services such as railways and water were publicly owned rather than privatized, according to a new report.

Research conducted by Corporate Watch and We Own It reveals Britons could be saving hundreds of pounds if such services were taken out of private hands. In the long run, the British government, too, would save billions if services were renationalized.

Additionally, the investigation found that utility companies were paying out £12.7 billion a year in interest and dividends to their shareholders, while passing the cost burden to their customers.

The paper comes after a YouGov poll published earlier this month, which shows around 68 percent of the British public believe services would be better run by the state rather than private corporations.

The poll showed 84 percent of people wanted the NHS to remain in public hands, while 66 percent believed that major railways should be handed back to the state.

“Households are getting squeezed by ever-rising train ticket prices, energy bills and water bills, while incomes can’t keep pace,” said We Own It director Cat Hobbs.

“Politicians talk about the cost of living, but it’s time to look at the cost of privatized living.”

“Privatization is a failed experiment while public ownership could be a much more efficient alternative. We could run these services ourselves and save money, either for households or for government,” she added.

Average water bills have risen by 50 percent since privatization first began in 1989, while rail prices have consistently risen above inflation. Currently, prices of standard rail tickets are 23 percent higher in real terms than they were in 1995.

The majority of the UK’s public services were sold to private companies under the premiership of Margret Thatcher, whose administration aimed to shrink the British state and remove its cost burdens.

Corporate Watch added that substantial studies indicate transferring private utilities to public hands does have positive effects, claiming approval ratings in Germany shot up significantly when the state allowed water services to be administered by municipal authorities.

Similarly, they said that the East Coast Rail line, one of the few UK train services that is publicly owned, boasted an approval rating of 91 percent by regular commuters – far ahead of privately run services.

Earlier this year, an investigation conducted by the Independent showed that foreign companies, including those owned by European states, had received nearly £1 billion worth of dividends after taking out stakes in UK public services.

December 9, 2014 Posted by | Economics, Timeless or most popular | , , , | 3 Comments

I’m confused, can anyone help me? Part Three

RT | November 18, 2014

I’m confused. The first thing I’m confused about is democratic legitimacy after elections are held in war-torn countries.

Western leaders have hailed the recent parliamentary elections in Ukraine, as a great triumph of “democracy.”

Barack Obama said it was “an important milestone in Ukraine’s democratic development.” Top EU officials said it represented “a victory of the people of Ukraine and of democracy.”

Yet large parts of war-torn Ukraine took no part in the vote. Turnout, according to the Ukraine Central Election Commission was just 52.42 percent.

In May’s presidential elections, turnout, according to official figures, was 60.3 percent. They were won by Petro Poroshenko with 54.7 percent of the vote. Again, western leaders hailed the results as a great victory for “democracy.”

Now let’s consider the case of Syria, another war-torn country where there were also important elections this year.

Unlike Ukraine’s elections, leading western politicians did not say the result of Syria’s first multi-candidate presidential election in over forty years represented an “important milestone in Syria’s democratic development”- even though, according to official figures, the turnout was much higher than in Ukraine, at 73.42 percent.

Far from it, the same people who hailed the elections in Ukraine haughtily dismissed the election in Syria as a “farce.”

“This election bore no relation to genuine democracy. It was held in the midst of civil war,” said British Foreign Secretary William Hague.

“Today’s presidential election in Syria is a disgrace,” said US State Department spokesperson Maria Harf.

French Foreign Minister Laurent Fabius called Syria’s election a “fake.” Fabius did not telephone Bashar al-Assad, the winner, to offer his “warmest congratulations” as he did with Poroshenko.

How come one election held in a country divided by war is hailed as a “victory of the people and of democracy” but another election- where the turnout is higher -denounced? Why are Poroshenko and the Ukrainian Prime Minister Yatsenyuk deemed to be the legitimate representatives of the Ukrainian people but Bashar al-Assad, despite his higher level of popular support, denied any kind of democratic legitimacy? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

At the recent G20 summit in Brisbane, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper told Vladimir Putin to “get out of Ukraine.” Leaving aside the fact that there’s no hard evidence that Russia is in Ukraine – and that Harper didn’t produce any- the statement seems to imply that the Canadian Prime Minister doesn’t like other countries interfering in the affairs of others and believes in state sovereignty and the inviolability of state borders.

But in 2003, Harper was a strong supporter of the US-led invasion of Iraq (and wanted Canada to join in), a clear example of one county “getting” into another. He actually thought it was a “mistake” of the then Canadian government not to take part in the invasion of Iraq. Why is Stephen Harper so concerned about a non-existent Russian invasion of Ukraine, but happy to support a real, actual, and blatantly illegal invasion of Iraq?Does the Canadian Prime Minister support state sovereignty and the inviolability of state borders, or doesn’t he? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

David Cameron tells us that ISIS poses a “clear and present threat to the United Kingdom.” Yet only last year he was trying desperately to persuade Parliament to vote for air strikes against a secular Syrian government that was fighting ISIS and other radical extremists associated to al Al-Qaeda. Cameron describes ISIS as “an evil against which the whole world must unite,” but even now the British government, in common with other western governments is still working for the violent overthrow of the government in Damascus whose forces are the only ones on the ground in Syria capable of defeating ISIS. If defeating ISIS really was so important, why is the west trying to topple the anti-ISIS Syrian government? Why, if “the whole world must unite” against ISIS, won’t the British and western governments work with the Syrian government? I‘m confused. Can anyone help me?

To coincide with the launch of RT UK, we’ve seen a wave of attacks on RT by self-proclaimed “democrats” and “liberals” in the British media.Some of these attacks have urged Ofcom – the broadcasting regulator – to take action against RT. I always thought that being a “democrat” and “liberal” meant support for alternative voices being heard, not trying to stop people from hearing them. John Stuart Mill, the author of On Liberty, a classic text on liberalism, wrote of the “peculiar evil of silencing the expression of an opinion” and that “all silencing of discussion is an assumption of infallibility.”

So how come western “liberals” want to silence the opinions expressed on RT? Why are those who claim to be anti-censorship, so censorious when it comes to RT? I would have thought people calling themselves “democrats” and “liberals” would welcome a wide variety of news channels for people to watch, yet instead of that supporters of “free speech” are attacking a channel which broadcasts opinions which they don’t agree with it. I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

Western politicians say that they are appalled by the “barbarism” shown by ISIS in the various beheading videos they have released.But if beheading people is so bad (as most people would agree that it is), why is there no similar condemnation of the beheadings which take place in Saudi Arabia? In August, Amnesty International reported a “surge” in beheadings in Saudi Arabia, amounting to at least 23 in three weeks. Why are beheadings by ISIS “savage” but the ones carried out in Saudi Arabia acceptable? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

Pussy Riot, the Russian punk protest group who were jailed after a demonstration in an Orthodox Cathedral in Moscow are feted as heroes in the West, with a whole range of public figures including the pop star Madonna coming forward to express their support. But there was no such celebrity support for Trenton Oldfield, a protestor who was jailed for six months in Britain after trying to disrupt the Oxford- Cambridge University boat race in 2012. Oldfield said he was protesting against elitism, inequality and government cuts. If Pussy Riot’s cause is deserving of “progressive” support, then why isn’t Oldfield’s? Why are some anti-government protestors who go to jail hailed as heroes, but others totally ignored? I’m confused. Can anyone help me?

You can read I’m confused, can anyone help me Parts One and Two.

November 18, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Winston Churchill wanted to nuke Kremlin ‘to win Cold War,’ FBI memo reveals

RT | November 9, 2014

A secret memo from the FBI’s archives has revealed that Britain’s Winston Churchill once urged the US to drop an atomic bomb to “wipe out” the Kremlin. He reportedly thought it was the only remedy against the spread of communism to the west.

Churchill, Britain’s prime minister during World War II and again during the Cold War 1950s, made his views known to a visiting American politician in 1947, The Daily Mail reported in a preview of a new book, “When Lions Roar: The Churchills and The Kennedys” by investigative journalist Thomas Maier. The book containing the secret FBI memo is to be published next month.

Britain and the Soviet Union had been allies during WW2. However, according to the memo written by an FBI agent, Churchill asked a Right-wing Republican senator, Styles Bridges, to help persuade then-President Harry Truman to launch a nuclear attack which would make the former USSR easy to deal with.

The FBI memo claims Churchill insisted that the “only salvation for the civilization of the world would be if the President of the United States would declare Russia to be imperiling world peace and attack Russia.”

The Soviet Union tested its first atomic bomb in 1949, much to the surprise to the United States, which was apparently unaware that the Soviet Union possessed nuclear weapons.

Britain’s wartime leader allegedly pledged that if an atomic bomb could be dropped on the Kremlin, “wiping it out,” it would be “a very easy problem to handle the balance of Russia, which would be without direction.”

Churchill, who served as British PM twice, from 1940-45 and 1951-55, warned that if this was not done, Russia would attack America within “the next two or three years, when she gets the atomic bomb and civilization will be wiped out or set back many years.”

November 9, 2014 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, War Crimes | , , , , , | 3 Comments

UK Home Office issues threat against the functioning of democracy

RT |September 30, 2014

Powers banning extremists from appearing on TV and which allow police to vet “harmful” individuals’ social media activity would be enforced if the Conservatives return to power next year, Home Secretary Theresa May is set to announce.

The party manifesto will also pledge to introduce time-limited Extremist Disruption Orders to curb individuals’ right to speak at public events and control their social media usage. The maximum sentence could be up to 10 years in prison for breaking a banning order.

Announcing the plans at the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham on Tuesday, May will also promise greater powers for British police to access internet data.

Police and intelligence services would accrue greater access to details of when and where phone calls and emails are sent, but not their content.

Targeted individuals could be banned from taking part in public protests, certain public spaces, from associating with named people and from using broadcast media if deemed a threat to “the functioning of democracy.”

The Home Office counter-extremism strategy would encompass “the full spectrum of extremism” extending beyond radical Islamism to include far-right and fascist organizations.

Orders would target those who undertake activities “for the purpose of overthrowing democracy,” a broad definition that could encompass political activists of many different stripes.

Critics are expected to accuse the government’s gag order of dramatically widening state censorship against people who have never been convicted of a criminal offence.

In their final party conference ahead of the May 7 general election, the Conservatives aim to appear the toughest party on the threat of terrorism.

Prime Minister David Cameron told BBC Breakfast on Tuesday morning that new powers would go beyond mere advocates of violence, instead targeting those who propagate dangerous views and radicalize others.

Currently, organizations can only be banned if there is evidence of links to terrorism.

“The problem that we have had is this distinction of saying we will only go after you if you are an extremist that directly supports violence,” said Cameron. … Full article

September 30, 2014 Posted by | Civil Liberties, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

US bans Europol from releasing its own documents to European officials

RT | September 9, 2014

The United States has instructed Europol, the European Union’s police agency, to withhold its own annual internal data-protection review from EU lawmakers because the report was written without the US Treasury Department’s permission.

Europol drafted the data-protection report “without prior written authorisation from the information owner (in this case the Treasury Department),” according to the US, violating “security protocols” that could “undermine the relationship of trust needed to share sensitive information between enforcement agencies.”

The report, drafted by Europol’s Joint Supervisory Body, outlines how data concerning EU citizens and residents is transferred to the US, according to the EUobserver. The document is mainly known to monitor implementation of the EU-US Terrorist Finance Tracking Program, or TFTP. Basically, the US Treasury Department is quite territorial about how the TFTP is adhering to European data protection compliance.

EU ombudsman Emily O’Reilly said Europol refused to allow her to see the report based on US demands. O’Reilly then confronted US ambassador to the EU Anthony Gardner in July. Gardner confirmed the order.

On Thursday, O’Reilly said she sent a letter to the European Parliament asking the body “to consider whether it is acceptable that an agreement with a foreign government should prevent the Ombudsman from doing her job.”

“If the US says ‘No disclosure’ then it won’t be disclosed, which is ridiculous because we are EU citizens, we vote, we pay taxes, we have EU laws, and we decide what happens on this continent. Nobody else,” Dutch MEP liberal Sophie In’t Veld told EUobserver. In’t Veld first requested the report in 2012.

In’t Veld said there is no top-secret information in the report that should be viewed as overly sensitive.

“There is no operational information, there is no intelligence, there is nothing in the document. So you really wonder why it is kept a secret,” she said.

The TFTP has received scrutiny in the last year after documents supplied by former US government contractor Edward Snowden showed mass spying by the US National Security Agency on citizens and officials across the world, including in the EU.

The Snowden leaks showed the NSA had gained a “back door” entrance into the SWIFT servers – SWIFT being a financial-record sharing program, which revealed the banking details of millions of European citizens, despite the fact that access to this financial data was limited by the TFTP.

September 9, 2014 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance | , , , , , | Leave a comment

EU admits Putin’s comment on ‘storming Kiev’ taken out of context

RT | September 5, 2014

The EU has admitted that Vladimir Putin’s words about “taking Kiev in two weeks” had been “made public out of context,” said a spokeswoman for the European Commission President in a written response to The Wall Street Journal.

José Manuel Barroso’s spokesperson Pia Ahrenkilde-Hansen said on Thursday the EU is going to address the issue “through diplomatic channels, not in the press.”

“I can only add that the president of the Commission informed his colleagues in the European Council in a restricted session of the conversations he had with President Putin. Unfortunately part of his intervention was made public out of context,” Ahrenkilde-Hansen wrote to the WSJ.

Last week Barroso gave a briefing on his phone conversation with President Vladimir Putin, describing the conversation as “very frank.” During the talk, the EU functionary alleged the Russian president had said that if necessary military occupation of the Ukrainian capital would take just a matter of weeks.

Italia’s La Repubblica was among the very first to overblow the scandal, saying that José Manuel Barroso had told European leaders who attended Saturday’s EU summit in Brussels that replying to Barroso’s accusations about regular Russian troop operating in Ukraine, President Putin had said that “If I wanted to, I could take Kiev in two weeks.”

An EU official has confirmed to the WSJ that Putin’s note about Russian forces being able to take Kiev within two weeks did take place during last week’s telephone call, but the context of the comment was not clear.

The unexpected divulgement by the top EU official immediately sparked a political scandal involving Russia’s high ranking officials and diplomats, who accused Barroso of both intentionally wrenching Russian leader’s remarks out of context as well as breaching diplomatic protocol.

According to Russia’s permanent representative to the EU, Vladimir Chizhov, Putin’s words were “clearly taken out of context.”

On Tuesday, September 2, Moscow threatened to reveal the full recording of the controversial phone call “to remove all misunderstandings” if European Commission President Jose Manual Barroso doesn’t object in the next two days, Chizhov said.

Russia’s presidential aide Yury Ushakov lashed at the EU Commission president’s behavior, stressing it is “incorrect and goes beyond the bounds of diplomatic practices.”

“If that was really done, it is not worthy of a serious political figure,” Ushakov added.

As the EU official acknowledged on Thursday, September 4, President Putin possibly made the comment to strengthen Russia’s position of not and never being involved militarily in Ukrainian crisis.

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September 5, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Reports of Russia’s military build-up on Ukraine border groundless – Moscow

RT | August 6, 2014

Moscow slammed NATO and Pentagon claims that Russia is amassing military near the border with Ukraine calling them unsubstantiated, according to a statement made by a Ministry of Defense spokesman.

“In Russia’s Ministry of Defense such statements only raise sympathy for the speakers of the Pentagon, the US State Department and NATO. It seems the people are serious, but they have to constantly improvise during their speeches to somehow add seriousness to their statements,” said Igor Konashenkov, spokesman for the ministry Major General, on Wednesday.

Pentagon spokesman, Rear Admiral John Kirby, told reporters on Tuesday that Russia has at least 10,000 troops on Ukraine’s border.

Following this, on Wednesday, NATO spokeswoman Oana Lungescu stated that Russia has already amassed around 20,000 combat-ready troops on the border.

Konashenkov said that “we would like to explain to the Pentagon and NATO officials that it is impossible to perform such a manoeuver with thousands of soldiers with weapons and military equipment in such a short time, all the more to keep it secret from OSCE observers now in the region.”

In late July, the OSCE deployed sixteen observers to two border-crossings in Russia – Gukovo and Donetsk, following a request to the organization by the Russian government.

The regular “tales” of Russian troops amassing near the border with Ukraine are reminiscent “of an auction selling soap bubbles, where the main goal is to set the price higher before the bubble bursts.”

This is the reason Pentagon and NATO figures vary so much, he explained.

Russia has conducted a series of war games since the start of the crisis in Ukraine. The latest five-day military exercise started on Monday in Russia’s south at the Ashuluk test site near Astrakhan, more than 700 kilometers away from the Ukrainian conflict zone.

The tests were scheduled last year, according to Russia’s Ministry of Defense.

The Major General pointed out that the representatives of the US and NATO, which have been inspecting the border under the ‘Open Skies’ mission, “consistently cannot find” any evidence of a military build-up.

“At the same time, a grouping of 25,000 Ukrainian military forces leading military actions near the border with Russia, for some reason, does not cause any concern in Europe or the United States.”

Earlier, Russia’s Defense Ministry accused the US of releasing “fake” satellite images allegedly proving Russia had shelled Ukraine territory. The images were posted by the US ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt on his Twitter account on July 27. Moscow said that because of “extremely low resolution” and “due to the absence of any attribution to the exact area” the images’ “authenticity is impossible to prove.”

August 6, 2014 Posted by | Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering | , , , | Leave a comment