by John Manfreda - Oilprice.com In the age of derivatives, swaps, and electronic money transfers, a new form of warfare has emerged: financial warfare. Recently, the US has passed sanctions on countries such as Syria, Venezuela, and North Korea , but the majority of energy related sanctions passed have been targeted at Iran and Russia.
An estimated 68 percent of Russia's government revenue is derived from oil and gas exports, while 80 percent of Iran's revenue comes from oil exports. That presents a very large target for the use of financial weapons.
To understand why financial warfare is now so commonplace, one must understand how it came into existence and what has been achieved taking such an approach.
The latest political move by the U.S.-backed “pro-democracy” regime in Ukraine was to foist on the people of Odessa the autocratic Georgian ex-President Mikheil Saakashvili, a neoconservative favorite and currently a fugitive from his own country which is seeking him on charges of human rights violations and embezzlement.
New York Times correspondent David M. Herszenhorn justified this imposition of a newly minted Ukrainian citizen on the largely Russian-speaking population of Odessa by saying that “the Ukrainian public’s general willingness to accept the appointment of foreigners to high-level positions underscores the deep lack of trust in any government after nearly a quarter-century of mismanagement and corruption.”
Mikheil Saakashvili, President of Georgia and U.S. President George Bush at a NATO meeting. (Photo: NATO)
But Herszenhorn made no apparent effort to gauge how willing the people of Odessa are to accept this choice of a controversial foreign politician to govern them. The pick was made by President Petro Poroshenko and is just the latest questionable appointment by the post-coup regime in Kiev.
The US Senate voted by a top-heavy bipartisan majority Tuesday to approve legislation that extends several key spying programs of the National Security Agency.
President Obama declared his intention to sign the bill into law “as soon as I get it” in order to allow the NSA to resume the collection of telephone metadata and several other surveillance efforts that had nominally been suspended with the expiration of authorization under the Patriot Act Sunday night.
While the White House, congressional leaders of both parties and the American media are all portraying the so-called USA Freedom Act as a significant restriction on NSA spying, an effort to “strike a balance” between security and civil liberties, it is nothing of the kind.
Last week, tens of thousands of Paraguayans were out in the streets of the capital, culminating a ten consecutive day protest against the government's Public-Private Partnerships, or APP legislation.
This followed a general strike in March demanding higher wages, better labour protections, a stronger social welfare system, and an end to privatizations schemes like the APP. But Paraguay is just one Latin American country trending back towards oligarchic corporatocracy. It wasn't meant to be that way, Paraguay has a progressive, former priest as leader, but in 2012 his hopes, and those of the poor majority in the country were dashed by a coup - a coup Canada supported.
As in Haiti, and Honduras, and Egypt, and Afghanistan, and the former Ukraine, Stephen Harper likes corpo-fascists, and doesn't mind at all the coups that bring them to power.
What Harper and his minders in Washington don't like however is democracy; especially a democracy with an eye to serving any other than the interests of that tiny sliver of the people constituting the crème de la crème of the elite; as in Venezuela. Venezuela is squarely in the gunboat sights of Mr. Obama, and his useful quislings in Ottawa, just as it was for the Pope of Hope's predecessor, George W. Bush.
Asad Ismi is an award-winning journalist and radio documentary producer focused on Yankee imperialism in the Global South and the resistance there to it. The international affairs correspondent for the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives' news magazine Monitor, Asad recently published, 'Canada and the US Go Digging for Regime Change in Venezuela.'
Asad Ismi in the first half.
And; the prospect of the USAPatriot Act's demise in the United States over the weekend had some hoping for real change in the surveillance state created since the 9/11 attacks. That optimism is dimming now with the quick passage of the Freedom Act, a faux effort at reforming the egregious original. In Canada things are even worse, with Bill C-51 poised to sail through the rump senate on its way to easy ratification. C-51 is what the Patriot Act would have liked to become, if only American law would allow it. What that means for Canadians is a future lived in the Panopticon, where every move you make is monitored, every call you place recorded, every notion you utter scrutinized for thought crimes. But, there is push back on C-51, and its authors.
And; Victoria Street Newz publisher emeritus and CFUV Radio broadcaster, Janine Bandcroft will not be with us today, as business calls her away. So first up, Asad Ismi and Canada and the US digging away at Venezuela's democracy.
It couldn’t be a sunnier, more beautiful day to exit your lives -- or enter them -- depending on how you care to look at it. After all, here you are four years later in your graduation togs with your parents looking on, waiting to celebrate. The question is: Celebrate what exactly?
In possibly the last graduation speech of 2015, I know I should begin by praising your grit, your essential character, your determination to get this far. But today, it’s money, not character, that’s on my mind. For so many of you, I suspect, your education has been a classic scam and you’re not even attending a “for profit” college -- an institution of higher learning, that is, officially set up to take you for a ride.
Maybe this is the moment, then, to begin your actual education by looking back and asking yourself what you should really have learned on this campus and what you should expect in the scams -- I mean, years -- to come.
The prominent philosopher, religious thinker, political activist and educator from the 20th century, Martin Buber, was writing about the 18th century Hasidic rabbi, Zusya. Just before dying, Rabbi Zusya said, "In the coming world, they will not ask me, 'Why were you not Moses?' They will ask me, 'Why were you not Zusya?'”
This is a theme repeated often in wisdom literature. It was prominent advice offered by the famous American mythologist, Joseph Campbell. When asked about mythology's principal message to individual people, Campbell advised that a fulfilling life comes from “following your bliss”.
By this he meant that mythological stories are guides to our inner integrity, to our sense of identity, to our own authentic character.
Progressive Apocalypse: Obama Opens Door to Nuclear Nightmare
by Chris Floyd - Empire Burlesque As all the world knows, the United States government is fervently dedicated to advancing the cause of peace throughout the world. Tirelessly, selflessly — and thanklessly — America pursues this noble mission in every corner of the globe: standing shoulder to shoulder with Saudi extremists in slaughtering civilians in Yemen, with al Qaeda and ISIS beheading their way across Syria, with fascist militias in Ukraine. But recently, America’s Nobel Peace Prize-winning president went far beyond these localized acts of lovingkindness and made a beneficent decision that potentially could effect every single person drawing breath on our blue planet.
Late last month, the Peace Prize Prez (PPPOTUS) “blocked a global document aimed at ridding the world of nuclear weapons,” the Washington Post reports. Obama’s peace-loving action means that “the entire blueprint for global nuclear disarmament and non-proliferation” has been killed dead in its tracks.
It will now be five years until the next UN review of the landmark Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.
by Mike Whitney - CounterPunch US Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter is willing to risk a war with China in order to defend “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea. Speaking in Honolulu, Hawaii on Wednesday, Carter issued his “most forceful” warning yet, demanding “an immediate and lasting halt to land reclamation” by China in the disputed Spratly Islands.
“There should be no mistake: The United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as we do all around the world.”
He also added that the United States intended to remain “the principal security power in the Asia-Pacific for decades to come.”
In order to show Chinese leaders “who’s the boss”, Carter has threatened to deploy US warships and surveillance aircraft to within twelve miles of the islands that China claims are within their territorial waters. Not surprisingly, the US is challenging China under the provisions of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea, a document the US has stubbornly refused to ratify.
But that’s neither here nor there for the bellicose Carter whose insatiable appetite for confrontation makes him the most reckless Sec-Def since Donald Rumsfeld.
Amnesty International Ukraine War Crimes Report Fails the Test
by Roger Annis - CounterPunch Amnesty International has issued a 33-page report on the treatment of captured combatants and of civilians caught in the crossfire of the civil war (‘Anti-Terrorist Operation’) that the governing regime in Kyiv launched in eastern Ukraine in April 2014. Titled, ‘ Breaking Bodies: Torture and Summary Killings in Eastern Ukraine‘, the report presents grave allegations against the Ukrainian government and against the defense forces of the Donetsk and Lugansk people’s republics. Allegations include forced and illegal detentions, prisoner abuse and torture, and summary executions.
The report has made headlines in Western mainstream press. One reason for that is its authorship. Amnesty International is a respected and renowned agency. But another reason is the nature of the report itself-it accuses both sides in the civil war with equal vigour.
That appeals to editors of Western publications who for the past year have systematically ignored or downplayed the documented accusations levied against the Ukrainian government and its armed forces and allied paramilitaries in earlier human rights reports.
The witness reported men being hung by the feet or the thumbs, waterboarded, given electric shocks to the genitals, and suffering from extended solitary confinement in what he said were indescribably inhumane conditions. It’s the sort of description that might have come right out of the executive summary of the Senate torture report released last December. In this case, however, the testimony was not about a “black site” somewhere in the Greater Middle East, nor was it a description from Abu Ghraib, nor in fact from this century at all.
The testimony came from Vietnam; the year was 1968; the witness was Anthony J. Russo, one of the first Americans to report on the systematic torture of enemy combatants by CIA operatives and other U.S. agents in that long-gone war. The acts Russo described became commonplace in the news post-9/11 and he would prove to be an early example of what also became commonplace in our century: a whistleblower who found himself on the wrong side of the law and so was prosecuted for releasing the secret truth about the acts of our government.
Determined to shine a light on what he called “the truth held prisoner,” Russo blew the whistle on American torture policy in Vietnam and on an intelligence debacle at the center of Vietnam decision-making that helped turn that war into the nightmare it was. Neither of his revelations saw the light of day in his own time or ours and while Daniel Ellsberg, his compatriot and companion in revelation, remains a major figure for his role in releasing the Pentagon Papers, Russo is a forgotten man.
That’s too bad. He shouldn’t be forgotten. His is, unfortunately, a story of our times as well as his.
Of course I oppose slander and abuse, but I also reject any form of censorship and thought control. Even though, more than anyone else, I have been the target of vile slander, I will not sign this petition nor will I support it.
The petition pledges to “block”, “delete” and/or “remove” those who behave in such a way as to interfere with ‘unity’.