The Long Shadow of Chernobyl

John Vidal wrote for the Guardian in July 2014:

Victor Gaydack is now in his 70s and lives in a Kiev suburb. In April 1986 he was a major in the Russian army, on duty when reactor four at Chernobyl exploded. He was one of tens of thousands of fit, young “liquidators” sent in from all over the Soviet Union to try to make safe the stricken reactor. Since the accident, Gaydack has suffered two heart attacks, and developed severe stomach cancer.

Who is to say that Gaydack’s conditions were not caused by the accident or would have happened without the explosion? Or that the many mentally disabled Belarussian children and the thousands of people born in the fallout region who today suffer from thyroid cancers and congenital diseases were not also Chernobyl victims? Estimates of the eventual deaths, cancers, heart diseases, ailments and malformations that will eventually result from the accident vary enormously and are still bitterly contested by scientists.

What is certain is that about 350,000 people like Gaydack were evacuated and resettled from the high-level 2,600 square kilometre contamination zone that stretches from Ukraine into Belarus and Russia. It is certain, too, that the accident cost tens of billions of dollars in today’s money and that the area around the plant will be psychologically cursed for hundreds, if not tens of thousands of years.

What has been less understood however is that Chernobyl changed the course of the world’s history and that its long shadow will hang over nuclear power for centuries. In an essay in National Geographic photographer Gerd Ludwig’s new book of the aftermath of the accident, Mikhail Gorbachev, the last president of the Soviet Union and on whose watch Chernobyl occurred, makes it clear – not for the first time – that the accident greatly accelerated the end of Soviet Union.’

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Sunday Times Rich List: Britain’s richest double their wealth in 10 years

Press Association reports:

The collective wealth of Britain’s richest people has more than doubled in the last 10 years, according to the Sunday Times Rich List.

This year’s list found the wealthiest 1,000 individuals and families now have a combined fortune of just over £547bn – or £547m each on average.

The figure has more than doubled since a total of just under £250bn was recorded in 2005, despite the world economy being gripped by a punishing recession over much of the last decade.

Plain old millionaires increasingly struggle to count themselves among the mega-rich, with a fortune of £100m now required to make it into the top 1,000. That is £15m higher than last year’s minimum.’

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#AlbumoftheWeek ~ No. 1 In Heaven by Sparks (1979)

‘It may not have been the most natural match in music history, but the marriage of Sparks‘ focus on oddball pop songs to the driving disco-trance of Giorgio Moroder produced the duo’s best album in years. From the chart hits “Number One Song in Heaven” and “Beat the Clock” to solid album tracks like “La Dolce Vita,” No. 1 in Heaven surprises by succeeding on an artistic and commercial level despite the fact that neither the Mael brothers nor Moroder tempered their respective idiosyncrasies for the project. Moroder’s production is just as dizzying, chunky, and completely rhythm-driven as on his best work with Donna Summer, and the Mael brothers prove on “Tryouts for the Human Race” and “Academy Award Performance” that their bizarre songwriting wasn’t compromised.’ (John Bush for All Music)

NATO role in 2011 Gadhafi ouster may have given rise to Islamic State presence in Libya

John Vandiver and Slobodan Lekic reports for Stars & Stripes:

As NATO announced the end of its seven-month bombing campaign in Libya that helped topple dictator Moammar Gadhafi, the top military officials expressed their pride in the alliance’s achievement.

“A successful chapter in NATO’s history is coming to an end,” Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen told Libya’s new leaders in Tripoli in October 2011, just days after rebels had caught and murdered a fleeing Gadhafi. Rasmussen said he expected a new Libya to arise, “based on freedom, democracy, human rights, the rule of law and reconciliation.”

Top U.S. officials also chimed in.

“We came, we saw, he died,” a triumphant then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared to a television reporter.

Four years after NATO’s “successful chapter,” Libya is in chaos, a failed state with two rival but powerless governments and dozens of warlords and militia groups fighting it out in the streets of its cities. The once-thriving oil-based economy — now a waypoint for tens of thousands of refugees from Africa and the Middle East fleeing to Europe — could be the radical Islamic State group’s next target.’

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Litany of suffering: Selected mass killings in the 20th century

Litany of Suffering - Selected Mass Killings in the 20th Century

Two decades since the Oklahoma City Bombing

Editor’s Note: This is an excerpt from part one. You can read part two here.

Roger Charles writes for WhoWhatWhy:

The Murrah Federal Building two days after the bombing.‘Two decades have passed since the April 19, 1995, Oklahoma City bombing. It was the deadliest act of domestic terrorism in American history, and 168 people died, including 19 children.

The attack on the Murrah Federal Building was said to be the work of Timothy McVeigh and two confederates, described as right-wing extremists with an anti-government agenda. McVeigh was executed by lethal injection and Terry Nichols and Michael Fortier were given prison sentences.

Now, however, major cracks have appeared in the federal government’s story—a story long considered by some victims’ families to be little more than a stonewall of mendacity and distortion. New revelations suggest that the government may be covering up prior interactions between intelligence services and the accused. In this way, Oklahoma City poses some of the same questions raised by 9/11 and the Boston Marathon Bombing—other national security traumas where Washington has worked hard to block potentially devastating disclosures.’

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A People Expunged: Marking the 100th Anniversary of Armenian Genocide amid Ongoing Turkish Denials

‘This week marks the 100th anniversary of the Armenian genocide. On April 24, 1915, the Young Turk government of the Ottoman Empire began a systematic, premeditated genocide against the Armenian people — an unarmed Christian minority living under Turkish rule. An estimated 1.5 million Armenians were exterminated through direct killing, starvation, torture and forced death marches. Another million fled into permanent exile. Today, the Turkish government continues to deny this genocide, and since becoming president, President Obama has avoided using the term “genocide” to describe it. We’re joined by Peter Balakian, professor of humanities at Colgate University and author of “The Burning Tigris: The Armenian Genocide and America’s Response”; Anahid Katchian, whose father was a survivor of the 1915 Armenian genocide; and Simon Maghakyan, an activist with Armenians of Colorado. We also play a recording of Armenian broadcaster and writer David Barsamian’s mother recalling her experience during the Armenian genocide as a young girl. Araxie Barsamian survived, but her parents and brothers did not.’ (Democracy Now!)

From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

Patrick Cockburn writes for The Independent:

Few recall that David Cameron led Britain into one war in Libya that overthrew Gaddafi, but was disastrous for most Libyans. Without this conflict, the drowned bodies of would-be emigrants to Europe would not be washing up in their hundreds on Libyan beaches. To get the full flavour of what went wrong, it is worth watching a YouTube clip of Cameron grandstanding on a balcony in Benghazi on 15 September 2011, as he lauds Libya’s new freedom. Then turn to almost any recent film of Benghazi or Tripoli showing militias battling in streets and buildings shattered by shellfire.

Another scene worth revisiting via YouTube is the House of Commons on 29 August 2013, when Cameron lost the vote which would have opened the door to British military intervention in Syria. Ostensibly this was in response to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government in Damascus, but would have had an effect only if it had turned into a Libyan-type air campaign to overthrow President Bashar al-Assad. There is every reason to believe that al-Qaeda-type movements would have filled the vacuum and Syria would have descended even deeper into anarchy.

What is striking here is not so much that Cameron never seemed to have much idea about what was going on in Libya or Syria as the degree to which his culpability has never been an issue. Contrast this with the way in which Tony Blair is still pilloried for the decisions he took over going to war in Iraq in 2003. Focus on the decisions taken in the lead-up to the invasion has become a national obsession in which Blair is a scapegoat, as if most of the British establishment and popular opinion did not support him at the time. Admittedly this support was partly the result of concocted evidence about Saddam Hussein’s non-existent WMD, but there is something absurd about the fact that it is almost impossible these days to meet a diplomat or a general who does not claim to have been deeply, if silently, opposed to the whole venture at the time.’

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Europe’s security challenges should mean more defense spending, says Pentagon chief

David Alexander reports for Reuters:

Europe should be spending more on its military given the security challenges facing the region, U.S. Defense Secretary Ash Carter said on Wednesday, adding that falling investment had eroded Europe’s ability to be a capable U.S. ally.

“They’re not doing enough. They are spending a smaller share of their GDP than they have in the past, (than) we do now and (than) many, like Russia, are spending. It’s too low,” Carter told a group of university students training as military officers.

The Pentagon chief made the remarks after being asked by one student what the United States could do to encourage Europe to be more financially committed to its own defense.

Low European military spending has long been a sore point for the United States. U.S. presidents and defense secretaries regularly urge the allies to stop the slide in spending.’

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The world of threats to the US is an illusion

Stephen Kinzer writes for The Boston Globe:

‘When Americans look out at the world, we see a swarm of threats. China seems resurgent and ambitious. Russia is aggressive. Iran menaces our allies. Middle East nations we once relied on are collapsing in flames. Latin American leaders sound steadily more anti-Yankee. Terror groups capture territory and commit horrific atrocities. We fight Ebola with one hand while fending off Central American children with the other.

In fact, this world of threats is an illusion. The United States has no potent enemies. We are not only safe, but safer than any big power has been in all of modern history.

Geography is our greatest protector. Wide oceans separate us from potential aggressors. Our vast homeland is rich and productive. No other power on earth is blessed with this security.

Our other asset is the weakness of potential rivals. It will be generations before China is able to pose a serious challenge to the United States — and there is little evidence it wishes to do so. Russia is weak and in deep economic trouble — not always a friendly neighbor but no threat to the United States. Heart-rending violence in the Middle East has no serious implication for American security. As for domestic terrorism, the risk for Americans is modest: You have more chance of being struck by lightning on your birthday than of dying in a terror attack.’

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Five Disturbing Things You Didn’t Know About Forensic “Science”

Jordan Smith reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Five Disturbing Things You Didn’t Know About Forensic “Science”Last week, The Washington Post revealed that in 268 trials dating back to 1972, 26 out of 28 examiners within the FBI Laboratory’s microscopic hair comparison unit “overstated forensic matches in a way that favored prosecutors in more than 95 percent” of the cases. These included cases where 14 people have since been either executed or died in prison.

The hair analysis review — the largest-ever post-conviction review of questionable forensic evidence by the FBI — has been ongoing since 2012. The review is a joint effort by the FBI, Innocence Project and the National Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. The preliminary results announced last week represent just a small percentage of the nearly 3,000 criminal cases in which the FBI hair examiners may have provided analysis. Of the 329 DNA exonerations to date, 74 involved flawed hair evidence analysis.

While these revelations are certainly disturbing — and the implications alarming — the reality is that they represent the tip of the iceberg when it comes to flawed forensics.’

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What Obama’s Refusal to Acknowledge the Armenian Genocide Tells Us About the U.S. — and the Rest of the World

Jon Schwarz writes for The Intercept:

‘[…] During Barack Obama’s 2008 campaign, he explicitly promised that “as President I will recognize the Armenian Genocide.” Samantha Power, author of A Problem From Hell: America and the Age of Genocide and now Obama’s ambassador to the U.N., recorded a video urging Armenian Americans to support him because he would acknowledge the genocide: “I know [Obama] very well and he’s a person of incredible integrity. … He’s a true friend of the Armenian people, an acknowledger of the history … he’s a person who can actually be trusted.”

Obama’s commitment was quietly removed from his website sometime afterDecember 2010, and this Armenian Remembrance Day, he broke his promise for the seventh year in a row.’

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The Gallipoli centenary is a shameful attempt to hide the Armenian Holocaust

Robert Fisk wrote for The Independent back in January:

An image from 1915. Turkey deported two thirds of the Armenian population; many were either killed or died of starvation during the journeyWhen world leaders, including Prince Charles and the Australian and New Zealand prime ministers, gather at Gallipoli to commemorate the First World War battle at the invitation of the Turkish government in April, the ghosts of one and half million slaughtered Christian Armenians will march with them.

For in an unprecedented act of diplomatic folly, Turkey is planning to use the 100th anniversary of the Allied attempt to invade Turkey in 1915 to smother memory of its own mass killing of the Armenians of the Ottoman Empire, the 20th century’s first semi-industrial holocaust. The Turks have already sent invitations to 102 nations to attend the Gallipoli anniversary on 24th April — on the very day when Armenia always honours its own genocide victims at the hands of Ottoman Turkey.

In an initiative which he must have known would be rejected, Turkish President Recep Erdogan even invited the Armenian President, Serge Sarkissian, to attend the Gallipoli anniversary after himself receiving an earlier request from President Sarkissian to attend ceremonies marking the Armenian genocide on the same day.

This is not just diplomatic mischief. The Turks are well aware that the Allied landings at Gallipoli began on 25th April – the day after Armenians mark the start of their genocide, which was ordered by the Turkish government of the time – and that Australia and New Zealand mark Anzac Day on the 25th.’

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Gallipoli: Churchill’s Disaster

Eric Margolis writes:

One hundred years ago this month -April 1915 – the Allies and Germany were stalemated on the Western Front. Winston Churchill, the young, ambitious First Lord of the British Admiralty proposed a scheme first advanced by France’s prime minister, Aristide Briand.

The best way for Britain and France to end the stalemate and link up to their isolated ally, Russia, would be a daring “coup de main,” or surprise attack, to seize the Ottoman Empire’s Dardanelles, occupy Constantinople (today Istanbul) and knock Turkey out of the First World War. Though rickety, Austria/Hungary and the Ottoman Empire were Germany’s most important wartime ally.

Churchill’s plan was to send battleships of the British and French navies to smash their way through Turkey’ decrepit, obsolete forts along the narrow Dardanelles that connects the Aegean and Mediterranean with the Sea of Marmara, Constantinople and the Black Sea, Russia’s maritime lifeline.

This bold naval intrusion, that some predicted would rival Admiral Horatio Nelson’s dramatic attack in 1801 on Danish-Norwegian Fleet sheltered at Copenhagen, would quickly win the war and achieve for  Churchill  his ardent ambition of becoming supreme warlord.’

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Chilcot inquiry into Iraq war may be delayed beyond 2015

Richard Norton-Taylor reports for The Guardian:

Sir John ChilcotThe long-awaited Chilcot report into the 2003 invasion of Iraq may be delayed until next year because the inquiry is mired in increasingly heated argument about the criticism it intends to make of some of the leading individuals involved, including Tony Blair, his foreign secretary, Jack Straw, and the then head of MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove.

The report was delayed initially because of a dispute, which lasted for three years, between Sir John Chilcot and successive cabinet secretaries – Gus O’Donnell, and Jeremy Heywood – over which notes of conversations between Blair and George Bush, the US president, and minutes of cabinet meetings, could be published.

Chilcot wanted to wait for the conclusion of that dispute, which was settled only last year, before sending out “Maxwellisation” letters to those he intended to criticise. Under this process, named after a court case concerning the late Robert Maxwell, individuals have the right to see draft passages where they are criticised so they can respond before the final report is published.’

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10 Most Censored Countries

Committee to Protect Journalists published a preview of their annual Attacks on the Press report, which released on Monday, 27 April:

Eritrea and North Korea are the first and second most censored countries worldwide, according to a list compiled by the Committee to Protect Journalists of the 10 countries where the press is most restricted. The list is based on research into the use of tactics ranging from imprisonment and repressive laws to harassment of journalists and restrictions on Internet access.

In Eritrea, President Isaias Afewerki has succeeded in his campaign to crush independent journalism, creating a media climate so oppressive that even reporters for state-run news outlets live in constant fear of arrest. The threat of imprisonment has led many journalists to choose exile rather than risk arrest. Eritrea is Africa’s worst jailer of journalists, with at least 23 behind bars-none of whom has been tried in court or even charged with a crime.

Fearing the spread of Arab Spring uprisings, Eritrea scrapped plans in 2011 to provide mobile Internet for its citizens, limiting the possibility of access to independent information. Although Internet is available, it is through slow dial-up connections, and fewer than 1 percent of the population goes online, according to U.N. International Telecommunication Union figures. Eritrea also has the lowest figure globally of cell phone users, with just 5.6 percent of the population owning one.

In North Korea, 9.7 percent of the population has cell phones, a number that excludes access to phones smuggled in from China. In place of the global Internet, to which only a select few powerful individuals have access, some schools and other institutions have access to a tightly controlled intranet. And despite the arrival of an Associated Press bureau in Pyongyang in 2012, the state has such a tight grip on the news agenda that newsreel was re-edited to remove Kim Jong Un’s disgraced uncle from the archives after his execution.

The tactics used by Eritrea and North Korea are mirrored to varying degrees in other heavily censored countries. To keep their grip on power, repressive regimes use a combination of media monopoly, harassment, spying, threats of journalist imprisonment, and restriction of journalists’ entry into or movements within their countries.’

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Obama’s Lawyers: Let’s Extend the 9/11 Wars Forever

Shane Harris reports for The Daily Beast:

Obama stated unconditionally in his State of the Union address in January that “our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.”

But in a recent speech to the annual meeting of the American Society of International Law, an often-used venue for Obama administration officials to make extensive remarks on national security policy, the Defense Department’s general counsel seemed to reinterpret the president’s earlier statements. The lawyer appeared to walk back his more emphatic pronouncements about the end of America’s longest war.

“Although our presence in [Afghanistan] has been reduced and our mission there is more limited, the fact is that active hostilities continue,” Stephen Preston, the Pentagon’s top lawyer, said in a speech April 10. And, he added, “There is no doubt that we remain in a state of armed conflict against the Taliban, al Qaeda, and associated forces as a matter of international law.”

Preston’s observations were supported by facts: Thousands of U.S. troops remain in the country. They are still dying there. And President Obama has decided to slow their withdrawal so the U.S. can continue to conduct counterterrorism operations.’

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The Key War on Terror Propaganda Tool: Only Western Victims Are Acknowledged

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

‘In all the years I’ve been writing about Obama’s drone killings, yesterday featured by far the most widespread critical discussion in U.S. establishment journalism circles. This long-suppressed but crucial fact about drones was actually trumpeted as the lead headline on the front page of The New York Times yesterday:

The reason for the unusually intense, largely critical coverage of drone killings yesterday is obvious: the victims of this strike were western and non-Muslim, and therefore were seen as actually human.’

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John Oliver on the NCAA not paying athletes

‘The NCAA doesn’t pay athletes because they consider them amateurs. The NCAA considers them amateurs because they don’t get paid.’ (Last Week Tonight with John Oliver)

Critics Charge That Migration Crisis Is ‘A Creation of the West’

Deirdre Fulton reports for Common Dreams:

While the European Union grapples with how to address the worsening Mediterranean migrant crisis, some critics are laying blame for the unfolding tragedy on the U.S. and NATO, whose 2011 military intervention severely destabilized Libya, the North African country that has been described as “Ground Zero in the migrant crisis.”

As European leaders gathered Thursday for an emergency summit, and funerals were held for refugees who drowned in last weekend’s capsizing disaster, many have noted that to comprehensively address the migration crisis countries must tackle root causes—namely poverty, political instability, and civil war, as well as European xenophobia.

Humanitarian and human rights groups charge that the European Union’s “minimalist” plan barely does even that.

But others are pointing out that those root causes did not emerge in a vacuum, and they are calling on Western powers to take some responsibility for creating the crisis.’

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When the Student Movement Was a CIA Front

Aryeh Neier writes in a book review of Patriotic Betrayal for The American Prospect:

In its March 1967 issue,  Ramparts, a glossy West Coast muckraking periodical that expired in 1975, and that strongly opposed American involvement in the war in Vietnam, published an exposé of the close relationship between the Central Intelligence Agency and the National Student Association. This other NSA—not to be confused with the National Security Agency—was then the leading American organization representing college students, with branches on about 400 campuses. Its ties with the CIA were formed in the early years of both institutions following World War II, as the Cold War was getting under way.

According to  Ramparts, the CIA had been providing much of the funding for the NSA through various “conduits.” NSA officers, many of them wittingly, had served the interests of the CIA by participating actively in international youth and student movements. The NSA’s activities were financed by the Agency both to counter communist influence and also to provide information on people from other countries with whom they came in contact. The disclosures about the CIA’s ties to the NSA were the most sensational of a number of revelations in that era that exposed the Agency’s involvement in such institutions as the Congress for Cultural Freedom; the International Commission of Jurists; the AFL-CIO; Radio Free Europe; and various leading philanthropic foundations. Karen Paget’s new book, Patriotic Betrayal, is the most detailed account yet of the CIA’s use of the National Student Association as a vehicle for intelligence gathering and covert action.’

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116 Environmental Defenders Were Murdered Last Year, Mostly in Latin America: Interview with Billy Kyte

‘As we continue to mark Earth Day, we look at a new report that finds killings of environmental activists on the rise, with indigenous communities hardest hit. According to Global Witness, at least 116 environmentalists were killed last year — more than two a week. Three-quarters of the deaths occurred in Central and South America. Just recently, three indigenous Tolupán leaders were gunned down during an anti-mining protest in northern Honduras, which has become the most dangerous country for environmental activists. We speak to Billy Kyte, campaigner for Global Witness and author of their new report, “How Many More?“‘ (Democracy Now!)

Sony should not be able to tell journalists what to print

Trevor Timm writes for The Guardian:

sonySony, which spent weeks holding itself out as a free speech martyr after North Korea allegedly hacked its emails, is now trying to do more damage to the spirit of the First Amendment than North Korea ever did. The corporation is using high-powered lawyers and lobbyists in an attempt to stifle the rights of media organizations to publish newsworthy information already in the public domain. Ironically, some of those emails include Sony and the MPAA’s attempts to censor the Internet on a much larger scale.

Sony’s lawyer, David Boies, has spent the week sending out a hyperbolic letter to various news organizations, pressuring them to avert their eyes from the hacked email trove that WikiLeaks published on its site last week. Boies, while misleadingly claiming that journalists could be breaking US law by even looking at the emails, also said if media organizations refused to write stories about them, they would somehow be “protecting the First Amendment.”

The head of the MPAA and former Democratic Senator Chis Dodd went a step further yesterday, outrageously suggesting the US government should go after WikiLeaks in some fashion for re-publishing the emails.’

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How the Rich Get Into Ivies: Behind the Scenes of Elite Admissions

Sam Biddle writes for Gawker:

How the Rich Get Into Ivies: Behind the Scenes of Elite AdmissionsA million-dollar full-ride scholarship endowment to an Ivy League school is a good deed. But it doesn’t just earn you karma—it nets you fawning emails from the school’s development officials, customized campus tours for your kids, and private meetings with the school’s president, leaked Sony emails show.

The dump of tens of thousands of emails from Sony Pictures’ upper ranks, now conveniently indexed on WikiLeaks, lays bare the inner workings of one of the world’s most powerful corporate properties. But it also shows how the rich, powerful, and connected navigate the world: with rolodexes and billfolds of equal thickness.

Newly surfaced emails from Sony Pictures CEO Michael Lynton provide a schematic for how millions of dollars in Adam Sandler grosses can yield immensely preferential treatment for your children, not only providing access to a college admissions process that’s out of reach for virtually all other Americans, but giving them better opportunities both in college and in internships and job opportunities afterward.’

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The Volatility / Quantitative Easing Dance of Doom

Nomi Prins, author of All The Presidents’ Bankers, writes:

The battle between the ‘haves’ and ‘have-nots’ of global financial policy is escalating to the point where the ‘haves’ might start to sweat – a tiny little. This phase of heightened volatility in the markets is a harbinger of the inevitable meltdown that will follow the grand plastering-over of a systemically fraudulent global financial system. It’s like a sputtering gas tank signaling an approach to ‘empty’.

Obscene amounts of central bank liquidity applauded by government leaders that have protected the political-financial establishment with failed oversight and lack of foresight, have coalesced to form one of the most unequal, unstable economic environments in modern history. The ongoing availability of cheap capital for big bank solvency, growth and leverage purposes, as well as stock and bond market propulsion has fostered a false sense of economic security that bears little resemblance to most personal realities.

We are entering the seventh year of US initiated zero-interest-rate policy. Biblically, Joseph only gathered wheat for seven years before seven years of famine. Quantitative easing, or central bank bond buying from banks and the governments that sustain them, has enjoyed its longest period of existence ever. If these policies were about fortifying economic conditions from the ground up, fostering equality as a force for future stability, they would have worked by now. We would have moved on from them sooner.

But they aren’t. Never were. Never will be. They were designed to aid big banks and capital markets, to provide cover to feeble leadership. They are policies of capital creation, dispersion and global reallocation.  The markets have acted accordingly.’

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Australia: The secret country again wages war on its own people

John Pilger writes:

Australia has again declared war on its Indigenous people, reminiscent of the brutality that brought universal condemnation on apartheid South Africa. Aboriginal people are to be driven from homelands where their communities have lived for thousands of years. In Western Australia, where mining companies make billion dollar profits exploiting Aboriginal land, the state government says it can no longer afford to “support” the homelands.

Vulnerable populations, already denied the basic services most Australians take for granted, are on notice of dispossession without consultation, and eviction at gunpoint. Yet again, Aboriginal leaders have warned of “a new generation of displaced people” and “cultural genocide”.

Genocide is a word Australians hate to hear. Genocide happens in other countries, not the “lucky” society that per capita is the second richest on earth. When “act of genocide” was used in the 1997 landmark report ‘Bringing Them Home’, which revealed that thousands of Indigenous children had been stolen from their communities by white institutions and systematically abused, a campaign of denial was launched by a far-right clique around the then prime minister John Howard. It included those who called themselves the Galatians Group, then Quadrant, then the Bennelong Society; the Murdoch press was their voice.

The Stolen Generation was exaggerated, they said, if it had happened at all. Colonial Australia was a benign place; there were no massacres. The First Australians were victims of their own cultural inferiority, or they were noble savages. Suitable euphemisms were deployed.’

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Ousted Egypt President Mohamed Morsi Gets 20 Years In Prison

The Legacy of Agent Orange

From Reuters:

‘As April 30 approaches, marking 40 years since the end of the Vietnam War, people in Vietnam with severe mental and physical disabilities still feel the lingering effects of Agent Orange.

Respiratory cancer and birth defects amongst both Vietnamese and U.S. veterans have been linked to exposure to the defoliant. The U.S. military sprayed millions of gallons of Agent Orange onto Vietnam’s jungles during the conflict to expose northern communist troops.

Reuters photographer Damir Sagolj travelled through Vietnam to meet the people affected, four decades on.’

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Right to privacy “could be meaningless in 10 years under Tory and Labour plans”

Damien Gayle reports for The Guardian:

InternetThe private lives of Britons will be an open book to the state within 10 years, campaigners have warned, highlighting manifesto pledges from Labour and the Conservatives that promise more powers for spies.

Both parties have pledged to extend the powers of the security agencies, nearly two years after revelations by former US National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden shone a light on the extent of state surveillance in Britain and the US.

Last month a committee of MPs called for an overhaul of laws governing the intelligence agencies’ use of mass surveillance to make them more transparent, comprehensible and up to date. Labour and the Tories both promise better oversight, but they also promise to strengthen the powers of the agencies.

[…] Only the Liberal Democrats, the Greens and the Scottish National party have pledged to curb surveillance powers. The Lib Dems, who helped to defeat the communications data bill from within the coalition, said they were opposed to the “blanket collection” of British people’s personal communications.’

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Patriot gains: Sir John Sawers is the latest in long line of British spy chief sell-outs

Charlie Skelton writes for the International Business Times:

Sir John Sawers (left) at the 2014 Bilderberg conference in Copenhagen, with BP chair Carl-Henric SvanbergYet more fallout from the HSBC tax scandal. The former head of MI6, Jonathan Evans, known to his friends as Baron Evans of Weardale, has resigned from the board of the National Crime Agency. He stepped down to avoid any “perceived conflict of interest” between his role at the publicly funded NCA and his rather more lucrative position as a director of HSBC.

What’s troubling about this situation is not so much the conflict of interest, perceived or otherwise, as the fact the former director of our domestic intelligence service is now a director of one of the world’s biggest banks.

In fact, Baron Evans is just one of a growing line of British spy chiefs who have hopped off the top of the intelligence pyramid into corporate boardrooms and cushy consultancies. But it wasn’t always so. There was a time, not long ago, when outgoing spy chiefs styled their post-resignation lives a little more along the lines of Sherlock Holmes, who retired to the Sussex Downs to keep bees.’

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