A former Marxist guerrilla leader and his right-wing rival both claimed victory in El Salvador’s presidential election after results showed just a tiny margin between the two. Salvador Sanchez Ceren of the ruling Farabundo Marti National Liberation Front (FMLN), which as a rebel group fought a string of U.S.-backed governments in the 1980-92 civil war, won 50.11 percent support in Sunday’s election, preliminary results showed.
Challenger Norman Quijano, the 67-year-old former mayor of San Salvador and candidate of the right-wing Nationalist Republican Alliance (Arena) party, had 49.89 percent support. He claimed fraud and insisted he was the real winner. Just 6,634 votes separated them, raising the prospect of legal challenges to the result and a weak mandate for the eventual winner.
The FMLN and Arena – founded by the late Roberto D’Aubuisson, a reputed death squad leader – were fierce enemies during the civil war that killed about 75,000 people. El Salvador remains polarized between left and right so Quijano’s claim that he won the election immediately raised tensions. He accused the election tribunal of corruption and hinted at foul play.
Henry Kissinger, architect of the destruction of Indochina and secretary of state to one of America’s most corrupt leaders, wrote an Op-Ed in the Washington Post yesterday making arguments that, if uttered on any of the cable news shows, would be condemned as anti-American.
Kissinger’s analysis is a balanced one, in contrast to much of what we’ve seen. “Public discussion on Ukraine is all about confrontation,” he laments. “Far too often the Ukrainian issue is posed as a showdown: whether Ukraine joins the East or the West. But if Ukraine is to survive and thrive, it must not be either side’s outpost against the other — it should function as a bridge between them.”
The West’s approach to Ukraine has been characterized much like the Russian approach: zero-sum. But, Kissinger advises, “We should seek reconciliation, not the domination of a faction” inside Ukraine.
The Americans’ Fear of Islamic Terrorists Has Worn Off, So the Government Pulls Out the EVIL RUSSIAN Card Again
Fear of terrorists made the American public afraid, gullible and easy to manipulate for more than a decade. But now – despite the best efforts of the military-industrial complex to intentionally whip up an exaggerated hysteria of Islamic terrorists - Americans are starting to wake up from our fear-induced haze:
- For the first time since 9/11, we value privacy more than anti-terror protections
Indeed, Americans are realizing that we’re more likely to be killed by lightning, toddlers, brain-eating parasites or bad government policy than terrorism. So how can the poor lads in the military industrial complex keep the gravy train going? The evil Russians! That worked last time … it’ll work again!
All they have to do is re-demonize the Russians. How long can it take to scrub the images of the peaceful Olympics – and Putin’s prevention of war against Syria – out of people’s minds, and re-instill the fear of the old Red Menace? After all, in the 1970s, Cheney and Rummy generated fake intelligence exaggerating the Soviet threat in order to undermine coexistence between the U.S. and Soviet Union, which conveniently justified huge amounts of cold war spending. And see this. That worked like a charm!
Surely, a few misrepresentations about Putin’s intention to start the next world war and take over the world will scare the daylights out of the American people!
Ahhh, the sweet smell of success …
Fearmongering segment begins at 6:23
Amid a surge of Islamic militancy in North Africa, a team of fewer than 50 U.S. special operations troops with a single helicopter arrived at a remote base in western Tunisia last month. Their mission: train Tunisian troops in counterterrorism tactics. The operation was one of dozens of U.S. military deployments in Africa over the last year, often to tiny and temporary outposts. The goal is to leverage American military expertise against an arc of growing instability in North Africa and many sub-Saharan countries, from Mali in the west to Somalia in the east.
The small-scale operations by the Pentagon’s 6-year-old Africa Command reflect an effort to avoid provoking anti-U.S. militants in the region — and wariness of getting drawn into new conflicts after 13 years of war in Iraq and Afghanistan. U.S. commanders for Africa face tight limits on the forces and equipment they can put on the ground or in the air, despite responsibility for a vast geographic area. Classified guidance approved by the White House last fall called for the Pentagon to “deter” terrorist attacks from Africa on U.S. territory, facilities or allies without creating a large military footprint, according to officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss classified material.
Based in Stuttgart, Germany, Africa Command has only about 2,000 military and civilian personnel assigned to coordinate U.S. defense programs in about 38 African countries, although 5,000 or more U.S. troops are frequently on the continent for operations and training missions. It’s still a tiny fraction of the combined forces under Central Command, which oversees the war in Afghanistan and bases in the Middle East, or under Pacific Command, which has become a Pentagon priority since the White House announced a strategic “rebalancing” of forces to Asia in 2012.
‘Egypt’s arrest and trial of three Al-Jazeera journalists, charged with assisting the Muslim Brotherhood, has prompted outcry around the world. The case helps highlight growing dangers to journalists worldwide, especially in countries caught in war or turmoil. In 2013, 119 members of the press died while on assignment. Alison Bethel McKenzie of the International Press Institute and David Rohde of Reuters join Jeffrey Brown to discuss the hazards.’ (PBS Newshour)
Panic is in the air with a tigress on the prowl in the lower reaches of the Himalayas in India. The big cat has already killed seven people and could be waiting behind the bushes for its next kill. Local residents have grown increasingly paranoid, as even the hunters hired to track and kill the big cat return empty-handed from the forests every sunset. They are now looking skywards – both for divine intervention and an Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) – to come to their aid.
Similar hopes were pinned on a UAV in the state of Tamil Nadu, which was rocked by the gruesome murder of a software engineer. When investigators struggled to find leads to crack the case, they took the aerial route and the murder mystery was soon solved with the help of a UAV. From windswept hilly Uttarakhand in northern India, where the tigress has struck terror, to the hot humid plains of Tamil Nadu, UAVs are being used by the authorities in India with aplomb and alacrity in tackling varied situations. Be it tracking down a man-eater, cracking a murder case, or even keeping an eye on a protest march, having eyes in the sky are proving to be critical.
History is loaded with power-hungry dickweeds who rule over their countries’ fearful populations like the Predator in a laser tag match. Oftentimes these people are infamous not just for their cruelty, but also for their bafflingly insane and self-indulgent antics.
Facebook will become what experts say is the first private company in the country to bankroll a full-time beat cop, establishing what could become a blueprint for many more similar partnerships.
“It’s safe to say this is unprecedented,” said Jim Bueermann, president of the Police Foundation, the nation’s oldest police research nonprofit in Washington, D.C. “But this may be the model of the future.”
And while several experts think such arrangements are the product of what they call “good corporate citizenship,” critics are uncomfortable with the idea of a privately paid “Facebook Cop.”
These actions have elicited praise from most quarters — and they should. Standing up to your own country’s foreign policy is difficult enough on any domestic television station in any country during wartime; just think about how many anchors did similar in the United States (the list isn’t long, and some, like Phil Donohue, were fired for it). It’s even harder to imagine doing it on RT America, which is financed by the Russian government (although has largely American producers and staff).
I used to go on RT America frequently, particularly on the Alyona Show and The Thom Hartmann Show. I went on the network not to parrot Russian foreign policy talking points, but mostly to talk about American domestic and social policy. I knew that the network had an agenda in many areas, but both Alyona and Thom did great, honest journalism despite the overarching agenda of the network. I always spoke honestly, and never came on to discuss any topic relating to Russia.
But that’s not why I’m writing this post. I’m writing this post to explain how working in Washington taught me we’re all a little bit like the good folks who work at RT America — struggling against editorial censors, doing our best to follow our conscience despite sometimes suffocating pressures from our publishers and sponsors.
- Latin American foreign ministers to discuss Venezuela unrest
- Do Venezuelan Protests Reflect Popular Discontent, or the Old Qualms of a Divided Elite? (Video)
- What Is Happening in Venezuela?
- Venezuela cuts ties with Panama, calling country a ‘lackey’ for the United States
- Venezuela remembers late leader Chavez (Video)
- Venezuela Anti-Government Protests Lack Support from the Barrios (Video)
- The Washington Post Uses Biased Experts to Promote Propaganda on Venezuela
- Ex-President Carter Planning Trip to Venezuela
- The US Has No Legitimacy on Venezuela
- Socialism’s critics look at Venezuela and say, ‘We told you so’. But they are wrong
- The US should respect Venezuela’s democracy
- Greg Palast Interviewed on the Scott Horton Show (Audio)
- Venezuelan Protests: Another Attempt By U.S.-Backed Right-Wing Groups To Oust Elected Government? (Video)
- Madonna: ‘Fascism alive and thriving in Venezuela‘
- The Assassination of Hugo Chavez (Greg Palast Documentary)
- South of the Border (Oliver Stone Documentary)
- El Comandante (Documentary)
Jim O’Neill is at it again. He is best known for inventing the acronym BRIC (now BRICS), a group of countries — Brazil, Russia, India, China and then South Africa — which, he claimed, would dominate the world economy in the 21st century. Now he is suggesting that the MINTs (Mexico, Indonesia, Nigeria and Turkey) will have the same economic growth as China if they continue their market-orientated economic policies.
O’Neill, a British economist who used to work for the “vampire squid” investment bank Goldman Sachs, is pursuing a double objective. He is identifying emerging economies fit for investment by the global banking community; he says the BRICS and MINTs are knocking on a development door, which, if they’re pursuing the correct economic policies, will open wide to the benefits of economic growth. His view of the world system regards the self-interested actions of investment bankers as contributing to the development of poor countries; he and other neoliberal economists disguise the central dynamics of economic development under capitalism.
The contemporary world has unprecedented wealth, and mass poverty. Total global wealth was $241 trillion in 2013 and is expected to rise to $334 trillion by 2018. Yet the majority of people live in poverty. To suggest that rising global wealth and global poverty are interrelated, and that the former is premised upon the latter, is not something that most players in international development want to do because it would reveal the sordid foundation of their vision of development.
While the US may be rejoicing its daily stock market all time highs day after day, it may come as a surprise to many that global equity capitalization has hardly performed as impressively compared to its previous records set in mid-2007. In fact, between the last bubble peak, and mid-2013, there has been a $3.86 trillion decline in the value of equities to $53.8 trillion over this six year time period, according to data compiled by Bloomberg. Alas, in a world in which there is no longer even hope for growth without massive debt expansion, there is a cost to keeping global equities stable (and US stocks at record highs): that cost is $30 trillion, or nearly double the GDP of the United States, which is by how much global debt has risen over the same period. Specifically, total global debt has exploded by 40% in just 6 short years from 2007 to 2013, from “only” $70 trillion to over $100 trillion as of mid-2013, according to the BIS’ just-released quarterly review.
It should come as no surprise to anyone by now, but the only reason why global stocks haven’t plummeted since the Lehman collapse is simple: governments have become the final backstop for onboarding risk, with a Central Bank stamp of approval – in other words, the very framework of the fiat system is at stake should global equity levels collapse. The BIS admits as much: “Given the significant expansion in government spending in recent years, governments (including central, state and local governments) have been the largest debt issuers,” according to Branimir Gruic, an analyst, and Andreas Schrimpf, an economist at the BIS.
A panel of experts tasked with reviewing the BBC’s future have raised the idea of scrapping the licence fee in favour of an optional subscription service from 2020, it has been reported. The Sunday Times claims the radical plan was mooted by some members of a 12-strong centenary review panel of economists, consultants and academics who were invited to give an outside assessment of the BBC’s future.
One member of the review panel, David Elstein, a former Sky and ITV executive, was quoted by the Telegraph as saying: “It is socially unjust that so many are fined and indeed go to prison for not paying the licence fee. “And it makes more sense too for the BBC to move to subscription from 2020, which is about the date when set-boxes go, and standard definition is phased out to high definition.”
In 1995, Conrad Harper, the Clinton administration’s top State Department lawyer, appeared before a United Nations panel in Geneva to discuss American compliance with a global Bill of Rights-style treaty the Senate had recently ratified, and he was asked a pointed question: Did the United States believe it applied outside its borders?
Mr. Harper returned two days later and delivered an answer: American officials, he said, had no obligations under the rights accord when operating abroad. The Bush administration would amplify that claim after the Sept. 11 attacks — and extend it to another United Nations convention that bans the use of torture — to justify its treatment of terrorism suspects in overseas prisons operated by the military and the C.I.A.
The United Nations panel in Geneva that monitors compliance with the rights treaty disagrees with the American interpretation, and human rights advocates have urged the United States to reverse its position when it sends a delegation to answer the panel’s questions next week. But the Obama administration is unlikely to do that, according to interviews, rejecting a strong push by two high-ranking State Department officials from President Obama’s first term.
[...] Privatisation hurtles on in the UK, regardless of the damage. Even David Cameron and George Osborne acknowledge that we have been badly served by the Private Finance Initiative (PFI), under which companies build hospitals, schools and prisons, then lease them back to the state, locking taxpayers into decades long maintenance contracts.
In Yorkshire, to take one modest example, the cost of rebuilding Calderdale Royal Hospital is £65 million. The public will end up paying £773 million. For providing one extra grit bin (value £200) outsourcer Amey charges Birmingham Council £4,500, the BBC reported the other day.
PFI will ultimately cost the taxpayer £300 billion, a Guardian investigation has revealed. ”The irony is that we privatised the buildings but nationalised the debts. It’s crazy,” said Labour MP Margaret Hodge, who chairs the Public Accounts Committee that is supposed to guard taxpayers’ interests.
China’s surge in military spending gains headlines, partly because of the ominous implications regarding its regional contest with Japan, but it’s the deeper structures of military spending in general that are far more compelling.
There are few surprises about the distribution of military spending: for all the current focus on China’s growing military outlays – and it is significant that they have embarked on a sequence of double-digit increases as a percentage of GDP – the United States still accounts for 40% of such expenditures. However, the distribution is not the only thing that matters; it’s the sheer scale of such investment – $1.756tn in 2012. The “peace dividend” from the end of the cold war has long since bitten the dust. Global military spending has returned to pre-1989 levels, undoubtedly a legacy of the war on terror and the returning salience of military competition in its context. In fact, by 2011 global military spending was higher than at any year since the end of the second world war.
So, what is the explanation for such huge investments? Is it simply the case that states are power-maximising entities, and that as soon as they have access to enough taxable income they start dreaming war?
It is almost two centuries since the father of modern policing Robert Peel laid down the so-called Peelian Principles on which his new ethical police force would be founded. There are only three and of those just one relates to crime. The other two demand that officers earn the trust of the people they seek to police by exercising power openly and honestly, and that they are accountable for whatever happens afterwards. After last week’s revelations regarding the Metropolitan Police’s handling of the Stephen Lawrence murder 20 years ago, I wonder if we should give those principles a crime number because they’ve suffered serious injury.
Forgive my anger, but I worked on the 1999 Macpherson Report which followed the Lawrence killing. I gave evidence which pointed to institutional corruption in the Met being at the heart of the case. It was evidence that Sir William Macpherson chose to dismiss because in his opinion, institutional racism was to blame. The Met didn’t like the sound of either but decided to plead guilty to institutional racism, believing it was the lesser of the two charges.
So I do feel vindicated by the announcement this week of a new inquiry into police corruption, centred on the Lawrence case. But I am also deeply concerned, and, yes, ashamed that my investigations into the dirty money and risky favours which tie bent coppers to the criminal underworld were not enough to wrench the two apart all those years ago.
It matters, not because of my professional ego, but because it’s meant a further 20 years of a corrupt knot of officers believing they can operate above and beyond the law. It’s a truth nobody wants to acknowledge. So let me tell you about some of examples of corruption I have come across in my years investigating and writing about big, box office villains and the men who set out to catch them but somehow lose their way.
James Kirchick is just the neutral reporter the Daily Beast would assign to report on the ideological controversy surrounding the Russian backed RT-TV Channel’s coverage of the crisis in the Ukraine. The Beast lives up to its name by sending a hardcore polemical ideologue to uncover what he predictably labels as ideological media bias.
Kirchick is a veteran of the anti-communist wars, now revived as the anti Putin wars, not some neutral journo crusading for democracy. According to Wikipedia, he is a fellow with the Foundation for Defense of Democracies in Washington, prior to this he was writer-at-large for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty. He is a graduate of the New Republic, Murdoch’s Weekly Standard and writes for Azure, a magazine that described itself as pro-Zionist and free market.
Ok, just so we know who are dealing with here. And now, to bolster his “credibility” he presents himself as a victim in his latest article that exposes himself, far more than his target, asserting that his rights as a journalist were somehow compromised because of a gutsy quest for truth.
Somewhat more than 1,000 people are friends on the Hebrew-language Facebook page Nikmat Hayeudim (“Revenge of the Jews”). They receive daily photo updates on attacks against Palestinian property and people and on leftists. “What a picture, a real pleasure,” one of them wrote under a photo showing a person severely beaten around the head, blood running down his face, lying on a hospital bed. “That’s what should be done to all the Arabs,” another post added, and then continued with a coarse stream of invective including cursing Mohammad.
Another Facebook page, called “We’re all for death to terrorists,” has more than 60,000 followers. Next to a photo at a demonstration at the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh is the caption: “Female terrorist leftists clash with IDF and Border Police forces.” One post, which can be said to be typical, says: “May their name and memory be wiped out. Let them die, those leftists…kill them. They’re worse than Arabs!” Under the report of a rape in Tel Aviv, one member of the group wrote: “I swear an oath that tomorrow I’m going to go through the central bus station, call an Eritrean over to the car, close the window on his head and drag him all through south Tel Aviv.”
The International Criminal Court has found Congo militia leader Germain Katanga guilty of war crimes but acquitted him of sexual offences. He was found guilty of complicity in the 2003 massacre of villagers in the gold-rich Ituri province of north-eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. He becomes just the second person to be convicted by the court since it was set up in The Hague in 2002. He would have been the first convicted of sexual crimes.
Katanga, who was transferred to The Hague by the Congolese authorities in 2007, had denied the charges. The fighting in Ituri, which broke out in 1999 and continued until 2003, started as a struggle for control of land and resources. But it escalated into an inter-ethnic conflict, exacerbated by the presence of Uganda troops, that killed an estimated 50,000 people.
Nepal’s new government pledged on Friday to investigate crimes such as rapes, killings and disappearances during a decade-long civil war, but stopped short of assurances that perpetrators would be brought to justice. Wedged between Asian giants China and India, the Himalayan nation emerged from violence in 2006, after an insurgency which pitted Maoist guerrillas against the army. More than 16,000 people died, hundreds disappeared and thousands were left homeless.
Both the security forces and the Maoists committed widespread abuses, say human rights groups. But eight years on, no one has been punished or tried in a civilian court. Legislation dealing with war crimes was drafted by the previous Maoist-led government, but was rejected by the Supreme Court in January because it alluded to a Truth and Reconciliation Commission which would give perpetrators amnesty. Communications and Information Minister Minendra Rijal said Prime Minister Sushil Koirala’s government, which was elected in November, would review the issue.
[...] This relatively new religion, Materialism, is becoming the fastest-growing faith in many parts of the world. Many so-called Christians, Muslims, and Buddhists are actually true followers of Materialism when given the million-dollar test. It is your answer to the test that decides your true faith.
The new religion Materialism has at least 1 billion followers around the world, thus making it the most important and dominant faith today. This new belief has its own god, whose name is Money Power Wealth. Its birthplace was Manhattan, birthdate some time around the 1980s, parents unknown.
Music lovers, or even music likers, will find it difficult to relate: A new study finds that some people get zero pleasure from music. The Barcelona researchers even came up with a name for the condition: “specific musical anhedonia.” It’s “specific” because these people derive enjoyment from other things, but music does nothing for them, reports NPR. This is not to be confused with something called “amusia,” in which people can’t make sense of musical tones. No, these people understand when a particular tune is supposed to be happy or sad, but they just don’t feel it, notes the Verge.
This explains why, “while some of us find ourselves quietly crying in the middle of a Target when some dumb song comes on, other—also totally normal—people carry on tear free,” writes Rose Eveleth at Smithsonian. The researchers measured the heart rates and skin conductance of study participants to show that nothing was going on inside despite the supposedly stirring music that was being played, they write in a press release. This and previous research suggests that about 5% of people fall into the category. If you’re curious about your own “music responsiveness,” the scientists have a quiz. (Click to read another study suggesting that, contrary to parents’ hopes, music doesn’t make kids smarter.)
Spain’s pioneering universal jurisdiction doctrine, which has enabled judges to prosecute foreigners in connection with human rights crimes committed in other countries, will be shaved back within four months following a vote in Congress Tuesday night [Feb 11th] to reform the judicial code. According to the reform, judges will only be able to open investigations against a suspected human rights violator if the defendant “is Spanish or a foreigner who frequently resides in Spain,” or who is currently in the country and Spanish authorities have refused to allow their extradition.
After an intense debate that pitted the entire opposition against the ruling Popular Party (PP), the final vote stood 179 in favor and 163 against, reflecting the conservatives’ absolute majority in Congress. The new legislation will come into effect within the next four months. Opposition groups roundly condemned the government’s decision and were united in their conviction that pressure from Beijing guided the hand of Mariano Rajoy’s Popular Party administration.