John Pilger: From China to Ukraine, the US is pursuing its longstanding ambition to dominate the Eurasian landmass
I watched Dr Strangelove the other day. I have seen it perhaps a dozen times; it makes sense of senseless news. When Major TJ “King” Kong goes “toe to toe with the Rooskies” and flies his rogue B52 nuclear bomber to a target in Russia, it’s left to General “Buck” Turgidson to reassure the president. Strike first, says the general, and “you got no more than 10-20 million killed, tops”. President Merkin Muffley: “I will not go down in history as the greatest mass murderer since Adolf Hitler.” General Turgidson: “Perhaps it might be better, Mr President, if you were more concerned with the American people than with your image in the history books.”
The genius of Stanley Kubrick’s film is that it accurately represents the cold war’s lunacy and dangers. Most of the characters are based on real people and real maniacs. There is no equivalent to Strangelove today because popular culture is directed almost entirely at our interior lives, as if identity is the moral zeitgeist and true satire is redundant, yet the dangers are the same. The nuclear clock has remained at five minutes to midnight; the same false flags are hoisted above the same targets by the same “invisible government”, as Edward Bernays, the inventor of public relations, described modern propaganda.
In 1964, the year Dr Strangelove was made, “the missile gap” was the false flag. To build more and bigger nuclear weapons and pursue an undeclared policy of domination, President John F Kennedy approved the CIA’s propaganda that the Soviet Union was well ahead of the US in the production of intercontinental ballistic missiles. This filled front pages as the “Russian threat”. In fact, the Americans were so far ahead in production of the missiles, the Russians never approached them. The cold war was based largely on this lie.
In 2003 writer Eli Lake declared that the neoconservatives were the “most influential wing in the current administration,” and that those empowered neoconservatives were chiefly responsible for the expedited time table to launch what would become the disastrous Iraq War. A war that would, among other things, bring Barack Obama to power as the American public near-universally rejected not just the blunders and false promises that sold the war, but the ideology underpinning it. Americans no longer saw trying to bring “democracy” by the barrel of a gun to every corner of the world as a good idea, let alone a duty worth killing and dying for.
Despite the public rejection of neoconservatism, the ideology continues to permeate throughout Washington policy circles. The results of national elections and the blood of thousands of American soldiers, sailors, and marines can not wipe away the sepsis. But why?
- Snowden makes surprise appearance during 4-hour Putin interview
- Sorry Snowden, Putin Lied to You About His Surveillance State—And Made You a Pawn of It
- If you thought the NSA was bad, Russia’s FSB will be worse
- Sochi: Russian SORM Surveillance And Hackers Spark Cybersecurity Concerns For Media And Athletes
Estimates released today [April 1st] by the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) portray a different picture of the civil war in Syria than U.S. policymakers and media convey. SOHR’s estimated death toll reinforces the point made in an article published on ForeignPolicy.com in September 2013, when they last released updated data: most of the reported deaths in Syria have not been committed by forces under Bashar al-Assad’s command. Additionally, the involvement of various individuals and groups in the conflict has broadened greatly since SOHR’s September 2013 estimate.
Despite the potential bias and the methodological challenges it faces, SOHR has unrelentingly compiled casualty data since the start of the conflict in Syria more than three years ago. While the United Nations (UN) last updated its estimated death toll in July 2013 at 100,000 killed, and has since stated it will no longer provide updates, SOHR’s update released today estimates a total of 150,344 people killed since March 2011. SOHR’s estimates are presented below.
There are two noticeably provocative elements of SOHR’s estimates. First, while estimates for rebel force casualties were a separate category in SOHR’s previous estimates, SOHR has now included rebel force casualties (24,275) within civilian casualties, totaling 75,487. Above, rebel forces have been listed separately, which reveals that, according to SOHR’s estimates, more pro-regime forces than civilians have been killed during the Syrian civil war.
- UN report blames Syrian government for torture
- Syrian War Takes Heavy Toll at a Crossroad of Cultures
- Syrian opposition accuses Assad’s forces of new poison gas attack
- Syrian Rebels Claim Evidence of Chlorine Bomb Use
- Mafia port in Italy will host transfer of Syria’s chemical weapons
- Ship ready to destroy Syrian chemical weapons (Video)
- Syria chemical destruction deadline still possible
- Syria’s political opposition urges U.S. action after Aleppo ‘genocide’
- U.N. has to cut Syria food rations for lack of donor funds
Syria: A shift for fading insurgency as foreign backers look to reverse months of military defeats at the hands of government soldiers
- Saudi Prince Bandar promised a victory he could not deliver
- Syrian opposition fighters obtain U.S.-made TOW antitank missiles
- US Confirms ‘Support’ as Syrian Rebels Show US Missiles in Videos
- Canada Plans Possible Invasion of Syria
- Syria’s Assad says war turning in his favor
- In Assad’s coastal heartland, Syria’s war creeps closer
- Hezbollah develops new tactics in Syrian Civil War
- In Jordan Town, Syria War Inspires Jihadist Dreams
- Iranian Official: World obliged to help Syria fight off terrorism
- US Army Vet Eric Harroun, Who Fought in Syria, Died at Home
- France says Assad survival would be ‘total impasse’ for Syria
- Former Russian FM: Assad ‘says fighting largely over by end of year’
- Inside Syria: How Hezbollah changed the war
[...] The three billion phone calls made in the U.S. each day are snatched up by the agency, which stores each call’s metadata (phone numbers of the parties, date and time, length of call, etc.) for five years. Each day telecom giants turn over metadata on every call they have processed. Every out-of-country call and email from (or to) a U.S. citizen is grabbed by NSA computers, and agents are authorized to listen to or read any of them.
The agency searches for and seizes nearly everything we do on the Internet. Without bothering with the constitutional nicety of obtaining a warrant, its XKeyscore program scoops up some 40 billion Internet records every month and adds them to its digital storehouse, including our emails, Google searches, websites visited, Microsoft Word documents sent, etc. NSA’s annual budget includes a quarter-billion dollars for “corporate-partner access” – i.e., payments to obtain this mass of material from corporate computers.
Snowden says that in his days as an analyst, he could sit at his computer and tap into any American’s Internet activity – even the President’s. The sheer volume of information sucked up by the agency is so large that as of 2008, it maintained 150 data processing sites around the world. NSA’s budget is an official secret, but a Snowden document shows that it gets about $11 billion a year in direct appropriations, with more support funneled through the Pentagon and other agencies.
President Obama recently announced an “overhaul” of the NSA’s collection of bulk phone records. The reform may require phone companies to store metadata it collects for 18 months for the NSA’s use with the approval from a special court. This might sound reasonable, but it is still gathering bulk data on millions of innocent Americans – by corporations for the government. And what about Internet, email and other surveillance? NSA is too heavily vested in its programs; it is not going to give up spying on us.
The streets of Tehran turn deceptively quiet after midnight, but one anomalous corner in the affluent part of the city offers a rare glimpse of what goes on between four walls. In contrast to the deserted sidewalks and shopfronts lining Tehran’s boulevards, the block around the late-night grocery store Super Jordan buzzes with activity. Traffic is denser here, as drivers line up behind Porsches and Mercedes Benzes whose owners swerve in and out of lanes, either because they are drunk or because they can. While a strictly enforced law compels other shopkeepers to close by midnight, Super Jordan stays open through the wee hours, monopolizing late-night refreshment sales. It is rumored that the owner has exquisite connections to the municipal government; in any case, shoppers in various stages of inebriation complete their purchases without police intervention.
The annual Ethical Consumer Markets Report reveals that demand for ethical consumer goods and services continues to defy recessionary pressures and grew by more than 12% in 2012 whilst the mainstream UK economy grew by just 0.2%.
Total ethical spending in the UK is now worth £54 billion, an amount greater than that spent on both cigarettes and alcohol.
The Ethical Consumer Markets Report has been acting as an important barometer of green spending since 1999 by tracking sales data across a wide range of consumer sectors from food to fashion.
Last November we launched our ‘Time for Transparency’ campaign, revealing new polling that showed 66% of people want more information about how surveillance powers are used, with 70% wanting companies like BT and EE to publish their own reports about the requests they receive, as companies like Google, Facebook and Microsoft now regularly release.
Today [April 7th] we are publishing a paper detailing further proposals to improve transparency, following wide ranging discussions with companies, regulators and political figures, as well as discussions with people in the United States. The paper outlines how the Interception of Communications Commissioner should publish a breakdown of how individual agencies use powers to access communications information – currently just one total figure is published – as well as calling for clarification about whether British companies are handing over data ‘in bulk’ on thousands or millions of customers.
‘A new reports finds the killings of environmental and land rights activists worldwide has tripled over the past decade. The group Global Witness documented 147 activists who were killed in 2012, compared to 51 in 2002. The death rate is now an average of two per week. Almost none of the killers have faced charges. We air interviews with some of the late activists featured in the report, including José da Silva, a Brazilian conservationist and environmentalist who campaigned against logging and clear-cutting of trees in the Amazon rainforest. In 2011, José and his wife, Maria, were murdered by masked gunmen. “This could be the tip of the iceberg in terms of the scale of the real problem,” says Global Witness campaigner Oliver Courtney, who says details about the murders were nearly impossible to locate.’ (Democracy Now!)
France’s distinguished Institut Pasteur, which was among the first to isolate HIV in the 1980s, admitted on Monday that it has lost some 2,349 vials in 29 boxes, containing samples of the deadly SARS virus.
During a recent inventory researchers realized the vials were unaccounted for and so called in France’s drug and health safety agency “l’Agence nationale de sécurité du médicament et des produits de santé” to help with the search, according to a statement from Institut Pasteur.
The drug and health safety people spent four days, from April 4th-12th, doing an ‘in depth’ investigation at the unnamed lab in question and came up empty handed as well.
SARS is not the kind of virus you’d want floating around.
Bryan Fischer, the director of Issues Analysis for the fundamentalist American Family Association (AFA), said on Tuesday that people who used welfare and other government services needed to “kiss the ground” beneath the richest 1 percent of Americans.
On his April 15 broadcast, Fischer opined that President Barack Obama was using the Internal Revenue (IRS) service to “go after the 1 percent.”
“The top 1 percent are funding 30 percent of the government!” the radio host explained. “So, rather than the poor, the low income and the middle class being resentful of these people, they should be kissing the ground on which they walk!”
Russia’s Foreign Ministry is warning that Russians should refrain from traveling abroad because they could be entrapped by US secret services who are actively “hunting” for Russians to persecute in punishment for Moscow’s recent annexation of Crimea, according to an official notice published on the Ministry’s website.
The message seems directed at the approximately 15 million Russians, most of them middle-class, who leave the country each year for tourism.
It says the US, which “unreasonably” refuses to accept the reunification of Russia and Crimea, is seeking revenge by “trying to make a routine practice of ‘hunting’ for Russian citizens in third countries with the goal of extraditing them to the US, where they will be convicted [and jailed] on what are usually doubtful charges.”
The White House has just confirmed what had been reported in Russian media that CIA Director John Brennan was in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev over the weekend.
“Ousted Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovych is accusing the CIA of being behind the new government’s decision to turn to force,” AP reports. “But the CIA denies that Brennan encouraged Ukrainian authorities to conduct tactical operations.”
One would have to be incredibly gullible to believe that the CIA Director was in Kiev for benign reasons, just to catch up and have tea with the new leadership.
Skip to 6:40 to see a man puported to be a Lieutenant Colonel from the Russian army giving police in the eastern Ukrainian city of Horlivka their new orders.
A century ago, crowds in Paris were cheering, “on to Berlin!” Crowds in Berlin cried, “on to Paris.” World War I, the supreme example of nationalist/militaristic stupidity, was about to begin.
One hundred years later we hear cries across America to “get tough” with Moscow over fragmenting Ukraine. A dozen US F-16 fighters are being sent to the Baltic, a squadron of F-15’s to Poland, and a US warship to the Black Sea. In short, just enough to spark a war but certainly not enough to win one.
No one seems to have remembered – except Vlad Putin, of course – that the roughly 50,000 US troops and officials now based in Afghanistan are in large part at the mercy of Russia which controls their major supply and exit routes.
As the Ukraine crisis continues to build, it’s absolutely horrifying to recall that most of the American politicians and general public now lustily shouting “on to…where was it again?….oh yes….Kharkov” had no idea where Ukraine is, never mind Kharkov or Luhansk.
Ignorance is a primary fuel of nationalism and aggression. Patriotism is the last refuge of scoundrel, as Dr . Johnson observed, and the first platform of fools.
Rep. Adam Schiff, a top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee, plans to introduce legislation that would curtail or completely eliminate the administration’s rules of war on terrorism, known as the Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). “Congress never intended to authorize a war without end, and the existing AUMF provides an increasingly precarious legal basis for the use of force against groups uninvolved in 9/11 or unaffiliated with al-Qaeda,” Schiff said in a statement to BuzzFeed on Tuesday.
Schiff’s office has yet to reach out to House leadership to schedule a vote on the pending bill, which could also be introduced as an amendment to the Pentagon’s fiscal year 2015 budget plan currently before Congress. Additionally, the Senate is quietly considering legislative options that would include changes to the counterterrorism rules as part of their version of the pending Pentagon budget bill.
Campaigners have raised privacy concerns over a facial recognition database being developed by the FBI that could contain 52m images by 2015. The civil liberties group Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF) obtained information about the project through a freedom of information request. It said it was concerned that images of non-criminals would be stored alongside those of criminals. The FBI say the database will reduce terrorist and criminal activities.
The facial recognition database is part of the bureau’s Next Generation Identification (NGI) programme which is a large biometric database being developed to replace the current Integrated Automated Fingerprint Identification System (IAFIS). The programme, which is being rolled out over a number of years, will offer “state of the art biometric identification services” according to the bureau’s website. As well as facial recognition images the programme is being developed to include the capture and storage of finger prints, iris scans and palm prints.
A special New York Police Department unit that sparked controversy by tracking the daily lives of Muslims in an effort to detect terror threats has been disbanded, police officials said Tuesday.
NYPD spokesman Stephen Davis confirmed that detectives assigned to the unit had been transferred to other duties within the department’s Intelligence Division.
An ongoing review of the division by new Police Commissioner William Bratton found that the same information collected by the unit could be better collected through direct contact with community groups, officials said.