Texans protest Ted Nugent in League City
| April 15, 2014 | 10:20 pm | Action | No comments

By David Smith

LEAGUE CITY, TX-Saturday’s protest against Ted Nugent in League City was a success. The participants’ commitment, diversity, and energy made all the difference. We chanted and held signs in front of the entrance to South Shore Harbour Resort between 5:30 pm and almost 7:30 pm. One set of signs conveyed the theme of the protest: Veterans Yes, Nugent No. Other signs criticized Nugent’s racism, his sexism and the League City Council’s approval of $20,000 for an event headlined by a notorious bigot.

We are glad to report that we received an enthusiastic show of support from many people driving by. Scores of people gave us the thumbs up, or waved and smiled, or rolled down the windows and shouted their approval. These expressions of goodwill far exceeded occasional negative responses, and one local resident spontaneously joined the protest. A FOX TV-26 news crew was present for most of the demonstration, and a Canadian film crew making a documentary also interviewed participants. The protest drew one angry counter-protester, but he posed no problem. And the turnout for Nugent’s performance was considerably smaller than originally planned.

The urgency of collective political action against racism, misogyny, and the Far Right was underscored the following day by the tragic news from Kansas, where a White Supremacist killed three people at two Jewish centers. It is very important for Left and progressive forces to help build a bigger, broader struggle against this kind of hatred and bigotry. And all of us can help make that happen in Texas, too!

Unions, small farmers mobilize in Paraguay under U.S. eye
| April 15, 2014 | 8:52 pm | Action | No comments

By Tom Whitney April 2

Via: http://peoplesworld.org/unions-small-farmers-mobilize-in-paraguay-under-u-s-eye/

Paraguayan labor federations and small farmer organizations launched a general strike on March 26. Some 90 percent of workers in Asuncion honored the strike that paralyzed the capita and spread to other cities. Labor leaders had called the strike in December 2013 in the midst of protests against the Colorado Party’s Horacio Cartes, who became president in August. Planners allowed three months to ensure that both labor and agrarian rights groups could participate in the strike in March.

The U. S.- supported Colorado Party held power for 61 years, 31 of them under the sway of dictator Alfredo Stroessner. In 2008, a leftist coalition secured Fernando Lugo’s election as president, thereby ousting the Colorado Party. In 2012 Paraguay’s rightwing congress illegally dismissed Lugo on the pretext that his government showed incompetence in dealing with agrarian rights activists occupying dubiously titled land in Curuguaty.

An assault there by 300 police, some U.S. trained, had left 23 dead – six of them police – and over 20 wounded. The police allegedly killed prisoners. Massed demonstrators on March 26 called for the release of still-imprisoned Curuguaty resisters, some on a hunger strike.

Echoes of the Curuguaty incident at the strike illustrate the centrality in Paraguayan politics of struggle over land. Paraguay, the world’s fourth largest soy producer, is an agribusiness powerhouse. Dizzying expansion of soy monoculture has led to marked inequalities in wealth and land and to ecological disruption and social disaster.

Protesters took the Cartes government to task for its privatization policies and subservience to multi-national corporations. In Asunción, disciplined groups of subsistence farmers led by the National Campesino Federation marched along one route to a demonstration in front of the National Congress. Joined by students, unionists allied to several labor federations moved along another route to Democracy Plaza. The police had warned of violence. Instead, a festive mood prevailed and police had only to attend to routine traffic duties.

Reversing his government’s position, President Cartes early in the day called for negotiations. In response to demands for a minimum wage increase, he granted a 10 percent hike, rejecting a sought-after 25 percent increase. In statements, union leaders accepted negotiations, but insisted that another strike would follow in four months if no agreement is reached. Sociologist Mariel Palau emphasized that negotiations would not fix “structural problems needing to be solved within the framework of building a full popular movement.”

The strikers demanded reduced transportation fares, agrarian reform and “respect for life,” free heath care and free quality education, respect for human rights and labor rights, and repeal of the government’s Public-Private Alliance.

Paraguay’s Congress had approved a Public – Private Alliance Law in October 2013. Favored by conservative governments in the region, such legislation relies upon private investment to promote efficient, expanded government services and infrastructure.

With its record of interventions in Paraguay, the U.S. government, one assumes, monitored the strike. The Paraguayan Peace and Justice Service recently discussed U.S. concerns over “people who endanger order, peace, and stability, [and those] who occupy plazas and territories, indigenous people who resist, and many other actors … all of whom are poor.” The human rights group was reporting on the installation in February of an “Emergency Operations Center” in San Pedro operated by the U.S. Southern Command.

According to the report, agrarian rights mobilizations are continuing in San Pedro, located north of Asuncion, and “since Horacio Cartes became president, the department has been militarized.” As bishop in San Pedro, ex -President Lugo supported agrarian rights activists there. Wikileaks documents testify to U.S. concern over Lugo’s supposed association as bishop with leftist guerrillas in San Pedro. Beginning in 2012, struggles over land there have escalated to the extent of triggering murderous police repression.

U.S. analyst Richard Doughman suggests the U.S. base in San Pedro will be used as a military intelligence center and back-up for “high precision” military operations.. He regards the alleged purpose of responding to natural or humanitarian disasters as a cover for a U.S. military presence in the region.

Earlier, the U.S. military carried out training exercises with Paraguayan soldiers as part of its New Horizons program, set up ostensibly to carry out humanitarian missions. In 2006, the U.S. military re-opened its huge Mariscal Estigarribia airbase located near the Bolivian border and built during the Stroessner era. Authors commenting on Paraguay’s strategic value to the U.S. government cite the region’s natural resources, especially the Guarani aquifer; proximity to U.S. adversary Bolivia and to the triple border area, hub of drug and human trafficking, and the country’s location between Brazil and Argentina.

However, the U.S. government may have its hands full in trying to control social protest in Paraguay. At the closing rally on March 26 outside the National Congress building, peasant leader Luis Aguayo told the crowd that “Truth triumphs over the lie, over government shenanigans. Truth wins. Organized people, from the city or from the country, shape history with [their own] sacrifice. He critiqued the Public-Private Alliance as “an order for sale and surrender of sovereignty.”

Gaitán anniversary recalls history sought by FARC
| April 15, 2014 | 8:48 pm | Action, International | No comments

By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Via: http://www.peoplesworld.org/colombia-jorge-gaitan-and-the-struggle-for-peace/

In Colombia on an official visit, General John F. Kelly, head of the U.S. Southern Command, told reporters on March 27, 2014 that, “We are doing everything we can to help the people and the Armed Forces of Colombia … “[T]he rebels are up against the ropes, almost defeated, and as we say in the United States, we don’t want to take our eyes off the ball.”

In response, Colombians might ask: “Would the end of the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC) bring about peace in Colombia?” The FARC presently is negotiating peace with the Colombian government, in Cuba.

In fact, violent conflict exploded in Colombia immediately following the assassination in Bogota of political leader Jorge Eliécer Gaitán on April 9, 1948, and has continued. It was only years later, in July, 1964, that the FARC came into existence. And, coincidence or not, FARC negotiators timed a recent statement calling for historical investigation of the period before Gaitán’s death with the anniversary of his death. Armed conflict seems to have been well established even then.

FARC negotiators are preparing for the next agenda item for talks in Havana, which is about victims of conflict. In their statement on April 4 they were seeking: “[C]larification of the causes of the conflict and responsibilities … Without this input, discussion of Point Five referring to victims will be meaningless. It’s obvious that without establishing the origin of the conflict and its historical truth, there can be no peace, … We propose that the period of historical study take off from Law 200 of 1936 which gave rise to a reaction unleashing landowner and party violence lasting until now.”

Gaitán was a socialist and anti-imperialist, and class divisions fueled conflict in Colombia then and since. A cursory review of the decade or so of interest to the FARC lends credence to this view for that period.

Victory of the Liberal Party in 1930 ended decades of Conservative Party rule. Under Alfonso López Pumarejo, president from 1934 through 1938, the Liberals advanced agrarian reform through Law 200, also labor rights and social programs. Jorge Eliécer Gaitán, leader of the Liberal Party’s left wing and at various times Bogota’s mayor, minister of labor, education minister and a senator, sparked the Party’s response to underclass yearnings. “I am not, personally, me,” he once said, “I am a people.”

Liberal Party elements headed by Gaitán moved toward political independence as the Conservative Party and old guard Liberal Party leaders mobilized against social reforms. Legislation in 1944 weakened the 1936 land reform law and popular protests mounted. Facing elections in 1946, the Party divided. Gaitán campaigned for the presidency as an independent. The Conservatives’ Mariano Ospina Pérez, benefitting from Liberal Party schism, became president.

Over decades, anti-clerical and business-oriented urban Liberals had confronted Conservatives dedicated to landholding, the military, and the church. Now Liberal Party traditionalists fearful of popular uprisings were in league with Conservatives who, also leery of discord and fond of General Franco’s Falangist movement in Spain, had moved to the right. The Conservative government set police and the military to terrorizing poor neighborhoods and the countryside. According to one report, “In only two years more than 15,000 people were assassinated.” Gaitán, sole leader of a now left-leaning Liberal Party, became a lightening rod before a building storm.

His story, central to the history the FARC is looking at, testifies to the emotional pain of unceasing violence. Historians see Gaitán as all but certain to have been elected president in 1950. His death dashed hopes for democratic realization of social reforms, and the opportunity hasn’t returned. It happened at the time and place that the United States launched its anti-Soviet cold war in Latin America. Therefore, his death, no surprise given violent conflict already afoot, set the stage for civil war ongoing ever since.

Speculation as to responsibility for Gaitán’s killing moved from the deranged, right-wing shooter, to betrayal by Gaitán’s friend Plinio Mendoza, to the CIA, to dark forces within Colombia’s government. For two weeks afterwards, enraged mobs rioted. Over 10 years 200,000 Colombians would die as the army and police fought guerrilla bands. Ex – FARC leader Manuel Marulanda tells how Communist guerrillas, espousing a more coherent political program than that of opportunistic Liberal Party counterparts, became protagonists in a war that hasn’t ended.

When Gaitán died, U.S. Secretary of State George Marshall was in Bogota attending the 9th Pan-American Union Conference. He shepherded the Union’s conversion to the Organization of American States, envisioned as a bulwark against communism in Latin America. Earlier, U.S. intelligence had assured the Colombian government that anti-government protests were the work of communist agitators. Then U.S. and Colombian officials blamed the assassination and subsequent rioting on communists. The Colombian government broke relations with the Soviet Union. U.S. military aid to Colombia spiked in 1964 as the FARC communist insurgency got underway.

Jorge Eliécer Gaitán’s 1924 doctoral thesis was entitled “Socialist thinking in Colombia.” Responding to the Army’s massacre of hundreds of striking banana workers in Santa Marta in 1928, Congressman Gaitán declared, “The Colombian Army has its knee bent before Yankee gold and [enough]arrogance for shooting Colombian children” The Manifesto of the short-lived, socialist-oriented National Revolutionary Left Union founded by Gaitán in 1933 stated that, “[L]and must be for those who work it, the large landed estate is a crime, enrichment through exploitation is illicit and criminal, workers must intervene in the management of … factories.”

Colombia’s dark shadow embraced Gaitán as he spoke to followers on February 7, 1948. The funereal tone of his “Oration for Peace” was prophetic. Addressing President Mariano Ospina Pérez, he declared that, a “great multitude flowed into this plaza yet not one cry is heard because within our hearts we listen only to the beat of emotion. Subterranean force is much more powerful during great storms and has power to impose peace when those obliged to do so, don’t. Mr. President: You don’t hear applause here. You only see black flags moving. … We don’t have economic or political theses for you on this occasion…We ask of you deeds of peace and civilization … Sir, stop the violence!”

Rescuing disposable children in the United States
| April 15, 2014 | 8:44 pm | Action, Analysis | No comments

By W. T. Whitney Jr.

Via: http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/04/08/rescuing-disposable-children/

Barbarism, as in Rosa Luxemburg’s “Socialism or Barbarism,” (Junius Pamphlet, 1916 – from Frederick Engels) should be obvious. That’s the case with killings in war, torture, mass incarcerations, or allowing climate change to work its way. But barbarism may also be slow-moving, even hidden. The outlook for many poor, black children in the United States, for example, is so dismal as to suggest that within that society, they are disposable.

Research studies, validated by experience, point to a strong association between growing up poor and non-white and ending up unprepared for schooling and lifelong health. The University of North Carolina’s Abecedarian Project explored that relationship. An update of the Project’s findings appeared in Science recently and was summarized in the New York Times. The findings invite thinking about ways to promote learning and health, in all children.

For 40 years, UNC investigators monitored more than 100 individuals they indentified at birth. They were poor, and 98 percent of them were African – American. Half the babies, randomly selected, entered a “treatment” group. The rest continued on without intervention. From early infancy through age five, over fifty children benefited from skilled, accessible health care and excellent nutrition. Their parents received nutritional education. Importantly, the very young infants entered full-time day care with heavy educational content. At ages six through eight, skilled home visitors provided parents with advice on how to support children’s learning in school. Over many years researchers periodically evaluated both groups from the points of view of learning ability, social adjustment, and eventually adult health.

The Project’s data, just reported, are astounding. The authors conclude: “[W]e find that disadvantaged children randomly assigned to treatment have significantly lower prevalence of risk factors for cardiovascular and metabolic diseases in their mid-30s. The evidence is especially strong for males. The mean systolic blood pressure among the control males is 143 millimeters of mercury … whereas it is only 126 mm Hg among the treated. One in four males in the control group is affected by metabolic syndrome, whereas none in the treatment group are affected.” The term “metabolic syndrome” signifies the presence of at least three of the following: excess abdominal fat, high triglyceride level, low level of “good cholesterol,” high blood pressure, and high blood sugar.

UNC investigators had already reported on other milestones achieved by children in both groups. Remarkably, children with support showed: “higher cognitive test scores from the toddler years to age 21,” higher academic achievement in reading and math from the primary grades through young adulthood, more years in school, higher average age when a first child is born, and higher educational and employment status for mothers of participant children. Twenty three percent of intervention children graduated from a four- year college. Only six percent of children without treatment did so. Young adults benefiting from early intervention were more than twice as likely to be “consistently employed” than the others.

The project’s findings apply potentially to a huge population. In 2012, 23 percent of all U.S. children were living in poverty, defined as a $23,283 annual income for a family of four. And more: 40 percent of black children and 34 percent of Latino children were poor. As reported by the Children’s Defense Fund: “Approximately 1 in 5 Black and 1 in 7 Hispanic children were living in extreme poverty in 2012.” That’s an annual family income of $11,746.

If current patterns of demographic reshuffle continue, the linkage of poverty, non-white ethnic identification, and diminished lives will become even more prominent within U.S. society. In 2013 white children accounted for 53 percent of all children, with Latino and black children representing 24 and 14 percent of the total, respectively. By 2030, white children will have fallen to 45 percent and Latino children will make up 29 percent. The proportion of black children will remain unchanged.

Clarification is in order: effects of racial and class -based discrimination may be inseparable. A study from Maine 30 years ago, for instance, established a correlation between Maine children’s physical vulnerability and low-come status of their families. The mostly white children – identifiable through participation in social welfare programs – claimed a death rate 3.1 times greater than children not receiving such help when they died. “Children from low-income families were at higher risk for disease-related deaths (3.5:1), accidental deaths (2.6:1), and homicide deaths (5.0:1),”

Many commentators see the Abecedarian Project’s data as lending scientific rationale for universal pre-school education, being pushed now – and justifiably so – at high governmental levels. Yet the main thrust of the UNC study was to look at that stage of child development where intervention does the most good.

That would be the first hours, weeks, and months of a child’s life. According to one specialist, “The simple and unavoidable result of this sequential neurodevelopment is that the organizing, ‘sensitive’ brain of an infant or young child is more malleable to experience than a mature brain.” So, the failure of Head Start children’s gains to last throughout the school years may stem from Head Start intervention being too late. The Abecedarian Project corrected that.

But what about those children enrolled in the Project who received no early educational intervention? They, in fact, are stand-ins for millions of other children who end up marginalized. They are victims of low-key barbarism assuring that many children will never develop as they were able to do. As with disasters cited above, their situation is by no means curable within the structure of U.S. and global capitalism. To expect intensive early intervention being extended to millions of U.S. children under current circumstances is wishful thinking.

It turns out, however, that the needs themselves of young children hint at solution. Child development specialists unite in regarding very early, language-based parent- baby interaction as essential for young infants to make gains. This relationship flourishes through mutual gratification. There are rewards on both sides: the baby smiles – does anything – and a parent is overjoyed. The parent holds, caresses, feeds, and talks, and the baby learns someone cares. Messages go back and forth.

Short circuiting is possible. A parent may be too distracted to engage. Indeed, the world of poverty and racial animosity incubates material shortages, unrealized dreams, anger, a siege mentality, failed human relationships, social isolation, sadness, even depression. A baby may bring parents little joy in such circumstances.

One wonders: what if parents, convinced that a better world is possible, found hope? If they did, maybe children would be bathed in warm expectations. What if parents worked to bring about a new world? Their dignity quotient might be up, and their babies would gain. Of course, most children whose parents are comfortable within U.S. society, and are hopeful, and who value themselves don’t need language-based early intervention.

Beleaguered parents would reject their reality of a dog-eat-dog world and join in on fixing things. They would seek a future where basic human needs are assured, where the intellectual, health, and social potentials of all are realized. Confident and optimistic as they work toward socialist goals, they would enter into new exchanges with babies. There would be a boost even just starting out. Quoting the Spanish poet Antonio Machado, progressive Brazilian educator Paulo Freire observed long ago, “We make the road by walking.”

Omal Arab interviews the WFTU General Secretary
| April 15, 2014 | 8:27 pm | Action, International, Labor | No comments

Via: http://www.wftucentral.org/?p=7502&language=en

13 April 2014

Conference to take place in Athens, Greece on May 10-12, 2014.

Read also his opinion about the Arab leaders, the ICATU, the International Organizations and other interesting topics.

Question: Which is the objective of the meeting held in Athens on 11-12 May?

On 11-12 May in Athens, an international meeting of Arab trade union Organizations will take place with the initiative of the WFTU. The participation will be very large.

Trade Unions members and friends of the WFTU are invited. It will be an open, democratic, modern trade union Conference, where each trade union will speak freely, will contribute its positions. The developments in the Arab world, Middle East, the Mediterranean, the Gulf are critical, are important and in this Conference we will discuss the tasks, the role of the trade unions and the workers for this period.

The Conference will discuss about the labor issues, the salaries, the social security rights for the workers. It is a clear fact that the salaries are low, the unemployment is terrifying, the trade union rights for the working women concern us, the needs of the youth are high. All these topics will be discussed openly and concrete resolutions will be taken. Resolutions for Action. Amongst our objectives, is also the functioning of Offices of the WFTU in more countries in the region so that the presence of the WFTU will strengthen in regional and sectoral level.

Question: Although you are originally from Greece, you have met many Arab trade unionists. What is your opinion about the Arab trade union movement?

I was born and raised in a small Greek island with 2,000 habitants by a family of cattlemen. Our history, our culture, our traditions, our land are similar to the Arabic. We both, Arabs and Greeks have great civilizations. Hence, I feel as a true brother to the Arab workers.

It is true that I have met, I have cooperated, I have worked with great Arab trade union leaders. From all of those that I met in person, I can say that they are militants, honest, proud, people-loving men and women who are stable in their friendships and are in love with their histories and countries. I believe the majority are like that.

I should not mention names, since I am afraid I will leave someone out. But I can say, I have definitely gained many great friends amongst the Arab trade unionists.

It is also true that I have also met, as a General Secretary of the WFTU many leaders of the Arab World. I will only mention one. I met her together with Yasser Arafat inside his headquarters. The meeting was held in very difficult conditions as we had to break the blockade that the Israeli army had forced against the Palestinian leader. During our meeting the Israeli tanks destroyed half of the building we were in. O Yasser Arafat will remain in history as a legendary leader of the Palestinian people and an all-time international militant leader. A great personality, worthy of our admiration and love.

Question: How would you describe the relations between WFTU and ICATU?

Signing of Memorandum of Understanding between WFTU and ICATU, Damascus, Syria November 2007The ICATU has a rich and long militant history. From its foundation until today it has defended the rights of the Arab workers and all the workers in the Arab countries. Consistently, ICATU defended the Palestinian struggle, the struggle of the people of Libya, Lebanon, of all the people in the Arab countries.

ICATU teaches pride and decency. The WFTU since its foundation has had honest, fraternal relations with ICATU. In the contrary, the ITUC (ex. ICFTU) has only had a hostile attitude against ICATU. The real reasons for this hostility, is that the ITUC historically supported the positions and the strategies of Israel. ITUC supports the strategy of imperialism (e.g in Iraq, in Libya, in Syria, in Egypt, in Tunisia, in Algeria etc.) that wants to divide the Arabs, to intervene in the internal affairs of the unions and place trade unionists-puppets inside the trade unions.

It is the duty of all the militant trade unions in the Arab world to support ICATU, to help it become stronger. This would be for the benefit of the working class in the Arab world, for its great history, great culture and its militant characteristics. The WFTU centrally will continue its course along with ICATU in the Middle East, the Maghreb and everywhere, in all the continents and inside all the International Organizations were the role of ICATU may become stronger.

Question: What is the situation today in the International Organizations?

The situation in the International Organizations is not good. The correlation of forces is negative. Take into consideration that although there are numerous resolutions taken by the United Nations in favor of the Palestinian issue which remain only words, while for the invasions of imperialism against Libya, Iraq, Mali etc. one resolution of the UN was enough to be directly implemented.

Unfortunately, the situation in the ILO, in central and regional level is not good as well. There is no equality, no democracy, no representativeness. A monopoly continues to exist and operate. A characteristic example is that the ACFTU of China with 290 million members (which are more than the members of WFTU and ITUC combined) is represented in the Governing Body of the ILO with only one seat of the 31 that exist. So it is clear, that there is no democracy. This heavily reflects in the work and the positions of the ILO.

Question: The last years, the WFTU gained more affiliates and become very strong in the Arab world. What are the reasons for this upward course?

WFTU International Conference in solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Middle East in Athens, Greece, September 2006It is true that all the large Trade Union Organizations in the Arab world are either members or they cooperate closely with the WFTU. All the large trade unions are in our family. The trade unions of Sudan, Egypt, Palestine, Lebanon, Syria, Algeria, Mauritania, Djibouti, Somalia, Iraq, Bahrain and other smaller trade unions from Tunisia, Morocco, Libya.

This is mainly because WFTU respects its members and friends. Does not intervene in their internal affairs, respects their religious, linguistic and other differences, respects their history, their culture, their traditions.

Our objective is to strengthen the democracy and the militant characteristics of all the trade unions. To help them obtain democratic constitutions, to hold regular Congresses and elections. To strengthen their anti-imperialistic orientation, their internationalist character and the solidarity expressed between the Arab trade unions with priority to the struggle of the Palestinian people to have his own country with East Jerusalem as its capital.

Question: Your opponents raise the argument that the WFTU supports the governments. Which is your response to that?

WFTU International Conference in solidarity with the people of Lebanon and Middle East in Athens, Greece, September 2006The WFTU, the class-oriented trade union movement is not “governmental trade unionism”. We do not support governments; we support the people, the working people, the movements. For example, in Libya, in Iraq our position was not to defend Gaddafi or Saddam Hussein. We were against the imperialists because we believe that the only ones with authority to decide for their present and future are the people themselves. This is our position in Venezuela, in Syria, in Egypt, in Ukraine, in Colombia, everywhere.

The imperialists do not choose to intervene against Syria, against Iraq, against Libya, against Ecuador, against Mali, against the Central African Republic for the purpose of “democracy” and “freedom”. The imperialists invade to steal, to plunder, to loot the natural wealth producing resources, for new fields of control, to get the oil, the gas, the waters, the agricultural production. The imperialists invade to gain geostrategic positions, to promote their geostrategic interests.

So those who say that the wars serve the peace, democracy and freedom are hypocrites. They lie. It sounds like a joke, the black propaganda of some, that the Kings, the Monarchs of the Gulf, Erdogan and others are interested for the democratic rights and the popular freedoms.

The position of the WFTU is crystal clear. The imperialist aggression to stop. All the Arab territories to be liberated. The relevant prisoners to be released and the refugees to be allowed to return to their homes.

The people are the only ones with power to decide freely and democratically for their present and future. The wealth of the countries belongs to the people and not the monopolies and the multinational trusts.

It is a stable position of the WFTU that all the trade unions should demand from the governments the satisfaction of the labor rights. Against any government, the trade unions have the duty to struggle for the workers.

Question: What is the message that you want to send to the Arab people?

The World Federation of Trade Unions was, is and will continue to remain their stable ally. We are stable on the side of the working class and the working people of the Arab world. For a fair world, without imperialist interventions and capitalist exploitation. Your countries are all rich. They have gold, oil, silver, sun, sea, gas, fertile land with many natural beauties, unique historic and cultural heritage. You have the Nile. You have worthy working people, scientific personnel, strong unions, militant experience. Thus, if the people take the initiative and the power, the future of the region for the younger generations could certainly be better than it is today.

Ukraine’s great unraveling, brought to you by corporate America
| April 14, 2014 | 8:55 pm | Action, International | No comments

Via: http://rt.com/op-edge/ukraine-us-kiev-usaid-380/

By Robert Bridges

Robert Bridge has worked as a journalist in Russia since 1998. Formerly the editor-in-chief of The Moscow News, Bridge is the author of the book, “Midnight in the American Empire.”

Published time: April 14, 2014 14:24

To the casual consumer of McMedia happy meals, the Ukrainian crisis is a consequence of Russia’s yearning for empire lost, a Nazi-style Anschluss that began with Crimea and will end, judging by the big-font hysteria, somewhere near Alaska.

For the more sober-minded observer, however, whose worldview has not been vandalized by misguided Russophobic inclinations, the reality of the situation is a bit more complicated.

In December 2013, then-Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich made a decision that seems radical only because we have been trained to believe that national indebtedness to foreign institutions is the natural order of things: After telling EU’s officials that he intended to sign the European association agreement, Yanukovich sent shock waves across the Western world when he suddenly reversed his decision (Until now, only Iceland has had the courage to say ‘no’ to western liberal reformers and their massive cash injections since the bottom fell out of the global economy in 2008).

Why the change of heart? Because the now-deposed Ukrainian leader had no desire to sell his proud nation down the river. Yanukovich understood that the harsh austerity measures demanded by the EU-IMF-NATO triumvirate would have served as a final death blow to the Ukrainian people, already suffering from many years of high unemployment and a withering economy.

Yanukovich decided instead to accept a no-strings-attached loan of $15 billion from neighboring Russia – interest-free! Considering the ongoing meltdown of EU member states, most notably in Greece, which continues to stagnate despite a massive $145 billion injection in 2010, Kiev’s volte-face toward Russia was not without merit.

However, that is not the way the Masters of the Western Universe, who wish to control the debt of nations, saw the situation.

No sooner had Yanukovich adjusted his reading glasses to read the fine-print conditions on the EU-IMF agreement, US Senator John McCain was in central Kiev, agitating the local populace with boilerplate promises of a debt-free future while shaking hands and kissing so many babies you’d think he was running for the Ukrainian presidency.

“Ukraine will make Europe better, and Europe will make Ukraine better,” McCain told a confused crowd in Kiev. “We are here to support your just cause, the sovereign right of Ukraine to determine its own destiny freely and independently. And the destiny you seek lies in Europe.”

Later, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland was in Kiev, just as anti-government protests had reached fevered pitch, handing out pastries to Ukraine’s protesters and riot police. While there was no word on the expiration date of the bakery goods, the idea of the American superpower acting self-righteous and charitable in the middle of a foreign nation’s internal crisis – triggered in no small part by Washington’s own manipulations – was unappetizing to say the least.

So how does one explain Washington’s extreme diplomatic overtures in Kiev? Is it simply a case that the United States, as the self-designated champion of human rights and cake distribution, is merely acting as an impartial advocate on behalf of an internal political struggle (with emphasis on the word ‘internal’)? History would suggest otherwise.

It is no secret that the United States has been angling for a strategic advantage in Eastern Europe since the end of World War II, with special attention focused on strategically important Ukraine, which could serve as a future bridgehead into Central Asia and beyond. In an interview with Kiev’s Weekly Digest (May, 2004) Zbigniew Brzezinski, Washington’s premier adviser on geopolitical strategy, emphasized the importance of Russia’s neighbor.

Ukraine “is certainly not a pawn; it may not be a queen, but it certainly is an important element on the chessboard – one of the most important.”

We could probably agree that one does not normally allude to the ultimate game of strategy when discussing democracy and people power. Clearly, Brzezinski and his worn-out chess board was making an unmistakable reference to Ukraine’s military importance to the United States. It was not, of course, a call for humanitarian action.

So what conclusion should Russian strategists draw from such analysis, especially as NATO continues its mechanized march toward Russia’s border, and despite pledges made to Moscow following the collapse of the Soviet Union that the military bloc would not “move an inch” beyond Germany?

Washington’s disingenuous approach to the so-called “reset,” an Obama-conceived initiative used to camouflage America’s militaristic designs in the region, was finally revealed by NATO’s blunt refusal to permit Russia’s participation in the US missile defense shield project in Eastern Europe – a stone’s throw from the Russian border.

Moscow warned if NATO failed to agree on some sort of mutual agreement with Russia over the ambitious project, which has all the potential to destroy the fragile strategic balance in the region, another arms race could occur on the continent. Yet as incredible as it may seem, NATO seems willing to alienate Russia over an unproven system allegedly designed to neutralize an unproven enemy (Iran) while risking an all-out nuclear-tipped arms race.

Judging by the relative insanity of NATO’s decision, which ignores the necessity of bilateral cooperation in the war on terror, to which Russia is certainly no stranger, the only thing the “reset” achieved was to sow dissent and disagreement between the former Cold War foes. The Ukrainian crisis was merely the final straw on the back of an overloaded camel.

However, one nation’s crisis is another corporation’s windfall. Indeed, developments in Ukraine certainly spell big bucks for America’s bloated defense industry, which has used the Ukraine crisis in general, and the Crimean “annexation” in particular, to warn Capitol Hill of Russia’s “return to imperialism.” Never mind that Russia has not violated the territorial integrity of a single foreign country – without being attacked first, as was the case with Georgia – since the collapse of the Soviet Union.

“Everybody in the Pentagon and in the defense industry is using the Ukraine crisis as a warning for why the department needs to spend more on military technology,” Loren Thompson, chief operating officer for the Lexington Institute, told AP.

Military advantage, however, is not the only reason for Washington imposing itself on Kiev. To understand the full picture, it is only necessary to consider the corporate circus that US Congress has become, in which the “people’s representatives” now take their marching orders from boardrooms across corporate America.

Consider, for example, efforts by the American Petroleum Institute to take advantage of Kiev’s chaos.

“We’ve just had a consistent drumbeat going since the beginning of last year,” Erik Milito, API’s director of industry operations, told Bloomberg. “We just kept doing it, and this became a more heightened debate during the whole Ukraine situation.”

Milito said the message from API, whose members include the likes of Chevron and Exxon Mobil, was not lost upon Democrat and Republican members of Congress.

“It’s a common thing when there’s a crisis for companies to see opportunity, and they will use advocacy to pursue their interests,” said James Thurber, director of the Center for Congressional and Presidential Studies at American University in Washington.

This begs the obvious question: Is the United States purposefully provoking crises, like the one presently ripping Ukraine apart by the seams, in order to advance itself not only militarily in the region (after all, EU membership de facto implies NATO membership as well), but to quell the inordinate appetite of American corporations?

Judging by recent revelations on the part of Russia regarding the work of NGOs and particular government agencies, that is a very strong likelihood.

In September 2012, Russia’s Foreign Ministry informed the US Agency for International Development (USAID) that, after operating on the territory of Russia for 20 years, it would no longer be welcome.

According to the Foreign Ministry, USAID was attempting to manipulate the election processes in the country.

“The character of the agency’s work … did not always comply with the declared aims of cooperation in bilateral humanitarian cooperation,” the Foreign Ministry said on its website. “We are talking about issuing grants in an attempt to affect the course of the political processes in the country, including elections at different levels and institutions in civil society.”

Russian civil society has become fully mature, the Foreign Ministry said, and did not need any “external direction.”

Over the last 20 years, USAID has pumped $1.8 billion into various Ukrainian projects, which its website says help “Ukrainians experience increased political freedoms, stronger transparency guarantees, and more economic and social opportunities.”

How much that massive investment of US taxpayer dollars was used – knowingly or otherwise – to spread the seed of dissent revolution in Ukraine is anybody’s guess. But one thing is certain: the crisis in Ukraine has proven that the American empire is a borderless, virtual construct, which needn’t physically dominate a territory to possess it.

Like a fly-by-night vampire, the EU-IMF-NATO troika only requires an invitation to enter and operate inside of a country before the bloodletting, bank loans and corporate takeovers can begin. Eventually, the debtor country is stuffed into an ill-fitting NATO uniform and becomes a mere shadow of its former self.

Like so many international “patients” that came and went before, Ukraine will never be the same again.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of HCP.

Kiev must stop war on Ukrainians – Churkin
| April 13, 2014 | 10:46 pm | Action | No comments

Via: http://rt.com/news/security-council-ukraine-violence-312/
Published time: April 13, 2014 23:39
Edited time: April 14, 2014 03:13

International community must demand that those who are in power in Kiev stop war on their own citizens in south-eastern Ukraine, Russia’s UN envoy Vitaly Churkin told the UN Security Council.

“The international community must demand the stooges of Maidan stop the war against their own people”, Churkin said at an emergency Security Council session.

Churkin stressed that “reckless actions” of the Kiev government are “threatening to rip apart the delicate garment of Ukrainian mosaic society.”

Kiev’s post-coup authorities “stubbornly,” Churkin says, refuse to listen to those who do not accept Kiev’s “radicalized, chauvinistic, russophobic, anti-Semitic forces.”

“Some, including those in this hall, constantly look for Moscow’s hand in the events in the southeast , persistently without wishing to see the true reasons of the events in Ukraine. Quit doing it,” Churkin told the meeting.

“Quit spreading tales that we built up military armadas on the border with this country, ready at any moment, within a few hours to reach almost as far as La Manche, that we sent hordes of agents to coordinate actions of the protesting people of Ukraine.”

Monstrous russophobia bordering on hatred became the norm in the Verhovna Rada, Churkin reminded. “These beings deserve only one thing – death,” Churkin quoted a recent female Svoboda party MP’s statement about protesters in the East. And such views are widely shared among her “brutal co-party members,” he added.

The people’s outcry in the East was indeed answered by Ukraine Parliament – with “draconian laws” threatening them long term imprisonment for “separatism” and “terrorism,” Churkin said.

US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power used a chance to accuse Russia of directly intervening and orchestrating the protests in Ukraine.

“You heard that there are no Russian troops in eastern Ukraine but the fact is that many of the armed units that we have seen were outfitted in bullet proof vests, camouflage uniforms with insignia removed,” Power said.

“We know who is behind this. Indeed the only entity in the area capable of coordinating these professional military actions is Russia,” Power claimed.

In his turn, Ukraine’s Ambassador Yuriy Sergeyev said that “Russia has not only constantly been increasing its troops alongside the Ukrainian border but also sending subversive groups into Ukrainian regions in order to destabilize the situation,” accusing Russia of orchestrating a full-scale “terrorist operation” in the East.

Taking the floor for the second time, Churkin warned that the deadline was looming, and that prospects of holding negotiations next week would be undermined if Kiev uses force against its people in the East, Churkin said in his rebuttal to the accusations by other members of the UNSC.

“Let’s move aside from speculations, accusations, from searching for Russian phantoms flying all over different corners of Ukraine, but let’s concentrate attention on what we can do – in this case I’m directing my eyesight at my Western colleagues – in order to prevent the Kiev authorities’ reckless actions, which at this moment are embodied in the criminal order of Mr. Turchinov, and to prevent the realization of this order, which will have the most severe implications primarily for the people of Ukraine.”

In response to his Ukrainian colleague’s accusations that Russia is engaged in supporting terrorism in Ukraine, Churkin responded: “Why did you not accuse of terrorism those who were terrorizing your government for a span of several months?”

“Those who actually terrorized the security forces, who actually set on fire the policemen, shot at them, just like they did at those who were protesting against the authorities and seemingly acted on their side. Those people, for some reason, you did not call terrorists, and even relieved them from any liability for their criminal actions that were conducted over several months.”

Churkin called accusations against Russia “ridiculous” pointing out that Russia’s calls to start negotiations at the beginning of the crisis were ignored. “Why did you encourage this crisis?” Churkin asked.

“Russia, throughout the stretch of the Ukrainian crisis spoke out not for aggravation of the crisis, not to destabilize the country,” but to “keep the situation stable” in the neighboring country, Churkin told the UNSC, adding, “it is not our fault what we are witnessing there.”

He also questioned the role the US plays in the EU decision making process, citing the fact that Washington was quick to answer President’s Putin letter addressed to EU nations, on gas transit to Europe. “We will have to wait and see if there is any sovereignty left in the EU. Can it independently make decisions that could lead the situation out of crisis?”

When Samantha Power took the floor for the second time she stressed the US consistently “called for de-escalation and urged restraint” when dealing with the Ukrainian crisis, saying “there has been no shortage of evidence in diplomacy.”

She once again blamed Russia for fuelling Ukrainian crisis.

“It is not the United States that escalated the situation. It is the Russian Federation,” Power said, stating that it is hard to “reconcile the behavior of the Russian Federation, the propaganda of the Russian Federation, the military actions of the Russian Federation which range from the massing of 40,000 troops at the border to the subversive activities inside Ukraine” with “this appeal for diplomacy and de-escalation, and an appeal we wish was in fact sincere.”

Power said that Russia’s point of view is “rooted in the idea that the internet does not exist” where people can see all the “evidence.” She claimed that pro-federalization rallies are not protests, but instead are a series of military operations by “professional forces, carrying weapons, Russian made weapons as it happens, carrying out sophisticated, complicated military operations across a substantial number of eastern Ukrainian cities.”

Finally, Powers said that the “credibility of the Russian Federation has been greatly undermined.”

Churkin also stressed that Russia repeatedly stated that constitutional reform mentioned in February 21 agreement has to be implemented to avoid the escalation of tensions. He also stressed that FM Sergey Lavrov in his conversations with his counterpart John Kerry, always tries to explain to him the position of pro-federalization activists, so the US can get a full picture of the tension in Ukraine.

And while Russia and the US continue their talks, Churkin says, some politicians in the US already state that these conversations “will not lead to anything” and are just being conducted by the US to “occupy time.”

“Occupy time? So, does that means that someone in Washington actually has something like Turchinov’s armed scenario in their heads? If so, let’s not accuse Russia of seeking to destabilize the situation.”

Churkin also accused the West of double standards, pointing out the fact that the West encouraged actions to overthrow the government in Kiev in February, while at the same time condemning the events in the East of the country, where people reject the new rule forcefully imposed on them.

Russia’s UN envoy also said that there seems to be a total disconnect in Kiev’s approach to the crisis, as the acting prime minister Yatsenyuk is talking of the possibility of referendum while Turchinov at the same time is giving crackdown orders. “It seems they prefer to use force,” Churkin said.

The UN Security Council held an emergency meeting requested by Russia to discuss the Kiev’s decision to use military forces to crush protests in Eastern Ukraine.

The United Nations Security Council emergency session was requested by Russia to discuss Ukraine’s declaration of a so-called “anti-terrorist operation” against pro-federation protesters in Eastern Ukraine.

The session was initially planned to be closed, but several Security Council members were pushing for an open format.

The urgent meeting comes after the coup-imposed Kiev government authorized the use of the military in Ukraine’s south-eastern regions to supress the popular uprising.

Events on the ground have taken a very dangerous turn, the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement on Sunday, slamming the order of a full-scale military operation as “criminal.”

“The Kiev authorities, who self-proclaimed themselves as a result of a coup, have embarked on the violent military suppression of the protests,” the ministry said adding that the rallies, which have gripped the Donbas region were prompted by Kiev’s disregard of the legitimate interests the people.