The Howling Dogs of War

On the 15th  August, Shaun Walker, a reporter for the British Guardian news paper reported that  a Russian  military  convoy had  crossed the border  into Ukrainian territory, using a rough dirt track and clearly crossing through a gap in a barbed wire fence that demarcates the border. 

The Kiev government subsequently  claimed that this Russian convoy had been partially destroyed by  Ukrainian artillery.

Mysteriously,  Shaun Walker only posted one photograph in his world exclusive on  the Russian invasion of Ukraine- a photo of the tail end of  one  armoured personnel  carrier on a road in some unidentified location. The  Kiev government like-wise produced no  photographs of the destroyed Russian military hardware or any evidence of the mauled remainder of the  Russian military  convoy.

NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen  subsequently accused Russia of an incursion into  Ukrainian territory,  a claim  strenuously denied by  the Russian authorities who  speculated that the  military  convoy was a Ukrainian  one which  had been hit by  friendly fire .

Like so  many of the multitude of the claims by  the Kiev Government  about Russian military  invasions over the past few months; none of them have been able to be verified by  satellite imaging , or military  personnel, or by journalists  on  the ground.

In the face of absence of  verification, it is more than likely that none of these Russian incursions occurred. The absence of Russian military  advisers and equipment  and troops appears to  be also  substantiated by the rapidly deteriorating military  situation for the rebels in Eastern Ukraine. Ukraine’s demoralized and ill-equipped troops and  reluctant  conscripts,  along with the rag-tag band of neo-con funded neo-nazi brigades,  would prove no match for  Russia’s modernised military hardware and elite troops.

So  why  then  would Shaun  Walker produce such  a report; knowing full  well that his  article could have led to  Word War 3?   Shaun, despite his   fluency in Russian, is well  known for his Russophobic   and anti-Putin tendencies, along with other Guardian  reporters such  as Luke Harding.  And additionally,   was the Kiev  Government media simply responding in its less than honest  way to  more  media rumour and supposition,or was this something else?

Either way, Shaun Walker’s credibility as a reporter has been severely compromised.

But his  tendency  to play  with the facts is no by  no means unusual in Western media. In its most blatant example of media dishonesty,  Western,  and particularly US mainstream media, have for years portrayed Israel  as some tiny  vulnerable  island in a sea of hateful  hordes of Arabs. The truth  of that   nasty  little narrative is only now becoming  known  to Western  audiences, as the alternative press construction of  the real scale of systemic long -term brutality and genocide by  the Israeli  military and governmental machine  against   largely defenceless Palestinians, becomes  disturbingly apparent.   And why?; because the pressure on editorial  boards from those who  support Israel, has  over the previous 66 years eliminated the alternative and honest  narrative.  One can only assume that the  anti-Putin  and anti-Russian hysteria whipped up  reporters like Shaun  Walker is  similarly driven  by external editorial  influences.

And who  might those influences be, one wonders?

And what  should the repercussions be for media  reporters and media agencies  who  incite war and violence?

 

 

 

 

 

Open letter to Mr. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: stand for law and Justice or resign! : Richard Falk and others..

Open letter to Mr. Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon: stand for law and Justice or resign!

(what  follows is the  transcript of an open letter to  The UN Secretary-General on the Genocide in Gaza-posted by  Richard Falk,  former UN Human Rights Representative for Palestine,  on his website at  http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/palestinian-open-letter-to-unsg-ban-ki-moon-on-gaza/ )

5 August 2014

For humanity and the little remained credibility of international law:

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, stand for law and Justice or resign!

Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon,

We, the under signed Palestinian human rights and community-based organizations are extremely disappointed by your performance, notably by your biased statements, your failure to act, and the inappropriate justification of Israel’s violations of IHL, which amount to war crimes. Until today, you have taken no explicit and tangible measures to address the recent Israeli attacks in the occupied Palestinian territory (oPt) since 13 June. Moreover, your statements have been either misleading, because they endorse and further Israeli false versions of facts, or contrary to the provisions established by international law and to the interests of its defenders, or because your words justify Israel’s violations and crimes.

You have undeniably assumed a biased position toward the current attack on Gaza and Israeli violations in the West Bank by failing to clearly condemn Israeli unlawful actions in the OPT, while, on the other hand, not hesitating to accuse – sometimes mistakenly – Palestinian combatant in Gaza of violations of international law. This bias can be noted in the following excerpts:

The Secretary-General strongly condemns the killing today of at least 10 Palestinian civilians in shelling outside of an UNRWA school in Rafah providing shelter to thousands of civilians. The attack is yet another gross violation of international humanitarian law, which clearly requires protection by both parties of Palestinian civilians, UN staff and UN premises, among other civilian facilities.

Such statement, by failing to name the perpetrator (Israel), is not only biased, but also offensive to UNRWA, itself a UN agency, as well as to other UN agencies and international organizations the struggle to provide relief and protection to Palestinians in Gaza. UNRWA, which has lost nine staff in Gaza since the beginning of Israel’s Operation Protective Edge, hosts around 270,000 internally displaced (25% of Gaza’s population) in its shelters. UNRWA’s preliminary analysis on a previous attack against one of its schools has indicated that it had been hit by Israeli artillery, constituting an indiscriminate attack and likely a war crime.

Moreover, by condemning the storage of weapons in UNRWA schools without offering a complete details and a proper account on international law, your statements endorse Israeli excuses to unlawfully, indiscriminately target such civilian objects.

In addition, by condemning

the reported violation by Hamas of the mutually agreed humanitarian ceasefire which commenced this morning. He is shocked and profoundly disappointed by these developments,

the Secretary-General reveals a reckless endorsement of Israeli version of facts, blaming Hamas for violating the cease-fire, even though admitting that “[t]he Secretary-General notes that the UN has no independent means to verify exactly what happened”, and, still, demanding “the immediate and unconditional release of the [falsely allegedly] captured soldier”.

The following statement further illustrates the Secretary-General’s ignorance of facts on the ground:

The Secretary-General has learned with concern that leaflets are reportedly being dropped by the Israeli Defence Forces in the northern Gaza Strip this evening, warning tens of thousands of residents to leave their homes and evacuate to Gaza City.

If true [our emphasis], this would have a further devastating humanitarian impact on the beleaguered civilians of those areas of the Gaza strip, who have already undergone immense suffering in recent days.

The drop of leaflets had been a known practice since the beginning of the Israeli operation in Gaza, contributing to a scenario of more than 480,000 internally displaced.

In the same statement,

The Secretary-General strongly urge[d] all sides to avoid any further escalation at this time[, noting] that all sides must meet all obligations under international humanitarian law, both towards civilians ahead of impending attacks, as well as maintaining proportionality in any kind of military response,

Revealing an undue equalization of the two sides of the conflict and failing to address the greater impact of violations committed by Israel, which has killed at least 1,814 the vast majority of whom are civilians, during its operation in Gaza.

Secretary-General,

When you make no distinction between oppressors and victims, in all your statements,

When you name Palestinian combatants as perpetrators of violations and war crimes while you ignore naming Israel, as you used to do in referring to specific actions,

When you avoid codifying Israeli actions amount to war crimes, while you insist on prescribing Palestinian reactions as grave breaches of IHL,

When you always advocate unlawfully the Israel right to self-defense, while having not pointed out the Palestinians legitimate and legal right to resist occupation, colonization and institutionalized discrimination,

When you adopt and advocate Israeli false stories, while not mentioning Palestinians’ narrative,

When you disregard facts on grounds clearly resulting from Israeli attacks, while you seek the immediate and unconditional release of a falsely captured soldier who was in the battle field,

You do not maintain peace and security; nor do you ensure human rights.

By reviewing yours statements, it becomes evident you have not been fulfilling your mandate. In contrary, your statements have not only allowed the continuance of Israel’s killing our people, but also, encouraged States to continue providing Israel with impunity. As you cannot say the truth,we advise you to either drastically change your positioning – not only in words, but also in your efforts to, through the UN, effectively end the current conflict – or to resign. For us, if you continue playing this role, you prove what our people feel, that you are a partner in, or at least an enabler of, the ongoing violations of international humanitarian law committed by Israel against our, families, children, women, elders – against our people.

—————-
Signatures
—————-

Individuals:
 • Richard Falk Former United Nations Special Rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories occupied since 1967
 • Luisa Morgantini Former Vice President of the European Parliament
 • Ahmad Muhaisen – President of The association for twining French cities and Palestinian refugee camps
 • Breyten Breytenbach Poet, writer, painter and activist
 • John Pilger is a journalist, film-maker and author

Palestinian and international human rights and civil society organizations:
 • BADIL Resource Center for Palestinian Residency and Refugee Rights – Bethlehem
 • Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Advocacy Initiative (OPGAI) – Biet Sahour
• The Alternative Information Centre (AIC) – Biet Sahour
• ADDAMEER Prisoner Support and Human Rights Association – Ramallah
• Palestinian Non-Governmental Network (Umbrella for 133 organizations)
• Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions
• General Union of Palestine Workers
• General Union for Health Services Workers
• General Union for Public Services Workers
• General Union for Petrochemical and Gas Workers
• General Union for Agricultural Workers
• Union of Women’s Work Committees
• Palestinian Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions National Committee (BNC). The Committee includes the following organizations: Council of National and Islamic Forces in Palestine, Palestinian NGO Network (PNGO), Palestinian National Institute for NGOs, Global Palestine Right of Return Coalition, Palestinian Trade Union Coalition for BDS (PTUC-BDS), Federation of Independent Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Workers, Palestinian General Federation of Trade Unions, General Union of Palestinian Women, Union of Palestinian Farmers, General Union of Palestinian Teachers, General Union of Palestinian Writers, Palestinian Federation of Unions of University Professors and Employees (PFUUPE), Union of Professional Associations, General Union of Palestinian Peasants, Union of Public Employees in Palestine-Civil Sector, Grassroots Palestinian Anti-Apartheid Wall Campaign (STW), National Committee for Grassroots Resistance, Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI), National Committee to Commemorate the Nakba, Civic Coalition for the Defense of Palestinian Rights in Jerusalem, Coalition for Jerusalem, Union of Palestinian Charitable Organizations, Palestinian Economic Monitor, Union of Youth Activity Centers-Palestine Refugee Camps, Occupied Palestine and Syrian Golan Heights Initiative.
• The Joint Advocacy Initiative of the East Jerusalem YMCA and the YWCA of Palestine (JAI) – Biet Sahour
• Baladna- association for Arab Youth – Haifa
• Hamleh – Arab center for media development – Haifa
• Al Zahra’ Society for Women Empowerment – Sakhnin
• Assiwar- The Feminist Arab Movement in Support of Victims of Sexual Assault – Haifa
• Association for the defense for the Rights of the Internally Displaced in Israel – Nazareth
• Alsebat association for heritage Preservation – Nazareth 
• The Alternative Tourism Group (ATG) – Beit Sahour
• Yabous Cultural Center – Jerusalem
• The Edward Said National Conservatory of Music – Jerusalem
• Palestinian Students’ Campaign for the Academic Boycott of Israel
• Gaza BDS Working Group
• University Teachers’ Association in Palestine
• Medical Democratic Assembly
• Pal-Cinema (Palestine Cinema Forum)
• Youth Herak Movement
• Union of Women’s Struggle Committees
• Union of Synergies—Women Unit
• Union of Palestinian Women Committees
• Women’s Studies Society
• Working Woman’s Society
• One Democratic State Group
• Youth Against Israeli Settlements – Hebron
• Health Work Committees – Biet Sahour
• Land Research Center (LCR) – Hebron
• Ramallah Center for Human Rights Studies – Ramallah
• Popular Struggling Coordination Committee (PSCC) – Ramallah
• Lajee Center, Aida Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The EJ-YMCA Rehabilitation Program and the Beit Sahour YMCA – Beit Sahour
• Ibrahim Al Khalil Society – Hebron
• The Palestinian Prisoners Society – Bethlehem
• The Palestinian Center of Youth Action for Community Development (LAYLAC) – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Palestinian Grassroots Anti-apartheid Wall Campaign (Stop the Wall) – Ramallah
• Palestinian Center for Rapprochement Between People – Biet Sahour
• Amaan Center for social health, Counseling and Development – Hebron
• Popular Committee for Refugees, Qalqeliah
• Popular Committee for Refugees, Salfit
• Social Youth Center, Aqbat Jaber Refugee Camp – Jericho
• Social Youth Center, Aida Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Social Youth Center, Al Arroub Refugee Camp – Hebron
• Al Arroub Popular committee – Al Arroub Refugee Camp – Hebron
• Progressive Youth Union – Al Arroub Refugee Center – Hebron
• The Phoenix Center – Al Arroub Refugee Camp – Hebron
• Al Fawwar Social Center – Al Fawwar Refugee camp – Hebron
• Social Youth Center, Far’a Refugee Camp – Nablus
• Shu’fat Child Center – Shu’fat Refugees Camp – Jerusalem
• Shoruq Association, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Al Awda Center for Youth and children Rehabilitation – Tulkarem
• Ansar Center, Al Walajeh – Bethlehem
• Center for Defense of Liberties and Civil Rights “Hurryyat”
• The Palestinian Agricultural Relief Committee – Bethlehem
• Bethlehem Farmers Society – Bethlehem
• Ibda’a for the Development of Children Capacity, Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The popular committee – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The women Centre – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• The popular committee – Al Azza Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Al Phoenix Center – Dhiesheh Refugee Camp – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Women Center – Al Walaja – – Bethlehem
• Not to Forget – Jenin Refugees Camp – Jenin
• Environmental Education Center – Beit Jala
• The National Charitable Society – Al Khader
• The Right of Return Committees in Bethlehem – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Popular Committee – – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Sports Club – Al Walaja – – Bethlehem
• Al Walaja Agriculture society – Al Walaja – – Bethlehem
• The Palestinian anti-Wall and Settlements committees – Ramallah
• MA’AN Development Center – Ramallah
• The Association of Palestinian prisoners and x-prisoners – Bethlehem
• Susya Popular Committee – Hebron
• Dair Abu Misha’al Popular committee – Ramallah
• Al Tawasul Forum Society – Gaza Strip
• The International Solidarity Movement.
• The Refugees Rights Center –‘Aidoon – Lebanon
• Association Najdeh – Lebanon
• Ajyal Association – Lebanon
• The Refugees Rights Center –‘Aidoon – Syria
• Union of Arab Jurists – Jordan
• The National Institution of Social Care & Vocational Training – Jordan
• Australians for Palestine – Australia
• Women for Palestine – Australia
• Collective urgence Palestine – Switzerland
• Palestina Rossa – Italy
• Fronte Palestina – Italy
• The Association of Humanitarian Lawyers
• International Educational Development, Inc
• International Lawyers – Switzerland
• Tamkeen-Arab group – Switzerland
• The BDS campaign in France – France
• The association for twining French cities and Palestinian refugees camp – France
• The International Organization for the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination (EAFORD)
• International society for Human Rights
• Czech Friends of Palestine
• Initiative for a just peace in the Middle East – Czech Republic
• Nord-Sud XXI
• International Association Against Torture
• The Palestine Solidarity Allegiance South Africa
• Palestine Legal Action Network
• Russell Tribunal on Palestine
• Campaign BDS France,
• 14 Friends of Palestine (Marin, CA)
• Canada Palestine Association
• Voice of Palestine
• People for Peace, London, CA
• United States Palestinian Community Network
• Labor for Palestine NY
• Samidoun Palestinian Prisoner Solidarity Network
• US Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel
• Palestine Human Rights Campaign Auckland
• Al-Awda NY
• Jews for Palestinian Right of Return
• Jews Against genocide
• Palestine Solidarity Alliance, South Africa
• Assopace
• Boycott! Boycott From Within
• Boycott Israeli Apartheid Campaign – Vancouver
• BDS Switzerland

 

Link

http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/08/07/palestinian-open-letter-to-unsg-ban-ki-moon-on-gaza/

The Coming (Ukrainian) Winter of Discontent

As the long hot  Ukrainian summer turns to autumn and winter, the euphoria by  Western Ukrainians of having thrown  off any servitude to  Russia will begin to recede…

The new Kiev government  signed  the IMF agreement so it could access a $17.1 billion bail-out package spread over 2 years. That money will be used to repay  international bank  debt, and will not reach  the Ukrainian population. And, as with all  IMF agreements  there are conditions… These include:

  • Achieving a self-sustained energy sector- ie cutting the subsidy  to  Ukrainian consumers and thus increasing prices significantly
  • Balancing budgets as soon as possible ( Kiev has to determine how to  do  that-likely by  increasing taxes and decreasing expenditure (note that  the  Verkhovna Rada (Ukrainian parliament)  has already   approved a temporary 1.5% increase in  taxes to  cover the costs of the war in the East).
  • Reduce corruption,  and “improve the business climate”, to  achieve high and sustainable growth. (note that  “improving the business climate” generally means  reducing subsidies to  consumers, tax incentives to businesses, opening up  Ukrainian businesses to foreign  ownership  etc etc..
  • Pension reform (ie pension cuts and raising  the age of entitlement) have been on  the agenda for a number of years now with  previous IMF agreements, but no  previous Kiev government has been   ‘brave’ enough to   battle the ferocious  activism by   unions and pensioners against  the  draft pension reductions.

This current government led by prime minister and  neocon  Arseniy Yatsenyuk has actively pushed  for a 50%  reduction in  pension from  $160  to  $80 per month for all  pension types along with  a 50% hike in  gas prices .

In just one example of the concessions to  banking solvency Ukrainian  citizens are having to make as of July 1st 2014,  the average cost of heating a standard fifty-square-meter apartment  has risen from about 200 hryvnia to 280 hryvnia (from $18 to $25) per month. It’s a significant hit, considering that the average monthly wage in Ukraine is only about 3,150 hryvnia ($275), more than half of which typically goes toward food, Sergei Kiselyov, an economist from the school of political analysis at the Kiev-Mogilyanskaya Academy, said.

While Yatsenyuk’s policies will  undoubtedly  reduce the influence of  the old Ukrainian oligarchs, the new “transparent ” systems will enable  US and European  companies  the opportunity to  purchase   failing Ukrainian businesses at  rock-bottom prices and in  a new “business-friendly” environment  where  worker exploitation can become the norm.

Yatsenuk (both as a Jew and because of his pro-U.S./pro EU and internationalist  business  policies)  is  anathema to  the Right Sektor and Svoboda parties. Both  right wing groups  are patiently waiting their moment. The  journey to  the Reichstag of their long dead German hero reminds them that patience  and a sense of impeccable timing  are crucial to their ultimately taking the reigns of power in Kiev and smashing any remaining Russian influence in Ukraine.

Ukrainians, Eastern  and Western, are well-educated  but particularly in  the West, have a high rate of poverty, and a long history  of well-deserved grievances against  Soviet Russia. President Putin  as an  ex Soviet KGB man, becomes an  easy  target  for that  anger.  As I noted in  the previous blog on MH17, Vera Graziade, a young British/Russian/Ukrainian says it all :  When you have one big bad figure, and everything is Putin’s fault, the world is simple and you don’t need to think anymore.

While the war in the East provides a very useful  patriotic focus for Western Ukrainians as they fight the evil “Russian terrorists”; that   jingoistic fervour will be hard to maintain unless  the “terrorists” are able  and willing to hit back  at Kiev on  Western Ukraine soil. It will become more and more evident to  Western Ukrainians that they have been conned by  all  the talk of ‘terrorism’ and Russian infiltrators.

While there are increasing numbers of   media reports of desertions from  the Ukraine Army ,and resistance to  further mobilisations, the extent and impact  of these is hard to judge at  this point.

The  callousness of the nazi-like references to  Russian speaking Ukrainians as sub-human and genetically inferior beings  (even President Poroshenko, who  formerly  enjoyed  very  good business relations with the Russians over the border,   has sunk  to   racial  inferiority references about   the people in the East) casts a long shadow over  any potential  for reconciliation between  East  and West  Ukraine.  The neo nazi  influences of the Svoboda Party and Right Sektor seem to have permeated  throughout the ruling cliques in Kiev.  In their view, the Colorado  Beetles (referencing the  black   and orange emblem of  St George so  revered by Russian speaking  Eastern Ukrainians),  must be stamped out underfoot by  the ‘pure race’ of Western Ukrainians .

The irony is that of course, most Ukrainians are of Slavic origin like most Russians, and  share more commonalities of culture than  they do  differences.  However their differences and grievances have been exploited by  outside influences; first  by  the Nazis, and later via  significant  Western intelligence operations in the West  during and after the cold war in order to  undermine Russian influence,  and latterly by  the  purely amoral  connivance of  neocon stormtroopers  like Victoria Nuland (US-Assistant Secretary of State) .

In the past decade we have also  seen the advent of the European Union seemingly help-bent on incorporating  any Russian “satellite” into the Union regardless of the cost to  central  EU states. Whether Ukraine will  be able to access the huge investment and underwriting from  the EU that  Poland has seen, remains to be seen; but in the current economic climate in the EU, that appears unlikely.

Certainly  EU investment and incorporation of European values and  a corruption-free state , is what many in Maidan Square demonstrated for: -along with the opportunity to migrate to  EU states for higher  wages!

It now appears increasingly unlikely in  the short to medium  term that  Ukraine could become an EU member,  particularly with  the anti- democratic  tendencies  entrenched in  Kiev via the Right Sektor and Svoboda Party, as demonstrated by  the   elimination of the Ukrainian Communist  Party.  Those anti-democratic tendencies will become more and more embedded and the  paramilitary influence of the Right Sektor more powerful,  the longer the war in the East continues.

In addition  the war is undoubtedly bleeding Ukraine dry economically. (hence the “temporary”  1.5% war  tax recently imposed by Kiev)

Eastern Ukrainian industrial  infrastructure , (although much of it  outdated Soviet style industry) has provided much income to  the state via predominantly  steel  exports to Russia . Business Insider notes that  exports to Russia accounted for nearly a quarter of Ukrainian external trade and contributed around 8 per cent of GDP before the war. Thirteen per cent of Ukraine’s iron and steel exports used to go to the neighbouring country. That income  resource  is now closed until  such  time as Kiev decides to  negotiate, rather than  impose its will  on Eastern Ukrainians.  While defeat  for the separatists is almost inevitable (given the balance of military  weight)  without real Russian support, victory  for Kiev needs to  come soon.  Kiev may have been banking that the destruction of the industrial   and commercial  infrastructure  in the East could  provide an opportunity for European/U.S.   re-investment, but this is unlikely in  the present international  economic climate.

While the separatists certainly are not  supported by  everyone in Eastern Ukraine  and there will be many in  the East  who  will  welcome victory  by Kiev, the level of anger and resentment towards Kiev for the death  and destruction, and the genuine  fear of  the phobic anti-Russian neo-nazis installed in  positions of state influence in Kiev, will   create a burning resentment  that will  likely erupt again  and again in violence , unless there are more intelligent politicians in power than those who hold sway in Kiev today.

The vicious anti-Russian  propaganda  of the Right Sektor and others in  Western Ukraine against   Russian-speaking Ukrainians is likely to have poisoned  potential  detente between the two   populations for a long time to  come.

As this bombastic jingoisim  begins to lose its appeal  to the majority of Western  Ukrainians,   the resentments and fears of  the previous decades of corruption,  violence and poverty  will  begin to re-surface, as  gas price hikes and pension cuts begin  to bite and  winter approaches. Undoubtedly this is the opportunity that the  Svoboda Party and the Right Sektor will have been waiting for…

Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko  knows this all  too  well- they  will be desperate to  “finish  the job” in Eastern Ukraine in the next  month; although paradoxically it would also be useful politically for those currently in  power in Kiev  to   not include Eastern Ukrainian voters in  the next  Rada parliamentary  elections scheduled for late September/October, as they  would skew the vote towards more  federalist  and less  neocon   perspectives .

One other issue to consider is the urgency of Kiev being able to fast-track   shale extraction in  the Dnieper-Donets basin  in Eastern Ukraine.  Curiously (!)   the first  assault by  the Kiev military  was at  Slayvansk,  the likely centre for shale oil  extraction in  the basin. War creates many possibilities for those who  are victorious….including of course  U. S.  Vice -President Jo Biden’s son , R Hunter Biden.

or see economist Michael Hudson’s take on this…

Maidan re-visited….

 

Links

https://twitter.com/tristanmasat

http://www.reuters.com/article/2014/07/28/ukraine-crisis-economy-east-idUSL6N0Q021220140728

http://www.indymedia.org.uk/en/2014/06/516850.html

http://www.bruegel.org/publications/publication-detail/publication/843-ukraine-can-meaningful-reform-come-out-of-conflict/

America Started This Ukraine Crisis
http://www.williampfaff.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=690

MH17 – A preliminary analysis (before the facts arrive)

Notwithstanding the jingoistic hysteria in  the mainstream Western press…. Putin's Missile-The Sun (and also see The Guardian’s “Vladimir Putin given One last Chance”  about who they “know” ( before the facts are in) was responsible for the destruction of Malaysian Airlines flight MH17  over Eastern Ukraine on March  8th 2014. It is important to  remember that  both  sides in  this conflict, ( the Kiev Poroshenko government, as well  as the Right Sektor (neo-nazis)  in Kiev and their Western  supporters on  one side, and the pro-separatists in  Eastern Ukraine  and their Russian   supporters on  the other)  have a lot to  gain   from  pinning the blame on the opposing forces. The first  casualty of war is truth,  as they say.  As Goebbel’s “Principles of Propaganda theory”  acknowledges, implanting information early in  people’s minds on a new situation  often results in  that  information “sticking”- regardless of its veracity. And as  Vera Graziade so  eruditely says:  When you have one big bad figure, and everything is Putin’s fault, the world is simple and you don’t need to think anymore.

Its important also  to  recognise that plane crash  investigations take time. eg the Lockerbie investigators  took  three years to  come to  their somewhat  controversial  decision as to   how the  crash  occurred and who  was responsible. What  we do  know:

      1. On entering Ukrainian  air space, MH17 was requested to lower altitude from  35,000  to 33,000  feet  because of thunderstorms.
      2. Pilots were later requested by  Ukrainian flight authorizes to fly further north -towards the Russian border and deeper into  Eastern Ukraine  ‘because of other traffic”
      3. Malaysian Airlines continued to fly over this conflict  zone where several other international  carriers  has already charted alternative routes to avoid the conflict  airspace. However there were a number of other  international passenger flights flying over the area during that  day.
      4. Single operator (MANPAD) surface to air missiles are not capable of reaching 33,000 feet  – the Russian BUK surface to air system produced and operated by  Russian and Ukrainian  armies (earlier version), are capable of reaching 33,000 feet   but require extensive  radar truck  backup  for tracking.
      5.  Separatists rebels in  Eastern Ukraine were not known to have acquired a BUK system, however possibly  could have  done so  and mistaken MH17 for a Ukraine government  transport  plane. (although unlikely as the plane’s altitude would  logically have been   considered too  high  for such  an operation within Ukrainian  airspace). If the rebels had acquired a BUK system,  where is it now?-not any easy  thing to  hide and it would have been observed by  sattelite re-crossing the border into  Russia.
      6. Several  BUK systems had been deployed to the Eastern Ukraine in the last  3 to  4 days by the Kiev government  (presumably to  shoot down Russian  military aircraft)
      7. Kiev government states that  pro-separatists initially claim  shooting down  a Ukrainian  transport plane in  the area at  the time   and then  remove that  claim.  Other bloggers claim  that experts have determined that the tweets were made the day  before the plane was shot down.
      8. The coincidence of two   passenger aircraft being destroyed  in  the air, by unknown causes, with all  passengers and crew killed,  from  the same airline within  five months of each other,  is problematic
      9. It is unlikely that pro-Russian separatist would and could operate such a system without Russian technical support,  as it requires a sophisticated accompanying radar system. -the alternative is, as the U.S. speculates, is that the Russians were providing supporting expertise to the rebels.  Note that  defensetech.org states that:A standard Buk battalion consists of a command vehicle, target acquisition radar (TAR) vehicle, six transporter erector launcher and radar (TELAR) vehicles and three transporter erector launcher (TEL) vehicles. A Buk missile battery consists of two TELAR and one TEL vehicle. So  is this not some  simple, easy  to  manoeuvre and disguise  missile system!!

Buk  Missile System

    1. However it would then   be extremely unlikely that the Russians would support shooting down a high flying plane which, because of its altitude , trajectory and speed was clearly a passenger plane: -there appears to be  no strategic advantage  to the Russians to shoot down the plane, and very unlikely that its trained operators would have identified the plane as a fighter/bomber or transport plane. Additionally if there were Russian operatives there, they would have been informed of all planes coming through Eastern Ukraine from Russian airspace
    2. While the U.S.  and its Western  allies have repeatedly claimed that  Russia is providing troops and  equipment to  the pro-separatist,  they  have not been  able to  produce any evidence that  will  actually confirm  this- which  is surprising  given  the  undoubtedly huge amount of Western satellite surveillance occurring on the Russian/Ukrainian  borders.
    3. The Ukrainians  10 years previously  shot down a Russian plane in error during a military exercise
    4. An  unlikely, but still  possible scenario  of right-wing Kiev  agents (within  the department of Internal  Affairs in  the  Kiev government ) mistaking  flight MH17 for President Putin’s flight home from  the BRICS summit in  Brazil 
    5. Even  less plausible,  but still  possible, are reports from  the ground at  the time of two  fighter aircraft  trailing and then  shooting down  MH17
    6. The U.S.  government has actively  and immediately used the MH17 shoot-down  as a rationale to  further pressure EU members to increase their sanctions against   Russia before any evidence has been analysed and responsibilities for the shoot-down  factually established.
    7. The image here of the hole near the cockpit  might seem to indicate a smaller missile than the BUK- so if that was the case, likely an air to air missile or ,as has been  suggested by  the Russians  with  additional  30mm  anti-tank  bullets fired from  a Ukrainian SU25 fighter aircraft  ( The Russian  RT new network reports that  Russia had tracked two  SU25s trailing the airliner) hole in cockpit fuselage

Western media and the US government appear far too quick to attribute blame to the Russians and accuse the rebels of hiding evidence: a claim totally unsupported by OSCE observers –before any evidence is available either way. There are multiple other possible causes of the crash, including a bomb on board (Malaysian  Airlines disgruntled ex-employee?),  equipment malfunction,  Western intelligence operatives hostile to Malaysia’s  independent stance on  Western war  crimes, Kiev Government false-flag operation, Right Sektor neo-nazi activists acting independently  from Kiev’s Preseident Poroshenko?-the list goes on  and on Whether a dreadful  accident or vicious attack, why  then is the Western media  and UK and US governments so  quick  to  attribute the blame  to  the “demonic”  Vladimir Putin -an unlikely culprit at  best. I wonder…..

Postscript

If the  map  below is correct, the location of the 50 km wide crash  site provides an ideal  buffer zone between the two  separatist   Eastern Ukraine  areas;  especially if they  are policed by  armed Western  police/army units   as has been  proposed…  qui  bono?

Eastern Ukraine Crash-site
Eastern Ukraine Crash-site

It would appear that  the Kiev government military are doing their best  (as of30th  July) to ensure that  OSCE observers and crash  analysts do  not get  immediate access to  the crash-site by increasing shelling and military  assaults in  the area

An interesting take on  the shoot-down  from  Anderwelt Online (Google translation from German) ,  whose analysis of the plane’s fragments  posted online to date,  suggest   a shoot-down  by  30mm  bullets and possibly air-to  air missile.  See this also  noted at  Investment Watchblog

A screenshot  (below) from  a video of the crash-site by  a Canadian/Ukrainian OSCE observer

MH17See the video  here at  CBC Malaysia Airlines MH17: Michael Bociurkiw talks about being first at the crash site. This clearly is  machine gun  fire .Possibly by  those who came on  the scene first but unlikely-very high calbre bullets (30mm?)

Ex-“senior US Intelligence officials” are querying the U.S.  State Department’s rush to judgement on MH17


Links
FINAL – Part II: Evidence Continues to Emerge #MH17 Is a False Flag Operation http://slavyangrad.wordpress.com/2014/07/18/breaking-part-ii-evidence-continues-to-emerge-mh17-is-a-false-flag-operation/

It was Putin’s Missile!
http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Central_Asia/CEN-01-190714.html

Flight MH17 Down Over Ukraine http://landdestroyer.blogspot.co.nz/2014/07/flight-mh17-down-over-ukraine.html

What Happened to the Malaysian Airliner?
http://www.activistpost.com/2014/07/what-happened-to-malaysian-airliner.html#!biP639

Kerry’s Latest  Reckless Rush  to Judgement-Common Dreams
https://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/07/21-5

What  Did U.S.  Satellites see in Ukraine?
http://consortiumnews.com/2014/07/20/what-did-us-spy-satellites-see-in-ukraine/

Special Briefing by the Ministry of Defence of the Russian Federation on the crash of the Malaysian Boeing 777 in the Ukrainian air space, July 21, 2014

http://www.mid.ru/bdomp//brp_4.nsf/english/ECD62987D4816CA344257D1D00251C76
Malaysian Airlines MH370 and MH17.

A Criminologist Questions: What are the Probabilities? Is it a Mere Coincidence?
http://www.globalresearch.ca/malaysian-airlines-mh370-and-mh17-a-criminologist-questions-what-are-the-probabilities-is-it-a-mere-coincidence/5392265

Ukraine: No “Western” Interest In Investigating MH17
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/07/ukraine-no-interest-in-investigating-mh17.html

Media Bias Frames Western Reporting On Ukraine
http://cips.uottawa.ca/media-bias-frames-western-reporting-on-ukraine/

Operation “Protective Edge”- The Never-Ending Nakba in Palestine

(note that this post  is  a short updated summary  of the issues previously outlined in other posts  on  this site)

Many articles in  mainstream media  regarding the current  violence in Gaza portray  the  conflict  as a Hamas terrorist vendetta against  Israel and Jews.
The reality is somewhat different.
Al jazeera notes as of 17th  July,  that  “of the 214 Palestinians killed so far in Operation Protective Edge, at least 67 were women and children and 11 were elderly, according to Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesman for the Gaza Health Ministry. Over 1,500 have been injured, and Gaza hospitals have reported severe medical-supply shortages. (In contrast)the first Israeli death was reported Tuesday, after shrapnel from a rocket hit a civilian handing out food to soldiers near the Gaza border. The disproportionate  death  and casualty rate between the two  sides in  this conflict  clearly illustrates the overwhelming destructive power of the Israeli  military  machine against  this tiny  isolated ghettoised non-state. Israel, as the occupying force, has a UN mandated obligated to protect  those people’s whose lands   it  has  occupied.
As the history  books show, Israel  has pursued a  violent and illegal  process of the elimination of the ‘Palestinian problem’  since its brutal   occupation of Palestinian lands  in 1948, when  hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were  driven from  their houses and lands by  the Israeli  Army, in what Palestinians  call the ‘Nakba’ -the Catastrophe. That  process of occupation and removal  of people who  have lived in the area for thousands of years, is ongoing.  Operation ‘Protective Edge” is just  one more step  along the way  to  finally eliminating  those troublesome Arabs who  persist in trying to  subsist  in  the homeland of their forefathers.

Shrinking Palestine

Along with  that  occupation goes an ongoing  military ever-tightening noose around Gaza and the West  Bank,  which  has seen Gaza literally strangled by  Israeli occupation  forces into  a primitive society where sewage, water and health  systems are largely nonexistent.  Palestinian  children continue on a daily basis to  be arrested, tortured and thrown  in Israeli  jails for crimes such  as  stone throwing or protesting the occupation. Since the beginning of  2000, 1407 Palestinian  children alone  have been killed by  Israeli  forces.
And this ignores the many  thousands of adults tortured jailed and murdered in Israeli prisons for daring to  resist  the occupation.  And let us  not forget  all  the Palestinian  homes and orchards bulldozed by  armoured bulldozers to make way  for Israeli  “settlers”,  on  a daily basis.
Israel  is one of the largest and most well resourced militaries in  the world (fourth largest);  courtesy  of the United States, who  since 1948  has blindly  promoted and applauded each  atrocity committed by  the Israelis in  the face of overwhelming international  condemnation.
Certainly   no  violence can be supported from  either party in  this horrendous and savage  conflict,  but readers of this post  should not need to wonder why  Hamas is angry and violent in  response to  this  brutal  and seemingly never-ending tragedy.
The only way  forward  is a  one-state solution,  where fair  compensation for lives  and lands lost  is given to  those hundreds of thousands of Palestinians forcibly expelled from  their homeland;  and all the resident populations-whether Jew, Christian or Muslim, learn to create a peaceful  and sustainable future in a new and just  Palestine.
And lastly, lets look  at  who  supports this ongoing terror by the Israeli  war machine ( note an abstention means tacit support for the status quo  of more war).
Postscript:
Note the chilling banner  at  the end of Craig Murray’s blog here on the Gaza genocide
Israeli banner
The banner reads: “There are no innocents in Gaza“

Links

 

Netanyahu’s War-What  it is Good For
http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/24893-netanyahus-war-what-it-is-good-for

Human Rights Watch, taking Israel’s side (again)
http://justworldnews.org/?p=3946

 The War on Gaza and the Cycle of Impunity
http://www.thenation.com/article/180683/war-gaza-and-cycle-impunity?utm_source=Sailthru&utm_medium=email&utm_term=email_nation&utm_campaign=Email%20Nation%20%28NEW%29%20-%20Headline%20Nation%20Feed%200717%2F2014&newsletter=email_nation#

Gaza News – “At least they wont breed”
http://www.moonofalabama.org/2014/07/july-16-gaza-news.html

Understanding the Gaza Tragedy
http://www.williampfaff.com/modules/news/article.php?storyid=687

http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/07/28/joint-declaration-by-international-law-experts-on-israels-gaza-offensive/

The Caliphate for the 21st Century

The video (below) of “Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi” (another one of the fictional “nom-de-guerre”  names so beloved of Islamic jihad fighters),  shows a  hesitant  youngish  man  delivering in  Koranic verse style the announcement that  he (in all  modesty  appropriate  to a disciple of Mohammed)  is the new caliph of Iraq, Syria and Levant  that  all  must bow down  to.

As the Angry Arab says;  When you bill yourself as a caliph you inevitably raise expectations. And as the Arabic saying goes: ‘the mountain went into labor and gave birth to a mouse’. What a lousy performance. 

While these young psychopaths  have a certain predilection  for violent murder and ignorance, they are definitely not idolised by the vast  majority of Sunni  Muslems around the world.  The sectarian violence, mysoginism   and vengeance they  espouse,  fomented largely through  Wahhabi  funds from  Saudi Arabia and Qatar and with  “special  assistance” from  U.K. and U.S. “intelligence” over the years,  fools few on the Arab street. These young violent men  are simply tools of those who  wish for nothing better than all-out  mayhem, death  and environmental destruction in  middle eastern states that do  not sufficiently support a Western view of who  should control  the world’s resources.

Desperately seeking fame on Youtube, as they behead another  infidel of whatever religious persuasion, they  are like little children given dangerous toys to play  with by  the grownups.

Their “secret” cavalcade of many miles of brand new Toyota’s through  the deserts of Iraq from Syria to  capture key  Iraqi northern towns, was somehow never spotted by  Western spy  satellites. Make no mistake, these are the “moderates”  that  Western governments have been funding to overthrow  Assad’s Syria , and now Maliki’s Iraq, for the past five years. This is a deliberate plan by  Western governments to de-stabilise and overthrow any middle eastern government that  1) doesn’t support the ongoing Israeli  destruction of Palestine and Palestinians, and 2) doesn’t  support the right of the U.S.  to  basically do  anything it wishes to.

It would be amusing if it were not so  sad that these nasty  little psychopaths  in offices in London,  Paris  and Washington who  get others to do  their killing  and torture for them, believe that  this is the way  to a  brave new future;  a “New American  Century“.  Take the former  British  Chief of Defence Lord Richards’ brilliant proposal  to train  and equip  100,000  jihadists   to  take Damascus from  Syrian Government forces, with substantial  Western  air support- (read  collateral  air damage) on the pretext  that this would reduce civilian casualties in  in Syria! . Fittingly,  the great Lord Richards  was also once Nato commander in the  brutal  fiasco  that is  the fourth  Anglo  Afghan War and is now  a senior advisor  to  the  right wing  British  International Institute of Strategic Studies,  and which  strangely enough, supported the US invasion of Iraq and is now  very  anti the current Shi-ite based Maliki government in Iraq.

And of course let’s not forget  the $500 million dollars worth of armaments and training from President Obama and Congress that will  go only  to  the ‘moderate’ extremists in Syria fighting the Syrian  government forces.

Or perhaps note the leaked ( unverified but eminently plausible )  Rand Corporation document advising the Western Ukrainians how to destroy Eastern Ukraine- these guys in  their cosy  little offices in  the city are oh-so-ruthless in  getting others to   murder and torture and destroy on  their behalf ( but only of course where it benefits their bank  accounts).

Links

SYRIAN INTELLIGENCE CHIEF ATTENDS CT DIALOGUE WITH S/CT BENJAMIN
https://wikileaks.org/plusd/cables/10DAMASCUS159_a.html#efmBraBr6BsHB6RB6UCDN

Is Our Number Already Up?

George Monbiot wrote  a recent  commentary  for the Guardian entitled “Its Simple. If We Cant Change our Economic System, our Number’s Up”.

In that  article Monbiot once again  traces human civilization’s inability to  look  at the reality of our circumstances;  our headlong  race to  “having our number called” because of the  inherent insanity of the  concept of “growth”  and “progress”  in  a  finite world system. It seems  extraordinary  for a  so-called “intelligent species” that  we globally refuse to  acknowledge the inevitable trajectory  of the “growth” strategy  almost every  human  being on the planet has subscribed to.

And not only are we fouling our own  back  doorstep  with  poisons,  the detritus  from our  consumption of  “things” and  the laying waste of the natural  world upon  which  we depend,  we are also  fouling the  world’s upper atmosphere with our “space junk”! We seem determined as humans to  destroy ourselves and all  the living beings we share this planet  with. In less than  a blink of an  evolutionary  eye, homo sapiens have largely destroyed the living fabric of this world.

The logic of this insanity should be absolutely  clear to  every  single human  being on  this planet, and yet  the argument that  ‘growth  and progress’ are anathema to our medium  to long term  survival,  is seen as heresy.   Look  around: the world we share with millions of other species on this planet, is rapidly turning into  a totally homo sapien centric world; where every  living and dead thing exists simply for our use and gratification.  We are rapidly closing down  this planet  as a living entity: – sealing over the soil  with   roads and buildings,  poisoning  the land with   chemicals,  burning pieces of it to spread into  the atmosphere at  colossal  rates, modifying the landscape to  meet  human  needs without regard to  the other species inhabiting  it, digging holes in  the ground so  we can  spread more detritus  over the surface of the planet, killing off innumerable  species to  feed our insatiable appetite-  the list  goes on  and on  and on….

What  are we growing into?-where are we “progressing” to? are we happier?, more contented?, more in tune with the world?,  kinder to our offspring and  other beings?. No;  we are more discontented, more avaricious, more grasping of things we do not have but which  mean  nothing,  and more determined to  destroy both other humans and the environment,  to   satisfy  our short-term greed.

How can  the supposedly so  well-connected  collectivity of humans on this planet have acquiesced to such  an insane model of living? Are humans so  blind that  they  can only see what is immediately before them and the immediate well-being and gratification  of their own species?    Humankind’s current 50 year strategy leads over a cliff.

What  does it take for there to be change?-and will  it be too  late?

We live in a  perpetual cycle of mutual self-justification of our crazy system which  creates a seemingly sane “bubble” of human world activity within  an insane and  dead-end construct. The self-perpetuating myths of  progress measured by  Gross Domestic Product (GDP)  are the  very  measures of change in  countries’ economic activity that  are driving  the world’s living things to  extinction.

Stead and Stead (p1) Joseph Campbell (1988) points out that these myths reflect the underlying  paradigms that guide the thoughts and actions of the people of a particular culture. Espousing society’s myths is a primary function of all of its institutions, be they political, religious, educational or economic. Campbell (1988) says that you can tell the dominant myth of a given society by examining the heights of its buildings. The multi-storey seats of economic activity that define the skylines of our cities today demonstrate that humankind’s most dominant current myth is economic wealth.”

In the  “Common Knowledge”  framework,  a paradigm shift of societal  knowledge can  occur with  the input of just  one new point of reference.
Our lives as social  beings are based on  shared certainties  of how the world works. Because those illusions are no  more real  than  any other “certainty”,  they  can  easily come crashing down, and a new set of “certainties ” or “truths” constructed. Game theory has also often been  used in  the area of economic assumption and speculation.

Every society clings to a myth by which it lives. Ours is the myth of economic growth. For the last five decades the pursuit of growth has been the single most important policy goal across the world. The global economy is almost five times the size it was half a century ago. If it continues to grow at the same rate, the economy will be 80 times that size by the year 2100.  This extraordinary ramping up of global economic activity has no historical precedent. It’s totally at odds with our scientific knowledge of the finite resource base and the fragile ecology we depend on for survival. And it has already been accompanied by the degradation of an estimated 60% of the world’s ecosystems.(from ‘Thinking the Unthinkable’, Tim Jackson)

And yet – despite the hype from corporates and governments, it will be relatively easy for most of us  to  change to  become part of a steady  state  economy. Within  a few decades we will have forgotten  the importance of having the latest  gadget, the  next holiday to  God-knows-where, or the latest fad or food. We will take our essential equipment for repair, instead of “recycling” to the landfill pit, we will accept as normal that everything we own does not have to be new and shiny, and rely more on local food resources and communities. Yes, the investment banks, multi-national corporations  and billionaires will disappear, but we will all then have the time to re-assess what it means to be human and happy and connected to our living world.


Links

Insecticides put World Food Supply at  Risk
http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/jun/24/insecticides-world-food-supplies-risk

http://www.steadandstead.com/articles/humankind_change.pdf
Can Humankind Change the Economic Myth?

Joseph  Campbell  and “The Power of Myth”
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Power_of_Myth

http://www.alternet.org/world/how-wealthy-elites-are-hijacking-democracy-all-over-world?akid=11866.1706.3h-bHN&rd=1&src=newsletter998135&t=21

http://www.mauldineconomics.com/outsidethebox/when-does-the-story-break

http://www.marketwatch.com/story/myth-of-perpetual-growth-is-killing-america-2012-06-12

http://hubpages.com/hub/The-Myth-of-Economic-Growth

http://citizenactionmonitor.wordpress.com/2010/06/19/is-humanity-inherently-unsustainable-pt-9-myth-of-perpetual-economic-growth-in-a-finite-world/

https://www.adbusters.org/magazine/84/thinking-unthinkable.html

http://blog.p2pfoundation.net/the-myth-of-immaterial-growth-and-infinite-happiness/2013/10/15

http://www.theguardian.com/books/2010/jan/23/properity-without-growth-tim-jackson

The Steady State Economy
http://steadystate.org/act/sign-the-position/ 

The Opportunities of the People’s Republic of Donetsk

The People’s Republic of Donestk was formed in  7th  April  2014;  breaking away from  the  state of Ukraine after a very informal  referendum of its local population. The referendum  was largely caused by  the decisions of the  Kiev interim Government, after it deposed the former elected ( but like almost every other President of Ukraine since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 – extremely corrupt) president of Ukraine,  Viktor Yanukovych. Yanukovych  fled from  power as a result of the  Maidan protests and threats to his life,  led by  right wing extremists.

The interim  Ukrainian government’s decision to  effectively marginalise Russian speaking Ukrainians through  banning the Russian language and subsequently calling   anti-Maidan groups in  the East, “terrorists”,  led to  the formation of  pro-Russian paramilitary groups in  the East, in  the oblasts of Donestk  and  Luhansk. Their stated aim  was to preserve their Ukrainian/Russian identity against  the threats by neo-nazi  extremists  to  “purify” Ukraine, in  the new interim Kiev government;  largely from  within the Slovoda Party and Right Sektor paramilitary groups based in  the West  of Ukraine.

It is currently unclear what level of support the “self-proclaimed” (are not all  state entities initially “self-proclaimed”?) Donestk People’s Republic has with  the local  population, with some very problematic opinion polls run out of Kiev and  funded from  the U.S. which  state pro-Russian support at less than 40%. Facts on  the ground would seem to  suggest otherwise, especially since the  killing  of 39  people in the Trades Hall  centre in Odessa on May 2  2014, apparently  by   right wing football  hooligans from  the West.

It is also  problematic whether those currently running the administration of  the Donestk  PR have the best of the local  population at  heart, or are simply opportunists , ex-soldiers and thugs. In  addition there is always the tendency  with any revolution, especially when under pressure from the outside, to  respond in  more and more draconian and violent  ways towards its own population.  Are the  Donetsk  PR officials any less  rascist,  anti-Jew  and voracious than those in  Kiev?-time will  tell.

Notwithstanding those concerns,   the creation of this ‘people’s republic’ does present a unique opportunity for  a better state  not seen  for perhaps almost a  hundred years on  this planet. The opportunity to begin  afresh, untainted by  cronyism, the powers of the corporates, the drive for “progress” at  the expense of the planet. An opportunity for a  state entity  driven by  altrusim,  responsibility   for the vulnerable and a respect  for the environment. Impossible you say?- certainly improbable  when we look at our current rapacious “growth” (read;  money-for-the-rich and baubles for the poor) driven  state entities.

What we need then, is the development of state structures that  foster:

  • Community initiative and responsiveness-  local  town  “councils” where every  citizen has a voice and a right to be heard and responded to.
  • Central  and local  policies that  recognise that  “growth  for growth’s sake’  is nonsensical  and destroys both  our own living environment and the other  living things around us- ‘growth’  is the short term path  to death
  • Central  and local  initiatives that  encourage inter-connectivity between  people- eg local  community places within  walking distance for food and product  distribution, green  spaces,
  • Town planning which  “forces” people to  mingle together to  get  their work  done: eg  small  interconnected urban areas, green  spaces and  gardens
  • Local and central  state welfare systems that  all  citizens buy into  according to  their capacity to  pay  through  taxes, and all  are recompensed equitably in times of trouble
  • Principles and policies that  create respect  for the other living beings interacting with the human population.
  • Training for all age groups in  the art of mindfulness
  • An understanding that violence to others destroys oneself
  • an inalienable obstruction to  business interests influencing  state and local  political  decisions (i.e absolutely no  capacity for corporates to  finance  politicians)

It can (and must) be done. For the sake of all  of us on  this little blue ball.

______________________________________________________________________

Links

Egalitarian Perspectives on Sustainability – Robert Paehlke
http://www.eolss.net/sample-chapters/c13/E1-45-05-06.pdf


Great  Transition Initiative
http://greattransition.org/


The Commons as a Template for Transformation
http://greattransition.org/document/the-commons-as-a-template-for-transformation


Policies for Shareable Cities
https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/39811237/Policies%20for%20Shareable%20Cities.pdf


On Citizenship  in the 21st Century-  Richard Falk
http://richardfalk.wordpress.com/2014/05/20/on-citizenship-in-the-21st-century/


Global Citizenship: Plausible Fears and Necessary Dreams 
http://greattransition.org/document/global-citizenship-plausible-fears-necessary-dreams

ANZACS- for King and Country

Every  year in this fair little country of New Zealand, we “celebrate” Anzac Day on 25th  April. We remember our “glorious dead” who  fought in  all  those wars for king and country;  beginning way  back  then  with  the  Second Boer War of 1899 in South Africa, supporting our British  countrymen  in  the British  Empire’s  fight against  the “evil” Boers, to  ensure  South  Africa could become a safe place for English  speaking white men to  colonise and rule over the black man.

Since then we have had the First  World War where 100, 000 New Zealand  men  (and some women) were shipped overseas, out of a total  population of just over 1 million people. 18,500 New Zealanders  were killed in  that  ‘war to  end all  wars’ and  more than 40,000 wounded. Anzac Day  “celebrates” the day  New Zealand and Australian  troops along with  troops from other parts of the Empire,  India, England, Scotland, Wales, Ireland,  India, and Newfoundland  as well  as French  forces invaded Turkey   (a German ally) at Gallipoli. IfYeBreakFaith_VictorybondsposterThe “Great War”, as it was once known, was initially at  least, a European  war  to divide up  the spoils of empire, with  each  countries’  soldiers  the cannon fodder for money  and power.

‘Only’ 2799  New Zealand soldiers died at  Gallipoli attempting to  break  the Turkish  defences in  the harsh  hills above the beaches, where 87,000  Turks died defending their homeland. Nothing in comparison to the many thousands killed and wounded  in  the trenches  in Flanders and other parts of France;  machine gunned, shelled and gassed by  the “Hun” -the Germans.

Yet  New Zealand collectively now  glorifies  Gallipoli;  it was apparently (according to later  New Zealand historians who  should know)  our “nation-buildng”  exercise.  Yet after that  first  world war to end all  wars,  every  cenotaph

The Unknown Soldier
The Unknown Soldier

in  every  little town  and city across New Zealand which  named their dead, inscribed  the lines “Lest We Forget”.  In my imagination perhaps , it is ‘lest we forget”  those  who  died for nothing,  the horror,  the stupidity , the inhumanity to man of soldiers at  war;  not “lest we forget” our glorious war dead. Let us not forget  also, those brave conscientious objectors who  also chose to  suffer because of their fundamental  objection to  war.  Let us not forget  either, the many thousands of women and children  who  suffered at  the hands of those damaged men returning from the wars;  the family  and community violence caused  by  the trauma of war  and death.

 

            The Send-off: a Poem  by  Wilfred Owen: -English  soldier poet, 1918

And then  we have the “good war”;  the war  against the Nazis and the Japanese between  1939 and 1945,  where 140,000  New Zealand men and women were conscripted to  fight overseas.  Kiwi soldiers, while comparatively  small  in  numbers, played a significant role in  the European war  against  Germany  and later   against  the Japanese in  the Pacific. Could  that war have been  avoided  without appeasement of Nazi  and Japanese supremacism?  There are many  historians who  say , that  had the terms of  the  Versailles Treaty  not been so  punitive against  Germany , German nationalistic fervour would   never have produced  such  a cancer as the national  socialists. Similarly there are those who  argue that  had the Japanese also been able to  obtain  their  Imperial   “place in  the sun” , Pearl Harbour would never have happened.   Hindsight is a wonderful  thing.

New Zealand’s obligations for self-defence against  the Japanese is  inarguable;  The Japanese were planning to invade New Zealand as part of their Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere,  along with Australia.  The evil  of the Nazis  is also  inarguable and the horrors committed by  them; New Zealand soldiers helped to bring  those horrors to an end.  Ultimately 11,900  New Zealand soldiers lost their lives  in the second world war. However New Zealand is implicated  in the war crimes resulting  from  the bombing missions undertaken  by  the Allies against  German dams   and the firebombing of Dresden.  And, we might  ask, why  weren’t we opposing the Japanese in their 1937-1945 horrific  occupation of China prior to  Pearl Harbour in December 1941?

New Zealand’s role in wars since the second world war has (aside from  several  small  UN peace-keeping missions) been less than exemplary.  4,700 New Zealand soldiers fought  in Korea  between 25 June 1950 to 27 July 1953, with 49  men  killed in  action. New Zealand  (under U.N. auspices but without Russian attendance at  that  security council  meeting ) was a party to  the genocide committed largely by  the Americans carpet bombing  every North Korean  town and city over that period.

Fighting as part of ANZUS, New Zealand enthusiastically  supported the American  pretext  for invading Vietnam from  1963 to  1975   ( supposedly to halt the insidious spread of Communism  across Asia), while the New Zealand national  government  supported the  bombing by  the U.S. of  cities and towns across Vietnam  Laos and Cambodia, causing more than  a million deaths.  37 New Zealand  soldiers were killed in that  war and many more  afflicted by  the  impacts of “Agent Orange”, the chemical warfare “defoliant” sprayed by   U.S.  planes  over the jungles and hamlets of  South  Vietnam.

Once again  supporting the U.S., New Zealand  inserted a small  number of troops into  southern  Iraq  near Basra during the second Iraq War.  While for most of its service there, NZ troops were confined to base, it is highly likely that  NZ troops were  well aware of  the  wide-spread  torture and murder of Iraqi  civilians in  that  area by  British troops . New Zealand  is,  by  its support of that  war,  also implicated in  the deaths of  the  hundreds of thousands of Iraqis who  died as a result of a war  based on  the pretext of Saddam’s  non-existent  “weapons of mass destruction.”

New Zealand continues its commitment to “freedom  and democracy” by  supporting the Americans in Afghanistan.  Initially promoted to the public as an incursion  to eliminate Al Qaeda as a threat   after the 9/11  bombing of the New York  towers,  the war has dragged on since its inception in  2001 and morphed into  the elimination of the Taleban  (an Afghan  Pashtun  tribal  entity with  previous links to Al Qaeda). New Zealand troops have likely been  involved in capturing Taleban  fighters and sending them  to  the US Bagram air base in Kabul  for torture. A rather dubious analysis suggest that  up  to  20,000  civilian  casualties alone have been  killed in  Afghanistan  since 2001- the mortality  figures for direct  war impacts are likely to be  in  the many many thousands. ( the U.S. doesnt “do  headcounts” anymore.)

New Zealand continues to  be a key  member of the U.S. run  western  intelligence community “Five Eyes”, which   attempts to  maintain the U.S state’s power and control  over most of the world, and while NZ has  publicly been  cast  in  the shadows of ANZUS because of its nuclear-free stance, it in  reality maintains an  extremely  active role.

However , even with  the huge  amount of information provided  by  internet   and phone tapping  provided to  “Five Eyes”  intelligence ‘experts”, it is clear  that  those security operatives have over the years since the second world war, acquired a farcical  level  of incompetence and  lack  of intelligence and judgment. Their wild misinterpretation of other  states’  and non-state entities’ intent and motives has resulted in  massive  suffering to  millions of  human beings. It is highly likely that  incompetence is not going to be changing any time soon.

In summary,  ANZAC Day;  that  tribute of poppies and wreaths and guns , celebrates not  our glorious dead, but  the utter farcical  futility of war and the greed of the powerful.

At  the time of writing,  the jingoistic   drumbeats of war  are sounding to  fight once more   the Russian  threat  against  “poor little”  Ukraine.

As the late and great  Pete Seeger sang: When  will  we ever learn?

 

The Whimper…

T.S. Eliot’s famous poem, The Hollow Men, ends with the following lines…

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper.

A recent study,  led by   applied mathematician Safa Motesharrei of the National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center and using   new statistical modelling methods, predicts that this  current civilization will likely collapse in  another twenty to  fifty years. The study   draws analogies with past human  civilizations;  the Assyrian, Roman, Mayan, Minoan,  the various  Chinese empires…. We can assume that  like us;  the populations of those civilizations had every reason to believe their civilization was unique and would last  forever. While civilisational  collapse is quite rare, characterised by  entire ways of life, systems of thought, cultural values and worldviews disappearing,  political  collapse occurs frequently ( eg empires and kingdoms disintegrating).  What  appears likely to  happen in our modern context,  given  the confluence of a number of catastrophic events, is civilisational  collapse.

While this particular study  has been  sharply critiqued by  journalists and  scientists  alike for its simplicity and generalisations ; the  broad conclusion that,  as Paul Simon aptly put it ,”everything put together falls apart” , is  a healthy  reminder of human hubris.

The single most important  story   unfolding in  not-so-slow-motion  on this planet  is the  ongoing  destruction of the natural  world  in  the name of “progress”  and “growth” (ie  consuming ever more “stuff”) by  humans;  ,  which  will  in the near  future,  significantly negatively impact  on this species. Despite our insistence to the contrary, humans are entirely reliant on other species for our survival.  It is a  given that is blindly ignored by  politicians, businesspeople and businesses  and all  those with  a current stake in  the way  our “civilization’  currently works ( ie all of us).

As key  resources become more expensive to  extract,  the world economy (which is apparently now the full extent of this ‘civilization’) begins to contract  and distort .  And as the gap  between rich and poor widens,  the “have-nots” increasingly demand in  more and more violent ways,  their right to  a slice of the pie. As the oceans and  atmospheric temperatures rise,  so  do the pressures on  our artificial nation-states. As we progressively and rapidly eliminate species after species to produce more things,  to make “progress”;  our chances of long term survival  as a species are being rapidly reduced.   Our civilization demands that  we assume that  we have an infinite volume  of resources to  consume for  the infinite future in  a closed planetary  system –  a small  contradiction in  terms!   We are indeed heading for the perfect  storm.

Study  after academic  study shows that the more we  gain from  a civilization’s  prosperity,  the more we are blind to its failings and contradictions and its  inevitable fall. This  tunnel vision says , that ‘if I am  doing well out of this catastrophe then it cant be a catastrophe at all!’

Homo  sapiens  pride themselves on their remarkable intelligence; their capacity to manipulate their environment for their own ends. They appear unable to grasp  that  that  self-definition process of  appropriating everything  good, intelligent and wonderful  to  human attributes,  is simply  the result of their blinded vision.  If by  definition, species that manipulate their environment  are determined to be superior to all other species;  then lo-and-behold!- homo sapiens are superior beings! Because homo sapiens are above all other traits,  social  beings,  all of us have an intensely strong need to  “fit in”,  to belong to the group. Agreeing with other people in ‘our’ group’s   thought processes and paradigms is an essential part of this togetherness. However, agreement does not  it make it truth.

Thus, it does not matter that the capacity to manipulate the environment for the benefit of our species and at  the expense of all other species on  this planet might not be quite so an intelligent thing to do, given that  the environmental devastation and species  destruction is largely for homo sapiens’ short term  pleasures, power  and baubles.

Were we to  say  that  a species that can  sustain itself  easily and efficiently without damaging its environment in  the process, were  more ‘worthy’ beings than other species ;  then homo sapiens would not be registering on  the short-list!

Over the millenia, homo sapiens have  been able to convince themselves  that  people of other cultures, or colour,  or background are inferior to one’s own culture because of this self-defining process.  Using the same intellectual process,  the more different another species is from ourselves, the  less worthy , less  intelligent, more expendable and worthy of our  exploitation and destruction that species becomes.   The more differentiated from our species the “other” is,  the easier it is to  dismiss its inherent traits and qualities and its right to life. However on our ever smaller blue planet,  we no  longer have the luxury to differentiate between  “them’  and ‘us”.

How much easier then is it  to dismiss the equality of other species with ourselves when their characteristics, strengths and skills are so different from homo sapiens, and when it  is so  much to our benefit to be able to kill  and exploit other species without moral qualms.

The capacity for self-delusion in our  species is immense. Witness the largely American  driven  anti- climate -change camp. Of course we cannot be  destroying our planet with C02 through  industrialization, because capitalism and owning the means of production   is the reason  for our being!  – after all, aren’t we, the US consumer, the greatest people on  earth because our nation is   the epitome of capitalism?

As another example of  collective self-deception, Seth Klarman, the manager of the $27billion hedge fund, the Baupost Group, recently  remarked on the similarities of the world’s banking system to the ‘Truman Show’, the late nineties Hollywood film, where the lead character  “lives a seemingly charmed world, snuggled comfortably into an American suburbia of white picket fences and crisply cut lawns. But gradually Truman starts to notice something is not quite right. He is actually trapped inside a film set controlled by hidden directors, and discovers to his horror that he is the unknowing star of the world’s most popular reality TV show.”  In one of the more blatant  nuances of reality shifting homo  sapiens have acquiesced to,  our  financial  system  is in  essence simply one of “smoke and mirrors” -the manipulation of facts and figures designed  to  obscure reason and reality;  a fragile house of cards.

The dreaded "black swan"!
                                  The dreaded “black swan”!

One key point of difference with previous human civilizations  around the world  is that  our current  civilization is a global one; each  of the parts are inextricably connected.  Apart from  a few small tribes in   isolated areas, every one of us has bought in to  this unique  method of environmental  destruction. Thus  when this civilization collapses -(and it is a “when” and not an “if” ), that collapse will be both  more  rapid and more global; there will not be another model of homo sapien civilization around for the  survivors to pin their hopes on. The other significant difference with other previous human civilizations is this current one’s geographical  reach.  Vast  areas of the planet have now  been laid waste in  the name of human progress.

So, while the modelling conducted by  Safa Motesharrei  may be flawed, it does provide an opportunity for  serious debate about the direction this global  civilisation of ours is taking us..

 

Links

Did Nasa fund ‘civilisation collapse’ study, or not?

The National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)

About that Popular Guardian Story on the Collapse of Industrial Civilization

Plotting the Downfall  of Society-Peter Turchin Book Review

A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilisation

Crisis of Civilisation 

So, after the IPCC report, which bit of the world are you prepared to lose? | GeorgeMonbiot