Contrary to popular belief, Brussels is not the only major European capital which is away from the seacoast as well as devoid of a river. The Senne is a far cry from the similar-sounding Seine further south, however: it is a nasty, brutish, mercifully short waterway. By the mid-1800’s it had become so putrid and unstable that the city elders decided to cover it—the massive project was known as the voûtement de la Senne—and to build boulevards and public edifices on top. The city did not gain much in charm, but its denizens’ life expectancy was instantly improved. (Whether living a long life in Belgium’s capital is a blessing or a curse is a separate issue.)
There is an equally nasty but infinitely more brutish monstrosity in today’s Brussels that cannot be dealt with so neatly. The European Union today is like the “Socialist Community” under Leonid Brezhnev in his dotage: totalitarian yet inefficient, glorified by its self-serving nomenklatura yet unloved by its subjects, devoid of any unifying ideology beyond the worn-out phrases and platitudes parroted by the absurd men and repulsive women in dull suits.
For the reality of this “United Europe,” as it is today, let us be dryly empirical for a moment and look at a few EU-related news items reported on one day—Thursday, March 14, 2013:
- EU leaders gathered in Brussels for a two-day summit in an attempt to negotiate the dilemma between austerity and growth. Thousands of protestors from all over the 27 member nations converged outside the EU HQ.
- Eurozone employment dropped by 0.3% in the fourth quarter of 2012 compared with the third, despite the Christmas shopping season. Experts say the unemployment rate will remain above 11% until early 2018.
- European Central Bank (ECB) President Mario Draghi says that “generally unsatisfactory economic developments in Europe” will improve in the course of 2013, but only if governments implement austerity measures and structural reforms. His fellow-Eurocrat, EU-appointed Italian prime minister Mario Monti, nevertheless says he will have to ask his EU partners to grant Italy more “flexibility” in its budget deficit reduction targets.
- The troika of international lenders—the EU, the ECB, and the IMF—left Greece without resolving a dispute with the government in Athens over further budgetary cuts. In the meantime, Greek shipyard workers protested outside the development ministry and hundreds of Greek students blocked up the education ministry to protest cuts resulting from EU-imposed austerity measures.Unemployment in Greece is 26%, up from 24.8% in the third quarter of 2012. Among under-24’s it is 57.8%. The percentage of unemployed Greeks who have been looking for a job for more than one year is 65.3%.
- In Spain, eviction proceedings against defaulters have soared since 2007 to 450,000. The number of repossessions ending in evictions increased by 135% in 2012 from the year before, indicating worsening trends. Spanish retail sales dropped 10.2% in the year to January, continuing the decline of the past 31 months.
- Cyprus bailout talks are crucial to next stage of crisis, but deep divisions remain over how to manage a bailout. Without a cut in the €17bn cost, Cypriot sovereign debt will reach 145% of GDP, by far the highest in the eurozone except for Greece.
- President François Hollande has said that France won’t be able to cut the public deficit to the EU limit of 3% of GDP this year; it was more likely to reach 3.7%. Amazingly, German finance minister Wolfgang Schäuble subsequently corrected Hollande, saying not that he “hoped,” or “expected,” but that he was “sure that France would, like us, respect the rules” on the public deficit. (Perhaps Herr Schäuble knows a thing or two about France’s future finance policy that Monsieur le Président de la République does not!)
- Germany, meanwhile, smugly claims that its finances are the model for all humanity. Its 2014 budget plans, revealed on March 13, show the structural deficit dropping to zero. “With all modesty [sic!], this is a result of historic proportions,” economy minister Philipp Rösler declared on that occasion. “Germany is in the vanguard in Europe. Our success with a policy of growth-oriented consolidation is the envy of the world.” Ach, modesty—the quintessential German weakness…
This is but a quick selection on a randomly selected day—the day of this writing. The tenor and substance have not changed much in recent months and years; and things will likely change for worse—OK, with that oneenviable exception, perhaps—in the months and years ahead.
Unsurprisingly, anti-EU feeling is escalating all over the continent. On March 1, British Prime Minister David Cameron’s Conservative Party was beaten into third place in the Eastleigh by-election, in southern England, by a party that wants Britain to leave the EU. The UK Independence Party (UKIP) supporters were once described by Cameron as “fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists”—but they accounted for 28 percent of the vote in the traditionally Tory constituency. UKIP leader Nigel Farage declared the vote “a protest against an entire political class.” Under pressure from UKIP, Cameron had earlier promised to hold a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU by the end of 2017 if he wins the next election, but many British Euro-skeptics see this as a mere ploy to deflect the threat from UKIP.
Marine Le Pen, who finished third in the French presidential election, also demands a referendum on France’s membership. On Mach 3 she declared that the FN wants France to leave the EU unless four reforms are agreed: the return to the franc; the abolition of the Schengen single-borderarea; the primacy of France’s economic interests over “Europe’s”; and the primacy of national law over EU law. Otherwise, Le Pen has promised to transform the European elections a year from now into a referendum for or against Europe. Having polled 18% of the vote in the presidential election last year, Mlle Le Pen has a solid base to build upon.
In Italy, two anti-austerity, anti-euro parties—led by Silvio Berlusconi and Beppe Grillo—captured over half the vote and paralyzed the political system. Berlusconi returned from the dead to take just over 29% of the vote, less than one half of one percentage point behind the first-placed Center-Left. Newcomer Grillo’s Movimento 5 Stelle (M5S, Five Star Movement), entirely created via the web outside the traditional party system, took just over 25% of the vote for the Chamber of Deputies—and demolished Italy’s balance of political forces. Pro-EU Monti’s coalition came fourth with a paltry ten percent.
Even in Germany, the apparent hegemon, there is little popular enthusiasm for the Euro-project. The recently-founded Alternative for Germany (AfD) is not even a political party yet, but expects to be a serious player come federal elections on September 22. It demands dissolution of the “coercive euro association,” an orderly end of the monetary union, and a referendum to decide if “the Basic Law, the best constitution that Germany ever had,” was violated to allow the transfer of sovereignty to the EU. Dr. Bernd Lucke—the AfD co-founder, economics professor and a life-long CDU supporter until he turned against Merkel in 2011 over her bailout policies—is adamant that Germany “has a government that has failed to comply with the law… and has blatantly broken the word that it had given to the German people.” With 14,000 paid members thus far, the AfD is respectable and distinctly upper-middle-class, with a higher concentration of PhDs than any party. Among its early supporters is Hans-Olaf Henkel, ex-president of the Federation of German Industry representing 100,000 businesses. Let it be added that as of now 26% of Germans say they would consider voting for a party committed to leaving the monetary union.
It will be a tough fight. Political, media and cultural elites in the leading countries of the Union are overwhelmingly pro-EU, pro-euro, pro-immigration, and vehemently opposed to any sign of national or ethno-linguistic coherence. If those elites have their way, there will be many more “Europeans” by the end of this century than today—some atheist, but mostly Muslim; some black, but mostly brown—but there will be precious few great-grandchildren of Europeans. The native populations are aborting and birth-controlling themselves into minorities. If Euro-elites have their way, disused churches will be converted into teeming mosques. Just over a decade ago, they refused to acknowledge Christian heritage as an element of European identity—but today they insist Islam is essential to that identity. Brussels rejects the notion that Europeans are defined by blood ties, collective memories, emotional bonds, culture, and kinship. Instead, “Europe” marches along the path of “civilization, progress and prosperity, for the good of all its inhabitants, including the weakest and most deprived… to deepen the democratic and transparent nature of its public life, and to strive for peace, justice and solidarity throughout the world…”
This is the mindset of 1792 and 1917 all over again. Its derivative expressions are foreseeable. The EU relentlessly encourages abortion, sexual deviancy, and population replacement as “basic human rights.” Its political process means the manufacture of ideologically correct outcomes as defined by the unelected Brussels machine, before the quasi-democratic machine of the European Parliament and the member countries’ institutions are set in motion. The preamble of the EU Charter on Human Rights claims to be “based on the principles of democracy and the rule of law” (implying the two were not in conflict), and concludes that “Enjoyment of these rights entails responsibilities and duties with regard to other persons, to the human community and to future generations.” Those rights are naturally demarcated by those who reserve the right to decide what exactly one’s obligations to “the human community” and “future generation” happen to be.
The true meaning of “the rule of law” is defined by the European Arrest Warrant, a hideous device created by the Lisbon Treaty, under which any citizen of a member country—or even a visitor from outside the Union—is liable to arrest and extradition at the behest of a judge in any other EU member country, under one of 32 categories of “crime.” Those offenses include murder, terrorism, as well as “racism and xenophobia.” The EU thus came to equate beliefs, opinions and sentiments with the worst of actual crimes, in the best tradition of Soviet and Nazi jurisprudence.
The workings of the machine are mainly in the hands of the European Commission (EC), whose members are appointed by the 27 prime ministers who make up the Council. The EC has the authority to create and impose policies, but it cannot be removed or held accountable by any electorate. Its duty is to uphold the interests of the Union as such: its members swear that they will discard any vestige of loyalty to any nation. The only EU institution that has any claim to democratic credentials is the European Parliament, the least powerful of the three key bodies.
How and why did the monstrosity get this way? Gradually at first, with a great deal of patience and cunning exercised by its visionary creators. In 1945 Western Europe was in ruins, a shadow of what it had been only four decades previously. The old, pre-1914 balance-of-power system had collapsed, and the interwar mechanisms of collective security were neither collective nor secure. The beginnings were seemingly pragmatic: the 1951 European Coal and Steel Community—as engineered by Robert Schuman—seemed like a sound idea, a plus-sum-game if there ever was one. But the upholders of Euro-federalism had a bigger fish to fry. From the outset they held that a sense of common history had to be developed, as well as a sense of an existing and growing common identity, to complement those early economic integration mechanisms. As Jean Monnet, the father of the project (and, significantly, a man never elected to a public office), admitted six decades ago, “Europe has never existed; one has genuinely to create Europe.”
Monnet and his disciples had a long way to go. The initial ideological basis for the project was de Gaulle’s distinctly non-federalist vision of l’Europe des patries. A concert of nation-states, brought together by a common interest, would seek the withering away of their old hostilities—with France and Germany leading the way—but all of them would retain their substance and identity regardless of the institutional arrangement. This was the “Europe” of the Six, a logical heir to the pragmatic Coal and Steel Community. Euro-integralists—notably Belgium’s prime minister Paul-Henri Spaak and Monnet himself—nevertheless kept their powder dry for a more opportune moment when the European Economic Community might be steered in the direction of a political union. De Gaulle and his immediate successor, Georges Pompidou, did not want that; and until the early 1970’s the institutional framework remained essentially the same.
Then came the notion of Europe’s unity in diversity, the reverse of the Europe of the Fatherlands. (In 2000 In varietate concordia was adopted as the official motto of the European Union.) The new concept coincided with the European Community’s expansion to the Nine, then to the Twelve. Its proponents claimed that Europe was not only a mosaic of cultures but an organic whole. The implication that this whole required a single source of decision-making authority gave rise to the method of European integration Monnet had advocated from the outset: a series of gradual yet regular transfers of small slices of national sovereignty—in ostensibly technical areas—from national capitals to Brussels. The Community apparat made a quantum leap toward this goal with the Single European Act (SEA, July 1987). It was a thorough revision of the 1957 Treaty of Rome, but in the direction of a super-authority rather than a superstate.
The distinction is essential. The standard Eurosceptic accusation that the Brussels machine is plotting the creation of a single federal state is incorrect. The people who run the Brussels machine have never wanted the end result to be a superstate modeled after the United States. In the context of pan-European federal statehood they would be held more accountable and would come under far greater public scrutiny than if they remained faceless and continued to operate from the corridors of the monstrous EU HQ at Barleymont. The strategy was for the states to be drained gradually of statehood and their power transferred to Brussels, but without the unwelcome trappings and limitations of statehood itself. Its guiding spirit was then-Commission PresidentJacques Delors, a French Socialist. From the SEA on, the EU became—in the words of British MEP Roger Helmer—“a slow-motion coup d’etat.” In addition to the creation of the eurozone 12 years ago, which has grown to 17 member-states since, the Schengen Agreement (1990), the Maastricht Treaty (1992), the Amsterdam Treaty (1998), the Treaty of Nice (2000), and the Treaty of Lisbon (2009) have transferred vast powers from national capitals to Brussels.
The era of Delors coincided with the rise of the Generation of 1968 to the positions of power. The activists had cut their hair, put on suits and ties, and discovered that it was more fruitful and comfortable to take the Gramscian long road through the institutions than to blow them up. The veterans of the hard-left era, like Catherine Ashton and Jose Manuel Barroso, still subscribe to the concept of permanent revolution, but it is wrapped into the open-ended evolution of the EU that they now control. The result is a European Union in a state of indeterminacy and permanent flux, a postmodern edifice within which the meaning of sovereignty is relativized and the separation of foreign and domestic policies blurred to the point of interchangeability. What all of these Euro-enthusiasts share—as John Laughland has noted—is a love of indeterminacy and permanent change, and a hostility to what they regard as inadequate, old-fashioned, and simplistic certainties of classical sovereign statehood.
Far from being the “capital of Europe,” Brussels is the regional HQ of the post-Christian anti-Europe, just as Washington DC has morphed into the global HQ of the same project. The goals of the project managers are the same because their degenerate minds are the same. They cannot be shamed into changing their ways through arguments or defeated through the ballot box any more than a malignant cancer can be arrested with aspirin. A stronger medicine is needed.
To paraphrase a bad man from a time much better than our own, écrasez l’infâme!
Across Syria these days, one is able to examine massive evidence that this ancient civilization, the historic bastion of nationalist Arabism and since the 1948 Nabka, an essential pillar of the growing culture of Resistance to the Zionist occupation of Palestine, is becoming awash with foreign arms being funneled to “rebels” by countries advocating regime change.
This observer has been researching foreign arms transfers into certain Middle East countries since last summer in Libya, where to a lesser degree the identical foreign actors were involved in facilitating the transfer of arms and fighters to topple the then, “Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.”
During a recent stay in Syria, I was able to observe first hand, substantial demonstrative evidence supporting the thesis that American, Zionist and Gulf intelligence agencies as well as private arms dealers from these countries top the list of more than two dozen countries benefiting from the crisis in Syria by injecting arms. These countries gain politically and financially, via governmental and black market arms transfers.
Which countries are sending the most weapons into Syria to arm militia?
A list of the top 24 countries, among the more than three dozen that are currently involved in sending weapons to Syria to achieve regime change include: USA, Iraq, Lebanon, Israel, Turkey, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Bahrain, UK, France, Canada, Belgium, Germany, Austria, Brazil, Portugal, Poland, Yugoslavia, Czech Republic, Bulgaria, Italy, Spain, and Argentina.
Above: one of the periodic lists complied of foreign weapons confiscated from foreign fighters in Syria. Aug.-late September, 2012
Nearly two-thirds of the above listed arms suppliers are members of NATO and constitute almost half of NATO’s 28 country membership.
Russia is not included in the above list because it is the main supplier of arms to the Syrian government. Yet, one finds older USSR era weapons and even some more recent vintage Russian arms in rebel hands, the latter from the decade (12/79-2/89) of Soviet, occupation of Afghanistan. Also offering Russian weapons are a growing number of black market arms dealers of whom there is no shortage along the Turkey-Syrian border and elsewhere. This recent visitor to Syria was offered near the Old City, AK 47’s (Russian Kalashnikovs) or Rocket Propelled Grenades (RPG) for $ 1,800 (in Lebanon today and before the Syrian crisis the price was around $800. After some bargaining and starting to walk away a couple of times, the “special one-time only price for an American friend” dropped to $ 750 each. Russian made Dragunov sniper rifles are being offered at $ 6,500 but can be bought for around $ 5000.Buying arms these days in Syria is a caveat emptor proposition. Fake weapons and military rejects/defects are also being offered by hustlers from nearby countries including Lebanon, Iraq and Turkey.
The involvement of numerous countries in the Syrian crisis as arms suppliers and political operatives was tangentially referenced by the recent UN Security Council Statement of 12/25/12 which admits the existence of foreign actors and implies their arms supplying activities by urging “all regional and international actors to use their influence on the parties concerned to facilitate the implementation of the (Eid al Adha) ceasefire and cessation of violence.”
Syria’s Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Bashar al-Jaafari observed last week: “This part of the [Security Council] press statement, mentioned for the first time, proves Syria’s view repeated since the beginning of the crisis on the existence of Arab, regional and international parties influencing the armed groups negatively or positively. Therefore, those parties need to be addressed.”
One of the key challenges for the UN and Arab League envoy, Lakhdar Brahimi whose aides told this observer at the Dama Rose hotel on 10/22/12 where we were staying, is: “We need to persuade key countries in the Middle East, but also internationally, not to support the rebels with arms.
The failed initiative of envoy El Brahimi, was the third ceasefire attempt to date following the December 2011Arab League proposal and the April 2012 Kofi Annan initiative, both of which were endorsed by the Syrian government and most of the world community. Some rebel militia, but not nearly enough, did endorse the Brahimi four day Eid al Adha ceasefire only to have it collapse this past weekend. To his credit, Brahimi continues his work.
The same Brahimi sources suggested that the United States may also be supplying man-portable air-defense systems (Manpods) to rebels in Syria. According to Russian Foregin Ministry spokesman Alexander Lukashevich, speaking on 12/15/12: “At the same time, it is also well-known that Washington is aware of supplies of various types of arms to illegal armed groups operating in Syria. Moreover, the United States, judging by admissions by American officials that have also been published in American media, is conducting coordination and providing logistical support for such supplies.” NBC News, based in New York reported in July that Syrian insurgents had obtained two dozen US MANPADS, delivered from Turkey.
A month after the October 2011 death of Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton announced in Tripoli that the U.S. was committing $40 million to help Libya “secure and recover its weapons stockpiles.” Congressional sources report that the Obama administration is fully aware that quantities of these arms are current in Syria and more in transit.
With respect to arms moving from Libya to Syria, on the night of Sept. 11 Libya time, in what was his last public meeting, US Ambassador Christopher Stevens met with the Turkish Consul General Ali Sait Akin, and accompanied him to the consulate front gate just before the assault began. Although what was discussed has not yet been made public, Washington sources including the pro-Zionist Fox News speculate that Stevens may have been in Benghazi negotiating a weapons transfer, from Libya to Syria.
Earlier this year, Assistant Secretary of State for Political and Military Affairs Andrew Shapiro expressed concerns that the increasing flow of Libya arms was far from under control. Speaking to the Stimson Center in Washington D.C. on 2/10/12 Shapiro said: “This raises the question — how many weapons and missiles are still missing? The frank answer is we don’t know and probably never will.”
According to a 10/14/12 report by the Times of London, a vessel flying the Libyan flag named Al Entisar (Victory), loaded with more than 400 tons of cargo, docked in southern Turkey 35 miles from the Syrian northern border. While some of the undeclared cargo was likely humanitarian, staff accompanying UN envoy Brahimi during his recent Syrian trip report the Al Entisar also carried the largest consignment of foreign weapons to date, including surface-to-air anti-aircraft missiles, RPG’s and MANPADS destined for Syria.
Partly because of the jihadists and arms entering Syria from its northern border, southern Turkey is increasingly referred to here in Damascus as “New Afghanistan”, given its matrix of jihadists, salafists, wahabists, and battle-hardened panoply of arriving foreign would-be mujahedeen and al Qaeda affiliates.
One teenage al Qaeda wannebe explained to the author that his specialty was making and using homemade specialized knives as shown in this photo. He also delivered a mini-lecture he said was based on a Koranic Hadith explaining why severing heads of animals and adversaries is actually the most humane method. He gave earnest assurances that if allowed to perform a one-time demonstration, this observer would feel no pain and he would post the photo on Facebook!
Remarkably, as was witnessed in 2007, during the conflict at the Nahr al Bared Palestinian refugee camp in north Lebanon, some of the arriving eager jihadists in “New Afghanistan” actually believe that they are fighting against Zionist forces near occupied Palestine and not killing fellow Arabs in Syria.
Some, but not all of the many types of small arms flowing into Syria in large numbers, and viewed by this observer include:
7.62mm Tabuk (Yugoslavia) rifles, Mass rifles (UK), 7.62 mm rifles (Poland), 12 mm rifles (Italy), 7.62 mm Kalashnikovs (several countries versions), 9 mm ‘fast gun’, (Austria), 7.62 mm Val (Belgium), G3 7.62 mm G3 rifles (Germany), 7.5mm model 36 rifles (France), M16 and a variety of sniper and other rifles (USA), 7.62 rifles (Bulgaria, 10.5 Uzi and other automatic machine guns, three types of hand grenades (Israel), 9 mm guns (Canada), 7 mm guns (Czech Republic), 7 mm guns (Brazil).
Photo: 10.23.12 Syria
Israeli weapons are among the most frequently found in Syria as was the case in Libya. Israeli arms dealers are claimed to have recently intensified links with Blackwater International and also are currently smuggling through the Golan Heights, the tri-border area of south Lebanon, occupied Palestine and Syria.
The observer also examined and was briefed on M72 LAW and AT-3 anti-tank missiles developed by the United States. But the extent of their use is difficult to verify. Most of the arms shown in accompanying photos are from the main urban centers and near the Turkish, Iraqi, Lebanese and Jordanian borders.
In tightly built up urban areas such as Homs, Idlib and Aleppo, door to door fighting includes a battle among snipers. According to one Syrian military intelligence source in whose Damascus office this observer discussed the subject, the most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” include:
· the U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4 (also: USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21;
Photo: Damascus 10/23/12: American weapons from Iraq, Afghanistan, Turkey and NATO stores are entering Syria with the aid of Qatar and Saudi Arabia and black market arms dealers.
· the Israeli M89SR Technical Equipment International 7.62x51mm NATO Semi-automatic, Galil Sniper Rifle and the T.C.I. M89-SR,
· the British .243 Winchester, 7.62x51mm NATO/.308 Winchester,.300 Winchester Magnum, and the 338 Lapua Magnum Bolt action sniper rifles.
Photo: Syria 10/13/12: The most frequently confiscated sniper rifles currently being found in the hands of “rebels” in Syria include the above shown U.S. Army & USMC M1903-A4. Other US sniper rifles include the USMC M1903-A1/Unertl), the U.S. Army & USMC M1C & M1D and U.S. Army M21
A few Afghanistan era Russian Dragonov SVD and SV-98 sniper rifles have also been confiscated among an assortment of others.
Foreign jihadists have some access to Soviet-era DShK heavy machine guns or ZU-23-2 anti-aircraft cannons which are used for anti-aircraft and fire support. Both use fairly scarce high-explosive rounds and armor-piercing rounds, which are capable of penetrating the armor of the Syrian military’s BMP infantry fighting vehicles. The ZU-23-2 “Sergey”, also known as ZU-23, is a Soviet towed 23 mm anti-aircraft cannon. Vehicle mounted Zu-23-2’s are relatively easy to spot by government aircraft and artillery units are used to attack a target and quickly flee to avoid counter strikes.
On 10/25/12 Russia reiterated its claims that the US assists and coordinates arms deliveries to foreign-sponsored insurgents battling the Syrian government forces. Russia’s chief military officer said that Syrian armed groups have acquired US-made weapons, including Stinger anti-aircraft missiles. This observer saw many weapons from more than a dozen types of IED’s (improvised explosive device) to medium sized artillery pieces but no missiles.
Photo: 10/24/12 Damascus, Syria
Improvised Explosive Devices are a key rebel weapon with many arriving from Iraq and camps near Hataya, Turkey. Many DIY (do it yourself) improvisations have been uncovered across Syria in both urban and rural areas. This observer examined and was briefed on several types, including those shown above.
According to the Russian Foreign Ministry issued statement of 10/25/12, “Washington is aware of the deliveries of various weapons to illegal armed groups active in Syria. Moreover, judging by the declarations of US officials published in US media, the US coordinates and provides logistical assistance in such deliveries.”
Some analysts in Damascus claim that Syria’s potential military strength has not been as effective as it could be in the current urban fights against rebels. The government appears very strong militarily if one studies the statistics regarding Syria’s large and disciplined army which continues its support and also given its sophisticated long range missiles, air defense systems that have deterred an airborne attack from Israel. One reason progress has at times appeared slow against the “rebels” according to some local analysts was a certain initial unpreparedness to confront highly motivated guerrilla militia in downtown densely populated areas. These kinds of battles, it is claimed, require a mobile infantry, armored flexibility and very effective use of light arms. The Assad government’s “adapt, catch up and go on the offensive” paradigm is developing rapidly according to US Senate Armed Service Committee sources who assert that the Syria army has actually become battle hardened, tougher, stronger and more disciplined over the past several months. But it has taken time and has incurred a significant cost.
Weapons examined by this observer in Syria during 10/12 include some of the more than 1,750 new American sniper rifles channeled from Iraq and NATO supply stores to rebel militia.
How foreign weapons are entering Syria
As widely speculated particularly in the regional media, foreign supplied weapons to “rebels” arrive by air, sea and mainly by land from Iraq, Turkey, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and occupied Palestine.
Israel is reported, by some researchers in Damascus who have been covering the crisis for nearly 20 months, to be sending arms to Syria from Kurdistan, having had much experience in Africa, South America and Eastern Europe via Mossad and Israeli black market arms dealing. What Israel did in Libya in terms of a wide spread arms business it is also trying to do in Syria. Israeli arms, according to Syrian and Lebanese sources are being transported into Syria from along the tri-border area of South Lebanon, near Shebaa Farms, close to Jabla al-Saddaneh, and Gadja. In addition, Israeli smugglers have increasingly, over the past five months, been seen by locals moving arms inside Syria via the Golan Heights. These violations of Syrian and Lebanese sovereignty raise serious questions about the vigilance of the United Nations Disengagement Observer Force Zone (UNDO) based in the Golan Heights as well as the UN Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL) and the Lebanese Army as well as National Lebanese Resistance units near the ‘blue line’ to stop the illicit Israeli arms transfers.
The recent arrival in southern Turkey and along the northern Syrian border of Blackwater mercenaries is expected to increase the foreign arms flow. Currently using the name Academi (previously known as Xena- Xe Services LLC, Blackwater USA and Blackwater Worldwide) Academi is currently, according to Jane’s Defense Weekly, the largest of the US governments “private security” contractors. Details of its relationship with the US Defense Department and the CIA are classified.
Is there a coherent US policy toward the Syrian crisis?
Secretary of State Clinton has been announcing recently that the U.S. is increasing its “non-lethal support” (i.e. direct shipments as opposed to boots on the ground or ballistic weapons) according to her Congressional liaison office. She also confirmed that Washington is working with its friends and allies to promote more cohesion among the disparate Syrian opposition groups with the aim of producing a new leadership council following meetings scheduled for Doha in the coming weeks.
Photo: Syria: 10/24/12
Examples of US, UK and NATO “non-lethal aid” equipment taken from militia in south and north Syria between 5/2011 and 10/2012.
However, to the consternation of the State Department, General David Petraeus the former US commander of NATO forces in Iraq, now director of the CIA acknowledged, during his senate confirmation hearings. “Non-lethal aid to combatants, including communication equipment, is sometimes more lethal and important than explosive devices due to the logistical advantages they provides on the battlefield.”
In tandem with the US, the UK and several European governments are supplying “non-lethal” aid to the Syrian opposition, including satellite communications equipment according to Syria security sources.
There is also plenty of anecdotal and demonstrative and probative evidence in Syria of human weapons patterned on the “Zarqawi model” which refers to the bloody al Qaeda in Mesopotamia campaign named for its leader Abu Musab al Zarqawi after U.S. troops occupied Iraq.
In a speech this week in Zagreb, Croatia, this week, Secretary of State Clinton insisted that any group seeking to oust President Bashar al-Assad must reject attempts by extremists to “hijack” a legitimate revolution. She added, “There are disturbing reports of heavily armed foreign extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton used her strongest words to date concerning risks that the uprising in Syria could be overtaken by militants who do not seek a democratic replacement or the reforms that the current government claims it is trying to implement. She told her conferees: “We made it clear that the SNC can no longer be viewed as the visible leader of the opposition. They can be part of a larger opposition, but that opposition must include people from inside Syria and others who have a legitimate voice. We also need an opposition that will be on record strongly resisting the efforts by extremists to hijack the Syrian revolution. There are disturbing reports of heavily armed extremists going into Syria and attempting to take over.” Clinton advised her colleagues that the US has become convinced that the SNC does not represent the interests of all ethnic and religious groups in Syria and that it has little legitimacy among on-the-ground activists and fighters, and has done little to stem the infiltration of Islamist extremists into the opposition forces.
Clinton’s language is being interpreted by some as evidence that a post-election Obama Whitehouse, she he win on November, may move toward the Russian, Chinese, and Iranian position and away from, what one Congressional source derisively labeled, “ the view from the Gulf gas stations” i.e. Saudi Arabia, Qatar and some other despotic monarchies.
The intervention in Syria by more than three dozen countries supplying weapons must be stopped. Both sides of the Syrian crisis need to manifest by actions, not just words, a serious commitment to meaningful dialogue. The above noted arms supplying countries, and others off stage, have a solemn obligation to their citizens and to the world community to immediately halt the shipment of arms.
They should, and their people should demand that they do without further delay, honor the words of Isaiah 2:3-5….”and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning hooks: nation shall not lift up sword against nation, neither shall they learn war anymore.”
Granted, perhaps a cliché and certainly far easier said than done.
Yet, as Oregon’s late great US Senator Wayne Morse used tell audiences around America during the Vietnam War, quoting General George Marshall, “The only way we human beings can win a war is to prevent it.”
It’s time for the international community to end the Syrian crisis diplomatically, stop funneling arms and cash fueling hoped for regime change elements. Instead, they must demand that all the involved parties immediately engage in serious dialogue and settle their differences.
“I’m guessing that as soon as I walk into the voting booth, I’ll probably make up my mind then.” So said undecided voter Kerry Ladka, appearing on Greta Van Susteren’s program after the second presidential debate. He had just compared and contrasted the candidates, giving Mitt Romney the edge on the economy, Barack Obama the nod on “social issues,” and saying that the choice was, at least then, a 50/50 proposition for him. So it’s clear Mr. Ladka isn’t exactly two whiskers from politics-wonk status. Yet there’s something else that can be said about him. He also misunderstands his civic duty.
Imagine you went to a doctor and he said, “You know, you either need an appendectomy or a triple-bypass — I’m not sure. I’m guessing that as soon as I walk into the operating room, I’ll probably make up my mind then.”
Would you think this practitioner had any business wielding a scalpel?
Or might you recommend he refrain in deference to the Hippocratic principle, “First, do no harm”?
What’s forgotten in a political zeal manifesting itself in get-out-the-vote drives and appeals to political engagement is that the same principle applies during elections. For it is not our civic duty to vote.
It is our civic duty to become informed so we’re qualified to vote.
Of course, we all know about political operatives — such as those doing the OhioSomali vote-steal — who encourage uninformed voting because, were it not for the ignorant, they’d have no constituency at all. They are enemies ofAmerica. But it’s also true that there’s a common belief that greater voter participation yields a healthier republic. We’ll hear lamentations such as, “Isn’t it terrible that, with all our rights and freedoms, last election’s turnout was only 50 percent?” One of the most important rights, however, is the right not to make a stupid decision. And, frankly, the ideal turnout would be about five percent.
Why? Because low electoral participation indicates low voter interest, and this is when only the interested go to the polls. This yields better government because interest is a prerequisite for competence. After all, did you ever hear someone say, “Man, golf was so boring to me that I hit the links once every decade and won the Masters”? Has disinterest ever bred excellence in anything, from science to sports to music to marriage? Politics is no exception.
Nonetheless, we will still hear talk about getting people “engaged in the process.” And this would be fine, except that’s not what those aspiring to turn out the tuned out actually do. A process is, writes Dictionary.com, “a systematic series of actions directed to some end,” and, in the case of elections, the end is casting a wise vote. But what is ignored is the preceding series of actions, which amount to a period during which a person learns to care and then cares to learn. Then voting takes care of itself, becoming a reaction catalyzed by the individual’s passion and knowledge.
So even good people will consistently confuse “one man, one vote” with “one man, one obligation to vote.” In fact, nations such as Belgium, Argentina, and Australiahave actually made voting compulsory, reflecting the notion that quantity begets quality. But would we apply this to anything else? Would air travel be improved if everyone got a chance at the helm of a 747? Would it comfort you if your neurosurgeon, prostrate before the god of democracy, gave every orderly and kitchen worker a chance to poke around inside your cranium (hey, with ObamaCare….)? Enough treatment like that and you might emerge from the operating room a left-leaning voter — maybe of theChicago variety.
Returning to an earlier point, none of the above matters if your desired end is not health, but power. Then your “process” is different, beginning with propaganda and ending at the polls, a transformation of the visceral into votes. You then just want warm bodies (cold ones suffice, too). This is what breeds laws such as the one lowering the voting age in Argentina to 16, signed by the nation’s leftist president with aging-soap-opera-star looks, Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner; and the “Training Wheels for Citizenship” proposal in California, which would have extended voting rights to 14-year-olds (can you guess which party conjured up that little gem?). Children, felons, foreigners, the foolish; they’re all good to go. Hey, give us your tired, your poor, Your huddled masses yearning for free rides.
Speaking of masses, it’s well known that lower turnouts favor Republicans while higher ones benefit Democrats. So what does it say about you liberals when you have to rally the idiot vote to win? And, no, I don’t have to worry about offending anyone with that characterization; they are the idiot vote because there isn’t a chance they could read this article.
The real minority vote is that portion of the electorate that actually knows what it’s doing. As for the undecided as represented by the Van Susteren interviewee, if you’re making “up your mind” upon entering the polling station, you’re not making up your mind at all. You’re making up your vote. If a person hasn’t learned enough to make an intellectual decision during an interminable election cycle with 24/7 news coverage, the gray matter won’t suddenly boot up in the voting booth. He’ll simply be making an emotion-based decision and may as well just go, eeny, meeny, miny, moe.
So with an election coming up, remember to do your civic duty. If you’re not reading this article, please don’t vote.
It happened to the Romans. It happened to the American Indians. It happened to the Incas of South America. It happened to the aborigines of Australia. It happened to South Africans. It’s happening to Great Britain, Norway, Sweden, Holland, Australia, Belgium, France and Spain.
It is happening to the United States of America.
What is “it”?
All those ancient civilizations experienced migration of other civilizations so great in numbers that “it” changed their languages, religions, cultures and ways of life.
The Romans lost their empire. The American Indians lost everything and found themselves stuck on internment camps better known as “reservations.” Today, they cope with alcohol, domestic violence, poverty and purposelessness. The Spaniard Pizarro, using his guns, degraded the Inca nation into oblivion. The Australian aboriginals, like the American Indians, lost their continent to the British invasion. The same happened with South Africa.
Today, Great Britain, by its own hand, watches itself change from “British” to Middle Eastern Islamic right before its eyes. The same goes for Norway, Sweden, Holland, Belgium, France, Canada, Australia and Spain.
While academics and social elites call it “multiculturalism and diversity”, such numbers of humanity racing into first world countries—flood host countries with incompatible cultures, religions and sheer numbers.
But today, another aspect of mass migration percolates to the surface, but nobody wants to talk about it much less deal with it. Top leaders of every country avoid addressing it at all costs. Average citizens don’t know it exists much less understand its growing ramifications.
For example, Great Britain today, already crowded beyond sustainability, houses 61 million people on its tiny islands with a sum total landmass smaller than the State of Oregon. Nonetheless, they continue importing people that will add a projected 11 million additions within two decades. No one will whisper a word about it and no one knows when the additions will stop or if Britain will choose to or be able to stop them. Since the third world adds 80 million people annually, there is no end of the line for the numbers of desperate humanity.
Great Britain provides a 21st century rendition of Easter Island’s legendary population debacle back in the 1800s.
Holland provides another rendition in that it houses 18 million people in a tiny landmass about 90 miles wide by 180 miles long. They must import everything into their country in order to feed, warm, house and transport themselves. They cannot sustain 18 million people on such a tiny landmass without total dependence on the outside world.
Today, China, adding 8.1 million net gain annually, buys farmland in Africa and South America in order to feed its projected addition of 300 million by 2050—a scant 38 years.
Can America withstand the coming transformation of itself?
In the past 40 years, America endured immigration that added 100 million people by October of 2008 to the lower 48 states. This country, at present rates of mass migration, will add another 100 million people by 2035. We will add another 38 million on top of that by 2050. Total: 438 million from our current 315 million. (Sources: PEW Hispanic Center, “US Population Projections” Fogel/Martin, US Census Bureau)
On July 11, 2012, ABC’s anchor Diane Sawyer reported on New York adding two to five million more residents in the coming decades. She said that 300 square foot apartments would be the norm of the future. A 300 square foot apartment equals the size of two car parking spaces. Is this the kind of transformation we want as individuals and communities? Do we want to repeat Rome’s path? Great Britain’s? China’s? India’s? Mexico’s?
How will adding another 100 million people within 38 years help our water, energy, resources, standard of living and quality of life?
If allowed to proceed, this transformation will affect every aspect of our freedom, quality of life, environment and the planet itself. None of it positive!
The EU’s unilateral sanctions come after the United States targeted Iran with a set of sanctions against the country’s Central Bank and a number of individuals and companies and threatened to penalize the foreign firms and banks which have financial transactions with Iranian counterparts.
The sanctions are not unprecedented and unexpected for the Iranians, as the United States began to cut off its economic deals with Iran since the Islamic Revolution of 1979 which toppled the Washington-backed Shah; however, what is new and surprising is that the United States and its European allies are extraordinarily intensifying the sanctions, tightening the noose around the ordinary Iranians who are unquestionably the innocent and silent victims of the West’s vitriolic animosity with Iran.
Perhaps what the majority of people in different countries think about Iran’s nuclear program which is the main cause of the West’s hostility with Iran is inspired by the mainstream media’s coverage of the developments in the country. After the painful 9/11 attacks which was followed by George W. Bush’s initiation of the War on Terror plan, the corporate media began to disseminate and foster anti-Iranian sentiments as part of their agenda for demonizing the Muslims and Muslim-majority countries. Iran was dubbed as one of the elements of the so-called Axis of Evil by President Bush during his 2002 State of the Union address and a venomous media campaign against Iran was set in motion afterwards.
Aggrandizing the shortcomings and internal problems, frequently accusing the country of violating human rights, propagating the idea that Iran has become an isolated and reclusive country and portraying a distorted and falsified image of Iranian people and their lifestyle constituted the core of Western mainstream media’s coverage of Iran over the past years. Such a biased coverage laid the groundwork for the United States and its allies to put an excessive pressure on Iran, work to further isolate the country, adopt crippling sanctions against her and even drum-beat for a possible military invasion with the final objective of a regime change in Tehran.
President Bush and his successor who came to power with the flaunting and pompous slogan of “change” identically pursued a policy of antagonism with Iran and although the latter had vowed to take up reconciliation and détente with Iran, he exactly imitated what his predecessor has done.
On September 30, 2006, the U.S. Congress ratified the Iran Freedom and Support Act which allocated $10 million to anti-Iranian groups both inside and outside the country who were seeking to overthrow the Iranian government.
On May 27, 2007, Daily Telegraph quoted intelligence sources as reporting that President Bush had given the CIA approval to launch covert “black” operations to achieve regime change in Iran. According to the British paper, Bush had signed an official document endorsing CIA plans for a campaign of propaganda and disinformation intended to destabilize and eventually topple the Islamic Republic government.
Bush’s plan also included covert support for notorious terrorist gangs such as Jundallah and MKO which over the past years have carried out several terrorist operations across Iran, claiming the lives of tens of innocent civilians. The main goal of these cults is to sabotage Iran’s security and pave the way for the United States and its allies to invade Iran and implement their perilous plans for the country.
According to an ABC News report published on May 22, 2007, some former officials in the Bush administration who spoke on the condition of anonymity revealed that the U.S. government had designed plans for manipulating the value of Iran’s currency and damaging its international financial transactions.
They also unveiled that the U.S. government which has been involved in several regime change operations in such countries as Syria, Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Greece, Chile, Argentina, Afghanistan, Turkey, Poland and Nicaragua since the World War I had authorized a $400 million covert operation to create unrest in Iran, especially following the 2009 presidential election in which the defeated candidates claimed that the results had been rigged.
At the same time, however, the leaders of the United States and the European states who imposed upon Iran a set of relentless biting sanctions hypocritically talk of friendship with the Iranian nation and state that they seek rapprochement and camaraderie with Iran.
In his March 2009 videotaped message to the Iranian people on the occasion of Persian New Year (Nowrouz), the U.S. President Obama adored Persian culture, civilization, arts and literature and overtly cajoled Iranians with the aim of persuading them to confide in the United States and its policies vis-à-vis Iran: ” In particular, I would like to speak directly to the people and leaders of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Nowruz is just one part of your great and celebrated culture. Over many centuries your art, your music, literature and innovation have made the world a better and more beautiful place… Here in the United States our own communities have been enhanced by the contributions of Iranian Americans. We know that you are a great civilization, and your accomplishments have earned the respect of the United States and the world.”
Thereafter, he turned to the leaders of Iran to reach out to them directly: “we have serious differences that have grown over time. My administration is now committed to diplomacy that addresses the full range of issues before us, and to pursuing constructive ties among the United States, Iran and the international community. This process will not be advanced by threats. We seek instead engagement that is honest and grounded in mutual respect.”
President Obama appreciated Iranian culture and talked of his commitment to diplomacy and negotiations with Iran; however, by the end of the same year, he authorized the renewal of the long-standing U.S. financial sanctions against Iran, provoking a wave of anger and disappointment among Iranians.
In the following years, President Obama recorded similar videotaped messages on the occasion of Nowrouz, and despite the fact that his tone got unsympathetic over time, he still insisted on his being concerned for the Iranians and their “rights.”
With regards to Iran, the Western politicians, including President Obama, seemingly follow a modus operandi of “divide and rule.” They want to separate the Iranian government and people and pretend that they care for the interests of the Iranians, and at the same time, oppose the policies of the government; a government which they say has long repressed its own people, while the reality proves otherwise.
Now, the gist of Iran-West standoff can be expressed this way: the United States and its allies demand that Iran should give up its nuclear rights and make other concessions. Iran doesn’t accept these demands, calling them illegitimate and beyond its liability. The West doesn’t spare any effort to punish Iran: sanctions, assassination of its nuclear scientists, passing resolutions in the UN Security Council, psychological operations and other punitive measures. Iranians have firmly tolerated the pressures to show that they don’t give in to bullying. The future is unclear and blurred; however, what is certain is that the ones who bear the burden of West’s hostility toward Iran are the ordinary people.
The sanctions have targeted Iran’s medical sector. Aside from the official data which show that many European countries have banned the shipment of different medicines to Iran, my personal observations prove that Iran is direly running out of sensitive medical products, including medicine for psychological patients, those who suffer from various types of cancer, diabetes, hemophilia, thalassemia, multiple sclerosis and heart diseases. I’ve personally encountered patients who needed medicine from countries such as Canada and Belgium, but as a result of the sanctions, they couldn’t find them. Aren’t such diabolical sanctions contrary to the principles of human rights? Why don’t those who preach human rights and democracy take the fact into consideration that banning the export of medicine to a country whose people are in dire need of such products is simply a collective punishment of innocent civilians?
Every year, tens of Iranian citizens are killed in painful air accidents, which is a direct result of the U.S.-engineered sanctions against Iran. According to the U.S. sanctions which were implemented almost 30 years ago, the European aviation companies are not allowed to sell aircrafts to Iran and the aging fleet of Iranian airlines cannot accommodate the growing demand of the people for safe and secure air travels. According to the chancellor of Amir Kabir University of Iran, the country needs at least 600 civilian aircraft, but no country sells Iran such a huge number of aircrafts and the people always travel via Iranian airliners in an atmosphere of trepidation and anxiety.
Overall, what is clear is that the sanctions game started by the U.S. and its European allies has no winner. It simply blackens the image of the Western superpowers in the eye of Iranian people and makes them believe that the United States and its cronies cannot ever be trusted.
As soon as I heard the news I suspected the score. “Far-Right extremists!” screamed the media pack, but my hunch was right: the murderer of a rabbi and three children at a Jewish school near Toulouse, and of three French soldiers only days earlier, was not French. He was a French citizen of Algerian descent, as we now know, but his allegiance and his identity had nothing to do with passports and ID cards.
Mohammed Merah (23), who was killed at his apartment on Thursday after a 30-hour standoff, was a Muslim—one of at least twenty million who now inhabit the European Union. The “context” was duly provided by The New York Times: “Much of the concern about domestic terrorism in Britain, Belgium, Germany and France has focused on these young people, who may have had little formal religious education but are susceptible to calls for jihad, especially when their own lives have been marked by disappointment, crime, racism and joblessness.”
The suggested narrative about this “soft-spoken and alienated youth” is clear:
- Had Mr. Merah and his ilk had more “formal religious training,” they would have been less likely to kill, maim or otherwise harm their infidel fellow citizens because they would have become good Muslims, which is to say peaceful, tolerant and compassionate.
- Had the infidel host-society been less racist and had it provided “jobs”—which Mr. Merah and millions of other young “European Muslims” like him would no doubt eagerly take in lieu of welfare—they would not have succumbed to the lure of jihad.
The variants on the theme of “racism” as the root of all evil in France are too numerous to quote or hyperlink. The Associated Press report, carried by dozens of newspapers all over the United States, took note of the supposedly “chronic and ambient discrimination within French society.” The Islamist terrorist and the neo-Nazi, for La Stampa’s editorialist, are “two opposite nightmares which live side by side.” According to The Scotsman, “the neo-Nazi threat” is real and by no means diminished by the killer’s identity. “France is a deeply racist country, and Toulouse will only make that worse” was Adrian Hamilton’s headline in The Independent, with the French merely transferring their resentments from Jews to Arabs.
This is all predictable liberal nonsense. The key neglected aspect of the Merah case is that he should have been marked, tracked, and prevented from carrying his murderous plans years ago. We now know that Merah had traveled to Pakistan and Afghanistan to undergo terrorist training in Pakistan’s tribal areas along the Afghan border, but what happened next is unclear. French investigator say that he was arrested in Afghanistan and handed to the United States military, which “put him on the first plane headed back to France.” A Pentagon spokesman on detainee issues confirmed that he had been taken into custody by the police in Kandahar a few years ago, but that it remained unclear whether he had been released or turned over to American, French or some other NATO nation control after that.
The reason for confusion was revealed by The New York Times, which noted that Merah would have been difficult to track as he moved around the world, “because he left the country as a French citizen and had a French passport [and] could have returned through a third country like Turkey or Thailand to avoid detection.”
The problem of Muslim terrorists with Western passports is not new, and the solution exists: European countries (as well as the United States) need laws that will treat a Muslim citizen’s links with Islamic extremism—amply documented in Merah’s case—as grounds for the removal of citizenship and deportation to the suspect’s country of origin, or in Merah’s case his parents’ country of origin. The only obstacle to such reasonable and morally as well as legally justified course is the self-destructive mindset of the Western liberal society itself.
Once it is accepted that a bona fide Islamist cannot and should not be a citizen of a secular Western state—and that realization will eventually sink in, after dozens, perhaps hundreds more lives are lost—the political will can be easily translated into legislation. Those who preach or promote jihad from Marseilles to Malmo, and advocate the introduction of sharia in the non-Muslim host-societies, can and should be treated in exactly the same manner as ideological extremists of other hues who preach violence. It will be a long and hard struggle to open the eyes of legislators and legal regulators that Islam itself is a radical, revolutionary ideology, inherently seditious and inimical to Western values and institutions, but it can be done. If France now gets closer to that realization, Merah’s victims will not have died in vain.
Other necessary measures would then follow, such as preventing illegal invasion and not only halting but reversing “legal” immigration from the Muslim world into Europe, North America and the Antipodes. For those who stay, introducing profiling is essential: not all Muslims are terrorists, but all significant transnational terrorist networks that threaten Western countries’ national security and way of life are composed of Muslims. Merah’s case is a timely reminder that a person’s appearance, origin, and apparent or suspected beliefs should raise red flags at airport security checkpoints and elsewhere. Routine profiling needs to be legitimized as an essential tool of trade of law enforcement. The possession of a Western passport should no longer be treated as a potential terrorist’s “right,” and must not exempt him from due scrutiny.
The only French political figure of prominence capable of understanding the necessity of such measures is Marine Le Pen. Le Pen, currently ranked third in the polls of presidential candidates for the April 22 election, says France must “wipe out” the Islamist threat and accused the authorities of systematically minimizing it. “We have underestimated the rise of radical Islam in our country,” Le Pen said. “We didn’t want to see it, out of weakness or for electoral reasons…”
After a grim week for France it is to be expected that her message will be heard more clearly than before.
On Jan. 26, 2012, the European Union and 22 member states signed the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA), Japan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs announced. They have now joined the US and seven other nations that signed the treaty last October.
Though initiated by the US, Japan is the official depository of the treaty.
Removal of the Three Strikes clause, in which users accused of three counts of piracy would be barred from the Internet, paved the way for the EU to adopt ACTA last month.
Related to ACTA, a chapter in the Trans Pacific Partnership Agreement (TPP) “would have state signatories adopt even more restrictive copyright measures than ACTA,” reports the Electronic Frontier Foundation.
Both ACTA and TPP were developed without public input and outside international trade groups, like the World Trade Organization and the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development.
Leaked cables published by Wikileaks in 2009 exposed early drafts of ACTA, resulting in a firestorm of controversy. Those cables, coupled with later releases, showed that ACTA negotiations began in 2006 and were controversial even to participating states. An historical summary of the treaty’s progress through December can be found here.
ACTA Violates Magna Carta and US Constitution
Like PIPA and SOPA, two domestic internet censorship bills that prompted major websites to blacken their name or website in a Jan. 18th protest, ACTA allows accusers of copyright infringement to bypass judicial review.
Please support my work by reading the full piece at Activist Post. Thanks!
Special Note: Obviously, an entire book could be written on this subject, which is a task beyond the scope of this article. The purpose of the following piece is to give those with financial difficulty a foothold on prepping without added pain. It is meant to be a starting point, not a compendium.
A friend of mine took note recently that a large portion of activists involved in the Liberty Movement had hit extremely hard times, or had been struggling financially even before the general economic collapse began to take hold. He asked me my theory on why it was that so many of us are always so broke. I could only relate that it is almost always the working class poor in any society that first sees the effects of a corrupt government and a faulty economic system. Those who legitimately hold to the principles of self sustainment, and fair play, are usually the first to be stabbed in the back by the establishment, and so, they are the first to become politically active against it. That is to say, sometimes we have to lose almost everything before we are able to see the bigger picture.
While I consider this fact a source of solace in these extraordinarily hard times, it still does little to put food on the table, or survival gear in the bug-out-bag.
The overall consensus within the prepper community is that survival planning is expensive, and yes, it certainly can be. Another consensus is that you “get what you pay for”; also true…to a point. My belief is that while no prepping model is free of expense or of quality concerns, perhaps there is a middle road that activists with thin wallets can take which will provide solid gear for less money, and that will serve most of the functions of high-end gear that is ten times as expensive. Let’s examine a foundation list of those items that can help get you started now….
Backpack (Bug Out Bag)
You can literally spend hundreds of dollars on many top-of-the-line framed backpacks, and some may even be worth it, but it is not necessary to spend that kind of cash to purchase a decent bug-out-bag. In fact, surplus ALICE packs with frames can be had online for as little as $30-$60, sometimes even less if they are a bit worn. The ALICE system provides adequate back support for your needs, for a low price, and the quality of the design is military proven.
Camouflage clothing and gear runs a wide spectrum in price, and it’s hard sometimes to find the colors you want at a discount. One trick is to buy any camo you find on the cheap, and then lightly dye it to match the colors you want. For instance, one could gauge the dye levels with small samples, find the right strength, and then dye light camo like Digital ACU a darker green. Eventually, you may be able to make your own camo with any clothing you come across. It sounds like a pain, but it’s actually quite easy, and could save you considerable amounts of money.
Extreme Weather Protection
Gortex is outrageously expensive, unless you get lucky and find it used or discounted. While it is difficult to beat the quality (or the warrantee) on most Gortex cold weather gear, there are cheaper alternatives that get the job done almost as well. A great extreme cold weather coat is the N-2B Flight Jacket designed to mil spec and resistant to most wet weather conditions. The jacket was meant specifically to deflect freezing temperatures and it can be had for around $120 or less.
Purchasing several packages of polypropylene thermal underwear could also save your life in extreme weather situations. They are lightweight, can be easily layered, can be packed into a tiny corner of your B.O.B., and will retain much of your body heat. Even if you don’t have a lot of winter gear with you, absolutely do not forget to bring the poly-wear! $30-$50 for a shirt and pants together is well worth it.
Finally, buy wool socks. Buy plenty. Look for deals, but do not cut them out of your budget. Any weather below 20 Degrees Fahrenheit and you’ll want to double up. Cold feet, on a march, on patrol, on guard duty, sucks. They can be damaged permanently if you are not careful.
Top quality combat boots traditionally run anywhere from $100 to $300 depending on the brand. One rule that you cannot break regardless of the circumstances; always treat your feet right. They hold up your entire body. Surplus boots are a good place to start when looking to cut costs, but usually you won’t be saving much. To be honest, there are plenty of knockoff combat boots found in sporting goods stores, usually in the hiking section, that are just as durable as the expensive models but for much less. You can go far in a pair of $60 boots. Be sure, though, to thoroughly check for poor sewing on the seams, crap laces, and light construction. If they feel heavy, they are probably made well enough.
Unless you have your own oil well, or a line on a hidden vein of coal (some preppers I have met actually do), then your best bet for efficient heat during the winter weather in a tent, a makeshift shelter, or a house, is a wood burning stove. Timber fuel sources are everywhere. A couple cords of wood are enough to heat most homes and shelters through the colder months.
Gasoline and propane storage is possible, but the likelihood of shortage is high, and arranging a practical supply lasting a year or more is incredibly expensive. Solar power systems and battery banks are recommended, but again, this is another option that requires moderate to substantial investment when it comes to heating a house. A very affordable alternative for your heating needs would be the M-1941 Military Tent Stove. The cylindrical stove is portable, burns quite hot, and can be had usually for $100 or less.
Some knives deserve the amount of attention and the high price tag they have garnered, but many are just….well….regular knives with a fancy name engraved in the blade. You are buying a knife for its functionality, not its sex appeal. Gerber, SOG, and Kershaw make plenty of knives which work just as well for $80 or less than any $400 cord wrapped Strider knife. Again, pay for the tool, not the name or the artificial commercial mystic.
Good HAM radios, base stations to handheld models, can be had for around $200-$300, but even this amount is sometimes too high for a limited prepper budget. Unless you plan to coordinate operations over longer distances using repeaters, or set up a HAM alert system with multiple members of your community, regular two-way radios costing around $40 to $60 like those produced by Midland should suffice for communications. Consumer models often advertize an effective range of 20 to 30 miles, but this is in totally flat terrain. If you can get five miles out of them in rough terrain, you are doing well. This range is adequate to handle most tasks required during a survival situation.
Gas powered generators are unnecessary in long term survival situations, primarily because the amount of fuel they use is impractical and the noise many of them produce could make having electricity a daily temptation of fate. Solar is really the best way to go. Unfortunately, many people assume solar power solutions to be too technical and overwhelming. In fact, setting up a solar power system is so straight forward it makes all the prepper uneasiness a bit laughable.
A simple and comparably affordable set-up would include one 180 Watt solar panel (which can quickly charge your battery bank during the day), one deep cycle battery, a charge controller, and an inverter. This kit can be had for $600 to $1000, is compact enough to fit in a medium Rubbermaid storage bin, and will power almost every appliance and charge every electronic device that would make life easier during a collapse. Remember also that every Watt of power you produce by the sun reduces your on-grid electric bill, saving you even more money.
At the very least, a portable solar powered battery charger is a must have item. Doing without gear like radios and flashlights is simply not an option. Going caveman is the most ill conceived method for living through the worst of all possible situations.
Pre-made mini survival kits are a rip off. Most of the items they contain (matches, fishing line, compass, small knife, firestarter, wire saw, water purification tablets, etc.) can be easily purchased separately for half the cost. Making your own mini-kit is also a good exercise in efficiency. Being able to prioritize gear and understand what is truly useful versus what is a waste of space is as important a skill as being able to shoot or navigate a map. It does not take a lot of money to build a solid base kit for emergencies….unless you buy one that somebody made for you.
Emergency Medical Kit
Again, all items within most pre-made medical kits can be bought individually for much less. Celox blood stopper, silk sutures, surgical tools, transfusion bags, and other goods should be added in with the staples, raising the cost slightly, but rounding out your kit and allowing for more critical injuries to be cared for. Bulk over the counter medications, especially for stomach ailments, would be highly valuable post collapse, and can be bought wholesale. Medicinal teas, at least the organic brands, work very well! These can be bought for reasonable prices and will boost your immune system, preventing illness before it ever occurs.
If you have enough land to keep them, a half dozen chickens, a half dozen breeding rabbits, and a goat, will produce milk, meat, and eggs daily, providing valuable sustenance, reducing the amount of stored foods you need to use in a day, and reducing the amount of time you have to spend hunting for food in a dangerous collapse environment. Chickens and goats practically feed themselves with whatever is available on your land. Rabbit feed is easy to store, and can also be made at home. These animals are indeed worth their weight in gold.
Seeds are, of course, a currency in and of themselves. Non-GMO seed and strong gardening knowledge will save you and your family. Gardening is not as easy as it seems, however. Extensive practice, trial and error, and an understanding of regional climates will improve your crop yields dramatically.
If you are looking to survive on the cheap and avoid paying thousands of dollars for years worth of freeze dried goods, sustainable food production is the only way to go. Foraging and scavenging is NOT a reliable alternative.
Trip wires and tin cans are certainly cheaper than thermal security cameras, and a few well trained guard dogs can put your mind at ease, but sometimes more silent or less obvious methods are in order. I would recommend the MURS radio and infrared alert system for perimeter defense. As far as force multipliers go, MURS is relatively inexpensive. MURS motion detectors are wireless, weather proof, have a beam range of around 100 ft, and can be placed up to 4 miles away from your radio base station. Intruders crossing the infrared beam will set off an alert on your base station and all MURS handheld radios. Some MURS systems even have underground probes designed to detect the movement of vehicles. Up to four motion sensors can be linked to one base station and each can be designated for a sector, telling you exactly where on your property the intrusion is occurring. A full MURS system with multiple motion detectors can be had for $300 or less. Other comparable outdoor security systems often cost $500 or more.
The price range of night vision devices is truly staggering. Some can run as little as a few hundred dollars, others climb into the thousands. For the prepper with low cash flow who feels the need for night time security, a couple models offer good quality at a lower price.
For typical surveillance and overwatch, the Bushnell 2.5 by 42 night vision monocular creates a strong image with quality construction for around $200.
For combat, the Yukon Nvmt Night Vision Scope offers many of the advantages of high end systems for only $350 or less.
Night vision may seem like an unnecessary expense, even at these prices, but any edge one can get in survival is a good thing. Being at a disadvantage monetarily does not mean you have to be at a disadvantage tactically.
Yes. Guns. Big-scary-guns. Guns and survival go hand in hand, especially during an economic or social collapse. To bring up guns in a prepping article almost always draws criticism of militancy and extremism from suburban basted over-privileged adolescent hippies who have read “Into The Wild” way too many times and think survival is about “communing with nature”. Sorry kids, but as much as I love nature, as soon as you turn your back on it, you end up a pre-digested meal spread like almond butter across 30 acres of grizzly valley. On the other side of the coin, firearms analysis always draws endless opinions and puffy chested “expertise” from armchair generals and “invincible special-ops superheroes”.
Frankly, after years of survival writing, you stop caring what other people think. That said, for those of us with limited resources (of which I would include myself), firearms purchases are much less about technical proficiency and more about affordability.
I won’t be delving into sidearms here. Instead we’ll focus on what you cannot conceivably live without. Purchasing a primary battle rifle should always be the prepper’s first concern as far as firearms go, whether he is rich or poor. Semi-automatic, accurate, reliable, hard to damage, fires a common military caliber (.223, 7.62 by 39, .308). There’s your list. Finding cheap rifles that meet that list is another matter, but here are a few that come pretty close:
A Spanish made .308 semi automatic rifle with a similar design to the HK G3. Many in circulation have been pieced together with surplus parts, and it is wise to get yours checked out by a trusted gunsmith. A little tuning may be required. Otherwise, a pretty solid 300 yard gun running at $450 to $600.
The FAL is a Belgium made semi auto .308 rifle. Accurate and well made. Effective range of around 700 yards. Can be found for $600 to $800.
Will you look like a terrorist holding this gun? Yes. But beyond that, the AK is synonymous with dependability, and affordability. Though gun prices the past few years have skyrocketed in ridiculous fashion, the AK 47, a 7.62 by 39 caliber rifle, can still be found for around $300 to $600 depending on the make, the age, and the honesty of your dealer. This is not a very accurate gun beyond 100 yards. Can you hit a man sized target beyond 100 yards with an AK? Yes. Can you do it accurately and consistently? No. You want pinpoint sniper accuracy from a Russian made weapon? Get a Dragunov. You want a close quarters weapon that you can clean with a dish rag and motor oil and still have it fire? Get an AK.
The SKS used to be a good deal. Four years ago you couldn’t spit without hitting one priced at around $200. Nowadays, many gunshops are fishing for $400 to $500. Do not pay this for any SKS. It is not a $500 gun. It is a $200 to $300 gun. Period. Deals can still be found if you are patient. The 7.62 by 39 rifle is relatively accurate and solidly built. The bayonet is a bit of a pain, but removing it is apparently an ATF no no. Technically you are required to remove the bayonet mounting lug and the grenade launcher attachment along with the blade for the gun to be legal (I’m not going to go into the absurdity of ATF assault rifle guidelines). Honestly, if you don’t like the bayonet, just take it off, and don’t let any of your ATF buddies shoot it at the range.
Another rifle that used to be a good deal, now ruined by overenthusiastic gun shop owners. Private sale at a gun show is the only way lately to find this rifle at its traditionally suitable price of $350 to $450. Gun shops today will ask $600 to $800. The .223 rifle, designed after the M1 Garand, is light, easy to wield, and pretty accurate out to 300 yards. Lighter ammo means more rounds can be carried at a time.
Long Range Sniper Systems
For long range at an affordable price, you just can’t go wrong with Savage Arms. The company has maintained the great quality of its products, kept their prices low despite the Obama gun boom, and most of their rifles compete equally with guns twice as expensive. One issue to keep in mind, though, is optics, which can sometimes cost as much as the gun itself if you are not careful. Long range shooting platforms are essential for a small force defending against a larger or better supplied enemy. The more you can increase your standoff distance when at a disadvantage, the better chance you have of survival. One or two long range experts can wreak havoc on a seemingly unstoppable foe, making the cost of operations so high the enemy begins to question the practicality of moving forward. In collapse environments, snipers, amateur to professional, always come out of the woodwork to dominate the landscape. Preppers have the ability to counter this threat, and with very inexpensive firearms.
SAVAGE MODEL 10
This is a .308 sniper system commonly found with a precision stock and a heavy barrel. Range of around 800 yards. Can be found for $600 to $700. Modified systems come more expensive, but the standard model is all you need.
A highly accurate rifle utilizing the effective 300 Win Mag cartridge. Range exceeding 1000 yards. Can usually be found for around $700.
SAVAGE 111 BA
The “long range hunter” model of the Savage 111 in .338 Lapua costing less than $1000. The .338 is an incredible cartridge with an effective range of about 1 mile. The Savage has been found comparable to sniper systems three times as expensive. The only problem with the .338 is the price of the ammo, which usually runs around $60 to $70 for a box of 20 rounds, almost twice as expensive as 300 Win Mag. Man, does that sting! This rifle should be considered a poor man’s substitute for the .50 Cal, a rifle that will always be undeniably expensive, considering one round usually sets you back $4 to $5. If you want the capability of a .50 Cal but not a quite so outrageous ammo price, the Savage is your best bet.
Procrastination Is Something We Cannot Afford
Preparation is not limited to the realm of the rich. Ultimately, survivalists with limited incomes must pursue their prepping MORE vigorously than those with expendable cash exactly because they are at a greater disadvantage. Being poor is no excuse for procrastination. Great gear can be had for little money, as long as purchases are approached intelligently. Budgeting for survival is not an enterprise for some future date in which we imagine ourselves to be better off than we are now. It should be a part of our daily life, even when times are tough.
Self discipline gets things done. Making a plan and then sticking to that plan despite our inner weaknesses and apprehensions gives greater returns in the long run. This method not only earns the respect we hold for ourselves, but also the respect others hold for us. The flaky and indecisive cannot be relied upon. The gravity of the socio-political situation we face in the near term demands that we shake off our fears and our apathy, step out of our baby cradle comfort zone, and MAKE THINGS HAPPEN. Backing out is not an option. Otherwise, we simply defeat ourselves, and we let each other down.
Source: Brandon Smith | AltMarket
S&P cut the long-term US rating by one notch to AA+ with a negative outlook, citing concerns about budget deficits.
The agency said the deficit reduction plan passed by the US Congress on Tuesday did not go far enough.
Correspondents say the downgrade could erode investors’ confidence in the world’s largest economy.
It is already struggling with huge debts, unemployment of 9.1% and fears of a possible double-dip recession.
The downgrade is a major embarrassment for the administration of President Barack Obama and could raise the cost of US government borrowing.
This in turn could trickle down to higher interest rates for local governments and individuals.
Robert PestonBusiness editor, BBC News…
The US losing its AAA rating matters. It is a very loud statement that there has been an appreciable increase in the risk – which might still be tiny, but it exists – that the US might one day struggle to pay back all it owes. Another important certainty in the world of finance has gone.
Of course many will argue – and already have – that the record of ratings agencies such as Standard & Poor’s of getting these things right in recent years has been lamentably poor. Think of all the subprime CDO products rated AAA by S&P that turned out to be garbage.
But S&P, Moody’s and Fitch (and particularly the first two) still have a privileged official position in the world of finance: they determine what collateral can be taken by central banks from commercial banks, when those central banks lend to commercial banks.
However, some analysts said with debt woes across much of the developed world, US debt remained an attractive option for investors.
The other two major credit rating agencies, Moody’s and Fitch, said on Friday night they had no immediate plans to follow S&P in taking the US off their lists of risk-free borrowers.
Officials in Washington told US media that the agency’s sums were deeply flawed.
Unnamed sources were quoted as saying that a treasury official had spotted a $2 trillion [£1.2 trillion] mistake in the agency’s analysis.
“A judgment flawed by a $2tn error speaks for itself,” a US treasury department spokesman said of the S&P analysis. He did not offer any immediate explanation.
John Chambers, chairman of S&P’s sovereign ratings committee, told CNN that the US could have averted a downgrade if it had resolved its congressional stalemate earlier.
“The first thing it could have done is raise the debt ceiling in a timely matter so the debate would have been avoided to begin with,” he said.
International reaction to the S&P move has been mixed.
China, the world’s largest holder of US debt, had “every right now to demand the United States address its structural debt problems and ensure the safety of China’s dollar assets,” said a commentary in the official Xinhua news agency.
“International supervision over the issue of US dollars should be introduced and a new, stable and secured global reserve currency may also be an option to avert a catastrophe caused by any single country,” the commentary said.
However, officials in Japan, South Korea and Australia have urged a calm response to the downgrade.
The S&P announcement comes after a week of turmoil on global stock markets, partly triggered by fears over the US economy’s recovery and the eurozone crisis.
S&P had threatened the downgrade if the US could not agree to cut its federal debt by at least $4tn over the next decade.
Instead, the bill passed by Congress on Tuesday plans $2.1tn in savings over 10 years.
S&P said the Republicans and Democrats had only been able to agree “relatively modest savings”, which fell “well short” of what had been envisaged.
The agency also noted that the legislation delegates the lion’s share of savings to a bipartisan committee, which must report back to Congress in November on where the axe should fall.
The bill – which also raises the federal debt ceiling by up to $2.4tn, from $14.3tn, over a decade – was passed on Tuesday just hours before the expiry of a deadline to raise the US borrowing limit.
S&P ratings (selected)
- AAA: UK, France, Germany, Canada, Australia
- AA+: USA, Belgium, New Zealand
- AA-: Japan, China
S&P said in its report issued late on Friday: “The downgrade reflects our opinion that the fiscal consolidation plan that Congress and the administration recently agreed to falls short of what, in our view, would be necessary to stabilise the government’s medium-term debt dynamics.
“More broadly, the downgrade reflects our view that the effectiveness, stability, and predictability of American policymaking and political institutions have weakened at a time of ongoing fiscal and economic challenges.”
The agency said it might lower the US long-term rating another notch to AA within the next two years if its deficit reduction measures were deemed inadequate.
S&P noted that the bill passed by Congress this week did not include new revenues – Republicans had staunchly opposed President Barack Obama’s calls for tax rises to help pay off America’s deficit.
The credit agency also noted that the legislation contained only minor policy changes to Medicare, an entitlement programme dear to Democrats.
“The political brinksmanship of recent months highlights what we see as America’s governance and policymaking becoming less stable, less effective, and less predictable than what we previously believed,” it added.
Nobody really wants to speak about it, let alone write about our pending ordeal: we are turning America into parallel societies. That condition stampedes toward us faster than anyone understands or comprehends. Once it is completed, we will all become victims.
T. R. Kelly said, “I still believe that the radical transformation of the U.S. through our immigration policy is the primary driving force behind this chaos, conflict, and division that probably will continue for the rest of this century. The 1965 Immigration policy is an assault, conquest, and destruction of the founding nation and the Republic—meant to turn us into this multi-racial, multi-lingual, multi-cultural, and multi-nation country.”
In other words, the United States of America finds itself being turned into a polyglot of societies with no national allegiance or identity. It’s moving at breakneck speed as the U.S. Congress imports 3.1 million legal and illegal immigrants annually along with their 900,000 births each year—on course to add 72-75 million immigrants by 2035—a scant 24 years from now. (Source: www.cis.org)
You may remember the famous speech that Colorado Governor Richard D. Lamm gave at the Federation for American Immigration Reform in October 2003:
“Here is how they destroyed their countries,” Lamm said. “First, turn America into a bilingual or multi lingual and bicultural country. History shows that no nation can survive the tension, conflict and antagonism of two or more competing languages and cultures. It is a blessing for an individual to be bilingual; however, it is a curse for a society to be bilingual. The historical scholar Seymour Lipset put it this way, “The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon—all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. Nigeria suppressed an ethnic rebellion. France faces difficulties with Basques, Bretons and Corsicans.”
Today, France can no longer claim to be French. Great Britain can no longer enjoy being British. The same goes for Norway, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Austria, Canada and Australia.
Via their massive immigration policies, they have created parallel societies. No Frenchman dares or chooses to venture into the 70 “no go” zones dominated by Muslim immigrants around Paris.
London, England also features the Muslim Zone and the British Zone. Again, the British will not go into the “no go” Muslim Zone in London. It’s not safe.
None will write or speak about it, but 95 percent of the rapes in Norway and Sweden are committed by Muslim immigrants. My brother Rex has lived in Bergen, Norway for the past 25 years and he sent me those figures from a recent news report. Of course, the Muslim imams immediately called the reports “racist and bigoted.” Anyone who has watched honor killings to the tune of 5,000 Muslim women per year are killed by their husbands or brothers—understands the ordeal women suffer in Muslim lands. Women possess few basic rights within Islam. Where Sharia law dominates, women do not have any rights to education, free speech, voting, driving, walking outside or wearing clothing of their choice. Muslim men prove brutally abusive.
Each year, America breaks down its basic cohesive fabric by importing millions of immigrants that cannot inculcate nor adapt to Western free-thought, education and loyalty to the American way of life.
We face, as a civilization, four competing tribes that struggle for dominance in this agitated “salad bowl” called multiculturalism. The black-white issue has plagued America from the beginning. Racism has never been conquered by education, the Great Society or any programs to erase it. America lives with un-ease and separation wherever possible. Yes, blacks and whites play professional sports together, but everybody goes home to separate communities—for the most part.
As the demonstrations in Georgia over the weekend showed, 10,000 illegal immigrants showed their muscle in Atlanta by demonstrating that they will not tolerate law and order or legal citizenship. While they are illegal, their numbers are so great, they intend to take a stand against the U.S. Constitution and all American citizens. The Mexican/Hispanic separation will grow as their numbers will grow. Mexicans will become the dominate tribe by 2050. (Source: David Muir ABC News, June 26, 2011) You can already witness the parallel societies developed in places like Los Angeles, Miami, New York and Chicago. If you’re a Caucasian American, try to walk down those streets and feel welcomed.
Examples of parallel societies show themselves in America from our being forced to; “Press ‘1’ for Spanish and ‘2’ for English” on all commercial telephone answering services. Expect Arabic next.
The growing Muslim tribe may prove the most destructive of America’s loss of itself. No country in Europe has maintained itself or its culture and language in the face of the Islamic onslaught. Muslims don’t assimilate, learn the language or move seamlessly into the host country. They separate as well as force their customs and language onto the host country. Ironically, they out-birth host countries and begin to dominate by population numbers.
In America today, we see honor killings of wives and daughters. (Source: Ann Curry, NBC News, “Honor killings in America”) We see “no go” zones in Detroit, Michigan. We see female genital mutilation of immigrant girls. We see arranged marriages. We see 1,208 new mosques built within 20 years in America.
Finally, we see parallel societies developing as to illiteracy within the immigrant ranks. For example, Detroit, Michigan features a 76 percent dropout/flunkout rate from its immigrant dominated high schools. (Source: Brian Williams, NBC News, June 2009) Welfare dominates that 83 percent minority dominated city as to assisted housing, food stamps, free breakfasts and lunches, and free medical care paid for by you. Such situations show that 42 million people in America suffer functional illiteracy—they cannot read, write or perform simple math equations. America tolerates a growing parallel society of literates versus illiterates. Illiterates depend on welfare and our growing socialistic government.
Lamm continued on how to destroy America, “Invent ‘multiculturalism’ and encourage immigrants to maintain their own culture. I would make it an article of belief that all cultures are equal. That there are no cultural differences! I would make it an article of faith that the Black and Hispanic dropout rates are due to prejudice and discrimination by the majority. Every other explanation is out of bounds.”
Fellow Americans, are we as a civilization in trouble or what? Do you think we will survive this onslaught? What are you doing to stop it? Why haven’t 100 million Americans joined www.NumbersUSA.org to stop relentless immigration?
The following two videos should scare the hell out of you:
In a five minute astoundingly simple yet brilliant video, “Immigration, Poverty, and Gum Balls”, Roy Beck, director ofwww.numbersusa.ORG, graphically illustrates the impact of overpopulation. Take five minutes to see for yourself:
“Immigration by the numbers—off the chart” by Roy Beck
This 10 minute demonstration shows Americans the results of unending mass immigration on the quality of life and sustainability for future generations: in a word “Mind boggling!”
Have you noticed dozens of languages being spoken by citizens and illegal aliens in America? Do you feel the disrespect and the separation? Do you feel violated? Are you angry that new citizens and illegal aliens disrespect us so much that they refuse to learn our language? Have you heard the growing Spanish speaking TV and radio stations across the USA? Do you feel like your country is being stolen from you along with your language? Do you feel the confusion it creates?
It’s much worse. Former President Bill Clinton created Executive Order 13166 which is an un-legislated multilingual policy that requires all government agencies like the IRS, Social Security Administration, the INS, Department of Transportation, the Department of Justice, and others to print all documents in foreign languages and provide for non-English speaking people. It costs you millions of your taxpayer dollars to service foreigners who came to our country but will not honor that privilege by speaking English.
Over 329 languages are spoken in the United States making it impossible for all minority languages to be represented in such sectors as government, education and health care. Further, it creates separation and balkanization when you can’t speak to fellow Americans.
The cost of Executive Order 13166 in the healthcare sector alone stands at a staggering $267 million of your taxpayer dollars annually. In the last California governor election, over a dozen languages were represented on the voter ballot. Whose country is this anyway? Who is paying for it? YOU!
Former Colorado Governor Richard Lamm said, “A nation is much more than a place on a map. It is a state of mind, a shared vision, and a recognition that we are all in this together. A nation needs a common language as it needs a common currency. America has been successful because we have become one people. There is a social glue of a common language, a shared history, uniting symbols that tie us together. We live under a common flag, which we honor and salute.”
One scholar, Seymour Martin Lipset said, “The histories of bilingual and bicultural societies that do not assimilate are histories of turmoil, tension and tragedy. Canada, Belgium, Malaysia, Lebanon all face crises of national existence in which minorities press for autonomy, if not independence. Pakistan and Cyprus have divided. France faces difficulties with its Basques, Bretons and Corsicans.”
Lamm said, “Some people say Switzerland is an example of a successful bilingual country, but that claim does not survive close scrutiny. Switzerland has divided its geography into three separate areas, each of which has a common and dominant language—French, German and Italian.”
Immanuel Kant said, “Language and religion are the dividers.”
Why is EO 13166 a bad deal for Americans? It’s an outrageous rip-off for an American taxpayer as well as an administrative nightmare. It’s a monstrous burden to healthcare officials and a major injustice to immigrants. It will destroy national unity and our culture. From the melting pot, we are becoming a battle ground of language confrontation and conflict.
Cost? Hold on to your hat: Welfare/food stamp costs at $21 million for translators. Congressional Budget Office estimates costs at $150 million annually. Health care is $180.8 million for multilingual out-patient services, $78.2 million for multilingual in-patient services, $8.6 for multilingual emergency room services.
Taxpayer money funneled into Medicare is being diverted to pay for requirements to provide interpreter services. It’s killing doctor time with patients by forcing them into longer sessions with so much confusion. And, those illegal aliens are not paying for medical services. Taxpayers are!
But what about you? How do you feel about your country overrun by those who refuse to speak our language? How do you feel about your kids suffering a dozen or more foreign languages in their classrooms? It dumbs down the entire educational process for your kids. In Denver, Colorado where I live, 50 languages are spoken in our public schools. Consequently, 50 percent of the potential graduating class flunks out or drops out every year for the past five. The classroom chaos is so horrific, one in five Denver teachers quits or transfers every year. At North High School in Denver, they’re lucky if they can get half the 1,400 students to attend class each day. How do you think your kids suffer when someone that cannot speak English?
Four factors were required to make this Republic viable and the greatest success in the history of the world:
1. We have enjoyed a highly educated population.
2. We have a similar moral code which everyone follows.
3. We maintain a similar ethical standard for all citizens.
4. We have sustained one standard language so we can debate together and move forward together as a people.
Ladies and gentlemen of America—we are losing all four factors. If you look around you, we are losing the cohesive thread of our society at over four million legal and illegal immigrants annually. They are not assimilating nor are they speaking our language. The obvious result of that will be much like the Biblical story of the Tower of Babel. Once everyone couldn’t speak the same language, they argued, fought and separate into different factions. You’re seeing the same thing happen with blinding speed in America.
We must mandate that English is the only official language of America and that it is the only allowed language for all official documents, schools, voter registration, driver’s licenses and everything else. We need citizens who can read, write and speak English. We must demand it for citizenship. It matters little if you speak a dozen languages, but, if you’re an American, you speak English.
“The one absolutely certain way of bringing this nation to ruin, or preventing all possibility of its continuing as a nation at all, would be to permit it to become a tangle of squabbling nationalities and languages.” President Teddy Roosevelt
Of all the unwise and foolish things our U.S. Congress has imposed on the American people in the past 40 years, the late Teddy Kennedy’s 1965 Immigration Reform Act will prove the most dangerous piece of legislation for the continuance of the United States.
While George Washington enjoys the moniker as “Father of our country”, Kennedy may become known as the “Father of the destruction of our country.”
Not only did his bill ram an added 100 million immigrants into the United States in the past 40 years, it will cram another 100 million into this country by 2035—a scant 24 years from now.
Beyond the environmental overload as to ecological footprint, carbon footprint, water, energy and resources—we face another more ominous and deadly overload of incompatible cultures and religions. The wise philosopher Kant said, “Religion and language are the two great dividers.”
While benign religions like Buddhism settle into any civilization without antagonisms, the fastest growing religion in the world aggressively moves from its third world roots into first world countries with astounding speed. It has ransacked Europe’s tranquility. In France, police, firemen and citizens will not enter 750 “no go” zones now dominated by Muslims.
Islam advocates for barbaric martyrdom with suicide bombers, female genital mutilation, arranged marriages, female subjugation, honor killings at over 5,000 annually inside the Middle East, stonings, beheadings, acid throwing into women’s faces and no rights for women.
While it doesn’t advocate aggressively within a Western country at first, as its numbers grow, it demands more and more impregnation of Sharia Law. That law creates an entirely new economic, social and religious paradigm inside the host country. Muslims do not remain timid for long!
In 1990, less than 100,000 Muslims lived within the United States. In 2011, they boast over seven million. At 100,000 Muslims added to the USA annually, they will add one million every decade. But with their birthrates, they can expect to add five million Muslims within 20 to 30 years. At present, they have built 1,208 mosques across the USA. No women can walk inside the front doors. They must go to the side. No women can share worship with any men. No women can walk into a mosque with their faces showing.
As seen in the United Kingdom, with a scant 2.5 million, they are already instituting Sharia Law by forcing democratic law out of Islamic dominated areas of London.
In an oped at Investers.com, they published a piece “Beheading ourselves over Islam.”
“What can the U.S. do to quell the violent spasms of Islam? Promote Islam, naturally. At least that’s the thinking of this administration. It’s now official foreign policy,” opined Investers. “President Obama’s top Muslim envoy has been overseas encouraging devotion to Islam, including in terror hot spots like Afghanistan. In fact, Rashad Hussain, U.S. special envoy to the Organization of the Islamic Conference, just returned from Afghanistan, where he told locals the antidote to Islamic violence “is Islam itself.”
“I am of the opinion that one of the strongest tools that you can use to counter radicalization and violent extremism is Islam itself, because Islam rejects violent extremism,” Hussain said during a speech in Kabul.
“Afghans responded to his message by slaughtering a dozen innocent United Nations workers in the name of Islam,” wrote Investers. “Stirred by mosque sermons, a mob of thousands overran a U.N. compound in northern Afghanistan following Friday prayers. They sawed off the heads of two guards before killing the others, including Norwegian and Swedish nationals, inside. It was Afghanistan’s deadliest attack on U.N. personnel. The worshippers also burned American flags and effigies of Obama all to defend the honor of a single, paperback copy of a Quran torched by a quack U.S. preacher thousands of miles away in Florida. So far, more than 20 have died in the rioting.”
Islamic law is absolute
“Islamic law calls for vengeance against anybody who insults Islam, its prophet or its holy book. Islamic law is enshrined in the post-Taliban Afghan constitution. Yet Rashad, a devout Muslim, says the Muslim faith is “key” to the administration’s strategy to turn Muslims away from violence,” reported Investers.
“We see that as one of the key elements of a strategy to address this type of violence,” he said. By “we,” he means the Obama administration. So it’s now official policy to try to douse the Islamic fire of jihad by pouring more fuel on it. This is breathtaking.
“It found that Islam was catalyzing terrorists abroad and inside America’s Muslim community. And it scolded U.S. leaders for pretending otherwise. Still, Hussain insists: “When it comes to the problem of violent extremism, Islam is not the problem.”
If Americans expect to survive the 21st century with this nation intact, we need to shut down all Muslim immigration into this country. Any person can see that Islam has done to France, UK, Norway, Holland, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and Spain.
Do we want the constant confrontation of competing ethnic tribes, especially when America’s dominate white/black/Hispanic tribes do not possess the kind of religious zeal of Islam? Do we want to see our democratic laws degraded into Sharia Law? Do we want to see women’s rights flushed down the toilet? Do we want to see free speech and thought shut down? Do we want to see our free society morphed into a dictatorial society run by Islam that features its first tenet as: “Convert or kill all non-believers.” Koran
So far, as we immigrate millions of Muslims into America, we are choosing to lose America by our inaction, inability or apathy to speak up.
As Thomas Jefferson once said, “We have the wolf by the ears and we can neither hold him or let him go.” I suggest we take destiny into our hands by taking action.
This fascinating new study shows how the CIA and the British secret service, in collaboration with the military alliance NATO and European military secret services, set up a network of clandestine anti-communist armies in Western Europe after World War II.
These secret soldiers were trained on remote islands in the Mediterranean and in unorthodox warfare centres in England and in the United States by the Green Berets and SAS Special Forces. The network was armed with explosives, machine guns and high-tech communication equipment hidden in underground bunkers and secret arms caches in forests and mountain meadows. In some countries the secret army linked up with right-wing terrorist who in a secret war engaged in political manipulation, harrassement of left wing parties, massacres, coup d’états and torture.
Codenamed ‘Gladio’ (‘the sword’), the Italian secret army was exposed in 1990 by Italian Prime Minister Giulio Andreotti to the Italian Senate, whereupon the press spoke of “The best kept, and most damaging, political-military secret since World War II” (Observer, 18. November 1990) and observed that “The story seems straight from the pages of a political thriller.” (The Times, November 19, 1990). Ever since, so-called ‘stay-behind’ armies of NATO have also been discovered in France, Spain, Portugal, Germany, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxemburg, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Austria, Greece and Turkey. They were internationally coordinated by the Pentagon and NATO and had their last known meeting in the NATO-linked Allied Clandestine Committee (ACC) in Brussels in October 1990.
Rep. Peter King (R-NY) chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, started his congressional hearing on Islamic radicalization Thursday amidst accusations of “Islamophobia” from the Sharia activists and expressions of distaste from most Democrats. In his opening statement King cited recent terror plots against the United States to justify his decision and suggested the hearings could help fulfill the committee’s duty to “protect America from a terrorist attack” by examining the cause of those plots.
On the first day a heart-warming echo of Marx (Groucho, not Karl) came in the convoluted syllogism of Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., ranking Democrat on the Committee, who warned King that extremists could exploit the hearing for “propaganda” to inspire a “new generation of suicide bombers.” Since even discussing Muslim extremism breeds more Muslim extremism, the subject of Muslim extremism should be left undiscussed so as to make us safer from Muslim extremism.
A touch of farce was provided by Rep. Keith Ellison, D-Minn.—a practicing Muslim—who accused King of „stereotyping and scapegoating“ and then burst into tears as he described the work of a Muslim-American paramedic who lost his life on 9-11. Mr. Ellison evidently does not expect to go broke underestimating the taste of the American public. He is right.
In a normal country the King hearings would have taken place years ago, and they would have focused on the key issues of the Islamic Weltanschauung and its practical manifestations over the past 14 centuries. It is to be feared that the hearings will do no such thing.
“Recent terror plots” notwithstanding, for the time being America is still in far better shape than Europe. It would be dangerous to assume that this is so because Muslims have better assimilated into American culture. It would be an even greater folly to hope that America’s economic, political and cultural institutions will act as a powerful source of self-identification that breeds personal loyalty and commitment to the host-society that is so evidently absent among the Muslims in Europe. In fact there is ample evidence that Muslims in America share the attitudes and aspirations of their European coreligionists.
Some opponents of King’s hearings claim that Muslims are much better integrated in the United States than they are in Europe. This supposedly proves that America is doing a good job of assimilating them, and therefore “stigmatization” supposedly resulting from the hearings will bring more harm than good. This is not true. That things are not as bad in America as they are in France, Britain or Benelux is due to three factors.
First of all, Muslims do not account for much more than one percent of the population of the United States, in contrast to Western Europe where their share of the population is up to ten times greater. They like to pretend otherwise, of course, and groups such as the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA), the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the American Muslim Council (AMC) et al routinely assert that there are between 5 and 9 million Muslims in the United States. It is remarkable that these sources do not provide any empirically verifiable basis for their figures. Impartial studies currently place their number at between 2 and 4 million.
The second difference is in the fact that Muslim enclaves in Europe are ethnically more homogenous. Most Muslims in France, Spain and Belgium came from Algeria, Tunisia, and Morocco. In Germany and Austria they are mostly Turks. In Britain they are overwhelmingly from the Indian Subcontinent. Their group cohesiveness based on Islam is additionally reinforced by the bonds of ethnic, cultural and linguistic kinship. In the United States, by contrast, neither Arabs nor Subcontinentals enjoy similar dominance within the Muslim community, which is therefore not equally monolithic and thus not equally aggressive.
Last but not least, there are proportionately fewer U.S. citizens among Muslims in America. In France and Britain, most Muslims are citizens of those countries and feel free to act assertively (or even criminally) without any fear of deportation. The attitudes of Muslims coming to the United States also tend to change once their status in America is secure. When applying for admission or asylum, however, and while awaiting green cards, they are careful. As permanent residents they continue to refrain from statements and acts that may make them excludable under current laws. But as soon as they gain citizenship, many of them soon rediscover the virtues of sharia—and some start longing to do their bit in the path of Allah.
The trouble with King is that he, too, believes that your average Muslim is as Americanisable as any Tom, Dick, or Harry, and that the problem exists only in a small, unrepresentative fringe. It is patronizing, racist even, to expect that Muslim immigrants coming to the United States will suddenly become tabulae rasae and discard various political and cultural convictions shared by their compatriots back home. As it happens, the image of America in the Muslim world is far more negative than that of any European country: four-fifths of our Turkish and Pakistani “allies” and newly-democratized Egyptians loath America. Only slightly lower percentages of Muslims all over the world believe that suicide bombings can be justified in order to defend Islam from its enemies.
Rep. King’s panel should be told—but it will not be told—that this baggage comes to America with the Muslim immigrants and that it is transmitted to their American-born children. In a survey of newly naturalized citizens, 90 percent of Muslim immigrants admitted that if there were a conflict between the United States and their country of origin, they would be inclined to support their country of origin. In Detroit over 80 percent of Muslims “strongly agree” or “somewhat agree” that Shari’a should be the law of the land.
It is an even bet that after the hearings we’ll see many more variations on a familiar theme which runs as this: some members of a Muslim community somewhere in the United States are arrested and accused of terrorist links or plans. Local Muslims respond with a mix of indignation and denial, with the assurances of the suspects’ impeccable character, and accusations of anti-Muslim bias. Non-Muslim civic leaders then respond by reassuring the Muslim community that it is loved and appreciated and by calling on their fellow-citizens to be warm and supportive to their Muslim neighbors. The media report heart-rendering stories of the Muslim sense of sadness, rejection and alienation. The “experts” say that the magnitude of the threat is exaggerated. And Muslim activists and “community leaders” scream “Islamophobia,” of course.
Of course, if the plot is carried to fruition the politicians wonder and will continue to wonder what made him (them) do it. Was Major Nidal Hasan just stressed out or victimized by discrimination? Were all those “Kosovar” Albanians plotting attacks on Ft. Dix or murdering U.S. servicemen in Frankfurt really crying for help, having been traumatized by Serb brutality? To profess ignorance of “why it happened” after “it” happens, and to pretend that the answer is not contained in the culprit’s name and self-professed beliefs, is a strange form of fanaticism, as deadly in its consequences as any sleeper cell in New Jersey.
King should be told, but won’t, that in any group of 1,000 Muslim immigrants whose lives are centered on a mosque two things can be predicted with near-certainty. The first is that a sizable percentage—around a quarter—will sympathize with the motives of Al-Qaeda and its ilk, if not with their methods. The second is that some smaller percentage of that group—not more than one-in-ten, no fewer than one-in-twenty—especially among the Western-born young, will support those methods as well, and be potentially willing to apply them in practice.
The sense of hostile detachment from any recognizably American identity and values that breeds terrorist intent is not confined to any single group of Muslims. In Britain the people who raged against Rushdie included bankers and property developers as well as halal butchers and factory workers. In America, too, it transcends class and affects students, doctors, criminals, soldiers and arty bohemians equally. The problem is not limited to those Muslims who come to the United States as adults either.
The same sentiment of hostile detachment can be found among many American-born converts to Islam, both white and black. The tone was set in 1996 by Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf, an NBA player, who refused to obey the League’s demand that players stand in a “dignified posture” when the national anthem is played. Beginning with the 1995-96 season, the 27-year-old former Baptist from Mississippi who had converted to Islam five years earlier had remained seated during the playing of the Star Spangled Banner. He declared that as a Muslim he could not pay homage to the American flag—which he called a “symbol of oppression, of tyranny.” He argued further that the flag directly contradicted his Islamic faith.
Mr. King’s hearings will answer nothing and resolve nothing, because they operate within an ideological paradigm within which it is inadmissible that a serious Muslim believer who comes to the United States cannot be “absolutely and entirely” loyal to the United States by definition. The basis of the social and legal order and source of all obligation in Islam is the Kuran, the final revelation of Allah’s will that is to be obeyed by all creation. His divine sovereignty is irreconcilable with popular sovereignty, the keystone of democracy. Politics is not “part of Islam,” as this would imply that, in origin, it is a distinctly separate sphere of existence that is then eventually amalgamated with Islam. Politics is the intrinsic core of the Islamic imperative of Allah’s sovereignty.
The result of that imperative is that among some three million Muslims in the United States of America there are sufficient numbers of terrorist sympathizers and active human assets to justify expenditure of over $300 billion annually in direct and indirect homeland security costs, excluding military operations abroad. That money would not need to be spent if America had been prudent enough to devise a sane immigration policy back in the days of Lyndon Johnson. The tangible cost of the presence of a Muslim man, woman and child to the American taxpayer is at least $100,000 each year. The cost of the general unpleasantness associated with the terrorist threat and its impact on the quality of our lives is, of course, incalculable.
I confidently expect that on the key issue of the message and record of Islam the hearings will have nothing to say. I’ll be pleasantly surprised if they touch the fundamentals of immigration policy, which is essential to understanding the problem of terrorism. The terms of the debate, as currently structured, reject the notion that religious faith can be a prime motivating factor in human affairs. Having reduced religion, literature and art to “narratives” and “metaphors” which merely reflect prejudices based on the distribution of power, the elite class treats the jihadist mindset as a curable idiosyncrasy.
Far from discriminating or stigmatizing anyone, my prediction is that Rep. King will conclude that the potential terrorists here in America are decent but misguided or else mistreated people who will change their ways if we are more determined to reach out to them. He will not say so, but other will conclude, that we need more prayer-rooms at colleges and workplaces, more pork-free menus in schools and jails, more welfare, public housing, and taxpayer subsidies for Islamic social and cultural societies. The belief that the problem can be legislated away or neutralized with public money goes hand-in-hand the elite class’s evident fear of an anti-Muslim backlash among the majority host-population.
Ignorant of Islam’s tenets and history, as the threat grows more onerous by the day, the elite class insists ever more stridently that counter-terrorist policies must not be pursued at the expense of liberal values since any alternative would “play into the hands of terrorists.” Which brings us back to Rep. Bennie Thompson and his warning that extremists could exploit the hearing for “propaganda” to inspire a “new generation of suicide bombers.” Dixit.
In a dramatic series of events since late 2010, a new and intensified phase of public protest has erupted across both wealthy and poor regions of the world. Right across Europe, harsh programs of financial austerity have led to escalating protests and mass public campaigns; in the Middle East and North Africa, a revolutionary wave of civil unrest is gripping the international media; and less reported are countless smaller anti-government demonstrations taking place across diverse continents. As commentators struggle to keep up with the rapid unfolding of these events, it is worthwhile to reflect on the basic connections between these varied struggles, and to pose a simple question: are we witnessing the birth of a truly international public voice calling for wealth redistribution and wholesale political reform?
The pan-European protests were sparked by government plans to cut public spending, slash welfare benefits and freeze pay in response to economic recession and the debt crisis. With European Union finance ministers agreeing rules that would punish countries that fail to bring their debts under control, a new austerity drive swept across the 16-nation eurozone as governments struggled to trim their huge budget deficits. Both the German and UK coalition governments approved their biggest austerity plans since World War II; Italy and Spain joined Europe’s austerity club with massive cuts to public services; France announced its controversial plans to cut spending and raise its retirement and pension ages; while the most debt-stricken countries in the EU – Portugal, Greece and the Irish Republic – committed to draconian austerity packages to please international investors, not to mention the ongoing budget cuts in various other EU countries such as Hungary, Latvia, Romania and the Netherlands.
What’s most striking about the public outcry that followed is not only the vast scale of civic protests, but the sense that a majority of European people believe that government austerity measures are unnecessary and deeply unjust. On 29th September 2010, the European Trades Union Confederation (ETUC) organised coordinated demonstrations in European cities, with hundreds of thousands of union members across the region amassing under the banner ‘No to Austerity’. Countless new campaign groups and social movements have also highlighted the distorted priorities of governments who cut public spending as opposed to targeting the excesses of big corporations, bankers and international investors. This included the voices ofleading economists such as Joseph Stiglitz, Paul Krugman and Christopher Pissarides who argued that austerity measures go in exactly the wrong direction, and are more likely to result in lower economic growth, worsening unemployment and protracted recession. In the words of Attac, the French campaign group who stood by the anti-austerity protesters across Europe: “The radical austerity policies now demanded by the EU are a solution in the interest of the wealthy and the financial actors alone. EU governments intend to implement austerity policies everywhere. …Their policies can only deepen social inequalities and the present crisis, while making the economic situation in Greece and the rest of the EU even worse.”
Out of the scores of anti-cuts groups still springing up at a local and national level across Europe, one that has captured the public imagination more than most is UK Uncut. In late October 2010, a group of London-based young activists thought up an ingenious way of highlighting an alternative to the British governments harsh austerity measures. Rather than simply protesting against public spending cuts, they focused upon the tax-avoidance strategies of rich individuals and big corporations. In a series of direct action protests organised spontaneously through the internet, the informal group has mobilised local protests and temporarily closed down more than a hundred stores in towns and cities across the country. The message of an alternative to austerity measures was brilliantly straight-forward: if the government clamped down on corporate tax avoidance, it would greatly reduce the need for public spending cuts. As the fastest-growing protest movement in the UK, its focus is now shifting to the greed and reckless practices of high street banks. And it’s now emerged that similar protests are being organised in North America under the banner US Uncut, with more than 30 demonstrations planned for 26 February – the date of UK Uncut’s second “day of action” against the banks.
No to Austerity and Ideology
Common to all the protests in Europe is a recognition of the pro-market ideology that is driving government policies to the detriment of the public good. Since the world stock market crash of 2008, it is increasingly evident that a number of governments are using the economic crisis as an excuse to re-shape the economy in the interests of business. In the UK, for example, George Monbiot recently wrote an article in the Guardian showing how the Chancellor of the Exchequer plans to allow money that has passed through tax havens to remain untaxed when it reaches the UK, accompanied by a rapid reduction in the official rate of corporation tax – the lowest rate of any major Western economy. At the same time, the British government is slashing social benefits and public-sector jobs, cutting budgets for government departments, transferring the onus for creating new jobs onto the private sector, and incrementally privatising the National Health Service and state education (with an attempt to privatise thousands of hectares of England’s national forests being recently defeated in Parliament). There is no shortage of commentary in the UK pointing out that such policies are ideologically-driven, opportunistic while the country is on the brink of bankruptcy, and even wider in scope than Margaret Thatcher’s swingeing program to cut government presence in the economy during the 1980s.
Meanwhile, Greece’s 110 bn euro rescue package was agreed on the back of a huge austerity drive, civil service and pension cuts, the easing of restrictions on private-sector layoffs, and a large privatisation and structural adjustment programme that is geared more to saving European banks than protecting the livelihoods of the Greek public. The Irish Republic is suffering a comparable fate in return for a joint EU-IMF bailout package worth 85 bn euros. Alongside the harshest tax hikes and budget cuts in the nation’s history, the terms of the bailout stipulate that Ireland must get its budget deficit to 3 percent of GDP by 2015 – promising further budget cuts year-on-year regardless of the effect on jobs, welfare rights or the living standards of the majority. Portugal, Spain and possibly Belgium are all lined up for similar treatment. The message is clear: it is not the nation’s people that must be bailed out but the financial plutocrats who hold the nation’s debt, even if this spells the destruction of the entire post-war European social welfare system.
As many analysts are now pointing out, these savage austerity packages being unleashed across Europe mirror the fate that many developing nations have faced for decades. Scores of indebted countries in Africa, Latin America and Asia have long endured the savage IMF structural adjustment programmes that Ireland, Greece and other EU countries are now suffering. A recent briefing by the Jubilee Debt Campaign (JDC) explains the similarities and differences between the sovereign debt crisis in Europe, and responses to the debt crisis in the Global South by international financial institutions since the late 1970s. Zambia, for example, made extreme cuts in government spending throughout the 1980s and 1990s under pressure from the IMF, yet the cuts failed to prevent the country’s debt from doubling while its economy plunged into recession.
A similar logic was applied to Asian countries following the financial crisis in 1998; foreign private lenders were bailed out, government spending was severely cut back, public companies were further privatised, yet the economy still continued to decline. According to JDC, a common theme is that the public face the costs, not private lenders. And not only is private debt paid for by the public, but the cut-backs in public spending by no means guarantees a reduction in national debt. In effect, ordinary people are forced to pay for the reckless behaviour and mistakes of the financial sector – a reality that is now shared and understood by citizens in both the Global North and South.
Growing gap between rich and poor
A major difference for people in the South is that there is often no guaranteed state provisions or social safety nets that exist for them in the first place. Even in those developing countries still experiencing economic prosperity, most notably in the globalisation “success stories” of India and China, rapid GDP growth is being matched by deepening inequalities and social insecurity. As we know from the World Bank’s global poverty statistics, at least 80 percent of the 1.1 billion people who live in India somehow manage to survive on less than $2 a day. In China, still 36 percent of its population survives on less than $2 a day, while the rural-urban income gap has continued to widen alongside increases in inequality of health and education outcomes. As what some call “the greatest migration in world history” continues across China, rural migrant workers arriving in industrial areas often find themselves trapped in abysmal working and living conditions, many without basic health and safety protections.
This definite growth in inequality and the lack of economic opportunity and social security that underpins it has long been a recurring theme across the world. A recent UNCTAD reportrevealed that there are now twice as many low-income countries than there were 30-40 years ago, and twice as many poor people living in them. Even more indicative of this worrying trend in global inequality is the evidence that a new ‘bottom billion‘ of the world’s poor live in middle-income countries – a dramatic change from just two decades ago when the majority of the poor lived in low-income nations. A growing gulf between the rich and poor is also continuing in many high-income countries, not least in the United States where the top 20 percent of wealthy individuals own about 85 percent of the wealth, while the bottom 40 percent own very near 0 percent. As the Economist magazine is keen to point out in a special report, there is an ongoing rise in the share of income going to the very top – the highest 1 percent of earners – who constitute a global power elite or ‘superclass’ in many countries. At the other end of the scale, evidence suggests that the number of people living in relative poverty could possibly be 4 billion and rising.
This is the context in which we can better understand the sudden eruption of civil unrest across North Africa and the Middle East. Whilst much of the mainstream media focussed on the repression of public freedoms, corruption and a lack of democracy as the main cause of popular insurrection, common underlying factors also include the growing levels of inequality, ongoing hikes in the price of basic food and energy, and poor access to housing and welfare services. Whilst Mubarak left office in Egypt with a reported $70 bn dollars of stolen public money, citizens remain saddled with $30 bn of debts despite a poverty rate of 1 in 4 and a recurring food crisis. Tunisia, a regional poster child for the success of pro-market reforms, is in a similar predicament with crippling graduate unemployment rates of up to 46 percent, despite strong GDP growth. This underlying pattern of protest against social and economic deprivation alongside political repression is being repeated across Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, Saudi Arabia, Algeria, Syria, Iran, Morocco, Oman, and a number of other countries in the region. All have been spearheaded by the countries’ youth, fuelled by social media and television, yet broadly supported by the middle class. In an unprecedented outpouring of goodwill and solidarity, these millions of people on the streets are claiming their democratic right to a fairer share of the vast wealth that their rulers have hoarded for decades.
The pan-Arab protests clearly have much in common with those reacting to austerity across Europe, as well as the millions who have mobilised in support of debt cancellation and an end to ‘economic adjustment’ in the South. In every country, the widespread outcomes of debt, austerity, poverty and inequality are the product of political choices – the consequences of a disastrous neoliberal approach to managing a nation and its finances. What we may be witnessing in the popular responses to these hardships is an emerging global consensus in favour of a fundamental reordering of government priorities. In the space of barely a few months, the rapid growth of anti-austerity demonstrations across Europe and massive anti-government protests all over the Middle East indicate the potential for public opinion to take on an international dimension. Given the determination of policymakers across the globe to continue with business as usual, the strengthening of a world public opinion in favour of a more equitable distribution of resources may constitute the first step toward meaningful reforms.
As this increasingly global call for justice unfolds across several continents, an underlying demand being voiced by protesters in different countries is the urgent need for redistribution. Calls for an end to austerity measures, more progressive taxation and the cancellation of debt in the developing world all reflect the need to redistribute wealth and political power downward. An implicit understanding common to all these demands is that governments are better able to secure basic human needs for their citizens through the provision of more effective welfare and social services. The question that remains is whether the need for redistribution can be recognised at the international level where the unequal distribution of power and resources manifests in extreme differences in living standards between the richest and poorest nations. If the case for international sharing captures the public imagination as quickly as the calls for distributive justice in individual countries, the elimination of global poverty could finally become a realistic possibility.
The increasingly volatile pre trial phase of the Lebanon tribunal…
It appears that no acceptable compromise regarding the divergent Lebanese political stances relative to the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL) will be achieved. Support for this hypothesis can be found in the past 24 hours activities of the would-be mediators. The Saudi King Abdullah, ‘lifted our hand’ (i.e. abandoned mediation) cold. The Turk and Qatari envoys split, the Americans fumbled, Jumblatt flipped his choice from anti-US Omar Karami to pro-US Prime Minister (again!) and then flipped back once again and now, who knows? Hezbollah’s main Christian ally, Michel Aoun defamed and cursed (ex-Prime Minister Saad Hariri and the American Ambassador respectively), Syria stressed, Iran warned, Egypt remained incoherent, the Arab League waffled and adjourned “pending developments”, Hezbollah prepared, and ex-PM Saad Hariri insisted that he’s going to fight to keep his job after all. His decision late yesterday puts Saad on a collision course with the Hezbollah led March 8 “minority” which, in fact, may now be the “majority”.
The odds are that Saad will not be back as Prime Minister but that Omar Karami will. The Hariri empire and its American and Saudi allies will very likely take revenge on the new Hezbollah controlled government and gut Lebanon’s economy. The Saudi Wahabists are said to be not disposed to bail out a Shia dominated country run by those they claim refuse to accept the legitimate Sunnah of the prophet Mohammad. As one Saudi journalist suggested this morning, “ Let Hezbollah and Iran put their money where their mouths are. They are going to learn a thing or two about the real World.”
It is possible that before long, Le Liban Ancien may be gone with the wind. Indicted, convicted, condemned, dispatched and gifted to others by profoundly flawed American-Israel regional policies. Not even my astute motorbike mechanic, Hussein, is bold enough to say, whether after the coming events that he is predicting, Lebanon can rise like the sacred firebird Phoenix or will simply implode one last time into ashes to be scattered. This week, citizens are staying inside their houses more than usual, the Lebanese army is deployed at key intersections and overpasses, and some friends are cleaning their weapons and pondering whether civil war era ammunition will still fire when needed. “ Informal economy ” gun prices, like the cost of benzene, bottled gas, and fuel oil rose twice this week.
A few hours ago, someone from the Chinese Embassy called (the gentleman must have got my card from me during their fabulous reception and feast celebrating China’s National day a few months ago) asking if I thought Lebanon would be safe for Chinese tourists, as a group from Beijing is planning to come to Lebanon before long. Once more, I had to confess to total cluelessness. Meanwhile the Embassy of Qatar has just announced that all its citizens should leave Lebanon.
Serious doubts are being raised about the post-investigative/pre-trial phases of the Special Tribunal for Lebanon (STL), specifically regarding the increasing numbers of leaks, the failure of the so-called Syrian-Saudi initiative, unfulfilled Prosecution pledges to take action against wild media stories and perceived legal problems with the Special Tribunal for Lebanon’s Statute and Rules of Procedure.
Some STL staff and observers are reportedly concerned that the competition and enmity between the Canadian Danial Bellemare and the Belgium pre-Trial Judge Danial Fransen may also harm the STL’s progress. The reputably mega-ego Bellemare is said to be still smarting from what he considered the unwarranted and rude judicial slap down he received earlier this year from judge Fransen concerning the Jamil Sayeed case. Sayeed was one of four Lebanese pro-Syrian Generals who spent nearly four years imprisoned for alleged involvement in the Hariri assassination based on what some believes was grandstanding tactics, including false witnesses, by Bellemare’s predecessor, German lawyer,Detlev Mehlis who recommended the generals be jailed based on Zuhair Siddiq’s false testimony. General Sayeed and his colleagues are understandably mad as hell and are demanding justice following release from prison after the STL acknowledged there was insufficient evidence to have held them in the first place. Bellemare objected to Sayeed being allowed due process Judicial Discovery in order that he might learn the evidence against him that led to his imprisonment and Bellemare was unexpectedly overruled by Judge Fransen. Sayeed’s case continues, as a side event of the STL.
Separate from the reported smoldering Bellemare-Fransen animus which hopefully will not cause the proceedings to become fatally mired, there are serious doubts among some legal international law students about problems with trying the suspects Bellemare has identified in his indictments. One named indictee is said to be a Middle East country head of state and also head of government, who like no fewer than 8 Arab countries “popular leaders of the people” got his job from his dad based on primogeniture rather than his personal record of public service.
Can the STL stage Hamlet without the Prince being present?
Increasingly, international legal critics of the STL are also highlighting flaws in the Special Tribunals Statute and Rules of Procedure. One Court Statue provision is particularly seen to be fundamentally inconsistent with international law, and which binds Lebanon, is Article 22 of the Tribunal’s Statute.
Article 22 allows for trials in absentia. One problem is that trying suspects in absentia is virtually unheard of among international ad hoc and ‘hybrid’ UN courts. In absentia trials have been consistently forbidden in international tribunals ever since the 1945 Charter of the International Military Tribunal in Nuremberg. Absentia trials were then, and ever since the end of WW II, have been condemned for the simple reason that in absentia trials allow for deep and broad politicization of the judicial process.
A careful reading of the STL Statute leads to the conclusion that not only does Article 22 authorize in absentia trials, but it requires them. As such, Article 22 violates Lebanon’s rights and obligations under international legal standards and practice. In absentia trials will almost certainly lead to the political corruption of fair trial standards and thus gives rise to legitimate grounds for Lebanon and other countries to withhold cooperation from the work of the Tribunal. In absentia trials also will delegitimize the work product of the Lebanon Tribunal leaving any resulting verdicts deeply flawed and likely rejected by international public and legal opinion.
The right to Habeas Corpus, being the fundamental right of a person to be present at trial is enshrined in Article 14(3)(d) of the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR), which is binding upon Lebanon. It states that any person charged with a criminal offence has the right to be present at trial. This right is a minimum due process guarantee and it is required at all stages of the STL proceedings. The UN Human Rights Committee (HRC) ruled in Mbenge v. Zaire that everyone is entitled to be tried in his presence and to defend himself in person or through legal assistance. This provision in Article 14 cannot reasonably be said to always prohibit proceedings in absentia and sometimes international humanitarian law would allow them.
One case would be when the accused person, after being given actual notice of the charges, sufficiently in advance of trial, knowingly declines the habeas corpus right. The critical question, then, is precisely when departure from the norm in the fulfillment of this objective is justified and does the STL Statue violate international law? It is submitted that the Court’s reasoning in Mbenge v. Zaire is sound and once it is appreciated where the burden of proving the accused’s knowledge lies — that is, on the prosecution — it becomes plain that any argument based on the accused have received informal knowledge or constructive knowledge is bound to fail. Thus, as indicated by the Court inMbenge v. Zaire, the accused must at a minimum be served with a summons if the STL Office of the Prosecution is to discharge its burden.
The case law of both the Human Rights Council and of the European Court affirms that, absent a right of retrial, actual notice of the proceedings on the part of the accused is a necessary condition in order for those proceedings to be compliant with Article 14(3)(d) of the ICCPR or Article 6 ECHR. Therefore, under the relevant rules of international law binding upon Lebanon, absent an unfettered right of retrial, which the STL Statute does not provide, it is impermissible to commence a trial in the absence of the accused unless it can be demonstrated that, at the very least, the defendant had actual and direct knowledge of the proceedings. Meaning he/she must be personally served a summons.
In additions, Article 14(3)(d) of the ICCPR, read in light of the subsequent practice concerning trials in absentia in many jurisdictions, indicates that (subject to retrial at the accused’s option) a court may not commence or proceed with a trial unless the prosecutor is able to establish that the accused possessed actual knowledge of the proceedings and intended to waive his right to be present.
Article 22 STL Statute, entitled ‘trials in absentia’, provides as follows:
- The Special Tribunal shall conduct trial proceedings in the absence of the accused, if he or she:
- Has expressly and in writing waived his or her right to be present;
- Has not been handed over to the Tribunal by the State authorities concerned;
- Has absconded or otherwise cannot be found and all reasonable steps have been taken to secure his or her appearance before the Tribunal and to inform him or her of the charges confirmed by the Pre-Trial Judge.
Another of the problems with Article 22 is the real likelihood that ‘the State authorities concerned’ may have ‘failed’ to hand over the accused for various legitimate reasons. For example, how can it be known which State authorities are “ concerned” given that the whereabouts of the accused person would likely be unknown. Moreover, as a simple matter of public international law, Countries are under no obligation whatsoever to extradite suspects for trial in another Country. To do so is arguably unlawful in the absence of an extradition treaty providing a basis in law for such an extradition. International law does not permits canceling an individual’s right to appear at his own trial on the basis that some third state (possibly hostile to the accused or relevant Country) has not done a positive act that it is under no obligation to do. Also, the fact that a Country may have refused to extradite an accused person is immaterial when it comes to the critical question of whether the accused himself knew of the proceedings against him and voluntarily elected not to attend.
It is possible that the international community will tire of the STL, given all the tribunals perceived defects, long before any verdicts are achieved or appeals exhausted. It remains to be seen what becomes of the original objectives contemplated by UN Security Council Resolution 1757 as serious questions are increasingly raised about the wisdom of the UN stamping its imprimatur to a widely suspected US-Israel project in the first place.