Tuesday, June 30, 2009
Iran's Basij commander, Hossein Taeb, said Monday that the imposters had worn police and Basij uniforms to infiltrate the rallies and create havoc.
Taeb added that the recent anti-government riots have killed eight members of the Basij and wounded 300 others.
Iranian security officials --and in particularly the Basij volunteer forces-- have been accused of killing and injuring protestors who took to the streets to protest the outcome of the June 12 election -- which saw incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad win by a landslide.
“Basij forces are not authorized to carry weapons,” said Taeb, asserting that armed groups are the main culprit behind the killings.
Tehran Police Chief Azizallah Rajabzadeh has also insisted that his department had no role in the shoot-out that has become the focus of most media outlets in the West.
“Policemen are not authorized to use weapons against people,” said Rajabzadeh. “They are trained to only use anti-riot tools to keep the people out of harms way,” said Rajabzadeh.
Last week saw some of the worst violence since the election after some 'terrorist elements' infiltrated the rallies on Saturday, according to Iranian officials.
The insurgents set fire to a mosque, two gas stations and a military post in Western Tehran, leaving scores of people dead and wounded.
Supporters of the defeated candidates have staged a torrent of rallies, which have provoked unprecedented mayhem in the country over the past nine days.
Mir-Hossein Mousavi election campaign officials, however, have insisted that the defeated candidate's supporters are not within the rioters.
Ahmadinejad was not making a threat, he was quoting a saying of Khomeini and urging that pro-Palestinian activists in Iran not give up hope-- that the occupation of Jerusalem was no more a continued inevitability than had been the hegemony of the Shah's government.
Whatever this quotation from a decades-old speech of Khomeini may have meant, Ahmadinejad did not say that "Israel must be wiped off the map" with the implication that phrase has of Nazi-style extermination of a people. He said that the occupation regime over Jerusalem must be erased from the page of time.
Friday, June 19, 2009
Anyone using Twitter over the past few days knows that the topic of the Iranian election has been the most popular. Thousands of tweets and retweets alleging that the election was a fraud, calling for protests in Iran, and even urging followers hack various Iranian news websites (which they did successfully). The Twitter popularity caught the eye of various blogs such as Mashable and TechCrunch and even made its way to mainstream news media sites.
Were these legitimate Iranian people or the works of a propaganda machine? I became curious and decided to investigate the origins of the information. In doing so, I narrowed it down to a handful of people who have accounted for 30,000 Iran related tweets in the past few days. Each of them had some striking similarities -
1. They each created their twitter accounts on Saturday June 13th.
2. Each had extremely high number of Tweets since creating their profiles.
3. “IranElection” was each of their most popular keyword
4. With some very small exceptions, each were posting in ENGLISH.
5. Half of them had the exact same profile photo
6. Each had thousands of followers, with only a few friends. Most of their friends were EACH OTHER.
Why were these tweets in English? Why were all of these profiles OBSESSED with Iran? It became obvious that this was the work of a team of people with an interest in destabilizing Iran. The profiles are phonies and were created with the sole intention of destabilizing Iran and effecting public opinion as to the legitimacy of Iran’s election.
JPost actually ran a story about 3 people “who joined the social network mere hours ago have already amassed thousands of followers.” Why would a news organization post a story about 3 people who JUST JOINED TWITTER hours earlier? Is that newsworthy? JPost was the first (and only to my knowledge) major news source that mentioned these 3 spammers.
JPost, a major news organization, promoted these three Twitterers who went on the be the source of the IranElection Twitter bombardment. Why is JPost so concerned about Iranian students all of a sudden (which these spammers claim to be)? I must admit that I had my suspicions. After all, Que Bono? (who benefits).
There’s no question that Israel perceives Iran as an enemy, more so than any other nation. According to a recent poll, more than half of Israel’s population support using military force against Iran if they do not cease from developing nuclear energy (which they have the legal right to do as per the NNP treaty). Oddly enough, this comes out of a country which is not a cosigner to the NNP treaty and has no right to develop nuclear energy, yet posses an arsenal of nuclear BOMBS.
Of course, Mousavi himself plays an important role in causing the social unrest within Iran. How often do you see a candidate declare himself the winner before any votes are counted and then, when faced with defeat, call the entire election process a fraud? As obvious as it was in our own 2000 election, Al Gore would not touch the topic of voter fraud. No major US politician goes near the subject. They know full well that such an accusation would shake the entire foundation of our democracy and threaten the political structures that are in place.
These twitting spammers began crying foul before the final votes were even counted, just as Mousavi had. The spammer @IranRiggedElect created his profile before a winner was announced and preformed the public service of informing us in the United States , in English and every 10 minutes, of the unfair election. He did so unselfishly, and without any regard for his fellow friends and citizens of Iran, who don’t speak English and don’t use Twitter!
[Update] JPost removes the evidence and issues a response
Meet The Spammers
3146 followers. 31 friends.
340 tweets in past 4 days. none before that.
Top 5 words - iranelection, cnnfail, mousavi, tehran,
All tweets in English
Time: Bulk between 12pm and 2pm eastern standard time
Most retweets: @StopAhmadi @IranElection09 @change_for_iran
14,000 followers. 0 friends
117 tweets in 2 days. none before that.
All tweets in English
Time: Bulk between 8:00 pm and 11:00 pm eastern.
Top 5 words: iranelection, people, police, right, students
800 followers. 9 friends.
196 tweets in 3 days. none before that.
185 in English. 11 in Farsi (Arabic appearing letters. Not sure if it’s Farsi)
Time: bulk between 2:00pm and 6:00pm eastern. Also 1:00am.
Top 5 words: iranelection, rt, mousavi, tehran, march
Most retweets: @IranRiggedElect @StopAhmadi
6199 followers. 53 friends.
1107 tweets in past 3 days. None before then.
top 5 words: iranelection, ppl, news, rt, iran.
All tweets in English
Time: bulk between 9:00am and 5:00pm eastern
Most retweets: @mohamadreza @mahdi
1433 followers. 142 friends
(protected account. cant see data)
The following all have the same photo in their profile and are followed by the profiles previously mentioned.
http://twitter.com/Change_for_Iran (14,000 followers)
http://twitter.com/IranElection09 (800 followers. 9 friends.)
Click below for the JPost Articledenial of service for users of the targeted system. (Recognize the avatar?) BUT….their latest spamming campaign (Against CS) is backfiring.
Spammers get a taste of their own medicine!: Block CS eh? It’s not us being blocked…..
[Update 4] The Guardian: Iran’s election result may not be fraudulent. Our polling suggests that Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s victory is what voters wanted
[Update 5] Iran blocked access to twitter yesterday BUT that doesn’t stop the “Iranian Students” from continuing to tweet every 10 or so minutes.
[Update 6] Iranian intelligence arrested “Agents” within the country “who masterminded the recent post-election violence in Tehran.”
[Update 7] JPost removes the evidence and issues a response
[Update 8] Tehran- Riots orchestrated by enemies
[Update 9] Washington Post: “Twitter’s impact inside Iran is zero,” said Mehdi Yahyanejad, manager of a Farsi-language news site based in Los Angeles. “Here, there is lots of buzz, but once you look . . . you see most of it are Americans tweeting among themselves.”
[Update 10] CIA Factbook: Languages spoken in Iran: Persian and Persian dialects 58%, Turkic and Turkic dialects 26%, Kurdish 9%, Luri 2%, Balochi 1%, Arabic 1%, Turkish 1%, other 2%. Sure, some of the more educated people (a small amount) do speak English but its not at all popular.
[Update 11] This post became one of the most followed, tweeted and retweeted stories regarding the #IranElection on the net yesterday. The 3 “Iranian Student” spammers specifically mentioned this post as did hundreds of others. So, um, where are the Iranians?? The screen shot below is of our traffic yesterday by country.
Disclaimer: Before I get attacked as being an Anti-Semite,you should know that I am half Jewish. Alternatively, I hope that people do not misinterpret this as some “JEWISH” conspiracy. It isn’t. These are the workings of the extreme right wing of Israeli politics. They have their own Bush’s and Cheney’s there too.
Tuesday, June 16, 2009
Editor’s Comment: Before you start connecting the dots, consider this: The attempt to discredit the elections and cause instability in Iran look very much like a scheme we’ve seen before – directly out of the CIA playbook. We’ve seen this pattern in so many elections in Venezuela, for example, I swear that even the Chavistas would be disappointed if it doesn’t reappear next time around. After all, a little drama does add some excitement in elections where consistent landslide victories are won by presidents like Chavez and Ahmadinejad. So here we go again – the old Langley one, two, three:
- Groom an opposition candidate to run against the guy you hate, pay him well and line up your media to back him.
- During the campaign, sell him as the savior of the bourgeois opposition who lost their money in the revolution. Use your own pollsters and media propaganda to convince his followers that they are going to win by a wide margin.
- When your guy loses, scream “FRAUD!” It’s akin to yelling “FIRE!” in a crowded theatre, inflaming all those disappointed bourgeois counter-revolutionaries. Get them out on the street, setting fires, playing the victim, waving flags, ready-to-go placards, banners, women crying in front of CNN cameras and men yelling angrily into Christiana Amanpour’s microphone. Only this time, they’re ready to burn their own flag instead of the U.S. flag. I tell ya, it makes great TV for a western audience. (Incidentally, don’t take Christiana’s reports too seriously. The Amanpours, like many Iranian expats, led a privileged life under the Shah of Iran and lost their ill gotten wealth as a result of the Iranian revolution in ‘79. Naturally, Christiana was very upset. Later, she married James Rubin, an arch-Zionist, and regained her status, good money and even some fame, this time as a CNN reporter in service to the empire.)
Mir Hussein Mousavi followed his script, declared to his followers that the election was invalid instead of graciously accepting defeat. CIA’s shill, Manuel Rosales, did exactly the same thing in Venezuela when he lost large to President Chavez in 2006. The opposition came out and banged their pots and pans, then went home to bed. When Ahmadinejad reached out to Mousavi and his followers, offering to give them a part in the new government, Mousavi rejected the offer. Folks, these are not exactly marks of a real statesman, ready to lead a nation.
Yes, they’ll succeed in smearing Iran and marring this election in the minds of those who prejudged them before they took place. The CIA/Mossad duo can be proud of the pain and confusion they’ve caused in Iran and worldwide. Now they’ve got some video of some angry Iranians to show their bosses for a pat on the head. But if they think that they can destabilise Iran by getting a few thousand Iranians out on the streets of Teheran, they’re even dumber than I thought.
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Mir Hussein Mousavi
Indeed, connect the dots below, get acquanted with Manucher Ghorbanifar and find out a little more about Hussein Mousavi, the U.S.-backed candidate before you buy the western media line about fraud in the 2009 Iranian election.
- Les Blough, Editor
June 14, 2009
Some Dots You May Want To Connect
Moon of Alabama Editorial
…In any ordinary business, Manucher Ghorbanifar would cut an implausibly mysterious figure. Officially, he has been a shipping executive in Tehran and a commodities trader in France. By his own account he was a refugee from the revolutionary government of Ayatullah Ruhollah Khomeini, which confiscated his businesses in Iran, yet he later became a trusted friend and kitchen adviser to Mir Hussein Mousavi, Prime Minister in the Khomeini government. Some U.S. officials who have dealt with Ghorbanifar praise him highly. Says Michael Ledeen**, adviser to the Pentagon on counterterrorism: “He is one of the most honest, educated, honorable men I have ever known.” Others call him a liar who, as one puts it, could not tell the truth about the clothes he is wearing. The Murky World of Weapons Dealers, Time Magazine, Jan. 19, 1987
…On or about November 25, 1985, Ledeen received a frantic phone call from Ghorbanifar, asking him to relay a message from the prime minister of Iran to President Reagan regarding the shipment of the wrong type of HAWKs. United States v. Robert C. McFarlane, Walsh Iran Contra Report, 1985
…Franklin, along with another colleague from Feith’s office, a polyglot Middle East expert named Harold Rhode, were the two officials involved in the back-channel, which involved on-going meetings and contacts with Iranian arms dealer Manucher Ghorbanifar and other Iranian exiles, dissidents and government officials.
…The administration’s reluctance to disclose these details seems clear: the DoD-Ghorbanifar meetings suggest the possibility that a rogue faction at the Pentagon was trying to work outside normal US foreign policy channels to advance a “regime change” agenda not approved by the president’s foreign policy principals or even the president himself. Iran-Contra II?, Washington Monthly, September 2004
…Late last year, Congress agreed to a request from President Bush to fund a major escalation of covert operations against Iran, according to current and former military, intelligence, and congressional sources. These operations, for which the President sought up to four hundred million dollars, were described in a Presidential Finding signed by Bush, and are designed to destabilize the country’s religious leadership.
…“The Finding was focused on undermining Iran’s nuclear ambitions and trying to undermine the government through regime change,” a person familiar with its contents said, and involved “working with opposition groups and passing money.” Preparing the Battlefield, The New Yorker, July 7, 2008
…The Ukrainian Orange phenomenon was modeled quite explicitly on the example of the Rose Revolution, which featured a disputed election, massive youth-oriented street protests, and plenty of subsidies from U.S. government agencies. The ‘Color’ Revolutions: Fade to Black, Antiwar, September 29, 2006.
…The Pentagon and US intelligence have refined the art of such soft coups to a fine level. RAND planners call it ‘swarming,’ referring to the swarms of youth, typically linked by SMS and web blogs, who can be mobilized on command to destabilize a target regime. Color Revolutions, Geopolitics and the Baku Pipeline”, Engdahl, (no date)
…Even before the count began, Mousavi declared himself “definitely the winner” based on “all indications from all over Iran.” He accused the government of “manipulating the people’s vote” to keep Ahmadinejad in power and suggested the reformist camp would stand up to challenge the results.
…“It is our duty to defend people’s votes. There is no turning back,” Mousavi said, alleging widespread irregularities. Iran declares win for Ahmadinejad in disputed vote, Associated Press, June 13, 2009
More On The Iran Election
There is a full effort of the “western” media and some expatriate Iranian organizations to de-legitimize the Iranian election despite the absence of any real evidence of voting fraud. These events show all characteristics of an engineered “color evolution”.
As said before I find the reelection of Ahmadinejad quite plausible. He has done a lot for the poor and the elections were for a decent part class based. As Robert Fisk relates from someone not-regime-friendly in Tehran:
But I must repeat what he said. “The election figures are correct, Robert. Whatever you saw in Tehran, in the cities and in thousands of towns outside, they voted overwhelmingly for Ahmadinejad. Tabriz voted 80 per cent for Ahmadinejad. It was he who opened university courses there for the Azeri people to learn and win degrees in Azeri. In Mashad, the second city of Iran, there was a huge majority for Ahmadinejad after the imam of the great mosque attacked Rafsanjani of the Expediency Council who had started to ally himself with Mousavi. They knew what that meant: they had to vote for Ahmadinejad.”
My guest and I drank dookh, the cool Iranian drinking yoghurt so popular here. The streets of Tehran were a thousand miles away. “You know why so many poorer women voted for Ahmadinejad? There are three million of them who make carpets in their homes. They had no insurance. When Ahmadinejad realised this, he immediately brought in a law to give them full insurance. Ahmadinejad’s supporters were very shrewd. They got the people out in huge numbers to vote – and then presented this into their vote for Ahmadinejad.”
The myth in the “western” media is that Ahmadinejad is a “right-wing hardliner”. While he asserts nationalism and sovereignty as any president should do, in interior politics and economics, dominant in elections everywhere, his position is more to the left of the typical “western” right-left scale.
The argument favored by Juan Cole and others that high inflation and high unemployment numbers should have favored Mousavi and the ‘reformers’ backed by Iran’s richest man Rafsanjani. But those numbers, as asserted in the “west”, are not what they are said to be.Unfortunately the myth that is currently created, will likely be used to favor the agenda of the war mongers. We will all be in trouble if their argument wins. This whole issue will do wonders for oil speculators and thereby snuff up any “green shots”.
Posted on Jun 14, 2009
By Chris Hedges
This week marks the end of the dollar’s reign as the world’s reserve currency. It marks the start of a terrible period of economic and political decline in the United States. And it signals the last gasp of the American imperium. That’s over. It is not coming back. And what is to come will be very, very painful.
Barack Obama, and the criminal class on Wall Street, aided by a corporate media that continues to peddle fatuous gossip and trash talk as news while we endure the greatest economic crisis in our history, may have fooled us, but the rest of the world knows we are bankrupt. And these nations are damned if they are going to continue to prop up an inflated dollar and sustain the massive federal budget deficits, swollen to over $2 trillion, which fund America’s imperial expansion in Eurasia and our system of casino capitalism. They have us by the throat. They are about to squeeze.
There are meetings being held Monday and Tuesday in Yekaterinburg, Russia, (formerly Sverdlovsk) among Chinese President Hu Jintao, Russian President Dmitry Medvedev and other top officials of the six-nation Shanghai Cooperation Organization. The United States, which asked to attend, was denied admittance. Watch what happens there carefully. The gathering is, in the words of economist Michael Hudson, “the most important meeting of the 21st century so far.”
It is the first formal step by our major trading partners to replace the dollar as the world’s reserve currency. If they succeed, the dollar will dramatically plummet in value, the cost of imports, including oil, will skyrocket, interest rates will climb and jobs will hemorrhage at a rate that will make the last few months look like boom times. State and federal services will be reduced or shut down for lack of funds. The United States will begin to resemble the Weimar Republic or Zimbabwe. Obama, endowed by many with the qualities of a savior, will suddenly look pitiful, inept and weak. And the rage that has kindled a handful of shootings and hate crimes in the past few weeks will engulf vast segments of a disenfranchised and bewildered working and middle class. The people of this class will demand vengeance, radical change, order and moral renewal, which an array of proto-fascists, from the Christian right to the goons who disseminate hate talk on Fox News, will assure the country they will impose.
I called Hudson, who has an article in Monday’s Financial Times called “The Yekaterinburg Turning Point: De-Dollarization and the Ending of America’s Financial-Military Hegemony.” “Yekaterinburg,” Hudson writes, “may become known not only as the death place of the czars but of the American empire as well.” His article is worth reading, along with John Lanchester’s disturbing exposé of the world’s banking system, titled “It’s Finished,” which appeared in the May 28 issue of the London Review of Books.
“This means the end of the dollar,” Hudson told me. “It means China, Russia, India, Pakistan, Iran are forming an official financial and military area to get America out of Eurasia. The balance-of-payments deficit is mainly military in nature. Half of America’s discretionary spending is military. The deficit ends up in the hands of foreign banks, central banks. They don’t have any choice but to recycle the money to buy U.S. government debt. The Asian countries have been financing their own military encirclement. They have been forced to accept dollars that have no chance of being repaid. They are paying for America’s military aggression against them. They want to get rid of this.”
China, as Hudson points out, has already struck bilateral trade deals with Brazil and Malaysia to denominate their trade in China’s yuan rather than the dollar, pound or euro. Russia promises to begin trading in the ruble and local currencies. The governor of China’s central bank has openly called for the abandonment of the dollar as reserve currency, suggesting in its place the use of the International Monetary Fund’s Special Drawing Rights. What the new system will be remains unclear, but the flight from the dollar has clearly begun. The goal, in the words of the Russian president, is to build a “multipolar world order” which will break the economic and, by extension, military domination by the United States. China is frantically spending its dollar reserves to buy factories and property around the globe so it can unload its U.S. currency. This is why Aluminum Corp. of China made so many major concessions in the failed attempt to salvage its $19.5 billion alliance with the Rio Tinto mining concern in Australia. It desperately needs to shed its dollars.
“China is trying to get rid of all the dollars they can in a trash-for-resource deal,” Hudson said. “They will give the dollars to countries willing to sell off their resources since America refuses to sell any of its high-tech industries, even Unocal, to the yellow peril. It realizes these dollars are going to be worthless pretty quickly.”
The architects of this new global exchange realize that if they break the dollar they also break America’s military domination. Our military spending cannot be sustained without this cycle of heavy borrowing. The official U.S. defense budget for fiscal year 2008 is $623 billion, before we add on things like nuclear research. The next closest national military budget is China’s, at $65 billion, according to the Central Intelligence Agency.
There are three categories of the balance-of-payment deficits. America imports more than it exports. This is trade. Wall Street and American corporations buy up foreign companies. This is capital movement. The third and most important balance-of-payment deficit for the past 50 years has been Pentagon spending abroad. It is primarily military spending that has been responsible for the balance-of-payments deficit for the last five decades. Look at table five in the Balance of Payments Report, published in the Survey of Current Business quarterly, and check under military spending. There you can see the deficit.
To fund our permanent war economy, we have been flooding the world with dollars. The foreign recipients turn the dollars over to their central banks for local currency. The central banks then have a problem. If a central bank does not spend the money in the United States then the exchange rate against the dollar will go up. This will penalize exporters. This has allowed America to print money without restraint to buy imports and foreign companies, fund our military expansion and ensure that foreign nations like China continue to buy our treasury bonds. This cycle appears now to be over. Once the dollar cannot flood central banks and no one buys our treasury bonds, our empire collapses. The profligate spending on the military, some $1 trillion when everything is counted, will be unsustainable.
“We will have to finance our own military spending,” Hudson warned, “and the only way to do this will be to sharply cut back wage rates. The class war is back in business. Wall Street understands that. This is why it had Bush and Obama give it $10 trillion in a huge rip-off so it can have enough money to survive.”
The desperate effort to borrow our way out of financial collapse has promoted a level of state intervention unseen since World War II. It has also led us into uncharted territory.
“We have in effect had to declare war to get us out of the hole created by our economic system,” Lanchester wrote in the London Review of Books. “There is no model or precedent for this, and no way to argue that it’s all right really, because under such-and-such a model of capitalism ... there is no such model. It isn’t supposed to work like this, and there is no road-map for what’s happened.”
The cost of daily living, from buying food to getting medical care, will become difficult for all but a few as the dollar plunges. States and cities will see their pension funds drained and finally shut down. The government will be forced to sell off infrastructure, including roads and transport, to private corporations. We will be increasingly charged by privatized utilities—think Enron—for what was once regulated and subsidized. Commercial and private real estate will be worth less than half its current value. The negative equity that already plagues 25 percent of American homes will expand to include nearly all property owners. It will be difficult to borrow and impossible to sell real estate unless we accept massive losses. There will be block after block of empty stores and boarded-up houses. Foreclosures will be epidemic. There will be long lines at soup kitchens and many, many homeless. Our corporate-controlled media, already banal and trivial, will work overtime to anesthetize us with useless gossip, spectacles, sex, gratuitous violence, fear and tawdry junk politics. America will be composed of a large dispossessed underclass and a tiny empowered oligarchy that will run a ruthless and brutal system of neo-feudalism from secure compounds. Those who resist will be silenced, many by force. We will pay a terrible price, and we will pay this price soon, for the gross malfeasance of our power elite.
Friday, June 12, 2009
In early June, Peruvian President Alan García, an ally of US President Barack Obama, ordered armored personnel carriers, helicopter gun-ships and hundreds of heavily armed troops to assault and disperse a peaceful, legal protest organized by members of Peru’s Amazonian indigenous communities protesting the entry of foreign multinational mining companies on their traditional homelands. Dozens of Indians were killed or are missing, scores have been injured and arrested and a number of Peruvian police, held hostage by the indigenous protestors were killed in the assault. President García declared martial law in the region in order to enforce his unilateral and unconstitutional fiat granting of mining exploitation rights to foreign companies, which infringed on the integrity of traditional Amazonian indigenous communal lands.
Alan García is no stranger to government-sponsored massacres. In June 1986, he ordered the military to bomb and shell prisons in the capital holding many hundreds of political prisoners protesting prison conditions – resulting in over 400 known victims. Later obscure mass graves revealed dozens more. This notorious massacre took place while García was hosting a gathering of the so-called ‘Socialist’ International in Lima. His political party, APRA (American Popular Revolutionary Alliance) a member of the ‘International’, was embarrassed by the public display of its ‘national-socialist’ proclivities, before hundreds of European Social Democrat functionaries. Charged with misappropriation of government funds and leaving office with an inflation rate of almost 8,000% in 1990, he agreed to support Presidential candidate Alberto Fujimori in exchange for amnesty. When Fujimori imposed a dictatorship in 1992, García went into self-imposed exile in Colombia and later, France. He returned in 2001 when the statute of limitations on his corruption charges had expired and Fujimori was forced to resign amidst charges of running death squads and spying on his critics. García won the 2006 Presidential elections in a run-off against the pro-Indian nationalist candidate and former Army officer, Ollanta Humala, thanks to financial and media backing by Lima’s rightwing, ethnic European oligarchs and US overseas ‘AID’ agencies.
Back in power, García left no doubt about his political and economic agenda. In October 2007 he announced his strategy of placing foreign multi-national mining companies at the center of his economic ‘development’ program, while justifying the brutal displacement of small producers from communal lands and indigenous villages in the name of ‘modernization’.
García pushed through congressional legislation in line with the US-promoted ‘Free Trade Agreement of the Americas’ or ALCA. Peru was one of only three Latin American nations to support the US proposal. He opened Peru to the unprecedented plunder of its resources, labor, land and markets by the multinationals. In late 2007, García began to award huge tracts of traditional indigenous lands in the Amazon region for exploitation by foreign mining and energy multinationals. This was in violation of a 1969 International Labor Organization-brokered agreement obligating the Peruvian government to consult and negotiate with the indigenous inhabitants over exploitation of their lands and rivers. Under his ‘open door’ policy, the mining sector of the economy expanded rapidly and made huge profits from the record-high world commodity prices and the growing Asian (Chinese) demand for raw materials.
The multinational corporations were attracted by Peru’s low corporate taxes and royalty payments and virtually free access to water and cheap government-subsidized electricity rates. The enforcement of environmental regulations was suspended in these ecologically fragile regions, leading to wide-spread contamination of the rivers, ground water, air and soil in the surrounding indigenous communities. Poisons from mining operations led to massive fish kills and rendered the water unfit for drinking. The operations decimated the tropical forests, undermining the livelihood of tens of thousands of villagers engaged in traditional artisan work and subsistence forest gathering and agricultural activities.
The profits of the mining bonanza go primarily to the overseas companies. The García regime distributes state revenues to his supporters among the financial and real estate speculators, luxury goods importers and political cronies in Lima’s enclosed upscale, heavily guarded neighborhoods and exclusive country-clubs. As the profit margins of the multinationals reached an incredible 50% and government revenues exceeded $1 billion US dollars, the indigenous communities lacked paved roads, safe water, basic health services and schools. Worse still, they experienced a rapid deterioration of their everyday lives as the influx of mining capital led to increased prices for basic food and medicine. Even the World Bank in its Annual Report for 2008 and the editors of the Financial Times of London urged the García regime to address the growing discontent and crisis among the indigenous communities.
Delegations from the indigenous communities had traveled to Lima to try to establish a dialogue with the President in order to address the degradation of their lands and communities. The delegates were met with closed doors. García maintained that ‘progress and modernity come from the big investments by the multinationals…,(rather than) the poor peasants who haven’t a centavo to invest.’ He interpreted the appeals for peaceful dialogue as a sign of weakness among the indigenous inhabitants of the Amazon and increased his grants of exploitation concessions to foreign MNCs even deeper into the Amazon. He cut off virtually all possibility for dialogue and compromise with the Indian communities.
The Amazonian Indian communities responded by forming the Inter-Ethnic Association for the Development of the Peruvian Rainforest (AIDESEP). They held public protests for over 7 weeks culminating in the blocking of two transnational highways. This enraged García, who referred to the protestors as ‘savages and barbarians’ and sent police and military units to suppress the mass action. What García failed to consider was the fact that a significant proportion of indigenous men in these villages had served as rmy conscripts, who fought in the 1995 war against Ecuador while others had been trained in local self-defense community organizations. These combat veterans were not intimidated by state terror and their resistance to the initial police attacks resulted in both police and Indian casualties. García then declared ‘war on the savages’ sending a heavy military force with helicopters and armored troops with orders to ‘shoot to kill’. AIDESEP activists report over one hundred deaths among the indigenous protestors and their families: Indians were murdered in the streets, in their homes and workplaces. The remains of many victims are believed to have been dumped in the ravines and rivers.
The Obama regime has predictably not issued a single word of concern or protest in the face of one of the worst massacres of Peruvian civilians in this decade – perpetrated by one of America’s closest remaining allies in Latin America. García, taking his talking points from the US Ambassador, accused Venezuela and Bolivia of having instigated the Indian ‘uprising’, quoting a letter of support from Bolivia’s President Evo Morales sent to an intercontinental conference of Indian communities held in Lima in May as ‘proof’. Martial law was declared and the entire Amazon region of Peru is being militarized. Meetings are banned and family members are forbidden from searching for their missing relatives.
Throughout Latin America, all the major Indian organizations have expressed their solidarity with the Peruvian indigenous movements. Within Peru, mass social movements, trade unions and human rights groups have organized a general strike on June 11. Fearing the spread of mass protests, El Commercio, the conservative Lima daily, cautioned García to adopt some conciliatory measures to avoid a generalized urban uprising. A one-day truce was declared on June 10, but the Indian organizations refused to end their blockade of the highways unless the García Government rescinds its illegal land grant decrees.
In the meantime, a strange silence hangs over the White House. Our usually garrulous President Obama, so adept at reciting platitudes about diversity and tolerance and praising peace and justice, cannot find a single phrase in his prepared script condemning the massacre of scores of indigenous inhabitants of the Peruvian Amazon. When egregious violations of human rights are committed in Latin America by a US backed client-President following Washington’s formula of ‘free trade’, deregulation of environmental protections and hostility toward anti-imperialist countries (Venezuela, Bolivia and Ecuador), Obama favors complicity over condemnation.
James Petras is a frequent contributor to Global Research.
Tuesday, June 2, 2009
The carcinogenic effects of radiation exposure are most severe among infants and children.
(NEW YORK) - Leukemia death rates in U.S. children near nuclear reactors rose sharply (vs. the national trend) in the past two decades, according to a recent study.
The greatest mortality increases occurred near the oldest nuclear plants, while declines were observed near plants that closed permanently in the 1980s and 1990s. The study was published in the most recent issue of the European Journal of Cancer Care.
The study updates an analysis conducted in the late 1980s by the National Cancer Institute (NCI). That analysis, mandated by Senator Edward M. Kennedy (D-MA), is the only attempt federal officials have made to examine cancer rates near U.S. nuclear plants.
U.S. Rep. Edward J. Markey (D-MA), a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, said
"Nothing is more important to American families than the health of their children. It is critical that we continue to improve our understanding of the causes of child leukemia and learn how this heartbreaking disease be prevented, therefore this study deserves critical consideration."
Actor and advocate Alec Baldwin said:
"exposure to ambient levels of radiation near nuclear reactors used by public utilities has long been suspected as a significant contributor to various cancers and other diseases." Baldwin, who has a long-standing interest in radiation health issues, adds "nuclear power is not the clean, efficient energy panacea to which we are presently being reintroduced. It is dirty, poses serious security threats to our country, and is ridiculously expensive. Nukes are still a military technology forced on the American public with a dressed up civilian application."
Study authors were epidemiologist Joseph Mangano MPH MBA, Director of the Radiation and Public Health Project and toxicologist Janette Sherman MD of the Environmental Institute at Western Michigan University. They analyzed leukemia deaths in children age 0-19 in the 67 counties near 51 nuclear power plants starting 1957-1981 (the same counties in the NCI study). About 25 million people live in these 67 counties, and the 51 plants represent nearly half of the U.S. total).
Using mortality statistics from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mangano and Sherman found that in 1985-2004, the change in local child leukemia mortality (vs. the U.S.) compared to the earliest years of reactor operations were:
* An increase of 13.9% near nuclear plants started 1957-1970 (oldest plants)
* An increase of 9.4% near nuclear plants started 1971-1981 (newer plants)
* A decrease of 5.5% near nuclear plants started 1957-1981 and later shut down
The 13.9% rise near the older plants suggests a potential effect of greater radioactive contamination near aging reactors, while the 5.5% decline near closed reactors suggests a link between less contamination and lower leukemia rates. The large number of child leukemia deaths in the study (1292) makes many of the results statistically significant.
The Mangano/Sherman report follows a 2007 meta-analysis also published in the European Journal of Cancer Care by researchers from the Medical University of South Carolina. That report reviewed 17 medical journal articles on child leukemia rates near reactors, and found that all 17 detected elevated rates. A January 2008 European Journal of Cancer article that found high rates of child leukemia near German reactors from 1980-2003 is believed to be the largest study on the topic (1592 leukemia cases).
The carcinogenic effects of radiation exposure are most severe among infants and children. Leukemia is the type of childhood cancer most closely associated with exposures to toxic agents such as radiation, and has been most frequently studied by scientists. In the U.S., childhood leukemia incidence has risen 28.7% from 1975-2004 according to CDC data, suggesting that more detailed studies on causes are warranted.
Last month, a little-known company where Summers served on the board of directors received a $42 million investment from a group of investors, including three banks that Summers, Obama’s effective “economy czar,” has been doling out billions in bailout money to: Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, and Morgan Stanley. The banks invested into the small startup company, Revolution Money, right at the time when Summers was administering the “stress test” to these same banks.
A month after they invested in Summers’ former company, all three banks came out of the stress test much better than anyone expected -- thanks to the fact that the banks themselves were allowed to help decide how bad their problems were (Citigroup “negotiated” down its financial hole from $35 billion to $5.5 billion.)
The fact that the banks invested in the company just a few months after Summers resigned suggests the appearance of corruption, because it suggests to other firms that if you hire Larry Summers onto your board, large banks will want to invest as a favor to a politically-connected director.
Last month, it was revealed that Summers, whom President Obama appointed to essentially run the economy from his perch in the National Economic Council, earned nearly $8 million in 2008 from Wall Street banks, some of which, like Goldman Sachs and Citigroup, were now receiving tens of billions of taxpayer funds from the same Larry Summers. It turns out now that those two banks have continued paying into Summers-related businesses.
According to filings obtained for this story, Summers first joined the board of directors of Revolution Money back in 2006 (when it was called “GratisCard”), the same year that Summers was forced to resign as president of Harvard after his disastrous tenure. Revolution Money/GratisCard was a startup headed by former AOL chief Steve Case. Revolution Money billed itself as the Next Big Thing in online payment, “PayPal meets Mastercard,” according to their own pitch.
In September 2007, Revolution Money announced that it had raised $50 million from a group of investors including Citigroup, Morgan Stanley and Deutsche Bank. Some found the investment strange even then, because normally big banks don’t get involved in seeding small startups -- that’s the domain of venture capitalists, not mega-banks. Especially not in September, 2007, when these same megabanks were Chernobyling their way into full-fledged balance-sheet meltdown.
What seems clear is that at least part of Revolution Money’s success in raising funds is due to their star-studded board of directors -- which included not only Larry Summers, but also the notorious Frank Raines, the former Fannie Mae chief whom Time Magazine named to its “25 People To Blame For The Financial Crisis” list. Raines is still a board member.
Over the next year and a half, Revolution Money didn’t quite live up to its promise of competing with PayPal or Visa/Mastercard. At least some of this could be attributed to the difficulty of starting up an online credit card company in the middle of a triple-cluster credit crunch, banking crisis and recession. But there is also evidence that the company wasn’t run well. Another one of Steve Case’s “Revolution” brand startups, “Revolution Health,” (which also features a star-studded board of directors including Carly Fiorina, Colin Powell, and several future-Obama Administration officials) essentially folded last autumn when it was sold to Everyday Health last September and merged into that company’s operations.
In spite of all of this, on April 6, 2009, Revolution Money announced the happy news: it had just successfully raised $42 million dollars in the most difficult market since the 1930s. The investors? Goldman Sachs, Citigroup and Morgan Stanley -- bankrupt institutions that Larry Summers was transferring billions in bailout funds to.
At the very same time that these three megabanks were pouring millions into Summers’ former company, Obama’s economic team, starring Larry Summers, was subjecting these same banks to a “stress test” to decide how deep in shit these same banks really were. The banks wanted the government to fudge the results for obvious reasons -- who wants the world to know how deep of a hole you’ve dug for yourself?
When the stress test results were finally released, the banks all came out with glowing reports that beat expectations and caused plenty of skepticism.
In an interview for this article, William Black, a former bank regulator who exposed the $160 billion Savings & Loan scandal and its ties to powerful U.S. Senators, remarked,“Summers wasn’t hired [by Revolution Money] for his expertise because he doesn’t have relevant expertise in this kind of credit card operation.”
“He’s not a techie. He doesn’t have business expertise," Black said. "So this is solely someone hired for the name and contacts because he’s politically active and politically connected. And that’s made all the more clear by the fact that Frank Raines was put on the board at a time when he was pushed out in disgrace from Fannie Mae. Why? Because of his political connections.”
And it worked, as the recent investment shows.
“That’s the pattern of this entity,” said Black, “Which hasn’t been doing well financially and desperately needs to get money from others, and has been able to get money from banks at a time when [these same banks] largely stopped lending to productive enterprises. But with this politically-connected entity [Revolution Money], they’re happy to dump money.”
According to a company spokesperson, Summers resigned from the board of directors at Revolution Money this January, just three months before the banks invested. On one of Revolution Money’s main websites, Revolution Money Exchange, you could still see Summers' name still listed as a director when this story was filed
(Oddly, company filings obtained for this article show that Summers wasn’t even on Revolution Money’s board of directors in 2007-8, even though both he and Revolution Money repeatedly stated that he was on the board, and only served on GratisCard’s board in 2006, “c/o Revolution GC Holdings LLC.”)
Whatever the case, Summers was pushing Revolution Money as recently as last September, in an interview with Portfolio magazine:
“I've enjoyed being involved with a number of smaller companies such as the Revolution Money venture, which has a potentially very exciting credit-card technology, using credit and debit technology, using the internet that, in a sense, brings together bricks and clicks by providing both a capacity for regular retail transactions and also for online.”
Whether or not Summers has a personal interest in the company, it still stinks that a company where the head of the National Economic Council served on the board of until just a few months ago subsequently received millions in investment funds from banks Summers bailed out. Taxpayer dollars went into these banks, and from the banks into the Summers-connected firm, a firm he was hired onto precisely because his connections could bring in this kind of money.
His involvement wasn’t just incidental—if you look at the press releases, Larry Summers’ name is always touted as part of its selling point -- one press release in 2007 refers to Summers as “Legendary.”
Moreover, Summers’ longtime chief of staff, Marne Levine, who also served as Summers’ chief of staff when he was in Treasury under Clinton and again at Harvard, joined Summers at Revolution Money, serving as “Director of Product Management.”
Black pointed out another sleazy aspect of Revolution Money's pitch: it proudly boasted in late 2007 that it would make it easier than ever for people with low credit ratings to find access to lines of credit. In other words, Revolution Money billed itself as the ultimate ghetto loan shark.
According to a 2007 press release, the same one boasting of “Legendary” Larry Summers, “Unlike most bank credit card issuers who are limited to a narrow scope of credit approval guidelines specific to their bank, RevolutionCard seamlessly utilizes multiple partners to achieve unparalleled consumer approval rates.”
Nineteen months later, Larry Summers, now in control of the economy, told Meet The Press, “We need to do things to stop the marketing of credit in ways that addicts people to it and so that our households are again savings, and families are again preparing to send their kids to college, for their retirement and so forth.”
So once again, Larry Summers creates a problem that the rich profit from, then is put in charge of “fixing” it after vulnerable Americans have been picked clean.
Whether or not the three bailed-out banks’ investment in Revolution Money last month represents some kind of bribe or kickback or even the appearance of corruption is almost secondary, because the shameless cronyism is the problem, and this is the reason why America is in the horrible mess today.
“Polite society was supposed to impose social pressures to make sure this wasn’t tolerated,” Black said. “Like the old phrase about hogs being slaughtered. But now the hogs get even wealthier, even fatter.”
Everything about Summers, from his horrible track record in the developing world in the 1990s to the sleaze and plunder he’s overseeing in the White House should make us terrified. Hell, he even looks like some old Batman villain: Summers, whose trademark bullfrog neck was enough of a distraction before Obama brought him into the White House, has seen his gelatinous layers of neck-fat swell up like an amphibian guarding its eggs ever since he took control of the economy.
Get this monster out of the White House now, before he devours us all.
Read more of Mark Ames at the Exiled. He is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder, and Rebellion: From Reagan's Workplaces to Clinton's Columbine and Beyond