Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Syrian Air Force general assassinated in capital

Members of the terrorist Free Syrian Army (File Photo)

Source: Press TV

A Syrian Air Forces general has been assassinated in the capital, Damascus, as clashes between government forces and insurgents continue.

General Abdullah Mahmud al-Khalidi was shot dead on Monday evening in the northern Damascus neighborhood of Rukn al-Din, Syria's state television reported without providing further details.

Local media has blamed terrorist groups fighting against the Syrian government for the killing, adding that it was part of an insurgent campaign to target top figures and scientists.

Meanwhile, at least 25 insurgents were killed after members of two armed groups clashed in Aleppo suburb of Izaz on Tuesday over the distribution of goods they had stolen from locals.

There are also reports of clashes between government forces and foreign-backed insurgents in Hama, Dayr al-Zawr and Damascus suburbs. According to Syria's official news agency SANA, many insurgents were killed in Salah-Eddin and al-Khazan districts of Harasta in Damascus countryside.

Syrian troops also defused a number of explosive devices in Harasta.

Syria has been experiencing unrest since mid-March 2011. Many people, including large numbers of security forces, have been killed in the violence.

Crowd control - Bahrain bans all public gatherings

Anti-government protesters gesture as they march during an anti-government rally held by Wefaq, Bahrain's main opposition party, in Bilad al-Qadeem, west of Manama October 19, 2012. (Reuters/Hamad I Mohammed)

Source: Russia Today

Bahraini authorities have prohibited protest gatherings and rallies until further notice, a day after police cracked down heavily on demonstrators, once again during the 20-month fatality-riddled unrest.

­The statement made by the country’s Interior Ministry did not define precise measures that could be taken should new protests occur.

A curfew and special military tribunals were introduced several months into uprising that began in Bahrain in February 2011. AP reported that the early period of the unrest left at least 50 people dead in the violence.

However, Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid Bin Abdullah Al Khalifa stressed that “rallies and gatherings will be considered illegal, and legal action will be taken against anyone calling for or taking part in them.”

The news comes only a day after security forces cracked down on protesters next to the capital, Manama, using teargas and rubber bullets. Demonstrators took to the streets to rally for the release of political prisoners – and against the long-standing rule of the King Hamad bin Isa Al Khalifa.

Just under two weeks ago, Bahrain detained four people after they reportedly defamed the King via Twitter. The four were held for seven days pending trial, according to the official Bahrain News Agency. The authorities gave no further details on the suspects or the contents of their tweets. The trial date and the suspects’ fate remain unknown.

One of the most prominent opposition activists in the country, Nabeel Rajab is currently challenging the three-year jail sentence for allegedly encouraging illegal protests and violence in Bahrain via Twitter. His next hearing will take place on November 8.

Another well-known activist, Said Yousif, was arrested in mid-August after speaking out in support of Nabeel Rajab’s detention.

Head of Monitoring in Bahrain Center for Human Rights, Sayed Yousif Almuhafda thinks that the latest measure is simply “an attempt to completely squash [the] people’s uprising. In fact, Bahrain can be called an unfinished segment of the Arab Spring, which has never been allowed [to] flower.”


Swiss banking giant UBS AG to cut about 10,000 jobs worldwide

Swiss banking giant UBS has announced plans to slash some 10,000 jobs worldwide

Source: Press TV

The largest bank in Switzerland, UBS AG, has announced plans to cut about 10,000 jobs worldwide, as the economic crisis in the European country continues to worsen.

"This decision has been a difficult one, particularly in a business such as ours that is all about its people. Some reductions will result from natural attrition and we will take whatever measures we can to mitigate the overall effect,” UBS chief executive Sergio Ermotti said in a statement released on Tuesday.

According to the statement, the decision is part of a restructuring plan devised in response to the global economic downturn and the European financial crisis.

Reports say that the Zurich-based bank aims to save over three billion dollars until the end of 2015.

The bank has also posted a net loss of 2.3 billion dollars in the third quarter of 2012.

Since the beginning of the financial crisis in Europe, UBS which employs more than 63,000 people, has been hit by billions of dollars in trading losses, management mishaps and scandals.

Last year, the Swiss bank said it would cut only 5 percent of its workforce, or about 3,500 jobs. It also appointed new executives that have promised to emphasize the bank’s wealth management business and decrease its capital markets activities.

Europe plunged into the financial crisis in early 2008. Insolvency now threatens heavily debt-ridden countries such as Greece, Portugal, Italy, Ireland and Spain.

The worsening debt crisis has forced the EU governments to adopt harsh austerity measures and tough economic reforms, which have triggered incidents of social unrest and massive protests in many European countries.

Turkish police teargas thousands-strong secularist demo

Source: Russia Today

Tear gas and water cannons met thousands of protesters in Ankara who had staged a pro-secular rally on Republic Day. The clashes mark a growing gap between the Islam-leaning government and the country's secular layers.

­“Turkey is secular and will remain secular!” chanted protesters waving Turkish flags and banners.

The capital’s governor last week banned a planned pro-secular rally citing fears that “some groups may seek to incite anarchy in the country.” But Monday, over 30 civil society groups, led by the Youth Union of Turkey, still took to the streets.

Tens of thousands gathered in Ankara's old city to march to the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, who founded the secular republic on October 29, 1923 after the collapse of the Ottoman Empire.

We are the soldiers of Mustafa Kemal!” shouted the demonstrators, who have been angered by an Islamic bent demonstrated recently by the government of Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Since Erdogan first occupied the PM’s seat in 2003, his government has pushed a number of democratic reforms to bring Turkey closer to EU standards, such as abolishment of many restrictions on freedom of speech and the press.

But a recent education reform has been slammed by opposition groups as “promoting more Korans in schools and veil wearing.” Other criticisms stem from Erdogan’s strong political personality, with many suspecting the PM of “elected sultan” ambitions.

In recent years, Republic Day celebrations have become a common date to mark the country’s fears for its secular traditions. But as on Monday demonstrators failed to reach Mustafa Kemal’s mausoleum, where Erdogan, President Abdullah Gul and other top officials had laid wreaths hours earlier.

Great Ataturk… We stand before you with the pride of being a country that is improving its democracy, protecting human rights and freedoms, strengthening its economy and maintaining reforms. We are trying our best to surpass the level of contemporary civilization, to maintain the basic values of our republic,” President Gul wrote in the special ceremonial register at the mausoleum.

Riot police use tear gas and water canons to disperse the crowd as thousands of people holding national flags marched to the mausoleum of Ataturk to celebrate the country's Republic Day in Ankara, on October 29, 2012. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

Riot police use tear gas and water canons to disperse the crowd as thousands of people holding national flags marched to the mausoleum of Ataturk to celebrate the country's Republic Day in Ankara, on October 29, 2012. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

The Ankara governor's office has banned the Republic Day rally, arguing that the state's security services received intelligence that groups might be planning "provocative" actions. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

Thousands of people holding national flags gather at the mausoleum of Ataturk to celebrate the country's Republic Day in Ankara, on October 29, 2012. (AFP Photo / Adem Altan)

Monday, October 29, 2012

Key witness in Polish presidential plane crash dies foulplay suspected

Polish President Lech Kaczynski's Tu-154 aircraft debris (RIA Novosti / Oleg Mineev)

Source: Russia Today

A Polish parliamentary investigation into President’s Lech Kaczynski plane crash in Smolensk in 2010 is considering witness protection: A flight engineer set to deliver critical testimony was found hanged in his house in Warsaw.

­The body of Remigiusz Muś, a 42-year-old aviation engineer, was found by his wife in the cellar of their house in the suburbs of the Polish capital at around 11:30pm local time on Saturday. She called an ambulance and attempted to resuscitate her husband, but medics pronounced him dead as soon as they arrived. An autopsy is set for Monday, October 29.

As news of Muś’ death hit headlines, the head of the Polish parliamentary commission looking into the crash, Antoni Macierewicz, said that Muś was one of two key witnesses in the case. With Muś dead, key witness Artur Wosztyl should be put in protective custody, Macierewicz said.

Dariusz Slepokura, a spokesperson for the Warsaw district prosecutor's office, said on Monday that Muś likely committed suicide.

Muś’ suicide has become the second incident of its kind connected to the investigation of the April 10, 2010, plane crash in Smolensk that killed the Polish president and 95 other people aboard. In January 2012, a Polish prosecutor involved in the investigation shot himself for no apparent reason during a media briefing. Prosecutor Mikolaj Przybyl told reporters he needed a break, and ordered them to leave the briefing room. Immediately after they left, Przybyl shot himself. Doctors managed to save his life, as his brain was not damaged by the self-inflicted wound.

Muś arrived to Smolensk on a Polish Yak-40 airliner carrying the Polish press pool one hour before the President’s plane crashed. Shortly after the incident, Muś retired from aviation.

The catastrophe devastated Polish leadership, as most of the country’s top political, military, financial and religious leaders were on the same flight to Smolensk to commemorate Polish officers imprisoned and brought to the USSR in 1939. The prisoners were later executed in the forests of Katyn, around 14 kilometers west of the city of Smolensk.

During the investigation, Muś testified that he witnessed the ground control in Smolensk communicating with the pilots of the president’s airplane.

Muś claimed that while he rested in the cabin of the plane, he overheard a Russian air traffic control officer giving the president’s plane permission to descend to a ‘landing decision’ height of 50 meters. Muś said that earlier, the aircraft in which he was flying was given the same permission to descend to 50 meters, despite the dense fog covering the Smolensk region that day.

Muś’ testimony contradicted the official version, which said that the traffic controller only allowed the airplane to descend to 100 meters.

The official statement prompted a wide-ranging international investigation by the Interstate Aviation Committee, which included experts from Russia, Poland and the US According to the official narrative delivered by the Committee, the crash of Poland’s presidential plane was largely caused by human error and bad weather. The pilots were warned of heavy fog and low visibility at Smolensk military airfield, and were asked to reroute to a different airport.

The pilot nevertheless made the decision to land. The investigation by the Interstate Aviation Committee revealed that in addition to the severe weather conditions, the pilots had been subjected to pressure by some of the high-ranking passengers onboard. Transcripts from the plane’s black box revealed the pilots were forced to land as soon as possible. The recording also showed that one oficial entered the cockpit many times throughout the flight, and that the Chief of the Air Force of Poland was present in the cockpit at the time of the crash.


Pro-Democracy groups behind Myanmar Refugee Attacks

Supporters of Aung San Suu Kyi, leaders of the "Saffron Revolution," leading ethnic cleansing of Myanmar refugees
By: Tony Cartalucci
Source: Alternative Thai News
People don't just come out into the streets and begin murdering each other. There are always instigators on one side, perhaps both, leading the anger and violence. In the case of targeted Muslim Rohingya refugees in Myanmar's Rakhine state, those leading the the violence against them, which most recently involved 26 killed and 2,000 Rohingya homes destroyed, have been identified.

While the Associated Press (AP) features grainy photos of monks outside the city hall in Yangon, Myanmar, claiming that it is a rally "against violence," the signs themselves tell a different tale. One enumerates, in English, the demands of the "monks." The sign includes:
1. Protect Rakhine People from the Dangers of Islamic Extremism.
2. Army Must stop Shooting the Ethnic People.
3. We Arakanese Don't Want to Live With Extreme Bengalis Anymore.
4. Mr. President Should be Decisive on the Issue of Arakan.
5. Drive all illegal Bengalis out of the Land of Myanmar.
6. All Ethnic People of Myanmar Should be United.
The sign continues, but is obstructed in all the shots provided by AP. All of the news stories featuring the picture do not mention any of the enumerated points on the sign, and instead claim, "Myanmar Buddhist monks offer prayers Thursday during a rally of more than 100 people protesting recent violence."

By "Army Must stop Shooting the Ethnic People," the protesters mean the army should stop firing on their vigilantes for attempting to eradicate the refugees, as the points on the sign enumerate clearly they are the united ethnic people of Myanmar, and the refugees are "illegal Bengalis."
Image: Praying for genocide. While Associated Press claims these protesters are demonstrating against ethnic violence, the sign they carry clearly states that they seek the expulsion of the refugees from Myanmar, and are merely protesting against the Myanmar Army's use of force to protect them from attacks that have left scores dead and thousands of refugee homes destroyed.
In the summer and early fall of 2012 when this wave of violence had again erupted, AFP reported in their article, "Monks stage anti-Rohingya march in Myanmar," that the marching "monks" supported President Thein Sein's plan to expel the Rohingya, before paradoxically admitting that Thein Sein has accused the marchers of "kindling hatred toward the Rohingya."

AFP, in a grave lapse of professional journalism, refers to the leader of this movement as merely "a monk named Wirathu."

However, this isn't merely "a monk named Wirathu," but "Sayadaw" (venerable teacher) Wirathu who has led many of "democratic champion" Aung San Suu Kyi's political street campaigns and is often referred to by the Western media as an "activist monk."

In March of this year, Wirathu had led a rally calling for the release of so-called "political prisoners," so designated by US State Department funded faux-NGOs. Wirathu himself was in prison, according to AFP, for inciting hatred against Muslims, until recently released as part of an amnesty, an amnesty US State Department-funded (page 15, .pdf) Democratic Voice of Burma claims concerned only "political prisoners."

Image: Real monks don't do politics. The "venerable" Wirathu (front, left) leads a rally for "political prisoners" loyal to Aung San Suu Kyi's "pro-democracy" movement in March, 2012. Wirathu himself has been often portrayed as an "activist monk" and a "political prisoner" who spent years in prison. In reality, he was arrested for his role in violent sectarian clashes in 2003, while Suu Kyi's "pro-democracy" front is actually US-funded sedition. Wirathua has picked up right where he left off in 2003, and is now leading anti-Rohingya rallies across the country.
Human Rights Watch itself, in its attempt to memorialize the struggle of "Buddhism and activism in Burma" (.pdf), admits that Wirathu was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 25 years in prison along with other "monks" for their role in violent clashes between "Buddhists and Muslims" (page 67, .pdf). This would make Wirathu and his companions violent criminals, not "political prisoners."

While Western news agencies have attempted to spin the recent violence as a new phenomenon implicating Aung San Suu Kyi's political foot soldiers as genocidal bigots, in reality, the sectarian nature of her support base has been back page news for years. AFP's recent but uncharacteristically honest portrayal of Wirathu, with an attempt to conceal his identity and role in Aung San Suu Kyi's "Saffron" political machine, illustrates the quandary now faced by Western propagandists as the violence flares up again, this time in front of a better informed public.
Image: An alleged monk, carries an umbrella with Aung San Suu Kyi's image on it. These so-called monks have played a central role in building Suu Kyi's political machine, as well as maintaining over a decade of genocidal, sectarian violence aimed at Myanmar's ethnic minorities. Another example of US "democracy promotion" and tax dollars at work.
During 2007's "Saffron Revolution," these same so-called "monks" took to the streets in a series of bloody anti-government protests, in support of Aung San Suu Kyi and her Western-contrived political movement. HRW would specifically enumerate support provided to Aung San Suu Kyi's movement by these organizations, including the Young Monks Union (Association), now leading violence and calls for ethnic cleansing across Myanmar.

The UK Independent in their article, "Burma's monks call for Muslim community to be shunned," mentions the Young Monks Association by name as involved in distributing flyers recently, demanding people not to associate with ethnic Rohingya, and attempting to block humanitarian aid from reaching Rohingya camps.

The Independent also notes calls for ethnic cleansing made by leaders of the 88 Generation Students group (BBC profile here) - who also played a pivotal role in the pro-Suu Kyi 2007 protests. "Ashin" Htawara, another "monk activist" who considers Aung San Suu Kyi, his "special leader" and greeted her with flowers for her Oslo Noble Peace Prize address earlier this year, stated at an event in London that the Rohingya should be sent "back to their native land."

The equivalent of Ku Klux Klan racists demanding that America's black population be shipped back to Africa, the US State Department's "pro-democratic" protesters in Myanmar have been revealed as habitual, violent bigots with genocidal tendencies and enumerated designs. Their recent violence also casts doubts on Western narratives portraying the 2007 "Saffron Revolution's" death toll as exclusively the work of government security operations.

Like their US-funded (and armed) counterparts in Syria, many fighting openly under the flag of sectarian extremism held aloft by international terrorist organization Al Qaeda, we see the absolute moral bankruptcy of Myanmar's "pro-democracy" movement that has, up until now, been skillfully covered up by endless torrents of Western propaganda - Aung San Suu Kyi's Nobel Peace Prize and a recent showering of Western bestowed awards, all being part of the illusion.
Sectarian Violence, Destabilization: What's in it for the West?

In "Myanmar (Burma) "Pro-Democracy" Movement a Creation of Wall Street & London," it was documented that Suu Kyi and organizations supporting her, including local propaganda fronts like the New Era Journal, the Irrawaddy, and the Democratic Voice of Burma (DVB) radio, have received millions of dollars a year from the Neo-Conservative chaired National Endowment for Democracy, convicted criminal and Wall Street speculator George Soros' Open Society Institute, and the US State Department itself, citing Britain's own "Burma Campaign UK (.pdf)."
Image: The Myitsone Dam, on its way to being the 15th largest in the world until construction was halted in September by a campaign led by Wall Street-puppet Aung San Suu Kyi, a stable of US-funded NGOs, and a terrorist campaign executed by armed groups operating in Kachin State, Myanmar.

And not only does the US State Department in tandem with Western corporate media provide Aung San Suu Kyi extensive political, financial, and rhetorical backing, they provide operational capabilities as well, allowing her opposition movement to achieve Western objectives throughout Myanmar. The latest achievement of this operational capability successfully blocked the development of Myanmar's infrastructure by halting a joint China-Mynamar dam project that would have provided thousands of jobs, electricity, state-revenue, flood control, and enhanced river navigation for millions. Suu Kyi and her supporting network of NGOs, as well as armed militants in Myanmar's northern provinces conducted a coordinated campaign exploiting both "environmental" and "human rights" concerns that in reality resulted in Myanmar's continual economic and social stagnation.

The ultimate goal of course is to effect regime change not only in Myanmar, but to create a united Southeast Asian front against China in pursuit of long-documented plans to encircle and contain the emerging superpower.

As reported in June, 2011's "Collapsing China," as far back as 1997 there was talk about developing an effective containment strategy coupled with the baited hook of luring China into its place amongst the "international order." Just as in these 1997 talking-points where author and notorious Neo-Con policy maker Robert Kagan described the necessity of using America's Asian "allies" as part of this containment strategy, Clinton goes through a list of regional relationships the US is trying to cultivate to maintain "American leadership" in Asia.

Image: (Top) The "Lilliputians" though small in stature were collectively able to tie down the larger Gulliver from the literary classic "Gulliver's Travels." In the same manner, the US wants to use smaller Southeast Asian nations to "tie down" the larger China.

The US Army's Strategic Studies Institute 2006 publication, "String of pearls: Meeting the Challenge of China's Rising Power Across the Asian Littoral" details US geopolitical awareness of China's growing influence throughout Asia and enumerates a plan of action to balk it while maintaining American preeminence. While Kagan's paper details a broader geopolitical strategy, the SSI report specifically mentions where China is expanding its influence.

In defining China's "String of Pearls" it states:
Each “pearl” in the “String of Pearls” is a nexus of Chinese geopolitical influence or military
presence. 4 Hainan Island, with recently upgraded military facilities, is a “pearl.” An upgraded airstrip on Woody Island, located in the Paracel archipelago 300 nautical miles east of Vietnam, is a “pearl.” A container shipping facility in Chittagong, Bangladesh, is a “pearl.” Construction of a deep water port in Sittwe, Myanmar, is a “pearl,” as is the construction of a navy base in Gwadar, Pakistan. 5 Port and airfield construction projects, diplomatic ties, and force modernization form the essence of China’s “String of Pearls.” The “pearls” extend from the coast of mainland China through the littorals of the South China Sea, the Strait of Malacca, across the Indian Ocean, and on to the littorals of the Arabian Sea and Persian Gulf. China is building strategic relationships and developing a capability to establish a forward presence along the sea lines of communication (SLOCs) that connect China to the Middle East (see Figure 1).
Image: Figure 1. From SSI's 2006 "String of Pearls" report detailing a strategy of containment for China. While "democracy," "freedom," and "human rights" will mask the ascension of Aung San Suu Kyi and others into power, it is part of a region-wide campaign to overthrow nationalist elements and install client regimes in order to encircle and contain China. Violence in areas like Sittwe, Rakhine Myanmar, or Gwadar Baluchistan Pakistan, are not coincidences and documented evidence indicates immense Western backing for armed opposition groups.
The report was written in 2006 - and clearly the West has gone through great lengths since then to destabilize, neutralize, or isolate from China's influence each and every one of these "pearls." Indeed, the state of Rakhine in southwest Myanmar is being developed by China as stated in the SSI report. The city of Sittwe is the site of a Chinese-built port, and Kyaukpyu is the future site for the terminal of a trans-Myanmar oil pipeline linking Chinese oil tankers incoming from the Middle East directly with China's Yunnan province, negating the lengthy trip around the Strait of Malacca and across the South China Sea.

By destabilizing Rakhine state, either through this current violence, or by "radicalizing" groups within the Rohingya and expanding the violence further still, the West can ensure that progress is slow, or all together brought to a halt, just as it has with Chinese projects up country, or even abroad in nations like war-torn Libya or Pakistan's now destabilized Baluchistan province. The SSI report also mentions Chittagong, Bangladesh, which also, coincidentally, has been dragged into neighboring Myanmar's violence.

A library of policy papers detailing the US' strategy vis-a-vis China's emergence is available for the public to read. However, these papers are written in academic English and require demanding prerequisites across a variety of disciplines to understand. It also requires effort greatly exceeding that needed to merely consider and accept base arguments made by prominent and prolific Western media services. There is always more to a story than mere superficial religious or ethnic differences - and if a news story fails to address this, it has failed to report the truth
For more News and Opinion by Tony Cartalucci:
Land Destroyer

Financial Turbulence: New Downturn in the Global Economy

By: Nick Beams
Source: Global Research

There are increasing signs that the global economy is about to enter a new period of financial turbulence, coupled with deepening recession in a growing number of countries.

In the immediate aftermath of the global economic breakdown that began in 2008, set off by the collapse of the US investment bank Lehman Brothers, governments around the world took on increased debt as they made available trillions of dollars to prevent a complete collapse of the financial system. Meetings of the Group of 20 were dominated by pledges there would be no return to the conditions of the 1930s and assurances that the lessons of history had been learned.

The writings of John Maynard Keynes, the British economist of the 1930s who advocated increased government spending to counter depressions, were suddenly back in vogue. But a sharp turn came in June 2010, when a meeting of the G20 initiated a turn to austerity, emphasising the necessity to impose “fiscal consolidation.” The essence of this program was to claw back the money given to the banks through massive cutbacks to government spending, especially on social services.

However, this program brought a contraction in economic growth leading to decreased profit opportunities for major corporations. Faced with this situation, the US Federal Reserve initiated a policy of “quantitative easing”—the provision of unlimited supplies of money to banks and financial institutions. Central banks around the world cut interest rates to record lows and followed that up with their own versions of quantitative easing (QE). Under conditions of a stagnant real economy, these measures were aimed at boosting the value of financial assets, thereby providing a new avenue for finance houses to realise speculative profits.

While the QE program and its equivalents have been touted as a means of preventing a slide into global recession—US Fed Chairman Ben Bernanke claimed the recently enacted QE3 program was motivated by continuing high unemployment—they have done virtually nothing to boost the real economy. Their only significant impact has been to increase profits through financial manipulation, with the ultra-cheap money provided by the central banks.

But now there are signs that a new stage in the global breakdown is underway, marked by growing recessionary trends, as the impact of the central bankers’ program wanes.

Share prices in the US, which had been lifted by the QE program, have started to fall as companies report a downturn in sales and profits amid announcements of further job cuts. This week American companies pointed to weakening global demand and the fears generated by the continuing financial crisis in Europe.

Dow Chemical announced it would axe 2,400 jobs, 5 percent of its global workforce. It also said it would shut 20 plants and cut capital spending by $500 million, citing a “slow-growth environment in the near term.” DuPont, the largest US chemical group, announced 1,500 layoffs and a loss for the third quarter. It pointed to a sharp drop in sales to the Asia-Pacific region, where volumes were down 10 percent compared to a year ago, dealing a blow to claims that so-called “emerging markets” would provide an alternative source of global demand.

Overall, US corporate profits and earnings are expected to fall for the first time since 2009. The latest data on the US economy show that gross domestic product (GDP) grew at an annual rate of only 2 percent in the third quarter, well below that required to maintain employment levels. Were it not for the effect of an increase in defence spending, the figure would have been significantly under market expectations.

The most significant feature of the US GDP data was investment spending. Its continuing decline reduced the overall growth figure by 0.1 percentage points for the quarter, while imports and exports both fell, taking off 0.2 percentage points.

While the central bankers will continue to pump money into financial markets, these measures will do nothing to turn the situation around. This week, in a major speech, the governor of the Bank of England, Mervyn King, noted that every increase in the money supply had a declining impact on the real economy.

His warnings are confirmed by historical trends. Writing in the Financial Times, financial analyst Satyajit Das pointed out that between 2001 and 2008, borrowing against the rising value of houses contributed about half the growth in the US. “But ever increasing borrowings are needed to sustain growth. By 2008, $4 to $5 of debt was required to create $1 of US growth, up from $1 to $2 in the 1950s. China now needs $6 to $8 of credit to generate $1 of growth, an increase from around $1 to $2 15-20 years ago.”

At the meetings of the G20 in 2009, government leaders insisted there would be no return to the protectionist measures of the 1930s which had such a devastating impact on world trade. But the QE program is producing a twenty-first century version of the beggar-thy-neighbour policies of the Great Depression. The flood of money from the US Federal Reserve has pushed down the value of the US dollar, hitting the export markets of its competitors and leading to the development of “currency wars” as they try to maintain their position.

Furthermore, the boosting of financial assets under conditions of slowing economic growth threatens to replicate the conditions that sparked the 2008 collapse on an even broader scale. This is because, unlike the situation four years ago, the central banks themselves are now heavily involved in financial markets and stand to lose massive amounts in a market collapse.

The central bankers and capitalist politicians claim that while their actions may not have promoted growth, they have at least averted a return to the conditions of the 1930s. These claims are belied by the conditions in Spain and Greece, where unemployment is already at 1930s levels.

Moreover, when viewed from an historical perspective, their self-congratulations are somewhat premature. The Great Depression came after a decade of financial and economic turbulence set off by the breakdown of global capitalism that began with the outbreak of World War I in 1914.

This time around, the capitalist breakdown began with a financial crisis that has now set in motion a deepening contraction in world economy.

Like their counterparts in an earlier period, the ruling elites have no response to the historic crisis of the profit system other than a social counterrevolution against the working class, militarism, and the imposition of dictatorial forms of rule.

Far from ending, the global economic crisis is only just beginning. The working class must respond by developing its own independent program based on an intransigent political struggle for the overthrow of the bankrupt capitalist profit system and the bringing of the banks and major corporations under public ownership in order to establish a planned world socialist economy.

Nick Beams

Thousands march in Madrid against government austerity measures

Demonstrators take part in a protest against the government's austerity reforms and the public payment of bank's debts in Madrid on October 27, 2012 (AFP Photo / Caesar Manso)

Source: Russia Today

A massive police escort accompanied tens of thousands of Spaniards marching on the country’s parliament in Madrid as part of anti-austerity protests.

The 2.3-kilometers march organized by the "Surround parliament" protest group was closely guarded by law enforcement with dog teams, vans with reinforced windows, officers in full riot gear as well as mounted police.

At the Parliament, the crowd was greeted by an even larger police presence and pushed them back behind a chain of metal rail barricades.

Demonstrators were protesting against the latest measures introduced by Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy's government as tens of thousands of jobs were lost in the third quarter with a bank bailout in sight.

“And now they are going to give banks a bailout, rescue them as if they were princesses,” Alan Pipo told the AP. “They should be put out on the streets, just like all those families who are being evicted from their homes because they are unable to keep up with mortgage payments! "

Demonstrators held a minute’s silence with their backs turned on parliament to show their condemnation of the government’s policies, that’s as a quarter of Spaniards are now unemployed.

The crowd also moved in front of Bankia Bank, where a group of protesters have been camping out since Monday, in an effort to pressure the bank to halt evictions that have so far affected 400,000 families in Spain.

Earlier on Saturday, nearly 3,000 off-duty police officers had also taken to the streets to voice their anger over austerity measures and the withdrawal of their Christmas bonuses.

Overall the Spanish economy has been struggling for years and now faces a staggering unemployment rate among the young of 52.34 per cent according to country’s National Statistical Institute.

In an effort to rebound the economic growth PM Rajoy has hiked taxes, cut spending and introduced harsh labor reforms in an effort to persuade investors that his government can manage Spain's financial trouble without a full bailout.

But some researchers believe that instead of cutting spending, it might be wise to increase it.

“The alternative is actually not to cut spending, but to invest in the economy, to invest in growth to make sure that there’re jobs. And the only way to ultimately get out of this debt, is to grow out of debt and not to cut your way of debt,” Jerome Roos, a researcher on the EU debt crisis at the European University Institute in Florence, told RT.

Spain’s economic output has shrunk for five quarters in a row and the country’s banking sector has been given a €100 billion loan by the 17 Eurozone states.
2012 Oct 27

Violent clashes erupt as Italy protests austerity

Screen shot from AP video

Source: Russia Today

Violent clashes erupted between police and protesters in the northern Italian town of Riva del Garda as tens of thousands took to the streets of Italy in a nationwide anti-austerity demonstration dubbed ‘No Monti Day.’

Police used tear gas and batons to disperse the crowd of angry protesters who fought back with clubs and banners on the streets of Riva del Garda.

Reports say the country’s Prime Minister Mario Monti, who is seen by many as a root cause of the Italian people’s suffering, was attending a meeting in Riva del Garda when the clashes began.

The demonstration in Riva del Garda was just one out of many taking place in Italy on Saturday.

In Rome police expected some 30,000 to take to the streets, but activists estimate that up to 100,000 showed up.

Protesters marched through the city to demand more jobs, investment in schools and universities, more money for healthcare and the end of the austerity policy brokered by Monti and his technocratic cabinet.

Monti, who replaced Silvio Berlusconi last November, is accused of introducing tough austerity measures that have hit ordinary Italians hardest asthe country’s economy continues to falter.

The protests in Italy come a year after ‘Occupy Rome’ turned extremely violent as scores of masked protesters attacked police with rocks, clubs and hummers.

The rioters torched cars, smashed windows, looted shops and even set the building housing Italy’s Defense Ministry on fire.
2012 Oct 26

Spain jobless rate exceeds 25 percent in 3rd quarter

People wait in line at a government employment office in the center of Madrid on September 4, 2012.

Source: Press TV

Official data show that Spanish unemployment rate has exceeded 25 percent in the third quarter of 2012 as the country continues to grapple with economic woes.

New figures released by Spain’s National Statistics Institute on Friday showed that the country’s unemployment rate climbed to 25.02 percent in the third quarter, up from the previous 24.63 percent.

The institute also pointed out that a total of 5.78 million people were out of work in the July-September quarter, up 85,000 from the previous three months, while the number of Spanish households in which every member is unemployed rose to 1.74 million.

The release of the recent figures follows Spain’s labour unions call for a general strike for November 14.

With its high unemployment rate, Spain is under pressure to get its public finances back on track amid concerns in the markets over the state of the country’s banks and the wider economy.

The Spanish government has also been sharply criticized over the austerity measures that are hitting the middle and working classes the hardest.

Public protests have grown in the country over speculation that the government will seek a Greek-style European bailout to keep its borrowing costs in check.

Meanwhile, Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy’s proposed 2013 draft budget is expected to slash the overall spending by 40 billion euros ($51.7 billion), freeze the salaries of public workers, and reduce spending for unemployment benefits.

Battered by the global financial downturn, Spain’s economy collapsed into recession in the second half of 2008, taking with it millions of jobs.

French banks get blow from S&P, as Eurozone crisis weighs

(AFP Photo /Philippe Huguen)

Source: Russia Today

S&P downgraded three French banks, including the 3rd biggest lender in the world BNP Paribas, saying the outlook for another 10 lenders was negative. The agency said European turmoil was increasingly pressing, with economic data backing the gloom.

Banque Solfea and Cofidis were the other 2 French lenders that came into the S&P firing line. The agency cut the outlook on another 10 banks including such market giants as Societe Generale, and Credit Agricole to negative from stable.

In its decision, S&P lowered its long-term rating on BNP Paribas to “A+” from “AA-", while cuttingsmaller players Banque Solfea to “A-” from “A” and Cofidis to “BBB+” from “A-". The forecast on both short – and long – term ratings was negative.

“…the constraints of a relatively high public debt burden, reduced external competitiveness and persistent high unemployment are being aggravated in our view by the ongoing eurozone crisis, a more protracted recession across Europe, and lower domestic growth prospects”, S&P said in its press-release.

“We consider that this economic environment, including the persistence of low interest rates, will put pressure on domestic revenue growth for French banks in 2013-2014,” the agency added.

The recent economic data has indeed been saying that the second largest European economy is coming closer to a recession, agrees Anna Bodrova of Investcafe. “While it [France] remains one of the strongest European economies, the country is clearly suffering financial difficulties,” the analyst added.

Earlier this week the central Bank of France said the $2.56trln economy was set to contract 0.1% in 3Q, which will mark the first quarter of contraction since the start of 2009.

Another economic benchmark released this week was a preliminary Purchasing Manager Index (PMI) that is used as an indicator of business activity. Despite a slight improvement in October to 44.8 from a September reading of 43.2, the figure showed the French economy remained under pressure.

Any figures below 50 signal contraction.

“The latest Flash PMI data for France indicate a lack of any significant improvement from the severe weakness seen in September. With GDP looking likely to have contracted in Q3, the latest poor figures suggest that the downward momentum has been carried over into Q4 and the economy could well end the year in recession. A further weakening of business sentiment in the service sector to its lowest since the start of 2009 underlines the pervasive gloom among businesses at present as uncertainty drags on and investment decisions are delayed accordingly,” Jack Kennedy, Senior Economist at Markit and author of the Flash France PMI, commented in the report.

The country’s Government also cut its official forecast for the next year, with France’s President Francois Hollande saying the economy was expected to grow just a notch above zero – about 0.8% – which compares to a 1.2% expansion forecast before.

Canadian police urge Parliament to pass domestic spying bill

(AFP Photo / Patrick Kovarik)

Source: Russia Today

Police across Canada are urging Ottawa to resurrect a controversial Internet surveillance bill that would allow them to monitor Canadians' digital activities in real-time without a warrant.

­The Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police has made a plea to on the federal government to pass Bill C-30, also known as the Protecting Children from Internet Predators Act ahead of a gathering by the provincial and federal justice ministers next week.

The group is concerned that Parliament will be closed down before the legislation is passed.

“We have a fear that it will die on the order paper,” said Vancouver Police Chief Jim Chu, who is also the president of the association. “And if it does, then our investigators will be constrained and victims will suffer greater harm because of that,” the Canadian Press reports.

Deputy police chief Warren Lemcke agreed with Chu’s assessment, saying that “right now there are gangsters out there communicating about killing someone and we can't intercept that,” as cited by CBC news.

The legislature, introduced in the Canadian Parliament last February, demands that the country’s telecommunication industry provide law enforcement with the “authority to intercept communications and to require telecommunications service providers to provide subscriber and other information, without unreasonably impairing the privacy of individuals, the provision of telecommunications services to Canadians or the competitiveness of the Canadian telecommunications industry.”

If passed, the law would also give the police the power to make it a crime to use social media as a tool to injure, alarm or harass individuals. It would also grant access to the individual’s private data such as name, address, phone number and email without a warrant.

The law would ask the companies to place tracking bugs in their programs so that police, if needed, could spy on conversations if they got the necessary legal approvals.

Until now, C-30 has remained shelved by Parliament, and has not been debated after receiving mass criticism when it was originally released.

Critics claimed that the authorities would likely use the powers to harass peaceful protestors and activists.

A number of social media protests were organized, one of which circulated personal details from the divorce files of the bill’s sponsor of the bill-Public Safety Minister’s Vic Toews.

People also marched on the streets, demanding checks to the would-be unlimited police powers.

A public opinion poll conducted by Angus Reid after the bill’s introduction concluded that "the idea of surrendering subscriber data and identifiers without a warrant” is rejected by almost two thirds of Canadians.


Sunday, October 28, 2012

US keeps nearly 70 nuclear bombs in southern Turkey: Report

A US B61 thermonuclear bomb (file photo)

Source: Press TV

A report says the United States keeps about 70 B61 nuclear bombs at a military base in southern Turkey.

According to a recent report published by the Arabic Nakhel news agency, Turkish sources said the bombs are kept at Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base in Adana province.

The thermonuclear bomb, which is 3.53 meters long and weighs 320 kilograms, is considered as one of the most strategic weapons of the US.

Between 10 to 20 of the bombs were stored at Turkey’s Balikesir and Ekinci airbases before they were transferred to Incirlik, the report said.

Turkey is also home to a controversial NATO radar base manned by US forces, which is part of a larger US-led missile system.

The missile system became operational in Turkey’s eastern province of Malatya in early 2012.

Some leading Turkish politicians and lawmakers have cautioned that the system will not be beneficial to Turkey and will only serve the interests of the Israeli regime.

The stationing of the US-sponsored radar system in Turkey was hailed by American officials as the most significant military cooperation between Washington and Ankara since 2003, when Turkey refused to allow a US armored division to cross Turkish territory to join the military invasion of Iraq from the north.

US vows to make Mali next stop in ‘war on terror’

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta makes a statement during a news briefing at the Pentagon on October 18, 2012.

Source: Press TV

Alleging “al-Qaeda” presence in Mali, the United States has vowed to make the West African country, the next stop in its so-called war on terror.

US Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta vowed in Pentagon to eliminate the threat from “al-Qaeda” in northern Mali, Reuters reported on Saturday. He said that he would ensure that al-Qaeda has "no place to hide.”

"Our approach is to make sure that al-Qaeda and elements of al-Qaeda have no place to hide. And we've gone after al-Qaeda wherever they are - whether it's in [the northwestern Pakistan] FATA [Federally Administered Tribal Areas]; whether it's in Yemen; whether it's in Somalia; and whether they're in North Africa," he noted.

The comments came amid reports that the CIA is currently flying some surveillance drones over northern Mali, and that France is also reportedly sending surveillance aircraft to the African country.

A study, conducted by Stanford and New York Universities, has showed that only one in 50 people killed by US assassination drones in Pakistan -- one of the several countries where the US has carried out drone strikes -- are militants.

Sudan’s Bashir says airstrike Israeli regime’s ‘hysterical reaction’

Sudanese President Omar Hassan al-Bashir

Source: Press TV

Sudan’s President Omar Hassan al-Bashir has slammed the recent Israeli airstrike on an arms factory in the Sudanese capital, Khartoum, as Tel Aviv’s ‘hysterical reaction’ to the Arab world developments.

“The reckless behavior is a manifestation of Israel’s concerns and nervousness about the political and social upheavals in the region and about the progress in Sudan,” Bashir said in his Friday address to the nation on the occasion of Eid Al-Adha.

He pointed out, “Such aggressive acts by the Zionist entity could never force Khartoum to change its policies,” and reaffirmed the Sudanese nation’s determination to make “tough choice” in the face of challenges.

According to Sudanese Minister of Information Ahmed Bilal Osman, information collected by experts indicates that the weapons used in the aerial strike on Yarmouk facility were made in Israel.

“The sophisticated warplanes and weapons used in the attack are available to no country in the region except Israel.”

Four Israeli warplanes attacked the arms factory in the capital on October 23, Osman said.

Sudan has asked the United Nations Security Council to condemn the Israeli regime for violating the country’s sovereignty and bombing the factory.

The Tel Aviv regime has so far refused to comment on the incident. Israeli Minister for Military Affairs Ehud Barak has said that there is “nothing I can say about this subject.”

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Siege of Bani Walid: Foreign fighters, phosphorus bombs and nerve gas – RT sources

Source: Russia Today

The besieged Libyan city of Bani Walid has been plunged into chaos. RT sources say that the former Gaddafi regime stronghold is under attack by militias bolstered by foreign mercenaries, and they used banned weapons like white phosphorous.

­The sources denied reports of the last few days that Bani Walid was retaken by the Libyan government. Residents said that militia forces have continued their assault, while preventing the refugees who fled from reentering the city.

A man who claimed his relatives are trapped inside the besieged city spoke with RT, saying, “There is no food; there is nothing to support the life of people. And the militia does not allow anyone to come back to their homes.”

“They are demolishing homes with machinery and tanks. There is no communication or internet so people are not able to connect with each other,” the source said. He is currently in Egypt, and refuses to reveal his identity over fears of personal safety.

He believes the real reason for the inoperable communications is that many people have been killed inside Bani Walid by the forces besieging the city and now they are trying to prevent information about the killings to be leaked outside.

The militia attackers have claimed they are battling ‘pro-Gaddafi’ forces, but the source slammed that motive as a “lie and a dirty game.”

“They use foreign snipers, I think from Qatar or Turkey, with Qatar covering all the costs,” he said. He claimed that a ship with weapons and other equipment recently docked in the port city of Misrata, where the assault on Bani Walid is allegedly being directed.

“There is no government in Libya. Groups of militia control everything. They don’t care about Libya, they don’t care about the nation,” he said, adding allegations that the majority of militia fighters have dual citizenship or passports from other countries.

“We ask the envoy [Special Representative] of the Secretary-General of the United Nations [for Libya] Mr. Tarik Mitri – where is he now?” he said. “Where is the United Nations? Where is the EU? Where is the Human Rights Watch? We ask for an intervention now as soon as possible – please!”

In an October 23 UN session, the US blocked a statement on the violence in Bani Walid drafted by Russia, which condemned the ongoing conflict in the city and calling for a peaceful resolution.

RT Photo from Bani Walid. RT source. The photo could not be independently verified.

Witnesses claim militia used chemical weapons in Bani Walid

“I can confirm that pro-government militias used internationally prohibited weapons. They used phosphorus bombs and nerve gas. We have documented all this in videos, we recorded the missiles they used and the white phosphorus raining down from these missiles,” Bani Walid-based activist and lawyer Afaf Yusef told RT.

“Many people died without being wounded or shot, they died as a result of gases. The whole world needs to see who they are targeting. Are they really Gaddafi's men? Are the children, women and old men killed – Gaddafi's men?” Yusef said.

The forces attacking Bani Walid have been ordered to use “all means necessary” in their assault on the city, RT’s Paula Slier reported.

“To all parasites and leaches, a message to all of them across Libya, wherever they are: Whoever you are, however strong you are, and whoever your back is – the revolution should win,” a militant said in the TV report

RT Photo from Bani Walid. RT source. The photo could not be independently verified.

Militias using planes and chemical weapons in Bani Walid’

­People inside Bani Walid are saying that chemical weapons and airplanes were used in the attack on the town, which has left houses burnt and looted as residents fled the city, Libyan activist Ali Altakasih told RT.

“I was sent a report that was issued by the local hospital in Bani Walid in which they also claim that the militia had used chemical weapons,”he said, adding that he believes the militias have “no principles” and the government has no control over them so they will use whatever weapons they have at their disposal without hesitation.

“They also used planes to bomb the city and there was a report yesterday showing a plane over Bani Walid,” he said. “I was told by cousins and friends that planes were also used to bomb the city, chemical weapons were also used on Bani Walid, killing people inside the city.”

RT was unable to verify these claims by Ali Altakasih, spokesman for the Werfallah tribe which supported Gaddafi, of whether chemical weapons have been used or not. But he insists that if a fact-finding mission is sent to Bani Walid it would easily gather evidence and proof of unconventional weapons being used against civilians.

As the West is turning its back on Libyans and letting militias do whatever they want, Altakasih is urging the international community – particularly Russia and China – to interfere to stop these militias.

“I think the West is turning their back on Libyans and letting these militias do whatever they want to the Libyans,” he said. “They either kill them or torture them, no-one in the West is even criticizing these militias, so Libya is left alone at the moment. We urge Russia and we urge China and we urge the rest of the world to interfere and stop these militias because what they did so far is only kill civilians, many civilians, children were killed, and houses are being burnt.”

The people who are trying to return to the city are being stopped by militias, Altakasih confirmed, adding that there is still communication inside the city which makes it hard to verify what is happening on the ground. The images coming from the city now are very gloomy with people afraid to leave their homes and militias burning and looting houses.

“Any house that looks of great importance to the militias is either burnt or robbed,” Altakasih said. “There are people who are trapped inside the city who cannot leave the city, either for fear of the militia or fear of leaving their belongings inside the city.”

The conflict in Bani Walid is not really a political one but rather tribal as Misrata militias are trying to take control of the whole of Libya and exterminate any opposition, especially inside the former Gaddafi stronghold.

“To be honest this conflict is tribal in nature because the militia is mainly from Misrata supported by other militias from other cities nearby Misrata, because of the conflict that took place between two tribes 92 years ago,” Altakasih explained. “In this conflict one of the Misrata tribes or leaders was killed when he attacked Bani Walid.”

Looming humanitarian catastrophe in Bani Walid

The humanitarian situation outside Bani Walid is reportedly nearly as dire as that within the besieged city. Those who managed to flee the violence now find themselves stranded on the desert roads outside the city.

Thousands of Bani Walid residents have reportedly tried to reenter the city, but were stopped at makeshift militia checkpoints composed of pickup trucks armed with mounted machine-guns.

“Look at the people over there, they got a gun and they’re shooting at people with it,” a Bani Walid resident said, pointing in the direction of a checkpoint. He claimed that those who fled the city had been forced to stay in the desert for more than a week.

“Where is the government?” he said

Photo from Bani Walid. RT source. The photo could not be independently verified

Photo from Bani Walid. RT source. The photo could not be independently verified.

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