Saturday, June 30, 2012

Obama Planning More War


Obama Planning More War

by Stephen Lendman

America's favorite pastime isn't baseball. It's war, permanent imperial wars that won't end in our lifetime Dick Cheney said earlier.

America is addicted to war. One nation after another is ravaged and plundered. Unchallenged global dominance is sought. 

Who's next? Syria? Iran? Washington's long knives target both countries.

On June 29, AP headlined "US, Russia fail to reach agreement on Syria, jeopardizing Annan plan to end crisis," saying:

Before heading for Geneva, Hillary Clinton and Sergey Lavrov met in St. Petersburg. Differences between them weren't resolved.

Washington demands regime change. Moscow wants Syrians to decide who'll lead them. Lavrov said:

We "agreed to look for an agreement that will bring us closer based on a clear understanding of what’s written in the Annan plan that (all) sides in Syria need an incentive for a national dialogue."

"But it’s only up to the Syrians to make agreements on what the Syrian state will be like, who will hold (government) jobs and positions."

Putting a brave face on intractable differences, Lavrov hoped Geneva discussions would move closer to resolving Syria's conflict peacefully. "But I am not saying that we will agree on every dot."

Kofi Annan proposed unity government. Government and opposition members would be included. Elements seeking belligerent change would be excluded. 

Russia and other major powers expressed support. Washington insists Assad must go. He told Iran's IRIB channel 4:

"We, in Syria, do not accept any model that is not Syrian and national, regardless of whether it was imposed by superpowers or proposed by friendly countries." 

"No one knows how to resolve the problem in Syria as well as we do, as Syrians….so, any model that comes from abroad is unacceptable regardless of its content."

At the same time, he thanked Russia, China, and other countries for trying to resolve things peacefully to restore stability.

On June 30, America, Russia, China, Britain, France, Turkey, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar met in Geneva. Moscow wanted Iran there. Washington rejected Tehran's participation.

Reports late Saturday said world powers struck a transitional government deal. What part Assad would play remains unclear. 

Russia says Syrians must decide who'll lead them. The deal struck has no preconditions. 

Ahead of word from Geneva, insurgent leaders rejected transitional government with Assad in it. Earlier they spurned peace initiatives. They take orders from Washington. 

Expect little more now than earlier. America won't tolerate peaceful resolution. Regime change depends on violence and instability. What's next remains to be seen.

Iran is also targeted. On June 25, Aviation Week (AW) headlined "Raiding Iran Triggers Discussion of When and How," saying:

"Evidence is mounting that the U.S. defense community and the Obama administration view 2013 as the likely window for a bombing attack on Iran's 
nuclear and missile facilities."

"It could be earlier, timed to use the chaos of the Syrian government's fall to disguise such an attack, or later, if international negotiations with Iran stretch out without failing completely." 

"But there is evidence that Iran's intransigence over shutting down its uranium-enrichment program will not buy it much more time."

"The tools for (conducting) an attack are all operational."

Proponents in and outside America suggest Iran already conducted one or more nuclear tests in North Korea. Corroborating evidence didn't follow claims. They're baseless like other accusations about Tehran menacing the region.

Debate continues in Washington. To attack or not attack? If so, when? Electoral priorities dictate policy. Three unnamed retired senior war planners offered views. Comments were as follows:

"I think it would take an extraordinarily dumb move on the part of the Iranians to force U.S. kinetic interventions before the U.S. presidential election (by abandoning negotiations)."

"Israel has fewer reservations (about attacking) given the recent solidification of their government."

The most politically opportune time would be 2013 or 2014.

"The assessment I'm betting on is continued watching, but (with U.S. forces) close to action."

An attack "would employ a totally stealthy force of F-22s, B-2s and Jassms (joint air-to-surface standoff missiles) that are launched from F-15Es and (Block 40) F-16s."

Other advanced weapons and radar jamming devices would be used.

"We should give Iran advanced warning that we will damage and likely destroy its nuclear facilities. It is not an act of war against Iran, the Iranian people or Islam." 

"It is a pre-emptive attack solely against their nuclear facilities and the military targets protecting them. We will take extraordinary measures to protect against collateral damage."

The above comment doesn't square with reality. An attack means war. Launching one assures many deaths. Vast destruction will occur. Civilian infrastructure and military targets will be struck. War planners know what's involved. The pattern repeats from one conflict to the next.

At a February Israeli security conference, Lt. General (ret.) Dan Halutz (former IDF chief of staff) said Iran's nuclear program shouldn't be used as an excuse for Israel to attack unilaterally. 

"The military option should be last, and it should be led by others." He meant Washington, but Israel would be involved.

Another issue is Syria. It has surveillance and air defense capabilities. Damascus shares information with Tehran. Attacking Iran involves possible routes over Turkey, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon and Israel.

Syrian radar would detect it. Ousting Assad denies Iran advance warning.

According to America's Israeli ambassador Daniel Shapiro, Washington is ready to act if diplomatic talks fail. The military option is "not just available, it's ready," he said. 

"The necessary planning has been done to ensure that it's ready. The international community has been notified."

According to US Defense Secretary Leon Panetta:

"The fundamental premise is that neither the U.S. nor the international community is going to allow Iran to develop a nuclear weapon."

"We will do everything we can to prevent them from developing a weapon. We have plans to be able to implement any contingency we have to in order to defend ourselves."

Cyberattack is another option. According to US Lt. General (ret.) David Deptula:

"It depends on what the objectives are. What we want to be able to do is to get our foes to act in accordance with our strategic objectives without ever knowing they have been acted upon. Operations in cyberspace allow that to happen."

It's well known that Iran poses no nuclear threat. Claiming otherwise is red herring cover for regime change. 

Its program is peaceful. It complies fully with NPT provisions. US intelligence and IAEA inspectors confirmed it. In contrast, Israel is nuclear armed and dangerous. It menaces the region and beyond. It passes under the radar unmentioned.

On June 21, Haaretz headlined "As nuclear talks fail, US experts urge Obama to weigh military option on Iran," saying:

Forty-four US senators wrote Obama. They want pressure, not more dialogue. They listed specific demands. They include shutting down Tehran's heavily protected Fordo facility, halting uranium enrichment above 5%, and shipping amounts above it offshore.

They urged options including military action if Iran doesn't comply.

The House Armed Services Committee heard testimonies on "Addressing the Iranian Nuclear Challenge: Understanding the Military Option." According to former Senator Charles Robb:

"(T)he dual approach of diplomacy and sanctions simply have not proved to be enough. We need the third track, and that is credible and visible preparations for a military option."

"(W)e are not urging Israel to take unilateral military action against Iran nuclear facilities, but we need to make their capability to do so stronger so that Iran will take that threat more seriously."

"We are not advocating another war in this region," he claimed. His comments, of course, don't square with reality.

Washington and Israel plan joint military exercises this fall. They were scheduled earlier but postponed. Called "Austere Challenge 12," it's expected to be the largest scale operation between the two countries.

Last March, Senator Barbara Boxer (D. CA) introduced S. 2165: United States-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act of 2012. On June 19, it was reported to committee. On June 29, it passed by voice vote.

HR 4133 is the companion House bill. On May 9, it passed overwhelmingly. John Dingell (D. MI) and Ron Paul (R. TX) cast the only "no" votes. 

Paul called the measure "another piece of one-sided and counter-productive foreign policy legislation. This bill's real intent seems to be more saber-rattling against Iran and Syria, and it undermines U.S. diplomatic efforts by making clear that the U.S. is not an honest broker seeking peace for the Middle East."

"The bill calls for the United States to significantly increase our provision of sophisticated weaponry to Israel, and states that it is to be U.S. policy to 'help Israel preserve its qualitative military edge' in the region."

"While I absolutely believe that Israel – and any other nation - should be free to determine for itself what is necessary for its national security, I do not believe that those decisions should be underwritten by U.S. taxpayers and backed up by the U.S. military."

Paul added that the bill won't help America, Israel, or the Middle East. It implicitly authorizes greater US regional intervention at a time wars ravage it. 

War with Syria and/or Iran will follow, he believes. According to Haaretz, Washington and Israel "continue preparations for strik(ing) Iran's nuclear facilities....A senior Israeli official (said) Netanyahu has decided to attack Iran before the US elections in November."

The US-Israel Enhanced Security Cooperation Act reaffirms America's "unwavering commitment to the security of the State of Israel as a Jewish State." It's also to ensure its military strength.

House co-sponsor Eric Cantor (R. VA) said:

"This bill reaffirms Israel's right to defend itself against threats and puts Congress on the record about America's long-standing commitment to the US-Israel strategic relationship, a unique and special relationship founded on shared interests and shared democratic values."

"This bill recognizes the profound threats the U.S. and Israel face in the region and reiterates our commitment to standing side by side with Israel during this pivotal and dangerous period of transition and instability."

Following passage, AIPAC said:

"This vote is a testament to the broad, bipartisan support of the American people for bolstering the ties between the US and our ally Israel."

"The United States benefits greatly through enhanced cooperation with Israel, and this bipartisan bill recommends new avenues for the US-Israel relationship to grow and strengthen in the fields of missile defense, homeland security, energy, intelligence, and cyber security."

Congress recently voted to increase military aid for Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system. Israel gets more annual aid than all other nations combined. Most goes for military purposes. 

Both countries are imperial partners. Together with Britain, France, other NATO allies and regional ones, they threaten humanity.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Spurious Terrorism Indictments


Spurious Terrorism Indictments

by Stephen Lendman

On May 19 and 20, NATO occupied Chicago violently. Downtown residents were in virtual lockdown. No-fly zones were imposed. Elaborate barricades were erected. Constitutional rights were suspended.

Getting around was hazardous. Anyone could be stopped, searched, interrogated, or arrested. Chicagoans were under siege.

NATO is the world's first global war-making alliance. Largely a US imperial tool, it's a killing machine. Its 28 members and dozens of partner states comprise about one-third of the world's nations.

They menace humanity. For days, thousands protested nonviolently during their Chicago summit. Police brutality confronted them.

They faced no-holds barred surveillance, vigilantism, and brutality. They're viciousness is infamous. Their tactics include physical confrontation, flagrant abuses, and criminal assaults. Their odious reputation is well-deserved.

In full riot gear, they faced off against peaceful protesters. They blocked free access to public streets. They bludgeoned anyone confronting them. Pitched battles erupted. 

Innocent victims were brutalized. Carte blanche authority let them harass, abuse, beat, detain, and levy false charges. Dozens of arrests were made. Most were held for a day or so and released. Others weren't as lucky.

Activists were targeted. Constitutional law was discarded. On May 17, an NLG press release condemned a preemptive Bridgeport neighborhood raid. At least eight arrests were made. No one committed a crime.

Witnesses said cops burst into a six-unit apartment building violently with no search warrant. Doing so is illegal. They entered guns drawn. 

One tenant was tackled in his kitchen. Two were handcuffed for two hours in their living room while police searched their apartment and a neighboring one.

A search warrant produced four hours later had no authorizing signature. Beer-making supplies and cell phones were seized.

Three youths were charged with possession of incendiary devices, material support for terrorism, and conspiracy to commit it. An indictment explained below added more spurious accusations. 

Corroborating evidence wasn't explained because there is none. The NATO 3 are innocent.

Nonetheless, on June 20, AP headlined "NATO protesters indicted on 11 counts in Chicago, including terror-related and other charges," saying:

A grand jury indicted Brian Church, Jared Chase and Brent Vincent Betterly on 11 counts. They include four terrorism related ones and "half a dozen new charges."

Days before NATO's summit began, they were arrested. Illinois' anti-terrorism statutes were used for the first time. All charges were baseless. 

Defense lawyers gave AP the 12 page indictment. It "provides no details about the evidence" because there is none. Church, Chase and Betterly are victims. They committed no crimes. They're bogusly charged. 

They face long prison terms if convicted. A July 2 arraignment is scheduled.

On June 20, the National Lawyers Guild Chicago chapter headlined "NLG Uncovers Terrorism Indictments in Chicago NATO Protest Case," saying:

"Eleven charges come without any supporting evidence."

NLG lawyers representing the defendants were initially denied access to charges brought against them. Finally the indictment was obtained. Charges include:

Providing material support for terrorism.

Conspiracy to commit terrorism.

Multiple counts of possession of an incendiary device.

Conspiracy to commit arson.

Solicitation to commit arson.

Attempted arson.

Two counts of unlawful use of a weapon.

Defendants are detained on a $1.5 million bond. NLG attorney Michael Deutsch said:

"The prosecutor controls the grand jury and is able to obtain a rubber-stamped indictment for any charges it desires."

"The fact that the indictment charges the defendants with 11 serious felonies, including 'terrorism' and two separate 'conspiracy' charges for the alleged possession of 4 makeshift incendiary devices shows that the State is intent on continuing its strategy to sensationalize this case."

It's common prosecutorial strategy when no evidence exists. Juries are intimidated to indict and convict. Headlines stoke fear. Innocent victims are imprisoned despite no plot, crimes, or intent to commit them.

It's the American way.

Illinois terrorism statutes were used for the first time. "(I)nfiltration and the politicization of criminal activity are common to other contemporary high-profile cases elsewhere in the country."

Chicago NLG spokesperson Kris Hermes said:

"The common thread running through the NATO 3 case and other similar contemporary cases is politically motivated infiltration."

"Given that no Molotov cocktails or other incendiary devices have been used at any political demonstration in the U.S. in recent memory, questions of whether law enforcement is in fact provoking or manufacturing criminal activity remain unanswered and extremely relevant."

At least two infiltrators ("Mo" and "Gloves") framed Church, Chase and Betterly. They were involved in a months-long Occupy Chicago investigation.

In April, they were arrested during protests to keep the Woodlawn Mental Health Clinic open. Questions remain about the "intent" and "breadth" of their involvement.

They were also arrested in Bridgeport where the defendants were apprehended. They've since disappeared from view and haven't been seen. Six other activists arrested during the raid were released uncharged after 30 hours in custody.

"The NATO 3 were formally indicted by grand jury on June 12th and are expected to be arraigned at 9am on Monday, July 2nd in room 101 of the Cook County Courthouse at 2600 S. California."

They're up against prosecutors determined to convict. They'll use every dirty they know to do it. 

Ordinary people face long odds. Victims charged with terrorist related charges rarely achieve justice.

Despite no plot, crimes, or malicious intent, NATO 3 victims may face decades in prison.

It's the American way!

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Friday, June 29, 2012

Big Win for Predatory Healthcare Giants


Big Win for Predatory Healthcare Giants

by Stephen Lendman

At issue was National Federation of Independent Business, et al, Petitioners v. Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Health and Human Services, et al (NFIB v. Sebelius).

Voting 5 - 4 on Thursday, the Supreme Court upheld what should have been rejected. Pro-business High Court rulings aren't new.

Since the 19th century, what business wants matters most. Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railway stands out. It granted corporations legal personhood.

Ever since, they've had people rights without responsibilities. Their limited liability status exempts them. As a result, they've profited hugely and continue winning favorable high and lower court rulings.

Another big one came on June 28. Health giants won. People lost. At issue was challenging Obama's Patient Protection Affordable Care Act (PPACA) - aka Obamacare.

From March 26 - 28, oral arguments on its constitutionality were heard. Contentious issues include:

  • mandating all adults have health insurance or be taxed to compensate;

  • PPACA's Medicaid expansion provisions; 

  • whether the Anti-Injunction Act bars courts from reviewing the individual mandate until it's effective in January 2014; and

  • "severability:" namely, whether one issue can be struck down while leaving others intact.

Many PPACA provisions took effect. Key ones, including the individual mandate, begin January 2014.

Twenty-six states sued to overturn Obamacare. The Supreme Court heard the Florida case. It included the others as plaintiffs. 

A record pro and con 136 amicus briefs ("friends of the court") were filed for Court consideration.

In 2010, Ralph Nader called Obamacare a boon to predatory giants. They profit hugely. Ordinary people lose. Nader called PPACA "a pay-or-die system that's the disgrace of the Western world."

Former CIGNA vice president Wendell Potter said Obamacare shifts costs to consumers, offers inadequate or unaffordable access, forces Americans to pay higher deductibles for less coverage, and ends up scamming them.

Physicians for a National Health Program (PNHP) headlined their press release " 'Health law upheld, but health needs still unmet:' national doctors group," saying:

Modest PPACA benefits don't remedy "our health care crisis."

Unresolved issues include:

  • excluding a public option and universal coverage;

  • millions left uninsured;

  • many more underinsured;

  • unaffordability for most people "because of high co-pays and gaps in coverage that leave patients vulnerable to financial ruin in the event of serious illness;" and

  • rising predatory costs.

At issue is empowering private insurers. They "siphon off hundreds of billions of health care dollars for overhead, profit and the paperwork (they) demands from doctors and hospitals."

Bottom line priorities deny care by making it unaffordable for millions. They and other industry giants obstruct reform.

In contrast, universal coverage assures comprehensive affordable care. Predatory middlemen are excluded. Doing so saves $400 billion annually. Using it for care instead of profits covers everyone.

Comparable state plans failed. Residents were betrayed. So-called reforms "founder(ed) on the shoals of skyrocketing costs, even as the private insurers have continued to amass vast fortunes."

Medicare for all offers real reform. Everyone in. No one out. Healthcare is a universal right. Commodifying it has no place in free societies. It's always been that way in America.

Reform efforts never worked. Lobby power blocked them. In 1917, 15 states introduced a standard health insurance bill. Eight others established commissions to study the issue. Proposals were weak and confusing. They were dead on arrival.

In the 1930 and 1940s, government-sponsored health insurance resurfaced. The issue remained contentious. Industry giants again blocked change.

Post-war, employer-provided coverage increased. Retirees, the disabled, unemployed, and others were uninsured. After years of debate, Medicare and Medicare included them.

Nonetheless, efforts to cover everyone affordably failed. PPACA is the latest example. It's a rationing scheme to enrich insurers, drug companies and large hospital chains.

PNHP speaks for millions saying:

"What is truly unrealistic is believing that we can provide universal and affordable health care in a system dominated by private insurers and Big Pharma."

"The American people desperately need a universal health system that delivers comprehensive, equitable, compassionate and high-quality care, with free choice of provider and no financial barriers to access."

Convoluted arguments upheld PPACA's controversial individual mandate provision. It requires purchasing coverage from private insurers.

Ruling with the majority, Chief Justice John Roberts said:

"The Affordable Care Act’s requirement that certain individuals pay a financial penalty for not obtaining health insurance may reasonably be characterized as a tax."

"The federal government does have the power to impose a tax on those without health insurance."

"Because the Constitution permits such a tax, it is not our role to forbid it, or to pass upon its wisdom or fairness." 

He added that he and other majority justices abstained on judging whether passing PPACA was right or wrong. 

"Those decisions are entrusted to our nation’s elected leaders, who can be thrown out of office if the people disagree with them," he said. "It is not our job to protect the people from the consequences of their political choices."

Anthony Kennedy disagreed. He called the law an affront to individual liberty and should have been entirely rejected.

"The values that should have determined our course today are caution, minimalism and the understanding that the federal government is one of limited powers," he said. "The court’s ruling undermines those values at every turn."

"The act requires the purchase of health insurance and punishes violation of that mandate with a penalty," he added.

"But what Congress called a ‘penalty,’ the court calls a tax. What Congress called a ‘requirement,’ the court calls an option....In short, the court imposes a tax when Congress deliberately rejected a tax."

At the same time, majority justices rejected the administration's main argument about congressional authorization to regulate interstate commerce. 

The Commerce Clause doesn't give legislators the right to require people buy health insurance, they said.

It's "not a general license to regulate an individual from cradle to grave, simply because he will predictably engage in particular transactions," said Roberts.

In a separate opinion, Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg called arguments against the Commerce Clause "stunningly retrogressive." 

It represents pre-New Deal rulings "in which the Court routinely thwarted Congress' efforts to regulate the national economy in the interest of those who labor to sustain it."

In other words, the Court restricted congressional authority to pass social welfare laws. Doing so makes planned cuts easier.

The ruling also limited Medicaid's expansion. Seven justices said Congress exceeded its constitutional authority to coerce states to participate by threatening to cut off federal funds. They can opt out of Medicaid's expansion if they wish.

Doing so undermines efforts to cover individuals under age 65 with incomes of 133% above poverty or less. Around 11 million Medicaid recipients are affected. They already receive minimal care. 

Experts say America's poorest are left in "no-man's land." They'll be uncovered by federal benefits and ineligible for subsidized insurance.

PPACA provides 100% of funds to expand Medicaid until 2016. Thereafter, it's 90%. Until now, federal funding required state participation. No longer. Millions will be harmed. Many will be left out entirely.

Medicaid expansion provided coverage for around 17 million Americans by 2019. States now can opt out at their discretion. 

Matt Solo, executive director of the National Association of Medicaid Directors said states have a major decision to make.

"There is a real debate here where states are going to have to weigh leaving huge amounts of federal dollars on the table versus accepting potential exposure in the future. Before, you just had to just hold your nose and do it," he said.

He's not sure what states will do. He called the Court decision "a total surprise." It will greatly impact PPACA's future, he believes.

According to Professor Sara Rosenbaum:

"The practical effect....will make the Medicaid expansions go more slowly."

Future court decisions may have to distinguish between new programs or additions to existing ones. Budget strapped states seek new ways to cut costs. This ruling adds leverage. It lets them do it on the backs of residents most needing help.

Professor Adam Winkler said:

"It will be interesting to see what happens in the 26 states that challenged Obamacare. Will they go through with their threats of not expanding their own Medicaid coverage? Or will the promise of federal money persuade them to expand coverage?"

Opting in assures full federal coverage for three years. At the same time, Congress plans major Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, disability, education, and other social benefits cuts post-election. 

Both parties agree. It's part of an earlier struck "grand bargain" no matter which party controls the White House and/or Congress.

Regardless of how the High Court ruled, expect bipartisan congressional support to inflict the most harm. Social America is fast eroding. Party leaders plan ending it entirely.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Summit Fatigue


Summit Fatigue

by Stephen Lendman

Since crisis conditions erupted, it's number 19 and counting. Like earlier summits, they met. They talked. They agreed to talk more. They accomplished little more than before.

Dozens of rescue packages preceded Friday's. Promises are made and broken. Hyped plans failed. Conditions are worse now than ever. 

Reality belies morning headlines. An official statement left important details unanswered. It was long on political posturing, not real solutions.

On June 29, Bloomberg headlined "EU Leaders Ease Debt-Crisis Rules on Spain," saying:

Bailout conditions were relaxed. Seventeen Eurozone country leaders met in Brussels. Talks continued until 4:30AM. 

Most often decisions are agreed in advance. Maybe they stayed up all night partying.

A requirement that taxpayers get preferred creditor status on aid to Spain's insolvent banks was dropped. European stocks and bonds surged. So did the euro. Expect euphoria to be short-lived. It happened each time before.

Talk of a major breakthrough was morning headline hype. Independent analysts forecast hard times getting harder. So-called rescue funds provide a fraction of what's needed.

At issue are two rescue schemes - the European Financial Stability Facility (EFSF) and European Stability Mechanism (ESM). 

Combined they have about 500 euros. EFSF exhausted most of its resources. It needs infusion help to replenish it.

The late Bob Chapman said around $6 trillion is needed for troubled Eurozone countries. What's proposed is a drop in the bucket. Moreover, the longer real solutions are avoided, the worse crisis conditions get, and greater eventual trouble. 

Chapman said things festered so long unresolved that an eventual train wreck is virtually certain. He estimated a timeframe from 2012 - 2017.

ESM was originally scheduled to take effect July 1. Germany's parliament was still debating it. Chancellor Angela Merkel rushed back from Brussels to smooth passage.

Germany's Constitutional Court has final say. Expect weeks perhaps, not days, for a ruling. Law Professor Daniel Thym thinks approval will come with demands "to ensure that the upper and lower houses of parliament are sufficiently involved."

However, the Court could link ESM and fiscal pact approval to constitutional law change. Doing so would require Germany's first post-war national referendum.

Germany's High Court is very leery of surrendering sovereign rights to Brussels. At the least, it may demand constitutional change. At issue is possible political and fiscal union.

Germans with long memories know how Hitler manipulated plebiscites to seize power. Key is not repeating past mistakes. Nonetheless, Finance Minister Wolfgang Schaeuble thinks a referendum may be needed sooner than most think.

Historian Heinrich August Winkler said:

"Just a few months ago, few people thought we could be on the brink of a referendum on changing the German constitution." 

"Now there is a chance that the Constitutional Court could demand just that, possibly even linking it to approval of the ESM and Fiscal Compact."

Holding one could become a central issue ahead of 2013 elections. Debate could split Merkel's coalition government.

Winkler added that "pro-European parties have strong arguments." They could win over most Germans, but not without intense debate.

According to Phoenix Capital Research, morning headlines falsely called Brussels' announcement a game-changer. 

Bailout funds don't subordinate private debt holdings. They don't change the more critical issue of stopping defaults from happening.

What's proposed doesn't say "where the money is going to come from." EFSF and ESM rescue mechanisms are one thing. More important is who'll fund them and how. 

All Eurozone countries are supposed to contribute. Italy and Spain (Euroland's third and fourth largest economies) are supposed to provide 30% of funding. How can they and other troubled economies needing bailouts?

Moreover, ESM so far doesn't exist. Only four of 17 Eurozone countries approved it.

Phoenix Capital said "(y)ou couldn't make this stuff up if you tried."

In addition, no agreement was reached to increase EFSF or ESM funding. Why is simple. Countries don't have the resources.

According to Phoenix Capital:

"No one seems to be listening: Europe is out of buyers. End of story. There simply isn’t €500 billion lying around to be put to use. That’s why the ESM and EFSF aren’t being increased in size. They couldn’t be."

Especially key is that the ECB will use bailout funds to recapitalized troubled banks. They'll be hurt, not helped, like firms using LTRO (Long Term Refinancing Operation) capital "found themselves severely punished in the credit and bond markets."

In addition, nothing agreed on takes effect until yearend. No guarantees exist that troubled Eurozone economies won't collapse before then.

Expect market euphoria to be short-lived. Decisions reached don't address unresolved core issues. Insolvency, high debt levels, and speculative excesses remain troubling.

Europe needs solutions, not hype and short-term fixes. They're largely repackaged old schemes. They didn't work before and won't now. 

They're offered when Greece is bankrupt. Spain is crumbling. Enough resources aren't available to help. Portugal and Ireland are sinking, Cyprus just became the fifth bailout nation, and Italy isn't far behind others.

Once post-summit euphoria ebbs, markets will realize vague policy pronouncements offer less than hoped for. Fighting fires substituted for workable solutions. At best, more time was bought. How much remains to be seen.

Global decline continues and spreads. Around 80% of world economies show visible deterioration. Celebration isn't called for. Nothing announced pre-dawn Friday changed things. Words don't substitute for solutions.

Financial Times contributor Gavyn Davies headlined "More questions than answers after the summit," saying:

Summit leaders "affirm(ing) that it is imperative to break the vicious cycle between banks and sovereigns" isn't accomplished by putting rancid wine in new bottles.

The devil is in the details of all proposals. Bad ones will bedevil troubled banks and sovereigns they're meant to help.

Summit leaders largely repackaged old schemes. Details remain obscure. Europe is short of funds to continue bailouts. 

What's ahead looks grim. Smart money has been saying this all along.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Reports of Troop Movements Near Syria's Borders


Reports of Troop Movements Near Syria's Borders

by Stephen Lendman

After Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced new rules of engagement, Turkey deployed missile batteries, rocket launchers, and anti-aircraft weapons close to Syria's border. 

About 30 military trucks arrived in Iskenderun. From there, they moved toward Syria's border 30 miles away.

Armored military vehicles also headed for Sanliurfa and Reyhanli in Southern Turkey's Hatay Province. 


According to General Mustafa al-Sheikh, Syria deployed around 170 tanks north of Aleppo within 19 miles of Turkey's border. No independent confirmation was provided.

Speaking to Reuters by phone, al-Sheikh said:

Tanks from the 17th Mechanized Division "are now at the Infantry School. They're either preparing to move to the border to counter the Turkish deployment or attack the rebellious (Syrian) towns and villages in and around the border zone north of Aleppo."

On Thursday, Turkey belligerently sent troops and weapons close to Syria's border. Damascus perhaps reacted defensively. 

Expect no imminent attack by either side. Ankara won't act without orders from Washington. It hasn't come, but could given escalating violence and rhetoric.

Saber rattling suggests public opinion is being conditioned for war. On June 28, Ankara's National Security Council (MSK) said:

"Turkey will act with determination and make use of all its rights within international law against this hostile act."

It referred to Syria downing its aircraft. It provocatively entered its territory low and fast. Damascus was blamed for Ankara's belligerence. Expect more provocations to follow.

Meanwhile, Mossad-connected DEBKAfile (DF) headlined "Saudi forces mass on Jordanian, Iraqi borders. Turkey, Syria reinforce strength," saying:

"(H)eavy Saudi troop movements (headed) toward the Jordanian and Iraqi borders (with Syria) overnight and up until Friday morning....after King Abdulah put the Saudi military on high alert for joining an anti-Assad offensive...."

Units include tanks, missiles, special forces and anti-air batteries. Two units were deployed. "One will safeguard Jordan's King Abdullah against potential Syrian or Iranian reprisals from Syria or Iraq."

"The second will cut north through Jordan to enter southeastern Syrian, where a security zone will be established around the towns of Deraa, Deir al-Zour and Abu Kemal – all centers of the anti-Assad rebellion."

DF said Western forces reported Jordan "on war alert."

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Jordan, and other regional states know Syria poses no threat. If confirmed, deploying Saudi troops to Syria's border escalates tensions. It may also reflect belligerent intent. 

On June 28, Assad was interviewed on Iran's IRIB channel 4. He blamed Turkey for inciting violence. He's hopeful military action won't follow.

Libya's model isn't "a solution to be copied because it took (the country) from one situation into a much worse one. We all now see how the Libyan people are paying the price," he said.

"The policies of the Turkish officials lead to the killing and bloodshed of the Syrian people," he added.

He said reports about Iranian and Hezbollah forces aiding Syria are false.

"This is a joke that we hear many times in order to show that a rift has been created within the army and that therefore there is not an army." 

Pointing fingers at Washington, he said:

"The colonialist nature of the West has not changed. From the colonialist standpoint, regional countries should not move according to their national interests and if any country moves against their (Western) values and interests, they say no, like what happened in the case of Iran’s nuclear program."

"Western states are opposed to Iran’s access to nuclear knowhow; they are more fearful of Iran’s expertise in the nuclear field than what they claim to be a nuclear bomb."

He also called insurgents "gangs of mercenaries and criminals." Outside forces are directing them. 

For them and their sponsors, "reforms are not important, since the very forces that claimed (a lack of) reforms were the problem. They never benefited from them...all they wanted was (continued) unrest."

He heavily criticized Arab League states. Their policies harm their own people. They supported NATO's war on Libya.

"Syria was the only country that opposed the move and therefore we had to pay the price for this policy."

"Consequently, immediately following our decision," Western states "acted through the Arab League to put the attack on Syria on their agenda." 

"This has been the Arab League reality in the past, as it is at present."

He acknowledged that Western-instigated violence ravages Syria. Thousands of ceasefire violations occurred. He has no information about planned military attacks. However, some countries "are making efforts to guide the situation toward" one.

"The West expresses support for the Annan Plan on the one hand, while on the other hand, they seek a plan to overthrow (the government)." 

"This is the same double standard (approach) and political hypocrisy.” 

"Westerners speak of human rights but give Israel weapons to kill Palestinians. This Western hypocrisy has not changed and will not change."

He holds "outlaws, saboteurs and armed terrorist gangs" responsible for Syrian violence. He'll continue confronting it responsibly.

On June 30, Hillary Clinton and Sergei Lavrov will discuss Syria in Geneva. Expect no breakthroughs. Washington wants regime change. 

Moscow wants Syrians alone to decide who'll lead them. Lavrov and other Russian officials have been firm opposing foreign intervention. Expect neither side to yield on Saturday.

DF sounded an ominous warning, saying:

"The failure of (US/Russian) talks "would spell a worsening of the Syrian crisis and precipitate Western-Arab military intervention, which according to military sources in the Gulf is scheduled for launch Saturday, June 30."

Determining when DF is right or wrong isn't easy. The above comment sounds like bluster. It's also about conditioning public opinion for war. Events on the ground bear watching.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour

Duplicitous Human Rights Council Report on Syria


Duplicitous Human Rights Council Report on Syria

by Stephen Lendman

On June 27, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) discussed conflict conditions in Syria. Truth took a back seat. Some present denounced its absence.

Pre-scripted, its conclusions were predictable. Washington calls the shots. Most HRC members salute and obey.

Syrian HRC representative Faisal Khabbaz al-Hamwi denounced the proceedings. Calling them useless and politically biased, he said its report reflects a "disinformation war against Syria." He walked out of the session, saying:

"We will not participate in this flagrantly political meeting."

He had good reason to leave. Before doing so he said national reconciliation can only happen when "foreign powers stopped inciting violence. The crisis in Syria (is) genuine war and a criminal operation involving destruction of property."

It's not about "legitimate demands for reform." It's about lawlessly supporting regime change. It's to replace Assad with a pro-Western puppet. 

Washington had that in mind for years. Independent governments aren't tolerated. America has longstanding plans to oust them for subservient vassal ones.

Syria's insurgency is supported and financed from abroad. It promotes anarchy and disorder. It ignores how Israel persecutes Arabs and Turkey wages war on Kurds. 

It avoids discussing Gulf states' crimes against their own people and involvement in Washington's war on Syria.

"A war of minds and bombs is taking place. Gunmen have been carrying out terrorist acts on Syrian cities. Such activities by gunmen and terrorists is being fed with money and weapons from abroad," he explained.

"How could some sides pretend to be worried about the Syrian people and at the same time arming the terrorists and conspiring against the Syrians." 

"Had these sides been honest, they would have supported Annan's plan and urged all sides to hold a constructive national dialogue," he added.

Vasily Nebenya, Russian Foreign Ministry Human Rights Director, said the HRC's report on Houla killings doesn't reflect facts on the ground.

HRC's account "indicates to the tension of the situation where this massacre benefited powers which have interest in destabilizing the situation before debating the Syrian file at the UN Security Council."

High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay spurned her mandate. Instead of responsibly "strengthening the promotion and protection of human rights," she spurned them in deference to Western interests.

She said conditions in Syria continue to deteriorate. She called them "alarming." She pointed fingers the wrong way. She ignored Western-sponsored massacres and other atrocities. She blamed Assad, not foreign mercenaries. Since March last year, they've been ravaging the country.

In September 2011, Paulo Pinheiro was appointed Chairman of a three-member International Commission of Inquiry for Syria. 

Its mandate is investigating human rights abuses. His reports bear testimony to his bias. Like Pillay, he represents Western interests, not truth and full disclosure. 

His earlier reports blamed Assad for insurgent crimes against humanity. He claimed soldiers were shooting unarmed protesters. Arrests were made without cause. Civilian neighborhoods were indiscriminately attacked.

His accounts came right out of the anti-Gaddafi playbook. They lack credibility. He said insurgents also committed crimes but on a much smaller scale. He lied. He's paid to lie. His new report repeated the earlier pattern.

Again he pointed fingers the wrong way. He called conditions "on the ground dangerously and quickly deteriorating."

"In the increasingly militarized context, human rights violations are occuring across the country on an alarming scale during military operations against locations believed to be hosting defectors and/or those perceived as affiliated with anti-government armed groups, including the Free Syrian Army."

He ignored credible eye-witness testimonies. He fabricated accounts and conclusions. He discussed the May 25 Houla massacre. 

He said it's "unlikely that anti-Government fighters were responsible....and considered that Syrian Government forces or those loyal to them were the most likely perpetrators."

Russian journalist Marat Musin published firsthand observations of what happened. He exposed scoundrel media misinformation and lies.

Western-enlisted death squads bore full responsibility. Government forces and/or so-called pro-Assad shabbiha had no involvement. 

Pro-Assad loyalists were murdered. Targeting them was cold, calculated, and well-planned. In two earlier June articles, Germany's  Frankfurther Allgemeine Zeitung (FAZ) published facts, not misinformation on what happened. It blamed insurgents, not government forces or pro-Assad elements.

Documentation based on credible eye witnesses reconstructed events accurately. Survivors pointed fingers the right way. Anti-Assad elements were interviewed. They claimed responsibility. FAZ kept their names confidential. At issue is potential reprisals. 

Pinheiro's report claimed "no doubt as to what was happening on the ground and identified the Syrian authorities as carrying a clear and definite responsibility in this regard."

It said Assad is "unwilling or unable to investigate and prosecute crimes...." It endorsed Pillay's request for the Security Council to refer responsible government officials to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for prosecution.

At HRC's emergency June 1 meeting, she blamed Assad for Houla killings, saying:

"These acts may amount to crimes against humanity and other international crimes and may be indicative of a pattern of widespread or systematic attacks against civilian populations that have been perpetrated with impunity."

"I reiterate that those who order, assist or fail to stop attacks on civilians are individually criminally liable for their actions."

Ahead of the meeting, Washington, Turkey and Qatar submitted a joint draft resolution to the HRC. It condemned "the wanton killings of civilians by shooting at close range and by severe physical abuse by pro-regime elements and a series of government artillery and tank shellings of a residential neighborhood."

On June 1, the HRC blamed Assad for Houla killings. A final resolution was adopted. Forty-one voted yes. Russia, China and Cuba rejected one-way responsibility. Two nations abstained.

Responsible insurgents weren't mentioned. Assad was accused of failing "to protect and promote the rights of all Syrians, including through systematic and repeated violations of human rights."

It called for holding guilty parties accountable. It shamelessly blamed victims, not perpetrators. It ignored facts based on credible eyewitness testimonies. 

Instead it published misinformation and bald-faced lies. Doing so makes nations blaming Assad and HRC officials complicit with insurgent crimes.

On June 28, HRC members will resume discussions on Syria. Dialogue on other matters will be held. Later in the day, closed door meetings will follow. It's unclear whether what's considered will be revealed.

Conclusions from previous HRC emergency sessions on Syria also blamed Assad for insurgent crimes. Doing so destroys its credibility. Instead of fulfilling its mandate, it spurned it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at lendmanstephen@sbcglobal.net. 

His new book is titled "How Wall Street Fleeces America: Privatized Banking, Government Collusion and Class War"

http://www.claritypress.com/Lendman.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

http://www.progressiveradionetwork.com/the-progressive-news-hour