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Atlantic Free Press OP/ED

Fri

15

Oct

2010

The USA, CIA, and the KKK
Friday, 15 October 2010 05:48
by Sherwood Ross

By assigning covert action roles to the Central Intelligence Agency(CIA), it is as if the White House and Congress had legitimized the Ku Klux Klan to operate globally. That's because the CIA today resembles nothing so much as the "Invisible Empire" of the KKK that once spread terror across the South and Midwest. Fiery crosses aside, that's what the CIA is doing globally.

The CIA today is committing many of the same sort of gruesome crimes against foreigners that the KKK once inflicted on Americans of color. The principal difference is that the KKK consisted of self-appointed vigilantes who regarded themselves as both outside and above the law when they perpetrated their crimes. By contrast, the CIA acts as the agent of the American government, often at the highest levels, and at times at the direction of the White House. Its crimes typically are committed in contravention of the highest established international law such as the Charter of the United Nations as well as the U.S. Constitution. What's more, the "Agency," as it is known, derives its funding largely from an imperialist-minded Congress; additionally, it has no qualms about fattening its budget from drug money and other illegal sources. It is a mirror-image of the lawless entity the U.S. has become since achieving superpower status. And it is incredible that the White House grants license to this violent Agency to commit its crimes with no accountability.

Allowing it to operate in secret literally gives the CIA the Ring of Gyges. In Plato's Republic, the owner of the ring of Gyges had the power to become invisible at will. As Wikipedia puts it, Plato "discusses whether a typical person would be moral if he did not have to fear the consequences of his actions." The ancient Greeks made the argument, Wikipedia says, that "No man would keep his hands off what was not his own when he could safely take what he liked out of the market, go into houses and lie with any one at his pleasure, kill or release from prison whom he would, and in all respects be like a god among men." The CIA, like Hitler's Gestapo and Stalin's NKVD before it, has provided modern man the answer to this question. Its actions illuminate why all criminal entities, from house-breakers, rapists and bank robbers, to Ponzi scheme swindlers, and murderers, cloak themselves in secrecy.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Economics: Doing business as if people mattered
Sunday, 10 October 2010 23:54
by Robert  Jensen Ph.D.

When politicians talk economics these days, they argue a lot about the budget deficit. That’s crucial to our economic future, but in the contemporary workplace there’s an equally threatening problem -- the democracy deficit.

In an economy dominated by corporations, most people spend their work lives in hierarchical settings in which they have no chance to participate in the decisions that most affect their lives. The typical business structure is, in fact, authoritarian -- owners and managers give orders, and workers follow them. Those in charge would like us to believe that’s the only way to organize an economy, but the cooperative movement has a different vision.

Cooperative businesses that are owned and operated by workers offer an exciting alternative to the top-down organization of most businesses. In a time of crisis, when we desperately need new ways of thinking about how to organize our economic activity, cooperatives deserve more attention.

First, the many successful cooperatives remind us that we ordinary people are quite capable of running our own lives. While we endorse democracy in the political arena, many assume it’s impossible at work. Cooperatives prove that wrong, not only by producing goods and services but by enriching the lives of the workers through a commitment to shared decision-making and responsibility.

Second, cooperatives think not only about profits but about the health of the community and natural world; they’re more socially and ecologically responsible. This is reflected in cooperatives’ concern for the “triple bottom line” -- not only profits, but people and the planet.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Lieberman speaks for all of Israel The dangers of ‘recognition’
Sunday, 10 October 2010 23:51
by Jonathan Cook in Nazareth
 
Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, has insisted from the launch of the current peace talks that the Palestinians set no preconditions, while making his own precondition the centrepiece of negotiations. Netanyahu has said talks are futile unless the Palestinians and their leader, Mahmoud Abbas, first recognise Israel as a Jewish state. “I recognised the Palestinians' right to self-definition, so they must do the same for the Jewish people,” he told American Jewish leaders recently.
 
Netanyahu, of the rightwing Likud party, is not the first Israeli leader to make such a requirement of the Palestinians. His predecessor Tzipi Livni, leader of the centrist opposition, wanted the same recognition. Ehud Barak, the defence minister and head of the supposedly left-wing Labor party, also supports this position.
 
The consensus on this matter, however, masks a reluctance by Israeli politicians to clarify what exactly is being expected of the Palestinians and why recognition is so important.
 
Netanyahu clearly does not simply want the fact of Israel's existence acknowledged. That is in no doubt and, anyway, the Israeli state has been recognised by the Palestinian leadership since the late 1980s. It is recognition of the state's Jewishness, not its existence, that matters.
 
Debate on this subject focuses on Israel's desire to stifle the threat of a right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees. Though doubtless a consideration, that explanation hardly suffices. It is clear to everyone that the refugees are one of the main issues to be settled in the negotiations. In the unlikely circumstances that all other obstacles to Palestinian statehood were removed, it can be assumed that the international community would work to make that particular mountain a molehill.
 
The demand for recognition is directed chiefly at another party: the fifth of Israel's population who are Palestinian – the remnants of the Palestinian people who stayed on their land during the great dispossession of 1948, the nakba, and eventually gained Israeli citizenship.
 
They are only nominally represented at the talks by their state, Israel. Instead, Netanyahu hopes to use the promise of statehood to induce Abbas to sacrifice the interests of Israel's Palestinian citizens. The Palestinian minority's leaders, who have been lobbying Abbas hard in the run-up to the talks, understand what Netanyahu's demand for recognition entails.
 
During the early years of the Oslo peace process, when a concession on Palestinian statehood appeared to be drawing nearer, the positions of Israel's Palestinian and Jewish leaders polarised. The assumption of Israeli politicians was that Palestinian citizens would soon either declare loyalty to a Jewish state – effectively become Zionists – or be "transferred" to the coming Palestinian state.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

Al-Qaeda’s Suspect Humanitarianism Is bin Laden’s concern for flood victims a ruse to destabilise Pakistan?
Sunday, 10 October 2010 23:47
by Maidhc Ó Cathail in Japan
We seek him here, we seek him there,

Those Yankees seek him everywhere.

Is he in heaven?—Is he in hell?

That damned, elusive bin Laden

If we are to believe the Associated Press, that demmed elusive Osama bin Laden has spoken again.

According to the world’s oldest and largest newsgathering organization, the fugitive al-Qaeda leader, who some intelligence experts believe has been dead since December 2001, has just released an audiotape in which he calls for the creation of a new relief body to help Muslims affected by this summer’s devastating floods in Pakistan. Bin Laden, AP suggests, is “seeking to exploit discontent … by depicting the region’s governments as uncaring.”

Seemingly unfazed by news of the CIA’s 3,000-strong Counterterrorism Pursuit Teams hot on its trail, al-Qaeda has, in recent weeks, according to the AP report, put out three messages, including the one featuring bin Laden, concerning the massive floods that affected around 20 million people in Pakistan, “signaling a concentrated campaign by the terror group to tap into anger over the flooding to rally support.”

AP’s sole source for the 11-minute tape, with the oddly contemplative title “Reflections on the Method of Relief Work,” is SITE Intelligence Group. The U.S.-based group, which purportedly “monitors jihadi forums,” provided AP with a copy of the message that it claims was posted on unnamed “Islamic militant websites.”

There are questions, however, about whether SITE Intelligence is the most objective source of information about terrorism.

SITE co-founder Rita Katz, an Israeli Defense Forces veteran, is an Iraqi-born Jew, whose father was publicly hanged in Iraq after the 1967 Six-Day War as an Israeli spy. Considering Tel Aviv’s obvious interest in having the world’s only superpower fight a “global war on terror” against the Jewish state’s Muslim neighbours, it somehow never occurred to Associated Press, or other mainstream media outlets, to ask the question, Like father, like daughter?

Moreover, there are reasonable grounds for suspicion aboutal-Qaeda’s other pronouncements on the floods in Pakistan.
 

Sun

10

Oct

2010

U.S. Economic, Political and Military Expansion in Asia-Pacific Region
Sunday, 10 October 2010 23:45
by Dana Gabriel

The U.S. is stepping up efforts to gain more influence in Asia-Pacific through participation in more regional institutions and negotiations on the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. U.S. foreign policy seeks to shape the future of the region in an attempt to dominate economic, political and security issues.

There are concerns over the rise of trade agreements in the Asia-Pacific by U.S. competitors that could greatly affect its interests. The TPP is seen by many as a key component of America’s trade strategy for further engagement in the region. A U.S. government fact sheet describes the TPP as a, “potential platform for economic integration across the Asia Pacific region. The United States will engage with an initial group of seven like-minded countries, Singapore, Chile, New Zealand, Brunei, Australia, Peru, and Vietnam, to craft a platform for a high-standard, comprehensive agreement - one that reflects U.S. priorities and values - with these and additional Asia-Pacific partners.” The TPP is open to other countries with Canada, Malaysia and the Philippines, among some of the nations that have shown interest in joining. It has been suggested that the U.S. may want the current eight partnership countries to reach an initial high-quality agreement before bringing others into the pact. In an effort to play a more dominant role, the TPP could be a means to address long-standing U.S. economic interests in Asia and be used to counter increasing Chinese trade in the region. 

In his article Obama Pledges U.S. Entry Into Pacific Trade Deal, Jim Capo characterized the true nature of the TPP and just how it relates to a world government system. He concluded that, “The Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement is the sister agreement to the Trans-Atlantic Agenda. Together with NAFTA and the North American Leaders Summit (new name for the discredited SPP), these deals are building blocks for an integrated system of global governance managed by Western financial interests and their collaborators around the world.” Some remain hopeful that the TPP will be the beginning of a new U.S. trade model, but there are fears that it could be another NAFTA. A recent open letter to U.S. Trade Representative Ron Kirk signed by a number of activist groups is asking that any negotiated TPP restrict intellectual property provisions. In addition, they are urging that accession or adherence to the Anti-Counterfeiting Trade Agreement (ACTA) not be a requirement of the deal. If things are to change, the TPP will also need to include strong environmental and labour protections and exclude harmful NAFTA invest-to-state lawsuit provisions, as well as financial service deregulation.

In June, the second round of negotiations for the TPP were held in San Francisco. Significant progress was made as discussions examined goals for improving and expanding the partnership. This includes clarifying, “the relationship between existing FTAs and the TPP by agreeing member economies would continue current FTA requirements while adhering to any higher TPP standards. That determination lays the foundation for how TPP economies will precede in future negotiations.” Working groups also addressed a wide range of topics such as agricultural products, business mobility, cross-border services, intellectual property protection, financial services and technical barriers to trade, along with other issues. The next round of talks are scheduled to take place from October 4-9 in Brunei. Since the Obama administration recommitted to the TPP last year, negotiations have gained momentum and an agreement could be signed in 2012. Although the TPP is not technically part of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC), it is seen as the potential foundation for creating one of its goals of a region-wide free trade area.

In November 2011, APEC leaders will gather in Hawaii where the U.S. could plot a bolder vision for the forum. According to a Statement by the Press Secretary, “The United States will use the opportunity of chairing APEC in 2011 to highlight the vast potential the Asia-Pacific region holds for American companies and workers, to help shape the future of Asia-Pacific's regional architecture, and to promote APEC's core mission of spurring mutually beneficial regional economic integration.” This year’s APEC Leaders summit will take place in Yokohama, Japan this November. The Meeting of APEC Ministers Responsible for Trade which was held several months back, commended the work that had been undertaken in key areas of regional economic integration. This includes sectors such as standards and technical regulations, investment, trade facilitation, rules of origin, intellectual property rights, as well as environmental goods and services. They also welcomed progress made to explore possible pathways to achieve a Free Trade Area of the Asia-Pacific.

Earlier this year, Kurt M. Campbell Assistant Secretary, Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs made it clear that the U.S. seeks to play a more prominent role in the region. In a Statement on Regional Overview of East Asia and the Pacific he emphasized, “In every regard - geopolitically, militarily, diplomatically, and economically - Asia and the Pacific are indispensable to addressing the challenges and seizing the opportunities of the 21st century. As the Asia-Pacific century emerges, defining the new international environment, the United States must enhance and deepen its strategic engagement and leadership role in the region.” Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton’s recent Remarks on U.S. Foreign Policy before the Council on Foreign Relations also lays out America’s strategy. She stated, “the Asia-Pacific currently has few robust institutions to foster effective cooperation and reduce the friction of competition, so we began building a more coherent regional architecture with the United States deeply involved.” Clinton also added, “the Asia-Pacific region will grow in importance and developing these institutions will establish habits of cooperation that will be vital to stability and prosperity.”

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) has become one of the main vehicles for integration in the region. In a Statement By President Obama at the Opening Of the U.S.-ASEAN Leaders Meeting which took place in New York on September 24, he acknowledged that, “Through APEC and initiatives like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, we’re pursuing trade relationships that benefit all our countries. And we will continue to support ASEAN’s goal of creating a more effective and integrated community by 2015.” He went on to say, “We’ll also focus on deepening our political and security cooperation.” ASEAN has become a dominant group and is poised to play a crucial role in the vision for an Asia-Pacific Union. Further engagement in regards to evolving regional architecture is really the struggle for more influence. Gaining more control in Asia-Pacific is important from a geopolitical, economic and military standpoint. As it continues to grow, the U.S. seeks to play an active role in shaping the region.

During a trip to Asia last year, Obama proclaimed himself to be America's first Pacific President and noted the importance of, "multilateral organizations (that) can advance the security and prosperity of this region." He also asserted, “As an Asia Pacific nation, the United States expects to be involved in the discussions that shape the future of this region, and to participate fully in appropriate organizations as they are established and evolve." American economic, political and military expansion in Asia-Pacific is being used to counter growing Chinese influence. The U.S. continues to strengthen old alliances and forge new partnerships. Through various joint security exercises, it has increased its military presence in the area. With the U.S. and China vying for more control, this could further escalate tensions and lead to a potential confrontation between the two powers.

Dana Gabriel is an activist and independent researcher. He writes about trade, globalization, sovereignty, as well as other issues. Contact: beyourownleader@hotmail.com. Visit his blog site at beyourownleader.blogspot.com
 
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