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Military Industrial Complex - The Hunger Games Economy

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The Hunger Games Economy
Jeff Faux: Dreams of Wall St. and Military Industrial Complex are not compatible with dreams of American middle class
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Jeff Faux is the Founder and now Distinguished Fellow of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, DC. He is an activist, economist and writer, He has written extensively on issues from globalization to neighborhood development. His latest book is “The Servant Economy; Where America¹s Elite is Sending the Middle Class.”
Transcript
PAUL JAY, SENIOR EDITOR, TRNN: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Paul Jay in Baltimore.
There's been some debate amongst the American governing elite about America's place in the world and its declining power. Barack Obama went to Australia not long ago and declared that America will continue to be an Asia-Pacific power. And the issue of the Brzezinskian grand chessboard is still very much on their mind. But what does this maintaining America's position in the world mean for ordinary Americans? Who's going to pay for all this? When it comes to competitiveness, it really means wages, although that word doesn't get talked about very much, not in the mainstream press or in the halls of Congress.
Well, it does get talked about in a piece written by Jeff Faux, and he's now joining us. Jeff is a founder and distinguished fellow of the Economic Policy Institute in Washington, D.C. He's an activist, economist, and writer. He's written extensively on issues from globalization to neighborhood development, and his latest book is The Servant Economy: Where America's Elite is Sending the Middle Class. Thanks very much for joining us, Jeff.
JEFF FAUX, AUTHOR: Oh, it's great to be here, Paul. Thank you.
JAY: So, I mean, clearly we are dealing with a different world. And it's not just that it's militarily different, in the sense that China's now somewhat of a power, so is Russia and—back somewhat of a power—I mean, nothing on the scale of the United States, but the geopolitics and chessboard has changed somewhat. But where it's changed a lot more is with this massive industrial capacity in areas of the world where 20, 30 years ago there was nothing like it—advanced technology, high-quality production, very low wages. And America wants to maintain its competitiveness in all of this. So talk a bit about that and what that might mean for ordinary Americans, and maybe what the word competitiveness means.
FAUX: Well, I think—start from what I think is the basic assumption, and that is the United States can no longer satisfy the three great dreams that have driven American politics over the last decades. The first dream is the dream of Wall Street and business for unregulated access to speculative profits. The second dream is the dream of the military and foreign-policy elite and the military-industrial complex for global hegemony. The third dream is the dream of ordinary Americans for a rising living standard.
Now, we can have one out of three, certainly. Two out of three, maybe. Three out of three? No way. So in effect the decision is being made right now—or has been made—by this country's elite.
There's a lot of talk in Washington, as you know, about the grand bargain between Republicans and Democrats over budgets and taxes. But the real deal has already been cut. The average American income in real wages is going to decline over the next 10 years, 15 years, as far into the future as we can see. Now, this has been coming for a long time. It's not just about the recession and it's not temporary. As you probably know, for the last 30 years we've had stagnant wages in America. After wages rise steadily since World War II, they flattened out after 1979 and essentially have been flat.
So the question is: if wages were flat, how come everything looked so good? That is, people went to shopping centers and bought cars and houses during those 30 years that ended in 2008. And the reason is two. One, family incomes kept up because we sent more members of the family to work, usually the wife. Now there are more women than men in the labor force so that that strategy for most people is exhausted. The second is debt. People weren't getting raises, but they were getting access to cheaper and accessible credit. That has evaporated with the collapse of the financial sector.
JAY: Jeff, before you continue, let me ask: so if this process more or less began in the '70s, why? What happened? Why? If you could—you know, to some extent one could say that third dream of ordinary Americans, you know, to own a house, send the kids to college, not to be terrified of losing their job, to some extent that's—dream was still possible, at least in the early '60s.
FAUX: Oh, yeah. And the reason—.
JAY: So what happens?
FAUX: Yeah. There are three things that happened since the end of the '70s. The data starts from 1979; the kink in the curve starts from 1979. One was globalization, and by that I mean, essentially, exposing American workers to a very brutal and competitive global labor market before they were prepared.
Second, the weakening of the bargaining position of the average American worker. A lot of that had to do with the decline of unions. But it affected union members and nonunion members. The second thing that happened was the weakening of the bargaining position of the average American worker. This was not just about weaker unions, but weaker unions played a key role, not just for union members, but for people who aren't union members. Because unions were strong—or certainly stronger than they are now—the threat of unionization kept the bosses and kept the employers from cutting wages too much, cutting pensions too much, even though they would have liked to. So weaker unions, weaker bargaining positions [crosstalk]
JAY: And is weaker unions and bargaining positions linked to number one, which is globalization and the threat of moving offshore?
FAUX: That's right, certainly linked to number one. And number three, later, was the shredding of the safety net, the real value of the minimum wage, and the kinds of New Deal protections for labor that have been frayed away over the last 10 or 15 years.
But on the first, on globalization, there's something very important here to remember, and that is it not only affected working people, but it changed the culture of the American elite. You know, if you go back to the early part of the 20th century, labor and capital were in fierce struggles. But both labor and capital knew that they needed each other and were stuck in the same country. So, you know, when Henry Ford raised the wages of his Ford employees to $5 a day, the Wall Street guys said, Henry, what are you doing here? I mean, you can't pay—you're spoiling these people, you're paying them too much. And Henry Ford, who was a SOB union buster, said, look, I've got to pay them enough to come in to make the cars, but I also need to pay them enough to buy the cars. So it was an economy in which, while there were labor and capital disputes, we were all in it together.
What happened—what's happened since the 1980s is that globalization, the deregulation of trade and investment, has allowed the American commercial and economic elite to roam the world in search of lower wages, in search of government subsidies by Third World countries, etc.
JAY: Yeah, so you now have a situation where they saved GM and Chrysler, but workers'—starting worker wages go from, what, $26 to $14 an hour, and you probably couldn't buy a new car at $14 an hour.
FAUX: Exactly. And unlike Henry Ford, the people who run the Ford Motor Company today, you know, have other people they can use to sell their cars to. And so high wages, which we sort of learned after the 1930s were good for the economy because it created consumer demand and consumers bought the goods that were being produced, high wages in America are no longer what they were. They're now a threat to multinational corporations who still produce and sell things. And that's been a critical change.
JAY: They also seem to no longer think they need an educated workforce. I used to—in the '50s and '60s, all this talk about, you know, America will compete because it's going to be the most educated working class and this and that, they don't seem to care anymore. The public school system can go to hell and they don't seem to care.
FAUX: They don't care. But that's sort of the last excuse of the political governing class. I mean, whether it's, you know, Barack Obama, George Bush, Bill Clinton, they're all the so-called education presidents, and their answer to this decline in living standards and wages is not to worry, just go get an education. Barack Obama was in Florida about a year ago touring the country, saying the way we're going to compete in the world is to out-educate everyone.
Well, first what's obvious: that we're shrinking the schools, we're laying off teachers, kids can't go to college because it costs too much. But second, which is really important, we are not creating jobs for educated young people. You go into Apple, in the Apple Store, there is the future. And it's not the technology. It's in all those smart college-educated kids working as retail clerks for $10, $12 an hour. The Bureau of Labour Statistics—government agency—projects that between 2010-2020, the largest, fastest-growing occupations in this country, of the ten largest and fastest-growing, only one requires a college education.
JAY: Well, Jeff, we're going to pick this up in part two, and what I'll be asking in part two is it seems to me while this may make sense for Apple and it may make sense for a lot of individual companies to drive wages down and have more and more service jobs, as an economy somebody's got to be making money to buy all this stuff, and that seems to be where the rub is. So join us for part two of our series of interviews with Jeff Faux on The Real News Network.

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داعش و دام اسلامی کردن خاورمیانه Image

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داعش و دام اسلامی کردن خاورمیانه

 داعش و دام اسلامی کردن خاورمیانه
ژرفشی پیرامون ژاژخایی بارک الحسین آل اوباما در مبارزه علیه ددمنشان داعش.
نویسنده وگوینده: نیک پاکپور
به باور گوینده، آنچه را که ما امروز در میین استریم مه دییا ” Mainstream media” غربی، به عنوان جنجال جنگی غرب علیه جهادیزم جانی، وحشی ـ وهابی، اسلامی ـ ارتجاعی، در منطقه خاورمیانه شاهد هستیم، در اصل و اساسش چیزی به جز یک رجز خوانی ره توریک گونه یا تبلیغات تعفن بار و تهوع آور، آغشته و آمیخته به انواع ترفندها، تزویرها، تحریک ها و توطئه های تموچین گونه برای تسخیر، تقسیم و تصرف و سپس تهی کردن و تخلیه کردن خاورمیانه از منابع، معادن و مینرال سرشار نفتی و گازی اش نمی باشد که از سالها پیش توست استراتژیست های ”Anglo-American” آلبته با سروری و سردمداری سبعانه و ساویج گونه زایونیزم جهاتی بطور مکارانه و مزورانه و میرغضبانه، مهندسی و معماری شده است

نیک پاکپور - تراژدی تاریخی 28 مرداد Image

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نیک پاکپور - تراژدی تاریخی 28 مرداد

تراژدی تاریخی 28 مرداد

سیر و سیاحتی به مناسبت 61 مین سالگرد کودتای ننگین 28 مرداد

گوینده: نیک پاکپور

پیش از اینکه با سنبه وسوندی سنباننده به سفتن مدخل ومجرای، بحثی تاریخی، در مورد کودتای 28 مرداد سال 1332 خورشیدی ایران را، باز کنم، لازم می بینم که نخست بطور مختصر و مرخم ومفید، اشاراتی نیز داشته باشم به شیوها وشگردهای شیادانه و شعبده بازانه تعداد بسیار، بسیار اندکی از مائوئیست های متاسیون شده و کمونيیست های Quisling شده به همراه مونارکیست های منحط و متواری، مومیایی شده، که درطی دهه های گذشته، بویژه پس از انقراض و اضمحال یا انحطاط بساط سلطه و سیطره ارتجاع ، استعمار و استکبار جهانی در ایران، که اغلب بخاطر مزد و معاش در جهت ارتزاق و ارتشاف شخصی و شکمی، با تغذیه از اسناد استفراغ زده شده و آروغ زده شده ارتجاع جهانی، بسان رجاله گان سیاسی، با رجزخوانی رذیلانه، برای رضی و راضی نگهداشتن دشمنان دژنام ایرانی، در رسانه ها و روزنامه های باصطلاع فارسی زبان زیر سیطره و ساطور سیاه سازمان های اطلاعاتی lntelligency چون CIA امریکا و MI6 انگلستان و DGSE فرانسه، BND آلمان و موساد اسرائیل بنام صدای امریکا و رادیوی فریب و Fradulent فردا، بی بی سی، رادیوی RFI، رادیوی دویچه وله فارسی، صدای شوم Zionism جهانی، یعنی اسرايیل، البته با مدد سفسطه ولی با سکسکه سفیل ، سفیهانه و سالوسانه، علیه سیمای ستبر مردم ایران یا سخن پراکنی کرده یا با کمک مستقیم و غیر مستقیم Benefit سیاسی ارتجاع جهانی، مرتکب نسک و نشر و جهل، جوزن وجادوگری تاریخی شده اند، و بارها و بارها به کرات و مرات با کراهت و گژبینی گزند گونه در سنگر گزیزگاه دشمن با کرنش و کمر خم کنی خماننده ولی با نیش و نیشتر و نیرنگی فریبنده، برای توجیه و تطهیر و تبرئه عاملان و قاتلان و خائنان داخلی و خاری کودتای 28 مرداد، نوکربابانه یا نطق کرده یا نسک نگاشته اند. لطفآ بقیه را در video توجه فرمائید!

 


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گوینده: نیک پاکپور - بنیاد بریکس و بیم غرب

بنیاد بریکس و بیم غرب
گوینده: نیک پاکپور
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Europe

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Oligarchs Consolidate Power in Ukraine After Parliamentary Elections Image

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Oligarchs Consolidate Power in Ukraine After Parliamentary Elections

Professor Ivan Katchanovski says the new parties in power are new coalitions between the members of the same oligarchic class

Bio
Ivan Katchanovski teaches at the School of Political Studies and the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa in Canada He received his Ph.D. from the School of Policy, Government, and International Affairs at George Mason University. He previously held research and teaching positions at Harvard University, the State University of New York at Potsdam, and the University of Toronto.
Transcript
Oligarchs Consolidate Power in Ukraine after Parliamentary Elections (1/2)ANTON WORONCZUK, TRNN PRODUCER: Welcome to The Real News Network. I'm Anton Woronczuk in Baltimore.
We're coming on one year since protest waves and demonstrations known as the Euromaidan began in Ukraine. Since then, the country has seen hundreds of protesters assaulted or murdered, including those during the February sniper massacre of over 100 protesters. It's seen the overthrow former president Viktor Yanukovych, the annexation of Crimea by Russia, the May 2 massacre of 39 people in Odessa, alongside other atrocities, and rebellions in the Eastern regions, which have left over 3,700 dead and created over 1 million refugees, with violence still ongoing despite the signing of a ceasefire agreement in September of this year.
Now, with the results in from the October 26 parliamentary elections, pro-Western and pro-European parties are set to dominate the Ukrainian parliament with a coalition to form between the Petro Poroshenko Bloc (named after the current Ukrainian president) and the People's Front, led by current prime minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk. The rebel-controlled areas of Donetsk and Lugansk will hold separate elections on November 2, with Russia saying they will support the outcome, while the Ukrainian central government in Kiev says the voting violates the terms of the ceasefire.
Here to discuss how the elections will affect the situation Ukraine is Ivan Katchanovski. He teaches at the School of Political Studies and the Department of Communication at the University of Ottawa in Canada. He is the author of Cleft Countries: Regional Political Divisions and Cultures in Post-Soviet Ukraine and Moldova and is the coauthor of the Historical Dictionary of Ukraine.
Thanks for joining us, Ivan.
IVAN KATCHANOVSKI, PROFESSOR, UNIVERSITY OF OTTOWA: [Thank you] for inviting me.
WORONCZUK: So, Ivan, most of the reporting in the mainstream press, at least in the United States, has focused on the outcome of these elections in terms of how it will affect the geopolitical orientation of Ukraine towards the West and towards Europe. But it's also worth recalling that the current president, Petro Poroshenko, had called for early parliamentary elections and that the purpose of this was actually to purge members of the parliament that were connected to the former president, Yanukovych. Do you think that these elections have achieved that result?
KATCHANOVSKI: I think they achieved this aim to a significant extent. Poroshenko used specific term, revenge of former members of Yanukovych by definition and the Communist Party as a fifth column, and here basically worked to eliminate them from the Ukrainian politics, from the parliament. And the Communist Party is now outside of the parliament. The government wanted to prohibit Communist Party, but they basically achieved this goal with help of elections.
And former Party of Regions still exists Ukraine. They have a new leadership. But they did not run in the elections under their own name. Many of their members and leaders actually run as a part of the Opposition Bloc [incompr.] this Opposition Bloc would be represented in the parliament. It [incompr.] much less [incompr.] actual [incompr.] elections in 2012.
WORONCZUK: So it's also worth taking note that of all of the political parties that have gained the most in the parliamentary elections, actually had not run in the previous election for Ukrainian Parliament, but one party that had historically been part of the parliament, the Fatherland Party, which is led by, Yulia Tymoshenko, the first female prime minister of Ukraine, as well as that who was called the leader of the Orange Revolution, her party lost 82 seats. What's the significance of this?
KATCHANOVSKI: I think this is another major development of elections in addition to changes in the main political parties. This is quite typical for Ukrainian elections and for political party system in Ukraine, which is dominated by oligarchic parties, like our former president, Fatherland Party, which was kind of established by Tymoshenko and led by Tymoshenko. She was an oligarchy since 1990s. Poroshenko's bloc is also oligarchic party, representing interests of Poroshenko and his associates. And I think similar situations would be with many other put political parties in Ukraine, which often change their orientation, ideology, communication, political alliances, and their views on many major issues, and even their names.
But I think in the case of Fatherland, a major split took place before the elections. And former associates of Tymoshenko from her party and from the allied party Front Zmin, led by Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, they've established their own political party called the People's Front and they sealed very big support in these elections. They sealed 22 percent support, a similar percentage as the party led by Petro Poroshenko.
WORONCZUK: So if most of these parties are dominated by members of the oligarchic class and they just seem to pop to a different party or shift to a different party or new parties, do these elections represent any significant change in the character of the ruling elite in the parliament?
KATCHANOVSKI: Yes, I think they basically consolidated control over the Ukrainian government and Ukrainian politics by a new set of political organizations and a new set of oligarchs. And these new oligarchs, which receive very big support, in addition to Poroshenko, such oligarchs include Ihor Kolomoyskyi, who is governor of Dnipropetrovsk region. But also he provided significant backing and financial support to political parties which are now represented in the parliament. And he also has various representatives in the parliament from different political parties. So [there's (?)] also now a big faction of separatists of Kolomoyskyi in the parliament in addition to basically faction of Petro Poroshenko. And there also individual candidates who received support in or won election races in majoritarian districts, and they also often are rich businessmen or associated with oligarchs. So I think this was also victory for oligarchic political parties in Ukraine, but in addition [incompr.] performance by far right political parties, specifically the Radical Party, but also Svoboda, which received significant support even if it was not represented in the parliament on the party list.
WORONCZUK: Well, but it doesn't seem like some of those far right wing parties, like Svoboda or the Right Sector, will even have that much influence. From what I understand, Svoboda just passed the necessary amount to be able to enter into parliament, and as I understand, Right Sector didn't even make it into the parliament.
KATCHANOVSKI: [incompr.] Svoboda actually--according to the latest data that I saw, Svoboda would fail to enter the parliament under their party list, because they received about 4 and 7 percent of national vote, which would be lower compared to the actual vote of 5 percent. But several of Svoboda members were elected to the parliament in majoritarian districts. And the same applies to the Right Sector. Right Sector received about 2 percent of the popular vote [incompr.] would be represented as political /pæk/ in the parliament. But its leader, Yarosh, and also some of its members, other members, were elected to the parliament in the regional districts, since they would have representation of these parties in the Ukrainian parliament. But in addition to this, there was also party called the Radical Party, which is led by Lyashko. And this party's a combination of different ideological [stems (?)], but it has very strong far-right component. Some of its members who were elected to the parliament in recent elections or in the last elections include a leader of neo-Nazi Social National Party of Ukraine, and also some of the former leader of the Ukrainian [incompr.]
WORONCZUK: Do you expect them to cooperate closely with this coalition that's forming between the Petro Poroshenko Bloc and the People's Front? Or do you expect it to be more antagonistic?
KATCHANOVSKI: I think it's difficult to say now definitely, because Ukrainian politics is--how do you say?--is often based on kind of backsided deals and not very transparent. But latest information that I have is that both Poroshenko Bloc and People's Front, led by Yatsenyuk, they suggested that they would be open to Radical Party joining their coalition. So it's possible that the Radical Party would also join the government, even. So it's, again, difficult to tell if they would reach such a deal.
WORONCZUK: Okay. And as I mentioned earlier, we're coming on about one year since the Euromaidan protests really took off. Do you see the new parliament as representing the interests or representing the interests of the Euromaidan protesters?
KATCHANOVSKI: I think most of the political parties which won the elections actually represented former opposition and former Maidan protesters. And these include political parties, specifically Poroshenko's Bloc, which includes also UDAR members, UDAR political party, led by Klitschko. There were also other political parties, like Fatherland, which is now represented by both Fatherland and by the People's Front. Other political parties include the far right and also far-right organizations like the Right Sector and the Social National Assembly, which were able to elect their representatives to the parliament in individual races. So they would achieve such a representation.
I think this is basically big victory for the Maidan forces. But I think this is actually not a very positive development, because actually, in terms of politics, this means that the opposition is very weak now and there are--the current government basically just consolidated its control over Ukrainian politics and [it tries to (?)] eliminate opposition or any possible challenges from the former opposition or any new opposition that might emerge. And, actually, they came to power. Also it necessary to remember that they came to power not as a result of democratic elections, but as a result of violent overthrow of the former democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych, even though it was very corrupt government and it was involved in various human rights violations--specifically, trying to disperse protesters against Yanukovych government last year when the Euromaidan started.
Actually, the evidence that I have and which I collected and which I analyzed for my research paper actually shows that this was a violent overthrow of the government and actually is that this evidence that such overthrow was achieved with help of so-called snipers massacre. And this snipers massacre was organized, according to the evidence that they have, by the Right Sector, or there was involvement of the Right Sector and certain other elements of the Maidan opposition, very likely from some of the oligarchic parties or some other parties which are now represented in the parliament. So they basically just consolidated their victory.
But if you go back to the Maidan, even though it was very--a popular movement against the government of Viktor Yanukovych, the Euromaidan achieved its victory not as a result of a peaceful protest; it actually was able to overthrow Yanukovych as a result of violence. So this was actually against police and, later, violence against demonstrators or protesters actually from the Maidan side itself.
WORONCZUK: Okay, Ivan, we'll hold part one of the conversation here for now.
So join us for our next interview on the Ukrainian parliamentary elections with Ivan Katchanovski on The Real News Network.
End

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Kobani granny & other refugees desperate to halt ISIS at Turkey-Syria border

US-led coalition has been bombing the Syrian border city of Kobani for more than a month, trying to help the local Kurds slow the advance of Islamic state.The violence has forced thousands of civilians to flee their homes to Turkey .Paula Slier reports from one the refugee camps.RT LIVE http://rt.com/on-airSubscribe to RT! http://www.youtube.com/subscription_center?add_user=RussiaTodayLike us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTnewsFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_comFollow us on Instagram http://instagram.com/rtFollow us on Google+ http://plus.google.com/+RTRT (Russia Today) is a global news network broadcasting from Moscow and Washington studios. RT is the first news channel to break the 1 billion YouTube views benchmark.

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The Stigma of Welfare in White Working Class America Image

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The Stigma of Welfare in White Working Class America

In the town of Westminster, Maryland, residents view public assistance as system with pervasive fraud and abuse

Bio
Jessica Desvarieux is a multimedia journalist who serves as the Capitol Hill correspondent for the Real News Network. Most recently, Jessica worked as a producer for the ABC Sunday morning program, This Week with Christianne Amanpour. Before moving to Washington DC, Jessica served as the Haiti corespondent for TIME Magazine and TIME.com. Previously, she was as an on-air reporter for New York tri-state cable outlet Regional News Network, where she worked before the 2010 earthquake struck her native country of Haiti. From March 2008 - September 2009, she lived in Egypt, where her work appeared in various media outlets like the Associated Press, Voice of America, and the International Herald Tribune - Daily News Egypt. She graduated from Northwestern University's Medill School of Journalism with a Master of Science degree in journalism. She is proficient in French, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and has a working knowledge of Egyptian Colloquial Arabic. Follow her @Jessica_Reports.

NASA rocket explodes seconds after launch in Virginia Image

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NASA rocket explodes seconds after launch in Virginia

An unmanned Antares rocket carrying supplies to the International Space Station exploded seconds after liftoff Tuesday evening in Wallops Island, VA. The damage is thought to be contained to the launch site, and so far no injuries are reported.Find RT America in your area: http://rt.com/where-to-watch/Or watch us online: http://rt.com/on-air/rt-america-air/Like us on Facebook http://www.facebook.com/RTAmericaFollow us on Twitter http://twitter.com/RT_America

Growing Rift Between US & Turkey Over Arming Kurds Image

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Growing Rift Between US & Turkey Over Arming Kurds

Baris Karaagac: Ankara remains opposed assisting to PKK-linked Kurdish rebels, who they consider terrorist organization

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Baris Karaagac is a lecturer in International Development Studies at Trent University, in Ontario. He is also the editor of the book Accumulations, Crises and Struggles: Capital and Labour in Contemporary Capitalism.

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  • The Russians are coming! UK media hypes up RAF interception of Latvian plane
    The Russians are coming! UK media hypes up RAF interception of Latvian plane By RT Two Royal Air Force jets reportedly threatened to shoot down a Latvian cargo plane, rushing at supersonic speeds to intercept it, after the plane failed to respond to air traffic control over Kent in Southern England and sent authorities into panic mode.“I am instructed by Her Majesty’s Government of the United Kingdom to warn you that, if you do not respond immediately to my orders, you will be shot down,” radioed one of the jets, according to an audio recording circulating in UK media.The incident occurred at about 5pm local time after the Latvian Antonov An-26 aircraft failed to make contact with air traffic controllers.British Typhoons were tasked with intercepting the cargo plane. “To fulfill their quick reaction role, they were cleared to travel at supersonic speed,” an RAF spokesperson said, adding that the speed explains the loud noise people heard in the air.Many locals took to Twitter, describing how their houses shook after the loud bangs. Communications with the civilian pilots were restored only after the jets intercepted the plane.The Latvian plane was then escorted to London’s Stansted Airport at around 5:20 pm “All three people who were on board have been spoken to by police,” AP quoted Essex Police spokeswoman Emma Thomas as saying. “It was established that everything was in order and the reason for the short loss of communication was due to a change in airspace jurisdiction.”Russian planes everywhereThe excitement surrounding the intercept – apparently based on post-9/11 terrorist attack fears – came amid a heightened terror alert in the UK at the time of the allied military campaign against the Islamic State.Media reports mirrored the panic frenzy triggered by the incident, but in a peculiar way: first saying that the cargo plane was “Russian” and then switching to a “Russian-made” reference.Both takes were wrong: the Antonov design bureau, the producer of An-26 planes, is a Ukrainian company founded in Soviet times, and the plane in question belonged to a Latvian-registered company, ironically called RAF-Avia.However, the British media seemingly capitalized on the latest NATO reports of “unusual” increased activity of Russian military aircrafts over the Atlantic and the Black Sea. An-26 (AFP Photo/TASR)NATO stated that it has intercepted four groups of Russian planes since Tuesday. “These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European airspace,” the alliance said.Most media reports based on the NATO statement failed to mention that the Russian planes did not cross any borders and remained within international airspace in every mentioned case.Four Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers were spotted participating in a military exercise over the Norwegian Sea early on Wednesday. “We see Russian aircraft near our airspace on a regular basis but what was unusual is that it was a large number of aircraft and pushed further south than we normally see,” Reuters quoted a Norwegian military spokesman as saying.In another incident on Wednesday, two Tu-95s were being monitored by Turkish aircraft over the Black Sea.
  • Google data collection worries Americans more than NSA
    Google data collection worries Americans more than NSA By RT Americans may not like the fact that the National Security Agency is collecting data on their phone calls and emails, but it turns out they are even more concerned over another surveillance threat: Google.READ MORE: 'Google grown big & bad': Assange reveals company & its founder's links to US govtIn a survey conducted by the consumer feedback service Survata, the company asked internet users just how angry they would be if they discovered various groups or individuals had gained access to essentially all of their personal data online.“To evaluate this, we polled over 2,500 respondents with two surveys — one gauging concern with the NSA and a corporation like Google gaining access to personal data, and one with bosses, significant others, and parents,” the company wrote online. “Overall, the results show respondents were most concerned by a company like Google gaining this access, as shown by the average level of concern.”Survey participants responded to these questions by choosing a number between one to 10, with one meaning they would not care and 10 meaning they would be “extremely upset.”In response to the idea that Google would gain access to their data, the average score was 7.39. For comparison, the average score regarding the NSA was 7.06.Meanwhile, in the event that their boss gained access to their data, respondents scored the possibility with a 6.85. The prospect of the participants' parents snooping on their digital life received a 5.93.In a statement to CNET, Survata co-founder Chris Kelly said the company did not expect to see the results it did.READ MORE: ‘Facebook a gift to intelligence agencies’ - Laura Poitras"Survata was surprised to see respondents said they'd be more upset with a company like Google seeing their personal data than the NSA,” he said. “We did not ask respondents for the reasons or motivations behind their answers; so we can only conjecture based on our previous research. One guess is that respondents assume the NSA is only looking for 'guilty' persons when scouring personal data, whereas a company like Google would use personal data to serve ads or improve their own products."Still, CNET’s Chris Matyszczyk noted that most of the survey takers were between the ages of 13 and 44, a group that has typically been the most willing to give up its personal data to social media giants and other digital application developers.“If these results are to be believed, then humanity is rife with those who speak out of several sides of their mouth,” he wrote. “On the one hand, we claim to fear Google most, yet we allow it, Facebook and the like to crawl over our daily routines and information like summer flies enjoying a rancid grapefruit.”That sentiment has been echoed by other prominent voices, notably NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden and WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange. Earlier this month, Snowden called networks like Facebook and Google “dangerous” for being hostile to privacy and not allowing encrypted messages.READ MORE: Spying and storing: Assange says 'Google works like NSA'In September, meanwhile, Assange compared Google to the NSA, saying it generates revenue by gathering and selling individuals’ data.“Google’s business model is the spy. It makes more than 80 percent of its money by collecting information about people, pooling it together, storing it, indexing it, building profiles of people to predict their interests and behavior, and then selling those profiles principally to advertisers, but also others,” he said.“So the result is that Google, in terms of how it works, its actual practice, is almost identical to the National Security Agency or GCHQ.”
  • Nato jets intercept Russian warplanes
    Nato jets intercept Russian warplanes Bombers and fighters shadowed during unusual burst of flights over Atlantic, North Sea, Baltic and Black Sea, says alliance By Staff and agencies "theguardian.com, Thursday 30 October 2014 03.06 GMT" Nato aircraft have been scrambled to shadow Russian strategic bombers over the Atlantic and Black Sea and fighter planes over the Baltic in what the western alliance called an unusual burst of activity as tensions remain elevated because of the situation in Ukraine.In all, Nato said, its jets intercepted four groups of Russian aircraft in about 24 hours since Tuesday and some were still on manoeuvres late on Wednesday afternoon.“These sizeable Russian flights represent an unusual level of air activity over European air space,” the alliance said.A spokesman stressed there had been no violation of Nato air space, unlike a week earlier when a Russian spy plane briefly crossed Estonia’s border. But so many sorties in one day was unusual compared with recent years.In the biggest exercise four Tupolev Tu-95 strategic bombers, the 1950s equivalent of the US B-52, flew out over the Norwegian Sea in the early hours of Wednesday, accompanied by four refuelling tanker aircraft.Norwegian F-16s tracked the formation, which eventually broke up, with six planes heading back toward Russia and two Tu-95s flying on south over the North Sea where they were intercepted by British Typhoons. Portuguese F-16s later tracked them in the Atlantic before they turned for home.A Norwegian military spokesman said: “We see Russian aircraft near our air space on a regular basis but what was unusual is that it was a large number of aircraft and pushed further south than we normally see.”In a second incident two Tu-95s accompanied by two fighter jets were being tracked by Turkish aircraft over the Black Sea on Wednesday afternoon, while flights of seven Russian warplanes were monitored on Tuesday and Wednesday over the Baltic Sea.On Tuesday German and Danish planes were involved in tracking them as well as aircraft from non-Nato states Sweden and Finland. On Wednesday Portuguese F-16s posted in the Baltic intercepted a similar group of fighters and fighter-bombers.Separately, British jets intercepted a Russian-built Antonov cargo plane that was carrying car parts from Latvia to Birmingham after air traffic controllers became concerned. The plane was diverted to Stansted airport and later cleared to continue its flight.Nato said it had conducted more than 100 such intercepts of Russian aircraft this year so far, about three times as many as in 2013 before the confrontation with Moscow over separatist revolts in Ukraine soured relations.President Vladimir Putin has committed to reinvigorating Russia’s armed forces, which had been undermined by the economic troubles that followed the collapse of the Soviet Union. Tension over Ukraine has seen Nato step up its vigilance, especially on its eastern frontiers with Russia.The spokesman said there was no particular reason for concern over Russian warplanes exercising their right to fly in international air space but that such sorties were shadowed by Nato aircraft as a precaution and to protect civil air traffic.Material from Reuters was used in this report
  • Prospects for Ukraine’s Division: Poland Tries it Out
    Prospects for Ukraine’s Division: Poland Tries it Out By Dmitry MININ | 30.10.2014 | 00:00 "Strategic Culture Foundation" Poland's parliamentary speaker Radoslaw Sikorski has been quoted as saying that Russian President Vladimir Putin proposed to Poland's then prime minister to divide Ukraine between themselves. Sikorski, who until September served as Poland's foreign minister, was quoted telling U.S. website Politico that Putin allegedly made the proposal during the Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk's visit to Moscow in 2008 as one-to-one meeting took place. Mr. Tusk will become President of the European Council on December 1, 2014. Sikorski did not make the statement at random but rather on purpose and this fact tells a lot. It looks like Sikorski made an attempt to test the general reaction to the idea of Ukraine’s partition and simultaneously add the issue of reshaping the borders to the international agenda. Sikorski is impudent enough to shift the blame on others as the Warsaw real intentions are ascribed to third parties. «He (Russian President Vladimir Putin) went on to say Ukraine is an artificial country and that Lviv is a Polish city and why don't we just sort it out together», Sikorski was quoted as saying. Note: Radosław Tomasz «Radek» Sikorski is a foreign minister in the cabinet of Donald Tusk. He resigned to become the Marshall of the Sejm in September 2014. Mr. Sikorski is known for his anti-Russian views. In 1986, he travelled to Afghanistan to aid the mujahedeen against the Soviet Union while a war correspondent for the Sunday Telegraph. He took part in combat actions against the Soviet troops in the ranks of mujahedeen forces. This fact was mentioned in one of his books later.It did not take much time to reveal that the fact was invented. Poland's former Prime Minister, Donald Tusk, denied that Russian President Vladimir Putin suggested that their two nations carve up Ukraine. In an interview on Radio TOK-FM on October 24, Tusk said that Putin never suggested to him that Poland and Russia partition Ukraine. «In none of the meetings with President Putin was such a proposition made», the Polish Prime Minister said. «Ukraine was never on the agenda of talks I had with President Putin», Mr. Tusk said adding that the meeting in Moscow in February 2008 was not one-to-one but a group session attended by «four or five people».The former Prime Minister firmly denies the Russian President has ever heard anything like that.Sikorsky started to wriggle. First he said that he was misunderstood, and then he blamed the whole thing on memory failure. Afterwards there was a walk-back - he retracted his own statements to say that then Prime Minister Donald Tusk allegedly refused to join «another Molotov-Ribbentrop Act» and thus deserves to head the European Council.The Sikorski statements don’t look like an improvisation produced by Warsaw. After the lie was exposed a Western journalist, a British if I remember it right, persistently asked President Putin at the Valdai Club meeting in Sochi what he thought about the hypothetical partition of Ukraine and who Lviv should belong to from «cultural-historic» point of view? There was an obvious intent to make the Russian President give an answer that would match, at least indirectly, what Sikorski had said before. The Atlantic allies are true to themselves: they are pondering the Ukraine’s partition but accuse Russia in advance of entertaining such plans! The Annual Meeting of the Valdai International Discussion Club. President Putin’s address and Q&A session.The President’s answer was given in absolutely clear terms. He said that Russia has no intent to come up with such initiatives and does not support the partition of Ukraine. Indeed, the country’s society, as well as the population of Lviv, is not homogeneous. Lviv is a city that is subject to Polish cultural influence. This is a well-known historic fact. But it does not have to lead to the country’s partition. One should respect the facts and not try to implement the total unification of the Ukraine’s national life, something the Ukraine’s regime is doing as it incites the spread of nationalist sentiments in Warsaw.But the word has been spoken and it is out now. No matter the Sikorski’s plans to ascribe his intentions to Moscow have failed, Polish Gazeta Wyborcza writes that Sikorski had to make a walk-back under pressure and the words he said initially should be taken at their face value. The Kremlin harbors evil intent towards Ukraine and would like to offer Lviv to Poland in the form of pickings after a feast. In this case it would have an accomplice and a justification of its actions before the world. It would say that Ukraine is an artificial entity and Poland thinks the same way. Moreover Tusk is supposed to have serious reasons to make Sikorski come under harsh criticism, instead he actually defends him. «This whole story shows that human memory is sometimes fallible», Tusk said. He praised Sikorski as one of the country's most talented politicians of the last 20 years and hopes that one «unfortunate interview» will not end his career. The Speaker of Sejm appears to have done something seen as useful by other Polish leaders. The idea to return the lost lands to Poland, the territory that was illegally taken away, is not new. Polish media outlets get back to the topic regularly. George Friedman, the Chairman of Stratfor, an American global intelligence company, is open and above board as he talks about the Polish Block to dominate Central and East Europe. The only thing that before it was simply not a thing to speak about out loud at high level. Now the time is ripe to change that and speak out one’s mind. True, the appetite is not as great as it used to be. As the words juggling by Sikorski shows, the plans to make Ukraine part of the «Baltic-Black Sea axis» or the federal union of Kiev and Warsaw are limited by the territory that belonged to Poland in the times of Josef Pilsudski (a Polish statesman; Chief of State (1918–22), «First Marshall of Poland» (from 1920), and de facto leader (1926–35) of the Second Polish Republic). Poland started to realize that Ukraine is a real hard burden to shoulder. The resistance of Donbass and the sentiments spread in other parts of Novorossia do not create favorable conditions for polonization of this cultural-historic region.The Sikorski statements coincided with the intensification of the European Galician Assembly activities in West Ukraine. The organization is suspected of separatism. It does not say openly it wants the western part of Ukraine to be separated from the country but the stated goal is the development of Galicia and its integration into Europe. The head of organization Vladimir Pavliv believes that three provinces – Lviv, Ternopil and Ivano-Frankivsk – are to be united. He says Galicia is the part of the country most ready for European integration. Galicia would also like Transcarpathia and Bucovina to join.Note: the European Galician Assembly is a radical public organization that stands for the integration of Ukraine’s three Western provinces into the European Union and their separation from the rest of Ukraine. It believes that people in the west and east parts of Ukraine have different mentality.At that the hopes for compatibility of Poland and Galicia may prove wrong. The web of contradictions at this cultural crossroad has a complex and bloody history. The cult of Stepan Bandera and the Ukrainian Insurgent Army in West Ukraine is rejected by Poles as their predecessors suffered in the hands of Bandera-led fighters. There is also a threat of restitution. The former Lviv and other cities dwellers may want their property back. Note: Stepan Bandera (1909-1959) is an ideologist and theorist of Ukrainian radical nationalism that viewed Moskali (Russians), Poles and Yids (Jews) as enemies. He was a member of West Ukrainian OUN (the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists). Bandera was involved in terrorist activities on Poland’s soil and collaborated with Nazi during WWII. Today he is a hero of Ukrainian nationalists that became parliament (Verkhovna Rada) members as a result of the October 26 election.Gazeta Wyborcza writes that in Poland tensions are growing among Poles and Ukrainians. A scandal that took place in the East European State Higher School in Przemyśl came into fore. Nine Ukrainian students posted a picture showing them holding a flag of UPA. On October 14, Petro Poroshenko signed a decree proclaiming October 14 to be the day of celebrating Day of Defender of Ukraine, instead of the post-Soviet analogous holiday celebrated on February 23. October 14 is the symbolic founding day of the Ukrainian Insurgent Army. The Polish national movement perceived this decision as an intent to make the history of UPA «a basis of the mythology of contemporary Ukrainian state». In early October a group of Polish students established a movement called «Stop Ukrainization of Opole University». They accused the management of discrimination in favor of students who are Ukrainians by origin. The attempts of Kiev to get coal for free in Poland were not only rejected but also subject to mockery by Polish media. Note: The UPA is the Ukrainian Insurgent Army, a wing of the Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists (OUN). In the days of the Second World War it collaborated with Hitler’s Germany, including the Wehrmacht, police and security services. It fought against the Red Army and was involved in extermination of Polish population in the western part of Ukraine. It organized the Volyn massacre when 200 thousand Poles and Jews in Volyn lost their lives. President Petro Poroshenko signed a decree proclaiming October 14 to be the day of celebrating Day of Defender of Ukraine, instead of the post-Soviet analogous holiday celebrated on February 23. Today the insignia and symbols of UPA became part of Ukraine’s state ideology. It was the main cause of the Donbass tragedy where Russians reject fascism.* * *There is a long-term strategy behind the Sikorski statements. Old gentry’s ambitions are still alive among Poles, but it should be remembered that the attempts to implement them in reality have failed. It can happen again if somebody in Poland inspired by the influence from overseas try to reshape the European borders.
  • Russian nuclear sub test-fires Bulava strategic missile (VIDEO)
    Russian nuclear sub test-fires Bulava strategic missile (VIDEO) By RT A Russian Borey-class nuclear submarine has successfully test-fired a Bulava strategic missile, the Russian Defense Ministry said. The ballistic missile was launched from a submerged position with all 16 rockets onboard the sub during the test.READ MORE: Russia’s newest Borei-class nuclear sub completes sea trialsThe Yuri Dolgoruky (K-535) submarine fired the missile on Wednesday. All of the Bulava’s warheads hit the Kura test range in the Kamchatka Peninsula in the Russian the Far East, according to the ministry. “The actions of firing of the missile by the commander of the vessel 1st Rank Captain Vladimir Shirina and the Yuri Dolgoruky’s crew are assessed as professional and competent,” a statement from the military’s press service said.It is the first time that such a test was carried out with a full load of Bulava missiles present on board the submarine, TASS noted.With an operational range of 10,000 kilometers, Bulavas are able to carry 10 hypersonic, individually guided, maneuverable nuclear warheads with a yield of 100–150 kilotons each.The strategic nuclear submarine K-535 "Yuri Dolgoruky" (RIA Novosti)The strategic nuclear submarine K-535 "Yuri Dolgoruky" (RIA Novosti)Borey-class “stealth” submarines have been designed to become the backbone of Russia’s sea-based part of nuclear deterrent, with Bulava being its nuclear weapon of choice. The missile has a somewhat troublesome testing history, with technical glitches plaguing some of the early launches.READ MORE: Borei super-subs trials may be postponed after Bulava ‘failure’By 2020, the Russian Defense Ministry plans to have eight Borei-class submarines.The subs feature several characteristics superior to any submarine currently in service, such as the ability to cruise silently and be less detectable by sonars.Launched in February 2008, Yuri Dolgoruky joined the ranks of Russian Navy in 2013.
  • Cameron to stage Commons vote on European arrest warrant
    Cameron to stage Commons vote on European arrest warrant Prime minister signals desire to opt back in but faces large backbench revolt from within his own party over the issue By Patrick Wintour, political editor  "The Guardian, Wednesday 29 October 2014 13.54 GMT" David Cameron is to risk a backbench rebellion over opting back in to the European arrest warrant after he announced he will stage a Commons vote on the issue before the vital Rochester and Strood byelection.Ed Miliband offered to give over Labour debating time to stage the vote, but Cameron pre-empted him by saying the government had already decided to do so itself.Cameron told Miliband: “There’s only one problem with your question, which is we are going to have a vote, we are going to have it before the Rochester byelection. Your questions have just collapsed.”The prime minister’s spokesman said no precise date had yet been agreed for the vote – Labour had suggested next Wednesday – and argued it did not make any difference to the wider political scene whether it was held before or after the byelection.As many as 100 Tory backbenchers could rebel, but Cameron should get the measure through with the support of Labour and the Liberal Democrats.The government has agreed to opt out of the justice and home affairs measures, but to opt back in to 33 specific elements including the European arrest warrant.The EAW needs to be agreed by 1 December. The home secretary, Theresa May, who has been meeting backbenchers on the issue, believes the rebellion can be contained.If the Tories were to lose the byelection to Ukip, and the EAW vote was staged afterwards, the rebellion could be even larger.In another prime minister’s questions dominated by Europe and immigration, Cameron said the government was just waiting for the Spanish government to sign up and insisted the arrest warrant was “very different” from previous versions.He said the new version gave British judges discretion to reject warrants and not to allow individuals to be extradited if there was going to be a long period of detention. He said the changes negotiated represented the biggest transfer of powers back from Brussels to Britain.Miliband, after accusing Cameron of being paralysed by fear of his backbenchers, responded to Cameron’s unexpected announcement by saying: “We look forward to voting together – two parties working together in the national interest, or one and a half parties working together in the national interest.”Cameron has agreed to opt back in to 33 EU justice and home affairs measures. Most require approval only by the EU’s executive, but half a dozen need agreement from all member states.Among the other laws the UK wants to re-adopt is a prisoner transfer agreement, membership of Eurojust – the bloc’s judicial cooperation unit – and a system allowing British nationals to be bailed back to the UK.Spain argues the UK should also join up to other laws, including a DNA, fingerprint and vehicle registration database, but the UK government has said it will not do so. Spain claims the database is essential to fighting terrorism and organised crime.It is not clear if the Spanish disagreements are due to the principles at stake or part of a proxy war over the long-running dispute over Gibraltar.Miliband also reminded Cameron that he had made a pledge in a contract with the British people to reduce net immigration to the low tens of thousands and had asked voters to throw him out if he failed to meet the objective. Net migration is currently 243,000.Cameron countered that he had inherited a total and utter shambles in migration from the previous Labour government, adding that the Labour opposition was a total mess.He said Britain was a victim of a successful economy both in terms of the EU labour market and the recent EU demand that the British government pay an extra £1.7bn to the EU budget due to the strong performance of the UK economy relative to the rest of the eurozoneHe said: “The eurozone could go into its third recession in six years. We are not immune from that. We are the victims of the success of our economy in comparison with the eurozone.”
  • Norway’s oil fund hit by European stocks
    Norway’s oil fund hit by European stocks By Richard Milne in Oslo "FT" Norway’s $860bn oil fund made its first negative return in equities in more than two years as a weak performance by European stock markets hurt the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund.The oil fund made an overall return of 0.1 per cent in the third quarter and fingered UK retailer Tesco as the biggest culprit. “It’s of course clear that our investment in British retailer Tesco has performed particularly poorly,” said Yngve Slyngstad, chief executive of Norges Bank Investment Management, the manager of the fund.Overall, the fund eked out a return of just 0.1 per cent as a positive performance by its bond investments rescued it from the negative return of 0.5 per cent from equities.European stocks - which still represent nearly half of the fund’s equities portfolio - had a negative return of 4.3 per cent while US and Asian stocks both delivered positive returns.The last time the fund - by some distance the world’s largest sovereign wealth fund - had a negative return from equities was in the second quarter of 2012.The oil fund laid the blame on the consumer services and goods sectors while saying that, along with Tesco, the companies that made the biggest negative contributions in the quarter were BASF and Daimler.Bonds returned 0.9 per cent in the third quarter while the fund’s nascent property investments had a return of 1.5 per cent.Mr Slyngstad told the Financial Times he was particularly concerned about Europe and what he termed as the trio of challenges it is facing: geopolitical issues in Ukraine and the Middle East, a weak macroeconomic outlook, and over monetary policy.Asked whether he expected more “unconventional measures” from central banks such as bond-buying or quantitative easing, Mr Slyngstad replied: “It’s fair to say that we may assume that central bankers are more patient than market participants.“We have potentially a change in monetary policy in the US. But if you see the euro area and Japan it’s not a global phenomenon.”The oil fund’s biggest equity holdings as of the end of September were Nestlé, Royal Dutch Shell, Novartis, Apple and Roche.The fund is stepping up its engagement with companies as it seeks to become a more active investor. It already has a presence on two nomination committees – groups of shareholders that decide on the choice of directors for the vote at annual meetings – at truckmaker Volvo and paper company SCA.In addition, the fund has stepped up its contact not just with companies’ management but also with chairmen where it has concerns. On Wednesday it said: “We had meetings with a number of chairmen in the pharmaceutical sector in the third quarter.”Mr Slyngstad said this was because the fund did not yet have any specialist fund managers covering pharmaceutical companies and was not a sign of concern in the sector.The oil fund held 61.4 per cent of its assets at the end of September in equities, 37.3 per cent in bonds and 1.3 per cent in property. It has been on a spending spree in property recently, snapping up assets in the US and Europe as it chases its target of allocating 5 per cent in real estate.
  • The Moral Blindness of Our Leading Liberals
    The Moral Blindness of Our Leading Liberals By  CHRIS FLOYD "Counter Punch" Behold the quintessential earnest progressive liberal in the highest moral dudgeon: Digby railing with thunderous fury at the possibility (the very distinct possibility) that Barack Obama is going to suppress the Senate’s report on CIA torture. Digby quotes the recent letter from some of Obama’s fellow Nobel Peace Prize laureates, who are calling on Obama to release the report (and close the concentration camp at Guantanamo Bay, for good measure.) Worthy sentiments and justifiable anger indeed. But then Digby adds this gloss:“Honestly, if they deep six the report (or redact it so heavily that it’s meaningless) I think President Obama has no choice but to give back his prize. There’s [sic] a lot of actions he’s taken as president that people could claim disqualify him for the prize anyway. Arguments about the dirty wars and targeted assassination programs alone will go on for generations. But one can, at least, say they represent some form of modern warfare and that the President of a military Empire is always going to be required to deal in such ugly matters. (That, in fact, s one reason why it was ludicrous to give him the prize in the first place — he runs the most powerful killing machine on the planet.)But however you see his performance as Commander in Chief, There can be no debate about torture. It’s a war crime. It should be prosecuted. But even if they cannot do that, covering it up is to be complicit.”Old cynic that I am, I must admit that even my grizzled jaw dropped as I read these words. “Arguments about the dirty wars and targeted assassination programs alone will go on for generations.” This, again, is from one of our leading liberal lights. She thinks dirty wars — secret incursions into other nations to murder, subvert, wreak havoc, terrorize — are open to debate. She thinks that “targeted assassination programs” — one of which is run directly out of the White House, with regular weekly meetings where Obama and his advisors tick off names of human beings to be killed without warning, without the slightest pretense of judicial process or rule of law — will be argued about for generations. The morality of death squads and dirty wars is something about which serious, concerned citizens can disagree and debate, apparently.Running a death squad — which, among many others, kills American citizens without due process, then, just for the hell of it, murders their children: this doesn’t put a person beyond the pale of acceptable human behavior. Not at all. It’s something we can argue about, sure; but not only is it within the parameters of acceptable behavior, it does not even disqualify you from enthusiastic political support, not even from earnest, peace-loving antiwar liberals like Digby, who fought tooth and nail to keep Obama running his death squads and dirty wars in 2012. (And if he could run for a third term there is no doubt — none whatsoever — that he would have fierce backing of the earnest, peace-loving antiwar liberals like Digby.)But my poor jaw had not yet done descending. For Digby, astonishingly, goes on to offer one of those arguments for state murder and the Nuremberg-level war crime of carrying out “dirty wars” on the sovereign territory of other nations: “One can, at least, say they represent some form of modern warfare and that the President of a military Empire is always going to be required to deal in such ugly matters.”Now, I’m sure we are all to understand that Digby herself wouldn’t make that argument. But she does see its point. She thinks it’s something that can be debated. She might not like it, she might even oppose it (while of course never opposing the continuation of its perpetrator in power). But from the gritty, savvy realpolitik perspective that our earnest progressive liberals are always so keen to show they understand and appreciate, you can certainly make that argument and remain within the bounds of respectable debate in Digby’s eyes.Isn’t this a wonderment? A progressive, peace-loving liberalism that can accept a president actually checking off names on a death list, like Stalin in the Politburo — that can accept “dirty wars” that have slaughtered thousands of innocent civilians and destabilized whole regions, breeding more violence and terror. And although Digby has criticized such actions, it is obvious that none of them have put Obama beyond the moral pale for her. He’s still within the bounds of acceptable realpolitik. (“Hey, the guy has to run a military Empire. What’s he supposed to do?”). He is still — if only just — on “our” side.Wholesale murder, wanton destruction, untold — and unnecessary — anguish and grief and suffering and turmoil: these things can be borne, if reluctantly, by our liberal progressive peace-lovers. But torture — that, apparently, is the one thing that is beyond the pale. And in this particular case, it is not even torture being carried out by the Obama administration. (There is torture still going on, of course, but it’s not at issue in the Senate report on past CIA actions which has so fixated our progressive liberals.) No, just the mere act of covering up a report on past torture is, for Digby, a step too far at last. Killing, mayhem, subversion — well OK, if you have to; but torture — why, that’s “a war crime”! There can be absolutely “no debate about torture.”But here the obvious question arises: why not? If you can swallow all the rest and still support the perpetrator, why draw the line at torture? If, by Digby’s own logic, you can “at least” make the argument that dirty wars and death squads “represent some form of modern warfare” — then why not torture? Why not lump it in with those other “forms of modern warfare”? “Hey, we do lots of things now that used to be considered war crimes — because we now face new dangers in our modern warfare. We have to kill people without due process, we have wage dirty wars — and every now and then, we have to get rough with a prisoner. If you can support a president who murders and subverts, why not support him when he tortures, or covers up for torturers?”What is that makes torture worse than actually murdering innocent people? Why is torture an undebatable war crime, but blowing up children sleeping in their homes in some Pakistani village is something that can be “argued about” — indeed, such an open moral question that the debate will go on “for generations”?The truth, of course, is that murder and dirty war are even worse than torture. But all of them partake of a radical evil that should put any perpetrator beyond the pale, making the person a war criminal who indeed “should be prosecuted.” But if our earnest progressive liberals took off their blinders and acknowledged this truth — then what? They would have to admit that they have been supporting — with however much showy reluctance and “savvy” constructive criticism — the perpetrator of monstrous war crimes.So they focus on what is, relatively speaking, the lesser evil. Probably because most of them believe that Obama really has abolished torture in our far-flung gulags and bases and “secret facilities,” rather than just entrenching it and codifying it with new manuals and different jargon. So in the end, Obama is not really that evil, is he? Since they cannot accept the full moral import of the death squads and dirty wars, they expend their righteous fury on the safer and more limited ground of torture. Or again, in this case, on “complicity” with torture, by covering up a report on the crimes committed years ago by the real bad guys, from the other side of the partisan divide: the Bush gang.But let’s say that Obama does quash or whitewash the report, confirming his “complicity” in torture. What then? What condign punishment does our morally furious liberal progressive envision for him in that case? Impeachment? Prosecution? Imprisonment? No. If Obama does this really, really bad thing — which is so much worse than murdering people and waging dirty war — then Digby believes he should … he should … give his Nobel Peace Prize back.That’s it. Pretty rough, huh? That would really teach him a lesson, if he had to do that!But even if Digby’s worst fears come to pass, is there anyone who believes that she would then disown the president, break with him, denounce him publicly as a war criminal? Of course not. She, and the other earnest progressive liberals, will continue to support him — with loving chastisement and sad shakes of the head, to be sure — but they’ve got his back.And we will see them on the hustings for Hilary Clinton when the time comes for her to perpetrate these same moral outrages, these same war crimes. Their partisan tribalism blinds them to the fullness of the reality that confronts us. (And I know how that works; I suffered from the same tribal blindness for many, many years.) They cannot genuinely and effectively oppose the monstrous system of military Empire because, in the end, what is most important to them is not stopping the system — but making sure that one of “theirs” is running it.Chris Floyd is a columnist for CounterPunch Magazine. His blog, Empire Burlesque, can be found at www.chris-floyd.com.
  • 100,000+ rally in Hungary over internet tax despite govt concessions (PHOTO, VIDEO)
    100,000+ rally in Hungary over internet tax despite govt concessions (PHOTO, VIDEO) By Rt Tens of thousands of protesters rallied in Hungary despite the government's amendment of a controversial internet tax bill. The demonstrators say the country is turning anti-democratic and drifting away from the EU.The protest against the policies of Prime Minister Viktor Orban reignited on Tuesday night, as an estimated 100,000 people took to the streets, reports Reuters. The demonstration follows similar action on the weekend, at which protesters demanded that legislation imposing a tax on internet traffic be withdrawn within 48 hours. Instead, the government introduced an amendment on Monday that caps the proposed tax at 700 forints ($3) per month for individuals and 5,000 forints ($21) for companies. This wasn’t enough for the protesters, who accuse the government of authoritarian trends.Since taking power in 2010, Orban's center-right government has imposed taxes on the banking, retail, energy and telecommunications sector. The measures are designed to keep the budget deficit in check, but have hurt some foreign investors' profits. People hold up their mobile phones as they protest against a new tax on Internet data transfers in the centre of Budapest, October 28, 2014. (Reuters/Laszlo Balogh)The PM's Fidesz party scored a landslide victory in this month's municipal elections, while left-wing parties performed poorly, failing to produce a joint candidate to spearhead their campaign.The people behind the protests, however, are evidently not among Orban's supporters, as they were demanding his ouster during the latest rally. The crowd organized by a Facebook-based social network, which appeared to be composed of well-heeled professionals, marched through central Budapest carrying slogans like “How many times do you want to skin us?""I am a student, my parents are not well off, neither am I, so I work hard," Ildiko Pirk, a 22-year-old studying nursing, told Reuters. "I doubt the internet companies will build this tax into their prices. And I have a computer, a smartphone, as does my mother and my four siblings... That adds up." She said the internet was vital for her to read unbiased news not under the control of Hungary's ruling political elite. The rallying cry that taxing the internet taz was anti-democratic was strong among many protesters.The Hungarian government denies accusations of authoritarianism. It insists the new tax compensates for the loss of taxes in other sectors of telecommunications, such as already-taxed telephony and text messages, as people switch to internet-based services.The mistrust towards the government was fueled recently by the US, which imposed travel bans against a handful of Hungarian individuals. Washington has “credible information that those individuals are either engaging in or benefiting from corruption,” the US Embassy in Budapest said in a statement.The Hungarian government was apparently taken by surprise with the move and requested the US to provide evidence of the alleged wrongdoing. Tens of thousands of Hungarians march across the Elisabeth Bridge during a protest against new tax on Internet data transfers in centre of Budapest, October 28, 2014. (Reuters/Laszlo Balogh)Another accusation against Orban's government is that his policies are drawing Hungary further away from other European Union members. This is true in so far as Hungary is a vocal opponent of sanctions against Russia, currently a key EU policy. The prime minister criticized the sanctions, saying they hurt Europeans more than they hurt Moscow, and pledged to lobby for their abolition.The sanctions were imposed over Russia's position in the Ukrainian crisis, which started almost exactly a year ago with street protests not unlike those unfolding in Budapest now. In November 2013, Ukrainians took to the streets after the Ukrainian government postponed an integration deal with the EU.The Kiev protests lasted months, escalated into street battles, an eventual ousting of the government in an armed coup and a civil war in the east of the country. These events were cheered by the US and the EU, but harshly criticized by Moscow, which viewed the events in Ukraine as foreign-orchestrated regime change.
  • Russia ready to deliver US supplies to ISS after Antares rocket explodes
    Russia ready to deliver US supplies to ISS after Antares rocket explodes By RT Russia is prepared to ferry US supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) on its Progress spacecraft to compensate for the loss of the Antares rocket. The private US space freighter suffered a failure seconds after launch.READ MORE: ISS-bound rocket explodes on takeoff from NASA facility in Virginia (PHOTOS, VIDEO)“So far NASA has not asked us, but we have a gentleman’s agreement to help each other should a need arise such as after the loss of a supply ship or another emergency,” Aleksey Krasnov, the head of Roscosmos’ manned spaceflight department, told Ria Novosti.“In such cases we always put our partners on a priority list and they do the same thing for us. If a request comes for an emergency delivery of any cargo to the ISS with our cargo ship, we will do it,” he assured The Antares unmanned spacecraft crashed after a self-destruct signal was sent to it due to a catastrophic anomaly the rocket experienced 10 to 12 seconds after ignition. The $200 million craft was lost along with its payload, which included 2,200 kg of cargo meant for the International Space Station. NASA assured that the crash would not endanger astronauts on board the station, since they have enough critical supplies to last until March next year. The US is to launch another supply rocket, a SpaceX Dragon, on December 9.The loss of Antares and the cargo from the Cygnus cargo spacecraft it was supposed to boost into orbit will have little impact on the actual work on the International Space Station, said Sergey Krikalyov, head of the Central Research Institute of Machine Building, a leading Russian rocket developer, as cited by TASS“Apparently, there will be some rescheduling and some of the [lost scientific] equipment will have to be delivered again on the next freighter,” he said. “It doesn't mean that some experiments will not be conducted at all – they will simply be postponed.”A Russian Progress spacecraft with supplies for the ISS was successfully launched with a Soyuz rocket on Wednesday. The Russian launch was a maiden freighter launch for the newest incarnation of the rocket, the Soyuz 2.1a. This variant will have three more test launches with supply cargoes before the rocket is cleared to boost off a manned Soyuz spacecraft.Krikalyov said it was not really important whether an American or a Russian freighter would do the actual delivery.“If something is needed sooner, the Russian spacecraft can deliver it. If a later delivery is OK – the Americans will do it.”