Timeline merchants of death

From Gender and Tech Resources

This page contains links gathered and shared by anonymii over four years (crowdsourced as it were) on "things": told and leaked stories and whistle spit. People and communities use stories to understand the world and our place in it. These stories are embedded with power - the power to explain and justify the status quo as well as the power to make change imaginable and urgent. A narrative analysis of power encourages us to ask: Which stories define cultural norms? Where did these stories come from? Whose stories were ignored or erased to create these norms? And, most urgently, what new stories can we tell to help create the world we desire?

This timeline serves awareness of the power of storytelling, retrospective exercises (connecting dots), further research and investigation, propaganda exercises (detecting and shredding fallacious arguments), threat modeling ("quick and dirty" requires foundation), finding moves aiding survival of the greatest scope of life to a greater degree than any associated destruction, and other weird stuff like that, so if you add a story, we love it!

Except that it isn't a game


Merchants of Death

September 4, 1934 "Merchants of Death": On a hot Tuesday morning following Labor Day in 1934, several hundred people crowded into the Caucus Room of the Senate Office Building to witness the opening of an investigation that journalists were already calling "historic." Although World War I had been over for 16 years, the inquiry promised to reopen an intense debate about whether the nation should ever have gotten involved in that costly conflict. To lead the seven-member special committee, the Senate’s Democratic majority chose a Republican—42-year-old North Dakota Senator Gerald P. Nye. Typical of western agrarian progressives, Nye energetically opposed U.S. involvement in foreign wars. He promised, "when the Senate investigation is over, we shall see that war and preparation for war is not a matter of national honor and national defense, but a matter of profit for the few. [1]


National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) was a 58-paged top secret policy paper issued by the United States National Security Council on April 14, 1950, during the presidency of Harry S. Truman. NSC-68 largely shaped U.S. foreign policy in the Cold War for the next 20 years. It rejected the alternative policies of friendly Détente or aggressive Rollback.

How could a good and decent people engage in the most barbaric acts ever committed in the history of man? Part of the answer lies in the indoctrination of our youth, and part of it lies in the lies and misdirection of our leadership, easily swallowed by an already conditioned population. This post considers the intentional program of lies. [2]

EconoSpeak, The Annals of the economically incorrect [3] adds, "Well, Mr. Keyserling," I asked myself, "what do you think of Mr. Keyserling's idea?"

"Brilliant!" I replied humbly, "I couldn't agree more with my excellent analysis. By the way, that's a very handsome tie you're wearing there, Leon."

Who will claim common heritage?

It is 1978 and corporate interests endanger international agreement on deep seabed minerals: Resting undisturbed on the ocean floor, potato-size mineral nodules, "ferro manganese concretions" to the scientists, have become the subject of a unique attempt at international economic cooperation. In 1970, the UN General Assembly passed a resolution declaring all underwater resources, to be the common heritage of mankind. In 1973, the UN Law of the Sea Conference took up the task of establishing an international regime for the exploitation of deep seabed minerals.

But most of the Conference's sessions to date have exhibited a tension common to international negotiations:. the developed countries are protective of their advanced technology and capital resources while the underdeveloped countries are suspicious of the aims and motives of the industrialized states that are alone capable of deep seabed mineral extraction. Watching the proceedings carefully - and not without a hand in the intrigue that has marked the deliberations - are several multinational corporations, members of international consortia ready to begin mining operations beneath the sea.[4]

It's the oil, stupid!


Oil and the outcome of the iran-iraq war

An article with excerpts from a report by Thomas McNaugher and William Quandt of the Brookings Institution, published on May 14, 1984 by Cambridge Energy Research Associates. These excerpts appeared in Arab Oil and Gas (Paris), June 1, 1984: The Iran-Iraq war is reaching a critical phase. As a result, there is more of a chance today than ever before that a major change in the war is at hand. This could have both major consequences for the flow of oil in the near term, and broader implications for power and influence in the region over the longer term. Although we are not yet convinced that the Iran-Iraq war threatens a major disruption in the flow of oil, the odds are beginning to change in the direction of greater danger for Western interests -- meaning that the threat to the world oil market could become larger in this new phase. But the gravest threat could come not during the war itself but from the outcome of the war.

Mentioned are three scenarios: Scenario One: Balance of Power; Scenario Two: Iranian Hegemony; Scenario Three: Continuing Attrition and Oil Disruption. [5]

Occidental petroleum and the U'wa

An ongoing story since 1990: Occidental Petroleum, a U.S. based petroleum company, has had its sights set on the 1.5 billion oil barrels that lie beneath the ground in the Samoré Block (the name for the entire cloudforest region within which the U’wa territory lies) since the early 1990s. The oil company’s history is linked to human rights violations and environmental destruction. Occidental (or “Oxy” as it is commonly referred to) was the parent company of Hooker Chemical, which is the company responsible for the “Love Canal” disaster of the 1940s and 1950s. [...] More recently, Oxy has set up an oil pipeline north of U’wa territory in the Arauca region, which has been responsible for the displacement of many native people and rendered the water in the region too polluted for human consumption. [6]

Oil and the gulf war

In a 1991 article in the Middle East Research and Information Project: The arrangements that will follow the US defeat of Iraq will likely produce a kind of joint “oil dominion” between major consumer countries and a core of oil exporters which will override the interests of the poorer oil importers and exporters alike. At the center of this new alignment will no longer be the “seven sisters” -- the major private companies that dominated the industry before the 1970s -- but what South magazine has dubbed the “four stepsisters” -- Saudi Aramco, PDV, and Exxon and Shell, the two largest private firms. But OPEC will have to confront some serious conflicts within its ranks which may well split the organization. Producers like Saudi Arabia, Iran and Venezuela are investing huge amounts of capital to expand their production capacity: Will they be ready to scale back their market share once Iraq and Kuwait resume production? The new world order of oil could bring unprecedented producer-consumer cooperation for the privileged states and companies, and increasingly harder times for the rest. [7]

Defending oil supplies

In 1998, in Fueling Global Warming: Federal Subsidies to Oil in the United States: The United States needs oil. Despite some progress on alternatives, oil continues to fuel our transportation fleet and our military. However, much of the nation’s oil is transported through fairly precarious means. Approximately, 25 percent of our domestic crude flows through the Trans-Alaska Pipeline System, and about 45 percent of our total petroleum consumption is transported through a limited number of oil tanker channels.

These delivery systems are vulnerable to disruption. Markets react in three primary ways to vulnerable supplies. First, they demand a higher price to reflect the higher risks. Second, they invest in approaches to make the supply less risky. This includes diversification of suppliers, the development of new supplies, the establishment of stockpiles to cover demand if supply is interrupted, and the attempt to reduce the likelihood of supply disruptions. Third, markets develop substitute materials and ways to use the limited supplies more efficiently.

In the oil industry, corporations have invested in diversifying their supply base across countries. However, it has been the United States government, rather than private firms, that has developed the largest stockpiles (such as the Strategic Petroleum Reserve, described later in this chapter) and spent billions of dollars in defense costs to reduce the likelihood of supply interruptions and price shocks. Because the government has borne these costs of securing supply, they are not reflected in the current price of oil. Thus, producers and consumers lack important price signals that would encourage investment in substitutes. The government’s costs act as a subsidy to oil. We estimate the costs of defending oil shipments and stockpiling reserves for our base year, 1995. This estimate has two elements: defending oil shipments from the Persian Gulf and the costs of building and maintaining the Strategic Petroleum Reserve. We also qualitatively discuss oil-related military activities within Alaska. In order for markets to make well-informed decisions between energy types, these costs should be reflected in the price we pay for oil. [8]

It's not just the oil, stupid!

In the mid 1990’s economists Jeffrey Sachs and Andrew Warner noticed a funny thing. One would think that countries that were well endowed with oil, gas and mineral wealth would be correspondingly economically well off – but in fact just the reverse seemed to be true. Some peeps have dubbed it “The Resource Curse” alias “Paradox of Plenty”: countries and regions with an abundance of natural resources, specifically point-source non-renewable resources like minerals and fuels, tend to have less economic growth and worse development outcomes than countries with fewer natural resources. This is hypothesized to happen for many different reasons.

Natural resource abundance and economic growth

In November, 1997, in Natural resource abundance and economic growth: One of the surprising features of modern economic growth is that economies abundant in natural resources have tended to grow slower than economies without substantial natural resources. In this paper we show that economies with a high ratio of natural resource exports to GDP in 1970 (the base year) tended to grow slowly during the subsequent 20-year period 1970-1990. This negative relationship holds true even after controlling for many variables found to be important for economic growth by previous authors. We discuss several theories and present additional evidence to understand the source of this negative association. [9]

In an oxfam report from 2001, Extractive sectors and the poor: With this increase in the environmental and social impact of resource extraction, economists and activists in both the North and South are challenging economic models that base development on the extraction of non-renewable natural resources. They point to the fact that many countries in the developing world possess tremendous oil and mineral wealth yet continue to suffer from crushing poverty. For a variety of reasons, these countries simply have not converted their resource wealth into real improvements in the lives of the majority of their citizens.

Despite these failures and the challenges made to the “extractive paradigm,” national governments and international financial institutions such as the World Bank continue to promote these industries "for poverty reduction purposes". [10]

The bush/cheney energy strategy

The Bush/Cheney energy strategy: Implications for US foreign and military policy: As the NEPDG began its review of U.S. energy policy, it quickly became apparent that the United States faced a critical choice between two widely diverging energy paths: it could continue down the road it had long been traveling, consuming ever-increasing amounts of petroleum and – given the irreversible decline in domestic oil production – becoming ever more dependent on imported supplies; or it could choose an alternative route, entailing vastly increased reliance on renewable sources of energy and a gradual reduction in petroleum use. Clearly, the outcome of this decision would have profound consequences for American society, the economy, and the nation’s security. A decision to continue down the existing path of rising petroleum consumption would bind the United States ever more tightly to the Persian Gulf suppliers and to other oil-producing countries, with a corresponding impact on American security policy; a decision to pursue an alternative strategy would require a huge investment in new energy-generation and transportation technologies, resulting in the rise or fall of entire industries. Either way, Americans would experience the impact of this choice in their everyday life and in the dynamics of the economy as a whole; no one, in the United States or elsewhere, would be left entirely untouched by the decision on which energy path to follow.

By the beginning of 2003, the White House had succeeded in incorporating many of its basic strategic objectives into formal military doctrine. These objectives stress the steady enhancement of America’s capacity to project military power into areas of turmoil – that is, to strengthen precisely those capabilities that would be used to protect or gain access to overseas sources of petroleum. Whether this was the product of a conscious linkage between energy and security policy is not something that can be ascertained at this time; what is undeniable is that President Bush has given top priority to the enhancement of America’s power projection capabilities while at the same time endorsing an energy strategy that entails increased U.S. dependence on oil derived from areas of recurring crisis and conflict.

What we have, therefore, is a two-pronged strategy that effectively governs U.S. policy toward much of the world. One arm of this strategy is aimed at securing more oil from the rest of the world; the other is aimed at enhancing America’s capacity to intervene in exactly such locales. And while these two objectives have arisen from different sets of concerns, one energy-driven and the other security-driven, they have merged into a single, integrated design for American world dominance in the 21st Century. And it is this combination of strategies, more than anything else, that will govern America’s international behavior in the decades ahead. [11]

US backyard terrorism

Guardian, october 2001: "If any government sponsors the outlaws and killers of innocents," George Bush announced on the day he began bombing Afghanistan, "they have become outlaws and murderers themselves. And they will take that lonely path at their own peril." I'm glad he said "any government", as there's one which, though it has yet to be identified as a sponsor of terrorism, requires his urgent attention.

For the past 55 years it has been running a terrorist training camp, whose victims massively outnumber the people killed by the attack on New York, the embassy bombings and the other atrocities laid, rightly or wrongly, at al-Qaida's door. The camp is called the Western Hemisphere Institute for Security Cooperation, or Whisc. It is based in Fort Benning, Georgia, and it is funded by Mr Bush's government. [12]

The algebra of infinite justice

29 September 2001 the Guardian: In the aftermath of the unconscionable September 11 suicide attacks on the Pentagon and the World Trade Centre, an American newscaster said: "Good and evil rarely manifest themselves as clearly as they did last Tuesday. People who we don't know massacred people who we do. And they did so with contemptuous glee." Then he broke down and wept. Here's the rub: America is at war against people it doesn't know, because they don't appear much on TV. Before it has properly identified or even begun to comprehend the nature of its enemy, the US government has, in a rush of publicity and embarrassing rhetoric, cobbled together an "international coalition against terror", mobilised its army, its air force, its navy and its media, and committed them to battle.

The trouble is that once Amer ica goes off to war, it can't very well return without having fought one. If it doesn't find its enemy, for the sake of the enraged folks back home, it will have to manufacture one. Once war begins, it will develop a momentum, a logic and a justification of its own, and we'll lose sight of why it's being fought in the first place. [13]

War is golden

February 2003, How Bush Cronies Profit from War Machine: The London case involves our old friends, BCCI, the international bank that served as the front for a global crime ring involving top officials and Establishment worthies in dozens of “civilized” nations. BCCI ran guns to Saddam and other heavies, funded Pakistan’s illegal nuclear weapons program, laundered drug profits, peddled prostitutes, doled out bribes, served as a conduit for covert CIA operations–and, through its connections to the bin Laden family, gave George W. Bush a sweetheart loan of $25 million to bail out one of his many business failures.

One of the respectable organizations tainted by the ring was the Bank of England, which was the financial regulator for BCCI when the front finally collapsed in 1991–leaving its legitimate creditors some $11 billion in the hole. Not surprisingly, some of these victims filed suit against ye olde B of E, claiming that its oversight of BCCI left something to be desired. But successive British governments–including the plagiaristic poodle-led pack currently in power–have fought for years to quash the lawsuit, the Observer reports.

That’s because the trial could open a can of particularly grubby worms concerning the UK government’s extensive canoodling with BCCI.[14]

What’s behind the killing in central africa?

June 17, 2003, counterpunch: Ignoring the World's Bloodiest War What's Behind the Killing in Central Africa? When the mainstream press pays any attention to the Congo–or African wars in general–they invariably characterize the conflicts as "ethnic" or "tribal" wars, rooted in age-old hatreds. This explanation is not only false, but racist.

It provides cover for the argument that "we"–invariably some mix of Western nations, perhaps with UN cover–must intervene to stop this irrational ethnic murder. This argument is a repackaged version of the same racist excuses given for European powers’ conquest and colonization of Africa in the late 19th century–that is, to "civilize" the continent. Any prospect of resolving the Congo war requires a much different framework–one that doesn’t look to the architects of the crisis to solve it. [15]

September 2003, The Guardian:

Macmillan backed Syria assassination plot

Documents show White House and No 10 conspired over oil-fuelled invasion plan: [16] Nearly 50 years before the war in Iraq, Britain and America sought a secretive "regime change" in another Arab country they accused of spreading terror and threatening the west's oil supplies, by planning the invasion of Syria and the assassination of leading figures.

Newly discovered documents show how in 1957 Harold Macmillan and President Dwight Eisenhower approved a CIA-MI6 plan to stage fake border incidents as an excuse for an invasion by Syria's pro-western neighbours, and then to "eliminate" the most influential triumvirate in Damascus. The plans, frighteningly frank in their discussion, were discovered in the private papers of Duncan Sandys, Mr Macmillan's defence secretary, by Matthew Jones, a reader in international history at Royal Holloway, University of London.

US military's growing role in africa

October 2004, The United States is stepping up its military activity in Africa in an effort to combat terrorism and protect vital oil reserves off Africa's west coast.

The U.S. military has been leery of the continent ever since the debacle a decade ago in Somalia, when 18 American peacekeepers were killed in Mogadishu. Officials say they are now trying to train African armies to keep the peace and promote stability on the continent so U.S. troops won't have to. [17]

The CIA's ghost detainees

October 2004, Human Rights Watch reports on The United States’ "Disappeared", the CIA’s Long-Term "Ghost Detainees": The prisoner was taken away in the middle of the night nineteen months ago. He was hooded and brought to an undisclosed location where he has not been heard of since. Interrogators reportedly used graduated levels of force on the prisoner, including the "water boarding" technique – known in Latin America as the "submarino" – in which the detainee is strapped down, forcibly pushed under water, and made to believe he might drown. His seven- and nine-year-old sons were also picked up, presumably to induce him to talk.

These tactics are all too common to oppressive dictatorships. The interrogators were not from a dictatorship, however, but from the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The U.S.’s prisoner is Khalid Shaikh Muhammad, the alleged principal architect of the September 11 attacks. Muhammad is one of the dozen or so top al-Qaeda operatives who have simply "disappeared" in U.S. custody.

In the aftermath of the September 11, 2001 attacks on the United States, the Bush administration has violated the most basic legal norms in its treatment of security detainees. Many have been held in offshore prisons, the most well known of which is at Guantánamo Bay, Cuba. As we now know, prisoners suspected of terrorism, and many against whom no evidence exists, have been mistreated, humiliated, and tortured. But perhaps no practice so fundamentally challenges the foundations of U.S. and international law as the long-term secret incommunicado detention of al-Qaeda suspects in "undisclosed locations." [18]

It's economic warfare!

Confessions of an economic hitman

November 2004: Democracy Now speaks with John Perkins, a former respected member of the international banking community. In his book Confessions of an Economic Hit Man he describes how as a highly paid professional, he helped the U.S. cheat poor countries around the globe out of trillions of dollars by lending them more money than they could possibly repay and then take over their economies. [19]

Peak oil within 20 years?

February 2005, Peaking of world oil production: Impacts, mitigation & risk management report: "Waiting until world conventional oil production peaks before implementing crash program mitigation leaves the world with a significant liquid fuel deficit for two decades or longer," according to a report prepared for the Department of Energy's National Energy Technology Laboratory (NETL) by Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC).

The report contains analyses of three alternative mitigation scenarios. [20]

Drilling into debt

In Drilling into Debt: An Investigation into the Relationship Between Debt and Oil of July 2005: Countries that produce oil tend to be poorer and less productive economically than they should be, given their supposed blessings. This has been well documented over the last decade. Further research has confirmed that oil export-dependent states tend to suffer from unusually high rates of corruption, authoritarian government, government ineffectiveness, military spending, and civil war.

Coupling these previous efforts with our key findings we see a disturbing picture of a global oil economy that primarily serves the interests of Northern consumers, creditors, and governments, while running counter to the interests of poverty alleviation, development, and a stable climate in the rest of the world. [21]

The rip-off of iraq’s oil wealth

Control of Iraq’s future oil wealth is being handed to multinational oil companies through long-term contracts that will cost Iraq hundreds of billions of dollars. ‘Crude Designs: The Rip-Off of Iraq’s Oil Wealth’ reveals that current Iraqi oil policy will allocate the development of at least 64% of Iraq’s reserves to foreign oil companies. Iraq has the world’s third largest oil reserves. [22]

Afghanistan the myth of reconstruction

Afghan-American journalist Fariba Nawa reveals how Western multinationals, security contractors and warlords have made a fortune out of aid contracts. [23]

Pipeline explosion in nigeria

Democracy Now, December 26, 2006: As Hundreds Die in an Oil Pipeline Explosion in Lagos, A Look At the Fight Over Nigeria’s Natural Resources: In Nigeria up to 500 people have died after an oil pipeline exploded earlier this morning in the country’s commercial capital of Lagos. It is feared the final death toll could be much higher. The explosion comes at a time when tension has been rising - especially in the Niger Delta - over who controls the region’s vast natural resources. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and the United States' 5th largest oil supplier. [24]

A profile of the missile defense and space weapons lobbies

Report by the World Policy Institute’s Arms Trade Resource Center on the economic and political factors influencing United States policies on nuclear weapons, missile defense, and space weapons. [25]

Pipeline explosion in nigeria

Democracy Now, December 26, 2006: As Hundreds Die in an Oil Pipeline Explosion in Lagos, A Look At the Fight Over Nigeria’s Natural Resources: In Nigeria up to 500 people have died after an oil pipeline exploded earlier this morning in the country’s commercial capital of Lagos. It is feared the final death toll could be much higher. The explosion comes at a time when tension has been rising - especially in the Niger Delta - over who controls the region’s vast natural resources. Nigeria is Africa’s largest oil producer and the United States' 5th largest oil supplier. [24]

The big sell-out

2007, The big sellout, documentary: In various episodes the abstract phenomenon of privatisation is depicted in stories about very concrete human destinies around the globe. The documentary tells tragic, tragicomic but also encouraging stories of the everyday life of people, who day by day have to deal with the effects of privatisation politics, dictated by anonymous international financial institutions in Washington D.C. and Geneva, such as the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank and the World Trade Organisation (WTO). [26]

Inquiry into CIA torture tapes destruction

December 9, 2007, The Justice Department and the CIA's Office of the Inspector General said Saturday that they had launched a joint inquiry into the CIA's controversial destruction of videotaped interrogations of two Al Qaeda suspects. The preliminary inquiry would be a first step in determining whether a full investigation and potential criminal charges were warranted.

The probe had been under discussion since shortly after CIA Director Michael V. Hayden disclosed Thursday that CIA officials had made the videotapes in 2002 and destroyed them three years later. The Justice Department has asked for an initial meeting with the CIA's legal staff and inspector general, John L. Helgerson, early this week.

"I welcome this inquiry, and the CIA will cooperate fully," Hayden said Saturday in a statement. "I welcome it as an opportunity to address questions that have arisen over the destruction back in 2005 of videotapes." [27]

War profiteers

The Iraq war is many things to different people. It is called a strategic blunder and a monstrous injustice and sometimes even a patriotic mission, much to the chagrin of rational human beings. For many big companies, however, the war is something far different: a lucrative cash-cow. The years-long, ongoing military effort has resurrected fears of the so-called “military-industrial complex.” Media pundits are outraged at private companies scooping up huge, no-questions-asked contracts to manufacture weapons, rebuild infrastructure, or anything else the government deems necessary to win (or plant its flag in Iraq). No matter what your stance on the war, it pays to know where your tax dollars are being spent. This is a detailed rundown of the 25 companies squeezing the most profit from this controversial conflict. [28]

It's also the water!

For love of water

2008, for Love of Water: [29] Salina builds a case against the growing privatization of the world’s dwindling fresh water supply with an unflinching focus on politics, pollution, human rights, and the emergence of a domineering world water cartel. Interviews with scientists and activists reveal the rapidly building crisis, at both the global and human scale, and the film introduces many of the governmental and corporate culprits behind the water grab, while begging the question "Can anyone really own the water?"

Beyond identifying the problem, FLOW also gives viewers a look at the people and institutions providing practical solutions to the water crisis and those developing new technologies, which are fast becoming blueprints for a successful global and economic turnaround.

Blue gold: world water wars

2008, documentary: Wars of the future will be fought over water as they are over oil today, as the source of human survival enters the global marketplace and political arena. Corporate giants, private investors, and corrupt governments vie for control of our dwindling supply, prompting protests, lawsuits, and revolutions from citizens fighting for the right to survive. Past civilizations have collapsed from poor water management. Can the human race survive? [30]


20 reasons why geoengineering may be a bad idea

2008: Carbon dioxide emissions are rising so fast that some scientists are seriously considering putting Earth on life support as a last resort. But is this cure worse than the disease? The idea of geoengineering traces its genesis to military strategy during the early years of the Cold War, when scientists in the United States and the Soviet Union devoted considerable funds and research efforts to controlling the weather. Some early geoengineering theories involved damming the Strait of Gibraltar and the Bering Strait as a way to warm the Arctic, making Siberia more habitable. Since scientists became aware of rising concentrations of atmospheric carbon dioxide, however, some have proposed artificially altering climate and weather patterns to reverse or mask the effects of global warming. [...] Two strategies to reduce incoming solar radiation—stratospheric aerosol injection as proposed by Crutzen and space-based sun shields (i.e., mirrors or shades placed in orbit between the sun and Earth) - are among the most widely discussed geoengineering schemes in scientific circles. While these schemes (if they could be built) would cool Earth, they might also have adverse consequences. [31]

Geopiracy: The Case Against Geoengineering

2010: Realpolitik, we are advised, recognizes that the multilateral system can’t produce an equitable or effective agreement that will mitigate climate chaos: Recognizing this, concerned governments and scientists have no reasonable choice but to investigate technological strategies that could reduce or delay climate change, at least until social forces make a practical agreement possible. Also according to Realpolitik, there is no more hope of achieving a multilateral consensus on re-jigging the thermostat than there is of adopting effective targets for greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. Therefore, the issue is to create a narrative and construct a governance model that will allow a courageous, far-sighted, science-based "coalition of the willing" to justify their unilateral manipulation of the Earth’s systems. They call it geoengineering – we call it geopiracy. [32]

CIA destroyed 92 torture tapes

March 2009, NY Times: U.S. Says C.I.A. Destroyed 92 Tapes of Interrogations: The U.S. government on Monday revealed for the first time the extent of the destruction of videotapes in 2005 by the Central Intelligence Agency, saying that agency officers destroyed 92 videotapes documenting the harsh interrogations of two Qaeda suspects in C.I.A. detention. [33]

Fracking 101

Hydrofracking graphic .jpg

Hydraulic fracturing (aka fracking, which rhymes with cracking) stimulates wells drilled into these formations, making profitable otherwise prohibitively expensive extraction. Within the past decade, the combination of hydraulic fracturing with horizontal drilling has opened up shale deposits across the country and brought large-scale natural gas drilling to new regions.

The fracking process occurs after a well has been drilled and steel pipe (casing) has been inserted in the well bore. The casing is perforated within the target zones that contain oil or gas, so that when the fracturing fluid is injected into the well it flows through the perforations into the target zones. Eventually, the target formation will not be able to absorb the fluid as quickly as it is being injected. At this point, the pressure created causes the formation to crack or fracture. Once the fractures have been created, injection ceases and the fracturing fluids begin to flow back to the surface. Materials called proppants (e.g., usually sand or ceramic beads), which were injected as part of the frac fluid mixture, remain in the target formation to hold open the fractures.

Typically, a mixture of water, proppants and chemicals is pumped into the rock or coal formation. There are, however, other ways to fracture wells. Sometimes fractures are created by injecting gases such as propane or nitrogen, and sometimes acidizing occurs simultaneously with fracturing. Acidizing involves pumping acid (usually hydrochloric acid), into the formation to dissolve some of the rock material to clean out pores and enable gas and fluid to flows more readily into the well.

Some studies have shown that more than 90% of fracking fluids may remain underground. Used fracturing fluids that return to the surface are often referred to as flowback, and these wastes are typically stored in open pits or tanks at the well site prior to disposal. [34]

A rainforest chernobyl

In 1964, Texaco (now Chevron), discovered oil in the remote northern region of the Ecuadorian Amazon, known as the "Oriente." The indigenous inhabitants of this pristine rainforest, including the Cofán, Siona, Secoya, Kichwa and Huaorani, lived traditional lifestyles largely untouched by modern civilization. The forests and rivers provided the physical and cultural subsistence base for their daily survival. They had little idea what to expect or how to prepare when oil workers moved into their backyard and founded the town of Lago Agrio, named for Texaco's birthplace of Sour Lake, Texas. The Ecuadorian government had similarly little idea what to expect; no one had ever successfully drilled for oil in the Amazon rainforest before. The government entrusted Texaco, a well-known U.S. company with more than a half-century's worth of experience, with employing modern oil practices and technology in the country's emerging oil patch. However, despite existing environmental laws, Texaco made deliberate, cost-cutting operational decisions that, for 28 years, resulted in an environmental catastrophe that experts have dubbed the "Rainforest Chernobyl." [35]

Into eternity

In this documentary from 2009, the story of our nuclear waste is told. Every day, the world over, large amounts of high-level radioactive waste created by nuclear power plants is placed in interim storages, which are vulnerable to natural disasters, man-made disasters, and to societal changes. In Finland the world's first permanent repository is being hewn out of solid rock - a huge system of underground tunnels - that must last 100,000 years as this is how long the waste remains hazardous. [36]

Dirty secrets

Shell’s big dirty secret

June 2009, Shell’s Big Dirty Secret: Insight into the world’s most carbon intensive oil company and the legacy of CEO Jeroen van der Veer: This new research paper rates the carbon intensity of the top international oil companies, revealing that Shell is now the most carbon intensive oil company in the world based on its total resources.

Royal Dutch Shell plc, commonly known simply as Shell, is a multinational petroleum company. It is the second largest private sector energy corporation in the world. The company’s headquarters are in The Hague, Netherlands, and London, UK. Its largest subsidiary is in the United States. It is the largest oil operator in Nigeria, and holds more acreage in Canada’s oil sands than any other corporation. Because of these facts, and several others, Shell is also the most carbon intensive oil company in the world. In short, for every barrel of oil it produces in the future, Shell will contribute more to global warming than any other oil company.

This report documents Shell’s record investment in dirty forms of energy, and it illuminates the corporate strategy and lobbying for regulations that indicate it intends to profit from that position for a long time to come. [37]

Exxon secrets

ExxonSecrets is a Greenpeace research project that exposes the campaign Exxon has run for more than a decade to deny the urgency of the 'scientific consensus' on global warming and delay action to 'fix the problem'.

Let's make a note of the words "fix the problem" and "scientific consensus" to be investigated further (because the they send chills down my spine and smell awful), and to keep focus here on the attempts of Exxon to influence minds rewrite that sentence as: ExxonSecrets is a Greenpeace research project that exposes the campaign Exxon has run for more than a decade to deny the urgency of addressing global warming issues we humans, in particular people in western nations, seem to be causing. [38]

Conscious thought

2010, Conscious Thought Is for Facilitating Social and Cultural Interactions: How Mental Simulations Serve the Animal–Culture Interface: This article undertakes a positive approach to the purpose and function of conscious thought. We are prepared to concede the correctness of much (not all) of the negative evidence against it, but we think that is generally beside the point. If conscious thought is indeed useless, irrelevant, and even counterproductive for some tasks, then perhaps its adaptive value is to be found elsewhere. We look at it as an adaptation suited to the relatively sophisticated demands of the unique kinds of social life that humans develop, including culture. Many theories have assumed that conscious thought is for perceiving the environment and for directly controlling action, but the detractors have revealed its inadequacies for those functions. Instead, we suggest that it serves the vital interface between the animal body and the cultural system and that its powers are best appreciated in terms of simulating events away from the here and now. These simulations could include replaying past events (even counterfactually) to learn from them, imagining possible courses of future action and their potential consequences, and empathically intuiting the perspectives and mental states of interaction partners. [39]

Natural resources and conflict in africa

Paul Collier posted November 2009: Why has Africa had so much civil war? In all other regions of the world the incidence of civil war has been on a broadly declining trend over the past thirty years: but in Africa the long term trend has been upwards. Of course, every civil war has its ‘story’ – the personalities, the social cleavages, the triggering events, the inflammatory discourse, the atrocities. But is there anything more? Are there structural conditions – social, political or economic – which make a country prone to civil war? Might it be that the same inflammatory politician, playing on the same social cleavages, and with the same triggering events, might ‘cause’ war under one set of conditions and merely be an ugly irritant in another?

[...] Natural resources generate what economists term ‘rents’ – meaning profits that are much higher than the minimum level needed to keep the activity going. The trouble from natural resources stems from these rents. There are six routes by which natural resource rents increase the risk of violent conflict; four relate to political economy and two are straight economics. Let’s start with the political economy. The most obvious route is that natural resource rents are a ‘honey pot’. Politics comes to be about the contest for control of these revenues. This produces a politics of corruption – aided and abetted by foreign corporate behavior – and sometimes directly a politics of violence. [40]

Libya is "freed"

The tension was tangible through linguistic patterns in the IRC channels of the anonymous hives in 2011. An anonymous operation was starting up [41]. Photos and messages kept appearing on atrocities commited by Ghadafi. Do-gooders jumped in, farts saw an opportunity for leadership. But all was not what it seemed as we'd learn later. Human rights investigations reported NATO bombing the Great Man-Made River [42], RT reported on the plundering of Libya by Goldman Sachs [43] and two weeks later again, with the numbers [44]. O aye, and many more lies behind the West's war on Libya appeared [45]. It is not as if the anonymous operation made any real difference, but still the old adage goes, fool me once shame on you, fool me twice ...

Mega-land and water deals

2011, The Politics of Agrofuels and Mega-land and Water deals: The Procana Bioethanol project in Mozambique is a clear example of how agrofuel investments contribute rather than mitigate climate change, and are often accompanied by dispossession and impoverishment caused by landgrabbing. [46]

Africa’s Latest Land Rush: The Effect of Land Grabs on Women’s Rights: In Africa land rights are critical to economic power. In recent history, there have been three waves of land grabs: colonization, post-independence and present-day land grabs for commercial and apparently environment preservation purposes . Governments and corporations continue to wield their power to the detriment of women in Africa. [47]

New fraud cases iraq projects

Investigators looking into corruption involving reconstruction in Iraq say they have opened more than 50 new cases in six months by scrutinizing large cash transactions — involving banks, land deals, loan payments, casinos and even plastic surgery — made by some of the Americans involved in the nearly $150 billion program. Some of the cases involve people who are suspected of having mailed tens of thousands of dollars to themselves from Iraq, or of having stuffed the money into duffel bags and suitcases when leaving the country, the federal investigators said. In other cases, millions of dollars were moved through wire transfers. Suspects then used cash to buy BMWs, Humvees and expensive jewelry, or to pay off enormous casino debts.

Some suspects also tried to conceal foreign bank accounts in Ghana, Switzerland, the Netherlands and Britain, the investigators said, while in other cases, cash was simply found stacked in home safes. [48]

The day 69 children died

August, 2011, It is one of the worst incidents of the entire drones campaign, yet one of the least reported. A CIA strike on a madrassa or religious school in 2006 killed up to 69 children, among 80 civilians. [49]

Spin and occupy wallstreet

Also in 2011, Frank Luntz, a Republican strategist and a US expert on crafting the perfect political message, said, "I’m so scared of this anti-Wall Street effort. I’m frightened to death. They’re having an impact on what the American people think of capitalism." Next Luntz offered tips on how Republicans could discuss the grievances of the Occupiers, and help the governors better handle all these new questions from constituents about "income inequality" and "paying your fair share." Yahoo News sat in on the session, and counted 10 do’s and don’ts from Luntz covering how Republicans should fight back by changing the way they discuss the movement [50]. And young turks followed up on that [51].

The entire planet is for sale!?!

Food crisis and the global land grab: planet for sale

Land grabs the facts.jpg

In 2011 the documentary Food crisis and the global land grab: Planet for Sale appears: In the wake of the 2008 financial crisis, investors, leaders from around the world, and globalist bankers are buying up farmland at an alarming rate. In recent years, more than 80 million hectares of land have changed hands to investors with support from their respective governments that wish to guarantee the food security of their countries, or financial players in search of profitable investments, resulting in a "land rush" to snap up the best land in poor countries. Countries that have experienced food riots or resorted to foreign aid to feed their people … [52]

Deep sea mining

2011, Catalyst, on possibly destroying of what could be the roots of life: Most volcanic activity happens not on land, but kilometres down in the deep ocean. Geological research has revealed that underwater volcanoes, or hydrothermal vents, are rich in metals like copper, zinc, silver and gold at concentrations that make them commercially attractive to miners. But, they are also colonised by exotic life-forms and scientists believe the vents may have been the location where life originated. Mark Horstman takes a look at a mining project that is set to commence operations in the deep waters off Papua New Guinea. [53]

A human rights assessment of hydraulic fracturing

A recent United Nations General Assembly document informs the UN Human Rights Council that the environmental damage caused by hydraulic fracturing for natural gas poses “a new threat to human rights.” And a recent United Nations Resolution states that "environmental damage can have negative implications, both direct and indirect, for the effective enjoyment of human rights."

This human rights report is intended to detail for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and for Earthworks' Oil and Gas Accountability Project, specific ways in which hydraulic fracturing threatens to compromise human rights norms. [54]

Behind a mining monopoly

Beneath Canada’s mines in Latin America lies an unregulated industry: Canadian companies control a majority of Latin American mining. Activists say those companies are polluting and violating indigenous rights. [55]

A ghost story

March 26, 2012: Rockefeller to Mandela, Vedanta to Anna Hazare …. How long can the cardinals of corporate gospel buy up our protests? [56]

Tar sands refineries put communities at risk

September 17, 2012: Communities living next to tar sands refineries suffer from more intense sulfur dioxide pollution because of the extremely high sulfur content of tar sands refinery feed stocks, according to a new report by ForestEthics, an environmental organization. Sulfur dioxide pollution is associated with a wide variety of human health problems, including asthma and heart disease.

"The growing use of Canada’s tar sands by U.S. refineries adds another health risk to those already being faced by some of the most disadvantaged communities in the United States", said Aaron Sanger, U.S. Campaigns Director at ForestEthics and author of the report. [57]

Governments subsidising fossil fuel industry around the world

Governments around the world are spending perhaps more than $1 trillion USD combined per year subsidizing the fossil fuel industry. But what makes it even worse is that governments aren’t willing to own up to the fact that this is the case. That’s a lot of money to be wasting and hiding, and it could be put to better use for education, hunger, poverty, renewable energy, and many many other far-more valid uses. It’s time for governments to own up to the truth and come clean on the billions being thrown away to a dirty industry. [58]

2012, Oil Change International: One Dollar In, Fifty-Nine Out: What if you were in Vegas, and a friend told you there was a slot machine in the corner that was giving out $59 for every $1 that was put in? You’d think the machine was broken, and that it was rigged. What if an investment advisor told you that he could get you $59 back for every $1 you gave him? That’s a 5800% rate of return. Even Bernie Madoff only promised 10.5%. Obviously a scam, right? Clearly this is a scam, but if you’re the oil, gas and coal industry, it’s legal and business as usual in Washington. For every $1 the industry spends on campaign contributions and lobbying in DC, it gets back $59 in subsidies. [59]

The price of steel

The International Network for Economic, Social & Cultural Rights reports in June of 2013: The Price of Steel: Human Rights and Forced Evictions in the POSCO-India Project documents the human rights abuses being carried out to facilitate the establishment of the POSCO-India project, and the associated illegal seizures of land which threaten to forcibly displace as many as 22,000 people in India’s eastern state of Odisha. The report, produced by ESCR-Net and the International Human Rights Clinic (IHRC) at NYU School of Law, calls for a suspension of the POSCO-India project and a halt to the human rights abuses. [60]

China and india 'water grab' dams put ecology of Himalayas in danger

The future of the world's most famous mountain range could be endangered by a vast dam-building project, as a risky regional race for water resources takes place in Asia. New academic research shows that India, Nepal, Bhutan and Pakistan are engaged in a huge "water grab" in the Himalayas, as they seek new sources of electricity to power their economies. Taken together, the countries have plans for more than 400 hydro dams which, if built, could together provide more than 160,000MW of electricity – three times more than the UK uses.

In addition, China has plans for around 100 dams to generate a similar amount of power from major rivers rising in Tibet. A further 60 or more dams are being planned for the Mekong river which also rises in Tibet and flows south through south-east Asia. [61]

Canada to claim north pole as its own

UN submission will seek to redefine Canada's continental shelf to capture more Arctic oil and gas resources: Countries including the US and Russia are increasingly looking to the Arctic as a source of natural resources and shipping lanes. The US Geological Survey says the region contains 30% of the world's undiscovered natural gas and 15% of oil. If Canada's claim is accepted by the UN commission it would dramatically grow its share. Countries must submit proposals to the UN Commission on the Limits of the Continental Shelf to request an extension of their nautical borders.


Currently, under international law, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Russia and the US – the five countries with territories near the Arctic Circle – are allotted 200 nautical miles from their northern coasts. Under the UN convention on the law of the sea, exclusive claims can be vastly expanded for Arctic nations that prove that their part of the continental shelf extends beyond that zone. [62]

Who Owns the Arctic? An interactive map online showing Territorial claims of countries in the Arctic. [63]

Several countries, along with corporations like ExxonMobil and Royal Dutch Shell, are preparing to exploit the region’s enormous oil and natural gas reserves. New shipping routes will compete with the Panama and Suez Canals. Vast fisheries are being opened to commercial harvesting, without regulation. Coastal areas that are home to indigenous communities are eroding into the sea. China and the European Union are among non-Arctic governments rushing to assert their interests in the region. Some states have increased military personnel and equipment there. [64]

Foreclosing the future?

Examining 20 years of the world bank's environmental performance

Bruce Rich examines 20 years of the World Bank's environmental performance in 2013: The World Bank Group has a unique wealth of experience that could help build governance at the local, national, and international levels, if only the Bank would learn from its experience rather than flee from it. In the late 1990s an internal review of the Bank’s operations described the Bank’s underlying problem, which continues to this day, as unfounded 'institutional optimism' based on pervasive 'institutional amnesia.' "The lessons from past experience are well known," the Bank’s (now defunct) Quality Assurance Group concluded, "yet they are generally ignored in the design of new operations." [65]

Earlier, in 2011, he wrote Foreclosing the Future: The World Bank and the Politics of Environmental Destruction. [66]

Scarcity creates a mindset that perpetuates scarcity

The poor stay poor, the lonely stay lonely, the busy stay busy, and diets fail. Scarcity creates a mindset that perpetuates scarcity. If all this seems bleak, consider the alternative viewpoint: The poor are poor because they lack skills. The lonely are lonely because they are unlikable; dieters lack will power; and the busy are busy because they lack the capacity to organize their lives. In this alternative view, scarcity is the consequence of deep personal problems, very difficult to change. The scarcity mindset, in contrast, is a contextual outcome, more open to remedies. Rather than a personal trait, it is the outcome of environmental conditions brought on by scarcity itself, conditions that can often be managed. The more we understand the dynamics of how scarcity works upon the human mind, the more likely we can find ways to avoid or at least alleviate the scarcity trap. [67]

And the story isn't over yet

With the challenges that humans now face in climate change, resource depletion, soil degradation, water scarcity and myriad other issues impinging on human survival--all of which have their origins in excessive energy use--we may find that the cooperative and abstemious strains within us may be called to the fore. Or we may find that these problems simply lead to a Hobbesian war of all against all. [68]

David Western of the Wildlife Conservation Society Nairobi, Kenya writes:

Despite predictions of a mass extinction, the outcome is not inevitable. Human-induced extinctions are qualitatively different from previous mass extinctions. The threat is intrinsic, arising from a single species rather than an asteroid, volcanic activity, or other extrinsic agents. And, even though we can assume that human activity will affect future evolution by default or design, there is a world of difference between the two. Predictions based on past trends paint a bleak picture for our own species, let alone biodiversity. Yet even modest changes in fertility over the coming decades could see population growth level off. Ironically, scientists can change the course of evolution by persuading society to disprove their dire predictions! If my two cents worth helps, then I'm prepared to speculate in the interests of self-negation.

In reviewing human-dominated ecosystems I look at a number of interrelated topics. Each is vast and the subject of many reviews. These include ecosystem consequences of human impact , the consequences for humanity itself, science applied to conservation, and science and conservation in society. My interest is not so much in the details as it is in showing the links and feedbacks among science, conservation, and society needed to avoid a dull homogenous planet fine for weeds and pathogens but not for the diversity of life or humankind. [69]

How NATO Shapes and Manipulates Public Opinion

2012: Strategic Communications: How NATO Shapes and Manipulates Public Opinion: When NATO forces intervened in Libya last year to help oust Muammar Qaddafi, military planners were aware that one of the greatest battles of the conflict would not be military, but ideological: justifying the legitimacy of their actions to both Libyans and the wider international audience. NATO’s “strategic communications” framework for the operation informed officials that "Managing the information domain will be critical to NATO’s efforts being understood – and ultimately supported – by the audiences." In order to ensure this support, NATO must "use of the full range of information and communication capabilities" to help unify their message and "manage and shape perceptions, to counter potential misinformation and to build public support."[70]

Military stats reveal epicenter of drone war

Epicenter of drone war

2012, Wired: Military Stats Reveal Epicenter of U.S. Drone War: The American military has launched 333 drone strikes this year in Afghanistan. That’s not only the highest total ever, according to U.S. Air Force statistics. It’s essentially the same number of robotic attacks in Pakistan since the CIA-led campaign there began nearly eight years ago. In the last 30 days, there have been three reported strikes in Yemen. In Afghanistan, that’s just an average day’s worth of remotely piloted attacks. And the increased strikes come as the rest of the war in Afghanistan is slowing down. [71]

Exposing the invisible

A UN expert labels CIA tactic exposed by Bureau 'a war crime': The UN’s expert on extrajudicial killings has described a tactic used by the CIA and first exposed by a Bureau investigation as ‘a war crime’. Earlier this year the Bureau and the Sunday Times revealed the CIA was deliberately targeting rescuers and funeral-goers in its Pakistan drone strikes. Those controversial tactics have reportedly been revived. Christof Heyns, the UN special rapporteur, told a meeting in Geneva on June 21: 'Reference should be made to a study earlier this year by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism ... If civilian 'rescuers' are indeed being intentionally targeted, there is no doubt about the law: those strikes are a war crime.' [72]

In Unseen War, the final episode of tacticaltech's 3 part series Exposing the Invisible, the physical, moral and political invisibility of US drone strikes in Pakistan is explored: journalists, activists and experts inside and outside of Pakistan speak about the consequences of the strikes in the tribal FATA region, whey they are possible, and how we can make the issue more visible using data and visualisation tactics. [73]

Fueling terrorism

Guardian: America's murderous drone campaign is fuelling terror: Obama's escalation of a war that's already caused thousands of deaths will only destabilise his own allies and bolster al-Qaida: More than a decade after George W Bush launched it, the "war on terror" was supposed to be winding down. US military occupation of Iraq has ended and Nato is looking for a way out of Afghanistan, even as the carnage continues. But another war – the undeclared drone war that has already killed thousands – is now being relentlessly escalated.

From Pakistan to Somalia, CIA-controlled pilotless aircraft rain down Hellfire missiles on an ever-expanding hit list of terrorist suspects – they have already killed hundreds, perhaps thousands, of civilians in the process. [74]

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism reports on a study on Drone strikes in Pakistan: 'Drones causing mass trauma among civilians': The near constant presence of CIA drones 'terrorises' much of the civilian population of Pakistan’s tribal areas according to a new report. Men, women and children are subjected to almost constant trauma – including fear of attack, severe anxiety, powerlessness, insomnia and high levels of stress – says a nine month investigation into CIA drone strikes in Pakistan by two top US university law schools. More than 130 'victims, witnesses and experts' were interviewed in Pakistan for the study. A number of those eyewitnesses corroborated the Bureau’s own recent findings – that rescuers have been deliberately targeted by the CIA in the tribal areas. [75]

UK doubling its fleet and changing base

Also, in 2012 the UK brings drone command operations home from US: A purpose-built command and control center for Britain's growing fleet of Reaper drones is opening Friday at RAF Waddington in Lincolnshire. Currently the British operate their drones from Creech Air Force Base in Nevada. [...] Legal questions haven't stopped Britain's military from doubling the size of its Reaper fleet from 5 to 10. Manufactured by General Atomics of San Diego, Calif., the Reaper can be armed with Hellfire missiles and 500-pound laser guided bombs. The new drones will come online by the end of the year and be operated from RAF Waddington. Operations for the current fleet will be brought back from Nevada early in the new year. [76]

Origins of the not-so-secret drone war in Pakistan

2013, A Secret Deal on Drones, Sealed in Blood on the origins of the not-so-secret drone war in Pakistan in 2004. [77]

Further investigation

January 2013 Wired reports in Drones, Beware: United Nations Investigates Obama’s Targeted Killings: After years of warning that President Obama’s targeted killing program flirted with lawlessness, the United Nations has announced it’s investigating the centerpiece of the U.S.’s shadow wars worldwide. [78]

In april of 2013 the atlantic reports: New Evidence That Team Obama Misled Us About the Drone War: Official speeches are crafted to give the impression that we're mostly targeting al-Qaeda members. We're not. The Obama Administration is deliberately misleading Americans about the drone war it is waging in Pakistan. [79]

Israel leads global drone exports as demand grows

In 2013 RTF Drones reports that Israel leads global drone exports as demand grows: In an expansive hangar in central Israel, workers toil on one of the world’s most contentious aircraft, fitting dozens of drones with advanced sensors, cameras and lasers before they are shipped to militaries worldwide to perform highly sensitive tasks.

Whereas drones are often criticized elsewhere for being morally and legally objectionable, in Israel they are a source of pride. Israel — a pioneer of drone technology — has emerged as the world’s leading exporter of the aircraft and its accessories, putting it in a strong position as the industry continues to grow. [80]

The destroyed torture tapes again. Plus that promotion.

March 26, 2013 the Washington Post reports that the as yet unnamed woman who "signed off on the 2005 decision to destroy video tapes of prisoners being subjected to treatment critics have called torture" has become acting chief of the CIA’s Clandestine Service, responsible for launching drone strikes and running spies overseas. [81]

ATT: A historic and momentous failure

CAAT: A treaty will not reduce the arms trade or prevent exports to human rights violators. The treaty may set out regulations, but it also says states recognise “the legitimate political, security, economic and commercial interests … in the international trade in conventional arms.” This is the problem. The treaty will not stop any of the arms exports of the world’s largest arms producing countries or arms companies. Countries such as the UK, the US, France and Russia will be able to continue selling to repressive regimes unhindered. [82]

April 2013: Earlier this month, the UN’s adoption of an Arms Trade Treaty was celebrated as a historic success by Amnesty and Oxfam. Yet many campaigners now believe it could do more harm than good. Kirk Jackson reveals how a treaty that never seriously threatened the arms trade was critically weakened at the UN, and how it could actually benefit the arms industry and powerful arms-selling states. [...] Notwithstanding its rhetoric about saving lives and reducing human suffering, the UK government is motivated by concerns different to those of Amnesty and Oxfam. In particular, the government has the commercial interests of arms companies at heart, and believes that the ATT will actually be “good for business, both manufacturing and export sales.” [83]

The CIA’s new black bag is digital

July 17, 2013: The CIA’s clandestine service is now conducting these sorts of black bag operations on behalf of the NSA, but at a tempo not seen since the height of the Cold War. Moreover, these missions, as well as a series of parallel signals intelligence (SIGINT) collection operations conducted by the CIA’s Office of Technical Collection, have proven to be instrumental in facilitating and improving the NSA’s SIGINT collection efforts in the years since the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Over the past decade specially-trained CIA clandestine operators have mounted over one hundred extremely sensitive black bag jobs designed to penetrate foreign government and military communications and computer systems, as well as the computer systems of some of the world’s largest foreign multinational corporations. Spyware software has been secretly planted in computer servers; secure telephone lines have been bugged; fiber optic cables, data switching centers and telephone exchanges have been tapped; and computer backup tapes and disks have been stolen or surreptitiously copied in these operations. In other words, the CIA has become instrumental in setting up the shadowy surveillance dragnet that has now been thrown into public view. Sources within the U.S. intelligence community confirm that since 9/11, CIA clandestine operations have given the NSA access to a number of new and critically important targets around the world, especially in China and elsewhere in East Asia, as well as the Middle East, the Near East, and South Asia. (I’m not aware of any such operations here on U.S. soil.) [84]

Snowden documents reveal NSA’s extensive involvement in targeted killing program

October 16, 2013: The U.S. government has never publicly acknowledged killing Ghul. But documents provided to The Washington Post by former NSA contractor Edward Snowden confirm his demise in October 2012 and reveal the agency’s extensive involvement in the targeted killing program that has served as a centerpiece of President Obama’s counterterrorism strategy.

An al-Qaeda operative who had a knack for surfacing at dramatic moments in the post-Sept. 11 story line, Ghul was an emissary to Iraq for the terrorist group at the height of that war. He was captured in 2004 and helped expose bin Laden’s courier network before spending two years at a secret CIA prison. Then, in 2006, the United States delivered him to his native Pakistan, where he was released and returned to the al-Qaeda fold.

But beyond filling in gaps about Ghul, the documents provide the most detailed account of the intricate collaboration between the CIA and the NSA in the drone campaign. [85]

Meanwhile in greece

Banning golden dawn

In September of 2013 there is talk of banning Golden Dawn [86].


Meanwhile Greece is being carved up? As more and more sensitive areas of the country's infrastructure are put to the hammer, the need for absolute transparency and scrutiny is vital. Unfortunately, the consensus seems to be that Greece's silverware must go, at any price. The situation is quickly turning into a carve-up, like the ones Britain and other countries witnessed in the 1980s. As it happened in Britain, once the dust settles, the bill will go to the people who have the least say and oversight on the situation: the Greek taxpayers. [87]

Foreseeable disasters

2013, The European Union’s agroenergy policies and the global land and water grab: Why despite ten years of accumulating evidence on the social and environmental cost of agrofuels, does the European Commission persist with its failed policies? An analysis of the EU's bioeconomy vision, how it is fuelling land grabs in Africa, the agrofuels lobby that drives policy, and the alternative visions for energy that are being ignored. [88]

Old Story, New Threat: Fracking and the global land grab: Linking the current boom of unconventional gas extraction within the broader pattern of land and water grabbing, this report explores where fracking is happening today, who is promoting it, how, and the state of resistance. [89]

The Netherlands and the Global Land and Water Grab: Dutch pension funds, banks and corporations - and even the government - are implicated in the new wave of land and water grabbing worldwide. This briefing exposes the key players and makes recommendations to prevent further abuses. [90]

Remunipalisation of water

The logic of public services chips away at ideology of privatization: Many a local government has learned the hard way that even water is a commodity from which to squeeze a profit once privatized, with human need an afterthought. Decades of ideology have attempted to instill the idea that the private sector is always superior to government; that government can only mismanage what is in its hands.

Although attempting to flip this discredited, self-serving phantasmagoria by arguing the complete opposite would not stand up to scrutiny, either, the realm of facts and data firmly contradict the standard corporate ideology. Government after government has found that privatization was a mistake in what has become a wave of “re-municipalization” — the return of public services to public management. [91]

The french african connection

It is 2014, and Al Jazeera publishes a three-part series telling the story of 'France Afrique': a brutal and nefarious tale of corruption, massacres, dictators supported and progressive leaders murdered, weapon-smuggling, cloak-and-dagger secret services, and spectacular military operations: The first story reveals the lengths the former colonial power has gone to – from coups and assassinations to rigged elections and embezzlement – in order to satisfy its thirst for energy; The second episode reveals France's ongoing mission to secure access to oil and maintain a firm grip over its former colonies; and the third story outlines France's gradual loss of power in its former colonies - some called it reverse colonisation; others called it independence. [92]

State of the military-industrial-complex

While few politicians are willing to admit it, we don't just endure wars we seem to need war - at least for some people. A study showed that roughly 75 percent of the fallen in these wars come from working class families. They do not need war. They pay the cost of the war. Eisenhower would likely be appalled by the size of the industrial and governmental workforce committed to war or counter-terrorism activities. Military and homeland budgets now support millions of people in an otherwise declining economy. Hundreds of billions of dollars flow each year from the public coffers to agencies and contractors who have an incentive to keep the country on a war-footing - and footing the bill for war.

Across the US, the war-based economy can be seen in an industry which includes everything from Homeland Security educational degrees to counter-terrorism consultants to private-run preferred traveller programmes for airport security gates. Recently, the "black budget" of secret intelligence programmes alone was estimated at $52.6bn for 2013. That is only the secret programmes, not the much larger intelligence and counterintelligence budgets. We now have 16 spy agencies that employ 107,035 employees. This is separate from the over one million people employed by the military and national security law enforcement agencies.

The core of this expanding complex is an axis of influence of corporations, lobbyists, and agencies that have created a massive, self-sustaining terror-based industry. [93]

Report: Obama drone policy destabilizing for world

Al Jazeera report: Obama drone policy destabilizing for world, US democracy: Drone technology and the way the United States uses it has the potential to destabilize battlefields, governments and even American democracy, according to a new report by a task force that includes former U.S. military officials. [...] The Stimson report comes more than a year after President Barack Obama promised to curtail and increase accountability on the use of drones during a speech at National Defense University. But little has changed since that speech, and in that time the calls for reform have grown louder. While Obama has faced harsh criticism from human rights activists about his drone programs, the Stimson report added the voices of military officials and members of the defense industry to the national debate. [94]

Call for a moratorium on seabed mining

In 2014, NGOs from Australia, Canada and India call for an international moratorium on deep seabed mining in light of the International Seabed Authority’s (ISA) issuing of 7 exploration licences for deep seabed mining in international waters. [95]

The tortured history of the torture report

Techdirt, March 2014: What's Feinstein So Upset About? CIA Just Spied On Senate Intelligence Committee 'Metadata': Earlier today, we wrote about Senator Dianne Feinstein's justified anger over the CIA "spying" on the Senate Intelligence Committee staffers as they went about putting together a massive (and apparently incredibly damning) report condemning the CIA's torture program. Having now watched the whole video of her speech, as well as read the transcript, there's a lot more here to discuss. [96]

Guardian, March 2014: Dianne Feinstein has displayed no great enthusiasm for intelligence agency whistleblowers: only last June, she said leaks by Edward Snowden amounted to an "act of treason". Yet it was with no sense of irony that the chairwoman of the Senate intelligence committee, in an extraordinary address on the floor of the US Senate, revealed that documents at the heart of the collapse of her committee’s relationship with the Central Intelligence Agency might have been provided surreptitiously by someone who wanted her staffers to find them.

The documents are known as the “internal Panetta review”, after the former CIA director who presumably ordered them. How they came into the hands of staff members working for Senate select committee on intelligence is a story of intrigue and double-dealing worthy of the agency itself. The review was a sensitive, internal assessment of the CIA’s detention and interrogation program, which included techniques such as water-boarding that most experts say amounts to torture. [97]

Mother Jones, December 2014: How the CIA Spent the Last 6 Years Fighting the Release of the Torture Report: The Senate began investigating the CIA's detainee program nearly six years ago. It completed a draft of its report two years ago. Today, the Senate Intelligence Committee has finally released the report's blistering executive summary. (The full report remains classified.) What took so long? It's a tale of White House indecisiveness, Republican opposition, and CIA snooping. [98]

Crooked counsel

United states advises oil companies how to break the law

In the waning hours of 2014, the U.S. government slipped a few things past us: It advised oil companies how to get around the law prohibiting crude oil export by "self-classifying" crude oil as "not crude oil", and approved an LNG export facility despite the Fracking Fallacy debate that suggests that the U.S. may not have enough natural gas to meet our own demand in a few years much less send gas to the rest of the world. [99]

How law-breaking corporations are advising the european commission

There would be a public outcry if advisors to our national politicians or civil servants were recently convicted for illegal activity on the very topic they were advising on. Yet a new report shows how corporations that have been found guilty of or are under investigation for serious ethical, financial or environmental misconduct are actively advising the Commission. [100]

Rampant exceptionalism

May 2015, Baltimore police rarely charged in deaths: While officials acknowledge that there is no comprehensive historical data on police-involved deaths, the period since 2006 provides a telling sample. Sixty-seven people died in encounters with officers over that period, according to the Baltimore Police Department, and two officers faced criminal charges in those incidents. One, who was on duty when a fatal shooting took place, was acquitted. Another, who was off duty at a nightclub, was convicted and sentenced to 15 years in a separate shooting. [101]

6 times Unarmed Black Men Were Killed By White Officers And What It Means For Social Justice: The harrowing act of law enforcement killing black males is something that dates back centuries in the U.S., but in the last year, and culminating with Saturday’s shooting death of Walter Scott in South Carolina, it is being exposed more than ever thanks in large part to video capabilities of smartphones, which ordinary citizens seem more than eager to employ to record, in some cases, damning evidence against law enforcement. [102]

Blaming the victims

The huffington post reports in What We Lose When Police Blame Victims For Their Own Deaths: In cases in which charges are not brought against an officer in a police killing, authorities have successfully shifted some blame onto the victim in order to support the assertion that an officer acted legally in using lethal force. The implication is that it isn't the officers' job to stop themselves from killing people -- rather, it is the people's job to not get themselves killed by the officers. [103]

The poor get prison

The Department of Justice's investigation of the Ferguson Police Department has scandalized the nation, and justly so. But the department's institutional racism, while shocking, isn't the report's most striking revelation.


More damning is this: in a major American city, the criminal justice system perceives a large part of that city's population not as citizens to be protected, but as potential targets for what can only be described as a shake-down operation designed to wring money out of the poorest and most vulnerable by any means they could, and that as a result, the overwhelming majority of Ferguson's citizens had outstanding warrants.

Many will try to write off this pattern of economic exploitation as some kind of strange anomaly. In fact, it's anything but. What the racism of Ferguson's criminal justice system produced is simply a nightmarish caricature of something that is beginning to happen on every level of American life; something which is beginning to transform our most basic sense of who we are, and how we—or most of us, anyway—relate to the central institutions of our society, in ways that are genuinely disastrous. [104]

March 18, 2015, The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty: Poor people, especially people of color, face a far greater risk of being fined, arrested, and even incarcerated for minor offenses than other Americans. A broken taillight, an unpaid parking ticket, a minor drug offense, sitting on a sidewalk, or sleeping in a park can all result in jail time. In this report, we seek to understand the multi-faceted, growing phenomenon of the "criminalization of poverty."

In many ways, this phenomenon is not new: The introduction of public assistance programs gave rise to prejudices against beneficiaries and to systemic efforts to obstruct access to the assistance. [105]

Licensed to grab

The investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) clause present in many trade treaties give investors far-reaching protection, curtailing governments’ ability to regulate for progressive agrarian and agricultural policies and reinforcing the notion of land as a commodity. [106]

Droning on ...

March 2015 Counterpunch writes Hysterical Authoritarianism: Terrorism, Violence, and the Culture of Madness: Under the burgeoning of what James Risen has called the “homeland security-industrial complex,” state secrecy and organized corporate corruption filled the coffers of the defense industry along with the corporate owned security industries—especially those providing drones– who benefited the most from the war on terror. This is not to suggest that security is not an important consideration for the United States. Clearly, any democracy needs to be able to defend itself, but it cannot serve, as it has, as a pretext for abandoning civil liberties, democratic values, and any semblance of justice, morality, and political responsibility. Nor can it serve as a pretext for American exceptionalism and its imperialist expansionist goals. The philosopher Giorgio Agamben has suggested rightly that under the so-called war on terrorism, the political landscape is changing and that “we are no longer citizens but detainees, distinguishable from the inmates of Guantanamo not by an indifference in legal status, but only by the fact that we have not yet had the misfortune to be incarcerated—or unexpectedly executed by a missile from an unmanned aircraft.” [107]

America's 'Death Instinct' Spreads Misery Across the World: War and national security are used to justify the surrender of citizenship, the crushing of dissent and expanding the powers of the state: Those who use violence to shape the world, as we have done in the Middle East, unleash a whirlwind. Our initial alliances—achieved at the cost of hundreds of thousands of dead, some $3 trillion in expenditures and the ravaging of infrastructure across the region—have been turned upside down by the cataclysm of violence. Thirteen years of war, and the rise of enemies we did not expect, have transformed Hezbollah fighters inside Syria, along with Iran, into our tacit allies. We are intervening in the Syrian civil war to assist a regime we sought to overthrow. We promised to save Iraq and now help to dismember it. We have delivered Afghanistan to drug cartels and warlords who preside over a ruin of a nation where 60 percent of the children are malnourished and the Taliban is poised to take power once NATO troops depart. The entire misguided enterprise has been a fiasco of gross mismanagement and wanton bloodletting. But that does not mean it will be stopped.

More violence is not going to rectify the damage. Indeed, it will make it worse. But violence is all we know. Violence is the habitual response by the state to every dilemma. War, like much of modern bureaucracy, has become an impersonal and unquestioned mechanism to perpetuate American power. It has its own internal momentum. There may be a few courageous souls who rise up within the apparatus to protest war’s ultimate absurdity, but they are rapidly discarded and replaced. [108]

NYT’s New Propaganda on Syria

As the New York Times continues its descent into becoming an outright neocon propaganda sheet, it offered its readers a front-page story on Wednesday alleging – based on no evidence – that the Syrian government is collaborating militarily with the Islamic State as the brutal terror group advances on the city of Aleppo. Yet, while the Times played up those unverified allegations from regime opponents, the newspaper has either ignored or downplayed much more significant evidence that Israel, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and other Gulf states have been providing real assistance to Sunni jihadists who dominate the Syrian rebel movement, especially Al-Qaeda’s Nusra Front. [109]

Abrupt climate change, already?

Beckwith in Dissident Voice in 2015: "The Arctic is absorbing a lot more solar energy, and by itself at a much greater rate, than anywhere else on the planet. In fact, on average, in the last number of decades, the Arctic temperature has risen 1.0 oC per decade whereas the global average temperature rise has been about 0.15 oC per decade. So that ratio is 6 or 7 times more."

Therefore, the most immediate risk of further abrupt climate change hinges on how well the Arctic withstands global warming. As the Arctic loses ice mass, it releases more, and more, methane (CH4), which is much more powerful at entrapping heat than is carbon dioxide (CO2), and because massive quantities of CH4 are embedded within the ice, only a small fraction may cause the planet to heat up rapidly, going into deadly overdrive, resulting in numerous outgrowths negatively impacting life. As, for example, rapid increase in sea levels, flooding coastal cities, embedded droughts, diminishing agricultural production, severe storm activity, and horrific heat throughout the mid latitudes, resulting in panic, illness, and sudden death. It is likely the world turns chaotic.Scientists are radically divided on the issue of abrupt climate change and few predict an upsurge any time soon. Nevertheless, it’s the scientists who base their opinion on first hand knowledge, “boots on the ground,” who are screaming the loudest. They do not let the "computer models" override what they personally experience. [110]



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  36. Into Eternity https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4sqFyCHcbg
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  52. Food crisis and the global land grab: Planet for Sale https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IU1-PpxqeZc
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  55. AlJazeera: Behind a mining monopoly https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FaVarMR1v2M
  56. Outlook Capitalism: A Ghost Story http://www.outlookindia.com/article/capitalism-a-ghost-story/280234
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  60. The Price of Steel: Human Rights and Forced Evictions in the POSCO-India Project http://www.escr-net.org/node/365209
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  88. Transnational Institute: A foreseeable disaster: The European Union’s agroenergy policies and the global land and water grab http://www.tni.org/briefing/foreseeable-disaster
  89. Transnational Institute: Old Story, New Threat: Fracking and the global land grab http://www.tni.org/briefing/fracking-and-global-land-grab-0
  90. Transnational Institute: The Netherlands and the Global Land and Water Grab http://www.tni.org/report/netherlands-and-global-land-and-water-grab?context=69566
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  94. Al Jazeera report: Obama drone policy destabilizing for world, US democracy - Unregulated and secretive drone use is likely to erode legal and moral norms around world, report says http://america.aljazeera.com/articles/2014/6/26/drones-stimson-report.html
  95. The newest assault on the worlds oceans, deep seabed mining http://www.deepseaminingoutofourdepth.org/media-release-the-newest-assault-on-the-worlds-oceans-deep-seabed-mining/
  96. What's Feinstein So Upset About? CIA Just Spied On Senate Intelligence Committee 'Metadata', from the not-so-fun-when-it's-your-metadata,-huh? dept https://www.techdirt.com/articles/20140311/11492726531/whats-feinstein-so-upset-about-cia-just-spied-senate-intelligence-committee-metadata.shtml
  97. The documents that disappeared: how a furious CIA-Senate row erupted http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/12/cia-senate-row-documents-feinstein-brennan
  98. How the CIA Spent the Last 6 Years Fighting the Release of the Torture Report http://www.motherjones.com/politics/2014/12/timeline-history-senate-torture-report
  99. U.S. Advises Oil Companies How to Break The Law, Approves LNG Despite Fracking Fallacy Debate http://petroleumtruthreport.blogspot.nl/2015/01/us-advises-oil-companies-how-to-break.html
  100. Martin Ehrenhauser: Crooked Council http://www.ehrenhauser.at/publikationen/crooked-counsel/
  101. Baltimore police rarely charged in deaths http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/maryland/baltimore-city/bs-md-gray-police-rare-charges-20150516-story.html
  102. 6 Times Unarmed Black Men Were Killed By White Officers And What It Means For Social Justice http://www.ibtimes.com/police-shooting-videos-6-times-unarmed-black-men-were-killed-white-officers-what-it-1876156
  103. What We Lose When Police Blame Victims For Their Own Deaths http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/05/15/police-shootings-victim-blaming_n_7284792.html
  104. Gawker: Ferguson and the Criminalization of American Life http://gawker.com/ferguson-and-the-criminalization-of-american-life-1692392051
  105. Institute for policy studies: The Poor Get Prison: The Alarming Spread of the Criminalization of Poverty http://www.ips-dc.org/the-poor-get-prison-the-alarming-spread-of-the-criminalization-of-poverty/
  106. Transnational: Licensed to Grab: How international investment rules undermine agrarian justice http://www.tni.org/briefing/licensed-grab
  107. Counterpunch: Hysterical Authoritarianism: Terrorism, Violence, and the Culture of Madness http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/30/terrorism-violence-and-the-culture-of-madness/
  108. Alternet: America's 'Death Instinct' Spreads Misery Across the World http://www.alternet.org/world/americas-death-instinct-spreads-misery-across-world
  109. Consortium News: NYT’s New Propaganda on Syria https://consortiumnews.com/2015/06/03/nyts-new-propaganda-on-syria/
  110. Abrupt Climate Change, Already? http://dissidentvoice.org/2015/01/abrupt-climate-change-already/