Friday, May 31, 2013

Israel Threatens Syria

Israel Threatens Syria

by Stephen Lendman

Self-defense is inviolable. It's a fundamental right. International law affirms it. On May 29, State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said Washington supports Israel's right to defend itself. 

Israeli-style defense is offense. It hasn't been attacked in 40 years. It faces no regional threats now except ones it invents. It prioritizes violence, conflict and instability. 

Syria is Washington's war. Israel's very much involved. It's arming US-enlisted death squads. It bombed Syrian targets. It did so lawlessly. It initiated other provocations. It threatens more attacks now.

Russia's supplying Syria with sophisticated S-300 anti-aircraft missiles. They have every right to do so. They're for defense, not offense. Washington wants Syria defenseless. It maliciously calls self-defense belligerent and provocative.

State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell "condemn(ed) the continued supply of Russian weapons to the (Syrian) regime." He responded to Moscow affirming its S-300 missile sale.

White House spokesman Jay Carney said doing so "does not bring us closer to the political transition that Syria deserves."

International law is unequivocal. Sovereign rights are inviolable. No nation or combination thereof may interfere in the internal affairs of others. Syrians alone may choose who leads them.

Washington feels otherwise. War was planned years ago. Foreign terrorists were recruited. Syria was invaded. There's nothing "civil" about ongoing conflict. Naked aggression defines it.

Washington, key NATO partners, Israel, and rogue Arab states are arming, funding, training and directing anti-Syrian death squads. They've been doing so since conflict began.

Lifting the so-called EU arms embargo is subterfuge. EU nations agreed to what never existed. Arms flow freely. Recruited assassins get them.

Syria's been lawlessly invaded. It's under attack. Assad's vilified for self-defense. So is Russia for aiding its right to do so.

Hezbollah fighters are involved. They support Syrian sovereignty. They have every right to do so. State Department spokeswoman Psaki responded, saying: 

"This is an unacceptable and extremely dangerous escalation. We demand that Hezbollah withdraw its fighters from Syria immediately."

In other words, do what we say, not what we do. It bears repeating. Washington wants Syria defenseless. It wants Assad ousted. It wants a pro-Western puppet replacing him. It's longstanding US policy.

It's waging lawless aggression to do so. It's using proxy foot soldiers. They're assassins. They're death squads. They're murdering noncombatant men, women, children, the elderly and infirm. They're committing gruesome atrocities. Clear evidence proves it.

Washington calls doing so humanitarian intervention. Mass slaughter and destruction define US-style liberation. Syria's being systematically ravaged and destroyed. Imperial priorities matter most. 

Rogue states operate that way. America's by far the worst. Waging war on humanity is policy. Syria's in the eye of the storm. Conflict rages with no end. 

Full-scale US-led NATO intervention could happen any time. Events head steadily toward it. Obama deplores peace. He's waging multiple direct and proxy wars. He's got other nations in mind to attack. Wars without end continue.

Lebanon's Al-Manar television interviewed Assad. He affirmed receiving anti-aircraft S-300 missiles. The first shipment arrived. More will "arrive soon," he said.

Syria's battling "one hundred thousand" foreign invaders, he added. Washington, Turkey, other NATO countries, Israel, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar are directly involved.

Syrian forces achieved decisive victories. Battles continue against terrorists. Syria will attend Geneva II, he said. Its military will respond immediately to further Israeli aggression.

Appearing on Lebanese Al-Mayadeen television, Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem said:

"Syria will not let any Israeli aggression go unanswered without retaliation. The retaliation will be the same size as the aggression, and the same type of weapons will be used."

He added that any agreement Geneva II reaches will be put to a national referendum. "If it wins support of the Syrian people, we will go ahead with it," he added.

They alone have sole right to decide internal Syrian affairs. Outside interference has no legitimacy. It's lawless and unacceptable.

On May 29, Syria's real friends met in Tehran. Over 40 countries attended. So did regional and international organization representatives. They did so to support "Political Solution, Regional Stability."

A final statement rejected anti-Syrian aggression. It stressed comprehensive national dialogue. It's the only acceptable conflict resolution solution. It supported Geneva II peace discussions.

It stressed the necessity of restoring and preserving regional stability. Respect Syrian sovereignty. Obey international law. Stop the bloodshed. 

End foreign interference. Restore peace. Do so by diplomatic dialogue. These and other lawful steps were highlighted.

Washington, key NATO partners, rogue Arab states and Israel have other ideas in mind. On May 29, Haaretz headlined "Israel says will act to prevent S-300 missile systems from becoming operational."

Netanyahu lied. He told EU foreign ministers that Syrian S-300s make Israel's "entire air space (a) no-fly zone." Israel "cannot stand idly by" and permit it, he said.

Israeli National Security Adviser Yaakov Amidror said Israel will act "to prevent the S-300 missiles from becoming operational." A day earlier, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon affirmed it. "Israel will know what to do," he stressed.

On May 29, London's Guardian headlined "Israel in Moscow talks to halt supply of missiles to Syrian regime." Senior Israeli intelligence officials made a last ditch attempt to do so.

Their arguments don't wash. They're convoluted. They mask Israel’s belligerent intentions. Defensive anti-aircraft missiles are solely for that purpose. Syria has no intention to attack Israel or any other regional state. 

Nor do Iran or Hezbollah. Doing so would be suicidal. Assad has no death wish. Nor do Iranian or Hezbollah officials. They prioritize peace. They deplore war. 

Israel's entire history is blood-drenched. So is America's. Therein lies the problem. Both countries partner in aggressive wars. They claim doing so supports liberating struggles. 

Israel calls naked aggression self-defense. Justifiable defensive responses are called terrorism. America acts the same way. 

Rogue states write their own rules. They spurn rule of law principles. Imperial priorities override them. They matter most. 

Syria's under attack. Events head dangerously close to full-scale US-led NATO intervention. It bears repeating. Libya 2.0 looms. It could erupt any time. It could embroil the entire region. Preventing it matters most.

A Final Comment

A Western-backed Syrian National Coalition statement said:

"The Syrian Coalition welcomes the international efforts to find a political solution to what Syria has been suffering for two years while being committed to the principles of the revolution."

No "revolution" exists. It reiterated its precondition. Assad must go. So must all Syrian special services heads and high-ranking military officials.

In other words, it demands Syria unconditionally surrender. Otherwise it won't attend. Geneva II has no chance to succeed either way. 

Previous peace initiatives failed. They were dead on arrival. Washington deplores them. Its conflict resolution strategy is aggressive war. Expect nothing different this time.

Separately, the UN Human Rights Council (HRC) adopted a US/Qatar-backed resolution. It was maliciously one-way.

It "condemned the widespread and systematic gross violations of human rights and fundamental freedoms by the Syrian authorities and the Government-affiliated militias, including against the people of Al Qusayr."

The resolution passed 36 in favor, one against, and eight abstentions. The usual suspects voted yes. US pressure assured it. Venezuela was the sole nation against.

Russia denounced the resolution. Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov called it "unilateral and odious." 

It runs counter to planned peace efforts. He referred to Geneva II. Secretary of State John Kerry supports it. He does so disingenuously.  At the same time, he's "taking steps that in essence aimed at undermining" it, said Lavrov.

Washington, France, Britain and Israel want Iran excluded. Russia insists it be included. Lavrov said supplying anti-Syrian forces more weapons undermines peace. 

S-300s are for defense, not offense. Installing them perhaps will help restore it. Peace initiatives so far reflect more hope than reality. Nothing ahead looks encouraging. Hopefully that dynamic will change.

Note: On May 30, Voice of Russia headlined "Turkey arrests extremists with sarin gas for Syria - media." Russia Today and Interfax were cited.

Turkish "special anti-terror forces" apprehended 12 people suspected of having Al Nusra links. They were seized in southern Turkey. 

Reports said they had a two gm cylinder with sarin nerve gas. Turkish authorities haven’t officially confirmed it. 

On May 5, the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria (COI) said testimonial evidence indicates "rebel forces" used sarin. A day later, COI suggested  "no conclusive findings." 

Other reports confirmed anti-Assad elements using chemical weapons. The latest one adds more proof. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

CIA Global Renditions

CIA Global Renditions

by Stephen Lendman

Extraordinary renditions include arbitrary abductions and extrajudicial transfers from one country to another. Targeted individuals are called terrorists. 

Corroborating evidence isn't needed. What Washington says goes. Rogue hegemons operate that way. 

International, constitutional, and US statute laws don't matter. They're spurned. Victims are guilty by accusation. It's official US policy.

Before leaving office in January 1993, a classified GHW Bush National Security Directive (NSD 77) established the rendition process. 

Bill Clinton's June 1995 Presidential Directive (PDD 39) authorized "all legal means available to exclude from the United States persons who pose a terrorist threat and deport or otherwise remove from the United States any such aliens."

Post-9/11, GW Bush authorized "war on terror" abductions and renditions. He did so to CIA and Pentagon-run torture prisons. A global network was established. It exists in numerous countries. 

It includes US ships at sea. Special ones are staffed and equipped for that purpose. They're out of sight and mind. Ghost prisoner survivors call them worst of all.

On May 22, The Rendition Project (TRP) announced its "Global Rendition System" database and interactive map.

It's a collaborative UK-based University of Kent Dr. Ruth Blakeley/Kingston University Dr. Sam Raphael research project.

It's purpose is to provide "a detailed analysis of its component parts and a clearer understanding of how they fit together." 

Focus is on tracking global CIA flights. They're used to transfer detainees "between secret prisons for continued detention and torture." 

Washington's post-9/11 "war on terror" launched it. Extrajudicial detention was authorized. So were lawless renditions and torture.

"Overall, this system has involved the detention and torture, in secret, of hundreds of detainees, in scores of detention sites around the world." 

"Renditions between detention sites in a range of countries have been carried out using a variety of aircraft supplied by private contractors, and states allied to the US (including several European states) have been actively involved, or passively complicit, in the crimes committed."

Blakeley and Raphael work closely with Reprieve. It "delivers justice and saves lives, from death row to Guantanamo Bay."

It uses law to enforce human rights. It does so for prisoners. It investigates, litigates, educates, and "work(s) on the frontline. (It) provide(s) legal support to prisoners unable to pay for it themselves."

It promotes rule of law justice. It's rarer than ever today. Western-sponsored state terror represents a heavy challenge. The Rendition Project (TRP) said Reprieve "led the way in investigating secret prisons and representing victims of rendition and torture."

It's also involved in discovering "where people were held, how they were treated, and who was responsible for the human rights abuses they suffered."

Users can now search TRP's Rendition Flights Database. Doing so lets them "access comprehensive analyses" of prisons and aircraft used. They can track detainee movements.

They can explore vital issues. They can understand more about rendition, secret detention, and torture. They can learn how they violate fundamental human rights law.

They can read firsthand victim accounts. A "huge repository of primary documents" is maintained. They include "government memos, court papers, flight data and past investigative reports." 

Evidence for each case is available. Reprieve's web site highlighted TRP's Global Rendition System project.

Data comes from FOIA requests, legal cases, firsthand accounts, NGO investigations, and authentic news reporting. Washington maintains a global "black site" network. 

Thorough analysis deconstructs what's going on. Information is provided on more than 11,000 flights by over 120 aircraft. They're linked to more than 50 private companies.

Complicity of numerous countries is revealed. Companies tried covering their tracks. They filed false flight plans. They switched aircraft from point of origin to final destination. 

They knew they acted lawlessly. They tried concealing it. The more known exposes them. It's the first step to accountability. None so far exists. 

Rendition/detention/torture co-conspirators remain free from prosecution. Sunshine is the best disinfectant. Justice is long overdue. Countless numbers of innocent victims still suffer. Many more will unless something's done.

Anyone called a terrorist for any reason or none can be locked away in gulag hell. Most victims are innocent. Perhaps they all are. Due process and judicial fairness are denied. Guilt by accusation is policy. 

What remains ongoing is appalling. Most everything exists out of sight and mind. Media scoundrels are largely silent. What they know isn't disclosed. Occasional reports are sanitized. It's standard practice.

According to Raphael:

"The sheer scope of the CIA's rendition and torture system is brought to light as never before by our work, which shows in painstaking detail how terror suspects were kidnapped and transported to secret prisons across the globe for 'enhanced interrogation.' "

Reprieve's Crofton Black added:

"This unprecedented database shows how false route filings, tarmac transfers, shell companies and the plausible deniability of executive jets masked a systematic programme of secret detention and torture run by the US with the active complicity of the UK and other European countries."

America's war on terror continues. Waging it reveals its dark side. It's lawless. There's no end in sight. Ending it requires public outrage. Arousing it depends on exposing what's too unconscionable to tolerate. 

Not in our name means all of us. Everyone today is vulnerable. It's no time for complacency. Fundamental freedoms are assaulted. They're eroding and disappearing. 

Regaining lost rights requires mass action. It won't happen any other way. Today is the most perilous time in world history. 

The time to fight for what's right is now. Failure to do what's vital endangers everyone. If that's not incentive enough to act, what is?

Songwriter/satirist/lyricist Tom Lehrer once wrote "we'll all go together when we go." He meant possible nuclear annihilation. It remains an ominous threat. So does losing freedom. It's dying in plain sight.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Bilderberg June 6 - 9 Conference

Bilderberg June 6 - 9 Conference

by Stephen Lendman

Its four-day meeting occurs annually. It's a rite of spring. British political economist Will Hutton calls the group the "high priests of globalization." Powerful movers and shakers have their own agenda. 

They discuss key issues. They do it year round. Once annually they meet face-to-face. They plot strategy to exploit the world's riches. They want them for themselves. They try to keep meeting dates, locations, and issues to be discussed secret.

Word gets out. It's official. Britain's five-star Grove Hotel is this year's venue. It's a Hertfordshire, England hotel resort. It calls itself "London's cosmopolitan country estate." 

It's 18 miles from London. It's 30 minutes from Heathrow Airport. It's ideal for secluded meetings. Great pains are taken to keep journalists, activists, and other uninvited guests away.

On May 13, Infowars reporters Paul Joseph Watson and Jon Scobie visited the Grove Hotel. They claim to have "groundbraking" information.

Google's CEO Eric Schmidt is a regular Bilderberg attendee. Watson and Scobie said his company is "merging" with Bilderberg.

"Google’s annual Zeitgeist conference, which has been based at the Grove since 2007, immediately precedes the Bilderberg Group conference by a matter of days."

"Backed up by prior research, we were able to confirm in conversations with hotel managers and others that the Grove is now a central base for Google’s agenda to control the global political and technological landscape."

Bilderberg's "being recast as 'Google-Berg' - partly because of efforts on behalf of activists to tear away the veil of Bilderberg’s much cherished secrecy, and partly as a means of re-branding authoritarian, undemocratic secret gatherings of elites as trendy, liberal, feel-good philanthropic-style forums like Google Zeitgeist and TED."

In May 2012, London's Telegraph headlined "Google invites the best and brightest into its Big Tent."

It's Google's annual Zeitgeist conference. The Telegraph compared it to annual Davos World Economic Forum meetings. Major global figures participate in both.

Eric Schmidt thinks "privacy is a relic of the past," said Infowars. He "plans to turn Google into the ultimate Big Brother."

He and Bilderberg members share a common agenda. In part, it reflects a "collectivist, permanently networked world (without) individuality and privacy."

Bilderberg's grand design is one-world government comprised of rulers and serfs. It wants total unchallenged global control.

Infowars said its "inside source" listed the following June issues for discussion:

  • destroying Iran's nuclear facilities within three years;

  • prolonging war on Syria by arming anti-Assad elements;

  • the threat of a global pandemic; perhaps it's a planned depopulation scheme;

  • controlling 3D printing;

  • Internet control through "cyber resilience;"

  • establishing a ministry of truth; Orwell explained its mission and more, saying:

"The Ministry of Peace concerns itself with war, the Ministry of Truth with lies, the Ministry of Love with torture and the Ministry of Plenty with starvation." 

"These contradictions are not accidental, nor do they result from from ordinary hypocrisy: they are deliberate exercises in doublethink."

Other Bilderberg topics include:

  • smart cities for mass surveillance;

  • diffusing austerity induced social protests; 

  • preventing Britain from leaving the EU;

  • propping up the euro to keep the Eurozone intact;

  • minimal 2013 economic growth;

  • increasing central bank power; 

  • transferring more wealth from ordinary people to corporations and super-rich elites; and 

  • preventing a growing credit bubble from popping.

In 2007, Privacy International's "Race to the Bottom" report addressed privacy rankings of Internet service companies. A previous article discussed its comments on Google, saying:

"....throughout our research we have found numerous deficiencies and hostilities in Google's approach to privacy that go well beyond those of other organizations." 

It's "an endemic threat to privacy. This is in part due to the diversity and specificity of Google's product range and the ability of the company to share extracted data between these tools, and in part due to Google's market dominance and the sheer size of its user base."

"Its aggressive use of invasive or potentially invasive technologies and techniques" is unmatched.

It's able to "deep drill into the minutiae of a user's life and lifestyle choices." It has no qualms about doing it irresponsibly. 

It retains volumes user information. No limitations are placed on its subsequent use or disclosure. Users aren't able to delete or withdraw it.

It retains all "search strings and associated IP-addresses and time stamps for at least 18 to 24 months, and does not provide users with an expungement option."

It has other personal information on hobbies, employment, addresses, phone numbers, and more. It retains it after users delete their profiles.

It "collects all search results entered through Google Toolbar, and identifies all Google Toolbar users with a unique cookie that allows Google to track the user's web movements." 

Information is retained indefinitely. It provides a permanent record. Doing so spurns OECD Privacy Guidelines and EU data protection law provisions.

Users can't edit or delete records and information. They can't access log information generated through various Google services, such as Google Maps, Video, Talk, Reader, or Blogger.

In 2004, Google also acquired the CIA-linked company Keyhole, Inc. It maintains a worldwide 3-D spy-in-the-sky images database. 

Its software provides a virtual fly-over and zoom-in capability. It does so within a one-foot resolution. 

It's supported by In-Q-Tel. It's a venture capital CIA-funded firm. It "identif(ies) and invest(s) in companies developing cutting-edge information technologies that serve United States national security interests."

In 2003, its CEO, John Hanke, said: 

"Keyhole's strategic relationship with In-Q-Tel means that the Intelligence Community can now benefit from the massive scalability and high performance of the Keyhole enterprise solution."

In 2006, former CIA clandestine services case officer, Robert Steele, said:

"I am quite positive that Google is taking money and direction from my old colleague Dr. Rick Steinheiser in the Office of Research and Development at CIA, and that Google has done at least one major prototype effort focused on foreign terrorists which produced largely worthless data."

"I think (Google is) stupid to be playing with CIA, which cannot keep a secret and is more likely to waste time and money than actually produce anything useful."

On April 29, 2009, Willem Buiter's Financial Times article headlined "Gagging on Google," saying:

"Google is to privacy and respect for intellectual property rights what the Taliban are to women's rights and civil liberties: a daunting threat that must be fought relentlessly by all those who value privacy and the right to exercise, within the limits of the law, control over the uses made by others of their intellectual property."

It should be strictly regulated, "and if necessary, broken up or put out of business." It "lays the foundations for corporate or even official Big Brotherism."

Google Street View's addition to Google Maps, "provides panoram(ic) images visible from street level in cities around the world." 

"The cameras record details of residents' lives." They do so without permission. Personal privacy is violated. 

It's also done through tracking cookies or "third-party persistent cookies." They assist interest-based advertising. It's known as behavioral targeting. 

In the wrong hands, information can be used "to put a commercial squeeze on people, but also to extort and blackmail them." 

In government hands, it enhances "a pretty effective and very nasty police state."

Can Google be trusted to use this information responsibly? "Of course not." It's a business run by "amoral capitalists." It seeks profits by any means. 

Google and other Internet search engines "should not be trusted because they cannot be trusted." Because of its size and dominance, Google's "the new evil empire of the internet." It's a menacing "Leviathan." 

If true, partnering (merging) with Bilderberg enhances the threat. Institutionalized spying endangers everyone. Today's technology exceeds the worst of what Orwell imagined. 

Big Brother isn't fiction. It's watching everyone all the time for any reason. It does so with sweeping technological effectiveness. It makes Bilderberg's ideal world more possible.

A Final Comment

During Bilderberg's conference, police state conditions will apply. Nearby Grove Hotel residents will be affected. Unprecedented security will be enforced. Operations will be round-the-clock.

Area residents will have to show police passports, drivers licenses, or other accepted photo IDs to get home. Civil liberties will be suspended. De facto martial law will replace them.

What's planned may be prelude to what's coming. Boston experienced lockdown. It can happen anywhere anytime. Perhaps manufactured reasons will enforce it nationwide. 

America and Britain are vulnerable. So are other Western nations. Longstanding freedoms are fast eroding. They're vulnerable to disappearing any time.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Obama's Anti-Populist Agenda

Obama's Anti-Populist Agenda

by Stephen Lendman

Obama's a reliable corporate tool. He serves powerful monied interests. He spurns populist ones. He's done so throughout his tenure. He's unfit to serve.

Since taking office, he targeted America's most disadvantaged. He wants deeper Medicare and Medicaid cuts than already instituted on his watch. He wants Social Security benefits reduced.

He’s already cut:

  • home heating help for needy families;

  • higher education Pell Grants;

  • Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) benefits;

  • community healthcare center funding;

  • HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, and other disease prevention programs;

  • WIC (Women, Infants, and Children) low-income family grants to states for supplemental food, healthcare, and nutrition education;

  • Head Start education, health and nutrition help for low-income families with children;

  • community development block grants for housing; and

  • Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits.

More on them below. He's waging war on social America. He's in lockstep with Republicans and most Democrats. Everything's "on the table," he said.

He's gutting America's New Deal and Great Society. He's eroding vital longstanding programs en route to eliminating them altogether. He's beholden to monied interests. They own him. 

He's waging class war. He's throwing millions of needly Americans under the bus. He's force-feeding pain and suffering.

Obamacare rationed healthcare. It penalizes households unable to afford insurance. It assures escalating costs. It puts vital treatment out of reach for growing millions. He's doing it when it's most needed.

He's got lots more budget cutting schemes in mind. He wants seniors, low income earners, and America's most disadvantaged hit hardest. 

Doing so shifts more wealth disproportionately to Wall Street, war profiteers, other corporate favorites, and super-rich elites already with too much.

Stealing from poor Peter to benefit rich Paul is policy. Only a Democrat would do what Republicans on their own wouldn't dare. 

Obama's a stealth corporatist hardliner. He's been that way throughout his political career. It got him elevated to America's highest office. He's paying dividends to power bosses who selected him. They wouldn't have done so otherwise.

He supports deeper food stamp cuts. Franklin Roosevelt instituted the first Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP). It began in May 1939.

Henry Wallace was agriculture secretary. Milo Perkins administered the program. "We've got a picture of a gorge," he said, "with farm surpluses on one cliff and under-nourished city folks with outstretched hands on the other. We set out to find a practical way to build a bridge across that chasm."

The program ended when conditions warranting it no longer existed. In 1959, Eisenhower reinstituted it.

Jack Kennedy's first Executive Order expanded the program. Lyndon Johnson enacted the 1964 Food Stamp Act. He called doing so "a realistic and responsible step toward the fuller and wiser use of an agricultural abundance."

It's a vitally important social program. It provides food for growing millions unable to afford enough of it. Cutbacks began in the 1980s. Clinton continued them. They're prioritized more now than earlier.

Congress plans major cuts. They're part of the 2013 Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (aka farm bill). It's a five-year omnibus agricultural policy bill. The last one expired on September 30, 2012. 

In January, a nine-month extension was agreed on. Agribusiness subsidies continued. Food stamps and other populist programs were cut. New legislation plans huge ones most needed. Feeding the nation's poor will suffer

Farm bills authorize, repeal, extend, and revise US agricultural policy. They reward rich farmers disproportionately. They heavily subsidize agribusiness. Doing so helps put family farmers out of business. 

A small percent of mega-farms produce most US agricultural output. They specialize in commodity crops. They include corn, wheat, cotton, rice, soybeans and other animal feed grains.

So-called "specialty" crops include vegetables and fruit. They're not subsidized.

What agribusiness wants it gets. It comes at the expense of small farms and federal food programs. They include feeding the nation's poor.

SNAP's been attacked for years. Over the next decade, it faces its biggest challenge. Deep cuts are proposed. On May 15, the House Agricultural Committee passed the 2013 farm bill. 

It cuts $21 billion in SNAP aid. Doing so means nearly two million needy Americans won't get food stamps. In 2000, around 17 million got them. By yearend 2012, it spiked to a record 48 million. Since 2008, recipients increased over 70%. 

Under protracted Main Street Depression conditions, expect numbers to swell exponentially annually. At the same time, Congress wants less aid provided when it's most needed. It's too vital to lose.

Legislation awaits a full House vote. The Senate has its own version. Both target America's needy. It's just a matter of how much. 

Hungry Americans don't matter. Half or more are children. Many attending schools with hot breakfasts or lunches may get their only daily meal.

Most households receiving food stamps have at least one employed member. According to the Food Journal, they "typically include a child, elderly person or a disable person, and a gross income of $744 a month."

With proposed amendments, SNAP benefits to fund the Healthy, Hunger-Free Kids Act and Education Jobs Fund face 10% cuts.

SNAP-Ed (the Nutrition Education and Obesity Prevention Grant Program) is reduced by one-third in FY 2013. Doing so greatly compromises the ability of recipients to make healthy food choices.

SNAP is America's most important anti-hunger program. Millions face dire consequences without it. Nearly 72% of recipients are in families with children. Over one-fourth are in households with seniors or disabled people.

After unemployment insurance, it's the most vital federal program during hard times. It's ongoing. It's deepening. It's protracted. Growing millions are increasingly dependent.

Washington funds SNAP. It splits administrative costs with states. They operate the program. Nearly all low-income households are eligible. At least so far. 

Criteria explained below must be met. States have some wiggle room to adjust them.

Gross monthly income must be at or below 130% of the poverty line. In FY 2013, it's defined as $24,800 annually for a three-person household. Those with an elderly or disabled member need not meet this limit.

Net monthly income must be less than or equal to defined poverty after deductions for high housing costs and child care. In FY 2013, the designated amount is $19,100 annually.

Assets must fall below certain limits. Households without elderly or disabled members must have $2,000 or less. Others with one or more of these members must have $3,250 or less.

Regardless of income or assets, ineligible categories include striking workers, most college students, and certain legal immigrants. Undocumented immigrants aren't eligible.

Most unemployed childless adults receive benefits only for three months. Some high unemployment areas waive this limitation.

On May 22, a Senate amendment passed. It makes anyone convicted of certain violent crimes ineligible for SNAP benefits for life. 

It doesn't matter how long ago the offense was committed, under what circumstances, or whether the offender henceforth became a model citizen.

Losing benefits affects other family members. Children and spouses will suffer through no fault of their own. Given the disproportionate numbers of incarcerated Blacks and Latinos, this provision discriminates racially.

Many were wrongfully convicted. Targeting them again compounds injustice. Congress is dismissive and uncaring. It reflects America's dark side. 

The world's richest country spurns its most disadvantaged. Doing so swells their numbers. People of color are most harmed. Corporate giants and super-rich elites are disproportionately favored.

Rank-and-file House and Senate members earn $174,000 annually. Majority and minority leaders get $193,000. The House Speaker receives $223,000.

Cost-of-living increases add more annually unless Congress votes against them. All congressional members get subsidized healthcare, generous pensions, and outsized government perks.

Millionaires comprise America's 1%. In Congress, it means being average. Among 535 House and Senate members, about half are millionaires.

The vast majority of congressional members are well off financially. Many of their constituents suffer disproportionately. Bipartisan complicity punishes them unjustly. 

When growing millions need help, they face increasing hardships. Force-fed austerity assures it. Cutting food stamps highlights congressional indifference. 

Class war rages. Growing needs go unaddressed. Hungry children don't matter. America never was beautiful. It's less so today than ever. It's dark side's in plain sight. 

Harming its most disadvantaged reflects it. They face harder than ever hard times. In 1941, Franklin Roosevelt pledged freedom from want. Bipartisan complicity today ignores it.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Israel Threatens Russia

Israel Threatens Russia

by Stephen Lendman

Israel gives chutzpah new meaning. War on humanity defines its agenda. It's partnered with Washington's war on Syria.

It's heading perhaps toward greater intervention. It warned Russia about supplying Syria with sophisticated defensive anti-aircraft missiles. It said Israel will react in response. More on that below.

A previous article discussed Russian S-300 launch systems and other defensive missile sales to Syria. Vladimir Putin said existing contracts will be honored.

Netanyahu tried to dissuade him. They met face-to-face. Perhaps Israel's early May aggression convinced him they're urgently needed.

A May 26 London Sunday Times article suggested otherwise. It headlined "Putin axes Syria missile deal to aid Israel."

Israeli media highlighted the report. It claimed Putin agreed to halt S-300 sales in return for Israel pledging no more Syrian strikes.

Israeli officials denied the report. They told Israeli radio that Russia intends to fulfill its commitment. They're unclear on timing or whether shipments already arrived.

On May 27, Russia Today quoted Syria's Russian ambassador. Riyad Haddad told Interfax that agreements between both countries "are being implemented without any changes." He referred to S-300s.

On May 28, Lebanon's Al-Manar television's web site headlined  "Moscow Insists S-300 Prevents Intervention in Syria, Zionists Warn."

According to Deputy Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabknov:

"(S)upplying Syria with the air defense systems S-300 maintains stability and prevents the intervention of the foreign forces in the Syrian crisis."

Both countries contactually agreed to do so. Deal terms were finalized five years ago. "These rockets cannot be used by the militants in the battlefield," Ryabkhov explained.

In response, Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon warned "that if Russia delivers the(se) air defense systems to Syria, we know how to act."

He called supplying them "a threat as far as we're concerned." He believes they haven't been shipped. He hopes they won't be. 

"If they do arrive in Syria, God forbid," he said, "we'll know what to do." Saying so implies more air strikes or other type intervention. It suggests escalating Syria's conflict further.

Days earlier, Israeli General Amir Eshel said S-300s were shipped. Assad "invested millions in purchasing anti-aircraft missiles such as SA-24, SA-22, SA-17, and the S-300 that is on its way."

Israel, Washington, and key NATO partners want Syria deprived of weapons, munitions, and defensive missiles. They're needed to counter Western-initiated aggression.

At the same time, Washington and key NATO partners want increased supplies sent to their proxy foot soldiers. They're terrorists. They're US-enlisted death squads. 

They massacre noncombatant civilians. Their atrocities are well known. Washington offers full support. On the one hand, John Kerry and other US officials urge diplomatic conflict resolution.

At the same time, they support greater escalation than already. Double standard duplicity defines Washington's agenda. It prioritizes war. It deplores peace. 

It wants Assad ousted. Expect whatever it takes to do so. Whether it's possible remains to be seen. Most Syrians want no part of Washington's agenda. 

They value their sovereign rights. They want no outside dominance. They're willing to fight to prevent it.

On May 28, acting deputy State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell praised EU nations' willingness to escalate conflict in Syria. They'll do so by supplying anti-Assad elements more arms than already.

Lifting the so-called embargo doesn't wash. Since conflict began in early 2011, arms flowed freely. America, key NATO partners, and regional allies are directly involved. 

Expect increased weapons and munitions supplies sent. Perhaps more lethal ones are planned.

Ventrell said doing so give EU states more "flexibility." They'll be able to "accelerate (their) assistance to the opposition." He stopped short of explaining Washington's direct involvement. It's orchestrating what's going on.

At the same time, Ventrell "condemn(ed) the continue supply of Russian weapons to (Syria), and this includes all class of weapons, and we've been clear throughout and very direct with the Russian government about that."

In other words, do what we say, not what we do. Washington operates that way.

He continued with a litany of lies. He accused Assad of massacring his people. He claimed US-enlisted death squads are "defending themselves."

He and other US officials repeat these claims ad nauseam. They're directly involved in recruiting, funding, arming, training and directing foreign fighters. 

The more vicious and ruthless the better. Al Qaeda and its affiliate Al Nusra are key. They're recruited and sent to Syria. They reflect Washington's death squad strategy. It's longstanding. 

Terrorists are US-enlisted foot soldiers. They're committing monstrous atrocities. They're waging lawless aggression. They're trained to do so. They're targeting a nonbelligerent country.

At the same time, Ventrell condemned increased "Hezbollah activity" in Syria. They're defending Syrian sovereignty. He called their involvement "destabilizing."

He duplicitously said Washington wants diplomatic conflict resolution. He and other US officials want Syrians to have no say.

He and White House spokesman Jay Carney defended John McCain's meeting with anti-Assad terrorist leaders. He did so inside Syria. 

He crossed the border lawlessly. He met with Lebanese pilgrim kidnappers. They committed numerous other crimes. He praised them. 

He twittered: "Important visit with brave fighters in Syria who are risking their lives for freedom and need our help."

Assad must go remains US policy. No nation may interfere in the internal affairs of others. It's standard US practice. Doing so violates international law. Waging aggressive war does so flagrantly.

Ventrell calls it "work(ing) toward a new, free Syria." Perhaps he has one like Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya in mind. They've been ravaged and destroyed. 

Conflicts continue. Violence is widespread. Human suffering and misery are appalling. America bears full responsibility. Imperial priorities matter most.

Syrians understand. They're in the eye of the storm. Expect much worse ahead. Reports said Obama ordered the Pentagon to prepare no-fly zone plans. 

No Security Council authorization permits one. It has sole authority to do so. Unilateral action is lawless.

Implementing one declares full-scale war. US-led NATO would enforce it. Doing so means Libya 2.0. An unnamed administration official said:

"The White House is still in contemplation mode, but the planning is moving forward and it's more advanced than it's ever been."

Perhaps direct US-led NATO intervention looms. Israel borders on Syria. It's already involved. It may participate more directly and/or covertly. It's a de facto NATO partner.

Escalating its actions may be planned. It's too early to know for sure. Stepped up US-aggression looks likely. Perhaps it'll follow Geneva II. It's weeks away.

Washington's conflict resolution strategy is full-scale war. Waging it could come any time.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Lifting the Fake EU Arms Embargo

Lifting the Fake EU Arms Embargo 

by Stephen Lendman

On May 27, the so-called one-year EU arms embargo on Syria's opposition ended. Officially it does so on June 1. EU nations agreed to end what never existed.

Since Washington's war on Syria began in early 2011, arms flowed freely. Western-enlisted death squads get them. At issue is replacing Assad with a subservient pro-Western puppet. 

Syria's being ravaged in the process. Washington, key NATO partners, Israel and rogue Arab state allies bear full responsibility.

War rages ahead of Geneva II. Planned peace talks are pretense. Syrians genuinely want it. So does Russia going all out to achieve it. Other nations urge peace.

America prioritizes conflict and instability. It does so for unchallenged dominance. Peaceful conflict resolution is illusory. Previous efforts fell short. Expect Geneva II to fare no better.

Permanent war is official US policy. The business of America is war. Obama's waging multiple direct and proxy ones. He's got more death and destruction in mind.

CIA and Britain's MI 5 operatives, as well as Western special forces actively aid so-called "rebels." They've been doing so throughout most of the conflict.

On February 8, 2012, Infowars headlined "British Special Forces Enter Syria to Aid Rebels," saying:

They're "directing rebel fighters in a repeat of how Libyan rebels were aided" to oust Gaddafi. Qatari special forces are also involved. Very likely others are.

"….Al-Qaeda-affiliated terrorists who fought US troops in Iraq and helped NATO powers overthrow (Gaddafi) were airlifted into Syria (to) topple (Assad) in November last year."

More come in regularly. They supplement existing ranks or replace elements Syria's military eliminated. No end of conflict looms. 

Appalling atrocities are committed. Assad's wrongfully blamed for foreign death squad crimes. He's falsely accused of using chemical weapons. 

On May 28, Reuters headlined "Syria fighting rages, more chemical attacks reported," saying:

"….(F)urther reports surfaced of chemical weapons attacks by (Assad's) forces on rebel areas." These allegations and previous ones are spurious.

On May 24, Voice of Russia headlined "Russian journalists have proof Syrian insurgents used chemical weapons," saying:

They have video proof. They gave it to the UN Secretariat. They show "chemical weapons attacks allegedly committed by opposition fighters in the vicinity of Aleppo on March 19."

"This was confirmed by the spokesman for the Deputy Secretary General Farhan Haq."

RTR journalist Anastasia Popova confirmed toxic substances use. Eyewitness accounts supplemented video evidence. Nonetheless, spurious anti-Assad accusations persist.

On May 27, the UN News Centre headlined "UN rights chief urges end to 'intolerable' suffering in Syria."

Navi Pillay addressed the 23rd Human Rights Council session. She stopped short of pointing fingers the right way. She consistently blames Assad for Western-backed death squad crimes.

"A humanitarian, political and social disaster is already upon us," she said, "and what looms is truly a nightmare." 

"Civilians bear the brunt of this crisis in which human rights violations have reached horrific dimensions." 

"Confronted with the flagrant disregard of international law and human life on every side, I feel utter dismay."

"I am extremely concerned at current reports suggesting that hundreds of civilians have been killed or injured, and thousands may remain trapped, by indiscriminate shelling and aerial attacks by Government forces in Al Qusayr."

She admitted that anti-government forces also commit human rights violations. She consistently blames Assad most of all. She avoids explaining Washington's war on Syria.

She's a reliable imperial tool. She's been so in previous capacities. She suppresses truth. Responsible major powers are absolved. 

Victims are blamed for their crimes. She did it before. She's doing it now. She aids and abets lawless aggression. She facilitates human rights abuses in the process.

On May 27, the Human Rights Council (HRC) convened its 23rd session. President Remigiusz Henczel addressed a days earlier request to debate deteriorating conditions in Syria.

Qatar claimed Syrian forces were massacring their people. A May 16 Financial Times report headlined "Qatar bankrolls Syrian revolt with cash and arms."

"(I)t "spent as much as $3bn over the past two years supporting the rebellion in Syria, far exceeding any other government, but is now being nudged aside by Saudi Arabia as the prime source of arms to rebels."

Washington orchestrates everything. Turkey's its main attack dog. CIA elements operate in its territory near Syria. They facilitate cross-border weapons shipments.

Syria's representative addressed the HRC session. He objected to debate on his country. Turkey and Qatar requested it. 

He said they're directly responsible for what's going on. They're encouraging terrorist attacks on Syrian soil. They're arming and training insurgent elements.

UK Foreign Secretary William Hague called ending the so-called arms embargo the right decision. He led efforts to do so. He suggested Britain would go it alone otherwise.

He claimed ending the embargo "is part of supporting the diplomatic work to bring about the political solution." It's "necessary and right," he said.

Doing so will "protect civilians," he added. Tory MP John Baron disagreed, saying:

"It beggars belief, the idea that pouring more arms into this conflict could not or would not escalate the violence. Of course, its not going to do that."

"But it could do something more dangerous. That is it could escalate the conflict beyond Syria's borders. That is why it could be a mistake of historic proportions."

Oxfam's Anna Macdonald said supplying more weapons "add(s) fuel to the fire. We are concerned that supplying arms to the opposition won't level the playing field. In fact, it will fuel a deadly arms race that will have even worse consequences for civilians."

"The millions of people suffering in Syria right now don't need more arms. They need aid."

Shadow foreign secretary Douglas Alexander asked "how does supplying weapons help to secure a lasting peace?"

Supplying them in greater numbers assures more death and destruction. Doing so complies with Washington's longstanding agenda. 

The road to Tehran runs through Damascus. Replacing independent governments with pro-Western ones is prioritized.

Twenty-one EU nations are NATO members. It's an alliance for war, not peace. It's for offense, not defense. It's a killing machine. America runs it.

Britain, France, Germany and other EU nations partner in its imperial wars. Doing so ravages one country after another.

Last October, Nobel Committee members awarded EU nations their Peace Prize. They claimed doing so reflected their decades long contribution "to the advancement of peace and reconciliation, democracy and human rights in Europe."

They ignored their role in Eurasian conflicts and beyond. They turned a blind eye to NATO's global ambitions. It's part of Washington's full spectrum dominance agenda. 

It's potentially catastrophic if not stopped. It assures greater wars on humanity. Global war is possible. Washington controls NATO policy. Its so-called Partnership for Peace is a thinly veiled pro-war agenda.

War is peace reflects longstanding US policy. Syria's conflict potentially could spin out of control. The entire region and beyond could become embroiled. 

During last year's pre-election campaign, Republicans stressed "American exceptionalism." Democrats countered saying:

"We also understand the indispensable role that the United States must continue to play in promoting international peace and prosperity."

In 1996, Clinton aide Sidney Blumenthal coined the term "indispensable nation." Clinton used it as justification for NATO's Bosnia intervention.

In several speeches, Obama stressed American exceptionalism and the term indispensable nation. Most others disagree. They do so for good reason.

America prioritizes war, not peace. Permanent war is longstanding policy. One country after another is ravaged. Millions perish. Millions more remain vulnerable. 

Where this ends who knows. Humanity may not survive the onslaught. 

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 

His new book is titled "Banker Occupation: Waging Financial War on Humanity."

Visit his blog site at 

Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.

It airs Fridays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.