So Why the Omission?
In his autobiography, Dreams From My Fathers, Barack Obama writes of taking a job at some point after graduating from Columbia University in 1983. He describes his employer as “a consulting house to multinational corporations” in New York City, and his functions as a “research assistant” and “financial writer”.
Oddly, Obama doesn’t mention the name of his employer. However, a New York Times story of October 30, 2007 identifies the company as Business International Corporation. Equally odd is that the Times did not remind its readers that the newspaper itself had disclosed in 1977 that Business International had provided cover for four CIA employees in various countries between 1955 and 1960.10
The British journal, Lobster — which, despite its incongruous name, is a venerable international publication on intelligence matters — has reported that Business International was active in the 1980s promoting the candidacy of Washington-favored candidates in Australia and Fiji.11 In 1987, the CIA overthrew the Fiji government after but one month in office because of its policy of maintaining the island as a nuclear-free zone, meaning that American nuclear-powered or nuclear-weapons-carrying ships could not make port calls.12 After the Fiji coup, the candidate supported by Business International, who was much more amenable to Washington’s nuclear desires, was reinstated to power — R.S.K. Mara was Prime Minister or President of Fiji from 1970 to 2000, except for the one-month break in 1987.
In his book, not only doesn’t Obama mention his employer’s name; he fails to say exactly when he worked there, or why he left the job. There may well be no significance to these omissions, but inasmuch as Business International has a long association with the world of intelligence, covert actions, and attempts to penetrate the radical left — including Students for a Democratic Society (SDS)13 — it’s reasonable to wonder if the inscrutable Mr. Obama is concealing something about his own association with this world.
Adding to the wonder is the fact that his mother, Ann Dunham, had been associated during the 1970s and 80s — as employee, consultant, grantee, or student — with at least five organizations with intimate CIA connections during the Cold War: The Ford Foundation, Agency for International Development (AID), the Asia Foundation, Development Alternatives, Inc., and the East-West Center of Hawaii.14 Much of this time she worked as an anthropologist in Indonesia and Hawaii, being in good position to gather intelligence about local communities.
As one example of the CIA connections of these organizations, consider the disclosure by John Gilligan, Director of AID during the Carter administration (1977-81). “At one time, many AID field offices were infiltrated from top to bottom with CIA people. The idea was to plant operatives in every kind of activity we had overseas, government, volunteer, religious, every kind.”15 And Development Alternatives, Inc. is the organization for whom Alan Gross was working when arrested in Cuba and charged with being part of the ongoing American operation to destabilize the Cuban government.
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William Blum is an American, historian and critic of United States foreign policy. He is the author of Killing Hope: U.S. Military & CIA Interventions Since World War II. He has described his life’s mission as: “If not ending, at least slowing down the American Empire. At least injuring the beast. It’s causing so much suffering around the world.“Mr. Blum can be reached through his website http://killinghope.org.
In death, the U.S. media remembered the late Yitzhak Shamir as “a political hard-liner who served two terms as Israeli prime minster” (CNN, 6/30/12), “the hawkish Israeli leader who balked at the idea of trading occupied land for peace with the Palestinians” (MSNBC, 6/30/12) and “a man of iron will and simple tastes” (Washington Post, 6/30/12) who
prided himself on his hard-line views, his relentless determination to hang onto every square inch of what he considered the Land of Israel, and his championing of Jewish settlements in the Israeli-occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip, defying the demands of Israel’s most important ally, the United States.
Neither CNN or MSNBC mentioned Shamir’s terrorist past, but the Post offered a taste of the bloody history with a couple of paragraphs on Shamir’s leadership of Lehi (AKA the Stern Gang), the most extreme Jewish militia in Palestine in the 1940s:
While mainstream Zionist groups forged a truce with the British to combat Nazism during World War II, Mr. Shamir and Lehi fought on, even offering to cooperate with the Germans to rid Palestine of British rule.
Mr. Shamir was the architect of Lehi’s most daring attack, the 1944 assassination in Cairo of Lord Moyne, Britain’s top Middle East official and a close friend of Prime Minister Winston Churchill.”
The New York Times (6/30/12) obituary, which described Shamir as “promoting a muscular Zionism,” included some reporting on his terrorist past, but when it came down to calling things what they are, the Times would only report that some Shamir opponents called him a terrorist:
Many of his friends and colleagues ascribed his character to his years in the underground in the 1940s, when he sent Jewish fighters out to kill British officers whom he saw as occupiers. He was a wanted man then; to the British rulers of the Palestine mandate he was a terrorist, an assassin. He appeared in public only at night, disguised as a Hasidic rabbi. But Mr. Shamir said he considered those “the best years of my life.”
The evidence that Shamir was a terrorist is conclusive. Shamir was one of three men leading Lehi as the group carried out dozens of assassinations, including those of the British diplomat Lord Moyne, in 1944, and the Swedish-born United Nations peace envoy, Count Folke Bernadotte, in 1948.
Lehi joined forces with the Irgun, another Jewish militia responsible for terrorist atrocities, in the 1948 killing of between 100 and 250 Palestinians, including many women and children, in the Palestinian village of Deir Yassin. According to the Nexis news database, no U.S. news story about Shamir’s death mentioned his r0le in what would come to be known as the Deir Yassin Massacre.
The U.S. press isn’t always so delicate in naming someone a terrorist. For instance, in the Times 2004 obituary for Yasser Arafat (11/11/04), reporter Judith Miller reported that the Palestinian leader “began his long political career with high-profile acts of anti-Israel terrorism.”
It’s a double standard based on whether the terrorist was considered a friend or foe by U.S. officialdom. From the outpouring of respect expressed by U.S. officials on Shamir’s passing, one could have predicted a whitewash of his terrorist history in the press.
- Death of a Proud, Self-Avowed Terrorist: Former Israeli PM Yitzhak Shamir Goes to the Great Hague in the Sky (alethonews.wordpress.com)
“Imperialist powers have always labeled as terrorists the people who fight for their right. Irishmen were terrorists until they signed an agreement. Abbas was a terrorist. Now, he is a friend,” Mohamed Hassan, former Ethiopian diplomat in Washington, Beijing and Brussels.
“Israel sees Islam as the greatest danger to its dominance over the Middle East, itself built on cruelty, violation and oppression,” – Professor Benjamin Beit-Hallahmi (Haifa University).
The Ethiopian Muslim majority is sick of the US-Israel backed Meles Zenawi crime dynasty and want regime change. Tens of thousands of Muslims and Christians are demonstrating in various cities especially the country’s capital Addis Ababa against the Meles Zenawi regime. The Ethiopian Orthodox Tewahedo Church’s Holy Synod in exile, Archbishop Abune Melketsekik, and other church leaders have called on the people of Ethiopia to boycott all businesses that are affiliated with dictator Meles Zenawi’s ruling party, TPLF.
Meles Zenawi, the chairman of the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) militant group, is half Eritrean and naturalized Yemeni. He maintains very close relations with both Tel Aviv and Washington. Meles’ legal adviser, Fasil Nahom is half Eritrean and half Jewish.
Meles Zenawi as country’s prime minister visited the Zionist entity in 2004 where he was praised a “friend of Israel” by then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon. There is a 125,000-strong Ethiopian Jewish community in Israel whose members are routinely targeted by the racist Jewish majority.
The Solidarity Movement for a New Ethiopia and several other groups have asked the International Criminal Court (ICC) to investigate Meles Zenawi for the 2003 genocide of the Anuak people of the Gambella region in Ethiopia. However, ICC Prosecutor, Luis Moreno-Ocampo has refused to take an action in this regard.
The Zionist entity’s collaboration with anti-Muslim Ethiopian regimes goes back to King Haile Selassie rule. Selassie’s 3,100-strong ‘Emergency Police’ was trained and supplied with arms by the Israeli armed forces and Mossad. It was in 1971 when Gen. Haim Bar-Lev visited Ethiopia – two strategic islands (Halep and Fatima) were opened for the Israeli Navy. Late Israeli Gen. Matti Peled had admitted that it was Israeli protection which saved the King from three assassination attempts. When Haile Selassie was overthrown by a Marxist coup lead by Mengistu in 1974 – the Zionist regime changed its loyalties to continue their genocide of Muslims in both Ethiopia and Eritrea. Tel Aviv increased its military and diplomatic links with the new Marxist-Leninist regime. The Israeli cooperation has continued under the Ethiopian prime minister Meles, a horrific human rights abuser, in power since the fall of Marxist-Leninist dictator Mengistu Haile Mariam.
Muslim presence in Abyssinia (currently Ethiopia) goes back to the early 7th century when its powerful Orthodox Christian King Ashama (Nejash in Arabic) converted to Islam during the Prophet Muhammad’s (pbuh) life time (in 616 CE).
Thomas C. Mountain, an independent journalist living in Eriterea, recently wrote an article, entitled ’Islam Ignites in Muslim Majority Ethiopia ‘ exposing Washington’s strategy to maintain dictatorships in the African continent.
While Ethiopia is historically portrayed as a Christian country, in reality, most Ethiopians are of the Islamic faith. Starting with the Oromo people, who make up at least half or more of the Ethiopian population, 40 million or more, and are almost entirely Muslim; and then adding the Afars and Somali people of the Ogaden, it becomes indisputable that Ethiopia is a majority Muslim country.
So when for the first time in modern Ethiopian history the leadership of the Islamic community called for the overthrow of the government, and are joined in this call by the leadership of the Ethiopian Christian Orthodox Church, it means only one thing, that the end of the hated USA backed Meles Zenawi regime is finally in sight.
With insurgencies growing in size and strength throughout Ethiopia, in the east, south, west and north; soaring inflation and economic hardships; and now the unprecedented politicization of the leadership of the Muslim community, the consensus of those in the know in the Horn of Africa is that the foreign funded rule of Meles Zenawi may last a year, a year and a half at best, possibly even less.
And once Meles is driven from power and his military either destroyed or having joined the uprising, who will the USA have left to enforce Pax Americana in the strategically critical Horn of Africa?
- Ethiopian Regime war on ancient Ethiopian Monasteries (ethiopiahot.wordpress.com)
You know how every time somebody in law enforcement does something that looks bad, we’re told that we should “wait until the facts are in” before passing judgment? Well, after Lieutenant Pike of the UC Davis Police Department became an internet meme by using high-pressure pepper-spray on peaceful resisters, the campus hired an independent consulting firm to interview everybody they could find, review all the videos and other evidence, review the relevant policies and laws, and issue a final fact-finding report to the university. The university just released that report, along with their summary (PDF link), and the final report is even worse than the news accounts made it seem.
You probably weren’t aware that the protesters warned the university that they were going to be protesting two weeks in advance, were you? The campus, and campus police, had two weeks’ notice to plan for this, and yes, on day one, one question they addressed was, “What if the protesters set up an Occupy encampment?” Two weeks in advance they planned, well, if they do that, then we’ll send in police to remove the tents, and to arrest anybody who tries to stop them. Now, under California law, when planning an operation like this, there’s a checklist they’re supposed to follow when writing the operational plan, specifically to make sure that they don’t forget something important. Had they done so? They would have avoided all four of the important steps they screwed up. When asked about it? Nobody involved was even aware that that checklist existed.
The most important thing that the checklist would have warned them about was do not screw up the chain of command. Let me make clear who was in the chain of command. Under normal circumstances, it runs from university Chancellor Katehi, to campus police Chief Spicuzza, to campus police Lieutenant Davis, to his officers, including one I’ll call Officer Nameless. (The report refers to him by a code letter.) Once the cops arrive on the scene, there’s supposed to be one and only one person in a position to give orders to the other officers on the scene, including any higher-ups who are there (if any). Officer Nameless, who wrote the plan, was put in charge of the scene by Lt. Pike. By law, the officer in charge of the scene is not supposed to get directly involved. He or she (in this case, he) is supposed to stand back where he can see the whole scene, and concentrate on giving orders, and everybody else is supposed to refrain from giving orders. Officer Nameless instead ignored his responsibilities, and waded in, and so did Lt. Pike; Chief Spicuzza sat in her car half a block away, communicating with the radio dispatcher by cell phone, and at one time or another, all three of them, Officer Nameless and Lieutenant Pike and Chief Spicuzza were yelling out contradictory orders.
But before it even came to that point, the student protesters had, with the help of Legal Services, gone over all the relevant state laws, city ordinances, campus ordinances, and campus regulations and concluded that no matter what the Chancellor thought, it was entirely legal for them to set up that camp. When the university’s legal department found out that Chancellor Katehi was going to order the camp removed, they thought they made it clear to her that the students were right.
I kept having to stop and slap my forehead over that one repeated phrase in the report: (this person or that) was under the impression she had made it clear that (some order was given), but nobody else present had that impression. Anybody who is “under the impression that they made it clear” that some order was given who who didn’t put it in writing and who hasn’t had that order paraphrased back to them? Should be slapped. Or at the very least demoted. Unless you actually said it, you didn’t “make it clear.”
It turns out that it is illegal for anybody to lodge on the campus without permission, but the relevant law only applies to people trying to make it their permanent dwelling. The law prohibits non-students from camping on campus for any reason, but neither student affairs nor the one cop sent to look could find any non-students who were there overnight. A campus regulation says that students can’t set up tents without permission, but that regulation is not enforceable by police, only by academic discipline. Campus legal “thought they made it clear” that the law was on the students’ side, but according to multiple witnesses, what they actually said was “it is unclear that you have legal authority to order the police to do this” and Chancellor Katehi heard that as “well, they didn’t say I don’t have that authority, only that it’s not clear.”
Chancellor Katehi, on her part, “thought she made it clear” that when police ordered the students to leave, they were (a) not to wear riot gear into the camp, (b) not to carry weapons of any kind into the camp, (c) were not to use force of any kind against the students, and (d) were not to make any arrests. But all that anybody else on that conference call heard her say out loud was “I don’t want another situation like they just had at Berkeley,” and Chief Spicuzza interpreted that as “no swinging of clubs.”
Chief Spicuzza “thought she made it clear” more than once that no riot gear was to be worn and no clubs or pepper sprayers were to be carried. What Lieutenant Pike said back to her, each time, was, “Well, I hear you say that you don’t want us to, but we’re going to.” And they did, including that now-infamous Mk-9 military-grade riot-control pepper sprayer that he used. Oh, funny thing about that particular model of pepper-sprayer? It’s illegal for California cops to possess or use. It turns out that the relevant law only permits the use of up to Mk-4 pepper sprayers. The consultants were unable to find out who authorized the purchase and carrying, but every cop they asked said, “So what? It’s just like the Mk-4 except that it has a higher capacity.” Uh, no. It’s also much, much higher pressure, and specifically designed not to be sprayed directly at any one person, only at crowds, and only from at least six feet away. The manufacturer says so. The person in charge of training California police in pepper spray says that as far as he knows, no California cop has ever received training, from his office or from the manufacturer, in how to safely use a Mk-9 sprayer, presumably because it’s illegal. But Officer Nameless, when he wrote the action plan for these arrests, included all pepper-spray equipment in the equipment list, both the paint-ball rifle pepper balls and the Mk-9 riot-control sprayers.
The students set up their tents on a Thursday night. Chancellor Katehi ordered the cops to (a) only involve campus police, because she didn’t trust the local cops not to be excessively brutal, and (b) get them out of here by 3 AM Thursday night. Chief Spicuzza had to tell her that that wasn’t physically possible, they couldn’t get enough backup officers from other UC campuses on that short notice, it was going to have to be Friday night at 3 AM. Chancellor Katehi said “no can do,” that they had to be out of there before sunset Friday night, so that the camp wasn’t joined by drunken and stoned Friday night partiers that would endanger the camp and even further endanger cops trying to deal with them — arguably an entirely reasonable objection. So she ordered Chief Spicuzza to get them out of there by 3 PM Friday afternoon. Chief Spicuzza “was under the impression” (oh, look, there’s that phrase again) that she made it clear to the Chancellor that for one thing, it couldn’t be safely done, at 3:00 PM the protesters and passers-by would way outnumber her officers, and for another, it couldn’t be legally done, because there was no way to legally arrest someone for “overnight camping” in the middle of the afternoon. Nobody else who was in that meeting thinks she made that clear, only that she made it clear that she didn’t want to do it but couldn’t explain why not. Still, when she gave the order to Lieutenant Pike, he very definitely did raise the same objections, clearly and unambiguously, backed up by multiple witnesses, who all agree that Chief Spicuzza told him, “This was decided above my level, do it anyway.”
So, there’s Lieutenant Pike. (Who, by the way, for obvious legal reasons since he’s still being investigated by internal affairs and, last I heard, still being sued by his victims, refused to be interviewed by the consultants, so everything we know about his side of this comes from what he told other people and what he wrote in his reports.) As far as he’s concerned, he’s been given an illegal and impossible order: take 40 or so officers – unarmed and unarmored officers – into an angry crowd of 300 to 400 people who aren’t doing anything illegal and make that crowd go away without using any force or getting any of your officers injured. For reasons Stanley Milgram could explain, it does not occur to Lieutenant Pike to disobey this order, so instead, he does the best he can, using his own judgement to decide which parts of his orders and which parts of the law to ignore. Unsurprisingly, it goes badly. Backed into a corner by an angry crowd (which has, by the way, demonstrably left him room to retreat, even with his prisoners, contrary to what he says in his report) that is confronting him with evidence that he is the law-breaker here, not them, he snaps. And rather than take it out on the more-powerful people who put him in this situation, he takes it out on the powerless and peaceful people in front of him, using a high-pressure hose to pump five gallons of capsacin spray into the eyes and mouths of the dozen or twenty people in front of him … and he would have used more if he’d had it, he only stopped when he did, halfway through his third pass down the line, because the sprayer emptied. When he gets back to the station, Chief Spicuzza (who has no idea what’s just happened) congratulates him in front of half the department for how well he just did. And now, as far as he’s concerned, he’s being hung out to dry. We’re apparently supposed to ignore the fact that multiple video sources contradict almost everything about his after-incident report because apparently, in his opinion, he was only following orders.
This is not better than the initial media reports. This is worse. This is an epic textbook in official-violence failure.
- UC Davis: Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi (alethonews.wordpress.com)
Once again, Israel is recruiting university presidents and chancellors. I wonder how these academics can justify not meeting with Palestinians, who have suffered diverse academic assaults from Israel – from ethnic/religious discrimination to their schools being shelled and students killed – while they’re over there. Think of the astronomical wealth of the Israel Lobby, which can fund a multitude of such trips.
JERUSALEM (JTA) – A delegation of U.S. university presidents is in Israel to explore opportunities for academic and research collaboration.
The seminar, which ends July 9, is sponsored by Project Interchange, an educational institute of the American Jewish Committee.
A president of a historically Black college and university, Spelman College President Dr. Beverly Daniel Tatum, is participating in the program the first time.
The delegation was scheduled to meet with senior Israeli government and academic officials and leaders of civil society across the social and political spectrum, and to travel to the West Bank to meet with Palestinian leaders. They were scheduled to network with their counterparts at Tel Aviv University, Hebrew University and the Weizmann Institute, among others.
The group was also set to travel to Sderot, to view the city that has been under fire from rockets from Gaza.
“As chancellor of a top American public research university with a strong international presence and aspirations to build on our existing global relationships, it is important that that I have a deep understanding of Israel and its neighbors,” said seminar delegation chair, University of California Davis Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi.
Some may recall that Katehi was part of scandals at the University of Illinois awhile back in which rich, well-connected students were getting admissions preferences over better qualified applicants, and at Davis, where police pepper sprayed peaceful students.
• Seminar Chair: Linda P.B. Katehi, Chancellor, University of California, Davis
• Louis Agnese, Jr., President, University of the Incarnate Word, San Antonio, TX
• Lawrence Biondi, President, Saint Louis University, St. Louis, MO
• Karen Haynes, President, California State University San Marcos
• Elliot Hirshman, President, San Diego State University
• Dorothy Leland, Chancellor, University of California, Merced
• Harvey Perlman, Chancellor, University of Nebraska-Lincoln
• Beverly Tatum, Spelman College, Atlanta, GA
• Randy Woodson, Chancellor, North Carolina State University, Raleigh, NC
Targeting academics for pro-Israel propaganda began in the 1940s, if not earlier:
With its extraordinary funding, AZEC embarked on a campaign to target every sector of American society, ordering that local committees be set up in every Jewish community in the nation. In the words of AZEC organizer Sy Kenen, it launched “a political and public relations offensive to capture the support of Congressmen, clergy, editors, professors, business and labor.” 
……Grassroots Zionist action groups were organized with more than 400 local committees under 76 state and regional branches. AZEC funded books, articles and academic studies; millions of pamphlets were distributed. There were massive petition and letter writing campaigns. AZEC targeted college presidents and deans, managing to get more than 150 to sign one petition.
Regarding the UC Davis pepper spray incident, Robert May, Distinguished Professor of Philosophy and Linguistics at the University of California at Davis, writes:
I think there is an interesting contrast between the University of Virginia situation and that of Linda Katehi, chancellor here at UC Davis. We now know from the Reynoso report (discussed here) of Katehi’s complicity in the violent act against the innocent students, and her mendacity about her role in the pepper spraying incident; for this she does deserve to be, and ought to be, fired from her position. Yet nary a word to this effect has been heard from the UC Board of Regents nor the President of UC. The campus Academic Senate did finally censure Katehi, but stopped short of calling for her to be fired, which had been recommended by the Senate’s committee that had looked into the incident. As we head off this week to our summer vacations, it is apparently business as usual in the Chancellor’s office.
- Katehi, Reynoso expected to discuss pepper-spray report Tuesday at Capitol (sacbee.com)
- Chancellor Linda Katehi lists her mistakes in UCD pepper-spray incident (sacbee.com)
- UC Davis: Open Letter to Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi (alethonews.wordpress.com)
One of our longstanding arguments about the folly of American policy on Iran-related sanctions is that it is incentivizing rising powers like China and the other BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, and South Africa, along with China) to develop alternatives to U.S.-controlled mechanisms for conducting, financing, and settling the international exchange of goods, services, and capital. As the latest sets of U.S. and European Union sanctions against the Islamic Republic were going into effect, Neelam Deo (a former Indian diplomat who now directs Gateway House, the Indian Council on Global Relations) and Akshay Mathur (head of research and geoeconomics fellow at Gateway House) published a brilliant opinion piece in The Financial Times outlining precisely how such alternative mechanisms are likely to emerge, see here.
Deo and Mathur note at the outset of their article that “two recent developments—the $75 billion bailout contribution from the BRICS countries to the IMF, and the Western push for sanctions against Iran—show how exposed the BRICS economies are to Western financial policies. For decades, they have been successfully co-opted to submit to Western-dominated institutions, leaving them with little motivation to build their own.”
Now, however, “the BRICS must urgently organize to build institutions of mutual economic benefit”; the newest round of Iran-related sanctions from the United States “highlights the urgency of the issue.” The BRICS are “hostage to Western sanctions because the conduits of international finance, trade and transportation use[d] for crude oil trade are controlled by the West. The entire pricing framework is U.S. dollar based. The New York Mercantile Exchange (NYMEX) and London’s International Commodities Exchange (ICE) conduct the largest trade for crude oil futures contracts… There is SWIFT, the global code for electronic banking transactions. In March, SWIFT banned Iran’s banks from conducting business, leaving oil importers like India lurching for payment mechanisms. Ditto with transportation [and insurance] options.”
Deo and Mathur note that “the BRICS are finding creative ways to pay Iran” and to provide insurance coverage for shipments of Iranian crude. But rising powers nonetheless face a daunting structural challenge. Deo and Mathur warn that “the sanctions are an issue for energy exporters like Brazil and Russia too. The Western-dominated system that is strangling Iran, can do the same to others should their geopolitics be deemed inconvenient. Iran today, could be Russia or Brazil tomorrow.”
So what, then, can the BRICS do to rectify these structural imbalances that the United States and its European partners seem all too ready to leverage as a way of keeping rising powers subordinated to Western preferences? Deo and Mathur offer some genuinely creative answers:
“Apart from the already proposed multilateral BRICS Bank, should be a clearing union and insurance club to facilitate international trade, finance and transporation. For instance, though China and India have a deficit with Iran, Brazil and Russia do not. If a new trade settlement system is created—like the Asian Clearing Union establishied in Tehran in 1974 or the International Clearing Union proposed at Bretton Woods in 1944—but with BRICS currencies, Iran can use the Rupees or Renminbi [it earns from exporting oil to India and China] to pay Brazil, and not amass rice and toys. Brazil can use the same system to pay India for its bilateral trade, thereby facilitating multilateral local currency swaps for intra- and inter-BRICS trade. New commodity exchanges can be promoted to enable alternate means of price discovery and benchmarking in currencies.”
Deo and Mathur acknowledge that “activating these regimes will require adjustments. China’s reserves are in dollars; it will have to balance preserving that value with internationalizing the Renminbi—a stated Chinese goal achievable under a new system. External partners like Iran will have to make an effort to increase trade with BRICS to avail of the new system’s benefits. Net importer India will have to offer more competitive products and services within BRICS. In return, net exporters China and Russia may have to patiently hold weaker currencies like the Rupee until a balanced equation is achieved.
Deo and Mathur also acknowledge that “there will be resistance from the U.S. and Europe,” out to preserve “the almighty dollar” and their ability to leverage non-Western powers through hegemonic extraterritorial sanctions—in our assessment, clearly illegal, see here. More broadly, Deo and Mathur admit that “the West has dismissed the workability” of BRICS-led international economic institutions. “But,” they conclude, “if 28 countries in NATO could unite to contain Russia, surely the five nations of BRICS can come together to ensure their geo-economic future.”
Read their article and get a glimpse at what is likely to be an important part of the future.
- Chile Is Latest Country To Launch Renminbi Swaps And Settlement (zerohedge.com)
- BRICS to Announce IMF Contribution at G-20 Meeting, Brazil Says – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Could sanctions on Iran bolster the renminbi? (wantchinatimes.com)
- Iran, the BRICS and Why Gold is Now Money (beta.fool.com)
- India, Iran plan talks to bypass Western sanctions on Tehran (thehindu.com)
Remember the reports that Iran was storing oil in its tanker fleet because it couldn’t sell the oil?
Now that oil prices have shot up according to Reuters:
Commodity markets shot higher for the second time in three days on Tuesday, with oil prices leading the way as they posted one of their biggest, broadest rallies ever as bellicose rhetoric from Iran stoked Mideast supply worries.
Bloomberg reports that those tankers where Iran was previously reportedly storing oil, have sold their cargo and are on the way back:
Thirty-three ships in the 40-strong fleet of crude carriers controlled by Tehran-based NITC, a tanker company owned by Iranian pension funds, provided signals within the past month, IHS Inc. (IHS) data compiled by Bloomberg showed today. That compared with 21 in the corresponding period to June 11.
China, the biggest buyer of Iranian crude, was exempted June 28 from U.S. sanctions that took effect that day. Japan, Singapore and India are among 20 nations that also received waivers. Iran, which faces an EU embargo begun July 1, raised storage on tankers to as much as 42 million barrels by the end of May, the International Energy Agency said June 13. It also stored in the second quarters of 2008 and 2010.
You know, I’m no energy economist, but this sounds like a coup for Iran.
In any case now is a good time to bring up something — I brought this up before on the Gulf2000 list, and the Leveretts have recently briefly mentioned it too — but the US sanctions on Iran are actually illegal, and may lead to trade wars. And ironically, it was the US’s effort at protecting Israel that has made them illegal.
See, after their wars with Israel in the late 1960′s and more specifically after the 1973 war, the Arabs imposed sanctions on Israel through the Arab Oil Embargo. These included “secondary sanctions”. What does “secondary” here mean? The sanctions not only prohibited their own countries from having commercial relations with Israel, but also banned doing business with with any foreign business anywhere that did business with Israel. In other words, they all agreed to not do business with any company — whether French, German or whatever — that was also doing business with Israel. If these companies wanted to do business with the Arabs, they had to pull out of Israel.
The US was naturally quite opposed to this and made a big fuss about the “freedom of trade” etc. It also complained a lot about how the Arabs were trying to force the world to live by their laws and so were “imposing sovereignty” on others through the “extra-territoria” applications of their laws. The US passed laws domestically — called countering laws or blocking laws — that responded to the Arab secondary sanctions by making it illegal for any American firm to respect the Arab’s demand of not doing business with Israel. Laws were passed at the international level too, and trade rules established that prohibited secondary sanctions. In the end the Arabs essentially lost this attempt at isolating Israel through secondary sanctions.
[Is anyone reading this reminded of similar games children play is school playgrounds? I'd hate to sound sexist but it was mostly the girls who imposed these sorts of sanctions on each other. We guys sorta shrugged about it and went back to eating dirt and staring at the sun.]
Now, thanks to AIPAC influence-peddling, it is the US that is playing the role of the Arabs, and Iran is playing the role of the Israelis. The US is imposing secondary sanctions on Iran. According to the US sanctions, no American company can do business with Iran, and no foreign company can do business with Iran and do business with the US. If a foreign company does business with Iran, it is banned from doing business with the US. And since the US is a major source of business, lots of foreign companies have decided to pull out of Iran.
So we have here three actors: The Americans, the Iranians, as well as the authorities of those foreign countries. The foreign countries fall into two broad categories: the Europeans on one side, and the combination of Russians, Chinese, Brazilians, Indians (collectively known as the BRIC nations — the “up and coming” powers.)
Well, here’s the irony. The Americans and the Europeans don’t generally import a lot of oil from Iran. India and China certainly do, and in general the removal of Iran’s oil from the markets means a significant rise in oil prices, somethign that up-and-coming powers do not favor. Brazil has a nuclear power program that includes enrichment, and has been trying to prove it “is able to defend its interests in the context of economic globalization.” Russia is itself trying to stay assertive in the face of a US that won the Cold War.
They take one look at what’s being dealt out to Iran, and they wonder: could we be next?
And if they decide to oppose these sanctions using existing international trade mechanisms, which would include them passing their own countering or blocking laws, then we have a heated trade-war on our hands.
This would not necessarily be limited to the BRICs either. In the past when the US has tried to impose secondary sanctions on British companies, the Brits have responded using their blocking laws, forcing the US to back down. An example was in 1982, in a dispute over the shipments by non-U.S. companies of goods for use in the Soviet Trans-Siberian pipeline, which resulted in the UK’s enforcement of its Protction of Trading Interests Act:
The U.S. Administration at the time attempted to ban such shipments from anywhere in the world if the goods originated from the U.S., used U.S. technology, or were to be exported by subsidiaries of U.S. corporations. A PTIA Order was made and a number of directions were given to prevent certain corporations from complying. Although most of the corporations were British, at least one company was American, and was prohibited from complying in respect of its exports from the U.K. The U.S. ultimately rescinded the relevant regulations controls to shipments by non-U.S. companies of goods for use in the Trans-Siberian pipeline. The U.S. Administration at the time attempted to ban such shipments from anywhere in the world if the goods originated from the U.S., used U.S. technology, or were to be exported by subsidiaries of U.S. corporations. A PTIA Order was made and a number of directions were given to prevent certain corporations from complying. Although most of the corporations were British, at least one company was American, and was prohibited from complying in respect of its exports from the U.K. The U.S. ultimately rescinded the relevant regulations.
And apart from domestic blocking laws, there are international trade laws and rules that prohibit secondary sanctions too. The World Trade Organization for example has a set of specific rules and procedures which the Europeans invoked against the US back in late 1996 when the US Helms-Burton law attempted to black-ball European firms doing business in Iran or Cuba. It appears that today the Eurpeans and US have reached a sort of political deal with each other which involves Europe not invoking the same provisions and challenging the legality of US secondary sanctions on Iran… but how long will that last, and when will various countries decide to stop cooperating?
- EU sanctions on Iran violate intl. law, French lawyer says (alethonews.wordpress.com)
An Israeli journalist who drew on leaked army documents to report the deliberate assassinations of Palestinian leaders was convicted on Thursday, but spared jail time in a plea bargain.
Uri Blau of Haaretz newspaper will do four months community service after confessing to reduced charges of possessing classified information without authorization but “with no intent to harm national security,” Israel’s State Attorney’s Office said in a statement.
Prosecutors had earlier stated Blau could face more serious espionage charges. That provoked protests from journalists who argued Israel’s reputation for media freedom was at stake.
Blau reported in 2008 that top army officers in the occupied West Bank had given shoot-to-kill orders to troops chasing Palestinian gunmen.
The front-page story was based on documents given to Blau by former army conscript Anat Kamm, who had downloaded them, and hundreds of others, from her computer while a clerk with the military’s high command.
Kamm was jailed for four and a half years in October under a separate plea bargain.
Human rights groups have criticized Israel’s policy of assassinating Palestinian leaders since the early days of a Palestinian uprising in 2000.
Haaretz said charging Blau was “unfortunate and sets a precedent in terms of its ramifications on the freedom of press in Israel, and especially on the ability to cover the security apparatus.” Other Israeli journalists echoed the condemnation.
Blau’s plea bargain is subject to formal approval by Tel Aviv District Court.
A recent Reporters Without Borders study ranked Israel 92nd out of 179 countries in terms of press freedom, behind countries such as Congo, Kenya and Serbia.
- Israeli Government to Prosecute Uri Blau for Espionage (richardsilverstein.com)
After the death of the Palestinian leader Yasser Arafat seven years ago, many voices called for an official and open investigation into the cause; they were ignored. Palestinian, Arabic and even international parties have been trying to keep the cause hidden or, at least, away from serious discussion.
There are strong suggestions that those behind Arafat’s death were the Israelis, backed by the US, as they used to announce repeatedly and loudly that he was an obstacle to the peace process. That idea was developed after his famous stance at the second Camp David summit in 1999.
The unknown factor is who helped the Israelis and Americans to assassinate the Palestinian President. It seems obvious that he must have been a Palestinian from the leader’s close coterie. Doubts surround Arafat’s successors who divided his heritage among themselves but did not follow the way that he had set out in the way he treated the Israelis; they opted for another, worse way, which is leading the Palestinians to an unknown end.
Not only Fatah members or PLO factions but also all Palestinians used to ask for a public inquiry to know the reasons for Arafat’s death. The issue is still a cause of discontent among the current Palestinian leadership whose members were ready to occupy his position.
Many of Arafat’s successors across the leadership promised to launch a public inquiry, but they have not done so. They did not even publish the report from the French military hospital where Arafat passed away. That created even more suspicions among Palestinian citizens and factions.
Following an investigation by Aljazeera TV, it now seems almost certain that Arafat was killed by a dose of Polonium, the same radioactive substance which was used to kill the ex-Russian spy Alexander Litvinenko in London in 2006. It is not known yet who was responsible, or how this substance was administered to Arafat. Some say it was inserted through his ear, some through a poisoned kiss, and others a poisoned meal.
There is a prime suspect, but he will not be named easily until a comprehensive, independent investigation has been carried out. Aljazeera’s report, broadcast on Tuesday, did not name exactly who was involved in Arafat’s death; it did, though, prove that he was killed by Polonium which must have been injected or inserted into his body by one of his close aides.
For now, there are some important facts which should be made public about this issue. The first is that Mahmoud Abbas was the main tool used by Arafat’s foes to diminish his power when he was nominated to be the first Palestinian Prime Minster while the President was still alive. That was clearly against Arafat’s will, and his supporters took to the streets in massive demonstrations all over the Palestinian territories calling Abbas a collaborator with the Israelis and Americans. Those demonstrations continued until Abbas was deposed as PM.
After Arafat’s death, Abbas was in control of all of his positions and somewhat miraculously became the only choice to succeed him as President, supported by all Fatah and PLO leaders. Abbas was also welcomed by the Israelis, Arab, US and other international leaders as Arafat’s logical successor and the real partner for peace in the Middle East.
The fact that Mahmoud Abbas refused any kind of investigation into his predecessor’s death increases doubts about plans to keep the cause a secret. It is known that cultures from Arafat’s body were taken several days after his death to be tested in French, Jordanian and Tunisian laboratories, but they were “lost”.
Even the conditions surrounding Arafat’s burial were suspicious. Sheikh Tayssit al-Tamimi, the Palestinian Mufti who led the funeral prayer, confirmed several times on different occasions that there was suspicion regarding Arafat’s death.
Another important point relates to Mohammed Dahlan, who was one of the planned successors of Arafat. In a meeting in one of Gaza’s mosques in 2006, Yasser Abu-Helal, the founder of Al Ahrar Movement, declared that Dahlan had told Hamas leader Abdul Aziz al-Rantissi that his movement must take part in a campaign of incitement against Arafat in 2004 to protect him from being assassinated by the Israelis.
Rantissi refused and the head of the Hamas Political Bureau, Khaled Meshaal, told a press conference that Yasser Arafat was the target of a dirty tricks campaign by Palestinian figures; he said that Hamas would not keep silent if any harm came to President Arafat.
Neverthess, Yasser Arafat was killed and no formal investigations have been conducted. It is important now, following Aljazeera’s investigations, for a public inquiry to be opened by the International Criminal Court, which has the legal authority to conduct such an investigation. This is an issue of international importance, given that the peace process is still trundling on to nowhere. Palestinians need to know who has their best interests at heart, and who killed Yasser Arafat.
- PA Agrees to Exhume Body of Yasser Arafat After Evidence of Radiation Poisoning Alleged (alethonews.wordpress.com)