Friday, 30 October 2015

The Kazakhstan Serendipity: Above Top Secret

Quote; "In 2007 Dimitriy Dey, a local economist, discovered a series of enormous earthworks in the Turgai region of Kazakhstan. He had been searching google earth hoping to find evidence of ancient pyramids in Kazakhstan when he stumbled across a 900ft square with a dotted X inside.



Nasa have recently come on board to help and have now released their latest pictures of the earthworks.
Satellite pictures of a remote and treeless northern steppe reveal colossal earthworks — geometric figures of squares, crosses, lines and rings the size of several football fields, recognizable only from the air and the oldest estimated at 8,000 years old. The largest, near a Neolithic settlement, is a giant square of 101 raised mounds, its opposite corners connected by a diagonal cross, covering more terrain than the Great Pyramid of Cheops. Another is a kind of three-limbed swastika, its arms ending in zigzags bent counterclockwise. Described last year at an archaeology conference in Istanbul as unique and previously unstudied, the earthworks, in the Turgai region of northern Kazakhstan, number at least 260 — mounds, trenches and ramparts — arrayed in five basic shapes.







Dates for the earthworks are speculative, but a nearby Neolithic settlement may date them as far back as 6000 BC. 
 With no genetic material to analyze — neither of the two mounds that have been dug into is a burial site — Dr. Matuzeviciute said she used optically stimulated luminescence, a method of measuring doses from ionizing radiation, to analyze the construction material, and came up with a date from one of the mounds of around 800 B.C. Other preliminary studies push the earliest date back more than 8,000 years, which could make them the oldest such creations ever found. Other materials yield dates in the Middle Ages. Mr. Dey said some of the figures might have been solar observatories akin, according to some theories, to Stonehenge in England and the Chankillo towers in Peru.
 This is possibly yet another Neolithic site that raises questions about the people of this era. It would suggest a highly organised, settled community who put a huge amount of time and energy into constructing these mounds. Were they also used as solar/lunar observatories? And is it possible the structures were designed to be seen from above?" Go to: http://www.abovetopsecret.com/forum/thread1090656/pg1

"Prison Kids: A Crime Against America's Children"

Quote; "There are more than 50,000 children locked in American jails and prisons on any given Monday. More than 67 percent of them are children of color. A new documentary from Fusion examines how they end up there and how their time behind bars impacted their lives.
Prison Kids: A Crime Against America’s Children,” features interviews with people who spent their youth in the juvenile justice system. The result is an hour-long doc - narrated by actress Gabourey Sidibe - that not only tells their personal stories, but exposes the far-reaching tentacles of a system that statistics show leads to increased probability of adult incarceration, sexual victimization and suicide for the minors who are tangled in it.
Fusion also started a petition asking the federal government to ban solitary confinement for minors.

The full-length “Prison Kids: A Crime Against America’s Children” is available now on Fusion. Go to:  http://www.colorlines.com/articles/watch-%E2%80%98prison-kids%E2%80%99-documentary-explores-juvenile-justice-system

Britain Pursues Happiness to its Logical Conclusion: The Public Philanthropists of the Food Bank are Allocated Security.



Quote; "Job advisers are set to be placed in food banks across the country, Iain Duncan Smith has told MPs.
The work and pensions secretary said he would like to see a trial scheme in Manchester rolled out nationwide after it was given "very strong feedback".
The Trussell Trust, which operates food banks, says the facilities were used more than one million times in 2014-15.
It welcomed closer co-operation but said talks were needed over the feasibility of the job adviser idea.
Speaking at a meeting of the Commons Work and Pensions Select Committee, Mr Duncan Smith said: "I am trialling at the moment a job adviser situating themselves in the food bank for the time that the food bank is open and we are already getting very strong feedback about that."
If the trial was successful and other food banks are willing, he said he would like to roll it out across the UK.
 
Robert Devereux, the most senior civil servant in the Department for Work and Pensions, told the MPs staff were in the food bank one day a week with phonelines available at other times.
Claimants are given advice on how to receive welfare payments as well as finding work, he said.
The advisers involved in the trial had found that food bank users tended to be more interested in where they might find work than in simply resolving issues with their benefits, he added. As a result, the advisers were teaming up with local job clubs to point people towards vacancies.

 

'Grim reality'

Frank Field, the Labour MP who chairs the committee, called it a "good reform" and said he believed the sooner it could be rolled out the better.
But Labour's welfare spokesman Owen Smith said it showed the "grim reality" that emergency food aid had become an established part of the welfare system.
"Under the Tories, food bank use has risen exponentially," he said. "This is in no small part due to the secretary of state's incompetent and callous running of the DWP.
"It is of course important that people are able to better access advice and support from DWP staff. However, the fact that Iain Duncan Smith is so relaxed about extreme food poverty that he has allowed it to become an accepted element of the national planning for the DWP is deeply worrying."
And the UK Independence Party accused the government of "lifting" the policy from its election manifesto, in which it pledged to send 800 advisers into food banks to help users with employment, legal, financial and health matters.
"Just funding DWP advisers in job centres won't tackle these kind of underlying problems that prevent people working," said Suzanne Evans, who co-ordinated the manifesto.
"Ideally, I'd prefer to see Iain Duncan Smith fully roll out UKIP's policy and appoint independent advisers who can tackle food bank users' problems at a number of levels. That will lead to better outcomes for them, their families, and for us all."

 

'Dialogue needed'*

The Trussell Trust said it applauded efforts to get food banks and Job Centres to work together.
"We welcome the government's interest in exploring new ways that the DWP might help people at food banks who have hit crisis as a result of problems with welfare delivery," it said.
"But we would also suggest that there first needs to be a dialogue between the DWP and The Trussell Trust network about the possible challenges and opportunities that hosting DWP advisers in foodbanks could afford.
"The Trussell Trust has had positive discussions with some MPs about whether piloting DWP advisers in their local food banks could be beneficial, but we have not yet had the opportunity for dialogue with Iain Duncan Smith or DWP advisers about the feasibility of rolling out this idea."" Go to: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-politics-34658755?ns_mchannel=social&ns_campaign=bbc_daily_politics_and_sunday_politics&ns_source=facebook&ns_linkname=news_central

*Yeah; "Eat it scum suckers!"


For as any good judge knows "public philanthropy" (un-like "public happiness"), is an oxymoron.

"Poppy Fascism" Exemplifies U.K's Totalitarian Culture


Quote: "It’s that time of year again – when Britain’s “poppy fascism” dominates public life. Television presenters are perhaps the most conspicuous exponents, whereby the paper facsimile of the little red flower must be donned on all lapels.

Now weeks ahead of the official commemoration day, more and more Britons, including TV personalties, are pinning the poppy in public.

It may seem innocuous, but there is a disturbing authoritarianism to the increasing custom. Those who don’t wear the symbol commemorating Britain’s war dead are liable to be castigated and abused for being “traitors”.

The BBC is a classic example. The publicly owned state broadcaster says that its presenters and reporters have the option of not wearing the red poppy. But in practice such is the peer pressure and jingoistic mood of modern Britain that all BBC staff will have to conform to a personal display of the red floral tribute. Bet on it.

Some brave television figures refuse to go along with the established “norm”. It was Channel 4 news presenter Jon Snow who coined the phrase “poppy fascism” a few years ago when he was publicly berated by BBC journalists and other media outlets for refusing to don the flower during his nightly broadcasts. It remains to be seen if the Channel 4 news anchor will this year cave to public pressure – a pressure which seems to be growing every year.

Ever since 1919, Britain and its Commonwealth states, including Australia, Canada and New Zealand hold Remembrance Day on November 11.

It marks the armistice of the First World War in 1918. The first commemoration was held by Britain’s King George V who wore a red poppy, thus inaugurating a tradition that continues to this day. The delicate flower was commonly seen on the battlefields of Belgium and France and came to symbolise the millions of soldiers killed during the four-year-old war.

Across Britain, Remembrance Day is marked by sombre ceremonies in towns and cities during which poppy wreathes are laid at war memorials. The biggest event is held at the Cenotaph in London’s Whitehall. Queen Elizabeth, Prime Minister David Cameron and other political leaders will be among the chief dignitaries, along with senior members of Britain’s armed forces.

So what, you may ask, is objectionable about Britain’s annual Remembrance?

In its early observance, the event was indeed a momentous mourning for the millions who died in the First World War. It was an occasion to vow “never again” should mankind be plagued with such horror.

However, the massive demonstration of grieving and repudiation of war has since given way to an obscene glorification of war. The danger of such co-option was there from the beginning when King George V led the first Remembrance Day. For the British monarch – whose cousins included Germany’s Kaiser Wilhelm II and other European aristocrats – personified the basic background to the conflict. It was an imperialist squabble that exploded into a conflagration that consumed up to 18 million ordinary civilians among the warring nations.

From the very outset therefore, the British commemoration was an opportune way to rehabilitate the monarch and the state’s ruling class who had largely precipitated the war, along with their European elites.

It is a heinous indictment that only two decades after the end of the First World War, the world would be plunged into an even greater conflagration of the Second World War, which resulted in nearly 80 million dead – more than four-fold more. The subsequent war had its antecedents in the imperialist rivalries of the first. Why a second more terrible war should happen was because the war-making imperialist state apparatus had never been held to account. The British rulers were able to deftly reinvent themselves in the eyes of their public as “victors” instead of being seen, as they should have been, as warmongering villains.

To be fair to honourable exceptions, many genuine anti-war Britons were aware of the disgraceful and dangerous co-option by the ruling class. During the 1920s, a movement began which saw war remembrances conducted with white poppies, instead of the red ones that came to be associated with the official event. White poppies are still worn to this day and that tradition has been reinvigorated by campaign groups like Stop the War Coalition.

Nevertheless, Britain has become a discernibly more jingoistic country in which the red poppy has taken on an Orwellian symbolism. Television presenters are dragooned into wearing it, schools and workplace are expected to display it. It has become a badge of loyalty to the state, and those who decline to wear the poppy are fingered as treacherous or disrespectful to “our troops”.

A major cause of the cultural shift is that Britain has become a more warmongering state over the past 20 years. True, it was always a belligerent state, playing the bulldog role to the more powerful and even more warmongering United States.

But former Prime Minister Tony Blair’s criminal partnership with Washington in invading Afghanistan and Iraq has unleashed a virtual permanent state of war. British troops are still stationed in Afghanistan and will be for at least another year. Blair’s warmongering has been continued by David Cameron who launched NATO strikes on Libya in 2011 and who is moving to deploy British warplanes to bomb Syria – without the consent of the Syrian government.

When Cameron joins Queen Elizabeth in laying wreathes at the Cenotaph in London, they will be followed in their footsteps by former British prime ministers, including Tony Blair. Together, they will be honouring not only the dead of the First World War, but British veterans who took part in all subsequent wars, including the destruction of Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya and countless other colonial wars in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. Britain’s dirty war in Northern Ireland will also be exonerated.

In other words, this is not a solemn regret for the dead or for war.

Not a bit of it. It is the warmongering British capitalist state apparatus indulging in an exercise of sanitising Britain’s history of illegal wars, including its present role in Syria. It deifies the war criminal class, which is then “authorised” to keep repeating its crimes. If that’s not fascism, then what is?

Britain’s official war commemoration is certainly not a fitting tribute to victims of war. Because if it were then there would a commitment to stopping wars. But as history shows, Britain’s warmongering has proliferated over the years. That in turn is because the upper echelons of British class society use war commemorations as a cloak to hide their vile belligerence.

A fitting Remembrance Day would be for British citizens to call for the prosecution of Tony Blair and David Cameron as war criminals.

But when British news channels are falling over themselves to wear red poppies out of unthinking “loyalty” or fear of being labelled traitors – that shows how disturbingly authoritarian and conformist British society has become."
Go to: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43274.html


"Who is the red poppy designed to remember? The answer might surprise you

Many people in the UK wear a red poppy at this time of year out of a laudable desire to honour and remember the victims of war.
I have often been told by red poppy wearers that they wish to commemorate all those killed in war. It comes as a surprise to some people to discover that this is not the stated purpose of those who produce the red poppy, the Royal British Legion.
 According to the Legion, the red poppy does not even commemorate all the British dead.
The Legion is quite explicit in stating that the purpose of the red poppy is to honour British military dead. At a stretch, they will commemorate allied military dead. But civilian dead don’t get a look in.
What about civilian stretcher bearers in the Blitz, killed as they rushed to save the lives of others? Shouldn’t they be honoured on Remembrance Day? No, says the Royal British Legion.
As the Legion would have it, the poppies they produce do not honour the innocent children killed in the bombing of (say) Coventry, let alone the equally innocent children killed in Dresden.
If you click on the “What we remember” link on the Royal British Legion’s website, you will found this blatant statement:
“The Legion advocates a specific type of Remembrance connected to the British Armed Forces, those who were killed, those who fought with them and alongside them.”
I do not wish to engage in such partial and sectarian remembrance. But it gets worse. The front page of this year’s Poppy Appeal website includes a large picture of a current soldier, with the headline:
“The poppy doesn’t only support veterans of the past”.
Current members of the forces are now given at least equal, if not more prominent attention, by the Royal British Legion on the web. The Legion clearly has a political position of encouraging support for the British armed forces as an institution, and by implication supporting war as a means of addressing conflict and celebrating military values such as unquestioning obedience.
Of course, the Legion has every right to adopt this position and to make an argument for it. But let’s not pretend it’s politically neutral.
Despite all this, the Legion does some good work. Their website includes a relatively prominent section about supporting veterans with mental health problems. Sadly, this is overshadowed by all the nationalism, militarism and romanticising of war with which their publicity is glutted.
I want to commemorate all those killed, injured and bereaved in war. That’s why I wear a white poppy, symbolising the need to remember all victims of war and to honour them by working for peace in the present and the future.
You can buy a white poppy at http://www.ppu.org.uk/ppushop.
" Go to:  https://symonhill.wordpress.com/2015/10/26/who-is-the-red-poppy-designed-to-remember-you-might-be-surprised/


Also see; "The Cold Bolt" Go to:  http://gkhales.blogspot.co.uk/2014/04/the-cold-bolt.html

Monday, 26 October 2015

"Sick Sophistry - BBC News on the Afghan Hospital Mistakenly Bombed by the United States": MediaLens Alert


Quote; "One of the defining features of the corporate media is that Western crimes are ignored or downplayed. The US bombing of a Médecins Sans Frontières hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, on the night of October 3, is an archetypal example.
At least twenty-two people were killed when a United States Air Force AC-130 repeatedly attacked the hospital with five strafing runs over the course of more than an hour, despite MSF pleas to Afghan, US and Nato officials to call off the attack. The hospital's main building, which contains the emergency operating room and recovery rooms, was heavily damaged. Dave Lindorff noted:
'the hospital was deliberately set ablaze by incendiary weapons, and the people inside not incinerated were killed by a spray of bullets and anti-personnel flechettes.'
Lindorff added:
'The AC-130 gunship is not a precision targeting weapon, but a weapons system designed to spread death over a wide swath.'
Shockingly, MSF had already informed US military forces of the precise coordinates of the hospital in order to prevent any attacks. Indeed, the hospital is:
'a well-known and long-established institution with a distinctive shape operating in a city that until recently was under full [Afghan] government control. That the US/NATO command did not clearly know the function of that structure is inconceivable.'
MSF were unequivocal in their condemnation of the American attack. The hospital was 'intentionally targeted' in 'a premeditated massacre'.  It was, they said, a 'war crime'. The organisation rejected US assurances of three inquiries – by the US, Nato and the Afghan government. Instead, MSF demanded an independent international investigation.
In the days following the attack, the US changed its official story several times. At one point, as Glenn Greenwald observes, the dominant narrative from the US and its Afghan allies was that the bombing had not been an accident, but that it had been justified because the Taliban had been using the hospital as a base; an outrageous claim that MSF vehemently rejected. It was even reported that an American tank had later forced its way into the hospital compound, potentially destroying evidence of the war crime that had just taken place.
Yes, the bombing was reported in the 'mainstream' media; sometimes with harrowing footage of ruined hospital corridors and rooms. Hospital beds were even shown where patients had burned to death. But the US bombing did not receive the extensive headline coverage and editorial outrage that it deserved.
If you are unsure of that, just imagine the response of the British media if it had been a Russian gunship that had bombed a hospital with the loss of 22 lives, despite pleas from doctors to call off the attack. Western leaders would have instantly condemned the Russian bombing as a 'war crime', and the corporate media would have taken their lead from the pronouncements coming out of the offices of power in Washington and London.
By contrast, we have not found a single editorial in any UK national newspaper condemning the US bombing of the hospital or calling for an independent investigation. This is one more example of the dramatic subservience of the corporate media to the state and indeed its long-term complicity in state crimes against humanity."
....and...."

Sopel's 'Mistake'

On BBC News at Ten on October 15, 2015, BBC North America correspondent Jon Sopel told viewers over footage of the ravaged Kunduz hospital that it had been 'mistakenly bombed by the Americans'. Not intentionally bombed, as MSF were saying, but 'mistakenly bombed'. BBC News were thereby adopting the Pentagon perspective presented earlier by General John Campbell, the US senior commander in Afghanistan, when he claimed that:
'A hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility'.
In fact, the US has done so before, many times. In November 2004, the first target of the huge American ground assault on Fallujah, following several weeks of bombing, was the city's General Hospital. This was a 'war crime', Noam Chomsky noted, and it was even depicted on the front page of the New York Times, but without it being labelled or recognised as such by the paper:
'the front page of the world's leading newspaper was cheerfully depicting war crimes for which the political leadership could be sentenced to severe penalties under U.S. law, the death penalty if patients ripped from their beds and manacled on the floor happened to die as a result.'
Going further back in time, US veterans of the Vietnam war have reported that hospitals in Cambodia and Laos were 'routinely listed' among targets to be struck by American forces. In 1973, Newsweek magazine quoted a former US army intelligence analyst saying that:
'The bigger the hospital, the better it was'.
And now, in the case of the MSF hospital in Kunduz, Associated Press reported that:
'US analysts knew Afghan site was hospital'.
Moreover, it has since emerged that the American crew of the AC-130 gunship even questioned whether it was legal to attack the hospital.
Our repeated challenges on Twitter to Sopel and his BBC News editor Paul Royall were ignored. Is this really how senior BBC professionals should behave when publicly questioned about a serious breach of impartiality? Simply deign not to answer?
However, one of our readers emailed Sopel and did extract a remarkable response from the BBC North America correspondent which was kindly forwarded to us.
Sopel wrote in his email:
'At this stage whether the bombing of the hospital in Kunduz was deliberate or accidental is the subject of an investigation - and I know there are doubts about the independence of the inquiry - but what it most certainly WAS was mistaken. Given the outrage the bombing has provoked, the humiliating apology it has forced the US into, the PR disaster it has undoubtedly been, how can anyone describe it as anything other than mistaken? If I had used the word accidentally you might have had a point.'
But this is, at best, disingenuous nonsense from Sopel. Most people watching his piece, and hearing him say that the hospital had been 'mistakenly bombed by the Americans', would have assumed he meant that the Americans had not intended to bomb the hospital rather than that bombing the hospital was misguided.
As we saw above, the notion that US forces did not know the target was a hospital is the Pentagon propaganda claim, and is not the view of MSF. Moreover, it contradicts the evidence that was both available at the time of Sopel's BBC News report and what has since come to light (that the US aircrew actually questioned the legality of the strike on a hospital). Christopher Stokes, general director of MSF, told Associated Press that the US bombing was 'no mistake'.
'The extensive, quite precise destruction of this hospital ... doesn't indicate a mistake. The hospital was repeatedly hit'.
The rest of Sopel's remarks in the exchange are irrelevant (the bravery of war journalists), verging on cringeworthy (his proud support of MSF with a standing order).
Sopel's attempt to exploit 'the outrage', 'the humiliating apology' and 'the PR disaster' to justify his use of 'mistakenly bombed' is desperate sophistry. Is he really trying to say that a war crime is 'mistaken' because it is a 'PR disaster', requiring a 'humiliating apology'?
Perhaps the airstrike was a 'mistake' in much the same way that the killing of eight Afghan schoolboys by US-led troops in 2009 was a 'mistake'? This was a 'mistake' that Nato brushed away with payments of $2,000 for each dead child, in a kind of macabre 'fire sale'.
Perhaps the airstrike was a 'mistake' in much the same way as the 2003 invasion of Iraq, in the eyes of Bridget Kendall, the BBC diplomatic correspondent. She declared on BBC News at Six:
'There's still bitter disagreement over invading Iraq. Was it justified or a disastrous miscalculation?' (BBC1, March 20, 2006)
That the Iraq invasion was, in fact, an illegal and immoral war of aggression – indeed, the 'supreme international crime' judged by the Nuremberg standard of war crimes – was not a permissible description for BBC News.
But that is the ideological norm shaping corporate media output and 'mainstream' debate. Western political and military leaders may occasionally make 'mistakes' or 'disastrous miscalculations'. But their essential intent is always honourable: to 'keep the Taliban at bay' (Sopel again), to destroy Islamic State or to 'bring peace to the Middle East'.
We asked John Pilger to comment on Jon Sopel's report for BBC News and his subsequent remarks on email. Pilger told us (via email, October 19, 2015):
'Serious journalism is about trying to set the record straight with compelling evidence. What is striking about Jon Sopel's report is that he offers not a glimpse of journalistic evidence to support his assertion that the US attack on the hospital was "mistaken" - thus calling into question facts presented by MSF: facts that have not been refuted and he makes no attempt to refute. Neither is the dissembling by the US military challenged by Sopel. Instead, he is "certain" the attack was mistaken. What is the basis of his "certainty"? He doesn't say; and he clearly feels under no compulsion to say. Instead, in full defensive cry, he tells us what an experienced frontline reporter he is, implying that his word is enough. Well, I have reported more wars than Sopel has had White House briefings, and I know - as he knows - that journalism of this kind is no more than a feeble echo of the official line. He does reveal his agency by telling us - quite unabashed -- that President Obama has "very little option" but to continue his campaign of destruction in Afghanistan. Some might call this apologetics; actually, it's anti-journalism.'
Perhaps it is not surprising that the header photo at the top of Sopel's Twitter page should show him listening respectfully to US President Obama. The tragic irony is that Obama, the 2009 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, has just committed a war crime in bombing Médecins Sans Frontières, the 1999 winner of the Nobel Peace Prize.
DC

Suggested Action

If you decide to contact a journalist in response to our alert, please keep the tone civil. We do not condone abusive language.
Jon Sopel, BBC North America correspondent
Email: jon.sopel@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @BBCJonSopel
Paul Royall, editor of both BBC News at Six and News at Ten
Email: paul.royall@bbc.co.uk
Twitter: @paulroyall
Please forward any replies to us:
editor@medialens.org
 " Go to: http://www.medialens.org/index.php/alerts/alert-archive/2015/804-sick-sophistry-bbc-news-on-the-afghan-hospital-mistakenly-bombed-by-the-united-states.html

Sunday, 25 October 2015

Has "Hidden Agenda" Become the Default Setting for U.S Munitions?: Medicins Sans Frontieres Opposes T.T.P #Kunduz


Quote; "Had the President of Nobel Peace Prize-winning Doctors Without Borders not warned us of the “imminent threat to global health” posed by the TPP, would these 22 doctors and patients have lost their lives early Saturday?
“I don’t know exactly how long, but it was maybe half an hour afterwards that they stopped bombing. I went out with the project coordinator to see what had happened. What we saw was the hospital destroyed, burning,” described nurse Lajos Zoltan Jecs of the U.S. bombardment of a hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan.
 Harsh criticism and skepticism surround what is being
labeled an errant U.S. bombardment of a hospital in Kunduz that left 22 people dead — many of them volunteers with Médecins sans Frontières (Doctors without Borders, the humanitarian aid agency) — but doubt lingers about the vague official story for a reason. 

Doctors Without Borders Calls Airstrike a War Crime
Why did they have to blow up the whole hospital?” pleaded Nasratullah, whose 25-year-old cousin Akbar was among doctors killed in the bombing. “We know that the Americans are very clever. If they can target a single person in a car from their planes, why did they have to blow up the whole building?”
The ostensible explanation according to rumor centered on reports Taliban forces had entered the location and were using the cover of the hospital to fire on coalition forces.
Christopher Stokes, MSF General Director, irately stated, “Not a single member of our staff reported fighting inside the MSF hospital compound prior to the U.S. airstrike Saturday morning. The hospital was full of MSF staff, patients, and their caretakers. It is 12 MSF staff members and ten patients, including three children, who were killed in the attack.”
Is something being overlooked?
“U.S. forces conducted an airstrike in Kunduz City at 2:15 am [local time] on 3 October against individuals threatening the force. The strike may have resulted in collateral damage to a nearby medical facility. This incident is under investigation,” stated international coalition spokesperson, Col. Brian Tribus.
“This attack is abhorrent and a grave violation of international humanitarian law,” declared MSF President, Meinie Nicolai. “We demand total transparency from coalition forces. We cannot accept that this horrific loss of life will simply be dismissed as ‘collateral damage.’”



Reports from the scene indicate MSF had not only notified all warring parties in the region of the exact GPS coordinates for the hospital and its outlying buildings, but that doctors immediately notified forces the moment the hospital came under fire from a U.S. airstrike — and, even then, the attack continued for a full 30 minutes.
Stokes found that suggestion wholly inadequate, adding:
“Under clear presumption that a war crime has been committed, MSF demands that a full and transparent investigation into the event be conducted by an independent international body. Relying only on an internal investigation by a party to the conflict would be wholly insufficient.”
So why did the attack continue, much less happen in the first place?

Doctors Without Borders Vocally Opposes the TPP

If circumstances of any incident appear not to add up, it’s pertinent to thoroughly examine the current narrative for signs the State is attempting to mold public opinion — because it is there you will find the truth that you’re not being told.
In the case of MSF, a massive treaty cum trade deal involving U.S. interests in another part of the world from the tragedy in Kunduz can offer, perhaps, insight which might otherwise seem unrelated. As it turns out, MSF have been particularly vocal critics of the impending Trans-Pacific Partnership — and their criticism hasn’t gone unnoticed.
As reported in the National Journal in May:
“It’s not usual business for us, and the reason is because we’re very worried,” explained Judit Rius Sanjuan, who oversees Doctors Without Borders drug access campaign, in a phone interview. “We are doing anything we can to make sure the public is aware.”
Though the Nobel Prize-winning group has actively but reservedly opposed the massive TPP deal for years, recent letters to President Obama and a campaign of subway ads on the D.C. Metro show a more urgent, public push. Sanjuan admitted such a robust effort “is not usual practice for us.”
What is so pressing for the public to know that it led the group to abandon its typically subdued tone?
Simply, drug costs. Specifically, the intellectual property and patent laws that will favor drug companies should the TPP take effect.

Coincidentally, TPP Negotiations Are Wrapping Up Today

Negotiations reached a head over the weekend for the 12-country Trans-Pacific Partnership, as Australia and the U.S. attempted to hammer out differences over intellectual property rules for next-generation biologic medicines.
Though the U.S. seeks to keep a 12-year period in place for pharmaceutical companies to retain exclusive rights over clinical data, Australian Trade Minister Andrew Robb reportedly won’t budge past a five year limit. At issue is data exclusivity — the longer the information is held, the longer it takes for generics to reach the market.
“Australia’s current arrangements are completely adequate and any proposed changes are non-negotiable, this is a red line issue for us,” asserted Robb.
After five days of marathon talks for the TPP in Atlanta, negotiations were pushed back again — but a vote could come as soon as Monday night.

Protecting Profit vs. Saving Lives

“It would force them to change the law of many of these countries that are currently negotiating to create new intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical drugs, including but not limited to patents,” Sanjuan explained about the deal as exposed by WikiLeaks in 2013. “The effects of these new obligations would limit generic competition and therefore increase the cost of medicine.”
This has put Médecins sans Frontières “at odds with the White House,” as the National Journal delicately described. A recent letter to Obama from MSF clearly alluded to the humanitarian nature of the group’s opposition to the trade deal:
“MSF believes this is essential to closing the gap in access to medicines to millions of people around the world. The TPP could be an opportunity to make significant progress toward these goals. Instead, in its current state, the TPP is a threat to the health of millions.”
As evidenced in the Kunduz hospital bombing and numerous military campaigns in the Middle East and elsewhere, the human toll likely isn’t the priority first called to mind by the U.S. government.
Profit, on the other hand, must be protected no matter the human cost.
After this attack, MSF decided to pull its operations from Kunduz for the foreseeable future. As Jecs lamented,
“The hospital, it has been my workplace and home for several months. Yes, it is just a building. But it is so much more than that. It is healthcare for Kunduz. Now it is gone. What is the benefit of this? Destroying a hospital and so many lives, for nothing. I cannot find words for this.”
Was Doctors Without Borders accidentally bombed by US -- or is there something we're not being told? With the number of questions being raised, we will continue to look into the incident further.
UPDATE: Doctors Without Borders released a statement following the conclusion of TPP negotiations in Atlanta:
“Doctors Without Borders/Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) expresses its dismay that TPP countries have agreed to United States government and multinational drug company demands that will raise the price of medicines for millions by unnecessarily extending monopolies and further delaying price-lowering generic competition. The big losers in the TPP are patients and treatment providers in developing countries. Although the text has improved over the initial demands, the TPP will still go down in history as the worst trade agreement for access to medicines in developing countries, which will be forced to change their laws to incorporate abusive intellectual property protections for pharmaceutical companies.”" Go to: http://theantimedia.org/doctors-without-borders-bombing-tpp/












Friday, 23 October 2015

"Benefit Sanctions: Britain's Secret Penal System" Dr. David Webster


Quote; "Few people know that the number of financial penalties (‘sanctions’) imposed on benefit claimants by the Department of Work and Pensions now exceeds the number of fines imposed by the courts. In Great Britain in 2013, there were 1,046,398 sanctions on Jobseeker’s Allowance claimants, 32,128 on Employment and Support Allowance claimants, and approximately 44,000 on lone parent recipients of Income Support. By contrast, Magistrates’ and Sheriff courts imposed a total of only 849,000 fines.
Sanctioned benefit claimants are treated much worse than those fined in the courts. The scale of penalties is more severe (£286.80 - £11,185.20 compared to £200 - £10,000). Most sanctions are applied to poor people and involve total loss of benefit income. Although there is a system of discretionary ‘hardship payments’, claimants are often reduced to hunger and destitution by the ban on application for the first two weeks and by lack of information about the payments and the complexity of the application process. The hardship payment system itself is designed to clean people out of resources; all savings or other sources of assistance must be used up before help is given.
Decisions on guilt are made in secret by officials who have no independent responsibility to act lawfully; since the Social Security Act 1998 they have been mere agents of the Secretary of State. These officials are currently subject to constant management pressure to maximise penalties, and as in any secret system there is a lot of error, misconduct, dishonesty and abuse. The claimant is not present when the decision on guilt is made and is not legally represented. While offenders processed in the court system cannot be punished before a hearing, and if fined are given time to pay, the claimant’s punishment is applied immediately. Unlike a magistrate or sheriff, the official deciding the case does not vary the penalty in the light of its likely impact on them or their family. If the claimant gets a hearing (and even before the new system of ‘Mandatory Reconsideration’ only 3 per cent of sanctioned claimants were doing so), then it is months later, when the damage has been done. ‘Mandatory reconsideration’, introduced in October 2013, denies access to an independent Tribunal until the claimant has been rung up at home twice and forced to discuss their case with a DWP official in the absence of any adviser – a system which is open to abuse and has caused a collapse in cases going to Tribunal.
Yet the ‘transgressions’ (DWP’s own word) which are punished by this system are almost exclusively very minor matters, such as missing a single interview with a Jobcentre or Work Programme contractor, or not making quite as many token job applications as the Jobcentre adviser demands.


How did we get to this situation? Until the later 1980s, the social security system saw very little use of anything that could be called a sanction. Unemployment benefits were seen as part of an insurance scheme, with insurance-style conditions. Any decision on ‘disqualification’ (as it was called) from unemployment benefit was made by an independent Adjudication Service, with unrestricted right of appeal to an independent Tribunal. The maximum disqualification was 6 weeks, and those disqualified had a right to a reduced rate of Supplementary Benefit assessed on the normal rules.
‘Sanctions’ are almost entirely a development of the last 25 years. The British political class has come to believe that benefit claimants must be punished to make them look for work in ways the state thinks are a good idea. Yet the evidence to justify this does not exist. A handful of academic papers, mostly from overseas regimes with milder sanctions, suggest that sanctions may produce small positive effects on employment. But other research shows that their main effect is to drive people off benefits but not into work, and that where they do raise employment, they push people into low quality, unsustainable jobs. This research, and a torrent of evidence from Britain’s voluntary sector, also shows a wide range of adverse effects. Sanctions undermine physical and mental health, cause hardship for family and friends, damage relationships, create homelessness and drive people to Food Banks and payday lenders, and to crime. They also often make it harder to look for work. Taking these negatives into account, they cannot be justified.
Benefit sanctions are an amateurish, secret penal system which is more severe than the mainstream judicial system, but lacks its safeguards. It is time for everyone concerned for the rights of the citizen to demand their abolition.

David Webster’s written and oral evidence to the House of Commons Work and Pensions Committee inquiry into Benefit Sanctions beyond the Oakley Review is available on the Parliament.uk website and and his other papers on sanctions are available via Child Poverty Action Group. 
" Go to: http://www.crimeandjustice.org.uk/resources/benefit-sanctions-britains-secret-penal-system

"David Cameron Challenged Twice in a Minute over Disability Rights Violations" Black Triangle


Quote; "The prime minister has had to defend his record on disability rights twice in a minute, after being questioned about both a UN inquiry and the death of a north London man failed by the discredited work capability assessment.
Both questions were raised following intense lobbying of Labour and the SNP by grassroots campaign groups Black Triangle and Disabled People Against Cuts.
David Cameron was first asked by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, in the weekly prime minister’s questions, if he would “co-operate fully” with the UN’s inquiry into “grave and systematic” violations of its disability convention by the UK.
Corbyn told the prime minister that it was “very sad news indeed” that such an inquiry was necessary, and asked him to pledge to “publish in full the government’s response to it”.
It had earlier emerged that although a team from the UN’s committee on the rights of persons with disabilities (CRPD) are in the UK questioning scores of disabled people as part of their inquiry – the existence of which was first revealed by Disability News Service (DNS) last August – a final report on their findings may not be published until 2017.
Among the issues being raised during the inquiry – which is being carried out under conditions of strict confidentiality – are believed to be the government’s decision to close the Independent Living Fund; cuts to legal aid; benefit cuts and sanctions, including the impact of the work capability assessment (WCA); the severe shortage of accessible, affordable housing; the impact of the bedroom tax on disabled people; cuts to social care; and the rise in disability hate crime.
Cameron told Corbyn that he would co-operate with the inquiry, but said that such UN investigations were “not necessarily all they are originally cracked up to be”.
He said that “because of legislation passed by a previous Conservative government [the Disability Discrimination Act 1995], we have some of the strongest equality legislation anywhere in the world when it comes to disability”.
He added: “There are many disabled people in our world who do not have any of the rights or any of the support that they get here in Britain, and I think we should be proud of what we do as we co-operate with this report.”
But just a minute later, Angus Robertson, the SNP’s leader in Westminster, raised the case of Michael O’Sullivan, the north London man who took his own life as a result of being found “fit for work” following a WCA, a case revealed last month by DNS.
He asked whether Cameron would publish the secret reviews it has carried out into individual cases of benefit-related suicides – again first exposed by DNS – which are almost certain to include an inquiry into the death of Michael O’Sullivan.
Cameron said he was “aware of the case” but that “it would not be appropriate for me to discuss the specifics of the cases”, although he said suicide was “always a tragic and complex issue” and that “we should take these matters seriously”.
He said he would “look very carefully” at the question on publishing the internal reviews, but that there had been “significant improvements” to the WCA, following a series of independent reviews.
Michael O’Sullivan’s daughter, Anne-Marie, thanked Robertson for raising her father’s case, and questioned why the WCA system was still unsafe, more than two years after her father died.
She said:
“We do not want other families to face the devastation that ours has gone through, but we fear that many have been forced to do so.
“This assessment process is broken and unsafe* and we urge the government to halt the WCA immediately until a more transparent and fairer system can be found.”"
Go to: http://blacktrianglecampaign.org/2015/10/23/jfmos-pmqs-david-cameron-challenged-twice-in-a-minute-over-disability-rights-violations/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BlackTriangleCampaign+%28Black+Triangle+Campaign%29

*It is now! It needed a serious overhaul before but now our "engine of democracy" has been well and truly sabotaged. There is no excuse, if those responsible had not cut-off-their-noses-to-spite-their-faces they would be able to smell the death emanating from the woodland, it is painful to have to admit but clearly now there are those in power who need (at the people's pleasure), to be guests of our penal system!

Wednesday, 21 October 2015

PMQs: Ian Duncan Smith Quizzed Over UNCRPD Inquiry into Systematic Abuses of the Rights of the Disabled, Suicides Caused by Loss of Benefits and the "Public Philanthropy" of the Food Bank.


Quote; "No doubt the secretary-in-a-state about work and pensions won’t admit it, but any cabinet minister who comes under such a sustained assault during questions to the Prime Minister must be doing something wrong.
Iain Duncan Smith was attacked over the United Nations’ inquiry into the possibility that the UK has committed grave and systematic abuses of the human rights of disabled people, over suicides committed by benefit claimants due to DWP decisions, and over the vertiginous increase in food bank use. Just because David Cameron had to field the question, that doesn’t mean the Gentleman Ranker shouldn’t take the blame.
All this, on the day his new mascot (ha ha), a demonic-looking furry something called, ironically, Workie, made its debut in a nationwide TV advertising campaign costing more than £8.5 million. That’s money that could clearly have been better-spent elsewhere.
First up was Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, quoting a party supporter he named ‘Louis’. Prefacing his question with the comment, “This is deeply embarrassing to all of us in this House and, indeed, to this country as a whole,” he read out the following:
“The United Kingdom is currently being investigated by the UN Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities because of allegations of ‘grave and systematic` violations of disabled people’s human rights.
“This is very sad news indeed, but it is even sadder that we need to be investigated because of violations that have occurred. Will the Prime Minister commit to co-operate fully with the inquiry and publish in full the Government’s response to it, so that we can ensure that people with disabilities are treated properly and legally and given full respect by and opportunities in our society?”
Cameron, perhaps briefed by his Work and Pensions secretary, would not. First, he twisted the question, trying to make it about the number of disabled people who have gained work under the Conservatives (tens of thousands, he reckoned. How many lost their jobs when the Tories closed Remploy, again? Nearly 2,000? And how many of those tens of thousands have gained permanent work? He didn’t say.
He continued: “Of course I will look at any United Nations investigation, but sometimes when you look at these investigations you find that they are not necessarily all they are originally cracked up to be.” Like Tory promises on tax credits (for example)?
“There are many disabled people in our world who do not have any of the rights or any of the support that they get here in Britain, and I think we should be proud of what we do as we co-operate with this report.” Shifting the goalposts, there. Bad conditions endured elsewhere in the world are not an excuse for a Conservative Government to worsen conditions here.
The SNP’s Westminster leader, Angus Robertson, touched on a favourite subject of This Writer when he said: “Information has recently been released showing that a coroner has found that a 60-year-old disabled father of two from north London, Mr Michael O’Sullivan, committed suicide following his work capability assessment. The coroner warned that there is a risk of further deaths. The Department for Work and Pensions has reportedly undertaken 60 investigations into suicides that occurred after benefits were withdrawn or reduced, but it has so far refused to publish what it has learned. Will the Prime Minister publish those findings?”
This was something of a missed opportunity as Mr Robertson could have asked why nobody has been prosecuted for causing Mr O’Sullivan to take his life. Never mind; This Writer has something in the pipeline about that, which will hopefully bring out some useful information.
Cameron didn’t have any: “I am aware of the case the hon. Gentleman raises, although I am sure he will understand that it would not be appropriate for me to discuss the specifics of the cases. Suicide is always a tragic and complex issue. We should take these matters incredibly seriously.” More seriously than this Prime Minister, certainly.
“I will look very carefully at the specific question he asks about publication.” But will he actually publish anything? And if so, will it be as opaque as the death figures the DWP released on August 27?
“We have changed the work capability assessment to lead to significant improvements, following a number of independent reviews, to make sure that people get the support that they need, and I think that is vitally important.” No – because the work capability assessment is still based on a disproved theory that illnesses and disabilities are all in benefit claimants’ minds.
Finally, Labour’s Jo Stevens pointed out: “Food bank use has risen by 1,665 per cent since the Prime Minister took office in 2010.”
HOW MUCH? Let’s have that again:
“1,665 per cent”
Is that one of the achievements that make Cameron “proud”, as he stated in his response to Mr Corbyn?
Back to Ms Stevens: “In Cardiff Central, I meet people every week who rely on food banks to feed their families. Does the Prime Minister know how many more families will be relying on food banks as a result of his Government’s cuts to tax credits, and does he care?”
He didn’t, so he quoted some figures about unemployment instead.
“Of course, I do not want anyone in our country to have to rely on food banks,” he lied (if he doesn’t, why have his policies led to such an exponential increase in their use?) before going on to highlight other Tory economic policies, at least one of which – the so-called National Living Wage – demonstrates perfectly why we cannot trust Tories.
A living wage is one that provides enough for people to cover all their costs without going into debt or resorting to benefits – unlike the forthcoming Tory version. If they can lie about that, they can lie about everything else.
And David Cameron, speaking for Iain Duncan Smith, is a dab hand at dishonesty." Go to: http://voxpoliticalonline.com/2015/10/21/serial-shaming-for-iain-duncan-smith-in-prime-ministers-questions/

6 out of 10 Recipients of Higher Rate Mobility Allowance to Lose Benefits

The lucky ones will drop to the lowest level as there is now no middle rate for mobility allowance under the Personal Independence Payment regime, others will end up with nothing and be forced into work. Shame on you Britain any example you used to think you set has gone-to-soldiers now!

Quote; "Dear Reader,
The Court of Appeal has crushed any lingering hopes of a successful challenge to the PIP 20 metre rule. As a result the DWP estimate that 6 out of 10 working age recipients of DLA higher rate mobility will have lost their award by 2018.
Meanwhile a first tier tribunal refused an award of PIP because the claimant spent too much time on Facebook.
And, in a move that may surprise many readers, Maximus are now offering free help with completing your ESA50. Would you accept it?
Elsewhere, we have evidence of the not so subtle stereotyping of claimants in a Capita training manual for assessors and news of a new Benefits and Work resource coming soon.
Oh, and there’s a Maximus video of an ESA medical assessment you might want to watch too.

PIP CHALLENGE FAILS
The Court of Appeal decided last week that the DWP’s consultation on PIP, which initially hid the fact that the qualifying mobility distance was to be reduced from 50 metres to 20 metres, was fair.
This ended the last hope of overturning the 20 metre distance for PIP mobility. As a result the DWP estimates that 548,000 (61%) of the 892,000 working age claimants who were getting higher rate mobility DLA in 2013 will lose it when they are forced to apply for PIP.
349,000 (39%) are expected to be left with no mobility award at all and 199,000 (22%) with standard instead of enhanced mobility.



PIP APPEAL FAILED BECAUSE OF FACEBOOK USE
A claimant appealing against a PIP decision lost after he said that he only used Facebook ‘now and again’ in response to questioning by the panel.
After the claimant returned to the waiting room with his representative to await the decision, the medical member checked the claimant’s Facebook page on his smartphone.
When the claimant returned the medical member read out extracts from the claimant’s Facebook page, before he was accused of lying about the frequency of his use of social media. Because the hearing was over he was given no opportunity to explain that his partner also posts on his Facebook page.
The claimant now faces a long battle to try to get the decision overturned.

MAXIMUS OFFERS A HELPING ESA HAND AND SOME VIDEOS
If you’re struggling to complete your ESA50 capability for work questionnaire and you don’t have access to the Benefits and Work guides, there’s a new source of help available.
Maximus, the company that carries out ESA medical assessments for the DWP, have launched a free telephone support line to help you complete the form and decide what additional evidence to send.
The big question is, would you use it?
We’ve had quite a few comments left on the article already and it seems unlikely that Maximus’ phones will be ringing off the hook if our readers are anything to go by.
But, ever keen to be of service, Maximus have also launched a collection of videos to help inform claimants about the work capability assessment process. It includes a video of a face-to-face medical assessment.
We’d be interested to hear how closely the video matches your experience, so please do leave a comment.

CAPITA PIP TRAINING
We’ve been sent a copy of the PIP training pack issued to Capita health professionals.
One of the things that struck us, was the apparent stereotyping of claimants.
In the section on Social and Occupational History, over half of the text is devoted to the importance of exploring the claimant’s use of alcohol, tobacco and drugs plus their possible fondness for a flutter on the horses.
It’s not a comforting thought that the tabloid view of claimants may be influencing even the training of supposedly impartial health professionals.

UNIVERSAL CREDIT SLOWS
The take-up of universal credit is slowing, even as it is rolled-out to more Jobcentres.
DWP figures show that claims are currently being made at a rate of 6,000 a week. But this is actually less than in June of this year.
With just 126,000 people receiving universal credit in mid-September, the chances of the DWP reaching its greatly reduced target of half a million claimants by May 2016 now look very slim indeed.

NEXT TIME
In the next edition we’ll be introducing members to a new resource, our sample PIP medical assessment form, the PA4.
We’re creating the form from our study of a collection of Atos and Capita reports kindly sent to us by readers. It will allow members to see what a completed form should look like, highlighting the different areas where Atos and Capita tend to make standard observations or responses.
If you haven’t had a PIP medical it will help you to prepare by knowing precisely what the health professional is supposed to be collecting evidence about, if they are doing their job properly.
If you’ve had a medical and are challenging the decision, it will help you judge the ways in which the report on you may fall short.
We’re also updating our very detailed guide to ‘The Best Possible Ways To Challenge A PIP Medical Report’ based on what we’ve learnt.
Until next time.
Good luck,
Steve Donnison" Go to: http://www.benefitsandwork.co.uk/news/3175-21-october-2015-newsletter?utm_source=iContact&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Benefits%20and%20Work&utm_content=+v2+21+October+newsletter+2015

The Art of the "T.T.Ps" with Frankie and his Wife Philis #GMOs: How Eugenics is the Real Politik.


Quote; "The terms of Obama’s proposed TPP ‘trade’ treaty with Asian countries won’t be made public until the treaty has already been in force for at least four years. The terms of Obama’s proposed TISA (Trade In Services Agreement) with 52 nations won’t be made public until the treaty has already been in force for at least five years. Obama’s proposed TTIP treaty with European countries has been so successfully hidden, that even the number of years it will be kept from the public isn’t yet known. Hello, international fascism — all in secret, until too late for the public to do anything.
There is even speculation that “The Ed Show” was cancelled by the Democratic Party’s propaganda-operation owned by Comcast Corporation, MSNBC, because its star, Ed Schultz, was that cable-news network’s only host who covered Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals; and he was highly critical of them — he was critical of them notwithstanding that his employer,
Comcast is one of the few companies that have been brought in behind closed doors – where our elected Representatives don’t even get to go – to help review and consult with leaders about the global trade agreement. Comcast is hungry for the power they would receive from the TPP because it would gut regulations for all industries, so they had to silence the only voice on their new network that had the courage to talk about how horrible the trade deal would be for American citizens.
But in Europe, things are being rushed, just in case secrecy breaks and the treaty fails to pass. The European Union is already secretly imposing provisions from the secret Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) treaty, even before anyone has signed it, and even before it has been formally approved in any nation. This was revealed over the last weekend in two places:
On the night of October 17th, Phillip Inman of the online version of the Guardian bannered (in an article that the Guardian  declined to publish in its printed edition), “Prospect of TTIP already undermining EU food standards, say campaigners,” and he reported that, 
Nick Dearden, director of anti-poverty group Global Justice Now, says the EU’s chief trade counsellor, Damien Levie, has let slip that free trade means undermining current minimum standards agreed by the EU.
Dearden says that according to a report in the  [subscription-only] newsletter Washington Trade Daily, Levie told a conference held by US free market thinktank the Cato Institute [which is owned by America’s passionately anti-regulatory billionaire oil-investors, the Koch brothers] that genetically modified crops and chemically washed beef carcasses were being allowed into the EU ahead of a deal.
According to the report, Levie said EU member states “have been stepping up case reviews and approving new genetically modified organisms [GMOs] with five new products approved so far”. …
Levie … told the Cato Institute conference that neither side wants to reach anything less than a comprehensive economic agreement. He conceded the deal could founder on resistance from the US to include financial services in the deal and Washington’s reluctance to open local and state procurement to bids from EU businesses.
Previously, information that was made public by wikileaks had made clear that in the negotiations over the TTIP, the U.S. has been the most aggresssive nation pushing for the ability of international corporations to shape national laws — this being the position that’s also favored by the Koch brothers.
On October 18th, Lauren McCauley at Common Dreams headlined “TTIP Already ‘Rewriting the Rule Book’ for EU Food Standards, New Report Finds,” and stated that a progressive British organization, Global Justice Now, issued a study on October 18th, which noted that:
US officials successfully used the prospect of TTIP to bully the EU into abandoning plans to ban 31 dangerous pesticides with ingredients that have been shown to cause cancer and infertility.
A similar fate befell regulations around the treatment of beef with lactic acid. This was banned in Europe because of fears that the procedure was being used to conceal unhygienic  practices. The ban was repealed by MEPs in the European Parliamentary Environment Public Health and Food Safety Committee after EU Commission officials openly suggested TTIP negotiations would be threatened if the ban wasn’t lifted.
On climate change, the European Fuel Quality Directive which would effectively ban Canadian tar sands oil [the world’s worst oil from a global-warming standpoint] has foundered in the face of strong US-Canadian lobbying around both TTIP and the EU-Canada CETA deal.
As I reported on 2 February 2014:
[The proposed] Keystone XL Pipeline wouldn’t contribute to U.S. energy-production, but instead to exports of the global-warming-dirtiest oil, from Canada, to Europe and South America. It would transport Alberta Canada’s tar-sands oil — half of which is owned by the Kochs — south to two Koch-owned refineries near the Texas Gulf Coast for transshipment mainly to Europe. President Obama is thus trying to get Europe to relax its anti-global-warming standards to permit their importation of this oil, which is the world’s absolute worst oil from the global-warming standpoint.
Furthermore, “Currently, most Canadian tar sands exports are mainly limited to the U.S. Midwest market by a lack of transportation infrastructure.” This fact (the lack of “infrastructure” or transportation facilities to move the oil to the international market) keeps down not only the price the Kochs can get for their oil (since it can’t currently be sold on the international market); it also greatly lowers the sheer volume of it that they can sell (at any price), because the local Midwest oil market is small. Keystone XL would thus also enormously increase the annual sales-volume of this currently deeply landlocked oil.
Moreover, if this filthy oil isn’t sold out fast, it won’t ever be sold at all; and here is why, as explained by no less than the Oil & Gas Sector Analyst at the world’s largest bank (in terms of assets):
He says, “Between 60 and 80% of current fossil fuel reserves listed on global markets cannot be burned if we are to limit the rise in global temperature to 2 degrees [Celsius, or 4.5 degrees Fahrenheit],” and that’s the temperature-rise 97% of climatologists endorse as being the cut-off point that mustn’t be exceeded if the climate is to avoid going haywire with soaring heat and destroying the planet’s biosphere as humans have always known it.
So: U.S. President Obama has been aggressively pushing for the largely-Koch-owned Canadian tar-sands oil to be allowed into European markets in order for that portion of their — and Exxon’s, etc. — oil reserves to be sellable at all, because it otherwise might not be.
The Koch brothers are generally considered to be the biggest fundraisers for the U.S. Republican Party. On 5 January 2012, the Washington Post headlined, “Koch-backed political coalition, designed to shield donors, raised $400 million in 2012” and Matea Gold reported that, “The resources and the breadth of the organization make it singular in American politics,” and that, “Its funders remain largely unknown.” However, one self-admitted member, 
Jack Schuler, a Chicago health-care entrepreneur, attended one of the Kochs’ donor meetings in Beaver Creek, Colo., several years ago and has contributed about $100,000 a year to their efforts since then. “They came across as guys who are putting a lot of their own money into it,” Schuler said. “They are pretty soft-spoken, not screamers or screechers. They provide the leadership, the staff — without the framework, I wouldn’t do it on my own.” 
A large portion of that $400 million went to Republican Mitt Romney’s campaign against Barack Obama’s re-election bid. Obama supports the Kochs financially, though the Kochs preferred the self-declared Republican candidate.
Thus, apparently, the Kochs have already won Obama’s success at defeating the EU’s fuel-quality standards, even if the TTIP gets turned down. The EU did it without needing to go all the way to put in place and effectuate the TTIP.
NOTE: The headline to this article says “Despite the Public’s Overwhelming Opposition,” but the publicly available scientific polling on these secret treaties is also being gamed. Early on, the polls had asked respondents whether they approved of “free trade” or other such vagaries, and the public did. Then the polling just stopped, as if that was that, and Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ deals are popular. But the massive public demonstrations, etcetera, since then, against these treaties, have become increasingly clear that, to the extent people actually come to know about Obama’s proposed ‘trade’ treaties (especially in Europe, which isn’t quite as corrupt as is the U.S. and so fewer people are totally in the dark), they’re strongly opposed, and might even revolt violently if that’s the only way to stop the treaty from being approved. News such as you’re reading here has been submitted to the news-media in all Western countries, but only few publish it. The major advertisers have participated in the committees that drafted these treaties, and probably wouldn’t be pleased if their handiworks were known to the public in time to be blocked from going into effect." Go to: http://rinf.com/alt-news/editorials/europe-secretly-starts-imposing-ttip-despite-the-publics-overwhelming-opposition/

....and....

Quote;"The TPP would require us to allow food imports if the exporting country claims that their safety regime is "equivalent" to our own, even if it violates the key principles of our food safety laws. These rules would effectively outsource domestic food inspection to other countries.

Under the TPP, any U.S. food safety rule on pesticides, labeling or additives that is higher than international standards would be subject to challenge as "illegal trade barriers." The U.S. could be required to eliminate these rules and allow in the unsafe food under threat of trade sanctions.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration already inspects less than 1% of all seafood imports for health hazards. Entering into the TPP with Malaysia and Vietnam, both TPP negotiating parties and major seafood exporters, would increase seafood imports and further overwhelm inspectors' limited ability to ensure the safety of our food. Some TPP countries have serious shrimp and fish safety issues. For example, even with the minimal inspections, high levels of contaminants have been found in Vietnam's seafood.

Under the TPP, food labels could also be challenged as "trade barriers." The TPP would impose limits on labels providing information on where a food product comes from. The TPP also would endanger labels identifying genetically modified foods and labels identifying how food was produced. The TPP would expand the limits on consumer labels already included in existing "trade" agreements, like the World Trade Organization (WTO). But already under the WTO, the U.S. "dolphin-safe" tuna fish label and our country-of-origin meat and poultry labels have been successfully attacked by other countries. And, under the TPP, a foreign meat processing or food corporation operating within the United States could directly challenge our policies that  they claim undermine their expectations - meaning a barrage of new demands for taxpayer compensation." Go to: http://www.exposethetpp.org/TPPImpacts_FoodSafety.html

Monday, 19 October 2015

Is the U.S Silently Making War on Syria? Aleppo Power Plant Attacked from the Air by U.S Aircrcraft: (19/10/15 Information Clearing House)


Quote: "October 19, 2015 "Information Clearing House" - The Aleppo power plant is a 1,000 megawatt thermal plant in five units build by Mitsubishi Heavy Industry in 1995-1998. It is situated some 25 kilometers east of Aleppo city center.  During the fighting around Aleppo various electricity distribution stations were damaged and electricity in parts of the city has become scarce and unpredictable. But the main power station had so far not been hit.

The plant is in the hands of the Islamic State but there is an informal agreement between the government, which controls the distribution network, and those who hold the power generating station. The agreement of understanding pertains to the division of the electricity supply between the parties, whereby ISIS will receive 60% of the quota and the Syrian regime will receive 40%.

Both sides will have some electricity and the civilian as well as fighters on both side will be better off than without electricity. No side has a motive to destroy that plant.

But last night the U.S. coalition bombed the Aleppo thermal power plant and destroyed parts of it:

    A military source told SANA that warplanes of the Washington alliance violated Syrian airspace and attacked civilian infrastructure in Mare’a, Tal Sha’er, and al-Bab in Aleppo countryside on Sunday.

    The source added that the warplanes attacked the biggest electric power plant that feeds Aleppo city, which resulted in cutting off power from most neighborhoods in Aleppo city.

Just a week ago U.S. air attacks had attacked another power station and a big distribution transformer al-Radwaniye also east of Aleppo.

The electricity generation and distribution system is civil infrastructure. It is used and useful to everyone no matter what side of the conflict. After the first U.S. attack on a power station a week ago the Russian president Putin was asked about the strikes. He called them "strange":

    "On Sunday, the American aviation bombed out an electrical power plant and a transformer in Aleppo. Why have they done this? Whom have they punished there? What’s the point? Nobody knows," the president said at a meeting with the Russian government members.

The Russians and the Syrians are sure that it were F-16 planes from the U.S. coalition that bombed the power infrastructure even though the coalition reports do no mention the attacks. Why are these bombings not mentioned in the U.S. coalition reports?

The U.S. claims it is only fighting the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. It accuses Russia of not only attacking ISIS even though Russia, and Putin himself, always said that ISIS is not their sole target but that supporting the Syrian government against all its enemies is the overarching aim. The Russian just snuffed out a 16 vehicle ISIS convoy. Something that the U.S. somehow never manages to do. The U.S. itself, by the way, has killed and kills some non-ISIS "moderate rebels". All its complains against the Russians are just nonsense.

But why would fighting ISIS or this or that "moderate rebel" terrorist necessitate the destruction of valuable infrastructure which serves all sides of the Syrian society?

Without the plant Aleppo city, with some 2-3 million inhabitants and refugees, as well as the surrounding areas in Aleppo governate have no electricity. The damage the U.S. bombing caused will make sure that any repair will take a long time. This will make life for people on every side of the war more unbearable and more people will leave to seek refuge in foreign countries.

Is that the purpose of the U.S. bombardment of electricity infrastructure in Syria? If not what else is this supposed to achieve?" Go to: http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article43195.htm