September 29, 2016

Hillary’s State Department Pressured Haiti Not To Raise Minimum Wage to 61 cents An Hour

In Haiti, people work for peanuts. Slave wages. Less than $5 per day, but they supply the U.S. with tons of affordable clothing from big-name brands like Levi’s, Hanes and Polo. Haiti’s big advantage, compared to Asia, is their proximity to us, and thousands of Haitians are employed in the textile industry in part because of that. When Haiti passed a wage raise from $.24 per hour to $.61 per hour, American companies were predictably outraged.

U.S. companies, especially the clothing manufacturers, outsource their manufacturing to places like Haiti specifically because they can get away with paying slave wages. They would only support a minimum wage increase to $.31 per hour, and decided to get the U.S. Department of State involved to try and pressure Haiti’s government to keep the wage raise down.
This took place in 2011, and Hillary Clinton was the Secretary of State. Our corporations were successful, and Haitians continued to work for worse slave wages than they otherwise would have, all so U.S. corporations could take home higher profits.

At the time, the U.S. Embassy said that the wage increase didn’t take economic realities into account, and that it was a move designed specifically to appeal to the unemployed and underpaid masses of Haiti. Imagine that. Imagine trying to help your people have a better life instead of catering to huge corporations at your people’s expense. The horror.
Here’s how much it would cost Hanes to give its Haitian workers a $2 per day raise ($2 per day is roughly what the wage increase would be):
“As of [2008] Hanes had 3,200 Haitians making t-shirts for it. Paying each of them two bucks a day more would cost it about $1.6 million a year. Hanesbrands Incorporated made $211 million on $4.3 billion in sales [in 2008].”

They just simply cannot deal without that $1.6 million, to the point that they managed to get our government involved in the affairs of another government. It didn’t matter that Haitian families actually need $12.50 per day to make ends meet.
In 2012, everyone from Clinton herself, to celebrities like Ben Stiller and Sean Penn, gathered at the opening of a new industrial park in Haiti. In 2015, Hillary said this about it:
“We had learnt that supporting long-term prosperity in Haiti meant more than providing aid. So we shifted our assistance to investment to address some of the biggest challenges facing this country: creating jobs and sustainable economic growth.”

She promised jobs, but when people hear a promise of jobs, they generally assume those jobs will allow them to support themselves. The jobs we’ve created in Haiti do nothing of the sort. Some Haitians feel they can’t complain because any job is better than no job, but on the other hand, those same Haitians wish they were paid more.

This isn’t the first time our government’s gotten involved with another government over corporate interests. We’re beholden to our rich corporations. We apparently owe it to them to make sure other governments don’t eat into their profits by passing laws that protect workers, or do anything else that threaten profits. In 1953, we helped the U.K. overthrow Iran’s democratically-elected president over his nationalization of what would later become British Petroleum, or BP.

Under the guise of stopping communism, we worked with the U.K. to try and install a pro-western government (meaning, a government sympathetic to our business interests there). Iran points to this coup as the reason for their deep distrust of us, and really, who can blame them for that?

In 1954, we overthrew Guatemala’s democratically-elected president, again, under the guise of protecting the world, and our interests, from communism.

What was our real problem there? We were worried that their new president would turn land over to poorer members of its society and create a middle class. Oh, the sheer horror. Ordinarily we probably would have kept our noses out of that, however, the land in question was land that belonged to the United Fruit Company, a U.S.-based agriculture corporation. President Arbenz would have compensated them for their losses, but they weren’t having any of that. We got the idea that Arbenz was a secret communist from the United Fruit Company.

For the pursuit of American profit, Guatemala sat under the rule of military dictators for the next 30 years. They are just now emerging from all the shadows of that time.

What happened in Haiti isn’t as egregious, but it is just as insidious in its own way – the U.S. government interfered with a foreign, sovereign government for the benefit of rich American corporations. This particular instance happened under a Secretary of State who promised jobs, but probably didn’t let on that those jobs would pay next to zilch. Investing is good. It’s better than aid, but we’re half-assing it there, all in the name of profit.

GO, DEMS! ESCALATE, ESCALATE! BOOOOOM!! Andrew Taylor, Sept 29, 2016


Point: America's NATO Divisions were installed last year immediate to Russia's Borders
Counterpoint: By 2018 A Russian Division will be installed 86 miles from Alaska.

"Last week, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu confirmed that the Russian military plans to establish a coastal defense division in Chukotka, eastern Russia by 2018. Commenting on the defense minister's announcement defense analyst Sergei Ishchenko stated: "'s obvious that this is not just ordinary news, not least because what we're talking about is the creation of a serious military force just a stone's throw away from the United States: only the Bering Strait will separate the Russian coastal defense division from Alaska. At its narrowest point, that's only 86 km away. Therefore, it's worth taking a closer look at this announcement."

Shimon Peres was ‘no man of peace’: Hanan Ashrawi, Sept. 28th, 2016

Shimon Peres was ‘no man of peace’: Hanan Ashrawi, Sept. 28th, 2016 
Former Israeli president Shimon Peres died aged 93. (AFP/File)By Nasoul Nazzal 

The Palestinians will remember Shimon Peres, a former Israeli president, prime minister and Nobel Peace Prize laureate as a serial killer and an iconic mass murderer.
He died on Wednesday at the age of 93 due to deteriorating health after suffering a stroke in September.
Palestinian senior officials who spoke to Gulf News dismissed media reports praising Peres for "moderate" policies and involvement in peace efforts.

"Peres's legacy will be remembered by the Palestinians as a tireless advocate for murdering children, perpetuating occupation and uprooting indigenous Palestinians out of their home lands," said Hanan Ashrawi, a member of the Executive Committee of the Palestine Liberation Organisation.
"When we celebrate and remember the legacy of Shimon Peres and his accomplishments for Israel, we should remember that Peres was the launcher of Israel's nuclear programme, the architect of the Israeli plan to isolate, Judaise and take over Jerusalem, and above all Peres was behind the Qana Massacre of 1996 where more than 100 civilians were killed in a refugee camp in Lebanon," she told Gulf News, adding that he is also responsible for a slew of other war crimes against Palestinians.

As a shrewd politician, Ashrawi said, Peres set the general direction of Israeli colonial policies and dedicated his life to trying to polish Israel's deteriorating image in the international community.
"Due to the bloody and apartheid policies of the Israeli government, which he fully supported, the challenge to improve Israel's image was a tough one," she said.

"Israel had long searched for an acceptable face of peace to be presented to the world and Peres was that face," she said.
Despite his rhetoric advocating peace, some of the most atrocious crimes against humanity were committed under his watch, she explained.
"He basically put make-up on the ugly face of apartheid. He deceived the entire world," she said.
In his early 20s, Peres served in the Haganah, a Jewish militia that existed before the state of Israel was created. The group was responsible for the massacre of Palestinians and uprooting them from their lands.
"He was involved in all of the Israeli wars since the beginning. Massacres were committed and he was the main participant," Wasel Abu Yousuf, another member of the PLO Executive Committee, said.

"He is no man of peace."


, Agadez almost blends into the cocoa-colored wasteland that surrounds it. Only when you descend farther can you make out a city that curves around an airfield before fading into the desert. Once a nexus for camel caravans hauling tea and salt across the Sahara, Agadez is now a West African paradise for people smugglers and a way station for refugees and migrants intent on reaching Europe’s shores by any means necessary.
Document: U.S. Africa Command
Africans fleeing unrest and poverty are not, however, the only foreigners making their way to this town in the center of Niger. U.S. military documents reveal new information about an American drone base under construction on the outskirts of the city. The long-planned project — considered the most important U.S. military construction effort in Africa, according to formerly secret files obtained by The Intercept through the Freedom of Information Act — is slated to cost $100 million, and is just one of a number of recent American military initiatives in the impoverished nation.
The base is the latest sign, experts say, of an ever-increasing emphasis on counterterror operations in the north and west of the continent. As the only country in the region willing to allow a U.S. base for MQ-9 Reapers — a newer, larger, and potentially more lethal model than the venerable Predator drone — Niger has positioned itself to be the key regional hub for U.S. military operations, with Agadez serving as the premier outpost for launching intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions against a plethora of terror groups.
For years, the U.S. operated from an air base in Niamey, Niger’s capital, but in early 2014, Capt. Rick Cook, then chief of U.S. Africa Command’s Engineer Division, mentioned the potential for a new “semi-permanent … base-like facility” in Niger. That September, the Washington Post’s Craig Whitlock exposed plans to base drones at Agadez. Within days, the U.S. Embassy in Niamey announced that AFRICOM was, indeed, “assessing the possibility of establishing a temporary, expeditionary contingency support location” there. The outpost, according to the communiqué, “presents an attractive option from which to base ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) assets given its proximity to the threats in the region and the complexity of operating with the vast distance of African geography.”

Air Force documents submitted to Congress in 2015 note that the U.S. “negotiated an agreement with the government of Niger to allow for the construction of a new runway and all associated pavements, facilities, and infrastructure adjacent to the Niger Armed Force’s Base Aerienne 201 (Airbase 201) south of the city of Agadez.” When the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2016 was introduced last April, embedded in it was a $50 million request for the construction of an “airfield and base camp at Agadez, Niger … to support operations in western Africa.” When President Obama signed the defense bill, that sum was authorized.
Reporting by The Intercept found the true cost to be double that sum. In addition to the $50 million to “construct Air Base 201,” another $38 million in operation and maintenance (O&M) funds was slated to be spent “to support troop labor and ancillary equipment,” according to a second set of undated, heavily redacted, formerly secret documents obtained from U.S. Africa Command by The Intercept. But the $38 million O&M price tag — for expenses like fuel and troops’ per diem — has already jumped to $50 million, according to new figures provided by the Pentagon, while sustainment costs are now projected at $12.8 million per year.
The files obtained by The Intercept attest to the importance of Agadez for future missions by drones, also known as remotely piloted aircraft or RPAs. “The top MILCON [military construction] project for USAFRICOM is located in Agadez, Niger to construct a C-17 and MQ-9 capable airfield,” reads a 2015 planning document. “RPA presence in NW Africa supports operations against seven [Department of State]-designated foreign terrorist organizations. Moving operations to Agadez aligns persistent ISR to current and emerging threats over Niger and Chad, supports French regionalization and extends range to cover Libya and Nigeria.”
The Pentagon is tight-lipped about the outpost, however.
“Due to operational security considerations, we don’t release details on numbers of personnel or specific missions or locations, including information regarding the Nigerien military air base located in Agadez,” Pentagon spokesperson Lt. Col. Michelle L. Baldanza told The Intercept in an email, stressing that drones are not yet flying from the outpost. However, the declassified documents say construction will be completed next year.
The documents offer further details, including plans for a 1,830-meter paved asphalt runway capable of supporting C-17 cargo aircraft and “miscellaneous light and medium load aircraft”; a 17,458-square-meter parking apron and taxiway for “light load ISR aircraft”; and the installation of “three 140’ x 140’ relocatable fabric tension aircraft hangars”; as well as all the standard infrastructure for troops, including “force protection” measures like barriers, fences, and an “Entry Control Point.”
While AFRICOM failed to respond to requests for information about the projects, a May 2016 satellite photo of the site provides a status report. “The image shows that the main runway … has been repaved,” said Dan Gettinger, the co-founder and co-director of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College and author of a guide to identifying drone bases from satellite imagery. “Near the runway there’s a structure that appears to be a future hangar, though it’s still under construction. There’s also a new dirt road that runs a fair distance from the runway to a U.S. base that’s enclosed with a perimeter wall and there are a number of shelters there for personnel as well as a command center. All the things that you’d expect on a base.”According to the documents, Niger was the “only country in NW Africa willing to allow basing of MQ-9s,” the larger, newer cousins of the Predator drone. The documents went on to note: “President expressed willingness to support armed RPAs.”
The U.S. military activity in Niger is not isolated. “There’s a trend toward greater engagement and a more permanent presence in West Africa — the Maghreb and the Sahel,” noted Adam Moore of the department of geography at the University of California in Los Angeles and the co-author of an academic study of the U.S. military’s presence in Africa.

Since 9/11, in fact, the United States has poured vast amounts of military aid into the region. In 2002, for example, the State Department launched a counterterrorism program — known as the Pan-Sahel Initiative, which later became the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership (TSCTP) — to assist the militaries of Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Between 2009 and 2013 alone, the U.S. allocated $288 million in TSCTP funding, according to a 2014 report by the Government Accountability Office. Niger was one of the top three recipients, netting more than $30 million.Drones have long been integral to U.S. efforts in Niger. In 2012, according to the files obtained by The Intercept, Niger agreed to host U.S. drones in Niamey, the capital, on the condition that operations would eventually be shifted to a more remote military base in Agadez.

A U.S. Army trainer coaches a Republic of Niger soldier on marksmanship techniques at an AK-47 qualification range near Agadez, Niger.
Photo: Spc. Craig Philbrick/U.S. Army Africa

In February 2013, the U.S. began flying Predator drones out of the capital. Later in the spring, an AFRICOM spokesperson revealed that U.S. air operations there were providing “support for intelligence collection with French forces conducting operations in Mali and with other partners in the region.” The Air Force recently announced plans to upgrade shower and latrine facilities at Niamey “to serve a steady state of 200 to 250 personnel a day.”
“The U.S. shares that base with France,” said Gettinger. The base in Niamey, he explained, “is strategically important simply because to the north there’s Mali and the threat posed by al Qaeda-linked groups, including al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb. … To the south you have Nigeria and Boko Haram, so there’s lots of demand for ISR capabilities.” At Agadez, he noted, the U.S. doesn’t need to share facilities with the French military or commercial aircraft. And it is, he said, “more strategically located than Niamey.”
As UCLA’s Moore puts it: “The recent trajectory of sites and money suggests that Niger is becoming, after Djibouti, the second most important country for U.S. military counterterrorism operations on the continent.”

September 27, 2016

Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn: The Triumph of Momentum

Global Research, September 27, 2016

He has proven to be one of the most stubborn of creatures in a political sense. Unlike the dinosaur of political thinking he has been accused of being, British Labour’s Jeremy Corbyn continues to survive the meteorites, and more nuanced weapons, directed at him.

The initial strategy from Labour MPs was to oust their leader in July on procedural grounds.  The mutineers (call them the Tories in Labour clothing, the Blairites) failed to get their wishes of disqualifying Corbyn from office by a narrow 18-14 ruling by the National Executive Committee that Corbyn be allowed on the ballot even without the endorsement of 20 percent of his MPs.[1]
Instead of limping away in defeat from contender Owen Smith, Corbyn strengthened his position to be, interestingly enough, Labour’s strongest leader on paper to have ever been elected.

Even prior to Corbyn’s triumph, Smith was nervous at not having the numbers for unseating the Labour leader, suggesting, in an open letter to Labour Party members and supporters that his ideas would remain “as relevant after this contest as they have been during.” When loss is assured, best focus on the non-corporeal aspect of a losing performance.

Corbyn’s numbers proved thumping in their dimensions. There were 500,000 who flocked to the polls, and of those, 61.8 percent went Corbyn’s way, up from the 59.5 percent he garnered in September 2015.  Had 130,000 party members not been deemed ineligible, the victory would have been an even greater massacre of his rival.

Detractors feel a gloomy similarity with previous Labour leaders liked for their resolve and manner but feared for their suicidal streak before ruthless conservative governments worshiping before the market altar. “Our policies,” claimed Vernon Coaker in a typical view of that situation, “have to change. If we don’t change we will die.”

For all that, Corbyn and his movement are more alive than ever, having little desire to expire. He is very much a manifestation of tide and force, a reminder that the Zeitgeist at the moment favours suspicion of central powers divorced from human sentiment. The bureaucrats and party hacks are not in vogue.

Central to that is a good smattering of good old decent socialism that had been much maligned by Tony Blair’s own surgical, and bewitching efforts.  Knowing this to be the case, Smith was always struggling to remind voters within the party that Corbyn did not have a monopoly on the socialist creed.
The machine men and women are the robots to be feared and, more directly, ignored.  Deputy leader 

Tom Watson has been accused of being a “Witchfinder” while past leaders such as Neil (“Lord Kneel”) Kinnock have been reminded of their supposedly perfidious past to workers.
Manufactured in the New Labour hot house of stated reform, the Blairites have begun to rust before the vengeful Corbynistas in the Momentum movement.  Their presence is such as to land suggestions of a “personality cult” in the making.

The irony now is that Corbyn, in an effort to avoid another disruption, will attempt to appoint his own shadow cabinet with minimum influence of the MPs within his own party.  This will also give him a shot at having better control over the National Executive Committee, which has not always been friendly to his efforts.
Swimming on the tide of popularity, any resistance was bound to look foolish, though it refuses to abate.  Individuals like Wes Streeting MP told those at a gathering that, “We the people in this room, and across our party cannot surrender to a political tradition that will keep this party in opposition for generations to come.”[2]
Individuals such as Iain McNicol, the Labour General Secretary, show the gap between the Corbyn movement and party managerialism that emphasises “clause one socialism”.  Parliamentary presence was one thing, the grass roots, with a revived socialist sentiment, quite another.

Former Shadow Health Secretary, Heidi Alexander, who has been niggling and sceptical of Corbyn, only had electioneering, and conservative styled appeal electioneering at that, on the brain.  “What people like me are determined to do is continue fighting for a Labour Party that speaks to and for the whole of the country, and one which is capable of winning the next general election.”

The newly re-crowned leader has also threatened a certain number of de-selections for Labour MPs, and promised to shift the focus on policy making to the lower echelons of the party.  Such a method, in one sense, is an attempt to draw out and marginalize his detractors.

The revenge of history on the New Labour movement is nigh. Each time an effort it made to target Corbyn’s leadership, the party receives a boost in membership.  (There were 15,500 additions the immediate aftermath of his victory.)

Corbyn, even if he is not successful at the next election, has already made his mark on his party by localising interest at the branch level rather than that of the focus group, becoming something of an avenging angel.  This is the social democratic agenda in action, though whether the British voter will give him a chance is another story.

The managers will be terrified, as much for their jobs as indeed for the party. If nothing else, Corbyn will have created something distinct from the Labour-Tory formula that characterised the Blair years.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: