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Hometown: Saskatchewan
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The West’s Dangerous Game in Ukraine

by Michael Werbowski / March 11th, 2014

"National aspirations must be respected; people may now be dominated and governed only by their own consent. Self determination is not a mere phrase; it is an imperative principle of action. . . ."

Woodrow Wilson with his famous self-determination speech on 11 February 1918 after he announced his Fourteen Points on 8 January 1918.

Secessionist movements are nothing new to history and have been endorsed in the past, by some great statesmen such as US president Woodrow Wilson. Yet the upcoming Crimean referendum is given much attention by the west, almost as if it were setting some dangerous precedent and had to be interdicted. Or as if it were a unique case, which it isn’t. Why now? Or why is the west so eager to nip in the bud the potential for the formation of a “break away state” in the Crimean peninsula? Possibly because Western powers who with vehemence and vituperation (unmatched in shrillness even during the worst days of the cold war) are denouncing the upcoming referendum on the possible formation of an independent or quasi-sovereign region in Ukraine, are themselves, dealing with secessionist movements at home.

For instance, the United Kingdom has to grapple with the unpalatable possibility of Scotland splitting away from the rest of the unitary state later this year. For its part, Canada (with almost one millions people of Ukrainian decent) is one of the most vocal opponents to the Crimean referendum. Yet it is presently dealing with a revival of a home-grown, separatist threat in Quebec. The majority French-speaking province is presently immersed in an unexpected election campaign, which might return a nationalist party back to power with a potential majority. If this occurs, then some ardent nationalists might interpret the re-election of the Parti Québécois as a prelude to a third referendum on independence. Ottawa naturally is on high alert to this potential outcome.


If we look at precedents or precursors to independence or statehood, then referendums are the logical way to go. Kosovo in 1991 had an infamous referendum, which was meant to tear that territory away from Serbia. This move subsequently resulted in the US and NATO-led bombing of Serbia. After the war Kosovo declared independence. The new state was almost overnight recognised by the US, UK and Canada and others such as Germany, which participated in prosecuting the Balkan war; a conflict which resulted in bloodletting not seen since the Second World War in Europe. In the case of Bosnia it also held a referendum, which triggered the break up of ex-Yugoslavia. The US for purely geopolitical gain and in a strategy designed to further Balkanise the region, recognised the new state and even exerted great pressure on its western European allies to do the same, despite some well-founded reservations.

Thus paradoxically, the same Western powers which today adamantly refuse to recognise the right to self-determination (or the right to hold a democratic consultation in Crimea on its sovereign status) were previously, the main actors advocating precisely such referendums before, during, and after the Balkans conflict during the 1990s. Not to be outdone by it all, Western capitals are now busy fanning the flames of nationalists’ (aka neo-Nazi revanchists posing as moderates) fervour in western Ukraine again, while decrying similar movements in the eastern part of the country. They are playing a very duplicious game indeed.

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/03/the-wests-dangerous-game-in-ukraine/



The right to national self-determination is enshrined right into chapter 1 of the UN Charter.

The right of nations to maintain territorial integrity is not. The international law dealing with self determination reads: "All peoples have the right of self-determination. By virtue of that right they freely determine their political status and freely pursue their economic, social and cultural development."

In other words, people have a right to determine the nation they belong to. Ukraine signed that treaty.

International law recognizes the right of nations to defend their territory from outside invasions, but it does not recognize the right of nations to prevent their own people from lawfully seceding. In spite of the hot air bellowing from various politicians, there's never really been any question that, under international law, the Crimean's have the right to declare independence and hold a referendum on their future. Russia has no right to be there, but the Crimeans do.


Yes, arguing they have no right to decide their future is a 'game', and about as hypocritical as it gets.

Paul Street - Venezuela, the United States, and Obama

March 6, 2014

Recently I was asked if I thought the Obama administration was involved to any significant degree in encouraging civil unrest in Venezuela. My answer begins with a question of its own: do bears shit in the woods?

The Obama White House aided and abetted the military overthrow of Honduras’ democratically elected president Manuel Zelaya in the summer of 2009. It did much the same when right-wing business interests in Paraguay conducted a “judicial coup” against that nation’s democratically elected president Ferdinand Lugo three years later.

These Latin American coups were undertaken with U.S. aid and diplomatic cover for a simple reason. Zelaya and Lugo were moving to align their countries with the leftward and populist shift of Latin American politics and policy that has been evident since the charismatic socialist Hugo Chavez was elected president of Venezuela in late 1998. That shift involves related and significantly successful efforts to reduce savage socioeconomic inequalities within Latin American states and to re-orient those states’ political-economies and security arrangements around their shared regional interests. Washington’s bipartisan imperial elite abhors such developments for reasons that are neither mysterious nor novel.

If Obama assisted right wing coups to preserve oligarchic and military rule in the relatively small and economically insignificant nations of Honduras and Paraguay, it’s not much of a reach to imagine he would like to see regime change in socialist Venezuela. The leader of Latin America’s challenge to Washington’s hemispheric power and to the related scourge of U.S.-imposed neoliberalism, Venezuela has undertaken significant experiments not only in attacking poverty by redistributing its considerable petroleum-based wealth downwards but also in participatory citizens’ and workers’ democracy.

It’s not for nothing that the United States has been “more committed to ‘regime change’ in Venezuela than anywhere else in South America,” spending hundreds of millions of U.S. taxpayer dollars funding opposition groups there since Chavez was first elected. Nowhere has Latin America’s independent and leftward drift gone further and with greater consequence than in Venezuela, which happens – no small matter in Washington’s calculations –to sit atop the world’s largest oil reserves.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/venezuela-the-united-states-and-obama/

US Launches a Fascist Government – and World War III? – in Ukraine

by Felicity Arbuthnot / March 10th, 2014

Levesque asks: “Have the Neo-Nazis cornered Ukraine’s National Security agenda?”

The answer would appear to be a rapidly accelerating affirmative, with Robert Parry stating that Neo-Nazis are now in charge of four Ministries and “some ten ‘oligarchs’ mostly run the show in shifting alliances, buying up media outlets and politicians, while the vast majority of the population faces a bleak future, which now includes more European-demanded ‘austerity’ …”

In neighbouring Russia, as the Sochi Paralympics opened with a spectacular ceremony, President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron, Chancellor Angela Merkel and their parties hurled their collective toys from their prams and failed to attend. Another chance to make peace not war in what should be the Olympic spirit, also willfully thrown away.

The opening theme was “Breaking The Ice,” and “the importance of breaking down barriers and stereotypes …” a popular 1990’s Russian song called “Good-bye America” played as the Russian team closed the parade.


Felicity Arbuthnot is a journalist with special knowledge of Iraq. Author, with Nikki van der Gaag, of Baghdad in the Great City series for World Almanac books, she has also been Senior Researcher for two Award winning documentaries on Iraq, John Pilger's Paying the Price: Killing the Children of Iraq and Denis Halliday Returns for RTE (Ireland.) Read other articles by Felicity.

The “Professorial President” And The “Small, Strutting Hard Man”

by Media Lens / March 10th, 2014

.........Marsden adds some of the vital context that is so lacking in ‘mainstream’ news coverage:

The US has spent the past two decades seeking to eliminate Ukraine as a strategic buffer between Russia and the West, sponsoring the “Orange Revolution” in 2004 in an ultimately abortive attempt to install a wholly pro-Western government. Washington and its allies have tried to do the same in other former Soviet states by integrating them into the structures of NATO and the European Union, encouraging Georgia, in particular, and former Soviet republics in Central Asia to take the path of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.

Washington has been funnelling money into the region for years and has now opened the taps all the way. According to an admission in December by Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland, the US had invested “over $5 billion” to “ensure a secure and prosperous and democratic Ukraine”.

Nuland is the US official who infamously said in a leaked phone call last month: ‘Fuck the EU’, letting slip the US’s intention to interfere in Ukrainian domestic affairs. As Patrick O’Connor observed:

The Obama administration’s rhetoric about “democracy” and the Ukrainian people’s right to determine their own future is a charade, concocted for public consumption. Behind the scenes, government officials speak frankly with one another about the real agenda—advancing Washington’s geo-strategic and economic interests in Eastern Europe by installing pro-US and anti-Russian puppet figures in the Ukrainian capital.


Media Lens is a UK-based media watchdog group headed by David Edwards and David Cromwell. The second Media Lens book, Newspeak: In the 21st Century by David Edwards and David Cromwell, was published in 2009 by Pluto Press. Read other articles by Media Lens, or visit Media Lens's website.

Very interesting to read all the different media slants on all of this and the replies back from common people ... who seem better informed and make some of these 'journalists' look like complete corporate tools.

Ukraine: An Analysis

By David McReynolds

March 9, 2014

Before launching into my analysis of events in Ukraine, there are a few points which should be made for an American audience.


The context of the Ukrainian Crisis:
Here I want to step back away from the immediate crisis of Ukraine, for a look at the history which dictates much Russian policy – under Putin as it did under Stalin.

Russia has no natural barrier – no river, no mountain range – to guard it on its Western border. It has suffered invasion from the West three times in recent memory – under Napoleon and then twice under the Germans. In the last invasion, under Hitler, between 25 and 27 million Soviet citizens lost their lives. All the factories, dams, railroads. towns and cities West of a line from Leningrad in the North to Moscow to Stalingrad in the South were destroyed. Americans make much of 9.11 (and I don’t make light of it) but for Russia it was not just a handful of buildings in one city which were destroyed – it was entire cities, leveled. And then with the wounded to care for, the orphans, the widows.

Americans have never understood what the war meant to Russia and why, after the war, the Soviets sought to build a “protective band” of territory between itself and Germany. This was Eastern Europe, which under the iron boot of Stalin became “people’s democracies” or “presently existing socialism”.

Full article: http://zcomm.org/znetarticle/ukraine-an-analysis/

Some more of what they've lost, and 'won'.

Iraqi women at university in Iraq in the 1970s

Zainab Salbi Zainab Salbi
Posted: September 21, 2009 12:32 PM

Where Are Iraqi Women Today?

I'm sitting by the Tigris River in Baghdad on a hot July evening. The air is still, the dust has settled, and the call for prayers is echoing over the river as it reflects lights from relatively new restaurants. I visited my mother's grave yesterday and learned that her tombstone was destroyed by a missile two years ago in one of the clashes between the militias and the US troops. "Not even the dead are spared from the bombings in Iraq," I thought to myself. But at least my mother is not witnessing the pain many Iraqi women are witnessing as they try to find space for themselves in the "new Iraq."

Few of the women of my mother's generation -- a generation of educated women who have worked in all different sectors of the country -- are still holding on. They are few -- many professional women who were doctors, professors and journalists were assassinated in the past seven years as part of what I believe is a larger, strategic approach by extremist militias to "cleanse" Iraqi society of its intellectual and professional elite. Those who have survived the killings and the temptation to leave the country in search of a safer place to live have either retreated within the home or taken advantage of quotas that have opened opportunities for women to become members of the Iraqi parliament.

Today in Iraq, women have no one unified reality. At the same time as many women increase participation in the political sector -- Iraq's Parliament and local councils are required to have 25 percent female representation -- thousands more are experiencing brutal hardship and extreme poverty. There are now more destitute women in Iraq than ever before -- estimates of the number of war widows range from one to three million. These and other socially and economically marginalized women are vulnerable and at high risk of trafficking, organized and forced prostitution, polygamy, domestic violence, and being recruited as suicide bombers, something that the society is still trying to process and understand. In a single day's journey around Baghdad, one can see all these many and conflicting realities of Iraqi women -- that was my day today.


By the time I arrive at Women for Women International's office, I see a woman in her fifties waiting for me to interview her for a job at Women for Women International. She had been a social worker for 25 years, worked in Sadr City throughout most of her professional career and is passionate and loving about the people in Sadr city, never questioning the fact that she is a "Sunni" woman working in a "Shia" neighborhood. She tells me, "That was the old Iraq. We worked, drove, traveled, went to universities, to parties, no one questioned us. Today, I find it hard to get my spirit back. I saw too many dead bodies and too much suffering. It was worse than the war with Iran, worse than the first Gulf War, worse even than the last Gulf War is our own civil war. That's when I stopped leaving my home. I don't know how to make sense of things anymore," she explains with a sigh.


What Sanctions, War, Occupation Brought to Iraqi Women: Collapse of Rights

Published on Tuesday, November 12, 2013 by Common Dreams

New poll and reporting by Reuters put spotlight on deteriorating situation for women in country 'once at the vanguard of women's rights in the region'

- Andrea Germanos, staff writer


As independent journalist Rania Khalek explained earlier this year:

Contrary to popular imagination, Iraqi women enjoyed far more freedom under Saddam Hussein’s secular Ba’athist government than women in other Middle Eastern countries. In fact, equal rights for women were enshrined in Iraq’s Constitution in 1970, including the right to vote, run for political office, access education and own property. Today, these rights are all but absent under the U.S.-backed government of Nouri al-Maliki.

Prior to the devastating economic sanctions of the 1990s, Iraq’s education system was top notch and female literacy rates were the highest in the region, reaching 87 percent in 1985. Education was a major priority for Saddam Hussein’s regime, so much so that in 1982 Iraq received the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) award for eradicating illiteracy. But the education system crumbled from financial decay under the weight of the sanctions pushing over 20 percent of Iraqi children out of school by 2000 and reversing decades of literacy gains. Today, a quarter of Iraqi women are illiterate, more than double the rate for Iraqi men (11 percent). Female illiteracy in rural areas alone is as high as 50 percent.

Women were integral to Iraq’s economy and held high positions in both the private and public sectors, thanks in large part to labor and employment laws that guaranteed equal pay, six months fully paid maternity leave and protection from sexual harassment. In fact, it can be argued that some of the conditions enjoyed by working women in Iraq before the war rivaled those of working women in the United States.

Years of devastating sanctions followed by war, occupation and the U.S.-backed government of Nouri al-Maliki brought devastating effects to women in Iraq.

Sorry cali, don't want to hijack your thread .... just a bit more info on what the women in Iraq have been through. I just can't get over how horrible for them it's gotten. http://www.democraticunderground.com/10024634075

Mapping Africa

by T. Mayheart Dardar / March 8th, 2014

In February the World Bank announced an ambitious plan to initiate a $1 billion fund to finance an effort to map the mineral resources of the African continent. Their plan is to use advanced satellite and surveillance technology to, in the words of a World Bank senior manager, “identify the areas with more profitability.”1

We are to believe that the World Bank’s efforts are designed to benefit Africa by enlighten African leaders to the extent of the mineral wealth that lies beneath the surface in their perspective countries. Given the record of the World Bank and its twin the International Monetary Fund’s dealings on the continent a degree of doubt about their true motives is expected. The hope for this endeavor is to unearth $1 trillion worth of new mineral resources that will be for the benefit of… Africans? An examination of African history over the last 150 years will quickly reveal that this is a story we’ve heard before.

In the latter years of the nineteenth century three organizations were founded by Leopold II, King of Belgium. The Association Internationale Africaine (AIA, African International Association), the Comité d’ Etudes du Haut-Congo (CEHC, Study Committee of the Upper Congo), and the Association Internationale du Congo (AIC, International Congo Society) were proposed as benevolent organizations dedicated to the “civilization” of central African peoples.2

The reality, of course, was that these were tools used by Leopold to exploit the resources and control the population of the Congo Basin. The result of Leopold’s political maneuvering was the Congo Free State was formed in 1885. The term “Free” of course had little meaning to the African citizens who became literal serfs in what was actually a private fiefdom of Leopold II. The Congolese lost their sovereignty to all lands outside their villages as all land and resources became the property of the “state” which, in reality meant, personal property of King Leopold II. Congolese men labored in slave-like conditions on rubber plantations while their wives and families were held hostage to guarantee that they met their production quotas. When these conditions stoked rebellion the offending rebels and their families were hunted down and killed, their villages burned to the ground......

Full article: http://dissidentvoice.org/2014/03/mapping-africa/


dangerous biases ...

you could substitute that with dangerous bases.

Preparing the Ground for NATO

by William Blum / March 8th, 2014

.....Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been surrounding Russia, building one base after another, ceaselessly looking for new ones, including in Ukraine; one missile site after another, with Moscow in range; NATO has grabbed one former Soviet Republic after another. The White House, and the unquestioning American mainstream media, have assured us that such operations have nothing to do with Russia. And Russia has been told the same, much to Moscow’s continuous skepticism. “Look,” said Russian president Vladimir Putin about NATO some years ago, “is this is a military organization? Yes, it’s military. … Is it moving towards our border? It’s moving towards our border. Why?”1

The Holy Triumvirate would love to rip Ukraine from the Moscow bosom, evict the Russian Black Sea Fleet, and establish a US military and/or NATO presence on Russia’s border. (In case you were wondering what prompted the Russian military action.) Kiev’s membership in the EU would then not be far off; after which the country could embrace the joys of neo-conservatism, receiving the benefits of the standard privatization-deregulation-austerity package and join Portugal, Ireland, Greece, and Spain as an impoverished orphan of the family; but no price is too great to pay to for being part of glorious Europe and the West!

The Ukrainian insurgents and their Western-power supporters didn’t care who their Ukrainian allies were in carrying out their coup against President Viktor Yanukovych last month … thugs who set policemen on fire head to toe … all manner of extreme right-wingers, including Chechnyan Islamic militants2 … a deputy of the ultra-right Svoboda Party, part of the new government, who threatens to rebuild Ukraine’s nukes in three to six months.3 … the snipers firing on the protestors who apparently were not what they appeared to be – A bugged phone conversation between Urmas Paet, the Estonian foreign minister, and EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton, reveals Paet saying: “There is now stronger and stronger understanding that behind the snipers it was not Yanukovych, but it was somebody from the new coalition.”4 … neo-Nazi protestors in Kiev who have openly denounced Jews, hoisting a banner honoring Stepan Bandera, the infamous Ukrainian nationalist who collaborated with the German Nazis during World War II and whose militias participated in atrocities against Jews and Poles.....


Dangerous 'We-Hate-Putin' Groupthink Among U.S. Political-Elite Threatens World Security

Consortium News / By Robert Parry

March 7, 2014

Though we’ve seen other examples of the U.S. political/media elite losing its collective mind — particularly during the crazed run-up to war in Iraq in 2002-2003 and the near stampede into another war with Syria in 2013 — the frantic madness over Putin and Ukraine is arguably the most dangerous manifestation of this nutty Official Washington “group think.”

Not only does Putin lead a powerful nation with a nuclear arsenal but his cooperation with President Obama on Syria and Iran have been important contributions toward tamping down the fires of what could become a wider regional war across the Middle East.

Yet, it is perhaps Putin’s assistance in finding peaceful ways out of last year’s Syrian crisis as well as getting Iran to negotiate seriously over its nuclear program — rather than pressing for violent “regime change” in the two countries — that earned Putin the undying enmity of the neocons who still dominate Official Washington and influence its “group think.”

Maybe that enmity explains part of the mysterious why behind the Ukraine crisis and the endless demonization of Putin.


And, no ....... I don't love Putin or hate the U.S. Our Conservatives are saying pretty much the same things.

Peaceful demonstrations? No. Today's sniper killings prove slow-motion coup.

By Arturo Rosales writes from Caracas. Axis of Logic

Thursday, Mar 6, 2014

Burning motorcycle of a member of the Bolivarian National Guard

Snipers murdered a member of the National Guard (GNB) and a citizen this morning as the men were clearing a street barricade set up by the opposition.

Despite all the support in the corporate media for the “student demonstrations” in Venezuela the protests have turned from any semblance of being peaceful to violating constitutional and civil rights of the population be denying citizens free access and movement in parts of mainly Eastern Caracas.

To escalate the situation even more a National Guardsman (GNB) and a young motorcyclist were assassinated this morning in the middle class area of Los Ruices – where the state TV (VTV) has been under siege for almost two weeks – by sniper fire as they tried to clear one of the “barricades for liberty” set up by local fascists.

Both were shot dead with bullets to the head while trying to clean up road-blocking barricades. Right after the incident an opposition – let’s be honest fascist - mob appeared and burned the GNB’s motorcycle where it lay.


There is little doubt that the disturbances of the last two weeks have been orchestrated to lead to a coup by either forcing President Maduro to resign or by creating chaos and conditions for international intervention.


The Attack By "Peaceful Protestors" on the Venezuelan National Guard on Friday. (Report and Photo Essay)

By Les Blough in Venezuela. Axis of Logic.
Les Blough
Wednesday, Mar 5, 2014

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