Member since: Mon Mar 3, 2008, 02:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,318
Member since: Mon Mar 3, 2008, 02:08 PM
Number of posts: 34,318
\"Indeed, in my four-plus decades in journalism, I have never seen a more thoroughly biased and misleading performance by the major U.S. news media. Even during the days of Ronald Reagan – when much of the government’s modern propaganda structure was created – there was more independence in major news outlets. There were media stampedes off the reality cliff during George H.W. Bush’s Persian Gulf War and George W. Bush’s Iraq War, both of which were marked by demonstrably false claims that were readily swallowed by the big U.S. news outlets. But there is something utterly Orwellian in the current coverage of the Ukraine crisis, including accusing others of “propaganda” when their accounts – though surely not perfect – are much more honest and more accurate than what the U.S. press corps has been producing. There’s also the added risk that this latest failure by the U.S. press corps is occurring on the border of Russia, a nuclear-armed state that – along with the United States – could exterminate all life on the planet. The biased U.S. news coverage is now feeding into political demands to send U.S. military aid to Ukraine’s coup regime. The casualness of this propaganda – as it spreads across the U.S. media spectrum from Fox News to MSNBC, from the Washington Post to the New York Times – is not just wretched journalism but it is reckless malfeasance jeopardizing the lives of many Ukrainians and the future of the planet.\" Robert Parry, Ukraine, Through the US Looking Glass, April 16, 2014 http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/04/16-6
Clinton: 'Let's Be Clear,' Military Option for Iran 'on the Table'
Likely presidential candidate calls Israeli government policies exemplary as she receives lifetime achievement award from American Jewish Congress
- Jon Queally, staff writer
Former Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton speaks after receiving the American Jewish Congress' lifetime achievement award on Wednesday, March 19, 2014, in New York. Clinton spoke at the group’s gala and emphasized the longstanding relationship between the United States and Israel, and also spoke about the negotiations process with Iran. (Photo: Jin Lee, AP)
Commenting on the ongoing talks between Iran and the P5+1 nations over the nation's nuclear program and ongoing western sanctions, former Secretary of State and likely presidential candidate Hillary Clinton told a largely pro-Israel crowd on Wednesday that she is "personally skeptical" of Iran's stated commitments and that, in her eyes, "all options"—including military ones—should be part of U.S. policy towards Tehran if talks fail.
“Let’s be clear,” she said, “every other option does remain on the table.”
Two days of negotiations between Iran, the US, Russia, China, UK, France, and Germany concluded in Vienna on Wednesday with progress, but no final settlement as of yet. Some diplomats leaving the latest round expressed optimism about prospects for a final deal. But Clinton, from her vantage in New York, expressed her continued doubts that diplomatic efforts can succeed.
“The odds of reaching that comprehensive agreement are not good,” Clinton said. “I am also personally skeptical that the Iranians would follow through and deliver. I have seen their behavior over the years. But this is a development that is worth testing.”
According to the Washington Post:
In a 30-minute address at an American Jewish Congress gala — where she was honored with a lifetime achievement award by actress Julianna Margulies and serenaded at the dinner table by Israeli singer Liel Kolet — Clinton presented herself as a tough defender of Israel in the Senate and at the State Department.
Citing the group's website, the Associated Press describes the the American Jewish Congress is "an association of Jewish Americans seeking to defend Jewish interests through public policy advocacy, using diplomacy, legislation and the court system."
Though undeclared, Clinton remains the likely frontrunner as the next presidential candidate for the Democratic party, holding commanding leads in all polling on the subject thus far.
Though she has largely demurred from speculation about her possible candidacy, the publication of her upcoming memoir is expected to begin the groundwork for her positioning.
Long known as a hawk on foreign policy issues, Clinton's vote in favor of the invasion of Iraq under President George W. Bush is largely credited as the issue that lost her the primary race against then Sen. Barack Obama in 2008, as he cast himself as the anti-war candidate in contrast to her record.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.
Posted by Catherina | Fri Mar 21, 2014, 08:47 PM (0 replies)
Neocon and PNAC (FPI) Fellow James Kirchick, Neocon Eli Lake, Buzzfeed’s Rosie Gray (who coincidentally also published an RT hit-piece recently) and Liz Wahl
These people are such liars too.
Rania Khalek @RaniaKhalek
This is what propaganda journalism looks like, neocon style: http://m.truthdig.com/report/item/how_cold_war-hungry_neocons_stage_managed_liz_wahls_resignation_20140319 …
10:09 AM - 19 Mar 2014
Rosie Gray ✔ @RosieGray
.@MaxBlumenthal @RaniaKhalek You know that's a lie, right Max? I'm not in those FARA documents.
11:05 AM - 19 Mar 2014
Rania Khalek @RaniaKhalek
.@RosieGray @MaxBlumenthal Yes you are, Rosie. See here: http://www.fara.gov/docs/5437-Supplemental-Statement-20121219-17.pdf
11:11 AM - 19 Mar 2014
Max Blumenthal @MaxBlumenthal
.@RaniaKhalek @RosieGray You know what IS a lie, Rosie? Nearly every line in this trash you ran: http://www.buzzfeed.com/rosiegray/clinton-adviser-sid-blumenthals-new-cause-his-sons-anti-isra … Time to retract, no?
11:20 AM - 19 Mar 2014
Rania Khalek @RaniaKhalek
.@EliLake @RosieGray Is it normal for reporters to accept lavish dinners from foreign lobbyists, like you and @jkirchick did?
11:30 AM - 19 Mar 2014
Max Blumenthal @MaxBlumenthal
.@kampeas @steveniweiss @RosieGray @RaniaKhalek @EliLake nice to know DC journos think dinners w foreign lobbyists (pay 4 play) is kosher
12:20 PM - 19 Mar 2014
Posted by Catherina | Fri Mar 21, 2014, 08:02 PM (0 replies)
The Crimean people never wanted to have anything to do with Kiev. Check out this historical list of events/referendums that show them trying to get away from Kiev ever since Ukraine was an independent state.
It defies imagination to believe that overnight they wanted to join a putsch government that removed their language from official status and want to go with an illegitimate bunch of Western-backed Austerity pushers who don't even have the benefit of a referendum for their power grab and, lmao, vote for 50% pension cuts, higher retirement age, huge cuts in medical, educational and social services.
It defies imagination. Even the Chief Leader of the Tatars, Mustafa Dzhamilev, after a long and fruitful conversation with Vladimir Putin where they discussed the rights of Tatars in Russia, went back on previous statements and was favorably disposed towards the referendum. You notice how quickly the West dropped the whole Tatar question when that happened and they couldn't pretend the Tatars boycotted the vote anymore because the numbers don't add up for that fairytale.
Over 83% of the population voted without a single gun or Russian troop in sight, except for a few security guards and normal street patrols. Of that 83%, 96.77% voted to return to Russia, just as the analysts knew would happen which is precisely why the US and the EU did everything they could to stop the vote. Entire families went together as if they were on a Sunday stroll. RT and Crimea webstreams streamed all day long. With all that footage, you'd think the West would have even a few seconds of film proving their sour grapes to bombard people with. And by the way, the turnout for the referendum was over twice the turnout of past elections. People were excited, happy and wanted to vote.
There were 135 observers from 23 different countries from EU Parliamentarians to Rights organizations. They all reported a flawless procedure up to EU standards. I watched hours of it while working and never saw a thing.
Paper ballots going in big transparent boxes in full view of everyone and the ballot boxes watched by the citizenry. Kiev tried to mess it up for them by refusing to release voter rolls but Crimea, with its independent Parliament, had their own set so that backfired.
Here's what the Editor in Chief of the German monthly newsmagazine ZUERST! had to say about it, from an eyewitness standpoint (minute 2) "I'm sorry (laughs) this is a complete joke to claim this. I mean if anybody claims that this was a referendum under the gun who wasn't there, I can excuse that he claims this because he wasn't there but if somebody claims this who was there in Crimea I can just say this person is a complete liar. There is nothing to say more about this. There was no gun, the people were free to vote."
And it goes on with in that vein- happy people, normal elections, celebratory mood, Tatars voting to join Russia. This is worth listening to.
If you want more videos just holler, I have a ton of them. Notice how the MSM never has videos, just statements from unknown officials, analysts, guesses, insinuations and the tooth fairy- never any evidence. RT documents it all so people can see for themselves. No wonder we can't have that.
Posted by Catherina | Thu Mar 20, 2014, 02:31 AM (2 replies)
some of us started paying very close attention and digging. We used to laugh at him because of his whiny Op-ed that Progressive Gays won't date him. When he showed up on RT, some of us were alarmed because we've seen this play before. The last time it neocons manipulating feminists groups to get everyone on board for the war against Afghanistan because *women* *burkas* *oppression*. They pull this shit every time, repackaging however they can, no trick too slimey, to play with the emotions of Liberals and get us on board.
And here at DU, the same people who were praising that little shit neocon Kirchick the loudest and plastering his video and swill everywhere are the ones screaming the loudest against RT and any indy media that exposes inconvenient facts. You can't make this shit up.
Then we have people here telling us that "The New Republic" is a solidly liberal magazine. Really? This PNACer, self-avowed PNACer, not only worked at the New Republic along with other neocons but he's still one of its contributing editor at the same time he's a fellow at PNAC (now called the Foreign Policy Initiative)
That little SHIT works directly for:
What a fine contributing editor for The New Republic! What a lovely bipartisan revolving door for these bastards.
Are the Afghan women free yet? Are the Shiites free? Does every Iraqi child have their fabulous pony yet?
Rec, rec and triple rec.
Posted by Catherina | Wed Mar 19, 2014, 09:31 PM (3 replies)
And I won't shut up about it. I almost posted that quote too, that first they come for the Communists who were the first to sound the alarm in the 30s too when the pragmatics said *oh we can work with these guys*, *they're not that bad*. I've seen how bad that 88 Heil Hitler crowd is in real life and I wouldn't wish their hate on my worst enemy. I posted a few of their more tame videos here but crickets. Elections? What elections? For an interim putsch government, they sure are passing a lot of decrees. Today they had requests for a demilitarized zone to *protect* them even though it's their thugs and their military hardware that keeps trying to cross in pro-Russian areas but gets stopped by antifascist activists. Our media, the entire G7 state-licking media, is doing us no favors at all with their lies and their white-washing. I've got bookmarks, reports, videos and pictures galore of these shitheads, many are pre 2012 and from their own websites. In 2012 they were vehemently denounced as neo-nazis by world organizations and the EU parliament. Now? They put on suits, put their lapel pins under their jackets and they're suddenly respectable. In the 21st century! Germany's not even done arresting all its original Nazis yet and they're courting the new ones. Every time I see one of their pictures with Nuland, Kerry or Obama, I'm depressed for hours. Unbelievable. I went and looked at a few White Power sites in the US and those guys are pissing from joy.
Total complicity from the Western media. How about a report on Showan Shattak, in critical condition after being stabbed by Swedish Svenskarnas Nazis following their return from participating in the Euromaiden protests? Showan Shattak is the most well-known Swedish anti-homophobia campaigner.
The established community uses fascists
The attack took place after a "reclaim-the-night" demonstration on International Women's Day in the left-wing area Möllevånden in central Malmö. After the demonstration was over and people were going to a party, a group of fascists attacked a group of left-wing activists. The fascists were armed with knives and four activists were hospitalized, one of whom, Showan Shattak, is still in a coma. It is uncertain whether he will survive. It seems that he may have been a deliberate target of the Nazis, he has been a public figure in a campaign for football fans against homophobia.
The attack is just latest in a series of fascist groups' attacks on left-wing activists. In October, Kvarnby folk high school, a training center in Malmö associated with the Left Party, was firebombed. In December, a demonstration in Kärrtorp (south of Stockholm) was attacked by a group of 30 neo-Nazi thugs. In January, a member of the Swedish Social Democratic Youth was attacked in Malmö.
The entire Swedish Establishment has declared that the right-wing extremism is just as bad as the left-wing "extremism", indicating that when neo-Nazi thugs attack demonstrations against the cuts, it's just a conflict between two equally guilty parties. It is clear that although the current center-right government s obviously is not fascist in any way, it has no objection to let the neo-Nazi attacks intimidate left-wing activists, especially anti-fascists.
Ukraine - a boost for the fascist morality
Throughout the conflict in Ukraine, the Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bild, persistently tried to deny that there were any fascists or anti-Semites present in the Ukrainian Maiden movement even up to the point where he claimed that Svoboda consists of "democrats". The Swedish press gave Swedish neo-Nazis who traveled to Ukraine plenty of space to express their support for the movement and their calls for ethnic cleansing in Ukraine.
It is clear that the Swedish Nazis have gotten a massive morale boost from events in Ukraine. In fact, one of those involved in the attack (on Showan Shattak) had just returned from a trip to Ukraine. As for the Swedish intelligence service, the Swedish neonazis' activities in Ukraine is not something they care about.
The response from the government has been passive. Since the events of last Saturday, the prime minister was forced to declare that neo-Nazis "besmirch" Sweden's reputation. It is undoubtedly true, but it is far from even a condemnation of the attack.
The police has shown very little interest in pursuing the neo-Nazi, who according to witnesses, held the knife. It is reported that he has been repeatedly called in for questioning, but has not been arrested. It looks rather like the police and the court are more interested in blaming the left-wing activist victims for the attack. The Swedes' party, whose members performed the attack, has issued a statement saying that their members only acted in "self-defense" after they had been attacked by a group of leftists. This version of events is also now been published in the right-wing tabloid Expressen , quoting police as a source of information.
Much more at the link.
(Marxist.dk is COPYLEFT)
http://www.marxist.dk/artikler/internationellt/5314-den-svenske-arbejderbevaegelse-star-sammen-mod-fascistiske-angreb.html&prev=/search%3Fq%3D%2522Showan%2BShattak%2522%2Bmaiden%2BUkraine%26client%3Dfirefox-a%26rls%3Dorg.mozilla:en-USfficial%26channel%3Drcs%26biw%3D1280%26bih%3D828" target="_blank">Google Translate Link
3 NeoNazis were finally arrested after a huge public outcry.
We don't hear a word about any of this in the MSM. We don't hear a word about protests taking place all over Europe to protest the coalition with these thugs.
Showan Shattak, founder of ‘Football fans against homophobia’, stabbed by neonazis and in a coma but no one gives a fuck because you have to look at the truth to do so. He didn't even rate a fucking mention in the G7 state-fellating media.
Please come out of your coma Showan. The world needs you.
And fuck all the Neonazi White Power collaborators wherever they be and right up to the top.
Posted by Catherina | Wed Mar 19, 2014, 08:52 PM (1 replies)
19 March 2014
Ukraine: Nationalist MP launches brutal attack against TV executive
A violent attack by a nationalist member of parliament against the head of one of Ukraine’s leading TV channels yesterday must be urgently investigated, and those responsible brought to justice, said Amnesty International.
Oleksandr Panteleymonov, head of the First National TV Channel, was visited in his offices by Igor Miroshnichenko from the Svoboda (Freedom) Party and at least five thugs who beat him and forced him to write a resignation letter.
Igor Miroshnichenko is a member of the parliamentary Committee on freedom of speech.
“It is astonishing that a member of the parliamentary committee on freedom of speech was involved in this attack. The acting authorities must send a signal that this sort of behaviour will not be tolerated in Ukraine,” said Heather McGill, Ukraine researcher at Amnesty International.
The attackers accused Panteleymonov of working for the Russian authorities after a live broadcast of the signing of the agreement between President Putin and the de facto Crimean authorities.
They used racist language and demanded that Oleksandr Panteleymonov apologise. They filmed the whole attack and posted it on the internet. The attackers then abducted Panteleymonov telling him that he would be forced to apologise to protesters still camping out on Independent Square. He was released a few hours after the attack became public.
“This assault on freedom of expression must be immediately investigated and those responsible must be prosecuted. Anything less will only open the door to further attacks against media professionals and activists,” said Heather McGill.
“The acting Ukrainian authorities must waste no time in demonstrating that basic human rights are protected in Ukraine and that nobody will face discrimination because of their political views or ethnic origin.”
How about something stronger like "NO FASCISTS"?
Posted by Catherina | Wed Mar 19, 2014, 05:49 PM (1 replies)
Congress, It’s Time To Clean Up Your Iraq War Mess
by Phil Donahue
Eleven years have passed since the United States invaded Iraq in an unprovoked, unnecessary, unconstitutional action that violated international law.
Like obedient third graders, these politicians took the floor of their respective chambers and read the prepared alarms aloud, often with identical wording:
“A smoking gun will become a mushroom cloud.”
Now, even though the troops have been withdrawn, the impacts of the war will be felt for generations on both sides. Iraq lost anywhere between 100,000 and 1 million civilians. And we lost 4,486 of our soldiers, while more than 100,000 Iraq War veterans are dealing with brain injuries.
They have all been traumatized, but the U.S. government is doing nothing about it.
In Iraq, cancer rates and birth defects have skyrocketed in areas polluted by toxic U.S. munitions, and the invasion and occupation led to massive sectarian violence and a new constitution that strips women and workers of their rights.
For all the members of Congress who voted aye, now it’s your responsibility to clean up the mess you created.
Posted by Catherina | Wed Mar 19, 2014, 05:28 PM (22 replies)
Svoboda (Freedom) party members yelled at the interim CEO and beat him in the face, accusing the channel of a lack of nationalism and forcefully demanding his resignation.
“Write your resignation!” Sit down! I told you, sit down!,” yelled one of the members while throwing punches and pushing Panteleymonov.
“You are feasting in my Ukraine!...Here is a paper, pen, write the resignation now quickly, you animal...You are Moskal (a derogatory term for Russian) garbage!”
He replied to the men, saying: “I am not Russian, I am Ukrainian.” But to that they responded: “You are Ukrainian? You are sh*t! You campaigned for Moscow, you lied to Ukrainians for our money!”
Image from facebook.com/oleksandr.aronets
The Svoboda party’s press secretary, Aleksandr Aronets, said on his Facebook page that they “forced the head of the Pershyi Natsionalnyi Panteleymonov to write a letter of resignation.” As proof, he attached a picture of the paper.
These fascists are so proud of themselves, they're filming these things and posting them on their websites so their supporters can *celebrate*.
Well he’s looking, he’s looking, he’s looking down,
Hoping you’ll clean up this dirty old town.
Finish his battle, before it turns rotten,
Your granddad didn’t vote for fascists, he shot 'em.
Yeah he shot 'em, he shot 'em, he shot 'em down,
Fired his gun till they hit the ground.
So I hope, you’ve not forgotten:
Your granddad didn’t vote for fascists
He shot 'em
Posted by Catherina | Wed Mar 19, 2014, 03:46 PM (0 replies)
Identifying government units or agencies rather than entire governments as Enemies of the Internet allows us to draw attention to the schizophrenic attitude towards online freedoms that prevails in in some countries. Three of the government bodies designated by Reporters Without Borders as Enemies of the Internet are located in democracies that have traditionally claimed to respect fundamental freedoms: the Centre for Development of Telematics in India, the Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ) in the United Kingdom, and the National Security Agency (NSA) in the United States.
The NSA and GCHQ have spied on the communications of millions of citizens including many journalists. They have knowingly introduced security flaws into devices and software used to transmit requests on the Internet. And they have hacked into the very heart of the Internet using programmes such as the NSA’s Quantam Insert and GCHQ’s Tempora. The Internet was a collective resource that the NSA and GCHQ turned into a weapon in the service of special interests, in the process flouting freedom of information, freedom of expression and the right to privacy.
The mass surveillance methods employed in these three countries, many of them exposed by NSA whistleblower Edward Snowden, are all the more intolerable because they will be used and indeed are already being used by authoritarians countries such as Iran, China, Turkmenistan, Saudi Arabia and Bahrain to justify their own violations of freedom of information. How will so-called democratic countries will able to press for the protection of journalists if they adopt the very practices they are criticizing authoritarian regimes for?
Funny that. Russia got listed on the map. The US and the UK got special mentions and paragraphs.
Posted by Catherina | Tue Mar 18, 2014, 03:29 PM (0 replies)
Who Benefits From Ukraine’s Economic Crisis? (Hint: Not Average Ukrainians)
by Jack Rasmus
The International Monetary Fund is a key player amid the ongoing situation in Ukraine. (Photo: AFP)
On March 16, 2014, 83% of the Crimea’s eligible voters have voted by 97% to secede from Ukraine and join Russia. Simultaneously, negotiations between the European Union and IMF with the interim government in the Ukraine, brought to power by a Coup D’etat on February 22, continue toward a conclusion set tentatively for March 21. Extreme political uncertainty thus promises to continue for weeks and perhaps months given these events, while economic conditions consequently continue to deteriorate in the Ukraine from an already extremely precarious state.
Most accounts of the situation in the Ukraine and Crimea have focused to date on political events and conditions. Little has been said in the press about the economic consequences of the Coup and subsequent events, or likely scenarios for the future.
What interests—in the Ukraine and global (i.e. western Europe, USA, Russia)—stand to benefit economically from recent and future events in the Ukraine? Who stands to lose? There’s a well-worn saying, if you want to find out ‘who benefits’, then “follow the money trail”. That trail will also lead to the inverse, ‘Who Pays’.
1. The IMF Deal of March 2014: Who Benefits, Who Pays
While the final version of the latest IMF package for the Ukraine is still in development, past relations and deals between the IMF and Ukraine indicate some likely characteristics of ‘Deal #2’ due on March 21. (Deal #1 was the agreement reached on February 21 between the IMF and the pre-Coup government of President Yanukovich. While that former deal was agreed to on the 21st, it was upset within 12 hours by the violent street actions of proto-fascist forces and the still unidentified sniper killings of more than 100 protestors and police forces in Kiev).
Former agreements and proposals between the IMF and Ukraine since the ‘Orange Revolution’ of 2004 resulted in IMF loans to the Ukraine as follows:
2005 IMF deal terms: $16.6 billion in loans to Ukraine
The Orange Revolution of 2004 resulted in severing much (but not all) of the Ukrainian economy from Russia. That caused significant economic contraction for the Ukrainian economy for several years after. Think of the similar effects of the severance as if the west coast economy of the US—California, Oregon, Washington—were stripped from the USA and joined Canada. While the rest of the world economy, including Russia, enjoyed a moderate real economic recovery from 2004-07, Ukraine did not benefit much due to the economic severance from Russia that followed 2004 and the Orange Revolution. Ukrainian GDP declined or stagnated. In other words, the IMF deal of 2005 did little for the Ukrainian economy.
Then came the global economic collapse of 2008-09, generated largely by US, UK and western banks’ over-speculation in financial securities. The Ukrainian economy and GDP, like many economies, collapsed by more than -15% during those two years. That led to the second IMF deal of 2010. Ukraine believed the second deal would open its exports to western Europe and that would generate recovery. However, the European economy (EU) itself slipped into a second, ‘double dip’ recession in 2011-13, and demand for Ukrainian exports did not follow as anticipated. Ukrainian GDP again stagnated after a short, modest recovery, and then slipped into a recession again in the second half of 2013. In short, the 2010 IMF deal did little for Ukraine as well.
In fact, the 2010 IMF probably slowed economic recovery, as it required a 50% increase in household gas prices and corresponding cuts in subsidies for the same. That significantly reduced aggregate consumption demand by Ukrainian households and slowed the economy. So did corresponding IMF demands for reductions in government spending, which were a precondition for the $15.1 billion 2010 IMF package.
One of the reasons no doubt that the Yanukovich government last December 2013 decided to forego another IMF deal was the reported requirement by the IMF that household subsidies for gas be reduced by 50% more once again. Other onerous IMF requirements included cuts to pensions, government employment, and the privatization (read: let western corporations purchase) of government assets and property. It is therefore likely that the most recent IMF deal currently in negotiation, and due out March 21, 2014, will include once again major reductions in gas subsidies, cuts in pensions, immediate government job cuts, as well as other reductions in social spending programs in the Ukraine.
This possibility does not seem to bother current interim prime minister, Arseny Yatsenyuk, who has publicly commented by the cuts, saying that “we have no other choice but to accept the IMF offer”. In fact, Yatsenyuk and his post-Coup government even stated before negotiations with the IMF began this past week that they would accept whatever offer the IMF and the EU made.
Early leaks of the forthcoming March 21 IMF/EU bailout deal appear that the EU/IMF will provide a $2 billion immediate grant and subsequent $11 billion in loans. The European Investment Bank will provide a couple billion more. For a total package of around $15 billion. But there is no reason to believe that the coming $15 billion will prove any more economically stimulative to the Ukraine than did the 2010 deal of $15.1 billion. The Ukraine, European, and world economy is even weaker today than it was in 2010 when a brief, modest economic recovery globally was in progress. Today the trend is economic stagnation in Europe, significant slowing growth in China, and collapsing emerging markets. Western Europe in general, and Germany in particular, will focus on subsidizing and expanding its own exports first, and will be little interested in encouraging Ukrainian exports to Europe at the expense of its own industries. Thus, as was the case with the post-2010 IMF deal, western Europe in 2014-15 will not represent a major source of export demand to stimulate Ukraine’s economy. More bailouts from the EU/IMF and the USA will quickly be required.
The $15 billion promised represents less than the $20 billion the Ukraine said it needed last December—i.e. before its currency fell 20% and its foreign exchange reserves fell to less than $10 billion. And less than the $35 billion the new interim prime minister, Yatsenyuk, admitted is needed. This writer in an earlier article has forecasted more than $50 billion will be required, given the projected 5%-15% GDP decline expected for the Ukraine over the next two years.
Even if one assumes all the IMF’s $15 billion will actually go into the Ukrainian economy directly the concurrent cuts to gas subsidies, pensions, government jobs and government spending demanded by the IMF/EU deal will almost certainly offset much, if not all, of the IMF/EU $15 billion.
Considering just the question of gas subsidies to households:
The latest Ukrainian GDP (2012) figures show its GDP was equivalent to $176 billion in nominal terms (and $335 billion if adjusted to global prices, or in ‘PPP’, purchasing power parity, terms). Household gas subsidies reportedly amounted to 7.5% of GDP in 2012. That’s about $13 billion in nominal terms. So if the IMF deal pending reportedly requires a cut of gas subsidies of 50%, that’s about -$7.5 billion taken out of the Ukrainian economy. So the $15 billion IMF results in only half that in terms of real stimulus effects. The $15 billion becomes only a net $7.5 billion to the Ukrainian economy.
Cutting gas subsidies will not only result in removal of income for household spending who lose the subsidies, it will also result in sharp increases in gas prices that will reduce spending by nearly all households.
Then there’s the likely IMF demand for pension cuts. Particularly hard hit by the IMF deal will be elderly women households, who receive the majority of the pensions and which are spent to support children and grandchildren.
The cuts to gas subsidies and pensions, and rising gas prices, will reduce consumption immediately (and therefore GDP immediately) easily by more than $10 billion.
IMF-demanded cuts in other government spending will further offset the nominal IMF/EU $15 billion stimulus. Ukrainian government spending today represents 46% of GDP. The IMF will almost certainly therefore also demand a significant reduction in that 46%. That will mean in the short term even further GDP decline. That leaves a net real economic effect on the Ukrainian economy of well less than $5 billion.
But there may not even be the $5 billion to begin with.
The lion’s share of the $15 billion IMF loan will go to western banks (especially in Austria and Italy who are seriously exposed) to pay principle and interest on previous loans to the IMF and western banks (about $2 billion this year), will be used to finance future exports from the Ukraine (now running a $20 billion a year trade deficit), or will be used by the Ukrainian central bank to prop up the Ukrainian currency (now falling 20%). How much of the $15 billion in the IMF/EU package will be initially diverted to cover bank loan interest, finance trade deficits, and for Ukraine’s central bank efforts to slow the collapse of its currency remains to be seen. It past IMF deals are an indicator, much of that $15 billion will be used as a first priority for the preceding purposes. What’s left, if any, will go directly to the Ukraine economy. What’s left will no doubt amount to far less going into the real economy, than that which will ‘taken out’ of the Ukraine economy as a result of cutting gas subsidies, government spending, and pensions.
Add in rising inflation from ending of gas subsidies and inevitable rising unemployment from cuts in government spending, it is not difficult to estimate that the latest IMF deal will have no more positive impact on the Ukrainian economy than did the prior 2010 and 2005 IMF deals. Indeed, it will most likely have an even greater negative impact on the economy in general, and the average Ukrainian in particular.
To briefly summarize in terms of just the net impacts of the EU/IMF deal, ‘Who Benefits’ include: western European banks who will continue to receive principal and interest payments from the IMF that would had defaulted; global currency speculators who will be able to sell Ukrainian currency to the Ukrainian central bank at a subsidized price, Ukrainian companies that will be given export credits to continue selling to western Europe and the western Europe companies that import the Ukrainian exports at a more attractive price.
Those ‘Who Pay’ and who lose include: majority of Ukrainian households that will have their real income reduced as they pay higher prices for gas, Ukrainian elderly who will have their pensions cut, Ukrainian government workers who will lose their jobs, and all Ukrainian households who will lose other government services.
But all the foregoing only refers to the negative net economic impacts from the pending March 2014 IMF deal. What about the general economy, apart from the IMF deal, which is predicted to contract by 5%-15% over the next two years even assuming no worse development in political instability?
Who gains longer term from the Ukraine being more completely integrated into the western economy? Who loses longer term?
2. Russian Loses from the Crisis
The recent Coup D’etat of February 22 should be viewed as the continuation of the west’s plan to sever the Ukraine economy from Russia, a plan that began in 2004 with the Orange Revolution but was not fully realized in 2004 by the west. The consequence of 2004 represents economically a partial severing of the Russian and Ukrainian economies; the February 22 Coup represents the beginning of the completion of that separation, a plan to totally strip of the Ukrainian economy from the Russian. 2004 and 2014 are thus not mutually exclusive events; they are linked and part of a continuum.
As a result of the 2004 ‘half revolution’, Russia and the European Union settled into a rough equal sharing of Trade with the Ukraine, about a third of Ukrainian trade each. Post-coup that will no doubt shift dramatically, and Russia’s trade balance will decline with the Ukraine as the west’s rises significantly, to well more than half of the Ukraine’s total trade in the future.
In the immediate term, what Russia also stands to lose from the crisis economically is the $1-$2 billion of its previously offered ‘deal’ of February that has been already disbursed to the Ukraine and will not likely be repaid. It also stands to lose $2 billion in unpaid gas bills by the Ukraine.
Longer term, there are the USA-EU economic sanctions that will be forthcoming. How extensive they will prove to be and how focused remains to be determined. However, this writer suspects western sanctions may prove more window dressing than serious, at least initially. The USA wants tough sanctions, since it has little to lose; the Europeans, on the other hand, are not as convinced and prefer token sanctions at first.
The UK in particular wants continued Russian wealthy investors money to flow to the UK to prop up its shaky property boomlet, that artificially underlies its current fragile and weak economic recovery. France has recently gone to the USA, with hat in hand, requesting the USA help its economy. Its president, Hollande, will do whatever Washington wants. Europe likes Russia’s crony capitalists and oligarchs and will therefore be selective in its sanctions, focusing on Russian political figures and staunch Russian-Putin supporters rather than freezing of assets for Oligarchs with investments in the west across the board. Germany is significantly dependent on Russian natural gas, but also has a large trade relationship with Russia, more than $75 billion a year. It will ‘talk tough’ to please the USA, but will not act so until it has assurances from the USA with regard to the latter supplying it with low cost USA natural gas—and that will take months if not years.
Concern about counter-sanctions from Russia targeting the extensive western corporate investments in Russia will also serve to reduce the severity of initial western ‘sanctions’. Capitalists on both sides of the dispute, in Russia and in the west, will pressure their governments to not undertake serious sanctions precipitously. They will want to ‘wait it out’ and hope the crisis blows over in time.
Russian stock market and currency losses will prove relatively short term for Russia. It is difficult to distinguish the declines in stock prices and currency from the political crisis, on the one hand, and the general decline in emerging markets that began last year and is accelerating today.
Russian exports to the west in general, and to the Ukraine in particular, could take a more serious hit in the short run, and potentially in the longer run even more so. But Russia is likely able to offset losses longer term by turning ‘east’ and selling more to China and Asia.
In short, Russia will suffer some economic losses from the Ukrainian crisis but not nearly as severe as threats and claims made by the USA and European media and governments.
3. How the USA Benefits From the Crisis
In this Ukrainian crisis the USA has the least economically to lose in the short run, and the most economically to gain in the longer run.
To begin with, the USA has committed a paltry $1 billion to the Ukrainian government so far. And it is not likely to commit significantly more, given the strategically critical USA mid-term Congressional elections coming up in November. The Neocons and Republicans have maneuvered the Obama administration into a box over the Ukraine crisis. If Obama comes down too strongly in terms of a military response, he loses the support of his liberal wing for the elections which already has turned against him in large part for his pro-corporate and pro-war policies to date. If he doesn’t come down hard with big financial commitments to the Ukraine, and is unwilling to implement significant economic sanctions, then the Republicans and political sociopaths like Senator John McCain in Congress will attack him severely. Based on his past history, Obama will likely try to ‘waffle’ between the two poles of pressure, satisfying neither before the November elections.
What this means is that here is a strong political and economic element in the USA that would like a military confrontation with Russia, or at minimum a major economic break and attempt to totally isolate Russia economically. There has been growing concern within the ranks of this element that western Europe—and especially Germany—have forged too deep and too close economic ties with Russia. They want to break those ties and replace them with greater European dependency on the USA economically.
The long term objective is to have Germany and Europe dependent on US natural gas, at the expense of Russian gas. The USA now has a surplus of natural gas as a result of ‘fracking’ and new exploration. That surplus is reducing the price of natural gas in the US, and therefore profits. It wants to export the gas, which will raise prices and profits in the US while increasing profits from sales abroad. However, current legislation prevents the export of that gas. A crisis in Europe and the latter’s need for natural gas provides the perfect excuse for lifting US gas export controls. Oil and energy companies, facing lower demand for oil, want to boosts profits by increased production of natural gas both domestically and to Europe. But the latter requires a breaking of Europe’s relationship on Russian natural gas.
US agribusiness also stands to gain from a Ukrainian crisis. A separating of Europe from Russia economically means an opportunity for increased US wheat exports to Europe. Not least, the US defense and military hardware industry stands to gain as well. With projected $50 billion potential reduction in US arms production next year, a crisis in Europe will certainly provide a strong argument to restore those projected cuts.
4. The European Economy: Mixed Gains and Losses
The Ukrainian crisis poses a number of potential losses for the European economies. First, should the crisis deepen, it will mean a hike in natural gas and oil prices, food prices, and prices for certain raw materials]. It could also mean a reduction in natural gas availability—not just from a Russian reduction, which is less likely, but from destruction of gas pipelines by the proto-fascist Ukrainian nationalists who have already threatened to blow up pipelines from Russia through the Ukraine to western Europe.
Also negative is the consequences for the Euro currency and European stock markets. The Euro has already risen significantly, and is under pressure from global forces to rise further as well. That currency appreciation will make Euro products less competitive and more costly, in addition to the cost of energy. Euro exports, especially Germany’s, to the rest of the world will slow and the Euro economic recovery, barely underway, could stall and even enter another recession, its third since 2008.
Shorter term, Euro stock markets have already begun to decline and will accelerate should the Ukraine crisis worsen politically. Trade with Russia dislocations in the short term will also reduce European economic growth, notwithstanding assurances from the USA it will offset the differences.
In the short term, European banks will benefit from the IMF deal, which is crucial at a time that certain major banking institutions, like the big Italian Unicredit bank, have recently recorded huge losses. European multinational companies will do well, getting to buy up key Ukrainian companies and industries ‘on the cheap’. But in the shorter run, the general crisis in the Ukraine and the latter’s continued steep economic decline in coming months will result in European companies ‘rushing to safe havens’—currencies like the dollar, the Yen, and the Euro—as they move money ‘to the sidelines’ until the crisis abates.
5. What USA-EU Multinational Corporations Want in the Ukraine
It is generally thought that the Ukrainian economy is largely uncompetitive and overly represented by outmoded basic industries like coal mining, steel, metals and other ‘pre-information’ society industries. But that is a gross misrepresentation. The Ukraine offers an especially attractive economic ‘plum’ ripe for picking by western multinational companies. Here’s just some evidence of this latter point:
The Ukrainian economy is heavily invested in nuclear power generation and hydroelectric generation. This offers significant new investment opportunities for western nuclear power construction companies, who are facing growing public opposition to further nuclear plant construction in the west.
The Ukraine is the 6th largest exporter of aircraft military goods, especially transport equipment and has an advanced rocket systems industry. It ranks 4th in the world in terms of IT technology professionals, behind only the USA, India and Russia, and has an exceptionally well educated technical workforce and tech-oriented education system that is growing 20% a year. Its tech market is more than $4 billion a year. 90% of its populace is internet connected and has 125 mobile phones per 100 population. Its shipbuilding industry is one of the most advanced, including natural gas tankers. It has a thriving automobile, truck, and public bus production industry. And it has 30% of the world’s richest soil, producing grains, sugar and vegetable oils at costs well below Europe’s. It also has its own proven, significant, but yet totally undeveloped shale gas reserves.
What the west wants is for its corporations to get its hands on these industries and their products and to integrate them into their multinational corporations’ global expansion and production plans. They will be aided by the IMF as part of its ‘foreign direct investment’ requirements of any EU/IMF bailout deal. As these multinationals ‘invest’ in the Ukraine, western banks will be paid significant fees (and allow Ukrainian banks to share as junior partners in the process). Downsizing and ‘restructuring’ of these Ukrainian industries will follow to integrate them to the global plans of the western multinationals. Ukrainians will lose jobs in these promising sectors, as their wages stagnant, and benefits are cut—as is the case going on globally for workers in all these industries today including the EU and USA.
6. Ukraine Crony Capitalists-USA Capitalists Connections
Little has been written to date about the close connections between the Ukraine’s ‘crony capitalists’ pro-western wing’s connections to western capitalist interests, and USA capitalists in particular.
There are two wings of Ukrainian ‘cronys’—the pro-western and the pro-Russian. Both are composed of opportunist bureaucrats of the Soviet era turned capitalist when the Soviet Union imploded more than 20 years ago. Both wings have been fighting it out openly since the Orange Revolution of 2004, now one in ascendancy, now the other. The pro-western wing is loosely associated with the ‘Fatherland’ Party, once led by Timoshenko and her predecessors; the other by Yanukovich and his predecessors, associated with the ‘Regions’ Party. All the top politicians in both are multi-millionaires and billionaires, having alternating between themselves in raping the Ukraine economically for more than two decades now. The Ukraine in the early 1990s had an economy and standard of living well above the other new ex-Soviet Republics. Today its GDP and average income is less than Belarus and well below Russia’s.
The Yanukovich cronies have been deposed in the recent coup of February 22, or are at least in retreat economically and trying to consolidate their economic forces. Ousted from political control are Yanukovich and ‘Regions’ party billionaire cronies like Rinat Akhmetov, richest man in the Ukraine worth $15 billion, with big holdings in energy and metals; Vadim Novinsky, the third richest; Dymtro Firtash, with billions in chemicals, banking and real estate, who was recently arrested in western Europe; and Sehiy Tihipko, former head of the Ukraine central bank.
The Fatherland party billionaires are now in control, with their very wealthy compatriot, newly minted prime minister, Arseniy Yatsenyuk, running the new government. But behind the scenes lurk the real new crony powerbrokers.
At the top of this list is Victor Pinchuk, the second richest man in the Ukraine with an empire in Media and other business interests. His foundation has been central in funding NGOs (non-government organizations) in the Ukraine, which have been the conduits for western money to help destabilize the Ukraine for years. Pinchuk’s foundation works closely with Yatsenyuk’s foundation. Pinchuk is also close to Wall St. and the Council on Foreign Relations in the USA, the premier foreign policy strategy organization of capitalists in the US. Pinchuk is also on the board of the Petersen Institute in the USA, another key organization influencing US economic and foreign policy. Pinchuk interfaces frequently with the Clinton and Blair Foundations, and is a major participant in the annual gathering of big capitalists at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. He is friends with Bill Gates and Warren Buffet.
Below Pinchuk are other key crony-billonaires like Igor Turchynov, interim President and Speaker of the Ukrainian parliament; Stepan Kuban, who heads the new Ukrainian central bank; Sergey Tartuta, billionaire coal and steel boss with extensive holdings in eastern Ukraine, who was just recently appointed the new governor of the Donetsk region in the east after the Yatsenyuk team fired its previous pro-Yanukovich governor. Tartuta has close economic ties with Poland and Hungarian capitalists. Still another is Ihor Kolomysky, similarly appointed in recent weeks as new governor of the Dnepopetrovsk region in the eastern Ukraine.
These billionaires who are either themselves in the Ukrainian parliament, or who were and continue to control blocks of 30-50 votes each, were undoubtedly behind the ‘inside strategy’ of the February 22 Coup. The ‘outside strategy’ was driven by the proto-fascists on the street and in Maidan square. As the latter stepped up the attack outside the Parliament, on the inside the vote to depose Yanukovich took place, as some of his own cronies deserted him to join the ‘Fatherland’ cronies—no doubt convinced in part by threats that arose simultaneously from the west that their assets in Swiss and Luxembourg banks would be frozen. As for the Maidan proto-fascists—the elements of the Svoboda party, the ‘Right Sector’, the UPA, and others—they have been nicely rewarded for their assistance with no fewer than six key positions in the new post-coup government of Yatsenyuk. These include formal positions of police and military power, such as Oleksandr Sych, new vice-premier (second to Yatsenyuk); Andrey Parubiy, National Security Secretary and head of the National Security Council; Dmytro Yarosh, Deputy Secretary for National Security; and Oleh Makhnitsky, Chief Prosecutor; Dimitri Balaatov, Minister of Youth. It is clear the proto-fascists have chosen positions in the government that will allow them to build, arm and organize their street gangs better in the future, now under official government cover.
7. The Ukrainian Economy—The Big Loser
As noted earlier, the Ukrainian people will be the big economic losers from the crisis. And after already having been for more than two decades. The pending third round of IMF austerity will mean that gas subsidies will be reduced, pensions cut, jobs lost, services eliminated, and inflation will rise. The standard of living will fall still further, as predicted depression conditions of 5%-15% drop in GDP in 2014-15 materialize.
As was estimated by Ukraine’s prime minister last December 2013, Ukraine will need a minimum of $17 billion to prevent default on payments to banks for government debt already incurred. Ukraine’s public debt as a percent of GDP was 39% in 2012. Measured in PPP terms, that’s more than $13 billion still owed with interest. Its foreign exchange reserves are almost exhausted and it needs $20 billion a year just to finance its annual current trade deficit of that amount. But if its currency continues to decline, if its exports decline, and if the cost of imports rise—all of which are highly likely—then the IMF’s pending $15 billion will prove grossly insufficient. Ukraine will need $50 billion, and the question remains whether the EU-IMF and/or the USA will be willing to provide such a large sum. The answer to that is highly unlikely. That means the Ukrainian government will agree to whatever terms the IMF-EU offer in exchange for the $15 billion, and then more for follow-on additional loans necessary. It means the government will cut services and privatize public assets, selling them to billionaires and western interests, at ‘firesale prices’ out of desperation. And it means that foreign capitalists will scoop up Ukrainian companies and industries at historic low prices as those companies and industries desperately try to prevent their collapse and bankruptcy in the coming months of economic severe decline in the Ukraine.
Given the strong trends in the global economy in general toward slowdown, and the decline of currencies in emerging markets, it is likely as well that Ukraine’s currency will continue to decline, further exacerbating all the above problems. The recent 20% drop in its value in relation to the dollar will continue, as the Ukraine is swept up in the general emerging markets crisis in addition to its own set of problems.
With the secession of the Crimea the Ukrainian crisis, economically and politically now shifts to a new level. As the economic crisis deepens in the country, demands for secession will grow elsewhere in the eastern Ukraine as well. How the Ukraine government and the USA/EU chooses to address that likelihood will be critical. Further political unrest and uncertainty will mean more economic crisis, as business investment and production stalls and employment and inflation rises.
The response to the growing economic problems by the post-Coup government in Kiev will also prove critical. With its security forces now being led by proto-fascist elements that want above all a military conflict between the EU/USA and Russia, the great danger is that those proto-fascist forces may provoke a military conflict in an attempt to draw in NATO forces. Should that occur, then Ukraine’s economic crisis will be the least of its problems.
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Posted by Catherina | Mon Mar 17, 2014, 08:28 PM (8 replies)