Ethnic Russian Woman Suspected as Suicide Bomber

The Moscow Times

Doesn’t look like a suicide bomber, does she?

An ethnic Russian woman, who was both wife and widow of Islamist militants, was named on Wednesday as the suicide bomber who killed a moderate Muslim cleric in Dagestan just as President Vladimir Putin was pleading for national unity.

Police said Aminat Kurbanova, a resident of Makhachkala, had posed as a pilgrim to the home of Said Atsayev, 74, in Chirkei and detonated an explosive belt packed with nails and ball bearings, killing Atsayev, herself and six others, including an 11-year-old boy visiting with his parents.

A security official said the woman, aged 29 or 30, was born with the ethnic Russian surname Saprykina but converted to Islam and was married to an Islamist militant. Two previous husbands, also militants, had been killed, the official added.

The bombing came as Putin made a rousing call for religious and ethnic concord to counter extremism.

“We will not allow anyone to tear our country apart by exploiting ethnic and religious differences,” Putin said in Tatarstan, where the senior officially backed Muslim cleric was wounded last month and one of his former deputies killed.

Atsayev’s killing follows a string of attacks on moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus who have publicly denounced the spread of radical Islamic groups known as Salafis, whose followers advocate an independent state, or emirate, that would include Caucasus and parts of southern Russia that contain a significant Muslim population.

Atsayev, the powerful leader of a Sufi Muslim brotherhood, had recently initiated peace talks between Sufis and Salafis.

The mystical Muslim orders of Sufis have for centuries been popular in Dagestan and neighboring provinces, and their leaders and adherents survived decades of Communist persecution. The Sufi brotherhoods are fiercely opposed to the radical and militant Salafis that have mushroomed across the region. The Sufis often pray over the tombs of revered saints, and Salafi puritans condemn worshipping over graves as idolatry.

Tens of thousands of people attended Atsayev’s funeral Tuesday, and thousands more flocked to his grave Wednesday to pray as Dagestan’s secular authorities declared a day of mourning.

The killing of the white-bearded cleric, who appeared in public wearing a traditional hat made of astrakhan lamb fur, could lead to more violence in Dagestan and the Caucasus, analysts said.

“These are attempts to abort peacekeeping efforts in the region and to escalate the situation in southern Russia,” Ruslan Gereyev of the Center of Islamic Studies in Makhachkala, told the Kavkazsky Uzel online publication.

If the killing goes unpunished, the authority of Atsayev’s influential followers will be questioned, said Alexei Malashenko of the Carnegie Moscow Center. “If the main figure is killed and his followers are silent, this will lead to a major reappraisal of values” in Dagestan, he said.

(Reuters, AP)

The Moscow Times

Aleppo–Conflicting stories and the truth

Aleppo: Conflicting stories and the truth

Aleppo: Conflicting stories and the truth. 47730.jpeg

Again the western media is manipulating the facts, sifting through footage taken in recent weeks, showing out-of-date clips of tanks being commandeered by terrorists, then after their murderous filth was chased out of Damascus, they paint a rosy story of Aleppo. The truth so obviously hurts, hence the lies. Here is the full truth and nothing but.

The Free Syrian Terrorist Force is, sorry to spoil the fun, certainly not composed by Syrians. Around 75 per cent of them are foreign mercenaries, murderers, “ex-SAS”, “ex-French special forces”, Libyan rapists, murderers and torturers, and so on, complete with the hierarchy composed of Iraqis and Turks and the token Syrian for the cameras.

Secondly, and sorry to spoil the fun again, things are not going very well for this western-backed scourge and their western masters, furiously scratching their heads as to what to do next. After Libya, with nobody believing a word London, Washington or Paris says any more, and after the foreign policy disaster in Iraq, invading outside the UNSC, what can they do, except keep on sending foreign mercenaries and murderers to their deaths inside Syria?

For those who wish to make a buck by fighting for this filth murdering civilians and raping girls, it should also be pointed out that they are generally not paid until after the first ten days, after which they are generally dead. Someone point that out to them, will you? Thanks.

And sorry to spoil the fun again, but Aleppo has not fallen to the terrorists. In fact, quite the contrary – it is surrounded on all sides, it is totally cut off and the enclave where the terrorists were concentrated, in Salah al-Deen has been sterilised. Few escaped. Allahu Akhbar! A few rats shaved their faces, a handful trickled through; the families of the others can thank the FUKUS Axis and the Gulf Cooperation Council for the loss of their young men. They were literally liquidated.

But we will not hear from or about these, because neither are most of them Syrians nor do they fight with documents, nor will their families see any of the money they were promised.

In Aleppo, there are groups of desperate terrorists left in pockets, low on ammunition, low on food and already doing what they do so well, namely murdering local civilians, stealing their food, looting their homes and raping their girls. And boys. Sodomy after all goes hand-in-hand with the FUKUS Axis and their minions. Remember Abu Ghraib?

Pravda.Ru sources in Aleppo claim this filth is totally alienated amongst the population – as in other areas they are hated (except a handful of villages where the western media concentrates) and there are reports that the civilian boroughs are being pillaged for food and valuables for them to carry back to their villages – and countries, if they get out. The sources have given a very clear picture as to what is going on: hundreds of these murderers, torturers and rapists were being exterminated by the hour by the brave Syrian Armed Forces.

As the terrorist pigs saw they were going to lose the areas they held, what did they do? They tried to storm a 5,500-year-old citadel and destroy it. How low does it get, when you try to destroy historical heritage in revenge? Fortunately, the Syrian Armed Forces were stationed around the citadel and saved it, eliminating the filth as it tried to destroy the main gate. The situation at present is that of the 12,000 rats trapped in Aleppo, perhaps 20% of that force has been depleted, leaving some 9,000 to 10,000 without supplies and no way of getting them.

Meanwhile the terrorist incursions from the Jordanian and Lebanese borders have diminished as security is tightened, the most porous frontier now being Turkey, which harbours the FUKUS darlings in a clear act of aggression against Damascus. The question is posed as to when Syria’s patience snaps and Ankara is held accountable for what it is doing.

The Syrian Government has to be wary of the terrorists using a ploy they and their FUKUS masters have been thinking about for a long time now, namely using their own stashes of chemical weapons to launch a false flag attack, blame the Syrian Government and then whitewash public opinion for an invasion.

So now we see the true mettle of the FUKUS Axis and their terrorists and we see the graveyard of their policies and diplomacy. Rather than Iran being the country to look over its shoulder, Turkey looks set in certain quarters to get the karma it deserves.

You mess in the internal affairs of a sovereign state, you try to destroy heritage as part of policy and by God it comes flying back to you square in the face.

Time for a new age of world diplomacy without the lobbies and corporatist cliques which dictate the policies of Washington and its poodles while pretending to be democratic and accountable. How accountable is an organism that is not elected? Let the balance of power shift eastwards, to Russia, China and India, along with other States such as Brazil which uphold international law and do not insult it by saying one thing and doing another.

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

Pravda.Ru

Timothy Bancroft-Hinchey

US Officials See No Conflict of Interests In Arming “Al-CIA-da” with Surface-to-Air Missiles To Get Assad

[In order to become a US Govt. official you have to possess absolutely no sense of morality whatsoever.  The latest example of government immorality comes via the phenomenon we affectionately refer to as "al-Qaeda."  Congress can pass resolutions which resemble declarations of war against "al-Qaeda"-inspired terrorism, giving us the completely scandalous "Global War On Terrorism" (GWOT), while simultaneously supporting known branches of all-Qaeda and arming them with the most feared of all terrorist weapons, the man-portable, hand-held, SAM (surface-to-air-missile).  We have to do everything conceivable to keep terrorists in Libya from getting their hands on several thousand of these nasty man-killers, except for the terrorists who plan to use them in support of NATO's war on Bashar Assad.  We start a global war against terrorism, yet we openly employ known terrorists to do our dirty work in Syria (unlike places like Pakistan, where we keep our hiring of Hakeemullah Mehsud's gang on the "Q.T.".  This is the kind of shit that will finish-off this country, before our leaders ever really cobble together their new world order.  

We are fucked...and deservedly so.]  

Saudi and Turkey get serious about supporting Syrian rebels

Members of the Free Syrian Army

Saudi Arabia is set to pay the salaries of the rebel Free Syrian Army to encourage mass defections from President Bashar al-Assad’s forces, Britain’s Guardian newspaper reported on Saturday.

The payments would be made in either U.S. dollars or euros — which would mean a rise in salaries as the Syrian pound has fallen sharply in value since the revolt started 16 months ago, the broadsheet said.

The idea was first proposed to Saudi Arabia by Arab officials in May, the Guardian reported, citing sources in three Arab states and adding that the plan has also been discussed with U.S. officials.

However a spokesman for the Saudi Ministry of Foreign Affairs offered no comment to Al Arabiya on such claims, suggesting the topic is likely to be addressed at the joint GCC-EU council and ministerial meeting set to take place in Luxembourg on Monday.

The Guardian also claims that Turkey has allowed the establishment of a command center in Istanbul co-coordinating the supply of weapons to the rebel fighters in Syria, staffed by more than 20 mainly Syrian nationals.

The report comes amid a crisis between Turkey and Syria afterDamascus confirmed that it shot down a Turkish fighter jet that it said had violated Syrian airspace.

The Guardian said Turkey sees weapon supply lines as crucial to the defense of its border with its former close ally Syria, with Syrian forces edging closer in an attempt to stop guns crossing the border into the hands of rebel fighters.

The Guardian says its reporters witnessed weapons being transferred across border from Turkey into Syria in early June.

According to the report, Turkey has given the green-light to establish a command center in Istanbul, to coordinate with opposition leaders within Syria. It is alleged that 22 people have been recruited to run the center, most of them Syrian nationals.

On Friday, Ankara denied allegations in a New York Times report, citing U.S. officials and Arab intelligence sources, that Turkey was among a number of countries shipping weapons to Syrian rebels over the border.

The New York Times also reported that the CIA was on location in south Turkey assisting allies in the distribution of weapons amongst opposition fighters.

“Turkey does not ship weapons to any neighboring country, including Syria,” foreign ministry spokesman Selcuk Unal said.

The neighbors’ relations are already strained over outspoken condemnation by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan of Syria’s bloody crackdown on protests against Assad’s government.

Turkey is hosting more than 30,000 Syrian refugees living in camps near the border, according to foreign ministry figures, as well as army defectors including 12 generals.

Increasing concern

  I think it’s fair to say that we have a concern about the MANPADS coming out of Libya  

U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

Meanwhile as evidence mounts of Islamic militant forces among the Syrian opposition, senior U.S. and European officials are increasingly alarmed by the prospect of sophisticated weapons falling into the hands of rebel groups that may be dangerous to Western interests, including al-Qaeda.

In an interview with Reuters, U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta articulated U.S. worries that shoulder-fired anti-aircraft missiles, also known as MANPADS, could find their way onto the Syrian battlefield.

Intelligence experts believe that hundreds, if not thousands, of such weapons were looted from arsenals accumulated by late Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, and are floating on the Middle East black market.

“I think it’s fair to say that we have a concern about the MANPADS coming out of Libya,” Panetta said in the Thursday interview. “We’ve had an ongoing view that it was important to try to determine where these MANPADS were going, not only the concern that some of them might wind up in Syria but elsewhere as well,” he said.

Panetta added that he had seen no direct intelligence yet that such missiles had made their way to Syria. He did not specifically cite the rebels as potential recipients.

But other U.S. and allied officials voiced that concern, while saying they had no evidence that Syrian rebels had yet acquired MANPADS.

Qaeda joining rebels

  It stands to reason that if any Middle Eastern nation is even considering giving arms to the Syrian opposition, it would take a measured approach and think twice about providing arms that could have unintended consequences  

U.S. official

The urgency of Western concerns stems as much from the recipients of the weapons as the weapons themselves. High-level sources at multiple national intelligence services report increasing evidence that Islamic militants, including Qaeda and its affiliates and other hard-line Sunni groups, had joined forces with opponents of the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Bruce Riedel, a former CIA officer who has advised President Barack Obama on counter-terrorism policy, said that Qaeda and other militants were “deeply engaged” with anti-Assad forces. He cited public pronouncements by senior Qaeda figures, including the group’s leader, Ayman al-Zawahiri, that urged Sunni rebels in Syria to kill members of Assad’s Alawite Muslim minority.

A western government source said that al-Nusrah, a “spinoff” from Qaeda’s Iraq-based affiliate, was responsible for at least some atrocities that have occurred in Syria. The source said the group publicly confirmed its role in killings.

Worries that sophisticated weapons could make their way to the wrong kind of Syrian rebels are one reason Washington remains wary of deeper U.S. involvement in the fighting.

“It stands to reason that if any Middle Eastern nation is even considering giving arms to the Syrian opposition, it would take a measured approach and think twice about providing arms that could have unintended consequences,” a U.S. official said.

Nonetheless, U.S. and allied officials say their Saudi and Qatari counterparts have discussed how MANPADS could be used by Assad opponents to bring down Russian-made helicopters the Syrian army is using to redeploy its troops rapidly between trouble spots.

But such missiles also could be used against other targets, including civilian airliners, one reason for the U.S. and allied concern.

After the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan, the CIA, with Saudi backing, provided sophisticated shoulder-fired Stinger missiles to Islamic militants seeking to oust Soviet troops.

The missiles played a significant role in the Soviets’ ultimate defeat in Afghanistan. But they also became a major headache for U.S. and western counter-terrorism agencies when anti-Soviet militants morphed into anti-Western militant factions including Qaeda.

U.S. providing non-lethal support

Some prominent U.S. Republicans are urging a big step-up in U.S. aid for Assad’s opponents, including arms deliveries and even possible U.S. military involvement.

At a conference on Thursday hosted by the website Bloomberg Government, U.S. Senator John McCain suggested that the Obama administration’s cautious policy regarding the Syrian rebels was “shameful” and urged a major escalation in U.S. involvement.

“So what do we do? First of all, we stand up for them. Second of all, we get them weapons. Third of all, we establish a sanctuary with our allies – no boots on the ground, no boots on the ground – and use our and our allied air power to protect that zone and we help these people in a fair fight,” McCain said.

At the same conference, however, Representative Mike Rogers, the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee, warned: “We are just really not in a good position today to fully identify all of the groups, all of the factions, who’s winning that leadership fight,” he said.

The United States is understood to be supplying non-lethal support to Assad’s opponents, such as financing and communications gear, possibly including monitoring equipment. The Times said that the Obama administration has held back on providing rebels with intelligence information, such as satellite photographs, on the activities of Assad’s forces.

Riedel warned that Qatar authorities might not be too choosy about which Syrian rebels they are willing to supply with arms, though they would try to avoid giving them directly to Qaeda.

“I don’t think that Qatar and the Saudis are as concerned as we are about surface-to-air missiles,” Riedel added.

What do you think about Saudi paying the Syrian rebels? Tell us your thoughts below. 

© 2012 MBC Group

India Has A Primative Infrastructure System, Yet It Has Advanced nuclear Research Labs

 The sewer divers of Mumbai

India has basically no infrastructure system, yet it has nuclear power, a nuclear arsenal and its own aircraft carrier.  

 the Vikramaditya

If the individuals within the Indian govt. had any concern at all for their countrymen, or their fellow man, then the common needs of the  people would outweigh nuclear expansion, as well as all plans to partner with the Americans in an expansion into Central Asia.  

No country that has an economy of a trillions of dollars per year would tolerate the idea that half of the country, or more, has to use the local railroad tracks as toilets    

Saudi Harassment of Ethiopian Christian Workers for “illicit mingling of genders.”

Saudis Contradictory on Why Ethiopian Christians Were Arrested

By Joseph DeCaro, Worthy News Correspondent

saudi-arabia-map

RIYADH, SAUDI ARABIA (Worthy News)– Saudi officials have been making conflicting statements as to why 35 Ethiopian Christians were arrested at a prayer service in a private home in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, last December.

In May, a source close to the Saudi ambassador indicated the Christians were arrested as part of an investigation into a human smuggling ring, but this contradicted the original accusation accusing the Christians of an “illicit mingling of genders.”

Shortly thereafter, Sarah Nezamuddin, a representative from the Saudi Embassy, said the Christians had all been arrested for having issues with their work permits, but after International Christian Concern provided a list of the 35 prisoners with legal work permit numbers, Nezamuddin then said that the Christians were actually involved in drug and human trafficking.

Finally, on May 21st, in a meeting with Congressional staff members, representatives from the Saudi government said the 35 Christians had been arrested for visa issues and were also involved in some form of smuggling ring.

“Why haven’t they brought us to court?” one Ethiopian prisoner told ICC. “Why don’t they show us some evidence and bring charges against us? The Saudis are trying to punish us for being Christians by keeping us in prison.”

“I continue to be baffled by the inability of the Saudi government to explain exactly why 35 Christians attending a prayer service at a private home were suddenly arrested almost six months ago,” said Ryan Morgan, ICC’s Advocacy Officer. “The story keeps changing, and it is very troubling to think that a key U.S. ally in the Middle East may be lying to U.S. government officials about why they are arresting religious minorities. I strongly encourage interested individuals to call the Saudi Embassy and express their concern at this alarming turn of events.”

Rockefellers and Rothschilds Emerge from Behind the Curtain, To Openly Feed On the Carcass

  • From: NewsCore
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree

Old money: British financier Lord Jacob Rothschild has bought a 37 per cent stake the Rockefellers’ investment trust. Above, New York City’s famous Rockefeller Centre. Picture: Frank Franklin

THE Rothschilds and the Rockefellers, two of the world’s greatest family dynasties, are pooling their vast resources.

The Financial Times (FT) reported yesterday that Lord Jacob Rothschild’s listed investment trust, RIT Capital Partners, agreed to take a 37 per cent stake in Rockefeller Financial Services for an undisclosed amount.

The financial marriage of convenience is designed to give Rothschild a valuable foothold in the US, according to the newspaper.

The deal, which brings together David Rockefeller, 96, with Lord Rothschild, 76, marks the culmination of a near five decade relationship between the two scions, the FT said.

The Rockefeller group, bearing a name that gave life to a class of American “blue bloods,” dates back to 1882 when oil magnate John D. Rockefeller launched one of the world’s first family investment offices.

The company has evolved into a well-regarded investment firm for other wealthy families and institutions with $US34 billion ($35 billion) assets under management, according to the FT.

In comparison, RIT has about 1.9 billion pounds ($3 billion) in net assets which are reportedly spread across various global investment classes.

The transatlantic tie-up will “focus on setting up investment funds, eyeing joint acquisitions of wealth and asset managers and granting each other non-executive directorships,” the FT said.

The Rockefeller group is majority-owned by the family, while Lord Rothschild holds a minority stake in RIT Capital Partners

One Helicopter Kills 8 Family Members In Afghan Airstrike

[This is the death toll from a single US/NATO airstrike from a single helicopter.   How many Afghan children total have we killed?   Please allow me to answer my own question--As of the end of 2011, the Pentagon accepts responsibility for at least 3,120 civilian deaths  in Afghanistan since the beginning of the terror war.   Kind of puts that Syrian civilian casualty report into perspective, doesn't it?  How could a helicopter makes such a mistake, when they can hover over a target long enough to learn whether they are destroying the right house, or not?]

8 family members killed in airstrike

by Daud Tapan

GARDEZ (PAN): Eight members of a family, including children and women, were killed in an airstrike in the southeastern province of Pakita, an official said on Sunday.
The incident took place on Saturday evening when the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) helicopter bombed a house in the mountainous area of the Garda Serai district, the governor’s spokesman said.
Rohullah Samoon told Pajhwok Afghan News that the children and women were among the eight innocent people killed in the airstrike.
Three women, four children and a man were killed in the airstrike that hit a house in the Pakhri village, a tribal elder of the district, said on condition of anonymity.
A Taliban spokesman, Zabihullah Mujahid, said that civilians were killed in the air attack.
In a statement, ISAF said they were pursuing a group of insurgents in the area  when the incident happened and they have launched a probe to check whether civilians were killed.

TOTAL, 2007-2011 8,558 3,120 1,115 12,793 66.90

The Imperial Mind

The Imperial Mind

American rage at Pakistan over the punishment of a CIA-cooperating Pakistani doctor is quite revealing

BY 

Americans of all types — Democrats and Republicans, even some Good Progressives — are just livid that a Pakistani tribal court (reportedly in consultation with Pakistani officials) has imposed a 33-year prison sentence on Shakil Afridi, the Pakistani physician who secretly worked with the CIA to find Osama bin Laden on Pakistani soil. Their fury tracks the standard American media narrative: by punishing Dr. Afridi for the “crime” of helping the U.S. find bin Laden, Pakistan has revealed that it sympathizes with Al Qaeda and is hostile to the U.S. (NPR headline: “33 Years In Prison For Pakistani Doctor Who Aided Hunt For Bin Laden”; NYT headline: “Prison Term for Helping C.I.A. Find Bin Laden”). Except that’s a woefully incomplete narrative: incomplete to the point of being quite misleading.

What Dr. Afridi actually did was concoct a pretextual vaccination program, whereby Pakistani children would be injected with a single Hepatitis B vaccine, with the hope of gaining access to the Abbottabad house where the CIA believed bin Laden was located. The plan was that, under the ruse of vaccinating the children in that province, he would obtain DNA samples that could confirm the presence in the suspected house of the bin Laden family. But the vaccine program he was administering was fake: as Wired‘s public health reporter Maryn McKenna detailed, “since only one of three doses was delivered, the vaccination was effectively useless.” An on-the-ground Guardian investigation documented that ”while the vaccine doses themselves were genuine, the medical professionals involved were not following procedures. In an area called Nawa Sher, they did not return a month after the first dose to provide the required second batch. Instead, according to local officials and residents, the team moved on.”

That means that numerous Pakistani children who thought they were being vaccinated against Hepatitis B were in fact left exposed to the virus. Worse, international health workers have long faced serious problems in many parts of the world — including remote Muslim areas — in convincing people that the vaccines they want to give to their children are genuine rather than Western plots to harm them. These suspicions have prevented the eradication of polio and the containment of other preventable diseases in many areas, including in parts of Pakistan. This faux CIA vaccination program will, for obvious and entirely foreseeable reasons, significantly exacerbate that problem.

As McKenna wrote this week, this fake CIA vaccination program was “a cynical attempt to hijack the credibility that public health workers have built up over decades with local populations” and thus “endangered the status of the fraught polio-eradication campaign, which over the past decade has been challenged in majority-Muslim areas in Africa and South Asia over beliefs that polio vaccination is actually a covert campaign to harm Muslim children.” She further notes that while this suspicion “seems fantastic” to oh-so-sophisticated Western ears — what kind of primitive people would harbor suspicions about Western vaccine programs? – there are actually “perfectly good reasons to distrust vaccination campaigns” from the West (in 1996, for instance, 11 children died in Nigeria when Pfizer, ostensibly to combat a meningitis outbreak, conducted drug trials — experiments — on Nigerian children that did not comport with binding safety standards in the U.S.).

When this fake CIA vaccination program was revealed last year, Doctors Without Borders harshly denounced the CIA and Dr. Afridi for their “grave manipulation of the medical act” that will cause “vulnerable communities – anywhere – needing access to essential health services [to] understandably question the true motivation of medical workers and humanitarian aid.” The group’s President pointed out the obvious: “The potential consequence is that even basic healthcare, including vaccination, does not reach those who need it most.” That is now clearly happening, as the CIA program “is casting its shadow over campaigns to vaccinate Pakistanis against polio.” Gulrez Khan, a Peshawar-based anti-polio worker, recently said that tribesman in the area now consider public health workers to be CIA agents and are more reluctant than ever to accept vaccines and other treatments for their children.

For the moment, leave to the side the question of whether knowingly administering ineffective vaccines to Pakistani children is a justified ruse to find bin Laden (just by the way, it didn’t work, as none of the health workers actually were able to access the bin Laden house, though CIA officials claim the program did help obtain other useful information). In light of all the righteous American outrage over this prison sentence, let’s consider what the U.S. Government would do if the situation were reversed: namely, if an American citizen secretly cooperated with a foreign intelligence service to conduct clandestine operations on U.S. soil, all without the knowledge or consent of the U.S. Government, and let’s further consider what would happen if the American citizen’s role in those operations involved administering a fake vaccine program to unwitting American children. Might any serious punishment ensue? Does anyone view that as anything more than an obvious rhetorical question?

There are numerous examples that make the point. As’ad AbuKhalilposes this one: “Imagine if China were to hire an American physician who would innocently inject unsuspecting Americans with a chemical to obtain information for China.  I am sure that his prison term would be even longer.” Or what if an American doctor of Iranian descent had done this on behalf of the Quds Force, in order to find a member of the designated Iranian Terror group MeK who was living in the United States (one who, say, has been working with Israel to help assassinate Iranian nuclear scientists and wound their wives, or one who was trained by the U.S.), after which Iranian agents invaded his American home, pumped bullets in his skull and shot a few others (his wife and a child) and then dumped his corpse into the Atlantic Ocean? Or take the case of Orlando Bosch, the CIA-backed anti-Cuban Terrorist long harbored by the U.S.; suppose a Cuban-American doctor sympathetic to Castro had injected American children as part of a fake vaccination program in order to help Cuba find and kill Bosch on U.S. soil; he’d be lucky to get 33 years in prison.

In fact, the U.S. Government tries to impose the harshest possible sentences on Americans who do far less than Dr. Afridi did in Pakistan. The Obama administration charged former NSA official Thomas Drake with espionage and tried to imprison him fordecades merely because he exposed serious waste, corruption and illegality in surveillance programs — without the slightest indication of any harm to national security. Right now, they’re charging Bradley Manning with “aiding the enemy” — Al Qaeda — and attempting to impose life imprisonment on the 23-year-old Army Private, merely because he leaked information to the world showing serious war crimes and other government deceit (something The New York Times does frequently) which nobody suggests was done in collaboration with or even with any intent to help Al Qaeda or any other foreign entity. Given all that, just imagine how harshly they’d try to punish an American who secretly collaborated with a foreign intelligence service — who created a fake vaccine program for American kids — to enable secret military action on U.S. soil without their knowledge.

But of course none of these comparisons is equivalent. It’s all different when it’s done to America rather than by America. That’s the great prize for being the world’s imperial power: the rules you impose on others don’t bind you at all. I’m quite certain that none of the people voicing such intense rage over Pakistan’s punishment of Dr. Afridi would voice anything similar if the situation were reversed in any of the ways I’ve just outlined. Can you even imagine any of them saying something like: yes, this American doctor injected American kids with ruse vaccines in order to help the intelligence service of Iran/Pakistan/China/Cuba conduct clandestine operations on U.S. soil without the knowledge of the U.S. Government, but I think that’s justified and he shouldn’t be punished.

If you read or watch any accounts of life in the Roman empire, what you will frequently witness is someone being severely punished for an act against a Roman citizen. That was the most severe crime and the one most harshly punished: one could do any manner of bad things to non-citizens, but not so much as raise a hand to a Roman citizen.

Watch how often that formulation is used in our political discourse: he tried to kill Americans, people will emphasize when justifying all sorts of U.S. government actions. In other words, there are ordinary, pedestrian crimes (like this one, from today: “An American drone fired two missiles at a bakery in northwest Pakistan Saturday and killed four suspected militants, officials said, as the U.S. pushed on with its drone campaign despite Pakistani demands to stop. This was the third such strike in the country in less than a week”). But then there is the supreme crime: he tried to kill Americans! It’d be one thing if this outrage were honestly expressed as self-interest (we give massive aid to Pakistan so they should do our bidding), but instead, it is, as usual, couched in moral terms.

That is the imperial mind at work. Its premises are often embraced implicitly rather than knowingly: American lives are inherently more valuable; foreign lives are expendable in pursuit of American interests; the U.S. has the inalienable right to take action in other countries that nobody is allowed to take in the U.S. (just imagine: “An Iranian drone fired two missiles at a bakery in the northwest U.S. Saturday and killed four suspected militants, Iranian officials said, as Iran pushed on with its drone campaign despite American demands to stop. This was the third such strike in the country in less than a week” or “Thirty five women and children were killed by a Yemeni cruise missile armed with cluster bombs which struck an alleged Marine training camp in Texas”).

These self-venerating imperial prerogatives are the premises driving the vast bulk of American foreign policy and military discourse. It is certainly what’s driving the spectacle of so many people pretending that the punishment of Dr. Afridi is some sort of aberrational act which the U.S. and other Decent, Civilized Countries would never do.

* * * * *

Two related points:

(1) NPR emphasizes what appear to be the genuine due process deficiencies in the punishment imposed on Dr. Afridi, though he certainly is receiving more due process than those informally and secretly accused of Treason by the U.S. Government and given the Anwar Awlaki treatment, or accused of Terrorism and targeted with a U.S. drone or locked for a decade or so in a cage without charges of any kind.

(2) Zaid Jilani, formerly of Think Progress, asks a really good question about the Hollywood Election Year film depicting the bin Laden raid being produced by Sony Pictures with the help of the Obama administration: “Will the movie feature Pakistani kids tricked into getting fake vaccines? Probably not.” If the film does mention this, I’d bet it will be to marvel at and celebrate the James-Bond-like ingenuity of the CIA.

This is a cross post from salon.com

Chinese media mock India’s Building ‘Dwarf’ Missiles Instead of Toilets

‘Gao Zugui of the Institute of International Strategic Studies, who said: “Despite giving a little support, it was right in saying that if it really wants to become a great nation, each of its families should have a toilet first.”‘

[How can India's foolish talk about becoming a military "Superpower" be taken seriously anywhere, when so many children in the country go to bed hungry, sleep in the streets, use the alleys and railroad tracks for toilets and are otherwise "untouchable"?  Indian leaders imagine that they can play "world statesmen" without first ensuring that they have something like "no child left behind."]

Chinese media mock India’s ‘dwarf’ missile

India’s Agni-V missile being launched from Wheeler Island off India's east coast

The missile has a range of more than 5,000km – far enough to reach most of China

While the Indian media are being swept along by the euphoria of the successful test launch of Delhi’s first long-range ballistic missile – which can reach deep within China – Chinese papers have dismissed outright its impact on India’s military might vis-a-vis China.

The press termed the test a “missile delusion” and a mere “show of strength”.

While the Indian media dubbed it a “China-killer”, state-run Chinese newspapers mocked the latest Indian missile, the Agni-V, calling it a “dwarf” compared to China’s own missiles.

Both Chinese- and English-language newspapers rejected the view that this missile would tilt the strategic balance in the region towards India, something that the Indian media have been celebrating for the past two days.

Chinese official reaction has been more restrained, with Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lui Weimin calling India a “partner and not a rival”.

In its editorial on Thursday – the day of the launch – the state-run English-language newspaper Global Times dismissed India “standing a chance” in a confrontation with China.

“India should not overestimate its strength… For the foreseeable future, India would stand no chance in an overall arms race with China,” the editorial said.

‘No breakthrough’

On 20 April, an editorial in the state-run newspaper Huanqiu Shibaosaid India’s strategic strike force was in “early childhood”.

It further mocked the missile programme by saying that the Agni-V showed “the backwardness of Indian missiles” and was “merely one of the concrete displays of its social and economic development as a whole lagging behind China”.

In a similar vein, commentator Wu Xuelan wrote in the Communist Party newspaper Renmin Wang that India has always “cherished the dream of becoming a major power” but its social problems “are still very serious”.

Instead of wasting money on developing missiles, India “should do a better job in terms of [improving] the lives of ordinary people”, the newspaper said.

In an interview with the English-language China Daily, a senior researcher from the Academy of Military Science, Yao Yunzhu, said that the new missile is not a “significant breakthrough for India”.

Mr Yao said it was just “an improvement on the range” that in no way will change the “current military strength contrast between the two countries”.

Even commentators and analysts on CCTV‘s Global Watch programme on 19 April dismissed the strategic impact of the new missile launch.

Song Xiaojun, the editor of the Chinese Military Magazine, played down India’s military strength.

“Without an adequate tank corps and a heavy-duty land force with adequate heavy weapons, it can hardly become a so-called ‘China killer’ by relying solely on nuclear weapons,” he said.

Similar views were echoed by Gao Zugui of the Institute of International Strategic Studies, who said: “Despite giving a little support, it was right in saying that if it really wants to become a great nation, each of its families should have a toilet first.”

Hong Kong’s English-language newspaper, the South China Morning Post, on 20 April quipped that “India insists the missile – dubbed the ‘China killer’ in some of the country’s more colourful media – is only for deterrent purposes”.

But: “Amid a powder keg of security concerns and competition for energy resources as China’s rise transforms the political landscape, it poses a potential threat to regional stability and harmony.”

Brigade that posed with dead Afghan bombers showed signs of trouble

[This brigade was working under extreme mental duress after multiple deployments to both Iraq and Afghanistan, just like the troubled brigade which  produced the man or men responsible for the slaughter of 17 Afghanis  in March (SEE: Afghan Shooter Said To Be Suffering Traumatic Shock, a.k.a., “Battle Fatigue”).  

 The deep visceral resentment being felt because of this Pentagon policy which keeps men separated from their families often reveals itself in the form of dehumanized soldiers who come to see "the enemy" as something less than human.  Anger at the Army's breech of promise for forcing multiple deployments upon them may be acted-out in murderous rampages or in acts of human desecration, with the intention of embarrassing the Army whenever the evidence trail which they are leaving is exposed to the media.  Whenever "professional" soldiers repeatedly trash religious artifacts and desecrate the dead it demonstrates a common attitude which must arise from a common source--from their training.  These rampaging soldiers and the idiots who create photographic evidence of their behaviors are really screaming-out to the Army, that something bad is wrong and then leaving the hard evidence to prove it.  

The hard truth remains that the US Army is supposed to represent "the best of the best," defending America's ideals, but, over and over it shows the world this kind of primitive behavior instead.  The image that is being slowly defined in the media is the brutal, bestial side of the American Republic, which we have so far, managed to keep hidden from most of the world.  

The fact remains that the longer we remain in a state of perpetual war, the more our inhumanity is exposed.  Beliefs in "American exceptionalism," as the basis of the military philosophy inculcated in successive waves of trainees, has to come-out everyday on the battlefield, whenever soldiers see common Afghans daring to shoot at Americans.]

Brigade that posed with dead Afghan bombers showed signs of trouble

Christian Science Monitor

Newly published photos show US soldiers posing with dead Afghan insurgents, trophy-like. In 2009, before that brigade had left for Afghanistan, its commander was uneasy.

By Anna Mulrine, Staff Writer

Soldiers from 4th Brigade, 82nd Airborne division are silhouetted as they walk during a mission in the Maiwand district of Kandahar Province in Afghanistan this month. Some troops from the brigade posed for pictures with dead Afghan insurgents in 2010.

Baz Ratner/Reuters

WASHINGTON

Col. Brian Drinkwine had an inkling of trouble even before his 4th brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division left for Afghanistan.

Originally slated to go to Iraq, the brigade received a change in orders: become badly-needed mentors for Afghan security forces. At the time, the brigade was the largest single Army unit ever given the specific mission of training Afghan troops, a mission that senior Pentagon officials acknowledged had too few resources and too little focus.

The troops of the 4th were less than enthusiastic, said Colonel Drinkwine in a June 2009 interview.

“I cannot say there wasn’t some initial disappointment when we learned that’s what we would be doing,” he said, suggesting that his troops were concerned by the notorious corruption in Afghanistan.

He predicted confusion and uncertainty on the battlefield. “When I was young, I had a jeep. You could look under the hood and know what’s going on, how it all works,” he said. The tour for his brigade in the months to come would not be like that, he acknowledged.

Now, the Los Angeles Times has published photos taken in 2010 of members of that brigade posing with the body parts of insurgent bombers who had blown themselves up. The news raises questions about the tensions between the rigors of war for soldiers on multiple deployments and the possible breakdown of leadership within the brigade run by Drinkwine, a former division one hockey goalie at West Point.

Command climate becomes increasingly important in the face of the stress of multiple deployments, as troops of the 4th experienced, says Christopher Swift, fellow at the University of Virginia’s Center for National Security Law. Failures in good order and discipline – such US soldiers posing with enemy body parts – can point to “failure of command responsibility,” Dr. Swift adds, “rather than a fundamental pathology on the part of soldiers.”

Failure of leadership has been a recurring theme among US forces in Afghanistan this year.

  • In January, it came to light that Marines – including a squad leader – had urinated on the corpses of dead Taliban fighters, videotaping the incident for posterity.
  • This was followed closely by charges of insensitivity and possible leadership failure after US service members burned Qurans, sparking a week of riots and the death of six US troops.
  • In March came a shooting rampage by a US soldier that left 17 Afghan civilians dead.

But he also said the photos represented “a breakdown in leadership and discipline that he believed compromised the safety of the troops.”

Revelations of the photographs had senior defense officials once again promising an investigation “that could lead to disciplinary measures.” Said Pentagon spokesman George Little: “Anyone found responsible for this inhuman conduct will be held accountable in accordance with our military justice system.”

But critics point out that the photographs are two years old, yet no disciplinary action has been taken in the interim, even though the names of most of the soldiers who participated in the photographs are known, according to the Times.

Historically, the US military has chosen not to hold commanders responsible for the actions of “renegade” troops. The trial earlier this year of a Marine charged with crimes for the murder of two dozen Iraqi civilians in Haditha resulted in six Marines who had their cases dropped, and one found not guilty. A low-ranking officer, Capt. Randy Stone, was initially charged with dereliction of duty and violating a lawful order, but these charges, too, were dropped.

In the notorious case of Abu Ghraib, the highest ranking officer to be brought up on charges, Col.Thomas Pappas, was relieved of his command for allowing military dogs to be present during interrogations or Iraqi prisoners. Lt. Col. Steven Jordan was acquitted of all prisoner mistreatment charges. The remainder of those who faced charges were low-ranking enlisted soldiers, who received sentences that ranged from three months of hard labor to 10 years in prison.

Senior US military officials overwhelmingly tend to stress instead that the actions were those of a few bad apples. In the statement released on the heels of this latest scandal, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta did not veer from this approach. “These images by no means represent the values or professionalism of the vast majority of US troops serving in Afghanistan today,” wrote Mr. Little on Secretary Panetta’s behalf.

Afghan Thrill Killing–American Death Squad

PHOTO: Afghans burn an effigy depicting the U.S. following the killing of civilians in Panjwai,  Kandahar by a U.S. soldier during a protest in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, March 13, 2012.

Rahmat Gul/AP Photo
Afghans burn an effigy depicting the U.S. following the killing of civilians in Panjwai, Kandahar by a U.S. soldier during a protest in Jalalabad, Afghanistan, March 13, 2012.

FBI Warns of Homegrown Violence After Afghan Massacre

Federal authorities have issued a warning there could be “acts of violence” in the homeland sparked by the recent massacre of 16 civilians in Afghanistan allegedly by an American soldier.

Afghan Thrill Killing–American Death Squad, posted with vodpod

“The FBI and DHS [Department of Homeland Security] are concerned that this event could contribute to the radicalization or mobilization of homegrown violent extremists [HVEs] in the homeland, particularly against U.S.-based military targets which HVEs have historically considered legitimate targets for retaliation in response to past alleged U.S. military actions against civilians overseas,” the FBI and DHS said in a joint “awareness bulletin” to law enforcement agencies Wednesday.

The bulletin noted that there is no specific threat at this time and said it is “unlikely” the recent killings and other “high-profile perceived offenses against Islam” would motivate any homeland extremist to violent action. “However,” the bulletin says, “[the killings] will likely be incorporated into violent extremist propaganda and could contribute to an individual’s radicalization to violence.”

High level federal officials have repeatedly warned that one of the greatest threats facing the American homeland comes from self-radicalized, homegrown terrorists who may be inspired by — but have little to no contact with — major terrorist groups.  In December, a Congressional report released by the staff of Rep. Peter King, chairman of the House Homeland Security Committee, said such homegrown terrorists were a “severe and emerging threat” to the U.S. military at home and said military communities in the U.S. “have recently become the most sought-after targets of violent Islamist extremists seeking to kill Americans in their homeland.”

READ: Homegrown Islamic Terror ‘Severe’ Threat to US Military at Home, Report Says

Tensions at home and abroad have been strained since an American soldier was accused of systematically murdering 16 Afghan civilians — mostly women and children — in the middle of the night Sunday, apparently in an unprovoked attack in Kandahar.

The soldier, identified only as a staff sergeant hailing from Joint Base Lewis-McChord in Washington state, surrendered when he returned to his base in Afghanistan and has since been moved to Kuwait.

READ: Afghanistan Killings and the Troubled History of American Base

The killings have sparked some heated protests in Afghanistan during which Afghans burned an effigy of President Barack Obama as well as the cross.

Speaking of the alleged killing spree, Obama said Tuesday, “The United States takes this as seriously as if it were our own citizens and our own children who were murdered.”

“The killing of innocent civilians is outrageous and it’s unacceptable. It’s not who we are as a country and it does not represent our military,” he said.

ABC News’ Lee Ferran contributed to this report.

 

 

Afghan Massacre–The Regonal Perspective

The Regonal Perspective: Afghan Massacre

nCa

Tariq Saeedi

Ashgabat, 12 March 2012 (nCa) — In the early hours of Sunday, one or more American soldier(s) left their base in Punjwai, some 35 km west of Kandhar, with the express intention to murder unarmed women and children.

The accounts differ. Taliban say it was a group of drunken soldiers, the ISAF says it was a lone slaughterer.

Whether it was one soldier or several, the mission was well planned. There were at hand enough arms and ammunition to murder large number of civilians and also the means to burn their dead bodies.

The number of casualties is still uncertain: if you trust the Taliban, there were about 45 deaths, if you listen to the Afghan government, the death toll was 16.

Central Asia, a region sensitive to developments in Afghanistan, is watching carefully. Instead of being judgmental, the decision-makers in Central Asia tend to be analytical. Here are some of the likely conclusions they might draw from Punjwai massacre:

  • If the Americans can do this in Afghanistan, they can certainly do it in Central Asia if given the basing rights with prolonged presence.
  • Looking at the past pattern, the US government would do almost nothing to either punish the culprits in proportion to their crime, or take effective measures to prevent such outrage to take place in future. On both counts, Central Asia is expected to harden its stance against any more cooperation with the USA, with the possible exception of Uzbekistan.
  • Most of the victims of the Punjwai (also spelled Panjwayi) massacre were children and women. This would make Central Asia contemplate on how far they can go in putting their own children and women in the harm’s way.
  • The American Centres across Central Asia would come under closer scrutiny ——- If these are the ‘American values’ (pumping bullets into sleeping children and women), how far the Americans should be allowed to teach these ‘values’ to the Central Asian youth.
  • A web of lies is already being woven around this incident. Central Asia would be prompted to think where else they are being lied to by the Americans.

To be continued . . .

US Soldier Goes On Killing Spree–16 Dead

[Washington has lost control of events in Afghanistan, thanks to countless incidents like these of American soldiers showing their complete lack of respect for the Afghan people and Muslims in general, whether that be by burning Qurans, pissing on corpses, or massacring two or three villages.  It is more than likely that we are about to see an Afghan uprising against the American presence, after all of this.  This is the straw that broke the Empire's back, and it was all because of the handiwork of the American fighting men and the general disregard for all life in the American culture which produced them.]

US Soldier Goes On Killing Spree–16 Dead, posted with vodpod

U.S. servicemember opens fire on Afghans; 16 reported dead

BALANDI, Afghanistan (AP) – An American soldier opened fire on villagers near his base in southern Afghanistan on Sunday and killed 16 civilians, according to President Hamid Karzai who called it an “assassination” and furiously demanded an explanation from Washington.

Nine children and three women were among the dead.

The killing spree deepened a crisis between U.S. forces and their Afghan hosts over Americans burning Muslim holy books on a base in Afghanistan. The burnings sparked weeks of violent protests and attacks that left some 30 people dead. Six U.S. servicemembers have been killed by their Afghan colleagues since the Quran burnings came to light, but the violence had just started to calm down.

“This is an assassination, an intentional killing of innocent civilians and cannot be forgiven,” Karzai said in a statement. He said he has repeatedly demanded the U.S. stop killing Afghan civilians.

The violence over the Quran burnings spurred calls in the U.S. for a faster exit strategy from the 10-year-old Afghan war. President Obama even said recently that “now is the time for us to transition.” But he also said he had no plan to change the current timetable that has Afghans taking control of security countrywide by the end of 2014.

The tensions between the two countries had appeared to be easing as recently as Friday, when the U.S. and Afghan governments signed a memorandum of understanding about the transfer of Afghan detainees to Afghan control — a key step toward an eventual strategic partnership to govern U.S. forces in the country.

But Sunday’s shooting could push that agreement further away.

“This is a fatal hammer blow on the U.S. military mission in Afghanistan. Whatever sliver of trust and credibility we might have had following the burnings of the Quran is now gone,” said David Cortright, the director of policy studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and an advocate for a quick withdrawal from Afghanistan.

“This may have been the act of a lone, deranged soldier. But the people of Afghanistan will see it for what it was, a wanton massacre of innocent civilians,” Cortright said.

Five people were wounded in the pre-dawn attack in Kandahar province, including a 15-year-old boy named Rafiullah who was shot in the leg and spoke to the president over the telephone. He described how the American soldier entered his house in the middle of the night, woke up his family and began shooting them, according to Karzai’s statement.

NATO officials apologized for the shootings but did not confirm that anyone was killed, referring instead to reports of deaths.

“I wish to convey my profound regrets and dismay at the actions apparently taken by one coalition member in Kandahar province, said a statement from Lt. Gen. Adrian Bradshaw, the deputy commander of NATO forces in Afghanistan.

“One of our soldiers is reported to have killed and injured a number of civilians in villages adjacent to his base. I cannot explain the motivation behind such callous acts, but they were in no way part of authorized ISAF military activity,” he said, using the abbreviation for NATO’s International Security Assistance Force.

An AP photographer saw 15 bodies between the two villages caught up in the shooting. Some of the bodies had been burned, while others were covered with blankets.

Villagers packed inside the minibus looked on with concern as a woman spoke to reporters. She pulled back a blanket to reveal the body of a smaller child wearing what appeared to be red pajamas. A third dead child lay amid a pile of green blankets in the bed of a truck.

NATO spokesman Justin Brockhoff said a U.S. servicemember had been detained at a NATO base as the alleged shooter. The wounded people were evacuated to NATO medical facilities, he added.

The attack took place in two villages in the Panjwai district of southern Kandahar province. The villages — Balandi and Alkozai — are about 500 yards away from a U.S. base. The shooting started around 3 a.m., said Asadullah Khalid, the government representative for southern Afghanistan and a member of the delegation that went to investigate the incident.

A resident of the village of Alkozai, Abdul Baqi, told the AP that, based on accounts of his neighbors, the American gunman went into three different houses and opened fire.

“When it was happening in the middle of the night, we were inside our houses. I heard gunshots and then silence and then gunshots again,” Baqi said.

International forces have fought for control of Panjwai for years as they’ve tried to subdue the Taliban in their rural strongholds. The Taliban movement started just to the north of Panjwai and many of the militant group’s senior leaders, including chief Mullah Omar, were born, raised, fought or preached in the area. Omar once ran an Islamic school in an area of Panjwai that has since been carved into a new district.

In addition to its symbolic significance, the district is an important base for the Taliban to use to target neighboring Kandahar city. Panjwai was seen as key to securing Kandahar city to east when U.S. forces flooded the province as part of Obama’s strategy to surge in the south starting in 2009.

Karzai said he was sending a high-level delegation to investigate and deliver a full report.

Twelve of the dead were from Balandi, said Samad Khan, a farmer who lost all 11 members of his family, including women and children. Khan was away from the village when the incident occurred and returned to find his family members shot and burned. One of his neighbors was also killed, he said. It was unclear how or why the bodies were burned.

“This is an anti-human and anti-Islamic act,” said Khan. “Nobody is allowed in any religion in the world to kill children and women.”

Khan demanded that Karzai punish the American shooter.

“Otherwise we will make a decision,” said Khan. “He should be handed over to us.”

Residents in Alkozai village also demanded that Karzai punish the American or hand him over to the villagers. The four people killed in the village were all from one family, said a female relative who was shouting in anger. She did not give her name because of the conservative nature of local society.

“No Taliban were here. No gunbattle was going on,” said the woman. “We don’t know why this foreign soldier came and killed our innocent family members. Either he was drunk or he was enjoying killing civilians.”

The Taliban called the shootings the latest sign that international forces are working against the Afghan people.

“The so-called American peace keepers have once again quenched their thirst with the blood of innocent Afghan civilians in Kandahar province,” the Taliban said in a statement posted on a website used by the insurgent group.

U.S. forces have been implicated in other violence in the same area.

Four soldiers from a Stryker brigade out of Lewis-McChord, Washington, have been sent to prison in connection with the 2010 killings of three unarmed men during patrols in Kandahar province’s Maiwand district, which is just northwest of Panjwai. They were accused of forming a “kill team” that murdered Afghan civilians for sport — slaughtering victims with grenades and powerful machine guns during patrols, then dropping weapons near their bodies to make them appear to have been combatants.

And in January, before the Quran burning incident, a video that purportedly showed U.S. Marines urinated on corpses of men they had killed sparked widespread outrage.

President Obama has apologized for the Quran burnings and said they were a mistake.

 

Why the US Needs a Major War

Why the US Needs a Major War

By Viktor BURBAKI (Russia)

Why the US Needs a Major WarAt the moment, we find ourselves in the middle of a turbulent phase of the global evolutionary cycle which commenced in the 1980s and is projected to end by the middle of the XXI century. In the process, the US is clearly loosing its hyperpower status…

Estimates offered by experts from the Russian Academy of Science show that the current period of severe instabilities should end roughly in 2017-2019 with a crisis. The crisis will not be as deep as those of 2008-2009 or 2011-2012 and will mark the transition to an economy built on a novel technological basis. The economic revival will, in 2016-2020, likely entail serious shifts in the global power balance and serious military-political conflicts involving both the global heavyweights and the developing countries. The epicenters of the conflicts will supposedly be located in the Middle East and the post-Soviet Central Asia.

The century of the US global military-political dominance and economic primacy appears to be nearing completion. The US failed the unipolarity test and, bled by permanent Middle Eastern conflicts, currently lacks the resources retaining the global leadership would take.

Multipolarity implies a much fairer distribution of wealth across the world and a profound transformation of the international institutions such as the UN, the IMF, the World Bank, etc. At the moment the Washington consensus seems irreversibly dead and the global agenda should be topped by the task of building an economy with much lower uncertainty levels, tighter financial regulations, and greater justice in the allocation of revenues and economic benefits.

The centers of economic development are drifting from the West, which counts the industrial revolution among the main accomplishments on its record, to Asia. China and India should be preparing for an unprecedented economic race in the process against the backdrop of the wider competition between the economies employing the state capitalism and the traditional democracy models. China and India, the world’s two top-populous countries, will define the directions and the pace of development in the future, but the main battle over global primacy is going to be played out between the US and China, with the choice of the XXI century post-industrial socioeconomic model and political system at stake.

The question arising in the context is how the US is going to react to the transition?

* * *

It has to be taken into account that any US strategy proceeds from the assumption that loosing the global primacy is unacceptable to the country. The linkage between global leadership and the XXI century prosperity is an axiom for the US elites regardless of political details.

Mathematical modeling of the global geopolitical dynamics warrants the conclusion that a victorious large-scale war fought with conventional warfare is the US only option to reverse the fast meltdown of its unsurpassed geopolitical status.

It is an open secret that occasionally non-military methods of pushing rivals off the stage – as in the case of the collapse of the Soviet Union – also work, and the corresponding technologies are being permanently polished in the US. On the other hand, up to date countries like China or Iran evidently prove immune to external manipulation. If the current geopolitical dynamics persists, the global leadership change can be expected by 2025, and the only way the US can derail the process being to ignite a major war…

The country facing an imminent leadership loss has no option but to strike first, and this is what Washington has been doing over the past 15 years. The US specific tactic is to pick as a target not an alternative candidate for geopolitical primacy but countries engaging which appears affordable at the moment. Attacking Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the US sought to handle purely economic or relatively minor regional problems, but a bigger game would clearly require a more significant target. Military analysts hold that Iran plus Syria and the non-Arab Shia groups such as Lebanon’s Hezbollah face the greatest chances of getting hit in the name of a new global redistribution.

The redistribution is in fact underway. The Arab Spring spun off and managed by Washington created the appropriate conditions for a merger of the Muslim world within a single caliphateThe US plan is that this new formation will help the waning hyperpower maintain its grip on the world’s key energy resources and safeguard its interests vis-a-vis Asia and Africa. No doubt, the challenge prompting the US to compose this new type of arrangement is the swelling might of China.

Getting rid of Iran and Syria which stand in the way of the US global dominance would be Washington’s natural next step. Attempts to topple the Iranian regime by means of inciting civilian unrest in the country failed fabulously, and military analysts suspect that an intervention scenario akin to those implemented in dealing with Iraq and Afghanistan eventually awaits Iran. The plan has serious chances to materialize even though as of today even the withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan presents the US with considerable problems.

Ralph Peters’ Map of the Middle East, 2006

The implementation of the Greater Middle East project – along with appreciable damage to the standing of Russia and China – would be the key prizes the US hopes to win by fighting a major war… The design became widely known in the US following the publication in the Armed Forces Journal of the notorious Peters map. The motivation which loomed behind the artifact was to muscle Russia and China out of the Mediterranean region and the Middle East, to cut Russia off the South Caucasus and Central Asia, and to disconnect China from its most important energy suppliers.

The materialization of the Greater Middle East plan would ruin Russia’s prospects for a peaceful and steady development as the unstable US-controlled South Caucasus would be sending shock waves across the North Caucasus. Since, obviously, the unrest would be detonated by the forces of Muslim fundamentalism, Russia’s predominantly Muslim regions are sure to be affected.

The US is unable to sustain the Washington consensus any longer relying on economic and political instruments. China’s Jemin Jibao painted the picture with utmost clarity when it wrote that the US grew into a global parasite which prints unlimited quantities of dollars, exports them to pay for its imports, and thus buys Americans lavish living standards by robbing the rest of the world. Russia’s premier expressed a similar view during his November 17, 2011 China tour.

At the moment China is pressing hard to limit the sphere of the US dollar circulation. The share of the US currency in China’s reserves is shrinking, and in April, 2011 the Chinese Central Bank announced a plan to completely opt out of the US dollar in international clearances. The blow to the US currency domination will not remain unanswered, obviously. Iran is similarly trying to reduce the dollar share in its transactions: an Iranian oil exchange opened in July, 2011, where only Euro and Iran’s own currency are accepted. Iran and China are negotiating over the supply of Chinese products in return for Iran’s oil, which, among other things, would make it possible to route trade around the sanctions imposed on Iran. The Iranian leader said his country’s trade volume with China should reach $100b, and that would render the US plans to isolate Iran meaningless.

The US efforts to undermine stability in the Middle East may in part be attributable to the reckoning that the reconstruction of the region’s devastated infrastructures would necessitate massive dollar infusions, the result being the revitalization of the US economy. In 2011, the US strategy aimed at preserving its global leadership started to translate into power-based policies as Washington considers depreciating the dollar holdings among the possible solutions to the crisis problem. A major war can actually serve the purpose. In its wake, the winner would be able to impose its own terms on the rest of the world as it did when the Bretton-Woods system came into being in 1944. For Washington, running the world takes being ready to fight a major war.

Can Iran, given the necessary backing, put an end to the US universal expansion? The question will be addressed in the next article.

SourceStrategic Culture Foundation

The Silk Road Block Named Islam Karimov

[Even though the following is taken from the Soros website, EurasiaNet, it is news from inside the CA dictatorships which doesn't seem to be available anywhere else.  In figuring-out what is going on in Islam Karimov's mind, when he does stupid things like this escalation of the "railroad wars" (which are also a manifestation of the Rogun Dam wars, a.k.a., the water wars), one might tend to see the American hand (CIA) behind it.  The American NDN deal with Karimov does not give Obama some sort of veto over Uzbek actions, judging by the Uzbek rejection of NATO's recent regional conference on Afghanistan in Istanbul. 

Dictators will be dictators, and that alone may be enough to explain the peculiar nature of the international railway hostilities shaping-up over there.  If Kazakhstan continues to protest Karimov's actions by making reciprocal rail closures of their own, with everybody withholding vital winter supplies to everyone else, then there will indeed be riots in both Tajikistan and Uzbekistan--FOOD RIOTS!  These could easily turn into the next colored uprisings. 

Which side will come to the aid of the beleaguered governments then, US or Russian (SEE: Smashing Greater Central Asia – Part IV)?  If NATO forces are willing to do to starving rioters what they did to Gaddafi, then the southern portion of the pipeline wars for CA will be resolved in America's favor.   If Obama is not willing to perform this service for both governments, then the game will also be over and Putin will have won, as long as he is willing to bust some hungry heads. 

A very ugly scenario is shaping-up for Afghanistan's neighbors and it has nothing to do with Afghanistan or Islamists.]

Uzbekistan: The Little Engine That Couldn’t

You might call it the train in vain. And it has troubling implications for a US plan to stoke East-West trade via a New Silk Road, as well as keep American and NATO troops well supplied in Afghanistan.

When it was launched in late summer, authorities boasted that a new high-speed train linking Tashkent and Samarkand symbolized Uzbekistan’s rapid modernization. But the train ran for only a couple of weeks before service was suddenly suspended without explanation. The train – named Afrosiyob in honor of a mythic king who unified Central Asia — now stands as an embarrassing reminder of dysfunction at the state railway company.

The country’s civilian railway system features about 4,500 kilometers of track, making it, in theory, an ideal bridge connecting Asia and Europe. Drawing on its Soviet-era status as Central Asia’s transit hub, Uzbek officials still like to believe that all railroads go through Tashkent. And authorities in Tashkent likewise are said to be proponents of the New Silk Road concept.

But there is a disconnect between Uzbek rhetoric and actions. Over the past 20 years, Uzbekistan has neglected investment in infrastructure while steadily erecting barriers that hamper trade with neighboring republics. These days, Tashkent often closes borders suddenly and without explanation. Neighbors are suspicious and, as recent events underscore, see few reasons to consider Uzbekistan a partner.

Since November 17, Tashkent has suspended the movement of freight cars bound for southern Tajikistan, saying a terrorist attack damaged a bridge. But Tashkent’s refusal to discuss the incident has boosted suspicions in Tajikistan and abroad that Uzbek authorities purposely sabotaged the track to hinder Dushanbe’s construction of the Rogun hydroelectric power plant, and keep Tajikistan from becoming a significant player in the so-called Northern Distribution Network, a vital US and NATO supply line to Afghanistan. Almost all US and NATO suppliesshipped by rail into northern Afghanistan pass through Uzbekistan. Difficulties with neighbors are having an adverse effect on state-run Uzbekistan Temir Yullari’s (UTY) profitability, said a Tashkent-based expert who follows the rail industry. “Officials often paint a cheerful picture [of conditions at UTY], but the reality is more complicated. Relations with neighbors are not good, and this affects trade and transportation. Mismanagement and corruption can be seen at every level [of UTY and other state enterprises],” said the expert, who spoke on condition of anonymity. An official at the Ministry of Economy said promises that UTY would be privatized and thus become more competitive had been tabled.

To the north, Kazakhstan, which has overtaken Uzbekistan as the region’s strongest economy, appears to be responding to Uzbekistan’s delays in kind. In mid-November, state rail company Kazakhstan Temir Zholy (KTZh), suspended all freight wagons bound for Uzbekistan, according to Kazakhstani media reports. The Ferghana.ru news website suggested the move was a response to Tashkent’s restrictions on Kazakh freight bound for Afghanistan. The ban was supposed to be lifted on December 12, but was extended until January. Kazakh news outlets report KTZh is looking for alternative routes to Afghanistan through Turkmenistan.

“During this period, people are busy stocking up on goods for winter,” said Kazakh Zerno, a news agency specializing in agricultural issues. “The suspension of shipments has created shortage of many goods [in Uzbekistan]. If KTZh does not resume shipment of goods in the southern direction, the situation in these countries will grow even more tense, leading to public disturbances.” Kazakh Zerno. The outlet blamed Tashkent for the suspension.
Coupled with these high-profile international disputes, the Afrosiyob high-speed train flop has left many Uzbeks skeptical of their government’s commitment to improving quality of life in the country.

Afrosiyob’s maiden journey August 29 received extensive coverage in the state-controlled press. “Introducing the first Central Asian high-speed train from Tashkent to Samarkand, on the eve of our country’s 20th anniversary, demonstrates not only serious progress in this sector, but also the great potential of domestic rail transport, which now occupies the leading position in the region,” said an August 31 commentary distributed by the official UzA news agency.

Built in Spain and equipped with nine passenger cars, including a restaurant, the Afrosiyob class of trains can carry 215 passengers and travel at up to 250 kilometers per hour on the Tashkent-Samarkand line, halving a four-hour journey on a regular train. Authorities say they have upgraded the track between Tashkent and Samarkand. A second, nine-car, two-engine Afrosiyob train arrived in Tashkent in early December, raising hopes of a fast resumption of service. The total cost of the project is 38 million euros.

Authorities have kept tight lipped about why high-speed train service was suspended in early September, though initial reports suggested the first Afrosiyob train either caught fire or derailed.
In terms of public perception, Afrosiyob’s launch was a massive bust. “Many people are reluctant to take the train because of safety concerns. The trains are too fast for the railway which has not been upgraded for a long time,” said Sohibjon, a resident of Tashkent.

Originally published by EurasiaNet.org


Iraq on the Brink of Civil War

Iraq on the brink

The Iraqi Prime Minister, Nouri al-Maliki’s accusation that Vice-President Tariq al-Hashimi has been ordering the bombing and assassination of political opponents has caused the fragile coalition government to collapse and taken Iraq close to the kind of sectarian violence that followed the United States-led invasion in 2003. It has also exposed the hollowness of Washington’s claim that Iraqi democracy is now stable enough to justify the December 18 removal of the remaining U.S. combat troops. Mr. al-Hashimi has flown to the Kurdistan regional capital, Erbil, where he is relatively safe for the present. The national President, Jalal Talabani, and the Kurdish regional president, Masoud Barzani, have called for an immediate political conference. But the central government’s issue of an arrest warrant for Mr. al-Hashimi, and the withdrawal from parliament of Ayad Allawi’s secular-nationalist Iraqiya group, bring to an end a coalition that actually took 289 days to form after the March 2010 general election. The purported quiet of recent times, in which political violence has claimed 200-300 lives a month, has been shattered by a dozen bombings in Baghdad on December 22 that left 57 killed and 176 injured. Ominously, the attacks happened mainly in Shia-majority neighbourhoods, and could provoke sectarian retaliation.

Even temporary compromise will be very hard to achieve, not least because the Iraqi constitution itself institutionalises ethnic and sectarian divisions. The violence of the post-invasion years caused Shias and Sunnis to flee from mixed areas to regions with greater numbers of their own sect. That deepened mutual distrust and suspicion, which has been exacerbated by allegations that the Shia-dominated government is denying Sunni politicians ministerial posts or is obstructing those who hold them. Now three Sunni-majority provinces on the Syrian border are trying to form a self-governing region. Moreover, the U.S. abolition of civic bodies and the invaders’ destruction of physical infrastructure, on the assumption that all who ran those were fanatical Saddamites, have done more than wreck the everyday functioning of Iraq. They have facilitated arbitrary and brutal policing and judicial practices, with trials conducted as much by confession as on the basis of evidence — a tactic Mr. al-Maliki is now using against his political adversaries. Now the country faces disintegration. That will only add to the terrible price millions of Iraqis have paid already, while the main invader, the United States, washes its hands of responsibility for either causing or preventing it.

Do Iraq and Afghanistan Have a Date With Civil War?

[This is the sad legacy of American/NATO intervention.  Afghanistan awaits the same fate as Iraq.  Just as the leaders of Iraq's so-called "awakening movement" are coming under attack from the limitless car bombs that have been prepared, awaiting the day of retribution, so will the same fate await Afghanistan and Pakistan's anti-Taliban lashkar leaders.  After presiding over the destruction of the tribal systems which have always provided law and order, as well as the destruction of most national infrastructure, NATO washes its hands of any commitments to rebuild whatever has been taken away by the terror war, and simply leaves.  Civil war becomes the only viable solution, as all sides seek to impose some kind of order.  This is NATO's M.O.; its greatest war crimes and, in general, crimes against humanity itself.  America's puppet, the so-called "United Nations," should hold America and its partners in crime responsible for all ensuing war reparations, even the cost of peacekeeping missions. 

The photo below is of one of those Sunni awakening militias in Iraq.  They are all "MARKED MEN," now.]

Deadly attacks in northeast Iraq

BAGHDAD (AP) – Two separate attacks killed 17 people on Thursday in a northeastern Iraqi province that was once an al-Qaeda stronghold, Iraqi officials said.

source

Fighters with the Sunni awakening movement of the Iraqi Diyala province guard two blindfolded suspects during a patrol in al-Aswad village, northeast of Baghdad, Iraq on 13 December 2007. Fighters of the awakening movement in Diyala liberated the village of Al-Aswad from al-Qaeda militants

The marketplace car bombing and the assault on the home of an anti-al-Qaeda militia leader came on the third day of a visit by U.S. Vice President Joe Biden, in advance of the withdrawal of American troops at the end of the year.

A parked car bomb exploded in the town of Khalis as morning shoppers were starting to arrive, killing 10 persons and wounding 22 others, two police officials said.

The officials spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to talk to the media.

Khalis, a Shiite enclave 50 miles north of Baghdad, is surrounded by the largely Sunni province of Diyala. The province was a hotbed of al-Qaeda in Iraq during the height of the country’s violence in 2004-2007.

Also in Diyala, gunmen stormed the home of an anti-al-Qaida Sunni fighter at dawn and killed seven people, police said. The victims of the attack in the town of Buhriz about 35 miles north of Baghdad included the local leader of the pro-government Sahwa or Awakening Councils movement and six members of his family, four of whom were women.

Faris al-Azawi, the spokesman of Diyala’s health directorate, confirmed the death tolls in both Khalis and Buhriz.

The attacks came as Biden met with Iraqi officials on a trip designed to chart a new relationship between the two countries ahead of the withdrawal of U.S. forces by the end of this year.

Iraqi security officials maintain that they are fully prepared for the American withdrawal, which is required under a 2008 security pact between the U.S. and Iraq. About 13,000 U.S. troops are still in the country, down from a one-time high of about 170,000. All of those troops will be out of the country by the end of December.

But many Iraqis are concerned that insurgents may use the transition period to launch more attacks in a bid to regain their former prominence and destabilize the country.

At least 56 Iraqis have been killed in separate attacks across the country in the past eight days, a warning that even more violence may be in the offing ahead of the American withdrawal.

 

Censored! There are no poor people in Saudi Arabia

Two young Saudi bloggers were sent to jail for fifteen days after uploading a ten-minute documentary on poverty in Riyadh, the capital of one of the richest petro-states in the Gulf.
Firas Buqna and Hussam Al-Darwish posted the video on YouTube on October 10. The fifth episode of their Web TV show “Mal’oub Alen” (“we’re being duped” in Arabic) touched on the living conditions of people in the poor neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya, on the outskirts of Riyadh.

 

In the report, Buqna is shocked by the relative poverty of the neighbourhood, where he comes across children “who are barefoot and don’t own any shoes.” Of the three neighbourhood residents that Buqna interviews, one “earns only 1,300 dollars (945 euros) to support his two wives and 11 children. Another resident supports 20 people with just 666 dollars (484 euros) a month.
Buqna and Al-Darwish denounce the stereotype of the wealthy, SUV-driving Saudi, explaining that 89% of the country’s citizens live in debt. The bloggers question why residents of such a wealthy country are slipping through the net and living in poverty. They point out that over the past 27 years Saudi Arabia has donated 56 billion euros to developing countries, while 22% the the country’s own citizens were reportedly living in relative poverty in 2009 (local media put the number at 30% in 2008).
The young bloggers’ video did not go down well with authorities. Six days after they posted the video online, Buqna and Al-Darwish were arrested and interrogated by the police. They were released two weeks later, on October 31. The exact reasons behind their arrest remain unclear.
However, the controversy generated by their arrest has drawn over a million viewers to their online video.

“Poverty is an open secret in Saudi Arabia”

Rachid M. (not his real name) is a blogger; he lives in eastern Saudi Arabia.

There are more and more poor people in Saudi Arabia, and the middle class has all but disappeared. It’s an open secret in the kingdom.
I don’t live in Riyadh and have never visited the neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya, but in the east of the country where I live, there are far poorer neighbourhoods than what Firas Buqna showed in his video. The fact that there are a lot of oil wells in the area changes nothing. Comparing the poorest areas of Saudi Arabia with Somalia, as Buqna does at the beginning of his documentary, makes sense. There are people who live in terrible conditions, on the streets or under makeshift tents.
Poverty was officially recognised for the first time during a visit by Ali Al-Namia, the former minister of social affairs, in the neighbourhood of Al Shamishi in Riyadh in November 2002. He went with King Abdullah, who was still crown prince at the time. The footage was aired on state television. At the time, authorities decided to create a national solidarity fund. But that wasn’t enough to stop poverty from spreading. Wealth is very badly distributed in our country, and corruption is also rife [in 2010, Saudi Arabia ranked 50th in Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index list].
Official media outlets have addressed the problem in a very superficial way. They present poverty as if it affected only an isolated few and not entire swaths of the population, in one of the richest oil nations of the world.
Poor families do get government aid, but they receive symbolic amounts which absolutely don’t allow these people to meet all their needs. Not to mention the maze of bureaucratic red tape they have to go through to receive this aid. What’s more, this aid is granted only to people who have no other source of income. Low-income working families aren’t entitled to it.
“We think they were arrested because they caricatured a commonly-used phrase that honours the King”
There are several reasons for which the two bloggers may have been arrested. According to another famous blogger, nicknamed Saudi Jeans, authorities may not have liked the fact that their video was picked up by a foreign-based opposition TV network. Others think authorities were angered by the videos’ direct, defiant tone. But most people think that what got them into trouble was the fact that they caricatured a commonly-used phrase that honours the King (‘We are fine, we hope you are too’ in Arabic). The beginning of the video shows several wealthy Saudis in a large, elegant car saying ‘We are fine ,’ then a small boy from the neighbourhood of Al Jaradiya saying ‘We are not fine’.
Others think the motive of their arrest was to scare young Saudis, who increasingly use social media and new technologies to express themselves and voice criticism of the government and the country, sometimes beyond the limits imposed by authorities.”

Firas Buqna posted this photo of himself on Twitter after he was freed from prison.

In the words of a zealot…

In the words of a zealot…

Swami Aseemanand’s chilling confession is the first legal evidence of RSS pracharaks’ involvement in the Samjhauta Express and 2006 Malegaon blasts. ASHISH KHETAN scoops the 42-page document that reveals a frightening story of hate and deliberate mayhem

IN THEWORDSOF AZEALOT

ON 18 DECEMBER 2010, a team of CBI sleuths escorted an elderly Bengali man Naba Kumar Sarkar, 59 — popularly known as Swami Aseemanand — from Tihar jail to the Tis Hazari court in Delhi, where he was produced before metropolitan magistrate Deepak Dabas. Aseemanand is the key accused in the 2007 Mecca Masjid blast that killed nine people. This was his second court appearance in a span of little over 48 hours. On 16 December, Aseemanand had requested the magistrate to record his confession about his involvement in a string of terror attacks. He stated that he was making the confession without any fear, force, coercion or inducement.

In accordance with the law, the magistrate asked Aseemanand to reflect over his decision and sent him to judicial custody for two days — away from any police interference or influence.

On 18 December, Aseemanand returned, resolute. The magistrate asked everybody except his stenographer to leave his chamber. “I know I can be sentenced to the death penalty but I still want to make the confession,” Aseemanand said.

Over the next five hours, in an unprecedented move, Aseemanand laid bare an explosive story about the involvement of a few Hindutva leaders, including himself, in planning and executing a series of gruesome terror attacks. Over the past few years, several pieces of the Hindutva terror puzzle have slowly been falling into place — each piece corroborating and validating what has gone before. First, the arrest of Sadhvi Pragya Thakur, Dayanand Pandey, Lt Col Shrikant Purohit and others in 2008. The seizure of 37 audio tapes from Pandey’s laptop that featured all these people discussing their terror activities. And most recently, the Rajasthan ATS’ chargesheet on the 2007 Ajmer Sharif blast. Aseemanand’s confession, however, is likely to prove one of the most crucial pieces for investigative agencies.

Unlike police interrogation reports or confessions, under clause 164 of the Criminal Procedure Code (CrPC), confessions before a magistrate are considered legally admissible evidence. Aseemanand’s statement, therefore, is extremely crucial and will have serious ramifications.

According to him, it was not Muslim boys but a team of RSS pracharaks who exploded bombs in Malegaon in 2006 and 2008, on the Samjhauta Express in 2007, in Ajmer Sharif in 2007 and Mecca Masjid in 2007. Apart from the tragic loss of innocent lives in these blasts, what makes this admission doubly disturbing is that, in keeping with their habitual practice, scores of Muslim boys were wrongly picked up by the Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra Police, in collusion with sections of the Intelligence Bureau, and tortured and jailed for these blasts — accentuating the shrill paranoia about a vast and homegrown Islamist terror network. Many of these boys were acquitted after years in jail; some are still languishing inside, their youth and future destroyed, their families reduced to penury.

In a curious twist, however, in one of those inexplicable human experiences that no one can account for, according to Aseemanand, it was an encounter with one of these jailed Muslim boys that triggered a momentous emotional transformation in him, forcing him to confront his conscience and make amends. This is what Aseemanand told the judge: “Sir, when I was lodged in Chanchalguda district jail in Hyderabad, one of my co-inmates was Kaleem. During my interaction with Kaleem I learnt that he was previously arrested in the Mecca Masjid bomb blast case and he had to spend about oneand- a-half years in prison. During my stay in jail, Kaleem helped me a lot and used to serve me by bringing water, food, etc for me. I was very moved by Kaleem’s good conduct and my conscience asked me to do prayschit (penance) by making a confessional statement so that real culprits can be punished and no innocent has to suffer.”

At this point, the magistrate asked his stenographer to leave so the confession could continue without restraint.

Tell-all evidence? A photocopy of Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page confession before the magistrate
Tell-all evidence? A photocopy of Swami Aseemanand’s 42-page confession before the magistrate

In a signed statement written in Hindi that runs into 42 pages — and which is in TEHELKA’s possession — Aseemanand then proceeded to unravel the inner workings of the Hindutva terror network. According to him, it was not just a rump group like the ultra-right wing organisation Abhinav Bharat that engineered blasts but, shockingly, RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar who allegedly handpicked and financed some RSS pracharaks to carry out terror attacks.

“Indreshji met me at Shabri Dham (Aseemanand’s ashram in the Dangs district of Gujarat) sometime in 2005,” Aseemanand told the magistrate. “He was accompanied by many top RSS functionaries. He told me that exploding bombs was not my job and instead told me to focus on the tribal welfare work assigned to me by the RSS. He said he had deputed Sunil Joshi for this job (terror attacks) and he would extend Joshi whatever help was required.” Aseemanand further narrated how Indresh financed Joshi for his terror activities and provided him men to plant bombs. Aseemanand also confessed to his own role in the terror plots and how he had motivated a bunch of RSS pracharaks and other Hindu radicals to carry out terror strikes at Malegaon, Hyderabad and Ajmer. (TEHELKA tried contacting Indresh several times for his side of the story. He said he would call back but didn’t.)

While evidence of the involvement of RSS pracharaks in the Mecca Masjid and Ajmer blasts has been growing with every new arrest, Aseemanand’s confession is the first direct evidence of the involvement of Hindutva extremists in the 2006 Malegaon blasts and the Samjhauta Express blast. The evidence — both, direct and indirect — pieced together by the CBI shows that the broad terror conspiracy to target Muslims and their places of religious worship was hatched around 2001.

Three RSS pracharaks from Madhya Pradesh — Sunil Joshi, Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange — were apparently at the core of this conspiracy. As the three became more audacious in their terror ambitions they started inducting like-minded Hindutva radicals from other states, mainly Maharashtra, Gujarat and Rajasthan. While the new entrants were mostly from the RSS, Bajrang Dal and Vishwa Hindu Parishad, some members of fringe saffron groups like Abhinav Bharat, Jai Vande Matram and Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram also joined the fray.

However, Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange took the precaution of not sharing too many details with members outside the core group. Joshi strictly followed the doctrine of division of work on a ‘need-tok-now’ basis, with each member knowing only his part of the job.

Aseemanand, who ran a Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Dang, first came in contact with Sunil Joshi in 2003 but it was only in March 2006 that he became actively involved in the terror plot.

It was the spirited investigation into the 2008 Malegaon blast by Maharashtra ATS chief Hemant Karkare that first blew the lid off this broad Hindutva terror conspiracy. Karkare arrested 11 Hindutva radicals, including Lt Col Purohit, who was attached with the military intelligence unit at Nashik; Dayanand Pandey, a self-styled religious guru who ran an ashram named Sharda Peeth in Jammu and Sadhvi Pragya, an ABVP leader turned into an ascetic, for their role in the 2008 Malegaon blast.

But Karkare’s sudden and ironic killing at the hands of Islamist jihadis in the Mumbai 26/11 attack derailed the saffron terror investigation. The Maharashtra ATS under its new chief KP Raghuvanshi failed to arrest Ramchandra Kalsangra and Sandeep Dange and instead passed them off as minor players in the chargesheet.

The investigation picked up pace again in May 2010 with the arrest of two RSS pracharaks — Devendra Gupta and Lokesh Sharma — by the Rajasthan ATS which was probing the Ajmer blast case. Gupta was the RSS Vibagh Pracharak of Muzaffarnagar, Bihar. He provided logistical support to Joshi, Kalsangra and Dange and harboured the latter two in RSS offices while they were on the run from agencies.

Lokesh Sharma was a RSS worker close to Joshi. He purchased the two Nokia phones that were used to trigger bombs at Mecca Masjid and Ajmer Sharif. It is Sharma’s interrogation that revealed for the first time that RSS national executive member Indresh Kumar was a key figure in the terror conspiracy. The joint investigation of the Rajasthan ATS and CBI, in fact, went on to reveal that, except Pragya Singh Thakur, all those who were arrested by the Maharashtra ATS in 2008 were actually fringe players while the core group comprising Indresh Kumar, Kalsangra and Dange allegedly held the key to the full terror plot.

In June 2010, the CBI examined a witness named Bharat Riteshwar, a resident of district Valsad in Gujarat and a close associate of Swami Aseemanand. Riteshwar told the CBI that Sunil Joshi was a protégé of Indresh and had his approval and logistical support for carrying out terror attacks.

On 19 November 2010 the CBI cracked down on a hideout in Haridwar and arrested Swami Aseemanand, who had been a fugitive for over two years since Sadhvi Pragya’s arrest in October 2008. His arrest unlocked many more pieces.

NABA KUMAR — alias Swami Aseemanand — was originally from Kamaarpukar village in Hooghly district in West Bengal — the birthplace of Ramakrishna Paramhansa. In 1971, after completing his BSc (honours) from Hooghly, Naba Kumar went to Bardman district to pursue a master’s degree in science. Though he was involved with RSS activities from school, it was during his post-graduation years that Naba Kumar became an active RSS member. In 1977, he started working full-time with the RSS-run Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram in Purulia and Bankura districts. In 1981, his guru Swami Parmanand rechristened him as Swami Aseemanand.

From 1988 to 1993, he served with the Vanvasi Kalyan Ashram at Andaman and Nicobar islands. Between 1993 and 1997, he toured across India to deliver sermons on Hindu religion among the tribals. In 1997, he settled down in the Dangs district in Gujarat and started a tribal welfare organisation called Shabri Dham. Aseemanand was known in the area for his rabid anti-minority speeches and his relentless campaign against Christian missionaries.

Aseemanand is seen as being close to the RSS leadership. In the past, leaders like Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi, Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan, former RSS chief KS Sudarshan and current chief Mohan Bhagwat have attended religious functions organised by him at Shabri Dham.

While Aseemanand was known for his vitriolic anti-minority positions, according to his confession, it was the heinous massacre of Hindu devotees at Akshardham temple by Islamist suicide bombers in 2002 that was the first real kindle for their retaliatory terror attacks.

“The Muslim terrorists started attacking Hindu temples in 2002,” Aseemanand said. “This caused great concern and anger in me. I used to share my concerns about the growing menace of Islamic terrorism with Bharat Riteshwar of Valsad.”

In 2003, Aseemanand came in contact with Sunil Joshi and Pragya Singh Thakur. He would often discuss Islamist terrorism with them as well. Finally, according to him, it was the terror attack on Sankatmochan temple in Varanasi in March 2006 which was the real flashpoint for them.

“In March 2006, Pragya Thakur, Sunil Joshi, Bharat Riteshwar and I decided to give a befitting reply to the Sankatmochan blasts,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Aseemanand gave Rs. 25,000 to Joshi to arrange the necessary logistics for the blasts. He also sent Joshi and Riteshwar to Gorakhpur to seek assistance from firebrand BJP MP Yogi Adityanath. In April 2006, Joshi apparently held a hush-hush meeting with the Adityanath, infamous for his rabid anti-Muslim speeches. But Aseemanand says, “Joshi came back and told me that Adityanath was not of much help.”

However, this did not deter Aseemanand. He went ahead with his plans.

In June 2006, Aseemanand, Riteshwar, Sadhvi Pragya and Joshi again met at Riteshwar’s house in Valsad. It proved to be a chilling one, with far-reaching consequences. Joshi, for the first time, brought four associates with him — Dange, Kalsangra, Lokesh Sharma and Ashok alias Amit.

“I told everybody that bomb ka jawab bomb se dena chahiye, (I told everyone we should answer bombs with bombs),” says Aseemanand. “At that meeting I realised Joshi and his group were already doing something on the subject,” he adds.

“After the combined meeting,” Aseemanand says, “Joshi, Pragya, Riteshwar and I huddled together for a separate meeting. I suggested that 80 percent of the people of Malegaon were Muslims and we should explode the first bomb in Malegaon itself. I also said that during the Partition, the Nizam of Hyderabad had wanted to go with Pakistan so Hyderabad was also a fair target. Then I said that since Hindus also throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah in large numbers we should also explode a bomb in Ajmer which would deter the Hindus from going there. I also suggested the Aligarh Muslim University as a terror target.”

According to Aseemanand everybody agreed to target these places.

“In the meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi suggested that it was basically Pakistanis who travel on the Samjhauta Express train that runs between India and Pakistan and therefore we should attack the train as well. Joshi took the responsibility of targeting Samjhauta himself and said that the chemicals required for the blasts would be arranged by Dange.”

Aseemanand’s confession goes on in grave detail. “Joshi said three teams would be constituted to execute the blasts. One team would arrange finance and logistics. The second team would arrange for the explosives. And the third team would plant the bombs. He also said that the members of one team should not know members from the other two teams. So even if one gets arrested the others would remain safe,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

Hate and anger had slipped off the edge into mayhem.

‘Since Hindus throng the Ajmer Sharif Dargah we thought a bomb blast in Ajmer would deter Hindus from going there,’ the Swami said

ON 8 SEPTEMBER 2006, at 1.30 pm, four bombs exploded in the communally tense town of Malegaon in Maharashtra. Besides being a Friday, the Muslim festival Shab-e-barat was being observed. Three bombs went off in the compound of the Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan. A fourth bomb exploded at Mushawart Chowk.

Out of three bombs, one was placed at the entrance gate of Hamidiya Masjid and Bada Kabrastan, the second on a bicycle parked in the parking lot situated inside the compound and the third was hung on the wall of the power supply room situated in front of Vaju Khana, inside the compound. The fourth bomb went off in the crowded junction of Mushawart Chowk, which was placed on a bicycle, near an electric pole. The attack was meticulously planned; the bombs exploded in quick succession. Thirty one Muslims were killed; over 312 were injured.

In a suspiciously swift investigation, the Maharashtra ATS arraigned nine Malegaon Muslims within 90 days. Eight of these were members of the Student Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), the outlawed radical Muslim outfit. Another three Malegaon Muslims were shown absconding. Stringent provisions of the draconian Maharashtra Control of Organised Crime Act (MCOCA) were invoked.

On 21 December 2006, the same day that the ATS filed the chargesheet against the nine Malegaon Muslims, the Maharashtra government asked the CBI to take over the probe. In effect, the CBI was presented with a fait accompli: the case had already been so-called solved and the accused had been chargesheeted.

A year ago, the CBI filed a supplementary chargesheet but failed to produce any material evidence. For over four years, these nine Malegaon Muslims have been languishing in prison. Aseemanand’s confession now seems proof that the boys were innocent and had been arrested merely to deflect criticism and create a false sense of security among Indian citizens that the blast cases were being “solved”. The real mastermind, according to Aseemanand, was Sunil Joshi. And it was Aseemanand himself who had persuaded Joshi to explode bombs in Malegaon.

This is what he told the magistrate. “Joshi came to see me at Shabri Dham on Diwali in 2006. The Malegaon blasts had already happened. Sunil told me the blasts were carried out by our men. I said the newspaper reports had mentioned that Muslims were behind the blasts and a few Muslims had also been arrested. Sunil assured me the blasts were carried out by him but he refused to reveal the identity of our men who had executed the blasts.”

ON 18 February 2007, on the eve of the then Pakistan foreign minister Khurshid Kasuri’s visit to India to carry forward the peace dialogue, two powerful bombs went off around midnight in two coaches of the cross-border Samjhauta Express, running between Delhi and Lahore. The train had reached Diwana near Panipat, 80 km north of Delhi. The coaches turned into an inferno. The third bomb placed in another coach failed to detonate. Sixty eight people were killed. Dozens were injured. The peace dialogue received a big setback.

Investigation revealed that three suitcases filled with detonators, timers, iron pipes containing explosives and bottles filled with petrol and kerosene had been smuggled into the three coaches.

The needle of suspicion veered immediately to Pakistani extremists. Depending upon which investigating agency you were speaking to, Pakistan-based terror outfits mainly Harkat-ul-Jihad Islami (HUJI) and Lashkar-e-Toiba (LeT)were blamed for the blasts. Even the US State Department called the terror attack a joint operation of the LeT and HUJI. The Haryana Police tracked down some of the material used in the blasts as being procured from a market in Indore but the trail soon went cold.

In November 2008, the Maharashtra ATS told a court in Nashik that Lt Col Purohit had procured 60 kg of RDX from Jammu & Kashmir in 2006 and a part of it was suspected to have been used in the Samjhauta Express blasts. But the ATS subsequently failed to back its claims with any evidence and was forced to retract. The Haryana cops travelled to Mumbai and interrogated Purohit and other Malegaon accused but could not find any evidence that could link them to the Samjhauta blasts.

In July 2010, the Samjhauta blast probe was handed over to the National Investigating Agency (NIA). Though it still leaves some questions and loose ends, Aseemanand’s confession now joins many other dots in relation to the Samjhauta Express.

The massacre of Hindu devotees at the Akshardham temple by Islamist bombers in 2002 was the first real kindle for the retaliatory attacks

“In February 2007,” Aseemanand told the magistrate, “Riteshwar and Joshi came on a motorbike to a Lord Shiva temple in a place called Balpur. As we had fixed this place for our meeting, I was already there, waiting for the two. Joshi told me in the next two days there would be a piece of good news and I should keep a tab on the newspapers. After the meeting I came back to Shabri Dham and Joshi and Riteshwar went their way. After a couple of days I went to meet Riteshwar at his Valsad residence. Joshi and Pragya were already present there. The Samjhauta Express blasts had happened. I asked Joshi how he was present there while Samjhauta had already happened in Haryana. Joshi replied that the blasts were done by his men.”

“In the same meeting,” Aseemanand continues, “Joshi took Rs. 40,000 from me to carry out the blasts in Hyderabad. A few months later, Joshi telephoned me and told me to keep a tab on the newspapers as some good news was in the offing. In a few days the news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared in the papers. After 7-8 days, Joshi came to Shabri Dham and brought a Telegu newspaper with him. It had a picture of the blast. I told Joshi that in the papers it had appeared that some Muslim boys had been rounded up for the blast. But Joshi replied it was done by our people.”

LIKE IN the case of the 2006 Malegaon blast, 17 May 2007 was a Friday. At 1.30 pm, as over 4,000 Muslims assembled to offer their Friday prayers at the iconic Mecca Masjid, situated near the Charminar in the old city of Hyderabad, a bomb went off near the Wazu Khana (fountain) meant for doing wazu (ablution before prayers) inside the mosque.

Another IED contained in a blue rexine bag was found hanging near the door-way at the northern end of the mosque. Miraculously, this bomb had not exploded. With no substantive clue emerging from the blast investigation, in a cynical move, the Hyderabad police launched a mop-up operation against local Muslim boys, who were associated with Ahle Hadess, the doggedly fundamentalist sect among Sunni Muslims. Friends and family members of some known local Muslim extremists like Shahid Bilal, who had fled to Pakistan, were also rounded up. In a span of two weeks, over three dozen boys from Malakpet and Saidabaad were picked up and tortured. However, when the police failed to link them to the Mecca Masjid case, they registered three separate bogus cases and implicated the detainees in these cases.

On 9 June 2007, the CBI took over the investigation into the Mecca Masjid case.

A few months later, on 11 October 2007, during the month of Ramzan, at 6.15 pm, as Muslim devotees had begun their iftaar at Ajmer Sharif dargah, a powerful bomb went off near a tree in the compound, killing three people and injuring over a dozen. Investigators found one more unexploded IED at the site.

Swami says, ‘Joshi told me to keep a tab on the papers as some good news was in the offing. Soon after, news of the Mecca Masjid blast appeared’

According to Aseemanand, this blast had been executed by Muslim boys provided by Indresh Kumar. “A couple of days after the Ajmer blast Joshi came to see me. He was accompanied by two men named Raj and Mehul who had also visited Shabri Dham on previous occasions. Joshi claimed his men had perpetrated the blast and he was also present at Ajmer Dargah at the time of the blast. He said that Indresh had provided him two Muslim boys to plant the bomb. I told Joshi that if the Muslim boys get caught, Indresh would get exposed. I also told Joshi that Indresh might get him killed and told him to stay at Shabri Dham. Joshi then told me that Raj and Mehul were wanted in the Baroda Best Bakery case (12 Muslims were killed by rioters in Best Bakery in Gujarat 2002). I told Joshi not to keep Raj and Mehul at the ashram as it would not be safe for them to stay in Gujarat. Joshi, along with the two men, left for Dewas the next day,” said Aseemanand.

Barely two months later, on 29 December 2007, in a sudden twist, Aseemanand’s fears came true. Sunil Joshi was mysteriously murdered outside his house in Dewas, Madhya Pradesh. His family claimed he had been murdered by his own organisation. After her arrest, Sadhvi Pragya Thakur also suggested this. But the Madhya Pradesh Police failed to solve the case and filed a closure report in the court.

At the end of December 2010 though, acting on fresh leads, the Madhya Pradesh police finally accepted that Joshi had been murdered by his own friends in the RSS. They charged Mayank, Harshad Solanki, Mehul and Mohan from Gujarat, Anand Raj Katare from Indore and Vasudev Parmar from Dewas with Joshi’s murder. While Mehul and Mohan are still on the run, Solanki was brought before the Dewas court where he confessed to the murder. However, even these arrests don’t join all the dots. The police claim internal rivalry as the motive for the murder. The CBI, though, believes the real motive behind Joshi’s murder was to silence him. Joshi knew too much about the terror conspiracy and his masters were perhaps wary that they might get exposed.

ABDUL KALEEM ABDUL KALEEM, 21
The Muslim boy who triggered an unlikely conversion in jail
Kaleem, a cell phone seller, was arrested and tortured in 2007 for a blast at Mecca Masjid in Hyderabad. He spent a year-and-half in jail before being acquitted. Soon after, he was back in jail on another charge, when he met Swami Aseemanand. The Swami was struck by the boy’s kindness. When he heard that Kaleem was blamed for a blast that he and his comrades had done, he was profoundly affected and decided to confess as an act of penance.

Sunil Joshi’s murder leaves many unanswered questions. If he was one of the key figures in the terror conspiracy, as many of those arrested testify that he was, why would his comrades want to bump him off? If he was a protégé of Indresh Kumar, acting on his orders and with his sanction, why would his mentor want him dead? What could have created a rift or fallout between all of them? The murder suggests a murky and inexplicable factionalism within the sinister grouping.

With Joshi dead and much of Aseemanand’s confession based on things Joshi had told him about the blasts, it might seem that Aseemanand’s confession runs thin in certain portions and is, therefore, of uneven consequence. But Joshi was not the only piece in the puzzle. Aseemanand’s confession is powerful because it implicates himself at every juncture and points to a network of Hindutva pracharaks, who not only participated in the terror plots but were moved around and sheltered by sections of the organisation while they were on the run. Investigators believe that the arrests of Kalsangra and Dange would provide the missing pieces of the puzzle.

Joshi’s death didn’t mean the end of the horrific blasts — at least from the ultra-Hindutva side. The terror infrastructure he had created along with a few other RSS men continued to function.

ASEEMANAND CONFESSED coming into contact with the shadowy saffron terror outfit Abhinav Bharat in January 2007. Col Purohit was one of the founder members of the outfit. Aseemanand has confessed to proposing more terror strikes in a meeting of Abhinav Bharat held at Bhopal in April 2008. Sadhvi Pragya, Bharat Riteshwar, Col Purohit and Dayanand Pandey were also present in the meeting. “I participated in many Abhinav Bharat meetings and proposed to carry out more terror strikes,” Aseemanand told the magistrate.

On 29 September 2008, horror struck again. During Islam’s holy month of Ramzan, an IED went off at Bhikku Chowk, a Muslim neighbourhood in Malegaon. The bomb was concealed in a motorcycle parked in front of a locked office of SIMI. Given the paranoia that had grown around Islamist terror, it had become an accepted maxim that members of SIMI were behind every blast. No proof was ever required. Placing a bomb in front of their office, therefore, was an act of deadly symbolism for the Hindutva outfits.

A similar bomb blast was triggered almost simultaneously hundreds of miles away in a small town called Modasa in Gujarat. Like in Malegaon, the blast took place in a Muslim colony named Sukka Bazaar, outside a mosque when special Ramzan prayers were being offered. Like in Malegaon, the bomb was again concealed in a motorcycle. The two blasts were separated by a gap of five minutes.

The Malgeaon blast killed seven Muslims, including a three-year-old boy. The Modasa blast resulted in the death of a 15-year-old boy. Several others were injured.

‘I told my comrades that since the Nizam had wanted to opt for Pakistan during Partition, Hyderabad was also a fair target for us,’ the Swami said

It is a measure of the deep-seated bias that had crept into the Indian justice system that even when deadly blasts went off in the midst of Muslim neighbourhoods and mosques, Muslim boys were still automatically blamed for them. It was beyond anyone’s imagination that Hindutva groups could be behind the inhuman acts.

But as Aseemanand says, “Sometime in October 2008, Dange phoned me and said he wanted to come to Shabri Dham and stay there for a few days. I told him that since I was setting out for Nadiad (Gujarat), it would not be a good idea for him to stay there in my absence. Then Dange requested me to pick him up from a place called Vyara and drop him to Baroda which was on the way to Nadiad. I picked up Dange from Vyara bus stop in my Santro car. He was accompanied by Ramji Kalsangra. Both were carrying two or three bags stuffed with some heavy objects. They told me they were coming from Maharashtra. I dropped them at Rajpipla junction at Baroda. I later realised that it was just a day after the Malegaon blast,” said Aseemanand, before concluding his statement. His confession further corroborates the evidence put together by Karkare.

After the Maharashtra ATS arrested Sadhvi Pragya in connection with the 2008 Malegaon blast, Aseemanand went absconding. He was finally arrested by the CBI from Haridwar on 19 November 2010.

THE EMERGENCE of Hindutva terror does not leach away the horror of Islamist terror attacks on places like the Akshardham temple, Sankatmochan mandir and German Bakery in Pune, amongst others. But Aseemanand’s confession will raise many uncomfortable questions for the RSS. It is no one’s case that the actions of a few tars an entire organisation. But there are urgent questions the RSS needs to confront within itself. And answer to the nation.

Given the growing evidence about the involvement of RSS pracharaks in a series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond?

Many of these terror blasts display a high degree of sophistication in the planning and devices used, with RDX and complex bomb designs being deployed in several of them. Given that most of the foot-soldiers accused for these blasts are of very humble backgrounds, is it possible that they could execute these blasts without support and sanction from the top? Given the strictly hierarchical and disciplined nature of the organisation, is it possible that they were acting without the knowledge of their superiors? Most crucially, given the gathering evidence about the involvement of several RSS pracharaks and other affiliates in this series of terror blasts, how will the RSS leadership respond? If it is true that some members of their organisation have turned rogue, will they seek the most stringent punishment for them? The Hindutva worldview may be politically opposed to minority rights, but will it go far enough to watch some of its members drag the country further down the suicidal course of competitive terrorism between Islamist and Hindutva extremists? Or will it opt for the saner option of a cleansing within.

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ashish.journo@gmail.com

An apocalyptic end to world’s biggest bubble

An apocalyptic end to world’s biggest bubble

By Paul B. Farrell, MarketWatch

SAN LUIS OBISPO, Calif. (MarketWatch) — The theme: Repent. Haunting images of fanatical serial killers warning, “The End is Near, Repent!” That message seared my brain as the “Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse” rode into “Dexter’s” dark world, the Miami Metro Police cable TV series. Now duty calls Dexter, CSI blood splatter expert by day, serial avenger by night.

Yes, the Four Horsemen, again. The perfect biblical metaphor for today’s bizarre world, where irrational ideologies prey on us, driving America deep into a dark world we’ve seen before: Goethe’s Faust, Dorian Gray, Dante’s Inferno.

How else to accept today’s bizarre plot line: A decade ago Republican George W. Bush took our great nation into a $3 trillion war on lies. Today that party is mindlessly controlled by a cultish anti-tax pledge made to lobbyist Grover Norquist and his Americans for Tax Reform group, who once proclaimed: “I don’t want to abolish government. I simply want to reduce it to the size where I can drag it into the bathroom and drown it in the bathtub.”

Yes, drown. Kill. Folks, this insane plot line has advanced into a no-compromise, scorched-earth vow to do everything necessary to drown the presidency and reinstall another conservative who will return America to the Wild West policies that sabotaged it in the Bush/Cheney years.

They’ve become a vengeful cult that will never back the president on anything, even their own job-growth policies. Will even destroy the economy to achieve their goals. They do not care about democracy. They want absolute control. And they’re succeeding.

America’s an addict, out-of-control, doesn’t care who gets hurts

Yes folks, I am mad as hell. The America I believed in when I volunteered for the Marine Corps, went to Korea, that America has been hijacked by an irrational, dark force that’s consuming our political system. We saw this coming a few years ago reviewing Jack Bogle’s warnings in “The Battle for the Soul of Capitalism.” Buffett called that one: “There’s class warfare, all right. But it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Today that toxic mind-set is a metaphor visible everywhere, in images like Dexter’s Four Horsemen, visions of America descending into a self-created Inferno.

My America is out of control, babbling nonsense, acting like a junkie, addict, very bad alcoholic. Been there. Now decades in recovery. Also worked years professionally with hundreds from Betty Ford Center. Today everywhere I see a nation consumed by addictions: self-centered, selfish, greedy, aggressive, power hungry, lost souls with no moral compass, in denial of their suicidal mission, incapable of stopping.

You know exactly what I’m saying: America is way off track. Our great nation is acting like a drunken self-destructive addict. Could use an intervention. But sadly we’ve drifted so far off our moral compass that only hitting bottom, a total collapse, near-death experience, only another meltdown bigger than 2008 and a depression will do the trick.

You know addictions turn even nice people into monsters. In the end they don’t care who they take down with them. Nothing matters, not families, not nations. Protect your assets folks.

Jeffrey Sachs warns: ‘The Price of Civilization’ will soon shock us

In the Book of Revelation, the Bible tells us the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse are a warning of the coming “End of Days,” of war, conquest, famine and death. In Dexter that powerful imagery of the Four Horsemen warns of a great battle coming between the good and evil, a powerful metaphor for today’s America.

That battle also came to mind in reviewing a fascinating new book, “The Price of Civilization: Reawakening American Virtue & Prosperity,” by one of my favorite people, Jeffrey Sachs, director of Columbia University’s Earth Institute.

His CNN summary says it all: Already too many people in our world. Adding too many more every day. Not enough resources. Worse, nobody’s solving the world’s biggest problem, overpopulation: “How do we increase opportunities for all, leave a usable planet for the future?” Read Paul B. Farrell’s take on the world’s biggest problem.

The Four Horsemen kept racing through my mind. Suddenly it was obvious: Sachs is the leader of Four Horsemen, warning mankind of the “End of Days.” The collapse is coming this century, in the next generation, possibly the next decade.

But “The Price” is unbearable, filled with apocalyptic images of the biggest bubble in world history, the population bubble that can destroy civilization. Unfortunately, too few are listening to him:

“Just 12 years after the arrival of the 6 billionth individual on the planet in 1999, humanity will greet the 7 billionth arrival this month.” This “7 billionth person is cause for profound global concern. It carries a challenge: What will it take to maintain a planet in which each person has a chance for a full, productive and prosperous life, and in which the planet’s resources are sustained for future generations? How, in short, can we enjoy ‘sustainable development’ on a very crowded planet?”

“The answer has two parts,” says Sachs. “Each portends a difficult journey over several decades. The first part requires a change of technologies — in farming, energy, industry, transport and building” and “will require an unprecedented degree of global cooperation …The second key to sustainable development is the stabilization of the global population. … Rapid and wholly voluntary reductions of fertility” with population leveling at eight billion.

In contrast, the United Nations forecasts as many as 10 billion by 2050, an intolerable burden on Earth’s scarce resources. One other “Horsemen” warn cannot be met:

Bill McKibben, Horseman: ‘Damage done. Already be too late’

Last year environmental economist and eco-activist Bill McKibben wrote in Foreign Policy magazine: “Act now, we’re told, if we want to save the planet from a climate catastrophe. Trouble is, it might be too late. The science is settled, and the damage has already begun. The only question now is whether we will stop playing political games and embrace the few imperfect options we have left.”

Paul Gilding, Horseman: ‘Forget global warming. Brace for impact!’

After 30 years of “screaming” to get the public’s attention, former Greenpeace CEO Paul Gilding admitted in his new book, “The Great Disruption,” that he finally just gave up. Nothing was working: “We tried. We failed.” Today he has no illusions anything will stop the catastrophe dead ahead.

His message is simple: “It’s time to stop worrying about climate change. Instead we need to brace for impact.” This is “not a doom and gloom prediction, but an inevitable physical reality.” Brace for impact folks.

Bill Gates, Horseman: World’s biggest philanthropist has surrendered

Last year Gates said if he had “one wish to improve humanity’s lot over the next 50 years it would be an “energy miracle,” a magical “new technology that produced energy at half the price of coal with no carbon dioxide emissions.” A year earlier Gates and a large group of billionaires agreed that the world’s biggest problem was population. Yet, oddly, Gates Foundation focuses on neither, may actually be accelerating the population bubble.

Jeremy Grantham, Horseman: Population ‘threatens long-term viability of species’

Grantham manages over $100 billion. He predicted the 2008 meltdown years in advance. Now sees danger in the population explosion calling it an “inevitable mismatch between finite resources and exponential population growth.” He expects a “bubble-like explosion of prices for raw materials.” Then commodity shortages will become a huge “threat to the long-term viability of our species when we reach a population level of 10 billion,” making “it impossible to feed the 10 billion people.”

At 7 billion, the Earth already has two billion people too many. And we’re adding 75 million more each year. Meanwhile scientists warn that Earth’s natural resources can reasonably support roughly 5 billion people. Yes, we’re already 2 billion over Earth’s carrying capacity, deep in denial and headed into a disaster. Likely “population reducers?” Forget voluntary birth control. Only wars, famine and starvation.

Jared Diamond, Horseman: A nation in denial collapses very fast

“One of the disturbing facts of history is that so many civilizations collapse,” warns Jared Diamond, in “Collapse: How Societies Choose to Fail or Succeed.” Many “share a sharp curve of decline” that often begins “only a decade or two after it reaches its peak population, wealth and power.” Why? Leaders are in denial, unprepared, like many of today’s senators and presidential candidates who say climate change is a hoax.

Diamond’s two-decades-to-collapse warning coincided with an even darker Pentagon report analyzed in Fortune eight years ago: “Climate could change radically and fast. That would be the mother of all national security issues” Unrest would create “massive droughts, turning farmland into dust bowls and forests to ashes … by 2020 there is little doubt that something drastic is happening … As the planet’s carrying capacity shrinks, an old pattern could emerge; warfare defining human life … an ancient pattern of desperate, all-out wars over food, water, and energy supplies would emerge. ” Warning, the 2020 plot line is accelerating.

‘Population Bubble,’ biggest bubble in history must inevitably pop

Scientific American warns that population is “the most overlooked and essential strategy for achieving long-term balance with the environment.” Yet, the whole world’s in denial, delaying.

Today, First World citizens consume 32 times more resources and put out 32 times more waste than Third World citizens. And now they all want our lifestyle.

Yes, by 2050 the American dream will be the Global dream, exhausting the world’s natural resources. In fact, if all nations consumed resources at the same rate as America today, we’d need six Earths just to survive today.

Fast forward to 2050 and a population of 10 billion. Warning: In our silence today, we are committing suicide tomorrow.

 

Time To Make Europe’s Poor Even Hungrier

EU considering massive cuts to food aid for poor

APBy RAF CASERT – Associated Press | AP

People queue for food at a local food distribution program in Brussels, Friday Oct. 14, 2011. The European Union is considering a nearly 75 percent cut in funding for a program that helps feed 18 million of its poorest citizens. The cuts, set to take effect after New Year's, would come at a time of rising unemployment and consumer food prices in many parts of Europe, as well as overall economic turmoil on the continent. The looming cuts already have raised fears among people who rely heavily on the program. (AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert)

People queue for food at a local food distribution program in Brussels

BRUSSELS (AP) — The European Union is considering a roughly 75 percent cut in funding for a program that helps feed 18 million of its poorest citizens.

The cuts, set to take effect after New Year’s, would come at a time of rising unemployment and consumer food prices in many parts of Europe, as well as overall economic turmoil on the continent. The looming cuts already have raised fears among people who rely heavily on the program.

“We poor, small people, we cannot face up to this,” said Rene Waltener, 41, who is unemployed and married with four children. “We sometimes have difficulties getting through the month, so a bit of milk here, a tin of cassoulet, a bit of yogurt — the kids are happy with that and it allows us to continue.”

The Food for the Deprived program dates back to 1987. At first, it relied heavily on food surpluses from farms that benefited from a bloated and inefficient subsidy regime. But over time, as the farming became more efficient, food was increasingly purchased on the market to keep the program going.

In recent years, Germany and other countries have objected to that practice, saying the program is not living up to its original mandate of doing something useful with excess products from farms. Germany won a legal case in April to outlaw the practice of purchasing the food on the market.

The EU’s 27 farm ministers will assess the program next Thursday in Luxembourg. On the table is a proposal to keep the program going at euro500 million ($690 million) through legal changes instead of moving to just euro113 million ($155 million), but at present it does not appear it will get a sufficient majority.

Harry Gschwindt of the Brussels Food Bank put the potential cut in simple terms.

“This year we received 19 different products. Next year it’s only going to be four. It’s tomato soup, it’s rice, milk rice and chicken,” he said. Gone are milk, sugar, corn and fish, and other contributions.

The problems involving the program predate the economic and currency crisis that is turning governments throughout the union towards penny-pinching measures, and EU Farm Commissioner Dacian Ciolos has said the problem is purely legal since the budget already has the funds written in.

The Czech Republic is among the countries that object to the current program’s approach. Its ambassador to the EU, Milena Vicenova, said that the EU farm policy program “is not the proper and the right instrument to be used for, let’s say, social help.”

She said it also doesn’t take national sensitivities into account. “We don’t have a common explanation of what a ‘poor person’ really is or what it really means. Every national scheme slightly differs,” Vicenova said.

Last year, a British House of Lords committee also saw no need to give to Brussels what London could do itself.

“National governments are best-placed to organize food distribution to poor people,” committee chair Lord Carter of Coles said.

With winter approaching, some EU officials are hoping for an agreement that allows for the program to continue at the same level of funding.

“The money is available and can be allocated if we can get a political accord,” Ciolos said earlier this month.

___

Brussels Videojournalist Mark D. Carlson contributed to this story.

The Degenerate Parasites of Washington

[How many times have Washington and NATO leaders insisted that they were not in Libya to kill Qaddafi, yet victory was declared within 24 hrs. of his murder?  He was never to be collateral damage, always the primary objective from the start of the aggression.  It seems that Washington believes that it cannot survive unless all Muslim civilization is destroyed.]

The End of History

by Paul Craig Roberts

From the Foreign Policy Journal

Now that the CIA’s proxy army has murdered Gadhafi, what next for Libya?

If Washington’s plans succeed, Libya will become another American puppet state. Most of the cities, towns, and infrastructure have been destroyed by air strikes by the air forces of the US and Washington’s NATO puppets. US and European firms will now get juicy contracts, financed by US taxpayers, to rebuild Libya. The new real estate will be carefully allocated to lubricate a new ruling class picked by Washington. This will put Libya firmly under Washington’s thumb.

With Libya conquered, AFRICOM will start on the other African countries where China has energy and mineral investments. Obama has already sent US troops to Central Africa under the guise of defeating the Lord’s Resistance Army, a small insurgency against the ruling dictator-for-life. The Republican Speaker of the House, John Boehner, welcomed the prospect of yet another war by declaring that sending US troops into Central Africa “furthers US national security interests and foreign policy.” Republican Senator James Inhofe added a gallon of moral verbiage about saving “Ugandan children,” a concern the senator did not have for Libya’s children or Palestine’s, Iraq’s, Afghanistan’s and Pakistan’s.

Washington has revived the Great Power Game and is vying with China. Whereas China brings Africa investment and gifts of infrastructure, Washington sends troops, bombs and military bases. Sooner or later Washington’s aggressiveness toward China and Russia is going to explode in our faces.

Where is the money going to come from to finance Washington’s African Empire? Not from Libya’s oil. Big chunks of that have been promised to the French and British for providing cover for Washington’s latest war of naked aggression. Not from tax revenues from a collapsing US economy where unemployment, if measured correctly, is 23 percent.

With Washington’s annual budget deficit as huge as it is, the money can only come from the printing press.

Washington has already run the printing press enough to raise the consumer price index for all urban consumers (CPI-U) to 3.9% for the year (as of the end of September), the consumer price index for urban wage earners and clerical workers (CPI-W) to 4.4% for the year, and the producer price index (PPI) to 6.9% for the year.

As statistician John Williams (shadowstats.com) has shown, the official inflation measures are rigged in order to hold down cost of living adjustments to Social Security recipients, thus saving money for Washington’s wars. When measured correctly, the current rate of inflation in the US is 11.5%.

What interest rate can savers get without taking massive risks on Greek bonds? US banks pay less than one-half of one percent on FDIC insured savings deposits. Short-term US government bond funds pay essentially zero.

Thus, according to official US government statistics, American savers are losing between 3.9% and 4.4% of their capital yearly. According to John Williams’ estimate of the real rate of inflation, US savers are losing 11.5% of their accumulated savings.

As retired Americans receive no interest on their savings, they are having to spend down their capital. The ability of even the most prudent retirees to survive the negative rate of interest they are receiving and the erosion by inflation of any pensions that they receive will come to an end once their accumulated assets are exhausted.

Except for Washington’s favored mega-rich, the one percent that has captured all of the income gains of recent years, the rest of America has been assigned to the trash can. Nothing whatsoever has been done for them since the financial crisis hit in December 2007. Bush and Obama, Republican and Democrat, have focused on saving the 1 percent while giving the finger to the 99 percent.

Finally, some Americans, though not enough, have caught on to the flag-waving rah-rah “patriotism” that has consigned them to the trash bin of history. They are not going down without a fight and are in the streets. Occupy Wall Street has spread. What will be the fate of this movement?

Will the snow and ice of cold weather end the protests, or send them into public buildings? How long will the local authorities, subservient to Washington as they are, tolerate the obvious signal that the population lacks any confidence whatsoever in the government?

If the protests last, especially if they grow and don’t decline, the authorities will infiltrate the protestors with police provocateurs who will fire on the police. This will be the excuse to shoot down the protestors and to arrest the survivors as “terrorists” or “domestic extremists” and to send them to the $385 million dollar camps built under US government contract by Cheney’s Halliburton.

The Amerikan Police State will have taken its next step into the Amerikan Concentration Camp State.

Meanwhile, lost in their oblivion, conservatives will continue to bemoan the ruination of the country by homosexual marriage, abortion, and “the liberal media.” Liberal organizations committed to civil liberty, such as the ACLU, will continue to rank a woman’s right to an abortion with defense of the US Constitution. Amnesty International will assist Washington in demonizing its next target for military attack while turning a blind eye to the war crimes of President Obama.

When we consider what Israel has got away with, being as it is under Washington’s bought protection—the war crimes, the murders of children, the eviction in total disregard of international law of Palestinians from their ancestral homes, the bulldozing of their houses and uprooting of their olive groves in order to move in fanatical “settlers,” the murderous invasions of Lebanon and Gaza, the wholesale slaughter of civilians—we can only conclude that Washington, Israel’s enabler, can get away with far more.

In the few opening years of the 21st century, Washington has destroyed the US Constitution, the separation of powers, international law, the accountability of government, and has sacrificed every moral principle to achieving hegemony over the world. This ambitious agenda is being attempted while simultaneously Washington removed all regulation over Wall Street, the home of massive greed, permitting Wall Street’s short-term horizon to wreck the US economy, thus destroying the economic basis for Washington’s assault on the world.

(Dr. Paul Craig Roberts served as President Reagan’s Asst. Secretary of the U.S. Treasury)

Obama Team Used “Lawyer-Speak” To Get Around US and International Laws Against State Murder

NYT: Secret Memo Justified Killing of U.S.-born Awlaqi

by Naharnet Newsdesk
W460

President Barack Obama’s administration crafted a legal document in secret ahead of the assassination of U.S.-born al-Qaida leader Anwar al-Awlaqi, which permitted the killing of an American citizen without trial, a report said Saturday.

The secret memorandum was written in 2010 to justify the action despite a legal framework that prevents the White House ordering assassinations, the U.S. federal law against murder, and protections for U.S. citizens contained in the Bill of Rights, said the New York Times, citing sources familiar with the memo.

The 50-page document, completed in June last year, said the killing could only be lawful if it was not feasible for him to be captured alive.

Awlaqi was killed in a drone strike in Yemen in late September, in a raid hailed by Obama as a “major blow” to the al-Qaida network.

The killing did not only have to be justified over U.S. laws, but also certain areas of the international laws of war.

The memo, however, according to the Times, was crafted specifically for Awlaqi, so does not set a precedent for killing any American that authorities suspect of posing a terrorist threat.

The legal memo alleged Awlaqi was involved in the war between al-Qaida and the United States, and that he was in particular a significant threat — though the document, said the Times, did not itself assess the evidence against him.

The White House had previously declined to answer the tough questions surrounding the killing, as rights groups and legal observers raised eyebrows over the rights of New Mexico-born Awlaqi as an American citizen.

Civil rights groups cried foul with some arguing it would be illegal for the U.S. military to kill an American citizen on the battlefield, following no attempt to indict him.

U.S. intelligence officials believed Awlaqi was linked to a U.S. army major charged with shooting dead 13 people in Fort Hood, Texas, and to a Nigerian student accused of trying to blow up a U.S. airliner on December 25, 2009.

He was also believed to be the leader of external operations of al-Qaida in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP) in Yemen and had taken the lead in planning and directing efforts to murder innocent Americans.

The legal document was crafted with the involvement of all top departments in the Obama administration, the Times said, including White House liaising with legal counsels at the Pentagon, State Department, and National Security Council, along with other U.S. intelligence agencies.

Is American economic survival dependent upon its ability to lay waste to the world?

 “At the root of it all lies the control of oil, which…which [is] crucial for the continued prosperity of the western world.”

[Who can explain this US propensity for ruining great sections of the world?  Why have vast blocks of Nations, stretching from N. Africa to Russia been marked under US policies of "regime change" or invasion?  Repeating the pattern of Iraq throughout the region, the US/NATO are reducing targeted Nations to ruin, erasing the past decades of growth and turning them into rubble.  Is the Empire's survival dependent upon upon our capacity to destroy and dehumanize others?  These retrogressive policies are intended to take disobedient sectors of the Muslim world back into the stone age, where running water and electric service become vague memories and children die on a grand scale, due primarily to a lack of basic health care. 

This is the policy we reveal to the world as our only foreign policy, revealing America's dirty hands in maliciously punishing vast independent sectors of the Muslim world, identical to Israeli policies in Gaza.   As Mr. Bhadrakumar points out:  "it is a matter of time before the narrative withers away and chilling realities take hold."  The world will one day acknowledge the grim realities of the NATO assault upon the weak, though strategically important, Nations of the world.  When that day comes, America will be recognized for the great evil power that it has become, in its struggle to maintain abnormal levels of prosperity, over the rights and needs of the rest of the world.

In a world dominated by Western news sources, the shared delusion is that the "Cold War is over," even though we see these convoluted geostrategic gambits being played-out, primarily to isolate Russian and Chinese interests.  When the veil of the shared artificial reality, that has been woven by Western psyop specialists, is torn asunder and cast aside, then all the world will understand that the turmoil that has been unleashed had nothing to do with any Nation's national security and everything to do with maintaining Western corporate profits.]

It Is Going To Be Syria’s Turn

by M. K. Bhadrakumar
VOLTAIRE NETWORK | NEW DEHLI (INDIA)

If the likeness between ravaging regime-change scenarios in Iraq and Libya is any indication, the future of Bashar al-Assad’s sovereignty in Syria might be hanging by a thin thread. The heart of the matter – underscores this analyst – is that regime change in Syria is absolutely central to US designs on the Middle East. The stakes are so intertwined that a host of stragetic gains could be achieved in one fell swoop, not least shaving Russia’s and China’s clout in the region. This is not an opportunity that Washington would want to miss.

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The visuals beamed from Tripoli last night had an eerie familiarity. Cars blowing horns, Kalashnikovs firing into the air, youth and children aimlessly wandering on streets littered with heaps of debris, western cameramen eagerly lapping up the precious words in broken English by any local fellow holding forth on the stirring ideals of the 1789 French Revolution and the Magna Carta – the images are all-too-familiar. Somewhere else, some other time, one had seen these images, but couldn’t exactly place them. Could they have stealthily crept up from the attic of the mind, a slice of memory that was best forgotten or purged from the consciousness? Now, the morning after, it is clear the television channels were only replaying the scenes from Baghdad in 2003.

The narrative from Tripoli bears uncanny resemblance to Baghdad: A brutal, megalomaniacal dictator, who seemed omnipotent, gets overthrown by the people, and a wave of euphoria sweeps over an exhausted land. As the celebrations erupt, the western benefactor-cum-liberator walks on to the centre stage, duly taking stance on the ‘right side of history’. In the 19th century, he would have said in Kenya or India that he was carrying the ‘white man’s burden’. Now he claims he is bringing western enlightenment to people who are demanding it.

But it is a matter of time before the narrative withers away and chilling realities take hold. In Iraq, we have seen how a nation that was tiptoeing toward the OECD standards of development hardly 20 years ago has been reduced to beggary and anarchy.

A coup d’etat

Libya’s democratic opposition is a myth conjured up by the western countries and the ‘pro-West’ Arab governments. There are deep splits within the opposition and there are factions ranging from genuine liberals to Islamists to plain lumpen elements. Then there are the tribal divisions. The infighting among the various factions seems a recipe for another round of civil war, as the factions that have neither legitimacy nor authority jostle for power. The acuteness of the rifts burst into the open last month when the opposition’s commander-in-chief Abdul Fattah Younes was lured back from the front on a false pretext, taken away from his bodyguards and brutally tortured and killed by the rebels belonging to an Islamist faction.

The western media have begun openly discussing the role played by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization [NATO], which time and again intervened to tilt the military balance against Muammar Gaddafi. The revolution looks more like a coup d’etat instigated by Britain and France. Even then, it took the western alliance an awfully long time stretching over 6 months to get its ‘boys’ into Tripoli. Gaddafi is still keeping them guessing as to the manner of his grand exit. The stunning truth is that Gaddafi should decide when to stop fighting despite having the men and the material to prolong his defiance for a while.

His course of action in the coming hours or days would have great bearing on what follows. If there is going to be heavy bloodshed, revenge acts by the victors over the vanquished will likely follow. In political terms, Gaddafi’s imminent fall doesn’t mean the opposition has won. Divested of the NATO’s tactical support, the opposition would have lost. The big question, therefore, is going to be about NATO’s future role in Libya. Alongside appears the question of whether the NATO would now turn attention to Syria.

NATO embraces Arab world

With the mission of ‘regime change’ successfully accomplished, NATO ought to leave the Libyan theatre. The United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 has been overtaken. But the NATO’s withdrawal is too much to expect. Libya’s oil has been the leitmotif of the western intervention. Gaddafi’s recent proclivity to turn to Russia, China, Brazil and India to bring them into Libya’s oil sector obviously threatened the western interests. The pro-democracy rhetoric emanating out of London and Paris had all along had a hollow ring. The NATO’s intervention in Libya has stretched the limits of international law and the United Nations Charter. The alliance finds itself in the ludicrous position of seeking the legitimacy for its continued presence in Libya from the shady elements who masquerade as the ‘democratic’ forces, whose popular support is thin on the ground, on the pretext that there is still a job to be done.

There is indeed going to be a job to be done. It could well turn out to be Iraq and Afghanistan all over again. Resistance to foreign occupation is bound to appear sooner rather than later. Libyan tribes are steeped in the folklore of resistance. On the other hand, a great paradox of geopolitics is that anarchical conditions provide just the requisite pretext for occupation. The story of Libya is not going to be any different from that of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The West’s Libyan intervention introduces new templates in the geopolitics of the Middle East and Africa. It has brought NATO to the eastern Mediterranean and Africa. This is of a piece with the United States’ post-cold war strategy to mould the trans-Atlantic alliance into a global organization with the capability to act in global ‘hotspots’ with or without UN mandate. A pivotal role for the alliance in the ‘new Middle East’ seems all but certain. There is an ominous ring to the recap of the Libyan chapter by British Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg: “I want to make it absolutely clear: the UK will not turn its back on the millions of citizens of Arab states looking to open up their societies, looking for a better life.”

Was he talking about Syria? Surely, Clegg couldn’t have been suggesting that Britain is raring to “open up” the societies in Saudi Arabia or Bahrain or Yemen and make the tribals living out there into modern-day citizens. With the Libyan operation drawing to a close, all eyes are turning on Syria. The Wall Street Journal speculates: “Libyans’ success affects the potentially more important rebellion in Syria… Already there are signs Libya is giving inspiration to the rebels trying to oust [Bashar al] Assad.” But then it also adds a caveat without which the discussion will remain incomplete: “There are crucial differences between Libya and Syria, and the Libyan template will be hard to replicate in Damascus.”

High stakes in Syria

However, the western mind is famous for its innovative capacity. Without doubt, Syria occupies the heart of the Middle East and conflict breaking out there will most certainly engulf the entire region – including Israel and, possibly, Iran and Turkey. On the other hand, the calibrated western moves in the recent weeks, racheting up sanctions, are strikingly similar to those taken in the prelude to the Libyan intervention. Sustained efforts are afoot to bring about a unified Syrian opposition. Last weekend’s conclave held in Turkey – third in a row – finally elected a ‘council’ ostensibly representing the voice of the Syrian people. Evidently, a focal point is being carefully crafted, which could be co-opted at a convenient point as the West’s democratic interlocutor representing Syria. The fig-leaf of Arab League support is also available. The ‘pro-West’ Arab regimes, which are autocratic themselves, have reappeared in the forefront of the western campaign as the flag carriers of representative rule in Syria.

Conceivably, the main hurdle would be to get a United Nations mandate for the western intervention in Syria. But the Libyan experience shows that an alibi can always be found. Turkey can be trusted to play a role here. When Turkey gets involved, Charter 5 of the NATO can be invoked. The heart of the matter is that regime change in Syria is imperative for the advancement of the US strategy in the Middle East and Washington is unlikely to brook any BRICS obstacles on its path, since the stakes are very high. The stakes include the expulsion of the Hamas leadership from Damascus; the break-up of the Syrian-Iranian axis; isolation of Iran and a push for regime change there; weakening and degradation of Hezbollah in Lebanon; and regaining Israel’s strategic dominance over the Arab world. And, of course, at the root of it all lies the control of oil, which George Kennan had said 60 years ago are “our resources – and not theirs” [Arabs’] – which are crucial for the continued prosperity of the western world. Mock at him if anyone claims that cash-strapped western governments and their war-weary citizens have no more appetite for wars.

Finally, all this means in geopolitical terms the rolling back of Russian and Chinese influence in the Middle East. A subtle western propaganda has begun pitting Russia and China as obstacles to regime change in the region – standing on the ‘wrong side of history’. It is a clever ideological twist to the hugely successful Cold-War era blueprint that pitted communism against Islam. The body language in the western capitals underscores that there is no conceivable way the US would let go the opportunity in Syria.

A dangerous Saudi affair

A dangerous Saudi affair

A dangerous Saudi affairLife in Saudi Arabia is good – oil rich, tax free incomes, multiple servants, big villas and security.  Even labourers, remark on the improved quality of life in Saudi as compared to Pakistan. For them this is an opportunity to support their families in the relative security of the Kingdom.

It seems Pakistani expat workers are satisfied with life. Even migrant labourers who I have conversed with personally say life is better in Saudi than in Pakistan, and the incomes they receive give their families back home a fighting chance. Personally, I’ve had good experiences and memories of living in the Kingdom for many years. But let’s face it – there is a conflict between personal gain and ethical integrity when it comes to Saudi Arabia.

One can witness a pervasive sort of racism,  a form of Saudi supremacy that views other types of Arabs and particularly the South Asian expats (who are mostly labourers) as inferior and mere ‘commodities’ who can be bought and sold ruthlessly. Expats are not human beings but a commodity to be bartered and acquired.

Connected to racial supremacy is an attempt to insulate the regime from criticism by using the cloak of religion. Saudi textbooks are filled with references to hate; the Islamic Studies curriculum in the country is simply barbaric. I’ve experienced first-hand being taught by an Islamic Studies teacher in one of the most prominent private schools in Riyadh, about the dangers of having non-Muslims as friends and about the evil conspiracies hatched by Christians, Jews and Shias.

In Pakistan, Saudi petro-dollars have funded factories of hate in the form of the madrassa system. ‘Petro-Islam’ is a nightmare scenario – capitalism and a dangerous ideology locked in a tight embrace. It is because of the sheer amount of money behind this austere and dangerous theology that it can easily overwhelm the moderate elements in any given society.

Little attention is given in Pakistan about the treatment of Pakistani labourers. If the Saudis will not speak about the suffering of these people then why should we remain silent? It is understandable that Pakistanis within Saudi cannot protest, but why do Pakistanis living outside who have witnessed first-hand the harsh treatment of their fellow citizens choose to remain silent? The Gulf countries practice a modern day equivalent of slavery, and our media should be more vocal about it, instead of weaving tales about Mossad and RAW.

The treatment of Pakistani labourers as sub-humans is deeply pervasive. The underlying logic of this treatment is that a non-Saudi can never be an equal; they are always meant to serve. Pakistanis like to criticise Europe’s hostility to immigrants but the anti-immigration feeling in Saudi Arabia is deeply toxic and yet it is never scrutinised.

A famous Pakistani defence of Saudi Arabia is that it is an ‘Islamic country’ and ergo a good place to raise the kids. But there is very little ‘Islamic’ about the country – in my time in Saudi, I talked to converts to Islam who travelled from as far as America and the UK to see for themselves the ‘Islamic’ Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. Privately, they reveal a story of disillusionment and profuse disappointment.

Many were shocked by what they see in Saudi. They talk about a hypocrisy running deep within the society. Whilst the elite enjoy a hedonistic lifestyle of drinking and private nightclub-style parties, the religious police make life hell. I once saw a mullah in a GMC reverse on one of the main roads in Riyadh just to tell a woman to put her burqa on properly.

I find we are confused about our reaction to the prospect of a ‘Saudi Revolution’. When Mubarak was toppled and Ben Ali fled, the reaction amongst Pakistanis was positive, after all these dictators were merely pawns of the West. But talk about Saudi, and again there is that sense of unease and discomfort. After all, for all their faults the Saudis still do some great work. Many Pakistanis and indeed Muslims around the world have a sense of deep respect in regards to the provision of the Hajj. Indeed, the Saudis have continually done a fantastic job in improving facilities, crowd control and should be given credit for handling such a difficult event with efficiency.

But on the issue of faith, some Pakistanis are naive in thinking that a Muslim country can never be unjust with another Muslim country; they refuse to accept that in the reality of real politick there is no ‘Islamic Ummah’.

It is this sense of moral unease we have when we talk about Saudi Arabia that has haunted Pakistani hearts and minds. On the one hand, we receive great remittances from Pakistani workers who are employed in the Kingdom, but on the other hand everyone knows that they are discriminated against and have little or no rights. But yet again the response is that those Pakistanis living and working in Saudi Arabia should be grateful that they even have a job because of the deteriorating economic conditions back home. In this cold, utilitarian world where money talks, it is impossible that the Pakistani government will fight for its citizens rights in front of the Saudi Royal family.

The old adage, ‘Don’t bite the hand that feeds you’, comes to mind. Pakistan is trapped in an abusive marriage (or maybe a delusional affair?) when it comes to Saudi.

Today the Kingdom is launching a great counter-revolution trying to contain the ‘Arab Spring’ by buying off Arab militaries, supporting dictators, issuing fatwas against the protestors and involving the Pakistani security forces in controlling protests in Bahrain which has become a stage for its great feud with Iran. Pakistan is very much a supporter of tyranny in the greatest political awakening of the 21st century, and this will hurt only Pakistanis in the end.

Ahmad Ali Khalid is a freelance writer and blogger based in the UK. He can be reached atahmadalikhalid@ymail.com

A Severe Lack Of Toilets And Lost Treasure

A Severe Lack Of Toilets And Lost Treasure

Or, Does The Indian Belief System Care About Its People??
By Ted Twietmeyer

A few days ago, a cable channel aired a Vanguard documentary about the lack of toilets in India. It was graphic and disgusting to see people defecating outside. This isn’t their fault as these people are born into the caste system at the lower levels and destined under 5,000 year old Indian culture to live a hellish life. A lack of toilets for miles won’t stop nature’s call. Clearly the Indian government has shown little regard for the health and well being of its own people, but we’ll see that so have temple priests, too.

In the Vanguard documentary, an Indian doctor stated there are 1.6 billion people in India with 600 MILLION having no access to a toilet.

 

 

Sree Padmanabhaswamy Temple in Thiruvananthapuram, India

A recent news story revealed a lawsuit was filed in India, the purpose of which was to confirm stories of hidden treasure under Sree Padmanabhaswamy temple. The government ordered an audit of all the vaults under the massive temple which revealed a staggering 11 BILLION dollars in gold, silver, coins, jewelry and previous stones. Then the government declared the treasure will stay right where it is. Some of the vaults under the temple had not been entered in 150 years.

Should we fault the decision of the government for permitting private ownership of the treasure? Clearly this treasure could be used to help millions of Indian people if those who have stewardship over it permitted it.

The most logical question that comes to mind is why one cent of this treasure will not be used to help the quality of life for the Indian people. It may be the ultimate act of hypocrisy.

There is a connection here with the most popular Indian religion of Hinduism. Hinduism is the most prevalent Indian belief system in India and is a part of this huge temple. Yet Hindu is considered as a way of life and nothing more.

Below is a Wiki statement summarizing Hinduism:

“When we think of the Hindu religion, unlike other religions in the world, the Hindu religion does not claim any one prophet; it does not worship any one god; it does not subscribe to any one dogma; it does not believe in any one philosophic concept; it does not follow any one set of religious rites or performances; in fact, it does not appear to satisfy the narrow traditional features of any religion or creed. It may broadly be described as a way of life and nothing more.”

If you have a religion with countless compartmentalized gods, no fear and consequences of doing wrong, no sin, no clearly defined dogma, no belief in eternal life and now higher power over everything – then what do you have? Exactly what does “a way of life” really mean? It provides very little impetus for personal improvement or hope.

Yet this “way of life” only seems to conflict with countless statues of gods and god-like figures all across in India. If Hindu followers only see their religion as a way of life, then why have these people expended vast amounts of time, money and talent to carve all these statues and build temples? Why is the huge treasure kept under the temple? What purpose does it serve, why was it hidden from the people and how did it come to be there? We may never hear direct answers to these questions. But we do know that a common control technique in all religions is to require some type of sacrifice, which usually involves money at the very least.

Most likely fear is the origin of 11 billion dollars in treasure, and what stuffs collection plates and baskets in Christian religions. Religions basically serve to control people using fear-based outcomes for disobedience. It effectively is what constitutes control over believers and “keeps ‘em coming back for more.” Human beings inherently have a greater fear of what they cannot see verses what they can see.

There exists a plethora of illnesses, viruses and bacteria which breed wherever a lack of sanitation exists. Feces inherently have E-coli bacteria and other pathogens. Any doctor will tell you urine itself is sterile when produced by healthy uninfected people, but airborne bacteria quickly breeds on contact with the fluid. A lack of toilets for 600 million Indian people is an utterly disgusting way of life, forced upon the second most populated country in the world. Nearly all of the poorest people in the western world have access to a toilet somewhere.

How temple priests, stewards of an 11 Billion Dollar treasure – can ignore their fellow human beings living in unhealthy damnation is beyond comprehension, regardless of cultural differences. There must be a special place in hell reserved for people like that.

Caring for fellow human beings is a universal principle everywhere on Earth. Even the poorest, most destitute tribes in jungles make visitors feel welcome and help them. So what’s wrong with these temple priests?

Ted Twietmeyer

tedtw@frontiernet.net

Sources

http://news.blogs.cnn.com/2011/07/04/11-billion-treasure-revealed-b

eneath-temple-in-india/comment-page-3/#comment-667594

Vanguard TV documentary “The World Toilet Crisis”

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hindu

Modi destroys massacre records

[SEE: Gujarat riots: Indian SC orders inquiry against Modi ]

29 04 2009

screenshot0021

Modi destroys massacre records

By Jawed Naqvi |
Narendra ModiThe Congress party said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Chief Minister Narendra Modi had carried out a criminal conspiracy to destroy the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) records. — Photo by Reuters

NEW DELHI, June 30: In a setback to India`s fabled secular democracy, and with international ramifications, the Gujarat government has destroyed incriminating records of the 2002 anti-Muslim pogroms, victims` lawyers and political opponents said on Thursday.

The Congress party said the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government of Chief Minister Narendra Modi had carried out a criminal conspiracy to destroy the State Intelligence Bureau (SIB) records.

Pakistan`s human rights icon and UN Special Rapporteur on Freedom of Religion or Belief Asma Jehangir had met Mr Modi in 2008 to underscore her concerns. However, according to a Gujarat official, the records had already been destroyed in 2007.

“This is nothing short of a criminal conspiracy to see that the truth does not emerge. It clearly points out that the state government is trying to cover up the entire matter,” Congress spokesperson Manish Tewari said in New Delhi.

Alleging there was an attempt to `hide` the truth regarding the alleged involvement of Chief Minister Modi and his cabinet colleagues, representatives of victims and survivors demanded an independent inquiry under the supervision of the Supreme Court into the BJP government`s action.

Mr Tewari found it a `complete travesty` that documents pertaining to a `massacre and carnage`, which is under investigation of the highest court of the land and in which the “needle of suspicion is directly at the Chief Minister of Gujarat”, gets destroyed in this manner.

In the state capital, Gandhinagar, lawyer Mukul Sinha of the NGO Jan Sangharsh Manch, which represents some of riot victims, said: “It is a terrible thing for the government to do. We had a doubt that they had been destroyed.”

“Since all the allegations were against police officer for inactions and negligence, destruction of SIB records could have serious implications,” he said.

Now with the records destroyed it would be difficult to prove the allegations against the accused policemen and political leaders, Mr Sinha said.

“This could also affect judgment in the Godhra train burning case as the phone call records, movement records of police and political leaders prior, during and after the incident are no more,” he added.

Senior Gujarat counsel S. B. Vakil representing the state government in the Nanavati Commission, probing the 2002 violence, had on Wednesday told reporters that telephone call records, officers` movement registers and vehicle log books of the SIB pertaining to the period of 2002 riots were destroyed in 2007, as per government rules.

Thieving Elite as Bad as Militants

Nigeria: Buhari – Thieving Elite as Bad as Militants

Ibrahim Chonoko

London — Former head of state and CPC presidential candidate in the last elections Gen. Muhammadu Buhari has said that Nigerian elite who steal public money are as bad as militants who have been destabilizing the country. In an interview with Daily Trust in London, Gen. Buhari grouped light-fingered elite in the same class with Boko Haram dissidents and Niger-Delta militants, saying that they are all destabilizing forces in the country.

“I am concerned about insecurity and destabilizing forces in our country. Anybody who steals public money in all the tiers of government – federal, state and local governments – is destabilizing the country and is as bad as the militants.”

Gen. Buhari blamed the authorities for providing a breeding ground for militants and dissidents by not dealing with issues within the ambit of the law, but expects the populace to be law-abiding.

“The government must do things within the framework of the law and be fair. If it does not, then people will try and look after themselves and this is what is happening now”.

Gen. Buhari said the government should dialogue with the Boko Haram dissidents as it did with the Niger-Delta militants, and rhetorically asked: “who committed more atrocities against the Nigerian state between Boko Haram and the militants?”

He, however, said government had adopted the right approach by asking the police to get to the bottom of the Boko Haram issue, stressing that it was the duty a of the police to tackle such issues within the ambit of the law.

Gen. Buhari and his running mate, Pastor Tunde Bakare spoke at Chatham House, London on the April general elections in Nigeria which the international community has upheld as generally free and fair.

Earlier in the lecture delivered on Monday, Buhari said he will continue to boycott Council of State meeting pending the determination of the petition filed by his party challenging the election of President Goodluck Jonathan. The Council of State meeting is presided over by a sitting president, and attended by all former Heads of State.

Buhari refused to attend the meeting when he challenged the results of the 2003 Presidential Election won by then President Olusegun Obasanjo.

He also expressed hope that the CPC will not have any cause to pursue its petition up to the Supreme Court as he did in the past.

Why India needs an Arab Spring

Why India needs an Arab Spring

Does a failing democracy need a revolution, too?
Jason OverdorfMay 30, 2011 21:22
Hazareprotest

Indian students shout anti-corruption slogans in support of veteran Indian social activist, Anna Hazare at a garden in Amritsar on April 8, 2011. Indian social activist, Anna Hazare, who entered the fouth day of his indefinite hunger strike, has vowed to keep fasting to push for changes to a draft bill facilitating corruption complaints against the prime minister and cabinet. Hazare complained that the draft of the Lokpal (Ombudsman) Bill was formulated without the input of civil society groups and had been watered down by ministers. (NARINDER NANU/AFP/Getty Images)

India’s democratic institutions are failing just as miserably as governments from Tunisia to Libya, Ranjani Iyer Mohanty argues in the Atlantic. And as voting has failed to do the trick, an Arab Spring-style revolution is needed to initiate change.

Here’s Mohanty:

Those [same] failed government institutions, morally corrupt or at least morally inept, certainly exist here [in India] as well. Last year alone, the Indian government was implicated in corruption scams that amounted to billions of dollars swindled from the public. Transparency International’s Corruption Perception Index ranks India at 87 — below Serbia, Colombia, and even China. Tunisia, the birthplace of the Arab Spring, ranks 59. Even the families living under the overpass need to pay off the police to allow them to remain there.

India’s failed institutions also include those that fail in their role of looking after a large section of the population. Two formal reports have independently estimated the proportion of Indians living below the poverty line as 77 and 50 percent, though the Indian government touts a third report, which found a more palatable 37 percent. But even this figure would put some 420 million Indians in poverty. Other statistics are equally galling. Even among BRICS — the informal community of developing economies Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa — India lags behind the other nations in, for example, literacy among women and girls in secondary school. The latest Global Hunger Index ranks India as 67 out of 84 countries — far below neighbors China at number 9, Sri Lanka at 39, Pakistan at 52, and Nepal at 56. UNICEF reports that some 56 percent of Indian adolescent girls are anemic and 42 percent of children under the age of five are underweight. And food prices are rising.

There is a growing disconnect between India’s affluent and its poor. One man who has lived in Delhi all his life told me icily that there are no beggars on the streets here. Is he being defensive, or has he just stopped noticing them? An elderly woman complains that servants are no longer what they used to be, i.e., content with their lot. They are demanding time off, asking for raises, and trying to buy a scooter. A well-to-do Indian family of four could easily spend on one dinner at a nice restaurant the equivalent of their housekeeper’s monthly wages. A coffee in one of the city’s elegant five-star hotels costs the same as one day’s wages for the woman digging the ditch just outside in the sun, while her toddler sits bare-bottomed on the pile of rubble.

I have some sympathy for this view, of course. Democracy in India can seem like a revolving door — as one corrupt and incompetent pol clocks out, another one clocks in, and no proof of wrongdoing is enough to kill a career.  But Mohanty may be looking to the wrong revolutionaries for a model. What’s India after a dramatic call against corruption pulls down the government?  Some months back I was reading similar articles about Pakistan…. Why can’t Pakistan have a jasmine revolution etc.  I said, it has, at least three times. Most recently, the anti-corruption lobby got itself General Pervez Musharraf.  Or maybe most recently the revolutionaries got rid of Musharraf and got Asif Ali Zardari.  But you see where I’m going here…

I’ll go out on a limb and say the revolution is underway in India, but the one that will make the difference isn’t being fought in the jungles with the Maoists or on the streets with Anna Hazare’s corruption protesters.  It’s being fought by newly emerging civil society groups that are creating the framework of democracy that is too often ignored — institutions that are providing information that the media has not about the financial assets and activities of politicians, independent data and new ideas about India’s big problems (poverty, food, education) and so on

India’s Stingy Poverty Definition Irks Critics

[SEE: India has 69 billionaires ]

India’s Stingy Poverty Definition Irks Critics

India Poverty

MUNEEZA NAQVI    AP

NEW DELHI — Every day, through scorching summers and chilly winters, Himmat pedals his bicycle rickshaw through New Delhi’s crowded streets, earning barely enough to feed his family. But to India’s government he is not poor – not even close.

The 5,000 rupees ($110) he earns a month pays for a tiny room with a single light bulb and no running water for his family of four. After buying just enough food to keep his family from starving, there is nothing left for medicine, new clothes for his children or savings.

Still, Himmat is way above India’s poverty line.

Earlier this month, India’s Planning Commission, which helps sets economic policy, told the Supreme Court that the poverty line for the nation’s cities was 578 rupees ($12.75) per person a month – or 2,312 rupees ($51.38) for Himmat’s family of four. For rural India, it’s even lower at about 450 rupees ($9.93).

The revelation set off an angry debate in a country with soaring economic growth that has brought Ferrari dealerships and Louis Vuitton stores to cater to the new urban rich but left hundreds of millions of others struggling without access to adequate food and clean water.

The World Bank global poverty line, at $1.25 a day or about $38 per month, is three times higher than India’s urban level. Local activists say a better name for India’s standard would be “the starvation line.”

“This number is a joke. There’s no seriousness about the poor,” activist Aruna Roy said.

The Planning Commission said it has to set the poverty line – which determines who gets government assistance – to make the best use of limited funds.

“When you have such a large number of people, given the resources that are available to the government, do you target the poorest of the poor or do you spread your net wider and succeed in covering nobody?” Pranab Sen, an adviser to the Planning Commission, recently told the NDTV news channel.

A daily allowance of 19 rupees (42 cents) would buy 3 1/2 bananas from a stall outside the commission’s own office in the Indian capital or less than two pounds (one kilogram) of wheat flour or rice, staples for most Indians.

Himmat, who like many Indians uses just one name, said India’s poverty line was ridiculous.

“What can we eat with that much money? Not even two dry rotis,” he said, referring to the traditional flat bread of north India.

Rent for his room, which is no larger than 10 feet by 4 feet, costs 1,500 rupees ($33). He struggles to send his two children to a poorly run government school that costs him another 1,000 rupees ($22). The remaining 2,500 ($55) must pay for food, medicines and any other necessities for his family.

In the summer, he sends his wife and children back to their village in eastern India and sleeps on the sidewalk to save on rent.

“I am a very poor man. I can’t imagine living on any less money,” he said.

The poverty debate began after India’s top court asked the Planning Commission to explain earlier this month why hundreds of millions of Indians are undernourished when the country had vast stores of food grains – at times running into millions of tons of surplus.

The commission maintained the government has only limited resources to distribute the grain to subsidized shops, and that it must set its poverty line accordingly to target the neediest.

Rights activists and some economists have slammed the commission, saying it should guide the government to set aside adequate resources to help the poor, and not merely set a poverty line so low that hundreds of millions are kept out of the social security net.

“In a globalized economy why are the people of India naked? It’s because the planning is to keep them naked,” said activist and lawyer Colin Gonsalves.

Dozens of activists protested outside the commission’s office earlier this week carrying small cardboard gift boxes for its members. The boxes contained the cheapest bus ticket, a pound (about 500 grams) of the cheapest rice, one potato, one onion, one banana, a matchbox and a pencil and overshot the daily budget by two rupees (4 cents).

“I propose that the Planning Commission members do their own research for one day. If they can live on this money and tell us how they did it we will stop protesting,” said activist Nikhil Dey.

For most of the last six decades since gaining independence from British rule, India has struggled to find a method to identify its poor and provide for them, at times trying to count calorie intake and now using income data that economists acknowledge are unreliable.

Using the commission’s poverty line, 37 percent of India’s 1.2 billion people qualify as poor.

The country currently spends 2 percent of its GDP – about 29 billion – in social protection, and half of that goes to the Public Distribution System, which provides the poor with subsidized food. Even with the low poverty line, the system – riddled with corruption and mismanagement – caters to over 440 million people, more than the entire population of the United States.

The World Bank poverty line would add about 60 million more people to that category.

Critics say even that is too few, and that India needs to extend its social security net to hundreds of millions more who like Himmat, the rickshaw puller, live in penury.

The Planning Commission’s current approach implies that the coverage of social benefits will shrink if not disappear over time, said Jean Dreze, a development economist affiliated with the Delhi School of Economics.

“In a rapidly growing economy, one would like to see the opposite,” he said.

For Himmat, who is illiterate and oblivious to what he can expect from the government, the debate has little meaning.

“My existence doesn’t matter to the government. They don’t care if people like me live or die,” he said.