Belgian, Italian Christmas Massacres; Reprise of Norway, Gladio Rides Again

Belgian, Italian Christmas Massacres; Reprise of Norway, Gladio Rides Again

By Richard Cottrell

Contributing writer for End the Lie

A body suspected to be the gunman who opened fire on a square packed with children and Christmas shoppers in the eastern Belgian city of Liege, lies on the ground on December 13, 2011 (Photo credit: MICHEL KRAKOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images)

A confused and probably mindless individual has just been accused by the Belgian authorities of killing five people and injuring another 122 at a traditional Christmas street fair in the city of Liege.

The man, purportedly armed with a powerful automatic rifle, first mounted a staging platform that gave him a perfect view of Saint-Lambert square, packed as usual with seasonal gift-buyers.

The police accounts state that he then opened fire and began to throw grenades. Allegedly, splinters from one of these killed him – conveniently – outright. He was not, the authorities gushed, shot by the police. Perish the thought.

There is every sign that he carefully and cold-bloodedly selected his victims, aiming slowly and patiently. In fact, it was exactly like Anders Behring Breivikthe Norwegian recently judged insane and unfit to plead after for killing 69 campers on the holiday camp island Utøya not far from the capital, Oslo, on July 22nd this year.

Breivik was portrayed as a lone gunman possessed by hatred of Islam and other strange thoughts buzzing in an obviously crowded head.

Rinse and repeat.  Belgian officials have named the Liege gunman as Nordine Amrani, a 33-year-old born to a Moroccan family living in the country.

The charge sheet read impressively: convictions for offences involving possession of illegal weapons, drugs and sexual assaults.

In short, the stereotype patsy the police had under surveillance, exactly like Breivik in Norway before the Utøya Island shooting and the supposed car bomb that he placed in the Oslo government district the same day that killed an additional eight people.

Dissatisfied with the impressive roll call of offences, Amrani was then accused posthumously as the lead suspect in the murder of a 45 year old charwoman who cleaned house for one of Armani’s neighbors, on the same day as the attack. She was found shot in the head on the morning of Tuesday, December 13th.

A rape investigation is presumably intended to add to his guilt while producing useful supporting DNA evidence.

Just about everything is wrong with this story.

A man with a string of offences involving guns, drugs and sex attacks, was clearly the kind of suspect that the police would tail on an automatic basis. But no, instead, he somehow manages to get hold of a high powered rifle and more to the point, grenades.

Yet this is a petty criminal, by and large. Where and how and why would he acquire access to grenades? The answer is: military stores.

What were his motives? Presumably some document will soon be found to explain that, like Breivik’s famous rambling testament in which he weds the right way to grow sugar beet (as a professional market gardener) to his repulsion for Islam and admiration for Israel.

Let’s jump back 30 years. The time leap will help us to the probable answer to these mysteries.

In the early 1980s, a group of heavily armed gunmen terrorized supermarkets and other shops in the Brabant region near Brussels.

The gunmen fired at random at bystanders during a series of robberies between 1982 and 1985, killing 28 people and injuring many more.

The victims included unfortunate shoppers who were cut down in cold blood by machine gunners in busy supermarkets and parking lots.

The official Belgian parliamentary inquiry rudely dismissed that notion that criminals were responsible.

The robbery label anyway failed to stick when a sack crammed with stolen cash was found tossed in a stream. Robbers are rarely that generous.

Instead the official parliamentary investigators concluded the perpetrators were Neofascists associated with Belgian secret services.

In 2006, the guns and the ammunition used in the Brabant massacres were finally traced, to the supposedly defunct branch of the NATO Belgian stay-behind army of secret soldiers called “the Special Intervention Squadron” – the one known within the Gladio command structure as the “Diana [from the Hunter] Organization.”

This unit was quietly reformed under a different name in 2008.

As I explain in my forthcoming book on Gladio (see below) the original Diana was a top secret assassination squad and there is no reason to believe that its successor has any different duties.

The purpose of the Brabant attacks (and others in the city of Nouvelle about the same time) was expressly political.

Belgium in the 1980s was in a state of continual political ferment. NATO, whose headquarters are close to Brussels, feared a dramatic lurch to the Left in its own back yard.

The attacks were supposed to dramatize the impression of a civil insurgency. The reasoning went that voters would flock for security to the arms of a safe Right wing government.

In wider terms, this became known throughout Europe as the Strategy of Tension.

So what are the motives today for a repeat Gladio exercise in Liege? They are two-fold.

First, Belgium is on the edge of breaking apart. The country has just acquired a government after a European record of 547 days since the last election to establish a viable coalition.

The causes are essentially linguistic friction between the Flemish speaking and French speaking regions.

No-one can be sure how long this fragile administration will last, but it is probably not very long. There just isn’t enough political glue to do the job.

The country also suffers severe economic problems particularly in the areas of gross public debts that challenge the euro currency rules.

The collapse of Belgium as a political entity would be a huge embarrassment to the European Union, which also has its central home in Brussels.

The European Council’s president is the Belgian political retread Herman von Rompuy. He is busily, not to say obsessively, involved in trying to push through fast-track European currency union on the back of the wholly artificial and contrived euro currency crisis.

Liege lies in the French canton of Belgium. Traditionally the French speakers, or Walloons as they are called, are more sympathetic to the unitary Belgian state.

The atrocity in Saint-Lambert Square is subliminally intended to cement support for the infant government which has just been formed after such a prolonged nativity.

Secondly, the attack concentrates attention once again on the presence of 450,000 immigrants or long term residents of Islamic origin.

They have been the object of plotting the creation of Sharia law within the country, as a first step to full recognition as an independent linguistic and racial force with the federal state.

The fact that the accused terrorist is of Moroccan descent fits the necessity to scapegoat Belgium’s Islamic minority perfectly.

There were huge riots in Antwerp, Belgium’s second largest city renowned as the diamond capital of Europe, on 29th November 2002.

The provocation was the murder of a quiet young Moroccan supposedly by a mentally deficient neighbor. Again, the retarded patsy has his moment of fame.

The media and the authorities seized on the incident to claim that Abou Jahjah, a Lebanese-born activist heading the Arab-European League, which is based in Belgium, deliberately incited the subsequent violence.

The man the newspapers called the Malcolm X of Belgium was never charged, kept under house arrest for a few days, and then quietly released to do as he pleased.

We are in the same territory after the atrocity in Liege. Propaganda reaped its rewards.

The following days will see the patient construction of the case against Nordine Amrani, the Belgian Anders Breivik.

By no coincidence at all, a similar attack occurred in Italy on exactly the same day.

The Italian authorities blamed a “far-right militant” for the death of two Senegalese street vendors in a shooting spree in the historic city of Florence.

Witnesses said they saw the purportedly white assailant, 50-year-old called Gianluca Casseri, casually get out of a car and then calmly aim three shots with a pistol  that killed two vendors on the spot and seriously  wounded a third.

Accounts state that he then shot himself, or was shot by the police. Quite probably, the latter.

The sum of similarities between Liege and Florence are too great to be ascribed to the sudden rash acts by disturbed people

As everyone knows, Italy has recently come under the rule of a non-elected civilian technocrat government which is imposing a stiff austerity program.

Resentment of immigrants from Africa particularly is also the source of immense resentment in the country. The linkage is not difficult to make.

We are back to the Gladio-style Strategy of Tension and the need to muster strong support from both Left and Right flanks of the country behind a Right wing authority pressing unpopular reforms.

My advice is to expect more of the same.

Richard Cottrell is a writer, journalist and former European MP (Conservative). His new book Gladio: NATO’s Dagger At The Heart Of Europe is coming in January of 2012 from Progressive Press.

Edited by Madison Ruppert

 

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

[Half of the American population lives in poverty and our government spends nearly  two-thirds of a trillion dollars to expand our wars.]

Census shows 1 in 2 people are poor or low-income

WASHINGTON (AP) – Squeezed by rising living costs, a record number of Americans, almost 1 in 2, have fallen into poverty or are scraping by on earnings that classify them as low income.

The latest census data depict a middle class that is shrinking as unemployment stays high and the government’s safety net frays. The new numbers follow years of stagnating wages for the middle class that have hurt millions of workers and families.

“Safety net programs such as food stamps and tax credits kept poverty from rising even higher in 2010, but for many low-income families with work-related and medical expenses, they are considered too ‘rich’ to qualify,” said Sheldon Danziger, a University of Michiganpublic policy professor who specializes in poverty.

“The reality is that prospects for the poor and the near poor are dismal,” he said. “If Congress and the states make further cuts, we can expect the number of poor and low-income families to rise for the next several years.”

Congressional Republicans and Democrats are sparring over legislation that would renew a Social Security payroll tax cut, part of a year-end political showdown over economic priorities that also could trim unemployment benefits, freeze federal pay and reduce entitlement spending. That is money set aside for payment to individual Americans under such programs as the Social Security retirement scheme or the Medicare health plan.

Robert Rector, a senior research fellow at the conservative Heritage Foundation, questioned whether some people classified as poor or low-income actually suffer material hardship. He said that while safety-net programs have helped many Americans, they have gone too far, citing poor people who live in decent-size homes, drive cars and own wide-screen TVs.

“There’s no doubt the recession has thrown a lot of people out of work and incomes have fallen,” Rector said. “As we come out of recession, it will be important that these programs promote self-sufficiency rather than dependence and encourage people to look for work.”

Mayors in 29 cities say more than 1 in 4 people needing emergency food assistance did not receive it. Many middle-class Americans are dropping below the low-income threshold — roughly $45,000 a year for a family of four — because of pay cuts, a forced reduction of work hours or a spouse losing a job. Housing and child-care costs are consuming up to half a family’s income.

States in the South and West had the highest shares of low-income families, including Arizona, New Mexico and South Carolina, which have scaled back or eliminated aid programs for the needy. By raw numbers, such families were most numerous in California and Texas, each with more than 1 million.

The struggling Americans include Zenobia Bechtol, 18, in Austin, Texas, who earns minimum wage as a part-time pizza delivery driver. Bechtol and her 7-month-old baby were recently evicted from their bedbug-infested apartment after her boyfriend, an electrician, lost his job in the sluggish economy.

After an 18-month job search, Bechtol’s boyfriend now works as a waiter and the family of three is temporarily living with her mother.

“We’re paying my mom $200 a month for rent, and after diapers and formula and gas for work, we barely have enough money to spend,” said Bechtol, a high school graduate who wants to go to college. “If it weren’t for food stamps and other government money for families who need help, we wouldn’t have been able to survive.”

About 97.3 million Americans fall into a low-income category, commonly defined as those earning between 100 and 199 percent of the poverty level, based on a new supplemental measure by the Census Bureau that is designed to provide a fuller picture of poverty. Together with the 49.1 million who fall below the poverty line and are counted as poor, they number 146.4 million, or 48 percent of the U.S. population. That is up by 4 million from 2009, the earliest numbers for the newly developed poverty measure.

The new measure of poverty takes into account medical, commuting and other living costs. Doing that helped push the number of people below 200 percent of the poverty level up from 104 million, or 1 in 3 Americans, that was officially reported in September.

Broken down by age, children were most likely to be poor or low-income, about 57 percent, followed by older people, those over 65. By race and ethnicity, Hispanics topped the list at 73 percent, followed by blacks, Asians and non-Hispanic whites.

Even by traditional measures, many working families are hurting.

Following the recession that began in late 2007, the share of working families who are low income has risen for three consecutive years to 31.2 percent, or 10.2 million. That proportion is the highest in at least a decade, up from 27 percent in 2002, according to a new analysis by the Working Poor Families Project and the Population Reference Bureau, a nonprofit research group based in Washington.

Among low-income families, about one-third were considered poor while the remainder, 6.9 million, earned income just above the poverty line. Many states phase out eligibility for food stamps, Medicaid, tax credit and other government aid programs for low-income Americans as they approach 200 percent of the poverty level.

The majority of low-income families, 62 percent, spent more than one-third of their earnings on housing, surpassing a common guideline for what is considered affordable. By some census surveys, child-care costs consume close to another one-fifth.

Paychecks for low-income families are shrinking. The inflation-adjusted average earnings for the bottom 20 percent of families have fallen from $16,788 in 1979 to just under $15,000, and earnings for the next 20 percent have remained flat at $37,000. In contrast, higher-income brackets had significant wage growth since 1979, with earnings for the top 5 percent of families climbing 64 percent to more than $313,000.

A survey of 29 cities conducted by the U.S. Conference of Mayors being released Thursday points to a gloomy outlook for those on the lower end of the income scale.

Many mayors cited the challenges of meeting increased demands for food assistance, expressing particular concern about possible cuts to federal programs such as food stamps and WIC, which assists low-income pregnant women and mothers. Unemployment led the list of causes of hunger in cities, followed by poverty, low wages and high housing costs.

Across the 29 cities, about 27 percent of people needing emergency food aid did not receive it. Kansas City, Missouri, Nashville, Tennessee, Sacramento, California, and Trenton, New Jersey, were among the cities that pointed to increases in the cost of food and declining food donations, while Mayor Michael McGinn in Seattle, Washington, cited an unexpected spike in food requests from immigrants and refugees, particularly from Somalia, Myanmar and Bhutan.

Among those requesting emergency food assistance, 51 percent were in families, 26 percent were employed, 19 percent were elderly and 11 percent were homeless.

“People who never thought they would need food are in need of help,” said Kansas City Mayor Sly James, who co-chairs a mayors’ task force on hunger and homelessness.

———

Online:

Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov

U.S. Conference of Mayors: http://www.usmayors.org/

Turkey Filling Israeli Role In “Georgia II” Scenario Now Building

[Look for a renewed Georgia/Russia conflict whenever it is time for activation of the European Gladio operation.  Judging from recent terror attacks and renewed conflict in Serbia, that time may have already arrived.  My guess is that there will be military action on a European front by spring.]

Expert: Turkish investments in Georgia to have Trojan horse effect

PanARMENIAN.Net – Disappearance of the Armenian factor in Javakheti would not strengthen the Georgian one, as it will boost the more powerful Turkish factor, according to an expert at “Mitk” analytical center.

As Vahe Sargsyan told at a press conference on December 15, “Turkey now leads a strong economic and demographic expansion in the southern region of Georgia, particularly in Javakheti.”

In this regard, he ironically noted that Turkish investments in Georgia will have a Trojan horse effect, the main aim of Turkey being connection to its partner – Azerbaijan – and, subsequently, Turkic countries of Central Asia.

As an example, Sargsyan recalled the disappearance of the Armenian factor in Kvemo-Kartli.

Expert: Georgia-NATO cooperation turns into Turkish expansion to Georgia

PanARMENIAN.Net – Military cooperation with Turkey is viewed as Georgian attempt to promote ties with NATO, according to Armenian military expert.

“Apparently Georgia-NATO cooperation is turning into Turkish expansion to Georgia,” Artsrun Hovhannisyan said dwelling on recent USD 1.7 mln worth ammunition that Turkey gifted Georgia.

The expert further criticized Georgia’s choice of Turkey in the capacity of a country to bring it in line with NATO standards.

 

Russia pledges at least $10 billion to save euro

Russia pledges at least $10 billion to save euro

By SLOBODAN LEKIC, Associated Press

BRUSSELS (AP) — Russia, hoping to keep its largest export market from collapsing, will give at least $10 billion to the International Monetary Fund to help support the struggling euro currency, an aide to President Dmitry Medvedev said Thursday.

Russian officials have said in the past that the country would offer up to $10 billion. But Arkady Dvorkovich, a Medvedev economic adviser, indicated the total may be greater because Russia has a big economic stake in the European Union, where a debt crisis is dragging down economies and the 17-nation eurozone.

“We are ready to contribute our part via the IMF. We are committed to do it. Ten billion dollars is the minimum commitment,” Dvorkovich told journalists reporting from the 28th EU-Russia summit in Brussels, where other major issues included visa liberalization and the contentious Russian election.

Russia exports more to the EU than to any other market, and Russia is the EU’s third-largest trading partner. Total trade amounts to €245 billion ($318 billion). Russia also is the EU’s most important source of energy imports, accounting for nearly a quarter of its natural gas consumption and 30 percent of its oil.

“We are strongly interdependent,” European Council President Herman Van Rompuy said Thursday. Van Rompuy is hosting Medvedev for the twice-yearly meeting.

Russia’s ambassador to the EU, Vladimir Chizov, said Medvedev would be ready for any questions about alleged election fraud in Russia’s Dec. 4 parliamentary elections.

The EU has avoided overt criticism of the elections, which have sparked mass protests in Moscow and other cities. But European parliament speaker Jerzy Buzek called Wednesday for new free and fair elections and a probe into reports of fraud and intimidation.

“The voice of the people protesting on the streets for more than one week must be heard,” Buzek said.

Still, economic issues were dominating the talks, which come as the World Trade Organization is set to approve Russia’s membership. Russia — the largest economy still outside the WTO — had been trying to join for 18 years. A Swiss-brokered deal with Georgia last month cleared the last major hurdle for Russia.

The two sides also are set to launch, after years of negotiations, a set of joint steps that will lead to visa-free travel for Russian citizens — a long-standing irritant in relations. The measures include the introduction of biometric passports, as well as improved border management to combat transnational crime, terrorism and corruption.

Chizov said Syria and Iran were also among topics of discussion. Russia has blocked a bid by the United States and EU nations to impose sanctions against Syria, where a government crackdown on dissidents has killed thousands, and opposes any further moves on Iran, whose nuclear program worries the West.

India Reportedly Basing Helicopters, Fighter Jets In Tajikistan

Putin says US involved in Gaddafi’s killing

Putin says US involved in Gaddafi’s killing

TV screens show Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during the broadcast of his annual phone-in session with Russians in Moscow. (AFP photo/Alexey Sazonov)

TV screens show Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin during the broadcast of his annual phone-in session with Russians in Moscow. (AFP photo/Alexey Sazonov)

MOSCOW – Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the US special forces of being involved in the killing of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi.

“Who did this?” Putin said in his annual televised phone-in with Russians.

“Drones, including American ones. They attacked his column. Then using the radio — through the special forces, who should not have been there — they brought in the so-called opposition and fighters, and killed him without court or investigation.”

Russia had initially allowed NATO’s air campaign in Libya to go ahead by abstaining in a UN Security Council vote. But it then vehemently criticised the campaign which Putin at one stage compared to a “crusade”.

His comments mark the first time that Russia has implicated the US administration in Gaddafi’s death.

Putin also lashed out at US Senator John McCain, a former presidential candidate and frequent Putin critic who warned in a message on Twitter this month that an “Arab Spring” may soon be coming to Russia.

“I know Mr McCain,” said Putin, adding that he would prefer not to refer to him as a “friend”.

“This was not addressed in my direction. This was said about Russia. Some people want to move Russia aside somewhere in a corner, so it does not intervene — so that it does not intervene in the ruling of the world,” said Putin.

“They still fear our nuclear capabilities,” he said in reference to the West.

“That is why we are such an irritant. We have our own opinion and are conducting our own independent foreign policy … And it clearly bothers someone.”

China says will hit U.S. auto imports with duties

China says will hit U.S. auto imports with duties

Employees work on an auto assembly line in Hefei, Anhui province, August 11, 2010.  REUTERS/Stringer

Employees work on an auto assembly line in Hefei, Anhui province, August 11, 2010.

Credit: Reuters/Stringer

By Michael Martina and Doug Palmer

BEIJING/WASHINGTON – | Wed Dec 14, 2011 5:41pm EST

(Reuters) – China will impose punitive duties of up to 22 percent on large cars and SUVs exported from the United States, China’s Commerce Ministry said on Wednesday, the latest in a series of trade disputes between the world’s two largest economies.

The new duties take aim at vehicle exports valued near $4 billion and come at an awkward time for U.S.-China relations, with China’s currency and trade policies becoming a focus of criticism for U.S. presidential candidates.

Vehicles affected by the new duties include the Cadillac Escalade made by General Motors Co, the Jeep Grand Cherokee from Fiat SpA affiliate Chrysler Group LLC and luxury SUVs from Daimler AG’s Mercedes and BMW AG.

Chinese officials said the U.S.-built SUVs and luxury sedans were being dumped on the Chinese market and causing “substantial damage to China’s domestic industry.” Vehicle exports to China had already been subject to a 25 percent tariff and the new tariff will be in addition to that duty.

The decision by Beijing to impose the additional levy comes after China lost a two-year fight over tire exports to the United States in September.

A World Trade Organization ruling favored an Obama administration proposal to sharply increase duties on Chinese tires, rejecting an appeal that the 2009 move was protectionist and would hurt China’s tire industry.

“We are very disappointed in this action by China,” U.S. Trade Representative spokeswoman Carol Guthrie said.

Four senior lawmakers in the House of Representatives also urged USTR to take action, calling the duties “unjustifiable” and “one more instance of impermissible Chinese retaliation against the United States and other trading partners.”

The group included Michigan representatives Dave Camp and Sander Levin, the top Republican and Democrat respectively on the House Ways and Means Committee.

The new duties on American-made large cars and SUVs range from a 2 percent levy on BMW models to 15 percent for Chrysler and almost 22 percent for GM. Ford Motor Co does not export U.S.-built vehicles to China.

“Clearly, the intention was to inflict pain on the Americans above all,” said Georges Dieng, a Paris-based analyst with Natixis Securities.

U.S.-China trade tension has been increasing in recent months, particularly in the solar industry, where tit-for-tat investigations into accusations of unfair practices have underscored leaders’ warnings of rising protectionism amid gloomy global economic forecasts.

Mercedes builds its M-Class, R-Class and GL-Class SUVs for the U.S. market and export at a factory in Alabama. About 10 percent of that plant’s output – or 16,000 vehicles – is shipped to China.

“We hope that we can find a quick solution,” said Daimler spokesman Han Tjan.

BMW, which exports the X3, X5 and X6 sport utility vehicle from South Carolina, said it did not expect the new tariff to have a “significant impact” on its business in China. “We are less affected than other manufacturers, and we are not unprepared for the measure,” a BMW spokeswoman told Reuters.

BMW sells about 70 percent of the SUVs made in South Carolina to markets outside the United States, said spokesman Kenn Sparks.

CHINA: MORE TRADE ISSUES AHEAD

GM, the U.S. automaker with the largest presence in China, said it would work with representatives of both the U.S. and Chinese governments to try to find a solution “consistent with a constructive global trade environment.”

GM expects to sell about 11,000 SUVs and large cars built in the United States to China this year. Those models include the Buick Enclave and the Cadillac CTS and Escalade.

Chrysler said it was reviewing the decision to determine what impact it could have on its business.

Chrysler, controlled by Italy’s Fiat, said in June that it was on track to sell 40,000 vehicles in China this year. The Jeep Grand Cherokee went on sale in China this year and Chrysler had been looking to export its 300 model large sedan.

Honda Motor Co Ltd exports Acura TL sedans built in Ohio to China. Those cars would also be subject to an additional 4.4 percent tariff. As of November, Honda had sold 362 TL models in China.

In 2009, China eclipsed the United States as the world’s largest auto market, but its national car industry remains weak and fragmented, leaving 70 percent of the market to U.S., European, Japanese and South Korean makers.

Sales of passenger cars in China rose more than 30 percent in 2010, but the pace has slowed sharply in 2011 and sales gains are expected to be closer to 5 percent this year.

U.S. vehicle exports to China were valued at $3.5 billion in 2010 and $4.2 billion through October of this year, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.

Ten years after China joined the World Trade Organization, experts say it is likely to become more deeply enmeshed in trade disputes.

More problems for Beijing at the trade governing body will be partly due to its ever-expanding trade footprint, but also because the moods of many of its trading partners are souring over what they see as state support for strategic industries.

Actions against those trade practices have led to what the U.S. ambassador to the WTO, Michael Punke, last month called an emerging pattern of China’s “reflexive resort to trade actions in response to legitimate actions taken by the United States or other trading partners.”

U.S. officials have said they are not satisfied with the way China is meeting its obligations in the WTO and would continue to step up enforcement activity.

China’s Trade Minister Chen Deming said China expects trade disputes to increase next year because of economic weakness in the United States and Europe.

“If we look at countries around us, for example Europe and the United States, we’re all going to face difficulties brought about by these two areas,” he said at a press conference in Geneva.

(Additional reporting by Wang Lan and Don Durfee in Beijing; Hendrik Sackmann in Stuttgart, Germany; Tom Miles in Geneva; Laurence Frost in Paris; John Crawley in Washington; Kevin Krolicki in Detroit; Editing by Maureen Bavdek, Gerald E. McCormick, Gary Hill)