EU Leadership Still Self-Blind To US Evil Intentions for Europe and Russia

[SEE:  West wants to end confrontation with Russia over Ukraine – EU foreign policy chief ]
European Union Foreign Policy Chief Federica Mogherini…rejected the idea that the EU’s position on the crisis differs from that of the US.
“It is not true that there is a soft Europe stance, which opposes the US hardline position.”
Mogherini said that Washington’s views on Russia match those of Europe…“everyone wants to get out of the logic of confrontation.”

‘F**k the EU’

Victoria Nuland: US-Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Geoffrey R. Pyatt: United States Ambassador to Ukraine

Biden says US ‘embarrassed’ EU into sanctioning Russia over Ukraine

Russia-Today
U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

U.S. Vice President Joe Biden (Reuters / Jonathan Ernst)

America’s leadership had to embarrass Europe to impose economic hits on Russia over the crisis in Ukraine – even though the EU was opposed to such a motion, US Vice President Joe Biden revealed during a speech at Harvard.

“We’ve given Putin a simple choice: Respect Ukraine’s sovereignty or face increasing consequences,” Biden told a gathering at the John F. Kennedy Jr. Forum at Harvard University’s Institute of Politics on Thursday.

The consequences were the sanctions which the EU imposed on Russia, first targeting individual politicians and businessmen deemed responsible for the crisis in Ukraine, then switching to the energy, defense, and economic sectors.

“It is true they did not want to do that,” Biden admitted.

“It was America’s leadership and the president of the United States insisting, oft times almost having to embarrass Europe to stand up and take economic hits to impose costs,” the US vice president declared.

AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

AFP Photo / Patrick Hertzog

Those costs deemed behind the ruble’s historic plunge not only forced America’s ExxonMobil to retreat from Russia’s Arctic shelf, but also provoked counter-measures from Moscow, which suspended certain food imports from the EU.

Russia’s counter-sanctions have hit many of the EU’s agricultural states. EU members, particularly those close to Russia, were the most affected by the loss of the Russian market.

For instance, the Netherlands – the world’s second-largest exporter of agricultural products – is set to lose 300 million euro annually from canceled business with Russia, as it accounts for roughly 10 percent of Dutch exports of vegetables, fruit, and meat.

At the same time, Poland was hit hard by the Kremlin’s sanctions, as its food exports to Russia totaled $1.5 billion in 2013.

Spain, a large exporter of oranges to Russia, is estimated to miss out on 337 million euro ($421 million) in food and agriculture sales, while Italy has estimated its losses at nearly 1 billion euro ($1.2 billion).

Following pressure from local farmers, a 125 million euro EU Commission Common Agricultural Policy fund was established, from which the growers are expected to get some cash, while Amsterdam is willing to cover the cost of transporting excess produce to eight food banks across Holland.

Overall, Moscow’s one-year food embargo against the EU, the US, Norway, Australia, and Canada will block an estimated $9 billion worth of agricultural exports to Russia.

With European countries now at a loss with apple and dairy surplus, it is not exactly clear whether EU producers will be able to return to the Russian markets after the one-year ban expires.

However, this is no secret to the US, as Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland remarked on Thursday.

“Implementing sanctions isn’t easy and many countries are paying a steep price. We know that. But history shows that the cost of inaction and disunity in the face of a determined aggressor will be higher,” Nuland said.

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

U.S. Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs Victoria Nuland (R) and U.S. Ambassador Geoffrey Pyatt (2nd R) distribute bread to riot police near Independence square in Kiev December 11, 2013. (Reuters / Andrew Kravchenko)

Nuland’s reference to necessary action against the “aggressor” might be taken with a grain of salt by the Europeans, as the “F**k the EU” leak is still fresh in their memory.

The four-minute video – titled ‘Maidan puppets,’ referring to Independence Square in Ukraine’s capital – was uploaded by an anonymous user to YouTube.

Nuland was recorded as saying the notoriously known phrase during a phone call with US Ambassador to Ukraine Geoffrey Pyatt, as the two were seemingly discussing a US-preferred line-up of the Ukrainian government. It apparently referred to Washington’s policy differences with those of the EU on ways of handling the Ukrainian political crisis, with Nuland suggesting to “glue this thing” with the help of the UN and ignore Brussels.

The US State Department did not deny the authenticity of the video and stressed that Nuland had apologized for the “reported comments.”

Obama Is Starting A Bigger War That Every Living Human Will Come To Regret

A Cyber War with North Korea and an Economic War with Russia

war is crime

AMERICAN HOLOCAUST–We Inspired Hitler and S. Africa

The powerful and hard-hitting documentary, American Holocaust, is quite possibly the only film that reveals the link between the Nazi holocaust, which claimed at least 6 million Jews, and the American Holocaust which claimed, according to conservative estimates, 19 million Indigenous People.

It is seldom noted anywhere in fact, be it in textbooks or on the internet, that Hitler studied America’s “Indian policy”, and used it as a model for what he termed “the final solution.”

He wasn’t the only one either. It’s not explicitly mentioned in the film, but it’s well known that members of the National Party government in South Africa studied “the American approach” before they introduced the system of racial apartheid, which lasted from 1948 to 1994. Other fascist regimes, for instance, in South and Central America, studied the same policy.

Noted even less frequently, Canada’s “Aboriginal policy” was also closely examined for its psychological properties. America always took the more ‘wide-open’ approach, for example, by decimating the Buffalo to get rid of a primary food source, by introducing pox blankets, and by giving $1 rewards to settlers in return for scalps of Indigenous Men, women, and children, among many, many other horrendous acts. Canada, on the other hand, was more bureaucratic about it. They used what I like to call “the gentleman’s touch”, because instead of extinguishment, Canada sought to “remove the Indian from the Man” and the Women and the Child, through a long-term, and very specific program of internal breakdown and replacement – call it “assimilation“. America had it’s own assimilation program, but Canada was far more technical about it.

Perhaps these points would have been more closely examined in American Holocaust if the film had been completed. The film’s director, Joanelle Romero, says she’s been turned down from all sources of funding since she began putting it together in 1995.

Perhaps it’s just not “good business” to invest in something that tells so much truth? In any event, Romero produced a shortened, 29-minute version of the film in 2001, with the hope of encouraging new funders so she could complete American Holocaust. Eight years on, Romero is still looking for funds.

American Holocaust may never become the 90-minute documentary Romero hoped to create, to help expose the most substantial act of genocide that the world has ever seen… one that continues even as you read these words.

On December 3 1984, Union Carbide Gas Sent 3,800 Souls Home To God

BHOPAL SOURCE

The Bhopal disaster and its aftermath: a review

NCBI

On December 3 1984, more than 40 tons of methyl isocyanate gas leaked from a pesticide plant in Bhopal, India, immediately killing at least 3,800 people and causing significant morbidity and premature death for many thousands more. The company involved in what became the worst industrial accident in history immediately tried to dissociate itself from legal responsibility. Eventually it reached a settlement with the Indian Government through mediation of that country’s Supreme Court and accepted moral responsibility. It paid $470 million in compensation, a relatively small amount of based on significant underestimations of the long-term health consequences of exposure and the number of people exposed. The disaster indicated a need for enforceable international standards for environmental safety, preventative strategies to avoid similar accidents and industrial disaster preparedness.

Since the disaster, India has experienced rapid industrialization. While some positive changes in government policy and behavior of a few industries have taken place, major threats to the environment from rapid and poorly regulated industrial growth remain. Widespread environmental degradation with significant adverse human health consequences continues to occur throughout India.

December 2004 marked the twentieth anniversary of the massive toxic gas leak from Union Carbide Corporation’s chemical plant in Bhopal in the state of Madhya Pradesh, India that killed more than 3,800 people. This review examines the health effects of exposure to the disaster, the legal response, the lessons learned and whether or not these are put into practice in India in terms of industrial development, environmental management and public health.

History

In the 1970s, the Indian government initiated policies to encourage foreign companies to invest in local industry. Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) was asked to build a plant for the manufacture of Sevin, a pesticide commonly used throughout Asia. As part of the deal, India’s government insisted that a significant percentage of the investment come from local shareholders. The government itself had a 22% stake in the company’s subsidiary, Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) [1]. The company built the plant in Bhopal because of its central location and access to transport infrastructure. The specific site within the city was zoned for light industrial and commercial use, not for hazardous industry. The plant was initially approved only for formulation of pesticides from component chemicals, such as MIC imported from the parent company, in relatively small quantities. However, pressure from competition in the chemical industry led UCIL to implement “backward integration” – the manufacture of raw materials and intermediate products for formulation of the final product within one facility. This was inherently a more sophisticated and hazardous process [2].

In 1984, the plant was manufacturing Sevin at one quarter of its production capacity due to decreased demand for pesticides. Widespread crop failures and famine on the subcontinent in the 1980s led to increased indebtedness and decreased capital for farmers to invest in pesticides. Local managers were directed to close the plant and prepare it for sale in July 1984 due to decreased profitability [3]. When no ready buyer was found, UCIL made plans to dismantle key production units of the facility for shipment to another developing country. In the meantime, the facility continued to operate with safety equipment and procedures far below the standards found in its sister plant in Institute, West Virginia. The local government was aware of safety problems but was reticent to place heavy industrial safety and pollution control burdens on the struggling industry because it feared the economic effects of the loss of such a large employer [3].

At 11.00 PM on December 2 1984, while most of the one million residents of Bhopal slept, an operator at the plant noticed a small leak of methyl isocyanate (MIC) gas and increasing pressure inside a storage tank. The vent-gas scrubber, a safety device designer to neutralize toxic discharge from the MIC system, had been turned off three weeks prior [3]. Apparently a faulty valve had allowed one ton of water for cleaning internal pipes to mix with forty tons of MIC [1]. A 30 ton refrigeration unit that normally served as a safety component to cool the MIC storage tank had been drained of its coolant for use in another part of the plant [3]. Pressure and heat from the vigorous exothermic reaction in the tank continued to build. The gas flare safety system was out of action and had been for three months. At around 1.00 AM, December 3, loud rumbling reverberated around the plant as a safety valve gave way sending a plume of MIC gas into the early morning air [4]. Within hours, the streets of Bhopal were littered with human corpses and the carcasses of buffaloes, cows, dogs and birds. An estimated 3,800 people died immediately, mostly in the poor slum colony adjacent to the UCC plant [1,5]. Local hospitals were soon overwhelmed with the injured, a crisis further compounded by a lack of knowledge of exactly what gas was involved and what its effects were [1]. It became one of the worst chemical disasters in history and the name Bhopal became synonymous with industrial catastrophe [5].

Estimates of the number of people killed in the first few days by the plume from the UCC plant run as high as 10,000, with 15,000 to 20,000 premature deaths reportedly occurring in the subsequent two decades [6]. The Indian government reported that more than half a million people were exposed to the gas [7]. Several epidemiological studies conducted soon after the accident showed significant morbidity and increased mortality in the exposed population. Table Table1.1. summarizes early and late effects on health. These data are likely to under-represent the true extent of adverse health effects because many exposed individuals left Bhopal immediately following the disaster never to return and were therefore lost to follow-up [8].

Table 1

Health effects of the Bhopal methyl isocyanate gas leak exposure [8, 30-32].

Aftermath

Immediately after the disaster, UCC began attempts to dissociate itself from responsibility for the gas leak. Its principal tactic was to shift culpability to UCIL, stating the plant was wholly built and operated by the Indian subsidiary. It also fabricated scenarios involving sabotage by previously unknown Sikh extremist groups and disgruntled employees but this theory was impugned by numerous independent sources [1].

The toxic plume had barely cleared when, on December 7, the first multi-billion dollar lawsuit was filed by an American attorney in a U.S. court. This was the beginning of years of legal machinations in which the ethical implications of the tragedy and its affect on Bhopal’s people were largely ignored. In March 1985, the Indian government enacted the Bhopal Gas Leak Disaster Act as a way of ensuring that claims arising from the accident would be dealt with speedily and equitably. The Act made the government the sole representative of the victims in legal proceedings both within and outside India. Eventually all cases were taken out of the U.S. legal system under the ruling of the presiding American judge and placed entirely under Indian jurisdiction much to the detriment of the injured parties.

In a settlement mediated by the Indian Supreme Court, UCC accepted moral responsibility and agreed to pay $470 million to the Indian government to be distributed to claimants as a full and final settlement. The figure was partly based on the disputed claim that only 3000 people died and 102,000 suffered permanent disabilities [9]. Upon announcing this settlement, shares of UCC rose $2 per share or 7% in value [1]. Had compensation in Bhopal been paid at the same rate that asbestosis victims where being awarded in US courts by defendant including UCC – which mined asbestos from 1963 to 1985 – the liability would have been greater than the $10 billion the company was worth and insured for in 1984 [10]. By the end of October 2003, according to the Bhopal Gas Tragedy Relief and Rehabilitation Department, compensation had been awarded to 554,895 people for injuries received and 15,310 survivors of those killed. The average amount to families of the dead was $2,200 [9].

At every turn, UCC has attempted to manipulate, obfuscate and withhold scientific data to the detriment of victims. Even to this date, the company has not stated exactly what was in the toxic cloud that enveloped the city on that December night [8]. When MIC is exposed to 200° heat, it forms degraded MIC that contains the more deadly hydrogen cyanide (HCN). There was clear evidence that the storage tank temperature did reach this level in the disaster. The cherry-red color of blood and viscera of some victims were characteristic of acute cyanide poisoning [11]. Moreover, many responded well to administration of sodium thiosulfate, an effective therapy for cyanide poisoning but not MIC exposure [11]. UCC initially recommended use of sodium thiosulfate but withdrew the statement later prompting suggestions that it attempted to cover up evidence of HCN in the gas leak. The presence of HCN was vigorously denied by UCC and was a point of conjecture among researchers [8,11-13].

As further insult, UCC discontinued operation at its Bhopal plant following the disaster but failed to clean up the industrial site completely. The plant continues to leak several toxic chemicals and heavy metals that have found their way into local aquifers. Dangerously contaminated water has now been added to the legacy left by the company for the people of Bhopal [1,14].

Lessons learned

The events in Bhopal revealed that expanding industrialization in developing countries without concurrent evolution in safety regulations could have catastrophic consequences [4]. The disaster demonstrated that seemingly local problems of industrial hazards and toxic contamination are often tied to global market dynamics. UCC’s Sevin production plant was built in Madhya Pradesh not to avoid environmental regulations in the U.S. but to exploit the large and growing Indian pesticide market. However the manner in which the project was executed suggests the existence of a double standard for multinational corporations operating in developing countries [1]. Enforceable uniform international operating regulations for hazardous industries would have provided a mechanism for significantly improved in safety in Bhopal. Even without enforcement, international standards could provide norms for measuring performance of individual companies engaged in hazardous activities such as the manufacture of pesticides and other toxic chemicals in India [15]. National governments and international agencies should focus on widely applicable techniques for corporate responsibility and accident prevention as much in the developing world context as in advanced industrial nations [16]. Specifically, prevention should include risk reduction in plant location and design and safety legislation [17].

Local governments clearly cannot allow industrial facilities to be situated within urban areas, regardless of the evolution of land use over time. Industry and government need to bring proper financial support to local communities so they can provide medical and other necessary services to reduce morbidity, mortality and material loss in the case of industrial accidents.

Public health infrastructure was very weak in Bhopal in 1984. Tap water was available for only a few hours a day and was of very poor quality. With no functioning sewage system, untreated human waste was dumped into two nearby lakes, one a source of drinking water. The city had four major hospitals but there was a shortage of physicians and hospital beds. There was also no mass casualty emergency response system in place in the city [3]. Existing public health infrastructure needs to be taken into account when hazardous industries choose sites for manufacturing plants. Future management of industrial development requires that appropriate resources be devoted to advance planning before any disaster occurs [18]. Communities that do not possess infrastructure and technical expertise to respond adequately to such industrial accidents should not be chosen as sites for hazardous industry.

Since 1984

Following the events of December 3 1984 environmental awareness and activism in India increased significantly. The Environment Protection Act was passed in 1986, creating the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and strengthening India’s commitment to the environment. Under the new act, the MoEF was given overall responsibility for administering and enforcing environmental laws and policies. It established the importance of integrating environmental strategies into all industrial development plans for the country. However, despite greater government commitment to protect public health, forests, and wildlife, policies geared to developing the country’s economy have taken precedence in the last 20 years [19].

India has undergone tremendous economic growth in the two decades since the Bhopal disaster. Gross domestic product (GDP) per capita has increased from $1,000 in 1984 to $2,900 in 2004 and it continues to grow at a rate of over 8% per year [20]. Rapid industrial development has contributed greatly to economic growth but there has been significant cost in environmental degradation and increased public health risks. Since abatement efforts consume a large portion of India’s GDP, MoEF faces an uphill battle as it tries to fulfill its mandate of reducing industrial pollution [19]. Heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants and poor enforcement of vehicle emission laws have result from economic concerns taking precedence over environmental protection [19].

With the industrial growth since 1984, there has been an increase in small scale industries (SSIs) that are clustered about major urban areas in India. There are generally less stringent rules for the treatment of waste produced by SSIs due to less waste generation within each individual industry. This has allowed SSIs to dispose of untreated wastewater into drainage systems that flow directly into rivers. New Delhi’s Yamuna River is illustrative. Dangerously high levels of heavy metals such as lead, cobalt, cadmium, chrome, nickel and zinc have been detected in this river which is a major supply of potable water to India’s capital thus posing a potential health risk to the people living there and areas downstream [21].

Land pollution due to uncontrolled disposal of industrial solid and hazardous waste is also a problem throughout India. With rapid industrialization, the generation of industrial solid and hazardous waste has increased appreciably and the environmental impact is significant [22].

India relaxed its controls on foreign investment in order to accede to WTO rules and thereby attract an increasing flow of capital. In the process, a number of environmental regulations are being rolled back as growing foreign investments continue to roll in. The Indian experience is comparable to that of a number of developing countries that are experiencing the environmental impacts of structural adjustment. Exploitation and export of natural resources has accelerated on the subcontinent. Prohibitions against locating industrial facilities in ecologically sensitive zones have been eliminated while conservation zones are being stripped of their status so that pesticide, cement and bauxite mines can be built [23]. Heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants and poor enforcement of vehicle emission laws are other consequences of economic concerns taking precedence over environmental protection [19].

In March 2001, residents of Kodaikanal in southern India caught the Anglo-Dutch company, Unilever, red-handed when they discovered a dumpsite with toxic mercury laced waste from a thermometer factory run by the company’s Indian subsidiary, Hindustan Lever. The 7.4 ton stockpile of mercury-laden glass was found in torn stacks spilling onto the ground in a scrap metal yard located near a school. In the fall of 2001, steel from the ruins of the World Trade Center was exported to India apparently without first being tested for contamination from asbestos and heavy metals present in the twin tower debris. Other examples of poor environmental stewardship and economic considerations taking precedence over public health concerns abound [24].

The Bhopal disaster could have changed the nature of the chemical industry and caused a reexamination of the necessity to produce such potentially harmful products in the first place. However the lessons of acute and chronic effects of exposure to pesticides and their precursors in Bhopal has not changed agricultural practice patterns. An estimated 3 million people per year suffer the consequences of pesticide poisoning with most exposure occurring in the agricultural developing world. It is reported to be the cause of at least 22,000 deaths in India each year. In the state of Kerala, significant mortality and morbidity have been reported following exposure to Endosulfan, a toxic pesticide whose use continued for 15 years after the events of Bhopal [25].

Aggressive marketing of asbestos continues in developing countries as a result of restrictions being placed on its use in developed nations due to the well-established link between asbestos products and respiratory diseases. India has become a major consumer, using around 100,000 tons of asbestos per year, 80% of which is imported with Canada being the largest overseas supplier. Mining, production and use of asbestos in India is very loosely regulated despite the health hazards. Reports have shown morbidity and mortality from asbestos related disease will continue in India without enforcement of a ban or significantly tighter controls [26,27].

UCC has shrunk to one sixth of its size since the Bhopal disaster in an effort to restructure and divest itself. By doing so, the company avoided a hostile takeover, placed a significant portion of UCC’s assets out of legal reach of the victims and gave its shareholder and top executives bountiful profits [1]. The company still operates under the ownership of Dow Chemicals and still states on its website that the Bhopal disaster was “cause by deliberate sabotage”. [28].

Some positive changes were seen following the Bhopal disaster. The British chemical company, ICI, whose Indian subsidiary manufactured pesticides, increased attention to health, safety and environmental issues following the events of December 1984. The subsidiary now spends 30–40% of their capital expenditures on environmental-related projects. However, they still do not adhere to standards as strict as their parent company in the UK. [24].

The US chemical giant DuPont learned its lesson of Bhopal in a different way. The company attempted for a decade to export a nylon plant from Richmond, VA to Goa, India. In its early negotiations with the Indian government, DuPont had sought and won a remarkable clause in its investment agreement that absolved it from all liabilities in case of an accident. But the people of Goa were not willing to acquiesce while an important ecological site was cleared for a heavy polluting industry. After nearly a decade of protesting by Goa’s residents, DuPont was forced to scuttle plans there. Chennai was the next proposed site for the plastics plant. The state government there made significantly greater demand on DuPont for concessions on public health and environmental protection. Eventually, these plans were also aborted due to what the company called “financial concerns”. [29].

Conclusion

The tragedy of Bhopal continues to be a warning sign at once ignored and heeded. Bhopal and its aftermath were a warning that the path to industrialization, for developing countries in general and India in particular, is fraught with human, environmental and economic perils. Some moves by the Indian government, including the formation of the MoEF, have served to offer some protection of the public’s health from the harmful practices of local and multinational heavy industry and grassroots organizations that have also played a part in opposing rampant development. The Indian economy is growing at a tremendous rate but at significant cost in environmental health and public safety as large and small companies throughout the subcontinent continue to pollute. Far more remains to be done for public health in the context of industrialization to show that the lessons of the countless thousands dead in Bhopal have truly been heeded.

Competing interests

The author(s) declare that they have no competing interests.

Acknowledgements

J. Barab, B. Castleman, R Dhara and U Misra reviewed the manuscript and provided useful suggestions.

References

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Articles from Environmental Health are provided here courtesy of BioMed Central

Royal Arab Scum Decreases By Two, One Unknown Saudi, Another Unknown Kuwaiti

Doha: The Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani has sent a cable of condolences to the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah bin Abdulaziz Al Saud of Saudi Arabia on the death of Prince Saad bin Abdullah bin Abdulrahman Al Saud.

The Deputy Emir H H Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani and the Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani have also sent cables of condolences to the Saudi King.

The Emir H H Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani sent a cable of condolences to the Emir of Kuwait H H Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Jaber Al Sabah on the death of Sheikha Fatima Al Athbi Al Mohamed Al Sabah.

The Deputy Emir H H Sheikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Thani and the Prime Minister and Interior Minister H E Sheikh Abdullah bin Nasser bin Khalifa Al Thani have also sent cables of condolences to  Kuwait Emir.

City of London Freaks, Frantic with Fear Over Impending Anti-Capitalist World Revolution

We-will-not-tolerate-this-system-any-more-it-is-time-for-a-world-revolution-together-we-will-change-the-world-join-us

Inclusive Capitalism Initiative is Trojan Horse to quell coming global revolt

guardian

Prince Charles, Prince of Wales talks to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary fund, before the start of the Inclusive Capitalism Conference at the Mansion House on May 27, 2014 in London, United Kingdom.
Prince Charles, Prince of Wales talks to Christine Lagarde, Managing Director of the International Monetary fund, before the start of the Inclusive Capitalism Conference at the Mansion House on May 27, 2014 in London, United Kingdom. Photograph: WPA Pool/Getty Images

Yesterday’s Conference on Inclusive Capitalism co-hosted by the City of London Corporation and EL Rothschild investment firm, brought together the people who control a third of the world’s liquid assets – the most powerful financial and business elites – to discuss the need for a more socially responsible form of capitalism that benefits everyone, not just a wealthy minority.

Leading financiers referred to statistics on rising global inequalities and the role of banks and corporations in marginalising the majority while accelerating systemic financial risk – vindicating the need for change.

While the self-reflective recognition by global capitalism’s leaders that business-as-usual cannot continue is welcome, sadly the event represented less a meaningful shift of direction than a barely transparent effort to rehabilitate a parasitical economic system on the brink of facing a global uprising.

Central to the proceedings was an undercurrent of elite fear that the increasing disenfranchisement of the vast majority of the planetary population under decades of capitalist business-as-usual could well be its own undoing.

The Conference on Inclusive Capitalism is the brainchild of the Henry Jackson Society (HJS), a little-known but influential British think tank with distinctly neoconservative and xenophobic leanings. In May 2012, HJS executive director Alan Mendoza explained the thinking behind the project:

“… we felt that such was public disgust with the system, there was a very real danger that politicians could seek to remedy the situation by legislating capitalism out of business.”

He claimed that HJS research showed that “the only real solutions that can be put forward to restore trust in the system, and which actually stand a chance of bringing economic prosperity, are being led by the private, rather than the public, sector.”

The Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism’s recommendations for reform seem well-meaning at first glance, but in reality barely skim the surface of capitalism’s growing crisis tendencies: giant corporations should invest in more job training, should encourage positive relationships and partnerships with small- and medium-sized businesses, and – while not jettisoning quarterly turnovers – should also account for ways of sustaining long-term value for shareholders.

The impetus for this, however, lies in the growing recognition that if such reforms are not pursued, global capitalists will be overthrown by the very populations currently overwhelmingly marginalised by their self-serving activity. As co-chair of the HJS Inclusive Capitalism taskforce, McKinsey managing director Dominic Barton, explained from his meetings with over 400 business and government leaders worldwide that:

“… there is growing concern that if the fundamental issues revealed in the crisis remain unaddressed and the system fails again, the social contract between the capitalist system and the citizenry may truly rupture, with unpredictable but severely damaging results.”

Among those “damaging results” – apart from the potential disruption to profits and the capitalist system itself – is the potential failure to capitalise on the finding by “corporate-finance experts” that “70 to 90 percent of a company’s value is related to cash flows expected three or more years out.”

Indeed, as the New York Observer reported after the US launch of the Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism, the rather thin proposals for reform “seemed less important than bringing business leaders together to address a more central concern: In an era of rising income inequality and grim economic outlook, people seemed to be losing confidence in capitalism altogether.”

Lady Lynn Forester de Rothschild, who co-hosted yesterday’s conference, told the NY Observer why she was concerned:

“I think that a lot of kids have neither money nor hope, and that’s really bad. Because then they’re going to get mad at America. What our hope for this initiative, is that through all the efforts of all of the decent CEOs, all the decent kids without a job feel optimistic.”

Yep. Feel optimistic. PR is the name of the game.

“I believe that it is our duty to help make all people believe that the elevator is working for them… that whatever the station of your birth, you can get on that elevator to success,” de Rothschild told Chinese business leaders last year:

“At the moment, that faith and confidence is under siege in America… As business people, we have a pragmatic reason to get it right for everyone – so that the government does not intervene in unproductive ways with business… I think that it is imperative for us to restore faith in capitalism and in free markets.”

According to the very 2011 City of London Corporation report which recommended funding the HJS inclusive capitalism project, one of its core goals is undermining public support for “increased regulation” and “greater state” involvement in the economy, while simultaneously deterring calls to “punish those deemed responsible for having caused the crisis”:

“Following the financial crisis of 2008, the Western capitalist system has been perceived to be in crisis. Although the financial recovery is now underway in Europe and America, albeit unevenly and in some cases with the risk of further adjustments, the legacy of the sudden nature of the crash lives on.”

The report, written by the City of London’s director of public relations, continues to note that “the fabric of the capitalist system has come in for protracted scrutiny,” causing governments to “confuse the need for reasoned and rational change” with “the desire to punish those deemed responsible for having caused the crisis.” But this would mean that “the capitalist model is liable to have the freedoms and ideology essential to its success corroded.”

Far from acknowledging the predatory and unequalising impact of neoliberal capitalism, the document shows that the inclusive capitalism project is concerned with PR to promote “a more nuanced view of society,” without which “there is a risk that… we will be led down a policy path of increased regulation and greater state control of institutions, businesses and the people at the heart of them, which will fatally cripple the very system that has been responsible for economic prosperity.”

The project is thus designed “to influence political and business opinion” and to target public opinion through a “media campaign that seeks to engage major outlets.”

The Henry Jackson Initiative for Inclusive Capitalism is therefore an elite response to the recognition that capitalism in its current form is unsustainable, likely to hit another crisis, and already generating massive popular resistance.

Its proposed reforms therefore amount to token PR moves to appease the disenfranchised masses. Consequently, they fail to address the very same accelerating profit-oriented systemic risks that will lead to another financial crash before decade’s end.

Their focus, in de Rothschild’s words in the Wall Street Journal, is cosmetic: repairing “capitalism’s bruised image” in order to protect the “common long-term interests of investors and of the capitalist system.”

That is why the Inclusive Capitalism Initiative has nothing to say about reversing the neoliberal pseudo-development policies which, during capitalism’s so-called ‘Golden Age’, widened inequality and retarded growth for “the vast majority of low income and middle-income countries” according to a UN report – including “reduced progress for almost all the social indicators that are available to measure health and educational outcomes” from 1980 to 2005.

Instead, proposed ‘reforms’ offer ways to rehabilitate perceptions of powerful businesses and corporations, in order to head-off rising worker discontent and thus keep the system going, while continuing to maximise profits for the few at the expense of the planet.

This is not a surprise considering the parochial financial and political interests the Henry Jackson Society appears to represent: the very same neoconservative elites that lobbied for the Iraq War and endorse mass NSA surveillance of western and non-western citizens alike.

Indeed, there is little “inclusive” about the capitalism that HJS’ risk consultancy project, Strategic Analysis, seeks to protect, when it advertises its quarterly research reports on “the oil and gas sector in all twenty” countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Those reports aim to highlight “the opportunities for investors” as well as “risks to their business.”

Just last month, HJS organised a conference on mitigating risks in the Arab world to discuss “methods for protecting your business interests, assets and people,” including “how to plan against and mitigate losses… caused by business interruption.” The focus of the conference was protecting the invariably fossil fueled interests of British and American investors and corporates in MENA – the interests and wishes of local populations was not a relevant ‘security’ concern.

The conference’s several corporate sponsors included the Control Risks Group, a British private defence contractor that has serviced Halliburton and the UK Foreign Office in postwar Iraq, and is a member of the Energy Industry Council – the largest trade association for British companies servicing the world’s energy industries.

The “inclusivity” of this new brand of capitalism is also apparent in HJS’ longtime employment of climate denier Raheem Kassam, who now runs the UK branch of the American Breitbart news network, one of whose contributors called for Americans “to start slaughtering Muslims in the street, all of them.”

Perhaps the final nail in the coffin of HJS’ vision of capitalist “inclusivity” is associate director Douglas Murray’s views about Europe’s alleged Muslim problem, of which he said in Dutch Parliament: “Conditions for Muslims in Europe must be made harder across the board.”

Earlier this year, Murray’s fear-mongering targeted the supposed “startling rise in Muslim infants” in Britain, a problem that explains why “white British people” are “losing their country.” London, Murray wrote, “has become a foreign country” in which “‘white Britons’ are now in a minority,” and “there aren’t enough white people around” to make its boroughs “diverse.”

So abhorrent did the Conservative front-bench find Murray’s innumerable xenophobic remarks about European Muslims, reported Paul Goodman, the Tory Party broke off relations with his Center for Social Cohesion before he revitalised himself by joining forces with HJS.

Yet this is the same neocon ideology of “inclusive” market freedom around which the forces of global capitalism are remobilising, in the name of “sustainable” prosperity for all.

They must be having a laugh.

Dr. Nafeez Ahmed is an international security journalist and academic. He is the author of A User’s Guide to the Crisis of Civilization: And How to Save It, and the forthcoming science fiction thriller, Zero Point. Follow him on Facebook and Twitter @nafeezahmed. [Emphasis in quotes was added]

American Afghan Drug War TOTAL SUCCESS In Weaponizing Addiction and Infection

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[SEE:  Afghanistan opium harvest at record high as Nato withdraws ; Afghan opium inflames US-Russia tensions after failed drug war ]

 

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HIV infections double in Russia, ex-Soviet states

MEDICAL XPRESS

HIV infections have doubled in ten years in Russia and former Soviet states, due mainly to unprotected sex and injecting drugs, a report said Thursday.

More than 105,000 new infections were recorded in Russia and former Soviet countries in eastern Europe and Central Asia in 2013, up from just under 50,000 in 2004, said the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) and the World Health Organization.

The number of those who go on to develop AIDS has also tripled in the region, the report said, while the number of deaths from the disease continue to fall in other parts of Europe.

“In Eastern Europe, where 77 percent of all new infections were reported, two thirds of cases among injecting drug users were detected late. This means they are more likely to transmit HIV, their treatment is more expensive, and they are more likely to die,” said Zsuzsanna Jakab, WHO Regional Director for Europe.

The majority of new HIV cases are among people 30 to 39 years old, with Russia and Ukraine reporting the highest number of new infections.

Infection rates also quadrupled in Armenia and Azerbaijan.

The WHO says there were some 35 million people around the world living with HIV by the end of 2013, with some 2.1 million new infections during the course of that year.

Sub-Saharan Africa is the most affected region, with almost 70 percent of new infections.