The Economist: Israel and Gaza, Edging Closer to War

If the latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist's who run Gaza , were to end this weekend, everyone involved, except for the families of the score or more people who have been killed or maimed in the destruction, could claim to have come out ahead. But it is possible that the bombing and rocketing will drag on into next week, with the threat growing of a full scale ground assault by Israel and the inevitable carnage and destruction that would entail. For Israel and Hamas, the key question for each is, did it win in the eyes of our public opinion? For Binyamin Netanyahu, Israel's prime minister, with a general election looming on January 22nd, that question is particularly acute. The assassination on November 24th of Ahmad Jabari, the military commander of the Hamas, was widely welcomed by Israelis. The air force's subsequent elimination of dozens, perhaps hundreds, of long range Iranian made Fajr missiles stockpiled by Hamas and Gaza's more extreme group, Islamic Jihad, was a feat of intelligence and execution that drew kudos from across the Israeli political spectrum. Mr Netanyahu can notch up to his credit, too, the news that his would be rival, Ehud Olmert, postponed his planned announcement on November 15th that he would stand against the prime minister in the upcoming election. Hamas and its prime minister, Ismail Haniyeh, will vaunt its now proven ability to strike at Tel Aviv. Three rockets are believed to have landed near Israel's main center of population, two on November 15th and the third the next day, this despite Isreal's deployment of its Iron Dome anti missile system, which, the army says, had intercepted around 160 of the 510 odd missiles fired from Gaza into Israel between November 14th and 16th. Footage of Tel Avivians diving for cover will boost Hamas's standing and compensate, in part, for the blows it suffered at the outset of this round of fighting. Egypt, under its Muslim Brotherhood president, Mohamed Morsi, is trying to broker a ceasefire. If the violence does end soon, the Egyptians will take credit for it. Their prime minister, Hisham Kandil, visited Gaza on November 16th. His mission was described as an act of "solidarity" with Hamas, but it also signals a desire to see the violence end, and to be seen to help.  

Julie Levesque: The Petraeus Affair, The CIA's Long Criminal History.

The Petraeus Affair has demonstrated yet again how a sex scandal story can be fed into the US media to serve both as a trigger for "political assassination" and as "the tree hiding the forest." Even though what hides behind the salacious smoke screen is still the object of speculation, most of those speculations are more credible than a simple extramarital affair. One of the possible explanations of Petraeus departure is his stance on Israel, which he saw as a liability to US interests in the Middle East: "The enduring hostilities between Israel and some of its neighbors present distinct challenges to our ability to advance our interests in our Area of Operations. Israeli Palestinian tensions often flare into violence and large scale armed confrontations. The conflict foments anti American sentiment, due to a perception of US favoritism for Israel. Arab anger over the Palestinian question limits the strength and depth of US partnerships with governments and peoples in the AOR, and weakens the legitimacy of moderate regimes in the Arab world. Meanwhile, al Qaeda and other militant groups exploit that anger to mobilize support. The conflict also gives Iran influence in the Arab world through its clients, Lebanese Hizballah and Hamas. (See Ali Abunimah, When Former CIA Chief David Petraeus Enraged the Israel Lobby, Electronic Intifada, November 12, 2012.) As Stephen Lendman observes, sex scandals don't necessarily lead to resignations unless state secrets are at stake: Forget resignation over "extramarital sex" nonsense, unless state secrets were compromised. Lots of elected and appointed Washington officials had affairs. Many likely have current ones. Resignations don't generally follow. Newt Gingrich survived sex and ethics scandals. He resigned as House Speaker after the Republicans "faired poorly" in 1998 off year elections. Overlooked are secret CIA Benghazi operations. Involved are heavy weapons sent to Syrian opposition fighters. Petraeus left days before his scheduled congressional testimony. The Benghazi operation is erroneously called a US consulate. Its a meeting place to coordinate aid for the rebel led insurgencies in the Middle East.   

Michel Chossudovsky: The Crimes of War "In the Name of 911"

The tragic events of September 11, 2001 constitute a fundamental landmark in American history, a decisive watershed, a breaking point. Millions of people have been misled regarding the causes and consequences of 9/11. September 11 2001 opens up an era of crisis, upheaval and militarization of American society. The post September 11, 2001 opens up an era of crisis, upheaval and militarization of American society. The post September 11, 2001 era is marked by the outright criminalization of the US State, including its judicial foreign policy, national security and intelligence apparatus. 9/11 marks the onslaught of the Global War on Terrorism (GWOT), used as a pretext and a justification by the US and its NATO allies to carry out a war without borders, a global war of conquest. A far reaching overhaul of US military doctrine was launched in the wake of 9/11. 9/11 was also a stepping stone towards the relentless repeal of civil liberties, the militarization of law enforcement, and the inauguration of Police State USA. In assessing the crimes associated with 9/11 in the context of a legal procedure, we must distinguish between those associated with the actual event, namely the loss of life and the destruction of property, from the crimes committed in the aftermath of September 11, 2001 "in the name of 9/11". The latter build upon the former. We are dealing with two related dimensions of criminality. The crimes committed in the name of 9/11, involving acts of war are far reaching, resulting in the deaths of millions of people as well as the destruction of entire countries. The 9/11 event in itself, which becomes symbolic, is used to justify the onslaught of the post 9/11 US NATO military agenda, under the banner of the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT), not to mention the ushering in of the Homeland police state and the repeal of civil liberties. The crimes committed in the name of 9/11 broadly consist in two intimately related processes: 1. The launching of the "Global War on Terrorism" (GWOT), used as a pretext and a justification to Wage a War of Conquest. This GWOT mandate was used to justify the 2001 and 2003 invasions of Afghanistan and Iraq. The GWOT mandate has since extended its grip to a large number of countries in Africa, the Middle East and Southeast Asia, where the US and its NATO allies are intervening selectively under a counter-terrorism mandate.     


Richard Eskow: The War On Women Is a Class War!

Last week the voters delivered their verdict on what has come to be known as "the Republican War on Women": They're against it. We've had decades of relentless class warfare from above, in the form of wealth distribution from the many to the few. Finally, class related issues have helped to deliver a resounding defeat to scores of candidates who represented the interests of naked greed. Women's issues and women voters were critical to this election. That's not coincidental. The War On Women has many dimensions, social, cultural, psychological, but in many ways women's issues are class issues. That makes the war on women a class war, among other things. The upcoming "fiscal cliff" talks will open up another front in this seemingly endless struggle. Here are some of the reasons why: 1. There are much fewer women than men at the top of the pay scale. As income goes up, the percentage of women goes down. Roughly two thirds of Americans who make $10,000 per year or less are women. The gender balance only reaches 50/50 status as it approaches the income levels we commonly think of as 'middle class'. From there on up, it skews heavily in favor of men. Nearly two thirds of the people who earn between $100,000 and $249,000 per year were male. The disparity is even more striking for earners above $250,000. Less than one out of four Americans making $250,000 per year is a woman. The key issue in this fiscal cliff conflict is taxation for people in this group. The artificial "fiscal cliff" crisis has gender implications at every income level.

Thomas Hedges: How Germany Is Getting 100 Percent Renewable Energy?

There is no debate on climate change in Germany. The temperature for the past 10 months has been 3 degrees above average, and we're again on course for the warmest year on record. There's no dispute among Germans, as to whether this change is man made, or that we contribute to it, and need to stop accelerating the process. Since 2000, Germany has converted 25 percent of its power grid to renewable energy sources, such as solar, wind and biomass. The architects of the clean energy movement, "Energiewende", which translates to "energy transformation," estimate that from 80 percent to 100 percent of Germany's electricity will come from renewable sources by 2050. Germans are baffled that the United States has not taken the same path. Not only is the US the wealthiest nation in the world, but it's also credited with jump starting Germany's green movement 40 years ago. "This is a very American idea," Arne Jungjohann, a director at the Heinrich Boll Stiftung Foundation (HBSF), said at a news conference Tuesday morning in Washington, DC, "We got this from Jimmy Carter." Germany adopted and continued Carter's push for energy conservation,, while the US abandoned further efforts. The death of an American "Energieewende" solidified when President Ronald Reagan ripped down the solar panels atop the White House that Carter had installed. Since then, Germany has created strong incentives for the public to invest in renewable energy. It pays people to generate electricity from solar panels on their houses. The effort to turn more consumers into producers is accelerated through feed in tariffs, which are 20 year contracts that ensure a fixed price the government will pay. Germany lowers the price every year, so there's good reason to sign one as soon as possible, before compensation falls further. The money the government uses to pay producers comes from a monthly surcharge on utility bills that everyone pays, similar to a rebate. Customers pay an additional cost for the renewable energy fund, and then get that money back from the government, at a profit, if they are producing their own energy.

Dr Paul Anderson: Fighting Terrorism or Repressing Democracy?

The focus of critiques of authoritarianism today lies increasingly in the use by liberal governments of exceptional powers. These are powers in which an imminent threat to national security is judged to be of such importance as to warrant the restriction of liberties and other socially repressive measures in order to protect national security. Terrorism has offered a particularly salient source of justification for a level of social repression that would be intolerable in normal times. A dominant line of criticism is that the use of exceptional powers to this end has gone too far. Critics emphasize the need to curtail such power by bringing it into line with basic human rights standards. As pertinent as this critique may be, focus on the proper extent of the social repression tends to assume, Scheuerman, Herman and Peterson point out, there is a real threat of terrorism, and that repression by an expansion of executive of executive authority, is itself an appropriate response to that threat. A less noticed yet critical feature of governments use of anti terror power is the prior erosion of democratic oversight and control, which has enabled repression to appear a plausible response to what is, in many respects, an as yet unspecified threat. The erosion is essentially three pronged. The first aspect of democratic control to have been eroded is the power to define what constitutes a threat. In the absence of meaningful control, governments are able, Clive Walker explains, to ascribe to whatever political violence is being encountered, attributes of novelty and extraordinary seriousness, so as to justify correspondingly alarming incursions into individual rights and domestic accountability. Governments are able to do so, in no small part because of the semantic fog that surrounds the core concepts of national security, threat and terrorism by which exceptional powers are usually evoked. Terrorism, for instance, is a concept that resists consistent definition. Commonly understood by governments as the use of threat or use serious violence to advance a cause, the term eludes legitimate resistance to occupation and oppression with senseless destruction.


The Economist: Politics in Japan, the Kamikaze Election!

The prime minister, Yoshihiko Noda, appears suddenly to have settled a question that has hung over Japanese politics since the summer. He all but promised to dissolve the lower house of the Diet, or parliament, within two days, to hold a general election by December 16th. The move was greeted with glee by Shinzo Abe, who believes he can lead the opposition Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) back to the position of power it occupied for nearly all of the 55 years to 2009. It raises another big question for Mr Noda, though. Why is he willing to hold an election, so soon, that polls suggest he is bound to lose? The answer would seem to reveal a lot about the prime minister, a man who seems prepared to take his party down in flames, in order to do what he considers to be the right thing. Many within the ruling Democratic Party of Japan (DPJ) have urged him to cling to power for as long as possible, hoping that Mr Abe, who fluffed the job of prime minister from 2006-07, will stumble again in the meantime. Yet Mr Noda overrode their objections and set only two conditions for dissolving parliament. First, he wants the LDP-led opposition to join the DPJ in voting in the Diet to issue bonds that would cover the budget deficit, and so avoid Japan's version of the "fiscal cliff". The opposition has already agreed to that. Secondly, he wants a commitment in the next parliament to reduce the number of MPs. Japan needs to redraw the electoral map after the election, in order to avoid a constitutional crisis related to voting disparities between heavily populated and depopulated areas. For Mr Abe, that appears a small price to pay for something the LDP craves, a return to power. Standing opposite Mr Abe in a face to face debate in the Diet, Mr Noda sought to justify the election timing by declaring that he was honest. He had made a promise in August to the LDP that he would dissolve parliament "soon", and he intended to stick to it.

The Economist: Francois Hollande: Battling French Decline

Francois Hollande has lost popularity faster than any French president in modern history, and been roundly criticised for a lack of leadership. Yet it was a remarkably serene Francois Hollande who defended his first six months in office at a press conference in Paris on November 13th. Betraying no sign of panic or pressure, the Socialist president declared that "decline is not our destiny" and asked to be judged not on "the state of public opinion today, but the state of France in five years time". Mr Hollande gives plenty of press conferences when traveling abroad, but this was the first he has held in Paris in the quasi monarchical tradition of Fifth Republic presidents, starting with Charles de Gaulle. Standing in the salle des fetes, the grand reception room of the Elysee palace, with rows of government ministers seated to the side like royal courtiers. Mr Hollande chose a setting that broke with his declared aim of being an un-stuffy "normal" president in touch with the people. He promised to repeat the exercise every six months. The main difficulty Mr Hollande faced was to explain to the French why he has begun to do things that, during his election campaign, he either vowed not to, such as increasing the rate of VAT, or that he scarcely mentioned, such as increasing the rate of VAT, or that he scarcely mentioned, such as cutting public spending. Having devoted most of his first four months to policies that appealed to his left wing base, such as a small rise in the minimum wage, or a new top rate of 75%, Mr Hollande has now begun belatedly to face far tougher decisions over public spending and competitiveness. He has promised to bring down the budget deficit to 20 billion Euros of tax increases and 10 billion Euros of budget savings in order to do so. Yet these calculations are based on growth estimates for 2013 of .8%, which few outside economists consider realistic. The French economy, according to the Bank of France, is expected to contract in the fourth quarter of this year, and probably did so in the previous three months, following three flat quarters. So further budget cuts are all but inevitable next year.

John Kozy: Mistaking Killing and Revenge for Justice!

Much is being written both for and against America's use of drones to assassinate those whom Americans consider to be anti American combatants. Although there is no doubt on which side the moral arguments lie, what's being written strikes me as nugatory. Pious platitudes, legalistic niceties, and sophistical rationalizations appear to be written by the guilty to convince themselves that they are not the people evil to the marrow that they are, and the dying and the dead couldn't care less. To them, being killed by a bullet or a bomb, fired from an AK 47 or a drone makes no difference whatsoever. Dead is dead. Death cannot be sanitized by pronouncements. The so called advantages of using drones to kill are undeniable, so are the disadvantages. Arguing about these is futile. The fundamental question is not about the advantages or disadvantages of the means, it is about the rightness or wrongness of the end. In the end, what good does killing do? Although no one seems to have noted it, I find it interesting that so many of Al Qaeda's "senior commanders" were killed by drones, while Osama bin Laden, once located and identified, was not. Why? Was it because killing by drone is too unreliable to be trusted for the task? In fact, killing from the air is always unreliable. During World War II, American pilots often mistakenly attacked American instead of German positions. In Paths of death and glory, Charles Whiting quoted people as having said, "American pilots are idiots." This has happened so often that maybe the US should rethink the whole flying thing. Obviously they can't do it worth a damn," and the American Ninth Air Force, which flew out of England, was nicknamed the "American Luftwaffe", because it regularly mistakenly bombed American troops in Normandy. Just imagine the propaganda catastrophe that would have resulted if a drone had been used and missed or killed bin Laden's wives and children, but not him.   


Felicity Arbuthnot: Sandy, Obama's "Good Storm"!

Cathy Breen from Voices for Non Violence was late to hear of Hurricane Sandy and of its impact on the Manhatten community where she lives. She was in Najav, in southern Iraq, where, as the rest of the country, the electricity is intermittent to non existent, nearly ten years after the invasion which wrought its final near extinction. When she finally hooked up to the outside world, her host laughed, remarking without malice: Maybe we can send them some of our electricity. In the fleeting window of cyber opportunity an email arrived from a friend in Basra, Iraq's beautiful, battered second city. Electricity was on his mind too. In the summer the high humidity and temperatures which can exceed 120f (50c) lack of electricity neither cools temperatures or temperaments. As winter approaches the desert chill envelopes. Electricity and clean water had not, apparently, been part of US policy for the city, where the first planning priority on crossing the border from Kuwait in March 2003, was to secure the oil installations. Hurricanes and their destruction are, of course, an Act of God. Destroying the entire infrastructure of nations, in bombardments and invasions are acts of men and women, planned with malice to the last detail. In 1991, the attack on Iraq included the destruction of the power grid, with a detailed blueprint to destroy Iraq's water system meticulously executed. Both accomplished the embargo, rendering reconstruction impossible. Iraqi ingenuity cannibalized bits here and there and electricity wobbled on and off for the twelve years, until the invasions further decimation. Then the lights largely went out all together. Repair wherewithal for the water system was blocked, banned, embargoed, and as electricity, re bombed on an ongoing basis, Thyphoid and Cholera, virtually eradicated by 1989, again stalked Iraq's children, now, "post liberation" described by UNESCO as endemic.    


Bill Moyers: Hopes for Obama's Second Term

According to Bill Moyers, During the final weeks of the campaign, I found some welcome diversion from all the political rhetoric and ads, by reading the latest book from James Fallows, one of our most informed and prolific journalists. The title is "China Airborne." It's about why more than two thirds of the new airports under construction today are being built in China, and what this tells us of the Chinese determination to modernize and innovate, and how their ambition is going to impact America's role in the world and our lives. It's a book I hope official Washington is reading. For 40 years as a national correspondent for The Atlantic magazine, James Fallows was based in Washington, covering politics and culture, while also traveling and living in Asia, including several years in Japan and China. Once the chief speechwriter for President Jimmy Carter, and editor of US News and World Report, he's received both the National Book Award. You can read his blog at TheAtlantic.com.  

Tom Dispatch: The Meaning of a Do-Nothing Election!

In the fall of 1948, Harry Truman barnstormed the country by train, repeatedly bashing a do nothing Congress, and so snatched victory from the jaws of defeat in that year's presidential campaign. This year, neither presidential candidate focused on blasting a do nothing Congress or, in Obama's case, "Republican obstructionism," demanding that the voters give them a legislative body that would mean an actual mandate for change. We now know the results of such a campaign and, after all the tumult and the nation's first $6 billion election, they couldn't be more familiar. Only days later, you can watch a remarkably recognizable cast of characters from the reelected president and Speaker of the House, John Boehner to the massed pundits of the mainstream media picking up the pages of a well thumbed script. Will it be bipartisanship or the fiscal cliff? Are we going to raise new revenues via tax reform, or raise tax rates for the wealthiest Americans? Will the president make up with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or not? Will it be war or something less with Iran? And so on and so forth. It's the moment the phrase "deja vu" all over again was made for. When a new Chinese dynasty came to power, it was said that it had received "the mandate of heaven."We've just passed through an election campaign that, while the noisiest in memory, was enveloped in the deepest of silences on issues that truly matter for the American future. Out of it, a "mandate" has indeed been bestowed not just on Obama, but on Washington, where a Republican House of Representatives, far less triumphant, but no less fully in the saddle than the president, faces media reports that its moment is past, that its members are part of "the biggest loser demographic of the election," and that it's party lacking the support of young people, single women, those with no religious affiliation, Hispanics, African Americans, and Asian Americans, is heading for the trash barrel of history. 

Alfred W McCoy: Space Warfare and the Future of US Power!

Its 2025 and an American triple canopy of advanced surveillance and armed drones fills the heavens from the lower to the exo - atmosphere. A wonder of the modern age, it can deliver its weaponry anywhere on the planet with staggering speed, knock out an enemy's satellite communications system, or follow individuals bio-metrically for great distances. Along with the country's advanced cyber war capacity, its also the most sophisticated militarized information system ever created, and an insurance policy for US global domination deep into the twenty first century. Its the future as the Pentagon imagines it. It's under development, and Americans know nothing about it. They are still operating in another age. Our Navy is smaller now than at any time since 1917, complained Republican candidate Mitt Romney during the last presidential debate. With words of withering mockery, President Obama shot back: Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military has changed. The question us not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships. It's what are our capabilities. Obama later offered just a hint of what those capabilities might be: What I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe? We need to be talking about space. Amid all the post debate media chatter, however not a single commentator seemed to have a clue, when it came to the profound strategic changes encoded in the president's sparse words. Yet for the past four years, working in silence and secrecy, the Obama administration has presided over a technological revolution in defense planning, moving the nation far beyond bayonets and battleships to cyber-warfare and the full scale weaponisation of space. In the face of of waning economic influence, this bold new breakthrough in what's called information warfare may prove significantly responsible, should US global domination somehow continue far into the twenty first century.       


Colin Todhunter: The Role of Anti Establishment Conspiracies!

In recent years, populist explanations for world events have become common, and often take the form of anti establishment conspiracy theories. The contradiction between how people believe the world should be, according to the mainstream propaganda, pertaining to liberty and democracy, and how it is in this time of crisis, leads people to search for easily digestible answers. It's easy for conspiracy theorists to play on people's fears and prejudices, and to point fingers at certain groups. In the past, it has been the Jews, the Irish, the blacks, the Poles, or some other easily identifiable target that was blamed for society's ills. Resorting to selective interpretations of history or some other easily identifiable target that was blamed for society's ills. Resorting to selective interpretations of history, or some simplistic Hollywood-esque inspired political or sci-fi narrative, where giant reptiles are taking over the planet can be quite seductive, particularly for right leaning sections of the population, who never had any truck with socialism, and probably once believed in the free market and capitalist  liberal democracy, but now have trouble in fathoming out why it has all gone wrong. Conspiracy theories of different kinds have been found on both the left and the right of the political spectrum over the decades. While the right saw reds under the bed everywhere, the left regarded every negative event as a consequence of capitalism, what sociologists call left functionalism. Much of the left, however, possesses an analysis based on a sound understanding of how capitalism works and developed over time. David Harvey's assessment of the current crisis uses concepts of capital over accumulation, production outsourcing, wage and demand depression and credit access to explain why we are where we happen to be right now.     

Tony Cartalucci: US Destroys Syria While Helping Cambodian Dictatorr

US funds terrorists to overthrow Syrian government based on "humanitarian concerns," while US President Obama lend legitimacy to "dictator for life" Hun Sen of Cambodia with upcoming visit. The United States and its allies have maintained that their commitment to supporting militants operating inside Syria is based on "humanitarian concerns" and in helping "oust a dictator." The US has recently handpicked the Syrian opposition, and has pledged funds and logistical support to help arm militants who have, since 2007, been identified as sectarian extremists affiliated with Al Qaeda, not secular "pro-democracy" "freedom fighters." This was first exposed by Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Seymour Hersh in his 2007 New Yorker report titled, "The Redirection: Is the Administration's new policy benefiting our enemies in the war on terrorism?" In the report it specifically stated: "To undermine Iran, which is predominately Shiite, the Bush Administration has cooperated with Saudi Arabia's government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that expouse a militant vision of Islam, and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda." Hersh's report would continue by stating: "The Saudi government, with Washington's approval, would provide funds and logistical aid to weaken the government of President Bashir Assad, of Syria. The Israelis believe that putting such pressure on the Assad government will make it more conciliatory and open to negotiations." The link between extremist groups and Saudi funding was also mentioned in the report, and reflects evidence regarding the origin and backers of similar extremists who flooded Iraq during the US occupation, sowing sectarian strife and killing Western troops alike.

Michel Chossudovsky: China and Russia are Acquiring Gold!

Yes, sport fans, there is now evidence that central banks in several regions of the World are building up their gold reserves. What is published are the official purchases: A large part of these Central Bank purchases of gold are not disclosed. They are undertaken through third party contracting companies, with utmost discretion. US dollar holdings and US dollar denominated debt instruments are in effect being traded in for gold, a large share of which is being purchased by their central banks: It has long been assumed that China is surreptitiously building up its gold reserves through buying local production. Russia is another major gold miner, where the Central Bank has been purchasing gold from another state entity, Gokhran, which is the marketing arm and central repository for the country's mined gold produced from its rapidly growing domestic gold mining industry. In Russia, for example, Gokhran sold some 30 tonnes of gold to the Central Bank, in an internal accounting exercise late last year. In part, so it was said at the time, the direct sale was made rather than placing the metal on the open market and perhaps adversely affecting the gold price. China is currently the world's largest gold producer, and last year it confirmed it has raised its own Central Bank gold holdings by more than 450 tonnes over the previous six years. The 450 tons figure corresponds to an increase in the gold reserves of the central bank, from 600 tons in 2003 to 1054 tons in 2009. If we go by official statements, China's gold reserves are increasing by approximately10 percent per year. China has risen to now be the largest gold producing nation in the world, at around 270 tonnes. The amount bought by the government initially looks like 90 tons per annum, or just under 2 tons a week. Before 2003, the announcement by the Chinese central bank that gold reserves had been doubled to 600 tons,accounted for similar purchases before that date. Why so small an amount you might well ask? We think local and national issues clouded the central banks view as it was the government that bought the gold since 2003, and have now placed it on the central banks Balance Sheet.        


Amy Goodman: Are We Ignoring Obama's Record?

Amy Goodman: We're joined by two guests who have worked diligently to get poverty back on the national agenda. Dr. Cornel West is with us, professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Union Theological Seminary in New York, and professor of philosophy and Christian practice at Princeton University. He's a New York Times bestselling author of numerous books, and co host of the radio show Smiley & Tavis, Smiley & West with Tavis Smiley. Together they've written the newbook,The Rich and the Rest of Us: A Poverty Manifesto. Tavis Smiley is a TV, radio broadcaster, philanthropist, New York Times bestselling author. He hosts the PBS show Tavis Smiley and two radio shows, The Tavis Smiley Show on NPR and Smiley & West, with Cornel West. So we're right here in the president's city. In fact, he just flew out of Washington after his re election. Cornel West, the figures, who is ahead? Who isn't? As your book is titled The Rich and the Rest of Us. Cornel West: Well, one, I think that it's morally obscene and spiritually profane to spend $6 billion on an election, $2 billion on a presidential election, and not have any serious discussion, poverty, trade unions being pushed against the wall, dealing with stagnating and declining wages, when profits are still up, and the 1 percent are doing very well, no talk about drones dropping bombs on innocent people. So we end up with such a narrow, truncated political discourse, as the major problems, ecological catastrophe, climate change, global warming. So it's very sad. I mean, I'm glad there was not a climate change, global warming.      

William K Black: Wall Street's Plan to Push Obama

to Betray Those Who Elected Him. The safety net is the glory of America and the unending nightmare of Wall Street. That is why Wall Street's leading "false flag" group, the Third Way, which calls itself a leading moderate think tank, has responded to the warnings that Robert Kuttner, AFL CIO President Trumka, and I have made that if President Obama is re elected, our immediate task will be to prevent the Great Betrayal, the adoption of self destructive austerity programs, and the opening wedge of the effort to unravel the safety net, including Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid: Here's what you need to know about this plan to rob Americans of their future: 1. Both Democrats and Republicans Oppose Cuts to the Safety Nets. Huge majorities of Americans oppose cuts in the safety nets: A majority of Republicans oppose such cuts, and Democrats overwhelmingly oppose the cuts. The American people love the safety net because they know it is essential to a humane America. They know that it has transformed the nation. Before Social Security, older Americans were frequently reduced to poverty and dangerously inadequate health care that made the remainder of their lives dangerous and miserable. The safety net does not cover only the elderly and the sick. My father, for example, died when I, the eldest of three children, was 19 and a sophomore at the University of Michigan. Even though in state tuition was expensive in those days, I would have had to drop out of school. Survivors' benefits allowed me to obtain a superb education and pay back the nation with service and decades of greater taxes, because education increased my income. Food Stamps and unemployment insurance frequently provide the temporary support that prevented tragedy and allows Americans to obtain useful education and jobs.   

Collin Todhunter: The Role of Anti-Establishment Conspiracy Theories

In recent years, populist explanations for world events have become common, and often take the form of anti establishment conspiracy theories. The contradiction between how people believe the world should be, according to the mainstream propaganda media pertaining to liberty and democracy, and how it is in this times of crisis leads people to search for easily digestible answers. Its easy for conspiracy theorists to play on people's fears and prejudices, and to point fingers at certain groups. In the past, it has been the Jews, the Irish, the blacks , the Poles or some other easily identifiable target that was blamed for society's ills. Resorting to selective interpretations of history or some simplistic Hollywood - esque inspired political or sci-fi narrative where giant reptiles are taking over the planet, can be quite seductive, particularly for right leaning sections of the population, who never had any truck with socialism, and probably once believed in the free market and capitalist liberal democracy, but now have trouble in fathoming out of why it has all gone wrong. Conspiracy theories of different kinds have been found on both the left and the right of the political spectrum over the decades. While the right saw reds under the bed everywhere, the left regarded every negative event as a consequence of capitalism, what sociologists call left functionalism. Much of the left, however, possesses an analysis based on a sound understanding of how capitalism works, and developed over time. David Harvey's assessment of the current crisis uses concepts of capital over accumulation, production outsourcing, wage and demand depression and credit access to explain why we are where we happen to be right now. John Foster discusses the nature of the current crisis in similar terms. The advocates of populist conspiracy theories seek to explain everything in terms of secret societies and codes, Zionism, communism or the hand of Rothschild. Of course, families like the Rothschild and Rockefellers, and groups like Bilderberg exist and do hold great power. That much is not in dispute. However, the nature of the dynamics of power is.