Thursday, November 29, 2012

China’s Food Security: Sourcing from the Seas

RSIS presents the following commentary China’s Food Security: Sourcing from the Seas by Zhang Hongzhou. It is also available online at this link. (To print it, click on this link.). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at

No. 213/2012 dated 29 November 2012
China’s Food Security:
Sourcing from the Seas
 By Zhang Hongzhou       

Facing increasing difficulties to feed its growing population, China is turning to its “blue territories” and high seas for food. While this shift in the food system contributes to China’s food security, it also has regional and global implications.
CHINA IS facing increasing difficulties to feed its growing population which is at the same time becoming more affluent. Although China has achieved nine consecutive years of increase in grain production from 2003 to 2012, its grain demand and supply gap continues to widen. In the first ten months of 2012, China’s cereal import reached 12.6 million tonnes, representing a 212% increase over the same period in 2011.

With nearly 1.4 billion people to feed, the country considers self-sufficiency the foundation of its food security strategy. However, China faces a severe shortage of land and water resources in per capita terms - 40% and 28% of world average respectively. As it is increasingly challenging for China to maintain food self-sufficiency, the country is turning towards its “blue territories” – the surrounding seas and beyond - for food.

Party Congress resolutions
At the recent 18th Party Congress Chinese leaders pledged that they would enhance China’s capacity for exploiting marine resources, safeguard its maritime rights and interests, and build itself into a maritime power. Inspired by the strong commitment from the top, Chinese officials and marine experts advocate that the country’s food system be more maritime-based.

This maritime-based food security strategy is twofold. Firstly, it aims to intensify its fishery operations in its territorial waters and Exclusive Economic Zones (EEZs); and secondly, it wishes to expand its Distant Water Fishing (DWF) reach to utilise the resources of the oceans. While this shift in China’s food system contributes to its food security, it also has regional and global implications.

While defending the red line of 120 million hectares arable land, further exploitation of the “blue territories” could significantly contribute to China’s food security. To enhance its capacity for this, the development of China’s fishing industry is key. China has by far the largest fishing industry in the world, with more than one million ships and employing over 13 million people. China’s current fishery production accounts for over 30 % of global production, with aquaculture production representing 70% of global production.

Top priority has been given to promoting aquaculture, with more policy and financial support from both central and local governments. The strengthening of China’s aquaculture sector could also have positive spillover effects on the other regional countries’ aquaculture through technological transfer and training and education cooperation.

Distant Water Fishing (DWF)

Facing severe degradation of the marine ecology and depletion of fishery resources in its inshore and offshore waters, the Chinese government has taken steps to reduce marine fishing since the late 1990s. However, with the new focus on the marine economy and driven by growing demand for high quality fishery products, China’s marine fishing sector may resume its growth trend, and the structural shift from inshore to offshore fishing could be accelerated and intensified.

Given the tensions over maritime territories in East and South East Asia, as well as competition for marine resources, China’s growing fishing operations in the region’s disputed waters could lead to rising fishing disputes, which might escalate into larger maritime conflicts.

A 2010 report was put out by a high level task force on strengthening the country’s Distant Water Fishing (DWF) sector. It argues that China cannot merely rely on its resources on land and its territorial waters and EEZs to satisfy the country’s growing demand for food. Instead, China should actively explore and utilise ocean resources, particularly marine biological resources in the high seas which are seen as the largest store of protein. Over the past two decades, China has put in great efforts to expand its fishing operations in distant waters. China’s annual production of distant water catch reached one million tonnes in 2010 and the total number of DWF vessels topped 1991 - the largest in the world.

According to China’s 12th Five Year Plan for the development of the fishing industry, one of the key targets is to further expand China’s fishery operations in distant waters. China aims to increase the size of its distant water fishing fleet from 1991 vessels in 2010 to 2300 in 2015, and the distant water fishing production from one million tonnes in 2010 to 1.3 million tonnes in 2015.

Need for inclusive strategy

While expansion of China’s DWF operations could contribute to the country’s food security, it might have undesired impacts far beyond China’s borders. Even though China claims that the development of the country’s DWF has been based on cooperation with local governments and enterprises, and China’s DWF contributes positively to local economic development, there are growing concerns that China’s DWF could exacerbate the degradation of fishery resources worldwide.

Furthermore, restricted by inadequate equipment and limited techniques, most of Chinese DWF fleets are only capable of operating in coastal waters; indeed a large number of Chinese fishing vessels are operating in coastal waters of many African countries. This might pose threats to the food security conditions of Africa, which is the world’s most food-insecure region.

As the most populous country in the world yet facing shortage of land and water resources, it is inevitable for China to source food from the seas to meet its growing food demand. However, this shift in its food procurement strategy entails vigilance and careful policymaking. It should be an inclusive strategy which takes full consideration of China’s rising demand for food, marine ecology, regional maritime security, as well as food security concerns of other countries. Only then will China’s food system serve as a positive model for the world.


Zhang Hongzhou is a Senior Analyst with the China Programme at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Is Malaysia Ready for an Islamist Prime Minister?

RSIS presents the following commentary Is Malaysia Ready for an Islamist Prime Minister? by Farish M Noor. It is also available online at this link. (To print it, click on this link.). Kindly forward any comments or feedback to the Editor RSIS Commentaries, at

No. 212/2012 dated 27 November 2012
Is Malaysia Ready for an Islamist Prime Minister?
 By Farish M Noor       

The call by PAS members for their party leader to be Prime Minister should the Pakatan Rakyat coalition win power at the next general election raises two questions: will it erode non-Malay support for the opposition coalition and will it change Malaysia’s foreign policy?
THE RECENT General Assembly of the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party PAS was notable in several aspects: There was less talk of theology or doctrine, but more focus on PAS’ upcoming campaign for the 13th general election that will be held anytime between December this year and next April. PAS, which came in third in terms of parliamentary seats won at the federal-level general election of March 2008, will be aiming to gain more parliamentary seats in the coming polls. The discussions at the just-concluded General Assembly were directed towards that goal.

That PAS would want to expand on its gains at the next general election is understandable, considering that the party – which was formed in 1951 – is the oldest opposition  party in the country. Since 2004 however PAS has joined the Pakatan Rakyat coalition that comprises itself as well as PKR and DAP and is headed by its de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, who also leads the much smaller PKR but is touted to be Prime Minister of a Pakatan government.

An Islamist as Prime Minister
An interesting feature of the General Assembly was the talk that PAS’ President Ustaz Hadi Awang ought to be foregrounded as the candidate for Prime Minister instead, should the Pakatan Rakyat coalition defeat the ruling Barisan Nasional government. This was met by strong approval by the delegates at the General Assembly, and signalled a shift in PAS’ posturing within the opposition coalition. Thus far, PAS has been willing to take the backseat in Pakatan’s campaign for power - on the assumption that Anwar Ibrahim would be the most likely candidate for Prime Minister should Pakatan win - on the grounds that he is most likely to be able to bridge the differences between the Malay-Muslim dominated PAS and the Malaysian-Chinese dominated DAP. The prospects of an Islamist as Prime Minister is something that has never been seriously contemplated until now (although a similar proposal was raised at the 2008 PAS general assembly).

Just why PAS members were keen to propose their leader as the next Prime Minister is an interesting question, coming so close to the upcoming general election. Firstly, there is the question of whether PAS’ membership of the Pakatan Rakyat coalition has cost PAS some of its votes and support from its traditional Malay-Muslim vote bank. Over the past five years the Pakatan coalition has had to address issues ranging from environmental politics to the welfare state which have not really been the focus of PAS over the past six decades.

Some PAS members feel that the party has veered off its Islamist path by its engagement with other issues. This was reflected in the criticism of the party’s newspaper Harakah by the party’s Youth Wing who argued that Harakah ought to serve the interests of the party first and foremost.

Electoral arithmetic

Secondly there is the question of simple arithmetic: If PAS was and remains the biggest party in the PAS-PKR-DAP coalition, then why should the leader of an opposition-led government come from one of the smaller parties? PAS members may feel that as the oldest and biggest party in the coalition they would have the right to lead the Pakatan and any government formed in its name. However this is contingent upon PAS winning its share of 40 parliamentary seats in the election.

Some PAS leaders confided that while the party members may be enthusiastic about having an Islamist Prime Minister, the country is not ready for it. This view is supported by UMNO leaders like Saifuddin Abdullah, who noted that “PAS has so far campaigned on things like the welfare state, and the DAP keeps saying that Anwar is their choice for Prime Minister. To have a PAS leader as PM is another matter.”

Talk of PAS members trying to push for an Islamist Prime Minister has so far been divisive. The opposition coalition has tried to maintain its cohesion by campaigning on broad-based issues such as a minimum wage programme and the welfare state, but many suspect that the non-Malay support for the opposition will erode if there is a real prospect of the country coming under the leadership of an Islamist leader instead. Within PAS itself there is probably disquiet over the loss of Malay-Muslim support, for which more Chinese support isn’t quite the solution.

Beyond the shores of Malaysia, the country’s neighbouring governments who have never had to deal with the prospect of a Malaysia under the leadership of Islamists, may be prompted to ask whether Malaysia’s foreign policy or defence policy will change as a result. In the 2000s PAS leaders were known more for their fiery anti-Western rhetoric and their protests against American intervention in Afghanistan and Iraq.

A decade on, the party seems to be closer to realising its domestic political goal, which may have implications for Malaysia’s regional standing and bilateral ties with other states. Much therefore depends on whether PAS manages to improve its parliamentary representation at the next general election, and whether it ends up being the party with the most parliamentary seats in the opposition coalition.


Dr. Farish A Noor is Senior Fellow at the Contemporary Islam Programme, S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies (RSIS), Nanyang Technological University.

OECD 2013 Global Economic Outlook: Think Tank Slashes Forecast On Eurozone Economies, Fiscal Cliff

 OECD 2013 Global Economic Outlook: Think Tank Slashes Forecast On Eurozone Economies, Fiscal Cliff

Reuters  |  Posted: 11/27/2012 5:00 am EST Updated: 11/27/2012 8:50 am EST
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Oecd 2013 Global Economic Outlook

* OECD sees 2013 global growth of 2.9 pct, down from 3.4 pct

* Euro zone seen facing two years of economic contraction

* OECD urges central banks to prepare more easing if needed

By Leigh Thomas

PARIS, Nov 27 (Reuters) - The OECD slashed its global growth forecasts on Tuesday, warning that the debt crisis in the recession-hit euro zone is the greatest threat to the world economy.

In light of the dire economic outlook, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development urged central banks to prepare for more exceptional monetary easing if politicians fail to come up with credible answers to the debt crisis.

The Paris-based think-tank forecast in its twice-yearly Economic Outlook that the global economy would grow 2.9 percent this year before expanding 3.4 percent in 2013. The estimate marked a sharp downgrade since the OECD last estimated a rate in May of 3.4 percent for this year and 4.2 percent in 2013.

The euro zone is facing two years of economic contraction, while the United States risks a recession if lawmakers there fail to agree a deal to avoid a combination of tax hikes and budget cuts that will otherwise go into effect next year.

Providing the deadlock in Washington is overcome, the world's biggest economy will grow 2.0 percent next year, the OECD estimated, cutting its forecast from 2.6 percent in May.

"The U.S. fiscal cliff is a very important source of concern, but the greatest downside risk remains the euro zone," OECD chief economist Pier Carlo Padoan told Reuters in an interview.

"The reason for that is not only recession, but also the fact that different negative policy (feedback) loops between sovereign debt, the banking situation and exit risks remain. So the overall zone remains in a state of fragility."

Cutting its estimates, the OECD forecast that the euro zone economy would contract 0.4 percent this year and another 0.1 percent next year, only returning to growth in 2014 with a rate of 1.3 percent.

The OECD warned that diverging financing conditions within the European monetary union threaten to pull it apart if policymakers fail to get a grip on the debt crisis.

"The euro area, which is witnessing significant fragmentation pressures, could be in danger," Padoan wrote in a foreword to the outlook, urging politicians to overcome deadlock over a single European Central Bank-led bank supervisor.

Given the weakness of the global economic outlook, the OECD warned governments against being too zealous in their belt-tightening efforts and recommended that Germany and China even pursue temporary stimulus spending to revive growth.


With many major economies in the mire, Padoan said it would be premature for central banks to take any exceptional monetary easing measures off the table at this point.

"They should be prepared to do more in the immediate term if things were to deteriorate," Padoan told Reuters.

He singled out the European Central Bank as the prime candidate for further action, saying it had room to cut its main interest rate by 25 basis points from its current record low of 0.75 percent.

The ECB should also consider setting a negative deposit rate and send a strong signal to markets on its long-term interest rate intentions, the OECD said.

The German central bank has been a vocal opponent of the ECB taking further exceptional actions to get the debt crisis under control, in part because of concerns that additional liquidity could boost inflation.

"We think fears that excessive liquidity could fuel inflation in the short term are misplaced," Padoan said.

Not only are all measures of inflation expectations currently subdued, he added, but there is also a risk that economists are underestimating the slack in major economies and therefore overestimating inflationary pressures.

The OECD said the U.S. Federal Reserve's monetary easing programme was appropriate, although it called on the U.S. central bank to do more if the economic situation worsens.

In particular, the OECD said further purchases of government bonds and asset-backed securities would be warranted while the Fed might also need to consider buying other types of assets.

The OECD urged the Bank of Japan not only to maintain its zero-interest rate policy until inflation emerges convincingly, but also to step up the pace of its asset purchases.

The OECD said the Bank of England's interest rates were appropriate for the British economic outlook and said China had scope to ease monetary conditions.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Canadian to Lead Bank of England

November 26, 2012
Canadian to Lead Bank of England

LONDON — In a surprising departure from convention, the British government on Monday selected Mark Carney, the head of the Canadian central bank, to succeed Mervyn King as the next governor of the Bank of England.

The appointment ended a months-long process in which some of Britain’s most prominent public officials vied hungrily for a post that will come with sharply enhanced powers.

The odds were heavily stacked in favor of the Bank of England’s deputy governor, Paul Tucker. The decision to select a foreigner to lead Britain’s most storied financial institution came as a shock when George Osborne, the chancellor of the Exchequer, broke the news during a session of Parliament on Monday.

The appointment is arguably the most significant in the bank’s 318-year history in that Mr. Carney will not only be the first foreigner to lead the bank, but he will also take responsibility for the health of the British financial system. In addition, the central bank will directly regulate and oversee the country’s banks and other financial institutions.

The pressures facing the new governor are immense. Not only must he make decisions as to whether to continue the aggressive money-printing program aimed at stimulating the economy, he must also ensure that the central bank’s independence and reputation are not sullied by an ongoing investigation into the manipulation of key interest rates by commercial banks.

Indeed, the decision to pick Mr. Carney seems to have been heavily influenced by the taint of the interest-rate scandal that, although diminished, remains attached to Mr. Tucker.

Early in the scandal, e-mail exchanges between Mr. Tucker and Robert E. Diamond, then chief executive of Barclays, emerged which suggested Mr. Tucker may have supported the idea of keeping rates artificially low.

Mr. Carney, a former Goldman Sachs executive, is widely admired for the steady job he has done in preserving financial stability in Canada in the face of pressures that have shaken other countries.

“This is a new job,” said Simon Hayes, an economist at Barclays. “Previously, the focus was mainly on monetary policy. Now, it is about financial stability, monetary policy and macro-prudential policy. The key is to get the right mix of policy and making sure there is proper coordination with the Treasury.”

The bank’s new heft represents a stark shift from the era of light-touch regulation that held sway before the crisis, in which the bank’s ability to intervene and take action to issue warnings of financial excess were constrained.

Mr. King, who will stay as central bank governor until this summer, has emerged as Britain’s most vociferous critic of irresponsible bank behavior. But he has also been criticized for acting too slowly in 2007 to bail out Northern Rock, the mortgage lender whose collapse that year marked the onset of Britain’s financial crisis.

The central bank’s broader regulatory powers will be wielded by a newly formed Financial Policy Committee, operating inside the bank and presided over by the governor. With its new muscle, it is hoped that the bank will be able to sniff out early-warning signals like excessive risk taking and borrowing by the banks and move to take action to defuse a crisis — something it was not able to do in 2007.

Reflecting the importance of the position, Mr. Osborne cast a wide net in searching for a successor and took the unusual step of considering candidates from outside Britain. The names of prominent investment bankers also surfaced as potential central bank chiefs, underlining the hunger for outside-the-box thinking with regard to the appointment.

Although Mr. Carney’s name emerged months ago as a potential successor to Mr. King, the Canadian quickly and publicly removed his name from consideration. But Mr. Osborne, who, as Prime Minister David Cameron’s top political adviser, has a fondness for grand gestures.

Mr. Carney is head of the Financial Stability Board, a newly formed international body that oversees the health of the global financial system. That, along with his experience in the private sector, made him a compelling candidate — assuming that is he could be persuaded to take the job.

At Goldman, where he worked for 13 years, Mr. Carney’s areas of responsibility included sovereign debt and emerging markets debt. The former is a particular asset, given the continuing crisis in the euro zone.

“He’s highly regarded here and known for his strong but calm hand throughout the financial crisis,” said Issa Mazen, a strategist at TD Securities in Toronto. “Carney was decisive and responded firmly, understanding the scope and magnitude of the crisis. He’s also a leading advocate on good communication and transparency.”

For Mr. Tucker and Adair Turner, the current chairman of the Financial Services Authority, Britain’s main regulator, the decision comes as a blow.

Mr. Tucker, who until the interest-rate scandal had been seen to be a shoo-in to succeed Mr. King, has been at the central bank for close to 20 years and is widely recognized for his knowledge of the markets. But with the ongoing investigation into banks’ manipulation of the London interbank offered rate, or Libor, the risks were high that Mr. Tucker might be caught up in the scandal once again.

Mr. Turner, a trained economist with a flair for eye-speeches and a healthy ego to boot, was seen as the more politically savvy candidate. But the F.S.A. has been criticized for missing the onset of the crisis on his watch.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Gerald Celente - "The Beginning Of WWIII"

Gerald Celente - "The Beginning Of WWIII" - (11/19/12)

Al Cuppett - I AM vs The New World Order (High_Quality)

Economic IQ Test: If the national debt doesn't matter, then why are we still paying federal income taxes?


Economic IQ Test: If the national debt doesn't matter, then why are we still paying federal income taxes?

Friday, November 23, 2012
by Mike Adams, the Health Ranger
Editor of (See all articles...)

(NaturalNews)--The U.S. federal government is over $16.2 trillion in debt. But that doesn't really matter, we're told, because the Federal Reserve -- a private [Rothschild-owned] banking monopoly -- can create an unlimited quantity of dollars to keep buying up the U.S. debt. This is called "QE unlimited," meaning unlimited quantitative easing (money creation).

On top of that, U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner recently suggested we simply eliminate the debt ceiling altogether and launch America into INFINITE debt.

This program of fiscal suicide is already under way. The Federal Reserve announced a few weeks ago that it would begin buying up to $80 billion a month in U.S. debt, continuing indefinitely.

At the same time all this is going on, the government insists it needs to confiscate an ever-expanding portion of your income in order to increase "government revenue." Current federal tax "revenues" (which is a warped word to use for taxes in the first place) are at roughly $2.4 trillion a year.

But hold on just a second... and here's the IQ test, are you ready?

If the private Federal Reserve can just create trillions of dollars a year in new money [“out of thin air”] and hand it over to the federal government [with added USURY, of course!], then why are tax revenues needed at all?

Answer: They aren't.

If debt doesn't matter, then taxes aren't needed at all

Under the current system of unlimited spending, unlimited money creation and unlimited debt that "doesn't matter" according to the bureaucrats in Washington, there is absolutely no reason why any so-called "revenue" needs to be collected from the working class population whatsoever. "Revenue" only matters if debt matters, and we've been told by everybody in Washington (except Ron Paul) that debt doesn't matter.
Had Your Chance

Logically, then, we need no income tax at all. The President could simply announce the elimination of all federal taxes and the closure of the IRS, then have the Fed print up the money it needs. No more income taxes... ever! Imagine the savings in paperwork reduction alone...

This instant creation of money by the feds is not only possible, it has already been done. Remember the "too big to fail" bankster bailouts that began in 2008? Bailout totals have exceeded $2 trillion. Do you know where that money came from? The Fed created it out of thin air. They can do this any time they wish, of course. It takes about sixty seconds and a single computer entry at the Fed, matched by an inverse entry at the U.S. Treasury. In mere seconds, whammo! Another couple of trillion dollars (and debt) is magically created.


The real purpose of the income tax? To oppress the economic mobility of the little people

If the income tax is not mathematically needed to provide revenue to the federal government, what is its real purpose?
[MM: Unfortunately, Mike Adams fails (below) to mention the FUNDAMENTAL REASON for federal income taxes: To pay the annual interest (USURY) on the “national debt” directly to the covert owners of the private “Federal Reserve” based in “The City” (London)...The Satanic international banking “House of N.M. Rothschild”. This is undisputed FACT...research it yourself! Not coincidental that the Income Tax Amendment (16th) emerged the same year (1913) as the Federal Reserve Act. Ron Paul has been pleading for more than 30 years that to END THE FED will also END the federal income tax. As long as the uninformed masses continue to accept the erroneous belief that our country’s MOST CRITICAL PROBLEM is a party-politics issue NOTHING WILL CHANGE“...But if you want to continue to be the slaves of bankers and pay the cost of your own [DEBT] slavery, then let [PRIVATE] bankers continue to create money and control credit."--Sir Josiah Stamp, president of the Rothschild Bank of England and the second richest man in Britain in the 1920s, speaking at the University of Texas in 1927.]
As anyone who has deeply studied the social impact of the tax code well knows, the true purpose of the tax code is social engineering. And more specifically, to oppress wage earners and small business owners for the purpose of making sure they can never save enough money to stop working.

The United States of America is, after all, a "tax farm," meaning the productivity of the working people is harvested by the government to be used for whatever nefarious schemes the corrupt bureaucrats have in mind: Endless wars, creating economic dependence through welfare, giving money to their crony insider crooks, and so on.

Besides, the last thing the elitists want is competition from upwardly mobile citizens who mistakenly think they can rise above their economic class and compete with the global elite. "The power to tax is the power to destroy," Daniel Webster famously said in an 1819 U.S. Supreme Court case. Chief Justice Marshall agreed: "That the power to tax involves the power to destroy... [is] not to be denied."

And that's the point of the income tax: To destroy the ambitions of the working class and keep them enslaved in a system of economic servitude that is mathematically designed to ensure permanent subjugation to the system. [More commonly referred to as “DEBT-SLAVERY”.]

It has absolutely nothing whatsoever to do with creating "revenue" or raising money to build roads and schools. That is a total delusion played off by both Republicans and Democrats to prevent people from realizing the far more powerful truth that federal income taxes aren't necessary at all.
So the next time you hear someone say we need to pay more taxes to "raise revenue" for the federal government, you can confidently laugh in their face at the absurdity of the statement. The federal government can create all the revenue it wishes through an instant computer entry. The point of the income tax is to make sure you never escape the Matrix of economic [DEBT] enslavement.—END
Jefferson Warning
Madison Rothschilds
JFK Hero
Mortally Wounded
Austerity Explained

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Puppet State America

Puppet State America
By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Global Research, November 19, 2012
Region: USA
In-depth Report: PALESTINE
The United States government and its subject peoples think of the US as “the world’s only superpower.”  But how is a country a superpower when its entire government and a majority of the subjects, especially those members of evangelical churches, grovel at the feet of the Israeli Prime Minister? How is a country a superpower when it lacks the power to determine its own foreign policy in the Middle East?  Such a country is not a superpower.  It is a puppet state.
In the past few days we have witnessed, yet again, the “American superpower” groveling at Netanyahu’s feet. When Netanyahu decided to again murder the Palestinian women and children of Gaza, to further destroy what remains of the social infrastructure of the Gaza Ghetto, and to declare Israeli war crimes and Israeli crimes against humanity to be merely the exercise of “self-defense,” the US Senate, the US House of Representatives, the White House, and the US media all promptly declared their support for Netanyahu’s crimes.
On November 16 the Congress of the “superpower,” both House and Senate, passed overwhelmingly the resolutions written for them by AIPAC, the Israel Lobby known as the American Israel Public Affairs Committee, the only foreign agent that is not required to register as a foreign agent.  The Global News Service of the Jewish People reported their power over Washington with pride.  Both Democrats and Republicans shared the dishonor of serving Israel and evil instead of America and justice for the Palestinians.
The White House quickly obeyed the summons from the Israel Lobby. President Obama announced that he is “fully supportive” of Israel’s assault on Gaza. Ben Rhodes, White House deputy national security adviser, told the media on November 17 that the White House “wants the same thing as the Israelis want.”  This is an overstatement as many Israelis oppose the crimes of the Israeli government, which is not the government of Israel but the government of the “settlers,” that is, the crazed land-hungry immigrants who are illegally, with Netanyahu’s support, stealing the lands of the Palestinians.
Netanyahu’s Israel is the equivalent of the Lincoln Republicans 150 years ago. Then  there was no international law to protect Southern states, who left the voluntary union, a right under the Constitution, in order to avoid being exploited by Northern business interests. Subsequently, the Union army, after devastating the South, turned on the American Indians, and there was no international law to protect American Indians from being murdered and dispossessed by Washington’s armies.
Washington claimed that its invasion forces were threatened by the Indian’s bows and arrows. Today there is international law to protect the Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza. However, every time that the world tries to hold the Israeli government accountable for its crimes, Israel’s Washington puppet vetoes the UN decision.
The notion that Israel is threatened by Palestinians is as absurd as the notion that the US is threatened by Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Yemen, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, and Iran. No government of any of these countries has ever made a threatening statement against the US. Even had such a statement been made, it would be meaningless. If a Superpower can be threatened by such impotent and distant counties, then it is not a superpower.
Demonizing a victim is a way of hiding state crimes. The American print and TV media  is useless as a check on state crimes. The only crimes reported by the media are assigned to “terrorists,” that is, those who resist US hegemony, and to Americans, such as Bradley Manning and Sibel Edmonds, who liberate truth from official secrecy. Julian Assange of WikiLeaks remains in danger despite the asylum granted to him by the President of Ecuador, as Washington has little regard for international law.
In the US the exercise of the First Amendment is coming to be regarded as a crime against the state. The purpose of the media is no longer to find the truth, but to protect official lies.  Speaking the truth has essentially disappeared as it is too costly to journalist who dare to do so. To keep one’s job, one serves Washington and the private interest groups that Washington serves.
In his November 19 defense of Israel’s latest war crimes, President Obama said: “no country on earth would tolerate missiles raining down from outside its borders.”  But, of course, numerous countries do tolerate missiles raining down from the US. The war criminal Obama is raining down missiles in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen, and  has rained missiles on Libya, Somalia, Iraq and Syria as well. Iran might be next.
The German assault on the Warsaw Ghetto is one of the horror stories of Jewish history. Such an event is happening again, only this time Jews are perpetrators instead of victims. No hand has been raised to stay Israel from the goal of the operation declared by Israeli Interior Minister Eli Yishai to be “to send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.”

Cease-Fire Announced in Israel-Gaza Conflict


Cease-Fire Announced in Israel-Gaza Conflict

November 21, 2012 | 1755 GMT

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas during a Nov. 21 news conference in Cairo. The cease-fire is expected to begin at 9 p.m. local time. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu reportedly told U.S. President Barack Obama that he is willing to give the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire a chance.

This cessation of violence is likely highly tenuous. Israel will only agree to a truce if it has guarantees from Egypt -- overseen by the United States -- that the Palestinian arsenal of Fajr-5 long-range rockets will be neutralized and that measures will be taken to prevent future weapons transfers to Gaza. It remains to be seen what details surface on this core Israeli demand, especially given its incompatability with Hamas' demand for the blockade on Gaza to be lifted.
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There is also the outstanding issue of Iran, which Israel has pointed to as the center of gravity in the conflict. The Fajr-5 rockets are Iranian-made, and Iran facilitated the movement of those weapons into Gaza. Iran may have an interest in prolonging the conflict and could try to use militant levers in Gaza to derail the truce. Israel must also contend with the broader dilemma of future Iranian attempts to smuggle advanced weaponry into Gaza. This is where Egyptian cooperation with Israel on border security becomes crucial.

If the cease-fire holds, Hamas is within reach of a major symbolic victory. It will have avoided devastation of the group in Gaza and can claim a capability to strike the Israeli heartland.

We must watch now if Hamas honors the cease-fire and if the organization will have the authority to enforce the cease-fire among other groups, namely the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Until Israel has a guarantee on the Fajr-5s and a cessation of rocket fire, it is unlikely to forgo the option of a military ground operation.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

A Potential Cease-Fire and the New Regional Dynamic


A Potential Cease-Fire and the New Regional Dynamic

November 20, 2012 | 1603 GMT

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The proliferation of players in the current Israeli-Hamas cease-fire negotiations highlight the major shift in the regional strategic environment since the fall of former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, calling into question the sustainability of any potential truce.


U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton will be in Israel overnight Nov. 20 and rumors are rapidly spreading of an imminent cease-fire agreement. Egyptian President Mohammed Morsi has also confidently claimed Nov. 20 that "the war will end today," but statements out of Israel have been far more reserved. The Times of Israel, citing Egyptian intelligence officials, reported that Israel has rejected the cease-fire draft and that there will no news conference announcing a cease-fire tonight.

The core dilemma remains: If Hamas or any other Palestinian entity can threaten Israel's major population centers with long-range Fajr-5 rockets, what guarantees can Egypt or another third party make to neutralize that supply and prevent further shipments? The fact that another Fajr-5 rocket was fired at Jerusalem on Nov. 20 while thousands of Israeli troops remain forward-deployed in preparation for a ground invasion adds urgency to this question.

Stratfor has learned that the Egyptian cease-fire proposal that Clinton will be studying with the Israelis entails an agreement by the major Palestinian factions to cease rocket attacks against Israel. In return, Egypt would send monitors to Gaza to enforce the cease-fire -- though no details were provided on whether Egypt would secure or remove the remaining rockets from Gaza and what Egypt would do to prevent replenishments from entering Gaza if the border is reopened. Israel would discontinue its policy of targeted killings and, at a later stage, would allow the opening of the Rafah crossing on a regular basis. Rumors continue to percolate on the terms of the cease-fire proposal, and the above claims could not be verified, but these terms do fit with the likely parameters of the negotiation.
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The problem is that Israel does not trust the Muslim Brotherhood-led government to enforce the cease-fire agreement. As a result, the United States is taking a more active role in the negotiation. Egyptian diplomatic sources are claiming that the Palestinian Fajr-5 rocket arsenal is dwindling, but will the United States play a role in verifying the Egyptian figures and removing the rockets from Gaza? What role, if any, will the United States play in monitoring the Sinai-Gaza border for future weapons shipments? That much remains unclear. The role of Egyptian intelligence and military figures from the Mubarak era is critical in these negotiations. Though the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood has been in the diplomatic spotlight, there are indications that Egyptian intelligence chief Mohamed Raafat Shehata has been heavily involved in the negotiations with Hamas, Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel behind the scenes. Shehata is reportedly delivering a news conference this evening, at which point a truce may be announced.

There is also another layer of complexity to factor in. Hamas is not the sole representative of the Palestinians in Cairo. Egyptian mediators have been negotiating with Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad. The latter, which has much closer links to Iran (which likely has an interest in prolonging the conflict), has claimed responsibility for firing several Fajr-5 rockets and is allegedly part of a joint military command with Hamas that is controlling the long-range rocket attacks.

Stratfor sources in Egypt, Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have separately claimed that Palestinian Islamic Jihad is in control of at least some of the Iranian-made Fajr-5 rockets and launchers. If this is true, and Palestinian Islamic Jihad is not simply serving as a convenient front for Hamas, then Hamas' commitment to a cease-fire must involve Palestinian Islamic Jihad. To this end, Palestinian Islamic Jihad chief Ramadan Abdullah Mohammed Shallah has been in Cairo for negotiations over a cease-fire and has been dealing with both Hamas and Egypt. An Egyptian source claims that Morsi has held frequent meetings with Shallah in trying to obtain guarantees on a cessation of rocket attacks. For now, it appears those talks are bearing fruit and Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad are on the same page in moving toward a cease-fire. The questions now are whether Israel feels a ground operation is still necessary and whether it has exhausted the diplomatic negotiations to move ahead.
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Gone are the days when Egyptian intelligence could mediate a truce between Israel and Hamas alone. The shifting dynamics over the past year -- from the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt to Hamas' decision to publicly distance itself from Iran and position itself in the Muslim Brotherhood orbit while receiving Iranian weapons transfers, to Iran's attempts to maintain leverage in the Levant through groups such as the Palestinian Islamic Jihad -- seem to be greatly complicating an already trying negotiation effort.

Monday, November 19, 2012

The Gaza Conflict Reverberates in the West Bank and Jordan


The Gaza Conflict Reverberates in the West Bank and Jordan

November 19, 2012 | 1818 GMT


A Palestinian who was wounded Nov. 17 during protests in the West Bank against Israel's ongoing operations in the Gaza Strip has died from his injuries, the Palestinian Ma'an news agency reported Nov. 19. The West Bank has been calm in recent years, but significant protests have been taking place across the eastern Palestinian territory -- which is ruled by Hamas' secular rival, Fatah -- in response to Israel's Operation Pillar of Defense. The protester's death could widen that unrest.

These developments have implications in Jordan, where the regime of King Abdullah II is also struggling with political unrest. The duration of the Israeli-Gaza conflict will determine the extent of the brewing unrest in the West Bank and the toll it has on Jordan.


Map - Jordan The ongoing conflict between Hamas and Israel has generated a significant amount of sympathy for Hamas in the West Bank. In some parts of the territory, anti-Israeli youth protesters have thrown stones and Molotov cocktails at Israeli security forces patrols. The protests, while at a low level for now, complicate matters for the administration of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

While the Arab Spring created conditions that increased the power of Hamas, it also added to the woes of Fatah, which has been deteriorating for some time. The group suffers from an aging leadership, internal splits, corruption charges amid poor economic conditions in the West Bank and a failure to make progress toward Palestinian statehood in negotiations. Thus, it is no surprise that Fatah, despite its deep animosity toward Hamas, has come out in support of its rival and in solidarity against Israel. Fatah likely chose not to interfere with the West Bank protests to avoid aggravating matters, but it cannot allow the protests to spiral out of control.

Fatah is hoping that Hamas and Israel reach a truce as soon as possible. Indeed, the West Bank group is likely using its channels with the United States and Israel toward this end. Clearly, Fatah does not want protests in the West Bank to go from supporting Hamas and Gaza to turning against mismanagement in the West Bank. At the same time, this could be a reason why Hamas, which seeks a resurgence in the West Bank, would want to prolong the conflict somewhat.

The stirring of turmoil in the West Bank is very worrisome for Jordan, which neighbors the Palestinian territory and is home to a large population of Palestinian heritage that harbors anti-Israeli sentiments. The ruling Hashemites do not want to see the Gaza issue spill over Jordan's borders and accentuate their own problems.

Jordan's Problems

The effects of the Arab Spring have not really manifested themselves in Jordan, but the kingdom has not been stable either. Since the outbreak of the regional unrest in early 2011, King Abdullah II has replaced three prime ministers in response to low-level but steady protests. The dilemma that the Hashemites face is that unrest has spread into the ranks of the tribal forces (aka East Bankers), who until recently have served as the bedrock of the monarchy's stability. At the same time, in urban areas, the country's largest political movement, the Muslim Brotherhood, has departed from its traditional role as the loyal opposition and begun demanding that the palace share power with parliament.

Meanwhile, the economic situation in the country has deteriorated to the extent that the government was forced to cut fuel subsidies earlier this month. The public backlash to the rising energy costs has intensified the protests. In the early months of the Arab Spring, there were isolated cases of tribal youths chanting slogans against the Jordanian king and queen. Such instances of public criticism -- some even calling for the king to step down -- appear to be growing.
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Still, neither the rural-based tribal principals nor the urban-centered Brotherhood appear to be interested in trying to topple the monarchy. Indeed, both have made it clear that they do not wish to see unrest turn into anarchy. But the problem is that neither institution seems to have a monopoly over the protests; youth groups and other non-brand entities are driving some of the agitation.

The Brotherhood, which has long called for the kingdom to cut ties with Israel, has once again raised this demand. Such calls have not gained traction in the past. But in the post-Arab Spring atmosphere -- and now with the conflict in Gaza -- the demand could become a tool for the Brotherhood to extract even greater concessions from the palace. Already, the king has been on the defensive, asking the Brotherhood to end its boycott of the political system and participate in upcoming parliamentary polls. Moreover, after restoring ties with Hamas earlier this year, the king has sought the mediation of Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal toward this end.

It is too early to tell what domestic political gains the Brotherhood could obtain by leveraging the fighting in Gaza. But the king's persistently defensive approach could lead to apprehension within his camp about whether he has what it takes to steer the country out of its downward spiral. Any fissures within the ranks of the Hashemite state will lead only to greater instability. Over the longer term, instability in Jordan breeds the same in the West Bank, where the ruling Palestinian National Authority has been unable to resolve its own political problems.

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The mandate of hell: How not to change the world

The mandate of hell: How not to change the world

Superstorm Sandy revealed just how "unprepared" the US infrastructure is for "predicted climate change events".
Last Modified: 16 Nov 2012 08:01
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The extremity of Sandy was stunning enough that global warming was suddenly forced out of the closet [Reuters]
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 $6bn election, they couldn't be more familiar. Only days later, you can watch a remarkably recognisable cast of characters from the re-elected 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 Binyamin 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.
A hell of our own making
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 Barack 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 its 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.

 US braces for Sandy 'super storm'
If true, that does sound like a mandate for something, sooner or later - assuming you happen to have years of demographic patience. In the meantime, there will be a lot more talk about how the Republicans need to reorient their party and about a possible "civil war" over its future.
And while we're at it, bet on one thing: we're also going to hear a tonne more talk about how much deeply unhappy Americans - the very ones who just reinstalled a government that's a senatorial blink away from the previous version of the same - really, really want everyone to make nice and work together.
But isn't it time to cut the BS, turn off those talking heads and ask ourselves: What does election 2012 really mean for us and for this country?
Let's start with one basic reality: we've just experienced a do-nothing election that represents a mandate from a special American kind of hell. (Admittedly, Mitt Romney's election, which would have put the House of Representatives and Big Energy in the Oval Office, undoubtedly represented a more venal circle of that fiery establishment.)
That, in turn, ensures two different but related outcomes, both little discussed during the campaign: continuing gridlock on almost any issue that truly matters at home and a continuing damn-the-Hellfire-missiles, full-speed-ahead permanent state of war abroad (along with yet more militarisation of the "homeland").
The only winners - and don't believe the outcries you're hearing about sequestration "doom" for the military - are likely to be the national security complex, the Pentagon and in a country where income inequality has long been on the rise, the wealthy. Yes, in the particular circle of hell to which we're consigned, it's likely to remain springtime for billionaires and giant weapons manufacturers from 2012 to 2016.
How do we know that gridlock and a permanent state of war are the only two paths open to the people's representatives, that Washington is quite so constrained? Because we've just voted in a near-rerun of the years 2009-2012, which means that the power to make domestic policy (except at the edges) will continue to slowly seep out of the White House, while the power of the president and the national security state to further abridge evaporating liberties at home and make war abroad will only be enhanced.
The result is likely to be stasis for the globe's last superpower at a moment when much of the world - and the planet itself - is in the process of tumultuous transformation.
Here are things not to expect: a major move to rebuild the country's tattered infrastructure; the genuine downsizing of the American global military mission; any significant attempt to come to grips with a changing planet and global warming; and the mobilisation of a younger generation that, as Hurricane Sandy showed, is ready to give much and do much to help others in need, but in the next four years will never be called to the colours.
In other words, this country is stuck in a hell of its own making that passes for everyday life at a moment when the world, for better and/or worse, is coming unstuck in all sorts of ways.
Fiddling while the planet burns
The United States remains a big, powerful, wealthy country that is slowly hollowing out, breaking down. Meanwhile, on planet Earth, the global economy is up for grabs. Another meltdown is possible, as the European, Chinese, Japanese and Indian economies all continue to take hits.
Power relations have been changing rapidly, from the rise of Brazil in what was once Washington's "backyard" to the Chinese miracle (and the military muscle that goes with it). A largely American system that long helped keep the Greater Middle East, the energy heartlands of the globe, under grim, autocratic control is unraveling with unknown consequences.
Above all, from increasingly iceless Arctic waters to ever more extreme weather, rising sea levels and the acidification of the oceans, this planet is undergoing a remarkably rapid transformation based largely on the release into the atmosphere of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels.
Other than a few curious Republican comparisons of an American economy under the Democrats to "Greece", a near obsessive focus on the death of Ambassador J Christopher Stephens and three other Americans in Libya, and various denunciations of China as a currency manipulator, not a single one of these matters came up in any meaningful way in the election campaign.

 Counting the Cost - The cost of climate change
In other words, election 2012 boiled down to little more than a massive case of Washington-style denial. And don't for a second think that that's just an artefact of election year artifice.
Take climate change, which like the Arab Spring blasted its way into our unprepared midst in 2011-2012. There was the wildfire season of all seasons in a parching Southwest and West, a devastating drought that still hasn't fully lifted in the Midwestern breadbasket (or corncob) of the country, and a seemingly endless summer that may make this the hottest year on record for the continental United States.
It was staggering and, if opinion polls are to be believed, noted by increasing numbers of concerned Americans who could literally feel the world changing around them.
And yet none of this made global warming an election issue. Month after month, it was The Great Unmentionable. The silence of emboldened Republicans plugging their drill-baby-drill and lay-those-pipelines policies and of cowed Democrats who convinced themselves that the issue was a no-win zone for the president proved deafening - until the campaign's last days.
It was then, of course, that Hurricane Sandy, the "Frankenstorm", swept through my town and devastated New Jersey. It provided the extreme weather coup de grace of 2012. (And yes, there's little doubt that climate-change-induced rising sea levels contributed to its fury.) Superstorm Sandy also revealed just how unprepared the US infrastructure is for predicted climate-change events.
The extremity of Sandy and its 14-foot storm surge was stunning enough that global warming was suddenly forced out of the closet. It made magazine covers and gubernatorial press conferences.
There was even a last-minute Romney vs Sandy web ad ("Tell Mitt Romney: Climate Change Isn't a Joke"), and in his victory statement on election night, President Obama did manage to briefly acknowledge the changed post-Sandy moment, saying, "We want our children to live in an America that isn't... threatened by the destructive power of a warming planet".
Still, in just about every sense that matters in Washington, real planning for climate change is likely to remain off that table on which all "options" always sit. Expect the president to offer Shell further support for drilling in Arctic waters, expect a new push for the Keystone XL pipeline which will transport some of the "dirtiest" energy from Canada to the Gulf of Mexico, and so on.
Don't count on anyone doing the obvious: launching the sort of Apollo-style R&D programme that once got us to the moon and might speed the US and the planet toward an alternative energy economy, or investing real money in the sort of mitigation projects for the new weather paradigm that might prevent a coastal city like New York - or even Washington - from turning into an uninhabitable disaster zone in some not so distant future.
Climate science is certainly complex and filled with unknowns. As it happens, many of those unknowns increasingly seem focused on two questions: How extreme and how quickly? It's suggested that sea levels are already rising faster than predicted and some recent scientific studies indicate that, by century's end, the planet's average temperature could rise by up to eight degreesFahrenheit, an almost unimaginable disaster for humanity.
In-depth coverage of the COP17 in Durban, South Africa
Whatever the unknowns, certain things are obvious enough. Here, for instance, is a simple reality: any set of attempts, already ongoing, to make North America the "Saudi Arabia" of the 21st century in energy production are guaranteed to be a climate-change disaster. Unfortunately, this election ensures once again that, no matter what the planetary realities or the actual needs of this country, no significant money will flow into alteration or mitigation projects.
Among the truly bizarre aspects of this situation, one stands out: thanks in part to a long-term climate-change-denial campaign, well-funded by the giant energy companies, the subject has become "political". The idea that it is a liberal or left-wing "issue", rather than a global reality that must be dealt with, is now deeply embedded. And yet there may never have been a more basic conservative issue (at least in the older sense of the term): the preserving, above all else, of what is already most valuable in our lives. And what qualifies more for that than the health of the planet on which humanity "grew up"?
The phrase "fiddling while Rome burns" seems to catch something of the essence of this post-election moment - and it has special meaning when the fiddlers turn out to be slipping matches to the arsonists.
Mobilise yourself
Just a week after the election, the Republican Party is already gearing up to produce a new, better-looking, more "diverse", better-marketed version of itself for the 2014 and 2016 Hispanic and Asian American "markets". The Democratic Party is no doubt following suit.
In American politics these days, presidential elections last at least four years. The first poll for Iowa 2016 is already out. (Hillary's way ahead). Elections are the big business, sometimes just about the only significant political business Washington focuses on with any success, aided and abetted by the media. So look forward to the $7bn or $8bn or $9bn elections to come and the ever-greater hoopla surrounding them.
But stop waiting for change, "big" or otherwise, to come from Washington. It won't. Don't misunderstand me: as the residents of the Midwestern drought zone and the Jersey shore now know all too well, change is coming, like it or not.
If, however, you want this country to be something other than its instigator and its victim, if you want the US to engage a world of danger (and also of opportunity), you'd better call yourself and your friends and neighbours to the colours. Don't wait for a Washington focused on its own well-being in 2014 or 2016. Mobilise yourself. It's time to occupy this country before it's blown away in a storm.
Tom Engelhardt, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The United States of Fear as well as , his history of the Cold War, runs the Nation Institute's His latest book, co-authored with Nick Turse, is Terminator Planet: The First History of Drone Warfare, 2001-2050. You can see his recent interview with Bill Moyers on supersized politics and election 2012 here.
A version of this article first appeared on
The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.