Thursday, October 27, 2016

How Billionaire Speculator/`Philanthropist' and 2016 Clinton Presidential Campaign Funder Soros Got Rich Revisited

Most anti-war Democratic Party voters don't think Wall Street speculators should be able to enrich themselves by profiteering from offshore hedge funds, from investments in weapons manufacturing firms, from endless U.S. wars abroad or from apparently violating Securities and Exchange Commission regulations and engaging in stock manipulation. Yet in his 2013 book Street Smarts, the former business partner of Billionaire Speculator/"Philanthropist" and 2016 Clinton presidential campaign contributor George Soros, a Wall Street speculator named Jim Rogers, wrote the following:

"...There were only two firms on Wall Street, small companies, that specialized in foreign investing, and Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder was one of them...I was hired at Bleichroeder to work with a vice president of the firm...Soros had grown up in Hungary, lived in the United Kingdom until his mid-twenties...We were managing a fund at Bleichroeder, the Double Eagle hedge fund...when due to...a new regulatory restriction, we were forced to split from the firm and go out on our own. Arnhold and S. Bleichroeder would remain our primary broker.

"We got a little office and created the Quantum Fund...a...offshore hedge fund for foreign investors--who were not subject to the interest equalization tax--incorporated in the Netherlands Antilles...

"...I jumped on a plane [in the 1970's] and started visiting defense contractors around the country. Lockheed...was famous for its Advanced Development Projects division, better known as the Skunk Works, located in California, where its engineers came up with sophisticated weaponry for the Pentagon. I investigated Lockheed and other companies, like Northrop. I flew to Washington and learned that even the doves in Congress--Democratic Senator William Proxmire from Wisconscin being one of those to whom I talked--were in favor of Pentagon spending on advanced electronic warfare...Defense stocks at the time were depressed--selling for a dollar, two dollars, some of them...We started buying a lot of those stocks...

"...Lockheed went up a hundred times over the next few years...In 1980...the Quantum protfolio was up 4,200 percent...

"By 1979...the Securities and Exchange Commission [SEC] investigated us over our investment in a company called Computer Sciences Corporation. The SEC claimed that my partner, George Soros, was engaged in stock manipulation. He was charged with selling the stock short, only to cover his short sales by buying shares back at a lower price on the upcoming public offering. He was given the opportunity to sign a consent decree, in which he and the firm...promised not to do it again. Why should we agreed to sign it? I asked him...Why let it be construed that we were manipulating the stock? I was taken aback by his answer--`Because that is what I was doing,' he said."

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Did Hillary Rodham Clinton Seek To Enrich Herself When Husband Held Arkansas Public Office?

Most Democratic Party voters don't think that the wife of a public official should seek to personally enrich herself and her family when her husband is supposed to be serving the public interest as a state attorney general or state governor. Yet in her 2003 book Living History (for which she was paid more than $10 million book advance and book royalties by the Viacom-CBS media conglomerate's Simon and Schuster book publishing subsidiary), former Arkansas Attorney General and Governor Bill Clinton's wife--2016 Democratic Party presidential nominee Hillary Rodham Clinton--wrote the following:

"...We lived in the Governor's Mansion [in the late 1970's] and had an official expense account that covered meals...But I worried that...we needed to build up a nest egg.

"...My friend Diane Blair was married to someone who knew the intricacies of the commodities market...Jim Blair whose clients included the poultry giant Tyson Foods...Jim had developed a system of trading that was making him a fortune...By 1978...I was willing to risk $1,000 and let Jim guide my trades walked away from the table $100,000 ahead...

"...In the spring of 1978...a businessman...named Jim McDougal approached us with Bill [Clinton] and I entered a partnership with Jim and his...wife Susan, to buy 230...acres on the south bank of the White River in...Arkansas. The plan was to subdivide the site for vacation homes, then sell the lots at a profit.

"...Bill [Clinton] had...made a...real estate investment with McDougal the year before that had turned a...profit...We took out bank loans to buy the property, eventually transferring ownership to the Whitewater Development Company, which we and the McDougals had equal shares...

"...I kept my name after Bill [Clinton] was elected to state office partly because I thought it would help avoid the appearance of conflict of interest...

"I was helping...defend a company that sold and shipped...logs by railroad. As a shipment was unloaded at its destination, the logs came loose...and injured some employees of the company that had purchased the logs...

"...In early March [1992]...[1992 Democratic Party presidential primary candidate and California Governor] Jerry Brown went on the offensive against Bill [Clinton], focusing on my law practice and on the Rose Law firm, where I had been a partner since 1979...The Rose to the Arkansas state government.....

"...Brown accused Bill [Clinton] of steering state business to the Rose Firm...

"...I was [1992 Democratic Party presidential candidate] Bill [Clinton]'s principal surrogate on the campaign trail. I wanted to support his campaign and to advance his ideas. I had taken leave from my law firm and resigned from all of the corporate boards on which I served. That meant leaving the board of Wall-Mart, on which I had sat for 6 years at the invitation of Sam Walton, who taught me a great deal about corporate...success...

"I proudly cast my vote for Bill [Clinton] to be my President...Robert Rubin, the Co-Chairman of the investment bank Goldman Sachs, accepted Bill [Clinton]'s offer to become the first head of a soon-to-be-created National Economic Council...

"...Bill [Clinton] couldn't appoint me to an official position, even if he had wanted to. Anti-nepotism laws had been on the books...But there were no laws to prevent me from continuing my role as Bill Clinton's...advisor and, in some cases, representative..."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

The `New York Times'' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 8

New York Times Owner Slim’s Mexican Political Connections Historically

In addition to “receiving a million pesos from his mother” in 1966,  New York Times Owner Slim apparently benefitted financially in the following decades from “the fact that Slim was a huge contributor to” former Mexican President “Carlos Salinas de Gortari's PRI party,” according to an Aug. 20, 2007 Fortune magazine article; which also quoted College of William & Marry Professor of Government George Grayson as saying that Slim “made his billions because of an extremely close and advantageous relationship with the Salinas government.” The New Internationalist magazine in its June 1, 2004 issue also recalled that “as it happens Slim was good buddies with then-President CarlosSalinas de Gortari,” “in 1993, at a gala fundraising dinner, Slim—along with 30 other business leaders—pledged an average $25 million each to Gortari’s PRI party,” and “Salinas left office in 1994, was charged with massive fraud and corruption and has been in exile in Ireland ever since.”

(end of part 8)

Saturday, October 22, 2016

The `New York Times'' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 7

New York Times Owner Slim’s 1960’s Money-Making

According to Chrystia Freeland’s Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else book, New York Times Owner Slim “started to make serious money straight out of college, when he was one of the Los Casabolseros or Stock Market Boys, a group of aggressive young men who traded shares on the Mexican stock market.” Then, “by the end of 1965” Slim “had established a brokerage house, acquired a bottling company, and incorporated a real-estate business, Inmobiliaria Carso” and in 1966, “upon receiving a million pesos from his mother…built a twelve-story condominium in Mexico City,” “occupied the ninth floor and rented out the other apartments,” according to Lawrence Wright’s June 1, 2009 article in The New Yorker. So by the age of 26, according to the 2009 American Journalism Review article, “Slim had already accumulated $400,000 in wealth from his business ventures and from his mother.”

(end of part 7)

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The `New York Times'' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 6

New York Times Owner Slim’s Billions and Poverty In Mexico

California State University Professor Emeritus Rodolfo Acuna also observed in a Dec. 27, 2013 article which was posted on the CounterPunch website that “as of December 2013” Slim’s “corporate holdings amounted to US $71.2 billion” while “some 50 percent of Mexicans live below the poverty line;” and “critics charge that Slim’s monopoly prevents the growth of smaller companies, and his monopolistic practices have resulted in a shortage of paying jobs, contributing to migration to the United States.” As University of California-San Diego Professor Emeritus Ramon Eduardo Ruiz noted in his 2010 book Mexico: Why A Few Are Rich and The People Poor:

“Of the more than 100 million Mexicans, why do over half live in poverty, some 20 million of them enduring daily hunger, barely able to keep body and soul together?...Mexico…ranks near the top of the list of countries with the most glaring inequalities of wealth and income...One Mexican, Carlos Slim, the telephone magnate, is one of the richest men in the world…Every 24 hours of every month of every year, his income grows at the rate of $22 million dollars, yet 1 out of 5 Mexicans survives on just $2 dollars a day...Unwilling to help their poor, Mexico's elite had chosen to rely on Uncle Sam to give the [Mexican] poor jobs and to feed them, and equally important, to avoid a potential social explosion of the restless [in Mexico]...No country in the world has exported more manpower than Mexico...An average of 450,000 people a year are thought to have crossed into the United States [from Mexico] during the early years of the 21st-century...One fact [in Mexico] stares one in the face. The well-off [in Mexico] hate paying taxes, and Mexico has one of the lowest-tax rates in the world….Over 12 million Mexicans do not have running water in their homes...Carlos Slim...purchased the [Mexican] nation's telephone a bargain price; his monopoly nonetheless...charges some of the world's highest phone rates...”

(end of part 6)

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The `New York Times'' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 5

New York Times Owner and Philip Morris International Director Slim’s Special Economic Interests 

In a Mar. 18, 2009 article that was posted on the CounterPunch website, John Ross indicated what the special economic interests of New York Times Owner Slim were in 2009:

“The big guns of Slim’s empire are Telmex, the Mexican phone monopoly that charges higher rates than any other such enterprise in the wide world, with which he was gifted in an excess of crony capitalism by the reviled ex-president Carlos Salinas, and American Mobil – the Mexican tycoon’s cell phone companies dominate 70% of the Latin American market. Also in the Slim portfolio: Inbursa banks; Carso Construction; Prodigy Internet (Mexico’s top provider); the Sanborn’s restaurant and department store chain; double digit chunks of Sears and Saks Fifth Avenue; the Mixup record store chain; El Globo, the nation’s top pan dulce outlet; "La Cigarera", his tobacco cartel in Nayarit state; and....the Historic Center of Mexico City…Now Carlos Slim owns up to 160 buildings in the old quarter and dominates rental property….Slim built his empire on corporate cannibalism…”.

(end of part 5)

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

The `New York Times'' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 4

New York Times Owner and Philip Morris International Director Slim’s Inherited Wealth

Much of the big money that New York Times Owner Slim used to gain control of his lucrative privatized telecommunications monopoly in Mexico (which—prior to 1990--had been a nationalized, publicly-owned utility company of the Mexican government) and to purchase his New York Times stock was originally “derived from selling cigarettes” to people in Mexico—where 15% to 20% of male deaths and 5% to 10% of female deaths in 2000 were thought attributable to smoking and an estimated 60,000 people died of tobacco-related illnesses in 2010—and his tobacco industry investment profits. As The New Yorker magazine (6/1/09) article also noted, his Cigatam tobacco industry company investment “provided Slim with a critical ingredient for amassing a fortune: steady cash flow.”

Yet some of the money that Mexican Billionaire Slim originally used to invest in his Mexican tobacco industry companies was apparently derived from the wealth he inherited from his father. As Sherry Ricchiardi noted in her 2009 “A Dubious Benefactor” article in the American Journalism Review [AJR], “his father, Julian Slim Haddad, moved to Mexico in 1902 and made a fortune as a merchant and in real estate” and “when he died, Julian Slim left his six children well heeled.” As long ago as 1922, for example, Carlos Slim’s father was apparently worth over 1 million Mexican pesos and apparently owned at least 11 valuable Downtown Mexico City real estate properties.

(end of part 4

Monday, October 17, 2016

The `New York Times'' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 3

New York Times Owner Slim’s Historic Tobacco Industry/Philip Morris International/Altria Connection

A 2010 research paper by Tiffany Burch, Nathaniel Wander and Jeff Collin, titled “Uneasy money: the Instituto Carlos Slim de la Salud, tobacco philanthropy and conflict of interest in global health”, described some conflicts-of-interest and ethical issues related to New York Times Owner Slim’s foundations that raised some questions about whether or not the New York Times owner is actually a “new breed” of billionaire who has aided health historically:

“In May 2007, the Instituto Carso de la Salud—now Instituto Carlos Slim de la Salud (ICSS)—was endowed with US$500 million to focus on priority health issues in Latin America… ICSS was soon criticized, however, on the grounds that its funding was derived from tobacco industry profits and that its founder Carlos Slim Hélu remained an active industry principal…This research…demonstrates a prima facie conflict of interest between ICSS's health mission and its founder's involvement in cigarette manufacturing and marketing, reflected on ICSS's website as a resounding silence on issues of tobacco and health….”

According to the “Uneasy Money” research paper:

"The Instituto Carlos Slim de la Salud (ICSS) or Carlos Slim Health Institute (originally Instituto Carso de la Salud), was founded as a health charity by Mexican businessman Carlos Slim Helú and inaugurated on 18 September 2007 by Mexican President Felipe Calderón and Sra. Vivian Fernández, wife of the president of Panama. Backed by health and political elites, ICSS…is partnering with the Clinton Global Initiative…Slim, one of the world's richest men whose holdings include telecommunications, finance and retailing, also owns a 20% stake in the Mexican cigarette manufacturer Cigarrera La Tabacalera Mexicana (Cigatam), with the majority interest currently held by Philip Morris International (PMI). Having previously served on the board of Philip Morris Companies, Inc. (renamed Altria in 2003), Slimjoined the board of PMI when it was spun off from the Altria parent in April 2008. His annual compensation from PMI includes a retainer of at least US$100000, reimbursement of travel and business expenses and shares worth US$140000.

“…The then editor of Tobacco Control Simon Chapman described Slim as ‘a direct beneficiary of massive sales of tobacco’…This paper documents Slim's…involvement in tobacco corporations, detailing tobacco's significance in the development of his Grupo Carso (GC) and his historic and ongoing strategic value to the global tobacco industry…The documents presented here substantiate a longstanding pattern of financial and political relations between Carlos Slim/GC and Philip Morris/Altria/PMI…..

“The relationships between ICSS, Carlos Slimand the tobacco industry remain rooted in the finances of the Slim/GC commercial enterprise and in the services to the tobacco industry thatSlim continues to provide. They have been and remain arguably antithetical to national, regional and global interests in public health…

“…GC (originally Grupo Galas) was incorporated in 1980 ‘to obtain the majority stake in Cigatam, in which Philip Morris was a 29% partner’….By 1995 Cigatam was Mexico's most profitable domestic cigarette company, generating 24% of GC's revenue and 32% of its net income. In 1997, immediately before Slimwas elected to its board of directors, the Philip Morris parent company increased its stake in Cigatam to 50%, paying GC US$400 million. Shortly after the inauguration of ICSS in 2007, Slim/GC further profited by selling an additional 30% of Cigatam to PM/Altria at a price of US$1.1 billion. By 2008, Cigatam commanded 55% of the Mexican cigarette market and continued to increase its profits. The Slim/GC enterprise continues to benefit from its remaining 20% share of Cigatam, as well as from holdings in PMI.

“During the early 1980s, Slim/GC also became the largest shareholder in Cigatam's main competitor, Cigarerra La Moderna (CLM), which was partnered with British American Tobacco (BAT), though seemingly less openly than was Cigatam with PM…In 1985, ostensibly ‘to avoid antitrust problems’, Slim sold his 40% stake in CLM (which then held a 75% share of the Mexican market) to competitor/colleague Alfonso Romo Garza for US$32.4 million…Though formally competitors, Cigatam and CLM were described as functionally cooperative, being said to constitute an effective merchandising duopoly that controlled 98% of Mexico's cigarette market in 1997….

Slim's direct involvement in PM/Altria intensified during his service on the company's board of directors from 1997 to 2006, and he benefited additionally from annual retainers and share accumulations. Altria's 2005 Annual Report, the last full year in which Slim served, showed him owning over 4 million company shares, almost 1.5 times that of then-Chairman Louis Camilleri. In 2000, Slim purchased 3.9 million shares at greatly depressed prices, selling them for a profit of US$63 million 1year later. Slim retained 1.5 million Altria shares when he retired from its board in the spring of 2006.

“…Tobacco money enabled GC to purchase a share of the privatized Telefonos de Mexico (Telmex) from the Mexican government in 1990, which became the basis of GC telecommunications holdings…ICSS's funds originated in the tobacco industry…

“Even before his elevation to its board…Slimhad been serving as a Philip Morris conduitto the Mexican government….Slim's value to Philip Morris was further demonstrated when the company made a substantial donation to aSlim family charity consistent with its wider ‘influence’ strategies….In March 2008, less than a year after the launch of the ICSS, Slimbecame a director for the newly independent Philip Morris International, when it was spun off from the PM/Altria parent company…Specifically, he serves on PMI's Regulatory Affairs and Product Innovations Committee…

“If Slim had no further role than the financing of a health charity, it would still present a problematic case of ‘white coating’—the tobacco industry clothing itself in the respectability and goodwill of medical research and healthcare provision. While Slim appears to have no official role in ICSS per se, he remains the Chairman Emeritus of GC, within which ICSS and its parent the Carlos Slim Foundation, are described as ‘a fundamental part of Carlos Slim Helú's business strategy and culture’…Although Slim does not sit on the ICSS board of nine directors,…three are family members (son Marco Antonio, also CEO of Inbursa and a GC director; son-in-law Arturo Elias, a GC director and a key Telmex executive, described as Slim's spokesman; and daughter Vanessa), a fourth is a GC executive (Raul Zepeda, a Telmex attorney and Inbursa director), two are directors of GC and/or its subsidiaries (Jose Kuri and Roberto Kriete)…

“Finally, it cannot be overemphasized thatSlim, who is said to remain in close communication with his three sons and two sons-in-law, the active managers of his business interests, is not simply any wealthy patron. His family holdings were reported to comprise more than 5% of Mexico's 2006 gross domestic product and to account for one-third the value on Mexico's US$422 billion stock exchange. Consistently ranked alongside Bill Gates and Warren Buffett as one of the three richest men in the world, Slim's significance within a national economy 1/14th the size of the US substantially exceeds that of Buffett and Gates…

“ICSS's funding from telecommunication and infrastructure shares ultimately derives from the tobacco industry. By Slim's account, it was the large cash flows generated by cigarette manufacturing, and by our analysis, additional profits from shares in domestic and transnational tobacco companies that financed GC's expansion into these other sectors…The tobacco links at play here are not matters of ancient history: GC, which parents the Carlos Slim Foundation of which ICSS is a subsidiary, retains a 20% share in the pre-eminent tobacco company in the largest market in Spanish-speaking America, and Slim and his family have benefited from owning large volumes of shares in Altria and PMI….By serving PMI, the founder of what would be Latin America's most influential health charity has agreed to promote the long-term interests of the world's leading tobacco transnational....

“The profits, power and prestige of Slim, his family and GC are substantially derived from selling cigarettes; their ongoing engagement in this business suggests their continued acceptance of this activity as unproblematic…ICSS can reasonably be viewed as essentially the tobacco-funded gift of one of the world's richest men….”

(end of part 3

Sunday, October 16, 2016

The `New York Times'' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 2

Most people who live in New York City—including most of New York City’s over 183,000 Mexican-American residents—don’t think that the human rights of people in Mexico should be violated or that Mexican workers and consumers should be exploited by the Mexican government or the corporations that Mexican billionaires or U.S. billionaires own or control.

Yet one of the richest billionaires in the world—a Mexican billionaire named Carlos Slim—has been one of the owners in recent years of the Big Apple’s New York Times newspaper—which publishes “all the news that fits the rich” each day. As Sherry Ricchiardi noted in an article, titled “A Dubious Benefactor,” that appeared in the April/May 2009 issue of American Journalism Review [AJR]:

“On January 19 [2009], the Times Co. accepted a $250 million loan at 14 percent interest from a controversial billionaire who already owned a 6.9 percent stake in the company.

“The benefactor: Carlos Slim Helú.

“Immediately, questions swirled about the propriety of the nation's leading newspaper getting a bailout from a much-criticized subject of its own news coverage…The industry was abuzz with the apparent conflict of interest…The Times Co. declined requests for an interview about the company's connection to the Mexican billionaire…Slim's son-in-law and spokesman, Arturo Elias Ayub, declined a request for an interview with Slim or a family member for this story…If Slim exercises the warrants he holds from the loan, he will be among the largest single shareholders in the Times Co., owning up to 17 percent of the common shares outstanding...reported Times writer Eric Dash…” 

And in an article, titled “When the World’s Richest Billionaire Owns Your Paper: The New York Times covers Carlos Slim—carefully,” that appeared in the November 2013 issue of Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting [F.A.I.R.]’s Extra! magazine, Zaid Jilani indicated how the New York Times has been reporting in recent years about the Mexican billionaire that owns much of its stock:

“In 2008, the multibillionaire purchased a 6.4 percent stake in the New York Times Company. Today, he is the second-largest shareholder in the company, with a 13 percent stake…

“A natural topic for coverage would be Slim’s telecommunications monopoly that critics charge has free rein to rip off millions of consumers…The OECD calculated that this virtual monopoly by Slim reduces the living standard of the average Mexican family by over $600 a year...The OECD study did get a passing reference in a 2011 Times article on Mexico’s attempt to break up Slim’s monopoly—which mentioned Slim’s stake in the Times in the print version, but not the online edition. The article, headlined `Mexico Takes Aim at a Titan in Telecom,’ looked at a $1 billion fine that Mexico’s antitrust agency imposed on one ofSlim’s subsidiaries…Places where criticism ofSlim would seem obvious sometimes find him conspicuously absent, as when Times columnist Thomas Friedman wrote that Mexico has `big energy, telecom’ monopolies that are harming the country’s economy—without naming the Mexican monopolist who owns much of the company that pays Friedman’s salary.

“Incidents of public pushback to Slim’s business practices have also gone unnoted, as when hundreds demonstrated when George Washington University gave him an honorary degree; Mexican immigrant groups threatened boycotts against his telecommunications companies; and activists in the U.S. and Mexico formed the group Two Countries, One Voice to rally against Slim…You’ll find the paper’s sharpest criticism of Slim in an op-ed from 2007, a year before he became an investor in the Times. In it, Eduardo Porter condemns Slim as a `robber baron.’ Porter writes that `Mr. Slim’s sin, if not technically criminal, is like that of Rockefeller, the sin of the monopolist.’…

“Perhaps the paper was feeling like it had given its future investor a raw deal. By December of that year, it published a reported piece callingSlim a `new breed of billionaire’ who “has pledged billions of dollars to his two foundations that will aid health and education.’”

(end of part 2)

Friday, October 14, 2016

The `New York Times' Mexican Billionaire Connection Revisited Again: Part 1

“…Between 2008 and 2011 the second-largest shareholder in the New York Times was Carlos Slim…”

--from Plutocrats: The Rise of the New Global Super-Rich and the Fall of Everyone Else by Chrystia Freeland in 2012

“Mexican telecoms billionaire Carlos Slim says he could exercise stock warrants in The New York Times Co which expire early next year, a move that would more than double his stake in the media company.

“Slim currently owns about 8 percent of common shares, which would increase to about 17 percent if he exercises the warrants, according to a Reuters calculation using the New York Times’s latest SEC filing….”

--from a July 11. 2014 Reuters article

“…As a telecommunications and retail tycoon, Slim’s unrivaled clout reaches deep into the Mexican political system. His early fortune fed off tobacco… Although in 2007 his holding company reduced its stake in Philip Morris de Mexico from 50 percent to 20 percent, his tobacco business last year was worth $284 million. Between 1997 and 2006, Slim was a director with Philip Morris International’s former parent company, Altria. Today he serves on the board of Philip Morris International...”

--from a November 2010 Center for Public Integrity report

“`Carlos Slim has an undeniable track record of ravaging everything he purchases with monopolistic and predatory practices,’ noted Andres Ramirez, Two Countries One Voice [TCOV] co-founder…Carlos Slim, one of the richest men in the world, who has traded places as the richest man with Bill Gates and Warren Buffett, created an empire primarily from his monopoly on the Mexican telecommunications system…”

--from an Oct. 7, 2013 Two Countries One Voice press release.

“The statement by [Mexican Government] Attorney General Jesus Murillo Karam today that the 43 students who disappeared in September could have been killed, burned and dumped in a river fails to address the government’s complicity in this tragedy, Amnesty International said today.

“The investigation into the enforced disappearance and extrajudicial killings has been limited and incomplete, with officials failing to challenge the entrenched collusion between the state and the organized crime which underlies these grave violations of human rights, said Amnesty International today…”

--from a Nov. 8, 2014 Amnesty International press release

(end of part 1)

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Australian Anti-War Activist Joan Coxsedge's September 26, 2016 Letter

The following letter from Australian anti-war and Latin American solidarity activist Joan Coxsedge--who is also a former member of the Victoria state parliament--originally appeared in an Australian-Cuban solidarity group's newsletter   

“September 26, 2016

“Dear Comrades,

“Hope you’re all OK and managing to cope with the morally bankrupt brigade that claims to govern us. Turnbull preens in front of the global media, giving god knows what away to our US masters, who bomb and bluster to enforce their domination, with the most bizarre deal agreeing to accept Central American refugees while ignoring those in our own backyard.

“A genuinely independent media would help expose some of the lies and wholesale corruption so endemic in every layer of society. Instead, we get regurgitated rubbish spewed out by the Pentagon and the US State Department.

“America’s Ambassador to the UN, Samantha Powers, even shocked me with her furious response when she was forced to attend an emergency session of the UN Security Council to explain why US planes - and Australian - had attacked the Syrian Army, with 83 killed and at least 100 wounded, an egregious violation of the shaky ceasefire. Instead of apologizing for a deliberate attack on the army of a sovereign state, she came across as an obnoxious schoolyard bully. And she’s still at it, doing her damnedest to start WW3. 

“Her Washington bosses have gone even further by claiming to support ‘freedom fighters’, the so-called ‘moderate’ rebels, when Blind Freddy knows that there’s no difference between the ‘good’ and the ‘bad’. They’re all part of a terrorist front of illegal armed militants that the US, NATO (the US), Saudi Arabia, Israel, Qatar and Turkey (and Australia) have given arms and money to for five years. The battle for Aleppo is their last stand.

“Given the grim prognosis for the regime-change conspirators, the US and Turkey appear to be ratcheting up for direct military intervention. A horrible prospect.

“Whatever their political beliefs, I doubt that few Syrians wanted the US to turn their bustling 5000-year old civilization into a desolate moonscape full of homicidal fanatics.

“The name of the country under attack might change but the story has the same terrible outcome. Firstly, the US uses its well-tried pattern of labeling their targets as tyrants, butchers, modern-day Hitlers who commit horrific acts against their own people, shutting up any opposition. But Assad did not invade Iraq and kill one million people. George W did. Assad did not support jihadists to destroy Libya, kill half-a-million people, ignite a race war and create a massive refugee crisis. Barack Obama did.

 “The conflict in Syria is not a civil war. It’s regime change orchestrated by the world’s standout regime-changer, which has toppled more than 50 sovereign governments since the end of WW2. The Syrian war began in 2009 when Assad rejected a Qatari plan to transport gas from Qatar directly to European energy markets via terminals in Turkey to ensure global gas domination. Washington was furious and immediately launched its clandestine proxy war. WikiLeaks clearly showed in secret cables and reports that the moment Assad said no to the pipeline, he signed his own death warrant.

“At its epicenter, Iraq. In a 2015 interview, Noam Chomsky described the US invasion as ‘the worst war crime of this century’. But the war criminals have run free. Another Cheney is running for Congress, another Clinton is running for president and Howard still supports what he did.

“Blair is something else again. While Bush went home to paint pictures of himself, Blair went on a Clintonite mission to get rich while promoting more death and destruction. He cut a deal with Murdoch to allow media monopolies in exchange for press support, he took money from a car-racing plutocrat in exchange for allowing tobacco ads at car races, he peddled BAE jets to Indonesia for killing people in East Timor, sold BAE air traffic control systems to Tanzania which has no air force, privatized schools and hospitals, anything that can make a buck. As if all that’s not enough, he accepted the position Middle East Peace Envoy to Israel and Palestine…

“But the US has learned nothing about anything. Obama has just rewarded the most extreme anti-Palestinian Israeli prime minister with a huge increase in funding, from $US3.1 billion a year to a record $US3.8 billion over the next ten years. Rewarded for what? For the 1948 catastrophe? For the Sabra-Shatila massacre in cahoots with their brutal Lebanese Christian phalange allies? No-one ever got charged with that one. Or any of the other brutalities and daily humiliations and the illegal stealth of Palestinian land. On top of that, Israel has made no secret of its preference for violent Sunni sectarians. And yes, it’s al-Qaida.

“So good on the Women’s Boat to Gaza, an act of solidarity from a range of western women to show their support for the brave women of Gaza, trapped in what is described as a giant open-air prison. The ‘skipper’ is Australian Madeleine Habib.

“I was quite heartened to see Fidel Castro is still out and about. Obviously frail, but recently he held an hour-long meeting with Japan’s PM Shinzo Abe to talk about nuclear dangers. Abe described Cuba as a ‘great influence among all non-aligned countries’. We say, hear, hear and Viva!

“Joan Coxsedge"