Tag Archive: US



VOAG-Logo-(Ukraine)Against Ukraine repression: ‘In Donetsk and Kharkov, The people continue to fight’

By Greg Butterfield, Workers World
 April 10 – Desperate to stamp out a popular uprising in Southeastern Ukraine, the fascist junta in Kiev -which came to power through a violent coup against elected President Viktor Yanukovich -is moving to crush the newly declared People’s Republic of Donetsk and rebellions in other cities.  But anti-fascists throughout the region continue to resist in the face of increasing repression by the U.S.-backed regime.

Arsen Avakov, the junta’s Interior Minister, arrived in the Southeast April 9, delivering a 48-hour ultimatum to protesters occupying government buildings in Donetsk and Lugansk to surrender or face military attack. The deadline expires at nightfall on April 11. Avakov, a leader of the far-right Fatherland party, was tasked with bringing the various neo-Nazi groups under the regime’s discipline. To this end he created a “National Guard” composed of members of the Right Sector, Euromaidan Self Defense Forces, and other racist gangs from Western Ukraine. The Communist Party of Ukraine’s headquarters in Kiev was set on fire April 9, just hours after a court ordered the Interior Ministry to remove fascists who’ve occupied it since the coup. Euromaidan Self Defense goons, now employed by the Interior Ministry, were photographed tearing up red flags outside the building shortly before it was torched. In the Southeast, police and military units unwilling to act against the local populace have been replaced by “special task forces” from Western Ukraine.

 According to Ukrainian and Russian sources, Avakov has also enlisted foreign mercenaries from the U.S.-based Greystone Ltd.  U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove, in charge of NATO forces in Europe, told the Associated Press April 10 that U.S. troops could soon be deployed in the region. NATO has scheduled an “emergency meeting” on Ukraine for April 14.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy destroyer U.S.S. Donald Cook was expected to arrive in the Black Sea April 10 near Russian waters, where it will join other U.S., Bulgarian and Romanian warships in provocative “war games” aimed at Russia. All of these forces are now deployed against the popular resistance in the largely Russian-speaking Southeast, where the anti-fascist and working-class traditions of Soviet times still run deep, and where some look to Russia as a last line of defense against the neo-Nazi threat from Kiev.

 But instead of intimidating the resistance, the fight-back has continued and spread. After losing ground earlier in the week, anti-fascists in Lugansk held onto government buildings. Miners in the Donbas region have downed tools to go to the defense of Donetsk. Hundreds have remained in the streets of Kharkov despite a ban on protests. And even in the Western Ukraine city of Lviv, near the Polish border, activists briefly seized the local prosecutor’s office to protest a new appointment by Kiev.

Donetsk prepares to fight
In Donetsk, capital of the Donbas mining region, protesters seized the Regional State Administration building April 6 and declared an independent People’s Republic of Donetsk. The new people’s council, with the support of thousands of demonstrators in the main square, announced a referendum for May 11 to determine the future of the region. The demand for a referendum has gripped the masses throughout the Southeast, who want autonomy or independence from the fascist, pro-NATO regime in Kiev, which is in the process of imposing austerity in return for International Monetary Fund loans. Calling for a general mobilization of the populace, the People’s Council said April 9: “According to information from our activists at civilian roadblocks, Ukrainian armored vehicles are on their way to Donetsk. The Kiev junta has decided to solve the problem posed by our protest by military force.  “But their politicians and security forces are afraid of the presence of civilians near the building, where a large number of foreign journalists are also present.

 “Last night, thanks to the presence of thousands of people around the Lugansk state security headquarters, people formed a human shield around the building to protect it and the presence of militias barricaded inside prevented police from carrying out their orders to kill our comrades.  “Let’s be worthy of our comrades from Lugansk! Protect our militia guarding the building of the People’s Council! Let’s defend our independence and freedom!”

And the people responded. Activists and volunteers, including many youth and retirees, have built barricades around the RSA building and other protest strongholds, set up checkpoints on roads, gathered food, water and medical supplies, and joined defense trainings against the expected military assault.

 On the night of April 9-10, teams of activists blocked several military buses and prevented them from deploying troops near the RSA.  “We will be on duty here all night, because the assault could begin at any moment,” one activist on nightwatch duty told Ria Novosti.  Sergey Tsyplakov, deputy director of the People’s Militia of Donbas, said: “In Donetsk airport, about 100 people from the National Guard have been housed. Around 100 Right Sector bandits are also in the city, as well as a hundred employees from a private U.S. military company operating under contract with the Kiev junta. “In total, there are around 300 professionals or well-trained and motivated fanatics,” Tsyplakov said. “This is a major force, but we are ready to fight.”

Kharkov: ‘Resistance does not subside’
  In the city of Kharkov, where the struggle has been led by the People’s Unity coalition and the leftist Union Borotba (Struggle), protesters seized the local RSA building and declared a People’s Republic on April 7.  The People’s Council called for regional autonomy, including independence of NATO, re-nationalization of former Soviet industry, and priority to collective forms of ownership.

That night, hundreds of fascists and mercenaries wearing Special Forces uniforms attacked the building. They arrested 70 people and dispersed the protesters – but only temporarily. Kiev-allied city officials declared they would ban mass protests in Freedom Square and the city center.

But the next day, hundreds again gathered on the square and outside the fascist-occupied RSA building. On April 9, more than 500 people turned out to demand the release of the detained activists, Borotba reported. The fearful authorities had the courthouse surrounded by 1,000 police and refused to admit members of the public. People picketed the courthouse for several hours, chanting “Power to the people, freedom for the Kharkov defenders,” while parents shouted, “Free our children!”

 The activists were sentenced to two months imprisonment or a fine of 180,000 hryvnia – about $14,000 each. Simultaneously, hundreds more rallied at Freedom Square ahead of a court hearing on the planned demonstration ban. “The ban is aimed not only at us, but at all Kharkovites,” charged Borotba’s Svetlana Tsiberganova.  Borotba and People’s Unity have called for a major demonstration on April 12 in defiance of the ban.  “Despite the repression, the resistance does not subside,” declared Borotba coordinator Sergei Kirichuk.  “The people are going to continue the fight.”ukraine pics

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VOAG-Logo-(Brick)a8Ukraine and the Rebirth of Fascism in Europe

The violence on the streets of Ukraine is not a simple expression of popular anger against a government.  Instead, it is merely the latest example of the rise of the most insidious form of fascism that Europe has seen since the fall of the Third Reich.

Recent months have seen regular protests by the Ukrainian political opposition and its supporters –  protests ostensibly in response to Ukrainian President Yanukovich’s refusal to sign a trade agreement with the European Union that was seen by many political observers as the first step towards European integration.  The protests remained largely peaceful until January 17th when protesters armed with clubs, helmets, and improvised bombs unleashed brutal violence on the police, storming government buildings, beating anyone suspected of pro-government sympathies, and generally wreaking havoc on the streets of Kiev.  But who are these violent extremists and what is their ideology?

The political formation is known as “Pravy Sektor” (Right Sector), which is essentially an umbrella organization for a number of fascist groups including supporters of the “Svoboda” (Freedom) Party, “Patriots of Ukraine”, “Ukrainian National Assembly – Pravy Sektor”.  All of these organizations share a common ideology that is vehemently anti-Russian, anti-immigrant, and anti-Jewish among other things.  In addition they share a common reverence for the so called “Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists” led by Stepan Bandera, the infamous Nazi collaborators who actively fought against the Soviet Union and engaged in some of the worst atrocities committed by any side in World War II.

While Ukrainian political forces, opposition and government, continue to negotiate, a very different battle is being waged in the streets.  Using intimidation and brute force more typical of Hitler’s “Brownshirts” or Mussolini’s “Blackshirts” than a contemporary political movement, these groups have managed to turn a conflict over economic policy and the political allegiances of the country into an existential struggle for the very survival of the nation that these so called “nationalists” claim to love so dearly.  The images of Kiev burning, Lviv streets filled with thugs, and other chilling examples of the chaos in the country, illustrate beyond a shadow of a doubt that the political negotiation with the Maidan (Kiev’s central square and center of the protests) opposition is now no longer the central issue.  Rather, it is the question of Ukrainian fascism and whether it is to be supported or rejected.

For its part, the United States has strongly come down on the side of the fascist.  In early December, members of the US ruling establishment such as John McCain and Victoria Nuland were seen at Maidan lending their support to the protesters.  However, as the character of the opposition has become apparent, the US and Western ruling class and its media machine have done little to condemn the fascists.  Instead, their representatives have met with representatives of Right Sector and deemed them to be “no threat.”  In other words, the US and its allies have given their tacit approval for the continuation and proliferation of the violence in the name of their ultimate goal.

In an attempt to pry Ukraine out of the Russian sphere of influence, the US-EU-NATO alliance has, not for the first time, allied itself with fascists.  Of course, for decades, millions in Latin America were disappeared or murdered by fascist paramilitary forces armed and supported by the United States.  The mujahideen of Afghanistan, also extreme ideological reactionaries, were created and financed by the United States for the purposes of destabilizing Russia.  And of course, there is the painful reality of Libya and, most recently Syria, where the United States and its allies finance and support extremist jihadis against a government that has refused to align with the US and Israel.  There is a disturbing pattern here that has never been lost on keen political observers: the United States always makes common cause with right wing extremists and fascists for geopolitical gain.

The Fascist Menace Across the Continent
Ukraine and the rise of right wing extremism there cannot be seen, let alone understood, in isolation.  Rather, it must be examined as part of a growing trend throughout Europe (and indeed the world).

In Greece, savage austerity imposed by the troika (IMF, ECB, and European Commission) has crippled the country’s economy, leading to a depression as bad, if not worse, than the Great Depression in the United States.  It is against this backdrop of economic collapse that the Golden Dawn party has grown to become the third most popular political party in the country.  Espousing an ideology of hate, the Golden Dawn – in effect a Nazi party that promotes anti-Jewish, anti-immigrant, anti-women chauvinism – is a political force that the government in Athens has understood to be a serious threat to the very fabric of society.  It is this threat which led the government to arrest the party’s leadership after a Golden Dawn Nazi fatally stabbed an anti-fascist rapper.  Athens has launched an investigation into the party, though the results of this investigation and trial remain somewhat unclear.

What makes Golden Dawn such an insidious threat is the fact that, despite their central ideology of Nazism, their anti-EU, anti-austerity rhetoric appeals to many in the economically devastated Greece.  As with many fascist movements in the 20th Century, Golden Dawn scapegoats immigrants, Muslim and African primarily, for many of the problems facing Greeks.  In dire economic circumstances, such irrational hate becomes appealing; an answer to the question of how to solve society’s problems.  Indeed, despite Golden Dawn’s leaders being jailed, other party members are still in parliament, still running for major offices including mayor of Athens.  Though an electoral victory is unlikely, another strong showing at the polls will make the eradication of fascism in Greece that much harder.

Were this phenomenon confined to Greece and Ukraine, it would not constitute a continental trend.  Sadly however, we see the rise of similar, albeit slightly less overtly fascist, political parties all over Europe.  In Spain, the ruling pro-austerity People’s Party has moved to establish draconian laws restricting protest and free speech, and empowering and sanctioning repressive police tactics.  In France, the National Front Party of Marine Le Pen, which vehemently scapegoats Muslim and African immigrants, won nearly twenty percent of the vote in the first round of presidential elections.  Similarly, the Party for Freedom in the Netherlands – which promotes anti-Muslim, anti-immigrant policies – has grown to be the third largest in parliament.  Throughout Scandinavia, ultra nationalist parties which once toiled in complete irrelevance and obscurity are now significant players in elections.  These trends are worrying to say the least.

It should be noted too that, beyond Europe, there are a number of quasi-fascist political formations which are, in one way or another, supported by the United States.  The right wing coups that overthrew the governments of Paraguay and Honduras were tacitly and/or overtly supported by Washington in their seemingly endless quest to suppress the Left in Latin America.  Of course, one should also remember that the protest movement in Russia was spearheaded by Alexei Navalny and his nationalist followers who espouse a virulently anti-Muslim, racist ideology that views immigrants from the Russian Caucasus and former Soviet republics as beneath “European Russians”.  These and other examples begin to paint a very ugly portrait of a US foreign policy that attempts to use economic hardship and political upheaval to extend US hegemony around the world.

In Ukraine, the “Right Sector” has taken the fight from the negotiating table to the streets in an attempt to fulfill the dream of Stepan Bandera – a Ukraine free of Russia, Jews, and all other “undesirables” as they see it.  Buoyed by the continued support from the US and Europe, these fanatics represent a more serious threat to democracy than Yanukovich and the pro-Russian government ever could.  If Europe and the United States don’t recognize this threat in its infancy, by the time they finally do, it might just be too late.

Update – Ukraine’s Gold:
Meanwhile the Russian newspaper, Iskra reported on March 11th, that two days previously, in a mysterious operation under the cover of night, Ukraine’s gold reserves were promptly loaded onboard an unmarked plane, which subsequently took the gold to the US:

“Tonight, at 2:00am, an unregistered transport plane took off took off from Boryspil airport. According to Boryspil staff, prior to the plane’s appearance, four trucks and two cargo minibuses arrived at the airport all with their license plates missing. Fifteen people in black uniforms, masks and body armor stepped out, some armed with machine guns. These people loaded the plane with more than forty heavy boxes. After this, several mysterious men arrived and also entered the plane. The loading was carried out in a hurry. After unloading, their plateless cars immediately left the runway, and the plane took off on an emergency basis”.

“Airport officials who saw this mysterious “special operation” immediately notified the administration of the airport, which however strongly advised them “not to meddle in other people’s business. Later, the editors were called by one of the senior officials of the former Ministry of Income and Fees, who reported that, according to him, tonight on the orders of one of the “new leaders” of Ukraine, all the gold reserves of the Ukraine were taken to the United States”.

Indicatively, according to the latest IMF figures, Ukraine’s official gold holdings are just over 40 tons, having doubled in the past decade. Lets hope the Ukranians haven’t just “liberated” of all their gold, which after a brief stay 80 feet below the surface at 33 Liberty, will promptly find its way either to the Bundesbank, or to the billionaire oligarchs, based either in London or elsewhere, and currently in charge of “post-liberation” Ukraine.The Voag is everywhere

Monsanto Wins  Nobel Prize of agriculture

In an obscene development, a Monsanto executive is winning this year’s “Nobel Prize of agriculture” – the prestigious World Food Prize – for creating GMOs. Receiving it legitimizes the sort of rampant genetic modification Monsanto pioneered, and helps validate a ruthless business model that impoverishes farmers and monopolizes our food. [1]

If that wasn’t baffling enough, the founder of Syngenta, the same biotech giant joining Bayer in suing Europe to keep selling bee-killing pesticides, will also win the prize, and with it, a share of the $250,000 prize money. This prize legitimizes their frankenfoods and bee killers.

Winning this prize will encourage the wider use of genetically engineered crops and be a huge obstacle to those fighting to investigate the long-term effects of its frankenseeds, which is exactly what Monsanto wants. In 2008, Monsanto made a $5 million pledge to the World Food Prize Foundation, part of its plan to buy the credibility it can’t legitimately earn. By handing its benefactor this award, the Foundation risks undermining the credibility of the most respected prize in agriculture.

Monsanto has been by far the most prominent and controversial corporation promoting the introduction of biotechnology in agriculture. The company has a long and messy history of manufacturing hazardous chemicals. Their products have included chemical warfare agents (Agent Orange), industrial materials (PCBs), food additives (NutraSweet), agrochemicals and pharmaceuticals.

The Crimes of Monsanto
As the market leaders in GM crops it is Monsanto who have been largely responsible for contaminating the global food chain with GM crops. The long term health effects of eating GM crops are as yet unknown. [2]

BST,  marketed by Monsanto as Posilac, is a genetically engineered hormone designed to make cows produce more milk. Studies have shown that BST has serious implications for the health and welfare of dairy cattle and may cause breast cancer, colon cancer and prostate cancer in humans. It is banned in Europe but Monsanto is trying to overturn the ban in the courts.

One of the most worrying and pernicious of Monsanto’s crimes has been to obtain patents for ‘terminator’ technology. Terminator technology involves the genetically engineering of plants to produce sterile seeds, thus forcing farmers to buy new seed every year, rather than saving their own seed from year to year. Monsanto has said it will not use this technology, but still holds the patents and may use it in future. [3]

Several scientific studies have suggested that the Bt technology used by Monsanto in their insect resistant crops may kill ‘non-pest’ insects such as the Monarch butterfly, yet Monsanto attempted to rush their Bt insect resistant cotton through the Indian government’s regulatory process anyway. The dicission on allowing commercial growing of Bt cotton has been postponed in the face of massive opposition from Indian farmers and NGOs all over the world.

Monsanto have also been behind a long list of litigations against activists, designed to intimidate anyone who may question Monsanto’s story. In 1997 two TV journalists Steve Wilson and Jane Akre, who were making a documentary on the dangers of  Monsanto’s BST were fired by their employers Fox, when they refused to change the content of the documentary. In 1998 Monsanto took out a wide ranging SLAPP (Stategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation) against activists from Genetix Snowball who were campaigning agains Monsanto’s GM food trials in the UK.

Protest
In protest, 81 Councilors of the World Future Council have penned a statement blasting the World Food Prize Foundation for betraying its purpose. In the words of the esteemed authors: “GMO seeds reinforce a model of farming that undermines the sustainability of cash-poor farmers, who make up most of the world’s hungry. The most dramatic impact of such dependency is in India, where 270,000 farmers, many trapped in debt for buying seeds and chemicals, committed suicide between 1995 and 2012.” Despite the criticism, Monsanto and Syngenta executives are set to receive their prize on World Food Day, October 16, a slap in the face to everyone harmed by their products. [4]

[1] http://action.sumofus.org/a/world-food-prize-monsanto-syngenta/5/4/?akid=2390.1701622.QwfZ4y&rd=1&sub=fwd&t=3

[2] http://www.corporatewatch.org.uk/?lid=210

[3] ibid

[4] ibid

For further reading: Focus On GMOs – WANTED: Monsanto for crimes against the planet

hendrik-a-verfaillie-and-monsWANTED: Monsanto for crimes against the planet

Greenpeace, August 24, 2002
Long time corporate scoundrels Monsanto are WANTED for their crimes against the planet. It started innocently enough with the production of Agent Orange for military use in Vietnam. Then came PCBs and Dioxin. Now they are after our food. Their goal: global food supply domination.

The environmental criminal:
Monsanto is wanted for questioning in relation to the genetic pollution of the planet Earth, force feeding global citizens genetically engineered foods and the global take over of the planet’s food sources.

It is armed with the arrogant belief that genetic engineering is safe, both for the environment and human health. Monsanto is the same company that brought us such safe, healthy products as Agent Orange and PCBs.

The accomplice:
The US and Canadian governments not only ignored the inherent risks of genetic engineering, they have aided Monsanto setting up an inadequate regulatory system that relies on risk assessment, industry science and voluntary compliance.

The environmental crime:
As if polluting the planet with noxious PCBs, dioxins and harmful pesticides wasn’t enough, now this leader in the genetic engineering industry is threatening to alter the genes of every food crop on Earth. Monsanto’s Robert Fraley testified: “What you are seeing is not just a consolidation of seed companies, it’s really a consolidation of the entire food chain.”

Through a spending spree of billions of US dollars acquiring seed companies around the world and the contamination of the global food chain with GE crops, Monsanto’s diabolical plan of global food take over may soon be a reality. But since meeting resistance from people in developed nations, Monsanto has turned its focus to developing nations. They claim that they can help meet the world’s growing food needs and feed the hungry. But they ignore the fact that most hungry people live in countries that have food surpluses rather than deficits.

Innovative, environmentally responsible farming practices are already in the ground, offering food security and sustainable livelihoods without drawing farmers into more dependency, threatening biodiversity or endangering human health. Food security, the ability of a community to feed itself consistently on a diverse and healthy diet, is a complex problem that will not be solved overnight, it depends on people having access to land and money. Monsanto is offering neither.

And why should we believe that this move to sell genetically engineered crops to developing nations to help them with hunger and malnutrition comes from the goodness of their hearts. If their relationship with farmers in developed nations is any indication, farmers in the developing world will be trampled by the coercion and censorship tactics of this agriculture bully.

Monsanto promotes a farming model of snooping and snitching on your neighbours. The company employs a small army of private investigators to check up on farmers and advertises a toll-free informer line. They have tried to censor journalists questioning the safety of Monsanto’s bovine growth hormone and stop the printers of the Ecologist from publishing a special edition attacking Monsanto. Instead Monsanto spends millions on public relations campaigns of misinformation and warm fuzzy feelings.

The victim:
Percy Schmeiser is a farmer from the prairie food belt of Canada. His canola fields were contaminated with Monsanto’s Round-Up Ready canola seed. Monsanto’s position is that it doesn’t matter whether Percy knew it or not, his canola field was contaminated with the Roundup Ready gene and he must pay their technology fee. Percy and his wife Louise stood up to Monsanto in a classic battle of good versus evil, David versus Goliath, but in this round it was Monsanto that won out in the Canadian court battle. Percy is appealing.

Monsanto quotes Gandhi “we must be the change we wish to see in the world” in their propaganda. But it was Percy who received the Mahatma Gandhi Award while he was in India in October 2000. The award is given in recognition of working for the betterment and good of humankind in a non-violent way.

The verdict:
Oh so guilty, their arrest is overdue. Monsanto has already polluted every corner of the planet with PCBs and dioxin, they must be held accountable before all crops and genetic resources on the planet are contaminated and our food supply forever under their control.

The US and Canadian governments must hold Monsanto accountable for their crimes against the environment and the global food supply. World governments need to agree on legally binding rules for corporations that hold them responsible for the actions next week at the Earth Summit.

The Reward:
A safe and secure global food supply, a healthy environment and the chance to properly tackle the inadequate distribution of food to the world’s hungry.

Assad did not use chemical weapons

CBS News reports that the U.S. is finalizing plans for war against Syria – and positioning ships to launch cruise missiles against the Syrian government -based on the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people. The last time the U.S. blamed the Syrian government for a chemical weapons attack, that claim was debunked.

But is the claim that the Syrian government used chemical weapons against its people true this time? It’s not surprising that Syria’s close ally Russia is expressing doubt. Agence France-Presse (AFP) notes: Russia, which has previously said it has proof of chemical weapons use by the rebels, expressed deep scepticism about the opposition’s claims. The foreign ministry said the timing of the allegations as UN inspectors began their work “makes us think that we are once again dealing with a premeditated provocation.”

But Russia isn’t the only doubter. AFP reports: “At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the people who are helping them are without any protective clothing and without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention. “In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.” John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be compelling evidence of chemical weapons use. “Of the videos that I’ve seen for the last few hours, none of them show pinpoint pupils this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus nerve agents,” he said.

Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World magazine, which specialises in chemical weapons issues, said the evidence did not suggest that the chemicals used were of the weapons-grade that the Syrian army possesses in its stockpiles. “We’re not seeing reports that doctors and nurses are becoming fatalities, so that would suggest that the toxicity of it isn’t what we would consider military sarin. It may well be that it is a lower-grade,” Winfield told AFP.

Haaretz reports: Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination. Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from the footage so far: “None of the people treating the casualties or photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective gear,” he says, “and despite that, none of them seem to be armed.” This would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons, including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition, he says that “there are none of the other signs you would expect to see in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control”.

Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous material exposure at England’s Cranfield University who has worked with Britain’s Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that “from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the casualties coming in, and it would affect those treating them who are not properly protected. We are not seeing that here.”

Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any external signs of trauma?

The Syrian rebels (and perhaps other players in the region) have a clear interest in presenting this as the largest chemical attack by the army loyal to Syrian President Bashar Assad to date, even if the cause was otherwise, especially while the UN inspectors are in the country.

It is also in their interest to do so whilst U.S. President Barack Obama remains reluctant to commit any military support to the rebels, when only the crossing of a “red line” could convince him to change his policy. The rebels and the doctors on the scene may indeed believe that chemical weapons were used, since they fear such an attack, but they may not have the necessary knowledge and means to make such a diagnosis. The European Union demanded Wednesday that the UN inspectors be granted access to the new sites of alleged chemical attacks, but since this is not within the team’s mandate, it is unlikely that the Syrian government will do so.Stephen Johnson, an expert in weapons and chemical explosives at Cranfield Forensic Institute, said that the video footage looked suspect:

There are, within some of the videos, examples which seem a little hyper-real, and almost as if they’ve been set up. Which is not to say that they are fake but it does cause some concern. Some of the people with foaming, the foam seems to be too white, too pure, and not consistent with the sort of internal injury you might expect to see, which you’d expect to be bloodier or yellower.

Chemical and biological weapons researcher Jean Pascal Zanders said that the footage appears to show victims of asphyxiation, which is not consistent with the use of mustard gas or the nerve agents VX or sarin: “I’m deliberately not using the term chemical weapons here,” he said, adding that the use of “industrial toxicants” was a more likely explanation.

Michael Rivero asks:
1. Why would Syria’s Assad invite United Nations chemical weapons inspectors to Syria, then launch a chemical weapons attack against women and children on the very day they arrive, just miles from where they are staying?

2. If Assad were going to use chemical weapons, wouldn\rquote t he use them against the hired mercenary army trying to oust him? What does he gain attacking women and children? Nothing! The gain is all on the side of the US Government desperate to get the war agenda going again. As I type these words, US trained and equipped forces are already across the border into Syria, and US naval forces are sailing into position to launch a massive cruise missile attack into Syria that will surely kill more Syrians than were claimed to have died in the chemical attack.

Last time there was a chemical weapon attack in Syria, Bush administration office Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson said that he thought Israel might have given chemical weapons to the Syrian rebels to frame the government. British MP George Galloway just floated the same theory in regards to the new chemical weapon attack.

The evidence so far for the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian army is second-hand and comes from a biased source. Of course, we don’t know who carried out the attack, or what weapon was used. But given the well-documented fact that the U.S. has been planning regime change in Syria for 20 years straight – and planned to use false ploys for 50 years – it is worth being skeptical until all of the evidence is in. Indeed, many are asking whether this is Iraq War 2.0. For example, the Independent writes: Pictures showing that the Syrian army used chemical weapons against rebel-held Eastern Ghouta just east of Damascus are likely to be viewed sceptically because the claims so much resemble those made about Saddam Hussein’s possession of weapons of mass destruction (WMDs) before the US and British invasion of Iraq in 2003.

Like the Iraqi opposition to Saddam, who provided most of the evidence of WMDs, the Syrian opposition has every incentive to show the Syrian government deploying chemical weapons in order to trigger foreign intervention. But the obvious fact that for the Syrian government to use chemical weapons would be much against their own interests does not prove it did not happen. Governments and armies do stupid things. But it is difficult to imagine any compelling reason why they should do so since they have plenty of other means of killing people in Eastern Ghouta, such as heavy artillery or small arms, which they regularly use.The VOAG is watching, the VOAG is everywhere!

Miliband’s Plans To Break The Labour Party / Trade Union Link

Editorial of Newsline, Wednesday, 10 July 2013
Miliband wants to break with unions so Labour can form a national government with the Tories STANDING with the ‘One Nation’ Tory slogan behind him, Labour leader Miliband yesterday outlined his intention to wrest the Labour Party completely away from the trade unions and the organised working class that founded it.  He said: ‘I am here today to talk about how we can build a different kind of politics. That is what I mean by “One Nation”.’

He continued: ‘We will do so by shaping a Party appropriate for the twenty-first century not the twentieth century in which we were founded. We will represent the national interest.’  This is a joke, since today living standards are being driven back towards that period of history, and will get there once they have privatised the NHS and the Welfare State.
 Miliband added: ‘A hundred years ago the trade unions helped found the Labour Party. Decade by decade, from Neil Kinnock to John Smith to Tony Blair, we have been changing that relationship. And now in this generation, we must do so again to build the new politics, we need to do more, not less, to make individual trade union members part of our Party.’
Organised trade unions are to be put out of the party, and only allowed to donate to it – like the situation between the AFL-CIO and the Democrats in the US.

 In fact, the trade unions founded, built and financed the Labour Party to advance the cause of the working class, and used their block vote to keep the party from getting into the hands of the ruling class via the antics of middle class careerists who sought to make their political careers out of it.

 The case for the working class having that kind of class-based party today is huge, but this time to put an end to capitalism through revolution and not to try to reform it.  Miliband intends to continue from where Blair and Brown left off, to break the link between the organised working class in the trade unions and the Labour Party, and recognise only individual membership by trade unionists. He intends to end the remnants of the block vote that the unions have today, to turn the Labour Party into another US Democratic party.

The new politics ‘involves a diversity of candidates, from all backgrounds, selected in a fair way’ he says. This way turns out to be the introduction of US-type primaries to choose candidates in elections.
He added: ‘We live in a totally different era than when the Labour Party was founded. That is why Labour is increasingly becoming a community organisation.’  He continued: ‘Since I became Labour leader, we have opened up our policy making process and opened up the Party to registered supporters. People who do not want to join Labour but share our aims.

‘But I want to go further’. So I propose for the next London Mayoral election Labour will have a primary for our candidate selection.  ‘Any Londoner should be eligible to vote and all they will need to do is to register as a supporter of the Labour Party at any time up to the ballot.  ‘And Ray Collins will examine how to pioneer this idea elsewhere too. Such as in future Parliamentary selections where a sitting MP is retiring and where the local party has dwindled, and a primary could make for a more properly representative selection process.’

The Labour Party is to be just another bourgeois party, organising local campaigns governed by the national interest, that is the interests of the bosses. Today we have a Labour Party leadership that supports the Tory cuts, is pledged not to end them, and is pledged to bring in even more horrendous measures if they become necessary to save capitalism.
 This is why he wants the organised trade unions out of the Labour Party. He is freeing the Labour Party from the trade unions all the better to form a national government with the Tories to do what Ramsay MacDonald did in 1931, as the capitalist crisis worsens. The trade unions must fight Miliband’s plan tooth and nail. They must end all financing of the party till Miliband quits and Labour decides to fight the Tories and their austerity programme instead of, as currently, supporting them.The VOAG

Theses on inter-imperialist rivalries

The VOAG’s comrades at Socialist Fight sent the following statement explaining their (correct) position on contemporary imperialism.  The VOAG feels that it deserves a wider audience, and therefore has taken the step of publishing it. For PDF back issues of Socialist Fight journal, scroll down and click the links to the right. For the latest Socialist Fight journal contact: Socialist _ Fight@yahoo.co.uk

Gerry Downing, 18 May 2012
1. The US is still the hegemonic imperialist world power.
2. Its overwhelming military superiority and the dollar as world trading currency make it the main enemy. The situation is not like that before WWI and WWII when there was no clear dominant world imperialist power.
3. That being said the position of Marxism on inter-imperialist wars remains, dual defeatism and civil war against our own bourgeoisie – the main enemy is at home!
4. Though declining the US still has the ability to make alliances and force compliances far more than other imperialist power blocks which are only half-formed – the EU or China/Russia with Germany balancing between both.
5. In this situation semi-colonial countries like Syria or Iran are perfectly entitled to seek aid from Germany, Russia and China in defence of their own sovereignty, although we acknowledge they are giving it in defence of their own imperialist interests.
6. Attempts by the US to splinter its rivals e.g. South Ossetia/Georgia, the Ukraine, Tibet and the World Uyghur Congress must be politically opposed.
7. There is a major difference between the finance capital-dominated economies of the US and GB and their allies (as seen in the UN vote to attack Libya) and the industrial capitalist economies of Germany, Russia and China who abstained in that vote.
8. However this conflict is not between finance capital and industrial capital or between neo-liberal laissez-faire capitalism and Keynesian, ‘big state, social democratic’ capitalism.  All capitalist production is dominated by finance capital; it is the method of extraction of the surplus from the wage-labour of the workers.
9. Rather it is a conflict between two forms of capitalist exploitation, the one in which fictitious capital and the dollar as world trading currency was able to extract value from the rest of the capitalist world and the other where advanced technology and in particular heavy industry in Germany benefiting from the low exchange value of the Euro was able to dominate in both Germany and China with Russia benefiting from both.
10. Therefore we cannot alter our Leninist appreciation of world Imperialism and the anti-Imperialist rivalries emerging as US Imperialism weakens relative to its rivals and which will produce WWIII but we must understand the differences behind the conflicts in formulating our own tactical approach to this crisis.The VOAG