Tag Archives: Ron Paul

Telfs 2015: where the hollow men of Bilderberg see no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil

The InterAlpen Hotel is vast pyramidal complex that soars atop the pine forests close to the ski resort of Seefeld and brings to mind Hitler’s magnificent “Eagle’s Nest” (Kehlsteinhaus) retreat perched high in the mountains above Obersalzberg, approximately one hundred kilometers east along the same northern border of Austria (as the eagle flies). Gathered there above the mists for their annual “private” meeting last weekend, the attendees of the Bilderberg group came for what purpose?

InterAlpen Hotel nr Seefeld, Austria

 

Hitler’s “Eagle’s Nest”

To begin to answer this question we must straightaway acknowledge two points. Firstly, that Bilderberg is just part (presumably a key part) of an extensive network of private groups, institutes, ‘think tanks’ and other meetings that include, in descending order of secrecy, the Trilateral Commission, the US Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), its UK cousin the Royal Institute of International Affairs (better known as Chatham House), and the World Economic Forum in Davos. Bilderberg is the most prestigious and certainly the most “private” of all these.

Secondly, each of these Anglo-American establishment organisations is structured around its own internal hierarchy. At the head of Bilderberg, we have its Steering Committee, and so, for the newbies and the underlings turning up in Austria, the motivation is likely to be rather different than for the true movers and shakers.

To the parvenus, invitation opens the door to what is surely the world’s premier networking event. And between the frenetic bouts of lobbying, we should imagine there is time enough for altogether more obsequious displays of bowing and scraping. But what about the old guard? Do they too set aside this blank space in their busy diaries just to go and fawn over one another whilst marshalling the initiation of the latest cohort of Bilderberg fags.* For if Bilderberg is really as innocuous as its members claim, then this must be all that ever happens inside its cloistered halls.

Or put differently, we might respectfully ask: for what reasons was Bilderberg founded? What was and is its raison d’être?

* Note of clarification: ‘fag’ in this context is simply English public school-ese for a freshman.

*

There are no eyes here

Once upon a time there was no such creature as the Bilderberg club. It was rumoured to exist, but the rumours were evidently nonsensical. How could any such meeting of the world’s richest and most powerful people be kept a secret? Furthermore, since the only person who claimed proof of the group’s existence, a man by the name of Jim Tucker (self-described as a journalist) had nothing substantial to show us, he was plainly delusional. Decades spent shinning up drainpipes and clambering around the bushes of faraway five-star hotels in the forlorn hope of seeing just a glimpse of this imaginary band of furtive elites had clearly taken its toll. “Big Jim” would write reports to the effect that he had personally tracked Bilderberg down to locations all over the western world, but the serious media sensibly kept a wide berth. “Big Jim” was totally paranoid. They knew there was nothing to see.

Then in 2001, along came oddball human interest reporter Jon Ronson. He had heard about Jim Tucker and fancied going along on one of his legendary wild goose chases. A trail that soon led them to a remote hotel in Portugal where bewitched by Tucker’s stories, Ronson fell under his spell and began seeing the scurrying politicians and plutocrats for himself: a figure very like Peter Mandelson peering out of the tinted windows of a coach, and there were major league corporate bosses too, as well as billionaires such as the wrathlike David Rockefeller, all sneaking through the hotel gates in the backseats of limousines and taxi cabs. Sheer madness.

The tale of Ronson’s adventure in Portugal featured as the fifth and final part of the Channel 4 documentary series The Secret Rulers of the World. The fantasy of the late Jim Tucker, vindicated as strange fact, with Ronson finally shifting the focus to ask what really does go on at the clandestine gatherings of Bilderberg? He called upon a couple of attendees to speak on Bilderberg’s behalf, one being former Labour bigwig Denis Healey, but apparently there was nothing worth speaking about. Schmoozing. High security schmoozing. Nothing more.

Jon Ronson was later interviewed by Neil Davenport, a freelance TV and film critic:

‘What I’m trying to say with these programmes’, says Ronson, ‘is that the crazy people are on to something, but what they’re on to is very different to what they imagined it to be’.

However Ronson is much too quick in leaping to his own conclusions, and especially when he explains to Davenport that:

‘They [conspiracy theorists] believe that businessmen or judges should be making decisions, as they’re not corrupt. But by taking power away from politicians, they want to take power away from the electorate too.’ 1

I wonder who he imagines he is speaking for. For Bilderberg is what it is. A private meeting place for a clique of corporate privateers (including convicted felons) evidently intent upon “taking power away from the electorate” (as Ronson puts it) and into the crooked hands of political lackeys. The elected politicians who do go there, go to swap notes, and most certainly not to dictate policy:

It is very easy to write off the Bilderberg Group, which met in utter secrecy in Watford a week ago, as just a private get-together of high-powered colleagues from across the Western world which regularly meets to exchange views. That was the view peddled by Ken Clarke amid much buffoonery and mockery in the Commons. It is equally easy, as the BBC did the day before, to get a ranter of dubious credibility [viz. Alex Jones] to go over the top in portraying Bilderberg as a secretive worldwide conspiracy. Neither of these presentations stand up to any serious scrutiny, but establishing the realities is difficult partly because of the secrecy in which the whole operation is shrouded. But there are some significant leads.

So wrote Labour MP Michael Meacher after the group came to England in 2013. Meacher was the single British Member of Parliament bold enough to make a speech to the thousands who went to protest. I was there and videoed his speech (posted on youtube and embedded in an earlier post).

In the same article, Meacher delves a little deeper, starting with the group’s extremely unsavoury post-war origins:

Bilderberg was founded in 1954 by Prince Bernhard of the Netherlands. He was a Nazi party member from 1933-37 who resigned one day after his controversial marriage to the future Queen of the Netherlands. In 1934 he was the subject of a report by a US Congress committee which identified him as an SS officer attached to the Nazi government’s principal industrial ally, IG Farben. The minutes of the first Bilderberg meeting declared their aim as “to evolve an international order which would look beyond the present day crisis. When the time is ripe our present concepts of world affairs should be extended to the whole world”. 2

Click here to read Michael Meacher’s full article “The Bilderberg smell still lingers”.

This stated aim, “to evolve an international order”, sounds oddly like the rather more paranoid sounding claim: that Bilderberg is out to construct a “new world order”. But the very term “new world order”, which has been used by such luminaries as George Bush Sr., Bill Clinton, Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Henry Kissinger, adds a lot more heat than light. For what do they mean by it? And coming back to Bilderberg (where all five of the aforementioned have attended) how could such an ambitious goal be realisable given that its membership, although highly exclusive, is constantly evolving? Isn’t it only Bond villains who dream of such world domination…

Yet members of Bilderberg rarely deny, at least, when cornered on the subject, that they are striving in part for the formation of a fully-functioning world government. It is most urgent, they say, if we are ever to bring about peace and prosperity, adding that these can only be achieved through effective ‘global governance’ and ‘internationalism’. But this is deceptive, of course – deliberately so – since aside from being composed of warmongers of the first degree (and I shall list further attendees as we proceed), the globalists who head Bilderberg are clearly not very serious when it comes to fostering good relations between all nations. Rather, they would prefer that the nation state wither away altogether, to be replaced by supranational bodies.

More honestly stated Bilderberg (headed by a mix of international financiers, corporate bosses and, perhaps more surprisingly, a number of European monarchs) alongside its affiliated Anglo-American institutions and bodies (mentioned above) are primarily intent to expand their already well-established corporate empire. They prefer to do this by a steady process of transformation rather than forcing an abrupt revolution; taking baby steps as they set about reforming international relations and recreating a world without borders, hence “global”. The latest moves include the introduction of TPP and TTIP – “free trade agreements” that will further dismantle national sovereignty.

So if you were to sum up their admitted goal in just three words then ‘globalist corporate hegemony’ fits perfectly. Alternatively, you might sum up the organisation with these three instead: organised crime syndicate. Frankly, if they didn’t own half the world already, including the major media outlets, don’t you think they would be behind bars by now?

Jim Tucker’s exposure of Bilderberg took tenacity and great courage. Not only did his investigations put him in immediate danger, but penetrating Bilderberg meant trusting his instincts and believing his own eyes. It is easy to mock “Big Jim”, as Ronson does gently throughout the documentary, and right to question his judgment in other ways (for instance, his dewy-eyed weakness for Margaret Thatcher). Nevertheless, Tucker was also a trailblazer.

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This broken jaw of our lost kingdoms

In this last of meeting places
We grope together
And avoid speech

(apologies to T.S. Eliot) 3

Although the group cloaks itself in secrecy, it does have a spokesman who, not surprisingly, asked not to be named. He said Bilderberg operates in private to foster meaningful debate on the big issues of the day.

“While we understand and generally welcome the general interest in the conference, we simply cannot provide the levels of access or transparency that certain individuals or groups would like to see,” the spokesman said in an email. “To encourage the highest level of openness and dialogue among the participants, and to keep the private character of the meetings, all participants respect the Chatham House Rule.” 4

This comes from an article published in the Washington Times on the eve of the meeting [Thurs 11th].

It came as a surprise to many, myself included, that a group which had feigned its own nonexistence until about a decade ago, now employs a spokesman, albeit an entirely anonymous one. More surprising again, is his/her claim that the Bilderberg group “welcome the general interest in the conference”, especially since this was not what the handful of reporters on the ground had been saying. But then, if Bilderberg was suddenly so open to outside interest why is there any “news blackout” (as the story’s own headline puts it) at all? In fact, why didn’t the Washington Times dispatch some of its own reporters directly to Austria? Charlie Skelton, who was there on the ground and reporting for the Guardian (although not the front page of course), supplies part of the answer:

The clock has struck midnight. The dream is over. Back at the G7 summit, barely a day and 20 miles from here, I was treated like a prince. I was one of the chosen 3,000 journalists who were primped, pampered, fed and burped, given free T-shirts, gallons of goulash, buckets of booze, and all the cheesy footage of world leaders we could swallow. We lay back on our branded beanbags and were tickled silly by the gentle fist of the G7 PR machine. But not any more. The beanbag has burst.

Taken from his second report of his annual “Bilderblog”.

That was Wednesday [June 10th] and the latest crop of the hundred and more attendees hadn’t even arrived at this year’s luxury venue in the Alps. Skelton was one of just a tiny handful of journalists (the mainstream media’s sole reporter), but security was already firmly locked down, and about to tighten:

“Step out of the vehicle and show me your identification!” A group of Austrian police officers took up position round my car. I pulled on the handbrake and opened the door. I swear to God one young officer shifted his hand to the butt of his sidearm, like I was about to rush them. All 12 of them. All armed. Maybe if there had only been 10 I might have taken them down using a slingshot improvised from my shoelaces, but not 12. I might be crazy but I’m not nuts. 5

Some 2,000 Austrian police including “Cobra” special forces had been drafted to guard the hotel and surrounding woods. There to patrol exclusion zones that extended quite literally miles, with military helicopters circling overhead, as well as the Bilderberg’s own anti-aircraft radar system. 6 Checkpoints into the neighbouring village of Telfs sent a stark message to both public and press alike to keep away:

Charlie Skelton compared the manner in which these very same security services, so courteous at G7 (to the press, at least – G7 was locked down to exclude public protests), were suddenly acting in a far more provocative manner. And later that night, his personal experience of police harassment was to intensify considerably:

I had three Austrian policemen in my hotel room last night. They stood there all grim faced with their fluorescent bibs, torches and sidearms. It was like the worst ever fancy dress party. I offered them a pilsner. They declined. They were too busy checking my ID that had been carefully checked 10 minutes prior at a police checkpoint. And carefully checked two minutes prior to that, at another police checkpoint.

This was his report from Thursday [June 11th]. The conference still yet to begin, but police and security services going out of their way to be as unaccommodating to journalists as possible. Once again, Skelton draws comparison to what he had experienced at the G7 only days earlier:

In my trouser pocket I found a “Medienhandbuch” from the G7, which I was given in my goodie bag when I was accredited there. By the light of a police searchlight, which was trained on me like I was trying to escape Stalag 17, I read out passages to my guards to pass the time. “Experienced staff from the Federal Government will be happy to help you with your work …” An officer interrupted. “Your address please.” It was on my driving licence in his hand. This was getting silly. 7

Silly, yes, but Skelton knows very well why he had become such a centre of attention. This was not the first time he found himself on the wrong side of the Bilderberg cordons:

The thing is, I never really came here to “cover” Bilderberg. I just thought it would be funny to hang out at the cordon and wear T-shirts saying things like “NOBILIZATION!”. It’s really very peculiar to look back at my first report and watch myself pretending to dodge spooks on dark streets. Ha ha ha. And now? I’ve hidden twice in the same stairwell in Athens to try to shake off the men following me. I have a favourite bolthole in Athens city centre. That’s how much my life has changed.

I’ve grappled with men in a Metro station; I’ve screamed for help in Omonoia Square; I’ve shouted “You’re lying to me!” at detectives in an Athens police station; I’ve grabbed a man riding off on a motorbike and begged him – almost in tears – to “leave me alone”; I’ve been yelled at, arrested, followed, searched, shoved, maligned, intimidated, doubted and lied to. So many lies.

This was Skelton’s personal initiation to Bilderberg when the group met near Athens in May 2009. The way he was treated freaked him out big time, just as it had freaked out Jon Ronson when he was chased by security during the Portuguese meeting in Sintra of 1999.

As Skelton concluded in the same Guardian article:

I’ve told the truth about what has happened to me this week. I wonder if the various British politicians who have attended Bilderberg 2009 could bring themselves to tell the truth about how they spent their time. I wonder if someone better than me, a better reporter, a more powerful voice, a politician even, could ask them. Anyone?

My dispatches on the 2009 conference, if they mean anything at all, represent nothing more acutely than the absence of thorough mainstream reporting. I am pretty much the opposite of what’s needed. I am a joke. These dispatches are a travesty. A travesty of a mockery of a sham of a mockery of a travesty of two mockeries of a sham. A disgrace to the good name of journalism. I should be ashamed. 8

Click here to read Charlie Skelton’s full article.

And as he pointed out in his first report for this year’s “Bilderblog”, entitled “Forget the G7 summit – Bilderberg is where the big guns go”:

Bilderberg 2015 has an extremely high-powered participant list, featuring a large number of senior politicians and public figures. With participants this powerful, and an agenda containing this many hot topics, the Telfs policy conference is sure to be covered in depth by the world’s press. And by “sure to be”, I mean probably won’t be. For reasons that, as ever, escape me. 9

A comment beneath his article reads:

“For reasons that, as ever, escape me.”

“Reason, as ever, escapes me.” There you go, Charlie. Fixed it for you.

A second added:

Oh, there you are…. Every year, like clock work, to spread your move along- nothing to see here- cheer….

Anticipation for what you might add to the discussion is ever hopeful!

But the reasons don’t escape Skelton. He knows the score too and these comments are unfair. Skelton is as much humourist as journalist (very much like Jon Ronson in this regard), and his understated, laconic delivery presumably helps persuade his vacillating editor that it’s safe to send him back to the Bilderberg frontline. Skelton knows – since we all know – that the reason the press coverage is scant (to say the least) is not because the press is disinterested, but because they are hugely compromised.

For every mainstream outlet has close, whether direct or indirect, associations with Bilderberg. For instance, the Guardian’s former editor Alan Rusbridger, who is still on the board of the Scott Trust which owns the Guardian and the Observer, is a former governor of the Ditchley Foundation , whose current governors also include (to offer a flavour) Lord Aldington, former Chairman of Deutsche Bank London, Robert Conway, Senior Director of Goldman Sachs International, Constanze Stelzenmüller senior fellow of the Brookings Institution, Sir Jeremy Greenstock, both former diplomat and former Director of the Ditchley Foundation, as well as, John Sawers, ex-Chief of MI6. In short, Ditchley is a mini-Bilderberg group. Indeed, membership crosses over between the groups: so, for instance, John Sawers was at last year’s Bilderberg meeting in Copenhagen as well as this year’s meeting in Telfs-Buchen.

Others on this year’s official list (which is reliably incomplete) included Zanny Minton Beddoes, Editor-in-Chief of The Economist; Martin Wolf, Chief Economics Commentator at The Financial Times; John Micklethwait, Editor-in-Chief of Bloomberg LP; Merete Eldrup, CEO of TV 2 Danmark A/S (a publicly owned Danish television station), and perhaps more surprisingly, Rona Fairhead, Chairman of the BBC Trust. The media are, as always, exceedingly well represented. Because, if you wish to silence the press, you need to involve them.

Charlie Skelton’s final “Bilderblog” report of 2015 expands on the same theme. Apparently it wasn’t just the press keeping schtum about events in Austria:

Weaving down the alp came the Bilderbus, taking delegates on a whistlestop tour of the Tyrol. Buzzing along above it, at a crazy height, was its helicopter escort. I swear I could have bounced a euro off the roof of the coach and into the blades. If I’d wanted to have been dropped by an NSA sniper.

In the coach below it must have been like being in a washing machine. No wonder the delegates on board looked grumpy. Sitting up front, Jessica T Mathews had a face like thunder. Although maybe the cause of her headache wasn’t the helicopter, but rather the howling contradiction of being on the steering committee of the world’s most secretive policy summit and also on the advisory council of Transparency International USA.

Also on the bus was James Wolfensohn. A fellow member of TI-USA’s advisory council, Wolfensohn was the joint winner of their 2014 “integrity award”, an honour he shared with that other famous transparency campaigner, and the world’s fourth-biggest arms company, Raytheon. Previous winners of the integrity award include (and I kid you not) Coca-Cola, General Electric and the then secretary of state Hillary Rodham Clinton. The great email deleter herself. I think someone should tell TI-USA what “transparency” means. There may have been a mix-up somewhere down the line.

When it comes to transparency, this year’s Bilderberg summit fails in every way imaginable. Three prime ministers, two foreign ministers, one president, no press conference. No public oversight. Just a bunch of senior policymakers locked away for three days with some incredibly powerful corporate lobbyists, discussing subjects intimately related to public policy. Subjects such as “globalisation” and “current economic issues”, which in practical terms mean the giant trade deal, the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Click here to read more from Charlie Skelton’s excellent “Bilderblog”

Where once there was a deadening silence over Bilderberg, at least there is a little more coverage across the European media these days. But now that Bilderberg officially exists, they would prefer us to simply yawn-yawn about the jaw-jaw. Nothing to hear here.

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Rats’ feet over broken glass

The trouble with Eichmann was precisely that so many were like him, and that the many were neither perverted nor sadistic, that they were, and still are, terribly and terrifyingly normal. From the viewpoint of our legal institutions and of our moral standards of judgment, this normality was much more terrifying than all the atrocities put together, for it implied — as had been said at Nuremberg over and over again by the defendants and their counsels — that this new type of criminal, who is in actual fact hostis generis humani [“enemy of mankind”], commits his crimes under circumstances that make it well-nigh impossible for him to know or to feel that he is doing wrong. 10

So wrote Hannah Arendt after she had watched Adolf Eichmann testify during his trial in Jerusalem in 1961. What shocked her most of all was how this evil and powerful man (relatively speaking) could be so dull, so mediocre, and so absolutely unrepentant. Arendt was searching for a philosophical explanation for this, but is there one? Or even a psychological account?

Arendt perhaps is better known for coining the phrase “the banality of evil”, which she repeats on a number of occasions throughout her works, although she never precisely defines what she means by it. One approximate definition she did give goes along the lines that ‘the banality of evil wasn’t the presence of something, but its absence – something you expected to be there, but just isn’t’ 11

Today we might talk about the sociopath and the psychopath (Arendt does not speculate much in this regard), which is another subject journalist Jon Ronson went on to explore in his more recent study, The Psychopath Test.

Ever the gentle persuader, in a few hundred pages, Ronson conveys the opinion that psychopathy is under-diagnosed even more frequently than it is over-diagnosed, being very nearly as difficult to identify, as it is impossible to treat (according to current wisdom). He also points to how psychopaths and sociopaths tend to see themselves as respectable and normal, and importantly, how they possess character traits enabling them to become highly successful:

It wasn’t only Bob [Hare – author of the Psychopathy Checklist] who believed that a disproportionate number of psychopaths can be found in high places. In the days after Essi Viding had first mentioned the theory to me I spoke to scores of psychologists who all said exactly the same. One was Martha Stout from the Harvard Medical School and author of The Sociopath Next Door. (You may be wondering what the difference is between a psychopath and a sociopath, and the answer is, there really isn’t one. Psychologists and psychiatrists around the world tend to use the terms interchangeably.) They are everywhere, she said. They are in the crowded restaurant where you have your lunch. They are in your open-plan office. […]

‘Sociopaths love power. They love winning. If you take loving kindness out of the human brain there’s not much left except the will to win.’

‘Which means you’ll find a preponderance of them at the top of the tree?’ I said.

‘Yes,’ she said, ‘The higher you go up the ladder the greater the number of sociopaths you’ll find there.’ 12

Henry Kissinger was attending this year’s Bilderberg confab just as he attends nearly every Bilderberg meeting. He has been an insider since its inception and there are few, if any, Bilderberg insiders more powerful or sociopathic than Kissinger. This superstar of Bilderberg holds the accolade for being both a Nobel Peace Prize laureate and the single greatest war criminal alive. So did those sharing a glass of wine with him at the InterAlpen Hotel stop to ask about his involvement in the overthrow of elected governments across Latin America, about the death squads and the torture rooms, or about the napalm raining down on the children of Indochina? We can only guess.

As Martha Stout explained to Ronson, those with psychopathic leaning tend to doubt that such a thing as conscience really exists in any case, or alternatively, believe that the rest of us are too restrained by it, and should instead be more relaxed in their morals like they are. A big reason, of course, why being psychopathic helps one to get ahead.

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Aside from the official list of participants (always incomplete, but indicative nonetheless) there are a few other clues posted on the Bilderberg official website (up since 2010) that offer a glimpse of what might laughingly be described as this year’s ‘agenda’:

Back in the 1950s, when Bernhard sent out the invitations, it was to discuss “a number of problems facing western civilization”. These days, the Bilderberg Group prefers to call them “megatrends”. The megatrends on this year’s agenda include: “What next for Europe?”, “Ukraine”, “Intelligence sharing” and “Does privacy exist?”

That comes from another Charlie Skelton report but on last year’s 60th anniversary meeting in Copenhagen, when Bilderberg first officially posted its ‘agenda’. As Skelton points out:

That’s an exquisite irony: the world’s most secretive conference discussing whether privacy exists. Certainly for some it does. It’s not just birthday bunting that’s gone up in Copenhagen: there’s also a double ring of three-metre (10ft) high security fencing. The hotel is teeming with security: lithe gentlemen in loose slacks and dark glasses, trying not to kill the birthday vibe. Or anyone else. 13

This year’s “megatrends” had become fifteen “key topics for discussion”. 14 Bullet points again, no details. So we are left to interpret as we might do the silently drifting spots on a radar screen. Or, after dark, upon hearing the clink of empty bottles and the unseen rustle of rummaging about the dustbin…

That ‘Greece’ floats high amongst the fifteen items hardly comes as a surprise. Nor was it surprising to learn that no actual representatives of the Greek government were invited to attend the meeting. Syriza were never any part of the Bilderberg set.

According to the list, discussion also ventured into matters concerning the ‘United Kingdom’ and ‘European Strategy’. While other “key topics for discussion” dealt with the ‘Middle East’, ‘Iran’, ‘Russia’, ‘Terrorism’, ‘Chemical Weapons Threats’ and ‘NATO’. So what can we make of these bullet points, aside from discerning the contempt which Bilderberg holds for the general public, teasing us by withholding all but this shopping list of its secret dealings, whilst making a pretence of greater openness.

Well, the consensus at Bilderberg – shared by both top globalist elites and their flunkeys alike (you only get an invite if you fit one of these categories) – consists in two main parts: a zealotry for neo-liberal economics and a partial taste (at the very least) for neo-conservative foreign policy. Of course, neo-liberalism was normalised long ago, and very much thanks to ex-Bilderberger Margaret Thatcher. For is there any self-respecting politician or media hack who is not a devout neo-liberalist these days? By contrast, neo-conservatism lost what little allure it ever held once Bush and Blair had wrung out the last drops of post-9/11 sympathy to legitimise their retaliatory slaughter of farmers in Afghanistan and Iraq.

But after Bush and Blair left office, rather than signalling an end to the bloodletting, the foreign adventuring continued unabated, initially by means of Obama’s expansion into drone warfare, and subsequently with Nato’s “kinetic action” which brought “shock and awe” first to Libya, and then thanks to covert support for our Islamist proxies, spread the ensuing chaos to Syria and into Iraq (yet again). These endless wars are now sanctioned by a new breed of ‘humanitarian bombers’ though they were mostly instigated by such avowed neo-cons as Richard Perle and David Petraeus (the convicted felon whose role was so central to the fall of Libya), both of whom were back at Bilderberg this year.

It is according to such ideologies that ordinary people are either crushed by the market’s ‘invisible hand’, or else, in more distant places, flayed by the neo-imperialist sword of “intervention”. Neo-liberalism translating into ceaseless cuts to public services and the never-ending sell-off of national assets, yet always set against the need for additional tax monies to be redirected to fund drone strikes and bombing raids against the insurgents/terrorists/despotic regimes – a single airstrike costing as much as £1 million.

Returning more specifically to consider Bilderberg’s list of fifteen items under discussion, and Greece is perhaps their most urgent priority: Syriza’s resoluteness causing a tremendous headache for the bankers and their political cronies (who make up the bigger half of every Bilderberg conference). For though Syriza refuses to sever its financial ties with Europe (for perfectly sound economic reasons), it equally refuses to submit to further punishment in the form of continuing “austerity”. Worst of all, it is gaining in popularity.

As a number establishment figures have candidly announced, it is of paramount importance that the Greeks are seen to lose in their fight against “austerity”. For a reversal would possibly trigger a domino effect: an extraordinary political realignment with the rise of genuine ‘pro-democracy’ parties across the Mediterranean. Greece is therefore a powder keg for the powers-that-be, and so ‘Grexit’, although destabilising the broader European project, appears to have become a preferred option for those who see repayment of debts as sacrosanct. What comes next for Greece, if they do not fall into line? Wasn’t this the real question behind the Bilderberg bullet point…?

Meanwhile, the ‘United Kingdom’ now presents a problem of a related but diametrically opposite kind. The danger that one of Europe’s largest economies (on paper at least) might soon vote to exit the European Union is hardly a step forward in any grander visions of globalisation. So ‘Brexit’, as it is already being called, is unlikely to be viewed so favourably as ‘Grexit’.

Otherwise, given the familiar Bilderberg mix of delegates, liberally spiced with neo-cons and military top brass, compounded by such a stack of the old enemies piled up on that list of “key topics for discussion”, oughtn’t we to presume a further push for war? Since no-one at Bilderberg is telling, we are, as always, left to conjecture (or else to think nothing more about any of it).

‘It is a frightening and huge thought,’ I [Jon Ronson] said, ‘that the ninety-nine per cent of us wandering around down here are having our lives pushed and pulled around by that psychopathic fraction up there.’

‘It is a large thought,’ she [Martha Stout] said. ‘It is a thought people don’t have very often. Because we’re raised to believe that deep down everyone has conscience.’ 15

Click here to read the full press release on the Bilderberg official website.

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Oddly, this year’s official list of attendees was also reprinted by the Daily Mail in an article entitled “Revealed: Guestlist for secretive Bilderberg includes Osborne, Balls, BBC Trust chief, spies, bankers and royalty”. A headline which rather succinctly encapsulates who really runs the show – with Ed Balls serving the coffee apparently:

Those on the guest list this week include the heads of banking and financial giants including Deutsche Bank, Santander, AXA Group, JP Morgan, HSBC, BlackRock and Goldman Sachs.

Senior figures from Royal Dutch Shell, BP, AXA Group, Google, Airbus, Fiat Chrysler, LinkedIn, Siemens and Ryanair are also expected.[…]

Senior figures from around the world include Princess Beatrix of the Netherlands, Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte, the President of Austria Heinz Fischer, Belgian Prime Minister Charles Michel and ministers from Sweden, the US, Germany, Denmark, Switzerland and the Netherlands.

Jim Messina, a former Obama adviser who worked on David Cameron’s election winning campaign in Britain, is also on the list. [further thoughts at the end]

Guests also include Thomas Ahrenkiel, director of the Danish Intelligence Service, former European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso and Nato General Secretary Jens Stolberg. [all emphasis added]

But still The Mail can’t resist the worn-out distraction about “conspiracy theorists”, adding:

Conspiracy theorists believe this is where leaders plot world domination. 16

As one of the comments posted beneath read:

There is no conspiring going on here. Just folks getting together to discuss how best to run the world for their own benefit. 17

You can read earlier reports about the previous four Bilderberg meetings in St Moritz 2011, Chantilly 2012, Watford 2013 (where I personally joined the protests) and Copenhagen 2014 by clicking on the Bilderberg tag below.

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Additional: ‘US elections’

American political adviser Jim Messina is getting credit for leading conservative British Prime Minister David Cameron to an overwhelming, if surprising victory, but he said Friday that once he comes back to the United States, he’s Hillary Clinton “all the time.”

“I’m coming home tomorrow and it’s whatever it will take to get Hillary [elected],” Messina said on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” program.

Click here to read more at newsmax.com

Bilderberg has a long history of inviting future Prime Ministers and Presidents to its conference. Thatcher in 1975 and Clinton in 1991 are the two best known examples, but there are many others. Before being elected as Canadian Prime Ministers, Pierre Trudeau (1968), Paul Martin (1996), Jean Chrétien (also 1996) and current PM Stephen Harper (2003) had all attended Bilderberg meetings, as did US President Gerald Ford (1964, 1966) and British PMs Tony Blair (1993) and Gordon Brown (1991).

This time around we have instead an election advisor, Jim Messina, who helped the Tories to victory in last month’s General Election and is suddenly linked to one of the forerunners in the 2016 campaign, Hillary Clinton. Added to which we know that the last item of Bilderberg’s stated fifteen “key topics for discussion” was ‘US Elections’. Not that Hillary is new to Bilderberg…

But we should keep in mind that Bilderberg is a cross-party event, so why put all of its eggs into one party political basket? If Hillary is the preferred choice for Democratic nomination (as it appears), then who might they choose for the red corner?

In his first major international appearance since signaling his readiness to run for office, the former governor of Florida acknowledged that some might question the setting of his speech. “One possible question which might be asked is: why is an American politician who might run for president in Berlin, Germany? And not in places like Berlin, New Hampshire, or Berlin, Iowa?

“The short answer is, this journey has other purposes.

That is taken from a Guardian report on Jeb Bush’s recent visit to Germany and his appearance in Berlin shortly after the G7 summit. It continues (a little further on):

His address to business leaders was the highlight of a visit which included discussions with politicians and policy makers. The trip was organised by a Bush family friend, former World Bank chief Robert Zoellick, who was also involved in reunification negotiations as the elder Bush’s White House adviser. 18

Two days later, his friend Robert Zoellick, now of Goldman Sachs, was at the meeting in Telfs. Zoellick holds a seat on the Bilderberg steering committee. Rumour has it that Jeb may have quietly followed him up there.

Another regular Bilderberg attendee in Telfs was Peter Thiel. Thiel, a venture capitalist and hedge fund manager, was a co-founder of PayPal and is also a major investor in Facebook. During the 2008 US Presidential elections, Thiel had endorsed Ron Paul, and then again during the 2012 elections, Thiel and the other PayPal co-founders, Luke Nosek and Scott Banister, “put their support behind the Endorse Liberty Super PAC” to elect Ron Paul. 19

Since then, Peter Thiel has switched his allegiance to Ron Paul’s son Rand:

In his Playbook newsletter Sunday, Politico’s Mike Allen reported Paul, who is considering a presidential bid in 2016, “had private sit-downs with the investor Peter Thiel and Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg” while at the conference. Allen described Paul’s presence at the confab as “another sign of how far he has come since his insurgent victory as a Tea Party torch-bearer.” 20

Rand Paul, who back on April 7th announced he was running for President, is mistaken by many, especially libertarians, as a political outsider, when in fact he has been and continues to be openly backed by Peter Thiel who sits alongside José Barroso, Jean-Claude Trichet, Richard Perle, Robert Zoellick, and others, also on the Bilderberg steering committee 21.

*

Update: before, during and after Telfs 2015

On the eve of the meeting, Luke Rudkowski spoke with veteran Bilderberg reporter Mark Anderson – a very informative and insightful discussion:

 

Luke Rudkowski covers the high security at Telfs (including scrambled jets) and the street protests:

 

On the way home, Marie-Josée and Henry Kravis were confronted by Press for Truth reporter, Dan Dicks, at Innsbruck airport security checks.

 

Henry Kravis, the co-founder of private equity firm KKR (or Kohlberg Kravis Roberts & Co.), is one of the wealthiest people on earth. He is a trustee of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) and has been a political sponsor of both George Bush Sr. and John McCain. His wife Marie-Josée serves on the international advisory board of the Federal Reserve.

In May 2013, Henry Kravis, a member of the Steering Committee, had appointed David Petraeus as Chairman of KKR Global Institute saying, “I have long known and respected General Petraeus”:

 

Meanwhile, also spotted in Innsbruck was James Wolfensohn, former President of the World Bank, an honorary trustee of the Brookings Institute, and a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, who supposedly wasn’t there at all!

 

Finally, here are Dan Dicks, Luke Rudkowski and Jeff Berwick comparing the treatment they received at G7 with that at Bilderberg:

*

1 From a review of “The Secret Rulers of the World” written by Neil Davenport, published in Spiked magazine on May 4, 2001. http://www.spiked-online.com/newsite/article/11666#.VXxysFKKWUk

2 From an article entitled “The Bilderberg smell still lingers” written by Michael Meacher, published on June 19, 2013. http://www.michaelmeacher.info/weblog/2013/06/the-bilderberg-smell-still-lingers/ 

3 Stolen lines misappropriated from T.S.Eliot’s The  Hollow Men (as are the headings for each section)

4 From an article entitled “Bilderberg Group meets amid conspiracy theories, heavy security, news blackout” written by Dave Boyer, published in the Washington Times on June 11, 2015. http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2015/jun/11/bilderberg-group-meets-amid-heavy-security-news-bl/?page=all#pagebreak

5 From an article entitled “At the G7, we journalists were pampered – at Bilderberg we’re harassed by police” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 10, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/10/at-g7-we-journalists-pampered-bilderberg-we-harassed-by-police

6

Some 2,100 extra police will be on duty over the coming days, with protesters planning to stage a demonstration on Saturday, and the only road leading to the hotel is blocked.

And for good measure, the Kronen-Zeitung tabloid cited the military as saying a “special low-altitude radar is in position and Kiowa helicopters armed with machine guns are carrying out patrols”.

From an article entitled “Never mind the G7 or Davos, it’s Bilderberg time” written by Simon Sturdee, published in Business Insider on June 11, 2015. http://www.businessinsider.com/afp-never-mind-the-g7-or-davos-its-bilderberg-time-2015-6?IR=T

7 From an article entitled “Bilderberg 2015: where criminals mingle with ministers” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 11, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/11/continual-police-checks-ruining-bilderberg-party

8 From an article entitled “Our man at Bilderberg: Fear my pen” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on May 18, 2009. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2009/may/18/bilderberg-charlie-skelton-dispatch

9 From an article entitled “Forget the G7 summit – Bilderberg is where the big guns go” written by Charlie Skelton, published in the Guardian on June 8, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/jun/08/bilderberg-summit-forget-the-g7

10 From the Epilogue of Eichmann in Jerusalem: A report on the Banality of Evil written by Hannah Arendt, published in 1963.

11 Taken from an interview given by Errol Morris, director of the documentary “The Unknown Known” about Donald Rumsfeld, in which he discusses what was satisfying about making the film. Morris says he has always been fascinated by one of Hannah Arendt’s definitions of the phrase “The Banality of Evil,” even before her article “Eichmann in Jerusalem”:

She said that the banality of evil wasn’t the presence of something. It’s the absence of something. Something that you would expect to be there, but just isn’t. And maybe, that’s what this film is about.

12 Taken from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry,Ch4,  pp117–9, by Jon Ronson, published by Picador, 2011.

13 From an article entitled “Bilderberg at 60: inside the world’s most secretive conference” written by Charlie Skelton, published by the Guardian on May 29, 2014. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/may/29/bilderberg-60-inside-worlds-most-secretive-conference

14 Key topics listed in the official press release include:

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Cybersecurity
  • Chemical Weapons Threats
  • Current Economic Issue
  • European Strategy
  • Globalisation
  • Greece
  • Iran
  • Middle East
  • NATO
  • Russia
  • Terrorism
  • United Kingdom
  • USA
  • US Elections

15 Taken from The Psychopath Test: A Journey Through the Madness Industry,Ch4,  pp117–9, by Jon Ronson, published by Picador, 2011.

16 From an article entitled “Revealed: Guestlist for secretive Bilderberg includes Osborne, Balls, BBC Trust chief, spies, bankers and royalty” written by Matt Chorley, published in the Daily Mail on June 8, 2015. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3115748/Guestlist-secretive-Bilderberg-Conference.html#comments

17 Another, very much in the spirit of the late, great Bill Hicks, reads:

“I figured this out. They are having these secret meetings because they planning to bestow us with a wonderful surprise. They don’t want us to know what it is or the surprise shall [be] ruined.”

This one is Plainer again (refreshingly so):

“It makes the Mafia look honest.”

18 From an article entitled “Jeb Bush in Berlin: remember my dad’s role in cold war, not my brother’s in Iraq” written by Kate Connolly, published in the Guardian on June 9, 2015. http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/jun/09/jeb-bush-berlin-germany-foreign-policy-iraq

19

Endorse Liberty founders have so far reported spending about $3.3 million promoting [Ron] Paul by setting up two YouTube channels, constantly buying ads from Google and Facebook and StumbleUpon and building up a presence on the Web.

From an article entitled “PayPal co-founders fund pro-Paul Super PAC” written by Alina Selyukh, published in Reuters on January 31, 2012. http://www.reuters.com/article/2012/01/31/us-usa-campaign-spending-paul-idUSTRE80U1OF20120131

20 From an article entitled “Rand Paul Had Sitdowns With Mark Zuckerberg And Peter Thiel” written by Hunter Walker, published in Business Insider on July 14, 2014. http://www.businessinsider.com/rand-paul-had-sitdowns-with-mark-zuckerberg-and-peter-thiel-2014-7?IR=T

21

Full list of current Bilderberg steering committee members from official website:

Henri de Castries Chairman and CEO, AXA Group

DEU Achleitner, Paul Chairman Supervisory Board, Deutsche Bank AG
GBR Agius, Marcus Non-Executive Chairman, PA Consulting Group
USA Altman, Roger C. Executive Chairman, Evercore
FIN Apunen, Matti Director, Finnish Business and Policy Forum EVA
PRT Barroso, José M. Durão Former President of the European Commission
FRA Baverez, Nicolas Partner, Gibson, Dunn & Crutcher LLP
ITA Bernabè, Franco Chairman, FB Group SRL
NOR Brandtzæg, Svein Richard President and CEO, Norsk Hydro ASA
ESP Cebrián, Juan Luis Executive Chairman, Grupo PRISA
CAN Clark, W. Edmund Group President and CEO, TD Bank Group
DEU Enders, Thomas CEO, Airbus Group
DNK Federspiel, Ulrik Executive Vice President, Haldor Topsøe A/S
NLD Halberstadt, Victor Professor of Public Economics, Leiden University
USA Jacobs, Kenneth M. Chairman and CEO, Lazard
USA Johnson, James A. Chairman, Johnson Capital Partners
USA Karp, Alex CEO, Palantir Technologies
GBR Kerr, John Deputy Chairman, Scottish Power
USA Kleinfeld, Klaus Chairman and CEO, Alcoa
TUR Koç, Mustafa V. Chairman, Koç Holding A.S.
USA Kravis, Marie-Josée Senior Fellow and Vice Chair, Hudson Institute
CHE Kudelski, André Chairman and CEO, Kudelski Group
BEL Leysen, Thomas Chairman, KBC Group
USA Mathews, Jessica T. President, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace
ITA Monti, Mario Senator-for-life; President, Bocconi University
USA Mundie, Craig J. Senior Advisor to the CEO, Microsoft Corporation
USA Perle, Richard N. Resident Fellow, American Enterprise Institute
CAN Reisman, Heather M. Chair and CEO, Indigo Books & Music Inc.
AUT Scholten, Rudolf CEO, Oesterreichische Kontrollbank AG
USA Thiel, Peter A. President, Thiel Capital
INT Trichet, Jean-Claude Honorary Governor, Banque de France; Former President, European Central Bank
GRC Tsoukalis, Loukas President, ELIAMEP
SWE Wallenberg, Jacob Chairman, Investor AB
USA Zoellick, Robert B. Chairman, Board of International Advisors, The Goldman Sachs Group

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Dennis Kucinich says “America needs a period of truth and reconciliation”

Democratic Representative from Ohio, Dennis Kucinich, has been one of the most consistent and outspoken critics of both the Bush and Obama administrations. Now serving what will be his last week as member of Congress, he explained on today’s Democracy Now! why he regards the current debate about a fiscal cliff as political distraction and to a large extent “chimerical”:

We’ve made all the wrong choices. We should be talking about jobs, having more people involved in paying taxes. We should be talking about rebuilding America’s infrastructure. China has gone ahead with high-speed trains and massive investment in their infrastructure. Instead, we’re back to the same old arguments about taxes and spending without really looking at what we’re spending. We just passed the National Defense Authorization Act the other day, another $560 billion just for one year for the war machine. And so, we’re focused on whether or not we’re going to cut domestic programs now? Are you kidding me?

Kucinich sees the perpetuation of the US war machine as intricately linked with these latest battles at home over domestic spending. He says:

We really have to decide who we are as a nation. We’re spending more and more money for wars. We’re spending more and more money for interventions abroad. We’re spending more and more money for military buildups. And we seem to be prepared to spend less and less on domestic programs and on job creation. This whole idea of a debt-based economic system is linked to a war machine. And it’s linked to Wall Street’s concerns rather than Main Street’s concerns. We need to shift that.

You know, this whole idea of drone wars being proliferated across the world, without Congress having anything to say about it, without any accountability whatsoever, is against the Constitution of the United States, and it’s against international law. If any other nation sent a drone over the United States, they would have hell to pay, because we’d see it as an act of war. Yet we’re increasingly committing acts of war against other nations—Yemen most recently—and we are—we’re not seeing any accountability at all. And Congress does have a role to play here, both on the budget side and constitutionally. So we’re just trying to get the administration involved in giving information to Congress so we can see the extent of the exposure that the American people have to this proliferation of war.

And as news articles have been written, and Glenn Greenwald wrote about this yesterday, we’re actually strengthening al-Qaeda’s hand with these attacks. We’re making it more difficult to meet the challenge of terrorism by creating more terrorists. I mean, what is this about? We’re increasingly dysfunctional as a nation because of our unwillingness to challenge the military-industrial complex, which Dwight Eisenhower warned about generations ago.

Click here to watch the interview or read a full transcript on the Democracy Now! website.

In the second part of the interview, Kucinich was asked his views on the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act (FISA) and the growth of a surveillance society more generally:

Well, what it reflects is a breakdown in trust in this country. The attempt is to give the government even more powers to spy, and that is really being translated into domestic, quote-unquote, “intelligence,” even though it’s called the foreign intelligence bill.

We have to ask questions. You know, why, for example, was—did you have the Occupy Wall Street movement being spied upon? What is this? What’s going on in our country, where we don’t have oversight of the activities of the government when it comes to domestic spying? And what are we doing in America, where the privacy concerns of Americans are swept aside?

We’re entering into a brave new world, which involves not only the government apparatus being able to look in massive databases and extract information to try to profile people who might be considered threats to the prevailing—to the status quo. But we also are looking at drones, which are increasingly miniaturized, that will give the governments, at every level, more of an ability to look into people’s private conduct. This is a nightmare.

A nightmare that Kucinich argues is outside of traditional party politics:

Well, actually, you know, we’ve seen a bridge here created between Democrats and Republicans on the issue of liberty and being free from the all-seeing eye of Big Brother. Congressman [Ron] Paul and I worked together on many of these issues relating to the government seeking increased powers to surveil the American people. You know, it’s really no longer a Democrat or Republican issue. It goes much deeper than that.

When we find in a post-9/11 America that we are mired in a condition of fear; when we see the massive amounts of spending that’s gone for war and increased military buildups and for expansion of spy agencies like the Domestic Intelligence Agency, which is just adding another 1,600 spies so that the Pentagon can have their own spy agency to compete with, what, the CIA abroad; when you see the interventions that have fallen flat and have been disastrous, such as Libya and Benghazi; when you see al-Qaeda growing in strength because of our own misapplication of force, you have to ask, if this is about Democrat and Republican, this system is failing. And we’re seeing an evidence of it on fiscally, but we’re seeing another evidence of it in foreign policy, and we’re seeing an evidence of it domestically, when you can see a surveillance state arising under the noses of both political parties.

Asked to reflect upon “any misgivings about things that you were not able to accomplish, or, in the same way, pride in things that you were able to accomplish” during his own 16 years in the House, here is Kucinich’s reply:

Well, I will say that it’s really unfortunate that the—that the Democratic leadership in the House did not support an impeachment effort to challenge the Bush administration, and Mr. Bush and Mr. Cheney, on the lies that took us into war in Iraq. That was a pivotal moment for this country. And instead of choosing the Constitution, our leaders chose politics. Bad choice. The fact is that today, after a decade of war, we are looking at an eventual bill for that Iraq war of $5 trillion. We’re looking at perhaps as many as a million innocent civilians perishing—for war that was based on lies. People have to remember this. This isn’t just because it’s, you know, forget about the past. No, you cannot forget about the past. We went to war based on lies.

And so, you know, I did my part, which was to alert the Congress back in October 2002: Look, we’re headed into a war, and there’s no proof that Iraq has anything to do with 9/11 or had weapons of mass destruction; what are we doing here? But we were pulled into that by the Bush administration, driven by neocons and the Project for the New American Century. All of us who were following it know exactly what happened. And, you know, that set the stage for where we are today. We’re at the—you know, if there is such a thing as a fiscal cliff, we’re at the edge of it because of trillions of dollars that will be spent for wars based on lies. And there was never any accountability.

If there’s one thing we have to do, we have—America needs a period of truth and reconciliation, if we’re ever going to get—put the country back together again and achieve a level of national unity that we’re capable of. But right now we’re living on a lie. And the lie is that—that this whole national security infrastructure is necessary and that it’s necessary for us to keep expanding war around the world, it’s necessary for us to have these big spy agencies, which also interact domestically. All of this stuff shouldn’t have happened. And we made the wrong choices. And this is a problem for both political parties to resolve. You can always try to fix things, but you have to look at the severe impact that our inability to act, to challenge the lies that took us into war—you have to look at where it’s left us.

Click here to watch the interview or read a full transcript on the Democracy Now! website.

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the last days of Obama might yet be the worst

About five years ago, away on a teaching course in Athens, I met up with some very friendly Danes. During the week, we discussed all sorts of subjects, and often politics. My new Danish friends were interested to hear what I thought about Tony Blair and so I explained to them how his policies had, in just about every respect, been atrocious, if not, ruinous. They were dumbstruck by what I told them, having been given to believe that Blair was not only very popular, but also that his government was a largely progressive one. In return, I was equally amazed by their high opinion of a British Prime Minister already so reviled at home. Blair’s PR was better than I’d supposed.

Going further back, to 1997, I had helped vote in Tony Blair’s original New Labour government. For this I am sorry. It wasn’t even that I wanted what Tony Blair was offering, but like many other dupes, I’d been convinced (or convinced myself) to believe that he might only be disguising himself as a Tory, and then, once in office, and whatever Blair’s true colours, he would probably be kept honest by the Labour Party members and the trade unions. In fairness to myself, it didn’t take long to change my mind on this, and I certainly didn’t vote Blair back into power in either of his two re-elections. Indeed, I’ve not voted for Labour since 1997, but been fooled instead into supporting the weaselly Lib Dems and, in their last campaign, the dishonourable and toadying Nick Clegg. Apologies once more. So my record of voting in recent elections has not been good, but then in fairness again, what were the choices? None were available.

Already by the mid-nineties, I had become one of an ever-growing minority who were completely disenfranchised by our essentially two-party “first past the post” electoral system. So last time around, the slim hope was that if the Lib Dems got any sniff of power, then, and aside from moderating the thoroughly anti-liberal and right-wing agendas of either New Labour or the Conservatives, they would also press hard for electoral reform. A result that might then open the backdoor for a longer term revival of a genuinely left-leaning, liberal and anti-imperialist alternative. And the Lib Dems really had nothing to lose. They might never get a second chance to demand overhaul of our clearly unfair voting system, but, as it transpired, suddenly holding balance of power, but then playing their hand so badly, they blew even that limited opportunity. Indeed, having settled for a damp squib referendum that had nothing to do with the kinds of proportional representation system they have traditionally called for, the whole argument about electoral reform seems to be dead, and, in consequence, it’s even harder to understand if the Lib Dems actually stand for anything at all. Who gets my vote next time is anybody’s guess. I loathe them all, as do a huge portion of the British public.

With Britain lost, it’s tempting to seek glimmers of hope abroad, but hard to find any. The race for the Republican nomination in this year’s US Presidential election is an interesting case in point. As with previous years, it looks like a catwalk for the nasty, the glib and the downright stupid. Obama vs Gingrich. Obama vs Romney. Obama vs Santorum. In other words, at best it’s Obama vs Obama, and at worst…. well, I’d rather not go there.

There is, of course, still an outside bet: Obama vs Paul. Ron Paul appearing in many respects to be a genuine alternative to Obama et al; and outstanding among his Republican rivals in that he promises to end the wars, roll back the unconstitutional Patriot Acts, and take on the private Federal Reserve. Pledges that if kept would be a blessing for all of us. Sadly, however, Paul’s economic plans (aside from his call to heel of the Federal Reserve) are truly dreadful. Full scale neo-liberalism. As if the people haven’t suffered enough ‘austerity’ already. What is worse, however, is that Obama, who in common Blair, is far more popular abroad than with actual US voters, nonetheless remains unopposed by any serious challenge within the Democratic Party. The question then, why is there no opposition to Obama coming from the left?

After all, Obama has been such a wretched President. He has been to Bush, what Blair was to Thatcher. Superficially he appears different – marginally more human, basically – but everything he does is simply more of the same. Continued clampdown on civil liberties and human rights, continued protection of the financial criminals on Wall Street, continued tax breaks for the big corporations and the ruling elite, and last but not least, continued expansion of the preposterous and often illegal “war on terror”.

Not only has Obama expanded Bush’s “war on terror” into Pakistan, but more surreptitiously into other regions. He has achieved this whilst replacing conventional forces with ‘contractors’ (i.e., mercenaries) and also by dramatically escalating the use of drones, which are now launched from bases not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan, but from Turkey, the Arabian Peninsula, Djibouti, Ethiopia, and even The Seychelles. Click here to view a map published by the Washington Post in late December1. Using private armies and killer robots (i.e., drones), the new preferred weapon of choice, he has opened up the possibility for what he promotes as a ‘leaner’ military, unveiling, as the BBC news reported on Thursday [Jan 5th], “a far-reaching defence review under which thousands of troops are expected to be axed.” Although, as the same article concedes:

No specific cuts to troop numbers or weapons programmes were announced on Thursday – those are to be presented as part of the federal budget next month.

Whilst confirming our suspicions:

Anticipating criticism from his Republican rivals in an election year, the president stressed that the defence budget would still grow, but at a slower pace.2 [my highlight]

The nub of it is that Obama is as addicted to war as Bush was; the difference being that Obama always tells us how he’s trying to quit.

Behind the scenes, right now, US troops are being moved into Israel, as further evidence that a build-up to a war against Iran seems almost unstoppable:

Under the Austere Challenge 12 drill scheduled for an undisclosed time during the next few weeks, the Israeli military will together with America host the largest-ever joint missile drill by the two countries. Following the installation of American troops near Iran’s neighboring Strait of Hormuz and the reinforcing of nearby nations with US weapons, Tehran authorities are considering this not a test but the start of something much bigger. […]

Israeli military officials say that the testing was planned before recent episodes involving the US and Iran. Of concern, however, is how the drill will require the deployment of thousands of American troops into Israel. The Jerusalem Post quotes US Commander Lt.-Gen Frank Gorenc as saying the drill is not just an “exercise” but also a “deployment” that will involve “several thousand American soldiers” heading to Israel. Additionally, new command posts will be established by American forces in Israel and that country’s own IDF army will begin working from a base in Germany.3

Click here to read full article on Russia Today and here to read a follow-up story the following day [Fri 6th Jan].

The Washington Post [Thu 5th Jan] also reported on the “Austere Challenge 12” drill saying it “is designed to improve defense systems and cooperation between the U.S. and Israeli forces” and that “It follows a 10-day Iranian naval exercise near the strategic Strait of Hormuz”:

The Israeli military spokesman did not give a date for the drill Thursday, but a senior military official said it would be in the next few weeks. He said it would be the biggest missile defense drill ever held. He was speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the issue.4

Click here to read the full article in the Washington Post.

Meanwhile, in his recent “far-reaching defence review”, as the BBC described it, which is ominously entitled “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities For 21st Century Defense”, Obama writes:

“As we end today’s wars and reshape our Armed Forces, we ensure that our military is agile, flexible, and ready for the full range of contingencies. In particular, we will continue to invest in the capabilities critical to future success, including intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaisance; counterterrorism; countering weapons of mass destruction; operating in anti-access environments; and prevailing in all domains, including cyber.”

Reading those final points (especially the part I’ve highlighted in bold) reminded me very much of a document produced more than a decade earlier. It was published by a right-wing “think-tank” called The Project for the New American Century (PNAC).

PNAC had been founded in the spring of 1997 as an initiative of the New Citizenship Project, and was co-chaired by William Krystol and Robert Kagan. Ringing any bells? Here is one of its Statement of Principles to give you a flavour: “We aim to make the case and rally support for American global leadership.”5 It’s worth bearing in mind that Obama’s defence review is called “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership”.

The PNAC commission was endorsed by such notables as Dick Cheney, Jeb Bush, Lewis “Scooter” Libby, Dan Quayle, Donald Rumsfeld, and Paul Wolfowitz, as well as by famous postmodern historian Francis Fukuyama. So this wasn’t just any old think-tank, but rather the plans for a new world laid out in advance as aims for the incoming US neo-con administration.

In September 2000, the PNAC think-tank brought out a new report entitled “Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century.” It is a report that has since become notorious (at least in some circles). Here was PNAC’s vision for the twenty-first century:

“At present the United States faces no global rival. America’s grand strategy should aim to preserve and extend this advantageous position as far into the future as possible.”6

However, to achieve such a grand objective meant the need of substantial increases in defence expenditure, because to attain their goal of a glorious Pax Americana (which was how PNAC promoted their plans of world dominion) required nothing short of “full spectrum dominance”7:

“Although it may take several decades for the process of transformation to unfold, in time, the art of warfare on air, land, and sea will be vastly different than it is today, and “combat” likely will take place in new dimensions: in space, “cyber-space,” and perhaps the world of microbes.”

More alarming still, and a just little further down the same page, the authors make the following recommendation:

“And advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”8

This talk of targeting “specific genotypes”, which is nothing short of proposing some form of genocide, is available as a publicly accessible document, published and endorsed by a group integrally connected to the highest echelons of the previous US administration. But there’s more, and here we reach the sentence of greatest notoriety:

“Further, the process of transformation [towards a Pax Americana], even if it brings revolutionary change, is likely to be a long one, absent some catastrophic and catalyzing event – like a new Pearl Harbor.”9

Please remember that this extract is taken from a document that was released just one year prior to the most “catastrophic and catalyzing event” in modern history.

By contrast Obama’s latest defence review includes the following statement:

In order to credibly deter potential adversaries and to prevent them from achieving their objectives, the United States must maintain the ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged.” (bottom p.4)

The highlight is mine again. So PNAC had called very bluntly for ‘world dominance’ and ‘global hegemony’, whereas Obama’s report talks up America’s ‘global responsibilities’, but both are actually pushing towards the same ends: “to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged” being ultimately tantamount to the ‘full-spectrum dominance’ dreamt of by the PNAC crew. But as the empire grows, where are America’s ‘potential adversaries’ now? – well, read on:

States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities, while the proliferation of sophisticated weapons and technology will extend to non-state actors too.”

All of which ratchets a little more tension on Iran [who were also the main target of PNAC] and on China, whilst also hinting at more nebulous enemies for the public at home to fear:

Terrorist access to even simple nuclear devices poses the prospect of devastating consequences for the United States.” (bottom p.3)

If I were an American, however, the part of the report I would find most alarming goes as follows:

U.S. Forces will continue to defend U.S. Territory from direct attack by state and non-state actors. We will also come to the assistance of domestic civil authorities in the event such defense fails or in the case of natural disasters, potentially in response to a very significant or even catastrophic event.”

With the NDAA 2012 act (see my previous post) now permitting the indefinite military detention of anyone (civilians included) ‘suspected’ of any ‘association’ with terrorists, just signed into law by Obama, following on here, only a week later, is a statement justifying deployment of the military on the streets. All that is absent is some catastrophic and catalyzing event – as the PNAC bullyboys would have put it.

The intent is all too clear, whereas the timetable is less so. The domestic clampdown might simply continue with the already steady erosion of civil liberties, or, and given the ideal ‘catalyzing event’, could happen almost overnight. Just think about it — that’s exactly what the latest NDAA ‘indefinite detention’ bill provides for. The nets are ready to haul you in.

Meanwhile, an attack against Iran might be launched next month, next year, or might never happen. But this last option will surely depend upon real political change in America. Could Ron Paul deliver such a change? How would I know — given my current track record I am loathe to endorse any candidates for any election ever again, and it’s not my country anyway. I feel unqualified to judge. It is reasonable to suppose, in any case, that it will take more than a single election (however important) to turn America around. All I can do is cheer from the sidelines. Come on the people of America — right now, we’re all really counting on you!

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Today’s Democracy Now! asked William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, about Obama’s new strategy, which leaves military spending at levels equal to the Bush administration. The accompanying report also compares foreign policy and military spending pledges made by the current Republican Presidential candidates:

Click here to read full transcript, or to watch the report on the Democracy Now! website.

1http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/national-security/under-obama-an-emerging-global-apparatus-for-drone-killing/2011/12/13/gIQANPdILP_story.html to read related article entitled “Under Obama, an emerging global apparatus for drone killing”, written by Greg Miller, published in the Washington Post on December 28, 2011.

2 From an article entitled “Obama unveils new strategy for ‘leaner’ US military, published by BBC news on January 5, 2012. http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-us-canada-16430405

3 From an article entitled “Thousands of US troops deploying to Israel” published by Russia Today on January 5, 2012. http://rt.com/usa/news/us-troops-israel-iran-257/

4 From an article entitled “Israel and US troops gear up for major missile defense drill after Iran maneuvers” by Associated Press, published in the Washington Post on January 5, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/middle-east/israeli-and-us-troops-gear-up-for-major-missile-defense-drill-after-iran-maneuvers/2012/01/05/gIQAE0QqcP_story.html

5 These statements were released on June 3rd 1997, just a few months after the foundation of PNAC.

6 Rebuilding America’s Defenses: Strategy, Forces and Resources for a New Century. p.1

7 Although this precise term is not found in the document in question, it has become the key term in subsequent report entitled Joint Vision 2020, which offers the latest blueprint for the US Department of Defence.

8 ibid: p.60

9 ibid: p.51

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Brown, Bernanke, Chavez and the price of gold

They say that a fool and his gold are soon parted, and it turns out that was certainly the case when it came to Gordon Brown; squandering not his own reserves, but the nation’s:

Between 1999 and 2002, Mr Brown ordered the sale of almost 400 tons of the gold reserves when the price was at a 20-year low. Since then, the price has more than quadrupled, meaning the decision cost taxpayers an estimated £7 billion, according to Mike Warburton of the accountants Grant Thornton.1

Having settled for such a poor return on our national savings — a decision described in the article as “one of the Treasury’s worst mistakes” (which is putting things mildly) — we also learn (in the same article) that Brown and the Treasury “have repeatedly refused to disclose information about the gold sale amid allegations that warnings were ignored.”

Here is financial journalist Max Keiser trying to get to the bottom of what’s become known as, ah-hum, “Brown’s Bottom”:

Meanwhile, in another part of the world, Hugo Chavez sat tight on his own country’s gold reserves – and now he’s asking for them back:

Venezuela plans to transfer billions of dollars in cash reserves from abroad to banks in Russia, China and Brazil and tons of gold from European banks to its central bank vaults, according to documents reviewed Tuesday by The Wall Street Journal.

The planned moves would include transferring $6.3 billion in cash reserves, most of which Venezuela now keeps in banks such as the Bank for International Settlements in Basel, Switzerland, and Barclays Bank in London to unnamed Russian, Chinese and Brazilian banks, one document said.

Venezuela also plans to move 211 tons of gold it keeps abroad and values at $11 billion to the vaults of the Venezuelan Central Bank in Caracas where the government keeps its remaining 154 tons of bullion, the document says.2

As Venezuela demands its gold back, some commentators are feigning incomprehension. Why on earth would anyone want their gold back at a time like this…? But perhaps the question they should really be asking is this: what if Chavez is refused?

Keiser, a former equities broker, runs a campaign that encourages people to buy up physical silver in an effort to crash JP Morgan; an organisation that he describes as “the biggest financial terrorist on Wall Street”. He says that Chavez’s demands for the return of Venezuelan gold could have a similar effect on JPM:

The fun begins if Chavez demands physical delivery of more than 10.6 tons of physical because as today’s CME update of metal depository statistics, JPM only has 338,303 ounces of registered gold in storage. Or roughly 10.6 tons. A modest deposit of this size would cause some serious white hair at JPM as the bank scrambles to find the replacement gold, which has already been pledged about 100 times across the various paper markets.

Posted at maxkeiser.com on 17th August.

The price of gold has skyrocketed during the last few weeks, but this doesn’t automatically mean we are witnessing a bubble, at least not in the usual sense. If you look over the longer term, you’ll see that the price of gold has actually been rising steadily for around a decade (about the same time when Gordon Brown decided to sell). That same trend is true for silver, as well as other “physicals”. So is it that the value of gold and silver are rising, or is it that paper currencies (most significantly the dollar) have been devalued?

About a month ago, when the price of an ounce of gold was a mere $1,500, Congressman Ron Paul confronted Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke in a U.S. House Financial Services Committee. Paul asked Bernanke directly: “do you think gold is money?” Bernanke’s answer: “No”.

But if gold isn’t money, then just what is? The ever increasing supply of virtual ones and zeros orbiting the global markets, or those tattered pieces of paper in your wallet which declare: “I promise to pay the bearer on demand the sum of five pounds” – five pounds, ten pounds, twenty pounds, but pounds of what exactly? Hugo Chavez isn’t waiting to find out, and he’s not alone.

1 From an article entitled “Explain why you sold Britain’s gold, Gordon Brown told”, by Holly Watt and Robert Winnett, published March 24, 2010. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/investing/gold/7511589/Explain-why-you-sold-Britains-gold-Gordon-Brown-told.html

2 From an article entitled “Venezuela Plans to Move Reserve Funds” by Jose De Cordoba and Ezequiel Minaya, published in The Wall Street Journal on August 17, 2011. http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424053111903392904576512961180570694.html

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Filed under Britain, Max Keiser, Uncategorized, Venezuela

worldwide war resolution could grant US president “dictatorial powers”

House Votes to Authorize Worldwide War
You read that right: Yesterday, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which includes a provision to authorize worldwide war, which has no expiration date and will allow this president — and any future president — to go to war anywhere in the world, at any time, without further congressional authorization. While this was a loss, we’re confident that the momentum against this provision is on our side.

That was the headline story from the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) “Blog of Rights” posted on Friday 27th May. Click here to read more.

On Tuesday 24th May, Democrat Congressman Dennis Kucinich also challenged the extraordinary new provisions granted by the latest amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act, which would open the way for permanent and global war, whilst also reauthorising the Orwellian provisions of the Patriot Act:

“The annual re-authorization contains unprecedented and dangerous language which gives the President virtually unchecked power to take this country to war and to keep us there. The bill substantially undermines the Constitution, the institution that the Constitution set up that is Congress, and sets the United States on a path to permanent war.”

Kucinich also spoke against the escalating use of force in Libya:

“I am offering an amendment to the Defense Authorization Bill which would defund the war in Libya.

“The war is unconstitutional. The President did not come to this Congress, he went to the U.N. Security Council, he went to a number of international bodies, but he didn’t come to the United States Congress. Last week, the President did not observe the tolling of the War Powers Act, so he’s in violation of the statute.

“The action over in Libya has already exceeded the U.N. mandate; it’s in violation of the U.N. mandate and there have been violations of international law. […]

“People are saying it’s not the United States, it’s NATO. The Guardian in the U.K. did a study which showed that 90% of the cruise missiles are paid for by the U.S. Sixty-six percent of the personnel working against Libya are from the U.S., 50% of aircraft, 50% of all ships – and our government is saying this is a NATO operation? We have to recognize what’s going on here, which is an expansion of the war power by the Executive and it’s time we challenge that.”

Here is Kucinich’s full address to the House:

Then, on Wednesday 25th May, in another speech to Congress, Republican Ron Paul detailed the authoritarian powers already held by the President and described the new bill as “the last nail” in the coffin of the American Republic:

“Our Presidents can now, on their own:
1. Order assassinations, including American citizens,
2. Operate secret military tribunals,
3. Engage in torture,
4. Enforce indefinite imprisonment without due process,
5. Order searches and seizures without proper warrants, gutting the 4th Amendment,
6. Ignore the 60 day rule for reporting to the Congress the nature of any military operations as required by the War Power Resolution,
7. Continue the Patriot Act abuses without oversight,
8. Wage war at will,
9. Treat all Americans as suspected terrorists at airports with TSA groping and nude x-raying.

And the Federal Reserve accommodates by counterfeiting the funds needed and not paid for by taxation and borrowing, permitting runaway spending, endless debt, and special interest bail-outs. And all of this is not enough.

The abuses and usurpations of the war power are soon to be codified in the National Defense Authorization Act now rapidly moving its way through the Congress. Instead of repealing the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), as we should, now that bin Laden is dead and gone, Congress is planning to massively increase the war power of the President.

Though an opportunity presents itself to end the wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan, Congress, with bipartisan support, obsesses on how to expand the unconstitutional war power the President already holds. The current proposal would allow a President to pursue war any time, any place, for any reason, without Congressional approval. Many believe this would even permit military activity against American suspects here at home.”

“Characteristic of this epic event is the casual acceptance by the people and political leaders of the unitary presidency, which is equivalent to granting dictatorial powers to the President. The proposed authority does not reference the 9/11 attacks. It would be expanded to include the Taliban and “associated” forces—a dangerously vague and expansive definition of our potential enemies.

“And now the final nail is placed in the coffin of Congressional responsibility for the war power, delivering this power completely to the President—a sharp and huge blow to the concept of our Republic. In my view, it appears that the fate of the American Republic is now sealed—unless these recent trends are quickly reversed.”

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Libya no-fly zone means war

The UN Security Council adopted a resolution establishing a no-fly zone over Libya. The case against such direct military intervention is coming from the left and the right.

Michel Chossudovsky, director of Centre for Research on Globalization, says western nations are interested in Libyan oil and other resources, not protecting the people and that is why they care more about the fight in Libya, than elsewhere in the Arab world.

BBC’s Jeremy Paxman interviews Noam Chomsky, Professor in linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), philosopher, cognitive scientist, and political activist. Chomsky talks about the likely consequences of the uprisings in the Middle East and North Africa and the prospects for any Western intervention. He also gives his interpretation of the Obama administration’s foreign policy.

This interview took place on Tuesday, March 8th, 2011 (parts 1 and 2):

Rep. Ron Paul spoke in Congress on March 10th, expressing his stance on a Libyan no-fly zone. He said: “It is my opinion that we should not. It would be foolish, it would have a downside, and we should think very, very carefully, before we go expanding the wars that we are already involved in.” “We have to remember, a no-fly zone is an act of war.” “There’s no Constitutional authority for a President to willy-nilly go and start placing no-fly zones over countries around the world.

He mentions the no-fly zone and sanctions imposed on Iraq, and it ending up in a war based on lies, saying, “We went to war when we shouldn’t have gone to war.”

He goes on to say: “To expand this war now makes no sense whatsoever. It’s against International Law, it challenges the War Powers Resolution, and for that reason we should stop and think. Congress should act. I am preparing to introduce a resolution next week, so that the Executive Branch can’t do this without approval from the Congress. Why should we do this?” “This is the kind of thing that has been going on for too long, and contributes significantly to our bankruptcy.”

He finishes by saying: “If we want to do something for humanity, we need a new foreign policy. A foreign policy that isn’t based on militarism, it’s built on more co-operation and more trade, and not picking our dictators.”

John Rees of Stop the War Coalition argues against the morality of military intervention in Libya by the west and says it will simply galvanise pro-Gaddafi support. He makes his case on the BBC Radio 4 programme the Moral Maze on March 9th:

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Update:

The original uploaded video clips of Ron Paul and Noam Chomsky have disappeared from youtube. However, new versions have since been posted and are embedded again below:

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