Is everything we thought we knew about Russia wrong?

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Clinging to simplified narratives that mischaracterizes Russia as perpetually unreasonable has made productive US engagement with the country impossible.

Go to webb: http://www.thenation.com/article/is-everything-we-thought-we-knew-about-russia-wrong/.

This article gives you the insight how the western world sees the former enemy USSR, which has disappeared and left a Russia behind, which more and mores stands up against the expansion policy of the United States.

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European Parliament Voted to Stop All Sales of Weapons to Saudi Arabia. Slap in the Face for David Cameron

At the core of the EU lies a commitment to the basic principles of liberty, democracy and a respect for human rights. Germany and Sweden have both taken the economically sacrificial decision to stop all arms trading with the Saudis. It is only by standing for these principles together that the EU can send a clear message to Saudi Arabia and all undemocratic regimes in the world.

Britain is just one of a number of EU member-states that continues to arm the Arab Kingdom, but is miles ahead of the rest in terms of scale. Saudi Arabia is the recipient of more British-made arms than any other state. But this EU vote could bring that situation to an end.

The embargo was proposed in reaction to the Saudi’s continued air campaign against Iranian-backed Houthi rebels in Yemen, a campaign already assisted by British companies. MEPs have questioned the legality of the operation and many have also raised concerns about the alarming rate of civilian deaths, and alleged targeting of refugee camps and hospitals. Those who make these points argue that sales to regimes committing such atrocities are going against the shared values of the EU and undermine efforts to improve human rights protections globally. The EU currently imposes EU-wide arms embargos on 22 states – including Yemen.

Though news of the upcoming EU vote has been largely unreported in British media, there has been widespread condemnation of UK arms sales to Saudi Arabia since the publication of a UN report on Yemen in January. Cameron stuck with the stock defence of praising Britain’s strict rules governing arms sales, but Jeremy Corbyn offered a pragmatic approach to the report’s findings. While Cameron brushed off British complicity in Saudi crimes, Corbyn called for an immediate inquiry into the issue with the suspension of arms sales pending its completion. Indeed, Labour MEPs voted in favour of the embargo. Sensible and, most importantly, effective.

Although many projects aided through the European Development Fund have raised questions as to where EU values lay, this vote shows that whatever our choices on the EU – we should make them knowing there is life in the old dog yet.

Till Presidenter och ledare av alla värdens Nationer!

I decennier har ni med er politik av krig och exploatering, försatt millioner människor i Mellan Östern och Afrika i misär. På grund av er politik har det uppstått en flyktingkriser, där många millioner människor flyr från sina egna länder. Varje tredje flykting i Tyskland kommer från Syrien, Irak och Afghanistan. Från Afrika kommer det en av fem flyktingar.

Er systematiska aggression mot andra länder, som ni bombar, för att införa er demokrati, har även medfört att den globala terrorismen har ökad. Istället för cirka 100 – 200 terrorister som fans för 10 – 20 år sedan, har vi nu de facto fått fler 100,00 eller mer terrorister, av vilket de flesta har ett nära samarbete med ISIS.

Denna cyniska och hänsynslösa krigspolitik, som ni som ledande politiker, bedrivit under många år, slår nu tillbaka som en bumerang till er, och ni star alldeles handfallen och är helt förvånad över denna flyktings utveckling, i Europa.

Människorna i Mellan Östern och i Afrika, vars länder ni har förstörd med era bombningar och plundringar, tillsammans människorna i Europa, som nu härbärgerar otaliga desperate flyktingar, betalar ett högt pris för er aggressiva politik.

Men själv tvättar ni era händer och förnekar allt ansvar. Alla ni ledare och politiker, som är inblandad i dessa fasansfulla och hänsynslösa aggressioner, skulle ställas inför den International Crime Court i Holland, och dömas för brott mot mänskligheten.

Alla dessa politikers medlöpare och suportörer kunde åtminstone ta hand om 100 flyktings familjer var, i sina hem.

I grund och botten skall var och en av jordens befolkning stå upp och avsätta er alla, samtidig som varje medborgare skall vägra att delta i militära operationer i andra länder, samt i det där våra ledare utövar sina aggressiva operationer mot civilbefolkningen.

Våra ledare exploatera oss alla och detta bara på grund av deras politiska och strategiska maktutövande.

Som Gandhi måste vi med  – fredlig, och civil olydnad, motsätta oss detta vansinne. Vi måste starta nya partier och organisationer, som kämpar för jämlikhet och humanitet.

Nu räcker det! Get lost! Världen skulle var en mycket bättre plats utan dessa krigshetsande presidenter och politiker.– Jürgen Todenhöfer

 

Översättning med vissa små förändringar från tyskan H.A. von Schlippenbach

Open Letter to the Politicians of the World

Jürgen Todenhöfer is a German journalist and former media manager; from 1972 to 1990 he was a member of parliament for the Christian Democrats (CDU). He was one of Germany’s most ardent supporters of the US-sponsored Mujahideen and their guerrilla war against the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan. Several times he traveled to combat zones with Afghan Mujahideen groups. After 2001 Todenhöfer became an outspoken critic of the US interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. He has published several books about visits he made to war zones. In recent years he twice interviewed Syria’s President Bashar al-Assad and in 2015 he was the first German journalist to visit the ‘Islamic State’.

Dear Presidents and Heads of Governments!

Through decades of a policy of war and exploitation you have pushed millions people in the Middle East and Africa into misery. Because of your policies refugees have to flee all over the world. One out every three refugees in Germany comes from Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan. From Africa comes one out of five refugees.

Your wars are also the cause of global terrorism. Instead of some 100 international terrorists like 15 years ago, we now are faced with more than 100,000 terrorists. Your cynical ruthlessness now strikes back at us like a boomerang.

As usual, you do not even consider to really change your policy. You care only about the symptoms. The security situation gets more dangerous and chaotic by the day. More and more wars, waves of terror and refugee crises will determine the future of our planet.

Even in Europe, the war will one day knock again at Europe’s door. Any businessman that would act like you would be fired or be in prison by now. You are total failures.

The peoples of the Middle East and Africa, whose countries you have destroyed and plundered and the people of Europe, who now accommodate the countless desperate refugees, have to pay a high price for your policies. But you wash your hands of responsibility. You should stand trial in front of the International Criminal Court. And each of your political followers should actually take care of at least 100 refugee families.

Basically, the people of the world should rise up and resist you as the warmongers and exploiters you are. As once Gandhi did it – in nonviolence, in ‘civil disobedience’. We should create new movements and parties. Movements for justice and humanity. Make wars in other countries just as punishable as murder and manslaughter in one’s own country. And you who are responsible for war and exploitation, you should go to hell forever. It is enough! Get lost! The world would be much nicer without you.

– Jürgen Todenhöfer

Russian air strikes in Syria ‘good thing’: Del Ponte

© AFP/File | Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is currently probing rights abuses in Syria, thinks Russian intervention is a good thing but that the Russians “are not distinguishing enough between the terrorists and others”

GENEVA (AFP) –

Former war crimes prosecutor Carla Del Ponte, who is currently probing rights abuses in Syria, on Monday backed Russia’s air strikes on “terrorist groups” in the war-torn country.

“Overall, I think the Russian intervention is a good thing, because finally someone is attacking these terrorist groups,” Del Ponte told Swiss public broadcaster RTS, listing the Islamic State group and Al-Nusra among the groups targeted.

But Del Ponte, a member of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Syria, quickly added that the Russians apparently “are not distinguishing enough between the terrorists and others, and that is not as good.”

Her comments came amid international bickering over the Russian air strikes and what role they played in undermining last week’s peace talks to end the country’s five-year war.

Moscow launched a bombing campaign in Syria last year at the request of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, saying it was targeting the Islamic State group and other jihadist organisations.

The West has accused Russia of targeting more moderate factions that oppose Assad’s regime, and Syrian activists say the strikes have killed civilians, allegations Moscow dismisses as “absurd”.

UN envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura last week suspended attempts to begin a dialogue between al-Assad’s regime and the opposition, as Russia pressed on with its bombing campaign on the ground.

One day after the talks broke down, Russia’s defence ministry said that air strikes had hit 875 “terrorist targets” in Syria since the start of the month.

Del Ponte, a 68-year-old Swiss national who came to prominence investigating war crimes in Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia, also touched on another sensitive subject Monday, saying she thought Assad should be included in peace negotiations.

“If you want a ceasefire, if you want peace, you first have to negotiate with the government,” she said, pointing out that the late Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic was already under investigation when the US negotiated the 1995 Dayton accord with him that ended Yugoslavia’s bloody war.

 

The Syrian War for Economic and Strategic Interests

If the war was mend to liberate the Syrian people, and install a democracy in Syria, then everyone is fooled. It is not about democracy or dictatorship; it is about the control of oil.

If one takes a map and look for who is the largest supplier of oil and gas to Europe, and at the same time reads little more, concerning the “game” which is going on in Syria, one will come to the conclusion that the Syrian drama is is not about democracy against dictatorship, it is about oil.

None of the involved players will admit that it in the first place is about a game about the oil. The war is a large miscalculation of NATO, the US and EU. It was very simple to over trough Gadhafi, Sadam Hussein and even Mubarak. The Arabic sprig did not effect Syria. Syria was not a country who easily could be either invaded, by oppositional groups, supported by Saudi Arabia and the United States, or bombed into democracy, which was an other option by the NATO and by the US. It has been proven that Assad is still liked in the country, even if they are opposition forces, supported by foreign countries, of different kinds, and who could not build a legitimate front against Assad.

Contrary many of the so called moderates forces, have joint the ISIS and other terrorist groups, and fought against the legitimist government of Syria.

Since the Russian aircraft have been helping Assad, lots of ground has been recovered, which was not seen as a positive thing from the NATO and US military groups. Turkey and Saudi Arabia, have a horn against Assad, not because he is evil, but because he will not allow a gas and oil pipeline go through his country form Qatar and Saudi Arabia, to become the main supplier of the oil and gas to Europe. That would of course be a big blow to Russia, which now is the biggest supplier of natural gas to Europe.

This is what all this war is about, and it is not because Assad is a dictator, it is because he would not let this gas and ole be transported through Syria.

It is a game to isolate Russia and to bring it to its knee. The western world and then specifically NATO, whit its greatest player the US, doe not like to see a strong Russia, but a Russia which is dependent in the western countries. Russia is one of the last frontiers, where there are lots of natural minerals still in the ground, and that is for the western investors a great opportunity to by up those natural recourses, as they have done I every other country in eastern Europe, Africa and South America.

This is an economic war, where also Turkey, which gets its ole and gas from the Russian pipeline. They are very interested to deal rather with the Saudis and the other Arab countries.

The worst part of this game, which it is for the western countries, is that the citizens of Syria have to suffer, lots of children have to suffer. Now the EU is complaining about all the refugees. Everybody is blaming on the Russian bombing. But the refugees came before the Russian stated bombing ISIS. Now the west I crying. It newer cried when hundreds of thousand dead in Iraq, Iran and Libya. It is so hypocritical to hear politicians mention all the suffering of the civilians in those countries. Nobody in a high position in the US, NATO or EU gives a dam about the people who are been killed.

As the former foreign secretary of State Albright mention in an interview, where the reporter asked her “Was it really worth it that 500.000 children died in Iraq, during the blockade against that country. Albright´s answer was clear and exact “Yes it was worth it”. That is human isn’t it??????

The same with Hillary Clinton regarding Libya: “We came, we conquered he did”. Is that what we call human behavior?

This is a bill taken in the US Congress, regarding the war in Syria.

[Congressional Bills 114th Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
[H.R. 4108 Introduced in House (IH)]
<DOC>
114th CONGRESS
  1st Session                                H. R. 4108
To prohibit the use of funds for the provision of assistance to Syrian 
                   opposition groups and individuals.
_______________________________________________________________________
                    IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
                          November 19, 2015
 Ms. Gabbard (for herself and Mr. Austin Scott of Georgia) introduced 
   the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed 
   Services, and in addition to the Select Committee on Intelligence 
(Permanent Select) and Foreign Affairs, for a period to be subsequently 
   determined by the Speaker, in each case for consideration of such 
 provisions as fall within the jurisdiction of the committee concerned
_______________________________________________________________________
                                 A BILL
To prohibit the use of funds for the provision of assistance to Syrian 
                   opposition groups and individuals.
    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the 
United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. PROHIBITION ON PROVISION OF ASSISTANCE TO SYRIAN OPPOSITION 
              GROUPS AND INDIVIDUALS.
    Notwithstanding any other provision of law, funds available to the 
Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Defense, or any other 
agency or entity of the United States involved in intelligence 
activities, or to the National Security Council or its staff may not be 
obligated or expended to provide assistance, including training, 
equipment, supplies, stipends, construction of training and associated 
facilities, and sustainment, to any element of the Syrian opposition or 
to any other Syrian group or individual seeking to overthrow the 
government of the Syrian Arab Republic, unless, after the date of the 
enactment of this Act, funds are specifically authorized to be 
appropriated and appropriated by law for such purpose.
                                 <all>


Sweden and the UK defend Human rights, only when it suite them

Sweden has been internationally recognized in the past as a leading country on matters of human rights and respect of individual’s political and civil rights. At its peak, the ethical stature of the late PM Olof Palme positioned the government of Sweden in the chairmanship of a variety of international bodies for world peace and for prominent participation in the non-aligned movement.

After the assassination of Olof Palme, which took place in the middle of an ad-hominem campaign driven by the Swedish press, a successive series of government initiated by Carl Bildt, and successively Göran Person and (Justice) Tomas Bodström, have transformed the independent stances of Sweden.

The nation’s exemplar non-alignment was subsequently abandoned and has instead been converted into a geopolitical instrument of the US government, and a close partner with NATO – including the military assistance or direct participation in occupation wars. Further, the human-rights ideal that was once paramount to Sweden’s international policy was definitively buried by Carl Bildt’s period as ruler of Sweden’s foreign affairs.

In consensus Sweden, the governments and monopoly media ultimately replace the citizens’ political initiative. Eventually, even the so-called Swedish Left Party, in which “radical-feminism” is a predominant factor, had no problem in voting in parliament for Bildt’s proposition on Sweden’s military participation in Libya under US-command. Those are the political forces behind Sweden’s today rejection of the UN-ruling declaring Mr Assange’s detention arbitrary.

The following determinant factor in the Assange case has to be also understood in the context of the military occupation of Afghanistan pursued by Swedish troops, under US-command. The US government asked in August 2010 the few EU nations participating under their military command in Afghanistan to initiate the prosecution of Julian Assange. WikiLeaks had published documents related to US military activities in Iraq and Afghanistan, denounced the wars there and published evidence that supported accusations of war crimes.

Further, WikiLeaks exposed the secret Intel cooperation agreements (illegal in Sweden) between the Swedish government and the US, which entails providing to US private information gathered on Swedish citizens. Sweden was the only country among those integrated into the US-led coalition in Afghanistan that complied.

Statement: by Prof. Marcello Ferada de Noli

More economic studies, shows the inequality increased both in good times, and in bad times

In most countries, the gap between rich and poor is at its highest level since 30 years. Today, in countries, the richest 10% of the population earn 9,6 times the income of the poorest 10%. In the 1980nthis ratio stood at 7:1 rising to 8:1 in the 1990s and 9:1 in the 2000s. In several emerging economics, particularly in Latin America, income inequality has narrowed, but income gaps remains generally higher than in OECD countries. During the crises, income inequality continued to increase, mainly due inequality. However, at the lower end of the income distribution, real household incomes fell substantially in countries hit hardest by the crises.

Much of the recent debate surrounding inequality has focused on top earners, especially the “top 1%”. Less well understood is the relative decline of low earners and low income household’s – not just the bottom 10% but the lowest 40%. This report places a special focus on these households, investigating some of the factors that have weakened their economic position, and the range of policy options that can address increasing inequality.

Higher inequality drags down economic growth and harms opportunities.

Beyond its impact on social cohesion, growing inequality is harmful for long-term economic growth. The rise of income inequality between 1985 and 2005, for example, is estimated to have knocked4,7 percentage points off cumulative growth between 1990 and 2010, on average across OECD countries for which long term series are available. The key driver is the growing gap between lower-income household – the bottom 40% of the distribution – and the rest of the population.

A main transmission mechanism between inequality and growth is human capital investment. While there is always a gap in education outcomes across individuals with different socio-economic backgrounds, the gap widens in high-inequality countries as people in disadvantaged households struggle to access quality education. This implies large amounts of wasted potential and lower social mobility.

Rising non-standard work can create job opportunities but also contribute to higher inequality.

         Temporary and part-time work and self – employment now account for third of total employment in OECD countries. Since the mid-1990s, more than half of all job creation was in the form of non-standard work. Many non-standard workers are worse off in many aspects of job quality, such as earning, job security or training. In particular low – skilled temporary workers face substantial wage penalties, earning instability and slower wage growth.

Households that are heavily dependent on earnings from non-standard work have much higher income poverty rates (22% on average), and the increase in the number of such households in the OECD countries has contributed to higher overall inequality.

Non-standard work can be a “stepping stone” to more stable employment – but it depends on the type of work and the characteristics of workers and labor market institutions. In many countries, younger workers, especially those with only temporary work contracts have a lower chance of moving on to a more. Career job.

More women in the workforce lowers inequality

Women have made substantial progress in narrowing the participation, pay and career gap with man and this has put a brake on rising inequality. But they are still about 16% less likely to be in paid work and earn about 15% less than men. If the proportion of households with working women had remained at level 20 to 25 years ago, income inequality would have increased by almost 1 Gini point more on average. The impact of a higher share of women working full – time and higher relative wages for women added another brake of 1 point.

High wealth concentration limits investment opportunities

         Wealth is much more concentrated than income: on average, the 10% of wealthiest households hold half of total wealth, the next 50% hold almost the other half, while the and/or low asset holding affect the ability of the lower middle class to undertake investments in human capital or others. High wealth concentration can weaken potential growth.

Designing policy packages to tackle high inequality and promote opportunities for all.

         Policy makers have a range of instruments and tools at hand to tackle rising inequality and promote opportunities for all. For such policy packages to be successful, solid trust in institutions and effective social dialog are essential. Reducing the growing divide between rich and poor and promoting opportunities for all requires policy packages in four main areas:

Women´s participation in economic life: governments need to pursue policies to eliminate the unequal treatment of men and women in the labor market and to remove barriers to female employment and career progression. This includes measures for increasing the earning potential of women on low salaries and to address the glass ceiling.

Employment promotion and good-quality jobs: policies need to emphasize access to job and labor market integration. The focus must be on policies for quantity and quality of jobs; jobs that offers career and investment possibilities, jobs that are stepping stone rather than dead ends. Addressing labor market segmentation in an important element of enhancing job quality and tackling inequality.

Skills and education: A focus on the early years as well as on the needs of families with school children, is crucial in addressing socio-economic differences in education. More must be done to provide youth with the skill they need to get a good start in the labor market. With a rapidly evolving economy, further efforts, with the close involvements of business and unions, should be made in promoting a continuous up-grading of skills during the working life.

Tax-and-transfer system for efficient redistribution: Adequately designed redistribution via taxes and transfers is a instrument to contribute to more equality and more growth. In recent decades, the effectiveness of redistribution weakened in many countries due to working-age benefits not keeping pace with real wages and taxes becoming less progressive. Policies need to ensure that wealthier individuals but also multinational firms pay their share of the tax burden. Large and persistent losses of low-income groups underline the need for well-designed income-support policies and counter-cyclical social spending.

Unjust Distribution of Wealth

What an unjust distribution of wealth on this planet, could it be that one human being own the whole earth, and we will only be labouring.

The article is very truthful and disturbing to read, but gives us the inside of how wrong and unaware we are, what’s going on over our heads, and what we should not know.

We live in a world where just 62 individuals own as much wealth that half of humanity, a figure that has fallen from 388 people five years ago. Just let that sink in for just a minute. Just 53 men and 9 women have as much wealth as more than 3.6 billion people on this planet. Such a startling statistic highlights how extreme inequality has picked up a dramatic pace.

This time last year, we at Oxfam predicted that the 1 percent would soon own more than the rest of us, a prediction that came true even before 2015 ended.

What this runaway inequality means is that hardworking people at the bottom of the income curve simply don’t make enough to put food on the table or buy medicine when their kids get sick, much less buy a home or start a business, so the engine of our economic growth breaks down. Even the corporate elites meeting in Davos this week have acknowledged that such growing inequality stymies growth.

And while everyone is talking about inequality — from the head of the IMF to the Pope, from President Obama to most of the candidates seeking to replace him – there hasn’t been much action to tackle it.

Instead, power and privilege are being used to rig the system to continue the gap between the richest and the rest of us to levels we have not seen before. Far from trickling down, income and wealth are instead being pulled upwards at an alarming rate. Meanwhile, poverty is deepening and social mobility is shrinking.

While our nation has long presented itself to the world as the model of successful, inclusive growth that lifts millions into the middle class, that is simply not the case today. In fact, the US is now the most unequal rich country in the world.

 

Extreme inequality is bad for all of us, but it’s the poorest among us who suffer the grimmest consequences. People like five year old Morgan (pictured), whom we met while he was playing in the Mukuru slum in Nairobi, Kenya, while his mother worked, sorting through the trash. The local children often go there to scavenge for food scraps, or work alongside the adults.

Despite the fact that he lives in the fastest growing economy in Africa, Morgan’s parents can’t afford to send him to school. But leaked files exposed more than $560 million dollars in Swiss bank accounts that were linked to Kenya. It’s heartbreaking to think the difference tax on such funds could have delivered for kids like Morgan.

And it goes well beyond Kenya. Tax havens are at the heart of a global system that allows large corporations and wealthy individuals to avoid paying their fair share, depriving governments, rich and poor, of the resources they need to provide vital public services and tackle rising inequality.

As much as $7.6 trillion of personal wealth is being hidden in offshore accounts. If tax would be paid on the income that this wealth generates, an extra $190 billion would be available to governments every year, to spend on roads, schools, hospitals.

Tax dodging by multinational companies deprive the world’s poorest countries an estimated $100 billion in tax revenue every year. And it’s happening here as well. US multinational corporations shifted between $500 and $700 billion – a quarter of their annual profits – out of the US, Germany, the UK and elsewhere to a handful of countries including the Netherlands, Luxembourg, Switzerland, and Bermuda in 2012. That same year, they reported $80 billion of profits in Bermuda — more than their combined profits reported in Japan, China, Germany and France. Clearly, something is amiss.

But it doesn’t have to be this way. Extreme inequality is not inevitable — it is the consequence of political choices. We could live in a world where economic growth benefits the poorest people and tax rules work for the many — not just the few. While inequality has many drivers and numerous solutions, we can start to tackle it by ending the era of tax havens.