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Russian Roulette: Taxpayers Could Be on the Hook for Trillions in Oil Derivatives

The sudden dramatic collapse in the price of oil appears to be an act of geopolitical warfare against Russia. The result could be trillions of dollars in oil derivative losses; and the FDIC could be liable, following repeal of key portions of the Dodd-Frank Act last weekend.

Senator Elizabeth Warren charged Citigroup last week with “holding government funding hostage to ram through its government bailout provision.” At issue was a section in the omnibus budget bill repealing the Lincoln Amendment to the Dodd-Frank Act, which protected depositor funds by requiring the largest banks to push out a portion of their derivatives …

American Exceptionalism and American Torture

The Anti-Empire Report #135

In 1964, the Brazilian military, in a US-designed coup, overthrew a liberal (not more to the left than that) government and proceeded to rule with an iron fist for the next 21 years. In 1979 the military regime passed an amnesty law blocking the prosecution of its members for torture and other crimes. The amnesty still holds.

That’s how they handle such matters in what used to be called The Third World. In the First World, however, they have no need for such legal niceties. In the United States, military torturers and their political godfathers …

Regime Change In Cuba

What Does Normalization of Relations mean?

Paul Craig Roberts views normalization of relations with Cuba as a Trojan horse for a US corporate takeover of the Communist island. Is this the beginning of the end for the Cuban Revolution?

The Invasion of Panama

The Proclamation of a Lone Superpower above the Law

Twenty five years ago, before dawn on December 20, 1989, U.S. forces descended on Panama City and unleashed one of the most violent, destructive terror attacks of the century. U.S. soldiers killed more people than were killed on 9/11. They systematically burned apartment buildings and shot people indiscriminately in the streets. Dead bodies were piled on top of each other; many were burned before identification. The aggression was condemned internationally, but the message was clear: the United States military was free to do whatever it wanted, whenever it wanted, and they would not be bound by ethics or laws.

The invasion …

Is Your Doctor Paid by Big Pharma?

There is good news and bad news when it comes to conflicts of interest (COI) between the drug industry and clinical medicine. The good news is the “Sunshine Act,” part of the Affordable Care Act, has been implemented and many drug company web sites now list the payouts–including to “grassroots” groups that are actually Pharma fronts like the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

The bad news is that editors and publishers sill cooperate with pulling the wool over the public’ eyes when it comes to conflicts of interest. Here are some …

Edward Snowden and the NSA Disclosures

Was it all a Waste?

Disclosures from the vast trove of NSA documents obtained by Edward Snowden were first published in The Guardian exactly 560 days ago, and it’s worth asking ourselves whether we have gained anything from the revelations since then. The answer to that question increasingly seems clear: no.

I agreed with the publication of those documents and was appalled by the breadth and depth of America’s surveillance state apparatus. I agree with the principle that those who would trade security for freedom deserve neither. (For a reminder on just how wide-reaching the NSA’s capabilities are, this timeline of …

The Dead End of the Post-Oslo Diplomacy: What Next?

TFF brings excerpts of a longer analysis by professor Richard Falk who until recently also served as the UN Secretary-General’s envoy for the Occupied Territories.

His main argument is that the process of recognising Palestine and the Palestine Authority’s initiative at the UN Security Council will turn out to be futile unless accompanied by an entirely new approach consisting of a global civil society movement — citizens rather than government diplomacy.

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The Palestinian Authority will seek a vote in the Security Council on a resolution mandating Israel’s military withdrawal from Occupied Palestine no later than November …

Splendid Isolation

Almost a thousand Israeli personalities have already signed an appeal to European parliaments for their governments to recognize the State of Palestine.

I am honored to be among the signatories, which include former ministers and members of the Knesset, diplomats and generals, artists and businessmen, writers and poets, including Israel’s three outstanding writers Amos Oz, David Grossman and A. B. Yehoshua.

We believe that the independence of the Palestinian people in a state of their own, next to the State of Israel, is the basis for peace, and therefore as important for Israelis as it is for Palestinians. This, by the …

Questioning Christian Dogma

This year as in every other year, Christianity and fundamentalist capitalism, two great allies, are joining their forces to extract billions of dollars, all over the world, mainly from the poor.

As money flies towards the coffers of the church and into corporate accounts, over-sugary, kitschy Christmas carols and gospels are soaring out from the audio systems of department stores and malls all over the Empire and in almost all of its colonies (Saudi Arabia being an exception).

‘White Christmas’ is re-enacted and faked in the steaming-hot tropical ‘client states’, into where Christianity with all its nomenclature was forcefully injected decades and …

Playing with the Holocaust

Netanyahu’s Throw of the Dice

The iron hand crush’d the tyrant’s head,
And became a tyrant in his stead.

— William Blake, The Grey Monk

The use of historical suffering is standard fare for the descendants. The descendants of history’s victims tend to be the modern day avengers. History’s record is not so much to be righted as washed, cleansed and made anew.
When the political reserves are empty, forms of credit have to be found. In the historical context, the Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, has often had an enormous reserve to draw upon: the terrifying, seemingly bottomless legacy of the Holocaust, the negative …

World Climate Deal Further Away Following Disappointing Peru Talks

Delegates at UN conference struggle with weak agreement

With yet another United Nations-hosted climate change conference making very little real progress, a near miracle will be required if countries are to reach a meaningful and binding global agreement on carbon emissions in Paris next December.

The ‘Lima Call for Climate Action’ document, agreed to on Sunday by 194 countries, is not a new “deal” for the climate. It is a 12-month work plan leading to COP21 a year from now.

The major change – a victory for rich countries – expects countries with rising economies, such as China, India and South Africa, to take action on climate change in …

Go West Young Han

November 18, 2014: it’s a day that should live forever in history. On that day, in the city of Yiwu in China’s Zhejiang province, 300 kilometers south of Shanghai, the first train carrying 82 containers of export goods weighing more than 1,000 tons left a massive warehouse complex heading for Madrid. It arrived on December 9.

Welcome to the new trans-Eurasia choo-choo train. At over 13,000 kilometers, it will regularly traverse the longest freight train route in the world, 40% farther than the legendary Trans-Siberian Railway. Its cargo will cross China from East to West, then Kazakhstan, Russia, Belarus, Poland, Germany, …

The Problem with Obama’s Cuba Speech

Six years into his Presidency, Barack Obama has finally taken steps he campaigned on in 2008 to normalize relations with Cuba. The new policy towards Cuba will include important changes including establishing formal diplomatic relations, removing Cuba from the list of state sponsors of terrorism, and expanding trade relations. However, Obama is doing the right thing for the wrong reasons. His rationale for finally abandoning the hard-line Cold War stance demonstrates his belief that the morality and legality of United States actions are beyond reproach.

“In the most significant changes in our policy in more than fifty years, we will end …

The Three Remaining “Cuban 5” Go Home

In a historic move bypassing congress President Obama restores diplomatic relations with Cuba and in a simultaneous telecast President Raul Castro hails the decision but reminds us that the blockade is still in place, says Michael Ratner of the Center for Constitutional Rights.

Which Democracy?

Which #Democracy? There are so many to choose from: Rhetorical Democracy (R.D.), Civic Democracy (C.D.), Economic Democracy (E.D.), Political Democracy (P.D.), Social Democracy (S.D.). Let’s start with rhetorical democracy.

It was only after the drafting of the U.S. Constitution that the word “democracy” entered the political dialogue. Once it came, it would not leave. For two centuries since, anyone who wishes to be elected to higher office in America must proclaim himself a friend of democracy. And so Rhetorical Democracy (R.D.) was born, the form of democracy that prevails in the United States as of this writing.

This particular kind …

Financial Market Manipulation Is the New Trend: Can It Continue?

A dangerous new trend is the successful manipulation of the financial markets by the Federal Reserve, other central banks, private banks, and the US Treasury. The Federal Reserve reduced real interest rates on US government debt obligations first to zero and then pushed real interest rates into negative territory. Today the government charges you for the privilege of purchasing its bonds.

People pay to park their money in Treasury debt obligations, because they do not trust the banks and they know that the government can print the money to pay off the bonds. Today Treasury bond investors pay a fee in …

Marco Rubio’s “Pure Evil” Hypocrisy

Carl Gustav Jung, the father of analytical psychology, attributed hypocrisy to individuals who are unconscious of “the shadow-side” of their nature. From this idea arose a simple argument: If people better understood their natures, they might love their neighbors more uprightly. For, as Jung says, “…we are all too prone to transfer to our fellows the injustice and violence we inflict upon our own natures.” Yet, of all its incarnations, the hypocrisy of “pure evil” seems worst. A few simple characteristics define it: perpetrators engender evil intentionally and wield it astutely; they inflict wanton destruction on others to their own …

A Failure to Understand

The attack on the Peshawar school is a tragedy that sends senses reeling, an enormity that confounds the senses. It does not help however, to dismiss the people who committed this foul atrocity as ‘inhuman’, or to say they were not really Muslims. It is a convenient fiction that implies a most frustrating unwillingness and inability to understand how human beings are dehumanized and desensitized so they commit such dastardly acts under the moral cover of a perverted religiosity.

This unwillingness and inability to understand is deeply distressing because it shows how far away we are from even identifying what …

Whitewashing CIA torture

“We are [not so] awesome” after all

The logic that torture is a “stain” on US history is the heart of the problem, since it blocks an honest reading of whatever “values” Washington actually stands for.

“This is not who we are. This is not how we operate,” were the words of President Barack Obama commenting on the grisly findings of a long-awaited congressional report on the use of torture by the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).

But what if this is exactly who we are?

The report is difficult to read, not just because it is awfully long – hundreds of pages of a summary …

The Unspeakable in Afghanistan

2014 marks the deadliest year in Afghanistan for civilians, fighters, and foreigners. The situation has reached a new low as the myth of the Afghan state continues. Thirteen years into America’s longest war, the international community argues that Afghanistan is growing stronger, despite nearly all indicators suggesting otherwise. Most recently, the central government failed (again) to conduct fair and organized elections or demonstrate their sovereignty. Instead, John Kerry flew into the country and arranged new national leadership. The cameras rolled and a unity government was declared.  Foreign leaders meeting in London decided on new aid packages and financing for the …