RT: Firefighters v arsonists: US confirms $5bn spent on ‘Ukraine democracy’

Published time: April 22, 2014 10:38

Victoria Nuland (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

Victoria Nuland (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

People holding illegal arms and occupying government buildings are perfectly OK, as long as they are permitted to do so, believes Washington’s top diplomat in Europe. But doing exactly the same thing without permission is bad.

This piece of infallible logic came from the US Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, as she refused to equate the situation in Ukrainian capital, Kiev, in February with the present one in eastern Ukraine. In both cases armed militias have seized buildings and refused to leave.

“You can’t compare the situation in Kiev, where now everything that is still being held by protesters is being held with licenses and with the agreement of the government of Ukraine, with the agreement of the Rada, or with regular leases from the owners of the buildings,” Nuland told CNN in an interview.

Of course, when those militias were taking over buildings and building barricades in Kiev and elsewhere in in Ukraine, they didn’t have any license. It was only after they toppled the Ukrainian government that the new authorities moved to legitimize those seizures. The same authorities whose legitimacy is now being questioned by the protesters in the country’s east.

There is another difference between the two armed movements, according to Nuland.

“You can’t compare it to what is happening in eastern Ukraine, where you have armed separatists wearing balaclavas, carrying very heavy munitions, holding government buildings refusing to allow monitors in refusing to allow journalists in,” she claimed.

As if balaclava-wearing radical protesters never pelted the police with firebombs and didn’t shoot at them with guns stolen from police stations in Ukraine. But isn’t this is how the people presumably now in charge came to power?

The Kiev militias are where they are because they could topple the new government just as they did with the previous one. They already besieged the parliament demanded the resignation of the interior minister for the killing one of their leaders, and it took a lot of convincing on the part of the MPs to make them leave.

Of course when the authorities can’t force somebody to follow the law, they can save face by altering that law. Unfortunately for the Ukrainian government, disarming those unruly militias is what they agreed to by signing a joint statement with Russia, the US and the EU in Geneva last week. Pretending that this document applies only to those opposing Kiev simply won’t work.

Naturally, Washington blames Russia for making things worse in Ukraine, and fails to see the impotence of the current government.

“We continue to be concerned that you cannot dress yourself like a firefighter and behave like an arsonist,” Nuland said.

One can wonder what she was dressing herself like as she was treating Maidan activists to cookies and discussing the composition of the government which now sits in Kiev with the US ambassador to Ukraine.

Or how the $5 billion, which the US poured into “building civil society” in Ukraine helped the country overcome its inherent divisions and build a stable nation that can change its government without any street violence.

Alexandre Antonov, RT

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RT: US-Japan: Pivoting apart?

Patrick L Young is expert in global financial markets working in multiple disciplines, ranging from trading independently to running exchanges.

Published time: April 22, 2014 08:28

US President Barack Obama (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe  (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

US President Barack Obama (L) and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

The ‘hope’ having evaporated, the ‘change’ largely absent, President Obama is visiting Japan April 24-25 with a free trade agenda. However, cracks appear to be emerging in the president’s ‘Pivot to Asia’.

The Obama Presidential legacy-building machine is under duress. His second term has quickly led to a widespread sense of bafflement as to quite why he was re-elected, let alone first gained office. That great sweep of ‘hope’ and‘change’ has resulted in a ‘dithering’, intrusive presidency exhibiting a greater drone bloodlust than his less-than-dove-ish predecessor.

Having snubbed and snooped Europe with equal vigor, President Obama is now focusing on free trade to deliver a legacy with the US developing two massive multilateral prongs. TTIP could revolutionize trans-Atlantic trade, but always risks becoming a socialist corporate wheeze for meddling big government and anti-enterprise multinationals to protect the status quo, denying consumers the small business benefits of innovation from the bottom up.

Of course Europe has barely been an afterthought for the Obama Presidency (apart from surveillance priority, some might argue) and thus the great ‘pivot’ has been a largely empty promise to date. Other than snubbing the Europeans, any achievements in Asia are remarkably opaque. However, that’s not to deny the hurried, almost frenzied, impetus from Washington as US negotiators crisscross Asia to create a dozen-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership. Thus multiple bilateral agreements are in gestation alongside the ambitious TTP itself.

President Obama’s trip to Japan on April 24-25 has long been publicized as the moment when a Japanese-US deal will be completed. However, the process is not going well on several levels. Japan’s concerns about increasing Chinese assertions over disputed islands aligns with increasing fears that the US appears weak and incapable of intervention despite its military might. Meanwhile Tokyo bridles at American moral judgment over Prime Minister Abe visiting the controversial Yasukuni shrine.

Recently Japan has remained in the background at the G7 when Russian sanctions have been championed by President Obama in his curious new persona as a neocon puppet with his strings pulled by staffers such as Victoria Nuland. In the wake of the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster, Japan is keen to keep its energy options open, thus Tokyo has been pivoting towards Russia in recent years, further complicating the gradually widening gulf with Washington.

The US, despite the much touted Asian rebalance, has appeared, at best, aloof to Japanese sympathies for some time. (In the halls of power Japanese officials apparently mutter darkly about how the Democrats have become the party of Chinese hegemony, while at least a Republican president would appreciate the special relationship with Japan and respect the appropriate defense protocols in the face of perceived Chinese aggression). In essence the Obama pivot appears to be as ham-fisted in its implementation as the healthcare fiasco.

Back to Free Trade, the two sides apparently remain some distance from a deal. Progress may require long hours in smoke-filled rooms, presumably causing Obama officials great liberal angst over passive nicotine risks. Without such progress, a remarkably vacuous state visit will result. The chances of a deal in one week are, frankly, remote given the chasm between the parties at recent negotiations. All those frequent flyer miles on Air Force One might yet prove to be accrued more in hope than substance.

The substance in this case often concerns foodstuffs. Many nations have powerful farming lobbies. Japan and the US are little different to the EU where French farmers frequently cultivate barricades and mass demonstrations faster than their cash crops. Japan would mitigate farm subsidies, but elimination (a key TPP goal) is not seen as feasible. PM Abe is picking his battles carefully in his radical repositioning of Japan. Japanese rice remains a remarkable bastion of protectionism along with beef, pork and dairy produce. Then there is the thorny automotive issue. Detroit makes many great vehicles but generous pension liabilities renders them uncompetitive compared with Japan’s exports (subject to 2.5-10 percent tariffs Stateside, ranging from cars to light trucks).

With trade deals, analysts always ask “where’s the beef?” In the TTP process, it is precisely issues such as beef which cause huge headaches, especially between major producers such as Australia, Japan and the USA (currently all three have agreed, or are discussing, different beef tariff levels!).

Obama may be on another flight of ‘hope’ when it comes to free trade, both literally and metaphorically. Can he touchdown in Tokyo April 24 and achieve a deal? His wilting reputation needs a fillip as a TTP/TTIP legacy appears to be slipping away as his administration struggles to manage the process.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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RT: Russia postpones planting of GMOs by 3 years

Published time: April 22, 2014 13:54

An agriculturist prepares to plant "Golden Rice" seedlings at a laboratory of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna south of Manila, August 14, 2013. (Reuters / Erik De Castro)

An agriculturist prepares to plant “Golden Rice” seedlings at a laboratory of the International Rice Research Institute in Los Banos, Laguna south of Manila, August 14, 2013. (Reuters / Erik De Castro)

Russia will not start certifying GM seeds for at least three more years due to delays in creating the necessary infrastructure, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev told MPs. Earlier Russia had expected to allow planting such seeds from June.

The delay comes amid the general GMO-skeptic mood that the Russian government adopted recently. The country may even ban the cultivation and import of genetically modified foodstuffs.

Last year, the government allowed the planting of GM seeds starting July 2014 as part of Russia’s accession to the World Trade Organization. Now the deadline will have to change, Medvedev told Russian MPs.

“The government decree will be amended. Not because it was wrong, but because the deadline stipulated in it was too optimistic,” he said, explaining that at the moment there are not enough gene laboratories to meet the demand for certification in Russia.

“But even if the certification starts in three years or after some time, it doesn’t mean that we will allow the use of genetically modified material,” Medvedev said.

He added that the labs and the entire system of certification will still be needed, considering that even with strict regulation of the sale of GM seeds, some of them have found their way into Russia.

“The problem is that GM material is already everywhere,” Medvedev said. “We need to know where and how it is being used. The labs’ task would be to do that. That’s what we are planning to invest in.”

GMOs “may be an absolute evil or pose no real problem,” he added. “We need to see what happens in the next few years. Russia can feed itself without any GM products.”

Medvedev was reiterating his position, voiced in April, when he said that Russia will not import GMO food from other countries.

“We don’t have a goal of developing GM products here or to import them. We can feed ourselves with normal, common, not genetically modified products. If the Americans like to eat such products, let them eat them. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said at the time.

Genetically modified crops are made in the lab, usually to be resistant to certain pests and diseases or withstand pesticides. But their use remains a controversial issue, with many people concerned about the potential harm GM food may cause to human health.

There are also scientifically confirmed problems with crops diversity and emergence of pests that evolved to beat the protection that GMOs were given against them. In the longer term, planting GM seeds may prove less financially beneficial for farmers than advertised by biotech companies and may have environmental side-effects.

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RT: It’s the toxic herbicide Roundup and glyphosates, stupid!


William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst and strategic risk consultant whose internationally best-selling books have been translated into thirteen foreign languages.

Published time: April 22, 2014 12:46

Monsanto's wheat industry affairs director, looks at growth in a wheat field in an undisclosed location in North Dakota (Reuters / Carey Gillam)

Monsanto’s wheat industry affairs director, looks at growth in a wheat field in an undisclosed location in North Dakota (Reuters / Carey Gillam)

Remember Bill Clinton’s famous line in his 1992 presidential debate with then-President G.W. Bush when Clinton said, “It’s the economy, stupid!”

The Medvedev government in Russia recently announced it would ban import and commercialization of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in the Russian Federation. That is commendable to be sure, but new evidence suggests that the health and safety dangers of the GMO assault on our food quality involve the paired agrichemicals that are used in almost all GMO seeds today, namely Monsanto Roundup and other glysophate-based weed killers.

Growing Russian opposition

In December 2013, Professor Irina Ermakova, vice president of Russia’s National Association for Genetic Safety, together with a group of Russian scientists, called on the government to impose a 10-year ban or moratorium in order that the influence of GMOs and their chemical herbicides can be thoroughly studied for their influence on human health. Ermakova some years before conducted GMO rat-feeding tests that showed alarming results, including extreme mortality rates. “It is necessary to ban GMO, to impose a moratorium for 10 years. While GMO will be prohibited, we can plan experiments, tests, or maybe even new methods of research could be developed,” Ermakova said. “It has been provedthat not only in Russia, but also in many other countries in the world, GMO is dangerous. Methods of obtaining the GMO are not perfect, therefore, at this stage, all GMOs are dangerous,” Ermakova added.

At a congress of United Russia deputies from Russian rural villages in Volgograd on April 5, 2014, Medvedev expressedhis clearest opposition to GMOs to date. He stated that Russia will not import GMO products. “If the Americans like to eat GMO products, let them eat it then. We don’t need to do that; we have enough space and opportunities to produce organic food,” he said.

At the end of February, the Russian parliament asked the government to impose a temporary ban on all genetically altered products in Russia. The Russian State Duma’s Agriculture Committee backed a ban on the registration and trade of genetically modified organisms. Indicating support for Ermakova’s call, they suggested that until specialists develop a working system of control over the effects of GMOs on humans and the natural environment, the government should impose a moratorium on the breeding and growth of genetically modified plants, animals and microorganisms.

Long-term rat study

Research indicates strongly that the chemical toxins in the herbicide Roundup sold in combination with every Monsanto GMO plant, as well as most every other, is in fact more toxic to humans than reported. And that, in concentrations far lower than in doses used in the family garden spraying. The evidence points clearly to the fact that the agrichemical industry has engaged in a criminal cover-up of these dangers.

Published scientific research results suggest horrifying corroboration of just that. Yet the EU’s designated food health and safety oversight body, European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and EU governments, to say nothing of the US Food and Drug Authority (FDA), insist on not looking into what could be one of the major sources of ghastly new rises in diseases, illnesses and even death in both the EU and the US and other places where Roundup is widely used.

In September 2012, Professor Gilles-Eric Seralini and his research team at France’s Caen University published a peer-reviewed, first-ever, two-year study of effects of feeding rats not only GMO Monsanto NK603 Roundup-tolerant maize, but also of Monsanto’s herbicide Roundup. The results were so alarming that the corrupt EU Commission and the even-more corrupt scientists of the EFSA scrambled to come up with a way to discredit that study.

A spokesman for the EFSA announced just a few weeks after the publication of Seralini’s bombshell study and without proof, “EFSA’s analysis has shown that deficiencies in the Séralini et al. paper mean it is of insufficient scientific quality for risk assessment. We believe the completion of this evaluation process has brought clarity to the issue.” The EFSA spokesman went on to make the following startling statement: “Serious defects in the design and methodology of a paper by Séralini et al mean it does not meet acceptable scientific standards and there is no need to re-examine previous safety evaluations of genetically modified maize NK603.”

An examiner demonstrates the process of analyzing a genetically modified wheat sample, during a photo call at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in Seoul (Reuters / Lee Jae-Won)

An examiner demonstrates the process of analyzing a genetically modified wheat sample, during a photo call at the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety in Seoul (Reuters / Lee Jae-Won)

No mention of what the “serious defects” nor of why that would not call for repeating the two-year tests with other independent scientific groups around the EU to determine whether or not Seralini’s results were accurate. Shockingly, EFSA declared that no further tests of Monsanto maize were warranted. “Case closed, ladies and gentlemen and don’t ask us for more on this…”

The mainstream media in Germany and across the EU dutifully swallowed that nonsense as the end of the discussion. Monsanto maize and Monsanto Roundup herbicide were “safe.”

Monsanto even managed to get one of its own people into the editorial board of the Journal of Food and Chemical Toxicology which printed the initial Seralini study. Richard E. Goodman, a former Monsanto employee who was later with the Monsanto-backed pro-GMO lobby organization, International Life Sciences Institute (ILSI), was named to an entirely new post at the magazine six months after the Seralini study release, as “Associate Editor for Biotechnology.”

One of Goodman’s first acts was to withdraw the Seralini article. He did so in violation of the guidelines for retractions in scientific publishing set out by the Committee on Publication Ethics (COPE). For any peer-reviewed scientific article to be withdrawn there must be clear evidence that the findings are unreliable due to misconduct (e.g. data fabrication) or honest error; plagiarism or redundant publication; or unethical research. None of those were proven in the Seralini case.

Other Roundup studies show high toxicity

In another review of published studies on the toxicity of the chemical herbicide used with almost all GMO plants, Anthony Samsel and Stephanie Seneff in the US, have found more confirmations the Seralini warnings about the toxic dangers of Monsanto Roundup.

Their review concluded, in regard to glyphosate, the main active component of Roundup herbicide, that, “Residues (of glyphosate-w.e.) are found in the main foods of the Western diet, comprised primarily of sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Glyphosate’s inhibition of cytochrome P450 (CYP) enzymes is an overlooked component of its toxicity to mammals. CYP enzymes play crucial roles in biology, one of which is to detoxify xenobiotics. Thus, glyphosate enhances the damaging effects of other food borne chemical residues and environmental toxins. Negative impact on the body is insidious and manifests slowly over time as inflammation damages cellular systems throughout the body.”

The conclusions, in short, are that Roundup, the most widely used weed killer in the world, is found in the main foods we eat—sugar, corn, soy and wheat. Its main component, glyphosate, inhibits the enzyme of the human body that plays a crucial biological role detoxifying xenobiotics, and thereby exaggerates the toxic effects of other chemical residues in our chemically-saturated industrial foods or other environmental toxins. Its damaging effects accumulate slowly so we do not realize until it is too late. Xenobiotics is the generic term referring to any foreign chemical substance found within an organism that is not normally naturally produced, such as antibiotics or other foreign chemicals.

Today some 80 percent of genetically modified crops, especially maize, soy, canola, cotton, sugar beets and most recently alfalfa, are specifically genetically modified to accept introduction of genes resistant to glyphosate, the so-called“Roundup Ready® feature.”

Monsanto and the agribusiness industry falsely claim Roundup and glyphosate is less toxic than aspirin. That has conveniently insured that the US government makes no special study of the toxicity dangers of Roundup or glyphosate herbicides, despite their massive increased usage in US agriculture since the mid-1990s, when GMO commercial seeds began to spread across North American corn and soybean fields to where today they account for almost 100 percent of all soybeans and near 90 percent of all corn planted in the US.

In EU countries, owing to a convenient labeling loophole, that GMO corn and soybean cocktail is imported as “power feed” for animals from the US or Argentina and Brazil and fed to most beef, dairy, pigs and chickens consumed in the EU. And all of it is saturated with Roundup or other glyphosate chemical toxins. Few people are aware because of absence of labeling requirements.

Link to rise in health disorders?

Samsel and Seneff report: “[M]any of the health problems that appear to be associated with a Western diet could be explained by biological disruptions that have already been attributed to glyphosate. These include digestive issues, obesity, autism, Alzheimer’s disease, depression, Parkinson’s disease, liver diseases and cancer, among others. While many other environmental toxins obviously also contribute to these diseases and conditions, we believe that glyphosate may be the most significant environmental toxin, mainly because it is pervasive and it is often handled carelessly due to its perceived nontoxicity.” (added emphasis-w.e.)

Finally, they state, “glyphosate may be a significant factor in the observed increased risk to Clostridium botulinum infection in cattle in Germany over the past 10 to 15 years. Glyphosate’s demonstrated toxicity to Enterococcus spp. leads to an imbalance in the gut favoring overgrowth of the toxic Clostridium species. Glyphosate has been shown to have remarkable adverse effects on the gut biota in poultry, by reducing the number of beneficial bacteria and increasing the number of pathogenic bacteria in the gut. Highly pathogenic strains of Salmonella and Clostridium were found to be highly resistant to glyphosate…”

The final decision in Russia’s parliament is under intense discussion but the move to an outright ban on GMO food crops in Russia and imports of GMO corn, soya and other products appears to have strong backing. The timing of Medvedev’s remarks in Volgograd may well be a sly Russian slap in Washington’s face for the US-backed coup in Ukraine. Regardless, it is clearly a good move.

Russia by no means stands alone in its action against GMO. On April 12, the US National Grain and Feed Association (NGFA) reported that China’s ban on US corn containing traces of unapproved GMO maize caused a significant drop in US exports that has cost US grain traders $427 million in sales. Last November, the Chinese government banned imports of corn containing GMO or residues of GMO after their discovery of the MIR162 genetically modified corn strain in US shipments. The strain was developed by the Swiss-British Syngenta, and has not been approved for import by Chinese authorities since the company filed an application for approval in March 2010. Before the ban on the Syngenta strain, China was the US’s third largest importer of US corn.

It’s not just Ermakova and leading Russian scientists who are calling for far more independent research on the possible toxic effects of Roundup and glyphosate on animals. Next month there will again be a worldwide grassroots “March against Monsanto” to heighten public awareness about the dangers of GMO. As citizens and human beings we have an inalienable right to know how our food is produced, engineered, and if it is poisoned or not. Until such time, all farmers should voluntarily cease using glyphosate herbicides and concerned citizens should call on the government to ban its sale until conclusively proven safe or not.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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GMO plants, GMO people, and cancer   By Jon Rappoport April 22, 2014

www.nomorefakenews.com 

There is an extraordinary parallel between what biotech corporations are doing with food plants, and what cancer researchers are trying to do with humans.

The comparison is not only instructive, it reveals what the future holds.

The war against cancer has painted a picture of hope: genetic solutions, genetic modifications.

This, despite the fact that there are no successful genetic treatments for any form of human cancer.

The focus on genes is a diversion from obvious causes of cancer in the environment: industrial chemicals, pollutants, pesticides, food additives, and even pharmaceuticals.

This futile gene-fix has a parallel in food crops: modify the genes of plants so they can grow despite drenching them with toxic pesticides. However, massive GMO crop failures and reduced nutritive value of such crops are two reasons why the gene model fails.

So it is with human cancer: “let’s modify the genes of people and they will be impervious to the environmental assault of chemicals that cause cancer.”

In other words, the cancer-fantasy proposes that someday, humans will be able to live in a toxic soup created by mega-corporations, because they have been genetically altered.

There is no reason under the sun to believe this.

“Even if environmental toxins trigger gene mutations that bring about cancer, we can just cancel out those mutations through better human engineering.”

Preposterous.

This is like saying you can cure diseases caused by germs even though people’s immune systems are severely and chronically compromised.

The entire cancer industry exists to protect the corporations that are manufacturing products that cause cancer.

I made these points during a Coast to Coast AM radio interview last week, and I make them here again, because major media news outlets are silent; they are part of the cancer industry and are beholden to the cancer-causing corporations that buy huge blocks of commercials.

In the so-called cancer research community, scientists can spin their wheels and obtain grant monies to do experiments with genes and mice and cell lines forever and never emerge with results that save lives.

These scientists and their corporate masters can herald minor tumor reductions.  But nothing changes. The war on cancer is a war on people.

Think about it: “Look, we can alter the gene structure of food plants. Then we can hit those plants with huge amounts of toxic chemicals (pesticides and herbicides) and the plants will still grow. So let’s do this with humans. Alter their gene structure so all the cancer-causing chemicals in the environment won’t have any effect. It’s brilliant.”

No. It’s insane.

Jon Rappoport

The author of three explosive collections, THE MATRIX REVEALED, EXIT FROM THE MATRIX, and POWER OUTSIDE THE MATRIX, Jon was a candidate for a US Congressional seat in the 29th District of California. He maintains a consulting practice for private clients, the purpose of which is the expansion of personal creative power. Nominated for a Pulitzer Prize, he has worked as an investigative reporter for 30 years, writing articles on politics, medicine, and health for CBS Healthwatch, LA Weekly, Spin Magazine, Stern, and other newspapers and magazines in the US and Europe. Jon has delivered lectures and seminars on global politics, health, logic, and creative power to audiences around the world. You can sign up for his free emails at  NoMoreFakeNews.com.

 

qjrpress@gmail.com

 

 

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RT: ​US intel employees face new consequences for speaking to media

Published time: April 22, 2014 00:02

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (Reuters / Jason Reed)

U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper (Reuters / Jason Reed)Members of the United States intelligence community must now operate within the boundaries of a new media policy, as contact with a journalist without prior approval can now be considered a fireable offense, their boss said on Sunday.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper signed on Sunday a directive which outlines new restrictions that intelligence analysts must consider before speaking to the press about both classified and unclassified information.

“No substantive information should be provided to the media regarding covered matters in the case of unplanned or unintentional contacts,” the directive states, defining “covered matters” as “intelligence-related information, including intelligence sources, methods, activities, and judgments.”

Any contact between intelligence employees and media figures on such issues “must be authorized by their IC [intelligence community] element,” such as the agency chief or another official. “Unplanned or unintentional contact with the media” also must be filed with a relevant public affairs office.

Employees who offer an unauthorized disclosure of classified information to a journalist are open to criminal prosecution, according to the new rules. Even if there is no classified information passed in the process of contact, violating the policy“at a minimum…will be handled in the same manner as a security violation.”

“IC [intelligence community] employees who are found to be in violation of this IC policy may be subject to administrative actions that may include revocation of security clearance or termination of employment.”

But who is a member of “the media,” according to the directive? “Any person…engaged in the collection, production, or dissemination to the public of information in any form related to topics of national security” is sufficient.

The new policy is intended “to mitigate risks of unauthorized disclosures of intelligence-related matters that may result from such contacts.”

The guidelines come about 10 months after the initial publication of leaked documents, supplied by former National Security Agency contractor Edward Snowden, which revealed the NSA’s global spying operations.

Shawn Turner, a spokesman for Clapper, said the rules are a consolidation of existing policies within various intelligence agencies, intended to prove the intelligence community can “police ourselves,” the Guardian reported.

Turner denied the guidelines were connected to the Snowden leaks.

Essentially, the new rules mean that any information on US intelligence given to reporters will be authorized from above, observers say, further straining the relationship between members of the press and their government sources.

“The new policy is likely to be effective in reducing the quality, independence and critical content of intelligence-related information that is available to the press and the public,” wrote Stephen Aftergood, an intelligence analyst at the Federation of American Scientists.

Turner disputed the view that the directive would significantly curb intelligence journalism.

That assertion “would only have merit if this policy required a practice that’s not already in place,” he said.

The directive is not as clear on what happens with an authorized disclosure of classified information, a tactic often used by high-ranking officials to yield an agreeable or positive story in the press.

The policy does not alter any current guidelines regarding internal government whistleblowers who speak up about waste, fraud, or abuse. The new rules state that “appropriate” contact with the press is “encouraged.”

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PressTV: Antagonizing Iran: West strategic mistake

Tue Apr 22, 2014 12:56PM GMT

Even though it was a major exporter of crude oil and held some of the world’s largest natural gas reserves, Iran made a compelling case over half-a-century ago that it needed, almost immediately, to produce an additional 20,000 megawatts of electricity by constructing 23 nuclear power plants.

At the same time, Iran’s government made the case that the country needed to acquire the capacity to enrich uranium in order to fabricate the reactor fuel for such an ambitious program.

Western governments eagerly endorsed these arguments, praising Iran’s then Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi’s ambition to rapidly modernize Iran while overlooking the reality that he was presiding over a ruthless dictatorship and diverting much needed capital to purchase massive amounts of weapons from the US and other Western countries. And so, during the 1960s and 1970s, billions of dollars were invested in establishing an Iranian nuclear program and training thousands of Iranian nuclear experts in the West – until Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution replaced the monarchy with an Islamic Republic.

After charging enormous sums of money to build the infrastructure for a comprehensive nuclear industry in Iran, Western companies pulled out of the country, leaving large numbers of highly qualified experts and scholars wondering about their fate. Iran’s new political leaders recognized the importance of an advanced nuclear program to progress in fields such as medicine, agriculture, industry and energy; attempts were made to find foreign partners to complete the projects, but with little success. Progress in Iran’s nuclear development only resumed after Iranians learned to rely on themselves and their own scientists to move the program forward.

The US, which had enthusiastically supported Iran’s nuclear program under the Western-backed shah, had now become Tehran’s leading antagonist, relentlessly threatening countries to refrain from cooperating with Iran. Not only were friendly countries coerced into steering clear of Iran’s nuclear program, they were even warned not to invest in Iran’s oil and gas industry.

The nuclear issue

The nuclear issue later became an excuse for the US, eventually joined by the EU, to impose “crippling sanctions” on Iran, in order to inflict severe pain on ordinary Iranians. Among other things, these sanctions led to a critical shortage of imported medicines in Iran. As a result, large numbers of children and cancer patients have died. This outcome calls to mind then US Ambassador to the United Nations Madeleine Albright’s response to a question about the more than half-a-million Iraqi children who had died because of US-instigated sanctions: “We think the price was worth it.”

By now, the US and its European allies have accrued abundant experience imposing suffering on ordinary Iranians. Before the revolution, they imposed and maintained a brutal monarchy in Iran. After the revolution, the US gave refuge to the shah and his henchmen (which led to the takeover of the US embassy in Tehran) and confiscated Iranian assets.

During the 1980s, Washington supported then Iraqi President Saddam Hussein’s ruthless aggression against Iran. Not only did it assist the Iraqi dictator in producing chemical weapons and provide him with satellite photos so that his army could use them with greater precision against Iranian civilians as well as combatants, it even blocked the UN Security Council from identifying, condemning, or taking action against the perpetrator of these incredible crimes against humanity.

Following Saddam’s massacre of 5,000 Iraqi Kurds in Halabja in 1988, the US government – though aware of the facts – nonetheless attempted to attribute this atrocity to Iran. Thousands of Iranians continue to suffer and die today because of such barbarism – yet, despite all this, the Islamic republic has always refused to use or even to produce chemical or biological weapons.

Over the years, the West’s acts of sustained violence against the Iranian people have steadily grown – downing a civilian airliner, destroying naval ships and oil installations, support for groups conducting terrorist strikes inside Iran, and carrying out cyber-attacks.

Despite these grievances, successive administrations in Iran have repeatedly indicated that, if the US moves to recognize and respect the Islamic republic as a sovereign and independent country, rapprochement would still be possible. Iranian officials have frequently stated that respecting Iran’s rights, including its right to peaceful nuclear energy within the framework of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, is a prerequisite for normalized relations and would significantly decrease regional tensions.

Many Iranians are convinced that their country’s offers for reconciliation have been rejected by Washington and its Western partners because of Iran’s opposition to apartheid in Palestine and the enormous influence of the Zionist lobby in the US. In turn, the Islamic republic’s determination to be a truly independent country motivates Western powers to seek to delegitimize it.

During former President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration, Western governments and media outlets relentlessly attempted to depict the former president as a major threat to regional and global peace (paradoxically, when it suited the Western narrative, he was also portrayed as powerless). Following the 2009 Iranian presidential election, Western “experts” and policymakers cited unrest in Tehran (encouraged by Western-affiliated media outlets) to justify their refusal to come to terms with Ahmadinejad’s victory and attempted to depict him and the Islamic republic as illegitimate.

With the election of President Hassan Rouhani, the anti-Iranian lobby and Western propaganda machine faced a different situation. The new president was elected under the same electoral process used during the previous election and with a very high turnout. Hence, it became clear that Iranians continue to trust the polling procedures and ignored claims of illegitimacy and fraud.

Demonizing the new president has also become more difficult because of the sharp contrast between Rouhani’s approach and rhetoric and that of Ahmadinejad’s. The new president has been careful not to make statements that could be willfully mistranslated by Western media – a regular feature of their coverage of the former president.

‘Heroic flexibility’

Rouhani also took a more conciliatory approach towards the West, in order to provide an opportunity for the US government to reconsider what Iranians believe to be is its historically emotional and irrational attitude towards the Islamic republic.

To this end, the new Iranian administration initiated an approach that Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called “heroic flexibility”, to examine whether the Western members of the so called P5+1 (US, Russia, China, UK, France plus Germany) are serious about a mutually acceptable negotiated settlement. The initial result of this approach was the Joint Plan of Action concluded with regard to the nuclear issue in November 2013.

Despite the existence of an already intrusive IAEA inspection regime that has never revealed anything more than a peaceful civilian nuclear program, the Iranian government agreed to even further transparency going far beyond its international obligations. These and other goodwill gestures came at a price, as some Iranians began to raise questions about the degree of flexibility being shown.

Nevertheless, US President Barack Obama and other senior US officials continue to threaten Iran with military strikes and to refrain from explicitly acknowledging Iran’s full nuclear rights. This has increased suspicions among Iranians that the US still clings to a destructive, zero-sum worldview and that it believes it can somehow force Rouhani to sign away Iran’s sovereign rights. This is a potentially dangerous misunderstanding of the Iranian president’s position and could lead to disastrous Western miscalculations.

Regardless of their moral implications, Western policies in countries like Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Egypt, Bahrain, and Syria in recent years have already had devastating consequences for the US’ global strategic position. In this regard, the cases of Iran and Ukraine are particularly interesting examples of how the continuation of such policies by the US and its partners can inflict even more damage on their standing and influence around the world.

To force Iranian capitulation, Western countries have, among other things, excluded Iran, with the world’s second-largest proven reserves of natural gas, from the EU market, thus consolidating a Russian near-monopoly. And now that they wish to impose a Kiev-based coup regime on southern and eastern Ukraine, they have almost no cards to play. Ironically, crippling sanctions have started to cripple the tormentor.

SMM/SL

Seyed Mohammad Marandi is professor of North American Studies and dean of the Faculty of World Studies at the University of Tehran. More articles by Professor Marandi.

 

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