Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Milosevic exonerated

Hmm, wonder if there are parallels with Sri Lanka.  
The ICTY’s exoneration of the late Slobodan Milosevic, the former President of Yugoslavia, for war crimes committed in the Bosnia war, proves again we should take NATO claims regarding its ’official enemies’ not with a pinch of salt, but a huge lorry load.

For the past twenty odd years, neocon commentators and 'liberal interventionist' pundits have been telling us at every possible opportunity, that Milosevic (a democratically elected leader in a country where over 20 political parties freely operated) was an evil genocidal dictator who was to blame for ALL the deaths in the Balkans in the 1990s.

But the official narrative, just like the one that told us that in 2003, Iraq had WMDs which could be launched within 45 minutes, was a deceitful one, designed to justify a regime change-op which the Western elites had long desired.

The ICTY’s conclusion, that one of the most demonized figures of the modern era was innocent of the most heinous crimes he was accused of, really should have made headlines across the world. But it hasn‘t. Even the ICTY buried it, deep in its 2,590 page verdict in the trial of Bosnian Serb leader Radovan Karadzic.

Anyone who dared to challenge the NATO line was labeled a “Milosevic apologist”, or worse still, a “genocide denier”, by ‘Imperial Truth Enforcers’.

But amid all the blather and the hype surrounding the ’trial of the century’ it soon became apparent the prosecution was in deep, deep trouble. The Sunday Times quoted a legal expert who claimed that “Eighty percent of the prosecution’s opening statements would have been dismissed by a British court as hearsay.” That, I believe, was a generous assessment.

The indictment was clearly designed to exert pressure on Milosevic to cave into NATO’s demands.

The trouble for NATO was that by the time Milosevic’s trial was due to start, the Kosovo narrative had already unraveled. The lurid claims made by the US and its allies about genocide and hundreds of thousands being killed, catalogued by the great John Pilger here, had been shown to be false. In September 2001, a UN court officially held that there had been no genocide in Kosovo.

More at
https://www.rt.com/op-edge/354362-slobodan-milosevic-exonerated-us-nato/

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Satyajit Das on Brexit [also ECTA]

Another Fantastic article by Satyajit Das. Much of what he observes is probably applicable to ECTA. e.g. “The reality is that experts [and elite] no longer relate to ordinary people.“ In essence, for those who believe they are born to rule, Brexit signals the need to limit democracy to ensure that important decisions are left to self-certified experts or as EU Martin Schultz said: “It is not the EU philosophy that the crowd can decide its fate”. 
[also read
How businesses refuse to spend a few cents more per garment to end labor exploitation and
Capitalism, Labor and the proposed Indo Lanka ECTA ].

Be a Democracy; Hold a referendum on ECTA
For the disenfranchised, the fruits of growth, investment and international trade remain unattainable. Threats, perceived or real, to jobs and uncertainty about nationality are powerful. The inconvenience of the Non-EU line at immigration, freedom of movement or ability to own a holiday retreat does not concern those who do not have those opportunities. As one voter told the Guardian with stunning simplicity: “If you’ve got money, you vote in … if you haven’t got money, you vote out”.

Pat Buchanan’s observation in Pittsburgh Post Gazette on 3 January 1994 remains uncomfortably accurate: “…it is blue collar Americans whose jobs are lost when trade barriers fall, working class kids who bleed and die in Mogadishu…the best and brightest tend to escape the worst consequences of the policies they promote…This may explain …why national surveys show repeatedly that the best and wealthiest Americans are the staunchest internationalists on both security and economic issues…”

In an editorial price for the Business Insider, American opinion-ist Josh Barro termed the decision “a tantrum”. British voters had made “a bad choice”. It was an “error of direct democracy”. Such important decisions should not be decided by voters but left to “informed” elected officials.

In essence, for those who believe they are born to rule, Brexit signals the need to limit democracy to ensure that important decisions are left to self-certified experts. European Parliament President Martin Schultz was refreshingly clear: “It is not the EU philosophy that the crowd can decide its fate”.

 http://www.nakedcapitalism.com/2016/06/satyajit-das-what-if-anything-does-brexit-really-signify.html

Friday, June 3, 2016

US:Killing of 2 pregnant women: Tactical Mistake

Sometimes you wonder about the chutzpah of US.

So maybe the Sri Lankan government should have called Nandikaddal a “tactical mistake” and sent some goats to Jaffna.

In February 2010 a night raid by special operations forces in Afghanistan killed seven civilians including two pregnant women and two children.

Defense Department investigators concluded that “the amount of force utilized was necessary, proportional and applied at appropriate time.” The investigation did acknowledge that “tactical mistakes” were made.

U.S. soldiers dug the bullets out of the women’s bodies. “They were putting knives into their injuries to take out the bullets,” Sabir told me. I asked him bluntly, “You saw the Americans digging the bullets out of the women’s bodies?” Without hesitation, he said, “Yes.” Tahir told me he saw the Americans with knives standing over the bodies. “They were taking out the bullets from their bodies to remove the proof of their crime.”

A press release published by NATO in Afghanistan soon after the raid asserted that a joint Afghan-international operation had made a “gruesome discovery.” According to NATO, the force entered a compound near the village of Khataba after intelligence had “confirmed” it to be the site of “militant activity.” As the team approached, they were “engaged” in a “fire fight” by “several insurgents.” The Americans killed the insurgents and were securing the area when they made their discovery: three women who had been “bound and gagged” and then executed inside the compound. The U.S. force, the press release alleged, found the women “hidden in an adjacent room.” The story was picked up and spread throughout the media. A “senior U.S. military official” told CNN that the bodies had “the earmarks of a traditional honor killing.” Documents provided to The Intercept contain substantial redactions, particularly in areas dealing with allegations of a cover-up of the circumstances of the killings.

 But the raid quickly gained international infamy after survivors and local Afghan investigators began offering a completely different narrative of the deadly events that night to a British reporter, Jerome Starkey, who began a serious investigation of the Gardez killings.

The Pentagon investigation stands in stark contrast to an independent investigation conducted by a United Nations team, which determined that the survivors of the raid “suffered from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment by being physically assaulted by U.S. and Afghan forces, restrained and forced to stand bare feet for several hours outside in the cold.” The U.N. investigation added that witnesses alleged “that U.S. and Afghan forces refused to provide adequate and timely medical support to two people who sustained serious bullet injuries, resulting in their death hours later.” The Pentagon investigation did note that three of the survivors detained stated they had been “tortured by Special Forces,” but that allegation was buried below statements attributed to other survivors who said being held by the American forces “felt like home not like prisoner” and they were treated “very well.”

In the end, the commander of the Joint Special Operations Command, Vice Adm. William McRaven, visited the compound in Gardez accompanied by a phalanx of Afghan and U.S. soldiers. He made an offer to the family to sacrifice a sheep, which his force had brought with them on a truck, to ask forgiveness.



https://theintercept.com/2016/06/01/pentagon-special-ops-killing-of-pregnant-afghan-women-was-appropriate-use-of-force/


Sunday, May 29, 2016

Iceland does not want foreign investors

A law passed on May 22 by Iceland's parliament is offering the foreign holders of about $2.3 billion worth of krona-denominated bonds a choice of either selling out in June at a below-market exchange rate, or have the money they receive upon maturity be impounded indefinitely in low interest bank accounts. In other words, Iceland is trying to kick out foreign investors.

For now, investors aren't interested in the deal and wish to stay invested in Iceland, even as officials are clearly trying to push foreign investors out. What does that say about the world when some investors believe there is lower counterparty risk dealing with a government (Iceland) hostile to foreign investors than their own governments (US, UK) at home?

Iceland has rebounded since the financial crisis. The Icelandic Krona has stabilized against the Euro, the rate of change in inflation has slowed, and the country has recorded year-over-year growth in GDP each year since 2011.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-28/iceland-has-offered-foreign-bondholders-choice-sell-now-or-have-cash-impounded-indef
http://www.wsj.com/articles/iceland-puts-freeze-on-foreign-investors-1464366399

Monday, May 23, 2016

Capitalism, Labor and the proposed Indo Lanka ECTA

Excerpts from a comment by Kieth on Income Inequality
Feudalism – exploit the masses through land ownership
Capitalism – exploit the masses through wealth (Capital)

Today this is done through the parasitic, rentier trickle up of Capitalism:

a) Those with excess capital invest it and collect interest and rent.
b) Those with insufficient capital borrow money and pay interest and rent.

All this was much easier to see in Capitalism's earlier days.

Malthus and Ricardo never saw those at the bottom rising out of a bare subsistence living.

This was the way it had always been and always would be, the benefits of the system only accrue to those at the top.

It was very obvious to Adam Smith:

The Labour and time of the poor is in civilised countries sacrificed to the maintaining of the rich in ease and luxury. The Landlord is maintained in idleness and luxury by the labour of his tenants. The moneyed man is supported by his extractions from the industrious merchant and the needy who are obliged to support him in ease by a return for the use of his money. But every savage has the full fruits of his own labours; there are no landlords, no usurers and no tax gatherers.
I think Sri Lanka, being rural and an agricultural economy (and specially after Land Reform) has been spared much of the extraction of labor by the capitalist class. Under the British the Sinhalese refused to work on the Plantations because they were self sufficient with their own land and crops.

The proposed Indo Lanka ECTA is the new version of Brits import of Indentured workers for the Plantations. We will end up with cheap Labor.

The most appropriate comparison (from recent history) to ECTA would be the effect of North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) on US employment and industry. Both employment and industry went south Figuratively and literally. Good for big business bad for the people of the US.

The North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA). was signed in 1994, 17 years later, 682,900 U.S. jobs have been “lost or displaced” because of the agreement and the resulting trade deficit. In 1993, before the signing of NAFTA, the U.S. held a $1.6 billion trade surplus over Mexico. By 1997, the tides had turned, and Mexico laid claim to a much larger surplus of $16.6 billion. As of 2010, it’s not even close. Mexico’s trade surplus now hovers around $97.2 billion

The take home is that the poorer country gains. In the case of ECTA, India is by far the poorer based on GDP/capita. Also population wise this is not an agreement between equals. The whole of Sri Lanka is smaller than an Indian city. If the US is getting Mexicanized what would happen to little Sri Lanka.

Obviously Indian labor is cheaper. What is not that well known is they have shortages of water and will attempt to take over water resources.  One method may be privatization of water and another by establishing water hungry industry on the cheap. See how establishment of an Indian fruit juice company Dabur has severely depleted water resources to the detriment of locals.  

Back to NAFTA. One may well ask why the US agreed to NAFTA, who gained. Big Business Multi nationals. They moved their manufacturing to Mexico and gained by cheap labor and taxes. It was really a transfer of wealth from the average Joe to the rich in the US. Rentier extraction of Labor.


Panama Papers: Most listed are Politicians

The most listed occupation in Panama Papers is Politician. One thing is very clear, as officials are hypocritically denouncing the strategies they practice themselves.


I dont agree with much of the referencing article, but link given below

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2016-05-22/guess-what-occupation-most-frequently-cited-panama-papers

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

UK Enclosure/Inclosure Acts and Land Reform in Sri Lanka.

A fantastic article on the Enclosure/Inclosure Acts in England which resulted 0.06 percent (40,000) owing half the land in the UK.  Below are excerpts from the article and some comments comparisons with the Paddy Lands Act of 1958 and Land Reform Act of 1972.  On reading the excerpts, please think about
a) Sri Lanka's decision to pursue a Agricultural Economy vs a Industrial Economy. It consequences on Rural vs Urban population.
b) Large Scale Farming vs small holder Farms and Productivity.  Does increasing productivity help the general population.

Anyway for the Excerpts
For over 500 years, pamphleteers, politicians and historians have argued about enclosure, those in favour (including the beneficiaries) insisting that it was necessary for economic development or "improvement", and those against (including the dispossessed) claiming that it deprived the poor of their livelihoods and led to rural depopulation.
Private ownership of land, and in particular absolute private ownership, is a modern idea, only a few hundred years old. "The idea that one man could possess all rights to one stretch of land to the exclusion of everybody else" was outside the comprehension of most tribespeople, or indeed of medieval peasants. The king, or the Lord of the Manor, might have owned an estate in one sense of the word, but the peasant enjoyed all sorts of so-called "usufructory" rights which enabled him, or her, to graze stock, cut wood or peat, draw water or grow crops, on various plots of land at specified times of year.
In much the same way the Kings of Sri Lanka may have owned the land, but the population was allowed to have a livelihood from the land.
The open field system of farming, which dominated the flatter more arable central counties of England throughout the later medieval and into the modern period, is a classic common property system which can be seen in many parts of the world. The structure of the open fields system in Britain was influenced by the introduction of the caruca a large wheeled plough, developed by the Gauls, which was much more capable of dealing with heavy English clay soils than the lightweight Roman aratrum (Fr araire ). The caruca required a larger team of oxen to pull it —as many as eight on heavy soils — and was awkward to turn around, so very long strips were ideal. Most peasants could not afford a whole team of oxen, just one or two, so maintaining an ox team had to be a joint enterprise.
Paddy Farming in Sri Lanka is open field.  The large stretches on sees are in reality many small holdings. The owners cooperate (they have to) in irrigation, pest management and harvesting increasingly by mechanized combine harvesters (Bhuthaya and Tsunami).
The rights of commoners to take firewood, timber and game from woodlands, and to graze pigs in them, had been progressively eroded for centuries: free use of forests and abolition of game laws was one of the demands that Richard II agreed to with his fingers crossed when he confronted Wat Tyler during the 1381 Peasants Revolt.25 But in the early 18th century the process accelerated as wealthy landowners enclosed forests for parks and hunting lodges, dammed rivers for fishponds, and allowed their deer to trash local farmer's crops.
In the early 1600s, the Stuart kings James I and Charles I, hard up for cash, embarked on a policy of draining the fenland commons to provide valuable arable land that would yield the crown a higher revenue. Dutch engineers, notably Cornelius Vermuyden, were employed to undertake comprehensive drainage schemes which cost the crown not a penny, because the developers were paid by being allocated a third of the land enclosed and drained.
Aha, sounds like the Port City Projects. Well at least not trying to claim the land belonging to the population.
Between 1760 and 1840 most of the fens were drained and enclosed by act of parliament. The project was not an instant success. As the land dried out it shrunk and lowered against the water table, and so became more vulnerable to flooding. Pumping stations had to be introduced, powered initially and unsuccessfully by windmills, then by steam engines, and now the entire area is kept dry thanks to diesel. Since drainage eventually created one of the most productive areas of arable farmland in Britain, it would be hard to argue that it was not an economic improvement; but the social and environmental consequences have been less happy. Much of the newly cultivated land lay at some distance from the villages and was taken over by large landowners; it was not unusual to find a 300 acre holding without a single labourers' cottage on it.
And thirdly, Scotland had been united with England and its extensive pastures lay ready to be "devowered by shepe". The fact that these lands were populated by Highland clansmen presented no obstacle. In a process that has become known as the Clearances, thousands of Highlanders were evicted from their holdings and shipped off to Canada, or carted off to Glasgow to make way for Cheviot sheep. Others were concentrated on the West coast to work picking kelp seaweed, then necessary for the soap and glass industry, and were later to form the nucleus of the crofting community. Some cottagers were literally burnt out of house and home by the agents of the Lairds.
The final and most contentious wave of land enclosures in England occurred between about 1750 and 1850. Whereas the purpose of most previous enclosures had been to turn productive arable land into less productive (though more privately lucrative) sheep pasture, the colonization of Scotland for wool, and India and the Southern US states for cotton now prompted the advocates of enclosure to play a different set of cards: their aim was to turn open fields, pastures and wastelands — everything in fact — into more productive arable and mixed farm land. Their byword was "improvement". Their express aim was to increase efficiency and production and so both create and feed an increasingly large proletariat who would work either as wage labourers in the improved fields, or or as machine< minders in the factories.
The main arguments of those in favour of enclosure were:
(i) that the open field system prevented "improvement", for example the introduction of clover, turnips and four course rotations, because individuals could not innovate;
(ii) that the waste lands and common pastures were "bare-worn" or full of scrub, and overstocked with half-starved beasts;
(iii) that those who survived on the commons were (a) lazy and (b) impoverished (in other words "not inclined to work for wages"), and that enclosure of the commons would force them into employment.
The main arguments of those against enclosure were:
(i) that the common pastures and waste lands were the mainstay of the independent poor; when they were overgrazed, that was often as a result of overstocking by the wealthiest commoners who were the people agitating for enclosure
(ii) that enclosure would engross already wealthy landowners, force poor people off the land and into urban slums, and result in depopulation.
Agreed re "not inclined to work for wages" .  When you a small amount of land why do back breaking work for pennies.  Ceylon had and has this problem in quite a big scale. The Brits had to get landless South Indians to work the tea and rubber plantations.  Maybe ECTA can get Indians over here to work for pennies.
Between 1760 and 1870, about 7 million acres (about one sixth the area of England) were changed, by some 4,000 acts of parliament, from common land to enclosed land.37 However necessary this process might or might not have been for the improvement of the agricultural economy, it was downright theft. Millions of people had customary and legal access to lands and the basis of an independent livelihood was snatched away from them through what to them must have resembled a Kafkaesque tribunal carried out by members of the Hellfire Club. If you think this must be a colourful exaggeration, then read J L and Barbara Hammonds' accounts of Viscount "Bully" Bolingbroke's attempt to enclose Kings' Sedgmoor to pay off his gambling debts:
"Suppose for argument's sake, 20 five-acre farms, cultivated by spade husbandry, together were more productive than a single 100- acre farm using machinery. This did not mean that the landowners would get more rent from them — far from it. As each 5 acre farm might support a farmer and his family, the surplus available for tenants to pay in rent would be small. The single tenant farmer, hiring labourers when he needed them, might have a lower yield, from his hundred acres, but he would have a larger net profit — and it was from net profit that rent was derived. That was why landlords preferred consolidation.
Ironically, it was the same breed of political economists who had previously advocated improvement that was now arguing for grain imports which would make these improvements utterly pointless. The repeal had a delayed effect because it was not until after the construction of the trans-continental American railways, in the 1870s, that cereals grown on low-rent land confiscated from native Americans could successfully undermine UK farming. By the 1880s the grain was also being imported in the form of thousands of tonnes of refrigerated beef which undercut home produced meat. There were even, until the late 1990s, cheaper transport rates within the UK for imported food than for home-grown food.
Aha, productivity and specialization.  FECTA  again can provides use cheap food and goods at the expense of local farmer and producer.
But these disputes, like many others thrown up by the fact that every commons was different, miss the bigger picture. The fact is that England and Wales' rural population dived from 65 per cent of the population in 1801 to 23 per cent in 1901; while in France 59 per cent of the population remained rural in 1901, and even in 1982, 31 per cent were country dwellers. Between 1851 and 1901 England and Wales' rural population declined by 1.4 million, while total population rose by 14.5 million and the urban population nearly tripled.57 By 1935, there was one worker for every 12 hectares in the UK, compared to one worker for every 4.5 hectares in France, and one for every 3.4 hectares across the whole of Europe.
Britain set out, more or less deliberately, to become a highly urbanized economy with a large urban proletariat dispossessed from the countryside, highly concentrated landownership, and farms far larger than any other country in Europe. Enclosure of the commons, more advanced in the UK than anywhere else in Europe, was not the only means of achieving this goal: free trade and the importing of food and fibre from the New World and the colonies played a part, and so did the English preference for primogeniture (bequeathing all your land to your eldest son). But enclosure of common land played a key role in Britain's industrialization, and was consciously seen to do so by its protagonists at the time.
http://www.thelandmagazine.org.uk/articles/short-history-enclosure-britain