28 March 2015


The following item from Antony Loewenstein's blog about a South African writer is reminiscent of the South African apartheid years when freedom of speech was strictly forbidden.

It was to be hoped that with Mandela's election and that of his successors South Africa would indeed become a liberated society, but, in fact, the reverse has occurred under Mbeki and Zuma.

Where is the South Africa we all fought so hard to establish? What happened to all the hopes and aspirations of its "liberated" citizens who now had the vote and were in the majority in parliament, not in the minority?  

The following story is yet another tragedy in the long line of tragedies since 1994 and, like Loewenstein, we need to address the people who were allowed to perpetrate this terrible crime and ensure it does not happen again.

Standing for free speech as South African writer assaulted

Antony Loewenstein,  27 March 2015

I just heard about this shocking story in South Africa and signed a statement in solidarity:

The savage attack on Zainub Dala shows the terror of the freedom to use words, and the desire to obliterate them.

On Wednesday March 18 author, Zainub Priya Dala was violently attacked as she left her hotel during the Time of the Writer Festival in Durban. A woman driving alone, she was harassed by three men who forced her off the road, cornered her, held a knife at her throat, smashed a brick in her face, and called her “Rushdie’s bitch”. The day before she had been asked about writers she admired: Salman Rushdie’s name had figured on a long list of others. People walked out in protest.

Writers do not fear difference of opinion. On the contrary, we thrive on difficulty, on complexity, on posing vexed questions and exploring unresolved ideas. We sketch characters with conflicting emotions, fraught relationships with their families, their lovers and their gods, we place them in troubled circumstances, sometimes offer them redemption. This is the stuff of good drama, of engaged fiction. We gravitate towards, not away from, debate and nuance, knowing that the more considered the idea the better the text.

But what we do not thrive on, and what we will not tolerate, is violent intimidation. Like us, Dala is a writer. She is a reader. She is both a consumer of and producer of words. She would not have avoided a conversation; she would not have shut down a debate. But debate, conversation and engagement are not possible in the face of violence.

And this type of violence – cowardly, sinister, designed to create fear in the moment and silence in the future – is the sort that simultaneously demonstrates its terror of words and its desire to obliterate them. In South Africa, our freedom of speech and movement is a fundamental right. Our Constitution insists on them. It is the same Constitution that protects the rights of those uncomfortable with or offended by Rushdie’s work.

The question of freedom of expression, of speech, has occupied South African writers for decades and is one that has changed shape over the years as we’ve moved from repression to democracy and into the troubling era of the “secrecy Bill”. As South Africans, as writers, we have not always experienced freedom but we have always known what we were fighting for, sometimes at a fatal cost.

We have always known that freedom of expression is, at its deepest, most profound level, the right to speak without fear. It is the knowledge that sharing an opinion with the public should at best be met with passionate engagement, at worst with disinterested dismissal. It is, in its simplest form, the right to speak. It is also the right to listen and to be heard.

There is no glory to be had in attacking an unarmed woman alone. There is nothing heroic about attempting to intimidate people into silence. This was an unconscionable and shameful act. Above all, it was criminal.

As writers, as South Africans, we wish to make this plain: we will not be silenced and intimidated by brutish thuggery. We stand in solidarity with Dala. She is one of us, and in the tradition of our country’s resistance and resilience, we say clearly and unanimously that an injury to one is an injury to all.

·        PEN South Africa, the local chapter of PEN International, a worldwide association of writers; Njabulo Ndebele, Nadia Davids, NoViolet Bulawayo, Rustum Kozain, Mandla Langa, Margie Orford, Phillippa Yaa de Villiers, Imraan Coovadia, Gabeba Baderoon, Fourie Botha, Imran Garda, Kirsten Miller, Thando Mgqolozana, Ben Williams, Tshifhiwa Given Mukwevho, Dilman Dila, Siphiwo Mahala, Fiona Snyckers, Helen Moffett, Nthikeng Mohlele, Percy Zvomuya, Jacob Dlamini, Zakes Mda, Ivan Vladislavic, Elinor Sisulu, Rachel Zadok, Louis Greenberg, CA Davids, Futhi Ntshingila, Tony Eprile, Mark Winkler, Charlotte Otter, Beverley Naidoo, Elaine Proctor, Bettina Wyngaard, Sumayya Lee, Margaret von Klemperer, Hettie Scholtz, Danie Marais, Liesl Jobson, Henry Jack Cloete, Ingrid Glorie, Marita van der Vyver, Isobel Dixon, Jackie Phamotse, Lili Radloff, Adeline Radloff, Antony Loewenstein

18 March 2015


13 Mar 2015

Inside The Department: The Explosive Leaked Transcripts From The Moss Review

By Max Chalmers and Chris Graham

A senior public servant’s candid revelations about ‘shit-worried’ Scott Morrison, protests on Nauru, the violence on Manus, and the sacking of Save The Children workers. Max Chalmers and Chris Graham report.

In his September 25, 2014 video message to asylum seekers detained on Manus Island and Nauru, Scott Morrison plays the tough guy.

A deadpan Minister for Immigration speaks directly into the camera: “If you are currently in Papua New Guinea or Nauru, you will not be transferred to Australia… you will remain there until you either choose to return, or you are resettled somewhere else other than in Australia.

“Now is the time to think about your future, for you and your family.”

The video was designed to bludgeon detainees into returning to the countries from which they fled.

It backfired, spectacularly.

Contrary to Morrison’s message, there was no influx of ‘illegals’ on Nauru asking the Department of Immigration and Border Protection to send them home.

Instead, there was widespread anger, and protests. And as the anger grew, so did the numbers protesting, and so did the intensity.

Over the course of a week, both adults and children began to self-harm, with detainees drinking shampoo and mosquito repellent, others attempting suicide by hanging, and some detainees as young as 15 sewing their lips together.

The disturbing details are contained within a string of interviews with Philip Moss, the former Integrity Commissioner charged by the Abbott Government with investigating allegations that asylum seekers on Nauru were raped, and that government contracted workers were involved in assisting detainees in the protests, including coaching them to self-harm in order to generate public sympathy for their plight.

Leaked transcripts of some of those interviews have been obtained by New Matilda. They contain deeply disturbing testimony of asylum seekers about their treatment on Nauru.

They also contain some stunning insights into the inner workings of the Department of Immigration.

One of the nation’s highest ranking public servants – Mark Cormack (pictured right), a former Deputy Secretary, Immigration Status Resolution Group in the Department of Immigration - is interviewed by Moss.

Cormack is directly responsible for the handling of asylum seekers, once they’ve been detained by Australian authorities.

Cormack’s interview was held on December 10 last year, just a few days before he left the department. It is remarkably candid.

Cormack reveals that as the protests over Morrison’s video gathered momentum, Morrison became “shit worried” he would have another Manus Island on his hands, a reference to days of violent protests inside and outside the Papua New Guinea-based Australian detention centre, protests which ultimately saw an Iranian asylum seeker, Reza Berati, beaten to death by the very government workers paid to protect him.

Some of Cormack’s more startling testimony reveals that:

1. Morrison’s “looseness” was to blame for the fact media were mislead over the death of Berati, despite the Minister later blaming the error on flawed departmental advice.

2. In the days immediately after the release of his video, Morrison became “shit worried” about the situation on Nauru, with Cormack fearing it could escalate to “a scale much worse than Manus”.

3. Cormack promised the Minister “a list of the names” of Save The Children workers who were suspected of agitating with asylum seekers and possibly coaching them to self-harm. They would then be removed from Nauru. Morrison “heartily agreed” with the plan, and then was “continually on [Cormack’s] back” until the staff left the island.

4. The 10 Save The Children workers who were subsequently ordered off Nauru by the department may not have been “the right 10 people”.

5. Cormack appeared to criticise the fact the Moss review is investigating both rape allegations and claims of staff misconduct, and tells Moss during his testimony that “we’re going to have to be very careful about what we say, what the Minister did….”

6. Morrison believed that asylum seekers might have been “put up” to allege rape in order to bring the Australian immigration detention process into disrepute.

New Matilda will be reporting details of other transcripts in the coming days. In the meantime, here are some of Cormack’s insights into Australia’s system of immigration detention.

1. Scott Morrison’s “looseness”

IN THE days following the February 2014 murder of asylum seeker Reza Berati on Manus Island – violence which saw an additional 77 detainees injured, 13 seriously and one critically - Morrison initially tried to pin the blame on detainees because, in his words, they had broken out of the safe confines of the immigration compound.

Morrison’s claim was contradicted by media reporting at the time, including by former New Matilda editor Marni Cordell, which revealed police “went in shooting” after several days of internal protests, and that Barati had been beaten to death inside the confines of the detention centre.

Within hours, Morrison began backing away from the story, but he waited five full days before finally abandoning it altogether. In finally correcting the reports, Morrison laid the blame for his initial error on information he had been provided at the time.

“When I first reported on this matter in Darwin in the early hours of that morning, just hours after the incident, the initial reports were that events had taken place outside the centre. It was important to brief on the issue as early as possible on Tuesday morning as there had been a tragic death.

 Information is rarely perfect soon after the event. Any early reports are always qualified along these lines, as my report on that morning was,” Morrison told media.

But according to his testimony to Philip Moss, Mark Cormack has a different recollection of events.
“A person died, many people were injured, the public lost faith in the government’s policy, the Minister suffered a major credibility hit because of some looseness in public communication on his part immediately after the event, which subsequently had to be corrected, and then we had to go through this process of reparation and restoration to the point where we’ve kind of recovered from that,” Cormack told Moss.

“But many people will never forget that, same as people don’t forget the Villawood riots and other riots, people don’t forget that sort of stuff.”

2. Morrison became “shit worried”

FOLLOWING the release of Morrison’s video to asylum seekers on Nauru on September 25, 2014, Cormack acknowledges that tensions escalated quickly among detainees, and was sustained and organised.

Children and adults were self-harming, and some of the incidents were being filmed and leaked out to media.

Cormack describes the situation on Nauru as “five or six days of large scale disruption”, which, “if not stopped could lead to a dramatic meltdown of a scale much worse than Manus, because there were kids involved, there were women involved, there are families involved, there are unaccompanied minors involved, and there weren’t any [proper] fences really... although we’ve put some up since then. But really there isn’t a lot to contain people there, other than the physical environment…. I mean if people want to get out of there, they can, and they do.”

The major concern Cormack conveyed to Moss was his fear that some staff from Save The Children – a non government organisation contracted by the department to provide social services for detainees – had become too close to detainees, and were involved in assisting them in the escalating protests, and coaching them to self-harm.

Cormack’s concerns were backed up by an intelligence report from other contractors on the island, Transfield and Wilson Security, dated September 30 (five days after the release of the Morrison video) which warns the government of a sequence of likely events, all of which appeared to be coming true.

“Suddenly, we saw [happening on the island] what the intel report had said would happen, which is that you would see people take more detailed information reports that could be discoverable in an FOI context, and you would see people… participating in more organised self-harm involving children,” Cormack says.

“So you get this report at the same time as you are seeing … five to six days of growing kind of peaceful protests… and you think, hmmmm, I think there might be something to this intel report. And by the way, I lived through Manus and other things and there’s a certain sense of foreboding happening here, and… this is off the back of a month-by-month buildup of concerns about [the actions of] Save The Children [staff].”

Cormack then describes the actions taken by him and Angus Campbell, the former head of the defence force and the man leading ‘Operation Sovereign Borders’, the government’s crackdown on boat arrivals.

“… this would have been towards the end of September, I think the 30th of September is the date of the intel report, so it was probably a couple of days after that.

“Angus [Campbell] and I meet twice a week with the Minister on all matters Operation Sovereign Borders, and obviously my bit’s the Offshore Processing Centres, Angus does the boats, and all that sort of stuff as well.

“The Minister was shit worried about how things were going in Nauru, and we shared with him this intelligence [report]… Basically [we] said, “Have a look at this.”

Cormack adds: “What I put to the Minister was we’re very concerned about what [the intelligence report] says."

The veracity of some of the claims in the intelligence report have since come under close scrutinyin a Lateline report aired earlier this week, and by Philip Moss himself, who during the course of his interviews repeatedly challenges the author of the intelligence report, Lee Mitchell, a senior intelligence analyst with Wilson Security, about the claims of self-harm coaching.

While the truth of that allegation in particular remains unclear – the Moss review has still not been released – what is apparent from the interview with Cormack is that Morrison was kept informed of a subsequent plan to sack Save The Children staff.

And in the end, that’s what the Department of Immigration did. At Cormack’s behest, 10 Save The Children workers were identified, then removed from the island.

3. Morrison ‘heartily agrees’ with plan to get rid of 10 Save The Children workers

CORMACK'S interview reveals some remarkable admissions about the Minister’s knowledge of the fate of the ‘Nauru 10’ – the Save the Children staff who were summarily removed from Nauru, amid accusations of misconduct.

“I said to the Minister, ‘Minister what I’m going to do is I’m going to get a list of the names of the people who were identified as orchestrating or participating in this kind of behavior. I will get a list put to me, and I will exercise a right under our contract to have those people removed’,” Cormack tells Moss.

“That’s what I said to [Morrison]. And he heartily agreed.”

Within a day or so, a list emerged. On it were the names of 10 Save The Children staff.

Cormack continues: “So I took a judgment call, Philip… to request that those people be removed from any ongoing participation in the Regional Processsing Centre activities.

“[The Department] simply executed what I considered to be a lawful order from myself, which I had socialised with the Minister, but he had not ordered me to do, but was clearly on my back from the time I uttered it to the time those people were seen to be either off the island or never coming back to the island. [Morrison said] ‘Have you dealt with those people? Have you dealt with those people?’"
Cormack tells Moss that within days of the 10 workers being removed, “it all subsided”.

Other evidence in the Moss transcripts conflicts with that claim – protests apparently continued for weeks. But Cormack’s remaining testimony also raises some important questions.

4. We might not have “the right 10 people”

THE removal of the 10 workers was a major news story at the time, with the Daily Telegraph splashing the story after being leaked the intelligence report.

It broke the morning Morrison announced the Moss review, although, notably, an ongoing federal police investigation does not appear to have identified the source of the leak.

In one interview conducted by Moss, Department of Immigration official Kylie Burnett agreed with a proposition put to her that identifying the 10 sacked Save The Children workers was “the proper thing to do”.
And a Save The Children manager based on Nauru also agreed that some of the workers sent home had likely been engaged in misconduct. But she expressed surprise at the departure of at least one staff member, stating, “None. None, there is zero,” when asked if she could think of any reason why that particular staff member was removed.

That same manager alleged some instances of misconduct on the part of removed staff, however it appears to be limited predominantly to issues related to data security.

But the man at the top – Mark Cormack – appears far less certain. After devising the strategy to remove the Save The Children workers, his testimony to Moss contains an extraordinary admission.
“… Whether they were the right ten people, whether it was pure coincidence, I don’t know you’re ever going to find the evidence to say one way or the other,” Cormack said.

“But to me, what I’m comfortable about is that I lawfully executed a provision under our contract (to have the workers removed).

“I did so off the background of very severe disorder…. And I don’t regret a single thing that I’ve done, Philip, in relation to this. If I have over-managed it, if somebody can prove a cause and effect or disprove a cause and effect they’re welcome to do that.

“But to be perfectly honest, I take my responsibilities very seriously to manage the order of these places, and the people that I have to trust are our contracted service providers and also the government of Nauru, who also have expressed a growing… dissatisfaction and discomfort with the Save The Children people.”

The 10 workers removed from Nauru have begun legal proceedings against the Commonwealth.

5. “We’re going to have to be very careful”

ANOTHER exchange between Cormack and Moss leaves open a tantalising question.
Cormack expresses concern that the Moss review has blended “two bits of unrelated activity” - an apparent criticism that the review is charged with investigating both allegations of sexual assault against asylum seekers, but also the alleged misconduct of staff.

Cormack appears to see them as two entirely separate issues.

“… I think what happened – and I’ll come to what the Minister did, and we’re going to have to be very careful about what we say, what the Minister did…”

Moss interrupts: “Sure.”

When Cormack continues, he trails off on a different tangent, and never discloses what Morrison did.



6. Morrison thinks rape allegations a "put up" to damage Australian detention process

THE transcript also contains a comment from Cormack about what he perceives as Morrison’s response to the allegations asylum seekers had been raped.

“[Angus Campbell and I] expressed concerns, obviously, about what the intel was saying, which in [Morrison’s] mind suggested a very close link between allegations of sexual assault and people potentially being put up to make allegations that would bring the whole system into disrepute.”

It’s also clear in Morrison’s public statements that he has doubts about the authenticity of rape claims.
In his press conference announcing the Moss Review, Morrison tells media: "Serious allegations have been made regarding sexual misconduct and abuse at Nauru, and such allegations should never be taken lightly, should never be made lightly.

"On receipt of those allegations, and in addition to seeking further information, those matters were referred to my department for assessment, and advice on what further action should be taken.

"In addition to that, and in parallel, I’ve been provided with reports indicating that staff of service providers at the Nauru centre have been allegedly engaged in a broader campaign, with external advocates, to seek to cast doubt on the government’s border protection policies more generally, and that also casts some doubt on the integrity of previous allegations.

“I’m drawing no conclusions about any of these matters, but it’s very important that we get these matters resolved."

Morrison also describes the allegations of sexual misconduct as “abhorrent” and tells media he would be “disturbed” if they took place.

The real Cormack

CORMACK'S interview with Moss is even more compelling when compared to the combative evidence he gave a few months earlier to the President of the Human Rights Commission, Gillian Triggs, during her Inquiry into children in immigration detention.

TRIGGS: … Is it acceptable to have children, held on Christmas Island, in shipping bunkers, containers, on stony ground, surrounded by phosphate dust, in that heat, with no education, at the moment, an acceptable environment into which to send children?

CORMACK: We operate within the policy of the government of the day. We put in place measures that recognise that there will be, consistent with government policy, a requirement to detain children, and the last time I looked, president, there was no shipping container…

GILLIAN TRIGGS: I've seen them.

CORMACK: They are containerised accommodation, they are not shipping containers.

TRIGGS: Thank you very much, is that not a shipping container?

CORMACK: No it's not.

TRIGGS: What is it then?

CORMACK: It's not. It's modular accommodation. It is. If you want to use these emotive terms…

Ironically, Cormack’s testimony to Moss is littered with emotive terms, perhaps none more so than his startlingly frank assessment of what occurred earlier that year on Manus Island, when Reza Berati was beaten to death by the men paid to protect him.

“… I think the thing that had the greatest impact on me was just the scale of the unrest, the large injury toll that was inflicted upon people, the fact that in the case of Manus, it got beyond the point where we couldn’t control it. And as you know, what happened with Manus [was] people wielding machine guns, assault rifles and effectively the PNG mobile squad broke down the fence, fired tear gas and then followed that with rounds of automatic shotgun (sic) at people who were unarmed, and they were joined by Salvation Army local staff, who came and absolutely beat the shit out of large numbers of people and killed a man.”

It was precisely this horror, says Cormack, that motivated him to move against the Save The Children workers, after he formed the belief the protests on Nauru could escalate to “a scale much worse than Manus”.

The Moss review

THE Moss Review has still not been released by the Abbott Government, although it is understood to have been completed.

It remains unknown if Moss finds any evidence of self-harm coaching on Nauru, although New Matilda understands Moss may have uncovered evidence of staff misconduct around the removal of sensitive data from the island.

Cormack and Morrison have both moved on from their roles in the Immigration Department - Cormack to another deputy secretary position in the Department of Health and Ageing, and Morrison to the Social Services portfolio.

But it seems they may well be brought back together one final time.

New Matilda is seeking comment from Minister Scott Morrison and Mr Cormack, but it was not available at the time of press.

* New Matilda is a small, independent Australian media outlet. We rely almost entirely on subscriptions for our survival. If you want to help fund our independent, investigative journalism, please consider subscribing here.


Zapiro in the Mail and Guardian from 14 December 2014 makes a very good introduction to the following article:

This article is from Counterpunch Weekend Edition 6-8 February 2015
For South Africa’s electricity supply, a muddle through, a meltdown or a miracle?

South Africa in the Dark

South Africa is losing its power, literally: it’s a process called “load shedding” that will last for the foreseeable future. The state energy utility Eskom is careening out of control, begging for an emergency $4.5 billion bailout within the $120 billion national budget later this month
The coming fork in the road provides three distinct directions. The poorly-lit one straight ahead suffers from potholes that force stop-start-reverse maneuvers
Second, the most scary route away from this fork lacks streetlights and appears to be illuminated only by a brief, fiery meltdown – utter grid failure – at the end of the road. Then, no Eskom or municipal electricity supplies will be available for weeks, they say.

In a third direction, looking leftwards, a light flickers at the end of a dangerous tunnel, but to get there safely means slowing the vehicle to a manageable pace and tossing the greediest 1% of passengers out, thus allowing everyone else to at least enjoy basic-needs electricity.

When originally built, this vehicle had the capacity to run quickly – with 43 000 MegaWatts of installed peak power – but in coming months and probably years, only 70% is available for use because of delayed maintenance. As a result, travel on the status quo road will become ever more chaotic as competition rises for declining electricity supplies.

Making excuses for muddling through

Eskom chief executive officer Tshediso Matona attributes “the unreliability of our equipment” to his predecessors, who delayed maintenance due to populist electioneering by the ruling party and, as well, “the World Cup played a big role” because the lights had to stay on in mid-2010.

Within corporate South Africa, the 31-member Energy Intensive Users’ Group (EIUG) comprises most of the mining houses and smelters customers; the EIUG consumes 44% of the country’s electricity. It’s at the core of what academics term the ‘Minerals Energy Complex’; its leaders were the main authors of the state energy policy in 2010.

The ‘muddling through’ scenario entails Eskom bumbling along, as it has the past quarter century since major decisions were taken about what was then its overcapacity crisis. Instead of mothballing its climate-wrecking coal-fired power plants, Eskom attracted new smelters constructed by BHP Billiton and the Anglo American Corporation by offering massive rates discount, which still today mean huge firms get power at 1/8th what ordinary consumers pay.

Sometimes the mines and smelters agree to lower their demand. But the EIUG retains sufficient power that its former director Mike Roussow is now a top Eskom advisor.

When, for example, last November 2 Eskom’s Majuba coal silo crashed, “National Load Shedding [a term for brown-out] was implemented affecting municipal customers and Eskom residential customers” and not the mega-guzzlers, according to the EIUG. Much later, there was “curtailment from Key Industrial Customers on 12 November to assist Eskom in meeting demand requirements over the peak.”

They are able to maintain this power because of prevailing power relations in the society. Ironically, the most angry passengers in the back of Eskom’s chaotic fleet include furious trade unionists and township residents who are ANC members but who have been paying extreme price increases annually – more than 150% cumulatively since 2007 – while experiencing degenerating service.

One green passenger, Earthlife’s Dominique Doyle, blamed Eskom for emitting more CO2 than anyone else in Africa and hence contributing to more atmospheric moisture which causes more rain. That in turn made Eskom’s coal dust a useless soup last March, thus causing further emergency load-shedding. It’s a refreshingly valid argument in scientific terms, and unusual, in a society near the bottom of world rankings in climate awareness.

‘Meltdown’ emanating from excessive mining and smelting
As a result of such ingrained EIUG stubbornness, the doomsday scenario is not impossible: an out-of-control rolling black-out that prevents Eskom from turning its dozen main powerplants back on without the infamous ‘black start’ routine.
Last June, the firm’s spokesperson Andrew Etzinger assured that that scenario would result in only a fortnight-long crisis, but not to worry, a good supply of diesel makes the black-start restart feasible at most power plants.

Providing relief from Etzinger’s persistent unfounded optimism, Eskom sustainability manager Steve Lennon confessed in August, “We would have to rely on our own black-start plant to start the system from scratch. We are not ready for that at all.”

There is a terrifying fictional precedent in which an entire advanced economy and society is hit by an indefinite ‘lights off!’ The US television series ‘Revolution’ is based on the premise that nanotechnology nerds can be influenced by asinine politicians. In the series plot, nanobots are let loose on the world, sucking up electricity sufficient to cause a 15-year blackout and social mayhem.

If a full grid collapse occurs, mutual aid systems that have existed in so many South African migrant-labour export sites – such as ‘stokvel’ collective savings – will be vital. More likely in less civilised places (such as Johanesburg’s wealthy suburbs), there will be a rush for household petrol generators and a new wave of wall-building around those elite establishments which can muster off-grid power, as the rest of society’s food runs out and municipal water pumps are turned off.

A miracle scenario?

If that is too horrible to contemplate, then we must hope that the ‘miracle’ scenario overcomes elites’ paralysis with grassroots consumer and community movements, a revitalised commitment by organised labour to broader public interests, and society’s renewed respect for environmentalists.

For instance, community activists conduct ‘service delivery protests’ – thousands last year, of which nearly 2000 became ‘violent’ according to police definitions – and on a day-to-day basis, reconnect power illegally.

For instance, the founder of the Soweto Electricity Crisis Committee (SECC), Trevor Ngwane, was fired by the ANC as a Johannesburg city councilor and as the party’s Soweto leader in 1999 and within six months the SECC had emerged as an inspiration for similar power struggles across the world.

Another miracle solution – the ‘Just Transition’ away from carbon-addicted economics – is provided by Alternative Information and Development Centre which sponsors the Million Climate Jobs campaign.

That campaign is illustrative of the light at the end of the tunnel, for it poses creative options that would allow metalworkers to turn their welding skills to making turbines for wind and tidal energy, auto-makers to produce new forms of public transport, and hole-digging mineworkers to return home to townships with the skills required to create underground biogas digesters for sanitation that also supply cooking methane.

A miracle scenario is actually one that Numsa itself occasionally dreams. Its renewable energy team has made inspiring statements over the past five years, led by the union’s education officer, Dinga Sikwebu, who is now a strong advocate for a broad United Front.

Illustrating some early connections in a precursor to the Front, Numsa took the lead in building a momentarily successful anti-Eskom alliance once before: over prices. Numsa had demanded that the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) lower Eskom’s tariff hike that year from the firm’s proposed 16%. Although Nersa angrily blamed Numsa for a January 2013 labour-community protest that disrupted its first hearing, in Port Elizabeth, eventually the regulator agreed that Eskom should only get an 8% increase.

The problem, though, was that Nersa – a ‘captive regulator’ whose first leader, Xolani Mkhwanazi went on to become BHP Billiton’s local boss, and who now defends the R11.5 billion Eskom subsidy he had repeatedly approved during the 1990s – did not delve into the rest of the energy crisis. So as Nersa napped, Eskom continued to mostly ignore renewable energy, and Transnet doubled the size of its Durban-Johannesburg oil pipeline without critical scrutiny.

Menu for a miracle

As Nersa regulation continues to fail society, ironically, the miracle option begins to look more plausible – even if highly unlikely – once one considers underlying political trends.

One factor is the extent of durable anger against the state over electricity, specifically what is sometimes described as ‘poor and expensive electricity supplies’, signifying problems with both access and costs.

The community protests are ubiquitous, sometimes victorious, but also full of dangers, including a localistic perspective without ideology. That problem dates back more than 15 years, to when waves of post-apartheid unrest swept urban and even small-town South Africa, even when Nelson Mandela ruled.

Over just the past six months, South Africa’s national media covered intense electricity protests in the core site of struggle, Soweto (against pre-payment meters) and in the townships of Thembelihle near Lenasia and Lawley near Ennerdale in southern Johannesburg, Kwanonqaba near Mossel Bay, Grabouw in the Western Cape, Mhlotsheni and Qhanqo villages in the Eastern Cape, Mankweng and Thoka near Pholokwane, and oThongathi north of Durban.

But a lack of linkages to one another and to similar water, housing, healthcare and education protests reflect how much a common democratic organisational home is desperately needed.

The fiery community protests have had their dark side: scores of electrocutions when activists reconnect wires without caution, kids not being able to attend school during demonstrations, and periodic outbursts of xenophobia.

Numsa’s deputy general secretary Carl Kloete offered one of the most optimistic scenarios of how, in the wake of Eskom’s repeated failures, a different electricity institution might emerge from the mess: “When we talk about social ownership of energy systems we are referring to the fact that ownership of energy resources must be taken out of private hands and be put in the hands of the public… When we talk about social ownership of energy systems we are referring to energy systems that respect our environmental rights, our rights for survival and those of future generations.”

Late last year, Numsa helped coalesce the United Front of community, social movement and environmental leaders. Last week, the Front’s interim National Working Committee made encouraging statements along these lines, too.

These values should be the basis for a coalition bringing together affordable energy activists in communities (as well as feminists possessing class consciousness), providing that such a transition would allow more Free Basic Electricity than at present, cross-subsidised by charging more to wealthier over-consumers. Earthlife Africa advocates a raise to 200 kWh/household/month is reasonable.

We all want miracles to happen. One example is the defeat of apartheid in spite of its decades-long attractiveness to multinational corporations and the West’s ‘democracies’ (recall how Washington officially labeled Nelson Mandela a ‘terrorist’ from 1961-2008!). Another South African miracle is the turnaround in life expectancy from 65 in 1994 to 52 in 2005 to 61 today, mainly as a result of 2.7 million people getting AntiRetroViral drugs from the public sector, which happened purely because of treatment activists. Access to medicines cut AIDS deaths from 364 000 in 2005 to 172 000 last year.

It is here that the United Front might explicitly claim to have within it all the most vital ingredients to provide the political will that generated those other two miracles, namely: the expertise and militancy of Eskom and Billiton workers, the anger of service delivery protesters, the desire of those poor masses lacking affordable electricity, the critical sensibility of environmentalists – all embracing the bravery and vigour of a young new organisation committed to fighting the state and capital from the left.

The sense South Africans have of paralysis above and movement below leaves these sorts of energy scenario planning exercises – ‘muddle through’, ‘meltdown’ and ‘miracle’ – in a rather fluid state.

But at a time the World Economic Forum’s Global Competitiveness Report labels South Africa the world’s most intense class struggle site, the vitality of the coming debate on how Eskom should produce, transmit and distribute its power will surely mean we look hard at the extremes as well as the status quo.

If change entails rejecting the capture of South Africa’s electricity by multinational corporations as well as the scamming behind ANC crony capitalism, it also must entail advocacy of an alternative strategy. And that means, as the electricity is cut erratically each week into the foreseeable future, and as more South Africans become ever more gatvol, we can hope – and work – for a miracle.

Patrick Bond directs the UKZN Centre for Civil Society and authored the book Politics of Climate Justice. He is a Numsa Institute advisory board member.

16 March 2015


This cartoon is by Zapiro, and appeared in the South African newspaper Mail and Guardian on 6 March 2015.

Netanyahu, prime minister of Israel, who runs the United States government, was invited by the republican congress to address the congress.
This was done in such a way as to bypass the president of the United States, Barak Obama.
Some of the Democratic members of Cngress walked out, but the zionist supporters felt they couldn't do it and remained behind to hear the ongoing zionist propaganda about why Israel should be allowed to nuke Iran before Iran has nukes and is able to nuke Israel.
Of course, nobody knows that Israel is a nuclear power!!!

13 March 2015


Young Muslim Australians are being monitored and stopped from leaving Australia to fight with Muslim states in the Middle East.

Young Jewish Australians are not even mentioned as they take off from Australia to go and fight for apartheid Israel in Palestine.

Spot the difference?

One good apartheid state deserves another.

Anyway ultimately, by supporting the zionists in Australia and helping Jews to go to Israel and out of Australia means the christian zionists hope to eventually empty Australia of Jews altogether. No doubt apartheid Australia ultimately hopes to incarcerate all Muslims who arrive here in Australia's concentration camps house in Papua New Guinea and Nauru.

And a good time was had by all...................!!!!


When I left South Africa in 1978 to escape from the apartheid regime and police state in which we were living at the time, I knew that there were many problems in Australia, knew that the Aborigines had been treated like 3rd class citizens since invasion day on 26 January 1788, knew that there were all sorts of problems making Australian society far from ideal.

What I didn't know was that in 2015 Australia would have turned the indigenous communities into non-people and the prime minister of the day would say that "these people live where they are because it is their life choice!".

Australia is a racist society which almost leaves apartheid South Africa in the shade. Even apartheid Israel is doing well on the racist stakes and is leaving other countries for dead - mainly the Palestinians - who hopefully will be able to fight back better than Australia's indigenous population because there are so many more Palestinians than there are Aboriginal Australians.

After Ferguson and New York and much else going on in the USA, and after all sorts of savage events around the world in every continent, one despairs of human beings every learning to live together in harmony. Greed, the need for power, to dominate others, to bully, treat with contempt, all sorts of other considerations relating to the human condition - bode ill for the future.

I will be long gone by then!

04 March 2015


The whole free trade agreement between 12 countries has been carried out with the utmost secrecy from the outset. There are many reasons why the USA does not want people to see what these trade agreements are like and they don't want people to be able to comment on them and mount opposition.

People have already obtained information because Wikileaks managed to get hold of some of the secret reports and has released them for all to see.

What has scared so many people and countries is the fact that the North American Free Trade Agreement or NAFTA between Mexico, the United States and Canada has been seen as a disaster with jobs lost, factories closed and disaster economically hitting thousands and thousands of people.

We have tried to cover as much as possible on our web pages and we urge people to learn what they can and protest to their governments now in order to stop this disastrous project before it can go through and ruin us all.

The entry web page is:

Free Trade and Trans Pacific Partnership

Trans Pacific Partnership will push medicine prices up, review finds

March 3, 2015 - 1:53PM WA Today

Peter Martin

Economics Editor, The Age

Trans Pacific Partnership poses grim risks

Greens spokesperson for Trade, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, expresses his concerns over the Trans Pacific Partnership.




The proposed Trans Pacific Partnership is likely to push up the price of medicines, stop some Australians from taking their medicines and make it harder to restrict the sale of tobacco and alcohol, a comprehensive review of the deal between Australia and 11 other nations including the US and Japan has found.

The so-called health impact statement, compiled by the Centre for Health Equity Training Research and Evaluation at the University of NSW relies on leaked texts of draft chapters of the agreement Australia is preparing to seal within weeks.

Although its stated aim is to bring down trade barriers and allow mutual recognition of standards, many of its provisions deal with medicines and make it difficult for member countries to move against foreign-owned corporations.

Trade minister Andrew Robb addresses House on Monday. Photo: Andrew Meares
The health impact statement follows Commonwealth guidelines for such statements in place for more than a decade. Although such statements are not required for new projects in the same way as are environmental impact statements, they are an accepted procedure for establishing the impact of new proposals on health.

Prepared by five health specialists from the universities of Sydney, NSW and La Trobe the assessment took 15 months, beginning in late 2013 after some draft texts were published by Wikileaks.

The report says the US is seeking to prevent signatories from refusing to grant patents for minor variations to existing drugs even when there is no evidence of additional benefit. It says the provision would encourage "evergreening" where manufacturers gain extra patents to extend their monopolies in order to ward off competition from generics.

The US is also seeking to lengthen the period during which generic manufacturers cannot use clinical trial data produced by a manufacturer to obtain marketing approval. Under the Australia-US Free Trade Agreement, Australia already provides at least five years of protection. The US is seeking at least three extra years of protection for new uses of existing drugs and 12 years for so-called biologic drugs and vaccines.

The provisions in the draft healthcare transparency annex of the agreement would outlaw therapeutic reference pricing, a mechanism for ensuring that the prices paid for medicines reflects their clinical benefit and require more consultation with drug manufacturers about listing and pricing decisions.
"In the past, the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme has increased patient co-payments in order to accommodate rising costs," the report says.

"A systematic review of evidence from 1990 to 2011 found that co-payments decrease prescription use, can impact patient medicine use compliance, and can adversely impact disadvantaged populations."

The report finds that proposed investor-state dispute settlement procedures would make it difficult for governments to legislate in ways that harmed tobacco, alcohol or food manufacturers.

Trade minister Andrew Robb told Fairfax Media last month that many of the critics had only seen proposals, not what would be in the final agreement.

"I am not going to do something that I think is not in the public interest," he said.

More than 20 chapters long, the text won't be made public until after the trade ministers shake hands at a meeting in Hawaii set down for next month.

The Trans Pacific Partnership encompasses almost 40 per cent of the world's economy: the industrialised nations of Australia, Canada, Singapore, Brunei, New Zealand, Chile, Mexico, the US and Japan alongside the less developed nations of Malaysia, Peru, and Vietnam.

Trans Pacific Partnership poses grim risks

01 March 2015


The following article from CounterPunch is by John Pilger and is subtitled:


Weekend Edition 27 February-1 March 2015

Why the Rise of Fascism is Again the Issue

The recent 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz was a reminder of the great crime of fascism, whose Nazi iconography is embedded in our consciousness. Fascism is preserved as history, as flickering footage of goose-stepping blackshirts, their criminality terrible and clear. Yet in the same liberal societies, whose war-making elites urge us never to forget, the accelerating danger of a modern kind of fascism is suppressed; for it is their fascism.

“To initiate a war of aggression…,” said the Nuremberg Tribunal judges in 1946, “is not only an international crime, it is the supreme international crime, differing only from other war crimes in that it contains within itself the accumulated evil of the whole.”

Had the Nazis not invaded Europe, Auschwitz and the Holocaust would not have happened.  Had the United States and its satellites not initiated their war of aggression in Iraq in 2003, almost a million people would be alive today; and Islamic State, or ISIS, would not have us in thrall to its savagery.  They are the progeny of modern fascism, weaned by the bombs, bloodbaths and lies that are the surreal theatre known as news.

Like the fascism of the 1930s and 1940s, big lies are delivered with the precision of a metronome: thanks to an omnipresent, repetitive media and its virulent censorship by omission. Take the catastrophe in Libya.

In 2011, Nato launched 9,700 “strike sorties” against Libya, of which more than a third were aimed at civilian targets. Uranium warheads were used; the cities of Misurata and Sirte were carpet-bombed. The Red Cross identified mass graves, and Unicef reported that “most [of the children killed] were under the age of ten”.

The public sodomising of the Libyan president Muammar Gaddafi with a “rebel” bayonet was greeted by the then US Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, with the words: “We came, we saw, he died.”  His murder, like the destruction of his country, was justified with a familiar big lie; he was planning “genocide” against his own people. “We knew … that if we waited one more day,” said President Obama, “Benghazi, a city the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

This was the fabrication of Islamist militias facing defeat by Libyan government forces. They told Reuters there would be “a real bloodbath, a massacre like we saw in Rwanda”. Reported on March 14, 2011, the lie provided the first spark for Nato’s inferno, described by David Cameron as a “humanitarian intervention”.

Secretly supplied and trained by Britain’s SAS, many of the “rebels” would become ISIS, whose latest video offering shows the beheading of 21 Coptic Christian workers seized in Sirte, the city destroyed on their behalf by Nato bombers.

For Obama, Cameron and Hollande, Gaddafi’s true crime was Libya’s economic independence and his declared intention to stop selling Africa’s greatest oil reserves in US dollars. The petrodollar is a pillar of American imperial power. Gaddafi audaciously planned to underwrite a common African currency backed by gold, establish an all-Africa bank and promote economic union among poor countries with prized resources. Whether or not this would happen, the very notion was intolerable to the US as it prepared to “enter” Africa and bribe African governments with military “partnerships”.

Following Nato’s attack under cover of a Security Council resolution, Obama, wrote Garikai Chengu, “confiscated $30 billion from Libya’s Central Bank, which Gaddafi had earmarked for the establishment of an African Central Bank and the African gold backed dinar currency”.

The “humanitarian war” against Libya drew on a model close to western liberal hearts, especially in the media. In 1999, Bill Clinton and Tony Blair sent Nato to bomb Serbia, because, they lied, the Serbs were committing “genocide” against ethnic Albanians in the secessionist province of Kosovo. David Scheffer, US ambassador-at-large for war crimes [sic], claimed that as many as “225,000 ethnic Albanian men aged between 14 and 59″ might have been murdered. Both Clinton and Blair evoked the Holocaust and “the spirit of the Second World War”. The West’s heroic allies were the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA), whose criminal record was set aside. The British Foreign Secretary, Robin Cook, told them to call him any time on his mobile phone.

With the Nato bombing over, and much of Serbia’s infrastructure in ruins, along with schools, hospitals, monasteries and the national TV station, international forensic teams descended upon Kosovo to exhume evidence of the “holocaust”. The FBI failed to find a single mass grave and went home. The Spanish forensic team did the same, its leader angrily denouncing “a semantic pirouette by the war propaganda machines”. A year later, a United Nations tribunal on Yugoslavia announced the final count of the dead in Kosovo: 2,788. This included combatants on both sides and Serbs and Roma murdered by the KLA. There was no genocide. The “holocaust” was a lie. The Nato attack had been fraudulent.

Behind the lie, there was serious purpose. Yugoslavia was a uniquely independent, multi-ethnic federation that had stood as a political and economic bridge in the Cold War. Most of its utilities and major manufacturing was publicly owned. This was not acceptable to the expanding European Community, especially newly united Germany, which had begun a drive east to capture its “natural market” in the Yugoslav provinces of Croatia and Slovenia. By the time the Europeans met at Maastricht in 1991 to lay their plans for the disastrous eurozone, a secret deal had been struck; Germany would recognise Croatia. Yugoslavia was doomed.

In Washington, the US saw that the struggling Yugoslav economy was denied World Bank loans.  Nato, then an almost defunct Cold War relic, was reinvented as imperial enforcer. At a 1999 Kosovo “peace” conference in Rambouillet, in France, the Serbs were subjected to the enforcer’s duplicitous tactics. The Rambouillet accord included a secret Annex B, which the US delegation inserted on the last day. This demanded the military occupation of the whole of Yugoslavia — a country with bitter memories of the Nazi occupation — and the implementation of a “free-market economy” and the privatisation of all government assets. No sovereign state could sign this. Punishment followed swiftly; Nato bombs fell on a defenceless country. It was the precursor to the catastrophes in Afghanistan and Iraq, Syria and Libya, and Ukraine.
Since 1945, more than a third of the membership of the United Nations – 69 countries – have suffered some or all of the following at the hands of America’s modern fascism. They have been invaded, their governments overthrown, their popular movements suppressed, their elections subverted, their people bombed and their economies stripped of all protection, their societies subjected to a crippling siege known as “sanctions”. The British historian Mark Curtis estimates the death toll in the millions. In every case, a big lie was deployed.

“Tonight, for the first time since 9/11, our combat mission in Afghanistan is over.” These were opening words of Obama’s 2015 State of the Union address. In fact, some 10,000 troops and 20,000 military contractors (mercenaries) remain in Afghanistan on indefinite assignment.  “The longest war in American history is coming to a responsible conclusion,” said Obama. In fact, more civilians were killed in Afghanistan in 2014 than in any year since the UN took records.  The majority have been killed — civilians and soldiers — during Obama’s time as president.

The tragedy of Afghanistan rivals the epic crime in Indochina.  In his lauded and much quoted book, The Grand Chessboard: American Primacy and Its Geostrategic Imperatives, Zbigniew Brzezinski, the godfather of US policies from Afghanistan to the present day, writes that if America is to control Eurasia and dominate the world, it cannot sustain a popular democracy, because “the pursuit of power is not a goal that commands popular passion . . . Democracy is inimical to imperial mobilisation.”  He is right. As WikiLeaks and Edward Snowden have revealed, a surveillance and police state is usurping democracy. In 1976, Brzezinski, then President Carter’s National Security Advisor, demonstrated his point by dealing a death blow to Afghanistan’s first and only democracy. Who knows this vital history?

In the 1960s, a popular revolution swept Afghanistan, the poorest country on earth, eventually overthrowing the vestiges of the aristocratic regime in 1978. The People’s Democratic Party of Afghanistan (PDPA) formed a government and declared a reform programme that included the abolition of feudalism, freedom for all religions, equal rights for women and social justice for the ethnic minorities. More than 13,000 political prisoners were freed and police files publicly burned.

The new government introduced free medical care for the poorest; peonage was abolished, a mass literacy programme was launched. For women, the gains were unheard of. By the late 1980s, half the university students were women, and women made up almost half of Afghanistan’s doctors, a third of civil servants and the majority of teachers. “Every girl,” recalled Saira Noorani, a female surgeon, “could go to high school and university. We could go where we wanted and wear what we liked. We used to go to cafes and the cinema to see the latest Indian film on a Friday and listen to the latest music. It all started to go wrong when the mujaheddin started winning. They used to kill teachers and burn schools. We were terrified. It was funny and sad to think these were the people the West supported.”

The PDPA government was backed by the Soviet Union, even though, as former Secretary of State Cyrus Vance later admitted, “there was no evidence of any Soviet complicity [in the revolution]“. Alarmed by the growing confidence of liberation movements throughout the world, Brzezinski decided that if Afghanistan was to succeed under the PDPA, its independence and progress would offer the “threat of a promising example”.

On July 3, 1979, the White House secretly authorized support for tribal “fundamentalist” groups known as the mujaheddin, a program that grew to over $500 million a year in U.S. arms and other assistance. The aim was the overthrow of Afghanistan’s first secular, reformist government. In August 1979, the US embassy in Kabul reported that “the United States’ larger interests … would be served by the demise of [the PDPA government], despite whatever setbacks this might mean for future social and economic reforms in Afghanistan.” The italics are mine.

The mujaheddin were the forebears of al-Qaeda and Islamic State. They included Gulbuddin Hekmatyar, who received tens of millions of dollars in cash from the CIA. Hekmatyar’s specialty was trafficking in opium and throwing acid in the faces of women who refused to wear the veil. Invited to London, he was lauded by Prime Minister Thatcher as a “freedom fighter”.

Such fanatics might have remained in their tribal world had Brzezinski not launched an international movement to promote Islamic fundamentalism in Central Asia and so undermine secular political liberation and “destabilise” the Soviet Union, creating, as he wrote in his autobiography, “a few stirred up Muslims”.  His grand plan coincided with the ambitions of  the Pakistani dictator, General Zia ul-Haq, to dominate the region. In 1986, the CIA and Pakistan’s intelligence agency, the ISI, began to recruit people from around the world to join the Afghan jihad. The Saudi multi-millionaire Osama bin Laden was one of them. Operatives who would eventually join the Taliban and al-Qaeda, were recruited at an Islamic college in Brooklyn, New York, and given paramilitary training at a CIA camp in Virginia. This was called “Operation Cyclone”. Its success was celebrated in 1996 when the last PDPA president of Afghanistan, Mohammed Najibullah — who had gone before the UN General Assembly to plead for help — was hanged from a streetlight by the Taliban.

The “blowback” of Operation Cyclone and its “few stirred up Muslims” was September 11, 2001. Operation Cyclone became the “war on terror”, in which countless men, women and children would lose their lives across the Muslim world, from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Syria. The enforcer’s message was and remains: “You are with us or against us.”

The common thread in fascism, past and present, is mass murder. The American invasion of Vietnam had its “free fire zones”, “body counts” and “collatoral damage”. In the province of Quang Ngai, where I reported from, many thousands of civilians (“gooks”) were murdered by the US; yet only one massacre, at My Lai, is remembered. In Laos and Cambodia, the greatest aerial bombardment in history produced an epoch of terror marked today by the spectacle of joined-up bomb craters which, from the air, resemble monstrous necklaces. The bombing gave Cambodia its own ISIS, led by Pol Pot.

Today, the world’s greatest single campaign of terror entails the execution of entire families, guests at weddings, mourners at funerals. These are Obama’s victims. According to the New York Times, Obama makes his selection from a CIA “kill list” presented to him every Tuesday in the White House Situation Room. He then decides, without a shred of legal justification, who will live and who will die. His execution weapon is the Hellfire missile carried by a pilotless aircraft known as a drone; these roast their victims and festoon the area with their remains.  Each “hit” is registered on a faraway console screen as a “bugsplat”.

“For goose-steppers,” wrote the historian Norman Pollock, “substitute the seemingly more innocuous militarisation of the total culture. And for the bombastic leader, we have the reformer manque, blithely at work, planning and executing assassination, smiling all the while.”

Uniting fascism old and new is the cult of superiority. “I believe in American exceptionalism with every fibre of my being,” said Obama, evoking declarations of national fetishism from the 1930s. As the historian Alfred W. McCoy has pointed out, it was the Hitler devotee, Carl Schmitt, who said, “The sovereign is he who decides the exception.” This sums up Americanism, the world’s dominant ideology. That it remains unrecognised as a predatory ideology is the achievement of an equally unrecognised brainwashing.  Insidious, undeclared, presented wittily as enlightenment on the march, its conceit insinuates western culture. I grew up on a cinematic diet of American glory, almost all of it a distortion. I had no idea that it was the Red Army that had destroyed most of the Nazi war machine, at a cost of as many as 13 million soldiers. By contrast, US losses, including in the Pacific, were 400,000. Hollywood reversed this.

The difference now is that cinema audiences are invited to wring their hands at the “tragedy” of American psychopaths having to kill people in distant places — just as the President himself kills them. The embodiment of Hollywood’s violence, the actor and director Clint Eastwood, was nominated for an Oscar this year for his movie, American Sniper, which is about a licensed murderer and nutcase. The New York Times described it as a “patriotic, pro-family picture which broke all attendance records in its opening days”.

There are no heroic movies about America’s embrace of fascism. During the Second World War, America (and Britain) went to war against Greeks who had fought heroically against Nazism and were resisting the rise of Greek fascism. In 1967, the CIA helped bring to power a fascist military junta in Athens — as it did in Brazil and most of Latin America. Germans and east Europeans who had colluded with Nazi aggression and crimes against humanity were given safe haven in the US; many were pampered and their talents rewarded. Wernher von Braun was the “father” of both the Nazi V-2 terror bomb and the US space programme.

In the 1990s, as former Soviet republics, eastern Europe and the Balkans became military outposts of Nato, the heirs to a Nazi movement in Ukraine were given their opportunity. Responsible for the deaths of thousands of Jews, Poles and Russians during the Nazi invasion of the Soviet Union, Ukrainian fascism was rehabilitated and its “new wave” hailed by the enforcer as “nationalists”.

This reached its apogee in 2014 when the Obama administration splashed out $5 billion on a coup against the elected government.  The shock troops were neo-Nazis known as the Right Sector and Svoboda. Their leaders include  Oleh Tyahnybok, who has called for a purge of the “Moscow-Jewish mafia” and “other scum”, including gays, feminists and those on the political left.

These fascists are now integrated into the Kiev coup government. The first deputy speaker of the Ukrainian parliament, Andriy Parubiy, a leader of the governing party, is co-founder of Svoboda. On February 14, Parubiy announced he was flying to Washington get “the USA to give us highly precise modern weaponry”. If he succeeds, it will be seen as an act of war by Russia.

No western leader has spoken up about the revival of fascism in the heart of Europe — with the exception of Vladimir Putin, whose people lost 22 million to a Nazi invasion that came through the borderland of Ukraine. At the recent Munich Security Conference, Obama’s Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Victoria Nuland, ranted abuse about European leaders for opposing the US arming of the Kiev regime. She referred to the German Defence Minister as “the minister for defeatism”. It was Nuland who masterminded the coup in Kiev. The wife of Robert D. Kagan, a leading “neo-con” luminary and co-founder of the extreme right wing Project for a New American Century, she was foreign policy advisor to Dick Cheney.

Nuland’s coup did not go to plan. Nato was prevented from seizing Russia’s historic, legitimate, warm-water naval base in Crimea. The mostly Russian population of Crimea — illegally annexed to Ukraine by Nikita Krushchev in 1954 — voted overwhelmingly to return to Russia, as they had done in the 1990s.  The referendum was voluntary, popular and internationally observed. There was no invasion.

At the same time, the Kiev regime turned on the ethnic Russian population in the east with the ferocity of ethnic cleaning. Deploying neo-Nazi militias in the manner of the Waffen-SS, they bombed and laid to siege cities and towns. They used mass starvation as a weapon, cutting off electricity, freezing bank accounts, stopping social security and pensions. More than a million refugees fled across the border into Russia. In the western media, they became unpeople escaping “the violence” caused by the “Russian invasion”. The Nato commander, General Breedlove — whose name and actions might have been inspired by Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove — announced that 40,000 Russian troops were “massing”. In the age of forensic satellite evidence, he offered none.

These Russian-speaking and bilingual people of Ukraine – a third of the population – have long sought a federation that reflects the country’s ethnic diversity and is both autonomous and independent of Moscow. Most are not “separatists” but citizens who want to live securely in their homeland and oppose the power grab in Kiev. Their revolt and establishment of autonomous “states” are a reaction to Kiev’s attacks on them. Little of this has been explained to western audiences.
On May 2, 2014, in Odessa, 41 ethnic Russians were burned alive in the trade union headquarters with police standing by.  The Right Sector leader Dmytro Yarosh hailed the massacre as “another bright day in our national history”. In the American and British media, this was reported as a “murky tragedy” resulting from “clashes” between “nationalists” (neo-Nazis) and “separatists” (people collecting signatures for a referendum on a federal Ukraine).

The New York Times buried the story, having dismissed as Russian propaganda warnings about the fascist and anti-Semitic policies of Washington’s new clients. The Wall Street Journal damned the victims – “Deadly Ukraine Fire Likely Sparked by Rebels, Government Says”. Obama congratulated the junta for its “restraint”.

If Putin can be provoked into coming to their aid, his pre-ordained “pariah” role in the West will justify the lie that Russia is invading Ukraine. On January 29, Ukraine’s top military commander, General Viktor Muzhemko, almost inadvertently dismissed the very basis for US and EU sanctions on Russia when he told a news conference emphatically: “The Ukrainian army is not fighting with the regular units of the Russian Army”.  There were “individual citizens” who were members of “illegal armed groups”, but there was no Russian invasion.  This was not news. Vadym Prystaiko, Kiev’s Deputy Foreign Minister, has called for “full scale war” with nuclear-armed Russia.

On February 21, US Senator James Inhofe, a Republican from Oklahoma, introduced a bill that would authorise American arms for the Kiev regime.  In his Senate presentation, Inhofe used photographs he claimed were of Russian troops crossing into Ukraine, which have long been exposed as fakes. It was reminiscent of Ronald Reagan’s fake pictures of a Soviet installation in Nicaragua, and Colin Powell’s fake evidence to the UN of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.

The intensity of the smear campaign against Russia and the portrayal of its president as a pantomime villain is unlike anything I have known as a reporter. Robert Parry, one of America’s most distinguished investigative journalists, who revealed the Iran-Contra scandal, wrote recently, “No European government, since Adolf Hitler’s Germany, has seen fit to dispatch Nazi storm troopers to wage war on a domestic population, but the Kiev regime has and has done so knowingly. Yet across the West’s media/political spectrum, there has been a studious effort to cover up this reality even to the point of ignoring facts that have been well established ….If you wonder how the world could stumble into world war three – much as it did into world war one a century ago – all you need to do is look at the madness over Ukraine that has proved impervious to facts or reason.”

In 1946, the Nuremberg Tribunal prosecutor said of the German media: “The use made by Nazi conspirators of psychological warfare is well known. Before each major aggression, with some few exceptions based on expediency, they initiated a press campaign calculated to weaken their victims and to prepare the German people psychologically for the attack …. In the propaganda system of the Hitler State it was the daily press and the radio that were the most important weapons.”

In the Guardian on February 2, Timothy Garton-Ash called, in effect, for a world war. “Putin must be stopped,” said the headline. “And sometimes only guns can stop guns.” He conceded that the threat of war might “nourish a Russian paranoia of encirclement”; but that was fine. He name-checked the military equipment needed for the job and advised his readers that “America has the best kit”.

In 2003, Garton-Ash, an Oxford professor, repeated the propaganda that led to the slaughter in Iraq. Saddam Hussein, he wrote, “has, as [Colin] Powell documented, stockpiled large quantities of horrifying chemical and biological weapons, and is hiding what remains of them. He is still trying to get nuclear ones.” He lauded Blair as a “Gladstonian, Christian liberal interventionist”.  In 2006, he wrote, “Now we face the next big test of the West after Iraq: Iran.”

The outbursts — or as Garton-Ash prefers, his “tortured liberal ambivalence” — are not untypical of those in the transatlantic liberal elite who have struck a Faustian deal. The war criminal Blair is their lost leader. The Guardian, in which Garton-Ash’s piece appeared, published a full-page advertisement for an American Stealth bomber. On a menacing image of the Lockheed Martin monster were the words: “The F-35. GREAT For Britain”. This American “kit” will cost British taxpayers £1.3 billion, its F-model predecessors having slaughtered across the world.  In tune with its advertiser, a Guardian editorial has demanded an increase in military spending.

Once again, there is serious purpose. The rulers of the world want Ukraine not only as a missile base; they want its economy. Kiev’s new Finance Minister, Nataliwe Jaresko, is a former senior US State Department official in charge of US overseas “investment”. She was hurriedly given Ukrainian citizenship.

They want Ukraine for its abundant gas; Vice President Joe Biden’s son is on the board of Ukraine’s biggest oil, gas and fracking company. The manufacturers of GM seeds, companies such as the infamous Monsanto, want Ukraine’s rich farming soil.

Above all, they want Ukraine’s mighty neighbour, Russia. They want to Balkanise or dismember Russia and exploit the greatest source of natural gas on earth. As the Arctic ice melts, they want control of the Arctic Ocean and its energy riches, and Russia’s long Arctic land border. Their man in Moscow used to be Boris Yeltsin, a drunk, who handed his country’s economy to the West. His successor, Putin, has re-established Russia as a sovereign nation; that is his crime.
The responsibility of the rest of us is clear. It is to identify and expose the reckless lies of warmongers and never to collude with them. It is to re-awaken the great popular movements that brought a fragile civilisation to modern imperial states. Most important, it is to prevent the conquest of ourselves: our minds, our humanity, our self respect. If we remain silent, victory over us is assured, and a holocaust beckons.

John Pilger can be reached through his website:



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90 years old, political gay activist, hosting two web sites, one personal: http://www.red-jos.net one shared with my partner, 94-year-old Ken Lovett: http://www.josken.net and also this blog. The blog now has an alphabetical index: http://www.red-jos.net/alpha3.htm