The US-NATO Race for Syria’s Black Gold. By Manlio Dinucci

Art by Naji al-Ali

Via: Global Research.

Syria’s proven oil reserves, amounting to 2.5 billion barrels

Syria’s proven oil reserves, amounting to 2.5 billion barrels, are greater than those of all neighboring countries except Iraq: according to the U.S. Energy Information Administration’s estimation of its oil reserves. This makes Syria one of the largest producers and exporters of crude oil in the Middle East.

The country also has large reserves of natural gas, hitherto used for domestic consumption, especially for conversion to gas-fired power plants. But there is a problem, the U.S agency reported that since 1964 the license for the exploration and exploitation of mineral deposits has been reserved for Syrian government agencies. Until 201O an annual income of more than $ 4 billion was procured from the export of oil, particularly to Europe. But things are changing with the war. Continue reading


Volvo equipment enabling torture, facilitating occupation. By David Cronin

Via: The Electronic Intifada.

Volvo prides itself on being a byword for sturdiness, safety and reliability. After a careful examination of the vehicle-maker’s investment in Israel, perhaps it should also become synonymous with enabling torture.

The Swedish company has a direct shareholding of 26.5 percent in the Israeli company Merkavim, manufacturer of the Mars Prisoner Bus. This bus has been specifically designed for use by the Israeli Prison Authority to transport Palestinians apprehended in the occupied West Bank and Gaza Strip to facilities within Israel’s internationally-recognized borders. The remainder of Merkavim is owned by Mayer’s Cars and Trucks, which doubles up as the exclusive representative of Volvo in Israel.

Evidence amassed by human rights monitors indicates that torture is widespread within Israeli detention centers. Although the country’s high court ruled in 1999 that some interrogation methods should be outlawed, Israel continues to approve torture in cases where it is deemed “necessary,” Amnesty International has found. An important loophole in the court’s ruling indicated that torture is permissible in cases where Israeli security forces face an imminent threat. Israel’s attorney general has been all-too-willing to invoke that loophole in order to approve the use of torture, despite how Israel has ratified the United Nations Convention Against Torture.

Each year Israel locks up an average of 700 Palestinian children, often for offenses no more serious than throwing stones. The organization Defence for Children International-Palestine Section (DCI-PS) says that ill-treatment is common while detainees are being transported to prison. “All are subjected to verbal threats and insults,” Rifat Kassis, director of DCI-PS’s office in the West Bank city of Ramallah, said. “Some are beaten up, kicked, made to sit in an uncomfortable way. We have children who are handcuffed and blindfolded as well. All of these are methods of restraining children in a painful way.”

During September, three children were reportedly given electric shocks by Israeli interrogators in the Jewish-only settlement of Ariel in the West Bank. One of the children was only 14 years of age. A recent investigation by DCI-PS and other anti-torture groups found that out of a sample of 100 children arrested by Israeli forces last year, 69 percent were beaten and kicked and 12 percent threatened with rape or another form of sexual assault. Continue reading

Beyond Hiroshima – The Non-Reporting Of Fallujah’s Cancer Catastrophe

Via: Media Lens.

Compassion is sometimes a central theme of media reporting. On August 25, journalists across the UK described how a British woman, Mary Bale, had been filmed dropping a cat into a wheelie bin. The cat was later released unharmed. The Guardian reported and commented on the story on August 24 and 25. Matt Seaton wrote:

“OK, there are lots of acts of random cruelty involving humans on humans every day, but this was somebody’s pet, for Pete’s sake. Who would do such a thing?” (

On August 26, the Guardian followed up with a report describing how animal protection charities were considering whether to prosecute Bale. (

On August 27, Alexander Chancellor devoted a section of his Guardian column to the story. On August 28, Michele Hansen also wrote an article focusing on the cat and on cruelty to animals more generally. (

On August 29, almost a week after the Guardian had first reported the incident, Euan Ferguson commented:

“The same Facebook, the same Britain, that ‘named and shamed’ Mary Bale is the one that had over 30,000 followers for Raoul Moat RIP, who was a killer. Do we love animals more than people?” (

Good question. According to our LexisNexis search (September 7), two articles appeared on the cat story in the Independent and two in the Independent on Sunday. The Daily Telegraph mentioned it in three articles; the Times in seven. The Observer had one article, the Mirror and Sunday Mirror had a total of ten articles. More than 170 articles have so far mentioned Mary Bale in the UK press.

Fallujah – Genetic Stress Beginning 2004

One month earlier, the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, a leading medical journal, published a study, ‘Cancer, Infant Mortality and Birth Sex-Ratio in Fallujah, Iraq 2005–2009,’ by Chris Busby, Malak Hamdan and Entesar Ariabi. As Noam Chomsky has commented, the study’s findings are “vastly more significant” than the Wikileaks Afghan ‘War Diary’ leaks ( After all, the cancer crisis reported in the study is impacting thousands of people in one of Iraq’s largest cities and is so severe that local doctors are advising women not to have children. Continue reading

BDS – Israeli Ships not Welcome in Vancouver

Via: VMC.

Dozens of activists set up an information picket at Deltaport this morning, designed to slow the transport of containers belonging to the Israeli shipping company Zim. Demonstrators gave truckers and passers-by information about the growing refusal by workers to unload and transport cargo from Israel or shipped by Israeli companies. Vancouver Media Co-op correspondents filed this report.


Crisis. What Crisis? Profits Soar! By James Petras

Via: The James Petras Website.

While progressives and leftists write about the “crises of capitalism”, manufacturers, petroleum companies, bankers and most other major corporations on both sides of the Atlantic and Pacific coast are chuckling all the way to the bank.

From the first quarter of this year, corporate profits have shot up between twenty to over a hundred percent, (Financial Times August 10, 2010, p. 7). In fact, corporate profits have risen higher than they were before the onset of the recession in 2008 (Money Morning March 31, 2010). Contrary to progressive bloggers the rates of profits are rising not falling, particularly among the biggest corporations (Consensus Economics, August 12, 2010). The buoyancy of corporate profits is directly a result of the deepening crises of the working class, public and private employees and small and medium size enterprises.

With the onset of the recession, big capital shed millions of jobs (one out of four Americans has been unemployed in 2010), secured give backs from the trade union bosses, received tax exemptions, subsidies and virtually interest free loans from local, state and federal governments.

As the recession temporarily bottomed out, big business doubled up production on the remaining labor force, intensifying exploitation (more output per worker) and lowered costs by passing onto the working class a much larger share of health insurance and pension benefits with the compliance of the millionaire trade union officials. The result is that while revenues declined, profits rose and balance sheets improved (Financial Times August 10, 2010). Paradoxically, the CEO’s used the pretext and rhetoric of “crises” coming from progressive journalists to keep workers from demanding a larger share of the burgeoning profits, aided by the ever growing pool of unemployed and underemployed workers as possible “replacements” (scabs) in the event of industrial action.

The current boom of profits has not benefited all sectors of capitalism: the windfall has accrued overwhelmingly with the biggest corporations. In contrast many middle and small enterprises have suffered high rates of bankruptcy and losses, which has made them cheap and easy prey for buyouts for the ‘big fellows’ (Financial Times August 1, 2010). The crises of middle capital has led to the concentration and centralization of capital and has contributed to the rising rate of profits for the largest corporations. Continue reading

Nigeria and Imperialism: A Race to the Abyss. By Ayo Ademiluyi

Via: Pambazuka News.

Following a century of colonialism, contemporary neoliberal imperialism is the cause of many of the crises ravaging Africa, writes Ayo Ademiluyi, with particularly harsh consequences for Nigeria’s working class. With oil accounting for over 90 per cent of government revenue, local industry has collapsed, leading to widespread unemployment and increasing poverty. As child and maternal mortality rates continue to increase and life expectancy decreases despite the wealth oil exports have brought the government, Ademiluyi calls for the workers’ movement to galvanise itself to transform society.

With over a century-long period of criminal colonialism, present-day vicious neoliberal imperialism is the factor behind the fratricidal crises ravaging Africa, and the vampire drawing blood from the working class in Nigeria in particular. The quest of the imperialist US, working through the local capitalist elite in Nigeria, is to draw barrels of oil in commercial quantity with a total abandonment of critical infrastructure. This is with the terrible consequences on the fate of working masses in a neocolonial backward country like Nigeria.

Currently, Nigeria earns 83 per cent of its foreign earnings from oil exports, of which the imperialist states (US, UK, China etc) are the major beneficiaries. Over 90 per cent of government revenue is from oil. By contrast, manufacturing’s share of export revenues is estimated at 1 per cent. With high oil prices at US$147 per barrel, the Naira could be kept relatively stable and high economic growth could be maintained. Also as a result of this, in 2007 Nigeria posted a US$23 billion trade surplus, importing about US$39 billion of goods and exporting about US$62 billion of goods, thereby saving US$60 billion in external reserves. On this basis, Nigeria settled almost all its external debt of US$37.5 billion to the Bretton-Woods institutions (the IMF and World Bank).

Yet, the widespread majority of the working people continue to suffer as child and maternal mortality increases and life expectancy continues to shrink. UN investigators recently published a document which disclosed that as a result of corruption, over 80 per cent of the oil wealth went into the private purses of less than one per cent of the population. While over 800 industries have collapsed, widespread unemployment, unbearable living conditions, worse levels of education and healthcare continue to spring ethno-religious conflicts across the board. This is with the lack of a broad mass revolutionary alternative that will galvanise the anger of working people and capture power to begin the transformation of society. Continue reading