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Don’t Shoot in Eastern Ukraine!

Written By James Perez on April 19, 2014 | 8:57 pm

Something is happening in eastern Ukraine that western politicians were not prepared for, an event that could enter history.

By Dr. Dieter Duhm

The population rises up against the orders of its government in Kiev. They stop tanks and ask the soldiers that were sent there to lay down their arms. The soldiers hesitate, but then follow the peoples’ orders. They refuse to shoot at their own compatriots. Following this are moving scenes of fraternization in a nation that will not allow itself to be forced into war. The transitional government in Kiev declares the civil rights activists in east Ukraine to be terrorists. They do not see the possibility of exemplary peace that could take place here. Instead they send tanks into the cities in order to secure their power with military force. They cannot think differently. In the beginning, the soldiers obey until they arrive at the area of operations, where they do not meet terrorists, but an entire people that defend themselves against tanks driving through their landscape. They do not want war and they do not see why it should be fought. Yes, why actually? For long they have been lied to and betrayed by Kiev – now they can no longer trust the new government. They do not want to be occupied by Russia either – they want freedom and civil rights, and in fact many of them are closer to Russia than to the West. What does the West actually want? With which right does it claim the east Ukrainian regions? According to the official propaganda from the West, eastern Ukraine is in an explosive state, which could only become controlled by military force. In reality, what is happening there is a basic movement for peace and humaneness – a process that defies all political and military categories. The West is confused and helpless because through this movement, all its political options have been foiled. And behind its options are sturdy economic interests from the weapons industry, which always also need to be considered.

What we are seeing in eastern Ukraine is not only the confrontation between Russia and the West; we are dealing with a fundamental conflict between the interests of politics and those of the people, between the politically represented war society and the civil society represented by the people. It is a victory of civil society if there is no military escalation in eastern Ukraine. It is a victory of the war society if a war begins there. War – this means money for the weapons industry, fortification of the political power blocs, and continuation of the old methods of suppressing civil rights with armed force. In this case, the West and its entire propaganda machine is on the side of the war society, otherwise it would already have supported the referendum on Crimea as it had supported the protestors in Maidan Square. But our official media has already persuaded a wrong image of the political circumstances in the Crimea conflict. It was not the Russians, but the majority of Crimean inhabitants that wished annexation to Russia in the referendum. (The author is aware that Russian agitators were probably involved however).

If protesters in eastern Ukraine defend themselves against the West then they defend their very natural human rights. They are not terrorists, but courageous human beings. They act in the same way that we would also act. Together with them we want to set an example for peace – so that the powers of peace are finally stronger than the economic interests of the lobbyists who want to secure their seats. It has been long enough that they have used the youth as fuel; they have sent them to the slaughter in order to secure their power. It has always been in the interest of the mighty and the rich, for which uncountable soldiers died. May Ukraine make a contribution for ending this insanity.

Maidan and Donetsk – Here and there it is about the same thing: the liberation of the people from political suppression and paternalism. In Maidan Square they defended themselves against the annexation to Russia. In Donetsk they defend themselves against the annexation to the West. In both cases it is a struggle for elementary humans and civil rights. These are the rights of a civil society torn between the frontlines of two military societies. The protestors that occupied Maidan Square in Kiev and the demonstrators that occupied the administrative buildings in Donetsk have the same heart. We extend them our empathy and solidarity. Both groups could help to give birth to a new era if they recognize each other and do not ideologically fight each other. They are lined up with other groups worldwide that have decided to step out of war society as, for example, the peace community San José de Apartadó. May these groups come together and understand each other. May they unify with one another in a new planetary community of peace.

Help the friends in eastern Ukraine now! Help that they will persevere with peaceful power, that they will allow neither the West nor Russia to occupy them. We send them our full solidarity and call out to them: Please persevere, do not allow yourselves to become co-opted – neither by Russia nor by the West. Renounce weapons! The men in the tanks are not enemies, but potential friends. Please do not shoot. Refuse war, any war. “Make love not war.” Enough tears have already been cried. Mothers all around the world have shed enough tears for their sons that have been unnecessarily killed. Give yourself and your (future) children the gift of a happy world!

In the name of peace
In the name of life
In the name of the children all over the world!

Dr. Dieter Duhm - Spokesperson of the Peace Project Tamera in Portugal

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Capitalism Is The Crisis (Full Movie)





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Failed Anti-Russian Propaganda: John Kerry Cites Fake ‘Letter to Jews’

By RT
Global Research, April 19, 2014
RT 18 April 2014

A letter urging the Jews of Donetsk to get registered, which the US Secretary of State cited in Geneva, is a fake says a man whose signature appears on the communication.
Following the four-side meeting on the Ukrainian crisis in Geneva on Wednesday, John Kerry lashed out at a letter that was allegedly sent to Jewish citizens in Ukraine’s eastern town of Donetsk, asking them to register and report all their property, or be stripped of citizenship and face expulsion.
In year 2014, after all of the miles traveled in all the journey of history, this is not just intolerable, it’s grotesque… beyond unacceptable,” he stated.
Images of the letter have been circulating online.

The letter was stamped and signed by Denis Pushilin, who was identified on it as the “People’s Governor.”
However, Pushilin denied he had anything to do with the letter, claiming it was a fake.
There are similar letters not only addressed to Jews, but also to businessmen, foreign students, people of certain other occupations,” he told RT. “This is actually a fake, and not a good one. There’s a sign “People’s Governor”. First of all, no one calls me by that title, no one elected me. Secondly, the stamp is the former mayor’s. Everything’s photoshopped.”
Pushilin added that sensible people can only take what the authors of this “letter” were trying to say with humor. The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic “is multinational,” he said. “We get along perfectly well here with everyone. And there aren’t any conflicts on national grounds, that’s for sure.
Although the letter’s authenticity is questionable, the fact that it was mentioned by a top US official has quickly sent the “Letter to Jews” story viral. It struck a very sensitive chord with audiences worldwide and cast a grave shadow over anti-government protesters in Donetsk.
The “letter” story also went ballistic on Reddit. However, its authenticity was seriously questioned and the social network community concluded the document is “almost certainly fake.”
Meanwhile, a Ukrainian MP who has visited the turbulent region, Boris Kolesnikov of the Party of Regions, has urged that information coming from Ukraine should be double-checked.
He believes that Ukrainian law enforcement agencies aren’t being totally honest when they describe the people participating in the protests and claim there are Russian servicemen among them.
Kolesnikov specifically referred to a video which earlier appeared online. In it a man in a military uniform told police officers, who switched sides in the city of Gorlovka and joined protesters, that he was Russian lieutenant-colonel from Simpheropol, Crimea. The man was later identified by Gorlovka residents as the former director of a local cemetery.
Officially, I’ve only seen one Russian serviceman,” Kolesnikov said. “The next day he appeared to be the ex-director of the Gorlovka cemetery, fired 2 years ago for selling 38 fences, stealing a monument and extorting money from old women for new graves. There are Interior Ministry and intelligence services in the country, which should give us truthful information.”
He added it was quite obvious that the protesters in Donetsk did not represent any danger to civilians and called for negotiations with the activists. These talks would explain Kiev’s position and that the government is ready to make amendments to the constitution.
The US appears to be relying on information from Kiev, while ignoring alternative points of view. And so it seems that a top US official picked up and railed about a letter of questionable authenticity.
Earlier in April, spokesperson for the US Department of State, Jen Psaki, said that protest events in eastern Ukraine “appeared to be a carefully orchestrated campaign with Russian support.
She was then asked if the department was only relying on Kiev in its assessment of the situation, or was using some independent sources.
Well, of course we remain very closely in touch with the Ukrainian Government, and that’s who we work closely with, and of course, they are on the ground, so their information is often very relevant and current,” was the reply.

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Ukraine’s Gold Reserves Secretely Flown Out and Confiscated by the New York Federal Reserve?

Global Research, April 19, 2014
14 March 2014

The Spoils of War and Regime Change

gold
A Russian Internet news site Iskra (“Spark”) based in Zaporozhye, eastern Ukraine,  reported on March 7, that  “Ukraine’s gold reserves had been hastily airlifted to the United States from Borispol Airport east of Kiev”.
This alleged airlift and confiscation of Ukraine’s gold reserves by the New York Federal Reserve has not been confirmed by the Western media.
According to Iskra News:
At 2 a.m. this morning [March 7] an unmarked transport plane was on the runway at Borispol Airport (right) [east of Kiev]. According to airport staff, before the plane came to the airport, four trucks and two Volkswagen minibuses arrived, all the truck license plates missing.
Сегодня ночью из Fifteen people in black uniforms, masks, and body armor stepped out, some armed with machine guns. They loaded the plane with more than 40 heavy boxes.
After that a mysterious man arrived and entered the plane.
All loading was done in a hurry.
The plane took off on an emergency basis.
Those who saw this mysterious special operation immediately notified the airport officials, who told the callers not to meddle in other people’s affairs.
Later a returned call from a senior official of the former Ministry of Revenue reported that tonight, on the orders of one of the new leaders of Ukraine, the United States had taken custody of all the gold reserves in Ukraine.” Сегодня ночью из “Борисполя” в США страртовал самолёт с золотым запасом Украины,  iskra-news.info. Zaporozhye, Ukraine,March 7, 2014, translated from Russian by the Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc (GATA), emphasis added)
Following this disclosure, GATA’s Secretary Treasurer Chris Powell requested the New Federal Reserve and the US State Department to indicate whether the NY Fed had “taken custody” of Ukraine’s Gold.
A spokesman for the New York Fed said simply: “Any inquiry regarding gold accounts should be directed to the account holder. You may want to contact the National Bank of Ukraine to discuss this report.”
GATA’s similar inquiry of last night to the U.S. State Department has not yet prompted any reply.
Last night GATA called this issue to the attention of about 30 mainstream financial journalists and newsletter writers in the admittedly bizarre hope that they might pose the question as well.
1) The first rule of mainstream financial journalism and particularly financial journalism about gold is never to put a specific critical question about the monetary metal to any of the primary participants in the gold market, central banks. That is, nearly all gold market reporting is, by design, irrelevant distraction at best, disinformation at worst.
2) The true location and disposition of national gold reserves are secrets far more sensitive than the location and disposition of nuclear weapons. Chris Powell, Secretary/Treasurer
Gold Anti-Trust Action Committee Inc.
While the unconfirmed report regarding Ukraine’s gold reserves has not been the object of coverage by the mainstream financial news, the story was nonetheless picked up by the Shanghai Metals Market at  Metal.com. which states, quoting a report from the Ukrainian government, that Ukraine’s gold reserves had been “moved on an aircraft from … Kiev to the United States… in 40 sealed boxes” loaded on an unidentified aircraft.
The unconfirmed source quoted by Metal.com, says that the operation to airlift Ukraine’s gold had been ordered by the acting Prime Minister Arseny Yatsenyuk with a view to safe-keeping Ukraine’s gold reserves at the NY Fed, against a possible Russian invasion which could lead to the confiscation of Ukraine’s gold reserves.
On March 10, kingworldnews, a prominent online financial blog site published an incisive interview with William Kaye, a Hong Kong based hedge fund manager at Pacific Group Ltd. who had previously worked for Goldman Sachs in mergers and acquisitions.  ‎
The Spoils of War and Regime Change
Of significance in this interview with William Kaye is the analogy between Ukraine, Iraq and Libya. Lest we forget, both Iraq and Libya had their gold reserves confiscated by the US. According to Kaye,  the destination was the New York Fed.
The National Bank of Ukraine (Central Bank) estimated Ukraine’s gold reserves in February to be worth 1.8 billion dollars. According to William Kaye: “That would amount to a very nice down payment to the $5 billion that Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland boasted that the United States has already spent in their efforts to destabilize Ukraine, and put in place their own unelected  government.” (KingsWorldNews  emphasis added). Kaye also confirmed in the interview that Washington was behind the appointment of the new head of the National  Bank of Ukraine (NBU) Stepan Kubiv:
“This would have been his first major decision to transport that gold out of Ukraine to the United States. …Ukraine will … very likely never see that gold again.” (Read Complete interview at KingsWorldNews, March 10, 2014, emphasis added)
Acting prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk accused the Yanukovych government of having stolen Ukraine’s gold reserves.  This statement was made on February 27th, less than week prior to the report on the alleged airlifting of Ukraine’s gold to the  New York, which is yet to be confirmed.

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Canada joins NATO build-up against Russia

By Keith Jones 
19 April 2014

Canada is deploying six F-16 fighter jets to Eastern Europe in support of the war threats against Russia made by the US, Germany and NATO, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper announced Thursday.

Harper also said that Canada and the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) will strengthen their participation in NATO’s command structure by sending a score of additional CAF officers to work at NATO’s European headquarters in Mons, Belgium.

And he suggested that further CAF deployments may be announced in the near future and additional sanctions imposed on Russian businesses and officials in coordination with the US and the European Union.

Harper and his Conservative government, to enthusiastic applause from the opposition parties and Canada’s corporate media, have been making bellicose anti-Russian statements for weeks.

Turning reality on its head, they have lauded the US- and German-instigated, fascist-spearheaded coup that overthrew Ukraine’s elected president as a “democratic revolution,” and they have accused Russia of “aggression” and “imperialism,” when it is the western powers that have aggressively intervened in the Ukraine to install a pro-western client regime, knowing full that the Ukraine’s subordination to US and German imperialism constitutes an existential threat to Russia.

The CAF fighters, pilots and support staff will be based in Lask, Poland. They will participate in the stepped-up NATO patrols over the Baltic Sea and Eastern Europe that were a key element in the expanded NATO presence in Eastern Europe announced Wednesday by NATO Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen.

Dressed up as a “reassurance package” for the states bordering Russia that have been incorporated into NATO over the past two decades, the NATO deployment to Eastern Europe is an act of aggression, meant to shore up the coup-installed ultra-rightwing government in Kyiv and threaten and prepare for war with Russia.

Flanked by CAF head General Tom Lawson, Harper indicated the deployment is open ended and is only the first salvo in a major shift in Canada’s military-strategic posture

Russian “expansionism “and “militarism” are, claimed Harper, “a long-term, serious threat to global peace and security.”

Media reports indicate that the Harper government is now considering overturning the 2005 decision of its Liberal predecessor not to participate in the US’s anti-ballistic missile shield. While presented as a defensive measure, the US’s anti-ballistic missile defence program is aimed at enabling Washington to wage “winnable” nuclear war.

Canada’s government may also now give a green light to an increased NATO presence in the Arctic.

Within the G-7 and NATO, Harper and his Conservative government have been working side-by-side with the US in pressing the European powers to take an even more aggressive stance against Russia.

Last Monday, Harper appeared alongside the ambassadors to Canada of the Ukraine, Poland, Latvia, Estonia, Georgia and the Czech Republic to promote fresh lies about the events in the Ukraine. He denounced the opposition in the majority Russian-speaking eastern Ukraine to the coup-installed, ultra-nationalist government in Kyiv as “strictly the work of Russian provocateurs sent by the Putin regime.”

He then cynically and hypocritically invoked international law. “It should be a great concern to all of us,” declared Harper, “when a major power acts in a way that is so clearly aggressive, militaristic and imperialistic.”

This from a prime minister who pressed for Canada to participate in the illegal 2003 US invasion of Iraq on trumped-up claims of weapons of mass destruction, has boasted that Canada is Israel’s staunchest ally and will “go through fire and water” to support the Zionist state, has deployed the CAF in support of US wars of aggression in Afghanistan and Libya, and has vehemently defended the Communications Security Establishment Canada’s (CSEC) leading role in the US National Security Agency’s global spying operations.

At his Monday press conference, Harper announced that Foreign Minister John Baird will visit the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Poland, Latvia and Estonia next week. While in Warsaw, Baird and his Polish interlocutors are to announce further steps in support of Ukraine’s pro-western government. Canada is strongly supportive of an IMF restructuring program that will further impoverish the Ukraine population, shut down large parts of the country’s Russian-oriented manufacturing and heavy industry sectors, and pave the way for Germany and its EU partners to profitably exploit Ukraine’s plentiful natural resources and large low-wage workforce.

On Tuesday, Ottawa further announced that Canada would boycott this week’s Arctic Council meeting in Moscow. This action was of more than symbolic significance. Canada and Russia have competing territorial claims over the resource-rich Arctic seabed—claims Harper has aggressively asserted. Last year, he rejected the Arctic seabed claim that Canadian diplomats and scientific experts had drafted for submission to the UN as too modest and ordered it be rewritten.

The Canadian media explains the Harper government’s obtrusive intervention in the Ukraine crisis by referring to the large Ukrainian-Canadian population.

This is poppycock.

To be sure, over the past two decades Canada’s government, under the Liberals and Conservatives alike, has sought to leverage the Ukrainian Canadian Congress and its large network of ultranationalist organizations—many of them open admirers of Nazi collaborator Stepan Bandera and his Organization of Ukrainian Nationalists. Canada has lavished aid on pro-western “civil society groups” in the Ukraine with the aim of detaching it from Russian economic and geopolitical influence—long a key strategic objective of US imperialism.

Driving Ottawa’s intervention in the Ukraine and aggressive anti-Russian stance are the predatory interests of Canada’s ruling elite.

Fearing both its own relative economic decline—Canada’s share of world trade has fallen to some 2.5 percent—and that of its longtime strategic partner to the south, the Canadian bourgeoisie calculates that it can best assert its global interests by tightening its partnership with Washington and Wall Street. This includes Canadian imperialism supporting and participating in the US’s attempt to use its military might as a means of offsetting its loss of economic dominance.

Since 1999, when Canada played a leading role in the US-led NATO war on Yugoslavia, the Canadian Armed Forces have participated in a series of US-led wars and regime-change operations. These include the twelve-year-long invasion and counterinsurgency mission in Afghanistan, during the course of which 40,000 Canadian troops were deployed to Afghanistan, the 2004 ouster of Haiti’s elected president, and the 2011 war on Libya.

By the beginning of this decade, Canada’s military spending in real, not just nominal, terms was higher than at any time since the end of the Second World War.

And last week the Ottawa Citizen reported that the Canadian military has developed multiple scenarios for military operations in Syria.

Canada has also signaled its strong support for the US “pivot to Asia,” Washington’s drive to isolate and militarily encircle China. Like the US-German intervention in the Ukraine, the “pivot to Asia” is a highly destabilizing campaign of aggression that threatens to trigger a military conflagration with incalculable consequences for humanity.

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One in five US children do not have enough to eat

By Andre Damon 
19 April 2014

Feeding America, the US national network of food banks, released its annual report on local food insecurity Thursday, showing that there are dozens of counties throughout the US where a third of children do not get enough to eat.

Fourteen million people, or 16 percent of the population, lived in food insecure households in 2012, the latest year for which figures are available. This is up from 11.1 percent in 2007. The level of food insecurity among children is even worse, affecting a staggering 16 million children, or 21.6 percent.

“Food insecurity is higher than at any time since the Great Depression,” said Ross Fraser, director of media relations for Feeding America, the national network of charitable food banks. “One in six Americans live at risk of hunger, as do one in five children,” he added.

Broken down by state and county, the situation is far worse in many parts of the country. For instance, in Mississippi, 22.3 percent of the population, or almost one in four, are food insecure. So are 29 percent of children in New Mexico, nearly one third of all children.

There are sixteen states—including California, the most populous state in the country—where more than one in four children are food insecure.

Food insecurity means that a household does not “always have access to adequate amounts of food to maintain an active, healthy lifestyle,” Fraser explained to the WSWS. “Sometimes they’re either missing meals or fill their bellies with something that isn’t as nutritious as it should be, like a bowl of rice instead of a balanced meal.”

“When the recession hit, the number of food insecure people skyrocketed, from about 38 million people to about 50 million,” Fraser added. “Despite the proclamation that the recession is over, what this data shows is that people are having a very tough time making ends meet and securing enough food for themselves and their families.”

Los Angeles County, the New York metropolitan area, and Cook County (which includes Chicago) had the highest numbers of food insecure people in the US. There are 1.6 million food insecure people in Los Angeles, 1.4 million in New York’s five boroughs, and 0.8 million in Cook County. Twenty-one percent of residents (more than one in five) in Wayne County, which includes Detroit, were food insecure in 2012, as were 20 percent of residents in Dallas, Texas.

In the District of Columbia, home to the US capital, 28 percent of children live in food insecure households.

Rural poverty and hunger are pervasive. Four out of the five counties with the highest levels of food insecurity in the US were in rural Mississippi. Holmes County in the southern state reported 32 percent food insecurity, and Yazoo County reported a rate of 27 percent.

In Zavala County, Texas, 41 percent of children are food insecure. Two other counties in the US— Yuma County, Arizona and Starr County, Texas—have child food insecurity rates of 40 percent or more.

While hunger is most alarmingly high in inner cities and in rural America, Fraser warned that it is by no means confined to those areas. “Hunger exists in every county in America. This is a country where great wealth exists at the same time as great poverty.” He noted the example of Louden County, an affluent suburb of Washington DC, where the local food bank reported that demand for food assistance has quadrupled.

The Feeding America report is based on the organization’s analysis of 2012 data published last year by the US Department of Agriculture. Other, less comprehensive surveys indicate that food insecurity has grown significantly since then. According to the US Conference of Mayors, demand for emergency food assistance in 25 major cities increased seven percent in 2013, following an increase of 22 percent in 2012.

In particular, Feeding America’s report does not take into account the impact of two consecutive cuts to food stamp benefits over the past six months. On November 1, 2013, Congress allowed emergency food stamps funding implemented in 2009 to expire, resulting in a reduction of $36 per month for a family of four. This was followed by $8.7 billion in cuts over 10 years signed by President Obama earlier this year.

The annual cut to food stamp benefits was $5 billion from the first cut alone, amounting to the entire operating budget of the Feeding America network. “It was like wiping out everything we do,” said Fraser.

Federal food stamp benefits now pay an average of $134 per month for individuals and $290 for families, or about $1.40 per person per meal. “Our food banks are where people go when they run out of food stamps,” Fraser said, noting that most people depleted their funds by the 21st of any given month.

Fraser also noted that a significant portion of people who visit the network’s food banks are employed, but do not make enough money to afford enough food. “They’re not able to make ends meet on low-wage jobs. You can’t even rent an apartment in the city limits of Chicago for what a minimum wage worker makes.”

The pervasive growth of poverty, hunger, and homelessness, is the result of the deliberate policies pursued by the ruling class since the 2008 economic crash. First under Bush and then Obama, trillions of dollars have been handed to Wall Street in the form of bank bailouts, followed by unending cuts in wages, benefits and social programs.

These measures have resulted in a historic redistribution of wealth, from the working class to the rich. Just last week, executive compensation research firm Equilar reported that the 100 top-earning CEOs in the US saw their median yearly pay increase by 9 percent in 2013, to $13.9 million each.

The US’s billionaires have seen their wealth double since 2009. The 400 richest individuals in the US now have a collective wealth of more than $2 trillion, or 400 times the annual budget of Feeding America and more than one billion times the average annual income for an individual on food stamps.

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More lies from Obama on Obamacare

19 April 2014

At a press conference on Thursday, President Barack Obama extolled the virtues of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). As a sign of the health care law’s great “success,” he pointed to the government’s estimate that 8 million people had signed up through HealthCare.gov and the other insurance exchanges set up under the bill by the March 31 deadline.

“All told,” he stated, “independent experts now estimate that millions of Americans who were uninsured have gained coverage this year—with millions more to come next year and the year after.” The rosy picture of Obamacare painted by the president is an insult to the intelligence of the American people and ignores the most basic facts about the present state of the health care overhaul.

First of all, those signing up have not done so voluntarily. The key component of the ACA, the “individual mandate,” requires that those without insurance from their employer or a government program such as Medicare or Medicaid obtain insurance or pay a tax penalty. Essentially, the uninsured are being blackmailed into purchasing coverage from private insurance companies.

Secondly, the claim that being insured through plans purchased on the exchanges constitutes anything approaching quality, affordable coverage for the vast majority of people is a fraud. Those shopping for policies have discovered that most of the least expensive “bronze” plans carry deductibles in excess of $5,000 for an individual and other high out-of-pocket costs, which must be paid before coverage even kicks in.

While acknowledging that “premiums will keep rising, as they have for decades,” Obama said they were projected to be “15 percent lower than originally predicted,” and that this would somehow miraculously translate into “more money that families can spend at businesses, more money that businesses can spend hiring new workers.”

As Obama is well aware, US businesses are currently sitting on a cash hoard estimated at $1.5 trillion, even as they shed jobs and boost productivity, while corporate profits and CEO pay soar. Obamacare will not reverse this trend, nor is it intended to.

On the contrary, it has been designed to enable the insurance monopolies, pharmaceutical firms and health care giants to slash costs and make even more money.

The biggest lie from Obama is that the program is a genuine reform on a par with Medicare, and that it will improve health care for millions of Americans. From the start, the health care overhaul has been aimed at establishing an even more heavily class-based system of health care delivery than that which already exists, in which spending is slashed for the government and employers and medical care is rationed for workers and their families.

A front-page article in Friday’s New York Times, “Cost of Treatment May Influence Doctors,” points to how this brutal reality is playing out under Obamacare. The article begins: “Saying they can no longer ignore the rising prices of health care, some of the most influential medical groups in the nation are recommending that doctors weigh the costs, not just the effectiveness of treatments, as they make decisions about patient care.

“The shift … suggests that doctors are starting to redefine their roles, from being concerned exclusively about individual patients to exerting influence on how health care dollars are spent.”

The article details how medical groups—including the American Society of Clinical Oncology, the American College of Cardiology, the American Heart Association and others—are developing guidelines that could influence doctors to rate the value of drugs and treatments based on costs. The Timesexplains that traditionally these guidelines have “heavily influenced the practice of medicine” and “are also used by insurance companies to help determine reimbursement policies.”

The implications are far-reaching and ominous. Such guidelines could serve as the basis for a doctor choosing one drug over another, or deciding that a particular treatment is too expensive and withholding it. Cardiology societies, for example, are considering rating the value of treatments on the “cost per quality-adjusted life-year, or QALY,” a method currently in use in Britain and by some health economists. QALY is based on the number and quality of the years of life that would be added by a proposed medical intervention.

The Times notes as an aside, “In the extreme, some critics have said that making treatment decisions based on cost is a form of rationing.” But this is precisely the point. And it is clear that the elderly would be the main target of such rationing. Why spend money on a drug or treatment that would prolong life for only a few weeks, months or even years when an elderly person is chronically ill, approaching the end of life, and no longer producing profits for a capitalist?

As the WSWS noted previously, such arguments have a distinctly fascistic odor: “What are the ‘potential social benefits’ of the mentally impaired, or the physically disabled? Wouldn’t society be better served if their lives were cut short as well?”

It is no exaggeration to say that rationing of health care based on cost will result not only in the withholding of treatments and medications to the detriment of the health of millions of people, but also in needless deaths. Of course, the wealthy will have access to the best medical care that money can buy, as these rationing rules do not apply to them.

According to the Times, the soaring cost of drugs and treatments is behind the drive toward rationing. The society of oncologists, for example, is “alarmed by the escalating prices of cancer medicines” and is developing a method of evaluating drugs based on cost and value. The article also notes the $84,000 per course cost of Sovaldi, a new drug for hepatitis C from Gilead Sciences. It is never mentioned that such obscene prices are overwhelmingly the result of price gouging by pharmaceutical companies profiting off of the desperation of people battling life-threatening diseases.

The article notes that the cardiology societies, in a paper outlining new policies rating the cost and value of treatments, argue that doctors have to consider the financial burdens faced by patients: “Protecting patients from financial ruin is fundamental to the precept of ‘do not harm.’” This is remarkable! According to this reasoning, doctors will be doing patients a favor by withholding potentially life-saving treatments.

If patients need protection from anything, it is the for-profit health care system, in which the value of a procedure or medicine is judged not by its value for the patient, but by its impact on the bottom line of the giant health care chains, pharmaceutical corporations and insurance companies.

It is clear that rationing in health care, including moves by influential medical groups to establish new guidelines rating medical treatments according to cost, has accelerated under Obamacare. This highlights the reactionary character of Obama’s signature domestic policy. It is not a reform, but a counterrevolution in health care aimed not only at slashing and rationing health care for ordinary Americans, but at reducing life expectancy for the working class.

A true reform of America’s health care system would look nothing like the Affordable Care Act. The defense of health care as a social right requires that the entire health care industry be placed on socialist foundations, under public ownership and the democratic control of the working class.

Kate Randall

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Survival is the Saudi Key Word

Written By James Perez on April 18, 2014 | 10:35 pm

By Nicola Nasser

Survival is the key word to understand the Saudi dynasty's latest external and internal policies. These are designed to pre-empt change but paradoxically they are creating more enemies in a changing world order marked by turbulent regional geopolitics and growing internal demands for change.

The seventy-year old strategic oil for security US-Saudi alliance seemed about to crack on its 69th anniversary ahead of the summit meeting of US President Barak Obama and king Abdullah bin Abdul Aziz in March.

With the US now committed to pivoting east and possibly on track to become an oil exporter by 2017, American and Saudi policies are no longer identical.

Former US President George W. Bush's democracy campaign, which Saudi opposed, alerted its rulers to be on guard. The Arab popular protests since 2011 pushed them into leading a regional defensive counterrevolution and ever since the gap in bilateral relations has been widening.

The Saudis could not trust the US' "regime change" strategy in the region, which depends on the Muslim Brotherhood International (MBI) as an instrument of change, sponsored by a regional rival like Turkey and a co-member of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), like Qatar, which has been for long contesting the Saudi leadership of the GCC, the Saudi leading role in Arab politics and the Saudi political representation of Sunni Muslims.

This trilateral alliance of Qatar, Turkey and the MBI would develop into a real threat to Saudi's survival if it was allowed to deliver change in Syria, Iraq, Egypt, Yemen, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya and elsewhere in the region. It might quickly leave Saudi Arabia as the next target for "change."

The US pillar of Saudi security now seems to be in doubt as the United States stands unable to meet Saudi expectations on almost all the most critical issues in the Middle East, from the Arab-Israeli conflict to the Saudi-Iran conflict and the ongoing bloody conflict in Syria, let alone the conflict with the MBI, especially in Egypt.

Within this context, using the MBI as an instrument for "regime change" in the region has created a Saudi MBI phobia. Change is overdue in the kingdom, but, after decades of intensive Islamic education, change could only come camouflaged in Islamist form.

"It might seem ironic for a Wahhabi theocracy to oppose so forcefully a party that mixes religion with politics. But it is precisely because the monarchy bases its legitimacy on Islam that it fears Brotherhood rivalry," journalist Roula Khalaf wrote in the Financial Times in March. 

Obama doesn't seem capable of mending the bilateral fences. His refusal to fight Saudi regional wars reminds them that he is the same man who as a state senator back in 2002 stated that:

"Let's fight to make sure our so-called allies in the Middle East - the Saudis and the Egyptians - stop oppressing their own people, and suppressing dissent, and tolerating corruption and inequality, and mismanaging their economies."

However, as demonstrated by Obama's visit to the kingdom on March 28, the bilateral differences will remain tactical, while the strategic alliance will hold until the kingdom finds a credible alternative to its American security guarantor, although this seems an unrealistic development in the foreseen future.

Regional Shifts

Regionally, the kingdom is not faring better. The US-promoted and Saudi-advocated anti-Iran "front" of regional "moderates," with Israel as an undercover partner, seems now a forgone endeavor.

The Saudi call for converting the GCC "council" into a "union" is now dead.

Oman's public threat to withdraw from the GCC should it transform into a union and the Saudi current rift with Qatar threaten the GCC's very existence.

Saudi invitation to Jordan and Morocco to join the GCC was unwelcome by other GCC members and by Morocco.

In Bahrain, the kingdom has intervened militarily to squash a three-year old ongoing democratic uprising.

The latest Kuwait-hosted Arab summit meeting did not see eye to eye with Saudi on Syria.

Forming a Lebanese government without Hezbullah and its pro-Syria coalition has failed.

Egypt's calls for a "political solution" in Syria and its refusal to give the Syrian Arab League seat to the opposition could not be interpreted as a friendly position from a country that Saudi Arabia has bailed out, in exchange for its transition away from a MBI rule.

Turkey is at odds with the Egyptian-Saudi newly found partnership.

Iraq is accusing the kingdom of waging a "war" against it, with Saudi now the only country to not have a permanent ambassador to Iraq.

Meanwhile, the kingdom continues to deal with Iran as an "existential threat."

In the background, the Israeli threat could never be overlooked.

Self-confidence Challenged

Using petrodollars as soft power to gain influence abroad and secure loyalty internally, the kingdom seems self-confident enough, or overconfident, to feel secured on its own.

Speaking at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia, on March 11, Prince Turki al-Faisal, chairman of the King Faisal Center for Research & Islamic Studies in Riyadh and former Saudi Ambassador to the US, said:

"Saudi Arabia represents over 20% of the combined GDP of the Middle East-North Africa (MENA) region (and over a quarter of the Arab World's GDP) making it ... an effective partner and member of the G20.

"The Saudi stock market represents over 50% of the entire stock market capitalization of the MENA region.

"The Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), the Kingdom's central bank, is the world's third largest holder of net foreign assets ... Last but not least, Saudi Aramco, the Kingdom's national oil company, is the world's largest producer and exporter of petroleum and has by far the world's largest sustained production capacity infrastructure."

However, veteran journalist Karen Elliot House, has presented a starkly ominous picture.

"Sixty percent of Saudis are 20 or younger, most of whom have no hope of a job," House wrote in her 2012 book. "Seventy percent of Saudis cannot afford to own a home. Forty percent live below the poverty line. The royals, 25,000 princes and princesses, own most of the valuable land and benefit from a system that gives each a stipend and some a fortune. Foreign workers make the Kingdom work; the 19 million Saudi citizens share the Kingdom with 8.5 million guest workers."

According to House, regional differences are "a daily fact of Saudi life." Hejazis in the West and Shiites in the East resent the strict Wahhabi lifestyle. Gender discrimination is a growing problem. Sixty percent of Saudi college graduates are women but they account for only twelve percent of the work force.

Moreover, according to Anthony H. Cordesman, published by the Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) on April 21, 2011, "There are serious gaps between 'haves' and 'have nots,' regional differences in wealth and privilege, and tensions between Saudi Shi'ites and Saudi Sunnis."

The kingdom has been squandering billions upon billions of petrodollars in a lost battle to finance a regional counterrevolution. Some $20bn dollars were pledged to bailout Bahrain and the Sultanate of Oman out of the Arab Spring. Three billions more was pledged recently to buy French arms to prop up the Lebanese army against the Hezbullah-led pro-Syria coalition. Several billions more have been pledged to Egypt to reinforce the successors of the ousted former president Mohamed Morsi, let alone the reportedly other billions spent on financing "regime change" in Syria. Reportedly, Obama tried to convince King Abdullah during his latest visit to bail out the transition in Ukraine.

To contain the repercussions of the Arab uprisings internally, the Kingdom has already spent even more on buying the loyalty of its own people; for the same purpose twenty Royal Orders, which were economically dominated, were issued in March 2011.

In February 2011, King Abdullah pledged more than $35 billion for housing, salary increases for state employees, studying abroad and social security. The next month the king announced another financial package worth more than $70 billion for more housing units, religious establishment and salary increase for military and security forces.

Bailing the population out of protests economically seemed not enough to secure internal stability as the kingdom, instead of relaxing the internal situation, has recently tightened the screws with the issuing of the Penal Law for Crimes of Terrorism and Its Financing on last January 31, the Royal Decree No. 44, which criminalizes "participating in hostilities outside the kingdom," three days later and on March 7 the Interior Ministry's "initial" list of groups the government considers terrorist organizations, both inside and around the country and both Sunni and Shiite.

"These recent laws and regulations turn almost any critical expression or independent association into crimes of terrorism," said Joe Stork, the deputy director of the Human Rights Watch for the Middle East and North Africa region. "These regulations dash any hope that King Abdullah intends to open a space for peaceful dissent or independent groups," Stork added.

Internally and externally, the kingdom overconfidently seems intent on creating more enemies, neutralizing none, alienating world and regional powers, mainstream Sunni, Shiite, liberal, pan-Arab and leftist forces, wrecking regional havoc, all in what looks like an unbalanced reaction to threats, real and perceived, to the survival of the ruling dynasty. However, the kingdom seems like shooting its survival in the legs.

Nicola Nasser is a veteran Arab journalist based in Birzeit, West Bank of the Israeli-occupied Palestinian territories (nassernicola@ymail.com).

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Investigation Finds Former Ukraine President Not Responsible For Sniper ...





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Making Sense Of The Latest Kerry Lavrov Deal

By The Saker

April 18, 2014 "ICH" - Ok, first the necessary caveats:

1) Kerry and Lavrov already had a deal on Syria, also made in Geneva, but then the USA reneged.
2) The EU also had a deal on the Ukraine with Yanukovich, who was overthrown literally the next day.
3) The USA, NATO and the EU have lied, cheated, mis-represented, twisted and simply betrayed pretty much every promise which they made to Russia ever since Russia freed itself from the yoke of Communism in 1991.
4) The USA probably has as much control over the Ukrainian crazies a la Right Sector as it does over al-Qaeda, tenuous at best.
5) Putin does have a lot of "street cred" in the eastern Ukraine, but it is far from being infinite.
6) The USA does have full control over the Ukrainian oligarchs, but they, in turn, are clearly in a struggle with the nationalist crazies who probably have more firepower and crowd muscle than these oligarchs.

To these caveats, I also want to add a few basic reminders because from the comments I have seen on my previous initial post, a lot of you are over-reacting to this latest developments. So, just for context, please keep in mind that

1) The Kiev regime has proven that it does not have the means to crush the rebellion in the East.
2) For reasons I have already mentioned many times, NATO and the US do not have a military option in the Ukraine.
3) Western sanctions are not significantly hurting Russia and they are very significantly help Putin's personal popularity and reforms program.
4) Time is not on the side of the regime in Kiev as the West cannot rescue the Ukraine; Russia can, but will not do so as long as the regime in power remains both illegitimate and crazy.
5) Popular militia can which materialize overnight can also disappear overnight.
6) Until now Kiev has rejected any negotiations with the East.
7) Kiev hold tens or even hundreds of anti-Fascist activists in its jails.
8) The population which would suffer from open warfare is in the East.

Ok, now that we have set the context, let us look at what happened today:

1) Kiev has agreed to negotiate with the East.
2) All illegal armed groups will have to disarm (that was already agreed between Yanukovich and the EU).
3) OSCE monitors will be dispatched to the East to monitor the situation.
4) Kiev has committed to legal reforms for greater autonomy.
5) The Crimea has not even been discussed.
6) The EU has accepted Putin's proposal to discuss gas deliveries.
7) Nobody will face prosecution except for major crimes. 

Now, in my opinion, very little has in fact been agreed to, and all that has been agreed to is vague, ambiguous and lacks any verifiable landmarks to achieve within a clear timetable.

So I very much disagree with those who see that as a sell-out by Russia or, even more so, who call a truly top-notch diplomat with fantastic diplomatic skills all sorts of bad names.

Furthermore, and that is the only big news, the USA, the EU and Kiev have agreed to negotiate with Russia, something they had categorically refused to do in the past (except for the EU agreement with Yanukovich which lasted less than a day and which the US never committed to). As for Crimea, it is simply not part of any negotiations and will just remain a great opportunity for western politicians to spew some more hot air when they feel the need to.

The illegal formations and their weapons? I suppose that if things go well they will very gradually vacate some buildings which are only needed for symbolic reasons, as for their weapons, they will hide them (and use extra time to get more!). None of the activists will be detained, at least not legally and, frankly, I see no other option at this point for the Kiev authorities then to release the anti-Nazi activists they are holding. So far, the Russian speakers, far from vacating any building,have seized one more.

The sanctions? Those in place will stay, the West will make lots of empty threats about more sanctions if these evil Russkies don't behave, Putin will assume not only that no sanctions will be lifted, but also that many more will be introduced (that serves his economic reform agenda).

Crimea? It will see a huge economic boom starting this summer with a wave of "patriotic tourism" and *massive* investments from the Russian business community which will now get a chance to bid and invest in all the neglected infrastructure the Ukies left after them and all the numerous millionaire mansions the Ukrainian oligarchs have built. Crimea will become the "jewel of the Black Sea" and the economic powerhouse of southern Russia. Military contracts, huge ones, will begin pouring in (the Russian Navy already ordered 5 ships today).

The Ukraine? It will get poorer, more unstable, totally dependent on western emergency aid which will barely let the regime stay in power unless the revolutionaries come to their senses or tell Uncle Sam to buzz off. Either way, as long as the rump-Ukraine remains anti-Russia (nevermind a Nazi Banderastan) it will remain a bankrupt failed state.

Russia? It will continue exactly on the same course and adapt its policies depending on the exact ratio of sanity/delusion it will detect in its "western partners".

So today agreement is really neither good, nor bad, in fact - it's no big deal at all. Either it will be as short-lived as the agreement between the EU and Yanukovich, or it will be slowly implemented with lots of zig-zags on the way. Regardless of which option proves true, it will not affect the deep dynamics which have been set in motion which have now acquired a momentum so powerful that probably nobody can stop it.

The attempt to put down the eastern Ukraine appears to have petered out and the chance to turn the Donbass into a "East Banderastan" lead by a clique of neo-Nazi freaks are as small as ever. In other words, chances are the at least the current phase of the Ukrainian civil war is over.

All in all, that is pretty good news, I think.


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Jesus Lived in a Police State

By John W. Whitehead 

“There is no evidence that Jesus himself openly advocated violent actions. But he was certainly no pacifist. “Do not think that I have come to bring peace on earth. I have not come to bring peace, but the sword” (Matthew 10:34 | Luke 12:51).” ― Reza Aslan, Zealot: The Life and Times of Jesus of Nazareth

Those living through this present age of SWAT team raids, police shootings of unarmed citizens, roadside strip searches, and invasive surveillance might feel as if these events are unprecedented. Yet while we in the United States may be experiencing a steady slide into a police state, we are neither the first nor the last nation to do so.

Although technology, politics and superpowers have changed over time, the characteristics of a police state and its reasons for being have remained the same: control, power and money. Indeed, as I point out in my book A Government of Wolves: The Emerging American Police State, a police state extends far beyond the actions of law enforcement. In fact, a police state “is characterized by bureaucracy, secrecy, perpetual wars, a nation of suspects, militarization, surveillance, widespread police presence, and a citizenry with little recourse against police actions.”

Just as police states have arisen throughout history, there have also been individuals or groups of individuals who have risen up to challenge the injustices of their age. Nazi Germany had its Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The gulags of the Soviet Union were challenged by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. America had its color-coded system of racial segregation and warmongering called out for what it was, blatant discrimination and profiteering, by Martin Luther King Jr.

And then there was Jesus Christ, an itinerant preacher and revolutionary activist, who not only died challenging the police state of his day—namely, the Roman Empire—but provided a blueprint for civil disobedience that would be followed by those, religious and otherwise, who came after him. Yet for all the accolades poured out upon Jesus, little is said about the harsh realities of the police state in which he lived and its similarities to modern-day America, and yet they are striking.

Secrecy, surveillance and rule by the elite. As the chasm between the wealthy and poor grew wider in the Roman Empire, the ruling class and the wealthy class became synonymous, while the lower classes, increasingly deprived of their political freedoms, grew disinterested in the government and easily distracted by “bread and circuses.” Much like America today, with its lack of government transparency, overt domestic surveillance, and rule by the rich, the inner workings of the Roman Empire were shrouded in secrecy, while its leaders were constantly on the watch for any potential threats to its power. The resulting state-wide surveillance was primarily carried out by the military, which acted as investigators, enforcers, torturers, policemen, executioners and jailers. Today that role is fulfilled by increasingly militarized police forces across the country.

Widespread police presence. The Roman Empire used its military forces to maintain the “peace,” thereby establishing a police state that reached into all aspects of a citizen’s life. In this way, these military officers, used to address a broad range of routine problems and conflicts, enforced the will of the state. Today SWAT teams, comprised of local police and federal agents, are employed to carry out routine search warrants for minor crimes such as marijuana possession and credit card fraud.

Citizenry with little recourse against the police state. As the Roman Empire expanded, personal freedom and independence nearly vanished, as did any real sense of local governance and national consciousness. Similarly, in America today, citizens largely feel powerless, voiceless and unrepresented in the face of a power-hungry federal government. As states and localities are brought under direct control by federal agencies and regulations, a sense of learned helplessness grips the nation.

Perpetual wars and a military empire. Much like America today with its practice of policing the world, war and an over-arching militarist ethos provided the framework for the Roman Empire, which extended from the Italian peninsula to all over Southern, Western, and Eastern Europe, extending into North Africa and Western Asia as well. In addition to significant foreign threats, wars were waged against inchoate, unstructured and socially inferior foes.

Martial law. Eventually, Rome established a permanent military dictatorship that left the citizens at the mercy of an unreachable and oppressive totalitarian regime. In the absence of resources to establish civic police forces, the Romans relied increasingly on the military to intervene in all matters of conflict or upheaval in provinces, from small-scale scuffles to large-scale revolts. Not unlike police forces today, with their militarized weapons and “shoot first, ask questions later” mindset, the Roman soldier had “the exercise of lethal force at his fingertips” with the potential of wreaking havoc on normal citizens’ lives.

A nation of suspects. Just as the American Empire looks upon its citizens as suspects to be tracked, surveilled and controlled, the Roman Empire looked upon all potential insubordinates, from the common thief to a full-fledged insurrectionist, as threats to its power. The insurrectionist was seen as directly challenging the Emperor. A “bandit,” or revolutionist, was seen as capable of overturning the empire, was always considered guilty and deserving of the most savage penalties, including capital punishment. Bandits were usually punished publicly and cruelly as a means of deterring others from challenging the power of the state. Jesus’ execution was one such public punishment.

Acts of civil disobedience by insurrectionists. Starting with his act of civil disobedience at the Jewish temple, the site of the administrative headquarters of the Sanhedrin, the supreme Jewish council, Jesus branded himself a political revolutionary. When Jesus “with the help of his disciples, blocks the entrance to the courtyard” and forbids “anyone carrying goods for sale or trade from entering the Temple,” he committed a blatantly criminal and seditious act, an act “that undoubtedly precipitated his arrest and execution.” Because the commercial events were sponsored by the religious hierarchy, which in turn was operated by consent of the Roman government, Jesus’ attack on the money chargers and traders can be seen as an attack on Rome itself, an unmistakable declaration of political and social independence from the Roman oppression.

Military-style arrests in the dead of night. Jesus’ arrest account testifies to the fact that the Romans perceived Him as a revolutionary. Eerily similar to today’s SWAT team raids, Jesus was arrested in the middle of the night, in secret, by a large, heavily armed fleet of soldiers. Rather than merely asking for Jesus when they came to arrest him, his pursuers collaborated beforehand with Judas. Acting as a government informant, Judas concocted a kiss as a secret identification marker, hinting that a level of deception and trickery must be used to obtain this seemingly “dangerous revolutionist’s” cooperation. 

Torture and capital punishment. In Jesus’ day, religious preachers, self-proclaimed prophets and nonviolent protesters were not summarily arrested and executed. Indeed, the high priests and Roman governors normally allowed a protest, particularly a small-scale one, to run its course. However, government authorities were quick to dispose of leaders and movements that appeared to threaten the Roman Empire. The charges leveled against Jesus—that he was a threat to the stability of the nation, opposed paying Roman taxes and claimed to be the rightful King—were purely political, not religious. To the Romans, any one of these charges was enough to merit death by crucifixion, which was usually reserved for slaves, non-Romans, radicals, revolutionaries and the worst criminals.

Jesus was presented to Pontius Pilate “as a disturber of the political peace,” a leader of a rebellion, a political threat, and most gravely—a claimant to kingship, a “king of the revolutionary type.” After Jesus is formally condemned by Pilate, he is sentenced to death by crucifixion, “the Roman means of executing criminals convicted of high treason.” The purpose of crucifixion was not so much to kill the criminal, as it was an immensely public statement intended to visually warn all those who would challenge the power of the Roman Empire. Hence, it was reserved solely for the most extreme political crimes: treason, rebellion, sedition, and banditry. After being ruthlessly whipped and mocked, Jesus was nailed to a cross.

As Professor Mark Lewis Taylor observed:


The cross within Roman politics and culture was a marker of shame, of being a criminal. If you were put to the cross, you were marked as shameful, as criminal, but especially as subversive. And there were thousands of people put to the cross. The cross was actually positioned at many crossroads, and, as New Testament scholar Paula Fredricksen has reminded us, it served as kind of a public service announcement that said, “Act like this person did, and this is how you will end up.”

Jesus—the revolutionary, the political dissident, and the nonviolent activist—lived and died in a police state. Any reflection on Jesus’ life and death within a police state must take into account several factors: Jesus spoke out strongly against such things as empires, controlling people, state violence and power politics. Jesus challenged the political and religious belief systems of his day. And worldly powers feared Jesus, not because he challenged them for control of thrones or government but because he undercut their claims of supremacy, and he dared to speak truth to power in a time when doing so could—and often did—cost a person his life.

Unfortunately, the radical Jesus, the political dissident who took aim at injustice and oppression, has been largely forgotten today, replaced by a congenial, smiling Jesus trotted out for religious holidays but otherwise rendered mute when it comes to matters of war, power and politics. Yet for those who truly study the life and teachings of Jesus, the resounding theme is one of outright resistance to war, materialism and empire.

As Professor Taylor notes, “The power of Jesus is one that enables us to critique the nation and the empire. Unfortunately, that gospel is being sacrificed and squandered by Christians who have cozied up to power and wealth.” Ultimately, this is the contradiction that must be resolved if the radical Jesus—the one who stood up to the Roman Empire and was crucified as a warning to others not to challenge the powers-that-be—is to be an example for our modern age.John W. Whitehead is an attorney and author who has written, debated and practiced widely in the area of constitutional law and human rights. Whitehead's concern for the persecuted and oppressed led him, in 1982, to establish The Rutherford Institute, a nonprofit civil liberties and human rights organization whose international headquarters are located in Charlottesville, Virginia. Whitehead serves as the Institute’s president and spokesperson, in addition to writing a weekly commentary that is posted on The Rutherford Institute’s website (www.rutherford.org)

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