Saturday, June 30, 2012

Spotlight on the US State Department

By Neil Harris

THE UNITED States State Department and its subsidiary USAID, has a long record of destabilising governments America doesn’t like, with a range of techniques for stealing elections and fermenting demonstrations. Its successes range from toppling Milosevic in the former Yugoslavia through the various “colour” revolutions in the republics of the former Soviet Union. During the last year it has been increasing its propaganda attacks against governments it seeks to overthrow, this time making use of new media and social networking tools. While the technology may be new it has been recycling some familiar cold war methods and in some cases a few rather elderly cold war personnel too.
On 21st May 2012 tenders were invited for a “full-time, 24/7 service” from “global news coverage service providers”. This looks very like the old news agencies that were used to plant anti-Soviet stories in apparently independent newspapers around the world. This time, however; “on retrieving these packaged programmes, the State Department will distribute this video content to media organisations through an array of traditional and new media platforms”. www.sourcewatch has described these “video news releases” as “designed to be indistinguishable from independently produced news reports that are distributed and promoted to television newsrooms”. The State Department is looking to exploit these clips via “traditional fibre, terrestrial and satellite based as well as file based and internet delivery platforms”.
On 12th June, more tenders were invited for a contractor to provide “logistical, administrative and financial services to journalists, selected to travel to the US on two-week “TV Co-ops.” Again the intention is to insert pro-US video clips into foreign TV stations with the appearance that these came from non-US sources. The contractor will be using State Department money to pay for the journalists’ free flights and hotel rooms together with all TV production costs thrown in, “to communicate and promote US policies and American values”. All the same, the contractor “shall exercise the utmost discretion, in regard to all matters relating to their duties and functions”.
Meanwhile internet propaganda is being re-organised by Jared Cohen, who was a State Department advisor to both Condoleezza Rice and Hilary Clinton and now works for Google as “Director of Ideas”.  Cohen worked for Policy Planning at State from 2006-10 and during that time led technology delegations to Iraq, Russia, Mexico, Congo and Syria.
During the June 2009 protests in Iran, a country he knows well from when he lived there, he tried to persuade the founder of Twitter to reschedule routine maintenance of the site to keep the messages coming.  At the start of the Egyptian “revolution”, he was in Egypt holding discussions with leading dissidents.
Condoleezza Rice’s view on his abilities is clear: “He would use his position at policy planning to begin to integrate social media into our diplomacy tool kit. That would pay off handsomely some years later, when Twitter and Facebook became accelerants of democratic change in the Middle East.”
            Now Cohen, founder of while at the State Department, has merged his internet activities with those of 89-year-old Robert L Bernstein, former president of Random House and publisher of Sakharov, Havel and Bonner amongst other Soviet and East European dissidents. He formed “Human Rights Watch” in 1978 but fell out with them when they criticised Israel’s appalling record on human rights.
            His new organisation and website, “Advancing Human Rights”, is only directed against America’s enemies, and in particular those in the Middle East. “”, a Bernstein subsidiary has a strong supporter in Natan Sharansky, former Soviet dissident and now an Israeli politician. Amongst Bernstein’s other activities is being Emeritus Chair of “Human Rights in China”, which has well-funded offices in New York, Hong Kong and Brussels.
 The new joint organisation will be providing “connections, technical advice and support to dissidents abroad”, as well as publishing a series of e-books.
What this means in practise was spelt out by State Department spokesperson Victoria Nubard, at a 6th January  press briefing; “I’m not going to get into the specifics here – but I will tell you that we fund a range of programmes and initiatives that empower Iranians to access unfiltered information, to speak freely and to speak safely online. Yearly we spend nearly $70 million a year on these programmes both in Iran and around the world.”
She elaborated: “At the same time, we’re also developing and distributing new technologies – more than 20 of them – to empower activists around the globe to access unlicensed content on the internet and to communicate with each other and to tell their stories. And to date, we’ve funded the training of more than 7,500 activists around the world in these programmes.”
On 14th March, State Department spokespersons also revealed the extent of their activities in the Middle East: “In 2008 to 2011, State and USAID spent £76 million on internet freedom programming and will spend $25 million in 2012 to provide training and tools to civil society activists in the Middle East and throughout the world”.
They spelt out the nature of assistance: “Tools that have received support from State Department help provide unfettered internet access for hundreds of thousands of individuals in the Middle East. We also support development of mobile security software to provide safer ways for activists in repressive societies to communicate and technology to enable them to post their own content online and protect against cyber-attacks.”
We can get some idea of the likely targets of US attack, from the US Broadcasting Board of Governors who run the US funded Voice of America, as well as Radio Sawa and Alhurra Television in the Middle East. Last summer they put out an invitation for tender for a contractor: “to develop a new model capable of predicting internet usage and growth in 32 countries”.
The aim of this new programme is to provide weekly estimates of how many people are accessing the internet, which platforms they are using and how that is likely to grow. A technique of plotting net traffic and predicting its growth would be a valuable tool in spotting early trends indicating social disorder and upheaval. That would enable the US to help its friends by warning them of growing instability and enable it to exploit the same instability amongst its enemies, before those countries realise there is a problem.
The countries of interest to America, and which it estimates will be subjected to instability that it will need to influence over the next five years are: “Afghanistan, Albania, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Cameroon, China, Egypt, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, Iran, Sudan, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, Pakistan, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Senegal, Serbia, Syria, Tanzania, Thailand, Turkey, Uganda, Ukraine, Vietnam, Zambia, and Zimbabwe.” 

With thanks to Sourcewatch and Spinwatch.

Friday, June 15, 2012

Unity, the magazine of Unite Against Fascism


By Caroline Colebrook

THE FIRST edition of Unity, the quarterly magazine of Unite Against Fascism has at last appeared, giving us now three major anti-fascist and anti-racist journals in this country, the other two being the monthly Searchlight and the bi-monthly Hope not Hate.
 Unity is £3 for 32 pages and its first edition, Spring 2012, is focussed on the local elections that happened in May.
 The cover picture depicts Doreen Lawrence, mother of Stephen Lawrence, the black teenager who was murdered by racists in 1991 and leads to a story on page four by UAF joint general secretary Weyman Bennett entitled “The murder that exposed racism in the justice system”.
 There are campaigning articles on the elections and the launch of “Griffin must go”, a report of the UAF national conference in London, an article on the history of the UAF and its predecessor, the Anti-Nazi League.
 There is a very good article on Paul Robeson, and articles on combating homophobia, fighting the extreme right wing in Catalonia and on fighting racism in football. There is a contribution from Love Music Hate Racism.
 And there is an introduction by Christine Blower, the general secretary of the National Union of Teachers.
 There are plenty of full colour photos, graphics and advertisements for UAF merchandise.
 But none of the articles is very long – around 500 words is the maximum with most at about 300. So all topics are covered rather superficially.
 It is a great magazine for handing out in large numbers to young people who are not yet involved in anti-fascist activity. For anyone who is already involved it will not tell them anything they do not already know.
 In that sense it is complementary to Searchlight which covers issues and give analyses in much greater depth and supplies up to date information and intelligence on the fascist and racist organisations. The two journals are not in competition; they aim at different readerships.
  Unity can be obtained from the UAF national office at PO Box 36871, London WC1X 9X, phone 020 7801 2782 and email:

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Joint statement in solidarity with the Communist Party of Greece

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Message of solidarity with the KKE
 The parties signing this statement believe that the struggle which is being waged by the Communist Party of Greece (KKE) is of extreme importance to all the peoples of Europe and the world, and for all the Communist Parties. This consistent struggle of the Greek communists against the EU and NATO, and their militant action aimed at making the capitalists, and not the working people, pay for the crisis, play a key role in the process of raising of the consciousness of the peoples of Europe and also worldwide. The bourgeoisie is disturbed because the KKE is not participating in the bourgeois governments, because it does not compromise with governments that, under conditions of capitalist crisis, will only serve to give a respite to the capitalist system so it can save time and maintain its barbarism against the people. The KKE has not been submitted, nor will be, to the interests of the bourgeoisie and that is why they are trying to create difficulties to the KKE in face of the June 17 elections. We are confident that the Greek working people will thwart this plan. Our parties, each in our own country, we promote a movement of solidarity with the struggle of the Greek working people and the KKE. The struggle of the KKE is also our struggle. The struggle of the working people, the self-employed, small and medium farmers and youth in Greece are also the struggle of our peoples, a struggle that, through the social and popular alliance, is not aimed at the salvation and perpetuation of capitalist barbarism, as is done from the reformist positions, but to overthrow the power of capital and building a society without exploitation, for the construction of socialism. 

 The Parties 

Communist Party of Australia

Communist Initiative of Austria

Belgian Workers Party (PTB)

Brazilian Communist Party (PCB)

Communist Party of Bohemia & Moravia

New Communist Party of Britain
 Communist Party in Denmark

Communist Party of Denmark

Communist Party of El Salvador 

Pole of the Communist Renaissance of France (PRCF)

Union of Revolutionary Communists of France (URCF)

Communist Workers Party of Finland

Communist Party of Honduras

Communist Workers Party of Hungary

Popular Left Communists-Communist Party of Italy (CSP-PC)

Popular Socialist Party of Mexico

Communist Party of México

Communist Party of the Philippines (PKP-1930)

Communist Party of the People's of Spain

Communist Party of Turkey

Communist Party of the Russian Federation

Socialist People's Front of Lithuania

Communist Party of Malta

Communist Party of Nepal (ML)

Communist Party of Pakistan

Communist Party of Palestine

Communist Party of Sweden (SKP)

Communist Party of Turkey

Communist Party of  Venezuela 

New Communist Party of Yugoslavia

Monday, June 11, 2012

Pages from the past

THE CHARTIST movement was the first mass movement driven by the working class. It grew following the failure of the 1832 Reform Act to extend the vote beyond those owning property. In 1838 a People's Charter was drawn up for the London Working Men's Association (LWMA). The Charter had six demands: universal male suffrage, elections by secret ballot, abolition of property qualifications for MPs, payment of MPs, equal electoral constituencies and annual parliaments.
            Millions signed Chartist petitions which were repeatedly rejected by Parliament. Chartist leaders were arrested, jailed or transported to Australia and the movement eventually was wound down in 1858. But the demand for reform continued and by 1918 every one of the Chartist demands apart from annual parliaments had been achieved.
Past Pixels was set up in 2009 to make images of working class struggle more widely available to a newer generation and over the years it has carved a niche for itself with a series of greeting cards dedicated to the working class movement
William Cuffay

            A new set of cards of images of leading Chartists, taken from original photographs, engravings and lithographs, has now been produced to commemorate their struggle for social justice.
            Dorothy Thompson, the immensely influential Chartist historian, helped Past Pixels select the images for reproduction. She identified Feargus O’Connor, William Cuffay, James “Bronterre” O’Brien and John Frost as her favourite five Chartists. Sadly she died in early 2011 and this set is published in her memory.
There’s a short commentary about the image of the back of each card and Past Pixel cards can be ordered online at or from an increasing number of retail outlets. Further information about all the cards can also be obtained  by writing directly to: Past Pixels, PO Box 798, Worcester, WR4 4BW

photo: William Cuffay after William Paul Dowling,Lithograph, 1848 NPG D13148 copyright National Portrait Gallery.