Shaky Run-up to Syrian Peace Talks – By Stephen Lendman



Shaky Run-up to Syrian Peace Talks
by Stephen Lendman


Talks are scheduled to begin Friday at Geneva’s Palais des Nations. It’s still unclear precisely who’s coming – what parties and individuals got invitations, which ones accepted or rejected them.


From what’s known so far, US/UK/Saudi-backed terrorist groups were invited – a bloc known as the Higher Negotiating Committee, including ISIS-equivalent Jaish al-Islam (Army of Islam).


It’s committed to Syria’s destruction, mass slaughter of Shiites and Alawites – former leader Zahran Alloush (killed by Syrian airstrikes) earlier saying “(o)ur nation has a great thirst for an Islamic state.”


He and his followers reject democracy, international law, and pluralistic governance. Not yet named similar terrorist groups were invited. Anti-Assad moderates don’t exist.


Media reports indicated Syrian Foreign Minister Walid al-Moallem will attend, along with UN envoy Bashar al-Jafari as government moderator.


Syrian political defector Riyad Hijab heads the Saudi-backed Higher Negotiating Committee. Syrian army defector Asaad al-Zoubi heads other opposition groups – both men committed to Assad’s removal by any means.


Arab media indicated de Mistura invited 15 delegates from each side. Various other groups and individuals got invitations.


The PYD (Democratic Union Party) was excluded, Syria’s largest Kurdish group, despite the importance of its inclusion. Turkey demanded its exclusion, falsely calling it a terrorist organization, part of its longstanding war on Kurds, currently raging.


PYD fighters are some of the most effective in combating ISIS and other terrorist groups. Excluding the group denigrates its commitment against a common scourge.


Veteran Syrian opposition figure Haitham Manna said he’ll boycott talks without the PYD’s inclusion. The Swiss government invited its leader Saleh Muslim to serve as an advisor to the talks – meaningless if he’s excluded from proceedings.


Months of proximity talks are planned. Opposing sides won’t meet face-to-face. Anti-Assad, Western-controlled UN negotiators will mediate proceedings, biased before beginning.


On the eve of talks, bickering on who should or shouldn’t attend continues, some groups (including Saudi-backed ones) threatening to boycott proceedings if their conditions aren’t met.


Talks are supposed to take place with no pre-conditions, beyond what Security Council Res. 2254 stipulates:


  • initiating a political process toward establishing “inclusive and non-sectarian governance” within six months by Syrians alone, free from outside interference;


  • drafting a new constitution, likely largely replicating the current one, overwhelmingly approved by national referendum in February 2012; and


  • holding new elections in 18 months.


Assad is overwhelmingly popular, reelected in June 2014 with an 89% majority – a process independent international observers called open, free and fair.


He won’t be removed from office electorally, why Washington and rogue partners plan endless war. Expect Geneva III to fare no better than previous talks.


How can it with US-led opposition to Assad’s rule committed to ousting him militarily. The evidence speaks for itself.


ISIS, Al Qaeda and Jabhat al-Nusra weren’t invited to Geneva. They’re US foot soldiers committed to conflict to achieve their objectives – with full support and encouragement from Washington, including Pentagon warplanes bombing infrastructure and government targets, as well as increasing numbers of US combat troops heading for northern Syria.


On Wednesday, State Department spokesman Mark Toner lied, saying:


“We believe (opposition elements) should seize this opportunity to test the regime’s willingness and intentions and expose before the entire world which parties are serious about a potential peaceful political transition in Syria and which are not.” 


He failed to explain Washington intends endless war, attempting to oust Assad militarily, so far Russia’s aerial campaign defeating its imperial objectives.


On Wednesday, Sergey Lavrov warned about talks threatened by “irrelevant conditions,” ignoring the need for unity against terrorism.


He defended Russia’s aerial campaign, saying it’s “clear who is fighting the terrorists, who are acting as their accomplices, and who are trying to use them for their unilateral, selfish goals” – indicating Washington, Britain, France, Gulf States and complicit allies without naming them.


Lavrov fears unacceptable opposition-imposed conditions may doom talks, maybe before beginning.


It bears repeating. Expect Geneva III to fare no better than earlier talks. Washington’s imperial agenda likely dooms them.


Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at 


His new book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”



Visit his blog site at 


Listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network.


It airs three times weekly: live on Sundays at 1PM Central time plus two prerecorded archived programs. 


posted by Stephen Lendman @ 3:57 AM


Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s).  Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.


Hillary Clinton: The Bride of Frankenfood


In-depth Report:

hillary-clinton-GMO-monsanto-480x264-400x220Although during her tenure in the White House as first lady Hillary enjoyed the benefit of 8 years of organic non-GMO food by virtue of her residency in the White House, 2016 candidate Clinton has been perhaps the most vocal proponent of GM food to yet enter the race.

According to Global Research writer Stephen Lendman, nearly all the food produced for the Clinton White House was obtained from local growers and suppliers, GMO-free, pesticide-free, and with a preference for organic.[1] That, preference, however, is not to be afforded the American people and the people of the Third World for whom Hillary is pushing every toxic GM variety known to man.

Hillary’s Big-Agra ties go back quite a long ways. As far back as the 1980s, Hillary was working at high levels within the Rose Law Firm, a law firm that itself was tied to a number of scandals. Although not a scandal at the time, it is now important to note that the Rose Law Firm, at which Clinton was a partner, maintained Monsanto and Tyson Foods as clients.[2]

Yet a mere association between law firms and such food giants was by no means the depths of Clinton’s connection to these institutions and the industry of Genetically Modified Organisms and “biotechnology.”

It has been speculated by many that Hillary’s ties to Monsanto and Tyson as a result of her career with Rose was yet another link in the chain pulling biotech giants together with the Bill Clinton administration in the 1990s. Indeed, Clinton’s disastrous presidency resulted in seeing a number of former-biotech giant employees being hired and appointed to the FDA, USDA, and other relevant regulatory posts within the US government. While being careful not to ascribe the blame of Bill Clinton’s either years of treachery to Hillary, it is nevertheless worthwhile to ask whether or not Hillary served as a middleman of sorts for major government-corporate collusion of this type.

After all, when Clinton became US Secretary of State, she acted as Monsanto’s promoter both domestically and across the world, continuing a policy of GMO promotion that preceded and, apparently, continued even after she left the office.

In December, 2010, WikiLeaks released sizable number of cables, about ten percent of which revealed that the US State Department was essentially acting as the marketing wing for biotech companies and “biotech” products across the world. The thousands of cables that were released spanned over 100 embassies and were, unfortunately, released just before Christmas. As a result, the story faded into the holiday madness.[3]

Thankfully, in 2013, the watchdog organization Food and Water Watch delved into the cables and released a report entitled “Biotech Ambassadors: How The U.S. State Department Promotes The Seed Industry’s Global Agenda.” According to Food and Water Watch, their study “reveals a concerted strategy to promote agricultural biotechnology overseas, compel countries to import biotech crops and foods they do not want, and lobby foreign governments — especially in the developing world — to adopt policies to pave the way to cultivate biotech crops.”[4]

Food and Water Watch wrote,

Food and Water Watch closely examined five years of State Department diplomatic cables from 2005 to 2009 to provide the first comprehensive analysis of the strategy, tactics and U.S. foreign policy objectives to foist pro-agricultural biotechnology policies worldwide. Food & Water Watch’s illuminating findings include:

The U.S. State Department’s multifaceted efforts to promote the biotechnology industry overseas: The State Department targeted foreign reporters, hosted and coordinated pro-biotech conferences and public events and brought foreign opinion-makers to the United States on high-profile junkets to improve the image of agricultural biotechnology overseas and overcome widespread public opposition to GE crops and foods.

The State Department’s coordinated campaign to promote biotech business interests: The State Department promoted not only pro-biotechnology policies but also the products of biotech companies. The strategy cables explicitly “protect the interests” of biotech exporters, “facilitate trade in agri-biotech products” and encourage the cultivation of GE crops in more countries, especially in the developing world.[5]

The State Department’s determined advocacy to press the developing world to adopt biotech crops: The diplomatic cables document a coordinated effort to lobby countries in the developing world to pass legislation and implement regulations favored by the biotech seed industry. This study examines the State Department lobbying campaigns in Kenya, Ghana and Nigeria to pass pro-biotech laws.

The State Department’s efforts to force other nations to accept biotech crop and food imports:The State Department works with the U.S. Trade Representative to promote the export of biotech crops and to force nations that do not want these imports to accept U.S. biotech foods and crops.[6]

FWW also provides a few Hillary quotes demonstrating the State Department’s push for GM crops worldwide such as her statements linking GMOs to solving “climate change” and world hunger.[7]

“We believe that biotechnology has a critical role to play in increasing agricultural productivity, particularly in light of climate change,” Clinton is quoted as stating.[8]

“[W]e want to shift our focus to agricultural sustainability, focusing on the small producers, helping them understand the value of GMOs — genetically modified organisms,” she also said while serving as Secretary of State.[9]

Clinton also extolled the virtues of GE technology upon her visit to Kenya when she stated that “With Kenya’s leadership in biotechnology and biosafety, we cannot only improve agriculture in Kenya, but Kenya can be leader for the rest of Africa.”[10]

While the FWW report can scarcely be dealt with in any reasonable detail within the scope of this article, it is recommended that the reader take advantage of the fact that it is freely available online at this link:

It should be mentioned that, as Secretary of State, Hillary also helped promote the USAID –funded program “Feed the Future,” an initiative that promotes and introduces Round-up Ready®products all over the world.[11]

Yet, even as Hillary was acting as Monsanto and Big-Agra’s PR woman as Secretary of State, the Clinton Global Initiative was receiving sizable donations from Monsanto and Dow Chemical. As Judy Frankel of the Huffington Post writes in her article Hillary vs. Bernie On Frankenfood,

How is Hillary personally involved in supporting big agriculture? The Clinton Global Initiative (CGI), which gathers leaders to solve the world’s problems, promotes Monsanto, the maker of RoundUp® and RoundUp Ready® seeds. Hugh Grant, Monsanto’s Chairman and CEO spoke at the Clinton Global Initiative conference in September, 2014. Ms. Clinton’s top campaign advisor, Jerry Crawford, was a lobbyist for Monsanto for years and is now the political pro for her Super PAC, “Ready for Hillary.”[12] Clinton spoke in favor of the government’s Feed the Future (FtF) program, a USAID funded, corporate-partnered program that brings RoundUp Ready® technology to the most vulnerable populations of the world.[13] Monsanto and Dow Chemical support Hillary and Bill’s ‘Clinton Foundation’ with generous donations.

Last year, at a San Diego biotech conference, Hillary coached her audience in messaging. “Genetically modified sounds Frankensteinish. Drought-resistant sounds like something you’d want. Be more careful so you don’t raise that red flag immediately.”

It’s also highly unlikely for Hillary Clinton to stand up against her benefactors, saying she favors a review of RoundUp, 2,4-D, and the even more toxic poisons used by farmers worldwide when she has friends in the industry telling her that they will “feed the world” someday with their agricultural methods.[14]

According to Stephen Lendman,

Monsanto gave the Clinton Foundation from half a million to one million dollars – Ag giant Dow Chemical from one to five million dollars, according to Bill, Hillary & Chelsea Clinton Foundation disclosures.

Numerous other corporate giants contributed large sums. Expect them donating handsomely to Hillary’s presidential campaign.[15]

The Washington Times echoes Lendman’s claims by stating that “Monsanto gave the foundation between $501,250 and $1 million. Dow Chemical Company, which is among the top GMO players, gave between $1 million and $5 million, according to financial disclosures by the Clinton Foundation.”[16]

Candidate Clinton is no better than Secretary, Senator, or First Lady Clinton. In fact, she may even be worse considering that, even when faced with election woes stemming from her support of GM foods, she is still stalwart and vocal in her support of them, going so far as to openly raise funds from Big-Agra donors and attend Big-Agra lobbying initiatives.[17]

Candidate Clinton in 2008 was bad enough. Back then, Clinton was supported by a group called Rural Americans For Hillary, an organization closely connected to the lobbying firm of Monsanto.[18]

Clinton’s “adviser” for her campaign for Secretary of State, 2008 Presidency, and both Senate runs was Mark Penn, a close adviser to Clinton as well as PR rep for Monsanto via his PR firm Burson-Marsteller. [19] [20] [21]

Linn Cohen-Cole suggests that it was Hillary Clinton who was the brainchild (at Penn’s instruction) to appoint notorious Monsanto henchman Michael Taylor to the position of head of the FDA, a man whom Bill Clinton had once appointed to the FDA and USDA.[22]

In 2015, when Hillary began assembling her 2016 campaign team, she tapped Monsanto lobbyist Jerry Crawford to act as an “adviser” to the Ready For Hillary Super PAC. Crawford was also co-chair of her 2008 campaign.[23]

As Zaid Jilani wrote for Alternet,

Before joining Clinton’s campaign in 2008, Crawford served in a variety of high-profile political roles. In addition to a variety of local positions, he served as the Iowa chair for the presidential campaigns of Mike Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore, John Kerry—each one the more conservative candidates in their Democratic presidential primaries.

So it was a natural fit for Crawford to sign up for the Hillary campaign. But after Clinton’s 2008 loss, Crawford spent his days at Crawford Muaro, his law and lobbying firm.[24] While there, he represented a variety of corporate clients, including Kraft and Altria (the parent company of Philip Morris USA). He also served as a lawyer for Jack DeCoster, a factory farm tycoon who infamously supplied eggs that led to a salmonella outbreak. His most prominent client, however, was Monsanto.[25]

Stephen Lendman also points out that Crawford was involved in fighting small farmers through the court system on behalf of Big-Agra.[26]

Hillary’s long history with Big Agra should have foretold the glowing praise she would leap upon GM crops and big Biotech companies at the world’s largest trade organization of biotechnology firms in San Diego in late June 2014.[27]

“I stand in favor of using seeds and products that have a proven track record,” Hillary said. She also added that pro-GMO advocates need to continue to hammer at those more skeptical of frankenfoods. “There is a big gap between what the facts are, and what the perceptions are,” she said, echoing a typical Big Agra talking point designed to be appealing to trendies and hipsters.[28]

Clinton also gave some marketing advice to the participants regarding how they present GM food to the public. “‘Genetically modified’ sounds Frankensteinish. ‘Drought resistance’ sounds really – something you want. So how do you create a different vocabulary to talk about what it is you’re trying to help people do,” she said.[29]

She also stated

We talk about drought-resistant seeds, and I’ve promoted them all over Africa. By definition, they have been engineered to be drought-resistant, I mean that’s the beauty of them. Maybe somebody can get their harvest done and not starve, and maybe there’s some left over to sell. And yet I’ve been involved in a lot of the political debates in other countries about whether or not to accept certain kinds of seeds.

. . . . .

We created a program called Feed the Future, which is trying to help the farmers be educated enough to know that drought-resistant seeds, for example, are not going to hurt them. And this is painstaking work, doesn’t get solved overnight. You have to be working at the top with the departments of agriculture, with finance ministries, with prime ministers and presidents’ offices, and you have to be working from the bottom up. I don’t see the short cut for it.

. . . . . .

I don’t want to see biotech companies or pharma companies moving out of our country simply because of some perceived tax disadvantage and potential tax advantage somewhere else.[30]

Hillary Clinton at BIO Convention 2014



Clinton’s 2016 race has, as mentioned, gotten off to a great start thanks to donations from Monsanto lobbyists in the form of bundlers – fundraisers who are able to skirt election donation laws by convincing their contacts and associates to donate to a political candidate.

Jerry Crawford, the famed Iowa-based Monsanto lobbyist, has already raised $35,000 for Clinton.[32]

Brandon Turbeville – article archive here – is an author out of Florence, South Carolina. He is the author of six books, Codex Alimentarius — The End of Health Freedom, 7 Real Conspiracies, Five Sense Solutions and Dispatches From a Dissident, volume 1and volume 2, The Road to Damascus: The Anglo-American Assault on Syria, and The Difference it Makes: 36 Reasons Why Hillary Clinton Should Never Be President. Turbeville has published over 600 articles dealing on a wide variety of subjects including health, economics, government corruption, and civil liberties. Brandon Turbeville’s podcast Truth on The Tracks can be found every Monday night 9 pm EST at UCYTV. He is available for radio and TV interviews. Please contact activistpost (at)

This article (Hillary Clinton: The Bride Of Frankenfood) can be republished under this share-alike Creative Commons license with attribution to Brandon Turbeville, the article link and Natural


[1] Lendman, Stephen. “Hillary Clinton Endorses GMOS. White House Meals Are Organic.” Global Research (Centre For Research On Globalization). May 25, 2015. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[2] Gerth, JeffVan Natta, Jr., Don (2007). Her Way: The Hopes and Ambitions of Hillary Rodham ClintonNew York: Little, Brown and Company. ISBN 0-316-01742-6. p. 60.

[3] Hatfield, Leslie. “New Analysis Of Wikileaks Shows State Department’s Promotion Of Monsanto’s GMOs Abroad.” Huffington Post. July 20, 2013. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[4] “Biotech Ambassadors: How The U.S. State Department Promotes The Seed Industry’s Global Agenda.” Food and Water Watch. May, 2013. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[5] U.S. Department of State (U.S. DoS). “FY 2008 biotechnology outreach strategy and department resources.” Cable No. 07STATE160639. November 27, 2007.

[6] “Biotech Ambassadors: How The U.S. State Department Promotes The Seed Industry’s Global Agenda.” Food and Water Watch. May, 2013. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[7] Biotech Ambassadors: How The U.S. State Department Promotes The Seed Industry’s Global Agenda.” Food and Water Watch. May, 2013. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[8] U.S. Senate Appropriations Committee. Hearing on the President’s FY2009 War Supplemental Request. April 30, 2009.

[9] Lauritsen, Sharon Bomer, Executive Vice President of Food and Agriculture at BIO. Letter to Professeur De Schutter, the UN Special Rapporteur on the Right to Food. May 29, 2009 at 14.

[10] Clinton, Hillary. Remarks at the Kenya Agricultural Research Institute. August 5, 2009

[11] Biotech Ambassadors: How The U.S. State Department Promotes The Seed Industry’s Global Agenda.” Food and Water Watch. May, 2013. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[12] Jilani, Zaid. “Hillary’s Pick For Her Political Fixer In Iowa Is A Classic Illustration Of America’s Political Corporate Insider Problem.” Alter Net. March 9, 2015. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[13] Ishii-Eiteman, Marcia. “U.S. Looks To Monsanto To Feed The World.” Ground Truth. February 2, 2011. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[14] Frankel, Judy. “Hillary Vs. Bernie On Frankenfood.” Huffington Post. June 23, 2015. on September 2, 2015.

[15] Lendman, Stephen. “Hillary Clinton Endorses GMOS. White House Meals Are Organic.” Global Research (Centre For Research On Globalization). May 25, 2015. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[16] “Hillary’s Agribusiness Ties Give Rise To Nickname In Iowa: ‘Bride Of Frankenfood.” Washington Times. May 17, 2015. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[17] “Hillary’s Agribusiness Ties Give Rise To Nickname In Iowa: ‘Bride Of Frankenfood.” Washington Times. May 17, 2015. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[18] Parker, Jennifer. “Yee-Haw.” ABC News. December 17, 2007. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[19] Sarich, Christina. “’Bride Of Frankenfood’ Hillary Clinton’s GMO Ties Spark Backlash In Iowa.” Natural Society. May 28, 2015. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[20] Johnson, Luke. “Mark Penn All But Out For Potential Hillary Clinton 2016 Run.” Huffington Post. May 20, 2013. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[21] Scarehuman. “Mark Penn, Taking A Break From Monsanto To Run Hillary Clinton’s Campaign.” Daily Kos. March 17, 2008. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[22] Cohen-Cole, Linn. “Monsanto And Hillary Clinton’s Redemptive First Act As Secretary Of State.” OpEdNews. February 9, 2009. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[23] Terris, Ben. “Jerry Crawford Has Two Goals: Delivering Iowa For Hillary Clinton And Winning The Kentucky Derby.” Washington Post. March 2, 2015. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[24] “Jerry Crawford.” Crawford Mauro Law Firm.” Crawford bio. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[25] Jilani, Zaid. “Hillary’s Pick For Her Political Fixer In Iowa Is A Classic Illustration Of America’s Political Corporate Insider Problem.” Alter Net. March 9, 2015. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[26] Lendman, Stephen. “Hillary Clinton Endorses GMOS. White House Meals Are Organic.” Global Research (Centre For Research On Globalization). May 25, 2015. Accessed on September 1, 2015.

[27] Lim, XiaoZhi. “Video: Hillary Clinton Endorses GMOs, Solution-focused Crop Biotechnology.” Genetic Literacy Project. July 3, 2014. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[28] Ocean, Max. “Hillary Clinton Goes To Bat For GMOs At Biotech Conference.” Common Dreams. July 3, 2014. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[29] Ocean, Max. “Hillary Clinton Goes To Bat For GMOs At Biotech Conference.” Common Dreams. July 3, 2014. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[30] Lim, XiaoZhi. “Video: Hillary Clinton Endorses GMOs, Solution-focused Crop Biotechnology.” Genetic Literacy Project. July 3, 2014. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[31] “Hillary Clinton At BIO Convention 2014.” Youtube. Posted by Ken Stone. June 27, 2014. Hillary Rodham Clinton, answering questions as if a presidential contender, speaks to thousands at the BIO International Convention on June 25, 2014, at the San Diego Convention Center. She was interviewed by Jim Greenwood, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Industry Organization. Accessed on September 2, 2015.

[32] Brody, Ben. “Lobbyists For Monsanto, ExxonMobil Raise Money For Hillary Clinton.” Bloomberg, July 17, 2015. Accessed on September 2, 2015.


Ukrainian PM Yatsenyuk convince Ukrainian President Poroshenko to blackmail constitutional reform.

Arseniy Yatsenyuk: The Evil behind blocking a referendum on the Ukraine’s Constituion

Holocaust Remembrance 2016: Remembering Humanity’s Capacity for Inhumanity

By Sputnik

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, whose fate ‘hangs by within a hair’s breadth of dismissal’, is pushing a proposal to hold a referendum on the country’s constitution as a way to “blackmail” the president, Ukrainian media and political analysts suggest.

Over the weekend, Yatsenyuk called for a referendum on a new constitution. It’s “high time for the Ukrainian people to have their say about a new Ukrainian constitution in a new European Ukraine,” the prime minister said, during his weekly televised address to the nation on Sunday. 

The new constitution, in his words, would be a “new agreement on the redistribution of powers between authorities, an agreement on relations between the center and the country’s regions, an agreement on a new honest and fair judicial system, and on clear geopolitics,” (i.e., enshrining in the constitution Kiev’s goals of joining the European Union and NATO).

Ukraine's President, Petro Poroshenko
© AP Photo/ Mindaugas Kulbis
Poroshenko Vows Not to Postpone Vote on Ukraine’s Decentralization

Yatsenyuk’s remarks came on the heels of President Petro Poroshenko’s warning, a day earlier, that the parliament’s decision to block constitutional reform aimed at decentralization for the autonomy-seeking regions in the Donbass could lead to the collapse of the Minsk Agreements, and “the resumption of the ‘hot phase’ of the conflict.”Commenting on the prime minister’s response, the Ukrainian newspaper Vesti suggested that his words amount to “blackmail.”

First off, the paper recalls, the conflict between Yatsenyuk and Poroshenko escalated following the quarrel between Odessa Governor Mikheil Saakashvili and Interior Minister Arsen Avakov over corruption allegations last month, and the ‘leak’ by the presidential administration about Poroshenko’s desire to sack the disgraced interior minister. The prime minister bluntly responded to the veiled threat that he would leave “together with Avakov, and immediately into the opposition.”

Moreover, the paper notes, Poroshenko is now attempting to “pressure Yatsenyuk” to at least replace Avakov with another candidate from Yatsenyuk’s People’s Front. 

In response to Yatsenyuk’s initiative, Vesti says, MPs from the People’s Front are already preparing their own version of the constitution, ostensibly to counter presidential proposals presented to parliament earlier this year, which call for a modest decentralization of power to the regions.

Ukrainian Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk gestures as he speaks with Finance Minister Natalia Jaresko during a parliament session in Kiev. File photo.


The People’s Front, according to the paper, has effectively torpedoed the president’s proposals, promising that they would not vote for them. Subsequently, the other forces dominating the country’s post-Maidan political space, including former Prime Minister Yulia Tymoshenko’s Fatherland Party and Oleh Lyashko’s Radical Party, have stepped out in support of Yatsenyuk’s proposal, with the Radical Party even putting for a date for the referendum – March. The Petro Poroshenko Bloc, complaining under its breath that constitutional amendments are a function of the parliament, says that “everything else is mere populism.” For his part, Poroshenko Bloc Rada Chairman Volodymyr Groysman suggested that a referendum would mean that the Donbass would not receive the autonomy so vital for the Minsk peace plan, adding that the referendum’s question would surely be ‘subject to manipulation’.

Speaking to Vesti, Ukrainian political scientist Ruslan Bortnik explained that at the moment, “Yatsenyuk, Avakov and his entire government hang within a hair’s breadth of dismissal.” Subsequently, the analyst noted, “the prime minister’s announcement is a form of blackmail: the president is being told that…he will not be able to count on the People’s Front’s support any longer.”

Ultimately, the newspaper suggests, all this testifies to the fact that the country’s pro-EU, pro-Washington coalition may be on the verge of collapse.

“The coalition is de-facto collapsing. But before the parliament’s dissolution, the president has other tools: a ‘reformatting’ of the government (expected in the spring), and a ‘reformatting’ of the ruling coalition.” 

This, Vesti notes, would require a series of maneuvers, including tapping the ‘People’s Will’ parliamentary group, together with ‘reconnaissance’ on the prospects of bringing the UKROP party (which includes ultranationalist and outright fascists and neo-Nazi MPs including Dmytro Yarosh, Andriy Biletsky, and Boryslav Bereza). “For this to occur,” the paper explains, “the president will have to transcend his conflict with his other ‘enemy #1’ – Ihor Kolomoisky,” the famed oligarch from Dnipropetrovsk accused of cheating the government out of $1.8 billion in IMF loan money.

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The Clintons: We Came, We Stole, Haitians Died




Michel and Hilary

The Haitian people’s furious resistance to yet another fraudulent presidential election has scuttled U.S. plans to replace “Sweet Mickey” Martelly with another flunky named the “Banana Man.” The aborted fraud is a reminder that Secretary of State Clinton was an imperial bully who rigged the previous presidential election in Haiti and stole the country blind, along with her accomplice and husband, Bill. Those chickens may yet come home to roost.

The island nation of Haiti is on the verge of finally ejecting the criminal President Michel “Sweet Mickey” Martelly, the dance hall performer and gangster who was foisted on the Haitian people by the United States through the bullying of then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, back in 2011. Martelly’s term is up, and he is constitutionally required to leave office by February 7. Martelly and his American, French and Canadian backers had hoped to use rigged elections and strong-arm tactics to install another puppet politician, Jovenel “The Banana Man” Moise, in the presidential palace. The “Banana Man” – who wants to turn Haiti into a real banana-exporting republic, to the further impoverishment of its small farmers – came in first in an October election that was so blatantly stolen, even the thoroughly corrupt Haitian elite could not endorse the outcome.

In fact, virtually no one in Haitian society except the “Banana Man” and “Sweet Mickey” and the tens thousands of Haitians who were paid to vote, repeatedly, at different polling places in October, considered the election to be valid. Jude Célestin, the candidate that came in second in the October electoral farce – and who was also cheated of victory by “Sweet Mickey” Martelly in the election five years ago – refused to go along with the travesty. Célestin said he would not take part in the bogus run-off election that was scheduled for this past Sunday – meaning, the “Banana Man” would have been the only candidate.

But, even the prospect of a one-man contest could not stop the Americans from insisting on going ahead with the run-off. The U.S., which pays for the Haitian elections and, therefore, believes it has the right to decide who wins and who loses, growled that Haiti should go along with the fraudulent process. The Americans were upset that they might have no reliable replacement for their loyal puppet, “Sweet Mickey.” Plus, the discrediting of the elections would also reflect very badly on presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, who claims to have brought stability to Haiti when she was at the State Department but, in fact, is culpable for all of the Haitians who were murdered by the Martelly regime. The truth is that Hillary and Bill were the Bonnie and Clyde of Haiti, robbing the country for their own and other corporate criminals’ benefit. The teams of FBI agents that are now matching Hillary’s emails with contributions to the Clinton Foundation are tapping a Mother Lode of corruption that may yet bring her down before Election Day in the United States.

If that happens, the Haitian people will deserve some of the credit for saving the U.S. from another period of rule by the Crooked Clintons, in the process of saving Haiti’s sovereignty and self-respect. The Haitians’ furious grassroots resistance forced the cancellation of Sunday’s run-off election; “Sweet Mickey” is slated to leave office in less than two weeks; and negotiations are underway to form an interim government that would hold clean elections. The struggle now is for Haiti’s poor majority to make its voice heard above the growling of the U.S. imperialist occupiers and their hired Haitian flunkies – some of whom are real killers, whose names aren’t funny at all.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

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BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at

Sorry, Hillary: Women care more about their president than his (or her) gender


Hillary Clinton speaks in Washington. Photo: Getty Images


Hillary Clinton was counting on voters — particularly American women — to salivate at the prospect of shattering the highest glass ceiling by electing a woman president. She’ll need a backup plan. It turns out women aren’t nearly as gender-obsessed as Hillary thinks they are, or wants them to be.

Clinton’s strategy does make some sense. After all, President Obama was buoyed by the widespread sense that his election wasn’t just his personal triumph, but all of ours, in burying the vestiges of America’s racist past. Given that women were also once treated as second-class citizens, why shouldn’t Hillary expect a similar wave of excitement and sense of history?

Perhaps the string of female secretaries of state and Supreme Court justices, as well as presidential candidates like Carly Fiorina and Clinton herself, has made the idea of a female president seem less than revolutionary. The feminist movement — which appears unwilling to acknowledge women’s gains — may also have overplayed its victim status. Young men with few job prospects and a lifetime of being bested by female schoolmates may not be overjoyed to applaud yet another sign of women’s ascendance.

The person of Hillary Clinton herself undoubtedly helps dampen enthusiasm about the prospect of a female president, and not just among Republicans who disagree with her political philosophy. The media is currently pondering how the re-emergence of her husband’s brutal treatment of ex-lovers impacts voters’ opinion of Hillary.

But Mrs. Clinton’s role as the long-suffering first lady to a roguish leading man is just one of her problems; her reputation as a scandal-drenched, corporate-backed and largely failed public servant has always made her an awkward feminist heroine.

Regardless of the explanation, the simple fact is most voters aren’t particularly anxious to see a woman — let alone Hillary Clinton — in the Oval Office.

Pew Research Center’s new report explored attitudes about women in leadership, and found that most Americans see women as just as capable political leaders as men. Women scored about equally on some key leadership traits such as intelligence and capacity for innovation, and received higher marks on attributes such as honesty, ability to compromise, compassion and organization.

Pew found big differences between how Democrats and Republicans viewed the sexes as potential political leaders. But before liberals start lamenting sexist conservatives’ “war on women,” Republicans didn’t see women as less capable, rather Republicans “are more inclined to say there isn’t any difference between men and women,” while “Democrats are significantly more likely than Republicans to say that women do a better job than men.” In other words, Republicans were more likely to truly see women and men as equals, while Democrats see one sex — men — as inferior.

But just because Americans see women as just as qualified and capable political leaders doesn’t mean they’re eagerly awaiting a female president. Just four in 10 (38 percent) of all adults “say they hope the US will elect a female president in their lifetime,” while a majority (57 percent) “say it doesn’t matter to them.”

Women are more likely to want to see a female president, but even that doesn’t translate into big support for Hillary. Take New Hampshire, where the latest poll shows just 38 percent of Democratic women voters plan to vote for Hillary compared to 52 who favor Sen. Bernie Sanders. Clinton is losing women’s support not just in Iowa and New Hampshire: A nationwide poll just released by Monmouth University found that Clinton’s edge among women has fallen from plus-45 percentage points in December to just 19 now.

Feminists may take the lack of excitement as more evidence that the deck is stacked against women. But this phenomenon can also be seen as progress: Women have come so far that it’s no longer big news for women to advance to a higher level of power. People really are judging others based on the content of their character and the skills they bring to the position rather than as a representative of any particular demographic group.

This makes it more likely that when we get a woman president (and three out of four surveyed by Pew expect to see it during their lifetime) she’ll have reached that position based on her qualifications, not out of a sense of obligation among voters. Now that’s something to be excited about.

Carrie Lukas is the managing director of the Independent Women’s Forum and vice president for policy of the Independent Women’s Voice.

Disclaimer: The contents of this article are of sole responsibility of the author(s).  Unruly Hearts will not be responsible for any inaccurate or incorrect statement in this article.

Stretched to the Limit: Has the German State Lost Control?


Police officers in riot gear watch protestors from the PEGIDA movement (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident)during a rally in Leipzig on January 11, 2016. Supporters of the xenophobic far-right movement PEGIDA gathered to mark the first year of the local chapter LEGIDA, as public anger runs high over the Cologne assaults. / AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

Police officers in riot gear watch protestors from the PEGIDA movement (Patriotic Europeans Against the Islamisation of the Occident)during a rally in Leipzig on January 11, 2016.
Supporters of the xenophobic far-right movement PEGIDA gathered to mark the first year of the local chapter LEGIDA, as public anger runs high over the Cologne assaults. / AFP / TOBIAS SCHWARZ

Ein Polizist steht am 10.01.2016 in Köln (Nordrhein-Westfalen) vor dem Hauptbahnhof. Nach den sexuellen Übergriffen auf Frauen in der Silvesternacht verstärkt die Polizei die Präsenz am Hauptbahnhof. Foto: Maja Hitij/dpa +++(c) dpa - Bildfunk+++

Ein Polizist steht am 10.01.2016 in Köln (Nordrhein-Westfalen) vor dem Hauptbahnhof. Nach den sexuellen Übergriffen auf Frauen in der Silvesternacht verstärkt die Polizei die Präsenz am Hauptbahnhof. Foto: Maja Hitij/dpa +++(c) dpa – Bildfunk+++

All Rights Reserved

After the violent excesses in Cologne on New Year’s Eve, German government failures have come to light, with many asking if the country is still safe. Police and the justice system have been stretched to their limits. New laws won’t fix the problem, but extra personnel could. By SPIEGEL Staff

Of course Tunisia could take back a few Tunisians. Germany would like to repatriate about 1,200 of the country’s nationals, but the problems start with the fact that the Tunisian Embassy in Berlin isn’t interested, has no time or has other reasons for why “establishing contact with the embassy” has been “extremely difficult,” as an official German government document reads.

 Tunisia could, of course, easily identify its own citizens using their fingerprints, which would preclude mix-ups. But German officials can’t seem to reach anybody. The result: Only six Tunisians were deported from Germany during the first six months of 2015.

Or Algeria. The Algerians have actually nothing against German inquiries as to whether they can send home one of the more than 2,000 Algerians who have been deemed subject to immediate deportation. But the reality is more complicated. Sometimes there are legal issues, sometimes humanitarian concerns and sometimes there are reasons that are impenetrable. In the end, only 24 were sent home.

Total deportations from Germany between 2010 and 2015

And finally, Morocco. When the Germans present an expired passport at the Moroccan Embassy for one of the 2,300 Moroccans who have been ordered to leave, it first takes months before a new one is issued. Sometimes, apparently, it takes forever. Only 23 were sent home in the first half of last year. “Repatriations to Morocco, and thus the enforcement of German law, are only possible on an extremely limited basis due to the uncooperative behavior of the embassy,” the paper reads.Has the German State Given Up?

Currently, several thousand people from the Maghreb region are slated for deportation from Germany, but they haven’t had to leave because the state, in many respects, has become powerless to act. Not so long ago, it was just a figure that prompted shoulder-shrugging at most. That’s how it is, it can’t be changed, we have to live with it. But after the New Year’s Eve sexual assaults in Cologne, the numbers listed in the internal paper, which was compiled by German state governments, have a new significance. The impotence has remained, but the time for shrugging shoulders has passed. The state stands disgraced and trust is vanishing — and not just when it comes to deportations, but when it comes to everything that a state actually stands for: internal security. Has the German state given up?

Foreigners slated for deportation in Germany, by state Zoom


Foreigners slated for deportation in Germany, by state

It is a painful diagnosis, and it goes far beyond the chaotic and horrific scenes in front of Cologne’s main station on New Year’s Eve. The state is suffering from a stress fracture: In key areas it has long been overwhelmed. It is an uncomfortable realization for the German people. The same state that records their lives right down to the smallest taxable detail and last year alone wrote or amended on the federal level around 8,000 paragraphs of law is now failing at its most basic tasks: protecting its citizens; law enforcement; security; public order.There are financial reasons for the shortcoming: For decades, Germany has skimped on its civil service and cut budgets wherever possible. Now Berlin is paying the price. But the causes go much deeper than that, touching on the fundamental relationship between the German state and those who have recently arrived. In Germany, a 66-year-old democracy, the police have positioned themselves as “friends and helpers,” but it is a promise that young men from North Africa don’t immediately understand.

It is the clash of two cultures: A constitutional state that emphasizes de-escalation, integration and the empathetic re-socialization of young offenders; and immigrants from authoritarian societies who misunderstand the approach and take advantage of the fact that they, even if they break the law, are neither deported nor toughly punished.

The consequence is that, in some places, law and order is restricted, or doesn’t exist at all. Like in Cologne on New Year’s Eve. Or in troubled city quarters in Frankfurt and Berlin during the entire year.

The state has accepted its own impotence, and it was perhaps possible to accept so long as tens of thousands of asylum-seekers weren’t entering the country every year. But now Germany is facing an enormous task: that of absorbing and integrating hundreds of thousands, perhaps millions, of refugees. It is a challenge that can only be met if Germany once again begins to consistently enforce its rules.

Police Failures

A good place to start, particularly given the dark events in Cologne, is with the police. How is it possible that the square in front of the train station could morph into a zone of lawlessness? Why was the state not present on that New Year’s Eve night? Was there a lack of police? Where they overwhelmed by the mob?

By Thursday of last week, some 650 criminal complaints stemming from New Year’s Eve had been filed in Cologne, half of them for sexual assault, three of them for alleged rapes. In 103 cases, sexual assault and theft were combined.

Two weeks after the attacks, victims were still coming forward, most of them women, even if they are fully aware that their purses and mobile phones will most likely never be recovered. And that the men who sexually harassed or assaulted them will never be identified.

By late last week, state prosecutors had only identified 13 suspects: eight Moroccans, four Algerians and a Tunisian. Five of them are in pre-trial detention, accused of theft, receiving stolen goods and resisting arrest. Nobody by last Thursday had yet been detained for sexual assault. Some of the victims have told police they would be able to identify their assailant, but many others have said they could not.

The four public prosecutors and the additional 135 investigators belonging to the special investigations unit assembled to look into the New Year’s crimes are doing what they can to collect evidence. Officials have collected underwear from many of the victims in the hope of finding DNA from the perpetrators, from sweat on their fingers, for example. Police are also hoping for leads acquaintances of the assailants. They have announced a reward of €10,000 for information leading to the culprits.

As one of the detective says, they are looking for “a mass of perpetrators” — which means they will have to sift through a massive amount of data. That includes analyzing, with the help of software, more than 300 hours of footage from CCTV cameras mounted in, on and around the train station. One of their main discoveries so far, though, has been the fact that most of the cameras in the station don’t work and that the others are outdated. An equipment renewal is scheduled for 2018.

Officials have also called on witnesses to upload videos from New Year’s Eve to their website for analysis. But it seems unlikely that footage from the middle of a crowd on a dark night with bright fireworks going off will be much help.

What is slowly becoming clear, however, is why police failed to provide adequate security that night on the square between the main station and the Cologne Cathedral. Ralf Jäger, interior minister of North Rhine-Westphalia, the state in which Cologne is located, believes much of the blame lies with the city’s police department. He says officers failed to “call for badly needed backup” in time. They didn’t even take advantage of backup that had been made available.

Fear and facts about crime committed by immigrants Zoom


Fear and facts about crime committed by immigrants

What Jäger doesn’t mention is that those officers assigned to backup units, had they been called, would have needed at least two hours to respond. A report from Jäger’s own ministry notes that the state police unit tasked with providing backup on New Year’s Eve was already off duty by 6 p.m. After that, Jäger’s ministry’s strategy called for a trio of units, of 38 officers each, to be on call in case they were needed.But they were spread out across the state. One unit was in Aachen, which is located 70 kilometers (45 miles) west of Cologne, a second was in Gelsenkirchen (100 kilometers) and a third was in Wuppertal (50 kilometers). The officers would have needed an hour just to assemble at headquarters and another hour to get to the Cologne train station.

Not surprisingly, the police report from Cologne sounds rather different than the one from the NRW Interior Ministry. The police commander “elected not to call for backup because, due to the time lag until they would be available on site, he did not view it as constructive.” Experienced officers also said that even calling for help from neighboring police forces would have taken too long.

“An impression developed that the state had lost the ability to take action for a few hours,” North Rhine-Westphalia Governor Hannelore Kraft has admitted.

Unprepared for Terror?

For just a few hours? Only in Cologne? Those who work for the federal and state police forces are hardly surprised by the development. Largely unnoticed by the populace at large, German policymakers have spent the past few years reducing the size of the police forces while at the same time inundating them with new responsibilities. “It was bound to happen sooner or later,” says a police union official about the New Year’s attacks. At some point, he continues, there is a price to pay when police forces have to spend just as much effort going after their budget-cutting goals as they do going after criminals.

According to GdP, one of two competing police unions in Germany, there were 237,198 state police officers in 2000, but today there are 10,000 fewer. Furthermore, all German states are faced with a mountain of overtime racked up by their officers — some 18 million hours nationwide.

And it’s not just police personnel that have been overworked. Equipment too is well beyond its wear limit, in many cases to the point that it has become dangerous. A classified Federal Interior Ministry report from Jan. 19, 2015 notes that German police would be unable to adequately protect themselves from gunfire from a Kalashnikov, the favored weapon of terrorists worldwide — even in their response vehicles.

The report, completed shortly after the attack on the satirical weekly Charlie Hebdo, notes that the “existing protective equipment (special vehicles and protective vests)” available to state crisis response units “does not offer any protection against firearms of the type Kalashnikov, which were used by the attackers in Paris.”

German Interior Minister Thomas de Maizière has frequently said that it is only a matter of time before a terror attack is committed on German soil. Yet the federal police force his ministry is in charge of is likewise inadequately equipped. “With their current equipment,” police officials admitted last summer, federal police emergency response units are “only partially deployable in tough situations.”

It is only when something actually happens that the fear of failure becomes great enough and action is taken. Once public attention wanes again, though, cuts and shortcuts continue as before. And hardly anyone cares.

Internal federal police documents clearly show what the back-and-forth looks like. In December 2012, the terror situation seemed relatively calm, as did that along the German-Austrian border. The Interior Ministry reported to German parliament that, “since 2008, the number of officers has been reduced by 1,066, with 511 of those being prison officers.” The period of increasing the security forces in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US had passed and it was time to reduce the force.

But 2008 was also the year when Germany’s federal police force was given a large new task. They took over control of Bavaria’s southern border, with some 800 officers assigned to the duty. Prior to 2008, the Bavarian state police had controlled the border. Despite the new duties, the federal police force was not increased by a single officer.

Just a few years later, Federal Police Chief Dieter Romann applied for 3,000 new positions to be added to the 2013 budget. His request was not acted upon. In 2014, he again received nothing. Only in 2015 were new positions added to the force: 200 of them. But they were earmarked for the next new task assigned to the federal police force: that of guarding the Bundesbank, Germany’s central bank, in Frankfurt. And that is how the situation remained until the middle of 2015: the Interior Ministry continued to be stingy even as the refugee numbers had shot up and Islamists had staged the first attack in Paris.

Suspected crimes by migrants Zoom


Suspected crimes by migrants

In February, Romann sat down again to document his needs for the 2016 budget. It reads like a call for help. Romann wrote of the federal police force facing a “constant overload.” He warned of the “fatal consequences” that could be linked to “questions of political responsibility” if, once again, nothing significant were to come of his requests. Then he demanded that the Interior Ministry grant him an extra 1,794 extra positions for 2016 and a total of 2,912 by 2019. Again, he failed, this time being rejected not by the Finance Ministry, but by his own boss in the Interior Ministry.

Suspected migrant criminals, by nationality Zoom


Suspected migrant criminals, by nationality

Interior Minister de Maizière only wanted to push for an additional 526 positions in the 2016 budget negotiations. “For years, we have been saved to death so that Germany could balance its budget. Minister de Maizière was blind and deaf to the condition of the federal police force,” says deputy union head Jörg Radek. In the end, it wasn’t de Maizière, but the Bundestag, Germany’s federal parliament, that threw its support behind Romann in the federal budget negotiations. “I will do that as head of the Social Democrats, since the Interior Ministry apparently isn’t demanding anything,” wrote Sigmar Gabriel to a confidant shortly before the decisive round of negotiations. Gabriel is also minister of the economy and, as head of Merkel’s junior coalition partner, vice chancellor.The federal budget ultimately approved the additional 3,000 positions that have been requested for years and included them in the 2016 budget — 1,000 per year until 2019. But the first new officers will only join their units in 2019, after training.

‘Total Failure of State Power’

The consequences of the years of belt-tightening can now be observed on the Bavarian border, where during the summer and fall, the federal police took on a number of new refugee-related tasks that have little to do with actual policing: distributing meals, assembling groups for bus transfers, and organizing transportation to identification centers and initial reception facilities.

This winter, the situation has improved only on the surface. “What is happening down here in Passau is insane,” says a frustrated federal police officer, saying it reminds him of a never-ending Ping-Pong game. Austria sends refugees to Bavaria and then, in a more recent development, Germany sends many of them back to Austria — those with no papers or those who don’t want to remain in Germany but want to continue onward to Sweden, for example. Not 24 hours later, the same people are back in Passau, essentially becoming the victims of a power struggle between Austria and Germany. “It’s a total failure of state power,” says one of the police officers.

The federal police are required to report each case indicating that the person in question crossed the border illegally — even if the offender crossed the border on a state-chartered bus. Some 1,000 such reports have thus far been filed. It is little more than bureaucratic waste, sent along to the appropriate public prosecutors office so that the case can then be immediately thrown out.

The trail of overwork and fatigue leads across the entire country, from the federal police on the border to the state prosecutors and the officials in each German state. None of them were even remotely prepared for the arrival of hundreds of thousands of refugees. State bureaucrats, who had spent their days writing regulations pertaining to the correct number of bicycle racks for newly built residential housing where suddenly being asked to improvise and find shelter for 1,000 newly arrived refugees per week. At the same time, others were tasked with guaranteeing public safety.

Eroding Trust

Not surprisingly, they were not always successful — and trust in the state began to erode ever more rapidly.

The city of Braunschweig provides a telling example. At times last year, more than 4,000 people were housed at a former barracks at the edge of town, many of them in the buildings but also in tents and containers outside. As the number of newcomers to the initial reception facility rose, so too did the number of crimes committed nearby. Much of it was petty theft, but there were also break-ins, fights and different forms of harassment — and locals were unsettled. Still, there were very few convictions. The reason was that summons to police or judicial interrogations could not be delivered because suspects had long-since disappeared or registered elsewhere under a different name. “They laugh at us because nothing happens to them,” says one detective.

In August 2015, the Braunschweig police department became the first in the country to establish a special unit for the express purpose of investigating crimes committed by refugees. Police Chief Cordula Müller made the decision to begin locking up suspects in pre-trial detention for a week even for minor crimes. “Criminals have to understand that Germany has laws that they must obey,” she says. It worked because the judiciary in Braunschweig went along with the plan. Accelerated hearings have become just as important as rapid investigations and cases are now heard immediately instead of months later.

Since it was founded, the special unit has dealt with around 1,300 cases. One of the detectives recalls a judge delivering a clear message during one of the very first hearings. “You are bringing other asylum-seekers into disrepute,” he told the defendant. It is the kind of thing that Cordula Müller likes to hear. “We don’t have a problem with refugees. We have a problem with criminals,” she says.

In the public debate, that kind of nuance was not always easy to find in recent months. Initially, newcomers were welcomed with flowers and applause at Munich’s central train station. Not long later, they were pitied as victims of right-wing rhetoric and violence. More recently, though, the discussion has focused on limits. And since New Year’s, even the federal justice minister has spoken of “uninhibited hordes” and a “temporary break with civilization.”

Losing Control

But as fast as opinions have changed, the state and its institutions have reacted at a snail’s pace. Its loss of control is a gradual process, and much more difficult to observe.

That can also be seen in the question as to how the flow of refugees should be registered and distributed. The numbers reported by the federal government sound precise and consistent with German thoroughness. In truth, though, they are at best extremely approximate. Last year, up to 10,000 newcomers each day had to be sheltered and fed. It is understandable that officials were overwhelmed. But the lack of accurate statistics is also the product of the fact that almost every German state has its own solution when it comes to registering and distributing new arrivals.

A national registration system does exist called “Easy.” It says that a total of 1,091,894 asylum-seekers entered the country in 2015, the Federal Office for Migration and Refugees (BAMF) reported two weeks ago. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that close to 1.1 million refugees have actually entered Germany. Experts believe the real figure could be tens, or even hundreds of thousands, lower because it is easy for registrations to be duplicated within the system.

“Easy” is the German abbreviation for Primary Distribution of Asylum-Seekers and it was designed exclusively to help spread the refugees out among the 16 federal states according to quotas set by the German government. New arrivals don’t even have to provide a name under the system. They only have to state their country of origin and their familial connection to other refugees.

Many new arrivals are simply waved into Germany by border officials without even taking any personal data. It often takes days after they enter into the country before they first come into contact with “Easy,” often in a refugee camp. In some cases, asylum-seekers are given temporary ID cards for the camps that include the name they provided. In others, they are just given colored wristbands that give them access to food and services.

In many places, refugees simply disappear soon after arrival, without anyone knowing where they’ve gone. The operators of some asylum-seeker camps, like one in the state of Hesse outside of Frankfurt, report a disappearance rate among refugees as high as 50 percent within the first two days after arrival.

The states are attempting to limit these fluctuations by taking steps to personally register refugees at an earlier stage. But even that isn’t helping much because it is being conducted according to disparate standards and using different software programs. For example, some states are taking fingerprints, but others are not. Generally, an automated exchange of data between the states is not currently possible, and neither is it possible to match data up with that of the Federal Criminal Police Office (BKA), with the national asylum-seeker register maintained by the federal refugee office BAMF or the Europe-wide Eurodac refugee database.

Opportunities for Fraud

Those determined to do so, can thus secure duplicate social benefits, such as the €143 a month in pocket money, from the government without getting caught simply by registering in different states using either the same or different names. During each registration, the authorities issue a “Certificate of Registration as an Asylum-Seeker.” The simple paper is intended to serve as a kind of emergency identity card for the refugees, a temporary solution until they are able to get an appointment with BAMF to submit their official asylum application. Right now, it often takes months for that to happen.

Given the chaotic procedures that are currently in place, criminals can simply secure official papers for multiple identities. The suspected Islamist from an asylum-seekers’ hostel in Recklinghausen, Germany, who attacked police in Paris with an axe at the beginning of January on the first anniversary of the Charlie Hebdo attack is believed to have registered with the authorities using at least seven different names.

An investigation by the BKA also found that the man had applied for asylum in Switzerland and Romania. Europe’s Eurodac fingerprint database is intended to prevent this kind of situation. “We need to review whether the system failed,” says one official.

Officials have been aware of the registration problems for some time now, but the federal government didn’t present a draft law that would require all refugees to be fingerprinted and photographed in a nationwide system until December. Once they have been registered, they are to be provided with a unified “proof of arrival” ID that is standardized and at least halfway unforgeable. The system is supposed to go into place in mid-February, but it will still take some time before it is implemented at all the initial reception centers in the individual states. Interior Minister de Maizière says he is hopeful it can be completed by mid-2016.

Complicated Deportations

But even more difficult than registering new refugees is the deportation of rejected asylum-seekers or immigrant criminal offenders. Even as the government has announced its intention to make such deportations easier, the situation is unlikely to change much. For years, German officials have been complaining about 28 “problem countries” that continually refuse to allow the return of their citizens facing deportation from Germany despite their obligation to do so under international law. They include the Maghreb states like Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, which have shown little willingness to cooperate, especially in cases where those slated for deportation are known criminals.

When German authorities, for example, notify the Moroccan Embassy about a candidate for deportation, officials say they often get answers like, “We can’t find that person in our database.” Or they will point to alleged humanitarian reasons for making the return trip unacceptable. One German government document states that around 5,500 Algerians, Moroccans and Tunisians were “subject to deportation” as of the end of July, but officials only managed to deport 53 nationals from those countries during the first half of 2015.

In recent months, officials in Berlin have complained repeatedly to officials in the Maghreb countries. In a joint letter, de Maizière and Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier, of the center-left Social Democratic Party (SPD), recently demanded greater cooperation from their counterparts in those countries when it comes to repatriation. As of last week, they still hadn’t received a response. The German government has so far avoided acting on the threat of cutting development aid to the countries if they don’t cooperate, but the warnings are there. Over the weekend, deputy chancellor and SPD boss Sigmar Gabriel admonished the Maghreb states and threatened that future funding may be tied to cooperation on deportations.

The consequences of not being able to deport have become apparent in places like Cologne. Or in the state of Saxony. An Interior Ministry report from the end of 2015 notes that a quarter of all foreigners suspected of committing crimes in the state were Tunisians, despite the fact that they comprise only 4 percent of all immigrants in the state. So far, authorities haven only succeeded in deporting very few. After months of pressure, the Tunisian Embassy recently sent the German government a list of 170 nationals the country would possibly be willing to take back — a token gesture of goodwill.

Still, it is anything but certain that the 170 Tunisians will actually leave Germany. For years, the German government permitted a situation in which those who behaved the most brazenly were able to prevent their deportation. Those who concealed their true identity, went underground at the right moment, got a doctor’s note saying they were incapable of flying or caused such a ruckus in the deportation aircraft that the pilot refused to take off, often succeeded in staying in Germany.

Little Respect for Justice

Indeed, these individuals have felt very little of the “heavy hand of the law” now being called for by German politicians, Chancellor Merkel first and foremost. The same applies to young offenders facing the justice system for the first time.

Michael Brennecke has been a public defender in the town of Achim in Lower Saxony for almost 30 years. Based on his experience with numerous cases, he believes that educational measures applied by juvenile courts against young immigrant pickpockets seldom have much impact. He says people who come from countries where conviction for theft means getting your hand cut off “have a totally different understanding of our legal system — they don’t take our sentences seriously.”

Brennecke often represents delinquent refugee youth. He says there’s a typical sentencing pattern. “The case involving a first offense will be closed, then comes a first hearing and a second hearing, both of which end with fines. After another infraction, he is subject to a juvenile arrest. If another crime is committed, the youth gets sentenced to jail time, which is then converted to probation. And? To them it’s easy peasy. They march out of the courtroom and flash the victory sign to their friends.” Brennecke says he’s represented defendants who have been prosecuted 15 or 16 times without ever being put at any serious disadvantage.

Johann Krieten, a juvenile court judge in Hamburg has developed his own method of ensuring an environment of respect. In his courtroom, he orders people to take off their hats, spit out their gum, sit up straight and keep quiet. Anyone who doesn’t obey his rules is fined. Those who don’t pay are then held in contempt of court custody.

When he asks where the defendants are from, Krieten is likewise not easily satisfied. He’ll often ask a question about a mountain in the country they live in or a famous football player and can tell very quickly if he’s being lied to or not. Sometimes the interpreters also provide solid clues about the defendant’s true origins. “In any case, I have never had the feeling that I was not being taken seriously,” Krieten says.

Does Germany Need to Get Tougher?

So does the German justice system need to find new language in order to better reach foreign offenders? Are tougher sentences necessary in order to put a lid on criminality on the part of young Moroccans and Tunisians?

Not according to Krieten. He still believes resocialization measures can be better than prison terms, even for young migrants. He points to youth welfare facilities that include limited detainment, as an example. There, young men are provided with intense guidance and supervision, far away from their old friends when possible. The judge says that one of the major problems is that he often only encounters juvenile delinquents very late in the process. Public prosecutors end many investigations due to insignificance — in many instances as a result of a lack of staff needed to deal with the cases. This can leave young foreign offenders feeling that the state accepts their behavior.

Krieten argues that the justice system must do the opposite. It needs to make its presence felt and engage with young men who often have a problem with self-determined women and, as a last resort, know only the kind of violence they may have learned from their own families. “Instead of perpetuating the illusion that you can just deport them all,” Krieten says, “the truth is that we must solve the problems here.”

Better Enforcement Needed, Not New Laws

Regardless whether in Hamburg, Braunschweig or Cologne, the problems with criminal immigrants in Germany’s major cities didn’t just pop up overnight on New Year’s Eve. And they cannot be solved with the kind of prescriptions given by the government after every crisis: tightening laws and issuing new regulations.

What is more important is the consistent application of the laws already on the books. This would require a stronger police presence and hiring more staff in the government agencies in question. It would also require more money. In short: The state has to become more active and creative in order to put a lid on these problems and regain full control over the country.

Elke Bartels, the chief of police in Duisburg, a German city with a population of close to half a million, has already tested how that might be done. During the summer, a district in the northern part of the city dominated by foreign clans threatened to spiral out of control. Even during the most trivial of police deployments, officers at times found themselves quickly surrounded by large crowds — with the occasional exchange of blows and threats. During one drug inspection, for example, a female police officer and her colleague were beaten to the ground. They had to draw their weapons and call for reinforcements in order to escape the situation.

“We had to prevent a lawless place from taking shape here,” explains Bartels. “The state’s monopoly on the use of force can only be enforced with a zero-tolerance strategy.” She urgently requested funding for additional personnel from the North Rhine-Westphalia state Interior Ministry in Düsseldorf. She didn’t get the hundreds she was hoping for, but 30 new police officers did report for work on July 17.From that point on, they began investigating every single violation of the law and each breach of public order in the problem areas, from people using their mobile phones while driving to trash thrown away illegally to disturbing the peace. Since then, police have issued close to 4,000 fines and taken 75 people into temporary custody.

“We have recaptured respect,” Bartels says.

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Blast From the Past: Moscow Winter historic photos


By Sputnik

The exhibition is held at the Muzeon art park, in Moscow, from January 11 until February 7 and admission is free.

“Between the Pipes” by Vladimir Bogdanov, 1973.

It is a law of nature – in many parts of Russia winter lasts for three-five months and even longer. Every year people wait for this miraculous time of the year and they are thrilled to bits when the first snow falls. The Lumiere Brothers Center for Photography in Moscow presents an exhibition of historic winter pictures of Moscow in Museon Art Park.

Don’t forget to follow the center on Facebook, VKontakte, and Instagram.


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