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Global Research Editor’s Note

We bring to the attention of our readers the following text of Osama bin Laden’s interview with Ummat, a Pakistani daily, published in Karachi on September 28, 2001. It was translated into English by the BBC World Monitoring Service and made public on September 29, 2001.

The authenticity of this interview remains to be confirmed. It is available in recognized electronic news archives including the BBC. Its authenticity has not been questioned.  

The interview tends to demystify the Osama bin Laden persona.

Osama bin Laden categorically denies his involvement in the 9/11 attacks.  Bin Laden’s statements in this interview are markedly different from those made in the alleged Osama video tapes.

In this interview, Osama bin Laden exhibits an understanding of US foreign policy. He expresses his views regarding the loss of life on 9/11. He focusses on CIA support to the narcotics trade.

He also makes statements as to who, in his opinion, might be the likely perpetrator of  the September 11 attacks.

This is an important text which has not been brought to the attention of Western public opinion.

We have highlighted key sections of this interview.

It is our hope that the text of this interview, published on 28 September 2001 barely a week before the onset of the war on Afghanistan, will contribute to a better understanding of the history of Al Qaeda, the role of Osama bin Laden and the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

This interview is published for informational purposes only. GR does not in any way endorse the statements in this interview.

Michel  Chossudovsky, September 9, 2014


Full text of September 2001 Pakistani paper’s “exclusive” interview with Usamah Bin-Ladin

Ummat (in Urdu)

translated from Urdu

Karachi, 28 September 2001, pp. 1 and 7.

Ummat’s introduction

Kabul: Prominent Arab mojahed holy warrior Usamah Bin-Ladin has said that he or his al-Qa’idah group has nothing to do with the 11 September suicidal attacks in Washington and New York. He said the US government should find the attackers within the country. In an exclusive interview with daily “Ummat”, he said these attacks could be the act of those who are part of the American system and are rebelling against it and working for some other system. Or, Usamah said, this could be the act of those who want to make the current century a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity. Or, the American Jews, who are opposed to President Bush ever since the Florida elections, might be the masterminds of this act. There is also a great possibility of the involvement of US intelligence agencies, which need billions of dollars worth of funds every year. He said there is a government within the government in the United States.

The secret agencies, he said, should be asked as to who are behind the attacks. Usamah said support for attack on Afghanistan was a matter of need for some Muslim countries and compulsion for others. However, he said, he was thankful to the courageous people of Pakistan who erected a bulwark before the wrong forces. He added that the Islamic world was attaching great expectations with Pakistan and, in time of need, “we will protect this bulwark by sacrificing of lives”.

Following is the interview in full detail:

Ummat: You have been accused of involvement in the attacks in New York and Washington. What do you want to say about this? If you are not involved, who might be?

Usamah [Osama bin Laden]: In the name of Allah, the most beneficent, the most merciful. Praise be to Allah, Who is the creator of the whole universe and Who made the earth as an abode for peace, for the whole mankind. Allah is the Sustainer, who sent Prophet Muhammad for our guidance. I am thankful to the Ummat Group of Publications, which gave me the opportunity to convey my viewpoint to the people, particularly the valiant and Momin true Muslim people of Pakistan who refused to believe in lie of the demon.

I have already said that I am not involved in the 11 September attacks in the United States. As a Muslim, I try my best to avoid telling a lie. I had no knowledge of these attacks, nor do I consider the killing of innocent women, children, and other humans as an appreciable act. Islam strictly forbids causing harm to innocent women, children, and other people.

Such a practice is forbidden ever in the course of a battle. It is the United States, which is perpetrating every maltreatment on women, children, and common people of other faiths, particularly the followers of Islam. All that is going on in Palestine for the last 11 months is sufficient to call the wrath of God upon the United States and Israel.

There is also a warning for those Muslim countries, which witnessed all these as a silent spectator. What had earlier been done to the innocent people of Iraq, Chechnya, and Bosnia?

Only one conclusion could be derived from the indifference of the United States and the West to these acts of terror and the patronage of the tyrants by these powers that America is an anti-Islamic power and it is patronizing the anti-Islamic forces. Its friendship with the Muslim countries is just a show, rather deceit. By enticing or intimidating these countries, the United States is forcing them to play a role of its choice. Put a glance all around and you will see that the slaves of the United States are either rulers or enemies of Muslims .

The US has no friends, nor does it want to keep any because the prerequisite of friendship is to come to the level of the friend or consider him at par with you. America does not want to see anyone equal to it. It expects slavery from others. Therefore, other countries are either its slaves or subordinates.

However, our case is different. We have pledged slavery to God Almighty alone and after this pledge there is no possibility to become the slave of someone else. If we do that, it will be disregardful to both our Sustainer and his fellow beings. Most of the world nations upholding their freedom are the religious ones, which are the enemies of United States, or the latter itself considers them as its enemies. Or the countries, which do not agree to become its slaves, such as China, Iran, Libya, Cuba, Syria, and the former Russia as received .

Whoever committed the act of 11 September are not the friends of the American people. I have already said that we are against the American system, not against its people, whereas in these attacks, the common American people have been killed.

According to my information, the death toll is much higher than what the US government has stated. But the Bush administration does not want the panic to spread. The United States should try to trace the perpetrators of these attacks within itself; the people who are a part of the US system, but are dissenting against it. Or those who are working for some other system; persons who want to make the present century as a century of conflict between Islam and Christianity so that their own civilization, nation, country, or ideology could survive. They can be any one, from Russia to Israel and from India to Serbia. In the US itself, there are dozens of well-organized and well-equipped groups, which are capable of causing a large-scale destruction. Then you cannot forget the American Jews, who are annoyed with President Bush ever since the elections in Florida and want to avenge him.

Then there are intelligence agencies in the US, which require billions of dollars worth of funds from the Congress and the government every year. This funding issue was not a big problem till the existence of the former Soviet Union but after that the budget of these agencies has been in danger.

They needed an enemy. So, they first started propaganda against Usamah and Taleban and then this incident happened. You see, the Bush administration approved a budget of 40bn dollars. Where will this huge amount go? It will be provided to the same agencies, which need huge funds and want to exert their importance.

Now they will spend the money for their expansion and for increasing their importance. I will give you an example. Drug smugglers from all over the world are in contact with the US secret agencies. These agencies do not want to eradicate narcotics cultivation and trafficking because their importance will be diminished. The people in the US Drug Enforcement Department are encouraging drug trade so that they could show performance and get millions of dollars worth of budget. General Noriega was made a drug baron by the CIA and, in need, he was made a scapegoat. In the same way, whether it is President Bush or any other US president, they cannot bring Israel to justice for its human rights abuses or to hold it accountable for such crimes. What is this? Is it not that there exists a government within the government in the United Sates? That secret government must be asked as to who made the attacks.

Ummat: A number of world countries have joined the call of the United States for launching an attack on Afghanistan. These also include a number of Muslim countries. Will Al-Qa’idah declare a jihad against these countries as well?

Usamah: I must say that my duty is just to awaken the Muslims; to tell them as to what is good for them and what is not. What does Islam says and what the enemies of Islam want?

Al-Qa’idah was set up to wage a jihad against infidelity, particularly to encounter the onslaught of the infidel countries against the Islamic states. Jihad is the sixth undeclared element of Islam. The first five being the basic holy words of Islam, prayers, fast, pilgrimage to Mecca, and giving alms Every anti-Islamic person is afraid of it. Al-Qa’idah wants to keep this element alive and active and make it part of the daily life of the Muslims. It wants to give it the status of worship. We are not against any Islamic country nor we consider a war against an Islamic country as jihad.

We are in favour of armed jihad only against those infidel countries, which are killing innocent Muslim men, women, and children just because they are Muslims. Supporting the US act is the need of some Muslim countries and the compulsion of others. However, they should think as to what will remain of their religious and moral position if they support the attack of the Christians and the Jews on a Muslim country like Afghanistan. The orders of Islamic shari’ah jurisprudence for such individuals, organizations, and countries are clear and all the scholars of the Muslim brotherhood are unanimous on them. We will do the same, which is being ordered by the Amir ol-Momenin the commander of the faithful Mola Omar and the Islamic scholars. The hearts of the people of Muslim countries are beating with the call of jihad. We are grateful to them.

Ummat: The losses caused in the attacks in New York and Washington have proved that giving an economic blow to the US is not too difficult. US experts admit that a few more such attacks can bring down the American economy. Why is al-Qa’idah not targeting their economic pillars?

Usamah: I have already said that we are not hostile to the United States. We are against the system, which makes other nations slaves of the United States, or forces them to mortgage their political and economic freedom. This system is totally in control of the American Jews, whose first priority is Israel, not the United States. It is simply that the American people are themselves the slaves of the Jews and are forced to live according to the principles and laws laid by them. So, the punishment should reach Israel. In fact, it is Israel, which is giving a blood bath to innocent Muslims and the US is not uttering a single word.

Ummat: Why is harm not caused to the enemies of Islam through other means, apart from the armed struggle? For instance, inciting the Muslims to boycott Western products, banks, shipping lines, and TV channels.

Usamah: The first thing is that Western products could only be boycotted when the Muslim fraternity is fully awakened and organized. Secondly, the Muslim companies should become self-sufficient in producing goods equal to the products of Western companies. Economic boycott of the West is not possible unless economic self-sufficiency is attained and substitute products are brought out. You see that wealth is scattered all across the Muslim world but not a single TV channel has been acquired which can preach Islamic injunctions according to modern requirements and attain an international influence. Muslim traders and philanthropists should make it a point that if the weapon of public opinion is to be used, it is to be kept in the hand. Today’s world is of public opinion and the fates of nations are determined through its pressure. Once the tools for building public opinion are obtained, everything that you asked for can be done.

Ummat: The entire propaganda about your struggle has so far been made by the Western media. But no information is being received from your sources about the network of Al-Qa’idah and its jihadi successes. Would you comment?

Usamah: In fact, the Western media is left with nothing else. It has no other theme to survive for a long time. Then we have many other things to do. The struggle for jihad and the successes are for the sake of Allah and not to annoy His bondsmen. Our silence is our real propaganda. Rejections, explanations, or corrigendum only waste your time and through them, the enemy wants you to engage in things which are not of use to you. These things are pulling you away from your cause.

The Western media is unleashing such a baseless propaganda, which make us surprise but it reflects on what is in their hearts and gradually they themselves become captive of this propaganda. They become afraid of it and begin to cause harm to themselves. Terror is the most dreaded weapon in modern age and the Western media is mercilessly using it against its own people. It can add fear and helplessness in the psyche of the people of Europe and the United States. It means that what the enemies of the United States cannot do, its media is doing that. You can understand as to what will be the performance of the nation in a war, which suffers from fear and helplessness.

Ummat: What will the impact of the freeze of al-Qa’idah accounts by the US?

Usamah: God opens up ways for those who work for Him. Freezing of accounts will not make any difference for Al-Qa’idah or other jihad groups. With the grace of Allah, al-Qa’idah has more than three such alternative financial systems, which are all separate and totally independent from each other. This system is operating under the patronage of those who love jihad. What to say of the United States, even the combined world cannot budge these people from their path.

These people are not in hundreds but in thousands and millions. Al-Qa’idah comprises of such modern educated youths who are aware of the cracks inside the Western financial system as they are aware of the lines in their hands. These are the very flaws of the Western fiscal system, which are becoming a noose for it and this system could not recuperate in spite of the passage of so many days.

Ummat: Are there other safe areas other than Afghanistan, where you can continue jihad?

Usamah: There are areas in all parts of the world where strong jihadi forces are present, from Indonesia to Algeria, from Kabul to Chechnya, from Bosnia to Sudan, and from Burma to Kashmir. Then it is not the problem of my person. I am helpless fellowman of God, constantly in the fear of my accountability before God. It is not the question of Usamah but of Islam and, in Islam too, of jihad. Thanks to God, those waging a jihad can walk today with their heads raised. Jihad was still present when there was no Usamah and it will remain as such even when Usamah is no longer there. Allah opens up ways and creates loves in the hearts of people for those who walk on the path of Allah with their lives, property, and children. Believe it, through jihad, a man gets everything he desires. And the biggest desire of a Muslim is the after life. Martyrdom is the shortest way of attaining an eternal life.

Ummat: What do you say about the Pakistan government policy on Afghanistan attack?

Usamah: We are thankful to the Momin and valiant people of Pakistan who erected a blockade in front of the wrong forces and stood in the first file of battle. Pakistan is a great hope for the Islamic brotherhood. Its people are awakened, organized, and rich in the spirit of faith. They backed Afghanistan in its war against the Soviet Union and extended every help to the mojahedin and the Afghan people. Then these are the same Pakistanis who are standing shoulder by shoulder with the Taleban. If such people emerge in just two countries, the domination of the West will diminish in a matter of days. Our hearts beat with Pakistan and, God forbid, if a difficult time comes we will protect it with our blood. Pakistan is sacred for us like a place of worship. We are the people of jihad and fighting for the defence of Pakistan is the best of all jihads to us. It does not matter for us as to who rules Pakistan. The important thing is that the spirit of jihad is alive and stronger in the hearts of the Pakistani people.

Copyright Ummat in Urdu, BBC translation in English, 2001

Read about Osama Bin Laden in Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller

According to Chossudovsky, the  “war on terrorism” is a complete fabrication based on the illusion that one man, Osama bin Laden, outwitted the $40 billion-a-year American intelligence apparatus. The “war on terrorism” is a war of conquest. Globalisation is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

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Today’s Most Popular Stories

October 15th, 2013 by Global Research News

A deluge of articles have been quickly put into circulation defending France’s military intervention in the African nation of Mali. TIME’s article, “The Crisis in Mali: Will French Intervention Stop the Islamist Advance?” decides that old tricks are the best tricks, and elects the tiresome “War on Terror” narrative.TIME claims the intervention seeks to stop “Islamist” terrorists from overrunning both Africa and all of Europe. Specifically, the article states:

“…there is a (probably well-founded) fear in France that a radical Islamist Mali threatens France most of all, since most of the Islamists are French speakers and many have relatives in France. (Intelligence sources in Paris have told TIME that they’ve identified aspiring jihadis leaving France for northern Mali to train and fight.) Al-Qaeda in Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), one of the three groups that make up the Malian Islamist alliance and which provides much of the leadership, has also designated France — the representative of Western power in the region — as a prime target for attack.”

What TIME elects not to tell readers is that Al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM) is closely allied to the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG whom France intervened on behalf of during NATO’s 2011 proxy-invasion of Libya – providing weapons, training, special forces and even aircraft to support them in the overthrow of Libya’s government.

As far back as August of 2011, Bruce Riedel out of the corporate-financier funded think-tank, the Brookings Institution, wrote “Algeria will be next to fall,” where he gleefully predicted success in Libya would embolden radical elements in Algeria, in particular AQIM. Between extremist violence and the prospect of French airstrikes, Riedel hoped to see the fall of the Algerian government. Ironically Riedel noted:

Algeria has expressed particular concern that the unrest in Libya could lead to the development of a major safe haven and sanctuary for al-Qaeda and other extremist jihadis.

And thanks to NATO, that is exactly what Libya has become – a Western sponsored sanctuary for Al-Qaeda. AQIM’s headway in northern Mali and now French involvement will see the conflict inevitably spill over into Algeria. It should be noted that Riedel is a co-author of “Which Path to Persia?” which openly conspires to arm yet another US State Department-listed terrorist organization (list as #28), the Mujahedin-e Khalq (MEK) to wreak havoc across Iran and help collapse the government there – illustrating a pattern of using clearly terroristic organizations, even those listed as so by the US State Department, to carry out US foreign policy.Geopolitical analyst Pepe Escobar noted a more direct connection between LIFG and AQIM in an Asia Times piece titled, “How al-Qaeda got to rule in Tripoli:”

“Crucially, still in 2007, then al-Qaeda’s number two, Zawahiri, officially announced the merger between the LIFG and al-Qaeda in the Islamic Mahgreb (AQIM). So, for all practical purposes, since then, LIFG/AQIM have been one and the same – and Belhaj was/is its emir. “

“Belhaj,” referring to Hakim Abdul Belhaj, leader of LIFG in Libya, led with NATO support, arms, funding, and diplomatic recognition, the overthrowing of Muammar Qaddafi and has now plunged the nation into unending racist and tribal, genocidal infighting. This intervention has also seen the rebellion’s epicenter of Benghazi peeling off from Tripoli as a semi-autonomous “Terror-Emirate.” Belhaj’s latest campaign has shifted to Syria where he was admittedly on the Turkish-Syrian border pledging weapons, money, and fighters to the so-called “Free Syrian Army,” again, under the auspices of NATO support.

Image: NATO’s intervention in Libya has resurrected listed-terrorist organization and Al Qaeda affiliate, LIFG. It had previously fought in Iraq and Afghanistan, and now has fighters, cash and weapons, all courtesy of NATO, spreading as far west as Mali, and as far east as Syria. The feared “global Caliphate” Neo-Cons have been scaring Western children with for a decade is now taking shape via US-Saudi, Israeli, and Qatari machinations, not “Islam.” In fact, real Muslims have paid the highest price in fighting this real “war against Western-funded terrorism.”

….

LIFG, which with French arms, cash, and diplomatic support, is now invading northern Syria on behalf of NATO’s attempted regime change there, officially merged with Al Qaeda in 2007 according to the US Army’s West Point Combating Terrorism Center (CTC). According to the CTC, AQIM and LIFG share not only ideological goals, but strategic and even tactical objectives. The weapons LIFG received most certainly made their way into the hands of AQIM on their way through the porous borders of the Sahara Desert and into northern Mali.

In fact, ABC News reported in their article, “Al Qaeda Terror Group: We ‘Benefit From’ Libyan Weapons,” that:

A leading member of an al Qaeda-affiliated terror group indicated the organization may have acquired some of the thousands of powerful weapons that went missing in the chaos of the Libyan uprising, stoking long-held fears of Western officials.”We have been one of the main beneficiaries of the revolutions in the Arab world,” Mokhtar Belmokhtar, a leader of the north Africa-based al Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb [AQIM], told the Mauritanian news agency ANI Wednesday. “As for our benefiting from the [Libyan] weapons, this is a natural thing in these kinds of circumstances.”

It is no coincidence that as the Libyan conflict was drawing to a conclusion, conflict erupted in northern Mali. It is part of a premeditated geopolitical reordering that began with toppling Libya, and since then, using it as a springboard for invading other targeted nations, including Mali, Algeria, and Syria with heavily armed, NATO-funded and aided terrorists.

French involvement may drive AQIM and its affiliates out of northern Mali, but they are almost sure to end up in Algeria, most likely by design.

Algeria was able to balk subversion during the early phases of the US-engineered “Arab Spring” in 2011, but it surely has not escaped the attention of the West who is in the midst of transforming a region stretching from Africa to Beijing and Moscow’s doorsteps – and in a fit of geopolitical schizophrenia – using terrorists both as a casus belli to invade and as an inexhaustible mercenary force to do it.

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Salafism and the CIA: Destabilizing the Russian Federation?

September 14th, 2012 by F. William Engdahl

Part I: Syria comes to the Russian Caucasus

On August 28 Sheikh Said Afandi, acknowledged spiritual leader of the Autonomous Russian Republic of Dagestan, was assassinated. A jihadist female suicide bomber managed to enter his house and detonate an explosive device.

The murder target had been carefully selected. Sheikh Afandi, a seventy-five-year old Sufi Muslim leader, had played the critical role in attempting to bring about reconciliation in Dagestan between jihadist Salafi Sunni Muslims and other factions, many of whom in Dagestan see themselves as followers of Sufi. With no replacement of his moral stature and respect visible, authorities fear possible outbreak of religious war in the tiny Russian autonomous republic.[1]

The police reported that the assassin was an ethnic Russian woman who had converted to Islam and was linked to an Islamic fundamentalist or Salafist insurgency against Russia and regional governments loyal to Moscow in the autonomous republics and across the volatile Muslim-populated North Caucasus region.

Ethnic Muslim populations in this region of Russia and of the former Soviet Union, including Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan and into China’s Xinjiang Province, have been the target of various US and NATO intelligence operations since the Cold War era ended in 1990. Washington sees manipulation of Muslim groups as the vehicle to bring uncontrollable chaos to Russia and Central Asia. It’s being carried out by some of the same organizations engaged in creating chaos and destruction inside Syria against the government of Bashar Al-Assad. In a real sense, as Russian security services clearly understand, if they don’t succeed in stopping the Jihadists insurgency in Syria, it will come home to them via the Caucasus.

The latest Salafist murders of Sufi and other moderate Muslim leaders in the Caucasus are apparently part of what is becoming ever clearer as perhaps the most dangerous US intelligence operation ever—playing globally with Muslim fundamentalism.

Previously US and allied intelligence services had played fast and loose with religious organizations or beliefs in one or another country. What makes the present situation particularly dangerous—notably since the decision in Washington to unleash the misnamed Arab Spring upheavals that began in Tunisia late 2010, spreading like a brushfire across the entire Islamic world from Afghanistan across Central Asia to Morocco—is the incalculable wave upon wave of killing, hatreds, destruction of entire cultures that Washington has unleashed in the name of that elusive dream named “democracy.” They do this using alleged Al-Qaeda groups, Saudi Salafists or Wahhabites, or using disciples of Turkey’s Fethullah Gülen Movement to ignite fires of religious hatred within Islam and against other faiths that could take decades to extinguish. It could easily spill over into a new World War.

Fundamentalism comes to Caucasus

Following the dissolution of the USSR, radical Afghanistani Mujahadeen, Islamists from Saudi Arabia, from Turkey, Pakistan and other Islamic countries flooded into the Muslim regions of the former USSR. One of the best-organized of these was the Gülen Movement of Fethullah Gülen, leader of a global network of Islamic schools and reported to be the major policy influence on Turkey’s Erdogan AKP party.

Gülen was quick to establish The International Dagestani-Turkish College in Dagestan. During the chaotic days after the Soviet collapse, the Ministry of Justice of the Russian Federation officially registered and permitted unfettered activity for a variety of Islamic foundations and organizations. These included the League of the Islamic World, the World Muslim Youth Assembly, the reportedly Al-Qaeda friendly Saudi foundation ‘Ibrahim ben Abd al-Aziz al-Ibrahim.’ The blacklist also included Al-Haramein a Saudi foundation reported tied to Al-Qaeda, and IHH, [2] a Turkish organization banned in Germany, that allegedly raised funds for jihadi fighters in Bosnia, Chechnya, and Afghanistan, and was charged by French intelligence of ties to Al Qaeda.[3] Many of these charities were covers for fundamentalist Salafists with their own special agenda.

As many of the foreign Islamists in Chechnya and Dagestan were found involved in fomenting the regional unrest and civil war, Russian authorities withdrew permission of most to run schools and institutions. Throughout the North Caucasus at the time of the Chechyn war in the late 1990’s, there were more than two dozen Islamic institutes, some 200 madrassas and numerous maktabas (Koranic study schools) present at almost all mosques.

The International Dagestani-Turkish College was one that was forced to close its doors in Dagestan. The College was run by the Fethullah Gülen organization.[4]

At the point of the Russian crackdown on the spread of Salafist teaching inside Russia at the end of the 1990’s, there was an exodus of hundreds of young Dagestani and Chechyn Muslim students to Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Pakistan and other places in The Middle east, reportedly to receive training with the Gülen movement and various Saudi-financed organizations, including Salafists. [5] It is believed in Russia that the students trained by Gülen supporters or Saudi and other Salafist fundamentalist centers then were sent back to Dagestan and the North Caucasus to spread their radical strain of Islam.

By 2005 the situation in the Caucasus was so influenced by this Salafist intervention that the Chechen Salafist, Doku Umarov, cited by the UN Security Council for links to Al-Qaeda,[6] unilaterally declared creation of what he called the Caucasus Emirate, announcing he planned to establish an Islamic state under Sharia law encompassing the entire North Caucasus region including Dagestan. He modestly proclaimed himself Emir of the Caucasus Emirate. [7]

*  *  *

WWIII Scenario

*  *  *

 

Part II: Salafism at war with Sufi tradition

Salafism, known in Saudi Arabia as Wahhabism, is a fundamentalist strain of Islam which drew world attention and became notorious in March 2001 just weeks before the attacks of September 11. That was when the Salafist Taliban government in Afghanistan willfully dynamited and destroyed the historic gigantic Buddhas of Bamiyan on the ancient Silk Road, religious statues dating from the 6th Century. The Taliban Salafist leaders also banned as “un-islamic” all forms of imagery, music and sports, including television, in accordance with what they considered a strict interpretation of Sharia.

Afghani sources reported that the order to destroy the Buddhas was made by Saudi-born jihadist Wahhabite, Osama bin Laden, who ultimately convinced Mullah Omar, Taliban supreme leader at the time to execute the act.[8]

Before and…After Salafist Taliban …

While Sufis incorporate the worship of saints and theatrical ceremonial prayers into their practice, Salafis condemn as idolatry any non-traditional forms of worship. They also call for the establishment of Islamic political rule and strict Sharia law. Sufism is home to the great spiritual and musical heritage of Islam, said by Islamic scholars to be the inner, mystical, or psycho-spiritual dimension of Islam, going back centuries.

As one Sufi scholar described the core of Sufism, “While all Muslims believe that they are on the pathway to God and will become close to God in Paradise–after death and the ‘Final Judgment’– Sufis believe as well that it is possible to become close to God and to experience this closeness–while one is alive. Furthermore, the attainment of the knowledge that comes with such intimacy with God, Sufis assert, is the very purpose of the creation. Here they mention the hadith qudsi in which God states, ‘I was a hidden treasure and I loved that I be known, so I created the creation in order to be known.’ Hence for the Sufis there is already a momentum, a continuous attraction on their hearts exerted by God, pulling them, in love, towards God.” [9]

The mystical Islamic current of Sufism and its striving to become close to or one with God is in stark contrast to the Jihadist Salafi or Wahhabi current that is armed with deadly weapons, preaches a false doctrine of jihad, and a perverse sense of martyrdom, committing countless acts of violence. Little wonder that the victims of Salafist Jihads are mostly other pacific forms of Islam including most especially Sufis.

The respected seventy-five year old Afandi had publicly denounced Salafist Islamic fundamentalism. His murder followed a July 19 coordinated attack on two high-ranking muftis in the Russian Volga Republic of Tatarstan. Both victims were state-approved religious leaders who had attacked radical Islam. This latest round of murders opens a new front in the Salafist war against Russia, namely attacks on moderate Sufi Muslim leaders.

Whether or not Dagestan now descends into internal religious civil war that then spreads across the geopolitically sensitive Russian Caucasus is not yet certain. What is almost certain is that the same circles who have been feeding violence and terror inside Syria against the regime of Alawite President Bashar al-Assad are behind the killing of Sheikh Afandi as well as sparking related acts of terror or unrest across Russia’s Muslim-populated Caucasus. In a very real sense it represents Russia’s nightmare scenario of “Syria coming to Russia.” It demonstrates dramatically why Putin has made such a determined effort to stop a descent into a murderous hell in Syria.

Salafism and the CIA

The existence of the so-called jihadist Salafi brand of Islam in Dagestan is quite recent. It has also been deliberately imported. Salafism is sometimes also called the name of the older Saudi-centered Wahhabism. Wahhabism is a minority originally-Bedouin form of the faith originating within Islam, dominant in Saudi Arabia since the 1700’s.

Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz of the Centre for Islamic Pluralism give the following description of Saudi conditions under the rigid Wahhabi brand of Islam:

Women living under Saudi rule must wear the abaya, or total body cloak, and niqab, the face veil; they have limited opportunities for schooling and careers; they are prohibited from driving vehicles; are banned from social contact with men not relatives, and all personal activity must be supervised including opening bank accounts, by a male family member or “guardian.” These Wahhabi rules are enforced by a mutawiyin, or morals militia, also known as “the religious police,” officially designated the Commission for the Promotion of Virtue and Prevention of Vice (CPVPV) who patrol Saudi cities, armed with leather-covered sticks which they freely used against those they considered wayward. They raid homes looking for alcohol and drugs, and harassed non-Wahhabi Muslims as well as believers in other faiths.” [10]

It’s widely reported that the obscenely opulent and morally-perhaps-not-entirely-of- the-highest-standards Saudi Royal Family made a Faustian deal with Wahhabite leaders. The deal supposedly, was that the Wahhabists are free to export their fanatical brand of Islam around to the Islamic populations of the world in return for agreeing to leave the Saudi Royals alone.[11] There are, however, other dark and dirty spoons stirring the Wahhabite-Salafist Saudi stew.

Little known is the fact that the present form of aggressive Saudi Wahhabism, in reality a kind of fusion between imported jihadi Salafists from Egypt’s Muslim Brotherhood and the fundamentalist Saudi Wahhabites. Leading Salafist members of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood were introduced into the Saudi Kingdom in the 1950’s by the CIA in a complex series of events, when Nasser cracked down on the Muslim Brotherhood following an assassination attempt. By the 1960’s an influx of Egyptian members of the Muslim Brotherhood in Saudi Arabia fleeing Nasserite repression, had filled many of the leading teaching posts in Saudi religious schools. One student there was a young well-to-do Saudi, Osama bin Laden.  [12]

During the Third Reich, Hitler Germany had supported the Muslim Brotherhood as a weapon against the British in Egypt and elsewhere in the Middle East. Marc Erikson describes the Nazi roots of the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood thus:

…as Italian and German fascism sought greater stakes in the Middle East in the 1930s and ’40s to counter British and French controlling power, close collaboration between fascist agents and Islamist leaders ensued. During the 1936-39 Arab Revolt, Admiral Wilhelm Canaris, head of German military intelligence, sent agents and money to support the Palestine uprising against the British, as did Muslim Brotherhood founder and “supreme guide” Hassan al-Banna. A key individual in the fascist-Islamist nexus and go-between for the Nazis and al-Banna became the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Haj Amin el-Husseini.[13]

After the defeat of Germany, British Intelligence moved in to take over control of the Muslim Brotherhood. Ultimately, for financial and other reasons, the British decided to hand their assets within the Muslim Brotherhood over to their CIA colleagues in the 1950s. [14]

According to former US Justice Department Nazi researcher John Loftus,  “during the 1950s, the CIA evacuated the Nazis of the Muslim Brotherhood to Saudi Arabia. Now, when they arrived in Saudi Arabia, some of the leading lights of the Muslim Brotherhood, like Dr Abdullah Azzam, became the teachers in the madrassas, the religious schools. And there they combined the doctrines of Nazism with this weird Islamic cult, Wahhabism.” [15]

“Everyone thinks that Islam is this fanatical religion, but it is not,” Loftus continues. “They think that Islam–the Saudi version of Islam–is typical, but it’s not. The Wahhabi cult has been condemned as a heresy more than 60 times by the Muslim nations. But when the Saudis got wealthy, they bought a lot of silence. This is a very harsh cult. Wahhabism was only practised by the Taliban and in Saudi Arabia–that’s how extreme it is. It really has nothing to do with Islam. Islam is a very peaceful and tolerant religion. It always had good relationships with the Jews for the first thousand years of its existence.” [16]

Loftus identified the significance of what today is emerging from the shadows to take over Egypt under Muslim Brotherhood President Morsi, and the so-called Syrian National Council, dominated in reality by the Muslim Brotherhood and publicly led by the more “politically correct” or presentable likes of Bassma Kodmani. Kodmani, foreign affairs spokesman for the SNC was twice an invited guest at the Bilderberg elite gathering, latest in Chantilly, Virginia earlier this year.[17]

The most bizarre and alarming feature of the US-financed  regime changes set into motion in 2010, which have led to the destruction of the secular Arab regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt and Muhammar Qaddafi in Libya, and the secular regime of President Ben Ali in Tunisia, and which have wreaked savage destruction across the Middle East, especially in the past eighteen months in Syria, is the pattern of emerging power grabs by representatives of the murky Salafist Muslim Brotherhood.

By informed accounts, a Saudi-financed Sunni Islamic Muslim Brotherhood dominates the members of the exile Syrian National Council that is backed by the US State Department’s Secretary Clinton and by Hollande’s France. The Syrian Muslim Brotherhood is tied, not surprisingly to the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood of President Mohammed Morsi who recently in a meeting of the Non-Aligned in Iran called openly for the removal of Syria’s Assad, a logical step if his Muslim Brothers in the present Syrian National Council are to take the reins of power. The Saudis are also rumored to have financed the ascent to power in Tunisia of the governing Islamist Ennahda Party,[18] and are documented to be financing the Muslim Brotherhood-dominated Syrian National Council against President Bashar al-Assad. [19]

Part III: Morsi’s Reign of Salafi Terror

Indicative of the true agenda of this Muslim Brotherhood and related jihadists today is the fact that once they have power, they drop the veil of moderation and reconciliation and reveal their violently intolerant roots. This is visible in Egypt today under Muslim Brotherhood President Mohammed Morsi.

Unreported in mainstream Western media to date are alarming direct reports from Christian missionary organizations in Egypt that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood has already begun to drop the veil of “moderation and conciliation” and show its brutal totalitarian Salafist colors, much as Khomeini’s radical Sharia forces did in Iran after taking control in 1979-81.

In a letter distributed by the Christian Aid Mission (CAM), a Christian Egyptian missionary wrote that Morsi’s Muslim Brotherhood “announced they would destroy the country if Morsi didn’t win, but they also said they will take revenge from all those who voted for [his opponent Ahmed] Shafiq, especially the Christians as they are sure we did vote for Shafiq. Yesterday they began by killing two believers in el Sharqiya because of this,” the missionary added, speaking on condition of anonymity.[20]

This report came only weeks after Egyptian State TV (under Morsi’s control) showed ghastly video footage of a convert from Islam to Christianity being murdered by Muslims. The footage showed a young man being held down by masked men with a knife to his throat. As one man was heard chanting Muslim prayers in Arabic, mostly condemning Christianity, another man holding the knife to the Christian convert’s throat began to cut, slowly severing the head amid cries of “Allahu Akbar” (“Allah is great”), according to transcripts. In the letter, the Egyptian missionary leader added that, “soon after Morsi won, Christians in upper Egypt were forcibly prevented from going to churches.” Many Muslims, the letter claimed, “also began to speak to women in the streets that they had to wear Islamic clothing including the head covering. They act as if they got the country for their own, it’s theirs now.” [21]

Already in 2011 Morsi’s Salafist followers began attacking and destroying Sufi mosques across Egypt. According to the authoritative newspaper Al-Masry Al-Youm (Today’s Egyptian), 16 historic mosques in Alexandria belonging to Sufi orders have been marked for destruction by so-called ‘Salafis’. Alexandria has 40 mosques associated with Sufis, and is the headquarters for 36 Sufi groups. Half a million Sufis live in the city, out of a municipal total of four million people. Aggression against the Sufis in Egypt has included a raid on Alexandria’s most distinguished mosque, named for, and housing, the tomb of the 13th century Sufi Al-Mursi Abu’l Abbas.[22]

Notably, the so-called “democratically elected” regime in Libya following the toppling of Mohamar Qaddafi by NATO bombs in 2011, has also been zealous in destroying Sufi mosques and places of worhip. In August this year, UNESCO Director General Irina Bokova expressed “grave concern” at the destruction by Islamic Jihadists of Sufi sites in Zliten, Misrata and Tripoli and urged perpetrators to “cease the destruction immediately.” [23] Under behind-the-scenes machinations the Libyan government is dominated by Jihadists and by followers of the Muslim Brotherhood, as in Tunisia and Egypt. [24]

The explosive cocktail of violence inherent in allowing the rise to power of Salafist Islamists across the Middle East was clear to see, symbolically enough on the night of September 11,th when a mob of angry supporters of the fanatical Salafist group, Ansar Al-Sharia, murdered the US Ambassador to Libya and three US diplomats, burning the US Consulate in Bengazi to the ground in protest over a YouTube release of a film by an American filmmaker showing the Prophet Mohammed indulging in multiple sex affairs and casting doubt on his role as God’s messenger. Ironically that US Ambassador had played a key role in toppling Qaddafi and opening the door to the Salafist takeover in Libya. At the same time angry mobs of thousands of Salafists surrounded the US Embassy in Cairo in protest to the US film. [25]

Ansar Al-Sharia (“Partisans of Islamic law” in Arabic) reportedly is a spinoff of Al-Qaeda and claims organizations across the Middle East from Yemen to Tunisia to Iraq, Egypt and Libya. Ansar al-Sharia says it is reproducing the model of Sharia or strict Islamic law espoused by the Taliban in Afghanistan and the Islamic State of Iraq, a militant umbrella group that includes al-Qaeda in Iraq. The core of the group are jihadists who came out of an “Islamic state”, either in Afghanistan in the mid-1990s, or among jihadists in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003.[26]

The deliberate detonation now of a new round of Salafist fundamentalist Jihad terror inside Muslim regions of the Russian Caucasus is exquisitely timed politically to put maximum pressure at home on the government of Russia’s Vladimir Putin.

Putin and the Russian Government are the strongest and most essential backer of the current Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, and for Russia as well the maintenance of Russia’s only Mediterranean naval base at Syria’s Tartus port is vital strategically. At the same time, Obama’s sly message to Medvedev to wait until Obama’s re-election to evaluate US intent towards Russia and Putin’s cryptic recent comment that a compromise with a re-elected President Obama might be possible, but not with a President Romney, [27] indicate that the Washington “stick-and-carrot” or hard cop-soft cop tactics with Moscow might tempt Russia to sacrifice major geopolitical alliances, perhaps even that special close and recent geopolitical alliance with China.[28] Were that to happen, the World might witness a “reset” in US-Russian relations with catastrophic consequences for world peace.

F. William Engdahl*  is the author of Full Spectrum Dominance: Totalitarian Democracy in the New World Order

Notes:

[1] Dan Peleschuk, Sheikh Murdered Over Religious Split Say Analysts, RIA Novosti, August 30, 2012, accessed in

http://en.rian.ru/russia/20120830/175517955.html.

[2] Mairbek  Vatchagaev, The Kremlin’s War on Islamic Education in the North Caucasus, North Caucasus Analysis Volume: 7 Issue: 34, accessed in http://www.jamestown.org/single/?no_cache=1&tx_ttnews[tt_news]=3334

[3] Iason Athanasiadis, Targeted by Israeli raid: Who is the IHH?, The Christian Science Monitor, June 1, 2010, accessed in http://www.csmonitor.com/World/Middle-East/2010/0601/Targeted-by-Israeli-raid-Who-is-the-IHH.

[4] Ibid.

[5] Mairbek Vatchagaev, op. cit.

[6] UN Security Council, QI.U.290.11. DOKU KHAMATOVICH UMAROV, 10 March 2011, accessed in http://www.un.org/sc/committees/1267/NSQI29011E.shtml. The UN statement reads: “Doku Khamatovich Umarov was listed on 10 March 2011 pursuant to paragraph 2 of resolution 1904 (2009) as being associated with Al-Qaida, Usama bin Laden or the Taliban for “participating in the financing, planning, facilitating, preparing, or perpetrating of acts or activities by, in conjunction with, under the name of, on behalf of, or in support of”, “recruiting for”, “supplying, selling or transferring arms and related materiel to” and “otherwise supporting acts or activities of” the Islamic Jihad Group (QE.I.119.05), the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan (QE.I.10.01), Riyadus-Salikhin Reconnaissance and Sabotage Battalion of Chechen Martyrs (RSRSBCM) (QE.R.100.03) and Emarat Kavkaz (QE.E.131.11).”

[7] Tom Jones, Czech NGO rejects Russian reports of link to alleged Islamist terrorists al-Qaeda, May 10, 2011, accessed in http://www.ceskapozice.cz/en/news/society/czech-ngo-rejects-russian-reports-link-alleged-islamist-terrorists-al-qaeda?utm_source=tw&utm_medium=enprofil&utm_campaign=twennews.

[8] The Times of India, Laden ordered Bamyan Buddha destruction, The Times of India, March 28, 2006.

[9] Dr. Alan Godlas, Sufism — Sufis — Sufi Orders:

[10] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, Center for Islamic Pluralism, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia

[11] Irfan Al-Alawi and Stephen Schwartz, Wahhabi Internal Contradictions as Saudi Arabia Seeks Wider Gulf Leadership, May 21, 2012, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/2040/wahhabi-internal-contradictions-as-saudi-arabia.

[12] Robert Duncan, Islamic Terrorisms Links to Nazi Fascism, AINA, July 5, 2007, accessed in http://www.aina.org/news/2007070595517.htm.

[13] Marc Erikson, Islamism, fascism and terrorism (Part 2), AsiaTimes.Online, November 8, 2002, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/DK08Ak03.html.

[14] Ibid.

[15] John Loftus, The Muslim Brotherhood, Nazis and Al-Qaeda,  Jewish Community News, October 11, 2006, accessed in http://www.canadafreepress.com/2006/loftus101106.htm

[16] Ibid.

[17] Charlie Skelton, The Syrian opposition: who’s doing the talking?: The media have been too passive when it comes to Syrian opposition sources, without scrutinising their backgrounds and their political connections. Time for a closer look …, London Guardian, 12 July 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/jul/12/syrian-opposition-doing-the-talking.

[18] Aidan Lewis, Profile: Tunisia’s Ennahda Party, BBC News, 25 October 2011, accessed in http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-africa-15442859.

[19] Hassan Hassan, Syrians are torn between a despotic regime and a stagnant opposition: The Muslim Brotherhood’s perceived monopoly over the Syrian National Council has created an opposition stalemate, The Guardian, UK, 23 August, 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/aug/23/syrians-torn-despotic-regime-stagnant-opposition.

[20] Stefan J. Bos, Egypt Christians Killed After Election of Morsi, Bosnewslife, June 30, 2012, accessed in http://www.bosnewslife.com/22304-egypt-christians-killed-after-election-morsi.

[21] Ibid.

[22] Irfan Al-Alawi, Egyptian Muslim Fundamentalists Attack Sufis, Guardian Online [London],

April 11, 2011, accessed in http://www.islamicpluralism.org/1770/egyptian-Muslim-fundamentalists-attack-sufis

[23] Yafiah Katherine Randall, UNESCO urges Libya to stop destruction of Sufi sites, August 31, 2012, Sufi News and Sufism World Report, accessed in http://sufinews.blogspot.de/.

[24] Jamie Dettmer, Libya elections: Muslim Brotherhood set to lead government, 5 July, 2012, The Telegraph, London, accessed in http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/africaandindianocean/libya/9379022/Libya-elections-Muslim-Brotherhood-set-to-lead-government.html.

[25] Luke Harding, Chris Stephen, Chris Stevens, US ambassador to Libya, killed in Benghazi attack: Ambassador and three other American embassy staff killed after Islamist militants fired rockets at their car, say Libyan officials, London Guardian, 12 September 2012, accessed in http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2012/sep/12/chris-stevens-us-ambassador-libya-killed.

[26] Murad Batal al-Shishani, Profile: Ansar al-Sharia in Yemen, 8 March 2012, accessed in  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-middle-east-17402856.

[27] David M. Herszenhorn, Putin Says Missile Deal Is More Likely With Obama, The New York Times, September 6, 2012, accessed in http://www.nytimes.com/2012/09/07/world/europe/putin-calls-missile-deal-more-likely-if-obama-wins.html. According to an interview Putin gave on Moscow’s state-owned RT TV, Herszenhorn reports, “Mr. Putin said he believed that if Mr. Obama is re-elected in November, a compromise could be reached on the contentious issue of American plans for a missile defense system in Europe, which Russia has strongly opposed. On the other hand, Mr. Putin said, if Mr. Romney becomes president, Moscow’s fears about the missile system — that it is, despite American assurances, actually directed against Russia — would almost certainly prove true.

“Is it possible to find a solution to the problem, if current President Obama is re-elected for a second term? Theoretically, yes,” Mr. Putin said, according to the official transcript posted on the Kremlin’s Web site. “But this isn’t just about President Obama. “For all I know, his desire to work out a solution is quite sincere,” Mr. Putin continued. “I met him recently on the sidelines of the G-20 summit in Los Cabos, Mexico, where we had a chance to talk. And though we talked mostly about Syria, I could still take stock of my counterpart. My feeling is that he is a very honest man, and that he sincerely wants to make many good changes. But can he do it? Will they let him do it?”

[28] M.K. Bhadrakumar, Calling the China-Russia split isn’t heresy, Asia Times,  September 5, 2012, accessed in http://www.atimes.com/atimes/China/NI05Ad01.html.

 

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Welcome to the newly redesigned Global Research website!

September 8th, 2012 by Global Research

Dear Readers,

Welcome to the newly redesigned Global Research website!

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Is Trump Psychologically Deranged?

July 20th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Iran denies it, but if true it’s an act of premeditated aggression against a nonbelligerent country threatening no one — occurring 7,239 miles distant from the US.

More on his claim and Iran’s response below.

***

What do all his statements on major issues and actions say about his mental stability and fitness to lead?

Duty to Warn is “an association of mental health professionals and other concerned citizens who advocate Trump’s removal under the 25th Amendment on the grounds that he is psychologically unfit for office.”

According to Psychology Today, over 60,000 mental health professionals signed a Duty to Warn petition, stating the following:

“We, the undersigned mental health professionals, believe in our professional judgment that Donald Trump manifests a serious mental illness that renders him psychologically incapable of competently discharging the duties of President of the United States.”

“And we respectfully request he be removed from office, according to article 4 of the 25th amendment to the Constitution, which states that the president will be replaced if he is ‘unable to discharge the powers and duties of his office.’ ”

At the same time, according to the American Psychiatric Association’s so-called Goldwater Rule, it’s unethical for psychiatrists to judge a public figure psychologically whom they haven’t examined face-to-face.

Yet the mental health professionals who signed the Duty to Warn petition did it believing Trump represents a danger to society. Therefore, they had an obligation to override the Goldwater Rule.

Trump’s actions since taking office clearly are cause for great concern. He escalated Bush/Cheney-Obama wars while waging all-out war by other means on nonbelligerent Iran and Venezuela — wanting their economies crushed, their people immiserated, perhaps heading for direct or proxy hot war on one or both countries.

All politicians lie. It goes with the territory. When it comes to lies and deception, Trump resembles Star Trek — going where no US leader went before.

He fails the Pinocchio test time and again in public remarks. On issues mattering most, almost nothing he says is credible — most often saying one thing and doing something entirely different.

He’s so conditioned to dissembling he consistently co-mingles facts and fiction — perhaps no longer able to distinguish between them.

According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), on environmental issues alone, his “torrent of misleading statements and flat-out lies has an army of journalists working 24/7 to set the record straight.”

The same is true for virtually all policy issues on his plate. Almost nothing he says can be believed.

On Thursday, Trump said the USS Boxer warship downed an Iranian drone, falsely accusing Tehran of a “provocative and hostile” act, threatening the ship, adding:

“The United States reserves the right to defend our personnel, facilities and interests, and calls upon all nations to condemn Iran’s attempts to disrupt freedom of navigation and global commerce (sic).”

A Pentagon statement said:

“A fixed-wing unmanned aerial system approached Boxer and closed within a threatening range (sic).”

“The ship took defensive action against the UAS to ensure the safety of the ship and its crew.”

According to Iran’s Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi:

“We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else,” adding:

The “USS Boxer (may have) shot down (a Pentagon) UAS (Unmanned Aerial System) by mistake!”

On Friday, Iran’s Tasnim News Agency reported that all Iranian drones returned safely to their base, none downed in flight.

In New York for a UN Economic and Social Council ministerial meeting, Iran’s Foreign Minster Zarif said

“(w)e have no information about losing a drone…”

He re-tweeted a map posted in June on his page, showing how far distant the US is from Iran, captioning it: “Reminder.”

The US is consistently and repeatedly involved in hostile actions in parts of the world not its own, what its belligerent imperial agenda is all about.

Trump’s claim about downing an Iranian drone came hours after the IRGC navy seized a vessel in the Hormuz Strait it claimed was involved in oil smuggling, according to a statement.

Separately, Zarif said

“(t)he issue of regional security and the necessity of preventing US-warmongering measures and the economic war that the United States has begun against the Iranian people, as in fact the economic terrorism is contrary to Security Council Resolution 2231, and the United Nations’ responsibilities in this regard was discussed.”

He also said he “spoke with the representatives of the congress (at the UN), and I will do it again, but I do not tell with whom I will talk, and I leave it to them to announce.

GOP Senator Rand Paul may have been one he met informally. He opposes US military action against Iran. According to unnamed US officials, he proposed extending an olive branch to Zarif to reduce tensions between Washington and Tehran.

Politico reported that “Trump signed off on the idea.” DJT claimed otherwise, saying he didn’t ask Paul to serve as a US back channel emissary to Iran.

Zarif, President Rouhani, and other Iranian officials stressed that talks with the Trump regime depend on it returning to the JCPOA and lifting illegal sanctions on the country.

Nor will there be a new JCPOA deal. “We have” one, Zarif stressed, adopted unanimously by Security Council members, making it binding international law.

Whatever happens ahead,

“(w)e will survive. We will prosper long after (Trump) is gone,” said Zarif, adding: “7,000 years of proof” of Iran’s survivability. “Our time slots are in millennia.”

Showing unrelenting hostility toward the Islamic Republic, Trump’s Treasury Department sanctioned five Iranians and seven of the nation’s enterprises on Thursday — related to its legitimate nuclear activities.

Note: A report by Toronto-based Global News said “Trump name(ed) Rand Paul as new Iran point person over a round of golf” last weekend, citing unspecified reports.

If true, Trump falsely claimed otherwise. If Paul is involved in talks with Iran, it’s a step back from possible war.

While meeting with reporters in New York, Zarif said “I don’t meet with emissaries” — making it unclear if he’ll deal with Paul, acting as a Trump regime representative.

*

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Endangered Species Mural Project

July 20th, 2019 by Center For Biological Diversity

Just as nature inspires art, art inspires actions to defend wild places and the wild creatures that live in them. With this in mind, the Center for Biological Diversity’s Endangered Species Mural Project works with artists, scientists, and organizers to bring endangered wildlife onto the streets of cities and towns around the country. These murals are imagined as tools to help celebrate local endangered species within communities, and to encourage people to make connections between conservation and community strength. Spearheaded by Portland artist Roger Peet, the mural project promotes an affinity for the natural world and the diverse species that help define it.

Carolina northern flying squirrel mural by Roger Peet and Tricia Tripp

Mural of two Southwest species, the Sonoran pronghorn and the Yuma clapper rail, in Yuma, Ariz., by artist Roger Peet and Phoenix-based muralist Lucinda Hinojos, with help from students at Arizona Western College.

Marbled murrelet, Endangered Species Mural Project

This 256-foot-long mural in Arcata, Calif., by Lucas Thornton, celebrates the endangered marbled murrelet, an ancient seabird from the Pacific Northwest that flies inland 50 miles to nest among deep moss in old-growth forest canopy. .

Austin blind salamander, Endangered Species Mural Project

Mural of the Austin blind salamander, a small amphibian whose habitat is found entirely within the Austin city limits and is threatened by pollution and development. The mural was painted by project coordinator Roger Peet with help from students at Austin Discovery School in Austin, Tex.

borderlands species, Endangered Species Mural Project

This mural showcases the ocelot, Aplomado falcon, Mexican gray wolf, Chiricahua leopard frog and Sneed’s pincushion cactus — five endangered species that share habitat along the U.S.-Mexico border.

Taylor's checkerspot butterfly, Endangered Species Mural Project

The Taylor’s checkerspot is an endangered butterfly once found widely in prairies in Oregon and Washington, but now restricted to a few dwindling populations and at an extreme risk of going extinct. This mural in Cottage Grove, Ore., was done by Roger Peet.

Grizzly bear murals

One of a series of grizzly bear murals in Oakland, Calif., by Roger Peet and Fernando “Rush” Santos.

Carolina northern flying squirrel mural by Roger Peet and Tricia Tripp

Carolina northern flying squirrel mural in Asheville, N.C., by Roger Peet and Tricia Tripp.

Streaked horned lark mural

Streaked horned lark mural in Portland, Ore., by Roger Peet. Photo by Olivia Conner.

Sockeye salmon mural

Sockeye salmon mural in Portland, Ore., by Roger Peet. Photo by Jerry McCarthy, Port of Portland.

Dakota skipper mural

Dakota skipper mural at Oceti Sakowin camp at Standing Rock., N.D., by Roger Peet.

White fringeless orchid mural

White fringeless orchid mural in Berea, Ky., by Roger Peet and Trish Tripp.

Southeast freshwater mussels mural

Southeast freshwater mussels mural in Knoxville, Tenn., by Roger Peet, Merrilee Challiss and Trish Tripp.

Jaguar mural

Jaguar mural in Tucson, Ariz., by Kati Astraeir.

Yellow-billed cuckoo mural

Yellow-billed cuckoo mural in Los Angeles, Calif., led by Jess X. Chen.

Whale mural

Whale mural by Icy & Sot (working in coordination with Roger Peet) in Los Angeles, California. Photo   Jess X. Chen.

Watercress darter mural

Watercress darter mural in Birmingham, Ala., by Roger Peet and Birmingham artists Merrilee Challiss and Creighton Tynes. Photo by Kyle Crider.

Monarch butterfly mural

Monarch butterfly mural in Minneapolis, Minn., by Roger Peet and Barry Newman.

Montana arctic grayling mural

Arctic grayling mural by Roger Peet in Butte, Mont.

Mountain caribou mural

Mountain caribou mural in Sandpoint, Idaho. Mural artists Mazatl and Joy Mallari (from the Justseeds Artists Cooperative) worked with Roger Peet.

Message From the Artist

“Everywhere on Earth is unique, with qualities that distinguish it from other places both near and far. One of those qualities is biodiversity — the plants and animals that call a place home and may not be found anywhere else. Those species embody an area’s natural history and contribute to what makes it irreplaceable — and they also have something to say about the future, as many are in danger of going extinct. When we lose species, the places we inhabit and the lives we live become poorer and shallower  as a result. To help bring these species into the light, we decided to paint them on the walls.

“The goal of this project is to foster connections between people and the other forms of life that surround them. Whether that’s a fish in a river, a butterfly flitting from plant to plant, or a caribou chewing lichen from a tree, we’re bringing together artists and communities to create big, bold images that will become part of the neighborhoods where they’re created, making it a little easier for people to care about the species struggling to survive in their midst.”

Roger Peet is a Portland-based artist who is coordinating this project in association with the Center for Biological Diversity.

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Global Research Editor’s Note 

The Pentagon ban on the sale of F-35 stealth fighter jets to Turkey, which is presented as a penalty for not conforming to US demands, is ultimately a slap in the face for Lockheed Martin which produces the F-35.  

President Recep Tayyip Erdogan confirmed last month that Turkey was expecting the delivery of 100 US F-35 stealth fighter jets.  Each of these planes costs more than $100 million.

The delivery has now been cancelled. The penalty imposed on Ankara is incurred by America’s weapons industry: a $10 billion lost sale. 
.

(M. Ch. Global Research Editor)

***

In response to delivery of Russian S-400 equipment to Turkey days earlier, a White House press release said the following:

“…Turkey’s decision to purchase Russian S-400 air defense systems renders its continued involvement with the F-35 impossible” — despite Ankara’s partnership in the program.

Its defense contractors produce around 900 F-35 parts. Turkey earlier made a downpayment for planes it contracted to buy. The Pentagon has been training its pilots to fly them.

Turkey’s Foreign Ministry said expelling its military from the F-35 program “is incompatible with the spirit of alliance and does not rely on any legitimate justification,” adding:

The unacceptable move may greatly damage bilateral relations. Without elaboration, a Pentagon statement said Turkey’s purchase won’t harm NATO.

US war department deputy undersecretary for policy David Trachtenberg said upcoming NATO exercises in Georgia will include Turkish forces as planned. It’s unclear if F-35s will be involved.

Ankara is officially “suspended” from the program, reinstatement to come if it abandons S-400s, what’s highly unlikely.

Turkish pilots and other personnel involved in the F-35 program will leave the US at end of July, according to former Textron Systems CEO Ellen Lord, serving as Pentagon acquisition chief.

Moving the program’s supply chain to other suppliers will cost up to $600 million, according to Lord, perhaps double or triple this amount, given enormous Pentagon waste, fraud and abuse, massive cost overruns standard practice, accountability never forthcoming.

The White House statement expressed Trump regime sour grapes over Turkey’s refusal to bend to its will on this issue — what the US demands from all other countries, clearly from NATO members.

Some congressional members demand imposition of sanctions on Turkey — for exercising its sovereign right.

Last Sunday, Pompeo said the (hostile to Russia, Iran, and North Korea) Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act (CAATSA) “requires that there be sanctions (on Turkey), and I’m confident that we will comply with the law and President Trump will comply with the law.”

If stiff sanctions are imposed, US/Turkish relations will deteriorate further. They’re already greatly strained over other issues, including US support for Kurdish YPG fighters in northern Syria, Ankara falsely calls terrorists.

Turkey is the first ever NATO member to buy sophisticated Russian weaponry – infuriating Washington for defying its will, along with losing major multi-billion orders for Raytheon and Lockheed Martin, producers of Patriot missiles and F-35s respectively.

Russia’s sophisticated S-400 air defense system reportedly can track and down the West’s most advanced warplanes, including US stealth F-35s.

Is that reason enough to ban Turkey from purchasing the planes? It chose Russia’s state-of-the-art S-400s over less capable US Patriot and Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) missiles.

S-400s operated by Russia, not Turkey, threaten US air superiority though are only intended for defensive purposes.

The Russian Federation never attacked another country preemptively. It threatens none now.

Its summer 2008 intervention in South Ossetia countered US-orchestrated Georgian aggression against Russian nationals, its forces deployed to protect them.

On July 12, acting Trump regime war secretary Mark Esper told his Turkish counterpart that Ankara “can either have the S-400 or the F-35. You cannot have both,” adding:

“Acquisition of the S-400 fundamentally undermines the capabilities of the F-35 and our ability to maintain that overmatch in the skies going forward.”

S-400s operated by Turkey do nothing of the kind — unless the US attacks the country militarily, a NATO member, clearly ruling out the likelihood.

Expelling Turkey from the F-35 program perhaps will get President Erdogan to buy Russian Su-35s, a likely superior choice given the problem-plagued US warplane, more advanced on the drawing board than in operation.

On Thursday, a Turkish military source said “(i)t is still premature to talk about (the country) purchas(ing) Russian Su-35 fighters. Our president will assess this important topic. He will also make a statement.”

CEO of Su-35 producer Rostec Sergey Chemezov said the company is ready to supply Turkey with these aircraft if its leadership wishes to buy them

According to Aviation Today, the F-35 program was almost cancelled in 2011 because of “the bloated, over-budget and” failure to stay on schedule.

Cost of the program is estimated at around $1.5 trillion over its multi-decade lifetime. Given dubious Pentagon accounting, it could be hundreds of billions of dollars more, maybe double the above estimate.

According to documents obtained by Defense News, the aircraft is still plagued by unresolved problems, some major, putting pilots at risk, and compromising its effectiveness.

By the Pentagon’s own admission, the program is “troubled” by production problems, excessive cost, delivery delays, and unresolved technical challenges.

Recently stepped down acting US war secretary Patrick Shanahan expressed frustration about the program, calling it “f…ed up.”

It may turn out to be the greatest weapons boondoggle in world history by far, perhaps never fully fulfilling its promise — while Russian super-weapons maintain superiority over the West’s best at far less cost.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from American Herald Tribune

The US boasted of downing an Iranian drone over the Strait of Hormuz, admittedly in international waters, just miles off Iran’s coast, and thousands of miles from Washington.

It claims the drone was “threatening” a US amphibious assault ship, the USS Boxer.

The Washington Post in its article, “Trump says the U.S. Navy downed an Iranian drone in the Strait of Hormuz,” would claim:

A U.S. naval ship downed an Iranian drone that flew too close and ignored multiple calls to turn away, President Trump said Thursday, as tensions between the United States and Iran appeared to be rising once again in the Persian Gulf region. 

Speaking at the White House, Trump said the drone came within 1,000 yards of the USS Boxer in the Strait of Hormuz before the crew “took defensive action” and “immediately destroyed” it.

An AP article titled, “US warship downs Iranian drone in Hormuz Strait,” noted that (emphasis added):

The Pentagon said the incident happened at 10 am local time on Thursday in international waters while the Boxer was transiting the waterway to enter the Persian Gulf. The Boxer is one of several US naval ships in the area, including the USS Abraham Lincoln, an aircraft carrier that has been operating in the nearby North Arabian Sea for weeks.

The claims come nearly a month after Iran shot down a US drone – an RQ-4A Global Hawk – operating near Iranian shores, also in the Strait of Hormuz.

At the time, the US condemned Iran’s move claiming it had downed the drone over international waters. Now – the US openly claims it has shot down an Iranian drone over international waters. The overt hypocrisy is intentional. The US has been attempting to goad Tehran into an armed conflict for years with US policy papers openly admitting as much.

A 2009 Brookings Institution paper titled, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy toward Iran,” would openly admit (emphasis added):

…it would be far more preferable if the United States could cite an Iranian provocation as justification for the airstrikes before launching them. Clearly, the more outrageous, the more deadly, and the more unprovoked the Iranian action, the better off the United States would be. Of course, it would be very difficult for the United States to goad Iran into such a provocation without the rest of the world recognizing this game, which would then undermine it.  

Apparently, the US is no longer concerned about whether or not the world recognizes this game and is doing everything in its power to goad Iran into miscalculating and granting the US justification for a long-desired and much larger conflict with Tehran.

Did the Iranian Drone Really Threaten the USS Boxer? Was it Even an Iranian Drone? 

As with most deliberate provocations – the recent US claims of downing an Iranian drone came with minimum details and no evidence at all. Not even the type of drone was mentioned by the Washington Post or AP.

Claims that the drone came within 1,000 yards of the ship and was disabled through electronic jamming indicates it was most likely an off-the-shelf drone used for photography and in no way posed a threat to the USS Boxer.

Iranian media – for its part – claims the US most likely shot down their own drone, and denies Iran was operating any of its own drones in the area at the time. Iran’s PressTV in an article titled, “US may have shot down own drone in Persian Gulf, Iran says of Trump’s claim,” would claim:

Iran has rejected US President Donald Trump’s claim that a US warship had shot down an Iranian Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) in the Strait of Hormuz. 

“We have not lost any drone in the Strait of Hormuz nor anywhere else,” Iranian Deputy Foreign Minister Seyyed Abbas Araqchi said in a tweet on Friday. 

“I am worried that USS Boxer has shot down their own UAS by mistake!”

What is certain is that even if it were an Iranian drone, it couldn’t have posed more of a threat to the USS Boxer than America’s military presence in the Middle East poses to its inhabitants – a region where the US has repeatedly bombed, invaded, currently occupies or is waging war by proxy against multiple nations including Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and indeed – Iran itself.

Beyond the Middle East the US has left Libya desolate and is currently occupying the Central Asian nation of Afghanistan – a military campaign that has lasted now nearly 2 decades and is unfolding along Iran’s eastern border while the US continues to maintain a military presence in Iraq on Iran’s western border.

The US currently maintains crippling sanctions against Iran, admittedly sponsors terrorist groups operating within Iran, and has repeatedly threatened to overthrow the Iranian government through open military intervention, US-sponsored “color revolutions,” as well as economic and covert military means.

The UK – equally committed to Washington’s desire to overthrow the Iranian government – has even recently hijacked an Iranian tanker in the Strait of Gibraltar.

Under ordinary circumstances, a military drone approaching a ship of any kind from any nation in international waters – allegedly as close as 1,000 yards – would be considered a provocation. But Iranian drones – if this was indeed the case – approaching a US warship plying the waters of a region utterly ravaged by US military aggression can at best be considered scrutiny the US has earned itself through its own destructive foreign policy – a foreign policy that fully intends to visit the same destruction brought upon nations like Yemen, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and Afghanistan – upon Iran as well.

Iran surely has the right to defend itself – to track US warships as they pass just miles from its own shores – whether in “international waters” or not. And if Iran is not allowed to fire on US drones over these same “international waters,” what gave the US the right to do so?

There is a much easier solution for the US if its goal really is to ensure the safety of its vessels travelling the globe – stop provoking conflict, thus eliminating the chances of its vessels becoming targets during such conflict.

Of course, the US will not do this. It will continue pursuing hegemonic foreign policy until it is economically and militarily no longer able to do so. For Iran – the trick will be avoiding provocations designed to trigger a war the US still believes it can win until global dynamics change enough to ensure whatever war the US triggers it will have no chance of winning.

Tony Cartalucci, Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published.

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Voices from Syria by Mark Taliano and The Dirty War on Syria by Tim Anderson: Purchase these two essential books on Syria for one low price.

*SPECIAL OFFER: Voices from Syria + The Dirty War on Syria

Author Name: Mark Taliano / Tim Anderson
ISBN Number: 978-0-9879389-1-6 / 978-0-9737147-8-4
Year: 2017 / 2016
Pages: 128 / 240

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Voices from Syria, by Mark Taliano

Mark Taliano talks and listens to the people of Syria. He reveals the courage and resilience of a Nation and its people in their day to day lives, after more that six years of US-NATO sponsored terrorism.

“Syria is an ancient land with a proud and forward-looking people, to which we sent mercenaries, hatred, bloodshed and destruction.

Syrians welcomed me to their country as one of their own. These are their stories; these are their voices.”

Reviews:

Mark Taliano exposes the barbarity of Washington’s latest regime change aspirations. The West’s political spin is laid bare in the words of the Syrian people.

Felicity Arbuthnot, Veteran Middle East War Correspondent.

Canadian Mark Taliano has brought together an excellent mix of anecdotes and analysis to create a very accessible short book on the terrible Syrian conflict. It should serve as a primer for all those who feel curious, dissatisfied or cheated by the near monolithic war chorus of the western corporate media.

Mark is one of those few westerners who took the trouble to travel to Syria during this war, to talk to Syrians of all ranks and see for himself the human reality of this country which, in 2011, became the latest target of the Washington-led coalition.He deftly mixes stories from soldiers, doctors, politicians, clerics and ordinary citizens with his prior reading. That reading includes the invaluable insights of a new generation of investigative journalists, in particular Eva Bartlett and Vanessa Beeley. Start with Mark’s first chapter ‘In Their Own Voices’ and you won’t put it down. He humanises the Syrian people, their culture and their nation in a way that is normally not permitted at wartime.

Tim Anderson, Distinguished Author and Senior Lecturer of Political Economy, University of Sydney, Australia

Mark Taliano speaks from Syria:

The Dirty War on Syria: Washington, Regime Change and Resistance, by Tim Anderson

The Dirty War on Syria has relied on a level of mass disinformation not seen in living memory. In seeking ‘regime change’ the big powers sought to hide their hand, using proxy armies of ‘Islamists’, demonising the Syrian Government and constantly accusing it of atrocities. In this way Syrian President Bashar al Assad, a mild-mannered eye doctor, became the new evil in the world.

As western peoples we have been particularly deceived by this dirty war, reverting to our worst traditions of intervention, racial prejudice and poor reflection on our own histories. This book tries to tell its story while rescuing some of the better western traditions: the use of reason, ethical principle and the search for independent evidence.

Reviews: 

Tim Anderson  has written the best systematic critique of western fabrications justifying the war against the Assad government. No other text brings together all the major accusations and their effective refutation. This text is essential reading for all peace and justice activists.

-James Petras, Bartle Emeritus Professor, University of Binghampton, New York.

Anderson’s excellent book is required reading for those wanting to know the true story of the imperialist proxy war waged on Syria by the U.S. and its Western and Middle Eastern puppet states. This account could also be titled “How to Destroy a Country and Lie About it”. Of course Syria is only one in a long line of countries destroyed by Washington in the Middle East and all over the Global South for more than a century.

Anderson’s analysis is particularly useful for dissecting the propaganda war waged by the U.S. to hide its active support for the vicious Islamic fundamentalists it is using in Syria. In spreading this propaganda the U.S. has been aided not only by the West’s mainstream press but also by its prominent so-called human rights organizations.

-Asad Ismi, International Affairs Correspondent for The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives Monitor.

Tim Anderson interviewed on GRTV:

*SPECIAL OFFER: Voices from Syria + The Dirty War on Syria

Author Name: Mark Taliano / Tim Anderson
ISBN Number: 978-0-9879389-1-6 / 978-0-9737147-8-4
Year: 2017 / 2016
Pages: 128 / 240

List Price: $41.90

Special Price: $19.95

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Farmers can keep spraying fruits and vegetables with a pesticide shown to harm a child’s brain even at low levels of exposure, the Trump administration’s Environmental Protection Agency said today.

With a court deadline looming, EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler announced his decision to allow chlorpyrifos to continue to be used on conventionally grown food crops, like peaches, cherries, apples, oranges and corn. The chemical is not allowed for use on organic produce.

In April, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled unanimously that the EPA must decide by mid-July whether to reverse the Trump administration’s overturn of a scheduled ban on chlorpyrifos. The ban had been strongly supported by EPA scientists.

“Siding with pesticide corporations over the health and well-being of kids is the new normal at the EPA,” said EWG President Ken Cook. “Today’s decision underscores the sad truth that as long as the Trump administration is in charge, this EPA will favor the interests of the chemical lobby over children’s safety.”

Evidence is overwhelming that even small doses of chlorpyrifos can damage parts of the brain that control language, memory, behavior and emotion. Multiple independent studies have documented the fact that exposure to chlorpyrifos impairs children’s IQs. EPA scientists’ assessments of those studies concluded that the levels of the pesticide currently found on food and in drinking water are unsafe.

The EPA’s calculations suggest that babies, children and pregnant women all consume much more chlorpyrifos than is safe. They estimate that typical exposures for babies are five times greater than the EPA’s proposed “safe” intake, and 11 to 15 times higher for toddlers and older children. A typical exposure for a pregnant woman is five times higher than it ought to be to protect her developing fetus.

The EPA was poised to ban the pesticide in 2017. But after the 2016 election Dow Chemical, which manufactures chlorpyrifos, set forth on an aggressive campaign to pressure the incoming Trump administration to block that decision. Dow donated $1 million to President Trump’s inauguration festivities and its CEO met privately with then-EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt. Soon after, Pruitt ignored his agency’s own scientists and aborted the scheduled ban.

Besides produce, there are other dietary routes that make exposure to chlorpyrifos particularly worrisome for parents. Recent tests commissioned by the Organic Center found the insecticide in nearly 60 percent of conventional milk samples tested.

“If the Trump administration had followed the advice of its scientists, chlorpyrifos likely would not be in the food and milk kids eat and drink today,” said Cook. “This is another example of what happens when the wrong people are put in vital positions with enormous importance to public health.”

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The heavily Russian-influenced government in the Central African Republic is recommending the closure of four Chinese-run gold mines over environmental concerns, making it possible that these firms could be replaced with Russian ones and potentially creating a model whereby Moscow can begin to “balance” Beijing in Africa as part of its efforts to negotiate a “New Detente” with the West.

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Sputnik reported that the heavily Russian-influenced government in the Central African Republic (CAR), the pivotal component of its recently completed “African Transversal” linking the Atlantic Coast with the Red Sea one, is recommending the closure of four Chinese-run gold mines over environmental concerns. Russia is the most important foreign actor in the country since its low-level “Democratic Security” intervention over the past year and a half saved the state in a similar, albeit much less dramatic and publicized, manner as its much larger one saved Syria almost four years ago. In fact, Moscow’s “Democratic Security” model has the potential to spread all over the continent because of how attractive it is to Africa’s many “national democracies” (also known as “autocracies” in the Western political parlance), most of which are dependent on the military-intelligence wing of their “deep states” for ensuring stability, so much so that “The US Is More Afraid Of Losing Africa To Russia Than To China” nowadays.

The success of Russia’s “Democratic Security” interventions is due to their low-cost in using a combination of military advisors, “mercenaries”, and arms sales to counter Hybrid War threats, all in exchange for what usually amounts to profitable extraction agreements in resource-rich states. The military inroads that Moscow makes enables it to gain access to the strategic core of the state, from where it expands its influence along the economic vector prior to reaching more comprehensive agreements with the said partner state. The upcoming Russia-Africa Summit in Sochi on 24 October will likely represent the official announcement of Russia’s “African Pivot”, during which time all of the work that it’s been undertaking behind the scenes over the past few years will become public and presented as part of the non-Western diversification strategy that it’s been pursing since the implementation of the West’s anti-Russian sanctions in 2014. Almost counterintuitively, Russia isn’t doing this to spite the West, but rather to make itself valuable enough to negotiate a “New Detente” with it.

To explain, the ongoing New Cold War can be simplified as the global competition between the fading US-led unipolar world order and the rising Chinese-led multipolar one, with Russia conceivably leading a “new non-aligned movement” (Neo-NAM) that fulfills its desire to become the supreme “balancing” force in Afro-Eurasia and thus enables it to decisively manage this worldwide rivalry. Russia’s “Pivot to Africa” via its “Democratic Security” interventions can be seen through this prism in that Moscow is ensuring the security of Beijing’s Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) projects against Western Hybrid War threats simultaneously with offering these same host states an alternative to what some have criticized as China’s environmentally destructive investments such as the four gold mines that have caused such a scandal in the CAR. In the zero-sum game that the West believes that it’s engaged in with China, the replacement of Chinese investments with Russian ones by the heavily Russian-influenced countries requesting Moscow’s “Democratic Security” interventions is a relative win.

Should the CAR continue to set the precedent for what to expect from Russia’s “Pivot to Africa” — and there’s no reasonable argument why it wouldn’t since it foreshadowed the “Democratic Security” interventions that it’s commenced in SudanMali, and reportedly even in Libya as well — then the emerging model is that newly Russian-aligned countries might replace the most environmentally controversial Chinese investments with Russian ones as part of Moscow’s efforts to prove its strategic worth to the West in the context of negotiating a “New Detente”. That’s not to imply whatsoever that Russia is “anti-Chinese”, but just that it is first and foremost advancing its own national interests as it understands them, which naturally involves maximizing the profits that its companies receive in the resource-rich “Global South” countries that the Russian military is carrying out “Democratic Security” interventions, which could in turn stabilize the Eurasian Great Power’s macroeconomic situation if it ultimately results in the gradual lifting of sanctions as part of a “New Detente”.

Of course, the real indicator of whether or not this model is being implemented will be if the heavily Russian-influenced CAR replaces the four Chinese gold extraction companies with Russian ones, in which case other states might eventually follow suit (even those that haven’t requested Moscow’s “Democratic Security” interventions) if they believe that the advantages of “hitching their wagon” to what might ultimately become a Russian-led Neo-NAM outweigh the costs of curtailing some BRI connections with China. Reverting to Western economic influence is out of the question for an increasingly growing number of sovereignty-minded African states, but many of them are dissatisfied with some of the conditions associated with Chinese projects, which is why Russia is appearing so attractive as a “third choice” for satisfying their military, economic, and strategic needs. If taken to its full extent, then the best-case scenario could see Russia “moderating” the US-Chinese rivalry in Africa and helping its many countries get a better deal by “balancing” between all three of them.

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Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

After months of experts raising alarm over the nuclear power industry pressuring U.S. regulators to roll back safety policies, staffers at the federal agency that monitors reactors sparked concerns Tuesday with official recommendations that include scaling back required inspections to save money.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has spent months reviewing its enforcement policies—and, as part of that process, sought input from industry groups, as Common Dreams detailed in March. In response, the industry representatives requested shifting to more “self-assessments,” limiting public disclosures for “lower-level” problems at plants, and easing the “burden of radiation-protection and emergency-preparedness inspections.”

According to The Associated Press, which first reported on NRC staffers’ suggestions:

The recommendations, made public Tuesday, include reducing the time and scope of some annual inspections at the nation’s 90-plus nuclear power plants. Some other inspections would be cut from every two years to every three years.

Some of the staff’s recommendations would require a vote by the commission, which has a majority of members appointed or reappointed by President Donald Trump, who has urged agencies to reduce regulatory requirements for industries.

The NRC document that outlines the recommendations reportedly acknowledges that staffers disagree about the inspection reductions but claims that cutting back “improves efficiency while still helping to ensure reasonable assurance of adequate protection to the public.”

Union of Concerned Scientists nuclear power expert Edwin Lyman, however, charged that the suggestion to decrease federal oversight of nuclear power plants “completely ignores the cause-and-effect relationship between inspections and good performances.”

Democratic NRC member Jeff Baran also criticized the staff recommendations. He argued that the agency “shouldn’t perform fewer inspections or weaken its safety oversight to save money” and called for a public debate before any changes are made to existing policy.

“It affects every power reactor in the country,” he said. “We should absolutely hear from a broad range of stakeholders before making any far-reaching changes to NRC’s safety oversight program.”

Before the recommendations were released Tuesday, Democrats from the House Appropriations as well as Energy and Commerce committees expressed concerns about potential rollbacks of safety standards in a letter (pdf) to NRC Chairwoman Kristine Svinicki Monday.

The lawmakers wrote:

To ensure nuclear power provides safe, reliable, emissions-free energy, it is imperative for the NRC to uphold strong regulatory standards. That is why we are disturbed by the consideration of these far-reaching changes to the NRC’s regulatory regime without first actively conducting robust public outreach and engagement. It would be a mistake to attempt to make nuclear power more cost competitive by weakening NRC’s vital safety oversight. Cutting corners on such critical safety measures may eventually lead to a disaster that could be detrimental to the future of the domestic nuclear industry.

The AP‘s report on agency staffers’ official recommendations provoked further alarm from lawmakers and the public. Some people on Twitter decried the inspection proposal as “an insanely bad move” and “beyond nuts,” and referenced the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, which is considered the world’s worst ever nuclear power plant accident.

Democratic Pennsylvania state Rep. Peter Schweyer tweeted that he would “happily” share his HBO password with the NRC “so they can catch up on” the network’s recently released series about Chernobyl.

U.S. Rep. Harley Rouda (D-Calif.) wrote in a tweet that considering how many millions of Americans live in close proximity to nuclear power plants, the agency “needs to do more—not less—to ensure nuclear reactor safety.”

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Israel’s Choice for U.S. President

July 19th, 2019 by Philip Giraldi

In late June, President Donald Trump flailed away with his own particular brand of nondiplomacy at the G20 Summit in Japan, but it is worthwhile noting on the plus side that his administration is so inept that it could not even plan and execute a proper coup in Venezuela. Nor has it been able to concoct sufficient lies about Iran effective enough to create a casus belli and unleash the B-52s. There is a certain comfort in knowing that the United States is now governed by the Three Stooges—“Larry” Trump, “Moe” Pompeo, and “Curly” Bolton—which means that starting new wars might just be beyond their cognitive ability to make mischief.

The real irony is that stupidity is both bipartisan and contagious in the federal government. The Democrats have not quite figured out that instead of playing identity politics, talking about reparations, gay rights, “undocumented migrants,” and free college, they should instead be discussing more important issues, notably the impending nuclear holocaust being stumbled into by the Trumpsters, which just might bring to an end life on this planet as we know it.

A college friend recently asked me what my nightmare scenario for a totally dysfunctional foreign and national security policy might be. I responded without thinking that it really is all about war and peace, that the worst case would be the impeachment of a bumbling Trump and his replacement by a much more capable and vicious Vice President Mike Pence, who actually wants to end the world so he can be raptured up to heaven.

But my answer was wrong. Trump is unlikely to be impeached by a Senate in which the GOP holds a majority, so Pence’s ascent to the throne is not currently plausible unless the president suffers a cardiac arrest after ingesting too many cheeseburgers. The real danger is what comes after Trump, in 2024. The preferred candidate by Israel and its lobby, and therefore the prohibitive favorite, is Trump’s former United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley. If you think Trump is blindly and blatantly pro-Israel at the expense of American interests, just wait until you see Haley’s naked self-interest at work.

Haley resigned from her position at the UN last October. Like many others in the foreign policy establishment, she was all for Israel because she understood that leaning that way provided instant access to money and plenty of positive press coverage. Completely ignorant of possible consequences, she declared that Washington was “locked and loaded,” prepared to exercise lethal military options against Syria and its Russian and Iranian allies, seen as enemies by Israel. Immediately upon taking office at the United Nations she complained that “nowhere has the UN’s failure been more consistent and more outrageous than in its bias against our close ally Israel” and vowed that the “days of Israel bashing are over.” Not surprisingly, she was greeted by rounds of applause and cheering when she spoke at the annual meeting of the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) last March, saying, “When I come to AIPAC I am with friends.”

Haley’s embrace of Israeli points of view was unrelenting, including blocking any investigation of the Israeli army’s slaughter of unarmed Palestinian demonstrators in Gaza. She also led the effort to cut funds going to the agency providing critical food and medical assistance to millions of Palestinian refugees. In February 2017, she blocked the appointment of former Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad to a diplomatic position at the United Nations because he was a Palestinian. In a congressional hearing she was asked about the decision:

“Is it this administration’s position that support for Israel and support for the appointment of a well-qualified individual of Palestinian nationality to an appointment at the UN are mutually exclusive?”

Haley responded yes, that the administration is “supporting Israel” by blocking every Palestinian.

Not surprisingly, Haley consistently took a hard line against Iran, aggressively supporting Trump’s abrogation of the agreement to control its nuclear weapons, and she famously warned that Washington would be “taking names” of countries that don’t support its agenda in the Middle East. If Haley were a recruited agent of influence for the Israeli Mossad she could not have been more cooperative than she apparently was voluntarily.

When Haley resigned, The New York Times predictably produced an astonishing editorial headlined “Nikki Haley Will Be Missed.” Other praise of her upon her impending departure from the UN was related to whom exactly she managed to please while she was in office. The ubiquitous neocon-in-chief Bill Kristol has long been promoting Haley for president. One leading member of Kristol’s neocon chorus, Mark Dubowitz of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, tweeted, “Thank you @nikkihaley for your remarkable service. We look forward to welcoming you back to public service as president of the United States.” Dubowitz is a Canadian Jew, and it would be nice if he could be deported to a remote Internet-free spot on Baffin Island where he can cease interfering in American politics, but that would mean putting an end to the $560,000 in salary and benefits that he enjoys for being one of Israel’s most reliable Fifth Column traitors in the United States.

Nikki was also praised by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

“I would like to thank Ambassador @nikkihaley, who led the uncompromising struggle against hypocrisy at the UN, and on behalf of the truth and justice of our country. Best of luck!”

The Israeli Army itself had nice things to say, tweeting,

“Thank you @nikkihaley for your service in the @UN and unwavering support for Israel and the truth. The soldiers of the Israel Defense Forces salute you!”

It should surprise no one that Haley has recently been in Israel as the guest of the GOP’s leading donors, Sheldon and Miriam Adelson. Ha’aretz enthused over how she “. . . has a wonderful laugh. It’s warm, rounded, and the perfect length to fill the distance between you and her. Haley’s chuckle makes you feel for a moment that you genuinely amuse her, in a good way, so much so that you forget that the laugh came instead of the question you just asked her. When she runs for president, as she no doubt will one day, expect her to deploy that laugh a lot. It’s a valuable political tool. My question at which Haley laughed was ‘does the path to the White House pass through Jerusalem?’ She was in town as the guest of honor at the Israel Hayom Forum for U.S.-Israel Relations, and though I didn’t get an answer, Haley’s willingness to endure the five hours of the ‘forum’ reflected, if not the durability of U.S.-Israel relations, then certainly her relentlessness and professionalism as a politician. . . . Everything about Haley throughout the grueling evening, at least when on public display, showed her meticulous planning and determination, starting with her attire. Her long—and long-sleeved— dress on a sweltering Jerusalem summer evening contrasted with the much shorter dresses all around and drew approval from ultra-Orthodox men. ‘Wow, she really understands tzniess,’ one of them whispered to me, using the Yiddish word for modesty.”

So, Israel is just waiting for President Nikki to arrive and the line about the “path to the White House” running through Jerusalem is the kind of double entendre banter that close friends regularly exchange when discussing something that they know to be true.

It seems inevitable that we Americans go from one lover of Israel to another at the White House due largely to the impact of the narrative contrived through Zionist manipulation of the media and the direct corruption of the government itself by Jewish money. But even by that low standard, Haley is something else. She is a true believer with a fanatical gleam in her eye, just like Pence and Pompeo are in their dispensationalism, and that is very, very scary. Having her at the helm should be anyone’s worst foreign policy nightmare.

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This article was originally published on American Free Press.

Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review.

Featured image is from American Free Press

The Nicaraguan government’s violent repression against demonstrators protesting its brutal neoliberal policies, resulting in more than 300 people being killed by regime forces since April 2018, is only one of the reasons why various leftist social movements have condemned the Nicaraguan regime led by President Daniel Ortega and Vice-President Rosario Murillo.

The Left has many more reasons to denounce the policies of the regime. To understand this, we must go back to 1979. That year saw the victory of an authentic revolution in Nicaragua that combined a popular uprising, self-organization of cities and neighborhoods in rebellion, and the action of the Sandinista National Liberation Front (Frente Sandinista de Liberación Nacional — FSLN), a political-military organization inspired by a Marxist-Guevarist/Castroist model.

The revolution put an end to the 42-year authoritarian rule of the Somoza dynasty, which had appropriated the state — its armed forces, administration and significant parts of its economic assets — and established a strong alliance with the United States. The Somoza dictatorship proved to be an effective bulwark against progressive political forces. Multinationals could maintain and increase their plundering of Nicaragua’s national resources in exchange for commissions that added to the increasingly important wealth of the ruling family.

The FSLN was founded in the 1960s as a leftist group opposing the government mainly through guerrilla warfare. It was not until some of its guerrillas took high-ranking members of the Nicaraguan ruling classes as hostages, in December 1974, that it was considered a potentially serious threat to the dictatorship. After the spectacular action of the Sandinista guerrillas, the regime declared a state of emergency, increased its repressive grip over Nicaraguan society and hunted down the FSLN.

Earlier that year, liberal factions of the bourgeoisie, opposing the concentration of wealth and power in the hands of the Somoza ruling clique, had already formed the Democratic Union of Liberation (Unión Democrática de Liberación — UDEL) under the leadership of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, editor of the liberal newspaper La Prensa. They hoped to gather political momentum and force the regime to liberalize.

The FSLN eventually split into three factions. The “prolonged people’s war” faction remained committed to the strategy of accumulating forces in remote areas until they would have enough strength to liberate entire regions of the country and launch a final assault against Somoza’s army.

The “proletarian tendency” emerged to challenge the prolonged people’s war strategy, considering it inadequate given the absence of a permanent occupying army. They argued that since the rural populations would not directly witness the imperialist endeavor, they would not join the guerrillas in massive numbers.

Furthermore, the development of capitalist production in the country with the economic development of the 1950s and 1960s had given rise to an agricultural and industrial proletariat, constituting respectively 40% and 10% of the active population by 1978. The “proletarian tendency” therefore focused on organizing mass working-class organizations in urban areas, gaining the support of industrial workers with the perspective of launching a swift insurrection when the conditions to do so would be met.

Finally, the “Terceristas,” whose main figures included Daniel Ortega and his brother Humberto, also advocated an insurrectional strategy, but were open to tactical alliances with the liberal factions of the bourgeoisie opposing Somoza. While the “proletarian tendency” stressed the need for a mass uprising and self-organization, the “Terceristas” displayed substitutionist tendencies that implied an armed insurrection led by organized guerrillas, but without a simultaneous mass uprising, would be sufficient to overthrow the regime and take power.

Eventually the regime lifted the state of emergency in 1977, thinking that the guerrilla movement was defeated and the conditions for entering negotiations with the liberal opposition were ripe. But FSLN factions were prompt to resume their armed actions in urban areas. In January 1978, the murder of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal by regime soldiers was caught on video. It sparked tremendous anger among the liberal opposition as well as among the population.

A general strike supported by the liberal bourgeoisie was launched while FSLN groups staged armed actions against Somoza’s National Guard. In August another general strike was called. Sandinista guerrillas staged an assault against the National Palace, where a joint session of both chambers of the parliament was taking place, taking hundreds hostage. This resulted in the liberation of several political prisoners from Somoza’s jails.

More importantly, spontaneous uprisings took place against the regime, enabling the Left to gain momentum over the liberal opposition. After the FSLN called for insurrection, several urban uprisings errupted in September 1978. While these were decisively defeated by the National Guard, this scared the liberal opposition, whose representatives sought to enter negotiations with the regime that were to be mediated by the U.S.-dominated Organization of American States (OAS). The “Terceristas” denounced this turn of events and withdrew from the Front they had helped to build with the liberal opposition.

In January 1979, Somoza turned down the proposals of the liberal opposition. The momentum was then with the Sandinistas, who reunited and created, the following month, the new “Patriotic National Front” (Frente Patriótico Nacional — FPN) in which they were the politically dominant force.

As the FSLN prepared to launch a broad military offensive, they called for a general strike in June. As mass urban uprisings occurred, the armed insurrection quickly moved in to liberate areas of the country, one after the other. Somoza’s army disintegrated. When the army stronghold in the capital was finally liberated on July 19, 1979, its remnants had no choice but to flee, in particular to neighboring Honduras.

In the new FPN government, the revolutionary political forces pledged to install a democratic regime, guarantee a non-alignment of Nicaragua’s foreign policy — thus putting an end to the alliance with the United States — and develop a “mixed economy.” The development of cooperatives and state-owned enterprises would be encouraged while the existence of private capital would not be fundamentally threatened as long as it was perceived as “patriotic,” that is, loyal to the Sandinista Revolution rather than to the overthrown Somoza regime or U.S. imperialism.

During the next two years, several developments illustrated how different Nicaragua was from other cases in which the Left had come to power through elections in Latin America. These included Chile in 1970, Venezuela in 1998-1999, Brazil in 2002-2003, Bolivia in 2005-2006 and Ecuador in 2006-2007.

Due to the destruction of Anastasio Somoza’s army and the flight of the dictator, the FSLN not only assumed governmental power but also replaced the Somocista military with a new army that was put at the service of the people. It also took control over the banks and decreed a public monopoly on foreign trade.

Over the 1980s, major social progress was made in the areas of health care, education, improving housing conditions (even if they remained rudimentary), fuller rights to organize and protest, as well as access to credit for small producers (thanks to nationalization of the banking system). These represented undeniable progress.

But the FSLN government was forced to fight a decade-long war against counterrevolutionary forces known as the Contras, who were heavily supported by the United States. Unable to satisfy its ambition of direct military intervention, Washington settled for a “low-intensity” conflict that would strangle Nicaragua economically and isolate the FSLN politically. U.S. imperialism and its vassals (such as the regime of Carlos Andrès Perez in Venezuela, and regional dictatorships as in Honduras that served as the Contras staging base) found it necessary to contain the spreading of this extraordinary experiment in social liberation and renewal of national dignity. In fact, social revolt was rampant in the region, in particular in El Salvador and Guatemala where revolutionary forces close to the Sandinistas had been active for decades.

However in 1990, the FSLN lost the general election to the Right, with Violeta Chamorro, the widow of Pedro Joaquín Chamorro Cardenal, elected president. Under Chamorro, Nicaragua was to fully embrace the neoliberal austerity promoted by the “Washington consensus.” By the end of the decade Nicaragua became the second poorest country in the Americas, after Haiti.

Assessing the Sandinista Experience

In the 1990s, as a result of disappointed hopes, there were those who posited that what was needed was to try to “change society without taking power.” Unfortunately, it is not possible to change society unless people take power at the level of the State. The question is rather: How to build an authentic democracy — that is, power exercised directly by the people for the purpose of emancipation?

In Nicaragua, it was necessary to overthrow the Somoza dictatorship through the combined action of a popular uprising and the intervention of a political-military organization. As such, the victory of July 1979 remains a popular triumph worthy of celebration. Without the ingenuity and tenacity of the people during the struggle, the FSLN would not have succeeded in striking the decisive blow against the Somoza dictatorship.

Several questions arise. Did the FSLN “go too far” in the changes it made in the society? Did it take the wrong direction? Or are the disappointing subsequent developments the result of aggression by North American imperialism and its allies — in Nicaragua and elsewhere in the region?

In fact, the FSLN leadership did not go far enough in its radicalization:

First, the FSLN leadership did not go far enough in implementing radical measures to support segments of the population who were the most exploited and oppressed, beginning with the poor rural population, but also with underpaid factory, health care and education workers. It made too many concessions to agrarian and urban capitalists.

Second, the FSLN with its slogan “National Directorate — Give us your orders!” did not provide sufficient support to self-organization and worker control. It placed limits that were highly detrimental to the revolutionary process.

Of course, responsibility for the outbreak of the war lies exclusively with the enemies of the Sandinista government, which had no choice but to confront the aggression. Nevertheless errors were made in the means of waging the war: Humberto Ortega, the head of the army, formed a regular army equipped with expensive heavy tanks, unsuitable against the guerrilla methods of the Contras. Further, the mandatory conscription of the country’s youth was unpopular.

This, combined with the errors made in the area of agrarian reform, had damaging consequences. In a recent interview, Henry Ruiz, one of the nine members of the national leadership in the 1980s, pointed out: “The campesinos were not favored [in agrarian reform]; on the contrary they were affected by the war. The war waged by the contra and the war waged by us.”

Agrarian reform was seriously insufficient and the Contras took full advantage of that fact. Much more land should have been distributed to rural families, giving them title to the property. Instead, the Sandinista leadership nationalized the major Somoza estates, but spared major capitalist groups and powerful families whom certain Sandinista leaders wanted to turn into allies or fellow travelers.

Compounding this error, the FSLN wanted to quickly create a State agrarian sector and cooperatives to replace the large Somozist estates. Priority should have been given to small (and medium) private farms, distributing property titles and providing material and technical aid to the new campesino owners.

Additionally priority should have been given to support production for the domestic market. Improving and increasing the domestic and regional market would have made maximum use of organic-agriculture methods.

On the one hand the leadership of the FSLN made too many concessions to bourgeois forces who were considered allies and, on the other hand, engaged in excessive statism or artificial cooperativism. The result was not long in coming: a part of the population, disappointed by the decisions of the Sandinista government, was attracted to the Contras.

The latter had the intelligence to adopt a discourse aimed at the disillusioned campesinos, telling them that they would help them overthrow the FSLN. This would then result in a fair distribution of land and agrarian reform. It was deceitful propaganda, but widely believed in the countryside.

Certain people within the Sandinista movement conducted surveys on the ground and alerted the leadership to what was happening. These included work coordinated by Orlando Nuñez, who remained loyal to Ortega despite his initial left-wing stance.

Work done by others independent of the government and related to Liberation Theology came to the same conclusions. A number of rural organizations linked to Sandinism (UNAG, ATC, etc.) were also aware of the problems, but engaged in self-censorship. Internationalist experts specializing in the rural world also sounded the alarm.

Concessions were made to local big capital, wrongly perceived as being patriotic and an ally of the people. Wage increases were limited and the bosses recieved fiscal incentives in the form of lower taxation. Such an alliance should have been rejected.

At each important stage, criticism from within and outside of the FSLN emerged. The magazine envío, for instance, was founded in 1981 “as a publication that provided ‘critical support’ to Nicaragua’s revolutionary process from the perspective of liberation theology’s option for the poor.” But such criticism was not taken into account by the leadership, which was more and more dominated by Daniel Ortega, his brother Humberto, and Víctor Tirado López.

All three supported the “Tercerista” faction (which did not have a full understanding of the necessity of self-organization, and was inclined to alliances with the bourgeoisie). They were joined by Tomas Borge and Bayardo Arce of the “prolonged people’s war” faction. Further, the four other members of the national leadership did not form a bloc to oppose the continuation and deepening of the errors.

It is important to point out that proposals for alternative policies were formulated both inside and outside the FSLN. Constructive critical voices did not wait for the 1990 electoral failure to propose new directions, but they received only a limited hearing and remained relatively isolated.

Illegitimate and Odious Debt

The leadership of the FSLN should also have questioned repayment of the public debt inherited from the Somoza dictatorship and broken with the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. As a dependent country aligned with the United States, Somoza’s Nicaragua received a massive amount of foreign lending in the 1970s. In addition to multilateral institutions such as the World Bank and the IMF there were several international private bank lenders. While the loans were officially for development, they were used to strengthen the authoritarian regime and increase the wealth of Somoza and his clique.

After the latter left the country with most of their assets, the new Sandinista government was in dire need of funding in order to implement progressive policies and encourage industrialization. Somoza’s debt would soon impede the implementation of such policies.

When the FSLN took power, the foreign debt stood at $1.5 billion. By 1981 its servicing represented 28% of the country’s export revenue. Admittedly, it would not have been easy for the government of a country like Nicaragua to face its creditors alone. But it could have begun questioning the legitimacy of the debts from the very institutions that had financed the dictatorship. The Sandinista government could have launched an audit of these debts by calling for citizen participation and could have gained support by the broad international movement around the demand that the debts be abolished.

Agreeing to repay the debt meant defending the interests of the Nicaraguan bourgeoisie who had invested in the debt issued by Somoza and borrowed from U.S. banks. For the Sandinista government, repayment also avoided confrontation with the World Bank and the IMF. Even with the government’s efforts to maintain collaboration, these institutions decided to suspend their financial relations — demonstrating how useless it was to make the concessions.

Yet after the external debt reached seven billion dollars, the FSLN government implemented a structural adjustment plan that degraded the conditions of the poor without affecting the rich. The plan, introduced in 1988, resembled the usual conditions imposed by the IMF and World Bank — even while these institutions had still not resumed financial relations.

The FSLN government policies were leading the revolutionary process straight into a wall. This resulted in the Right’s victory in the February 1990 election. In short, the government maintained an economic orientation that was compatible with the interests of Nicaragua’s wealthy bourgeoisie and major private foreign corporations. It was an export-oriented economy based on low wages in order to remain competitive on the world market.

What prevented the revolution from advancing was the failure to put people at the core of the transition that followed the overthrow of the Somoza dictatorship, not overly radical policies. But this was not doomed to happen — the government should have paid more attention to the needs and aspirations of the people, in rural as well as urban areas.

To break away from the export-oriented extractivist model that depends on competitiveness on the international market, the Sandinistas could have gone against the interests of the capitalists that still dominated extractivist industry. They could have done more to gradually implement protectionist policies in favor of the small and medium-sized producers who supplied the domestic market, and limited imports. This would not have required peasants and small and medium enterprises to sacrifice for the international market.

Instead of encouraging the masses to follow orders given from the top of the FSLN, self-organization by citizens could have been promoted at all levels; with citizens given control over the public administration as well as over the accounts of private companies. The political institutions developed under the FSLN government were not fundamentally different from those of a parliamentary democracy with a strong presidency. This structure could not, and did not, provide the basis for a counter-power when the Right was elected in 1990.

Refusal to stand up to creditors that demand repayment of an illegitimate debt is generally the beginning of the abandonment of the program of change. If the burden of illegitimate debt is not denounced, people are condemned to bear that burden.

We stress the issue of illegitimate debt because, should the oppressive regime of Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo be replaced, it would be essential for a popular government to call into question debt repayment. Should the Right take leadership in the overthrow of the regime, we can be certain that it will not call the debt into question.

In 1989 the FSLN government reached an agreement with the Contras that put an end to fighting, which was of course a positive development. Yet it was a Pyrrhic victory.

When the Sandinista leadership called a general election in February 1990 it felt certain it would win. Having just negotatied a peace agreement, they expected to reap 70% of the votes in the elections; they were flabbergasted by their loss. The result struck the Sandinista leadership with an overwhelming wave of panic. The Right won partly by threatening that the war would resume with an FSLN victory. The FSLN leadership hadn’t perceived the growing discontent within a large portion of the population. (Many observers attributed the result to president Daniel Ortega’s failure to abolish military conscription — ed.)

This illustrates the gap between the majority of the people and a leadership that had become used to giving orders. Many people wanted to avoid further bloodshed and thus reluctantly voted for the Right, hoping for a permanent end to war. Others were disappointed by the FSLN government’s policies in the countryside (deficient agrarian reform) and in cities (negative consequences of the austerity measures enforced by the structural adjustment program begun in 1988), although Sandinista organizations could still rely on support among young people, workers and civil servants, as well as among a significant number of farm laborers.

After the stunning electoral defeat, Daniel Ortega adopted an attitude that swung back and forth between compromise with the government and confrontation. The Sandinista leadership, with Daniel and Humberto Ortega at its head, negotiated the transition with Violeta Chamorro’s new government.

Humberto was still General in Chief of a starkly reduced army. The most left-wing members of the army had been dismissed. Further, on his order four Sandinista officers were imprisoned under the pretext that they supplied missiles to the Farabundo Martí National Liberation Front (FMLN), which was attempting an uprising in El Salvador.

A few months into Violeta Chamorro’s term, a movement protesting massive layoffs in the public services gathered steam. Trade unions launched a general strike and Sandinista barricades were set up in Managua and cities acoss the country. But the struggle was cut short with the FSLN working out a compromise with Chamorro’s government.

While some austerity measures were withdrawn, others remained; part of the Sandinista grassroots were disgruntled by the terms of the settlement. This was to be the pattern: the grassroots would mobilize, the FSLN would work out a compromise, and austerity continued. The public sector in both agriculture and manufacturing was reduced, the public banking sector dismantled and the State’s monopoly on foreign trade ended. Chamorro incorporated former Contras into the police force. Austerity advanced.

It must be acknowledged that after the victory of the Right, a significant part of the estates formerly expropriated from the Somocistas after the 1979 victory were appropriated by a few Sandinista leaders. Those who organized this “piñata” claimed to be securing assets for the FSLN against a government that might want to confiscate the Party’s assets.

Daniel Ortega’s Consolidation of Power

A grouping of Sandinista militants from the revolutionary period came to reject the leadership’s orientation in the years that followed. That took time, and Daniel Ortega took advantage of the slow dawning of awareness to consolidate his influence within the FSLN, marginalizing or excluding those who defended a different orientation.

Simultaneously, he succeeded in maintaining privileged relations with a number of leaders of popular Sandinista organizations who felt that in the absence of anyone else, he was the leader most likely to defend the gains made during the 1980s. That explains in part why in 2018 the Ortega regime still retained the support of part of the population. This remained true despite his use of extremely brutal methods of repression.

Ortega’s consolidation of power within the FSLN in the 1990s is best summed up by in a 2014 article by Mónica Baltodano, former guerrilla commander, former member of the FSLN leadership and now a member of the Movement for the Rescue of Sandinismo (Movimiento por el Rescate del Sandinismo — MpRS):

“The dispute within the FSLN between 1993 and 1995 [which culminated in a large number of professionals, intellectuals and others splitting away, many of them to form the Sandinista Renovation Movement (MRS), which is different from Mónica Baltodano’s MpRS that was founded later] persuaded Ortega and his iron circle of the importance of controlling the party apparatus. That became more concretized precisely in the FSLN’s 1998 Congress, in which what remained of the National Directorate, i.e. the Sandinista Assembly and the FSLN Congress itself, were replaced with an assembly whose participants were mainly the leaders of the grassroots organizations loyal to Ortega. Little by little even that assembly stopped meeting. At that point an important rupture occurred. By then it was already evident that Ortega was increasingly distancing himself from leftist positions and centering his strategy on how to expand his power. His emphasis was power for power’s sake.”

Mónica Baltodano goes on to explain the building of alliances that ultimately led to Daniel Ortega’s coming back to the presidential office:

“An alliance-building process started then to increase his power. The first was with President Arnoldo Alemán, which produced the constitutional reforms of 1999-2000. Ortega’s central aims in that alliance were to reduce the percentage needed to win the presidential elections on the first round, divvy up between their two parties the top posts in all state institutions [such as the Electoral Council, the Court of Auditors and the Supreme Court] and guarantee security to the FSLN leaders’ personal properties and businesses [acquired during and after the piñata]. In exchange, he guaranteed Alemán “governability” by putting a stop to strikes and other struggles for grassroots demands.

“The FSLN stopped opposing the neoliberal policies. In the following years, the main leaders of the party’s once mass organizations became National Assembly representatives or were brought into the structures of Ortega’s circle of power. With that they obviously stopped resisting and struggling for all the things they had once believed in. Those years also saw the forming of “ties” — I wouldn’t call it an alliance — with the head of the Catholic Church, Cardinal Obando. The main purpose of that linkage was control of the electoral branch of government through Obando’s personal, intimate relation with Roberto Rivas, who had been heading the electoral branch since 2000. It also bought Ortega increased influence with both the Catholic faithful and the church hierarchy.”

After Alemán was charged with corruption and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment, the agreement he had concluded with Ortega proved to be profitable: Ortega saw to it that the men he had placed in the judicial system arranged preferential treatment for Alemán, allowing him to serve out his sentence under house arrest.

Later, in 2009, two years after his election as president of Nicaragua, Daniel Ortega gave his support to the Supreme Court’s decision to quash Alemán’s conviction and release him. A few days later Alemán returned the favor by ensuring that the parliamentary group of the Liberal Party he led voted for the election of a Sandinista at the head of the National Assembly.

The constitutional reforms of 1999-2000 reduced the percentage needed to win the presidential election on the first round to 35% of the votes if the candidate has a five percent margin over the candidate coming in second. Ortega was elected with 38.07% of the votes in November 2006 and took office in January 2007. He was re-elected in November 2011 and again in November 2016. In the 2016 election, Ortega’s longtime partner Rosario Murillo ran and was elected as his vice president. (She had long been government spokesperson.)

Revolution Betrayed

Since 2007, the policies which have been implemented by Ortega and Murillo have looked more like the policies pursued by the three right-wing governments that succeeded one another between 1990 and 2007 than a continuation of the Sandinista experience from 1979-1990.

Over the past 12 years, Daniel Ortega’s government did not carry out any structural reform: there was no socialization of the banks, no new agrarian reform despite the very important concentration of land in the hands of big landowners, no tax reform in favor of more social justice.

Free-trade zone regimes have been expanded. Contracting of internal and external debt has been pursued under the same conditions that favor the creditors through the interest payments they receive and that allow them to impose policies in their favor through blackmail.

In 2006, the Sandinista parliamentary group voted hand in hand with the right-wing MPs in favor of a law totally prohibiting abortion. There are no exceptions whatsoever, including cases of danger to the health or life of the pregnant woman or pregnancy resulting from rape. Under his presidency Ortega has refused to call the measure into question. In fact the prohibition was included in the new criminal code that entered into force in July 2008.

This retrograde legislation was accompanied by serious attacks on organizations defending women’s rights. And over the years they have been among the most active in opposition to the Ortega government. In another very troubling development, references to the Catholic religion have been systematically used by the regime, in particular by Rosario Murillo, who has made a point of denouncing women’s rights organizations and the support they receive from abroad in their struggle for the right to abortion as being “the Devil’s work.”

Nicaragua is still characterized by very low wages. ProNicaragua, the official agency promoting foreign investment in the country, brags of “[t]he minimum wage [being] the most competitive at the regional level, which makes Nicaragua an ideal country to set up labor-intensive operations.” Over the recent years, labor insecurity starkly increased: the informal economy represented 60% of the total employment in 2009, a figure which stood at 80% by 2017.

While the number of millionaires increased, no progress was made towards a diminution of social inequalities. The growth in wealth, with the help of Daniel Ortega’s government, has mainly benefitted national and international capital, Furthermore, Ortega and his family have become wealthier.

The main trigger of the social protests that started in April 2018 was the announcement by Ortega’s government of neoliberal measures to be taken concerning social security, in particular pension reform. These measures were advocated by the IMF, with which Ortega has maintained excellent relations since he took office.

In a statement published in February 2018, the IMF congratulated the government for its achievements: “Economic performance in 2017 was above expectations and the 2018 outlook is favorable … Staff recommends that the INSS [Nicaraguan Social Security Institute] reform plan secures its long-term viability and corrects the inequities within the system. Staff welcomes the authorities’ efforts to alleviate INSS’ financing needs.”

The most unpopular measures were a five percent decrease of the pensions meant to finance medical expenses and a limitation of the annual indexation of these pensions over the inflation rate. Future pension benefits for the close to one million workers affiliated to the pension system would be based on a less favorable calculation, resulting in deep cuts in benefits.

These were the measures that sparked a mass protest movement, at first mainly composed of students and young people. Other protest movements, especially the mainly peasant- and indigenous-based movements against the construction of a trans­oceanic canal, quickly joined. (The canal, meant as an alternative to the Panama Canal, would, if built, en­danger both the environment and livelihoods of peasants along the proposed route.)

Ortega did postpone the social security re­forms but not before he initiated a spiral of repression which resulted in more than 300 protesters being killed by security forces and pro-regime militiamen. Joining the protesters was a population horrified by the government’s repressive response. The protests radicalized, demanding not only the release of those imprisoned, but demanding the fall of the regime.

While unable to provide any evidence, the government accused the protesters of being right-wing “golpistas” and “terrorists” who were working towards regime change with the support of U.S. imperialism. Furthermore, Ortega and Murillo strengthened their use of religious fundamentalist references and denounced the protesters as having “Satanic” rituals and practices, as opposed to the rest of the Nicaraguan people, “because the Nicaraguan people are God’s people!”

On 19 July 2018, during the rally on the anniversary of the Sandinista revolution to try and strengthen his legitimacy, Ortega repeated these absurd “Satanic” claims and called on the Catholic bishops to exorcize the protesters and chase out the devil which supposedly had taken possession of them.

By the middle of July, the government’s policy of terror regained control of the streets. Subsequently mass arrests took place and several hundred people, labelled as “terrorists” by the government, remain imprisoned, some tortured and forced to give false confessions.

By Way of Conclusion

The Sandinista Revolution started as an extraordinary experience of social liberation and renewal of national dignity in a dependent country whose status as a backyard for U.S. imperialism had been accepted by its authoritarian, dynastic rulers for decades.

The achievements of the Sandinista government between 1979 and 1990, while they allowed for significant improvements of the living conditions of most of the Nicaraguans, did not break with the export-oriented extractivist model dominated by big capital. Nor did they promote active citizen participation in the economic and political decision-making processes.

The fact that the political institutions and internal organization of the FSLN were left undeveloped allowed neoliberalism to regain a foot­hold. Further, there were no tools people could use to prevent the Ortega regime from corrupting the other government institutions.

This understanding of the Nicaraguan revolution and its degeneration stresses the need for revolutionaries and socialist activists to encourage the broadest possible participation of the masses in the fight for their emancipation as well as to maintain their self-organization.

A corollary is the need for revolutionaries to struggle against the bureaucratization of their organizations’ leadership — beginning with building organizations that respect internal democracy. This was underestimated by the FSLN, which remained a political-military organization after it had seized power. It did not even organize its first congress as a political organization until 1991.

After the victory of the Right in 1990, the subsequent steps taken by the FSLN leadership under Daniel Ortega were clearly meant for him to return to power for power’s sake. The left wing of the FSLN, which organized critical currents during the 1990s, was too timid in its opposition.

Finally, the international Left needs to have a materialist analysis of social and political processes. There is no reason to cling to fantasized ideas of “really existing socialism.” The evolution of the FSLN and the policies they led in Nicaragua since 2007 should be analyzed for what they are, rather than on the basis of what Daniel Ortega and Rosario Murillo presumably stood for as FSLN activists during the 1970s and 1980s.

Clearly Ortega and Murillo’s deepening of the neoliberal policies pursued by their right-wing predecessors, as well as their total ban on abortion, should be denounced by the international Left. Furthermore, the Left should strongly oppose the repression currently organized against the protesters and demand the immediate release of all political prisoners.

In adopting such a stance, the Left should in no way compromise itself by supporting a right-wing, pro-imperialist opposition. On the contrary, this stance should be accompanied by an effort to link with, and reinforce, the critical Sandinistas and other members of the progressive opposition to Ortega and Murillo. We need to look toward the youth who have mobilized strongly since April 2018, to the feminist movement, and to the peasant and indigenous movements who have opposed the transoceanic canal and other destructive projects linked with the export-led capitalist mode.

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This article was originally published on CADTM.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. 

Featured image is from CADTM

An agreement on the Political Declaration signed by the Transitional Military Council (TMC) and the leadership of the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC) on July 17 postpones firm decisions on key aspects of a comprehensive program which will determine the pace under which the Republic of Sudan can become a stable productive nation-state in Africa.

Discussions between the TMC and FFC have stalled on numerous occasions since the overthrow of former President Omar Hassan al-Bashir on April 11.

Various issues including the composition of a sovereign council and its role in the interim period remained one of the points of contention holding up the initialing of the pact. From the published text of the signed agreement, the TMC will chair the sovereign council for the first 21 months of its existence.

A civilian chair will then takeover for another 18 months prior to the holding of multi-party elections. Therefore, the transitional process will continue for more than three years.

Other aspects of the proposed structure of the interim authority are still not resolved. Further talks slated between the TMC and FFC are required to move the process towards the creation of a legislative body which can debate and decide upon domestic and foreign policy issues.

Altogether there are three structures which require unanimity among the TMC and FFC opposition coalition. The sovereign council is just one of the pillars of a much broader compositional arrangement.

The two others are legislative and government councils where no firm agreements on participation and make up have been reached. In addition, the political declaration calls for the formation of an investigative body to determine responsibility for the massacre of civilians on June 3 when thousands of demonstrators representing the FFC were forcefully removed from the center of Khartoum through the barrels of guns.

Sudan demonstrators celebrate signing of political declaration on July 17, 2019

FFC spokespersons have claimed that over 100 people were killed during the crackdown. The TMC has put forward conflicting figures saying the death toll was far less than what the FFC has stated.

In an article published by the Sudan Tribune on the signing of the document, the news agency says:

“The parties in the upcoming days will deal with the constitutional document which defines the attributions and powers of the three organs of the transitional authority. The FFC recently voiced its opposition to the absolute political immunity given to the TMC members in a draft text released by the joint mediation. Different proposals have been made to make it reversible in case of involvement in human rights violations, killing or other crimes.”

Whether this document can lead to a lasting peace inside the country of 41 million people still remains to be seen. Demonstrations erupted in December with the sharp rise in the cost of bread and other commodities.

Although Sudan is an emerging oil-rich state the partitioning of the country in 2011, once Africa’s largest geographically, has resulted in a decline in the national economy. The neighboring Republic of South Sudan is also in turmoil with the two leading factions of the ruling party unable to reach a workable solution to the dispute which resulted in a civil war beginning in December 2013.

Over the last five years the price of oil has fluctuated on the international market. In desperation the National Congress Party (NCP) administration headed by the ousted President al-Bashir solidified an alliance with the Saudi Arabian and United Arab Emirates monarchies leading to the participation of the Sudanese Armed Forces (SAF) in the United States engineered genocidal war against the people of Yemen.

An estimated 70,000 people have died in Yemen since March 2015. Pentagon weapons and military technology are utilized in the war aimed at suppressing the Ansurallah Movement and its allies in the least developed state in the Middle East. A humanitarian crisis including the widespread outbreak of cholera has been declared the worst of such disasters in the world.

Revolutionary Front and Communist Party Reject TMC-FFC Deal

Two political forces in Sudanese society have refused to endorse the July 17 agreement between the TMC and the FFC. The Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) both claim that the agreement is inadequate and does not resolve the fundamental problems facing the people of the country.

Sudanese Communist Party publication

The SRF is an alliance among the Sudanese People’s Liberation Movement/Army North (SPLM/A-N), based in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states while the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM) and two factions of the Sudan Liberation Movement/Army emanate from the western Darfur region. These groups are engaged in armed actions against the Sudanese military in the above-mentioned regions of the country.

Sudan Tribune in an article published July 17 reports on the position of the SRF in relationship to the TMC-FFC agreement noting:

“[S]pokesman Mohamed Zakaria Farajalla said on Wednesday that the Front was surprised by the initialization of the agreement between the two parties while it was engaged in consultations meetings with a delegation of their allies in the FFC in the Ethiopian capital on ways to achieve peace. He said that the agreement reached by the FFC political and armed groups in Addis Ababa provides to include the SRF vision in the political and constitutional agreements with the Military Council.”

This report goes on to reveal that the SRF will not be bound by the accord. SRF spokesperson considers the organization as part of the FFC and therefore betrayed by the political leadership in Khartoum.

This same Sudan Tribune article goes on to quote Mohamed Zakaria Farajalla who emphasized that:

“It is not understandable that the deliberations of Addis Ababa meeting are in their final stage and the FFC negotiating team inside the country concludes the agreement without waiting for the outcome of Addis meetings to be included in the agreement. This approach is flawed and unacceptable and will complicate the national process. As the Sudanese Revolutionary Front, we affirm that we are not a party to the agreement and we have the right to take what we see as appropriate steps to achieve peace and democratic transition.”

The Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) has also issued a statement based upon the deliberations of its Central Committee related to the contours of the July 17 agreement. The SCP is concerned about the current and future role of the military as well as Sudanese foreign policy specifically related to the war in Yemen and the continuing alliance with the Gulf Monarchies which are bankrolling the TMC regime to the tune of hundreds of millions of dollars.

Concluding its evaluation of the TMC-FFC deal, the SCP declared:

“[W]e reaffirm our rejection of this agreement and to uphold the forces of freedom and change and to continue the struggle and peaceful mass escalation in various forms until the goals of the revolution and the total conflict of civil and democratic governance are achieved.”

Prospects for Peace and Security

Another unsettling development in the Sudanese situation was the announcement on July 11 that an attempted military coup by personnel opposed to the then pending TMC-FFC settlement had been thwarted resulting in the arrest of 12 officers from the SAF and the National Intelligence and Security Services (NISS). TMC Security Committee Chair Gamal Omer Ibrahim announced to the press that five of the officers involved in the failed putsch were in retirement.

The apparent disgruntled elements within the military and intelligence services appear to be in a minority. However, these events contribute to the uncertainty of the political situation when viewed in conjunction with the current rejection of the July 17 agreement by the SRF and the SCP.

Consequently, the role of the African Union (AU) mediators in the persons of the Mauritanian diplomat Mohammad Alhassan Lebatt and his Ethiopian counterpart Mahmood Derair are essential in maintaining lines of communications among the various parties within the Sudanese political context. SRF groups want to solidify any sustainable agreement through the signing of a peace treaty with the Khartoum government.

Important observations made by the SCP must be taken into serious consideration by the TMC and FFC leadership. A lasting peace cannot be secured until the majority of the Sudanese people have a stake in the political and economic future of the country.

A lasting peace agreement in Sudan is important to the rest of the AU member-nations. Further conflict and unrest in this strategically important state will inevitably spill over into contiguous countries who themselves are facing similar challenging which impede the unity and development of the continent.

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Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. 

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While there is considerable telecom hubris regarding the 5G rollout and increasing speculation that the next generation of wireless is not yet ready for Prime Time, the industry continues to make promises to Rural America that it has no intention of fulfilling. Decades-long promises to deliver digital Utopia to rural America by T-MobileVerizon and AT&T have never materialized.  

Despite much bravado, the biggest telecom carriers have never shown the willingness to fund the necessary infrastructure nor do they possess the necessary infrastructure to bridge the digital divide – despite $22 billion in government subsidies and grants over the last five years specifically to provide wireless coverage to rural America.  At the same time, the incompetence at the FCC has been staggering – as an unreliable, albeit compromised, Commission that has consistently failed to provide accurate, reliable maps to identify broadband availability for rural America.

Whether 5G will measure up to its hype of performance and expectations remains a question since there is a different market today than when 4G came on line in 2010.   At that time, there was room for improved cell service, more apps, video streaming and new subscribers.  Today there is little new subscriber growth except in the chronically underserved areas of rural America which has been neglected by the telecom industry and FCC for decades.  The challenge for 5G is to create a market demand, to devise new gimmicks to finagle higher revenues out of current subscribers and most especially to expand their toxic infrastructure to rural America.  The market is much more aware than it was in 2010 as customers are no longer lining up around the corner to purchase the newest thingamajig.

As universal wireless coverage remains a myth in rural America, the Digital Divide is alive and well after decades of neglect by those telecoms who now see rural customers as their cash cow.

With the digital world of personal computers and cell phones a reality for the last three decades,  broadband service to rural America has continued to play second fiddle in favor of upgrades to more affluent urban customers and the telecom industry’s bottom line.

Unlike the national commitment to provide rural electrification in the 1920’s as a major accomplishment, there has been no such Federal commitment to bring geographically challenged citizens into the digital age nor has Congress demanded that the telecom industry do whatever it takes to end the Digital Divide.

The fact that rural America was the topic of three previous Commerce committee hearings is indicative of how closing the Digital Divide is considered mandatory for a successful 5G rollout.  As the National Security Council power point suggested “by initially focusing on rural broadband, the network would guarantee a revenue stream while further business models develop,.“  In other words, the telecom industry is banking on rural America, in its desperation for wireless service, to subscribe (probably at premium rates) after decades of neglect.

In 2017, the USDA reported that 29% of American farms had no internet access. The FCC says that 14 million rural Americans and 1.2 million Americans living on tribal lands do not have 4G LTE on their phones, and that 30 million rural residents do not have broadband service compared to 2% of urban residents.  It’s beginning to sound like a Third World country.

Despite an FCC $4.5 billion annual subsidy to carriers to provide broadband service in rural areas, the FCC reports that ‘over 24 million Americans do not have access to high-speed internet service, the bulk of them in rural area”while a  Microsoft Study found that  “162 million people across the US do not have internet service at broadband speeds.

At the same time, only three cable companies have access to 70% of the market in a sweetheart deal to hike rates as they avoid competition and the FCC looks the other way.  The FCC believes that it would cost $40 billion to bring broadband access to 98% of the country with expansion in rural America even more expensive.  While the FCC has pledged a $2 billion, ten year plan to identify rural wireless locations, only 4 million rural American businesses and homes will be targeted, a mere drop in the bucket.

Which brings us to rural mapping: Since the advent of the digital age, there have been no accurate maps identifying where broadband service is available in rural America and where it is not available.  The FCC has a long history of promulgating unreliable and unverified carrier-provided numbers as the Commission has repeatedly ‘bungled efforts to produce accurate broadband maps” that would have facilitated rural coverage.

During the Senate Commerce Committee hearing on April 10th regarding broadband mapping, critical testimony questioned whether the FCC and/or the telecom industry have either the commitment or the proficiency to provide 5G to rural America.  Members of the Committee shared concerns that 5G might put rural America further behind the curve so as to never catch up with the rest of the country.  Committee Chair Roger Wicker (R-Miss) opened the hearing with

To close the digital divide, we need to have accurate broadband maps that tell us where broadband is available and where it is not available. This is critical because maps are used to inform federal agencies about where to direct broadband support. Flawed and inaccurate maps ultimately waste resources and stifle opportunities for economic development in our rural and underserved communities.”

Tim Donovan of the Competitive Carriers Association told the committee that the FCC had falsely claimed in a December report that “approximately 100% of the American population lives in geographical areas covered by mobile LTE with a minimum 5Mbps speed”as an example of the Commission peddling false data.

Mike McCormick, President of the Mississippi Farm Bureau with 200,000 family members quoted from the FCC’s 2018 report that 72% of Mississippi resident had broadband coverage while data from a comparable  Microsoft study found that only 487,000 citizens or 16% had broadband service.  Further, the FCC reported that 41% of Jefferson County residents had broadband usage while the Microsoft study found that only 5.6% Jefferson County residents had usage.  McCormick told the committee he was ‘very confident”in disputing the FCC figures.

In discussing variable terrain and foliage in rural areas that has delayed installation of necessary cellular infrastructure, McCormick mentioned that “pine needles are some of the bigger deflectors of broadband signal because they are the exact same size of band width” as an example of challenges in rural America. Who knew pine needles could be a factor to 5G?

McCormick went on to explain that in February 2018, the FCC released a map showing areas eligible to receive FCC Mobility Fund Phase II funding for deployment of 4G LTE service which provides $4.53 billion over ten years for telecom carriers to bring mobile and broadband service to rural and underserved areas.  The Mississippi map showed that 98% of the state was already receiving mobile broadband service which the Farm Bureau disputed, ultimately filing a waiver request with the FCC to challenge the map’s accuracy.

The short of the story is that while the Farm Bureau collaborated with the Mississippi Public Service Commission (PSC) to fulfill FCC requirements, the final conclusion was that not one of their speed tests processed through the PSC program was approved by the FCC for challenge.  In other words, no ‘average’ member of the public would have been able to successfully challenge the integrity of the FCC maps.

Chair Wicker (R-Miss) responded

Here’s where you were not a failure Mr. McCormick…we determined that the challenge process is unworkable and frankly worthless. The map is inaccurate and almost impossible using that challenge process to demonstrate this. It needs to be fixed and no program should go forward unless we are satisfied in the Congress that the process is going to touch areas that need it.”

There was unanimous agreement among Members of the Committee and the witness panel that “the maps are fake news and not reliable.”  Sen. Roy Blount (R-Missouri) who reported that 51% of rural Missouri is without broadband coverage, inquired “Does anyone believe that the maps are worth relying on?” No one responded affirmatively.

Jonathan Spalter of the US Telecom Association informed the Committee that the ‘our 5G future will be built and based on our ability to pull the fiber ubiquitously, extensively and quickly” and further dropped a bomb on the Committee that the “final last mile of any 5G wireless network is built and based on the fiber based backhaul opportunities that exists through the wireline businesses..upon which 5G wireless networks ultimately rely.

Chair Wicker used the analogy that when electricity came to rural Mississippi,

we ran the power out to the end of the dirt road.  Are you saying that, as a general rule, we are going to have to, big time, run fiber out to the end of the dirt roadSen. Blount has touched on a very, very important subject that we’ll need a lot more discussion about.”

Spalter confirmed Wicker’s understanding. Clearly, the concern about providing 5G to rural America had just hit a seemingly insurmountable roadblock that given the diversity of rural terrain obstacles, laying fiber cables would be mandatory as Spalter had described.

NTSA

Previously, both T-Mobile and Sprint promised, if allowed to merge,5G networks to 85% of rural areas in three years, and 90% of rural areas in six years but that was before the issue of how installing miles and miles of fiber optics might affect that promise.  Shirley Bloomfield, CEO of NTSA, the rural broadband association representing 850 rural telecom companies, responded that the T-Mobile/Sprint promise

would require huge amounts of fiber backhaul that neither company currently possesses, as small cells must be placed very close to the customer (often within 300 to 500 feet) to reach the higher speeds contemplated by 5G making the technology particularly impractical (and very expensive) for most rural applications anytime soon.”

In October, 2018, NTSA opposed the merger citing T-Mobile as the owner of ‘valuable spectrum for many years’ that“had ample time to build out the rural areas or enter into a joint venture.”In other words, the telecom industry is already well aware of the necessity to “pull wire” in order to install 5G infrastructure throughout rural America.

The question for the telecom industry is that if the economics of 4G did not dramatically increase subscribers in rural America, how will the very expensive and much more controversial 5G provide a sufficient customer base to guarantee a return on the telecom industry’s $275 billion investment?

To be continued….

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Renee Parsons has been a member of the ACLU’s Florida State Board of Directors and president of the ACLU Treasure Coast Chapter. She has been an elected public official in Colorado, an environmental lobbyist with Friends of the Earth and staff member of the US House of Representatives in Washington DC. She can be found on Twitter @reneedove31

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The “squad” condemns Trump for his white nationalism, not understanding that as a white supremacist settler-colonial state, white nationalism is “American” nationalism.

“Biden as a neoliberal white supremacist imperialist was always clear where he stood.”

The story of Trump’s white nationalist tweets is still the object of intense discussion with the Democrats denouncing him and the Republicans giving support to his worldview as normal and consistent with “American values.” Even so, Joe Biden refused to condemn Trump’s Department of Justice for not prosecuting the cop who applied a death choke on Eric Garner in New York.

So even before Democrats were able to realize some political advantage by juxtaposing the supposed difference between themselves and the Republicans, Biden upended that by providing a refreshing dose of reality. His endorsement of impunity for killer cops reminded the public of the racial opportunism that the Democrats have turned into a science over the last few decades.

Exploiting the less subtle expressions of white supremacist thought and practice from Republicans, the Democrats have pulled off an amazing feat – advancing a neoliberal, white supremacist program of austerity, mass incarceration, economic devastation, gentrification, and generalized state violence against the Black working class while projecting themselves as the friend of Black people.

But reality has an inconvenient way of imposing itself, even when the tendency is to try and avoid it.

While the new racial warriors running for office in the Democrat Party fell over themselves condemning the Trump administration for not prosecuting Eric Garner’s killer and excoriating Trump for his racist tweets, Biden’s non-condemnation was a sober reminder of the complexities of race and racist politics in the U.S.

“The Democrats have advanced a neoliberal, white supremacist program while projecting themselves as the friend of Black people.”

There is no doubt that the young Black opportunists helping to run Biden’s campaign probably wanted their man to forcefully condemn the Trump administration, but they faced a dilemma. They knew that his condemnation could very well open him up to the charge of hypocrisy by his opponents. They remember thatthe Obama administration – which Biden was obviously a part of – only prosecuted onekiller cop in the entirety of its eight-year reign.

And so here we are. The “squad” condemns Trump for his white nationalism, not understanding that as a white supremacist settler-colonial state, white nationalism is “American” nationalism.Until there is break with that history and reality, and with Biden, who like Trump either understands that reality better or is more honest than the squad.

Biden as a neoliberal white supremacist imperialist was always clear where he stood. His voting record and policy support for war on Iraq; the dismembering of Syria; the U.S./ NATO attack on Libya that turned the most prosperous nation on the African continent into a real “shithole country;” and support for Trump’s campaign to buttress the white minority oligarchy in Venezuela by implementing a regime change program was not much different than that from Trump. Most of the Democratic Party supported these policies.

“The Obama administration only prosecuted one killer cop in the entirety of its eight-year reign.”

This all begs the question: how do we then define a “racist” and white nationalist? Is it only through the easy and obvious markers, like the marchers in Charlottesville or Trump’s latest tweet? Or is it also reflected in institutions and structural relationships?

I am sorry, but there are more white nationalists in the U.S. than folks want to admit. Not acknowledging the U.S. as a white supremacist settler-state translates into a fundamental error. AOC along with other liberals and most of the Eurocentric left are not calling for a break in the history of the U.S. state. They are not calling for authentic de-colonization. By not doing so, they are embracing the perspective of the invader.

Really, what is this “America” that the squad loves and claim to be a part of? AOC’s family is from the colony of Puerto Rico. Tlaib’s America is probably the most Islamophobic country on the planet. Omar’s native land of Somalia became one of the first of the so-called “failed states,” those states where U.S. and Western imperialism plunders and then pretends that the state failed as a result of its internal weaknesses. Pressley, as an African American, is part of a captive population subjected to 243 years of enslavement, 100 years of post-slavery apartheid, and 54 years of benign neglect.

“Not acknowledging the U.S. as a white supremacist settler-state translates into a fundamental error.”

These are the practices and policies of a state and society committed to upholding white colonial/capitalist power. The squad must understand that if one’s people are part of the working class and nationally oppressed, you don’t beg to become part of that de-humanizing and degrading machine.  You don’t call for integration or for the recognition of your rights, which is not going to happen. No! You fight and struggle for your inherent dignity, understanding that human rights are not going to be granted by the oppressor.They have to be won through ferocious struggle.

The Trump forces are laying out the terms of struggle in stark, unambiguous terms. However, the mistake being made by liberals and some left social critics is framing this struggle as a fight between two contending visions of “America”: the white nationalist bad America versus the mythological liberal trope of the kind, inclusive, tolerant, justice-seeking America.

This latter construction is an ideological mystification that only props up liberal hegemony and blunts revolutionary consciousness. From the point of view of the conscious, colonized victims of this state and society, the distance between Trump’s “Make American Great Again” and Obama’s U.S. exceptionalism is minimal.It is the same brutal, violent, oppressive reality that has made the U.S. the enemy of collective humanity on the planet.

“The distance between Trump’s ‘Make American Great Again’ and Obama’s U.S. exceptionalism is minimal.”

Absent the sanctimonious moralizing of liberals, there is an ideological consistency from the “doctrine of discovery” to “manifest destiny” to the Monroe Doctrine to the “full spectrum dominance” that justified and rationalized the naked brutality and genocidal policies of white colonial power.The ideological resonance of the latest incantation of white supremacy in the form of “theresponsibility to protect” – the contemporary version of the ‘white man’s burden” – testifies to the resiliency of the inculcated assumptions of white supremacy and lawless privilege.

If the squad really had some politics and a worldview that transcended liberalism, they would have utilized the Trump tweets as a “teachable” moment to highlight this contradictory reality of the U.S.

Of course, that did not happen because liberal respectability politics and obsequious pandering is all that we can expect when liberalism is in command. What this latest racial flare-up will be reduced to is the boring trope of racism as an individualized set of psychological dispositions that only decries the bad and obvious racists. Unfortunately, the squad’s embracing of the Obama-like, “we are the world” liberalism obscures and distorts the uninterrupted oppressive nature of the settler-state and its core value of white privilege, institutional violence and belief in the natural superiority of the white West. This will only enhance the ideological power of the Trumpian forces.

“The squad’s embracing of the Obama-like, ‘we are the world’ liberalism obscures and distorts the uninterrupted oppressive nature of the settler-state.”

When Ronald Reagan launched his campaign for president in Philadelphia, Mississippi, the message was clear: the white counter-revolutionary process of President Nixon against left forces – and particularly against the Black Liberation Movement – was going to be intensified not only in the U.S. but globally. Unlike under Trump, the message was subtler, but it was still clear: white power was ready to take center stage again. Thanks to concessions from Democrat and Republican administrations all the way through the Obama years, the ideology and strategy has culminated in the Trump administration.

The radical transformation of the social, political, and economic foundation of the U.S., in short, a social revolution, is the only solution to the disease of white supremacy. The final contours of what the U.S. might be will only result from the horrific fight that must be waged to dislodge the power of the white supremacist, colonial/capitalist patriarchy. What is certain – and what the squad and all of their supporters must understand – is that appeals to morality and undignified attempts to ingratiate oneself into this barbarism will only further embolden the extreme right represented by Trump and the even more insidious neoliberal white supremacist right of Biden, Obama and Pelosi.

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This article was originally published on Black Agenda Report.

Ajamu Baraka is the national organizer of the Black Alliance for Peace and was the 2016 candidate for vice president on the Green Party ticket. Baraka serves on the Executive Committee of the U.S. Peace Council and leadership body of the United National Anti-War Coalition (UNAC). He is an editor and contributing columnist for the Black Agenda Report and contributing columnist for Counterpunch. He was recently awarded theSerena Shirm award for uncompromised integrity in journalism.

Featured image is from BAR 

The World Is Dedollarizing

July 19th, 2019 by Peter Koenig

What if tomorrow nobody but the United States would use the US-dollar? Every country, or society would use their own currency for internal and international trade, their own economy-based, non-fiat currency. It could be traditional currencies or new government controlled crypto-currencies, but a country’s own sovereign money. No longer the US-dollar. No longer the dollar’s foster child, the Euro. No longer international monetary transactions controlled by US banks and – by the US-dollar controlled international transfer system, SWIFT, the system that allows and facilitates US financial and economic sanctions of all kinds – confiscation of foreign funds, stopping trades between countries, blackmailing ‘unwilling’ nations into submission. What would happen? – Well, the short answer is that we would certainly be a step close to world peace, away from US (financial) hegemony, towards nation states’ sovereignty, towards a world geopolitical structure of more equality.

We are not there yet. But graffities are all over the walls signaling that we are moving quite rapidly in that direction. And Trump knows it and his handlers know it – which is why the onslaught of financial crime – sanctions – trade wars – foreign assets and reserves confiscations, or outright theft – all in the name of “Make America Great Again”, is accelerating exponentially and with impunity. What is surprising is that the Anglo-Saxon hegemons do not seem to understand that all the threats, sanctions, trade barriers, are provoking the contrary to what should contribute to American Greatness. Economic sanctions, in whatever form, are effective only as long as the world uses the US dollar for trading and as reserve currency.

Once the world gets sick and tired of the grotesque dictate of Washington and the sanction schemes for those who do no longer want to go along with the oppressive rules of the US, they will be eager to jump on another boat, or boats – abandoning the dollar and valuing their own currencies. Meaning trading with each other in their own currencies – and that outside of the US banking system which so far even controls trading in local currencies, as long as funds have to be transferred from one nation to another via SWIFT.

Many countries have also realized that the dollar is increasingly serving to manipulate the value of their economy. The US-dollar, a fiat currency, by its sheer money mass, may bend national economies up or down, depending in which direction the country is favored by the hegemon. Let’s put the absurdity of this phenomenon in perspective.

Today, the dollar is based not even on hot air and is worth less than the paper it is printed on. The US GDP is US$ 21.1 trillion in 2019 (World Bank estimate), with current debt of 22.0 trillion, or about 105% of GDP. The world GDP is projected for 2019 at US$ 88.1 trillion (World Bank). According to Forbes, about US$ 210 trillion are “unfunded liabilities” (net present value of future projected but unfunded obligations (75 years), mainly social security, Medicaid and accumulated interest on debt), a figure about 10 times the US GDP, or two and a half times the world’s economic output.

This figure keeps growing, as interest on debt is compounded, forming part of what would be called in business terms ‘debt service’ (interest and debt amortization), but is never ‘paid back’. In addition, there are about one to two quadrillion dollars (nobody knows the exact amount) of so-called derivatives floating around the globe. Aderivative is a financial instrument which creates its value from the speculative difference of underlying assets, most commonly derived from such inter-banking and stock exchange oddities, like ‘futures’, ‘options’, ‘forwards’ and ‘swaps’.

This monstrous debt is partly owned in the form of treasury bonds as foreign exchange reserves by countries around the world. The bulk of it is owed by the US to itself – with no plans to ever “pay it back” – but rather create more money, more debt, with which to pay for the non-stop wars, weapon manufacturing and lie-propaganda to keep the populace quiet and in lockstep.

This amounts to a humongous worldwide dollar-based pyramid system. Imagine, this debt comes crashing down, for example because one or several big (Wall Street) banks are on the brink of bankruptcy, so, they claim their outstanding derivatives, paper gold (another banking absurdity) and other debt from smaller banks. It would generate a chain reaction that might bring down the whole dollar-dependent world economy. It would create an exponential “Lehman Brothers 2008” on global scale.

The world is increasingly aware of this real threat, an economy built on a house of cards – and countries want to get out of the trap, out of the fangs of the US-dollar. It’s not easy with all the dollar-denominated reserves and assets invested abroad, all over the globe. A solution may be gradually divesting them (US-dollar liquidity and investments) and moving into non-dollar dependent currencies, like the Chinese Yuan and the Russian Ruble, or a basket of eastern currencies that are delinked from the dollar and its international payment scheme, the SWIFT system. Beware of the Euro, it’s the foster child of the US-dollar!

There are increasingly blockchain technology alternatives available. China, Russia, Iran and Venezuela are already experimenting with government-controlled cryptocurrencies to build new payment and transfer systems outside the US-dollar domain to circumvent sanctions. India may or may not join this club – whenever the Modi Government decides which way to bend – east or west. The logic would suggest that India orients herself to the east, as India is a significant part of the huge Eurasian economic market and landmass.

India is already an active member of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) – an association of countries that are developing peaceful strategies for trade, monetary security and defense, comprising China, Russia, India, Pakistan, most Central Asian countries and with Iran waiting in the wings to become a full-fledged member. As such, SCO accounts for about half of the world population and a third of the world’s economic output. The east has no need for the west to survive. No wonder that western media hardly mention the SCO which means that the western average public at large has no clue what the SCO stands for, and who are its members.

Government-controlled and regulated blockchain technology may become key to counter US coercive financial power and to resist sanctions. Any country is welcome to join this new alliance of countries and new but fast-growing approach to alternative trading – and to finding back to national political and financial sovereignty.

In the same vein of dedollarization are Indian “barter banks”. They are, for example, trading Indian tea for Iranian oil. Such arrangements for goods to be exchanged against Iranian petrol are carried out through Indian “barter banks”, where currencies, i.e. Iranian rials and Indian rupees, are handled by the same bank. Exchange of goods is based on a list of highest monetary volume Indian trade items, against Iranian hydrocarbon products, for example, Iran’s large import of Indian tea. No monetary transaction takes place outside of India, therefore, US sanctions may be circumvented, since no US bank or US Treasury interference can stop the bilateral trade activities.

At this point, it might be appropriate to mention Facebook’s attempt to introduce a globe-spanning cryptocurrency, the Lira. Little is known on how exactly it will (or may) function, except that it would cater to billions of facebook members around the world. According to Facebook, there are 2.38 billion active members. Imagine, if only two thirds – about 1.6 billion – opened a Libra account with Facebook, the floodgate of libras around the world would be open. Libra is or would be a privately-owned cryptocurrency – and – coming from Facebook – could be destined to replace the dollar by the same people who are now abusing the world with the US-dollar. It may be projected as the antidote to government-controlled cryptocurrencies, thus, circumventing the impact of dedollarization. Beware of the Libra!

Despite US and EU sanctions, German investments in Russia are breaking a 10-year record in 2019, by German business pouring more than €1.7 billion into the Russian economy in the first three months of 2019. According to the Russian-German Chamber of Commerce, the volume of German companies’ investments in Russia is up by 33% – by € 400 million – since last year, when total investments reached € 3.2 billion, the largest since 2008. Despite sanctions which amounted to about € 1 billion combined for 140 German companies surveyed and registered with the Chamber of Commerce, and despite western anti-Russia pressure, Russia-German trade has increased by 8.4 percent and reached nearly € 62 billion in 2018.

In addition, notwithstanding US protests and threats with sanctions, Moscow and Berlin continue their Nord Stream 2 natural gas pipeline project which is expected to be finished before the end of 2019. Not only is the proximity of Russian gas a natural and logical supply source for Germany and Europe, it will also bring Europe independence form the bullying sales methods of the United States. And payments will not be made in US dollars. In the long-run, the benefits of German-Russian business and economic relations will far outweigh the illegal US sanctions. Once this awareness has sunk in, there is nothing to stop Russian-German business associations to flourish, and to attract other EU-Russian business relations – all outside of the dollar-dominated banking and transfer system.

President Trump’s trade war with China will eventually also have a dedollarization effect, as China will seek – and already has acquired – other trading partners, mostly Asian, Asian-Pacific and European – with whom China will deal in other than dollar-denominated contracts and outside the SWIFT transfer system, for example using the Chinese International Payment System (CIPS) which, by the way, is open for international trade by any country across the globe.

This will not only circumvent punishing tariffs on China’s exports (and make US customers of Chinese goods furious, as their Chinese merchandise is no longer available at affordable prices, or no longer available at all), but this strategy will also enhance the Chinese Yuan on international markets and boost the Yuan even further as a reliable reserve currency – ever outranking the US-dollar. In fact, in the last 20 years, dollar-denominated assets in international reserve coffers have declined from more than 90% to below 60% and will rapidly decline further as Washington’s coercive financial policies prevail. Dollar reserves are rapidly replaced by reserves in Yuan and gold, and that even in such staunch supporters of the west as is Australia.

Washington also has launched a counter-productive financial war against Turkey, because Turkey is associating and creating friendly relations with Russia, Iran and China – and, foremost, because Turkey, a NATO stronghold, is purchasing the Russian S-400 cutting-edge air defense system – a new military alliance which the US cannot accept. As a result, the US is sabotaging the Turkish currency, the Lira which has lost 40% since January 2018.

Turkey will certainly do whatever it can to get out from under the boot of the US-dollar stranglehold and currency sanctions – and further ally itself with the East. This amounts to a double loss for the US. Turkey will most likely abandon all trading in US dollars and align her currency with, for example, the Chinese Yuan and the Russian ruble, and, to the detriment of the Atlantic alliance, Turkey may very likely exit NATO. Abandoning NATO will be a major disaster for the US, as Turkey is both strategically, as well as in terms of NATO military power one of the strongest – if not the strongest – nation of the 29 NATO members, outside of the US.

If Turkey exits NATO, the entire European NATO alliance will be shaken and questioned. Other countries, long wary of NATO and of storing NATO’s nuclear weapons on their soils, especially Italy and Germany, may also consider exiting NATO. In both Germany and Italy, a majority of the people is against NATO and especially against the Pentagon waging wars form their NATO bases in their territories in Germany in Italy.

To stem against this trend, the former German Defense Minister, Ursula von der Leyen, from the conservative German CDU party, is being groomed to become Jean-Claude Juncker’s successor as President of the European Commission. Mr. Juncker served since 2014. Ms. Von der Leyen was voted in tonight, 17 July, with a narrow margin of 9 votes. She is a staunch supporter of NATO. Her role is to keep NATO as an integral part of the EU. In fact, as it stands today, NATO is running the EU. This may change, once people stand up against NATO, against the US vassal, the EU Administration in Brussels, and claim their democratic rights as citizens of their nation states.

Europeans sense that these Pentagon initiated and ongoing wars and conflicts, supported by Washington’s European puppet allies, may escalate into a nuclear war, their countries’ NATO bases will be the first ones to be targeted, sinking Europe for the 3rdtime in 100 year into a world war. However, this one may be all-destructive nuclear – and nobody knows or is able to predict the damage and destruction of such a catastrophe, nor the time of recovery of Mother Earth from an atomic calamity.

So, let’s hope Turkey exits NATO. It would be giant step towards peace and a healthy answer to Washington’s blackmail and sabotage against Turkey’s currency. The US currency sanctions are, in the long run, a blessing. It gives Turkey a good argument to abandon the US dollar and gradually shift towards association with eastern moneys, mainly the Chinese Yuan, thereby putting another nail in the US-dollar’s coffin.

However, the hardest blow for Washington will be when Turkey exits NATO. Such a move will come sooner or later, notwithstanding Ms. Von der Leyen’s battle cries for NATO. The breaking up of NATO will annihilate the western power structure in Europe and throughout the world, where the US still maintains more than 800 military bases. On the other hand, the disbanding of NATO will increase the world’s security, especially in Europe – for all the consequences such an exit will bear. Exiting NATO and economically exiting the US-dollar orbit is a further step towards dedollarization, and a blow to US financial and military hegemony.

Finally, investments of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), also called the New Silk Road, will be mostly made in Yuan and local currencies of the countries involved and incorporated in one or more of the several BRI land and maritime routes that eventually will span the globe. Some US-dollar investments may serve the People’s Bank of China, China’s Central Bank, as a dollar-divesting tool of China’s huge dollar reserves which currently stands at close to two trillion dollars.

The BRI promises to become the next economic revolution, a non-dollar economic development scheme, over the coming decades, maybe century, connecting peoples and countries – cultures, research and teaching without, however, forcing uniformity, but promoting cultural diversity and human equality – and all of it outside the dollar dynasty, breaking the nefarious dollar hegemony.

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This article was originally published on New Eastern Outlook.

Peter Koenig is an economist and geopolitical analyst. He is also a water resources and environmental specialist. He worked for over 30 years with the World Bank and the World Health Organization around the world in the fields of environment and water. He lectures at universities in the US, Europe and South America. He writes regularly for Global Research; ICH; RT; Sputnik; PressTV; The 21st Century; TeleSUR; The Saker Blog, the New Eastern Outlook (NEO); and other internet sites. He is the author of Implosion – An Economic Thriller about War, Environmental Destruction and Corporate Greed – fiction based on facts and on 30 years of World Bank experience around the globe. He is also a co-author of The World Order and Revolution! – Essays from the Resistance. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization.

Nigerian Political Prisoner Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky

July 19th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Nigerian rule is tyrannical, headed by military dictator/turned politician Muhannadu Buhari and his so-called All Progressives Congress party (APC).

His February re-electoral triumph was dubious at best, critics citing voter-suppression and vote-buying.

Political violence occurred in the run-up to the election and its aftermath, soldiers and police responsible for human and civil rights abuses.

According to human rights activist Anietie Ewang, Buhari’s earlier tenure was marked by “political violence, as well as lack of accountability for rights abuses.”

He’s a 1980 US Army War College graduate, usurping power in a 1983 military coup, ousting President Shehu Shegari.

His brutality includes arbitrary arrests and imprisonments for political reasons, notably targeting human rights activists, academics, students, independent journalists, and clerics like Zakzaky opposed to his despotic rule. More on him below.

Serving US-led Western interests, his own, and his cronies, Buhari enforced severe neoliberal harshness on impoverished Nigerians earlier and currently, following IMF diktats.

Oil-rich Nigeria has the world’s 10th largest reserves, second only to Libya among African nations.

The country’s other valued resources include natural gas, tin, iron ore, coal,  limestone, niobium, lead, zinc and arable land.

Sheikh Ibrahim Zakzaky founded the Islamic Movement of Nigeria (IMN). It represents the country’s minority Shia Muslims.

He’s been brutally mistreated by Nigerian regimes since the 1980s. In December 2015, soldiers stormed his home, seriously injured him, arrested and imprisoned him and his wife, while killing hundreds of his followers.

His IMN called it a massacre. Zakzaky and his wife remain imprisoned under deplorable conditions — despite ordered release by Nigeria’s High Court in December 2016.

His severe mistreatment violates international law and Nigeria’s Constitution, upholding the right to freedom for the country’s people.

Throughout most of his illegal detention, Zakzaky and his wife have been denied proper medical treatment, despite their failing health.

Earlier this year, he suffered a debilitating stroke. Releasing him for vital medical care is essential to save him, his condition steadily deteriorating.

Weeks earlier for the first since his December 2015 imprisonment, foreign doctors were allowed to examine him.

The diagnosed him with severe lead and cadmium poisoning, left ventricular hypertrophy, malignant hypertension, spondylitis, anophthalmia in one eye, open-angle glaucoma in the other, PTSD from protracted trauma, and other debilitating effects of stroke.

For each of these conditions, Zakzaky requires hospitalization and expert medical care. His wife Zeenah suffers from severe osteoarthritis.

She’s wheelchair bound for transport, no longer ambulatory. She also suffers from hypertension, hyperthyroidism, gastrointestinal ailments, and other health issues.

They’re slowly perishing painfully and will die if not released and able to get proper medical care.

Days earlier, Zakzaky reportedly  suffered a second stroke. The deplorable mistreatment he and his wife are enduring amount to slow torture.

The repressive Buhari regime hasn’t yielded to Nigeria’s High Court release order, nor calls by the country’s parliamentarians, and human right activists domestically and abroad, urging the release of Zakzaky and his wife.

Their imprisonment is unconstitutional and unlawful under international law. Given their precarious state, they could perish in days or weeks if remain behind bars.

A Final Comment

I added my name to an “Urgent Medical Treatment for Sheikh Zakzaky” petition — sent to UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres, knowing he’s a pro-Western imperial tool, largely indifferent to doing the right things.

I was requested to add my name and did, supporting the release of Zakzaky and his wife for the urgent medical care they need.

The petition said the following:

“Mr. Secretary General,

We write to demand that Sheikh Zakzaky and his wife Mallima Zeenah be allowed to leave the country for urgent medical treatment.

In the last few days, Sheikh Zakzaky’s health has further deteriorated. Last month doctors examining the leader of the Islamic Movement of Nigeria have renewed pleas for him to be released in order to access medical treatment after finding high levels of lead toxicity in his body.

The continued detention of both of these figures as well as hundreds of others has been a huge stain on the reputation of Nigerian government.

The health of Sheikh Zakzaky and Mallima Zeenah health continues to severely deteriorate as a result of injuries THAT APPEAR TO BE inflicted by THE Nigerian authorities.

By not allowing them to get the medical treatment they need, the Nigerian President is adding further evidence of his government’s inhumanity and cruelty.

As you know the Nigerian people struggle peacefully to attain their own sovereignty for years and are expecting the organizations linked to Human Rights to help them.

During these years they have been permanently oppressed as they were and still are demanding to have access to their basic citizenship rights.

As the UN has been mainly established to provide peace and security across the globe and according to the article 21 of Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR), which recognizes the people’s will as the basis and source of governing power, the demand of Nigerian citizens on having a democratically elected government in which the majority rules the country is a very elementary request.

Why this primary demand for achieving the minimum social rights should face the government’s atrocities including imprisonment, torture, and assassination?

According to the UDHR’s articles 1, 2, 3, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 17, 18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 25, 29, the behavior of this autocratic regime toward his own people including; destruction of the hussainiyas and the mosques, preventing the Nigerian people who are mostly Muslims from establishing both Friday and congregational prayers, suspension of citizenship and deportation of opponents of Nigerian undemocratic and totalitarian government, is considered as a crime and UN is responsible to condemn those acts which violate international laws.

You know well that these mentioned crimes don’t match with the essence of Human Rights.

The silence of world powers and the so-called defenders of Human Rights toward these anti-human crimes, is not surprising as the authorities of Nigerian tyrannical regime are acting under their support and they are allowed once the West’s interests are achieved!

But as the one who should unveil the criminals and has to intervene and to protest against the oppressors, your silence is significant and shocking.

Remember that you’re responsible for maintaining a peaceful and secure world and as the person in charge of performing the UDHR content, you’re condemned in the presence of free consciences and human history.

According to the religious teachings and the unchangeable divine traditions; whatever you, other international officials and those so-called defenders of Human Rights, accomplish your legal, human and moral duty or not, the oppressed nations particularly the Yemeni, Syrian, Palestinian, Iraqi, Afghan and Nigerian peoples will win as they have decided to be free and not to accept any type of injustice and they stand on this issue.

But that is a historical privilege for you to be honored by supporting them, thus we undersigned, ask your Excellency to carry out the following issues as soon as possible:

1. Launching urgent measures in order to stop the actions which oppose the international standards and violate the UDHR’s article 25 regarding the sensitive health situation of his eminence Sheikh Zakzaky;

2. Providing necessary and ensuring arrangements to establish the democracy and to implement the UDHR’s article 21 by making possible a referendum through which every single Nigerian citizen has one vote;

3. Initiating emergency measures to stop the tyranny of Nigerian dictatorial regime which threatens the security and freedom of people and jail, torture and assassinate them;

4. Immediate release of political prisoners and investigation about Nigerian Government’s unaccountable crimes in competent international courts.”

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from The Iran Project

The first part of this article documenting the development of BSE in Britain was written by Rosemary Mason and is taken from her new report ‘Why didn’t the UK media report the documentary on Mad Cow Disease?’ It is fully referenced and cites sources and evidence in support of her claims. Additional reporting for the second part of the article was provided by Colin Todhunter.

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Mad cow disease is a fatal epidemic neurological syndrome created by the agricultural industry, farmers and food processors.

In 1987, an epidemic of a fatal neurological disease in cows suddenly appeared in Britain. Cows became uncoordinated, staggered around, collapsed and finally died. The disease was called Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE) because there were holes in the brain where prion protein cells became folded, had linked up and then split to cover the surface of the brain. There were more than 1,300 cases of BSE spread over 6,000 farms.

For at least 40 years, infected slaughterhouse carcasses had been rendered down and recycled into animal feed. Not wanting to waste anything, pressure cooking of the spinal cord and brain produced a sludge known as ‘mechanically-recovered meat’. The regulators allowed it to go into meat products. This processed meat and bone meal was turned into a coarse powder and was fed back to cows. Cows are herbivores and this way they were turned into cannibals.

By 1990, BSE had spread into 14 other species, including cats. Politicians, the food industry, media, the government, farmers and vets said BSE couldn’t jump species to affect humans and it was safe to eat beef. Advertisements were taken out in newspapers and politicians were shown eating steak tartare in the Houses of Parliament to boost the sales of beef. At an agricultural show, the Agriculture Minister John Gummer was seen offering a beef burger to his daughter.

In 1995, the first human under 40 contracted what became known as new variant Creutzfeldt-Jacob Disease (new vCJD, related to BSE and belonging to the same family of diseases). By March 1996, there were five cases and the government was forced to alter its advice. Kevin Maguire, a journalist, was lunching with someone in Westminster who said that scientists had discovered that ‘mad cow disease’ could jump species and had been found in humans.

Maguire said that it was a scandal in an effort to get every penny out of a carcass. His newspaper, ‘The Mirror’, was the first to break the news to the public, saying that humans could catch mad cow disease from eating infected beef and that the government was about to do a U-turn by finally accepting that the brain wasting disease may have been passed to people. This U-turn by ministers – who for 10 years had insisted it was impossible – was a devastating indictment of the British government and probably one of the worst examples of government since the war.

During 1996, 10 more cases of new vCJD in people under 40 were diagnosed. All died within 13 months and there was no cure. In 2005, the authorities thought the disease was over, but in 2009, a case was discovered in a 30-year-old man. Another case appeared four years later. Today, people are living with uncertainty, not knowing if they are incubating new vCJD.

The parents of children who had died from new vCJD said “We trusted government advice.” Each Christmas one mother had sent an e-mail to those she thought responsible with a photograph of her daughter and said your actions have deprived me of my daughter. Another parent from Scotland who had lost his 30-year-old son to the disease had tattooed on his arm the name of his son followed by: ‘murdered by greed and corruption’.

In the documentary ‘Mad Cow Disease: The Great British Beef Scandal’, first broadcast on BBC 2 on 11 July 2019, Tim Lang, professor of food policy at City University London, said:

“New Variant CJD is not a natural disease. It is an epidemic we have created. If the agricultural industry hadn’t decided to feed cattle with meat and bone meal, if the food processors hadn’t decided to scrape every last bit of flesh off the carcass, and if MAFF [govt ministry] hadn’t prioritised farming over food safety, all of the people who died would still be alive. This is the tragedy.”

The following is taken from a publication compiled by the European Environment Agency, ‘Late lessons from early warnings’ (Patrick van Zwanenberg and Erik Millstone):

“Many of the UK policy makers who were directly responsible for taking policy decisions on bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) prior to March 1996 claim that, at the time, their approach exemplified the application of an ultra-precautionary approach and of rigorous science-based policy-making. We argue that these claims are not convincing because government policies were not genuinely precautionary and did not properly take into account the implications of the available scientific evidence.

“… It is, however, essential to appreciate that UK public policy making was handicapped by a fundamental tension. The department responsible for dealing with BSE has been the Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (MAFF), and it was expected simultaneously to promote the economic interests of farmers and the food industry whilst also protecting public health from food-borne hazards. The evidence cited here suggests that because MAFF was expected simultaneously to meet two contradictory objectives it failed to meet either.”

The UK introduced legislation banning the use of contaminated ruminant protein for use in ruminant feed in 1988. By then, a million cows had entered the food chain. At the height of the scandal, British beef had lost around 60% of sales. Prior to the ban, microbiologist Stephen Dealler challenged the government’s claim over safety and was moved from his research lab.

However, Britain continued to export meat and bone meal to Europe. The European Commission asked the UK to introduce an export ban on feedstuffs, but the UK refused to do so. It was not until 1996 that the EC banned these exports.

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From mad cows to GMOs and pesticides

Where glyphosate (and other agrochemicals) and genetically modified organisms (GMOs) are concerned, we again see commercial interests being prioritised and the public interest sidelined. Monsanto’s glyphosate-based Roundup was originally sprayed on crops in 1980 and on grazing land in 1985 (recommended by Monsanto scientists). GMOs entered the commercial market in the US in the 1990s. As shown in the report mentioned in the introduction to this article, the authorities did not heed the advice of key scientists and went ahead regardless.

Readers are urged to consult the report as it documents the duplicity that underpins the agrochemical/GMO agritech sector and describes how science and regulatory processes have been corrupted. In Britain, the government is saying that GM crops and Roundup are safe and intends to introduce these crops after Brexit.

Of course, heavily compromised industry-funded scientists and other lobbyists say the science is decided on GM and that glyphosate is safe. They say anyone who rejects this is anti-science and doesn’t care about world hunger because we can only feed the world by rolling out more GM crops and more agrochemicals. But this is little more than propaganda and emotional blackmail, part of an industry strategy designed to tug at the heartstrings of public opinion and sway the policy agenda.

We need to turn to author Andre Leu who has outlined major deficiencies in pesticide safety protocols. He offers a more realistic appraisal:

“… it is a gross misrepresentation to say that any of the current published toxicology studies can be used to say that any of the thousands of pesticide products used in the world do not cause cancer or other diseases… there is no evidence that pesticides are safe.”

Washington State University researchers recently found a variety of diseases and other health problems in the second- and third-generation offspring of rats exposed to glyphosate. In the first study of its kind, the researchers saw descendants of exposed rats developing prostate, kidney and ovarian diseases, obesity and birth abnormalities. The study’s authors say:

“The ability of glyphosate and other environmental toxicants to impact our future generations needs to be considered and is potentially as important as the direct exposure toxicology done today for risk assessment.”

And where GMOs are concerned, they are little more than a flawed technological panacea that ignores the structural causes of malnutrition and hunger.

An increasing number of prominent reports and voices are now arguing that we do not need toxic chemicals to feed the world and that if we maintain our economic and agricultural course we are headed for disaster. FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva recently called for healthier and more sustainable food systems and said agroecology can contribute to such a transformation.

Moreover, the new report from the UN  High Level Panel of Food Experts on Food Security and Nutrition – Agroecological and other innovative approaches for sustainable agriculture and food systems that enhance food security and nutrition – argues that food systems are at a crossroads and profound transformation is needed. Many high-profile reports and figures have been saying similar things for years.

It is therefore disconcerting that the British government seems oblivious to the need of the hour and remains intent on pursuing an obsolete neoliberal, water-polluting, soil degrading, health destroying, unsustainable model of food and agriculture at the behest of corporate interests.

Mad cow disease did not just suddenly appear from nowhere. It was created by humans, particularly the farming industry and food processors. The British government kept on maintaining that eating beef was perfectly safe. A scientist who spoke out was silenced. The interests of the beef industry were paramount.

Evidence suggests there could soon be a second wave of cases affecting humans. It will be among people with a genetic predisposition towards longer incubation periods than the first patients had. This genetic predisposition is shared by half the British population. Some 177 people (as of June 2014) have contracted and died of vCJD.

That number is dwarfed when it comes to the spiralling rates of disease and illness that we now see among the British population. This too hasn’t happened for no reason. We see clear trends between the rising use of agrochemicals (especially glyphosate) and rising rates of morbidity, while much of the media and policy makers remain silent on this connection.

From the ‘great British beef scandal’ of the 1980s to ongoing pesticide issue, the profit motives of rich corporations continue to trump the public interest.

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Colin Todhunter is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research.

The Sidama Region and Ethiopia’s “Perfect Storm”

July 19th, 2019 by Andrew Korybko

The last-minute compromise deal by the Sidama Liberation Movement and the Ethiopian government to delay the former’s planned declaration of a new regional state until an upcoming referendum in December doesn’t solve the deeper problem of the country’s contentious internal borders but instead means that this issue will play a leading role in the “perfect storm” that’s brewing ahead of next year’s general elections.

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Ethiopia narrowly averted its second possible collapse in less than as many months after the last-minute compromise deal between the Sidama Liberation Movement and the federal government, which followed the potentially existential crisis that was barely avoided after last month’s failed coup attempt in the Amhara Region.

At that time, a radical nationalist figure tried to violently seize control of the country’s historic heartland in a bid to put a stop to PM Abiy’s far-reaching reforms, which could have plunged the East African nation of over 100 million people back into civil war had he succeeded. The root cause of that dramatic event was the rogue security chief’s extreme dissatisfaction with the new leader’s tacit moves towards transforming the state into the federation that it’s constitutionally supposed to have been this entire time, which implies an eventual change of Ethiopia’s contentious internal borders beforehand if this outcome is to be sustainable.

It’s these interlinked reforms that strike fear in the hearts of the country’s myriad ethno-nationalists because of the impossibility of perfectly executing them without one or another group claiming that this was at their expense. Although he didn’t mean to, the “Ethiopian Gorbachev” opened up the Pandora’s Box of ethno-regionalist tensions that had previously been held shut by his predecessors’ firm hand, and in accordance with the precepts of Hybrid War, it seems as though he’s losing control of these pre-existing identity conflicts and has inadvertently sparked a self-sustaining cycle of unrest as a result. It wasn’t supposed to be this way, of course, since his strategic calculation last year to remove the terrorist designation from several armed opposition groups was designed to preclude any real possibility of that scenario transpiring in this ultra-sensitive context, but Ethiopia’s administrative-territorial contentions are apparently too serious of a concern to smooth over.

This brings the analysis around to discussing the latest developments in the Southern Nations, Nationalities, and Peoples’ Region (SNNPR). The Sidama people, who constitute an important plurality in this highly diverse part of the country and are based around its capital city, wanted to declare their own separate regional state in accordance with Article 47.3 of the Ethiopian Constitution. That entails holding a referendum within one year of a “two-thirds majority of the members of the Council of the Nation, Nationality or People concerned” approving this demand and presenting it to the State Council. The Sidama Liberation Movement says that they did this last year but that the government ignored them, hence why they wanted to go ahead with their unilateral declaration on Thursday prior to them agreeing to the National Election Board’s promise to hold their sought-after referendum in December.

That doesn’t solve the larger problem of Ethiopia’s administrative-territorial problems but merely delays the initiation of its settlement until the end of the year, which is nevertheless important because tackling it now so soon after the Amhara coup attempt could have risked exacerbating ethno-regionalist tensions between the Amhara & Tigray, Oromo & Somali, and other much larger nationalities within the country who have already been engaged in so many violent clashes over their titular regions’ borders that the East African state now has the world’s largest internally displaced population. Had the last-minute compromise not been struck, then the much larger ethnic groups could have followed the smaller Sidamas’ footsteps by unilaterally revising the disputed borders with their neighbors and immediately worsening Ethiopia’s many local conflicts to the point of once again threatening to plunge the country into civil war.

Even in the “best-case scenario” that peace prevails until the Sidamas’ December referendum, this worst-case scenario could simply return because the root problem hasn’t been addressed, though the government will probably be forced to finally tackle it next year due to Article 48’s two clauses about the process that must be followed for changing state borders in the event that the vote is a success. That would expectedly set into motion the aforementioned course of events that was only delayed by the last-minute compromise, but it still buys the authorities precious time to finalize their plans for dealing with it. Having said that, it’s very dangerous that this development is occurring in the run-up to next year’s first free and fair elections because it risks making the issue of administrative-territorial reform the cause around which all ethnic parties will rally.

Ethiopia is a cosmopolitan country of over 80 ethnic groups where no single one commands a statistical majority, so it’s entirely possible that the devolution process could quickly spiral out of control and ultimately lead to the state’s dissolution if Hobbesian conflicts break out between its many different people throughout the course of its transformation into an “Identity Federation“. The Sidama and their struggle for state sovereignty within Ethiopia is but a trigger for forcing the government to implement Article 48 and thus create the precedent for the country’s much larger and more geographically dispersed nationalities to demand the same for resolving their many internal border disputes as well. The “perfect storm” is therefore brewing, one which could throw Ethiopia’s very existence as a unified state into jeopardy and catalyze the geopolitical re-engineering of Africa that might be exploited by foreign actors in the new “Scramble for Africa”.

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Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Inside Junior’s War Room

July 19th, 2019 by Philip A Farruggio

Deep deep deep inside the bowels of the White House is this private, very private chamber. Some say its the place where REAL PRESIDENT Cheney stays, and operates the REAL government.

Today, on this cold, bitter cold Sunday, Super Sunday, the top elite from the cabinet are conducting a very important meeting- the prospect of war with Iraq, or rather the need to have a war with Iraq. Let’s be a “fly on the wall” and listen in.

Colin Powell- “Mr. President..

Junior [GWB]- “Ah yes Colin..

Cheney (over Junior’s voice)- “Yes General Powell…. please Junior..”

Powell- “ I’m sorry Mr. Real President… Mr. Real President,  I must be candid at this time, as these are times that call for extreme candor and….”

Cheney- “Could you just cut to the chase General? We have many things to discuss today.”

Junior- “He’s right, Colin.  Now Dick… I mean Mr. Real President, I need to understand just how this here economic stimulus package will operate; after all, the press calls it the  “Bush Plan’, not yours Dick.. I mean Mr. Real President!”

Cheney- “Calm down Junior. Didn’t I promise your daddy that I would take extra special care of you for this great service you volunteered to do for our nation and …”

Junior- “ I did NOT volunteer!! My daddy forced me to leave Austin where we, Laura and I and the girls, were very happy and content! I do not appreciate you, sir, with all due respect Mr. Real President, or anyone here thinking that I wanted this for myself!”

Cheney- “ Now now Junior, we all understand, especially your daddy, that you were not asking for all this- sometimes, I think it was Nixon who said it, we all get what we deserve, or something like that.”

Powell- “ If I can now continue, Mr. Real President..?”

Cheney- “Please General, by all means..”

Powell- “ Now, on this issue of the war…”

Rumsfeld- “ Dick, if he is gonna start this monologue on how he feels so strongly against this action, well, I may just puke!”

Powell- “ How DARE you question my patriotism Rummy!”

Rumsfeld- “ How DARE you question MY WAR!”

Cheney- “ Now gentlemen, gentlemen, please, lets have some semblance of solidarity here!”

Junior- “Solidarity- now that’s a COMMUNIST term is it not? I thought that war was over- we won that one right?”

Cheney- “ Please Junior, could you do us a favor and sit over there and  memorize the economic stimulus part of your State Of The Union?. Your daddy will be disappointed if you screw up this BIG ONE.”

Junior- “ Sorry, Mr. Real President. Its just that I love history and current events. Sorry…..” (walks toward the rear of the large chamber) “ My fellow Americans..”

Cheney- “Now   gentlemen, lets continue this discussion, with civility, yes? General?”

Powell- “ Thank you sir. As I was stating earlier, sir, I do not think we have exhausted every means possible to get the coalition we need prior to  conducting this offensive..”

Rumsfeld- “ Offensive!! What in the hell is he referring to Dick!?  This is no OFFENSIVE! The future of democracy and life as we know it is on the line here Colin… Tell him Dick, tell him what’s at stake here!”

Cheney- “Now calm down Rummy! General, we as a nation are at war with both terrorism and despots like Saddam. If we, the world’s only superpower left, if we do not take the mantle and rid the world of evil like….”

Junior (from the rear) “ Evil, did I hear Evil? I’m just getting to that part in my speech… ‘This Axis of evil must and will..’

Cheney- “ Not now Junior, just read it to yourself! We have business, important business to discuss here.. Please!”

Junior- “ OK, OK, I getya pardner, I’ll hush up and let you fellers discuss the mean ole bad injuns out there in A-rab land!”

Rumsfeld (whispering to Cheney)- “Dick, I do believe we would have been better off with the other Governor, you know the one from Florida- least he caught on a bit quicker- you get my drift?”

Cheney- “ Yeah Rummy, and maybe we could have done better with a more moderate Defense man too- somebody who didn’t look like an ATTACK DOG! Get my drift?”

Powell- “ Mr. Real President, may I continue…. thank you. I feel, echoing the world press and leaders from just about every nation I have been visiting and conversing with via the phone; that to go in unilaterally, or with just  a few NATO nations, would turn off the entire Middle East, Africa and most of Asia- not to mention the French, Germans, Scandinavians and who knows who else..”

Rumsfeld- “Oh screw em, all of em!! I say we go in and take out this **** and that’s that!. In and out in 48 hours!”

Powell- “ True, it would take 48 to 72 hours, maybe ten to twenty thousand civilian dead, a few hundred of our troops KIA, and the annihilation of Baghdad as we now know it. More importantly, let me stress this ever so strongly, would be the fact that we would invite an increasing number of terrorist actions against not only our presence abroad, but more distressing, within our borders.

Rumsfeld- “ Hogwash!! The Saudis would be thanking us for getting rid of that clown!”

Powell- “Rummy, do you understand that he is one of them, when all else is said and done?. There is a certain loyalty in that part of the world of  which we here in America do not comprehend.”

Rumsfeld- “That’s bullcrap Colin, with all due respect! The only loyalty that the Saudi Princes and Sheiks and whatever in the hell they call themselves, the only loyalty they know is that of the almighty dollar, especially the American kind. By the way, you speak of this “group loyalty”- do you think of yourself as a Black man first, or an American first?”

Powell (getting angry, finally)-  “I do not need you or anyone to ever ever question…”

Cheney- “Now now guys, let’s calm down a bit. We have some decisions to make and make fast. This is no time to be divided…”

Junior (from the rear)- ” A house divided will not stand… great! I can use that in my speech…. can I Mr. Real President, can I please?”

Cheney- “You know, Junior, THAT is a great literary mechanism after all. Great idea! Now please leave us to settle this war situation.”

Rumsfeld- I say, once again, Mr. Real President, let us delay not a week longer. Its gonna get hot as hell out there in a few months. Let’s get the Brits and go on in ASAP.”

Cheney- “Well, Rummy, I think my family’s stock portfolio agrees with you. We need to pump up those war industries as much as feasible. That translates into more jobs, and jobs bring votes for 2004. With this economy, we need something positive.”

Rumsfeld (aside to Cheney)- ” If Junior’s numbers stay down, even after this war thing is resolved, are we gonna keep him around in ’04? Can we win with him?”

Cheney (whispering) -“No choice on that matter. The ‘die is cast’ as Shakespeare wrote. Junior is our lead pony- and Senior says he stays that way. Besides, all we need is some good, really bad terrorism news in early ’04 and the polls will rise. Factor in who the other guys plan to run, and with the exception of Kerry, it’s as they say ‘ in the bag’ for our side.”

Powell- “Excuse me Mr. Real President, but if you do not need me anymore, I must leave for another European trip. We are going to need to solidify England, and get one more crack out of the rest of the EU, if your plans are to go forth successfully. May I be excused Sir?”

Rumsfeld- “That’s rubbish, and you and I both know it!”

Cheney- ” You’re excused Colin- we all value your insights on these matters, even Rummy here, believe it! Thanks for coming……..and remember Colin, a Powell/Jeb ticket is very much a talking point for ’08- especially if those idiots run the “hatchetwoman” on theirs.”

Junior (shouting out to Powell)- “Thanks General, and I think Jeb and you would do just fine in the White House. Jeb speaks fluent  Espanol you know- could come in handy with the l

Latino vote.”

Rumsfeld (whispering )- ” Do you really believe that HE could become President in 2008? “

Cheney- ” Rummy, the last time you looked, what color was Colin?  Forget what I said to him- the guy could never get the nomination, just like Lieberman could never. That’s life!”

Rumsfeld (singing)- “That’s what all the people say… you bomb Baghdad in April, its all over in May….”

Cheney- ” Now let’s go over those troop movements, and the ideal time to strike…”

Junior- “Hey fellers, I actually met Frank Sinatra you know. Big supporter of my Dad…..(singing) “That’s life, that’s what all the people say……”

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Philip A Farruggio is a contributing editor for The Greanville Post. He is also frequently posted on Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust and Off Guardian sites. He is the son and grandson of Brooklyn NYC longshoremen and a graduate of Brooklyn College, class of 1974. Since the 2000 election debacle Philip has written over 300 columns on the Military Industrial Empire and other facets of life in an upside down America. He is also host of the ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid ‘ radio show, co produced by Chuck Gregory. Philip can be reached at [email protected].

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This article was originally published in 2014.

July 17th is the commemoration of the downing of MH17, July 17, 2014

“From start to finish, the Ukraine crisis has been instigated by US imperialism. Every action Washington has taken has been directed at exacerbating and intensifying this crisis. The longer this crisis goes on, the clearer it becomes that US policy is directed not so much at Ukraine as at Russia itself. Ukraine, it would seem, is meant merely to provide the pretext for a war with Russia.” Bill Van Auken, “Does Washington want war with Russia?“, World Socialist Web Site

German pilot and airlines expert, Peter Haisenko,  thinks that Malaysia Flight 17 was not blown up by a ground-based antiaircraft missile, but shot down by the type of double-barreled 30-mm guns used on Ukrainian SU-25 fighter planes.  Haisenko presented his theory in a widely-circulated and controversial article which appeared on the Global Research website titled “Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile”. Here’s an excerpt from the article:

“The facts speak clear and loud and are beyond the realm of speculation: The cockpit shows traces of shelling! You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile….”  (“Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile””, Global Research)

Haisenko notes that the munitions used on Ukrainian fighters–anti-tank incendiary and splinter-explosive shells–are capable of taking down a jetliner and that the dense pattern of metal penetrated by multiple projectiles is consistent with the firing pattern of a 30-mm gun.

The fact that Russian radar spotted a SU 25 in the area where MH17 was attacked, has persuaded many that Haisenko’s analysis is credible.  Adding to the controversy, international monitor Michael Bociurkiw, who was one of the first inspectors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) to reach the crash site and who spent more than a week examining the ruins–also appears to be convinced that the ill-fated jetliner was not hit by a missile but downed by machinegun fire consistent with the myriad bullet-holes visible on the fuselage.  Here’s what he told on CBC World News:

“There have been two or three pieces of fuselage that have been really pock-marked. It almost looks like machine gun fire; very, very strong machine gun fire that has left these unique marks that we haven’t seen anywhere else.

We’ve also been asked if we’ve seen any signs of a missile?

Well, no we haven’t. That’s the answer.” (“Malaysia Airlines MH17: Michael Bociurkiw talks about being first at the crash site“, CBC News. Note: The above quote is from the video)

The idea that MH17 was downed by a surface-to-air missile (from a BUK system) is a theory that originated with the US government and spread by the western media.  The theory has been repeated thousands of times in thousands of newspapers and TV programs without a shred of corroborating evidence.  Needless to say, the repetition of a fable, does not make it true. The public needs more facts to determine what really happened. Unfortunately, the Obama administration has been stonewalling the investigation, preferring instead to use the tragedy to advance their own narrow political agenda by attacking Putin and smearing Russia. This strategy has clearly backfired as we can see by the fact that Haisenko’s analysis has caught on like wildfire convincing many that the missile theory is a fake.

The burden of proof now falls on Washington to produce whatever hard evidence they may have via radar or satellite imagery that will persuade the public that their story is credible.  The best way to do that, would be to provide whatever relevant information and data they’ve compiled but refused to release for the last two weeks.

What we know about the crash so far, is that MH17 was rerouted from the flight-path that other Malaysia “Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur” flights had been taking for the two weeks prior.

Why was the flight path suddenly changed? Why was MH17 rerouted through a war zone? Why was the pilot told to fly at a lower altitude instead of the 35,000 ft he had requested?  Why was the flight path suddenly adjusted 14 kilometers north just as the plane entered the war zone? Was MH17 outfitted with Boeing’s Uninterruptible Auto Pilot (BUAP), and if so, was the system engaged when it suddenly flew off course and began to lose altitude? (And why hasn’t Boeing sent an investigative team to the crash site which is what they do whenever one of their planes goes down?)

The Obama administration hasn’t answered any of these questions. They’ve chosen instead to use the tragedy to bash Russia and blame Putin  without providing any solid evidence or data to support their claim that MH17 was downed by a missile launched from a BUK system. As a result,  public confidence in their allegations has steadily eroded. This situation can only be remedied by taking concrete steps to show the administration is serious about the investigation and genuinely wants to get to the bottom of what happened on July 17.

Here’s what Obama should do.

First, he should demand that the Kiev government hand over the Air Traffic Control cockpit tapes that were recorded on the day the flight went down. That’s number one. That will clarify why the pilot veered  “off course” 14 kilometers and why the plane suddenly lost altitude. (Once again, we ask: Was the Auto Pilot override system engaged or not?) The Ukrainian Security Service (SBU) seized the recordings shortly after MH17 crashed and they haven’t been seen since. Why? Why hasn’t this critical piece of  evidence been handed over to the proper authorities, the EU’s team of investigators? Does anyone really believe that Kiev’s US-backed lackey regime made this decision by themselves or that Washington ordered them to grab the tapes to prevent the public from knowing what really happened in the final minutes of the flight?

Second, Obama should come clean and provide whatever radar and satellite data he has that will shed light on how the plane was downed. Most of what we know so far, has been provided by Moscow from a news conference that was moderated by Russian air force chief Lt. Gen. Igor Makushev. Naturally, the western media blacked out most of what Makushev had to say. Surprisingly, however, the right wing Wall Street Journal published an excellent article on the press conference which covered most of the important details. Here’s a brief excerpt from the article:

“On Monday, Gen. Makushev said that the two Russian radar stations near Russia’s border with Ukraine observed the presence of the second aircraft over a period of four minutes on the day of Flight 17′s crash….

Gen. Makushev said that Russian radars could only spot the aircraft at the point of its ascension because the on-duty radars only detected objects at above 5,000 meters. Russian radars spotted the unidentified plane patrolling in the vicinity of Flight 17, “controlling the development of the situation,” he said….

The defense ministry also said it registered the Su-25 fighter jet ascending within close range of several civil aircrafts, including the Malaysia Airlines jet….

Another top military official, Lt. Gen. Andrei Kartapolov, said at the same news conference that the jet came as close as 1.8 miles to Flight 17, which is well within the range of the air-to-air missiles it is usually equipped with…

The suggested version of events echoed much of what has been reported on Russian state television in recent days, which has suggested that Ukraine could have shot down the plane, possibly via one of its fighter planes.

U.S. officials dismissed the Russian government’s claim that a second plane was present when Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 was shot down last week as “desperate” propaganda.”   (“Russia Presents Its Account of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 Crash“, Wall Street Journal)

Russia’s findings appear to support the Bociurkiw-Haisenko theory that MH17 was gunned down by Ukrainian fighters.  It’s up to the Obama administration to prove otherwise.

Here’s more from the WSJ:

“Similarly, Gen. Makushev said the Malaysia Airlines plane deviated from its course by close to 9 miles near Donetsk but then attempted to return to its course, crashing shortly after. Russian radars spotted the Flight 17 rapidly descending 32 miles away from the Russian border, Russian officials said…..He said Russia is prepared to hand all of the information it has to the European authorities, which included satellite imagery and data from its own radar.” (WSJ)

Why? Why was the pilot driving the gigantic 777 through a warzone like an intoxicated high-schooler out on a joyride? Does any of this sound suspicious to you, dear reader?

So far, the Obama administration hasn’t even admitted that they had a satellite overhead, preferring instead to stick with their pathetic propaganda strategy. Fortunately, CounterPunch has published an invaluable article by journalist Andre Vltchek that provides a translation of the Russian press conference to which the WSJ refers. Here’s an excerpt:

“According to our records from 17:06 till 17:21 Moscow time on the July 17 over the Southeastern territory of Ukraine, a US space satellite flew overhead. This is a special device of the experimental space system designed to detect and track various missile launches. If the US party has photos made by the satellite, please let us ask them to show them to world community for further investigation….(NOTE: The US satellite system MUST work, because just days later it detected the launching of  three ballistic missiles by the Ukrainian government.)

Is it a coincidence or not? However, the time of the Malaysian Boeing-777 accident and the time of the observation done by the satellite over the Ukrainian territory are the same. In conclusion, I would like to mention that all the concrete information is based on the objective and reliable data of the different Russian equipment, in contrast to the accusations of the US against us, made without any evidence…” (“The New Cold War–MH17 – Sacrificed Airliner“, Andre Vltchek, Counterpunch

In other words, Moscow caught the US “red handed”. They spotted the US satellite, they know the US saw what happened, and they’re calling them out on it.

Where are the photos, Obama? Where is the satellite imagery? We KNOW you have them, so pony up!

Now ask yourself this: Where does this line of inquiry lead? And does it really matter if the Malaysia 777 was shot down by a warplane or blown up by surface-to-air missile?

Of course it matters. It makes all the difference in the world. If MH17 was shot down by an Ukrainian SU 25, then we need to know who gave the order and whether the people who stand to benefit from the incident were directly involved or not. And who does benefit from the downing of MH17, that’s what we need to establish. Just like we need to know why the Obama team has been so cock-sure that Moscow was involved in the incident. Why all the fingerpointing? Why the need to make Putin look like a homicidal maniac? How does that help to reveal the truth?

Finally: Was the downing of Malaysia Flight 17 an accident, a premeditated act of murder or a false flag operation?

We need to know.

Addendum: On Sunday, BBC reports:  “Fresh fighting in eastern Ukraine has forced an international forensics team to halt operations in part of the vast crash site of Malaysian flight MH17. Observers had to withdraw from one village when they heard artillery fire although work is still continuing across much of the area.” (“Ukraine crisis: New fighting hampers MH17 crash probe“, BBC.)

Kiev has restarted hostilities realizing that if the Dutch inspectors find any shell casings or fragments that can be traced back to the SU 25s, the administration’s missile theory will collapse.

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Mike Whitney lives in Washington state. He is a contributor to Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion (AK Press). Hopeless is also available in a Kindle edition. He can be reached at [email protected].

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Der General der Marine-Infanterie und Präsident des Gemeinsamen Ausschusses der Stabschefs, Joseph Dunford, überreichte am 13. Juni 2019 die Diplome an die Studenten der National Defense University. Er nutzte die Gelegenheit, um ihnen zu versichern, dass es „Aufgabe der Generaldirektoren ist, den Wandel in einer unsicheren Welt zu steuern“.

Die NATO-Verteidigungsminister (Elisabetta Trenta, M5S, für Italien und Ursula von der Leyen für Deutschland und Thomas Starlinger für Österreich) wurden am 26. und 27. Juni in Brüssel einberufen, um die neuen Maßnahmen der „Abschreckung“ gegen Russland zu genehmigen, dem – ohne jeden Beweis – vorgeworfen wird, gegen den INF-Vertrag verstoßen zu haben. Grundsätzlich bedeutet dies, dass sie hinter die Vereinigten Staaten zurückfallen werden, die durch den endgültigen Rückzug aus dem Vertrag am 2. August die Stationierung von bodengestützten Mittelstrecken-Nuklearraketen (einer Reichweite von 500 bis 5.500 Kilometern) in Europa vorbereiten, ähnlich denen aus den 80er Jahren (die Pershing II und die Marschflugkörper), die durch den 1987 von den Präsidenten Gorbatschow und Reagan unterzeichneten Vertrag (mit den sowjetischen SS-20) beseitigt wurden.

Die großen europäischen Mächte, die innerhalb der EU zunehmend gespalten sind, werden in der NATO unter dem Kommando der USA neu gruppiert, um ihre gemeinsamen strategischen Interessen zu unterstützen. Bei der UNO lehnte dieselbe Europäische Union – von der 21 ihrer 27 Mitglieder der Allianz angehören (ebenso wie das Vereinigte Königreich, obwohl es die EU verlässt) – den russischen Vorschlag zur Beibehaltung des INF-Vertrags ab. In einer so wichtigen Angelegenheit wird die europäische Öffentlichkeit von ihren Regierungen und den großen Medien bewusst im Zustand der Unwissenheit gehalten. Auf diese Weise bemerken wir nicht die wachsende Gefahr, die uns alle bedroht – die zunehmende Möglichkeit, dass wir eines Tages den Einsatz von Atomwaffen erfahren könnten.

Dies wird durch das jüngste strategische Dokument der US Armed Forces, Nuclear Operations (11. Juni) bestätigt, das unter der Leitung des Präsidenten der Generalstabschefs verfasst wurde. Da „unsere Atomstreitkräfte den USA die Leistungsfähigkeit bieten, unsere eigenen nationalen Ziele zu verfolgen“, wird in dem Dokument betont, dass sie „diversifiziert, flexibel und anpassungsfähig“ an ein „breites Spektrum von Gegnern, Bedrohungen und Kontexten“ sein müssen. Trotz russischer Warnungen, dass auch der Einsatz nur einer Atomwaffe mit geringer Leistung eine Kettenreaktion auslösen würde, die zu einem großangelegten Atomkonflikt führen könnte, beginnt sich die US-Doktrin auf der Grundlage eines gefährlichen Konzepts – „Flexibilität“ – zu orientieren.

Das strategische Dokument bekräftigt, dass „die US-Atomkräfte uns die Mittel an die Hand geben, um zu diesem Zeitpunkt auf ein breites Spektrum von Zielen und mit den vom Präsidenten beschlossenen Mitteln Gewalt anzuwenden“. Diese Ziele (spezifiziert das gleiche Dokument) werden in Wahrheit von den Geheimdiensten gewählt, die deren Schwachstelle für einen nuklearen Angriff bewerten und auch die Auswirkungen des radioaktiven Niederschlags berechnen. Der Einsatz von Kernwaffen – betont das Dokument – „kann die Voraussetzungen für entscheidende Ergebnisse schaffen. Insbesondere der Einsatz einer Atomwaffe würde den Kontext einer Schlacht grundlegend verändern, indem er die Bedingungen schafft, die es den Befehlshabern ermöglichen würden, die Konfrontation zu gewinnen“.

Kernwaffen würden es den USA auch ermöglichen, „ihre Verbündeten und Partner zu beruhigen“, die im Vertrauen auf diese Waffen „die Idee des Besitzes eigener Kernwaffen aufgeben und damit am Ziel der Vereinigten Staaten, der Nichtverbreitung, teilnehmen würden“.

Das Dokument zeigt jedoch, dass „die USA und einige ausgewählte NATO-Verbündete in der Lage wären, Flugzeuge vorzuhalten, die sowohl nukleare als auch konventionelle Waffen tragen können“. Dies ist ein Eingeständnis, dass vier offiziell Nicht-Atom-Länder der EU, Italien, Deutschland, Belgien, Holland – und auch die Türkei – unter Verstoß gegen den Nichtverbreitungsvertrag nicht nur US-Atomwaffen (B-61-Bomben, die ab 2020 durch die noch zerstörerischen B61-12 ersetzt werden) lagern, sondern bereit sind, sie bei einem Atomangriff unter dem Kommando des Pentagon einzusetzen.

All dies wird von unseren Regierungen und Parlamenten, Fernsehern und Zeitungen geheim gehalten, mit dem schuldigen Schweigen der überwiegenden Mehrheit der Politiker und Journalisten, die dennoch Tag für Tag wiederholen, wie wichtig „Sicherheit“ für uns Italiener und andere Europäer der Union ist. Sie wird uns anscheinend durch die Stationierung anderer Atomwaffen der USA garantiert.

Manlio Dinucci

 

L’Unione europea nella strategia nucleare del PentagonoBy Manlio Dinucci,

il manifesto, 25. Juni 2019

Übersetzung: K.R.

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Trump Ignorant of China’s Resolve

July 18th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Trump is an artful dealmaker in his own mind, his mastery more myth than reality.

Former Trump Organization executive Barbara Res earlier said he wasn’t a great dealmaker. 

“In terms of taking the responsibility for the buck, he just would never do it,” she said, adding: “It’s not in his DNA. He’s never responsible. It is always someone else’s fault.”

According to Trump’s 1987 “Art of the Deal” ghostwriter Tony Schwartz, “most of the deals in the book were failures,” adding:

“And the number of deals he’s made over the years since then have overwhelmingly been failures.” He was “really one of the worst” dealmakers he’s come across.

Expressing “deep remorse” for writing the book, Schwartz said “I put lipstick on a pig…I contributed to presenting Trump in a way that brought him wider attention and made him more appealing than he is.”

“I genuinely believe(d) that if Trump w(on) and g(ot) the nuclear codes…it (could) lead to the end.” If he wrote the book today, he’d title it “The Sociopath.”

Former New York magazine publisher and editor Edward Kosner, where Schwartz worked as a writer in the 1980s, said “Tony created Trump. He’s Dr. Frankenstein” — creating the monster occupying the White House.

In writing the book, he spent 18 months with Trump in his office, at meetings, on weekends in New York and Florida. He got to know him better than anyone other than family members at the time, he said.

As a public figure, especially a political one, he acted like he wrote the book, Schwartz said, adding:

“If he could lie about that on day one (as candidate Trump)— when it was so easily refuted — he is likely to lie about anything.”

After announcing his candidacy in June 2015, the prospect of Trump becoming president horrified Schwartz — because of his self-centered, impulsive personality, not his ideological ideas, whatever they might be.

Through his team involved in trade talks with China, did the mythical dealmaker meet his match?

After 11 negotiating sessions in Beijing and Washington, along with other bilateral communications for over a year, talks remain at impasse because of unacceptable, one-sided Trump regime demands.

China clearly is unwilling to compromise its sovereign rights and principles. Nor will Beijing sacrifice its ambitious longterm economic, financial, industrial, and technological aims — wanting the country developed into a global powerhouse.

It’s heading toward eventually surpassing the US as the world’s largest economy. It already reached that plateau on a purchase price basis, what a basket of goods costs in both countries.

Nearly three weeks after Trump and Chineses President Xi Jinping met on the sidelines of the late June G20 Osaka, Japan summit, agreeing to resume trade talks, all that took place were telephone communications between both sides.

No date for a face-to-face meeting was scheduled in either country. Things are no closer to resolving major differences than earlier.

Both nations are world’s apart on major structural issues. The US side appears unwilling to soften its unacceptable demands, China not about to accept them.

The last time bilateral talks were held in May, they broke down. Both sides remain firm. China insists that further talks take place “on a basis of equality and mutual respect” — what the US affords no other countries, notably not sovereign independent ones.

For progress to be made in talks, China demands what the Trump regime won’t agree to — lifting unacceptable tariffs, removing Chinese enterprises from its blacklist, notably tech giant Huawei and its affiliates, along with calling off its dogs against the company’s chief financial officer Sabrina Meng Wanzhou, ordering Canada to release her from house arrest.

The US must also end its unacceptable one-sided demands, be willing to compromise on key issues, and respect China’s sovereign developmental rights.

There’s no sign whatever of the Trump regime’s willingness to negotiate on this basis, differences between both sides remaining at impasse.

China’s Commerce Minister Zhong Shan was involved in last week’s phone conversation between both sides.

He blamed the Trump regime’s obstinacy for the current impasse, separately saying Beijing must uphold “the spirit of struggle” in defending its sovereign rights.

He indicated that China will increase efforts to advance its belt and road initiative for greater regional integration, involving over $1 trillion in investments.

Chairman of China’s largest construction machinery manufacturer XCMG earlier said “One Belt, One Road makes our internationalization strategy like a tiger with wings added.”

According to Beijing-based commentator Zhang Lifan, Zhong’s remarks and involvement in Sino/US talks “shows China is in no hurry to reach a deal, (is) ready for protracted talks, (and appears to be) waiting to see what happens after the 2020 election.”

As long as the US remains hardline and unwilling to compromise, resolving major bilateral differences may be unattainable no matter who serves as US president.

Protracted stalemate looks set to continue longer-term, resolution perhaps out of reach altogether because of unacceptable US demands.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Die absurden Beziehungen der EU-Länder zu Russland

July 18th, 2019 by Mondialisation.ca

Der Stand der Beziehungen zwischen Italien und Russland ist „ausgezeichnet“: So lautete die Erklärung von Premierminister Giuseppe Conte, als er Präsident Vladimir Putin in Rom empfing. Die Botschaft war als Beruhigungsmittel, gar als Schlafmittel für die öffentliche Meinung gedacht. Grundsätzlich beschränkte sich die Sitzung auf den Stand der Wirtschaftsbeziehungen.

Russland, in dem 500 italienische Unternehmen ansässig sind, ist der fünftgrößte außereuropäische Markt für unsere Exporte und deckt 35 % des italienischen Erdgasbedarfs. Dieser Austausch – präzisiert Putin – hatte 2018 einen Wert von 27 Milliarden Dollar, 2013 erwirtschaftete er jedoch noch 54 Milliarden Dollar. Das bedeutet, dass er sich halbierte, weil sich „die Beziehungen zwischen Russland und der Europäischen Union, die zu europäischen Sanktionen führten (die in Washington beschlossen werden), verschlechtert haben“, so Conte.

Dennoch gibt es zwischen den beiden Ländern „eine intensive Beziehung auf allen Ebenen“. Ein beruhigender Ton, der an den von Contes Besuch in Moskau im Jahr 2018 und von Premierminister Matteo Renzis Reise nach Sankt Petersburg im Jahr 2016 anknüpft, als er garantierte, dass „der Ausdruck ‚Kalter Krieg‘ die Geschichte und auch die Realität verlassen hat“. Daher geht die Farce weiter.

In seinen Beziehungen zu Russland tritt Conte (wie Renzi 2016) nur in der Funktion des Regierungschefs eines Landes der Europäischen Union auf, das die Mitgliedschaft Italiens in der NATO unter dem Kommando der USA, die er für einen „privilegierten Verbündeten“ hält, verfälscht. Am italienisch-russischen Tisch gibt es also einen Platz für den steinernen Gast, den „privilegierten Verbündeten“, in dessen Fahrwasser Italien schwimmt.

Die Regierung Conte erklärt, dass der Stand der Beziehungen zu Russland „ausgezeichnet“ ist, obwohl sie weniger als eine Woche zuvor im NATO-Hauptquartier erneut Russland beschuldigt hatte, gegen den INF-Vertrag verstoßen zu haben (auf der Grundlage von „ Beweisen“, die von Washington geliefert wurden), und damit mit der Entscheidung der USA in Einklang zu bringen, den Vertrag zu begraben, um neue, auf Russland gerichtete Mittelstrecken-Nuklearraketen, zu installieren.

Am 3. Juli, dem Vorabend des Putin-Besuchs in Italien, veröffentlichte Moskau ein von Putin unterzeichnetes Gesetz, das die russische Beteiligung am Vertrag aussetzt. Ein Präventivschlag, bevor Washington am 2. August endgültig austritt.

Ø  Putin warnte auch davor, dass Russland seine Raketen auf die Gebiete richten würde, in denen sich diese Raketen befinden, wenn die USA neue Atomwaffen in europäischen Ländern in der Nähe von Russland stationieren würden.

Ø  Die Warnung betrifft also auch Italien, das sich derzeit darauf vorbereitet, ab 2020 die neuen B61-12-Bomben zu beherbergen, die auch für die italienische Luftwaffe – unter US-Befehl – verfügbar sind.

Ø  Eine Woche vor der Bestätigung dieses „ausgezeichneten“ Zustands der Beziehungen zu Russland bestätigte die Regierung Conte die Beteiligung Italiens an der NATO-Truppe – unter US-Befehl – von 30 Kriegsschiffen, 30 Bataillonen und 30 Luftgeschwadern, die ab 2020 innerhalb von 30 Tagen gegen Russland in Europa eingesetzt werden können.

Ø  Unter Beibehaltung der Anti-Russland-Funktion beteiligen sich italienische Schiffe an NATO-Manövern zur U-Boot-Kriegsführung. Italienische Panzerstreitkräfte gehören zur NATO-Kampfgruppe in Lettland, während vor zwei Wochen die Ariete Panzerbrigade in Polen ausgebildet wurde. In Rumänien und Lettland sind italienische Kampfflugzeuge – Eurofighter Taifune – im Einsatz.

All dies bestätigt, dass die italienische Außen- und Verteidigungspolitik nicht in Rom, sondern in Washington entschieden wird, direkt vor der Nase der „Souveränität“, die der derzeitigen Regierung zugeschrieben wird.

Die Beziehungen zu Russland, sowie die zu China, basieren auf dem Treibsand der italienischen Abhängigkeit von den strategischen Entscheidungen, die in Washington getroffen wurden. Wir müssen uns nur daran erinnern, dass 2014 die russisch-italienische South Stream-Gaspipeline im Auftrag Washingtons sabotiert wurde, was zu Verlusten in Milliardenhöhe für italienische Unternehmen führte.In absolutem Schweigen und im Konsens mit der italienischen Regierung.

Manlio Dinucci

 

La sceneggiata delle relazioni con la Russia

il manifesto, 10.Juli 2019

Übersetzung: K.R.

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A Farsa das Relações com a Rússia

July 18th, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

O estado das relações entre a Itália e a Rússia é “excelente”: afirmou o Primeiro Ministro Conte, ao receber em Roma, o Presidente Putin. A mensagem é reconfortante, na verdade, soporífera em relação à opinião pública. Limitamo-nos, fundamentalmente, ao estado das relações económicas.

A Rússia, onde funcionam 500 empresas italianas, é o quinto mercado extra-europeu para as nossas exportações e fornece 35% da procura italiana de gás natural. O intercâmbio – Putin especifica – foi de 27 biliões de dólares em 2018, mas em 2013 chegou a 54 biliões. Portanto, reduziu para metade o que Conte designa como a “deterioração das relações entre a Rússia e a União Europeia, que conduziu às sanções europeias” (decididas, na realidade, em Washington).

Porém, existe um “relacionamento intenso a todos os níveis” entre os dois países. Tons tranquilizadores que reflectem os da visita de Conte a Moscovo, em 2018 e do Primeiro Ministro Renzi, a São Petersburgo, em 2016, quando garantiu que “a expressão Guerra Fria está fora do contexto da História e da realidade”. Assim, a farsa continua.

Nas relações com a Rússia, Conte (como Renzi, em 2016) apresenta-se unicamente, nos trajes de Chefe de Governo de um país da União Europeia, escondendo-se atrás da adesão da Itália à NATO, sob o comando dos Estados Unidos, considerado “aliado privilegiado”. O “aliado privilegiado” em cuja esteira a Itália está colocada. À mesa das conversações da Itália com a Rússia, continua ainda a sentar-se, como “convidado de pedra,” o “aliado privilegiado”, sob cuja alçada se coloca a Itália.

O governo Conte declara “excelente” o estado das relações com a Rússia quando, há apenas uma semana, no quartel general da NATO, acusou novamente a Rússia de violar o Tratado INF (com base nas “provas” fornecidas por Washington), alinhando-se com a decisão USA de destruir o Tratado, para instalar na Europa, novos mísseis nucleares de alcance intermédio, apontados para a Rússia.

Em 3 de Julho, um dia antes da visita de Putin à Itália, foi publicada em Moscovo o decreto-lei assinado por ele, que suspende a participação russa no Tratado: uma medida preventiva antes que Washington saia definitivamente, em 2 de Agosto.

Ø O próprio Putin advertiu que, se os EUA colocarem novas armas nucleares na Europa ao redor da Rússia, esta apontará os seus mísseis para as zonas onde estiverem localizados.

Ø  Assim, também previne a Itália, que se prepara para hospedar, a partir de 2020, as novas bombas nucleares B61-12 à disposição da força aérea italiana, sob comando USA.

Ø  Uma semana antes da confirmação do estado “excelente” das relações com a Rússia, o governo Conte confirmou a participação da Itália na força NATO, sob o comando USA, de 30 navios de guerra, 30 batalhões e 30 esquadrões aéreos que se podem instalar ​​em 30 dias na Europa, contra Rússia, a partir de 2020.

Ø  Sempre em função anti-Rússia, navios italianos participam nos exercícios da NATO, de guerra submarina; forças mecanizadas italianas fazem parte do grupo de combate da NATO, na Letónia e a brigada blindada Ariete exercitou-se há duas semanas na Polónia, enquanto caças italianos Eurofighter Typhoon estão instalados na Roménia e na Letónia.

Tudo isto confirma que a política externa e militar da Itália é decidida não em Roma, mas em Washington, apesar da “soberania” atribuída ao governo actual.

As relações económicas com a Rússia e até com a China, assentam sobre as areias movediças da dependência italiana das decisões estratégicas de Washington. Basta recordar como, em 2014, por ordem de Washington, foi destruído o gasoduto South Stream Rússia-Itália, com prejuízos de biliões de euros para as empresas italianas. Com o silêncio absoluto e com o consentimento do governo italiano.

Manlio Dinucci

Artigo original em italiano :

La sceneggiata delle relazioni con la Russia

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Iran announced last week they will be enriching uranium to 5% which is over the 3.67% limit set by the Joint Comprehension Plan of Action signed in 2015 under the Obama administration.

Iran has every right to go over that cap, since the US pulled out of the deal over a year ago and reinstated crippling sanctions on the Islamic Republic.

But if you look at headlines in the mainstream media, you would never know Iran was exercising its right as per the JCPOA.

Reuters July 7, 2019: Iran ratchets up tensions with higher enrichment, draws warnings

BBC July 7, 2019: Iran nuclear deal: Government announces enrichment breach

NPR July 7, 2019: Iran’s Uranium Enrichment Breaks Nuclear Deal Limit. Here’s What That Means

USA Today July 7,2019: Iran begins uranium enrichment beyond limit set by 2015 nuclear deal in latest violation

Wall Street Journal July 7,2019: Iran Plans New Breach of Limits of Nuclear Agreement

New York Times July 7, 2019: Iran Announces New Breach of Nuclear Deal Limits and Threatens Further Violations

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the UN nuclear watchdog assigned to ensure Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA, reported the Islamic Republic’s compliance as recently as May 31st 2019, over a year after the US pulled out of the deal.

The IAE also reported that Iran gave full access to its inspectors,

“Timely and proactive cooperation by Iran in providing such access facilitates implementation of the additional protocol and enhances confidence,” the report stated.

Iran has been staying within the deals limits in hopes that other signatories of the deal would help with relief from US sanctions. Iran’s economy relies heavily on oil exports, which have fallen to about 300,000 barrels per day, compared with the 2.5 million barrels Iran was selling in April 2018.

Section 21 of the JCPOA reads,

“The United States will cease the application, and will continue to do so, in accordance with this JCPOA of the sanctions specified in Annex II to take effect simultaneously with the IAEA-verified implementation of the agreed nuclear- related measures by Iran as specified in Annex V.”

The plan then goes on to specify all the sanctions the U.S. must lift, which now have mostly all been re-implemented.

Section 21 makes it clear, if the IAEA verifies that Iran is complying with the JCPOA the US must lift all the sanctions and keep them off or else they are in violation of the deal.

On Thursday, CNN reported that Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) attempted to seize a British oil tanker in the Strait of Hormuz. The CNN article used two unnamed US officials as its sources. They also quoted an unnamed British Ministry of Defense source that said it “appeared that the Iranian vessels were trying to divert the Heritage from international to Iranian waters” before the British Navy ship HMS Montrose “got between them and issued a verbal warning to withdraw.”

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif denied the allegations and said,

“They make such claims to create tension, yet these claims are worthless and they have made many such claims.”

No evidence for these claims has been provided.

The CNN article even said,

“A US aircraft was overhead and recorded video of the incident, though CNN has not seen the footage.”

Still no footage has been released, this story could have been completely fabricated and these “unnamed officials” know they can feed any information they want to these “journalists” and they’ll report it as fact. It helps paint Iran as the aggressor.

The CNN article barely mentioned the fact that on July 4th, British Royal Marines landed a helicopter on an Iranian oil tanker off the coast of Gibraltar because it was suspected of being bound for Syria. Selling oil to Syria violates EU and US sanctions.

Look at how the New York Post reported the alleged attempted seizure of the British tanker:

New York Post, July 11th 2019: Iran’s latest provocation isn’t even about the nuke deal

The Post article did report on the British seizing an Iranian tanker, the article read,

“Notably, the Royal Marines took custody of that Iranian ship because it was blatantly taking oil to Syria, in defiance of European Union sanctions. By attempting a reprisal, Tehran is trying to bully Britain and, by implication, the rest of Europe, into giving it a free hand in Syria.”

Somehow to the New York Post Iran is the bully in this situation? All Iran wants to do is sell their greatest natural resource. Who are the United States and EU to decide who they can and cannot sell it to? The US violated the JCPOA first and reinstated crippling economic sanctions, they sound like the bully.

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Dave DeCamp is a freelance journalist based in Brooklyn NY, focusing on US foreign policy and wars. He recently joined Antiwar.com as an assistant editor. He is on Twitter at @decampdave.

The situation in northwestern Hama and along the entire contact line around the Idlib de-escalation zone has remained stable but tense during the past week. The Syrian Arab Army, the Tiger Forces and their allies have repeatedly engaged in local clashes with Hayat Tahir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and other radical groups. However, no side has undertaken any notable offensive operations.

Fresh satellite images of the Russian Hmeimim airbase showed the deployment of seven Su-24, four Su-25, seven Su-34 and four Su-35 warplanes as well as an A-50 airborne early warning and control, an IL-20 electronic intelligence plane, two IL-76 and an An-30 cargo planes.

The warplanes were all deployed on the airbase’s ramp. This indicates that the hardened aircraft shelters are still under construction. New revetments are being built in the northeastern section of the airbase. These measures are needed to prevent any damage that may be caused by repeated armed drone attacks by militants.

On July 14, a terrorist attack targeted a gas pipeline linking the al-Shaer gas fields in eastern Homs with the Ebla gas plant temporarily knocking it out of service. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the attack. However, ISIS cells are known to be operating in the Homs desert, south of al-Shaer. Eastern Homs witnessed several attacks by the terrorist group in the last few months.

Earlier, on June 22, a sabotage operation targeted several underwater pipes of the Banias’ oil terminal on the Syrian coast. The attack damaged five oil pipes forcing Damascus to take emergency measures to repair the damaged infrastructure.

A unit of the Russian Military Police survived an attack by an improvised-explosive device (IED) in the southern Syrian governorate of Daraa on July 13, a chief of the Russian Reconciliation Center for Syria confirmed. The attack led to no casualties. According to the Russian side, it was carried out by remaining cells of illegal armed groups.

Pro-opposition and pro-Israeli sources immediately speculated that the attack may have been conducted by some Iranian-backed forces. Nonetheless, these speculations were not reinforced by any facts.

The Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) received at least 1,730 trucks loaded with military supplies from the U.S. after the formal defeat of ISIS in northeastern Syria last March, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights (SOHR) said on July 14.

According to the UK-based monitoring group, the last two shipments included around 280 trucks loaded with logistics and military supplies.

The US decision to continue providing the SDF with military supplies, including armoured equipment, is a demonstration that Washington still considers employing its proxies in some kind of open clashes with other actors involved in the conflict. Taking into account that the US already declared the defeat of ISIS, the only possible targets left are the Syrian government in central Syria and Turkey-led forces in northwestern Syria.

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 A recent slew of articles have hit international media in the wake of Botswana’s decision to lift its moratorium on trophy hunting.

Typically, the argument is that Botswana now has too many elephants, which have exceeded the country’s carrying capacity. Local communities that depended on hunting revenue and bushmeat now go without, reducing tolerance for conflict with crop-raiding elephants and other wildlife.

Moreover, trophy hunting only targets ‘surplus bulls’, so there’s nothing to worry about, and only a maximum of 400 will be killed in any given year. Oh, and don’t tell us what to do, you western armchair critics.

The truth does not support any of these premises.

Elephant poaching

Botswana, as is now clearly documented in the peer-reviewed literature, has an elephant poaching problem, not an overpopulation problem.

Between 2014 and 2018, the population has remained roughly stable at around 130,000 elephants. According to the latest continent-wide survey, the African savannah elephant population is estimated at 374,982 elephants, excluding South Sudan and Central African Republic.

Rowan Martin, veteran wildlife manager, quotes a figure of 541,684 elephants from the 2016 African Elephant Status Report (AESR). Of the remaining elephants, Botswana is home to the vast majority.

Martin is one of the many voices in favour of Botswana’s decision to lift the trophy hunting moratorium. He asserts that the suspicions that the Botswana government is doing so primarily to secure the rural vote in the upcoming October elections are vacuous.

However, it is clear that elephants are being reduced to a political football, caught between the views of its current president and his predecessor. It is a vote-catcher that could go horribly wrong. Martin has chosen to label arguments against elephant trophy hunting as ‘mud-slinging’ that insinuates that ‘native Africans’ can’t manage their own natural resources. This is a pity, as it detracts from the substance of the debate.

There are at least five myths that inform the rationale for reintroducing hunting. Rowan Martin and his followers believe that these are no myths. A brief response to each of Martin’s objections, in light of new research about elephant behaviour, follows:

Population

Myth: Botswana’s elephant population is exploding

Botswana’s elephant population numbered roughly 62,998 in 1995. Martin argues that the most accurate figure for a decade prior to that is between 30,000 and 40,000 elephants. The African Elephant Status Report (AESR) to which he refers puts the figure at 50,000 in 1990.

Martin is also of the view that the current figure of 160,000 quoted at the KAZA conference is accurate. But the AESR to which Martin himself referred puts the 2006 figure at 154,658, notes that it’s disputed, and estimates the 2015 figure at 131,626.

Martin takes issue with the widely accepted view that the Botswana population has been roughly stable between 2014 and 2018. It has clearly fallen since 2006, so it remains unclear why he thinks that Botswana’s ‘elephant populations are growing, not stable’.

It is also not clear what Martin means by the phrase that the ‘Botswana population is pumping out emigrants.’ Elephants are migrating into Botswana from elsewhere to escape hunting and poaching, hardly expelling them. The latest survey by Schlossberg, Chase and Landen (2018) has been lauded as one of the most rigorous scientific undertakings in this field, and it shows stable numbers at best alongside a growing poaching crisis.

The growing populations are humans and cattle, not elephants. Outside protected areas, desertification caused by cattle over-grazing is a problem that too often gets ignored in this conversation. The cattle industry is ecologically and economically costly but politically powerful. Water is also increasingly scarce, which will exacerbate human and elephant conflict. Hunting will not solve this problem; appropriate land use planning will.

Carrying capacity

Myth: Botswana’s elephants have exceeded the ‘carrying capacity’ of the landscape

Martin agrees with the oft-quoted figure of a carrying capacity of 54,000 elephants in Botswana. That equates to about one elephant for every three kilometres squared. This concept remains arbitrary and lacks relevance for large, unfenced wilderness landscapes.

But Martin continues to insist that these landscapes are akin to farms that must be managed to ensure as little variation as possible. Him and Ron Thomson have both lamented the loss of large canopy trees as a result of elephant ‘over-population’. But they haven’t responded to the science that shows the importance of inter-seasonal variation; elephants’ roles as ecosystem engineers; and the fact that there is no benchmark as to what a landscape should look like.

Martin dismisses the 24 authors of the above-linked Ambio article as ‘pseudo-scientists’. His criteria for determining what constitutes ‘pseudo-science’ is anything that contradicts his own experience or cited literature.

He similarly betrays himself when he argues that man ‘does not need “scientific criteria” in his aesthetic quest as long as he is practising adaptive management.’ The literature he cites in support of this is work produced by himself and Marshall Murphree.

Trophy standard

Myth: Hunting will solve the elephant population ‘explosion’

Martin argues that this myth is redundant because we know that trophy hunting only eliminates a small number of bull elephants each year.

But this misses the fact that the myth is one of the pretexts on which the re-introduction of trophy hunting has been rationalised. It also misses the deeper point that trophy hunting is likely to lead to population collapse, especially if it annihilates older bulls.

report by Martin, Craig and Peake shows a high and consistent ‘trophy standard’ in the 15 years leading up to 2010, but Martin’s appeal to it amounts to special pleading as there is no guarantee that such a standard will be maintained from 2019 onwards, especially given the notoriety of corruption in the industry. Nor does it mean that a high ‘trophy standard’ reflects good ecological management.

The quota numbers for some areas were a thumb-suck based on no science at all. But the primary reason why hunting will fail is that there are very few ‘trophy’ tuskers remaining – genetic depletion is real and scientifically documented. Martin ignores the figures about how few trophy bulls over the age of 35 are left in Botswana.

Furthermore, the evidence is now unequivocal that: ‘Male elephants increased their energetic allocation into reproduction with age as the probability of reproductive success increases. Given that older male elephants tend to be both the target of legal trophy hunting and illegal poaching, man-made interference could drive fundamental changes in elephant reproductive tactics.’

The reproductive success of a male elephant increases with age – there is no such thing as a ‘surplus’ bull that can be extracted as a ‘trophy’. Therefore, a combination of poaching and trophy hunting may well lead to population collapse or at least to undesirable lasting population changes.

Devolution of rights

Myth: Hunting will solve human and elephant conflict

Conservationists should generally be fully in favour of devolution of rights to local communities that are on the frontlines of conservation. Martin is right that status conferred is more important than benefits derived.

He contradicts this point by arguing that trophy hunting is an essential component of the system because of the added value it brings to communities. Many communities do not want to return to hunting, and no credible NGO working in Botswana thinks that a return to trophy hunting is wise.

Martin also asserts that the Botswana government called for tenders in previous hunting concessions (mostly in the Central Conservation Areas) but that no one wanted them. Had those concessions been granted, poaching would have been less likely to take root – presence counts for a lot in counter-poaching.

Martin fails to mention, however, that a large part of the reason no investor wanted those concessions is that the Botswana Tourism Organisation insisted that the land use be exclusively photographic and demanded substantial signature bonuses. But blindly insisting on photographic lodges in geographically unamenable areas lacks wisdom.

Self-drive tourism and mobile camps, brilliant options, were precluded as a use option even though it was frequently promoted in those concessions’ management plans. To argue that the hunters were right, after all, does not follow.

Poaching

Myth: Hunting moratorium led to more poaching

Botswana’s poaching problem only started to escalate just before 2017, three years after the hunting ban was imposed. Martin argues that the AESR puts ‘the inception of severe illegal hunting at around 2006.’

It’s not clear whether he means for Botswana or for the whole African population. But either way, that would clearly destroy the argument that hunting presence is necessary to ameliorate poaching. Hunting was at its peak in 2006.

Moreover, hunting presence in places like the Selous hardly countered poaching. To argue that hunters could do nothing about politically protected poaching gangs is an all-too-easy get-out-of-jail-free card.

Where Martin is right is that communities should be far more involved in land-use planning and rights devolution needs to be a priority. None of this means, however, that western trophy hunting is a sensible policy choice, especially given that the practice is morally abominable and ecologically unsustainable.

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Ross Harvey studied a B.Com in Philosophy, Politics and Economics at the University of Cape Town (UCT), where he also completed an M.Phil in Public Policy. At the end of 2018, he submitted his PhD in Economics, also at UCT. Ross is currently a freelance independent economist who works with The Conservation Action Trust.

Featured image is from The Ecologist

The Mad Corruptions of Trump Inc.

July 18th, 2019 by Jim Hightower

Where’s Shakespeare when we need him? Only the Bard of Avon could do literary justice to the tortured madness of Donald Trump, who fluctuates between petulant self-pity and weird self-praise.

His brags are especially weird because they usually involve achievements he hasn’t made. It’s as though his saying something makes it true — even though everyone except his most naive devotees can clearly see that he’s either hallucinating or lying.

In June, for example, at a rally launching his reelection campaign, he retrumpeted an old campaign promise to “drain the swamp,” assuring the adoring crowd that “that’s exactly what we’re doing right now.” Trump gilded the lie with this beauty: “We stared down the unholy alliance of lobbyists and donors and special interests.”

In fact, he brought that entire unholy alliance directly into the White House, the cabinet and every agency to create a corrupt government of,  by and for corporate plunderers. At least 230 corporate lobbyists have come inside the Trump Inc. administration. He also opened a luxury hotel right in the center of the swamp, just four blocks from the White House, so he and his family can extract high-dollar hotel payments from special-interest lobbyists wanting favors from the Trump regime of swamp critters.

But wait … didn’t The Donald make his political hires sign an ethics pledge agreeing not to lobby the agencies where they work until five years after they leave? Yes, but remember, Trump is a master at the Art of the Loophole, and his “pledge” provides ample room for an invasion of weasels, including an exception allowing former officials to lobby on agency rule-making. Do they think we have sucker wrappers around our heads? Rule-making is what agencies do! So, this gaping loophole frees Trump officials to sell their insider influence to corporate interests wanting to rig the rules against you and me.

At Trump’s vainglorious campaign rally, he also declared that “nobody has done what we have done in 2 1/2 years.” Sadly, that’s the truest thing he’s said.

News Alert! News Alert! This just in: Donald Trump has discovered homelessness in America.

News Update! News Update! Donald Trump says he has the solution to homelessness in America, points out that he’s already ended homelessness in Washington, D.C.

Once again, we can thank Fox News for its in-depth reporting, going deep into the furrows of Trump’s mind to dig out this startling presidential insight and achievement.

In a June interview by Fox TV sparklie Tucker Carlson, the president of the United States articulated his concern about so many Americans’ now living on the streets. Homelessness is “a phenomenon that started two years ago,” Trump explained to the clueless Carlson, calling the problem “sad.” Our billionaire president showed his usual grasp of history and social awareness by adding, “We never had this in our lives before in this country.”

Oddly, the Fox Man let this go without questioning it. Maybe he was dazzled by Trump’s next observation, analyzing why people live in the street: “Perhaps they like living that way,” posited our presidential son of privilege.

Whatever. The Donald proceeded to declare that it’s intolerable to have such homelessness in our rich country — not because so many poor people are suffering, but because businesspeople and shoppers face the indignity of having to walk past the homeless to get to their offices, banks, cafes, etc. As Tucker beamed credulously, Trump proceeded to offer his solution: simply outlaw those people from cluttering our sidewalks and streets. Then, The Donald royally declared that he “may intercede … to get that whole thing cleaned up.”

Indeed, he claims he’s tidied up homelessness before: “I had a situation when I first became president. We had certain areas of Washington, D.C, where (homelessness) was starting to happen. I ended it very quickly. I said, ‘You can’t do that.'” After all, Trump explained to the obtuse Fox interviewer, “When you have leaders of the world coming to see the president … they can’t be looking at that.”

It’s one thing to have a president who thinks “Out of sight; out of mind” should be an actual public policy. It’s another thing to have a president who’s clearly out of his mind.

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Populist author, public speaker and radio commentator Jim Hightower writes “The Hightower Lowdown,” a monthly newsletter chronicling the ongoing fights by America’s ordinary people against rule by plutocratic elites. Sign up at HightowerLowdown.org.

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During the past year there has been a deliberate assault on medical sanity by the Silicon Valley’s internet giants and popular social media platforms to abolish and censor voices and websites challenging the orthodoxy of the CDC’s vaccination policies.  Last March, the American Medical Association’s CEO James Madara sent personal letters to the heads of Amazon, Facebook Google, Pinterest, Twitter and YouTube “to do your part to ensure that users have access to scientifically valid information on vaccinations, so they can make informed decisions about their families’ health. We also urge  you to make public your plans to ensure that users have access to accurate, timely, scientifically sound information on vaccines.” For the AMA, “valid information” simply means that vaccines are completely safe and effective and the only means at civilization’s disposal for combating infectious diseases.

In 2015, the AMA publicly announced it endorsed the elimination of religious and philosophical exemptions from immunization. It is curious therefore to find that the Association’s Code of Ethics states, “Patient autonomy is the overarching ethical consideration that forms the core of informed consent.” Clearly the AMA abides by a double standard, but Association’s critics have never recognized the organization’s record as representing the public’s best interests. Instead it has a decades long history of being fully compromised by corporate interests and political influence out of Washington. And now it is again parroting the federal government’s efforts to establish a vaccine police state.

A month earlier, Democrat Representative Adam Schiff (image on the right) likewise wrote to the CEOs of Facebook and Google with similar demands. All the contacted companies have now complied with the AMA’s requests to expunge anti-vaccination content and erect the false idol of vaccine safety. The American Academy of Pediatrics has also sent written requests to large Silicon tech companies to confront what it calls “the spread of vaccine misinformation online.”  Increasingly, many more sites and publications climbing upon the vaccine wagon train. This week Huffington Post erased all content submitted by its contributing authors who questioned vaccine safety and efficacy. The nation’s leading newspapers, such as the New York Times and Washington Post, the major television networks, as well as liberal magazines and online sites such AlterNet and Mother Jones have frequently acted as CDC’s mouthpieces to ridicule the anti-vaccine parents with injured children and wrongfully accuse parents of vaccine-exempt children as enemies of public health.

Even public crowdfunding sites are joining the adrenaline-rush of pro-vaccine frenzy. Several months ago, Indiegogo reported it would no longer permit fundraising for anti-vaccination projects or what the company termed unscientific “health campaigns.”  Last year, the documentary Vaxxed 2, featuring parents with autistic children damaged from vaccines, raised over $86,000 on the Indiegogo site.  Likewise, the crowdfunding site GoFundMe has banned anti-vaccination content.

Following a CNN Business report that ridiculed Amazon for including films such as Vaxxed and We Don’t Vaccinate! on its Amazon Prime Video streaming service, the company quickly had them removed. More recently Vimeo, YouTube’s competitor, announced it will purge videos that provide the scientific evidence supporting the Supreme Court’s ruling in the case of Bruesewitz vs. Wyeth that vaccines are “unavoidably unsafe.” Vimeo attorney Michael Cheah argued in the company’s statement that “Content that falsely claims that vaccines are unsafe is at the forefront of an unfolding public health crisis.” Curiously, Vimeo has been a leading supporter of internet neutrality and sued  Trump’s FCC last year over its order to repeal the 2015 neutrality rules. Seemingly, Vimeo’s persona of free speech is simply a ruse.

The national campaign to black-out and silence efforts to bring to public light the scientific evidence that should make a rational person stop and think critically about the federal health agencies’ claims about vaccine safety and efficacy is well under way. And it is proceeding far more swiftly than we anticipated.

Even while researching this article, we have noticed the dramatic changes underway in trying to access truthful scientific references and analyses that challenge vaccinations. Therefore, we performed identical queries on several internet search engines, beginning with Google. On all queries, such as “measles outbreaks in vaccinated populations,” Google results produced a litany of pro-vaccine propaganda.  The top hits all led to federal vaccine information sites, shortly followed by Wikipedia.  On the other hand, the same queries on encrypted and non-compromised search engines, such as DuckDuckGo and StartPage, more readily brought up unfiltered references specific to our queries as well as actual peer-reviewed studies. And as we reported in a previous article, Wikipedia now walks parallel in goose-step with Google on matters of medicine and health.

The Wikipedia Foundation avoids taking any official position on vaccination. Rather, relying upon its public image as an open-source resource, these kinds of decisions are supposed to be left for volunteer Wikipedia editors to battle out. Nevertheless, even an elementary review of its many vaccine-related vaccine pages makes it clear that Wikipedia is grossly biased. After a  more thorough review, one is likely to arrive at the conclusion that the encyclopedia realistically serves as a propaganda arm of pro-vaccination advocacy groups, the federal health agencies and Big Pharma. It is not so much the textual content and references in the entries offered that is most worrisome; instead, the important scientific data contesting vaccine efficacy and safety is sorely missing. Consequently, Wikipedia inquirers are only receiving a small sliver of truth in return for numerous examples of Skeptical evangelicalism with the goal to indoctrinate the public to accept national vaccine mandates.

Federal and individual state efforts to pass bills that would enforce vaccination mandates have entered hyper-drive, especially after this year’s measles outbreaks. What is being concealed from the public, and very likely state legislatures as well, is that there is strong scientific evidence that many of those infected were fully vaccinated or that the vaccine’s measles virus was in part responsible for the outbreaks. Vera Sharav from the Alliance for Human Research Protection summarized the CDC’s full knowledge of the problem. It was not until 2017 that the Journal of Clinical Microbiology published a study that the CDC knew about individuals who contracted measles during the 2015 Disney Land outbreak that captured national news headlines. The study that showed the outbreak was “in part caused by the vaccine” was conducted by Rebecca McNall, an official at the CDC’s Division of Viral Diseases. The study reports:

“During the measles outbreak in California in 2015, a large number of suspected cases occurred in recent vaccinees. Of the 194 measles virus sequences obtained in the United States in 2015, 73 were identified as vaccine sequences.”

The CDC was fully aware of this finding but kept it hidden from the media and public for two years to enable a window of opportunity for states to mobilize their efforts to remove non-medical exemptions and pass vaccination mandate bills. An earlier groundbreaking study published in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, which included authors associated with the CDC and New York’s department of health, provided a case example showing that the 2011 measles outbreak in New York City originated from a fully vaccinated woman with vaccine immunity. The study’s conclusion was that the measles vaccine is capable of both infecting the  vaccine recipient and as well as infecting others. How many of the recent measles outbreaks this year can be attributed to the MMR vaccine?  Certainly, the CDC has this information, but  patient sequence data of measles cases is locked away.

Since the passage of draconian vaccine bills to eliminate religious and philosophical exemption in some states, health authorities have been alarmed at the rise in vaccine medical exemptions. The measles-mumps-rubella vaccine or MMR is perhaps one of the two most feared vaccines on the market, the other being Merck’s HPV vaccine Gardasil. Over the past ten years in the U.S., there has been one reported death from the measles, and it is unclear based on the medical history of the patient whether and how measles played a role in this death. A second person died of measles this year. Two deaths from a wild measles infection in over a decade. Yet as of March 31, 2018, there have been 89,355 reports of measles vaccine reactions, hospitalizations, injuries and deaths cataloged in the government’s Vaccine Adverse Events Reporting System (VAERS). This figure includes 445 vaccine-related deaths, 6,196 hospitalizations, and 1,657 severe disabilities.  A fundamental failure in the VAERS system is that it is a passive surveillance system that relies upon voluntary reporting of vaccine adverse events. The CDC acknowledges that the VAERS system is not ideal and only represents about 10 percent of all annual vaccine adverse reactions. Therefore, conservatively we are looking at approximately 803,000 injuries from the MMR vaccine alone. If we follow a Harvard study’s conclusion that only about 2 percent of vaccine injuries are reported, then the actual number is substantially higher. But you will not find any of this information on Wikipedia for the measles vaccine.

Pharmaceutical funded state legislators, such as California’s Senator Richard Pan, are now accusing pediatricians and doctors for this increase in vaccine medical exemptions. He and his supporters are now making the irrational accusation that doctors are simply satisfying parents’ legitimate vaccine fears. Therefore, Pan has embarked on a Stalinist crusade to even prevent clinical physicians and pediatricians from determining for themselves whether or not a person should be medically exempt.  On the other hand, we may want to consider another possibility that parents of children who were religiously or philosophically exempt have no other alternative but to request a medical examination from their doctors in order to determine whether their children are more highly susceptible to a potential vaccine injury.

Consider the list of medical conditions that are acknowledged to warrant exemption from the measles vaccine. These are listed in Merck’s product insert for its ProQuad MMR/varicella vaccine:  past experience of allergic reactions or anaphylaxsis from previous MMR vaccination, allergies to gelatin and neomycin (ingredients found in the MMR), persons on immunosuppressive drug therapy, pregnant women and women planning to become pregnant, persons with leukemia, lymphoma, blood dyscrasias, blood plasma and bone marrow disorders, febrile respiratory or active febrile infections, advanced cases of AIDS, and a family history of hereditary or congenital immunodeficiency condition. You will never learn this from Wikipedia, which only contraindicates the vaccine for pregnant women or nursing mothers.

Several examples stand out where pro-vaccine Skeptic editors on Wikipedia have intentionally distorted the history and medical science about vaccines and federal vaccination policy in order to twist the entries into blatant propaganda for private vaccine makers. Regarding Wikipedia’s entry for the National Childhood Vaccine Injury Act (NCVIA) passed by President Reagan in 1986, we read,

“Public health safety, according to backers of the legislation, depends upon the financial viability of pharmaceutical companies, whose ability to produce sufficient supplies in a timely manner could be imperiled by civil litigation on behalf of vaccine injury victims that was mounting rapidly at the time of its passage. Vaccination against infectious illnesses provides protection against contagious diseases and afflictions which may cause permanent disability or even death. Vaccines have reduced morbidity caused by infectious disease; e.g., in the case of smallpox, mass vaccination programs have eradicated a once life-threatening illness.”

This paragraph immediately appears to have little or no relevance to an entry about the NCVIA. This is a common public relations pitch that frequently pops up on Wikipedia to swoon users into a stupor and to reinforce faith in the vaccine regime and Skepticism’s extremism. The entry also  fundamentally ignores the more important message underlying Reagan’s signing of the bill; that is, the nation’s medical consensus at that time was that vaccines cause serious injuries and even death and rising lawsuits were crippling the vaccine industry’s bottom line.

Image result for dr. paul offit

The acellular or killed pertussis bacterium used in current DTaP vaccines has been shown to be far safer than its predecessor that relied upon a whole-cell pertussis toxin. On the other hand, it is also less effective. This has raised a recent debate as to whether to reintroduce a new version of the whole-cell, live pertussis vaccine that was responsible for numerous adverse reactions. This conversation continues despite the fact that Dr. Paul Offit (image on the left), one of the country’s most outspoken vaccine advocates and a hero among Wikipedia’s Skeptics, has discouraged the return of the whole-cell pertussis vaccine because of “safety concerns.”   Furthermore, recent whooping cough outbreaks have been occurring among fully vaccinated children. This is in part due to a new strain of pertussis bacteria that is resistant to current vaccines. Researchers in Australia, where the strain was first identified, suspect this might be a case of an infectious disease mutating because of over-vaccination.

The whole-cell vaccine was a horrible product.  Due to pharma companies’ large payouts for injury, developing and manufacturing vaccines was becoming too risky and no longer profitable for the amount of investment necessary. Peer-reviewed studies have concluded that the whole cell pertussis vaccine caused far more serious reactions than other vaccines including hypotonic/hyporesponsive episodes, febrile or afebrile convulsions, and brain inflammation (also known as encephalitis, encephalomyelitis and encephalopathy).  A 1981 U.S. study funded by the FDA and conducted at UCLA found that convulsions occurred as frequently as 1 in every 875 DPT shots.  The history of the vaccine’s damaging effects resulted in the 1982 award-winning television documentary DPT: Vaccine Roulette. The film in turn inspired the creation of the public advocacy organization the National Vaccine Information Center to push Congress to abandon the whole-cell vaccine and adopt the acellular pertussis vaccine, which the Japanese had developed in 1981 after Japan suspended the whole-cell vaccine due to the dramatic rise in neurologically damaged kids and vaccine-related deaths.

Knowing this history, Wikipedia’s misinformation about the whole-cell pertussis vaccine’s risks is in our opinion tantamount to medical malfeasance. It is contrary to volumes of evidence validating the contrary. The entry states,

“No studies showed a causal connection, and later studies showed no connection of any type between the DPT vaccine and permanent brain injury. The alleged vaccine-induced brain damage proved to be an unrelated condition, infantile epilepsy.”

In fact, Wikipedia references one source that suggests incidents of seizures after receiving the pertussis vaccine may be due to an unrelated “known or suspected neurological disorder.”

But even the safer DTaP vaccine is a leading contributor to vaccine injuries. As of June 2018, the VAERS database recorded 150,043 serious adverse reactions from pertussis-containing vaccines since 1990 and half occurring in children under age three. Among these injuries were 2,745 deaths, over 90 percent of those being small children. One can do the math as was done with the measles injury statistics in VAERS and get the more accurate figure for pertussis vaccine casualties. And again, as to be expected, none of this information based upon CDC sources is provided to Wikipedia users.

There are some indications that Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales is staunchly pro-vaccine. In his 2013 post on Quora, Wales opines that the British paper The Guardian reported that the number of British elderlies receiving the flu shot had declined to under 50 percent. “How many of the other 50 percent,” wrote Wales, “chose not to take it because they believed this hoax remedy [a reference to a popular homeopathic cold remedy] will protect them?” The extent to which Wales has been personally responsible for enabling federal health agencies and private vaccine companies, lobbyists and their public relations firms to monopolize and dictate pages related to vaccination issues is unclear. Nevertheless, the encyclopedia blatantly cherry-picks references that embellish pro-vaccination propaganda. It rejects outright scientific sources contrary to Wikipedia’s covert vaccine public relations.  And harsh criticisms against vaccine refusers are permitted without censor.  What is certain is that Wales is a loyal follower of the Skeptic movement and an ardent supporter of the Skeptic editors who control many health-related pages, particularly regarding non-conventional medicine. And the leading Skeptic voices advocating for national vaccine mandates, such Paul Offit, David Gorski, and Stephen Barrett, are frequently found as reliable references on Wikipedia’s pages.

The kinship between Google and Wikipedia has led to joint efforts to gather traffic statistics on both sites in order to establish a health monitoring mechanism. For example, the project Google Flu Trends “correlates searches for flu to local outbreaks” while simultaneously monitoring Wikipedia views of flu-related pages. During a flu season, users gain access to Wikipedia’s highly biased and distorted description of  the influenza vaccine, including its safety record and adverse effects. Wikipedia’s “Influenza Vaccine” entry makes no mention of the flu shot being the single vaccine still containing toxic levels of methylmercury or thimerosal. The entry’s list of adverse effects is sparse and limited to allergic reactions from the vaccine’s reliance upon chicken eggs as a culture medium, and Guillain-Barre Syndrome (GBS), an autoimmune disease that can cause paralysis of the limbs temporarily or permanently.

The Wiki page references CDC claims that “most studies on modern influenza vaccines have seen no link with Guillain–Barré.” This is contrary to several independent analyses of the government’s vaccine adverse reaction database conducted by Genetic Centers of America, MedCon Inc and IMUNOX confirming that GBS is a well-documented reaction to the flu vaccine. Nor is there any mention of the infamous 1976 flu vaccine debacle against the “swine flu” epidemic that never happened. Under President Ford, a Federally hyped flu scare resulted in almost 50 million Americans being unnecessarily vaccinated.  Rather than protecting the population from a new swine flu strain, the $137 million vaccination program produced an epidemic of GBS cases.  The flu itself killed only one person, a soldier at Fort Dix in New Jersey, the incident that had launched the panic in the first place. The aftermath of Ford’s fiasco was almost 4,000 claims for vaccine injuries, including over 500 cases of GBS and 1,384 lawsuits. A frightening fact Mike Wallace unearthed during a  60 Minute episode in 1979 was that the 1976 swine flu vaccine was never field tested prior to being launched upon the public. This should be a sharp warning about the lengths the federal government will go to appease the pharmaceutical industry by licensing poorly tested vaccines, such as Merck’s Gardasil.

In conclusion the only responsible and scientifically and warranted proposal to bring reliable and balanced facts to this public health issue is to conduct a four group study of children. Such a study would include a group receiving the current vaccine on the CDC immunization schedule. A second group would receive a scientifically valid inert saline placebo. A third group would receive no vaccine and a fourth group would be placed on a nutritional protocol designed to strengthen and enhance the body’s natural immune system in order to ward off infections.

The children would be tested every six months for three years. This should be conducted by independent researchers unaffiliated to the federal health agencies and private corporate interests, and would toxicologists, immunologists, pediatricians, neurologists, and gastroenterologists.  Until that time, the government, at the federal and state levels, the media and the scientific community will continue to make unsubstantiated claims with self-righteous certainty that vaccines are essential to public health, effective and safe.  And Wikipedia, as the number one propaganda cult for Skepticism’s scientific materialism, will continue to disseminate what we believe is dangerous and unfounded information.

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Richard Gale is the Executive Producer of the Progressive Radio Network and a former Senior Research Analyst in the biotechnology and genomic industries.

Dr. Gary Null is the host of the nation’s longest running public radio program on alternative and nutritional health and a multi-award-winning documentary film director, including The War on Health, Poverty Inc and Silent Epidemic.

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A recent issue of Air Force News revealed that a senior NZDF officer served a six-month posting at the Qatar base, placing New Zealanders at the heart of the main targeting and bombing centre in that region, writes Darius Shahtahmasebi.

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Last month the coalition government declared the end of New Zealand Defence Force deployments in Iraq. The announcement was silent, however, about the future of another deployment of New Zealand personnel, to a US military base in the Middle East that has attracted controversy thanks to its role at the centre of a large proportion of US bombing missions in the region.

The base is called the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) [under the auspices of US Central Command (CENTCOM) Forward Headquarters] and it is located at the Al-Udeid airbase in the small Persian Gulf nation of Qatar. Bombing missions that have been controlled from the base – where aircraft take off and land every 10 minutes, 24 hours a day – are implicated in large numbers of civilian casualties.

A recent issue of Air Force News revealed that a senior air force officer, Group Captain Shaun Sexton, served a six-month posting at the Qatar base; placing New Zealanders at the heart of the main targeting and bombing centre in that region. The presence of New Zealand staff at the base has been kept largely quiet by the New Zealand military before now.

Last month, the New Zealand government delivered its decision to withdraw NZDF personnel from Iraq by next year. But what of Qatar? A spokesperson for NZDF told the Spinoff that

“NZDF personnel based in the Combined Air Operations Centre (CAOC) operate under a separate mandate to the NZDF personnel in Iraq. This mandate has been approved until 2020.”

Whether they intend to maintain the postings to the Qatar base after 2020 remains unclear.

According to information released by NZDF in response to an Official Information Act request, there are five New Zealand personnel currently serving at the Al-Udeid Airbase. Two of the troops coordinate air tasking in support of the Combined Maritime Forces, Operation Inherent Resolve (Iraq and Syria) and the Resolute Support (Afghanistan) mission. New Zealand also has three personnel supporting intelligence functions within the US Central Command Forward Headquarters at the base.

NZDF confirmed that New Zealand personnel at the COAC work across all regional operations, including those in Syria, where the legality of US-led operations has been thoroughly questioned (although the NZDF states that its troops are not involved in combat operations). NZDF said that because the way the CAOC operates, it is not practical to delineate participation on a country-by-country basis.

The base was responsible for 8,713 air strikes (or weapons released) in 2018, 39,577 strikes in 2017 and 30,743 in 2016 (including both manned and unmanned aircraft).

Group Captain Shaun Sexton told Air Force magazine that “serving in the CAOC gives an amazing perspective of what is happening in the Middle East”.

He added:

“You truly get a birds-eye view, allowing fascinating insight into the politics and tensions in a key region of the world and into the employment of military effects, especially air power.”

In March 2015, a former chief of the operations division at the base, Lt Col David Haworth, told the Associated Press that

“what we are doing today would [not] be even remotely possible without the coalition partners.”

This included intelligence gathering.

According to Sexton,

“most of the people serving in the CAOC are from the United States Air Force. However, the other 15 nations in the coalition have a huge role to play.”

He continued:

“The contribution they make to the fight in terms of people and hardware is significant.”

A Stuff Circuit report last year suggested that NZDF personnel had been secretly operating at the CAOC at Al-Udeid since at least 2016.

Reports indicate that coalition aircraft flying out of the CAOC have been responsible for anywhere between 10% to 20% of sorties flown in Iraq and Syria during Operation Inherent Resolve. In addition, the airbase is the “nerve centre” of US-led air campaigns across the region, managing and directing air operations in not only Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan, but in 18 other countries.

Approximately 40% of all strikes in Iraq and Syria have been delivered by the B1 Bomber, an aircraft which has only been departing from the airbase at Al-Udeid.

The CAOC was pivotal in the US-led battle to retake Mosul from ISIS militants. During the early stages of the offensive, US-led airstrikes pounded Mosul every eight minutes.

However, an AP report found an appalling rate of civilian casualties during the operation. It reported that some 9,000 to 11,000 civilians had died, nearly ten times what had been previously reported in the media. This number did not take into account dead still buried underneath the rubble.

CAOC in Qatar (Source: US Air Force)

The Qatar airbase also has undertaken a crucial role in the Syrian war. The fight to retake ISIS’s de-facto Syrian capital city of Raqqa saw the US military raze approximately 80% of the city to the ground.

A Raqqan resident told Reuters that corpses were rotting on the street, with cats eating their bodies. This offensive was further mired by a special BBC report which found that the US military had made a secret arrangement to allow hundreds of ISIS commanders and fighters to escape Raqqa unscathed. Reuters subsequently reported that the number of escaped ISIS fighters numbered in the thousands.

The base also played a part in US President Donald Trump’s April 2018 bombing of Syrian government assets in response to an alleged chemical weapons attack, another controversial use of force.

The NZDF spokesperson said the organisation is confident its personnel on all operations are conducting themselves in accordance with both domestic and international legal obligations.

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This article was originally published on The Spinoff.

Darius Shahtahmasebi is a New Zealand-based legal and political analyst who focuses on US foreign policy in the Middle East, Asia and Pacific region. He is fully qualified as a lawyer in two international jurisdictions.

Twitter has become policy. It is platform, direction and determination.  It has served one particular person well, a hazy mechanism to fog up the lenses of law makers.  When President Donald Trump needs an air-wave filling distraction, a bilious splurge of interest in the blogosphere, he is always happy to lob a grenade of 280 characters or so.  His targets and recipients oblige in an unsettling dance. Speeches are made, press galleries filled and resolutions submitted to Congress.

Trump’s last round of fired remarks found their targets in Representatives Ilhan Omar of Minnesota, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts and Rashida Tlaib of Michigan.  They were not mentioned by name, but presumption can be all powerful. 

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democrat Congresswomen, who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all), now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is to be run.” 

Then came his none-too constructive suggestion:

“Why don’t they go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” 

While his remarks against “The Squad” are in characteristic poor taste, not to mention inaccurate (three of the representatives were born in the United States) they remain characteristic, brutish panto and all part of the boundless show that is Trumpism.  They are not designed to convert the unconverted or convince the unsure with rhetorical sharpness or insight.  Anti-Trump and pro-Trump lines are firmed, concretely paved for the next election.  The issue, till then, is merely to occupy space with venom and fury, to divide and hope that the house will fall when the votes are tallied.

Such space of distraction assumes a few forms, all ultimately lending false credibility to incendiary smatterings.  Words are broken down, assumptions unpacked. Were his words racist?  Yes, claim some.  Did he articulate a substantive vision?  Most certainly, go others.  (House Speaker Nancy Pelosi deemed them “xenophobic”.)  For Omar, Trump’s words are programmatic,

“a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of colour.  This is an agenda of white nationalists.” 

President Barack Obama’s chief election strategist David Axelrod, similarly sees a program, albeit encased in a trap, with Trump wanting “to raise the profile of his targets, drive Dems to defend them and make them emblematic of the entire party.  It’s a cold, hard strategy.”  The none-too-implicit suggestion here is that the quartet risk being hung out to dry come 2020 by the party strategists. 

In solidarity, the four representatives expressed their marshalled outrage, all the time attempting to give a sense of elevated fury to the garbage gilded twittersphere while denying its enduring relevance.  Omar fell for the laid bait on the issue of impeachment, claiming on Monday that “it is time for us to impeach this president” having “openly” violated his constitutional oath.  

The quartet managed to get up a House resolution, passed by 240 to 187 votes, condemning Trump for “racist comments that have legitimised fear and hatred of New Americans and people of colour”.  The resolution, for good measure, also praised the value immigrants had brought to the United States.  Trump ventured his own view.  “I don’t have a racist bone in my body.” 

The show delighted commentators dazzled by the fireworks.  It was seen as historic, because it was the first time in over a century a President had received such a vote of disapproval.  But it was true polarising fodder for the Trump administration, bound to inflict indigestion for anybody keen to seek a united stance. Division reigned; disorder prevailed and the representatives stuck to firmly etched party lines, with the exception of four Republicans who crossed the floor.   

Democrat Representative John Lewis, Democrat from Georgia, spoke of knowing racism when seeing it and feeling it “and at the highest level of government”.  Pelosi claimed that to not condemn Trump’s words “would be a shocking rejection of our values and a shameful abdication of our oath of office to protect the American people.” 

Representative Dan Meuser, Republican of Pennsylvania, was ill-tempered in response, insisting that the whole show had been a “ridiculous slander” which did a “disservice to our nation”. “What has really happened here is that the president and his supporters have been forced to endure months of allegations of racism.”   

Republicans slanted their attack on procedural improprieties, less on the nature of Trump’s words than the behaviour of their Democrat colleagues, who they regarded as impugning the motives of the President.  A failed effort was made to excise any suggestive words from the House Speaker’s record in accordance with the Jefferson Manual, a text authored by Thomas Jefferson in 1801.  Quaintly if revealingly, the manual states that “references to racial or other discrimination on the part of the President are not in order.”  Appalled by the bickering and disagreement, Representative Emanuel Cleaver II, Democrat of Missouri, banged the gavel and took his leave. “We just want to fight.”    

While the president versus squad show was boiling over, an arguably more significant resolution failed to gather the numbers.  Sponsored by Representative Al Green, Democrat from Texas, the measure seeking to impeach Trump in light of his comments on the four representatives, failed by 332 votes to 95.  Bigotry, argued Green, was “a high crime and misdemeanour.”   

The president, while publically condemning the exercise as “time consuming”, would have been heartened: the squabbling Democrats may well have been united in their rebuke of the president’s tweets, but such consensus was momentary.  In Pelosi’s words,

“We have six committees working on following the facts in terms of any abuse of power, obstruction of justice and the rest that the president may have engaged in”. 

With unwitting comedic effect, the House Speaker found herself claiming that to be “the serious path we’re on – not that Mr Green is not serious, but we’ll deal with that on the floor.”  And dealt with it they did, putting the pro-impeachment Democrats back into their crammed box.

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

As soon as Maryam Rajavi, her face beaming across a giant screen, finished speaking, the sky above hundreds of her supporters in the United States filled with red, white and green confetti – the colours of the Iranian flag.

Dressed in a glossy, dark blue suit and matching scarf tied loosely around her neck – a modest way to wear the hijab that went out of style decades ago in the Middle East – Rajavi had just accused the Iranian government of “terrorism and belligerence”.

“Iran Maryam, Maryam Iran,” the protesters chanted back, holding up posters of Rajavi in a show of admiration bordering on religious devotion to the leader of the Iranian Mujahideen-e Khalq, commonly referred to as MEK or PMOI.

Dressed in yellow, the MEK supporters were lively but disciplined, standing in military formations as they stared up at the screen outside the US State Department building in Washington.

They waved pre-Islamic Revolution Iranian flags, which feature a golden lion bandishing a sword instead of the name of God in Arabic script that adorns the country’s emblem today.

Critics have described the Iranian opposition group as a “totalitarian cult“, voicing concerns about its growing clout in the halls of power in the US capital. Only seven short years ago, the US State Department listed the MEK as a terrorist organisation – and the group’s sordid reputation is something Rajavi and her followers are acutely aware of.

At the 21 June demonstration, Rajavi even acknowledged it, accusing the MEK’s detractors of siding with the Iranian government and carrying out a “disgraceful demonisation campaign” against the group. That effort, she said in Farsi in the video, which was accompanied by English subtitles, “seeks to perpetuate the narrative that the people of Iran are better off with the theocratic rule of the mullahs”.

In her brief speech via video feed, Rajavi also thanked her “friends” in the US. Today, they include representatives, senators, ex-generals, former ambassadors and current policymakers of all political stripes.

In fact, two of Donald Trump’s right-hand men have been on the MEK’s payroll: National Security Adviser John Bolton and the president’s personal lawyer, Rudy Giuliani, have both charged hefty fees to speak at MEK rallies in the past few years.

MEK rally, Washington, 21 June (MEE)

‘US, US, take action; mullahs must get more sanctions,’ the protesters chanted (MEE/Ali Harb)

For their part, the MEK protesters, standing in front of the same building that labelled their organisation a terrorist group in 1997, were making demands of the US government: “US, US, take action; mullahs must get more sanctions,” they shouted. “#Free Iran” was spelled out in golden balloons in the crowd.

Beyond Giuliani and Bolton, lawmakers from both major American political parties have lauded the MEK as a pro-democracy movement despite its checkered past.

“It’s just ridiculous that they’ve been able to get the influence that they have had in the US,” said Barbara Slavin, director of the Future of Iran Initiative at the Atlantic Council, a Washington-based think-tank.

“I think that’s primarily due to the money … that they pay lobbyists to press their case,” she told MEE. “They’ve had some very influential people like John Bolton and Rudy Giuliani who have taken their side.”

Giuliani showed up at an MEK podium again this month, headlining a conference in Albania, where the dissidents are now based. The former New York City mayor described the group as a “government-in-exile”, saying it is a ready-to-go alternative to lead the country if the Iranian government falls.

“We don’t have to say, ‘What could be worse?’ We know that there is something much better,” said Giuliani, who has publicly entertained and backed the prospect of regime change in Tehran.

He went on to joke that Rajavi has more support than he does in the US Congress – and judging by the group’s influence among powerbrokers in Washington, he may be right.

Bipartisan support

Over the years, Senior House Democrats Eliot Engel and Brad Sherman, Republican Congressman Tom McClintock, GOP Senator John Cornyn, Senate Democrats Gary Peters and Jeanne Shaheen, and late Senator John McCain have all attended events linked to the MEK and spoken in its favour.

At the rally in Washington last month, both Democratic and Republican politicians praised the group’s struggle against the Iranian government. Since being removed from Washington’s list of foreign terrorist organisations in 2012, the MEK has taken advantage of its ability to operate legally in the country – and a growing hostility towards Iran – to court policymakers.

“Bashing Iran is good politics in certain circles… If there is a possible financial incentive as well, it becomes easy for a lot of lawmakers to sign up,” said Ryan Costello, policy director at the National Iranian American Council (NIAC), a Washington-based advocacy group.

Last month, key legislators and former officials delivered messages of support at the MEK gathering in Washington, including Senator Bob Menendez, the top Democrat on the Committee on Foreign Relations.

“Thank you for continuing to highlight the plight of Iranians under an oppressive, brutal regime,” Menendez said in a written statement that was read out during the demonstration. “I share your vision for a better future for Iran and all Iranians.”

The rally came less than 24 hours after Trump ordered, then cancelled, military strikes against Iran amid escalating tensions between the two countries. The New York Times reported at the time that Bolton was one of the top White House officials encouraging military action.

Bolton, a regular speaker at MEK gatherings, shares the group’s view that the Iranian regime cannot be reformed and instead must be toppled. At a MEK conference in Paris in 2017, a few months before he joined the Trump administration, Bolton told the crowd they would be celebrating the fall of the Iranian government before 2019.

“I have said for over 10 years since coming to these events that the declared policy of the United States of America should be the overthrow of the mullahs’ regime in Tehran,” he said at the time.

MEK, CODEPINK (MEE)

Anti-war protesters disrupted the MEK rally in Washington last month (MEE/Ali Harb)

Several speakers at last month’s rally also stressed that the MEK is the right replacement for the government in Tehran.

“We need a new regime, and that regime is you, the MEK,” Bill Richardson, a former governor of New Mexico and US ambassador to the UN from 1997 to 1998, told the crowd.

The Organization of Iranian American Communities (OIAC), a US-based, MEK-linked advocacy group, did not return MEE’s multiple requests for an interview about its lobbying efforts in the US.

Asked if the MEK has enough legitimacy to be an alternative to the Iranian government, as some of the group’s backers have said, Slavin told MEE: “No, not at all.”

But she added that not all the lawmakers who speak at MEK events are necessarily aware of the group’s history or supportive of the organisation itself.

“They figure out, this group is opposed to the Iranian regime,” Slavin said. “They don’t look at the fine print; they don’t examine the history of the group.”

MEK history

The MEK started in Iran in 1965 as an ideologically driven, self-proclaimed socialist and Islamist movement opposed to the dictatorial rule of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. It joined the ranks of the Islamic Revolution in 1979 but ran afoul of the uprising’s leader Ruhollah Khomeini shortly after Pahlavi’s fall.

After facing a deadly crackdown by Iran’s new authorities, the MEK embarked on a series of attacks on government officials and security forces. The group’s members, led by Maryam Rajavi’s husband, Massoud Rajavi, went into exile and eventually settled in Iraq in 1986. There, they sided with Saddam Hussein in his war against their home country.

The Iran-Iraq war raged from 1980 to 1988, as hundreds of thousands of people were killed and Iraqi forces openly used chemical weapons in battle. In a late stage of the war, MEK militants were at the forefront, leading a major incursion into Iranian territory, which was repelled by the country’s military in 1988.

After the war, the MEK remained in Iraq, and according to some of its critics, including NIAC, the group helped Iraqi forces brutally put down Kurdish and Shia uprisings in the early 1990s – accusations that the MEK rejects.

During the 2003 US-led invasion of Iraq that toppled Hussein, American forces bombed MEK bases in the country before reaching a ceasefire agreement with the group. Massoud Rajavi disappeared that year, and his whereabouts remain unknown, putting Maryam alone in charge of the organisation.

Starting in 2009, the Iraqi government became more openly hostile to the MEK amid growing Iranian influence in Baghdad. As a result, the US led efforts to get the group’s members out of Iraq and shutter their main base at Camp Ashraf outside the capital, where the group’s members were confined after the invasion.

Once out of Iraq, the MEK began to resettle in Albania in 2013. A year earlier, former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton removed the group from the State Department’s terrorist blacklist – 15 years after it was originally added – allowing its members to work openly in the US.

During the debate about legalising the MEK in the US, New York Magazine contributor Elizabeth Rubin presciently warned that the group may use its new status to get Washington into war with Tehran.

“If the group is taken off the terrorist list, it will be able to freely lobby the American government under the guise of an Iranian democracy movement,” she wrote in 2011, comparing it to the influence Iraqi exiles exerted on the US decision to invade Iraq.

“Recent history has shown that the United States often ends up misguidedly supporting not only the wrong exile groups in the Middle East, but the least relevant ones.”

Blacklisting and popularity

But not everyone views the MEK in a negative light, as anti-Iran hawks have questioned why the group ended up on the US’s terrorist blacklist in the first place.

Raymond Tanter, a political science professor who served on the White House’s National Security Council in the early 1980s, said he studied the history of the group and is convinced it is on the “right side of justice”.

In a recent interview with MEE, Tanter said former President Bill Clinton placed the Iranian dissidents on the list of foreign terrorist organisations in 1997 to appease Tehran.

“They were there because the Clinton administration wanted to do a favour for some of the so-called ‘moderates’ who had been elected in Iran,” he said.

“[Supreme leader Ali] Khamenei was making sounds as [if] he was willing to negotiate, but those sounds became very, very hollow and nothing came of that.” Tanter said he avoids using the term MEK because of its affiliation with the State Department’s blacklist, preferring to go with PMOI, which stands for the People’s Mujahideen of Iran.

Tanter told MEE that bipartisan support for the group stems mostly from the organising efforts of the OIAC advocacy group. He said the OIAC is composed of Iranian Americans from across the US, including many white-collar professionals.

Still, support in the halls of Congress does not necessarily translate into tangible influence on the ground. MEK’s critics say the group has no representation inside Iran itself, where the people loathe the movement because of its militant history.

“They don’t have a following in Iran; in fact, they are widely detested for siding with the regime of Saddam Hussein during the Iran-Iraq war,” Slavin said. “They have no constituency in the country.”

With a lack of independent reporting in Iran and the underground nature of MEK activities there, it is difficult to ascertain what level of support the group has among Iranians.

Tanter, however, said the MEK’s popularity can be measured by the Iranian government’s stated concern about it. Citing recent research by his students at Georgetown University, Tanter said the Iranian government incessantly mentions the MEK.

“Attention paid is an indicator of the significance of the PMOI and the larger NCRI have in Iran,” he said.

Slavin dismissed that argument, however, saying the Iranian government shows concern about the MEK because it views the group as a proxy for Saudi Arabia and Israel.

“The MEK has committed acts of terrorism in Iran; let’s be real about this,” Slavin told MEE.

Militant past

Seven years ago, NBC News cited two US officials as saying that Israeli-trained MEK operatives were behind the assassination of five Iranian nuclear scientists between 2007 and 2012. The group denied the report at the time, calling it a “sheer lie“.

Still, the MEK has been accused of being responsible for a string of attacks throughout its history.

In 2006, a US State Department report said the MEK carried out a series of deadly attacks in Iran, blaming the movement for a 1981 bombing in Tehran that claimed the lives of dozens of top Iranian officials, including Chief Justice Mohammad Beheshti. The group also openly conducted violent raids on Iranian embassies across the world in 1992.

Moreover, in the pre-revolution era in Iran, the MEK was behind “bombings and shootings directed against American military personnel stationed in Iran”, former US State Department official Daniel Benjamin wrote in a Politico column in 2016.

But that militant past is behind the MEK now, said Kazem Kazerounian, an engineering professor at the University of Connecticut who spoke at the pro-MEK rally in Washington in June. Kazerounian called the movement an “organised, legitimate resistance to the tyranny of the Iranian regime”.

“Currently, they’re not violent; they’re not a military organisation,” he told MEE. Kazerounian said members of the group are the “key organisers” of peaceful protests inside Iran, and added that the MEK’s ongoing struggle against the Iranian government gives it credibility.

“In the lack of possibility of having a democratic election – which actually we would like to get as soon as this regime falls – resistance is the basis of legitimacy of the [MEK-dominated] National Council of Resistance of Iran,” Kazerounian said.

Yet for a group that advocates gender equality and says it is the main pro-democracy Iranian faction, the MEK does little to hide its ties to the ultraconservative, autocratic government of Saudi Arabia.

MEK rallies often feature pro-Saudi speakers and sometimes even Saudi officials. For instance, Turki al-Faisal, a Saudi prince, former intelligence chief and key diplomat, addressed MEK rallies in Paris in 2016 and 2017, prompting accusations from Tehran that Riyadh supports terrorism.

Salman al-Ansari, president of the Saudi American Public Relations Affairs Committee, a pro-Riyadh lobby group in Washington, also spoke at the MEK conference in Albania on 13 July. He was repeatedly interrupted by cheers from MEK supporters as he bashed Iran in both Arabic and Farsi.

“I tell you clearly, as a Saudi citizen who loves and adores his country and an Arab proud of his Arabism and a Muslim honoured by his religion… we are all Ashrafi,” he said, paying tribute to the MEK’s base in Albania, known as Camp Ashraf-3.

Cult of Rajavi 

The Saudis are not the only foreign officials to attend MEK events.

Former Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper spoke at the group’s conference this month in Albania, where he was joined by dozens of legislators and ex-ministers from around the world, including former US Senator and Democratic vice-presidential candidate Joe Lieberman and parliament members from across the Middle East.

Most of the speakers denounced Iran and sang the praises of Maryam Rajavi and the MEK.

But Rajavi was not always so revered in Western capitals. In 2003, she was briefly detained in Paris along with dozens of MEK members on terrorism charges. A decade later, she released a 10-point plan for the MEK in which she pledged support for free elections, gender equality, abolishing the death penalty and ending Iran’s nuclear programme.

Still, one provision of the manifesto seemed to address lingering concerns among the MEK’s Western backers about the group’s communist ideology – vowing to respect private property and a free-market economy.

The 2006 State department report says the MEK mixes “Marxism, feminism, nationalism and Islam”. Indeed, the group’s original logo showcases communist symbols, including a sickle and red star, below a verse from the Quran that praises those who struggle – the mujahideen.

The group’s leftist beliefs may appear to make it a strange bedfellow of right-wing hawks such as Bolton and Harper. But Tanter, the political science professor, said he has spoken to many MEK members and found them to be to the “right of” US Senator Bernie Sanders, who describes himself as a Democratic socialist.

Ideology aside, rights groups have decried the MEK’s treatment of its own members. The movement requires complete devotion to the Rajavis and the organisation, and a 2005 Human Rights Watch report accused the group of asking its followers to divorce their spouses to be fully dedicated to the MEK.

HRW also said the group has committed violations “ranging from detention and persecution of ordinary members wishing to leave the organisation, to lengthy solitary confinements, severe beatings, and torture of dissident members”.

In 2009, Rand Corporation, a California-based think-tank, said the MEK started demanding “near-religious devotion to the Rajavis” from its members in the 1980s. In addition, the MEK forced its followers to remain celibate and cut ties to friends and relatives, the Rand report said.

And to make up for a drop in popularity tied to its alliance with Iraq’s Hussein, the group started recruiting Iranian economic migrants in the Middle East under false pretences – promising jobs and visas to Western countries, the report found.

Despite these reports about its activities, the MEK remains shrouded in secrecy – and its complex ideological foundation is hard to fully understand, Slavin said.

Put simply, she said: “It’s a cult.”

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African Free Trade Area Launched in Niger

July 18th, 2019 by Abayomi Azikiwe

On July 4 the 12th Extraordinary Summit of the African Union (AU) was held in Niamey, Niger to officially proclaim a project that is inherent within the notions of sovereignty and unity on the continent.

This African Continental Free Trade Area (AfCFTA) gathering took place in a nation in the western region which is endowed with uranium, one of the most strategic minerals in the world utilized for industrial, scientific and military purposes.

These contradictions within Niger related to its mineral wealth and the abject impoverishment of the masses of working class and rural people illustrates clearly the tremendous hurdles in which Africa must overcome to harness the economic and social potential of the AU member-states. The AfCFTA was announced at a previous AU Summit in Kigali, Rwanda on March 21, 2018.

Over the past 16 months some 27 governments have ratified the agreement while a total of 54 have signed the document mandating its establishment. The West African state of Ghana, once the fountainhead of Pan-Africanism during the 1950s and early to mid-1960s under the leadership of President Kwame Nkrumah, the foremost proponent of continental unification and socialism, was designated to host the secretariat for the AfCFTA.

Kwame Nkrumah and Haile Selassie I in Ethiopia at the founding of the Organization of African Unity, May 1963

In a statement released by the AU on July 7, it says of the structure for the new continental body that:

“The AfCFTA will be governed by five operational instruments, i.e. the Rules of Origin; the online negotiating forum; the monitoring and elimination of non-tariff barriers; a digital payments system and the African Trade Observatory. Each one was launched by different Heads of State and Government that included President Cyril Ramaphosa of South Africa, President Abdel Fattah El Sisi of Egypt who is current Chairperson of the AU; Mr. Moussa Faki Makamat, the Chairperson of the African Union Commission; and President Mahamadou Issoufou of Niger, who is the Champion of the AfCFTA.”

Nevertheless, analysts have pointed to prospective barriers for the implementation of the AfCFTA emanating from the legacy of slavery and colonialism. Africa remains divided into 55 separate states where intra-regional and class differences are a source of the conflicts which exists inside many countries.

These impediments are also related to the lack of adequate transportation and telecommunications infrastructure. In addition, the reliance upon western foreign exchange currency in the arena of trade provides incentives for the maintenance of the status-quo.

The AU statement issued on July 7 spoke to the current 1.2 billion people in Africa and projected 2.5 billion by 2050 as a source of strength related to the realization of sustainable economic growth. Six years ago at the AU, the Agenda 2063 was affirmed aimed at economic integration and the adoption of a single currency on the continent.

Estimates indicate that with the actual operationalization of the AfCFTA program the region would become a $3.4 trillion economic zone. The breaking down of borders and the lifting of tariffs would in effect facilitate internal African trade.

At present only 17% of trade in Africa is conducted with AU states. This can be contrasted with Asia where intra-continental trade stands at 59% and in Europe where it is 69%.

Moreover, the uneven development among various states must be transcended considering that countries such as the Republic of South Africa, the Federal Republic of Nigeria and Egypt encompass a sizable portion of the continental Gross Domestic Product (GDP). South Africa is by far the most industrialized state on the continent while countries such as Nigeria, Angola, Libya and Sudan are leaders in the extraction and export of petroleum.

Overcoming Dependency as a Prerequisite for Development

An indisputable historical fact is that Africa has been subjected to enslavement, colonization and neo-colonialism through the rise and dominance of imperialism since the middle decades of the 15th century. This cannot be overlooked in making any honest assessment of the capacity for genuine growth and development.

There has been significant growth within African economies since the beginning of the 21st century. However, the reliance on export-based economic planning is objectively related to the stated mandate of the AfCFTA. Until the challenge of continental integration is seriously addressed the much desired substantial take off will not materialize.

Today’s neo-colonial existence is definitely a by-product of the post-independence era crises of continuing underdevelopment, imperialist exploitation as well as the ongoing military and intelligence interference in the internal affairs of all AU member-states. The nation of Niger has been a focal point of Pentagon and French military engagement.

Through the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and the Paris-engineered Operation Barkhane the imperialist governments not only have troops stationed on Nigerien soil. There is the presence of elaborate intelligence-gathering mechanisms including the positioning of highly-sophisticated reaper and predator drones in Niger.  All across Africa, the Pentagon is in evidence under the guise of anti-terrorism and national security. Ultimately, Africa is responsible for its own security against reactionary elements which have their origins within the imperialist centers.

The above-mentioned AU statement on the launch of the operational phase of the AfCTFA emphasizes the link between security and development by stating:

“The Chairperson (Moussa Faki Mahamat of Chad) also highlighted the importance of peace building and security on the continent, adding that ‘it would be a delusion to talk of trade and development without peace and security.’ He also stressed that, for the AfCFTA to be effective, there is [the] need to open borders to other Africans. In this light, host President Mr. Mahamadou Issoufou (Niger), said the free trade area will tear down borders inherited from Africa’s colonial past and ensure full continental integration.”

Nevertheless, the presence of western military forces within AU member-states represents the antithesis of the progressive and revolutionary currents of Pan-Africanism emanating from the First All-African Peoples Conference (AAPC) of December 1958 in Ghana right through to the armed resistance phase to colonialism, the founding of the Organization of African Unity (OAU), the predecessor to the AU, and the burgeoning class struggle against a comprador elite propped up by international finance capital. Under the present circumstances, the imperialists are firmly positioned to stifle any economic development planning which views the dominance of the world capitalist system as the major obstruction to Africa making a decisive turn in the direction of its rightful trajectory towards continental unification based upon the interests of the majority of its people.

The Political Essentials of Continental Integration

Consequently, a struggle must be opened up against the role of Washington and Brussels where the base of African underdevelopment strategies originate. As many historical materialist theorists have articulated over the decades, the development of North America and Western Europe was carried out through the underdevelopment of Africa.

Fundamentally the character of U.S., British and European Union (EU) foreign policy has not changed since the period of the Cold War. Wall Street, London and the Eurozone states have no intentions of relinquishing their profit-making capacity where the foundation of the exploitative system is situated. The Pentagon, NATO and its auxiliary units are in Africa and other regions of the world to police the maintenance of existing structures in the international division of labor and economic power.

Of course there are other states and regional blocs vying for Africa’s attention in the contemporary world situation such as the People’s Republic of China, the Russian Federation and socialist-oriented states in Latin America. The U.S. ruling class has intensified its economic and military wars against these countries which provide an alternative form of development strategies for Africa and its people.

The attacks by Washington and its allies against the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the Republic of Cuba are a case point. These two states along with Bolivia are attempting to build their own societies where the well-being of the majority of its people remains primary. Consequently, there are consistent attempts at subversion, diplomatic isolation and economic destabilization by the current administration of President Donald Trump.

African Union 12th Extraordinary Summit to Launch the AfCFTA in Niger, July 4, 2019

As it relates to China and Russia, the twin political capitalist parties in the U.S. view the increasing influence of Beijing and Moscow as a threat to imperialist hegemony. The imposition of trade tariffs, sanctions and disinformation campaigns will undoubtedly lead to another world war. What will the AU member-states role going forward be in this escalating hostile geo-political situation which threatens a protracted international conflagration?

Capitalism and its global outgrowth of imperialism cannot provide any viable solutions for Africa’s development. The abolition of class society, the expulsion of western military interests from the continent and the broadening of trade policy inside and outside of Africa is the only way out of the foreseeable quagmire.

Socialism as an indispensable economic system to counter the imperialist states requires the organization and mobilization of the proletariat, farmers, youth and revolutionary intelligentsia centered on a program of immediate integration and unification. The rising problems associated with imperialist militarism, the potentially calamitous effects of climate change and its concomitant exigencies related to the acquisition of sustainable energy sources, clean water supplies, people-centered agricultural production, guaranteed healthcare and quality education requires the attention of all serious African organizations.

AfCFTA can only be realized when the full weight of the masses is thrown towards its enactment. There is no substitute for the creative genius of the people in their quest for total freedom and social justice.

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Abayomi Azikiwe is the editor of Pan-African News Wire. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research. 

All images in this article are from the author

Selected Articles: The Race for the Domination of Space

July 18th, 2019 by Global Research News

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Western Intellectuals Freak Over ‘Frankenstein’ China

By Pepe Escobar, July 18, 2019

The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.”

Why the Canadian Government Is Confronting Venezuela

By Arnold August, July 18, 2019

Since the attempted U.S. coup against Venezuela on January 23, backed by the Lima Group of which the Justin Trudeau government is an active member, Canada’s corporate media have joined in a chorus of hate and disinformation against the Bolivarian Revolution, with the criticism focusing on Nicolás Maduro, the country’s constitutionally elected president.

Korea-Japan Trade Plus War: Where Are You Going Mr. Shinzo Abe?

By Prof. Joseph H. Chung, July 18, 2019

Right after the G20 Conference (28-28 June 2019) in Osaka, Japan,Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan declared the beginning of trade war against South Korea. It was indeed an irony that Abe was the host of the Conference organized specifically to restore free trade system in the world.

The Race for the Domination of Space

By Manlio Dinucci, July 18, 2019

While nuclear disarmament remains on paper, the possibility of proliferation escalates, as does the risk that the arms race will be run increasingly on the qualitative level. This was confirmed by the announcement made, on the eve of the 14 July parade, by President Macron himself – in September, France will create a new National Command for its Military Space Force, with a primary financing of 3,6 billion Euros over 6 years.

Support MH17 Truth: Machine Gun-Like Holes Indicate Shelling from a Military Aircraft. No Evidence of a Surface-to-Air Missile Attack.

By Prof Michel Chossudovsky, July 17, 2019

As we recall, the alleged role of Russia in bringing down the plane was used as a justification to implement the economic sanctions regime against Moscow. Although not explicitly mentioned by the Dutch investigators, Moscow remains the “main suspect” in this twisted and fraudulent investigation, which will no doubt be the object of a new gush of media lies and distortions. Moscow has expressed its disagreement.

Reopening of Pakistan’s Airspace: A Bad Omen for India? Implications for Iran and Afghanistan

By Andrew Korybko, July 17, 2019

The reopening of Pakistani airspace to civil aviation was timed to coincide with PM Khan’s upcoming trip to the US, which is an extremely bad omen for India because it suggests that the resumption of its Afghan air corridor across Pakistani territory might be compensation for the US lifting its sanctions waiver on Chabahar…

It’s “Un-American” to be Anti-Free Speech: Protect the Right to Criticize the Government

By John W. Whitehead, July 17, 2019

If I didn’t love this country, it would be easy to remain silent. However, it is because I love my country, because I believe fervently that if we lose freedom here, there will be no place to escape to, I will not remain silent.

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If you didn’t know it, you would think the British establishment had been deliberately rocking every boat possible to ensure a no-deal or hard-Brexit from the outset. From David Cameron’s so-called ‘miscalulation’ to Theresa May’s guaranteed failure to produce a deal. From ministers threatening business leaders for speaking out about Brexit to the Tory donors colluding over a hard-Brexit plan. The reports continue to emerge on the same theme – that Britain is casually strolling towards leaving the largest trading bloc in the world without demonstrating much concern for its consequences. It’s as if we just ditched a relationship because we were already in a better one somewhere else.

There was no Brexit plan

European Commission chief Frans Timmermans has ridiculed U.K. efforts to negotiate Brexit — likening them to “Dad’s Army,” a classic British TV sitcom about hapless would-be soldiers during World War II. In an interview with the BBC’s Panorama program, due to be broadcast this Thursday evening, the Commission First Vice President singled out David Davis, the first Brexit secretary, in particular for his infrequent trips to Brussels and his “grandstanding.”

Timmermans also said yesterday –

And then the first time I saw public utterances by David Davis and I saw him not coming [to Brussels], not negotiating, grandstanding elsewhere I thought: ‘Oh my God, they haven’t got a plan, they haven’t got a plan. That was really shocking frankly, because the damage if you don’t have a plan — you know, we see it — time’s running out and you don’t have a plan, it’s like Lance Corporal Jones — you know, ‘Don’t panic, don’t panic’, running around like idiots.”

In June last year, a Financial Times piece covered the news that David Davis had spent just four hours in Brexit meetings with European counterparts. The FT (June 29th 2018) said – “the lack of political engagement was cited by EU leaders on Friday as they rebuked the UK for slow progress on Brexit. In a joint summit statement, they insisted on “the need for intensified efforts” and warned that there had been “no substantial” advances on the vexed issue of the Irish border.”

Mr Davis met Michel Barnier, the EU lead on the talks, only three times in the first half of 2018 for high-level political discussions. Meetings between the two principals lasted on average just 40 minutes a month since the start of the year.

Now we are waiting for the UK white paper,” Mr Barnier said at the same time last June. “And I hope it will contain workable and realistic proposals.” He added: “Time is very short.” An acceptable paper has not materialised.

Brexit ‘deal is dead’

In the meantime, U.K. Brexit Secretary Stephen Barclay dismissed claims he told EU Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier the withdrawal deal is “dead” during an angry exchange in Brussels last week. The Times reported the pair had a tense meeting over how the Brexit issue could be resolved by the next prime minister.

He told Barnier that the Withdrawal Agreement was dead — not once but five times,” a senior EU diplomat told the paper. “If this is what is coming then we will be heading for no-deal very quickly.

It is also interesting that Barclay has suggested the government could compensate sheep farmers if they have to slaughter flocks after a no-deal Brexit, car manufacturers be awarded compensation if they are hit with a 10 per cent tariff following a no-deal departure and that the U.K. would take a “continuity approach” to fishing waters after a no-deal.

Barclay also said that Theresa May is meeting with car manufacturers this week, adding: “We would also have to look at what support we can give to the industry and there are various computations of that.” But anti-Brexit group Best for Britain said any compensation for car manufacturers following a no-deal departure would have to be worth more than £25 billion.

Financial markets unprepared

From the City of London, it is now reported that the increasing prospect of a No Deal Brexit is prompting new concerns that there are still ‘substantial’ regulatory gaps between the EU and UK in parts of the financial services sector.

In a report published on Tuesday (16 July), the Association for Financial Markets in Europe (AFME), an industry lobby group, warned that

while a very substantial amount of work has already been undertaken to mitigate risks by both firms and regulators, a no-deal Brexit is likely to have a significant impact on the financial services sector and regulatory and operational challenges remain.”

The UK’s financial services industry remains one of its most important economically, and the City of London is comfortably Europe’s largest financial services centre.

Fears that the UK is edging closer to a No Deal Brexit have prompted a fall in the value of the pound to its lowest level in more than two years this week.

Prison riots anticipated

In addition, if a no-deal Brexit does happen as promised by both Tory leadership contenders, another report, which was written in January but only just published, warns that prison riots over food and medicine shortages are likely. The report entitled – “Successful mitigation of risks of EU Exit,” was not properly redacted by officials, meaning that sections intended to be cut from the text released publicly could still be read.

The improperly redacted sections laid out that Ernst & Young would work with the Ministry of Justice and other areas of government to push forward contingency plans but the report said:

Not progressing these actions plans could have severe consequences for MoJ Operations, e.g. unrest in prison because of undersupplying of foods or medicines.”

Former Justice Minister Phillip Lee said:

“No one voted for unrest in prisons, shortages of food supplies or any of the other indignities that could result from a disastrous no deal. This is yet another example of how the Brexit being delivered is a million miles away from the one that was being promised in 2016.”

Shadow Justice Secretary Richard Burgon said:

“This shocking revelation is yet more evidence of the threat a no-deal Brexit poses to our justice system. From ending access to the European Arrest Warrant to our prisons being up for grabs by American corporations in a post-Brexit U.S. trade deal, it is clear that a no-deal Brexit risks further damaging our justice system, which has already been weakened by nearly a decade of cruel Tory austerity.”

All of this leads the impartial onlooker to a view that Brexit is going to be very costly to the economy as promises that economic output will improve through leaving the EU trading bloc have yet failed to be supported by economic experts (leaving aside opaque right-wing think tank reports) or any government advisors. The much-lauded trade deal with America that Brexiteers continue to look towards as the ultimate prize for their efforts has just been given yet another blow after an unreported and extensive 2018 cross-Whitehall study of the costs and benefits of Brexit were published. It estimated, in its own words – that a US free trade agreement would increase UK GDP by only 0.2 per cent and even then only after 15 years, a tiny fraction of the 2 to 8 per cent costs of Brexit.

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Trump: America’s “Racist-in-Chief”

July 18th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Racism defines Trump’s private and public life. He falsely said “I am not a racist.” 

“I’m the least racist person you” will ever meet is belied by his unacceptable Trump Organization practices, his hostile actions against unwanted aliens of the wrong color or ethnicity, his hostility toward Muslims from the wrong countries, and his rage against four Dem congresswomen for justifiably criticizing him.

In 1973, the Justice Department sued Trump Management for discriminating against black renters he wanted excluded from properties the firm managed.

The suit claimed that employees were ordered to tell black lease applicants that no apartments were available.

A 1978 DOJ suit followed for breaching terms of the earlier settlement. He and his company dodged a bullet both times to the detriment of people who were harmed.

In 2011, he became a prominent Birtherism proponent, falsely claiming Obama was born abroad, thus serving illegally as president.

He falsely claimed wrongfully accused, convicted, and later exonerated Black and Latino teenagers were guilty of raping a white woman in the notorious 1989 Central Park jogger case — the crime confessed to in 2002 by an imprisoned rapist.

During his 2016 presidential campaign, Trump maintained that the exonerated victims of injustice were guilty, calling a NYC $41 million false arrest settlement “a disgrace.”

At the onset of his 2016 presidential campaign, he raged against Mexican immigrants, vilifying them collectively, saying:

“They’re bringing drugs. They’re bringing crime. They’re rapists, adding: “And some, I assume, are good people.”

Citing fake data, he accused blacks and Latinos for most killings of white Americans, linking them to violent crime in public remarks.

He called for removing a Mexican-American judge from the bench because of his ethnicity. He called El Salvador, Haiti, and African nations “shitholes.”

A former Trump Castle/Atlantic City casino employee said when he “and Ivana (entered the premises), the bosses would order all the black people off the floor.”

In June 2019, the Atlantic published “An Oral History of Trump’s Bigotry” — revealing his racist practices and temperament in detail.

On July 14, he called for four Dem congresswomen of the wrong color to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places” they came from.

Three of the four were born in the US. Separately, he tweeted:

“So interesting to see ‘Progressive’ Democratic Congresswomen who originally came from countries whose governments are a complete and total catastrophe, the worst, most corrupt and inept anywhere in in the world (if they even have a functioning government at all) now loudly and viciously telling the people of the United States, the greatest and most powerful Nation on earth, how our government is be run.”

His  venom was unleashed against Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Rashida Tlaib, and Ayanna Pressley.

Time and again, he proves an embarrassment to the office he holds. He’s an unapologetic white supremacist racist, war criminal, Zionist ideologue, predatory corporatist — surrounded by fascist extremists influencing his policies.

Pressley slammed his regime’s “callous, chaotic, and corrupt culture,” adding:

“I will always refer to him as ‘the (White House) occupant’ as he is only occupying space. He does not embody the grace, the empathy, the compassion, the integrity that that office requires.”

“Despite the occupant of the White House’s attempts to marginalize us and to silence us, please know that we are more than four people.”

“We ran on a mandate to advocate for and to represent those ignored, left out, and left behind.”

“Our squad is big. Our squad includes any person committed to building a more equitable and just world, and that is the work that we want to get back to…(W)e will not, be silenced.”

Omar slammed Trump for “openly violating the oath he took to the Constitution of the United States and the core values we aspire to,” adding:

“To distract from that, he’s launching a blatantly racist attack on four duly elected members of the United States House of Representatives, all of whom are women of color. This is the agenda of white nationalists.”

Ocasio-Cortez said

“(s)adly, this is not the first nor will it be the last time we hear disgusting, bigoted language from the president. We know this is who he is.”

Tlaib said

“(d)espite many attempts to distract us, I remain focused. We remain focused on holding him accountable to the laws of this land and accountable to the American people. I urge House leadership and many of my colleagues to impeach this lawless president today.”

Trump is symptomatic of racist, belligerent, hostile to the rights of ordinary people everywhere America from inception — its ruling authorities serving privileged interests exclusively, the way it’s always been.

American exceptionalism, the indispensable state, moral superiority, and rule of the people don’t exist.

Increasingly totalitarian plutocracy, oligarchy and kleptocracy define how the nation is governed — a fantasy democracy from inception, never the real thing, today a menace to everyone everywhere.

Majority undemocratic Dems are as hostile to what just societies hold dear as Republicans.

No matter which right-wing of the nation’s war party rules, its war on humanity rages at home and abroad with no prospect of world peace and governance of, by and for everyone equitably.

That’s the dismal state of today’s America, a nation increasingly unfit and unsafe to live in.

Whoever succeeds Trump in 2021 or 2025 may be worst than the incumbent. That’s the dismal reality of the state of the nation.

No profiles in courage are permitted to serve in its highest office or congressional leadership positions — the way all plutocratic, oligarchic, repressive states are run.

Far and away, the US represents the greatest threat to planet earth and all its life forms — their survival threatened by its rapaciousness.

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Award-winning author Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected]. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG)

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

http://www.claritypress.com/LendmanIII.html

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

Featured image is from Elijah J Magnier

Former President Rafael Correa’s claim that Julian Assange abused his political asylum in the Ecuadorian Embassy in London to influence the US’ 2016 elections and his publicly proclaimed admiration for Hillary amount to nothing less than the completion of America’s quest to co-opt the country’s patriotic opposition and ensure the continuance of its influence irrespective of whoever wins the upcoming 2021 elections there.

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Former Ecuadorian President Rafael Correa surprised his supporters across the world earlier this week by telling CNN that Julian Assange abused his political asylum in the London Embassy in a way that influenced the US’ 2016 elections. He elaborated that Assange was engaging in “manipulation” by not publishing any compromising information on Trump, and then even proceeded to praise Hillary by proudly proclaiming that “I am way closer to Hillary Clinton than Trump. I know Hillary, I admire her.” The ex-leader’s words were a shock because he had previously cultivated a reputation as an anti-American leftist and earlier decried his successor’s decision to revoke Assange’s asylum as “a crime that humanity will never forget“, which is at extreme variance with his newly revealed personal admiration for Hillary and what he just said about the Wikileaks founder.

One would be forgiven for thinking that Correa sold out to the US, which might actually be more than just reactionary speculation upon further scrutiny. He’s currently living in self-imposed exile in Brussels to escape what he claims are the politically motivated charges against him pertaining to the kidnapping of an opposition lawmaker in 2012. From his base in the EU capital, he’s remained a powerful symbol of the patriotic opposition to President Lenin Moreno, and a collection of allied parties under his influence performed pretty well during March’s nationwide local elections. This sets them up for a possible win in the upcoming 2021 general elections and could possibly result in a reversal of the many pro-American policies of the incumbent government, unless, of course, the patriotic opposition is co-opted by Washington before that happens.

Correa told RT last summer that his political opponents want him dead, which is why they unsuccessfully tried to seek his extradition from the EU last year, so there’s evidently serious pressure being put upon him. The current Ecuadorean government is vehemently pro-American, so it can be extrapolated that the extradition request was an extension of Washington’s will at the time. Being based in Brussels, which itself is mostly subservient to America, Correa is never truly safe if the US really wanted him dead. It can’t be known for certain, but the possibility can’t be ruled out that American agents somehow or another got to him and compelled the leftist leader to publicly denounce Assange on CNN while also scandalously singing Hillary’s praises.
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That scenario would explain his unexpected statements that are quite out of character with the Correa that the world thought they knew, which in turn would strongly imply that the US has succeeded in its quest to co-opt the country’s patriotic opposition in order to ensure that continuation of American influence there after the 2021 general elections. This operation might have been part and parcel of Trump’s “Fortress America” vision of restoring the US’ unrivaled hegemony in the Western Hemisphere by hook or by crook, whether through “constitutional coups” like what his predecessor carried out in Brazil or via Hybrid Wars like the ongoing one in Venezuela. Should that be the case, then it would mean that Ecuador will remain within the American orbit regardless of the outcome of the next election, which would kill its “Citizens’ Revolution” once and for all.

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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Top 10 Facts About Cell Phones and Wi-Fi

July 18th, 2019 by Environmental Health Trust

1. All Cell Phones And Wireless Devices Emit Radiation.

Every wireless device is actually a two-way microwave radio that sends and receives a type of non-ionizing electromagnetic radiation called radio frequency radiation RF – EMF. This machine-made radiation is millions of times higher than the natural electromagnetic fields (EMFs) our grandparents were exposed to. Numerous peer reviewed published research studies shows that these made-made pulsed electromagnetic frequencies cause adverse biological effects  and are very different than the natural electromagnetic fields that have existed in the environment for years. Research on humans has found an association between cell phone use and  serious effects such as brain cancer, headaches, damage to the brain and immune system. Yale studies found that cellular radiation exposure during pregnancy led to increased hyperactivity and memory problems in offspring.

2. Our Brains And Bodies Are Penetrated By This Radiation.

When we hold a cell phone against our head to talk, the radiation from the phone moves into our brain. Likewise, when we use a wireless laptop, the radiation penetrates into our abdominal region, chest area and brain.According to the International Agency for the Research on Cancer:

“the average radio frequency radiation energy deposition for children exposed to mobile phone RF is two times higher in the brain and 10 times higher in the bone marrow of the skull, compared with mobile phone use by adults”.

(Read it on page 44 of the IARC Monograph on Radiofrequency Fields)

Multiple research studies report cell phone radiation penetrates more deeply into children’s brains (Fernandez-Rodriguez 2015 , Fernández 2015, Mohammed 2017) in comparison to adults.

Research also has found that radiation from tablets penetrates more deeply into children’s brains (Ferreira 2015.)   A 2018 study that considered the radiation dose into the brain of teenagers found that teens who used cell phones up to their head had decreased memory performance on researchers tests.

3. Cell Phones And Wireless Devices Emit Radiation Constantly, Even When You Are Not Talking Or Using The Phone.

A powered on cell phone is always “checking in” and maintaining a connection to the nearest cell tower by sendsintense bursts of radiation several times per second. Likewise, a wireless-enabled laptop, tablet or other device is always “checking in” with the nearby router or a network base. These “check ins” are radiation emissions—happening several times per second, and whether or not a connection is successfully established.Medical doctors have written many letters to schools calling for administrators to reduce exposures to this radiation in schools.  Harvard doctors have published research linking electromagnetic fields to autism.

4. Every Wireless Device Has Fine Print Instructions Buried In Its User Manual That Specify A Distance Between The Device And User That Should Not Be Surpassed.

For example, most cell phone manuals state the phone should be held at specified distance (often around 5/8th of an inch) from the body. If you look in the user manual for your DECT cordless home phone, wireless laptop or printer, it will state that the device should be at least 20 cm (approximately 8 inches) away from the body to prevent “exceeding FCC radiation exposure limits”. These instructions are in the user manuals because cell phones and wireless devices are tested for user radiation exposures at those specific distances.

In other words, if you are using a laptop on your lap, you are exposing yourself to untested radiation emissions that could exceed the radiation levels our government regulations presently allow. When you use a device closer than the manufacturer’s distance instructions, you risk exposing yourself to radiation levels that our federal government understands can cause sterility, brain damage and tissue damage. Learn more about the fine print warnings on various devices here.

5. These Fine Print Instructions DO NOT Protect You From All Health Effects.

The instructions buried in your manual are not safe enough. Even if you follow these instructions, you risk your health. Note: radiation exposure at the specified distances is much higher than zero. Accumulating research now shows a myriad of health effects occur at levels far far below (literally tens of thousands times lower than) government regulation limits. Wireless devices were not adequately tested before they came on the market.
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6. Research Shows Low Levels Of This Radiation Impact The Brain And Reproductive System.

Wireless radiation has been shown to change brain function even at levels hundreds of thousands of times below federal guidelines. In 2011, Dr. Volkow’s NIH research showed that the brain increased glucose metabolism when exposed to cell phone radiation. Dr. Suleyman Kaplan has published multiple research studies showing damaged brain development in the offspring of prenatally exposed test subjects. Significant research shows that wireless exposures decrease and damage sperm and that prenatal exposure can alter testis and ovarian development. These are just a few examples from a large body of accumulated science which shows effects from cell phone and wireless radiation.
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7. Radiation Emitted By Cell Phones And Wireless Is Officially Linked To Cancer.

In 2011, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer first classified cell phone and wireless radiation as a “class 2 B Possible Human Carcinogen” based on these research studies that showed long-term users of cell phones had higher rates of brain cancer on the side of the head where they held the phone.The United States National Toxicology Program completed a $30M study that found “clear evidence” of cancer in male rats exposed to long term low level radio-frequency radiation.  Due to these findings, several scientists have published  that the weight of current peer reviewed evidence supports the conclusion that radiofrequency radiation should be regarded as a human carcinogen.

8. As The Evidence Linking Wireless Radiation To Cancer Has Significantly Increased Since 2011, Now Scientists State That Cell Phone Wireless Radiation Is A Human Carcinogen.

In 2016, a major US government study found cell phone radiation caused increased cancers (brain and heart nerve) in rats exposed at low levels for two years. The results were stunning because the cancers the rats developed are the same type humans are developing after long term cell phone use.

Furthermore, since 2011, new research studies have been published linking wireless radiation to cancer. CERENAT (a case control national study in France) again showed a statistically significant association between glioma (brain cancer) and long-erm cell phone use. Another study out of Jacobs University (which replicated previous study results) showed that RF acted as a tumor promoter. The study details in its conclusion how, “Numbers of tumors of the lungs and livers in exposed animals were significantly higher than in sham-exposed controls. In addition, lymphomas were also found to be significantly elevated by exposure.”

In light of this published science, several World Health Organization experts are stating that the evidence has now substantially increased. Dr. Anthony B. Miller has testified  on the increased evidence, and he and colleagues have written several published papers detailing their opinion and in 2018 he was lead author on a published literature review concluding that cell phone wireless radiation is a human carcinogen. Scientists from Israel researching cancr in radar operators also concluded that the evidence indicates radiofrequency can cause cancer (Peleg 2018.) Dr. Hardell and colleagues have long published papers concluding that that wireless “should be regarded as human carcinogen requiring urgent revision of current exposure guidelines.”

9. Solutions Exist: Hundreds Of Scientists Worldwide Recommend Taking Action To Reduce Exposures To Wireless Devices Because Of The Serious Health Effects From These Devices.

In 2015, a large group of scientists and medical doctors signed onto a formal Appeal to the United Nations and the World Health Organization, calling on them to take immediate action on this issue. This Appeal is now signed by over 250 experts and is published in the International Journal of Oncology.In 2014, a group of U.S. physicians, including the Chief of Obstetrics at Yale Medicine, presented scientific studies at the  launch of the BabySafe Project, issuing specific recommendations to pregnant women on how to decrease wireless exposures in order to decrease risks to babies’ brain development. We do not have to give up our technology but we can make smarter choices about the way we use it. Every person can easily decrease exposure to this radiation by making simple changes every day.

10. Government Regulations Are Outdated And Antiquated.

In the United States, the last review for radio frequency limits was in 1996, and the reality is that these are limits are based on research from the 1980s. Many countries are using guidelines developed by the IEEE or ICNIRP—guidelines that have remained unchanged for decades. Those guidelines do not consider the more current science showing harm. Thankfully other countries – over twenty countries- are enacting protections to reduce public exposure to  this radiation and have radiation limits far lower than the FCC and ICNIRP. Some have banned Wi-Fi in classsrooms, other have banned cell phones made for young children and others have cell tower limits 100x lower than ICNIRP.Regulations are antiquated because they have not kept pace with the manner in which consumers use devices—usage has changed considerably since 1996. For example, the regulations only consider one radiating device at a time and do not account for a residence, classroom, or workplace, healthcare, retail, recreational and other venues filled with multiple devices. The regulations do not consider that people carry their cell phones tightly in a front pocket of jeans or in a bra. They do not consider that laptops would be placed on laps by schoolchildren in the classroom. Regulations did not consider research that looked at long-term exposures to vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant women or to medically compromised individuals. Guidelines were set by only considering the impact to a full-grown man. Many scientists and major medical organizations have written about the inadequacy of these outdated guidelines.

Final Bonus Fact: No Safe Level Of This Radiation Has Been Identified.

Scientific studies have not been done to develop a “safe level” of exposure. The latest science clearly shows that biological effects could occur at non-thermal (non-heating) levels. Science also shows that children and the developing pregnancy are far more vulnerable to these damaging effects. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) did not do the research necessary to define a safe level that the public can be exposed to without harmful effects.

In a 2015 study (replicating prior scientific findings linking RF to cancer promotion), the researchers state, “Since many of the tumor-promoting effects in our study were seen at low to moderate exposure levels (0.04 and 0.4 W/kg SAR), thus well below exposure limits for the users of mobile phones, further studies are warranted to investigate the underlying mechanisms.” and “We hypothesize that these tumor-promoting effects may be caused by metabolic changes due to exposure. Our findings may help to understand the repeatedly reported increased incidences of brain tumors in heavy users of mobile phones.”

No medical organization has determined a “safe level” of this radiation for long-term exposure to children. In fact, medical organizations worldwide – including the American Academy of Pediatrics, the largest group of children’s doctors in the United States and the Athens Medical Association and Vienna Medical Association  – are calling for eliminating and reducing radiofrequency cell phone wireless radiation exposures.

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In Washington on the weekend after the Fourth of July, Israel was praised and Iran was condemned in the strongest terms, with a bit of a call to arms thrown in to prepare the nation for an inevitable war. It might just seem like a normal work week in the nation’s capital, but this time around there was a difference. The rhetoric came from no less than five senior officials in the Trump Administration and the audience consisted of 5,000 cheering members from the Christian Zionist evangelical group called Christians United for Israel (CUFI).

Christian Zionism is not a religion per se, but rather a set of beliefs based on interpretations of specific parts of the Bible – notably the book of Revelations and parts of Ezekiel, Daniel, and Isaiah – that has made the return of the Jews to the Holy Land a precondition for the Second Coming of Christ. The belief that Israel is essential to the process has led to the fusion of Christianity with Zionism, hence the name of the movement. The political significance of this viewpoint is enormous, meaning that a large block of Christians promotes and votes for a non-reality based foreign policy based on a controversial interpretation of the Bible that it embraces with considerable passion.

It would be a mistake to dismiss CUFI as just another group of bible-thumpers whose brains have long since ceased to function when the subject is Israel. It claims to have seven million members and it serves as a mechanism for uniting evangelicals around the issue of Israel. Given its numbers alone and concentration is certain states, it therefore constitutes a formidable voting bloc that can be counted on to cast its ballots nearly 100% Republican, as long as the Republican in question is reliably pro-Israel. Beyond that, there are an estimated 60 million evangelical voters throughout the country and they will likely follow the lead of groups like CUFI and vote reflecting their religious beliefs, to include Trump’s highly visible support for the Jewish state.

Trump’s reelection campaign is reported to be already “…developing an aggressive, state-by-state plan to mobilize even more evangelical voters than supported him last time.” This will include, “voter registration drives at churches in battleground states such as Ohio, Nevada and Florida.” Without overwhelming evangelical support, Trump reelection in 2020 is unlikely, hence the dispatch of all available White House heavyweights to CUFI’s annual summit at the Washington Convention Center.

Though it is an organization that defines itself as Christian, CUFI makes no effort to support surviving Christian communities in the Middle East as most of them are hostile to Israel. The group also supports war against Iran as a precursor to total global conflict. Hagee has explained that “The United States must join Israel in a pre-emptive military strike against Iran to fulfill God’s plan for both Israel and the West… a biblically prophesied end-time confrontation with Iran, which will lead to the Rapture, Tribulation, and Second Coming of Christ.”

CUFI operates out of the Cornerstone Church in San Antonio Texas. It was founded at the church in 2006 and is headed by John Hagee, a leading evangelical who has been courted both by the Trump Administration and by Israel itself, which presented him with a a Lear business yet complete with a crew so he would be able to do his proselytizing in some comfort. He frequently appears at commemorations in Israel, is a regular at the annual AIPAC meeting and has been a guest at the White House. He was present at the Trump administration’s ceremony last year when it moved the US Embassy to Jerusalem and gave a speech. He has said that “there has never been a more pro-Israeli president than Donald Trump.”

Present at the CUFI summit were Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, National Security Advisor John Bolton, US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, and US negotiator in the Middle East Jason Greenblatt. Lest there be any confusion, the White House was represented by two Christian Zionists, two Jewish Zionists and John Bolton, who has been variously described. All five have been urging a military response against Iran for its alleged “aggression” in the Middle East. Israeli Prime Minister also addressed the conference via videolink, with his similar “analysis” of the Iranian threat. There were also a number of Republican Senators present, to include Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio, Roy Blunt and Tim Scott.

The speeches were all pretty much the same but perhaps the most suggestive was the 2,000 word plus exhortation delivered by Pompeo. His presentation was entitled “The US and Israel: a Friendship for Freedom.” He asked, in a speech full of religious metaphors and biblical references, his audience to “compare Israel’s reverence for liberty with the restrictions on religious freedom facing Christians and people of all faiths throughout the rest of the Middle East,” where “if a Muslim leaves Islam it is considered an apostasy, and it is punishable indeed by death.”

Pompeo was more interested in stirring up his audience than he was in historical fact. He said

“In Iraq, Syria, and other countries in the region, the last remnants of ancient Christian communities are at near-extinction because of persecution from ISIS and other malign actors. And just one example: before 2003, there were an estimated 1.5 million Christians living in Iraq. Today, sadly, almost a quarter of a million.”

Pompeo, whose grasp of current events appears to be a bit shaky, did not mention two of the principal reasons that Christianity has been declining in the region. First and foremost is the Iraq War, started by the United States for no good reason, which unleashed forces that led to the destruction of religious minorities. Second, he did not note the constant punishment delivered by Israel on the Palestinians, which has led to the departure of many Christians in that community. Nor did he say anything about the reverse of the coin, Syria, where Christians are well integrated and protected by the al-Assad government which Pompeo and Bolton are seeking to destroy to benefit Israel.

The Secretary of State also delivered the expected pitch for four more years of Donald Trump, saying

“But thank God. Thank God we have a leader in President Trump – an immovable friend of Israel. His commitment, his commitment – President Trump’s commitment is the strongest in history, and it’s been one of the best parts of my job to turn that commitment into real action.”

But it has to be Pompeo’s conclusion that perhaps should be regarded as a joke, though it appears that no one in the audience was laughing. He said

“Our country is intended to do all it can, in cooperating with other nations, to help create peace and preserve peace [throughout] the world. It is given to defend the spiritual values – the moral code – against the vast forces of evil that seek to destroy them.”

It was a reiteration of Pompeo’s earlier “America is a force for good” speech delivered in Cairo in January. Nobody believed it then and nobody believes it now, given what has been actually occurring over the past 18 years. It would be interesting to know if Pompeo himself actually thinks it to be true. If he does, he should be selling hot dogs from a food truck rather than presiding as Secretary of State.

So, the bottom line is that the Trump Administration pandering to Hagee and company is shameful. Christian Zionist involvement in American politics on behalf of the Washington’s relationship with Israel does not serve any conceivable US national interests unless one assumes that Israel and the United States are essentially the same polity, which is unsustainable. On the contrary, the Christian Zionist politicizing has been a major element in supporting the generally obtuse US foreign policy in the Middle East region and vis-à-vis other Muslim countries, a policy that has contributed to at least four wars while making the world a more dangerous place for all Americans. Christian Zionist promoted foreign policy serves a particularly narrowly construed parochial interest that, ironically, is intended to do whatever it takes to bring about the end of the world, possibly a victory for gentlemen like Pastor John Hagee if his interpretation of the bible is correct, but undeniably a disaster for the rest of us.

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Philip Giraldi is a former CIA counter-terrorism specialist and military intelligence officer and a columnist and television commentator. He is also the executive director of the Council for the Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs/Flickr

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Impeaching Trump for the Wrong Reason

July 18th, 2019 by Kurt Nimmo

Now that Democrats control the House, they are moving forward to impeach Donald Trump despite the House leader, Nancy Pelosi, indicating she will not push the issue.

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This is largely symbolic—the articles will fail—and basically an effort by the so-called “Squad” and other progressive Democrats to capture the spotlight and push their pet issues, as Rep. Omar of Minnesota did yesterday. She followed the identity politics script closely.

The latest effort to get rid of Trump is merely ideological posturing ahead of an election next year. If Democrats really want to impeach Trump, they need to make a solid case, not gibberish based on the insulting tweets of a malignant narcissist with a heavy thumb on his smart phone’s tweet button.

Trump has violated numerous international laws since taking office. He has lived up to his promise to “bomb the shit” out of Syria, killing around 6,000 civilians as of last December.

Trump and his neocons have directly violated the Geneva Convention relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War, including Common Article 3 of the Conventions covering “an armed conflict not of an international character,” such as Syria and Yemen (Protocols Additional to the Geneva Convention of August 12, 1949 and Relating to the Protection of Victims of International Non-International Armed Conflicts, June 10, 1977, 1125 U.N.T.S 609 (Protocol II)).

There needs to be an International Criminal Tribunal for the United States (and Britain, France, and Israel) but this will of course never happen. Trump, George W. Bush, Tony Blair, Bibi Netanyahu, and dozens of others should stand trial at The Hague.

Impeach Trump for war crimes, not because he has a big mouth and was tutored on how to be an insulting troglodyte by Roy Cohn, his former lawyer.

It’s not illegal to be a racist or hold racist attitudes, as despicable as these things are. It is, however, illegal to kill women and children and attack largely helpless nations that have not threatened or invaded the United States.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Another Day in the Empire.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author

Western economists and intellectuals obsessed with demonization of China are never shy of shortcuts glaringly exposing their ignorance.

The latest outburst posits that “we” – as in Western intellectuals – “are the modern version of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein,” who electro-shocked a dead body (China) into a resurrected “murderous monster.”

So, welcome to the Sino-Frankenstein school of international relations. What next? A black and white remake with Xi Jinping playing the monster? Anyway, “we” – as in mankind’s best hope – should “avoid carrying on in the role of Frankenstein.”

The author is an economics professor emeritus at Harvard. He cannot even identify who’s to blame for Frankenstein – the West or the Chinese. That says much about Harvard’s academic standards.

Now, compare this with what was being discussed at a trade war symposium at Renmin University in Beijing this past Saturday.

Chinese intellectuals were trying to frame the current geopolitical dislocation provoked by the Trump administration’s trade war – without naming it for what it is: a Frankenstein gambit.

Li Xiangyang, director of the National Institute of International Strategy, a think tank linked to the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, stressed that an “economic decoupling” of the US from China is “completely possible,” considering that “the ultimate [US] target is to contain China’s rise … This is a life-or-death game” for the United States.

Decoupling

Assuming the decoupling would take place, that could be easily perceived as “strategic blackmail” imposed by the Trump administration. Yet what the Trump administration wants is not exactly what the US establishment wants – as shown by an open letter to Trump signed by scores of academics, foreign policy experts and business leaders who are worried that “decoupling” China from the global economy – as if Washington could actually pull off such an impossibility – would generate massive blowback.

What may actually happen in terms of a US-China “decoupling” is what Beijing is already, actively working on: extending trade partnerships with the EU and across the Global South.

And that will lead, according to Li, to the Chinese leadership offering deeper and wider market access to its partners. This will soon be the case with the EU, as discussed in Brussels in the spring.

Sun Jie, a researcher at the Institute of World Economics and Politics at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, said that deepening partnerships with the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) will be essential in case a decoupling is in the cards.

For his part Liu Qing, an economics professor at Renmin University, stressed the need for top international relations management, dealing with everyone from Europe to the Global South, to prevent their companies from replacing Chinese companies in selected global supply chains.

And Wang Xiaosong, an economics professor at Renmin University, emphasized that a concerted Chinese strategic approach in dealing with Washington is absolutely paramount.

All about Belt and Road

A few optimists among Western intellectuals would rather characterize what is going on as a vibrant debate between proponents of “restraint” and “offshore balancing” and proponents of “liberal hegemony”. In fact, it’s actually a firefight.

Among the Western intellectuals singled out by the puzzled Frankenstein guy, it is virtually impossible to find another voice of reason to match Martin Jacques, now a senior fellow at Cambridge University. When China Rules the World, his hefty tome published 10 years ago, still leaps out of an editorial wasteland of almost uniformly dull publications by so-called Western “experts” on China.

Jacques has understood that now it’s all about the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative:

“BRI has the potential to offer another kind of world, another set of values, another set of imperatives, another way of organizing, another set of institutions, another set of relationships.”

Belt and Road, adds Jacques, “offers an alternative to the existing international order. The present international order was designed by and still essentially privileges the rich world, which represents only 15% of the world’s population. BRI, on the other hand, is addressing at least two-thirds of the world’s population. This is extraordinarily important for this moment in history.”

In fact, we are already entering a Belt and Road 2.0 scenario – defined by Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi as a “high-quality” shift from “big freehand” to “fine brushwork.”

At the Belt and Road Forum this past spring in Beijing, 131 nations were represented, engaged in linked projects. Belt and Road is partnering with 29 international organizations from the World Bank to APEC, the Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation.

Apart from the fact that Belt and Road is now configured as a vast, unique, Eurasia-wide infrastructure and trade development project extending all the way to Africa and Latin America, Beijing is now emphasizing that it’s also a portmanteau brand encompassing bilateral trade relations, South-South cooperation and UN-endorsed sustainable development goals.

China’s trade with Belt and Road-linked nations reached $617.5 billion in the first half of 2019 – up 9.7% year-on-year and outpacing the growth rate of China’s total trade.

Chinese scholar Wang Jisi was right from the start when he singled out Belt and Road as a “strategic necessity” to counter Barack Obama’s now-defunct “pivot to Asia”.

So now it’s time for Western intellectuals to engage on a freak-out: as it stands, Belt and Road is the new Frankenstein.

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This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Why the Canadian Government Is Confronting Venezuela

July 18th, 2019 by Arnold August

Since the attempted U.S. coup against Venezuela on January 23, backed by the Lima Group of which the Justin Trudeau government is an active member, Canada’s corporate media have joined in a chorus of hate and disinformation against the Bolivarian Revolution, with the criticism focusing on Nicolás Maduro, the country’s constitutionally elected president.

In response to the nationalization of certain companies by the previous Chávez government, a number of Canadian companies have undertaken legal battles.

At the same time, a debate has arisen among workers, trade unionists, and social and political activists. A few months ago, the Cuban daily Trabajadores reported the response of Canadian affiliates (over 5 million workers speaking through their unions) in support of Venezuela’s right to self-determination and to be free from interference by the United States and the Lima Group in its internal affairs. New actions and statements are still emerging from the grassroots.

Examples include a series of articles that have appeared in the alternative press and on Canadian social networks, especially those representing left-wing and progressive forces; indeed, anyone who opposes foreign interference. These pieces lead us to wonder: what is Canada up to and why?

These authors bravely question the traditional media, which only have space for writers who make sure to use key words like “contested elections” and to call Maduro an “authoritarian” in their pieces. Such phrases afford credibility to the narrative put forward by the United States and the Lima Group to the effect that interference in Venezuela’s affairs is a putative matter of “humanitarian” necessity.

The corporate media suppress any attempt to give a serious answer to the question: why Canada? In this way, despite Canada’s pretense of being a paragon of freedom of expression and the press, the truth is being hidden from the public.

What Progressive Canadian Journalists and Writers Are Saying

Canadian academic Nino Pagliccia, in a piece recently published, writes:

“The search for gold in the mythical place of El Dorado in Latin America drew armies of Spanish conquistadors in the 16th century and caused many deaths of indigenous people. The gold remained elusive, but Spain colonized most of the region and exploited other riches until the Latin American independence movements of the 19th century.

But the search for gold never really ended, be it black gold – crude oil – or real gold of which Venezuela has plenty. The United States has publicly declared that is interested in the black gold. In the meantime, Canada has remained more secretive about its aspirations in its ventures in Venezuela. The truth is that Canada has corporate interests in the mining sector, and gold in particular.

We ask, is Venezuela Canada’s modern day El Dorado?”

Canadian political analyst Yves Engler’s recent blog post also deserves to be quoted at length:

“In a bid for a greater share of oil revenue, Venezuela forced private oil companies to become minority partners with the state oil company in 2007. This prompted Calgary-based Petro-Canada to sell its portion of an oil project and Canadian officials to privately complain about feeling ‘burned’ by the Venezuelan government…

A number of Canadian companies clashed with Hugo Chavez’ government over its bid to gain greater control over gold extraction. Crystallex, Vanessa Ventures, Gold Reserve Inc. and Rusoro Mining all had prolonged legal battles with the Venezuelan government. In 2016 Rusoro Mining won a $1 billion claim under the Canada-Venezuela investment treaty. That same year Crystallex was awarded $1.2 billion under the Canada-Venezuela investment treaty. Both companies continue to pursue payments and have pursued [sic] the money from Citgo, the Venezuelan government owned gasoline retailer in the US.

In 2011, the Financial Post reported that ‘years after pushing foreign investment away from his gold mining sector, Venezuelan President Chavez is moving on to the next stage: outright nationalization.’ Highlighting its importance to Canadian capital, the Globe and Mail editorial board criticized the move in a piece titled “Chavez nationalizes all gold mines in Venezuela…

Barrick Gold founder Peter Munk wrote a 2007 letter to the Financial Times headlined ‘Stop Chavez’ Demagoguery Before it is Too Late.’” [Munk wrote] … “aren’t we ignoring the lessons of history and forgetting that the dictators Hitler, Mugabe, Pol Pot and so on became heads of state by a democratic process? … autocratic demagogues in the Chavez mode get away with [it] until their countries become totalitarian regimes like Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, or Slobodan Milosevic’s Serbia… Let us not give President Chavez a chance to do the same step- by-step transformation of Venezuela…

Canadian mining investment in Latin America has exploded since the 1990s… No Canadian mining firm operated in Peru or Mexico at the start of the 1990s yet by 2010 there were nearly 600 Canadian mining firms in those two countries. Canadian mining companies have tens of billions of dollars invested in the Americas. Any government in the region that reverses the neoliberal reforms that enabled this growth is a threat to Canadian mining profits.”

The banks too, says Engler, have worked to bring about this liberalization:

“A few days after Chavez’s 2013 death the Globe and Mail’s ‘Report on Business’ published a front-page story about Scotiabank’s interests in Venezuela, which were acquired just before his rise to power. It noted: ‘Bank of Nova Scotia [Scotiabank] is often lauded for its bold expansion into Latin America, having completed major acquisitions in Colombia and Peru. But when it comes to Venezuela, the bank has done little for the past 15 years – primarily because the government of President Hugo Chavez has been hostile to large-scale foreign investment.’”

These considerations no doubt explain why the Trudeau government has been involved in Donald Trump’s attempted coups against Venezuela. Canada is also spearheading the economic sanctions imposed on the country, which recent studies have termed genocidal. Indeed, US-Lima Group policy represents a declaration of war, even though there has yet to be any military intervention as such.

Is this the only way Canada can defend the interests of its companies in Venezuela? Surely not. There must be much more “Canadian” approaches that it can draw upon.

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Arnold August is a Canadian journalist and lecturer, the author of Democracy in Cuba and the 1997–98 ElectionsCuba and Its Neighbours: Democracy in Motion and Cuba–U.S. Relations: Obama and Beyond. He collaborates with many web sites, television and radio broadcasts based in Latin America, Europe, North America and the Middle East. Twitter  Facebook, His trilingual website:  www.arnoldaugust.com.

Source

Trabajadores (Cuba)

Featured image is from Yves Engler

Korea-Japan Trade Plus War: Where Are You Going Mr. Shinzo Abe?

July 18th, 2019 by Prof. Joseph H. Chung

Right after the G20 Conference (28-28 June 2019) in Osaka, Japan, Shinzo Abe, prime minister of Japan declared the beginning of trade war against South Korea. It was indeed an irony that Abe was the host of the Conference organized specifically to restore free trade system in the world.

The first shot was the administrative restriction of exports of three chemical elements to South Korea; “fluorinated polyimide” used in the production of TV sets and smart-phones and “resist” as well as “hydrogen fluoride-etching gas” which are used for the production of semiconductors.

Japan accounts for 90% of the global production of fluorinated polyimide and 70% world supply of etching gas.

Samsung Electronics and SK Hynix and LG Display will be hard hit in the short run. Korea accounts for as much as 70% of the global production of DRUM chips and 50% of NAND chips  

Thus, Abe has made it clear that he will go pretty far in restricting Japanese exports of basic materials needed for the production of semiconductors, TV and many other South Korean goods. Moreover, Japan might exclude South Korea from the “white countries list” to which Japan provides some privileges related to trade.

If this happens, not only the South Korean economy but also the Japanese economy along with the global economy will be the victims. Why, then? What is the real aim of Abe?

My theory is that the ultimate reason for Abe’s war is the realization of his dream of restoring the old glorious but brutal Japan of the 1930s and 1940s enjoyed by his grandfather, Nobuske Kishi, an A-class war criminal.

This paper includes the following: Abe’s strategy for his party’s permanent power, Abe’s ambition to restore the old imperial military empire and the reaction of Moon Jae-in government.

1. Strategy for the Perpetual Power of Abe’s Conservative Government

Abe’s strategy of keeping his party’s (Liberal Democratic Party) permanent power seems to include the following; instigation of anti-Korea opinions in Japan, and return to power of the south Korean conservative government.

1.1 Instigation of Anti-Korea Feeling in Japan through the Denial of Japan’s Colonial Past 

The essence of Abe’s strategy is to stir in South Korea anti-Japan feeling, which leads to anti-Korea opinion in Japan and Abe’s electoral wins. The best way of producing anti-Japan feeling in Korea is to justify and glorify Japan’s wrong doings happened during its colonial occupation of Korea.

There are many events which Koreans will never forget and which Japan likes to deny.

Image on the right: Korean volunteers in the Imperial Japanese Army, January 1943 (Source: Public Domain)

What Koreans do remember is mostly humiliation imposed by Japanese and the feeling of anger against them for their harsh treatment of Koreans during their colonial occupation from 1905 to 1945.

Koreans remember how Japanese killers assassinated the Korean empress in 1895. They were humiliated by the way the Japan kicked out the Korean Emperor, Kojong in 1910. They know that the annexation of Korea into the Japanese empire was illegal, since the emperor did not sign it.

During the time of massive uprising against Japan in 1919 crying “Long Live Korea!” several thousand men, women, children, adults, old and young were cut down by the fearful Japanese swords and massacred by machine guns of the Japanese police.

Koreans remember how the colonial Japanese government forced them to abandon their Korean name and adopt a Japanese name; Koreans remember how hard Japan attempted to uproot the Korean culture and identity.

Almost hundred thousand young Koreans were taken away into the Japanese army to kill Korean patriots.

Koreans will never forget the diabolically criminal acts of the notorious Unit 731 of the Japanese army where countless innocent Chinese and Koreans were decapitated in order to test the sharpness of Japanese swords; several thousand innocent people were the victims of chemical and biological weapons. Countless people had to withstand Siberian cold in order to verify how long a human can stand such cold.

Koreans have been trying to forget these crimes committed by Japan, but there are two horrible crimes that they do not want to forget: labour slavery and sex slavery.

Japan mobilized by force several tens of thousands Koreans and made them to work as slaves in mines and factories under living conditions as bad as hog-pen.

The notorious Japanese firms which exploited, without mercy, Korean labour slaves were Mitsubishi Heavy Industry Ltd., and Nippon Steel & Sumitomo Metal Corporation. But there are a lot of other Japanese companies which exploited and abused Korean workers.

The surviving victims of the labour slavery went to Supreme Court of Korea to ask for the court ruling on the unlawful exploitation of Korean workers by Japanese companies.

The Supreme Court under the government of Park Geun-hye did not make the judgment in order not to annoy Abe, but the Supreme Court under the government of Moon Jae-in has ordered, in 2018, the Japanese firms to pay to compensate for the suffering of the Korean work slaves. It appears that the Japanese firms would be ready to pay, but Abe would have asked them not to do so.

As far as Abe is concerned, if the Japanese companies pay, it would mean that Japan admits having committed labour slavery, which Abe cannot accept.

There is another tragedy for which Koreans are very sensitive. It is the crime of sex slavery committed by Japanese soldiers during the Pacific War. There are tons of proofs, numerous witnesses and in 1990s a number of important Japanese political leaders admitted the crime.

In 1993, Kato Koichi, Chief Cabinet Sectary of the prime minister’s office admitted the crime. In the same year, Japan’s Prime Minister Koiichi Miyazawa made an apology in his own name.

But, in 2007, Abe denied the use of coercion imposed on the poor victims; in other words, for him, there was no sex slavery.

In December, 2015, the foreign ministers of the two countries produced a document in which Japan would provide funds for the victims.

The government of Moon Jae-in has found some irregularities in the agreement. We must remember that the agreement was made under the conservative government of Park Geun-hye which is highly pro-Japan.and always afraid of antagonizing Abe.

The agreement has several problems. To begin with, it was not approved by the Korean National Assembly; it did not meet the victims’ wish. It was not the money the victims wanted; they wanted an official formal apology of the Japanese government, not isolated apologies of a few politicians.

Koreans were ready to pardon the Japanese for many of their crimes against Korea and Koreans. But, as for the work slavery and the sex slavery, they want Japanese government’s official recognition and apology, which Abe refuses.

In particular, Koreans are having hard time in forgetting the suffering of more than two hundred thousand Korean girls, many of whom were young adolescents; they were raped twenty times, even thirty times a day, every day, and every year by Japanese soldiers.

An intriguing thing is that we have never heard of Japanese girls sent to the sex slave camps.

After the war, a great number of these girls were buried alive in huge pits, many of the survivors never came back home because of shame; many killed themselves; few who came back home suffered their entire life suffering from physical damage and psychological trauma.

What makes the Korea-Japan relations painful is Abe’s stubborn refusal to recognize the facts of Japan’s war crimes and his efforts to justify and glorify these crimes.

On this point, Japan is far different from post-war Germany, which has apologized – and it is still apologizing – for its war crimes and which has been doing wonderful things for the integration of Europe; Germany is admired for this. Why not Japan?

1.2  Plot to Restore the South Korean Conservative Government 

The Candle-Light Revolution achieved by 17 millions South Koreans after eight months of peaceful street fighting in 2016 and 2017 led to the imprisonment of the president of the conservative government, Park Geun-hye, for corruption and abuse of power.

The candlelight movement in Seoul, South Korea, mobilized for change of government (Credit: Women Cross DMZ)

The Revolution has led also to the takeover of power by the liberal government of Moon Jae-in in 2017.

This event was an unwelcome happening for Abe, because it will be more difficult for him to treat Korea as a colonized country.

In the past, for 60 years since 1948, Korea has been ruled by pro-Japan conservative governments originally formed largely by former high ranking civil servants of the Japanese colonial government and, now, by their descendents..

Abe and the South Korean conservatives have one thing important in common, namely, they both wish to be free from their association with past wrong doings. That is why both of them have been trying to rewrite the past history by justifying and glorifying Japan’s occupation of Korea.

This relationship between the Korean collaborators and Japanese masters was one of master-servant or colonizer-colonized. Such relationship has always existed under the South Korean pro-Japan conservative governments.

Now, as long as Moon Jae-in has power, Abe can no longer treat South Korea as being inferior. This makes Abe not very happy.

So, Abe tries to discredit Moon’s government. He tries to make Moon’s government look like incompetent in economic policy, inconsistent in foreign policy and inefficient in welfare policy.

Abe can do this relatively easily, because he can easily dictate Japanese media which is rapidly losing their autonomy In fact, between 2015 and 2018, the press-freedom rank of Japan got worse from 59 to 67. The higher the press -freedom rank figure, the worse becomes press freedom. By the way, in the same period, the press-freedom rank of South Korea got better from 57 to 43.

Thus, the freedom of press in Japan is radically getting worse. This could lead to Abe’s dictatorship.

The result of South Korea bashing is clear enough; it will stir up anti-Japan feeling in South Korea and, inevitably anti-Korea feeling in Japan.

Abe is doing fine. According to a Korea-Japan joint survey, no less than 92% of Japanese say they do not trust Koreans; 93% of Koreans say that they do mistrust Japanese.

Here are some of the current events which Abe has produced to antagonize Moon’s government and Koreans.

A few months ago, Japanese war planes approached in very low altitude to a South Korean navy ship to test its reaction. The South Korean navy ship did not show any hostile reaction, but the Japanese media reported without proof that the South Korean navy Ship took “hostile reaction”.

During the G20 meeting, Moon Jae-in, President of South Korea was the only head of state excluded from Abe’s summits. This is a shameful and utterly childish behaviour of the host of the Conference.

Abe knows that his policy of trade restriction is likely to bring global criticism.

Therefore, he had to bring issues which might make his Moon-bashing policy more acceptable. He has raised the possibility of Moon government’s smuggling dangerous materials into North Korea to be used for the production of nuclear weapons.

But, in reality, those companies which have sold such materials to North Korea are Japanese companies and not South Korean firms according to official reports of the Japanese government. This was announced on July 11 by Ha Tae-Kyung, member of the Korean National Assembly.

It appears that the false story of the involvement of South Korean firms in the smuggling business was published by the most pro-Japan Korean newspaper, Chosun – Ilbo which is notorious for manufacturing lies or for distorting facts in order to discredit Moon’s liberal government. Abe seems to be happy with Chosun-Ilbo’s performance.

2. Abe’s Ambition to Restore the Old Imperial Military Empire

It is perhaps normal for all politicians to seek permanent power to get rich, to become powerful, to become famous, to promote people’s happiness or to achieve a not-so-healthy dream of ruling the world.

This is important. Why does Abe want so eagerly to keep power, perhaps forever?

For Abe, the maintenance of power will allow him to amend the Peace Constitution so that Japan can become a normal country capable of invading foreign countries.

It is indeed possible that Abe’s ultimate plan is the strategy of conquering the whole world.

In short, his ultimate ambition could be to restore the old glorious imperial empire in which his grandfather of maternal side, Nobuske Kishi, was very much involved; he was called “Devil of Showa” for his brutal rule of Manchukuo; he was an A-class war criminal and served three-year imprisonment before he was pardoned by the U.S. government.

The dream of restoring the power and the glory of Japan has been fomented by the extreme right-wing political group, the Japan Conference (Nippon Gaigi) established in 1997. It has 38,000 members. It is richly funded. Its political influence has been increasing and far reaching.

Abe is one of its key leaders. More than 80% of Abe’s ministers are members of Nippon Gaigi

The main principles guiding the Conference seem to include the restoration of emperor’s godhood, the change of national conscience, refusal of the Tokyo War Criminal Tribunal, non-recognition of Nanjing massacre and sex slavery, justification of colonialism and glorification of wars undertaken by Japan.

Here, “the change of national conscience” seems to mean that Japanese people should not feel guilty of the crimes committed by Japan. Abe seems to have a good success for this.

What inspire the actions of the Japan Conference are two basic beliefs.

First, the emperor is living God, hence, the Japanese are divine and chosen people.

Second, Abe’s friends seem to believe in Japan’s holy mission, “Hakko Ichiu” meaning “eight corners under one roof”; the corners are the world; the roof is Japan. That is, Japans is destined to rule the world. In short, for Japan with emperor-god, it is its holy mission to rule the world.

The Japan Conference insists: “Japan should be applauded for liberating much of Asia from Western colonial powers.”

So, the occupation of Korea and Taiwan, the invasion of Manchuria, the war against China and the unprovoked attack of Pearl Harbour were all a part of the holy Hakko-Ichiu mission

It is quite possible that Japan under the new constitution without Article 9 may attempt to repeat the failed adventure of conquering Asia starting perhaps with Korea.

Abe should give up his pipe dream.The world has changed; we are not in the 1930s or 1940s; Korea is not weak; Koreans is not poor; Korea has many friends.

3. Reactions of South Korea

South Korea had been aware of hostile behaviour toward South Korea ever since the pro-Japan conservative government had its dishonourable end in 2017.

Abe has been comfortable with the Korean pro-Japan conservative governments, because they have collaborated with Abe for the justification and even glorification of Japan’s colonial policies.

Moreover, the Korean conservative governments have been avoiding, in their Japan relations, those issues for which Japan has been sensitive, especially those issues related to Japan’s colonial policies and the issues related to security.

However, the liberal government of Moon Jae-in has been making one thing clear; Moon is eager to develop constructive bilateral relations, but he wishes to separate the issues of the colonial past and current problems. In other words, he hopes that Japan make frank recognition of its past wrong doings and develop deeper and lasting bilateral relations

Among the current issues, the peace on the Korea peninsula is Moon’s major concern but, on this point there is a basic difference from Abe’s North Korea policy.

Some of these different perceptions between Moon and Abe could be one of the reasons for Abe’s trade sanctions against Moon.

South Korea has not yet defined its reaction except the appeal to WTO, hope for mediation by Washington and search for self-sufficiency in the production of basic inputs for semiconductors and related products.

However, one thing sure is that South Korea will not be intimidated or blackmailed by Abe. Besides, the “no-buy Japanese goods” is rapidly spreading among consumers and merchants alike in South Korea; the number of Korean visitors to Japan is expected to fall sharply.

To sum up, I am sure that Koreans are hoping to live in peace with Japan, cooperate for common prosperity and security and develop lasting friendship.

After all, Koreans and Japanese are, in a way, relatives; one of the princesses of Baek-je dynasty of Korea became the mother of Emperor Kammu (735-806) who was one of the most successful emperors of Japan.

As for Japan, I hope that Abe apologizes, in the name of his government, its past wrongdoings, promote friendly and constructive relations with Korea and work hand in hand for the good of Asia and the world.

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Professor Joseph H. Chung is professor of economics and co-director of the East Asia Observatory (OAE) of the Study Center for Integration and Globalization (CEIM), Quebec University in Montreal (UQAM). He is Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Featured image is from Oriental Review

Some Like It Hot

July 18th, 2019 by William Bowles

I am nothing if not an optimist, a trait that most on the Left seem to share. A belief in the future, that there is one that includes us. That things, eventually, get better, if we fight for it.

‘Unrealistic’, I hear you say, what is there to be optimistic about? The planet is going to hell and taking us all with it, and there’s nothing we can do about it! Well, maybe so, then this happened, a small event, minute even, in the scheme of things but somehow it triggered a response in me that I could not ignore and which I had to address:

Once a week I mentor, at my local public library, two children, 10 and 12 yrs old, in English and Maths (my maths sucks I might add but there’s nothing to stop me learning from my charges is there?). Both, a boy and a girl are from Eritrea, or at least their folks are and very sharp they are too, especially the girl. Anyway, at our last session the girl suddenly asked me, ‘Is it going to get hot?’ At the time I thought she was referring to the weather but it was only later that I realised that’s not what she was asking me at all. I think she was genuinely worried and looking to me for answers, for an explanation. I think we forget, or ignore the fact that children really do listen when they want to, and they most certainly absorb everything that’s going on around them, especially when it get repeated over and over, on the news, by adults as they talk about the topic of the day; global heating.

What to say to a bright and sensitive, ten-year-old? And I have to say, I’m obsessing about it. I couldn’t get to sleep that night and I can’t get her question out of my mind. What have we done?!

If, and right now it looks like a big if, we survive as a species, what will our descendants make of the mess industrial capitalism has made of the planet in the pursuit of private profit and power and will they curse us for our inaction and our greed? Probably and rightly so. We are a world of addicts, addicted to possession, even if we don’t actually own any of it.

The question of what to say is intimately bound up with what to do. Nevertheless, it’s still a dilemma. I don’t want give the girl my nightmares but then, she probably already has her own. Yet these are issues that have to be faced, but is it right, is it ethical even, to burden a young mind with such momentous problems? Problems that she simply may not have the knowledge (yet) to comprehend?

I asked an old friend and he immediately said to me, ‘Well you must speak to her! You have a responsibility to speak to her and tell her what the issues are.’

The situation is without precedent. There’s nothing in our collective past to guide us. We rightly, I think, call it an existential threat, yet the real threat is not climate change per se but capitalism itself! How do I explain that to a ten-year old? But the two are intimately intertwined. Climate change and environmental disaster is directly the result of industrial capitalism chowing the planet and its resources. But at least in removing capitalism, we have a chance of dealing with climate change. Is this what I should tell her?

What an undertaking! Is it even possible at this late stage? We’re told we only have ten years before der tag but actually, the time is irrelevant except insofar as perhaps it will spur us into collective action. But will it? Has it?

The real problem we confront is that those in control really don’t care about anything except their class and preserving their privilege. They’re oblivious to the suffering of the great majority of humanity, largely because they don’t view them as really human. And this is not new. If we look back through history, we can see that the ruling class, not only have they always viewed the ‘great unwashed’ in this fashion but as we know, they have enshrined theirs view in ‘law’. Workhouses, penalising poverty, condemning the disabled, starvation, homelessness, crime, ‘over-population’, and of course, war, something the rich never engage in personally. It’s always the poor who get the blame and get to pay the price to the 1%.

Their indifference to human (and animal) suffering is self-evident and as the crisis of capitalism intensifies, so does its demonisation of the working class, of people of colour, of immigrants, the young, the old and the defenceless. This is the true face of ‘democracy’.

Extinction/Rebellion

Then along came Extinction Rebellion (XR), the first (visible) sign of a petrified middle class. Is it a catalyst for change? Many on the left take this position, claiming that XR is some kind of ‘wake up’ call. But is XR the answer? Is it the first shot over the bow of the sinking ship Neoliberal Capitalism? I have to admit that I too, like to think that’s the case. After all, a lot of mainly young people are actually going out of their way to get arrested (in Paris they get tear-gassed first). So there’s no doubting their bravery (driven by some kind of desperation?). Call it foolhardy even, but they are putting their futures on the line.

One of the founders of XR, Roger Hallam, claims that if sufficient people get arrested, this will force the government to act (in fact he claims a very specific number of arrests, 20,000 I think, I tried to find his book on his website to verify this number but the link is broken). He bases this assertion on his studies for his PhD on Civil Disobedience.

But okay, let’s assume Hallam is right. 20,000 people get arrested and the government agrees to actually cut carbon emissions by 2030 or so (rather than promising to). Firstly, what is net zero carbon? Is this really zero carbon? And what if it is? Is this the end of the story?

As I understand it, net zero carbon is actually based on carbon trading, that is to say, we exchange our carbon emissions with a country (or company) that produces less carbon, so overall, greenhouse gas emissions stay the same or even rise (which is what’s happening every year that goes by). But carbon is the least of our problems out of a list of greenhouse gases and chemicals. Worst of all is methane, followed by water vapour in the atmosphere (driven there by global heating of course). According to Scientific American:

“methane warms the planet by 86 times as much as CO2, according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.”

And as the Siberian permafrost melts, it’s releasing millions of tons of the stuff!

So, the next target is what? Cows or maybe Siberia, or both. Do the math, it will have to be. So the next target is MacDonalds, in fact isn’t every ounce of mince beef a viable target. But then there’s the rain forests, chopped down either to make way for crops demanded by the West, palm oil for the industrial food and cardboard for the boxes. It should be obvious that there is no end to the targets. Clothing, electronics, cars, packaging, everything in fact that industrial capitalism makes and sells to us is contributing to global heating and environmental destruction, all in the name of profit, for the few.

2030

Okay, so let’s assume that our geriatric and totally incompetent governments do wake up and smell the coffee and we do achieve net zero carbon, what does that really mean?

No cars, no gas- or coal-fired power stations. No cars? Are you kidding? No cars? No hamburgers, no plastic? Plastics are made from oil and plastic is now everywhere, including inside us. Yes, it’s possible, there’s no denying that it’s possible, if we have an economic and hence political, revolution. Is that possible? Yes of course it is – possible – but is it doable in the time we have left and is XR the right starting point?

Well, failing anything else, that start has already been made by XR and I know this sounds heretical but is climate change actually the right target to start the transformation with, without linking it to capitalism?

And why hasn’t the ‘traditional’ left, which one assumes would be the logical source given its objectives, not where XR is today?

This is an interesting conundrum, not the least because there are real questions to ask about XR’s roots and its progenitors, resources that are denied to the left. A leg up if you like, that corporate power gives; access to the media, slick PR and so forth; all the trappings of a modern marketing campaign. Of course, this makes some on the left suspicious, and rightly so.[1] But on the other hand, XR could be more of a Pandora’s Box than a marketing campaign and I know that there are other sections of the Left who take this view of XR, as a stepping stone on the way to revolution regardless of its initiators objectives.

But firstly, why hasn’t the Left originated something like XR in the first place, given not only the urgency of the situation but also because the Left have been campaigning on the environment for decades only to be upstaged by a young girl from Sweden?

I think I’ve already supplied one reason for this above, the other resides in priorities. From a Left perspective, climate change is not the cause but the effect, or result if you like, of the economic-political system we call capitalism. We argue, quite rightly in my opinion, that the solution to climate change, is getting rid of capitalism and replacing it with a rational, sustainable, socialist economy and in so doing, abolishing war and the exploitation of the planet and its peoples. This is real progress, not more of the same. But in order to do that we need to recover our belief in the collective.

It’s an existential argument really. The realisation that only a sustainable, socialist economy is the solution to climate change, will only come about when it’s too late to implement it, if, if it’s proposed by the Left, simply because the capitalist state won’t allow it, and for obvious reasons; their own survival as a class. Ergo, ultimately, revolution is the only solution both to an economic system that destroys not only the environment but all of us too. But on the other hand, capitalism would not allow XR to end capitalism either (assuming that’s its goal, which judging by my understanding of XR’s objective, it’s not).

And herein lies the rub and it explains the initial acceptance of XR by the ruling elite and for two main reasons: one, XR claims not to be ‘political’, or for that matter, economic, in other words, it’s not really challenging the status quo, merely adjusting it. And two, the state can no longer deny the reality of impending disaster unless steps are taken, now. But what kind of steps are permitted and are they enough? So the government declares a climate emergency. Big deal! It means absolutely nothing, it’s just words without the commensurate actions.

The UK is a small country, making a transition to a (theoretical) carbon neutral economy is doable; call it green capitalism. Some energy production would be from renewable sources, we are told. Gas cookers are no longer being installed in new housing. Cars are moving to electric. Power generation, wind and solar but fossil fuel electricity generation will continue but it will be carbon traded (this is already happening using REGOs, Renewable Energy Guarantee of Origin), hence the ‘net zero carbon’ description.

Shell Energy is the new name for First Utility, who in the same breath now suddenly claim to supply their 700,000 customers with ‘100% renewable’ electricity. Making it seem awfully easy to switch a big customer base to renewable sourced power.

If we look at First Utility’s last published energy mix (below) they sourced just 3.7% of their supply from renewables. But — as if by magic — post takeover from the oil and gas giant Shell they are now ‘100% renewable’. And all of this without a single article showing partnerships or contracts with a renewable provider. – ‘Shell Energy’s ‘renewable’ promise highlights the problem with REGOs

It is possible and it would leave the capitalist economy intact. However, it would have no impact on global heating or on species and ocean death or the melting of the ice at the poles and the melting of the glaciers, which in turn supply water for the Monsoon in Asia. This is a real dilemma because sooner rather than later, people will realise this. Ten years is no time at all, even if it’s twenty years, not ten that we have left before the catastrophe is irreversible (if it isn’t already).

And given that we import most of the things we use/consume, and we have no control over what they’re made from or how, unless the transformation is essentially global in nature, whatever the UK does is but a drop in the acidic ocean.

But of course, this mustn’t stop us from trying, indeed it’s imperative that we do and for a two reasons; one, we have no choice and two, it’s my estimation that if the UK actually manages to reduce its carbon emissions significantly, this might have a ‘knock-on’ effect on other countries but will ‘net zero carbon’, by itself, actually address the crisis?

I think I’ve made it plain that it won’t, not only because it’s only a part of the problem but because a country like the USA, the planet’s largest producer of greenhouse gases, and because its military produces more carbon than a bunch of countries combined (140+), have bowed out because such an action threatens the profits of the big corporations.

The Limits of Civil Disobedience

There’s another, even more important aspect to XR’s zero carbon campaign, the implications of which, need unpacking. If we look at the state (and its medias) response, starting last October with XR’s first non-violent civil disobedience campaign (blocking five of London’s bridges across the Thames), as a media campaign it was extremely effective. XR got oodles of coverage, even from the execrable BBC and a lot of sympathy from the public, up to a point, the point being when it took ages to get home after a shitty day at the office. We praised the courage of those mostly young (and white), middle class people, who now have a criminal record following them around, probably for the rest of their lives. So be it. It took guts (it takes guts) and it’s a direct reflection of the fears my young friend in the library has about her future. In reality, these are acts of desperation dressed up as a party.

However, as the XR’s campaign picks up speed, starting this week actually, the state and it’s complicit media are changing their tune. When XR announced it’s new campaign, the BBC’s coverage opened, not with sympathy for these brave young people but the inconvenience it will cause, the cost of policing it and emphasising its negative impact on working people (like the government cares about working people?). This is to be expected. The media will work overtime demonising XR, emphasising the inconvenience to working people, the ‘irresponsibility’ of XR’s actions and so forth. Again, this is to be expected. Already, on BBC Radio 4, XR’s activists are now being called Anarchists[3]!

And then there was the announcement by the government that all 1200 or so people busted so far, would all be charged with a variety of offences, even going so far as to use two courts exclusively for the next 19 weeks to carry it out the prosecutions. Examples have to be made.

The state means business. If, and when XR’s campaign really starts to bite (or before even), the state will not tolerate it. It will not tolerate challenges to its hegemony. It never has and it never will. It’s as simple as that. Of course that doesn’t mean it can’t be challenged and ultimately, successfully challenged but is XR’s campaign of non-violent disobedience the correct vehicle? Roger Hallam thinks so.

Part of the problem lies in XR’s exclusivity, not intentionally I know but confronting the state directly takes a fearless and young, mind. And where does it end? Hallam’s theory is given that his 20,000 arrests come to pass, the state will cave in and do what exactly? Implement ‘net zero carbon’ by some date in the future, 10 or maybe 20 years from now. Job done?

Why should XR succeed where generations of activists have failed? Part of the putative answer to to this lies in Hallam’s conception of the power of non-violent direct action aka Gandhi I assume, to achieve positive results, where for example, the use of violence has failed (has it, will it?). But I contend that this is a false dichotomy. Who can predict how events develop or what will be a successful strategy? Of course nobody wants to use violence but on the other hand, the state has no problem using violence against any peaceful opposition, and it’s used violence against us for centuries, with or without resistance.

It also doesn’t take into account the myriad of events and interactions occurring within and between various capitalist countries as they compete for markets as well as their relationship to their domestic populations. For proof of this we need look no further than the hysterical witch hunt surrounding a possible Labour government led by Jeremy Corbyn and the threat he allegedly poses to the status quo and especially the reactions of the big beast across the pond that has publicly proclaimed that it wants to stop Corbyn.

In sum, we can say that reality is far more complex than XR’s conception. This is not to say that XR isn’t an important development because it is. It signals a shift in our relationship to state power and hopefully to the planet, potentially. It shows that the state can be challenged, albeit with immense difficulty, not say sacrifice given that so far, XR is operating in isolation from virtually all the other social movements that are also opposed to the status quo.

One XR member said to me the other day that she would like to see a ‘movement of movements’[2], another way of describing a ‘popular, or united front’ of some kind, but because XR consciously rejects politics (at least publicly), never mind economics, it limits its actions. But I think I understand why XR apparently takes this position, it reflects what XR sees as a general rejection of Establishment politics by the population at large, and that by taking this position it will attract a far larger support base but I’m not sure about this, I think it’s positions like this that raise the suspicions on the left about XR’s ‘real’ motives. After all, just look at the support Corbyn has gotten (and still gets, despite the vile witch hunt being conducted against him), and from people who have previously rejected mainstream politics, people who didn’t vote, especially the young, the marginalised and the dispossessed.

XR seems to be largely a young, white, middle class phenomenon, not that this condemns it but it limits its ability to reach a larger audience given the sharp class divides in English society. And note that the state understands this, that’s why the BBC’s news coverage focuses on how XR’s actions disrupts working peoples’ travel to and from work and in an age of Austerity, emphasises the costs of policing XR’s actions deliberately as this builds resentment toward XR (I read the figure of £7.5 million as of this month).

The critical challenge for XR is how to broaden and deepen its connections to civil society, to anti-capitalist struggles, and to the organised working class, not only here in the UK but internationally given that the crisis is global in scope. But will its proscriptions against politics limit its effectiveness? And more importantly, is XR open to changing its tactics, its strategies, to broaden its base? I think it’s undeniable that unless a ‘critical mass’ are brought onboard, XR will die the death of a single issue struggle.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Investigating Journalism.

Notes

1. There are a number of critical essays on XR, from  Cory Morningstar’s virtually indigestible essays through to more considered analyses by people such as Tim Hayward, that it’s a devious plot (Morningstar), designed to bring about a ‘green capitalism’ and that may be true for all I know but I venture that virtually all XR members don’t think that way at all and I suspect that they would be very upset if this turned out to be true.

2. The phrase ‘movement of movements’ appears to come from:

Farhana Yamin, who is described in XR’s blurb as a ‘climate change lawyer and former lead author of the IPCC, coordinator of the Political Strategy Team and experienced UN negotiator’ appears to be playing a prominent role in the meetings [between XR and the UK government]. As Cory Morningstar has pointed out [6], Yamin has “spent 27 years in UN climate negotiations”, “helped midwife the 2015 Paris Agreement to curb greenhouse gas emissions”, serves Greenpeace as a board member/trustee, will soon take up an advisory role at the World Wildlife Fund, and wants to build a bridge with existing organisations to forge a much bigger “movement of movements”. – ‘Extinction Rebellion and the Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism’.

So what of XR’s claim not to be political? Is it any wonder that some on the left view XR with a degree of suspicion?

3. The accusation occurred on the BBC Radio 4 ‘Today‘ programme, 17th July. Apparently it was a retired policeman who not only accused XRers of being ‘Anarchists with a smile’ but that Roger Hallam ‘hates capitalism’, so now hating capitalism is a crime?

BDS in the Face of Israeli Apartheid

July 18th, 2019 by Palestinian BDS National Committee

On July 9th, Palestinians marked with a mix of alarm and hope the 14th anniversary of the BDS Call (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions), launched by Palestinian society in 2005 in pursuit of freedom, justice and equality.

The growth of our popular resistance and the global, Palestinian-led BDS movement give us hope at a time when Israel’s far-right regime is intensifying its system of apartheid and crimes against our people, in open partnership with the anti-Palestinian Trump Administration, and with the complicity of the European Union and despotic Arab regimes.

Israel’s ongoing Nakba against the Palestinian people is most brutally manifested in its illegal siege and repeated massacres that have reduced Gaza into an uninhabitable ghetto, causing unspeakable suffering to its two million Palestinians.

It is also evidenced in its continued denial of the internationally recognized right of return for millions of Palestinian refugees, its gradual ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians, particularly in Jerusalem, and its adoption of the so-called Jewish Nation-State Law, that makes its decades-old apartheid regime constitutional.

The Illegal Wall

This day also marks the 15th anniversary of the International Court of Justice’s decision to condemn Israel’s wall in the occupied Palestinian territory as illegal and to remind all states of their obligation not to recognize, aid or assist Israel in its violations of international law, and instead act to end them. Fifteen years since, Israel continues to build its illegal settlements and the apartheid wall, which Trump uses as a model to justify his intended anti-immigrant wall along the Mexican border.

But we are fighting back with the help of unions and social movements representing millions around the world which are joining the BDS movement. They recognize that Israel’s fanatic regime of oppression against Palestinians has become a model for racist, xenophobic and fascist political tendencies in Europe, the US, Brazil, India, the Philippines and beyond.

#Apartheid was the second most popular hashtag trending during Eurovision in apartheid Tel Aviv, partly explaining the contest’s failure to attract more than 5,000, in contrast to the 40,000 to 50,000 that had been expected to show up. More than 100 commercial, cultural and sporting activities in Italy declared themselves free of Israeli apartheid in June, joining dozens of city councils and cultural spaces in the Spanish state and across Europe.

The Argentinian national football team cancelled last year a friendly match with Israel after receiving appeals from Palestinians and international solidarity groups. During the same year, Natalie Portman, Shakira, Lana del Rey, among other prominent artists, cancelled engagements in Israel to protest its crimes against Palestinians. Dozens of DJs and other musicians joined the cultural boycott of Israel.

Two weeks ago, more than 100 artists and cultural figures, including Hollywood names, condemned the McCarthyism of a German festival that cancelled a performance by rapper Talib Kweli because of his refusal to renounce his support for BDS.

Three weeks ago, the British for Middle Eastern Studies (BRISMES) adopted the academic boycott of Israeli universities over their complicity in planning, implementing and justifying Israel’s grave human rights violations. BRISMES joins a number of American academic associations that have adopted the boycott in recent years. Israeli Apartheid Week 2019 was a big success, despite rising anti-democratic repression in the US and Europe.

FNV, the largest Dutch trade union, with 1.1 million members, dropped Hewlett-Packard as a partner, over the complicity of HP-branded companies in Israel’s apartheid and violations of international law. The global online action #StopCemex reached over 1 million people, effectively transforming the annual propaganda effort of the cement giant into a powerful campaign against CEMEX’s complicity in Israel’s illegal settlements and wall.

Pressure on Governments Continues

The National Congress of Chile overwhelmingly voted to ban products from illegal Israeli settlements built on stolen Palestinian land last year, while the campaign to ban settlement products from European markets is ongoing.

Even major financial institutions are bowing to popular pressure. A fully owned subsidiary of the insurance giant AXA divested from Israeli drone manufacturer Elbit Systems, which sells weapons used by the Israeli military in attacks on Palestinians, following a pressure campaign that is continuing until AXA fully divests from Elbit and from Israeli banks that finance Israel’s settlement enterprise.

This comes after HSBC confirmed late last year that it had fully divested from Elbit Systems. Now campaigners are working to ensure HSBC divests as well from Caterpillar, whose equipment is used regularly by Israel’s military and security forces for the demolition of Palestinian homes, schools, orchards, olive groves and other agricultural lands.

In response to Israel’s ongoing Nakba, the most effective way to mark the BDS anniversary is by escalating our BDS campaigning through:

  • Advocating at all levels of government to cut military and security ties with Israel, and pressuring universities and research centers to end military/security research with Israel.
  • Defending the right to advocate for Palestinian rights through the nonviolent tactics of BDS, as a matter of freedom of expression that should be protected in any democracy.
  • Joining the growing boycott and/or divestment campaigns against complicit corporations, such as AXA, HP, CEMEX, HSBC and Puma, among others.
  • Passing BDS resolutions in more churches, academic associations and cultural spaces.
  • Promoting and respecting the Palestinian guidelines for ethical tourism and pressuring Airbnb, Booking.com, Expedia and Tripadvisor to end their complicity in normalizing Israel’s illegal settlements and other human rights violations.

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The Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC) is the largest coalition in Palestinian civil society. It leads and supports the global Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. Visit their website and follow @BDSmovement.

The Race for the Domination of Space

July 18th, 2019 by Manlio Dinucci

“The flying man bewitches Paris at the 14 July parade” – headlines like that were used to describe France’s military parade along the Champs Élysées. As usual, we were given the impression that we were being informed about everything in the minutest detail.

But “big news” is hiding from us everything that we really need to know. For example, that two days before the parade, President Emmanuel Macron was in the port of Cherbourg to participate in the launching of a nuclear attack submarine, the Suffren, the first vessel in the new Baracuda series, built on a ten-year programme at a cost of 9 billion Euros. The submarine, armed with long-range cruise missiles with both conventional and nuclear capacities, and equipped with a mini-sub for special forces operations, was described by Admiral Christophe Prazuck as a “hunter born to fight our enemies”.

Among the 700 international guests at the launch ceremony was the Australian Minister for Defence, Linda Reynolds, who had signed a contract to buy 12 French attack submarines. At the moment, in Australia, there are on-going discussions concerning the possibility for the country to leave the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) and build its own nuclear arsenal. Australia, a partner of NATO, is opposed to the Treaty, which was approved in July 2017 by the General Assembly of the United Nations with 122 voices for. So far, it has been signed by 70 countries, but ratified only by 23 (including Austria, Cuba, Mexico, New Zealand, South Africa and Venezuela), less than half of the 50 signatures necessary for its implementation.

Sweden, which had approved it in 2017, has announced that it will not sign the Treaty either – a decision behind which can be felt the influence of NATO, the sworn enemy of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Source: PandoraTV

While nuclear disarmament remains on paper, the possibility of proliferation escalates, as does the risk that the arms race will be run increasingly on the qualitative level. This was confirmed by the announcement made, on the eve of the 14 July parade, by President Macron himself – in September, France will create a new National Command for its Military Space Force, with a primary financing of 3,6 billion Euros over 6 years.

“The new space and military doctrine which was proposed to me by the Minister, and which I approved, will enable us to ensure our defence of space and by space”, declared President Macron.

So the militarisation of space is being intensified, an area of growing strategic importance, given that the main arms systems, beginning with nuclear weapons, depend on spatial systems.

With its new Space Command, France is taking up position in the wake of the United States. In February, President Trump signed a directive inaugurating the US Space Force, a force specifically designed for military operations in space, directed above all against Russia and China. The Senate Armed Services Committee, by handing the command of the new Force to the Aeronautics sector, defined space as a “field for the conduct of warfare”. The meetings announced by the United Nations in March, an attempt to prevent a spatial arms race, failed due to US opposition. The USA refused to join negotiations to discuss the first draft of a Treaty, presented by China and Russia, which would forbid the placing of weapons in space, and stipulates a series of legal limits for using space for military purposes.

While media attention was focused on the “flying man” who sky-danced over the Champs-Élysées, we forgot the fact that in a short time there will be nuclear weapons flying above our heads, in orbit around the Earth.

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This article was originally published on Il Manifesto. Translated from Italian by Pete Kimberley.

Award winning author Manlio Dinucci is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Global Research: Giving Voice to Unspoken Truths

July 17th, 2019 by The Global Research Team

Dear Readers,

We live in a world rife with unspoken truths. One such truth is the danger of a war in which nuclear weapons could be used.

Another unspoken truth is that selling the idea of such a war to the general public would not be possible without the help of media lies:

At Global Research, our goal is to try to redress the balance as best we can by presenting you with “media truths”. With so much of what is presented to us as “news” by the mainstream media being coopted, an independent news source is imperative now more than ever.

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Su-25 aircraft

Author’s note and update

Today, July 17th 2019, our thoughts are with victims of the MH17 tragedy. Five years ago on July 17, 2014

The Malaysian Airlines MH17 tragedy has resurfaced following Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad’s controversial statement at a media conference with the Japanese Foreign Correspondents Club (FCCJ):

“They [the West] are accusing Russia but where is the evidence?

“We know the missile that brought down the plane is a Russian-type missile, but it could also be made in Ukraine.”

“You need strong evidence to show it was fired by the Russians. … It could be by the rebels in Ukraine; it could be the Ukrainian government because they too have the same missile,”

Mahathir said people of Russia are military people and they would know that MH17 is a passenger plane. “I don’t think a very highly disciplined party is responsible for launching the missile,” he said.

The prime minister said Malaysia should also be involved in examining the black box as the plane belongs to Malaysia and there were Malaysian passengers.

“We may not have the expertise but we can buy the expertise. For some reason, Malaysia was not allowed to check the black box to see what happened.

 “We don’t know why we are excluded from the examination but from the very beginning, we see too much politics in it.”

“The idea was not to find out how this happened but seems to be concentrated on trying to pin it on the Russians. This is not a neutral kind of examination,” said Mahathir.

“Had a neutral party examined and made the conclusion, Malaysia is willing to accept the findings but here we have parties with political interests in the matter,”

These questions were never raised by Mahathir’s corrupt predecessor, (former) Prime Minister Najib Razak –who was involved in the 1MDB multibillion dollar financial fraud.

Prime Minister Najib actively collaborated with the Ukrainian government. He casually accepted the official story (“blame the Russians”). In August 2016, Ukraine president Poroshenko visited Malaysia for discussions with Prime Minister Razak Najib:

“Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said Malaysia will work with Ukraine to bring the perpetrators to justice. “We will do whatever we can to find the truth for the sake of families who lost their loved ones in this tragic incident. “We are waiting for the criminal investigation report, which is expected to be tabled by the year-end, followed by a meeting to decide on the next course of action,” said Najib.(New Straits Times, August 4, 2016)

Washington’s agenda in liaison with the Kiev regime (as well as with Najib Razak)  was to blame Russia.

Mahathir’s statement constitutes a political about turn.

Will the MH17 investigation be opened up again under the helm of the Malaysian government?

***

The evidence presented in this Global Research article (below) first published on July 31, 2014 contradicts the official version as reported by the Dutch Safety Board:

As we recall, the alleged role of Russia in bringing down the plane was used as a justification to implement the economic sanctions regime against Moscow. Although not explicitly mentioned by the Dutch investigators, Moscow remains the “main suspect” in this twisted and fraudulent investigation, which will no doubt be the object of a new gush of media lies and distortions. Moscow has expressed its disagreement.

They are fundamentally wrong, the lack of logic there is beyond comparison… I had a feeling that the commission was cherry-picking the evidence to suit a theory they had chosen.” Deputy head of Russia’s federal air transport agency Oleg Storchevoi (quoted by the Associated Press

Meanwhile, the Dutch investigators have decided to temporarily withhold their final verdict:  

“it soon should determine the exact launch site of the missile that brought down the plane, killing all 298 people on board.

But Fred Westerbeke, the prosecutor leading the international probe, warned Monday that completing the investigation would take much longer. He declined to name a possible finishing date.

After briefing relatives of victims on the investigation, Westerbeke pledged to complete the investigation “as quickly as possible, if only because of the frustration among the families.” (AP, March 7, 2016)

The evidence available in September 2014 –including a BBC report which the BBC decided to suppress– refutes the official story.

Since 2014, Global Research has compiled evidence and analysis which refutes the official story.

Our message to the families: The Dutch investigators are lying.

Numerous authors and specialists have contributed to the MH17 dossier, which is available on the Global Research website. Unequivocally this dossier refutes the official story.

Click Here to access an archive of 100 Global Research articles and reports on the downing of MH17. 

See the detailed study of Peter Haisenko:

Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile” By Peter Haisenko, July 30, 2014

Michel Chossudovsky, September 2016, updated June 1st, 2019 (following the statement by Prime Minister Mahathir), July 17, 2019

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“Support MH17 Truth”: OSCE Monitors Identify “Shrapnel and Machine Gun-Like Holes” indicating Shelling. No Evidence of a Missile Attack. Shot Down by a Military Aircraft

by Michel Chossudovsky

Global Research

July 31, 2014 

According to the report of German pilot and airlines expert Peter Haisenko, the MH17 Boeing 777 was not brought down by a missile.

What he observed from the available photos were perforations of the cockpit: 

 The facts speak clear and loud and are beyond the realm of speculation: The cockpit shows traces of shelling! You can see the entry and exit holes. The edge of a portion of the holes is bent inwards. These are the smaller holes, round and clean, showing the entry points most likely that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile. (Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile” Global Research, July 30, 2014)

[click image right to enlarge]

Based on detailed analysis Peter Haisenko reached  the conclusion that the MH17 was not downed by a missile attack:

This aircraft was not hit by a missile in the central portion. The destruction is limited to the cockpit area. Now you have to factor in that this part is constructed of specially reinforced material

The OSCE Mission

It is worth noting that the initial statements by OSCE observers (July 31) broadly confirm the findings of Peter Haisenko:

Monitors from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe reported that shrapnel-like holes were found in two separate pieces of the fuselage of the ill-fated Malaysia Airlines aircraft that was believed to have been downed by a missile in eastern Ukraine.

Michael Bociurkiw of the OSCE group of monitors at his daily briefing described part of the plane’s fuselage dotted with “shrapnel-like, almost machine gun-like holes.” He said the damage was inspected by Malaysian aviation-security officials .(Wall Street Journal, July 31, 2014)

 

 


The monitoring OSCE team has not found evidence of a missile fired from the ground as conveyed by official White House statements. As we recall, the US ambassador to the UN Samantha Power stated –pointing a finger at Russia– that the Malaysian MH17 plane was “likely downed by a surface-to-air missile operated from a separatist-held location”:

The team of international investigators with the Organisation for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE) are uncertain if the missile used was fired from the ground as US military experts have previously suggested, the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) reported. (Malay Mail online, emphasis added)

The initial OSCE findings tend to dispel the claim that a BUK missile system brought down the plane.

Evidently, inasmuch as the perforations are attributable to shelling, a shelling operation conducted from the ground could not have brought down an aircraft traveling above 30,000 feet.

Ukraine Su-25 military aircraft within proximity of MH17

Peter Haisenko’s study is corroborated by the Russian Ministry of Defense which pointed to a Ukrainian Su-25 jet in the flight corridor of the MH17, within proximity of the plane.

Ironically, the presence of a military aircraft is also confirmed by a BBC  report conducted at the crash site on July 23.

All the eyewitnesses  interviewed by the BBC confirmed the presence of a Ukrainian military aircraft flying within proximity of Malaysian Airlines MH17 at the time that it was shot down: 

Eyewitness #1: There were two explosions in the air. And this is how it broke apart. And [the fragments] blew apart like this, to the sides. And when …

Eyewitness #2: … And there was another aircraft, a military one, beside it. Everybody saw it.

Eyewitness #1: Yes, yes. It was flying under it, because it could be seen. It was proceeding underneath, below the civilian one.

Eyewitness #3: There were sounds of an explosion. But they were in the sky. They came from the sky. Then this plane made a sharp turn-around like this. It changed its trajectory and headed in that direction [indicating the direction with her hands].

BBC Report below (removed) scroll down for youtube version

 

The original BBC Video Report published by BBC Russian Service on July 23, 2014 has since been removed from the BBC archive.

In a bitter irony, The BBC is censoring its own news productions.

This is the BBC Report, still available on Youtube  

It has now been blocked [March 8, 2016] once more by the BBC. It is called suppressing the evidence.

BELOW SCREENSHOT OF BC TV REPORT ENTITLED “AND THERE WAS ANOTHER AIRCRAFT” SUPPRESSED BY THE BBC

Media Spin

The media has reported that a surface to air missile was indeed fired and exploded before reaching its target.  It was not the missile that brought down the plane, it was the shrapnel resulting from the missile explosion (prior to reaching the plane) which punctured the plane and then led to a loss of pressure.

According to Ukraine’s National security spokesman Andriy Lysenko in a contradictory statement, the MH17 aircraft “suffered massive explosive decompression after being hit by a shrapnel missile.”  (See IBT, Australia)

In an utterly absurd report, the BBC quoting the official Ukraine statement  says that:

The downed Malaysia Airlines jet in eastern Ukraine suffered an explosive loss of pressure after it was punctured by shrapnel from a missile.

They say the information came from the plane’s flight data recorders, which are being analysed by British experts.

However, it remains unclear who fired a missile, with pro-Russia rebels and Ukraine blaming each other.

Many of the 298 people killed on board flight MH17 were from the Netherlands.

Dutch investigators leading the inquiry into the crash have refused to comment on the Ukrainian claims.

“Machine Gun Like Holes”

The shrapnel marks should be distinguished from the small entry and exit holes “most likely that of a 30 millimeter caliber projectile” fired from a military aircraft. These holes could not have been caused by a missile explosion as hinted by the MSM.

While the MSN is saying that the “shrapnel like holes” can be caused by a missile (see BBC report above), the OSCE has confirmed the existence of what it describes as “machine gun like holes”, without however acknowledging that these cannot be caused by a missile.

In this regard, the GSh-302 firing gun operated by an Su-25 is able to fire 3000 rpm which explains the numerous entry and exit holes.

According to the findings of Peter Haisenko:

If we now consider the armament of a typical SU 25 we learn this: It is equipped with a double-barreled 30-mm gun, type GSh-302 / AO-17A, equipped with: a 250 round magazine of anti-tank incendiary shells and splinter-explosive shells (dum-dum), arranged in alternating order. The cockpit of the MH 017 has evidently been fired at from both sides: the entry and exit holes are found on the same fragment of it’s cockpit segment (op cit)

The accusations directed against Russia including the sanctions regime imposed by Washington are based on a lie.

The evidence does not support the official US narrative to the effect that the MH17 was shot down by a BUK missile system operated by the DPR militia.

What next? More media disinformation, more lies?

See:

Revelations of German Pilot: Shocking Analysis of the “Shooting Down” of Malaysian MH17. “Aircraft Was Not Hit by a Missile” By Peter Haisenko, July 30, 2014

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The reopening of Pakistani airspace to civil aviation was timed to coincide with PM Khan’s upcoming trip to the US, which is an extremely bad omen for India because it suggests that the resumption of its Afghan air corridor across Pakistani territory might be compensation for the US lifting its sanctions waiver on Chabahar in exchange for Islamabad continuing to do all that it can to encourage the Afghan peace process, which Washington prioritizes much more than ensuring New Delhi’s trade with Central Asia and the same Islamic Republic that Trump is doing all that he can to isolate.

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On the surface, the reopening of Pakistani airspace to civil aviation might seem like a purely apolitical event that most people would be forgiven for thinking was driven more by the economic motivations of recovering the nearly $100 million in overflight fees that it lost during its nearly five-month-long closure than anything else, but the reality is that this move might actually be part of the global pivot state‘s grand strategy to control its Indian rival’s access to Afghanistan and the rest of Central Asia.

New Delhi’s much-touted investments in the Iranian port of Chabahar are thought to have precluded any future possibility of Islamabad using its connective geography as leverage over its neighbor, but that vision only applies in the event that the US’ new military-strategic ally has the political will to defy Washington’s sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Thus far, the US has issued a sanctions waiver for India’s Chabahar activities because of the importance that it places on ensuring New Delhi’s trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia as part of its overall plan to use the South Asian state to “contain” China there, but that strategic calculation could change real soon.

Trump is very serious about doing all that he can to isolate Iran as part of his Hybrid War against it to exacerbate his target’s ongoing economic crisis to the point of catalyzing a Color Revolution, and the lifting of his administration’s previous sanctions waiver on the import of that country’s oil at the beginning of May saw India obediently comply with Washington’s demand to cease purchasing this resource from the Islamic Republic despite previously promising to only abide by UNSC sanctions in this respect and hitherto being Tehran’s second-largest customer. The reason why India so quickly folded in the face of American pressure is because the US was its second-largest trading partner at the time (it’s since surpassed China to become number one as of last month) and Modi couldn’t afford to have his struggling economy sanctioned by it (especially not in what was at that time the last weeks of his ultimately successful re-election campaign). Given the precedent that’s been established, India might very well submit to the US’ sanctions regime once again if Washington lifts its waiver on doing business in Chabahar, which is exactly what Pakistan wants to have happen.

The ongoing free trade talks between the US and India have seen both Great Powers play “hardball”with one another, though the overall trajectory of their discussions strongly suggests that a deal will be reached sooner or later, one which the US’ billionaire president would obviously prefer to be in his country’s favor. Since other forms of pressure have yet to advance this outcome, it’s very possible that lifting the sanctions waiver on Chabahar might be the next card that Trump will play, though considering that his administration issued the waiver in the first place in order to ensure India’s uninterrupted trade with Afghanistan and Central Asia as part of both countries’ joint strategy to “contain” China there, the US would need to have a backup plan if it were do to that, ergo the reopening of Pakistani airspace to civil aviation. That’s not all to suggest that Pakistan is contributing to China’s “containment’ by doing so, but rather that it’s cleverly improving its communist ally’s position in the region by obtaining control over their rival’s access there as a quid-pro-quo with the US for continuing to do all that it can to encourage the Afghan peace process that all three of them support.

If pressed to choose, the clinching of a peace deal in Afghanistan and subsequent large-scale military drawdown (if not full-on withdrawal) from this mindbogglingly expensive multi-trillion-dollar quagmire is much more of a priority for the US than facilitating New Delhi’s trade with Afghanistan, Central Asia, and the same Islamic Republic that Trump is doing all that he can to isolate, though America can proverbially “have its cake and eat it too” if Pakistan makes it the right proposal. PM Khan might guarantee the aforementioned support for the Afghan peace process during his upcoming negotiations with Trump in exchange for his counterpart promising to eventually lift the sanctions waiver on Chabahar, which would also accomplish the US’ other two strategic objectives of putting more pressure on India to capitulate to its trade demands and increasing Iran’s isolation. Nevertheless, the US’ Indian ally would still have access to Afghanistan via Pakistan’s newly reopened airspace, but Islamabad would be able to cut it off at any time if the neighboring rogue state provokes another regional crisis, with this scenario representing a win-win for Pakistan, the US, and even China, but a lose-lose for India.

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Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Free Speech No Longer Exists in US Universities

July 17th, 2019 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

Georgetown University law professor Jonathan Turley notes that the University of California, once a bastion of free speech, now is opposed to it. The university now punishes people for opinions expressed outside the classroom and the university. See this. 

Not that long ago American universities emphasized tolerance of all views so that truth would not be obscured by dogmas.  Little doubt this emphasis traced its heritage back to the Church’s interference in the scientific question whether the earth was the center of the solar system.  In order to save their lives, astronomers were forced to renounce their findings and to assert the truth of dogmas that they knew to be wrong.

Today the same thing is happening in American universities, only the deadly controversies are over race and gender issues, not whether the sun revolves around the earth.

When I was a student liberal professors found Voltaire to be an exemplar of the correct attitude toward free speech.  Voltaire quotes were used everywhere in the halls of learning:

“Think for yourself and let others enjoy the privilege of doing so too.”

“I may not agree with what you say, but I will defend your right to say it.”

“Cherish those who seek the truth but beware of those who find it.”

“Doubt is an uncomfortable condition, but certainty is a ridiculous one.”

“It is clear that the individual who persecutes a man, his brother, because he is not of the same opinion, is a monster.”

Today Voltaire is never heard from. Dogma has shoved aside tolerance and taken control of American universities in which Political Correctness, an ideology or religion in which emotional-based beliefs of certain “preferred” groups with aristocratic or Vatican privileges cannot be “offended” by facts or by someone’s contrary opinion. 

The latest case of academic persecution is Laura Tanner, a doctoral candidate and teaching assistant in the Department of Feminist Studies at the Santa Barbara campus of the University of California, formerly a great university, now a cesspool of intolerance and Identity Politics.

Despite her feminist credentials, Tanner is under attack, not for what she said in the classroom, but for what she expressed in tweets. She expressed her opinion that “It’s not possible to be born in the wrong body.”  Therefore a man in a man’s body cannot claim to be a woman.  This exercise in plausible deductive reasoning resulted in Tanner being labeled “transphobic.”  

A former student of Tanner’s, —Kremina Youssef—seems set on destroying Tanner’s career prospects simply because Tanner expressed an opinion on Twitter with which Youssef disagrees.  Students and alumni have taken the position that although Tanner excels in her teaching role, she should be fired for her “distressing” view on transgenderism.  The fact that the vast majority of Americans do not find Tanner’s view distressing is considered irrelevant.  

Laury Oaks, the chairperson of the Feminist Studies department, believes that a Title IX civil rights complaint can be filed against Tanner.  The position taken by the intolerant freaks attempting to destroy Tanner for “distressing” a newly invented gender based on self-declaration is:

“We acknowledge that the gender binary, as it is commonly understood in the US, is rooted in the logics of colonialism, racism, and gendered domination, and that fighting transphobia is integral to resisting and healing from the harms that these systems create. The violence of transphobia, particularly transmisogyny, falls especially hard on communities of color and contributes to the exploitation, criminalization, and incarceration disproportionately experienced by black, brown, immigrant, and working class people. As queer students, students of color, and/or allies, our visions of feminist futures include and affirm people made invisible by and marginalized by the gender binary. In our classrooms, we are committed to holding space for trans students, including taking seriously trans students’ experiences, standpoints, and intellectual contributions.”

Note that among this collection of nonsense words there is space “in our classrooms” for transgender ideology, but no space outside the classroom for other views on the subject.  

To see the undeniable total collapse of university education and the very pillars of Western civilization, ask yourself what Voltaire would have said about this.  What is happening in American universities is far worse than Papal objections to astronomers’ findings.  It seemed to the Church that the astronomers were contradicting the very basis of the Church’s religious teachings.  But Tanner, who, unlike the Pope in those long ago days, is powerless to impose her views on anyone.  Yet, the “transgender community” is determined to impose their views on everyone and to destroy the career of a young feminist.  It looks like they will succeed.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Desde que a revolução iraniana chegou ao poder em 1979, o mundo pôs-se contra o Irã, porque a “República Islâmica” resiste a reconhecer e curvar-se à dominação dos EUA sobre o Oriente Médio e todo o mundo. Digo “o mundo”, porque depois da revolução iraniana veio a Perestroika [ru. “restruturação e reforma do sistema econômico e político”] russa e o fim do império soviético que havia sido superpotência à altura de enfrentar os EUA.

Além do mais, o Irã está arruinando as vendas de armas dos EUA — apesar da quantia exuberante investida em países do Oriente Médio cujos líderes consideram pagar por proteção aos EUA, mas não pensam em estabelecer novo conjunto de Regras de Engajamento e atacar os planos dos EUA para um “novo Oriente Médio”. O Irã é responsável por ameaçar os planos de segurança e expansão do principal aliado dos EUA na Região, Israel. Embora muitos especialistas e funcionários e intelectuais no ocidente tenham conhecimento profundo do Irã, os políticos não têm conseguido encontrar a política e as palavras certas que levassem o Irã a uma mesa de negociações.

Sanções no Irã nada têm de novidade. A “República Islâmica” assumiu o governo do país há 40 anos, e desde então os iranianos vivem sob sanções. Presidente Carter baniu importações de petróleo iraniano; congelou $12 bilhões em contas iranianas e proibiu todo o comércio e todas as viagens ao Irã em 1980. Presidente Reagan declarou o Irã estado patrocinador de terrorismo, opôs-se a empréstimos internacionais, autorizou escoltas navais para embarcações no Golfo Persa, e impôs novamente o embargo contra importações iranianas. Presidente Clinton (Ordem Executiva n. 12959) expandiu as sanções, baniu todos os tipos de investimentos dos EUA e qualquer envolvimento na indústria iraniana de petróleo. Presidente George W. Bush congelou bens de indivíduos, grupos, entidades estrangeiras e empresas que ajudavam ou apoiavam ou negociavam com o Irã. Presidente Obama baniu alimentos e tapetes iranianos, impôs sanções contra o Corpo de Guardas da Revolução Islâmica [ing. IRGC] e cortou todos os negócios com instituições financeiras que negociavam com o banco central do Irã.

Apesar de todas essas sanções, o líder da revolução controla ativos de dezenas de bilhões de dólares. Said Ali Khamenei recorreu ao Fundo de Desenvolvimento Nacional (FDN) não faz muito, do qual obteve quatro bilhões para desenvolvimento de mísseis. Numa crise real, o Irã pode sobreviver da venda de parte de seu petróleo a países que rejeitaram as sanções unilaterais dos EUA, repassando centenas de milhares de barris diários para o “mercado sombra”, para assim aumentar suas exportações de petróleo.

Vê-se que sanções não são novidade para o Irã, apesar dos duros efeitos sobre a sociedade iraniana, e não afetarão o regime como tal. De mais importante, o Irã assumiu a tarefa de fazer “a justa luta de todos os povos oprimidos” e de rejeitar todas as formas de dominação imperial. A Constituição do Irã (artigos 3, 152 e 154) ordena a eliminação completa do imperialismo e da influência estrangeira sobre o Irã. A liderança iraniana tem limites e objetivos claros.

O líder iraniano Said Ali Khamenei tem poder financeiro suficiente para apoiar todos os grupos e parceiros no Oriente Médio, não importa por quanto tempo persistam as sanções. As ameaças EUA-israelenses consolidaram o objetivo do Irã, de financiar, armar e apoiar todos seus parceiros no Oriente Médio, de tal modo que, no caso de guerra que ameace a segurança e a existência nacionais do Irã, o país não está sozinho e pode causar dano significativo aos inimigos.

Os mísseis de precisão do Irã, seus mísseis cruzadores e suas capacidades de drones provocaram dano considerável nas vendas de armas dos EUA na região no longo prazo, ao mostrar que as armas dos EUA não funcionam como diz a propaganda. Os dronesiranianos já destruíram até um míssil Patriot dos EUA – mostrando as limitações dos EUA, que se queria opositor equivalente do sistema S-400 russo.

Ao mandar mísseis para o Líbano, o Irã ajudou o Hezbollah a desenvolver a própria capacidade para causar dano severo a plataformas de petróleo israelenses, portos, infraestrutura civil e militar, tanques israelenses, aeroportos, barcos, e a criar novas regras de engajamento, apesar da clara superioridade da força aérea, marinha, infantaria e equipamento militar avançado, de Israel.

Mais importante que isso, a rápida intervenção do Irã no Iraque em 2014 depois da queda de Mosul e 40% das províncias iraquianas, fez gorar os planos dos EUA para dividir o país. O Irã ajudou a converter o grupo iraniano de mobilização popular,Hashd Al-Shaabi, numa força dominante nos moldes do Sepah-e Pasdaran (Corpo de Guardas da Revolução Iraniana). O Sepah foi criado para proteger o país e o “valor da revolução”, no tempo em que o ocidente controlava metade do exército iraniano sob governo do xá. Hoje, o Iraque enfrenta situação similar, onde os EUA controlam muitos elementos dentro do exército iraquiano. Mesmo assim, o Hashd Al-Shaabi, com seu robusto compromisso ideológico, defenderá o Irã ainda por décadas à frente.

Além disso, na Síria, dúzias de nações (incluindo EUA, Europa, Arábia Saudita, Qatar e Turquia) fracassaram na tentativa de ‘mudar o regime’, inobstante a quantidade massiva de dinheiro e de equipamento militar. O apoio do Irã e aliados, e a participação da Rússia depois de setembro de 2015 provaram-se mais efetivos que as forças terroristas coletadas de mais de 100 países e patrocinadas pelo ocidente e aliados. Um governo estável em Damasco faz gorar o plano EUA-Israel de dividir a Síria e criar lá um estado falhado. O ministro da Defesa de Israel Moshe Ya’alon disse que “prefere que o terror do Estado Islâmico assuma o controle do território (sírio)”.

O armamento caro e sofisticado que os EUA venderam à Arábia Saudita e aos Emirados Árabes Unidos comprovou-se insuficiente para conter o Iêmen e os Houthis. Não conseguiu garantir a segurança dos navios-tanques que foram sabotados nos Emirados Árabes Unidos; e não impediu ataques contra outros navios-tanques que navegam no Golfo, para impedir ataques contra duas estações de bombeamento da Aramco na Arábia Saudita, e impedir ataques a aeroportos sauditas e baterias de mísseis Patriot.

O Irã é hoje um dos grandes atores dominantes no Oriente Médio e, ao fortalecer seus aliados, conseguiu impedir que os EUA impusessem um “Novo Oriente Médio”. Negociou e assinou um tratado nuclear não cogente com potências ocidentais em 2015, quando o governo Obama entendeu que sanções haviam sido inócuas e quis deter o rápido progresso do Irã no processo de construir capacidade nuclear, incluindo materiais de grau militar.

O Irã não foi tolo de assinar acordo baseado em cega confiança entre os signatários. O acordo criou um equilíbrio entre os linhas-duras e pragmáticos iranianos, ao incluir cláusulas que permitem retirada parcial e total, em caso de não cumprimento [ing. non-compliance]. O Irã mostrou-se paciente; esperou 14 meses antes de dar o primeiro passo e aumentar de 3,67 para 4,5% a porcentagem de urânio puro, no urânio enriquecido. Se o Irã alcançar 20% (considerado Urânio Baixo Enriquecido, mas números muito difíceis de alcançar) ou 70% (Urânio Alto Enriquecido), esse progresso será um alerta gradual, dando à Europa tempo suficiente para se distanciar dos EUA, mesmo antes de o Irã alcançar níveis adequados para produzir uma bomba. Urânio para armas tem de ser enriquecido a 80-90%.

Governos europeus baseiam a própria noção de lei e ordem em princípios do Iluminismo e os usam para parecer legítimos. Os estados europeus estão apanhados entre o relacionamento com os EUA e os compromissos assumidos com o Irã. Os líderes europeus serão desafiados a honrar o “Acordo Nuclear” (ing. JCPOA) que assinaram (França, Alemanha e o Reino Unido).

O Irã não quer projetar fraqueza em nenhuma de suas discussões de negociação ou nos passos que está dando. Não está em posição de recuar das respostas que prometeu contra os embargos impostos pelos EUA, a menos que a Europa ofereça alívio considerável – meio econômico significativo para contornar algumas das sanções dos EUA. É crucial para o Irã mostrar que sai com honra, que preserva o orgulho nacional e a dignidade do próprio povo e não recua da decisão de saída gradual, principalmente porque foi o presidente dos EUA quem revogou o acordo nuclear.

O presidente Donald Trump está oferecendo ao mundo um novo modelo de terrorismo à moda hooligan: pego o que quero, passo a mão no que bem entenda, tudo é meu sem consideração por qualquer país ou indivíduo, e todos têm de pagar aos EUA, se quiserem ter proteção. Os valores dos EUA deixaram de ser respeitados no mundo, e Washington já não é considerada parceira ou intermediária possível em qualquer crise, em qualquer lugar do mundo.

O embaixador do Reino Unido em Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, falou da “irradiante insegurança” de Trump, e descreveu a Casa Branca, como “ambiente disfuncional inigualável”. Assim, é claro que enquanto Trump estiver na presidência, os EUA não se qualificam como signatários confiáveis para firmar e manter qualquer acordo estável, no qual seja possível confiar, com o Irã. Depois que Trump encerrar o primeiro ou o segundo mandato, será ainda necessário um longo intervalo, antes de que seja possível retomar conversações nucleares com o Irã.

O único interlocutor que resta ao Irã é a Europa, mesmo que haja bem pouco a esperar do Velho (e dividido) Continente. Mas a possibilidade de guerra EUA-Irã (e EUA contra todo o Oriente Médio) aumenta dramaticamente, se Trump for reeleito. O Irã e seus aliados sabem disso, avaliam que Trump tem boa chance de ser reeleito, e preparam-se para uma possível futura guerra.

Elijah J. Magnier

Artigo original em inglês : The Uk Must Release the Iranian Tanker; the Uae’s Mission to Tehran, 14 de Julho de 2019.

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Merger Mania: The Military-Industrial Complex on Steroids

July 17th, 2019 by William D. Hartung

When, in his farewell address in 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the “unwarranted influence” wielded by the “military-industrial complex,” he could never have dreamed of an arms-making corporation of the size and political clout of Lockheed Martin. In a good year, it now receives up to $50 billion in government contracts, a sum larger than the operating budget of the State Department. And now it’s about to have company.

Raytheon, already one of the top five U.S. defense contractors, is planning to merge with United Technologies. That company is a major contractor in its own right, producing, among other things, the engine for the F-35 combat aircraft, the most expensive Pentagon weapons program ever. The new firm will be second only to Lockheed Martin when it comes to consuming your tax dollars — and it may end up even more powerful politically, thanks to President Trump’s fondness for hiring arms industry executives to run the national security state.

Just as Boeing benefited from its former Senior Vice President Patrick Shanahan’s stint as acting secretary of defense, so Raytheon is likely to cash in on the nomination of its former top lobbyist, Mike Esper, as his successor. Esper’s elevation comes shortly after another former Raytheon lobbyist, Charles Faulkner, left the State Department amid charges that he had improperly influenced decisions to sell Raytheon-produced guided bombs to Saudi Arabia for its brutal air war in Yemen. John Rood, third-in-charge at the Pentagon, has worked for both Lockheed Martin and Raytheon, while Ryan McCarthy, Mike Esper’s replacement as secretary of the Army, worked for Lockheed on the F-35, which the Project on Government Oversight (POGO) has determined may never be ready for combat.

And so it goes. There was a time when Donald Trump was enamored of “his” generals Secretary of Defense James Mattis (a former board member of the weapons-maker General Dynamics), National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly. Now, he seems to have a crush on personnel from the industrial side of the military-industrial complex.

As POGO’s research has demonstrated, the infamous “revolving door” that deposits defense executives like Esper in top national security posts swings both ways. The group estimates that, in 2018 alone, 645 senior government officials — mostly from the Pentagon, the uniformed military, and Capitol Hill — went to work as executives, consultants, or board members of one of the top 20 defense contractors.

Fifty years ago, Wisconsin Senator William Proxmire identified the problem when he noted that:

“the movement of high ranking military officers into jobs with defense contractors and the reverse movement of top executives in major defense contractors into high Pentagon jobs is solid evidence of the military-industrial complex in operation. It is a real threat to the public interest because it increases the chances of abuse… How hard a bargain will officers involved in procurement planning or specifications drive when they are one or two years away from retirement and have the example to look at of over 2,000 fellow officers doing well on the outside after retirement?”

In other words, that revolving door and the problems that go with it are anything but new. Right now, however, it seems to be spinning faster than ever — and mergers like the Raytheon-United Technologies one are only likely to feed the phenomenon.

The Last Supper

The merger of Raytheon and United Technologies should bring back memories of the merger boom of the 1990s, when Lockheed combined with Martin Marietta to form Lockheed Martin, Northrop and Grumman formed Northrop Grumman, and Boeing absorbed rival military aircraft manufacturer McDonnell Douglas. And it wasn’t just a matter of big firms pairing up either. Lockheed Martin itself was the product of mergers and acquisitions involving nearly two dozen companies — distinctly a tale of big fish chowing down on little fish. The consolidation of the arms industry in those years was strongly encouraged by Clinton administration Secretary of Defense William Perry, who held a dinner with defense executives that was later dubbed “the last supper.” There, he reportedly told the assembled corporate officials that a third of them would be out of business in five years if they didn’t merge with one of their cohorts.

The Clinton administration’s encouragement of defense industry mergers would prove anything but rhetorical. It would, for instance, provide tens of millions of dollars in merger subsidies to pay for the closing of plants, the moving of equipment, and other necessities. It even picked up part of the tab for the golden parachutes given defense executives and corporate board members ousted in those deals.

The most egregious case was surely that of Norman Augustine. The CEO of Martin Marietta, he would actually take over at the helm of the even more powerful newly created Lockheed Martin. In the process, he received $8.2 million in payments, technically for leaving his post as head of Martin Marietta. U.S. taxpayers would cover more than a third of his windfall. Then, a congressman who has only gained stature in recent years, Representative Bernie Sanders (I-VT), began to fight back against those merger subsidies. He dubbed them “payoffs for layoffs” because executives got government-funded bailouts, while an estimated 19,000 workers were laid off in the Lockheed Martin merger alone with no particular taxpayer support. Sanders was actually able to shepherd through legislation that clawed back some, but not all, of those merger subsidies.

According to one argument in favor of the merger binge then, by closing half-empty factories, the new firms could charge less overhead and taxpayers would benefit. Well, dream on. This never came near happening, because the newly merged industrial behemoths turned out to have even greater bargaining power over the Pentagon and Congress than the unmerged companies that preceded them.

Draw your own conclusions about what’s likely to happen in this next round of mergers, since cost overruns and lucrative contracts continue apace. Despite this dismal record, Raytheon CEO Thomas Kennedy claims that the new corporate pairing will — you guessed it! — save the taxpayers money. Don’t hold your breath.

Influence on Steroids

While Donald Trump briefly expressed reservations about the Raytheon-United Technologies merger and a few members of Congress struck notes of caution, it has been welcomed eagerly on Wall Street. Among the reasons given: the fact that the two companies generally make different products, so their union shouldn’t reduce competition in any specific sector of defense production. It has also been claimed that the new combo, to be known as Raytheon Technologies, will have more funds available for research and development on the weapons of the future.

But focusing on such concerns misses the big picture. Raytheon Technologies will have more money to make campaign contributions, more money to hire lobbyists, and more production sites that can be used as leverage over members of Congress loathe to oppose spending on weapons produced in their states or districts. The classic example of this phenomenon: the F-35 program, which Lockheed Martin claims produces 125,000 jobs spread over 46 states.

When I took a careful look at the company’s estimates, I found that they were claiming approximately twice as many jobs as that weapons system was actually creating. In fact, more than half of F-35-related employment was in just two states, California and Texas (though many other states did have modest numbers of F-35 jobs). Even if Lockheed Martin’s figures are exaggerated, however, there’s no question that spreading defense jobs around the country gives weapons manufacturers unparalleled influence over key members of Congress, much to their benefit when Pentagon budget time rolls around. In fact, it’s a commonplace for Congress to fund more F-35s, F-18s, and similar weapons systems than the Pentagon even asks for. So much for Congressional oversight.

Theoretically, incoming defense secretary Mike Esper will have to recuse himself from major decisions involving his former company. Among them, whether to continue selling Raytheon-produced precision-guided bombs to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for their devastating air war in Yemen that has killed remarkable numbers of civilians.

No worries. President Trump himself is the biggest booster in living memory of corporate arms sales and Saudi Arabia is far and away his favorite customer. The Senate recently voted down a package of “emergency” arms sales to the Saudis and the UAE that included thousands of Raytheon Paveway munitions, the weapon of choice in that Yemeni air campaign. A similar vote must now take place in the House, but even if it, too, passes, Congress will need to override a virtually guaranteed Trump veto of the bill.

The Raytheon-United Technologies merger will further implicate the new firm in Yemeni developments because the Pratt and Whitney division of United Technologies makes the engine for Saudi Arabia’s key F-15S combat aircraft, a mainstay of the air war there. Not only will Raytheon Technologies profit from such engine sales, but that company’s technicians are likely to help maintain the Saudi air force, thereby enabling it to fly yet more bombing missions more often.

When pressed, Raytheon officials argue that, in enabling mass slaughter, they are simply following U.S. government policy. This ignores the fact that Raytheon and other weapons contractors spend tens of millions of dollars a year on lobbyists, political contributions, and other forms of influence peddling trying to shape U.S. policies on arms exports and weapons procurement. They are, in other words, anything but passive recipients of edicts handed down from Washington.

As Raytheon chief financial officer Toby O’Brien put it in a call to investors that came after the murder of Washington Post columnist Jamal Khashoggi,

“We continue to be aligned with the administration’s policies, and we intend to honor our commitments.”

Lockheed Martin CEO Marillyn Hewson made a similar point, asserting that “most of these agreements that we have are government-to-government purchases, so anything that we do has to follow strictly the regulations of the U.S. government… Beyond that, we’ll just work with the U.S. government as they are continuing their relationship with [the Saudis].”

How Powerful Are the Military-Industrial Combines?

When it comes to lobbying the Pentagon and Congress, size matters. Major firms like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, and Raytheon can point to the jobs they and their subcontractors provide in dozens of states and scores of Congressional districts to keep members of Congress in line who might otherwise question or even oppose the tens of billions of dollars in government funding the companies receive annually.

Raytheon — its motto: “Customer Success Is Our Mission” — has primary operations in 16 states: Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, California, Colorado, Florida, Indiana, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Texas, Utah, and Virginia. That translates into a lot of leverage over key members of Congress and it doesn’t even count states where the company has major subcontractors. The addition of United Technologies will reinforce the new company’s presence in a number of those states, while adding Connecticut, Iowa, New York, and North Carolina (in other words, at least 20 states in all).

Meanwhile, if the merger is approved, the future Raytheon Technologies will be greasing the wheels of its next arms contracts by relying on nearly four dozen former government officials the two separate companies hired as lobbyists, executives, and board members in 2018 alone. Add to that the $6.4 million in campaign contributions and $20 million in lobbying expenses Raytheon clocked during the last two election cycles and the outlines of its growing influence begin to become clearer. Then, add as well the $2.9 million in campaign contributions and $40 million in lobbying expenses racked up by its merger partner United Technologies and you have a lobbying powerhouse rivaled only by Lockheed Martin, the world’s largest defense conglomerate.

President Eisenhower’s proposed counterweight to the power of the military-industrial complex was to be “an alert and knowledgeable citizenry.” And there are signs that significant numbers of individuals and organizations are beginning to pay more attention to the machinations of the arms lobby. My own outfit, the Center for International Policy, has launched a Sustainable Defense Task Force composed of former military officers and Pentagon officials, White House and Congressional budget experts, and research staffers from progressive and good-government groups. It has already crafted a plan that would cut $1.2 trillion from the Pentagon budget over the next decade, while improving U.S. security by avoiding unnecessary wars, eliminating waste, and scaling back a Pentagon nuclear-weapons buildup slated to cost $1.5 trillion or more over the next three decades.

The Poor People’s Campaign, backed by research conducted by the National Priorities Project of the Institute for Policy Studies, is calling for a one-year $350 billion cut in Pentagon expenditures. And a new network called “Put People Over the Pentagon” has brought together more than 20 progressive organizations to press presidential candidates to cut $200 billion annually from the Department of Defense’s bloated budget. Participants in the network include Public Citizen, Moveon.org, Indivisible, Win Without War, 350.org, Friends of the Earth, and United We Dream, many of them organizations that had not, in past years, made reducing the Pentagon budget a priority.

Raytheon and its arms industry allies won’t sit still in the face of such proposals, but at least the days of unquestioned and unchallenged corporate greed in the ever-merging (but also ever-expanding) arms industry may be coming to an end. The United States has paid an exorbitantly high price in blood and treasure (as have countries like Afghanistan and Iraq) for letting the military-industrial complex steer the American ship of state through this century so far. It’s long past time for a reckoning.

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

William D. Hartung, a TomDispatch regular, is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy and the author ofProphets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.

Since when have we Americans been expected to bow submissively to authority and speak with awe and reverence to those who represent us? The constitutional theory is that we the people are the sovereigns, the state and federal officials only our agents. We who have the final word can speak softly or angrily. We can seek to challenge and annoy, as we need not stay docile and quiet.”— Justice William O. Douglas

Unjust. Brutal. Criminal. Corrupt. Inept. Greedy. Power-hungry. Racist. Immoral. Murderous. Evil. Dishonest. Crooked. Excessive. Deceitful. Untrustworthy. Unreliable. Tyrannical.

These are all words that have at some time or other been used to describe the U.S. government.

These are all words that I have used at some time or other to describe the U.S. government. That I may feel morally compelled to call out the government for its wrongdoing does not make me any less of an American.

If I didn’t love this country, it would be easy to remain silent. However, it is because I love my country, because I believe fervently that if we lose freedom here, there will be no place to escape to, I will not remain silent.

Nor should you.

Nor should any other man, woman or child—no matter who they are, where they come from, what they look like, or what they believe.

Image on the right is from RadarOnline.com

This is the beauty of the dream-made-reality that is America. As Chelsea Manning recognized,

We’re citizens, not subjects. We have the right to criticize government without fear.

Indeed, the First Amendment does more than give us a right to criticize our country: it makes it a civic duty. Certainly, if there is one freedom among the many spelled out in the Bill of Rights that is especially patriotic, it is the right to criticize the government.

The right to speak out against government wrongdoing is the quintessential freedom.

Unfortunately, those who run the government don’t take kindly to individuals who speak truth to power. In fact, the government has become increasingly intolerant of speech that challenges its power, reveals its corruption, exposes its lies, and encourages the citizenry to push back against the government’s many injustices.

This is nothing new, nor is it unique to any particular presidential administration.

President Trump, who delights in exercising his right to speak (and tweet) freely about anything and everything that raises his ire, has shown himself to be far less tolerant of those with whom he disagrees, especially when they exercise their right to criticize the government.

In his first few years in office, Trump has declared the media to be “the enemy of the people,” suggested that protesting should be illegal, and that NFL players who kneel in protest during the national anthem “shouldn’t be in the country.” More recently, Trump lashed out at four Democratic members of Congress—all women of color— who have been particularly critical of his policies, suggesting that they “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.”

Image result for kellyanne conway

Fanning the flames of controversy, White House advisor Kellyanne Conway suggested that anyone who criticizes the country, disrespects the flag, and doesn’t support the Trump Administration’s policies should also leave the country.

The uproar over Trump’s “America—love it or leave it” remarks have largely focused on its racist overtones, but that misses the point: it’s un-American to be anti-free speech.

It’s unfortunate that Trump and his minions are so clueless about the Constitution. Then again, Trump is not alone in his presidential disregard for the rights of the citizenry, especially as it pertains to the right of the people to criticize those in power.

President Obama signed into law anti-protest legislation that makes it easier for the government to criminalize protest activities (10 years in prison for protesting anywhere in the vicinity of a Secret Service agent). The Obama Administration also waged a war on whistleblowers, which The Washington Post described as “the most aggressive I’ve seen since the Nixon administration,” and “spied on reporters by monitoring their phone records.”

Part of the Patriot Act signed into law by President George W. Bush made it a crime for an American citizen to engage in peaceful, lawful activity on behalf of any group designated by the government as a terrorist organization. Under this provision, even filing an amicus brief on behalf of an organization the government has labeled as terrorist would constitute breaking the law.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt authorized the FBI to censor all news and control communications in and out of the country in the wake of the attack on Pearl Harbor. Roosevelt also signed into law the Smith Act, which made it a crime to advocate by way of speech for the overthrow of the U.S. government by force or violence.

President Woodrow Wilson signed into law the Espionage and Sedition Acts, which made it illegal to criticize the government’s war efforts.

President Abraham Lincoln seized telegraph lines, censored mail and newspaper dispatches, and shut down members of the press who criticized his administration.

In 1798, during the presidency of John Adams, Congress passed the Alien and Sedition Acts, which made it a crime to “write, print, utter or publish … any false, scandalous, and malicious” statements against the government, Congress or president of the United States.

Clearly, the government has been undermining our free speech rights for quite a while now, but Trump’s antagonism towards free speech is much more overt.

For example, at a recent White House Social Media Summit, Trump defined free speech as follows:

“To me free speech is not when you see something good and then you purposely write bad. To me that’s very dangerous speech, and you become angry at it. But that’s not free speech.”

Except Trump is about as wrong as one can be on this issue.

Good, bad or ugly, it’s all free speech unless as defined by the government it falls into one of the following categories: obscenity, fighting words, defamation (including libel and slander), child pornography, perjury, blackmail, incitement to imminent lawless action, true threats, and solicitations to commit crimes.

This idea of “dangerous” speech, on the other hand, is peculiarly authoritarian in nature. What it amounts to is speech that the government fears could challenge its chokehold on power.

The kinds of speech the government considers dangerous enough to red flag and subject to censorship, surveillance, investigation, prosecution and outright elimination include: hate speech, bullying speech, intolerant speech, conspiratorial speech, treasonous speech, threatening speech, incendiary speech, inflammatory speech, radical speech, anti-government speech, right-wing speech, left-wing speech, extremist speech, politically incorrect speech, etc.

Conduct your own experiment into the government’s tolerance of speech that challenges its authority, and see for yourself.

Stand on a street corner—or in a courtroom, at a city council meeting or on a university campus—and recite some of the rhetoric used by the likes of Thomas Jefferson, Patrick Henry, John Adams and Thomas Paine without referencing them as the authors.

For that matter, just try reciting the Declaration of Independence, which rejects tyranny, establishes Americans as sovereign beings, recognizes God (not the government) as the Supreme power, portrays the government as evil, and provides a detailed laundry list of abuses that are as relevant today as they were 240-plus years ago.

My guess is that you won’t last long before you get thrown out, shut up, threatened with arrest or at the very least accused of being a radical, a troublemaker, a sovereign citizen, a conspiratorialist or an extremist.

Try suggesting, as Thomas Jefferson and Benjamin Franklin did, that Americans should not only take up arms but be prepared to shed blood in order to protect their liberties, and you might find yourself placed on a terrorist watch list and vulnerable to being rounded up by government agents.

“What country can preserve its liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance. Let them take arms,” declared Jefferson. He also concluded that “the tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots and tyrants.” Observed Franklin: “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

Better yet, try suggesting as Thomas Paine, Marquis De Lafayette, John Adams and Patrick Henry did that Americans should, if necessary, defend themselves against the government if it violates their rights, and you will be labeled a domestic extremist.

“It is the duty of the patriot to protect his country from its government,” insisted Paine. “When the government violates the people’s rights,” Lafayette warned, “insurrection is, for the people and for each portion of the people, the most sacred of the rights and the most indispensable of duties.” Adams cautioned, “A settled plan to deprive the people of all the benefits, blessings and ends of the contract, to subvert the fundamentals of the constitution, to deprive them of all share in making and executing laws, will justify a revolution.” And who could forget Patrick Henry with his ultimatum: “Give me liberty or give me death!”

Then again, perhaps you don’t need to test the limits of free speech for yourself.

One such test is playing out before our very eyes on the national stage led by none other than the American Police State’s self-appointed Censor-in-Chief, who seems to believe that only individuals who agree with the government are entitled to the protections of the First Amendment.

To the contrary, James Madison, the father of the Constitution, was very clear about the fact that the First Amendment was established to protect the minority against the majority.

I’ll take that one step further: the First Amendment was intended to protect the citizenry from the government’s tendency to censor, silence and control what people say and think.

Having lost our tolerance for free speech in its most provocative, irritating and offensive forms, the American people have become easy prey for a police state where only government speech is allowed. You see, the powers-that-be understand that if the government can control speech, it controls thought and, in turn, it can control the minds of the citizenry.

This is how freedom rises or falls.

As Hermann Goering, one of Hitler’s top military leaders, remarked during the Nuremberg trials:

It is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.

It is working the same in this country, as well.

Americans of all stripes would do well to remember that those who question the motives of government provide a necessary counterpoint to those who would blindly follow where politicians choose to lead.

We don’t have to agree with every criticism of the government, but we must defend the rights of allindividuals to speak freely without fear of punishment or threat of banishment.

Never forget: what the architects of the police state want are submissive, compliant, cooperative, obedient, meek citizens who don’t talk back, don’t challenge government authority, don’t speak out against government misconduct, and don’t step out of line.

What the First Amendment protects—and a healthy constitutional republic requires—are citizens who routinely exercise their right to speak truth to power.

As I point out in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, tolerance for dissent is vital if we are to survive as a free nation.

While there are all kinds of labels being put on so-called “unacceptable” speech today, the real message being conveyed by those in power is that Americans don’t have a right to express themselves if what they are saying is unpopular, controversial or at odds with what the government determines to be acceptable.

By suppressing free speech, the government is contributing to a growing underclass of Americans who are being told that they can’t take part in American public life unless they “fit in.”

Mind you, it won’t be long before anyone who believes in holding the government accountable to respecting our rights and abiding by the rule of law is labeled an “extremist,” is relegated to an underclass that doesn’t fit in, must be watched all the time, and is rounded up when the government deems it necessary.

It doesn’t matter how much money you make, what politics you subscribe to, or what God you worship: we are all potential suspects, terrorists and lawbreakers in the eyes of the government.

In other words, if and when this nation falls to tyranny, we will all suffer the same fate: we will fall together.

The stamping boot of tyranny is but one crashing foot away.

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Note to readers: please click the share buttons above or below. Forward this article to your email lists. Crosspost on your blog site, internet forums. etc.

This article was originally published on The Rutherford Institute.

Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  is available at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

Even The Telegraph – an ardent and enthusiastic cheerleader for Brexit with its traditional right-wing stance and influence over conservative activists has had to admit that in post-Brexit Britain, taking back control means – taking orders. And it looks like Britain is falling into line as ordered.

After the debacle that saw a British diplomat resign due to the pricking of Donald Trump’s thin-skinned ego – his impetuous demands have just signalled through American trade negotiators that the next prime minister’s hopes of a post-Brexit trade deal with the United States rest on his willingness to fall in line with tough American policies against the Chinese telecoms giant Huawei.

Whitehall correspondence seen by The Sunday Telegraph reveals that British officials close to transatlantic trade talks believe allowing Huawei to provide equipment for new 5G mobile networks could be a deal-breaker. So that’s it. After years of talks and contract negotiations between British government officials with the telecoms giant – the will of America must be bowed to.

Also confirmed as a deal breaker is the unacceptably high price of trading with Trump that was laid bare as he declared that the NHS would be ‘on the table’ for a future trade deal. This is not the first time that Trump has demanded full access to Britain’s healthcare industry. The same has been said for agricultural goods.

As Heidi Chow put it in a recent piece for Global Justice Now –

the threat to the NHS of a US trade deal would be through clauses that lock in existing levels of privatisation and prevent future governments from rolling back deregulation and privatisation in the NHS. This is not only dangerous for the future of our NHS as it entrenches privatisation but also undermines our democracy as future governments would be shackled by the binding provisions of a US trade deal.”

There you go again – Britain is being told what it can and can’t do for the benefit of its citizens by a foreign state.

The US negotiating objectives include demands for government regulatory reimbursement regimes’ to be ‘…nondiscriminatory and provide full market access for U.S. products’ In other words, a US trade deal could see an attack on the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE), which assesses the clinical and cost-effectiveness of new medicines for the NHS and attempts to keep prices paid for by the public under control.

Dr. TJ Coles is an Associate Researcher at the Organisation for Propaganda Studies. He wrote extensively about the myth of a post-Brexit UK/US trade deal:

“So-called free trade deals, like the proposed, post-Brexit US-UK arrangement, are designed to maximize US corporate profits and privatize resources in other nations, including land, water, services, and intellectual property. They have less to do with trade and more to do with lowering standards in third countries so that US corporations can benefit from tax breaks, de-unionized labour and low import tariffs.

‘Free trade’ ideology has many weapons in its arsenal: secrecy over trade agreements, corporate media support in the run-up to implementation and bipartisan political endorsement. And most astonishing are the secret arbitration arrangements called Inter-State Dispute Settlements (ISDSs) which enable corporations to sue governments.”

The Office of the US Trade Representative makes it absolutely clear what it means to have a trade deal with America. Dr Coles explains that – “Governments put ISDS in place … to signal potential investors that the rule of law will be respected. In this case, ‘rule of law’ appears to mean the green light for corporations to do as they please, within fairly wide limits.”

ISDS – Legalised American Racketeering

The Washington-based ISDS was founded through the World Bank in 1965 as a court of arbitration for states and corporations. In reality, it’s an American run racket where the US can bully and sue whoever they see fit for maximum profit and not the other way round.

Brazenly, the Office of the US Trade Representative actually brags about this success

Because of the safeguards in US agreements and because of the high standards of our legal system, foreign investors rarely pursue arbitration against the United States and have never been successful when they have done so … [W]e have never once lost an ISDS case’ (as of 2015). Not only this, but ‘in number of instances, panels have awarded the United States attorneys’ fees [sic] after the United States successfully defended frivolous or otherwise non-meritorious claims.

Manuel Pérez-Rocha at the US Institute for Policy Studies writes that ‘countries from Indonesia to Peru are facing investor-state suits. Mexico and Canada have lost or settled five each under [the US-led North American Free Trade Agreement] Nafta, paying hundreds of millions of dollars in compensation.

In 2012, Ecuador was ordered to pay just under $1.77 billion to a subsidiary of the Texas-based Occidental Petroleum for alleged contract cancellations. The case was annulled and Ecuador settled to pay just over $900 million. Venezuela was ordered to pay $1.6 billion to the Texas-based Exxon to compensate for oil nationalization. ‘Nearly 200 disputes are pending,’ says Pérez-Rocha.

This is the deal we are talking about. American corporations will be allowed to run roughshod over protection laws built up over decades, sue for loss of their own anticipated profits if protective government legislation stems the flow of revenue – and yet cannot be sued the other way round. It’s a one-way win-win deal for the USA and a lose-lose deal for the UK.

The current amount of trade between the UK and USA (both ways) adds up to about £275 billion annually. A fully signed trade deal between Britain and the USA has since been calculated to a rise in Britain’s GDP of just 0.2 per cent – and even that meagre sum will take as long as 15 years to be seen.

Dr Coles sums up what a US trade deal actually looks like –

“Corporate globalization and the ‘free trade’ initiatives upon which it is based undermine democracy, healthcare and the environment. The 20th and 21st-century ISDS mechanism, designed to protect US corporate interests the way that ‘gunboats’ protected British colonial interests in the 19th century, is one such method. Democracy is undermined by the secrecy surrounding arbitration and the use of legalistic ‘gunboats’ to threaten our governments into submission.”

As if on queue and with echoes of Trump’s most recent deplorable attack of four Democratic congresswomen where all four are non-white and all except Omar were born US citizens. in which they called Trump’s remarks a “blatantly racist” attack on elected leaders, Boris Johnson has also landed in a new controversy for arguing Islam has caused the Muslim world to be “literally centuries behind” the west. Johnson makes the comment that “Muslim grievance” was a factor in virtually every conflict in the world.

This is the kind of politics we can expect in Britain from now on.

In reality, it appears that taking back control on October 31st means something entirely different to what the electorate voted for.

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Had Iran openly hijacked a vessel of any nation, for any reason, plying through waters anywhere on Earth, the US and its allies would immediately cite it as a provocation toward war.

In fact, even without evidence, suspiciously timed attacks carried out last month on tankers passing through the Persian Gulf were cited by Washington and London as a pretext for increased pressure on Tehran despite the attacks appearing staged by the West itself.

Now in a display once again illustrating just who the actual menace is to global peace and stability, the British have openly – even proudly – hijacked a ship carrying Iranian oil allegedly bound for Syria.

The Guardian’s article, “Iran fury as Royal Marines seize tanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria,” would report:

Royal Marines have helped seize an Iranian supertanker suspected of carrying oil to Syria off the coast of Gibraltar, escalating tensions between the UK and Tehran as the agreement aimed at halting Iran’s nuclear programme unravels.

A detachment of nearly 30 British troops working with the Gibraltarian police intercepted the vessel, believed to be carrying 2m barrels of oil, in a dramatic manoeuvre Spain said had been conducted at the request of the US.

The article would quote the British ambassador to Iran who claimed:

[The UK] welcomes this firm action by the Gibraltarian authorities.

As to why the UK believed it was justified to hijack the Iranian tanker – the article would cite “sanctions against the regime of Bashar al-Assad” the UK and EU placed on Syria – which are in themselves illegal and an act of war.

Stealing Ships from Stolen Land to Enforce Illegal Sanctions 

The UK’s presence in Gibraltar itself is a point of contention between London and Madrid.

Spain does not recognize British claims over the tiny piece of land located at the furthest tip of the Iberian Peninsula. The British presence is one of its many holdovers from its imperialist past. The British presence gives the UK a choke point over the Strait of Gibraltar and all shipping passing through it.

The fact that the British are using the disputed territory of Gibraltar to hijack ships or that the London Guardian is trying to depict it as an operation undertaken while “working with the Gibraltarian police” – when the “Gibraltarian police” are nothing more than functionaries representing London itself – provide a clear illustration of how foreign policy, media, and crimes against international law are being coordinated, justified, and sold to the public by Washington and London.

While Iran has regularly threatened to impede shipping through the Stait of Hormuz in retaliation to Western military aggression – it has never acted upon these threats – reserving them as a means of last resort.

The British and Americans – on the other hand – have literally implicated themselves in disrupting “freedom of navigation.” 

The US and UK both pose as international arbiters and underwriters of what they call “the freedom of navigation” of the world’s seas. They regularly accuse nations like China of impeding such “freedom” in the South China Sea – using these accusations as an excuse to build up a military presence off China’s shores – thousands of miles from their own shores.
They have also regularly cited Iran’s “threats” to shipping through the Strait of Hormuz as another reason Iran should be further pressured, sanctioned, and its government ultimately removed from power.

Yet by hijacking Iranian ships, or likewise intercepting North Korean vessels, or the ships of any nation based on sanctions unilaterally and illegally imposed by Washington, London, and Brussels implicates the West themselves as the primary threat to the very “freedom of navigation” of the world’s seas they claim to uphold.

Provoking War 

From Western policy think tanks to policymakers and politicians themselves – the West has all but admitted it is trying to goad Iran into war.

Sanctions, Western-sponsored terrorism aimed at Iranian territory itself, and provocations – like the recent hijacking of an Iranian tanker – all aimed at Tehran – are moves seeking to trigger a response from Iran that will justify even wider Western economic sanctions and military aggression.

And if Iran fails to provide such a provocation, one might be staged and blamed on Iran anyway.

These are the actions of outlaw nations presiding over a fading international order – one fading specifically because it is so transparently unjust, lopsided, and disruptive toward global stability. It has persisted for so long solely through the maxim of “might makes right.”

The British stealing ships from stolen land to enforce illegal sanctions is a vulgar display of “might makes right,” but one that may possibility be reaching its expiration.

The countervailing multipolar order emerging across Eurasia has an opportunity to oppose this flagrant provocation – not merely on Iran’s behalf – but to erode the impunity that will allow the US and UK to target the ships of other nations in a similar fashion if afforded impunity to do so to Iran now.

For Tehran, it will need to continue exhibiting “maximum patience” while enduring Washington and London’s “maximum pressure” campaign – avoiding the traps both have laid out for Tehran as they attempt to bait the nation into war and change their failing fortunes in the Middle East and around the globe.

The British – still a thorn in the side of global peace and stability despite losing most of its empire – presents us with a preview of what to expect from America even long after it fades as sole global hegemon. Learning to put the UK’s recent provocations in check now will help develop the tools necessary to put in check its future provocations – and those the US will find itself also depending on more and more often in the future.

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Tony Cartalucci is Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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The World Bank Saw the Debt Crisis Looming

July 17th, 2019 by Eric Toussaint

In 2019, the World Bank (WB) and the IMF will be 75 years old. These two international financial institutions (IFI), founded in 1944, are dominated by the USA and a few allied major powers who work to generalize policies that run counter the interests of the world’s populations.

The WB and the IMF have systematically made loans to States as a means of influencing their policies. Foreign indebtedness has been and continues to be used as an instrument for subordinating the borrowers. Since their creation, the IMF and the WB have violated international pacts on human rights and have no qualms about supporting dictatorships.

A new form of decolonization is urgently required to get out of the predicament in which the IFI and their main shareholders have entrapped the world in general. New international institutions must be established. This new series of articles by Éric Toussaint retraces the development of the World Bank and the IMF since they were founded in 1944. The articles are taken from the book The World Bank: a never-ending coup d’état. The hidden agenda of the Washington Consensus, Mumbai: Vikas Adhyayan Kendra, 2007, or The World Bank : A critical Primer Pluto, 2007.

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In 1960, the World Bank already began to see the danger of a debt crisis looming, as the main indebted countries were struggling to keep up with the rising amounts they had to repay. The warning signs increased throughout the ‘60s until the oil crisis of 1973. The World Bank leaders, private bankers, the Pearson Commission and the US General Accounting Office (GAO) published reports warning of the risk of a crisis. However once the price of petroleum had started to rise in 1973 and huge amounts of petrodollars were recycled through the big commercial banks of the industrialised countries, there was a radical change of tone. The World Bank no longer spoke of a crisis. Yet indebtedness was still gathering speed. The World Bank competed with the commercial banks in granting the maximum number of loans as fast as possible. Until the debt crisis broke in 1982, the World Bank held a double discourse. One, destined for the public and the indebted countries, claimed that there was nothing to worry about and that if there were problems, they would be short-lived; that was what appeared in official documents available to the public. The other discourse took place behind closed doors at internal meetings. One internal memorandum reads that if banks see risks rising, they will cut down on loans and “We may see a larger number of countries in extremely difficult situations” (29 October 1979) [1].

After 1960, there were plenty of warning signs.

In 1960, Dragoslav Avramović and Ravi Gulhati, two eminent World Bank economists [2], published a report which clearly highlighted the danger of seeing the developing countries reach an unsustainable level of indebtedness due to the gloomy prospects of earning much in export revenues:

In several major debtor countries, most of which already have high debt service ratios, service payments are predicted to rise in the next few years. (…) In some cases uncertain export prospects and heavy debt service schedules constitute a serious obstacle to substantial amounts of further borrowing”. [3]

This was just the beginning of a long series of warnings which appeared in different successive World Bank documents until 1973.

On page 8 of the World Bank’s 1963-64 Annual Report we read:

“The heavy debt burden that weighs on an increasing number of its member countries has been a continuing concern of the World Bank group… the Executive Directors have decided that the Bank itself may vary some terms of its lending to lighten the service burden in cases where this is appropriate to the debt position of the country”. [4]

The 20th Annual Report, published in 1965, carries a large section on the debt. It emphasises that exports of agricultural produce are increasing faster then the demand from the industrialised countries, triggering a fall in prices [5]: “agricultural export commodities growth has tended to be more rapid than the growth of demand in the industrialized countries. Consequently, the developing countries suffered from a sustained decline in the prices of their agricultural exports during 1957-1962″. For example, while coffee exports increased by 25% of volume between 1957 and 1962, the export revenues they brought in fell by 25% [6]. Cocoa and sugar prices also fell. The report showed that exports from the developing countries were essentially raw materials for which Northern demand was slow and erratic. The prices of raw materials were falling. [7] The report also indicated that financial flows towards the developing countries were insufficient, whether in terms of donations and loans or of foreign investments, because of the large amounts paid out in debt repayments and repatriation of profits on foreign investments.

The report mentioned that the debt had increased at an annual rate of 15% between 1955 and 1962 and had then accelerated to a rate of 17% between 1962 and 1964. Just over 50% of the debt was concentrated on eleven countries. All were big clients of the Bank (India, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico, Egypt, Pakistan, Turkey, Yugoslavia, Israel, Chile, Colombia).

The growth rate of the external public debt of the developing countries was very high. Between 1955 and 1963, the debt increased by 300%, from 9 billion to 28 billion US dollars. In just one year from 1963 to 1964, the debt increased by 22% to reach 33 billion dollars. The total amount of debt service increased fourfold over that whole period (1955-1964).

In 1955, debt service came to 4% of export revenues. By 1964, it had tripled to 12%. And in the case of certain countries, it was almost 25%!

The report placed the accent on the need to properly define the conditions under which the World Bank and other creditors granted loans. What was the underlying reasoning?

The harsher the conditions, the higher the repayments. The higher the repayments, the higher the volume of aid would have to be. Consequently, the relative harshness or flexibility of conditions was as important as the volume of aid. Two key factors determined the harshness or flexibility: first, the percentage that was donated, and secondly, the actual terms and conditions of loans (the duration and interest rate).

The report noted that the share of donations had fallen (mainly those of the USA). Interest rates had dropped slightly and the conditions of loans had toughened up. In other words, harshness had been increased on one side and reduced a bit on the other. Note that the USSR lent money at a considerably lower interest rate than that fixed by the “West” [8]. Great Britain announced that in future, it would grant interest-free loans to the poorest countries. Canada said much the same. The report pleaded for greater flexibility in the conditions carried by loans.

None of the 19 reports that had preceded this one contained this kind of analysis. How can the particular tone and the original contents of this report be explained?

In fact, the report was written under pressure of events. Numerous Third World countries had joined the Non-aligned Movement. They had a majority within the UN General Assembly and in 1964 they had managed to have the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development founded. UNCTAD is the only UN institution run by representatives of the developing countries [9]. These countries were strongly critical of the attitude of the industrialised countries. The World Bank itself counted 102 member states at the time, most of which were Third World countries. The Bank’s leaders were obliged to take account of the recriminations of the South in their analysis.

The 21st Annual Report published in 1966 also discussed loan conditions, pleading for greater flexibility and pointing out that under the present logic, the debt was bound to increase permanently.

While the increasingly heavy debt burden of developing countries points to the need for funds on easier terms … the average terms of total bilateral assistance may become less, rather than more, concessionary… A higher level of aid on inappropriate terms, however, could make the external debt problem even more difficult. If aid is not made available on average terms which are more concessionary, the gross volume of assistance will have to be steeply and continuously increased in order to maintain any given level of real resources transfer [10].

To summarise, the World Bank had clearly detected the persistent danger of a debt crisis breaking out due to countries’ inability to sustain rising debt payments. The solutions proposed by the Bank in the texts quoted above consisted of increasing the volume of loans and proposing more favourable conditions: lower interest rates, and longer periods for repayment. In fact, the Bank did not see the problem in terms of financial flows. It merely saw that for the indebted countries to be able to repay their debt, they would need to borrow more money on easier terms. Plainly, this was the start of the vicious circle where new debts serve to repay old ones, both in theory and in practice.

In the same reports, the Bank expressed confidence in an increase of private capital flows (loans and investments) towards the developing countries. The increase of private loans was considered as an important objective. Such an increase would reduce expectations linked to public finance, according to the reports.

The 20th Annual Report published in 1965 reads:

The World Bank group and other international organizations (…) are making strenuous efforts to encourage and enlarge the flow of private capital into the less developed countries. There is no doubt that this flow can be expected to increase (…) thereby accelerating the pace of development and relieving the pressure on public funds [11]. In the one published in 1966, the need to free up international movement of capital is highlighted: “It is to be hoped that conditions can be established in world [private] capital markets which will permit a freer movement of capital internationally.” [12] Then, remarkably, after a long discussion of the difficulties of repaying the debt, the Bank declares that there should be no reduction in loans: “None of this, however, should be taken to mean that developing countries cannot afford, and hence should avoid, any increase in debt service obligations”. [13]

The designation of the Commission Pearson in 1968 by Robert McNamara, the new president of the World Bank, is one of the ways in which the US leaders tried to deal with the growing indebtedness and demands of the South. Partners in Development, the report published by the Pearson Commission in 1969, predicted that the burden of debt would increase to reach crisis situation in the following decade. The percentage of new gross loans used to service existing debt reached 87% in Latin America in 1965-67.

In 1969, Nelson Rockefeller, brother of the president of the Chase Manhattan Bank, explained in a report to the US President about the problems Latin America had to face:

Heavy borrowing by some Western hemisphere countries to support development has reached the point where annual repayments of interest and amortization absorb a large share of foreign exchange earnings… Many of the countries are, in effect, having to make new loans to get the foreign exchange to pay interest and amortization on old loans, and at higher interest rates [14].

In 1969, the General Accounting Office (GAO) handed the government an equally alarming report:

Many poor nations have already incurred debts past the possibility of repayment… The US continues to make more loans to underdeveloped countries than any other country or organization and also has the greatest loss ratio. The trend toward making loans repayable in dollars does not ensure that the funds will be repaid [15].

Some time later, in 1970, in a report to the US president, Rudolph Peterson, president of the Bank of America, sounded the alarm:

The debt burden of many developing countries is now an urgent problem. It was foreseen, but not faced, a decade ago. It stems from a combination of causes [but] whatever the causes, future export earnings of some countries are so heavily mortgaged as to endanger continuing imports, investment, and development. [16]

In short, from the late 1960s, diverse influential and inter-related sources in the USA considered that a debt crisis could break in the ensuing years.

Despite being aware of the danger …

For his part, Robert McNamara also considered the rate at which Third World indebtedness was growing as a problem. He declared that by the end of 1972, the debt would come to 75 billion dollars and the annual service of the debt would exceed 7 billion dollars. The amount paid in debt servicing had increased by 18% in 1970 and 20% in 1971. The average rate of increase of the debt since the decade of the 1960s represented almost double the growth rate of the export revenues with which the indebted countries had to service the debt. He added that the situation could not go on indefinitely. [17]

…from 1973 on, the World Bank set out to increase debt in competition with the commercial banks

Yet the World Bank presided by McNamara kept up the pressure on the countries of the Periphery to get them even more into debt.

The rise in prices of petroleum products and other raw materials in 1973 led countries to rush blindly into even greater debt. The publications of the World Bank, the IMF and bankers, showed less and less pessimism concerning the repayment difficulties that the developing countries were faced with.

Take for example the IMF’s annual report for 1975, which contained the following dispassionate message:

The investment of the surpluses of oil-exporting countries in national and international financial markets together with the expansion of international financing (through both bilateral arrangements and multilateral facilities) has resulted in a satisfactory channeling of funds into the current account deficits of the oil-importing countries [18].

It is interesting to note that this diagnosis is at loggerheads with the one that would appear when the debt crisis had arisen. No sooner had the crisis broken in 1982, than the IMF blamed it on the two oil crises of 1973 and 1979. Yet the 1975 quotation implies that for the IMF, the recycling of petrodollars combined with public lending had largely solved the problems of oil-importing countries.

Why did the World Bank encourage debt in the 1970s?

The World Bank absolutely wanted to increase its influence over the maximum number of countries that clearly positioned themselves in the capitalist camp or at least kept a distance from the USSR (like Yugoslavia) or were trying to (like Romania) [19]. To maintain or increase its influence, it needed to strengthen its leverage by constantly upscaling the amounts it lent. Now, commercial banks also wanted to increase their lending and were ready to offer more competitive rates than the World Bank [20]. This sent the Bank off in search of projects that might require loans. Between 1978 and 1981, the amounts lent by the Bank rose by 100%.

Robert McNamara made a great show of confidence in the 1970s. In 1977 he declared in his annual presidential address that

the major lending banks and major borrowing countries are operating on assumptions which are broadly consistent with one another” and he concluded that “we are even more confident today than we were a year ago that the debt problem is indeed manageable.” [21]

Some big commercial banks also showed great serenity [22]. In 1980, the Citibank declared:

Since World War II, defaults by LDC’s, when they have occurred, have not normally involved major losses to the lending banks. Defaults are typically followed by an arrangement between the government of the debtor country and its foreign creditors to reschedule the debt … Since interest rates or spreads are typically increased when a loan is rescheduled, the loan’s present discounted value may well be higher than that of the original credit”. [23]

This statement is to be taken with the greatest caution as to the motivations of its author. In fact, by 1980 the Citibank, one of the most active banks in the 1970s in terms of Third World lending, was beginning to sense that the wind was changing. At the time these lines were written, it was already preparing to withdraw, and was granting almost no more new loans.

The text was destined for smaller banks, especially local banks in the USA, of the Savings and Loans type, that companies like the Citibank were trying to reassure so that they would continue to grant loans. In the Citibank’s view, the money that Savings and Loans continued to send to the countries of the South would enable them to repay the big banks. In other words, for the indebted countries to carry on repaying the big banks, there had to be other lenders. They could be private (small or middle-sized banks, less well informed than the bigger ones or misinformed by them) or public (the World Bank, the IMF, public export credit agencies, governments…). There had to be lenders of last resort for the big banks to be sure of getting fully repaid. In this respect, it might be said that in falling over themselves to be reassuring in the run-up to the crisis, institutions like the World Bank and the IMF connived with the big banks that were on the look-out for lenders of last resort. The smaller banks that continued to lend capital to the developing countries were forced into bankruptcy after the 1982 crisis and they were bailed out by the US Treasury, that is, by US taxpayers.

The watershed 1979 – 1981

The second oil crisis of 1979 (after the Iranian revolution) coincided with a fall in prices of other raw materials.

At the end of 1979, two factors forced up the cost of the debt: a very sharp rise in interest rates and the appreciation of the dollar. Attempts from the South to revive negotiations for a New World Order failed and in Cancun in 1981, the dialogue between the North and the South fell through. Moreover, the United States did not apply the budget austerity they imposed on the countries of the South. Instead they reduced taxes, increased military spending and spent more on consumer goods.

The general about-turn towards what the World Bank called “structural adjustment was announced in a speech made by Robert McNamara at the UNCTAD conference in Manila in May 1979.

The double discourse of the World Bank

Until the debt crisis broke in 1982, the World Bank held a double discourse. One, destined for the public and the indebted countries, claimed that there was nothing to worry about and that if there were problems, they would be short-lived; that was what appeared in official documents available to the public. The other discourse took place behind closed doors at internal meetings.

In October 1978, one of the vice-presidents of the World Bank, Peter Cargill, in charge of Finance, addressed a memorandum to the president, McNamara, entitled “Riskiness in IBRD’s loans portofolio”. In it, Peter Cargill urged Robert McNamara and the whole of the World Bank to pay a lot more attention to the solvency of indebted countries. [24] Peter Cargill claimed that the number of indebted countries in arrears regarding payments to the World Bank and/or that were seeking to renegotiate their multilateral debt had risen from three to eighteen between 1974 and 1978! Robert McNamara himself made known his worries internally on several occasions, particularly in a memorandum dated September 1979. One internal memorandum reads that if banks see risks rising, they will cut down on loans and “We may see a larger number of countries in extremely difficult situations” (29 October 1979) [25].

The World Development Report published by the World Bank in 1980 gives an optimistic view of the future, predicting that interest rates would stabilise at the very low level of 1%. This was completely unrealistic, as was proved by real events. It is edifying to learn through the World Bank historians that in the first, unpublished, version of the report, there was a second hypothesis based on a real interest rate of 3%. That projection showed that the situation would eventually be unsustainable for the indebted countries. Robert McNamara managed to get that gloomy scenario left out of the final version! [26]

The World Bank’s World Development Report of 1981 mentions that it seemed very likely that borrowers and lenders would adapt to the changing conditions without starting a general crisis of confidence. [27]

Robert McNamara’s presidential mandate at the World Bank ended in June 1981, a year before the crisis broke and became common knowledge. The president, Ronald Reagan, replaced him with Alden William Clausen, president of the Bank of America, one of the major private creditors to the developing countries. Rather like putting a fox in the chicken-run…

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This article was originally published on CADTM.

Translated by Vicki Briault with the collaboration of Elizabeth Anne.

Eric Toussaint is a historian and political scientist who completed his Ph.D. at the universities of Paris VIII and Liège, is the spokesperson of the CADTM International, and sits on the Scientific Council of ATTAC France. 

Notes

[1] D. Kapur, J. Lewis, R. Webb, 1997, The World Bank, Its First Half Century, Volume 1. p. 599.

[2] The Yugoslav Dragoslav Avramović was Chief Economist at the World Bank from 1963-1964. Thirty years later, he became the governor of the Central Bank of Yugoslavia (1994-1996) under the government of Slobodan Milosevic.

[3] Avramović, Dragoslav and Gulhati, Ravi. 1960. Debt Servicing Problems of Low-Income Countries 1956-58, Johns Hopkins Press for the IBRD, Baltimore, p.56 et 59.

[4] World Bank, Annual Report 1963-4, p.8.

[5] World Bank, Annual Report 1965, p. 54

[6] Ibid., p. 55

[7] Note that at this time the World Bank was directing its loans towards export crops and activities exporting raw materials.

[8] Ibid., p. 61

[9] For a brief account of the creation of UNCTAD and its subsequent development, see Eric Toussaint, 2005, Your Money or Your Life: The Tyranny of Global Finance, Haymarket Books, Chicago, Illinois, p. 99-104. See also CETIM. 2005. ONU. Droits pour tous ou loi du plus fort ?, Cetim, Geneve, 2005, p. 207 – 219 et Therien, Jean-Philippe. 1990. Une Voix du Sud : le discours de la Cnuced, L’Harmattan, Paris.

[10] World Bank, Annual Report 1966, p.45.

[11] World Bank, Annual Report 1965, p.62.

[12] Paradoxically, while the WB argues for freer movement of capital between the DC and developed countries, Washington for its own part has set up severe restrictions on capital flow out of the USA since 1963. These restrictions have accelerated the development in Europe of the market for eurodollars which are recycled as loans to the DC. See Eric Toussaint, 2005, Your Money or Your Life. The Tyranny of Global Finance. Haymarket Books, Chicago, Illinois, p.189 and Norel, Philippe & Saint-Alary, Eric. 1988. p. 41 ff.

[13] World Bank, Annual Report 1966, p.45.
World Bank, Annual Report 1966, p.35.

[14] Nelson Rockefeller. 1969. Report on the Americas, Quadrangle Books, Chicago, p. 87, cited by Payer, Cheryl. 1991. Lent and Lost. Foreign Credit and Third World Development, Zed Books, London, p.58.

[15] Banking, November 1969, p. 45, cited by Payer, Cheryl. 1991. Lent and Lost. Foreign Credit and Third World Development, Zed Books, London, p. 69.

[16] Task Force on International Development, U.S. Foreign Assistance in the 1970s : a new approach, Report to the President, Government Printing Office, 1970, Washington, p.10.

[17] McNamara, Robert S. 1973. Cien países, Dos mil millones of seres, Tecnos, Madrid, p.94.

[18] IMF, Annual Report 1975, p. 3.

[19] It was in this context that the World Bank went to great lengths to persuade China to join its ranks (much to the chagrin of the government of Taiwan, who had occupied China’s seat at the Bank from 1949 to 1979). In fact, the People’s Republic of China returned to the World Bank at the end of Robert McNamara’s presidency.

[20] In 1976-1977-1978, the commercial banks made loans to Brazil at an average rate of 7.4% while the World Bank was lending at 8.7% (Kapur, Devesh, Lewis, John P., Webb, Richard. 1997. The World Bank, Its First Half Century, Volume 1, p. 281 and table 15.5. p. 983)

[21] Cited by Nicholas Stern and Francisco Ferreira. 1997. « The World Bank as ‘intellectual actor’ » in Kapur, Devesh, Lewis, John P., Webb, Richard. 1997. The World Bank, Its First Half Century, Volume 2, p.558.

[22] In the medium term, they were right. The vision expressed in McNamara’s words was confirmed in the 1980s when debt payments were suspended for short periods and rescheduling was agreed between the big US banks and the governments of Latin America with the support of the IMF and the WB. As Citibank claimed, interest rates and differentials were usualy revised upwards when a loan was rescheduled. That is exactly what happened. As the next two chapters show, big banks made enormous profits out of the indebted countries.

[23] Global Financial Intermediation and Policy Analysis (Citibank, 1980), quoted in ‘Why the Major Players Allowed it to happen’, International Currency review, May 1984, p.22, cited by Payer, Cheryl. 1991. Lent and Lost. Foreign Credit and Third World Development, Zed Books, London, p.72.

[24] D. Kapur, J. Lewis, R. Webb, 1997, vol. 1. p. 598

[25] D. Kapur, J. Lewis, R. Webb, 1997, vol. 1. p. 599

[26] This scenario, though closer to what actually happened, was still too optimistic.

[27] Cited by Nicholas Stern and Francisco Ferreira. 1997. « The World Bank as ‘intellectual actor’ » in Kapur, Devesh, Lewis, John P., Webb, Richard. 1997. The World Bank, Its First Half Century, Volume 2, p.559.

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According to a report in the UK press today (amply corroborated by numerous reports),  the US has approximately 150 (tactical) nuclear weapons of mass destruction (WMD) stored at six locations in Europe. 

They are reported by a NATO-linked body, as being at:

  • Kleine Brogel in Belgium
  • Aviano in Italy
  • Buchel in Germany
  • Ghedi-Torre in Italy
  • Volkel in the Netherlands, and
  • Incirlik in Turkey

This information dramatically changes the balance of global power as it means that any American president could gain immediate military control over the majority of the continent of Europe, at any time.

This is sobering news for all 28 member states of the European Union plus Turkey and the rest of Europe. It has the effect of leaving the entire continent of Europe virtually defenceless against any future potential aggressor.

This is particularly relevant in the current context of the apparent intention of the Trump administration to deliberately provoke the sovereign state of Iran into a dangerous war by first acting to bankrupt a population of 83 million by prohibiting the purchase of Iranian oil by any foreign state worldwide.

The implications of a future nuclear conflict in which most European states – other than France and Britain, would be left without any nuclear deterrent or defence, are incalculable and means that any American maverick or rogue president could hold an existential threat against most of Europe.

This disquieting disclosure should impel the EU to convene a European summit, including Turkey, to implement an urgent plan of action for nuclear defence. That would clearly necessitate the removal of all American WMD back to the United States as soon as possible and a new defence contract with France, (and possibly Britain), for the independent nuclear defence of the continent.

With the current unstable US administration headed by an unpredictable, pretend president – time is of the essence.

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Hans Stehling (pen name) is an analyst based in the UK. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.


Towards a World War III Scenario: The Dangers of Nuclear War” 

by Michel Chossudovsky

Available to order from Global Research! 

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-5-3
Year: 2012
Pages: 102
Print Edition: $10.25 (+ shipping and handling)
PDF Edition:  $6.50 (sent directly to your email account!)

Michel Chossudovsky is Professor of Economics at the University of Ottawa and Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), which hosts the critically acclaimed website www.globalresearch.ca . He is a contributor to the Encyclopedia Britannica. His writings have been translated into more than 20 languages.

Reviews

“This book is a ‘must’ resource – a richly documented and systematic diagnosis of the supremely pathological geo-strategic planning of US wars since ‘9-11’ against non-nuclear countries to seize their oil fields and resources under cover of ‘freedom and democracy’.”
John McMurtry, Professor of Philosophy, Guelph University

“In a world where engineered, pre-emptive, or more fashionably “humanitarian” wars of aggression have become the norm, this challenging book may be our final wake-up call.”
-Denis Halliday, Former Assistant Secretary General of the United Nations

Michel Chossudovsky exposes the insanity of our privatized war machine. Iran is being targeted with nuclear weapons as part of a war agenda built on distortions and lies for the purpose of private profit. The real aims are oil, financial hegemony and global control. The price could be nuclear holocaust. When weapons become the hottest export of the world’s only superpower, and diplomats work as salesmen for the defense industry, the whole world is recklessly endangered. If we must have a military, it belongs entirely in the public sector. No one should profit from mass death and destruction.
Ellen Brown, author of ‘Web of Debt’ and president of the Public Banking Institute   

WWIII Scenario

The Trump administration’s decision to classify the total number of nuclear weapons that the United States possesses and the number of nuclear warheads dismantled in 2018 marks an abrupt change from the recent norm. Every year since 2010, the United States has chosen to declassify its nuclear stockpile and disarmament figures as part of an effort to encourage nuclear diplomacy and openness. But this year when the Federation of American Scientists asked the Pentagon for the figures to check its work in the Nuclear Notebook (a collection of world nuclear stockpile and disarmament information), the administration chose not to declassify.

Hans Kristensen—the director of the Federation of American Scientists Nuclear Information Project and a longtime author of the authoritative Nuclear Notebook column on world nuclear arsenals the Bulletin has published since 1987—is particularly vocal about the classification setback. The decision not to declassify the stockpile and decommissioned numbers, he says, “surrenders any pressure on other nuclear-armed states to be more transparent about the size of their nuclear weapon stockpiles” and is an “unnecessary and counterproductive reversal of nuclear policy.” This decision to classify comes at a time when the Trump administration says it is looking to ramp up talks with Russia and China on arms control, a negotiation that would be easier for United States diplomats if they could go in backed by the official numbers.

In a short conversation with Kristensen, I asked about the future of the Nuclear Notebook and if the Federation of American Scientists would continue to push for declassification. He made it clear how the government’s simple denial of one information request can affect many aspects of an open and honest nuclear debate.

(Editor’s note: This interview has been condensed and edited for clarity.)

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Heather Wuest: Why do you think the government is changing the norm after making these numbers public for so many years?

Hans Kristensen: It was a surprise. When the Obama administration first chose to declassify the nuclear statistics in 2010, it was understood that the decision to keep this information classified would not just automatically be made public from now on but reviewed every year. The nuclear statistics can become declassified in two ways; an official can come out and give the public the numbers, or someone, in this case the Federation of American Scientists, can submit a request for declassification to happen. But, the decision to declassify has happened for seven years in a row. It has become normal for the United States government to make these numbers public.

HW: The government denied your 2018 declassification request. Do you have plans, or is there a protocol to re-ask? If so, is your team planning on asking again?

HK: We can re-ask, and we will continue to pursue the goal of getting this information declassified by whatever avenues are open to us.

It is important that the United States return to what we believe is the most appropriate form of transparency. The decision to keep this information classified is confusing. It is not like making this information public discloses anything bad, or of military significance. But the decision to keep the stockpile information secret has a significant impact on public perceptions both here in the United States and overseas. The practice of declassifying this number has been invaluable for US nuclear diplomacy. It grants the United States a positive level of transparency and credibility that the other nuclear weapons states don’t have.

There is a tired counterargument that we usually hear that the US chose to release this information to encourage countries to do the same, but they didn’t follow; therefore the US shouldn’t declassify its numbers anymore.

HW: It has been my understanding that France and the United Kingdom have been declassifying their stockpile information.

HK: Yes, and that is all fine, but they are not our adversaries. We know British and French numbers pretty closely, and the United States government knows them as well. The hope was that offering the United States’ nuclear numbers would inspire similar transparency in Russia and China, but that is a tougher sell. Increasing nuclear transparency globally is just one long-term objective. We want to convince the world that it’s safe and advantageous to be transparent about their nuclear weapons data and convince them that they will not be more vulnerable if they do this.

Nuclear transparency accomplishes a lot; it eliminates fear mongering, rumors, worst-case scenarios, assumptions, and mistrust in other countries. There are a number of diplomatic benefits as well, judging from the reactions we have gathered from United States officials that have been involved in nuclear diplomacy over the last seven-to-eight years. Officials are also taken aback by the decision to keep the nuclear numbers classified because it so clearly undercuts advantages and goodwill towards the United States. Transparency gives diplomats room to act and maneuver, numbers that they can refer back to and use to engage other countries on issues of nuclear safety, security, and nonproliferation.

The decision to keep the numbers classified is doubly strange with the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference coming up next year. In that meeting, United States diplomats will try to persuade the treaty and negotiation regime that everything is OK. But they have no new nuclear negotiations to talk about, no actionable treaties, and now they’re shut out of nuclear transparency. Lack of transparency will make it hard for diplomats to make the case for the United States in an international forum—a forum that depends on political goodwill to convince as many countries as possible to strengthen nonproliferation norms.

HW: The Nuclear Notebook spells out what nuclear stockpile numbers are, what they mean, and how much dismantlement is taking place. Why is it important to have these kinds of facts available beyond diplomacy?

HK: There are many levels of society that benefit from this sort of factual information.  Even within the government, different branches have different levels of security clearance. Just because the government has its own number does not mean that those numbers can be used widely in an internal debate. When nuclear numbers are public information, it empowers officials to go out and talk about this. I have been in meetings with government officials who I know have the [official] numbers, [but]who were briefing Nuclear Notebook numbers so that they could talk about this in a way that would not challenge their secrecy.

As mentioned before, transparency provides many benefits not just for the government or diplomatic corps; transparency also informs the nuclear debate at large. When we publish these estimates, it enables people in other countries, where they are not allowed to research their own countries national information—for example, in China or Russia—to be part of the conversation. These numbers enable intellectuals, scholars, journalists, what have you, who write stories about nuclear security issues to refer to a source that is not going to get them in trouble. That benefits the public debate, allows more to be included in the conversation about where nukes are in the world, what is their status, the trend, is it getting better or worse, all of these things. These are important conversations, conversations that will not go away, and it is essential to have factual information for these conversations to take place.

Having ready access to factual information about nuclear systems answers many basic questions like: What is this system? What does it do? How many are there? Have we had this before? What is the yield? Where are they stored? People need access to all of this information to be able to have important debates, develop an understanding, and to write about what is going on.

Access to ready factual information about nuclear security matters is also essential, in a broader societal sense, to the role of democracy. Nuclear weapons are inherently undemocratic. They are so big, powerful, important, the consequences so extreme, they create special rules, exceptions from normal oversight and democratic processes that we take for granted in the other parts of society. People need to know and understand these numbers because we are in a position to hold people accountable.

Nuclear weapons live in this sort of secret space. The secrecy is warranted but also often exaggerated. Choosing not to declassify the 2018 nuclear numbers is an example of the secrecy around nuclear matters being exaggerated too far. This decision has harmed United States interests, and government officials have no reference to any national security damaged by the seven years of prior declassifications. In this case, they have closed the book just because they don’t like it, and this is fundamentally undemocratic. So, my team and I are going to try to push this, through requests, through conversations, legislation, and if necessary, through members of Congress.

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Heather Wuest is assistant editor of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Before joining the Bulletin, she worked as a researcher with the Partnership for Global Security where she focused on issues of nuclear security and transnational governance.

India made a fool out of Iran by allying with its American & “Israeli” enemies, victimizing it with the blowback from its Hybrid War on CPEC, and crippling its budget by depriving it of its second-largest oil customer.

India, true to Modi and his National Security Advisor Doval’s commitment to the Machiavellian-like tricks of their civilization’s ancient strategist Chanakya, made a complete fool out of Iran over the past year in three main ways that saw the South Asian state take full advantage of its so-called “partner” in order to advance its own interests at the Islamic Republic’s expense:

Allying With Iran’s American & “Israeli” Enemies:

Nothing could be more disrespectful to the Islamic Republic than India’s newfound alliance with its hated American & “Israeli” enemies, which has recently taken the form of an anti-Iranian military deployment to the Gulf and the massive purchase of arms from the self-professed “Jewish State”.

Victimizing Iran With Blowback From The Hybrid War On CPEC:

India’s employment of feudalist Baloch terrorists as proxies for sabotaging CPEC — a vicious Hybrid War campaign that was previously managed by convicted RAW agent Kulbhushan Jadhav — finally blew back into Iran after it created the regional conditions that enabled last December’s suicide bombing in Chabahar.

Depriving Iran Of Its Second-Largest Oil Customer:

New Delhi used to be Tehran’s second-largest oil customer until it submitted to Washington’s unilateral sanctions regime against the Islamic Republic and discontinued purchasing this resource, which threatens to cripple the country’s already-fraught budget and facilitate more Color Revolution unrest there.

***

In view of the above, there can be no doubt that India has decisively pivoted to the West and is now actively working to “contain” Iran after humiliating it through the three aforementioned ways, though New Delhi is nevertheless still expected to pretend that this is all part of its “multi-alignment” strategy in order to continue exploiting its lopsided “partnership” with the Islamic Republic.

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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

Andrew Korybko is an American Moscow-based political analyst specializing in the relationship between the US strategy in Afro-Eurasia, China’s One Belt One Road global vision of New Silk Road connectivity, and Hybrid Warfare. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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It keeps getting worse. The neocons have burrowed termite-deep inside the Trump administration and rumor has it the president will add yet another one to an important cabinet position.

If there is any substance to the latest rumors, DNI Dan Coats will be replaced by Fred Fleitz, former NSC executive secretary, CIA analyst, Trump Chief of Staff, Bolton enforcer, and CEO of the Center for Security Policy.

This last one should send up a huge red flag. CSP is a project launched by Frank Gaffney Jr., an Islamophobe way out on the neocon fringe. During the Trump presidential campaign, I wrote a short ebook (Donald Trump and the War on Islam) about Gaffney, among other neocons and rabid Israel-firsters exacting a corrosive influence on the Trump campaign.

I wrote:

Frank Gaffney is at the forefront of the movement to arouse hatred and fear designed to further extend and expand the war on terror and ultimately realize the objective of the [neocon] “clean break” plan [for Israel] to destroy not only Arab and Muslim nations, but societies and culture as well.

Gaffney is so radical he was rejected by the Pentagon when he was Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Nuclear Forces and Arms Control Policy in the Reagan Administration. He is associated with other neocons, including Richard Perle, who rose to prominence as aides of the late Democrat Senator Henry “Scoop” Jackson.

Fleitz was formerly the managing editor of LIGNET.com (Langley Intelligence Group Network). This is a pro-Likudnik intelligence operation is linked to Bolton, former Ambassador Otto Reich, former CIA Director Michael Hayden, and others.

You can hear echoes of Fleitz in Trump’s irrational anti-Iran policies. In 2017, Fleitz signed on to a letter sent to Trump, that stated in part:

We agree with Ambassador John Bolton that strong international sanctions, a tough negotiating strategy and a decisive American president who will not engage in appeasement is the best approach to rein in Iran’s belligerent behavior and induce it to joining negotiations on a better agreement… It is time to move beyond President Obama’s appeasement of Iran and to begin work on a comprehensive new approach that fully addresses the menace that the Iranian regime increasingly poses to American and international security.

In other words, the “security” (dominance) of Israel and maintenance of the apartheid status quo.

Ambassador John Bolton has drawn up a plan to implement a far more effective, comprehensive and multilateral approach to address the threat from Iran. This approach includes strict new sanctions to bar permanently the transfer of nuclear technology to Iran. He also calls for new sanctions in response to Iran’s sponsorship of terrorism and efforts to destabilize the Middle East, especially in Syria, Iraq and Yemen.

The signatories—including Gaffney, leading neocon and former Cheney adviser David Wurmser, and Morton Klein (president of the Zionist Organization of America)—undoubtedly agree with the Bolton plan for Iran, as laid out in a 2015 NY Times op-ed, To Stop Iran’s Bomb, Bomb Iran.

Bolton concluded:

The United States could do a thorough job of destruction, but Israel alone can do what’s necessary. Such action should be combined with vigorous American support for Iran’s opposition, aimed at regime change in Tehran.

In response to Trump’s clumsy partial implementation of the Bolton plan, namely jettisoning the JCPOA, Iran has indicated it will defend itself if attacked, including but not limited to shutting down one-third of the world’s oil passage through the Strait of Hormuz. It has threatened to target Israel cities, Gulf Emirate oil infrastructure, and US troops and bases in the Middle East.

Trump is reminiscent of a person suffering from a split personality disorder. On the one hand, the “Good Trump” has declared he wants US troops out of Syria, while the “Bad Trump” bombs Syria and threatens “fire and fury” levied against North Korea and Iran. It is, to say the least, a schizophrenic foreign policy.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Another Day in the Empire.

Kurt Nimmo is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Media Intrigue: Spying on Julian Assange

July 17th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

History’s scope for the absurd and tragic is infinite.  

To see images of an exhausted and world-weary Julian Assange attempting to dodge the all-eye surveillance operation that he would complain about is to wade in the insensibility of it all. 

But it could hardly have surprised those who have watched WikiLeaks’ battles with the Security Establishment over the years.

Assange is not merely an exceptional figure but a figure of the exception.  Despite being granted asylum status by an Ecuadorean regime that would subsequently change heart with a change of brooms, he was never permitted to exercise all his freedoms associated with such a grant.  There was always a sense of contingency and qualification, the impending cul-de-sac in London’s Ecuadorean embassy. 

Between December 2017 and March 2018, dozens of meetings between Assange, his legal representatives, and visitors, were recorded in daily confidential reports written by an assigned security team and submitted to David Morales, formerly of special ops of the marine corps of the Spanish Navy.  The very idea of legal professional privilege, a fetish in the Anglo-American legal system, was not so much deemed non-existent as ignored altogether.

The security firm tasked with this smeared-in-the-gutter mission was Spanish outfit UC Global SL, whose task became all the more urgent once Ecuador’s Lenín Moreno came to power in May 2017.  The mood had changed from the days when Rafael Correa had been accommodating, one at the crest of what was termed the Latin American Pink Tide.  Under Moreno, Assange was no longer the wunderkind poking the eye of the US imperium with cheery backing.  He had become, instead, a tenant of immense irritation and inconvenience, a threat to the shift in politics taking place in Ecuador.  According to El País,

“The security employees at the embassy had a daily job to do: to monitor Assange’s every move, record his conversations, and take note of his moods.”

The revelations of the surveillance operation on Assange had had their natural effect on the establishment journalists who continue taking the mother’s milk of conspiracy and intrigue in libelling the publisher.  CNN’s Marshall Cohen, Kay Guerrero and Arturo Torres seemed delighted in finding their éminence grise with his fingers in the pie, making the claim, with more than a whiff of patriotic self-importance, how “surveillance reports also describe how Assange turned the embassy into a command centre and orchestrated a series of damaging disclosures that rocked the 2016 presidential campaign in the United States.”  Rather than seeing obsessive surveillance in breach of political asylum as a problem, they see the quarry obtained by UC Global in quite a different light.  The WikiLeaks publisher had supposedly been outed. 

The trio claimed to have obtained documents “exclusive” to CNN (the labours of El País, who did the lion’s share on this, are confined to the periphery) – though they have not been kind enough to share the original content with the curious.  Nor do they make much of the private security materials as such, preferring to pick from the disordered larder that is the Mueller Report.   

The CNN agenda is, however, clear enough. “The documents build on the possibility, raised by special counsel Robert Mueller in his report on Russian meddling, that couriers brought hacked files to Assange at the embassy.”  Suggestions, without the empirical follow-up, are made to beef up the insinuated message.  “While the Republican National Convention kicked off in Cleveland, an embassy security guard broke protocol by abandoning his post to receive a package outside the embassy from a man in disguise.”  The individual in question “covered his face with a mask and sunglasses and was wearing a backpack, according to surveillance images obtained by CNN.” So planned; so cheeky.

Another line in the same report also serves to highlight the less than remarkable stuff in the pudding.  “After the election, the private security company prepared an assessment of Assange’s allegiances.  That report, which included open-source information, concluded there was ‘no doubt that there is evidence’ that Assange had ties to Russian intelligence agencies.”  Not exactly one to stop the presses.  

CNN, in fact, suggests a figure demanding, unaccountable, dangerous and entirely in charge of the situation.  It is the psychological profile of a brattish historical agent keen to avoid detection.  (Here the journalists are keen to suggest that meeting guests “inside the women’s bathroom” in the Ecuadorean embassy was a shabby enterprise initiated by Assange; the obvious point that he was being subject to surveillance by UC Global’s “feverish, obsessive vigilance”, to use the words of El País, is turned on its head.)   

He is reported to have “demanded” a high-speed internet connection.  He sought a working phone service, because obviously that would be unreasonable for any grantee of political asylum.  He requested regular access to his professional circle and followers.  Never has such a confined person been deemed a commander, an orchestrator and master of space.  “Though confined to a few rooms inside the embassy, Assange was able to wield enormous authority over his situation.” 

The account offered by Txema Guijarro García, a former advisor to Ecuadorean Foreign Minister Ricardo Patiño and an important figure dealing with the logistics of granting Assange asylum in 2012, is decidedly different.  In general, “relations between him and the embassy staff were better than anyone could have expected.  The staff had amazing patience and, under difficult conditions, they managed to combine their diplomatic work with the task of caring for our famous guest.” 

The language from the CNN report suggests the mechanics of concerted exclusion, laying the framework for an apologia that would justify Assange’s extradition to the United States to face espionage charges rather than practising journalism.  It is a salient reminder about the readiness of such outlets to accommodate, rather than buck, the state narrative on publishing national security information. 

It is also distinctly out of step with the defences being made in favour of publishing leaked diplomatic cables being expressed in the Tory leadership debate in Britain.  While it should be construed with care, the words of Boris Johnson in the aftermath of the publication of British cables authored by the now ex-UK ambassador to Washington, Sir Kim Darroch, are pertinent.  “It cannot conceivably be right that newspapers or any other media organisation publishing such material face prosecution”.  Even Johnson can take the pulse of history accurately once in a while.

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Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research and Asia-Pacific Research. Email: [email protected]

Featured image is from 21st Century Wire