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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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As mudanças de regime no Iraque e na Líbia, a guerra na Síria, a crise na Venezuela, as sanções a Cuba, Irão, Rússia e Coreia do Norte reflectem o novo imperialismo global imposto por um núcleo de nações capitalistas em apoio a triliões de dólares em riqueza acumulada pelos investidores. Esta nova ordem mundial do capital massivo tornou-se num império totalitário de desigualdade e repressão.

Os 1% do globo, constituídos por mais de 36 milhões de milionários e 2.400 bilionários, aplicam o seu excedente de capital em empresas de gestão de investimentos como a BlackRock e o J.P. Morgan Chase. As dezassete principais empresas de gestão destes triliões de dólares controlavam 41,1 triliões de dólares em 2017. Estas empresas investem todas directamente umas nas outras e são geridas por meras 199 pessoas que decidem como e onde investir este capital global. O seu principal problema é possuírem mais capital do que as oportunidades de investimentos seguros actualmente existentes, o que dá azo a arriscados investimentos especulativos, a um aumento com os custos de guerra, à privatização dos bens públicos e a pressionar para que se criem novas oportunidades de investimento deste capital por intermédio da mudança de regimes políticos.

As elites do poder que apoiam o investimento de capitais estão colectivamente imiscuídas num sistema de crescimento obrigatório. O falhanço do capital em continuar a atingir um crescimento contínuo leva à estagnação económica, o que pode resultar em depressão, em quebras bancárias, em colapsos de moeda e desemprego em massa. O capitalismo é um sistema económico que inevitavelmente se autoajusta por intermédio de contracções, recessões e depressões.

As elites do poder estão encurraladas numa rede de crescimento forçado que requer uma gestão global constante e a formação de oportunidades de investimento de capital em constante crescimento. Este crescimento forçado tornou-se num destino manifesto a nível mundial que procura o domínio total do capital em todas as regiões da Terra e além.

Sessenta porcento do núcleo duro dos 199 gestores da elite do poder global são naturais dos EUA, sendo este balanço arredondado por pessoas de vinte nações capitalistas. Estes gestores da elite e os um porcento que lhes estão associados participam activamente nos grupos de políticas globais e nos governos. Trabalham como conselheiros do FMI, da Organização Mundial do Comércio, do Banco Mundial, no Banco de Pagamentos Internacionais, na administração da Reserva Federal, nos G7 e G20. A maior parte deles participa no Fórum Económico Mundial. As elites do poder envolvem-se activamente nos conselhos privados para a política internacional, tais como o Grupo dos Trinta, a Comissão Trilateral e o Conselho Atlântico. Muitos dos membros da elite global dos EUA são membros do Conselho para Relações Estrangeiras e da Business Roundtable. O foco crucial destas elites do poder é proteger o investimento de capitais, assegurar o pagamento da dívida e criar oportunidades para aumentar o seu retorno financeiro.

A elite do poder global está ciente da sua existência como minoria numérica no vasto mar da humanidade empobrecida. Cerca de 80% da população mundial vive com menos de dez dólares por dia e metade desta vive com menos de três dólares diários. A concentração do capital global tornou-se no alinhamento institucional que levaram os capitalistas transnacionais a transformarem-se num imperialismo global facilitado pelas instituições económicas/de comércio e protegidas pelo império militar dos EUA/NATO. Estas concentrações de riqueza trouxeram-nos uma crise na humanidade, na qual a pobreza, a guerra, a fome, a alienação em massa, a transformação da comunicação social em propaganda e a destruição ambiental atingiram níveis que ameaçam o futuro da humanidade.

O ideal de Estados-nação independentes e soberanos foi durante muito tempo considerada como sacrossanto nas economias liberais capitalistas convencionais. Contudo, a globalização impôs um novo conjunto de exigências ao capitalismo que requerem que os mecanismos transnacionais apoiem o crescimento perpétuo do capital que está cada vez mais para lá das fronteiras dos Estados individuais. A crise financeira de 2008 foi um reconhecimento da ameaça ao sistema do capital global. Estas ameaças encorajam o abandono por atacado dos direitos dos Estados-nação e a formação de um imperialismo global que reflicta os prenúncios da nova ordem mundial para proteger o capital transnacional.

As instituições no seio dos países capitalistas, entre elas os ministérios governamentais, as forças de defesa, as agências de espionagem, o sistema judicial, as universidades e os corpos representativos, reconhecem em vários graus que as exigências cada vez maiores do capital transnacional ultrapassam as fronteiras dos Estados-nação. O novo alcance mundial motivou uma nova forma de imperialismo global que se evidencia pelas coligações das nações do núcleo duro capitalista que se envolveram e envolvem nos actuais esforços para mudanças de regime por via de sanções, acções encobertas, coacções e guerra com as nações não cooperantes – Irão, Iraque, Síria, Líbia, Venezuela, Cuba, Coreia do Norte e Rússia.

A tentativa de golpe na Venezuela demonstrou o alinhamento dos Estados que apoiam o capital transnacional no reconhecimento das forças da elite que se opõe à presidência socialista de Maduro. Está aqui em acção um novo imperialismo global, no qual a soberania da Venezuela é abertamente minada por uma ordem imperial do capital mundial que procura não só controlar o petróleo da Venezuela, mas também a plena oportunidade para atingir investimentos amplos por intermédio de um novo regime.

A disseminação em massa da negação do presidente eleito da Venezuela por parte da comunicação social empresarial demonstra que essa comunicação social é propriedade de, e controlada pelos ideólogos da elite do poder global. A comunicação social empresarial actual encontra-se extremamente concentrada e é completamente internacional. O seu principal objectivo é a promoção da venda de produtos e da propaganda pró-capitalista por intermédio do controlo psicológico dos desejos, emoções, crenças, receios e valores humanos. A comunicação social empresarial atinge isto através da manipulação das emoções e da percepção dos seres humanos à escala global, e ao promover o entretenimento como distracção das desigualdades globais.

Reconhecer que o imperialismo global é uma manifestação da concentração de riqueza, gerida por umas parcas centenas de pessoas, é crucial por parte dos activistas democráticos e humanistas. Temos que nos basear na Declaração Universal dos Direitos Humanos e desafiar o imperialismo global, os seus governos fascistas, a sua propaganda mediática e os exércitos do império.

Peter Phillips

 

 

A imagem que ilustra este artigo é da Images.com/Corbis

Artigo original em inglês:

Wealth Concentration Drives a New Global Imperialism, 14 de Março de 2019.

Tradução: Flávio Gonçalves

 

Peter Phillips, investigador associado do Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG), é professor de Sociologia Política na Universidade Estatal de Sonoma. Giants: The Global Power Elite, 2018, publicado pela  Seven Stories Press é o seu 18º livro. Dá aulas nos cursos de Sociologia Política, Sociologia do Poder, Sociologia da Comunicação Social, Sociologia das Conspirações e Sociologia de Investigação. Foi director do Project Censored entre 1996 e 2010 e presidente da Media Freedom Foundation entre 2003 e 2017. 

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The Price of Publishing Independent Thought: We Need Your Support!

August 19th, 2019 by The Global Research Team

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Trump’s Anti-Iran Warrant

August 19th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Time and again, hard evidence shows the US is a nation run by hawkish right-wing extremists, dismissive of the rule of law and democratic values they abhor and don’t tolerate.

Operating exclusively by their own rules, they maintain that UN Charter principles and other international law applies to other nations, not imperial USA.

All nations the US doesn’t control are on its target list for regime change, part of its longstanding plot to rule the world unchallenged, control its resources, and create ruler-serf societies everywhere — enforced by Pentagon-run NATO, operating as a global police force.

Since its 1979 revolution, ending a generation of US-installed fascist dictatorship, Iran has been a key target to transform back to US client state status — by brute force it that’s what it takes.

On July 4, on orders from the Trump regime, Britain unlawfully seized Iran’s Grace 1 super-tanker in international waters, a clear act of maritime piracy.

Despite pressure from Trump’s justice department, Gibraltar’s Supreme Court ordered the vessel released, letting it sail to its intended destination.

Trump regime hardliners consider the ruling unacceptable, temporarily foiling their plot to steal the vessel and its oil cargo, an action perhaps intended to provoke confrontation with Iran, clearly part of its “maximum pressure” agenda.

Following the Gibraltar court ruling, Trump’s State Department warned of “serious consequences for any individuals associated with the Grace I.”

On Friday, Trump’s justice department unsealed an anti-Iran warrant — in clear breach of international and US constitutional law, stating the following:

“A seizure warrant and forfeiture complaint were unsealed today in the US District Court for the District of Columbia alleging that Oil Tanker ‘Grace 1, all petroleum aboard it and $995,000.00 are subject to forfeiture based on violations of the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA), bank fraud statute, and money laundering statute, as well as separately the terrorism forfeiture statute.”

All of the above claims are bald-faced Big Lies. Iran violated no laws, committed no bank fraud or money laundering, nor has it committed terrorist acts.

These rule of law breaches and countless more serious ones are specialties of the US, NATO, Israel, and their imperial partners in high crimes of war and against humanity.

It’s not how the nonbelligerent Islamic Republic operates, the region’s leading proponent of peace and stability, fully complying with international laws, norms and standards — what the US and its imperial partner breach daily.

The so-called (1976) National Emergencies Act (NEA) empowers the president to invoke certain special powers during a crisis.

Existing ones worldwide are made in the USA, invented to pursue its hostile to peace and stability imperial agenda.

Executive powers under the NEA have been largely invoked for political reasons, many related to sovereign independent states designated for regime change.

Clearly no national emergency exists for anything related to Iran. Trump regime hardliners invented one as part of their “maximum pressure” on the nation, its ruling authorities and people.

The justice department falsely accused Iran of “a scheme to unlawfully access the US financial system to support illicit shipments to Syria from Iran by the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC), a designated foreign terrorist organization,” adding:

“The scheme involves multiple parties affiliated with the IRGC and furthered by the deceptive voyages of the Grace 1. A network of front companies allegedly laundered millions of dollars in support of such shipments.”

None of the above fabricated claims would hold up in a legitimate international tribunal.

Issuing the unjustifiable warrant is part of upping the stakes and escalating Middle East tensions more than already by anti-Iran Trump regime hardliners.

If Iran’s super-tanker, renamed the Adrian Darya, is seized by US warships in international waters or anywhere else in port or in transit, it’ll be another flagrant UN Convention for Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) breach — apparently what the White House intends.

On Friday, Iran’s Foreign Ministry spokesman Abbas Mousavi said the following:

“For the release of the Grace 1 oil tanker, Iran has made no commitment that the ship would not go to Syria because form the early hours of the tanker’s detention, we announced that Syria was not its destination and we have upheld the same,” adding:

“(I)t was nobody’s business even if it was Syria.” Iran is legally entitled to export oil and other products to any nations eager to buy them.

Unilaterally imposed US sanctions on the country and all others violate the UN Charter and other international law.

No nation may legally interfere in the internal affairs of others — what the US does repeatedly against virtually all other nations, seeking dominance over them.

Mousavi stressed that Iran “support(s) Syria in all areas, including oil and energy. This is legal and has nothing to do with any third country.”

All nations should support the Syrian Arab Republic’s struggle against US aggression, illegal occupation of its territory, terror-bombing of its infrastructure, and support for ISIS and other jihadists, used as imperial foot soldiers.

After Friday’s ruling by Gibraltar’s High Court, Iranian Foreign Minister Zarif tweeted the following:

“Having failed to accomplish its objectives through its #EconomicTerrorism — including depriving cancer patients of medicine — the US attempted to abuse the legal system to steal our property on the high seas.”

“This piracy attempt is indicative of Trump admin’s contempt for the law.”

On the same day, Tehran’s envoy to Britain Hamid Baeidinejad said:

“The US, with its desperate, last-minute efforts, intended to prevent the release of the (Iranian) oil tanker from detention, and was faced with humiliation,” adding:

“The vessel will soon leave the Gibraltar region.”

It remains to be seen if Trump regime hardliners intend a high-seas showdown once the vessel sails.

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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.

Marcus Ball says “there is something majorly wrong going on behind the scenes” after his appeal to take Boris to Supreme Court for “wilfully misleading the British public” gets thrown out.

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On 14th August, the High Court rejected an appeal for leave to the UK’s highest court that would see private prosecutor Marcus Ball attempt to prosecute Boris Johnson over claims he lied during the 2016 EU referendum.

Mr Ball filed summons at Westminster Magistrates’ Court in March 2019 for the alleged offence of ‘misconduct in public office’.

Lady Justice Rafferty – one of the High Court judges who threw the case out in June – made a brief announcement on the decision to block the case from the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

“This application for leave to appeal to the Supreme Court is rejected,” she said.

Huge frustration

In an exclusive interview with The London Economic, the private prosecutor expressed his “frustration” with the High Court and its decision to throw out his case.

When asked about how he would challenge this ruling, Mr Ball spoke of how the High Court’s decision “not to give a certificate of public important to the case”, can prevent the Supreme Court from being able to “hear the case”. “The High Court actually has more power than any court in this instance.”

“Magistrates spent over three months carefully considering our case. They came to the conclusion that there must be a criminal trial- the High Court spent 3 days with it.”

According to the crowdfunded campaigner, who believes that judges did “not even read our case”, the latest verdict highlights the “lack of understanding from the High Court.”

He argues,

“the reason they haven’t given a rationale for their decision is because they haven’t got one. This is not about the law, this is about the High Court trying to stop this case and shut it down.

“I think it’s wrong that the High Court has made the decision to give no reason behind their ruling on a fantastic case and opted instead to essentially say: ‘no, no, no’”. “And at the same time, they’ve refused to give the Supreme Court no opportunity to carefully consider our case.

Nothing is as it seems

Reflecting on his experience in Court, the private prosecutor believes “not everything is as it seems in the case”.

“There is something majorly wrong going on behind the scenes. There are people acting against us and we need to eventually reveal how they’re doing that”

“Why would the High Court not only shutdown the case, and then give no reason why?”, enquired Mr Ball.

Contradictory

“The ruling that the High Court produced to quash the case is nonsensical; it is not legally safe; it contradicts”, said Mr Ball.

“It contradicts itself. It contradicts existing court of appeal rulings and contradicts international common law precedent.”

Mr Ball also pointed out that the verdict “contradicts the international law commission and ‘Couch Case’”. “Both authorities are quoted by the High Court to support their own argument despite the fact that they – at the same time – undermine their argument- its a total mess”

Broken promises

When asked why he invoked the legal action against the prime minister, Mr Ball responded that “it wasn’t the first time he’d seen a politician lie to the public”.

“When I was old enough to vote in this country, I voted for the Lib Dems because I believed he was going to lead a campaign to end lying in politics. But the first thing he did when he got into power was to break one of his promises.”

“Now, to compound all of that. This happens.”

Complete dedication

Asked to rate his chances of success in light of Wednesday’s verdict, Mr Ball said

“I believe that in the end we will get a conviction. We will set a precedent.”

“This is not like other cases- I’m 100 per cent dedicated to this, it’s been my full-time job for the last three years- I’m completely committed to making this successful.”

The private prosecutor also commented on his plans to increase engagement with the campaign- “we are going to be running a huge communications campaign over the next six months which will be mainly be focused upon a documentary which we’re planning on making so that people can see what’s going on behind the scenes.”

Lying to the public

The focus of Mr Ball’s prosecution is what constitutes ‘misconduct in public office’. The core of the offence is the abuse of duty.

“You have to prove whether the public office holder has done something which has abused the duties of their office to the extent that it damages public trust, not only from the people that he has abused the trust of, but of the public as a whole,” said Mr Ball.

According to academics, the core duty of an MP is to “scrutinise the spending of the government. The are the watchdog of the executive.”

When Boris Johson felt that the spending of UK money on EU membership was too high and so not in public interest, he was obligated to criticise it. But when he did, he was required to do so in an honest, faithful way”

Asked whether this was the case during the EU Referendum, the private prosecutor said “when he was lying to the public on television in front of millions, he was abusing that duty by carrying it out in a dishonest fashion.”

“It is this that we are determined to set a precedent against- wilfully misleading the British public.”

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Oliver Murphy is an aspiring journalist producing copy-to-deadline and editorial support for student-led, political publications at a national and international level. His writing consists of opinion pieces as well as breaking news coverage which has enabled him to develop a network of trustworthy sources comprising high-profile public figures.

Featured image is from The London Economic

The Truth Is Out About Israel’s Cover-up of Nakba Facts

August 19th, 2019 by Asa Winstanley

Recent news reports have shed light on the lengths to which Israel’s security establishment is going in order to cover-up the history of the country’s war crimes against Palestinians. A long piece in Haaretz earlier this month explained that for the best part of two decades, Israel has had a special military department dedicated to removing certain kinds of documents from publicly accessible archives. The department’s name is Malmab, a Hebrew acronym for “Director of Security for the Defence Establishment”.

The documents targeted for the official cover-up seem to include anything related to the Nakba —Catastrophe — of the creation of the state of Israel on Palestinian territory, which saw the forced expulsion by Zionist militias of some 800,000 Palestinians from 1947 onwards. Ever since then, Palestinian refugees have been telling their stories to anyone who will listen.

However, due in large part to typically colonial attitudes towards indigenous peoples, Palestinian refugees’ stories were and remain all-too-often unbelieved in the West. Part of the typical racist stereotype imposed upon Palestinians – and indeed Arabs in general – is that they are almost genetically predisposed towards telling lies. One common racial slur is to accuse someone of being a “lying Arab”.

Israel, a settler-colonial nation seeking to endear itself to the West (and indeed to portray itself as a “Western” nation) has always done its best to propagate this smear. Former Prime Minister Ehud Barak (who’s currently seeking a return to politics) once claimed that lying was a cultural trait of Arabs.

They “don’t suffer from the problem of telling lies that exists in Judaeo-Christian culture,” he claimed.

Such dehumanising myths about Arab people have consequences. Palestinians were for decades usually not believed in the West when they told of being subjected to ethnic cleansing in 1948, despite the overwhelming, documented evidence there was of the Nakba, including the work of pioneering Palestinian and other Arab historians such as Walid Khalidi, Constantin Zureiq and Nur Masalha.

The Israeli propaganda lie that the Palestinians left their own country voluntarily in the late forties, often at the behest of Arab leaders, was predominant in many Western histories for decades. Then, in the late 1980s when Israeli historians began to look into newly-opened official Israeli archives, what they found essentially confirmed the Palestinian and Arab narrative. The expulsions did happen; the Palestinians did not leave by choice.

While some of these “New Historians”, such as Benny Morris, for example, claimed that the expulsions were almost an accident of war, others like Ilan Pappé pointed to official documents covering “Plan Dalet” and the “Village Files” to prove that there was a more systemic, intentional operation to remove as many Palestinians as possible from Palestine.

Whatever the full reasons, no one disputes the fact that Israel has always made it a primary aim to prevent the refugees and their offspring from returning. In the words of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben Gurion,

“We must do everything to ensure that they never do return.”

Morris – a proud racist – approves of this goal, while Pappé – an anti-Zionist – does not. It was only after these Israeli historians began to write their histories, that the facts about the Palestinian Nakba started to become more widely accepted in the West.

Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza is home to scores of Palestinians who owned acres before they were forced out of their homes in the Nakba of 1948

Al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza is home to scores of Palestinians who owned acres before they were forced out of their homes in the Nakba of 1948 [Mohammed Asad/Middle East Monitor]

The lesson that should be learned from this is that indigenous peoples should be believed when they are trying to narrate the facts of their own dispossession. We should not wait for the oppressor societies to admit, even partially, to their own guilt.

Now, though, even that always partial and conditional admission is being systematically covered up by Israel. As Ilan Pappé himself explained last week, the Malmab military archives cover-up unit is removing many of the documents that he and the other “New Historians” relied on to reveal the secrets of how Israel perpetrated the Nakba, including the massacres of children, the mass graves and the rapes.

The content of these documents has almost all been reported in books and articles already, and in many cases they have been copied, scanned or preserved digitally. However, as Haaretz noted after interviewing the former head of the cover-up unit, the aim is to “undermine the credibility of studies about the history of the refugee problem. In [the unit’s] view, an allegation made by a researcher that’s backed up by an original document is not the same as an allegation that cannot be proved or refuted.”

Although the Haaretz investigation has brought Malmab’s efforts to hide the truth to our attention, this has in fact been going on for the best part of two decades.

“Those of us working with Nakba documents,” Pappé pointed out, “… were already aware of the removal of these documents. For many years, for instance, historians were unable to revisit ‘the village files’, which formed an important proof in my argument that the 1948 war was an act of ethnic cleansing.”

In attempting to hide the truth, Israel must know that it is too late. The truth is out about its cover-up of Nakba facts, and it’s not going back into the shadows anytime soon, no matter what the Zionist state and its dirty tricks departments get up to.

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All Along the Watchtower: The Follies of History

August 19th, 2019 by Pepe Escobar

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief

Business men, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None were level on the mind
Nobody up at his word

-Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower (immortalized by Jimi Hendrix)

Nothing beats the beguiling, stony smiles at the Bayon temple near Angkor Wat in Cambodia’s Siem Reap to plunge us back into history’s vortex, re-imagining how empires, in their endless pursuit of power, rise and fall, usually because they eventually get the very war they had sought to avoid.

The Bayon was built as a state temple at the end of the 12th century by the undisputed superstar of Khmer empires, Jayavarman VII. Its magical narrative reliefs convey a mix of history and mythology while depicting daily life in Khmer society.

We still don’t know today the identity of the faces shown on the temple’s giant stone carvings. They could be a representation of Brahma, or of Jayavarman himself – a practicing Buddhist. What we do know is that the glorious Khmer empire – incomparable in art and architecture, and even benign in the sense that the mandate for power was based on the king’s relationship with the gods, started to fade after the 15th century, dismembered by war against the Thai and later the Vietnamese.

Stony smiles “all along the watchtower”, displayed as a living commentary on the rise and fall of empires, could easily connect, geopolitically, with a touch of Buddhist impermanence, to our turbulent times of Hybrid War. And to the current American empire.

It’s always amusing to observe how US think tanks, such as CIA outlet Stratfor, constantly celebrate success in undermining Russia via this strategy.

Hybrid War on Russia was engineered in 2014 on two fronts: ordering the Persian Gulf petro-poodles to crash the oil price while imposing sanctions after Russia opposed the coup – actually a color revolution – in Kiev. Hybrid War was engineered at a Deep State level as a tool to try to smash Russia’s outstanding recovery since Vladimir Putin was elected to the presidency in 2000. The undisguised Zbigniew “Grand Chessboard” Brzezinski-style goal with the Kiev coup was to draw Russia into an Afghan-style partisan war.

Of course, Russia suffered economically – but then slowly recovered, diversifying production and boosting its agricultural capacity. Yet hybrid warfare always ensures that once economic hardship is engineered, a government necessarily becomes unpopular. Then fakes and traitors are unleashed: Alexei Navalny in Russia, or “protests” in Hong Kong that the Deep State dreams would lead to an uprising in Beijing.

A small, radical nucleus of agents provocateurs in Hong Kong, using copycat methods from the Maidan in Kiev, sticks to a single-minded road map: force Beijing to commit a Tiananmen 2.0, thus elevating the all-out demonization of China to the next level.

The inevitable consequence, according to the privileged scenario, would be the “West”, as well as vast sectors of the Global South, boycotting the New Silk Roads, or Belt and Road Initiative, a complex, multi-layered strategy of economic integration that has expanded well beyond Eurasia.

Hong Kong, an irrelevant asset

In Hong Kong, everything is about money and then, on a secondary level, about China.

China’s annual GDP per capita is in the range of $9,700. Hong Kong’s annual GDP per capita is in the range of nearly $49,000 – higher than Germany and Japan. It is no wonder that no one in Hong Kong wants to be “like China.” So money is a key factor for Hong Kongers to fear “Chinese domination.” Only a few outsiders, such as Thai economist Chartchai Parasuk, highlight this.

Hong Kong is becoming increasingly irrelevant for China. At the time of the World Bank-lauded “Asian tigers,” in the early to mid-1990s, Hong Kong’s share of China’s GDP was a hefty 27%. Today it’s a paltry 2.7%.

Hong Kong has been losing importance to China. File pic: Creative Commons/ Brian H.Y.

Capital has been steadily moving to Singapore, whose annual GDP per capita is now even higher than Hong Kong’s. Real wages are now lower than at the start of the decade. And wealthy Chinese mainlanders are buying everything in sight, thus excluding the average Hong Konger from an upwardly mobile trajectory.

Up to now, Hong Kong’s allure, for China, was its unique position as a free-trade mega-port, the proverbial gateway to the mainland, and one of the world’s top financial markets. But that’s increasingly in the past. Shenzhen, across the border, is already China’s top tech hub, and Shanghai is being slowly but surely configured as the top financial center.

China is also being hit, hybrid war-style, with a rolling trade war plus sanctions. The ultimate American imperial “dream” is to engineer a Chinese vassal. This has nothing to do with trade. There’s no logic of avoiding a trade deficit with China only to see the same products produced in Thailand or India. What’s goin’ on is rather hybrid war all over the spectrum: attempts to destabilize and possibly defeat Russia, China and Iran, the three key hubs of Eurasia integration.

New hybrid politics

The Hybrid War strategy has created our current state of financial warfare. And that inevitably implies blowback. The weaponization of the US dollar is leading Russia, China and Iran as well as Turkey, Syria and Venezuela to seriously turbo-charge their drive towards alternatives. They could be anchored to a basket of commodities, or it could be all about gold. Wily investor Jim Rickards defines Russia, China, Iran and Turkey as the “New Axis of Gold.”

Everything that happens geopolitically and geoeconomically in our turbulent times has to do with the US’ do-or-die imperial struggle against the Russia-China strategic partnership. Only total “victory,” by any means necessary, would assure the continuation of what could be defined as the New American Century.

And that brings us to the necessity of reconstructing Clausewitz’s axiom, according to which, originally, war is a continuation of politics by other means.

Clausewitz argued that war is a real political instrument. Now, Clausewitz remixed should read: Hybrid War is Politics by Other Means.

The means now go way beyond conventional war, as in Khmer empire times. They mix irregular and cyber war; fake news; lawfare (as in Brazil); electoral intervention; and even “diplomacy” (of the gunboat or economic blockade variety, as applied against Iran and Venezuela).

All Along the Watchtower, the song, as written by Dylan and delivered by Hendrix as a hurricane approached, is an ominous portent of Apocalypse Now. Hummed along the stones of the Bayon smiling cryptically at us out of centuries of impermanence-defying history, it seems so fitting for our times of Hybrid War.

Watch out: Pale riders are approaching, as the wind begins to howl.

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This article was originally published on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

No Deal Chaos: The Brexit Cliff Face and Operation Yellowhammer

August 19th, 2019 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

Britain’s Boris Johnson is driving his country to the cliff face, along the way mouthing and spouting all manner of populist reassurances.  Still fresh in the job, he declared that UK preparations for a no-deal Brexit on October 31, when Britain would leave the European Union, would receive a boost – a “turbocharge”, no less.  Michael Gove, now chancellor of the duchy of Lancaster, has been charged with the task of handling the haphazard effort, having chaired some dozen meetings of the Brexit war cabinet dubbed XO to date.

While this hubris bubbles, the Sunday Times article relying on a leaked cross-government paper showing preparations for a no-deal Brexit did its panic-inducing trick, though it has not swayed the Tory-Brexiteer zombies.  The BBC was told by a “Downing Street source” that the leaked document “is from when ministers were blocking what needed to be done to get ready to leave and the funds were not available.”

Codenamed Operation Yellowhammer, the dossier is resoundingly pessimistic, an Anglo version of Götterdämmerung delivered in a civil servant’s tone.  The former head of the British civil service, Lord Bob Kerslake, had little reason to doubt its veracity or sincerity, warning listeners on BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House that the document “lays bare the scale of the risks we are facing with no-deal Brexit in almost every area.”

A few blotches of generous bleakness are noted in the Yellowhammer report, not least the theme of uncertainty (read total lack of transparency) that has hindered efforts to “provide for a concrete situation for third parties to prepare for”.  The UK risks lapsing into “third country” status, with the European Union “unsympathetic” in engaging bilaterally or implementing protections unilaterally.  (Individual member states might take a different view.)  The public, and British businesses, remained unprepared in the face of “EU exit fatigue” – at least those of the small and medium-size types. “Business readiness will be compounded by seasonable effects and factors such as warehouse availability.”

The lack of preparedness on the part of businesses is a point reiterated by the interim director-general of the Institute of Directors, Edwin Morgan.

“Until recently the level of planning has been fairly low.  Our surveys show that businesses had been waiting to see what happened.  The message from the government is getting clearer, but is still not clear enough.” 

The chairman of the Federation of Small Businesses, Mike Cherry, is even gloomier.

“The ongoing political uncertainty has meant it’s impossible for them to invest, expand and hire when we don’t know what the future holds.”

The big no-no of a hard border in Ireland is also floated in the dossier; current arrangements to avoid widespread checks are deemed “unsustainable” in the long-run.  The risk of “direct” protest action and road blockages is considered a more than realistic prospect.  Protests in the UK would also be possible, requiring “significant amounts of police resource[s]”.

Strangulation and suffocation are the heavy themes that run through the report like clarions of doom.  Fuel distribution could be disrupted in London and the southeast of England, caused by the closure of oil refineries leading to a loss of 2,000 jobs and strike action; up to 85 percent of lorries using the main Channel crossing were unprepared for French customs, a point that could lead to delays of two-and-a-half days.  Shortages in fresh food, precipitating a rise in prices; this would hit “vulnerable groups”.  Medical supplies would “be vulnerable to severe extended delays”, given that the UK receives three-quarters of its medicine through the main Channel crossings.

Then there is the sheer blithe indifference of it all, the Whitehall smugness and government secrecy of the optimists who bungle in the name of Queen and country.  In the reported words of a Cabinet Office source,

“Successive UK governments have a long history of failing to prepare their citizens to be resilient for their own emergencies.”

The Britannia-rules-the-waves set barely broke a sweat at Sunday’s less than startling revelations.  The consensus among them was that the Yellowhammer dossier was merely part of a sensible planning strategy, not a portrait of calamity; in any case, claimed Gove, this was “a worst case scenario” and hardly worth a murmur of concern.  Contingencies always had to be planned for; there would be “bumps in the road” and “some element of disruption”.  The last three weeks had been very “significant steps” taken to “accelerate Brexit planning”.  Nothing, however, was done to allay uncertainty. 

Other efforts were made to suggest that the Yellowhammer Report was outdated and inaccurate on various points.  A press release from the Gibraltar authorities, for instance, claimed that references to the territory on whether preparations for “worse case scenarios” had been made were “out of date”.  (The Yellowhammer dossier suggests delays of up to four hours at the border with Spain, a state of affairs that will last for “at least a few months”.) 

Stay calm, suggest the governing authorities in Gibraltar; they had “already dealt with” such matters.

“We have already commissioned all necessary works at the port of Gibraltar in order to have even further contingency capacity in maritime traffic.  We do not anticipate this will be needed, but as a responsible government we want to make sure it will be available.”

While the denial syndrome continues to exert its force, the fears within the bureaucracy on imminent, and absurd catastrophe, abound.  A sickened, black humour prevails.  Last Wednesday, a civil servant working in what might be designated the National Centre For No-Deal Planning told comedian Stewart Lee of a clandestine scheme to purchase Kinder eggs and tubs of Vaseline using “thousands of press-ganged school children and cross-Channel swimmers”.  The comic mused: Why keep it clandestine?  “I don’t know, but we don’t want to set off a Kinder egg and Vaseline buying panic.”  More than just a comic affair.

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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 TruePublica

Many lobbyists talk a lot about critics of genetic engineering technology denying choice to farmers. They say that farmers should have access to a range of tools and technologies to maximise choice and options. At the same time, somewhat ironically, they decry organic agriculture and proven agroecological approaches, presumably because these practices have no need for the proprietary inputs of the global agrochemical/agritech corporations they are in bed with. And presumably because agroecology represents liberation from the tyranny of these profiteering, environment-damaging global conglomerates. 

It is fine to talk about ‘choice’ but we do not want to end up offering a false choice (rolling out technologies that have little value and only serve to benefit those who control the technology), to unleash an innovation that has an adverse impact on others or to manipulate a situation whereby only one option is available because other options have been deliberately removed. And we would certainly not wish to roll out a technology that traps farmers on a treadmill that they find difficult to get off.

Surely, a responsible approach for rolling out important (potentially transformative) technologies would have to consider associated risks, including social, economic and health impacts.

Take the impact of the Green Revolution in India, for instance. Sold on the promise that hybrid seeds and associated chemical inputs would enhance food security on the basis of higher productivity, agriculture was transformed, especially in Punjab. But to gain access to seeds and chemicals many farmers had to take out loans and debt became (and remains) a constant worry. Many became impoverished and social relations within rural communities were radically altered: previously, farmers would save and exchange seeds but now they became dependent on unscrupulous money lenders, banks and seed manufacturers and suppliers. Vandana Shiva in ‘The Violence of the Green Revolution‘ (1989) describes the social marginalisation and violence that accompanied the process.

On a macro level, the Green Revolution conveniently became tied to an international (neo-colonial) system of trade based on chemical-dependent agro-export mono-cropping linked to loans, sovereign debt repayment and World Bank/IMF structural adjustment (privatisation/deregulation) directives. Many countries in the Global South were deliberately turned into food deficit regions, dependent on (US) agricultural imports and strings-attached aid.

The process led to the massive displacement of the peasantry and, according to the academics Eric Holt-Giménez et al(Food rebellions: Crisis and the hunger for Justice, 2009), the consolidation of the global agri-food oligopolies and a shift in the global flow of food: developing countries produced a billion-dollar yearly surplus in the 1970s; they were importing $11 billion a year by 2004.

And it’s not as though the Green Revolution delivered on its promises. In India, it merely led to more wheat in the diet, while food productivity per capita showed no increased or even actually decreased (see ‘New Histories of the Green Revolution‘ by Glenn Stone). And, as described by Bhaskar Save in his open letter (2006) to officials, it had dire consequences for diets, the environment, farming, health and rural communities.

The ethics of the Green Revolution – at least it was rolled out with little consideration for these impacts – leave much to be desired.

As the push to drive GM crops into India’s fields continues (the second coming of the green revolution – the gene revolution), we should therefore take heed. To date, the track record of GMOs is unimpressive, but the adverse effects on many smallholder farmers are already apparent (see ‘Hybrid Bt cotton: a stranglehold on subsistence farmers in India’ by A P Gutierrez).

Aside from looking at the consequences of technology roll outs, we should, when discussing choice, also account for the procedures and decisions that were made which resulted in technologies coming to market in the first place.

Steven Druker, in his book ‘Altered Genes, Twisted Truth’, argues that the decision to commercialise GM seeds and food in the US amounted to a subversion of processes put in place to serve the public interest. The result has been a technology roll out which could result (is resulting) in fundamental changes to the genetic core of the world’s food. This decision ultimately benefited Monsanto’s bottom line and helped the US gain further leverage over global agriculture.

We must therefore put glib talk of the denial of technology by critics to one side if we are to engage in a proper discussion of choice. Any such discussion would account for the nature of the global food system and the dynamics and policies that shape it. This would include looking at how global corporations have captured the policy agenda for agriculture, including key national and international policy-making bodies, and the role of the WTO and World Bank.

Choice is also about the options that could be made available, but which have been closed off or are not even considered. In Ethiopia, for example, agroecology has been scaled up across the entire Tigray region, partly due to enlightened political leaders and the commitment of key institutions.

However, in places where global agribusiness/agritech corporations have leveraged themselves into strategic positions, their interests prevail. From the false narrative that industrial agriculture is necessary to feed the world to providing lavish research grants and the capture of important policy-making institutions, these firms have secured a thick legitimacy within policymakers’ mindsets and mainstream discourse. As a result, agroecological approaches are marginalised and receive scant attention and support.

Monsanto had a leading role in drafting the WTO Agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights to create seed monopolies. The global food processing industry wrote the WTO Agreement on the Application of Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures. Whether it involves Codex or the US-India Knowledge Initiative on Agriculture aimed at restructuring (destroying) Indian agriculture, the powerful agribusiness/food lobby has secured privileged access to policy makers and sets the policy agenda.

From the World Bank’s ‘enabling the business of agriculture’ to the Gates Foundation’s role in opening up African agriculture to global food and agribusiness oligopolies, democratic procedures at sovereign state levels are being bypassed to impose seed monopolies and proprietary inputs on farmers and to incorporate them into a global supply chain dominated by powerful corporations.

We have the destruction of indigenous farming in Africa as well as the ongoing dismantling of Indian agriculture and the deliberate impoverishment of Indian farmers at the behest of transnational agribusiness. Where is the democratic ‘choice’? It has been usurped by corporate-driven Word Bank bondage (India is its biggest debtor in the bank’s history) and by a trade deal with the US that sacrificed Indian farmers for the sake of developing its nuclear sector.

Similarly, ‘aid’ packages for Ukraine – on the back of a US-supported coup – are contingent on Western corporations taking over strategic aspects of the economy. And agribusiness interests are at the forefront. Something which neoliberal apologists are silent on as they propagandise about choice, and democracy.

Ukraine’s agriculture sector is being opened up to Monsanto/Bayer. Iraq’s seed laws were changed to facilitate the entry of Monsanto. India’s edible oils sector was undermined to facilitate the entry of Cargill. And Bayer’s hand is possibly behind the ongoing strategy to commercialise GM mustard in India. Whether on the back of militarism, secretive trade deals or strings-attached loans, global food and agribusiness conglomerates secure their interests and have scant regard for choice or democracy.

The ongoing aim is to displace localised, indigenous methods of food production and allow transnational companies to take over, tying farmers and regions to a system of globalised production and supply chains dominated by large agribusiness and retail interests. Global corporations with the backing of their host states, are taking over food and agriculture nation by nation.

Many government officials, the media and opinion leaders take this process as a given. They also accept that (corrupt) profit-driven transnational corporations have a legitimate claim to be owners and custodians of natural assets (the ‘commons’). There is the premise that water, seeds, food, soil and agriculture should be handed over to these conglomerates to milk for profit, under the pretence these entities are somehow serving the needs of humanity.

Ripping land from peasants and displacing highly diverse and productive smallholder agriculture, rolling out very profitable but damaging technologies, externalising the huge social, environmental and health costs of the prevailing neoliberal food system and entire nations being subjected to the policies outlined above: how is any of it serving the needs of humanity?

It is not. Food is becoming denutrified, unhealthy and poisoned with chemicals and diets are becoming less diverse. There is a loss of plant and insect diversity, which threatens food security, soils are being degraded, water tables polluted and depleted and millions of smallholder farmers, so vital to global food production, are being pushed into debt in places like India and squeezed off their land and out of farming.

It is time to place natural assets under local ownership and to develop them in the public interest according to agroecological principles. This involves looking beyond the industrial yield-output paradigm and adopting a systems approach to food and agriculture that accounts for local food security and sovereignty, cropping patterns to ensure diverse nutrition production per acre, water table stability and good soil structure. It also involves pushing back against the large corporations that hold sway over the global food system and more generally challenging the leverage that private capital has over all our lives.

That’s how you ensure liberation from tyranny and support genuine choice.

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

Colonialism Lives on in the Mind of Donald Trump

August 19th, 2019 by Kim Petersen

Outside of melting glaciers and global warming discussions, Kalaallit Nunaat does not often find itself in the spotlight, and when it does, it is usually referred to as Greenland. United States president Donald Trump’s real-estate aspirations have given Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland prominence in recent news. It seems Trump is serious about the US purchasing Greenland. Judging by history, if Trump could swing such a purchase, he would certainly garner severe gravitas as a big-time deal-maker. And there is a precedent to such a real estate transaction between the US and Denmark. In 1917, Denmark sold the Danish West Indies to the US for $25 million. The islands were subsequently renamed the US Virgin Islands.

Said Trump about the proposed acquisition of Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland:

It’s just something we’ve talked about. Denmark essentially owns it. We’re very good allies with Denmark. We’ve protected Denmark like we protect large portions of the world, so the concept came up. Strategically it’s interesting and we’d be interested, but we’ll talk to them a little bit. It’s not No. 1 on the burner, I can tell you that, Essentially, it’s a large real estate deal.

A lot of things can be done. It’s hurting Denmark very badly, because they’re losing almost $700 million a year carrying it. So they carry it at a great loss.

Trump, commander-in-chief of the nation responsible for “protect[ing] large portions of the world” was ostensibly unaware that the per capita GDP (2018) in economically “badly” “hurting” Denmark is $62888.7 while the US has a per capita GDP (2018) of $54541.7. Neither did Trump mention that the projected US deficit for 2019 is $896 billion.

Moreover, in conducting such a mega-real estate transaction in the media, Trump does not come across as consummate or skilled in the art of a deal.

Some Kalaallit were not impressed.

“We are not for sale and are not a commodity. If Trump really thinks so, he can only dream of it. And it also finally shows his distorted view of his fellow humans,” said Muté B. Egede, a leader of the Inuit Ataqatigiit (Community of the People), a separatist party in Kalaallit Nunaat. [1]

Denmark’s prime minister, Mette Frederiksen, was of similar opinion:

Greenland is not for sale. It’s an absurd discussion, and Kim Kielsen [Greenland’s current prime minister] has of course made it clear that Greenland is not for sale, and that is the end of this discussion .” [2]

Forbes states the sale of Kalaallit Nunaat is a matter for Denmark to decide.

But as the name Kalaallit Nunaat makes clear in translation, the world’s largest island is the “Home of the Kalaallit.” Denmark is the European home country of the Danes; Kalaallit Nunaat, on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean, is the home country of the Kalaallit. Few would dispute this. Consequently, on might wonder what moral or rightful basis would people from one country have to sell the country of another people to a third country?

Tillie Martinussen, Kalaallit Nunaat member of parliament with the Samarbejdspartiet (Cooperation Party) responded:

That’s just completely crazy from Donald Trump. I wonder if he doesn’t do it to draw attention to the Arctic. He can’t be serious. Colonial times are over, and Donald Trump is harming the good relations Greenland and Denmark have to the US by saying something like this.

Martinussen playfully came back with a counter-offer:

We think Donald Trump should drop the plans and start by figuring out how much California, Florida and Alaska cost, as we want to buy them. [1]

Imagine if the deal did go through, Denmark sells Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland to the US; then, following the sale, the Kalaallit hold a binding plebiscite whereby the result shows people voted overwhelmingly to become independent.

For backgrounder on Kalaallit Nunaat/Greenland read Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3.

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Kim Petersen is a former co-editor of the Dissident Voice newsletter. He can be reached at: [email protected]. Twitter: @kimpetersen.

Notes

1. Translated from Kassaaluk Kristiansen, “Partier tager kraftigt afstand fra Trumps ønske,” Sermitsiaq, 16 August 2019.

2. Translated from Nis Kielgast, “Mette Frederiksen: Nu stopper snakken om at sælge Grønland,” DR, 18 August 2019.

Selected Articles: The Crisis in Hong Kong

August 19th, 2019 by Global Research News

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Hong Kong in the Crosshairs of Global Power and Ideological Struggles

By Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers, August 19, 2019

Hong Kong is one of the most extreme examples of big finance, neoliberal capitalism in the world. As a result, many people in Hong Kong are suffering from great economic insecurity in a city with 93 billionaires, second-most of any city.

Follow the Money Trail Behind the Hong Kong Protests

By Sara Flounders, August 19, 2019

The demonstrations in Hong Kong, now an open confrontation with the People’s Republic of China, have a global impact. What are the forces behind this movement? What provides the funds and who stands to benefit?

How Washington Is Meddling in the Affairs of Hong Kong

By A Political Junkie, August 18, 2019

While there has been growing coverage of the unrest in Hong Kong, there has been minimal coverage of what may lie behind the pro-democracy protests.

Civil Disobedience in Hong Kong or US Color Revolution Attempt?

By Stephen Lendman, August 13, 2019

What’s been going on for months in Hong Kong has all the earmarks of a US orchestrated color revolution, aimed at destabilizing China by targeting its soft Hong Kong underbelly.

Hong Kong Protesters Are Collectively Punishing the Peaceful Population

By Andrew Korybko, August 13, 2019

There’s no doubt that the political radicalism on full display nowadays is symptomatic of an ongoing “color revolution” attempt tacitly supported by foreign forces.

Hong Kong, Kashmir: A Tale of Two Occupations

By Pepe Escobar, August 08, 2019

Much to the distress of neocons and humanitarian imperialists, there won’t be a bloody mainland China crackdown on protesters in Hong Kong – a Tiananmen 2.0. Why? Because it’s not worth it.

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Syrian security forces have deprived terrorists of more than 400,000 Captagon pills. On 17 August, authorities in the suburbs of Damascus seized a truck with hidden compartments filled with a large quantity of this Amphetamine-type Stimulant (ATS) known as Captagon.

Captagon pills with other drugs were confiscated by the Syrian security who were monitoring the truck heading from Central Syria at the Lebanese borders towards the south of Syria, most likely towards Jordanian borders.

Upon careful inspection, the well-experienced officers discovered hidden compartments built within the container body of the large truck loaded with thousands and thousands of Captagon pills, most of which were already packed in smaller delivery retail-style bags.

Watch this video by Syrian Ikhbariya of the truck, its shipment, and the traffickers arrested in this successful raid:

Click to watch

Three members of the trafficking gang were arrested and has since been transferred to public prosecution for further investigation and to receive their punishment.

Captagon pills, Hash (Hashish), Cocaine, and a host of other drugs in very large quantities have been confiscated by the Syrian authorities throughout the current crisis. CIA-sponsored terrorists from Al-Qaeda, FSA, ISIS, whatever names the CIA finds suitable for them, were actively working on planting, manufacturing, and cross-border trafficking of this lucrative business for them, on one hand the NATO terrorists operating in Syria use it to enable them kill Syrians, maim living people and dead bodies, even blow themselves up with civilians with no remorse, committing unimaginable heinous crimes under influence of such drugs, narcotics, and Amphetamine-type Stimulant.

Another use of ‘investing’ in this business, CIA terrorists benefit from the revenues to finance their activities, pay high salaries to their recruits and their movements across their host countries. Their arms and logistics are taken care of the US taxpayers and the Gulfies. Before the current US-led War of Terror waged against the Syrian people, Syria was among the leading countries in the world of being clean of all sorts of drugs and related products, in producing and in trafficking. Capital punishment was introduced against those trafficking drugs to or through the country.

You can go through our extensive archive about Syrian security confiscations of Captagon pills here.

Saudi Prince of Captagon Abdulmuhsin Al Saud أمير الكبتاجون عبد المحسن بن وليد ال سعود

Saudi Prince of Captagon Abdulmuhsin Al Saud أمير الكبتاجون عبد المحسن بن وليد ال سعود

Captagon pills are widely used by the terrorists due to their ease of transportation and effects, also cheaper price compared with other drugs. Neighboring Lebanon is internationally known for growing Hashish and manufacturing Captagon pills. A Saudi prince – above photo – is serving a 6 years prison sentence in Lebanon after he was arrested with his private jet loaded with 1900 kilograms of Captagon pills and heading to Saudi from Beirut International Airport.

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All images in this article are from Syria News

Saints, Sinners and Hypocrites

August 19th, 2019 by Philip A Farruggio

In today’s climate of increasing Neo Nazi thought and behavior in Europe and here at home, a must see film is director Marc Rotthemund’s  Sophie Scholl: The Final Days (2005).

Sophie Scholl was a member of the White Rose, an anti Nazi resistance group within Germany during the Third Reich.

To see she and her brother, students who cared more about that Nazi plague than just getting good grades, having their heads cut off, unleashed a ‘monsoon of tears’ onto my face. I don’t think I had even cried that intensely after my loving Mom and Dad had passed on. The immense bravery of those Germans in the White Rose is something that every middle or high school civics class should cover along with the story of Chelsea Manning.

During the height of the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan  she, as PFC first class Bradley Manning, leaked documents revealing horrific and underhanded actions by our government. Manning sent over to Wiki Leaks the (now) famous ‘Apache Helicopter’ massacre of 20 unarmed civilians in Baghdad in 2007. In the audio of the event, one can hear the crew acting as if it was some surreal video game that kids play. This was only the ‘tip of the iceberg’ to what the Bush/Cheney Cabal was orchestrating in one of the most horrific, illegal and immoral actions by our country. The damage continues today with the advent of what is labeled ISIS, a fanatical Islamic group that would never had taken root but for our pre-emptive attack and occupation of Iraq. Ms Manning, who then had to spend years in jail and suffer continued harassment… to this day, is to this writer a Saint!! Why? Because, like Sophie Scholl, she cared!

We need not go into the depths of Dante’s Inferno to find sinners like our very own presidents. From Eisenhower signing off on assassinations during the Cold War, to Nixon and later on to Reagan and then Bush Sr. doing the same, with Clinton following suit with his NATO war on Serbia, and then of course the three presidents who followed them… it never ceases! The objective study of world history will one day reveal how Bush Jr., Obama and now Trump all carry the water for the infamous  Military Industrial Empire, parent of the Deep State.

The Bush/Cheney Cabal kicked  over that ‘hornet’s nest’ in the Middle East, and then Nobel Peace Prize winner Obama increased drone missile murders by ten times, and finally Trump continued the feeding frenzy by giving our nation’s teat to the MIE to suck on…

‘And the hits just keep on coming!’ What is a sin if not what all those presidents have done… or should I say authorized? By now, many of us should finally know who they really work for. All the presidential libraries and all the foundations they stick their names on mean jack shit at the end of the day. Ike could have stood on his head and spit out wooden nickels in January, 1961, and it would not alter what he allowed those two Dulles brothers to do in his name for eight years! Of course, off all of those sinners, he at least finally showed some true remorse. The rest of them… nothing! Big Money & Big Power have always influenced our political system and our leaders. The sin of it all is the overwhelming number of my fellow citizens who , unlike Sophie Scholl and Chelsea Manning… do not care!

Finally, to be a hypocrite is right up there with being a sinner. Webster’s dictionary has it as ‘The false assumption of an appearance of virtue or religion’. I guess the dictionary creators had in mind politicians and religious leaders. How ‘right on’ can one get? Imagine all those mostly Republican politicos who can rail on and on about ‘Family values’ and then sanction the murder of families through phony wars?

The minions who follow these pied pipers are keen to hang the flag on their garages and lapels, not caring in whose name that flag destroys overseas. How about those evangelical hypocrites who call abortion doctors murderers and women who have one as ‘Going to hell for killing babies’? Then they don’t give a rat’s ass about the missiles and bombs that our military uses to kill pregnant mothers and little babies under the banner of Collateral Damage. As if Jesus is right there pressing the bomb button! How about the myriad of elected officials, who have the best health care that WE TAXPAYERS subsidize, standing there shoveling out the BS as to why we ALL cannot have what they have?

Like with ‘Smirking Chimp’ Bill Clinton they all ‘Feel our pain’, regardless of which of these two corrupt parties they belong to. Yes, there are but a few on the Democratic side, like those they call ‘The Squad’, who see through the crap and want things to change for the better. Alas, the empire will just not allow it… Unless enough of us stand out there and be even a bit like Miss Scholl and Ms. Manning.

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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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Tulsi Gabbard Gets Some Vindication

August 19th, 2019 by Scott Ritter

In the aftermath of the second Democratic primary debate on July 31, Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard emerged as the most Googled of all candidates, an indication that her performance (which included a stunning takedown of California Sen. Kamala Harris over her criminal justice record) attracted the attention of many viewers. This heightened level of attention produced blowback, both from Harris, who dismissed Gabbard as “an Assad apologist” (a reference to Syrian President Bashar Assad), and from the mainstream media, typified by CNN’s Chris Cuomo, who alleged that Gabbard—a major in the Hawaiian National Guard, with two tours of duty in the Middle East under her belt—is taking the side of Assad over the U.S. intelligence community and U.N. inspectors when it comes to assigning blame for chemical weapons attacks against Syrian civilians.

“What you are referring to are [sic] cynicism as skepticism that I have expressed, because I’ve served in a war that was caused by people who lied to us, who lied to the American people, who presented false evidence that members of Congress and U.S. senators believed and voted for a war that resulted in the loss of lives of over 4,000 of my brothers and sisters in uniform,” Gabbard replied to Cuomo. “It’s our responsibility as lawmakers and as leaders in this country to make sure that our U.S. military is not being activated and deployed to go to war unless we are certain a) that it serves the best interests of the American people; and b) that that action will actually have a positive impact. The questions I’m raising are based on this experience that I’ve had.”

As someone who challenged the position of the U.S. government regarding Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction programs before the 2003 invasion and occupation of Iraq, I believe that Gabbard’s skepticism over allegations that the Assad government used chemical weapons to attack the towns of Khan Shaykhun in 2017 and Douma in 2018 is well placed.

Gabbard has detailed her concerns about allegations of chemical weapon use in Syria on her campaign website. Her position, and her reliance on the work of Theodore Postol, a Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor who has published critical assessments of both the Khan Shaykhun and Douma incidents, has drawn the ire of many in the mainstream media and elsewhere, including Eliot Higgins, founder of the website Bellingcat, who published a scathing rebuttal of both Postol’s work and Gabbard’s reliance on it.

My purpose here is not to check the veracity of Postol’s research, rebut Higgins’ claims or fact-check Gabbard’s web page. What I will do, as a veteran Marine Corps intelligence officer and experienced weapons inspector, is throw my weight behind Gabbard’s expression of skepticism.

The chemical incident at Douma on April 7, 2018, has been largely debunked—the initial claims regarding the use of the nerve agent sarin have been shown to be false, and evidence has emerged that indicates that a pair of chlorine tanks claimed to have been dropped by helicopters belonging to the Syrian military as weapons were, in fact, manually placed at the scene by opposition forces. There is no doubt that the initial assessment of the situation used by the U.S. government to justify a military strike in response to the allegations regarding Douma was fundamentally flawed, and that Gabbard—alone among all the Democratic presidential hopefuls—was correct to expressed her doubt over its veracity.

More complicated is the incident that occurred at Khan Shaykhun on April 4, 2017. Here, investigators from the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) claim to have uncovered evidence that civilians from Khan Shaykhun were exposed to Sarin. The key question surrounding the Khan Shaykhun incident isn’t whether Sarin was used, but rather who used it. The U.S. government and the OPCW have concluded that the Syrian government is responsible for the attack. Postol, Gabbard and I all have concerns over that conclusion.

No independent investigator has been to the site of the Khan Shaykhun incident, including the OPCW investigators who assert Syrian government responsibility. This is a crucial fact that fundamentally affects how data is evaluated. Khan Shaykhun was, at the time of the alleged attack, under the control of opposition forces loyal to the Nusra Front, an al-Qaida offshoot. Several nongovernmental organizations also were present, including the White Helmets, a civil defense/rescue organization, and the Syrian American Medical Society, or SAMS, which provides volunteer medical care in opposition-controlled Syria. Both the White Helmets and SAMS operated under the auspices of the Nusra Front while working in the Khan Shaykhun region. In conducting its investigation, the OPCW relied exclusively upon the White Helmets and SAMS for information regarding the alleged attack, access to alleged victims of the attack for interviews and medical testing, and physical samples alleged to have been removed from the scene of the attack.

This reality is fatal to the credibility of any finding issued by the OPCW. In my 10-plus years as a weapons inspector in both the former Soviet Union and Iraq, I helped write the book on on-site inspections, including developing initial procedures for establishing chain of custody for chemical samples gathered during an inspection. I can assert, without fear of being contradicted, that there can be no formal, legally binding attribution or conclusion made from evidence that lacks an absolute chain of custody from moment of collection to final analysis. This was the case with the United Nations Special Command (UNSCOM) in Iraq, and with the U.N. mission to investigate alleged chemical weapons incidents in Syria. That mission, which operated in Syria from Aug. 19 through Sept. 30, 2013, is on record as rejecting numerous evidentiary materials on the basis of being unable to “independently verify the information received” or “verify the chain of custody for … sampling.”

The OPCW, however, modified its procedures to allow the introduction of both the White Helmets and SAMS into the evidentiary chain of custody, embracing them as a means of information verification even though OPCW investigators were not part of the initiating processes involved in witness selection and screening. This failure to adhere to fundamentals has cast doubt on the credibility of the OPCW’s findings, if for no other reason than that it allowed an al-Qaida-affiliated entity—the Nusra Front—to fundamentally shape its investigation, thereby opening its conclusions to challenge.

Postol and Higgins expend significant effort on discussing the science of sarin; I take a more basic approach to the Khan Shaykhun incident: How did the sarin get there? The OPCW concludes that “a relatively large bomb” delivered “from a medium or high altitude, of between approximately 4,000 and 10,000 m[eters]” is the probable delivery means of the sarin used at Khan Shaykhun. This assessment is highly problematic, especially because it was impossible for the aircraft the OPCW asserts was used to deliver this bomb—a Syrian air force Su-22—to accomplish this task. If it was impossible for the Syrians to drop a chemical bomb on Khan Shaykhun from an aircraft, then the entire episode, as recounted by the OPCW—based upon evidence provided by the Nusra Front, the White Helmet and SAMS—must be viewed as a fabrication.

The OPCW cites radar maps provided by the United States and France that place an Su-22 aircraft over Khan Shaykhun on the morning of April 4, 2017. “The aircraft was depicted as flying in a circular loop pattern in the vicinity of Kafr Zayta and north-east of Khan Shaykhun,” the OPCW report noted. “The map indicated that the closest to Khan Shaykhun that the aircraft had flown had been approximately 5 [kilometers] away.”

This information conforms with Syrian air force logs provided to the OPCW by the Syrian government, as well as a statement provided by a Syrian pilot who flew the Su-22 aircraft on the morning of April 4; the pilot claimed the closest he had flown to Khan Shaykhun was seven to nine kilometers, while carrying out an attack using conventional munitions near the village of Kafr Zayta, situated approximately eight kilometers southwest of Khan Shaykhun.

The OPCW said it consulted with an unnamed “weapons expert” to determine “the confluence of distance and altitude from which it might be possible to hit Khan Shaykhun with an aerial bomb.” The “expert” concluded that “depending on a number of variables such as altitude, speed and the flight path taken, it would be possible for such an aerial bomb to be dropped on the town from the aforementioned distances.” The OPCW did not provide the variables used by the “expert” in making this determination, or an example by which these variables could produce the outcome claimed.

There is a simple reason why it did not—the “expert” is dead wrong.

A briefing provided by a Russian air force officer directly contradicts the OPCW claims that an Su-22 aircraft dropped a bomb on Khan Shaykhun on the morning in question. For the Su-22 to carry out an attack, the Russian officer noted, it must visually acquire the target and, from an altitude of no more than 4,000 meters, fly directly at the target at a speed of 800 to 1,000 kilometers per hour. Based upon these parameters, the release point of a bomb would be between 1,000 and 5,800 meters distant from the target. Even then, the Su-22 would require an additional three to nine kilometers to make a turn away from the target after dropping the bomb. The radar track used by the OPCW shows an Su-22 aircraft flying west of Khan Shaykhun, on a path parallel to the town. The flight path is not consistent with that needed to deliver a bomb on Khan Shaykhun.

While Western “experts” have dismissed the Russian presentation as a charade, I find it credible. As a former aircrew member of a Marine Corps OA-4 Skyhawk light attack aircraft, which possesses performance characteristics similar to that of the Su-22, I have flown air-to-ground strike missions similar to that claimed for Khan Shaykhun. I could fly the flight profile indicated by the U.S. radar track 100 times, and never get a bomb anywhere near the area where the Khan Shaykhun crater in question is located. This point is furthered by the fact that a basic analysis of the crater puts the azimuth of strike nearly perpendicular to the line of flight of the Su-22 when passing west of the town; for a bomb to have been delivered, the aircraft would have had to significantly depart from its flight path, overflying the target, before turning and resuming its course. The radar shows no such deviation. (The “loops” flown by the aircraft north of Khan Shaykhun could likewise never have provided the direction of attack needed to deliver a bomb to the crater in question.) This is the crux of the problem facing the OPCW—it claims that an aerial bomb loaded with sarin was used to strike Khan Shaykhun, and yet the evidence it provides regarding the presence of the sole vector capable of delivering this weapon—the Syrian Su-22—disproves its case.

The tale of the Syrian Su-22 represents both the alpha and omega of the allegations of Syrian government complicity regarding the use of sarin at Khan Shaykhun. One can debate sarin persistency, alternative vectors for agent delivery and other tangential issues until they are blue in the face. But for the Nusra Front, White Helmet and SAMS narrative to be viable, there must have been an attack by a Syrian air force Su-22 that delivered an aerial bomb to the center of Khan Shaykhun. Yet the evidence provided demonstrates conclusively that this could not have occurred. Based upon this reality, everything that follows must be viewed as a “false flag” incident or, as Gabbard’s website notes, “evidence to suggest that the attacks may have been staged by opposition forces for the purpose of drawing the United States and the West deeper into the war.”

“I believe,” Gabbard states on her website, “that we should all carefully look at the evidence before coming to any conclusions as to whether or not al-Qaeda or the Syrian government were responsible for these particular attacks.”

That she has done so with a critical eye is not only commendable, but what one would expect from a soldier who seeks to be the commander in chief of the U.S. military.

That the mainstream media continue to attack Gabbard for her stance on Syria and chemical weapons is indicative of the low bar that exists for American journalism today. That President Trump and all the Democratic presidential candidates have failed to display a modicum of intellectual curiosity about what really happened in Douma and Khan Shaykhun should alarm any American who professes to care about issues of war and peace.

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Scott Ritter has published op-ed essays in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the Los Angeles Times, the Guardian, the Finacial Times, Le Monde, and numerous other newspapers. He has been a contributor for Al Jazeera, AlterNet, the Huffington Post, the Washington Spectator, the American Conservative, and TruthDig.

Shannonwatch are calling for an immediate review of the safety standards applied to US military and military contracted planes at Shannon Airport. A fire on an Omni Air International troop carrier brought the airport to a standstill on Thursday August 15th. This once again highlights the dangers posed by daily military traffic at a civilian airport like Shannon.

The troop carrier, which is reported to be carrying approximately 150 troops, was on its way to the Middle East. It had arrived earlier from Tinker Air Force Base, Oklahoma USA.

“We know that it’s standard practice for the troops on these planes to have their weapons with them,” said John Lannon of Shannonwatch. “But what we don’t know, because the Irish government refuses to conduct proper inspections of US military planes at Shannon, is whether or not there were munitions on board.”

Edward Horgan of Veterans for Peace said

“It appears there was a significant fire on the undercarriage of the aircraft as it was taking off, and that this required the airport fire brigade to use flame retardant foam to extinguish the fire. The flame retardant foams used at US military bases around the world have been causing very serious pollution. Are similar polluting fire-fighting foams being used at Shannon as part of the US military business?”

It was reported in July that Shannon was the first airport in the country to take delivery of new High Reach fire tenders.

“Is this another example of US military dictating practice at Shannon to counteract the risk posed by their use of the airport?” asked Mr Horgan.

According to data gathered by Shannonwatch, the military contracted plane on which the fire broke out has, over the past week, been at Biggs Air Force Base in Texas, Shaw Air Force Base in South Carolina, as well as US Air Bases in Japan (Yokota) and South Korea (Osan). It has also travelled to the Al Udeid Air Base in Qatar, via Kuwait. As well as being a US base, Al Udeid also houses the Qatari Air Force that has been part of the Saudi-led military offensive in Yemen. This has left millions of people facing famine since 2016.

Close to 3 million US troops have gone through Shannon Airport since 2001. Troop carriers continue to land and take off from Shannon on a daily basis.

In addition to the US troop carrier flights, aircraft operated directly by the US Air Force and Navy also land at Shannon. The Irish government has admitted that there are weapons on board the troop carriers. But they claim that the other US military aircraft are carrying no arms, ammunition or explosives and are not part of military exercises or operations.

“This is utterly incredible,” said John Lannon. “It is normal procedure for crews of US military aircraft to carry personal weapons, and since thousands of these have been refuelled at Shannon since 2001 it is inconceivable that there wasn’t a single weapon on even one of them. We therefore find it impossible to believe any “assurances” about the US military use of Shannon.”

“Given the regularity of US military aircraft at Shannon, incidents like the fire on Thursday morning are potential disaster waiting to happen.” said Edward Horgan. “Furthermore, the presence of hundreds of US military personnel presents major security risks for everyone using or working at the airport.”

The use of Shannon Airport is also in contravention of Ireland’s stated policy of neutrality.

“The use of Shannon to directly support US unjustified wars in the Middle East, including wars crimes committed by some of the US military and their allies is unjustified and unacceptable,” said Edward Horgan of Veterans for Peace.

According to an RTÉ TG4 Exit Poll after the May elections, 82% of those polled said Ireland should remain a neutral country in all aspects.

Roger Cole, Chair of the Peace and Neutrality Alliance (PANA), said

“The danger to Shannon Airport and the passengers posed by US military planes that carry military equipment to the perpetual wars of the US have been highlighted by Shannonwatch and PANA. PANA once more calls upon the immediate termination of the use of Shannon Airport by US troops”.

“More important than anything however, is the Irish Government should stop collaborating with the US in killing hundreds of thousands of men, women and children,” he added.

Shannonwatch reiterate their calls for an end to all US military use of Shannon Airport, in the interests of local safety and global stability.

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When we play their game, we will always lose, and they will always win. “They” are the largely unelected “Permanent State”, sometimes called the “Deep State”. “They” are the publicly bailed-out transnational, corporate monopolies and their political fronts that destroy domestic and foreign economies with their supranational “trade” agreements, their parasitical “neoliberal”, publicly bailed-out “privatization” schemes, their permanent warmaking, and their terrorism.

A large part of their game is indoctrination. They are experts at war propaganda. They can make broad-based domestic audiences believe almost anything. And they are doing it now. They have largely succeeded in fabricating Canadian consent to support ISIS and al Qaeda and affiliated terrorists.

We must break free from their words, their stories, their criminal war propaganda. Nomenclature is important.

The pre-planned NATO war of aggression against Syria is not a “civil war”. The term “civil war” connotes a false equivalency between both sides, an internal conflict. It is a war lie. The terrorists are Western -supported, they are al Qaeda and ISIS, the Syrian people overwhelmingly reject them. The elected Syrian government is legitimate, the terrorists are not.

Similarly, the notion that the war is a “revolution” is a lie. Western-supported terrorists displaced peaceful demonstrations, murdering government security personnel and others. It was an “intelligence” operation. Weapons and terrorists came from Libya and beyond.

It was never an “intervention”. Intervention is a sanitized word that camouflages the anti-humanitarian reality which is that Empire and its proxies mass murder children, women, and men. Empire’s sectarian terrorists mass murder Syrians, Empires bombs mass murder Syrians, and Empire’s economic warfare mass murders Syrians. The intent is there. Have we forgotten Madeline Albright and the mass murdering sanctions imposed on Iraq? “We think the price is worth it,” she said.

Even the term “proxy war” is misleading. There is no equivalency between the warring sides. Syria and its allies are fighting a just war, self-defense, all within the framework of international law. The other side consists of al Qaeda, criminal occupiers. No equivalency.

“Moderate” terrorists never existed. Think about that one. It’s true.

The Syrian soldier above protects Christian towns from the West’s sectarian terrorists.

The anti-democratic SDF/YPG/PKK/Rebadged ISIS are not “militias”. The term “militia” connotes a legitimacy. They are criminal occupiers, Empire’s stooges, terrorists, resource thieves. They are not “legitimate opposition”.

Anti-democracy and freedom resource plundering. Also known as Supreme International war crimes.

If everyone told the truth, more people would understand. If we all used the same truthful nomenclature/word choice, just like all mainstream media uses the same lying nomenclature, then the people’s resistance would be a powerful humanitarian intervention. A reality-based “intervention” that actually supports rather than destroys humanity.

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Mark Taliano is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG) and the author of Voices from Syria, Global Research Publishers, 2017. Visit the author’s website at https://www.marktaliano.net.

All images in this article are from the author


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The man behind shaping Boris Johnson’s premiership, the architect of Vote Leave, Brexit and the U.K.’s future in the world also wants radical change in the way Britain is run and to rebuild world politics. This vision includes seeing the destruction of the European Union, the biggest trading bloc in the world and the United Nations – designed to uphold world peace as a political opportunity. Dominic Cummings is lauded as the genius who is upsetting the establishment, but the truth is, he’s a dangerous techno-theorist whose deluded mistakes will take much more than a generation to fix.

You are sure to have read about Dominic Cummings by now, the man behind Vote Leave and now the prime minister’s new senior adviser. But there is an awful lot you don’t know about him. What follows here will quite honestly sound like the musings of someone from the tinfoil hat brigade – I assure you, these are the true reflections of a man who gambled on Brexit being the Trojan Horse of what is to come next and who’s vision of the world is more akin to a Star Trek novel than the reality of the world we live in.

DC, as we’ll call him from now, is captivated with decision-making, technology, high-performance teams and government. Obsessed would be a better word. He talks a lot privately of “dynamic tools to help understand complex systems.” Cummings understands what he has done as the architect of the Leave campaign – itself embroiled in legal battles with the electoral commission and the police. He says that he is helping to manage the new chaos, that he himself caused – with a new architecture to completely redesign how Britain is governed. “It is relevant to Brexit and anybody thinking ‘how on earth do we escape this nightmare” he says. And a nightmare it truly is for Britain.

A hint of what he has in mind in this architecture comes from one of his blog posts.

One of the most fundamental and striking aspects of government is that practically nobody involved in it has the faintest interest in or knowledge of how to create high-performance teams to make decisions amid uncertainty and complexity. This blindness is connected to another fundamental fact: critical institutions (including the senior civil service and the parties) are programmed to fight to stay dysfunctional, they fight to stay closed and avoid learning about high performance, they fight to exclude the most able people.

DC then goes on to make an admission, that Vote Leave and their fellow travellers – went about the process of undermining the government, take advantage of its weaknesses from within and steal the EU referendum result from under their feet.

“The Westminster and Whitehall response was along the lines of ‘natural party of government’, ‘Rolls Royce civil service’ blah blah. But the fact that Cameron, Heywood (the most powerful civil servant) et al did not understand many basic features of how the world works is why I and a few others gambled on the referendum — we knew that the systemic dysfunction of our institutions and the influence of grotesque incompetents provided an opportunity for extreme leverage.”

A demonstration of DC’s arrogance and disdain for the rules-based system of domestic and global governance is no better explained than in his belief that he can “improve government around the world.”

Creating chaos

DC also explains that the plan all along was to create chaos, to collapse the government, dismantle the civil service and reshape the establishment with his new architecture of control. He asks –

What comes after the coming collapse and reshaping of the British parties, and how to improve drastically the performance of critical institutions?”

So confident is he that no-one will read his online musings (and says even if they did, they wouldn’t understand any of it anyway), he writes-

Not one in a thousand will read a 10,000 word blog on the intersection of management and technology and the few who do will dismiss it as the babbling of a deluded fool, they won’t learn any more than they learned from the referendum or from Vote Leave.

There is a false belief by DC and his team that the EU referendum result was fair. It wasn’t plain and simple and he tries in vain to defend the indefensible. Vote Leave broke the law but this is not important to the overall project.

He openly talks of the vast scope for applying ideas and tools from the physical sciences and data science/AI – that was largely ignored by mainstream social science, political parties, government bureaucracies and media – to social/political/government problems as he puts it. So they fixed it – “as Vote Leave showed in the referendum.”

DC was able to take an institution like government, knowing No10 was a long way behind new technologies available – and then blindside the entire establishment. With these new tools DC also understood that these technologies are already beyond the ability of traditional government and centralised bureaucracies to cope with.

In terms of manipulating the public DC actually takes a completely different view to all political commentators in the mainstream media.

The better educated think that psychological manipulation is something that happens to ‘the uneducated masses’ but they are deluded — in many ways people like Financial Times pundits are much easier to manipulate, their education actually makes them more susceptible to manipulation, and historically they are the ones who fall for things like Russian fake news.”

DC confirms that although it is obviously bad that the media disinforms the public, the only rational planning assumption is that this problem will continue and even get worse. He gets to the conclusion that the media will do even worse with new technologies and data science and will provide large opportunities for both good and evil.

Part of the government deconstruction project would be to turn No10 into some sort of NASA control centre – where relevant data and information models preserve a common picture of what is important in the news cycle or live-wire management of particular projects.

“Here is the Cabinet room. I have been in this room. There are effectively no tools. In the 19th Century at least Lord Salisbury used the fireplace as a tool. He would walk around the table, gather sensitive papers, and burn them at the end of meetings. The fire is now blocked. The only other tool, the clock, did not work when I was last there. Over a century, the physical space in which politicians make decisions affecting potentially billions of lives has deteriorated. The British Cabinet room practically as it was July 1914.”

DC is also toying with the idea of bringing in Cabinet ministers from outside parliament although how this would work is not clear. He’s also suggested setting up government agencies in a similar shape to that of DARPA, the U.S. Department of Defense’s tech development arm and revolutionising the Cabinet room and emergency COBRA committee room to look and deliver more information in real-time – like NASA’s control centre. It’s all very … American – a country that is itself hardly a model of perfection.

However, there is an interesting insight into the heart of government, which is quite useful. In talking about COBRA, you know that all-important meeting used by politicians to save Britain from all sorts of evils and points of crisis – DC also has a few words. He says that the aims of the meetings are unclear, assumptions are not made explicit, there is no use of advanced tools, there is no use of quantitative models, discussions are often dominated by lawyers so many actions are deemed ‘unlawful’ without proper scrutiny, and that there is constant confusion between policy, politics and PR. “Then the political cast disperses without clarity about what was discussed and agreed.” This is how the government is and it all needs changing. In this DC may well be right.

And whilst this might sound like a plan to revolutionise how government works, DC is looking at the bigger picture. He says the government could create systems for those making decisions about billions of lives around the world and trillions of dollars. He only refers to two seats of power though – that of Downing Street and The White House.

A final few thoughts on the one blog post that this article is based upon really is quite revealing though. Whilst firmly denying any wrong-doing at all in the 2016 referendum and blaming it all on fake news and conspiracy theorists – by harnessing some of these new technologies – DC does in fact confirm what really happened.

Vote Leave hacked the referendum but such opportunities are much rarer than VC-funded ‘unicorns’ ($billion tech start-ups). On the other hand, arguably what is happening now is a once in 50 or 100-year crisis and such crises also are the waves that can be ridden to change things normally unchangeable. A second referendum in 2020 is quite possible (or two referendums under PM Corbyn, propped up by the SNP?) and might be the ideal launchpad for a completely new sort of entity, not least because if it happens the Conservative Party may well not exist in any meaningful sense (whether there is or isn’t another referendum).

The context with which DC’s blog is understood is important but so are the hints of his vision for Britain. It is a vision of government stripped back and rebuilt using state of the art technologies and systems. He forecasts that th

EU will not be central to a second referendum — and if you (the politicians) think 2016 was bad, you will find the next one somewhere between intolerable and career-ending.”

Interestingly, DC does not see himself as a Brexit ideologue given he was the designer and planner of the campaign that led the UK into the Brexit quagmire. In a May 2018 post, he said it is “unknowable to anybody” whether the U.K. could “make the most” of Brexit over a “10/20/30 year timescale.” In other words – the Brexit result in economic terms was actually known to him. He understood the damage that was possible – but it was a gamble worth taking. The economic harm in the short and medium-term to ordinary citizens is of no concern to him.

DC describes himself as “not a Tory, libertarian, ‘populist’ or anything else” and in a January 2017 essay outlined his reasoning for joining the Brexit campaign.

“I thought very strongly that 1) a return to 1930s protectionism would be disastrous, 2) the fastest route to this is continuing with no democratic control over immigration or human rights policies for terrorists and other serious criminals, therefore 3) the best practical policy is to reduce (for a while) unskilled immigration and increase high skills immigration … 4) this requires getting out of the EU, 5) hopefully it will prod the rest of Europe to limit immigration and therefore limit the extremist forces that otherwise will try to rip down free trade.”

The plan after leaving the EU at the end of October – as if somehow that was going to be easy, suggests that his next target will be the Whitehall machine, nice and ripe for the dismantling. His suggestion is having parts of Whitehall “amputated” as one necessary measure, including “firing thousands of unnecessary people.” DC has not thought of the possible constitutional crisis Brexit poses to Gt Britain and no mention is made that the union will likely fall.

But DC’s work is not finished just with the radical changes he envisions for the civil service and Britain’s political establishment. No – his vision is to take full advantage of – “displacing the EU and the United Nations, that will emerge from the chaos as the world makes painful transitions in coming decades.” Not satisfied with igniting the destruction of the EU project without much care for ordinary people caught up in the inevitable hostile environment it creates – as populists tear down the institutions that upheld civil society –  he wants the UN wrecked and ruined – without a thought for the millions of vulnerable lives in its dutiful care.

The type of chaos Cummings talks of is about game theory not about people living in villages, towns and communities. It’s not how the state can deliver the best services with given resources. It’s about tearing everything down and rebuilding it all in some sort of political star-trek future world – with him at the helm, as if somehow previous human failings will simply vaporise, no-one will make mistakes or try to game it in expenses, corruption or other scandals that bedevils the taxpayer.

Cummings fails to answer for so many of the problems he has personally contributed to. Britain has been severely weakened both economically and politically as a direct result of his Brexit and along with it, democracy has been trashed to the level of worthlessness (Johnson even uses democracy as his 31st October deadline mantra). Britain’s negotiating position has been drained away to the point of being an international begging bowl where trade deals only work out best for the big players in the EU, America, China and the economic pacts of South America, Africa and Asia. Brexit has divided society in so many awful ways to. For instance, it has led to the rise of a far-right ideology so violent they are now deemed as terrorists and considered a tangible threat to national security. In the space of three years, his vision of Britain has substantially reduced the nation to a laughing stock with no real clout on the world stage. The police and army stand ready to help the country cope – no mention of this either.

What does Cummings propose to do about all that damage? A few algorithms, a few high tech TV screens and a bit of artificial intelligence – don’t make me laugh.

Cummings is a deluded techno-theorist who thinks he’s Captain Kirk in charge of the Starship Brittania. Currently, the warp drive motors have just broken down, he’s forgotten Scotty and any spare parts. Brittania is now floating in space with no operational navigation system and light-years from safety with Klingon Trump and Borg Bolton waiting to pick us off.

Cummings has not concerned himself with unpredictable events such as rapidly changing geopolitical alliances, the implications of trade wars or the inevitable political pressures they bring. A good example is that under a Johnson post-Brexit government, Britain will be forced to accept trade deal terms it would not normally accept, nor would its electorate. This will further degrade both standards of living and social cohesion. By signing a trade deal with the USA standards will fall sufficiently that other trade deals with other countries with equally low standards will follow – the trajectory for everything then becomes regressive.

In the meantime, America’s constant threatening the UK over preferred diplomats, over China, Iran and Huawei for their version of a trade deal is only more evidence of Britain’s continued fall of power.

And all of DC’s musing would be fine if Brexit was what the nation really wanted and had happened as promised, trade deals in Britain’s best interest were easy like they said and that America was a true friend like it pretends. But none of that is true.

Dominic Cummings actually wrote this publicly on his blog and this should be a warning to everyone to his state of mind.

“Then there are ideas to help solve more general coordination problems such as the risk of accidental nuclear war. The most obvious example of a project like this I can think of is a manned international lunar base which would be useful for a) basic science, b) the practical purposes of building urgently needed near-Earth infrastructure for space industrialisation, and c) to force the creation of new practical international institutions for cooperation between Great Powers.”

Britain can barely afford to fill potholes after each winter let alone build a space station on the moon to govern a fictional new world order. Downing Street is 100% deluded if they think Brexit will be over on 31st October – it won’t be. It will haunt whatever government comes to power and will distract the well-intentioned from making the country a better place than it currently is precisely because of it. The sunny uplands they keep promising is further away than ever.

Yes, the man advising Britain’s Prime Minister is both clever and as delusional as they come. He’s extremely dangerous and in No10 Downing Street.

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Hong Kong is one of the most extreme examples of big finance, neoliberal capitalism in the world. As a result, many people in Hong Kong are suffering from great economic insecurity in a city with 93 billionaires, second-most of any city.

Hong Kong is suffering the effects of being colonized by Britain for more than 150 years following the Opium Wars. The British put in place a capitalist economic system and Hong Kong has had no history of self-rule. When Britain left, it negotiated an agreement that prevents China from changing Hong Kong’s political and economic systems for 50 years by making Hong Kong a Special Administrative Region (SAR).

China cannot solve the suffering of the people of Hong Kong. This ‘One Country, Two Systems’ approach means the extreme capitalism of Hong Kong exists alongside, but separate from, China’s socialized system. Hong Kong has an unusual political system. For example, half the seats in the legislature are required to represent business interests meaning corporate interests vote on legislation.

Hong Kong is a center for big finance and also a center of financial crimes. Between 2013 and 2017, the number of suspicious transactions reported to law enforcement agencies rocketed from 32,907 to 92,115. There has been a small number of prosecutions, which dropped from a high of 167 in 2014 to 103 in 2017. Convictions dropped to only one person sentenced to more than six years behind bars in 2017.

The problem is neither the extradition bill that was used to ignite protests nor China, the problems are Hong Kong’s economy and governance.

The Extradition Bill

The stated cause of the recent protests is an extradition bill proposed because there is no legal way to prevent criminals from escaping charges when they flee to Hong Kong. The bill was proposed by the Hong Kong government in February 2019 to establish a mechanism to transfer fugitives in Hong Kong to Taiwan, Macau or Mainland China.

Extradition laws are a legal norm between countries and within countries (e.g. between states), and since Hong Kong is part of China, it is pretty basic. In fact, in 1998, a pro-democracy legislator, Martin Lee, proposed a law similar to the one he now opposes to ensure a person is prosecuted and tried at the place of the offense.

The push for the bill came in 2018 when a Hong Kong resident Chan Tong-kai allegedly killed his pregnant girlfriend, Poon Hiu-wing, in Taiwan, then returned to Hong Kong. Chan admitted he killed Poon to Hong Kong police, but the police were unable to charge him for murder or extradite him to Taiwan because no agreement was in place.

The proposed law covered  46 types of crimes that are recognized as serious offenses across the globe. These include murder, rape, and sexual offenses, assaults, kidnapping, immigration violations, and drug offenses as well as property offenses like robbery, burglary and arson and other traditional criminal offenses. It also included business and financial crimes.

Months before the street protests, the business community expressed opposition to the law. Hong Kong’s two pro-business parties urged the government to exempt white-collar crimes from the list of offenses covered by any future extradition agreement. There was escalating pressure from the city’s business heavyweights.  The American Chamber of Commerce, AmCham, a fifty-year-old organization that represents over 1,200 US companies doing business in Hong Kong, opposed the proposal.

AmCham said it would damage the city’s reputation:

“Any change in extradition arrangements that substantially expands the possibility of arrest and rendition … of international business executives residing in or transiting through Hong Kong as a result of allegations of economic crime made by the mainland government … would undermine perceptions of Hong Kong as a safe and secure haven for international business operations.”

Kurt Tong, the top US diplomat in Hong Kong, said in March that the proposal could complicate relations between Washington and Hong Kong. Indeed, the Center for International Private Enterprise, an arm of NED said the proposed law would undermine economic freedom, cause capital flight and threaten Hong Kong’s status as a hub for global commerce. They pointed to a bipartisan letter signed by eight members of Congress, including Senators Marco Rubio, Tom Cotton, and Steve Daines and Members of the House of Representatives, Jim McGovern, Ben McAdams, Chris Smith, Tom Suozzi, and Brian Mast opposing the bill.

Proponents of the bill responded by exempting nine of the economic crimes and made extradition only for crimes punishable by at least seven years in prison. These changes did not satisfy big business advocates.

The Mass Protests and US Role 

From this attention to the law, opposition grew with the formation of a coalition to organize protests. As Alexander Rubinstein reports,

“the coalition cited by Hong Kong media, including the South China Morning Post and the Hong Kong Free Press, as organizers of the anti-extradition law demonstrations is called the Civil Human Rights Front. That organization’s website lists the NED-funded HKHRM [Human Rights Monitor], Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, the Labour Party, and the Democratic Party as members of the coalition.”

HKHRM alone received more than $1.9 million in funds from the NED between 1995 and 2013. Major protests began in June.

Building the anti-China movement in Hong Kong has been a long-term, NED project since 1996. In 2012, NED invested $460,000 through its National Democratic Institute, to build the anti-China movement (aka pro-democracy movement), particularly among university students. Two years later, the mass protests of Occupy Central occurred. In a 2016 Open Letter to Kurt Tong, these NED grants and others were pointed out and Tong was asked if the US was funding a Hong Kong independence movement.

During the current protests, organizers were photographed meeting with Julie Eadeh, the political unit chief of US Consulate General, in a Hong Kong hotel. They also met with China Hawks in Washington, DC including Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Pompeo, National Security Adviser John Bolton, Senator Marco Rubio and Rep. Eliot Engel, chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee. Larry Diamond, a co-editor of the NED’s publication and a co-chair of research, has been openly encouraging the protesters. He delivered a video message of support during their rally this weekend.

Protests have included many elements of US color revolutions with tactics such as violence — attacks on bystanders, media, police and emergency personnel. Similar tactics were used in Ukraine, Nicaragua, and Venezuela, e.g. violent street barricades. US officials and media criticized the government’s response to the violent protests, even though they have been silent on the extreme police violence against the Yellow Vests in France. Demonstrators also use swarming techniques and sophisticated social media messaging targeting people in the US.

Mass protests have continued. On July 9, Chief Executive Carrie Lam pronounced the bill dead and suspended it. Protesters are now calling for the bill to be withdrawn, Lam to resign and police to be investigated. For more on the protests and US involvement, listen to our interview with K. J. Noh on Clearing the FOG (available on Monday).

What Is Driving Discontent in Hong Kong?

Image on the right: Makeshift shelters at Tung Chau Street Temporary Market in Sham Shui Po. Photo: Nora Tam

The source of unrest in Hong Kong is the economic insecurity stemming from capitalism. In 1997, Britain and China agreed to leave “the previous capitalist system” in place for 50 years.

Hong Kong has been ranked as the world’s freest economy in the Heritage’s Index of Economic Freedom since 1995 when the index began. In 1990, Milton Friedman described Hong Kong as the best example of a free-market economy. Its ranking is based on low taxes, light regulations, strong property rights, business freedom, and openness to global commerce.

Graeme Maxton writes in the South China Morning Post:

“The only way to restore order is through a radical change in Hong Kong’s economic policies. After decades of doing almost nothing, and letting the free market rule, it is time for the Hong Kong government to do what it is there for; to govern in the interests of the majority.”

The issue is not the extradition proposal, Carrie Lam or China. What we are witnessing is an unrestricted neo-liberal economy, described as a free market on steroids. Hong Kong’s economy relative to China’s gross domestic product (GDP) has fallen from a peak of 27 percent in 1993 to less than 3 percent in 2017. During this time, China has had tremendous growth, including in nearby market-friendly Shenzen, while Hong Kong has not.

As Sara Flounders writes,

“For the last 10 years wages have been stagnant in Hong Kong while rents have increased 300 percent; it is the most expensive city in the world. In Shenzhen, wages have increased 8 percent every year, and more than 1 million new, public, green housing units at low rates are nearing completion.”

Hong Kong has the world’s highest rents, a widening wealth gap and a poverty rate of 20 percent. In China, the poverty rate fell from 88 percent in 1981 to 0.7 percent in 2015, according to the World Bank.

Hong Kong In The Chinese Context

Ellen Brown writes in “Neoliberalism Has Met Its Match in China,” that the Chinese government owns 80 percent of banks, which make favorable loans to businesses, and subsidizes worker costs. The US views China subsidizing its economy as an unfair trade advantage, while China sees long-term, planned growth as smarter than short-term profits for shareholders.

The Chinese model of state-controlled capitalism (some call it a form of socialism) has lifted 800 million people out of poverty and built a middle class of over 420 million people, growing from four percent in 2002, to 31 percent. The top twelve Chinese companies on the Fortune 500 are all state-owned and state-subsidized including oil, solar energy, telecommunications, engineering, construction companies, banks, and the auto industry. China has the second-largest GDP, and the largest economy based on Purchasing Power Parity GDP, according to the CIA, IMF and World Bank.

China does have significant problems. There are thousands of documented demonstrations, strikes and labor actions in China annually, serious environmental challenges, inequality and social control through the use of surveillance technology. How China responds to these challenges is a test for their governance.

China describes itself as having an intraparty democracy. The eight other legal “democratic parties” that are allowed to participate in the political system cooperate with but do not compete with the Communist Party. There are also local elections for candidates focused on grassroots issues. China views western democracy and economics as flawed and does not try to emulate them but is creating its own system.

China is led by engineers and scientists, not by lawyers and business people. It approaches policy decisions through research and experimentation. Every city and every district is involved in some sort of experimentation including free trade zones, poverty reduction, and education reform. “There are pilot schools, pilot cities, pilot hospitals, pilot markets, pilot everything under the sun, the whole China is basically a giant portfolio of experiments, with mayors and provincial governors as Primary Investigators.” In this system, Hong Kong could be viewed as an experiment in neoliberal capitalism.

The Communist Party knows that to keep its hold on power, it must combat inequalities and shift the economy towards a more efficient and more ecological model. Beijing has set a date of 2050 to become a “socialist society” and to achieve that, it seeks improvements in sociallabor and environmental fields.

Where does Hong Kong fit into these long-term plans? With 2047 as the year for the end of the agreement with the UK, US and western powers are working toward preserving their capitalist dystopia of Hong Kong and manufacturing consensus for long-term conflict with China.

How this conflict of economic and political systems turns out depends on whether China can confront its contradictions, whether Hong Kongers can address the source of their problems and whether US empire can continue its dollar, political and military dominance. Today’s conflicts in Hong Kong are rooted in all of these realities.

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Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers co-direct Popular Resistance where this article was originally published.

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Kashmir and Palestine: Solidarity and Unity in Opposing Global Militarization

August 19th, 2019 by Palestinian BDS National Committee

The Palestinian Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions National Committee (BNC), the largest coalition in Palestinian society, shares the shock and anger of Kashmiris and democratic forces in India and across the world over the authoritarian decision of the Bharatiya Janta Party-led (BJP) Indian government to effectively nullify overnight the relative autonomy of the state of Jammu and Kashmir. We denounce the increasing use of Israeli-style paradigms and policies by the current Indian government.

Introducing through presidential decree legally dubious changes to the Indian constitution, the right-wing government in Delhi has further undermined the internationally-recognized rights of the people of Kashmir, particularly their right to democratically decide on their future, without their knowledge or consent.

The Indian government imposed this decision on the 5th of August while keeping Kashmir cut off from the world, with its phone lines and internet shut down, its political leaders placed under house arrest, and its streets under a strict curfew enforced by a massive deployment of the army, paramilitary and police forces.

Curfews and Blackouts

The Kashmir valley was already among the most militarized zones in the world, and now close to a million armed personnel are deployed there to impose the writ of the government. The curfew and communication blackout are still in place, over a week later. On Friday, the first reports of massive protests in Srinagar came in, with the use of teargas and live rounds of gunfire by Indian security personnel reported. Visiting journalists met victims with pellet gun injuries in hospitals, some of whom were going to study or were making bread in their shops when shot.

The history of atrocities and human rights violations are not new to Kashmir. Human rights groups have recorded extrajudicial killings, arbitrary detentions, torture, rape, enforced disappearances, mass blindings and suppression of protest and democratic expression, along with legal immunity to armed forces for over 30 years. Kashmir has been projected as a contention between the two nuclear armed states of India and Pakistan and never as a people with their own aspirations and UN-stipulated rights.

As recently as 2018, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights released a comprehensive report on the situation in Kashmir demanding access for an independent inquiry, which India rejected as a “false narrative.”

Settler Colonialism

As Palestinians, we deeply feel the suffering of the people in Kashmir under military repression that in so many cases is similar to Israeli forms of subjugation and control. Today, the Modi government has literally taken inspiration from Israel’s settlement project to enable forced demographic changes on the ground. The constitutional changes introduced by the BJP government scrap the ability of the state of Jammu and Kashmir to make its own laws around property, employment, residency, etc. With this provision gone, and New Delhi already inviting private investment, the demographic nature of the region is set to be permanently altered, drawing on the Israeli example of creating ‘facts on the ground’ through illegal colonial settlements in the occupied Palestinian territory.

Taking inspiration from Israel’s settler-colonialism is only the latest in Modi-led India’s deepening relationship with and admiration for apartheid Israel. As we have observed over the years, India is borrowing Israel’s methodology and ideology and using Israeli weapons in its control over Kashmir. In 2014, the BJP government’s then home minister Rajnath Singh visited Israel and said he was “impressed” by the electronic fence that maintains the blockade on two million Palestinians in Gaza. A similar fence is already being deployed along the Line of Control between India and Pakistan. India is the world’s largest importer of Israeli weapons. The Tavor rifles, the very symbol of the military jackboot in the Kashmir valley, and the drones that India deploys to control the region are Israeli-made. Israeli military delegations have been visiting Kashmir to train Indian troops.

Benjamin Netanyahu is set to visit India again in September, and major arms deals will be back on the table, as they were in the previous meeting. The Israeli weapons that India uses to oppress Kashmiris have been ‘field-tested’ on Palestinian bodies.

Our campaign for a comprehensive military embargo on Israel, therefore, is directly linked to opposing global militarization, including militarization of Kashmir.

In this grave moment today, we stand in solidarity with the people in Kashmir. In India and across the world, conscientious forces are opposing this move that abrogates the limited autonomy of Jammu and Kashmir. We must not remain silent on this historical injustice that the BJP-led government has brought upon Kashmir. Our oppressors are united, and our struggles will be stronger if we too unite.

We call for international pressure on the government of India to reverse its latest measures that violate the rights of the people of Kashmir under international law and to recognize and respect those rights. We appeal to the people of conscience in India, whose leaders once spearheaded the global non-aligned movement and the fight against apartheid in South Africa, to work toward ending India’s military and security alliance with Israel. This would not only end India’s shameful complicity in Israel’s suppression of Palestinian freedom, justice and equality, but would also benefit the struggle for the rights of the people of Kashmir, as well as the social and economic justice struggles of the people of India.

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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.

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Follow the Money Trail Behind the Hong Kong Protests

August 19th, 2019 by Sara Flounders

The demonstrations in Hong Kong, now an open confrontation with the People’s Republic of China, have a global impact. What are the forces behind this movement? What provides the funds and who stands to benefit?

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The increasingly violent demonstrations in Hong Kong are completely embraced and enthusiastically supported in the U.S. corporate media and all the imperialist political parties in the U.S. and Britain. This should be a danger sign to everyone fighting for change and for social progress. U.S. imperialism is never disinterested or neutral.

The disruptive actions involve helmeted and masked protesters using gasoline bombs, flaming bricks, arson and steel bars, random attacks on buses, and airport and mass transit shutdowns. Among the most provocative acts was an organized break-in at the Hong Kong legislature where “activists” vandalized the building and hung the British Union Jack flag.

U.S., British and Hong Kong’s colonial flags are prominent in these confrontations, along with defaced flags and other symbols of People’s China.

The New York Times described the airport shutdown:

“The protests at the airport have been deeply tactical, as the largely leaderless movement strikes at a vital economic artery. Hong Kong International Airport, which opened in 1998, the year after China reclaimed the territory from Britain, serves as a gateway to the rest of Asia. Sleek and well run, the airport accommodates nearly 75 million passengers a year and handles more than 5.1 million metric tons of cargo.” (Aug. 14)

U.S. media have consistently labeled these violent actions “pro-democracy.” But are they?

Even if the leaders of these reactionary actions decide to pull back from the brink and recalibrate their tactics, based on the Chinese government’s strong warnings, it is important to understand a movement that has such strong U.S. support.

China has a right to intervene

It must be strongly stated that China is not invading Hong Kong if it moves against these violent disruptions. Hong Kong is part of China. This is an internal matter, and the call for independence for Hong Kong is an open attack on China’s national sovereignty.

Under Hong Kong’s Basic Law, the constitution for the city, the government is legally allowed to request help from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army.

The Chinese government has announced that it will intervene militarily to defend China’s sovereignty. Top government officials have labeled the most extreme acts as “terrorism” and denounced U.S. support. Several times officials raised the analogy to the Western “color revolutions” that violently overturned governments in Serbia, Ukraine, Libya and Haiti and were attempted in Venezuela and Syria.

“The ideologues in Western governments never cease in their efforts to engineer unrest against governments that are not to their liking, even though their actions have caused misery and chaos in country after country in Latin America, Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Now they are trying the same trick in China,” China Daily explained on July 3.

Screenshot from China Daily

Liu Xiaoming, China’s ambassador to Britain, told reporters that their country was still acting as Hong Kong’s colonial master. (nbcnews.com, July 4)

“A spokeswoman for China’s Foreign Ministry claimed Tuesday that recent comments from American lawmakers Pelosi (D-Ca.) and McConnell (R-Ky.) demonstrate that Washington’s real goal is to incite chaos in the city,” according to CNBC. “By neglecting and distorting the truth, they whitewashed violent crimes as a struggle for human rights and freedom” (Aug. 14)

Where is U.S. support for other resistance?

Hong Kong police are denounced in the U.S. media for violence, but actually have shown great restraint. Despite months of violent confrontations, with flaming bottles constantly thrown, no one has been killed.

There is no such favorable media coverage or support from U.S. politicians for demonstrations of desperate workers and peasants in Honduras, Haiti or the Philippines, or for the yellow vest movement in France. There is never an official condemnation when demonstrators are killed in Yemen or Kashmir or in weekly demonstrations in Gaza against Israeli occupation.

These struggles receive barely a mention, although in every case scores of people have been killed by police, targeted for assassination or dissappeared.

While Hong Kong protests receive widespread attention, there is no similar coverage of or political support for Black Lives Matter demonstrations in the U.S. or the masses protesting racist Immigration and Customs Enforcement raids and roundups of migrants.

U.S. pressure continues

Despite China’s warnings of possible martial law, strict curfews and military intervention to restore order, protesters have shown no signs of retreat. The U.S. and Britain are determined to propel forward those hostile political forces they have cultivated over the past two decades.

The escalating demonstrations are linked to the U.S. trade war, tariffs and military encirclement of China. Four hundred — half — of the 800 U.S. overseas military bases surround China. Aircraft carriers, destroyers, nuclear submarines, jet aircraft, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense missile batteries, and satellite surveillance infrastructures are positioned in the South China Sea, close to Hong Kong. Media demonization is needed to justify and intensify this military presence.

Encouraging the demonstrations goes hand-in-hand with international efforts to bar Huawei 5G technology, the cancelation of a joint study of cancer and the arrest of Chinese corporate officers. All these belligerent acts are designed to exert maximum pressure on China, divide the leadership, destabilize economic development and weaken China’s resolve to maintain any socialist planning.

Martial law in Hong Kong, a major financial center, especially for international investment funds coming into China, would impact China’s development.

Capitalist economic “freedom”

British imperialism, in the 155 years it ruled Hong Kong, denied rights to millions of workers. There was no elected government, no right to a minimum wage, unions, decent housing or health care, and certainly no freedom of the press or freedom of speech. These basic democratic rights were not even on the books in colonial Hong Kong.

For the past 25 years, including this year, Hong Kong has been ranked No. 1 in the right-wing Heritage Foundation’s list of countries with the “greatest economic freedom” — meaning the least restraints on capitalist profit taking. Hong Kong’s ranking is based on low taxes and light regulations, the strongest property rights and business freedom, and “openness to global commerce and vibrant entrepreneurial climate … no restrictions on foreign banks.” For this Hong Kong is the “freest society in the world.”

This “freedom” means the world’s highest rents and the greatest gap between the super-rich and the desperately poor and homeless. This is what Hong Kong youth face today. But the youth are consciously being misdirected to blame the city administration for the conditions Hong Kong is locked into under the “One Country, Two Systems agreement.”

An unequal colonial treaty

Hong Kong is stolen land. This spectacular deep water port in the South China Sea at the mouth of the Pearl River, a major waterway in south China, was seized by Britain in the 1842 Opium Wars. After negotiations with Britain had dragged on through the 1980s, the British imposed another unequal treaty on the People’s Republic of China.

Under the 1997 “One Country, Two Systems” agreement that officially returned Hong Kong, Kowloon and the New Territories to the PRC, Britain and China agreed to leave “the previous capitalist system” in place for 50 years.

China, determined to reassert its sovereignty over land stolen by imperialist invasion, also needed funds for development. Most money in Asia moved through the Hong Kong banking system. So in 1997 China was anxious to reach a smooth transition that would not destabilize the transfer of investment funds into the 99.5 percent of China that had previously been denied development funds. Since the victorious Chinese Revolution in 1949, China had been sanctioned and blockaded from accessing Western investment and technology.

U.S. and British imperialism took full advantage of the 1997 concession that maintained their economic control of the former colony. Their hope was that Hong Kong could serve, as it had in the past, as an economic battering ram into China.

Their hopes were not realized. In 1997 Hong Kong’s gross domestic product was 27 percent of China’s gross domestic product. It is now a mere 3 percent and falling. Much to U.S. and British frustration, the world’s largest banks are now in China and they are state-owned banks.

What confounds the capitalist class, far more than China’s incredible growth, is that the top 12 Chinese companies on U.S. Fortune 500 list are all state-owned and state-subsidized. They include massive oil, solar energy, telecommunications, engineering and construction companies, banks and the auto industry. (Fortune.com, July 22, 2015)

U.S. corporate power is deeply threatened by China’s level of development through the Belt and Road Initiative and its growing position in international trade and investment.

U.S., Britain built a network of collaborators

When Britain and China signed the One Country, Two Systems agreement, all foreign intervention and colonial claims on Hong Kong were supposed to end. Full sovereignty was to return to China.

However, U.S. and British efforts to undercut Hong Kong’s return began in advance of the signing. Just before the transfer of sovereignty, Britain hastily set up, after 150 years of appointed officials, a partially elected, although still mainly appointed, government. They quickly established and funded political parties, composed of their loyal collaborators.

Millions of dollars were openly and secretly funneled into a whole network of protected social service organizations, political parties, media and social media, student and youth organizations, and labor unions established to undercut support for China and the Communist Party of China.

The Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions receives U.S. National Endowment for Democracy (NED) funding, along with British support. It promotes “pro-democracy, independent unions” throughout China. The HKCTU was established in 1990 to counter and undercut the Hong Kong Federation of Trade Unions founded in 1948, which is still the largest union organization with 410,000 members.

The HKFTU suffered years of brutal repression under British colonial rule as it fought for basic protection of workers’ rights. A strike organized by the HKFTU shook British colonial rule in 1967. The strike became a citywide rebellion sparked by mass layoffs of workers from the plastic flower factory. British colonial authorities harshly suppressed the uprising, resulting in 51 deaths and hundreds injured and disappeared. The HKFTU supports China and opposes the reactionary demonstrations.

NED funding = CIA support

Allen Weinstein, a founder of the NED, told the Washington Post in 1991, “A lot of what we do today was done covertly 25 years ago by the CIA.” (Sept. 21, 1991) The NED funds, coordinates and weaponizes nongovernmental organizations and social organizations with the capacity to put tens of thousands of misdirected, idealistic and alienated youth on the streets.

Funding from the NED, the Ford, Rockefeller, Soros and numerous other corporate foundations, christian churches of every denomination, and generous British funding, is behind this hostile, subversive network orchestrating the Hong Kong protests.

The NED bankrolls the Hong Kong Human Rights Movement, the Hong Kong Journalists Association, the Civic Party, Labor Party and Democratic Party. They are members of the Civil Human Rights Front that coordinates the demonstrations.

This role of the NED in China is increasingly harder to obscure. Alexander Rubinstein reported in “American Gov’t, NGOs Fuel and Fund Hong Kong Anti-Extradition Protests” (mintpressnews.com, June 13): “It is inconceivable that the organizers of the protests are unaware of the NED ties to some of its members.” (tinyurl.com/y6nhmapz)

The goal is to promote a hostile and suspicious attitude toward China and toward communism and to foster the false concept of a past democratic Hong Kong with a distinct identity. China Daily warns:

“In recent years, there have been warnings that color revolutions are emerging as a new form of warfare employed by the West to destabilize certain countries.” (Aug. 12)

Which system works better?

The Aug. 13 New York Times refers to Hong Kong as a “bastion of civil liberties” to counter “Beijing’s brand of authoritarianism.”

British colonial past is deeply mythologized. Twenty-two years of constant nostalgia for this past, supposedly glorious time has influenced increasingly impoverished youth.

Despite decades of multimillion-dollar Western funding, Hong Kong has a poverty rate of 20 percent (23.1 percent for children) compared to less than 1 percent in mainland China. In the past 20 years, mainland China has lifted countless millions of people out of poverty

Just across the river from Hong Kong sits the city of Shenzhen. It is one of the Special Economic Zones established to lure Western technology. These zones, originally with thousands of labor-intensive factories and millions of workers earning low wages, were centers of capitalist exploitation and enormous profits for U.S. and other global capitalists.

Shenzhen grew from a city of 30,000 in 1979 to a megacity of 20 million, with the largest migrant population in China. Shenzhen had a population three times the size of Hong Kong. With investments via Hong Kong, this new city became a massive polluted factory town with sweatshops spewing out clouds of dark toxic smoke.

In the past five years, through city and national urban planning, Shenzhen is today one of the most livable cities in China, with extensive parks, tree-lined streets and the largest fleet of electric buses in the world (16,000), along with all-electric cabs. Shenzhen aims to have 80 percent of its new buildings green-certified by 2020. It is full of apartment blocks, office towers and modern factories with advanced equipment manufacturing, robotics, automation and giant tech startups.

For the last 10 years wages have been stagnant in Hong Kong while rents have increased 300 percent; it is the most expensive city in the world. In Shenzhen, wages have increased 8 percent every year, and more than 1 million new, public, green housing units at low rates are nearing completion.

The U.S. is demanding that China abandon state support of its industries, the ownership of its banks and national planning. But contrasting the decay, growing poverty and intense alienation in Hong Kong with the green vibrant city of Shenzhen across the river shows that there are two choices for China today, including the angry forces mobilized in Hong Kong: modern socialist planning or a return to the super-exploitation and imperialist domination of the colonial past.

For decades Britain and the U.S. used the people of Hong Kong for cheap labor. Now they are using the same population for cheap political propaganda. This cynical maneuver is just one more weapon in a desperate effort to disrupt China’s further development.

U.S. corporate power is incapable of meeting any of the desperate needs for housing, health care, education and a healthy environment for people here. Instead, in a relentless drive for profits, enormous resources are squandered on militarism to threaten countries around the world.

We must demand: U.S. Hands Off China! U.S. Out of Hong Kong!

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This article was originally published on Workers World.

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Are Gene Edited Cows or Humans What We Really Need?

August 19th, 2019 by F. William Engdahl

Scientists using the “second generation” of genetic manipulation technology have used gene-editing to alter the DNA of breed of cattle so that they supposedly do not grow horns. At around the same time another group of scientists claim to have injected human cells into monkeys to create chimeras, as in the ancient Greek myths of beings part lion, part snake. Earlier this year a group of Chinese researchers claimed to have deliberately gene-edited monkey clones with a mental disturbance. What few realize is that all this is taking place almost entirely without any serious health and safety regulation. Is this what mankind really needs at this juncture?

Gene-edited hornless cows

Scientists at the biotech company Recombinetics have filed a patent on cattle it has genetically engineered to not grow horns using gene-editing methods. They claimed the process to be safe and effective. However tests by scientists at the US Food and Drug Administration revealed that the CRISPR gene-editing process resulted in “unexpected alterations” of the genome, including “complex genomic rearrangements at or near the target site in 34 mammalian genome editing experiments.”

The FDA researchers found gene-editing errors in the genome of the animals that were being overlooked. They identified major unintended effects. The gene scissors used, known as TALENs, are often described as highly precise. However, the FDA research showed that apart from the desired gene sequences being inserted into the genome, DNA originating from genetically engineered bacteria used in the process was also inserted. Specifically, they found presence of unintended antibiotic resistance genes in the gene-edited cattle. Recombinetics reports that it is also developing a precision gene-editing breeding method to eliminate the need to castrate pigs. Unintended effects?

Human Monkey Brain?

In another recent application of the gene-editing technology, an international group of scientists working in China have used gene-editing to produce human-monkey chimeras. According to the Spanish paper, El Pais, a team of researchers led by Prof Juan Carlos Izpisúa Belmonte from the Salk Institute in the USA have produced monkey-human chimeras. The report says that the research was conducted in China “to avoid legal issues.” That should give pause.

Belmonte’s team states that the research is aimed at solving the problem of lack of organ donors as well as organ transplant rejection. Belmonte apparently has managed to produce both pig embryos and sheep embryos which contain human cells. They took cells from an adult human and reprogrammed them to become stem cells, which can give rise to any type of cell in the body. They are then introduced into the embryo of another species, such as the monkey or sheep or pigs.

Commenting on the implications of using gene-editing to produce human-animal chimeras, Prof Robin Lovell-Badge, a biologist from London’s Francis Crick Institute admits potential problems:

“How do you restrict the contribution of the human cells just to the organ that you want to make?” he said. “If that is a pancreas or a heart or something, or kidney, then that is fine, if you manage to do that. [But] if you allow these animals to go all the way through and be born, if you have a big contribution to the central nervous system from the human cells, then that obviously becomes a concern.”

Other controversial China CRISPR gene-editing experiments have involved adding human brain genes, MCPH1, or microcephalin to monkeys. The gene-editing scientist, Bing Su, claimed, based on very small test results, that the monkeys seemed to be “smarter.” Bing Su and collaborators at the Yunnan Key Laboratory of Primate Biomedical Research exposed monkey embryos to a virus carrying the human version of microcephalin. They generated 11 monkeys, five of which survived to take part in a battery of brain measurements. The monkeys each have between two and nine copies of the human gene in their bodies. University of Colorado geneticist, James Sikela is critical:

“The use of transgenic monkeys to study human genes linked to brain evolution is a very risky road to take.”

These are only several of the more alarming recent experiments using gene-editing CRISPR. The significant problem is that there is no scientific neutral oversight as to what experiments are being done. Because CRISPR requires very little relative investment in technology, it can be widely used even by irresponsible experimenters.

CRISPR Dangers

CRISPR is defined as a “RNA-guided gene-editing platform that makes use of a bacterially-derived protein (Cas9) and a synthetic guide RNA to introduce a double strand break at a specific location within the genome.” The widespread experimenting with CRISPR-CAs9, the currently most widely used, has only been around since about 2015.

Geneticists back in the 1970’s were restricted to costly labs using highly trained scientists and strict controls. With CRISPR gene editing, the process is extraordinarily cheap and seemingly easy to use. As one critic described it,

“anyone can buy some CAS9 for a few hundred bucks, any halfway decent lab can use it to alter the DNA of anything…We might be able to wipe out entire species on a whim…”

 Potentially CRISPR gene-editing technology might enable positive change as well, such as treatments for genetic diseases; altering the germline of humans, animals, and other organisms; and modifying the genes of food crops for positive traits. We don’t know at this point. Yet the degree of unbiased scientific and government oversight over use of CRISPR is appalling.

Lack of Regulatory Oversight

In 2018 European Court of Justice ruled that organisms that arise from a new technique called directed mutagenesis (gene-editing) are GMOs as defined by the EU GMO Directive. As such they should be regulated in the same strict way as GMOs produced in the EU using older techniques. The ruling was greeted as a sane, rational step to insure the health and safety of people and the planet is priority.

The interests backing CRISPR and other gene-editing, were not pleased. However, immediately the ECJ ruling was attacked as a departure from “science based decision making” and “backward looking and hostile to progress,” even though the judges carefully consulted a variety of expert scientists. The powerful GMO industry lobby has organized an effort to have the new EU Commission create “a new legal regulatory framework for these new techniques,” one that is far less restrictive we can be sure.

In the US where Monsanto and the GMO industry has succeeded in creating effectively no government regulation of GMO plants such as corn or soybeans or cotton, the biotech industry has been more successful. The USDA recently proposed excluding the new gene-editing technologies such as CRISPR from in effect any regulation. This ignores the purpose of such regulation which is to hold the health and safety of the individual and of the environment paramount to any potential marketing gains from easy regulation. It is the well-established Precautionary Principle. That principle holds that government has a social responsibility to protect the public from exposure to harm, when scientific investigation has found a plausible risk. The onus of proof is on the GMO industry not the public. Just because they call their work “biotech” does not axiomatically mean that it is good for us. That we must carefully evaluate, most especially in a field such as gene-editing with the potential to “wipe out entire species on a whim …”

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F. William Engdahl is strategic risk consultant and lecturer, he holds a degree in politics from Princeton University and is a best-selling author on oil and geopolitics, exclusively 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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Seeds of Destruction: Hidden Agenda of Genetic Manipulation

Author Name: F. William Engdahl
ISBN Number: 978-0-937147-2-2
Year: 2007
Pages: 341 pages with complete index

List Price: $25.95

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This skilfully researched book focuses on how a small socio-political American elite seeks to establish control over the very basis of human survival: the provision of our daily bread. “Control the food and you control the people.”

This is no ordinary book about the perils of GMO. Engdahl takes the reader inside the corridors of power, into the backrooms of the science labs, behind closed doors in the corporate boardrooms.

The author cogently reveals a diabolical world of profit-driven political intrigue, government corruption and coercion, where genetic manipulation and the patenting of life forms are used to gain worldwide control over food production. If the book often reads as a crime story, that should come as no surprise. For that is what it is.

Malaysian Airlines MH17: Quest for Justice Continues

August 19th, 2019 by Askiah Adam

This Saturday, a conference will convene in remembrance of the 298 passengers and crew on board the Malaysia Airlines flight MH17, which was shot out of the sky over a war zone in Ukraine.

Organised jointly by the International Movement for a JUST World, the Perdana Global Peace Foundation and the Canadian-based Centre for Research on Globalisation, the conference will be held in the main auditorium of the International Islamic University Malaysia in Gombak.

The proceedings will run from 8am-6 pm, and will open with the screening of the latest documentary on the MH17 tragedy directed by the Russian freelance director, Yana Yerlashova, who will be taking questions from the floor afterwards.

Needless to say that in less than half an hour the film cannot cover everything of pertinence that has transpired since July 17, 2014, the day MH17 was downed when flying at 30,000ft, following the instructions of Kiev’s flight control tower. That the airspace above East Ukraine was not closed to civilian aircraft is in itself a demonstration of callous disregard on the part of the Ukrainian authorities.

Questions have been raised about this. A family of one of the victims has proceeded to sue the Ukraine government for negligence but presumably Kiev did not view the airspace as dangerous enough to warrant closure. Does Kiev have a point? After all, other airlines were still overflying the war zone. How much does this matter when trying to place blame?

Larger questions will be posed by experts who have been following the unfolding developments, the latest being the Joint Investigation Team (JIT) Report. They include prominent economist and head of Global Research, Prof Michel Chossudovsky, the German pilot Peter Haisenko, a man very familiar with wide-bodied jets and Dr Kees van der Pilj who will examine evidence put forward by JIT. John Philpot and Gurdial Singh Nijar are the legal beagles.

Malaysians will, too, discover that the tragedy produced some unsung heroes from our midst. Speaking will be the head of the Malaysian military team, Colonel Haji Mohd Sakri Hussain, who went with his men into the scene of the tragedy, a war zone, to retrieve the airplane’s black boxes even while the wreckage was still smoldering. The then Malaysian ambassador to the Netherlands, Dr Fauziah Taib, will recount her first-hand experience, handling families and other official arrangements including the return of the remains of the victims. Remember, more than 40 Malaysian lives were lost including, of course, the crew.

For the first time in Malaysia, at least, the tragedy will be thoroughly unpacked and closely examined. The timeline of events will be laid out and the evidence set forth. The testimonies of eyewitnesses and more presented, and the geopolitical context established.

While some might conclude that a few men may rightfully be accused for the mayhem from mere soundbites, a forensic sound expert will demonstrate that it is a ludicrous basis for laying blame on individuals when there are signs of tampering. Remember, too, the downing of the Boeing 777, whether intentional or otherwise, is impossible without the firepower bespeaking of major military capabilities.

There are also irregularities that cannot be denied, like the often asked question why Malaysia, the operator of the flight, was initially not included in the JIT when Ukraine, the country most likely to be implicated was. Is it not the international norm for the operator country to undertake the investigation, as asserted by Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

Are the organisers poking their noses where they do not belong? What gives individuals and groups the locus standi to examine the case? Surely when the grounds for doubt abound, others with the wherewithal must act so justice is served for those whose voices were robbed from them for no rhyme or reason.

Even if it were mere coincidence — MH17 was at the wrong place at the wrong time — the family must be told this truth. Nobody in good conscience can demand for what is not theirs to have.

And, if ever it is proven beyond doubt that a tragic accident took place that day more than five years ago, our prayers go out to them who paid with their lives for some terrible human error. But more than prayers are needed to prevent a repeat of similar accidents.

The outcome of the conference is an action plan intended to minimise, if not eliminate, these man-made errors.

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Askiah Adam is executive director of the International Movement for a JUST World (JUST).

Featured image is from Oriental Review

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America’s Benevolent Bombing of Serbia

August 19th, 2019 by James Bovard

Twenty years ago, President Bill Clinton commenced bombing Serbia in the name of human rights, justice, and ethnic tolerance. Approximately 1,500 Serb civilians were killed by NATO bombing in one of the biggest sham morality plays of the modern era. As British professor Philip Hammond recently noted, the 78-day bombing campaign “was not a purely military operation: NATO also destroyed what it called ‘dual-use’ targets, such as factories, city bridges, and even the main television building in downtown Belgrade, in an attempt to terrorise the country into surrender.”

Clinton’s unprovoked attack on Serbia, intended to help ethnic Albanians seize control of Kosovo, set a precedent for “humanitarian” warring that was invoked by supporters of George W. Bush’s unprovoked attack on Iraq, Barack Oba-ma’s bombing of Libya, and Donald Trump’s bombing of Syria.

Clinton remains a hero in Kosovo, and there is an 11-foot statue of him standing in the capitol, Pristina, on Bill Clinton Boulevard. A commentator in the United Kingdom’s Guardian newspaper noted that the statue showed Clinton “with a left hand raised, a typical gesture of a leader greeting the masses. In his right hand he is holding documents engraved with the date when NATO started the bombardment of Serbia, 24 March 1999.” It would have been a more accurate representation if Clinton was shown standing on the corpses of the women, children, and others killed in the U.S. bombing campaign.

Bombing Serbia was a family affair in the Clinton White House. Hillary Clinton revealed to an interviewer in the summer of 1999,

“I urged him to bomb. You cannot let this go on at the end of a century that has seen the major holocaust of our time. What do we have NATO for if not to defend our way of life?”

A biography of Hillary Clinton, written by Gail Sheehy and published in late 1999, stated that Mrs. Clinton had refused to talk to the president for eight months after the Monica Lewinsky scandal broke. She resumed talking to her husband only when she phoned him and urged him in the strongest terms to begin bombing Serbia; the president began bombing within 24 hours. Alexander Cockburn observed in the Los Angeles Times,

It’s scarcely surprising that Hillary would have urged President Clinton to drop cluster bombs on the Serbs to defend “our way of life.” The first lady is a social engineer. She believes in therapeutic policing and the duty of the state to impose such policing. War is more social engineering, “fixitry” via high explosive, social therapy via cruise missile…. As a tough therapeutic cop, she does not shy away from the most abrupt expression of the therapy: the death penalty.

I followed the war closely from the start, but selling articles to editors bashing the bombing was as easy as pitching paeans to Scientology. Instead of breaking into newsprint, my venting occurred instead in my journal:

April 7, 1999: Much of the media and most of the American public are evaluating Clinton’s Serbian policy based on the pictures of the bomb damage — rather than by asking whether there is any coherent purpose or justification for bombing. The ultimate triumph of photo opportunities…. What a travesty and national disgrace for this country.

April 17: My bottom line on the Kosovo conflict: I hate holy wars. And this is a holy war for American good deeds — or for America’s saintly self-image? Sen. John McCain said the war is necessary to “uphold American values.” Make me barf! Just another … Hitler-of-the-month attack.

May 13: This damn Serbian war … is a symbol of all that is wrong with the righteous approach to the world … and to problems within this nation.

The KLA

The Kosovo Liberation Army’s savage nature was well known before the Clinton administration formally christened them “freedom fighters” in 1999. The previous year, the State Department condemned “terrorist action by the so-called Kosovo Liberation Army.” The KLA was heavily involved in drug trafficking and had close to ties to Osama bin Laden. Arming the KLA helped Clinton portray himself as a crusader against injustice and shift public attention after his impeachment trial. Clinton was aided by many congressmen eager to portray U.S. bombing as an engine of righteousness. Sen. Joe Lieberman whooped that the United States and the KLA “stand for the same values and principles. Fighting for the KLA is fighting for human rights and American values.”

In early June 1999, the Washington Post reported that “some presidential aides and friends are describing [bombing] Kosovo in Churchillian tones, as Clinton’s ‘finest hour.’” Clinton administration officials justified killing civilians because, it alleged the Serbs were committing genocide in Kosovo. After the bombing ended, no evidence of genocide was found, but Clinton and Britain’s Tony Blair continued boasting as if their war had stopped a new Hitler in his tracks.

In a speech to American troops in a Thanksgiving 1999 visit, Clinton declared that the Kosovar children “love the United States … because we gave them their freedom back.” Perhaps Clinton saw freedom as nothing more than being tyrannized by people of the same ethnicity. As the Serbs were driven out of Kosovo, Kosovar Albanians became increasingly oppressed by the KLA, which ignored its commitment to disarm. The Los Angeles Times reported on November 20, 1999,

As a postwar power struggle heats up in Kosovo Albanian politics, extremists are trying to silence moderate leaders with a terror campaign of kidnappings, beatings, bombings, and at least one killing. The intensified attacks against members of the moderate Democratic League of Kosovo, or LDK, have raised concerns that radical ethnic Albanians are turning against their own out of fear of losing power in a democratic Kosovo.

American and NATO forces stood by as the KLA resumed its ethnic cleansing, slaughtering Serbian civilians, bombing Serbian churches, and oppressing non-Muslims. Almost a quarter million Serbs, Gypsies, Jews, and other minorities fled Kosovo after Clinton promised to protect them. In March 2000 renewed fighting broke out when the KLA launched attacks into Serbia, trying to seize territory that it claimed historically belonged to ethnic Albanians. UN Human Rights Envoy Jiri Dienstbier reported that “the [NATO] bombing hasn’t solved any problems. It only multiplied the existing problems and created new ones. The Yugoslav economy was destroyed. Kosovo is destroyed. There are hundreds of thousands of people unemployed now.”

U.S. complicity in atrocities

Prior to the NATO bombing, American citizens had no responsibility for atrocities committed by either Serbs or ethnic Albanians. However, after American planes bombed much of Serbia into rubble to drive the Serbian military out of Kosovo, Clinton effectively made the United States responsible for the safety of the remaining Serbs in Kosovo. That was equivalent to forcibly disarming a group of people, and then standing by, whistling and looking at the ground, while they are slaughtered. Since the United States promised to bring peace to Kosovo, Clinton bears some responsibility for every burnt church, every murdered Serbian grandmother, every new refugee column streaming north out of Kosovo. Despite those problems, Clinton bragged at a December 8, 1999, press conference that he was “very, very proud” of what the United States had done in Kosovo.

I had a chapter on the Serbian bombing campaign titled “Moralizing with Cluster Bombs” in Feeling Your Pain: The Explosion and Abuse of Government Power in the Clinton–Gore Years (St. Martin’s Press, 2000), which sufficed to spur at least one or two reviewers to attack the book. Norman Provizer, the director of the Golda Meir Center for Political Leadership, scoffed in the Denver Rocky Mountain News, “Bovard chastises Clinton for an illegal, undeclared war in Kosovo without ever bothering to mention that, during the entire run of American history, there have been but four official declarations of war by Congress.”

As the chaotic situation in post-war Kosovo became stark, it was easier to work in jibes against the debacle. In an October 2002 USA Today article (“Moral High Ground Not Won on Battlefield“) bashing the Bush administration’s push for war against Iraq, I pointed out, “A desire to spread freedom does not automatically confer a license to kill…. Operation Allied Force in 1999 bombed Belgrade, Yugoslavia, into submission purportedly to liberate Kosovo. Though Serbian leader Slobodan Milosevic raised the white flag, ethnic cleansing continued — with the minority Serbs being slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground in the same way the Serbs previously oppressed the ethnic Albanians.”

In a 2011 review for The American Conservative, I scoffed, “After NATO planes killed hundreds if not thousands of Serb and ethnic Albanian civilians, Bill Clinton could pirouette as a savior. Once the bombing ended, many of the Serbs remaining in Kosovo were slaughtered and their churches burned to the ground. NATO’s ‘peace’ produced a quarter million Serbian, Jewish, and Gypsy refugees.”

In 2014, a European Union task force confirmed that the ruthless cabal that Clinton empowered by bombing Serbia committed atrocities that included murdering persons to extract and sell their kidneys, livers, and other body parts. Clint Williamson, the chief prosecutor of a special European Union task force, declared in 2014 that senior members of the Kosovo Liberation Army (KLA) had engaged in “unlawful killings, abductions, enforced disappearances, illegal detentions in camps in Kosovo and Albania, sexual violence, forced displacements of individuals from their homes and communities, and desecration and destruction of churches and other religious sites.”

The New York Times reported that the trials of Kosovo body snatchers may be stymied by cover-ups and stonewalling: “Past investigations of reports of organ trafficking in Kosovo have been undermined by witnesses’ fears of testifying in a small country where clan ties run deep and former members of the KLA are still feted as heroes. Former leaders of the KLA occupy high posts in the government.” American politicians almost entirely ignored the scandal. Vice President Joe Biden hailed former KLA leader and Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim Thaci in 2010 as “the George Washington of Kosovo.” A few months later, a Council of Europe investigative report tagged Thaci as an accomplice to the body-trafficking operation.

Clinton’s war on Serbia opened a Pandora’s box from which the world still suffers. Because politicians and pundits portrayed that war as a moral triumph, it was easier for subsequent presidents to portray U.S. bombing as the self-evident triumph of good over evil. Honest assessments of wrongful killings remain few and far between in media coverage.

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James Bovard is a policy adviser to The Future of Freedom Foundation. He is a USA Today columnist and has written for The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, New Republic, Reader’s Digest, Playboy, American Spectator, Investors Business Daily, and many other publications.

U.S. States: We Weren’t Hacked by Russians in 2016

August 19th, 2019 by Gareth Porter

A “bombshell” Senate Intelligence Committee report released in July repeated the familiar claim that Russia targeted the electoral websites of at least 21 states—but statements from the states themselves effectively undermine that narrative.

It turns out the reality is dramatically different from the headlines.

The states’ own summary responses contained in the report show that, with one exception, they found either no effort to penetrate any of their election-related sites or merely found scanning and probing associated with an IP address that the FBI had warned about ahead of the 2016 election. Hardly a slam dunk.

Federal authorities, including Independent Counsel Robert Mueller, later claimed that the Russians used that IP address to hack into the Illinois state election systems and access some 200,000 voter records, though Mueller provided no additional evidence for that in his report. Nor was there any evidence that any data was tampered with, or a single vote changed.

About the same time, in August 2016, it was reported that Arizona state election systems were also breached, and it was widely speculated afterward that the Russians were behind it. But the Senate committee itself acknowledged that it was a criminal matter, and didn’t involve the Russians.

The “Russian” hack on the Illinois website, however, eventually became part of conventional wisdom, mainly because of Special Counsel Robert Mueller’s indictment of 12 GRU (Russia’s foreign intelligence agency) officers for allegedly carrying it out.

But the overarching reality here is that there was no real penetration anywhere else. As for outside “probing” and “testing of vulnerabilities” (which, when closely read, makes up the vast majority of the “targeting” cited in the Senate report), that is something that states contend with every day at the hands of an untold number of potential hackers, including, but not limited to, foreign actors.

As Lisa Vasa, Oregon’s chief information security officer, explained to The Washington Post, the state blocks “upwards of 14 million attempts to access our network every day.” And Colorado Secretary of State Wayne Williams told the Postthat the kind of scanning that was discussed by DHS “happens hundreds, if not thousands, of times per day.”

Furthermore, not all federal officials buy into the theory that the Illinois intrusion was political—rather than criminal—in nature. In fact, DHS Assistant Secretary for Cyber Security and Communications Andy Ozment testified in late September 2016 that the aim of the hackers in the Illinois case was “possibly for the purpose of selling personal information,” since they had stolen the data but made no effort to alter it online.

The Senate Intelligence Committee, DHS, and the intelligence community nevertheless chose to omit that reality from consideration, presumably because it would have interfered with their desired conclusion regarding the Russian cyber attacks on the 2016 election.

How the states refute DHS claims

The report says,

“Russian government-affiliated cyber actors conducted an unprecedented level of activity against state election infrastructure in the run-up to the 2016 U.S. election.”

None of the 21 states in question except for Illinois are identified by the heavily redacted report. Instead they are identified by number (State 1, State 2, etc.), which the Committee explains was at the request of DHS and “some states.” Their responses to the Committee’s query on what they experienced in 2016 are summarized in a single sentence and expounded on at greater length in the report.

Six of those states told the Committee that they had seen no cyber threat whatsoever to their government websites. Thirteen reported some level of “probing or scanning” (one lasting all of one second) that involved one of the cyber tools or IP addresses that DHS/FBI viewed as possibly Russia-related (but otherwise there is no concrete evidence that the activity was related to election tampering).

Arizona (“State 4,” based on the widely reported circumstances of the case) also contradicted the DHS position. The report acknowledges that there were two “rounds of cyber activity” on Arizona systems. But one was a successful phishing attack that was later attributed to criminals, not Russians.

 

In the second, the DHS account states, “Russian actors engaged in the same scanning activity as seen in other states, but directed at a domain affiliated with a public library.” (The spokesman for the Arizona Secretary of State, Michele Regan, told this writer that DHS had admitted only under grilling by state officials that the only thing “targeted” ahead of the 2016 election had been the Phoenix Public Library.) However, the report admits that DHS “has low confidence that this cyber activity is attributable to the Russian intelligence services because the target was unusual and not directly involved in elections.”

Nevertheless DHS continues to include Arizona—along with the six other states that clearly rejected the DHS claims, and the rest that merely acknowledge evidence of scanning or probing—as being among the 21 states victimized by Russia.

Were cyber tools real evidence of Russia’s role?

The role of those cyber tools and IP addresses underlines the political nature of the DHS position. The FBI had sent a “FLASH” message to state election officials on August 18, 2016 alerting them to the use of Acunetix and SQLMAP technologies and eight IP addresses during the successful hack into the Illinois state voter registration website. Although the FBI did not suggest that these were indicators of Russian involvement, they and DHS began treating them as such.

In fact, however, Acunetix is a commonly available and widely used tool for identifying website vulnerabilities, and SQLMAP is a widely used “open source” technology for detecting and exploiting database vulnerabilities.

Thus DHS was pushing the use of these tools as indicators of Russian hacking, even though such technology is common to virtually all criminal hackers.

DHS and FBI had linked the eight IP addresses with Russia, because six of the eight were traced to King Servers, a hosting service owned by a young Russian living in Siberia, and one had briefly hosted a Russian criminal market during 2015. But the fact that the web hosting service was Russian-owned doesn’t necessarily mean that his clients were Russian government-related, and IP addresses change hands frequently.

The owner of the six IP addresses, Vladimir Fomenko, told the New York Times that he could provide specific data on the IP address used in the Illinois intrusion that could help the FBI investigation. The FBI, whose counterinsurgency branch was providing input to Mueller’s Russia investigation, might have been expected to follow up on that lead. But Fomenko told me in a July 24, 2018 email that the FBI still had made no effort to contact him.

Lastly the Senate report itself seems to leave some question about whether these IP addresses and hacking tools were a solid indication of Russian election tampering.

“IP addresses associated with the August 18, FLASH,” the report says, “provided some indications the activity might be attributable to the Russian government, particularly the GRU [emphasis added].”

States haven’t been quiet about how DHS is misreporting this story. After Wisconsin election officials protested the claim in September 2017 that its election website had been targeted, DHS was forced to acknowledge that it had in fact been another non-election state website that had been scanned. The same happened in California.

Contrary to every mainstream media story about it, the Senate Committee report actually shows that DHS created a spectacular story without any solid evidence to back it up. The Committee should have been investigating the misleading political tactics of DHS, instead of being a cheerleader for it.

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Gareth Porter is an investigative reporter and regular contributor to The American Conservative. He is also the author of Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare.

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Author’s preface 

German dictator Adolf Hitler had a central role in initiating World War II, by pursuing a list of bold and aggressive foreign policy actions dating from the mid-1930s, and culminating in his invasion of Poland in the autumn of 1939 – an attack which had prior agreement with Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin, who absorbed the eastern half of the Polish state.

Hitler’s expansionist acts on the European mainland inevitably spread forth to a global scale and, most tragically, he would ruthlessly pursue an organized and therefore unprecedented genocide mainly perpetrated against the continent’s Jewish populations, and also targeting groups such as Romani people and those with physical disabilities.

Hitler’s brutal treatment of the people of Poland, and from the summer of 1941 against the Soviet Union’s populace, resulted in further astonishing bloodshed. By early 1945, the Nazis had claimed the lives of at least 25 million of the USSR’s population, much of those who lost their lives comprising of civilians.

The above criminal actions have been broadly documented by historians for a number of decades. However, receiving very little attention indeed from scholars is that pertaining to Hitler’s viewpoints on the critically important area of nuclear research, and regarding the atomic bomb then undergoing production in the United States. This subject is entirely relevant to the present day, with the threat of a devastating nuclear war hovering over humanity’s head, as it has been for at least two generations.

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Seventy-five years ago, on 5 August 1944, Adolf Hitler stirred from his Wolf’s Lair headquarters deep in the Masurian woods of East Prussia, so as to welcome Ion Antonescu, the autocrat of Romania.

During Hitler’s more than 800 days ensconced at the Wolf’s Lair near the medieval town of Rastenburg, he hosted an array of foreign dignitaries there, from Vichy puppet leader Pierre Laval, to Croatian dictator Ante Pavelic and of course Il Duce himself, Italy’s Benito Mussolini. Kings and statesmen also arrived to see Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair, such as Tsar Boris III of Bulgaria and the Finnish commander Carl Gustaf Mannerheim.

Antonescu, aged in his early 60s and a former career army officer, was a wiry and nimble man but one of diminutive stature. As the two dictators greeted each other warmly, Hitler standing at almost 5 feet 8 inches was appreciably taller than Antonescu, the latter being not much more than 5 feet in height.

By late summer 1944, the course of the war had taken a physical toll on both men. Hitler’s firm stride and domineering posture, regularly on public display in the early 1940s, had largely withered to be replaced by a stoop of the shoulders, an aging figure with an almost melancholic expression on his face. Hitler was also shaken by the attempt on his life that occurred just over two weeks before, though he miraculously escaped the bombing with slight injuries.

Related image

Antonescu had meanwhile greyed further around the temples, his shoulders slagged like Hitler’s, while his face betrayed a somewhat resigned look, as though he was simply waiting for the end. This was their 10th meeting since late 1940, when Antonescu had assumed power in the Romanian capital Bucharest. From the time the two first became acquainted (on 22 November 1940) Hitler was highly impressed by Antonescu’s demeanour and pragmatism. The Nazi leader later said of him,

“If something happened to Antonescu, I’d tremble for Romania. Who’d succeed him? King Michael”.

Antonescu was a major figure in the war, and an important ally of Hitler’s, though with passing decades his name has mostly been forgotten. Their relationship was no doubt strengthened by Antonescu having granted the Wehrmacht full access to the Ploiesti oil fields in southern Romania – which was a vital lubricant that assisted the German war machine in continuing to roll long into the conflict. Antonescu was in addition responsible for serious crimes; his attachment to Hitler inevitably resulted in direct complicity with the Holocaust.

As 1944 was advancing, both men were aware their regimes were in precarious positions. Throughout the summer of 1944, Soviet armies made huge gains into Nazi-occupied Europe, and they were now approaching the frontiers of Antonescu’s Romania. American and British divisions had pushed their way (though slowly) in a south-easterly direction through France, after landing at Normandy on 6 June 1944. Allied advances were elsewhere being conducted northwards through Italy, but once more their progress was remarkably slow with the greatly outnumbered Germans providing continued fierce resistance.

At the Wolf’s Lair, Hitler and Antonescu talked for many hours through the day, while present among them were Field Marshal Wilhelm Keitel and Foreign Minister Joachim Ribbentrop. No concrete agreement was reached on lasting relations between Germany and Romania. This outcome to the discussions has been documented by historians. Little mentioned to present times, however, is that Hitler and Antonescu also spoke about the atomic bomb’s development, which they knew was undergoing production in America.

What’s more, the Axis leaders issued dire warnings regarding the planet’s future were humankind to unleash nuclear weapons. In the first hours of August 1944 a German news agency, Transozean Innendienst, zoned in on a report that featured in the Swedish newspaper, Stockholms Tidningen, which portrayed how,

“In the United States, scientific experiments are being carried out on a new bomb. Its explosive substance is uranium, and when the elements within its structure are liberated, a force of hitherto undreamt-of violence is generated. A 5 kilo bomb could create a crater one kilometre deep and of 40 kilometres radius”.

This account was relayed in the German press. Hitler was informed of it prior to his conference with Antonescu on 5 August 1944, 366 days before the bombing of Hiroshima. Changing tack from the strenuous military situation, Hitler discussed with Antonescu the growing likelihood of an atomic bomb being created.

One of Hitler’s primary concerns regarding the weapon was that, on detonation, it could “bring about the final catastrophe” by igniting with the planet’s atmosphere, destroying everything: Humans walking the earth, birds and bees in the sky, fishes in the ocean.

Hitler’s fears on this subject were confirmed to him in mid-1942 by one of the Nazis’ leading scientists and Nobel Prize winner, Werner Heisenberg; who provided no definitive answer as to whether a successful nuclear fission could be kept in check, or if it would be of an uncontrollable nature, spreading forth and bringing about the doomsday scenario. In June 1942 Hitler said in half-jest to his armaments minister Albert Speer, recently succeeding the late Fritz Todt, that the scientists “might one day set the globe on fire” by their discoveries.

Hitler expounded on his hope that the physicists and weapons manufacturers – who were working on this atomic weapon – would refrain from deploying it, until they were certain it could not spark a chain reaction with the hydrogen in the air.

Unfortunately, the specialists in question were not as rational as Hitler had expected. They would in fact knowingly gamble with all life on earth. The following July, 1945 – in the hours preceding the first testing of an atomic bomb in New Mexico – America’s chief nuclear technician, Enrico Fermi, estimated there was actually a much greater chance of the planet being turned into dust than Western scientists supposed. Fermi calculated there was a 10% possibility that the world would be destroyed through an unstoppable chain reaction; exactly in the manner that Hitler had previously elaborated upon.

Fermi, who was born in Rome, had become a nervous wreck in the build-up to the atomic explosion in New Mexico’s desert, which took place early on 16 July 1945. Fermi even began taking bets on the danger of our world ending following the blast. Many other scientists working on the US nuclear program were also feeling extremely tense. Like Heisenberg, they were unable to rule out the hazard of the globe being sizzled akin to a tomato in a frying pan.

The possibility of worldwide apocalyptic scenes was also known by US military personnel such as General Leslie Groves, directing America’s nuclear program. The astonishing risks were brushed aside; nothing was done to halt the atomic test. It was deemed more important to acquire nuclear weapons with Soviet Russia in mind.

Meanwhile, at the Wolf’s Lair, spurred on by Hitler’s misgivings regarding nuclear research, Antonescu replied to his German host that he “personally hoped not to be alive” if uranium was infused to a bomb as it “might perhaps bring about the end of the world”. Hitler then recalled reading an unnamed German writer “who had predicted just that”.

Image result for adolf hitler + ion antonescu

Antonescu’s wish was not granted, as he would live to see the nuclear age with the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Antonescu was overthrown in a “Royal Coup” on 23 August 1944, less than three weeks after he saw Hitler for the last time. Over ensuing days, Antonescu was handed over to Soviet occupation forces and dispatched towards Moscow for interrogation, before being returned to Romania where he was executed near Bucharest in early June 1946.

Hitler, meanwhile, had been aware of the potential of atomic weapons for years. Following Speer’s release from prison in October 1966 he revealed, long after he had grown to hate Hitler, that in June 1942 the Führer was far from pleased “that the earth could be transformed into a glowing star” by the pursual of uranium weapons.

While Speer’s passages relating to Hitler and nuclear research have been sporadically noted, virtually unheard of is the testimony of Otto Skorzeny, whom the Allies dubbed “the most dangerous man in Europe”. Skorzeny was a high-ranking SS commando who became close to Hitler from the autumn of 1943 onwards, after he led the operation to secure Mussolini from a mountain top prison in central Italy. Skorzeny claims that, by the late 1930s, Hitler was aware of the vast possibilities of nuclear fission.

A generation after the war Skorzeny wrote that,

“From 1939, Hitler was interested in the unbelievable potential of nuclear fission. In autumn 1940, he had a long discussion on the subject with Dr. Todt, the armaments minister”.

Following his talks with Todt in 1940, Hitler’s “opinion never changed: he thought that the use of atomic energy for military purposes would mean the end of humanity”.

Skorzeny asserts that from the early 1940s Hitler read various statements on nuclear research, including a 1942 paper produced by his physicist Heisenberg pertaining to nuclear fission.

Because of Skorzeny’s membership of the criminal SS, allied to the fact he was an unapologetic Nazi who admired Hitler, scholars and readers are likely to be skeptical regarding his revelations on Hitler and the bomb. Yet upon close inspection, Skorzeny’s analysis is conducted at length, in detail and it does appear plausible.

Furthermore, as seen, his comments are bolstered by Speer, a member of Hitler’s inner circle for over a decade; and further support comes from British authors like Geoffrey Michael Brooks who highlighted that Hitler “saw no advantage in destroying the world” through the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

After Speer had seemingly washed his hands of Hitler, he was still describing the latter as “this visionary”. It included terrible visions that became reality such as the Holocaust, but Speer affirms that Hitler formulated large-scale plans and foresaw events that many others could not.

Speer notes that the

Nazi leader “really came from another world. That was why, whenever he appeared on the scene in the course of the war, he always seemed so bizarre. But I always thought that the alien quality also constituted part of his strength”.

Speer continues that Germany’s “military men had all learned to deal with a wide variety of unusual situations, but they were totally unprepared to deal with this visionary [Hitler]”.

In a great irony, the democratically elected Western leaders expressed little concern regarding the construction of atomic weapons. Quite often to the contrary. Franklin D. Roosevelt, Harry Truman and Winston Churchill were all advocates of the atomic bomb, especially the latter two statesmen.

After a B-29 aircraft unloaded an A-bomb on Hiroshima during 6 August 1945, president Truman called the weapon “the greatest thing in history” and, somewhat surreally,

“We thank God it has come to us, instead of to our enemies, and we pray that He may guide us to use it in His ways and His purposes”.

Churchill outlined there was “unanimous” agreement to drop atomic weapons on Japan and that “there was never a moment’s discussion” otherwise. There were no qualms expressed for our planet’s security, no warnings for the future of mankind. Over the unfolding seven decades, humanity has had one close escape after another with nuclear weapons.

In the meantime, Skorzeny proceeds to write about a personal meeting he claims to have had with Hitler at the Wolf’s Lair, in October 1944. By this time, the Red Army was within comfortable driving distance of the two and a half square mile complex, and were gradually closing in. Hitler nonetheless stayed put for now.

Skorzeny had visited the Wolf’s Lair a number of times in the past. It was always a lonely, intimidating journey, even by motor car. In fictional terms, it evoked similarities of the long carriage ride finally leading up to Count Dracula’s castle in Transylvania. On occasion, Hitler had been photographed wearing a long black cape as he stalked the Wolf’s Lair grounds.

Skorzeny navigated his way through the apparently endless winding roads, that snaked through thick forests reaching the heavily camouflaged Wolf’s Lair, which would never experience enemy bombing raids.

He arrived at the compound only to be told that Hitler was ill, and had retired to his bedroom. Yet Hitler issued strict orders that Skorzeny be sent to him at once.

“I am certainly one of the few visitors, if not the only one, whom the Führer received in bed”, Skorzeny wrote.

He was summoned to discuss the upcoming Ardennes Offensive, and his central role in it.

Skorzeny promptly marched off to the master’s private quarters. After knocking on the door and entering Hitler’s room, the bed-ridden dictator motioned him towards a chair, in order to be briefed on assignments with regard to Operation Greif: A new special mission which included capturing intact one or more bridges over the River Meuse in Belgium.

Following a few minutes of military evaluation their conversation is said to have turned towards “secret weapons”; which would somehow perform a role in reversing Nazi Germany’s fortunes.

Skorzeny then writes that,

“Spontaneously I began speaking of the rumours about artificial radioactivity and its eventual use as a weapon”.

Reacting, Hitler “looked at me with gleaming, feverish eyes” and he professes the Nazi leader said,

“if the energy and radioactivity released through nuclear fission were used as a weapon, that would mean the end of our planet… From strike to counterstrike humanity would inevitably exterminate itself”.

Skorzeny purports that Hitler spoke too of the possibility that everything “would be totally extinguished for hundreds of years within a radius of 40 kilometres. That would be the apocalypse”. The 40 kilometre statistic, that he attributes to Hitler, matches the radius of destruction revealed in the Swedish press two months before, circulated in a German news agency and which Hitler was aware of.

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Shane Quinn obtained an honors journalism degree. He is interested in writing primarily on foreign affairs, having been inspired by authors like Noam Chomsky. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

For how long will discourse on the plight of the Palestinian people be hostage to the notion that “impartial observers”, i.e., the silent majority on Israel, must be addressed in a manner that accounts for “where they are, not where we’d like them to be”? And who defines where these people are in the first place?

According to Robert Cohen, UK Jewish blogger on Israel/Palestine, this is the truism that we ought to embrace — “impartial observers” are not ready to step out of their preconceived notions. Cohen’s critical remarks on Facebook regarding Israel’s ban of Reps. Ilhan Omar (D-Minn.) and Rashida Tlaib (D-Mich.) from visiting Israel and the occupied West Bank conclude with:

“Meanwhile, most impartial observers will wonder in what sense does Israel think of itself as a liberal democracy and upholder of free speech?”

Do we really believe that what “most impartial observers” will be concerned about upon hearing the news of Israel’s ban of Tlaib and Omar is the state of Israel’s “liberal democracy” rather than, say, Israel’s Jewish Nationalism and its devastating impact on the Palestinian people?

The Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) Movement also issued a statement that referenced the lack of democratic values in the action of Israel’s government against the two U.S. Representatives, specifically the suppression of free speech:

The Palestinian-led BDS movement condemns the far-right Israeli government’s McCarthyite decision to prevent Congresswomen Tlaib and Omar from visiting the Occupied Palestinian Territory over their support for Palestinian freedom. We call for cutting US military aid to Israel.

To me, Tlaib and Omar being denied entry into Palestine/Israel is not a freedom of speech issue (as in McCarthyism in Israel’s right-wing government). It is an issue of Israel and all its governments past and present denying and subjugating the Palestinian people since 1948. What needs to be highlighted is freedom, justice and equality for the Palestinian people, not freedom of speech in so-called democracies.

Palestinian-American legal scholar and human rights attorney Noura Erekat got it right. She commented on Facebook:

The fact that Palestinians can’t welcome Rashida #Tlaib & Ilhan #Omar on their own should indicate clearly to the world the lack of parity by Israel — an apartheid state- & Palestinians — a stateless people whom they continue to control, cage, & oppress. We are alive because of our resistance.

The belief or idea that this story “lends itself” to references to Israel’s long-running falsehood of “the only democracy in the Middle East” is outrageous, because Israel’s values and orientation have long been exposed as apartheid Jewish supremacist. Nobody is concerned or “wonders” about Israel’s so-called “liberal and democratic values” except so-called liberal Zionists.

And yet we persist in using terminology and purveying notions (directly and indirectly) coined for us by Zionist propaganda guidelines. As Palestine Legal posted in reference to similar current discourse on Israel/Palestine:

Using the IHRA’s poor definition of antisemitism, [Israel advocates] have succeeded in completely changing the discourse: rather than talk about the occupation, the Nakba, or its violation of national, human and civil rights, the dominant public discourse now revolves around what is or is not forbidden when it comes to criticism of Israel, and to what extent said criticism is antisemitic.

Withholding clear, unambiguous language from our forums continues to embolden racist apologists for Israel and agitators such as the following:

… In a discussion tinged with racism, Jewish power brokers in Detroit have vowed to get Rep Rashida Tlaib (D-MI) out of office at any cost — “for Jewish reasons”…

Many “impartial observers” are fed up with the use of language in reports that beam insidious subliminal messages at us. A few days ago, after coming across report after report of unspeakable crimes against Palestinians committed by Israeli Jews colonizing the West Bank who were being uniformly referred to as “Israeli settlers”, I posted the following meme.

The meme resonated with many. Some wrote suggesting other names:

  • Illegal racist terrorists in Palestine
  • Jewish colonizers at least…
  • Extremist colonists
  • Prefer squatters
  • Prefer fascists
  • Fascist squatter colonizers.
  • Illegal SQUATTERS
  • Zionist supremacists
  • They are terrorists

Our language on current events concerning Israel/Palestine must project a decolonial future in Israel. Otherwise, we will never be able to shift the political paradigm in all of historic Palestine to one democratic secular state. A “reformed” Zionist reality, as in a “truly democratic” Jewish state, is a contradiction in terms. It is high time we moved on to a post Zionist reality.

 

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Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image: Photo from November 2018 of then congresswomen-elect Rashida Tlaib (left) of Michigan, and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota. (Photo: Twitter/Rashida Tlaib)

Saudi Arabia and the UAE, increasingly wary allies of one another in the War on Yemen, are poised to sharpen their competition in the Red Sea-Horn of Africa region to the point of becoming “frenemies” amidst both parties’ efforts to forge different coalitions in this strategic space through which the vast majority of European-Asian trade traverses.

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Most observers agree that the UAE’s planned military drawdown from Yemen sharpened the competition between that country and its Saudi allies in the war, but the fact of the matter is that the general dynamic of these two GCC countries becoming rivals of one another actually started at the onset of that campaign.

The Emirates leveraged its influence in the Horn of Africa to set up a military base in Eritrea, after which it helped broker an historic peace between that nation and its Ethiopian neighbor. This gave Abu Dhabi strategic depth in Africa’s second most populous state and its fastest growing economy, which also happens to be Beijing’s top partner in the continent and a promising future exporter of large-scale agricultural products to the Gulf. While that was happening, the UAE also solidified its military control over Yemen’s island of Socotra at the entrance to the Gulf of Aden on top of reinforcing its influence in the breakaway region of “Somaliland”, which altogether resulted in it becoming a transregional power in de-facto control of the strategic space through which the vast majority of European-Asian trade traverses.

The Saudis, meanwhile, have been in a state of shock that their “little brother” is outdoing them by punching well above its weight and behaving like more of a Great Power than they are. Riyadh’s regional ambitions were thwarted by its disastrous War on Yemen that was supposed to catapult the country into becoming a global power, yet it’s this very same campaign that’s responsible for actualizing Abu Dhabi’s exact same vision instead and thus turning the two allies into frenemies. Not to be outdone, the Saudis have tried to salvage their regional influence by attempting to forge a Red Sea alliance at the end of last year between itself, Egypt, Djibouti, Somalia, Sudan, Yemen, and Jordan, though this effort has thus far failed to accomplish anything tangible except for conspicuously excluding Emirati allies Eritrea, Ethiopia, and “Somaliland” and proving that the initiative was intended to counter its partner’s regional influence. Amidst all of this, Yemen remains the pivotal bone of contention in the Saudi-Emirati competition, and the situation there has recently heated up.

The kinetic (military) aspect of the conflict has largely died down from its previous high of seemingly never-ending coalition bombings against mostly civilian targets, but the non-kinetic (political) aspect has only intensified in turn. The UAE is carving out a de-facto protectorate in the formerly independent state of South Yemen, while the Saudis are left with practically no influence in the country that they spent hundreds of billions of dollars trying to subdue. Worse still, the little sway that the Saudis still command through the Islah Islamists is in jeopardy after a strategic Ansar Allah missile strike on a military parade in the South Yemeni city of Aden earlier this month exacerbated inter-coalition differences between that party and the UAE-backed separatists after the latter accused their partners of complicity in the attack. Over the weekend, the Southern Transitional Council (STC) responded by taking control of the city after seizing all the military camps there and occupying the presidential palace in the clearest sign yet that the Saudi-Emirati “cold war” has finally turned hot through this new (but not unexpected) proxy conflict, the ramifications of which might reverberate across the wider region.

The UAE already appears to be hedging its bets and preparing for the possibility of pivoting away from the Saudis if need be in spite of Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Zayed (MBZ) being his Saudi counterpart Mohammed Bin Salman‘s (MBS) unofficial mentor. The Emirates just entered into maritime talks with Iran for the first time in years even though the country’s American allies tried very hard over the summer to convince it that the Islamic Republic was responsible for attacking some ships in its territorial waters, and while it initially seemed to bite the bait, Abu Dhabi later broke with Washington by saying that it couldn’t conclude who was behind it. It’s unclear how far this nascent rapprochement with Iran might go, but if the UAE continues moving in this direction in order to deter Saudi Arabia from stopping its plans for a de-facto protectorate in South Yemen, then it might set into motion a larger chain reaction of regional changes such as an improvement of the Emirates’ ties with Iran’s Qatari and Turkish partners, much to the Kingdom’s discontent.

Even if developments don’t move in that radical of a direction, it’s clear to see that Saudi Arabia and the UAE have gone from allies in the War on Yemen to frenemies who are strategically competing with one another in the larger Red Sea-Horn of Africa region. The implications of this trend are profound, providing opportunities but also obstacles for various third-party actors depending on their agendas. The proverbial “battle lines” are being drawn and the proxy war has already started after the STC seized control of Aden, but the worst-case scenario that was earlier explained above can still be averted so long as the Saudis agree to submit to the UAE’s de-facto transregional hegemony. MBS might be influenced by his mentor MBZ to do just that, though at the same time, the young prince also needs to consider how this would reflect on his Kingdom’s international reputation, as well as his own standing in the country where rumors already abound about dissatisfied royals supposedly plotting his downfall. The stakes are therefore extremely high in this strategic competition, and the ball’s in the Saudis’ court when determining whether it’ll escalate or calm down in the coming future.

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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.

The southern part of Idlib province and the northern part of Hama province remain the main areas of hostilities in Syria.

On August 14, a Su-22 warplane of the Syrian Air Force was shot down during a combat sortie over southern Idlib. Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and its allies militant coalition al-Fatah al-Mubin claimed responsibility for the incident saying that their “air defense companies” downed the jet. No further details were provided by militants. Videos released by opposition activists show that the Su-22 exploded midair. Air-defense fire or a technical failure could cause such an explosion.

On August 13 and August 14, the Turkish-backed National Front for Liberation (NFL) fired multiple anti-tank guided missiles at equipment and positions of the Syrian Arab Army (SAA). The NFL destroyed two truck-mounted 57mm cannons, a battle tank and a vehicle near the towns of Sukayk and Tell Maraq, as well as targeted a gathering of SAA troops near Tell Tar’I.

A large base of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham east of the town of Ma`arat al-Nu`man in southern Idlib was destroyed by the Russian Aerospace Forces on August 14. Airstrikes eliminated 8 militants and injured multiple others.

The strike came amid the ongoing SAA advance in southern Idlib where government troops liberated Kafr Ayn, Tall Aas, Khirbat Murshid and Mantar, and started push to liberate the strategic town of Khan Shaykhun. The town, located on the Damascus-Aleppo highway, is a key militant strong point in the area.

According to pro-government sources, at least 45 militants were eliminated during the recent clashes in southern Idlib. While this particular number remains unconfirmed, constantly appearing photos and videos of destroyed militant equipment indicate that it may be close to the reality.

Meanwhile, Turkish unmanned aerial vehicles have started conducting reconnaissance flights over the northeastern part of Syria under the ‘safe corridor’ agreement reached by the US and Turkey earlier in August. So far, this has been the only partial step to implement this agreement.

In the event of its further implementation, US-backed Kurdish armed groups will have to retreat from the US-Turkish-agreed border area.

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On a momentous day for Tribal Nations, Congresswoman Liz Cheney (R-WY), the House Republican Conference Chairwoman, stated that the successful litigation by tribes and environmentalists to return the grizzly bear in Greater Yellowstone to the Endangered Species Act (ESA) “was not based on science or facts” but motivated by plaintiffs “intent on destroying our Western way of life.”

One of the largest tribal-plaintiff alliances in recent memory prevailed in the landmark case, Crow Tribe et al v. Zinke last September, when US District Judge Dana Christensen ruled in favor of the tribes and environmental groups after finding that the Trump Administration’s US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) had failed to abide by the ESA and exceeded its authority in attempting to remove federal protections from the grizzly. Tuesday, USFWS officially returned federal protections to the grizzly.

Removing protections from the bear, revered as sacred to a multitude of tribes, would have left the grizzly vulnerable to high-dollar trophy hunts and lifted leasing restrictions on some 34,375 square miles. Extractive industry, livestock and logging interests are among those desirous of capitalizing on the area, a region comprised of tribal treaty, reserved rights and ceded lands.

“IF THIS WASN’T LIZ CHENEY AND THE ERA OF THE TRUMP ADMINISTRATION, YOU MIGHT BE RENDERED SPEECHLESS BY THE INSENSITIVITY AND MENDACITY OF THE STATEMENT,” SAID TOM RODGERS, A SENIOR ADVISER TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAIN TRIBAL LEADERS COUNCIL (RMTLC), WHO TESTIFIED AT MAY’S CONGRESSIONAL HEARING ON THE TRIBAL HERITAGE AND GRIZZLY BEAR PROTECTION ACT. HR 2532, INTRODUCED BY HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE CHAIRMAN RAUL GRIJALVA, WAS INSPIRED BY THE GRIZZLY TREATY SIGNED BY OVER 200 TRIBAL NATIONS.

“So, in striving to protect our culture, our religious and spiritual freedoms, our sovereignty and our treaty rights – all of which are encapsulated in the grizzly issue – we are ‘destroying’ Cheney’s idea of the ‘Western way of life’?” questioned Rodgers. “I would remind the Congresswoman that at the time of the Lewis and Clark Expedition an estimated 100,000 grizzly bears roamed from the Missouri River to the Pacific Coast. That was all Indian Country. Now there are fewer than 2,000 grizzly bears and our people live in Third World conditions on meager reservations in the poorest counties in the US. Does she really want to talk about ‘destroying’ a ‘way of life’?” asked Rodgers.

Rep. Liz Cheney with House Republican leaders, Congressmen Kevin McCarthy and Steve Scalise (Source:  Alter-Native Media)

“Unfortunately, it comes as no surprise that recent attempts by the Administration to remove protections for the grizzly, as well as blatant disregard for proper Tribal consultation, warrant our attention,” commented Congressman Joe Neguse (D-CO), who chaired the hearing on HR 2532. Rodgers’ written response to a question by Rep. Neguse traces contemporary wildlife management practices employed by the USFWS and the states back to the Doctrine of Discovery. The account, which has been widely praised by organizations including Sierra Club and Earth Justice, is posted in the Congressional Record (See this).

“That response is vital for our people. I urge everybody to read it. We must be aware of where, why and how the status-quo came to be and understand that these actions consistently undermine tribal sovereignty and disenfranchise our people,” said Lynnette Grey Bull, Senior Vice President of Global Indigenous Council, who also testified at the hearing.

Grey Bull resides on the Wind River Reservation in Wyoming, among Cheney’s constituents. Both the Northern Arapaho Tribe and Eastern Shoshone Tribe passed official resolutions and issued numerous communications opposing the delisting and trophy hunting of the grizzly bear. The Northern Arapaho Business Council was compelled to issue a “Cease and Desist” letter to the Department of Interior “regarding consistent misrepresentations of the Northern Arapaho Tribe’s position on grizzly delisting.”

Cheney contends that,

“the ruling that forced today’s action was both needless and harmful to the ecosystem, which is why I introduced legislation earlier this year to reinstate the original, science-based decision by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to delist the grizzly and prevent future court action on the delisting, returning management of the grizzly back to the state where it belongs.”

Tribal Nations, including the Oglala Sioux Tribe which petitioned for a Congressional inquiry into the influence of multi-national fossil-fuel corporations on FWS’s grizzly delisting decision, previously exposed the role of extractive industry in the process. USFWS engaged multinational oil and gas services group, Amec Foster Wheeler, for the peer review of its grizzly delisting rule that tribes and environmental groups deconstructed in court. Amec Foster Wheeler appointed Halliburton executive Jonathan Lewis as CEO in the same timeframe as USFWS contracted the company.

“That puts ‘harmful to the ecosystem’ into its true context,” responded Rodgers. “The Cheney family’s connections to Halliburton hardly needs elaborating upon,” added Chief Stan Grier, President of the Blackfoot Confederacy Chiefs. Grier and Blackfeet Chairman, Tim Davis, are at the forefront of the effort to stop the grizzly being delisted and trophy hunted in the Glacier National Park region, the heartland of Blackfoot Confederacy territory.

Cheney’s attempt to legislatively “prevent future court action on the delisting” was previously challenged by a coalition of tribes in testimony to the US Senate Environment and Public Works Committee.

Any attempt . . . to legislatively nullify the Court’s ruling in Crow Tribe et al v. Zinke– to once again strip ESA protections from the grizzly bear – will, in addition to defying the Court, suborn the federal-Indian trust responsibility.  Given that the Constitution states, ‘all treaties made, or which shall be made, under the authority of the United States, shall be the supreme law of the land,’ the rights of Indian tribes cannot be treated as ‘temporary and precarious,’ as would be the case if Crow Tribe et al v. Zinke was legislatively subverted,” submitted the RMTLC, the Great Plains Tribal Chairman’s Association and the Blackfoot Confederacy.

“There’s more chance of her father receiving the Nobel Peace Prize than her Grizzly Bear State Management Act reaching the House floor,” said Rodgers of Cheney’s bill.

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Very recently, National Public Radio (NPR) conducted an interview throwing suspicion on and mocking Asma, the wife of the President of Syria, Bashar al-Assad.  The Syrian First Lady had recently done a Syrian TV interview announcing that she was cancer-free after having had breast cancer and chemotherapy.  During her treatment, she had lost all of her hair and was seen in various headscarves during the process, while she continued to work in her capacity supporting Syria Trust for Development, the main NGO in Syria which does charitable work.

Despite knowing that people who go through chemotherapy will lose their hair, the female NPR journalist openly mocked her “chic blonde pixie cut”.  That was not a hairstyle or cut: that was the very short out-growth of new hair after being struck bald while fighting for her life.

NPR’s Lulu Garcia-Navarro interviewed Lama Fakih, who is the deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa Division of Human Rights Watch.  Lama does not live in Syria and has not been experiencing firsthand what Syrians have suffered throughout this conflict.  She was giving her political opinions from the safety and luxury of Beirut, Lebanon.  She does not speak on behalf of all Syrians, but she represents the political views which support the armed opposition in Syria, which is now devolved into one group alone, and that is Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS), also known as Jibhat al Nusra, who is the Al Qaeda branch in Syria. Lama Fakih is equating a Radical Islamic terrorist group, directly linked to Al Qaeda, with ‘rebels’.  She is inferring that a blood-thirsty group who has beheaded victims, raped women and killed unarmed civilians daily for years, is a freedom-loving band of merry-men striving for democracy.  If you simply use any search engine, of news articles, written by western mainstream media and think-tanks, you will see that the group identified as in the occupation of Idlib, and fighting the Syrian government today, is only HTS.  There are no armed ‘rebels’ in Syria today, after the Free Syrian Army were over-ran by Jihadist groups years ago, and are now defunct.

The article states, “Syrians have not been able to benefit from medical care in Syria since the beginning of the uprising in 2012.”  This is factually untrue.  The Syrian system of national hospitals, free services to the public, are in every area in Syria, and have run continuously throughout the war, and are still open and serving patients across Syria today.  In many incidents, national and private hospitals have been damaged or destroyed.  The destruction of some hospitals in Syria has come from both sides of the conflict, and the terrorists have attacked, targeted and destroyed hospitals which are well documented in news articles from western media sources.  To portray the destruction of hospitals as one-sided is very serious political propaganda.  The World Health Organization (WHO) in Damascus works in close cooperation with the Syrian Ministry of Health, who administers the national hospitals.

Syrians across Syria have had access to medical care from 2011 to the present.  However, as some areas fell into the hands of terrorists, the funding and supplies from the Syrian government were not able to be delivered to the hospital.  In some cases, western charities supporting the armed fighters were able to deliver supplies, and even provide doctors. Syrians living in terrorist-held areas were suffering from the lack of services on many levels, including medical and education.  They suffered from the lack of security services, as they were living in areas which were a battle zone, and civilians were left open to attack because of the armed groups.  Civilians have been attacked and killed when they have attempted to flee the terrorist areas to a safe area in Syrian government control.

The article states: “the Assad government has been systematically targeting medical facilities and medical personnel”.  Idlib is a very small agricultural area.  It is known for olives and olive oil.  It is an area of rolling hills, scattered farmhouses, and two big towns: Idlib and Jisr al-Sughur.  It had a population of about 2 million before the conflict, and most of the original inhabitants fled when Jibhat al Nusra and ISIS began their brutal occupation and subjugation of the civilians.  However, as reconciliation deals played out, many terrorists and their wives and children arrived in Idlib as new settlers, who then took over houses and properties left behind by the original owners.  Idlib, before the conflict, had one public hospital offering free medical from the central government and had four small private hospitals. However, we read reports in the western media that “at least 25 hospitals and clinics have been destroyed or damaged by airstrikes just since the end of April this year.”  The numbers do not add up.

Targeting medical facilities is sensational.  It brings out tears and outrage by caring people worldwide.  The opposition media, political activists and human rights activists supporting the terrorists all know how to carefully craft news releases, statements and reports claiming that the Syrian government, and their allies, have been targeting hospitals in occupied areas.  This is a political propaganda tool and is not based on facts on the ground.

A field hospital is a house, school, office or mosque which has been confiscated for the re-purposing as a medical care site.  Sometimes they are underground.  During air strikes on known terrorist positions, anything could be hit, even a secret unmarked, and unknown make-shift room with bandages and basic supplies.  The Syrian military uses a network of spies inside Idlib to feed them exact information of terrorists, their meetings, and their weapons warehouses.  News reports, based on the terrorists’ videos and statements after they have caught and executed numerous men for leaking information to the Syrian military, reveal that the airstrikes on Idlib are based on actual information from on-the-ground sources.  It is accurate to say that not all airstrikes hit the intended target, and innocent civilians may suffer in a war-zone like Idlib.

The article states: “….effort to stamp out any opposition or dissent in the country.” This is factually untrue.  There are individuals, groups and parties who stand in opposition to the Syrian government who are inside Syria and allowed to operate; however, they reject armed terrorism.  Western nations such as the U.S. and the UK would never allow an armed opposition militia, or militias, to attack civilians, or the government for a political agenda.  Armed groups who attack civilians for ‘regime change’ are terrorists, and could never be termed as ‘rebels’.

While the Syrian government medical system has tried to meet all the needs of Syrian civilians during 8 years of armed conflict, still there are numerous cases where the needs were not met, and Syrians have suffered, and that blame must be shouldered by every person who held a gun against Syria, and their foreign supporters, who have succeeded in bringing the Syrian people into the depths of destruction and despair. Finally, this responsibility must be faced by western citizens, who are voting in democracies, who supported Radical Islamic terrorists for ‘regime change’ in Syria. They must accept the blame of never standing up to their governments and demanding a stop to their support and arming of Radical Islam.

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Nothing new with the crimes committed by the Turkish pariah Erdogan’s most loyal terrorists in Syria, like their sponsor Erdogan and like Israel, they are not satisfied with the crimes they commit upon entering a town, and during their presence, they continue before they leave.

In their advance to clean more of the Hama northern countryside and Idlib’s southern countryside from NATO’s Al-Qaeda terrorists, especially after cleaning Al-Hobait, Zakat, and Al-Arbaeen towns, the Syrian Arab Army managed to clean a number of other towns, in some of them the Al-Qaeda FSA terrorists were so defeated they fled before the SAA arrived.

However, in Tal Al-Sakhr, Turkey’s agents destroyed the grain silos, farmers’ tractors, and planted a large number of landmines and IEDs (Improvised Explosive Devices) before fleeing the town after losing the battle to the Syrian Arab Army. They just had to accomplish their task of destroying as much as possible of the Syrian people’s dearest assets, infrastructure, and even food source.

Syrian News Agency SANA documented the terrorist war crimes in Tal Al-Sakhr, a short part of their video below. We apologize for the unrelated music in the video from the source:

Click to watch

The systematic destruction of the pillars of the Syrian economy is one of the main targets of the US-led War of Terror against the Syrian people. From blowing up bridges, electric power stations, contaminating drinking water sources, destroying communication towers, to burning wheat fields, destroying silos after stealing the wheat to Turkey, dismantling and stealing factories to Turkey, blowing up public buildings, converting hospitals to terror command and prisons, blowing up hospitals, and not ending with planting landmines and explosives that they hope to continue to kill and maim Syrians, especially children, long after they’re gone.

US and EU sanctions and complete blockade against Syria manifested in its ugliest shape by confiscating a tanker carrying Iranian oil to the Mediterranean and trying to justify their piracy act over suspicions the oil was heading to Syria for the Syrian people to use to fuel their cars, generate power for their hospitals, schools, for heating during the coming winter and for baking their bread.

We Syrians have seen the ugliest nature of the falsely self-proclaimed civilization of the West and mainly from countries like the USA, Canada, Germany, France and the worst of them Britain.

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In a law school dictionary the definition of a Philadelphia Lawyer is, “A very sly, crafty, shrewd lawyer who is an expert in the exploitation of legal technicalities”. No where more evident can this be seen than in Northern British Columbia where the integrity of Mother Earth’s Native Peoples is once again being threatened by the suspect legalese of an oil pipeline contract between Coastal Gas and the Wet’suwet’en people.

CBC Radio’s Early Edition programme aired on August 10th the latest of many disputes that have erupted in recent times between the Wet’suwet’en people and Coastal Gas over the extension of oil pipelines through their traditional territories. This latest dispute is over the provisions of an economic development agreement contained within a signed legal benefits contract between the Na’kazdli Whut’en First Nation Tribal Council and TC Energy’s Coastal Gas Pipeline project (“Benefits Agreement asks First Nations to discourage members from hindering B.C. Pipeline Project”, Chantelle Bellrichard, CBC news, Aug 9th, 2019). This legal contract, crafted, as some critics say, by slick ‘Philadephia Lawyer’ types, calls into question the very integrity of the human race’s rights to continue to abuse as it does not only the indigenous peoples of the earth but to abuse the inherent rights of Mother Earth herself.

The wording of this contract’s provisions apparently are designed to dissuade or muzzle the Na’kazdli people themselves from speaking out against the project as vociferously has been done in the past. The legal stipulations in that contract at a glance sound like a clear violation of the basic tenets of Freedom of Speech, as contained within Canada’s Charter of Rights & Freedoms as well as Canada’s Supreme Court Rights & Aboriginal Title Decision,which, in the case of the Wet’suwet’en people, the validity of both will require a decision by Canada’s Supreme Court.

In the meantime, to allow such questionable oil pipeline projects to continue to be consummated between corporate energy entities and First Nation peoples not only flies in the face of PM Justin Trudeau and Canada’s promise to all Canadians to lower the country’s greenhouse emissions but adds further fuel to the fire of the world’s climate crisis that is currently on the front burner of almost every nation in the world, and especially in countries like Canada, the U.S., U.K. and Australia that currently are, or recently have, held their national elections and debates over what direction future energy projects should take.

In another article (“Water Not Oil Battle Cry of the Blue Planet) produced by this writer, since posted on the sites of a number of alternative international news sources, Guujaaw, an Hereditary Chief Gidansta of the Haida Nation, and advisor to B.C.’s Coastal First Nations, is quoted, from an earlier National Observer article (“The Juggernaut of corporate oil must be stopped” June 18th 2019), as objecting to the concept of a proposed Aboriginal “Reconciliation Pipeline” as part of PM Justin Trudeau’s decision to approve the extension of the controversial Trans Mountain Pipeline from the Tar Sands of Alberta to the coastal waters of British Columbia and beyond.

Guujaaw raises several key points that must be repeated here within the context of this latest dispute between the Wet’suwet’en and Coastal Gas. Canada’s Supreme Court, historically, has called for “reconciliation” to honour the sacrifices many Aboriginal champions have made to defend and protect their lands ever since the birth of Canada as a nation of immigrants. Yet whenever Corporate Oil attempts to simply buy its way in, as apparantly once again has been done in the case of the Nakazdli people, while abrogating and over-riding the will of its people, Guujaaw makes the key point that, A pipeline and all that comes with it crosses the “inherent limit” and does not carry any Aboriginal Rights when it disregards the same rights of whatever the neighbour downstream. “There is none amongst us”, contends Gujaaw, “of any colour or creed that can claim a right to disregard the neighbour downstream, or who can claim a right to neglect life. An Indian pipeline would be a business venture as any other and is not “reconciliation”; rather, an infringement and a threat.”

Guujaaw’s statement brings into serious question the whole concept of what Reconciliation actually means, not only in terms of the rights of aboriginal and indigenous peoples in the world but to the responsibilities of the human race to Mother Earth herself and all who depend upon her for their daily sustenance and survival.

The principals involved in the Wet’suwet’en-TC Energy Coastal Gas pipeline Project, all British Columbians, and indeed all the peoples of the earth, are called upon to read Guujaaw’s full commentary in Part Three of the article “Water Not Oil Battle of the Blue Planet” (“Guujaaw’s Retort to Politicians, Indian Leaders, Petroleum CEO’s & Voters”). The simplicity and profundity of the integrity embodied within the ancient indigenous philosophy of never doing anything that will adversely affect the same rights of whatever neighbour downstream, if applied as a basic principle to similar disputes and controversies between indigenous and non-indidgenous peoples alike, world-wide, should be considered, in this writer’s humble opinion, as a “Pan First Nation, Pan Indigenous World, Pan Climate Crisis Awareness” document upon which the future survival of the entire world now depends.

 

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Jerome Irwin is a Canadian-American writer who, for decades, has sought to call attention to problems of sustainability caused by excessive mega-developments and a host of related environmental-ecological-spiritual issues and concerns that exist between the conflicting philosophies of indigenous and non-indigenous peoples. In 2016, Irwin produced a series of articles on the Lakota & Dakota peoples Dakota Access Pipeline Resistance Movement.

Featured image is from Darren Makowichuk/Post Media

Russia and China Divided over Kashmir Crisis

August 18th, 2019 by Andrew Korybko

Kashmir issue has been internationalized and Pakistan sought the meeting of UNSC and with China’s backing, UNSC is convening after 50 years on Kashmir issue. Russia seems to be backing Indian claims while China went all out in Pakistan’s favor.

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Contrary to the false claims regularly propagated within the Alt-Media Community, Russia and China don’t always coordinate every aspect of their foreign policies, with the case of their clashing views over India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir last week being the perfect case in point and heralding a new era of “narrative competition” between the two.

Debunking The Dogma

One of the most “sacred” dogmas of the Alt-Media Community is that Russia and China always coordinate every aspect of their foreign policies and are therefore on the same side concerning every international issue of significance, but that narrative was just debunked after both Great Powers took opposite sides over India’s unilateral actions in Kashmir last week.

China came out in full support of Pakistan, which was to be expected after India’s moves threatened its administration of Aksai Chin and Home Minister Amit Shah even said that people might die over his country’s claims to that disputed territory as well, while Russia took India’s side and said that its decades-long partner acted within its constitutional framework when annexing Kashmir. That too was to be expected even though Kashmir is Pakistan’s Crimea because the Russian budget is disproportionately dependent on arms exports to India and the South Asian state has many “agents of influence” embedded in the Eurasian Great Power’s “deep state”.

Panic In the Alt-Media Community

Nevertheless, Moscow’s financially self-interested move risks jeopardizing its carefully crafted regional “balancing” act after the country’s recent “Return to South Asia”, and it interestingly puts it at odds with Beijing on a serious international issue for the first time since the end of the Old Cold War. The Alt-Media Community is now in panic because it’s impossible for their perception managers to concoct a credible narrative explaining this unprecedented strategic divergence between Russia and China, and the regular refrain of “5D chess” is no longer believable for most after it became the butt of countless jokes following its over-use in covering up for the undisputed existence of “Putinyahu’s Rusrael”.

Russia took India’s side and said that its decades-long partner acted within its constitutional framework when annexing Kashmir

If Russia’s leading publicly funded international media outlet RT is anything to go by, however, then Alt-Media has already entered a new era since this narrative giant is indirectly bashing China and even spreading wrong about the country’s position towards Kashmir through the specific guests that its producers chose to speak on the topic.

Questionable Contributors

In the article titled “China ‘can’t just stay out’ of Kashmir dispute, will play peacemaker“, RT recruited Andrew Leung (not to be confused with the current head of the Hong Kong legislature of the same name), Brahma Chellaney, and Iftikhar Lodhi to inform their global audience about this pressing issue. Leung is introduced to readers simply as a “China strategist” while Chellaney is just described as a “geostrategist” and Lodhi is referred to as a “public policy expert” at Nazarbayev University, but the first two titles are extremely misleading because they don’t reveal the full extent of each “expert’s” professional history that would certainly be of interest to RT’s audience.

Leung’s official website reveals that he worked with the British authorities in extremely high positions during Hong Kong’s occupation and “was twice sponsored by the U.S. Government for month-long visits across the US, including a month-long visit in 1990 to brief Chairmen and CEOs of Fortune 50 multinationals on China beyond Tienanmen Square”, while Chellaney turns out to be a regular contributor to “Project Syndicate”, an online information outlet partially sponsored by George Soros’ “Open Society Foundations”. Having gotten this easy exercise of investigative journalism out of the way, it’s now time to turn attention to what exactly these hand-picked “experts” said that might subtle reveal RT’s new unofficial editorial stance towards the issue.

A Controversial “Information Product”

Leung started off objective enough by talking about China’s interests in the Kashmir Conflict but then eventually parroted a common Mainstream Media infowar narrative about how Beijing might abandon part of the Belt & Road Initiative’s (BRI) flagship China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) in response to a deteriorating security situation in the region. Given his professional background of working real closely with the British authorities in occupied Hong Kong and being a US government-paid advisor (curiously in the aftermath of the Tiananmen Square incident), it makes sense that he’d use some of his time on RT to fearmonger about the future of CPEC.

As for Chellaney, he somewhat surprisingly isn’t quoted as saying anything controversial even though one would ordinarily expect someone connected with Soros to do so, yet it’s still curious that RT chose to bring someone associated with the global network onto its platform after banning the Color Revolution financier’s “Open Society Foundations” back in 2015 on the basis that they constitute national security threats. As it turns out, it was Lodhi who ended up being the one that spread wrong about China’s position despite him initially seeming like the least likely to do so. RT quoted him as saying that China won’t “actively get involved in putting a resolution to the UN”, which didn’t turn out to be true after Beijing actually said that it would defend Islamabad’s “legitimate rights and interests” following a meeting between both countries’ Foreign Ministers.

Analyzing The Article

When the article is taken as a whole, it can be seen that Russia’s leading publicly funded international media outlet made the voluntary decision to recruit a US government-sponsored “advisor” from Hong Kong who collaborated for decades with the occupying British authorities there and a Soros-connected Indian to speak on China’s stance towards Kashmir, which is a curious production choice to make. The first-mentioned took the opportunity to fearmonger about CPEC and parrot Western positions about the project’s supposedly uncertain future, and while the second guest isn’t quoted as saying anything controversial, his appearance on the publicly-funded platform raises questions about how seriously the Russian government is taking its banning of the “Open Society Foundations” if someone who’s openly associated with one of its many partially funded projects was invited to speak on RT.

Contrary to conventional knowledge, it also ended up being the case that Kazakhstan-based academic was the one who was proven flat-out wrong about what he said.

The key takeaway is that Alt-Media can no longer pretend that Russia and China don’t have any serious divergences of vision over key international issues

RT, of course, isn’t responsible for what its guests say on air, and it’s well known that their views don’t necessarily reflect the official position of the outlet or its Russian government financier, but producers working in any media company generally have an idea in advance of what most contributors’ positions are on the issue that they’re asked to speak about after doing some quick research into their professional histories before inviting them onto a show.

RT’s Unmistakable Signal To The Alt-Media Community 

As such, it’s very likely that RT was sending an unmistakable signal (possibly on the “plausibly deniable” behalf of the state) to the Alt-Media Community through its recruiting of Leung and Chellaney to talk about China’s position on Kashmir, having a hunch ahead of time that they’d both say something controversial even though only the former ended up proving them right, as did the seemingly uncontroversial (by virtue of his professional history) Lodhi.

None of this means that Russia is “anti-Chinese” or that one can expect a full-fledged infowar between these two BRICS and SCO strategic partners, but just that Alt-Media has definitely entered a new era whereby it’s apparently become acceptable for RT (which is one of the narrative leaders in this sphere) to rely on US government-financed “advisors” that collaborated with the occupying British authorities in Hong Kong and an Indian writer openly connected to Soros’ “Open Society Foundations” to supposedly explain China’s stance towards Kashmir to their international audience.

The not-too-subtle message is that it’s alright to use shady characters to do this, and that they won’t be contradicted for parroting Mainstream Media infowar narratives about BRI’s flagship project either despite none other than President Putin himself vowing to integrate the Russian-led Eurasian Union with this global initiative during his keynote speech earlier this year at the BRI Forum.

Concluding Thoughts

The key takeaway is that Alt-Media can no longer pretend that Russia and China don’t have any serious divergences of vision over key international issues after each Great Power took opposite sides following India’s unilateral moves in Kashmir and RT released a controversial “information product” about Beijing’s stance towards this conflict. RT also sent the unmistakable signal that it’s acceptable for the outlets and perception managers under its influence to rely on shady characters to explain China’s position towards controversial issues, even if they resort to repeating Mainstream Media infowar narratives about the country or its key interests.

Nevertheless, it would be an exaggeration to expect that the two will enter into a full-fledged infowar against one another, but just that the Alt-Media Community is finally becoming multipolar by allowing a diversity of discourse to flourish within this narrative space. Even so, however, the unofficially affiliated forces that take their cues from Russia (as in those other than publicly financed platforms like RT) will probably double down on their aggressive gatekeeping to suppress any criticism of Moscow’s decision to back New Delhi and might even attack Beijing’s support of Islamabad. It’ll be very interesting to see how the Alt-Media Community adapts to this new era of “narrative competition” that it was finally forced into by necessity, but many might actually welcome this development as long overdue and much needed.

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This article was originally published on Global Village Space.

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.

Featured image is from Cafe Dissensus Everyday blog

How Washington Is Meddling in the Affairs of Hong Kong

August 18th, 2019 by A Political Junkie

While there has been growing coverage of the unrest in Hong Kong, there has been minimal coverage of what may lie behind the pro-democracy protests.  Even Donald Trump has entered the fray with this tweet which clearly condemns China’s actions against protestors in Hong Kong:

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As you will see in this posting, it is entirely possible that a Washington-based and Congressionally funded institution is responsible, at least in part, for the lack of calmness in Hong Kong.

A few weeks ago, I wrote this posting on the National Endowment for Democracy or NED, America’s instrument of democratic promotion around the world, that is, democracy American style.  NED was founded in 1983 during the Reagan Administration with the following Statement of Principles and Objectives:

Democracy involves the right of the people freely to determine their own destiny.

The exercise of this right requires a system that guarantees freedom of expression, belief and association, free and competitive elections, respect for the inalienable rights of individuals and minorities, free communications media, and the rule of law.

While NED touts itself as a “private” foundation, in other words, it is independent of government. That could not be further from the truth.  Here’s what NED has to say about itself that belies its true character:

NED is a unique institution. The Endowment’s nongovernmental character gives it a flexibility that makes it possible to work in some of the world’s most difficult circumstances, and to respond quickly when there is an opportunity for political change. NED is dedicated to fostering the growth of a wide range of democratic institutions abroad, including political parties, trade unions, free markets and business organizations, as well as the many elements of a vibrant civil society that ensure human rights, an independent media, and the rule of law.

This well-rounded approach responds to the diverse aspects of democracy and has proved both practical and effective throughout NED’s history. Funded largely by the U.S. Congress, the support NED gives to groups abroad sends an important message of solidarity to many democrats who are working for freedom and human rights, often in obscurity and isolation….

From its beginning, NED has remained steadfastly bipartisan. Created jointly by Republicans and Democrats, NED is governed by a board balanced between both parties and enjoys Congressional support across the political spectrum. NED operates with a high degree of transparency and accountability reflecting our founders’ belief that democracy promotion overseas should be conducted openly.” (my bolds)

Despite its proclamation that it has a “nongovernmental character”, NED receives its funding through an annual appropriation from Congress through the Department of State making it little more than another mouthpiece for Washington’s agenda.  NED promotes Washington’s global agenda through direct grants to more than 1600 non-governmental groups that are working for “democracy” in more than 90 nations around the world.

Let’s look at NED’s activities in Hong Kong for 2018 according to its website.  Here are the projects that were funded over the period from 2015 to 2018:

Notice that the 2018 funding to the National Democratic Institute for International Affairs was granted to “facilitate engagement on Hong Kong’s growing threats to guaranteed rights”.  That certainly sounds like promoting democracy to me. NED spent a total of $1,357,974 on grants to organizations that were promoting freedom, democracy and human rights in Hong Kong over the period from 2015 to 2018.  Unfortunately, we don’t know what NED spent on promotingg democracy in Hong Kong in the timeframe prior to 2015.  While, in the grand scheme of what Washington spends this is not a great deal of money, it is the principle of what Washington is attempting to create in Hong Kong that is of concern.  This is a very clear example of meddling in the internal affairs of China and Hong Kong, actions that will only serve to anger China who is the also the recipient of a great deal of NED’s attention.  It is also key to remember that there are likely other taxpayer-funded programs through which Washington is attempting to influence what happens in Hong Kong.

In my opinion, this tweet by the conservative-leaning Washington Examiner is a dead giveaway to the source of the unrest:

While the ideals of democracy are admirable and desirable, Washington’s version of democracy is tainted by big money and has developed into a system where politicians are for sale to the highest bidder.  This is not the democracy that most of the world wants.  Long-term Congressional meddling in other nations internal affairs through its funding of the National Endowment for Democracy is little better than the nation reengineering exercises undertaken by the Central Intelligence Agency since the end of the Second World War.

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President Donald Trump’s Environmental Protection Agency was accused of being a pesticide “cheerleader” last week after the agency said it would not approval labels that say that glyphosate—the active ingredient in Roundup and other weedkillers—is known to cause cancer.

In a statement released Thursday announcing the move, the EPA dug in on its assertion that glyphosate does not cause cancer, though critics have said that is “an industry-friendly conclusion that’s simply not based on the best available science.”

The new guidance takes aim at California’s 2017 move, in adherence with its Proposition 65, to add glyphosate to its list of chemicals known to cause cancer and require warning labels. The state cited the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer 2015 assessment that glyphosate is “probably carcinogenic to humans.”

The EPA, however, said those labels provided consumers with false information.

“We will not allow California’s flawed program to dictate federal policy,” said EPA Administrator Andrew Wheeler in the statement.

The EPA also sent a letter to manufactures on Aug. 7 saying that “pesticide products bearing the Proposition 65 warning statement due to the presence of glyphosate are misbranded” under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA).

The letter, signed by Michael Goodis, head of EPA’s registration division in its Office of Pesticide Programs, said EPA would not approve labeling with that warning, and that “EPA requests the submission of draft amended labeling that removes such language within ninety days of the date of this letter.”

Brett Hartl, government affairs director for the Center for Biological Diversity, suggested the EPA wasn’t living up to its own name.

“It’s a little bit sad the EPA is the biggest cheerleader and defender of glyphosate,” Hartl told The Associated Press. “It’s the Environmental Protection Agency, not the pesticide protection agency.”

California and the IARC weren’t alone in seeing a link between glyphosate and cancer.

Three U.S. juries have found Roundup responsible for plaintiffs’ cancers, ordering Monsanto, which was acquired by the German pharmaceutical giant Bayer last year, to pay out tens of millions of dollars to victims.

Legal battles continue for the company. It’s appealing the verdicts, but thousands of other people are suing the company for similar damages.

Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely.

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If that headline sounds really bad to you, that is because the situation that we are facing is really bad.  Over the past few months, I have written article after article about the unprecedented crisis that U.S. farmers are facing this year.  In those articles, I have always said that “millions” of acres of farmland did not get planted this year, because I knew that we did not have a final number yet.  Well, now we do, and it is extremely troubling.  Of course there are some people out there that do not even believe that we are facing a crisis, and a few have even accused me of overstating the severity of the problems that U.S. farmers are currently dealing with.  Sadly, things are not as bad as I thought – the truth is that they are even worse.  According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, crops were not planted on 19.4 million acres of U.S. farmland this year.  The following comes directly from the official website of the USDA

Agricultural producers reported they were not able to plant crops on more than 19.4 million acres in 2019, according to a new report released by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). This marks the most prevented plant acres reported since USDA’s Farm Service Agency (FSA) began releasing the report in 2007 and 17.49 million acres more than reported at this time last year.

So this is the largest number that the USDA has ever reported for a single year, and it is nearly 17.5 million acres greater than last year’s final tally of less than 2 million acres.

If you have been following my articles on a regular basis, then you know exactly why this has happened.  The middle of the nation was absolutely pummeled by endless rain and unprecedented flooding throughout the first half of 2019, and this new USDA report shows that the vast majority of the acres that were not planted come from that area of the country

Of those prevented plant acres, more than 73 percent were in 12 Midwestern states, where heavy rainfall and flooding this year has prevented many producers from planting mostly corn, soybeans and wheat.

“Agricultural producers across the country are facing significant challenges and tough decisions on their farms and ranches,” USDA Under Secretary for Farm Production and Conservation Bill Northey said. “We know these are challenging times for farmers, and we have worked to improve flexibility of our programs to assist producers prevented from planting.”

Of course the 19.4 million acres that were not planted are only part of the story.

Most farmers were able to get seeds in the ground despite the challenging conditions, but in much of the country the crops are not in good shape.

In fact, according to the latest crop progress report only 57 percent of the corn is considered to be in “good” or “excellent” shape.

Unfortunately, the nation’s soybean crop is in even worse shape.  At this point, only 54 percent of the soybeans are in “good” or “excellent” shape.

In addition, only 8 percent of the U.S. spring wheat crop has been harvested so far.  That is “sharply below the 30% five-year average”.

So what does all of this mean?

Well, it means that we have a real crisis on our hands.  A lot less crops are being grown, and a substantial percentage of the crops that are being grown are not in good shape.  Yields are going to be way down across the board, and that means that U.S. agricultural production is going to be way, way below initial expectations.

In other words, we are going to grow a lot less food than usual.

One bad year is not going to be the end of the world, but what if things don’t bounce back next year?  As I keep telling my readers, our planet is becoming increasingly unstable in a whole bunch of different ways, and global weather patterns have been shifting dramatically.  Many experts are issuing very ominous warnings about what is ahead as weather patterns continue to shift, and some believe that what we have witnessed so far is just the very beginning of this crisis.

Almost every day, there are new headlines about extreme weather and records being broken.  For example, one community in Colorado just got pummeled by hail the size of softballs

Monster hail fell from the sky and hammered areas of the central United States on Tuesday, shattering a state record. Earlier on Tuesday before the storms developed, AccuWeather Extreme Meteorologist Reed Timmer warned that Colorado’s state hail record could be in jeopardy given the intensity of the storms that he saw developing.

His prediction came to fruition on Tuesday afternoon when a hailstone with a maximum diameter of 4.83″ fell in Bethune, Colorado, on Tuesday afternoon. The record was confirmed on Wednesday evening by the Colorado Climate Center and the National Weather Service office in Goodland, Kansas.

For some of my readers, this freakish incident is going to set off major alarm bells.

We are regularly seeing things happen that we have never seen before.  In other words, the seemingly impossible is happening so frequently that it has become mundane.

Despite all of our advanced technology, we are still completely and utterly dependent on the weather.  If the weather does not cooperate, farmers cannot grow our food, and we will not eat.

Hopefully harvest season will go smoothly, but even if that happens, food supplies will be a lot tighter in the months ahead and that means that prices will continue to rise steadily.

This is a crisis that is going to affect all of us.  I wish that I could get everyone to understand this, but unfortunately there are still a lot of people out there that are not taking this seriously.

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Michael Snyder is a nationally-syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is the author of four books including Get Prepared Now, The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters. His articles are originally published on The Economic Collapse Blog, End Of The American Dream and The Most Important News.

Featured image is from End of the American Dream

The Southern Transitional Council’s liberation of the former South Yemeni capital of Aden from the Saudi-backed Islah Islamists has restored the independence of the Old Cold War-era country.

STC vs. Islah

It was bound to happen sooner than later, but the Southern Transitional Council (STC) once again liberated the former South Yemeni capital of Aden from the Saudi-backed Islah Islamists and Hadi’s forces for the second time since January 2018, though this time they’re not willing to return to the status quo ante bellum but are  bargaining hard for the coalition’s recognition of their functional independence. The group’s UK-based spokesman Saleh Alnoud told Reuters that “giving up control of Aden is not on the table at the moment” and that it “would be a very good start if Islah was removed from the whole of the south and allow southerners to govern themselves.” The UAE-backed STC blame the Saudi-backed Islah Islamists for complicity in the Ansar Allah’s recent missile strike in Aden that further fractured the already divided coalition and provoked the separatists to forcefully evict their “frenemies” from the seaside city.

Secularism vs. Islamism

It should be noted that the STC is a secular organization that has an entirely different worldview than Islah, which explains the never-ending tension between them since the GCC-organized coalition unnaturally brought these ideologically contradictory groups together in the shared short-term interest of stopping the Ansar Allah’s rapid advance southward and pushing them as far back north as possible. The war has since crawled to a stalemate and become the world’s worst humanitarian crisis as the majority of the country’s population risks starvation and disease in the mostly blockaded northern part of the state under the control of the Ansar Allah, which explains why these “uneasy allies” began scheming and ultimately turning their guns on one another. The UAE’s large-scale military drawdown last month created fears of a power vacuum that in turn triggered a security dilemma between the STC and Islah, after which the latter allegedly conspired with the Ansar Allah during this month’s missile strike in Aden and thus caused the STC to react as they did out of self-defense.

Iranian Intrigue

Being once again in control of Aden but with the STC this time unwilling to cede power except potentially to the allied Security Belt Forces (SBF) or Aden Police (according to Alnoud in the previously cited interview), the tipping point might have finally been passed whereby the coalition is forced by necessity to recognize South Yemen’s functional independence if it hopes to continue the war. The UAE has already begun its “face-saving” withdrawal from the conflict, but Saudi Arabia is left in a situation that’s increasingly gone from bad to worse seemingly without any real exit strategy in mind, so it might at the very least seriously consider the STC’s suggestion that Islah be removed from all of South Yemen. The STC doesn’t just oppose Islah’s worldview, but is extremely suspicious of their connections to the Muslim Brotherhood, which some observers believe that it’s actually an offshoot of. Furthermore, it should be pointed out that Iran interestingly was opposed to the US’ designation of the Muslim Brotherhood as a terrorist organization despite many of its affiliates fighting against the Islamic Republic’s forces in Syria over nearly the past decade of that proxy conflict.

Time To Act

With the Ansar Allah being politically supported by Iran and Islah being suspected of indirect connections to it, the STC might have felt like a conspiracy was brewing that could end its separatist plans one way or another in the future, hence the pressing need to remove this threat from the territory of their formerly independent state as soon as possible before the situation got out of control. Coalition leader Saudi Arabia evidently doesn’t see things that way since it’s sponsoring the Islah Islamists, but those two parties might one day split from one another if either of them comes to think that the strategic utility of their partnership has eventually expired, which wouldn’t be all too surprising in a dirty war that’s already seen so many dramatic twists and turns since it first began. Sensing that its narrow window of opportunity might soon be shut, the STC made their move after being backstabbed by Islah, though they’re thus far resisting the pressure of so-called “hardliners” within their ranks to immediately declare independence in order to proverbially “go by the book” and try to get as much international support as possible first.

The Six Steps Towards Independence

In practical terms, this means being recognized by the UN as a legitimate party to the conflict and thus being assured a role in the ongoing negotiations to end it, after which they can then proceed according to the phased plan that the author suggested in his December 2017 policy proposal about how “South Yemen Will Regain Independence If It Follows These Six Steps“, beginning with an unofficial independence referendum and ending with becoming a crucial node along the New Silk Road. A “federal” transitional period of an undetermined length might be required beforehand, however, whereby the formerly independent countries of North and South Yemen consolidate their state institutions with assistance from the international community as they prepare for the formal restoration of their former sovereignty. The main problem, however, is that the Ansar Allah — despite previously favoring a “federal” solution as recently as last December — might not go along with it since they were advised by the Ayatollah earlier this week to “strongly resist” what he called the “plot” to divide Yemen and should instead endorse “a unified, coherent Yemen with sovereign integrity”.

Concluding Thoughts

Saudi Arabia, the Ansar Allah, and Iran all share one goal in common and that’s to prevent the restoration of South Yemen’s statehood, but none of them are in a position to stop the seemingly inevitable and can only realistically slow it down if anything after all that just recently transpired. If all armed parties and their supporters abroad (both military and political) truly want to end the war, then the only pragmatic solution available is to recognize the STC as a legitimate party to the conflict and begin the process of “federalizing” the country into its two former constituent parts prior to officially “re-partitioning” it following referenda in each region. The strategic dynamics are such that South Yemen’s impending independence appears to be inevitable, especially if the UN incorporates them into the fledgling peace talks as an equal member. That still has yet to happen, however, and might not occur right away, so expectations should be tempered when talking about how long this entire process might take. Even so, the STC remains committed to using the interim period to consolidate its state institutions and prepare for the day when it finally declares outright independence.

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This article was originally published on OneWorld Global Think Tank.

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.

Featured image is from Yemen Press

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The UK acknowledged its first defeat by Iran when it released the Iranian super tanker “Grace 1” captured by 30 Royal Navy commandos in the first week of July in response to a US request, as the Spanish Foreign Minister Josep Borrell revealed. In response, Iran will release the British-flagged tanker “Stena Impero”, captured by the “Iran Revolutionary Guard Corps” (IRGC) Special Forces before Saturday mid-day. This tit-for-tat response by Iran showed its determined deterrence policy towards the west:  Iran is ready to accept any consequences, including a possible war if necessary.

Moreover, Iran is prepared for another partial withdrawal from the nuclear deal three weeks from today as a counter reaction to the insufficient response of western signatory countries and their failure to effectively oppose the illegal actions of US President Donald Trump. The US unilaterally decided to revoke the deal, persuaded by Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu– even though its Chief of Staff acknowledged the nuclear deal was working. The bras-de-fer between Iran and the west is transforming the Middle East into a powder keg, ready to blow-up after the next challenging decision.

What is reducing the possibilities of war in the Persian Gulf are the 2020 US presidential elections. Indeed, Trump seems no longer willing to challenge Iran directly nor does he aim to push the conflict to a dangerous level. He is avoiding putting the US in the first line of confrontation against Iran for another year until he sees bailout results in his favour (at the end of the year 2020). In the meantime, the US administration is increasing sanctions on Iran and is trying to gather naval forces to police the Persian Gulf, contributing to an increase in the tension. Israel came forward overtly, challenging its sworn enemy Iran, by offering its direct participation in the US-proposed naval mission in the Persian Gulf. Now already Israel is involved in the US plans in the Gulf. Sources knowledgeable of the dynamic in the Gulf-Iran tension have said “Israel has drones in the area, and is involved by being present in many countries around Iran, providing military and logistic support”.

The Israeli “offer” is regarded as a clear provocation to Iran. It is sending a challenging message to the “Axis of the resistance” that has been threatening to attack Israel in case of all-out war on Iran. It shows the readiness of Israel to wage war on Iran whenever the US or a US led coalition decides, quite possiblyafterthe US election next year. Israel in any war-like decision balances the benefits and the consequences. It looks like this time the Israeli leadership should explain to their citizens why a war with Iran is worth major destruction to its infrastructure and domestic casualties. Hezbollah vows to attack Israel in case of war and the head of its Parliamentary delegation said the quasi-state actor believes that a war is under preparation against Lebanon. A Middle Eastern war is certainly not to the advantage of the nearby European continent. Unfortunately itis doing very little to influence or to cool down the levels of tension Trump is creating in the Midle East.

Among European countries, only the UK has agreed to join the US in patrolling and protecting oil tankers navigating in the Gulf. The UK is shifting away from the European stand towards Iran and seems willing to take the role of a US shield to keep earning US favour, as shown by its capture of “Grace 1”. The Trump administration is showing greater wisdom than the UK by keeping its jet carrier the USS Abraham Lincoln and other warships in Bahrein, away from the Persian Gulf.

Iran is showing further determination to protect its interests by rejecting harsh US sanctions and disrupting the exports if its own oil cannot be sold on the world market. On the other hand, Europe is aware of the danger and the possibility of a military confrontation, which means only losers. The UK insistence to have the first row position against Iran by sending a third warship to the Gulf is apparently not taking into account that the IRGC considers the western ships gathering in the area as proximate targets and floating coffins in case of war. Iran has cruise missiles, anti-ship precision missiles and armed drones enough to damage and destroy any naval ship, even one hiding behind an island, Bahrein, in the Persian Gulf.

Iraq played an important role in de-escalating the tension between Iran and the UK and for the release of the two tankers “Grace 1” and “Stena Impero”. The US administration is trying to look for ways to increase its maximum pressure on Iran in the hope of bringing Iranian officials to their knees, a goal far from realization. Baghdad will not be side-lined in case of war, and Iran’s allies in Iraq, Lebanon, Syria and Yemen will not stand idle. They are preparing for the worst-case scenario. The war of tankers is far from ending, it is just  beginning.

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In 2019, the now 187-member International Labour Organization celebrated its 100th anniversary. As one of the oldest agencies of the United Nations, the ILO used the occasion to renew calls for improved opportunities and working conditions, social protections and collective bargaining rights. The ILO’s Global Commission on the Future of Work (2019, 2) proposed a “human-centred agenda for the future of work that strengthens the social contract by placing people and the work they do at the centre of economic and social policy and business practice.”

Because the world of work begins at home, this included calls for new investments that more evenly distribute unpaid care work, from parental leave to public care services, thereby genuinely increasing opportunities in the workplace; universal entitlements to lifelong learning via active labour market policies that provide opportunities for re/upskilling; proactive universal social protections that support people’s needs over the life cycle; new investments in the institutions of work, from regulations and employment contracts to collective bargaining and labour inspection systems; expanded “time sovereignty,” that is, the right to disconnect from work and greater autonomy over working time; and harnessing technology – artificial intelligence, automation and robotics – in a manner that prioritizes human well-being, regulates data use and algorithmic accountability in the world of work.

Universal Labour Guarantee

The Commission (2019, 3) also called for establishing a Universal Labour Guarantee:

“All workers, regardless of their contractual arrangement or employment status, should enjoy fundamental workers’ rights, an ‘adequate living wage’ (ILO Constitution, 1919), maximum limits on working hours and protection of safety and health at work.”

They stress urgent action is needed to develop national strategies on the future of work and transformative investments that meet the challenges of climate change.

There is a vast gap between this call for living wages and fundamental rights, and the reality most workers face in the workplace. For decades, employers have been attempting to increase profit margins by re-organizing work. This includes subcontracting, offshoring, converting full-time jobs to part-time and temporary, and reclassifying direct employees as independent contractors. This is what economist David Weil (2014) calls the “fissured workplace.” They have introduced new technologies to cut jobs and adopted “just-in-time” scheduling practices to more precisely adjust work hours. In some fields, like healthcare, workers are forced to work long hours and double-shifts. In others, such as retail, employees often do not have enough hours of work and may even have to compete with other employees to get assigned shifts (Clawson and Gerstel 2014, Lambert, Haley-Lock, and Henly 2012).

Employers have been able to pursue some of these strategies due to neoliberal reforms which deregulate industries and labour laws. Indeed, ‘labour flexibility’ is a key plank of a neoliberal platform. Employers and policymakers have worked hand-in-hand to rewrite laws and regulations; the result is greater rights for employers and investors, and fewer rights for workers (Luce 2014). Finally, employers and their associations have in many countries actively worked to weaken labour unions. The ‘union-avoidance’ industry began to flourish in the United States in the 1970s and eventually grew into a multi-billion dollar international industry (Logan 2006). The result has been declining union density in most industrialized countries.

A recent ILO Brief (Xhafa 2018) finds that Canada failed to crack the top twenty countries when it comes to the rate of collective bargaining coverage as a proportion of total employment. At 27 per cent, Canada finds itself in a category of medium-to-low levels of collective bargaining coverage with Japan, South Africa and the United Kingdom. Collective agreements extend the rule of law to the workplace (Doorey 2017). They afford workers certain rights and place limits on the arbitrary power of employers, like grievance-arbitration mechanisms that give workers rights like due process and fair treatment, not available to other workers except via the courts. And because unions raise wage and benefit floors these gains are undoubtedly one of the main reasons why unions have historically been opposed, and continue to be opposed, by employers and governments. Unions also create a presence in local labour markets or sectors – “spillover effects” – that can create pressure to raise wages in surrounding non-unionized workplaces. This often compels employers to adjust wages to remain competitive in labour markets, often to stave-off unionization efforts.

Aside from the socio-economic advantages to being unionized – higher wages, pensions and benefits, job security, training, transparency and due process – organized labour has a long history of shaping social policy in the interests of working class communities and strengthening the social wage – public services or benefits that people receive in supplement of their wages earned from work and paid for by redistributing wealth through the tax system (Himelfarb and Himelfarb 2013). Compensation in unionized workplaces tends to be more equitable overall, with relatively higher wages for lower paid workers and less of a wage gap for women, younger workers and racialized groups. Unionized workers are also more likely to be full-time, permanent and to work longer for their employers. Finally, unionized environments tend to be safer, with lower rates of critical injuries, mobility impairments, lost-time due to injury claims and broader support services.

Unions are also able to exert political pressure outside the workplace, such as raising a series of demands for pay equity and equal pay for work of equal value, the undervaluation and occupational segregation of women and other groups, struggles for changes to human rights legislation, and same-sex spousal benefits. As Susan Hayter and Jelle Visser (2018: 4) have argued:

“It was considered desirable that the norms and rules negotiated between organized employers and the union(s) be made generally applicable.”

In neoliberalism’s wake, that is no longer the case, if it ever was.

In Canada, there has been major structural shifts to the composition of union membership by sex, age and industry over the last three decades. Since the 1980s, the proportion of unionized members in the public sector has eclipsed private sector trade union density. Whereas public sector union density has stayed relatively consistent from the mid-1980s to early-2000s, hovering around 72 per cent, total Canadian private sector density fell from 26 per cent to just over 18 per cent. Since 2011 private sector union density has fallen to around 16 per cent, while public sector density remained generally stable (Statistics Canada 2019). In other words, while public sector unionization rates have remained fairly consistent over the past thirty years – buoying total union density (around 30 per cent) – private sector unionization has been nearly halved.

In the United States, the patterns are similar. Today, 14.7 million workers belong to unions. Union density peaked in 1955 at 35 per cent and has been on the decline since, though that hides certain interesting patterns. Public sector density was at 33.9 per cent in 2018, compared to just 6.9 per cent in the private sector. And like Canada, public sector members outnumber that of the private sector. National density figures mask tremendous variation between states. In fact, over half of all union members live in just seven states: California, Illinois, Michigan, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Washington (US Department of Labor 2019).

Role of Organized Workers

Union density figures may reveal the extent of potential union organization, but it is also illustrative of the ways in which organized workers have been able to effectively reduce inequality, improve working conditions and widen income distribution through wider bargaining coverage and coordination. Advancements for workers via collective bargaining are illustrative of capitalist class concessions fought for and won over the course of intergenerational class struggles, not privileges bestowed by employers or the benevolence of the state. The growing spread of low-waged work has occurred in tandem with stagnant union growth, aggressive anti-labour legislation and drastic expenditure reductions in general government spending and public services – that is to say, austerity without end (Evans and Fanelli 2018; Albo and Fanelli, 2014;).

As Kris Warner (2013: 111) has argued:

“While the loss of heavily unionized manufacturing jobs has been a contributing factor in the declining private-sector unionization rate in [the US and Canada], it would be a mistake to place too much emphasis on this in and of itself because it cannot explain the inability of workers to realize their desires for unionizing the new jobs they have moved into. Instead, in both countries, the increased ability of employers to effectively oppose unionization offers a more compelling explanation. In the United States this has been a long-standing issue, while in Canada it is a relatively newer phenomenon, related in large part to a change in the way unions can be formed.”

Though variegated in form and function, the state has often been the chief architect of neoliberalism’s anti-labour reforms: at times imposing austerity from above or leading the charge from below, and at other times created the conditions for capital to lead in an assault against working class institutions. The results have been a continued decline in real wages and the erosion of the total labour share of wages. In contrast to the postwar class compromise, the ability of organized labour to help secure increases in social spending, impart political pressure for more progressive taxation and improved equality for all workers is at an impasse. Should the trendline continue, this could have significant implications for labour in an era of authoritarian neoliberalism and amid the resurgence of radical right-wing populists (Thomas and Tufts, 2016; Greenhouse 2019; Albo et al., 2019).

The mutual relationship between higher rates of unionization and increased democratic participation has received consistent empirical support (Sojourner 2013). As Alex Bryson and colleagues (2014) have recently argued, union members have historically been more likely to participate in general elections than non-members, cultivating a broader civic culture and participation in democratic politics. Union members are also more likely to vote and engage in a range of pro-social civic behaviours, including the signing of petitions, attending public meetings and/or volunteering for political parties. Consistent with previous research, Bryson et al., have noted that the wider decline in civic engagement is also coincident with the decline of trade union density and larger collective disengagement from formal political participation. In other words, democratic governance at work in the form of higher rates of unionization tends to contribute to a life-long attachment to democratic politics outside of it. With union density stagnant or shrinking across much of North America and Europe, the democratic implications of rising low-waged work and political polarization has emerged as a significant political concern.

While challenging the ‘common sense’ of neoliberalism is important and necessary, so too is confronting the wider capitalist context that leaves workers dependent on the imperatives of capital. In this regard, unions are paradoxical institutions, simultaneously advancing workers’ interests but rarely challenging the prevailing power relations at work (Fanelli and Noonan, 2017). As James Rinehart (2006, 203-4) has noted, while unions might nibble away at the margins of power, they do not alter the subordination of labour that lies at the root of capitalist class power. Of course, unions remain one of the few mechanisms through which workers can affect change inside and outside of their workplaces. But if trade unions are to deepen and extend their political influence and organizational capacities, it is incumbent on a wider revitalization of working-class politics, like movements for living wages embody (Evans et al., n.d.; Luce 2017).

The welfare states of the postwar era were only possible because millions of people demanded change. If labour is going to break from its political paralysis it is dependent upon a wider renewal of a politics left of social democracy – a spent force increasingly an impediment to, rather than an instrument of, progressive politics – and rooted in an intersectional class politics that prioritizes building new institutions, engaging in direct action, running for office, organizing in our workplaces and communities. In other words, a politics that confronts both the authoritarian/anti-democratic politics of the right and transcends the debilitating “post-politics” of radical centrism (Mouffe 1998). Liberal democratic capitalism is losing legitimacy. But what comes next may be a form of right-wing populism, supported by nationalist politicians and movements looking to close borders and blame immigrants and trade for economic insecurity. Will unions look to protectionism or internationalism? Will working class movements be able to unite across borders to radically shift the balance of class power relations?

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Carlo Fanelli is Assistant Professor of Work and Labour Studies at York University. He is the co-editor (with Mark Thomas, Leah Vosko and Olena Lyubchencko) of Change and Continuity: Canadian Political Economy in the New Millennium, and (with Bryan Evans) The Public Sector in an Age of Austerity: Perspectives from Canada’s Provinces and Territories. He is the editor of Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research and maintains a blog at carlofanelli.org.

Stephanie Luce is Professor of Labor Studies at the School of Labor and Urban Studies, and Professor of Sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. She is the author of Fighting for a Living Wage, and Labor Movements: Global Perspectives.

Sources

Albo, G. and C. Fanelli (2014). Austerity Against Democracy: An Authoritarian Phase of Neoliberalism?Teoria Politica: An International Journal of Theory and Politics, 2014, 65-88.

Bryson, A., R. Gomez, T. Kretschmer and P. Willman (2014). What Accounts for the Union Member Advantage in Voter Turnout? Evidence from the European Union, 2002-2008. Relations Industrielles/Industrial Relations, 69(4), 732-765.

Clawson, D. and N. Gerstel (2014). Unequal Time: Gender, Class, and Family in Employment Schedules. New York: Russell Sage Foundation.

Doorey, D. (2017). The Law of Work. Toronto: Elgar Publishing.

Evans, B. and C. Fanelli, eds. The Public Sector in an Age of Austerity: Perspectives from Canada’s Provinces and Territories. Montreal and Kingston: McGill-Queen’s University Press.

Evans, B., C. Fanelli and T. McDowell, eds., (forthcoming). Living Wage Movements in Canada: Comparative Perspectives on Resistance and Alternatives to Low-Waged Work. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press.

Fanelli, C. and J. Noonan (2017). Capital and Labour. In Schmidt, I. and C. Fanelli, eds. Reading Capital Today: Marx After 150 Years. London: Pluto Press.

Greenhouse, S. (2019). Beaten Down, Worked Up: The Past, Present, and Future of American Labor. New York: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group.

Hayter, S. and J. Visser, eds. (2018). Collective Agreements: Extending Labour Protection. Geneva: ILO.

Himelfarb, A. and J. Himelfarb, eds. (2013). Tax is Not a Four Letter Word: A Different Take on Taxes in Canada. Waterloo, ON: Wilfrid Laurier Press.

International Labour Organization (2019). Global Commission on the Future of Work.

Lambert, S, A. Haley-Lock, and J. R. Henly (2012). Labour Flexibility and Precarious Employment in Hourly Retail Jobs in the U.S: How Frontline Managers Matter. In C. Warhurst et al., eds., Are Bad Jobs Inevitable? Trends, Determinants and Responses to Job Quality in the Twenty-First Century. London: Palgrave Macmillan.

Luce, S. (2014). Labor Movements: Global Perspectives. Wiley.

Luce, S. (2017). “Raising Wages.” Alternate Routes: A Journal of Critical Social Research, 27, 12-20.

Mouffe, C. (1998). The Radical Centre: A Politics Without Adversary. Soundings, 9, 11-23.

Rinehart, J. (2006). The Tyranny of Work: Alienation and the Labour Process. Toronto: Nelson.

Sojourner, A. (2013). Do Unions Promote Electoral Office-Holding? Evidence from Correlates of State Legislatures’ Occupational Shares. Industrial and Labor Relations Review, 66(2), 467-486.

Statistics Canada (2019). Table 14-10-0132-01, Union status by industry.

Thomas, M.P. and S. Tufts (2016). Austerity, Right Populism, and the Crisis of Labour in Canada. Antipode, 48(1), 212-230.

US Department of Labor (2019). Union Members Summary.

Warner, K. (2013). “The Decline of Unionization in the United States: Some Lessons from Canada.” Labor Studies Journal, 38(2) 110–138.

Weil, D. (2017). The Fissured Workplace: Why Work Became So Bad for So Many and What Can Be Done to Improve It. Boston: Harvard University Press.

Xhafa, E. (2018). ILO Brief No. 3 – Collective bargaining and non-standard forms of employment: Practices that reduce vulnerability and ensure work is decent. Geneva: ILO.

A new study published by McKinsey & Co on Tuesday found that one of the contributing factors to the U.S. racial wealth gap is the lack of banks in predominantly African American communities. Lack of access to mainstream financial services makes it difficult for African American’s to accumulate savings. 

According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities the wealth gap is wider than the income gap but because incomes are easier to tax the income gap gets more traction in political discussions.

Let’s first differentiate between the terms income gap and wealth gap. Income gap refers to the gap in earnings between two groups such as the rich and the poor. The wealth gap however is about assets and net worth rather than just income. There’s also the racial income gap and the gender income gap but the bottom line is that the income gap has grown in the United States since the 1970’s.

The Mckinsey study mentioned above also states that expensive financial services such as check cashing counters are more prevalent in the absence of banks in minority neighborhoods. The report found that increasing access to basic banking services like checking and savings accounts could save black Americans up to $40,000 over their lifetime.

Jason Wright the co-author of the Mckinsey study told Newsweek,

“”The key thing to remember is there is a knock-on effect as spending power leads to greater demand and new development, which creates a virtuous cycle. In this way, closing the wealth gap for Black Americans, positively impacts the wider U.S. economy too,”. He added “The $1.5 trillion investment represents the increased economic activity that we estimate will be manifested in housing, capital market investment and consumption.”

The topic of institutionalized racism, which is a form of racism structured into political and social institutions, comes up often in these discussions. Some claim that the growing racial wealth gap is strongly influenced by discrimination in institutions against minorities whether deliberate or unintentional and that in turn, limits the rights of minorities.

Others cite events such as the Civil Rights Movement in the 1950’s and 60’s, and laws such as the 14th Amendment, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Equal Credit Opportunities Act of 1974 along with legal cases such as Brown v. Board of Education as proof that racial inequality and institutional racism no longer exists in America.

In a 2017 article written by Nicki Lisa Cole, Ph.D., titled The Racial Wealth Gap, Cole stated

“Today’s racial wealth gap can be traced all the way back to the enslavement of Africans and their descendants; the genocide of Native Americans and theft of their land and resources; and the enslavement of Indigenous Central and South Americans, and theft of their land and resources throughout the colonial and post-colonial periods. It was and is fueled by workplace discrimination and racial pay gaps and unequal access to education, among many other factors. So, throughout history, white people in the U.S. have been unjustly enriched by systemic racism while people of color have been unjustly impoverished by it. This unequal and unjust pattern continues today, and per the data, seems only destined to worsen unless race-consciousness policies intervene to make change.”

I reached out to Margaret Kimberley, Editor and Senior Columnist, Black Agenda Report for a comment and she stated

“Lack of financial services is just one indicator of racism and of the neo-liberal effort to make life as insecure as possible for as many people as possible. In fact, the ultimate goal is to displace black communities. There is no need for banks if black people are dispersed from the cities altogether.”

Under the cover of anonymity, S.H. a banker in New Jersey shared an entirely different perspective. S.H. stated,

“It’s not true that African American communities have less access to mainstream banks. One of the large banking establishments that I worked for had a few offices in primarily black communities. I served in two of their locations and saw firsthand that the main issues were financial habits that were influenced by education and culture. I never witnessed institutional racism or racial discrimination from bank management towards clients. I had African American clients with diverse socioeconomic status, and I noticed that the ones below the poverty line often didn’t want a paper trail, they would cash their social security or disability checks and take the money home rather than keep it in a checking or savings account.” S.H. re-emphasized, “Accessibility to banks is not a big driving factor for the racial wealth gap, other factors play a bigger role, but Democrats like to use this talking point to further their political agendas.”

Catherine Ruetschlin, senior policy analyst for Demos and co-author of a report titled The Racial Wage Gap Why Policy Matters has stated that

“increasing inequality is a source of increasing volatility, and wealth inequality means, when the economy hits a volatile patch, people don’t have the resources to withstand those shocks.” “That, in turn, makes the economy more volatile”, she added.

As the popular saying goes “when white folks catch a cold, black folks get pneumonia” in other words, when times are tough, the people with the lowest financial reserves suffer the most. Most Americans would agree that a racial wealth gap does exist, however, there’s some disagreement surrounding the main contributing factors and what can be done to decrease the disparity. Expect to hear more and more about this topic from politicians as we get closer to the next presidential election.

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This article was originally published on InfoBrics.

Sarah Abed is an independent journalist and political commentator. For media inquiries please email [email protected]

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A bipartisan US bill currently being considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee puts at stake the ability of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) to engage diplomatic and legal channels to support Palestinian national aspirations and to seek accountability through international mechanisms, as well as the future of the US-Palestinian bilateral relationship. 

The Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019, Senate Bill 2132, revises the Anti-Terrorism Clarification Act (ATCA) so that the PLO and the Palestinian Authority (PA) may be made to pay over $655 million in damage claims to American victims of political violence in Israel that had previously been dismissed by the 2nd Circuit Court of Appeals in 2016. The bill goes well beyond an attempt to obtain compensation for victims’ families. If the bill is successful, the US would revert to treating the PLO as a mere terrorist organization without national representative character.

What is ATCA and Why Did it Need to be “Fixed”?

ATCA, which became law in October 2018, enables American citizens to sue foreign entities for acts of terrorism occurring before the effective date of the Act if those entities accept US assistance. ATCA was a response to the failed attempt by the Shurat HaDin – Israel Law Center to hold the PA and PLO liable in US courts for the deaths of American citizens killed between 2002 and 2004 during the Second Intifada. A lower court had awarded over $655 million to 11 US families; however, the 2nd Circuit Court ordered the claims dismissed on the grounds that the attacks took place entirely outside US territory without evidence that Americans were specifically targeted. The Supreme Court denied Shurat HaDin’s request for review of the appellate decision.

Iowa Republican Senator Chuck Grassley fast-tracked ATCA without debate by using a process known as “hotlining.” Under normal circumstances, members of the Senate Judiciary Committee would have had time to analyze the legislation and foresee how it would force the PA to reject all US aid, including funds for Israeli-Palestinian security cooperation. Grassley’s procedural stratagem of pushing ATCA through the Judiciary Committee, at a time when members were preoccupied with the confirmation hearing of Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh, precluded careful consideration of the ramifications. The need to “fix” ATCA became clear to Congress when the Palestinian prime minister sent a letter to the US secretary of state refusing to accept any future US assistance.

How the ATCA “Fix” is a Game Changer 

The Promoting Security and Justice for Victims of Terrorism Act of 2019 amends ATCA by allowing the PA to accept security assistance without triggering jurisdiction for terrorism-related claims. However, it introduces new avenues for the PLO and PA to be held liable: If the PLO continues to hold state status in UN agencies and bodies or at the International Criminal Court (ICC), or if PLO or PA officials enter the US on official business or maintain offices on US territory, then the previously dismissed damage claims will become due and future claims may be heard in US courts. The operation of Palestine’s mission to the UN in New York is excepted to the extent official UN business is being carried out; no other advocacy on behalf of Palestine or Palestinians may be conducted in the US.

A more limited bill passed in the House of Representatives in July 2019 that also seeks to amend ATCA to ensure victims’ compensation for terrorism claims: The United States-Israel Cooperation Enhancement and Regional Security Act. This bill links jurisdiction to whether the PLO advances an application for membership in the UN or reopens an office on US territory. The different House and Senate amendments to ATCA will have to be reconciled.

If the Senate version of the ATCA fix becomes law, the PLO and PA will have to make a choice:

  • Maintain their status at the UN and be held liable for previously dismissed terrorism claims, or
  • Downgrade their status at the UN, forgo pursuit of war crimes claims against Israelis by withdrawing from the Rome Statute, the treaty establishing the ICC, and resume receiving US security assistance.

In the former case, the PA will bankrupt itself and the US will treat the PLO as nothing more than a terrorist organization. In the latter case, the PLO will have relinquished any pretense that it can effectively represent the rights and interests of the Palestinian people. Either case means the end of a Palestinian negotiating partner for any future peace talks.

Upholding Palestinian Rights to Representation 

While many Republicans may have just this outcome in mind, Democrats, who still claim to support the two-state solution, may not understand the implications of the ATCA fix, just as they failed to understand the impact of ATCA in the first place.

Moreover, with all the focus on the anti- and pro-boycott resolutions in the House, many Palestinians and those in the solidarity community may not fully appreciate how the international delegitimization or bankrupting of the PLO – the body still recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people – could impact their human rights advocacy in the US and globally. Whatever one’s views about the PLO or PA, no longer having an address for the national aspirations of the Palestinian people will make international and US advocacy much more difficult.

Palestinians and those interested in a just peace should alert members of Congress to the impact of the Senate bill on the future of US-Palestinian bilateral relations and the possibility of finding a diplomatic resolution to the Palestine-Israel conflict. The Palestinian quest for self-determination and accountability for victims of war crimes should not be undermined to score short-term domestic political points that will have far-reaching implications for Mideast peace.

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Al-Shabaka Policy Member Zaha Hassan is a human rights lawyer and visiting fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her research focuses on Palestine-Israel peace, the use of international legal mechanisms by political movements, and U.S. foreign policy in the region.

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Statehood Questioned at Hawaii’s 60th Anniversary

August 16th, 2019 by Kioni Dudley

August 16, 2019, marks the 60th Anniversary of Statehood for Hawai’i.  It will go little noticed.   This article offers new information on illegalities and fraudulence regarding the statehood vote, and why it should not have been accepted by the United Nations. 

In 1945, the United States, as a founding member of the United Nations, accepted all U.N. Charter obligations.  As a nation with Territories, under Article 73 of the Charter, it took on, “as a sacred trust, the obligation to. . . develop self-government” for the descendants of the nations it had occupied.  The U.S. did this for some territories.  But in Hawaii, it did just the opposite.  Our people achieving “the full measure of self-governance” was never mentioned.   The statehood vote offered only movement from a U.S. Territory to a U.S. state.  Total absorption rather than required liberation. 

The ballot wording was bogus.  U.N. Resolution 742 (VIII), adopted in 1953, required that plebiscites offer “freedom of choosing between several possibilities, including independence.”  The wording of the statehood ballot question was: “Shall Hawaii immediately be admitted into the Union as a State?”  The only possible answers were “Yes” and “No.”  No option for independence was provided.  The vote did not comply with the Charter or Resolution 742.

The UN Charter expects only the citizens of the occupied nation—in our case the descendants of Hawaiian Kingdom subjects–will make decisions regarding their self-governance.   During the 61 years that Hawaii was a Territory, however, there was a huge in-migration of American settlers, as well as transient U.S. military personnel and their dependents.  The 1900 census shows 2,900 Caucasians living in the islands.  In 1959, it had ballooned to 202,230.   Any American citizen 20 years or older who had lived in Hawaii for at least a year was allowed to vote, even U.S. military.  And they did.  Thus, the wrong people voted.   

During the Territory era, the United States made tremendous efforts to inculcate belief in a virtuous America.  During those six decades, schools assiduously avoided any mention of the U.S. invasion, overthrow, and takeover of the Hawaiian Kingdom…or the skirting of the Constitution to achieve Annexation.   A valid referendum requires that voters give informed consent.  But decades of US hiding the facts made informed consent impossible.   Had statehood voters known the truth. . . .

The official report states that 94% of voters supported statehood, but the facts are quite different.   The 94% only counts the Yes and No votes cast.  When blank ballots are included, only 77% of those who voted actually voted for statehood.  But even more shocking is the fact that, in the most important election ever held in Hawai’i, only 35% of those of eligible age actually registered and turned up at the polls.  Sixty-five percent “voted with their feet” against statehood by staying home.  When the blank votes and “votes with their feet” are factored in, only 27% of eligible voters cast a ‘Yes’ vote at the polls, far below the 50% required to win.

America knew that the UN would soon pass its “Declaration on the Granting of Independence to Colonized Countries and Peoples.”  Great pressure would mount to liberate Hawai’i.  The statehood vote was a sham to quickly secure United Nations approval for US permanent retention of Hawaii–just twelve months and two days before the Declaration was passed.

We three authors recently wrote “A Call for Review of the Historical Facts Surrounding UNGA Resolution 1469 (xiv) of 1959 Which Recognized Attainment of Self-Government for Hawaii.”  It amplifies the facts above and is currently being disseminated at the United Nations and to the public.  Please read it and add your name in endorsement at www.RestoringTheHawaiianNation.com.  Also find information there about the Hawaii National Transitional Authority, and a Resolution for the State of Hawaii to recognize Hawaiian Nationals as a people living in the Hawaiian Islands with all the lawful rights of a free people.  

It’s time to show support.

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Kioni Dudley, Ph.D., educator,  Hawaiian scholar, co-author A Call for Hawaiian Sovereignty, activist.

Leon Kaulahao Siu has served as the U.N. Hawaiian Kingdom Minister of Foreign Affairs for the past 20 years

Poka Laenui, Attorney, Chair – Native Hawaiian Convention, Spokesperson to UN (1983 to 1990), Office of Hawaiian Affairs Trustee (1982 – 1986)

Outdated rolling-stock, primitive or no air-conditioning, poor service, unreliable timetables and sky-high fares make Britain’s railways the bad joke of Europe.

As millions of commuters are forced to use a rail system near to collapse, it serves a stark warning of the dangers of privatising vital utility services in a bid by Conservative governments to further enrich a handful of businessmen and political funders at the expense of millions of rail travellers.

Throughout Europe, national rail systems are invariably state-owned and run.

The Société Nationale des Chemins de Fer Français (SNCF), is the national state-owned railway company of France. Founded in 1938, it operates the country’s national rail traffic along with Monaco, including the TGV, France’s high-speed rail network. Its functions include operation of railway services for passengers and freight, and maintenance and signalling of rail infrastructure. The railway network consists of about 32,000 km (20,000 mi) of route, of which 1,800 km (1,100 mi) are high-speed lines and 14,500 km (9,000 mi) electrified. About 14,000 trains are operated daily.

Today, the SNCF operates 1,850 km (1,150 mi) of designated high-speed track that accommodate more than 800 high-speed services per day. SNCF’s TGV trains carry more than 100 million passengers a year and TGV lines and technology are now spread across several European countries.

In Germany, Deutsche Bahn AG is owned 100% by the Federal Republic of Germany. DB is the largest railway operator and infrastructure owner in Europe. It carries about two billion passengers each year and employs over 300,000 people.

The DB group is divided into a large number of companies, including DB Fernverkehr (long-distance passenger), DB Regio (local passenger services) and DB Cargo (rail freight). The Group subsidiary DB Netz also operates large parts of the German railway infrastructure and thus the largest rail network in Europe.

Only in the United Kingdom, are millions of commuters forced to pay inflated fares for a rail service stuck in the 1950s with dilapidated trains managed by grossly inefficient private operators.  It is a national disgrace that is now under the control of an inappropriate Transport Minister, a former web and print marketeer with no knowledge whatsoever of transport systems who was obliged to stand down from a previous ministerial position due to allegations of bullying.

The future for rail travellers in Britain looks bleak indeed until this government is replaced and Britain’s railways are brought back into 100% public ownership, modernised, financed and run efficiently by professionals, as elsewhere throughout Europe.

The reality is that many rail investors have become richer as rail transport services in Britain have become measurably more and more inefficient. And that is completely unacceptable in the world’s fifth largest economy with a population of 67 million.

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Hans Stehling (pen name) is an analyst based in the UK. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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I thought I knew what it meant, but I looked up the definition of insanity anyway:  mentally deranged, not of sound mind; irrational [Concise Oxford Dictionary].  That is a rather broad spectrum and on more reflection includes not only Trump and his minions, but everyone else of us at least one time or another – including myself.

Irrational

How often in an argument do you hear the rhetorical question,”Are you insane?”, referring to any number of topics within human endeavors.  If “irrational” is the means by which most of us are to be judged sane or insane, then yes, we are insane due to irrational behaviour probably on a daily basis.

The reasoning is complicated by our own self definition as being homo sapiens (“wise man”), an anthropomorphic self aggrandizing, ego centered definition.  Going deeper into complications, our genetic heritage often times rewards actions that to a ‘civilized’ and ‘cultured’ homo sapien is intellectually offensive but carries great genetic weight.  Gene survival does not care much about philosophies of this or that, the gene is selfish and simply wants to be reproduced.

Given our ability to “rationalize” our own positions on different actions and ideas, anything else can be considered irrational while our own ideas assume (presume) the proper explanation, the supposedly logical explanation, as rational.  But we are fully capable of ignoring ideas – indeed reality – in order to allow our internal rationalizations to fit into  – mostly –  whatever our current lifestyle values are.

Examples species wide

A lot of what homo sapiens do is irrational but is so much ingrained into our upbringing, our culture that it is almost not evident to many, it is just normal, and that normal is used to then define or place parameters around what is irrational or rational, sane or insane.  Our daily lives are filled with ‘normal’,  but strictly speaking, irrational actions.

Living in debt is one example.  Yes, in our society debt is normal and is indeed promoted and we all use credit cards or carry loans of one kind or another.  The result is to make the rich richer and the rest of us paying their bills (in basic terms).  But as a society as a whole we (the western world specifically, but also including China as our main economic Asian partner) are many trillions of dollars in debt – with possible quadrillions according to some – in strange derivative financialized devices that simply breed more money and power to the banksters and money changers.

On a more personal level, U.S. student debt is somewhere around 1.2 trillion dollars, about the same as the known military budget, itself the largest by far in the world.  Auto debt matches that while overall personal debt (these loans plus credit cards plus mortgages) comes in over 13 trillion (2017, Investopedia).  On top of this again is government debt of over 22 trillion which can only be paid off with hyperinflation or destroyed in a major recession/depression.

Violence – rational or irrational

Homo sapiens have always used violence in order to maintain the species, it is pretty much a built in biological imperative.  However, if we are supposedly truly sapient, and our rational brains are truly rational and not used just for ‘rationalizing’ a preset disposition or belief, then certainly we should be able to overcome these tendencies.  Given also that we are overpopulating the planet and overconsuming it the biological imperative for more of us, for more people, more growth, lessens considerably – we need to recognize our limits and realize that our own biology is working against us.

Perhaps that would not be so bad if we were not so technologically capable (again by our own definition) having created an array of weapons that enable mass killings from what we have recently witnessed in the U.S. – or done by the U.S. elsewhere – to the potential of simply eliminating the whole species and most of the rest of the living world as a result of a nuclear war.

Rational?  Some in the U.S. believe so – Trump seems to think starting a nuclear war is okay; his infamous sidekick Bolton is all for nuking other countries that do not fall into line with U.S. policy demands, Iran in particular; Pompeo and his born again evangelical peers would be quite happy to have a nuclear war as a sign of the end times and his personal rapture, his ‘twinkling’, to be in heaven.    By their definitions, much of this is rational.  For the rest of humanity, it is simply a death sentence.

While we have for the last 70 years existed on the edge of this abyss, humans have continued in many different ways to destroy both themselves and the only environment we have that is capable of supporting them.

Societal psychosis

The U.S. is a country born of violence, racial hatred, mysogeny, slavery, bigotry, greed, and corruption.  It has a rather savage history covered over with many rationalizations, self serving platitudes, and a media system that inculcates the idea of an indispensable nation beholden to none, better than all, and necessary for global ‘peace’.  It is evident that peace in those terms is a concept which when examined logically reduces down to a large military force,  large subversive service forces, and a global financial/corporate setup – the “Washington consensus” – that allows no deviance from supporting the U.S. petrodollar.

In a reality check, the U.S. essentially suffers from a mass psychosis.

It worships its military,  its warriors – although not enough to keep the veterans healthy and alive.  The military personnel are honoured at football games, in schools, on American Idol and the Voice.  It venerates the idea of “rugged individualism” as exemplified in the writings of Ayn Rand, many Hollywood movies, and many political and business figures.  But the rugged individual rides on the backs of others without caring about others and their fortunes or misfortunes.  The veneration is a lie.

Mass murders are commonplace, creating a momentary weeping and wailing and moaning and gnashing of teeth before it becomes business as usual in a week or two as the media moves on to more current newsworthy events.  But the psychosis, the paranoia, the fear runs deep and continues on.  When a motorcycle backfires in New York’s Times Square, people run in fearful panic.  A shelf falls over in a department store and the customers panic thinking they heard gunshots.  School backpacks with bullet protection are selling for school kids (but don’t look up “bulletproof” on Amazon, all you will get is product line of supposed health products as the other pages have been removed).

Life is lived as a consumer.  It is lived as an automobile.  It is lived in vapid entertainments and diversions supporting ignorance of others and the environment.  Life is lived for the short term, for the daily, weekly or quarterly gain, while the months and years after will somehow take care of themselves.

From its history, from its cultural development, U.S. society – and indeed much of western society – is based on violence of one form or another.  It is no surprise as economic and environmental conditions worsen, as the military is spread globally to use its violence on other peoples of the world, that violence will become the norm domestically.

Voices in the wilderness

Donald Trump is the real life personification of all the irrational violence of U.S. and western culture.  He exposes in his crudeness, megalomania, and outright narcissism the ugly truth about U.S. power both domestically and internationally.  Others have worked with it, softened its image, but none have ever simply left it all open for display as Trump is doing.

In a sense, our society is still very much a wilderness, even wilder and more deadly in some respects than when our ancestors had to survive in a more natural environment without all our modern technology.  There is both hope and despair in this wilderness.

The despair is obvious, but there are many doing their best to counter the hatred and violence even while immersed in the range of what is ‘normal’ for this society.  Very few of them have much if any real power, unless they can convince masses of people to some form of revolutionary action to change the way society works. Up against state violence, state tolerated violence, violent representations of national and international norms, up against the ignorance built into the system, up against a rising reactionary right wing fascism, the challenge for change is very large.

One way or another change will come.  I give my strongest regard to those challenging the system, those in the front lines against the system, people like Julian Assange, Chris Hedges, Chelsea Manning, John Pilger, Pepe Escobar, Andre Vltchek, Max Blumenthal, Ramzy Baroud, Ilan Pappe, Yves Engler, Abby Martin, Robert Fisk  and many many others who work consistently towards the goal of removing the layers of ignorance imposed by corporations, governments, and mainstream media.  More power to their writings and actions, hoping that society will wake up to its ills before it succumbs to them.

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Jim Miles is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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Supported by both hawkish wings of its war party, the US is waging hot wars, cold wars, economic wars, financial wars, trade wars, anti-social justice wars, anti-human rights wars, anti-democracy wars, propaganda wars, sanctions wars, tariffs wars, protest wars, homeland wars, and environmental wars on multiple fronts worldwide — ordinary people everywhere the losers.

During decades of Cold War years, the US got along with Soviet Russia, even if uneasily at times. Nixon went to China. Relations today with both countries and many others are more dismal and dangerous than any previous time in the post-WW II period.

New wars could erupt without warning. The threat of possible nuclear war is ominously real by accident or design.

The land of opportunity I remember as a youth is now consumed by its hubris, arrogance, rage to colonize planet earth, control its resources and exploit it people.

New Deal, Fair Deal, Great Society years I grew up in were replaced by neoliberal harshness, endless wars on humanity at home and abroad, a growing wealth disparity exceeding the robber baron years, along with mass unemployment and underemployment, growing homelessness, hunger, and poverty, as well as a ruling class dismissive of the public welfare.

Current US leadership is militantly hawkish and anti-populist, led by a racist geopolitical/economic know-nothing/reality TV president.

Dark forces run things, headquartered on Wall Street and in corporate boardrooms, the rule of law replaced by police state governance, a free and open society by mass surveillance and growing totalitarianism.

Challenging authority disruptively with collective activism when vitally needed is absent.

The US reached peak power, prominence, influence, and leadership on the world stage following WW II, the only major nation left unscathed by its ravages.

Its preemptive war of aggression on nonbelligerent North Korea, a nation threatening no one, started its downward trajectory.

Today it’s a nation in decline while China, Russia and other countries are rising. It spends countless trillions of dollars for militarism and warmaking against invented enemies. No real ones exist.

Its preeminence as a military super-power was overtaken by Russia, China heading toward becoming the world’s leading economic power one day, multi-world polarity replacing unipolarity the US favors to dominate other nations.

Its rage for maintaining a global empire of bases as platforms for endless wars of aggression came at the expense of eroding social justice on the chopping block for elimination altogether.

The myth of American exceptionalism, the indispensable state, an illusory moral superiority, and military supremacy persist despite hard evidence debunking these notions.

Democracy in America is fiction, not fact, a system of governance its ruling class abhors, tolerating it nowhere, nations like Venezuela targeted to replace it with fascist rule.

The US is plagued by the same dynamic that doomed all other empires in history.

It’s an increasingly repressive/secretive/intrusive warrior state, spreading death, destruction and human misery worldwide.

It exploits ordinary people to serve privileged interests — a pariah state/declining power because of its unwillingness to change.

Its war machine never rests. Its criminal class is bipartisan. Its governance meets the definition of fascism — wrapped in the American flag.

It’s a corporate/political partnership over the rights and welfare of ordinary people, exploiting them for power and profits — at home and abroad.

It’s way too late for scattered reforms. The American way is too debauched to fix.

Nothing short of revolutionary change can work. Yet there’s not a hint of it in prospect because of a know-nothing populace distracted and controlled by bread, circuses, and the power of state-approved/media disseminated propaganda.

A decade ago, the late Doug Dowd said “(t)he world now stands on a cliff’s edge.”

He envisioned “four related groups of horrors: existing and likely wars, a fragile world economy, pervasive and deepening corruption, and the earth dangerously near the ‘tipping point’ of environmental disaster.”

It’s not a pretty picture, things worse now than years earlier.

A permanent state of war exists with no prospect for peace in our time — while freedom in the US and West erode toward disappearing altogether the way things are heading.

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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.

Sanctions are economic warfare, pure and simple. As an alternative to a direct military attack on a country that is deemed to be misbehaving they are certainly preferable, but no one should be under any illusions regarding what they actually represent. They are war by other means and they are also illegal unless authorized by a supra-national authority like the United Nations Security Council, which was set up after World War II to create a framework that inter alia would enable putting pressure on a rogue regime without going to war. At least that was the idea, but the sanctions regimes recently put in place unilaterally and without any international authority by the United States have had a remarkable tendency to escalate several conflicts rather than providing the type of pressure that would lead to some kind of agreement.

The most dangerous bit of theater involving sanctions initiated by the Trump administration continues to focus on Iran. Last week, the White House elevated its extreme pressure on the Iranians by engaging in a completely irrational sanctioning of Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. The sanctions will have no effect whatsoever and they completely contradict Donald Trump’s repeated assertion that he is seeking diplomacy to resolving the conflict with Iran. One doesn’t accomplish that by sanctioning the opposition’s Foreign Minister. Also, the Iranians have received the message loud and clear that the threats coming from Washington have nothing to do with nuclear programs. The White House began its sanctions regime over a year ago when it withdrew from the JCPOA and they have been steadily increasing since that time even though Iran has continued to be fully compliant with the agreement. Recently, the US took the unprecedented step of sanctioning the entire Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, which is part of the nation’s military.

American Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has made clear that the sanctions on Iran are intended to cause real pain, which, in fact, they have succeeded in doing. Pompeo and his accomplice in crime National Security Advisor John Bolton believe that enough pressure will motivate the starving people to rise up in the streets and overthrow the government, an unlikely prospect as the American hostility has in fact increased popular support for the regime.

To be sure, ordinary people in Iran have found that they cannot obtain medicine and some types of food are in short supply but they are not about to rebel. The sanctioning in May of Iranian oil exports has only been partially effective but it has made the economy shrink, with workers losing jobs. The sanctions have also led to tit-for-tat seizures of oil and gas tankers, starting with the British interception of a ship carrying Iranian oil to Syria in early July.

Another bizarre escalation in sanctions that has taken place lately relates to the Skripal case in Britain. On August 2nd, Donald Trump signed an executive order imposing a package of new sanctions against Moscow over the alleged poisoning of former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter in England in March 2018. The order “prohibit[s] any United States bank from making any loan or providing any credit… except for loans or credits for the purpose of purchasing food or other agricultural commodities or products.” The ban also includes “the extension of any loan or financial or technical assistance… by international financial institutions,” meaning that international lenders will also be punished if they fail to follow Washington’s lead.

The sanctions were imposed under the authority provided by the US Chemical and Biological Weapons Control and Warfare Elimination Act adopted in 1991, which imposes penalties for use of chemical weapons. Novichok, which was reportedly used on the Skripals, is a chemical weapon developed in the labs of the Soviet Union, though a number of states are believed to currently have supplies of the agent in their arsenals. Russia can appeal the sanctions with 90 days by providing “reliable assurance” that it will not again use chemical weapons.

Russia has strenuously denied any role in the attack on the Skripals and the evidence that has so far been produced to substantiate the Kremlin’s involvement has been less than convincing. An initial package of US-imposed sanctions against Russia that includes the export of sensitive technologies and some financial services was implemented in August 2018.

Venezuela is also under the sanctions gun and is a perfect example how sanctions can escalate into something more punitive, leading incrementally to an actual state of war. Last week Washington expanded its sanctions regime, which is already causing starvation in parts of Venezuela, to include what amounts to a complete economic embargo directed against the Maduro regime that is being enforced by a naval blockade.

The Venezuelan government announced last Wednesday that the United States Navy had seized a cargo ship bound for Venezuela while it was transiting the Panama Canal. According to a government spokesman, the ship’s cargo was soy cakes intended for the production of food. As one of Washington’s raisons d’etre for imposing sanctions on Caracas was that government incompetence was starving the Venezuelan people, the move to aggravate that starvation would appear to be somewhat capricious and revealing of the fact that the White House could care less about what happens to the Venezuelan civilians who are caught up in the conflict.

Venezuelan Vice President Delcy Rodriguez condemned the move as “serious aggression,” and accused the Trump Administration of trying to impede Venezuela’s basic right to import food to feed its people.

One of the most pernicious aspects of the sanctions regimes that the United States is imposing is that they are global. When Washington puts someone on its sanctions list, other countries that do not comply with the demands being made are also subject to punishment, referred to as secondary sanctions. The sanctions on Iran’s oil exports, for example, are being globally enforced with some few exceptions, and any country that buys Iranian oil will be punished by being denied access to the US financial and banking system. That is a serious penalty as most international trade and business transactions go through the dollar denominated SWIFT banking network.

Finally, nothing illustrates the absurdity of the sanctions mania as a recent report that President Trump had sent his official hostage negotiator Robert O’Brien to Stockholm to obtain freedom for an American rap musician ASAP Rocky who was in jail after having gotten into a fight with some local boys. The Trumpster did not actually know the lad, but he was vouched for by the likes of Kim Kardashian and Kanye West, both of whom have had nice things to say about the president. The negotiator was instructed to tell Sweden that if they did not release Rocky there would be “negative consequences.” Who can doubt that the consequences would undoubtedly have included sanctions?

It has reached the point where the only country that likes the United States is Israel, which is locked into a similar cycle of incessant aggression. To be sure Donald Trump’s rhetoric is part of the problem, but the indiscriminate, illegal and immoral use of sanctions, which punish whole nations for the presumed sins of those nations’ leaders, is a major contributing factor. And the real irony is that even though sanctions cause pain, they are ineffective. Cuba has been under sanctions, technically and embargo, since 1960 and its ruling regime has not collapsed, and there is no chance that Venezuela, Iran or Russia’s government will go away at any time soon either. In fact, real change would be more likely if Washington were to sit down at a negotiating table with countries that it considers enemies and work to find solutions to common concerns. But that is not likely to happen with the current White House line-up, and equally distant with a Democratic Party obsessed with the “Russian threat” and other fables employed to explain its own failings.

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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 National Interest. Other articles by Giraldi can be found on the website of the Unz Review. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Russia and China, two of the most important Great Powers that are jointly working to accelerate the emergence of the Multipolar World Order, are on totally opposite sides when it comes to Kashmir, with their differing stances being explained by the existential stakes that they each see in supporting their South Asian partner of choice.

Two Sides To Every Coin

It’s official — Russia and China are on totally opposite sides when it comes to Kashmir. There was some serious confusion last weekend about Russia’s stance towards the issue when Indian media misreported the context in which Moscow’s statement on the disputed territory was made, making many wonder whether the news was fake and represented India’s third infowar against Russia. It’s since been confirmed by news.ru, one of Russia’s most reliable media outlets, that the statement in question was indeed issued by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs’ Press and Information Department, and Foreign Minister Lavrov left no ambiguity about his country’s position when he told his Pakistani counterpart earlier this week that “there is no alternative to ironing out the differences between Pakistan and India on a bilateral basis by political and diplomatic means.” China, on the other hand, strongly supports its “iron brothers” in Pakistan, even going as far as planning to take the problem up at the UNSC this Friday in a closed door session, proving that the two most important Great Powers that are jointly working to accelerate the emergence of the Multipolar World Order are sharply divided over this issue.

India’s “Geopolitical Blackmail” On Russia

Their contradictory approaches are explained by the existential stakes that they each see in supporting their South Asian partner of choice. The Russian budget hasn’t diversified as quickly as the general economy has and is still significantly dependent on arms and resource (energy and mineral) exports, of which military-technical cooperation with India is still a huge part. Russia’s military exports to India fell by 42% in the last decade after its partner decisively “diversified” with “Israeli”, American, and French imports instead, and the raft of multibilliondollar deals that were recently clinched this year could potentially be lost if Moscow goes against New Delhi since its “partner” could blackmail it by threatening to replace them with its competitors’ wares instead. Right now Russia is in the midst of a systemic economic transition through the “Great Society”/“National Development Projects” that are expected to be completed by the end of President Putin’s final term of office in 2024, so it’s very dependent on that income to help finance these initiatives, thus making it vulnerable to such “geopolitical blackmail” during this sensitive period.

Pakistan’s Pivotal Importance To China

As for China, the flagship project of its global Belt & Road Initiative (BRI) is the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), which transits through northern Pakistani territory that India claims as its own per its maximalist approach to the Kashmir Conflict. CPEC has enabled Pakistan to become the global pivot state because of its irreplaceable role in safeguarding China’s strategic security by serving as Beijing’s only reliable non-Malacca access route to the Afro-Asian (“Indian”) Ocean, which in turn neutralizes the “containment” efforts of the US Navy in Southeast Asia and the South China Sea. Speaking of “containment”, the US tacitly regards India as the only mainland Asian power capable of carrying out this task on its “Lead From Behind” behalf, which therefore puts Indian Home Minister Amit Shah’s recent threatening remark in an entirely new light. The official thundered that “Kashmir is an integral part of India, there is no doubt over it. When I talk about Jammu and Kashmir, Pakistan occupied Kashmir and Aksai Chin are included in it and can die for it”, which signaled the most hostile of intentions towards the People’s Republic that administers Aksai Chin.

 Domestic Economics vs. Global Geopolitics

When comparing the reasons for Russia and China’s differing stances towards Kashmir, it can therefore be clearly seen that Moscow’s are motivated by domestic economic considerations that surprisingly trump the “balancing” vision behind its recent “Return to South Asia” whereas Beijing’s are driven by geopolitical ones related to the New Silk Road and its territorial integrity. Unlike what the Alt-Media Community might wishfully think, these strategically partnered Great Powers are incapable of finding common ground on this issue, let alone in compelling their partner of choice to “moderate” their respective positions towards a speculative “compromise”, which neither of the South Asian parties is willing to do (nor do Moscow and Beijing have the leverage to force them to either even if those two wanted). Having said that, and in spite of the enormous stakes involved, Russian-Chinese relations will still remain strategic and won’t be damaged by this disagreement, though the working efficacy of the multilateral platforms that they participate in (BRICS and the SCO) might suffer if this incident results in a loss of trust by either side.

Not-So-Secret Discussions Behind Closed Doors

It’s precisely because of how extremely sensitive this is that China requested a closed door session at the UNSC. Beijing knows that the optics of it and Moscow strongly disagreeing with one another are a political fantasy come true for the West, so it wants to keep the Mainstream Media out of the discussion in order to prevent them from misportraying their potentially heated interactions in a provocative light. That said, it’s inevitable that the Western members of the UNSC will leak details about this event and likely exaggerate them as well, with Indian media gleefully picking up on what’s reported and spreading it around like wildfire in order to make it seem like these two multipolar partners are on the verge of another Sino-Russo split. Nothing of the sort is even remotely in the cards, but the infowar narrative thereof could have a powerful purpose in provoking reactionary members of the Alt-Media Community into turning against one another as they bifurcate into two separate camps. That scenario, however, will only toxify social media but won’t have any tangible effect on the course of International Relations, though the future emergence of more serious disputes between them might.

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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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Media coverage of Canadian foreign policy is uniquely one-sided and biased. It’s so bad that few readers, listeners or viewers will have ever seen or heard an honest analysis of this country’s past, let alone current role around the world.

A recent Maclean’s story titled “The long history of ‘go back to where you came from’ in Canada” illustrates how uniquely bad foreign policy coverage is.

The story demonstrates that it is permissible to detail the history of racist immigration policy, but can one imagine Maclean’s publishing a story headlined “the long history of Canada advancing Empire”? No major media outlet — or the National Observer, Tyee or Press Progress, for that matter — would highlight how every prime minister since Confederation has advanced violent, antidemocratic and pro-corporate international policies.

Don’t believe me? Here’s a brief summary:

  • John A McDonald helped recruit nearly four hundred Canadians to beat back anti-colonial resistance in the Sudan in 1884-85 and during his decades in power Canadians were trained to be officers in Britain’s conquest across Africa.
  • Wilfrid Laurier’s government oversaw the deployment of seven thousand Canadians to defend British imperial interests in what’s now South Africa.
  • Robert Borden dispatched 600,000 men to fight a war with no clear and compelling purpose other than rivalry between up-and-coming Germany and the lead imperial powers of the day, Britain and France. After World War I Borden sought to be compensated with Britain’s Caribbean colonies and publicly encouraged Canadian businessmen to buy up southern Mexico.
  • R. B. Bennett deployed two destroyers to assist a month-old military coup government’s brutal suppression of a peasant and Indigenous rebellion in El Salvador, which London thought might be a “danger to British banks, railways and other British lives and property” as well as a Canadian-owned utility. Bolstered by the Royal Canadian Navy’s presence, the military regime would commit “one of the worst massacres of civilians in the history of the Americas.”
  • William Lyon Mackenzie King was sympathetic to European fascism. His government criminalized Canadians who fought against Franco’s fascists in Spain while arming Japanese fascists. In September 1936 King wrote that Adolf Hitler “might come to be thought of as one of the saviours of the world.” After atomic bombs were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki Mackenzie King declared, “it gives me pleasure to announce that Canadian scientists played an important role, having been intimately connected, in an efficient manner, to this great scientific development.”
  • Louis St. Laurent’s government endorsed the Washington sponsored overthrow of popularly elected Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh and Guatemalan President Jacobo Arbenz. St. Laurent dispatched eight Canadian warships and 27,000 troops to fight in Korea. The US-led force massively expanded what was essentially a civil war, which ultimately left as many as four million dead.
  • John Diefenbaker blamed Fidel Castro for the CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion. His government also sent troops to undermine Congolese independence leader Patrice Lumumba who he labelled a “major threat to Western interests”.
  • Lester Pearson’s government played a part in the downfall of leading pan-Africanist Kwame Nkrumah and sent a vessel to support the US invasion of the Dominican Republic to stop a left-wing government from taking office. He staunchly defended the US war in Vietnam, which greatly benefited Canadian arms sellers. Pearson had Canadian International Control Commission officials deliver US bombing threats to the North Vietnamese leadership.
  • Pierre Trudeau was hostile to Salvador Allende’s elected government and did business with Augusto Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile. He embraced Indonesia’s occupation of East Timor and sympathized with South Africa’s apartheid regime not the black liberation movement or nascent Canadian solidarity groups.
  • Brian Mulroney “justified” the US invasion of Panama, which left 4,000 dead. He also backed US airstrikes on Libya that left 37 people dead and 93 wounded in a failed bid to kill Mohammed Gaddafi. His government deployed three naval vessels, 26 aircraft and 4,000 personnel to the Middle East in a war that killed 20,000 Iraqi troops and between 20,000 and 200,000 civilians.
  • Jean Chrétien deployed 18 fighter jets to NATO’s illegal 78-day bombing of Serbia, which left hundreds dead and hundreds of thousands displaced. He began Canada’s pointless war in Afghanistan and his government held a meeting to plan the overthrow of Haitian democracy.
  • Paul Martin ramped up the war in Afghanistan. He dispatched troops to overthrow president Jean Bertrand Aristide in Haiti and provided various forms of support to the post-coup regime responsible for thousands of deaths.
  • Stephen Harper supported Israel’s war on Lebanon and repeated onslaughts on Gaza. He had Canada head NATO’s bombing of Libya, which has led to eight years of civil war and greater instability in Africa’s Sahel region.
  • Justin Trudeau has armed Saudi Arabia, backed brutal mining companies, expanded NATO deployments, opposed Palestinian rights, refused to support nuclear weapons controls, deepened ties to repressive Middle East monarchies, supported Africa’s most ruthless dictator, propped up a corrupt, repressive and illegitimate Haitian president, tried to topple the Venezuelan government, etc.

Of course, the dominant media is skewed towards the outlook of their wealthy owners, corporate advertisers and power more generally on all matters. How the bias plays out depends on the issue and time. In recent years, for instance, there has been a marked increase of space devoted to discussing Canada’s genocidal dispossession of First Nations. But, even as Canada’s most fundamental injustice begins to receive dominant media attention it is still largely forbidden to present an overarching critique of foreign policy history. It’s acceptable to write about “The long history of ‘go back to where you came from’ in Canada” but not that “foreign policy has long advanced corporate interests and empire.”

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Synopsis

In this second edition of Michel Chossudovsky’s 2002 best seller, the author blows away the smokescreen put up by the mainstream media, that 9/11 was an attack on America by “Islamic terrorists”. Through meticulous research, the author uncovers a military-intelligence ploy behind the September 11 attacks, and the cover-up and complicity of key members of the Bush Administration.

The expanded edition, which includes twelve new chapters focuses on the use of 9/11 as a pretext for the invasion and illegal occupation of Iraq, the militarization of justice and law enforcement and the repeal of democracy.

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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. Globalization is the final march to the “New World Order”, dominated by Wall Street and the U.S. military-industrial complex.

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As Chossudovsky examines in this updated edition, often the programs of these international financial institutions go hand-in-hand with covert military and intelligence operations undertaken by powerful Western nations with an objective to destabilize, control, destroy and dominate nations and people, such as in the cases of Rwanda and Yugoslavia.

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In this expanded edition of Prof. Michel Chossudovsky’s international best-seller, the author outlines the contours of a New World Order which feeds on human poverty and the destruction of the environment, generates social apartheid, encourages racism and ethnic strife and undermines the rights of women. The result as his detailed examples from all parts of the world show so convincingly, is a globalization of poverty.

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Britain does not have a special relationship with the USA. It is, and has been since the end of the World War, a subservient inferior ‘partner’ doing what it is told. Britain stands next to the schoolyard thug and tries not to be a victim of it. Likewise, Britain acquiesces to Israel – as it is backed to the hilt by America.  This so-called special relationship with Israel is not challenged in the mainstream media because they all too well aware of the trouble they would cause for themselves. The antisemitism firestorm that engulfed Labour under Jeremy Corbyn is proof of that.

Reminding the public what Israel does to Palestine and its inhabitants can get a news outlet, be it mainstream or independent, into all sorts of trouble. Typically, this post will not be allowed to spread on social media, especially FB. Then there’s the social media response, which can be distressing, ‘blacklisting’ of the entire website and a never-ending stream of hacking attempts.

So here are some home truths in case you’ve forgotten some of the details.

Between March 30 and November 19 this year, security forces killed 189 Palestinian demonstrators, including 31 children and 3 medical workers, and wounded more than 5,800 with live fire. This live fire was through the use of military snipers – none of whom were facing any potential harm. In the same time period, one Israeli was killed by the Palestinian reaction.

The Independent Commission for Human Rights in Palestine (ICHR), a statutory commission charged with monitoring human rights compliance by the Palestinian authorities, received 180 complaints of arbitrary arrest, 173 complaints of torture and ill-treatment, and 209 complaints of administrative detention in 2018.

Since 1967, over 50,000 Palestinian children have been imprisoned by the Israeli authorities. To put even more context to this – On 11 December 2012, the office of the then Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad stated that since 1967, 800,000 Palestinians, or roughly 20% of the total population and 40% of the male population, had been imprisoned by Israel at one point in time.

On April 4th this year on Palestinian Child’s Day; 250 children were imprisoned by Israel and 11 were killed by army gunfire. Further evidence shows that since 2015, Israel has locked up 6,000 Palestinian children, many reported being tortured. Israeli snipers were given the go-ahead to kill children by sniper-fire in 2019.

Image on the right is from Trocaire

Over 1.5 million Palestinians, displaced due to the 1948 Arab-Israeli war, 1967 Six-Day War and Israeli occupation, live in Palestine refugee camps in Lebanon, Jordan, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank – and over half of the individuals in Gaza and 45.4 per cent of individuals in refugee camps live in subsistence poverty. Additionally, 33.8 per cent of Gazans and 29.3 per cent of those in Palestinian refugee camps live below the deep poverty line.

Since the year 2000, at least 117,184 Palestinians have been recorded injured by Israeli soldiers – that is well over 500 a month.

Israel is viewed as an apartheid state by its neighbours and genocidal by others.

And yet the British government continues with it’s slavish relationship to Israel given its appalling human rights record.

To help explain this special relationship, Mark Curtis, a British historian and journalist is a former Research Fellow at the Royal Institute of International Affairs (Chatham House) and has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Strathclyde. His research and analysis of Britain’s involvement in the Middle East is second to none. Here is his take on what the special relationship between Britain and Israel is all about. It was written two months ago and is quite up to date all bar the arrival of the Johnson government.

“Two reasons are clear in explaining the current British policy. One is commercial: arms exports and trade are increasingly profitable to British corporations. The other is that UK policy towards Israel is to a large degree determined in Washington and by London wanting to curry favour with the US and not challenge its closest ally.”

Diplomatic support

Theresa May says that Israel is “one of the world’s great success stories” and a “beacon of tolerance“. To Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson, Israel is a “light unto the nations” whose relationship with the UK “is underpinned by a shared sense of values: justice, compassion, tolerance”.

These gushing words translate into consistent British support for Israel internationally, helping to shield it from ostracism. Britain abstained on the recent UN vote to authorise an investigation into the Gaza killings because it would not also investigate Hamas; instead, the UK supports Israel carrying out its own inquiry.

Last year, the Foreign Office refused to sign a joint statement at the Paris peace conference on Palestine, accusing it of “taking place against the wishes of the Israelis”.

Arms supplies

Britain has approved arms sales to Israel worth $445m since the 2014 Gaza war and there is little doubt that some of this equipment has been used against people in the occupied territories. UK drone components are exported while Israel uses drones for surveillance and armed attacks.

The UK exports components for combat aircraft while Israel’s air force conducts air strikes in Gaza, causing civilian deaths and destruction of infrastructure. The government admits it has not assessed the impact of its arms exports to Israel on Palestinians.

This policy follows the knowledge that Israel promotes an “increasing pattern” of deliberately shooting Palestinian children and that Palestinians generally are “increasingly killed… with impunity” by Israel, as a 2015 Home Office report noted. Since 2000 Israel has killed nearly 5,000 Palestinians not taking part in hostilities, around one-third of whom are under 18.

Airforce

In May 2018, Israel became the first country to mount an air attack using the new generation F-35 stealth warplane, hitting targets in Syria. While F-35 production is led by US arms company Lockheed Martin, British industry is building 15 per cent of each F-35, involving companies such as BAE Systems and Rolls-Royce.

Nothing is allowed to interrupt the “very close defence cooperation” between Britain and Israel. British military pilots are even being trained by a company owned by Israel arms firm Elbit Systems.

Nuclear arms

Israel is believed to possess 80 to 100 nuclear warheads, some of which are deployed on its submarines. The UK is effectively aiding this nuclear deployment by supplying submarine components to Israel. According to the commander of Haifa naval base, General David Salamah, Israel’s submarines regularly operate “deep within enemy territory”.

Britain has a long history of helping Israel to develop nuclear weapons. In the 1950s and 1960s Conservative and Labour governments made hundreds of sales of nuclear materials to Israel, including plutonium and uranium.

The contrast with British policy towards Iran is striking. Former Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson stated that the UK is “adamant that a nuclear-armed Iran would never be acceptable” and thus maintains sanctions against Iran. At the same time, Britain refuses to adopt any sanctions against Israel, an actual nuclear state.

In 1995, the UK and other states agreed to a UN resolution to establish a nuclear-weapons-free zone in the Middle East. It is not known whether Britain has ever seriously pressed Israel on this.

Navy

This week (June 5th) British and Spanish warships, part of NATO’s forces, docked in Israel’s Haifa port to conduct a joint NATO-Israel naval exercise. This follows naval exercises between Britain and Israel in December 2017 and November 2016. Through its blockade, the Israeli navy restricts Palestinians’ fishing rights, even firing on local fishermen.

The blockade of Gaza is widely regarded as illegal, including by senior UN officials, a UN independent panel of experts and Amnesty International, partly since it inflicts “collective punishment” on an entire population. Britain is failing to uphold its obligation “to ensure compliance by Israel with international humanitarian law”.

Intelligence

Little is known of the intelligence relationship between the UK and Israel. There have been differences such as in 1986 when prime minister Margaret Thatcher ordered a freeze in relations with Mossad after a female Israeli agent lured Mordechai Vanunu, who was trying to reveal Israel’s nuclear secrets, to Rome where he was kidnapped.

Former MI6 director Sir Richard Dearlove recently said that British intelligence did not always share information with Israel “because we could never guarantee how the intelligence might or would be used”. But the Telegraph reports that the relationship between MI6 and Mossad has become closer in recent years with both concerned about nuclear proliferation in Iran.

The director of the British spy centre GCHQ says the latter has a “strong partnership with our Israeli counterparts in signals intelligence” and that “we are building on an excellent cyber relationship with a range of Israeli bodies”.

Documents from 2009 leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden show that GCHQ spied on the Israeli military, defence firms and diplomatic missions. But they also revealed that GCHQ monitored Palestinian communications, including the phone calls of President Mahmoud Abbas and his two sons. The interceptions took place just three weeks before Israel’s offensive on Gaza in January 2009, suggesting that they may have helped Israel gear up for the offensive.

Trade

The UK is deepening trade with Israel “as we leave the EU” and has established a joint trade working group. Britain completely opposes the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement and rejects imposing even the most basic sanctions on Israel, such as travel bans on those involved in expanding illegal settlements.

Indeed, the government appears to be helping Israel counter the BDS movement. In September 2017, then communities minister Sajid Javid met Gilad Erdan, Israel’s “strategic affairs” minister in charge of combating the BDS movement, to discuss “steps to counter anti-Israel delegitimisation and BDS”.

Rather, the UK wants trade relations to go from “strength to strength“, bolstering the UK’s position as the primary Israeli investment location in Europe.

Illegal settlements

The UK is aware that there are more than 570,000 Israeli settlers in the occupied territories and its formal position regards the settlements as illegal. Yet this is meaningless in light of actual British policy, which is never known to press Israel strongly to end settlement building or the occupation.

The UK simply calls on Israel to “ease” restrictions on Gaza, and rather than demand an Israeli withdrawal from the occupied Golan Heights, Britain only calls on Israel to “uphold its obligations under international law”.

Trade from illegal settlements

Israel’s policy in the occupied territories has been described by human rights body B’Tselem as an “unbridled theft”. Hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of goods produced in these settlements are exported internationally each year, including oranges, dates and spring water.

Yet Britain permits this trade and does not even keep a record of imports into the UK from the settlements. Indeed, Boris Johnson has explicitly said that it is the “policy of the UK” to trade with the illegal settlements and that this will continue. This policy violates UN Security Council resolutions which require all states to “distinguish, in their relevant dealings, between the territory of the State of Israel and the territories occupied since 1967”.

What explains British policy?

Britain has a long history of supporting Israeli aggression. As the mandatory power in Palestine from 1920 to 1948, Britain enabled the gradual takeover of Palestine by the Zionist movement. When the Arab revolt against Britain and its Zionist proteges broke out in the late 1930s, the British army brutally crushed it. The UK supported Israel’s brutal takeover of Palestine in 1948 and also aided Israel’s 1967 war, having furnished Israel with hundreds of British tanks.

But British policy goes beyond this. Gavin Williamson has said that the UK-Israel relationship is the “cornerstone of so much of what we do in the Middle East” while former international development secretary, the neocon Priti Patel, noted that “Israel is an important strategic partner for the UK”.

Patel was forced to resign last year after it was revealed that she held secret meetings in Israel with key officials, including Netanyahu. Most significantly, she visited Israeli military hospitals in the Golan Heights where Israel treats anti-government fighters involved in the Syrian war, including members of the al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra, which Israel is seen as effectively supporting. Patel even wanted to give British aid to the Israeli army.

Britain effectively backs Israeli military policy in the Middle East while it has carried out more than 100 clandestine airstrikes inside Syria against government, Iranian and Hezbollah targets. Israel is seen as an ally against Syria and Iran – Britain’s two main enemies in the region.

London increasingly regards Israel as a strategic asset, especially now that the old Arab-Israeli conflict has largely disappeared, meaning that Britain can more easily back both Israel and its Arab allies at the same time. The Palestinians are the expendable unpeople in this deepening special relationship.

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In 2010 when I first started writing about hydraulic fracturing — the process of blasting a cocktail of water and chemicals into shale to release trapped hydrocarbons — there were more questions than answers about environmental and public-health threats. That same year Josh Fox’s documentary Gasland, which featured tap water bursting into flames, grabbed the public’s attention. Suddenly the term fracking — little known outside the oil and gas industry — became common parlance.

In the following years I visited with people in frontline communities — those living in the gas patches and oilfields, along pipeline paths and beside compressor stations. Many were already woozy from the fumes or worried their drinking water was making them sick. When people asked me if they should leave their homes, it was hard to know what to say; there weren’t many peer-reviewed studies to understand how fracking was affecting public health.

Those days are over.

In June the nonprofits Physicians for Social Responsibility and Concerned Health Professionals of New York released the sixth edition of a compendium that summarizes more than 1,700 scientific reports, peer-reviewed studies and investigative journalism reports about the threats to the climate and public health from fracking.

The research has been piling up for years, and the verdict is clear, the authors conclude: Fracking isn’t safe, and heaps of regulations won’t help (not that they’re coming, anyway).

“Across a wide range of parameters, from air and water pollution to radioactivity to social disruption to greenhouse gas emissions, the data continue to reveal a plethora of recurring problems and harms that cannot be sufficiently averted through regulatory frameworks,” write the eight public health professionals, mostly doctors and scientists, who compiled the compendium. “There is no evidence that fracking can operate without threatening public health directly and without imperiling climate stability upon which public health depends.”

The research collected and summarized is wide-ranging and includes the harms not just from drilling and fracking, but the long tail of the process, including compressor stations and pipelines, silica sand mining, natural-gas storage, natural-gas power plants, and the manufacturing and transport of liquefied natural gas.

Dr. Sandra Steingraber, a biologist, author and distinguished scholar in residence at Ithaca College, is one of the compendium’s co-authors. She helped lead an independent investigation into the scientific research on the health risks from fracking that was a precursor to the current compendium. Those efforts drove public engagement on the issue and eventually led to a ban on fracking in her home state of New York in 2014.

She says this latest collection of research reveals some significant and noteworthy trends.

“There’s really definitive evidence now that methane leaks at every stage of the fracking process” from drilling to storage, she says. And that’s contributing to a surge in methane, a potent greenhouse gas, in the atmosphere.

But methane isn’t just a climate danger. It’s also a contributor to smog, otherwise known as ground-level ozone, which is linked to strokes, heart attacks, asthma and preterm births.

“Methane is a source of air pollution that’s deadly — and that’s become clearer and clearer,” says Steingraber.

flare

Gas being flared at a drilling site in Powder River Basin, Wyo. (Photo by Tara Lohan)

Another area where the science is settled is the earthquakes caused by the injection of fracking wastewater underground, she says.

“We know without a doubt that fracking is linked to earthquakes that occur over longer periods of time and wider geographic area than previously thought,” she says. “That’s because these slippery chemicals that they’ve added to fracking fluid decrease friction while fracking, and they don’t lose that property when re-injected down into the earth with wastewater.”

The compendium also includes a section on two new topics not covered in previous editions — environmental justice and wildlife.

First, studies have shown that fracking infrastructure is disproportionately sited in nonwhite, indigenous or low-income communities.

“Whether it’s practiced in urban areas like Los Angeles where fracking infrastructure clearly targets poor nonwhite communities or in rural areas of Ohio and Pennsylvania where it’s targeted at poor whites — those patterns hold up over and over again,” she says.

There’s also mounting evidence about harms to wildlife from various elements of the process, including toxic water, habitat destruction, light and noise pollution. For example, infrastructure like compressor stations caused populations of grassland songbirds in Canada to decline. Water fleas, a key part of the aquatic food web, are imperiled by small amounts of fracking fluid in waterways.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg: At more than 350 pages with 1,400 footnotes linking to pertinent research, there’s a lot to uncover in the compendium. Here are a few of the findings:

  • Oil and gas operations in the arid Permian Basin used eight times more water for fracking in 2018 as they did in 2011, threatening groundwater supplies;
  • A 2018 analysis of methane leaks from the U.S. oil and gas supply chain as a whole found leakage rates were 60 percent higher than reported by the EPA, and a 2019 study in southwestern Pennsylvania found shale gas emissions that were underreported by a factor of five when compared to EPA estimates;
  • Researchers working in Texas found 19 different fracking-related contaminants — including cancer-causing benzene — in hundreds of drinking water samples collected from the aquifer overlying the heavily drilled Barnett Shale, thereby documenting widespread water contamination;
  • More than 200 airborne chemical contaminants have been detected near drilling and fracking sites. Of these 61 are classified as hazardous air pollutants, including carcinogens, and 26 are endocrine-disrupting compounds that have been linked to reproductive, developmental and neurological damage;
  • Studies of mothers living near oil and gas extraction operations consistently find impairments to infant health, including elevated risks for low birth weight and preterm birth;
  • In 2017, the most recent year for which data are available, 81 oil and gas extraction workers died on the job, accounting for 72 percent of the fatal work injuries in the mining sector, which overall has a fatality rate nearly four times the national average;
  • Significant pipeline accidents happen roughly 300 times each year in the United States and, between 1998 and 2017, killed 299 people and injured 1,190 others, according to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA).

Over the years the compendium has become a critical resource in the fight against fracking and helped to shed some light on an industry that, thanks to regulatory loopholes, has been allowed to operate in secrecy.

Steingraber says there are more than enough scientific findings to conclude that fracking isn’t safe — indeed, that’s what officials in New York determined five years ago. But the industry has significant political clout that science alone can’t counter.

Anti-fracking yard signs

Residents of Dimock, Penn. in the Marcellus Shale took a stand against fracking. (Photo by Tara Lohan)

“It seems to be required now that science be carried by a powerful social movement,” she says. But she’s seen firsthand how strong those movements can be. When fracking came to her doorstep in New York, she and other health professionals translated the science into plain English and brought it to frontline communities so people would know what they were facing.

“When people are informed by science, and then empowered to have an opinion, they’re moved to take part in the public process,” she says. A surge of tens of thousands of public comments helped move New York to ban fracking, and requests for information about health impacts from fracking from all over the world has led Steingraber and her colleagues to keep updating the compendium year after year.

“This is a completely unfunded project — we’re just doing this in the middle of the night and on weekends,” she says. “But I believe there is value in having a group of independent scientists doing this work.”

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The tribunal de grande instance (TGI or the civil court) of Tours considered the case of 121 “anti-Linky” complainants, and threw out 108 of the claims. The remaining 13 were accepted, with the court conceding a possible link between their medical complaints and their Linky smart meters.

One included a seven-year-old child living in Tours, who was – the court said – in “a state of chronic fatigue” and having “difficulty sleeping”, as proven in a medical note, “which could be linked to the Linky meter”.

The court demanded that in the case of these 13 individuals, the Linky meter be removed, and the households be delivered electricity without the device.

Lawyer for the complainants, Arnaud Durand, said that he would push for compensation for “the people who will not be able to live at home”.

In June 2017, medical safety agency L’Agence Nationale de Sécurité Sanitaire (Anses) concluded that the meters could be linked to some “health doubts” – including the possible consequences of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

These have not yet been resolved, according to Me Durand.

He is now hoping to bring more cases against the installation of the Linky meter throughout France.

The country has already seen 22 cases brought to court, including in Rennes, Toulouse, and Bordeaux. Most claims were thrown out, except for a few complainants who cited “electro-sensitivity” to the meters.

The Linky was first rolled out by electricity distribution network company Enedis in 2015. The meters enable electricity use to be measured remotely, so users are charged without a need for a manual reading by the homeowner or an engineer.

Homeowners are also expected to save up to €50 per year on their bills.

But the meters have been controversial since the beginning, with critics stating concerns over the alleged health risks, fire risks, and the transmission of individuals’ data to a private company. Some have also said that the design and manufacturing process breaks competition and monopoly laws.

More than 700 communes have come out against the Linky so far.

In February this year, a court ruled that a village had the right to say no to them, and residents of the town of Blagnac (Occitanie) were given legal permission to refuse for Enedis to collect any information from their Linky, or for an engineer to enter their property.

Yet, there are set to be 34 million Linky meters across France by 2021. They are legally required to have replaced 80% of the previous mechanical meter stock by 2020 – in line with a European Commission directive stating that all member states must change to at least 80% smart meters by this date.

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Trump Regime Gutting the Endangered Species Act

August 15th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Richard Nixon was a friend of the earth, Donald Trump its mortal enemy.

Following the 1969 offshore Santa Barbara, CA February oil spill, the largest in US waters to that time, (now third-ranked after the 1989 Exxon Valdez and 2010 Deepwater Horizon spills), still the largest in offshore California waters, newly inaugurated Richard Nixon visited the affected area.

He overflew the polluted waters in a low-flying helicopter, then walked along the oil-soiled sand with his entourage and press, saying the following:

“What is involved is something much bigger than Santa Barbara. What is involved is the use of our resources of the sea and the land in a more effective way, and with more concern for preserving the beauty and the natural resources that are so important to any kind of society that we want for the future.”

“I don’t think we have paid enough attention to this…We are going to do a better job than we have done in the past.”

Skeptical environmentalists became believers. He established the Environmental Environmental Policy Act, the EPA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Clean Air Act, Earth Week, the Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act (ESA).

There’s plenty about Nixon to criticize. Overlooked were his eco-friendly policies — unmatched by today’s Republicans and undemocratic Dems.

What Nixon established, Trump is going all-out to eliminate, most recently steps to roll back ESA protections.

Established in 1973, it was enacted “to provide for the conservation of endangered and threatened species of fish, wildlife, and plants (from the) consequence of economic growth and development untempered by adequate concern and conservation.”

It requires federal agencies to consult with the Fish and Wildlife Service &/or National Marine Fisheries Service administering the law — to ensure public actions don’t jeopardize the existence of any species or their habitats.

On Monday, the Center for Biological Diversity said the following:

“In a massive attack on imperiled wildlife, the Trump (regime)  finalized rollbacks to regulations implementing key provisions of the Endangered Species Act,” adding:

“The changes, which could lead to extinction for hundreds of animals and plants, are illegal and will be challenged in court.”

Changes finalized on Monday by Trump’s Interior Department secretary David Bernhardt, a former fossil fuel lobbyist, “crash(ed) a bulldozer through (ESA’s) lifesaving protections for America’s most vulnerable wildlife.”

“For animals like wolverines and monarch butterflies, this could be the beginning of the end.”

“We’ll fight the Trump (regime) in court to block this rewrite, which only serves the oil industry and other polluters who see endangered species as pesky inconveniences.”

Trump’s ecocidal agenda aims “to undercut protections for the nation’s air, land, wildlife and water.”

On the same day, Earth Justice said the Nixon era’s ESA “did in 1973 what no country had done before, establishing a commitment to protect and restore the species that are most at risk of extinction.”

ESA “is one of the most popular and effective environmental laws ever enacted.”

After becoming law 46 year ago, “99% of species (it) protected…have not perished.”

The six most endangered species from Trump’s action are gray wolves, bald eagles, grizzly bears, killer whales, Florida manatees, and whooping cranes, said Earth Justice.

Also on Monday, the National Resources Defense Council (NDRC) said Trump’s drastic rollback action came “months after the United Nations released a dire report, warning that one million species could go extinct if business continues as usual.”

“We’re facing an extinction crisis, and the (Trump regime) is placing industry needs above the needs of our natural heritage,” NRDC’s Nature Program legal director Rebecca Riley stressed.

The UN report explained that the pace of species loss worldwide today is hundreds of times greater than any time in the past 10 million years — repeat: 10 million years.

Critical forests, oceans, other waterways, wetlands, and overall nature are being devastated by climate change and over-development in areas vital to preserve for the species of the earth that need them to stay alive.

Friends of the Earth (FOA) said “Trump wants to sell off our lands and waters to Big Oil” and other corporate polluters.

In June, FOE notified Trump regime officials that it intends to sue NOAA “under the Endangered Species Act Regarding Sea Grant’s Funding of Offshore Aquaculture Projects.”

Time and again, Trump proved he’s an enemy of the earth and all its life forms — serving exploitive monied interests at the expense of peace, equity and justice for all.

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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.

Video: Syrian Army Reached Khan Shaykhun

August 15th, 2019 by South Front

Government forces are developing their advance in the southern part of the Idlib de-escalation zone.

The Syrian military has deployed a new batch of reinforcements, including battle tanks from the 4th Armoured Division, to the frontline. According to pro-government sources, these reinforcements will take part in the ongoing Syrian Army offensive in northwestern Hama and southern Idlib.

On August 13, a firefights took place east of Sukayk, but no notable changes on the frontline took place. Syrian Army units made an attempt to capture Tel Tari, but the attack was repelled by Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. In a separate development, government troops liberated Kafr Ayn.

An increased usage of anti-tank guided missiles was also reported.

On August 12, a Turkish military convoy accompanied by militants visited Tell Tuqan, Surman and Morek. According to local sources, Ankara is now actively working behind the scenes to rescue militants besieged in northern Hama.

The Syrian Army and its allies are preparing to capture Kafr Zita and Khan Shaykhun and cut off the rest of supply lines to the key militant stronghold of Lataminah.

The Syrian Air Force and the Russian Aerospace Forces continued their bombing campaign against militants’ infrastructure in the area. According to data released by the Russian Defense Ministry, the priority targets of the bombing campaign is underground hideouts, gatherings of military equipment and convoys of the terrorists.

10 villages in the Syrian province of Raqqah have signed a reconciliation agreement with the Damascus government, the Russian Defense Ministry’s Center for Reconciliation of Opposing Sides in Syria said on August 12. According to the released report, the total population of the villages is around 20,000 people. The Russian Defense Ministry provided no further details regarding the development. The Syrian Democratic Forces and the US-led coalition have not commented on the situation yet.

Such developments are a notable blow to the US-led efforts to isolate the US-occupied, northwestern part of Syria from the rest of the country.

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Fake News About Venezuela and the Power of Propaganda

August 15th, 2019 by Stephen Lendman

Public ignorance and indifference about major issues let US authorities get away with mass murder and much more.

In a June 1950 commencement address, Boston University President Daniel Marsh said:

“If the (television) craze continues…we are destined to have a nation of morons.”

Long before the television age, political commentator Walter Lippmann called the US public a “bewildered herd…their function (to be) spectators (not) participants” in affairs of state.

Industrialist Henry Ford believed if ordinary Americans “underst(ood) our banking and monetary system (there’d) be a revolution before tomorrow morning.”

Governance in the US, other Western societies, and most other nations, is all about serving privileged interests exclusively, exploiting most others to benefit the rich and powerful.

Know-nothing Americans indeed let both extremist right wings of the nation’s war party wage hot war and by other means on humanity — at home and abroad.

Jefferson called an educated citizenry “a vital requisite for our survival as a free people.”

Madison warned that “(a) popular government, without popular information, or the means of acquiring it, is but a prologue to a farce or a tragedy, or, perhaps both.”

Jack Kennedy said “(t)he ignorance of one (US) voter impairs the security of all.”

The power of media propaganda keeps most Americans uninformed in the dark about vital issues affecting their rights, welfare, lives and futures.

Iran and Venezuela are in the eye of the US storm, “maximum pressure” Trump regime war on both countries by other means raging, most Americans ignorant about what’s going on.

Establishment media support what demands denunciation, manipulating the public mind for powerful interests, filling it with rubbish, suppressing vital hard truths.

Days earlier, worldwide solidarity with Venezuela rallies were held in the country and other nations — supporting the Bolivarian Republic, denouncing the Trump regime’s war by other means on its people, notably its economic blockade.

Millions of Venezuelans are signing a petition against it as part of a #No More Trump global mobilization.

Communication Minister Jorge Rodriguez said in the next 30 days through September 10,

“people will sign a letter of rejection of the genocidal, racist, xenophobe” Trump.

Results will be sent to UN Secretary General Guterres, a symbolic gesture to a figure installed by the US to serve its interests.

US establishment media ignored mass pro-Bolivarian rallies and the petition drive — supporting the Trump regime’s war on Venezuela by other means.

Last May, media watchdog Fairness & Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) reported that

“international corporate media have long displayed a peculiar creativity with the facts in their Venezuela reporting, to the point that coverage of the nation’s crisis has become perhaps the world’s most lucrative fictional genre.”

Anti-Bolivarian social democracy propaganda war rages. Last week, establishment media falsely called Venezuela the “cocaine capital of the world.”

Earlier I wrote about the myth of a Venezuelan cocaine super-highway to the US, falsely accusing high-level Bolivarian officials of involvement in what they’re combatting.

Minister of Industries and National Production Tareck El Aissami explained that when he “headed the public security corps of my country, in 2008 — 2012, our fight against drug cartels achieved the greatest progress in our history and in the western hemisphere, both in terms of the transnational drug trafficking business and their logistics structures,” adding:

“During those years, the Venezuelan anti-drug enforcement authorities under my leadership captured, arrested and brought 102 heads of criminal drug trafficking organizations not only to the Venezuelan justice but also to the justice of other countries where they were wanted.”

Venezuela is the leading Latin American nation in combatting the spread of illicit drugs. Falsely claiming its officials are trafficking in them by the Trump regime and major media is part of propaganda war on the country.

Support by Venezuela’s military for Bolivarian governance foiled attempts by Bush/Cheney, Obama and Trump to replace its authorities with US-controlled puppet rule.

Since establishment of the Bolivarian Republic, the NYT has waged propaganda war on its governance, supporting the US plot to return the country to client state status.

Its latest propaganda piece falsely claimed “Maduro (is) crack(ing) down on his own military…to retain power” — a Big Lie.

Further disinformation followed, falsely claiming “a majority of Venezuelans (are) left without sufficient food…”

Maduro’s Local Provision and Production Committees (CLAPs) program distributes subsidized food to around six million Venezuelan families in need, around two-thirds of the population, part of the nation’s participatory social democracy — an inconvenient fact the Times ignored.

It also falsely claimed Venezuelan “security forces (staged) at least five attempts to overthrow or assassinate the president.”

Indeed numerous attempts were made to kill Hugo Chavez and Nicolas Maduro. Obama succeeded in eliminating Chavez. Maduro survived so far.

The plots originated in Washington by three regimes, CIA dirty hands likely all over them — assassinations of foreign leaders and other key officials a longtime agency practice, another inconvenient fact the Times ignored.

Chavez and now Maduro were and continue to be bombarded with false accusations by hardline US officials, the Times, and other establishment media — while ignoring US high crimes of war and against humanity worldwide.

Without major media support for their imperial rage, hostile policies of US regimes wouldn’t get out of the starting gate.

Venezuela, Iran, China, Russia, Syria, and other nations are targeted by the US for their sovereign independence — part of its aim to rule the world and control its resources.

What’s most important to explain to the US public, the Times and other establishment media suppress — substituting disinformation, Big Lies, and fake news instead.

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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: A protest outside the United States Consulate in Sydney on January 23 2019 to demand no US intervention in Venezuela. Photo: Peter Boyle

The hybrid war, being conducted against China by the United States and its gaggle of puppet states from the UK to Canada to Australia, has entered a new phase.

The first stage involved the massive shift of US air and naval forces to the Pacific and constant provocations against China in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait.

The second stage was the creation of disinformation about China’s treatment of minority groups, especially in Tibet and west China.

That this propaganda campaign has been carried out by nations such as the US, Canada and Australia who have the worst human rights records in the world with respect to their indigenous peoples, subjected to centuries of cultural and physical genocide by those governments, and who refuse to protect their minority peoples from physical attacks and discrimination despite their human rights laws, shocks the conscience of any objective observer.

But not content with that, the propaganda was extended to China’s economic development, its international trade, the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation, its Silk and Belt Road Initiative, its development bank, and other facilities and trade initiatives, through which China is accused of trying to control the world; an accusation made by the very nation that threatens economic embargo or worse, nuclear annihilation, to anyone, friend or foe, who resists its attempt to control the world.

The fourth phase is the US attempt to degrade the Chinese economy with punitive “tariffs,” essentially an embargo on Chinese goods. That the objective is not better trade deals but to bring China to its knees is the fact that the negative effect of these tariffs on American consumers, farmers and manufacturers is considered secondary to the principal objective.

Last year it moved to a fifth phase, the kidnapping and illegal detention of Meng Wanzhou, the Chief Financial Officer of China’s leading technology company Huawei, in synchronicity with a massive campaign by the USA to force its puppets to drop any dealings with that company. Meng Wanzhou is still held against her will in Canada on US orders. Chinese have been harassed in the US, Australia and Canada.

The latest phase in this hybrid warfare is the insurrection being provoked by the US, UK, Canada and the rest in Hong Kong, using tactics designed to provoke China into suppressing the rioters with force to amplify the anti-Chinese propaganda, or pushing the “protestors” into declaring Hong Kong independent of China and then using force to support them.

Mitch McConnell, an important US senator implicitly threatened just such a scenario in a statement on August 12th stating that the US is warning China not to block the protests and that if they are suppressed trouble will follow. In other words the US is claiming that it will protect the thugs in black shirts, the shirts of fascists. This new phase is very dangerous, as the Chinese government has time and again stated, and has to be handled with intelligence and the strength of the Chinese people.

There is now abundant evidence that the UK and US are the black hand behind the events in Hong Kong. When the Hong Kong Bar association joined in the protests the west claimed that even the lawyers were supporting the protests in an attempt to bring justice to the people. But the leaders of that association are all either UK lawyers or members of law firms based in London, such as Jimmy Chan, head of the so-called Human Civil Rights Front, formed in 2002 with the objective of breaking Honk Kong away from China, such as Kevin Lam, a partner in another London based law firm, and Steve Kwok and Alvin Yeung, members of the anti-China Civic Party who are going to meet with US officials next week.

Kwok has called for the independence of Hong Kong in other visits, some sponsored by the US National Security Council and has called for the US to invoke its Hong Kong Policy Act, which, among other things mandates the US president to issue an order suspending its treatment of Hong Kong as a separate territory in trade matters. The effect of this would be to damage China’s overall trade since a lot of its revenue comes through Hong Kong. The president can invoke the Act if it decides that Hong Kong “is not sufficiently autonomous to justify it being treated separately from China.”

In tandem with Kwok’s call for the use of that Act, US Senator Ted Cruz has filed a Bill titled the Hong Kong Revaluation Act requiring the president to report on “how China exploits Hong Kong to circumvent the laws of the United States.”

But it seems the anti-Chinese propaganda campaign is not having the effect they hoped. The New York Times ran a piece on August 13 stating, “China is waging a disinformation war against the protestors.” Embarrassed by US consular officials being caught red-handed meeting with protest leaders in a hotel in Hong Kong last week and blatant statements of support for the protestors from the US, Canada and UK as well attempts to treat Hong Kong as an independent state, the US intelligence services have now been forced to try to counter China’s accounts of the facts by declaring anything China says as disinformation.

The US and UK objectives are revealed in this statement from the article,

“Hong Kong, which Britain returned to Chinese rule in 1997, remains outside China’s firewall, and thus is sitting along one of the world’s most profound online divides. Preserving the city’s freedom to live without the mainland’s controls has become one of the causes now motivating the protests.”

This statement flies in the face of the Basic Law, expressing the agreement between the UK and China when the UK finally agreed to leave Hong Kong. We need to be aware of what the Basic Law says. Promulgated in April 4 1990 but put into effect on July 1, 1997, the date of the hand over of the territory to China, the Preamble states:

“Hong Kong has been part of the territory of China since ancient times; it was occupied by Britain after the Opium War in 1840. On 19 December 1984, the Chinese and British Governments signed the Joint Declaration on the Question of Hong Kong, affirming that the Government of the People’s Republic of China will resume the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong with effect from 1 July 1997, thus fulfilling the long-cherished common aspiration of the Chinese people for the recovery of Hong Kong.

Upholding national unity and territorial integrity, maintaining the prosperity and stability of Hong Kong, and taking account of its history and realities, the People’s Republic of China has decided that upon China’s resumption of the exercise of sovereignty over Hong Kong, a Hong Kong Special Administrative Region will be established in accordance with the provisions of Article 31 of the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, and that under the principle of “one country, two systems”, the socialist system and policies will not be practised in Hong Kong. The basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong have been elaborated by the Chinese Government in the Sino-British Joint Declaration.

In accordance with the Constitution of the People’s Republic of China, the National People’s Congress hereby enacts the Basic Law of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region of the People’s Republic of China, prescribing the systems to be practised in the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region, in order to ensure the implementation of the basic policies of the People’s Republic of China regarding Hong Kong.”

Hong Kong is a part of China. That is the essential fact set out in the Basic Law agreed to by the UK as well as China. It is an administrative region of China. It is not an independent state and never was when Britain seized it through force and occupied it.

So the claim that the protestors are trying to preserve something that never existed, freedom from China’s control, since Hong Kong is subject to China’s control, is bogus. The fact that China permitted Hong Kong to retain its capitalist system confirms this. The fact that China can impose socialism 50 years after or sooner if certain conditions are met, also confirms this.

The pretexts for the riots, the first being a proposed extradition law between the mainland and Hong Kong which is similar to those that exist between provinces in Canada and states in the USA, the second being the claim that China’s insistence on its sovereignty over the territory somehow overrides the limited autonomy granted Hong Kong and threatens that autonomy, are without any foundation.

One could easily split Canada into pieces based on such bogus arguments or again split up the USA, or even the UK as London sees its rule of Ireland, Wales and Scotland being challenged by nationalist groups. And we know very well what violent protests will bring in swift suppression of such forces if the central governments feel threatened, especially by the violence we see used by the black shirts in Hong Kong. We saw what happened in Spain when the Catalans attempted to split from Spain. The leaders of the movement are now in exile. We saw what the US is capable of against demonstrators when it shot them down at Kent State when students were demonstrating peacefully. These things are not forgotten. We know how the British will react to renewed attempts for a united Ireland.

China is facing attacks on several fronts at once and it will require wisdom, endurance and the strength of the Chinese people to defend their revolution and rid themselves of colonial and imperialist domination, once and for all. Those who carry British and American flags in the protests in Hong Kong, reveal who they are. They are not the future of China. They are the living embodiment of a dead history and dead ideas, zombies of the past.

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Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.” He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from NEO

Members of the Sudanese Professional Association (SPA), a leading organization within the Forces for Freedom and Change (FFC), announced on August 9 that they would have no representatives in the soon to be created transitional government.

This report comes in the midst of a whirlwind of political developments inside the oil-producing African state which has experienced social unrest, a military coup and ongoing negotiations aimed at establishing an effective interim process.

Former President Omer Hassan al-Bashir of the National Congress Party (NCP) was ousted in a putsch on April 11, just five days after the commencement of a sit-in outside the defense headquarters in the capital of Khartoum. The occupation remained until it was violently dispersed nearly two months later at the aegis of the Rapid Support Forces (RSF), an important component of the security apparatus in the country.

Demonstrations began in Sudan during mid-December as a rise in bread prices triggered thousands of people to move into the streets in protest. Soon enough the demands shifted from economic grievances to the call for the resignation of President al-Bashir.

A Political Declaration agreed to by the FFC and the Transitional Military Council (TMC) which has ruled the nation since April 11, laid a framework for a Sovereign Council where representatives from both the TMC and FFC will share power for 39 months leading up to multi-party elections. The terms of the implementation of the Constitutional component of the three-pronged transitional framework will remain uncertain particularly with the absence of a pathway towards peace which is contingent upon its adoption by the armed opposition groupings, the Left and other disaffected tendencies.

However, the armed Sudanese Revolutionary Front (SRF) and the Sudanese Communist Party (SCP) have already expressed their displeasure with the terms of the Political Declaration leaving the possibility of continuing demonstrations and other forms of resistance. This same position has carried over as it relates to the Constitutional Declaration agreement as well. The third component of the transitional arrangement, the Legislative Council, is yet to be determined by the principal negotiators of the FFC and the TMC.

Sudanese celebrate the signing of the Constitutional Declaration on August 9, 2019 (Photo by EWN)

Other groups which have significant followings, the National Umma Party and the Sudanese Congress Party (SCP) have also revealed they will not be a part of the transitional government based in Khartoum. An apparent restless populace which has been the target of highly repressive measures by the security forces may not be willing to remain optimistic in light of a myriad of unanswered questions related to the country’s future.

SRF affiliates have been engaged in military operations against the central government for many years. Two of the principal members of the alliance are fighting against SAF and RSF units in South Kordofan, Blue Nile and the Darfur region.

Consequently, when the SPA said it would not participate in the transitional government, additional questions came to the fore. Moreover, how long will the negotiations continue on outstanding issues related to the Political Declaration and the Constitutional Declaration? A Legislative Council is also under discussion which would theoretically seal a pathway towards a new dispensation.

In an article published by Sudan Tribune on August 9, it says that:

“The Sudanese Professionals’ Association and the opposition Unionist Gathering have announced that they will not participate in the transitional government due to be formed in late August. The two groups were the spearhead of the protest movement that lasted for months before to topple the regime of Omer al-Bashir in April 2019.”

This same above-mentioned dispatch goes on to note:

“Babikir Faisal the Chairman of the Unionist Gathering’s Executive Committee told reporters on Wednesday (Aug. 7) that they would not take part in the upcoming government. ’The Gathering will not participate in the transitional government,’ Babikir told a news conference on Wednesday. He stressed that there are no quotas in the transitional government and that what is circulating through the media are ‘mere rumors.’”

Therefore, despite the extensive discussions between the FFC and TMC in both Khartoum and in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, under the mediation of the African Union (AU), existing contentious issues are unresolved. There can be no effective transition to even a bourgeois democratic government without securing sustainable peace treaties mandating the laying down of arms and the creation of an inclusive administration.

Attempted Military Coups and Regional Intrigue

Another key element of the Sudanese political crises is the numerous accounts of attempted counter-coups within the SAF itself. Several high-ranking military officials have been arrested where they join former President al-Bashir in detention.

In addition, there were rumors of ongoing “purges of Islamists” military personnel from the SAF. Defining what the term “Islamists” actually means within the context of contemporary Sudan is undoubtedly complex. The previous government of the NCP under al-Bashir was categorized by some as “Islamist.”

At the same time there are other political tendencies such as the Umma Party and the Popular Congress Party (PCP), long in opposition to the NCP, as also fitting into this characterization. These factors raise the question as to the nature of the political disagreements obviously plaguing the military apparatus.

For example, the crackdown on the mass demonstrations which occurred in the capital of Khartoum on June 3 has been attributed to the RSF. In a sense the SAF has attempted to distance itself from some of the harsher forms of repression which have resulted in the deaths of more than 300 people.

On the international level, there are reports that the RSF militias are supplying weapons to opposition forces in the Central African Republic (CAR). The Seleka Coalition, an alliance of several organizations dominated by the CAR’s minority Muslim population, has recently signed a peace deal with the government in the capital of Bangui.

Seleka Coalition affiliates are said to be concerned about a possible offensive to disarm their forces. This comes amid the increasing presence of advisors from the Russian Federation who were requested to assist the military of the CAR by its current President Faustin-Archange Touadera. The appeal was made directly to Russian President Vladimir Putin on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in 2017.

Moreover, SAF units are still cooperating with Saudi Arabia and other regional states in the now more than four-year old war being wage in Yemen. This is a United States engineered bombing and ground campaign designed to weaken the Ansurallah (Houthis) Movement. The U.S., Britain and their allies contend that the Ansurrallah are backed by the Islamic Republic of Iran and therefore viewed as a threat to the strategic balance of forces in the Middle East.

The Aims of Imperialism in Sudan

Washington’s foreign policy towards Sudan has been geared towards regime-change and a total capturing of the state for the purpose ensuring compliance with its political and economic objectives in North and Central Africa. The fact that the previous government of President al-Bashir had exercised a degree of independence from successive U.S. administrations, both Democratic and Republican, resulted in hostile actions towards the NCP over a number of years.

The al-Bashir government had made firm economic agreements with the People’s Republic of China in regard to its drilling and export of oil. Ousted President al-Bahir also defied the warrants issued against him by the International Criminal Court (ICC), saying that they would not recognize this imperialist construct as having any authority over the country and its leaders.

Nevertheless, this modicum of independent domestic and international policy would shift after 2014 with the decline in petroleum prices and the worsening economic outlook for the Republic of Sudan in the aftermath of the partitioning of the South. The Republic of South Sudan came into being in 2011 largely as a result of the contradictions which developed during the period of British colonialism in the late 19th and early-to-mid 20th centuries until the country became liberated in 1956.

Britain ruled Sudan as two separate entities involving the North and the South. These divisions fomented two civil wars, from 1955-1972, and later from 1983 through 2003. The transition to partition reduced the economic and territorial status of the Republic of Sudan, which prior to the independence of Juba, was the largest geographic nation-state in Africa.

The U.S., Britain and the State of Israel supported the creation of the Republic of South Sudan. As events have developed since 2013, the Republic of South Sudan has not proven to be a viable state and has been inflicted with civil war due to a split within the ruling Sudan People’s Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A). Both Juba and Khartoum are suffering from internal conflict and economic malaise. Consequently, the imperialist legacy of domination has effectively impeded the genuine development of the now two separate states.

Of course this contemporary history has profound significance for other regional states and Africa as a whole. The necessity for the resolution of internal conflict and the maintenance of sovereignty is the major question facing the AU. The degree to which the Republic of Sudan can resolve its present situation will prove instructive to other African and developing nations.

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

Featured image: Sudan Constitutional Declaration signed by Transitional Military Council and Force for Freedom and Change Photo by Al Jazeera

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The Fading Home of Homo ‘Sapiens’. Extreme Weather Events

August 15th, 2019 by Dr. Andrew Glikson

In front of our eyes green forests are blackened by fire, draughts turn grassy planes to brown semi-deserts, fertile fields are flooded by muddy water, white snow and ice  melt to pale blue water and clear blue skies turn grey with aerosols.

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The inhabitants of planet Earth are in the process of destroying the habitability of their world through the perpetration of the largest mass extinction of species since 66 million years ago when a large asteroid impacted Earth and 55 million years since the Paleocene-Eocene Thermal Maximum (PETM) reaching +5 to +8°C. The late Holocene-Anthropocene climate change represents an unprecedented event, triggering a fast shift in climate zones and a series of extreme weather events, with consequences for much of nature and civilization. The changes are manifest where green forests are blackened by fire, draughts are turning grassy planes to brown semi-deserts, brilliant white snow and ice caps are melting into pale blue water and clear blue skies turn grey due to aerosols and jet contrails, most particularly in the northern hemisphere. Unless effective efforts are undertaken at CO2down-draw, the consequence would include demise of much of nature and a collapse of human civilization.

1. The scorched Earth

The transfer of hundreds of billions of tonnes of carbon from the Earth crust, the residues of ancient biospheres, to the atmosphere and oceans, condemning the bulk of life through the most extreme shift in the composition of the atmosphere and ocean Earth has experienced since 55 million years ago, with changes taking place in front of our eyes. Since the industrial revolution, about 375 billion tonnes of carbon (or 1,374 billion tonnes CO2) have been emitted by humans into the atmosphere. The consequences are everywhere, from mega-droughts, to heat waves, fires, storms and floods. With atmospheric CO2-equivalent rising above 500 ppm and mean temperatures by more than 1.5oC (Figure 1) look no further than the shift in climate zones, displayed for example on maps of the expanding wet tropical zones, drying sub-tropical latitudes and polar-ward migration of temperate climate zone. The ice sheets and sea ice are melting, huge fires overtake Siberia, the Sahara is shifting northward, large parts of southern Europe are suffering from draughts, heat waves and fires, the Kalahari Desert dunes are shifting and much of southern Australia is affected by warming and draughts. This is hardly compensated by a minor increase in precipitation and greening such as at the southern fringes of the Sahara Desert and parts of northern Australia.

Induced by anthropogenic carbon emissions reaching 37.1 billion tonnes CO2in 2018 and their amplifying feedbacks from land and oceans, ranging from where the US produces 16.5 tonnes CO2per capita per year, to 35.5 tonnes CO2 per capita per year from Saudi Arabia’s and 44 tons export per capita per year from Australia. The inexorable link between these emissions and the unfolding disaster is hardly mentioned by mainstream political classes and the media.

Figure 1(A) Growth of CO2-equivalent level and the annual greenhouse gas Index (AGGI[1]). Measurements of CO2to the 1950s are from (Keeling et al., 1958) and air trapped in ice and snow above glaciers. Pre-1978 changes are based on ongoing measurements of all greenhouse gases. Equivalent CO2amounts (in ppm) are derived from the relationship between CO2concentrations and radiative forcing from all long lived gases; (B)showing how much warmer each month of the GISTEMP data is than the annual global mean. For July (2019) temperatures rose by about +1.5oC.

2. Migrating climate zones

As the globe warms, to date by a mean of near ~1.5oCor ~2.0oC when the masking effects of sulphur dioxide and other aerosols are considered, and by a mean of ~2.3oC in the polar regions, the expansion of warm tropical latitudes and the pole-ward migration of subtropical and temperate climate zones (Figure 2) ensue in large scale draughts such as parts of inland Australia and southern Africa. A similar trend is taking place in the northern hemisphere where the Sahara desert is expanding northward, with consequent heat waves across the Mediterranean and Europe.

In southern Africa “Widespread shifts in climate regimes are projected, of which the southern and eastern expansion of the hot desert and hot steppe zones is most prominentFrom occupying 33.1 and 19.4 % of southern Africa under present-day climate, respectively, these regions are projected to occupy between 47.3 and 59.7 % (hot desert zone) and 24.9 and 29.9 % (hot steppe zone) of the region in a future world where the mean global temperature has increased by ~3°C.

Closely linked to the migration of climate zones is the southward drift of Antarctic- sourced cold moist fronts which sustain seasonal rain in south-west and southern Australia. A feedback loop has developed where deforestation and decline in vegetation in southern parts of the continent result in the rise of thermal plumes of dry air masses that deflect the western moist fronts further to the southeast.

Figure 2. Köppen-Geiger global Climate zones classification map

Since 1979 the planet’s tropics have been expanding pole-ward by 56 km to 111 km per decade in both hemispheres, leading one commentator to call this Earth’s bulging waistline. Future climate projections suggest this expansion is likely to continue, driven largely by human activities – most notably emissions of greenhouse gases and black carbon, as well as warming in the lower atmosphere and the oceans.”

An analysis of the origin of Australian draughts suggests, according to both observations and climate models, that at least part of this decline is associated with changes in large-scale atmospheric circulation, including shrinking polar ice and  a pole-ward movement of polar-originated westerly wind spirals, as well as increasing atmospheric surface pressure and droughts over parts of southern Australia (Figure 3). Simulations of future climate with this model suggest amplified winter drying over most parts of southern Australia in the coming decades in response to changes in radiative forcing. The drying is most pronounced over southwest Australia, with total reductions in austral autumn and winter precipitation of approximately 40% by the late twenty-first century. Thus rainfall in southwestern Australia has declined sharply from about 1965 onward, concomitant with the sharp rise of global temperatures.

Figure 3(A) Bureau of Meteorology (BOM) draught map, showing rainfall levels for the southern wet season from April 1 to July 31 in 2019; (B) NASA satellite image displaying a southward deflection of Antarctic-sourced moist cold fronts from southern Australia, a result of (1) southward migration of climate zones; (2) increasing aridity of southern and southwestern Australia due to deforestation; (3) rising hot plumes from warming arid land..

3. Extreme weather events

The consequences of the migration of climate zones are compounded by changes in flow patterns of major river systems around the world, for example in southern an southeastern Asia, including the Indus, Ganges, Brahmaputra and Mekong river basins, the home and bread basket for more than a billion people. With warming, as snow cover declines in the mountainous source regions of rivers, river flows are enhanced, with ensuing floods, in particular during the Monsoon. For example, in 2010 approximately one-fifth of Pakistan’s total land area was affected by floods (Figure 4A), directly affecting about 20 million people, with a death toll close to 2,000. And about 700 people in cyclone Isai in Mozambique (Figure 4B, C). Such changes in climate and geography are enhanced once sea level rise increases from the scale of tens of centimeters, as at present, to meters, as predicted to take place later this and next century.

An increasing frequency and intensity of cyclones constitute an inevitable consequence of rising temperatures over warm low pressure cell tracks in tropical oceans, already affecting large populations in the Caribbean and west Pacific island chains, encroaching into continental coastal zones, China, southeast USA, southeast Africa, India, northern Australia, the Pacific islands. According to Sobel et al. (2016)

We thus expect tropical cyclone intensities to increase with warming, both on average and at the high end of the scale, so that the strongest future storms will exceed the strength of any in the past”.

Likewise increasing temperatures, heat waves and droughts, compounded by deforestation over continents, constitute an inevitable consequence of heat waves and droughts. A prime example is the Siberian forest fires (Figure 5B), covering an area larger than Denmark and contributing significantly to climate change. Since the beginning of the year a total of 13.1 million hectares has burned. Total losses from natural catastrophes on 2018 stated as US$160 billion.

Figure 4(A) Pakinstan flooding showing the 2010 Indus River spanning well over 10 kilometers, completely filling the river valley and spilling over onto nearby land. Floodwaters have created a lake almost as wide as the swollen Indus that inundates Jhatpat; (B) Before-and-after satellite imagery of Mozambique showing massive flood described as an “inland ocean” up to 30 miles wide following the landfall of Tropical Cyclone Idai, 2019.

Figure 5(A) Global fire zones, NASA. The Earth data fire map accumulates the locations of fires detected by moderate-resolution imaging radiometer (MODIS) on board the Terra and Aqua satellites over a 10-day period. Each colored dot indicates a location where MODIS detected at least one fire during the compositing period. Color ranges from red where the fire count is low to yellow where number of fires is large;(B)An ecological catastrophe in Russia: wildfires have created over 4 million square km smoke lid over central northern Asia. Big Siberian cities are covered with toxic haze that had already reached Urals.

4. Shrinking Polar ice sheets

Last but not least, major changes in the Polar Regions are driving climate events in the rest of the globe. According to NOAA Arctic surface air temperatures continued to warm at twice the rate of the rest of the globe, leading to major thaw at the fringes of the Arctic (Figure 6A) and a loss of 95 percent of its oldest ice over the past three decades. Arctic air temperatures during 2014-18 since 1900 have exceeded all previous records and are driving broad changes in the environmental system both within the Arctic as well as through the weakening of the jet stream which separates the Arctic from warmer climate zones. The recent freezing storms in North America represent penetration of cold air masses through an increasingly undulating jet stream barrier, as well as allowing warm air masses to move northward, further warming the Arctic and driving further ice melting (Figure 6B).

According to Rignot et al. (2011) in 2006 the Greenland and Antarctic ice sheets experienced a combined mass loss of 475 ± 158 billion tons of ice per year. IPCC models of future climate change contain a number of departures from the paleoclimate evidence, including the major role of feedbacks from land and water, estimates of future ice melt, sea level rise rates, methane release rates, the role of fires in enhancing atmospheric CO2, and the already observed onset of transient freeze events consequent on the flow of ice melt water into the oceans. Ice mass loss would raise sea level on the scale of meters and eventually tens of meters (Hansen et al. 2016). The development of large cold water pools south and east of Greenland (Rahmstorf et al. 2015) and at the fringe of West Antarctica, signify early stages in the development of a North Atlantic freeze, consistent with the decline in the Atlantic Meridional Ocean Circulation (AMOC). As the Earth warms the increase in temperature contrasts across the globe, in particular between warming continental regions and cooling ocean regions, leads to storminess and extreme weather events, which need to be taken into account when planning adaptation measures, including preparation of coastal defenses, construction of channel and pipelines from heavy precipitation zones to draught zones.

Figure 6(A) Thawing at the fringes of Siberia and Canada. Scientists say 2019 could be another annus horribilisfor the Arctic with record temperatures already registered in Greenland—a giant melting ice sheet that threatens to submerge the world’s coastal areas one day; (B) Weakening and increasing undulation of the polar vortex, allowing penetration of cold fronts southward and of warm air masses northward.

Figure 7 (A) Surface air temperature (◦C) change in 2055–2060 relative to 1880–1920 according to. A1B model + modified forcings and ice melt to 1 meter sea level rise; (B)  Surface-air temperature change in 2096 relative to 1880–1920 according to IPCC model AIB adding Ice melt with 10-year doubling of ice melt leading to +5 meters sea level rise; (C)Surface air temperature (◦C) relative to 1880–1920 for several scenarios taking added ice melt water into account (Hansen et al. 2016)

Postscript

None of the evidence and projections summarized above appears to form a priority consideration on the part of those in power—in parliaments, in corporations or among the wealthy elites and vested interests. Having to all intents and purposes given up on the habitability of large parts of the Earth and on the survival of numerous species and future generations—their actions and inactions constitute the ultimate crime against life on Earth.

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Dr Andrew Glikson, Earth and Paleo-climate science, Australia National University (ANU) School of Anthropology and Archaeology, ANU Planetary Science Institute, ANU Climate Change Institute, Honorary Associate Professor, Geothermal Energy Centre of Excellence, University of Queensland. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Note

[1] The AGGI index uses 1990 as a baseline year with a value of 1.  The index increased every year since 1979. 

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Ethics can be a slippery matter and Canada’s Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has taken, rather decidedly, the option of adding more grease.  His understanding over the ethics, for instance, of interfering in the decision-making process involving an Attorney-General has led to a little bit of history: Trudeau finds himself the first Canadian prime minister to be in breach of federal ethics rules.

In recent months, Trudeau’s crown has lost much of its lustre.  The SNC-Lavalin affair has been a primary contributor, a millstone gathering weight around his now very bruised neck.  The company had found itself in a spot of deep bother over bribing Libyan officials, a point it claimed in February 2015 was the result of “alleged reprehensible deeds by former employees who left the company a long time ago.”  Then came a 2018 law offering mild relief: the prospect of a fine rather than a conviction.  Business could go on as usual.

The question on the lips of the political fraternity was to what extent Trudeau’s office, and he personally, attempted to pressure the ex-Attorney General Jody Wilson-Raybould that taking SNC-Lavalin to trial would be costly in terms of jobs and votes in Quebec.  A bribery and fraud conviction against the company would have barred it from bidding on federal contracts for 10 years, with current contracts cancelled by the federal authorities.

In early February 2016, it became clear that the company was putting the word out to Trudeau and various government bodies that a remediation agreement was desirable.  The prime minister seemed convinced the company was keen to reform, a point used to avert the disruptive prospect of having cancellations of contracts covering, amongst others, the Gordie Howe International Bridge project and Montreal’s light rail project.

Wilson-Raybould found herself cornered and badgered, taking issue with Trudeau’s evident bias towards SNC-Lavalin.  Her refusal to overrule the decision of the prosecutors to refuse pursuing the remediation option led to her demotion in January’s cabinet reshuffle.  This, in turn, precipitated a lusty round of bloodletting: the removal of Wilson-Raybould and Jane Philpott of the Treasury Board from the Liberal caucus, the resignation of Trudeau’s top personal aide Gerry Butts, and the early retirement of the head of the federal bureaucracy, Michael Wernick.

The entire affair also prompted an examination request to the Ethics Commissioner by Charlie Angus, MP for Timmins-James Bay, and Nathan Cullen, MP for Skeena-Bulkley Valley.  Their concern: that the Prime Minister and his office had pressured Wilson-Raybould to instruct the Public Prosecution Service of Canada to seek a remediation agreement with SNC-Lavalin.  This suggested, argued Angus and Cullen, preferential treatment by an office holder towards a particular person or entity, something prohibited by section 7 of the Conflict of Interest Act.

While Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion was not convinced that section 7 held the necessary water, section 9 prohibiting a public officer holder from using their position to seek to influence a decision of another person to further their own private interests or those of a relative or friend, or to improperly further another person’s private interests, was quite a different matter.

Dion showed little sympathy for the Trudeau line of interference.  “The Prime Minister, directly and through his senior officials, used various means to exert influence over Ms Wilson-Raybould.”  SNC-Lavalin “overwhelmingly stood to benefit from Ms Wilson-Raybould’s intervention”.  The prime minister’s actions were therefore “improper since the actions were contrary to the constitutional principles of prosecutorial independence and the rule of law”.

The findings by Dion also serve a historical diet on the independence – aspirational or otherwise – of certain office holders, with the Attorney General being a singular creature in the scheme of government.  Such an office holder had a “unique perspective” in being a Cabinet member but also one who had to be “independent of Cabinet when exercising their prosecutorial discretion.”  It was a role, and a distinction inherent in it, that had clearly been “misunderstood” by Trudeau.

Dion was also wise enough to make a salient reference to Lord Hartley Shawcross’ views on the matter.  As Attorney General of England and Wales, Lord Shawcross explained to the UK House of Commons in 1951 that the Attorney General was “not obliged to, consult with any of his colleagues in the government” in making decisions pertinent to a prosecution.  The AG might well be informed and assisted by colleagues on matters assisting in reaching a decision, but never “in telling him what that decision ought to be.”

Trudeau’s statement of response is the mildest of efforts at contrition (“I can’t apologise for standing up for Canadian jobs”), a backhanded thank you to the Ethics Commissioner, a grudging acceptance that Parliamentary officers be independent, and an ultimate sense that his conduct had been, in the final analysis, proper in most respects, even if he did “take full responsibility”.

“The Commissioner took the strong view that all contact with the Attorney General on this issue was improper. I disagree with that conclusion, especially when so many peoples’ jobs were at stake.”

Such apologetics are padded by a good dose of self-congratulation.

“Our government has made tremendous progress over the last few years, for seniors, students, workers, families, and newcomers.”

The issue of jobs is the re-iterated barb.

“We have always fought to create and protect jobs, to invest in Canadians, and to strengthen the middle class at the heart of our country’s success.”

The consequences for such findings for Trudeau might prove the telling blow come the October elections.  Conservative leader Andrew Scheer smells blood and is demanding a police investigation.  The Royal Canadian Mounted Police has expressed interest.  Other commentators will simply remember that Trudeau has form on this.  In December 2017, he was found in breach of conflict of interest rules in accepting a vacation to be on the Aga Khan’s private island.  At least then, he thought apologising a wise move.  Trudeau the cynic has been outed.

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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]

US Meddling Continues in Cambodia, but with Setbacks

August 15th, 2019 by Joseph Thomas

Two Cambodian employees of US government-funded “Radio Free Asia” (RFA) face espionage charges for continuing to work for the foreign information operation even after the Cambodian government ordered it closed.

Qatari state media, Al Jazeera, in their article, “Espionage trial of two former RFA journalists starts in Cambodia,” would report:

Former Radio Free Asia (RFA) reporters Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin were arrested in November 2017 after a late-night police raid on an apartment rented by the former. They were accused of supplying a foreign state with information, a charge that carries a prison sentence of between seven and 15 years. 

RFA, which is funded by the government of the United States, had closed its operations in Cambodia shortly before the arrests. The outlet was known for its critical coverage of the Cambodian government, including frequent reports on corruption and illegal logging.

Al Jazeera also admitted:

Both Uon Chhin and Yeang Sothearin admitted at Friday’s hearing that they had continued sending videos and information to RFA after it had shut down, but they denied that this constituted espionage.

Human Rights Watch’s (HRW) deputy Asia director Phil Robertson would make a statement published on the organisation’s site claiming:

Chhin and Sothearin should never have had to face these bogus espionage charges, and all judicial restrictions on them should be lifted.

HRW’s Robertson made these comments unironically after celebrating and making excuses for Facebook and Twitter’s censorship of accounts and individuals critical of Western impropriety (including the dubious, often hypocritical work of HRW itself) worldwide.

Cambodian courts vowed to ignore the demands of foreign organisations like HRW, insisting instead they would use evidence and Cambodian law to reach a verdict, RFA’s own article on the story reported.

US Meddling in Cambodia Was Extensive 

Amid continued hysteria and accusations of “Russian interference” levelled by the United States and its various functionaries against any and all opponents worldwide, the US itself has been involved in meddling in Cambodia’s internal political affairs extensively.

Far from merely funding information operations like RFA, Voice of America and Cambodia Daily Cambodia has since shut down or co-opted, the US literally ran an entire political party with members operating out of Washington DC itself. It protected these proxies  from well-earned accusations and charges of sedition with fronts posing as “human rights” organisations also funded by the US government.

Cambodian National Rescue Party (CNRP) leader Kem Sokha openly admitted to Washington’s role in propping up his party and its bid to seize power in Cambodia not through elections, but through the same sort of destructive colour revolutions that have swept through Eastern Europe, North Africa and the Middle East.

The Phnom Penh Post in its article, “Kem Sokha video producer closes Phnom Penh office in fear,” would go over the many admissions made by Kem Sokha:

“…the USA that has assisted me, they asked me to take the model from Yugoslavia, Serbia, where they can changed the dictator Slobodan Milosevic,” he continues, referring to the former Serbian and Yugoslavian leader who resigned amid popular protests following disputed elections, and died while on trial for war crimes.

“You know Milosevic had a huge numbers of tanks. But they changed things by using this strategy, and they take this experience for me to implement in Cambodia. But no one knew about this.”

“However, since we are now reaching at this stage, today I must tell you about this strategy. We will have more to continue and we will succeed.”

Kem Sokha would elaborate further, claiming:

“I do not do anything at my own will. Their experts, professors at universities in Washington, DC, Montreal, Canada, hired by the Americans in order to advise me on the strategy to change the dictator leader in Cambodia.”

Fronts posing as “human rights” organisations operating in Cambodia and running defence for CNRP and its supporters include  Licadho funded by USAID and the Cambodian Center for Independent Media (CCIM) funded by US National Endowment for Democracy-subsidiary the International Republican Institute, Open Society, the British and Australian embassies as well as Canada Fund.

Were Russia doing any of this in the United States, Washington’s reaction would undoubtedly be swift and severe, and backed with full support from supposed “rights advocates” like Phil Robertson and Human Rights Watch. There would shuttered organisations, arrests, charges, trials and lengthy sentences handed out. Yet the United States openly subjects other nations to abuse it would not tolerate itself.

The US reaction to the trial for former RFA employees and its overall attempts to condemn and reverse Cambodia’s widening crackdown on foreign interference in its own internal political affairs is an exercise in both hypocrisy and “might makes right.” Unfortunately for Washington, the potency of that reaction is diminishing in direct proportion to its diminishing “might” across Asia-Pacific.

Washington’s involvement in Cambodia in the first place is aimed not only at co-opting the Cambodian people, their territory and resources, but also at surrounding China with either US client states or failed states unable to aid Beijing in its continued and steady rise upon the global stage.

Washington’s recent setbacks are demonstrative of how this policy of encirclement and containment is failing. While compromised “rights advocates” like Robertson attempt to portray Cambodia’s recent trial as a miscarriage of justice, it in truth is indicative of a wider trend reversing injustice imposed upon nation’s and their sovereignty by Washington and its proxies who have, until recently, operated largely with impunity.

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Joseph Thomas is chief editor of Thailand-based geopolitical journal, The New Atlas and contributor to the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.

Featured image is from NEO