What, if anything, is constraining the Trump Justice Department in its dangerous war on leakers, whistleblowers, and journalists? The Knight First Amendment Institute at Columbia University and Freedom of the Press Foundation, where I’m executive director, are teaming up to find out.

On Wednesday, we filed a Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the Justice Department and several intelligence agencies, demanding records revealing how the government collects information on journalists and targets them with surveillance.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions has said criminal investigations into the sources of journalists are up 800 percent. He’s vowed to“revisit” the Justice Department’s media guidelines that restrict how the US government can conduct surveillance on reporters. President Trump reportedly told ex-FBI director James Comey to “jail” journalists. And so far, Sessions has refused to rule out imprisoning reporters for doing their jobs.

Given these developments,

“it is urgent that the government disclose records clarifying the precise limitations placed on its surveillance powers to protect the freedoms of speech, association, and the press,” our lawsuit states. “The public has a right to know those limitations and to know whether the government is in fact complying with them.”

So, we’ve demanded that the Justice Department—along with the FBI, DNI, NSA, and CIA—hand over any “documents concerning limitations imposed upon any of the government’s investigative authorities by the First Amendment and documents concerning limitations on the government’s investigative activities to obtain or use records or information of or about members of the news media.”

This information could not be more more crucial for the public’s understanding, given how so many Justice Department leak investigations tread on First Amendment interests. In 2013, after a significant public backlash against the Obama Justice Department’s surveillance of journalists, the Justice Department unveiled new “media guidelines” that supposedly restrict the government from surveilling reporters in all but extreme cases.

It was seemingly a win for press freedom, but quietly, Obama’s Justice Department exempted its use of National Security Letters—secret surveillance demands from the FBI for information like call records that do not require a judge’s sign off—from its media guidelines, essentially allowing the government to avoid the media guidelines altogether if it conducted investigations under the guise of “national security” (which, in practice, would encapsulate virtually all leak investigations anyways).

Instead of the normal media guidelines, the FBI apparently had separate—and secret—rules for using National Security Letters to target journalists. Two years ago, Freedom of the Press Foundation attempted to force the Justice Department to release these secret rules as well. While we weren’t successful then, The Intercept published a leaked document from the FBI showing the 2013 version of these secret rules, and how they could be used to completely circumvent the media guidelines.

It was an important story, yet the government refused in court to even acknowledge the leaked document, and we still have no idea what the current rules are or how they are being interpreted and used.

National Security Letters and similar tools are now available to the Trump administration as it ramps up Obama’s already historic level of leak prosecutions. Perhaps worse, the Trump administration has also hinted it wants to change the media guidelines themselves. We still have no information about what it plans on doing—or even if it is following the current rules.

Our Freedom of Information Act lawsuit aims to change that. There’s no reason for the Justice Department or other intelligence agencies to keep secret any rules or potential restrictions they internally have to prevent abuses of the First Amendment. And the only way any of these rules and restrictions can be enforced is if the public has access to them.

Trevor Timm is the executive director of Freedom of the Press Foundation, a non-profit organization that supports and defends journalism dedicated to transparency and accountability. He is also a twice-weekly columnist for the Guardian, where he writes about privacy, national security, and the media.

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The Russia-Gate “Foreign Agent” campaign directed against RT America and Sputnik has now been extended to Moscow’s closest ally, The People’s Republic of China: 

“The US-China Economic and Security Review Commission said that Beijing has rapidly expanded its overseas media presence to promote a positive view of the rising Asian nation and the ruling Communist Party, even as it has tightened its control over media and online content at home and increased restrictions on foreign journalists in China” (South China Morning Post, November 30, 2017)

Will China’s State media be categorized as a “Foreign Agent”?

According to AP, quoting “Congressional advisers”:

All staff of Chinese state-run media outlets in the United States should be required to register with the government as foreign agents as they may be supporting Chinese intelligence gathering and “information warfare”” 

According to Sputnik, the measure is largely directed against China’s Xinhua news agency, which is accused by the US Congressional commission of gathering intelligence “on behalf of Chinese leadership”.

According to the USCC report

“Xinhua serves some of the functions of an intelligence agency by gathering information and producing classified reports for the Chinese leadership on both domestic and international events,”

This initiative has far-reaching geopolitical implications. Why now? US-China Confrontation at the UN Security Council concerning North Korea?

Will this recommendation, were it be applied, have an impact on US-China bilateral relations?

Will it contribute to reinforcing Beijing’s relations with Moscow to the detriment of Washington? Inevitably, this measure will have an impact on international diplomacy.

If it were to be applied, Beijing would in all likelihood respond with “similar measures” directed against US media conglomerates operating in China:

The bipartisan commission recommends that Congress strengthen the Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA, which requires registration by people or companies disseminating information in the US on behalf of foreign governments, political parties and other “foreign principals”. The law is applied to foreign lobbying efforts, but the Justice Department has also required registration by media outlets funded by foreign governments. Associated Press report in SCMP. November 30, 2017

Featured image is from South China Morning Post.

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We Will Not be Complicit in Israel’s System of Apartheid

November 30th, 2017 by Sawsan Bastawy

This morning in Hebron, Palestinian children will walk to school, as they do every morning, via a series of checkpoints, watched by heavily armed Israeli soldiers.

In East Jerusalem, several hundred teachers will attempt to do the same, but many will be held at checkpoints for several hours, and some will not make it to school in time to teach.

In the northern West Bank governorate of Nablus, shepherds will herd their livestock under the continual threat of violence from Israeli settlers and soldiers on land that belongs to them, but which they are denied from building on, forcing them to live in caves.

In the Naqab desert, Bedouin residents of Umm al-Hiran will wake up again to the reality of life in one of more than 40 Palestinian villages in the Naqab that the state of Israel refuses to recognise, cut off from all basic services and facing the ongoing threat of demolition to be replaced by a village that will be for Jewish citizens only.

In Gaza, with almost no electricity or clean water supply, many families whose homes were never rebuilt following Israel’s 2014 offensive will take shelter from the bitter winter in temporary, makeshift homes.

And in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan, Palestinian refugees will wake up to life in a cramped refugee camp with limited facilities, many still holding among their possessions the keys to the homes from which they and their families were expelled in 1948.

In 2005, on behalf of all of these Palestinian communities, a coalition of 170 Palestinian civil society organisations launched a call for the world to show support and solidarity by implementing a campaign of boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS) until Israel ends its occupation of the West Bank, East Jerusalem and Gaza; recognises the rights of Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality under the law; and recognises the right to return of Palestinian refugees.

BDS is now a vibrant global movement made up of trade unions, academic associations, churches and grassroots movements across the world.

The call for BDS was launched because of the reality that the international community, including the British government, has consistently failed to take action to meaningfully hold Israel to account despite passing resolutions and issuing statements condemning Israel’s violations of international law.

Instead of holding Israel to account, many governments provide Israel with political, diplomatic, military and financial support. When those in power refuse to act to stop this injustice, what is needed is a global citizens’ response.

Israel has identified the growing strength of the BDS movement as a major strategic threat and has launched a global effort to suppress BDS activity.

Alongside the introduction of draconian laws at home, curtailing the activities of human rights activists supporting the campaign, it has worked with allies abroad to see through the introduction of laws suppressing protest.

The British government introduced regulations last November that sought to curtail the right of local government pension funds to divest from companies complicit in the occupation. PSC successfully challenged these regulations, winning a judicial review in June of this year which ruled them unlawful.

Alongside this use of “lawfare” has been the propounding of a narrative that seeks to reframe support for BDS as an act that is divisive, hostile and bigoted. Two key arguments are routinely used to support this narrative.

The first is to deny the legitimacy of any analogy between South African apartheid and Israeli apartheid. Israel, we are told, is a beacon of justice and equality due to the fact that Palestinian citizens can vote, hold seats in the Knesset, and sit in the judiciary.

In reality Adalah, the Israeli legal rights centre, has identified over 65 laws that specifically discriminate against Palestinian citizens of Israel, who make up 20 per cent of the population.

One such law is the Acceptance to Communities Law that legitimises Jewish towns in Israel of a certain size in excluding Palestinians from residing within them. Forty-three percent of Israeli towns have residential admission committees that filter out applicants on the grounds of “incompatibility with the social and cultural fabric.”

These committees are, in the words of Human Rights Watch, “used to exclude Arabs from living in rural Jewish communities.”

The second line of argument is that BDS targets the Israeli state and that the problem is not the state itself, but Benjamin Netanyahu’s government.

Rather than supporting BDS, we are told we should be supporting progressive forces such as the Israeli Labour Party which opposes Israel’s illegitimate policies towards the Palestinians.

This line of argument ignores the reality of how the Israeli Labour Party has followed the rightward drift in the Israeli political mainstream in positioning for votes.

It also ignores the reality that the Israeli Labour Party has been more than a willing accomplice in Israel’s settlement programme. Former Israeli premier Ehud Barak complained only last month that the state ceremony celebrating 50 years of the occupation of the West Bank did not give enough credit to Labour governments who “consolidated and led the settlement enterprise for a decade.”

So on this international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people, our message is one of respect for the call made by the Palestinians themselves.

We respect the Palestinian call for BDS because we believe that to do otherwise, to continue to provide cultural, economic and political support for Israel’s system of apartheid is to be complicit.

BDS is not a hostile action towards a people, but is one of non-co-operation with a system which is profoundly unjust and immoral.

The conflict between Palestine and Israel, to which we all seek an end, is one rooted in the unjust domination of one people over another, a domination supported by claims of ethnic, cultural or religious entitlement. This is where the analogy with South African apartheid holds true.

As the South African theologian Desmond Tutu said:

“If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor.”

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UPDATED below

Today the U.S. State Department hit the ball of hypocrisy out of the park.

It remarked that “legislation that allows .. to label media outlets as ‘foreign agents’ … presents yet another threat to free media”.  It noted that “freedom of expression—including speech and media … is a universal human rights obligation“. 

The remark came after the U.S. Department of Justice required the Russian outlet RT America to register as a ‘foreign agent’ under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA). RT registered as ordered on November 13.

But the State Department statement was NOT in response to the DOJ requirement against RT. The State Department reacted to a new Russian law that was issued in response to the demand against RT. The new Russian law is a mirror to the U.S. FARA law. It demands that foreign media which are active in Russia register as ‘foreign agents’. (The EU poodles followed the State Department nonsense with an equally dumb statement.)

With its criticism of the Russian version of the FARA law while ignoring the U.S. FARA action against RT, the State Department confirmed the allegations of hypocrisy RT and other media have raised against the U.S. government.

The whole issue started with the notable liar James Clapper under the Obama  administration. He and other ‘intelligence’ people found that RT was too truthful in its reporting to be allowed to inform the U.S. public. Publication of criticism of the U.S. government based on verifiable facts is seen as an unfriendly act which must be punished.

Congress and the U.S. Justice Department under the Trump administration followed up on that. FARA is originally NOT directed against foreign media. The Trump Justice Department circumvented the spirit of the law to apply it to RT.

The Russian government had warned several times that the application of FARA against RT would be followed up on with a similar requirement against U.S. media in Russia. The Trump administration ignored those warnings. It now condemns the Russian move.

Here is timeline of the relevant events:

Clapper calls for U.S. Information Agency ‘on steroids’ to counter Russian propaganda – Washington Times, Jan 5 2017

“We could do with having a USIA on steroids to fight this information war [with Russia] a lot more aggressively than we’re doing right now,” Director of National Intelligence James Clapper told members of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

“[Russia Today] was very active in promoting a particular point of view, disparaging our system, our alleged hypocrisy about human rights,” he said. “Whatever crack, fissure they could find in our tapestry, they would exploit it,” via the state-owned news network.

Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking – Office of the Director of National Intelligence, Jan 6 2017 – Annex I, originally published on 11 December 2012 by the Open Source Center

RT America TV, a Kremlin-financed channel operated from within the United States, has substantially expanded its repertoire of programming that highlights criticism of alleged US shortcomings in democracy and civil liberties.

RT aired a documentary about the Occupy Wall Street movement on 1, 2, and 4 November. RT framed the movement as a fight against “the ruling class” and described the current US political system as corrupt and dominated by corporations.

RT’s reports often characterize the United States as a “surveillance state” and allege widespread infringements of civil liberties, police brutality, and drone use.

RT has also focused on criticism of the US economic system, US currency policy, alleged Wall Street greed, and the US national debt.

RT is a leading media voice opposing Western intervention in the Syrian conflict and blaming the West for waging “information wars” against the Syrian Government.

Cicilline Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Close Russia Today Loophole – Congress, June 7 2017

U.S. Congressman David N. Cicilline (D-RI), who serves as co-chair of the Democratic Policy and Communications Committee (DPCC), and U.S. Congressman Matthew Gaetz (R-FL) today introduced legislation to close a loophole in foreign agent registration requirements that Russia Today exploited extensively during last year’s presidential election.

Justice Dept Asks Russia’s RT to Register as Foreign Agent – Newsmax, September 13 2017

RT said late Monday that the company that supplies all the services for its RT America channel was told by the DOJ in a letter that it is obligated to register under the Foreign Agents Registration Act, an act aimed at lobbyists and lawyers representing foreign political interests.

FARA specifically exempts US and foreign news organizations, and the DOJ focus on the company that supplies services for RT might be a way around that stipulation.

Russia to amend law to classify U.S. media ‘foreign agents’ – Reuters, Nov 10 2017

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia’s parliament warned on Friday some U.S. and other foreign media could be declared “foreign agents” and obliged to regularly declare full details of their funding, finances and staffing.

Russian lawmakers said the move was retaliation for a demand by the U.S. Department of Justice that Kremlin-backed TV station RT register in the United States as a “foreign agent”, something Moscow has said it regards as an unfriendly act.

Russia’s RT America registers as ‘foreign agent’ in U.S. – Reuters, Nov 13 2017

MOSCOW/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Kremlin-backed television station RT America registered Monday with the U.S. Department of Justice as a “foreign agent” in the United States, the outlet’s editor in chief said and the Department of Justice confirmed later in the day.

Russia warns U.S. media of possible foreign agent status – AP, Nov 16 2017

MOSCOW – Russia’s Justice Ministry has warned several U.S. government-funded news outlets they could be designated as foreign agents under a new bill that has yet to be fully approved.The bill, endorsed by Russia’s lower house on Wednesday, comes in response to U.S. demands that Russian state-funded RT TV register as a foreign agent. It needs to be approved by the upper house and signed by President Vladimir Putin to become law.

Russian president Putin signs foreign agent media law to match U.S. action – USA Today, Nov 25 2017

Russian President Vladimir Putin signed into law Saturday a new bill designating international media outlets as foreign agents in retaliation for a similar measure taken by the U.S. Department of Justice against the state-funded RT television.

EU Criticizes Russia’s ‘Foreign Agents’ Media Law – RFLRF, Nov 26 2017

BRUSSELS — The European Union has criticized legislation signed by President Vladimir Putin that empowers Russia’s government to designate media outlets receiving funding from abroad as “foreign agents” and impose sanctions against them.

Maja Kocijancic, the spokesperson of the European Commission for Neighborhood Policy and Enlargement Negotiations, said in a November 26 statement that the “legislation goes against Russia’s human rights obligations and commitments.”

Russia’s Restrictive Media-Focused Legislation – U.S. State Department – Nov 28 2017

New Russian legislation that allows the Ministry of Justice to label media outlets as “foreign agents” and to monitor or block certain internet activity presents yet another threat to free media in Russia. Freedom of expression—including speech and media which a government may find inconvenient—is a universal human rights obligation Russia has pledged to uphold.

With a few words less the statement by the State Department would have gained universality. It would have made perfect sense. See here for a corrected version:

Unfortunately the State Department’s spokesperson added some verbose lamenting about one specific country. It thereby exposed itself to the very criticism the U.S. government strives to suppress.


UPDATE – Nov 30 0:50am

As consequence of the FARA designation of RT‘s U.S. production company RT is now losing access to the Congressional Gallery. Congress Gallery access is in turn required to get White House press credentials. RT is now likely to lose those too.

Meanwhile a consultative Congress commission is pressing to designate the Chinese news-agency XINHUA as ‘foreign agent’. It also wants all staff of XINHUA to register as such. That would make it nearly impossible for freelancer and others who work for multiple media to continue with their XINHUA gigs.

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Monetary Imperialism

November 30th, 2017 by Prof Michael Hudson

In theory, the global financial system is supposed to help every country gain. Mainstream teaching of international finance, trade and “foreign aid” (defined simply as any government credit) depicts an almost utopian system uplifting all countries, not stripping their assets and imposing austerity. The reality since World War I is that the United States has taken the lead in shaping the international financial system to promote gains for its own bankers, farm exporters, its oil and gas sector, and buyers of foreign resources – and most of all, to collect on debts owed to it.

Each time this global system has broken down over the past century, the major destabilizing force has been American over-reach and the drive by its bankers and bondholders for short-term gains. The dollar-centered financial system is leaving more industrial as well as Third World countries debt-strapped. Its three institutional pillars – the International Monetary Fund (IMF), World Bank and World Trade Organization – have imposed monetary, fiscal and financial dependency, most recently by the post-Soviet Baltics, Greece and the rest of southern Europe. The resulting strains are now reaching the point where they are breaking apart the arrangements put in place after World War II.

The most destructive fiction of international finance is that all debts can be paid, and indeed should be paid, even when this tears economies apart by forcing them into austerity – to save bondholders, not labor and industry. Yet European countries, and especially Germany, have shied from pressing for a more balanced global economy that would foster growth for all countries and avoid the current economic slowdown and debt deflation.

Imposing Austerity on Germany After World War I

After World War I the U.S. Government deviated from what had been traditional European policy – forgiving military support costs among the victors. U.S. officials demanded payment for the arms shipped to its Allies in the years before America entered the Great War in 1917. The Allies turned to Germany for reparations to pay these debts. Headed by John Maynard Keynes, British diplomats sought to clean their hands of responsibility for the consequences by promising that all the money they received from Germany would simply be forwarded to the U.S. Treasury.

The sums were so unpayably high that Germany was driven into austerity and collapse. The nation suffered hyperinflation as the Reichsbank printed marks to throw onto the foreign exchange also were pushed into financial collapse. The debt deflation was much like that of Third World debtors a generation ago, and today’s southern European PIIGS (Portugal, Ireland, Italy, Greece and Spain).

In a pretense that the reparations and Inter-Ally debt tangle could be made solvent, a triangular flow of payments was facilitated by a convoluted U.S. easy-money policy. American investors sought high returns by buying German local bonds; German municipalities turned over the dollars they received to the Reichsbank for domestic currency; and the Reichsbank used this foreign exchange to pay reparations to Britain and other Allies, enabling these countries to pay the United States what it demanded.

But solutions based on attempts to keep debts of such magnitude in place by lending debtors the money to pay can only be temporary. The U.S. Federal Reserve sustained this triangular flow by holding down U.S. interest rates. This made it attractive for American investors to buy German municipal bonds and other high-yielding debts. It also deterred Wall Street from drawing funds away from Britain, which would have driven its economy deeper into austerity after the General Strike of 1926. But domestically, low U.S. interest rates and easy credit spurred a real estate bubble, followed by a stock market bubble that burst in 1929. The triangular flow of payments broke down in 1931, leaving a legacy of debt deflation burdening the U.S. and European economies. The Great Depression lasted until outbreak of World War II in 1939.

Planning for the postwar period took shape as the war neared its end. U.S. diplomats had learned an important lesson. This time there would be no arms debts or reparations. The global financial system would be stabilized – on the basis of gold, and on creditor-oriented rules. By the end of the 1940s the Untied States held some 75 percent of the world’s monetary gold stock. That established the U.S. dollar as the world’s reserve currency, freely convertible into gold at the 1933 parity of $35 an ounce.

It also implied that once again, as in the 1920s, European balance-of-payments deficits would have to be financed mainly by the United States. Recycling of official government credit was to be filtered via the IMF and World Bank, in which U.S. diplomats alone had veto power to reject policies they found not to be in their national interest. International financial “stability” thus became a global control mechanism – to maintain creditor-oriented rules centered in the United States.

To obtain gold or dollars as backing for their own domestic monetary systems, other countries had to follow the trade and investment rules laid down by the United States. These rules called for relinquishing control over capital movements or restrictions on foreign takeovers of natural resources and the public domain as well as local industry and banking systems.

By 1950 the dollar-based global economic system had become increasingly untenable. Gold continued flowing to the United States, strengthening the dollar – until the Korean War reversed matters. From 1951 through 1971 the United States ran a deepening balance-of-payments deficit, which stemmed entirely from overseas military spending. (Private-sector trade and investment was steadily in balance.)

U.S. Treasury Debt Replaces the Gold Exchange Standard

The foreign military spending that helped return American gold to Europe became a flood as the Vietnam War spread across Asia after 1962. The Treasury kept the dollar’s exchange rate stable by selling gold via the London Gold Pool at $35 an ounce. Finally, in August 1971, President Nixon stopped the drain by closing the Gold Pool and halting gold convertibility of the dollar.

There was no plan for what would happen next. Most observers viewed cutting the dollar’s link to gold as a defeat for the United States. It certainly ended the postwar financial order as designed in 1944. But what happened next was just the reverse of a defeat. No longer able to buy gold after 1971 (without inciting strong U.S. disapproval), central banks found only one asset in which to hold their balance-of-payments surpluses: U.S. Treasury debt. These securities no longer were “as good as gold.” The United States issued them at will to finance soaring domestic budget deficits.

By shifting from gold to the dollars thrown off by the U.S. balance-of-payments deficit, the foundation of global monetary reserves came to be dominated by the U.S. military spending that continued to flood foreign central banks with surplus dollars. America’s balance-of-payments deficit thus supplied the dollars that financed its domestic budget deficits and bank credit creation – via foreign central banks recycling U.S. foreign spending back to the U.S. Treasury.

In effect, foreign countries have been taxed without representation over how their loans to the U.S. Government are employed. European central banks were not yet prepared to create their own sovereign wealth funds to invest their dollar inflows in foreign stocks or direct ownership of businesses. They simply used their trade and payments surpluses to finance the U.S. budget deficit. This enabled the Treasury to cut domestic tax rates, above all on the highest income brackets.

U.S. monetary imperialism confronted European and Asian central banks with a dilemma that remains today: If they do not turn around and buy dollar assets, their currencies will rise against the dollar. Buying U.S. Treasury securities is the only practical way to stabilize their exchange rates – and in so doing, to prevent their exports from rising in dollar terms and being priced out of dollar-area markets.

The system may have developed without foresight, but quickly became deliberate. My book Super Imperialism sold best in the Washington DC area, and I was given a large contract through the Hudson Institute to explain to the Defense Department exactly how this extractive financial system worked. I was brought to the White House to explain it, and U.S. geostrategists used my book as a how-to-do-it manual (not my original intention).

Attention soon focused on the oil-exporting countries. After the U.S. quadrupled its grain export prices shortly after the 1971 gold suspension, the oil-exporting countries quadrupled their oil prices. I was informed at a White House meeting that U.S. diplomats had let Saudi Arabia and other Arab countries know that they could charge as much as they wanted for their oil, but that the United States would treat it as an act of war not to keep their oil proceeds in U.S. dollar assets.

This was the point at which the international financial system became explicitly extractive. But it took until 2009, for the first attempt to withdraw from this system to occur. A conference was convened at Yekaterinburg, Russia, by the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO). The alliance comprised Russia, China, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, Kirghizstan and Uzbekistan, with observer status for Iran, India, Pakistan and Mongolia. U.S. officials asked to attend as observers, but their request was rejected.

The U.S. response has been to extend the new Cold War into the financial sector, rewriting the rules of international finance to benefit the United States and its satellites – and to deter countries from seeking to break free from America’s financial free ride.

The IMF Changes Its Rules to Isolate Russia and China

Aiming to isolate Russia and China, the Obama Administration’s confrontational diplomacy has drawn the Bretton Woods institutions more tightly under US/NATO control. In so doing, it is disrupting the linkages put in place after World War II.

The U.S. plan was to hurt Russia’s economy so much that it would be ripe for regime change (“color revolution”). But the effect was to drive it eastward, away from Western Europe to consolidate its long-term relations with China and Central Asia. Pressing Europe to shift its oil and gas purchases to U.S. allies, U.S. sanctions have disrupted German and other European trade and investment with Russia and China. It also has meant lost opportunities for European farmers, other exporters and investors – and a flood of refugees from failed post-Soviet states drawn into the NATO orbit, most recently Ukraine.

To U.S. strategists, what made changing IMF rules urgent was Ukraine’s $3 billion debt falling due to Russia’s National Wealth Fund in December 2015. The IMF had long withheld credit to countries refusing to pay other governments. This policy aimed primarily at protecting the financial claims of the U.S. Government, which usually played a lead role in consortia with other governments and U.S. banks. But under American pressure the IMF changed its rules in January 2015. Henceforth, it announced, it would indeed be willing to provide credit to countries in arrears other governments – implicitly headed by China (which U.S. geostrategists consider to be their main long-term adversary), Russia and others that U.S. financial warriors might want to isolate in order to force neoliberal privatization policies.[1]

Article I of the IMF’s 1944-45 founding charter prohibits it from lending to a member engaged in civil war or at war with another member state, or for military purposes generally. An obvious reason for this rule is that such a country is unlikely to earn the foreign exchange to pay its debt. Bombing Ukraine’s own Donbass region in the East after its February 2014 coup d’état destroyed its export industry, mainly to Russia.

Withholding IMF credit could have been a lever to force adherence to the Minsk peace agreements, but U.S. diplomacy rejected that opportunity. When IMF head Christine Lagarde made a new loan to Ukraine in spring 2015, she merely expressed a verbal hope for peace. Ukrainian President Porochenko announced the next day that he would step up his civil war against the Russian-speaking population in eastern Ukraine. One and a half-billion dollars of the IMF loan were given to banker Ihor Kolomoiski and disappeared offshore, while the oligarch used his domestic money to finance an anti-Donbass army. A million refugees were driven east into Russia; others fled west via Poland as the economy and Ukraine’s currency plunged.

The IMF broke four of its rules by lending to Ukraine: (1) Not to lend to a country that has no visible means to pay back the loan (the “No More Argentinas” rule, adopted after the IMF’s disastrous 2001 loan to that country). (2) Not to lend to a country that repudiates its debt to official creditors (the rule originally intended to enforce payment to U.S.-based institutions). (3) Not to lend to a country at war – and indeed, destroying its export capacity and hence its balance-of-payments ability to pay back the loan. Finally (4), not to lend to a country unlikely to impose the IMF’s austerity “conditionalities.” Ukraine did agree to override democratic opposition and cut back pensions, but its junta proved too unstable to impose the austerity terms on which the IMF insisted.

U.S. Neoliberalism Promotes Privatization Carve-Ups of Debtor Countries

Since World War II the United States has used the Dollar Standard and its dominant role in the IMF and World Bank to steer trade and investment along lines benefiting its own economy. But now that the growth of China’s mixed economy has outstripped all others while Russia finally is beginning to recover, countries have the option of borrowing from the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and other non-U.S. consortia.

At stake is much more than just which nations will get the contracting and banking business. At issue is whether the philosophy of development will follow the classical path based on public infrastructure investment, or whether public sectors will be privatized and planning turned over to rent-seeking corporations.

What made the United States and Germany the leading industrial nations of the 20th century – and more recently, China – has been public investment in economic infrastructure. The aim was to lower the price of living and doing business by providing basic services on a subsidized basis or freely. By contrast, U.S. privatizers have brought debt leverage to bear on Third World countries, post-Soviet economies and most recently on southern Europe to force selloffs. Current plans to cap neoliberal policy with the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) and Transatlantic Free Trade Agreement (TAFTA) go so far as to disable government planning power to the financial and corporate sector.

American strategists evidently hoped that the threat of isolating Russia, China and other countries would bring them to heel if they tried to denominate trade and investment in their own national currencies. Their choice would be either to suffer sanctions like those imposed on Cuba and Iran, or to avoid exclusion by acquiescing in the dollarized financial and trade system and its drives to financialize their economies under U.S. control.

The problem with surrendering is that this Washington Consensus is extractive and lives in the short run, laying the seeds of financial dependency, debt-leveraged bubbles and subsequent debt deflation and austerity. The financial business plan is to carve out opportunities for price gouging and corporate profits. Today’s U.S.-sponsored trade and investment treaties would make governments pay fines equal to the amount that environmental and price regulations, laws protecting consumers and other social policies might reduce corporate profits. “Companies would be able to demand compensation from countries whose health, financial, environmental and other public interest policies they thought to be undermining their interests, and take governments before extrajudicial tribunals. These tribunals, organised under World Bank and UN rules, would have the power to order taxpayers to pay extensive compensation over legislation seen as undermining a company’s ‘expected future profits.’”[2]

This policy threat is splitting the world into pro-U.S. satellites and economies maintaining public infrastructure investment and what used to be viewed as progressive capitalism. U.S.-sponsored neoliberalism supporting its own financial and corporate interests has driven Russia, China and other members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization into an alliance to protect their economic self-sufficiency rather than becoming dependent on dollarized credit enmeshing them in foreign-currency debt.

At the center of today’s global split are the last few centuries of Western social and democratic reform. Seeking to follow the classical Western development path by retaining a mixed public/private economy, China, Russia and other nations find it easier to create new institutions such as the AIIB than to reform the dollar standard IMF and World Bank. Their choice is between short-term gains by dependency leading to austerity, or long-term development with independence and ultimate prosperity.

The price of resistance involves risking military or covert overthrow. Long before the Ukraine crisis, the United States has dropped the pretense of backing democracies. The die was cast in 1953 with the coup against Iran’s secular government, and the 1954 coup in Guatemala to oppose land reform. Support for client oligarchies and dictatorships in Latin America in the 1960 and ‘70s was highlighted by the overthrow of Allende in Chile and Operation Condor’s assassination program throughout the continent. Under President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, the United States has claimed that America’s status as the world’s “indispensible nation” entitled it back the recent coups in Honduras and Ukraine, and to sponsor the NATO attack on Libya and Syria, leaving Europe to absorb the refugees.

Germany’s Choice

This is not how the Enlightenment was supposed to evolve. The industrial takeoff of Germany and other European nations involved a long fight to free markets from the land rents and financial charges siphoned off by their landed aristocracies and bankers. That was the essence of classical 19th-century political economy and 20th-century social democracy. Most economists a century ago expected industrial capitalism to produce an economy of abundance, and democratic reforms to endorse public infrastructure investment and regulation to hold down the cost of living and doing business. But U.S. economic diplomacy now threatens to radically reverse this economic ideology by aiming to dismantle public regulatory power and impose a radical privatization agenda under the TTIP and TAFTA.

Textbook trade theory depicts trade and investment as helping poorer countries catch up, compelling them to survive by becoming more democratic to overcome their vested interests and oligarchies along the lines pioneered by European and North American industrial economies. Instead, the world is polarizing, not converging. The trans-Atlantic financial bubble has left a legacy of austerity since 2008. Debt-ridden economies are being told to cope with their downturns by privatizing their public domain.

The immediate question facing Germany and the rest of Western Europe is how long they will sacrifice their trade and investment opportunities with Russia, Iran and other economies by adhering to U.S.-sponsored sanctions. American intransigence threatens to force an either/or choice in what looms as a seismic geopolitical shift over the proper role of governments: Should their public sectors provide basic services and protect populations from predatory monopolies, rent extraction and financial polarization?

Today’s global financial crisis can be traced back to World War I and its aftermath. The principle that needed to be voiced was the right of sovereign nations not to be forced to sacrifice their economic survival on the altar of inter-government and private debt demands. The concept of nationhood embodied in the 1648 Treaty of Westphalia based international law on the principle of parity of sovereign states and non-interference. Without a global alternative to letting debt dynamics polarize societies and tear economies apart, monetary imperialism by creditor nations is inevitable.

The past century’s global fracture between creditor and debtor economies has interrupted what seemed to be Europe’s democratic destiny to empower governments to override financial and other rentier interests. Instead, the West is following U.S. diplomatic leadership back into the age when these interests ruled governments. This conflict between creditors and democracy, between oligarchy and economic growth (and indeed, survival) will remain the defining issue of our epoch over the next generation, and probably for the remainder of the 21st century.

This article is adapted from the German edition of Super-Imperialism (2017).

Michael Hudson is the author of Killing the Host (published in e-format by CounterPunch Books and in print by Islet). His new book is J is For Junk Economics.  He can be reached at [email protected]

Notes

[1] I provide the full background in “The IMF Changes its Rules to Isolate China and Russia,” December 9, 2015, available on michael-hudson.com, Naked CapitalismCounterpunch and Johnson’s Russia List.

[2] Lori M. Wallach, “The corporation invasion,” La Monde Diplomatique, December 2, 2013, http://mondediplo.com/2013/12/02tafta. She adds: “Some investors have a very broad conception of their rights. European companies have recently launched legal actions against the raising of the minimum wage in Egypt; Renco has fought anti-toxic emissions policy in Peru, using a free trade agreement between that country and the US to defend its right to pollute (6). US tobacco giant Philip Morris has launched cases against Uruguay and Australia over their anti-smoking legislation.” See also Yves Smith, “Germany Bucking Toxic, Nation-State Eroding Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Naked CapitalismJuly 17, 2014, and “Germany Turning Sour on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership,” Naked Capitalism,October 30, 2014.

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Hurricane Harvey made landfall in the United States in late August of this year, killing at least 90 people and devastating much of the region around Houston, Texas. Three months later, tens of thousands of people are homeless, home construction has hardly begun and the long-term health consequences of the disaster have yet to be tallied.

By some measures, Harvey is the worst natural disaster in the history of the United States, with estimated costs of nearly $200 billion, including flood damage to more than 300,000 homes. It was followed in September by Hurricane Irma, which struck the Caribbean and Florida, and Hurricane Maria, which destroyed much of the infrastructure and housing stock on the US island territory of Puerto Rico.

Each of these storms, fueled by higher temperatures caused by global warming, has exposed the criminal negligence of the American ruling class. Inadequate or nonexistent evacuation procedures and emergency shelters led to the deaths of some 250 people, according to official figures (the number of deaths in Puerto Rico is far higher than reported). Many more have had their lives upended, forcing them to fend for themselves after their homes were destroyed.

The American media and its talking heads have quickly moved on from any examination of the impact of Harvey, in keeping with the media’s response to every disaster that hits the United States. In one of the few recent articles documenting the ongoing catastrophe, the Houston Chronicle reported that three months after landfall, “more than 47,000 flood victims are living in hotels and motels across Southeast Texas and beyond, a testament to the glacial pace of housing recovery.”

These, the Chronicle states, “are the lucky ones.” The newspaper continues: “Tens of thousands more have cobbled together their own temporary arrangements, living with relatives, in tents or on mattresses in barely habitable homes.”

The meager government assistance made available to the tens of thousands without flood insurance in Texas is largely in the form of temporary subsidies for accommodation in motels through the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).

Those impacted must undergo a torturous application process for aid. According to the Chronicle, only about 9,500 families have qualified for additional housing assistance through FEMA beyond the temporary subsidies. Of these, “just one had been able to move back into a home repaired through FEMA’s program, and 223 were living in a trailer or mobile home.” The article adds that “no one has moved into a trailer, secured an apartment or seen repair work begin through the state’s interim housing programs.”

An investigation carried out by local TV station KHOU found that 22,208 students in the Houston area are considered homeless, with some districts reporting a homeless rate as high as 10 percent. It quoted child advocate Dr. Bob Sanborn: “This is something that could indeed affect this whole generation,” the “Harvey generation.”

Other consequences are harder to calculate. One report by National Public Radio noted that there are 25,000 people in the Houston area living with HIV and AIDS, and many had to go weeks without medication. “The hurricane closed pharmacies and clinics for a week—or longer. Floodwaters ruined drugs. People who fled to other states couldn’t get their prescriptions filled for HIV medicine.”

Then there is the environmental impact. The flooded waters were filled with E. coli, lead, arsenic and other toxins, impacting those living and working in the region.

Much of the construction in the Houston area is being performed by day laborers, mainly undocumented immigrants who live in constant fear of deportation, intensified by the policies of the Trump administration. They work without any legal protection, often in hazardous conditions.

The Associated Press reports that the National Day Laborer Organizing Network recently interviewed day workers in Houston and found that “most are routinely exposed to mold and contamination… About a quarter of the more than 350 workers surveyed said they had been denied wages promised for cleanup work after Harvey, sometimes by employers who abandoned them at work sites after they had completed a job.”

Similar conditions prevail in the other regions devastated by hurricanes this season. More than 40,000 people have applied for emergency food stamps in Florida, many waiting in long lines for the most meager assistance. The entire housing stock on the Caribbean island of Barbuda was wiped out, with investors and speculators swooping in to seize land.

Half of Puerto Rico remains without power more than two months after Hurricane Maria. Hundreds of thousands are still without clean water. The island has experienced what can only be described as a mass refugee crisis, with tens of thousands fleeing to the United States for housing and employment. The government is using the disaster as an opportunity to shut down or privatize schools and lay off teachers, as happened after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans in 2005.

Natural disasters expose the realty of social life. The United States is characterized by levels of social inequality that are without precedent. Three billionaires own as much wealth as the bottom half of the population. Last week, Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, increased his wealth to over $100 billion—three times the amount of aid approved by the US Congress for hurricane relief last month.

For the past four decades, the ruling elite, under Democrats and Republicans alike, has engaged in a single-minded policy of wealth redistribution, channeling resources from social programs and infrastructure to the balance sheets of corporations and the bank accounts of the rich. The consequences are innumerable, from the opioid crisis ravaging much of the country, to declining life expectancy, poverty-level wages and soaring debt for the majority of the population.

The main domestic priority of the ruling class is to pass a massive tax cut for the corporations and the wealthy, currently being fast-tracked through Congress. While the Republicans are spearheading this looting operation, they do so with the complicity of the entire political establishment.

The conditions in Houston exemplify the social reality that the Democrats and the media are attempting to bury by polluting public consciousness with the campaign over allegations of sexual harassment and the neo-McCarthyite hysteria over claims that Russia is “sowing divisions” within the United States. They hope to suppress opposition through a regime of Internet censorship.

Facts, however, are stubborn things. The devastation wrought by Harvey will have its impact in other ways, feeding into a growing mood of anger and opposition that has revolutionary implications.

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The Vanishing Submarine: Hope and Argentina’s ARA San Juan

November 30th, 2017 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

“Once a submariner, always a submariner.” Douglas Renken, Canadian submariner, CBC, Nov 26, 2017

A certain type of grief and moroseness accompanies deaths at sea. Not being naturally adapted to living in water, humankind has braved the aqueous environment, seeking to conquer it and tame its residents. At sea, the great battles of mythology are waged, its stories echoed in literary canons. Captain Ahab will pursue with fanatical fury Moby-Dick. Between sea and humanity, there will be a reckoning.

The vanishing act of the Argentine diesel-electric submarine ARA San Juan with its 44 crew would have sent a shudder of communal feeling through the navies of the world. The fate of the Russian nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine Kursk in 2000 and its 118 sailors, along with the bungles, the habitual secrecy and the cruelties of the aftermath, supplied an unwanted parallel.

The international commitment to identifying the missing sub was instant and genuine. Teams were assembled; crews deployed. Thirty ships and planes operated by 4,000 personnel from 13 countries have found their way into the mission to discover the whereabouts of the San Juan.

The Russians duly sent an Antonov An-128 cargo aircraft which arrived in Argentina on Friday, equipped with an unmanned submersible known as the Pantera Plus, capable of conducting sonar scans to depths of 1,000 metres. In addition to the Pantera Plus are deep sea divers and a diving doctor.

The US Navy’s Undersea Rescue Command has deployed a ship from Comodoro Rivadavia at Chubut’s port in the hope that its remotely operated mini-sub will be available to rescue any survivors.

The tale is unfolding as one between contesting truths and unresolved questions. The agony is dragged out. The odds keep being stacked. Supporters outside the Mar de Plata Naval Base sport placards of desperation in the face of crushing enormity:

“We are with you, brave ones of the ARA San Juan.” 

Daily reports suggest the prospect of faintest survival – even after days, tinctures of hope are held out for sailors. Despite only having a week’s supply of air, the Navy publicity machine is intent on keeping spirits up. The prospect of culpability is also lurking.

Weather challenges in identifying the missing submarine are announced with regularity. This is humanity versus nature, human-made endeavour frustrated by the elements of a broody Mother Nature.

“The bad weather conditions really are adverse,” claimed navy spokesman Enrique Balbi to a news conference.

This is far from all. The authorities reported a sound (US sources deemed it a “hydro-acoustic anomaly”) near the last recorded position of the San Juan on November 15 itself, suggesting that the submarine might well have suffered implosion. The source of this account came from the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO), which detected an “abnormal, singular, short, violent, non-nuclear event” in the South Atlantic.

This very fact piqued the curiosity of those wondering, notably among the relatives of the crew members, whether the San Juan was up to scratch in the safety department. Tragic negligence, an often fatal human trait in matters of military equipment, was suggested.

The account was also laced with unwanted, agonising suspense. The submarine had surfaced momentarily on returning from a standard mission to Ushuaia Naval Base to report a “short circuit” of its batteries occasioned by the entry of water into its snorkel. The questions began accumulating with grief and menace: Was the San Juan equipped with torpedoes? Was it fit for service, having been commissioned in 1985 and refitted in 2014?

As with any institutional response to tragedy, bureaucrats, even in the navy, must assume that procedures were followed. Rarely is a confession ever made at first instance that this was not done.

“The submarine doesn’t sail,” claimed Babi, if its entire operating system is not checked.  “If it set off… it was because it was in a condition to do so.”

The power of presumption.

Despite the unfolding calamity, Balbi maintains a posture of mild confidence moderated by fatalism, one he describes as “a stage of hope and hopelessness” – the worst of emotional twilight zones.

“We’ve been searching for 11 days but that does not remove the chance that they could still be alive in an extreme survival situation.”

In this state, the Navy remains committed to identifying the “firm evidence” necessary in detecting the San Juan.

Most terrifyingly of all, and most crushingly, is the numbing uncertainty, the impairing contingency. Relatives are divided between what might be a premature acceptance of death, and the sliver of a chance for miraculous survival. This piece of machinery, which risks, if it already has not become so, assuming the form of a 65-metre long mausoleum in the sea, may well entomb its residents for years to come.

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge.  He lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne. Email: [email protected]

Featured image is from Sky News.

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Washington Urged by Israel to Bomb Iran. John Kerry

November 30th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

On November 28, speaking at a Washington DC Forum on the nuclear threat in 2017 and global efforts to reduce the likelihood of their use, John Kerry said Israel, the Saudis and Egypt pushed the Obama administration to bomb Iran before the JCPOA nuclear deal was concluded.

Netanyahu was “genuinely agitating toward action,” Kerry stressed, hardly a surprise.

Iran is a sovereign independent state Washington doesn’t control, wanting its government replaced by a pro-Western one.

The Islamic Republic is Israel’s main regional rival, wanting it neutralized to advance its hegemonic ambitions – part of its longstanding plan (along with America) to redraw the Middle East map, including balkanizing its countries for easier control.

In 1982, Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs senior advisor Oded Yinon published a document titled “The Zionist Plan for the Middle East.”

It said for Israel to survive, it must dominate the region and become a world power.

Achieving its objective requires dividing Arab nations into small states – balkanizing them along ethnic and sectarian lines, controlling them as Israeli satellites.

The idea was modeled after the Ottoman Empire’s millet system under which local authorities governed confessional communities with separate ethnic identities.

Israel’s strategy involves preemptive wars against targeted countries, weakening, fragmenting, dividing and reconfiguring them under its control, US involvement vital for success, Israel unable to go it alone.

Image result for Israel Shahak

Israel Shahak (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

The late Israel Shahak (1933 – 2001) explained

“(t)he plan follow(ed) faithfully the geopolitical ideas current in Germany of 1890 – 1933, which were swallowed whole by Hitler and the Nazi movement, and determined their aims for East Europe.”

Yinon said

“(t)he existence, prosperity and steadfastness of (Israel) depend(s) upon its ability to adopt a new framework for its domestic and foreign affairs.”

“All the Arab States east of Israel are torn apart, broken up and riddled with inner conflicts even more than those of the Maghreb (Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Mauritania, and Western Sahara).”

All the Gulf states are “built upon a delicate house of sand in which there is only oil.” Jordan is Palestine, he said, Amman the same as Ramallah.

Regional “degeneration” must be exploited to serve Israeli interests. “(I)mmense opportunities for transforming the (region), and this we must do (to) survive as a state.”

Israel today operates by the same ideology Yinon advocated. Iraq under Saddam Hussein was eliminated as a regional rival.

Syria was supposed to be next. Russia’s intervention foiled Israel’s objective together with Washington’s. Regime change still remains their aim, the same one for Iran.

Israel is a regional menace, committed to eliminating Iranian sovereign independence and Hezbollah’s military capability.

It seeks US support in advancing its hegemonic objectives. It’s unclear if Trump will go along, despite his extreme hostility toward the Islamic Republic.

Had Hillary triumphed last November, war on Russia and Iran might have followed. During her 2008 presidential campaign, she urged “massive retaliation” if Iran attacked Israel, saying:

“I want the Iranians to know that if I’m president, we will attack Iran. In the next 10 years, during which they might foolishly consider launching an attack on Israel, we would be able to totally obliterate them.”

Iran hasn’t attacked another country in centuries. It threatens none now – not Israel or any others.

Yet war to eliminate its sovereignty remains an ominous possibility, why it’s military strength is essential – for defense, not offense.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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“We have been dreaming about this visit for a long time,” said Sudanese President Omar al-Bashir as he was being greeted by Russian President Vladimir Putin on Nov.23 at the Black Sea resort of Sochi. “We are thankful to Russia for its position on the international arena, including Russia’s position in the protection of Sudan,” he added. This is the first time the Sudanese leader visited Russia – the country he pins great hopes on.

The agenda included economic and military cooperation. The Sudanese leader said he had discussed modernization of the Sudanese military with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu before meeting President Putin.

We agreed with the defense minister that Russia will offer assistance to that,” he informed.

The sides agreed to increase the size of defense attaché staffs.

Omar al-Bashir asked the Russian president for “protection from the aggressive acts of the United States.” He expressed concern over the situation in the Red Sea, where he sees the US military presence as a problem, saying

we would like to discuss the issue from the point of view of the use of bases in the Red Sea.”

The Sudanese leader believes that the conflict in Syria is the result of US interference. The country would be lost if Russia did not lend a helping hand. The success in Syria boosts the Moscow’s reputation and makes other developing countries seek its friendship and cooperation.

According to President al-Bashir, Sudan could serve as a gateway to Africa for Russia. Khartoum is looking forward to cooperation with Moscow in oil exploration, transport and agriculture. In 2015, Russian company Siberian for Mining found large gold deposits in Sudan with only explored reserves standing at 46,000 tons and signed the biggest investment deal in the country’s history. Large gold deposits were discovered in two provinces – the Red Sea and the River Nile. The market value of the gold amounts to US $298 billion.

Al-Bashir, who rose to power in 1989, is on the International Criminal Court’s (ICC) wanted list for allegedly committing crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocide in Sudan’s Darfur region. ICC prosecutors issued two warrants for al-Bashir’s arrest, in 2009 and 2010. The Russian government recognizes al-Bashir as the legitimate president of the country. In 2016, Moscow formally pulled out from the ICC. The reason was the failure of the ICC “to… become a truly independent and respected body of international justice”. According to Moscow, the judicial body is ineffective and one-sided. Some provisions of the Rome Statute contradict Russia’s constitution, including the mandatory transfer of investigated persons to the ICC, the right to sue heads of state and government figures, and non-compliance with the principle that no one should be held accountable twice for the same crime (“ne bis in idem”).

The Russia-Sudan summit is demonstration of Moscow’s growing impact in Africa. Russia has more than 40 full-fledged diplomatic representations on the continent and has fixed special trade missions to help facilitate trade and investment in a number of African countries. Russia has a special relationship with South Africa. Both countries cooperate within the framework of BRICS. Egypt, a traditional US ally, has shifted sides and allied with Russia since President Sisi took power. Russia’s relations with the countries of the continent are deepening. This is facilitated by negotiations at the highest level. Relations develop with leading regional associations, including the African Union.

The last couple of years have seen a rise in Russia–Africa trade, with aggregate turnover reaching $14.5 billion in 2016, up by $3.4 billion year-on-year. The bulk of it ($10.1 billion) was done by four countries, including Egypt ($4.16 billion), Algeria ($3.98 billion), Morocco ($ 1.29 billion) and South Africa ($718 million).

28 out of 55 African nations boast growing trade with Russia, with Ethiopia, Cameroon, Angola, Sudan and Zimbabwe leading the trend. According to the Eurasian Economic Commission, Africa was the only region to have expanded its trade turnover with Russia in 2016 (unlike the EU, MERCOSUR, APEC, and others).

Nuclear power development options in Africa are now a hot topic, with relevant agreements already signed with Sudan, Zambia, Morocco, South Africa and other countries. Africa is a promising market for Russian grain and agricultural machinery, with the country’s wheat exports heading to Morocco, South Africa, Libya, Kenya, Sudan, Nigeria and Egypt. Sudan, Congo and Senegal have recently indicated interest in pursuing joint oil and gas projects. Russian business holds a leading position in mineral exploration (bauxite, gold, and copper, and cobalt, and diamonds, and many more). Russian diamond-mining company ALROSA is active in South Africa, Sierra Leone, Namibia, and Angola (where it reportedly controls 60% of all extracted diamonds). An agreement with the African partners on economic and trade cooperation in order to avoid double taxation and protection of intellectual property is on the agenda.

Russia is a major supplier of arms to both North and sub-Saharan Africa. Russia continues to gain ground in North Africa, boosting its military exports to Algeria and Egypt while strengthening economic ties with Morocco and Tunisia. Russian arms are an increasingly popular alternative to US weaponry. Moscow’s historically strong arms trade with African countries has been growing in recent years, despite tough competition. Russia ranks first in arms imports to sub-Saharan Africa accounting for 30% of all supplies. Missiles, artillery, small arms, and aircraft are key Russia’s export items to Africa, with helicopters taking an increasingly important share.

There is something more to promote the Russia-Africa rapprochement. They have a common interest in the formation of a just and democratic world order, based on collective approach to the resolution of international problems and the superiority of international law. Both Russia and Africa, reject the unipolar model, the attempts of one country or a limited number of countries to impose their will on the rest of the world. Sudan is a good example of an African country getting closer to Russia in response to the pressure from the West. It seeks new partners to counter the diktat of the United States. Developing ties with Moscow offers such an opportunity.

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Once again, the Arab League woke up from its deep slumber on November 19th 2017. The League was in a deep paralyzing sleep despite the urgent need for its duties to deal and to solve the issues inflicting the Arab World such as the threat of terrorist groups, the Israeli brute oppression of Palestinian Arabs and the usurping of their farm land to build Israeli colonies, the starving siege against Gaza Strip Palestinians, the Saudi/Qatari conflict, and the Saudi aggression against Yemen; all are urgent crises within the Arab World in need of resolutions.

This urgent sudden new breath of life into the League was the result of a Saudi demand. The Saudis were struck with fear by a ballistic missile hitting the Saudi capital; Riyadh. The missile, expected to be the first of many to come, was fired by Houthi Yemeni forces as an expected self-defense reaction to the Saudi three years destructive bombardment of their country.

According to this Saudi request, the Arab Foreign Ministers in the League had totally ignored all the political and humanitarian problems spread all over the Arab World and had focused only on what they claimed to be an Iranian interference in the internal Arab affairs.

As accustomed by all the past meetings where the Arab League did not produce any real workable resolution to any problem, this meeting as well produced only a declaration openly condemning Iran and Hezbollah for what they claimed as the Iranian interference and threat to the Arab national security, demanding that Iran reconsider its foreign policies within the region, and threatening to resort to the United Nations.

Since its founding, the Arab League had never produced a decision that met the aspiration of the Arab World to resolve any issue in its issues. On the contrary, its decisions and declarations were always random and empty of real substance and unable to resolve any problem. Many of its decisions came out as obstacles to any possible solution to many of the Arab crisis starting with the Palestinian cause up to this very minute.

Rather than uniting the Arab World and to resolve its internal conflicts, the decisions of the Arab League were divisive, encouraged the aggression of some Arab countries against others, and punished other countries by revoking their membership in the League. Just to mention few examples, in 1990 when South and North Yemen united into Republic of Yemen with a unified parliament, the Arab League revoked its membership. The League had also revoked the membership of the Libyan Jamahiriya (republic) in 2011 demanding the government to secure peace when the American/Qatari armed terrorists spread havoc in the country under the guise of the Arab Spring. In the same year the League also revoked Syrian membership. Syria was one of the founding members of the League in 1945.

Many of the League’s decisions had devastating impact on the future of some Arab countries. These decisions gave false legality to some Arab leaders to wage wars against other Arab countries. Such decisions had isolated Syria and facilitated the seven-years terrorist war against the Syrian government that was faced with the most brutal terrorist attacks, yet it had defeated terror and stopped it from spreading into the region. Other decisions had also devastated Libya and turned it into a failing state impregnated with many terrorist groups. The League had also blessed what is called the Saudi coalition and its devastating war against Yemen murdering and starving besieged women and children.

Similar to what Israel has been doing to the Palestinians, Saudi Arabia and its mercenary coalition have waged war against Yemen since March 2016, and has murdered thousands of women and children and made other thousands refugees in their own country. This Saudi coalition is imposing a siege by land, air and sea causing humanitarian crisis with food and medical shortages.

Those gathered Arab foreign ministers should be ashamed of themselves when compared with the foreign -non-Arab- humanitarian organizations, who are exerting great efforts to alleviate the suffering of the Yemeni people and to lift the siege against them. Those Arab foreign ministers did not even spell one word about the Yemeni suffering and did not offer any mediation or any resolution to end this war and to resolve this conflict.

What these ministers are not aware of, or maybe they are trying to ignore, the fact that all the intra-Arab crises and wars are mere series in the Zionist Great Israel Project extending from Nile to Euphrates. This Zionist Project aims basically to divide the Arab World into small weak statelets and emptying the region from its local indigenous residents either through brutal genocides or ethnic cleansing and eviction to other countries.

Israel and the USA, and alas, with the full partnership of Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Bahrain, as many evidences had proved, had created, armed, and financed terrorist groups (ISIS and its offshoots) into the terrorist Islamic Khalifate project to execute this Zionist project.

As the Arab League did not convene to defend the Palestinian Cause and to break the siege against the Gaza Strip, it did not convene either to form a united Arab military force to fight and defeat ISIS terrorist groups, who destroyed Syria, Iraq and threatened Lebanon, and who had slain their Arab brothers, raped their women and children, and sold them cheap in open slave markets. The League did not also convene when the Yemeni cities and civil infrastructures and civilians were continuously bombarded, starved, and died due to preventable diseases because of inhumane siege and lack of medical services.

When the terrorist Islamic Caliphate project failed and the Syrian, Iraqi, Hezbollah fighters supported by Iran and Russia were successful in defeating these terrorists and protected the whole region from the spread of terror, the Saudi-bribed Arab foreign ministers gathered in the League, instead of expressing gratitude, hastened to accuse Iran of threatening the regional security, and Hezbollah of terrorism. The governments of these ministers did not move one finger go fight ISIS but provided them with weapons, money and training facilities in their countries.

The Arab League was founded to unite and to strengthen the many Arab countries politically, economically and militarily to face foreign colonization, to free Palestine and to protect the region from the Zionist Greater Israel Project. Yet, alas, the League was turned into a stumbling block against any unifying regional economic project after its decisions were highjacked and controlled by the “Zionized” Saudi oil money. Instead of spending the trillions of oil money to strengthen the regional economy the Saudi family had spent, and still spending, trillions of dollars buying many tons of weapons from Britain, France and the US (the traditional foes of the Middle East) strengthening foreign economies, and using these weapons either to fight their Arab brothers or to store them in the desert until they rust and become obsolete.

Many Arab politicians and factions within the resistance axis rejected the League’s declaration and considered its accusation of alleged Iranian interference and violation of the regional security, and the accusation of Hezbollah of terrorism and of highjacking Lebanese foreign policy, an aggressive declaration against the whole Arab World. This declaration clearly exhibits the Saudi hegemony over the decisions and policies of the Arab League, that has become subservient to the demands of the Zionist World Order, who considers Iran and Hezbollah a real obstacle against the accomplishment of the Zionist Project.

Hezbollah is an integral core part of the Lebanese population. It is the only Arab force that inflicted defeats against the alleged undefeated Israeli army. Hezbollah was able to regain Lebanese sovereignty and independence when it kicked in 2000 the Israeli forces dragging their tails out of Lebanon. It also defeated and stopped the 2006 Israeli invasion attempt of south Lebanon destroying its many tanks and sending its rockets into the major Israeli towns. It is now serving as a strong military deterrent against any possible future further Israeli attack against Lebanon.

Hezbollah has been the only Arab force, who joined the Syrian army in the fight against ISIS until victory was achieved, while the rest of Arab armies slept cowardly in their own safe bunkers, while their Arab leaders offered training facilities and arms to the terrorist groups. Hezbollah had protected Lebanon first, Syria second, and the rest of the region third from ISIS when its leaders wisely discarded the self-defeating neutrality policy and rose to help and to rescue their Arab brothers and to protect the national security. Instead of offering thanks the Arab League joined the American Administration in calling Hezbollah a terrorist group.

Hezbollah’s victories against ISIS and deterrent against Israeli aggression, and the victories of the Syrian and Iraqi forces in defeating ISIS preserving the security of their countries and the security of the whole region would not have been accomplished without the help and the support of Iran, who provided its own intelligence and necessary military advice to defeat ISIS. We should also mention the role Russia had contributed in saving the region from ISIS and its offshoots.

Despite all this success the Arab League Secretariat; Ahmed Aboul Gheit, had the audacity to boldly accuse Iran of meddling in the Arab internal affairs and to declare what could be translated as “the missiles the Houthi Yemeni use to target Saudi Arabia are Iranian made …. Providing such missiles to the Houthis Iran is sending a message that ALL Arab capitals are within the Iranian firing range”he claimed.

Saudi Arabia is seeking to instigate political chaos in the region as a first step towards waging war against Iran with the help of Arab Gulf States and paid mercenary forces, under the protection of American military bases in the Gulf, to execute another phase in the Zionist Project aiming to control the strategic Red Sea entrances.

According to an agreement with Egypt, Saudi Arabia acquired the ownership of the Tiran and Sanafir Islands at the northern entrance of the Red Sea from the Gulf of Aqaba. As a result of its aggression against Yemen the Saudis are aiming to acquire control of the strategic Perim Island at the tip of the Bab al-Mandab Strait to control the southern exit of the Red Sea into the Gulf of Aden leading to the Indian Ocean. This also includes the usurpation of Yemeni rich oil and natural resources.

The long term real and covert goal of all these Zionized Saudi games is the liquidation and termination of the Palestinian cause; the core existential cause of the Arab World, and the destruction of the Arab resistance axis and to normalize Arab Israeli relations in what has been dubbed the American “deal of the century”. This deal is a planned temporary short-term new phase in the Zionist Project whose goals are first to broker a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinian Authority with the mandate of Jordan and Egypt, and second to normalize Israeli Arab relationship that include what is called “moderate” Arab regimes; gulf States, Jordan and Egypt, as a first step to form an Arab/Israeli military alliance to oppose the “Iranian threat”.

In the first step Egypt will be granted control over the Gaza Strip, Jordan will extend its mandate over parts of the West Bank, while Israel would maintain all its illegal colonies and grant Palestinians under its control some type of Israeli residency. To accomplish this the PA president; Mahmud Abbas, was summoned to Saudi Arabia where Mohammad bin Salman applied financial stick-or-carrot pressure on him to accept the deal. American president Trump had also hinted that his administration might close the PLO office in Washington if Abbas does not sit again at the negotiating table with Israel.

Delusional are those who expect Palestinians, who had been struggling against the Zionist Project for the last hundred years, would accept such a peace treaty, or that the Islamic and Arab World would accept the stupid concept that the Islamic Republic of Iran rather than the terrorist Jewish Israel is the main threat to the Middle Eastern region especially after the fact that the Islamic Republic had contributed greatly to save the region from terrorist ISIS that had been created and armed by Israel.

It is true that there might be some slight differences between the Islamic Republic and some Arabic Gulf states. Yet these differences had been artificially created by some Arab leaders with the encouragement of the American administration. Such differences could be easily resolved through peaceful negotiations. The conflict between the Arabs as a whole nation, plus the Islamic Republic, with Israel and it colonial project in the region is an existential conflict in its core and is posing a threat to the countries of the whole region without any exception.

The American administration and Israel with some of their puppet Arab leaders are no longer the main players determining the fate of the Middle Eastern region. The Zionist Greater Israel Project could no longer be easily implemented as they had planned in the past. The Arab resistance axis (Palestinian factions, Syria, Iraq, Hezbollah, Yemen, and some south African Arab countries) against the Zionist Project has grown, and gained more political and military experience, and had achieved support from main global powers (Islamic Republic of Iran, Russia, and China to a certain extent) that equals or might be stronger than World Zionist Organization and its stooges of NATO and American administration.

Finally, we should extend our sincere thanks to Saudi crown prince; Mohammad bin Salman, who had turned the Saudi regime upside down and declared without any doubt the kingdom’s betrayal to the Arab core existential cause; the Palestinian cause, an action that would, definitely, awaken many of the entranced Arab nations. And as the saying goes: “some good may come out of evil acts.”

Dr. Elias Akleh is an Arab American from a Palestinian descent. His family was evicted from Haifa, Palestine, after the 1948 Nakba when the Zionists stole his family’s property. Then the family was evicted again from the West Bank during the 1967 Naksah, after the Zionist, again, occupied the rest of Palestine.

Featured image is from the author.

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A few weeks ago, at 3:30 in the morning, the Manitoba government froze public transit funding to Winnipeg, equivalent to a $10-million cut. It was a quiet affair. The bill that it was contained in wasn’t ever brought to committee, meaning the public weren’t able to formally comment on it. But we’ve already started to see the brutal consequences: soon after, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman announced that the city will have to cut 59 routes, fire 120 bus drivers and increase fares by a considerable 25 cents.

Let’s be perfectly clear. This is class warfare.

The basic ability for people to get from one place to another – whether for work, family or leisure – has been totally gutted in recent decades. We’re now almost entirely reliant on the neoliberalized ‘solutions’ of privatized cars and airplanes, marked by rabid union-busting in the workplaces, the emitting of massive amounts of greenhouse gases and considerable financial costs to people who have no other reasonable option available to get around.

And it’s a vicious reminder of why the Left must focus on transportation as a key part in its struggle against rising austerity, inequality and climate change.

Social Inequalities and the Neglect of Public Transit

Car culture tends to be understood as a manifestation of desires for freedom and control. What’s often left out of such readings is who car culture denies freedom and control to. Here’s a quick and incomplete list: people with disabilities or other mobility issues, family and friends of incarcerated people in institutions outside city limits, elderly folks who rely on wheelchairs or walkers, or poor people without the means to afford car costs.

In turn, that disproportionately impacts Black, Indigenous and people of colour as well as trans, two spirit and non-binary people – who all far disproportionately experience poverty and other forms of oppression that make expensive transportation options considerably less accessible.

That actively denies people access to safe, affordable and efficient movement, itself undermining opportunities for jobs, relationships and leisure.

Even those who have access to such modes have to deal with the serious downsides: the psychological strain of rush hour and road rage, the financial costs of gasoline, maintenance, user fees and insurance, the risk of injury, air pollution and death due to collisions.

Associated with the issue is that many high-level solutions to climate change often prioritize growing technologies like electric vehicles, biofuel-powered airplanes and driverless trucks. Elon Musk is especially venerated as a saviour on this front – despite horrific labour practices, allegations of racism and underwhelming production numbers orbiting companies like Tesla.

Greenhouse gas emissions from the transportation sector will certainly reduce in coming years due to such technologies. But such a transition won’t do anything to increase access for aforementioned people, and will actually financially punish them as carbon pricing will reward those rich enough to afford new electric cars (leaving old gasoline-intensive cars for poorer folks to purchase due to lack of transit access and pay more at the pumps). Nor would it challenge the rampant profiteering by the likes of Musk, who seek to capitalize on markets and maintain inequality.

That is, unless the Left starts mobilizing around transportation as an incontestable public good that requires massive funding.

Massive Opportunity for Investments in Rail and Transit Infrastructure

It’s really not that hard of a sell to make. The language of “individual rights” is frequently exploited to defend right-wing ideals of property, wealth and colonialism. So let’s sensibly leave that aside. Instead, it may be helpful to approach the crisis from the position of creating a low-carbon, technologically advanced and economically just society, rooted by extensive transportation networks that prioritize accessibility and affordability for all.

Unions, co-ops, electoral parties and other leftist organizations can agitate for many things on this front.

On the sheer infrastructure side of things, that could include dedicated tracks for VIA Rail, allowing for electrified passenger rail to become an actual option for regular people as opposed to a tourist-oriented service that has to bow to the whims of freight rail companies like CP and CN. Or, build the long awaited Calgary-Edmonton and Windsor-Quebec City high-speed rail lines, setting the example for what’s possible across the country with greater investments.

Zooming in to the city or regional level, we could be talking about a coordinated combo of subways, light-rail transit, streetcars and dedicated bus lanes. These are not far-out ideas, but regular practice in places like China, Japan and much of Europe. Every layer of transportation adds flexibility and accessibility to the network.

Such systems would greatly undermine the need for commercial airplane: terrific news for climate change given the fierce resistance by airlines to carbon pricing and inevitable inability for fuel switching (unless you’re a true techno-utopian).

Infrastructure Investments Must Also Be Accompanied With Service Access

But it’s not enough just to build public transit infrastructure. In fact, politicians are very good at announcing considerable investments in transport infrastructure ahead of electoral season due to the sheer visibility of such spending.

Transit services actually have to be made accessible for the most oppressed peoples. At root, that means free or heavily discounted fares. There’s no way around it. Surprisingly, Calgary just set an example of what this can look like, offering a monthly transit pass for $5.05 to people making $12,500 or under. But that should be the baseline. As leftists, we must aim higher. In the era of catastrophic climate change, every municipality should be urgently transitioning residents to transit-oriented living.

As well, most assaults on transit drivers are due to fare disputes. Transit unions can and should be all over this.

Hugely increased ridership due to lowered fares would likely result in a considerable uptick in demand for more service, greatly boosting the case for a much larger and unionized staff of drivers, maintenance workers, cleaners and administrators. It’ll also surely result in a push for new transit lines, perhaps even helping to boost the profile of politicians.

A massive cultural shift would obviously have to take place. But most people are literally living paycheque-to-paycheque. Make a radical enough shift in costs and a critical mass will form.

Funding: Tax Havens, Military, Prisons, Roads

The obvious question is how it will be funded. It’s a depressingly predictable question from self-described leftists. In recent years, we’ve seen many progressives, especially the federal and provincial NDP, succumb to deficit and pocketbook politics, appealing to right-wing economic arguments to boost their supposed political viability. Leftists shouldn’t oppose projects because of costs, but because they’re unjust.

As recent revelations about the Paradise Papers have reminded us, there’s a simply enormous amount of wealth being hidden by extremely rich individuals and corporations in offshore tax havens.

Income tax rates are already stunningly low for the rich – to say nothing of deductions and subsidies like the capital gains tax rate – and recovering the estimated $10-billion to $15-billion in tax havens seems like a no-brainer item for leftists to push for. There’s also incredible money being invested in military, policing and incarceration that should immediately be diverted for other purposes.

Then there’s the actual savings from transitioning to a public system.

Each Canadian currently pays, on average, $437/month on car costs. Even with a very conservative estimation, that calculates to around $100-billion in additional funding for transit every single year. That’s to say nothing of enormous investments in roads and healthcare associated with injuries and pollution.

All of this could be diverted into public transportation, as well as other critical areas like housing, food and electricity generation. That pressure must come from the left, and result in truly public and participatory processes.

Otherwise, the likes of Elon Musk will rule the remainder of humanity’s short tenure on Earth. And that will be anything but just, sustainable or democratic.

James Wilt is a freelance journalist based in Winnipeg. He holds a journalism degree from Mount Royal University in Calgary, and contributes to DeSmog Canada, VICE, CBC Calgary, Alberta Oil, Fast Forward Weekly, Geez and Canadian Dimension magazine, where this article first appeared.

Featured image is from Socialist Project.

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In 2016, the last time accurate statistics were given, there were over 43 million housing units in America occupied by renters, up from 38 million in 2010.

One would surmise that the great housing bubble burst of 2008-09 pushed millions of Americans out of their own homes and into rental units. Obviously, when you have 38 or 43 million residential rental units, the absentee landlord owns most of those units of housing.

The old days of the two family home with the landlord living there and renting the other unit to help with the mortgage etc. are few and far between. Nowadays most rental units are corporate owned and run, with a smaller number owned by individual so called entrepreneurs … ALL looking to make a buck off of the sweat of another.

Having spent almost 2/3 of my baby boomer’s life living under the auspices of landlords, whether corporate or individual owned, it sucks! Why? Well, first off, with NO exceptions, the Land Lord (term taken right out of feudalism) always wishes to pay out as little money as they can get away with for the proper upkeep of the unit…period! I have lived in 9 different rental units spanning 45 years. In every instance the Land Lord had to be coerced to do the right thing. In 1968, after our family lived in three different rental units owned by Land Lords, we finally moved into an apartment building owned by one of the largest corporate Land Lords in NYC. It was a horror show! The building was never maintained properly, with building superintendents that came and went like the weather.

Then I got married, and my first wife and I moved into an absentee Land Lord owned two family home, with us in the basement apartment. Our Land Lord, a guy who did not even live in our state, did as little as possible to keep the place up to snuff. After a year there we had a baby, and could not save enough to buy a home, so we were forced to remain. One day, when my wife was giving our young son a bath, she screamed! There was this giant bug , followed by another one, crawling around the drain. I got rid of them and called the Land Lord. He said he would try to come by in a day or two, and he had some chemical that would do the trick. I asked him the name of it, and wrote it down. The next day I did some research and found that the chemical was cancer causing and outlawed in NY State. I called the Land Lord up and he laughed. “Well, it’s legal in New Jersey, so don’t worry about it kid.” Well, I told him that if he even showed up at our place with it, I would report him to the board of health etc.

My wife and I divorced a few years later and I moved into an upstairs attic apartment on Long Island to be nearer to my new business. The Land Lord was this sweet old widow, who had some rules I did not appreciate. Number one, I was not allowed to have any ‘ female guests’ overnight. Yeah, right!

The other thing was that if I put in a window A/C unit, I could not keep it there after the summer was over. She felt that it would cause a draft. What really pissed me off ( and I loved the apartment and the street I lived on) was that she controlled the thermostat , which was in her living room. Factor in that the radiators in the apartment were old and the pipes needed to be overhauled… meaning that the steam did not travel up to my place that well… meaning that I had to keep nagging her to raise the thermostat on bitter cold days.

What added fuel to the fire ( no pun intended ) was when she would go away for February to Florida, she would not allow me into her apartment. I had to get the old man next door, who she trusted to watch the place for her, to continually come by and raise the thermostat. On some bitter cold February nights, when it was too late to go and bother the old guy, I had to resort to turning on the oven to heat up my kitchen/ living room.

After 10 years of living in the aforementioned apartment, the old lady passed away and her family sold the house… meaning the new Land Lord wanted my apartment and me out. I had just met my future wife and we needed a bigger place for her, her five year old daughter and me.

We found an apartment in a nearby neighborhood owned by an absentee Land Lord who owned 19 homes in the area. The one we rented was the upstairs apartment in an old house. It was about 800 square feet and was advertised as a ‘ three bedroom’. Imagine that! Well, the rooms were so tiny that my future stepdaughter’s room would barely fit her bed… so much so that the door could not be closed. The kitchen had a refrigerator that I joked about saying that it had arthritis! The bathroom had a tub that needed the wall tiles to be replaced, and the stairway had NO banister. My 80 year old parents could not visit us for that reason. Why did we stay there? Well, in 1992 on Long Island it was lots of demand with not enough supply… unless you had the fortune to spend on a better  unit.

We moved to Indianapolis in ’95 because of two reasons: A) we could not afford to purchase a decent home on Long Island and B) my son wanted to come live with us and finish college at Purdue University in Indianapolis ( IUPUI ). When we arrived in Indy we figured we should rent until we got acclimated.

The newspaper ads were for mostly corporate owned and operated rental housing. We visited a few and found a good deal in a nice area of town. The model apartment really turned us on, and they had two beautiful racquetball courts and a gym there as well. We moved in and found out what corporate Land Lords were all about. From the outside of the buildings the fresh paint and appearance was fantastic.

The apartment looked so modern, with beautiful wall to wall clean carpeting. After being there for a few weeks, the hammer came down on us! One evening as my ( now ) wife was at the kitchen sink, the whole faucet just flew off her hands and the water spouted all about! We called the main office and had to wait for the handyman to show up… it took a day or two. Then, after the guys came and replaced the faucet, a storm hit Indy. We were sitting in the living room watching television when suddenly the rain just came down from the ceiling like a monsoon! I mean, the ceiling looked like it was made of paper mache as the water poured onto our carpet.

It did the same thing in our master bedroom, just flooding down. We had to use about five or six pots to catch the water! It took the office another two days to get the guys in to patch up the ceilings. I quickly called the corporate office in Chicago ( talk about absentee Land Lord!) and got them to let me out of our one year lease… after of course I had to threaten them with every government agency I could think of!

There is a better solution to the residential rental dilemma. What should be done is for the local community to buy absentee Land Lord properties using eminent domain. Then, the new community owned rental properties should charge a fair rate to the tenants, and here is the kicker: The tenants could have let us say a % of their rent be kept in escrow to be used towards a future down payment on the purchase of that apartment or home. If we had community run nonprofit mortgage banking, charging only overhead for mortgage rates, that would be golden. Until that day ever comes however, the local community could make a deal with local mortgage banks to at least charge better and lower rates for these tenants.. once they are vetted as to being financially able to handle the ownership.

Or, at least have the local community get subsidized by Uncle Sam to actually hold that paper itself, circumventing the private bankers. Either way, there could be a rider thrown in whereupon the new tenant now owner would have to live in the said unit for a few years before being able to sell. AND, NO rentals allowed on these units… forever!!

Finally, imagine if you would be in a society that had fewer Absentee Land Lords and millions of folks finally owning their own place of residence. The neighborhood would have folks who take better care of where they live… period!

As an anecdote to prove my point: When we rented on Long Island from that guy who owned 19 such units, two incidents stick out in my memory.

He had a yard where we could park our cars, but NOT use the garage. The yard had pear trees that harvested each fall. The pears would fall off the trees and lay in the yard. Our cars would run over them from time to time.

The Land Lord called me and said ” Why don’t you clean up the yard? ” I answered him ” Well, if you either give me a break on my rent and let me use the garage that you keep locked, I would be happy to.”  He wouldn’t.

Then, after a big snowstorm with one foot of snow, I called him up. ” You need to shovel the steps and the walk before someone gets hurt.” He once again told me that I should do that. ” Well, if you give me a break on my rent, or loan me your snow blower I will. If not, code enforcement is going to hear about this, in addition to you facing a lawsuit if one of us falls and gets hurt.” He sent his son over within the hour with a blower and the area was cleaned up.

Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn , NYC longshoremen. He has been a free lance columnist since 2001, with over 300 of his work posted on sites like Consortium News, Information Clearing House, Global Research, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op Ed News, Dissident Voice, Counterpunch, Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust. Philip can be reached at [email protected] 

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VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

According to Pyongyang’s KCNA news agency, “(t)he ICBM Hwasong-15 type weaponry system (test-fired Tuesday) is an intercontinental ballistic rocket tipped with super-large heavy warhead which is capable of striking the whole mainland of the US.”

The ballistic missile tested exceeds the capability of previous ones. A DPRK statement said it’s to defend the country against “US imperialists’ nuclear blackmail policy and nuclear threat.”

Its military hasn’t yet demonstrated re-entry technology capability – the ability of an object in space to reenter the earth’s atmosphere without incinerating.

Experts believe the DPRK is close to this expertise. It’s also unknown if it’s able to miniaturize a nuclear warhead enough for mounting on a ballistic missile.

Reportedly, the missile test-fired Tuesday traveled nearly 1,000 km, reaching an altitude of 4,475 km, potentially able to reach US cities. The international space station orbit at 250 miles above earth.

Defense Secretary Mattis said the missile was “higher…than any previous shot they have taken,” claiming it could strike “anywhere in the world.”

Trump responded tersely, saying we’ll “take care of it. It is a situation that we will handle.” Separately, he tweeted:

“After North Korea missile launch, it’s more important than ever to fund our gov’t & military!”

America’s only threats are invented ones. If it waged world peace instead of endless wars, it’s out-of-control military spending couldn’t be justified.

Washington, South Korea and Japan called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting in response to the DPRK test.

According to Union of Concerned Scientists’ co-director of its Global Security Program David Wright, a space weapons expert, if Tuesday’s missile launch flew on a standard trajectory instead of a lofted angle, its range would exceed 8,000 miles.

“Such a missile would have more than enough range to reach Washington DC, and in fact any part of the continental United States,” Wright explained.

North Korea vowed to continue developing its nuclear and ballistic capabilities because of threatened US aggression – these weapons considered its most effective deterrent.

During Trump’s Asia visit, a DPRK statement said

“(a)s long as the US and its puppets engage in hostile acts and invasive attempts against us, and as long as imperialism, the root of evil and injustice, is left on Earth, we will further build up our nuclear power.”

Reckless US brinksmanship on the Korean peninsula, ruling out diplomacy, risks unthinkable regional nuclear war.

Pyongyang’s response to threats by Trump, other US officials and regional ones is greater determination to develop its nuclear and ballistic missile expertise.

The only way to defuse tensions and avoid catastrophic war is through diplomatic outreach by Washington – an option Trump and hawkish administration generals reject.

The Korean peninsula remains a hugely dangerous tinderbox. Nuclear war remains an ominous possibility, a likely uncontrollable firestorm if launched.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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The Mladic NATO-Style Trial at the ICTY: A Stain on Civilization

November 29th, 2017 by Christopher Black

All that is a lie. This is a NATO-style trial.”

The defiant words of General Mladic to the judges of the NATO controlled ad hoc war crimes tribunal for Yugoslavia rang out loud and clear the day they pretended to convict him. He could have added ‘but history will absolve me” and a lot more but he was thrown out of the room by the chief judge, Orie, in his condescending style, as if he was dealing to a truant schoolboy, instead of a man falsely accused of crimes he did not commit.

The Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman, Maria Zakharova, echoed the general’s words on November 23,

“We have again to state that the guilty verdict, delivered by the International Criminal Tribunal for the former Yugoslavia against Mladic, is the continuation of the politicized and biased line, which has initially dominated the ICTY’s work.”

Both General Mladic and the Russian government are correct. The document called a “judgment” proves it for it reads like a propaganda tract instead of a court judgment. In just over 2500 pages the trio of “judges” recite the prosecution version of events nonstop, from the first paragraph to the last. The defence is mentioned only in passing.

The ICTY rejects claims that it is a biased court, a NATO court but they proved it with the very first witnesses they called to set the stage for what was to follow. A man named Richard Butler was called to testify on general military matters and the political structure in Bosnia and the Republic Srpksa. He was introduced as a “military analyst” which he is, but not an independent one. No, at the time of his testimony he was a member of the United States National Security Agency, seconded to the ICTY as a staffer. So, the first witness against General Mladic was biased on two counts. He worked for the American intelligence services that supported the enemies of General Mladic and Yugoslavia, and he was part of the prosecution staff. It is as if the NSA and the prosecutor had, at the same time, stepped into the box to testify against the accused. Butler’s testimony plays a large role in the trial; the same role he played in the trial of General Krstic.

Another military analyst expert then appears, Reynaud Theunens, also working on the staff of the prosecution. Experts in criminal trials are supposed to be completely neutral. But not only was he acting on behalf of the prosecutor, he was at the same time a Belgian Army intelligence officer. So there we have it right at the opening of the trial. The stage is set; NATO is in charge of the case.

NATO officers work inside the tribunal. It is a NATO tribunal in UN disguise. Accordingly, throughout the judgment NATO crimes, and the crimes of the opposing Bosnian forces are never referred to. The context is deliberately constricted to give a very narrow and distorted picture of events.

The judgment continues with detailed recitations of prosecution witness testimony. Defence witnesses, on the few occasions they are referred to, never have their testimony set out in like detail. One line is devoted to a witness and all of them are dismissed as biased if their testimony is at odds with the testimony of the prosecution witnesses.

And of what does the prosecution evidence consist?

It consists of some oral testimony of NATO military officers involved in events and who were working in the UN forces against General Mladic and his forces, the testimony of opposing Bosnian Army soldiers or their families, and witness statements and “adjudicated facts,” that is “facts” held to be so by another set of judges in another case no matter whether true or false. A number of times, the judges state something to the effect that, “the defence claims X did not happen and relied on certain evidence to support that claim. Where this evidence conflicts with the adjudicated facts we reject it.”

There are many instances of reliance on hearsay. Time and again, a paragraph in the judgment begins with the words, “The witness was told…” Thanks to corrupt jurists like Canadian former prosecutor Louise Arbour, the use of hearsay, even double hearsay was allowed in as evidence in these trials when it is forbidden in the rest of the world because hearsay testimony cannot be verified or checked for reliability and accuracy.

I was not able to observe much of the trial and only by video from time to time so, I am not able to comment on all the factual findings of the trial judges set on in their long judgment in which they condemn General Mladic and his government in page after tedious page. Those who are aware of the real history of events will realize that every paragraph of condemnation is neither more nor less than the same NATO propaganda put out during the conflict but made to look like a judgment.

For it is not a judgment. A true judgment in a criminal trial should contain the evidence presented by the prosecution, the evidence presented by the defence, and the arguments of both sides about the evidence. It must contain references to witness testimony both as witnesses testified in chief and in cross-examination. Then there must be a reasoned decision by the judges on the merits of each party’s case and their reasoned conclusions. But you will be hard pressed to find a trace of any of the defence evidence in this document. I could find none except for a few references in a hand full of paragraphs and some footnotes in both of which testimony of a defence witness was briefly referred to in order to dismiss it and to dismiss it because it did not support the prosecution version of events.

Even more shocking is that there is little reference to verbal testimony, that is, witness testimony. Instead there are references to “experts” connected to the CIA or State Department, or other NATO intelligence agencies who set out their version of history, which the judges accept without question. There is no reference to any defence experts.

Consequently, there are no reasoned conclusions from the judges as to why they decided to accept the prosecution evidence but not the defence evidence. From reading this one would think no defence was presented, other than a token one. That is not a judgment.

But there is something even more troubling about this “judgment.” It is not possible to make out if many of the witnesses referred to testified in person because there are few references to actual testimony. Instead there are countless references to documents of various kinds and “witness statements.”

This is an important factor in these trials because the witness statements referred to are statements made, or are alleged to have been made by alleged witnesses to investigators and lawyers working for the prosecution. We know from other trials that in fact these statements are often drafted by prosecution lawyers as well as investigators, and then presented to the “witnesses” to learn by rote. We know also that the “witnesses” often came to the attention of the prosecution by routes that indicate the witnesses were presenting fabricated testimony and were recruited for that purpose.

At the Rwanda tribunal, we made a point in our trial of aggressively cross-examining these “witnesses” and they invariably fell apart on the stand, since they could not remember the scripts assigned to them. We further made a point of asking the “witnesses” how they came to meet with prosecution staff and how the interviews were conducted and how these statements were created. The results were an embarrassment to the prosecution as it became clear they had colluded with investigators to manipulate, pressure and influence “witnesses” and that they were complicit in inventing testimony.

Further, it is important for anyone reading this “judgment” to be able to refer to the pages in the transcripts at which the witnesses testified, what they testified to, and what they said in cross-examination, because a statement is not testimony. It is just a statement.

A statement cannot be used as evidence. That requires the witness to get in the box and to state under oath what they observed. Then they can be questioned as to the reliability as observers, their bias if any, their credibility and so on. But in this case we see hundreds of references to “witness statements.” This indicates that the judges based their “judgment” not on the testimony of the witnesses (if they were called to testify) but on their written statements, prepared by the prosecution, and without facing any cross-examination by the defence.

It is not clear at all from this judgment that any of the witnesses referred to in the statements actually testified or not. If they did then their testimony should be cited, not their statements. The only valid purpose the statements have is to notify the lawyers what a witness is likely to say in the trial, and to disclose the prosecution case to the defence so they can prepare their case and then use the statements in the trial to cross examine the witness by comparing the prior statement with their testimony under oath in the witness box.

The formula is a simple one. The prosecution witness gets in the box, is asked to state what he observed about an event and then the defence questions the witness,

Mr. Witness, in your statement dated x date you said this, but today you say that. …Let’s explore the discrepancy.”

That’s how it is supposed to go. But where is it in this case? It is nowhere to be found.

It would take a book to recite the problems with the “trial” as exposed by this judgment. But there is one example which highlights the rest relating to Srebrenica and concerns a famous meeting that took place at the Fontana Hotel on the evening of July 11, 1995 at which General Mladic meets with a Dutch peacekeeper colonel to arrange the evacuation of the civilians in the Srebrenica area and the possible laying down of arms of the 28th Bosnian Army Division. There is a video of that meeting available on YouTube.

I paraphrase but it shows General Mladic asking why NATO planes were bombing his positions and killing his men. He asks why the UN forces were smuggling weapons to the Bosnian military. He asks why the UN forces tried to murder him personally. To each question he receives an apology from the Dutch officer. He then asks the Dutch officer if he wants to die and he says no. Mladic replies, nor do my men want to die, so why are you shooting at them? No answer.

The rest of the video concerns discussion of a plan to evacuate the town during which Mladic offers the UN men cigarettes, and offers some wine to ease the tension. For me, as a defence lawyer, it is a crucial element of the defence to the charges concerning Srebrenica. But no reference to this video is made in the judgment. Instead the judges refer to the testimony of several UN-NATO officers who were at the meeting in which they totally distort and twist what was said. There is no clue that the defence cross-examined those liars using the video; “Sir you state that this was said, but here in the video it shows that you are wrong. What do you say?”

It is nowhere. Was it used and ignored by the judges or not used? I have no idea. But it is clear that the prosecution chose not to use it because it would mean the collapse of their case. For even on the prosecution evidence it is clear that the men of the 28th Division refused to lay down their arms and fought their way to Tuzla. Most were killed in the fighting on the way. Many were taken prisoner. A handful of Bosnian witnesses claim these prisoners were massacred. But their testimony is of the “I was the lone miraculous survivor of the massacre” variety they tend to use in these trials.

I won’t enter into the heavy use of the bogus legal concept of joint criminal enterprise to attach criminal liability to the general, guilt by association and without intent. That they used it shows they know they had no case against him.

In summary this document contains within it little sense of the defence case or what the facts presented by the defence were, what the defence arguments were on the facts, nor their full legal arguments.

But most importantly we have no idea what the testimony was of most of the prosecution witnesses and no idea what the testimony was of defence witnesses. It is as if there was no trial, and the judges just sat in a room sifting through prosecution documents writing the judgment as they went. We must suppose that this is not far from the truth.

This “judgment” and the trial are another humiliation of Yugoslavia and Serbia by the NATO alliance since it is clear from its creation, financing, staffing and methods that the ICTY is a NATO controlled tribunal. This is confirmed by the statement of the NATO Secretary-General, who said,

“I welcome the ruling…. the Western Balkans are of strategic importance for our Alliance…”

In other words, this conviction helps NATO to consolidate its hold on the Balkans by keeping the Serbs down and out. General Mladic is a scapegoat for the war crimes of the NATO alliance committed in Yugoslavia, which the ICTY covers up and so assists NATO in committing more war crimes, as we have seen since.

The ICTY has proven to be what we expected it to be, a kangaroo court, using fascist methods of justice that engaged in selective prosecution to advance the NATO agenda of conquest of the Balkans as a prelude to aggression against Russia. NATO uses the tribunal as a propaganda weapon to put out a false history of the events in Yugoslavia, to cover up its own crimes, to keep the former republics of Yugoslavia under its thumb, and to justify NATO aggression and occupation of Yugoslavian territory. It is a stain on civilization.

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.” where this article was originally published.

Featured image is from the author.

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Few could have colonised a role as comprehensively as David Suchet playing Hercule Poirot, that pedantic, fastidious figure of sleuthing fame created by Agatha Christie. Manner, affectation, and delivery all seemed immaculate, read, and even delightful. Invariably, this sort of thespian appropriation and adaptation creates its hordes of admirers, zealots who refuse to accept rivals, pretenders, or usurpers.

Kenneth Branagh, to that end, was always on a hiding to nothing taking on the task of re-creating Poirot, even if dramatic roles can never be patented. Things, in other words, were always bound to go wrong, in some sense. If not how Branagh portrayed it, then the why of it. 

Murder on the Orient Express seems, at first glance, to be a considerably overly egged pudding. Veteran actors come at you from all sides (Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Willem Dafoe, Judi Dench), and at times, the film resembles a major actor’s grand reunion. The same could also be said of the 1974 production by Sidney Lumet: Ingrid Bergman, Lauren Bacall, John Gielgud, and Sean Connery. 

Screenshot Star2.com

Branagh was certainly keen to have some impact on his cast, wanting them all “to have the experience of being blindfolded and sticking a knife into the animal organs. I wanted to have everybody understand what it might be like to have sharp steel going through flesh.”  

If only that lesson had been learned a bit more avidly, not least of all than by Branagh himself, who wished to avoid letting his actors think of the material as a case of “theatrical pantomime”. The analytical cool steeliness of the Belgian detective shades into self-reflection and moistened emotion. Close-up shots feature tear ducts welling up.  

He reflects; he ponders; he anguishes over the murder in the Calais coach. Some of this is openly derived from Branagh’s own Shakespearean take on “the poison of deep grief”, something which he reads into Christie’s work much unjustified enthusiasm. 

It is not quite true to claim, as Anthony Lane in The New Yorker does, that there is nothing to desecrate here. However much one is impressed or, for that matter, unimpressed by Christie’s work, effort is still called for. 

Some thought might have, by way of example, been given to get the scenery, suspended as an infuriatingly sterile animation, accurate. The sense of the inauthentic permeates the whole show. The book commences in Aleppo, though Branagh’s Poirot finds himself in Jerusalem, swiftly moving to Istanbul. Viewers familiar with the landscapes will find the blemishes of geography a bit hard to take at stages of the journey.  

Perhaps this is Branagh’s point. He is showing fidelity of sorts – after all, Christie was accused of improbable plot lines and a sequence of miraculous discoveries by her sleuths. This was the line of writing that irked Raymond Chandler, whose The Simple Art of Murder remains both a treat and a weapon against that generation of the fabulous and the confounders. 

Chandler reserves a bolt for a certain M. Poirot who “decides that nobody on a certain through sleeper could have done the murder alone, therefore everybody did it together, breaking the process down into a series of simple operations, like assembling an egg-beater.” 

The film also throws in odd moments of cinematography. On the big screen, the viewer becomes squeamish at certain angles of filming. As part of this optical license, the victim, from above, is only shown after an initial conference, stab wounds revealed like evidence of a ceremonial sacrifice. 

The freedom taken in some instances suggests, ironically enough, a limitation. Branagh wishes to remain politic and contemporary, a point that leads to such improbable insertions as black soldiers in the then Kingdom of Yugoslavia army. How those in the Balkans will chuckle.

There seems to be much in the way of miscasting and a miscarriage of thespian effort. Dench is barely breathing as Princess Dragomiroff, and Johnny Depp is far from sensible as the doomed Ratchett, mumbling his words of concern like a narcotised patient. (His character’s derogatory reference to canines might well have been inspired by personal experiences suffered in his efforts to smuggle two of his own into Australia.) 

No one, then, can fault Branagh on attempting such a project. Murder mysteries sell. Christie affords rich material to adapt, an eternal mine to sort through and reimagine. But this is one occasion where a few more stumbles might have been avoided.  

To get it across the line, the film will no doubt be relying on the lavish period piece costumes and the glamour factor rather than the spectacular feats of M. Poirot. It certainly worked with The Guardian, which regarded the film as much like “a Belgian iced bun: a nostalgic pleasure, goes down easy, irresistible on a Sunday afternoon.”

Dr. Binoy Kampmark was a Commonwealth Scholar at Selwyn College, Cambridge and lectures at RMIT University, Melbourne.  Email: [email protected]

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The Israeli Deputy Foreign Minister, Member of Knesset Tzipi Hotovely, held meetings this week with representatives of YouTube and Google, to find ways of cooperating to censor Palestinian videos from occupied Palestine, videos she dubbed as “inciting violence and terrorism.” Israeli daily Maariv said Hotovely will be working with Google and YouTube officials in a joint mechanism that will be in charge of “monitoring and preventing” any publication of materials deemed by Tel Aviv to be “inflammatory.”

Hotovely announced in a Hebrew-only press release that she met with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki, and Google’s Director of Public Policy, Jennifer Oztzistzki, at Google’s Silicon Valley Offices.

Hotovely said that she received a comprehensive review mechanism for companies to monitor the films that allegedly incite violence, claiming that the supposed ‘incitement videos’ drive young children to go out and stab: ‘The attacks daily in Israel are the result of youths and children incited by the education system and the social networks, this is a daily war of incitement.’

She said that Google agreed to strengthen the bilateral relations with Israel’s Foreign Ministry, and build a mechanism of “collaborative work” that would make both parties partners in monitoring the published materials and censoring them.

The Israeli move comes amidst escalating tension in occupied Palestine, and a large number of videos, including those showing Israeli soldiers and officers killing Palestinians execution-style after injuring them, and many videos that in general highlight the suffering of the Palestinian people, living under the illegal Israeli occupation of Palestine.

The Israeli coordination with Google and YouTube has very serious implications, and many journalists have spoken out in opposition, saying it is a direct assault on the Freedom of the Press.

All foreign journalists who report in the Occupied Territories are required to register with the Israeli military, and any footage that they film is required to go through the Israeli Military Censor’s office before it can be released.

With the recent advances in technology, many Palestinians and other civilians have been able to post videos uncensored online.

The Israeli government has frequently voiced its discontent with this development, and have worked to find ways to continue to censor videos coming out of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.

All images in this article are from IMEMC News.

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Open Letter to Members of the United States Congress:

In the next few weeks, the US Congress will decide whether or not to mandate oil and gas drilling in the coastal plain of the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge as part of the 2018 federal budget bill. The Arctic Refuge may seem far away to many, but its ecosystems sustain a diverse array of species that matter to Americans and to people around the world. Opening this refuge to fossil fuel development would ignore the will of the American people, who have for decades urged their elected officials to protect this irreplaceable ecological treasure. It would also violate human rights and jeopardize the food security of the indigenous Gwich’in people of the US and Canada. We are scholars from a wide range of fields—including the humanities, the social sciences, the sciences, the arts, and other areas—united in our belief that drilling in the Arctic Refuge would be a grave mistake. We call upon Congress to remove this reckless provision from the budget.

There is no justification for using the budget process to push through oil development in the Arctic Refuge. Drilling proponents claim lease sales will generate 1 billion dollars in revenue over the next decade to help defray the 1.5 trillion dollars of proposed tax cuts for corporations and the rich. Even if the anticipated revenue figure turned out to be correct (many estimates predict a far lower amount), it still represents an incredibly minute fraction of the tax-cut proposal.  This abuse of the budget process would sacrifice one of the nation’s most ecologically and culturally significant places for a paltry sum of federal revenue.

As the ecological heart of the Arctic Refuge, the coastal plain provides critical calving and nursing habitat for the Porcupine caribou herd. Almost 200,000 caribou embark every year on the longest land migration of any animal on earth, journeying from the taiga and boreal forest ecosystems of northeast Alaska and the adjacent northwest Canada to the coastal plain, where they calve and nurse their young. Caribou biologists have repeatedly warned that oil development would have catastrophic effects on the herd. In addition to nurturing caribou, the coastal plain provides nesting and feeding habitat for millions of migratory birds. Nearly two hundred different species travel from all fifty states and six continents to breed and find nourishment in the Arctic Refuge. The coastal plain also offers the most important on-shore denning habitat in the US Arctic for polar bears, now listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act. As we are in the midst of what scientists call the earth’s sixth mass extinction, the vast nursery of the coastal plain needs protection now more than ever.

For Gwich’in communities on both sides of the US-Canada border, the prospect of drilling represents an existential threat to their cultural survival. The Gwich’in have relied upon the Porcupine caribou herd for nutritional, cultural, and spiritual sustenance for millennia. To them, the coastal plain is “The Sacred Place Where Life Begins.”

Drilling in the Arctic is risky—the inevitable and chronic spills of oil and other toxic substances onto the fragile tundra would scar this land and disrupt its wildlife. The pollution caused by the sprawling infrastructure of oil development would threaten wildlife populations and harm indigenous communities that rely on the biotic life. Moreover, as the effects of climate change become more apparent, and as the global community continues to move away from fossil fuels toward renewable energy, why would we now destroy the crown jewel of our National Wildlife Refuge System?

The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge must not be auctioned off to Big Oil. Its natural values far exceed any oil that may lie beneath the coastal plain. As scholars from across the United States and Canada, we ask that you keep this cherished place and vibrant ecosystem protected for generations to come.

Sincerely,

Subhankar Banerjee, Lannan Chair and Professor of Art and Ecology, University of New Mexico

Finis Dunaway, Professor of History, Trent University

Mark Meadowcroft, Assistant Professor, Department of Neurosurgery, Penn State College of Medicine

Mary Evelyn Tucker, Yale Forum on Religion and Ecology

Christoph Irmscher, Provost Professor of English; George F. Getz Jr. Professor in the Wells Scholars Program, Indiana University Bloomington

Keith Pluymers, Howard E. and Susanne C. Jessen Postdoctoral Instructor in the Humanities, Caltech

Jennifer Tucker, Associate Professor of History and Science in Society Program; photographic and environmental historian; Wesleyan University

Catherine Jurca, Professor and Executive Officer of the Humanities, Caltech.

Shirley Roburn, McGill University

Heather Houser, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

Robert Newman, President, National Humanities Center

Joseph Cook, Professor of Biology, University of New Mexico

Lynn Ramert, English instructor, University of Nebraska

Alexandra Lakind, PhD student in Environment & Resources.

Janet Pritchard, Professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of Connecticut

Kency Cornejo, Assistant Professor of Art History, University of New Mexico

Jeffrey Terr, Undergraduate researcher, Biology Department, University of New Mexico

Scott Fraser, Professor of Biomedical Engineering and of Molecular and Computational Biology, and of Pediatrics, University of Southern California

Michael Hecht, Professor of Chemistry, Princeton University.

Vivian Halloran, Professor of English and American Studies, Indiana University

Roberto Salas, University of Texas El Paso MFA

Char Miller, W.M. Keck Professor of Environmental Analysis, Pomona College

Margaret Werner Washburne, Regents Professor emerita, Biology, University of New Mexico

Carolyn Kay, Professor, History Department, Trent University

Trevor Fristoe, Postdoctoral Researcher, Washington University in St. Louis

Lisa Tremaine, Art Director, University of New Mexico

Nina Karnovsky, Professor of Biology, Pomona College

Jonathan Wright, Professor of Biology, Pomona College

Scott Tremaine, Professor, School of Natural Sciences, Institute for Advanced Study

Paul Sutter, Professor of History, University of Colorado Boulder

Catherine Peters, Ph.D. Candidate, American Studies, Harvard University

Catherine Xu, Visiting Student in Experimental Psychology, University of Oxford

Douglas Sackman, Professor of History, University of Puget Sound

Reese Phillips, Adjunct Professor of Biology, University of New Mexico

Terry Tempest Williams, Writer-in-Residence, Harvard Divinity School

Kristine Johnson, Ph.D, Research Associate Professor of Biology, University of New Mexico

Karl Jacoby, Professor of History, Columbia University

Erika Doss, Professor, Department of American Studies, University of Notre Dame

Anthony Lioi, Associate Professor of English, The Juilliard School

Aaron Frith, Post-doctoral Researcher, Philosophy of Water Project, University of North Texas

Joe Gallegos, Graduate Student, Department of American Studies, University of New Mexico

Laura Kay, Professor of Physics, Barnard College

Stuart Schrader, Fellow, American History, Harvard University

Marsha Weisiger, Associate Professor of History, University of Oregon

Elizabeth Johnson, Distinguished Professor of Theology, Fordham University, New York City

Ivan Kreilkamp, Associate Professor, English, Indiana University

Adriene Jenik, Professor of Art/Intermedia, Arizona State University

Daniel Brotman, Adjunct Professor of Economics, Glendale College

Stephanie Rutherford, Associate Professor in the School of the Environment, Trent University

David Pengelley, Professor Emeritus of Mathematics, New Mexico State University

Lillian Ball, Ecological art, visiting professor, Cooper Union School of Art

Piet Hut, Prof. of Astrophysics, Institute for Advanced Study

Terrence Gosliner, Senior Curator, California Academy of Sciences

Arlene Plevin, Professor of English, Olympic College.

Caddie Alford, Associate Instructor, Indiana University

Frank Zelko, Professor of Environmental Studies, University of Vermont

Rick Steiner, Professor, University of Alaska (ret.)

Ragini Bhow, M.F.A Candidate Art & Ecology, University of New Mexico

Ross MacPhee, Curator in Vertebrate Zoology/Mammalogy, American Museum of Natural History

Karla Armbruster, Professor of English, Webster University

Harvard Ayers, retired Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Sustainability, Appalachian State University

Ellen Babcock, Associate Professor, Department of Art, University of New Mexico

Nicole Seymour, Assistant Professor of English, California State University at Fullerton

William Goldsmith, Professor emeritus of City and Regional Planning, Cornell University

Elizabeth Nevada, Adjunct faculty – University of New Mexico Dance Program

Mark Stoll, Professor of History, Texas Tech University

Elizabeth Cullingford, Professor and Chair of English, University of Texas at Austin

Julianne Warren, Ecosphere Studies, Center for Humans and Nature

Julie Minich, Associate Professor of English, University of Texas at Austin

Jon Wlasiuk, Environmental historian, Michigan State University

David Stradling, Associate Dean of Humanities and Professor of History, University of Cincinnati

Phaedra C. Pezzullo, Associate Professor, Department of Communication, University of Colorado Boulder

Jon Corey Hazlett, PhD Candidate, Case Western Reserve University

Kathleen Segerson, Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor of Economics, University of Connecticut

Catriona Sandilands, Professor of Environmental Studies, York University

James Morton Turner, Associate Professor of Environmental Studies, Wellesley College

Marit Munson, Associate Professor of Anthropology, Trent University

Stephen Bocking, Professor of environmental policy and history, Trent University

Teal Arcadi, PhD Candidate, US History, Princeton University

Julia Grummitt, Ph.D Candidate, History Department, Princeton University

Kevin Siena, Assoc. Professor of History, Trent University

Grace Hale, Commonwealth Chair of American Studies and History, University of Virginia

Hilary Stamper, Visiting Professor of Psychology, Stanford University

Michael Sherwin, Associate Professor of Art, West Virginia University

Anne Coleman, Associate Professor of American Studies, University of Notre Dame

Parker Krieg, Postdoctoral Researcher, Environmental Humanities Program, University of Helsinki

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

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Israel Plans to Block Arabs from Living in 1,000 Neighbourhoods

November 29th, 2017 by Middle East Monitor

Israel is planning to block its Arab citizens from living in almost 1,000 neighbourhoods and villages under the pretext that they were built for Jews only, Quds Press reported on Tuesday. According to a report in Haaretz, the Knesset (Israeli parliament) is set to discuss a law to build Jew-only areas in the country.

Describing the proposed legislation as “racist”, the director of the Alternative Planning Centre, which specialises in planning and construction, said that it aims to prevent Arabs from living in new neighbourhoods. Hanna Sweed added that municipalities used to prevent Arab citizens from living in Jewish neighbourhoods, but this practice looks set to become enshrined in law.

“There have been indirectly-racist laws in Israel,” explained Sweed, “but this law stipulates clearly the building of Jewish neighbourhoods without any Arab residents.”

He warned that this might lead to more racist laws to put extra limits on Israel’s Arab citizens, who make up 20 per cent of the population.

The former MK pointed out that there is no law that prevents Jews from living in Arab neighbourhoods.

“What’s more, consecutive Israeli governments have built hundreds of Jewish towns and neighbourhoods in occupied Palestine [Israel], but have never built any Arab neighbourhood since 1948.”

He noted that the Israeli authorities have never even expanded Arab neighbourhoods, causing severe housing shortages and pushing Arabs to apply to live in new Jewish areas.

“Due to years of having their land confiscated, Israel’s Arab citizens do not have enough land to meet housing demand as the population continues to grow.”

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Waiting for the American Dream

November 29th, 2017 by Edward Curtin

“All good things arrive for them that wait – and don’t die in the meantime.” – Mark Twain

It is damp, drizzly November once again, the grim grey in-between month, a time for dying and a time, above all, for waiting. Waiting for the fallen dead foliage to be buried in snow, waiting for the shortest day to come and go, waiting for the New Year to usher in great changes. 

Waiting – so what’s new?

Some sullen sage once said that life is what we do while we wait for death. It’s not the kind of wise-guy wisdom I would try to refute, since I was one of the precocious kids who saw the skull at his first pabulum banquet. He seemed to be waiting for me even then, and I can only assume he is waiting still, though, like the dead writer William Saroyan, I can enjoy thinking an exception will be made in my case. But wishful thinking aside, there’s no question that Mr. Death knocks at everyone’s door sooner or later, preferably later, better never than late, to coin a phrase in reverse and revert to wishful thinking. Nevertheless, it’s hard to deny he’s coming and everybody is waiting for his knock.

Of course, rather than knock, he just might blow the house down. Though it’s a little impersonal, a lot of people are waiting for that. Like the early Christians who were eagerly awaiting the imminent end of the world, most people today are waiting for a nuclear holocaust – on the evening news, of course. The general consensus seems to be that it will solve all problems; and anyway, what’s there to do goes the refrain. Keep waiting, that’s all, seems to be the popular approach. If I didn’t know better, I’d think people were looking forward to meeting Mr. Death. For why else are they waiting?

That’s the big picture, so to speak, the big waiting game. Waiting in the smaller sense can also kill you, or keep you going (but don’t ask where), depending on your point of view. There are endless variations to this waiting game.

Every day at my local post office I see the anxiously expectant faces of people eagerly awaiting their mail, as if that special, life-transforming letter will be arriving. Then, when they pull the latest sales circular from their magic boxes, you can see their faces momentarily drop, but just as quickly do they revive, for now they can still have something to wait for – tomorrow’s mail. But tomorrow is such a long time away, so most quickly check their phones to see if God has called, or at least sent a text. Hope springs eternal in the banal post office.

Then there are those other desperate waiters, those who regularly play the lottery. They are the truly faithful ones who haven’t lost their faith, or who’ve found a parallel one – true believers in the money god waiting to surprise, the deus ex machina of the American happiness machine. For no matter what the odds, they regularly plunk down their bucks and intone the magic numbers that will change their lives forever. Then they wait. “You never know; someone’s got to win, so why not me” is their refrain. Sure. And everyone has got to die. But to hell with the odds.  Ever hopeful, like Gatsby cataleptically gazing across the water at the green light on Daisy’s dock, they wait for their numbers to be up – up above the conjuring computers that raise their tickets to happiness – so that they too, like John Smith, who won 400 million last year and said, “Of course I’m not going to let this change my life. I’m not going to quit my job in the dog food factory. I’m going to be the same regular guy I’ve always been” – so that they too can give up waiting for the gravy train and find something else to wait for.

It’s easy. They can always join the millions who are always waiting for the interminable weather reports or those who, as soon as one season has barely begun, are anxiously awaiting the next. Spring is a favorite season to wait for, eternal green spring, the time of year when most suicides can’t take waiting any longer since the weather’s nice but nothing else has changed, so they rush to Mr. Death who solves all their anxious waiting.

We all know those who are always waiting for Fridays and the great relief from their weekday horrors that the weekends bring. If that’s your game, and you’re far from retirement age, don’t worry, you can look forward to years and years of waiting for Fridays. Thank God. And then you can wait in dread for Mondays. Damn the devil. Wasn’t it Studs Terkel who said that most jobs in America are hellish? You wait to get one and then you wait until you can afford to get rid of it. It’s a lot of waiting.

Waiting is endless, and endless is the waiting.

As for me, I’ve been waiting to tell you the truth. Not too long ago I lost all hope. After decades of secretly waiting for a knock at my door, I now know it will never come. It’s over, this waiting of a true believer in the American Dream. I guess I’ve been exactly where George Carlin meant when he said to believe in the American Dream you have to be asleep. I was shocked to recently learn that Michael Anthony is dead, or to be more precise, Marvin Miller, the actor who played Michael Anthony is dead. Even as the years have tumbled out the backdoor of my life – 32 to be exact – I thought Marvin/Michael was waiting in the wings to surprise me. But I have just learned he died in 1985. My heart dropped. My waiting all these years, my secret hope of hopes, my train that would one day come in and rescue me – gone. No more. The door will not be knocked. My waiting days are over.

Who, you ask, was Michael Anthony, this character…in a movie, a play, or on television? In reality? A dream? A hallucination? He was my hope and salvation coming from the private sector, of course. He was the emissary from the invisible god, the billionaire John Beresford Tipton. And every week he would knock on someone’s door and hand him or her a check for one million dollars. “The Millionaire” was more than a television show; it was a waiter’s dream. It was why I thought of myself as “a temporarily embarrassed millionaire,” as John Steinbeck said most of us poor slobs do.  And though I haven’t been waiting for reruns, I have thought a knock was imminent, that I would be a chosen one. Now my hope is gone, my capitalist dream in shatters. I am Zero Mostel without a song.

The odd thing is, it’s a great relief. Hope, after all, is the fuel that drives all this waiting. Without waiting, everything changes. That’s often the message waiting in an obituary; you see the name, realize it’s not yours, and perhaps give up waiting for the day your waiting ends.

It’s living, I think they call it, something you can’t wait for forever, no matter what the month. Take a tip from me: being a waiter is not that rewarding. You can get by doing it, but you’ll miss the meal.

Edward Curtin is a writer whose work has appeared widely.  He teaches sociology at Massachusetts College of Liberal Arts. His website is http://edwardcurtin.com/

Featured image is from Colourbox.

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I attended the Silver & Gold Summit in San Francisco November 20 and 21. It was great connecting with the many people I know in the industry, but I will tell you that a) attendance was low, and b) crypto promoters were out in force. It turned out to be more of a gold and crypto conference than anything else. Some of the more lively sessions were the gold vs. crypto debates, and one company offered “free bitcoin!” if you opened an account with them.

I talked to many exhibitors and speakers and attendees, and it seemed the first question on most investor’s minds was how high bitcoin will go, and when the bubble will pop—not if it will pop. Most seemed to believe bitcoin is in a bubble, with the only outstanding question how high the price goes.

But the low attendance and focus on an alternative asset reminded me a lot of when I attended a similar conference in the spring of 2007. Interest in gold was flat, the Dow was roaring, and uranium was the flavor of the day. Of course 18 months later the Dow was crashing, the uranium market was obliterated, and gold and silver were on the cusp of beginning a historic run-up. The “low interest” in precious metals ended up serving as a signal for one of the greatest buying opportunities. I have a feeling we’re at a similar juncture now.

Without further ado, here are some of the more interesting quotes, gloats, and anecdotes from the conference you might find interesting (for the most part I’m paraphrasing from my notes)…

Rick Rule, Chairman of Sprott Resources: “Gold’s biggest competitor is not bitcoin but the 10-year government bond, which is near the end of a 35-year bull market.”

Doug Casey, Casey Research:

“Bitcoin is in a bubble, but it’s going to get bigger before it blows up.”

Doug stated he has 7 figures invested in the stocks of crypto companies, but said he plans to sell out of most positions at some point. He also reconfirmed his view that gold will be the next great bubble, and gold stocks the next super-bubble.

Jim Rickards:

The shoeshine boy has said to buy cryptos: an elderly lady in a small coffee shop in my tiny New England town asked me if she should buy bitcoin.”

“I’ll never sell one bitcoin—ever!” Bitcoin newsletter writer. (I almost wanted to point out to him that the Nasdaq still hasn’t recovered from the tech wreck of the late 1990s.)

Cryptos panel, when asked for their short and long-term outlook for the market: most said crypto prices are headed higher in the short term (1-2 years) but not in the long-term (3 years or more), except the guy who said he’ll never sell a bitcoin.

Frank Holmes, Chairman of HIVE Blockchain Technology:

“Most bubbles pop due to excessive leverage.”

At this statement a few panelists pointed out that the CME is starting a bitcoin futures contract, which will allow both shorting and leverage.

Jim Rickards:

“Cryptos will never replace gold. And government intervention is a certainty once they go after the terrorists and child pornographers that use them.”

“There will be no Merry Christmas if you don’t own gold, silver, and bitcoin. There will be a major disruptive event the first week of December, and that’s when a major shift into precious metals begins.” Bo Polny, Gold 2020 Forecast.

Rob McEwen, CEO McEwen Mining:

”A prolonged period of cheap money and the shift of investor focus to gold as a haven from geopolitical and financial risk could boost the price of gold to over $5,000 an ounce within five years—if that happens there is going to be a tsunami of money looking for a place to go.”

Bud Conrad, former chief economist of Casey Research:

“The biggest buyer of US stocks has been the companies themselves—the stock market is a bubble.”

Bud’s not exaggerating. In fact, share buybacks have almost perfectly tracked the price of the S&P 500 for the past decade, until lately.

You can see that as buybacks have gone, so has the market. We think this is another sign that it’s time to lighten up on common stocks. (Full disclosure: I personally own no common stocks, except mining equities.)

I wasn’t a speaker, but here’s the gist of what I would’ve said if I was:

“The only undervalued asset out there is gold and silver. Everything else is in a bubble. Gold and silver will ignite once any number of risks begin to materialize—and this time around the crisis won’t be mild. Investors will panic into gold and silver. Invest accordingly.”

If you missed it, you can now pre-order 2018 silver Eagles, what is likely the most undervalued asset in the global markets right now.

This article was originally published by GoldSilver.com.

Featured image is from Mining Journal.

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The simmer of unease prompted by the prospect of Donald Trump in command of nuclear weapons—initially highlighted during last year’s presidential campaign—reached full boil last week. A Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing on nuclear use authority included clear expressions of concern, most pointedly from Sen. Chris Murphy, a Connecticut Democrat who said he and others were concerned “that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with US national security interests.” But the Senate hearing resulted in no immediate consensus on the ways in which a president’s relatively unfettered authority to launch nuclear weapons might be modified without raising significant constitutional questions.

Indeed, the hearing and a wide range of commentary that followed illustrate the tension that exists between a president’s constitutional position as commander in chief, obligated to protect the United States from foreign threats, and the constitution’s delegation to Congress of the power to declare war. Under the current system, a president is the only US official who can order a nuclear attack. To be sure, such a decision is unlikely to be made without significant input from his national security advisers. Military commanders could theoretically refuse to execute an “illegal” nuclear-strike order, but such orders are presumed legal. A president is certainly allowed to consult with Congress ahead of a nuclear attack or response. But given the extremely tight time constraints under which a decision to use nuclear weapons might be made, consultation is not necessarily contemplated under the current nuclear command and control system, and the sole authority for deciding to use nuclear weapons belongs to the president.

Perhaps the most nuanced of the commentaries to follow the Senate hearing came from one of its witnesses, Duke political science professor Peter Feaver. As both his testimony and a subsequent article in Foreign Policy magazine attest, the precise chain of command that would result in use of the US nuclear arsenal is not a simple thing to explain in public, in part because many of its particulars are classified. Feaver’s bottom line: A congressional review of nuclear command-and-control issues is warranted, given that no such formal review has occurred for decades, but Congress should avoid hasty legislation that could have unintended and highly dangerous consequences, perhaps leading adversaries and allies to question the United States’ ability to respond quickly in a crisis situation.

“[W]e should be wary about second- and third-order consequences and so should scrutinize proposals [to change nuclear command authority] with as jaundiced an eye as we scrutinize claims by nuclear operators that suggest ‘all is well, nothing to see here…’” Feaver wrote.

Feaver’s discussion of the always/never dimension of US nuclear command and control—the system should always respond with a nuclear strike when required, yet never allow an accidental or unauthorized use of nuclear weapons—is particularly worth reading. And his explanation of the conceptual differences between two general nuclear-use situations—one in which the military “wakes up” the president and asks him to respond to an imminent or actual nuclear attack, and another in which the president “wakes up” the military with an order to use nuclear weapons first—illuminates the real-world complexity of nuclear decision making. All nuclear situations are not made equal.

In an appearance on CSPAN, Stevens Institute of Technology nuclear historian Alex Wellerstein explained the general outlines of the US nuclear command structure in a perhaps more accessible way. His answer to the question of whether Congress could or should place limits on a president’s ability to order a nuclear strike is worth quoting in its entirety:

I think Congress should at the very least have some very frank discussions about whether or not the current system is the best of all possible worlds, whether or not the current system is as safe as it could be with regards to the fact that any president—and it doesn’t have to be Trump, [though] Trump has obviously raised a lot of these concerns—but any president is a single human being. We have plenty of examples of presidents who were fallible, president who suffered from mental illness, presidents who were addicted to various types of substances. If you go through American history, it’s very hard to come away with the idea that presidents are somehow above it all. Could Congress do it? [That] gets into pretty thorny constitutional law questions. I don’t feel like we know exactly what the dimensions, the answer to that is. Congress has intervened with the War Powers Act in their role as a body that is meant under the Constitution to declare war. The president is the commander in chief. These things are somewhat at odds in our modern age, where the ability to use military forces and the ability to declare war can be nearly instantaneous, as opposed to say in the 18th century when the Constitution was drafted. Could they [members of Congress] do it? Maybe. Should they do it? I think they should look into it.

London Review of Books contributing editor Adam Shatz offers a sharper-edged take in a lengthy piece that focuses largely on the overwhelming concentration of power that the US presidency has acquired in recent decades.

“Perhaps the question we should be asking,” Shatz writes, “is not whether Trump can be stopped, but whether the system as a whole can be overhauled. ‘We have elevated the president to the position of a demigod, and then when he turns out to be Donald Trump, we’re shocked,’ [retired US Army career officer Andrew] Bacevich said to me. ‘But since Roosevelt we have vastly enhanced the power and prerogatives exercised by the president, and his ability to execute the nuclear war plan is just part of the package. Why have we entrusted this one imperfect individual with the power to blow up the planet?’”

In recent months, a bill proposed by Sen. Ed Markey of Massachusetts and Rep. Ted Lieu of California—the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017—has gained much notice and significant support from experts and activists concerned by President Trump’s statements on matters nuclear, especially as regards his threat in August to inflict “fire and fury” on North Korea. The bill would prohibit the president “from using the Armed Forces to conduct a first-use nuclear strike unless such strike is conducted pursuant to a congressional declaration of war expressly authorizing such strike. ‘First-use nuclear strike’ means a nuclear weapons attack against an enemy that is conducted without the President determining that the enemy has first launched a nuclear strike against the United States or a US ally.”

In an interesting and perhaps surprising turn, the editorial board of the Los Angeles Times, which is essentially Lieu’s hometown newspaper and tends generally in a liberal direction, came out on Sunday against the Lieu-Markey bill, saying,

“Our principal concern about this bill is that it would make it harder for a president not just to use nuclear weapons, but also to deter aggression by leaving adversaries in doubt about whether and when such weapons might be used.”

This position points up the dilemma: Unfettered, an unhinged president could order an unwarranted nuclear strike that leads to global catastrophe. Controls on the president’s ability to order such a strike, however, could slow critical responses to aggression or embolden enemies.

The current US system of command and control gives the president such complete authority over whether a nuclear attack is ordered that Harvard University’s Elaine Scarry calls that system (in her book of the same name) Thermonuclear Monarchy. But there are other, less-monarchical systems, and the Union of Concerned Scientists has published an admirable roundup of open source information about how other countries with nuclear weapons control their use.

“Instead of relying solely on the judgment of a single individual to make a decision that could lead to worldwide devastation, most nuclear-armed states have put in place systems that—at least in theory—limit the ability of any one individual to independently order a launch,” the UCS report notes.

One can hope that members of Congress from both parties read the report and think long and hard about whether it is reasonable to place the fate of the entire world in the hands of one person. Any person.

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According to former US Secretary of State John Kerry Israel and Egypt were pushing the US to “bomb Iran” before the nuclear deal was struck in 2015. He added that a number of kings and presidents told the US that a military action was the only language Iran would understand.

Kerry emphasized the role of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu that was “genuinely agitating toward action.”

Kerry made the statement during a forum in Washington. He defended the deal and said that the military action suggestions were a “trap”. According to the former US secretary of state, the same countries would have publicly criticized the U.S. if it did carry out a bombing of Iran as they were secretly supporting.

The administration of US President Donald Trump has repeatedly criticized the Iran nuclear deal made during the Obama presidency. Trump vowed to reconsider the terms and conditions of the deal and to put an additional pressure on Iran. These statements faced a very cold response from Tehran, which is against any deals that would limit his sovereignty.

Featured image is from South Front.

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Twenty-first century slave markets. Human beings sold for a few hundred dollars. Massive protests throughout the world.

The American and British media have awakened to the grim reality in Libya, where African refugees are for sale in open-air slave markets. Yet a crucial detail in this scandal has been downplayed or even ignored in many corporate media reports: the role of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization in bringing slavery to the North African nation.

In March 2011, NATO launched a war in Libya expressly aimed at toppling the government of longtime leader Muammar Qadhafi. The US and its allies flew some 26,000 sorties over Libya and launched hundreds of cruise missiles, destroying the government’s ability to resist rebel forces.

US President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, along with their European counterparts, insisted the military intervention was being carried out for humanitarian reasons. But political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy3/22/16) used NATO’s own materials to show how “the Libyan intervention was about regime change from the very start.”

NATO supported an array of rebel groups fighting on the ground in Libya, many of which were dominated by Islamist extremists and harbored violently racist views. Militants in the NATO-backed rebel stronghold of Misrata even referred to themselves in 2011 as “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin”—an eerie foreshadowing of the horrors that were to come.

The war ended in October 2011. US and European aircraft attacked Qadhafi’s convoy, and he was brutally murdered by extremist rebels—sodomized with a bayonet. Secretary Clinton, who played a decisive role in the war, declared live on CBS News (10/20/11), “We came, we saw, he died!” The Libyan government dissolved soon after.

In the six years since, Libya has been roiled by chaos and bloodshed. Multiple would-be governments are competing for control of the oil-rich country, and in some areas there is still no functioning central authority. Many thousands of people have died, although the true numbers are impossible to verify. Millions of Libyans have been displaced—a staggering number, nearly one-third of the population, had fled to neighboring Tunisia by 2014.

Corporate media, however, have largely forgotten about the key role NATO played in destroying Libya’s government, destabilizing the country and empowering human traffickers.

Moreover, even the few news reports that do acknowledge NATO’s complicity in the chaos in Libya do not go a step further and detail the well-documented, violent racism of the NATO-backed Libyan rebels who ushered in slavery after ethnically cleansing and committing brutal crimes against black Libyans.

O NATO, Where Art Thou?

CNN (11/14/17) published an explosive story in mid-November that offered a firsthand look at the slave trade in Libya. The media network obtained terrifying video that shows young African refugees being auctioned, “big strong boys for farm work,” sold for as little as $400.

CNN: People for Sale

CNN (11/14/17) does not bring up the US role in allowing people to be sold.

The flashy CNN multimedia report included bonuses galore: two videos, two animated gifs, two photos and a chart. But something was missing: The 1,000-word story made no mention of NATO, or the 2011 war that destroyed Libya’s government, or Muammar Qadhafi, or any kind of historical and political context whatsoever.

Despite these huge flaws, the CNN report was widely celebrated, and made an impact in a corporate media apparatus that otherwise cares little about North Africa. A flurry of media reports followed. These stories overwhelmingly spoke of slavery in Libya as an apolitical and timeless human rights issue, not as a political problem rooted in very recent history.

In subsequent stories, when Libyan and United Nations officials announced they would launch an investigation into the slave auctions, CNN (11/17/1711/20/17) again failed to mention the 2011 war, let alone NATO’s role in it.

One CNN report (11/21/17) on a UN Security Council meeting noted, “Ambassadors from Senegal to Sweden also blamed trafficking’s root causes: unstable countries, poverty, profits from slave trading and lack of legal enforcement.” But it failed to explain why Libya is unstable.

Another 1,200-word CNN follow-up article (11/23/17) was just as obfuscatory. It was only in the 35th paragraph of this 36-graf story that a Human Rights Watch researcher noted, “Libyan interim authorities have been dragging their feet on virtually all investigations they supposedly started, yet never concluded, since the 2011 uprising.” NATO’s leadership in this 2011 uprising was, however, ignored.

An Agence France-Presse news wire that was published by Voice of America (11/17/17) and other websites similarly failed to provide any historical context for the political situation in Libya. “Testimony collected by AFP in recent years has revealed a litany of rights abuses at the hands of gang leaders, human traffickers and the Libyan security forces,” the article said, but it did not recount anything that happened before 2017.

Reports by the BBC (11/18/17), the New York Times (11/20/17), Deutsche Welle (reprinted by USA Today11/23/17) and the Associated Press (reprinted by theWashington Post11/23/17) also failed to mention the 2011 war, let alone NATO’s role in it.

NYT: Sale of Migrants as Slaves in Libya Causes Outrage in Africa and Paris

New York Times story (11/19/17) was exceptional in connecting the rise in Libyan slavery to Muammar Qadhafi’s overthrow–yet it failed to mention the US’s leading role in that overthrow.

Another New York Times story (11/19/17) did provide a bit of context:

Since the Arab Spring uprising of 2011 ended the brutal rule of Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, Libya’s coast has became a hub for human trafficking and smuggling. That has fueled the illegal migration crisis that Europe has been scrambling to contain since 2014. Libya, which slid into chaos and civil war after the revolt, is now divided among three main factions.

Yet the Times still erased NATO’s key place in this uprising of 2011.

In an account of the large protests that erupted outside Libyan embassies in Europe and Africa in response to reports of slave auctions, Reuters (11/20/17) indicated, “Six years after the fall of Muammar Gaddafi, Libya is still a lawless state where armed groups compete for land and resources and people-smuggling networks operate with impunity.” But it did not provide any more information about how Qadhafi was toppled.

A report in the Huffington Post (11/22/17), later republished by AOL (11/27/17), did concede that Libya is “one of the world’s most unstable [sic], mired in conflict since dictator Muammar Gaddafi was ousted and killed in 2011.” It made no mention of NATO’s leadership in that ousting and killing.

Part of the problem has been the unwillingness of international organizations to point out the responsibility of powerful Western governments. In his statement on the reports of slavery in Libya, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres (11/20/17) did not mention anything about what has happened politically inside the North African nation in the past six years. The UN News Centre report (11/20/17) on Guterres’ comments was just as contextless and uninformative, as was the press release (11/21/17) on the issue from the International Organization for Migration.

Al Jazeera (11/26/17) did cite an IOM official who suggested, in Al Jazeera‘s words, that “the international community should pay more attention to post-Gaddafi Libya.” But the media outlet provided no context as to how Libya became post-Qadhafi in the first place. In fact, Al Jazeera‘s source went out of his way to make the issue apolitical: “Modern-day slavery is widespread around the world and Libya is by no means unique.”

While it is true that slavery and human trafficking happen in other countries, this widespread media narrative depoliticizes the problem in Libya, which has its roots in explicit political decisions made by governments and their leaders: namely, the choice to overthrow Libya’s stable government, turning the oil-rich North African nation into a failed state ruled by competing warlords and militias, some of which are involved in and profit from slavery and trafficking.

Selective Attention to NATO’s Aftermath in Libya

Corporate media reporting on Libya largely mirrors reporting on Yemen (FAIR.org11/20/178/31/172/27/17), Syria (FAIR.org4/7/179/5/15) and beyond: The role of the US government and its allies in creating chaos abroad is minimized, if not outright ignored.

Strikingly, one of the only exceptions to this overwhelming media trend came back in April from, of all places, the New York Times editorial board. The Times editorial (4/14/17) did not mince words, directly linking the US-backed military operation to the ongoing catastrophe:

None of this would be possible if not for the political chaos in Libya since the civil war in 2011, when — with the involvement of a NATO coalition that included the United States — Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi was toppled. Migrants have become the gold that finances Libya’s warring factions.

This is a significant reversal. Immediately after NATO launched its war in Libya in March 2011, the Times editorial board (3/21/11) cheered on the bombing, effusing, “Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi has long been a thug and a murderer who has never paid for his many crimes.” It waxed poetic on the “extraordinary,” “astonishing” military intervention, and hoped for Qadhafi’s imminent downfall.

The April 2017 Times editorial stopped far short of a being a mea culpa, yet it was still a rare admission of truth.

At the time this surprisingly honest editorial was written, there had briefly been a bit of media attention to Libya. The International Organization for Migration had just conducted an investigation into slavery in post–regime change Libya, leading to a string of news reports in the Guardian (4/10/17) and elsewhere. Practically as soon as this appalling story got the interest of corporate media, however, it quickly died out. Attention shifted back to Russia, North Korea and the bogeymen of the day.

Guardian: Migrants from west Africa being ‘sold in Libyan slave markets’

This Guardian piece (4/10/17) cites “the overthrow of autocratic leader Muammar Qadhafi,” but does not say that the US (or Britain) was instrumental in overthrowing him.

When Western governments were hoping to militarily intervene in the country in the lead-up to March 19, 2011, there was a constant torrent of media reports on the evils of Qadhafi and his government—including a healthy dose of fake news (Salon9/16/16). Major newspapers staunchly supported the NATO intervention, and made no secret of their pro-war editorial lines.

When the US government and its allies were preparing for war, the corporate media apparatus did what it does best, and helped sell yet another military intervention to the public.

In the years since, on the other hand, there has been exponentially less interest in the disastrous aftermath of that NATO war. There will be short spikes of interest, as there was in early 2017. The most recent spurt of press coverage was inspired by the publication of CNN‘s shocking video footage. But the coverage invariably rapidly peaks and goes away.

The Extreme Racism of Libyan Rebels

The catastrophe Libya might endure after the collapse of its state had been predictable at the time. Qadhafi himself had warned NATO member states, while they were waging war against him, that they were going to unleash chaos throughout the region. Yet Western leaders—Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton in the US, David Cameron in the UK, Nicolas Sarkozy in France, Stephen Harper in Canada—ignored Qadhafi’s admonition and violently toppled his government.

Even from the small number of media reports on slavery in Libya that do manage to acknowledge NATO’s responsibility for destabilizing the country, nevertheless, something is still missing.

Looking back at Libya’s anti-Qadhafi rebels, both during and after the 2011 war, it is very clear that hardline anti-black racism was widespread in the NATO-backed opposition. A 2016 investigation by the British House of Common’s Foreign Affairs Committee (Salon9/16/16) acknowledged that “militant Islamist militias played a critical role in the rebellion from February 2011 onwards.” But many rebels were not just fundamentalist; they were also violently racist.

It is unfortunately no surprise that these extremist Libyan militants later enslaved African refugees and migrants: They were hinting at it from the very beginning.

Most American and European media coverage at the time of NATO’s military intervention was decidedly pro-rebel. When reporters got on the ground, however, they began publishing a few more nuanced pieces that hinted at the reality of the opposition. These were insignificant in number, but they are enlightening and worth revisiting.

Three months into the NATO war, in June 2011, the Wall Street Journal‘s Sam Dagher (6/21/11) reported from Misrata, Libya’s third-largest city and a major hub for the opposition, where he noted he saw rebel slogans like “the brigade for purging slaves, black skin.”

Dahger indicated that the rebel stronghold of Misrata was dominated by “tightly knit white merchant families,” whereas “the south of the country, which is predominantly black, mainly backs Col. Gadhafi.”

Other graffiti in Misrata read “Traitors keep out.” By “traitors,” rebels were referring to Libyans from the town of Tawergha, which the Journal explained is “inhabited mostly by black Libyans, a legacy of its 19th-century origins as a transit town in the slave trade.”

Dagher reported that some Libyan rebel leaders were “calling for the expulsion of Tawerghans from the area” and “banning Tawergha natives from ever working, living or sending their children to schools in Misrata.” He added that predominately Tawergha neighborhoods in Misrata had already been emptied. Black Libyans were “gone or in hiding, fearing revenge attacks by Misratans, amid reports of bounties for their capture.”

The rebel commander Ibrahim al-Halbous told the Journal, “Tawergha no longer exists, only Misrata.”

Al-Halbous would later reappear in a report by the Sunday Telegraph (9/11/11), reiterating to the British newspaper, “Tawarga no longer exists.” (When Halbous was injured in September, the New York Times9/20/11—portrayed him sympathetically as a martyr in the heroic fight against Qadhafi. The Halbous brigade has in the years since become an influential militia in Libya.)

Like Dagher, the Telegraph‘s Andrew Gilligan drew attention to the slogan painted on the road between Misrata and Tawergha: “the brigade for purging slaves [and] black skin.”

Gilligan reported from Tawergha, or rather from the remnants of the majority-black town, which he noted had “been emptied of its people, vandalized and partly burned by rebel forces.” A rebel leader said of the dark-skinned residents, “We said if they didn’t go, they would be conquered and imprisoned. Every single one of them has left, and we will never allow them to come back.”

Gilligan noted “a racist undercurrent. Many Tawargas, though neither immigrants nor Gaddafi’s much-ballyhooed African mercenaries, are descended from slaves, and are darker than most Libyans.”

The North Atlantic Treaty Organization assisted these virulently racist rebels in Misrata. NATO forces frequently launched air attacks on the city. French fighter jets shot down Libyan planes over Misrata. The US and UK fired cruise missiles at Libyan government targets, and the US launched Predator drone strikes. The Canadian air force also attacked Libyan forces, pushing them out of Misrata.

In a public relations video NATO published in May 2011, early in the Libya war, the Western military alliance openly admitted that it intentionally allowed “Libyan rebels to transport arms from Benghazi to Misrata.” Political scientist Micah Zenko (Foreign Policy3/22/16) pointed out the implications of this video: “A NATO surface vessel stationed in the Mediterranean to enforce an arms embargo did exactly the opposite, and NATO was comfortable posting a video demonstrating its hypocrisy.”

Throughout the war and after, Libyan rebels continued carrying out racist sectarian attacks against their black compatriots. These attacks have been well documented by mainstream human rights organizations.

HRW: Libya: Stop Arbitrary Arrests of Black Africans

Human Rights Watch (9/4/11) documented racist persecution in post-Qadhafi Libya.

Human Rights Watch’s longtime executive director Kenneth Roth cheered on NATO intervention in Libya in 2011, calling the UN Security Council’s unanimous endorsement of a no-fly zone a “remarkable” confirmation of the so-called “responsibility to protect” doctrine.

Roth’s organization, however, could not ignore the crimes anti-Qadhafi militants committed against dark-skinned Libyans and migrants.

In September 2011, when the war was still ongoing, Human Rights Watch reported on Libyan rebels’ “arbitrary arrests and abuse of African migrant workers and black Libyans assumed to be [pro-Qadhafi] mercenaries.”

Then in October, the top US human rights organization noted that Libyan militias were “terrorizing the displaced residents of the nearby town of Tawergha,” the majority-black community that had been a stronghold of support for Qadhafi. “The entire town of 30,000 people is abandoned—some of it ransacked and burned—and Misrata brigade commanders say the residents of Tawergha should never return,” HRW added. Witnesses “gave credible accounts of some Misrata militias shooting unarmed Tawerghans, and of arbitrary arrests and beatings of Tawerghan detainees, in a few cases leading to death.”

In 2013, HRW reported further on the ethnic cleansing of the black community of Tawergha. The human rights organization, whose chief had so effusively supported the military intervention, wrote: “The forced displacement of roughly 40,000 people, arbitrary detentions, torture and killings are widespread, systematic and sufficiently organized to be crimes against humanity.”

These atrocities are undeniable, and they lead a path straight to the enslavement of African refugees and migrants. But to acknowledge NATO’s complicity in empowering these racist extremist militants, corporate media would have to acknowledge NATO’s role in the 2011 regime change war in Libya in the first place.

Ben Norton is a journalist and writer. He is a reporter for AlterNet’s Grayzone Project and a contributor to FAIR. His website is BenNorton.com, and he tweets at @BenjaminNorton.

Featured image is from the author.

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VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

It’s an obscenity, not a mark of distinction or impressive achievement – symbolic of unprecedented wealth inequality in a nation obsessed with super-wealth and profit-making for its privileged class.

It comes at the expense of a growing underclass, tens of millions impoverished Americans, disadvantaged ones, their numbers increasing, not diminishing, greater numbers coming if the GOP tax cut scam becomes the law of the land.

It’ll enrich Bezos and other super-rich Americans more than already, gaining more wealth from the pockets of the nation’s low and middle income households – a diabolical scheme supported by Republicans, maybe enough to make it the law of the land, no matter the harm it causes.

Politics in America is money controlled, a system unlike in any other country, amounting to organized bribery.

In return for large campaign contributions (bribes by any standard), congressional members pass laws benefitting their benefactors, most often at the expense of the general welfare – the defining feature of dirty politics.

Earlier US robber barons were small-time compared to today’s mega-ones – lionized by media scoundrels as heroic figures, profiting at the expense of exploiting workers, paying them poverty wages – or gaining riches by using money to make more of it, contributing nothing to society.

Money power in private hands and democracy can’t co-exist. Wall Street crooks transformed America into an unprecedented money-making racket – making it the old-fashioned way by stealing it.

Other corporate predators operate the same way, functioning as legalized crime families, oligopolies and monopolies, eliminating competition, not fostering it.

Complicit with corrupt politicians, socialism for the rich, free market capitalism law of the jungle for ordinary people reflects the American way – rewarding predation, punishing the poor and disadvantaged, plutocracy, not democracy.

The Constitution’s general welfare clause (Article I, section 8) applies to the nation’s privileged class alone, no one else.

Jeff Bezos and other multi-billionaires earn more in a day than their workers in a year. Last April, as Amazon shares rose sharply, his net worth increased by $6 billion in 20 minutes.

A few weeks ago, his wealth increased by $1.5 billion in one day. Last year, he made $19.3 billion – on average around $52 million daily, over $2 million per hour, $36,000 a minute, $600 a second.

He has over fourfold the wealth of his alma mater, Princeton University. According to the Land Report, he’s the 25th largest US landowner.

Will he become the world’s first trillionaire in years to come? At age-53, he likely has many years ahead for greater wealth accumulation than already.

In contrast, most Americans live from paycheck to paycheck, one missed one away from hunger, homelessness and despair.

Tens of millions of people are food insecure, dependent on food stamps and food pantries to feed themselves and their families.

Hunger in America is a national disgrace. So is obscene wealth concentrated in few hands.

The nation’s three richest billionaires are wealthier than the bottom half of the population.

Bezos tops the list – the richest of America’s corporate predators, aiming to become more super-rich than already.

Former Supreme Court Justice Louis B. Brandeis once said:

“We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can’t have both.”

A Final Comment

Bezos is well-connected. He has CIA ties, recipient of a $600 million agency contract for much more than Amazon Web Services (AWS). As owner of the Washington Post, he serves as its mouthpiece.

He has a disturbing history currying favor with national security officials. WaPo is a virtual CIA house organ, a major conflict of interest destroying its credibility.

AWS’ Secret Region cloud technology lets the CIA and other US intelligence agencies host, analyze and secure their data across all classification levels – from unclassified to top secret.

Bezos is the US intelligence community’s man at Amazon.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs, said on ABC’S “This Week” that nuclear war has become “more probable than it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly.”

Mullen also said he has concerns about the fact that generals have taken such high-ranking and high-profile roles in the Trump administration, and that he was disappointed that John Kelly has shown he’ll be “supportive of the president no matter what.”

Full quotes:

  • On Kelly: I mean, certainly what happened very sadly a few weeks ago when he was in a position to both defend the president in terms of what happened with the gold star family and then he ends up — and John ends up politicizing the death of his own son in the wars. It is indicative of the fact that he clearly is very supportive of the president no matter what. And that, that was really a sad moment for me.
  • Does he recognize Flynn these days?: “No, I don’t know the Mike Flynn that I have seen since he made a decision to endorse very strongly and publicly President Trump.”
  • On nuclear war: “I think it’s more probable than I it used to be. And it scares me to death, quite frankly. They’re the most dangerous weapons in the world. And certainly if we have someone in North Korea that has a lethal legacy, is very, very unpredictable, and sees this as a way to solidify his future, that he could well not just attain them but potentially use them.”
  • On refusing an order: “Well, I think any senior military officer always approaches it from the standpoint of we’re not going to follow an illegal order. That said, the president is in a position to give a legal order to use those weapons. And the likelihood that given that order that it would be carried out I think would be pretty high.”
  • On North Korea: “I still worry about the peninsula and the potential outcome there. I worry there is more uncertainty than there was a year ago, in principle because of the rhetoric that is there. I know that the Trump administration has addressed this issue from day one, so they’re very serious about creating options and have created options. It’s still a very difficult place to know what’s actually going on.”

Featured image is from Wikimedia Commons.

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A qualified majority of EU countries agreed the reauthorisation of Europe’s most used weedkiller, glyphosate, this week. After months of wrangling and a failure by EU nations to agree its fate, the Appeal Committee, consisting of experts from EU countries together with the European Commission, agreed to renew the license for this toxic herbicide for another five years.

Eighteen countries, including the UK, voted in favour of renewing the chemical which is linked to cancers and other health problems and to damaging biodiversity and soil health.

This renewal occurred despite the fact that the European Parliament recently voted for a five-year phase out and almost one-and-a-half million EU citizens have signed a petition against glyphosate. As to the events that have led to this relicensing, they are nothing short of scandalous.

Corporate bully

Patented by corporate giant Monsanto in 1974, glyphosate has continued to grow in use globally over the past couple of decades. Government figures show its use in UK farming has increased by a shocking 400 percent in the last 20 years.

Until recently, the chemical was commonly thought to be safe for human consumption. Alarm bells started to ring in 2015 when the UN Cancer Agency (IARC) declared glyphosate as ‘probably carcinogenic’.

In the US, a group of plaintiffs are suing Monsanto for covering up evidence that they believe explains why many of them are suffering from non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma after exposure to the herbicide. Monsanto have in turn waged war on the plaintiffs using the wide range of legal, financial and political armoury available to them.

But it’s not just in the US that Monsanto has been covering up foul play. The EU Food Safety Agency (EFSA) recently released a report deeming glyphosate ‘unlikely to be carcinogenic’ prompting a sigh of relief from farmers and agribusinesses across the EU.

Defamatory remarks

Yet it has left many asking why there are conflicting verdicts from the EFSA and UN? While EFSA have been refusing to release the studies used in their research, there is strong evidence to suggest Monsanto have been ghost writing studies for them; a clear conflict of interest. But it gets worse.

Speaking at a hearing on glyphosate in the European Parliament last month – which Monsanto refused to attend – Dr Christopher Portier, a leading environmental and health expert on causes of cancer, questioned whether sufficient scientific studies have been carried out on the possible health impacts of glyphosate.

Yet he is being slandered as ‘anti-science’ and a ‘fake’ by Monsanto and its affiliates. This smear campaign has also stretched beyond Dr Portier, and is being levelled against the UN IARC itself, with baseless accusations that the agency “edited out non-carcinogenic findings” from its study in 2015.

It all demonstrates that corporations like Monsanto will readily resort to insults, defamatory remarks and falsehoods in an attempt to destroy the work of scientists when and where this threatens their interests.

Precautionary principle

Glyphosate is present in a large amount of the foodstuffs that we consume every day. It is commonly used on wheat crops and Defra found traces of glyphosate in 60 percent of bread in the UK. Traces have also been found in animal products such as meat, milk and eggs. Worldwide usage has increased more than 20-fold since 1990.

Glyphosate is a classic example of why we need the precautionary principle, something enshrined in an EU Treaty, but recently rejected as an amendment to the EU Withdrawal Bill. If you boarded a plane and heard one announcement that it was safe and ready for take-off followed by another that the plane was experiencing technical difficulties, you would probably choose not to fly until you were absolutely certain that the plane was safe.

Those of us that support enforcing the precautionary principle on products that we don’t know are absolutely safe for human consumption are often branded as ‘anti-science’.

There was evidence of this recently when the EU Commissioner for Health and Food Safety made an outlandish outburst during an Agriculture Committee meeting, accusing Greens of fighting against science.

In reality, it is Greens who have been demanding more not less science and that only peer-reviewed research be used in decision-making. We have also called for more public funding and support for independent research, which is so vital if we are to uphold any credibility in our public institutions.

The poison

In the absence of a Europe-wide ban, glyphosate is forecast to be worth USD 9 billion by 2024. The decision to reauthorise glyphosate confirms the profound influence and power agrichemical corporates have over our public institutions and policymakers. Governments and the Commission have cracked under the intimidating pressure of Monsanto and other giant corporations.

It is time to weed out the poison from the Commission and its Agencies and root out corporate lobbyists who are having such a huge influence on EU governments. They are working against the interests of public health and environmental protection. A failure to do so will mean we continue to quite literally poison European citizens for years to come.

Molly Scott Cato is Green MEP for the South West and sits of the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee. She tweets at @MollyMEP.

Featured image is from Flickr.

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No Need to Wait – Dystopia Is Almost Upon Us

November 29th, 2017 by True Publica

Microsoft’s CEO has warned the technology industry against creating a dystopian future, the likes of which have been predicted by authors including George Orwell and Aldous Huxley. Satya Nadella kicked off the the company’s 2017 Build conference with a keynote that was as unexpected as it was powerful. He told the developers in attendance that they have a huge responsibility, and that the choices they make could have enormous implications.

They won’t listen of course. The collection of big data along with management, selling and distribution and the systems architecture to control it is now worth exactly double global military defence expenditure. In fact, this year, the big data industry overtook the worlds most valuable traded commodity – oil.

The truth is that the tech giants have already captured us all. We are already living in the beginnings of a truly dystopian world.

Leaving aside the endemic surveillance society our government has chosen on our behalf with no debate, politically or otherwise, we already have proof of the now and where it is leading. With fingerprint scanning, facial recognition, various virtual wallets to pay for deliveries, some would say your identity is as good as stolen. If it isn’t, it soon will be. That’s because the hacking industry, already worth a mind blowing $1trillion annually is expected to reach $2.1 trillion in just 14 months time.

The reality of not being able to take public transportation, hire a car, buy a book, or a coffee – requiring full personal identification is almost upon us. Britain even had an intention to be completely cashless by 2025 – postponed only by the impact of Brexit.

Alexa, the Amazon home assistant listens to everything said in the house. It is known to record conversations. Recently, police in Arkansas, USA demanded that Amazon turn over information collected from a murder suspect’s Echo — the speaker that controls Alexa, because they already knew what information could be extracted from it.

32M is the first company in the US that provides a human chip, allowing employees “to make purchases in their break-room micro market, open doors, login to computers, use the copy machine.” 3M also confirmed what the chip could really do – telling employees to “use it as your passport, public transit and all purchasing opportunities.”

Various Apps now locate people you may know and your own location can be shared amongst others without your knowledge and we’ve known for years that governments and private corporations have access to this data, whether you like it not.

Other countries are providing even scarier technologies.  Hypebeast Magazine reports that  Aadhaar is a 12-digit identity number issued to all Indian residents based on their biometric and demographic data. “This data must be linked to their bank account or else they’ll face the risk of losing access to their account. Folks have until the end of the year to do this, with phone numbers soon to be connected through the 12 digits by February. Failure to do so will deactivate the service. ” The technology has the ability to refuse access to state supplied services such as healthcare.

Our article “Insurance Industry Leads The Way in Social Credit Systems” also highlights what the fusion of technology and data is likely to end up doing for us. An astonishing 96 per cent of insurers think that ecosystems or applications made by autonomous organisations are having a major impact on the insurance industry. The use of social credit mechanisms is being developed, some already implemented, which will determine our future behaviour, which will affect us all – both individually and negatively.”

The Chinese government plans to launch its Social Credit System in 2020. Already being piloted on 12 million of its citizens, the aim is to judge the trustworthiness – or otherwise – of its 1.3 billion residents. Something as innocuous as a person’s shopping habits become a measure of character. But the system not only investigates behaviour – it shapes it. It “nudges” citizens away from purchases and behaviours the government does not like. Friends are considered as well and individual credit scores fall depending on their trustworthiness. It’s not possible to imagine how far this will go in the end.

Howeverm to get us all there, to that situation, we need to be distracted from what is going on in the background. Some, are already concerned.

Distraction – detaching us from truth and reality

The Guardian wrote an interesting piece recently which highlighted some of the concerns of those with expert insider knowledge of the tech industry. For instance, Justin Rosenstein, the former Google and Facebook engineer who helped build the ‘like’ button –  is concerned. He believes there is a case for state regulation of smartphone technology because it is “psychologically manipulative advertising”, saying the moral impetus is comparable to taking action against fossil fuel or tobacco companies.

If we only care about profit maximisation,” he says, “we will go rapidly into dystopia.” Rosenstien also makes the observation that after Brexit and the election of Trump, digital forces have completely upended the political system and, left unchecked, could render democracy as we know it obsolete.

Carole Cadwalladre’s recent Exposé in the Observer/Guardian proved beyond doubt that democracy has already departed.  Here we learn about a shadowy global operation involving big data and billionaires who influenced the result of the EU referendum. Britain’s future place in the world has been altered by technology.

Nir Eyal 39, the author of Hooked: How to Build Habit-Forming Products writes:

“The technologies we use have turned into compulsions, if not full-fledged addictions.” Eyal continues: “It’s the impulse to check a message notification. It’s the pull to visit YouTube, Facebook, or Twitter for just a few minutes, only to find yourself still tapping and scrolling an hour later.” None of this is an accident, he writes. It is all “just as their designers intended”.

Eyal feels the threat and protects his own family by cutting off the internet completely at a set time every day.

“The idea is to remember that we are not powerless,” he said. “We are in control.”

The truth is we are no longer in control and have not been since we learned that our government was lying to us with the Snowden revelations back in 2013.

Tristan Harris, a 33-year-old former Google employee turned vocal critic of the tech industry agrees about the lack of control.

“All of us are jacked into this system,” he says. “All of our minds can be hijacked. Our choices are not as free as we think they are.”

Harris insists that billions of people have little choice over whether they use these now ubiquitous technologies, and are largely unaware of the invisible ways in which a small number of people in Silicon Valley are shaping their lives.

Harris is a tech whistleblower. He is lifting the lid on the vast powers accumulated by technology companies and the ways they are abusing the influence they have at their fingertips – literally.

“A handful of people, working at a handful of technology companies, through their choices will steer what a billion people are thinking today.”

The techniques these companies use such as social reciprocity, autoplay and the like are not always generic: they can be algorithmically tailored to each person. An internal Facebook report leaked this year, ultimately revealed that the company can identify when teenagers feel “worthless or “insecure.” Harris adds, that this is “a perfect model of what buttons you can push in a particular person”.

Chris Marcellino, 33, a former Apple engineer is now in the final stages of retraining to be a neurosurgeon and notes that these types of technologies can affect the same neurological pathways as gambling and drug use.

“These are the same circuits that make people seek out food, comfort, heat, sex,” he says.

Roger McNamee, a venture capitalist who benefited from hugely profitable investments in Google and Facebook, has grown disenchanted with both of the tech giants.

“Facebook and Google assert with merit that they are giving users what they want,” McNamee says. “The same can be said about tobacco companies and drug dealers.”

James Williams ex-Google strategist who built the metrics system for the company’s global search advertising business, says Google now has the “largest, most standardised and most centralised form of attentional control in human history”.

Eighty-seven percent of people wake up and go to sleep with their smartphones,” he says.

The entire world now has a new prism through which to understand politics, and Williams worries the consequences are profound.

Williams also takes the view that if the attention economy erodes our ability to remember, to reason, to make decisions for ourselves – faculties that are essential to self-governance – what hope is there for democracy itself?

“The dynamics of the attention economy are structurally set up to undermine the human will,” he says. “If politics is an expression of our human will, on individual and collective levels, then the attention economy is directly undermining the assumptions that democracy rests on. If Apple, Facebook, Google, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat are gradually chipping away at our ability to control our own minds, could there come a point, I ask, at which democracy no longer functions?”

“Will we be able to recognise it, if and when it happens?” Williams says. “And if we can’t, then how do we know it hasn’t happened already?”

The dystopian arrival

Within ten years, some are speculating that many of us will be wearing eye lenses. Coupled with social media, we’ll be able to identify strangers and work out that a particular individual, in say a bar, has a low friend compatibility, and data shows you will likely not have a fruitful conversation. This idea is literally scratching the surface of the information overload en-route right now.

It is not at all foolish to think that in that same bar a patron is shouting at the bartender, who refuses to serve him another drink because the glass he was holding measured his blood-alcohol level through the sweat in his fingers. He’ll have to wait at least 45 minutes before he’ll be permitted to order another scotch. You might even think that is a good idea – it isn’t.

Google’s Quantum Artificial Intelligence  Lab, already works with other organisations associated with NASA. Google’s boss sits on the Board of the Pentagon with links plugged directly into the surveillance architecture of the NSA in the USA and GCHQ in Britain. This world, where artificial intelligence makes its mark, as Williams mentions earlier, will deliberately undermine the ability to think for yourself.

In the scenario of the eye lenses, you might even have the ability to command your eyewear to shut down. But when you do, suddenly you are confronted with an un-Googled world. It appears drab and colourless in comparison. The people before you are bland, washed out and unattractive. The art, plants, wall paint, lighting and decorations had all been shaped by your own preferences, and without the distortion field your wearable eyewear provided, the world appears as a grey, lifeless template.

You find it difficult to last without the assistance of your self imposed augmented life, and accompanied by nervous laughter you switch it back on. The world you view through the prism of your computer eyewear has become your default setting. You know you have free will, but don’t feel like you need it. As Marcellino says the same neurological pathways as gambling and drug use drive how you choose to see the world.

This type of technology will be available and these types of scenario’s will become real, sooner than you think.

Our governments, allied with the tech giants are coercing us into a place of withering obedience with the use of 360 degree state surveillance. New technology, which is somehow seen as the road to liberty, contentment and prosperity, is really our future being shaped by a system that will destroy our civil liberties, crush our human rights and it will eventually ensnare and trap us all. This much they are already attempting in China and Japan with social credit mechanisms and pre-crime technology which is a truly frightening prospect. Without debate or our knowledge, here in western democracies, these technologies are already in use.

Featured image is from TruePublica.

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Tensions Rise Again as North Korea Tests Missile

November 29th, 2017 by Peter Symonds

North Korea test fired a long-range missile today that appears to have the range to potentially hit most parts of continental United States, including its capital Washington DC. The test took place amid high tensions on the Korean Peninsula stoked by the Trump administration’s threats to use military force to destroy North Korea’s nuclear and missile facilities.

North Korea fired the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) at about 3 am local time from around Pyongsong, a town northeast of the capital Pyongyang. It flew on a lofted trajectory for about 53 minutes, reaching an altitude of around 4,500 kilometres and landing 960 kilometres away to the north of Honshu, Japan’s largest island.

If the ICBM had been fired at an angle designed for maximum distance, the range is estimated at more than 12,500 kilometres, placing the US east coast and Washington DC potentially within its reach. Whether the missile can carry a heavy payload, such as a nuclear warhead, over that distance is unknown.

Two similar North Korean ICBMs tested in July remained aloft for 37 minutes and 47 minutes respectively. A US intelligence official told Reuters the initial indications were that the missile engine was not significantly more powerful than the previous Hwasong-14 tests.

David Wright from the Union of Concerned Scientists suggested in a blog that North Korea simply lightened the missile’s payload.

“If true, that means it would not be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to this long distance, since such a warhead would be much heavier,” he wrote.

Doubts also remain as to whether North Korea has developed a re-entry vehicle capable of shielding a nuclear payload from the intense heat and pressures generated when it re-enters the earth’s atmosphere from outer space. According to Japanese Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera, the missile broke up before landing in Japan’s exclusive economic zone.

US President Donald Trump made a relatively muted response at a press conference with Defence Secretary James Mattis.

“We will take care of it,” Trump told reporters. “It is a situation that we will handle.”

Mattis declared that the missile “went higher, frankly, than any previous shots.” He continued:

“The bottom line is it’s a continued effort to build a … ballistic missile threat that endangers world peace, regional peace and certainly the United States.”

However, the chief responsibility for inflaming tensions in North East Asia lies with US imperialism. Trump’s administration, following on from President Obama’s, has tightened the noose of crushing economic and diplomatic sanctions around North Korea and made clear that only Pyongyang’s complete capitulation to US demands will prevent a war.

Following North Korea’s nuclear test in early September, Trump threatened at the United Nations to “totally destroy” the country. The remark highlights the vast disparity between the US, which has the world’s most powerful military and thousands of nuclear warheads, and North Korea, which has a very limited nuclear arsenal and delivery systems.

The US has provocatively staged a series of large-scale military drills with South Korea, Japan and other allies throughout 2017. Earlier this month, the US navy held an exercise involving three American aircraft carriers, along with their accompanying strike groups of destroyers and cruises, and various South Korean vessels.

The latest war games, due to commence on Saturday, involve a massive display of air power. Known as Vigilant Ace, the air drill will involve 230 aircraft, including six F-22 Raptor stealth fighters, and 12,000 US military personnel. Its purpose, according to the US military, is to enhance interoperability between US and South Korean forces and “increase the combat effectiveness of both nations.” In other words, the intent is to prepare for war with North Korea.

Following today’s ICBM test by North Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson declared:

“Diplomatic solutions remain viable and open for now. The United States remains committed to finding a peaceful path to denuclearisation and to ending belligerent actions by North Korea.”

He announced that the US and Canada would convene an international meeting next year to discuss how to counter North Korea.

However, the Trump administration has repeatedly rejected calls by China and Russia to pave the way for negotiations through a so-called freeze-for-freeze—suspending US and South Korean joint war games in return for North Korea halting its nuclear and missile tests.

Moreover, Trump last week reinstated North Korea to the US State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism in a move calculated to undermine any attempt to start negotiations. The Bush administration removed Pyongyang from the list in 2008 as part of US commitments contained in a denuclearisation deal signed in 2007. Just months later, President Bush sabotaged the deal by demanding more intrusive inspection procedures.

North Korea reacted angrily to Trump’s announcement, declaring that the decision to relist it as a sponsor of terrorism was “a serious provocation and violent infringement” of its sovereignty. Today’s missile test—the first of any type since September—is another indication that Pyongyang judges that the US cannot be trusted to negotiate in good faith.

The latest missile launch can only heighten tensions in North East Asia. South Korea responded six minutes later with its own show of force—the simultaneous test firing of a “precision” barrage of missiles from its army, navy and air force. All the missiles were calibrated to the distance to the North Korean test site, but fired into waters between South Korea and Japan.

Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who has backed Washington’s aggressive stance toward North Korea to the hilt, spoke to Trump by phone. In comments to reporters, he called for a meeting of the UN Security Council, which is due to hold an emergency session on the launch Wednesday (US time).

The Trump administration’s policy of “maximum pressure” is not aimed just against North Korea, but also China, which is being pressured by the US and its allies to enforce what amounts to a complete economic blockade. The result is a highly dangerous situation in which any incident or accident could precipitate a catastrophic war.

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Turning the Corner in Afghanistan

November 29th, 2017 by Moon of Alabama

The news about the wars the U.S. is waging all over the world is unreliable. The same statements of progress are repeated year after year. The official numbers, be they of civilian casualties or deployed troops, are mere lies. Every news presentation should be engraved with a warning: “Assertions and numbers are not what they appear.” Consider, for example, the various “turned corner” statements officials have made about Afghanistan.

On October 5 2017 the Afghan President Ashraf Ghani confirmed to the BBC that Afghanistan has “turned the corner”:

… when I ask whether he is saying Afghan forces have turned the corner in the fight against the Taliban, there is no hesitation: “Yes,” he says.

On October 24 the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan General John Nicholson agreed with President Ghani:

“With the mounting military, diplomatic, and social pressure that is building – that we all are collectively committed to sustaining over the coming years – the enemy will have no choice but to reconcile. I believe, as President Ghani says, ‘we have turned the corner,’” he concluded.

But a month later General Nicholson seemed to disagreed with his earlier statement:

“We are still in a stalemate,” Nicholson, a four-star Army general said in an exclusive interview.

Today, five days after his “stalemate” statement, the general’s opinion has changed again. Kevin Baron, the editor of Defense Onereports:

‏JUST IN: Top US general in Afghanistan says war has “turned a corner… “ The momentum is now with the Afghan security forces.” …

The General seems confused. But he is not the first to have such a change of mind.

On February 3 2010 then U.S. commander General Stanley McChrystal was cautious about the proverbial corner:

General Stanley McChrystal also expressed confidence that Afghan forces would grow quickly enough to allow a reduction in U.S. troop numbers to begin on schedule in 2011. … “I‘m not prepared to say we have turned the corner,” he added.

Only twelve days later the turn had been made:

Gen Stanley McChrystal had his own words. Helmand had “turned the corner” in its four year war, he told The Daily Telegraph.

In May 2011 a British General also noted the turn:

The civilians are looking to people such as General James Bucknall, a British Coldstream Guards officer who is second in command of the International Security and Assistance Force (Isaf).

[H]e sets out why he thinks a corner has now been turned, nodding to the surge in American troop numbers that has made it possible.

Six years earlier another British General had already seen that turn:

Handing over to 3 Commando Brigade, Brig Butler said: “When we prepared, we knew there would be rocky times ahead, and that things would get harder before they got easier. That has certainly been the case, but I judge we have turned the corner. We have achieved a huge amount.”

In May 2011 the U.S. Secretary of Defense was more cautious than the generals but nonetheless optimistic:

I think we could be in a position by the end of this year where we have turned the cornerin Afghanistan,” [U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates] said.

According to is boss, progress came faster than Gates anticipated. On June 23 2011 CBS headlined Obama: U.S. has turned corner in Afghanistan:

President Barack Obama on Thursday told American troops who’ve fought in Afghanistan that the U.S. has turned a corner after nearly 10 years of war, and it’s time for their comrades still in that country to start coming home.

Obama’s victory jump may have been a bit premature, but a month later the local commander agreed that the turning process had at least begun:

I spoke to Gen Petraeus as he stopped off in London on his way home from Afghanistan. In the interview, he spelled out what makes him think the country has begun to turn a corner after nearly 10 years of war.

In September 2012 another U.S. Secretary of Defense asserted that the turn had finally been completed:

[US Defense Secretary Leon] Panetta, however, has rejected suggestions that the strategy is failing, and on Friday he said “we have turned the corner,” in Afghanistan …

Four month later the Afghan President confirmed the turn:

[President] Karzai also said that Afghanistan has turned the corner in terms of battling the Taliban.

Karzai was very modest in acknowledging the turn. He knew that it had already happened much earlier:

On October 9th, 2004, Afghanistan turned the corner. After decades of invasion, civil war, and anarchy, Hamid Karzai became the first democratically-elected President of a united Afghanistan.

In May 2014 another man was elected President of Afghanistan. This finally turned the corner:

Tonight there is a sense that the country has turned a corner – a new president who will sign the BSA, a continuation of developmental aid and training programmes, and Afghanistan has more than a fighting chance.

A year later the Afghan Foreign Minister Salahuddin Rabbani was encouraged by the corner turning progress the new government had made:

With the successful conclusion of the security and political transitions, Afghanistan turned the corner in our path to becoming a self-reliant nation.

Today, two and a half years later, General Nicholson is still in the corner turning business.

The corner turning in Afghanistan is similar to an earlier war the U.S. had fought in vain:

Of course, the Afghanistan War (ostensibly part of a Global War on Terrorism) differs from the Vietnam War (ostensibly part of the Cold War) in myriad ways. Yet it resembles Vietnam in three crucial respects. First, it drags on with no end in sight. Second, no evidence exists to suggest that mere persistence will produce a positive outcome. Third, those charged with managing the war have long since run out of ideas about how to turn things around.

Another similarity is the constant lying by the military spokespersons. The famous Five o’clock Follies of Vietnam have been replaced by video conferences and drone videos but the central issue is the same. The military is consistently and consciously lying to the public.

How many U.S. troops are there in Afghanistan? By law the Pentagon has to release the deployment numbers every three month. The latest release for September 2017 lists 15,298 soldiers and 1,202 DoD civilians in Afghanistan. But there are 29,092 soldiers listed in “unknown locations”. The generals must have lost these somewhere. The report also lists nearly 2,000 soldiers in Syrian and nearly 9,000 in Iraq. The publicly admitted numbers are way lower. They are as trustworthy as all the “turned corner” claims. Indeed:

The Defense Department’s publicly disclosed data, which tracks U.S. personnel levels in dozens of countries, are “not meant to represent an accurate accounting of troops deployed to any particular region,” said Eric Pahon, a Pentagon spokesman.

The Pentagon clearly states that official data and assertions are “not meant to represent an accurate accounting”. It is a warning. Whatever officials claim about this or that war, about “turned corners”, or casualties, or troop deployments, must be considered to be a lie until it has been confirmed by observation or additional sources.

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The Nightmare Aftermath of a Nuclear Bomb

November 29th, 2017 by Joan Wickersham

On Aug. 6, 1945, the United States dropped a nuclear weapon on the Japanese city of Hiroshima. In the spring of 1946, writer John Hersey went to Japan to interview some survivors. The result was one of the most powerful and influential pieces of writing ever published: a long article which filled an entire issue of The New Yorker and then appeared as a book, “Hiroshima.”

The book is not about politics or policy. It’s about people, and what a nuclear weapon does to them. Hersey focuses on six individuals: a Protestant minister, a seamstress, a factory worker, two doctors, and a German Jesuit priest. All of them were at least three-quarters of a mile away when the bomb went off (virtually everyone closer than that was incinerated).

Hersey recounts, in cool prose that is all the more devastating for its restraint, what happened. First there was the blinding flash of light, then the blast, the collapsing buildings, the flying glass. Then the people trapped, crushed, under rubble. Then the fires. “Now not many people walked in the streets, but a great number sat on the pavement, vomited, waited for death, and died.”

Hospitals were destroyed; more than 1,000 doctors and nurses were killed or injured. Inside one major hospital, the single uninjured doctor labored to take care of the 10,000 wounded who poured in: “Ceilings and partitions had fallen; plaster, dust, blood, and vomit were everywhere. Patients were dying by the hundreds, but there was no one to carry away the corpses.” Wounded and burned people made their way to the banks of the river, where they lay all night shivering and festering, and strafed by the whirlwind that arose in the freakishly bomb-charged atmosphere; by morning many of them had drowned, too weak to retreat from the rising tide.

Hersey’s survivors couldn’t comprehend the magnitude of what had happened to them or to their city. The center of the city was gone, leveled. What was left was on fire. Each of them wandered in a world of nightmarish scenes. Hersey lets the vivid detail speak for itself. The pastor, trying to rescue survivors, “reached down and took a woman by the hands, but her skin slipped off in huge, glove-like pieces.” A priest carrying water to victims came upon a group of 20 soldiers in the underbrush. “Their faces were wholly burned, their eye sockets were hollow, the fluid from their melted eyes had run down their cheeks.”

In all, over 100,000 people died in the immediate aftermath of the bombing. Thousands more suffered from the long-term, often ultimately deadly, aftereffects of radiation.

Hersey’s great achievement is to translate these unimaginable numbers, this unspeakable death and damage, into individual stories. Before I read his book I thought I knew what a nuclear weapon was and what it could do; afterward I realized that I hadn’t known anything.

I was lucky enough to take a writing workshop with John Hersey in college. He was a grave, meticulous, self-effacing teacher. I have always admired “Hiroshima” as a piece of masterful prose. But this month, listening to the increasingly strident, irresponsible, and dangerous rhetoric from the White House, I got out the book and read it again. I felt its urgency and its relevance for today.

The story of six people at Hiroshima is the strongest possible indictment of nuclear weapons. Looking this closely at what happened, as Hersey did and as he allows his readers to do, is the best way to make sure it never happens again.

We have to look.

Joan Wickersham’s column appears regularly in the Globe.

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Featured image: Rehashing the posturing of her long-departed predecessor, Adlai Stevenson during the Cuban missile crisis, Nikki Haley denounced the incident at Khan Shaykhun by displaying a number of terrible photographs. However, the UNO-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism refused to authenticate these alleged elements of “proof”. We note the hawk Jeffrey Feltman sitting by the ambassador’s side.

While Presidents Putin and Trump continue to make progress on the question of Syria, the United States senior civil servants in service at the UN have locked into a round of arm-wrestling with Russia. Refusing to investigate a crime that they have already tried a priori, they provoked not one, but four vetoes at the Security Council. For Thierry Meyssan, the schizophrenic behaviour of the United States on the international stage is a demonstration of the divisions within the Trump administration and the decline of US imperialism.

***

Decidedly, very little has changed since 11 September 2001. The United States continue to manipulate international public opinion and the tools of the United Nations, no doubt for different reasons, but still with the same contempt for the truth.

In 2001, the representatives of the United States and the United Kingdom, John Negroponte and Stewart Eldon, assured that their two countries had just attacked Afghanistan in legitimate defence after the attacks committed in New York and Washington [1]. The Secretary of State, Colin Powell, promised to hand the Security Council a complete dossier presenting proof of Afghan responsibility. 16 years later, this document has still not been seen.

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In 2003, the same Colin Powell came to explain to the Security Council, during a speech which was relayed by the televisions of the whole world, that Iraq was also implicated in the attacks of 11 September, and that it was preparing new acts of aggression against the United States by means of weapons of mass destruction [2]. However, once he had retired from his functions in the US government, General Powell admitted on a TV channel in his own country that the many accusations in his speech were all false [3]. 14 years after this speech, we are still waiting for the United States to apologise to the Security Council.

Everyone has forgotten the US accusations concerning the responsibility of President Saddam Hussein in the attacks of 9/11 – since then, Washington has attributed these same attacks to Saudi Arabia, and again, today, to Iran, but without ever providing the proof for any of these four cases). However, we do remember the debate, which lasted for months, about weapons of mass destruction. At the time, the United Nations Monitoring, Verification and Inspection Commission (UNMOVIC) was unable to find the slightest trace of these weapons. A conflict developed between Hans Blix, the Swedish director of UNMOVIC and, first, the United States, then the UNO, and finally, the whole of the Western world. Washington claimed that Mr. Blix had not found the weapons because he was a negligent worker, while Blix himself assured that Iraq had never possessed the capacity to build such weapons. But whatever, the United States bombed Baghdad, invaded Iraq, overthrew President Saddam Hussein and hanged him, occupied his country and plundered it.

US methods after 2001 were totally different from any that had preceded them. In 1991, President Bush the Father had made certain that he had international law on his side before he attacked Iraq, having pushed President Saddam Hussein to invade Kuwait and to dig in. He had thus obtained the support of almost all the nations in the world. On the contrary, in 2003, Bush the Son settled for lying and then lying some more. Many States distanced themselves from Washington, and we saw the greatest pacifist demonstrations in History, from Paris to Sydney, from Beijing to Mexico.

In 2012, the UN Department of Political Affairs drew up a project for the total and unconditional surrender of Syria [4]. Its director, US citizen Jeffrey Feltman, ex-Under-Secretary of State for Hillary Clinton, used all the means at his disposal to create the greatest coalition in History and accuse Syria of all manner of crimes, none of which were ever proven.

If the States which possess the Feltman document have decided not to publish it, their intention is simply to preserve the United Nations. It is indeed unacceptable that the might and means of the UNO were used to promote war, when the institution was created in order to preserve peace. Since I am not held to the same obligations as a State, I have published a detailed study of this ignoble document in “Right Before Our Eyes” [5].

In 2017, the UNO-OPCW Joint Investigative Mechanism, created at the request of Syria in order to investigate the use of chemical weapons on its territory, became the object of the same struggle which had earlier opposed Hans Blix to Washington. Except that this time, the fronts were reversed. In 2003, the UNO was defending peace. This is no longer the case, since Jeffrey Feltman was reappointed and is still the number 2 of the UNO. This time it’s Russia which is opposing the pro-US international civil servants in the name of the Charter.

Although the work of the Joint Investigative Mechanism was debated in normal fashion during its first period – from September 2015 to May 2017 – the discussions risked dichotomy when Guatemalan Edmond Mulet nominated the Argentine Virginia Gamba as its director; a nomination which may be imputed to the new Secretary General of the UNO, Portuguese António Guterres.

The Joint Investigative Mechanism mobilises international civil servants from the UNO and the OPCW. This prestigious international organisation received the Nobel Peace Prize in 2013, in particular for its work of supervision on the destruction of Syrian chemical weapons by the United States and Russia. However, its director, Turkish citizen Ahmet Üzümcü, has since moved on. In June 2015, he was invited to Telfs Buchen (Austria) for the meeting of the Bilderberg Group, the NATO club.

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In December 2015, Ahmet Üzümcü was decorated with the Légion d’honneur by the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Laurent Fabius, the man for whom President el-Assad “has no right to be alive” and al-Qaïda were “doing a good job”.

The question was all the more serious in that in 2003, the dispute opposed, on the one hand Hans Blix, and on the other, the United States, who were threatening to intervene against Iraq if the UNO could prove the existence of weapons of mass destruction. In 2017, however, the dispute was between Russia and Edmond Mulet, who may be have been able, a posteriori, to validate US intervention against Syria. Indeed, Washington had already made their minds up, considering Syria as being responsible for a sarin gas attack in Khan Shaykhun, and had already bombed the old air base at Cheyrat [6].

In the event that the Joint Investigative Mechanism should depart in whatever way from Washington’s script, the United States would be obliged to apologise to and indemnify Syria. The pro-US international civil servants therefore considered that their mission was to arrive at the conclusion that Syria had bombed its own population with sarin gas which it had hidden illegally on the air base at Cheyrat.

As from the month of October, the rhetoric began to escalate between certain UNO and Russian civil servants. Contrary to what the Western Press alleged, the disagreement had nothing to do with the conclusions of the Joint Investigative Mechanism, but exclusively with its methods – Moscow refused in advance any conclusion obtained by methods which did not conform with the international principles established in the framework of the Chemical Weapons Convention and the OPCW [7].

Sarin gas is a neurotoxic agent which is extremely lethal for humans. There are variations of this product, chlorosarin and cyclosarin, and an even more dangerous version, VX gas. All these products are absorbed by the skin and pass directly into the blood. They degrade within a few weeks or a few months in the environment, but not without consequences for the animals which may enter into contact with them. When they penetrate the soil, in the absence of oxygen and light, they may be conserved for a long time.

It is enough to look at the photographs of the attack on Khan Shaykhun, which show people taking samples a few hours later without wearing protective suits to cover their skin – to understand immediately that if gas had in fact been used, it could not have been sarin gas or one of its derivatives. For more details, we may consult the study by Professor Theodore Postol of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), in which he debunks, one by one, the arguments of the so-called “experts” from the CIA [8].

In fact, contrary to the principles of the Chemical Weapons Convention, the Investigative Mechanism did not visit the site to take samples, to analyse them, and identify the gas used, if indeed any gas had been used.

Questioned on this subject in May and June 2017 by Russia, the OPCW declared that they had studied the security conditions necessary for such a journey before concluding that it was unnecessary since, according to them, « The use of sarin is not in doubt ».

The Investigative Mechanism did, however, visit the air base in Shayrat where, according to Washington, the sarin gas had been illegally stored and loaded onto the bombers. But then, despite the insistence of Russia, they refused to take samples.

The Investigative Mechanism also refused to study the revelations by Syria concerning the supply of gas to the jihadists by US and British companies Federal Laboratories, NonLethal Technologies, and Chemring Defence UK [9].

The United States and their allies themselves wrote into their project for resolution, presented on 16 November, the requirement for international Civil servants to carry out their investigations in a « manner appropriate to the realisation of their mandate » [10].

Russia rejected the report by the Investigative Mechanism in view of its amateurism, and refused on three occasions to accept reappointment for its mandate. It opposed its veto on 24 October [11], and on 16 [12] and 17 November, as it had done on 12 April [13] when the United States and France [14] attempted to condemn Syria for this alleged sarin gas attack. These were the 8th, 9th, 10th and 11th times that it used its veto on the Syrian question.

We do not know why Washington presented, or had presented by proxy, the same assertion to the Security Council on four different occasions from four different angles. These stammering attempts had already been seen at the start of the war against Syria, on 4 October 2011, 4 February and 19 July 2012, when France and the United States attempted to have Syria condemned by the Council for what they called the repression of the Syrian spring. At that time, Russia affirmed on the contrary that this was not a case of civil war, but of external aggression. Each time, the Westerners retorted that they would « convince » their Russian partner.

It is interesting to observe that the Western ‘doxa’ pretends that the war in Syria began with a democratic revolution which went wrong and was finally recuperated by jihadist forces. But, contrary to what was alleged, there is no proof of the slightest demonstration in favour of democracy in 2011-2012 in Syria. All the videos published at the time were either in favour of President el-Assad, or against the Syrian Arab Republic, never for democracy. Not one video shows pro-democracy slogans or posters. All the videos of the alleged « revolutionary demonstrations » from this period were shot on Friday evenings as the Sunni mosques emptied out, never on another day, and never at meeting places other than Sunni mosques.

It is true that in certain videos, we can hear phrases which contain the word « freedom ». If we listen carefully, we notice that the demonstrators are not calling for « Freedom » in the Western sense of the word, but for the « Freedom to apply charia law ». If you can find a traceable document of a demonstration of more than 50 people which contradicts my statement, please send it to me and I will not fail to print it.

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In order to avoid the occasion for his opposition to accuse him of having gone to collect new orders from KGBist Vladimir Putin, President Trump did not take a private interview with him – but here the two men demonstrate their compatibility (Đà Nẵng, 11 November 2017).

We could interpret the stubborn US manipulation of facts as a sign that the Trump administration is aligning itself with the policies of the previous four mandates. But this hypothesis is countered by the signature of a secret Memorandum in Amman, on 8 November, between Jordan [15], Russia, and the United States, and by the Joint Declaration by Presidents Putin and Trump, on 11 November, in Đà Nẵng, on the sidelines of the APEC summit [16].

The first document has not been published, but we know via certain indiscretions that it does not take into account the Israëli demand for the creation of a neutral zone on Syrian territory, not beyond the Israëli frontier, but 60 kilometres beyond the 1967 cease-fire line. Never missing an occasion to add fuel to the flames, the British government reacted by publishing, by the BBC, satellite photographs of the Iranian military base of El-Kiswah (45 kilometres beyond the cease-fire line) [17]. As expected, Israëli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immediately rejected the agreement between the major powers and announced that he reserved the right of Israël to engage in military intervention in Syria in order to preserve its security [18] – this comment constitutes a threat and as such, is a violation of the Charter of the United Nations. In fact, everyone is aware that for the last seven years, the pretext of weapons for Lebanon is still working. As an example, on 1 November, Tsahal illegally bombed an industrial zone in Hassiye, pretending that it was destroying weapons destined for Hezbollah. In reality, the target was a copper factory, indispensable for restoring the distribution of electricity in the country [19].

The Declaration of Đà Nẵng includes some notable advances. It establishes, for the first time, that all Syrians will be able to participate in the next Presidential election. In fact, until now, exiled Syrians have been forbidden to vote by the members of the international Coalition, in violation of the Vienna Convention. As for the « National Coalition for Syrian Revolution and Opposition Forces », it has boycotted the elections because that instance was dominated by the Muslim Brotherhood, according to whom « The Coran is our Law », and there is no place for elections in an Islamist regime.

The contrast is startling between the progress of Russo-US negotiations concerning Syria on the one hand, and on the other, the bullheadedness of the same United States in denying the facts before the Security Council.

It is interesting to note the embarrassment of the European Press – faced with the work of Presidents Putin and Trump as well as the infantile mulishness of the US delegation at the Security Council. Almost no organ of the media mentions the Amman Memorandum, and they all commented the Joint Declaration before it was published, based on a simple note from the White House. As for Ambassador Nikki Haley’s tantrums at the Security Council, they unanimously noted that the two major powers had reached no agreement, and ignored the Russian arguments which had nonetheless been exhaustively explained by Moscow.

We are obliged to note that if President Trump is attempting to pay off the imperialist policies of his predecessors, the pro-US international civil servants from the UNO are incapable of adapting to the real world. After 16 years of systematic lies, they can no longer think in terms of fact, but only in thrall to their fantasies. They are no longer able to avoid taking their desires for realities. This behaviour is characteristic of Empires in decline.

Translated by Pete Kimberley

Notes

[1] Reference : UN S/2001/946 and S/2001/947

[2] « Discours de M. Powell au Conseil de sécurité de l’ONU », par Colin L. Powell, Réseau Voltaire, 11 février 2003.

[3] “Colin Powell on Iraq, Race, and Hurricane Relief”, ABC, September 8, 2005.

[4] “Germany and the UNO against Syria”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Al-Watan (Syria) , Voltaire Network, 28 January 2016.

[5] Sous nos yeux. Du 11-Septembre à Donald Trump, Thierry Meyssan, Demi-Lune, 2017. Next to be published in English under the title Right Before Our Eyes. From 11 September to Donald Trump.

[6] “Why did Trump bomb Cheyrat?”, by Thierry Meyssan, Translation Pete Kimberley, Al-Watan (Syria) , Voltaire Network, 2 May 2017.

[7] “Comments by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Russian Federation concerning the Syrian chemical dossier”, Voltaire Network, 23 October 2017.

[8] “Several serious errors in the CIA Report on the Khan Shaykhun incident”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 15 April 2017.

[9] “Chemical weapons: From London and Washington to the jihadists”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 16 August 2017.

[10] “Draft Resolution on the Joint UN-OPCW Survey Mechanism (Russian Veto)”, Voltaire Network, 16 November 2017.

[11] “Draft Resolution on the Renewal of the Joint Investigative Mechanism (Russian Veto)”, “Use of chemical weapons in Syria (Vetos)”, Voltaire Network, 24 October 2017.

[12] “Draft Resolution on the Joint UN-OPCW Survey Mechanism (Russian Veto)”, Voltaire Network, 16 November 2017.

[13] “Security Council meeting on Khan Cheïkhoun (Russian veto)”, Voltaire Network, 12 April 2017.

[14] « Évaluation française de l’attaque chimique de Khan Cheikhoun », Réseau Voltaire, 26 avril 2017.

[15] “Jordan lends its support to Syria”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 30 August 2017.

[16] “Statement by the Presidents of the Russian Federation and the United States of America”, Voltaire Network, 11 November 2017.

[17] “Iran building permanent military base in Syria – claim”, Gordon Corera, BBC, November 10, 2017.

[18] “Israel rejects the Russian-US Peace Agreement”, Translation Anoosha Boralessa, Voltaire Network, 20 November 2017.

[19] “Israel bombs a copper plant in Syria”, by Mounzer Mounzer, Voltaire Network, 3 November 2017.

All images in this article are from the author.

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A factional struggle inside the ruling Zimbabwe African National Union Patriotic Front (ZANU-PF) party has created the conditions for the resignation of longtime leader President Robert Gabriel Mugabe on November 21.

Through a project entitled “Operation Restore Legacy”, the president was removed from his leadership position as first secretary of the party along with being the head-of-state of the Republic of Zimbabwe within a matter of eight days.

The removal of the first secretary and president on the surface appeared to have been the outcome of divisions within ZANU-PF where rival elements surrounding the former Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa on the one side, and First Lady Grace Mugabe on the other, reached an impasse stemming from irreconcilable differences. President Mugabe was in the concluding months of his present term of office scheduled to expire in mid-2018.

President Mugabe had joined the national liberation movement at a young age while working as an educator and youth leader in the former British settler colonial outpost known as Rhodesia. During the late 1950s and early 1960s he had lived, worked and studied in the West African state of Ghana, the-then fountainhead of Pan-Africanism under Prime Minister and eventual President Dr. Kwame Nkrumah.

After spending a decade in prison in the 1960s and early 1970s, Mugabe relocated in Tanzania and Mozambique to work full time as a leader of ZANU. In 1979, he played a pioneering role alongside Zimbabwe African People’s Union Patriotic Front (ZAPU-PF), headed by former Vice President Joshua Nkomo, in the negotiations for the Lancaster House agreement paving the way towards non-racial democratic elections in April 1980 which brought Mugabe to power as prime minister of a coalition government in its first five years. The initial government included the remnants of the settler colonialists headed by former Prime Minister Ian Smith. By 1985, Zimbabwe had become a republic with ZANU-PF as the leading political party. In 1987, ZANU and ZAPU merged to form a unitary ruling party.

The divisions within ZANU-PF came to a head after the termination of Vice President Emmerson Mnangagwa in early November. Mnangagwa was relieved of his duties after an incident in Bulawayo when First Lady Grace Mugabe was booed while speaking before a youth interface rally. These actions taken by the president’s office was said to have been in response to a plot to overthrow Mugabe by a faction in the party led by Mnangagwa.

In addition to the sacking of Mnangagwa, reports were circulated that at least 100 other party officials were being examined for possible expulsion from both the organization and government. On November 13, Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) Commander General Constantino Chiwenga held a press conference along with 90 other military officers where he threatened intervention if the purges did not cease.

Tanks Move into the Streets of Harare

This military press conference was not covered by the state-run Herald newspaper or other ZANU-PF controlled media agencies. The following day, November 14, social media and foreign news bureaus began to report on irregular tank movements in the capital of Harare. Several hours after sundown stories began to emerge claiming that the Zimbabwe Defense Forces (ZDF) had seized the national Zimbabwe Broadcasting Corporation (ZBC) television station in preparation for a statement to the country. Rumors were rife throughout Zimbabwe, across Africa and the world that a military coup was underway inside the country.

Later on in the early morning hours of 4:00am Zimbabwe time on November 15, Major General S.B. Moyo went on television saying that there had not been a military coup. He said that President Mugabe remained head-of-state and that the security for the leader and his family were guaranteed. Moyo noted that the ZDF was only targeting “criminals” surrounding the president in order to prevent a further deterioration of the social situation which could become violent.

Several hours after this, President Jacob Zuma of the neighboring Republic of South Africa spoke with Mugabe on the telephone. Zuma relayed in an interview over the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) that President Mugabe told him he was confined to his residential home in the capital of Harare. He also told Zuma that no harm was done to him or his family.

Zuma is currently the chair of the regional 15-member Southern African Development Community (SADC). The following day on Thursday November 16, Zuma deployed the Minister of Defense Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula to sit in on mediation talks between Mugabe and the military. Photographs of the meeting which took place at State House in Harare were published on the website of the Zimbabwe Herald (Zimpapers).

Reports on Friday November 17 showed Mugabe presiding over a graduation ceremony at the Zimbabwe Open University (ZOU). Nonetheless, by Sunday November 19, there were dispatches sent out in the international press saying the ZANU-PF Central Committee had voted to recall the president from leadership and consequently as head-of-state. These same reports also emphasized that the First Lady Grace Mugabe was being expelled from the party.

Party and War Veterans Call for Mugabe’s Removal

In these same articles, it was said that Mugabe had until Monday November 20 to step down from office. The president addressed the nation and the world on Sunday November 19 where he acknowledged the factional conflict within the ZANU-PF party. However, he did not resign and alluded to the upcoming special congress of the party in which he said as first secretary would preside over.

Another press conference had been held on November 15 after Moyo’s television statement and the eventual broadcast of Chiwenga’s remarks from two days earlier. The Zimbabwe National Liberation War Veteran’s Association (ZNLWVA) said in the press conference at Club Chambers in Harare that they supported the actions taken by the military leadership and would hold a demonstration on November 18 in Harare. Spokespersons for ZNLWVA also accused leading ZANU-PF and government officials associated with the party faction aligned with First Lady Grace Mugabe of being criminals and even Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) operatives.

Zimbabwe Senator Monica and ZNLWVA Leader Christopher Mutsvangwa

After the deadline set by the ZANU-PF Central Committee passed on November 20, impeachment resolutions were threatened by party Members of Parliament. On November 21, a series of charges were spelt out by Senator Monica Mutsvangwa of Manicaland Province accusing the president of several constitutional violations.

This impeachment resolution language read by Mutsvangwa said in part:

“President Mugabe is old and he needs to be hand held. As such, he is no longer fit for office…. The President has abrogated his constitutional mandate to his wife who makes public utterances on issues of government like the appointing and dismissal of Government Ministers and senior civil servants. This motion is moved in terms of Section 97 (1) which provides for the removal of The President or Vice President from office. The charges are (a) Serious misconduct; (b) Failure to obey, uphold or defend this Constitution; (c) Willful violation of this Constitution; or (d) Inability to perform the functions of the office because of physical or mental incapacity.”

Later the debate on the impeachment resolution was terminated after the House Speaker Jacob Mudenda read out a letter said to have been from Mugabe tendering his resignation. Through international media outlets scenes of jubilation were shown for several hours in the streets of Harare. The resignation letter was later published in the Zimbabwe Herald along with reports that Vice President Phelekezela Mphoko was now acting president until Mnangagwa could be sworn in by Friday November 24.

International Implications of “Operation Restore Legacy”

Judging from the response of the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) the government in London was delighted with the removal of Mugabe from the leadership of ZANU-PF and the Zimbabwe state. However, the former colonial power is quick to advise the new government in Harare on how it should proceed.

British Foreign Minister Boris Johnson said in a Twitter post that he does not regret Mugabe’s downfall, calling the resignation “a moment of hope for the people of Zimbabwe”. This echoed the remarks of Prime Minster Theresa May who said that the sudden removal of Mugabe would “forge a new path free of the oppression that characterized his rule. In recent days we have seen the desire of the Zimbabwean people for free and fair elections and the opportunity to rebuild the country’s economy under a legitimate government.” (Al Jazeera, Nov. 21)

A BBC article arrogantly inquired on November 22:

“So, will Emmerson Mnangagwa be able to take Zimbabwe’s economy off life support and at least start to put it on the road to recovery? Analysts are very skeptical that a quick solution is even feasible. The euphoria that has gripped the nation has certainly raised hopes that the future will be brighter, but if that improved sentiment is to deliver economic dividends, the government needs to make some drastic reforms. In 2009, Mr. Mugabe signed the Indigenization and Economic Empowerment Act (IEEA) into law, which aimed to place 51% of companies into the hands of Black Zimbabweans.”

The IEEA was a response to the dominance of the Zimbabwe economy by British settlers and foreign corporations. A land redistribution program enacted in 2000 set off the deepening of sanctions against Harare because the ZANU-PF government sought to give the land back to its rightful owners who had been victimized by the onslaught of British imperialism in the late 19th century.

As it relates to the role of the United States in the recent developments in Zimbabwe, the Voice of America (VOA) acknowledged in a report published on November 21 that the State Department has been conducting what it described as “behind the scenes talks” with officials of the ZANU-PF government and western-backed opposition forces inside the country. The article outlines some of the preconditions set down by Washington for lifting sanctions on the Southern African state which has relied upon the Republic of South Africa, the regional Southern African Development Community (SADC), the Republic of Mozambique, the People’s Republic of China and other fraternal states in order to stave off an already dire economic situation imposed by imperialism.

Nike Ching of the VOA writes:

“The way for Washington to lift sanctions is for Harare to carry out the due process, to respect human rights, and to give the opposition a genuine opportunity to form a government, said (Donald) Yamamoto (the U.S. Undersecretary for African Affairs). ‘What we don’t want is a manipulation by the government or by the ruling ZANU-PF party – holding rush elections, not taking into consideration a lot of the reform issues that the opposition wants to implement; also, not giving political space for the Zimbabwe people for them to express what they want to see in a new government,’ he said. U.S. Ambassador to Zimbabwe Harry Thomas has been meeting with officials from the ZANU-PF party and the opposition party behind the scenes to try and help push the political process forward.”

Both SADC and the African Union (AU) have expressed concerns over events in Zimbabwe emanating from “Operation Restore Legacy.” Zimbabwe under Mugabe has been an ideological and political base for Pan-Africanism and anti-imperialism on the continent.

In this same above-mentioned report in Al Jazeera, it says:

“Alpha Conde, president of Guinea and African Union (AU) chief, said it is ‘a shame’ Mugabe ‘has to leave through the back door.’ He added, however, that he was ‘very pleased’ with Mugabe’s decision to resign, noting that the AU had warned against a coup in Zimbabwe. Hailing Mugabe’s role in Zimbabwe’s fight for independence, Conde called Mugabe ‘an African hero.’ Mugabe will never be forgotten, he was a great fighter,’ he was quoted as saying by Guinean media.”

One opposition media agency, Bulawayo 24, published an unsubstantiated report saying that neighboring Zambian President Edgar Lungu was willing to militarily intervene in Zimbabwe to place his troops under Mugabe’s command. Western-backed entities have emerged on the streets of Harare as well carrying signs attacking both the AU and SADC as was in evidence during the demonstrations on November 18. (Nov. 16)

Critical Issues for the Future of Zimbabwe

At least four important aspects of ZANU-PF’s domestic and foreign policy will be important to observe in the days and weeks to come in order to assess the direction of the Mnangagwa government.

Zimbabwe ZANU-PF figures involved in factional disputes includes Grace Mugabe, Emmerson Mnangagwa and President Mugabe

The land reform program, popularly referred to as the “Third Chimurenga”, has been a cornerstone of domestic policy since 2000. Will the land redistribution project be maintained, moderated or reversed?

Secondly, the Indigenization policy is important for all post-colonial states in Africa due to the dominance of foreign capital over the national and regional economies. Neo-colonialism has failed to provide genuine independence, sustainable growth and development across the continent.

Another major question is whether Zimbabwe can maintain its commitment to regional integration and industrialization, both within SADC and the AU. Mugabe served as Chair of the AU in 2015 advancing the cause of economic integration and independence from western capitalist states. Just earlier this year, the president presented a fundraising check for $1million to the AU in order to set an example for individual state commitment to the continental body.

Finally, Pentagon military involvement in Africa has grown substantially over the last decade with the formation of the U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The Mugabe government has kept AFRICOM out of the country.

The presence of AFRICOM in Somalia, Niger, Mali, Nigeria and other AU member-states has not resulted in greater security and social stability. Quite the opposite has occurred with burgeoning instability, economic crises and population displacement.

Ultimately, it is up to the Zimbabwe people themselves to chart a future course. Nevertheless, despite the apparent errors of the recent period the legacy of Robert Mugabe and ZANU-PF remains a sterling example of national liberation, Pan-Africanism and struggle against imperialism throughout the world.

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Is the Israeli-Saudi Alliance Planning to Wage War On Iran?

November 29th, 2017 by Dr. Ludwig Watzal

Israel, the USA, and Saudi Arabia are doing everything to lay the foundations for war against Iran.

That is why Iran and its people must be demonized and dehumanized. The Israeli government has  been doing this since the Shah of Iran was overthrown in 1979 by the Iranian people.

In general, all Sunni Muslim countries get along well with Iran, except Saudi Arabia and those Arab regimes that succumb to their financial pressure. 

In a flattering interview with the New York Times, the Saudi crown prince and future king, Mohammed bin Salman, called the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, the “new Hitler of the Middle East.”[1] And he continued with a skewed comparison, saying:

“But we learned from Europe that appeasement doesn’t work. We don’t want the new Hitler in Iran to repeat what happened in Europe in the Middle East.”

The same rhetoric was used by Netanyahu when he agitated against the nuclear deal with Iran.

Besides the silliness of such comparisons, it’s an incredible insult to the highest Shiite authority by a Sunni Muslim, who is going to be the next “King of Saudi Arabia.” The Iranian clerical elite will never forgive and forget. They rebuked this insult elegantly saying:

“No one in the world and the international arena gives credit to him [MBS] because of his immature and weak-minded behavior and remarks.”

As an old deep-rooted people, the Iranians gave bin Salman a good advice:

“Now that he has decided to follow the path of famous regional dictators … he should think about their fate as well.”

A regime that can only survive thanks to the “American and Zionist sword” not to mention their financial tribute in the form of large weapons purchases and mercenary pay for terrorist fighters should have not future.

But there is a sneaky plan behind bin Salman’s slander. It started with Donald Trump‘s silly speech he delivered during his visit to Saudi Arabia in which he called Iran “the top state sponsor of terrorism.” And Israel’s Prime Minister Netanyahu called Iran “the world’s leading sponsor of terrorism.” Both leaders cooperate very closely in deranging the nuclear deal signed under the Obama administration. Now, Mohammed bin Salman has thrown himself into the fray.

At least for the time being, President Trump is not jet willing, despite his anti-Iranian bias and rhetoric, to go to war with Iran for Israel’s and Saudi Arabia’s sake. To sacrifice American lives for two rogue regimes would be politically very unwise.

That is why an image cultivation of the Saudi regime has already started in the United Kingdom and the US. In the case of Israel, the reporting in the US and the UK are one-sided and incredibly biased. Hence, the Saudis have to catch up.

The Guardian and the leading newspaper of the US Empire, the New York Times,  have started to paint the new Saudi strongman, Mohammed bin Salman, as a kind of visionary reformer, although he has been spreading terror and blood since he took office.

That Saudi Arabia has been fighting a brutal war against the people of Yemen, supports the different terror groups in Syria and stirs up tensions against Iran is not of object of concern by Thomas L. Friedman of the New York Times. Even bin Salman’s crackdown on large parts of the political and economic elite and his bloody purge against political opponents is portrayed by the NYT as a fight against “corruption.” Nobody should be surprised that the US and its major media outlets are embracing this brutal strongman because he serves US interests.

While the Guardian was full of praise for bin Salman throughout the year, the NYT reported more cautiously until Thomas L. Friedman took over. In a kind of press release, the Guardian was full of praise for the future Saudi King. He did arrest not only 11 peopled but also sidelined 20 billionaires. That several people died in an organized helicopter crash was not worth reporting by the Guardian.

Friedman didn’t want to be in no way inferior to the Guardian’s uncritical reporting. He even topped it writing:

“The most significant reform process underway anywhere in the Middle East today is in Saudi Arabia.”

All the other Arab Spring movements failed miserably happening from bottom up; the Saudi one is led from the top down by bin Salman. That the Crown Prince wants to reform a degenerated Saudi version of Islam seems worth reporting. Time will tell. Reading all these articles, one can ask who paid for these base flatteries.

Why didn’t Friedman ask bin Salman about his 500 million US-Dollars worth yacht? Or the cost of the last vacation in Morocco, where he and his father’s royal household spent 950 million US-Dollars. So much to combat corruption, Mr. Friedman.

Bin Salman also maintains an unconventional and rough diplomatic contact with other heads of states when they are on a Saudi drip-feed.

When Lebanese Prime Minister Saad Hariri visited Saudi Arabia, he was forced to announce his resignation via Saudi TV. Apparently he feared for his life. For a few days, he stood under house arrest. Due to the speech of Hassan Nasrallah, the leader of Hezbollah, the whole Lebanese leadership rallied behind Nasrallah and called for Hariri’s return to announce either his resignation or to stay in office.

The President of France, Emmanuel Macron, also intervened on behalf of Hariri. Finally, Hariri could leave Saudi Arabia via France from where he returned to Lebanon to celebrate the country’s independence day. Bin Salman’s farce failed miserably. Almost the same happened to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. The Saudis ordered him to Riyadh and presented him an outline of the American Israeli “peace plan.” After returning to Ramallah, Abbas rejected the US Zionist document of surrender.

It’s an open secret that Saudi Arabia and Israel are cultivating intensive diplomatic contacts not only on security issues. A rare interview by the head of Israel’s armed forces to a Saudi owned news outlet confirms  close links between the two countries. Despite the denial of the Saudi foreign minister Adel el-Jubeir, these rumors won’t disappear.

“There are no relations between Saudi Arabia and Israel,” Jubeir said.

Formally, he seems correct, but what about the informal contacts. Hasn’t Mohammed bin Salman visited Israel in camera?

According to Danny Danon, Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations, Israel enjoys “warm relations” with many Arab countries despite the fact that these nations officially refuse to recognize Israel diplomatically. Prime Minister Netanyahu has been boosting for quite some time about close contacts with several Arab countries.

The Israeli Saudi US American alliance aims at Iran. They want to push back Iran’s influence in Iraq and Syria. For the time being, bin Salman’s plan to assist Israel in waging war against Lebanon to crush Hezbollah has failed. Hariri was not the Saudi stooge bin Salman thought.

What these three rogue states have in common is the destruction of Iran like they did with Iraq, Syria or Libya. Netanyahu has warned President Bashar al-Assad not to allow Iran to build military bases in Syria.

It remains to be seen whether the new (alleged) “Axis of Evil” or the Russian Iranian Turkish alliance will prevail in the Middle East.

So far, the US-Israel-Saudi “alliance” have brought devastation to the region.

Note

[1] https://www.nytimes.com/2017/11/23/opinion/saudi-prince-mbs-arab-spring.html

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The ISIS-held pocket on the western bank of the Euphrates River is close to a full collapse as the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and the Tiger Forces are advancing on the last ISIS-held points there.

On November 27 and 28, fierce clashes were ongoing in the areas of Asharah and Makhan. According to pro-government sources, both towns are now in the hands of the SAA, but ISIS continues to attack them.

Once the attacks are repelled, government forces will focus on liberating the last ISIS-held town in the pocket – Quriyah. Then, the ISIS-held part of the western Euphrates bank between al-Bukamal and Salihiyah will be the main target of the Syrian military.

On November 28, the Syrian Defense Ministry announced that the SAA had liberated Quriyah. However, no photos or videos are available yet.

In the Eastern Ghouta region, near Damascus, sporadic clashes between the SAA and militants continued in the area near the Armoured Vehicles Base. Ahrar al-Sham and its allies have conducted no further attempts to capture the base after the recent failed advance.

Pro-government sources also speculated that the SAA is going to encircle the militant—held part of Jabar district advancing along the M5 highway. However, no major attacks have taken place as yet.

In northeastern Hama, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) to its surprise found that ISIS had seized over a dozen villages from its relatively moderate counterparts. According to reports, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (HTS) took back Abu ‘Ajwah, Rasm Sakkaf and Shayhat.

Separately, the SAA liberated the village of Mustarihah from HTS in the nearby area.

The violence in Syria has calmed down slightly after the liberation of key ISIS strongholds in eastern Syria. Now, the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance and US-backed forces are focused on clearing the remaining ISIS-held areas there.

According to pro-government experts, HTS will become the obvious target for the military operations of the Russian-Syrian-Iranian alliance after the full defeat of ISIS. However, much will depend on the results of the upcoming Sochi conference on Syria, which will involve Iran, Turkey, Russia, the Syrian government and a notable part of the Syrian opposition.

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Several thousand small-holder farmers from across India held a massive demonstration in New Delhi, from 20-21 November to draw attention to the acute agrarian distress plaguing the countryside and seeking immediate intervention by the Union Government.

Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha and South Indian Coordination Committee of Farmers Movements – who are also part of the global peasant movement La Via Campesina, joined in large numbers.

For long, farmers movements and civil society organisations in India have been pointing out the problem of mounting debt in rural farm households.

A steady and steep increase in cost of production over the last three decades, near-stagnant farm incomes and increasing cost of rural household expenses, which are exacerbated by crumbling public welfare services and privatisation drives, have resulted in nearly 60% of the farm households trapped in a cycle of debt. Back-to-back droughts and unseasonal rains since 2012 resulting in severe crop losses, a crash in farm prices over the last several seasons have only worsened the crisis.

On a set of 25 crops, the Government of India offer a guaranteed and minimum support price across to the country’s farmers. However, for several years now as social movements have pointed out, this support price is marginally above – in some instances below – the cost of production.

In 2014, while campaigning for general elections, Narendra Modi who is currently the Prime Minister, had publicly promised to procure farm produces at a higher rate, which would be at least 1.5 times the cost of production. Yet, this is far from reality. What is worse is also that farmers are right now forced to sell their produces at levels that are even lower than the minimum support price.

Green revolution and the subsequent opening up of Indian agriculture to the global free market, has exposed the country’s small-farmers to unfair and unequal competition on the world scene. Agricultural policies that are focused on exporting food, rather than promoting local production and distribution has only favoured agribusinesses and severely marginalised the peasants and small-holder farmers. Despite this, global institutions such as the WTO continue to mount pressure on the Indian government to reduce the support price further and to lower the import tariffs!

The consequences have been devastating. Since 1995, at least 300,000 farmers in India have been forced to commit suicide unable to bear their piling debt and harassments from lenders. Government data shows that on an average 2000 farmers are forced to quit agriculture everyday and migrate to cities in search of work in factories and construction sites.

The resurgence of farmers’ movements in India

The discontent, which has long been brewing in the countryside is now knocking at the doors of the national capital.

Over 180 farmers’ organisations across India have come together under the banner of All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee (AIKSCC) to ensure that the farmers present a united resistance against the government’s apathy and ill conceived policies.

India has a rich history of massive farmers’ mobilisations – including those led by Mahendra Singh Tikait of Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) and of the ones led by Prof. Nanjundaswamy of Karnataka Rajya Raitha Sangha (KRRS) and several others.

The current crisis in rural India has led to a resurgence of these struggles and organisations from almost all regions of India are in solidarity to stick together and fight until their demands are met.

Speaking to a massive gathering of several thousand farmers, Chamarasa Patil, a farmer and senior leader of KRRS thundered,

“We know you have police on your side. We know that the police have guns. We know that those guns have bullets, never hesitating to pierce through the flesh of innocent farmers. But you must know that if the 750 million farmers of this country decide to hit the streets, your bullets wont be enough and your governments will vanish in no time. Do not test our patience”.

Mr. Patil was referring to the recent incidents of state atrocities on protesting farmers in Mandsaur, Madhya Pradesh – which resulted in the shooting and killing of farmers.

During the two days, women and men who were assembled at the site of the mobilisation also held a simulated parliamentary-style discussion, in which they collectively placed their demands in the form of a Bill, which they want the Union Government to take up in the upcoming winter session of the Indian Parliament.

During the mobilisations the protesting farmers, also faxed an invitation to the Prime Minister, inviting him to the street and listen in to their demands and concerns. While it did not elicit any response from the Prime Minister’s office, the organisations have now planned to resume the next leg of the agitation from Gujarat, the home state of the Prime Minister and where state elections are to be held soon.

All images in this article are from Via Campesina.

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First published in August 2014, this essay brings to the forefront Washington’s relentless support for Saudi Arabia, a State sponsor of terror, which has been waging since 2015 a war on the people of Yemen, tantamount to genocide.   

America Has Sold Its Soul for Oil

Why Does the U.S. Support a Country which was FOUNDED With Terrorism

A U.S. congressman for 6 years,  who is now a talking head on MSNBC (Joe Scarborough) says that – even if the Saudi government backed the 9/11 attacks – Saudi oil is too important to do anything about it:

This is not an isolated incident. It is a microcosm of U.S.-Saudi relations.

http://my2bucks.files.wordpress.com/2009/01/bush-saudi-hand-holding-1.jpghttp://i.huffpost.com/gen/7992/thumbs/s-BUSHANDSAUDIS-large.jpghttp://www.usnews.com/dbimages/master/10457/FE_DA_090409publicopinion.jpg

 

By way of background, former MI6 agent Alastair Crooke notes that Saudi Arabia was founded with terrorism:

One dominant strand to the Saudi identity pertains directly to Muhammad ibn ʿAbd al-Wahhab (the founder of Wahhabism), and the use to which his radical, exclusionist puritanism was put by Ibn Saud. (The latter was then no more than a minor leader — amongst many — of continually sparring and raiding Bedouin tribes in the baking and desperately poor deserts of the Nejd.)

***

Abd al-Wahhab demanded conformity — a conformity that was to be demonstrated in physical and tangible ways. He argued that all Muslims must individually pledge their allegiance to a single Muslim leader (a Caliph, if there were one). Those who would not conform to this view should be killed, their wives and daughters violated, and their possessions confiscated, he wrote. The list of apostates meriting death included the Shiite, Sufis and other Muslim denominations, whom Abd al-Wahhab did not consider to be Muslim at all.

***

Abd al-Wahhab’s advocacy of these ultra radical views inevitably led to his expulsion from his own town — and in 1741, after some wanderings, he found refuge under the protection of Ibn Saud and his tribe. What Ibn Saud perceived in Abd al-Wahhab’s novel teaching was the means to overturn Arab tradition and convention. It was a path to seizing power.

Ibn Saud’s clan, seizing on Abd al-Wahhab’s doctrine, now could do what they always did, which was raiding neighboring villages and robbing them of their possessions. Only now they were doing it not within the ambit of Arab tradition, but rather under the banner of jihad. Ibn Saud and Abd al-Wahhab also reintroduced the idea of martyrdom in the name of jihad, as it granted those martyred immediate entry into paradise.

***

Their strategy — like that of ISIS today — was to bring the peoples whom they conquered into submission. They aimed to instill fear. In 1801, the Allies attacked the Holy City of Karbala in Iraq. They massacred thousands of Shiites, including women and children. Many Shiite shrines were destroyed, including the shrine of Imam Hussein, the murdered grandson of Prophet Muhammad.

A British official, Lieutenant Francis Warden, observing the situation at the time, wrote: “They pillaged the whole of it [Karbala], and plundered the Tomb of Hussein… slaying in the course of the day, with circumstances of peculiar cruelty, above five thousand of the inhabitants …”

Osman Ibn Bishr Najdi, the historian of the first Saudi state, wrote that Ibn Saud committed a massacre in Karbala in 1801. He proudly documented that massacre saying, “we took Karbala and slaughtered and took its people (as slaves), then praise be to Allah, Lord of the Worlds, and we do not apologize for that and say: ‘And to the unbelievers: the same treatment.’”

In 1803, Abdul Aziz then entered the Holy City of Mecca, which surrendered under the impact of terror and panic (the same fate was to befall Medina, too). Abd al-Wahhab’s followers demolished historical monuments and all the tombs and shrines in their midst. By the end, they had destroyed centuries of Islamic architecture near the Grand Mosque.

***

With the advent of the oil bonanza — as the French scholar, Giles Kepel writes, Saudi goals were to “reach out and spread Wahhabism across the Muslim world … to “Wahhabise” Islam, thereby reducing the “multitude of voices within the religion” to a “single creed” — a movement which would transcend national divisions. Billions of dollars were — and continue to be — invested in this manifestation of soft power.

***

It was this heady mix of billion dollar soft power projection — and the Saudi willingness to manage Sunni Islam both to further America’s interests, as it concomitantly embedded Wahhabism educationally, socially and culturally throughout the lands of Islam — that brought into being a western policy dependency on Saudi Arabia, a dependency that has endured since Abd-al Aziz’s meeting with Roosevelt on a U.S. warship (returning the president from the Yalta Conference) until today.

***

The more radical Islamist movements were perceived by Western intelligence services as being more effective in toppling the USSR in Afghanistan — and in combatting out-of-favor Middle Eastern leaders and states.Why should we be surprised then, that from Prince Bandar’s Saudi-Western mandate to manage the insurgency in Syria against President Assad should have emerged a neo-Ikhwan type of violent, fear-inducing vanguard movement: ISIS?

Frontline notes:

Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab, founder of “Wahhabism,” an austere form of Islam, arrives in the central Arabian state of Najd in 1744 preaching a return to “pure” Islam. He seeks protection from the local emir, Muhammad ibn Saud, head of the Al Saud tribal family, and they cut a deal. The Al Saud will endorse al-Wahhab’s austere form of Islam and in return, the Al Saud will get political legitimacy and regular tithes from al-Wahhab’s followers. The religious-political alliance that al-Wahhab and Saud forge endures to this day in Saudi Arabia.

By the 19th century, the Al Saud has spread its influence across the Arabian Peninsula, stretching from the Red Sea to the Persian Gulf and including the Two Holy Cities of Mecca and Medina.

***

By 1945, the U.S. urgently needs oil facilities to help supply forces fighting in the Second World War. Meanwhile, security is at the forefront of King Abd al-Aziz’s concerns. President Franklin Roosevelt invites the king to meet him aboard the U.S.S. Quincy, docked in the Suez Canal. The two leaders cement a secret oil-for-security pact: The king guarantees to give the U.S. secure access to Saudi oil and in exchange the U.S. will provide military assistance and training to Saudi Arabia and build the Dhahran military base.

U.S. presidents have been extremely close to the Saudi monarchs ever since.

The Progressive notes:

The ideology of the Saudi regime is that of ISIS even if the foreign policies differ,” California State University-Stanislaus Professor Asad AbuKhalil tells The Progressive.

***

Wahhabi Islam [the official ideology of the Saudi monarchy] is fully in sync with ISIS.”

But instead of isolating the Saudi regime from the global mainstream, President Obama paid a visit there earlier this year, meeting with King Abdullah. He reportedly did not discuss the regime’s dubious conduct.

“I can’t think of a more pernicious actor in the region,” British-Pakistani author Mohsin Hamid told me in an interview last year. “The House of Saud has exported this very pernicious form of militant Islam under U.S. watch. Then the United States comes in repeatedly to attack symptoms of this problem without ever addressing the basic issue: Where does it all come from? Who’s at the heart of this thing? It would be like saying that if you have skin rash because of cancer, the best option is to cut off your skin. It doesn’t make any sense.”

Yet, the United States continues with this approach.

Even establishment opinion is recognizing the dimensions of the Saudi problem.

“It can’t be exporting extremism and at the same time ask the United States to protect it,” Retired General (and onetime presidential contender) Wesley Clark recently told CNN.

“Al Qaeda, the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, Boko Haram, the Shabab and others are all violent Sunni Salafi groupings,” Ed Husain of the Council on Foreign Relations recently wrote in the New York Times. “For five decades, Saudi Arabia has been the official sponsor of Sunni Salafism [another term for Wahhabism] across the globe.”

Such entities “have been lavishly supported by the Saudi government, which has appointed emissaries to its embassies in Muslim countries who proselytize for Salafism,” he adds.

***

Then-U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in a December 2009 leaked diplomatic cable that entities in Saudi Arabia were the “most significant source of funding to Sunni terrorist groups worldwide.”

***

Yet the United States keeps mum because the Saudi monarchy serves U.S. interests. Due to its pivotal role in OPEC, it makes sure that crude oil prices don’t rise above a certain level. It is a key purchaser of American weapons. It invests in U.S. government bonds. And it has acted in the past as proxy for covert U.S. actions, such as funneling arms and funding to the Nicaraguan contras.

***

Until Saudi Arabia stops sponsoring the most reactionary brands of Sunni Islam, this U.S. ally will remain responsible for much of the mayhem in the Muslim world.

The Independent headlines “Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country”:

Some time before 9/11, Prince Bandar bin Sultan, once the powerful Saudi ambassador in Washington and head of Saudi intelligence until a few months ago, had a revealing and ominous conversation with the head of the British Secret Intelligence Service, MI6, Sir Richard Dearlove. Prince Bandar told him: “The time is not far off in the Middle East, Richard, when it will be literally ‘God help the Shia’. More than a billion Sunnis have simply had enough of them.”

***

There is no doubt about the accuracy of the quote by Prince Bandar, secretary-general of the Saudi National Security Council from 2005 and head of General Intelligence between 2012 and 2014, the crucial two years when al-Qa’ida-type jihadis took over the Sunni-armed opposition in Iraq and Syria. Speaking at the Royal United Services Institute last week, Dearlove, who headed MI6 from 1999 to 2004, emphasised the significance of Prince Bandar’s words, saying that they constituted “a chilling comment that I remember very well indeed”.

He does not doubt that substantial and sustained funding from private donors in Saudi Arabia and Qatar, to which the authorities may have turned a blind eye, has played a central role in the Isis surge into Sunni areas of Iraq. He said: “Such things simply do not happen spontaneously.” This sounds realistic since the tribal and communal leadership in Sunni majority provinces is much beholden to Saudi and Gulf paymasters, and would be unlikely to cooperate with Isis without their consent.

***

Unfortunately, Christians in areas captured by Isis are finding this is not true, as their churches are desecrated and they are forced to flee. A difference between al-Qa’ida and Isis is that the latter is much better organised; if it does attack Western targets the results are likely to be devastating.

***

Dearlove … sees Saudi strategic thinking as being shaped by two deep-seated beliefs or attitudes. First, they are convinced that there “can be no legitimate or admissible challenge to the Islamic purity of their Wahhabi credentials as guardians of Islam’s holiest shrines”. But, perhaps more significantly given the deepening Sunni-Shia confrontation, the Saudi belief that they possess a monopoly of Islamic truth leads them to be “deeply attracted towards any militancy which can effectively challenge Shia-dom”.

Western governments traditionally play down the connection between Saudi Arabia and its Wahhabist faith, on the one hand, and jihadism, whether of the variety espoused by Osama bin Laden and al-Qa’ida or by Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi’s Isis. There is nothing conspiratorial or secret about these links: 15 out of 19 of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, as was Bin Laden and most of the private donors who funded the operation.

***

But there has always been a second theme to Saudi policy towards al-Qa’ida type jihadis, contradicting Prince Bandar’s approach and seeing jihadis as a mortal threat to the Kingdom. Dearlove illustrates this attitude by relating how, soon after 9/11, he visited the Saudi capital Riyadh with Tony Blair.

He remembers the then head of Saudi General Intelligence “literally shouting at me across his office: ’9/11 is a mere pinprick on the West. In the medium term, it is nothing more than a series of personal tragedies. What these terrorists want is to destroy the House of Saud and remake the Middle East.’” In the event, Saudi Arabia adopted both policies, encouraging the jihadis as a useful tool of Saudi anti-Shia influence abroad but suppressing them at home as a threat to the status quo. It is this dual policy that has fallen apart over the last year.

Saudi sympathy for anti-Shia “militancy” is identified in leaked US official documents. The then US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton wrote in December 2009 in a cable released by Wikileaks that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qa’ida, the Taliban, LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba in Pakistan] and other terrorist groups.”

***

Saudi Arabia and its allies are in practice playing into the hands of Isis which is swiftly gaining full control of the Sunni opposition in Syria and Iraq.

***

For all his gargantuan mistakes, Maliki’s failings are not the reason why the Iraqi state is disintegrating. What destabilised Iraq from 2011 on was the revolt of the Sunni in Syria and the takeover of that revolt by jihadis, who were often sponsored by donors in Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and United Arab Emirates. Again and again Iraqi politicians warned that by not seeking to close down the civil war in Syria, Western leaders were making it inevitable that the conflict in Iraq would restart. “I guess they just didn’t believe us and were fixated on getting rid of [President Bashar al-] Assad,” said an Iraqi leader in Baghdad last week.

***

Saudi Arabia has created a Frankenstein’s monster over which it is rapidly losing control. The same is true of its allies such as Turkey which has been a vital back-base for Isis and Jabhat al-Nusra by keeping the 510-mile-long Turkish-Syrian border open.

As we’ve extensively documented, the Saudis and the U.S. backed the radical “madrassas” in which Islamic radicalism was spread.

Indeed, the U.S. is backing the most radical Muslim terrorists in the world: the Salafis, who are heavily concentrated in Saudi Arabia, while overthrowing the more moderate Arabs.

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Não me convidaram prá esta festa pobre que os homens armaram prá me convencer
A pagar sem ver toda essa droga que já vem malhada antes d’eu nascerNão me ofereceram nem um cigarro, fiquei na porta estacionando os carros
Não me elegeram chefe de nada, o meu cartão de crédito é uma navalhaBrasil! Mostra tua cara, quero ver quem paga prá gente ficar assim
Brasil! Qual é o teu negócio, o nome do teu sócio? Confia em mim(Cazuza)

Manuela D’Ávila, deputada estadual pelo Rio Grande do Sul e pré-candidata à Presidência da República pelo PCdoB (Partido Comunista do Brasil), hoje uma espécie de João Dória da “esquerda” fajuta pelos mixurucas holofotes do desgraçado márquetim político barato que, sobre a jovem gaúcha, pairam há algumas semanas, possui agenda que se fosse de surpresa aplicada a algum tucano (pessedebista), ou mesmo a partidos como PPS ou PTB etc, no mínimo passaria desapercebida sem nenhum tipo de entusiasmo e nem sequer o menor elogio por parte da mesma “esquerda” hoje um tanto “eufórica” com a possível presidenciável que ostenta, como principal proposta, nada menos que a retomada do poder a exemplo de seus padrinhos petistas.

Truco! “Nossa ideia programática é baseada em duas questões. Primeira, é relacionada à retomada no crescimento econômico do Brasil. A eleição de 2018 é fundamental para que o Brasil saia da crise”. Grande “esquerda”! O que Manuela disse é que, para que o bolo capitalista cresça (eis nossa “esquerda” fazendo inveja até a Delfim Neto, economista da ditadura militar), é imprescindível que os monopolistas do discurso de esquerda no Brasil ganhem a eleição. Eis o grande projeto de Brasil.

Entre outras aborganes que, sem propostas minimamente consistentes ao menos até o presente, merecem confetes à “esquerda” moribunda, carente da mínima seriedade e coerência, passam por ganhos salariais femininos inferiores em 30% em relação aos homens, enaltecimento da importância da educação para a sociedade e da segurança pública, neste caso através do fortalecimento das polícias aliado à fiscalização destas pelo Poder Público, entre alguns outros pontos.

Tal padrinho, tal afilhada: temas como reforma agrária, evasão de divisas, redução drástica dos lucros bancários não fazem parte da simpática pré-campanha da Manuela D’Ávila. E pelo que se sabe do PCdoB, irmão siamês do PT, não fará parte de mais essa grande farsa à “esquerda” até outubro de 2018, afinal de contas, tocar nestes pontos já seria demais a nossos personagens políticos “progressistas” que, a todo o custo, buscam acima de tudo a retomada do poder sem nenhum projeto alternativo de Brasil, que altere as relações de poder e as estruturas econômicas neoliberais e societárias, profundamente excludentes.

E outra coisa bastante “curiosa” nisso tudo é que nenhum dos meios “alternativos”, até este momento, tem sido capaz de usar a criatividade a ponto de colocar em pauta tais discussões envolvendo a mais nova “alternativa” da “esquerda”. Se esse mesmo setor midiático, que de alternativo em relação à grande mídia só tem mesmo o tendencionsimo politiqueiro, tivesse se preocupado em levantar tais pontos, centrais no que diz respeito ao interesse do povo trabalhador, e fizesse isso proporcionalmente em 25% ao que tem fotografado o sorriso da Manuela de todos os ângulos, e 15% que fosse das imagens com língua de fora e caretas em geral dos oposicionistas, já seria tempo deste autor começar a considerar a possibilidade de retirar aspas da “esquerda” tupiniquim.

Há pré-candidatos presidenciais atualmente com forte discurso progressista tais João Vicente Goulart do PPL, Ciro Gomes do PDT, Luciana Genro do PSoL, além de políticos de alto escalão seguindo a mesma linha como Heloísa Helena da Rede, todos com pouquíssimo ou nenhum espaço na mesma mídia auto-proclamada “alternativa”: por quê? Será por mera coincidência que todos os citados não formam o arco de alianças com o PT, ao contrário do PCdoB de Manuela?

“O ministro Alexandre de Moraes, aquele indicado pelo Temer, está construindo um debate sobre parlamentarismo que será a continuidade do golpe”, reclamou recentemente Manuela pois, conforme noticiou o Instituto Presidente João Goulart no último dia 24, “o sonho da direita de manter sob rédeas curtas a escolha do chefe do governo – e da administração – está outra vez em pauta. Recentemente o ministro do STF Alexandre Moraes propôs que o mandato de segurança 22972, parado no STF desde 1997, seja incluído na pauta do tribunal”.Pois o que a pré-candidata de “esquerda”, até agora a mais bem acabada peça do márquetim “alternativo”, propõe como resistência à possibilidade de outro golpe jurídico-parlamentar, lamentar e limitar-se a postar vídeos no Iútube direcionados ao japinha do MBL, como tem feito?

Se não se despertar da velha apatia, sectarismo, mesquinharia atrás de votos em nome da patologia do poder, se não se tirar as amargas lições contemporâneas que ainda doem na pele, nem sequer o único e patético projeto da “esquerda” que insiste no diálogo esquizofrênico, isto é, falar consigo mesma, será viável. É bom, é urgente que a “esquerda” tupiniquim pare de brincar de ser de esquerda.

Edu Montesanti

www.edumontesanti.skyrock.com

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Earth as Weapon, Geo-engineering as War

November 28th, 2017 by Prof. Claudia von Werlhof

This book is a globally unique documentation by Dr. Rosalie Bertell. I think it is one of the most important books of the 21st century. In addition to the author’s original text from the year 2000 there are various updates by herself until 2011 and additional articles written by international experts. As the founder of the “Planetary Movement for Mother Earth” which was organized after having known Bertell’s work (2010) in order to distribute it always more, I have contributed to the book in various ways as well. We translated it and organized its publication. Rosalie has named me her representative in the German speaking part of the world.

When Rosalie Bertell passed, she was 83 years old. We learn from her that free expression of opinions and thoughts about the topic in question, as well as a whole collection of detailed scientific facts, as presented by her, have been suppressed to be discussed for decades. For me there needs to be a public discussion and a theoretical clarification asking the question: In which of the academic traditions, sciences, worldviews, in what logics, politics, and motivation does the literally inconceivable fit that Rosalie Bertell is describing? What are the consequences to be drawn?

Who was Rosalie Bertell?

Dr. Rosalie Bertell was born in 1929 in the United States. She earned a PhD in Biometry at the Catholic University of America, Washington DC, in 1966. She holds nine honorary doctor’s degrees, and she won numerous prizes, among them the “Right Livelihood Award”, RLA (1986); she co-founded multiple organizations including the “International Institute of Concern for Public Health” (IICPH) in Toronto, Canada (1984) and the “International Physicians for Humanitarian Medicine” in Geneva, Switzerland (1999). She has worked as an appraiser for the UN, worked in more than 60 countries for this institution, and was a life-long member of the Roman Catholic Congregation “Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart”, Pennsylvania, USA. Rosalie Bertell is concerned about human health, the environment and the planet as a whole respectively, and about a warning referring to the dangers we face. Her very first book dealt with nuclear dangers: “No Immediate Danger? Prognosis for a Radioactive Earth”. She was awarded the RLA for this very publication in the year of the MCA in Chernobyl 1986. Due to the several hundreds or even more times greater ultimate MCA in Fukushima in 2011 this book is now more relevant than ever.

“If the public were to discover the real health costs of nuclear contamination, a cry would arise from every part of the world and the people would refuse to continue to passively contribute with their own death!“ (Bertell, 1985, p. xiii)

For today she states:

 What is planned now are climate and weather wars, wars in which earthquakes and volcanoes, floods and droughts, hurricanes and monsoon rains will play a role.“ (Bertell 2013, p. 57)

The dangers that we people and the planet are facing today are far more developed in the post-nuclear era without that the dangers of the nuclear one would have diminished.

Rosalie Bertell is an ethicist of the same magnitude as before her Rachel Carson with her book “Silent Spring” about the fifties and sixties of the 20th century, who was the first to create awareness about the spreading chemical contamination in nature, and its ramifications with regards to steadily growing cancer rates (Carson 1962).

Bertell, too, wants to deliver a wakeup call for people to become active from below. Her hope is that a peaceful, cooperative and wiser world will emerge. The earth is still a wonderful planet, so she believes at the end of her book, as she calls upon us all “to respect it, to love it and to save it!” (Bertell 2013, p. 439)

Bertell is an ecofeminist and a pacifist in the best sense of the word. She stands for respect of the rights of Mother Earth as a “cosmic being”, and of all beings upon, beneath, and above her. She argues for the abolition of the military and of war, for the end of patriarchy as the attempt to dominate all life and meanwhile the earth itself, and for the end of capitalism as the raving and reckless looting of the whole planet.

She stands for the peaceful resolution of conflicts through international courts, and for the necessary foundation of an environmental court that will preserve the interests of the Earth and its safety and integrity, as well as rule over compensation for inflicted damage. Bertell is a most sensible thinker, crystal-clear and keen; she had a sixth sense for the uncovering of hidden information, she was committed and courageous, and she never gave up even though she has been threatened by several attacks on her life.

As a Catholic nun she was backed by her Congregation “Grey Nuns of the Sacred Heart” in the US and had therefore not been dependent on funding by individuals or institutions.

Why is this book so important?

  1. It is a history of the ongoing destruction of planet Earth through the development and employment of new military technologies
  2. It shows the reaction of the public and of social movements
  3. It should be the end of the “conspiracy theory” accusations
  4. It shows the overall damages to the planet
  5. It needs more of a theoretical explanation
  6. It shows the legal situation

This book discusses the history of an ongoing destruction of our Planet, caused by applied natural science, corporate capital, and the military.

Since World War II the development and employment of new military technologies in the East and the West have been the basis of destructions in the very “life systems”, as Bertell calls them, of our planet. The book presents us with a unique historical documentation, which reads like a breathtaking thriller. Its scope ranges from chemical, biological, and nuclear technological development and warfare to the post nuclear, especially in the field of electromagnetic “plasma” weapons, not only threatening to wipe out all life on earth using technologies that are able to produce huge catastrophes, but also threatening to destroy the planet itself. The essence of the thriller Rosalie Bertell has written lies precisely in this escalation. For, it is literally this planetary dimension, which connected to warfare that has been taking action for a long time already, is completely new and unimagined. The beginning of this development started with the use of detrimental substances in industrial agriculture, and in the medical field – such as herbicides, pesticides, detergents, chlorine, and anesthetics – which were used during both world wars. It was Rachel Carson (Carson 1962), the first “eco-feminist” who protested against this development.

In this handout picture released by the U.S. Army, a mushroom cloud billows about one hour after a nuclear bomb was detonated above Hiroshima, Japan on Aug. 6, 1945. Japanese officials say a 93-year-old Japanese man has become the first person certified as a survivor of both U.S. atomic bombings at the end of World War II.

The story continues with rocket technology and the atmospheric, surface, and underground nuclear and hydrogen bomb tests that have been ongoing since the end of World War II. There have been around 2.300 tests between 1945 and 1998 (s. Bertell 2013, p. 323) beginning with Hiroshima/Nagasaki up to the many tests in the western parts of the United States, in Central Asia and the South Pacific; more than half of them instigated by the US. These tests mark the beginning of a systemic radioactive contamination of the earth and the application of nuclear processes and radiation to food and for medical purposes. The nuclear tests caused the first damages to the ozone layer and all other layers of the atmosphere, and they were particularly detrimental to the layers of the Van Allen Belts, which determine the earth’s magnetic field.

Due to a lack of knowledge about the functions of the upper atmospheric layers in regard to the preservation of the earth’s life support systems, as Bertell calls them, there was complete ignorance about the effects (exo-)atmospheric nuclear testing could possibly cause. The military scientists acted by “trial and error”. Nature’s reaction to an attack on it’s very self would just have to be seen (Bertell 2013, pp 58f, 151, 156f, 158, 167, 476).

The damages to this sensitive mantle of the atmosphere, however, are unaccounted for until today and it remains unclear, if they will ever vanish again. We may never grasp the meaning of the earth’s “life systems” of which the electromagnetic field is a part, or understand the changes it has undergone.

In addition, experiments with the weather began to take place, reaching a first climax during the Vietnam War. They started with experiments on an artificially prolonged monsoon season, with artificially intensified severe weather episodes, using lethal chemicals such as Monsanto’s “Agent Orange”, which was dispersed through sprayings by airplanes, so that the trees would lose their leaves. These experiments moved on to the attempt of creating a hole in the ozone layer, with the objective of triggering a collapse of Vietnamese agriculture through the induction of unfiltered cosmic radiation, consisting of gamma rays, x rays, infrared rays, UV rays, or certain other microwaves, from which intact layers of the atmosphere protect the earth (Bertell 2013, p. 230).

Meanwhile the hole in the ozone layer above Antarctica and the one that has formed recently and for the first time over the Arctic, probably due to radioactivity from Fukushima, allow numerous types of radiation, including the most harmful, to penetrate the atmosphere. Beyond that, this type of radiation is additionally manufactured for medical and electronic use down here (a.a.O.), following the principle of using war technologies in peace as well.

Further, the strategy around rockets and space travel, including supersonic flight, space stations, satellites, and the SDI „Star Wars“ program (Bertell 2013, pp. 184-188; 258ff), centers around projects designed to obtain military control of the Earth from space. “The space will be the next battlefield” (Bertell 2013, p. 177). For this reason thermonuclear bombs have circled above our heads to ensure swifter bombarding of targets on earth, and we have been endangered by plutonium that has been used to fuel rockets like the Cassini during its mission to Saturn, starting in 1997, a potential for widespread and lethal contamination in case of an accident.

Finally, experiments with EM (electromagnetic) waves and the heating up of the upper layers of the atmosphere (Bertell 2013, p. 139ff), called “ionosphere”, from an altitude of 80 km on, began in die 1960ies and 1970ies by influencing this electromagnetically charged layer through the use of “ionospheric heaters”. The most famous of these “heaters” being HAARP (High-Frequency Active Auroral Research Project) in Alaska, built up later in the 1990ies, huge radar installations with antenna and a special energy supply (Bertell 2013, pp.273ff). According to Bertell, the Arctic region has been subjected to a deliberate thawing process through the utilization of EM-ELF (extreme low frequency) waves, action that seems to have been agreed upon by the former Soviet Union and the United States in Vladivostok 1974 already (Bertell 2013, p. 256, 445; Ponte 1976; MacDonald 1968).

This is a kind of borderline science, since much of this knowledge remains outside of the scientific discourse familiar to us. Practically nobody is aware of this new science, even though nearly 40 years have passed. In contrast, scientists, researchers and the population are made to believe that greenhouse CO2 gas emissions by the civilian industry are the cause for the swift thawing of the Arctic region, and are proof of climate warming through CO2 in general! (Storr in Bertell 2013, p. 533).

Meanwhile Exxon Mobile and its Russian colleagues have begun to stake out areas of the Arctic region in their quest for oil…

In the meantime there have been continuous “official“ wars in which, however, new unofficial weapons were put to use, such as laser guided weapons and especially DU (depleted uranium) ammunition, produced from de-riched Uranium 238 which originates in nuclear plants. This has been the case in the Balkans, during the Gulf War with Iraq/Kuwait, and everywhere else since – in Afghanistan, Iraq, and in Libya.

As a result, radioactive contamination in these areas and for those living in these regions temporarily or permanently has increased drastically (see the “Gulf War Syndrome”, Günther 2002, Lengfelder 2006). Research by the geophysicist Leuren Moret has provided evidence of a significant decline in birthrates; a rebound cannot be expected (Moret 2011c, d). In other words, radiation has actually already led to a real decline in population in the respective areas. Fukushima’s contribution to this development (Moret 2011 a, b; Kaku 2011, 6th Info-Letter on www.pbme-online.org) is still completely unforeseeable.

After the many smaller facilities for manipulating the layers of the atmosphere with EM – electromagnetic – waves were installed, such as Poker Flats/Alaska, Plattville/Colorado, and HIPAS/Alaska, the larger ones emerged. This is to be seen in Arecibo/Puerto Rico, EISCAT in Tromsö in Northern Norway, as well as the so called “Woodpecker” in the Soviet Union (Bertell 2013, p. 288ff), and since the early 1990ies the HAARP antenna farms with 180 radar towers in 2002. They are meanwhile accompanied by facilities in the Netherlands and Sweden, Israel, Australia, China, and other countries (recently probably MARLOW near Rostock, northern Germany) as well as by mobile x-band radar as swimming supports, capable of ranging beyond the horizon. About two dozens of these facilities are estimated to be globally operational today. In the year 2013 a new one, MUOS, for satellite coordination, has been built in Sicily (MUOS 2015).

This way, a bombardment or heating up of the ionosphere can occur simultaneously, separately or in opposition to each other, be it for experimental purposes or as a planned attack (see “SuperDARNS” in Bertell 2013, p. 283ff).

For this to work, the electrically charged air of the ionosphere, the “plasma”, which is a unique aggregate state beyond a solid, fluid, or gaseous state (Bertell 2013, p. 143), is heated up using the power of the ionospheric heaters that can add up to GIGA watts, billions of watts. This operation is causing the plasma to densify and to bulge, creating a mirror like reflector from which rays of energy, sent by ionospheric heaters, can be bounced off at any desired angle, and be redirected back to a corresponding point on or under the earth’s surface (Bertell 2013, pp. 279ff). From there the great destruction emanates, that until now could not be explained as an artificially induced catastrophe, though the ENMOD Convention of the UN from 1977, after the Vietnam War, already talked about them, trying to forbid its military use (UN 1977). The use of ionospheric heating with pulsed EM waves as one of the main techniques for environmental modification is especially potent in unleashing or amplifying latent or beginning motion, being along earthquake lines or within active volcanoes. Such processes, utilizing extreme low frequency – ELF – waves, are capable of penetrating and cutting even through the interior of the earth and of causing disturbances at and within its very core, where the magnetic field of our planet is originating (“Deep Earth Penetrating Tomography“ or “Earth Probing tomography”, Bertell 2013, pp. 285ff).

EM waves of different types can also be used to change the “Jetstream” – fast winds moving around the globe on the northern and southern hemispheres being a barrier to  temperatures – up north or down south, so that more heat or cold can stream in. The waves can be used to change the course of the vapor-streams – clouds that move around the globe – to influence the development of droughts and floods. They can be used to get more energy than normal transported to certain places, producing fires, thunderstorms and extreme lightning down to the soil, or heavy explosions that resemble nuclear ones. They can be used to keep freak weather conditions on a certain place for a long time. They can be used to move and build up large storms and to influence ocean currents like El Nino and La Nina (Bertell 2013, pp. 445 ff; 465 ff).

The probably largest ionospheric heater, HAARP in Alaska, is able to set 1, 8 GIGA watts – billions of watts – in motion, and bundle them up to focus on one single point in the ionosphere. The types of technologies existing to destroy the environment have been explained by geophysicist and presidential consultant Gordon MacDonald in his article “How to Wreck the Environment“ published in “Unless Peace Comes” in 1968. That happened 48 years ago! (MacDonald 1968, cf. below)

The prominent journal “The Guardian“, London, has reported about the topic for example (4.4.2012) in an article titled: “At war over geo engineering“. The articles reads as follows:

“…Few in the civil sector fully understand that geo engineering is primarily a military science and has nothing to do with either cooling the planet or lowering carbon … While seemingly fantastical, weather has been weaponized. At least four countries – the US, Russia, China and Israel – possess the technology and organization to regularly alter weather, and geologic events for various military and black operations.… Indeed, warfare now includes the technological ability to induce, enhance or direct cyclonic events, earthquakes, drought and flooding, including the use of polymerized aerosol viral agents and radioactive particulates carried through global weather systems”.

The article mentions as well the role of a gradual warming of the Polar Regions for resource extraction.

This article entirely validates the statements of Prof. Gordon MacDonald, former deputy director of the Institute for Geophysics and Physics at the University of California, and member of the president’s science advisory committee under president Lyndon B. Johnson, made in 1968. The globally renowned scientist writes in Nigel Calder’s book “Unless Peace Comes: A Scientific Forecast of New Weapons“. On geophysical warfare in the chapter “How to Wreck the Environment”, he describes, how the energy fields of the earth can be used to manipulate the weather, resulting in a melting of the polar caps, the destruction of the ozone layer, and the triggering of earthquakes. Prof. Gordon MacDonald therefore established in the 1960s that these weapons were actually in production and that the whole process would practically go unnoticed by their victims if potentially utilized (www.Sauberer-Himmel.de).

  • In fact, there was talk in the US as early as 1958 that „Climate control is coming!“ (Newsweek 1958): Edward Teller, “father” of the hydrogen bomb, was at the very front regarding the discussion of possible warfare through the manipulation of weather, for instance dumping aerosols into the atmosphere (cf. Hamilton in Bertell 2013, pp. 498ff).
  • The UN ENMOD convention of 1976/77 – now 40 years ago – describes these abominations, and prohibits the military or any other hostile use of these technologies. In the meantime, they are heard of on a daily basis today: earthquakes, tsunamis, droughts, and floods, change of weather patterns throughout entire regions, ocean currents and tornados, changes of the ozone layer and the ionosphere (cf. Bertell 2013, p. 46; Storr in Bertell 2013, p. 527).
  • In the year 1997 the former US secretary of defense, William Cohen, voiced his concerns about the possibility of precisely these types of weapons being put to use by terrorists (cf. Bertell 2013, p.291).
  • The EU Parliament conducted a hearing in 1999 in the matter of HAARP. The hearing remained without consequences, despite all the warnings. It, nevertheless, was admitted by the EU Commission that is has no influence whatsoever on military affairs! (Werlhof in Bertell 2013, p. 36). HAARP communications, however, state that “ionospheric heaters” are designed only for research purposes, and are by no means to be considered as a weapons system. Thus, they would most definitely be in the scope of EU influence, or would have to be prohibited by the UN!
  • On the other hand, there is not much talk either about the European ionospheric heaters such as EISCAT in Tromsö, northern Norway. This facility is operated by the German Max-Planck-Institute.
  • The UN pronounced another Moratorium on Geoengineering at the Biodiversity Conference in Nagoya, Japan, in 2010, prohibiting the private and publicly uncontrolled use of geoengineering (Bertell 2013, p. 318).
  • In 2013 nearly 50 European activists and several members of the European Parliament, organized in “Skyguards”, made another intent to mobilize the EP via a conference “Beyond Theories of Weather Modification – Civil Society versus Geoengineering”, accompanied by a Petition to the EP that was even accepted by the EP-Commission on Petitions in 2014 (Werlhof in Bertell 2013, pp. 33-41). In 2016, nevertheless, the same happened to this petition as to the one of 1999: Ex-MEP Josefina Fraile from Skyguards, who had organized the Petition, got a letter from the EU-Commission telling her that military questions are not to be treated in the realm of the EP – though the petition spoke especially about civil geoengineering.
  • In general, the Report on “Weather as a Force Multiplier – Owning the Weather in 2025”, prepared for the US Air Force in 1996, shows that the question of “weather wars” is in the hands of the military. A civilian and independent geo-engineering for “saving the world from climate change” is surely not existing (US Air Force 1996).

Results’ summary:

These political experiences seem to contradict the central thesis of Bertell´s book that the earth has already been transformed into a weapon of war, pointing against us as well as against itself in a perverse manner! The meaning behind all this: There is no official  recognition of the existence of means and possibilities of warfare that don’t only pose a threat to all life on earth by utilizing the earth’s own forces against us and itself, but beyond that the existence of a capacity capable of destroying the whole planet as such! (Bertell 2013, p. 251f). This danger had been spelled out already by physicist Nikola Tesla (1856-1943, Bertell 2013, pp. 223ff, 468ff), the original inventor of different ways how to use the electromagnetic powers of the planet (Bertell 2013, p. 32, 239f). Using her own forces, the earth can now be compelled to kill its own beings and then possibly coerced into suicide!

The means to destroy the planet are those of “geoengineering” – including electromagnetic plasma weapons and all additional forms of weather wars (Bertell 2013, p. 317). If these technologies used in an enhanced form, if the increase of rhythmically pulsed EM waves and the effect of their resonance becomes practically unlimited (Tesla’s “Magnifying Transmitter“, and “controlled earthquakes“, Bertell 2013, p. 288), the earth could possibly even be torn apart, plunge into the sun, or in last consequence, be hurled out into space! Special “Scalar” EM effects of resonance could be instantly reflected, when originating from the earth and penetrating space. A result could be the earth’s destruction through the sun, or the dynamic balance bet originating from the earth and penetrating space ween the earth and the moon, sharing the same magnetic field, could fall apart… Nikola Tesla, the most innovative mind in regard to the work with EM waves, predicted and warned of all these scenarios as a theoretical possibility at the beginning of the last century already (Bertell 2013, p. 465ff).

Further developments:

  • The further development of EM weapons in dimensions of longitudinal “scalar” waves, as first developed in the Soviet Union, has found particular focus in the work of former member of the US Army, Tom Bearden, a scientist and disciple of Tesla’s who has been quoted by Bertell (Bertell 2013, pp. 223ff, 238ff, 465f; Bearden 1986/2002). This chapter of weapons technology with (longitudinal) scalar waves appears to be even more mysterious than that of other (transversal) EM waves. Considering that in the so-called vacuum or hyperspace – the “ether” (according to Tesla) or the space beyond the solar system – the movement of these scalar waves reaches beyond the three – dimensional terrestrial space and its conditions, acting independently of each of them under at least four – dimensional conditions – the three dimensions of space and the time dimension. This means for instance that scalar waves are simultaneous, they don´t need time to spread. Military application of these processes on earth – that is working with “unlimited” extra-terrestrial conditions under limited terrestrial ones (cf. first Wagner 1970 on nuclear fission on earth) – would be and actually is the greatest imminent threat (Bearden 2012; Wood 2010).
  • Besides the effects triggered on a macro level, other effects that are no less eerie could be caused by EM waves on the micro level as well. We are talking about the interference with our brains using ELF waves that correspond to the pulse – the Schumann frequency – of the earth, which is the same as that of the brain (Begich/ Manning 1996; Bertell 2013, p. 289). These methods have apparently been developed predominantly by the Soviets, and can also be applied to larger populations, according to Bearden.

All this happens true to the motto: Electromagnetic pulses can reach anywhere, due to the fact, that matter itself “oscillates” (Begich/Manning 1996). This is finally the real “secret” of the magnitude and efficiency of the new Tesla-technologies as patented for their use in ionospheric heaters (official US patents by physicist Bernard Eastlund, Bertell 2013, p. 277ff) and elsewhere (Bearden 2012; Wood 2010).

The reaction of the public and of social movements

Through Bertell we are now finding out that we, the public, humans, and citizens have been vulnerable to this increasing threat since ca. 70 years without being made aware of it, let alone having been asked for our approval or “consent”, even though these developments are life endangering for us and the planet and have eroded conditions of life globally. Actually, if these threats are not brought to a halt, our living conditions and the earth itself could be destroyed within a brief period of time already.

Considering Bertell’s quotes: “The military is always 50 years ahead“. And:

“The military never uses the same weapons in a new war that have been used in an old one” (Werlhof in Bertell 2013, p. 48; Bertell Interview II, 2014).

We, as the allegedly responsible citizens:

1. Although embarrassing, we must now come to grips with the fact that we have not been aware of anything that has been going on in this field.

2. We need to realize that since the end of the “Cold War” we have allowed ourselves to believe in the end of wars, at least in the end of large-scale wars, and in the absence of the threat through another world war, nuclear war, let alone environmental wars, wars due to “natural” disasters, energy weapons, and eco terror! We held and still hold it unthinkable that the earth’s own forces can be used against us and the earth itself, and we even did not know about these forces at all…!

3. So, we have to ask, how and if at all there is still a differentiation between friend and foe, civilians and the military, conquerors and the conquered. Why has this distinction evidently become irrelevant? What kind of a war is this?

In respect to social movements, from Bertell’s analysis follows:

  • A peace movement exists that has not recognized that there is a modern war, that is directed at and against the environment (Bertell 2013, p. 57f; 325f; 344ff).
  • On the grounds of a continuously more obvious destruction of the environment, there nevertheless exists an ecological movement that has not yet realized the problems, which have particularly been caused by the military (Bertell 2013, p. 71).
  • The anti- nuclear movement has not realized the post nuclear development of weapons of mass destruction within the military that supersede the necessity of nuclear wars (cf. Bertell 2013, p. 58).
  • Right now a trend toward the creation of „environmental justice movements“can be observed. These “movements” intend to promote civil “geoengineering” within the fields of civil science, politics, and private industry, by claiming to fight “climate warming”. They are predominately comprised of geo-engineers. They claim to be in the position to fight climate warming without actually confronting the causes! (Hamilton in Bertell 2013, pp. 485 ff; Bertell 2013, p. 312ff). The blame for climate warming is laid down on the doorstep of civilian CO2 emissions, a position that is being taken only since 1997 (Kyoto protocol, Bertell 2013, p. 311).

According to Bertell, not a single climate conference ever mentioned CO2 before that! However, the movement of geo-engineers does not focus on the reduction CO2 emissions at all. On the contrary, this movement assumes that there is no chance of politically enforcing any considerable norms in this regard anyway. This “movement“ is targeting the alleged symptoms and not the problem of damages of the earth itself while attracting considerable funding and technical resources (Fraile 2015; Weiss 2014; 2016).

Rosalie Bertell

Under the premises of the CO2-thesis, these geo engineers tamper with nothing less than the planetary dimension of the earth’s elements. With the oceans (“ocean fertilization”), the layers of the air (aerosols, “Solar Radiation Management”, SRM, sprayings, s. Bertell 2013, p. 2543; 319), and the ground (deforestation (!), action in regard to more “albedo“, sun reflecting white spaces and clouds), to screen the earth against solar heat and/or for more effective CO2 absorption and to eliminate the necessity of CO2 reduction. Although the dangers resulting from CO2 are supposedly threatening, this approach denies the need to further deal with the issue – that is how to get rid of it itself! The process of fighting “climate warming”, once initiated in an engineering context, would need – as is said by geo-engineers – to be sustained “indefinitely” in order to maintain the climate and not risk an immediate overheating of the planet under the sweltering heat of a sun allowed to shine in blue skies. As a matter of fact, a partial warming of the earth is indeed taking place. However, this is not happening in the troposphere where CO2 actually accumulates, but rather in the higher layers of the stratosphere in which HAARP and similar facilities – the “ionospheric heaters” – are active! (Phillips 2011).

In total, global warming cannot be a result of CO2 emissions after all! (Bertell 2013, pp. 321-323). CO2 is dirty, but it is not heating up, as she says.Apart from Bertell hardly anyone has noticed that the environmental crisis in the guise of the so called climate crisis, as well as the alleged solutions for this crisis, namely geo-engineering, both originate from the same military laboratories!

Ironically, as said in Hamilton’s contribution to Bertell’s book: The military itself does not assume the existence of any kind of climate crisis at all! The measures of military geoengineering do not aim at reducing climate warming. These measures have been invented for completely different reasons, namely military ones: they are geo-weapons (Bertell 2013, p. 58).

Instead of figuring out how to stop military disruption and manipulation of the climate through, as Bertell states, “weather wars, plasma weapons, and geo engineering” by, for example, turning off “ionospheric heaters” globally, the discussion is focused on fighting the consequences of this global war – precisely by employing the same measures that have actually caused them!

The fact that it isn’t the alleged CO2 issue or even „evil nature“ opposing us, remains concealed due to the creation of deliberate confusion! One of most generous private sponsors of geo engineering, which poses as a civilian measure to counter the consequences of CO2 emissions, while actually being a military scheme towards the planet, is the wealthiest man on earth, Bill Gates (Bertell 2013, p. 253f; Hamilton in Bertell 2013, p. 504).

The end of “conspiracy-theory” accusations?

Bertell’ s book could be the beginning of an end to insults and suspicions that have been geared toward making all this sound like a “conspiracy theory” (a term invented by the CIA to revile those who doubted the official version of the murder of J.F. Kennedy). Where the corresponding current developments are dragged out of the dark room of anonymity, secrecy, denial, and concealment – as Bertell has done –, it will not be possible anymore to brush the facts off!

This, nevertheless, is not yet happening, as we know now, five years after having published Bertell in German – the first real public appearance of her book after the sudden bankruptcy of her English publisher in 2000. The background of this strategy to hide the facts can precisely be seen in the ongoing concealment of the connections between environmental crisis and military experiments and attacks. Hiding by all means a meanwhile “unofficial” and/or possibly already raging undeclared war, is necessary in order to not risk opposition from civil society, or even from law, as would inevitably happen if reality were to become publicly evident (Storr in Bertell 2913, p. 545). MacDonald, who has been mentioned earlier, explains that such a ‘secret war’ need never be declared or even known by the affected populations. It could go on for years with only the security forces involved being aware of it (MacDonald, 1968). This kind of “geo-terrorism” and as such “technetronic” (MacDonald) warfare would appear in the guise of militarization or “weaponization” of “industrial mishaps”, “environmental disasters”, and “geo-engineering” (Phillips 2011).

Rosalie Bertell states that the military needs us for legitimization since it is in need of civilian resources (Bertell 2013, p. 388) and legwork, as e.g. done through scientists, and our belief in its ability to create security in a military sense (Bertell 2013, p. 365) and in case of disaster. To have us assuming that it produces these disasters itself would of course be a bad fit! The civilian academic field is precisely one that asserts the impossibility of this type of disaster occurring due to a deliberate manipulation of natural events. All the catastrophes of the past decades, namely 10 times the number of natural disasters as compared to before 1970 (Bertell 2013, p. 306) and the unending cluster of most severe earthquakes globally, are nothing but simple natural events for them. We must not forget, that „normal science“ is unable to explain these phenomena, as they have never taken into account what Nikola Tesla had explored and invented. The earth seems to have remained unchanged tectonically and seismically, and there are no reasonable explanations for the increase in volcanic activity, for instance.

Yet, it is science itself enabling the dangers discussed by Bertell. For without science the development of the relevant technologies pertaining to our topic would never have been possible. It is important to bring the invisible doings of a science serving the military to awareness within the sciences themselves. Civilian science is going to lose its reputation and credibility in public, when trying to disguise possible and current mega crimes that would not be possible without its cooperation with military science in the first place. As Lowell Wood, “civil” geo-engineer and disciple of Edward Teller put it:

“We as humans always influenced our environment the way we wanted it. Why not the Planet?” (Hamilton in Bertell 2013, p. 501).

The overall damages to the planet.

Meanwhile, the earth, our planet, is in critical conditions. According to Bertell it has been weakened and could already have been irreversibly damaged (Bertell 2013, p. 59, 228, 320, 323, 326, 455, 473). The planet has become „a research victim of militarism“ (Bertell 2013, p. 483). It is as if air, water, soil, animals, plants and humans are presented like a “sacrifice” (Bertell 2013, pp 325ff) to the “Gods”!

Bertell illustrates how the military causes the greatest environmental damages, usurps most of the resources, and wastes away living conditions on earth by compromising it ruthlessly and without conscience (Bertell 2013, pp. 335ff). She draws parallels between the military and the behavior of an addict. The addict will not refrain from his addiction on his own. Obviously, all this goes without the knowledge or approval of the earth’s population, regardless of our democratic systems and beliefs.

Preliminary effects of the new weapons which have been described here in part, are:

  • Apart from damages through mining, chemistry, nuclear and genetic engineering, life industries, Nano- technology, and sprayed substances like aluminum, barium, sulfur and lithium, that continue to destroy the atmosphere, the soil, the water, plants, and living conditions,
  • there are holes in the ozone layer, produced by decades of nuclear testing, supersonic flights and rocket flights into space (and not by FCKW as we are constantly told!)
  • there are disturbances of the earth’s electromagnetic field within its core as outside in space and in the Van Allen belts,
  • there are holes and incisions throughout the protective layers of the atmosphere, produced by ionospheric heaters,
  • there is a wobble/an imbalance of the planetary motion (Bertell 2013, p. 450) and a slowing down of the rotation,
  • there is, therefore, the possible acceleration of a magnetic polar shift/polar reversal;
  • there is the active thawing of the arctic region (Bertell 2013, p. 227) since the 70ies of the 20th century
  • causing an increase in ocean levels, a loss of fresh water,
  • and there is a weakening of the gulf stream by 1/3 already, the end of which would mean a possible new ice age for Europe.
  • There is the disappearance of the glaciers worldwide that leads to huge floods now and to extreme droughts later with the effect that the large rivers of the world would run dry and leave the population and nature without fresh water.
  • Further, the outer layers of the atmosphere are decreasing by 1 km every 5 years (Bertell 2013, Chapter 3-5 in Part II, additional Texts A, D, C in Part IV).
  • This means the loss of protection of the atmosphere against cosmic radiation like UV, Gamma, microwaves and x rays on the earth´s surface (Bertell 2013, p. 230), detrimental for all life on it and,
  • if more, finishing with agriculture.
  • It means weather and climate chaos everywhere and loss of any equilibrium to be expected.
  • It means natural catastrophes of any magnitude, and that it will mostly be impossible to distinguish between natural and manufactured ones, especially when the tipping point is reached, and synergetic effects enter into play.
  • It means that no catastrophe can be foreseen, or protected against. Catastrophes can and do happen everywhere and at any moment.
  • If used for war these weapons can even lead to a total destruction of the planet as such, as Tesla warned (Bertell 2013, p. 241).

What are the plans? What is going on currently? How much of the earth’s living systems have already been destroyed irreversibly? How is the process of destruction going on already? What means that nature has a time lag of 40-60 years to respond to our manipulations? Does it mean that nothing is going to stop what is only starting to happen now? What actually do we not know about ongoing experiments? (Bertell 2013, p. 305)

We can anticipate: a boomerang effect, a nemesis – a counter reaction – of nature, synergies/tipping points as well as unpredictable “side effects” that will need to be taken into consideration (Bertell 2013, p. 256). “How do I repair a system without understanding it?” This is a question, which geo-engineers pose to themselves with regard to the climate. What they omit in the process is the fact that they are referring to a “system” that has essentially been under attack precisely by them, and that, too, before they had an understanding of it themselves!

The phenomenon of “kyndiagnosia”, the incapacity to recognize danger, is omnipresent in science, politics, economy, ecology, society, and particularly in the military. All the time over society has allowed these institutions to put life at risk – the life of people, nature and now even the planet – for their destructive actions and experiments. Never have the principles of war crimes, defined by the Nürnberg Tribunal after World War II, been applied to them (Bertell 2013, p. 474).

The need for more of a theoretical explanation

Since the whole undertaking causes harm to everyone, it becomes unbelievable and seemingly irrational. An explanation is necessary. Who of us regular human beings could possibly understand this deliberate promotion of insanity?

Rosalie Bertell is explaining the multiple facts she has gathered about the military as an institution that exists for ongoing and planned wars. As it seems clear, therefore, that the military is specialized in destruction and systems of destruction of always new kind, there appears to be no necessity for a more thorough explanation. This necessity, however, exists, because the military technologies stem from the natural sciences, the civil as well as the military ones.

Bertell as a scientist herself, though, has not developed a critique of the sciences as such, which means of modern science. The analysis of the origins and the development of modern science, nevertheless, shows that the military is just the tip of the iceberg. Beneath its water surface, there is the mountain of a science that has been invented in modern times. It started with planning subjecting nature in all its forms, including women as “nature”, destroying and controlling them and nature alike by means of the “scientific experiment”. The respective technologies were first developed in the dungeons of the “Holy Inquisition” (Merchant 1982). These new sciences were not only motivated by a “patriarchal” society that was interested in new forms of subjecting women, but also in working with and for the military from their very beginning (Wagner 1970).  Today they are now ending up with trying to control Mother Nature, too, as Earth herself, like a sort of “mega witch”, destroying her, the planet, as we now know.

So, things have remained the same until today, the only, but important difference being that the dimensions and the dangers which have multiplied since, as well as the overall connection between the civil and the military sciences seems to be outside of the general knowledge and consciousness. When looking at the destruction of nature and life that takes place everywhere and can surely not be denied any more, occurring even without any direct war, we then can realize what it means that the sciences are related to the military even where they declare to be “civil” and “peaceful”. This way the whole of the scientific undertaking in reality is a war against life, the military being only its peak. This is exactly what we now are experiencing full size.

So, we now have to answer the question why and how this has happened and is even promoted by the Society, using all possible means, as we have seen.

From the point of view of my approach of the “critical theory of patriarchy”, the military has invented something like a “military alchemy”, an expression that Rosalie Bertell liked very much when she knew about it. (She even wanted a new edition of her book be entitled this way). It means that the patriarchal, women and nature hating – dimension of modern civilization (Werlhof 2016b) goes back to antiquity, where the science and technique of a patriarchal “alchemy” were developed. Their aim at that time already was to start to take control over women, mothers and Mother Nature in order to transform them into a supposedly higher and better life and matter, namely a motherless life and artificial gold (Schütt 2000; Werlhof 2011). They failed in doing so and did not succeed. With the invention of modern science and technology, nevertheless, the modern “alchemists” started with the same project again, being much more successful than at any time before in history. The results can be admired today: the machine, the commodity, money and “capital” in general being the alchemical wonders of modernity which are thought to replace life, nature and “matter” by something more civilized, more developed and more divine!

From nuclear, genetic and nanotechnology to geoengineering, from micro- to macro-life, this has been the path of modern alchemy, the military alchemy of geoengineering being its last invention, as I see it (Werlhof 2011, 2014, 2015).

The “Anthropocene“ (Crutzen 2002) is the result, the earth-era of mankind, to truly be God! This is “proved”:

  • by transforming – “hacking” – the planet into a manageable instrument, as if this would be desirable and possible without damaging it;
  • by reversing the vibrant planet into a “better” one, a predictable giant machine, a Mega-Machine, and a war-machine!
  • by means of intended ultimate control over all of life’s processes, the ones of the planet as a whole included;
  • and, finally, through a „taming“ of Mother Earth as a sort of dangerous and life threatening „mega witch“! (“Dr. Strangelove” in Hamilton 2013, p. 498ff)

There are people at work who are not kidding at all, but risk the last and greatest matricide, that of the earth herself. These people are “allowed” to do so! The necessity to demand an end to such a dangerous undertaking and hubris has not been acknowledged, and such undertaking has not been forbidden! It is obviously believed that all this is a desirable “progress” and “development” and really worth striving for. So, as an endeavor it takes on a truly religious dimension. We can see this way, how historically old this kind of “wishful thinking” and hubris is already. A failure seems inconceivable for the perpetrators, and such a thing does not even exist in their minds.

This development has endured for 500 years – rooted in a 5000 years old belligerent-religious-ideological beginning. It comes to a climax and to an end now: We are talking about “patriarchal” thinking and the development of a global “alchemical system” based on the utopian project of the destruction and technical substitution of a motherly nature, a process that appears to have become the “collective unconscious” of today’s civilization. (Werlhof 2010, 2014a, 2015, 2016b; Projektgruppe 2011).

Bertell says about the dangers and the secrecy around military activities:

 “Until now, nobody has clearly considered the potential consequences, described them, or admitted to them.“ (Bertell 2013, p.473).

What we will hear in the end might be no different from what the nuclear industry, which in fact remains uninsured against failure, has to say, namely that they assumed that the “worst case” scenario would never actually take place.

Bertell was still somehow optimistic in the year 2000. She was confident in grass roots movements throughout the world and their ability to join forces with international organizations like the UN in order to disempower the military, even abolish war (Bertell 2013, p. 376), and to find a path towards a peaceful and friendly future shaped by respect towards the earth and the maintenance of “ecological safety”.

Today, 16 years later, the ongoing crisis points towards a completely different development, if not to a new world war (Chossudovsky 2012 and 2015) which seem to have begun already. The public, most of civil science, social movements and most politicians, though, have not yet understood how the new weaponry of weather wars, plasma weapons and geoengineering is functioning. They lack any understanding why it should be possible to produce earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, storms, droughts, floods, changing ocean currents, tsunamis, influencing the weather of whole regions, heat and cold, freak conditions beyond the seasons or the climate zones – all mentioned in the UN ENMOD Convention in 1977 already.

The reason is that these effects are mainly due to “Tesla technologies”, based on the manipulation of the electromagnetic potential of the earth. The physicist and inventor Nikola Tesla (1856-1943) has never been publicly recognized by the civil sciences, even if without him there would be no alternating current, no electronic device, and no wireless communication. Tesla´s idea of treating the phenomena of life via its “waves” instead of via its “particles”, taking influence on its movements instead of on solid matter, as was usual in modern science, led to inventions of a character and magnitude that could neither have been produced, nor explained by “normal” physics. Tesla´s inventions (Tesla 1919) were secretly taken over by the military in the East, and the West at the end of World War II, and were never discussed in public. Less was it recognized how Tesla´s inventions were related to Quantum physics, another part of the new physics of the last century, leading to even more terrible weapons, as explained by Bearden, a disciple of Tesla, and Bertell (Bearden 1986; Bertell 2013, pp. 237, 239, 243, 251, 454, 468ff).

“Unfortunately”, says Bertell, “waiting for these weapons to be employed in order to then be able to better understand them will mean the end of our civilization and our life. Our research must be ahead of the threats instead of limping behind. Chemtrails are the attempt of biological and chemical warfare. What they are dumping on us now might only be a pre-taste of what is actually planned”. (Bertell, email 27.1.2011)

 What about the legal situation?

No laws exist that prohibit the tampering with the earth’s climate” (Hamilton in Bertell 2913, p. 502).

Bertell’s stance on this issue: if the military is tampering with our air, our water, the ground and the forces of our earth, or doing anything that questions our living conditions, let alone has the potential to destroy them, then that simply must not happen! First and foremost this needs to be discussed publicly…Beyond all secrecy we must have a right to that!

Environmental advocate Dominik Storr:

“The fact that geophysical warfare against mother earth has no legal repercussions is, however, also a symptom of complete political failure. Politically it has not been possible to generate any binding legal norms concerning limitations, let alone a ban on climate and weather moderating measures.” (Storr in Bertell 2013, p. 528).

For, these remain concealed, and are regarded as inexistent, though the laws concerning human rights in general are sufficient to ban climate and geoengineering, once investigated and proved their necessarily detrimental effects on the health of people as well as of the environment as such. The UN-ENMOD Convention is prohibiting the hostile use of techniques that are altering the environment.  This Convention can, therefore, not been taken for legal activities as far as a “scientific and peaceful” use of these techniques is propagated, as civil geoengineering is proposing it. So, the military use of it has to be kept secret (Storr in Bertell 2013, p. 526, 530ff, 534ff).

None of the UN-Conferences has brought to the table a discussion about the military behavior, so Bertell, even though the UN has been well aware of the existence of weather modification for wars since 36 years, and has actually banned this, the topic was not even raised at the conference in Copenhagen 2009, at which climate was the central topic. Nor has this been the case in the COP21 UN-Conference in the same issue in Paris in 2015.

Instead, however, the UN enforced a global Moratorium against geo engineering in Nagoya 2010, prohibiting individual, therefore private action. Who cares? At the Stock Exchange, you can gain money with “weather derivates”.

What can we do?

It is our objective to rouse the public, the media, movements, science, politics, the EU, and above all, the people, especially the youth.

The official theories about global warming and the alleged reasons for it, namely the civil output of CO2 gases, as recently maintained again at the last UN Climate Conference COP21 in Paris (2015), have to be dismantled (Bertell 2013, pp. 300ff). The IPCC – the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change – as the main official institution propagating the theory about the importance of CO2, is based on mere computer simulation and has no real proves to offer (Storr in Bertell 2013, p. 533). Most scientists even have severe doubts about the CO2 thesis (Weiss 2016; Wigington 2016). The results of independent scientists like Marvin Herndon are not published (a.a.O.). Investigations like those of activist Dane Wigington are not valued (Wigington 2016), even if he is quoting official sources like a recent speech of CIA-Director Brennan on geo-engineering and some of its methods. Civil geo-engineers, on the other hand, are denying the actual use of these methods, pretending that they are only on the table of discussion for an eventual future use (Fraile 2015, Weiss 2014, 2016). This way they avoid any legal problem, any problem with civil society and any proximity to the military. For, if climate change is the result of the application of military geo-engineering, there is no way to propagate it against climate change!

COP 21: Heads of delegations (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Rosalie Bertell is an eye-opener! She leads us into 7 decades of manipulation and destruction of the earth´s systems, and shows how complicated the reality has become in the meantime, as synergetic effects may have been influential on the one hand, whereas the results of scientific research about them are lacking in public on the other hand.

She shows us that and why a new dimension never considered until now has to be recognized – the planetary one. At the same time, she demonstrates that this planet is a gigantic, but friendly and beautiful cosmic being that wants to maintain the abundance of life it has created over billions of years – us included! Rosalie Bertell is able to see the new dimensions of incredible dangers that are threatening us, to analyze them soberly, and to call for our love for Mother Earth as a mental and spiritual way to move on at the same time. It is an invitation to not give up, not to hide, and not to go into despair, but to start to open up, to join, to get organized and to stand up for this Earth as it is the only one we have. I call it her “planetary consciousness” (Werlhof 2014b), a consciousness for this wonderful planet that has to be loved and protected by us. What else?

Rosalie has called herself an ecofeminist. Isn´t her consciousness and love of Mother Earth exactly what ecofeminism needs today in order to be at the level of a reality that has entered a new dimension, one that has never existed on earth before? The key is, therefore, to wake up to this planetary consciousness before and not after an electromagnetic geophysical war. A new movement will be needed to get to it and a broader theory to understand it.

Bertell’s book is a global warning for all of us.

Claudia von Werlhof is Professor of Political Science and Women’s Studies at the University of Innsbruck, Austria.

This article was originally published by PBME

You can read the French version here.

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Assistant Professor of History at Georgetown University Abdullah Al-Arian has written an epic tweetstorm showing that the “paper of record” has long pretended that the leaders of our close “friends” (cough … radical head-choppers) the Saudis are on the verge of becoming “moderate”:

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Global Research has received from Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, 4th Prime Minister of Malaysia (1981-2003) an important message, addressed to Muslims in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Yemen.

This message, however, is also addressed to the U.S. and its indefectible British ally which have relentlessly supported Saudi Arabia’s war against the people of Yemen, a criminal act tantamount to  genocide under international law.

The U.S. has been instrumental in supporting the naval blockade on the delivery of food and medicine to Yemen’s starving children. In turn, the corporate media has payed lip service to the inaction of  Western governments and their self-proclaimed “international community”.  Both the US and Britain have sold billions of dollars of weapons to Saudi Arabia, while also advising them on the conduct of military operations. In the words of Rep. Ron Paul

“[Why does] Washington support Saudi Arabia – a tyrannical state with one of the worst human rights record on earth – as it commits by what any measure is a genocide against the Yemeni people?”

Let us endorse this important message by Tun Mahathir who in the course of the last twelve years has sought to criminalize war as well as create the required legal conditions for the indictment of the political architects of modern warfare.

The Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalize War 

In 2005, after having served as Prime Minister of Malaysia for 22 years, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad initiated a pathbreaking endeavor which consisted in criminalizing all acts of war. This historic initiative under the helm of Tun Dr. Mahathir resulted in the formulation of  “The Kuala Lumpur Initiative  to Criminalize War”:

“Killings in war are as criminal as the killings within societies in times of peace. Since killings in peace time are subject to the domestic law of crime, killings in war must likewise be subject to the international law of crimes. This should be so irrespective of whether these killings in war are authorized or permitted by domestic law.”

The full text of the December 2005 Declaration to criminalize war is included below.

Read the Declaration carefully. It is an important document.

Tun Mahathir “has a dream” that one day all wars will be abolished.

The signatories of the December 2005 Declaration share Tun’s resolve to criminalize war.

We call on our readers to share that dream, to send Tun Mahathir’s  message far and wide, to change the course of history.

Michel Chossudovsky, Signatory of the 2005 Kuala Lumpur Initiative to Criminalize War, Member of the Kuala Lumpur War Crimes Commission (KLWCC)

***

Open letter from Dr. Mahathir bin Mohamad to the Muslim community in Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States and Yemen

The Kuala Lumpur Declaration to Criminalize War

Text of Declaration

15 December 2005

THE Kuala Lumpur Global Peace Forum of concerned peoples from all five continents

UNITED in the belief that peace is the essential condition for the survival and well-being of the human race,

DETERMINED to promote peace and save succeeding generations from the scourge of war,

OUTRAGED over the frequent resort to war in the settlement of disputes between nations,

DISTURBED that militarists are preparing for more wars,

TROUBLED that use of armed force increases insecurity for all,

TERRIFIED that the possession of nuclear weapons and the imminent risk of nuclear war will lead to the annihilation of life on earth.

From Left to Right: Francis A.Boyle, Helen Caldicott,  Denis J. Halliday, Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, Hans-Christof Von Sponeck, Michel Chossudovsky, Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

To achieve peace we now declare that:

  1. Wars increasingly involve the killing of innocent people and are, therefore, abhorrent and criminal.
  2. Killings in war are as criminal as the killings within societies in times of peace.
  3. Since killings in peace time are subject to the domestic law of crime, killings in war must likewise be subject to the international law of crimes. This should be so irrespective of whether these killings in war are authorized or permitted by domestic law.
  4. All commercial, financial, industrial and scientific activities that aid and abet war should be criminalised.
  5. All national leaders who initiate aggression must be subjected to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.
  6. All nations must strengthen the resolve to accept the purposes and principles of the United Nations Charter and institute methods to settle international disputes by peaceful means and to renounce war.
  7. Armed force shall not be used except when authorised by a Resolution passed by two-thirds majority of the total membership of the General Assembly of the United Nations.
  8. All legislators and all members of Government must affirm their belief in peace and pledge to strive for peace.
  9. Political parties all over the world must include peace as one of their principal objectives.
  10. Non-Governmental Organisations committed to the promotion of peace should be set up in all nations.
  11. Public servants and professionals, in particular in the medical, legal, educational and scientific fields, must promote peace and campaign actively against war.
  12. The media must actively oppose war and the incitement to war and consciously promote the peaceful settlement of international disputes.
  13. Entertainment media must cease to glorify war and violence and should instead cultivate the ethos of peace.
  14. All religious leaders must condemn war and promote peace.

To these ends the Forum resolves to establish a permanent Secretariat in Kuala Lumpur to –

IMPLEMENT this Initiative.

OPPOSE policies and programmes that incite war.

SEEK the cooperation of NGOs worldwide to achieve the goals of this Initiative.

Signed by:

Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad

Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf

Prof. Francis A. Boyle

Dr. Helen Caldicott

Mr. Matthias Chang

Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Prof Shad Saleem Faruqi

Mr Denis J. Halliday

Dato’ Mukhriz Mahathir

Dr. Chandra Muzaffar

Dato’ Michael O.K. Yeoh

Mr. Hans-Christof Von Sponeck

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A Ghedi 30 F-35 con 60 bombe nucleari

November 28th, 2017 by Manlio Dinucci

L’aeroporto militare di Ghedi (Brescia) si prepara a divenire una delle principali basi operative dei caccia F-35.

Il ministero della Difesa ha pubblicato sulla Gazzetta ufficiale il bando di progettazione (importo 2,5 milioni di euro) e costruzione (importo 60,7 milioni di euro) delle nuove infrastrutture per gli F-35: l’edificio a tre piani del comando con le sale operative e i simulatori di volo; l’hangar per la manutenzione dei caccia, 3460 metri quadri con un carroponte da 5 tonnellate, più altre strutture da 2800 m2; un magazzino da 1100 m2, con annessi una palazzina di due piani per uffici e la centrale energetica con cabina elettrica e vasche antincendio; 15 hangaretti da 440 m2 in cui saranno dislocati i caccia pronti al decollo.

Poiché ciascun hangaretto ne potrà ospitare due, la capienza complessiva sarà di 30 F-35.

Tutti gli edifici saranno concentrati in un’unica area recintata e videosorvegliata, separata dal resto dell’aeroporto: una base all’interno della base, il cui accesso sarà vietato allo stesso personale militare dell’aeroporto salvo che agli addetti ai nuovi caccia.

Il perché è chiaro: insieme agli F-35A a decollo e atterraggio convenzionali – di cui l’Italia acquista 60 esemplari insieme a 30 F-35B a decollo corto e atterraggio verticale – saranno dislocate a Ghedi le nuove bombe nucleari statunitensi B61-12.

Come le attuali B-61, possomo essere anch’esse sganciate dai Tornado PA-200 del 6° Stormo ma, per guidarle con precisione sull’obiettivo e sfruttarne le capacità anti-bunker, occorrono i caccia F-35A dotati di speciali sistemi digitali.

Poiché ciascun caccia può trasportare nella stiva interna 2 bombe nucleari, possono essere dislocate a Ghedi 60 B61-12, il triplo delle attuali B-61.

Come le precedenti, le B61-12 saranno controllate dalla speciale unità statunitense (704th Munitions Support Squadron della U.S. Air Force), «responsabile del ricevimento, stoccaggio e mantenimento delle armi della riserva bellica Usa destinate al 6° Stormo Nato dell’Aeronautica italiana».

La stessa unità dell’Aeronautica Usa ha il compito di «sostenere direttamente la missione di attacco» del 6° Stormo. Piloti italiani vengono già addestrati, nelle basi aeree di Eglin in Florida e Luke in Arizona, all’uso degli F-35 anche per missioni di attacco nucleare.

Caccia dello stesso tipo, armati o comunque armabili con le B61-12, saranno schierati nella base di Amendola (Foggia), dove un anno fa è arrivato il primo F-35, e in altre basi. Vi saranno, oltre a questi, gli F-35 della U.S. Air Force schierati ad Aviano con le B61-12.

Su questo sfondo richiedere, come ha fatto alla Camera il Movimento 5 Stelle, che l’Italia dichiari la sua «indisponibilità ad acquisire le componenti necessarie per rendere gli F-35 idonei al trasporto di armi nucleari», equivale a richiedere che l’esercito sia dotato di carrarmati senza cannone.

Il nuovo caccia F-35 e la nuova bomba nucleare B61-12 costituiscono un sistema d’arma integrato.

La partecipazione al programma dell’F-35 rafforza l’ancoraggio dell’Italia agli Stati uniti. L’industria bellica italiana, capeggiata dalla Leonardo che gestisce l’impianto di assemblaggio degli F-35 a Cameri (Novara), viene ancor più integrata nel gigantesco complesso militare-industriale Usa capeggiato dalla Lockheed Martin, la maggiore industria bellica del mondo (con 16000 fornitori negli USA e 1500 in 65 altri paesi), costruttrice dell’F-35.

Lo schieramento sul nostro territorio di F-35 armati di bombe nucleari B61-12 subordina ancor più l’Italia alla catena di comando del Pentagono, privando il Parlamento di qualsiasi reale potere decisionale.

Manlio Dinucci

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Authoritarianism can be subverted if learning environments on college campuses are democratized to meet learner needs.

What happens to a nation when non-conformists are labeled as “enemies of the people” and their counter-views are described as “alternative facts?”

What happens when the ideas and beliefs of American citizens are rejected by the government due to their religion?

What happens when the polity continuously ignores its constituents and avidly deconstructs affordable internet availability?

What happens when critical thought is observed with contempt?

What happens when a society’s economic disparities continue to widen?

What happens when violence worsens across traditional socio-economic bounds and it is ignored?

What happens when questioning these concerns becomes inappropriate or even illegal?

The Frankfurt School and Authoritarianism

In 1922, Theodor Adorno, Walter Benjamin and Max Horkheimer founded the Institute for Social Research in Frankfurt, Germany, or what would eventually be known as The Frankfurt School. Their research critically analyzed Western history by critiquing the ideological forces and structures that seemingly constrain people. Their goal in this critique? Individual liberation to reject or revise the conditions authorities have enforced as measures of constraint for the sake of conformance. The notion of defining the conditions of social subjugation became known as critical theory and, thus, evolved into a natural doctrine for redefining what it means to be truly emancipated.

In 1933, less than 10 years after its inception, the Frankfurt School was temporarily transferred, first to Geneva in 1933, and then to New York and Columbia University in 1935.

But why was such a move necessary? An emerging political party had taken control of Germany called the Nazis.

This makes the Institute’s move both ironic and a poignant. It is a reminder that its emphasis on questioning authority could never be realized without a societal and governmental structure capable of entertaining notions of non-conformance.

Such is the nature of a democracy and the antithesis of authoritarianism.

An authoritarian framework always seeks to overtake those structures that would otherwise subvert the total power it sways and deem them as dangerous or irrelevant to the public good. In fact, authoritarian regimes are notorious for punishing those engaging in what may be observed as “dangerous thinking.”But Hannah Arendt argued that all thinking is dangerous because it is individual thought that questions the relevance of the status quo. It is also the bedrock any civically engaged citizenry needs to critically think about how today’s reality will affect tomorrow’s democracy. This is especially true when dangerous thinking must traverse through the muck of radical extremist views, white nationalism, isolationism, and petty policies that push the needle of societal thought to the margins.

But where can these can ideas be discussed without reservation?

Education’s Subversion of Authoritarianism

Colleges and universities are the original bastions of dangerous thinking. These institutions reinforce scholars to question everything that is sacred.In doing so, the role of higher education is solidified as a pivotal mechanism for perpetuating a political democracy and an informed citizenry.

But the educative process for becoming an informed citizenry is not a one-way street.

Educators must recognize how to convey knowledge in a way that learners can engage on their terms. This is not pandering to the wants of the learner. Instead, this is an act of counterbalancing the learners’ needs with the educational methods that allow learners to understand the knowledge being conveyed.

This is not a revolutionary call to arms. Creating authentic and bespoke learning environments that liberate the minds of learners has been an impetus for educators since the era of John Dewey. However, in an age where the proliferation of students in blended learning environments is common, the ability for an educator to account for the needs of a learner is all but impossible without smaller class sizes and a legion of additional faculty. In that context, educators are better able to humanize their learners and emancipate them from being merely a passive object, thus empowering them to be interested and communicative. Learners then become an active part of the learning process because it has been democratized by, with, and through their needs. As a result, learners find an appreciation of power relations within the education system and society at large, so long as they see their input is relevant to the process at hand.

Yet, regardless of how small the classes are or how energetic the educator, in the end the learner must decide to be an active participant in the learning process, just as in the democratic process. It is truly their decision. In choosing to do so, learners must share their ideas while challenging the accepted assumptions of the time. They must also be free to do so by their peers, educators, and the administrators of the institutions they attend, thus allowing them to find the motivation to be an active participant and build upon that motivation over time.

This way of thinking is a precondition for cultivating a citizenry that prefers understanding and questioning the nature of governance in lieu of blindly accepting it as a natural form of authority. A predicating factor for fostering such a society is a host of civically-minded educators who are conscious of learner needs, unwavering in the quality of the learning process, and democratically-minded towards an end of liberating the minds of learners. In achieving this, dangerous thinking and individuality is encouraged, thus giving learners an example of positive power relations and the necessary context to tackle authoritarianism.

Anthony C. Clemons is a Curriculum Development Manager. His most recent book is Multicultural Andragogy for Transformative Learning (IGI Global, 2018). He is a contributing reviewer for a number of journals, including Journal of Interactive Media in Education, International Journal of Distance Education Technologies, and a language editor for Phenomenological Reviews. He holds an Ed.M. and an M.A. from Columbia University. He can be reached at [email protected].

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The mainstream narrative is that squeaky-clean special prosecutor Robert Mueller is going to indict Trump’s one-time foreign policy advisor Michael Flynn because Flynn is in the pocket of the Russians and the Turks.

But the truth might be totally different …

After all, Flynn’s meeting with Russian diplomats was completely normal, according to a prominent U.S. Ambassador to the Soviet Union.

So why is Mueller really going after Flynn?

When Flynn was head of the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency and afterwards, he blew the whistle on the U.S. and its allies willfully allowing Islamic terrorists to flourish in Syria.

That didn’t ingratiate him with the Deep State …

Then last November, Flynn ruffled more feathers by writing:

The primary bone of contention between the U.S. and Turkey is Fethullah Gülen, a shady Islamic mullah residing in Pennsylvania whom former President Clinton once called his “friend” in a well circulated video.

Gülen portrays himself as a moderate, but he is in fact a radical Islamist. He has publicly boasted about his “soldiers” waiting for his orders to do whatever he directs them to do.

***

To professionals in the intelligence community, the stamp of terror is all over Mullah Gülen’s statements in the tradition of Qutb and al Bana. Gülen’s vast global network has all the right markings to fit the description of a dangerous sleeper terror network.

***

To add insult to injury, American taxpayers are helping finance Gülen’s 160 charter schools in the United States. These schools have been granted more H1-B visas than Google. It is inconceivable that our visa officers have approved thousands of visas for English teachers whose English is incomprehensible. A CBS “60 Minutes” program documented a conversation with one such imported English teacher from Turkey. Several lawsuits, including some in Ohio and Texas, point to irregularities in the operation of these schools.

However, funding seems to be no problem for Gülen’s network. Hired attorneys work to keep the lucrative government source of income for Gülen and his network going. Influential charities such as Cosmos Foundation continue their support for Gülen’s charter schools.

Incidentally, Cosmos Foundation is a major donor to Clinton Foundation. No wonder Bill Clinton calls Mullah Gülen “his friend.” It is now no secret that Huma Abedin, Hillary Clinton’s close aide and confidante, worked for 12 years as the associate editor for a journal published by the London-based Institute of Minority Muslim Affairs. This institute has promoted the thoughts of radical Muslim thinkers such as Qutb, al Bana and others.

***

The forces of radical Islam derive their ideology from radical clerics like Gülen, who is running a scam. We should not provide him safe haven.

Now, Mueller is reportedly investigating Flynn specifically for his criticism of Gülen.

Who Is Gülen

So who is Gülen, really?

The Atlantic notes:

[Gülen’s organization] is rumored to have between 1 and 8 million adherents.

The Hill reported last year:

What lies underneath [Gülen’s] charter-school network, however, is a possible undercurrent of white-collar crime and corruption. Known in Turkey as the Fethullahist Terrorist Organization or FETÖ this growing network is being investigated by the FBI for everything from fraud and malpractice, to misuse of public funds. One spokeswoman for the bureau said that an investigation is ongoing and FBI agents carried out raids at 19 Gülen-affiliated charter schools in Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio in 2014.

***

Diplomatic cables released by Wikileaks demonstrate a concern by U.S. officials that these Turkish teachers and businesses “might be using the reputation of the school as a cover to get to the U.S.” These cables state that the H1B visa applications were “not convincing” and that Gülen’s more moderate message “cloaks a more sinister and radical agenda.”

***

Receiving approximately $150 million a year in tax breaks and subsidies, government officials are increasingly concerned that taxpayer dollars are being used to fund a close-knit network of Turkish teachers and businesses using charter schools as a Trojan horse for embedding into the U.S. education system.

Private intelligence company Stratfor notes:

Gulen [said] that in order to reach the ideal Muslim society “every method and  path is acceptable [including] lying to people”.

Documents leaked by Wikileaks has shown that American officials have been worried Gülen could be targeting children across the U.S. for radicalization:

In 2005, one U.S. embassy worker expressed concern about the schools: “We have multiple reliable reports that the Gülenists use their school network (including dozens of schools in the U.S.) to cherry pick students they think are susceptible to being molded as proselytizers,” U.S. Embassy officials in Ankara said in a 2005 report. And we have steadily heard reports about how the schools indoctrinate boarding students,” they said.”

Vox notes:

Among other charges, critics allege that the schools were a scheme to replace US teachers with Turkish immigrants, who were then expected to transfer money back to Gülen organizations. This resulted in investigations from the FBI, Labor Department, and Education Department. An audit of Georgia Gülen charters found that they improperly awarded contracts to affiliated businesses, and in 2014 the FBI raided 19 Gülen-affiliated schools in Ohio, Illinois, and Indiana. A Gülen school in New Orleans lost its charter in 2011 after allegations of cheating and sexual misconduct involving kindergartners.

***

Secular critics in Turkey have long attacked the Gülen movement as a stalking horse for more thoroughgoing Islamism.

In the 1980s, Turkish generals — who at the time were in control of the government following a military coup — accused Gülen of plotting a takeover to install an Islamic dictatorship. As Al-Monitor’s Murat Bilgincan explains, Gülen went on the run for about six years before being arrested.

***

In 2000, the Turkish government, then led by secularist Prime Minister Bülent Ecevit, indicted Gülen on charges of attempting to undermine Turkish secularism — a core feature of the state since Mustafa Kemal Atatürk founded the Turkish Republic in 1922 — and trying to install a Islamic dictatorship.

***

In other words, the Gülen movement was for many years a crucial ally of Erdoğan and the AKP — acting as a grassroots arm with significant funding that could support Erdoğan’s attempts to fight back secularists and, in the eyes of critics, suppress dissent.

A diplomatic cable leaked by WikiLeaks notes that Turkey’s chief Rabbi said about Gülen:

[There’s a] belief in parts of the U.S. government that he is a “radical Islamist” whose moderate message cloaks a more sinister and radical agenda

The Washington post reported in 2011:

A memoir by a top former Turkish intelligence official claims that a worldwide moderate Islamic movement based in Pennsylvania has been providing cover for the CIA since the mid-1990s.

The memoir, roughly rendered in English as “ess to Revolution and Near Anarchy,” by retired Turkish intelligence official Osman Nuri Gundes, says the religious-tolerance movement, led by an influential former Turkish imam by the name of Fethullah Gulen, has 600 schools and 4 million followers around the world.

In the 1990s, Gundes alleges, the movement “sheltered 130 CIA agents” at its schools in Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan alone, according to a report on his memoir Wednesday by the Paris-based Intelligence Online newsletter.

(Gundes was chief of Turkish intelligence long before Turkey’s current dictator, Erdogan, came onto the scene, and doesn’t seem to have any connection with him.)

Interviews of Gülen’s former top assistants say that Gülen is running a cult, that he wants to rule Turkey and the Middle East, and that he won’t hesitate to use violence to make it happen:

Gülen is certainly supported by at least some former American intelligence and state department officials, at least in some capacity. After all, Gülen’s application for a Green Card to live in the U.S. was  supportedby ex-CIA agent George Fidas, former U.S. ambassador to Turkey Morton Abramowitz, and former CIA Deputy Director Graham Fuller.   Another former U.S. ambassador to Turkey, Marc Grossman, receives $100,000 per month (that’s $1.2 million per year) from a Gülen company called the Ilhas Group.

The Turkish government has labeled Gülen and his followers as a terrorist network.    This is ironic, given that Gülen was instrumental in converting Turkey from a secular to Islamic government, and electing Turkey’s leader Erdogan. Until recently, Gülen was a very close ally of Turkish strongman Erdogan.

FBI Whistleblower Says Gülen Is a Terror Kingpin

Sibel Edmonds – a former FBI translator who has been deemed credible by the Department of Justice’s Inspector General, several senators (free subscription required), and a coalition of prominent conservative and liberal groups, who the ACLU described as “The most gagged person in the history of the United States of America”, and who famed Pentagon Papers whistleblower Daniel Ellsberg says possesses information “far more explosive than the Pentagon Papers” – has for years tried to tell the truth about corruption related to Gülen:

In a series of interviews over the last couple of years, Edmonds has said that – when she worked for the FBI as a translator – she saw documents showing that:

  • Gülen is the leader of one of the world’s largest terror networks, with terrorist training centers throughout the Middle East and central Asia
  • He is a key player in false flag terrorism in Turkey and other areas
  • He was key in changing Turkey from a secular country to an Islamic country, and electing dictator Erdogan
  • He is involved in heroin and other drug networks, selling nuclear material on the black market, and money-laundering
  • Gülen has contributed large sums of money to the Clintons through the Clinton Foundation
  • Gülen’s handler in the U.S. is former long-time CIA officer – and current CIA contractor – Graham Fuller
  • When Mueller was the Director of the FBI, he was instrumental in covering up Gülen’s terrorist activities and spiking prosecution against Gülen
  • Mueller is now trying to throw Flynn in jail, to silence his efforts to expose Gülen

This video goes into some of these allegations.

Washington’s Blog asked Edmonds what documents she saw while at the FBI which implicated Gülen as a terrorist mastermind.  She responded:

Gülen’s FBI cases:

1- White Collar Crime Division: had to do with front/shell companies and NGOs used for money laundering and bribery (political contributions to various political action committees).

2- Terrorism & Criminal Divisions: US derived funds being transferred to international hubs for various terror cells (including Chechen groups), Gulen’s Pakistani-Arab-Turkish operatives in US involved in heroin smuggling into US, Gulen-affiliated Turkish businessmen with cash-only companies (Ex: Re-selling used clothes previously contributed to charity groups like GoodWill) in Chile and other S. American countries (as money-laundering ops), …

3- Counterintelligence Division (Washington DC Field Office): Espionage (State Department, DOJ, RAND Corporation),  Bribery and extortion of dozens of elected officials,  including Hastert, Jan Schakowsky, Bob Creamer, Jane Schmidt …

Gülen has pocketed strategically positioned police chiefs such as the one for Fairfax County (Where CIA HQ is located among with several dozens of top Intel & MIC contractors) …

In other words, Edmonds says that Gülen is a terror kingpin and drug smuggler who launders vast sums of money, and bribes U.S. officials and officials throughout the world … and Mueller is going after Flynn in order to protect Gülen and the corrupt politicians he’s in bed with.

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A lot of people are writing and talking about spirit, higher self, personal enlightenment, shining health, transformation and the attainment of the Godly. A lot of people are following the words of those who proclaim knowledge of the above.

It is clear that many are searching for the security of a sound spiritual path to lead them through the material and mental chaos. Something that will bring with it a new awareness and sense of reality.

But this immediately raises the question: once having set off down this road – what will one do with the new found power which comes with traveling it? This opening-up of a new dimension of personal awareness and inner freedom.

Will one be content to simply carry on with ‘life as usual’ basking in the sense of uplift generated by this elevated sense of being? Perhaps one will change one’s diet. Buy a purer toothpaste. Take a brisk run each morning. Get a better juicer. Practice regular yoga and positive thinking. Even maybe seek to move to the fresher air of the countryside?

These are the ‘life changing’ messages that emanate from ‘Enlightenment plc’: the glossy mind, body, spirit periodicals; the earnest conferences; the retreats and the copious on-line sites devoted to self improvement. Nothing exactly wrong with any of these, of course, except that they mostly simply offer bolt-on ‘improvements’ to the existing status quo. More a kind of self enhancing escape route than a going forward to build something entirely different. Which, of course, is what is actually needed.

What is so evidently missing here, is instruction to the initiate to direct this new found energy outwards – into actions that help transform the dire state of life and of people on this planet. We cannot escape this material dimension in which we find ourselves, but we can help to transform it, by bringing our newly acquired four dimensional insights to bear on the largely static status quo.

To become aware, and therefore in a certain sense ‘to be free’, carries with it responsibility. A responsibility to help bring about a radical change (in society). A change informed by the bigger awareness achieved by our new found consciousness. This is the pay-back we are bound to make. For having ‘seen the truth’ one cannot then hide from it. One cannot simply sit crossed-legged and dream of a better life.

Once blessed with a little enlightenment, we are in a position to recognize that inner personal development and outer actions for positive change – are two parts of one whole. Just as inhaling and exhaling are also two parts of one whole. Only when the two are united – and made one – can we truly express our God given potential.

There is no spiritual ‘enlightenment’ without complementary grounded actions in which to pour our greater vision for the betterment of humanity. Such outward actions can also be termed ‘service to humanity’.

‘Enlightenment plc’ has tried to deceive us in this. Enlightenment plc says “No problem, you can escape from the material third dimension by seeking higher consciousness in the fourth dimension and leaving the problems of the world behind you. Pay your dues and tune in to us – and you will be healthy, happy, untainted by the greed, violence and destruction going on around you!” Yes, there is no doubt about it, the self-salvation road show is booming. Millions, who can afford to pay its fees, swear to its efficacy and personal rewards.

How tempting then, to jump in and turn one’s back on this deeply wounded world; leaving the 0.2% control freaks to carry on their take-over, unopposed and unnoticed.

How easy it is to leave the management of this jewel into which we were born and of which we are trustees – to those who are totally indifferent to its fate. Those whose only interest is money, power and control. Complete control over everything. Yes, it’s oh so tempting to evade our responsibilities as guardians of planet earth, and escape into this chimeric deception called ‘freedom’.

Real freedom is wholeness. And wholeness is the putting back together of that which has been made separate. The spiritual is all too often seen as disconnected from the physical and practical. And the practical and physical seen as separate from the spiritual. Separate entities. The powers of the spirit plane remain divorced, and even in opposition, to the powers of the material plane. Indeed, one is often considered superior to the other. As two halves, neither one is whole. Without integration, both remain only half of what they should be. Only half of what they are.

The maintaining of this division is the key trick played on us by our oppressors. It is the Ace card in their control pack. We need to recognize this and act on it.

There is a deeply disquieting mismatch between what aspirants get high on and the actual state of life on earth. The tens of thousands who diligently work on their asanas; who meditate daily; who keep only to the obligatory diets; who purify their drinking water and try to do the same to their souls. Supposedly ‘awakened ones’ who turn a blind eye on reality, choosing to remain ‘politically correct’ and aloof from the fray.

Such individuals strive to remain untouched by the contaminated world around them. Not daring to face the fact that the contamination is there because they make no effort to prevent it. That the wars carry on because they make no effort to stop them. That people are abused because they make no effort to defend them. That the main abusers continue to push open the doors, because it is not considered ‘spiritually correct’ to block them.

Is this really the great road to human emancipation?

When, I dare to ask, will such individuals be willing to channel the fruits of their awakening into bringing down the despots of destruction? Those who continue to hold them and this planet to ransom. When will they dare to face the truth and act on it?

For at present too many are living a lie and calling it truth. They are simply perpetuating the failings of those who are always on the look-out for ‘a great escape’.

To make life whole, the spiritual/mental plane must be fully integrated into the physical/practical plane – and vice versa of course. Our true power lies in the marriage of social activism and spiritual aspiration. For in essence they are One, but have been divided against each other. Divided in two by powers that seek to derail humanity and capture the planet for their own despotic ends.

By integrating a steadily awakening spiritual awareness with a determination to bring deep social change – we can and will – overcome the divisive hold exerted by our oppressors. This is the only, yes only, way to achieve true liberation. Now is the time to unite.

Time is short. We are very far down the road of divide and conquer. This blood and war stained road to ruin. A state, we can now admit, which has been brought about through our own passivity and abstention, and through the control system capitalizing on this abstention. Let us not pretend that we are so delusional to imagine we can live-out our lives as enlightened slaves. One day, those who persist in turning their backs, may be rudely reminded of their selfish indifference by a uniformed thug with a gun in his hand. By then it’s too late.

Now is the time to take control of our destinies  – to get on the front foot and seize the initiative. Words alone will not cut the ice, neither will prayers alone. In the end actions always speak louder than words. All those who claim the sanctity of the spirit, cannot forever turn away from confronting those who continue to systematically destroy the very air we breath, the very food we eat, the very water we drink, the very earth we live on.

We are fully equipped with – but have as yet failed to manifest – the courage necessary to turn the tide of history and to block the despots from tearing apart the uniquely precious soul of man and the beating heart of our living planet. True acts of love and of freedom manifest as bold and defiant determination. A far cry from the call for ‘love and light’ to sweeten one’s self satisfied journey to a chimeric salvation.

There is no time to lose. A totalitarian jack-boot is about to crush our deepest and most precious aspirations. We must rise up and stand firm against it.

By bringing together, into unity, spiritual aspiration and social activism, we will be taking a quantum leap towards true empowerment. We will be instrumental in catalyzing a great turning point in humanity’s struggle to throw off its adversaries and lay the foundations of genuine freedom.

By breaking the chains of divide and conquer, we can – and will – bring to our doorstep the great victory we long for. A victory which, at this very moment, lies right in the palm of our hands.

Julian Rose is an early pioneer of UK organic farming, a writer and international activist. He is President of The International Coalition to Protect the Polish Countryside. Julian is the author of two acclaimed titles; Changing Course for Life and In Defense of Life. Why not visit his website www.julianrose.info to find out more.

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As this Thanksgiving holiday comes to an end and the Xmas season approaches, let’s not forget to give thanks to our richest 1% fellow Americans and their corporations. Thanks to all 1.25 million of you from the 130 million of us 99 percenters households. 

Your stewardship of the US economy has allowed us to keep 5% of all the national income created since the last recession in 2009; while you wealthiest 1% got to keep the other 95% (see UC Berkeley economist, Emmanuel Saez’s annual income inequality analyses).

But the more you get to keep, the more you can ‘trickle down’ to the rest of us, right? So say your politicians, talking media heads, economists, and other assorted hirelings. So thanks very much for at least sharing something with us.

If not sharing wages, we certainly got more jobs to be thankful for from you—who lose no opportunity to proclaim you are the source of all job creation.

Since 2009, you ‘gave’ us millions of part time, temp, contract, on call, and gig jobs. True, mostly low paid, without pensions or benefits jobs. Better than nothing jobs. And while it took you 8 years to re-create the level of jobs we had back in 2007, better late than never, right? Even if our pre-2008, higher paid jobs were replaced mostly by lower paid after 2008, it sure beats unemployment benefits. So thank all of you 1% self-proclaimed job creators for all the low paid, no benefit, service jobs you eventually did create for us.

As owners of the system you certainly had a difficult task managing your complex, mega-corporation called the USA economy, keeping all those foreign competitors and troublemakers in line with the US economic empire. You know, those ‘russkies’ that just won’t lay down and play dead anymore, those too clever Chinese, and all those assorted ‘rocket men’. But that’s what our 1000 offshore military bases are for, aren’t they? Our trillion dollar a year defense budget is well worth it.

And getting us out of the worst economic crisis since the great depression of the 1930s in 2008-09 was no easy task for you, we know. So all of you 1.25 million wealthiest 1% households deserve every dollar you’ve diverted in the process of economic recovery these past 8 years, including:

  • The $6 trillion in stock buybacks and dividend payouts paid out to you from your corporations since 2008 (see Yardeni Research, November 2017);
  • The nearly 400% increase in the value of your stock holdings (see the DOW, S&P 500 and Nasdaq combined market gains since 2008);
  • The additional $ trillions in capital gains income you earned on bond interest and capital gains since the last recession;
  • Your share of half of the $1.9 trillions in ‘pass through’ non-corporate business income net gains since 2007 (see US national income accounts);
  • The unknown $ trillions more you earned from investing in derivatives in offshore markets that you don’t report, which even the US government cannot discover;
  • The still additional $ trillions more you stuffed in your offshore accounts to avoid paying US taxes (see recent revelations from the so-called ‘Paradise Papers’);
  • The $2 trillion cash your bank and non-bank US corporations are still sitting on in the US, and another $2 trillion your multinational corporations are hoarding offshore—together earmarked at least in part for your personal future distribution (see Moody’s Analytics).

That’s easily more than $15 trillion in cash, near-cash, and easily convertible to cash sources of income accumulated over the past 8 years (and excludes the earnings from real estate and real property)—to be shared amongst the 1.25 million of you.

In total wealth and assets, not just income, American households held $58 trillion in net worth in 2009; that has since risen to $105 trillion, according to the US Federal Reserve bank’s latest 2017 report. Since median US Households’ net worth is still 30% below 2007 levels—and 90% of all US households are still below 2007 levels (per the New York Times, September 28, 2017)—the lion’s share of that $47 trillion total gain in net worth must therefore have gone to you one percenters. Congratulations. (Can’t wait to get my trickle down share. Please send by way of this blog address).

Let’s not forget to thank in particular the bankers among you. While it’s true they gave us the 2007-09 financial crash that led to 14 million home foreclosures and $4 trillion in our lost savings, your bankers did allow us to offset our stagnant wages these past 8 years with more loans and debt.

So thank you bankers, for the $1.4 trillion in student debt, the $1.2 trillion in credit card debt, and the more than $1 trillion in auto loan debt. That’s $3.6 trillion! Who needs wage increases when we can borrow our way to prosperity!

And while we’re talking about banks, let’s not forget to thank our central bankers, Ben Bernanke and Janet Yellen, for buying up all bad investments you one percenters made before the 2008 crash. I mean the subprime mortgage bonds and other securities you got stuck with and couldn’t sell, that Ben and Janet generously bought from you at above market prices. That was another $5 to $6 trillion cash subsidy to your professional investor class.

By the way, I hear Ben is now making the speech circuit rounds, speaking to your bankers and companies for a fee of $200k per pop, and is serving on your corporate boards? And Janet has just announced she’ll soon also be leaving the Fed and joining him. Reward them well, Mr. and Mrs. 1%. They’ve done yeoman work for your banks, providing loans at 0.15% for 7 years, while the US government charged students 6.8% student loan rates and grandma and grandpa retirees lost more than $1 trillion in fixed income savings as result of near zero interest rates.

And let’s not forget your great multinational corporations who’ve been offshoring our high paying jobs made possible by free trade treaties like NAFTA. You know, the tech companies, big pharmaceutical companies, auto parts and textiles, and all the rest. Now we can buy cheaper priced products at Walmart and Target from you that they make in Mexico, China, and Indonesia.

Like loading up on Loan debt, free trade is so much better than getting wage increases!

And this season let’s not forget to thank your politicians that you help finance their elections. Thanks to George W. Bush for cutting taxes by $3.4 trillion. And Obama and the Democrats for cutting your taxes by another $1.1 trillion during the recession, and then extending the Bush tax cuts in 2013 for another decade by a further $5 trillion. Now their heir to the presidency, Uncle Donald, is proposing another $4.5 trillion tax cut for you one percenters, for yet another decade. I can’t wait for all the ‘trickle down’ that’s finally coming.

Your Republican party politicians (aka one wing of your Corporate Party of America) can’t take all the credit. Your Democrat wing deserves some. So thanks to Nancy Pelosi and Chuck Shumer, for their current efforts to broker a deal with Uncle Donald to let the 800,000 ‘Dreamers’ kids stay in America—in exchange for agreeing to deport their parents and for funding the border Wall with Mexico.

I do hope that next year Nancy and Uncle Donald can revisit the repeal of the ACA-Obamacare Act. It will mean another $592 billion tax cut for you one percenters and your corporations, and maybe then even more trickle down to us 99%. All those single moms with kids, disabled persons, and mentally ill don’t really need the improvements in Medicaid they got from the ACA. They were doing just fine before.  You one percenters need the tax cuts more.

In conclusion, I’d like to give special thanks to your most famous one percenter, Don Trumpeone, a member of the wealthiest .01% (or 12,600) super richest households within your ranks, whose income gains in 2016 averaged $65 million.

Thank you, Don Trumpeone, for keeping us 99% safe in 2017. We ‘kiss your hand’. This year not one American was killed by the North Koreans, or by the Russians in the Ukraine, or by those violent Yemenis and world domination seeking Iranians—even though 60,000 Americans have died from the Opioid epidemic (started by the big Pharma companies) this past year; another 38,000 of us died from guns made in the US (291,000 since 2007); and the USA has continued to fall below its 20th ranking in infant mortality among the advanced nations while our teen suicide rate has doubled since 2007.

We 99% have so much to be thankful for this holiday season. And you 1%–and your corporations, politicians, and media pundits—are largely responsible. So God keep blessing America. Let’s all stand for the flag. And thank you, our wealthiest 1% fellow Americans, the richest and greatest generation the world has ever seen.

Jack Rasmus is author of the just published book, ‘Central Bankers at the End of Their Ropes: Monetary Policy and the Coming Depression’, Clarity Press, August 2017. He blogs at jackrasmus.com, twitters @drjackrasmus, and his website is http://kyklosproductions.com.

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She was just standing there, in the middle of burning land, surrounded by stumps of trees, fire everywhere, smoke rising towards hopelessly gray sky. The expression on her face was mischievous, almost girlish. I had no idea how old she was: she could have been 28, just as she could easily have been 55.

This island, this village, this charred land: it all looked like hell to me, but obviously not to her: it actually made her laugh, burst with pride.

After all, it was her island, not mine; it was her land, her trees, and it was all getting royally fucked. She was personally participating in this carnage of nature – she, as well as her husband, her entire family, her neighbors.

Her name was Bu Elvi. ‘Bu’ means mom, or mam or Misses, in Bahasa Indonesia. Her scorched land spans near the village of DusunTerusan, and DusanTerusan is near Sintang, in the heart of Borneo, on the largest island in Asia, which is also the second largest island in the world, on what we habitually call ‘our Planet Earth’; although frankly, this moonscape of Indonesian Borneo/Kalimantan has very little to do with what used to bethe ‘blue planet’.

Bu Elvi

“I follow stock exchange regularly”, Bu Elvi brags, boastfully:

“I know that prices of rubber went down at least three times, lately. Now we will burn all this down, since the government refuses to give us any substantial compensation… and then, we will plant some vegetables, at least for a while.”

“And then?” we ask. “What if the prices of rubber go up again?”

“Then, well…” she hesitates, but for just a few moments. Regaining her bearings, she declares, defiantly:

“If that happens, we will burn the vegetables and reintroduce the rubber plantation.”

Now it is all black around her. It is desperate and depressing. But she doesn’t look suicidal,miserable, or even guilty. She does precisely what she was told to do under General Suharto’s military dictatorship, which was sponsored by the United States and the rest of the West. She does what she was taught to do right after the dictatorship collapsed (at least on paper) -in the present era of savage capitalism and unbridled thieving, which has also been clearly supported from abroad. She is making money. She is simply producing dough. She does not rely on anybody, she is well aware of the bottom line: nobody will give her anything. Even if she were starving to death, she would get nothing. And so she opts to be‘independent’, as well as strong, aggressive, arrogant and observed from some distance, mildly insane.

She is of course religious, as everyone in this country is forced to be from his or her childhood. Most likely, she doesn’t give a damn about this life, as there is, she believes, something much better, ‘somewhere else and big’, right after this suffering on Earth.

She is a tough woman, a ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of person, in short a ‘new Indonesian’.

Can one blame her? Perhaps yes. Perhaps no. She has to live, to survive in this inhuman, savage system, designed and injected from somewhere, from far away.

Still, the land is burning. Here and all around Sintang, all around Borneo, and in all corners of this entire Indonesian archipelago.

Would she opt for the independence of her island, if such an option were to be available?

She doesn’t need to think; she is suddenly absolutely certain. She clenches her right fist, grinning at us: “Merdeka! Independence!”

I am wondering whether it matters, whether it matters at all, who is ruling over this island. Fascism, savage capitalism, as well as the collaboration with foreign powers and institutions, has created a monoculture in this once great archipelago whose motto stated proudly:‘Unity in Diversity’.

If there is merdeka, and if Bu Elvi rules, would the land stop burning?

*

I spoke to a woman near the city of Samarinda, in Eastern Kalimantan. She was selling some fruits and crackers in a small store, predominantly serving workers from the immense plantations located literally behind her back. No primary forest was left anywhere in the vicinity. Everything in the area was black, or green, but if green it covered by sawit, the Indonesian word for palm oil.

Her business was so-so, she said, nothing spectacular. Frankly, she was hardly making ends meet,and she had no health insurance, no housing subsidies, and no financial support from the government. Despite all this, she appeared to be content. Or at least she said that she was:

“We don’t have any fires around here, anymore. Before, when there was still some tropical forest left, there were constant fires. Now it is all quiet.”

“Isn’t it because the palm oil companies and mining multi-nationals finally got what they always wanted?” I wondered. “Now they do what they desire. They cut down everything. Why would anyone burn things now? Forest is gone… Island is totally ruined. Palm oil, open mines and rubber plantations are covering almost entire surface of it…”

She stares at me, blankly. She does not understand what am I talking about, at what am I hinting at. She is confused. No one speaks like this, here. No one thinks this way. No one thinks, anymore, full stop…

*

“I used to come here every weekend,” whispers Ms Mira Lubis, a professor at Tanjungpura University in Pontianak city:

“It used to be so serene, so beautiful. This beach… My beach… My father was a doctor. He worked very hard. When he got tired, he took us all here, an entire family. I used to play in the pristine sand, with my brothers… I used to swim here. Now just look around…”

She shows me her childhood photos. I can see ‘her beach’, as it used to be, decades ago. I can see it now. She has tears in her eyes.

I look around. And it is all ruined: someone poured concrete over the sand: terrible job, thoroughly amateurish. Ugly stalls are everywhere, like sores. The sand area was reduced to just a couple of meters. Some huts and ugly, crumbling structures double as a ‘seaside hotel’.

Poisoned land after gold mining in Borneo

The beach appears to be totally abandoned and forgotten. The only thing that is never forgotten in Indonesia is an entrance fee; charging random visitors for entering anything, even this devastated place. In this country, nothing is public, nothing is free, and nothing is for the people. Even destruction is promoted as an attraction, as a ‘tourist destination’. You stop your car near the emergency room of a hospital: you have to pay… You enter a disaster area, a place ruined by a mining company somewhere in East Java: you are forced to pay. Scarred nature, ruined land quickly becomes a sightseeing attraction! You essentially pay for everything in Indonesia, especially if you are dirt poor.

Mira is walking slowly along ‘her beach’. She is deep in thoughts; she looks devastated. Her calm childhood memories are now confronted by reality, which appears to be simply monstrous. Her green island inhabited by ancient cultures and thousands of species of animals, birds and plants, now resembles a computer-generated image from a second-rate horror film.

She specializes in water communities, but the water is poisoned, mighty waterways polluted.

Far away, there is a brilliant, purple-red sunset covering the entire horizon. The sun is setting down behind a cluster of offshore islands. It is a brilliant, stunning sight. Borneo used to be one of the most beautiful places on Earth. But now, only contours are left; contours, memories and bitterness.

*

Again, I work; we work – filming, photographing and talking to local people. I don’t need any data. There is no need for theories. This is all clear, raw, absolutely indisputable.

Everything can be ‘explained’ and ‘neutralized’ by complex and ‘scientific’ theories, by going round in circles, by blurring the reality. Indonesian ‘science’ and academia, after 1965, has produced nothing useful for the country and for humanity, but they do one thing well: ‘muddying the water’, confusing and complicating things, making sure that what is obvious from the first sight, is squarely disputed, denied.Hundreds, perhaps thousands of PhD’s are made this way and for this very purpose, annually.

And the island is burning. Filthy chemical streams are everywhere. There is “illegal” gold mining on the land and in the middle of the mighty but horrendously polluted rivers of Borneo; mining is visible from the air and surface, but controlled by ‘influential individuals’, even by armed forces, and therefore untouchable.

Borneo is now synonymous with mining and logging, as well as with terrible plantations that have already cannibalized most of the land. Nothing is being produced, but everything has been extracted.

People are losing their land. They are losing health, even lives. The world is losing its ‘lungs’ – the tropical forests – or more precisely, it has already lost them all around this unfortunate archipelago.

Savage capitalism, moral and financial corruption, multi-national companies on the loose; this is a sad, even horrifying reality of the country, which totally lost its bearing.

Borneo, it appears, is nearing the end. The entire Indonesia is nearing the endgame, but it is considered ‘politically incorrect’ to mention it in the West, particularly in the mainstream media. Indonesia is, after all, ruining itself, so the West can prosper. It was like that during colonialism, and it has been like that, again, ever since the US-sponsored military coup of 1965.

I work feverishly in Borneo: I film, I write and photograph. Others are standing by me, trying to help. Are we going to achieve anything? I hope we will; we have to, otherwise, soon, here and elsewhere, everything will be finished, privatized, commercialized and eventually destroyed.

Palm oil processing factory near Singkawang

I also work in Afghanistan, in the Middle East and in several fully ruined countries of Africa. Everything here, in Borneo, appears to be extremely familiar. Is it really peace that is reigning here? I’m highly doubtful. To me it looks like a war, like an extremely brutal war. It looks like the war of people against their own people, the war of people against nature, against all living beings and species; a war against the forests and river, and even against life itself.

It looks like a neo-colonialist nightmare. It once used to be the most beautiful place in Asia, now it is scarred, charred and in terrible pain. But it is still breathing; it is alive. And what is alive is always worth fighting for.

*

Andre Vltchek is a philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He has covered wars and conflicts in dozens of countries. Three of his latest books are his tribute to “The Great October Socialist Revolution” a revolutionary novel “Aurora” and a bestselling work of political non-fiction: “Exposing Lies Of The Empire. View his other books here. Watch Rwanda Gambit, his groundbreaking documentary about Rwanda and DRCongo and his film/dialogue with Noam Chomsky “On Western Terrorism”. Vltchek presently resides in East Asia and the Middle East, and continues to work around the world. He can be reached through his website and his Twitter.

This article was originally published by New Eastern Outlook.

All images in this article are from Andre Vltchek.

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According to Inside Syria Media Center military sources [yet to be confirmed, GR Ed.] in Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF), SDF-Kurds will join the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) as “Northern Syria Protection units” after the establishment of the federal system in Syria.

A Rojava official and the joint chief of defense in Syrian Kurdistan (Rojava), Rezan Gilo stated that the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) have no problem joining the Syrian army if a federal state is awarded in northern Syria (Kurdish autonomous territories as part of the federal Syria). They are now in process of considering the possibility of joining the SAA.

“There is no problem for our forces to join the Syrian army if a new Syrian constitution is drafted on a federal basis and the rights of all the Syrian components are reserved,” Gilo stated.

Analysts believe if the SDF ever join the national army, it would be under American supervision and guidance. [An impossibility] Anyway, unification of SDF and SAA may also become another link in the chain of the U.S.’ blunders and failures of strategic planning.

Riad Darar of the Syrian Democratic Council confirmed this. He noticed also that If Syria was united, he believes there would be no need to have a separate force because they would join the Syrian Army.

To prevent joining the rumors have been circulating online for about a month of a new army created with the U.S. supervision. The U.S. is now allegedly in the process of forming a regular army instead of the SDF and will actually begin distributing military ranks soon to their chosen officers under American supervision.

Recent events indicate that the Syrian Kurds are beginning to realize the hopelessness of cooperation with the American side. Apparently, ‘the Kurdish card’ of Washington is bursting at the seams. Despite the fact that the U.S. plans to extend its presence in the region, the White House’s intention will not clearly be directed to help the Kurds and the latter are clearly aware of this.

As a matter of fact, the unification of the Kurdish forces with the government troops of B. Assad will probably be the best way to solve the Kurdish problem. The federalization will not only legitimize the rights of the Kurds, but it can also push the people of Syria to unite under the banners of government forces, whose reputation and rating are only gaining momentum day by day. The top secret of the deal between the SDF and the SAA is that it will help expel the U.S. and its allies from the Syrian political arena and complete this so protracted confrontation.

For your information:

The Democratic Federation of Northern Syria (DFNS), most commonly known as Rojava, is a de facto autonomous region originating in and consisting of three self-governing cantons in northern Syria, namely Afrin Canton, Jazira Canton and Kobanî Canton, as well as adjacent areas of northern Syria like Shahba region. The region gained its de facto autonomy in 2012 as part of the ongoing Rojava conflict and the wider Civil War in Syria establishing and gradually expanding an officially secular policy based on the contemporary Western democratic confederalist principles of democratic socialism, gender equality, and ecological sustainability.

Northern Syria is polyethnic and home to sizeable ethnic Kurdish, Arab, Syriac-Assyrian and Turkmen populations, with smaller communities of ethnic Armenians, Circassians, and Chechens. This diversity is mirrored in its constitution, society, and politics. Despite such diversity, Rojava is regarded by Kurdish nationalists as Western Kurdistan, one of the four parts of Great Kurdistan. It is also considered by Assyrians as Gozarto (meaning Upper Mesopotamia), part of the historical Syriac-Assyrian homeland.

While entertaining some foreign relations, the cantons within Rojava are not officially recognized as autonomous by the government of Syria or any international state or organization. For their part, supporters of its constitution consider their system a model for a federalized Syria as a whole, rather than independence.

Sophie Mangal is a special investigative correspondent at Inside Syria Media Center where this article was originally published.

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Canada’s Unraveling Web of Deceit. Terrorism and War Propaganda

By Mark Taliano, November 28, 2017

Now that Syria and its allies in the Axis of Resistance have done the world a favour by destroying most of the West’s terror proxies in Syria, the Canadian narrative is falling apart.

Socialism, Capitalism and Health Care

By Prof. James Petras, November 28, 2017

The US political and economic elites have always bragged that capitalism is far superior to socialism in terms of providing people’s personal welfare.  They claim that citizens live longer, healthier and happier lives under capitalism.

The American Dream Has Been Irreparably Broken

By William Hanna, November 27, 2017

We have the opportunity to serve as an example of democracy to the world by the way in which we run our own society; America, in the words of John Quincy Adams, should be ‘the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all’ but ‘the champion and vindicator only of her own.’”

Combating Terrorism and the Barbaric Egypt Rawda Mosque Attack

By Dr. Chandra Muzaffar, November 27, 2017

Egyptian president Abdel Fattah el-Sissi has chosen to respond to the Rawda carnage, the worst in modern Egyptian history, by ordering air strikes on militant strongholds. While they serve a purpose, they are not the solution. More attention to, and emphasis upon, constant and comprehensive intelligence gathering may help to prevent acts of terror from occurring. In a number of terrorist episodes in different parts of the world, the absence or lack of prior intelligence appears to have been the real problem.

Is the Islamic State a “Geopolitical Tool”? US Looks to Southeast Asia to Unleash Its ISIS-Daesh Hordes

By Tony Cartalucci, November 27, 2017

This narrative – these think tanks would have audiences believe – entails militants fleeing Syria and Iraq, and entrenching themselves amid supposedly sectarian conflicts in Southeast Asia. The think tanks conveniently never mention how tens of thousands of militants are funding the logistical feat required to move them to Southeast Asia or sustain their militant operations in the region once they arrive.

Video: Treatment of Native Americans by Colonialists. Marlon Brando Denounces Fake US History

By Marlon Brando, November 27, 2017

Marlon Brando talks about the treatment of native Americans or Indians at the hands of colonialists and the values of freedom and equality in USA. Please note that this video is not meant to offend anyone and is not against any race.

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VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Created in the wake of the 2008-09 financial crisis, the CFPB has been more bark than bite.

In September 2010, Obama appointed Elizabeth Warren (current US senator) as Assistant to the President and Special Advisor to the Secretary of the Treasury on the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) to set up the new agency.

In July 2011, when it began operating, she was passed over for Richard Cordray as its first director, formerly Ohio’s attorney general – an establishment figure like Warren, neither a reformer or people’s advocate, Leandra English his deputy.

On November 24, Cordray stepped down, naming English his successor. Trump named hardline budget director Mick Mulvaney as acting CFPB director until a permanent appointment is made and confirmed – a legal clash underway over who’s rightfully in charge of the agency.

Dodd-Frank legislation (2010) created the CFPB, clearly saying its deputy director (currently English) shall “serve as acting director in the absence or unavailability of the director.”

Yet the Federal Vacancies Reform Act (FVRA) lets the president install a temporary acting head of an executive agency, already confirmed by the Senate for another administration position – adding the following:

FVRA lets the president appoint an acting head of an agency “unless (1) a statutory provision expressly…(B) designates an officer or employee to perform the functions and duties of a specified office temporarily in an acting capacity…” Dodd-Frank clearly says so for the CFPB.

English filed a lawsuit, saying she’s the “rightful acting director,” calling Mulvaney’s temporary appointment “unlawful.” She has a strong case, challenging the administration and a politicized court, maybe ruling against her.

The US District Court for the District of Columbia will decide, its ruling likely to be appealed whichever way it goes, perhaps to the Supreme Court.

Mulvaney has no qualifications for the CFPB position. He once called the agency a “sad, sick joke,” wanting it abolished.

English has the experience and skill to lead the agency – despite its inability to provide much consumer protection in a hostile Washington anti-consumer environment – in the White House and Congress under either party, undemocratic Dems marginally different from Republicans.

From inception under Obama, the CFBP was largely toothless. Nominally charged with overseeing banking practices with regard to credit cards, mortgages, payday loans, student loans, and other consumer financial products, it provides consumer-friendly cover for ineffective Dodd-Frank legislation.

Neither the legislation or CFPB did anything meaningful to curtail Wall Street practices responsible for 2008-09 financial crisis conditions. Things today are worse than earlier.

Warren is no consumer rights champion. She did nothing to urge prosecution of Wall Street crooks. Nor did Cordray. As deputy director, English is untested.

On November 25, National Consumer Law Center’s Lauren Sanders issued a statement on Mulvaney’s interim appointment, calling it “an illegal affront to the American public,” adding:

“In an attempt to install a wrecking ball at the helm of the consumer watchdog, President Trump has ignored the law that dictates that the consumer bureau’s deputy director takes over until Congress can confirm a new director.”

“The law is designed to protect the consumer bureau’s independence and to make sure that the qualifications and biases of a new director are examined through the regular confirmation and hearing process.”

Since inception, the CFPB’s mandate and practices have been world’s apart. Wall Street does what it pleases with bipartisan support.

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If Trump FCC chairman Ajit Pai had confined his attack on Net Neutrality to merely rolling back the 2015 Title II rules, he might have gotten away with it; but like the Republican plan to kill Obamacare, the Republican plan to rob the middle class to enrich billionaires, and, well, every other Republican plan in this administration, Pai’s plan is so grotesque, so overreaching, so nakedly corrupt that it is likely to collapse under its own weight.

That’s because the Supreme Court has held that a federal agency contemplating a significant change in policy must “examine the relevant data and articulate a satisfactory explanation for its action.” But there are no new facts in evidence since the first Net Neutrality rules were enacted in 2004 to justify a change. We don’t know what evidence Pai will bring to court when it comes time to fight his plans, but the cards he’s played so far are hilariously weak: for example, he claims that the 2015 Title II rule led to a decrease in infrastructure investment by telcos. In fact, the telcos’ own filings and investor calls reveal that the reverse is true (Pai is entitled to his own opinions, but not his own fact).

US democracy has many structural deficits, but it also has strengths, and Pai has blundered into them. The first is that the administrative branch is composed of “expert agencies” like the FCC and they are legally required to provide strong evidentiary backing for their actions. As Tim Wu — the competition and internet legal scholar who coined the term “Network Neutrality” — writes in the New York Times, “A mere change in F.C.C. ideology isn’t enough.”

The other structural strength of the US system is the independent courts who act on a well-litigated Constitution whose jurisprudence is voluminous, and who have the power to overturn both the administrative branch and Congress. Again, these are far from perfect, but they are an important check on the abuse of political power, and they are much more readily available to the public than the other two branches. To saw Congress, you have to buy a majority of Congressjerks with campaign contributions; to capture a regulator, you must represent an industry that can offer them lucrative employment after they leave government life; to use the court to neutralize these other branches, you need only convince three appeals court judges or five Supremes that the Constitution supports your position.

While the courts are packed with Republican appointees (thanks to GOP Senate dirty tricks in refusing to approve judicial appointments under Obama, all the way up to a vacant Supreme Court seat that Trump stole), there is a well-established moderating effect of judicial service on long-serving judges, because working your way up through the federal courts requires a showing of adherence to the Constitution, which, overall, favors policies at odds with the right-wing agenda.

This means that when Pai’s plan gets to the courts, it stands a good chance of being struck down — and in any event, the court battle may last until 2020 and serve as a good argument to spur voters to vote against Trump and thus change the FCC leadership, mooting the whole point.

But Mr. Pai faces a more serious legal problem. Because he is killing net neutrality outright, not merely weakening it, he will have to explain to a court not just the shift from 2015 but also his reasoning for destroying the basic bans on blocking and throttling, which have been in effect since 2005 and have been relied on extensively by the entire internet ecosystem.

This will be a difficult task. What has changed since 2004 that now makes the blocking or throttling of competitors not a problem? The evidence points strongly in the opposite direction: There is a long history of anticompetitive throttling and blocking — often concealed — that the F.C.C. has had to stop to preserve the health of the internet economy. Examples include AT&T’s efforts to keep Skype off iPhones and the blocking of Google Wallet by Verizon. Services like Skype and Netflix would have met an early death without basic net neutrality protections. Mr. Pai needs to explain why we no longer have to worry about this sort of threat — and “You can trust your cable company” will not suffice.

Moreover, the F.C.C. is acting contrary to public sentiment, which may embolden the judiciary to oppose Mr. Pai. Telecommunications policy does not always attract public attention, but net neutrality does, and polls indicate that 76 percent of Americans support it. The F.C.C., in short, is on the wrong side of the democratic majority.

Featured image is from Chris Potter, CC-BY

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Featured image: Rezan Gilo

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According to YPG-led Syrian Kurdistan defense chief Rezan Gilo, “(t)here is no problem for our forces to join the Syrian army if a new Syrian constitution is drafted on a federal basis and the rights of all the Syrian components are reserved.”

Joint Syrian Democratic Council president Riad Derar agreed, saying when conflict resolution is achieved, YPG fighters are willing to join the Syrian army – if Damascus agrees to a northern Syria Kurdish federal state, changing its constitution to permit it.

Apparent conditional Kurdish willingness to be part of Syria’s army comes as the latest round of Geneva peace talks begins.

Syria’s delegation delayed its departure. According to its Foreign Ministry, delegates arrived Wednesday afternoon instead of Tuesday, headed by UN envoy Bashar al-Jaafari, a FM statement saying:

“Following intensive contacts, held during the past two days between the Syrian and Russian sides, the Syrian Arab Republic decided to participate in the 8th round of the intra-Syrian dialogue in Geneva” – knowing the futility of past efforts, likely turning out no differently this time.

The so-called unified anti-Syria opposition is led by Saudi-controlled Naser al-Hariri. On Monday, he called for “political transition which achieves the ousting of Assad at the beginning of the transition.”

If opposition delegates stick to this demand as expected, Geneva talks are dead-on-arrival. Previous talks collapsed over this issue, this round likely to go nowhere as well.

Commenting on Hariri’s demand, Russia’s UN envoy in Geneva Alexei Borodavkin said

“(a)ll this is very alarming and will hardly contribute to a constructive dialogue…”

The position of the opposition “is not in line with the real situation” and Security Council resolutions on Syria.

The document agreed on by opposition delegates in Riyadh includes an unacceptable precondition for Assad to go.

“It is unclear how the opposition members plan to hold talks with representatives of the Syrian government if the delegation coming from Riyadh views them almost as criminals with whom it is impossible to talk,” Borodavkin added.

Separately, according to the Jerusalem Post (JP),

“Assad agreed to a demilitarized zone of up to 40 kilometers from the border in the Golan Heights…but only if Israel does not work to remove (him) from power.”

JP claimed Putin relayed the message to Netanyahu. Though reportedly amenable to the deal, his goal remains eliminating Iran and Hezbollah from Syria, said the broadsheet, citing an unnamed source – a topic I addressed in a previous article, a worrisome sign.

Assad is grateful for Iranian and Hezbollah help in combating US-supported terrorists in Syria, significant progress made in defeating the scourge.

If achieved, conflict resolution doesn’t rule out possible revival of the threat, Syria again needing Iranian and Hezbollah help, along with Russian airpower.

It’s unlikely Assad would agree to forego the presence of his valued allies in the country, given the continued threat of aggression ahead – even if conflict resolution is achieved in the months ahead.

UPDATE:

A Syrian government delegation is scheduled to arrive in Geneva on the 29th of November for the Peace Talks hosted by the UN.

“Damascus had threatened to boycott the talks over the demands of the Syrian opposition that Assad step aside as a precondition for its involvement.”

Russia announced it had postponed the Peace Dialogue in Sochi until at least February “over Turkish objections to Russia inviting groups linked to the Kurdish People’s Protection Units (YPG), which it sees as an extension of the Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK) in Turkey’s south-east.” (See The Guardian, November 28, 2017)

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The idea involves playing both sides against the middle, keeping options open, promising support for both sides, a strategy to benefit the manipulator – dirty politics, the way America operates, why it can never be trusted.

According to Turkish Foreign Minister Melvut Cavasoglu, Trump “instructed (the Pentagon) in a very open way that the YPG will no longer be given weapons. He openly said that this absurdity should have ended much earlier.”

On Monday, Kurds in northern Syria said Washington will “adjust” weapons deliveries to their YPG fighters. Mutual cooperation will “continue.”

Pentagon and White House press secretary statements on this issue equivocated, failing to say precisely what Washington will or won’t do.

According to the Jerusalem Post, Washington will continue aiding Kurdish YPG fighters “as long as they remain committed to the goal of fighting and defeating ISIS.”

“(M)aterial support (meaning weapons and equipment), training, advice and assistance” will continue.

According to the Pentagon-controlled Combined Joint Task Force – Operation Inherent Resolve,

“(o)ur tactical partnership with the SDF is focused on defeating ISIS in Syria. Our attention is strongly focused on that fight…”

“The coalition continues to provide material support, training, advice and assistance to the SDF in their ongoing effort to defeat ISIS in Syria.”

“While ISIS is on its way to military defeat in Syria and Iraq, there is still much work left to be done to ensure their lasting defeat in the region.”

There you have it. Trump told Erdogan supplying Kurdish YPG fighters in Syria with weapons will end, saying it should have ceased “much earlier.”

The Pentagon (taking orders from Defense Secretary Mattis) indicated otherwise, saying weapons to YPG fighters will continue because “there is still much work left to be done” in Syria.

The Pentagon abstains from using the term YPG in comments about the so-called Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) – comprised of Kurdish fighters and Arab terrorists – nothing democratic about how Washington uses them.

In all its war theaters, America’s aims are endless conflict and regime change, or propping up puppet regimes it installed – in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Since US-led aggression on Libya, strategy involved using ISIS and other terrorist fighters instead of Pentagon troops on the ground, supported by so-called “coalition” terror-bombing.

It’s how current US wars are waged, along with US forces occupying targeted countries on the phony pretext of serving as trainers and advisors.

Russia’s intervention in Syria foiled its imperial objective to topple Assad. Still seeking regime change, Washington has no leverage to achieve it.

It has considerable ability to continue conflict in Syria, still seeking to impose its will on the country under leadership it controls – why winning the peace remains a formidable challenge.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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In the Middle East and beyond, we are witnessing a series of high-level political meetings between dozens of nations involved directly or indirectly in the Syrian situation. It is crucial to understand all this in order to understand the direction in which the region is going and what the new regional order is.

With the liberation of Abu Kamal on the Iraqi border, the last Syrian town controlled by ISIS, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) and its allies have completed the task of eliminating the Caliphate and its control over Syrian cities. ISIS returns to its original dimensions of being a terrorist organization without control of any territory or a city-state proclaimed as its capital.

These are important days, with political conferences about the future of the region and Syria itself occurring from Sochi to Cairo and passing through Riyadh. In Sochi, Assad met with Putin to confirm the alliance as well as Moscow’s loyalty to the Syrian State, and to also focus on a political solution. The Russian and Syrian presidents agreed on the need to involve the largest possible number of opposition groups in the reform process. In this regard, the meeting between Rouhani, Erdogan and Putin was also aimed at creating the conditions for an inclusive solution for all those who have agreed to put down arms and engage in talks with the legitimate government in Damascus. Turkey is the country that holds together the ranks of the so-called legitimate opposition, and Erdogan’s moves have confirmed that his strategy in the region is based around pivoting towards Russia through a full-fledged cooperation with Moscow. It is an almost unprecedented diplomatic victory for Russia that in two years it has managed to turn a potential opponent into one of the main guarantors of the peace process in Syria.

Riyadh is in the meantime bringing together the not-so-moderate opposition groups that are very close to Islamic extremism, a sort of spin-off of Al Nusra (Al Qaeda) and Daesh, and attempting to apply on them a makeover in an effort to rebrand them. It is important to note that recent meetings between King Salman and Putin seem to have opened some sort of dialogue with a representative of Moscow present at the Riyadh conference.

Firstly Erdogan, and then King Salman and his son Mohammad bin Salman (MBS), seem to have understood that a military defeat in Syria is now inevitable, and the latest developments have been related to the consequences resulting from the defeat of the terrorists. Turkey has much to gain from a convenient alliance with Moscow, both in terms of energy and transit along the East-West route of the Chinese Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and along the North-South corridor contained within the agreement between Russia, Iran, Azerbaijan and Turkey. In light of this, Russian planes have been flying over Turkey to reach Syria. A NATO country is letting Russian military aircraft fly over its airspace to reach Syria, something that would have been impossible to imagine not too long ago.

For Saudi Arabia the situation is different. While the meeting between King Salman and Putin represents an absolute novelty, the recent confirmation by MBS of his intentions to oppose the rise of Iran run counter to the possibility of pacifying the region.

The result of the war in Syria has carved out a new Middle East, where the likes of Riyadh, Tel Aviv and Washington, previously regional masters of all they surveyed, appear to have more or less been deliberately cut off from the decision-making process. While it can be argued that Washington has played out its role in the region with the defeat of Daesh, thanks to Trump’s “America first” policies that resists direct involvement in conflicts, Riyadh and Tel Aviv do not seem to have any intention of accepting Tehran’s new role in the region, even as it is supported by Turkish and Russian diplomacy and even military might.

The aggression against the Syrian state initially saw a compact front comprising the United States, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Qatar, Jordan, Israel, France and the United Kingdom. All were at the forefront of arming, training, financing, assisting and treating the injured of the tens of thousands of terrorists sent to Syria. It was a destabilization operation with few precedents in history. Already in 2014, at the pinnacle Daesh’s power, Assad’s position seemed firm and immovable. According to the intentions of Western terror planners, Assad was to be expelled within the first twelve months of the conflict. The drawback was the impossibility, for a number of reasons, of NATO and its allies directly intervening a la Libya, foremost among which was Syria’s possession of a good level of air defense, as well as America’s inability to deal with the human and financial costs of yet another conflict in the region, with the inevitable escalation that would follow given Iran’s involvement.

After the failure to remove Assad, the next step for Western policymakers was to deploy Daesh to create chaos and destroy the country, this diabolical force having been born as a result of America’s illegal occupation of Iraq.

Russia’s 2015 intervention in Syria, at the invitation of the legitimate government in Damascus, disrupted Western plans, bringing about the inevitable defeat of Daesh and consolidating Assad’s power. There are two events between the Russian intervention and the efforts to Balkanize Syria through use of the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) that served to confirm that the Iran-Syria-Russia axis was destined to prevail in the conflict. The first is Donald Trump becoming president of the United States. Leaving aside all the negatives related to his presidency, his victory has ensured that there is no direct intervention in Syria against Assad and against Russia. This is in contrast to what would have happened had Clinton won the election, the former Secretary of State prepared to trigger a regional conflict between the great powers by giving the order to shoot down Russian planes in Syria, thereby potentially kicking off World War Three.

The other event that has upset the balance of power in the region concerns the events that have occurred in Turkey over the last two years. Both the failed coup and the downing of the Russian fighter plane played an important role. The turning point was reached with the reconquering of Aleppo, which indicated a clear military failure by the opposition to overthrow Assad. Erdogan faced an unavoidable choice: support the terrorists and have to deal with a Kurdish enclave on the Syrian border; or reach a peaceful solution with the Russian Federation in order to contain the Kurdish threat and guarantee the integrity of Syria.

Erdogan has been rewarded by his choice to side with Russia and Iran, leaving Turkey in a better position than that of a couple of years ago, with him now able to influence the fate of many events in the Middle East, as well as allowing him to focus on his own national interests, in particular on the Kurds. The failure of the plan to balkanize Syria, involving the extreme attempt to declare Kurdish independence in Iraq, has only led to the end of Barzani’s reign. Hardliners committed to regime change in Damascus, such as the international coalition led by the US military and the military-industrial complex, have tried in every way possible to sabotage the SAA’s fight against Daesh along the Euphrates. Saudi Arabia had even ventured to support Kurdish movements directly within Iraq; and Israel was the only country to openly support the referendum on Kurdish independence.

This strategy foundered on the opposition of Syria, Iraq, Turkey and Iran, which with Russian military support consolidated the front against the Saudi-Israeli-Neocons-Neoliberals. During this series of changes and upheavals, the anti-Assad front managed to alienate even a country like Qatar, which has explicit ties to the Muslim Brotherhood and the neoliberal part of the American establishment. Although anti-Assad propaganda continues on state media such as Al Jazeera, the concrete effects are zero. Moreover, Qatar, following the Saudi crisis, sought to broaden its geopolitical stance, engaging directly with Moscow (there have been many contacts between the Al Thani family and the Kremlin) and Iran, a historic enemy of Riyadh.

The European component of the anti-Assad alliance is in complete disarray, with Macron in France conducting difficult mediation between MBS and Hariri in an attempt to avert further Saudi-Israeli political disasters that risk pushing Lebanon completely into the Iranian sphere of influence. In Germany, Merkel is experiencing a long wave of pervasive challenges between globalist versus national-sovereignty movements, with new elections looming. In England, the consequences and effects of Brexit are still tangible, with an unstable government and a series of difficult negotiations with the European Union. There no longer seems to be any time or resources available to invest in Syria. The falsification of reality continues through the mainstream media that belongs to the neoliberal world-wide elite, such as CNN, Al Jazeera, and the Washington Post. In addition to the usual lies fed through television and newspapers, Europeans and Americans today have no other tool at their disposal.

Trump seems to be contented to have been able to return home from his tour of Asia having secured hundreds of billions of dollars worth of extortion from allies, while not getting embroiled in the type of endless wars that even Saudi Arabia is unable to sustain, as seen with the genocide in Yemen and actions against Qatar. The Trump administration has many flaws as well as a deep aversion towards Iran, but it has no ability or intention to support Israel and Saudi Arabia in their attempt to limit Iranian influence by force. Not even the combined military forces of Israel and Saudi Arabia could pose a threat to Hezbollah let alone the Islamic Republic of Iran.

What we see is a Middle East that is trying to restore a regional order that is practical and functional. Meetings in Sochi between Turkey, Russia and Iran aim precisely to achieve this. In this scenario, Washington’s absence is notable, despite attempts from Staffan de Mistura to revive the now-dead Geneva conference. Russia and its allies, after taking the military initiative, are ready to guide the diplomatic negotiations between the Assad government and opposition forces, to be held under the auspices of the trio gathered in Sochi, with the involvement of the United Nations in a role as guarantor rather than decider. The shots are called by Assad, Putin, Erdogan and Rouhani, even though this new reality will never be accepted by MBS, Netanyahu, the European governments and the US deep state (neocon/ neoliberal).

MBS’s domestic actions, together with Netanyahu’s threats to Iran and Hezbollah, reveal a refusal to acknowledge defeat as well as, in the case of MBS, an extreme attempt to avoid losing control of the country. For Israel, the problem is more complicated. Already in 2006 it was unable to defeat Hezbollah, and now Hezbollah is more developed, better trained, and better able to inflict damage on the Jewish State. Saudi and Israeli military leaders are more than aware that they do not have the ability to defeat Iran or Hezbollah and that only Washington’s direct involvement would be able to change the course of events. This hypothesis, however, must also take into account the reality on the ground, with Moscow now allied to Tehran and Trump more than opposed to any new wars involving the US. In this situation that is chaotic for anti-Assad forces, MBS continues his work of arresting anyone opposed to him and recovering money sunk into wars in the context of the collapse of the oil price.

The new Middle Eastern order coincides with the near-end of the conflict in Syria and the intention to find a political solution to the conflict by pacifying all parties. It is a solution that is increasingly successful, especially in light of Turkey’s abandonment of the anti-Assad front. Moscow is slowly replacing the US as the fulcrum in the region and beyond, solving conflicts and accompanying the progressive withdrawal of US military and economic influence in the region.

Once again, the strategic triangle between Iran, Russia and China finds itself victorious, inheriting and solving one of the most complicated conflicts since the end of World War II. Kudos to Putin, Rouhani and Xi Jinping, the new giants of the 21st century.

Federico Pieraccini is an independent freelance writer specialized in international affairs, conflicts, politics and strategies.

This article was originally published by Strategic Culture Foundation.

Featured image is from the author.

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This article was published in April 2013. Fidel Castro Ruz was a contributor as well as a reader of Global Research.

A few days ago I mentioned the great challenges humanity is currently facing. Intelligent life emerged on our planet approximately 200,000 years ago, although new discoveries demonstrate something else.

This is not to confuse intelligent life with the existence of life which, from its elemental forms in our solar system, emerged millions of years ago.

A virtually infinite number of life forms exist. In the sophisticated work of the world’s most eminent scientists the idea has already been conceived of reproducing the sounds which followed the Big Bang, the great explosion which took place more than 13.7 billion years ago.

This introduction would be too extensive if it was not to explain the gravity of an event as unbelievable and absurd as the situation created in the Korean Peninsula, within a geographic area containing close to five billion of the seven billion persons currently inhabiting the planet.

This is about one of the most serious dangers of nuclear war since the October Crisis around Cuba in 1962, 50 years ago.

In 1950, a war was unleashed there [the Korean Peninsula] which cost millions of lives. It came barely five years after two atomic bombs were exploded over the defenseless cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki which, in a matter of seconds, killed and irradiated hundreds of thousands of people.

General Douglas MacArthur wanted to utilize atomic weapons against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Not even Harry Truman allowed that.

It has been affirmed that the People’s Republic of China lost one million valiant soldiers in order to prevent the installation of an enemy army on that country’s border with its homeland. For its part, the Soviet army provided weapons, air support, technological and economic aid.

I had the honor of meeting Kim Il Sung, a historic figure, notably courageous and revolutionary.

If war breaks out there, the peoples of both parts of the Peninsula will be terribly sacrificed, without benefit to all or either of them. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea was always friendly with Cuba, as Cuba has always been and will continue to be with her.

Now that the country has demonstrated its technical and scientific achievements, we remind her of her duties to the countries which have been her great friends, and it would be unjust to forget that such a war would particularly affect more than 70% of the population of the planet.

If a conflict of that nature should break out there, the government of Barack Obama in his second mandate would be buried in a deluge of images which would present him as the most sinister character in the history of the United States. The duty of avoiding war is also his and that of the people of the United States.

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Is North Korea Really a ‘State Sponsor of Terrorism’?

November 28th, 2017 by Rep. Ron Paul

President Trump announced last week that he was returning North Korea to the US list of “state sponsors of terrorism” after having been off the list for the past nine years. Americans may wonder what dramatic event led the US president to re-designate North Korea as a terrorism-sponsoring nation. Has Pyongyang been found guilty of some spectacular terrorist attack overseas or perhaps of plotting to overthrow another country by force? No, that is not the case. North Korea is back on the US list of state sponsors of terrorism because President Trump thinks the move will convince the government to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program. He believes that continuing down the path toward confrontation with North Korea will lead the country to capitulate to Washington’s demands. That will not happen.

President Trump and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson argued that North Korea deserved to be back on the list because the North Korean government is reported to have assassinated a North Korean citizen – Kim Jong-Un’s own half-brother — in February at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport. But what does that say about Washington’s own program to assassinate US citizens like Anwar al-Awlaki and his 16 year old son under Obama, and later Awlaki’s six year old daughter under Trump? Like Kim’s half brother, Awlaki and his two children were never tried or convicted of a crime before being killed by their own government.

The neocons, who are pushing for a war with North Korea, are extremely pleased by Trump’s move. John Bolton called it “exactly the right thing to do.”

Designating North Korea as a state sponsor of terrorism will allow President Trump to impose the “highest level of sanctions” on North Korea. Does anyone believe more sanctions – which hurt the suffering citizens of North Korea the most – will actually lead North Korea’s leadership to surrender to Washington’s demands? Sanctions never work. They hurt the weakest and most vulnerable members of society the hardest and affect the elites the least.

So North Korea is officially a terrorism-sponsoring nation according to the Trump Administration because Kim Jong-Un killed a family member. Meanwhile, Saudi Arabia is in the process of killing the entire country of Yemen and no one says a word. In fact, the US government has just announced it will sell Saudi Arabia $7 billion more weapons to help it finish the job.

Also, is it not “state-sponsorship” of terrorism to back al-Qaeda and ISIS, as Saudi Arabia has done in Syria?

The truth is a “state sponsor of terrorism” designation has little to do with actual support for global terrorism. As bad as the North Korean government is, it is does not go abroad looking for countries to invade. The designation is a political one, allowing Washington to ramp up more aggression against North Korea.

Next month the US and South Korean militaries will conduct a massive military exercise practicing an attack on North Korea. American and South Korean air force fighters and bombers will practice “enemy infiltration” and “precision strike drills.” Are these not also to be seen as threatening?

What is terrorism? Maybe we should ask a Yemeni child constantly wondering when the next Saudi bomb overhead might kill his family. Or perhaps we might even ask a Pakistani, Somali, Iraqi, Syrian, or other child who is terrified that the next US bomb will do the same to his family. Perhaps we need to look at whether US foreign policy actually reflects the American values we claim to be exporting before we point out the flaws in others.

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Nicolas Maduro is a dictator although he was fairly elected. He has improved the situation of the poor and for this alone should be considered democratic.  Saudi Arabia’s Muhammad Bin-Salman, on the other hand, sacked scores of his opponents, almost overnight. He is not a dictator.

The Crown Prince has brought the economy, the security and military forces, the media and the religious establishment totally under his control. He’ll make sure millions starve in Yemen or die of cholera. But he opposed the “old guard”. He’s considered bold and enterprising, modern.

On the anniversary of Fidel Castro’s death, the connection matters. It has to do with lies and how we accept them. If there’s one thing to remember about Fidel Castro, it is his insistence on ideas. He insisted on philosophy. He talked about what it means to be human. It has to do with how we get truth.

We notice the lies, of course, but we don’t see the connection to how we think about who we are and how we live. José Martí did. He said a major barrier to Latin American independence was a false idea of how to know. A philosophical idea.

“We want truth, not dreams”, he wrote.

When I mentioned Martí at a solidarity meeting for Venezuela, the chair suggested he was irrelevant, or at least his philosophy was. What matters is economics and politics. Venezuelans must eat. Many admire Cuba’s revolution and don’t bother with the ideas. They talk about Castro’s charisma as if it had nothing to do with his philosophical vision, centuries old.[i]

The separation of philosophy and politics is part of the ideology Martí opposed. Fidel followed. He dedicated his life to opposing that ideology. He said people suffer because of a “nicely sweetened but rotten idea” about how to live: an idea about what it means to be human.[ii]

In philosophy classes, students engage in a thought experiment. Suppose you could enter a happiness machine that makes it appear that your desires for your life are satisfied. Once you enter the machine, you won’t know it is a machine. You will have a happy, fulfilled life, within the machine.

Few choose to enter. They are not sure why. They say,

“I know there is something wrong but I am not sure what.”

Some point to the importance of struggle. They want to work for their happiness. But the machine can make it seem as if they did, and they won’t know the difference.

The thought experiment is supposed to refute hedonism, the idea that pleasure is the only value worth pursuing. If you don’t opt for feeling happy, there must be more to life than pleasure.

One might think, though, that the pursuit of happiness itself is the delusionary machine. Concern for happiness – my happiness – obscures the distinction between truth and reality: real lives are irrelevant.

The ancient Chinese philosopher, Chuang Tzu, said: when the shoe fits, you don’t feel it. He meant that when you live well, by which he meant realizing your unique human potential, you don’t wonder about it. The question doesn’t arise. We ask questions when there is doubt.

Happiness involves a paradox, at least as understood in North America: When you pursue it, you don’t find it. Those looking for happiness are not happy. The Buddha, of course, said “May all beings be happy” but his idea of happiness was quite different. He meant absence of ego, not fulfillment of it.

The self-help industry is instructive. Many realize that material gain does not satisfy. They seek elsewhere – in yoga, meditation, travel, art, creativity, “sharing circles”, nature.  Self-help books and life coaches give guidance. And then there are self-help books to help you deal with the self-help industry.

A simple truth is missed. It was known to Marx, Lenin and José Martí. It is known within indigenous traditions that motivated José Carlos Mariátegui. It was known to the Buddha and Chuang Tzu. It was expressed by Fidel in its myriad dimensions and applications.

Human beings are interdependent. Like every other part of the universe, we are dependent upon other people and upon the natural environment. This includes for thinking. Marx said human beings are herd animals not because of how we live but because of how we think. We do not think alone.

And we cannot be happy alone. The self-help industry in the North tells us to “get the most out of yourself …  in a job that is spiritually fulfilling, socially constructive, experientially diverse, emotionally enriching, self- esteem boosting, perpetually challenging and eternally edifying”.[iii]

For what? It is for me, all about me. And it doesn’t work.

I am surprised when activists in the North tell me philosophy is irrelevant. There’s no time for that, they say. Cubans cannot afford tomatoes, and Trump is preventing US tourists from going to Cuba.

But Juan Marinello, one of Latin America’s great thinkers, said Martí left an important legacy: the idea that if you want to flourish intellectually, you should commit yourself to the major causes of your time.[iv] In other words, if you want to think well, to distinguish truth from lies, you need to act well, for others. You need to sacrifice.

We won’t know the lies if we’re living them. And if we don’t know we’re living them, we don’t ask about those lies. Fidel Castro opposed such lies: some philosophical. He did that as part of the struggle for a better world, politically and economically. Those who don’t see that in his legacy aren’t looking.

Ana Belén Montes opposed lies.[v] She’s in jail, in the US, having hurt no one. Please sign petition here.

Susan Babbitt is author of Humanism and Embodiment (Bloomsbury 2014).

This article was originally published by CounterPunch.

Notes

[i] Nelson P. Nelson, “El contenido revolucionario y político de la autoridad carismática de Fidel Castro”, Temas 55 (2008) 4-17

[ii] “A revolution can only be born from culture and ideas” (Master lecture at the Central University of Venezuela, February 3 1999). Havana, Cuba: Editora Política, 9.

[iii] David Brook, Bobos in paradise (New York, NY: Simon & Schuster, 2000).

[iv] Cuba: Cultura (Havana: Editoral Letras Cubanas, 1989) 287

[v] http://www.prolibertad.org/ana-belen-montes. For more information, write to the [email protected] or [email protected]

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Recently, Israel and Saudi Arabia began to demonstrate their mutual readiness for proximity or even collaboration based on the joint opposition to Iran. So far, these two ferocious geopolitical enemies of Tehran are trying to stick to the policy of confidentiality in the conducted negotiations and have not entered the level of official inter-state contacts yet. However, even now, many things testify to the readiness of Tel-Aviv and Riyadh to go towards ‘bold decisions’, to the extent of making visits of official persons and establishing diplomatic relations.

The evidence of such a trend became obviously unprecedented with regards to the two countries, judging by the interview with the Chief of General Staff (Israel) Gadi Eizenkot given to the Saudi online newspaper Elaph and published on 16th November, where the Israeli military commander appealed to Saudi and other ‘involved stakes’ for the mutual inhibition of ‘aggressive Iranian influence’ in the Middle East region. Whereby the Chief of General Staff (Israel) noted the readiness of Tel-Aviv to exchange intelligence data with Riyadh to neutralize the threats on part of Tehran.

Not so long ago, the Jewish state was visited by the Saudi delegation headed by the Saudi general Dr. Anwar Eshki, the former advisor of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia, who met Dore Gold, Director-General of the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The negotiations of Eshki were, first, concerned the sphere of military collaboration. In this respect, we would like to remind that in May in London, the electronic intifada Аl-Rai al-Youm already informed us that Israel offered its famous air-defence system ‘Iron Dome’ to Riyadh.

Earlier, the Arab mass media already widely quoted Yisrael Katz, Minister of Transportation and the Minister of Intelligence, who suggested in June that King of Saudi Arabia, Salman bin Abdulazis Al Saud “could have invited” the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to pay a visit to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and establish ‘diplomatic relations on a full scale”.

Whereby it is quite remarkable that until recently, in Saudi Arabia it was officially prohibited for the Israelites to be on their territory. Saudi Arabian Airlines do not only refuse to sell tickets to the citizens of Israel on their flights, but refuse entry on board to those Israelites who hold citizenship of other countries, if in their luggage a kippah, a Jewish cap, would be found, the Torah or any other paraphernalia testifying to affiliation to the Jewish religion.

The daily Arabic newspaper ‘Al-Akhbar’ (Lebanon) recently informed us that it has a secret document in possession regarding the covert negotiation between Saudi Arabia and Israel, during which both sides talk terms of establishing mutual diplomatic relations. This document presents a letter of Adel al-Jubeir, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Saudi Arabia to the Crown Prince of Saudi Arabia, Mohhamad bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, where the negotiations with the participation of the USA are mentioned regarding the issue of international recognition of Israel by Riyadh and creation of a coalition together with it, against Iran in the Middle East, with the approval of Washington. As a ‘contribution’ to the covert alliance of Israel-Saudi Arabia, Riyadh expresses willingness to support Jerusalem division and placing it under international regime, per the plan adopted by the General Assembly. It being understood that the Palestinian refugees living on the territory of the Arab League, at the suggestion of Riyadh, should be granted citizenship of these countries, whereby the Israeli-Palestinian conflict itself would be ‘turned into a cinder and a memory’, and, according to arrangements between Riyadh and Washington, the USA would openly support Saudi Arabia in creating a military alliance against Iran with the participation of Israel.

As per another statement by the Wall Street Journal, Riyadh is prepared to withdraw the demands to Jerusalem to freeze the construction in the parts of Judea and Samaria, located beyond the settlement ‘blocs’; however, it also demands from Israel to increase the humanitarian aid to the Gaza Strip.

The rapprochement of the Arab world and Israel is in many aspects related to the creation of the ‘front’ to stay united against Iran. The Saudis are intending to become masters of the whole Middle East, just as the Israelis.

The government of Israel admitted having confidential consultations with Saudi Arabia, the major part of which is devoted to the co-operative deterrence of Iran threats. The fact of secret contacts between Tel-Aviv and Riyadh was also confirmed recently by Yuval Steinitz, Energy and Water Resources Minister of Israel.

In relation to the anti-Iran sentiments actively demonstrated recently, we would like to remind of the history and the development of the region and Israel itself. When the Biblical Israelites emerged, Persia was a civilised country already.

Cyrus the Great, king of Persia, assisted the Jews in rebuilding the temple in Jerusalem, in essence, having founded what they now call ‘the Jewish people’. That is why he is so praised in the Jewish sources, as he marked a great epoch in the history of the Jewish people, being a ‘great benefactor’. Partly due to this reason, when the establishment of the State of Israel was proclaimed in 1948, David Ben-Gurion, former Prime-Minister of Israel, saw in Iran a natural ally. That is why, back at that time, most Iranian Jews said they viewed Iran as their home, whereas Tehran became heaven (kind of ‘Mecca’) for many Jewish businessmen. The experts from the Israel Security Agency Shin-Bet even trained the secret police SAVAK, domestic security and intelligence service of Pahlavi dynasty, whereas the high-ranking commanders of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at the time could travel unchecked through Iran to Iraqi Kurdistan to train Peshmerga – the military forces of the federal region of Iraqi Kurdistan, who have played a key role in the mission to capture Saddam Hussein. Israel also supported Iran in the Iran-Iraq war of eight years with ‘Ba’athist Iraq’. Thus, at that time Israel eliminated the obstacle for Iran’s domination in the Middle East.

Indeed, the times change, so do politicians and political ambitions. By intending nowadays to take the place of the regional hegemon, with the support of Washington, the current Israeli politicians, due to U.S. pressure, decided to correct their previous mistakes in ‘Iran’s Regional Position Strengthening’, being poised to concluding an alliance with their opponents from Saudi Arabia. However, even this temporary political-military alliance between the Jews and the Saudi looks highly suspect. In long run, Arab regimes still cannot tolerate the State of Israel, although they are trying in their convoluted comments, so peculiar to them, to convince the Israeli that they “are now united with them in their goals: to reflect the threat from the common enemy and withstand in the atmosphere of chaos”. In actual practice, although Riyadh does not declare open its intention to destroy the ‘Jewish state’, it supports the terror groups that are acting exactly in this direction, and tomorrow, with the prompt from Riyadh, might divert their anger against Israel.

The East is a delicate matter, indeed!

Valery Kulikov is expert politologist, exclusively for the online magazine ‘New Eastern Outlook’.

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Bitter negotiations over post-Brexit arrangements with the European Union threaten to destabilise governments in the UK, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland.

Britain is due to exit the European Union in March 2019, raising the possibility that the border between the north and south and the Irish Sea will become an external customs and tariff barrier to “Fortress Europe.” The issue has therefore pitched a divided British government against the EU’s 27 member states, including the Republic.

The EU has made a resolution of the border issue one of the three preconditions for moving forward onto talks with the British government on Brexit trade terms. Brussels is placing maximum pressure on the Conservative government of Prime Minister Theresa May to agree to pay a £40-50 billion “divorce settlement” that is meant to be agreed in one week’s time. The Irish government has made clear it will veto any border solution—and therefore any Brexit deal—of which it does not approve.

This has potentially catastrophic consequences for cross-border trade and for the economies of both parts of the island. Politically, it threatens the survival of May’s government but, more fundamentally, calls into question both future Anglo-Irish relations along with the power-sharing arrangements between the nationalist Sinn Fein and the pro-British Unionist parties. Inaugurated by the 1998 Good Friday Agreement, the arrangements ended the 30-year armed conflict known as The Troubles.

Britain’s Tory government depends on the vote of ten Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) MPs in a “confidence and supply” arrangement made necessary by the disastrous election result in June. This means that the DUP can veto any Westminster policy it doesn’t agree with.

Northern Ireland has not had a functioning government since early this year—when the Northern Ireland Executive was collapsed by Sinn Fein seizing on a long running scandal over the misallocation of British government funds. Two subsequent elections, one in Northern Ireland and one in Westminster and months of desultory talks failed to revive the power-sharing government between Sinn Fein and the DUP.

Despite the collapse of the Stormont Assembly, the DUP’s stranglehold on May’s weak and divided government has been strengthened—along with her reliance on the hard-Brexit wing of her own party. In the 2016 Brexit referendum, Northern Ireland voted by a clear majority, 56 to 44 percent, to remain in the EU. However, the DUP are fervent Brexiteers with intimate connections to the Tory right.

Earlier this month the British government, egged on by the DUP, took the first steps towards re-imposing direct rule over Northern Ireland from Westminster. A budget to allow public services to continue to function in the absence of regional government was pushed through by Northern Ireland Secretary of State James Brokenshire.

Last week, the situation became yet more fraught when the Republic of Ireland was also pitched into an electoral crisis.

A long running scandal around the state framing of whistle blower, Maurice McCabe, who exposed fraudulent and corrupt police practices and was falsely accused of being a paedophile, has led to successive police and government resignations.

The main opposition party, Fianna Fail, and Sinn Fein, which operates on both sides of the Irish border, are calling for the resignation of Tanaiste (deputy prime minister) Frances Fitzgerald of Fine Gael over her role in the affair. Recently appointed Taoiseach (prime minister) Leo Varadkar has refused.

Fianna Fail, which props up the minority Fine Gael government, responded by threatening to pull out of a “confidence and supply” deal. That would precipitate a snap general election just days after the crucial December 14 summit between the EU and the British government.

Both sides are in talks seeking to avoid such an outcome. Fianna Fail are also under pressure from Sinn Fein who recently dropped opposition to entering a coalition agreement as a minority party.

Gerry Adams’ retirement announcement last weekend would facilitate such a governmental role by removing the leader most associated politically with the Irish Republican Army’s campaign against British rule in the North. Adams’ departure brings nearer the prospect of Sinn Fein simultaneously being in government in Northern Ireland and acting as king makers in the Republic.

Brexit has proved to be an unmitigated economic and political disaster for Irish capitalism, north and south. Until Brexit, the Irish Republic, for all the nationalist posturing of its leading parties, broadly shadowed the trajectory of its former imperial master and leading market. Ireland even joined the EU’s forerunner, the European Economic Community, on the same day as Britain, in 1973, at a time when Northern Ireland was occupied by tens of thousands of British troops.

As a member of the European trade bloc, the once impoverished republic attracted vast amounts of US and EU investment aimed at exploiting cheap English-speaking labour with access to European markets. Indeed the “peace process” in the North was underpinned by the fact that both Britain and Ireland were in the EU. The US, Britain and the EU worked to create the conditions for the island to be economically integrated, and investment to be directed towards the increasingly isolated north.

As a result, over the past 19 years, the economically irrational 300-mile border that was once scarred by hundreds of checkpoints, fortresses and patrolled by the British Army effectively ceased to exist. Tens of thousands of goods vehicles, commuters and bargain seekers cross it every day. A recent EU paper reported 142 areas, including the environment, health, agriculture, transport, education, tourism, energy, telecommunications, broadcasting, inland fisheries, justice and security, and sport in which current cross border activity was underpinned by the Good Friday Agreement and EU law.

Brexit poses other problems for the republic. Statistics vary, but 2014 figures suggest that Irish trade with the EU, at €109 billion, is more than double its €52 billion trade with Britain. However, external trade, even if ultimately destined for Europe, still passes through Britain. A recent Financial Times article quoted the Irish Exporters Association stating that two thirds of Irish goods directed towards European and even global markets currently cross the Irish Sea to use the British motorway infrastructure and access to the Channel Tunnel.

All parties and governments, including the DUP, therefore agree that there should be no return to a “hard” border. But there is no unity on how this can be done, or where the line marking the EU’s boundary should fall.

The DUP and the British government have ruled out any “special status”, or “bespoke” solution for Northern Ireland that would allow the rules of the EU single market and customs union to continue to be mirrored in the North. They have also ruled out checks at British and Northern Irish ports, claiming this would undermine Northern Ireland’s status as part of the UK.

The Irish government’s European Commissioner, Philip Hogan, warned that Ireland would “continue to play tough to the end.” He did so knowing that he has EU backing, with chief Brexit negotiator Michel Barnier recently Tweeting,

“Strong solidarity with Ireland…Irish issues are EU issues.”

There is a strong element of political brinksmanship, but all sides are behaving with extraordinary recklessness over the future of an island whose most recent civil war only ended two decades ago.

For the working class, the situation is fraught with the danger of heightened sectarian conflict amid a continued descent into austerity. Only through a united struggle for the abolition of all national borders and the founding of a United Socialist States of Europe can workers advance their interests.

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The US Environmental Protection Agency has approved the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes in 20 US states and Washington D.C – what are the implications of this mass experiment?

In early November the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved the use of mosquitoes which have been genetically engineered to carry a common bacterium designed to kill mosquitoes that carry dangerous viruses. The news was reported in Natureand later confirmed to Gizmodo by MosquitoMate, the company behind the GE mosquitoes, and the EPA. The EPA said they officially registered MosquitoMate’s Asian Tiger mosquito with a five-year license to sell their lab mosquitoes in 20 states across the nation.

Nature reported:

On 3 November, the agency told biotechnology start-up MosquitoMate that it could release the bacterium Wolbachia pipientis into the environment as a tool against the Asian tiger mosquito (Aedes albopictus). Lab-reared mosquitoes will deliver the bacterium to wild mosquito populations.

The decision — which the EPA has not formally announced — allows the company, which is based in Lexington, Kentucky, to release the bacteria-infected mosquitoes in 20 US states and Washington DC.

The goal is to have MosquitoMate release the Wolbachia-infected A. albopictus male mosquitoes into the wild to mate with wild females in the hopes that the fertilized eggs do not hatch due to faulty paternal chromosomes. As with all mosquitoes, the laboratory grown male mosquitoes do not bite.  MosquitoMate believes that over time the infected males will help shrink the population of  A. albopictus mosquitoes.

Stephen Dobson, an entomologist at the University of Kentucky in Lexington and founder of MosquitoMate, told Nature that other species of mosquito and other insects are not harmed by the release of the lab mosquitoes. Dobson also stated that MosquitoMate plans to begin selling the mosquitoes locally in Lexington, Kentucky and then from there expand to nearby cities.

The EPA’s decision came after the US Food and Drug Administration approved the release of genetically engineered mosquitoes designed to prevent the spread of the Zika virus. The FDA’s approval was in relation to a field test of genetically modified mosquitoes engineered by the British biotechnology company Oxitec.

Oxitec is the same company involved in a controversial vote in the Florida Keys during the 2016 Election. In that vote, residents of the Key Haven voted against the release of the mosquitoes in their community. However, shortly after, the trials were approved for a different location in the Keys. Despite the approval, opposition to the controversial project has not ceased. In late November 2016, Health News Floridareported that a coalition of groups, including the Center for Food Safety and the Florida Keys Environmental Coalition, have filed a 60-day notice of intent to sue the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Earlier this year the Houston Chronicle reported that Oxitec is working on a deal with Harris County officials to release GE mosquitoes in the Houston area. Oxitec is attempting to sway Houston officials by stating that their product has a nearly 100% success rate. Gizmodo reported:

The company claims that trials in Brazil, Panama and the Cayman Islands have reduced mosquito populations by 90%, calling the success “an unprecedented level” of human control over nature. (The World Health Organization, for it’s [sic]part, has stated that while the technology “has demonstrated the ability to reduce the [mosquito] populations in small-scale field trials” there is still “an absence of data on epidemiological impact.”)

Interestingly, in October 2017, the FDA made another announcement which clarifies that “mosquito-related products intended to function as pesticides” are not “drugs” under the Federal Food, Drug, & Cosmetic Act, and “will be regulated by the EPA under the Federal Insecticide Act.” This decision led to the November announce from the EPA and now sets the stage for future experiments with genetically engineered mosquitoes.

Will the first site of genetically engineered mosquitoes be in Houston, the Florida Keys, or one of the newly approved 20 states? Time will tell. For now, it is important to express your thoughts and concerns to local officials. If this is happening in your area and you have concerns, do not sit around doing nothing, or only complain online. Take some type of action. Educate your neighbors and hold your public officials accountable.

Derrick Broze is an investigative journalist and liberty activist. He is the Lead Investigative Reporter forActivistPost.com and the founder of the TheConsciousResistance.com. Follow him on Twitter. Derrick is the author of three books: The Conscious Resistance: Reflections on Anarchy and Spirituality and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 1 and Finding Freedom in an Age of Confusion, Vol. 2

Featured image is from the author.

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EU Renews Use of Likely Carcinogenic Glyphosate Herbicide

November 28th, 2017 by Stephen Lendman

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: 

stephenlendman.org 

(Home – Stephen Lendman). 

Contact at [email protected].

Monsanto has been selling glyphosate to farmers since 1974 – under the trade name Roundup, used to kill weeds without killing crops.

It’s currently the most commonly used herbicide in America – sales today 100-fold greater than when first introduced.

In March 2015, the World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer classified glyphosate as “probably carcinogenic in humans” – based on epidemiological, animal, and in vitro studies.

In February 2016, a group of international scientists published a consensus statement – explaining the risks associated with increasing human exposure to glyphosate herbicides.

They noted its endocrine disruption in test tube and animal experiments studies.

Glyphosate residues are found in popular Western foods and drinks. Tests show most Americans have it in their urine. Any amount is unsafe.

In 2009, the International Endocrine Society warned of the dangers of chemicals that interact with, take the place of, or inhibit or stimulate the action of natural human hormones (endocrine disruptors – EDs).

Peer-reviewed research by international scientists show little doubt that glyphosate-based herbicides (GBHs) are endocrine disruptors, associated with a wide range of maladies, including cancer.

According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, glyphosate exposure is linked to cancer in humans. Yet no regulatory action in America or Europe has been taken to ban its use.

On Monday, EU member states approved its renewal for another five years – 18 nations in favor, nine opposed, one abstaining – 16 yes votes needed for approval.

Germany’s 11th hour U-turn in favor of renewal outweighed French and Italian opposition. The European Commission ignored the European Parliament’s demand to phase out glyphosate on farms by 2020, urging restriction on its use in the interim – including a ban on non-professional use in public parks and gardens.

Permitting unrestricted glyphosate use ignores the health hazard it poses. For years, Monsanto has been ghostwriting studies, bankrolling EU scientists to call the product safe.

Evidence proves otherwise. According to Adrian Bebb from Friends of the Earth Europe, commenting on the EU vote:

“Glyphosate damages nature, probably causes cancer, and props up an industrial farming system that is degrading the land we need to feed ourselves.”

“Today’s approval, even if only for five years, is a missed opportunity to get rid of this risky weedkiller and start to get farmers off the chemical treadmill.”

“Five more years of glyphosate will put our health and environment at risk, and is a major setback to more sustainable farming methods.”

When used as directed, glyphosate is harmful to human health, a risk too great to ignore.

VISIT MY NEW WEB SITE: stephenlendman.org (Home – Stephen Lendman). Contact at [email protected].

My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”

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