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Nefarious obstructions to scientific goals include both dishonorable and illegal activities.  Current laws, studies, and news reports reveal fraudulent concealment of hazardous waste, inappropriate influence by private corporate powers, and disinformation from corporate non-profit front groups and public relations firms.  These miscreant activities prevent and discourage science that is needed to avoid chemical injuries through reduced exposures, regulation of dangerous products, and assessment of liability. Full disclosure will allow objective scientific inquiry without corruption by conflicted interests.  Scientists may then advocate precautionary principles that will protect health and environment and allow long denied assistance and treatment for the chemically injured.

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The United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) stated in a 1991 Freedom of Information (FOIA) request,

“Hazardous waste is legally allowed to be recycled into pesticides as well as other commodities”

However, the EPA was unable to identify which pesticides or other commodities used hazardous waste in their products. [1] Fifteen years later these questions are still unanswered despite requests for production in civil lawsuits, subsequent FOIAs to various federal agencies, and despite the fact that some of the pesticides are now banned.  These chemicals continue to injure and disable millions of people of all ages yet information on their provenance, content and contaminants remains a fraudulently concealed secret.

According to the Texas Dept. of Health and Bureau of Radiation Control (BRC) a list of pesticide ingredients they reviewed are often contaminated with “technologically enhanced Naturally Occurring Radioactive Material (NORM)”.  Other indications of radiation in pesticides include the August 1991 legislative report, Agricultural and Rural Impacts of Uranium Recovery Activities in the South Texas Uranium District, principal investigator, Sarah Hana.  This report mentions radiation in pesticides and fertilizers as a confounding factor in discovering the environmental and health effects of uranium mining. [2] Additionally, the EPA “Special Project” to investigate heavy metal and radiation inclusions in Pesticides revealed a  memo from staffer, Amy Rispin, to Tina Levine, Ph.D.,  which stated,

“Marty Halper (with the radiation division)] indicated that it was possible that coal or petroleum products from certain naturally radioactive geological formations might themselves be radioactive.” [3]

Convicted corporate felons in the hazardous waste business have purchased nationwide pest control companies that apparently are being used to fraudulently conceal disposal of hazardous waste. [4] In Silent Spring”, Rachel Carson wrote about her primary fear,

“In this now universal contamination of the environment, chemicals are the sinister and little-recognized partners of radiation in changing the very nature of the world.” [5]

Inappropriate conflicts of interest obstruct scientific goals by suppressing and blocking publication of important information.  The current scandal regarding fluoridation of drinking water wherein Harvard study director, Chester Douglass, did not report a seven-fold increased risk from early fluoride exposures linked to osteosarcoma cancer in young boys, is but one example of scientific obstruction.  Eleven Environmental Protection Agency employee unions have called for an investigation and an immediate nationwide halt on drinking water fluoride programs. [6]

Corporate Public Relation firms have used propaganda effectively for selling new drugs, promoting anti-environmental pro industry views, as well as spreading ‘blame the victim’ views maligning the chemically injured and disabled together with their physicians.  In the Columbia Journalism Review article, “Bitter Pill”, author Trudy Lieberman states,

“as direct-to-consumer advertising has increased, delivering ever-higher ad revenues to the nation’s media. Instead of standing apart from the phenomenon and earning the public’s trust, the press too often is caught up in the same drug-industry marketing web that also ensnares doctors, academic researchers, even the FDA, leaving the public without a reliable watchdog.” [7]

Consistent attacks have been waged against the chemically injured as evidenced in the conflicts of interest in the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) Interagency Workgroup Draft Report on MCS.  The principal author/editor of this report, Dr. Frank Mitchell simultaneously served as advisor to anti- MCS/chemical injury industry front group, Environmental Sensitivities Research Institute (ESRI). [8] After years of denying the claims of chemical illness by Gulf War Veterans a new report has recognized these injuries.  Citing new scientific research on the effects of exposure to low levels of neurotoxins, the Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veterans’ Illnesses concludes in its draft report that

“a substantial proportion of Gulf War veterans are ill with multisymptom conditions not explained by wartime stress or psychiatric illness.” [9]

There have been several instances where corporate powers have attempted to block any assistance for those with chemical injuries.  One such incident was reported by Ann Campbell, M.D., chair, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities Task Force of New Mexico, when industry front groups lobbied the New Mexico legislature against recognition and assistance for persons with Multiple Chemical Sensitivities as well as publishing an opinion editorial in two newspapers that criticized the New Mexico legislature for assisting the MCS population. [10]

When secrets involving the contents of chemicals as well as studies that illustrate chemical injuries are kept from scientific investigators the task of discovering causal links and cures for injuries becomes all but impossible. 

In order to remove nefarious obstacles to scientific goals several actions must take place:

  1. Repeal of provisions that encourage “recycling” of hazardous materials and radiation into pesticides and other consumer products and which reward bad actors.  Failure to ban this practice prevents the elimination of toxic products and allows cheap and easy disposal of hazardous waste, while hiding the identity and liability of the corporations who are responsible for contamination and injuries. [11]
  2. Repeal of “Confidential Business Information” laws that prevent investigators from discovering the complete contents of pesticides and other toxic products as well as “inert” and active ingredient suppliers.  Modern reverse engineering allows disclosure of contents to all competitors; therefore information is only kept from investigators and victims of corporate injury.  Confidential Business Information laws prevent physicians, scientists and attorneys from learning the full truth about toxic products and those responsible for injuries.
  3. Prohibitions against conflicts of interest in scientific studies, on scientific and regulatory boards, and in educational settings.  Scientific investigation must be based on unbiased truth.  
  4. Potentially harmful products must be labeled to disclose all contents, including “inerts” or contaminates such as heavy metals and radiation, and all suppliers of the constituent product.  This provision embraces the Precautionary Principal that requires that action be taken when there is evidence of harm even if complete proof is not available. [12]

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Elizabeth M. T. O’Nan is director of Protect All Children’s Environment.

Notes

1. Environmental Protection Agency, Freedom of Information response to Rep. James Clark, Dec. 11, 1990, document number 10F8.

2. Hana, Sarah, report to the 72nd Legislature of the State of Texas, August 1991, “Agricultural and Rural Impacts of Uranium Recovery Activities in the South Texas Uranium district.

3. Environmental Protection Agency memo from Amy Rispin to Tina Levin, Ph.D, Registration Division, included with letter dated Nov. 9, 1992 to E.M.T. O’Nan de Iglesias.

4. Helm, Andrea, Green Line, June 1991, Vol. IV, No. 9, “EPA waste policy threatens health”.

5. Carson, Rachel, “Silent Spring”, 1962, Fawcett Crest Books.        

6. National Treasury Employees Union Chapter 280, EPA Union Press Release, August 19, 2005, EPA Unions Call for Nationwide Moratorium on Fluoridation, Congressional Hearing on Adverse Effects, Youth Cancer Cover Up

7. Lieberman, Trudy “Bitter Pill”, Columbia Journalism Review, July/August 2005. 

8. Wilkenfeld, Irene, Comments on Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry’s (ATSDR) Interagency Workgroup Draft Report on MCS, September 15, 1998.  

9. Research Advisory Committee on Gulf War Veteran’s Illnesses, 2004, Scientific Progress in Understanding Gulf War Veteran’s Illnesses: Report and Recommendations

10. McCambell, Ann, 2001, “Multiple Chemical SensitivitiesUnder Siege”, Townsend Letter for Doctors and Patients, issue 210.

11. Chapter 40 of the Code of Federal Regulations,  Part 261, Sections 261.2 and 261.6

12. Montegue, Peter. 2004, Fourteen Reasons for Precaution, Rachel’s Environment & Health News #791, May 13, 2004

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F. William Engdahl was interviewed for the Global Research News Hour radio program about his recent book, Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance. 

In the book, Engdahl outlines a weapon of war in the costume of furthering democratic rights and freedoms. Various case studies include the break-up of the Soviet Union, the break up of Yugoslavia, and the attempted overthrow of the Chinese State.

F. William Engdahl is an award-winning geopolitical analyst, strategic risk consultant, professor and lecturer. He has contributed to a number of international publications on political affairs and economics, including Asia Times, FinancialSense.com, The Real News, RT.com Op Edge and Foresight Magazine among others. He is a Research Associate with the Centre for Research on Globalization. His various books on geopolitics have been translated into 14 different languages.

An abbreviated version of this interview aired in May on the Global Research News Hour.

Transcript – GR interviews F. William Engdahl. May, 2018

Global Research: So we’re joined right now by F. William Engdahl. He is based in Germany. He is a prominent commentator and geopolitical analyst. And he is also the author of a recent book. Right in 2018, fresh off the press you might say! And the name of the book is Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance. So, F. William Engdahl, thank you very much for joining us!

While we’re talking about the subject of ‘fake democracy,’ we’re talking essentially about the new – er, not so new, but a weapon of warfare that’s being utilized by the imperial power that is the U.S. as a way of executing regime change in order to further their own imperial interests and I think that the way most people are accustomed to thinking about U.S. military power, their thinking about aggressive wars and pretexts built on self-defence against the ‘communists’ or the ‘terrorists’ or whatever. But we’re dealing… we seem to be dealing with a mechanism here that’s much more insidious. So do you want to maybe just sort of help us introduce this mechanism, and how far back it goes?

William Engdahl: The mechanism goes back – and the reason I decided to dedicate an entire book to this … in the degree of calculation and diabolical mechanisms that are employed – it’s often very, very poorly understood especially when countries that are – the country that is the target of these mechanisms.

It came out of a project proposed during the Reagan Administration in 1983 by Reagan’s CIA Director William Casey- Bill Casey, and at that time the CIA was under the spotlight in Senate hearings and exposés around the world, the revelations by CIA whistle-blowers like Mr. Marchetti or others, and for their involvement in the Pinochet coup in Chile, for the Iranian toppling of Mossadeq in the fifties and … all that was beginning to come out and it was having huge negative effects, and Casey proposed doing what the CIA does but doing it privately, and that resulted in creation of something by U.S. Congress called the National Endowment for Democracy. And the name is very deliberately chosen. It’s a linguistic manipulation, if you will. Seems (to) sound like the National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts…It sounds very philanthropic.

In reality, this is a CIA directed, U.S. Intelligence community directed operation using Non-Governmental Organizations, in a coherent way, I call them ‘fake democracy’ NGOs and even give a better description in the actual book itself. And I detail which NGOs are used for that.

The monies come from U.S. government or from certain private foundations who seem to have unlimited funds and seem to be very closely connected to the State Department and the Intelligence community, and they have systematically targeted nation after nation to topple regimes that are not friendly to the Washington agenda.

GR: As I understand it we’re kind of talking about what I think of as a Trojan Horse, except instead of a wooden horse full of soldiers that’s being sent to the target country, here we’re talking about, well, like you say these human rights and democracy furthering organizations that are undermining the sovereign authority of the country.

WE: The way it works is – very valid one, I agree – the first step occasion that these U.S. government directed fake democracies NGOs came with Poland, with the Solidarność movement, where the U.S. government through these NGOs like the National Endowment for Democracy, the AFL-CIO connected… of the NED and others, they funneled millions of dollars, U.S. taxpayer dollars, into Lech Walesa’s Solidarność and created mass protests on the streets in Poland at a point where the communist government was simply powerless to intervene, among other reasons because, unbeknownst to most people, the Polish Pope John Paul II … and he met with Ronald Reagan and entered into a secret agreement, and this was later confirmed by his – Reagan’s National Security Advisor – a secret agreement to bring down the communist regime in Poland, and they did that very successfully.

And just to give you an idea, they – once they brought down the regime, the U.S. brought in its economic shock troops in the form of Harvard economists Jeffrey Sachs in his famous, or infamous shock theory. What they did was to demand the Polish – the communist, everyone was under State control – that they immediately privatize everything, that they free up the zloty against the dollar so the zloty fell like a stone. And then if you suddenly had dollar assets, like Western investors who were on the inside of the scheme did, you could buy up some of the Crown Jewels of the Polish economy for pennies on the dollar. And the losers in this were the Polish people who – unemployment exploded, just a time of incredible misery, and this is basically the model, that was then turned in 1989 to three major communist countries at the same time and this is all under George Herbert Walker Bush – George Bush Sr. – from the CIA Director who was very much in the middle of these so-called fake democracy NGOs. And they targeted the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and the People’s Republic of China, all three simultaneously in 1989.

In the case of the Soviet Union, they managed to bring in a CIA asset by the name of Boris Yeltsin, and use Yeltsin to simply what I call in the book the Rape of Russia – to literally steal and rob from the Russian State and the Russian people almost anything of value they could get their k leptocratic hands on. And, in the case of Yugoslavia, it led – it was the ignition that led to the explosion of a civil war in Yugoslavia between Croatia, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Serbia … and completely destroyed that country.

In the case of China, the Chinese … somehow managed to get wind of what was going on and kicked out certain NGO operatives that were connected (to) the U.S. State Department and the U.S. Ambassador at that time people like James Lilley who was a former CIA crony (under) George Bush Sr., no accident that he was Ambassador at that time. And of course, in my estimation running the Tiananmen Square destabilization on the ground in Beijing.

By the way, one thing that I document quite in detail in the book, and people may be shocked by this: there was never a student massacre by the People’s Liberation Army in Tiananmen Square in June of 1989. That was fabricated by the U.S. Ambassador James Lilley and by the Western media … This gives you an idea of how these fake democracy NGOs…

GR: When we talk about fake democracies, it all seems very benign at first, and what we’re finding is that this covert funding that’s going to promote certain candidates or certain movements, and that has the appearance of making the target government that the U.S. figures are looking to overthrow, giving them a bad image both in the eyes of the domestic population and in the eyes of the wider world. Is it possible to detail some of the money flows? How does it translate on the ground?

WE: How it translates on the ground is the money goes to all sorts of – the means are just innumerable. All sorts of NGOs in target countries that prop up out of thin air, and then, you know, ‘democracy for Ukraine’ or ‘freedom for Iran’ … but they’re simply financed by U.S. government money, or indirectly by think tanks … following the money.

And – this is – we’re talking about billions of dollars – what they do is they refine the sort of leaders and, again, in the period of the Ukraine colour revolution, the so-called Orange Revolution 2003, 2004 and also in Georgia next door, they begin focusing on election processes and having poll watchers that they train – biased incredulous poll watchers…not neutral poll watchers from international organizations, but fake poll watchers. And then coordinating with embedded media like CNN or BBC to put out a certain message, and then they use other techniques.

There’s an organization that did the successful overthrow of Milosevic after 2000 in Yugoslavia and Serbia, called Otpor, trained by U.S. Intelligence. And that later transformed itself into a professional organization keeping the cover of this successful Serbian regime change organization but they call CANVAS, C-A-N-V-A-S, and the same people are involved. They’re very secretive about where they get their funding from but it’s clear that it’s coordinated with the U.S. State Department’s Intelligence.

And what they do, they serve as the logistics training centre, the people on the ground for the U.S. government in – usually through the Embassy – begin recruiting student activists usually, they’re the most effective, and bringing them into training systems, usually in Belgrade or elsewhere, sometimes they leave the country. And they’re trained in techniques of non-violence according to textbook regime shops – Albert Einstein Institution – non-violence is a method of warfare… and they’re trained in techniques, very much similar to what we see going on today in Armenia. But they’re trained in techniques to discredit the power and the authority of authoritarian governments, or governments who try to resist mass protests, as many governments will do. Certainly you can imagine the U.S. government …it would stop at nothing to crush certain dissent.

The techniques that are – have been refined in facebook and twitter. For example, in the Arab Spring, which was a NGO operation backed by the U.S. government when Hillary Clinton was Secretary of State, to change the map of the Middle East and bring U.S. military control of the key oil and gas regions of the world outside of Russia and the Russian Federation under direct U.S. military control, that process is ongoing to this day.

The techniques are constantly being refined. The RAND corporation, research and development corporation as detailed in the book, Manifest Destiny, is developing techniques they call ‘swarming.’ And they did a study of all or most of the major world brilliant military commanders from Alexander the Great to Genghis Khan, Napoleon, and others, and their military tactics. They identified how to … with the doctrine of ‘swarming’ as in a swarm of bees…And then they applied this to these mass protests, and using GPS satellite communication with certain key leaders in these protests, they used twitter and facebook to communicate with groups of protesters that have been prudent for each other and normalized. And then their tactics will be protest- and-run, protest-and-run, regroup in different parts of the city and then keep the government completely off guard, keep the military or the security police off guard, so that the power of the State looks like it’s impotent. And that begins to undermine authority.

GR: William, I want to try to get…

WE: I should add that in most cases, and certainly this is the case in Ukraine in 2014.

GR: I want to make sure a specific distinction here.

WE: Yes?

GR: I mean, with these popular mobilizations, we’re not talking about a homogeneous group of people who are all being paid off by the National Endowment for Democracy. There are a lot of sincere people who are being caught up in all of this. It’s just that these …well funded mechanisms are just so effective at reaching out to people, but a lot of the people who are being brought in are, they’re rather sincere in their convictions. I mean, is that not true? Is that not accurate? I mean we’re not just talking about every activist … getting a pay cheque.

WE: Exactly! Crucial point about this, and I’m glad you brought it up, is that the…no no no no, the key leaders that steer the thing, and for most of the protesters, most of them are as you say innocent and want more freedom – and who doesn’t want individual freedom and democracy being all good things, and maybe your nation’s economy is really down and you think well the Western goods are prosperous. If we go along with the West we’ll get all these American quality of life and so forth, which never happens…

Let’s take the example of Egypt… and there you had the case of certain key organizations, umbrella organizations … that mobilized millions of students. I know some are – have spoken to me, some of the students who were in those protests, and they deeply believed that they were fighting for democracy and human rights. And that, without that it doesn’t work. It’s not convincing. So that’s an essential element of it.

But what most of the students didn’t realize is that behind the scenes were front organizations of a political terrorist cult, and I use that term very precisely, called the Muslim Brotherhood, which was created in Egypt by British Intelligence in the 1920s. And in the time of the Arab Spring and backed by the Hillary Clinton State Department as the alternative to governments like Mubarak or Libya’s Gaddafi, or Ben Ali in Tunisia. And so the demonstrations spread. Were successful. There was collusion on elements of the Egyptian military to – who were pressured by the Pentagon to not support Mubarak at a critical moment. But, once Mubarak stepped down, the Muslim Brotherhood and the U.S. government moved to have early elections, and the only organized force that was prepared to win early elections was the Muslim Brotherhood. And that’s where you got Mohammed Morsi and the government controlled by the Muslim Brotherhood and supported by the U.S. State Department and the CIA which had been working, collaborating in cahoots with the Muslim Brotherhood since the early 1950s.

So in this, I document in some detail in an earlier book of mine called The Lost Hegemon: Whom the Gods would Destroy, which details the connection between the Muslim Brotherhood and the CIA.

In any event, the students were suddenly completely left in the lurch by Washington and the U.S. government, because their agenda was to bring in this political terrorist organization called the Muslim Brotherhood and impose a U.S. controlled regime on the country.

GR: Could you talk about the importance of some of these economic arrangements – the IMF. Because it seems like a consistent element in all successful coloured revolutions is the willingness of the favoured political order to jump on board with IMF style reforms. I mean, are we talking about a kind of like a one-two – first you get the revolution and then you cement it with an IMF style arrangement?

WE: Well, it works both ways actually. I think that uh, let’s take the case Poland. In the case of Poland they had borrowed heavily in the dollar markets to finance the economic shortages and so forth, because it was a very grim time economically for Warsaw Pact countries at the end of the 1980s. And at a certain point they were cut off from Western credits – Western private bank credits – unless they would agree, the government would need to submit to IMF conditionalities, and that set the trap.

And this was also the case in Yugoslavia, where a similar situation ensued and the IMF conditionalities were used to create the economic tensions between different parts of Yugoslavia – different ethnic groups in Yugoslavia to create the … And then under Bush Senior, the U.S. Congress passed a law that forced the break-up of Yugoslavia if they wanted to receive any further U.S. credits.

So the IMF was used, in the case of the Russian Federation, the IMF was brought in by the Bush Administration in 1990 as the <inaudible> of the economic transformation order …part of the economic transformation of the former Soviet Union. And they would play an instrumental role in forcing – Boris Yeltsin was the willing actor in this – but forcing the privatization of State assets and selling them off on the world market at pennies on the dollar. And that’s the crucial role of the IMF in all of this.

GR: In terms of financing these revolutions, how much of that funding is coming from, you know, authorized by Congress versus off-the-book financing, and where is the off-the-book financing coming from?

WE: [Chuckle] That would be a little difficult because I… certain … I am hesitant to name on the air, but there are private foundations. If you go into the book you find them amply documented with footnotes and sources. But there are private foundations that work in connection with the U.S. government finance, the National Endowment for Democracy, the NED. And the breakdown of that is very difficult simply because they don’t disclose in an open and honest way fully what they’re financing. It’s a lot of covert fund transfers from offshore entities and so forth. So, it’s very difficult to trace.

GR: Can you speak to any funding sources that we know about? For example, we’ve heard about Iran-Contra, where they were able to uh, further illegal uh, shipments. The arms for hostages deal where they were able to utilize drug networks to finance the Contras in Nicaragua – some interesting things happening there currently. You also mention in the book about gold that had belonged to the Japanese during the war, and that was then – ended up in the Phillipines. So I was wondering if you could speak to some of those source – I mean we may not have the exact breakdown but we do know that some of that money ended up coming from some of these off-the-book sources and entering into these… money-laundering and what not.

WE: Well the destruction of the Soviet Union and the rape of Russia, the things you mention, it wasn’t Japanese gold, it was gold that the Japanese occupation army during World War II stole from as it traveled from Mongolia, from Indonesia and other countries that they occupied … And it was buried deep caves in the Philippines in the event Japan would lose the war. The Emperor’s family was the only ones – they were the only ones privy to the locations, until Ferdinand Marcos, an asset of the CIA, he was President of the Philippines – a dictator – back in the 1980s, managed to uncover some of the sites. He got hold of one of the … of the Japanese Army, and they were digging some of these places, and eventually uncovered the stolen gold.

Well, he made a mistake in using another CIA asset named Adnan Khashoggi, a Saudi Arabian a rms dealer, ostensibly the richest man in the world at that time. Adnan Khashoggi is used by Marcos to sell the Japanese gold onto the world market…and Adnan Khashoggi took his friend George Herbert Walker Bush, one of the CIA members in the agency, U.S. government, and they destabilized and toppled the Marcos regime. So they used that Philippine gold – the Marcos gold – as collateral to create derivatives that were used to nominally back up the buying up of the Russian State assets by certain so-called Russian oligarchs, who laundered the money through Western banks in Switzerland and the Jersey Islands offshore in Ukraine, other places. And all of that was done under the supervision of the CIA. Edmond Safra’s Bank was one of the banks involved as well.

GR: It’s not as if every time there’s a popular mobilization that there isn’t a genuine effort at revolutionary pressure, but I think that – I mean I’ve participated in popular mobilizations myself…

WE: As have I! [laughter]

GR: Since there are people who do legitimately want to overthrow an oppressive government, an oppressive regime, versus those that are stage-managed by these U.S. covert sources…Is there a way that we can distinguish between a genuine and a fake democracy revolution?

WE: It’s sometimes very difficult. For example the ongoing protests in Yerevan and Armenia. Armenia is a former Soviet – part of the Soviet Union, as well, and is a member of the Russian-led Eurasian Economic Union with the countries with Belarus, Russia, Kazakhstan and others. And a very strategic country for the security of Russia.

Now the protests that have broken out a couple of weeks ago in Armenia are aimed at closing – successfully closing the resignation of Serzh Sargsyan who – former president for the last decade – who had been elected by the Parliament … As prime minister and back after a new law was introduced which transferred all of the presidential powers to lead into the prime minister. So the mass protests have been focused on the fact that Sargsyan was simply playing a trick to become defacto dictator for life, a little bit like a reverse play on the Erdogan operation in Turkey where the powers devolved from prime minister which Erdogan was, to president which he is now. It went the other way in Armenia.

Now, the popular opposition … Nikol Pashinyan, a former journalist, is the only candidate to replace Sargsyan as prime minister. Sargsyan resigned and announced that “I was wrong, and Pashinyan was right.” What we don’t know, and this is very fine line…yes, the same U.S. government NGOs and private foundations that work with those U.S. government NGOs or the National Endowment for Democracy, are very active in Armenia and have been active in Armenia, on all the kinds of financing operations that have been connected with coloured revolutions in the past. This time, the opposition leader, Pashinyan, goes out of his way to stress that he’s not against Armenia’s membership in the Eurasian Economic Union or against Russia, that he’s against the corruption of the Sargsyan – the former government, and the fact that the Armenian economy is in such bad shape.

So, there are genuine grievances that the population has, but the point is the U.S. State Department is very much on the scene there in telephone contact with Pashinyan, and all the indications are it hasn’t been at its initiation a coloured revolution. The U.S. State Department the intelligence agencies are for sure trying to draw up the best way to take advantage of that in Azerbaijan, the … conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, that … into a shooting conflict a year and a half ago. Parliamentarians from Azerbaijan are saying let’s take advantage of this chaos in Armenia and retake Nagorno-Karabakh which is majority Armenian ethnic population. It seceded in 1991 from Azerbaijan and has been contested by it. A truce agreement between both countries upsets it. A very uneasy truce. So, in some cases, it’s a very difficult distinction.

Let’s take another example. There is a series of student-led protests in Hong Kong, which used to be a British colony as of about 1989. 1999 rather. And those protests were given the name in the media as the ‘umbrella revolution,’ because umbrellas were used by the students who… in it as a symbol. Later, it came out that they were of course protesting the heavy-handed , anti-democratic measures of Beijing to control the political process in Hong Kong. It’s reverted to China after the British left in ’99. And initially it wasn’t clear if that was a genuine student protest or not. It later became clear that the Vice President of the National Endowment for Democracy was direct on the scene orchestrating the events in Hong Kong against the Beijing government, who embarrassed Beijing.

So, you have to look at these things sometimes in great detail, and like I say, in the case of Armenia, I would say the jury’s still out. My own sense is that it is being manipulated in the direction of a coloured revolution by the U.S. government’s State Department, Intelligence Agency, but it’s not one hundred per cent clear yet.

GR: There was the revolution, or U.S. interference in Russia and the looting of Russia throughout the 1990s. Yeltsin was eventually removed and Vladimir Putin came in and since Vladimir Putin has arrived, I think the future of anymore of this kind of U.S. intervention within Russia seems to be very uh, dim, as is the case, it seems to me in China. Again as you mention, that revolution – that fake democratic revolution as you put it, it does not seem to have prevailed. So what are your thoughts about the future of this mode of … this fake democratic … mechanism of warfare. Are the other states catching on? Are they going to be able to defend themselves from this? Are they learning their lessons?

WE: Yes and no I would say. Russia has certainly learned its lesson, and the Russian security services are quite sophisticated. They began figuring out the pattern of Ukraine, Georgia, the attempted pattern in Belarus…and they passed a bill in the Duma called the Law Against Undesirable NGOs, which various NGOs screamed and hollered about. They take it as trying to re-install the Soviet Union… China has made a similar crack-down on the NGOs, and other countries – smaller countries, I would say Armenia is a good example, are less experienced in this kind of thing, and therefore less prepared to deal with it in an effective way. So it’s very uneven.

It’s very uneven and these are highly insidious operations where you have some of the NGOs popping up and calling for democracy and more freedom for whatever in some country whether it be Egypt or whatever. And then it’s picked up by select Western media like CNN or BBC, and – as a genuine grassroots movement, and the focus on the dictatorial regimes go mostly – regimes don’t want to be given bad press – as dictatorial, if they can avoid it. So, sometimes they’re thrown off guard by that kind of thing. It’s done in a very calculated way.

Recall the Trump campaign he said, “The time is over when America needs to intervene (in) other country’s affairs” – secrecy demands and so forth. And some people thought, “Oh! This is an end to the coloured revolutions by Washington.” Well, it’s been in no way, shape or form the end of that from Washington. There have been numerous attacks since Trump has been in office. That’s continually what’s being done on a lower profile.

So I would urge your listeners to look at the book in detail where I go into all this, and develop it historically. And you can get a much better sense. I think one of the most important questions of warfare that has been developed by any NATO country post 1945 period.

GR: Well, I agree. It’s definitely worth the read and the name of that book again is Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance, and it was authored by our featured guest, F. William Engdahl. So, thank you very much for sharing these perspectives with us. It’s very important to understand.

WE: Well, thank you! And one thing if I might mention it before we close, is if listeners go onto my website williamengdahl.com they can click and receive a free regular geopolitical newsletter to get my sense of some of these topics that we’ve covered today in the interview, and also follow my writings and interviews on all of these subjects.


Title: Manifest Destiny: Democracy as Cognitive Dissonance

Author: F. William Engdahl

Publisher: mine.books (March 2, 2018)

ISBN-10: 3981723732

ISBN-13: 978-3981723731

George Orwell’s famous novel, 1984, is a masterful fictional account of a state which imposes cognitive dissonance on its citizens to control their perception of reality. It is summed up in the statement, “War is Peace; Freedom is slavery; Ignorance is strength.”

The story of this book, Manifest Destiny, is an account of how agencies of US intelligence including the CIA and State Department, in collaboration with private “democracy” NGOs, developed and refined techniques of Orwellian doublethink or cognitive dissonance to create a series of regime changes around the world that sounded noble, democratic, but in reality were not.

William Engdahl describes the background beginning in the 1980’s with Reagan’s CIA Director leading to creation of a series of private NGO’s to covertly manipulate aspirations for freedom and democracy from Poland and other communist countries in the late 1980’s, to the Soviet Union to Yugoslavia and China. The book details the refinement of what came to be called Color Revolutions by the early years of this century in Ukraine, Georgia and later with the US-orchestrated Arab Spring. It’s an account of how elite circles in the USA and Europe along with their think tanks refined methods to impose a new tyranny on countries from Ukraine to Egypt to Libya and beyond. The aim was to use democratic aspirations of ordinary people, often youth, to topple regimes resisting what David Rockefeller once called a One World Government, a global corporate tyranny. This is an almost incredible chronicle of how select NGOS speak about freedom, human rights, democracy in order to bring war, violence and terror. The book is a must read for anyone wanting to truly understand world events of the past three decades or more.

Click here to order.

Hijacked Democracy: Normalised Instability in Australia

August 24th, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

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You can sense Australian politicians – or at least a good number of them – fuming at being cobbled together with the counterparts of other states deemed less worthy of the tag of “stable”.  Take, for instance, entertaining Italy, tenaciously temporary about its leaders. 

“We said,” reflected a rueful Senator Derryn Hinch of the Justice Party, “‘how often they change their governments, how often they changed their leaders, what a stupid country and how irresponsible.”  

The Italy of the antipodes (without the colour); a state so obsessed with leadership change that it requires a session of bloodletting every two years or less.  This is a country incapable of keeping stable governments, a state where the party system holds true over democratic instincts.  The pack mentality of committing parricide has come to the fore again, with Malcolm Turnbull facing the last hours of his prime ministership.

Turnbull has fought, setting his own expectations before the coup plotters: show that there is enough support for a new leader. Forty-three signatures were required, thereby outing the plotters.  (At this writing, the forty-third signature has been obtained.)  For such anti-Turnbull figures as Senator Eric Abetz, this was simply poor form: how dare the Australian prime minister ask who was being disloyal?

The other demand from Turnbull was getting advice from the Solicitor General on the eligibility of his executioner-in-chief Peter Dutton to continue to sit in parliament. The issue there is whether Dutton has benefitted from the commonwealth in a way that is in conflict with his duties as a parliamentarian.  That advice, needless to say, has been unequivocal.  Only the High Court could rule on that with any certainty.

For these political creatures, the party ballot comes before the electoral vote, a situation that has an odd echo of the Holy Roman Empire rather than a modern democracy.  This, in the absence of wars (at least internal ones), disruptions to the local currency, and a collapse of the financial system, suggests a certain suicidal eccentricity on the part of Australian politicians.

It has been a disastrous sequence of events for that unfortunate system known as Australian democracy.  As it lurches to the next faction (the Founding Fathers in the United States had much to say about those, establishing a Republican system that would prevent this nonsense), we face the prospect of the executive being decapitated yet again.  The genius of the US example, at least, was to keep the executive out of Congress’s way, an effort to make sure that checks and balances prevailed in the unruly viper’s nest of politics.

The rhetorical sequences are always the same when it comes to slaughtering an elected leader in the party room, strummed out to the same tedious instrumental fashion.  The person who wins praises the predecessor having even as the wounds are fresh; the defeated party promises no vengeance, and bears no ill-feeling.  Labor’s Kevin Rudd, on failing to beat Julia Gillard, the same individual who lay in the party knives into him: “I bear no malice; I bear no grudges” or words to that effect.  From the ousted Liberal leader Tony Abbott to Malcolm Turnbull: “There will be no sniping, no wrecking, no undermining.”

Now, the round robin word cycle replays itself before the heralded execution of yet another Australian prime minister.  We are told that it has been a good government with sound policy (no mention of defeats in the Senate of key policy positions are mentioned).  There have been good achievements, evidently so profoundly effective as to warrant an assault on the leader.

In the distance are the drum banging shock jocks, populist town criers in the employ of the Murdoch press and associated lobbies ever keen to jockey for positions.  Sky News has become a fox hole of determination against Turnbull.  The Australian has become a front line position of assault.  Peta Credlin, Abbott’s long time iron maiden advisor and bull ram, has been lobbing grenades into the Turnbull camp with a satanic fury.

The party of contenders, bickerers and potential stealers is getting crowded.  Turnbull might take some heart from this: a larger field limits the options and minimise Dutton’s chances.  Treasurer Scott Morrison has nominated; foreign minister Julie Bishop is also considering.  The former Nationals leader and permanent media surfer Barnaby Joyce is giving Turnbull advice to stand in the second ballot as a matter of moral duty.  Turnbull, however, does not intend to contest the ballot, thereby leaving the way open to any of the three.

Outside the Liberal Party, the Labor Party is breathing heavily, aroused by the prospects of snatching power.

“It is now clear that the Liberals cannot provide the leadership that the Australian people deserve,” chortled Senator Penny Wong.  “The only party capable of delivering that government and governing for all Australians is the Australian Labor Party.”

The Greens leader, Senator Richard Di Natale felt sour.

“It’s a disgrace. It’s utterly shameful.  We haven’t had a stable government in this country for a decade now. I’ve got a 10-year-old boy, he’s seen a half a dozen different prime ministers.”

It is such faffing indulgence that costs democracies dearly, lending a helping hand to authoritarian tendencies while unmasking the true power dynamic at play in the Westminster system.  It has also crowned the populist barkers and howlers, letting Murdoch know how close he is to the centre of that bubble known as Canberra.  Turnbull would have been best served to take the matter to the Governor-General, declared the situation untenable and called for fresh elections.

Instead, we bear witness to a puerile, party game, short-termed, governed by the crudest of self-interest and a desperate desire to preserve seats.  It has let the desire for vengeance and the streak of cowardice prevail over the functions of presentation. (Exeunt the Australian voter!)  Turnbull has delayed and aggravated his would-be executioners, but the time has arrived.

With each orchestrated fall comes the reckoning about possible change.  Should there be fixed four-year terms of parliament?  One way of saving the system might be to save the executive, and the only way to save the executive from the trivial, poll-driven mutilations of party hacks will be for Australia to become a republic of some sort – or at least one where the executive has a separate political line free from severance.  But that would minimise the all-powerful position political parties have in Australia.

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

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Video. Propaganda and the Globalization of War

August 23rd, 2018 by Prof Michel Chossudovsky

Professor Michel Chossudovsky has been tracking and analyzing the trajectory of U.S. military planning for the last two decades and has been at the forefront of dissecting the propaganda describing these projects as ‘self defense’ or a ‘humanitarian intervention.’

In June of 2018 he delivered a speech to the Regina Peace Council outlining his research and appealing for the re-invigoration of an anti-war movement that would confront what he considers to be a hegemonic project of world conquest, orchestrated by the U.S. and its Western allies.

“We’re dealing with a diabolical agenda where the United States is intervening under the banner of ‘Responsibility to Protect’ or ‘Global War on Terrorism.’ In other words it is providing a legitimacy to a war of aggression, or a sequence of wars of aggression. And the public is led to believe somehow that these are humanitarian undertakings.”

Video: War Propaganda by Prof. Michel Chossudovsky

Excerpt from his June 2018 speech to the Regina Peace Council, Regina, Sask. focussing on War Propaganda. (7′.58″). (Scroll down for the complete video of presentation below)

War Propaganda

Complete presentation (1:12) entitled:

“The Globalization of War: Threatening Russia, China, Iran and North Korea”

Video produced by Paul Graham


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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On Aug 15, the popular British tabloid Daily Mail “explained” to the British public the Morandi Bridge disaster in one of its usually longish, cliché-dominated and gossipy stories as follows:

Are the 39 dead in Genoa paying the price of years of collusion between Italian officials and mafia? See this.

The article is instructive because it could be one of the first popular examples of a free-for-all frenzy, an international media campaign launched to undermine Italy and in particular its National Unity government (Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte) that is enjoying an enthusiastic support in its effort to re-establish in practice and in principle the idea of independence and National Sovereignty, and to free Italy from the international financial potentates emanating from Wall Street and the city of London.

Like its more arrogant (and equally superficial) relative,  The Economist, famous for targeting Aldo Moro just before his kidnapping and assassination, the Daily Mail knows the level of its readers and sticks to it. What do they know about Italy? Well, they know the Mafia! So, what happened in Genoa it’s clear:

Many Italians blame organised crime. Planning for the Morandi Bridge, along the route connecting Italy with France, began in the early 1960s, and it opened in 1967.

Although there’s no evidence of any criminal involvement in its construction, Italy’s First Republic, from 1948-1992, was infamous for the collusion between Christian Democrats and organised crime.

Pathetic, but not surprising. Besides the many unanswered questions on how the collapse happened, the British tabloid does not realize that:

1) what both, the Italian people and the government have identified as the culprit is the Benetton Family, the financially ravenous and fashionable local oligarchs who are connected to the overlord of the city. The Benetton became rich first, buying “chip” (cheap), very chip… zero money down, and then cannibalizing the public wealth created by generations of workers and entrepreneurs. In particular the Autostrade per l’Italia, the Highways. The magic of Privatization!

2) The basic Italian infrastructures, what Italy still lives on, are the result of the first two decades of the First Republic.

If one will make the effort to read the Daily Mail story, the “operation” being launched will appear quite clearly. It is likely that many other journalistic “killers” will follow in the coming days – all looking for the reward to be granted to those who will find the most effective angle to kneecap and destabilize the present government. Thr racket of the Financial “Rating”s – Finch, S&P, Moody’s, etc — will certainly follow.

Screenshot, Fashion United UK

So, what is the “Operation”?

To understand the operation, follow the money trail …. Or better, follow the media fed by “big money”.

The campaign to declare Italy a “failed state” has already began.

Let’s see what the Puppet-masters of the RATINGS will come out with. One has the impression that, in order to destabilize this “unacceptable” national unity government, powerful external potentates are ready to pull the plug on any possible breakable infrastructure in Italy.

And there are many, many infrastructures on the verge of breaking. And yet, it is exactly these potentates that have been the ultimate looters, the top predators in the financial food chain. It is these potentates that imposed the deranged criminality known as PRIVATIZATION.

The great infrastructures that Italy acquired after WWII are the result of the work of millions of Italians who worked hard in a political and governmental framework that guaranteed a minimum of support for real economy and real labor. All the great infrastructures that Italy acquired after the destruction of the world war, all the common wealth that, not only reconstructed Italy, but lifted the country from a mostly agriculture state with few real modern communications and industrial assets into one of the biggest world industrial nations — all this was achieved by the Italians MOSTLY in the 1950s and ‘6os.

This was the time of the so-called ECONOMIC MIRACLE, of a lira that was sought after everywhere – better than gold. This was the Italy of Enrico Mattei whose strategy almost uprooted the organized backwardness of the Italian South and almost deleted the word Mafia from the dictionary … before being cowardly killed by the great potentates that decided that progress & prosperity for Italy were unacceptable.

The country kept going, survived,for a long time with the infrastructural wealth created in the 50s and 60s, and the economic momentum continued slower and slower, almost as by inertia, into the 70s and the 80s. But the qualitative paradigmatic jump remained that of the labor, entrepreneurs, government leaders of those first two decades.

After that … le deluge! I.e. the work and the national wealth accumulated after the war was progressively sacrificed to the altar of the “P” word: PRIVATIZATION! The great potentates invested in one thing: the ideology, the brainwashing of PRIVATIZATION. Colleges (especially the departments of Economy), the media, the culture and the intellectual fashion were dominated by the idea that what millions of people had worked for had to be given away to “privates” who were controlled by these potentates.

It was a scurrilous process of corruption, thievery and looting — and any leader who tried to stop it was accused of corruption, was eliminated or wasscandalized by the well-financed, well-oiled, and super-corrupted “discrediting machine” built EXACTLY FOR THIS PURPOSE.

This was the real organized crime, the various mafias were the little piranhas and barracudas protected and cultivated by the top potentates of the city of London and Wall Street as a bottom feeders, as their pets, as a precious element of destabilization and social control.

Now we have reached the final point in this process, the organized and accelerated looting by the financial potentates have almost devoured the flesh and bone of the country — the physical ability of Italy to survive as a modern industrial country.

The enthusiastic support of the people for the present National Unity government represent a strong will of the country to fight back for its own life.

And this is UNACCEPTABLE for the potentates. The looting, misery and decay must continue to the end, without obstacles.

And here is for the Italians the fight to be fought to the end!

One shouldn’t be surprised if the specialists in destabilization, the economic killers employed by the potentates, have conceived the idea to precipitate Italy into chaos, accelerating the destruction of infrastructures that have been weakened by the ferocious looting without investments. Maybe they see this strategy as “just give it the last push”. Do they want to provoke more “accidents”, more “plausible spontaneous destruction”?

Certainly, after a local Italian gang working for the big global financial potentates— let’s say for the example the Benetton gang — has been granted the Italian highways (once the jewel of the Mattei’s vision), like a satrapy to exploit and loot to death, it is not difficult to engineer the last push and produce not one but hundred “accidents”.

Is this the war the Italians have to fight in order to regain what the previous generations created, and we have allowed to be dismantled? If so, this last assault against our national sovereignty, against our lives cannot but give any Italian the determination to make these arrogant potentates pay for the past and the present crimes.

The national infrastructures, the national wealth created by Italian labor and sacrifices must return to Italy, fair and square. The looters, from the bottom level of the local mafia lords, to the local oligarchs, all the way up to the financial establishment, – all this structure must be investigated, dismantled and punished!

Again, the labor of Italians will be able to produce wealth for every family. Infrastructures shall be rebuilt at the most advanced technological level. This means investments in industry and state of the art agriculture. This means employment, this means income worth of prosperous and optimistic families that look with great confidence and optimism to the future of their children. Not one penny for the financial mafia, Investments for the Progress of the People.

This is, by the way, is the only road to re-establish a real economy, a real process of cooperation with other European countries, as well as countries in other regions of the World:  The only way to really have peace and prosperity on the world.

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Former US Federal Election Commission chairman Bradley Smith explained “almost anything a candidate does can be interpreted as intended to ‘influence an election,’ from buying a good watch to make sure he (or she) gets to places on time, to getting a massage so that he (or she) feels fit for the campaign trail, to buying a new suit so that he (or she) looks good on a debate stage.”

He added that US election rules and standards are “murky about whether paying hush money to a mistress is a ‘campaign expense’ or a personal expense.” It’s certainly highly unlikely to swing an election for one candidate over another.

Long knives wielded by dark forces hostile to Trump are out to remove him from office for the wrong reasons – not the right ones, no legitimate ones ever used against a US president before.

Bill Clinton’s illicit sex with Monica Lewinsky, including in the Oval Office’s back study bathroom, then lying about his escapade, didn’t bring him down.

Numerous US presidents and wannabe ones had extramarital affairs – including Washington, Jefferson, Franklin Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower, Jack Kennedy, Lyndon Johnson and Bill Clinton, among others.

Little or nothing was said about their private lives while campaigning or throughout their tenure.

Trump’s sex life is his own business, no one else’s except his wife’s. It’s unrelated to affairs of state – only a crime when rape is committed.

On Tuesday, Trump’s former lawyer Michael Cohen admitted in court he was directed by DJT to make hush money payments to two of his paramours – believed to be porn star Stormy Daniels and Playboy model Karen McDougal.

 

Daily Mail, May 17, 2018

According to Cohen’s lawyer Lanny Davis, if hush money payments by his client on behalf of Trump “were a crime, then why wouldn’t they be a crime for” DJT?

Davis formerly served as Clinton White House special counsel, more recently as a lobbyist for notorious despots and predatory corporate clients. He lacks credibility on issues relating to Trump.

In Manhattan District Court, Cohen said payments to the women in question were made “in coordination with and at the direction of a candidate for federal office,” adding:

“I participated in this conduct, which on my part took place in Manhattan, for the principal purpose of influencing the (2016 presidential) election.”

Formal charges against Cohen haven’t been announced. He pleaded guilty to multiple counts of tax evasion and one count of bank fraud, along with admitting he made what he called illegal campaign contributions on behalf of Trump.

He struck a plea deal with federal prosecutors, cooperating with them against DJT to mitigate his sentence, likely saying what they wanted to hear to save his skin from many years in prison.

Reportedly he was warned if he goes on trial and is convicted, he’ll be locked up longterm and heavily fined.

He once bragged he’d “take a bullet” for Trump. Now he’s aiming the other way, including by secretly recording his conversations with DJT. One apparently discussed hush money payments to his paramours.

It’s unclear if payments criminally violated campaign finance rules. Trump’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani said “(t)here is no allegation of any wrongdoing against the president in the government’s charges against Mr. Cohen.”

Screenshot Reuters.com, August 21, 2018

On December 12, Federal District Court Judge William Pauley will formally sentence him – likely to months in prison and a small fine, not years behind bars and a much heavier one.

Giuliani downplayed the notion that he can harm Trump, saying he’s not a credible witness against DJT. “The deputy US attorney came out in a press conference and called him a liar.”

Reportedly he’s willing to cooperate with special counsel Mueller against the president. Whether and to what extent he’s able to harm Trump remains to be seen given that no evidence suggests he or his team were complicit with Russia to help him triumph over Hillary or in any other illegal or unethical way.

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Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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The Empire’s Greatest Trick and “Let Them Eat Cake”

August 23rd, 2018 by Philip A Farruggio

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In director Bryan Singer‘s fantastic 1995 film The Usual Suspects the bad guy in the film was being interviewed by investigators. They had no idea that he was the villain they were looking for. During the interview he made the greatest statement: “The devil’s greatest trick is making everyone believe he doesn’t exist.”

Since the devil has always been associated with evil deeds, so our US empire can wear that crown… or should I say horns. Part two of my title has to do with the mindset of all empires and the super rich who rule or profit from them. Before the French Revolution, so similar to the new Gilded Age we currently live in, the famous comment about the poor was Qu’ils mangent de la brioche. This was apparently spoken by a princess about the plight of the peasants who could not afford bread. Thus, she mentioned a brioche made from eggs and butter, which no poor person could ever afford to buy or make.

For as long as factual American history has been documented, the ‘powers that be’, the super rich and their many minions, have tricked our populace into thinking that we are a democracy. Whenever a viable third party movement  gathered steam throughout our 200+ year history, one of the other major parties either co-opted them, bought them off, or scandalized them. Money talks and our Two Party/One Party system has always had lots of it to throw around. The rule of thumb has always been ‘The more you can spend to influence the suckers, the more they vote for you.’ Plain and simple. Of course, the embedded mainstream media and compliant public servants AKA politicians are always there to blow the trumpet for their super rich handlers. Sad but true.

Then we come to the suckers, saps and lollipops who are led to the voting booth time and time again. Watching ‘The Donald’s’ carnival sideshow event last night in West Virginia, one of our poorest states , brought this writer to that feeling of ‘quiet desperation’. Looking at the crowds of working stiffs, some actually wearing hard hats, as they cheered this man and shouted ‘Make America great again’, I actually felt so sorry for them… and me. Trump and his administration, with aid from his party and many compliant Democrats, is strangling whatever is left of our labor movement… and our environment!. The cuts to our safety net and the obscene militarism (with higher and higher military spending) will see many of those in the crowd go down to their knees quite quickly. Why do so many believe him?

We have to understand that Trump got elected because of the anger many working stiff white Americans have had for the Democrats… but for the wrong reasons. Of course, if the Democrats had run ‘Donald Duck’ against Trump, they would have won easily. It was the fact that one of the most despised politicians of this era ran against Trump. The suckers out there did not really care about Trump’s BS and his distortions and untruths, when they had such an easy source of their disdain. Again, for all the wrong reasons. Low and middle income working stiff whites should have cared about her warmongering, her sucking up to the Wall Street banksters and her support for any increase in military spending that came her way. No, she was the ‘Wicked Marxist Witch’ who wanted to turn our nation into a totalitarian system. So, they believed the Reality show star and wanted the ‘Swamp drained’, the ‘Wall built’ and their jobs secured. Imagine how many bridges in Brooklyn Trump could have sold them!

For generations the Democrats have had the panache of being ‘working class heroes’ but never the substance. President Truman, a Democrat, signed off on the unnecessary and immoral  action of dropping two A-Bombs on Japan. He also later on signed the worst anti labor legislation imaginable, the Taft-Hartley Act. Truman signed off on the creation of a Central Intelligence Agency, without attempting to harness it in. LBJ, a ‘Liberal Democrat’, allowed the Military Industrial Empire to rage war in Vietnam, costing millions of deaths and billions of wasted dollars…except of course for the War Economy. Democrat Bill Clinton signed off on the US led NATO destruction of Yugoslavia. He also signed the Welfare Act that strangled many poor families. Of course, his ‘piece de resistance’ was the repeal of the Glass – Steagall Act  of 1933, thus opening the door for massive fraud and over speculation by the Wall Street Banksters. Democrat Obama sold the Kool- Aid of ‘Hope and Change’ and then continued the phony Wall Street Giveaway … oh sorry, Bailout. Obama also continued the Deep State’s imperialist designs in the Middle East, capped by the total destruction of Libya. Under him, a Democrat, the obscene military spending orchestrated by the Bush/Cheney gang actually was topped to over 50% of our tax money!

Now, anyone with any sane and rational mind should know that the Republicans have always represented the super rich in the most overt fashion. They actually make no bones about it! Their logic has always been that as long as the super rich continue to make fortunes, then the ‘trickledown effect is in place. You know, ‘crumbs from the table’ and all that. Again, to ‘out macho’  their cousins, the Democrats, the Republicans make war as foreign policy. You know, the adage from the Old West: “Shoot and ask questions later.” They allow the corporate predators to have full reign and call it ‘The Free Market’. Bush Sr. and his son Junior should have been charged with treason for both their illegal and immoral attacks on Iraq, a sovereign nation. That party, the Republicans, is so entrenched in evil deeds for the few over the needs of the many, that their Karma builds each and every day.

Folks, this Two Party/One Party scam is what is destroying your lives, economically, spiritually and even physically. ‘Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice (and a zillion times) and shame on ME!!!

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Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He has been a free lance columnist since 2001, with over 400 of his work posted on sites like Global Research, Greanville Post, Off Guardian, Consortium News, Information Clearing House, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op Ed News, Dissident Voice, Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust, whereupon he writes a great deal on the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has a internet interview show, ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid’ with producer Chuck Gregory, and can be reached at [email protected].

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Elections ideally are designed to allow voters the opportunity to make “educated decisions” in electing the right representatives. However, in the “democratic” societies, the genuine working people candidates have limited access — if any at all — to reach out and present their platform in the elections. Therefore, voters end up choosing and “electing” only the 1% candidates. This process (which is dominated and controlled by the 1% power and money) is designed to legitimize the anti-working people governing system as “democratic”.

However, under certain political conditions, these “democratic” elections become the pretext in giving birth to a totalitarian government. In other words in politics as in physics or chemistry, under certain conditions, matter through a process of qualitative changes negates itself. For a physicist or chemist working in a lab, these intense transformations and mutations are usual occurrences. However, in the field of social science, these qualitative changes are rare with drastic consequences but possible.

For instance, in Germany, in May 1928, the National Socialist German Workers’ Party (Nazis) get less than a tenth of total votes in the Reichstag (Parliament) elections. More than two years later, in September 1930 election, the same Nazi Party votes increased by up 700 percent! Two years later in July 1932, the Nazi party becomes the largest Party in Germany. Finally, on January 30th, 1933, Hitler is appointed as Chancellor and became the head of the German government which led to WWII.

It is imperative that readers know the aim of reviewing this history is by no means to draw a comparison between the German elections in early 30’s to today’s elections in the U.S. This nominal analogy would be unscientific and meaningless. Besides the rise of Fascism in Germany was solely the direct result of betrayal by the leadership of the two largest parties, the Social Democratic Party (SPD) and Communist (Stalinist) Party (KPD) of Germany. The attention should be on the fact of how quickly through a series of normal “democratic” elections an undemocratic and totalitarian regime did arise. The goal is to be mindful of this history and prevent a repeat of the same mistakes. When the economic crisis deepens, the 1% in the name of national security — which only means the security of their own power and wealth — would take off their pretentious “democratic” mask, reveal their true nature and govern with the iron fist.

In less than 11 weeks, the American people will be at the polls to elect their candidates. However, not all voters realize that their vote in the next election or elections thereafter is a vote for war and political repression. American people are bombarded with the Pro or Anti Trump slogans. The “Pundits” are running their mouths overtime these days to convince the voters how important it is to win the majority in the house. Some forecast that a “Blue Wave” in the 2018 Midterm Election is looking more and more likely to give Democrats a comfortable majority in the House; meanwhile Steve Bannon, the former chief strategist to President Trump, warns the GOP that “you’re going to get smoked” if you play by “the traditional Republican playbook”! No one bothers to explain how working people would benefit if the Democratic or Republican Party wins the majority in the House. Would dire issues, such as; the Minimum Wage, Healthcare, Immigration, DACA, the Environment and the rapid problem of Homelessness in America be discussed in the House in order to be resolved once and for all?

True Peace activists should analytically look at the international political situation first. In regard to the upcoming election, for those who seek a long-lasting Peace, the understanding of the role of the United States outside of her borders is essential. Domestic dramas are endless and are designed to distract working people from the unvarnished truth. Mr. Mueller or Mr. Giuliani, Mrs. Conway or Mrs. Omarosa and other characters alike, can entertain us for years but none of them will ever question the creeping censorship that is suffocating the voices of freedom in the U.S. or stand up against selling the weapons of mass destruction to Saudi Arabia and Israel who are killing innocent children with impunity. Nor do they care about poisonous foods that the powerful firms are producing for the mass consumption; or the factories that are polluting our water and air. It is the duty of hard-working people to end these out of control economic plundering, cruel injustices and insane wars.

A united front against war and totalitarianism is possible. It is a lot easier for the different forces and organizations to unite when all are under attack and have to defend themselves. It is just the question of understanding and will. The Trump administration with its Dollar Diplomacy is sanctioning America’s “friend and foe” in hope to regain the U.S. global hegemony. The U.S. cannot compete with China in producing goods since American capitalists have left their offices in the factories a long time ago and became the speculative financier of Wall Street. That is why war and sanctions are their weapons of choice. But while wars and sanctions are breaking the victim nations apart, like a double bladed sword they are also hurting American working families. It is the hard-working people who are paying $250 Million a day to cover the cost of these insane wars abroad. The 1% is the only section of the American society that benefits from wars. It is time for Peace activists and democratic-minded people to utilize their forces independent of the major parties and energetically participate in the upcoming elections to challenge the 1% candidates against all the U.S. military wars abroad and the internal war against the working people.

Political conditions are ripe for intense qualitative changes. The question is if the 99% is able to create a conscious leadership on time.

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Massoud Nayeri is a graphic designer and an independent peace activist based in the United States. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author.

Pope Francis, Apology and Child Abuse

August 23rd, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

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It was long overdue, but Pope Francis’s letter of condemnation and apology regarding the abuse of children by Catholic priests did sent a few ripples of comfort and reckoning.  He conceded that the Church “showed no care for the little ones; we abandoned them”.  He acknowledged the “heart-wrenching pain” of the victims who had been assaulted by the clerical class, and the cries “long ignored, kept quiet or silenced”.

“With shame and repentance,” went the Pope’s grave words, “we acknowledge as an ecclesial community that we were not where we should have been, that we did not act in a timely manner, realizing the magnitude and the gravity of the damage done to so many lives.”

What is left hanging in the air is any system of defined accountability, one characterised by an ancient institution mothballed by secrecy and obfuscation.  In the pointed words of Irish abuse survivor Marie Collins,

“Statements from the Vatican or Pope should stop telling us how terrible abuse is, and how all must be held accountable.” 

The Pope had been given a prompting this month, a nasty reminder he acknowledged in his note. 

“Even though it can be said that most of these cases belong to the past, nonetheless as time goes on we have come to know the pain of the many of the victims.” 

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court had made a near 900 page grand jury report investigating clerical sex abuse of minors public, a digging enterprise spearheaded by the Pennsylvania state Attorney General Josh Shapiro.  The grizzly bounty came to 301 accused priests, with some 1,000 victims throughout the state, and even then, it only covered six of the eight dioceses in the state. 

The details read like chillingly lurid pornography: a priest in the Diocese of Erie who “fondled boys and told them he was giving them a ‘cancer check’”; a priest in the Diocese of Allentown who impregnated a 17-year-old and “forged another pastor’s signature on a marriage certificate”.  What also accompanied such acts of molestation was the divine remit: victims were assured that their sexual provision was part of a broader Godly purpose.

The exploits of some of the accused resemble catalogues of brutal overachievement.  Rev. Edward R. Graff, who served in the diocese of Allentown for 35 years, could add scores of victims to his repertoire. Much of his conduct was executed on the premise that he was “an instrument of god”.

After the abuse comes the vast apparatus, the doctrinally directed cover-ups that warn of continuing offending behaviour while still keeping matters bolted and in-house.  The report notes the point. 

“What we can say, though, despite some institutional reform, individual leaders of the church have largely escaped public accountability.  Priests were raping little boys and girls, and the men of God who were responsible for them not only did nothing; they hid it all.  For decades.”

Within the church itself, church officials received protection and succour.

“Monsignors, auxiliary bishops, bishops, archbishops, cardinals have mostly been protected; many, including some named in this report, have been promoted.”

Matters have been particularly heady in the field of child abuse accusation this US summer.  Cardinal Theodore McCarrick resigned his cardinalship after accusations of abuse from adult seminarians and children.  On the other side of the planet, one of the Vatican’s highest ranking officials, Australia’s Cardinal George Pell, is busy battling charges of historical sex abuse.

Resistance to prodding from the secular world remains trenchant in some branches of the Church. In Australia, despite the passage of legislation breaching the sacred seal of the confession, priests have openly stated that they would sooner go to prison than reveal the contents of a penitent’s confession, even if it discloses instances of child abuse.  Church business remains resistant, defiantly so. 

To that end, the shaking measures of legal action may be one of few mechanisms to ensure accountability.  Criminal prosecutions have tended to rarely succeed; issues of evidence and the passage of time often condemn them.  Civil lawsuits, as Timothy D. Lytton of Georgia State University argues, might have more prospects of success.  This, however, will face bars imposed by the statute of limitations.

“Unless lawmakers across the country pass reforms to extend or suspend the statute of limitations in their states, I believe that the church will never provide a full accounting of the scandal.” 

The language of Pope Francis can be misconstrued as healing and resolving.  It does neither.  The Church sprawls and continues to exist with its own rationales, its basis of functioning. It was the world’s first operational corporation, its crimes and infractions as much to do with that logic than anything else.  Until its approach to the powerful clerical class is reformed, the abuses will continue in the shadow of misused divinity.

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

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It took oil company Shell more than 16 years to directly warn its shareholders that climate policy posed a financial risk to the company’s business model despite knowing — in private and for decades — about the relationship between its products and climate change.

Shell started commissioning confidential work about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the global climate as early as 1981. However, analysis by DeSmog UK and DeSmog found that Shell did not start mentioning the possibility of climate change to shareholders in annual reports before 1991 — 10 years after the company started a research stream to study climate change.

Analysis of Shell’s annual reports and financial records at the time show the company did not give a clear warning to its shareholders about the financial risks “related to the impact of climate change” and attached to their investments until 2004.

DeSmog UK and DeSmog have worked through Shell companies’ annual reports submitted to the UK’s Companies House and 10-K’s and 20-F forms filed under the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) throughout the 1990s and early 2000s to compare what the company knew in private at the end of the 1980s and what it told its shareholders about the environmental and financial risks attached to their investment during the following decade.

Early Days

Shell Group managing directors pictured in 1997

A black and white picture of the Shell Group’s managing directors published in The Shell Transport and Trading Company’s 1997 annual report. 

What Shell knew about climate change at the end of the 1980s is well-established and revealed in a confidential report commissioned by and for Shell called “The Greenhouse Effect”.

The report was dated 1988 and made public for the first time this year after being uncovered by Jelmer Mommers of De Correspondent and published on Climate Files. It reveals the company’s examination of climate change had already been ongoing for at least seven years.

The 87-page report warned Shell that its own products were responsible for global warming and that “there is reasonable scientific agreement that increased levels of greenhouse gases would cause a global warming”.

Source: ‘The Greenhouse Effect’ 1988 report 

By 1988, Shell knew that its fossil fuel products were contributing to climate change and that dangerous levels of warming could cause parts of the Earth to become uninhabitable. Yet, it took the company another decade, until 1997, to suggest that “environmental risks” could affect some of the statements the group made about its business operations.

Until 2005, Shell was registered as two different companies, Royal Dutch Petroleum Company in the Netherlands and the Shell Transport and Trading company in the UK, although both companies operated as a single-unit. The Shell Group also included a U.S.-based subsidiary, Shell Oil.

This analysis includes information provided to shareholders through Royal Dutch Petroleum annual reports from 1982-1997, Shell Transport and Trading’s annual reports from 1989 to 2004, filings from Shell Oil from 1993-1998, and Shell’s corporate responsibility reports starting in 1997.

Early 1990s: Controlling the Climate Change Narrative  

Despite knowing about the consequences of burning fossil fuels in the early 1980s, Shell made no direct mention of carbon dioxide emissions, global warming, or climate change until 1991.

That year, a Royal Dutch Petroleum annual report recognised “the concern expressed by a number of experts that higher carbon dioxide emissions might increase the possibility of climate change.”

Source: Royal Dutch Petroleum Company’s 1991 annual report 

The UK-based Shell Transport and Trading company first hinted at the impact of burning fossil fuels without using the term “climate change” in its 1992 report — the year of the first United Nations (UN) climate talks in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Shell group chairman Peter Holmes wrote that the Rio de Janeiro conference had “set the environmental agenda for the coming years” and that environmental and development problems “can only be solved by true international cooperation” and “governments’ willingness to consult business and industry in drawing up laws and putting the emphasis on self-regulation”.

While Holmes chose not to mention the term “climate change” when addressing shareholders about the company’s financial situation, the same year, Shell was keen to show the public what it knew about the possible catastrophic consequences of global warming.

Footage of a 1991 public film about climate change released by Shell’s film and video unit was rediscovered last year. The half-hour documentary called “Climate of Concern” shows that the company had a deep understanding of global warming 27 years ago.

The film warned that burning fossil fuels was warming the world and would cause extreme weather, floods, famines, and climate refugees.

There is no indication of how many people might have seen the film at the time of its release but the short documentary shows how Shell tried to shape its narrative around climate science and its impacts.

DeSmog UK and DeSmog found no evidence of Shell mentioning the film to its shareholders in its 1991 annual reports. A picture of the film’s DVD case was however included on page 32 of Shell’s 1997 sustainability report under a section titled “living up to our principles”.

In this section, Shell said it was making efforts to encourage “open communication” and recognised that its “traditional corporate culture has not necessarily encouraged openness”.

Source: The Shell Report/Shell sustainability report 1997

The cover of the film “Climate of Concern” was included as an example of the company’s “award-winning film and video unit which produces documentaries that contribute to world debates on such issues as deforestation, water, soil erosion, and poverty”. Climate change was not mentioned as a theme for the film and video unit’s work.

1993: ‘Possibility’ of Climate Change but Business as Usual

The confidential report “The Greenhouse Effect” shows that Shell had a clear grasp of global warming and its causes by the late 1980s.

Yet, throughout the 1990s, the company continued to push mixed messages, acknowledging the “possibility of climate change” while emphasising the “scientific uncertainties” over the impact of increasing concentrations of carbon dioxide in the atmosphere.

Shell justified its business-as-usual approach by arguing that the world will continue to depend on fossil fuels “for years to come” to meet growing energy demand and ensure “sustainable development”.

In its 1993 accounts, the Shell Group acknowledged the “possibility of climate change” as “probably the greatest environmental dilemma facing all of us” while emphasizing that “scientific uncertainty still surrounds the world’s understanding of climate behaviour”.

For the first time, Shell also recognised that “there is sufficient indication of potential risk for governments and industry to take prudent precautionary measures which are based on sound science and take account of the economic and social needs and aspirations of developing and developed countries”.

Source: Royal Dutch Petroleum and The Shell Transport and Trading’s 1993 annual reports 

But despite knowing about the impact of burning fossil fuels on the climate, Shell told its shareholders it had to “continue to invest and provide for the future energy needs of society in ways which are environmentally acceptable” while ensuring “the economic viability of the industry”.

Shell knew of the huge environmental risks attached to its own products. In the 1988 report “The Greenhouse Effect”, Shell mentions “a second generation of studies” to answer questions about the future accessibility and costs of fossil fuels.

Yet, in 1993, Shell suggested to its shareholders that investments in the fossil fuel industry will continue to be profitable for years to come.

That year’s Shell Transport and Trading annual report filed at the UK’s Companies House stated that environmental expenditures and the carbon cost of new projects were “comparable to those faced by companies in other similar business” and that impact on the group’s future earnings would depend on “the ability to recover the higher costs on consumers and/or through fiscal incentives offered by governments”.

The company concluded that “over time there will be no material impact on the total of [the] Group companies’ earnings”.

A passage from Shell Oil’s 1993 10-K form filed under SEC in the U.S. told shareholders that Shell “can comply fully [with existing environmental laws] without material adverse impact on its financial position”.

Source: Shell Oil’s 1993 10-K form 

Shell’s interpretation of environmental regulation and a growing cost of carbon as an “adverse” factor on its business interests contradicts its own findings in the “The Greenhouse Effect”.

The 1988 report concluded that climate change’s “potential implications for the world” were “so large that policy options would need to be considered much earlier” than the end of the century  — or within seven years of 1993.

Instead, in 1993, Shell Transport and Trading Company argued that to meet growing energy demand “society will have no option but to use all available energy sources”, citing “plentiful” coal, the “vast potential” of natural gas”, and oil reserves “that have never been higher”.

Source: The Shell Transport and Trading’s 1993 annual report 

The following year, in 1994, the Shell Group accounts stated that its companies “firmly intend to build on their significant strength in upstream and downstream oil, natural gas, and chemicals and their much smaller, but nevertheless significant, position in coal”.

Shell’s commitment to coal overlooked confidential warning in “The Greenhouse Effect” report that burning coal was causing more carbon dioxide emissions than other fossil fuels. At the time, the report recommended “a swing from coal towards gas”.

1996: Precautionary Measures to Tackle Climate Change

Three years on, the Shell group was still emphasising “uncertainties” about climate science but told its shareholders in its companies’ annual reports that it would take “prudent precautionary action” to tackle the issue.

Source: Royal Dutch Petroleum and The Shell Transport and Trading Company’s 1996 annual reports 

That year, Shell also cemented its commitment to “sustainable development” which the company defined as “meeting the needs of the present generation without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs” through economic development, environmental protection, and social responsibility.

1997: ‘Possibility of Human Climate Change’ and Cautionary Statement

In 1997, Shell’s language when referring to climate change remained much unchanged.

The group companies’ reports continued to describe the issue as “the possibility that human activities are causing damaging climate change”. The same year, a majority of countries signed the Kyoto Protocol, the first international agreement on climate change which committed countries to set internationally binding emission reduction targets.

Source: Royal Dutch Petroleum and The Shell Transport and Trading’s 1997 annual reports

The UK-listed Shell Transport and Trading Company added a cautionary statement to its annual report which identified “environmental risks, fiscal and regulatory developments” as variables which could affect the risk factors associated with “the oil, gas, chemicals, renewable resources, and coal businesses”.

This was the first time the Shell Group mentioned the potential impact environmental risk could have on shareholders’ investment in the company’s fossil fuel products, according to DeSmog’s analysis.

Source: The Shell Transort and Trading Company’s 1997 annual report 

The same year, Shell’s sustainability report made the case for the intensification of the companies’ oil and gas operations, blaming coal for being a “much larger carbon intensive resource”.

Shell claimed that “all the world’s estimated resources of conventional oil and gas could be consumed without raising atmospheric carbon concentration above the limits suggested by even the most pessimistic observers”.

Source: The Shell Report/Shell sustainability report 1997 

This is in direct contradiction with Shell’s own findings more than a decade earlier in the 1988 “The Greenhouse Effect” report which identified the carbon dioxide emission share of each of the company’s fossil fuel products.

At the time, the report concluded that of “the total emission of 5.3 GtC, 44 percent came from oil, 38 percent from coal, and 17 percent from gas” — correctly suggesting that burning oil and gas would generate fewer carbon dioxide emissions than coal but would still contribute to the global warming effect.

Source: ‘The Greenhouse Effect’ 1988 report 

Between 1993 and 1998, Shell Oil filed 10-K annual reports, available through the SEC’s public records archives in the U.S.DeSmog found no evidence that any of the filings mentioned the terms “climate change”, “global warming”, or “greenhouse gas”.

During the same period, the Shell group annual reports filed at Companies’ House in the UK all included references to “climate change” and set out the company’s response to environmental and development challenges.

Late 1990s and Early 2000s: Corporate Spin and Peddling Back Climate Science

In 1999, the Shell Group strengthened its language and told its shareholders about opportunities in the clean energy sector linked to “the need to respond to the threat of global warming”.

It added that Shell companies were cutting their greenhouse gas emissions and considering the potential carbon costs of its products.

Shell Transport and Trading also announced that a decision was taken in August 1999 for the company to divest its coal business.

But over the following years, the company appeared to back-peddle over how much it was ready to tell shareholders about the risks attached to their investments.

In 2000, the Shell Transport and Trading Company annual report stated that the Shell Group’s commitment to sustainable development justified the company supplying China with “coal gasification technology”, which it described as using “coal more efficiently and cleanly”.

Coal gasification is a technology that involves chemically transforming the coal into synthetic natural gas rather than burning it directly.

Laszlo Varro, former head of gas, coal, and power markets at the International Energy Agency (IEA) and now its chief economist, previously told the BBC that coal gasification is actually more carbon intensive than coal mining and is “not attractive at all from a climate point of view”.

In 2001, Shell labelled the issue “the perceived threat of global warming” and added that the “world’s dependency on hydrocarbons will remain for decades to come”.

In 2003, neither Royal Dutch Petroleum’s nor Shell Transport and Trading Company’s annual report explicitly mentioned “climate change”, “global warming”, or “greenhouse gases”. Instead, the companies shunted discussion of the topic to that year’s sustainability report called The Shell Report, a supplement that focuses on environmental and social issues, sent to investors alongside the annual report.

In that year’s Shell Report, the company stated its concern about man-made climate change and added “action is needed now”. That strong language was yet absent from the company’s financial statement.

Source: The Shell Report/ Shell sustainability report 2003

2004: Climate Change Identified as a Financial Risk for Investment

In 2004, the Shell Group made a significant shift in the way it talked about climate change to its shareholders.

For the first time, Shell included a clear statement in its companies’ annual report about the financial risk attached to investments in the companies’ operations.

It warned shareholders that “government action” to reduce carbon dioxide emissions was leading to challenges to future oil and gas developments. Shell acknowledged that the risks attached to the delivery of new fossil fuel projects “could have an adverse impact on the group’s operational performance and financial position”.

Source: The Shell Transport and Trading Company’s 2004 annual report 

This was the first time Shell issued a clear warning to it shareholders about the financial risks attached to their investments — 16 years after it was first warned in detail about the role its own products played in contributing to dangerous global warming.

Responding to the findings, a Shell spokesperson told DeSmog:

“Shell has long acknowledged the climate challenge, an issue that has been part of public discourse for many decades, and our position on climate change has been publicly documented for more than two decades through publications such as our annual report and sustainability report.”

“We take seriously our responsibility to report clearly and transparently on financial risks, which includes complying with U.S.Securities and Exchange Commission regulations. “

DeSmog’s anlysis shows Shell’s financial statements and corporate documents filed between the early 1990s and 2004 give an insight into how the company shaped and controlled its own narrative around global warming and its impact over the decades.

While Shell was comfortable using The Shell Report, sustainability reports, and its film and video unit to promote its clear understanding of climate science in the 1990s and early 2000s, it took the company much longer to overtly tell its shareholders of the financial risk climate policy and the impacts of global warming posed to their investments.

US-Saudis Enlist Al Qaeda Mercenaries for Yemen War

August 23rd, 2018 by Tony Cartalucci

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Associated Press has revealed that the US-backed, Saudi-led war against Yemen includes the use of Al Qaeda as a mercenary force against Houthi rebels.

This confirms as fact what was widely dismissed by Western politicians and a complicit Western media as a “conspiracy theory” since 2011.

Evidence that the US and its allies enlisted Al Qaeda and other extremist groups to wage serial proxy wars across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), from Libya and Syria to Yemen, has piled up into a mountain emerging high above the fog of disinformation behind which these wars had been fought.

The AP article titled, “AP Investigation: US allies, al-Qaida battle rebels in Yemen,” would report (emphasis added):

Again and again over the past two years, a military coalition led by Saudi Arabia and backed by the United States has claimed it won decisive victories that drove al-Qaida militants from their strongholds across Yemen and shattered their ability to attack the West. 

Here’s what the victors did not disclose: many of their conquests came without firing a shot.

That’s because the coalition cut secret deals with al-Qaida fighters, paying some to leave key cities and towns and letting others retreat with weapons, equipment and wads of looted cash, an investigation by The Associated Press has found. Hundreds more were recruited to join the coalition itself.

AP would also link the Muslim Brotherhood directly to Al Qaeda militants, stating:

In some places, militants join battles independently. But in many cases, militia commanders from the ultraconservative Salafi sect and the Muslim Brotherhood bring them directly into their ranks, where they benefit from coalition funding, the AP found.

This is further evidence exposing the Muslim Brotherhood’s role in preparing the grounds for the US-engineered 2011 “Arab Spring” uprisings and the planned violence that accompanied them.

Of course, while Western leaders and the media attempted to deny complicity in the dominant role Al Qaeda played in conflicts across MENA for years, a look at any conflict map – be it in regards to Syria or Yemen – reveals that pockets of extremists operating in both nations are adjacent to US-Saudi-controlled supply lines and US-Saudi controlled territory – not because the US or Saudi Arabia are fighting Al Qaeda and its affiliates – but because they are protecting and using these extremists to fight their various regional wars on their behalf.

As to why the US and Saudi Arabia might be aiding and abetting Al Qaeda, AP would quote Michael Horton of the Jamestown Foundation. AP would report:

“Elements of the US military are clearly aware that much of what the US is doing in Yemen is aiding AQAP and there is much angst about that,” said Michael Horton, a fellow at the Jamestown Foundation, a US analysis group that tracks terrorism.

“However, supporting the UAE and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia against what the US views as Iranian expansionism takes priority over battling AQAP and even stabilizing Yemen,” Horton said.

However, the US has failed to make a case as to what threat Iran constitutes that is equal or greater to the threat posed by Al Qaeda. It was supposedly Al Qaeda, not Iran that hijacked airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City and the Pentagon in 2001 – tipping off a now nearly two decade-long “War on Terror.” In fact – Iran has invested blood and treasure in fighting and defeating Al Qaeda and its proxies, including the self-proclaimed “Islamic State” in both Syria and Iraq – contributing directly to both terrorist organizations’ defeat.

It would appear that if Iran is involved in Yemen, it is also clearly fighting against Al Qaeda there as well.

And while the AP investigation presents a coalition of convenience between Al Qaeda and the US-backed Saudi-led coalition – the truth is that Saudi Arabia itself is the original “Islamic State,” having sponsored the perversion and abuse of Islam via Wahhabism since its inception, the recruitment and indoctrination of extremists through a global network of madrases funded by Riyadh sine the Cold War, and the direct arming and backing of terrorist organizations including Al Qaeda as they wage war in Libya, Syria, Iraq, and Yemen.

The US for its part, also – knowingly and willingly – is aiding and abetting Al Qaeda, using them as auxiliaries to fight where US troops cannot either for political or practical reasons.

This is not merely a recent arrangement wrought from stark realism, this was a plan that has been developed over the course of at least three US presidencies – George Bush, Barack Obama, and now Donald Trump.

It was in Seymour Hersh’s 2007 New Yorker piece titled, “The Redirection Is the Administration’s new policy benefitting our enemies in the war on terrorism?” which revealed (emphasis added):

To undermine Iran, which is predominantly Shiite, the Bush Administration has decided, in effect, to reconfigure its priorities in the Middle East. In Lebanon, the Administration has coöperated with Saudi Arabia’s government, which is Sunni, in clandestine operations that are intended to weaken Hezbollah, the Shiite organization that is backed by Iran. The US has also taken part in clandestine operations aimed at Iran and its ally Syria. A by-product of these activities has been the bolstering of Sunni extremist groups that espouse a militant vision of Islam and are hostile to America and sympathetic to Al Qaeda.

Hersh’s article too made a clear link between Al Qaeda extremists, the Muslim Brotherhood and the US and Saudi sponsors preparing both for what his sources claimed was a “cataclysmic conflict.”

Thus Al Qaeda forming the backbone of the US-backed, Saudi-led war in Yemen, or Al Qaeda fighting Washington’s proxy wars in Libya or Syria is no mere coincidence or accident, or even just a recent phenomenon emerging from growing Western desperation to “contain Iran,” but part of a long-planned geopolitical gambit aimed at eliminating Washington’s competitors and establishing itself as sole hegemon over the MENA region.

The revelations should further bolster the moral imperative of Iran and its allies – including Russia, Syria, and Lebanon’s Hezbollah. It should also further undermine the credibility of both the US and its allies, as well as the “international order” they presume dominion over.

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Tony Cartalucci is Bangkok-based geopolitical researcher and writer, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author.

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On June 13, 2018 the US government-funded National Endowment for Democracy presented its 2018 Democracy Award to a collection of Korean activists who aim to topple the communist government of North Korea.

The event was timed to coincide with President Donald Trump’s peace summit in Singapore with Kim Jong-Un. The ceremony appeared to be the opening shot of a massive public relations effort aimed at stifling normalized relations with North Korea.

NED founder Carl Gershman and NED director Andy Card with a group of Korean defectors and activists

I covered the ceremony because these organizations are doing precisely what Congress accuses Russia-funded media outlets and troll farms of doing in the United States. They interfere in other countries’ politics with foreign money. The only difference is they do it openly, and in the name of spreading freedom.

Founded in 1983 by then president Ronald Reagan, the National Endowment for Democracy became an international vehicle for the neoconservative agenda. Its founding cadre were Cold War ideologues who were, like so many early neoconservative operatives, former Trotskyists who once belonged to the Social Democrats USA party.

Over the years, the NED and its partner organizations have weaponized civil society and media against governments that stand in the way of right-wing, free market parties and corporate interests.

Heavy payouts for anti-DPRK testimony, often with embarrassing results

Among the groups honored at the NED gathering was the Unification Media Group. They foment internal opposition to the North Korean government through shortwave radio broadcasts.

Also on hand was a collection of defectors. These activists are responsible for much of what the West believes about North Korea and its human rights record. While many tell harrowing tales of escape from political repression, others have been exposed as serial fabricators lured by hefty sums of cash.

In 2017, South Korea quadrupled the payout for testimony from North Korean defectors to a whopping $860,000. The bounty has incentivized colorful accounts of sadistic — and unusually creative — human rights abuses.

According to one defector, a crowd of 10,000 was forced to watch the execution of 11 musicians for the crime of viewing porn. He said the musicians were shot with anti-aircraft guns, then run over with tanks. Another defector claimed female prisoners were raped and then forced to hand their babies over to be used as food for hungry guard dogs.

That same year, news of the defection of 13 North Korean waitresses provided a boost to Pyonyang’s opponents

But recently, the waitresses’ manager admitted to tricking the women into leaving under pressure from the South Korean intelligence services. The scandal is now under UN investigation.

A separate UN investigation accusing Kim Jong-Un of crimes against humanity was marred by fabricated testimony from defectors like Shin Dong-hyuk, who confessed to inventing parts of his story.

Testimony to US Congress by another defector, Kwon Hyuk, who claimed to have witnessed live human experimentation in North Korean prisons, helped drive the passage of the North Korea Human Rights Act in 2004. But Kwon too was unmasked as a fabulist and quickly disappeared from the public eye.

The right-wing network behind Korea’s celebrity defector

Yeonmi Park is maybe the most famous North Korean defector. She emerged on the international scene at the One World Summit in 2014 with a heartrending tale of escape through China.

But key parts of Park’s story at the summit differed from previous testimony she had delivered.

One of the many inconsistencies in Park’s story was documented by journalist Mary Ann Jolley, who reported that Park initially claimed she had escaped through China with her mother and father.

At the One World Summit, however, Park’s interviewer claimed that she trekked through China with only her mother, who was raped by a Chinese broker — adding an entirely new dramatic piece to her narrative.

All along, Park was profiting from her fame, earning $12,000 and up for speeches, and receiving critical backing from a libertarian political network that included the for-profit Freedom Factory and the Atlas Foundation.

She was also made a media fellow by the Oslo Freedom Forum, an operation run by Venezuelan-American oligarch Thor Halvorssen that weaponizes human rights in the service of neoconservative foreign policy objectives.

Image on the right: In 2014, in partnership from libertarian tech billionaire Peter Thiel, Halvorssen launched the deliberately provocative “Hack Them Back” campaign to disrupt inter-Korean peace talks.  

The campaign nearly brought the Koreas to the brink of war, as the North threatened to retaliate against the launch of balloons into its territory containing messages denouncing its leader. South Korea’s government also condemned the balloon launch, while peace activists and local residents on the border attempted to block it.

Park played a starring role in the imbroglio, drumming up support for Halvorssen’s crusade among Silicon Valley powerbrokers.

The destabilizing operation prompted Mike Bassett, a former reconaissance soldier at the Korean Demilitarized Zone and ex-information warfare officer, to describe Park as an instrument of well funded elements hostile to peace on the Korean peninsula. He wrote that her

“change in narrative warrants serious scrutiny because that narrative changed as a result of a political and economic agenda rather than a genuine desire to inform the public about the best way to liberate North Koreans from oppression.”

Despite being criticized for changing her narrative again and again, Park returned to the national stage this June thanks to the New York Times, which featured her in an inflammatory viral video aimed at undermining the Trump-Kim summit during which she compared North Korean leader Kim Jong-un to Adolph Hitler.

The neoconservative New York Times columnist Bari Weiss also pointed to Park’s largely discredited narrative to attack the peace summit, writing that Park herself had been raped on her way through China. Yet Park never even made this claim. Fortunately for Weiss, her editors at the New York Times opinion section had not bothered to conduct even a cursory bit of research on the defectors she cited.

The Transitional Justice Working Group, an NED grantee, is responsible for delivering some of these testimonies to the West.

At the NED ceremony, we met the group’s director, Hubert Younghman Lee, who emphasized the importance of American backing:

“I’d like to express our sincere gratitude to bipartisan support, and also US congresspeople and US citizens especially. We are doing this work with US citizens’ tax [dollars].”

As with many high profile defectors, information delivered to Western media by South Korean intelligence has often proven unreliable, and provoked some embarrassing media updates.

In 2016, Western media filled with reports that North Korea had executed General Ri Yong-gil. However, General Ri turned up alive days later.

Three years before, Western media buzzed with reports that Kim Jong Un had executed his ex-girlfriend, Hyon Song-wol, by firing squad. Months later, Hyon appeared alive as ever, performing her music on North Korean television.

So this begs the question: is North Korea populated by zombies who rise from the dead? Or is a US-funded influence operation cultivating opposition to engagement with North Korea by relying on often unreliable sources with dubious agendas?

Bipartisan support

During the NED ceremony, Democratic House minority leader Nancy Pelosi recalled a trip she took to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital.

“When we saw the people in Pyonyang — the blank faces, the brainwashing that went on — the poverty of spirit I saw exceeded the poverty [of] any place in the world.”

Pelosi then claimed that locals were executed on the spot for unauthorized corn consumption.

“They would get shot if they just took one corn on the cob, one husk of corn,” she claimed.

Pelosi was among a bipartisan cast of lawmakers on hand to pay homage to the NED. They included Republican representatives like Ed Royce and Pete Roskamp, as well as Democrats like Rep. Julian Castro and Stephanie Murphy.

Though the NED was hailed by Congress as a politically benign entity advancing democracy and human rights, its record tells a different story.

Sowing chaos, spreading instability, and opening markets

The NED’s first success was the defeat of the Sandinista government in Nicaragua’s 1990 elections, replacing it with the neoliberal party of Violeta Chamorro.

Since then, the NED’s advanced US interests in countless countries: it helped swing a Russian election for Boris Yeltsin in 1996, it drove a failed coup attempt in Venezuela in 2002, it orchestrated a successful one in Haiti in 2004, and another one in Ukraine in 2014, which paved the way for neo-Nazis to move into the mainstream.

Philip Agee, the late CIA whisteblower, described the work of the NED as a more sophisticated version of the old-fashioned covert operations that Langley used to engineer.

“Nowadays, instead of having the CIA going around behind the scenes and trying to manipulate the process by inserting money here and giving instructions secretly and so forth, they have now a sidekick, which is this National Endowment for Democracy, NED.”

Agee’s words were openly confirmed by Alan Weinstein, a former Trotskyist and founding member of the NED. Weinstein told the Washington Post in 1991,

“A lot of what we do today was done covertly twenty-five years ago by the CIA.”

Since then, NED funding has almost quadrupled. In the past four years alone, the organization has directed at least 4 million dollars into parties and media outfits in Nicaragua.

That prompted an NED funded publication — the Global Americans — to boast of the role the group played in “laying the groundwork for change” in Nicaragua, where violent protests attempted to topple the country’s elected president, Daniel Ortega. The article went on to say that “it’s becoming more and more clear that U.S. support has helped play a role in nurturing the current uprisings.”

Uyghur “re-education camp” allegations against NED target China

Another top target of NED and its Washington partners is China.

The US has worked closely with Uyghur Muslims, an ethnic minority group that has faced discrimination at the hands of the Chinese government. As the confrontation with Beijing deepens, the US has attempted to use Uyghurs as a bargaining piece to ratchet up the pressure on Beijing.

At the ceremony, I met Omer Kanat, chairman of the World Uyghur Congress — a group funded almost entirely by the NED.

“The Chinese authorities have put more than one million Uyghurs in re-education camps, it is very similar to concentration camps,” Kanat claimed to me.

He said that his organization, a top NED grantee, had supplied much of the information the US government and Western media rely on about the alleged camps.

The World Uyghur Congress is funded largely by the NED and has helped introduce the story of Chinese re-education camps to the American public.

Indeed, along with the US-funded Radio Free Asia, which Kanat used to work for, Kanat’s US-funded Uighur Congress is responsible for widely reported claims that as much as one tenth of the Muslim population of China’s Xianjing province has been placed in re-education camps.

The numbers of Uighurs said to be housed in these camps vary wildly, from 120,000 to 500,000 to a million. And the sources invariably boil down to US-backed media like Radio Free Asia.

Western analysts concede that testimonies from actual camp prisoners is rare. One of the few detailed testimonies arrived through an anonymous source.

Kanat himself conceded that he did not know how many people were in the alleged camps, and that he was relying on “Western media estimates” to make his claim of one million.

The disturbing but still-unverified allegations about Uyghur re-education camps have added momentum to a new Trump national defense doctrine that singles out China as a top American adversary. With help from pundits like late night comedian John Oliver, who also echoed the claims of US-government backed sources on Xianjang, Washington appears to be hoping that a carefully crafted PR campaign will reverse Americans’ generally favorable attitude towards China.

Making Mongolia neoliberal

The NED has also turned up the heat on China by interfering in its neighbor’s elections.

Back in 1996, the International Republican Institute (IRI) — an NED partner group — helped propel right-wing libertarian parties to victory in Mongolia, dealing a death blow to the country’s socialist tradition and driving record levels of economic inequality.

At the NED ceremony, I spoke to an IRI staffer, Alexander Moree, who presented the group’s work in Mongolia as a blueprint for a post-communist North Korea.

“So we took a group of defector-scholars over to Mongolia to study their transition,” Moree explained to me. “So Mongolia’s transition, if you don’t know, it was a peaceful democratic transition, there was no fighting, there was no revolution. But it developed a successful free market economy with peaceful elections without any dramatic turnover of power. It’s more of an island of democracy in Asia, and that’s more the model we want to encourage the North Koreans to pursue.”

“So like, transitioning from a socialist economy to a free market economy is paramount?” I asked him.

“Exactly.”

The meddling machine McCain built

The IRI has been led for years by Senator John McCain, who turned the group into what the New York Times called “a revolving door for lobbyists and out-of-power Republicans that offers big donors a way of helping both the party and the institute’s chairman.”

Carl Gershman founded the National Endowment for Democracy. He’s neoconservative activist with roots in Trotskyism. Today, Gershman still embraces the ideology of permanent worldwide revolution.

But with peace looming on the Korean peninsula, Gershman was forced to reassure his grantees that their work for regime change would not become irrelevant.

“There is some concern among the activists that the focus on the nuclear issue today will reduce pressure for human rights in North Korea and maybe even reduce support for the kind of work that is being done by the organizations that we have honored this evening,” Gershman said. “I want to assure our friends that NED’s support is solid.”

In the Longworth hallway outside of the NED event, I asked Nancy Pelosi if she thought the US government should stop funding organizations that seeking regime change against North Korea if it signed a peace treaty with the South.

“I don’t know if that’s what they do,” Pelosi responded, referring to the NED and regime change, “but I do know they promote human rights where ever they [are].”

I then asked if she considered NED activities to be the same sort of foreign meddling Russia is accused of carrying out in the US.

“I’m not going into any hypotheticals,” she said, dismissing the issue out of hand.

America remains obsessed with the specter of Russian interference and Moscow’s supposed active measures against our political system. But at the same time, official Washington celebrates its own taxpayer funded meddling machine as an engine of “democracy promotion.” Does the American public know what’s being done with its money, and will there ever be a public debate on the consequences of Washington’s regime change efforts?

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Max Blumenthal is an award-winning journalist and the author of books including best-selling Republican Gomorrah: Inside the Movement That Shattered the Party, Goliath: Life and Loathing in Greater Israel, The Fifty One Day War: Ruin and Resistance in Gaza, and The Management of Savagery, which will be published later this year by Verso.

All images in this article are from the author.

US Leaders Aid and Abet War Crimes in Yemen

August 23rd, 2018 by Prof. Marjorie Cohn

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US leaders who provided military support to the Saudi-led coalition that bombed civilians in Yemen this August could be charged with aiding and abetting the commission of war crimes under customary international law, which is part of US law.

The 500-pound laser-guided MK 82 bomb, which the coalition dropped on August 9, killed 51 people, including 40 children. The bombing constituted a war crime.

“They came to the hospital in cars and ambulances. Dozens of children with an array of grisly wounds,” Marta Rivas Blanco, a nurse from the International Committee of the Red Cross who works at the Al Talh hospital, wrote in the Guardian. “Some were screaming, some were scared, many went straight to the morgue.”

Lockheed Martin, one of the leading US defense contractors, manufactured the bomb, which was part of a US-Saudi arms deal last year.

Aiding and Abetting a War Crime

According to customary international law, aiding and abetting a war crime requires three elements: 1) a person or entity committed a war crime; 2) another actor committed an act that had a substantial effect on the commission of the war crime; and 3) the other actor knew that the act would assist, or have a substantial likelihood of assisting, the commission of the war crime. All three of those elements were present in the August 9 bombing.

First, the coalition committed a war crime. Willful killing and the targeting of civilians constitute grave breaches of the Fourth Geneva Convention. The US War Crimes Act defines grave breaches of Geneva as war crimes.

Targeting a busload of children in a busy marketplace is a war crime. The Saudi government called it “a legitimate military action,” claiming to have targeted “Houthi leaders who were responsible for recruiting and training young children, and then sending them to battlefields.”

Second, US leaders provided the means to commit the war crime. The purchase of the bomb was part of an arms deal with Saudi Arabia that the US State Department sanctioned. In May 2017, on his first stop abroad after taking office, Trump signed a $110 billion arms deal with the Saudi king in Riyadh.

Third, the US military knew that supplying the bomb to the coalition was likely to result in the commission of a war crime. A similar bomb killed 155 people in a funeral hall in Yemen in October 2016.

After the 2016 bombing, the Obama administration, citing “human rights concerns,” banned the sale to Saudi Arabia of precision-guided military technology. That ban was reversed the same month Trump made his deal in Riyadh, and the US government reauthorized the provision of Paveway laser-guided munitions to Saudi Arabia.

US Assistance Facilitates More War Crimes

The August 9 school bus bombing was one of over 50 airstrikes on civilian vehicles by the coalition so far in 2018. Amnesty International has documented 36 coalition airstrikes, many of which may constitute war crimes.

On April 23, 2018, Saudi aircraft dropped cluster bombs made by Raytheon on a wedding in Yemen, killing 22 people, including children. When they explode, cluster bombs scatter tiny bomblets. Some remain unexploded and detonate when people accidentally step on them or children pick them up off the ground. These weapons are banned by the Convention on Cluster Munitions, which prohibits all use, stockpiling, production and transfer of cluster munitions.

The Saudi war on Yemen could not continue without support from the United States and the United Kingdom, according to Bruce Riedel of the Brookings Institution.

US military assistance to the coalition includes in-air refueling of Saudi and United Arab Emirates aircraft, logistical support and intelligence sharing. But US involvement in the war escalated late last year when a team of Green Berets secretly arrived at the border between Yemen and Saudi Arabia.

At least 6,385 civilians have been killed and 10,000 injured since the war began. Airstrikes by the Saudi-led coalition account for over 60 percent of the civilian casualties.

Yemen has one of the world’s largest humanitarian crises. At least 22.2 million people — and nearly all Yemeni children — need humanitarian aid, and it is suspected that more than 1 million people have cholera. Nevertheless, the coalition restricts aid and imports of food, medicine and fuel.

On March 15, 2018, the UN Security Council issued a Presidential Statement calling for full humanitarian and commercial access and all parties to comply with their international humanitarian law obligations.

Congress Condemns US Role in Yemen

The US House of Representatives unanimously passed a non-binding resolution in November 2017, calling on the US military forces to withdraw from “unauthorized hostilities” in Yemen. It stated that US military aid to the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen was not sanctioned by prior congressional authorizations. The resolution condemned the targeting of civilians and urged all parties to “increase efforts to adopt all necessary and appropriate measures to prevent civilian casualties and increase humanitarian access.”

On August 13, 2018, Trump signed the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which contains an allocation of $717 billion for the US military. In that legislation, Congress included several provisions to achieve accountability for US support of the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Section 1274 directs the Defense Department to conduct a review of whether US or Saudi coalition forces in Yemen are violating US or international law.

But when Trump signed the bill, he attached a signing statement saying his administration would treat the provisions of section 1274 “consistent with the President’s constitutional authority to withhold information, the disclosure of which could impair national security, foreign relations, law enforcement, or the performance of the President’s constitutional duties.”

Section 1290 requires the secretary of state to certify that Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates are making good faith efforts to end the civil war in Yemen; taking appropriate measures to alleviate the humanitarian crisis; undertaking demonstrable actions to reduce the risk of harm to civilians; complying with laws regarding military purchases from the US; and taking appropriate steps to avoid disproportionate harm to civilians.

Trump also attached a signing statement to that provision, saying any certification which section 1290 purported to require would have to be “consistent with the President’s constitutional authorities as Commander in Chief and as the sole representative of the Nation in foreign affairs.”

Calls for an Independent Investigation

UN Secretary-General António Guterres condemned the August 9 bombing and called for an independent investigation. Saudi Arabia says it will mount its own investigation. And US Secretary of Defense James Mattis vowed to send a three-star general to Riyadh to help the Saudis in their investigation.

“What Yemenis need is really an independent investigation, which has been put forward in the UN twice already and has been rejected by the Saudi-led coalition and the US unfortunately has provided cover for the Saudi-led coalition at the UN,” Shireen al-Adeimi, Yemeni activist-scholar and assistant professor at Michigan State University, told Amy Goodman on Democracy Now!

Following the August 9 bombing, three letters written by Congress members from the House and Senate requested investigations, explanations and briefings about US support for the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.

Thirty House Democrats signed a letter to Defense Secretary James Mattis, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, expressing “deepening concern regarding the humanitarian crisis in Yemen” and requesting a briefing for all House members during the first week of September “on the policy objectives of the United States with respect to Yemen.” In the letter, the Congress members cited sections 1274 and 1290 of the NDAA.

In addition, Rep. Ted Lieu (D-California) wrote a letter asking the Defense Department’s inspector general to initiate an investigation to determine whether coalition operations in Yemen are violating US and/or international law. Lieu said he was

“deeply concerned that continued U.S. refueling, operational support functions, and weapons transfers could qualify as aiding and abetting these potential war crimes.”

Lieu made reference to the conclusion of the UN panel of experts on Yemen that all parties to the conflict, “including the U.S.-supported Coalition, were implicated in ‘widespread violations’ of international law and that measures to minimize civilian casualties remained ‘largely ineffective.’”

And Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) wrote to Gen. Joseph Votel, head of US Central Command (Centcom), asking him to clarify his assertion that Centcom cannot determine whether the United States provided assistance for coalition strikes resulting in civilian deaths.

In her letter, Warren cited an article by The Intercept, quoting an intelligence report with “what appear to be comments from an American intelligence analyst” who oversaw a May 2018 strike from a coalition command center in Riyadh, which suggested that US military observers possess detailed information about how strikes are carried out.

The bottom line is that Congress must immediately end all US involvement in the war in Yemen and refuse to appropriate funding for arms sales to Saudi Arabia and the UAE while they continue bombing and blockading Yemen.

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Copyright Truthout. Reprinted with permission.

Marjorie Cohn is professor emerita at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, former president of the National Lawyers Guild, deputy secretary general of the International Association of Democratic Lawyers and an advisory board member of Veterans for Peace. An updated edition of her book, Drones and Targeted Killing: Legal, Moral, and Geopolitical Issues, was recently published. She is a frequent contributor to Global Research.


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The Globalization of War: America’s “Long War” against Humanity

Michel Chossudovsky

The “globalization of war” is a hegemonic project. Major military and covert intelligence operations are being undertaken simultaneously in the Middle East, Eastern Europe, sub-Saharan Africa, Central Asia and the Far East. The U.S. military agenda combines both major theater operations as well as covert actions geared towards destabilizing sovereign states.

ISBN Number: 978-0-9737147-6-0
Year: 2015
Pages: 240 Pages

List Price: $22.95

Special Price: $15.00

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Samir Amin, already a major figure in the political economy of development, was the author of the first article in the first ever issue of ROAPE, in 1974.  As the editorial noted, the article was ‘a summary of his basic model of the workings of the international system as a whole, presented at length in his two recent books’ (the two- volume Accumulation on a World Scale, Monthly Review Press, 1974). The editorial continued:

It provides us with an ideal starting point: a general view of international capitalism, identifying the crucial differences in the dynamic of accumulation at the centre and at the periphery: differences which promote development in the metropoles and inhibit it in Africa. It is our hope that his work, which represents the most significant African contribution to the debate on underdevelopment, will be studied widely and discussed critically.

And so it was. Some of the subsequent issues of ROAPE in the 1970s, as well as books and articles in other journals published in that period endorsed or took issue implicitly or explicitly with his model of accumulation. The idea that a home grown capitalism was developing  in African countries contested any view of the world in which Amin’s centre was inhibiting any possibility of, in his phrase, a ‘self-centred system’  in which value is transferred from the periphery to the centre through a process of unequal exchange where returns to labour at the periphery are less than returns to labour at the centre. Cheap labour produces the exports of raw material, both agricultural and mineral, to a centre where the value of labour embodied in the final product is higher. In his overall model, the centre produces the capital goods that produce the consumer goods for their mass markets. The periphery produces export goods which pay for the imports of what are relatively luxury products for a small elite class within the peripheral economies. Even if some of those consumer goods are produced within the peripheral economies, their markets are small and the capital goods needed for that production have to be imported from the centre.

Re-reading the analysis in Amin’s article is a sobering experience: fast forwarding to the present, little has changed. Even if there were countries which tried in some way to break with the system – Nyerere’s Tanzania with its policy of Socialism and Self-reliance, for example – they never broke or were allowed to break with the system of capital accumulation in which profits found their way to the developed economies of what we now term the ‘Global North’.  Of course there has been some development of capitalism in Africa but this has not resulted in significant structural changes to economies. They are still largely dependent on the vagaries of world commodity markets, exporting raw materials and importing capital and consumer goods directed to a domestic market of higher income consumers, whose income derives from the high end of commodity trading, financial activities and their servicing, and those with larger farms and estates. Meanwhile large proportions of the African populations languish on or below the poverty line. The self-centred economy described in Amin’s article and books, has as its ‘central determining relationship’ that of the production of capital goods for the production of consumer goods for the mass market. In the periphery on the other hand, that relationship is a ‘peripheral- dependent’ between earning export income in order to consume ‘luxury’ goods. In the capitalist developed countries this system had been achieved in Amin’s approach, by a ‘social contract’ between increasingly monopolised capital and organised labour which allowed for some degree of ‘planning’ to avoid the cyclical fluctuations associated with capitalism before the second world war and especially between the first and second world wars. Amin defines the underlying contradiction of capitalism which causes these fluctuations as one between what the system allows to be produced and what it prevents, in its search for profit, people to consume, but argues that ensuing cyclical fluctuations have been moderated by the ‘social contract’.

However, in analysing the system in this way, Amin rejected the prevailing view in both the capitalist ‘West’ and the socialist ‘East’ the idea that development entailed catching up with the developed capitalist countries. His key insight was to argue that given the way the global system worked, countries such as those of Africa were not going to achieve the status of a developed country by imitating their development trajectory, or by concentrating on their raw material export base and slowly industrialise by importing capital goods. The history of the world was not about followers catching up with leaders but about dominant civilizations being ‘transcended’ by peripheral ones as the former decline and the peripheral overtake them with different social organizations. In this case a socialist self-centred development would eventually transcend moribund capitalism. This required an overall strategy of ‘self-reliance’ but one built up from popular bases ‘becoming aware of reality’ (Amin’s emphasis) and allowed for the increasing domination of a ‘self-centred’ system.  Of course the political activity required to achieve this in the face of an active and global imperialism has and continues to be the key issue, and not just in the periphery. As Amin observed:

It is quite appropriate to describe the task of transition thus: transition from the capitalist world system, based on hierarchies of nations, to a world socialist system, which cannot be made up of relatively isolated and autarkic ‘socialist’ nations. Here the true solidarity of the peoples involved in the struggle for reshaping the world comes to the fore, due to the limited prospects for progress in the Third World where the conditions for transcending advanced capitalism express nothing more than the weakness of the forces of socialism at the centre of the system. (ROAPE, 1974:20)

He regarded the China of the Cultural Revolution as addressing this issue and indeed although China developed in a way that Amin may not have foreseen there is some basis for the view that it did first ensure an autocentric development path, only engaging with global capitalism when it was in a strong position to do so. Much has changed in China since 1974, as is the case across the world. We are now possibly in an even less favourable phase of world history. The contradictions of capitalism at the centre are being resolved in ways which inhibit the periphery even further from a socialist self-centred development. In the past four decades we have lived through the triumph and the crisis of neoliberalism, the global financial monopolisation of capital, the colonisation of the State by private capital principally by the privatisation of state assets, and the liberalisation of the labour market with stricter anti-union laws and transnational freedom of movement resulting in the suppression of wages with the consequent increased social inequality and deprivation. Africa economies and the rest of peripheral capitalism have been ruthlessly subject to neoliberal policies which have made them even less able, even if willing, to pursue a self-centred path.

These developments are fundamentally the reaction to the falling profit rates of the 1970s as wages, after pressure from organised labour, took an increasing share of the value of output. Capital’s recovery of value from labour points to the central contradiction of capital that Amin set out in his article:  that the only way value can be realised in a mass consumption market is for the masses to have the power to consume.  As consumers’ incomes were squeezed under neoliberalism, this contradiction was resolved by increasing credit to consumers which led to the financial crash of 2007/8 and can only lead to another financial crash, which some believe is imminent. Underlying these developments is increased automation, computerization and robotization which reduces the need for physical labour, creates ever cheaper durable consumption goods and leads to a contradiction between technology and the way society is organised, or as Marx would have put it, between the productive forces and the relations of production.

Samir Amin’s later writings (see for example, The Implosion of Capitalism. Samir Amin, 2013) clearly recognised the changes that the world had seen since 1974 outlined above, but his conception of the period since 1974 as a long crisis of capitalism and his advocacy of peripheral countries ‘de-linking’ from the global economy, more fully discussed in John Saul’s contribution and touched on by Ray Bush, do find their origin in his work four decades earlier. It is a mark of the power of his original insights that they are as relevant today as they were then.

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This article was originally published on ROAPE.

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Consequences of Childhood Chemical Injury

August 23rd, 2018 by E. Margaret Stuart O’Nan

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Individuals severely injured by chemicals during childhood are often disabled for life. However, many challenges children with chemical disabilities must overcome are frequently overlooked. These include; being denied an education, treatment by physicians who believe chemical injuries to be psychological in origin, and having their families torn apart. Educational and medical records, interviews, and published independent studies showing health and social ramifications, demonstrate these unheeded and especially detrimental effects. It is imperative that these neglected consequences compel adequate precautionary provisions, preventing predictable and exponential increases in chemical injuries and ensuring correct treatment and invaluable disability assistance for the chemically disabled.

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Many individuals severely injured by chemicals during childhood are disabled. Yet, it is rarely recognized that these chemical disabilities require different accommodation than other more well-known disabilities. Sadly, obtaining the disability access necessary for these individuals is often very difficult to impossible and often precludes them from their education as well as numerous other activities. There is the added challenge of finding knowledgeable medical treatment, as well as the humiliating incidence of misdiagnosis and hostility when faced with a physician that is ignorant or misinformed. There is evidence that family strife and divorce increase after a home is contaminated or lost to environmental contamination. These effects are not adequately comprehended or addressed by physicians, school systems, legal systems, or government; and the consequences are especially harsh for injured children, as well as their families.

The intention of this poster and paper is to demonstrate the acute need for education of physicians, disability coordinators, teachers and governments regarding chemical injury, to fully inform lawmakers and risk assessors of the true cost and disability that result from the use of unsafe chemicals and portray the immense need for further research.

Nine individuals, aged 2 to 58 years old, injured during their childhoods, were surveyed using identical questions. The resultant evidence is supported by citing relevant literature.  The percentages resulting from the survey were calculated rounding to the nearest hundredth place, excluding participants “Not Applicable” responses.

Elementary and high schools are traditionally considered to be places of learning; where parents entrust their children to the care of teachers, councilors and administrators devoted exclusively to the education and welfare of their pupils. However, these institutions become the antithesis of these wholesome goals as soon as disability assistance is required.  If the disability is uncommon, these disabled children face more difficult obstacles. Obstinacy and the fear of setting precedent constantly take priority over the welfare and education of these disabled children all over the United States. Seventy-one percent (71%) of respondents reported that their schools were not willing to accommodate their disability and refused to accommodate their disability. One-hundred percent (100%) of respondents reported that their schools proposed situations that would have been hazardous to their heath and that when they attempted these situations that they sustained health damage. One-hundred percent (100%) of the respondents also report difficulty obtaining accommodation for testing for required and standardized tests, even when the burden of home schooling or distance learning had been assumed by the often disabled parent or parents. Though atypical, these accommodations normally could be easily implemented with a little expense and a modicum of cooperation from the schools. One proposal using computers and video conferencing to link classrooms to the home of a disabled child was not even considered by the school when the parent of the disabled child offered to donate the required funds. Chemical Intolerance is recognized as a disabling condition by the United States Social Security Administration and as such its accommodation by schools is required by United States federal law. Because there is little monetary incentive, few lawyers are willing to represent these students.  In most cases pro bono attorneys either do not exist or are not familiar with education law. This leaves parents who are often financially stressed and homeless due to contamination and physically ill from the injuring chemicals, attempting the daunting process of finding safe housing, while they must simultaneously struggle to provide an education for their chronically ill children on their own.  Often seriously ill parents have no choice but to provide a safe alternative to the free public education to which they are legally entitled from their government. 

The individuals injured during childhood also face a great deal of uncertainty in their future, even when they manage to advance to higher education. While 86% report that they have, or intend to complete college level courses, one-hundred percent (100%) report that they are not being accommodated in their colleges in any way. One-hundred percent (100%) report that they would have preferred a different college if they had been assured accommodation as well as chosen a different field of study had they been sure of accommodation in the workplace. There is also a great deal of disillusionment, one-hundred (100%) report that they feel their employment prospects are not good and that they are concerned about gaining accommodation from their prospective college or workplace.

In addition to the previous challenges, these individuals must try to find physicians educated in chemical injury. There are very few qualified and knowledgeable physicians who are familiar with chemical injuries. Therefore, chronically ill individuals are often forced to seek medical treatment from unqualified and consequentially dangerous physicians.  Frequently, even well meaning physicians dispense hazardous recommendations. Seventy-eight percent (78%) of respondents report that they have had an uneducated physician make harmful recommendations. Dr. Jeannette Sherman states,

“The ability to recognize chemically caused disease and injury has come to the forefront because it is necessary not only to treat these conditions, but, more important, to anticipate the consequences of chemical exposures, and to prevent them.”1

While Dr. Marc Lappé reports,

“Childhood or even fetal exposure to carcinogens can amplify the noxious effect of certain chemicals.”2

 Even worse, often misinformed and unqualified physicians proceed to diagnose these maladies as psychological and berate their young patients for being malingerers.  In seventy-eight percent (78%) of responses there were reports of physician abuses, such as suggesting that the respondents were not ill or disabled, as well as being treated with disrespect. Ironically, these doctors either do not genuinely believe their own misdiagnosis, or truly feel those afflicted with mental illness can be healed by antagonistic and unkind behavior. This type of treatment by a physician from whom one hopes to receive succor would test the emotions of an adult, but when children are confronted by these “respected adults” it can have severe consequences. One-hundred percent (100%) reported that this had a bad affect on their self-esteem and confidence, and that the experiences still influenced them today. In the words of one individual “Even as a well-adjusted adult with a chronic illness, I have found myself nearly suicidal after certain doctor appointments.” 

The social consequences must also be considered. One-hundred percent (100%) of respondents reported that they were precluded from typical childhood activities because of the chemical exposures. Eighty-three (83%) reported that they felt this affected their social lives negatively. Seventy-one percent (71%) had to leave their home because of the contamination by the injuring chemical. In conversation with Dr. Stephen Kroll-Smith, head of Sociology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, it became clear that what is generally found in families that have had their homes contaminated, is that the experience, although to some extent contingent on the health of their pre-contamination familial relationship, does exert considerable stress on the families relationships. Additionally, there is a correlation with a gender response, that shows women are more likely to be concerned about the contamination, more active in its identification and the evacuation or removal if possible; men, however, in general, seem less concerned about the often elusive and barely discernable contaminants.  The convergence of these outlooks adds strife to the family.

In conclusion, I believe that these results show the dire need for disability accommodation for those who are chemically disabled during childhood. Competent medical diagnosis and treatment with adequate precautionary provisions will serve to halt these unnecessary childhood injuries.  There also is a great need for further research into how this little understood disability affects children.

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Notes

1. Sherman, J. D., Chemical Exposure and Disease. Princeton Scientific Publishing Company, Inc. Princeton, New Jersey, 1994.

2. Lappé, Marc, Chemical Deception: The Toxic Threat to Health and the Environment. Sierra Club Books, San Francisco, 1991.

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It doesn’t take rocket science to discover what I did in Namibia. There, I met common people, in slums and universities. I met UN experts and Namibian government officials. I undusted various archive documents. I consulted scholars in neighboring South Africa.

In Africa, Namibian history is no secret. Nothing is taboo. This is what is common knowledge in Windhoek or in Cape Town in neighboring South Africa:

The Germans drove into the desert, and then exterminated, over 80% of the entire nation – the Herero. The Nama people lost around 50% of its population. The concentration and extermination camps were built; monstrous medical experiments on human beings were perpetrated. German ‘doctors’including those who were working on ‘the pure race doctrine’ in Namibia (the doctrine later used by the Nazis in Europe), subsequently ‘educated’ many German racist physicians, including the notorious ‘Angel of Death’ – Mengele. The most notorious doctor, who experimented on human beings in Africa, was Eugen Fischer.

Hanging, Herero Holocaust

Not surprisingly, the first German governor of the colony was the father of Hitler’s deputy, Herman Goering.

The holocaust in Africa is directly connected to the holocaust in Europe.

Almost the official, and a thousand times repeated lie related to the birth of German Nazism, a lie that is even taught in many European schools, would easily collapse like a house of cards if Namibian history were to get closely examined. The lie, in different variations, sounds like this: “Germany, deeply humiliated after WWI, facing terrible economic crises, suddenly went amok, got radicalized and ended up bringing extreme-right nationalist bigots to power.”

Do you recall the official Western line about a ‘peaceful Germany, a land of scholars and philosophers; a nation which shocked itself and the world, by suddenly turning to extreme violence and mass murder, abandoning its noble traditions?’ Such reasoning would stand only if the Others (non-white, non-Europeans), were not considered as human beings.

The Namibian holocaust (but also to some extent, the mass murder that Germany committed against the people of today’s Tanzania) shows that Germany clearly has a history of genocidal behavior, and that it committed, in the 1930’s and 1940’s, on its own continent, precisely what it had been doing much earlier, in Africa.

Liberation struggle for Namibia

Obviously, all that was not just about Nazism (there were no Nazis yet, during the holocaust in Africa), but about the entire culture and mindset of the German people.

Fortunately, the silence has not been complete. Two monstrous events have been compared and linked together. Sporadically, the truth about the Namibian horror past has been appearing, even in the mainstream press.

On 21 October 2012, the Canadian daily newspaper, The Globe and Mail, reported:

In the bush and scrub of central Namibia, the descendants of the surviving Herero live in squalid shacks and tiny plots of land. Next door, the descendants of German settlers still own vast properties of 20,000 hectares or more. It’s a contrast that infuriates many Herero, fuelling a new radicalism here.

Every year the Herero hold solemn ceremonies to remember the first genocide of history’s bloodiest century, when German troops drove them into the desert to die, annihilating 80 percent of their population through starvation, thirst, and slave labor in concentration camps. The Nama, a smaller ethnic group, lost half of their population from the same persecution.

New research suggests that the German racial genocide in Namibia from 1904 to 1908 was a significant influence on the Nazis in the Second World War. Many of the key elements of Nazi ideology – from racial science and eugenics, to the theory of Lebensraum (creating ‘living space’ through colonization) – were promoted by German military veterans and scientists who had begun their careers in South-West Africa, now Namibia, during the genocide…”

In Windhoek, the capital of Namibia, a European expert working for the UN, a friend of mine, spoke to me, like almost everyone there, passionately, but without daring to reveal her name:

The first concentration camps on earth were built in this part of Africa… They were built by the British Empire in South Africa and by Germans here, in Namibia. Shark Island on the coast was the first concentration camp in Namibia, used to murder the Nama people, but now it is just a tourist destination – you would never guess that there were people exterminated there. Here in the center of Windhoek, there was another extermination camp…”

Acknowledging its crimes against the Jews (but not always against the Roma people), Germany maintains as monuments, all former concentration camps, including Buchenwald and Dachau. But there is absolutely nothing it does to honor the memory of its victims in other parts of the world, particularly Africa.

Racism is one of the essential characteristics of Nazism. Isn’t it a clear expression of racism to treat the victims of the same crime differently, simply because of the color of their skin?

*

Now the Namibian people are suing Germany in a court in New York City.

It appears they have had enough. Enough of waiting, of humiliation. For years there has been no compensation to the families of the victims, and no serious compensation to the nation.

For years, the Namibian government has been negotiating at least for the return of all skulls of the local people, which were used in German laboratories and by German scientists to prove the superiority of the white race, as well as ‘sub-humanness’ of other races, including the blacks. German colonialists decapitated countless Herero and Nama people, and at least 300 heads were transported to German laboratories for ‘scientific research’. Many were later ‘discovered’ in the Medical History Museum of the Charite hospital in Berlin, and at Freiburg University.

Insults were added to injury. Until now, the German settlers enjoy a repulsively lavish lifestyle on land that was stolen from the Herero and Nama people. Many descendants of the victims of the Southwest African holocaust are now living in overcrowded slums.

German and other Central European tourists are ‘in love with Namibia’; for its dunes, spectacular and pristine coast, as well as for the white German enclaves. I asked several of them about the past. Most of them did not know and seemed not to be interested to learn.

But the world may ‘discover’ the Namibian past, very soon, as Western imperialism is crumbling and oppressed people are rising to their feet.

There is where many of the Herero and Nama people live now

Demands for compensation and acknowledgments of the horrific colonialist past are now flowing from Pakistan, India and other countries that were devastated by European racism and imperialism. The Namibian case may set the entire planet into motion, as it is almost the entire world that had been devastated by European colonialism.

The US courts may not resolve much, but what is happening there is symbolic, and just a beginning.

AFP reported on July 31st:

US District Judge Laura Taylor Swain presided over the one-hour hearing in a New York federal court but concluded the session by saying that she would not rule immediately. She also did not set a date for a decision.

The German government wants the lawsuit thrown out on the grounds of state immunity from prosecution. The Herero and Nama groups are seeking reparations for the genocide of their peoples under German colonial rule…

The Herero and Nama people brought the class-action lawsuit last year, seeking reparations over the tens of thousands killed in the massacres.”

There will be no easy victory for the Herero and Nama people. They have no lobby in the United States, and even back in Namibia, they are poor. They own no international media, no international banks or corporations.

But they are right in demanding justice!

The renowned Canadian international lawyer, Christopher Black, declared for this essay:

“The European colonial powers imposed their dominance over other peoples through war and terror and committed violence on a vast scale. Their actions constitute the war crime of aggression and crimes against humanity, murder assault and slavery. Many of those nations are still trying to escape and recover from the occupation and destruction imposed on them and should be compensated by those colonial powers for the damage done. Meaningless apologies are not enough. There is legal precedent for the requirement that the colonial powers pay reparations to those peoples as Germany had to do regarding its genocide against the Jews. The determination of the amount and in what form it should be paid would be a contentious issue but the victims of colonialism have a moral and legal right to compensation for the crimes committed against them and the lasting damage done.”

Percentage-wise, the Herero and Nama nations lost more people than any other race, nation or ethnic group, during the entire 20th Century.

Without understanding what they suffered, what was done to them, there is no way to understand what took place right before and during World War II.

The entire anti-imperialist world has a clear obligation to support the cause of the Herero and Nama people in their quest for justice. Enough of ‘broken links’ and outright lies. Justice has to be the same for all. Nations that were, or are victims of Western genocides, massacres and colonialist plunder, should unite and declare loudly and clearly: “Never again!”

*

Andre Vltchek is philosopher, novelist, filmmaker and investigative journalist. He’s a creator of Vltchek’s World in Word and Images, and a writer that penned a number of books, including Revolutionary Optimism, Western Nihilism. He writes especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook” where this article was originally published. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Note

In 2014, after I published my report about Namibia, exposing the German ‘semi-denial’ that it had committed a Holocaust in its former Southwest African colony; a renowned German university sent me a letter. I paraphrase here, but the essence of the letter is kept intact:

Dear Professor Vltchek, we are impressed by your research and your conclusions, and we would like to translate and publish your groundbreaking analyses in German language. Unfortunately, we cannot afford any payment…”

It was one of the major universities in the country, with tremendous budgets and an international reputation.

I replied, asking why, with all those scholars and academics, with PhDs and experts, they had never sent a team of experts to Namibia, to investigate one of the most horrid crimes committed in the 20th Century? I wanted to know, why they would suddenly want to rely on the work of a foreigner, an outsider, an internationalist who refuses to call himself an academic (for me it is now a totally discredited term)? Murdering the Herero and Nama people in Southwest Africa by Germans was, after all, the key for comprehending what happened several decades later, in Europe itself, during the Holocaust that Germany went on to commit against the Jewish and Roma people.

The university never replied. I suppose they sensed that I was ‘dragging them’ into some extremely dangerous waters. They did not want to ‘be there’; they preferred the safe, calm waters, where some foreign left-wing intellectual writes something, they translate and publish it, putting a disclaimer that this doesn’t necessarily reflect the position of their respected journal and the university. As far as they were concerned, taboos should remain taboos, and the dunes of Namibia should be stirred just a little bit, for a limited intellectual discussion only. No storm, please!

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Donald Trump has in just over two years abandoned the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), ditched the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP), withdrawn the US from the Paris climate agreement, and unilaterally removed American participation in the Iranian nuclear agreement known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

Some of these decisions have undoubtedly received popular support from far beyond America’s shores. Washington’s withdrawal from the TPP was welcomed by the People’s Republic of China. During the Obama presidency, Xi Jinping strongly protested the exclusion of Beijing from the TPP. In the case of the TTIP, European allies for the most part were strongly opposed to the treaty because European multinationals would be subjected to sanctions and fines from American authorities.

The climate agreement, placing important limits on CO2 emissions as well as imposing regulations governing pollution, has been strongly resisted by US energy oligarchs. The withdrawal from the Paris accord has satisfied a substantial proportion of Trump’s donors linked to the hydrocarbon industry and beyond. Finally, the abandonment of the JCPOA was praised by Riyadh and Tel Aviv, two essential partners in Trump’s domestic and foreign strategies.

Observing the consequences of these political choices in the months since, it is easy to see how the world has reacted in a more or less similar fashion, which has been by ignoring the United States and emphasizing cooperation amongst themselves. The TPP, with its agreements between 11 countries, has remained in place without Washington. The development of relations between ASEAN and China continues on without Washington’s participation. While the TTIP has been halted, the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA), is in its final approval stage, an agreement between Canada and the EU that bypasses the American-inspired TTIP. The Iran deal remains in force despite Washington’s cowardly withdrawal, and the five countries remaining in the Iranian nuclear agreement have every intention of respecting the JCPOA, which had been negotiated over a number of years.

In addition to withdrawing from the above treaties, Washington has started a serious trade war and is imposing tariffs on allies and enemies alike. From Russia to the EU, as well as China, South Korea, Japan and Turkey, everyone is facing the unprecedented decision to apply tariffs on trade. In Trump’s mind, this is the only way to balance a trade deficit that has now reached more than 500 billion dollars.

In addition to the dismantled treaties and imposition of tariffs, Trump strongly criticized some pillars of the post-World War II liberal order, such as NATO and America’s European allies themselves. The suggestion that NATO may be obsolete has shaken the European capitals to their core, even as the Russian Federation may see it as signalling the prospect of positive relations with the United States. Later it was understood that Trump’s strategy was to present himself before his electors with tangible achievements, in this case a substantial increase in military spending by NATO countries in Europe. Trump wants a commitment of 2% of GDP to be spent on defense, and NATO’s leaders are now agreeing on the need to invest more money.

Finally, the devastating blow came with the abandonment of the Iranian nuclear agreement, creating significant tensions with European allies. Washington has decided to impose sanctions on companies that do business with Tehran from November 2018. The EU immediately passed a law to shield EU companies from American fines, but many French and German companies appear to have already abandoned their projects in Iran, fearing Washington’s retribution.

Trump even began directly targeting historical allies, first strongly criticizing May in the UK over the slowness of Brexit, then Erdogan’s Turkey for the purchase of the S-400 system as well as the detention of an American pastor (accused of having participated in the attempted coup of 2016), and giving the green light to Saudi Arabia for its commercial and political war with Qatar, a close ally of Turkey.

In this uncertain and unprecedented environment, Donald Trump’s best friends are Israel and Saudi Arabia, with the Italian government offering a friendly face in Europe, the only big European country not opposed to The Donald. The Italian government intends to present itself in contradistinction to France and Germany, returning to influencing the European decisions. We shall come to see how valid this political path is, especially in light of what Trump will ask Conte in exchange for political support, especially with regard to Libya and on various trade and tariff issues.

Trump seems to have been outlining, over almost 24 months of his presidency, his political strategy. The neoconservatives, in the wake of 9/11, used military force in Iraq and Afghanistan, with no rival power able to stand in their way. With Obama, the strategy turned to operating under the cover of democracy and human rights, using more subtle means for bringing about regime change, such as color revolutions. It seems this general strategy continues with Trump, through the means currently available to him. US military planners nowadays must contend with an effective military force that keeps throwing a spanner in their works, Moscow returning Crimea to the Russian Federation and intervening in Syria to support the legitimate government of Syria.

Trump seems to have understood the message coming from Beijing and Moscow regarding the inviolability of their territory, their spheres of influence and their sovereignty. For this reason, Washington’s aggression seems to be focussing more on the economic arena. Trump has weaponized the dollar and is wielding it against allies and enemies alike to extract benefits for the United States. What the current administration intends to do is use the status of the dollar (already a reserve currency and the medium of exchange for such things as oil) as a weapon against adversaries and allies. And it is painful for those at the receiving end, given that the global economy revolves around Washington and the dollar.

The ability to bar European companies from operating in Iran derives from the status of the petrodollar. Washington forbids foreign banks from working with Iranian banks, effectively blocking the flow of US dollars into the country. This is aside from excluding targets from the SWIFT banking network.

To understand the consequences of these actions, it is important to note how presidents prior to Trump worked to advance American imperialism. As noted, following the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, several countries began to anticipate and plan against scenarios of American aggression. Alliances have been strengthened (Pakistan with China, India with Russia, Qatar with Turkey, Iran with Russia and China, Iran with Russia and Turkey), many issues are being slowly resolved (India and Pakistan, South Korea and North Korea) and many countries prefer to buy arms from Russia and China in order to keep American imperialism at bay.

The methodology of color revolutions, in the light of the protection now being offered by the likes of Russia and Iran, was employed in the place of direct military intervention (as occurred in Iraq and Afghanistan) in other theaters (Libya, Ukraine and Syria). After the wars in 2002 and 2003 in Iraq and Afghanistan, China, Russia and Iran drew a red line regarding Washington’s interventionism. The effectiveness of color revolutions was diminished when the Russians, the Chinese and Iranians started expelling the various NGOs funded by the likes of Soros and other globalist financiers to bring about regime change under the cover of democracy and human rights.

The outlook of Washington’s political establishment is based on military hard power that is now inferior in offensive capability than the Sino-Russo-Iranian one, ensuring the strategic independence of Eurasia and its partners (Turkey, India, Qatar, Pakistan, Lebanon, Syria, Libya, Egypt, the Philippines, etc.). In terms of color revolutions, the artifice has now been brought to light, and countries on the receiving end of such attacks can now recognize them and quickly act to forestall them, as happened in Hong Kong in 2014.

Donald Trump seems to have resorted to the only weapon left available to him, namely, the economic power of the US dollar, offering him the opportunity to shape events. It is a strategy with short-term benefits by devastating effects for Washington in the long run. Indeed, the only way to combat US financial dominance is to ditch the US dollar for other currencies. Washington’s economic power derives from the use that the world makes of the dollar. Clearly, then, Trump’s decision to use the US dollar as a weapon will cost his country dearly in the future, the dollar probably bound to lose its role as a global reserve currency. As history has shown, when a reserve currency is transferred to another currency, the empire that depended on this reserve-currency status itself went into decline. This occurred with the France and Britain, and it will likely occur with the United States.

If the S-400 militarily represents the middle finger to Washington, denying as it does US air dominance, de-dollarization is the obvious answer to Trump’s use of the US dollar as a weapon to wield against friends and enemies.

This vulnerability is a wake-up call for US allies, who have filled their pockets and state coffers with US dollars printed at zero interest rates. Just look at the situation in Turkey, with almost 100 billion dollars in foreign debt. Ankara suffers from the excessive dollarization of its economy. It thus remains vulnerable to a US dollar attack by Trump, and without Qatar coming to the rescue with 15 billion dollars worth of investment, the Turkish lira would have not been able to resist for much longer. The danger of an economic collapse is real, along the same lines as was experienced in Asia in the late 1990s through devastating financial-speculation attacks. In contrast, Moscow finds itself with a very low public debt and just 13 billion in dollar-denominated securities, continuing apace the de-dollarization of its economy.

Trump has indirectly set in motion a much needed global rebalancing. Washington’s downsizing into a smaller power will come about above all through a fundamental change at the global economic level. As long as Washington is free to print money, increase debt, exchange dollars for real goods, and remain credible to the rest of the world that continues to purchase US treasuries instead of gold as a safe haven, Trump will be free to use the US dollar as a baseball bat with which he can whack friends and opponents over the head.

The potential use of the US dollar as a baseball bat has been evident for more than a decade for Russians, Chinese and Iranians. For this reason, they have been exchanging their dollars for other currencies for years. The United States, as a declining empire, is lashing out, employing every weapon available to try and arrest its diminishing status as the world’s sole superpower. Now it is the turn of America’s allies to relinquish the dollar, coming to understand that real sovereignty is ensured through economic sovereignty.

*

Federico Pieraccini is an independent freelance writer specialized in international affairs, conflicts, politics and strategies. He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author.

Leaving Afghanistan Won’t be Easy

August 23rd, 2018 by Philip Giraldi

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Getting into Afghanistan was easy. Working with the anti-Taliban Northern Alliance, US special forces and CIA paramilitaries quickly overcame resistance leading to the fall of the capital Kabul. American Marines and Army units soon followed to finish the job. By the time I arrived in Kabul in late December 2001 both a US Embassy and CIA Station were up and running and fully staffed. Soon thereafter, the country had an interim government to be followed by Hamid Karzai as the new president, reportedly because he was able to speak good English, which made him ipso facto the best qualified candidate.

To be sure, Usama bin Laden and many Taliban escaped to Pakistan due to the pusillanimous decision making of General Tommy Franks at the battle of Tora Bora, but the United States could nevertheless have pulled up stakes at that point and left the country to the Afghans to sort out. The Bush Administration thought otherwise and decided to stick around for a while to stabilize the situation and “build democracy.” More than 100,000 American soldiers eventually wound up in the country supplemented by NATO allies to suppress any Taliban or al-Qaeda resurgence while rebuilding the Afghan Army.

That was nearly seventeen years ago and 14,000 US troops remain in country. More than 2,000 Americans and 90,000 Afghans have died in the process of nation building while more than a million more Afghans are refugees. The Afghan Army continues to struggle with a 30% annual desertion rate and some are beginning to ask how it is that a lightly armed and relatively untrained Taliban is able to engage it with success, in the process reacquiring control over more than a third of the country. And al-Qaeda is still around while ISIS has also appeared, having been largely driven out of Iraq and Syria.

Even though President Donald Trump has taken his generals’ advise and increased the number of US soldiers in Afghanistan – yet another surge – many in Washington believe that he is seeking a way out and will order a staged withdrawal before the end of the year, possibly before the November elections. If that is so, the recent talks between US diplomats and Taliban representatives are significant in that they might lead to a political settlement in which the Taliban has some designated role in a new government arrangement. Skeptics, of course, note how such agreements are not worth the paper they are written on and the Taliban will simply bide its time before eliminating its weaker coalition partners.

Those who are arguing for what would appear to be a permanent US military presence backed up by air power believe that there are several good reasons for hanging on. The basic argument is that it is essential to keep the Islamist Taliban out. It is also argued that the appearance of ISIS and persistence of al-Qaeda suggest that a genuine terrorist threat remains. And then there is the always useful geostrategic issue, namely that the increasing role of China in seeking to develop a “new silk road” through Afghanistan to the West must be monitored lest it bring about a new political alignment in central Asia. China is, of course, the over-the-horizon threat to American military hegemony that the military industrial complex dreams about to keep the money flowing into the coffers of the defense contractors and congressmen.

There are several problems with the thinking behind the permanent garrison in Afghanistan that is being promoted:

  • First of all, there are no indications that the Afghan Army will ever become more effective, meaning that whatever happens the Taliban will continue to gain strength and territory until it again becomes the Afghan government. Trying to avert that outcome by way of a money pit training program is futile.
  • Second, the terrorist threat is greatly overstated. Both al-Qaeda and ISIS are non-government actors that are in Afghanistan and Pakistan only because it is currently available. They are not friends of the Taliban and any Taliban government would not share power with them with the understanding that the US would bomb Kabul back into the stone age if it were to accommodate them.
  • And third, what China does will not be seriously impacted whether it is being watched by Washington or not. Beijing has been successful exploiting its own form of economic imperialism and it is a neighbor to Afghanistan. An empowered US Embassy backed up by a few thousand troops will not change that.

So getting out of Afghanistan is a lot harder than getting in and the US military appears to be mired in a conflict where it is most engaged in avoiding defeat. A continued large US presence in Afghanistan does little more than create a group of hostages to a policy that is not working and which has already cost trillions of borrowed dollars. It is time to end the farce right now and leave. The Afghans are a fiercely independent people who recognize an invasion and occupation by foreign armies when they see it. They successfully resisted Alexander the Great, the Mongols, the Mughal Emperors of India, the British Empire, Soviet Russia and eventually they will also outlast the United States. Time for America to realize all that and pull the plug.

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Philip M. Giraldi, Ph.D., is Executive Director of the Council for the National Interest, a 501(c)3 tax deductible educational foundation that seeks a more interests-based U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. Website is www.councilforthenationalinterest.org, address is P.O. Box 2157, Purcellville VA 20134 and its email is [email protected] He is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

Featured image is from the author.

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In America free speech, media, and academic freedoms are threatened. 

Social media, Google, and other tech giants are complicit in a campaign to suppress content conflicting with the official narrative.

What’s increasingly going on is the hallmark of totalitarian rule – controlling the message, eliminating what conflicts with it, notably on major geopolitical issues including US foreign policy.

Losing the right of free expression endangers all others. When truth-telling and dissent are considered threats to national security, free and open societies no longer exist – the slippery slope where America and other Western societies are heading.

The following headlines should scare everyone:

NYT: “Facebook Says It Removed Pages Related to ‘Inauthentic Behavior’ ”

Washington Post: “Sprawling Iranian influence operation globalizes tech’s war on disinformation”

Wall Street Journal: “Facebook Pulls Accounts Peddling Misinformation From Iran, Russia”

CNN: “Facebook takes down 652 pages after finding disinformation campaigns run from Iran and Russia”

The UK owned and controlled BBC: “Facebook and Twitter remove accounts linked to Russia and Iran campaigns”

Other Western major media had similar headlined reports. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg said hundreds of pages on its platform were removed for exhibiting signs of “ties to state-owned media” – including “activities the US government (said are) linked to Russian military intelligence” and Iran. (August 21, 2018)

Facebook deleted accounts based on information supplied by the CIA, US State and Treasury Departments, acting as an agent for the imperial state.

The same goes for Twitter, Google, YouTube, Microsoft, and other tech giants – in cahoots with Washington against the most fundamental of fundamental freedoms.

Facebook removed 652 pages. Twitter suspended 284 accounts for engaging in what it called “coordinated manipulation” – code language for truth-telling  Washington wants suppressed.

Google removed Google Plus and YouTube content – based on information supplied by the CIA-funded FireEye cybersecurity firm, Langley calling the company a “critical addition to our strategic investment portfolio for security technologies.”

According to Facebook, pages allegedly connected to Russia, Iran, and other US sanctioned countries are targeted for removal, claiming some seek to influence US midterm elections – providing no evidence proving any of the targeted pages were involved in illegal or improper activities.

FB allied with the Atlantic Council (AC) – a neocon think tank promoting NATO’s killing machine, America’s military, industrial, security, major media complex, not to mention Israel.

FB partnered with AC’s imperial geopolitical agenda to censor material labelled “foreign interference” – AC’s Digital Forensic Research Lab involved in so-called “fact-checking,” code language for flagrant censorship.

The CIA-linked FireEye said so-called “inauthentic behavior” targeted for removal includes “anti-Saudi, anti-Israeli, and pro-Palestinian themes, as well as support for specific US policies favorable to Iran, such as the US-Iran nuclear deal (JCPOA).”

In cahoots with forces in Washington, Microsoft’s so-called Digital Crimes Unit shut down 84 websites it claimed were associated with Russian hackers – no evidence cited proving it.

Its Microsoft AccountGuard initiative offers free cybersecurity protection to US political candidates and campaign offices at the federal, state and local levels.

No evidence suggests any threats to America’s political process exists – just invented ones to bash Russia.

The new normal in America and other Western societies considers anything conflicting with the official narrative on vital issues “inauthentic behavior.”

Are these nations heading toward eliminating the right of free expression altogether- falsely claiming it’s to protect national security?

It appears to be what’s going on in the West – the possible elimination of free and open societies already gravely threatened.

*

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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North America has been hit by three major earthquakes within the last 24 hours.  A magnitude 6.2 earthquake struck just off the coast of Oregon early on Wednesday, and that was followed by a magnitude 5.3 earthquake in Ometepec, Mexico that was so powerful that it was felt all the way in Mexico City.  And just a few hours ago, an enormous magnitude 6.3 earthquake hit Alaska.  The “Ring of Fire” has awakened, but up until the last 24 hours North America had largely been spared.  Something truly unusual appears to be happening to our planet, and many are deeply concerned that this rise in seismic activity could be building up to a major event.  Yesterday I reported that 144 major earthquakes had occurred over the last 7 days, but now that number has risen even higher.  I just checked, and the USGS says that the number of major earthquakes over the past 7 days has now risen to 157.  In case you were wondering, that is not normal.

Now that the west coast has been hit, the mainstream media is finally starting to take notice of all the shaking that has been going on, and some outlets are even breathlessly proclaiming that “the Big One” could soon hit California.

For example, the following comes from the Sun

A HUGE 6.3-magnitude earthquake struck off the coast of Oregon on America’s West Coast today.

The quake, which registered 188 miles from the coastal city of Bandon, has sparked fears the so-called “Big One” could hit near California.

 A 6.3-magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Oregon

A 6.3-magnitude earthquake has struck off the coast of Oregon (Source: The Sun)

Just a few weeks ago, two earthquake swarms hit the Cascadia Subduction Zone in less than a week.  So the fact that this latest earthquake hit the exact same area is definitely raising concerns about what may happen next.

One of these days the “Big One” will hit the Cascadia Subduction Zone, and the devastation will be off the charts.  Here is more from the Sun

It last struck in 1700, when it sunk the stretch by as much as 20 metres, tjhough there are no written records of the natural disaster.

The death toll from that magnitude-9 quake is unclear but it is understood to have unleashed a tsunami which travelled 5,000 miles across the Pacific to Japan.

It has been estimated that the Cascadia Subduction Zone has the potential to create a seismic event 30 times more powerful than anything that the San Andreas Fault can produce.  In fact, the head of the FEMA division that oversees Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Alaska once publicly stated that in the event of a magnitude 9.0 earthquake “everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast”

…By the time the shaking has ceased and the tsunami has receded, the region will be unrecognizable. Kenneth Murphy, who directs FEMA’s Region X, the division responsible for Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and Alaska, says, “Our operating assumption is that everything west of Interstate 5 will be toast.”

In the Pacific Northwest, everything west of Interstate 5 covers some hundred and forty thousand square miles, including Seattle, Tacoma, Portland, Eugene, Salem (the capital city of Oregon), Olympia (the capital of Washington), and some seven million people.

Are you starting to understand the gravity of the situation?

We are talking about the potential for a natural disaster that is unlike anything that we have ever seen in American history by a very wide margin.

According to the Express, scientists believe that “the Big One” could produce a tsunami that is 85 feet high…

Scientists have predicted the ‘Big One’ could trigger a tsunami of 85ft high waves and could potentially drown as many as 33,000 people on the West Coast.

More than 160 experts have since 2013 gathered to develop the Oregon Resilience Plan.

If the Big One is to happen soon it can devastate and affect the regional and national economy.

Do you remember the giant tsunami in the movie San Andreas?  Well, the truth is that what we are potentially facing is even worse than that.

Right now the big question is whether all of the earthquakes that we have been witnessing along the Ring of Fire are somehow related.  Some experts are downplaying that idea, but a professor of earthquake engineering at the University of Bristol is reminding us that ultimately “all earthquakes are connected”

Colin Taylor, professor of earthquake engineering at the University of Bristol, told Standard.co.uk: “The majority of earthquakes around the world are driven by plate tectonics over the earth’s crust. They occur when quakes move past, or under, each other. Every now and again, they reach the limit of their strength and break, emitting energy.

“So technically, that means all earthquakes are connected. But it’s too difficult to say whether they are connected directly.”

According to the NOAA, 39 percent of all Americans live in counties that are directly on the shoreline.

Let that sink in for a moment.

To say that we are extremely vulnerable to tsunamis is a major understatement.  The experts tell us that a “mega-tsunami” can reach speeds in the open ocean of up to 500 miles an hour, and when they reach shore they can produce waves that are several hundred feet high.

If a mega-tsunami hit anywhere along the west coast of the United States, it would instantly crash our economy and it would be the deadliest and costliest natural disaster that we have ever seen.

So let us hope that “the Big One” does not hit us any time soon, because when it does strike life in America will immediately and irrevocably change forever.

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Michael Snyder is a nationally syndicated writer, media personality and political activist. He is publisher of The Most Important News and the author of four books including The Beginning Of The End and Living A Life That Really Matters.

Israeli Restrictions Strangle Gaza’s Cancer Patients

August 23rd, 2018 by Ahmad Kabariti

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Featured image: Joory Basheer, 3, and her father at the Palestinian Society for Cancer Care.

For the fourth time in two months, Nevin Abu El-Jidian failed to cross the Erez checkpoint, which separates the Gaza Strip from Israel and the West Bank. Israeli authorities asked her to come back again with an updated radiograph of her breast cancer. “The officer told me I have to go back to Gaza and take an updated one.” But, even then, passage into Israel is not guaranteed, the officer told her.

However, getting that X-Ray is no easy feat for Nevin, 35. While waiting at the Erez crossing, her brother delivered the updated radiograph to the Palestinian side, who then passed it on to the Israeli side.

“The officer blackmailed me when he realized I have cancer,” Nevin said in a telephone interview.

According to testimony collected by the Physicians for Human Rights – Israel, officers at the Erez crossing often exploit vulnerable patients to obtain information, forcing them to inform on friends and family. Refusal to collaborate results in denying passage to these patients.

Three hours passed since the last call with Nevin, who was waiting at the crossing when she told me that the Israeli authorities had forced her to wait until the rest of Gaza’s ‘ordinary patients’ passed through. In spite of the intimidating journey, she was finally allowed to leave, but at a cost:

“when I got out of the departure terminal I could not catch the bus, so I had to take a taxi and pay $81.” That’s five times more than she could afford.

In her fight against breast cancer, Nevin must receive 33 chemotherapy sessions at the Augusta Victoria Hospital in East Jerusalem every 60 days. She was diagnosed 18 months ago, and like more than 8,260 cancer patients, including 3,500 children, she faces grim prospects for sustained care in Gaza amid diminishing supplies of drugs.

“The lack of drugs and the long delays in letting patients pass imposed by the Israeli authorities mean more pain and dwindling hopes of recovering,” she added.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, 1,500 people are diagnosed with cancer each year in Gaza, an alarmingly high rate according to health officials. And, with the Israeli and Egyptian blockade of the territory, seeking treatment abroad is often an arduous process.

Meanwhile, chemotherapy drugs have been prohibited from entering Gaza, along with other medical equipment needed to perform radiotherapy, molecular therapy, PET scans and isotope scans, according to the Executive Director of the Palestinian Society for Cancer Care, Rizk al-Soos.

“Patients who can afford the journey are forced to travel to Israeli hospitals, and even Egyptian hospitals for treatment to avoid Israeli blackmail. But, most patients have no means to afford travel costs to either destination.”

The Palestinian Society for Cancer Care provides aid and support to 1,204 cancer patients and their families in the Gaza Strip, where nearly 16,000 cancer patients struggle to survive, especially as 80% of cancer drugs have been depleted, a life-threatening situation for many of the patients.

Last week, Dr. Ashraf al-Qedra, spokesperson of the Health Ministry in Gaza, announced that al-Rantisi Pediatric Hospital has run out of Neupogen, a drug that can help the body make white blood cells after receiving chemotherapy, which is essential for the immune systems of patients. As a result, health officials suspended all chemotherapy sessions at the hospital.

The diminishing drug supply comes with Israel tightening the noose on Gaza in recent years. Figures provided by the Israeli Ministry of Defense in response to a Freedom of Information Act request by Gisha indicate that in the first quarter of 2018 alone, 833 applications for travel permits by residents of Gaza were denied on the grounds that the applicant’s “first-degree relative is a Hamas operative.” For comparison, the Israeli authorities refused only 21 applications on these grounds throughout 2017.

Physicians for Human Rights – Israel and Al Mezan Center for Human Rights in Gaza report that as of June 2018, the Israeli authorities rejected applications by at least 13 patients in need of medical treatment unavailable in Gaza, including cancer patients.

Even if those denied patients were lucky to obtain travel permits, they might collide with another barrier: “Poverty,” Mr. al-Soos said while flipping through a patient’s file who died recently of cancer.

Jehad Abu Hasna, 30, died last May. Initially, Israeli authorities denied his application for a travel permit several times before finally allowing him to travel, al-Soos said.

“Despite receiving the permission to cross the border to treat his brain cancer, Jehad failed to obtain the bus/taxi and accommodation expenses for 20-40 days in Jerusalem.”

Then, Jehad’s wife informed the Society’s administration of her husband’s death after the family was not able to afford his treatment.

“Every Neupogen dose costs $40.” Mr. al-Soos explained.

In Gaza, poverty and unemployment affect half of the population. The year-long energy crisis has left households with as little as four hours of power a day, putting enormous strain on health, water and sanitation systems as well as on all productive sectors. Salary cuts and payment delays for tens of thousands of public sector employees have curtailed people’s purchasing power and worsened their debt burdens.

“We were informed that the majority of the drugs that are required to manage care for cancer patients are depleted, which exacerbates the existing crisis,” Said Dr. Mahmoud Daher, the World Health Organization director in Gaza.

“The chronic drug shortage has been going on for several years; all the cancer patients are at risk of losing their lives because of this situation,” he added.

I met Joory Basheer, a three-year old eye cancer patient with her 36 years-old father who visited the Palestinian Society for Cancer Care to seek out support for his child.

According to Joory’s father, Israeli authorities denied her application for a travel permit after they claimed her mother, who would have accompanied Joory, has a Hamas relative.

Caught between Israel’s restrictions and crippling poverty, Gaza’s cancer patients find themselves in a grim reality with little reason for hope. Yet, despite her daily pain, Nevin feels lucky to have been be able to travel for treatment, but she is not sure whether the Israeli authorities will block her next time, as they did with the young Joory.

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Ahmad Kabariti is a reporter based in Gaza. He covers political, humanitarian and social issues.

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Those who wage wars of aggression are criminals despite holding high office and should be prosecuted for crime against humanity, says Dr Michel Chossudovsky, Director of the Centre for Research on Globalization, author and anti-war advocate.

“We have people in high office who instigate those wars, they are responsible. What we should focus on is that these people should not be running the country because people of these countries don’t want war; they want peace.”

“If we are in a democratic environment – the European Union, the United States, Canada and all other countries that have been involved in the [US-NATO] military coalition – the people should confront their leaders and say what they are doing is criminal,” he adds.

Chossudovsky was commenting on a statute that came into effect on June 18, which made the act of war a crime that the International Criminal Court (ICC) can prosecute.

What it means is, under the law, political and military leaders who order the invasion of foreign countries may be punishable for committing crimes of aggression at the ICC at The Hague.

Nonetheless, the extent of the ICC’s power to bring warmongers to court remains a debate. This is because only 35 countries have so far ratified the statute. The world’s mightiest nations, including the United States, Great Britain, France, Germany and Japan, do not recognise the law, making the court’s reach severely limited.

The ICC Needs to be Democratised

Watch the video from the interview here. (or click screen, redirects to Awani Review)

Having been vocal against wars for so many years, Chossudovsky seems to have too much to say and in trying to explain, we find a wealth of information from this man who could be a library on war.

“Well, the ICC has a whole legal body of precedents – the Nuremberg (war crime trials of the 1940s) and can certainly pass judgment. But what must be emphasised is that the major culprits of war have never been indicted. We are talking about the post war era – or rather so-called post war era because there have been a series of US-led wars and atrocities [since the end of World War II]

Chossudovsky emphasises that the only wars which are allowed are wars of self defence. Even so, he says some nations have misused the excuse to justify wars of aggression.

Harry Truman on August 6, 1945 ordered the bombing of Hiroshima. Over one hundred thousand people were killed in the first seven seconds. On August 9, they launch a second bomb on Nagasaki. That day, Truman made a statement. He said ‘The world will note that the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, a military base. That was because we wished in this first attack to avoid, insofar as possible, the killing of civilians.’

“First of all, thats a lie – everybody knows that. Did the media report it, did they unfold the lie? Was Harry Truman indicted for his actions? That kind of lies is what the Nuremberg tribunal calls propaganda. You make people believe that it is collateral damage,” says Chossudovsky.

He also states that while the ICC has the powers, it hasn’t been as effective in dispensing justice, particularly in getting past the veto powers of the United Nations security council.

“They have never really indicted the major powers who wage war on third world and developing countries. They have never indicted those leaders because that legal structure is most probably controlled by the same powers.”

While states that have yet to ratify the crimes of aggression statute can still be referred to the ICC by the United Nations security council, members are likely to veto accusations made against them.

Chossudovsky insists that one must go after the main players who call the shots and not the smaller perpetrators only. He picked out former US and UK’s tops such as George Bush and Tony Blair in the Iraq invasion.

It is to be noted that the crimes of aggression statute cannot be enforced retrospectively over conflicts but it may offer some prospect of deterrence.

“What we can say without doubt is that all wars of aggression are criminal. There’s such things as humanitarian war and the war of terrorism is bogus,” says Chossudovsky.

“Those leaders, from a legal point of view – whether it is Donald Trump, Emmanuel Macron, Theresa May – are legally defined as war criminals. They are criminals occupying high office.”

Misleading the World to War is a Crime

Watch the second video from the interview here. (redirect to Awani Review)

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Cynthia Ng is anchor and news editor at Astro AWANI and AWANI Review.

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The Network of Intellectuals, Artists and Social Movements in Defense of Humanity calls attention to Washington’s strategic interest of overthrowing the progressive and revolutionary governments of our region with the support of the local oligarchies aligned with the United States.

They intend to bring down the popular governments that are standing, to dismantle the advances in Latin American unity and to annul the leaderships that have been constituted because this can be electoral processes for the return of progressive and revolutionary forces where they have managed to remove them through institutional coups d’état or pre- or post-electoral frauds and scams. They go so far as to attempt the destruction of moral and historical references of leaders who are no longer with us like Fidel Castro, Hugo Chávez and Néstor Kirchner.

The hegemonic media carry out a media lynching of the popular leaders with which they target the psychological ground in the masses so that the judiciary can then advance in its persecution and prosecution.

Like in the cases of Lula in Brazil and Rafael Correa in Ecuador the architecture of impunity has been set into motion against the popular and progressive camp and now they are doing it to Cristina Fernández de Kirchner in Argentina as well as other former authorities and activists of her project. The impunity that gives them the right to occupy all the spaces of power, allows them to invent anything they like. They don’t need proof. 

Their self-assumed superiority gives them heir to white democracies’ with which our nation states were forged in blood and fire, is enough justification.

As in Brazil, where all that was needed was the “conviction” by a judge, formatted in the United States, to proclaim Lula was guilty sending him to prison in order to prevent the popular preference for his candidacy for president from becoming a reality. Or in Ecuador where they are trying to annul Rafael Correa by trying to incriminate him in an alleged unsuccessful kidnapping of a proven criminal character. Or they can invent all sorts of slanders confessed by businessmen who buy their impunity in exchange for accusations.

But when the evidence is convincing and points to its mercenaries or hit men, such as the drones that exploded near the Venezuelan president, it is not enough for the media monopolies to recognize that it was an obvious assassination attempt, and instead accuse their own victims. In the midst of countries in which the explosive mix of social consequences of neoliberal policies is forged, an offensive that is once again unleashed on those who represent social justice projects.

However, the popular rebellions are growing through all the veils of repressive and media shielding. That is why right-wing governments are continuously militarizing our societies in a preventive’ way. They obey Washington’s intention to fill our territories with its military bases and to reform and unify military doctrines, with the return of the national security doctrine. They aim to redirect the military force towards supposed internal enemies.

We repudiate the tour to South America by the head of the Pentagon, James Mattis, who came to ensure the growing U.S. control over our natural resources, the subordination of our national states and the strategic plan to overthrow the president of Venezuela, Nicolás Maduro Moros, by force.

The peoples of our Americas, who have suffered more than 500 years of domination, will not abandon the emancipatory route that we build day by day. On the contrary, we will defend our popular leaders with whom we will continue to build the path of the Great Homeland.

End the persecution of Cristina Fernández de Kirchner and Rafael Correa!

Stop the general offensive against the government and people of Venezuela!

Free Lula!

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Initial Endorsers

Evo Morales Ayma, President of the Plurinational State of Bolivia;

Nicolás Maduro Moros, President of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;

Dilma Rousseff, former president of the Federative Republic of Brazil;

Adolfo Pérez Esquivel, Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Argentina;

Pablo González Casanova, former rector UNAM and José Martí International Prize of UNESCO, México;

Roberto Fernández Retamar, president of Casa de las Américas, Republic of Cuba;

Jorge Arreaza, Minister of Popular Power for Foreign Affairs of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;

Ernesto Villegas, Minister of Popular Power for Culture of the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela;

Ricardo Patiño Aroca, Former Minister of Foreign Affairs of Republic of Ecuador;  

Danny Glover, United States;

Fernando Morais, Brazil;

John Saxe Fernández, México; 

Rafael Cancel Miranda, Puerto Rico;

Gabriela Rivadeneira, Ecuador;

Martin Almada, Paraguay;

Fernando Gonzalez LLort, Cuba;

Iraida Vargas, Venezuela;

Fernando Rendón, Colombia;

Galo Mora, Ecuador;

Hector Díaz Polanco, México;

Frei Betto, Brazil;

Hildebrando Pérez Grande, Perú;

Piero Gleijeses, United States;

Leonardo Boff, Brazil;

Stella Calloni, Argentina;

Pável Eguez, Ecuador;

Mario Sanoja, Venezuela;

Hugo Yasky, Argentina;

James Early, United States;

Fernando Buen Abad Domínguez, Mexico/Argentina;

Gilberto López y Rivas, México;

Gustavo Espinoza Montesinos, Perú;

João Pedro Stédile, Brazil;

Jose Pertierra, United States;

Manuel Dammert, Perú;

Teresa Castro, México;

Pilar Bustos, Ecuador;

Carlos Molina Velázquez, El Salvador;

Daniel Kovalik, United States;

Alejandro Zúñiga, Australia;

María Nela Prada, Bolivia;

Estela Bravo, United States;

Irene León, Ecuador;

Bill Fletcher, Jr., United States;

Oscar Bonilla, Ecuador;

H. Bruce Franklin, United States;

Héctor Béjar Rivera, Perú;

Lachlan Hurse, Australia;

Rosa Salazar, Ecuador;

Manuel Robles, Perú;

Consuelo Sanchez, México;

Jane Franklin, United States;

Juan Cristóbal, Perú;

Vicente Otta, Perú;

Nelson Valdes, United States;

Orlando Perez, Ecuador;

Rick Sterling, United States;

Winston  Orrillo, Perú;

T. M. Scruggs, United States;

Eduardo González Viana, Perú;

Margot Palomino, Perú;

José Agualsaca, Ecuador;

Oswaldo Galarza, Ecuador;

Ricardo Ulcuango, Ecuador;

Manuel Azuaje Reverón, Venezuela;

Reinaldo Iturriza, Venezuela;

Eleazar Díaz, Venezuela;

María Fernanda Barreto, Venezuela;

Rosa Miriam Elizalde, Cuba;

Enrique Ubieta, Cuba;

Manuel Santos, Cuba;

Edwin Jarrin, Ecuador;

Soledad Buendía, Ecuador

Secretariat of the Network in Defense of Humanity

Pablo Sepulveda, Chile/Venezuela;

Omar González, Cuba;

Atilio Boron, Argentina;

Carmen Bohórquez, Venezuela;

Hugo Moldiz, Bolivia;

Katu Arkonada, Basque Country;

Angel Guerra, Cuba/México;

Luciano Vasapollo, Italy;

Marilia Guimaraes, Brazil;

Nayar López, México;

Chandra Muzaffar, Malaysia;

David Comissiong, Barbados;

Alicia Jrapko, United States;

Paula Klachko, Argentina;

Roger Landa, Venezuela;

Ariana López, Cuba

Michel Chossudovsky, Canada

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Is the 50-year Gold Mining Bear Market Coming to an End?

August 22nd, 2018 by Hubert Moolman

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Gold stocks is in a 50-year bear market when measured in gold. This (very) roughly means that on average, it has been more economical to buy gold rather than to mine it. 

Interestingly, South African gold mining production peaked two years after, in 1970, as if to confirm that mining was getting rather uneconomical.

There are a peculiar set of reasons why gold mining was so uneconomical, and this I address in my other publications.

Below, is a long-term chart of the Barrons Gold Mining Index (BGMI) to Gold Ratio (chart from longtermtrends.net) which shows this bear market:

After the peak in 1968, the ratio just kept on falling. Interestingly, during the 70s as well as from 2001 to 2011, gold had a great bull market, yet the gold stocks were under performing gold.

Will this bear market ever turn? Yes it will. When will it turn? When the conditions that causes it turns.

Some of these conditions have already turned, or are in the process of doing so. One is the oil price, a major factor in gold mining margins, peaked in 2008, and appears to be close to a massive decline.

From a technical point of view, there are signs that indicate the turn is happening. Below, is a comparison of gold’s correction from 1980 to 2001 (bottom chart) and the BGMI/Gold Ratio (top chart):

Both corrections appear to have the typical 5-move corrections (from top to bottom). It appears that the BGMI Index/Gold Ratio is at the end or very close to the end of its correction.

For more on this and this kind of fractal analysis, you are welcome to subscribe to the author’s premium service.I have also recently completed a Silver Fractal Analysis Report as well as a Gold Mining Fractal Analysis Report.

You can also subscribe to this blog (enter email at the top right of this page) to get my regular free gold and silver updates.

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Featured image:  US Forest Service, CC 2.0

Twenty years ago, and without any public debate, an arcane international agreement entered into force. The Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) gives sweeping powers to foreign investors in the energy sector, including the peculiar privilege to directly sue states in secret international tribunals arbitrated over by three private lawyers. Companies are claiming dizzying sums in compensation for government actions that have allegedly damaged their investments, either directly through expropriation or indirectly through regulations of virtually any kind.

Swedish energy giant Vattenfall, for example, sued Germany for €1.4 billion in compensation over environmental restrictions imposed on a coal-fired power plant. The lawsuit was settled after the government agreed to relax the restrictions protecting the local river and its wildlife. Since 2012, Vattenfall has been suing Germany again, seeking €4.3 billion plus interest for lost profits from two nuclear reactors, following the country’s phase-out of atomic energy after the Fukushima disaster. Several utility companies are pursuing the EU’s poorest member state, Bulgaria, seeking hundreds of millions of euros because the government reduced soaring electricity costs for consumers. And these are only a few examples.

Global records

No trade and investment agreement anywhere in the world has triggered more investor-state lawsuits than the ECT. 117 corporate claims are known to have been taken at the time of writing, following an explosion of lawsuits over the past five years. By the end of 2017, governments had been ordered or agreed to pay more than $51 billion in damages from the public purse. That’s about the same amount as the annual investment needed to provide access to energy for all those people in the world who currently lack it. The value of the ECT lawsuits pending – $35 billion – is more than the GDP of many countries – and more than the estimated annual amount needed for Africa to adapt to climate change. Due to the opacity of ECT arbitrations, the actual figure is likely to be much higher.

Dirty Energy’s super-weapon

UK companies have also actively used the treaty. For example since 2017 oil and gas company Rockhopper has been suing Italy over its refusal to grant a concession for oil drilling in the Adriatic Sea. The refusal came after the Italian Parliament banned all new oil and gas operations near the country’s coast in 2016, amidst environmental concerns and strong local opposition to the projects. Rockhopper claims compensation not just for its sunk costs of about $40 to $50 million, but also for the $200 to $300 million which it could have made had the oil field been approved.

Such compensation claims for ‘hypothetical future profits’ are quite common under the ECT. They make it a cash machine for corporations – and a dangerous weapon in the hands of the fossil fuel industry, which already owns more oil, gas and coal reserves than climate scientists say is safe to burn. If states force the industry to keep these fossil fuels in the ground (as Italy did with regards to oil and gas in the Adriatic Sea), they will be liable for extraordinarily expensive compensation claims over ‘lost future profits’.

In spite of its risk to public budgets and governments’ ability to protect people and the climate, many countries in Africa, the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America are moving towards signing the ECT. This process is actively driven by the current contracting states, the ECT Secretariat, and the very lawyers and corporations who profit from the ECT’s dangerous investor privileges. They want to globalise the ECT to make it a kind of World Trade Organisation (WTO) for energy.

Coming home to roost for the UK

Several law firms have suggested that Brexit could now make the UK a prime target for ECT lawsuits. Brexit could trigger radical changes in the energy sector – for example higher tariffs for energy imports or scrapped research funding – and lawyers argue that these could be interpreted as the UK Government’s failure to maintain a stable legal framework and thus a violation of the rights the ECT grants to foreign investors.

In general, as an investment lawyer predicted in 2017, “In the UK, there’s likely to be more regulatory disputes”, referring to looming “interventionist approaches” in the energy sector. Both Theresa May’s announced cap on energy prices to reduce energy poverty or attempts by Jeremy Corbyn to reclaim public ownership of the energy system might well trigger ECT claims.

ECT claims against the UK would have a certain irony. When the treaty was negotiated in the early 1990s, the UK Department of Trade and Industry was amongst the most influential players in pushing forward and shaping the talks. The ECT’s investor rules were even modelled along the standard UK investment treaty at the time, which had been written with significant input from oil giant Shell.

The trade war distraction

While the trade war makes the front pages, these shouting matches over steel and peanut butter tariffs distract everyone from examining the more serious problems of today’s trade regime. Meanwhile twenty years of the little-noted ECT give us some of the most powerful examples of just how dangerous and destructive this global trade regime is. Trade and investment deals such as the ECT are tools for big business to make governments pay when they regulate to fight climate change, make energy affordable, and protect other public interests. They can be used to bully decision-makers and act as a brake to desirable policy-making.

With Brexit, the UK has the opportunity to look critically at its trade and investment policy. It should remake the rules from the bottom up so that they serve the public interest and not just corporate profits. With regards to the ECT, a first step could be to follow the example of countries such as Italy and leave this outdated and dangerous agreement.

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Cecilia Olivet and Pia Eberhardt are the co-authors of the report “One Treaty to rule them all. The ever-expanding Energy Charter Treaty and the power it gives corporations to halt the energy transition”, Brussels/Amsterdam 2018.

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Featured image: Yarmouk Refugee Camp liberated from terrorists in Syria. (Source: Mikhail Voskresenskiy / Sputnik)

Washington’s “absolutely deconstructive” stance is hampering the rebuilding of Syria and constricts the UN in aiding the country until a so called ‘political transition’ takes place, Sergey Lavrov, Russia’s Foreign Minister, said.

“We addressed UNESCO on how they plan to implement the longtime talks, the longtime understanding on attracting the potential of this organization to rebuilding Palmyra,” an ancient city, regarded by the agency as a World Heritage Site, Lavrov said. “From the explanations of why UNESCO has still been unable to get involved in this process actively, we took that there was some kind of a directive from the United Nations headquarters in New York.”

He said that the UN Secretariat, which is the organizations’ executive arms, has “actually issued and distributed a secret directive throughout the UN system in October last year that prohibited the agencies included in this system from participating in any kind of projects aimed at restoring the Syrian economy.”

“Only humanitarian aid and nothing more” was allowed, the minister told the journalists after talks with Lebanese counterpart, Gebran Bassil, in Moscow. “A term was put forward that restoration of Syria would only be on the agenda after a certain progress is made in the so-called political transition” in the country, he added.

The Russian Foreign Ministry also said that due to the “absolutely deconstructive” stance of the US one also shouldn’t expect any positive decisions on rebuilding Syria and return of refugees to the country from the UN Security Council.

He reminded that following the talks between US Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, and UN Special Envoy for Syria, Staffan de Mistura, last week, Washington said that that

“any discussion of reconstruction was premature absent a political solution” in Syria.

Lavrov pointed out that such demands are only put forward by the Americans for areas liberated from terrorist and controlled by the Syrian government in Damascus.

“As for the areas held by often non-constructive opposition forces, cooperating with the US… the restoration processes there is, on the contrary, in full swing. Furthermore, the US attracts a number of its allies to funding these activities,” he said.

According to the minister, Washington’s actions contradict the UN Security Council Resolution 2254 from 2015, which stressed the “critical need to build conditions for the safe and voluntary return of refugees… and the rehabilitation of affected area” in Syria.

Moscow is going to continue working with the countries that “understand the urgency of the proposed measures for the return of refugees and creation of necessary conditions for them,” Lavrov said. He mentioned Lebanon, Jordan and Turkey as well as the European countries, in which “there is a growing awareness of the need for concrete steps” in Syria, among such states.

Resolution 2254 speaks about a constitutional reform and free election in Syria, but the US and its allies have been pushing for President Bashar Assad to be removed from the process, despite him being a democratically elected leader, whose popularity only increased after most of the country was liberated from terrorists with help of Russia, Iran and other allies.


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Militant groups are constantly violating the ceasefire regime in the Idlib de-escalation zone, the Russian Centre for Reconciliation said in a statement on August 21. According to the statement, the ceasefire were violated in at least 17 villages and settlements in western Aleppo, northern Latakia and northern Hama.

The Center also said that Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra, the Syrian branch of al-Qaeda) is sabotaging any peaceful dialogue between the opposition and the government as well as has started preparation for own offensive on government positions in southern Idlib.

Abu Mohammad al-Jolani, a leader of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham, visited a contact line between militants and the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) in northern Latakia. The appearance of al-Jolani in the area once again shows that the terrorist group remains the most powerful force in the militant-held part of Idlib, Aleppo and Latakia provinces. Earlier some powers involved in the conflict argued that there is no Hayat Tahrir al-Sham presence in these areas.

While the SAA is deploying additional reinforcements in northern Hama and Latakia preparing for expected battle against Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other terrorist groups in northwestern Syria, the US, the UK and France have once again resumed their propaganda campaign to accuse the Syrian government of carrying out chemical attacks against civilians.

On August 21, three countries released a joint statement condemning the alleged use of chemical weapons by the Damascus government.

“As Permanent Members of the Security Council, we reaffirm our shared resolve to preventing the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime, and for holding them accountable for any such use,” the statement said adding that the US, the UK and France “will respond appropriately to any further use of chemical weapons by the Syrian regime” in fact threatening Syria with new attacks.

Experts expect that if the Idlib operation of the SAA is started, the chemical weapons issue may be once again used by militants and their supporters to justify military actions against government forces by foreign powers.

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Selected Articles: Waging War by Other Means

August 22nd, 2018 by Global Research News

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Global Research strives for peace, and we have but one mandate: to share timely, independent and vital information to readers across the globe. We act as a global platform to let the voices of dissent, protest, and expert witnesses and academics be heard and disseminated internationally.

We need to stand together to continuously question politics, false statements, and the suppression of independent thought.

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Shifting Alliances? India’s Purchase of Russia’s S400 Air Defense System. America’s Response

By Andrew Korybko, August 22, 2018

Unlike how it’s being popularly reported, India didn’t exactly “defy” the US by going forward with the planned signing of an S-400 deal with Russia later this year, but is partially obeying it because it’ll need to reduce its share of arms purchases from Moscow and continue cooperating with Washington on “security matters that are critical to United States strategic interests” in order to earn a sanctions waiver for this acquisition.

More US Marines Coming to Norway, a Strange Way to Seek Friendship with Russia

By Adam Dick, August 22, 2018

President Donald Trump says he wants to improve relations between the United States and Russia, and he met in July with Russia President Vladimir Putin largely in a purported effort to move toward this goal. Yet, the Trump administration continues to send more US troops and military equipment to along the Russia border, including in Norway.

“The Weaponization of Sanctions”: Waging War by Other Means against Russia

By Stephen Lendman, August 22, 2018

He claims that Vladimir Putin “conduct(s) aggression”.

He highlighted US sanctions on Russia to date – targeting “217 individuals and entities…six diplomatic and consular facilities…and 60 spies (sic) removed from American soil.”

Video: The Threat of Nuclear Annihilation in 2018: Helen Caldicott

By Dr. Helen Caldicott and Michael Welch, August 22, 2018

Dr. Caldicott discusses the recent revelation of personnel responsible for safe-guarding hundreds of missiles with nuclear payloads also operating an LSD ring. She also talks about the consequences of a nuclear exchange, some close calls in the past, and what Canadians can reasonably do to eliminate or at least reduce the threat.

How the Media Keeps Americans in the Dark About the Slaughter in Yemen

By CJ Werleman, August 22, 2018

The US Department of Defense has tried to downplay the United States role in what must surely constitute a war crime and/or a crime against humanity by either arguing it’s still investigating the matter or by disingenuously minimizing its involvement.

“Economic Genocide” of the Greek Nation

By Dr. Paul Craig Roberts, August 22, 2018

The political and media coverup of the genocide of the Greek Nation began yesterday (August 20) with European Union and other political statements announcing that the Greek Crisis is over. What they mean is that Greece is over, dead, and done with. It has been exploited to the limit, and the carcas has been thrown to the dogs.

Prime Ministerial Chaos in Australia: Turnbull’s Last Days

August 22nd, 2018 by Dr. Binoy Kampmark

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No one is in charge in Australia.  Monday’s leadership challenge by Home Affairs minister, the potato-headed former police officer Peter Dutton, was cutting enough to leave Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull a wounded animal.  The 48 to 35 margin of victory demonstrated the sheer degree of disaffection for the leadership within party ranks, and risks keeping that unenviable record of no Australian prime minister lasting out a full term of office since John Howard’s 2004 election victory. 

Resignations have duly followed (some ten frontbenches outed themselves as Dutton supporters in offering their notices, though many have not been accepted by Turnbull).  Dutton has become a chief plotter on the backbench, from where another challenge is brewing.  The government is imploding and New Zealand’s foreign minister Winston Peters, visiting Canberra, offered a bit of advice:

“When you go into a spill, you have to take your abacus.”

In the aftermath of the challenge, Dutton continues to fuel the fire, giving radio station 3AW a generous smattering to threaten Turnbull.

“You don’t go into a ballot believing you’re going to lose and if I believe that a majority of colleagues support me, then I would reconsider my position.”

He had been chasing up colleagues, testing the waters, working the phones.

“I’m not going to beat around the bush with that.”

Ever blinkered and reactionary, his policy offerings continue to be unimaginative, the stuff of cold porridge.  To cope with housing affordability, immigration needs to looked at.  To deal with infrastructure problems, immigration needs to be looked at.

“I think you need to cut the numbers back.”

This is less the remit of a potential prime minister as a demagogue who remains trapped in the portfolio of home affairs.

In a bid to make a populist steal, Dutton is offering a temporary sweetener to the public.  To Triple M Melbourne, he outlined a proposal that will tickle a few:

“I think one of the things that we could do straight away, in this next billing cycle, is take the GST off electricity bills for families. It would be an automatic reduction of 10 percent for electricity bills and people would feel that impact straight away.”

Another peg on offer is one distinctly against the free market ideology of the party.  It’s the season for royal commissions, and Dutton is willing to capitalise.  A royal commission into the electricity and fuel companies, argues the freshly resigned minister, could be established.

“I just think Australian consumers for way too long have been paying way too much fuel and electricity and something just isn’t right with these companies.”

It has been a true spectacle of self-destructive delight: the Liberals immolating themselves in plain sight, while justifying such behaviour on the broader premise of “debate” and calm thinking.  Foreign Minister Julie Bishop claimed on Tuesday morning that there were conservatives, moderates and those somewhere in the middle.  Other front benchers suggested that this was the Liberal method, which was simply another way of concealing a tribalism more commonly associated with the opposition Labor Party.  The broader reality is that centre-right politics in Australia has become cacophonous.

The Turnbull ship, as it heads to a monumental iceberg, was given a further push with the defeat of the company tax cut policy in the Senate.  It had been, since 2016, a vital aspect of the prime minister’s trickle-down economics, another enduring fiction that has ceased to catch the imagination of many in the electorate.

Selling a policy reducing the tax rate from 30 to 25 percent for companies earning over $50 million, thereby shrinking a vital tax base, has not gone well for the former merchant banker, whose connection with the Australian voter continues to look curiously alien.  Little wonder, then, that the tribe is unruly, leaving the extremists to go on the rampage.

Things also look murky for the main challenger.  In what must be yet another example of history’s distinct lack of cunning, the man who was so enthusiastic about keeping refugee children in offshore detention has a family trust operating a childcare company in receipt of Commonwealth funding.  The amount is not negligible: some $5.6 million dispensed to both the Camelia Avenue Childcare Centre and another centre located in Bald Hill.  The significance of this is that section 44 of the Constitution might well render Dutton ineligible to sit in parliament as it rules out those with “any direct or indirect pecuniary interest in any agreement with the Public Service of the Commonwealth”.

Most troubling in the Dutton challenge is its acceptable extremism.  His language is the unreformed, unconstructed argot of law, order and directed hysteria. He is an instinctive authoritarian who is unlikely to govern by consensus.  The method, rather, will be through imposition and dictation.  Australians and those coming to the country can expect an aggressive push in the direction of the police state.  But Turnbull’s ultimate failing has been a pronounced and seemingly growing inability to lead a party keen to lurch with ever greater urgency to the right.

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

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Unlike how it’s being popularly reported, India didn’t exactly “defy” the US by going forward with the planned signing of an S-400 deal with Russia later this year, but is partially obeying it because it’ll need to reduce its share of arms purchases from Moscow and continue cooperating with Washington on “security matters that are critical to United States strategic interests” in order to earn a sanctions waiver for this acquisition.

A Russian defense official’s announcement that India will indeed go forward with its planned purchase of the S-400s by the end of the year was reported on by RT and other media outlets as the South Asian nation “defying” the US’ CAATSA sanctions threats over this acquisition, though the reality is much more nuanced because New Delhi is also partially giving in to American pressure. Prima facie, it looks like the country is thumbing its nose at the US by going forward with this deal and risking the wrath of Trump’s infamous sanctions, but it can actually evade that punishment if it abides by at least one of two clauses in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act of 2019.

Section 1294 (1)(C)(i) allows for a CAATSA sanctions waiver if a country:

“is taking or will take steps to reduce its inventory of major defense equipment and advanced conventional weapons produced by the defense sector of the Russian Federation as a share of its total inventory of major defense equipment and advanced conventional weapons over a specified period”

While Section 1294 (1)(C)(ii) says that it could be granted if a country:

“is cooperating with the United States Government on other security matters that are critical to United States strategic interests.”

India’s share of Russian armaments has been on a downward trajectory over the past couple of years amid heightened competition from the US and “Israel” in this market, which is occurring in spite of increased weapons purchases simply due to the fact that the country is the world’s largest buyer of military equipment, so it already satisfies the first criterion. The second, meanwhile, is achieved by India’s designation as the US’ first-ever and thus far only “Major Defense Partner” and the publicly acknowledged100-year-long military-strategy partnership that the two sides are engaged in all across the Afro-Bengal Ocean and beyond. Altogether, it’s clear that India is more than eligible for a CAATSA sanctions waiver for its purchase of Russia’s S-400s.

The US would of course prefer that India didn’t go through with this deal, but its global power isn’t absolute like it briefly was immediately after the end of the Old Cold War, and it recognizes the tactical brilliance of sometimes “compromising” with its “Lead From Behind” partners such as India in order to keep them within its unipolar orbit. Applying too much pressure on New Delhi at this crucial juncture by sanctioning it for buying a single weapons system would have recklessly imperiled the very successful years-long effort that the US has made in swaying India over to its strategic side in the New Cold War and drive it closer into Russia and China’s multipolar embrace, hence why it sought to cut a deal with it instead.

In fact, it actually serves the US’ grand strategic interests much more to grant India a sanctions waiver for its S-400 purchase than to impose economic restrictions against it for this because Washington will probably succeed in getting New Delhi to continue reducing its share of Russian armaments and therefore remain committed to its century-long partnership with America. Reacting too forcefully against it for the simple sake of “principle” could have been counterproductive because India indicated that it wouldn’t reconsider this deal due to what it hinted as being its policy of so-called “multi-alignment” and need to “balance” between Russia, the US, and also China (the latter of which is one of the reasons why it wants the S-400s in the first place).

For these reasons, the US “allowed” India to make a public spectacle of reframing its purchase of the S-400s as “defying” America so long as it quietly continues working with Washington and reduces its share of military equipment from Moscow in order to receive a CAATSA sanctions waiver for this acquisition, both of which are veritably in the grand strategic interests of the US and therefore make it so that India is partially obeying the unipolar hegemon much more than going against it.

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This article was originally published on Eurasia Future.

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

Featured image is from Sputnik/ Sergey Malgavko.

The United Kingdom: A Gangster State

August 22nd, 2018 by Craig Murray

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Max Weber defined a key attribute of a state as holding the monopoly on the legitimate exercise of violence within a given territory. For anybody other than the state to use substantive physical force against you or to imprison you is regarded as an extremely serious crime. The state itself may however constrain you, beat you, imprison you and even kill you. That link is on deaths in police custody. I might also quote the state murder of 12 year old British child Jojo Jones, deliberately executed by drone strike by the USA with prior approval from the British government.

That is but one example of the British state’s decreasing reticence over the use of extreme violence. The shameless promotion of Cressida Dick to head the Metropolitan Police as reward for orchestrating the cold-blooded murder of an innocent and unresisting Jean Charles de Menezes is another example. So is Savid Javid’s positive encouragement of the US to employ the death penalty against British men stripped of citizenship.

There is a class of states where the central government does not have sufficient control over its territories to preserve its monopoly of violence. That may include violence in opposition to the state. But one further aspect of that is state sanctioned violence in pursuit of state aims by non state actors, done with a nod and a wink from the government – death squads and private militias, often CIA supplied, in South America have often acted this way, and so occasionally does the British state, for example in the murder of Pat Finucane. In some instances, a state might properly be described as a gangster state, where violent groups acting for personal gain act in concert with state authorities, with motives of personal financial profit involved on both sides.

It appears to me in this sense it is fair to call Britain a gangster state. It has contracted out the exercise of state violence, including in some instances to the point of death, against prisoners and immigration detainees to companies including G4S, who exercise that violence purely for the making of profit from it. It is a great moral abomination that violence should be exercised against humans for profit – and it should be clear that in even in most “humane” conditions the deprivation of physical liberty of any person is an extreme and chronic exercise of violence against them. I do not deny the necessity of such action on occasion to protect others, but that the state shares out its monopoly of violence, so that business interests with which the political class are closely associated can turn a profit, is a matter of extreme moral repugnance.

Rory Stewart appeared on Sky News this morning and the very first point he saw fit to make was a piece of impassioned shilling on behalf of G4S. That this was the first reaction of the Prisons Minister to a question on the collapse of order at Birmingham Prison due to G4S’ abject performance, shows both the Tories’ ideological commitment to privatisation in all circumstances, especially where it has demonstrably failed, and shows also the extent to which they are in the pockets of financial interests – and not in the least concerned about the public interest.

I should add to this that Tories here includes Blairites. Blair and Brown were gung-ho for prison privatisation, and even keen to extend the contracting out of state violence for profit to the military sector by the deployment of mercenary soldiers, which New Labour itself consciously rebranded as “private military companies”. Iraq was a major exercise in this with British government contracted mercenaries often outnumbering actual British troops.

The reason for the state to have the monopoly of violence in any society is supposed to be in order to ensure that violence is only ever exercised with caution, with regret and in proportion, solely in unavoidable circumstances. It is the most profound duty of a state to ensure that this is so. The contracting out of state violence for private profit ought to be unthinkable to any decent person.

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Featured image: German foreign minister Heiko Maas (Source: Zero Hedge)

In a stunning vote of “no confidence” in the US monopoly over global payment infrastructure, Germany’s foreign minister Heiko Maas called for the creation of a new payments system independent of the US that would allow Brussels to be independent in its financial operations from Washington and as a means of rescuing the nuclear deal between Iran and the west.

Writing in the German daily Handelsblatt, Maas said

Europe should not allow the US to act over our heads and at our expense. For that reason it’s essential that we strengthen European autonomy by establishing payment channels that are independent of the US, creating a European Monetary Fund and building up an independent Swift system,” he wrote, cited by the FT.

Maas said it was vital for Europe to stick with the Iran deal.

“Every day the agreement continues to exist is better than the highly explosive crisis that otherwise threatens the Middle East,” he said, with the unspoken message was even clearer: Europe no longer wants to be a vassal state to US monopoly over global payments, and will now aggressively pursue its own “Swift” network that is not subservient to Washington’s every whim.

Swift, a Belgium-based global payment network, enables financial institutions worldwide to send and receive information about financial transactions. The system’s management claims Swift is politically neutral and independent, although it has previously been used to block transactions and enforce US sanctions against various countries, most notably Iran.  In 2012, the Danish newspaper Berlingske wrote that US authorities managed to seize money being transferred from a Danish businessman to a German bank for a batch of US-sanctioned Cuban cigars. The transaction was made in US dollars, which allowed Washington to block it.

According to Thorsten Benner, director of the Global Public Policy Institute, a Berlin-based think-tank, Maas’s intervention was the “strongest call yet for EU financial and monetary autonomy vis-à-vis US.”

The German foreign minister’s article highlights the depth of the dilemma facing European politicians as they struggle to keep the Iran deal alive while coping with the fallout of US sanctions imposed by Mr Trump against companies doing business with Tehran.

Maas also called for the creation of a “balanced partnership” with the US in which the Europeans filled the gaps left where the US withdrew from the world. Europe must, he said, “form a counterweight when the US crosses red lines”.

As the FT adds, the EU has vowed to protect European businesses from punitive measures adopted by Washington, but that has failed to convince EU companies, who are more concerned about maintaining their access to the lucrative US market than in the more modest opportunities presented by Iran.

Last month Washington rebuffed a high-level European plea to exempt crucial industries from sanctions. Mike Pompeo, US secretary of state, and Steven Mnuchin, Treasury secretary, formally rejected an appeal for carve-outs in finance, energy and healthcare made by ministers from Germany, France, the UK and the EU.

Swift is also affected: unless it wins an exemption from sanctions, it will be required by the US to cut off targeted Iranian banks from its network by early November or face possible countermeasures against both its board members and the financial institutions that employ them. These could include asset freezes and US travel bans for the individuals, and restrictions on banks’ ability to do business in the US.

Maas’s stark warning against US domination of global payments comes with relations between Germany and the US in their worst state for decades. Mr Trump has chastised Berlin over its large trade surplus, its relatively low military spending and its support for Nord Stream 2, a new gas pipeline that will bring Russian gas directly to Germany.

Meanwhile, Berlin has looked on in dismay as Mr Trump has withdrawn the US from the Iran deal and the Paris climate treaty, imposed import tariffs on EU steel and aluminium and appeared to question America’s commitment to Nato.

In short: Europe has finally had enough and it plans on hitting back at Trump where it truly hurts: the money.


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Battlefield America: The Ongoing War on the American People

August 22nd, 2018 by John W. Whitehead

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“A government which will turn its tanks upon its people, for any reason, is a government with a taste of blood and a thirst for power and must either be smartly rebuked, or blindly obeyed in deadly fear.”—John Salter

Police in a small Georgia town tasered a 5-foot-2, 87-year-old woman who was using a kitchen knife to cut dandelions for use in a recipe. Police claim they had no choice but to taser the old woman, who does not speak English but was smiling at police to indicate she was friendly, because she failed to comply with orders to put down the knife.

Police in California are being sued for using excessive force against a deaf 76-year-old woman who was allegedly jaywalking and failed to halt when police yelled at her. According to the lawsuit, police searched the woman and her grocery bags. She was then slammed to the ground, had a foot or knee placed behind her neck or back, handcuffed, arrested and cited for jaywalking and resisting arrest.

In Alabama, police first tasered then shot and killed an unarmed man who refused to show his driver’s license after attempting to turn in a stray dog he’d found to the local dog shelter. The man’s girlfriend and their three children, all under the age of 10, witnessed the shooting.

In New York, Customs and Border Protection officers have come under fire for subjecting female travelers (including minors) to random body searches that include strip searches while menstruating, genital probing, and forced pelvic exams, X-rays and intravenous drugs at area hospitals.

At a California gas station, ICE agents surrounded a man who was taking his pregnant wife to the hospital to deliver their baby, demanding that he show identification. Having forgotten his documents at home in the rush to get to the hospital, the husband offered to go get them. Refusing to allow him to do so, ICE agents handcuffed and arrested the man for not having an ID with him, leaving his wife to find her way alone to the hospital. The father of five, including the newborn, has lived and worked in the U.S. for 12 years with his wife.

These are not isolated incidents.

These cases are legion.

This is what a state of undeclared martial law looks like, when you can be arrested, tasered, shot, brutalized and in some cases killed merely for not complying with a government agent’s order or not complying fast enough.

This isn’t just happening in crime-ridden inner cities.

It’s happening all across the country.

America has been locked down.

This is what it’s like to be a citizen of the American police state.

This is what it’s like to be an enemy combatant in your own country.

This is what it feels like to be a conquered people.

This is what it feels like to be an occupied nation.

This is what it feels like to live in fear of armed men crashing through your door in the middle of the night, or to be accused of doing something you never even knew was a crime, or to be watched all the time, your movements tracked, your motives questioned.

This is what it feels like to have your homeland transformed into a battlefield.

Mind you, in a war zone, there are no police—only soldiers. Thus, there is no more Posse Comitatus prohibiting the government from using the military in a law enforcement capacity. Not when the local police have, for all intents and purposes, already become the military.

In a war zone, the soldiers shoot to kill, as American police have now been trained to do. Whether the perceived “threat” is armed or unarmed no longer matters when police are authorized to shoot first and ask questions later.

In a war zone, even the youngest members of the community learn at an early age to accept and fear the soldier in their midst. Thanks to funding from the government, more schools are hiring armed police officers—some equipped with semi-automatic AR-15 rifles—to “secure” their campuses.

In a war zone, you have no rights. When you are staring down the end of a police rifle, there can be no free speech. When you’re being held at bay by a militarized, weaponized mine-resistant tank, there can be no freedom of assembly. When you’re being surveilled with thermal imaging devices, facial recognition software and full-body scanners and the like, there can be no privacy. When you’re charged with disorderly conduct simply for daring to question or photograph or document the injustices you see, with the blessing of the courts no less, there can be no freedom to petition the government for a redress of grievances.

And when you’re a prisoner in your own town, unable to move freely, kept off the streets, issued a curfew at night, there can be no mistaking the prison walls closing in.

This is happening and will happen anywhere and everywhere else in this country where law enforcement officials are given carte blanche to do what they like, when they like, how they like, with immunity from their superiors, the legislatures, and the courts.

You see, what Americans have failed to comprehend, living as they do in a TV-induced, drug-like haze of fabricated realities, narcissistic denial, and partisan politics, is that we’ve not only brought the military equipment used in Iraq and Afghanistan home to be used against the American people.

We’ve also brought the very spirit of the war home.

“We the people” have now come full circle, from being held captive by the British police state to being held captive by the American police state.

In between, we have charted a course from revolutionaries fighting for our independence and a free people establishing a new nation to pioneers and explorers, braving the wilderness and expanding into new territories.

Where we went wrong, however, was in allowing ourselves to become enthralled with and then held hostage by a military empire in bondage to a corporate state (the very definition of fascism).

No longer does America hold the moral high ground as a champion of freedom and human rights. Instead, in the pursuit of profit, our overlords have transformed the American landscape into a battlefield, complete with military personnel, tactics and weaponry.

To our dismay, we now find ourselves scrambling for a foothold as our once rock-solid constitutional foundation crumbles beneath us. And no longer can we rely on the president, Congress, the courts, or the police to protect us from wrongdoing.

Indeed, the president, Congress, the courts, and the police have come to embody all that is wrong with America.

For instance, how does a man who is relatively healthy when taken into custody by police lapse into a coma and die while under their supervision?

What kind of twisted logic allows a police officer to use a police car to run down an American citizen and justifies it in the name of permissible deadly force?

And what country are we living in where the police can beat, shoot, choke, taser and tackle American citizens, all with the protection of the courts?

Certainly, the Constitution’s safeguards against police abuse means nothing when government agents can crash through your door, terrorize your children, shoot your dogs, and jail you on any number of trumped of charges, and you have little say in the matter. For instance, San Diego police, responding to a domestic disturbance call on a Sunday morning, showed up at the wrong address, only to shoot the homeowner’s 6-year-old service dog in the head.

Rubbing salt in the wound, it’s often the unlucky victim of excessive police force who ends up being charged with wrongdoing. Although 16-year-old Thai Gurule was charged with resisting arrest and strangling and assaulting police officers, a circuit judge found that it was actually the three officers who unlawfully stopped, tackled, punched, kneed, tasered and yanked his hair who were at fault. Thankfully, bystander cell phone videos undermined police accounts, which were described as “works of fiction.”

Not even our children are being spared the blowback from a growing police presence.

As one juvenile court judge noted in testimony to Congress, although having police on public school campuses did not make the schools any safer, it did result in large numbers of students being arrested for misdemeanors such as school fights and disorderly conduct. One 11-year-old autistic Virginia student was charged with disorderly conduct and felony assault after kicking a trashcan and resisting a police officer’s attempt to handcuff him. A 14-year-old student was tasered by police, suspended and charged with disorderly conduct, resisting arrest and trespassing after he failed to obey a teacher’s order to be the last student to exit the classroom.

There is no end to the government’s unmitigated gall in riding roughshod over the rights of the citizenry, whether in matters of excessive police powers, militarized police, domestic training drills, SWAT team raids, surveillance, property rights, overcriminalization, roadside strip searches, profit-driven fines and prison sentences, etc.

The president can now direct the military to detain, arrest and secretly execute American citizens. These are the powers of an imperial dictator, not an elected official bound by the rule of law. This mantle is worn by whomever occupies the Oval Office now and in the future.

A representative government means nothing when the average citizen has little to no access to their elected officials, while corporate lobbyists enjoy a revolving door relationship with everyone from the President on down. Indeed, while members of Congress hardly work for the taxpayer, they work hard at being wooed by corporations, which spend more to lobby our elected representatives than we spend on their collective salaries. For that matter, getting elected is no longer the high point it used to be. As one congressman noted, for many elected officials, “Congress is no longer a destination but a journey… [to a] more lucrative job as a K Street lobbyist… It’s become routine to see members of Congress drop their seat in Congress like a hot rock when a particularly lush vacancy opens up.”

As for the courts, they have long since ceased being courts of justice. Instead, they have become courts of order, largely marching in lockstep with the government’s dictates, all the while helping to increase the largesse of government coffers. It’s called for-profit justice, and it runs the gamut of all manner of financial incentives in which the courts become cash cows for communities looking to make an extra buck. As journalist Chris Albin-Lackey details,

“They deploy a crushing array of fines, court costs, and other fees to harvest revenues from minor offenders that these communities cannot or do not want to raise through taxation.”

In this way, says Albin-Lackey,

“A resident of Montgomery, Alabama who commits a simple noise violation faces only a $20 fine—but also awhopping $257 in court costs and user fees should they seek to have their day in court.”

As for the rest—the schools, the churches, private businesses, service providers, nonprofits and your fellow citizens—many are also marching in lockstep with the police state.

This is what is commonly referred to as community policing.

After all, the police can’t be everywhere. So how do you police a nation when your population outnumbers your army of soldiers? How do you carry out surveillance on a nation when there aren’t enough cameras, let alone viewers, to monitor every square inch of the country 24/7? How do you not only track but analyze the transactions, interactions and movements of every person within the United States?

The answer is simpler than it seems: You persuade the citizenry to be your eyes and ears.

It’s a brilliant ploy, with the added bonus that while the citizenry remains focused on and distrustful of each other, they’re incapable of focusing on more definable threats that fall closer to home—namely, the government and its militarized police.

In this way, we’re seeing a rise in the incidence of Americans being reported for growing vegetables in their front yard, keeping chickens in their back yard, letting their kids walk to the playground alone, and voicing anti-government sentiments. For example, after Shona Banda’s son defended the use of medical marijuana during a presentation at school, school officials alerted the police and social services, and the 11-year-old was interrogated, taken into custody by social workers, had his home raided by police and his mother arrested.

Now it may be that we have nothing to worry about.

Perhaps the government really does have our best interests at heart.

Perhaps covert domestic military training drills really are just benign exercises to make sure our military is prepared for any contingency.

Then again, while I don’t believe in worrying over nothing, it’s safe to say that the government has not exactly shown itself to be friendly in recent years, nor have its agents shown themselves to be cognizant of the fact that they are civilians who answer to the citizenry, rather than the other way around.

As Aldous Huxley warned in Brave New World Revisited,

Liberty cannot flourish in a country that is permanently on a war footing, or even a near-war footing. Permanent crisis justifies permanent control of everybody and everything by the agencies of the central government.”

Whether or not the government plans to impose some more overt form of martial law in the future remains to be seen, but there can be no denying that we’re being accustomed to life in a military state.

The malls may be open for business, the baseball stadiums may be packed, and the news anchors may be twittering nonsense about the latest celebrity foofa, but those are just distractions from what is really taking place: the transformation of America into a war zone.

As I document in my book Battlefield America: The War on the American People, if it looks like a battlefield (armored tanks on the streets, militarized police in metro stations, surveillance cameras everywhere), sounds like a battlefield (SWAT team raids nightly, sound cannons to break up large assemblies of citizens), and acts like a battlefield (police shooting first and asking questions later, intimidation tactics, and involuntary detentions), it’s a battlefield.

Indeed, what happened in Ocala, Florida, is a good metaphor for what’s happening across the country: Sheriff’s deputies, dressed in special ops uniforms and riding in an armored tank on a public road, pulled a 23-year-old man over and issued a warning violation to him after he gave them the finger. The man, Lucas Jewell, defended his actions as a free speech expression of his distaste for militarized police.

Translation: “We the people” are being hijacked on the highway by government agents with little knowledge of or regard for the Constitution, who are hyped up on the power of their badge, outfitted for war, eager for combat, and taking a joy ride—on taxpayer time and money—in a military tank that has no business being on American soil.

Rest assured, unless we slam on the brakes, this runaway tank will soon be charting a new course through terrain that bears no resemblance to land of our forefathers, where freedom meant more than just the freedom to exist and consume what the corporate powers dish out.

Rod Serling, one of my longtime heroes and the creator of The Twilight Zone, understood all too well the danger of turning a blind eye to evil in our midst, the “things that scream for a response.” As Serling warned, “if we don’t listen to that scream – and if we don’t respond to it – we may well wind up sitting amidst our own rubble, looking for the truck that hit us – or the bomb that pulverized us. Get the license number of whatever it was that destroyed the dream. And I think we will find that the vehicle was registered in our own name.”

If you haven’t managed to read the writing on the wall yet, the war has begun.

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Constitutional attorney and author John W. Whitehead is founder and president of The Rutherford Institute. His new book Battlefield America: The War on the American People  (SelectBooks, 2015) is available online at www.amazon.com. Whitehead can be contacted at [email protected].

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President Donald Trump says he wants to improve relations between the United States and Russia, and he met in July with Russia President Vladimir Putin largely in a purported effort to move toward this goal. Yet, the Trump administration continues to send more US troops and military equipment to along the Russia border, including in Norway. Around 300 US Marines were deployed to Norway in the final days of the Barack Obama administration. Then, last week, Reuters reported that the Trump administration will soon more than double to 700 the number of Marines in Norway and that some Marines will be stationed closer than before to Norway’s border with Russia.

The plans, the Reuters article notes, “triggered a sharp reaction from Moscow, which called the plans ‘clearly unfriendly’.” No doubt. As peace advocate and three-time presidential candidate Ron Paul has often commented, Americans would be quite perturbed if Russia, China, or some other nation started massing military forces across the border in Mexico or in the Gulf of Mexico. Why should Russians not be perturbed by the massing of US forces nearby in Europe — along with the successive introduction of European nations near Russia into the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO)?

In a debate with Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton about a month before Trump’s election to the presidency, Trump declared “I think it would be great if we get along with Russia.” Many times since, as president, Trump has reiterated his desire for better relations with Russia. However, actions speak louder than words, and the actions the Trump administration has been taking toward Russia, from increasing US military forces along the Russian border to expelling dozens of Russia diplomats from America to keeping in place and adding new Russia sanctions, are hard to interpret as anything but unfriendly.

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The Israeli regime has rejected calls by the United Nations chief to  boost protection of Palestinians against persisting Israeli atrocities on protesting civilians in Gaza Strip and the occupied territories, demanding action against Palestinian leaders instead.

“Instead of delusional suggestions on how to protect the Palestinian people from Israel, the UN should hold the Palestinian leadership accountable for the harm caused to its own people,” said the Israeli UN envoy Danny Danon in a statement issued on Saturday in response to UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres‘ proposed measures to better protect the Palestinians.

“The only protection the Palestinian people need is from their own leadership,” Danon further claimed in his statement, blaming the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority for inciting “its people to demonize and attack Jews,” as well as the Gaza-based Hamas resistance movement for using “the people in Gaza as hostages.”

In his 14-page report, which came after Israeli regime forces killed two more Palestinians in Gaza on Friday, the UN chief laid out four options — from increasing aid to the Palestinians, sending UN rights monitors and unarmed observers to deploying a military or police force under a UN mandate.

“The combination of prolonged military occupation, constant security threats, weak political institutions, and a deadlocked peace process provides for a protection challenge that is highly complex politically, legally and practically,” Guterres said. “The targeting of civilians, particularly children, is unacceptable… those responsible for violations of international humanitarian law must be held accountable.”

Israel, however, has defended its use of live ammunition against Palestinian protesters in Gaza by invoking what it claims as its “right to self-defense.”

The report by Guterres was requested by the UN General Assembly in response to persisting violence employed by the Tel Aviv regime in the besieged Gaza, where 171 Palestinians have so far been killed by Israeli forces since late March.

The UN chief further stated that the world body was already undertaking many protection initiatives but that “these measures fall short” of the concerns raised in the UN General Assembly resolution.

The resolution garnered a strong majority of 120 votes in the 193-member assembly, with 8 votes against and 45 abstentions. It was put forward by Algeria, Turkey and Palestine after Washington vetoed a similar resolution in the UN Security Council (UNSC) earlier.

The Israeli ambassador further claimed that the options recommended by Guterres “would only bring about continued Palestinian suffering at the hands of their leaders,” and “will only enable the Palestinians’ continued rejectionism.”

This is while a UN mandate for a protection force in the occupied territories and Gaza would require a decision from the UNSC, where the US is widely expected to once again wield its veto power to block a measure opposed by Tel Aviv.

A small European-staffed observer mission was deployed in the West Bank city of Hebron in 1994, but the Israeli regime has since rejected calls for an international presence in flashpoint Palestinian areas.

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 US sanctions on Russia and other nations are imposed to wage war by other means.

In 1996, the Vienna-based International Progress Organization identified sanctions as “an illegitimate form of collective punishment of the weakest and poorest members of society, the infants, the children, the chronically ill, and the elderly.”

When unilaterally imposed, they’re a hammer in lieu of diplomacy.

Washington weaponized them to illegally attack nations politically and economically for failing to bend to its will – a bipartisan conspiracy against rule of law principles and responsible governance, absent in America and other Western societies, democracies in name only.

Make no mistake. US political and economic war rages on Russia, Iran and other targeted nations – at risk of turning hot.

US Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs A. Wess Mitchell holds the same portfolio as the infamous Victoria Nuland in the Obama regime – both officials hostile to world peace and cooperative relations with other countries, supporting US dominance by endless aggression and other unlawful means.

On Tuesday, Mitchell addressed the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on the Trump regime’s agenda toward Russia.

He called “military power…fully integrated with our allies and all of our instruments of power” Washington’s most effective tool in its “diploma(tic)” arsenal.

He claims that Vladimir Putin “conduct(s) aggression”.

He highlighted US sanctions on Russia to date – targeting “217 individuals and entities…six diplomatic and consular facilities…and 60 spies (sic) removed from American soil.”

He  said “the door to dialogue is open” – provided that Moscow surrenders its sovereignty to America, wanting a repeat of the 1990s under US favorite Boris Yeltsin, a deplorable figure presiding over Russia’s lost decade.

He claims that Moscow threatens “the Western world.” He said Russia “promote(s) fringe voices…advocat(ing) violence, the storming of federal buildings, and the overthrow of the US government” – a claim only fools and a brainwashed public could believe.

He also said that Russia “foments and funds controversial causes.” They include world peace, stability, equity, justice, multi-world polarity, and mutual cooperation among all nations – notions dark forces running America abhor.

“Putin wants to break apart the American Republic…by systematically inflaming the fault-lines within our society.  …

The Putinist system (seeks) international dominance.”

He lied claiming Russia aims “to destabilize (US) society and the government.”

He compared nonexistent Russian “subversive statecraft (to) Bolshev(ism) and (the) later Soviet state, updated for the digital age.”

Trump regime hardliners are waging propaganda war on Russia and other countries to influence and control the public mind, escalating political and economic war on Russia and other nations – risking hot war by accident or design.

Accusations against the Kremlin are specious. US enemy No. One is targeted for its independence and opposition to US imperial aggression, supporting world peace and stability, along with wanting a marketplace advantage for US corporate predators.

Washington is on a slippery slope toward greater aggression than already – risking humanity destroying nuclear war, the ultimate nightmarish scenario.

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Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago. He can be reached at [email protected].

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

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

Visit his blog site at sjlendman.blogspot.com.

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This short work is another in a wonderful series by Canadian author Yves Engler that examines much of the foreign policy actions and policies of Canadian politics.  In Left, Right, Engler examines the positions of many of the institutions and organizations of the supposed left  – my word “supposed” as I am not sure there is a true ‘left’ remaining in Canada when looking at the broader actions and context of individual initiatives that focus on narrow issues without being related to a broader ‘left’ international view.  

Regardless of my current position on the left, Engler has presented a strong compilation of the contradictions of those nominally on the left, acknowledging that they do contribute to many issues – especially domestic – for the left, but falter or fail on many other issues of foreign policy that support imperial endeavours and corporate-state control of other populations. 

His first target, as it should be, is the NDP, considered to be a party of Canada’s social conscience, helping to determine many policies for Canada.  The Liberals in particular will steal social progressive ideas promoted by the NDP in order to maintain their ‘centre’ perspective in the eyes of Canadian voters.  This was particularly evident in the last election in which the Liberals generally campaigned to the left of the NDP on a number of headline issues (e.g. debt financing).  However for foreign affairs, the NDP do not have much to steal, as their foreign policy is very much in alignment with empire and corporate interests.  

The labour movement is the next target, and again, while they have done a fair bit for Canadian workers, the union bosses are aligned very much with the corporate and political perspectives on foreign policy issues.   The unions are also aligned significantly with U.S. unions, and union personnel are part of the ruling elites circle of friends making the rounds between politics, administration, corporations, and the military.  

Several high profile people on the left are also criticized, essentially for the same reasons.  While supporting strong left stances on certain domestic and even global issues, when it comes to actual global foreign affairs – being Canada’s role in military interventions and corporate support over indigenous rights – these individuals again take on the role of supporting Canada’s overseas adventurism.  

In the second last chapter, “Ties that bind and blind”, the intertwined relationships between the military, think tanks, corporations, politicians and relationships with the U.S. and other foreign policy influences (Israel, Britain, France – essentially NATO).   Special significance is given to two groups whose histories of being victims of imperial/state interference/repression or worse, genocide, would indicate they might choose a much stronger anti-imperialist, anti-corporate, non-interference position.   These two groups are the native people of Canada and the Quebec nationalists, both under the dominant British imperial tradition.  

Unfortunately, money speaks power, influence, and the ability to move people beyond their own best long term interests for short term gain.  This applies to the native groups as well as the Quebec nationalists.  Unfortunately, part of the left’s timidity on foreign relations might be the lack of true grit, the ability to withstand the programmed mainstream thought that Canada is a force for good in the world, a peacekeeping nation.  The record, as viewed here in Left, Right and in Engler’s other works, speaks differently about Canada’s foreign policy actions.  

The final section admits that change will not come easily and quickly.  Engler posits that we need to support those smaller groups that are capable of standing up to the mainstream message of Canada’s foreign policy.  In addition he indicates that he is working to set up an initiative titled the “Canadian Foreign Policy Institute” on the web, on Facebook. It is to provide a central spot for many of the smaller organizations and individuals working to realign Canada’s foreign policy to an acceptable internationally humanitarian position to have their voice heard.  It is currently available on Facebook.   


Title: Left, Right: Marching to the Beat of Imperial Canada

Author: Yves Engler

ISBN: 978-1-55164-663-3

Pages: 264 pages

Click here to order.

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“Economic Genocide” of the Greek Nation

August 22nd, 2018 by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts

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The political and media coverup of the genocide of the Greek Nation began yesterday (August 20) with European Union and other political statements announcing that the Greek Crisis is over. What they mean is that Greece is over, dead, and done with. It has been exploited to the limit, and the carcas has been thrown to the dogs.

350,000 Greeks, mainly the young and professionals, have fled dead Greece. The birth rate is far below the rate necessary to sustain the remaining population. The austerity imposed on the Greek people by the EU, the IMF, and the Greek government has resulted in the contraction of the Greek economy by 25%. The decline is the equivalent of America’s Great Depression, but in Greece the effects were worst. President Franklin D. Roosevelt softened the impact of massive unemployment with the Social Security Act other elements of a social safety net such as deposit insurance, and public works programs, whereas the Greek government following the orders from the IMF and EU worsened the impact of massive unemployment by stripping away the social safety net.

Traditionally, when a sovereign country, whether by corruption, mismanagement, bad luck, or unexpected events, found itself unable to repay its debts, the country’s creditors wrote down the debts to the level that the indebted country could service.

With Greece there was a game change. The European Central Bank, led by Jean-Claude Trichet, and the International Monetary Fund ruled that Greece had to pay the full amount of interest and principal on its government bonds held by German, Dutch, French, and Italian banks.

How was this to be achieved?

In two ways, both of which greatly worsened the crisis, leaving Greece today in a far worst position that it was in at the beginning of the crisis almost a decade ago.

At the beginning of the “crisis,” which would have easily been resolved by writing down part of the debt, the Greek debt was 129% of Greek Gross Domestic Product. Today Greek debt is 180% of GDP.

Why?

Greece was lent more money to pay interest to Greece’s creditors, so that they would not have to lose one cent. The additonal lending, called a “bailout” by the presstitute financial media, was not a bailout of Greece. It was a bailout of Greece’s creditors.

The Obama regime encouraged this bailout, because the American banks, expecting a bailout, had sold credit default swaps on Greek debt. Without a bailout the US banks would have lost their bet and paid default insurance on Greek Bonds.

Additionally, Greece was required to sell its public assets to foreigners and to decimate the Greek social safety net, reducing pensions, for example, to below subsistance incomes and so radically reducing medical care that people die before they can get treatment.

If memory serves, China bought the Greek seaports. Germay bought the airport. Various German and European entities bought the Greek municipal water companies. Real estate speculators bought protected Greek Islands for real estate development.

This plunder of Greek public property did not go toward reducing the debt that Greek owed. It went, along with the new loans, to paying the interest.

The debt, larger than ever still stands. The economy is smaller than ever as is the Greek population that bears the debt.

The declaration that the Greek crisis is over is merely a statement that there is nothing left to extract from the Greek people for the interest of the foreign banks. Greece is sinking fast. All of the income associated with sea ports, airport, municipal utilities, and the rest of public property that was forcibly privatized now belongs to foreigners who take the money out of the country, thus further driving down the Greek economy.

The Greeks have not only had their economic future stolen from them. They have also lost their sovereignty. Greece is not a sovereign nation. It is ruled by the EU and the IMF. In my 2013 book, The Failure of Laissez Faire Capitalism, in Part III, “The End of Sovereignty,” I described clearly how this was done.

The Greek people were betrayed by the Tsipras government. They had the option of revolting and using violence to overthrow the government that sold them out to international bankers. Instead, the Greeks accepted their own destruction and did nothing. Essentially, the Greek population committed mass suicide.

The world financial crisis of 2008 is not over. It has been swept under the rug of massive money creation by the US, EU, UK, and Japanese central banks. The creation of money has far outpaced the growth of real output and has driven up values of financial assets beyond what can be supported by “conditions on the ground.”

How this crisis plays out remains to be seen. It could result in the destruction of Western civilization. Will Dog eat dog? After Greece, will it be Italy, Spain, Portugal, France, Belgium, Australia, Canada, until none are left?

The entirety of the Western World lives in lies fomented by powerful economic interest groups to serve their interests. There is no independent media except online, and those elements are being demonized and denied access. Peoples who live in a world of controlled information have no idea of what is happening to them. Therefore, they cannot act in their interest.

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This article was originally published on the author’s blog site: Paul Craig Roberts Institute for Political Economy.

Dr. Paul Craig Roberts is a frequent contributor to Global Research.

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About 100 ISIS members have been killed in the area of al-Safa in the southern Syrian desert since pro-government forces started the active phase of their military operation there.

According to pro-government sources, this number is likely to grow further because clashes are still ongoing in the area.

The Syrian Arab Army (SAA) repelled an attack by Idlib militants on a post located south of the village of Tal al-Touqan in the southern part of Idlib province. SAA artillery units also engaged militant positions west of Tal al-Touqan.

Two hundred Military Police servicemen have returned from Syria to their base in Russia’s Southern Military District. Earlier, according to official reports, 35 planes and helicopters, flight officers, a medical unit of special purpose and military police officers had already returned to their home bases in Russia.

According to satellite imagery available online, the Russian Aerospace Forces are keeping in Syria at least 9 Su-24M2, 6 Su-34 and Su-35 warplanes as well as an unknown number of attack and military transport helicopters, UAVs and support planes.

Washington is trying to slow down the return of refugees to Syria by refusing to participate in the restoration of the country’s infrastructure, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on August 20 as he met with Lebanese Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil.

At the same time, Bassil said that his country supports Russia’s initiative on Syrian refugees and hopes that it will be employed.

On August 15, Russian Foreign Ministry representative Nikolai Burtsev said that about 11m Syrians are currently considered forcibly displaced persons, 6m of those have become refugees within the country.

In Iraq, late on August 19th, a US serviceman was killed and several others injured when their helicopter crashed after participating in a raid on an ISIS target. The Pentagon said that there is no evidence indicating that the helicopter may have been downed by enemy fire.

The US military did not provide further details into the incident. However, according  to media reports, the helicopter involved was a MH-60 Black Hawk operated by the 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment.

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A somewhat grainy video, presumably shot from a decade old cell phone, shows more than two dozen load Yemeni kids, aged 6 to 15, playing, laughing, and excitedly moving about their school bus, invoking warm childhood memories for anyone who has ever caught a bus to and from a school outing.

Moments later every single one of these kids were killed, vaporized by a Saudi fired missile.

This atrocity took place on 9 August, leaving 51 dead, 40 of whom were children, with most victims under the age of 10, while another 77 were seriously injured, according to the International Red Cross.

The US Department of Defense has tried to downplay the United States role in what must surely constitute a war crime and/or a crime against humanity by either arguing it’s still investigating the matter or by disingenuously minimizing its involvement.

“We may never know if the munition [used] was one that the US sold to them,” Army Maj. Josh Jacques, a spokesperson for US Central Command, told Vox. “We don’t have a lot of people on the ground.”

Well, we do know who sold Saudi Arabia the missile, and there are plenty of Yemeni journalists and international aid agencies in Yemen “on the ground.”

Remnants of the missile, which were posted on Twitter by Hussein Albikaiti, a Sana’a-based journalist, show its CAGE code, serial number, and the wording, “FIN GUIDED BOMB.”

A search of the CAGE code shows the missile to be issued by US defense contractor Lockheed Martin, while the serial number shows it to be a MK-82 missile manufactured by General Dynamics in Fort Worth, Texas.

“A US made laser guided bomb did this 2 a bus full of school children,” tweeted Albikaiti. “The bus was directly hit by a Saudi-UAE jet, fueled by USA plane, coordinates by US and UK satellites. One bomb sent these happy children to the graves after burning them alive and cutting them to pieces.”

Worse – the British and US mainstream media is complicit in the cover-up of yet another atrocity in Yemen, like always!

Maybe the most dangerous reality of the Trump presidency might be the media’s obsessive want to over analyze every tweet, off-hand remark, and gaff made by the current occupant of the White House, which, in turn, places television news networks at the centre of what has been a more than a 3-year long psychodrama if you count the 2016 election campaign.

The media’s obsession with this obviously unhinged and deranged US President comes at the cost of informing the American public of the horrors that are occurring in their name and with their tax dollars in countries many voters can’t even find on a map.

While CNN and a handful of other mainstream television networks carried news of the Saudi coalition missile attack on the school bus, there has been almost no follow up, leaving the public totally in the dark about the role the US played in this war crime, and in what has been described as the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

According to FAIR, a media analysis service, the left-leaning cable news network MSNBC has not run a single segment related to the conflict in Yemen since early 2017 but ran with more than 1,300 broadcasts regarding Trump’s probable but still speculated collusion with Russia during the 2016 election.

The US media demonstrates a proclivity to report on Yemen only when an American serviceman is killed, according to FAIR, with networks devoting substantial coverage to a botched raid on January 29, which left one US soldier dead alongside dozens.

On the August 9th strike in Yemen, the British media has fared no better. The Guardian, for instance, widely considered a “bastion of liberal values and humanitarian concern,” failed to feature the killing of 40 Yemeni children among its 13 headline stories, while the Independent failed to include it among its top 8 headlines, according to Middle East Eye.

Coupled with a lack of media coverage is the near total silence that emanates from both US lawmakers and the Department of Defense, with the latter holding only a few public hearings on Yemen since the conflict began more than 3 years ago, one that has resulted in more than 23 million Yemenis being in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.

This is unconscionable and anti-democratic given the US provides the intelligence, guidance systems, warplanes, bombs, and missiles to the Saudi coalition.

Moreover, on the few occasions, Yemen is mentioned in the media, the extent of the human catastrophe is downplayed and underestimated. For instance, most media reports include a total death count of approximately 10,000 Yemenis, but aid agencies have estimated more than 150,000 died of disease and starvation in 2017 alone, with up to 130 children dying each and everyday.

According to the International Red Cross, 70% of the population needs aid to survive; 2.5 million have no access to clean drinking water; 1 in every 12 is severely malnourished; 940,000 are suspected of having cholera; while almost no medical supplies are getting into the country because of the Saudi blockade of Yemen’s ports, and the destruction of infrastructure throughout the country.

While this is a Saudi war of choice, it is planned and supported by the government of the United States, acting on behalf of the American taxpayer. It’s time the media report the full extent of the US role in prolonging the suffering in the Middle East’s poorest country so that voters can pressure their elected representatives into bringing an end to this senseless violence.

The lives of the next busload of Yemeni school kids depends on it.

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CJ Werleman is a journalist, political commentator, and author of ‘The New Atheist Threat: the Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists.

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Federal forces intervened in this geographically expansive but sparsely populated region last week in order to restore law and order there after the state’s government challenged the central authorities by provocatively deploying their Liyu counter-insurgency forces to the federal city of Dire Dawa. Former Somali Regional President Abdi Mohamoud Omar’s heavy-handed tactics against the previously banned Ogadan National Liberation Front (ONLF) stand in stark contrast to the reconciliatory reforms of new Prime Minister Abiy who recently removed the group from the government’s terrorist list, but the latest conflict was sparked more by a simmering “deep state” power struggle within the country and less by the region’s legitimate security concerns.

Apart from some of the officials in the Tigray Region, the former regional president was considered by many to be one of the last visible representatives of the “hardline” faction of the ruling coalition that has been rapidly swept aside by Prime Minister Abiy’s fast-moving reforms, and it’s possible that he and his backers wanted to see how far they could go in resisting the new government. The central authorities swiftly dealt with this dangerous insubordination and detained president Omar but not before some reprisal attacks were carried out against minorities in the region, which could have catalyzed a Balkanization chain reaction in the ethno-regionally fragile country during this sensitive political transition had the violence not been contained.

Regional president Omar’s removal is being received very positively because of the notorious reputation that he built for himself over the years through what his many critics claimed was his propensity to use disproportionate military force against the ONLF, though it must be said that this group briefly attempted to opportunistically exploit the federal intervention in a last-ditch attempt to increase its post-conflict negotiating leverage with Addis Ababa, but eventually moderated its position and agreed to a unilateral ceasefire. It’s unclear at this moment whether they’ll “compromise” on their separatist stance, but it would be in the best interests of the country if they seriously considered it.

Prime Minister Abiy is leading a peaceful revolution that seeks to substantially decentralize the formerly rigid state and consequently allow for the inclusion of non-traditional actors in its governing apparatuses as it transitions to a functional democracy, hence the removal of the ONLF and a few other prominent groups from the government’s list of terrorist organizations so that they can participate in this process. Theoretically, the end result could see each region receiving more political and economic autonomy, which could dramatically improve the standard of living in the Somali Region if this led to the clinching of a revenue-sharing agreement with the federal center.

The roughly 8,5 million people that inhabit this part of the country are estimated to be sitting on $7 billion worth of natural gas exports a year, which will reach the international market via a pipeline through Djibouti, while its oil reserves there could pass through Eritrea via a newly proposed UAE-built pipeline. The Somali Region is also important as a commercial transit route for the Chinese-built Djibouti-Addis Ababa Railway (DAAR) and Ethiopia’s forthcoming access to the port that it’s jointly constructing with the UAE in neighboring Somaliland’s Berbera. If an equitable economic arrangement could be reached between the central authorities and the Somali Region’s, then the locals would undoubtedly benefit.

Former regional president Omar’s removal makes this possible and can allow Prime Minister Abiy to finally begin making serious progress on implementing this vision all across the nation as he strives to pioneer an Ethiopian Renaissance and turn his cosmopolitan country into an African Great Power, though provided of course that the remaining “hardliners” in the Tigray Region don’t stand in his way.

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

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Samir Amin: Tribute to the Great Master, Comrade and Brother

August 22nd, 2018 by Ndongo Samba Sylla

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Samir Amin (1931-2018) was one of the thinkers of the Global South who contributed decisively to starting the epistemological break with the Eurocentric discourse that permeates the social sciences and humanities. His passing on August 12 is a huge loss for his family, friends, collaborators and many sympathisers around the world. As much as the Marxist intellectual / Communist militant was exceptional with an uncompromising ethical commitment, Samir was also humble, obliging and generous. It was a privilege to have been able to collaborate with this father figure and ardent fighter for the internationalism of the peoples who always signed his emails with the mention ‘fraternally.’ 

It seems appropriate to reproduce the substance of the introduction that I brought during his lifetime and in his presence on October 25, 2014 at the University Cheikh Anta Diop of Dakar. That day, Demba Moussa Dembélé, in collaboration with the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, organised a ceremony in honour of Samir Amin that brought together African intellectuals, diplomats, politicians, students, etc. The words I spoke on this occasion which seem to me even more relevant today than ever:

‘Taking advantage of the opportunity given to me here, I will, with much modesty, try to articulate the intellectual scope of our dear Professor and what I have learned from his teachings. You will understand in a certain way that this is a talk of a student who wandered about with ‘Aminian intuitions’ before having been properly invigorated following the discovery and reading of the writings of Samir Amin.

What fascinates us with Samir Amin is to a certain extent his ‘indiscipline.’ Indiscipline in a double sense. First, his thinking goes beyond existing academic divisions. Samir Amin has mobilised in his research knowledge that is relevant to areas such as history, politics, philosophy, anthropology, sociology of culture, sociology of religions, etc. Since his scientific contributions transcend the field of economics, it is reductive, therefore, to call him an ‘economist.’ And all the more so because we know the definition he gives of the ‘economist’, namely a ‘sincere believer convinced of the virtues of liberalism.’

Second, it must be said that Samir Amin occupies a rebel position in the Marxist citadel, an aspect often ignored. His point of view has always been that being a Marxist means starting from Marx, not stopping at Marx. Amin’s problem with many Western Marxists is either that they did not try to go beyond Marx or, if so, they were not able to lucidly appreciate the analytical implications of the intrinsically imperialist nature of historical capitalism. On the intellectual level, writes Amin, ‘historical Marxism and the left in general are poorly equipped to face the challenge of globalisation.’

If Samir Amin is a prolific thinker, it is because he is at first an undisciplined thinker. The original syntheses he produced and the new breath he brought to the theory of development would not be possible without an attitude of epistemological vigilance which consists in refusing the inconsiderate worship of idols, even if they are comforting on a psychological and ideological levels.

What must also be said about Amin is that he is a systematic thinker. By this I mean that he is one of the few intellectuals capable of proposing great theoretical syntheses which start from a careful examination of historical facts, which are based on coherent reasoning from beginning to end, which makes it possible to understand from a new angle the world in which we live and which continues to keep their relevance with the unfolding of historical time. His scientific work is therefore quite the opposite of standard economics theorists who have the license not to discuss the theoretical assumptions of their models, to disregard reality in the construction of their models, to ignore new facts that may refute them and not to scrutinise their analytical implications. Indeed, for standard economics, normal science consists in the enhancement of the ‘epistemology of ignorance’ (to use a concept of the Jamaican-American philosopher Charles Wade Mills).

It is not my purpose to go into the details of Amin’s scientific contributions. I will confine myself to indicating some lessons which seem to me essential.

From his earliest publications, Amin defended the thesis that capitalism should be understood as a global system with specific historical properties. One of them concerns the new relationship it introduces between the economic on the one hand, the political and the ideological on the other. Amin rightly observes that the law of value, the fact that the economy dictates its law in all social spheres, operates only in the capitalist system. In earlier systems, as he emphasises, power commanded wealth. With capitalism, it is wealth that now commands power. This inversion, far from being a violation of the canons of historical materialism, is illustrative of the subtlety of a thought attentive to the qualitative changes that punctuate historical evolution. In insisting on the historical specificity of the law of value, Samir Amin allows us to see, following Marx, that capitalism is accompanied by a form of alienation (commodity fetishism) which differs from the preceding forms of alienation of a religious type. It also protects us from the temptation to apply the laws of capitalism to the historical systems that preceded it. A trap in which most neoclassical economists fall: for example, in the latest book by Thomas Piketty who claims to talk about capitalism, yet there are charts that show the evolution of the global rate of return on capital before and after tax, from Antiquity to the present day!

One of the most important characteristics of the capitalist system, as opposed to the type of historical system that preceded it, and to which Samir Amin gave the name of ‘tributary mode of production,’ is its polarising nature. In other words, capitalism is a system which, far from homogenising the world under the rule of the law of value, creates and magnifies by necessity the economic inequalities between the countries of the centers and those of the peripheries. Indeed, the capitalist system is intrinsically imperialist. Imperialism, says Samir Amin in contradistinction to Lenin, is not the supreme stage of capitalism. Imperialism is inscribed in the DNA of capitalism. Moreover, its processes have evolved historically: from imperialisms in plural – that is competing imperialist powers – we moved to a collective imperialism of the Triad (United States, Europe and Japan). By insisting on the specifics of contemporary imperialism, Samir Amin distanced himself very early from the rather vague and nebulous theories of Antonio Negri and Michael Hardt, authors who defend the idea of ​​an ‘Empire’ without imperialists.

As part of his conceptualisation of historical capitalism, Samir Amin could not help tackling Eurocentrism. As an important aspect of the dominant ideology, Eurocentrism has the function of hiding the true nature of the capitalist system, including its imperialist foundations and the form of alienation it produces, to distort the history of its genesis via its insistence on European exceptionalism, and to mask its polarising character. Through his criticism of Eurocentrism and the culturalist reactions that it provoked, Amin was able to highlight its racist cultural foundations, its ideological nature as well as its scientific limitations.

If Samir Amin offered one of the most penetrating and original critiques of ‘scientific capitalism’ (a humorous phrase I borrow from James Ferguson) he also pointed out what alternative paths can lead the ‘wretched of the earth’ towards the authentic human civilisation that capitalism can only refuse them. At this point, we arrive to the Aminian reflections around ‘delinking’: a concept that does not mean an autarchic retreat but rather ‘a strategic inversion in the vision of internal/external relations, in response to the unavoidable requirements of a self-centered development.’

The ‘delinking’ program is based on the observation that there can be no economic ‘catch-up’ within the capitalist system. For one simple reason: what exacerbates the polarisation between centers and peripheries is the fact that globalisation operates only in two dimensions – capital flows on one side, goods and services flows on the other – and does not concern labour movements. If the peripheral countries, about 80 percent of the world’s population, want to ‘catch up by imitating’ the countries of the centers, they would have to find, according to Amin, five to six new Americas in order to reduce their structural surplus of manpower. To ‘delink’ for the countries of the peripheries thus supposes to break out of the illusion of ‘catching up.’ Indeed, as Samir Amin says, when one realises, by virtue of the law of worldwide value, that the reproduction of the Western ‘model’ is impossible to realise in the global South, then it will be necessary to turn towards alternatives.

Yet, on this point, Samir Amin teaches us that the delinking strategies that were successful yesterday are not necessarily valid today. These must take into account the transformations of the capitalist/imperialist system. In the past, industrialisation could be an acceptable indicator of economic development. Nowadays, this is not necessarily the case because countries have been able to industrialise while remaining peripheral. So, according to Samir Amin, the opposition industrialised countries/non-industrialised countries has now lost its empirical relevance.

The struggle today for the peoples of the peripheries is, according to Amin, to put an end to the ‘five monopolies’ exercised by the Triad, which are the basis of the polarising dynamics characteristic of contemporary capitalism. These include the monopoly of weapons of mass destruction, the monopoly of technologies, the control of financial flows, the monopoly of access to the planet’s natural resources and the monopoly of communications. Tackling these monopolies is obviously not an easy task. For Samir Amin, this requires ‘daring’, a daring that must be translated in the Global North by the emergence of an anti-monopolies front and in the Global South by that of an anti-comprador front. At a stage where, to use his own terms, capitalism has become ‘senile’, ‘abstract’ and even ‘barbaric’ the delinking program implies in particular for the countries of the South to defend family farming, via a more egalitarian distribution of land. Otherwise it is difficult to imagine how these countries could manage in a civilised way their structural excess of manpower. This would figure among the starting points for the long road towards socialism.

I will end by pointing out that Amin is also a man of great generosity. Thanks to his sense of initiative, he has helped to set up high quality research institutes (Enda Tiers Monde, CODESRIA, African Institute for Economic Development and Planning, World Forum for Alternatives, Third World Forum). Through his writings, his interventions and conferences, he has never ceased to give and to highlight the perspective of the Global South and the wretched of the earth. That he is at the moment one of the leading figures of the movement for a globalisation in the service of the peoples is not at all a surprise, considering his extraordinary intellectual itinerary.

Dear Professor, we will certainly never be able to pay tribute to you for the immensity and wealth of the contributions you have made over the last fifty years. But we will try to keep the Aminian tradition ‘hot’, especially with the younger generations. I also hope that the community of radical sympathisers, activists and researchers will soon be able to organise themselves in such a way as to be able to properly honour you. Thank you for your attention.’

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This article was originally published on ROAPE.

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Beijing’s Bid for Global Power in the Age of Trump

August 22nd, 2018 by Prof Alfred McCoy

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As the second year of Donald Trump’s presidency and sixth of Xi Jinping’s draws to a close, the world seems to be witnessing one of those epochal clashes that can change the contours of global power. Just as conflicts between American President Woodrow Wilson and British Prime Minister Lloyd George produced a failed peace after World War I, competition between Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and American President Harry Truman sparked the Cold War, and the rivalry between Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev and President John F. Kennedy brought the world to the brink of nuclear war, so the empowered presidents of the United States and China are now pursuing bold, intensely personal visions of new global orders that could potentially reshape the trajectory of the twenty-first century — or bring it all down.

The countries, like their leaders, are a study in contrasts. China is an ascending superpower, riding a wave of rapid economic expansion with a burgeoning industrial and technological infrastructure, a growing share of world trade, and surging self-confidence. The United States is a declining hegemon, with a crumbling infrastructure, a failing educational system, a shrinking slice of the global economy, and a deeply polarized, divided citizenry. After a lifetime as the ultimate political insider, Xi Jinping became China’s president in 2013, bringing with him a bold internationalist vision for the economic integration of Asia, Africa, and Europe through monumental investment in infrastructure that could ultimately expand and extend the current global economy. After a short political apprenticeship as a conspiracy advocate, Donald Trump took office in 2017 as an ardent America First nationalist determined to disrupt or even dismantle an American-built-and-dominated international order he disdained for supposedly constraining his country’s strength.

Although they started this century on generally amicable terms, China and the U.S. have, in recent years, moved toward military competition and open economic conflict. When China was admitted to the World Trade Organization (WTO) in 2001, Washington was confident that Beijing would play by the established rules and become a compliant member of an American-led international community. There was almost no awareness of what might happen when a fifth of humanity joined the world system as an economic equal for the first time in five centuries.

By the time Xi Jinping became China’s seventh president, a decade of rapid economic growth averaging 11% annually and currency reserves surging toward an unprecedented $4 trillion had created the economic potential for a rapid, radical shift in the global balance of power. After just a few months in office, Xi began tapping those vast reserves to launch a bold geopolitical gambit, a genuine challenge to U.S. dominion over Eurasia and the world beyond. Aglow in its status as the world’s sole superpower after “winning” the Cold War, Washington had difficulty at first even grasping such newly developing global realities and was slow to react.

China’s bid couldn’t have been more fortuitous in its timing. After nearly 70 years as the globe’s hegemon, Washington’s dominance over the world economy had begun to wither and its once-superior work force to lose its competitive edge. By 2016, in fact, the dislocations brought on by the economic globalization that had gone with American dominion sparked a revolt of the dispossessed in democracies worldwide and in the American heartland, bringing the self-proclaimed “populist” Donald Trump to power. Determined to check his country’s decline, he has adopted an aggressive and divisive foreign policy that has roiled long-established alliances in both Asia and Europe and is undoubtedly giving that decline new impetus.

Within months of Trump’s entry into the Oval Office, the world was already witnessing a sharp rivalry between Xi’s advocacy of a new form of global collaboration and Trump’s version of economic nationalism. In the process, humanity seems to be entering a rare historical moment when national leadership and global circumstances have coincided to create an opening for a major shift in the nature of the world order.

Trump’s Disruptive Foreign Policy

Despite their constant criticism of Donald Trump’s leadership, few among Washington’s corps of foreign policy experts have grasped his full impact on the historic foundations of American global power. The world order that Washington built after World War II rested upon what I’ve called a “delicate duality”: an American imperium of raw military and economic power married to a community of sovereign nations, equal under the rule of law and governed through international institutions such as the United Nations and the World Trade Organization.

Source: CSMonitor.com

On the realpolitik side of that duality, Washington constructed a four-tier apparatus — military, diplomatic, economic, and clandestine — to advance a global dominion of unprecedented wealth and power. This apparatus rested on hundreds of military bases in Europe and Asia that made the U.S. the first power in history to dominate (if not control) the Eurasian continent.

Even after the Cold War ended, former national security adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski warned that Washington would remain the world’s preeminent power only as long as it maintained its geopolitical dominion over Eurasia. In the decade before Trump’s election, there were, however, already signs that America’s hegemony was on a downward trajectory as its share of global economic power fell from 50% in 1950 to just 15% in 2017. Many financial forecasts now project that China will surpass the U.S. as the world’s number one economy by 2030, if not before.

In this era of decline, there has emerged from President Trump’s torrent of tweets and off-the-cuff remarks a surprisingly coherent and grim vision of America’s place in the present world order. Instead of reigning confidently over international organizations, multilateral alliances, and a globalized economy, Trump evidently sees America standing alone and beleaguered in an increasingly troubled world — exploited by self-aggrandizing allies, battered by unequal trade terms, threatened by tides of undocumented immigrants, and betrayed by self-serving elites too timid or compromised to defend the nation’s interests.

Instead of multilateral trade pacts like NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), or even the WTO, Trump favors bilateral deals rewritten to the (supposed) advantage of the United States. In place of the usual democratic allies like Canada and Germany, he is trying to weave a web of personal ties to avowedly nationalist and autocratic leaders of a sort he clearly admires: Vladimir Putin in Russia, Viktor Orbán in Hungary, Narendra Modi in India, Adel Fatah el-Sisi in Egypt, and Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman of Saudi Arabia.

Instead of old alliances like NATO, Trump favors loose coalitions of like-minded countries. As he sees it, a resurgent America will carry the world along, while crushing terrorists and dealing in uniquely personal ways with rogue states like Iran and North Korea.

His version of a foreign policy has found its fullest statement in his administration’s December 2017 National Security Strategy. As he took office, the nation, it claimed, faced “an extraordinarily dangerous world, filled with a wide range of threats.” But in less than a year of his leadership, it insisted,

“We have renewed our friendships in the Middle East… to help drive out terrorists and extremists… America’s allies are now contributing more to our common defense, strengthening even our strongest alliances.”

Humankind will benefit from the president’s “beautiful vision” that “puts America First” and promotes “a balance of power that favors the United States.” The whole world will, in short, be “lifted by America’s renewal.”

Despite such grandiose claims, each of President Trump’s overseas trips has been a mission of destruction in terms of American global power. Each, seemingly by design, disrupted and possibly damaged alliances that have been the foundation for Washington’s global power since the 1950s. During the president’s first foreign trip in May 2017, he promptly voiced withering complaints about the supposed refusal of Washington’s European allies to pay their “fair share” of NATO’s military costs, leaving the U.S. stuck with the bill and, in a fashion unknown to American presidents, refused even to endorse the alliance’s core principle of collective defense. It was a position so extreme in terms of the global politics of the previous half-century that he was later forced to formally back down. (By then, however, he had registered his contempt for those allies in an unforgettable fashion.)

During a second, no-less-divisive NATO visit in July, he charged that Germany was “a captive of Russia” and pressed the allies to immediately double their share of defense spending to a staggering 4% of gross domestic product (a level even Washington, with its monumental Pentagon budget, hasn’t reached) — a demand they all ignored. Just days later, he again questioned the very idea of a common defense, remarking that if “tiny” NATO ally Montenegro decided to “get aggressive,” then “congratulations, you’re in World War III.”

Moving on to England, he promptly kneecapped close ally Theresa May, telling a British tabloid that the prime minister had bungled her country’s Brexit withdrawal from the European Union and “killed off any chance of a vital U.S. trade deal.” He then went on to Helsinki for a summit with Vladimir Putin, where he visibly abased himself before NATO’s nominal nemesis, completely enough that there were even brief, angry protests from leaders of his own party.

During Trump’s major Asia tour in November 2017, he addressed the Asian-Pacific Economic Council (APEC) in Vietnam, offering an extended “tirade” against multilateral trade agreements, particularly the WTO. To counter intolerable “trade abuses,” such as “product dumping, subsidized goods, currency manipulation, and predatory industrial policies,” he swore that he would always “put America first” and not let it “be taken advantage of anymore.” Having denounced a litany of trade violations that he termed nothing less than “economic aggression” against America, he invited everyone there to share his “Indo-Pacific dream” of the world as a “beautiful constellation” of “strong, sovereign, and independent nations,” each working like the United States to build “wealth and freedom.”

Responding to such a display of narrow economic nationalism from the globe’s leading power, Xi Jinping had a perfect opportunity to play the world statesman and he took it, calling upon APEC to support an economic order that is “more open, inclusive, and balanced.” He spoke of China’s future economic plans as an historic bid for “interconnected development to achieve common prosperity… on the Asian, European, and African continents.”

As China has lifted 60 million of its own people out of poverty in just a few years and was committed to its complete eradication by 2020, so he urged a more equitable world order “to bring the benefits of development to countries across the globe.” For its part, China, he assured his listeners, was ready to make “$2 trillion of outbound investment” — much of it for the development of Eurasia and Africa (in ways, of course, that would link that vast region more closely to China). In other words, he sounded like a twenty-first century Chinese version of a twentieth-century American president, while Donald Trump acted more like Argentina’s former presidente Juan Perón, minus the medals. As if to put another nail in the coffin of American global dominion, the remaining 11 Trans-Pacific trade pact partners, led by Japan and Canada, announced major progress in finalizing that agreement — without the United States.

In addition to undermining NATO, America’s Pacific alliances, long its historic fulcrum for the defense of North America and the dominance of Asia, are eroding, too. Even after 10 personal meetings and frequent phone calls between Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and Donald Trump during his first 18 months in office, the president’s America First trade policy has placeda “major strain” on Washington’s most crucial alliance in the region. First, he ignored Abe’s pleas and cancelled the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade pact and then, as if his message hadn’t been strong enough, he promptly imposed heavy tariffs on Japanese steel imports. Similarly, he’s denounced the Canadian prime minister as “dishonest” and mimicked Indian Prime Minister Modi’s accent, even as he made chummy with North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un and then claimed, inaccurately, that his country was “no longer a nuclear threat.”

It all adds up to a formula for further decline at a faster pace.

Beijing’s Grand Strategy

While Washington’s influence in Asia recedes, Beijing’s grows ever stronger. As China’s currency reserves climbed rapidly from $200 billion in 2001 to a peak of $4 trillion in 2014, President Xi launched a new initiative of historic import. In September 2013, speaking in Kazakhstan, the heart of Asia’s ancient Silk Road caravan route, he proclaimed a “one belt, one road initiative” aimed at economically integrating the enormous Eurasian land mass around Beijing’s leadership. Through “unimpeded trade” and infrastructure investment, he suggested, it would be possible to connect “the Pacific and the Baltic Sea” in a proposed “economic belt along the Silk Road,” a region “inhabited by close to 3 billion people.” It could become, he predicted, “the biggest market in the world with unparalleled potential.”

Within a year, Beijing had established a Chinese-dominated Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank with 56 member nations and an impressive $100 billion in capital, while launching its own $40 billion Silk Road Fund for private equity projects. When China convened what it called a “belt and road summit” of 28 world leaders in Beijing in May 2017, Xi could, with good reason, hail his initiative as the “project of the century.”

Although the U.S. media has often described the individual projects involved in his “one belt, one road” project as wasteful, sybaritic, exploitative, or even neo-colonial, its sheer scale and scope merits closer consideration. Beijing is expected to put a mind-boggling $1.3 trillion into the initiative by 2027, the largest investment in human history, more than 10 times the famed American Marshall Plan, the only comparable program, which spent a more modest $110 billion (when adjusted for inflation) to rebuild a ravaged Europe after World War II.

Beijing’s low-cost infrastructure loans for 70 countries from the Baltic to the Pacific are already funding construction of the Mediterranean’s busiest port at Piraeus, Greece, a major nuclear power plant in England, a $6 billion railroadthrough rugged Laos, and a $46 billion transport corridor across Pakistan. If successful, such infrastructure investments could help knit two dynamic continents, Europe and Asia — home to a full 70% percent of the world’s population and its resources — into a unified market without peer on the planet.

Underlying this flurry of flying dirt and flowing concrete, the Chinese leadership seems to have a design for transcending the vast distances that have historically separated Asia from Europe. As a start, Beijing is building a comprehensive network of trans-continental gas and oil pipelines to import fuels from Siberia and Central Asia for its own population centers. When the system is complete, there will be an integrated inland energy grid (including Russia’s extensive network of pipelines) that will extend 6,000 miles across Eurasia, from the North Atlantic to the South China Sea. Next, Beijing is working to link Europe’s extensive rail network with its own expanded high-speed rail system via transcontinental lines through Central Asia, supplemented by spur lines running due south to Singapore and southwest through Pakistan.

Finally, to facilitate sea transport around the sprawling continent’s southern rim, China has already bought into or is in the process of building more than 30 major port facilities, stretching from the Straits of Malacca across the Indian Ocean, around Africa, and along Europe’s extended coastline. In January, to take advantage of Arctic waters opened by global warming, Beijing began planning for a “Polar Silk Road,” a scheme that fits well with ambitious Russian and Scandinavian projects to establish a shorter shipping route around the continent’s northern coast to Europe.

Though Eurasia is its prime focus, China is also pursuing economic expansion in Africa and Latin America to create what might be dubbed the strategy of the four continents. To tie Africa into its projected Eurasian network, Beijing already had doubled its annual trade there by 2015 to $222 billion, three times that of the United States, thanks to a massive infusion of capital expected to reach a trillion dollars by 2025. Much of it is financing the sort of commodities extraction that has already made the continent China’s second largest source of crude oil. Similarly, Beijing has invested heavily in Latin America, acquiring, for instance, control over 90% of Ecuador’s oil reserves. As a result, its commerce with that continent doubled in a decade, reaching $244 billion in 2017, topping U.S. trade with what once was known as its own “backyard.”

A Conflict with Consequences

This contest between Xi’s globalism and Trump’s nationalism has not been safely confined to an innocuous marketplace of ideas. Over the past four years, the two powers have engaged in an escalating military rivalry and a cutthroat commercial competition. Apart from a shadowy struggle for dominance in space and cyberspace, there has also been a visible, potentially volatile naval arms race to control the sea lanes surrounding Asia, specifically in the Indian Ocean and South China Sea. In a 2015 white paper, Beijing stated that “it is necessary for China to develop a modern maritime military force structure commensurate with its national security.” Backed by lethal land-based missiles, jet fighters, and a global satellite system, China has built just such a modernized fleet of 320 ships, including nuclear submarines and its first aircraft carriers.

Within two years, U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Admiral John Richardson reported that China’s “growing and modernized fleet” was “shrinking” the traditional American advantage in the Pacific, and warned that “we must shake off any vestiges of comfort or complacency.” Under Trump’s latest $700-billion-plus defense budget, Washington has responded to this challenge with a crash program to build 46 new ships, which will raise its total to 326 by 2023. As China builds new naval bases bristling with armaments in the Arabian and South China seas, the U.S. Navy has begun conducting assertive “freedom-of-navigation” patrols near many of those same installations, heightening the potential for conflict.

It is in the commercial realm of trade and tariffs, however, where competition has segued into overt conflict. Acting on his belief that “trade wars are good and easy to win,” President Trump slapped heavy tariffs, targeted above all at China, on steel imports in March and, just a few weeks later, punished that country’s intellectual property theft by promising tariffs on $50 billion of Chinese imports. When those tariffs finally hit in July, China immediately retaliated against what it called “typical trade bullying” with similar tariffs on U.S. goods. The Financial Times warned that this “tit-for-tat” can escalate into a “full bore trade war… that will be very bad for the global economy.” As Trump threatened to tax $500 billion more in Chinese imports and issuedconfusing, even contradictory demands that made it unlikely Beijing could ever comply, observers became concerned that a long-lasting trade war could destabilize what the New York Times called the “mountain of debt” that sustains much of China’s economy. In Washington, the usually taciturn Federal Reserve chairman issued an uncommon warning that “trade tensions… could pose serious risks to the U.S. and global economy.”

China as Global Hegemon?

Although a withering of Washington’s global reach, abetted and possibly accelerated by the Trump presidency, is already underway, the shape of any future world order is still anything but clear. At present, China is the sole state with the obvious requisites for becoming the planet’s new hegemon. Its phenomenal economic rise, coupled with its expanding military and growing technological prowess, provide that country with the obvious fundamentals for superpower status.

Yet neither China nor any other state seems to have the full imperial complement of attributes to replace the United States as the dominant world leader. Apart from its rising economic and military clout, China, like its sometime ally Russia, has a self-referential culture, non-democratic political structures, and a developing legal system that could deny it some of the key instruments for global leadership.

In addition to the fundamentals of military and economic power, “every successful empire,” observes Cambridge University historian Joya Chatterji, “had to elaborate a universalist and inclusive discourse” to win support from the world’s subordinate states and their leaders. Successful imperial transitions driven by the hard power of guns and money also require the soft-power salve of cultural suasion for sustained and successful global dominion. Spain espoused Catholicism and Hispanism, the Ottomans Islam, the Soviets communism, France a cultural francophonie, and Britain an Anglophone culture. Indeed, during its century of global dominion from 1850 to 1940, Britain was the exemplar par excellence of such soft power, evincing an enticing cultural ethos of fair play and free markets that it propagated through the Anglican church, the English language and its literature, and the virtual invention of modern athletics (cricket, soccer, tennis, rugby, and rowing). Similarly, at the dawn of its global dominion, the United States courted allies worldwide through soft-power programs promoting democracy and development. These were made all the more palatable by the appeal of such things as Hollywood films, civic organizations like Rotary International, and popular sports like basketball and baseball.

China has nothing comparable. Its writing system has some 7,000 characters, not 26 letters. Its communist ideology and popular culture are remarkably, even avowedly, particularistic. And you don’t have to look far for another Asian power that attempted Pacific dominion without the salve of soft power. During Japan’s occupation of Southeast Asia in World War II, its troops went from being hailed as liberators to facing open revolt across the region after they failed to propagate their similarly particularistic culture.

As command-economy states for much of the past century, neither China nor Russia developed an independent judiciary or the autonomous rules-based order that undergirds the modern international system. From the foundation of the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague in 1899 through the formation of the International Court of Justice under the U.N.’s 1945 charter, the world’s nations have aspired to the resolution of conflicts via arbitration or litigation rather than armed conflict. More broadly, the modern globalized economy is held together by a web of conventions, treaties, patents, and contracts grounded in law.

From its founding in 1949, the People’s Republic of China gave primacy to the party and state, slowing the growth of an autonomous legal system and the rule of law. A test of its attitude toward this system of global governance came in 2016 when the Permanent Court of Arbitration at The Hague ruledunanimously that China’s claims to sovereignty in the South China Sea “are contrary to the Convention [on the Law of the Sea] and without lawful effect.” Beijing’s Foreign Ministry simply dismissed the adverse decision as “invalid” and without “binding force.” President Xi insisted China’s “territorial sovereignty and maritime rights” were unchanged, while the state Xinhua news agency called the ruling “naturally null and void.” Although China might be well placed to supplant Washington’s economic and military power, its capacity to assume leadership via that other aspect of the delicate duality of global power, a network of international organizations grounded in the rule of law, is still open to question.

If Donald Trump’s vision of world disorder is a sign of the American future and if Beijing’s projected $2 trillion in infrastructure investments, history’s largest by far, succeed in unifying the commerce and transport of Asia, Africa, and Europe, then perhaps the currents of financial power and global leadership will indeed transcend all barriers and flow inexorably toward Beijing, as if by natural law. But if that bold initiative ultimately fails, then for the first time in five centuries the world may face an imperial transition without a clear successor as global hegemon. Moreover, it will do so on a planet where the “new normal” of climate change — the heating of the atmosphere and the oceans, the intensification of flood, drought, and fire, the rising seas that will devastate coastal cities, and the cascading damage to a densely populated world — could mean that the very idea of a global hegemon is fast becoming a thing of the past.

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Alfred W. McCoy, a TomDispatch regular, is the Harrington professor of history at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He is the author of The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, the now-classic book which probed the conjuncture of illicit narcotics and covert operations over 50 years, and the recently published In the Shadows of the American Century: The Rise and Decline of U.S. Global Power (Dispatch Books).

The consensus among “Progressives” and Left Democrats is that Alex Jones is a “conspiracy theorist” (allegedly involved in hate speech) and censorship against him has nothing to do with First Amendment rights which guarantee Freedom of Speech.

While the media has provided extensive coverage of the Alex Jones saga, the crackdown on progressive voices by self-proclaimed “Progressives” has not hit the headlines.

Bonnie Faulkner’s Guns and Butter weekly program on KPFA has been closed down by Pacifica. It was among the station’s most popular programs over a period of 17 years. Not a word from the mainstream media. 

This decision against Bonnie Faulkner is also intended to suppress the voices of prominent authors, activists, lawyers, scientists, politicians and scholars who have contributed to Bonnie’s weekly program over the past 17 years. (See archive here)

Historically, the Pacifica Radio (KPFA) network based in Berkeley, California was a powerful independent voice. No more.

This is the text of their letter to Bonnie:

 

Let us ensure that Bonnie Faulkner’s program goes back on the air.

Our thanks to NoLiesRadio.Org and TruthTroubadour

Michel Chossudovsky, Global Research, August 21, 2018

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click here to contact Pacifica (KPFA) 

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Below is the video recording from Aug 18, 2018 public meeting of the KPFA Local Station Board “Public Comments” session in Berkeley, CA. Bonnie Faulkner is speaking against the censorship of her Guns & Butter Radio show, which she has hosted for about 17 years. 

“There is widespread about the “deep politics” show being censored in the midst of a wave of censorship and loss of civility in these post 9/11 crime times.”

NoLiesRadio.Org is a Pacifica Affiliate, which entitles it to broadcast on the internet many of the same shows that are produced at KPFA and other network stations.

Guns and Butter has been a popular program on KPFA for about 17 years.

It has reached a new and wider international audience on internet radio via NoLiesRadio.


Pacifica’s History and Mandate. Committed to the Truth???

94.1, KPFA is a community powered radio station … For nearly 70 years KPFA has investigated the contemporary intersections of class, race, distribution of wealth and it’s affects on the citizens of our Northern and Central California coverage area.

Over the years we’ve advanced the discussions and told the truth about historical moments of political impasse, racial tensions and economic inequality. Our mission and hope is to provide diverse programming that provokes thought and reaction on a complexity of issues for our community of listeners.

 

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The Syrian military has continued redeploying its elite forces from the southern part of the country to the contact line with forces of Hayat Tahrir al-Sham (formerly Jabhat al-Nusra) and other militant groups in southern Idlib and northern Latakia.

Last weekend, several units of the 4th Armoured Division, armed with battle tanks, rocket launchers and artillery guns, started their re-deployment to northern Latakia.

Earlier units of the Tiger Forces and the 5th Assault Corps occupied their positions in southern Idlib and nearby northern Hama.

Since mid August, Hayat Tahrir al-Sham and other militant groups have been carrying out operations to crack down on supporters of the reconciliation deal with the Damascus government in the province of Idlib. According to various sources, militants have detained over 100 civilians in the framework of this effort.

Militants are expecting that a major part of the local population in the militant-held areas will welcome a military operation by government forces and provide some assistance to government troops.

On the same time, militant-controlled councils in several villages and towns in southern Idlib released a statement calling on Turkey to impose own “mandate” in this area de-facto declaring a military occupation. This statement is another example of the so-called soft-power employed by pro-Turkish forces in the militant-held areas.

A security operation of the Syrian Army and its allies is ongoing in the area of al-Safa near the administrative border between al-Suwayda and Rif Dimashq. Despite the army’s efforts, ISIS cells are still keeping some positions in the area.

Last weekend, a special forces unit of the 1st Division ambushed a group of ISIS members fleeing al-Safa. According to pro-government sources, up to 25 ISIS members were killed. This indicates that the remaining members of ISIS in al-Safa may soon make another attempt to withdraw from the besieged area towards the Homs-Deir Ezzor desert and then towards the border with Iraq.

Meanwhile, negotiations on a possible peaceful settlement of the situation in northern and northwestern Syria are ongoing between Ankara, Teheran and Moscow. According to public information, the sides have so far reached no final understanding on the situation in Idlib. Thus, the situation between government forces and militants may escalate there soon.

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On Wednesday, Israel carried out a 24-hour, round-the-clock military assault on Gaza, one of the most densely populated places on earth, killing at least three Palestinians, including a 23-year-old pregnant mother and her 18-month-old daughter.

Images of the young family’s blood splattered home trickled out onto the Internet, but that’s pretty much where much of the media’s reporting of Israel’s latest effort to ramp up its most recent and ongoing siege of the embattled Palestinian enclave started and ended.

Not a single mainstream television network in the United States carried any mention of Israel’s barrage of 140 bombs and missiles directed at Gaza on Wednesday, which came on the back of a sustained Israeli effort to break the will of Palestinian resistance since the Great Return March began more than four months ago.

Since March 30, Israel has killed more than 150 unarmed Palestinian protesters, alongside a number of slain medics and journalists in Gaza. According to Palestinian health officials, more than 16,000 have been wounded.

You wouldn’t know any of this, however, if your sole or primary source of information comes courtesy of mainstream television networks. When a Palestinian, who after years of subjugation, knowing nothing but a permanent state of Israeli military occupation, carries out an act of random violence in Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, US television networks not only carry round-the-clock reports of the attack, but also with headlines that sensationalize and decontextualize the violence, such as “Terror in Tel Aviv: Palestinian Stabs Israeli Man to Death.”

When Palestinians are systematically slaughtered en masse, however, like they were when the Israeli military killed 59 unarmed protesters in a single day on the day of the opening of the US embassy in Jerusalem in May, their deaths were described benignly as “confrontations,” and when Israel carries out an all-out assault on Gaza, the contest between the region’s most powerful military and the Palestinian civilian population is described as a “war.”

Noam Chomsky, the famed MIT professor and linguist, eloquently and famously called Israel’s violence for what it is when he stated,

“Israel uses sophisticated attack jets and naval vessels to bomb densely-crowded refugee camps, schools, apartment blocks, mosques, and slums to attack a population that has no air force, no air defense, no navy, no heavy weapons, no artillery units, no mechanized armor, no command in control, no army… and calls it a war. It is not a war, it is murder!”

On the odd occasion Western media outlets do factually report Israel’s indiscriminate and intentional use of violent force to murder Palestinians, it’s typically followed by either a story that “balances” out a “both sides” narrative, usually involving comments from an Israeli spokesperson or military commander, or the original report is edited in a way that suggests the original story hadn’t passed the desk of Israeli government censors.

The BBC News is case in point. On Wednesday, the British government-controlled news agency tweeted a succinct and error-free headline regarding Israel’s 24-hour bombardment of Gaza. The headline read, “Israeli air strikes kill woman and toddler.

Within moments of posting the tweet, Israeli online trolls and government officials swamped BBC News Twitter account, with Israel’s Foreign Ministry Spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, demanding the network change the headline “immediately.”

Change it immediately, the BBC News did. The network deleted the original tweet, replacing it with, “Gaza air strikes kill woman and child after rockets hit Israel.”

First of all, no Israelis were killed by these rockets, which typically fall harmlessly in empty fields adjourning Gaza. Secondly, only one Israeli soldier has been killed during the same period more than 150 unarmed Palestinians have been killed and more than 15,000 wounded by the Israeli military. Thirdly, the Israeli military recently and openly admitted it is targeting the populated civilian areas in Gaza, “so residents feel the price of the escalation and demand explanations from Hamas.”

Hamas, the product of Israeli creation, is again being used as a fig leaf by Israel to ‘justify’ its 70-year long ongoing effort to ethnically cleanse Palestine of the Palestinian people, while the US media goes along for the ride, echoing both Israel and the Trump administration’s propaganda.

When Israeli gunned down nearly 60 peaceful and already engaged Palestinian protesters in a single day in May, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley shamelessly blamed Hamas, even though Hamas had nothing to do with the Great Return March protests. In turn, an Israeli friendly US media amplifies these lies, particularly outlets aligned with right-wing politics. FOX News, for instance, blamed Palestinians for their own deaths, framing unarmed protesters as “instigators.”

The near-total blackout of coverage on Israel’s air assault on Gaza this week in the US media speaks to something even more sinister, however. What television networks chose to cover reflects both the preferences of producers and the interests of their respective audiences. Networks are driven by a single motive: profit, which is driven by ratings. In choosing not to cover Israel’s latest round of unjustifiable violence against the Palestinian people, American audiences are conveying to their most watched news programs that they care not one iota for Palestinian lives.

And that, right there, is the most damning indictment of all!

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CJ Werleman is a journalist, political commentator, and author of ‘The New Atheist Threat: the Dangerous Rise of Secular Extremists.

Featured image is from The Bullet.

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A public consultation has been launched into changes to the UK’s torture policy or “Consolidated Guidance”, which tells UK personnel how far they can go in participating in the interrogation suspects held by a foreign country or receiving intelligence that could have been obtained through torture.

This move follows a leaked Foreign Office memo which revealed that the Prime Minister, Theresa May, was planning to ignore a recommendation to hold a consultation and instead have only a “light-touch” review of the policy. This will be the first public review of the guidance since its publication in 2010.

The Consultation is being overseen by the Investigatory Powers Commissioner’s Office (IPCO), the regulator for the intelligence services. It comes shortly after a report by Parliament’s Intelligence and Security Committee revealed systemic UK involvement in mistreatment and just three months after the Prime Minister issued an unprecedented apology to former Libyan dissident Abdul Hakim Belhaj and his wife Fatima Boudchar over the Government’s role in their torture and rendition.

Last December, the Intelligence Services Commissioner revealed that in a single year GCHQ had wrongly failed to apply the Guidance in a total of 35 cases, and that in 8 of those cases the Guidance would have blocked information being shared as the risk of torture and mistreatment was too great.

Commenting, Dan Dolan, Head of Policy at Reprieve, said:

“This review is sorely needed and long overdue. At a time when the US President has endorsed the use of ‘waterboarding and a hell of a lot worse’, the UK should stand firm against any involvement in torture. Unfortunately, the current torture policy is so riddled with loopholes that it is simply not fit for purpose.

“The most recent figures from the UK’s intelligence watchdog showed that on average GCHQ officers wrongly ignore the Guidance every eleven days, and that this risks involving the UK in torture once every seven weeks. It cannot be right that these errors come to light months if not years after they happen. We now need a strong system of prior oversight of the UK’s torture policy, by which regulators can pre-emptively halt actions which could see the UK mixed up in torture.”

The Israeli Government Has Confiscated Medical Supplies for Gaza

August 21st, 2018 by Freedom Flotilla Coalition

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The Freedom Flotilla Coalition continues to strongly demand the immediate release of the 114* boxes of medical supplies for the health services of Gaza that were carried on the Al Awda and Freedom boats of the 2018 Freedom Flotilla to Gaza, recently hijacked by Israeli forces. As Swedish Foreign Affairs Minister Margot Wallström has stated, the cargo must be released, according to international law.

As we reminded the Israeli Government in our August 9, 2018 statement, international law requires the delivery of medical supplies. Article 23 of the Geneva Convention Relative to the Protection of Civilian Persons in Time of War (Geneva Convention IV, 1949) says that “Each High Contracting Party shall allow the free passage of all consignments of medical and hospital stores … intended only for civilians of another High Contracting Party, even if the latter is its adversary.”

Additionally, the San Remo Manual on International Law Applicable to Armed Conflicts at Sea (12 June 1994) says in paragraph 104:

“The blockading belligerent shall allow the passage of medical supplies for the civilian population or for the wounded and sick members of armed forces, subject to the right to prescribe technical arrangements, including search, under which such passage is permitted. Further, The Manual on the Law of Non-International Armed Conflict (2006), says in point 2 in the commentary to Rule 2.3.10: “By extension, all objects indispensable to the survival of civilians should be protected, especially medications. The protection means that the enemy is not permitted to attack, destroy, remove, or render useless the aforementioned items.”

Our Israeli attorney, Gaby Lasky has been in contact with Israeli Occupation authorities to arrange delivery of the humanitarian medical supplies, but to date none have arrived in Gaza.

Full inventories of the medical supplies in each box have been provided previously and can be produced on request.

We urge concerned citizens around the world to call your Foreign Ministry** and the Israeli Embassy (if there is one) in your respective country to demand that the Israeli Government immediately releases the 114 boxes of medical supplies to Gaza, as required by international law.

*

Notes

*Two boxes of medical supplies were also on the Falestine, which was unable to complete the final leg of the mission.

** Some Foreign Ministries detailed here.

Selected Articles: A World Full of Discord

August 21st, 2018 by Global Research News

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Lies, distortions and omissions are part of a multibillion dollar propaganda operation which sustains the “war narrative”.

While “Truth” is a powerful instrument, “the Lie” is generously funded by the lobby groups and corporate charities. And that is why we need the support of our readers.

Consider Making a Donation to Global Research

When the Lie becomes the Truth, there is no turning backwards. 

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A ‘Regime’ Is a Government at Odds with the US Empire

By Gregory Shupak, August 21, 2018

In the aftermath of the assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, an article in the Miami Herald (8/5/18) reported that “a clandestine group formed by Venezuelan military members opposed to the regime of Nicolás Maduro claimed responsibility.” A New York Times op-ed (8/10/18) mused, “No one knows whether the Maduro regime will last decades or days.” AFP(8/12/18) reported that “Trump has harshly criticized Maduro’s leftist regime.”

‘Be Careful About What You Believe’ – US, UK Media Bias & Lies

By Ken Livingstone, August 21, 2018

Today it seems like we are in another Cold War. It was breathtaking to watch our PM Theresa May immediately blaming Russia for the poisoning of the Skripals before the police had conducted their investigation into the evidence.

Canada Should Not Accept White Helmets as Refugees

By Professor John Ryan, August 21, 2018

America’s media’s propaganda is designed to not only affect the USA, but also most of America’s allies, including Canada. A recent prime example is how Syria’s White Helmets have been groomed by the media as courageous heroes who now need a place of refuge since the war is Syria is almost over. In response to this, Canada has offered to take in about 50 of them along with 200 of their family members.

In Detaining Peter Beinart, Israel Has Declared It No Longer Represents Millions of Jews Overseas

By Jonathan Cook, August 21, 2018

The latest victim of Israel’s political profiling is Peter Beinart, a prominent American-Jewish commentator. He regularly appears on CNN, contributes to prestigious US publications and is a columnist for the Jewish weekly Forward. 

Washington’s Silent Weapon for Not-so-quiet Wars. “A World Full of Dollars”

By F. William Engdahl, August 21, 2018

Today by far the deadliest weapon of mass destruction in Washington’s arsenal lies not with the Pentagon or its traditional killing machines. It’s de facto a silent weapon: the ability of Washington to control the global supply of money, of dollars, through actions of the privately-owned Federal Reserve in coordination with the US Treasury and select Wall Street financial groups.

Greenhouse Gases Continue Their Massive Rise

By Shane Quinn, August 21, 2018

Since 1990 global carbon emissions have increased by over 60%, and continue rising despite the rapidly worsening consequences of climate change. At the 1992 Earth Summit, a UN conference held in Brazil, the usual jargon was heard emanating from first world capitalist leaders.

Dead End Amerika. “Class Divide” in Manhattan

August 21st, 2018 by Philip A Farruggio

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Documentary film maker Marc Levin has a ‘must see’ film entitled Class Divide about the gentrification of the West Chelsea area of Manhattan (23rd street around 9th and 10th Avenues). His former documentary, Hard Times: Lost on Long Island (2012) followed four individuals who lost their financial sector white collar jobs after the 2008 Wall Street housing bubble burst. Viewing the film was disheartening, as we watch how devastated people who still believed in the false narrative of The American Dream can become.

In Class Divide we learn that the western part of Chelsea, NYC is the fastest growing real estate sector in the entire city of New York. What was once mostly a low income working stiff neighborhood now hosts high rises and townhouses that cater to the super rich… not even just the 1%, rather the 1/4 of the 1%! Imagine a townhouse across from a Chelsea public housing project that sells for $ 10 million. For real! The sad irony to all this is that in 1937 director William Wyler made a film called Dead End, based on Sidney Kingsley’s play of the same name. In the story a high rise apartment building catering to the 1/4 of the 1% of that day was built at the dead end of a really poor neighborhood in Manhattan (perhaps even the same Chelsea area). And they wonder where anger and rage against the super rich can come from.

In Levin’s Class Divide there is a private school called Avenues: The World School right in the heart of West Chelsea, a few steps from where very poor people live. The tuition is around $ 40,000 a year… more than three or four times what those in the housing project earn… if they even have a job. In other apartment buildings on that street, the ones that the poor and low income have been living in for generations, landlords are making concerted efforts to get those folks out. There is gold in them there hills! In the spirit of Noblesse Oblige, the school does offer free tuition for low income kids. Let’s see, from a student enrollment of 1,200 they allowed 40 such kids in for free… which is around 4%. The rest of the neighborhood kids go to the usually underfunded and underequipped public school nearby. Levin interviewed some of the rich kids who attend the Avenues school, and one can see how naive they  really are concerning income polarization in Amerika. Nice kids who obviously never had to deal with what the poor kids must deal with every day in their apartments. Shades of Wyler’s Dead End.

The real sad reality of both of these films is the lack of understanding of how things should be. A nice couple in Dead End, he an unemployed  architect and she a factory worker on strike, assumed that one has to accept the fact that there must be super rich people. Ditto for many of  the poor residents of West Chelsea and the rich kids attending the Avenues school (none of their parents were interviewed by Levin… one wonders why). Everyone just sends out the vibes that ‘These are the cards we are dealt, and we can only play the hand the best we can.’ There are many steps that we working stiffs and unemployed working stiffs must take in order to really ‘take back’ our country from the 1/4 of 1 %. The primary step is perhaps to come to the realization that NO ONE should be earning mega millions of dollars each year while the rest of us are one or two or maybe, if lucky, four or five paychecks away from being forced out on the street. We who ‘know better’ should teach our young that Socialism is not totalitarianism, or fascism. Rather, it can be a solution to this terrible and deadly income polarization our nation has been operating under.

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Philip A Farruggio is a son and grandson of Brooklyn, NYC longshoremen. He has been a free lance columnist since 2001, with over 400 of his work posted on sites like Global Research, Greanville Post, Off Guardian, Consortium News, Information Clearing House, Nation of Change, World News Trust, Op Ed News, Dissident Voice, Activist Post, Sleuth Journal, Truthout and many others. His blog can be read in full on World News Trust, whereupon he writes a great deal on the need to cut military spending drastically and send the savings back to save our cities. Philip has a internet interview show, ‘It’s the Empire… Stupid’ with producer Chuck Gregory, and can be reached at [email protected].

The Metaphysics to Our Present Global Anguish

August 21st, 2018 by Alastair Crooke

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James Jatras, a former US diplomat poses a highly pertinent question in his piece Lenin Updated: Firstly, he says, President Trump meets with President Putin and appears to make some progress in easing bilateral tensions. “Immediately all hell breaks loose: Trump is called a traitor. The ‘sanctions bill from hell’ is introduced in the Senate, and Trump is forced onto the defensive”.

Next, Senator Rand Paul goes to meet with Putin in Moscow, Jatras notes. Paul hands over a letter from the US President proposing moderate steps towards détente. Rand Paul then meets with, and invites Russian Senators to Washington, to continue the dialogue:

“Immediately all hell breaks loose. Paul is called a traitor. The state Department ‘finds’ the Russians guilty of using illegal chemical weapons (in UK) … and imposes sanctions. Trump is forced even more on the defensive.”

Clearly, from the very outset, Trump has been “perceived by the globalist neo-liberal order as a mortal danger to the system which has enriched them” Jatras observes. The big question that Jatras poses in the wake of these events, is how could such collective hysteria have blossomed in to such visceral hostility, that parts of the ‘Anglo’ establishment are ready to intensify hostilities toward Russia – even to the point of risking “a catastrophic, uncontainable [nuclear] conflict”. How is it that the élite’s passion ‘to save globalism’ is so completely overwhelming that it demands their risking human extinction? Jatras suggests that we are dealing here with hugely powerful psychic impulses.

Jatras answers by evoking the zeitgeist of Lenin, when, in 1915, he made his infamous turn towards civil war inside Russia. That is, a war versus ‘Russia’ – in and of itself – its history, its culture, its religion, and its intellectual and political legacy. With up to 10 million Russians left dead by his cleansing, Lenin said “I spit on Russia. [The slaughter is but] only one stage we have to pass through, on our way to world revolution [i.e. to his vision of a universal Communism].

Professor John Gray, writing in his book, Black Mass, notes that

“the world in which we find ourselves … is littered with the debris of utopian projects which – though they were framed in secular terms that denied the truth of religion – were in fact, vehicles for religious myth”.

The Jacobin revolutionaries launched the Terror as a violent retribution for élite repression – inspired by Rousseau’s Enlightenment humanism; the Trotskyite Bolsheviks murdered millions in the name of reforming humanity through Scientific Empiricism; the Nazis did similar, in the name of pursuing ‘Scientific (Darwinian) Racism’.

All these utopian, (murderous) projects effectively flowed from a style of mechanical, single-track, thinking that had evolved in Europe, over the centuries, and which seated the unshakeable sense of one’s own certainty and conviction — in the West European thinker, at least.

These supposedly empirically-arrived-at certitudes – seated now in the human ego – triggered a re-awakening precisely to those early Judeo-Christian, apocalyptic notions: That history, somehow, was on a convergent course towards some human transformation, and an ‘End’, with fearful retribution for the corrupt, and a radically, redeemed, new world, for the elect. No longer (in today’s world), triggered through an act of God, but ‘engineered’ by the act of Enlightenment man.

World redemption from its state of corruption was to be brought into being through Enlightenment principles of rationality and science. Peace was expected to ensue, after the End Time.

These millenarian revolutionaries – exponents of the new Scientism, who hoped to force a shattering discontinuity in history (through which the flaws of human society would be excised from the body politic) – were, in the last resort, nothing other than secular representatives of the apocalyptic Judaic and Christian myth.

The American millenarian ‘myth’, then and now, was (and is), rooted in the fervent belief in the Manifest Destiny of the United States, ‘the New Jerusalem’, to represent humanity’s best hope for a utopian future. This belief in a special destiny has been reflected in a conviction that the United States must lead – or more properly, has the duty to coerce – mankind toward that future.

Some might argue, however, that early Enlightenment ‘liberal’ humanism, with its ‘good intentions’, has no connection to Jacobinism or Trotskyite Bolshevism. But, in practice, both are crucially similar: They are secular versions of progress towards a utopian, redemption of a flawed humanity: One strand aims to reclaim humanity through the revolutionary destruction of the irredeemable parts of society. And the other strand roots its redemption in a teleological process of ‘melting’ away cultural identity. It also seeks to weaken the sense of linkage through shared ‘blood’ and territory (place) – in order to create a tabula rasa on which a new homogenised non-national, cosmopolitan identity can be writ, that will be both peaceful and democratic.

The aim is a global, cosmopolitan society disembarrassed of religion, national culture and community, gender and social class. Processes of toleration that, formerly, were construed as essential to freedom have undergone an Orwellian metamorphosis to emerge as their antonyms: as instruments, rather, of repression. Any national leader standing against this project, any contrary national culture, or national pride displayed in a nation’s achievements, plainly constitutes an obstacle to this prospective universal realm – and must be destroyed. In other words, today’s millenarians may eschew the guillotine, but they are explicitly coercive – albeit, in a different manner – through the progressive ‘capture’ of narrative, and of state institutions.

In short, a global space is being sought that would recognise only an international global humanity — much as the Trotskyites wanted.

So, how is it, precisely, that Russia and Mr Putin has come to constitute the antithesis to the utopian project, and the trigger to such fear and hysteria amongst the globalist élites?

It springs, I suggest, from a percolating awareness amongst western élites that formal (Latin) Judeo-Christian monotheism – which gave western Europe its insistence on singularity of meaning, its linear itinerary, and its partner ideology of secular millenarianism – both find themselves increasingly questioned, and in decline.

Henry Kissinger says the mistake the West (and NATO) is making “is to think that there is a sort of historic evolution that will march across Eurasia – and not to understand that somewhere on that march it will encounter something – very different to a Westphalian [western idea of a liberal democratic and market orientated state] entity.” It is time to relinquish ‘old pretenses’, Kissinger emphasizes – for, “we are in a very, very grave period for the world”.

No doubt linked to this alienation from both revealed religion, and its secular utopian counterpart, is the general collapse in the optimistic certitudes connected with the idea of linear ‘progress’ – in which many (particularly the young), no longer believe (seeing the evidence of the world about them).

But what really riles the globalists is the contemporary trend, manifested most particularly, by Russia, towards a pluralism which privileges one’s culture, history, religiosity and ties of blood, land and language – and which sees in this re-appropriation of traditional values, the path to the re-sovereigntisation of a particular people. The Russian ‘Eurasian’ notion is one of different cultures, autonomous, and sovereign, which, at least implicitly, constitutes a rejection of the Latin theology of equality, and reductive universalism (i.e. achieved through Redemption.)

The idea rather, is of a grouping of ‘nations’, each reaching back to its primordial cultures and identities – i.e. Russia being ‘Russian’ in its own ‘Russian cultural way’ – and not permitting itself to be coerced into mimicking the westernisation impulse. What makes a wider grouping of Eurasian nations feasible is that cultural identities are complex and storied: It escapes the prevailing obsession to reduce every nation to a singularity in value, and to a singularity of ‘meaning’. The ground for collaboration and conversation thus widens beyond ‘the either-or’, to the differing strata of complex identities – and interests.

Why should this seem so ‘diabolical’ to the western global élites? Why all the hysteria? Well … they ‘scent’ in Russian Eurasianism (and so-called populism, more generally) a stealth reversion to the old, pre-Socratic values: For the Ancients, as just one example, the very notion of ‘man’, in that way, did not exist. There were only men: Greeks, Romans, barbarians, Syrians, and so on. This stands in obvious opposition to universal, cosmopolitan ‘man’.

Once the Roman Empire took over Christianity as a ‘westernised’ dissident form of Judaism, neither Europe nor Christianity conformed any longer to their origins, or somehow to their own ‘natures’. Absolute monotheism, in its dualistic form, was profoundly foreign to the European mind. Latin Christianity first tried (not very successfully) to repress the Ancient values, before deciding it was better to try to assimilate them into Christianity. Russian Orthodoxy however managed to retain its itinerary: whereas the Latin Church suffered multiple crises – not the least being that of the Enlightenment and the Protestant dissidence flooding across western Europe.

The fearful élites, in fact, are right: The disappearance in modernity of any external norm, beyond civic conformity, which might guide the individual in his or her life and actions, and the enforced eviction of the individual from any form of structure (social classes, Church, family, society and gender), has made a ‘turning back’ to what was always latent, if half forgotten, somehow inevitable.

It represents a ‘reaching back’ to an old ‘storehouse’ of values – a silent religiosity; a ‘turn back’ to being again ‘in, and of’ the world. A storehouse that has in fact remained unchanged (albeit clothed in Christianity), with its foundational myths, and notion of cosmic ‘order’ (maat) still swirling in the deeper levels of the collective unconscious. Of course, ‘the Ancient’ cannot be an ad integrum return. It cannot be the simple restoration of what once was. It has to be brought forward as if ‘youth’ come back again – the eternal return – out of our own decomposition.

Henri Corbin, the scholar of Islam, once noting a panel in Iran in which the shapes of vases of various shapes were cut out from wooden back panel of a cupboard, suggested that, as with these vases whose solid forms no longer existed, somehow the space that that they once occupied still remains – if only as a void, marked by outline. So too, old notions and values somehow have left behind their outlines, too. And this, maybe, is what is driving the globalist élite to their medications: 500 years ago, the Enlightenment crushed the brief impulse from the Ancient world in Europe, known as the Renaissance. Now the shoe is on the other foot, and it is the world of today’s élites which is imploding. What had been imagined as defeated, beyond recovery, is cautiously arising out from our crumbled ruins. The wheel of time turns, and comes around, again. It may all fare badly – the mode of linear one-track thinking implanted in the West does have an inbuilt propensity towards totalitarianism. We shall see.

Just as then, when the tide of the Enlightenment bulldozed through old beliefs, hauling everything that was Delphic and unfathomable, out into the laser gaze of radical scepticism – causing terrible psychic tensions (more than 10,000 Europeans were burnt alive during the Great Witch hysteria) – so, today, we have a wave of still inchoate ‘otherness’ emerging from the deepest levels of human psyche to hurl itself onto the rocks of Enlightenment self-certainty. The tensions and the hysteria, follow in a similar way.

Its ‘return’ is driving men and woman literally mad – mad enough, even to risk a catastrophic war, rather than to relinquish the myth of America’s Manifest Destiny, or even to acknowledge the flaws to their radically disjunctive way of thinking about a world that must be brought to some global convergence.

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Alastair Crooke is a former British diplomat, founder and director of the Beirut-based Conflicts Forum.

Featured image is from the author.

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“And the sun pours down like honey on our lady of the harbor
And she shows you where to look among the garbage and the flowers
There are heroes in the seaweed, there are children in the morning
They are leaning out for love and they will lean that way forever
While Suzanne holds her mirror”                                            

Leonard Cohen, “Suzanne”

“Before this historical chasm, a mind like that of Adams felt itself helpless; he turned from the Virgin to the Dynamo as though he were a Branly coherer. On one side, at the Louvre and at Chartres, as he knew by the record of work actually done and still before his eyes, was the highest energy ever known to man, the creator of four-fifths of his noblest art, exercising vastly more attraction over the human mind than all the steam-engines and dynamos ever dreamed of; and yet this energy was unknown to the American mind. An American Virgin would never dare command; an American Venus would never dare exist.” – Henry Adams, “The Dynamo and the Virgin” (1900) in The Education of Henry Adams   

“The voices blend and fuse in clouded silence; silence that is infinite of space: and swiftly, silently the sound is wafted over regions of cycles of cycles of generations that have lived.” James Joyce, Ulysses

The first thing the writer noticed as he walked around downtown Montreal was the grotesque new architecture that was destroying the charming and humane ambience the city once embodied and that allowed for human thoughts and feelings. He had not been in the city for many years but remembered a more human scale that had entranced him.  He wondered if his memory were playing tricks on him but realized it was not.  Everywhere he looked, massive glass-skinned towers stood over the streets, sentinels for the financial, insurance, and real estate speculators, a post-modern world of abstractions. 

 

Looking deep into the construction sites that were everywhere, he marveled at the modern feats of engineering that would raise more glass cathedrals to the heavens.  The power of modern technology astounded him. The City of Saints had turned into the city of money, even while the streets maintained their saintly names and the beautiful churches held their ground despite dwindling worshippers.  

Curtin stood in front of Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours Chapel (image below), looking up at the Virgin glimmering in the afternoon sun.  The old port.  The sailor’s church.  Like Henry Adams, he thought of the powerful force of the Virgin throughout history.  Her protection across life’s tempestuous seas. 

And Leonard Cohen, the Montrealer, who as a young man would come to this chapel and sit in meditation and write his beautiful song, “Suzanne,” invoking “our lady of the harbor.”  Leonard, who would stand in awe of the woman as protectress, as mother, as lover, as muse:  As in “Night Comes On”:

I said, Mother I’m frightened
The thunder and the lightning
I’ll never come through this alone
She said, I’ll be with you
My shawl wrapped around you
My hand on your head when you go

Curtin understood the fear, the protective power, and the creative inspiration of the Blessed Mother down through the ages.  He recalled the Miraculous Medal (the Medal of Our Lady of Graces) he wore as a teenager. Like so much, it had disappeared, and he didn’t know where it went. Who had abandoned whom? While all around him tourists were using cell phones to capture the image of the Virgin’s chapel, as if they could bottle the spirit and be on their way.  He wondered if God had a cell phone; how far did wireless communications extend?  He marveled at the way the owners of these devices – which seemed to be everyone but him – took for granted the power of the new technology that had “conquered time and space” and redesigned the world and their minds.  Everywhere they went, they held these little rectangles in front of their faces repetitively trying in vain to capture something they were not sure of, including their own images.  Their connection to these little boxes seemed anatomical, and the power they contained almost divine.  He could hear the clashing of an unspoken war as he observed his surroundings.

More than a century before at the Great Exposition in Paris, Henry Adams had stood and also wondered; he, about the Branly coherer, the first radio wave detector used widely for radio communications. The first wireless.  Being an American, Adams knew that technology and gadgets would take preference over the Virgin when help was needed. And he felt torn himself.  After all these years, Curtin also knew that if most people wanted help, they would turn to their phones, the little gods they carried everywhere.  Notre-Dame-de Bon Secours (Our Lady of Good Help) was only for sailors of old, men afraid of drowning, and sophisticated moderns did not think like the shipwrecked, those who Ortega y Gasset said were the lost ones, who have recognized that to live is to be lost, and realizing that “will look round for something to which to cling, and that tragic, ruthless glance, absolutely sincere, because it is a question of his [their] salvation” will lead them not to embrace a machine, but the spirit of all life.  Leonard Cohen sang to Curtin as he stood there musing:

And Jesus was a sailor when he walked upon the water
And he spent a long time watching from his lonely wooden tower
And when he knew for certain only drowning men could see him
He said all men will be sailors then until the sea shall free them
But he himself was broken, long before the sky would open
Forsaken, almost human, he sank beneath your wisdom like a stone

But no one else heard the singer, for what are a dead poet’s words remembered by heart   worth in an age when one can “google it”?  Just standing, looking, and listening seemed so out of date, like the Virgin looking down upon the tourists as they scurried next store to the Bonsecours Market, a large commercial hall where rather than receive the good help of spiritual sustenance, they could buy apparel and accessories in the church of commerce.  Tourists swam safely through the place, finding help and salvation in a buyer’s paradise, the current wisdom.

So he turned and walked away, climbing the crosstown streets that would take him to the neighborhood around McGill University.  In The Word bookstore, he spent an hour looking through the used books and talking with the owner Adrian.  Here he felt at home, greeted as he was by a black and white framed photo of Leonard Cohen that welcomes all poets and dreamers who frequent this intimate storefront housed in a unprepossessing nineteenth century brick building.  He overheard a woman ask Adrian for directions, and his reply gave Curtin reason to hope.  Adrian said to the woman, “Well, you can always get lost and see what you find.  That may be more interesting.”  And he chuckled.  But the woman wanted the straight way, the road more traveled, nothing serendipitous; getting lost was not on her agenda.  And after a few minutes, she went outside the store to wait for her companion who was still looking at books.  The woman was studying something on her cell.  Curtin imagined it was the bars.

The way the bookstore was arranged seemed to mirror his mind, a mind that seemed out of tune with the times.  For his mind moved from one category of thought to another, as the books on the shelves moved from art to poetry to philosophy without signs signifying a change.  They flowed into each other. He knew, of course, that all thought was one continuous stream fed by tributaries, and even many of the tributaries couldn’t be found since they ran underground.  It was only the modern mind that wished to categorize and control, the instrumental reasoning mind that had come to dominate the Western world and had proclaimed that humans were machines, that wished for signs declaring separable categories of life and thought.  He knew that the best writers in the books that surrounded him wrote so many of their truest words when they thought they were writing something else.  This inadvertent way of living seemed to make the woman looking for directions nervous.   

Curtin often got lost, for he didn’t have a smart phone to give him directions.  A colleague he had met for lunch laughed when he told him that.  These phones are really indispensable, he had said; you really should get one.  And then he showed him photographs he had stored on the machine.  He had hundreds.  Its power was awe inspiring, a small device that allowed world-wide communication in a flash anywhere you were. You could capture the past with it; travel the world in an ethereal instant without moving; never be out of “touch” without being touched.  It made him wonder: Where does true power lie?  Was he out of touch?  What did he want to touch?

On he walked through the City of Saints, passing McGill University, where he noticed the innocent appearance of students walking to and fro.  He wondered what it must be like to be beginning one’s studies.  Did they learn anything about what had gone on at their university?  Did they learn about the deep currents that informed history, the true nature of current affairs, or were their professors spouting superficial nonsense that kept them safe in cushy positions? From his experience in academia, Curtin knew that the university had been co-opted by the state and now functioned as an appendage of the war makers.  Liberal arts now meant neo-liberalism and political correctness.  Dissent meant dismissal, and so he realized that only those students who might browse through used bookstores like The Word might serendipitously discover the truth about their world.  Most would be brainwashed.  But they won’t know it.

He had no phone, but Curtin could hear the screams and groans coming from McGill, the people screaming no, no, no from Dr. Donald Ewen Cameron’s “Sleep Room,” as he fed hallucinogens and electrical shocks to “patients,” the victims of his notorious CIA MKUltra mind control experiments in which he wiped the brain clean of so-called negative thoughts and replaced them with “good ones.” He was not dreaming.  He heard Val Orlikow screaming, as the good doctor, the President of the American and Canadian Psychiatric Associations, made her mind a blank slate by erasing any memory of her husband and reducing her to toddler status. She thought she was being treated for post-partum depression. The sounds of torture rattled his mind, the sounds of human desperation and the sounds of Cameron’s taped messages fed to almost comatose patients in what he called “psychic driving.”  The prototypical experiments for the age of digital dementia.  Black sites. He saw Cameron smile, his legacy secure. 

Curtin felt immensely sad as he saw a young college student cross in front of him.  She seemed to be in a trance and almost bumped into him.  She was beautiful, and her ears were plugged with ear buds, and when he turned to see her walk away, he noticed her backpack had a small pink teddy bear hanging from it.  And he remembered the concluding lines to Cohen’s “Suzanne”:

And you want to travel with her, and you want to travel blind
And you know that you can trust her
For she’s touched your perfect body with her mind

Walking brought memories, associations, reveries, and thoughts.  Drugs and technology could erase them.  He realized that there was as much worth forgetting as remembering, as both were arts that opposed the sick science and technology that had overtaken so much of society.  But what to remember and what to forget?  Was that student trying to remember or forget something with that teddy bear that hung as a talisman?  Were those earbuds drowning out memories or dangerous thoughts?  Who had touched her mind?  Thoreau had said it’s very hard to forget what’s worse than useless to remember.  And Curtin realized that he had honed his own forgettery to rid his mind of all the useless data the corporate mass media were pumping out, data used to create chaos and confusion, when much was so obvious if one just opened one’s eyes to the truth.  If he had a cell phone, he mused, he might never have to remember or forget.  The secret to communication might be solved.  Maybe someday he could be downloaded or uploaded into a phone, whichever it is, and all his problems would be solved.

“Come here, I want to see you,” Alexander Graham Bell said to Watson in the first telephone call.  Watson remembered it differently.  He recalled Bell saying, “Come here I want you.”  So much wanting and forgetting and remembering made Curtin’s head spin.  So much desire for the presence of the absent other.  But whom to call?  How?  Or was it the absence of the present other?  Could one turn and say, “What is it you want?”

He and his wife kept walking toward the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts where there was an exhibit of Picasso’s use of African art and artifacts: “From Africa to the Americas: Face-To-Face Picasso, Past and Present.” Picasso, a believer in magic and the occult, was notoriously opposed to reason and logic and understanding.  He once said that “people who try to explain pictures are usually barking up the wrong tree.”  Curtin and his wife had once attended a gala opening of a large Picasso retrospective at the Museum of Modern Art in New York.  The galleries were filled with celebrities, their masks intact, oohing and ahhing at the art work.  At the time he wondered what they would say if he asked them how they understood this or that piece. Did they just stand or understand? Would they say, “What a genius; he had the magic touch?”  

Curtin had admired a goat sculpture that spoke to him.  He can’t remember what it said, but he remembered wondering if he were the goat surrounded by brilliant minds who could decipher art far beyond his pedestrian ability.  Now he wondered what Picasso might communicate to him with his African inspired works. Should he try to understand them, or was that too plebian?  Was there some esoteric trick to it all?  Could Picasso shed light on the enigma that perplexed Adams and Curtin?  Or was there nothing to understand?  Was it all just a mystery beyond comprehension?  Beyond explanation?  Beyond communication?  Was it simply art appreciation or magic?

He hoped that maybe before his odyssey around Montreal was over he would discover the answer to the dilemma that perplexed him: Was it in the cell phone or the Virgin that true power lay?  Digital or sacred force?  Adams never truly resolved it; maybe he could.  Or had a century and more made it more difficult?  Impossible?  

He knew that from photography and the phonograph to the computerized cell phone, memory had achieved a strange jailbreak from the body that made writing seem like a crude form by comparison. Could visual art reveal the truth?  Picasso?  McGill’s Dr. Cameron and his CIA accomplices had mastered the black arts of disassociating the personality (as Picasso had done with art), of erasing memories and implanting new ones, of using drugs, technology and the occult to materialize the psychic and control volition and memory – they were masters of the electronic mind-body interface and worldview warfare that their Nazi friends had bequeathed to them.  They had taken the lessons of black magic and the machine god adored by the fascist Marinetti and his “Futurism” art movement, with its superstitious occult roots hidden behind its pseudo-scientific mumbo jumbo, and made it their own.  They had conjured up a satanic brew of technology and hallucinatory drugs and rituals to promote the idea that the supernatural machine ruled mankind and they controlled the machine, and no one could defeat them. They considered themselves the spearhead of the new colonial imperial powers, who colonized the minds of the masses. It seemed to Curtin that at some unconscious level all the people he saw with cell phones had been disassociated but didn’t know it.  They were victims of the latest version of MKUltra on a vast scale.  They had been invaded by “special forces.”

Here he was on a few days’ vacation, and his mind whirled with all these perplexing thoughts.  He needed to communicate, and he wondered who would hear him if he cried out, if he spoke to the air.  Rilke’s words came to him:

Who, if I cried out, would hear me among the Angelic Orders? And even if one were to suddenly take me to its heart, I would vanish into its stronger existence. For beauty is nothing but the beginning of terror, that we are still able to bear, and we revere it so, because it calmly disdains to destroy us. Every Angel is terror. And so I hold myself back and swallow the cry of a darkened sobbing.

But he held his tears and walked on, resolved to solve the enigma before the day was up. 

When they arrived at the museum, Curtin was again struck by the thought that museums were very strange places.  He always felt as though he were entering a graveyard, where art was isolated from the living.  This funereal quality was amplified by the required silence, as if one were in the presence of ghosts or gods who required adoration.  Museums seemed to him to be temples of the rich where the art was their war booty on display, the victims of their conquests antiseptically absent.  He felt half-dead when in them.

This particular exhibit came to be because the European colonial powers had looted their colonies for art and artifacts that they brought back to their home countries and locked up in museums and in the homes of the rich.  Spoils of war.  It happened that in 1907 Pablo Picasso visited a dusty museum in Paris, the Musee d’Ethnographie du Trocadéro, where he was startled by the African art and artifacts he saw there. He later said: 

The greatest artistic emotion I have felt was when I was suddenly struck by the sublime beauty of the sculptures carved by anonymous artists in Africa. Passionately religious, yet rigorously logical, these works are the most powerful and most beautiful things ever produced by the human imagination. 

Then he proceeded to appropriate the appropriated art, and some of the results lined the walls of the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts. Curtin couldn’t help noticing Picasso’s doubling down on rigorous logic in his opportunistic “borrowing.”  But the “passionately religious” nature of the artist’s work that graced the gallery escaped him, unless the museum had become the new cathedral. This seemed quite probable.  He doubted that Picasso shared Adams’ lofty assessment of Chartres Cathedral, since Picasso considered African sculpture “the most beautiful things produced by the human imagination,” and his attitude toward the “religious” was colored by its foreign and exotic qualities, elements absent from the European Christian or Islamic heritage of his homeland of Spain, or from France and Europe as a whole.

Picasso did most of this African-inspired work between 1906 and 1909, before turning to what has been called his Cubist period, which only lasted until the “War to End All Wars” ended the lives of over 20 million people, while wounding even more. Like Picasso’s African and Cubist work, the war surely offered a different perspective.  It was all so logical and technological, the height of modern efficiency, yet seemed conjured up from the darkest pit of hell. It gave one a different understanding of time and space, and relativized plenty of bromides. Curtin remembered reading with sardonic amusement the words of Freud, who was so disappointed by the great white man’s betrayal of his highest “ideals” by waging the First World War:

We had expected the great world-dominating nations of white race upon whom the leadership of the human species has fallen, who were known to have world-wide interests as their concern, to whose creative powers were due not only our technical advances towards the control of nature but the artistic and scientific standards of civilization – we had expected these people to succeed in discovering another way of settling misunderstandings and conflicts of interest.

This memory of the great white father’s racist thoughts so discombobulated his mind that for a few minutes he had to find a seat and close his eyes in meditation. He remembered that Freud, the atheist, had his consulting room filled with hundreds of ancient figurines of gods and goddesses that created the effect of an eerie sacred chamber where religious rites were performed.  Like a temple or a museum, he meant this room to suggest that this art and these artifacts from other times and places and the land of memory could effect magical cures on those who came for the cure of their souls.  For a minute he thought he was in Freud’s consulting room and was free-associating.  Then he opened his eyes to see Picasso’s mask staring down at him.

Curtin mused about these connections as he read the anthropological wall plaques explaining how, over a century or more, “the decolonization of the colonial gaze” has been taking place.  He thought this very good, and was looking forward to the parallel exhibit – “Here We Are Here: Black Canadian Contemporary Art” – that was meant to exhibit this change.  He wondered if the artists who created this new art of the decolonized gaze grasped the nature of the new colonialism, if they knew of the United States Africa Command (AFRICOM) and NATO countries’ military penetration of the African continent, of the World Bank’s and the International Monetary Fund’s control, of the NGO’s work with the CIA and USAID and foundations that were masks to hide the true nature of continued Western control without the use of the term “colonies.”  Taking back the gaze was but a first step.

Curtin’s primary odyssey, however, was to try to unmask the true font of power in the contemporary world.  The world had suffered a series of radical breaks with historical continuity and loss of identity with place, starting shortly after Adams was born in the mid-nineteenth century.  Space and time had been contracted by the new technology. Adams had contemplated the dynamo. The computerized cell phone was its current symbol, and its evil twin the concentrated power of nuclear weapons.  The modern mind had suffered severe dislocation and confusion.  All the ruins, antiques, and artifacts of the past that were collected and commodified over the last 150 years could no more restore lost identities than could the prolific growth in museums in the same period.  The museums were the mausoleums of societies dying from within.   As he walked around the exhibit, he realized that Picasso, for all his obvious talent, and especially with the works that comprised this show, had no solution.  He was a symptom of the depth of the problem, the neurotic symptom that allowed for an ersatz solution, which was, of course, no solution.  Like a neurotic who goes for help with his symptoms that have squeezed the life out him but help him hide from his true problems, Picasso’s masks, distortions, and play-acting art were impotent.  Seemingly potent and wildly celebrated, they hid the “extinction of living inner religiousness,” as Spengler put it, that was disappearing from so much of the world, particularly Europe and the United States, the countries that have embraced militarism and war-making as their nihilistic modi operandi.  Even the women that populate so much of Picasso’s work – “For me there are only two kinds of women,” he said, “goddesses and doormats.” – these women of all shapes and poses, do not offer us a true clue to the power of the Virgin Adams was contemplating alongside the dynamo. 

As an only brother with seven sisters, Curtin had grown up among women.  He learned that they, like him, were complex, surely neither goddesses nor doormats.   One of his sisters had been an artist of rare power.  She wished to live as a liberated woman before society sanctioned this.  Her art couldn’t save her.  She died by her own hand, terribly torn between a depraved and distorted religious orthodoxy and dreams of spiritual and artistic freedom.  She seemed to him to be a genuine symbol of the nature of modern life, where people yo-yoed back and forth between equally false solutions without grasping the larger cultural and social forces at work. He sensed her tragedy was the tragedy of so much history, where a reactionary cycle seemed to operate. Technology, colonialism, industrialization, the relativization of thought and religion preceded Picasso’s grasping of African art and what was perceived as its magical qualities.  France for years had been abuzz with the occult, esoterica, magic, trances, etc. Madame Blavatsky and her ilk were celebrated as liberators.  Then came the Cubist revolution that ended in France in 1914.  The war that brought such vast physical suffering and death ushered in a death in the soul, what John Berger called “inverted suffering,” that created vast confusion in people’s minds as they became lost within themselves trying to comprehend the absurdities that ensued and what it all could possibly mean.  Logic had been turned on its head where it remains, but technology has triumphed.  Or so it thinks.

Curtin was exhausted.  He grasped Adams’ disillusionment.  For years he had diligently studied and written about the three political assassinations that had marked his life: JFK, MLK, and RFK.  Doing so had become a spiritual necessity for him.  He knew why and how they were killed.  He knew the culprit: the CIA, the masters of the dark arts.  And he knew that the killers had used all the tricks and masks in the magician’s playbook to confuse and confound the American public.  They had used technology and drugs and art and artists and writers and culture and the mass media to sow bewilderment, to disassociate the minds of average people already confused by the unraveling of history and identity that started in Adams’ day.  It had been a long century and a long day.  

He wished to report his findings, and thought of ending with the following paragraph, that while true, was not a very definitive ending, surely not an answer to the enigma that the day’s wandering had brought him:

America has always taken tragedy lightly.  Too busy to stop the activity of their twenty-million-horse-power society, Americans ignore tragic motives that would have overshadowed the Middle Ages; and the world learns to regard assassinations as a form of hysteria, and death as neurosis, to be treated by a rest cure.  Three hideous political murders, that would have fattened the Eumenides with horror, have thrown scarcely a shadow on the White House.

No doubt it would have made an eloquent conclusion, but since these were Adams’ words, written in 1902, he thought best of it.  The words are still true, and sent a shiver down his spine when he remembered them.  But he knew they would not satisfy his restless, conspiratorial mind or anyone who might read it.  He reminded himself that all his study had led him to the conclusion that life and history are far more obvious than the world prefers to believe.  The problem is that people prefer unbelief to belief, mirages to water.  

“The world is becoming a giant military base,” wrote the great Latin American writer, Eduardo Galeano, “and that base is becoming a mental hospital the size of the world.  Inside the nuthouse, which ones are crazy?”

Curtin was standing in the middle of the gallery lost in thought.  An attendant came up to him and tapped him on the shoulder.  “Sir,” he said, “it’s closing time.”

So out of the museum Curtin and his wife walked.  They found a little French restaurant where they ate a delicious meal accompanied by fragrant wine.  All his dilemmas disappeared for the nonce.  He forgot the purpose of his long odyssey around town.  While walking back to their hotel under a resplendent full moon, he was at peace.  The world was beautiful, as he knew it was.  As they undressed, he promised himself he would dream the answer to his quest and in the morning would visit our lady of the harbor and tell her his dream. 

But morning came with no breakthrough. But he had promised the lady a last visit, at least to apologize and to ask forgiveness for his ignorance.  He walked to Notre-Dame-de-Bon-Secours. He glanced at his watch and realized he had first arrived here exactly twenty-four hours before. He was back where he started.  He felt had gone in a circle and had no great insight to show for it.  He glanced up to Our Lady a bit ashamed and entered the chapel.  It was empty and silent.  Curtin sat in a pew half-way down and let the silence envelop him as he meditated. He listened.  Would she speak to him?   Minutes passed, when he was startled by the sound of the door behind him opening.  He heard footsteps as someone walked down the aisle. It felt like an intrusion, and he was irritated.  A man slipped into the aisle next to him.  It was the dead Leonard Cohen.  He gave Curtin a wry smile.  He didn’t look any different.  He said nothing and looked straight ahead. Then he started singing his angelic song, and Curtin knew he had arrived at an answer beyond explanation, but one that went so deep it didn’t need one.  The power of song; that was it.  Curtin had long felt but never expressed that nothing moved and unsettled him more than songs, and so he had both fled and embraced them in an alternating cycle of futility down his days.  Now his tears were tears of joy that overwhelmed him as he listened to Leonard sing “Suzanne.”

He wishes to share with you such beauty, and wonders what Henry Adams would think.  No doubt our lady of the harbor, Notre Dame, was enchanted.

Ladies and Gentlemen, here is Leonard Cohen, alive and well, singing Suzanne.

*

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

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A ‘Regime’ Is a Government at Odds with the US Empire

August 21st, 2018 by Gregory Shupak

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In the aftermath of the assassination attempt against Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro, an article in the Miami Herald (8/5/18) reported that “a clandestine group formed by Venezuelan military members opposed to the regime of Nicolás Maduro claimed responsibility.” A New York Times op-ed (8/10/18) mused, “No one knows whether the Maduro regime will last decades or days.” AFP(8/12/18) reported that “Trump has harshly criticized Maduro’s leftist regime.”

The word “regime” implies that the government to which the label is applied is undemocratic, even tyrannical, so it’s peculiar that the term is used in Venezuela’s case, since the country’s leftist government has repeatedly won free and fair elections (London Review of Books, 6/29/17). One could argue that, strictly speaking, “regime” can simply mean a system, and in some specific, infrequent contexts, that may be how it’s used. But broadly the word “regime” suggests a government that is unrepresentative, repressive,  corrupt, aggressive—without the need to offer any evidence of these traits.

Interestingly, the US itself meets many of the criteria for being a “regime”: It can be seen as an oligarchy rather than a democracy, imprisons people at a higher rate than any other country, has grotesque levels of inequality and bombs another country every 12 minutes. Yet there’s no widespread tendency for the corporate media to describe the US state as a “regime.”

The function of “regime” is to construct the ideological scaffolding for the United States and its partners to attack whatever country has a government described in this manner. According to the mainstream media, the democratically elected government of Nicaragua is a “regime” (Washington Post, 7/11/18). Cuba also has a “regime” (Washington Post, 7/25/18). Iraq and Libya used to have “regimes”—before the United States implemented “regime change.” North Korea most definitely has one (New York Times, 7/26/18), as do China (Washington Post, 8/3/18) and Russia (Wall Street Journal, 7/15/18).

When, for the media, does a government become a “regime”? The answer, broadly speaking: A country’s political leaders are likely to be called a “regime” when they do not follow US dictates, and are less likely to be categorized as such if they cooperate with the empire.

‘Regimes’ in Latin America

A search run with the media aggregator Factiva finds that in the nearly 20 years since Venezuela first elected a Chavista government, the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post have used the phrase “Venezuelan regime” 74 times, “regime in Venezuela” 30 times, “Chávez regime” 68 times, “Maduro regime” 168 times and “regime in Caracas” five times. All of these governments have been democratically elected, but have sinned by trying to carve out a path independent of US control.

A ‘Regime’ Is a Government at Odds With the US Empire

Consider, by contrast, coverage of Honduras. The country is hardly lacking in characteristics associated with a “regime.” On June 28, 2009, a US-backed military coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Manuel Zelaya, replacing it with a US-friendly administration. Since then, Honduras has become the most dangerous place for journalists in the Americas; labor leadersand environmental activists have also been regularly targeted for assassination.

According to a Factiva search, the phrase “Honduran regime” has never appeared in the Times, Journal and Post in the years following the coup, and collectively they used the phrase “regime in Honduras” once: It appeared in a Washington Post article (3/31/16) about the assassinations of Honduran indigenous leader Berta Cáceres and other environmentalists in the region, in a quote by a professor critical of US support for Latin American dictatorships.

While Honduras’s three post-coup presidents have governed a country where “impunity for human rights abuses remains the norm,” according to Human Rights Watch, these leaders have almost never been described as running a “regime.” A Post editorial (9/5/09) included the only appearance of “Micheletti regime” in any of the three papers. “Lobo regime” returns zero search results. The New York Times (2/16/16) has used “Hernández regime” once, but Factiva indicates that the Post and Journal never have. Searches for “regime in Tegucigalpa” or “Tegucigalpa regime” produced zero results.

Middle Eastern ‘Regimes’

Since the war in Syria ignited on March 15, 2011, “Syrian regime” has been used 5,355 times, “Assad regime” 7,853 times, “regime in Syria” 836 times, and “regime in Damascus” 282 times in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and Washington Post.

Washington’s economic and military partner Saudi Arabia is described as having a “regime” far less often than is Syria, despite its rather “regime”-like qualities: Its unelected government represses dissidents, including advocates for women and its Shia minority, and carries out executions at an extraordinary clip, including of people accused of adultery, apostasy and witchcraft. Saudi Arabia crushed an uprising in neighboring Bahrain in 2011, and with its US and UK partners, is carrying out an almost apocalyptic war in Yemen.

In the same period examined in the Syrian case, the phrase “Saudi regime” was used 145 times by the same papers, while “regime in Saudi Arabia” registers four hits and “regime in Riyadh” can be found once, in the Post (11/29/17).

Saudi leaders can rest assured that their names are unlikely to be associated with running a “regime”: Factiva indicates that the three publications never used the phrase “Abdullah regime” in the relevant period, while “Salman regime” pops up only once, in a Post editorial (5/3/15).

The Iranian Revolution culminated on February 11, 1979, and the US ruling class has seen Iran’s government as an arch-enemy ever since. Factiva searches of the intervening years turn  up 3,201 references to “Iranian regime,” in the Times, Journal and Post, as well as 326 to “regime in Iran,” 502 to “regime in Tehran,” 258 to “Khomeini regime,” 31 to “Ahmadinejad regime” and five to “Rouhani regime.”

The case of stalwart US ally Israel offers an illuminating counterpoint. Even though Israel violently rules over 2.5 Palestinians in the West Bank and keeps 2 million under siege in Gaza, and even though Palestinians living as citizens of Israel face institutional discrimination, the Israeli government is almost never described as a “regime” in a way that carries the negative connotations discussed above.

A New York Times article (8/2/91) on the Gulf War used the phrase “the obdurate Israeli regime” to describe Israeli conduct in regional negotiations. In 1992, a Washington Post op-ed (3/11/92) called for America to accept Jewish people from the just-collapsed Soviet Union in part because “elements in the Israeli regime are quite ready to place the [Jewish people who moved to Israel from the USSR] in harm’s way,” a reference to the idea that Palestinians are a threat to them. A Wall Street Journal article (7/12/99) employed the term “Israeli regime” in 1999 to describe Ehud Barak’s administration as taking over from “the previous Israeli regime” of Benjamin Netanyahu, and a piece in the Washington Post (10/1/96) used the phrase in the same way.

Otherwise, “Israeli regime” appears in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal or Washington Post when the phrase is attributed to critics of Israel (e.g., Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad saying, “Those who think they can revive the stinking corpse of the usurping and fake Israeli regime by throwing a birthday party are seriously mistaken”—New York Times, 5/12/08), or is part of a compound referring to a country other than Israel, as when Egypt is described as having a “pro-Israeli regime,” or Syria is called an “anti-Israeli regime.”

“Sharon regime” yields four results. There are no results for “Olmert regime.” Since Netanyahu returned to power in 2009, Factiva shows, the only use of “Netanyahu regime” in any of these papers was a Washington Postarticle (3/1/15);  there are three instances of the phrase in these papers from his first go-round (1996–99). The New York Times referred to Israel as the “regime in Jerusalem” once in 1981 (3/2/81) and again in 1994 (1/6/94). “Regime in Tel Aviv” only appears when it’s part of a quote from someone criticizing Israel.

Calling a government a “regime” suggests a lack of legitimacy, with the implication that its ousting (by whatever means) would serve humanitarian and democratic ends; it’s no accident that the phrase is “regime change,” not “government change” or “administration change.” The obverse is also true: The authority of a “government” is more apt to be seen as legitimate,  with resistance to it or defense against it frequently depicted as criminal or terroristic. Thus corporate media help instruct the population that the enemies of the US ruling class need to be eliminated, while its friends deserve protection.

*

Gregory Shupak teaches media studies at the University of Guelph-Humber in Toronto. His book, The Wrong Story: Palestine, Israel and the Media, is published by OR Books.

Featured image is from the author.

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Today it seems like we are in another Cold War. It was breathtaking to watch our PM Theresa May immediately blaming Russia for the poisoning of the Skripals before the police had conducted their investigation into the evidence.

Growing up after the Second World War our news was dominated by the threat from the Soviet Union, but when the Soviet Union dissolved in 1991 I don’t think anyone could have guessed that just over two decades later we would be once again talking about the threat from Russia. Anyone who only gets their news from the British or American media is kept in ignorance of the truth; the endless accusations about the Skirpal poisoning or the conflict over Crimea is presented in a completely biased way in which most of the facts are ignored. But there is nothing new about this: dishonest reporting and lies dominated the whole of the Cold War in the days of the Soviet Union.

Although President John Kennedy in the United States started out with quite a right-wing agenda with one of his 1960 election promises being to close the missile gap with the Soviet Union, he rapidly changed and began to throw the weight of his administration behind the struggle to end racism in America’s deep south. Also, if he hadn’t been assassinated, he was planning to withdraw American troops from Vietnam if he had been re-elected in 1964 because he realized a full-scale war in Vietnam would be a disaster.

What changed his politics so much were his conflicts with the military. He had only been president a few days before they got him to continue with the planned invasion of Cuba by a small band of Cuban dissidents. The military told him that the invasion would lead to an uprising and the overthrow of Fidel Castro so America would not need to provide any air support for the invasion of the Bay of Pigs. But no sooner had the rebels landed, than the Pentagon was insisting that Kennedy agree to American air strikes on Cuba. Kennedy realized he had been lied to and refused. I would love to be able to go back in time and tell him that Castro’s regime would outlast the reign of twelve US presidents, eight of whom, including Kennedy, authorized assassination attempts on Castro, all of which failed.

Kennedy had already been shocked to discover that his campaign pledge to close the missile gap with Russia was nonsense. At his first military briefing he was told that the Soviet Union had four nuclear missiles capable of landing in the USA whereas the USA had three hundred and fifty capable of obliterating the Soviet Union.

It says a lot about the way we are lied to by governments that a man who had been a senator for eight years and was on the verge of becoming president was as completely ignorant about the truth of America’s nuclear superiority as were all the rest of us. Kennedy’s predecessor, Republican President Eisenhower, had tried to warn the American people about the growth of the power of the military industrial complex in his final television address before his presidency ended but nothing has changed and if anything it has become more powerful over the American government today than it was then when half the federal government’s budget was being spent on the military. Given that President Eisenhower had been the most senior military official in America before he became president, his warning is quite remarkable.

The lies about Russia’s military predominance are being echoed again today over issues like the Crimea. I have never seen anything in the British media that reports the fact that over ninety percent of the people living in the Crimea are Russian. Nor have I ever seen it reported in the media that the Crimea was never a part of Ukraine until 1954 when the Soviet Union’s then leader Nikita Khrushchev switched the boundaries to include the Crimea inside Ukraine. He might be that he did this simply because he was himself born and brought up in the Ukraine but there have always been rumours that he was very drunk when he took the decision but I’ve never seen that reported in the British media.

Although Britain and America have imposed sanctions on Russia for incorporating the Crimea the history of what happened is of course very different. The centre and west of Ukraine is dominated by Ukrainians and during the Second World War many Ukrainians collaborated with the Nazi regime after it invaded Ukraine on its way to Moscow and a couple of years later as the Soviet army pushed back the Nazis many Ukrainians fought with the Nazis against the Soviet army. So no-one should be surprised that the people of the Crimea and the Russian dominated Eastern part of Ukraine had worries and doubts about the Ukrainian government and its attitude towards them after the dissolution of the Soviet Union.

What triggered this crisis was not a Russian invasion but the overthrow of the then moderate Ukrainian government under President Viktor Yanukovych. Back in November 2013 Yanukovych announced he was delaying the signing of an economic treaty with the European Union because it would have terminated the Ukraine’s trading and economic relations with its main economic partner Russia. Why the EU was demanding this change which would clearly damage the economy of Ukraine has never been revealed.

Following Yanukovych’s announcement demonstrators occupied the Ukrainian capital’s central square, Maidan, protesting against his decision but the protests and rallies became violent and led to the overthrow of the president on February 22, 2014.

The protests were led by extreme Ukrainian nationalists and paramilitary groups whose policies echoed much of the fascist ideology including the use of Nazi symbols and racist slogans, calling for the ethnic cleansing of the Russians living in Ukraine.

Britain, the USA and the EU supported the coup that overthrew President Yanukovych. There is now a considerable degree of evidence that western intelligence agencies were involved in encouraging these far-right groups over many decades following the end of the Second World War.

The new Ukrainian government claimed that the number of people shot dead had been killed by the government’s security forces and Russians posing as Ukrainians. Those allegations were blown away when the Italian TV website Eyes Of War showed a documentary interviewing three ex-military snipers from Georgia who admitted they had been hired by the insurgents and had been partly responsible for the shootings. No western government has talked about sanctions against Georgia.

Clearly the overthrow of the government and its replacement by a far-right anti-Russian regime spurred the fear of ethnic cleansing and led to the Russian majority in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine deciding they would not remain under the new Ukrainian regime and so they fought to defend themselves. Russians living in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine should have the same right to self-determination as should be the case around the whole of the world.

None of this is new, just a few years earlier in 2014 a Malaysian aeroplane was shot down as it passed over Ukraine in July. Immediately Western media said that this had been done by a Russian missile. But nowhere in the Western media was it revealed that the missile used was so old that they had been taken out of service by the Russian government years before. Following the chaotic break up of the old Soviet Union its wholly possible that several of these old missiles were retained, perhaps even by far-right groups in the Ukraine.

It takes decades for the truth to come out. We now know that when Tony Blair told us that Iraq had weapons of mass destruction that could reach Britain within 45 minutes and President Bush claimed Iraq had amassed a huge stockpile of uranium that this was completely untrue, but it led to the death of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis.

As a young man I remember back in 1964 the American government announcing that one of their battleships has been attacked by North Vietnam and this led to their mass bombing and full-scale war leading to the deaths of over three and a half million people. Twenty years later the truth came out that there had never been an attack on that American ship.

The earliest lie I remember was when I was just eleven years old and Britain and France announced they were invading Egypt to stop the war between Egypt and Israel. All the politicians behind that lie were dead long before the truth emerged that Britain and France had asked Israel to invade Egypt so that this would give Britain and France the chance to overthrow Nasser’s Egyptian government and take back control of the Suez Canal.

Always be careful about what you believe.

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Featured image is from Newsbud.

Saying Goodbye to Planet Earth

August 21st, 2018 by Chris Hedges

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The spectacular rise of human civilization—its agrarian societies, cities, states, empires and industrial and technological advances ranging from irrigation and the use of metals to nuclear fusion—took place during the last 10,000 years, after the last ice age. Much of North America was buried, before the ice retreated, under sheets eight times the height of the Empire State Building. This tiny span of time on a planet that is 4.5 billion years old is known as the Holocene Age. It now appears to be coming to an end with the refusal of our species to significantly curb the carbon emissions and pollutants that might cause human extinction. The human-induced change to the ecosystem, at least for many thousands of years, will probably make the biosphere inhospitable to most forms of life.

The planet is transitioning under our onslaught to a new era called the Anthropocene. This era is the product of violent conquest, warfare, slavery, genocide and the Industrial Revolution, which began about 200 years ago, and saw humans start to burn a hundred million years of sunlight stored in the form of coal and petroleum. The numbers of humans climbed to over 7 billion. Air, water, ice and rock, which are interdependent, changed. Temperatures climbed. The Anthropocene, for humans and most other species, will most likely conclude with extinction or a massive die-off, as well as climate conditions that will preclude most known life forms. We engineered our march toward collective suicide although global warming was first identified in 1896 by the Swedish scientist Svante Arrhenius.

The failure to act to ameliorate global warming exposes the myth of human progress and the illusion that we are rational creatures. We ignore the wisdom of the past and the stark scientific facts before us. We are entranced by electronic hallucinations and burlesque acts, including those emanating from the centers of power, and this ensures our doom. Speak this unpleasant truth and you are condemned by much of society. The mania for hope and magical thinking is as seductive in the Industrial Age as it was in pre-modern societies.

Ate and Nemesis were minor deities who were evoked in ancient Greek drama. Those infected with hubris, the Greeks warned, lost touch with the sacred, believed they could defy fate, or fortuna, and abandoned humility and virtue. They thought of themselves as gods. Their hubris blinded them to human limits and led them to carry out acts of suicidal folly, embodied in the god Ate. This provoked the wrath of the gods. Divine retribution, in the form of Nemesis, led to tragedy and death and then restored balance and order, once those poisoned with hubris were eradicated. “Too late, too late you see the path of wisdom,” the Chorus in the play “Antigone” tells Creon, ruler of Thebes, whose family has died because of his hubris.

“We’re probably not the first time there’s been a civilization in the universe,” Adam Frank, a professor of astrophysics at the University of Rochester and the author of “Light of the Stars: Alien Worlds and the Fate of the Earth,” told me when we met in New York.

“The idea that we’re destroying the planet gives us way too much credit,” he went on. “Certainly, we’re pushing the earth into a new era. If we look at the history of the biosphere, the history of life on earth, in the long run, the earth is just going to pick that up and do what is interesting for it. It will run new evolutionary experiments. We, on the other hand, may not be a part of that experiment.”

Civilizations probably have risen elsewhere in the universe, developed complex societies and then died because of their own technological advances. Every star in the night sky is believed to be circled by planets, some 10 billion trillion of which astronomers such as Frank Drake estimate are hospitable to life.

“If you develop an industrial civilization like ours, the route is going to be the same,” Adam Frank said. “You’re going to have a hard time not triggering climate change.”

Astronomers call the inevitable death of advanced civilizations across the universe “the great filter.” Robin Hanson in the essay, “The Great Filter—Are We Almost Past It?” argues that advanced civilizations hit a wall or a barrier that makes continued existence impossible. The more that human societies evolve, according to Hanson, the more they become “energy intensive” and ensure their own obliteration. This is why, many astronomers theorize, we have not encountered other advanced civilizations in the universe. They destroyed themselves.

“For a civilization to destroy itself through nuclear war, it has to have certain emotional characteristics,” Frank said. “You can imagine certain civilizations saying, ‘I’m not building those [nuclear weapons]. Those are crazy.’ But climate change, you can’t get away from. If you build a civilization, you’re using huge amounts of energy. The energy feeds back on the planet, and you’re going to push yourself into a kind of Anthropocene. It’s probably universal.”

Frank said that our inability to project ourselves into a future beyond our own life spans makes it hard for us to grasp the reality and consequences of severe climate change. Scenarios for dramatic climate change often center around the year 2100, when most adults living now will be dead. Although this projection may turn out to be overly optimistic given the accelerating rate of climate change, it allows societies to ignore—because it is outside the life span of most living adults—the slow-motion tsunami that is occurring.

“We think we’re not a part of the biosphere—that we’re above it—that we’re special,” Frank said. “We’re not special.”

“We’re the experiment that the biosphere is running now,” he said. “A hundred million years ago, it was grassland. Grasslands were a new evolutionary innovation. They changed the planet, changed how the planet worked. Then the planet went on and did things with it. Industrial civilization is the latest experiment. We will keep being a part of that experiment or, with the way that we’re pushing the biosphere, it will just move on without us.”

“We have been sending probes to every other planet in the solar system for the last 60 years,” he said. “We have rovers running around on Mars. We’ve learned generically how planets work. From Venus, we’ve learned about the runaway greenhouse effect. On Venus the temperature is 800 degrees. You can melt lead [there]. Mars is a totally dry, barren world now. But it used to have an ocean. It used to be a blue world. We have models that can predict the climate. I can predict the weather on Mars tomorrow via these climate models. People who think the only way we can understand climate is by studying the earth now, that’s completely untrue. These other worlds—Mars, Venus, Titan. Titan is a moon of Saturn that has an amazingly rich atmosphere. They all teach us how to think like a planet. They have taught us generically how planets behave.”

Frank points out that much of the configurations of the ecosystem on which we depend have not always been part of the planet’s biosphere. This includes the Gulf Stream, which carries warm water and warm air up from Florida to Boston and out across the Atlantic.

“Hundreds of millions of people in some of Earth’s most technologically advanced cities rely on the mild climate delivered by the Gulf Stream,” Frank writes in “Light of the Stars.” “But the Gulf Stream is nothing more than a particular circulation pattern formed during a particular climate state the Earth settled into after the last ice age ended. It is not a permanent fixture of the planet.”

“Everything we think about the earth just happens to be this one moment we found it in,” he told me. “We’re pushing it [the planet] and we’re pushing it hard. We don’t have much time to make these transitions. What people have to understand is that climate change is our cosmic adolescence. We should have expected this. The question is not ‘did we change the climate?’ It’s ‘of course we changed the climate. What else did you expect to have happened?’ We’re like a teenager who has been given this power over ourselves. Just like how you give a teenager the keys to the car, there’s this moment where you’re like, ‘Oh my God I hope you make it.’ And that’s what we are.”

“Climate change is not a problem we have to make go away, in a sense that you don’t make adolescence go away,” Frank said. “It is a dangerous transition that you have to navigate. … The question is are we smart enough to deal with the effects of our own power? Climate change is not a pollution problem. It’s not like any environmental problem we’ve faced before. In some sense, it’s not an environmental problem but a planetary transition. We’ve already pushed the earth into it. We’re going to have to evolve a new way of being a civilization, fundamentally.”

“We will either evolve those group behaviors quickly or the earth will take what we’ve given it, in terms of new climate states, and move on and create new species,” he said.

Frank said the mathematical models for the future of the planet have three trajectories. One is a massive die-off of perhaps 70 percent of the human population and then an uneasy stabilization. The second is complete collapse and extinction. The third is a dramatic reconfiguration of human society to protect the biosphere and make it more diverse and productive not for human beings but for the health of the planet. This would include halting our consumption of fossil fuels, converting to a plant-based diet and dismantling the animal agriculture industry as well as greening deserts and restoring rainforests.

There is, Frank warned, a tipping point when the biosphere becomes so degraded no human activity will halt runaway climate change. He cites Venus again.

“The water on Venus got lost slowly,” he said. “The CO2 built up. There was no way to take it out of the atmosphere. It gets hotter. The fact that it gets hotter makes it even hotter. Which makes it even hotter. That’s what would happen in the collapse model. Planets have minds of their own. They are super-complex systems. Once you get the ball rolling down the hill. … This is the greatest fear. This is why we don’t want to go past 2 degrees [Celsius] of climate change. We’re scared that once you get past 2 degrees, the planet’s own internal mechanisms kick in. The population comes down like a stone. A complete collapse. You lose the civilization entirely.”

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Chris Hedges is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, New York Times best selling author, former professor at Princeton University, activist and ordained Presbyterian minister. He writes a weekly column for the website Truthdig in Los Angeles, run by Robert Scheer, and hosts a show, On Contact, on RT America.

Featured image is from Mr. Fish.

Canada Should Not Accept White Helmets as Refugees

August 21st, 2018 by Prof. John Ryan

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America’s media’s propaganda is designed to not only affect the USA, but also most of America’s allies, including Canada. A recent prime example is how Syria’s White Helmets have been groomed by the media as courageous heroes who now need a place of refuge since the war is Syria is almost over. In response to this, Canada has offered to take in about 50 of them along with 200 of their family members.

A courageous Canadian investigative journalist, Eva Bartlett, has recently reported that the White Helmets:

“Packaged as neutral, heroic, volunteer rescuers, who have “saved 115,000 lives”, according to White Helmets leader Raed Al Saleh, they are in reality a massively Western-funded organization with salaried volunteers, and have no documentation of those 115,000 saved. They contain numerous members who have participated in or supported criminal acts in Syria, including torture, assassinations, beheading, and kidnapping of civilians, as well as inciting Western military intervention in Syria.”

As renowned journalist John Pilger put it, the White Helmets are a “propaganda construct,” an Al Qaeda support group, whose prime purpose is to try to put a veneer of respectability on the vile head-chopping terrorists in Syria. The White Helmets have never operated anywhere in Syria except in areas that had been occupied by al-Qaeda affiliated groups such as Al-Nusra and Jaish al-Islam, even ISIS. In fact, their base of operations is frequently close to the headquarters of a terrorist group. 

Further on this, Vanessa Beeley, a British journalist who has often reported from nearby fighting zones in Syria, wrote a detailed article:

noting that just 200 metres from the White Helmets centre in the then terrorist occupied part of Aleppo, was the city square where in July 2016 a 12-year old Palestinian boy, Abdullah Issa, was savagely tortured and then slowly beheaded with a short knife. As she reported, “Issa begged his torturers to shoot him, but he was decapitated and his head was held aloft by his executioner standing on the back of a pick-up truck.” There was never a mention of this by the White Helmets. 

The White Helmets organization was created and funded by US and British efforts back in March of 2013, with an initial input of $23 million by USAID (US Agency for International Development). Since then they’ve received over $100 million, including at least Can$7.5 million.  Max Blumenthal has explored in some detail the various funding resources and relationships that the White Helmets draw on, mostly in the United States and Europe.  Overall, the CIA has spent over $1 billion on arming and training the so-called Syrian “rebels” who in actuality constitute a variety of Al Qaeda forces.  

Philip Giraldi in a detailed recent article stated that at the present time there is no bigger fraud than the story of the “heroic” White Helmets. The story that’s been put forth is that with the Syrian army closing in on the last White Helmet affiliates still fighting in the country, the Israeli government, aided by the USA, “staged an emergency humanitarian evacuation” of 800 White Helmet members, including their families, to Israel and then on to Jordan. Pleas were then put forth to resettle them in the USA, Britain, Germany and other countries. 

As Giraldi explains, more than likely the USA urged Israel “to rescue” these White Helmets not because they would have been killed by the Syrian forces, but because their capture by the Syrians would have produced embarrassing revelations about how the group was funded and what its affiliation with terrorists was all about. 

Giraldi continues to say that

“Israel’s celebrated rescue of the White Helmets was little more than a theatrical performance intended to perpetuate the myth that the al-Assad government was thwarted in an attempt to capture and possibly kill an honorable non-partisan group engaged in humanitarian relief for those caught up in a bloody conflict seeking to oust a ruthless dictator. The reality is quite different. The White Helmets were and are part and parcel of the attempt to overthrow a legitimate government and install a regime friendly to western, American and Israeli interests.”

With substantial irrefutable evidence indicating that the White Helmets are a dangerous and fraudulent group, how is it that Canada’s Foreign Minister, Chrystia Freeland, addressed them as “courageous volunteers” and immediately pledged to accept 50 White Helmets and around 200 family members? There was no vote in Parliament on this or any public discussion. 

This is particularly galling, since as Eva Bartlett said in her previously cited article: 

Why did the Canadian government refuse the entry of 100 injured Palestinian children from Gaza in 2014, a truly humanitarian effort, and yet will fast-track the entry of potentially dangerous men with potential ties to terrorists?” 

And where is the New Democratic Party on this? So far not a murmur from them on this issue has been reported in the media. But is this surprising considering that the NDP urged the federal government in 2016 to nominate the White Helmets for the Nobel Peace Prize? At that time I denounced their naïve and ill-advised action in an open letter to the party. Fortunately, at that time Canada’s Foreign Minister Stéphane Dion ignored the NDP request. 

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John Ryan, Ph.D., is a Retired Professor of Geography and a Senior Scholar at the University of Winnipeg.

Protectionism Abroad and Socialism at Home

August 21st, 2018 by Rep. Ron Paul

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One of the most insidious ways politicians expand government is by creating new programs to “solve” problems created by politicians. For example, government interference in health care increased health care costs, making it difficult or even impossible for many to obtain affordable, quality care. The effects of these prior interventions were used to justify Obamacare.

Now, the failures of Obamacare are being used to justify further government intervention in health care. This does not just include the renewed push for socialized medicine. It also includes supporting new laws mandating price transparency. The lack of transparency in health care pricing is a direct result of government policies encouraging overreliance on third-party payers.

This phenomenon is also observed in foreign policy. American military interventions result in blowback that is used to justify more military intervention. The result is an ever-expanding warfare state and curtailments on our liberty in the name of security.

Another example of this is related to the reaction to President Trump’s tariffs. Many of America’s leading trading partners have imposed “retaliatory” tariffs on US goods. Many of these tariffs target agriculture exports. These tariffs could be devastating for American farmers, since exports compose as much as 20 percent of the average farmer’s income.

President Trump has responded to the hardships imposed on farmers by these retaliatory tariffs with a 12 billion dollars farm bailout program. The program has three elements: direct payments to farmers, use of federal funds to buy surplus crops and distribute them to food banks and nutrition programs, and a new federal effort to promote American agriculture overseas.

This program will not fix the problems caused by Tramp’s tariffs. For one thing, the payments are unlikely to equal the money farmers will lose from this trade war. Also, government marketing programs benefit large agribusiness but do nothing to help small farmers. In fact, by giving another advantage to large agribusiness, the program may make it more difficult for small farmers to compete in the global marketplace.

Distributing surplus food to programs serving the needy may seem like a worthwhile use of government funds. However, the federal government has neither constitutional nor moral authority to use money taken by force from taxpayers for charitable purposes. Government-funded welfare programs also crowd out much more effective and compassionate private efforts. Of course, if government regulations such as the minimum wage and occupational licensing did not destroy job opportunities, government farm programs did not increase food prices, and the Federal Reserve’s inflationary policies did not continuously erode purchasing power, the demand for food aid would be much less. By increasing spending and debt, the agriculture bailout will do much more to create poverty than to help the needy.

Agriculture is hardly the only industry suffering from the new trade war. Industries — such as automobile manufacturing — that depend on imports for affordable materials are suffering along with American exporters. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka (who supports tariffs) has called for bailouts of industries negatively impacted by tariffs. He is likely to be joined in his advocacy by crony capitalists seeking another government handout.

More bailouts will only add to the trade war’s economic damage by increasing government spending and hastening the welfare–warfare state’s collapse and the rejection of the dollar’s world reserve currency status. Instead of trying to fix tariffs-caused damage through more corporate welfare, President Trump and Congress should pursue a policy of free markets and free trade for all and bailouts for none.

America’s Fake “Reconstruction” Money to Syria

August 21st, 2018 by Andrew Korybko

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Trump didn’t pull $230 million worth of reconstruction assistance for Syria just because he’s stingy, but because he knew that American interests would be served better and more cost-effectively if he got Saudi Arabia and its partners to take the lead in doing this instead. 

Most people saw the writing on the wall earlier this year when Trump froze the $230 million that the US earmarked for Syria, but it was still a news event in and of itself when he tweeted over the weekend that:

“The United States has ended the ridiculous 230 Million Dollar yearly development payment to Syria. Saudi Arabia and other rich countries in the Middle East will start making payments instead of the U.S. I want to develop the U.S., our military and countries that help us!”

This was preceded by reports that Saudi Arabia committed $100 million to this project out of the total $300 million that the US said that it raised from its coalition allies for this effort.

On the surface, it might look like Trump was just being stingy and didn’t want to continue funding this program, but there’s actually a lot more to do it. The US has been advancing the “Lead From Behind” strategy in recent years whereby it seeks to have its regional partners take the lead in pertinent operations of shared interest while Washington assists them with logistics, advisory, and other forms of behind-the-scenes support. The guiding concept is for other countries to share the so-called “burden” of upholding the American-led international order, which has become increasingly expensive for the US in economic, military, and political terms to maintain.

The reprioritization of American military focus from West Asia (the Mideast) to East Asia in order to “contain” China could create a so-called “leadership void” that could be exploited by its Russian, Iranian, and increasingly, Turkish rivals if the US didn’t encourage its regional partners like Saudi Arabia to replace its presence there. To be clear, the US isn’t “withdrawing” from the Mideast, but is just scaling back its conventional footprint in this part of the world, opting instead for smaller but more strategic deployments that allow it to do more with less, such as in the case of Syria.

The US’ estimated 2000 troops and 20 or so bases there have succeeded in drawing a proverbial (and in a sense, almost literal) “line in the sand” that deterred Damascus from commencing a liberation operation in the Kurdish-controlled but nevertheless Arab-majority northeast corner of the country. It’s conceivable that the US might partially withdraw its forces in the coming future as part of a peace deal for politically ending the war, but only under the condition that this part of Syria receives “self-government” as one of the outcomes of the ongoing constitutional reform process that was originally mandated by UNSC Res. 2254.

Northeastern Syria is the most agriculturally, hydrologically, and energy-rich part of the Arab Republic, which thus makes it the key to controlling the rest of the rump state and explaining why the US won’t seriously consider decreasing its conventional military presence there unless Damascus caves in to Washington’s implied “decentralization” demands. Enticing other regional powers such as Saudi Arabia and its GCC allies to deepen their investment in this part of the country concurrent with the US decreasing its own is a clever calculation designed to make them stakeholders in the success of its “self-government” scheme during the ongoing constitutional reform negotiations.

Neither the US nor Saudi Arabia want to see Damascus reasserting its constitutional legitimacy over this strategic corner of Syria, though Washington is tired of paying the cost to keep the region de-facto independent, hence why it thought it better to convince Riyadh to invest here and obtain some “skin in the game”. Not only could the Kingdom immensely profit from rebuilding this resource-rich space, but it could also establish a strategic – and possibly eventually military – presence along the southern Turkish border as a symmetrical response to Turkey’s new base in neighboring Qatar. The self-interests driving this strategy are well-known to American decision makers and evidently exploited by them.

On its own, the US is more than capable of ensuring that Damascus doesn’t militarily liberate the northeast, but it would rather share the cost of doing so with Saudi Arabia and others. Moreover, granting Riyadh the opportunity to profit from this arrangement and simultaneously respond to Ankara’s military deal with its Qatari rival can contribute to keeping the Kingdom in the American sphere of influence despite its recent outreaches to Moscow and Beijing. As the saying goes, “why do for yourself what others can do for you?”, and Trump the businessman understands this much better than any of his predecessors, which is why he’s more than eager to get the Saudis involved in northeastern Syria.

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This article was originally published on InfoRos.

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

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There are few places in Israel where its apartheid character is more conspicuous than the imposing international airport just outside Tel Aviv, named after the country’s founding father, David Ben Gurion.

Most planes landing in Israel have to circle over the West Bank before making their descent. Below, more than two million Palestinians living under cruel Israeli occupation are barred from using the airport. Instead, they depend on capricious decisions from military officers on whether they will be allowed to cross a land border into Jordan. 

They are comparatively better off than nearly two million more Palestinians in besieged Gaza, who are denied even that minimal freedom.

Meanwhile, a similar number of Palestinians living ostensibly as citizens inside Israel have to run a gauntlet of racial profiling checks before they can board a flight. 

Armed security guards at the perimeter entrance listen for Hebrew spoken with an Arab accent. Passports are branded with barcodes that can entail humiliating interrogations, delays, strip searches and security escorts on to planes. 

Security alone could never have justified the arbitrary and sweeping nature of these decades-old practices against Israel’s largely quiescent Palestinian minority. 

Racial profiling at the airport was always chiefly about controlling and intimidating Palestinians, collecting information on them and ghettoising them. Palestinians struggled to get out, while Arabs and Muslims struggled to get in. 

But these efforts to “lock in” Palestinians have become all but futile in recent years as globalisation has shrunk the world. Prevent a Palestinian attending a conference in New York or Paris and they will deliver their talk via Skype instead. 

But the controls long endured by Palestinians and Arabs are now being turned more agressively against other kinds of supporters. With escalating criticism worldwide and the rapid growth of an international boycott movement, the circle of people Israel wishes to “lock out” is growing rapidly. 

For foreigners, Ben Gurion airport is the gateway not only to Israel but to the occupied territories. It is the main way they can witness firsthand the appalling conditions Israel has imposed on many millions of Palestinians. 

There is an ever-growing list of academics, lawyers, human rights groups, opponents of the occupation and boycott supporters detained by Israel on arrival and subjected to questioning about their political views. Afterwards they are denied entry or required to keep out of the occupied territories. 

In an ever more interconnected world, Israel can identify those it wants to exclude simply by scouring Twitter or Facebook. 

The problem for Israel is that increasingly those most critical of it include Jews. 

That should be no surprise. If Israel argues that it represents Jews everywhere, some may feel they have a right to speak out in protest. Recent polls suggest that an ideological gulf is opening up between Israel and many of the Jews overseas it claims to speak for. 

The latest victim of Israel’s political profiling is Peter Beinart, a prominent American-Jewish commentator. He regularly appears on CNN, contributes to prestigious US publications and is a columnist for the Jewish weekly Forward. 

Last week Beinart revealed that he had been detained on landing at Ben Gurion, separated from his wife and children and “interrogated about my political activities” for an hour. After repeated assurances that he was simply attending a family bat mitzvah, officials allowed him in. 

Beinart is no Noam Chomsky or Norman Finkelstein, dissident Jewish thinkers who have harshly criticised Israel’s policies – and been denied entry as a result.

His views echo those of many liberal American Jews no longer willing to turn a blind eye to Israel’s systematic abuses of Palestinians. In detaining him, Israel effectively declared that it no longer represents millions of Jews overseas. It made clear that the core message of Zionism – that Israel was created as a sanctuary for all Jews – is no longer true. 

The right-wing government of prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu wants fealty from Jews overseas – public support, donations, lobbying on domestic governments – but not their opinions. 

Further, Netanyahu’s Israel wants Jewry divided, with Israel determining which Jews are considered good and which bad. The measure of their virtue is no longer their support for a Jewish state but blind allegiance to the occupation and a Greater Israel lording it over Palestinians. 

That divide is increasingly apparent inside Israel too, with growing numbers of dissident Israeli Jews reporting that they have been pulled aside for questioning on landing at Ben Gurion. They are being explicitly warned off political activism, in a setting intended to imply that their continued citizenship should not be taken for granted. 

After an outcry over Beinart’s detention, Netanyahu made a formulaic apology, calling his treatment an “administrative error”.

Few believe him. Israel’s liberal daily Haaretz called it the latest “systematic error”. The paper argued that in the “best tradition of benighted regimes”, Israel had drawn up “blacklists to silence criticism and to intimidate those who don’t toe the line”. 

Certainly, the current questioning and bullying – not as passengers prepare to board a flight but as they arrive in Israel – has little to do with security, any more than it does when Palestinians and other Arabs are abused at the airport. 

Rather, Netanyahu wants to send a loud message to progressive Jews in Israel and abroad:

“You are no longer automatically considered part of the Zionist project. We will judge whether you are friend or foe.” 

That is intended to have a chilling effect on progressive Jews and send the message that, if they want to visit family in Israel or attend a wedding, funeral or a bar mitzvah, they should stay loyal or keep quiet. From now on, they must understand that they are being monitored on social media. 

These are just the opening salvos in the Israeli right’s war against Jewish dissent. It is a slope liberal Jews will find gets ever more slippery.


A version of this article first appeared in the National, Abu Dhabi. 

Jonathan Cook won the Martha Gellhorn Special Prize for Journalism. His books include “Israel and the Clash of Civilisations: Iraq, Iran and the Plan to Remake the Middle East” (Pluto Press) and “Disappearing Palestine: Israel’s Experiments in Human Despair” (Zed Books). His website is www.jonathan-cook.net.

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There he is in my six-year-old notebook, very much alive, still demanding peace with the Palestinians, peace with Hamas, and generosity and a Palestinian state on the old 1967 borders – and he believes Israel could have peace tomorrow

***

It was somehow fitting that first news of Uri Avnery’s plight should reach me from one of Israel’s staunchest enemies, the Lebanese Druze leader Walid Jumblatt. One legend sending sad news of another, you see, a socialist preparing to mourn a fellow socialist, sending his sympathy for the 94-year-old Israeli political philosopher. That same philosopher was once a German Jewish schoolboy, originally called Helmut Ostermann, who refused to give the Hitler salute at school, but who was, when I received Jumblatt’s message – still, just – “an indispensable mind to understand the history of fascism, a major destructive element of the 20th century”. Jumblatt’s words. Avnery, he added, also understood “the history of Zionism, another despicable apartheid theory that is an offshoot of fascism”.

Uri Avnery suffered a massive heart attack at the weekend and died on Monday morning, but he was himself a Zionist, or at least a believer in a left-wing, courageous but humble “light among the nations” Israel; the kind many of us, in our heart of hearts, would like to believe in. He was the sort of Israeli that we bleeding heart liberals go and see when we arrive in Israel because they say what we want to hear.

“Tell Jumblatt that he must break up his sentences into paragraphs,” Avnery told me when I left his Tel Aviv apartment six years ago. “He says everything in one long text and I can hardly breathe.”

Lesson duly passed on to Jumblatt from a man who often wrote single sentence paragraphs, an annoying habit of tabloid journalism which does occasionally get a message across rather well.

I must admit that Uri Avnery was one of my Middle East heroes – there aren’t many – and his story is worthy of a movie, though there will be no Spielbergs to direct it: writer, journalist, leftist, veteran of the Israeli army in the country’s War of Independence – and, as he never forgot, the same war which drove 750,000 Palestinians from their home and lands. He played chess with Arafat during the 1982 siege of Beirut – be sure, this will be in the first two paragraphs of the obituaries today – and his angry but gently cynical newsletters would arrive on Friday afternoons, condemning Netanyahu for his hypocrisy and racism, Sharon for his hatred of Palestinians, missives from a book-crammed home in Tel Aviv, close to the sea but in a modest, quiet street where Avnery could ruminate and roar.

He was a wee bit deaf when I met him again – and for the last time – six years ago, but he spoke so quickly, and in perfect sentences, that my pen skidded over the pages of my notebook until it ran out of ink and I had to steal his own biro. I still have the book, and the ink changes from my black to his pale blue at a point when he is talking at high speed about Hamas, with whom he often met, furious that Gaza had turned into a storyline about rocket attacks and retaliation.

“Whenever either of the two sides want to start shooting again, they will,” he said.

The ink had just changed its colour on the page.

“In Gush Shalom [which Avnery founded], we put out a sticker five years ago, which said: ‘Talk to Hamas’.”

This is not an obituary of Uri Avnery, even though the institution has the great journalistic merit of a story with a beginning, a middle and an end. Because Avnery’s warnings and prescience were so contemporary – so absolutely on-the-ball for today’s news from the Middle East – that they can be repeated now, today, as if the great old leftist warrior is still alive. And there he is in my six-year old notebook, very much alive, still demanding peace with the Palestinians, peace with Hamas, and generosity and a Palestinian state on the old 1967 borders – give or take a few square miles – and he believes Israel could have peace tomorrow, next week. If Netanyahu wanted it. “The misfortune of being an incorrigible optimist,” is how he described his predicament to me. Or perhaps an illusionist?

His family fled Nazi Germany for Palestine and I went to see him again – he who had played chess with Arafat – after the 1982 massacre of up to 1,700 Palestinians in the Sabra and Chatila refugee camps in Beirut, a war crime committed by Israel’s Christian Phalangist allies while Israeli soldiers watched but did not intervene. I had walked across the bodies in the camp. How could the survivors of the Jewish Holocaust and their children let this happen to the Palestinians, I asked Avnery? Avnery was only 63 years old at the time. His reply is worth printing, in full:

“I will tell you something about the Holocaust. It would be nice to believe that people who have undergone suffering have been purified by suffering. But it’s the opposite, it makes them worse. It corrupts. There is something in suffering that creates a kind of egoism. Herzog [the Israeli president at the time] was speaking at the site of the concentration camp at Bergen-Belsen but he spoke only about the Jews. How could he not mention that others – many others – had suffered there? Sick people, when they are in pain, cannot speak about anyone but themselves. And when such monstrous things have happened to your people, you feel nothing can be compared to it. You get a moral ‘power of attorney’, a permit to do anything you want – because nothing can compare to what has happened to us. This is a moral immunity which is very clearly felt in Israel. Everyone is convinced that the IDF is more humane than any other army. ‘Purity of arms’ was the slogan of the Haganah army in ’48. But it never was true at all.”

And Avnery was a member of that army, badly wounded in the 1948 war; he even became a member of the Knesset, but was threatened by the Israeli cabinet after he met Yasser Arafat in Beirut. He should be tried for treason, Israeli ministers said. I think Avnery was rather proud of that. His curmudgeonly, irritating, courageous personality could embrace the occasional political martyrdom, something which modern socialists are almost all too frightened to contemplate.

Netanyahu – six years ago when I last saw Avnery and until the days before his death – enraged the old Israeli soldier of 1948. What was the Gaza war meant to achieve, I asked him in 2012 – for there always has “just been” a Gaza war in recent Israeli history, and the latest, in November of that year, had killed 107 civilians in Gaza and four civilians on the Israeli side of the line. And what was Netanyahu and his government – then and, I suppose, today – doing, I asked him?

Avnery’s eyes sparkled and he spat out his reply.

“You are presuming you know what they [Netanyahu’s government] want and you presume they want peace – and therefore that their policy is stupid or insane. But if you assume they don’t give a damn for peace but want a Jewish state from the Mediterranean to the Jordan River, then what they are doing makes sense up to a point. The trouble is that what they do want is leading into a cul de sac… If they annex the West Bank as they have annexed east Jerusalem, it doesn’t make much of a difference. The trouble is that in this territory which is now dominated by Israel, there are about 49 per cent Jews and 51 per cent Arabs – and this balance will become larger every year because the natural increase on the Arab side is far greater than the natural increase on our side. So the real question is: if this policy goes on, what kind of state will it be? As it is today, it is an apartheid state, a full apartheid in the occupied territories and a growing apartheid in Israel – and if this goes on, it will be full apartheid throughout the country, incontestably.”

The Avnery argument went bleakly on. If the Arab inhabitants are granted civil rights, there will be an Arab majority in the Knesset and the first thing they will do is change the name “Israel” and name the state “Palestine”, “and the whole [Zionist] exercise of the past 130 years has come to naught”. Mass ethnic cleansing would be impossible in the 21st century, Avnery assured me. I wonder.

He often pondered the demise of the Israeli “Left” – they were “hibernating”, he said after Ehud Barack, the (Israeli) Labour leader, had come back from the Camp David talks in 2000 as self-proclaimed leader of the “peace camp”, “and told us we have no partner for peace”. This was a death blow. It was not Netanyahu who said this, but the leader of the Labour Party. This was the end of “Peace Now”.

Perhaps his next words should be written on Avnery’s grave. “When I met Arafat in 1982” – he was to meet him again many times – “the terms were all there. The Palestinian minimum and maximum terms are the same: a Palestinian state next to Israel, comprising the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and East Jerusalem as a capital, small exchanges of land and a symbolic solution to the refugee problem. But this lies on the table like a wilted flower…”

Avnery remained convinced that Hamas would accept the same. He lectured to them in Gaza in 1993, “standing there, facing 500 black-bearded sheikhs, speaking to them in Hebrew – I was applauded and invited to lunch”. For them, Avnery, explained, Palestine is a “waqf” and cannot be handed over, but a truce can be sanctified by God. “If they offered a truce for 50 years, that is personally enough for me.” Sure, he said, the Hamas manifesto wants to destroy Israel. “But abolishing a manifesto is a very difficult thing to do – did the Russians ever abandon the communist manifesto? The PLO did theirs.”

Back then, in 2012, I ended my report on the 89-year old Avnery with the observation that “there are more than a few liberals in Israel who hope that Uri Avnery lives for another 89 years”. Now there are even fewer liberals left, and Avnery lived for less than another six years. There was to have been a 95th birthday party for him in Tel Aviv next month. If they still hold it, however, Avnery’s friends – and enemies – should proclaim that Avnery is dead. But then add: And long live Avnery.

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